Coping: Running Out of Hobbies?

Two very interesting things are going on around the ranch. 

One I mentioned last week – the adventures with the “fallen” intraocular lens which will put Ures truly “under the knife” probably next week. 

The other is my life-long friend who wraps up his visit tomorrow.

Take those items – plus a good sized rain storm through the area – and it got to be an introspective Sunday on the topic of hobbies.

Between his family and ours, most any hobby you can think of has been done – land, sea, and sky.  And lots of hunting, fishing, boating, and so forth.  On his side, camping with a 20’ trailer which he and his wife drag all over the Northwest.

We’re both rabid ham radio types, and an old Heathkit HR-10B receiver was dialed in Saturday.  Sunday a new tuning control for my TenTec Triton 540 was  nwas sidelined for the lack of a tiny Allen wrench.  But when you have combined experience of 100-years in a hobby, a lot of what used to be art and detective work has become flow charts and spot the bad components.  Fun, don’t get me wrong, but more execution of older skills, not new territory.

I think you get to a point in most hobbies where you pretty much master the important aspects and can goo from master to expert to Guru.  Or, you go shopping for another hobby.

A fellow called about our airplane this weekend – and he’s a fine example.  Retired fighter pilot and he sold his boat up in the northwest, so time to get a relaxing cruising airplane for hopping about the country.  He’s 74.  Serial hobbyist, like me.

Welding, lathe work is a lot of fun – useful around the ranch, too, but it’s not the kind of thing you can take into the nursing home stage of life.  Most don’t allow welding. Similarly, not too many have table saws.  Thanks, Liability Lawyers.

After you’ve built a house, pretty much from the ground up including plumbing and everything else, you have to ask whether it would work out any defects by building another one?

This gets to a major Life question that’s worth running through now and then:

Is what I am doing now going to benefit me when, oh, I’m dead, or something like that?

More than ever, I’m convinced that people die earliest who watch television and don’t stay active.  If you’re not in a footrace with old age and Death, you’re going to get caught sooner – just makes sense that way to me.

Equally important is keeping brain working on worthwhile problems.  That might explain my fascination with anti-gravity experiments and such.  Or, it could be a symptom of an oddly presenting dementia.  No telling.

Age, though takes some of the edge off many hobbies, as I am finding out.  A couple of months ago, a friend of mine had to sell his high-end pressurized turboprop because his insurance company was requiring him to just about be in continuous retraining.  He’s just over 80.  Then came a minor nit with his ticker, and there went a great 19-thousand hour flying hobby. Hell of a thing to see happen.

One of the conclusions I came to in my musings, was that sometimes simple is better than complex.

You take fishing, for example: It’s hard to economically justify that hobby in the world anymore.  There simply aren’t the number of fish there once were.  And if you go up to Alaska, thanks Japan for buying those GE reactors, was it? 

The idea of continuously “stocking” fish into lakes may sound sportsmanlike and all, but once you hit the 65 mark, you’ve probably lived through the last of the really great fishing times.  I mean back when a working class fellow could go up to Campbell River and limit out every day he felt like it.  Prices are up and fish in down.

My visiting bud who has been camping at Lake Chelan on the backside of the Washington Cascades has noticed the same kind of thing. 

When he first started going to Chelan back in the mid to late 50’s with his family, you knew it would be too good to last. By the late to mid 1990’s, the billionaires from elsewhere came in and started to displace he locals who had been owners of lakeside property for a couple of generations, in some cases.

As that happened, he reports, people were being paid three to five times then current values of the property and as soon as they moved, here come the bulldozers.  What had been a working class playground at a quite natural level is now highly manicured and quaffed, with multiple golf courses, time-shares, condos, and high end homes. 

The few locals who survived the onslaught of capital were screwed in the end, however.  Reason?  Values went up and someone has to pay for the cost of higher density living.  And the way things work, the billionaires who developed the places passed on those downstream costs to downstream owners.

Not that property development is bad, but we keep coming back to the problem of how too many people is the main problem afoot in the world today.  We don’t have enough resources, a so as a result, we have to keep making up new industries.

The first time I heard about his problem was when I was about 12-years old, I think it was.  Time magazine was doing a story about how some city, or other, was looking at charging people a nickel to use a public toilet.  That seemed to me to be quite offensive, and thankfully, no one has figured out how to monetize restrooms with a cell phone and credit card.  But like my buddy forecasting the bulldozing of the wilderness in the early 1960’s, I’ll tell you right now that the bulldozing is coming for your wallet as we move – ever more – into the Rent Your Life world.

Some hobbies are still cheap.  Singing comes to mind – until you need to buy recording gear.  Writing is cheap, until you start to go through keyboards and computers.  Poetry is good.

Our “house gift” from the visiting chum was a 90-piece art set for Elaine…and I got her a couple of canvases so she’s set to roll on that.  But when I offered her a bigger set of canvases than the 8’-by-10” size, she looked at the house and said “Where would we put it?”  I looked around, it was a good point.  We are not knickknack people.  But she’s a helluva fine artist.

While my friend was off doing something, I found myself looking for a new hobby.

About the most interesting thing I found was learning programming for Arduino and Raspberry Pi.  Having already done the “Pi” thing, I really enjoyed that and getting back into coding a bit might be fun.

Suddenly it hit might like a ton of bricks:  What do I need ANOTHER computer for?  And does the world need still another app or time-sink?

Or, should we be revisting the old technology that got the world this far.  Industrial arts, melting recycled metal, and doing fine furniture instead of this pressed wood junk that people seem to buy by the boxcar loads today.

Interesting problem to spend a few minutes on.  Not sure I came to much – if anything – in the way of conclusions, but if the sight recovery isn’t five-nines in a month, or two, I will possibly have to look at a huge lifestyle rewrite.  Not anxious for that, but next time you sink a lot of dough into a hobby, take my advice and buy used equipment, master the skills, and move on.

It’s the discovery of skills and learning yourself that is the whole game.  Not the actual take of the fish, or the shooting of an animal, or the harvest from a garden, except in this sense:

“I bargained with life for a penny and life would pay me nothing more” is one of my favorite sayings.

I think hobbies are a variation of that “I bargained with life for a (fill in the blank) and having gotten it…on to the next bargaining session.

Or, so it seems this morning.

Tomorrow we will kick around some cool info from our Consulting Astrologer…so be sure to drop by about the same time.

Write when you break-even,


Coping: Running Out of Hobbies? — 12 Comments

  1. I agree I had a few properties that the city wanted out on the East Coast Smithfield packing company is the name but they were bought out by China and the price went like you say 3 to 5 times more heck yeah I saw that I made money off those properties

    • Actually if you want to know why I’m so Hellfire sent on real estate is because the first one I actually made 30 times over what I bought it for now now you know why I’m so much in the real estate and why my future has been guided in that direction

  2. I’m hoping some hobbyist will come up with a way to heat a home without electricity or wood, refrigeration without same, build a free-energy magnetic motor, and alter gardenpool .org’s self-sufficiency home food factory for Chicago/Peoria weather conditions. Most of these cant likely be done.

  3. Just get rid of all your power tools. Taking care of your land and keeping everything repaired would keep you busy, and if you were doing real work, going to bed with the chickens would seem like a good idea. Americans never wear out a pair of shoes, and they never wear out a body either.

    Americans are like that. Work hundreds of hours to accumulate money. Consume tons of resources to buy time saving devices, then spend more money/resources to find something to fill the free time. All of it subsidized by americs’s foreign and economic policies.

    Tell your wife to paint those pictures, then put them up for sale on etsy. Or every few months head for a flea market in the city. They will sell much better if they are framed.

  4. George,

    I too am guy that prefers to do things myself as I just put in a stone backsplash for my bride. Recently, a friend of mine turned me on to a new hobby – repurposing pallets. Oftentimes, you can get them for free and you are only limited by your creativity. For me, I am choosing to forgo a stacked stone look for a project I’ve been stuck on for several months now. The new project – stacked wooden planks made from pallet wood. If I screw it up, out to the burn pit it goes. The loss would only be time as I’ve already scored free pallets. Beats the $2,000.00 in stone (not including the labor.)

    Oh, and some of the leftover backsplash stone make great coasters.


  5. Hey George,

    Thanks from all of us for toughing through on one eye! It’s a gift that you give to all of us, so Thank You!

    I’ve thought long and hard about the same things you have, without the benefit of a better half to balance my POV. I don’t see an immediate threat to a medical myself, but it could happen at any time to any pilot. The driver’s license medical is overdue for Private Pilot, that’s for sure. The other really tough expense is the annual, and I’ve not figured out a good answer for that, other than DIY Experimental.

  6. Poor George … The PACNW must have been a blessed but very sheltered place to grow up in!! George obviously did not have the pleasure that we in the Midwest and Northeast had of actually PAYING for a public toilet stall!! FOR YEARS!!

    Yes …!! They monetized that bodily function and made you pay to engage in it.

    There was a lock on the toilet stall and you put in first your nickle, then later your dime, and still later a quarter, if you wanted to open the door to get in and sit down on the toilet. For men the urinals at least remained free, but women were totally trapped. You NEVER went anywhere in public without some change in your pockets … just in case.

    I personally had to deal with that at major league ballparks, at most public entertainment facilities, and for a while even when I went to a major city Symphony concert!! City park facilities … yep, had to pay for those too!!

    This went on for many many years and it was only in the last 20 or so that the last of those pay toilets totally disappeared, though thankfully they started to decline quite rapidly starting in the mid to late 70’s. Why the sudden decline? Well I am sure the sight I saw a number of times of people squatting in the corner of the rest room taking a dump … or in the enclosed stairwell of a public building taking one, had an effect … :-) … if not on the facilities management at least on the custodian staff!!

    Some things should just be a cost to the greater society … and FREE public toilets at public places where lots of people are expected to be should be one of them!! I am sure the bean counters are frustrated by the “lost revenue” … but I am also sure that the maintenance staff is much happier.

  7. “My visiting bud who has been camping at Lake Chelan on the backside of the Washington Cascades has noticed the same kind of thing.”

    I lived in Cashmere, WA and my extended Aunts and cousins lived in Chelan. The 70’s and 80’s were a wonderful time to be there. Not so much now.

    I remember looking into 15-20 feet deep down water, seeing the bottom of it as if it were a 3 foot drop and all those beautiful fish flashing around swimming. Not so much now.

    I miss those days when it was simpler and didn’t have golf course subdivisions as far as the rich could build em.

  8. as physical capacities decline, one is faced with the opportunity of doing more spiritual practices — IMO, use this opportunity to work diligently on graduating from this school so classes don’t have to be repeated — “the kingdom of Heaven is within” — see you on the other side

  9. At 67 years of age I too lost my medical. Multi-engine Commercial pilot and 13,500 hours flight time with thousands of hours in ground effect. Brought down by MS. Some say it’s the chemicals, I don’t know. I do enjoy your ramblings, we parallel a lot, radio station, early computers, love of technology, sailing, flying. Now I’m looking forward to teaching my great grandkids to fish. Owned 11 airplanes over the years but can’t afford fuel or annual expense now. Sad what America has come to, Church is empty, dindu nuffins rampaging, medical care is horrible, as a Registered Nurse it’s just bad medicine when I have to talk to a non medical Medicare provider to get muscle relaxers for arthritis. How can they turn down cheap meds that have worked for years and tell me I don’t need it. And is against Obamacare to pay cash for it. Worlds in a mess for sure, God, guns, grub and gold. Thanks for all you do… Kiss Elaine for me, she sounds like my better half, makes life worth living…