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,