Coping: The Case of Too Many Hobbies

imageOne of these days, I really need to grow up.

How many hobbies is too many?  I have found out!

I was working on my electronics bench Sunday trying to clean up that part of my life and it occurred to me that yes, a person really can have too many interests and hobbies.

Take that odd little symbol on the right, there.  The triangle is one way to represent an antenna in schematic diagrams use in electronics.  That little crow-footy thing is a ground. 

As in “Hmm…haven’t had time to play with the ham radio equipment much, lately…”  In fact, this was brought to my attention when (about 3:38 PM, I realized I had missed checking into the Texas RACES net a couple of hours earlier.


Emergency nets are important.

But then, too, so is the local repeater Monday Night Social Net which I haven’t checked into for…maybe 6-months now.

Granted, I still do some solid electronics work.  For example, just in the past couple of weeks I have modified all three of our old-style MXL 990 Condenser Microphone studio mics by changing out capacitors, a move which makes a $100 mic sound as good as a $1,000 mic.  And with one more upgrade, about as good as a $5,000 mic, but that would be ridiculous.

(I picked up the mod from Silent Sky Studio over in Alabama, and only works on the old (through-hole, not SMT versions of the 990s…which are getting hard to find.  Check out Microphone-Parts which has updated electronics for the newer MXL’s and new mic capsules, too.)

And Sunday I decided to (once again) try to sort out what’s wrong with an old Swan 350 transceiver.  Got some tubes ordered…and that’s a time-sink, too, because finding vacuum tubes is work.

But there’s a list of 20, or so, decent little (and some big) projects that need to be done to keep the radio gear 100%:  The largest will be bringing down the antenna tower for it’s annual going-over which will involve some welding in order to put the support for the low-band antennas back where it should be. 

As long as it’s down, there’s a new tower raising and lowering motor to be installed and, long as that is going in, some new high-tech plastic line instead of galvanized wire to raise and lower it.  Fortunately, there are some smaller projects (repair the antenna rotator plug, for example, which is a 1/2-hour project, but it will take a half-hour to find the part…I assume you know how many 10-minute projects turn into 5-hour snipe hunts looking for THE critical part.

All of which would be an amusing discussion of a hobby except that list doesn’t begin to list the competing hobbies that are also vying for time.   The new deck railings with the hydroponics on top in some metal gutter, for example, is one of them.  Picked up some of the parts last week.

But for that to come together, it means spending an hour or two up in the greenhouse, because it’s time to get seeds started on the heat mat.

But the really BIG time sink, turns out, has been the airplane.  You don’t just get in and go somewhere…that’d be too easy.

Elaine really likes Santana.  And they will be doing a show over in Biloxi-Gulfport at the Beau Rivage or some such in March.   I know that’s a long ways off, but here’s what happens:

If we drive to Mississippi, it’s almost 400 miles of driving.  At an average speed of 50 MPH that works out to 8-hours by the time you get the poddy stops, gas, stretch legs or a coffee stop…

The airplane turns it into a 2:40 flight, so pop over the morning of the concert.  Can’t do that in the car because the last thing I want to do after sitting 8-hours in a car is go sit some more.

But the closest airport is a 20-minute ride from the hotel/casino.  So that entails a call to the airport to discuss that problem.  Rental car or taxi…turns out to be a push.

And then, since it will be almost spring, the weather research begins.  I don’t do IFR (instrument) flying.  Not that I can’t develop that hobby, too, it’s just more money into the airplane.  66 is coming along sooner than later for Ures truly.  Instruments for the plane and the training would be $4,000 and that doesn’t pencil if you have 5-7 years of flying left. Even I can be that rational.

Course there are other competing hobbies: the shop with all the power tools going unused is a crime against humanity.  So is not using the studio enough…

Oh, and we’re actually going to go on a cruise this winter.  Sure, what’s one more time thing.

Now, I’m not complaining.  Normally balancing all of these things would be trivial if I had nothing else to do.  But work is more important than any of the above, so to me, that one comes first (duh).  And then there’s Peoplenomics, and our little chats here.

There aren’t too many projects left on the house (a week’s worth) but that’s if I am not dealing with website issues, with viruses, with reader feedback, and all the rest.

So the plan (for now) is the balance of this year, we are planning to travel as much as we can.  A cruise, some concerts, a trip to Key West in the airplane, and maybe up to Fairbanks in late summer (this is proving a hard sell to Elaine) and then we plan to sell the air machine.  We’ve seen most of the country already, anyway, except going down to the tip of Florida and we didn’t get any further northeast than Hartford, CT.  Got the other corners covered, though.

Next year, with major house projects done (landscaping finished, hydroponics on the decks installed) that should leave more time for ham radio and music and podcasts, and composing and…

All of which is shared as a cautionary note.

Sometimes I have pointed (in jest) to people who watch sports as a “hobby” and made light of their interest in sports and very little else.

But these people don’t have to worry about keeping the rust of the jointer table, and they don’t have to replace the dad-gum batteries in the drill press laser guide.  The laser light going out on the chop saw doesn’t bother them either.

What’s more, when their kids play sports, they are totally into it.  They know the moves and can actually coach.

With the Super Bowl fast approaching now, I need to cut them some slack.  The whole family gets to use the Big Screen and Home Theater.  Most wives don’t have a driving interest in chop saws.  Fewer still see the pressing need jointers or dovetailing jigs and routers.

So later on this month, if you hear the sound of a chop saw and air tools during The Big Game…that’s would be the greater fool who has fallen into one of life’s most insidious traps:

Too many interests in too many things. Attention Deficit Hobby Disorder is what ADHD really means.

My rock polisher sits in a box too, along with the 49-cc engine to turn one of our bikes into a moped….so let me know how the game was.

(You become a senior citizen when you’d rather shoot landings, work on the garden, or run power tools than look at this year’s crop of vixens cheerleading.  Kinda like a dog chasing a car…what would they do if they caught one?  Especially if they already have one…know what I mean?)

Latest Dieting Research

On a more practical note, I did  have some computer time (4 AM Sunday) to do a little bit of research on how to lose weight.

Scandinavian and Scottish genes like to stay warm when it’s cold out and winter is a tough time to keep fat off.

But it turns out there is some pretty convincing research on something called intermittent fasting.

The way it works is simple enough:  One day you eat about normally.  On alternating days you only eat 1/4 of your normal food intake.

There are several ways to get into this, including the 5:2 method described in the Wall St Journal back in December 2013.

The research also answered another great question for me:  How is it that my wife can still wear the same sized clothes she was wearing in high school?

Well, turns out in the researching, that there’s another way to lose weight:  Eat all your food for the day in a short window of time. 

In Elaine’s case, she rushes around doing homemaker magic and doesn’t slow down for breakfast until 10:30 AM, or so.  And usually, we try to eat around 4 PM, or so, because I don’t like going to bed full.

The payoff seems to be that if you confine your eating to a 6-8 hour window, then your body has the 16-hours it needs in order to drop into fat burning mode.    The research also seems to suggest that the “common wisdom” of eating small bites and this and that throughout the day is actually wrong if losing weight is the goal.

Sure, this keeps the blood sugar levels normalized, but if you’re going to lose weight in a serious way, you need to go 16-hours (or longer) with minimal food.  And there was even some discussion about an “eating every other day” approach.

That latter idea has a certain sensibility to it (not that I’m going to be that sensible!) in that wandering humans didn’t always have 3 to 6 squares per day.  In fact, they often got only a meal every day or two…or in the case of Roman Legions, they might get a bite of something for breakfast and then march until dark and then get some vittles.

The key (for me) is to begin the fasting upon waking.  That way, I am already past the “sugar burn” part and I can make it till dinnertime.

What screws me up is eating breakfast.  That starting me being hungry for the rest of the day.

None of this is medical advice, see your doctor before yada, yada…but it’s a ripe research area is you are finding those few extra pounds from the holidays are sticking around a bit longer than desired. 

There’s a Wikipedia entry on intermittent fasting over here.  Just remember as you read anything in the field that there are billions upon billions of dollars tied up in the whole business of selling diet whatevers…and those people can edit Wikis, too.

The way I look at it (already having found what really works great in terms of vitamins and energy levels) is the more a diet regimen costs, the less likely I’m inclined to try it.  I’d recommend a similar level of skepticism…

Around the Ranch

I mean besides running out of time for my own life?

Congratulations to George II who completed his annual re-cert to be an EMT-trainer.

Also of (possible) interest:  We removed Zeus’s “cat knocker.”

If you remember a while back, I told you about putting a sliding piece of wood up on the door jam so the cat could knock when he wants in.

Well, it was taken down this weekend.  The cat loved it, but going in and out a couple of times an hour is a bit much.  Reminds me of when the kids were young – not a moment’s peace to actually settle down into some serious work before…”knock, knock…

I bet you didn’t know there are a whole series of videos made to entertain cats why humans are busy…

DVD For Cats: While You Are Gone

And…Movies For Cats – The Audio-Visual Cat Toy – Vol.1 : Animals That Cats Love – DVD Video – The Fascinating New TV Experience For You And Your Cat – The Gift 2014: Birthday or Easter Gifts For Cats / Gifts For Cat Friends, Cat Lovers And Cat Fans – New Cat Movie Toys.

Right about here I get to thinking we’ve all crash-landed on a planet inhabited with aliens that look suspiciously like us but which have had their brain-wiring scrambled all spaghetti-like.

Then I look at the headlines (and who’s in office)  and I’m certain of it.

The absolute clincher?  A look at the calendar argues this is Monday on whatever planet this is…and looks like we’re stuck here for another week…

Write when you break-even (or when you buy your cat an outdoor LCD TV to watch cat-movies on…that’s what Zeus is lobbying for.  He hasn’t been the same since we took the big screen away from the goats a couple of years back. Shortly thereafter, they petitioned for a new foster home and all 33 of the lil buggers went down the road.  Or, something like that…)


30 thoughts on “Coping: The Case of Too Many Hobbies”

  1. There is compelling research by Dr. Perlmutter, Grain Brain and Dr. Davis, Wheat Belly that grains, sugar and processed foods are expanding one’s waistline as well as causing brain issues. Grains create inflammation in one’s body. Inflammation is the underlying cause for nearly all diseases and autoimmune disorders.

    You may also enjoy the documentary Fed Up with Katie Couric discussing the sugar industry and their insidious SOPs.

    Happy New Year and Bon Appetit.

    • The hell of it is that I know it’s true. I can drop 5 pounds or more in a week from knocking off grain (including spirits of same and going to wine). Daughter (Allison) had celiac when young so there is that tendency… Good observation to remind me of. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi George,
    We are going on a cruise also. We are leaving Feb. 17th on the Princess Grand. If you and Elaine are on that cruise, we would enjoy meeting you.

    Is by chance Panama going? I am ex military (325 heavy mortar battery 82nd airborne), my brother-in-law and his wife will be with us is special forces(ret). We would enjoy meeting Panama also.

    I think Elaine might be into dolls, my wife Maxine is a serious collector.

    Best regards
    Eagle Point, Oregon

    • Sorry to say, Panama pulls guard duty when we’re off the reservation.

      We’ll be going out on the NCL Jewel on 2/21 from Houston

      And…I am the doll collector around here. Just one in my collection, though: Elaine

    • When you hit an article behind a paywall, just google the first couple of sentences or the headline, and most of the time the page will show up.

  3. I think you email filters have blocked me for the last two years (you’ve missed some great emails from me! :) ), but I’ve tried to let you know recently that your copyright dates at the bottom of the page are in need of updating. Not sending this for you to post.

  4. George, after reading about your swan, have you checked out “Antique Electronic Supply” They have a pretty good selection of tubes and parts for older equipment.

  5. There is a fine line between a hobby and mental illness.

    I remind myself of this often.
    Seems HO scale, and I love them trains, is a bit over the line.
    So, I find myself with a boat load of track and rolling stock, just not mentally ill enough to put it all together, but I’m working on it.

    • Hell, that’s a great hobby! I went through it once in the 1980s when my son was a wee one (marriage number…er…2 I think).

      Whacked off the end of a two car garage, built a storage area over the hoods and put in a 20foot wide by 8 feet deep layout with mountains and all kinds of fun stuff.

      do it! It’s not mental illness, it’s a hobby!

  6. For the financially challenged cat owners, you can always check, and search for “videos for cat owners to watch”.

    See if your own cats care about these things.

  7. George, you should check with the casino to see if they have a shuttle that runs from the airport to the casino. Casinos prefer you spend all of your money with them, not on a taxi.

  8. Aw hell George. Just keep doing what you appear to be doing now if it keeps you from hearing a throbbing noise between your ears and keep enjoying yourself.

    The last thing I want to think when I am on the way out is “Damn I wish I had tried that before I ran out of time.”

  9. I had a daughter get sick, then recovered and lived the rest of her life with the work/school side of things AS important as the fun side of life.
    Life is too short…

  10. Will you share more details when you’re inspired to do so about your deck hydroponics. Its a project I intend to embark on early spring and am doing the research now.

    • Lower odds of snakes on the deck, too lazy to walk up to the garden easy-peasy waist level gardening…When comes down to it, I like to begin every project with “If I were a lazy man, how would I work this project…..” Being exceptionally lazy…

  11. Yeah, hobbies. If I sold all the musical equipment I have, and all I used to own thru the years, I could buy that 10 acre spread complete with house and pond that I’ve been dreaming about. How many guitars is it now, 18, 19? Maybe 50 or 60 over the years. I’ve lost count.

  12. +1 on Grain Brain. Read it over the holidays and it scared me off sugar and refined grains straight away. I’ll let you know how it goes. My goal is to avoid Alzheimer’s.
    Another Oregon Fan,

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