Top Ten Nonbookish Hobbies

Today’s TTT should be especially fun, and perhaps more varied than these lists usually go – -we’re talking about Nonbookish Hobbies!

  1. PC Gaming. A hobby, a vice, call it what you will; if I’d put as much time into anything as I’ve put into gaming over the years I’d be a master. I don’t know if my perfect mastery of Mafia’s vehicle physics counts. I mostly play games that let me fart around, either by exploring an open world (GTA, Mafia, RDR2) or by giving me a sandbox to play with (The Sims, SimCity 3000, ). I tend to play games I get a lot of mileage of: many of my favorites I’ve played regularly for nearly twenty years, and I don’t mean series but games themselves. (Civ3, The Sims 2,and Mafia).
  2. Photography. Although I’m not a serious shutterbug (I don’t own a camera with detachable lenses, and I can’t tell you the first thing about exposure or shutterspeed, anything like that), I occasionally have a good eye for shots and am perfectly willing to wake up at four am on a vacation so I can take advantage of the right light. This frequently dovetails nicely with…
  3. Hiking. Although my area of Alabama is fairly featureless, there are a few trails within driving distance and more than I can count in northern Alabama. I’ve enjoyed hiking since middle school, when I joined the Boy Scouts (ever so briefly, the local troop didn’t do much besides play kickball). A coworker of mine and I try to go out at least once a month.
  4. Cycling. This one is more occasional, as my area isn’t particularly cycle-friendly: the few times I’ve tried cycling into town I’ve nearly been hit by large trucks and the like. I keep my eyes open for quiet country roads that I can wheel about on, though!
  5. Singing. I don’t know if singing counts as a hobby so much, but I do it every day, and have been since I was a kid in church. I favor older musical styles that emphasize melody and lyrics, so I’m especially given to Sinatra standards, hymns, and folk songs. My interest in folk music was inspired by both Star Trek (“The Minstrel Boy”, featured in TNG “The Wounded”) and Civil War reenactments.
  6. Cooking/baking. This is a newer hobby, something I’ve been interested in trying for years but never did until late last year when I wanted to impress a woman. I’ve been trying new recipes this year and keeping notes in an Excel spreadsheet, and am looking forward to contributing to our ongoing obesity and diabetes crises in December by giving everyone cookies.
  7. History. “History” is an odd one because it interlaces with a lot of my other hobbies; reading being the prize example, but it’s also mixed up with my singing interests. I often listen to historical recordings, or recreations of what earlier music might’ve sounded like. For me, knowing the literature and songs that formed people’s minds in earlier decades and centuries is an important part of understanding them. I also visit history museums and sites when I can, and if I can get moving on a video project I have in mind, then history will also form the backbone of another minor hobby, since it would be the subject.
  8. Writing has been a lifelong passion, presumably fed by my similarly-aged passion for reading. Although my brain is constantly playing with stories in my head, I absolutely hate reading every attempt at fiction I’ve ever made. Maybe it’s the equivalent of hearing yourself talk in a recording? Mostly I scratch my writing itch here, though I also do Nanowrimo from time to time.
  9. Cinema, or “movies” if I’m not being pretentious. I know everyone likes movies, but when I’m watching I pay attention to the production side — to how shots are created, to sound design, to plotting and the like. I also enjoy watching cinema-related channels that discuss this sort of thing on youtube. I’m not much for the big blockbuster titles; I’ve seen few superhero movies since The Dark Knight Rises, and my last Avengers title was…The Avengers. My favorite films include The Philadelphia Story, Groundhog Day, and West Side Story. Not very highbrow, I know, but I like what I like. Two I’ve seen for the first time this year that I’ll absolutely watch again are Noises Off! and Clue.
  10. PC modding/repair. I got into messing around with PC innards after my nephew bought an oversized graphics card to upgrade his computer, and I wished I could have helped him avoid that expensive mistake. So last year I learned, and I practiced on both my PC and some older units I had lying around, replacing a hard drive here, an optical there, and upgrading several parts in my own PC. This particularly hobby has stalled in 2020 because I was saving for a new car (and am now paying for a new car), and my next potential upgrade requires buying several parts together. (If I want a better chip I need a better class of motherboard, and if I buy a new motherboard I can’t use my existing RAM, but new DDR4 sticks.) There’s also the problem of diminishing returns: the only upgrade that would have a significant and instantly noticable effect on my life would be switching to an SSD. I plan on doing this once the price for a 2-terabyte SSD isn’t so high. (Here’s hoping for black friday luck!)

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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10 Responses to Top Ten Nonbookish Hobbies

  1. Mudpuddle says:

    brother, eclectic thy name is Stephen! what kind of car did you get?

  2. Marian says:

    Aw, I think everyone hates their own writing! I have to leave mine untouched for a long time before I can bear to edit it.

    Historical music is so fascinating, and often surprising? There’s some early recordings of gospel music on YouTube, which are so raw and powerful, in a different way than I expected. You’ve probably also seen the videos of Peter Pringle singing ancient songs, like the Epic of Gilgamesh (which I always associate with Picard of course 🙂 ).

    • I have! Despite my suspicions and fears over Google’s power, I’m genuinely grateful for youtube…living in a small town it lets me see musical performances and lectures I’d never get to experience otherwise. Recreations of Sumerian music and spoken-word performances of epic poetry aren’t exactly casual entertainment around here!

      My aversion to my writing only happens with fiction, weirdly enough…I enjoy reading old term papers, book reviews, essays, and ‘histories’ based on gameplay. Civ3 players and Sims players LOVE doing those. (A recent example which I shared at a gaming blog I made a half-hearted attempt at starting years ago: http://gamingwithsc.blogspot.com/2019/07/game-dev-tycoon.html )

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I still enjoy reading parts of my last Masters degree dissertation. I can now see *many* places where it could have been improved but some of it at least still impresses me years later.

      • Reading college papers occasionally serves as a distressing reminder of how much we’ve forgotten, too!

      • Marian says:

        Hey, that’s a new genre of blog writing to me! That’s cool, I like how you incorporated screenshots.

        College papers are fun. Once upon a time I had an idea of continuing to write research papers after college. That didn’t last long unfortunately. 😆

      • Youtube has effectively destroyed game blogs, I think — few are willing to read a narrative with screenshots. However, if you’re creating a unique narrative, it’s much easier to do text and screenshots than to painstakingly produce and edit video shots. Some video game narratives can be REALLY good, the best example being Jerusalem’s “let’s play” of San Andreas. He not only manages to fit all of the weirdness of the game into a narrative that kind of makes sense, but he adds emotional depth to some of the characters’ interactions. I’ve read it several times over the years!

        https://lparchive.org/Grand-Theft-Auto-San-Andreas-(Screenshot)/Update%201/

        This sort of thing is also done on forums, or was….people posted screenshot and “after action reports”, or in the case of Civ3/etc would write “histories” of their nations that pretended to be nonfiction. People can be really creative with the strangest of things!

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