August Journaling Day 26: Hobbies

Thinking back to the journal entry on dating from a few weeks ago, it seems like meeting new people always at some point features the conversation of “what are your hobbies?” “What are you into?” Anytime this conversation comes up I think about Norm MacDonald’s bit about how he spends his days. “Well I wake up and start thinking, what am I going to do for breakfast? Then I make and eat breakfast. But as soon as that’s done, gotta start thinking about lunch.” Essentially he spends all day planning for or consuming his three meals. But seriously, what are we into? It’s funny because I think of my life as being somewhat structured and busy, but I also often have decent chunks of down times. So how to fill them?

The last year exercise has become a daily event, but I don’t count that as a hobby. Mostly because it isn’t something I actually like, I just like the benefits and feeling afterwards. But how do I spend my free time? Is watching videos on youtube a hobby? I feel like a hobby needs to be something more engaging and specific. And I do have lots of things I enjoy doing, but in recent years I’ve taken up a few things that have become enjoyable hobbies.

First of all is cooking. Is cooking a hobby though since we have to eat? I would argue the way in which I’ve changed my eating habits and the time spent shopping and cooking, that it has become a hobby. I’ve taken up a million hobbies in my life, but cooking has really become a central one. I love all aspects of it. Looking for recipes and ideas. Watching how to videos. Learning the science of food. Going to the store. Executing the dish. It’s all just so much fun, and you get to eat at the end! What’s strange is often the process to me is more fun than the eating. The eating almost is like “well I guess we have this food here, may as well consume it.” Along with cooking, smoking meat was my pandemic hobby I took up. BBQ has always been a favorite food of mine and good ribs would be my death row dinner for sure. But getting a smoker and learning all the tricks of making good BBQ at home was something I jumped into during the pandemic. I was probably smoking three to four days a week. It also taught me the value of cooking larger and less desirable cuts of meat and the benefit of getting several meals out of one cook. Smoking a pork shoulder would make a delicious meal that night, but it also made meat for sandwiches, nachos, pulled pork, and more for the next week. All for a $10 or $15 cut of meat. Knowing I was going to be living in an apartment in Tampa and the foreseeable future, I gifted my smoker to my ex girlfriend who also loves to cook. She sends me pictures all the time of her latest creations. Once I get a more permanent place in Tampa, I’m going to treat myself to a new smoker which I’m pumped to get back to.

My other hobby in recent years has been watches. I was never a watch wearer growing up until my mom got me a nice watch after college. I wore that for several years before selling it when I needed some cash. I always regretted that and in 2019 I thought about getting another watch. My budget was tight so I just bought a little cheapie off of amazon. I enjoyed wearing it and started watching some videos about watches on youtube. A few months later I bought a Longines quartz watch, a step up in quality and price and I just loved it. My interest in watches skipped past hobby level and ran quickly into obsession. I watched and read every video and article I could find. Started learning the history and mechanics behind them. After stumbling across the youtube channel Wristwatch Revival and watching this guy Marshall put back together or service old watches, I bought all the tools an amateur watchmaker needed. I’d order old pocket watches on ebay and spend hours tinkering with them. Taking them apart, cleaning them, putting them back together. The highlight of my experience was getting an old Elgin Pocketwatch back up and running. I diagnosed the problem was a broken mainspring and some parts that needed cleaning. Got a new mainspring, wound it in, did a service, and boom! It keeps horrible time, but six months later it still works when I wind it.

My mistake in watch collecting early on was I started buying too many too fast. I loved combing ebay or chrono24 for good deals and jumped at a few that I knew I could flip if I wanted to or could keep them and they would hold their value. Next thing I knew I had like twelve watches haha. I sold a couple at very small profits and one or two at small losses. Overall in my watch trading career I think I’m up maybe $200. My collection right now has 8 watches and feels like that’s manageable. They all get some wrist time each week and I have a special attachment to tall of them. A couple are very inexpensive and just fun to have. A few are expensive (by my standards not overall watch standards) and are nice pieces that are beautiful and great mechanical pieces. I really have enjoyed learning the mechanics and history of watches and knowing what makes a certain watch special and why. It’s a really interesting hobby and has been something really rewarding to learn about.