Disclaimer: I feel lousy. My chest cold moved up into my sinuses last Saturday, where it has been partying like it’s 1999. So, between the hacking cough, the sinus pressure, the asthma attacks, and the slight fever, it’s just been a delightful couple of days. So, if this post seems odd or rambles to strange places, it’s because of the cold. On the other hand, if it’s particularly lucid and entertaining, it’s because I’m a genius.
When I was in Junior High, I wanted to be an astronomer. This was largely due to my absolute love of science fiction in all its forms. If I couldn’t be out among the stars, at least I could learn everything I could about them.
My fascination with astronomy dwindled when I discovered two things: First, modern astronomers rarely look through telescopes anymore. They have CCD cameras, and radio antennae that are far more sensitive than the pitiful human eye. I didn’t really want to spend all my time telling a computer where to point the electronic sensor. Second, I realized that it was not at all unusual for an astronomer to posit a hypothesis, and then gather data for the next 20-30 years in order to validate it.
I just don’t have that kind of patience. I want to know the answer now. So, my interest drifted towards chemistry. Say what you will about chemistry, but when you start mixing reagents, you generally find out if something is going to happen pretty quickly.
But don’t get the impression that I had my heart set on chemistry as a career. No, there were a LOT of things I wanted to do with my life — photography, art, hiking, acting, writing. However, when I sat down and estimated how much money I might make at any of those things, it was pretty clear that I was much more likely to be a gainfully employed chemist than anything else.
In short, chemistry was the hobby that looked like it would be the most profitable. So that’s what I majored in.
The thing is, I still have a million interests I’d like to pursue, out of which I’ve started literally dozens, only to have them end up sitting, unfinished, on the shelf. I have quite a collection now.
I picked up a basic set of woodcarving tools, and got halfway through an introductory project. My wife even bought me a really nice dense chunk of tropical wood to carve on. It’s all sitting in a little basket in my bedroom closet.
I’d love to brush up on piano, maybe relearn some of my old recital pieces. Sometimes I even purchase some new sheet music. But mostly the piano just sits there in the family room.
When I was in grad school, I was a pretty fair homebrewer. I’d progressed to the point that I was using a significant amount of specialty grains, had my own grain grinder, and was making beer that I was happy to drink and proud to give to my friends. Sometimes I feel like dusting off the old carboys and trying my hand at all-grain brewing. But I never find the time.
I’ve always wanted to be able to draw and paint. I’ve purchased countless sketch pads and drawing pencils, and rarely use them for anything other than doodling.
Then there was the crochet phase. I made a couple of afghans, and one extraordinarily brutal table runner for my mother. I have an unfinished afghan in one of the closets, along with skeins of matching yarn.
Don’t get me started on all the short stories and novels I’ve started, never to complete.
The latest ongoing project is wire sculpture. I dabbled with it for a while, then as the projects I wanted to make got too complicated to complete without some way to secure the wire, I put it aside. Now I’ve purchased a soldering gun, and I’m hoping to give it another whirl. What I really wanted was a MIG welder, but I couldn’t justify spending a couple hundred dollars and rewiring the garage just for another hobby I wouldn’t keep up.
About the only hobbies that I’ve even halfway kept up are video games, and bicycling. Come to think of it, the fact that I’ve kept up with gaming probably has quite a bit to do with not keeping up with most of the others.
Speaking of which, I finished ‘Twilight Princess’ the other day, and it felt sort of anticlimactic. It’s still a beautiful game, taking place in a rich and delightful world. But it wasn’t GREAT.
“Psychonauts”, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming one of the best games I’ve EVER played. The dialog is brilliant, and the voice work does the dialog justice. I saw a game columnist the other day urge people to pack up their old XBoxes as obsolete. Don’t you believe it. If you haven’t played “Psychonauts”, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. At least rent it for a weekend.