My Hobby, Sir, Is Below…

No, not that far down. That’s a different hobby. Stop staring.

My hobby is what you are reading right now. I write now.  I write four weblog columns each weekday and three on the weekends. I get paid money to pen one of them and the other three pay in joy.

I did not realise this was going to be the case when my friend Joanne suggested over a café breakfast that I look up WordPress. She, like many young people, is somewhat of an expert on the social media and connection side of things. But she doesn’t make the technical side of things sound as hard and confusing. Nor was it, once I had picked up a couple of simplistic books on the WordPress blog experience.

My first efforts were crude – like my first engagement with Facebook – but gradually the business of telling a story ( and that is all I am doing when I write ) started to flow and it has gushed ever since. I’m a photographer with my own studio so I can make pictures to enliven the print and as much as the graphic designers amongst my readers may quail, I can dot them with words. Generally the words I choose try to be funny. Sometimes they succeed, but only sometimes…

So I finally have to admit I like engaging you in this one-sided conversation – I look upon it as a Catskill monologue. Hence the title of this first weblog column. I’m here all week – try the pasta surprise.

The chef was absolutely surprised. He was aiming for bacon smoothies.

 

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” What, Actually, IS Your Hobby…? “

Darned good question.

I’ve asked it of myself for about 6 decades – ever since I discovered that things you like to do are a hobby and things you don’t like to do are a chore. I’ve tabulated the former and latter and I’m happy to say that the first outnumbers the last – so I have a credit in my fun account.

How do you know when a mere experience or activity becomes a hobby? When you devote more than a half hour a day to it – this can be accumulated over a week to 3.5 hours or more and spent all in one go – attendance at a hobby club or social circle, for instance. The most it can be accumulated is a month –  14 hours  – and then it must be discharged.

Can a chore be a hobby? Only if you are very lucky or very unfortunate. That old saw about doing what you love so that you never work a day is somewhat true, but like all old saws gets rusty and loses teeth eventually. I know people whom I suspect have never worked a day in their lives because the thing the dearly love to do is sponge off others. That’s not a hobby – it’s a crime.

Can hobbies be fluid? Yes, and if the fluid you choose is brandy, don’t expect to get much done in the evening. But you can change from one hobby to another quite legally. It is not so easy in practical terms, however.

Hobbies cost money, time, and social effort. If you design to change, you are going to have to do something about the past expenditure you will be foregoing and the remnants of the thing. You may have left over equipment, projects, and people who are still valuable… And you’ll find it hard to give up valuables.

The thing to do is to meld – make one hobby flow into another. Take some of the gear and investment in whatever you did before and make it do now. Carry people over from one social group to another – the ones you value – and you’ll find that they are still a delight.

And occasionally you can return to an abandoned hobby and take it up again – it will be all the sweeter for the rediscovery.

 

I Become An Influencer*

The cry of the moment is the desirability of becoming an Instagram influencer. But I suspect this – as I suspect most aspects of modern computer life. The suspicion is that the whole circus has passed Instagram by and is way off down the road doing far cooler things to far hotter people. Or vice versa.

I was once accused of being an influencer by a representative of a wholesale camera firm who thought he was not getting enough coverage for his products in my commercial column. He insinuated that another firm had bought me with a free camera. In reality they alerted me to their products with the freebie and I went and spent a vast amount of money on their goods out of my own pocket. Any reports I made were genuine. And as far as pressuring people into following me, the customers have the minds of cats, not sheep. They rarely purr, are not herdable, and occasionally throw up in your shoe.

But back to Instagram. I was cozened into subscribing to it by someone who likes to show off on it and wanted another viewer. I’ve added a few other contacts and a couple of artists and cartoonists and find it a pleasant light browse while dinner is cooking…but not such a vital artistic service as to cause me to allow the soup to boil dry. I do like the colourful art, but I wouldn’t buy anything because of it. And I really don’t think others would either.

Oh, they’ll buy from paper flyers loaded into the post box. They’ll buy from shopping channels that endlessly bombard them with simple instructions. They’ll buy from door-to-door sales cons and Royal Show spruikers. They’ll buy from Harvey Norman. But I don’t think they’ll buy because I’ve posted toy airplane pictures on Instagram.

*  Or should that be an influenza-er. Come here and I’ll sneeze on you.

The Portrait Portrays

Or betrays. Then it is known as a betrait…

We are all accustomed to internet posts that have an image of the author at the introduction. The facility with which an actual photo can be added to a social site is marvellous – but few people realise what they are either showing or seeing. Frequently the picture trips up both poster and viewer.

I use a construct – a picture taken of myself in the studio wearing my dad’s old khaki shirt ( 60+ years old and still going strong ) a freebie hat I got from Nikon – with their trademark struck out – a pair of binoculars, and a 1:18 scale plastic fighter plane. You are encouraged to think I am an admiral on an aircraft carrier. I particularly admire the resolute look on my face. I think it is most probably wind…

Other people use pictures that have been sliced from phone cameras or worse. They are lucky to be recognisable. A phone selfie in a bathroom making a duck face is a poor advertisement for a duck, let alone a person.

One person I’ve noticed, an internet troll, uses a quasi-mysterious selfie with roiling edges and the expression of a dyspeptic llama. It’s ugly, but damned accurate. He cannot be accused of deceptive trading.

As opposed to these travesties, some people use genuinely beautiful images as their trademarks. It’s a wise move, and even if they do not match up to the image in real life, the picture is so much more with us that we remember it instead of them. It’s a mistake to steal someone else’s beauty, but if you can pay for at least one good shot of yourself, it’s money well spent.

The no-image introduction, or the cartoon character presented in lieu, are as telling as any real image. The person does not wish to give anything away – either of themselves or of their time. Whatever they write is not backed up with any veracity of personal presence – and can generally be flicked over instantly. You can brand yourself well or badly and get the attention of the populace, but when you are a faceless opinion you lose most of your credibility. Even if all you post is a picture of the either end of your alimentary canal, you are making a genuine contact.

I must show you my collection of orifices some time.

 

 

 

You Get One Hour And That’s All

No, this isn’t a pay-per-view site with kitten videos…

I am at the computer desk for one hour while a coat of spray varnish dries on a model airplane. I’ve learned that it is dangerous to be in the workshop while paint dries as I eventually touch it to see if it is dry and it isn’t. See? Even perfect characters have flaws…

I think the one-hour rule would be good in many aspects of life. Meals, for instance – if you are going to dawdle for several hours either you are going to eat and drink too much or whatever it is you are pushing round the plate is not worth the time. And timing is everything.

Sex? Well, decide that one for yourself, but consult your partner about the issue. 60 minutes for a 63 -minute person is a bad time to quit.

Reading? Well, you might stretch a bit further if it’s a 19th century French novel with heaving bosoms and creaking bedsprings, but technical journals and political columns can definitely be limited to an hour.

Gardening? Oh, that one could definitely stop at an hour. But one always seems to be in the middle of a rose bush with secaturs – bleeding – doesn’t one? In the end you are not so much pruning as cutting yourself free.

Driving? Yes. Stop the car. Get out and either pee, puke, or purchase petrol. Reset the mechanism.

Television? Set aside an hour a day to watch television. Then don’t. Read a book.

Exercise? If you can sprint on a treadmill or do push-ups for a solid hour – and wish to do this –  there is nothing I can say to you that you can hear.

Hobby work? A fair call. I’m waiting out a coat of varnish so that it can be smoother. if I had a spray room with a door sealing it, I could carry on with some other modelling task while I was waiting.

Photography? An hour in a studio with a glamour model is a short time. With a family of unhappy portrait customers it is an eternity.

 

 

 

Suspicious Stains

Impelled by a recent comment on Facebook, I am going to have to make a confession. I have left suspicious stains on the moral fabric. The dry cleaner says he doesn’t care to put it through the machine and the Anglican Op Shop has refused to resell it. So I am stuck with it.

It would not be so bad if I had thought at the time to soak my morality on water. Or bleach. Or nitric acid. But it is too late – the telltale marks of depravity are there for all to see. The best I can do is draw around them with a Texta and pretend it is batik.

Of course I am not alone in this. There are several other people in here. The run around at night and bump into the coffee table. I wouldn’t mind so much if they would pay for some of the utility bills or at least remember to turn off the dryer. The pointers on the electricity meter box dials spin around like propellers on a Wright Cyclone bomber engine. Some days it looks like a suburban house and some days like the ” Memphis Belle “.

I do turn to the sacred texts when it all becomes too much. ” Bradshaw ” and ” The Almanach de Gotha ” are a great comfort late at night. My copy of the trigonometric tables for 1923 sits on the night stand. So do I, when the weather is warm.

 

 

 

The Look-Alike Contest

We have all seen them – the people who look like someone else. Not the twins or triplets – they are similar because they are split eggs. I mean the people who have been condemned by fate to look like some notable person…without being extraordinary themselves. They are chained to either the balloon of fame or anchor of infamy.

This is no bad thing if you look like Lincoln, or Shirley Temple, or Adam West…or some other loved person. Then you can bask in it – indeed you can make money out of doing stand-in and event appearances. If you’re Lincoln, avoid Ford’s theatre but otherwise you’re good to go. Practice a signature and you can charge for it.

On the other hand, if you look like Hitler, Dr. Crippen, or Justin Trudeau, you have a burden to bear. It’s not your fault, of course, that you resemble them, but it is rather tiresome to have to always be explaining that you are not a mass murderer or from Quebec. You tell yourself that eventually it will stop, but until you have extensive plastic surgery you are a target. It is all you can do to stop yourself from going berserk and fulfilling other people’s fantasies.

On a lower level, there is the unknown person who looks like another unknown person. You’d think that was safe, but no-one is truly unknown. If someone can be seen they can be remembered. Even nebbishes have creditors. And woe betide you if the look of your face means you have not only your own pursuing you, but those of some other unrelated individual. They might lead a fabulous life and you might get the bill.

To this end I suggest that you make yourself as unique and distinctive as possible – every additional factor you ring in to your appearance means that you are that much safer from being an unwitting clone. For men, this will mean growing a distinctive beard and moustache as well as extensive tattoos and possibly implants. Likewise with women, though they are well advised to check with their doctor before starting the third buttock or breast. Also think ahead and plan for foundation garments that will need to be especially bespoke.

If you find that your doppleganger is far away you need not do much – avoid holidaying in their home town. If they live in your locale check out whether or not they are having a better time than you and either stop that or join them.