Your Odd Hobbies

What hobby or hobbies do you partake in you don’t see others talking about?

Obviously, this is going to be skewed by the bubble each of us inhabits. For example, I program as a hobby, but I don’t think that’s odd because I’m on Hacker News and where most people program as a hobby.

Anyway, my odd hobby is reading old newspapers. Not as part of genealogy, just because I like history and I think newspapers help bring it to life better than textbooks or novels. They’re sometimes wrong, they lack perspective, they don’t have the space to go into great depth even on things happening all around them… they’re the thoughts of the people of the time, in the moment, or as close to it as we’re ever going to get. Plus, you get advertisements and comics and random content, like notices.

Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to spend hours up to your eyeballs in 1920s Oregon or 1890s New York City:

Google has a good archive, if a bit eccentric as to which papers it has, and which editions.

Here’s a single-paper archive, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The Internet Archive has another eclectic collection.

The Library of Congress has a great collection of American newspapers and some other newspapers in other sections, like the November 8, 1918 edition of Stars And Stripes published in France.

Oh, and here’s a single-newspaper collection of the Morning Oregonian I referred to.

I accumulate (“collect” suggests some sort of plan and/or discernment) and restore vintage LavaLites.

And I don’t know if this is a “hobby,” per se, or merely a rather specific instance of “completist fixation,” but I’m working my way through every extant Alfred Hitchcock film (even the WWII propaganda shorts) in chronological order of release.

I collect heart shaped rocks. I collect lots of things but that is an odd one. I’m a collector.

And I make tiny books.

This feels familiar somehow, anyway, human skulls and roses, not real skulls, but tattoos, sculptures etc of skulls and roses as depicted in paintings and my two fabulous swag lamps. An odd pairing, perhaps, outside of Santa Muerte depictions, for collecting. No, I am not a devotee of Our Lady of Death.

I have a Treasure Chest. I’ve always been fascinated at the old Argg-Pirate-Chest-full-of -plunder idea. So I started collecting suitable booty. Anything shiny that looks like valuables, though 99% of my trinkets are just that. So far I have about a hundred outdated foreign coins, odd junk jewelry and tie clips, and all sorts of things that look cool. My old wooden chest was broken last year, so I am searching for a new suitable plunder chest. This time I want a clasp on it so I can lock it with my 100-year old lock and key.

^^that actually sounds pretty cool campp, and who knows, maybe in a 100 years or so, it really will be treasure

I think this first one sounds like a neat hobby and wish you would post some pictures of your LavaLites.

Also, I really appreciate learning the term “completist fixation” because I have it (badly) and am glad to have a name for it that also suggests that it’s a mental illness that I should get over! Why else do I buy the next book in a series in hard cover when I almost always read books on my tablet? Or when I didn’t even like the last two books in the series?

My gf does this. Every year she brings a few perfect specimens home from St Martin. She then “rehomes” her finds. Planters, flowerbeds, near a bench in the garden, etc. If you are observant you’ll see many dozens of heart-rocks around our home.

I collect breakfast cereal - I currently have 31 varieties. I do eat it, and track expiration dates so it doesn’t get (too) stale. I also save the box covers once its finished, just to have a record of all of the different kinds I’ve eaten.

There are a few blogs and podcasts devoted to this hobby, but it’s definitely unusual.

That does sound really fun.

I have a small collection of pneumatic (air) horns and small sirens. I work in audio and acoustics, and have a minor fancy for noisemakers.

You’re a naval fetish away from having your own Twilight Zone episode.


I build cairns where nobody can see them. Wild horses eventually knock them down. Completely pointless.

Dunno if these qualify as hobbies or just habits/practices, but I used to add up the numbers on license plates I saw. Above 50 was somewhat rare. Think I only got above 60 once.

Also, walking to/from the train in downtown Chicago, I used to look for the closest difference I could see between the numbers of 2 taxis I saw at the same time.

Used to pass a bank with a digital time/temp. Would switch fro time to F to time to C. Whether the temp was in F or C, I’d try to calculate the other before it changed.

I used to collect colophons from books I read.

Here’s a few:

  1. I’m trying to identify songs for each of the integers from 0 to 100, where (a) the lyrics of the song for an integer contains that integer, and (b) I’ve got at least a passing familiarity with.

I’m also trying to avoid using the same song multiple times, if possible. (Right now I’m using Five for Fighting’s “100 years” for 15, 33, and 67, but I’d really like to use it just for one of them.)

  1. I mentally collect songs sung to ballad meter, that hymn meter (syllables per line) that is characteristic of numerous songs from “Amazing Grace” to “Pop Goes the Weasel” and enables you to sing the lyrics of any one of them to the tune of any other. (I need a group of carolers sometime to sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” to each other’s tunes, just to see the reactions of the listeners.)

  2. Unlike Dinsdale, I don’t add up the digits on license plates. However, here in Maryland, most of the license plates have 5 digits and 2 letters. 5 digits make up a cribbage hand (with 0 = 10), so I score license plate cribbage hands when I’m driving down the road.

I don’t have an odd one, but I remember a guy back in the 80s who was telling me that he collected airline tail numbers. I thought he was having me on, but no, it was (and is) a thing. I asked him what he did with them and he said “Oh, you know, talk about them and trade them.” It’s a mystery to me.

I used to build furniture. We still have an use some of the things I built. But when I got my first computer, I dropped it and got into programming. And reading TSD.

I made a decision to NOT have a hobby that would result in messes and clutter. I’m very proud of myself for switching hobbies from collecting vintage hardware and tools to… posting here.

It sounds like you’re describing the hobby of plane spotting. A plane spotter might go hang out in a spot near the airport with a good view of arriving and departing aircraft, and write down the tail numbers of the airplanes they see. They might have a goal like spotting every 737 in United’s fleet (there used to be companies that would publish lists of tail numbers and what airline they belonged to to aid this, now there are websitesthat do the same thing), or to spot rare airplanes like the last airworthy BAC-111 (A test airplane used by Northrop Grumman which they quietly retired recently). I assume you must have misremembered the “trade” part. I don’t know what a plane spotter would trade, unless you’re conflating it with trading aviation memorabilia or something like that.

I don’t do that, but I do keep a log of every flight I’ve ever taken, including the tail numbers of the planes I flew on. I use the website to keep track of everything.

I also used to collect, or perhaps just accumulate, “vintage” computers. I haven’t added to the collection in over a decade, but one of my spare bedrooms is full of old computers from the 1970s and 80s. Stuff like an original IBM PC from 1981, and my pride and joy, an Intel Intellec 8 from circa 1974 – basically a big blue box with a bunch of lights and switches on the front.

I thought I was the only one that did this. Pickup trucks in Washington State have 5 numbers. Best so far is B50555J.