Pastimes That Make You Smarter

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Pastimes That Will Actually

Make You Smarter

Everything Old is New Again – Hipster Chronicles

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Unexpected Things Being

Revived by Hipsters

Another way to identify hipsters is through their embracement of old-timey endeavors. Below are ten activities that have experienced a resurgence of popularity due to the (sometimes fickle) embrace of hipsters. If that’s not enough, or these trends seem too useful or widespread, the Hipster Hobby Generator is also available to identify an excessively obscure activity of your very own.

10. Beekeeping


What’s that buzz? For once, it’s not the plaid-clad throngs in line for organic kombucha. Instead, it’s the outgrowth of one of the hobbies they have, ahem, swarmed to lately: urban beekeeping. As the locavore food movement gains steam, dreams of harvesting backyard honey have pulled a younger, urban cohort into the ranks of beekeepers. In San Francisco, managers of local beekeeping groups estimate that the number of beekeepers in the city grew 800% over the period from 2000-2010.

Faced with the threat of Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where adult bees abandon their hives, and the potential agricultural losses that result from unsufficient pollination, several localities have taken action to promote beekeeping. New York City legalized urban beekeeping in 2010. Los Angeles followed suit in 2015, perhaps signaling the apex of this hipster trend (once anything happens in LA, can it really be considered “hipster” anymore?).

While the presence of additional urban “hobby” bees can help to stabilize dwindling “professional” hives elsewhere, the rise of urban beekeeping hasn’t been without its downsides. In New York City, swarms of bees have terrified tourists and residents, resulting in numerous calls to police to relocate large numbers of bees on the move. At least in Washington D.C., novice urban beekeepers can have the best of both worlds. They get the bragging rights of an urban hive and locally produced honey, without having to deal with face masks, specialized equipment or potential for stings: Eco Honeybees, a kind of Uber for beekeeping, will provide the necessary structures, care for your hive, and harvest the honey for you.

9. Taxidermy


If you thought taxidermy (the stuffing and mounting of dead animals) was the exclusive province of your uncle’s weirdo hunting buddy, think again. In the 2010 movie Dinner for Schmucks, Steve Carrell’s character builds elaborate dioramas using taxidermied mice, dressed up in outfits. While in the movie, this is evidence of the character’s lack of alignment with society in general, it may also demonstrate well-concealed hipster tendencies. As one practitioner put it in a 2014 interview with NPR, describing a resurgence of the previously moribund activity, particularly amongst young women, “Taxidermy is having a massive comeback. It really fits with the trend for vintage and is really popular with the sleek and more design-led crowd.”

Setting aside the question of whether cutting up and manipulating the innards of dead animals can really be classified as “sleek” or “design-led,” taxidermy is definitely attracting a new crowd. Hipsters are flocking to taxidermy classes to learn how to make their own dead animal art. Some taxidermists have even found ways to further differentiate their craft from “standard” taxidermy, practicing “rogue taxidermy,” featuring, for example, a mouse with antlers made out of crab claws. For those unfortunate hipsters located outside of major urban centers, one enterprising purveyor offers a DIY mouse taxidermy manual and starter kit, so hipsters around the world can easily apply their budding taxidermy talents to what the cat dragged in.

8. Using Typewriters


With the advent of the personal computer, secretaries everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. No longer would business correspondence require unwavering accuracy (or the use of correction fluid), temperamental ribbons, or the use of carbon copies or copy machines to retain records of typewritten material. Aside from grandparents’ dens, stubborn traditionalists, and some yet-to-be-wired areas of the developing world, typewriters seemed destined to fade away. However, while they quickly lost their professional use, the click-clack of typewriter keys can still be heard in trendy areas, where they serve as the ultimate accessory for literate hipsters. And lest you think typewriters are less portable than a laptop, these hipsters are determined to prove otherwise, hauling them around to public locations and coffee shops for work, and one presumes, admiration by fellow hipsters. If that’s not bad enough, there are now even typewriter-style keypads you can buy to use with your iPad, enabling users to take state of the art technology and send it backward about 40 years.

Typewriter revivalists have been doing a brisk trade in the old contraptions at such hipster haunts as the Brooklyn Flea, convincing a generation that has grown up on computers to appreciate the tactile dimensions of manual typewriters. Defending the archaic machines,one enthusiast cited the lack of other capabilities/distractions offered by typewriters, as well as the need to think before recording words as big advantages. So for anyone looking for a bulky and unforgiving way to record your thoughts without having to deal with temptations of other applications, who is offended by the lack of perfection demanded by word processing programs that allow you to edit after writing, and who is tired of being able to share your words with those to whom you cannot physically hand paper, this hipster trend is for you!

7. Straight-edge Razors

straight razor

Shaving is anathema to many hipsters, with beards and scruff almost mandated on male faces in some parts of Brooklyn and Portland. Some analysts have even blamed a global decline in razor sales on the rising popularity of facial hair. However, some poor hipsters are unable to maintain a furry appearance, either because they work outside of the artisanal jam industry and must be clean-shaven, because their natural facial hair is not robust enough to coordinate with the rest of their aesthetic, or because they are trying to get ahead of the curve as facial hair achieves increasingly mainstream status.

For those hipsters seeking literal and figurative smoothness, there’s one preferred method to achieve it: straight razor shaving. Straight razors have a number of qualities that are attractive to hipsters. First, shaving with a straight razor is a sensorial throwback to simpler times, a ritual straight out of Grandpa’s morning routine, and a way to greet the day with nostalgia and to ensure your bathroom vanity conveys your hipster credibility to all who enter. In addition to a shaving brush, soap, and razor, straight razor shaving involves the use of a “scuttle,” a small lather cup, pleasing hipsters who love unnecessarily elaborate rituals (see: pour-over coffee), vintage accessories, and obscure terminology. Additionally, this form of shaving is arguably more environmentally responsible, involving no plastic components and limited packaging. Finally, with a skilled practitioner, some proponents claim that a straight razor offers the closest shave possible, while limiting skin irritation, meaning that scuttle-toting hipsters might actually be on to something with this trend.

6. Making Soap

hipster soap

For much of human history, making soap was a household chore, and ironically a pretty dirty one, involving the combination of animal fat and ashes to produce primitive cleaners. However, starting in the 15th century, soap production began centralizing. Post-Industrial Revolution, high-quality soap became more affordable and widely available. So other than Colonial re-enactors and Tyler Durden, who would want to revisit the days of household soap production? Hipsters, of course.

Why would you want to go to the store and buy soap that some soulless corporation is trying to force on you, when you could make your own, with an array of specialized (and sometimes pricey) tools and ingredients, and hour of prep time, and 4+ weeks of aging! And even discounting the cost of your time (lost opportunities to raise backyard chickens, for example), and assuming you go the frugal route, avoiding the many classes that have sprung up to teach soapmaking to wannabe urban homesteaders this soap will likely cost you more than conventional soap from the local Walgreens. Thus, soap-making will earn you the hipster credibility of pursuing an archaic and time-consuming hobby, while reducing your net worth in the process.

5. Foraging

urban foraging

When you think of foraging, or scouring the wilderness in search of food sources, you may picture survivors of a plane crash at a remote location, or off-the-grid survivalist types deep in the rural backcountry. At best, foraging conjures up visions of a particularly intrepid boy scout.

However, a new hipster breed of “urban foragers” has popped up, combing the landscape, including parks and backyards, for edible plants and greens. They are looking to glean food from unlikely places like sidewalk cracks, not because there is no grocery store nearby, butbecause they believe that the food they gather with their own two hands tastes better, has more nutrients, and keeps them in touch with nature. Additionally, it takes the locavore food movement to a level well beyond hitting up the farmers’ market.

Unfortunately for novice foragers, plucking and eating random plants will not only put you in closer contact with the earth, but also has the potential to hurt or even kill the uninformed gatherer/snacker. Hipsters with low wilderness knowledge (Patagonia jacket ownership does not qualify as wilderness knowledge) are advised to either take a class (because of course there’s a class, unless you live in a non-hipster locale) or stick to only to collecting plants they are totally certain are edible.

4. Blacksmithing

hipster blacksmith

Blacksmith, along with buggy whip-maker, may sound like the ultimate in archaic professions that have fallen by the wayside. Outside of the equestrian world, where some blacksmiths make their livings shoeing horses, few of us know anyone who works as a blacksmith anymore, forging iron and steel and using tools to shape the metal. This is because much of the work blacksmiths used to do has been automated and moved into factories.

However, blacksmithing, particularly as a hobby rather than a vocation, has recently come back into vogue. From 1973 to 2016, the Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North Americagrew from 27 members to 4,000. A significant portion of the renewed interest in blacksmithing can be attributed to hipsters, seeking an unusual vintage hobby; only 10% of blacksmiths in the US are attempting to actually make a living with their trade. One board member of a folk school, which teaches traditional crafts and skills, explains the appeal of the craft, saying, “None of us has to know how to blacksmith, but I think there is something so meaningful in being able to create something with your hands. It feeds us in some way that perhaps connecting with technology doesn’t.” An obscure artisanal hobby with limited money-making potential? Sounds like hipster nirvana.

3. Drinking PBR

hipster PBR

Pabst Blue Ribbon, aka PBR, an American beer with its roots in Wisconsin, never disappeared entirely from bars and fridges across the United States. However, starting in the 1980s, sales persistently declined, and by 2001, the brand was selling only 10% of the beer it had sold in 1975.

However, sales began to increase, more than doubling between 2001 and 2014. So what changed? Not the composition of PBR, a brew best described as “cheap” and “inoffensive,” and more accurately as “the perfect target for a ping pong ball” and “not trying.” Not the beer’s packaging; the retro-styled red and blue can remained a fixture of the brand. Nope, PBR’s revival was due to the embrace of hipsters, who were drawn to its low-key marketing—the company’s promotional efforts included sponsoring bike messenger competitions—and apparent authenticity. The beer’s recession-friendly low price didn’t hurt, either. However, like all hipster activities, PBR faces the threat of being displaced by newer, cooler trends. PBR sales declined slightly in 2015, a development some experts attribute to hipsters turning their attention to more local, and—ahem—flavorful craft brews.

2. Butchery

hipster butcher

So what eventually happens to all those backyard chickens embraced by “urban farmer” hipsters? At least some of them may end up linked to another hipster activity—artisan butchery. According to a USDA survey, 10% of residents of Miami, NYC, Denver, and LA who keep chickens also kill them, meaning some hipsters have seriously shrunken the distance from farm to table. Unfortunately, many of these hobby farmers may lack proper training in techniques for humane and hygienic slaughtering and butchery. In more urbanized environments, many residents have only seen meat in vacuum-sealed supermarket packages, and have little connection or interest in how it got there.

Seeking more insight into the butchery process, hipsters with neighbors who object to the 18th century lifestyle of living right on top of an urban slaughterhouse, must instead turn toartisan butchers. These cleaver-wielding meat-cutters have been described as “rock stars” of the culinary world. This new vanguard of meat artisans have Twitter accounts and adoring fans, accessories old-timey local butchers could never have imagined. To share their craft, they offer classes and demonstrations, some featuring cocktail pairings, to hipsters who are eager to get closer to animal carcasses, an activity their predecessors were thrilled to hand over to Cargill and Purdue.

1. Canning/Jam-making


Sooner or later every hipster must confront an existential question: What do I do with all these Mason jars? Mason jars were an innovation when they were introduced in the 1850s, offering a way to preserve food, using heat to create an airtight seal. The clear glass jars made it easy to keep an inventory of produce that had been sealed after being harvested from back gardens during short growing seasons. However, with the advent of industrial food preservation in tin cans, and greater availability of year-round produce, canning food in Mason jars largely fell out of favor, with some spikes in sales during WWII, when the US government encouraged its population to grow and store their own food. The next wave of growth in Mason jar sales came not from canning-related uses, but rather from the jars’surge in popularity with hipsters seeking authentic accessories, repurposing them as decorations and drinking glasses.

Everything Old is New Again

– Hipster Chronicles

Hobbies that Changed the World – WIF Imagination

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People Whose Hobbies

Changed the World

10. Tolkien’s Hobby Changed Fantasy Forever


The list of things inspired by Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, The Hobbit is so long that it literally has its own Wikipedia page. If you don’t have time to click that link, we’ll summarize by saying that virtually anything you’ve ever seen, heard, or read that features any reference to Orcs, Elves, Halflings, Dragons or Dwarves, was almost certainly inspired in some way, shape, or form by Tolkien’s work, meaning you can thank him for Skyrim, Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, and this Megadeth song. Speaking of music, dozens of metal bands have cited Tolkien’s work as an influence over the years, meaning along with every piece of fiction ever written about elves, Tolkien is also directly responsible for about 4000 guitar solos. Which is great.

But here’s the thing: Tolkien only wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a vehicle for his awesomely nerdy hobby of making up languages. Hell, there’s even a quote from Tolkien himself where he basically says that he wrote The Lord of the Rings for no other reason than to “provide a world for the languages” he’d spent years creating so that it didn’t seem like he’d wasted his time making up words. In fact, Tolkien put so little stock in The Lord of the Rings as a serious work of fiction that he almost never published it, being content just to leave it as a story he could tell his grandkids, and was only inspired to finish it because his friend CS Lewis bugged him to. So we guess we should thank him, too, for being able to gut stab orcs in that Shadow of Mordor game.

9. One Guy’s Obsession with Bugs Gave Us Pokemon


Pokémon has had an almost immeasurable impact on pop culture, and the popularity of the series is such that, when an episode of the original anime literally caused kids to have a bunch of seizures, causing it to be temporarily removed from the airwaves, fans in Japan gathered in the country’s major cities and solemnly sang the show’s theme song because they were that worried it was going to be cancelled forever. And you know a show is popular when fans shrug off the fact an episode nearly killed a dozen of their peers. Weirdly, though, the franchise may never have existed if it wasn’t for one guy’s hobby of collecting bugs.

That guy was one Satoshi Tajiri, the creative mind behind the entire concept of Pokémon, and a man responsible for more fractured childhood friendships than yo-yo injuries and girls we liked. As a child Tajiri was obsessed with collecting insects to the point his childhood nickname was, get this, Dr. Bug. Along with collecting bugs, Tajiri would catalogue them and even trade them with his friends in an effort to, for lack of a better phrase, catch ‘em all. Tajiri found this hobby so satisfying and enjoyable that he endeavored to create a video game that centered around a similar concept, eventually molding this idea into the Pokémon series we all know and argue about today.

8. Disneyland was Inspired by Walt’s Miniatures Hobby


For a guy with a creepy looking mustache who was obsessed with princesses and anthropomorphic mice, Walt Disney was a terrifyingly powerful man, as evidenced by the fact the company bearing his name can technically tell Darth Vader what to do. The foothold of the Disney empire is arguably located in Disneyland, where Walt’s hobby of collecting miniatures helped enthrall a generation of children into buying enough of his company’s merchandise to buy out Iron Man.

Unsurprisingly for a man who used to measure how many steps people took before throwing their garbage on the floor as they walked around Disneyland, Walt Disney was a guy with a bunch of weird hobbies. One of the weirdest was his apparent obsession with tiny versions of things. According to those who knew him best, Disney would spend hours playing with miniature figurines, creating elaborate scenes and dioramas for his own amusement, and spending hundreds of his own dollars to expand his (ironically) ever-shrinking collection.

While this isn’t the only factor known to have influenced Walt’s eventual decision to create Disneyland, his hobby of collecting miniatures and, more specifically, creating magical worlds for people to explore is largely noted to have been one of the things that “ultimately led to its creation.

7. Bo Jackson’s Pro Football Career was Basically a Hobby

bo knows

Bo Jackson is widely regarded as one of the finest athletes of all-time, in part because he’s one of only a handful of people to become an All-Star in two sports (baseball and football), but mostly because his physical accomplishments are freaking insane. Able to run the 100 meter dash in just over 10 seconds, leap 20 feet through the air, and throw a rock hard enough to straight up kill a pig, Jackson was always destined for greatness as an athlete. However, the true extent of his skills may never have been known if he never decided to join the NFL, basically as a hobby.

When Jackson joined the LA Raiders in 1987, he did so almost purely because he was bored and wanted something to do during the baseball offseason. Obviously, he’d been a Heisman Trophy-winning football player in college a few years earlier, but baseball was his real passion. As a result of this off the cuff decision to dominate the NFL in his spare time, the true extent of Jackson’s natural ability and his sheer natural athleticism became apparent, leading to one of the most popular advertising campaigns of all-time, and this TV spot for an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

6. Roget’s Obsession with Words Led to the Thesaurus


The thesaurus, for anyone who’s never right-clicked a word and searched for a smarter-sounding synonym while writing an essay, is one of the most influential pieces of literature ever created, next to the dictionary and possibly the Harry Potter series. The first thesaurus, unimaginatively titled,

Dr Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases classified and arranged to facilitate the Expression of Ideas and assist in Literary Composition was only created, though, because its author, Peter Roget, had a quirky hobby of cataloguing words.

 This hobby was of such interest to Roget that he eventually spent three years of his retirement logging the different meanings of every word he could think of, culminating in the release of the thesaurus in 1952. It’s become a book so popular it has quite literally never been out of print since the first time it was published. Suck on that, JK Rowling.

4. Roosevelt’s Love of Reading Made Him a Great President


Listing the reasons the public loved Teddy Roosevelt is like listing the things a 10 year old boy wants to be when he grows up. He was a judo black belt, sheriff, cowboy, and explorer who personally shot half the animals in the Smithsonian. However, what endeared him to the politicians and big-wigs who sponsored his presidency was his eloquence and ability to speak knowledgeably about, well, everything. Anecdotes from those who knew Roosevelt speak of him being able to effortlessly converse with friends and strangers about everything from poetry to natural history with the kind of authority you’d expect from an expert on the subject, or Kelsey Grammer’s character from Frasier.

Roosevelt’s seemingly superhuman ability to retain knowledge is said to have stemmed from his time as a child. More specifically, all the time he spent cooped up in bed with nothing to do but read. You see, Roosevelt was a very sickly child who was frequently bedridden by illness, and as a result, he spent much of his time reading because the Gameboy hadn’t been invented yet. Reading would eventually became a lifelong passion of the pre-pubescent president to the point he was known to read three books every day of his adult life. This vast repository of brain knowledge unquestionably helped Roosevelt’s political career, as it allowed him to charm virtually anyone, from any background, by being able to speak with them about any interest they happened to hold.

3. Lemmy’s Obsession with Nazis Shaped his Worldview


Lemmy, former frontman of the heavy metal band Motörhead and current corpse, is a man about whom it is impossible to overstate how much ass he kicked. He was a hard-drinking, hard-partying, grizzled veteran of rock and roll who drank a bottle of whiskey every day for 30 years and reportedly slept with over 2,000 women. He was a mainstay of metal who inspired everyone from Guns N’ Roses to Metallica, who were such big fans of Lemmy that they once dressed up as him and played the song,Overkill, for his 50th birthday.

One of the things that made Lemmy such a legend within the rock and roll community was his irreverent wit and nonchalant, accepting attitude towards his own mortality, once being quoted as saying:

“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.”

This blasé approach to life was apparently inspired by Lemmy’s obsession with Nazi paraphernalia, of which he was an avid collector. Along with collecting Nazi memorabilia, Lemmy was well versed in the history surrounding it, which shaped his anarchist world view and inspired much of his inimitable straight-talking advice. For anyone curious about why Lemmy collected Nazi memorbillia, according to the man himself, he simply liked the way it looked, saying:

Look, it’s not my fault the bad guys had the best [crap].”

A quote we very grudgingly censor, because we’re pretty sure censoring a Lemmy quote is, like, a crime or something.

2. Linus Tolvard Created Linux Out of Boredom


Linux is the operating system Wikipedia assures us about 1% of the people reading this currently have installed on their computer. In essence, Linux is an open source operating system similar in function to Windows and OS X, only better because you don’t have to pay for it. While not widely known amongst casual PC and laptop users, Linux’s ultra-streamlined and highly customizable nature has helped it become virtually the only operating system used in supercomputers, which, judging by the name, areway better than the computers most of us are reading this on.

Peculiarly, though, the only reason Linux even exists is because the original creator, Linus Tolvard, was bored and decided to make the operating system just to see if he could, describing the whole thing as “just a hobby,” adding that it wouldn’t be “big and professional.” A statement that’s kind of hilarious in retrospect, considering the operating system has been classified as being, quite literally, the fastest of the fast operating systems” by the people making the computers that can calculate pi to a trillion places, and a lot of other really smart sounding stuff.

1. Amateur Astronomers Have Mapped Much of Our Galaxy


Given that the universe is infinite, there are technically an infinite number of things to learn about it, meaning there’s enough out there for any dumbass with a telescope or camera with a zoom lens to discover something. And boy, you had better believe that throughout history there have been a lot of dumbasses who’ve done exactly that.

The list of things in our universe discovered by “amateur astronomers” who considered what they were doing to be little more than a hobby is actually quite humbling, and includes things like comets, stars, and supernovas, as well as advances in telescope technology that have allowed ordinary people to see into God’s toilet, if they want to. The impact amateur astronomers have had on the field is so notable that there are even awards for amateurs to encourage them to keep looking to the stars and doing NASA’s job for them. Which we think is a lovely thought to end on. There are people out there taking pictures of the sky with big-ass cameras, who have accidentally discovered more about the universe than the people we pay to do it. Sort of like that episode of The Simpsons where Bart discovers a comet.

Hobbies that Changed the World

– WIF Imagination