New Year, New...Hobby?

Show us a man with no hobbies and we will show you a man-child holding an X-Box controller. Sure, we love us some game time, we’re only human. But being the new year, it’s time to consider some balance. Seriously, the great Oscar Wilde, who was basically the Kanye of his day, once said that “cultivated leisure is the aim of man.” Hobbies can add that balance to your life. If naps are like mental blow jobs, a hobby is like tantric sex with your soul. Hobbies allow you to recharge the body, mind and spirit. The list of leisure activities we’ve compiled aren’t the standard hobbies you might be used to. Everyone likes hiking, home-brewing, and golf, we’ve done it, and they’re great. These are modern pastimes for a new generation of men raised on technology, sustainability and instant gratification. Whether you’re into tech, the outdoors, music, or culinary delights, we’ve got something new and interesting to check out. Let’s gear up and head out.

DRONE FLYING
If you’re feeling the need for speed and will never be a Top Gun, you can fly the next best thing. Drones aren’t just for dropping bombs on bad guys anymore as Rotorcross aka FPV (First Person Video) drone racing, is not only a thing, but THE next big thing in the racing world. A display headset (think blacked out snowboarding goggles) puts you in the (virtual) pilot seat of a racing drone by displaying a live stream flight feed via high-definition cameras attached to the drones you’re controlling. With speeds reaching upwards of 50 MPH and race courses in challenging outdoor environments (forests, parks, jungles), the out-of-this-world experience has been compared to the speeder bikes Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia ride in that famous chase scene in “Return of the Jedi.” Joining a sanctioned league or licensed flying club is advised as the FAA has been cracking down on the sport’s explosion, which now includes sponsorship deals and $100k racing prize money. The great news is that popularity and advancing technology has made it easier and more affordable than ever to get into the drone world.

PODCASTING
As kids we wanted to be “like Mike,” now as adults we want to be “like Bill” as in Simmons, the sports blogger who became a household brand by ranting about sports and pop culture. We tell ourselves (and the nearest drunk at the bar) that we could wax poetic about hypothetical NBA trades and ‘80s cult movies and now we actually can with podcasts. Sure, it may seem like everyone has a podcast now, but everyone is not you. There’s still time to find your voice. Just figure out a theme and stick to a format. A niche subject is a smart idea because you can’t compete with the numerous true crime, money investment or “Walking Dead” podcasts so find something that you can be or are the expert at, whether it be interviews with border collie owners or a weekly re-capper of Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty.” Word to the wise, try to be more informative than funny. Listeners are downloading your show because they want to hear smart, fun and informative stories, opinions and advice on a particular subject. Getting started will cost you no more than $400, but don’t cut corners on the mic (we recommend The Yeti), headphones (Bose, not Beats, trust us) and recording software (Audible is free and easy) because even if your content is good, no one’s going to bother listening if the quality of the sound sucks.

VINYL COLLECTING
A majority of today’s vinyl collectors fall into two groups: They’re either revivalists resurrecting old school, second-generation collections that have been handed down or newbie aficionados who dig anything retro. Yes, of course, this can be a world filled with snobbery, elitism, and hipsterisms. But, there’s something awesome about hearing that sound, especially if you’re used to compressed mp3’s and iphone headphones. It’s like hearing music for the first time. No matter how you start, you probably will never finish as vinyl collecting can be an addicting, expensive and time-sucking hobby. Any collector will tell you (and they will, trust us) that there’s no greater joy than digging through a crate of records and finding a rare classic in a dusty record store or garage sale. Whether it be the warmer analog sound quality or the simple fact that you can hold a record album in your hand, there is an unsung sentimentality that comes with vinyl, a personal connection between musician and listener that is weak with CD’s and non-existent in the modern era of streaming. That is why vinyl will never go the way of the cassette tape because modern artists such as Tame Impala and Run the Jewels love the hobby as much as the collectors, often putting out limited edition vinyl editions themselves. A few insider tips before you get started. If you’re looking for something specific, online shops like Soundstage Direct, Amoeba, Amazon (new releases) and Ebay (for rare finds) are a great way to build up collections. Also, don’t blow your wad on records and go cheap on audio equipment to play it on, especially speakers and headphones. Do some research on locating basic set ups, you don’t have to spend a mint to get a solid, entry-level set up when you start out. We particularly love U-Turn Audio’s humble, crowd-funded start up rig.

COFFEE ROASTING
If you’re among the culinarily inclined and love experimenting in the kitchen, coffee roasting is like a delicious experimental chemistry set. Coffee is like wine for the daytime. They both have complex flavors and distinct aromas that you appreciate even more when you know the “where, what and why” behind them. If you scoop your beans from a Folgers can, coffee roasting probably isn’t for you, but for those of us who can taste and smell the difference between an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and a Colombian La Morelia it is caffeine worship at its highest form. Like all good leisurely activities, you get what you put into roasting coffee as it can be as exacting and technical as you want it to be. At its most basic form, you’re heating up green (un-roasted) beans and turning them brown. Thus, you can go cowboy-style and simply heat them in a skillet over a burning fire or go all Juan Valdez with it by purchasing professional roasting equipment. For connoisseurs who live for the smell of brewed coffee, there is no finer coffee aroma than when you roast the beans. DIY roasting is also more economical (raw coffee beans are 50-75% cheaper and last longer so you can buy in bulk), plus you're less likely to fuck it up than that home-brew batch you cooked up last summer that smelled like cat shit. Again, internet research is your friend and there are many passionate and helpful online communities that can help you on your quest for the perfect cup.