Mental Escape with Benefits
December 5, 2008 3:05 PM   Subscribe

What hobby/activity can I do while listening to music/podcasts? The catch? I want some tangible product or useful skill as an end result.

Typically I listen to music while playing video games or mindless browsing the web. Although I enjoy the mental escape that it provides, I would prefer to have something tangible as a result of this time.

Knitting and the like would be a perfect answer except for the fact that it does not appeal in any way to this 30-something male.

I imagine it would be something with my hands? Gardening might be good, but it seems difficult to do regularly during the winter.

Any suggestions?
posted by verevi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Draw. Paint.

Learn Photoshop/Quark/InDesign/Illustrator/what have you.
posted by ROTFL at 3:10 PM on December 5, 2008

posted by fire&wings at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2008

Best answer: I like cooking while podcast consuming.
posted by mmascolino at 3:22 PM on December 5, 2008

Ditto cooking/baking/brewing; I almost can't cook without music anymore.

posted by peachfuzz at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2008

Best answer: Woodcarving. Polymer clay. Ceramics.
posted by Sailormom at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2008

Make a quilt! I find quilting and the TV series House go hand in hand.
posted by Meagan at 3:34 PM on December 5, 2008

I love knitting, crocheting, tatting, or embroidering while listening to podcasts. Needlework and podcasts seem to be made for each other.
posted by mosessis at 3:37 PM on December 5, 2008

Best answer: Chainmail! $50 worth of standard size alum. rings should get you like a square foot and few weeks' worth. Doesn't matter what you make. It's fun to just kneed a few pounds of finished mail when you're watching TV or whatever. (It's exactly like knitting, coincidentally, but with pliers and metal. rawr!)
posted by cowbellemoo at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2008

posted by bilabial at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2008

Best answer: Knitting? Haha, just kidding, I actually read the question. My serious answer is:
Tile Mosaic.
posted by smalls at 3:53 PM on December 5, 2008

Seconding Chainmail :)
Once you have an idea how it works, you can mindlessly weave away and when you look down, suddenly you have something tangible. Feel free to memail me if you'd like some help getting started.
posted by AltReality at 4:04 PM on December 5, 2008

Oh, and in case price is a factor in the chainmail decision, you can make your own rings instead of buying cut rings in bulk. It involves rolling the heavy-gauge wire around something using a wood (or metal?) jig and then cutting them. I assume the better the jig/cutter mechanisms, the less elbow grease you'll need, so there's an additional DIY incentive.
posted by cowbellemoo at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2008

Seconding chainmail. You'll love what you create.

(Full disclosure: I'm a rabid knitter who dabbled in chainmail. As cowbellmoo said, though, it's so much more rawr ;) )
posted by kalimac at 4:22 PM on December 5, 2008

freelance production work or data-entry.
posted by muscat at 4:32 PM on December 5, 2008

Best answer: Fly-tying--it's very interesting and there are endless variations.

Of course then you'll have to take up flyfishing, but that's okay because you can listen to podcasts while you do that, too.
posted by exceptinsects at 4:40 PM on December 5, 2008

Fourthing chain maille, but I wanted to add: you don't have to make crazy gear for LARPers (unless you want to and then, yes, go for it!).

My boyfriend has made gorgeous bracelets for men that get a lot of compliments and he made a really awesome stainless steel piece for his mother to use in the kitchen to get the smell of garlic off her hands. Not sure if it works, but the piece sure is nice.
posted by faunafrailty at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2008

Not to piggy back, but can someone elaborate on the chain mail? What can you make if you're not a ren faire person or whatever?
posted by sweetkid at 5:20 PM on December 5, 2008

Response by poster: Really great answers, thanks! And as sweetkid requested, what can you make with chain mail?

And what did muscat mean by "freelance production work"?

posted by verevi at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2008

Historically I've made a lot of pasta while listening to podcasts. (Mmm, mindless dough rolling.)

Lately, running things though a DIY letterpress has been my podcast activity of choice. Screenprinting is another way to keep your hands busy while listening.
posted by aint broke at 7:22 PM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

Seconding cooking.

I don't have cable TV and can only get two broadcast stations. Podcasts are my main source of entertainment.

My computer setup is in the dining room, which isn't very close to the kitchen in my house, and cooking, especially running water, tends to be rather noisy.

So, I bought a remote speaker to hook up to the computer so I could listen to podcasts in the kitchen. It's been SO worth it.
posted by marsha56 at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2008

You can make all kinds of jewelery in chainmail style. Watch chains, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, you name it!
The main thing with chainmail are the many different weaves you can do, all of varying difficulty, complexity, and design. The nice thing is most crafters post how-tos, photos, insturctions etc on how to make your own.
A lot of companies offer beginner kits with some basic tools, a few rings, and instructions. Check out these fine retail establishments:

Urban Maille
The Ring Lord
Art of Chainmail

Look at your local craft fairs! Not just the Ren fairs, but those Christmas shows held at the high school, you know.

This is almost entirely secondhand. I don't really do it much. My mom is really into it, hard core. She has all the paraphernalia. Or crap.
It's not too hard to learn, just a little time consuming, and a challenge to learn. Good luck!
posted by photomusic86 at 7:55 PM on December 5, 2008

Chainmail cubes! I wasn't in it for anything wearable, it's just really neat to feel the fabricness of mail once you've got a nice area done. Has a great sound, lots of heft, and 'puddles' (collapses) like liquid. It's just a fun bit of material to make a play around with. I got bored, and you may too, but it's a fun skill to have and the costs of entry to the craft are very small.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:10 PM on December 5, 2008

If you do chain, make your own rings. it's not that hard and much cheaper.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:31 PM on December 5, 2008

Learn to do stuff with clay.
posted by fructose at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2008

Okay, you said no knitting... but I'm just going to suggest a few resources that might change your mind. For example, the first knitting project I ever suggest to anyone is Tychus, a simple but pretty damn manly hat pattern. Imagine it without stripes if you don't like them.

These two scarf patterns: Exchequered and Binary.

There's a whole issue of online magazine Knitty devoted to men's knitting. And check out Men Who Knit, a forum and blog ring of male knitters. If you decide to learn, Knitting Help is a brilliant website, lots of videos.

Sticking to gender stereotypes is boring. Making stuff out of string is awesome.
posted by teraspawn at 10:17 AM on December 6, 2008

Oh, and you could also knit yourself a Doctor Who Scarf, if you were so inclined.
posted by teraspawn at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Learn to juggle. Learn to pen-twiddly. Learn some fancy card shuffling. Learn some sleight of hand tricks. Clean. File papers. Sketch. Crunches, pushups, stretch/yoga. Brush the cat/dog.
posted by lemonade at 10:14 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

in design/advertising we call the execution of art direction "production work." Things like typesetting or drawing predetermined layouts. I used to do a lot of it and it doesn't really require a lot of cognition... so I used to listen to a lot of NPR (like, every single episode of This American Life).
posted by muscat at 1:26 PM on December 9, 2008

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