New Things for the New Year
December 11, 2009 10:39 AM   Subscribe

My goal for the year 2010 is to try one new thing every week. I'm compiling a list of new things to try, and would love input! Looking for ideas in all different areas -- new skills to learn, new hobbies to try out, fix-it projects, tech/computer projects, new recipes to try, magic tricks, you name it.

As examples, here's a few things that are on my list already:

- Fix my broken lamp
- Build a lightbulb terrarium
- Learn to knit
- Make an origami crane
- Install Mac-on-a-stick
- Bake bread from scratch
- Eat fried gator (a local Cajun restaurant I go to serves this; I've always wanted to try it)
- Ride in a hot air balloon

There are no wrong answers (except "learn a new language" or something that takes longer than a week to do). I have found some good ideas from these previous AskMe threads, but would love to hear more! Help me fill up my weeks with fun new stuff for the year. Thanks in advance!

PS: Today I did a new thing -- posted my first question to AskMe.
posted by stennieville to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 132 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can make a mosaic using ordinary items. This dice portrait inspired me to make a similar one for my girlfriend using M&Ms. I took about a dozen bags of M&M and several glue sticks, but was an extremely fun & satisfying project.
posted by gushn at 10:44 AM on December 11, 2009

On difficult cooking things:

Make pasta from scratch
Make a souffle... make two souffles: cheese & chocolate :)
posted by brainmouse at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2009

learn to fly a quad-line stunt kite.
posted by Gungho at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: All of these suggestions assume you haven't done them before, obviously.

- Take a ride in a small aircraft. Commercial air travel is to Cessna as a Greyhound bus is to Formula 1.

- Fast for a day. Lots of people from many religious perspectives have found it to be spiritually meaningful, if done deliberately.

- Read a novel--a good one--in a single sitting. Books are very different when encountered in this way.

- Install Linux. Okay, this may take more than a week, but it's worth trying.

- Take control of your finances and open an IRA. Totally worth doing, and this one could benefit you for years.

- Do without the Internet or television for a week. Or just without the TV if circumstances won't permit the former. Highly recommended.

- Plant something to eat.

- Eat something you've grown.

- Ride a horse.

- Attend a local government meeting. These can actually be more interesting than they frequently sound.

I was going to suggest "Grow a beard," but then I read your profile. So probably not.
posted by valkyryn at 10:55 AM on December 11, 2009

Take a look at the 101 in 1001 project, based here. Lots of lists, many made by people who want to try new things. Here's mine. The idea is that you try to accomplish 101 things in 1001 days, which is about the sort of timeline you're looking at.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:57 AM on December 11, 2009

Read a book in a genre that you have never read and, preferably, look down on (this might take some hunting for review sites related to that genre) -- I used to sneer at romance novels until a friend who was a fan made me read a couple. I don't love them, but I have read a few more since then, and they are OK. If that's too long, listen to music froma genre you think you despise.

Cook a dish from a cuisine with which you are unfamiliar.

Play a classic game that you have never played (chess would be good, and I am quite partial to shogi).

Learn to order coffee and pie in as many languages as you can stand (this may come in useful).

Weed your personal papers, shred what you can dispose of and file the rest nicely.

Write a post card a day to people you haven't talked to in a while.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:58 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Walk a hiking trail you haven't been on. Visit a museum or gallery. Clean your refrigerator coils. Write a letter of compliment or complaint. Read something from an unfamiliar genre. Plant herbs in your kitchen window.

Sounds like fun!
posted by lakeroon at 11:00 AM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: Each February I make a new musical instrument every day (inspired by thing-a-day). You could make a pretty nice little musical instrument in a week!
posted by moonmilk at 11:00 AM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: + take a weekend or day trip to a city you've never been before
+ make an article of clothing
+ use a sewing machine
+ sing karaoke
+ sign up for a seminar about something you've always wanted to learn about
+ learn to juggle
+ walk/ride your bike/run further than you've ever walked/ridden your bike/ran before
+ don't talk for a day
+ go on a blind date
+ make a claymation movie

these are just some ideas, and obviously some of them might not apply. have fun! every year i pick one month and do something new every week, so props to you for trying it out every week this year!
posted by too bad you're not me at 11:05 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

In the same vein as valkyryn's suggestion to attend a local government meeting, visit your local courthouse and observe part of a trial or hearing.

Randall "XKCD" Munroe blogged a while ago about using Project Euler problems to learn Python and Lisp. You may not be able to achieve mastery, but I imagine you could pick up the rudiments of a new programming language in a week.

Take a stochastic road trip, using dice or another randomness-generator to determine your route as you go.

Odds are you already know about these, but Instructables and Make probably have enough project ideas between them to keep you busy for the rest of your life.
posted by tellumo at 11:06 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pinhole camera!
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Try cooking [with] a completely-new-to-you vegetable/meat/spice. Asian supermarkets are a great source for "weird" produce, seafood and meat, if you have one in your area.

I use the term cooking loosely, as eating things raw counts, too, in my book.
posted by SixteenTons at 11:15 AM on December 11, 2009

And of course farmers' markets. Between a good farmers' market and an Asian supermarket, you should be able to come up with 52 new foods (though upon reinspection of your query, you're not looking for quite this type of suggestion. Maybe "cook a meal using only foods you've never used before" is a more appropriate suggestion. Whatever. It's obvious that I only ever think about food. It's a problem.)
posted by SixteenTons at 11:19 AM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: This might not be what you are looking for, but volunteer... Just do a few hours in a soup-kitchen. You never know what might come of it.
posted by sporaticgenius at 11:21 AM on December 11, 2009

Response by poster: These are all great! Keep 'em coming, at this rate I'll have enough to carry me through 2011. I will go through later and mark some best answers, I suspect I'll end up marking everything.
posted by stennieville at 11:41 AM on December 11, 2009

Listen to a heavy metal album, all the way through.

Then listen to an opera, all the way through.
posted by Darth Fedor at 11:47 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Visit a new country/state/town you've never visited before.

Change the oil on your car.

Build a fence.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: Perform stand-up comedy at an open mic.
posted by brainwane at 12:25 PM on December 11, 2009

Eat Vegetarian or go Vegan, this would probably take some preparation. Alternately, just eat local foods (this will be easier if you do it when you can visit your local farmer's market.)

Learn to watercolor, even if you just bought a cheap kids watercolor set.

Going along with learning to knit, maybe you could learn to spin on a drop spindle.

I second learning to change the oil in your car.

Go to a Community Theater Production.

Make sandwiches or brown bag lunches and hand them out to the homeless and panhandlers.

Be a tourist in your own hometown. Visit all the things that visitors go to, do, and see but that locals tend to avoid or that they don't have time to do.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: Attend a dance lesson, or one of those nights where there's a half-hour lesson and then a few hours of dancing.

Try a yoga class. (You won't "learn yoga" in a single class, but the point is the experience, right?)

Chop down a tree. This sounds weird, but I did it last summer, clearing out my backyard, and it was surprisingly rewarding.

Try your hand at winemaking.

Attend a performance or an exhibition in a medium with which you're unfamiliar. Maybe you know nothing about spoken word performances, or modern art, or opera--now's the time to try it out!

Write a poem.

Write a short story.

To go with your homemade bread, make some jam or butter.

Attend a worship service for a faith that is not your own.

Try a new sex act! Maybe rimming has always sounded interesting, or you've secretly thought it'd be fun to spank someone. Find a willing partner and go for it.
posted by MeghanC at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2009

- Make a list of all the museums in your city that you've never been to and pick one each week to visit.
- Learn how to set up your camera to take pictures of a meteor shower. Or, just learn how to use all the settings on your camera.
- Sign up for a sport or other physical activity class you've always wanted to try (fencing? tai chi?).
- Take a cooking class.
- If you play an instrument or sing, learn or write a new song each week.
- Teach yourself how to whistle.
- Learn how drive stick.
- Participate in a beach/river clean-up.

There are some additional ideas are in this thread, too.
posted by vespertine at 1:07 PM on December 11, 2009

That's "learn how to drive stick", gah. Oh, and related: learn how to parallel park with ease. I should put that one on my own list, seeing as how I struggle and still regularly end up two feet away from the curb ;)
posted by vespertine at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: Make magazine has a section devoted to inexpensive weekend projects, which you can also download as podcasts in iTunes. Maybe you should try:

Make a cigar box guitar (based on the suggestion from moonmilk)
Build a ladybug robot
Build an ancient spear
Make your own stilts
Try tilt shift photography
Make a secret compartment book
Aerial kite photography

A lot of these incorporate other fun/interesting things to learn, like basic electronics, soldering, photography, etc.

Their sister magazine Craft also has a lot of cool projects that might be up your alley, with the knitting and whatnot.

Good luck!
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you have a climbing wall, go there, learn the basics of climbing, and go for a couple of sessions.

Make pasta from scratch.

Walk to somewhere that you usually go by car or public transport (best to do this in late spring).

Work as a life model.

If you have time, work on an organic farm.

Learn to do a handstand or headstand.

Go to a wine(or whisky)-tasting evening.

Go to a casino or other gambling event, with money that you're prepared to lose. Lose it.

Build and sleep in a bivouac.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:55 PM on December 11, 2009

Send thank you notes to people who aren't expecting one.

Spend a day in a wheelchair.

Go to a church service in a tradition you are not necessarily comfortable with.
posted by eleslie at 2:07 PM on December 11, 2009

Find the best walking paths in your area.

Learn to ride a bike/find best bike paths.

Volunteer at a nursing home, let a few geezers tell you their stories.

Learn to pray or meditate.

Visit every library in your area.

Build a pc from scratch.

Paint a room.

Visit every museum/historic site/scenic overlook/tourist attraction in your area. I did this one summer; it was really fun, though, livin in Maine, I barely made a dent.

Learn to rollerskate/iceskate/ski/snowboard.

Go bowling.

Go sledding.

Really listen to new types of music (see visit the library).

great question.
posted by theora55 at 2:38 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: Go to a shooting range

Put together an emergency preparedness bag

Volunteer at an animal adoption group (very rewarding)

Get certified in CPR

Go to bed earlier every night for the full week and wake up earlier

Call a different family member or friend you haven't talked to in a long time each day of the week.

Go horseback riding

Learn to play a new game like chess or Texas Hold'em

Watch a season of a really great TV show. I suggest The Wire.
posted by skewedoracle at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2009

Learn to throw a frisbee sidearm.

Make fudge.

Incorporate Kegel exercises into your regular routine.

Learn the Alexander Technique.

Join your local library and see what they have in stock. (Week 2: check out whether they have graphic novels and read a series through. Sandman would be a good start.)
posted by biffa at 6:28 PM on December 11, 2009

If you want to stretch yourself a bit, I second going to a religious service in a tradition that's unfamiliar. Similarly, attend an event where you'll be a definite minority, volunteer to help people that you want to judge negatively, or do anything that you've been avoiding out of moderate discomfort, even it it's just buying an unfamiliar fruit from the Korean store on the corner. It might not be as immediately fun as learning to play a ukulele (I recommend that, too!) but it can build strengths you didn't know you had and make you open to even more experiences.
posted by PatoPata at 6:30 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Learn to tie really cool knots

Take a walk in a random park

Learn to identify the local flora and fauna

Join something

Learn about who your local streets/schools/buildings are named after

Take a fencing class
posted by zeoslap at 6:30 PM on December 11, 2009

Do some volunteer work for a charitable organization or your community. Not only does it feel good, but you always meet interesting people.
posted by consilience at 11:06 PM on December 11, 2009

posted by jeremias at 11:21 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and helpful replies -- you've given me a lot of great ideas. Lots to tackle in the new year. Bring on 2010!
posted by stennieville at 9:46 PM on December 15, 2009

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