Aldona Bird, Community

Some hobbies more inspiring

Gardening and chickens; my quarantined time hobbies are completely average. Many — whether inspired by existing hobbies or by food shortage concerns — have used spare time to produce more of their own food.

 Increases in gardening and chick raising has resulted in seed companies, greenhouses, nurseries and hatcheries selling out much faster than usual.

While I feel rather ordinary in my use of extra home time, some of my friends used their time alone extraordinarily.

 Steve Sabino, with a pre-existing pinball playing hobby, finally got around to restoring a broken machine he’d had in his garage for months.

 “I got into pinball probably two years ago — it’s something I like to play at arcades and bowling alleys,” Steve said.

 Finding a good price for a disassembled pinball machine, he jumped on it. He describes it as a LEGO set with no instructions.

 Steve found members of online pinball communities willing and eager to help newbies fix old machines.

 “You have all sorts of people who have been working on these machines for decades,” Steve said.

 He started working on his old machine in late March.

 “I’m nearly finished — all I’m doing now is finishing some of the wiring on it,” Steve said. “Functionally, it’s good to go.”

 Since his first repair went so well, Steve said, “I’ve already purchased another project.” He said it’s on its way and should arrive just as he’s all done with the first.

 “Right now my intention is to keep them,” Steve said. He enjoys having the option of playing at home, instead of sinking quarters into a pinball machine at an arcade.

 Extra time at home due to the quarantine gave another friend, Jason Ruehl, motivation for a big step into his new hobby: Hosting a podcast — the Esoteric Book Club.

 The idea for the podcast evolved from a physical book club at a large bookstore where he once worked. While the books sold, no one showed up for discussions. Jason thought an online discussion would draw better participation.

“Personally I listen to a lot of podcasts,” Jason said. He decided to try the format for sharing book and news article reviews, but recording a first episode was a time-consuming project.

 Now, three episodes in, Jason releases a new podcast on his YouTube channel (Esoteric Book Club Podcast, also on Instagram) each full moon.

 “There is a market, I think, for what I’m doing,” Jason said. While there are many books on paranormal, supernatural and mystic subjects (Jason noted publishers in the industry focus on producing quantity over quality), “there’s not really a selection for reviewers of books on this topic.”

 He noted that topics like UFOs, cryptids, ghost hunting, magic, etc. aren’t for everybody. He tries to keep his podcast entertaining for a broad audience. Listeners don’t need background knowledge in all things bizarre. “They have to have an interest, or at least a willingness to listen and learn about these things,” he said.

 The first episode — for which he asked people not to judge his performance too harshly — covers Conjure, a folk magic tradition with roots in West Africa, which has been continued and adapted in Christianity.

 He’s been on a roll since he produced that first episode. “More than anything, what the quarantine did was get me over the first hurdle,” Jason said.

 “My best advice is, just produce something. Know the first one is probably going to be bad, but that’s OK,” Jason said.

I found his recommendation to practice, learn and grow inspiring.

ALDONA BIRD  is a journalist, exploring possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County.