Tell me your weirdest, most niche interest! July 2, 2015 7:47 PM   Subscribe

I see a lot of people who say they're intimidated by posting FPPs because they're pretty sure no one else would be interested in what they find cool. I'm curious now: what kinds of niche interests and hobbies do you guys have? Tell me your nerdiest, most obscure pet fascinations!
posted by sciatrix to MetaFilter-Related at 7:47 PM (334 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

...when I go to Target, I always get frustrated by trying to plan a path through the store that a) hits all the clearance sale endcaps, and b) doesn't involve crossing my path.

THERE NOW EVERYONE KNOWS!
posted by mikurski at 7:51 PM on July 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Just this instant I am fixated on whether I can make a plushie Mars Rover for my Mars-Rover-obsessed 4-year-old, and I've been looking up pictures of Curiosity and Opportunity, and looking at plush giraffes to figure out how to make the long "neck."

Things You Surprisingly Cannot Buy On The Internet: Plush Mars Rovers
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:53 PM on July 2, 2015 [25 favorites]


ion traps all day err day

someone please give me a job
posted by kagredon at 7:57 PM on July 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hallowe'en. HAUNTER 4 LIFE, y'all.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:01 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a small library of books in two languages (I inherited a set in Russian from my grandmother) on the occult, UFOlogy, conspiracies, unexplained phenomena, etc. As a child I owned a 30-odd volume set encyclopedia on the subject. I have seen every episode of Ancient Aliens, which is not a good television show by any measure. I also coincidentally worked directly across the street from where Ray's Occult Books is supposed to be. Coincidence?
posted by griphus at 8:03 PM on July 2, 2015 [20 favorites]


I play in an improv theatre style multi game internationally networked vampire larp of Vampire the Masquerade. That's pretty niche.

Um... I'm culturally jewish, but not religious. Jew-ish, if you like.

I'm intrigued by the rise of subcultures and fandoms and kink communities and social justice consciousness on tumblr, but I won't say which if any of that I'm part of.
posted by gryftir at 8:13 PM on July 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


I am absolutely obsessed with orangutans. If searching the internet for them ever becomes illegal my youtube history is really going to fuck me.
posted by item at 8:16 PM on July 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm also obsessed with Booth Tarkington. Why is Booth Tarkington not on high school curricula in the US, y'all? He's very entertaining and won the Pulitzer twice, along with Faulkner and Updike.

Also with the Illinois shutdown (yo, did you know the whole state of Illinois is shut down?) but I'm too close to it to post about it.

Also with tiny houses.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:20 PM on July 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


HUMAN SACRIFICE
posted by poffin boffin at 8:22 PM on July 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


Mazes (the more elaborate the better) and symmetry. I especially like it when the two things come together.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:23 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Eve Online, except that I've never played it and have no wish to whatsoever. I will read fucking anything about Eve.
posted by Etrigan at 8:23 PM on July 2, 2015 [23 favorites]


I am fascinated by determining the precise location of that fictional locations in Seattle-set TVs and movies would occupy. For instance Seattle Grave Hospital appears to be located at the base of the space needle, and depending on which window view you believe Mr Grey's apartment may be hovering somewhere above the sound.
posted by Artw at 8:26 PM on July 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can nerd out at length on the intersection of botany and cooking.
posted by pemberkins at 8:37 PM on July 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've mentioned it here before, but I used to collect ceramic ashtrays shaped like U.S. states.
posted by marxchivist at 8:38 PM on July 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Deep breath) The ones I'm happy to publicly admit to:

The Northern Lights
Spacecraft that have left the solar system
Z80 Assembler
Non-edible uses of cheese
Carry On films
Animal Crossing (video game franchise)
Folklore of Worcestershire
The early writing of Clive Barker
Domestic rainwater drainage
Walks of over 1,000 miles in distance
The book "Birds of America"
Spin bowling in cricket
Catching fireflies
Scandinavian emigration to the USA
The socio-economic similarities in island living
Amiina
Isaac Newton
Herb growing
Typewriters
Avebury and Salisbury Plain
Playing the piano
Going from mid-40s and unfit to running a half-marathon
The history of subject-based Internet resource descriptions
The history of UKOLN
Retaining and improving (human) memory
Astronomy
The ISS
Why people in the USA often vote against their economic self-interests
The uses of badges
Boat trips around the Scandinavian coastline
Tarot readings
Sega Dreamcast games
Mushroom circles
Hanafuda
Foods that can be deep fried
The ZX Spectrum
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Godzilla
Geocaching
Boomerang throwing
Endangered apple varieties of England
The fauna and flora of Los Angeles
The concept of "home"
Rural walking at night
English cathedral libraries and their collections
How to write a decent FPP on MetaFilter
Keeping a spreadsheet of my niche interests (seriously)
posted by Wordshore at 8:55 PM on July 2, 2015 [42 favorites]


porny Alistair/Cullen Dragon Age slashfic
posted by Jacqueline at 8:59 PM on July 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I can get weirdly obsessive about pirate kitsch, suspension brides, failed revolutions, Flann O'Brien novels and obscure old soul records. Also, really elaborate, dirt cheap rhinestone earrings that defy anything like good taste. I also have a sort of insane amount of party dresses, so many that merely browsing through racks of tulle skirts fills me with a deep satisfaction.
posted by thivaia at 9:00 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


My list is extensive, like Wordshore's, but without any spreadsheets. But look, I did my first FPP on funicular railways and while it was no 250-comment party monster, it went over well enough.
posted by wintersweet at 9:07 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am seriously nerdtastic about making MeFi posts and therefore necessarily MeFi in general. I guess that's only kind of obscure to you all, but I assure you it is absolutely a very niche hobby to pretty much anyone else I know.
posted by flex at 9:10 PM on July 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


mikurski: "...when I go to Target, I always get frustrated by trying to plan a path through the store that a) hits all the clearance sale endcaps, and b) doesn't involve crossing my path."

Don't worry, there is an FPP for you.
posted by capricorn at 9:15 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not super obscure but -

American Primitive Guitar - it's this weird kind of solo (mostly) acoustic guitar (mostly) instrumental music that basically takes the toolbox of old fingerpicked country blues and uses that to create somewhat avant-garde compositions often in strange tunings, kind of like Mississippi John Hurt meets Terry Riley or something.

It all stems from John Fahey but it's having a sort of renaissance at the moment.
posted by saul wright at 9:16 PM on July 2, 2015 [15 favorites]


I am a dilettante and/or Renaissance woman. I get nerdy into whatever topic is presented to me. Listening to "All Things Considered" this evening got me very excited about price tags and Quakers.
posted by jaguar at 9:17 PM on July 2, 2015 [24 favorites]


Ancient/historical astrology and occult and original books on these topics
Tarot cards and Tarot reading
Mythology
I Ching and related Taoist philosophy
Illuminated manuscripts
Talismanic jewelry
Baroque music and opera
MyNoise.net (thanks, Metafilter!)
Surrealist and dadaist art
Writing historical fiction
Foreign cinema
Metafilter (wow, so meta)
posted by Atrahasis at 9:19 PM on July 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


(Maybe what I'm nerdy about is being interested in other people's interests. I was one of the few English majors in college who enjoyed listening to classmates complain about their Organic Chemistry classes. People are fascinating.)
posted by jaguar at 9:19 PM on July 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


I wonder if posting fear also arises in a sense that your tastes are uninteresting by virtue of being commonplace, but I'd encourage folks to post anyhow. My Pokémon-related posts come to mind as simply blips on the front page (and minor framing issues didn't help). But in line with the spirit of this MeTa, the content made me happy, and I love seeing FPPs where I can tell that's true for the poster.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:20 PM on July 2, 2015


Not really a hobby but I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the exchange rate of latinum to Starfleet credits in DS9.
posted by kanata at 9:33 PM on July 2, 2015 [15 favorites]


Don't worry, there is an FPP for you.

it told me i won in under five minutes

i am experiencing insufficiency

would you like me to tell you about the electronic data interchange specifications for medical claims billing and payment as well as how they relate to changes in the revised international classification of diseases (v10)?
posted by mikurski at 9:36 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's only weird because I started when I was 20, so have been playing it for 20 years now (as opposed to taking it up in retirement), but bridge. Play it, go to tournaments, read about it tons, teach it informally....
posted by gaspode at 9:37 PM on July 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Grist mill reconstruction.
posted by clavdivs at 9:47 PM on July 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Not really a hobby but I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the exchange rate of latinum to Starfleet credits in DS9.

I would eagerly read every link and comment in an FPP about this.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:50 PM on July 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


Actually, all of you should know about my weirdest niche interests because I've made posts or comments about pretty much all of them.

Words of the Year and their counterpoint The Banished Words Lists
Bulwer-Lytton and other 'weird writing' contests
Ken Nordine's Word Jazz
The book "How to Lie With Statistics"
Typefaces & Fonts (with an undying fondness for the '70s mainstays Bookman, Eurostile and Peignot)
the overused tools of '60s-'80s Funny Disc Jockeys, now only a click away on-line: "Drop-in" Quotes and SFX
some of the less-mainstream cute fuzzy animals, specifically Wombats, Capybaras and Otters
Disclaimers and Warning Labels that are less serious than they want to be

...and a BUNCH of just-off-the-mainstream media entities from Bullwinkle and The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan's ORIGINAL) to Pete & Pete and ReBoot.

Seriously, I can't think of any particular interest I haven't mentioned on MetaFilter... except for putting pineapple on pizza and malt vinegar on all kinds of fish (not just British Fried). But I didn't think ANYBODY wanted to know that.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:53 PM on July 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Conspiracy theories, Freemasonry, and Hermetic Magic.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:55 PM on July 2, 2015


Put me also on the "dilettante" bandwagon.

I have Pinterest filled with Art Nouveau stuff. Tumblr is mostly old games, old print ads and 70s/80s decoration and stuff. Facebook is music and tvshows. Spent hours reading on the cold war or just any topic on wikipedia.

I'm mostly an early 80s kid. Anything that occurred somewhere between the mid 70s and mid 90s appeals to me.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:01 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


kagredon can we do awesome mass spec together y/n
posted by en forme de poire at 10:14 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


This one crazy website called metafilter.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:20 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Freely improvised music

Trumpet circular breathing

Nathalie Sarraute
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:21 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kierkegaard (particularly his late tracts "Attack On Christendom" and " Training in Christianity")
posted by riverlife at 10:22 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


John Hughes films and the U.S. Coast Guard
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:41 PM on July 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Air drying laundry on a clothesline and creating satisfying colour pattern with the order in which I hang my clothes. And combined with this, I am fascinated by municipalities that ban outside air drying of clothes.
posted by Thella at 10:45 PM on July 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've recently been geeking out pretty hard on Japanese temples and shrines. In particular, pilgrimage routes that incorporate said temples and shrines.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 10:48 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Disney deaths! Anything morbid or unsavoury at the Disney parks, to be honest.

Yep that looks a lot weirder written down
posted by ominous_paws at 11:11 PM on July 2, 2015 [32 favorites]


Hikaru dorodango
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:28 PM on July 2, 2015


The supernatural, hauntings and witchcraft in particular. I've never encountered anything nor do I wish to, but I know a few who have. I hate horror movies and fiction, though.
posted by peripathetic at 11:35 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm always going down a bunch of niche electronic music gear rabbitholes. Craziness like this
posted by naju at 11:46 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Non-edible uses of cheese

say what now
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:51 PM on July 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I am interested in vampires. I used to be more circumspect about it, but then I decided to just be upfront: I really like reading and thinking about vampires! Stories, films, cultural and literary criticism, weird biological facts, just give it all to me.

I'm also very interested in everything to do with the Arctic and Antarctic regions. I'm especially interested in the Svalbard peninsula, but really anything polar is fantastic.

This overlaps with other topics, which I generally group under the heading 'terrible things happening in cold places'. So, for example, the Franklin expedition, disasters on Everest, mysterious disappearances of mountaineering groups.

Beyond that, I love reading about mysterious, unsolved, possibly-supernatural, horripilating events. I don't think this one is particularly niche -- I've seen a few FPPs and Asks about it -- but I love it very much and my heart leaps whenever I discover a new mystery, or more details about an old one.

Also, the Albigensian Crusade and the Cathars.

I'm interested in loads of other things, but I think these are all my current obsessions.
posted by daisyk at 11:53 PM on July 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh yes, and I am one of those weirdos who loves to read other people's blogs, be they mundane or outrageous, listen to other people's dreams, all that.
posted by daisyk at 11:55 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Antique and vintage sewing machines. I collect them, I use them, I could nerd out about it for hours.
posted by christinetheslp at 11:55 PM on July 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Right now, I am focused on my critter cam, the 1930s, hand (and hand-centric) tools people use, and frogs.

And of course, I continue to work on my forthcoming opus, The Great And The Grimy: A Comprehensive Guide to American Rest Stops.
posted by julen at 11:56 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


you can't mention that you have a critter cam without posting a link

pretty sure that's a law of the internet like mandatory cat pictures
posted by Jacqueline at 11:57 PM on July 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


The way languages develop over time: being Quebecois (originally) and speaking 'French', when I speak french with french from france people, I'm always interested in that. Then I lived in Virginia for a while and there was a community of fishermen there who basically came over from England in the first half of the 1700's and kept to themselves. I was never able to understand any of them. But I felt like we had that in common - speaking a language that had developed in a vacuum. My old neighbor was Swiss and he had a friend who was also Swiss - they were reasonably educated people but speaking in the dialects of their hometowns (they grew up maybe twenty miles apart, a few valleys) they were incomprehensible to one another.

Also the design evolution of small boats - specifically Uffa Fox and what he learned about boat design in the Germany of the 1930's.

Also Moby Dick.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:01 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


My critter cam isn't hooked up to the web. I just tote it around to various sites on the property to see what critters are about and doing stuff, then I bring it in, and transfer the files over.

Sometimes I post 'em on facebook, but most of the time I just update my spreadsheet, name 'em, create rich imaginary lives for them, and if it super-good (like if one day I see the bear or the definitely-not-mythical cougar or there are non-neighborhood dogs running loose), I'll tell the neighbors. They're one up on me though because they've got an albino squirrel.
posted by julen at 12:04 AM on July 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


Also, the Albigensian Crusade and the Cathars.

Yes!

And the stone age settlements that gave rise to caves like Lascaux.

And artifacts detailing the quotidian details of life more than 2 thousand years ago.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:06 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Once upon a time, I put my 5 dream Jeopardy categories in my profile. I urge all of you to do the same!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:43 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


Tell me your nerdiest, most obscure pet fascinations!

My most obscure nerdy passion was already posted about. It's what introduced me to the topic. I am more thankful for that FPP than any other ever on the site because the main character's experience with being bullied really resonated with me and helped me get over a lot of old, old baggage that I had never quite been able to shake. r/parahumans is a neat little community.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:46 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the things especially fun about r/Parahumans. You know that scene in The Simpsons?

Doug: [wearing a T-shirt that says "Genius at Work"] Hi. A question for Miss Bellamy. In episode 2F09 when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

Imagine if the author often showed up to explain the answer with an explanation that makes perfect in-universe sense that made it clear it was all thought out ahead of time. (Just uhh, trust me on that if you haven't read the story.)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:59 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Serial killers, true crime, unsolved mysteries, conspiracy theories, the Holocaust, genocide, war (politics rather than technology), disaster survival, that sort of thing. My husband loves stories of Man vs The Environment, how do you survive the Earth when it is freezing or boiling or arid or flooded. I think I am interested in Man vs Man, or how we survive each other.

MeFi has given me many satisfying hours on this broad topic. But I like the animal videos most of all. I'm not a complete ghoul :)
posted by harriet vane at 1:12 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I know it recently had a hipster renaissance, nonetheless I love typewriters from the 30s-60s. I have 4 of them.
WWII history.
Mechanical watches.
Cigar boxes.
Fonts.
Dinosaurs.
Art supplies, esp. finding the perfect sketchbook and reading art supply reviews on blogs.
Watching makeup tutorials on youtube and never trying the techniques.
Art deco and art nouveau.
The perfect anchovy pizza.
Clouds and weather.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:40 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


From normalest to nichest: bread baking, BBC nature documentaries, vegetarian indian cuisine, characin (tetra) fish keeping, Australian politics, fairy tales and the illustrations thereof - I wrote my honours thesis on representations of beauty and the beast and how they intersect with the disney movie, hermeneutics, and, this is pretty weird, I've probably read more victorian and edwardian ghost stories than anyone else in Australia. Well, I can't imagine how they could have read more, but I don't do it so much now.
posted by smoke at 1:40 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fake alien and fantasy food in TV and movies, what they were actually made of and what a given set dresser deems "alien" enough. I call this "xenonoms".
posted by Mizu at 1:41 AM on July 3, 2015 [21 favorites]


This thread actually kind of dovetails into the Reddit Crisis topic... so many niches there, all under the same corporate ownership. I've already asked why can't somebody build separately owned & operated sites for some of these niches? I think I'm going to create one or two myself.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:49 AM on July 3, 2015


Geisha
Jane Austin's books (mainly Pride and Prejudice)
The history of food
The history of everyday people
posted by poxandplague at 1:59 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Garrett from Thief
Victorian psychiatry
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Second Life, Serial Killers, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and People who are really enthusiastic about something even if I'm not enthusiastic about the same thing.

The last thing has led to my tertiary fandom of Hannibal cosmetics and social discussions, and my fascination with the Game of Thrones that exists on YouTube and Tumblr in the form of These Really Awesome Women Do Cool Things. I also listen to a podcast about the X-men despite not reading anything X-men related, though I've been considering picking up the Storm series.

It's a weird niche.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:22 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Baby taunting ("you can't even ree-eeaad!")
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:55 AM on July 3, 2015 [19 favorites]


Things which are either bigger or smaller than the correct size for that thing, but which are otherwise identical.
(Tiny bottles of booze which maintain their branded shaped are a good example)

Sausages, especially if they are smaller (or larger) than the correct size for a sausage.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:21 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like looking at pictures of cute animals, especially cats. Weird and edgy I know but it makes me happy.

(Guess I'm just not that interesting really?)
posted by shelleycat at 3:42 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Arabian cats
posted by ambient2 at 3:52 AM on July 3, 2015


Monkeys. And, right now, specifically their poop. And individually identifying them (which is mostly done by looking at their tails, testicles, and/or nipples - females have differently shaped and sized nipples depending on how their most recent baby preferred to nurse). So, actually, right now my life is primarily staring at monkey butts (waiting for them to poop) and then their nipples, trying to figure out who they are.

And let me tell you, not all monkeys have unattractive posteriors. Mostly, what you think of as gross monkey butts are either their ischial callosities (enlarged pads that make it more comfortable for them to sit on branches) or, if they are females, they might be sexual swellings indicating whether or not they are ovulating. My monkeys, lacking both sexual swelling and ischial callosities, have lovely butts.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:22 AM on July 3, 2015 [22 favorites]


Jane Austin's books (mainly Pride and Prejudice)

Pointing people to the Calamity Jane Austin website whenever this happens.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:49 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


pen plotters; srsly, they are the best.
posted by scruss at 5:08 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


For this week, THIS SNAIL.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:09 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like fountain pens. I'd show you a picture of my ink, too but I only have half a dozen bottles at work, and the other dozen or so are at home.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:16 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Eating in Michelin starred sushiya in Japan.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:33 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Close-toed Birkenstocks

Witch hazel

Sea urchin roe

Robinson Jeffers

DJ Screw

The Scratch Orchestra and Cornelius Cardew

Gilles Deleuze

Doing sex

Pie
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:41 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think I can post on any of my interests. Either someone else would/has done a better job, or I don't think it could be done right without posting about people I know too well to post about. Basically, unless I know the people involved, I don't feel like I know enough. But I'd love to read posts that others wrote..

So, let's see-
languages (particularly ancient languages and rare languages and language change, although I'm also interested in language as information carrying medium, e.g. how efficiently do languages carry info, what sort of redundancy do they have, how does *that* change over time..)
rock climbing (not so niche these days)
webcomics (same)
unicycling (personally into big wheels+distance, but have an appreciation for all of it)
juggling (mostly club passing, and mathematics thereof)
puzzle hunts (generally of the MIT mystery hunt style)
history of math+science (particularly >1000 years ago-- most of what I know is European and some Asian, though)
linguistics of math+science
quilting
universal basic income
modular origami
board games
uni's jetstream pen
random inconsequential cultural differences-- e.g. food in the US is sold in resealable "ziplock" bags, vs here in Denmark you're expected to own poselukker-- chip clips.

things I know nothing about but would love to hear more on:
long term history of birth control
old sewing machines (alright I have a 1938 Singer I know and love, but that's not much..)
universal basic income
public art of all types
posted by nat at 5:44 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


create rich imaginary lives for them

That's a lot like how GRRM got started, you know.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:18 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


old sewing machines (alright I have a 1938 Singer I know and love, but that's not much..)

Nat - see christinetheslp above.

Currently one thing I like is industrial museums, and have gotten into old loom technologies that use punch cards ...
posted by carter at 6:27 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mechanical music toys, especially those that can be programmed by pushing plastic pins into a cylinder, even more especially if they come from ebay with the tune that the last owner put into them, probably some time in 1960 before the toy disappeared into the attic for 50 years, so that you can't bear to ever remove the pegs, and instead incorporate that odd tune into performances. (Come to think of it, I did the same thing with the voices of the former owner and his girlfriend playing around with the Dr Sample sampler that I got on craigslist.) But seriously, I have so many tuneyvilles and monkey bands, xylomatics, jelly rolls and chein cathedral organs. Very much inspired / enabled by flapjax at midnite's toy collections!

My dog [deceased], anything that reminds me of my dog, and the song "Everything Reminds Me of My Dog" by Jane Siberry, which reminds me of my dog.

Dioramas, especially tiny and eerie ones.

Adorable little succulents.
posted by moonmilk at 6:28 AM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have a 1926(?) Singer sewing machine that I actually use now and then! Years ago I wrote to Singer with the serial number and they told me the exact day it was manufactured, but I lost the letter and forgot the thing's birthday.
posted by moonmilk at 6:31 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm embarrassed about my nerdy love of badminton. It's one of those sports people laugh at, (shuttleCOCK! Lol) but it's also the only one for which I have a range of trophies and special pants.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:33 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is pretty niche : I am obsessed with finding a perfectly round stone. Nature-made, not a store-bought one. I have a collection of very, very round stones, but they are all a little flat or unbalanced somewhere. I am a constant frustration to my husband because I can't go to a beach, lake, or riverside without looking for The Perfectly Round Stone. I can spend hours, no joke, picking through stones, looking for The One.

My roundest stones, by the way, come from a fjord in Iceland and a stream in rural Spain, which had giant holes in the stream bed where the stones rolled round and round. It had lots of really good ones, but I could only take one or two because I had to carry them back up over the mountain in my pack.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 6:36 AM on July 3, 2015 [23 favorites]


fandom history and sociology
everything about the Manhattan Project that isn't the actual bombs
weird nuclear history stuff, especially New Mexican nuclear history stuff
chemical peels that make all the dead skin on your feet come off at once so you emerge from your dead shell with shiny new skin, serpent-like
posted by NoraReed at 6:37 AM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


chemical peels that make all the dead skin on your feet come off at once so you emerge from your dead shell with shiny new skin, serpent-like

go on...
posted by Jacqueline at 6:39 AM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I grow two species of South African succulent plants ( Haworthia and Gasteria) and have hundreds of them on shelves by the window in a 600 sq ft apartment.
posted by srboisvert at 6:41 AM on July 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


(they are called things like "exfoliating foot masks"; I got one from purederm recently that was imported from Korea that worked rly well. most of them are from a company called Baby Feet that are Japanese but this version cost like 1/4 as much. they're all made with fruit acids sometimes called "AHAs". also my feet are new and pink and beautiful)
posted by NoraReed at 6:45 AM on July 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


but how fast will they give me cancer?
posted by Jacqueline at 6:47 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Council's Own badges for Girl Scouts.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:48 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Non-edible uses of cheese

I'm listening.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:49 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like planes, trains, and rockets, but I don't think those qualify as niche interests around here. But probably some aspects of them do. For example: railway signalling systems. Not just the various visual indications of the signals, but the control systems and all the weird little rules that have to be implemented to prevent dangerous sequences of operation of switches, signals, etc. I played with a program where you could design all this, right down to the relay logic level, for the NYC subway system.

Along similar lines, design and signalling for road intersections is pretty neat. Some of the odd design choices and annoying behavior of other drivers starts to make a lot of sense once you've fired up a traffic simulator and tried to figure out how to get X thousand cars through a given intersection per hour.

For example: an extra lane that appears just before an intersection and then disappears again after it. How annoying is it when people drive past you in that lane knowing full well they'll have to merge back in after the intersection? Well, you should see how annoying it is in a traffic sim if they don't do that. Traffic backs up for miles because it reduces the capacity of the whole intersection when everybody stays in one lane.

I suppose I could also list "stuff going wrong" as a general interest of mine, related to planes, trains, and rockets, but also to just about anything else. It's not that I look forward to mishaps and disasters, but the analysis of them and things that can be learned are fascinating and often useful in other contexts. It's good to learn from your mistakes, but it's even better if you can learn from someone else's that they already made anyway.
posted by FishBike at 6:58 AM on July 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


Shoegaze and heavy neo-psych music in general.
Reading in prison.
Over-watering pot-plants.
The history of literary forgery.
Edwardian Marxism.
Theosophy, spiritualism, the Victorian occult, and the origins of the New Age.
Fringe.
The folklore of ghost sightings.
UFOs and cryptozoology, preferably considered as manifestations of the same thing. Whatever that may be.
Descriptive and analytical bibliography.
Test cricket.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:04 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


After reading Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial and Death at a formative age, I've been kind of obsessed with seeing how many of our monsters fit the cultural patterns he describes: That is, a society unfamiliar with the realities of postmortem decomposition, animal disturbance of graves, etc., reading the terrifying events they're seeing in the graveyard as vampires (swollen, red corpses au jus), werewolves (dogs digging up graves), and of course our good pals the zombies. And this also involves reading a lot about burial practices of other cultures, manuals on restorative art (although I had to sell a lot of embalming books on ebay a few years ago during financial difficulties), and the history of body-snatching and the glories of the resurrection men (including how resurrection men made the Medical College of Georgia possible, and the cool archaeological finds there, and southern regional medical history too).

But I'm also obsessed with how this shades into our cultural fear of cannibalism. Another formative text was William Aren's Man-Eating Myth, which says, if cannibalism is so common that every culture we run into has stories about it, how come anthropologists have never, ever seen it? It's a fleeting practice, apparently, and you run into a lot of, "Well, we don't do it now, but our grandparents did, but our enemies in the next village over still do it." So is it just an accusation to make against hated enemies, or did it ever really happen, and if it didn't, why does it still hold such a hidden fascination for us? So, lots of books on cannibalism as well, including histories of it as a cultural practice, and of course the individual killers who have practiced it (although less of that as I've gotten older...I used to approach each new serial killer story with avidity, whereas now it's all kinda depressing to think about).

Of course, you can't read all this depressing stuff without thinking about depression, so another fondness of mine is the history of psychiatry. I love to hear more about the barbarity of the profession's early years (and midlife), the absurdities of the theories (Fleiss's naso-genital connection), and how different schools grow and evolve.

And of course of course, you can't read about all that without books, which leads to my real obsession, book collecting. And I mean more obsession as OCD rather than "passion" or "collecting" something, apparently. I go through purges where I sell or give away tons of books...then find myself filling my rooms back up with them. I buy so, so much faster than I read. I handle this crazy addiction by hanging out mostly at used bookstores. I buy them by the yard, put them on the shelf, or the desk, or the floor, where they remain untouched. Um...trying to break that habit, actually, because it's not very healthy, but it does seem to count as an obsession.

So I eagerly await the day when some depressed bibliophile is caught desecrating graves and eating corpses, because that FPP is MINE!
posted by mittens at 7:05 AM on July 3, 2015 [19 favorites]


Hoodoo
Tarot cards
Enneagram
Shrines and altars
Thrift shopping
Virgin Mary figurines
The Rosary
Churches and cathedrals
Drum circles (never done one, but want to learn)

People of Walmart type pictures. Not to point and laugh, I like to imagine what the person might actually have been thinking when they created whatever look they are sporting: How do they think they look? Does the bearded grandpa with the big boobs in the pink tutu feel sexy or is he just trying to shock people? Are they trying to get attention or is this just a normal look for them? What are their friends and family like? Are they happy, have they survived something, are they justing hanging on? Just wondering what their story is.

Along the same lines, I really loved it when online diaries were the a thing ordinary people did. Strangers talking about the weirdness and normalcy of their personal lives was so fascinating to me.

These days, I absolutely adore Humans of New York for similar reasons. I love getting that little bit of backstory on people. It is so easy to make assumptions about other people, but so often the stories they have to tell are stuff we never would have imagined.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:08 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


What people eat in sci-fi worlds
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:17 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

mittens: I'm ... obsessed with ... burial practices and ... our cultural fear of cannibalism.
OMG! Me too! To the point where I ended up writing an obscure academic article about it. In fact, my secret dream would be to write obscure academic articles on pretty much all of the topics I listed above, but there probably aren't enough sympathetic journal editors and peer reviewers in the world for that and I need to focus on things that won't destroy my career. Such as it is.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:20 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Stationery. Not as niche as it used to be, but my interest predates the rise of stationery blogging.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:21 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


What people eat in sci-fi worlds

you should read the Expanse. the food is generally not a major point but it always is around and it's always really well-considered and it illuminates a lot of worldbuilding
posted by NoraReed at 7:24 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sonny Jim: I ended up writing an obscure academic article about it

POST IT IN PROJECTS
posted by mittens at 7:24 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


> I eagerly await the day when some depressed bibliophile is caught desecrating graves and eating corpses

I'm right here, you know.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:26 AM on July 3, 2015 [61 favorites]


you should read the Expanse.

Thanks for the recommendation. I have the first one on my to-read list, but the generic cover always turns me off when I'm choosing what to read next.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:36 AM on July 3, 2015


I don't know if it falls in the category of "interest", but obsessively collecting and tagging knowledge in Evernote. Wait...

Okay, based on some of the tags I use the most in my Evernote:

- Patterns, both just admiring the pretty, and mathematical generation of patterns
- Fibonacci, golden rectangle, phi

Hmm. Where art meets math in general, I guess.

- Zentangle, collecting tangle examples, and some doing of it.
- Fonts, and lately, hand lettering - I really really want to draw my own fonts
- Inspirational words - not, like, prayers or speeches. I mean single words, like "adventure" or "faith" or "spontaneity" . I have a list.
- Oh, lists! Yes, I like listicles. Sorry.
- Improv. I perform, but I also love reading about improv, and how to do it better, lists of short form games and types of long forms, videos of improv. Also, improvising with small children.
- bringing people together to brainstorm for a purpose, but in a loosely organized way - so, World Cafe, Open Space, 100 conversations in an hour...
- alternate ways of "doing church" and worship services, especially that involve young adults and the unchurched, and involve the arts. I'm coming from a UU perspective, so God/a god/gods welcome but not required.
- storytelling - not so niche these days. I love podcasts like The Moth, Snap Judgment, Story Collider, but also the ones that bring storytelling ideas in - 99% Invisible comes to mind. Maybe not even "storytelling" so much as "I am going to share information out loud, I'm going to do it well and creatively, and with good production values". Fictional stories too, though - see "improvising with small children" above.
- digging up information about people - a recent interest that had its beginnings in genealogy research, but then a friend idly wished she could dig up dirt on her brother's ex... It's a rabbit hole.
posted by booksherpa at 7:40 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Beating the SAT
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:50 AM on July 3, 2015


The way languages develop over time: being Quebecois (originally) and speaking 'French', when I speak french with french from france people, I'm always interested in that. Then I lived in Virginia for a while and there was a community of fishermen there who basically came over from England in the first half of the 1700's and kept to themselves. I was never able to understand any of them. But I felt like we had that in common - speaking a language that had developed in a vacuum. My old neighbor was Swiss and he had a friend who was also Swiss - they were reasonably educated people but speaking in the dialects of their hometowns (they grew up maybe twenty miles apart, a few valleys) they were incomprehensible to one another.

*chinhands* I would read the hell out of a post about this. It looks really cool and I don't know anything about it, except that Quebecois is really different from Parisian French. How common is that?
posted by sciatrix at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Jew-ish, if you like.

Oh man, I am so stealing that (it describes me as well).
posted by dry white toast at 7:53 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fake alien and fantasy food in TV and movies, what they were actually made of and what a given set dresser deems "alien" enough. I call this "xenonoms".

Also this. Mizu, have standards for "acceptably alien" props changed any in the past several years? I had never thought about that until now but it sounds really cool.
posted by sciatrix at 7:53 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hmm...

Beekeeping
American folk music (early 20th and 60s revival)
Short sci fi of the 60s-80s
Anthropology, especially biological anthropology
Animal communication and intelligence
Vampires
Serial killers
Hannibal (tv)
Right now, international criminal legal aid laws, because of my job
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:55 AM on July 3, 2015


I can get interested in just about anything, but here are two of my weirder niche interests:

- Boxer Indemnity Fund scholars and Chinese returned students. The "New & Noteworthy" link about the 1911 Spokane class yearbook? I want to do research like that, but for pre-war Chinese students in America. I already have an ass-ton of research and original documents. In fact, I am going to Harvard's Yenching Library this month to go get more.

- Roadside historical markers.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:56 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


--Construction cranes - once flashed a guy so I could sit in the seat of one (before they lifted it up though, sad face)
--Emma Hamilton
--Fossil crinoids & fossil bears
--Tenkara rod fly fishing and making my own flies
--The many wondrous varieties of eggplant and the cooking of it
--Very local natural disaster books; I just got a great book on all the avalanches that hit a particular highway in CO - there was squealing when I found this. The different avalanche chutes have names, yo!
--Butte, Montana
--Identifying and classifying all the different mountain ranges of Colorado which is more complex than you'd think
--Chickadees
--Finding free genuine leather couches on Craigslist, scalping them, and using the leather to make stuff. Fuck you, expensive leather messenger bags!
--Wind
--The perfect outdoor pants for a woman
--A group of geology friends and I are obsessed with truck commercials: we play a game in which we try to identify the filming locations. The game's being going on for 10 years and has resulted in people not speaking to each other for months, thousands of miles in travel as a group and individually to places to win arguments, a delayed wedding, and outrageous cheating. One asshole (not me) got a fucking research grant to "study sandstone in Utah" but was really for spending an entire summer driving around Utah seeing possible filming locations and then had the nerve to subtly go HAHA in the resulting publication's acknowledgements.

But who cares about any of that, I'm now obsessed with non-edible uses of cheese. Wordshore come back!
posted by barchan at 8:04 AM on July 3, 2015 [24 favorites]


I like planes, trains, and rockets, but I don't think those qualify as niche interests around here. But probably some aspects of them do

The aspects are what make it interesting! I enjoy the hell out of reading about lines, lettering, and other painting of things on runways. And being an absolute pedant for the differences between concrete/cement, tarmac / asphalt / bitumen, etc. All surfacing, pretty much. Let it all be permeable (well, if it's practical).

I've also been on around 10 cement plant and concrete supplier yard tours. They're always so happy to show off their places even if it's a little weird when I call and ask.
posted by barchan at 8:19 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Speaking of niche interests, I just posted an FPP about a recently-located prototype of a video game console that never came out that might be fake.
posted by griphus at 8:37 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm now obsessed with non-edible uses of cheese

May do a post later; busy ordering my cheesewich first.
posted by Wordshore at 8:55 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I play in a nerd-rock handbell group called Pavlov's Dogs...I think that's weird enough! (I even rang with a broken elbow...one-handed, though.)

I have a degree in Dramaturgy, which I have to explain to 95% of people. I love Fringe Festivals (am reviewing for one right now) and my record is seeing 44 plays in a week and a half. Musical theatre and site-specific theatre are also obsessions.

I sing in a choir and a cappella group and am pretty obsessed with a cappella and making my own crappy multi-track recordings.

Anything involving wordplay.

I'm pretty obsessed with the T1 Diabetes On-Line Community, and blog about diabetes and its pop-culture equivalents.

(Also, I guess I'm obsessed with edible uses of cheese...by which I mean...eating cheese.)
posted by ilana at 9:05 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's hard to gauge how "niche" something is, but here goes:

-Trains and transit...route planning and schedules/timetables
-Canadian indie band Stars
-The Brooklyn Dodgers
-Listening to Vin Scully call baseball games
-Defensive shifts in Baseball
(Yes, I suppose you could just say I'm a baseball fan, but these are particular niches within baseball that fascinate me)
-Curling!
-Constitutional Mechanics i.e. how a country's constitution functions to create order in a society. e.g. the U.S. Constitutional Order of Succession, and the Wesminster system of "Responsible Government". Perhaps best summed up by this plot line from a West Wing episode.
-Old-style political machines like Tammany Hall
-Policy wonkery
-WWII (at the macro, moving-chess-pieces level)
-Behind-the-scenes histories
-Narratives that reflect the impacts of big moments in history on ordinary people (I LOVED Mad Men, not just because of the characters but because of how it showed the characters evolving against the upheaval of the 60s).
-Transit-Oriented Development

Emerging interests:
-Day to day life in the Medieval period (I just finished watching Secrets of the Castle and loved every second of it)
-Russian history (partly sparked by watching The Americans but also just...everything about that country is epic and huge)
-Japanese culture
posted by dry white toast at 9:12 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Non-angiosperm plant reproduction - the cycles to the structures to the words (operculum!)
posted by congen at 9:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I see your operculum and raise you a peristome.
posted by pemberkins at 9:20 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm embarrassed about my nerdy love of badminton.

Don't be. Love that too. I can usually nail somebody in the face at least once per game and leave a bruise. Then they start ducking and I win. It's not nerdy at all.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:30 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Soil/Substrates
Ghost Stories
Political Philosophy
Fish Tanks
The Blues
Assistive Technology (esp. prostheses)
Tinkering (and mechanical engineering in general)
Running
TELEVISION.
posted by rue72 at 9:34 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The debris piles left behind after major weather events & natural disasters (also major weather events & natural disasters themselves, but that is less niche).
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:54 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, at the moment it's Jon Hamm.
posted by h00py at 10:04 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


But only Jon Hamm with weirdly unflattering facial hair.
posted by h00py at 10:05 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Listening to experimental music and predicting when and how it will influence mainstream pop.

Alternative Christian music of the 90s and early 2000s and other bands containing members of those bands.

Animation intended for children and the influences upon it.

Perfect carne asada "super fries" in Southern California.

Kick ass comic books that are not superhero books but which are still friendly for kids, particularly those with European or Manga influence.

Street art during the rise of Banksy and Obey.

The emotional cost of working in empathy-based jobs that typically require high level of knowledge but low pay. or: tech support
posted by sleeping bear at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I see your operculum and raise you a peristome.

Can't help but sink your teeth into the topic, eh?
posted by congen at 10:56 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


24-hour access public restroom per square mile density
compost toilets
posted by aniola at 11:08 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


vision zero
posted by aniola at 11:09 AM on July 3, 2015


Figuring out which of these are real and which will end up on a canonical McSweeney's post
posted by one_bean at 11:43 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Like the next person to ask if anybody ever collected the taglines in one place they should just be linked here
posted by one_bean at 11:44 AM on July 3, 2015


This thread is like a child's garden of future FPPs.

I'd read the heck out of so many of these (non-edible uses of cheese! Reviews of art supplies! analyses of cannibalism in popular culture! Things bigger or smaller than that which they embody! pre-war Chinese students! sci-fi food!).
posted by julen at 12:16 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Old Manual lenses and bokeh
Fountain pens and Inks, Paper
Islamic inspired Geometric art and architecture
Languages (Bengali script and poetry, Classical Tamil literature, Urdu script and etymology and German)
Philosophy of Science and Mathematics
Meerschaum carving
LED tech and flashlights, Energy storage tech
Optimal room lighting
Ceramics
Embodied intelligence, emergent consciousness, temporal experience
Manoeuvrability of public spaces, cities, affordances for humans, animals
Neuroscience of religious experience, spirituality, causality, human tendencies from a behaviorist and behavioral/cognitive perspective. Gender similarities and differences
Early history, influence of cultures, especially Greek, Indian pre-Vedic and Vedic periods
Colors
Comparative history and development of the legal system, especially Hindu, Muslim, Persian and British influences on the current Indian legal system
Cultural identity
Compressive sensing
Hinduism and alternative paths, atheism, homosexuality in Indian society


Every day I come across some (new to me) concept or the other, reading current and older Metafilter comments and posts and I think, man! I wish I knew more about that or I could try making something. But life just keeps getting in the way.
posted by ssri at 12:21 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


For well over a decade I have hosted and organized online reality TV-inspired games...
Most often "The Mole", sometimes original games I have created :)

(Please don't tell anyone I know in real life that I do this)
posted by wats at 12:28 PM on July 3, 2015


I grew up in one of the only Christian groups who maintained a dedicated opposition to the use of Sunday School, and now the history of that opposition, anti-Sunday School rhetoric, and alternative forms of Christian education are my main running niche interest. If, for some reason, you ever want a detailed lecture on opposition to Sunday School as it spread across America, I'm your guy.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:29 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


My most recent one is Empress Carlota of Mexico.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:30 PM on July 3, 2015


fangirling in literally every Mad Max: Fury Road discussion I can find
posted by nicodine at 12:30 PM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


- Glassblowing. Which, as I discovered a few years back, is maybe not so niche as I thought it was, since one of my most heavily favorited FPPs was about glassblowing videos.
- 20th century Russian avant-garde literature (see my username)
- Utopias
- NASCAR (lol)
posted by daniel_charms at 12:44 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, and another thing I almost forgot about: road design.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:46 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a Sacred Harp singer, even though I'm not a Christian in the slightest. (Many of the people I sing with aren't either, for the record.) Not as deep into researching the history of the tradition or composing new tunes as some of my friends are, but I've sung in seven different states and counting.

My other niche thing is current zines. I've written two myself and co-created a third (my concept and text, friend's art), have a collection that fills several shoe boxes, and have met several of my closest friends directly or indirectly through zine writing. My collection focuses heavily on mental health, funny personal narratives, self-care, and feminism, but there are truly zines on almost any topic you can think of, and I probably have a recommendation for you if you want one.

Bringing those two topics together, my latest zine is about my participation in sacred harp, and why I've often kept that part of my life separate from the diy/radical/zine-making part.
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:48 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I collect shot glasses and coffee mugs.
posted by Splunge at 12:56 PM on July 3, 2015


Non-edible uses of cheese
Oh boy! Have I got a podcast for you.
posted by unliteral at 1:04 PM on July 3, 2015


I guess you could eat the cheese afterwards though.
posted by unliteral at 1:06 PM on July 3, 2015


I may know more about Omaha, Nebraska than anyone on earth.

I am the writer and publisher of Twee Magazine online, so that is quickly growing to be an area of my expertise.

I am the only person alive to have conducted a fairly sizable survey of explicitly Irish-American recipes.
posted by maxsparber at 1:09 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I once wrote a book about every movie William Shatner did in the 60s and 70s.
posted by maxsparber at 1:10 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love other people's niche interests so much that I genuinely feel that 'other people's niche interests' is a weird obsession of mine. Like, if you want to talk about--literally whatever, thing, honestly, and you're super into it? I'll probably listen to you talk about it for hours and just be fucking thrilled.

The everyday lives of people are endlessly fascinating to me--what do you eat when you're alone in the kitchen at two a.m.? Why do you always take the back way home, even though the other way is slightly faster? What does outside look like for you right now? I'm slowly training my friends to send me a steady stream of snapchats: morning selfie, picture of my lunch, seven second video of my drive home from work, picture of my cat, picture of the book I'm reading, picture of the kitchen after I did dishes, etc, etc. I find it both fascinating and almost heart-burstingly delightful to have tiny glimpses into other people's lives like that.

I'm also weirdly obsessed with the way that socioeconomic markers and the interpretation thereof vary across geographical regions, mostly in an across-the-US or a comparative US-Australia kind of way, because I am a giant loser.
posted by MeghanC at 1:17 PM on July 3, 2015 [28 favorites]


oh, I almost forgot: koozies
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:24 PM on July 3, 2015


I once incapacitated a man with my right testicle. My left testicle disagreed with my motives so I had to incapacitate it too.
posted by item at 1:26 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was struggling to think of something in the spirit of this thread because mostly I nerd out about generally-work-related stuff (e.g., stats, gut microbes) or stuff that's not that niche. For example, I love and make electronic music, but I don't know much about the gearhead/custom software end, like that gorgeous link naju posted, and I'm not a particularly deep crate-digger either -- like, Warp and Tigerbeat6 aren't exactly fringey unknowns.

One thing though might be public transit systems, from the huge to the teensy.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:32 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Also wachhundfisch had an amazing comment in that thread.)
posted by en forme de poire at 1:33 PM on July 3, 2015


I once incapacitated a man with my right testicle.

What he was doing with my testicle I’ll never know.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really want to read about Disney Deaths now. And fantasy food in movies.

To everyone commenting here: If you're unsure if your niche interest is worth a FPP, it is! Post post post!

And also, I would love it if people could use this thread to link to pictures. Like the person who collects round stones.
SHOW ME YOUR ROUND STONES.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:45 PM on July 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


There was like a year or two where I couldn't stop thinking about bearbaiting. Like, that it was enough of a thing in Early Modern England that people would be like "oh I guess we could go hear a play ORRRRR we could go see some animals tear each other apart." I spent a lot of time turning this over and over in my head, just constantly thinking about how jazzed the Elizabethans were to see such a grody spectacle and who would root for the bears versus the dogs and how much warming-up of the crowd there would be and what that would entail.

As far as niche hobbies, I really enjoy digging into sand at the beach. Just with my hands; I never use any kinds of tools like shovels or rocks or anything. Just fingers, scraping, scraping. It's my favorite part of going to the beach, actually - digging a big hole with my hands, down to where the waterline is, and then filling it back up at the end of the day. Dig the hole, fill the hole. I told this to my friend once and she said that in many cultures that is their concept of Hell
posted by Greg Nog at 1:48 PM on July 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


The everyday lives of people are endlessly fascinating to me--what do you eat when you're alone in the kitchen at two a.m.?

Oh, another thing: I am very very good at cooking when insanely drunk; I mean, I'm pretty good at cooking sober, too, but there's no appreciable downtick in quality when I've just come back from a bar in the wee hours. I have occasionally woken up the next morning to find leftovers from three or four entrees in my fridge, apparently made between midnight and 4 AM. Most of the time, this involves stuff that is deep-fried.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:52 PM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


oh my god I would fund the shit out of a Greg Nog/Hannah Hart webisode
posted by en forme de poire at 1:53 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


And also, I would love it if people could use this thread to link to pictures. Like the person who collects round stones.
SHOW ME YOUR ROUND STONES.


SECONDED. Also, I really wish that snapchat were a option in the other services thing, or that other human adults used snapchat, because now I have so many feelings about how people should send me pictures of round stones and three a.m. drunkfood and zines and carne asada fries.
posted by MeghanC at 2:00 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm really good at cooking stoned. Everything I cook tastes great. Wish I knew what I do differently.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:03 PM on July 3, 2015


I've always been an intellectual magpie, and one of the things I tell people who are surprised about what random details I know about any given topic is that the secret of journalism is that you only have to know three facts about anything to ask a decent question of an expert and then you learn more things.

But here's a list of what I've been on about lately (mostly based on google search history):

Nat Turner
6th Dalai Lama
Drukpa Kunley
Legal frameworks for racial and gender identity
Michael Roach and the deaths at the Diamond Mountain retreat
Crime fiction's race problem
Siddhis
William (Big Bill) Hale Thompson
Michigan ghost towns
Carvel boats
Central American death deities
Cone tracing (computer graphics)
Migas
Epazote
Cincinnati Riots of 1836
Compromise of 1850
Evapotranspiration
Children of God
Mumblecore
1930s pulp
Chicago bop
Ozone Park Boys
posted by klangklangston at 2:06 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Humans interacting with, or evolving into, godlike beings

Practical experiments and observations which suggest a path to Artificial General Intelligence or artificial consciousness

Cognitive and perceptual defects which expose the mechanisms of consciousness in humans (e.g. the man who mistook his wife for a hat and such)
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:12 PM on July 3, 2015


macroeconomics and monetary policy :( :( :(

the saddest interests
posted by dismas at 2:16 PM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Legal/legislative interests: the Affordable Care Act, class-action settlements and their attendant agent-principal problems, civil forfeiture, freedom of information laws, economic/behavioral/psychological analysis of judicial and legislative behavior, and civil liberties generally.

Philosophical and socio-theoretical interests: the nature of knowledge and ignorance (particularly as applied to the extraordinarily fraught rabbit-hole question of what true knowledge civil and criminal trials actually produce), political theory, the phenomena of moral disagreement and moral evolution, abnormal psychology, and the impact of man-made institutions with their own evolutionary dynamic, such as the price system, on our everyday lives.

Literary interests: purely as an aesthetic matter, analysis and categorization of the successes and failures of highly ideological authors who have attempted to use art to make a political point. The failures, obviously, swamp the successes. Also, writers who are (almost certainly) emotionally troubled and have managed to exploit the tension they feel to produce something interesting: e.g., Jim Thompson.

Investment interests: math and probability as a servant of investment theory, not excluding games of cards and other gambling pastimes that are not entirely randomized. Also, confidence games generally.

Vaguely unclassifiable interests: the “Chess Blues” of the laste 1940 and 1950s and related music, late 1940s and 1950s science-fiction short stories, popular novels and magazines from the late 1940s and 1950s, comics from the late 1940s and 1950s which seem to express something otherwise inexpressible about the era such as The Spirit and EC Comics (actually, now that I think about it, I'm sensing a possibly classifiable interest here), semiprecious rocks and stones -- and, of course, most importantly: more or less everything having to do with large swaths of the original Justice League of America comic book, including the art of Dillin, Giordano, and Anderson and the writing of Wein, Engelhart, and (even) Conway.

And I would guess that there are a lot of posters here who find participation in and analysis of internet fora behavior weirdly fascinating for reasons that are very difficult to articulate.
posted by Mr. Justice at 2:18 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the things that I love about Metafilter is that a lot of my niche interests are pretty commonplace here. I am interested in a couple of weird-old-dad kind of hobbies, though:

Rubber-band powered stick and tissue model planes, particularly those from the 1930's to the 50's. Even more particularly those that aren't scale models of real planes, like these. I'm fascinated by indoor model planes, but I doubt I have the skill to build one. I built an introductory model years ago, but then I sat on it.

Live steam model trains, especially when they are British narrow-gauge. Even better if they're trundling through a garden. I think this might be a pretty common ailment in the UK, but where I live it's like WUT. I blame the evil influence of Thomas the Tank Engine.
posted by gamera at 2:50 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, one more--the Washington DC public library system! When I was unemployed and occasionally computerless in DC, I started making an effort to go to every library in the city as a way to both get out of the house and get my job apps done. I didn't keep any kind of journal of libraries, alas, but I can tell you a lot about the various merits of each branch, how to get to them by public transit, and what the surrounding neighborhood is like. Made it to every branch that was open as of when I left town, though some were housed in temporary structures while the main buildings were being repaired.

I'm also willing to bet that I've been to more Philly library branches than your average resident, but it's harder to hit every branch here because the city is more spread out.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:58 PM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


This thread is like a child's garden of future FPPs.

I'd read the heck out of so many of these (non-edible uses of cheese! Reviews of art supplies! analyses of cannibalism in popular culture! Things bigger or smaller than that which they embody! pre-war Chinese students! sci-fi food!).


Don't tempt me on the pre-war Chinese students. I have a paper to write on second language acquisition, and if I post an FPP of returned students' yearbooks then I will be compelled to pop over to Projects and start writing mini-life histories about each student in a blog or something. I'm pretty sure my Spanish professor won't accept it instead of a paper.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:23 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can I retrospectively add What German seniors keep in their basements to my list, please?
posted by Wordshore at 3:24 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't tempt me on the pre-war Chinese students. I have a paper to write on second language acquisition, and if I post an FPP of returned students' yearbooks then I will be compelled to pop over to Projects and start writing mini-life histories about each student in a blog or something. I'm pretty sure my Spanish professor won't accept it instead of a paper.

I would read the shit out of that hypothetical blog. So you know.
posted by sciatrix at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2015


I am fascinated by earth plants that look like they belong in science fiction, and I would like to plan a sci fi garden.

It's probably more of a future AskMe than an FPP.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


One bit of advice I have for people worried about making an FPP about something niche is that a really good FPP is measured by its comments, but like golf, not basketball. There are a ton of really good FPPs about some random damn thing with six comments all of which are variations on "That's neat!" And I think that is a good thing to aim for. So please post about all this stuff!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:23 PM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm another person who gets very interested in something someone is telling me about with great passion and interest, and I'm also a good cocktail party guest (although I never go to them) because I know, like, one or two facts about a whole bunch of things so I can ask a good question or two and then let you hold forth on whatever thing you're obsessed with. I do get obsessions but I have a terrible memory so will remember one or two odd facts from a reading binge (for example, there was a Byzantine emperor rumored to have backwards knees because he could run really quickly!) but most of it disappears quickly.

Here are the things that most interest me, though - none of them particularly esoteric, I think:

Female mystic saints
Green Men, but not the more new-age types but the old carvings on roof bosses in cathedrals and also in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Lorenzo de Medici (and lots of Italian history in general)
going to a beach with lots of beach glass and just spending the whole day swooping down and pouncing on pieces of it and bringing back cosmetic bags which have been emptied of cosmetics and filled with beach glass and then finding places in the house to put it
Specific authors: Dorothy L. Sayers, L.M. Montgomery, Georgette Heyer
paper ephemera, especially ladies magazines from before 1970, also scrapbooks and letters and handwriting and things like crazy quilts where little bits of people's lives get stitched into something
Edward Hopper
Gardens, and I'm hoping to see the Villa d'Este ones this October
And I love traveling places with really really old architecture and just sitting there and letting the "this is Disney/No this is real/I am sitting in a space and it's sort of like time traveling feelings" wash over me
posted by PussKillian at 4:40 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I collect spores, molds, and fungus.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:03 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


- 70s Hip Hop
- Small musical instruments
- The Ace Attorney games
- Nutcrackers
- Board & card games
- Hats & ties
- 70s sci-fi films
- True crime television/documentaries
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:06 PM on July 3, 2015


I am all serious and a respected authority Monday - Friday, but on weekends I spend a lot of time with shiny eye shadows and can't stop watching Nikkie Tutorials.
posted by stellathon at 5:19 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a lot of weird interests but by far my most niche is:

A collection of those shirts from the early 90s where the design on the back of the shirt shows the back of the design on the front (what is this called?). Often a sports team mascot kind of busting through your chest. I only have 3 of these shirts but that's 3 more than most people, I think.
posted by bobobox at 6:09 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


My main interest is being a sub-2000 user with zero FPPs.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:43 PM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I only have 3 of these shirts but that's 3 more than most people, I think.

You could have four.
posted by mikurski at 6:49 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Things I once knew a lot about: the man with two penises; the history of the speculum; British women doctors, 1865-1918.

Things that make me laugh: Norwegian black metal video set to "Yakety Sax." I occasionally catch myself scrolling through images of Norwegian black metal bands, Iron Maiden album covers, and I just think, What the hell--?

The stories behind American food.

Things I am interested in/am curious about:

Making lard. I can render pig fat and make beautiful, beautiful lard.

Why so much of my life seems to be quietly dominated by invisible algorithms.

Efficiency. What is the best route for errands with the fewest left-hand turns? How can I best turn my Hoosier (built for the kitchen) into an office, and how close to point-of-use can I find homes for various objects?

Gears, how do they work? Looms, too!

Bonnie Raitt's back catalog. "Angel From Montgomery" just does me in, and I drive around singing along in tears. More and more I want to hear older singers with Southern grit in their imperfect, perfect voices: Lucinda, Guy Clark, Steve (he kissed my forehead once!) Earle, Ray Wylie Hubbard. Why, why, why is the imperfect voice so compelling?

Roadside memorials. Why some people respond decisively in emergencies and others don't. The dangers of crowds and how architecture can ease or hamper their flow. The creation story behind the Alfred Hitchcock spooky tale anthologies (I am still vaguely squicked out by "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles").

OH! I want to know more, much more, about 1) READ Magazine (my first encounter with Stephen King, when I was 8 or so, "Battleground," and who thought THAT was a good story for tots? It was awesomely creepy. and 2) "Making It Strange," which, God, I wish were back in print. eBay is tempting, but not $125-style tempting.

Retail strategies to increase purchases: store layout, music choice, Paco Underhill kind of thing.

Joan Didion's chilly clarity.

The perfect bagel.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:07 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of obsessed with reading menus, especially cocktail menus. Sometimes after a server takes my order and tries to take the menu away, I ask to hang onto it so I can read it some more.

Sometimes I will be at a restaurant or bar and read another restaurant or bar's menu on my phone.
posted by ferret branca at 7:42 PM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


People have mentioned most of these, but:

-Baroque opera, especially Handel -- more specifically, countertenor and contralto arias from same
-Renaissance choral music
-Tarot decks and reading
-Making the perfect pancake
-Patron saints
-Names and why people choose the ones they do (for themselves and their kids)
-The A-Team (the 80s series)(seriously, no lie)
-Wiseguy (also the 80s series)
posted by holborne at 8:06 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


- Female electronic musicians from the 60s and 70s
- Music made with weird instruments
- Weird music in general
- I should probably make a fpp about jozef van wissem
- Gundam models; other robot models from other shows especially Five Star Stories
- (tiny shame voice) gundam
- (tiniest shame voice) i run the gundam weed blog
- Edward Gorey
- Magic in the ancient world
- Microtunnel boring machines; tunnel boring machines
- etc
posted by beefetish at 11:18 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


edit: i run the gundam weed blog with my ex. our synergy creates the power
posted by beefetish at 11:19 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I too late? One of my obsessions is worrying that I'm too late for these sorts of threads.

My main niche thing is one I've mentioned on here a few times but only really in shadowed corners of MeFi Music, so again: zithers. Specifically, gizmo harps and gadget zithers (the most common example being the autoharp) but more specifically than that, the gadget zithers manufactured and sold door-to-door by the Marxochime Colony, through the Great Depression and for a decade or two after.

And, you know, obsolete musical instruments in general. Anything crank-driven is lovely; I just picked up a Rolmonica through eBay, and it's a sort of cross between a harmonica and a player piano. It's possible I've bid against moonmilk on an auction or two.

Beyond that, I dunno, the usual: sea shanties, polar exploration (I did write a sea shantie -- well, more of a fo'c'sle song -- about polar exploration, but for some reason I didn't use any gadget zithers when I recorded it), Scandinavian crime films, con men and carny games, the history of Disneyland.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 11:28 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, and how pop songs are constructed.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 11:29 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


SHOW ME YOUR ROUND STONES.

The roundest stones in my collection, with a wine cork for scale. Practically speaking the largest one is probably the closest I will ever get to perfectly round in this lifetime (it is almost, almost perfect), but I keep looking. Somewhere on earth there exists a perfectly round stone, and I am going to find it.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 12:25 AM on July 4, 2015 [29 favorites]


The second largest one is pretty close! Is it flat on the bottom?

If you made a projects post about your round rock collection I would totally post it to the front page.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:03 AM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm obsessed with secret military aircraft, have been since I was a kid in the 80's and the F-117 and B-2 came out of the black world. I've spent far too much time reading about and debating things like what the huge new hanger at Area 51 is for, and what the mystery aircraft photographed over Texas and Kansas are (answer to both: the LRS-B, the new stealth bomber.)

We possibly could see 2 programs come out of the black this year: the winning aircraft in the LRS-B fly-off and the successor to the RQ-170 drone.
posted by matrixgeek at 4:34 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Man, there is something really visually satisfying about perfectly round stones.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:06 AM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


beefetish: - I should probably make a fpp about jozef van wissem

Pleeeeease do!
posted by daisyk at 5:14 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do have a thing for local history especially obscurer / offbeat stuff like ghosts and legends plus industrial history and heritage
70s and 80s British film and television
Brit crime and especially low budget brit crime films... I don't normally advocate the concept of guilty pleasures but this is the closest I get. I mean I've seen at least three films about the Essex Range Rover Murders
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:21 AM on July 4, 2015


fearfulsymmetry, I've only seen Essex Boys (fun fact: my family used to own the bungalow the lead character hides out in, and we might be visible in the background of the Southend seafront scenes -- I've never spotted us, though). Which have you seen, and would you recommend them?
posted by daisyk at 5:25 AM on July 4, 2015


I've been working on a conlang during my morning commute. Part of a larger project, but also pleasing by itself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:59 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Daisyk - Essex Boys is probably the only one that's anyway near what I'd call good (helped by having Sean Bean and Alex Kingston in it). Rise of the Footsoldier (which is more about a guy connected to the murders than the actual murders themselves) is kind of luridly entertaining helped by Craig Fairbrass (who's normally a bit rubbish but is good in this) playing a loathsome nutcase. Bonded by Blood is garbage and The Fall of the Essex Boys is even worse and a greater crime, utterly unmemorable (amazingly it spawned a sequel that looks too shoddy even for me)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:17 AM on July 4, 2015


I like to watch watercolor, mixed-media, and Copic marker speed painting on YouTube. I also subscribe to an alarming amount of YouTube channels dedicated to cats.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:27 AM on July 4, 2015


I sometimes watch a half dozen or more YouTube videos in a row of dermatologists extracting disgusting pimples, blackheads, and cysts. I do not know why I find this fascinating and comforting but I do.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:52 AM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


My degrees are in philosophy and linguistics. Physics is my hobby to a degree I have a quantum theory tattoo.

Everyone is boring and fascinating depending on where you're looking from.

I like reading about the wavelengths of specific colors.
posted by syncope at 7:18 AM on July 4, 2015


Aliexpress.

my god, its full of crap!
posted by maryr at 7:32 AM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can get weirdly obsessive about pirate kitsch, suspension brides, failed revolutions [...]

That's ... that's ... [GOOGLEOOGLEOOGLE] Oh. She probably meant suspension bridges. Oh well.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:33 AM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Airport Furniture Design.

I am 100% serious.
posted by sidereal at 7:48 AM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


I like cats, clouds, MesoAmerican civilizations, and discussing the complexities of Harry Potter and Star Wars in great, great detail.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:30 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Capoeira Angola is the thing I keep trying and failing to post about due to the "how to get someone to think this is neat in 20 seconds" factor.

Other curiosities: The Hartford Circus Fire. Cool CT images. Spinning yarn, framed as technological history. Fashion, and food, likewise. Those little vents in Egyptian Pyramids. Highly regarded TV shows that I prefer reading about from other people than watching (Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are nigh-unwatchable to me but I love knowing what happens.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:09 AM on July 4, 2015


-Arts education, for my kids but being a great advocate for all to have access.
-My amazing babies who astound me every day.
- Performing wonderful choral music, proud member of the Atlanta Women's Chorus (my Atlanta mefi peeps should check us out!)
-Awesome handbags....
- recently, investing...
-Old house preservation and maintenance
-Lots more but got to take the awesome babies to July 4 lunch!
posted by pearlybob at 10:27 AM on July 4, 2015


I'm a superhero comics fan, but more than that, I'm a fan of the "fictional encyclopedia" format of stuff like the Marvel Handbook or some iterations of DC's Who's Who series. There's something weirdly fascinating to me about the whole process of trying to treat these hodgepodge stories about IPs as something that can be rationalized and summarized and made consistent.

There's the whole tightrope-walking act between ignoring inconsistencies and trying to explain them away without revising the stories wholesale the way some types of fanfic might. I'm not one of those people who checks other stories against the Handbooks or whatever, but I see the handbooks as a kind of curious creative enterprise or genre with its own bizarre conventions.
posted by kewb at 10:30 AM on July 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Nonstandard finite approximations of the rational numbers (other than truncation of decimal expansion / floating point). Residue systems, Hensel codes, etc.

Psychological and philosophical treatments of the emotional drive to cruelty.

Feedback cycles created, sustained by, or sustaining capitalism: addiction, worker insecurity, planned obsolescence, Jevons paradox, bubbles, crashes, military industrial complexes and imperial spending, trade flows.

The splintering and political backlash around second wave feminism in the 80s, the feminist sex wars.

Archival and preservation of the trailing edge of early computing machinery, protocols, formats, languages.

Fungi with particularly elaborate, multistage life cycles.

I'm a fucking riot at parties.
posted by ead at 10:41 AM on July 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have a macabre fascination with human stampedes.
posted by desjardins at 10:44 AM on July 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also seconding snapchat from strangers with odd compulsions registry.
posted by ead at 10:48 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


ead, you sound like you'd for in just fine at the type of parties in likely to go to. Take that for what you will.
posted by maryr at 12:50 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The second largest one is pretty close! Is it flat on the bottom?

Yes, it is a bit flat on the bottom, but otherwise very aesthetically pleasing. These stones sit on a bookshelf high out my toddler's reach, but he covets them so, so much that sometimes I let him roll the biggest one around the living room and think about this FPP.

They are all very nice to hold. The biggest one weighs exactly 1.9 kilos, or 4lbs 3oz, and fits neatly in both hands. Anyone who visits me is welcome to hold it for a while and contemplate the mysteries of the universe.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:10 PM on July 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


--Tenkara rod fly fishing and making my own flies

I just got back from trying out my new Tenkara rod at the Teter-Michigan Creek SWA. That is the perfect set up for my favorite kinds of fishing (beaver ponds and small high country lakes). I can't remember the last time I've had so much fun catching brookies. So yeah, definitely going to be doing a lot of geeking out about that.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2015


You all should make posts!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:08 PM on July 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


-Also Jew-ish, and I'm perennially interested in the question "What makes a Jew?" Also diaspora Jewish culture and cultural signifiers and how those have seeded themselves into American culture and media. The Borscht belt.

-Science fiction stuff, especially paratexts like maps and ConLangs (loooove me a good ConLang). Alien sex as it's depicted in TV and movie media and how it's usually done wrong. Interspecies romances, like Sarek and Amanda or Greg Universe and Rose Quartz. Alien food. Alien gender. Aliens generally.

-Girly anime, CLAMP, all the queer stuff in CLAMP and other girly anime and how it's was awkwardly written out of so many American dubs.

-Chimps and chimps learning sign language. Also elephant societies.

-Since having a kid, the sociology and science of childbirth and the sociology and science of breastfeeding are huge, and the history of both, and the rise of formula feeding culture. Stuff like tongue tie denialism and the history of it (I once spent an afternoon combing google books for old medical texts where 18th and 19th century surgeons were like "Mothers are just anxious and worried that their babies aren't plump enough tongue ties don't exist" which still happens today). Historical midwifery manuals and memoirs. Women's reproduction generally and the inconstancy of the female body and the pill and its impacts on these things and our culture's attitude about all of it.

-Metatext and books that take unusual forms. The Voynich manuscript and the codex Seraphinianus and puzzle books like Maze and The 11th Hour. Footnotes and endnotes, especially fictional footnotes and endnotes.

-American Girl doll history and customization. Barbie doll family trees and histories.

-Children's culture generally, children's TV and books specifically.

-International variants of fast food menus

-Muppets, especially international variants of muppets
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:01 PM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Stuff like tongue tie denialism and the history of it (I once spent an afternoon combing google books for old medical texts where 18th and 19th century surgeons were like "Mothers are just anxious and worried that their babies aren't plump enough tongue ties don't exist" which still happens today).

I know absolutely nothing about this, but I'd like to. What's tongue tie, how does it happen, and if you don't fix it what happens to the baby? How did people discover it really was a thing? Do we know why it happens?
posted by sciatrix at 8:46 PM on July 4, 2015


Basically it's when that part where your tongue attaches to the bottom of the mouth connects to too much of the tongue, so the tongue isn't as agile. It makes breastfeeding harder on the baby and mother, and can lead to speech problems later. Two of my three kids had mild cases, and at some point it sort of ripped open (tripping was involved both times). It's a pretty obvious thing, you can just open the kid's mouth and see it, so it takes a special sort of misogyny to think that women were just making it up.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:01 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I should add, I know nothing about the history of tongue ties, and would be really interested in learning about that as well.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:07 PM on July 4, 2015


Not that niche: winter mountaineering & survival, cooking the most elaborate things with minimal fancy kitchen equipment that friends and colleagues can find.

Somewhat niche: Really violent/grotesque Japanese and Korean dramas and films

Niche: knitting very intricate socks while binging on super violent Korean horror
posted by larthegreat at 9:16 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Chernobyl in the specific and radiological accidents in the general (both are well represented on MeFi).

I once pulled every book in my university library's collection on Chenrobyl to make sure I'd read absolutely everything available in English. This is how I ended up reading an extremely technical nuclear engineering book reviewing the type of reactor involved.

Also: Industrial accidents (those stupid photos you see of a guy who stacked a forklift on top of a ladder? There's an OSHA database full of reports like those and yes of course there was an FPP or two).

Also also: health and safety accidents (that series on how government regulations on things like hotel roofs came to be that was posted in a comment not too long ago? Super nifty).
posted by librarylis at 1:41 AM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am pretty much obsessed with inventing new cake recipes (sometimes other baked goods). Sometimes they are stupidly elaborate. I don't usually record the recipes. I just make it up as I go along and see what happens. I have been doing this forever. As a kid, I remember my mother being angry at me over the prospect of wasting ingredients. These days my artwork is consistently edible.
posted by zennie at 5:36 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Basically it's when that part where your tongue attaches to the bottom of the mouth connects to too much of the tongue, so the tongue isn't as agile. It makes breastfeeding harder on the baby and mother, and can lead to speech problems later. Two of my three kids had mild cases, and at some point it sort of ripped open (tripping was involved both times). It's a pretty obvious thing, you can just open the kid's mouth and see it, so it takes a special sort of misogyny to think that women were just making it up.

Well, one of the issues is that tongue ties (ankyloglossia) often have posterior and anterior components. The type that's easily recognized by pediatricians--babies with heart-shaped tongue or babies with a complete inability to stick out their tongues--are anterior tongue ties and the most severe. However, posterior tongue ties are just as problematic for breastfeeding babies, because the motion required to breastfeed isn't sticking your tongue out, but up. In order to breastfeed properly, babies need to be latched deeply on the breast, over the entire areola, which isn't something even many breastfeeding mothers know because it's not how we bottle feed babies and people tend to try to offer boobs like they would bottles, which is to say, just the nipple. A latch that's more shallow than that can be painful for the mom and cause a host of difficulties, including low milk supply because the mother's breasts aren't properly drained. It can also cause colic and digestive upset , because the baby swallows air as he or she eats. This is especially true when combined with lip tie (even more controversial a diagnosis), which tongue ties are in something like 90% of cases because they're both midline defects and happen at the same time in fetal development.

Here's a picture from Dr. Lawrence Kotlow, who is pretty much The Modern Ankyloglossia Researcher, of the different types of tongue ties.

These can cause other problems too, besides just breastfeeding and speech, like "early childhood caries" (cavities in the top four teeth, which are usually blamed on parents not brushing well enough). Supposedly ties linked to migraines and other problems in adults. Some women are able to breastfeed fine despite having tied babies due to hormonal oversupply or personal anatomy, too, which makes it trickier. They're diagnosed not just by appearance, but by symptom. Many babies in the last fifty years would never have them treated because a bottle doesn't complain that its nipple is getting squished. Some people with severe ones have them surgically clipped as adults because of speech problems (my sister did in her 20s because she couldn't roll her Rs and she was learning Spanish. This has also let her eat an ice cream cone without getting ice cream on her nose.)

From what I've gathered, historically they were treated by midwives at birth. The lore is that midwives would keep a pinky finger long to cut them, which I didn't believe at all until I did the aforementioned google books search and all the surgeons were warning against letting midwives treat them because they should not be problematic unless superduper obvious and also, yuck, midwives and their gross hands, dirty. And like I said, doctors still refuse to treat them Even though it's a diagnosis with a history going back into antiquity, many many pediatricians won't do a thing about it even if a mother's in pain if a baby's weight gain is acceptable, but pain, colic, etc. etc. causes a lot of breastfeeding failure because women believe they just don't make enough milk or need to go on restrictive diets because their children are gassy or whatnot.

My daughter had both a tongue and a lip tie that were treated by laser at 10 weeks. I had a wicked milk supply in the beginning, so her gain was good, but breastfeeding hurt a lot. In the month after treatment she jumped from 55th percentile to the 95th and stopped vomiting at every single feeding and it no longer hurt, at all.

They get really easy to recognize if you read enough about them, even in adults. If you have gapped front teeth, a heart-shaped tongue, a tongue that doesn't stick out far, a tongue that doesn't touch the roof of your mouth when you scream, bottom incisors that are pulled in--all of those are visual signs of ties.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:40 AM on July 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


librarylis, if you haven't already, you might want to check out articles about various refinery explosions, like the 2005 Texas City Refinery Explosion. That would seem to be in about the same ballpark as nuclear accidents, industrial accidents, etc., which I also find fascinating.
posted by FishBike at 6:23 AM on July 5, 2015


I have a macabre fascination with human stampedes.

I have a macabre fascination with feral children.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:10 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Polygamy, Scientology and other fringe cults/religions, making things out of stained glass.
posted by amro at 7:10 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


18 Century English thieve's cant and culture
Alasdair Gray
locks
Ernest Bramah
fake books (the kind that are really a box or safe)
and many more...
posted by librosegretti at 7:18 AM on July 5, 2015


I love your interests, esp. Book scooping.
posted by clavdivs at 8:08 AM on July 5, 2015


  • I was so surprised that my FPP about mechanical pencils ended up being super popular. It just goes to show that sometimes the least likely post that will strike a chord with people.

  • I'm too embarrassed to check how many posts about Paul F. Tompkins iIve made.

  • At one point I had about 300 snow globes. I lost some in the Northridge earthquake but managed to salvage a few damaged domes. They're in storage now and I doubt I'll ever have the room to display them properly again, but I can't figure out how to sell the collection.

  • I love dingbats. Most of these I documented while traversing the city on foot. (Yikes, I need to update that Tumblr.)

  • A few years ago I did a papercraft-a-day and fell deep into that rabbit hole.

    I don't travel much anymore, but when I spend time in Mexico I always try to sample a restaurant's tortilla soup because I don't think I've ever tasted two that taste alike.

    I am obsessed with little bowls and dishes, like 4 oz and smaller. Asian markets are great for this. I use them for mise en place but I'm also a dipper. And they're just so cute! Little bowls are one of my perennial Secret Quonsar suggestions.

    I'm a (lapsed) expert at the very specific intersection of the entertainment industry and fundraising/non-profits, but that's more career-related than an personal interest.

    I'm passionate about affordable housing, within the city of Santa Monica but also how other cities could apply what Santa Monica is doing well. I'd love to do a post but I'm probably too close to certain vital elements of this story .

  • posted by Room 641-A at 10:31 AM on July 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


    I collect n-scale trains.

    I also collect porcini, chanterelles and some other mushroomses (or is it mushri?) in the fall, cook them, and eat them.

    (Then again, as a professional harpsichordist [et al], no matter my hobby, and all that...)
    posted by Namlit at 11:03 AM on July 5, 2015


    The science of feet and shoes. Like, our feet are very weirdly evolved and full of bones and joints and also quite vulnerable, and then when you add shoes, there's all these tradeoffs in comfort vs. downsides (like blisters/callouses/being unable to use your toes to increase grip). And feet vary so much. And yet there is often (less now) so much shaming around wearing comfortable shoes, the whole socks-with-Birkenstocks jokes thing. When I was younger, "orthopedic" shoes were for Old Ladies and were easy to spot because they came in limited styles.

    Basically, I will watch any documentary that features a discussion of historical shoes and why and who wore them and how they were made.
    posted by emjaybee at 11:47 AM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


    My main obscure interest at the moment is Japanese gardens.

    If you google "Japanese garden," you usually get a lot of pictures of one type of garden: a mid-summer garden, with pine trees and deep green bushes and trees and some well-raked gravel and maybe a stone lantern or a bridge. For a long time I thought that's what all Japanese gardens looked like, which, in hindsight, was a silly assumption. But after falling down a bit of a rabbit hole and reading lots about it, I've been learning that a lot of Japanese gardens are planned so they change dramatically with the seasons, and also so they look beautiful (and incredibly different) in all four. And there are a lot more flowers involved than I'd originally thought.
    posted by colfax at 12:35 PM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


    G E N E W O L F E
    posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:47 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


    as far as obscure fpp-able interests, someday I will finally post an FPP about Charles Lummis, who is one of the most fascinating figures of the late 19th/early 20th century that you've probably never heard of (unless you're a big East LA or rural NW New Mexico regional history buff)
    posted by kagredon at 1:34 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


    * Black Madonnas and chthonic religious beliefs
    * Viking textiles
    * Modern dirndl construction
    * Rare languages
    * Hungarian embroidery (Kalocsa, Matyo)
    * Tweed manufacturing
    * Unusual beer styles
    * Hostas. So many varieties of hostas.
    * Anything about cheese
    * Seismic base isolators and earthquake-proofing techniques
    * Sheep breeds
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:48 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Literary hoaxes! I love me some literary hoaxes. The schadenfreude when they get caught is very enjoyable. The motives behind the hoaxes or (damn outright) lying are fascinating!
    Thanks for asking but no, I haven't had my novel published yet.
    posted by Thella at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Literary hoaxes! I love me some literary hoaxes. The schadenfreude when they get caught is very enjoyable. The motives behind the hoaxes or (damn outright) lying are fascinating!


    OH MAN YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS GREAT IS SCIENTIFIC HOAXES/SCANDALS. I will talk your ear off about the Sames-Sezen case if you let me. Not to mention all of the historical backbiting and betrayal, shit like Oppenheimer trying to convince Ava Helen Pauling to have an affair and run away to Mexico with him (she declined) or the theory that Lewis committed suicide because Langmuir was a total dick to him at lunch one day (and, well, also a total dick to him for about 30 years before that)
    posted by kagredon at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


    Archeological anomalies

    Architectural theory

    Anamorphic paintings

    That's only partway through the As. I'll never have enough time to explore. Everything is interesting.
    posted by vers at 6:42 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Oh my shit I have like 10 different hoaxes books around, mostly painting but also literary and scientific. I am totally obsessed with longterm frauds and hoaxes.
    posted by klangklangston at 6:51 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I am fascinated by determining the precise location of that fictional locations in Seattle-set TVs and movies would occupy.

    I have a similar fascination, but it's for the mythological location of SeaCouver, when the Canadian city masquerades as its bigger, brasher US sibling, e.g. in The Killing, Dead Like Me, and many others.

    Of particular interest is when SeaCouver makes an egregiously poor attempt to pass, such as by 'shopping the Space Needle embarassingly into an unrelated location.
    posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:14 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


    oooooooh art hoaxes would be a great fpp, kks
    posted by Jacqueline at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


    This is both the most enjoyable, and the most "Hmmm. Never thought about that. And maybe I should. Interesting!" thought-provoking, thread I've ever seen on MetaTalk, possibly on the whole of MetaFilter.
    posted by Wordshore at 7:25 PM on July 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


    Sheep breeds

    OMG have you seen the Border Leicester sheep? I think of them as the bunny sheeps because of their HUGE ADORABLE POINTY EARS. They make me so happy.
    posted by sciatrix at 7:26 PM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Pegmatite rocks. I have them all over my house, on my desk. Maybe some in my purse. They're pretty rare, overall.

    Other rocks. About 400 of them.
    posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:30 PM on July 5, 2015


    JESUS CHRIST, MARIE! THEY'RE MINERALS!

    (sorry, it had to be done)
    posted by Jacqueline at 7:32 PM on July 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


    I don't know how nichey this really is, but I'm obsessed with the diaries written by court ladies from Heian Japan. I'm prone to talking about the ladies as if they are friends of mine I don't see very often, and tell funny stories from their diaries.
    posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 8:28 PM on July 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


    that is adorable
    posted by NoraReed at 8:32 PM on July 5, 2015


    oh another one of my niche interests is arguing on the internet in favor of the theory that andraste was a mage (as per the statues built of her by her contemporaries in which she is clearly summoning a fireball) in addition to being a bigamist who cheated on both her husbands with shartan

    TEACH THE CONTROVERSY
    posted by Jacqueline at 9:03 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I sometimes watch a half dozen or more YouTube videos in a row of dermatologists extracting disgusting pimples, blackheads, and cysts. Me too! There really is something comforting about watching the trajectory from some distressing condition through digging, draining, or expelling, and then finally to cleaned up and healthy. If you search YouTube for "ear wax removal", the results are fascinating.

    I am obsessed with finding a perfectly round stone. I acknowledge you are are looking for natural stones, but do you know about the metric reference sphere?

    I'm kind of obsessed with the Consolidated PBY Catalina, an amphibious reconnaissance airplane from WWII. My father flew in one when he was in the Canadian Air Force, and they really are odd machines. So that leads me to being interested in airplane engines. They have to be light and dependable in a range of temperatures and pressures, so a lot of serious engineering goes into them. That also leads me to being interested in WWII in general... initially the battles and the troop movements, but more recently, the code breaking and the espionage, and how that evolved into the Cold War. I know that's not so niche.

    I'm a dilettante, too. At various times,
    - Daniel Pinkwater, Roald Dahl (my mother met him), Flann O'Brien, Francesca Lia Block
    - film photography (have you ever held a Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic?)
    - "extreme" architecture, like large domes, hangars, and large clear spans
    - limnology - lakes are temporary, in geological time
    - linen (traditional linen production is kind of disgusting, but linen is one of the few fibres that is stronger when it's wet.)
    posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:29 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


    "Of particular interest is when SeaCouver makes an egregiously poor attempt to pass, "

    I was just watching a US-set children's show on Friday when they had one of Toronto's GO Trains in the background. Big green octoganal suspension-of-disbelief ruiners.

    (Which, to be fair, I'm only familiar with because my children own 50-some episodes of a CBC kids show about Canadian transit and related vehicle infrastructure. Which I am moderately obsessed with now.)
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:43 PM on July 5, 2015


    I was just watching a US-set children's show on Friday when they had one of Toronto's GO Trains in the background. Big green octoganal suspension-of-disbelief ruiners.


    Same with Vancouver's SkyTrains, which can be seen merrily trundling through the alleged U.S in a good few shots of the X-Files, and I think even some of Caprica. Pretty much all of Vancouver's brutalist concrete buildings have been used as SciFi sets in BSG, and one of the big brutalist towers downtown was recently surrounded by WWII era extras, as it was being used for filming a TV adaption of The Man In The High Castle. Which - to be fair, excellent building casting, there. It does look fairly totalitarian, though more in the form-over-function mode.

    The shoot also had a sign outside the set which roughly speaking basically said "Sorry about the Nazis". I'm expecting the actual TV show to feature the building draped in giant red CG swastika banners, which I'm very glad they didn't put up in real life.
    posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:12 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Historic cemeteries. Fields where a grove of trees show where a house used to stand. Wagon trail ruts. Ghost signs--those old painted signs on the sides of brick buildings. Bison circles. Daffodils that still grow along where a sidewalk used to lead to a long-gone house. Ancient cedar trees where you can tell that the Indians harvested planks and bark from them. Horse rings in the granite curbs of cities.

    The usual.
    posted by LarryC at 10:13 PM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Pegmatite rocks.
    Which I read as pragmatic rocks. Which got me thinking about rock personalities and sensitivities and then I thought, 'Oh wow, I have the most niche interest ever! Psychological profiling of rocks!' Then I put down the spliff and did the dishes.
    posted by Thella at 12:15 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Oh man, these are all so great. Historic cemeteries. Yes, every chance I get--and even better are the non-historic ones in faded small towns. Con-langs. Yes, there's a fantastic book about con-langs. Charles Lummis. Hey, I know him; I interned at the Southwest Museum.

    FishBike, thanks for the rec for refinery accidents. Texas City is ~45 minutes away from me which makes that one very, ah, riveting reading. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the story is the 'perfect storm' element that every significant disaster has (in this case, a recent change in ownership, a lax safety culture, short-sighted cost-savings, the ever-dangerous bringing something back online after testing...all frustratingly common elements). Before I get too deep into it, thanks again!
    posted by librarylis at 12:32 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Wait, Multicellular Exothermic- I thought the gyros in Gravity Probe B were rounder? The only rounder thing are neutron stars-- which are natural objects.

    Therefore, I propose lollymccatburglar should go find a neutron star (n.b. my advice is terrible).
    posted by nat at 6:59 AM on July 6, 2015


    sundials and astrolabes
    fountain pens
    deep local history
    the "forecast discussion" section of the NOAA weather page for my area
    esoteric radio signals - shortwave, low-frequency stuff ("utility stations")
    this book describing clocks, watches and bells by the awesomely named Baron Grimthorpe
    Benedictine spirituality
    ley lines
    social insects, but really only ants and bees. I detest termites.
    The Aubrey/Maturin novels. I have 2 books left to read in the series and am purposely holding off on them so I won't finish it.
    posted by jquinby at 7:20 AM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Does being a Rush fan count?

    But seriously: Number stations absolutely fascinate and terrify me.
    posted by jbickers at 8:01 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Let's see....

    * The actual history of real-life occult organizations, their leaders (people like Paschal Beverly Randolph, for example), and their overall impact on society and/or culture
    * Divination, especially tarot and coffee ground reading. I don't believe that these things predict the future, but I do think that they can help you look at your problems in a different way.
    * Related: tarot card games.
    * Numbers stations
    * Etymology. I love knowing where words come from, and the paths they traveled to get here.
    * Related: slang, esp. older, no longer used slang.
    * Serial killers, esp. unsolved serial killer murders like the Doodler or Bible John
    * Related: unsolved murders in general, but the weirder and more sordid, the better. Examples: Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?, Taman Shud, Brighton Trunk murders, Lyle Stevik
    * Related: missing persons cases, the more random-seeming, the better. Examples: Judge Joseph Force Crater
    , Dorothy Arnold, Barbara Newhall Follett, Lloyd Gaines, Paula Jean Welden, Richard Colvin Cox...the list goes on.
    * Cold War espionage shenanigans. I blame Le Carre'.
    posted by magstheaxe at 9:00 AM on July 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


    A of all, the cutest sheep breed is the Valais Blacknose. Look it up, I'll wait.

    I already talked about this in the something-interesting-about-yourself thread, but my most nichey obsessive obsession is Canadian production spinning wheels. I have an umbrella obsession with textiles and the tools used to make them, and a sub-umbrella obsession with textile traditions that emerge from specific socioeconomic contexts (like Japanese embroidery techniques that came out of the Edo period when sumptuary laws made it illegal for commoners to wear silk). CPWs became a thing when the economy tanked in Quebec in the 19th-early 20th century; they are hand-built with some prefab parts and whatever wood was available for cheap, and they're tuned to make exactly one kind of yarn very well and very fast. The aesthetics of these wheels are fundamentally arbitrary and half-assed but I have looked at a lot of them and have very firm opinions about which ones are the prettiest. Also how and if they should be restored and repaired, and how much they should cost (I paid too much for mine).
    posted by clavicle at 9:52 AM on July 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


    A of all, the cutest sheep breed is the Valais Blacknose. Look it up, I'll wait.

    He's not bluffing, folks.
    posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:16 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Bike camping and going on adventures through combinations of public transit and bikes.
    Innovative ways to carry dogs and kids on bicycles.
    Whiteboard markers, mixing custom marker inks and finding the best empty large marker to fill with my own ink.
    Marker nibs - bullet tip vs chisel, and finding the perfect width and angle of chisel for my handwriting style.
    Organizing my day to the most efficient (which streets should I take that hit all my errands in the best order, planning a path through my house to do things without walking back and forth).
    posted by Bunglegirl at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Traveling by light aircraft. I've landed my airplane in all of these US states and have flow over many of the rest (still need to take the plane to New England), plus Canada once (Toronto City Centre airport is great) and the Bahamas a few times (I like small islands with no cruise ships disgorging masses of humans).
    posted by exogenous at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2015


    I also get a little intense about oddities in geography and maps and boundaries and city planning. This, for example, made my whole day. A while back I had an awesome time counting all the street names that occur in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
    posted by clavicle at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    oh what now I'm supposed to pretend I have interests outside of getting drunk and watching Netflix on MetaFilter, too?
    posted by prize bull octorok at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


    I collect airline flight safety cards. My collection started in 1989. Until the advent of the Internet, I thought I was the only one who did.
    posted by Rob Rockets at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Folk metal and random Finnish metal bands.

    The Dominions series of fantasy turn based computer strategy games

    Plasma physics and solar flares

    I like playing around with new phonemes from different languages, even if I never actually learn the words or meanings.
    posted by Zalzidrax at 12:29 PM on July 6, 2015


    - Local history of my small village in the 1850s, when my house was built
    - Not so much niche, but knitting
    - The evolution of our understanding of child development
    - Daily life for other people, historical and contemporary
    - Life on communes/ashrams/small secluded communities
    - Doulas and doula training
    posted by SeedStitch at 12:32 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I thought the gyros in Gravity Probe B were rounder? My goodness! I had no idea! Thank you!

    Also, everything about the Norwegian Lundehund (puffin hound) is pretty remarkable.
    posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Southern Female Authors (Big World by Mary Miller, y'all)
    Musicals: Broadway, film, local high school productions
    Perfectly fried chicken
    The personal lives of US Presidents
    Wind up toys
    Skulls, skulls, skulls
    What's under New York City?
    Camping equipment
    Office supplies
    The decorations on children's graves
    People who were born and died on the same date (I call these "poisoned birthday cakes")
    Portrait photography
    Boudoir photography
    Saturday Night Live
    Historical figures who were also nice
    Postcards
    Adult pen pals (this is a new one!)
    posted by ColdChef at 1:34 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Folks discussing Snapchat: I also enjoy being nosy. Anyone who wants occasional pictures of sciencey things like CAT scan images of grasshoppers doing the nasty or selfies in clean room bunny suits, my Snapchat name is the same as my MeFi name.
    posted by tchemgrrl at 1:53 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I am a mailing and shipping nerd. There are a few others around on Metafilter, but I won't out them.

    My favorite section in the Domestic Mail Manual is section 526.5: "Live Scorpions".
    posted by Kadin2048 at 2:25 PM on July 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Skulls, skulls, skulls

    Well, THANKS A LOT, ColdChef as I am now singing that to the tune of "Girls, Girls, Girls" in my head. In my skull, even.
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


    Also I think it is time for the members of the MeFi group on Ravelry to go completely wool-crazy and take over with posts during the weeks between Shetland Wool Week and the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival aka Rhinebeck.

    RHINEBECK MEETUP AT MY BOOTH!
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Oh man, I'm meghantopus on snapchat and will add literally anyone who is even the tiniest bit interested in lipstick and dogs and weird bug bites and lunch or whatever.

    Also, this whole thread just makes me so, so happy. Y'all're a buncha nerds. I love it.

    am also a nerd.
    posted by MeghanC at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


    So, I have gotten super into burlesque over the past year or so. I just performed my first solo last week! If you are in the Bay Area and like to see saucy folks taking their clothes off, I can tell you some spots!

    Also love: reading anything I can get my hands on, pitbulls, knitting, scientific education, Arthurian mythology, fashion, and talking to my lovely friends from the internet.
    posted by chatongriffes at 3:21 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Teen reboots of "classic" source texts.

    Othello--> O
    Rear Window--> Disturbia
    Camelot--> Avalon High

    I've already gone on about Emma-->Clueless.
    posted by a fiendish thingy at 3:47 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I write My Little Pony fan fiction.
    posted by SPrintF at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


    Oh my
    posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:53 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Metafilter: What a freak show…none better!
    posted by wenestvedt at 7:14 PM on July 6, 2015


    Disentanglement puzzles! My collection is nowhere near that of the linked page. I have only about 40 of them.

    My favorite for getting other people into them is to give them a version of the classic "horseshoes" puzzle such as Tucker-Jones's "Old Shackles." If they haven't seen it before, very often they'll insist it's impossible after playing with it for 15 or 30 seconds. Of course, it isn't. And it's not a result of a hidden mechanism or anything like that: everything is exactly what it appears to be. Sometimes they'll manage to get the ring off without knowing how they did it, which makes the second half of the puzzle — getting the ring back on — as hard or harder than the first half.
    posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:14 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Everyone here reads RPG sourcebooks for fun, right?
    posted by Artw at 7:44 PM on July 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


    Um, yeah, who doesn't? Hell, most Ars Magica sourcebooks don't even have any statistics in them.
    posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:58 PM on July 6, 2015


    I collect teen fan magazines (think 16, Tiger Beat, Bop, etc.) from the 1970s and 1980s.
    posted by SisterHavana at 8:58 PM on July 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


    The History of Food.
    Anything pre 1919.
    Black and White Films.
    Human Evolution and Psychology.
    Religion.
    Health.
    Anything that sexually objectives the male body.
    posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:15 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I am super-late to the party, but, some esoteric things I am interested in:

    * All things aviation, but particularly sailplanes/gliders and aviation meteorology.
    * Canadian alt-rock artist Matthew Good (you have no idea how disappointed I was when "One More Dead Town's Last Parade.." turned out to be a rather unpleasant person -- it's a good song!).
    * Radio controlled flying things, particularly multirotors and algorithms for flying them creatively. (Then again, I've got a ton of favorites for multirotor-explanatory posts, so maybe that's not so niche).
    * The intersection of immersive virtual reality and human-computer interaction that doesn't suck.
    * Amateur radio.
    posted by Alterscape at 9:18 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Some of my obscure interests I have posted about, usually after realising that it's not so obscure. But here goes anyway.

    - Origami, especially modular origami and how different papers are suited to different origami objects; how colours and textures come into play; folding with unusual materials like magazines, junk mail, photos. Origami as meditation and teacher of patience and self-control.

    - Cross stitch. Colours and patterns and how to create complex, lifelike renditions from both colours and the essential, basic square. Embroidery in general is fascinating, though I pretty much just do cross stitch.

    - Stories and how they attach to unlikely subjects, like objects or smells or natural phenomena. Why some stories are stickier than others and persist despite being disproven. Related are the stories, myths, folklore and supernatural beliefs we tell and hold about places, things, animals, our own minds.

    - Language and dialects, so AmEng vs UKEng vs AustEng vs CanEng vs SouthAfEng; pidgins and creoles; untranslatable words or concepts; dead or dying languages; invented languages; how language shapes how we perceive the world (ie gendered nouns) and can describe it (bilingual people who find it easier to have intimate conversations in one language over the other).

    - Intersections between orchestral and pop music, mostly in Scandinavian music like Amiina, Sigur Ros and Efterklang but also thing like Peter Gabriel's orchestral takes on others' music, etc.

    That's probably enough for now!
    posted by Athanassiel at 3:25 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Can I retrospectively add What German seniors keep in their basements to my list, please?

    If that was serious, there's an Austrian film called Im Keller about what Austrians have and do in their basements. It appears to have been translated into English.

    they were reasonably educated people but speaking in the dialects of their hometowns (they grew up maybe twenty miles apart, a few valleys) they were incomprehensible to one another

    Several of the people in this movie are extremely hard to understand even for people who speak other dialects in the Austro-Bavarian language group and would likely require subtitling for speakers of Standard German to understand them.

    I was recently at a 70th birthday party in rural Styria where I understood maybe one word in four that anyone was saying and was practically sobbing with relief when I realised that it wasn't just me: my partner, who grew up in a village two or three dialects over, and had to learn to speak Standard German when they went to university, was almost as lost.

    My father-in-law periodically teases me by asking me direct questions in Bavarian (as opposed to heavily Bavarian-accented German, which he normally speaks with me), for instance, "Wiist aa n a?"1 because apparently the look of stunned confusion on my face is, my in-laws assure me, hilarious. Most recently, he did so, and I answered, so he switched to Bavarian as spoken by his parents' generation and continued the conversation. That I also continued without skipping a beat marked this as the first time that he actively showed pride in me.

    So, I guess, to answer the original question, dialects and minor languages, especially ones that exist on the periphery of a majority language, have provided me with endless fascination, starting far before I had to learn three Austro-Bavarian dialects to get by.
    1. "Willst du auch ein Ei?"

    posted by frimble at 3:39 AM on July 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


    -shiny (unpolished) rock collecting
    -finding weird genres of cozy mysteries: decoupage mysteries, dog trainer mysteries, sudoku mysteries, etc
    -dough that is filled with things
    -trying to read dutch/finnish/swedish/etc by finding commonalities with german
    -obscure dog breeds (and historic versions of modern breeds)
    -cross-cultural music mashups
    -self-soothing items, sounds, images, and websites. especially worry stones and fidget rings.
    posted by specialagentwebb at 8:23 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Splices (in the Amsteel cord I use for hammocks and camping things) and knots (for practical uses but also for pretty projects). I have a shelf full of books, a groaning Pinterest board, and a zillion URLs of pictures, tutorials, and examples. I love them, and almost always have a "soft shackle" or other knotted piece with me to play with.

    (I am flying soon, and resentful that I can't bring aboard my good scissors, stiff wire, and hank of Amsteel. Perfect splicing time, wasted!)
    posted by wenestvedt at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2015


    Also, WWII cryptology and radio intelligence, after a decade of desultory research into my grandpa's only-recently-declassified service in the SOWESPAC. Kata kana, maritime Morse code, huff-duff, RSMs & SRICs, code groups, rotors, and bombes: I will read anything relevant that I can get my hands on. (Most recently it was a history of the Army's small navy, as I tracked down an Army-chartered ship that carried Grandpa across the International Date Line in 1944.)
    posted by wenestvedt at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2015


    Gygesringtone and PhoBWanKenobi, thanks to you I just discovered the name of the small surgery I had as a kid. (And it's kind of ironic, considering how much I talk now: tongue-tied no more!)
    posted by wenestvedt at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


    • The early history of the banjo, which in the context of 19th century minstrelsy is complicated and ugly, but really tremendously significant in terms of the pop culture of the time. It is simultaneously fascinating and uncomfortable stuff, and sounds quite unlike the twangy staccato breakneck picking people associate with modern bluegrass. Most of my MefiMusic activity these days is recordings of songs from various 19th century banjo instruction and songbooks, played on period style instruments.
    • More recently I've been delving into 'classic style' banjo, which came later and peaked from the 1880s through about the 1920s. Played on more modern looking, fretted five string banjos. Finger-picked, but a completely different style and repertoire than modern old-timey/bluegrass and largely forgotten today. Marches, rags and cakewalks galore. I'm doing my part as a card carrying member of the American Banjo Fraternity.
    • Secret societies and fraternal orders - particularly the significance and power of initiation and ritual, and especially in the 21st century when the idea seems downright outlandish to many. I'm a Past Master of a Masonic lodge.
    • In general, strong graphic design, iconography and symbolism draws me like a moth to a flame, whether it's tarot or particularly effective commercial graphic design. I could stare at late 19th/early 20th century logos and advertisements all day long.
    • Sewing/tailoring
    • Lutherie (that one has stalled out, but I will get back to it someday)
    • Origamic architecture
    • When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent quite a few weekends driving all over the place and taking photos of crazy space-age architecture.
    • In general, cultural ephemera from before my time.
    MeghanC: I find it both fascinating and almost heart-burstingly delightful to have tiny glimpses into other people's lives like that.
    Every so often when driving or riding a train, I'll catch a glimpse of some domestic scene in somebody's yard (kids playing, people hanging out on a porch) and get sort of overwhelmed by the vastness of human experience; my 2 second glimpse from the freeway is their whole world! Multiply that 2 seconds in one geographical spot times the whole world times all every second of human history and the number of individual stories intertwining over thousands of years is really incomprehensible.

    Also, I'm glad octobersurprise made the Spores, molds and fungus joke because I was seriously about to create an 'Egon Spengler' account.
    posted by usonian at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


    (Participation in this thread should be mandatory for anyone planning to participate in the next Secret Quonsar.)
    posted by usonian at 11:19 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


    > If that was serious, there's an Austrian film called Im Keller about what Austrians have and do in their basements

    Wait what did I just watch and how many of those things are legal? None of them?
    posted by The corpse in the library at 11:23 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    counting all the street names that occur in both Minneapolis and St. Paul
    A few weeks ago, I found the pair of US cities with the same name that make the largest population when added together: Aurora, Illinois and Aurora, Colorado.
    posted by soelo at 11:44 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Wait what did I just watch and how many of those things are legal? None of them?

    I wish to apologize to every neighbor within 200 yards who probably heard me just shout "no ... No ... NO ... NO ... DO NOT EAT THE HAMSTER I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOU EAT THE HAMSTER OH THANK GOD IT'S OVER"
    posted by Wordshore at 11:45 AM on July 7, 2015


    Oh man I completely forgot to list Solarpunk. It's a weird eco-friendly optimistic future scifi genre and I am kind of obsessed with it lately.
    posted by specialagentwebb at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


    I really love motorcycles, but since I make my living with them I guess technically that's not a hobby.

    As for niche hobbies... I enjoy foraging for food (ramps, poke, blackberries, mulberries, ginseng, YUM!) I'm slowly teaching myself to play mandolin. And I really love swimming with one of my dogs (the other dog dislikes water, so she's excused from lake outings.)
    posted by workerant at 12:04 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    The sloped wooded areas encircled by highway off ramps.

    When I was a kid I always wondered what could be down there. I never said anything to my parents about that but my boy expressed a similar interest and I pulled right over and down we went. It was so gratifying to finally do it with someone of like mind.

    In the three years we've been doing this we have discovered two wrecks, a pond full of big frogs, caves, a cage with what appeared to be the bones of a carnivorous circus animal and lots of vintage trash that is fun to sift through.

    We have exhausted every ramp within a hundred miles of here. Our next road trip is going to be planned around clover leaf exchanges.
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


    ... a cage with what appeared to be the bones of a carnivorous circus animal ...

    WTF?!? C'mon, you can't just leave that as a partial sentence. More detail, please!
    posted by Wordshore at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2015


    Mr. Yuck, I really love those areas too! I always enjoy looking around to see how much of the area is a borrow pit or cut and fill, or if there's no obvious borrow point figuring out where the dirt from their ramps came from. My favorites are in the glacial soils of the midwest, which tend to fill with water really quickly.
    posted by barchan at 12:33 PM on July 7, 2015


    A few weeks ago, I found the pair of US cities with the same name that make the largest population when added together: Aurora, Illinois and Aurora, Colorado.

    Upon moving to Austria, I immediately tried to figure out how close the towns that are first and last alphabetically are.
    posted by frimble at 12:54 PM on July 7, 2015


    Wait what did I just watch and how many of those things are legal? None of them?

    The nazi caused a minor scandal – He was a town councillor (ÖVP), and lost his job in the fallout.

    The rest is legal. Ain't no law against having a sex dungeon. Or against schnitzeling wild animals. The tone of the movie is generally fairly bittersweet, though, with a few heartbreaking stories.
    posted by frimble at 1:08 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    A few weeks ago, I found the pair of US cities with the same name that make the largest population when added together: Aurora, Illinois and Aurora, Colorado.

    There's a bunch of Houstons, and the one in Texas has like four times as many than those two Auroras combined.
    posted by Etrigan at 1:27 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, I didn't explain what I was looking for correctly. I wanted the first pair that showed up on a list of US cities sorted by descending population. I think it came from the concept of Manhattan, Kansas and Minneapolis, Kansas being sort of small towns.
    posted by soelo at 1:41 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Mr. Yuck: The sloped wooded areas encircled by highway off ramps. When I was a kid I always wondered what could be down there.
    When I was a kid it was mysterious, gated dirt roads going off into woods. (Ok, I'm still fascinated by them.) My fascination was validated in high school when a friend took me up one such road to this place.
    posted by usonian at 1:48 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I forgot to mention vintage print advertising. Sites like this are my rabbit hole.
    posted by SisterHavana at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2015


    WTF?!? C'mon, you can't just leave that as a partial sentence. More detail, please!

    I don't know. We found a rusted cage covered in vines and pulled them off until we could see the bones in there. Lion, Tiger, not a zoologist. It was a big cage. Kinda wish we'd grabbed the skull. Who the fuck would dump that there?

    When I was a kid it was mysterious, gated dirt roads going off into woods

    That was how we started. Hopping chains. The first of those roads we walked down led to a long wet tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway. We could see light at the end, so we went. At the end was a slightly cleared area and lots of barbed wire and a gate with a sign that said something like "Do Not Approach." And loudspeakers on the fence. Came that far. Neither of us wanted to leave it alone.

    We got up to the gate and those two loudspeakers turned into air raid sirens and we ran like hell, slipped in the tunnel and got covered in wet guano, boy got in the front seat of the truck even though he wasn't old enough and I spun the wheels before he closed his door. Probably did 70 out of there on that effed up road. Told him to keep his muddy head down.

    We bathed and got in front of the computer while dinner was cooking. That road was the original entrance to a religious Summer camp? Who is doing what in there now?

    My kid loves this stuff and it is great to share a bizarre interest with him. We've been caught a few times, but no tickets or arrests. One cop asked me if having fun with my kid couldn't be just going to the park and kid firmly said no, that's boring mommy stuff. I know, I know. Working on that.
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:25 PM on July 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


    > The sloped wooded areas encircled by highway off ramps

    Not 100% what you're into but I want to make sure you didn't miss this AskMe of mine.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 3:28 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


    WTF?!? C'mon, you can't just leave that as a partial sentence. More detail, please!

    POT KETTLE
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I like to rearrange and reorient books in book stores depending on what I personally think people should and should not be reading. I know this does nothing because someone committed enough to debasing themselves is going to find the latest E.L. James regardless of where I put it, but I like to picture them having to "read through" The Story of the Eye before they can get to it. "Where's all The Oatmeal collections?" "I'm sorry but they're beneath six metric tons of The Complete Far Side, eat shit."

    I'm sorry that this means the staff have to do extra work but really if your managers had run their purchase orders through me first this problem could have been avoided entirely so maybe you should take it up with them.
    posted by turbid dahlia at 6:24 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I like to rearrange and reorient books in book stores depending on what I personally think people should and should not be reading.

    I will often find myself picking up a book next to the latest Laurell K. Hamilton and accidentally putting it back on the wrong pile.
    posted by Etrigan at 6:41 PM on July 7, 2015


    I get sent a lot of books by people looking for me to review them. They tend to pile up. For a couple of years I was leaving one at a time in the phone booth around the corner from my house. As soon as one went, I replaced it with another. I'd have put easily 50 books out in this way.

    Got to take your amusement where you find it, I guess!
    posted by Wolof at 10:11 PM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


    I was leaving one at a time in the phone booth around the corner from my house. As soon as one went, I replaced it with another. I'd have put easily 50 books out in this way.

    I've done something similar, but it was leaving coffee mugs for which we ran out of room in other people's kitchens. Highly recommend this method when roommates move away and leave you with two dozen mugs advertising things like Continental Airlines and the U.S. Border Patrol.
    posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:29 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


    ". I wanted the first pair that showed up on a list of US cities sorted by descending population."

    Peoria, Arizona, is a continual annoyance to me and my Google results.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:14 AM on July 8, 2015


    > I like to rearrange and reorient books in book stores depending on what I personally think people should and should not be reading.

    I hope you're joking, but if not: as someone who used to work in bookstores, I really, really wish you'd stop doing this. It's no different than dumping cans off a supermarket shelf so you can have fun watching the peons clean it up.
    posted by languagehat at 6:50 AM on July 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


    Taisho era Japanese design.
    The American fighting game community.
    Room escape games.
    posted by koucha at 7:16 AM on July 8, 2015


    Also late to the party, and not sure whether these count as sufficiently niche/nerdy, but here goes, in no particular order:

    slang, especially the ways in which it generates and proliferates;
    cultural hybridization and the joys/problems thereof, especially in music, language/literature, and food;
    the literature of immigration;
    alternative narrative and poetic structures/"creative nonfiction";
    underrated women songwriters/musicians;
    little free libraries and other unconventional uses of public and/or urban space;
    similarly, street photography;
    universal design;
    interpersonal neurobiology;
    postmodern and somatic approaches to psychotherapy;
    the history of crisis lines;
    the Americanization of Buddhism;
    Antarctica;
    trees;
    giraffes.

    Make of that mishmosh what you will.
    posted by chicainthecity at 1:27 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    > it was leaving coffee mugs for which we ran out of room in other people's kitchens

    Nobody tell Mr. Corpse but I'm working on a project where one day he will wake up and come downstairs and all the mugs will have been replaced with "WORLD'S GREATEST GRANDMA" (or whoever) mugs. You'd think thrift stores would be full of them, but now. I have three hidden in the box where I keep my swimsuits and long johns. One day, though. One day.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 2:36 PM on July 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


    P.S. This mug project is also still going on, although it gets more difficult as time goes by. I didn't realize so much of my humor was mug based until this very minute.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 9:28 PM on July 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


    So, uh, in answer to your question, I guess "looking for mugs in thrift stores" is one of my hobbies, but they have to be just right. Hideous is good, but not deliberately ironic unless there's another, not originally intended layer of irony on top of it.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 9:29 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    On the subject of weird coffee mugs: at least in the thrift shops of the greater DC area, one oddball thing I like to look for are the commemorative coffee mugs that the big defense contractors give out to the design teams of fighter jets, ballistic missile submarines, satellites, etc. (I assume they get handed out right before everyone becomes unemployed at the end of the project).

    They're sort of like the military-industrial complex's version of mission patches, and they're sometimes almost hilariously specific -- "Bigcorp Satellite AB-XYZ Engineering Mockup Threaded Fastener Simulation Testbed Pilot Program: On Time and Under Budget in 1993!" -- and then you realize how many people there had to be working on that thing to make custom coffee mugs seem like a reasonable idea, much less to have a slew of them turning up in every Goodwill in Northern Virginia.

    Anyway, the hipsters haven't found them yet but it's probably just a matter of time.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 10:39 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    STILL WAITING WORDSHORE
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:55 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I sometimes feel like all my interests are weird and niche. The one thing I seem unable to get the hang of is anything popular.

    I acquired a certificate in GIS long before most folks had any idea what that was.
    I founded a Citizen Planners subforum on an urban planning forum. Most professional planners found it challenging to explain what urban planning is to folks they interacted with. Citizen Planning was even more obscure.
    Brain wiring and how it shapes personalities and lives. The intersection of genius and various other brain issues, like ADHD and OCD.
    Economic geography and water rights history and anything else that casts light on real world physical limits and origins of industrial and commercial wealth.
    Economic and fashion history and other history of culture type subjects. I couldn't get interested in stuff like WWI and WWII until i began learning stuff like WWI is why we went from hoop skirts and corsets to the flapper era: because they asked women to donate their corsets and long skirts and petticoats to the war effort.
    Food chemistry and medicinal uses for foods and spices.
    Genetic stuff of various sorts, especially as it relates to cellular function. Gut ecology and related topics.

    I studied astrology fairly seriously at one time and I find good science about things like psychic phenomenon and other woo subjects intriguing. There mostly isn't good science on such things. Most people either Want To Believe and are trying to prove it is real or they are antibelievers with an agenda to prove it is all hooey. So good, solid things that honestly wonder what might be going on is relatively rare.

    Tarot doesn't do much for me. I liked the math of astrology and bought my first trigonometric calculator so I could stop spending all day doing interpolations from an ephemerides and, instead, calculate a chart in an hour with the magic of trig.

    I have done posts about things like GIS and urban planning type topics. I am on a tablet atm, so won't try to link to anything.
    posted by Michele in California at 2:00 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Lesbian romance science fiction and fantasy novels
    Vegetarian restaurant tourism
    Writing musicals for burlesque dancers (bonus points if I can make people cry during a striptease-based show)
    posted by kyrademon at 6:56 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I'm into obscure enclaves and exclaves, like Ceuta, which is a little piece of Spanish jurisdiction in Africa, and Kalingrad, which is a piece of Russia separated from the rest of the country by hundreds of miles.
    posted by Mid at 7:05 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I'm obsessed with a lot of film stuff:
    * Old movies in general
    * Silent movies
    * Early Talkies
    * Lost and recovered films
    * Technicolor films
    * 70s "New Hollywood" films
    * 60s Road Show films
    * Film Noir
    * Film Criticism
    * Early Special Effects
    * Roger Ebert's Great Films - I've been going through them for the last three years. I'm at about 51% through now.
    posted by octothorpe at 9:48 AM on July 9, 2015


    Yesterday, I started skimming through a softcover collection of some weird '80s/'90s zine run by Robert Anton Wilson, then through the magic of wikipedia ended up really interested in notochords, the proto-chordate nervous system that's still used by a bunch of pseudofish like lancets.
    posted by klangklangston at 10:42 AM on July 9, 2015


    * Lithuania - A good portion of my books are in the Lithuanian language, covering topics from ancient wooden architecture, to 1960s knitting patterns, to a children's book about an Elvis enthusiast (at least, I think that is what it is). I have only a passing understanding of the language but am ever learning.
    * all matter of textile surface design
    * stories and photos of NYC in the 1960s thru 1980s
    * Neon art
    * Brutalist architecture
    * collecting Slavic and Baltic soul food recipes
    posted by medeine at 1:50 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I have a small but growing collection of old grammars, composition books, and schoolbooks, the older the better. Also, cookbooks. I love old cookbooks and housekeeping books. So many different ways to keep house back in the day. It's fascinating. They don't have to be well known or by famous authors. I love grammars written by housewives and self-appointed language champions of the eighteenth century. They're so... pretentious... is a good word for them. So much like today's arm chair grammar warriors but people of the day paid for the privilege.

    Whenever I run across them in library sales, estate sales, or garage sales, I just have to buy them. I also have a healthy digital collection, but I'd prefer paper. There's just something about old books...
    posted by patheral at 5:44 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Protean man!
    posted by clavdivs at 6:56 PM on July 9, 2015


    +The Ford Model T and its predecessors (and antique cars in general; there were hundreds of manufacturers, most of whom were strapping an engine to a buggy. Too cool!)
    +Henry Ford and his weird utopian, super-American ideals. When he was right he hit it out of the park and when he was wrong, boy howdy did it go wrong.
    +Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Art.
    +The music and dense paranoid science fiction lyrics of the metal/blues band Clutch.
    +Permaculture and the notion of transforming peripheral spaces into food forests (looking at you, cloverleaf interstate interchanges).
    +Aircraft from WWII through the early 60s (especially experimental aircraft like the XB-70)
    +The NBA from 1995 to the present day
    +The minutiae of hockey goaltending

    I made posts about items 1 & 3 and was beaten to the punch on #4.
    posted by Turkey Glue at 7:41 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    It's a little hard to see because it's in profile, but here is some lovely monkey butt and, bonus monkey nipples for easy identifying (that's Fiona - both her nipples are large and visible, but the left one is bigger)!
    posted by ChuraChura at 7:00 AM on July 10, 2015


    STILL WAITING WORDSHORE

    I think the non-edible use of cheese is to mention without explanation an interest in non-edible uses of cheese, and then watch in delight as everyone descends into madness trying to figure out what on earth it could be.
    posted by pemberkins at 7:03 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


    For almost 10 years I've been compiling an exhaustive list of mothers who have killed or physically harmed their children for motives related to religion. I'm at over 50 pages now and still have many cases to write up.

    Within the last couple years I've been tracking bomb threats to K-12 schools in Connecticut--largely because I wondered whether or not they've been increasing within the decade, especially after the Newtown shooting. (The answer seems to be yes, but I'm still not sure if they've actually increased or if they're just taken more seriously, reported more often, and/or access to media about them has expanded.) I record the mode of threat, response of the school, and apprehension (or lack thereof) of perpetrator. I live in fear that someone will find this document and think that I'm planning something, which I truly am not.
    posted by dlugoczaj at 11:56 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Who the fuck would dump that there?

    The more awful question about the cage and the lion bones is, if you were leaving a DEAD lion in some woods, why would you take the cage too?
    posted by emilyw at 12:57 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


    STILL WAITING WORDSHORE

    Will compile an FPP from bookmark "Non-edible uses of cheese" folder, but only when The Ashes are over, which is more important than, well, everything else going on now. Should have included on my list. Here's a tweeted screenshot of where we are, which admittedly may not make total sense to everyone.
    posted by Wordshore at 1:29 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I'm obsessed with recording clips of nature sounds. Usually not longer than 10-15 minutes. Some examples are: waves crashing on the beach, summer storm, bonfire and cicadas, creek sounds, forrest in the morning, at the farm etc. I record them with my iphone when I'm alone and there are no other sounds of civilization around.
    I often play them back when I have trouble sleeping. It often brings back memories of backyard bonfires, lazy summer days, spectacular storms I've witnessed from the safety of my home.

    Wished there was a site where you could upload these and enjoy what other people record.
    posted by Karotz at 6:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


    The more awful question about the cage and the lion bones is, if you were leaving a DEAD lion in some woods, why would you take the cage too?

    Maybe it was just easier to push the whole kit and caboodle off the truck? Pretty steep slope. But I see your point. Ick.
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:43 PM on July 11, 2015


    Very late to the conversation, but two things not listed by others are historic uses of nixtamalized corn and my hobby of taking photos of my pooh and piglet hand puppets in famous places, the more badly taken, the better.
    posted by jadepearl at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


    At the moment it's the Japanese educational system. Just happily whiling away the hours attempting to decipher e.g. the curriculum guidelines and for no discernable reason. At least I can't mess up anything for anyone by doing this as nothing I do depends on it.

    I assure you that my attempts to poorly read Japanese math and science papers has everything to do with the above.
    posted by aroweofshale at 9:18 PM on July 14, 2015


    Wordshore, I am not at all convinced that that last tweet wasn't about non-edible uses of cheese.
    posted by maryr at 9:20 PM on July 14, 2015


    I'm obsessed with recording clips of nature sounds.... Wished there was a site where you could upload these and enjoy what other people record.

    freesound.org — try the field-recording tag. The advanced search options include a filter by duration, which can helpful to weed out the very short recordings under this tag.
    posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:43 PM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


    I missed this thread the first time around! These things are what I think of most.

    - forensic science and true crime
    - bags, especially messenger bags - making them and searching for The One Perfect Bag
    - coming up with ideas for businesses I can start
    - real estate
    - the Cold War
    - Russia - mainly Nabokov and the language
    - injustices against homeless, hungry and prisoners
    - beer
    - web development
    posted by bendy at 7:02 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


    "For almost 10 years I've been compiling an exhaustive list of mothers who have killed or physically harmed their children for motives related to religion. I'm at over 50 pages now and still have many cases to write up."

    Missed this earlier, but would you share it? That sounds fantastic!
    posted by klangklangston at 7:09 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Also, California poppies.

    This is a fascinating thread...
    posted by bendy at 10:03 PM on July 31, 2015


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