Metatalktail Hour: Obsession January 19, 2019 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, tell us about what you are or have in the past been obsessed with (because of its awesomeness, obvs)!

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter, so talk about whatever's up with you!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 6:10 PM (138 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Oh man, I tend to get SUPER into hobbies. Sometimes I move on completely after a month or so, other times I stick with them for years. For now it's writing goofy poetry and other bits of silly art. Homemade ice cream has been a big one too. We just moved, and there's a maker-space within walking distance, so I'm interested in doing some classes and learning some crafty things. I like the idea of making garish fashion accessories. I've sort of been leaning into being a dude with strange and sometimes flamboyant style, which is kind of new for me. 2019 is gonna be the year of IDGAF.

I am also super-duper obsessed with the kid's show Steven Universe, as I know several other mefites are too--WHAT UP FANFARE
posted by duffell at 6:27 PM on January 19, 2019 [14 favorites]

Do I... even need to say it?
I had some rain causalities which is unsurprising considering the absolute deluge we're having in San Francisco. I also have some future projects for next week once the rains stop. Besides the usual weed growth due to the rains, There's also a lot of new growth and general good health in the garden. The surprise Garlic is growing well as is my Pac Choi bonanza The ancient Lemon tree is highly gravid and the wee baby turnips have sprouted. It's been a good month so far- and its going to get better, garden wise, as mom is 100% on board with my adding a few new beds so I can have lots and lots of green beans once the growing season starts. She has such a limited diet, but green beans, zucchini and carrots she can eat, and 2 out of 3 of those I can't put in til late march. But soon! Also I need to thin said carrots lol. Mind you, the rain hasn't been perfect. Several Pea shoots got thrown out of the soil due to the force of the rains, and I still don't know if I'm going to get lettuce or green onions. If I want to save the mystery Mole pepper I have some work to do- as I plan for next seasons nightshades. The potato(s) have not sprouted yet. But Sunday is the last of the rain for a while, and I'll have a nice dry month to put in new beds and plan for the spring. I picked spinach today for dad, he's been eating a lot of the swiss chard too and I'm glad.

He's... not doing so great. He actually admitted to his doctor that he maybe shouldn't be driving anymore which is a minor miracle. I was worried we'd have to wrest his license from him. I'm in the process of getting things together to get my permit so I can learn to drive, I've put it off too long. I'm skimming job sites, but right now between my parents decline, I'm needed at home. Mom's rallying, but her UC is really not great and she's at a crossroads on whether she needs a biologic or not. And dad... is clearly in the early stages of dementia. I'm still holding out that it's just the chronic effects of his stroke and not... the big D you know? All I can do is cook good food for him and hope that helps.

I'm reading a lot too- I just finished The Fate Of Rome Climate, Disease, and the End of an a Empire which is a great book if you're interested in the classics but also climate and disease science. It's dense as fuck though.

Right now what's helping me cope is the garden and the card club. I can't wait for the valentines shit to pop off- got my pink sealing wax at the ready!

I hope everyone is taking care of themselves. It's gonna be a hard year- but we can do it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2019 [18 favorites]

I get crazy-obsessed with fandoms -- I was incredibly into the Lord of the Rings franchise when I opened my Metafilter account, thus my deep-dive of a name. (It's Merry's name in the native tongue of...hobbits? I don't even remember anymore.) I started sailing because of Hornblower. And I have a Winter Soldier tattoo, because I got deep into Marvel about the time I had to move back to the US very much against my desires. Bucky's story is still...very important to me, and very close to my heart, and I love my tattoo and what it means. And I love the character so, so much.

More immediately, I bought myself a small rigid heddle loom for my birthday, and finally got it warped and started weaving today, and I am hopelessly, utterly, completely in love. I'd put off buying a loom for years because of the expense, but it's worth every penny already. I love weaving so much, with only a few hours under my belt.
posted by kalimac at 6:38 PM on January 19, 2019 [14 favorites]

Something about coincidence or how the universe likes to play with you.


I woke up this mid-morning and went to the gas station across the street and that kid was there and we were arguing about programming stuff as we tend to do. This time it was WebRTC. When the next customer arrived which is the usual stopping point I stepped aside and did the "we're just yakking" thing. But something was off, he was out of place and I reached over and flipped his flannel aside so that I could see his T-shirt. Ah, RAMONES, I like them. Then I started making noises up until the "twenty twenty twenty-four hours ago..." and that out of place dude joined along and we got a couple of verses in before the next customer arrived and I turned and left.

That's not the coincidence. I came home and started going through my open tabs from the night before and hit the Spider Man thread. Watched the trailer. Yelled at the clouds WTF???

Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated (Official Music Video)

Little coincidences. You're my Obsession.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:38 PM on January 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

Lately Keanu Reeves again. The John Wick 3 trailer just came out and it looks pretty slick.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:39 PM on January 19, 2019

I love late 18th Century, early 19th Century social history in the (emerging) US and England. Especially the medical stuff! I think I read almost everything written by Roy Porter in the span of a year or two. During a visit to London years ago, my first stop was the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret over by the old St. Thomas hospital. I got to run my fingers through dusty bowls of healing herbs in this old attic and stand quietly in the oval operating theater. The museum guide picked on me, the sole American in the group, to demonstrate how a leg amputation would have been done. (Answer: The speed of it made the long knife even more terrifying!) This was before germ theory, so the aprons the surgeons wore would be dark and stiff with the accumulated surgeries. Boxes of sawdust stemmed the tide. It was brutal. At this particular location, high above the church, sometimes the church ceilings would drip blood.

Now, I'm really into the clothes and the cooking and hope to sew some era-specific clothing later this year. My teacher when I was growing up in the Hudson Valley was big on sending us to colonial village education parks, making candles, watching blacksmiths, etc., and I think it started all of this. I live in Colorado now, where everything is so new.


❤ ❤ ❤ Signups for the Second Annual Valentine Exchange close tomorrow night! ❤ ❤ ❤

Grab your markers and glitter and come join us! It's pretty low key but a lot of fun. Everyone's invited!
posted by mochapickle at 6:45 PM on January 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

I'm kind of obsessed with ponchos, or more specifically, making them.

My wife received a poncho as a gift a number of years ago, and loved it so much that she got me one for Christmas that year. I love it—clothing that you can adjust to suit how warm or cold you want to be! Also, when I wear it, people are more inclined to smile at me, which is a pleasant change.

Now, the poncho I got was nice, but it's not quite perfect. Not ideal materials, not ideal size, the collar isn't comfortable if my beard gets too long, I've worn it so much it's starting to fall apart a little, etc. etc. I learned to crochet for meditative purposes a bit over a year ago, though, and while I keep meaning to make different things, I mostly just keep making ponchos. I guess I have this mindset where I just want to fix the one little thing that's wrong with the last one I made, and before you know it the thing that was supposed to be a hat or a scarf or gloves or whatever is now a poncho.

(My wife teases me about it. "What are you making?" "A hat." "It's big and wide and flat." "DON'T JUDGE ME")

So I have five of the damned things now and they're awesome but still not perfect but I swear I'll get it right eventually. Yes, I'm partway through a sixth.

Crochet is a nice quiet thing to do when I get a bout of insomnia, though, and I recommend it if you need something besides the Internet to focus on during witching hours.
posted by ragtag at 6:47 PM on January 19, 2019 [22 favorites]

By the way, in case anyone's looking for an obsession of their very own, we have a print of a William H Johnson painting on our wall--my wife and I are fans of his work--but I never saw a picture of him until today, and y'all, he is a stone cold fox. (Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D)
posted by duffell at 6:58 PM on January 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm obsessed with exotic diseases, because they used to terrify me (I have a lot of medical-situation body horror in general so exotic diseases are that, time a billion) so like 10 or 15 years ago I started reading like everything about them in horrified fascination and now just because they're really fascinating! And I know a loooooooot of facts (some alarming, some just cool) about hemmorhagic fevers, zoonotic influenzas, rabies, prion disorders, plague, MERS, SARS, hantaviruses, using malaria to cure syphilis, all that stuff. I even subscribe to WHO reportable disease alerts so I can see new emerging diseases pop up.

It actually HAS made me stop being terrified of them, because now I know how it all works and the actual risks of all these various things, plus they're just very interesting in general, but I think I've kind-of crossed a line into where I creep people out, like someone asked within my earshot why flus get designated like H1N1 and so on, and I jumped in to explain it identifies the specific hemagglutinin and neuraminidase glycoproteins of the virus that assist its entry into and exit from your cells, respectively, and thus are the targets of your immune system, and hemagglutinin has 18 known subtypes and neuraminidase has 11 so it's designating what combination of those two things the currently-circulating influenza As have, which generally tells us how effective at attacking human cells that flu will be. And then people look at me kinda creeped out when I explain to them the transmission vectors of ebola or the naming conventions of influenzas or why bats are a reservoir for so many zoonotic disases. But a couple of times I've been able to say to someone something like, "Uh, those are all symptoms of malaria and you're just back from a malaria-endemic location, you need to go to a doctor NOW" or whatever tropical disease someone came home from vacation with. (Much more often, "No, dude, you don't have ebola, that's not the symptom progression AT ALL ...")

Anyway if anyone has any good books to recommend for a disease fanatic, I'm all ears (or all memails, anyway). I'm read most of the big pop-sci ones in the past 15 years and I've started delving into their bibliographies to find more. I'm particularly fond of zoonotic diseases and hemmorhagic fevers, but I'm not picky!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:03 PM on January 19, 2019 [18 favorites]

I tend to get obsessed with specific pieces of music. At the moment, it’s Lekeu’s Violin Sonata. At other times, it’s been Brahms’s 3rd or 4th Symphony, the d minor Schumann Piano Trio, or Prokofiev’s 2nd Piano Concerto. I listen to them on endless loop. For days.

Other times in my life I’ve taken up obsessive interests or hobbies. I started learning Greek at one point in college. In high school, I was obsessed with Sailor Moon. This was before the internet blew open accessibility to Japanese anime. When I was a kid, I was totally consumed by the Nintendo game series, Dragon Warrior. I even revived it in my 30’s through a Nintendo emulator.

Now I think I’m obsessed with thinking of more answers to this thread.
posted by bkpiano at 7:10 PM on January 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

It should surprise nobody, but I collect vintage UFO books. I love raiding antiques barns and used bookstores looking for them. Usually, I strike out, but when I find some, I go nuts. This caused a problem as I ended up with multiple copies of the excellently named Flying Saucers - Serious Business by Frank Edwards. I ended up putting a note in my wallet saying "Seriously Stop Buying Flying Saucers - Serious Business!" but I ripped it up when I found a copy that used to belong to Loren Coleman, Bigfoot expert and owner of the Cryptozoology Museum.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:10 PM on January 19, 2019 [20 favorites]

Oh also being obsessed with rare diseases made me SUPER good at watching House. I identified ergot poisoning in like the first ten minutes of the episode. All the time I'd be like, "That's hantavirus, ask him about mice" and my husband would get mad I was a) talking to the TV and b) spoiling the episode for him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:14 PM on January 19, 2019 [35 favorites]

You might be interested in the book I recommended then Eyebrows, as the author rather convincingly posits that one of the plagues of Rome was probably a relative of Ebolavirus.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:20 PM on January 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I get obsessed about baking and cooking projects, mostly.

So, since Christmas or so, I've made eight batches of macarons. All different, all using the same core recipe but with different flavorings. Batch eight is cooling in my kitchen right now. I've been keeping a logbook.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:23 PM on January 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've spent a lot of time learning about North Korea: reading and collecting books, watching movies and documentaries, keeping abreast of news. I was even considering traveling there for a time, but have decided that it was a bad idea in light of recent events.

If you are looking for a beautiful, harrowing novel about the DPRK, "The Orphan Master's Son" comes highly recommended.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:51 PM on January 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've been working at a food co-op in Austin for 35 years. I am contemplating retiring in the next few years and lately I've been obsessed with telling the younger staff hilarious tales of the old days at the co-op and general Austin hippie days stories. I've gotten into the habit of stopping and talking for 2-3 minutes several times a day to tell them funny stories about how good or terrible it was in the early days of the co-op.

For instance, every time we hire a new produce manager (not that often) I tell them about the time in the 80s when we couldn't pay our bills and most suppliers made us pay COD or cut us off completely. But one locally family owned produce wholesaler never cut us off and delivered whether we paid on time or not. At the worst of it, we were in debt to old Fred by about $50,000 but he kept on fronting us produce. We did eventually pull out of our slump and paid the debt down. We still buy from that wholesaler (Fred has passed on but his family still owns the company). But every few years, a new produce manager will consider dropping them as a supplier since they are small and their line is limited, and I always tell them how Fred kept us going. They have all dropped the idea of dropping Fred's company.

It feels important to me to keep the history of how we got here. Plus it's a hoot to tell 'em stories of seeing Frank Zappa at Armadillo World Headquarters stoned on acid dressed only in a floor length black nylon slip.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:02 PM on January 19, 2019 [37 favorites]

Wallpapers in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
Some people want to live in the movie version of Lord of the Rings. I want to live in that Cherbourg.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:05 PM on January 19, 2019 [18 favorites]

I'm a serially monogamous obsessor. I can't stick with one thing for long enough to become any kind of an expert, just long enough to spend too much money on it and get mediocre (or even just more knowledgeable than a person who knows nothing at all about it: it's a low bar). Recent hobby-typed obsessions include:

Amateur microscopy
Fucking around with microcontrollers in the most basic, amateurish, humanities major ways

I'm not sure if my rekindled passion for cooking is an obsession or a hobby. I watch a lot of cooking videos on YouTube. Like, a lot. We recently had our kitchen completely remodeled and honestly it's the nicest room in the house now. My desire to spend all my time in there is completely rational.

During the mid-aughts I was super into Doctor Who fandom. Wrote a lot of fanfic, did a lot of LiveJournaling (RIP). No other media property has quite hit me the same way (and I noped out of DW with extreme prejudice during the Eleventh Doctor's run and have only recently returned), though Hannibal kind of came close. The problem there is that my heart wants Hannigram but my head wants... not that. It's a problem.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:31 PM on January 19, 2019 [13 favorites]

Oh man

Oh man oh man

Right now I am obsessed with those little You Are Here location mugs Starbucks sells and am trying to get one for each of the places I've lived. I am missing just one city (Orange County) and I don't think it's available in the ornament version I want and it is not cute enough to warrant a full mug

In general though? Gosh.... Honestly I may just post some photos of my book cases with my Art Of book collection and all the other stuff I decorate my life with. So much brings me joy.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:41 PM on January 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Metafilter: I'm particularly fond of zoonotic diseases and hemmorhagic fevers
posted by twoplussix at 8:53 PM on January 19, 2019 [10 favorites]

Oh my god, I have so many but the biggest ones in this moment of my life are:

Synergetic Play Therapy, what I believe to be my life's work (I am at a 5 day retreat/training right now in the middle of my full certification!) SPT is generally a way of being in relationship with a child and using our own ability to regulate our nervous system to guide the child in their own process of regulation
to help them neurally integrate traumas or challenging events. Related to SPT, the functions of our brain and nervous system, the effects of trauma on those, somatic imprints and implicit memory, and literally everything else associated to these. SPT has quite literally changed my life and my ability to regulate myself through even the most stressful or traumatic events and sensations.

Other than that:
The musical Merrily We Roll Along and the nuances of all the characters and how they relate to each other

Doing deep emotional work on all my old shit!

Being as comfortable in my clothes as possible

Tombow markers and my journaling practice

Covers of songs that are better than the original
posted by fairlynearlyready at 8:55 PM on January 19, 2019 [13 favorites]

I've listened to so much LIZZO this week! Go listen to Lizzo!!!!!!

I'm also thinking about my yard. How can I level out the grass (topdressing?) and how the heck I can grow anything under this tree
posted by vespabelle at 8:58 PM on January 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Depends on what you want to grow and how much shade that tree throws down when the leaves are on it. If it's shady during the summer- perfect area for leafy greens or lettuce in a raised bed. If it still gets a ok amount of sun- something like a few squash vines might be nice. If you want flowers though- you'll have to find another neanderthal. But if you just want grass, they sell grass seed formulated for shady areas, so you could start there.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:15 PM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you'd asked me even this time last week I'd have said straight off Fallout: New Vegas, which I've been playing in and with since about August, I think? Somehow I managed to kill my passion by hitting a Stop Point outside Caesar's Tent. I accidentally (cough, cough) aggroed The Legion, which means I can't enter Caesar's tent without taking an immediate power-fisting to the face off a well-placed bodyguard, I can't leave the island because I won't be able to return and despite saving early and often (because lesson learned, amiright fellow couriers?) I refuse to savescum/rollback/replay. Sigh.

🎶 All I want to do / Is stick my knife into / An hon'rable man 🎶

Which bad song paraphrase leads to another obsession, Steven Universe (also mentioned upthread). Obviously there's a major arc running at the moment which makes the obsession so much worse, but I do still rewatch random episodes and sing-when-alone/listen to favourite songs regularly. The amount of fanart out there is amazing, ranging from kids with crayons to quirky indie/webcomic-y character art to stuff that's indescribable save as a combination of the artist's distinctive talent fuelled by the show's inspiration. I wish I was artistic.

Speaking of which, my sister (who has Amazing Gift Powers) amongst other things got me a neat origami kit for Christmas. I haven't had a proper go at origami for years but it had quietly crossed my mind only recently (again I say, Amazing Gift Powers) and so here I am, under orders to produce something other than the basic crane I already know before I see her next. That's my new obsession, whether I like it or not!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:18 PM on January 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, and German-language industrial/metal/indie (c.f. my flimsy Kraftklub FPP) although as with any music I tend to latch onto a very small handful of songs or bands and overlisten to death.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 10:01 PM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ok so back in college/grad school I did almost exclusively analytic philosophy. Then I had kids and didn’t read any philosophy for about 7 years. Younger kid started preschool a couple of months ago and now I’m obsessed with making up for what I missed out on in college. Critical theory, Marx, Luxemburg, current Marxist analysis, anarchists, political economy and philosophy in general.

I’m basically working backwards towards Hegel and I’m enjoying myself enormously. Much more so than if I’d read that stuff ten years ago.

In fact, if you had told me I would *choose* to spend my sparse free time with continental philosophy, taking notes, watching supplemental lectures, without any ulterior motive...I would’ve declared you insane. I was pretty much done with Philosophy by the middle of grad school and never had academic ambitions. Still don’t. But yeah; this is the way to do philosophy. Not for writing the next damn paper or giving a presentation. Just for the hell of it!
posted by The Toad at 10:01 PM on January 19, 2019 [10 favorites]

*snort laugh* yeah, I'm obsessed with rocks


I'm a serially monogamous obsessor.

is also me in my profession and in hobbies, and in both I also have a rotating crop of obsessions that all get visited a few months at a time before I move on to something else and occasional, brief obsessions that emerge and then are never visited again. And sometimes they pollinate each other. Like right now, hobby wise, I am totally obsessed with answering my own question of whether or not climate change will make it easier to invade Russia in winter, which is a combination of my rotating obsession with eastern European history and my job and involves lots of data/ research/running statistics programs/ re-reading old history textbooks. FUN. And also looking for/making my own (really bad) history memes and laughing my ass off at them. But next month it may be aviation disasters and by next summer I may have moved on to Adrienne Rich's poetry or mountaineering documentaries and books or wildfire science, who knows?

The true obsession behind all that is probably just reading. Hahaha, like reading could be "just" anything. Reading is everything.

Breakfast is also an obsession. I like breakfast a lot. I go to sleep wondering what I'll eat for breakfast and wake up thinking about it and sometimes will even wake up early and excited because then it's Breakfast Time! Other people don't understand how important it is and have no problem creating breakfast disappointment by doing awful, terrible things like suggest driving for an hour and "eating at a McDonalds or something when we get there", wtf? Like, driving an hour to a great breakfast is fine but to just leave the house and not eat a good breakfast and not plan for breakfast in any way? What the hell, my dudes! Unfortunately I can't cut these awful, terrible, breakfast disappointers out of my life because I'm related or married to them.
posted by barchan at 10:13 PM on January 19, 2019 [14 favorites]

Oh, food, absolutely. If I couldn't eat food I'd just die.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:34 PM on January 19, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm a total dilettante. I love learning about new things! Then I get distracted by something else and go learn about that! I'm a licensed therapist and I'd love to get REALLY EXPERT in one school of therapy but I have a brain that goes "Ooh, but this theory is just like this other theory, and very close to this other theory entirely!" and I tend to compile lots of data and find the general average, optimized way of proceeding that's officially termed "eclectic." In other areas of life, too. I do the magpie collecting-bits thing. I tend to be good at cocktail parties, though I live a life where I have not attended a cocktail party in a good 15 years.
posted by lazuli at 10:43 PM on January 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

I guess my most current obsession is the opera La Gioconda. It's a favorite in any case but lately I've been listening to bits of it in as many interpretations as they have on youtube/Spotify and I bought two different old pirate recordings on LP, looking for the elusive one that has great singing in all 4.5 leading roles.

The musical Merrily We Roll Along and the nuances of all the characters and how they relate to each other

I have a very weird relationship with Merrily right now because, due to a glitch in my phone/car audio setup, I hear some bits of it, in the wrong order, somewhat frequently, and having seen it only once, I don't remember quite wtf is going on.
posted by Smearcase at 10:56 PM on January 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I seem to have a much shorter cycle for obsessions these days than I used to, which I suppose comes down to like age and experience and stuff.

But past obsessions include

Chess. I owned a large number of chess books, a few sets, never got as far as buying a chess clock, or ever got very good at it.

Frank Herbert's Dune books, which series I read through at least twice, and about which I somehow still extemporize if given an opportunity.

What my three wishes would be, which I still think about at length if I am feeling particularly low, or if I can't sleep.

When I was in middle school I began a serious time travel obsession, but a couple of rather advanced time travel stories I encountered in my twenties put to rest the idea that my youthful ramblings added anything interesting to the topic.

I am still obsessed with grammar and language and puns in a wonderful braid that suffuses pretty much all of my thoughts.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:13 PM on January 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I tend to get really deeply into one game at a time and play it obsessively for years on end.

Right now it's Hyperrogue.

Before that was Minecraft (but specifically the MeFight Club Aporkalypse Now server).

Before that was Conquer Club, which is a nice place to play Risk online, with lots of interesting maps.

Before that was Escape, a puzzle game in the vein of Sokoban or Chip's Challenge, with a lot of brilliant user-created levels. Highly recommended for puzzle game fans, this game is both very big and extremely deep. The difficulty curve is nice and smooth, but it just keeps going and going...
posted by equalpants at 11:21 PM on January 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Bohemian Rapsody movie reignited my dormant Freddie Mercury obsession, and besides listening to music and bootlegs, I’ve watched all documentaries available on YouTube, read several books and went through years of posting and very specific nitpicky flame wars on Queen Fanforums. I’m also working towards playing Love of my life properly on the piano, and fantasizing about getting in shape so that I can cosplay Freddie like I used to do in high school, but hadn’t thought about in 15+ years
posted by motdiem2 at 11:48 PM on January 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Right now I think I'm getting obsessed with wanting to learn to play the bassoon. I've promised myself that when (not if!) I make the jump to freelance (this year! really!), I'm going to go out and get me a rental bassoon and a lesson book and see what I can do.

Also, I've always had a thing about names, especially first names--I used to have lists of hundreds if not thousands, collected from as many countries as I could. I still find them interesting.
posted by huimangm at 11:53 PM on January 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm re-obsessed with snow science and avalanche safety after a pretty dire "heads up" from the mountains. It's hard to temper the Tragedy with my excited Nerding Out and I'm afraid I've sometimes come off as quite crass. I feel like I should ask Eyebrows for tips, she's probably good finding a balance between Excited Fascination and Sad Serious Subject.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:16 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure I'd call it an obsession but I love to tinker. I love to make stuff from other stuff. And I love making things that either have a useful function, or can do something.

Last Friday I made a robot. It's a silly simple robot from a soup can. The nice thing is that it can actually do something, even if it doesn't look like it; it contains very few parts, but enough to make it light up and make sounds. To switch it on, you need to flick the nose upwards. Most people will probably do that out of habit or curiosity. Here's a picture of it.

To see and hear the robot in action, you can open this video.

All that's in there is the two headphone earbuds (which are tiny speakers), some wires, two LEDs, a switch and a battery pack. That's not a lot of components. So what allows it to make that babbling sound?
Well, there are some hidden components. Inside the LEDs (that are the type made to simulate a candle) there are tiny chips to create the flickering effect. This flicker (made by the chip, that modulates the current) is also the source of the sound you're hearing. The LEDs are connected to one speaker each, and then to the switch and the battery pack.

I think this is one of the first times I created something with a (very simple) circuit that was not pre-made, and: it actually works. I'm rather proud of this.
Silly as it is, this soupcan robot sits at the edge of my comfort zone, which is what makes it so satisfying. This is the kind of thing that ten-year-old me would have made, if she'd had someone to help her. No one I knew was into electronics, so I made do with batteries and bicycle lamp bulbs, and copper wires knotted together. Someone should have taught me how to solder.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:07 AM on January 20, 2019 [24 favorites]

I just love this question. Sometimes I feel like I am little more than a pulsating bundle of interests, growing and shrinking over time. And I love that the internet lets you indulge even the most fleeting to whatever depth you desire. This being said, a few obsessions that I have maintained over the years, to greater or lesser degrees, and general spend several hours on each week:

- Cooking, all types but especially Indian food, vegetarian food, and bread. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to make, what I'm going to eat, and what in the cupboard I should combine with what. I love the conceptual side of it, the planning, the improvisation, the adapting and the results!

- Reading - all types but especially fantasy, history and science books. As a teen I was obsessed for a number of years with Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories and their homage, I have a collection of a few hundred I would say, which is pretty impressive given I bought them as a broke student! I have become increasingly genre bound as I age - I suspect this has been facilitated by the Kindle, my need for escapism, and general fatigue, but I'm not crazy about it.

- Running. If you read my updates, you probably know this. Mostly trying to not hurt myself for the last year or so, but I just love it. It is the best thing in the world for maintaining my mental health. I'm unusual in that because I pick up the kids in the afternoons, I do most of my running on the treadmill (whilst they do homework, play, or tablet). I love pounding away on the mill!
posted by smoke at 2:21 AM on January 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

The musical Merrily We Roll Along and the nuances of all the characters and how they relate to each other

I'm very obsessed with Merrily right now because I saw a good production of it a week ago, and now I've seen the bootleg of the original production on YouTube and the 2012 Encores with Lin-Manuel Miranda as Charley (kind of miscast). As someone who grew up on the original cast recording, there is a change that all the revised versions seem to make and I Have Opinions.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:47 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

My obsessions are a pretty good indicator of my mental health - as a mid 30th adult, I’m currently pretty stable, so I find myself not that obsessed with things and just happy to putter on with long term hobbies (knitting, crochet, other crafty things) but as a somewhat unstable late teens/early to mid twenties, I had many, mostly fannish, obsessions, ranging from Buffy, Lord of the Rings (film and books) through to bands within six degrees of Pete Wentz. I had great times, learnt many things and ended up with a degree in web content management, and also a fairly handy way to see how the brain weasels are doing, which helps keep the obsessions fun.
posted by halcyonday at 5:15 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I often get obsessed with food that's seasonal or limited-- sour cherries, persimmons, chestnut Pocky-- and spend a lot of time wondering if I should make one more run to get some before they are all gone. Also, foods I have heard or read about but haven't had yet.

Now that I have Netflix, I am often re-watching some show and getting obsessed with that. (Yay, The Sopranos Sessions! I also bought the big Twin Peaks book when the new season came out and watched all the seasons with that by my side.)

I thought it would depress me to watch old episodes of No Reservations and Parts Unknown, but it hasn't. I get fussed if there is an episode I can't seem to find. (Jerusalem?)

I have read absolutely everything by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, often twice or more. There's a facebook group for RR fanatics. Some people are better than me at noticing parallels across her body of work, but I'm probably a B level at it, and that is saying something. I also own things like a coffee table book she did on Suffolk, UK and a book by Jeannette Winterson where she talks about her friendship with RR. I am always trying to get people into discussions about similarities between the two writers' work. (Winterson wrote the screenplay for Shades of Fear-- I refuse to call it Great Moments in Aviation-- and it's very much like a Rendell novel in ways large and small.)
posted by BibiRose at 5:17 AM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

So I'm a serial obsessive, but I am reluctant to talk about my obsessions, because it's one of the aspects of my personality that I learned pretty young was weird and shameful. And the thing is, I often get obsessed with things that I know don't merit being obsessed about. As a kid, I was obsessed for a year with a completely forgettable children's book that has since been entirely forgotten. (I checked: originally published in 1958, republished in 1974, has probably been out of print for 35 years, and has 2 reviews and 22 ratings on Good Reads. This is a totally forgettable book. I probably read it 100 times.) I've become obsessed with TV shows that I know are not very good TV shows. I have some longterm, not-totally-shameful obsessions: I have been obsessed with Ireland and Irish history since I was a kid, although working on my dissertation kind of cured me of that. I'm a little bit obsessed with knitting, although I think I've mostly managed to keep that in normal hobby, rather than obsession, territory.

One thing that I have cured myself of is that I used to pick a single author and read everything that author had ever written. When I was like 18, I did that with Martin Amis. It took me about a book and a half to realize that Martin Amis was not my cup of tea, but I kept going anyway, because I had started. There are a bunch of authors for whom I have read everything they had ever written up until a certain date, and then nothing afterwards. This is a real dumb way to read books, and I've stopped doing it unless I start reading an author and like their books so much that I want to read everything else by them.
I have read absolutely everything by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, often twice or more.
Hah! Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine is one of my completist-up-to-a-date authors! I think the date is about 2000 or so, so I probably could just read the last few.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:53 AM on January 20, 2019 [7 favorites]

Video games and video game journalism. I love playing and reading about gaming culture. I'm also super into Binding of Isaac. It's a game that has dug itself deep into my very core. I've probably played a good 250+ hours at this point. And it doesn't seem like it'll stop. It's at that point where I sort of need at least a half hour or so at some point in my day, it just feels like a part of my life.
posted by Fizz at 7:47 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am so very old because my answer is "puzzles." Comrade Doll and I have spent the better part of our free time in 2019 doing puzzles. She just bought a 3000 piece puzzle and I think it's because she is trying to destroy me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

I just had my last session on my first tattoo (a lower leg piece with two kinds of roses, three kinds of wheat, and honeybees -- yes that is a bread and roses tattoo in a roundabout way) and the problem with getting a tattoo finished is that then you get all cranky-obsessive-excited about what the next one is going to be. I'm thinking about extending the piece up the outer part of my right leg with more plants and flowers and insects that are important to me, like a botanical racing stripe.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:50 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Hmmm, tricky one, this. I have a couple of current obsessions which are difficult to describe without sounding a little strange - or, stranger than usual - so I best not. And thinking back, perhaps Animal Crossing has been my strongest obsession so far (I played the GameCube version every day through a calendar year). Though even that is less so, now - the disappointingly soulless Pocket Camp dampened my AC love, but hopefully the forthcoming Switch version will revitalise it.

Current obsessions it's okay to mention? I guess 'getting a good night of sleep' has become one in recent times, and I suspect that many others of around my age are of the same way. Others; hmmm, I'd like astronomy to become an obsession again, as it was when I was young, and is now something I do only fleeting. Though if I fail at the sleep thing tonight and it's not cloudy out, am aiming to go out, stand on the nearest hill and look at the lunar eclipse.

Oh, sort of related, I guess I'm mildly obsessed by calendars, be they Gregorian, Julian or other. Which is why I know without looking it up that there's only 338 days till Christmas, and 100 days between this lunar eclipse tonight and the Walpurgis/Beltane. A large part of the latter of which I'll be spending in more remote, outdoor, places and less so online, meaning that the priority for the coming week is the purchase of decent thermal gloves and related clothing.

If you also go and have a look at the lunar eclipse tonight, which is visible from a lot of places, I hope the skies are clear where you are.
posted by Wordshore at 8:06 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oh my. So many. For a while it was learning to cook. After going through the entire Joy of Cooking I moved on to other cuisines -- Indian, Thai, French, Korean... I'd stay with each for a year or so until I mastered the techniques I wanted. I'm also really into reading old cooking and household management books (thanks to Project Gutenberg) from pre-1950.

For a long time I taught myself neurochemistry like I was prepping for a doctorate. (Reader, I was not) Brain science is still fascinating to me. I credit my anxiety and depression, and wanting to understand the mechanism behind it and how drug treatments worked.

I have a friend who is also a serial obsessive, and we share a fascination for documentaries about rare diseases and genetic conditions. Our 'girl time down at the pub' conversations are, I'm told, truly something to behold.

Japanese history is another big one. All of it is fascinating but I'm particularly moved by reading fiction by Japanese authors written or set just before or after WWII. I think reading fiction is a better way for me to understand the nuances and culture of a rapidly changing society than non-fiction accounts, as useful as they are.

I don't know if rock climbing counts as an obsession quite yet for me. But man, it sure is loads of fun!
posted by ananci at 8:10 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

The local farmers market (Headhouse in Philadelphia) has a vendor (also a restaurant) called High Street that is known for their wonderful breads. I have sampled many of those breads and they are indeed wonderful. However, that is not my obsession.

This past spring they started bringing a different focaccia to the market every Sunday. These focaccia are up there with the tastiest things I have ever eaten. They somehow hit just the right spot for me even if the given week's flavorings aren't exactly to my taste. I also request side or corner pieces because that way you get the extra crunchy bits on the outside.

I may have had their focaccia nearly every weekend since they started making it and they may know to start telling me the flavor of the week as soon as they see me...
posted by nolnacs at 8:23 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Too-Ticky, I love your robot!
posted by lazuli at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thank you Lazuli! I may make an Instructable about it...
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:38 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm obsessed with exotic diseases, because they used to terrify me (I have a lot of medical-situation body horror in general so exotic diseases are that, time a billion) so like 10 or 15 years ago I started reading like everything about them in horrified fascination and now just because they're really fascinating! And I know a loooooooot of facts (some alarming, some just cool) about hemmorhagic fevers, zoonotic influenzas, rabies, prion disorders, plague, MERS, SARS, hantaviruses, using malaria to cure syphilis, all that stuff. I even subscribe to WHO reportable disease alerts so I can see new emerging diseases pop up.
Oooh, I once fell down a rabbit hole with Fatal Familial Insomnia, which is like the perfect storm of fascinating diseases. On the one hand, it is almost comically awful. If you came up with the worst disease imaginable, Fatal Familial Insomnia might be it. It's like something out of a Steven King novel, especially for those of us who deal with the normal, non-fatal kind of insomnia. On the other hand, it's genetic and affects something like 40 families in the world, and if you aren't from one of those families, it's not going to happen to you, which lessens the terror factor somewhat. I read about Fatal Familial Insomnia while doing something at my crappy part-time job (at an institution that had happened to treat a case of FFI), and I had to interrupt all of my co-workers to tell them about it. And then I lost a day googling FFI in horrified fascination, because holy fuck, you guys.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:49 AM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

so there’s this thing you can you do with a cube where you core out the middle third on all three axes, and then with the smaller cubes that are left over you core out the middle third on all three axes, and then...
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:58 AM on January 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

I just started bullet journalling, so I am required to tell everyone I meet, much like veganism and cross fit (neither which I do). I am also a puppet collector, and someday would like to change that title to puppeteer. I still love making things on the computer, and recently created and launched a new website called Some Dark Place to catalog my current obsession: cabinet cards.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:59 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Truth be told, I’m pretty obsessed with my dog, but who could blame me?
posted by obfuscation at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Right now it's Hyperrogue.

I learned about Hyperrogue from DoctorFedora's FPP from 2016. It's a fascinating game and I poke into it every few months.

I don't have a lot of time for games lately, but before I had a kid I played a lot of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, finally squeaking out a 15-rune (e.g. maximal) victory after five years of off-and-on play. I keep meaning to try to win on the hardest settings, but... ponchos...
posted by ragtag at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

So I have five of the damned things now and they're awesome but still not perfect but I swear I'll get it right eventually.

15 years ago, I wanted to knit a poncho! I did not do it. You have re-inspired me. I love ponchos and wear them all the time. I’m totally gonna knit one. Thanks!
posted by greermahoney at 9:08 AM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

My current private obsessions are, well, private. I have a need to control how obsessive I appear, because of how deeply weird it made me as a kid. Sometimes I stop engaging with a story or subject that obsesses me because I am scared of how strongly I feel. Passion is a terrifying thing.

But there are some things it's hard not to let on. I'm obsessed with sharing any history I happen to know. When I'm in conversation and something comes up about which I know something amazing, I have to think shut up about the history shut up shut up okay fine you said it don't say anything else Jesus. Or sometimes I do talk about it, if I want to let someone know who I am (perhaps in the hopes they will go away).

I am obsessed with the story of my user-namesake, poor Elena Hoyos. It is not a good story. It is not romantic. My reasons are my own. I happened to be in Key West a while back, and I told myself not to walk through the cemetery -- which is quite lovely, worth a visit -- because I shouldn't. But she's there somewhere. I have also been obsessed with the story of My Friend Dahmer in the past -- not the murders, but the idea of someone at the precipice of madness, of whether someone can be saved, what they could be saved for. I haven't seen the movie; it wouldn't be good for me.

I am also low-key obsessed with the story of Donald Crowhurst and the media it has inspired. I'm probably the only American who is like come on, why isn't this movie coming out?

I know a lot more about certain musicals than I let on. If I were a teen, I would be making animatics and drawing fanart. I'd also be hitting the drama club scene so hard, just as I did in the day. (My accent is ineradicable; I am, at best, a character actress, but I have pipes. I would murder "Kindergarten Boyfriend.")
posted by Countess Elena at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

obfuscation, now *I* am obsessed with your dog. What a good dog!

Which reminds me that I am also obsessed with a Facebook friend's new Bernese mountain dog puppy, because OMG fluffy puppy with big paws. I have never met the puppy, and I've only met the friend in person once, but I stalk her Facebook page for puppy photos.
posted by lazuli at 9:31 AM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm obsessed with the Cold War. Not outwardly, because almost everyone I know is too young to remember it but I spend a significant part of my days thinking about it.

I get obsessed with bands, with actors, with crushes - all of which are completely out of my reach in terms of connection with.

Isn't the point of an obsession that it's something to which you're way too unhealthily attached to have a normal relationship?
posted by bendy at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's my collection of books and trinkets from childhood.

I collect movie books because I love concept art and seeing how many incarnations movies have before they reach theaters. I collect Disney Barbies and other toys because I really wish I were a toy designer. Everything else = happy thoughts in physical form. Nothing expresses my personality more than these photos.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:49 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was a serial-obsessive kid. I was obsessed with deer, astrology, ancient Egypt, dog breeds, all sorts of stuff. But the weirdest one was boarded-up houses.

When I was really little (5 or so) I thought that people still lived in boarded-up houses. They were just all trapped in there, no way to get out because the doors were boarded-up and they couldn't even see outside because the windows were boarded-up, too. I called them "Sad People's Homes" because I felt so sorry for the poor people, trapped in the dark.

When I got older and realized that nobody lived in those houses (or, at least, nobody was trapped in them) the houses took on a different sort of sadness. Now they were houses without a family to love and shelter. They went from being "Sad People's Homes" to just "Sad Houses". One day in high school I was hiding in the library over lunch when I came across a book on urban renewal in the Twin Cities. It was a book full of Sad Houses and how neighborhoods changed over time. I was hooked. I read everything I could find about urban domestic architecture and neighborhoods and the cultural disaster that was urban renewal in the Twin Cities in the 50s-70s. I was also a wanna-be minor deviant and my rebellion of choice was to paint flowers on boarded-up house windows, to make it look like the poor Sad Houses had verdant flowerboxes. Yeah, I know. Fight the power Gray Duck!!!!!

I didn't shake this obsession until I left for college (and went on to study Classical Architecture, but there's a lot of blue sky between Roman concrete and boarded-up houses in Minneapolis).

Anyway, I'm back in the cities and gerting involved with urbanist circles and community building. I live in a transitional neighborhood and there are several sad houses nearby. I can barely contain myself, I want to sneak over and paint flowers on the windows SO BAD. Maybe when it warms up.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:52 AM on January 20, 2019 [14 favorites]

I am obsessed with religious history (It was the focus of my undergrad history degree!) and specifically Latter-Day Saints. Alice Cooper was born into a non-Mormon sect of the LDS Church formed during the schism after Joseph Smith's death! I often wonder how his childhood experience influenced his later in life born-again identity. A few years ago, I drove the hour and a half to Hartford for the open house of the newly built Temple there. It is such a uniquely American religion.

For my own religion, I'm obsessed with the study of Jewish ethics. It brings me comfort to know that at the end of my days, it doesn't matter if G-d exists or not, because I'll have led a good life doing good things. It's action in this life that matters.
posted by Ruki at 10:05 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm super-duper into archery these days. Because of how archery tournaments are set up, next month I'm going to be competing next to one of the best archers in the world. It's ridiculous -- I'm a beginner, he's a multi-time Olympian, and we'll be shooting from the same line at similar targets (I presume he'll use the "I'm skilled and arrows are expensive" three-spot while I'll be on the "I need every point I can get" single spot).

I continue to be into Girl Scouting. Cookies cookies cookies cookies. Hey, everybody, it's cookie season, support your local Girl Scouts and buy some cookies! Cookies.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:18 AM on January 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

When I learn a new skill I get obsessed with doing it until I feel like I can do it to my satisfaction. Over the summer this was making stoneware soup tureens. When I learned to make ravioli I was insufferable about making the people around me eat ravioli all the time. Same with learning to knit socks. Et cetera.

I’ve gone through phases with naturally occurring Fibonacci spirals (maybe this one didn’t end), wartime cryptography, and edible flowers (and related, making the perfect salad with unexpected flavorful bits in it), and once I fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and learned a lot of useless-to-me information about porcupine husbandry. Obviously all things that are super awesome...
posted by centrifugal at 10:52 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Right now it’s Chinese fountain pens, and things that are yellow.
posted by chavenet at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm re-obsessed with snow science and avalanche safety after a pretty dire "heads up" from the mountains. It's hard to temper the Tragedy with my excited Nerding Out and I'm afraid I've sometimes come off as quite crass

Sooooooo I didn't really want to mention it because of this very fine line, but I'm pretty obsessed with certain kinds of natural disasters, particularly floods and debris flows (landslides, mudslides, lahars, etc.), but earthquakes and eruptions have made their way in there from time to time. Part of it's professional - sometimes I ponder retraining as a natural hazards geologist; I've written more than one unsent email to the professor who runs Dave's Landslide Blog. And definitely part of it is just frustration and wanting to help people. Partly I'm also by nature an information seeker, and seeking information is a way to feel some control over situations that I really don't have that much control over, typically. (On the other hand, when the Front Range flooded in 2013, from the flood gauges and from living there I knew our old rental was going to be flooded an hour before they sounded an alarm for the whole canyon, so that info was useful to call the landlord to get their tenants out. That felt pretty good!) But a big part of it which I don't want to admit is awe and fascination at the raw power of nature and a part of me just likes when nature goes Boom. A F5 tornado that wipes out a town is horrible, but an an F5 tornado that doesn't really hurt anybody or anything? Wow. I'd watch footage of that all day.

Maybe a combo of this is why so many of us will watch a hurricane minute by minute - weather is a natural phenomenon that affects all of us unlike certain others, so info seeking seems quite natural in that case, as well as the Desire to Help, too. One noticeable thing in that situation is all the meteorologists scared for all the people but also excited about the weather - they're trying to balance it too. And while I don't know if *I* balance that very well myself it makes me feel better when I see that. I've also wondered if there's a link between that "fascination" and feeling utterly humble before/respect for nature, which IMHO is so super fucking important because hubris in regards to nature is a huge, if not the most common, factor when it comes to tragedy occurring.

Anyway. You're not alone. Speaking of not alone, a really bad situation in the San Juans developed recently when someone died in an avalanche safety class when the class triggered not one but two avalanches. In the week after I'd been refreshing the Colorado Avalanche Information Center site daily for the report to come out and ran into the ski patroller who taught my avalanche safety class - she admitted she'd been doing the same thing. She's been on fatality investigations and has been teaching for years, so her interest is quite professional, but she was also. . . I don't want to say excited, she wasn't, she was very serious and worried, but nerding out? You can sense when she talks about an avalanche it's everything she can do not to yell, "look at that hoar line! Do you see those facets?!" She still nerds out even though it's a deadly subject. She very much wants to keep people from harm but she's also just fascinated by avalanches - how they occur, when, why, and when something tragic occurs, she also wants to know what/how it happened. Because the human factor can be just as, if not more, fascinating at times. . . yeah?

Speaking of which, while waiting was re-reading old reports and came across a report about a sadly deadly avalanche that also hit a lake. The power of the avalanche was enough to break up and force 3 foot long ice blocks out of the lake (picture). It hits me with a simultaneous rush of respect for the avalanche, awe, curiosity, and feeling that anybody who lives/works/plays in avalanche country needs to understand that force and learn as much as they can about avoiding setting it off and I can't stop thinking about it.

tl;dr: one person's pondering of their obsessions with the tragic but fascinating
posted by barchan at 10:55 AM on January 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh man, when I was in college, I was obsessed with Belarus. My sophomore year, it was how the national identity was formed, and my senior year, it was the Suprematist/constructivism/Russian avante-garde art revolution that moved from St. Petersburg, Russia to a small town in Belarus called Vitebsk. I can still go into an impromptu rant about the history of Belarus as a neat party trick, though not many people seem to want to stick around...
Um, devrim, I happen to be married to a man from Belarus and know none of this stuff. So feel free to rant at me at some point, if so inclined!
posted by peacheater at 11:25 AM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am so very old because my answer is "puzzles." Comrade Doll and I have spent the better part of our free time in 2019 doing puzzles. She just bought a 3000 piece puzzle and I think it's because she is trying to destroy me.

DirtyOldTown, I went down a Hieronymus Bosch rabbit hole after my recent post and discovered there's a 9,000-piece puzzle available of The Garden of Earthly Delights. The finished product is supposedly 4 feet by 7 feet.
posted by duffell at 11:47 AM on January 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

Currently into Ancient Greek stuff. Read Lattimore’s translation of the Odyssey, then moved onto the Iliad (Pope and Lattimore translations), which took me to Fitgerald’s translation of the Aeneid(which is technically Roman, but continues the story of the Trojan war, so....). Now I’m working my way through the Greek tragedies. So far I like Aeschylus the best.
posted by triage_lazarus at 11:48 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

A friend once described me as a “serial obsesser” because I would find myself completely enthralled by various hobbies, things, etc. Some are/were short-lived, some lasted years. My obsession with manga lasted for a good three years or so, and I used to take days off from work so I could finish reading a series. I’m only a little bit ashamed that I wasn’t even preoccupied with good manga, we’re talking about shoujo manga here. The majority of it was inane and boasted of mediocre art, but somehow I couldn’t stop reading.

I also find myself fascinated with people. Usually a well-known personality who somehow only recently caught my attention (the most recent was Yuzuru Hanyu) but it could also be someone who posted a tweet or comment that I found particularly interesting or a new acquaintance. Then I start going through internet searches and archives to know more about their work or social media presence. I never really interact with them and I don’t do anything beyond satisfying my curiosity, but now that I’m writing this I’m beginning to wonder if this is a weird and not entirely pleasant habit.
posted by theappleonatree at 12:09 PM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Currently rationing out play time of Dragon Age: Inquisition because I tend to rabbit-hole otherwise. After the "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts" quest, I watched playthroughs on YouTube with other character combos until the itch was scratched.

I do not have cool, intellectual fixations.

Otherwise, decluttering like everyone else this month. Not a proper KonMari-ing, but a very slow room-by-room purge. I want to get rid of all the things.

Oh, and a renewed interest in journaling, with an approach that has been pretty useful and un-spirally so far. That's been nice. No particular named technique - just started a new notebook and promised myself to only write from Good Brainspace in it.
posted by cage and aquarium at 12:27 PM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm into cooking, especially trying new cuisines, as our takeout and dining out options are very limited.

Last week I made mole verde with chicken, curried red lentil soup with coconut milk, both very tasty. Today it's snowing and sleeting and just plain nasty outside, so I am making cassoulet in my huge $10-yard-sale-find Le Crueset casserole pot, which consists of 2-lbs. of white beans, mirepoix of carrots, onions, shallots, celery and garlic, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, all simmered and cooked down with white wine, sausage, cubed beef, ham, and salt pork, with a bouquet garni of thyme, rosemary and sage, and some homemade chicken stock. It smells heavenly!

I love collecting rocks and minerals, and have some on display and many more in egg cartons and wrapped in paper in boxes. It's a sickness, but I love them, and learning about where they came from, and what they are used for. We were driving to the Midwest a few years ago, and I made my husband get off the highway in Herkimer, NY, so I could shop at one of the huge rock shops there and buy a herkimer diamond. I was talking to the owner about a little old lady who was famous in Maine for her mineral adventures and how I'd gone to see her just before she retired, and she had closed her rock shop and was selling things out of her garage, and she sold me a bunch of cool things at a discount, and he said, "oh, I remember her! She used to drive down here to trade with us, and she kept a shotgun in her pick-up truck in case anyone tried to rob her." So that was cool.

I also love reading, mostly novels, but some non-fiction as well. Currently have a stack of unread books near the bed.

Gardening and plants, I took the Master Gardener course once, and while we don't have enough yard here to garden, I am thinking of growing some impatiens from seed, as our garden centers don't seem to carry them here (not last year anyway). I usually have a flower basket and at least some potted herbs in the summer.

Just got a new camera, so will be getting back into photography, hoping to get some eagle pics when the ice fishing tournament comes to our end of the lake, and after they are done for the day, there will be 3-4 eagles standing around each hole, eating the fish they leave for them. Sometimes we have blue herons on the dock in the morning, loons with their babies, ducks, a muskrat, and have seen foxes as well. So I have the rest of the winter to learn how to use this new camera and maybe I'll get a decent picture of the full moon one of these days (looks like we'll still have cloud cover tonight, alas).

Also: I read an interesting book about anthrax a while back, called Spores, Plagues, and History: The Story of Anthrax. It was pretty good, but I'm not an expert, was just handed it for a book review. Speaking of diseases.

Here's a couple of pics of some of my rock and mineral collection. Scroll down to the 2nd one to see my fluorite, which is lit up from below by an LED light, it's from Illinois, and looks black unless it's backlit. The big white-ish piece on the stand is a piece of gypsum (aka selenite) from the Naica mine in Mexico (aka the Cave of Crystals). The piece next to the fluorite is polished petrified wood, and it's one of my favorites. The red ball next to the gypsum is what's called a cinnamon quartz, probably because the name makes it sell better, but it's also pretty cool to look at. I guess I could go on all day about rocks and minerals but that's all for now, folks.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:31 PM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

My obsessions are a pretty good indicator of my mental health

Mine too! When I'm too into Wikipedia it usually means I have to get out more. But hey there's a blizzard outside so it's okay that I've been nerding around there again. I've been writing articles, basically short blurbs usually on underepresented people/topics and then letting their hive mind do what they want with them. It's been pretty organic. I can write a solid deletion-proof article in about an hour or two and researching them is SO MUCH FUN. It's really a "the journey is the destination" thing which combines

- my love of research and some new access to sources I have through the Wikipedia library
- my love of trying to increase representation for people based on combining disparate and disconnected things I've found (example thread here)
- working within Wikipedia's sometimes-bullshit restrictions but knowing them super-well and being able to do that
- bragging on social media and hopefully encouraging others that they can do this same stuff

I have brief love affairs with each article's subject and then somehow move on and even half forget about them. But for a few hours, they were my everything!

Other obsessions that are up and down hobbies include sending things (and receiving things) in the mail, the general status of how libraries in the US function on a state by state basis (do not get me started!) and weird gross stuff that I share with my sister, the crime lab worker, who has a neverending set of stories about that sort of thing. Also civics, I love civics!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:01 PM on January 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been obsessed with spooky stuff. I used to fantasize about midnight, when I thought all the ghosts and creatures would come out to haunt the countryside where we lived. I’m obsessed with ghosts, witches, and cults. I love books and movies about all these things. I buy books about ghosts and witches whenever I come across them, and I’ve seen most witch-related movies. I absolutely love movies about Satanic cults, especially odd regional movies made in the middle of nowhere (the kind where the cult leader is played by the director’s dad).

Aside from that, I’m obsessed with a bunch of other stuff, but if I had to define myself by one obsession, it would be my love for spooky stuff.

Also, it turns out I’ve had a sinus infection for the past TWO MONTHS, which explains why I’ve been feeling so horrible since Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping I’ll finally start feeling better.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well despite it's, uh, mixed to unkind reputation I've had an obsession with Fieros since I first saw one on the street in 83 as a wee lad.

For me they really are the perfect car. The bodies were didn't rust, they weren't hauling around 4,5,6+ seats that I never use, they look IMO cool (I just love the wedge body shape for some reason; TR7, Espirit, Fiero, Stratos, Delorean, Pantera), they didn't suck much gas even by mid 80s style, They were available without power anything (well brakes but that is pretty much required with discs), and the one I had (maybe by pure luck) was way more reliable and cheaper to fix than the mid 80s Corolla it replaced. I really wish I could by a 2020 version of the car.
posted by Mitheral at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love little lights! Candles, Christmas lights, especially LED's, flashlights, glow in the dark bracelets (or anything that glows in the dark, really), you name it, I probably love it! My sister shares my obsession with Christmas lights, and I have a vivid memory of her crooning, "Ooh, pretty lights," when our parents would drive us around town to look at Christmas displays. These are my latest light acquisitions!
posted by Lynsey at 2:38 PM on January 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Earlier this year I was obsessed with steam boilers and radiators, because we had to get a new boiler and it turns out there's a very well organized body of knowledge about them and they are fascinating. Don't get me started on steam heat; so interesting. One of these days I'll do a post on it.

The other thing, I've said this before but the last couple years, I've gotten super into genealogy. It's like a puzzle game with basically endless side-quests, with the bonus that you can tell your relatives (or, your friends that you're doing research for) about all the cool stuff you find and they are delighted. I had a breakthrough the other night on someone I had been stumped on for over a year - and I fuckin found it! She had another daughter, and that led to a previously unknown source that confirmed my suspicion that the maiden name I started with for her was wrong (WRONG) and instead her maiden name was such-and-such, which unlocked this whole big chain of other stuff to look at for clues, and in there I found the WILL of her dad, and then the WILL of her great-grandfather, which in turn confirmed the names of all those siblings and where they lived (and confirmed another hunch that the existing information from a 19th c genealogy book was fuckin WRONG again, but my guess was right, ha ha motherfuckers), which means we can look at the map of this other place to find ... Anyway, yeah.

Also -- the stuff you find is sometimes serious and dark, eg just on a personal level you find suicides, forced marriages, religious badness, incest, alcoholism, child mortality. And beyond that, in the bigger picture a lot of this means reflecting in a direct way on where your (my) ancestors sat in some of the larger historical injustices in history, and that's another beneficial aspect of it. It's one thing to know there was slavery in New York state, it's another to know that your ancestor owned a person, and that you have access to all these records about your ancestor, including eg little anecdotes about their glorious or upright deeds, while you can't find anything more at all about the person they owned no matter how much you dig. Or it's one thing to know the history of your city, but it's another to actually know the names on the maps and in the newspapers in 1860 and 1880 and how immigrants of one generation quickly turn to excluding the next wave of newcomers. Or knowing that white settlers took Indian land, but it's another to follow a specific family - in this case not my family but another friend's - through that process and see the map of where they bought that land, and trace back to find where the money came from that they used to buy it, and simultaneously follow the efforts of another relative in the Indian community in the legislature to stop the annexation. Or it's one thing to know about the Holocaust but it's another thing to follow specific individuals escaping or not; trying to track back generations when there was a concerted effort to erase the records; and seeing the exact same (paper-trail) problems with records of communities and people of color in the US.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:46 PM on January 20, 2019 [14 favorites]

cortex: Are you talking about machinist's cubes (aka turners cubes, or Swiss cubes) because I got kind of obesessed with those about eight years ago too. I even made a (weak sauce) front page post. A machinist finally helped me make one out of aluminum on a three-axis CNC, and it was my desk fidget toy for a while, before I gave it away. Because yeah, those are trippy fun.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd forgotten about the Fiero! My obsession is Honda. Honda anything. And African elephants. And labs. And the sky. Well, clouds, really.
posted by yoga at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2019

I get obsessed with finding out the origins/backstory/actors of a TV show once I start really getting into it. Right now it's Letterkenny. Before that it was Rake.

I go all in on a hobby but I've only ever stayed with one or two for any length of time: photography and needleworks (cross stitch and embroidery specifically).

Weather. I'm obsessed with weather. I love it all.

When we travel, I get VERY obsessive. Charts, spreadsheets, research. Takes me forEVER to decide on a hotel. I compile everything into a binder. My family knows to not bother me when it's travel research time. But once it's done, I'm good. We can throw the binder out the window once we've reached our destination and I'm okay with that.
posted by cooker girl at 2:53 PM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Anyway if anyone has any good books to recommend for a disease fanatic, I'm all ears (or all memails, anyway). I'm read most of the big pop-sci ones in the past 15 years and I've started delving into their bibliographies to find more. I'm particularly fond of zoonotic diseases and hemmorhagic fevers, but I'm not picky!

The Ghost Map is amazing.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:53 PM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I like to obsessively click on random places in Google Street View, and "walk" for miles. It's soothing and fun. There are a couple websites that can satisfy this need to drop in on a random streetview, but my favorite is Globe Genie. I think it's been around for a while and there was an FPP at some point.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

Okay so we still do family feasts although I haven't been talking about them as much lately. And tonight I made a prime rib roast SO DELCIOUS that I said "fuck" at the dinner table in front of my children because you guys it was just that fantastic.

Tonight's feast was prime rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, herbed couscous, peas & carrots, Caesar salad, and gravy. (I'm kind-of mad I didn't learn to make Yorkshire puddings until last year, they're SO EASY and they're really good!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:49 PM on January 20, 2019 [13 favorites]

Along with the Macaron Project (Experimental Macaron No. 8 was last night's mocha macaron with Grand Marnier buttercream, and they're holy-shit good), I've spent the weekend working on the Tiny Tart Project.

Why Tiny Tarts? My grandmother turns 90 next month, she's been talked into having a party and, because it's what my immediate family does, we're catering it. Her favorite dessert in the world - quite seriously - is my lemon curd tart. But, she doesn't want something that needs to be cut, or that anyone can stick ninety damn candles in. Hence, the Tiny Tart Project.

I made the first experimental batch today, because Cambridge is the land of snow, sleet, freezing rain and gross, and they worked better than I deserved. Got 21 out of a normal batch of crust (and a normal batch of curd would have probably filled 8-12 more tart shells than I made), so this is totally practical and doable. And the tarts are damned great.

I've also used the same tins to make small (think: eat in 3-4 bites) quiches. Which also worked fantastically.

...Dr Bored for Science thinks she hasn't seen me spend this much time cooking and baking over a weekend in years. She's probably right.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 4:25 PM on January 20, 2019 [11 favorites]

I'm a serially monogamous obsessor. I can't stick with one thing for long enough to become any kind of an expert, just long enough to spend too much money on it and get mediocre (or even just more knowledgeable than a person who knows nothing at all about it: it's a low bar).

Maaaaannnn tell me about it. Like barchan said, this works out well when there's some cross-pollination: woodworking, analog electronics, embedded programming, and mechanics have all stayed around in my head for longer than they might have if they didn't fold in with some of my musical goals, which is one of my few abiding obsessions.

I'm not too mad about the obsession carousel, though, since it's made me a good pinch-hitter in a lot of circumstances even though I can't claim to be accomplished at any of them. Like, if help is needed in the kitchen, I'm ace at prep work and sauteeing and sauce-making, so the people that are really good at cooking in general can focus on the hard stuff. And if I meet someone who actually knows their stuff re the history of the Achaemenid Empire, or historical linguistics as it pertains to the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European, or X-ray crystallography, I can at least ask them informed questions in a way that opens the door to them nerding out on their thing without feeling like they're talking to a brick wall. It's not the worst vice to have.
posted by invitapriore at 4:46 PM on January 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

If anyone else has been feeling bad about their serial obsessions, I found this poem encouraging.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:57 PM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Making You Bored For Science , I love that you’re doing that! One of my past (well, somehow current) obsessions had been miniature food, real edible things or otherwise.
posted by theappleonatree at 5:00 PM on January 20, 2019

I, too, am a serial obsesser.

I love learning about new things - preferably crafts of some kind. Sewing, weaving, dyeing, silk painting, stained glass, wool rug braiding.. I’d love to learn book binding, framing, wood work.

I love mail - sending and receiving, and adjacent to that, paper crafts, fountain pens, inks, and most recently, starting to make envelopes.
posted by needlegrrl at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


From the day in 1974 when the guy in the adjacent apartment said "you're gonna love this guy, Bridge, he's from New Jersey" as he put The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle on the turntable until the mid-1980s when I just didn't have the time or energy to maintain the obsession. (Back in the day, getting tickets to a concert involved driving a couple of hours to spend 12-24 hours camped outside the nearest Ticketron outlet.)

Still very much love the man and his music, but I haven't seen him live since ~2002. (Sigh.)
posted by she's not there at 5:17 PM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

LobsterMitten re steam heat. I totally understand this obsession. I once owned a condo in a 6 unit, self-managed building with a badly neglected steam heating system. I made it my businesses to get to know the system (with the help of my dad, who spent his life working in plumbing and heating). I was amazed by elegant, inherent beauty in the science behind these heating systems and endlessly frustrated with the service techs who didn't understand even the basics.

Other than the guys at, I haven't heard anyone else talk of this obsession.
posted by she's not there at 5:31 PM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another thing about an on-again off-again cooking obsession is that it likely exposes you to the notions of mise en place and working clean, and if your tendency towards serial obsessions is partly driven by your ADHD, then the exposure to those notions and their practical execution in the context of cooking can be kind of life-changing. Keeping both concepts in mind has made me a much better and calmer mechanic, for example.
posted by invitapriore at 6:03 PM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

LobsterMitten, yeah! Genealogy is fascinating and fun. I did a ton of what was essentially genealogical research for my undergrad thesis, and I loved every second of it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2019

Monkeys, I guess? And ballet?

I'm writing this, hoping that it will post, from the middle of Borneo at our field site. I have just brushed a half dollar-sized spider with elegant stripy legs off of my back, and the gibbons are singing a hundred or so meters away. Sending all you Northern mefites some of this excess heat and humidity as you weather the snow!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:55 PM on January 20, 2019 [29 favorites]

According to the weather tracker on my browser, it is currently -4 degrees Fahrenheit here. I will take any excess heat that you have to spare.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:58 PM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have just brushed a half dollar-sized spider with elegant stripy legs off of my back

awww a leggy friend!

and the gibbons are singing a hundred or so meters away.

Awww singing brachiating friends!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:12 PM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

It is 3 F here, so I'll take the heat, pls keep the spiders w you, thanks.

My preferred football team is on their way to the Super Bowl, and I am pumped because it was a very tense game. I was obsessed about that for the last 3 hours or so. Now trying to ratchet down the adrenaline (also I'm on a course of Prednisone so I'm amped and hungry all the time, bah) so I can get to bed, so I can get up early and turn in my Super Bowl Monday vacation slip before being in an all-day training sesh tomorrow.

Annnd... I just remembered that I have a load of laundry in the wash I need to move over, so I'll pop my head out to see if the moon looks any different yet.
posted by Fig at 8:00 PM on January 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I did it, I stayed up late enough to see the eclipse at totality, and I wore enough scarves to survive going out to look at it for a few minutes. Now I can get under the electric blanket and dream about moons.
posted by moonmilk at 9:00 PM on January 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

The rain stopped just enough for the clouds to clear, and I just saw the eclipsed moon, and it was beautiful. Especially with the froggy-chorus accompaniment.
posted by lazuli at 9:06 PM on January 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

Sitting on the back porch in shorts, eating dinner and watching the eclipse. I did have to put on a sweatshirt though because it's a little chilly. Sending warm thoughts. I'm way too wimpy to sit outside in single digit temperatures.
posted by bongo_x at 9:07 PM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I saw the eclipsed moon while getting ready for work this morning!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:18 AM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Mid-century lucite hand-bags. An obsession that began decades ago. And too many to display. Here’s one.
posted by lemon_icing at 1:00 AM on January 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Runners-up: seed light strands wrapped around things in bell jars. And like so so many here: cooking baking cooking. My boyfriend is vaguely appalled at all the adjustments I’m making in my brand new cookbooks. Haha!
posted by lemon_icing at 1:17 AM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Currently my kids are obsessed with penguins, for some reason. Or at least one of them is, and the younger one has just latched onto it because they're copying the older sibling. For Christmas my other half got the whole family matching penguin pyjamas (note: that is not us), and the kids got penguin onsies and penguin bed sheets. The older kid is also into Pokemon at the moment so he got a giant cuddly Piplup, and we've been playing a lot of Hey, That's My Fish!.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:25 AM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

My own serial obsessions seem to run until I am somewhere between medium knowledgeable and expert, but importantly, very seldom expert.
I just seem to run out of puff after the 80% is done and rarely get to the last 20%.

It is interesting to me, as I seem to have fairly good knowledge of lots of things, and can hold my own in a conversation about WWII aircraft, baking, weather, American politics, Australian pub rock, growing stone fruit, USENET history, photography, renewable energy etc, etc. which is nice when I meet a new person at a party, but I often kick myself that I should focus a bit more and do the last bit to actually an expert in some of these things.

I think the reason is the last 20% is harder, and takes longer than the first 80%, and there are so many other interesting things!
posted by bystander at 2:50 AM on January 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

EndsofInvention, Jan. 20 was National (US) Penguin Awareness Day, so that's timely!
posted by cage and aquarium at 2:54 AM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

About 10 years ago I bought a guitar and set out to learn how to play, but then every single thing in my life went wrong (job loss, marriage stress, a kid with major health issues) and I set the guitar aside and never picked it back up.

Fast forward to last month and things are fairly stable again, and I’m kind of interested in learning an instrument but (1) guitar reminds me of being stressed out of my mind, so I don’t want to go back to that and (2) I want something that is as easy and instantly fun as possible. After some Googling for ideas, I bought an Appalachian dulcimer, and I cannot stop playing it. It’s really exactly what I needed—simple stuff sounds good right away but you can keep working on it and eventually do some cool and complex stuff. The only problem is my daughters keep wanting a turn.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:22 AM on January 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

EndsofInvention, Jan. 20 was National (US) Penguin Awareness Day, so that's timely!

They are already Extremely Aware of penguins to be fair
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:01 AM on January 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I just love the wedge body shape for some reason; TR7, Espirit, Fiero, Stratos, Delorean, Pantera

The first car I bought myself was a Subaru XT . It was always just the "wedge o' cheese," for more reasons than its shape.
posted by bendy at 4:17 AM on January 21, 2019

The car that Stoneshop and I just bought is the Golf Ball. It's white and has some hail damage, and it looks like this: Kangoo ZE
As you can see it's also fully electric! Stoneshop is now obsessed with building his own charging station.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:27 AM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Interesting to try and put my obsession into words. I guess it's the cusp between the lost eras of human history and the dimly, imperfectly remembered past.

For example:

possible vestiges of iron age culture that survive in the Ulster cycle (if they're there, speculates J.P. Mallory, then they're in the rhyming sections).

Bog Bodies. Glob's The Bog People is a good introduction.

The Druids: Why did they love decapitation so much? (if they truly did love it--the classical sources contradict each other.) Where did their complex cult-philosophy--fiercely oral and unwritten, thus lost--come from? What led them to the conclusion that death results in reincarnation? Too many sources to link here, but a judicious and prolific author to look up would be the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe.

The Scythians. They were huge stoners who could shoot bows and arrows from a galloping horse. Amazing tattoos. They inhabited the north shore of the Black Sea and had contact with hellenic culture there (Herodotus is a main historical source on them.) one Scythian, Anacharsis, traveled to Athens and became a witty, whimsical philosopher. Their closest genetic descendents are the Sámi of Finland, but their linguistic descendents are Ossetians. For centuries--and in the present day--some have claimed, with little evidence, that the Scythians are ancestors of the Irish. More recently there's been some toxic appropriation of Scythian identity in Russian Nationalism and the European Far Right.

I'd better stop here...
posted by Morpeth at 6:35 AM on January 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

Same for me, I tend to stick for some obsessions for a certain among of time but when I'm into it, I'm into it at 100%. Sometimes it can be reading a complete collection of something, or listen to all seasons of a show on Netflix, but each time, I think about it all the day and can't wait to come back home to continue.

At the moment, I left on an obsession to renovate. It can be expensive, but I make everything myself and I try to make Ikea hack or, as recently, I made a bed based on this bed that I found online but that I did not have the means. It's really challenging and I do not see the time to renovate, and try to find solutions to the problems that I encounter and I learn a lot. In addition, it is so satisfactory when the finished product is successful. What a satisfaction to have created something more is to be useful.
posted by NathalieBou at 7:44 AM on January 21, 2019

There's some really great, fascinating obsessions in here and y'all are going to inspire some new obsessions in others, so thank you all so much for sharing! This has been so much fun!

if your tendency towards serial obsessions is partly driven by your ADHD

Oh Yeah. And hopefully for younger generations than me this doesn't hold true, but something about ADHD I wish would get more play is that sometimes it doesn't just present as hyperdistraction but also hyperfocus. So the whole, "Look, a squirrel" can turn turn into Must.Learn.Everything.About.Squirrels, to the point of realizing you're in pain because you haven't gone to the bathroom or you haven't eaten or drank anything for 5 hours. And you can't control it, so you might obsess about squirrels and do absolutely nothing with it, but can't call on it when you have a five page paper due.

I just seem to run out of puff after the 80% is done and rarely get to the last 20%.

Heh. I've always liked this quote, and everyone in here who is also a serial obsessor might like it too, from Yvon Choinard (in his book Let My People Go Surfing) about how he regards being proficient at something: “I've always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession that doesn't appeal to me. Once I reach 80 percent level I like to go off and do something totally different."

He started two successful companies, changed the sport of climbing (particularly ice climbing), and got the top environmentalism award from the Sierra Club, which all came about because he was interested in falcons, so apparently 80% can get you really far.
posted by barchan at 8:48 AM on January 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

I just seem to run out of puff after the 80% is done and rarely get to the last 20%.

I believe it was my first boss who told me "80% of the work gets done in 20% of the time; the last 20% is what takes 80% of the time."

I'm lazy enough that I rarely pursue that last 20% of proficiency at whatever I'm currently interested in, before losing interest in it. And also explains why my house is never more than 80% clean.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've been obsessing over Goodfellas after a casual mention on a podcast. I'd seen it once a few years ago and my impression of it remains pretty much the same: it's a really well-made, career defining movie. It gives you that delightful sensation of thinking about how everyone talks about this director or that actor as great, and then having the rationale for that commentary demonstrated before you.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:41 AM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hi, autistic here. *wry* I tend to keep mine for an unusually long time compared to other spectrum folks I know, which is why I've amassed an incredible (and somewhat useless) corpus of information surrounding and relating to domestic dogs. I dog-watch like friends of mine birdwatch, except I'm keeping an eye open for unusual breeds or types (e.g. the time I gleefully encountered a young curly-coated retriever and successfully distinguished it from a doodle, which is still a moment I'm rather proud of).

When I was in college, we used to do joint lab meetings with both my PI and two others every few weeks. One day, we were talking about the possibility of doing an empirical study on the long-term effects of effective population size (I can't recall what on), just kicking ideas around, and one of the other PIs sketched out an idea for a study comparing, say, Labrador Retrievers to Pharaoh Hounds on the idea that the latter had been genetically isolated since ancient Egypt, therefore creating a nice test case.

I got very indignant about why this would not work--remember, I'm a junior-year undergraduate at this point--and launched into a long, aggravated tirade touching on the fact that the modern genetic isolation of purebred dogs is an artifact of Victorian ideals of blood purity and not picked up by literally any other known historical culture of dog breeding, that most cultures have defined whether a dog belongs to a breed or not by judging the dog's phenotype irrespective of its ancestry and that this can be achieved within the F2 of an outcross, and finished up by confidently declaring that the Pharaoh Hound isn't even Egyptian, it's Maltese.

Which is true. It's only called that in order to call back to the fact that the dog in question looks quite a bit like the Egyptian pyramid art, but there are a number of other Mediterranean prick-eared sighthound breeds that are very similar and probably come from the same general landrace.

In retrospect, it's a wonder I got into grad school--especially as that gentleman was kind enough to write one of my letters of recommendation a year later. Heh.
posted by sciatrix at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Scientology. It's so fucking weird. I have a 1973 Mark V e-meter that I bought on eBay (this is not a photo of mine – just a similar model).

Mixing cocktails. I'm not a lush; I'm an epicurean! (Gets expensive, though – what with all of the obscure liqueurs one needs to source.)

The Neolithic revolution – the 6,000 years of human prehistory between the first inklings of agriculture, and the beginning of the Bronze Age. The Natufians; Göbekli Tepe – the shit is fascinating.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:55 PM on January 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

I love that there are so many mentions of Merrily We Roll Along!

As someone who grew up on the original cast recording, there is a change that all the revised versions seem to make and I Have Opinions.

Betweenthebars, oh I have a LOT of opinions on the changes (and changes and changes) that they made to this show over the years...
posted by profreader at 3:16 PM on January 21, 2019

I have a mild obsession with medical facts and information, and the practice of medicine generally.

Eyebrows McGee: Anyway if anyone has any good books to recommend for a disease fanatic, I'm all ears

Ears, you say? There's might be a chance you'd enjoy the Emergency Medicine Cases podcast. It gets into the weeds of "how would you handle this case" or "what are the things to consider for a patient with X symptoms," or "ways you might miss this other thing in a patient with a different thing."

There's a few different versions of it:

Main Episodes (~ 1 hour each)

Quick Hits (~ half an hour each, but covering a range of cases/topics)

Best Case Ever (my personal fave, and it gets into oddities or specific things.)
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Re: genealogy. My grandmother was super into it, and she was always at libraries, looking up things (pre-internet). She gave me copies of her charts, all handwritten, when I was about 13. I still have them, in my original Trapper Keeper notebook from 8th grade (late 1970's). It also has a handy pocket for miscellaneous papers. She had a lot of family history pages printed out, such as, a certain line of Jameson's, who came to Maine from Scotland via the Ulster Plantation, in search of creating a better society, and one of them was a soap maker, etc.

She got me into going to the town hall to get death records for my maternal grandparents. Since she was my paternal grandmother, all of my maternal side was on me. I wrote to my maternal grandmother, and while she said she didn't know much, shortly after that, a long-lost cousin of hers, who had moved to California and married a Mormon woman and converted, wrote to her, and she put him in touch with me.

Well, he wrote to me, long hand-typed letters, starting with, "Dear Cousin," and all of the research he'd done, with copies of all of the records he'd obtained, including my mother's grandfather's naturalization documentation, which he'd signed with an "X" and was witnessed by a judge. Apparently he spoke French, but couldn't read English. He was a fiddler, as was my grandmother, and they played at grange hall dances together (grange being French for "farm"). He was also a wool mill supervisor and an engineer on the big boats on Moosehead Lake at one time. HIs wife was a wool carder, and she was supposedly psychic, and took in laundry, and fed the hobos during the Great Depression. She also had big ears. I have tintypes of them, one of them is him holding my grandmother as a baby in about 1904-1905 (she was born in 1902).

This all happened because the cousin's mother was married to a cousin of my grandmother, and he left or deserted his wife, so his family refused to associate with my grandmother's side. He became interested as a result of having to look up his ancestors due to converting to being a Mormon, and thus, the whole connection took place. I never met him in person, he lived in California and I lived in Maine, but his letters were surprisingly gossipy like the little old Frenchie cousins of my Mom who I had met.

I haven't done any research in a while, but it is and can be a true obsession, especially since I found a bunch of stuff on both that side of the family and my genealogy-loving grandmother's husband, which she never pursued, and found a TON of documents on the website. Including census stuff, marriage certificates, and this was in New Brunswick, Canada, and discovered where my great-grandfather came from and his father (who was from Ireland), and how they used to send timber from there to Ireland and England and used the empty ships to transport immigrants to the New World, and how that area was called "Little Ireland" and a bunch of other cool information.

My grandmother who did genealogy would be so excited to see how much information is online, sadly, she passed away before it all happened, but I am really grateful to her for giving me her charts, and passing on the genealogy bug, every time I delve into it, I gain more knowledge of history, and how people moved about in the world, and why, and it can indeed become an obsession.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:48 PM on January 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Anyway if anyone has any good books to recommend for a disease fanatic, I'm all ears]

- New Guinea Tapeworms & Jewish Grandmothers by Robert Desowitz (1987). Parasites!
- The Wonderful Mistake: Notes Of A Biology Watcher Incorporating The Lives Of A Cell And The Medusa And The Snail by Lewis Thomas. Disease but also some ruminating on more philosophical stuff, I think you'd like. (if you can't find that, just The Lives of a Cell is fine)
- The Medical Detectives by Berton Roueché and other stuff by him.
- The Speckled Monster by Jennifer Carrell. Smallpox!
- Flu by Gina Kolata

All books that I have read and enjoyed.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:21 PM on January 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

Guitar slides. Metal. Glass. Ceramic.
Homemade, lopsided and slightly dangerous.
Shaped like a blunt, thick knife.

Custom blown in england
Overdesigned and pre-aged
About 15 more.
If you have any spare ones lying around, I'll trade them for pretty much anything I can send you from Chile. Seriously.
He who dies with more guitar slides wins.
posted by signal at 4:55 PM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I missed this post because I was too busy solving puzzles for 53 hours.

Good thing I like puzzles, because apparently I'm also going to be spending the next year writing and testing a lot of them.
posted by aubilenon at 5:14 PM on January 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Jessamyn thank you so much for those recs!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2019

You're welcome. I'd like to add Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery by Richard Selzer which isn't so much about disease body horror stuff but there is one essay about guinea worms that is not to be missed. I basically grew up reading these types of books (my mom also loved them) so it's been sort of neat for me to see them finally becoming somewhat popular.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:57 PM on January 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm also going to be spending the next year writing and testing a lot of them.

Mazel tov!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:57 PM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


But seriously I'm super excited because I really like my team and I don't see them often enough, and now I'll have to see them all the dang time.
posted by aubilenon at 7:14 PM on January 21, 2019

Right now I'm obsessed with mint ( putting it in salads, Cole slaw, yogurt, cocktails, etc) and moving back home.

In really not too far from home, but it was a not great holiday season, the (genuine) highlight being hanging out with my family. I'm pretending that if I move back my siblings, cousins and I can all move near enough each other to hang out regularly. While that's not impossible, it's also not necessarily how life will pan out depending on many things. So it's really just wistful thinking. And I really like my job and neighborhood right now. But I trade it for being near my sisters again.

So I'm ingesting lots of mint right now while browsing Zillow.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:30 PM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I started playing in a vampire the masquerade larp in 2000, and I still play in one. My obsession/hobby is old enough to vote.

Seriously, it's brought me a variety of useful skills, from public speaking, to politicking, to writing emails that convey anger without being rude. I wouldn't know... well so many diverse things, from an extra three ways to tie a tie, the canons of legal construction, details about local politics and city planning, the stories of nasruddin hodja, robert's rules and the definition of obscure english words if it wasn't for my weird hobby.

I wouldn't have my current friends, for the most part, and I wouldn't be dating the lovely person I'm dating if it wasn't for those friendships, so there's that too.

I still get so much joy and happiness out of it, to this day.
posted by gryftir at 12:22 AM on January 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm also by nature an information seeker, and seeking information is a way to feel some control over situations that I really don't have that much control over, typically.

This is so, so me.

Current obsession is cleaning out all clutter. If it is not useful or beautiful, it's out.

I have way too many craft obsessions, such that I have had to quite purposefully weed out some. I started with crochet when I was 7 years old. I learned to sew in middle school. I learned knitting in college. Then I had to learn how to spin yarn. Then weave. Then embroider. Then cross stitch and now machine embroidery. I have since sold off or given away all of my weaving and spinning stuff because that was expensive and/or didn't travel well without a huge investment of a travel spinning wheel (which I almost bought). Currently, I'm really trying to keep it to embroidery and crochet.

I am also moderately obsessed with bees. Which makes sense, since I keep bees. I love their little fuzzy butts!
posted by Sophie1 at 7:41 AM on January 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

My current obsession is with Basque folk-pop and the language the songs are written in. Being a language isolate really does mean that at a deep level Basque grammar is different any other language, despite incorporating tons of loan words from Latin and other Romance languages. I could go on and on about how Basque grammar is weird, totally logical, once you get it, and very, very complicated. But a lot of the songs are very catchy, and I think the language is beautiful, so I want to understand. And trying to figure out Basque grammar is exactly the kind of complex puzzle I love.

Hopefully, this obsession will result in an FPP about triki-pop pretty soon.
posted by nangar at 9:06 AM on January 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

Critical Role. I was already an Adventure Zone fan, and then a friend and fellow TAZ fan turned me on to CR. Undaunted by the large number of hours (1) catching up would take, I set out. These days, I’m totally caught up, I’ve been falling down various rabbit holes of related content and adjacent content and similar content and just waiting for Thursday nights. I’ve also started playing role playing games again, which is the best outcome of all this.

My other one has been taking the scraps of my commercial gelatin plate monoprints, cutting them into 1” squares, and making 9-patch quilt inspired card fronts from them. It’s colors and patterns and repetitive and crafty, and it’s perfect to do while watching people play D&D on YouTube.

(1) Seriously. It’s huge. But so worth it...
posted by booksherpa at 11:08 AM on January 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

I gotta give Critical Role another shot. I also love TAZ and have been sneakily addicting my partner this week by the method of "allow them to heckle the McElBoys and leave the Crystal Kingdom arc on in the background," but for some reason the first round of the second run of CR didn't hook me. Maybe I just need to give it more time.
posted by sciatrix at 11:16 AM on January 22, 2019

Campaign 1 sort of dropped us in media res and everyone was already buddies. I feel like this one has taken more time to get going because we didn’t start with either of those advantages. There are definitely slow spots, but also some good bits. I think we are starting to ramp up to some big plot elements and character stuff. We haven’t quite hit our Whitestone arc yet, but it’s getting good.
posted by booksherpa at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2019

1. A years-long obsession with the Bach Cello Suites, which I've written about on MetaFilter before, multiple times. Now reinvigorated as Yo-Yo Ma is engaging in The Bach Project, a series of 36 performances around the globe of all six suites, and I have a ticket for the San Antonio performance in April, and I'll probably go to the Chicago one in June too, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to hear the greatest cellist of our era perform my favorite musical work ever!!!!

2. Another years-long obsession with Disentanglement puzzles. That's been waning a bit, but it's still an obsession. I think my collection is up to 55 or 60 now; I should really catalog them properly. I love the apparent impossibility of these at first glance, especially if one hasn't encountered them before (any of the many incarnations of the classic "horseshoes" puzzle, such as Tucker-Jones's Old Shackles, is great for eliciting this reaction). I love that there are no tricks, at least in the sense that there are no hidden mechanisms, magnets, etc. - every piece is what it appears to be. I love the fine workmanship, in metal or wood or other materials, of high-quality ones (Tucker-Jones and Hanayama are two of my favorites in this regard). I love the tactile quality of the puzzles. And I love the unexpectedness and elegance of the solutions to some of the best puzzles. One of my favorite puzzle-solving experiences ever was Hanayama's Baroq; when I found the final step I sat stunned for a few minutes by the sheer beauty of it.

3. And one very new, let's say interest, because I hesitate to call it an obsession this early - just a few weeks ago I started getting into essential oils. And it's a bit weird for me, because I tend to have a pretty skeptical mind, and the different manufacturers make all kinds of claims, from various oils being "calming" or "balancing" or "energizing," to use of oils to help with this or that condition (occasionally backed up by some nebulous scientific evidence, mostly not), up to discussion of different oils affecting different chakras, etc. And I'm like, I just want things to smell nice, and to experiment with different scents and combinations of scents for making things smell nice, and that's all! And I don't think I've ever rolled my eyes so hard at websites yet still ultimately bought things from them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:04 PM on January 22, 2019 [12 favorites]

I've got a minor hobby of doing large-scale printing. By large-scale, I mean I'm sitting at my computer with a 24" banner printer to my left. Originally, Dr Bored for Science and I bought this for conference posters and my photography. Did a lot of the former in grad school (the conference we go to each year has a poster size of 6' x 3.5' horizontal, so a 2' printer works great if you're willing to do a little science arts and crafts). Still do a fair bit of photo printing, although I need to bust out my real cameras more. Our entire apartment, aside from a few pieces of art we've been given over the years, is decorated in my photos. Including a couple huge 6' x 2' prints.

What I've printed a lot of in the last two years? Protest posters and yard banners. Which means I basically collect the right printing media, because my printer was never really meant to print this kind of stuff (it's really for doing blueprints and photos). I've mostly used a lot of printable canvas, because it's findable for cheap on eBay if you hunt, and it's good and durable and fairly waterproof. I just got a couple rolls of polypropylene paper, which is meant for short-term window signage (the sort of thing you have up for a few months, not a few years). It's kind of amazing - as thin as regular paper, but so strong that neither Dr Bored for Science nor I can tear it, and it's seemingly more waterproof than most of what I have. Which is pretty damn cool. Also, it cost all of 25¢ a linear foot, which means that, for instance, the largest banners I've ever printed - which were 5' x 2' for yard use in the 2018 election - would cost all of $2 when I factor in ink and paper cost.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 6:16 PM on January 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

I got into essential oils when I started soapmaking years ago, and not in a woo-woo way. I just didn't want to put synthetic fragrance oils into my soap. Quickly found out that many of them just evaporate out when the soap is curing. Then I learned how to make soap in my crockpot and to add them add the end. They still evaporate, of course, but I learned what I liked about essential oils. Everyone likes mint soap, men and women alike, so I always thought a mint, as in spearmint, not peppermint, would be a good business model. I used to infuse dried mint into olive oil, then add it to my mint soap along with a lovely spearmint essential oil, and that soap was the best soap I ever made.

Then I used pink French clay in a rose geranium soap, and that was also a great soap. It was hard and wonderful, it didn't dissolve too fast in the shower, and it was also a favorite among all comers, as it's not too rose like, it's just right, a little less floral than real rose, and a heck of a lot less expensive.

I like to add mandarin to my mop water, because like orange oil, it cuts through the grease, but it has that sort of bitter smell that makes me think I'm getting things really clean.

I'll buy a lavender spray because I like it.

Essential oils are like your garden, I always grow mint, and one of the joys of having an herb garden is to walk around after a long day's work and touch and crush the leaves and bring your fingers up to your nose. It's just so wonderful. And to share that with someone, look, smell this herb!

How many thousands of years has humanity been doing that? Touching and smelling herbs, and sharing it with their family members? A long time, I'll wager. So there's nothing wrong with liking essential oils, it's elemental, in my opinion.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:20 PM on January 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I like huffing crushed herbs too; the thing I'm really obsessed with, olfactorily, is perfume. The niche kind, the kind you buy at the airport, one perfume oil I made myself, a few full bottles, and somewhere between 50 and 100 tiny sample vials. Today I'm wearing this. It smells great.

There's always some musical thing I'm obsessed with and these past two weeks it's been the complete works of the Weakerthans and John K. Samson.

Textile obsessions come and go too: I'm always knitting and spinning a bunch of things, right now I'm also weaving and embroidering and I'm often into specific idioms or techniques: Canadian spinning wheels, Japanese dress patterns, diamond twill weaves.

I'm perennially obsessed with art that has a sense of place. I've gone into fugue states looking at Queering the Map for hours and I have an itch in my brain right now to add a Genius annotation to a song that refers to two bus routes in Minneapolis.
posted by clavicle at 9:30 AM on January 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't know if it rises to the level of obsession yet, but I can feel it coming in the air tonight -- I've mentioned before on Metafilter how I've been making paper flowers and plants. By and large, it's a fun, relaxing hobby, where if I depart from the instructions, it's usually fine, and where if I mess up, the ABSOLUTE WORST that will happen is I just get a fresh sheet of paper and start again.



I'm still! fucking! stuck! on the Rothschild's slipper orchid for my friend's wreath -- first, it was trying to figure out how to get the slipper shape of the orchid, which took some digging around, but then I found this youtube tutorial which I've watched at least 15-20 times in its entirety.

But that version makes a bigger orchid than the framework of my wreath calls for, so I shrunk the template down.

But then I realized that the vertical stripes on the bloom of the orchid weren't quite right, in that I was drawing them on crepe paper with a brush marker, so you could see it bleed up slightly on the grain. So I did a version that used a gel pen.

But then I realized that by layering pastel coloring on top of the gel pen, the gel no longer stood out as clearly.

Each runthrough takes a solid three hours of focused, continuous crafting after my kid is in bed to make a single orchid bloom that's maybe two inches from tip to tip, and on my lunch break, I'm watching weirdo specialist videos like this, which is, for the record, some person in a dim room badly panning around two blooms while "Puttin' on the Ritz" plays.

I, uh, guess we've moved into obsession land.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:21 AM on January 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm kind of obsessed with the life of Jan Michael Vincent because - wow - what an amazing train wreck.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 4:25 PM on January 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

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