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October 1, 2014

9 Bizarre and Unusual Hobbies


Everyone needs a hobby. If you don’t have something constructive to do with your free time you’ll just end up doing really stupid stuff, like taking pictures of your junk and sending them to girls you meet on Twitter. So why not try out some of the hobbies listed here and see if any float your boat. Yes, I know these hobbies are kind of unusual. But this is the 21st century, man. If you want some boring grandpa hobby, try coin collecting. If you want something rad and modern, why not try stylishly leaping off a second floor balcony (#7), hunting down tupperware containers filled with cheap trinkets (#6), or wearing a fuzzy anthropomorphic animal suit to the grocery store (#1).

9. Trainspotting

It turns out that “trainspotting” is not just a mid-90s indie film from the UK that launched the Hollywood career of Ewan MacGregor. It’s a hobby. And the hobby is exactly what it sounds like. People get a book or list of specific types of railway stock—for example, a list of locomotives in a particular class—and then set about “spotting” them. When viewed, a trainspotter will cross a particular item off the list. Of course, trainspotters will collaborate with each other, pooling information to make it easier to discover the whereabouts of sought-after trains. For some reason, even though people have been doing this at least since the 1940s, railway companies have come to view trainspotters as potential terrorists. So be careful. Too much trainspotting and you could end up on the no-fly list. Then again, if you have a particular fondness for trains, maybe you don’t care.

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8. Guerilla Gardening

Guerilla Gardening is the cultivation of plants on property that does not belong to you. Most GGs simply seek the beautification of neglected urban areas. So, most often, guerilla gardeners “attack” civic property—like a highway median—that is run down, ugly, and in need of sprucing up. Thus, though technically illegal, this type of guerilla gardening is actually performing a kind of public service. However, some of the more extreme guerilla gardeners have decidedly more political agendas, and will sometimes “attack” privately owned property. For example, they might garden on the property of some hated corporation they believe is destroying the environment as a form of protest. You get the picture.

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7. Parkour and Freerunning

You could say parkour and freerunning are types of “urban acrobatics.” However, while they are very similar, they are not quite the same thing. Both involve running across an urban landscape and leaping, vaulting, or climbing over objects (large and small, high and low) in your path. But whereas parkour emphasizes minimalist, efficient movements, freerunning emphasizes “letting loose” and incorporates fancier acrobatic and aerial tricks. Both parkour and freerunning are catching on to the point that you can now take classes and learn how to do them (relatively) safely. So if you’re interested, google it and see what’s available in your vicinity.

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6. Geocaching

Geocaching is basically just a high tech scavenger hunt. Someone hides a box of something in the woods, uploads the global positioning coordinates to an online database, and then people go and find them. Often the hobby is described as being a great family activity that kids will love. But like so many things originally intended for children—comic books and baseball cards come to mind—I suspect there’s a growing number of adults who take geocaching very seriously.

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5. Locksport

Sometime in the mid-1990s, thanks to the internet, a bunch of dudes in Germany discovered that they had a similar interest: playing with, studying, and picking locks. And when you think about it, it’s not so weird. Locks are really just puzzle gadgets that happen to keep your stuff safe. In 1997 the first known organization of recreational lock-pickers was formed, and the trend has since spread around the world. They started calling it “locksport” to differentiate themselves from actual locksmiths and, of course, from people who pick locks for illegal purposes.

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4. Planking

What is planking? You lie down, flat as a board, somewhere in public—preferably in a humorous or unexpected location. Then take your picture and put it on the internet. It’s that simple. What’s not so simple is figuring out the origin of this phenomenon, because there is some disagreement over who actually started—or is it invented?—this “planking” craze. A group of guys from Somerset, England claim to have created “the lying down game” all the way back in 2000. They took their game online in 2007 and, when British media caught on in 2009, the game really took off. But another group of guys from Australia claims to have invented the phenomenon in 2008 or 2009, only they called it “planking.” If I had to guess, I’d say the English guys probably are the ones who really started the craze, but the Australian guys rebranded it with a catchier name. In any case, if you like being silly, this is the hobby for you. Just be careful, okay?

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3. Taphophilia

If you are a taphophile, you have a keen interest in or passion for cemeteries. Thus, your hobby would include researching, writing and reading epitaphs; making gravestone rubbings (like Indiana Jones does with that dead knight’s shield in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade); cemetery photography and other art; and, of course, reading up on cemetery history. What fun!

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2. Cryptozoology

Here’s a good hobby for the chronically suspicious. Cryptozoology is the study of animals whose existence is unproven. Well, some would say it’s the study of animals whose existence is highly dubious. The most famous branch of cryptozoology in North America is Bigfoot research. In the UK, it’s probably Loch Ness Monster research. So if you like sciencey stuff, but don’t like being tied down by silly little things like “evidence” and “probability,” maybe cryptozoology is for you.

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1. Furries

So it turns out there are a whole bunch of people out there who enjoy dressing up in fuzzy anthropomorphic animals costumes and, well, playing…or something. To be honest, I don’t know exactly what they do. I mean, I know they have furry conventions (like “Antrhocon”), but I don’t know what goes on at these events. Do they have furry costume contests? Do they sit at the hotel bar and talk about sports, or politics? Do they purr and bark and roll over? Who knows. I do know that some furries like to take the hobby to the next level and get intimate with each other while in costume. But it seems “normal” furries want to make it clear that “furry fandom,” as the pastime is sometimes known, is not inherently sexual. So, okay, duly noted.