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Bread Is Over: Here Are Some Next-Level Hobbies to Try in Quarantine

Ideas from Alchemy to Cryptzoology.

Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

We’re over a month into social distancing and well, we need something new. And I mean really new. We’ve done all the standard stuff: cleaned the house, reorganized the furniture, developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the plant and animal life in your neighborhood, gotten really into baking bread.

But we need excitement! Something unique! So here are six fun hobbies that you can really get into right now.

Alchemy

Recently, I got into rock tumbling, which is very fun. It’s like baking bread but it takes several weeks and at the end you get rocks instead of food. But I figure, why stop at taking rocks from rough to polished? Why not go old school and turn lead into gold! The ancient art of alchemy has kept people busy for centuries. Just because no one has ever actually done it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the old college try.

Medieval and Renaissance alchemists also didn’t worry about going to the store, they just had fun with whatever was around? Hennig Brand, in his attempts to make gold at home, collected, fermented, and boiled human urine in his alchemical pursuits and while he didn’t turn lead into anything, he did discover phosphorus! So get creative with things at home and see what happens. Maybe you’ll also create the philosopher’s stone and you won’t have to worry about coronavirus at all!

At-Home Nuclear Experiments

This entry was inspired by a recent episode of Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities Podcast. David Hahn was 17 and really wanted to earn his Atomic Energy Merit badge. And so in 1994, he set up a laboratory in his mom’s potting shed, scraped together radioactive materials from broken metal detectors and antique clocks and bam, he built a nuclear reactor in the back yard.

Now, this was incredibly dangerous and illegal and made his whole neighborhood radioactive and authorities had to be called in to dispose of the waste so … You know what. Maybe skip this one.

Build A Flying Machine

Ya know who made the most of social isolation? Daedalus. When King Minos made the designer of his famous labyrinth socially distance (well, imprisoned him) did he take that as a reason to just recite Homeric epics and chill? No! He got working and built some wings to fly out of there and if his kid hadn’t gotten all horny with the sun (see, UV LIGHT IS NOT HEALTHY), he would have done fine. Icarus died, but he and his dad have been inspiring homebodies for years.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The Wright brothers cracked this code a long time ago, I don’t need to build a flying machine at home. But again I ask: what the heck else are you going to do? Vacuum? Heck, why not combine those, get your Hocus Pocus on, and create a vacuum that flies!Iron Man activates his nanotech suit in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War.

 

Become Iron Man

I’m sure Elon Musk is already trying this, but don’t let that stop you. Tony Stark built that suit in a cave! (I hope you heard that in Jeff Bridge’s voice). That means you can do this with some tin foil, a red sharpie, and pure gumption. This combines pretty much all of the above and bonus: you get to be really cool. Why not?!

Now, I do need to give you a warning here. If you’re successful, you’ll probably set off a chain of events that will result in aliens attacking our planet. But, honestly? It’s a risk I’m willing to let you take. We’ve had our run. Let the Kree come.

Cryptozoology – at home!

Regular old cryptozoology is about finding and studying unknown and mythic species in the wild, which isn’t very safe right now. And while it would be great to talk to the OG social distancer, Big Foot, about how he copes with isolation, what I’m talking about here is getting creative.

You have the internet at your fingertips—why not just create an entirely new species complete with blurry photographs of your dog or cat in a costume and poorly supported pages of proof on the Internet? Build your own mythology about your homebrew Medium foot or Jersey Demon. What have you go to lose!

Tell The Future

Note: I didn’t say predict the future, that’s been done and honestly we’re all too afraid to actually know what’s coming down the pike (it can’t possibly be worse, can it?). What I’m suggesting is getting your Nostradamus on and just writing what the future could or should be. Old Nostradamus was allegedly afraid of being persecuted for being too good, so he wrote his prophesies in a combination of languages and with obscure terms so that they were vague enough to maybe always be right! You have google translate! You can do this.

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These are only a few ideas which my editor has told me to assure you are meant in humor and to please for the love of god, don’t actually try to do them (wink), but there’s so much to do with all this time at home! What are your suggestions?

(image: Warner Brothers)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.