Hobbies that do not involve gadgets


I would guess that most of you reading the-gadgeteer are just as gadget obsessed as I am. I love gadgets and running this site, but I’ve come to realize that eating, breathing and sleeping gadgets is not always a good thing. Yes, admitting you have a problem is the first step… ;o) Sometimes a person just needs to get away from technology to appreciate it more. There are several ways that I tech-purge. One of the main things that I like to do is fingerpick my acoustic guitar or goof around with my dulcimer. I am also getting ready to buy a ukulele and give that a try. I find playing music to be very relaxing. I also like to woodburn (pyrography) and do leather work. It’s been awhile since I’ve done those last two activities, but I have the skills ;o)

How do you guys tech-purge? Share your non-gadget related hobbies with us.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Shelly October 12, 2007, 12:55 pm

    Well…this isn’t non-gadget but it involves getting up and taking your gadget out of doors at least.
    Gadget: GPS
    What: Geocaching.

    What a great excuse to get up, go somewhere you haven’t been-even if it’s only two miles away – and use a gadget.

  • Keith Anderson October 12, 2007, 1:51 pm

    Beer. Lots of it. 😉

    I homebrew (when I get the chance) and make a 5 gallon batch of a good scotch ale, or maybe a stout. About the highest tech thing I use is the thermometer. That being said, I could spend thousands on gadgets and thingummies and whatsits. The basic technique for making beer hasn’t changed in thousands of years – put warm water on malted barley, wait a while, drain off the liquid, boil it with hops, cool it, add yeast, let it sit still it stops frothing, bottle it, wait a while for the flavours to meld and drink. Maybe a few afternoons of (easy) work and a month or two of elapsed time.

  • Andrew Albinger October 12, 2007, 1:54 pm

    I guess some of us are just TOO gadget addicted.

    I started running in July. When pondering your question above that is the 1st thing that popped into my mind. Running! No gadgets at all!

    But then I remembered that one of the first things I did was go out and buy myself a Timex Ironman T5B561 interval timer watch.

    I guess gadgets just seek me out whatever I’m doing.

  • Doug Curtis October 12, 2007, 1:59 pm

    I defrag my cranial hard drive by getting out and riding my road bike (bicycle). I’ve done ~3,500 miles this year. Occasionally I mix the gadgets with the biking. I have a GPS that I use when I go out on a new route or on a Century ride, and I’ve done 3 of those this year. Also, I built a steadicam mount for the bike, to hold a miniDV camera. I’ve taped several rides and turned them into DVDs that I use when I ride my bike on the trainer indoors.

  • carly October 12, 2007, 2:13 pm

    Running and playing rugby are my non-gadget hobbies. But oddly, the gadgets are creeping into rugby…i’ve been videoing bits of games, and making youtube vids with music of my team. My teammates love it, and I’ll probably do an end of season retrospective dvd with my vids and other people’s pictures. I guess you can’t run from being a geek….

    With running I am fairly low tech. I have a shuffle for music, and that’s it. I don’t even bother with a case for it, since it clips so nicely onto my t shirt sleeve or shorts. And the tactile buttons are great because I can control it through a jacket…

  • anson October 12, 2007, 4:11 pm

    Julie, here’s what you can do to combine your fetishes…

    • play a little ditty on your ukulele, then record it as a .mp3 so you can import it as a ringtone on your iphone (tho you gotta run the hack first)
    • practice your leatherwork by making your very own customized iphone-holster, after you have used your woodburner to sear a nice pattern into the leather :p

    Don’t forget to show the rest of the gadgeteers how your handy-work turned out 🙂

  • Alex Lindner October 12, 2007, 4:27 pm

    I admit it, i have a gadget problem!

    Well to get away from gadgetry, i usually end up making models. Car models, plane models and the like. I also end up playing music as well, the cello specifically. And i have a couple of ideas: 1) How about burning “thegadgeteer.com” in wood and post it as a picture and 2) Make leather hats and sell them on eBay.

  • Cornelis October 12, 2007, 5:25 pm

    Hauling a** on my motorcycle or scooter!
    After having been pc and gadget oriented for a concentrated 10 years, I went out, got my motorcycle license in 2003 and since then I have logged 34900 miles.
    The biggest runs were in 2004 and 2005 to Marseille, France, Monaco and to Naples, Italy.
    Driving soothes my nerves and it’s the last frontier as far as being alone. Listening to your engine, getting white line fever, feeling the sun and the rain on you directly… it’s beyond description if you haven’t experienced it yourself Best of all: you don’t have to talk to anyone while on your bike (no way am I going to get a bluetooth phone headset in my helmet 🙂 Total detachment.

  • Dave Rees October 12, 2007, 9:37 pm

    Running, tennis, motorcycle riding, construction projects, and watching Myth Busters w/my 6 yr old son 🙂

  • Mark Rosengarten October 13, 2007, 7:43 am

    Non-gadget activities???? I used to do those. Sometimes I even read a book that is not an ebook, but that is getting to be less often. When I go geocaching, I have my GPS and my Treo (with the caches listed on Cachemate), so that doesn’t even count. When I go outside and do yardwork and landscaping, the iPod is at my side. Ditto for when I go on a long walk. When I go out to eat, my Treo is with me so I can read. I ride my bike, but I am usually watching something on TV at the same time. In the absence of real people to occupy my mind while doing things, the gadgets help to get that job done. If I had someone to walk with, then the iPod would be totally unnecessary. Until such a time as that happens, I will walk to my audiobooks. Pretty much the only gadgetless activity I do now is petting the cats!!!

  • David Hopper October 13, 2007, 7:53 am

    I grab some rope, paracord, string, line, or whatever cordage I have handy, grab one of my knot books, and see what I can create with it. I do use scissors/knife and a lighter, so it’s not completely getting away from the gadgets. It can be a fun hobby. If you’re interested, see my blog for info, links, and resources to try it yourself. http://stormdrane.blogspot.com

  • Julie October 13, 2007, 10:44 am

    Lots of great conversation here. Thanks guy! Let me address some of your comments:

    ShellyPain: I purchased a handheld GPS last year so I could get out and geocache. I did do it once… but not sure that it counts as the cache was only about 300 or so feet from my front door. Ha! I’d like to get out and find cache #2. It’s a great time of year right now to get outside.

    npkeith: Great hobby! I’m too much of a ‘want it right now’ kind of girl to wait months for the end result. ;o)

    aalbinger: You get extra points for choosing a hobby that involves exercise :o)

    FullCarbonBike: Another exercise nut huh? What’s a century ride? 100 miles?

    questionfear: You guys are making me feel like a slug! Hey, share your youtube link so we can see your rugby vids. :o)

    anson: You know, my very first leather project was a case for the Psion 3a. I was an idiot to let that case go with the PDA when I sold it. I wonder if anyone is still using it, or if it got trashed… If I do create something woodburned or with leather, I’ll definitely post a pic!

    Lavadragon29: Models and cello playing. Now that’s an interesting combination of activities!

    Cornelis: I like traveling too… but inside my car. I don’t like helmets or bugs. Ha!

    drees: Maybe we should post pictures of the deluxe outhouse you’re constructing on your property :o)

    gadjitfreek: Petting cats definitely counts. Last night my cat Max cornered a shrew in the basement. How the shrew got into the house is a puzzlement… He finally ran the shrew into my office at around 11pm, I was able to capture it and set it free. Max continued to wander around the office trying to figure out where it went :o)

    Stormdrane: I have drooled over your creations for a long while! Great stuff!!!

  • carly October 14, 2007, 11:39 am



    We are the team in red. I am getting slowly better, but it’s a tough sport to film!

    In other news, though, we’ve just finished our regular season 5-0, and we are on to regional playoffs this weekend! With luck, we’ll be playing in Nationals in Orlando in a few weeks. Not only do I want to win to go to Nationals, I really want to be able to get a post-game ending of “We’re going to Disney World” because I am a dork.

    And Julie, you run this website. You are far from a slug.

  • Julie October 15, 2007, 9:31 am

    Wow, rough game!!!

  • Grant October 15, 2007, 10:48 am

    I cook. It’s still somewhat technical though so it isn’t a complete step away from gadgets. The cooking for engineers forums (http://www.cookingforengineers.com/forums/) has plenty of geeky discussion. But, when I’m in the kitchen it’s all sensory stuff – smells, touch, taste etc… My daughter wants to be a chef so we cook together.


  • carly October 15, 2007, 1:16 pm

    Yea, it’s not exactly a dainty game. But once you get going, it feels so…satisfying to play. And you have to love a game where the standing tradition is the home team hosts a social (with kegs) for the visiting team post-game. Complete with horrifically dirty songs. Google “rugby social songs” and you’ll see. Just not at work.

  • Bill Otstott October 15, 2007, 2:30 pm

    Acting on stage. 25 years and counting. No gadgets needed there.
    However, I was asked to play a sci-fi fan (not a stretch for me) in a short play that took place at a sci-fi convention.
    I walked around using my Sony Clie. LOL!

  • Julie October 15, 2007, 5:00 pm


    An actor huh? Very very interesting. Are you in a group for your community, or something even larger? Just curious. :o)

  • Hai October 16, 2007, 12:11 am

    Non-gadget unwind? That is impossible! Just kidding. How about an old-fashion book? If you don’t count DVD player as a gadget, then watching DVD is also in my list. Some considers a camera a gadget, I don’t. That’s why I take photos to unwind.

  • Bill Otstott October 16, 2007, 2:10 pm

    Not really in a group per se. I go where the auditions are. Most of the shows I’m in are at the Pocket Sandwich Theater in Dallas. I’m writing a show for them to produce.

    I’ve also done some movies and TV, but it’s tough with a full time job. Theater rehearsals and performances are nights & weekends, so there are no conflicts with the job that pays the bills. : )

  • Matthew Z Stout October 16, 2007, 4:58 pm

    Non-Gadget!?!? What are these words of which you speak??


    I make chainmail.

    I make jewelry.

    I take photographs outdoors mostly the interesting little “hidden in plain site” things in the city I live in. I know, technically it involves gadgets.

    I gaze at my reef tank.

  • Julie October 16, 2007, 5:12 pm


    You make chainmail and jewelry? I must see pics! :o)

  • S J October 17, 2007, 2:49 pm

    Art – even though there are plenty of “gadgets” to use – mostly I do abstract pyroengraving on gourds and have recently started making chainmail jewelry.

    Long walks listening to audiobooks – does that count since it does require a gadget.

  • Julie October 17, 2007, 4:20 pm


    Yet another person that mentions chainmail. I’m curious now :o)

  • Matthew Z Stout October 18, 2007, 2:05 pm

    I have a few pieces up on http://www.deviantart.com if you do a search for the same username as above (fliberdygibits). It’s very much a work in progress with not much chain clothing right now…. however I am JUST breaking in a new camera and will soon start to post more photos of past works.


  • Julie October 18, 2007, 3:01 pm

    Very cool! Do you make each of the links by hand? Looks like it would take a long time.

  • Jacqueline October 18, 2007, 4:46 pm

    Along with being a gadget hound, I’m also a (struggling) freelance writer as well as an avid reader. Sure I find myself fiddling around with my pda at a bookstore, but there are times where I actually “unplug” and read or listen to music.

  • Matthew Z Stout October 20, 2007, 10:57 am

    It did in fact take a while for the large necklace, about 40 total hours if I remember right. Each link was turned by hand from spools of surgical stainless and titanium wire. Then the whole thing was hand woven, something to the tune of 5800 rings or thereabout.

  • Julie October 20, 2007, 7:17 pm

    How did you get interested in that hobby?

  • Mark Adkins October 20, 2007, 7:28 pm

    Raising Red-footed Tortoises (4 in the herd so far, want at least one more. They should hit breeding age in only about 5 more years!

    I was deeply interested in magic, juggling, etc.- but I am not very good at it, so have let that fade a bit.

  • Matthew Z Stout October 21, 2007, 12:42 pm

    I have an uncle who is a blacksmith/armorsmith, has been for years. While visiting one time he showed me a piece of chainmail he’d made (only piece he ever made) and we discussed it for a while. I was fascinated and a few years later (6 or 7 years ago now) I decided to try my hand at it, minus the drawing my own wire part like he did. I’ve made full size clothing pieces all the way down to rings for your finger out of everything from stainless steel to titanium to silver to niobium to neoprene. This has over time branched into a bit of wire weaving, some casting, anodizing of titanium and niobium, etc….

    It’s all alot of fun, and the actually chain weaving is almost medatative.

  • Julie October 21, 2007, 4:32 pm


    Turtles huh? You need to talk to Meredyth, she has 2 small turtles :o)


    It all sounds really cool! Do you sell the things you make?

  • Matthew Z Stout October 21, 2007, 4:58 pm

    I try to:) I get a steady-ish stream of requests for custom pieces that make money. Mostly the stuff I randomly build because the mood strikes me I end up giving away or trading. And thank you for the compliments btw:) It’s fun no matter what.

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