Find Your Contrahobby

We’ve all been there: you’ve indulged in something you love so much that you get sick of it.  This something you love is your passion.  Hopefully this passion is your life’s work.  Maybe you’re a scientist working to find a cure.  Maybe you’re really into Dungeons and Dragons.  Perhaps you knit, or craft something with your hands.  You genuinely love it.  You love it so much that it is your hobby.

You love it, but now, unfortunately, you’ve overindulged.  You’re looking at something you love and you’re JUST. FUCKING. SICK. OF. IT.

So what do you do?  You’re experiencing burn out.  This happens to college students every semester.  And unfortunately, this happens to the best of us on occasion.  Well, it’s my opinion that you need to find your contrahobby.  Don’t bother Googling this word, because I made it up.

Let me first explain my personal etymology of this word.  It’s composed of a familiar word with a familiar prefix:

Hobby – An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
Contra – against, in opposition or contrast to.

So what I’m proposing is you find a hobby that is in opposition or contrast to your regular hobby.

I think of the word contra because of a simple concept in Discrete Mathematics: the contrapositive.  A contrapositive is a statement crafted in such a way that it is equally valid to another statement, but entirely different.  Formally, the definition states

If P, then Q;
If not Q, then not P;

For example, take a look at this contrapositive:

If Socrates is man, then Socrates is human;
If Socrates is NOT human, then Socrates is NOT man.

They’re both equally true.  Both say the exact same thing about Socrates, just differently.

The contrahobby has a similar purpose.  It uses a different approach to arrive at the same solution (the solution being that my mind is occupied with something that helps me unwind, relax, and enjoy myself).

Now, the proof of this won’t work out mathematically, but it does make sense topically.

My hobby (and my work) is web development.  I like reading about web development in my spare time, and I like playing around with many new techniques to make something work better, faster, or more intuitively.

But when that gets old, and my mind won’t take anymore, I turn to my contrahobby: cooking.  Yes, cooking.  It doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t seem related to my interests–and that’s what makes it a contrahobby.  It is a very NOT computer way to solve a problem that normally takes a computer to solve.

So, hopefully I’ve illustrated the contrahobby concept to you adequately and I’ve given you some insight into another way to solve your problems.

Do you have a contrahobby?  Are you burnt out?  Let’s talk about it.  Leave a comment, or send me a tweet @bradkovach.


Pick up the slack, Beats by Dre.

I’ve never condoned the purchase of Beats by Dre before.  And I never will.

But, I do own a pair.  I received them as a gift.  I was taken aback to receive a $200 pair of Beats headphones as a gift, but that’s neither here nor there.

Beats by Dre headphones are a well-marketed and incredibly mediocre pair of headphones that promise to restore your faith in audio with a price tag that will restore your faith in credit cards.  They’re expensive, and they only sound ok.

A terrible way to spend $200.

A terrible way to spend $200.

Regardless, I own a pair of these headphones.  Almost immediately I notice that they are comfortable (I expect this–they retail for $200).  They interface well with my iPhone with a microphone and have a cable remote (I expect this–they retail for $200).  They have surprisingly sturdy hinges and the case is of very high build quality.  I expect all of these things–they retail for $200.

But, also almost immediately notice that there is a flabbing piece of plastic in the right earpiece.  It is noticeable in extremely high-bass situations, and when you readjust the earpiece (for comfort or whatever reason), the piece of plastic clicks and flaps as the vacuum between your ear and the cuff changes.

This isn’t a huge inconvenience, for a typical product.  This is a prestige product and a luxury good!  For $200, I should have no qualms about the product for years to come.  I have found an annoying flaw within minutes of using it.

So I email Beats by Dre.  I want this fixed, naturally.

Beats by Dre’s email support offers to fix/replace my headphones even though I don’t have the receipt (that’s nice).  But when I sent them my information for them to setup the RMA (Returned Merchandise Authorization), it took them 15 days to send the RMA.

I do not get a new pair of headphones.  I will be without headphones for anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks.  I have to pay to ship the headphones back to the service center.  I have to print my own labels.

You might be sitting in your chair thinking “Brad, you are a whiny asshole.”

But this product isn’t a normal product, governed by supply and demand of a normal product.  This is a prestige product, and the demand for the product gets higher as the price gets higher.

Notice that the demand for prestige products still rises as the price does.

Notice that the demand for prestige products still rises as the price does.

Beats by Dre headphones share the prestige classification with other prestige brands like Coach and Mercedes-Benz and Cole Hahn.

Cole Hahn’s prestige shoes have free replacement shoelaces for life.  Coach leather is warrantied for life.  Any flaw in workmanship for a Mercedes-Benz will be fixed for 2 years or 50,000 miles.

A flaw in workmanship that I discovered literally minutes into owning the product qualifies me for a refurbished product, with no effort made to ease the transition.

Prestige distinction comes with an obligation: cherish me as a customer.  Take care of me and make me tell others about my experience.

So now, I have to budget my money (I’m not kidding–I have $20 right now), so I can UPS or FedEx these stupid headphones back to whence the came, so I can have the privilege of waiting two-to-four weeks for like-new headphones.  Are you kidding me?

If you had asked me “Would you buy Beats by Dre headphones?” before, I would have said no.  If you ask me today, I say “Hell no.”  Spend your money on some good headphones (that won’t need repair) by Klipsch or Sennheiser.

Reddit Comforts Men

Always remember to respect his feelings. He feels that way for a reason and it should be honored. Don’t tell him not to worry as this will cause cognitive dissonance, which will only serve to aggravate his stress. Instead, show that you care and that you trust him. Don’t make him talk. It’s not very well known amongst women, I think, that guys can get extremely emotional. We are raised to be seen and valued as caretakers, and feeling like you’re a failure can cause you to feel worthless. There is no longer a way to be masculine, and so we cannot easily make ourselves feel better. You must, for now, show that you value him. No sex. Show affection. Sex is seen as a manly thing. He won’t feel like a man, and your wanting sex and his not wanting it will make him feel worse because he won’t seem very masculine. Do stuff you know he likes. Don’t ask him if he’d like to go; say that you’re going to do it and would like him to go with you. Politely insist, if you must. Make sure it isn’t something that’s too public. A walk in a quiet neighborhood, perhaps. If you ask him to go, he’ll say no, but if you show that you want him and say that you want to be around him, he’ll be more likely to go with you. Don’t say much, if anything. Just give him a hug and lead him. Seriously, take his hand and walk somewhere. He should be beside you, not behind. Don’t look at him, just walk by his side and comfort him by holding him close and leaning your head on his shoulder. He might start talking. If so, keep doing what you’re doing. No eye contact. Just listen. If he asks a yes or no question, simply hold him tighter or motion your answer with your head. Don’t ask questions to try and understand him better; just listen. Once he airs his thoughts and feelings, head towards bench that’s somewhere near home. Sit and listen some more. Once he airs his thoughts (if he does), take him home. You can cook a meal if you want, watch a movie he enjoys, cuddle perhaps. What he really needs now is time to reflect on what you’ve done. The point of not talking was to not distract him from his feelings. A distraction would be aggravating as it would make him feel like his problem isn’t important enough to be cared about, which would be even more demeaning to him. A time where he can be around you, but still not have to talk. You must not coax him into speaking. Most men need to process things on their own. That fact that he hid away from you shows that he is most likely one of those men. But the whole point of this is to show that you care for him, and thus, he is valuable.