Hobbies and Friends and catching up on Assignments

I missed last week’s Weekend Assignment because I didn’t get inspired with an answer for it until the week was nearly over, and by then I had the week’s posts all scheduled out. Therefore, this week you’re getting two Assignments for the price of one post (but I promise I’ll try not to go on too long with either one!).

Weekend Assignment #257: It’s just a hobby of mine…, via guest professor Laura

Weekend Assignment #257: Are there any hobby activities you’ve always wanted to try? What is their appeal? Also, what’s stopping you from pursuing them?

(Since this assignment is overdue, it’s not eligible for extra credit.)

I enjoy singing. Most of the time I am capable of carrying a tune in a bucket, so even if other people don’t enjoy my singing as much as I do myself, I hope it’s not too painful for them. For the most part, though, I sing a capella, unless you count whatever I’m singing with on the radio or iPod as a backing track. Other than my brief experience with the violin in elementary school, I’ve never learned to play a musical instrument, and I’ve always wished I knew how to play piano or guitar.

The piano would probably be my first instrument choice. My family had a piano when my sister and I were kids, and although we never got lessons, I taught myself to sight-read a little. The bigger appeal of the piano, though, is that it’s easier to follow the melody line and match it to a vocal, since it’s based on notes rather than chords, as the guitar is. The guitar definitely is cooler, though, and as long as you’re not talking about the electrified variation of either instrument, it’s certainly more portable than a piano.

I would hope that I’m not too old to learn to play an instrument, so what stops me from following up on this wishful thinking are the more prosaic obstacles of time and money. I’m thinking that maybe I should just give Guitar Hero a try instead, since we’ve already spent the money on that.

Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to give a try?

Weekend Assignment #258: It’s a Small Web (After All)

Weekend Assignment #258: In the online world, the word “friend” has become a verb. We “friend” or we “follow” people on social media sites and blogs, often forming casual connections with people we would be unlikely ever to meet face to face. Do you extend your arms wide to the online world, collecting lots of online acquaintances, or limit your web interactions mostly to “real” friends?

Extra Credit: Have you had much online interaction with people from other countries?

Like it or not, my online and offline social circles don’t intersect all that much. Not many of my offline friends and family have become active on the Internet to the degree that I have. My husband and son both blog sporadically, and my sister is a fellow contributor to the Los Angeles Moms Blog. More and more of my “real” friends and family have joined Facebook, which is probably the social-media spot where I spend the smallest amount of time, so I don’t see them online all that often. It’s my loss, but unfortunately Facebook has gotten the short end of the stick in my Internet time-rationing, and that’s partly because I actually like spending time on blogging.

I hesitate to say that my offline friends are the only “real” ones, though. My connections with some of the folks I’ve gotten to know online are just as “real” to me. I’ve met a few of them in person, but the fact that I’m unlikely to physically cross paths with most of them doesn’t diminish those relationships. I enjoy meeting new people online and getting better acquainted with the ones I’ve already met via blogging and Twitter, which for the moment are meeting my social-media-interaction needs pretty well. I don’t have enormous social circles in either place – I think I have somewhere around 300 Twitter “followers,” and this blog’s follower/subscriber numbers hover anywhere between 150 and 180 (but occasionally drop to around 75), depending on how Feedburner is behaving on any given day. Since I’ve never been the life-of-the-party type, that certainly feels like a pretty wide ‘net to me!

As for the extra credit, I know that this blog has regular readers from Canada, England, Australia, Denmark, Japan, and India, and there may be more who haven’t introduced themselves via a comment yet – please feel free to do so, any time! I’ll be glad to return your visit. My online interactions with people from other countries are obviously somewhat limited by language, since I only speak, read, and write in English.

What are the boundaries of your online world – are they wide or narrow?

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  1. I took both guitar and piano lessons growing up, and although I never did adequately well with either, I think you’ve got a pretty good handle here on the pros and cons of each. Electronic keyboards are getting better and better for less and less money. It might be worth treating yourself to one, or hinting to someone else to get it for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Karen – I may have to think about that. My stepson is getting guitar lessons in his after-school program. If he decides to go further with it, we could always practice together.

  3. I have to say I laugh when I read your statement ” I hope I’m not to old”. I hope so to. I’m 46 and took up violin last year! I’m not so fabulous but I enjoy it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Keep it up.

  4. It’s funny that you mention the piano. I was at Best Buy with my daughter the other day and she was playing with the keyboards and said she wanted one. And, today I saw a note at school saying someone was giving away piano. Good luck, and no, you are not too old.

    Those are impressive numbers!

  5. To Anonymous: I wish you’d left your name, but thanks for the inspiration and good luck with the violin lessons! (And I’ll be 45 in 11 days.)

    Teena – Thanks (again) :-)!

    Mike – I hope the numbers didn’t sound like bragging, because they’re on the low side for some of the bloggers and Twitterers I know – but I’m quite happy with them :-).

    I used to want one of those keyboards you could walk on, like in the movie Big – I actually did that once, in FAO Schwartz in New York City. It was fun!

  6. I love the sound of an acoustic guitar. I wish I was better at playing it. I’ve never been a big fan of piano music on its own. One instrument I used to dislike but now love the sound of is the violin. I’m not sure I’d be any good at playing it even with lessons, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.

    My offline friends and family are, for the most part, separate from my online friends. My offline family and friends aren’t online to the degree that I am. They e-mail and websurf, but the whole blog thing is completely foreign to them. I kind of like it that way too, I admit. At least with certain people in my offline life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I don’t recall being that bad at the violin, but it was a long time ago, and it’s quite possible I was awful :-).

    Sometimes I wish more of my offline friends and family did more online, but mostly because that would make it easier for me to keep up with them, and vice versa. On the other hand, as you note, sometimes the fact that they are less involved online can be a good thing.