For the past few years, whenever the semester changes, or there is a significant shift in my life, I “deep dive” into a topic. This is when something begins to take up all my free time, and I get obsessed with the minutia of something most people find inconsequential. I’ve been doing this all my life, and my blog has served as a sort of catalog of my most recent obsessions for a while now. Usually the desire to “deep dive” into something happens reflexively during the summer as a way to stave off boredom. Normally these deep dives also coincide with a change in my habits, and my media consumption, social circle, or living situation. I’ve been doing this all my life, but I’m just more aware of it now.
When I first got married and started living with my wife, I was trying to learn how to use, install, and be a daily Linux user. I decided I wanted to start learning how to use my computer better, and I wanted to avoid Microsoft in Korea after I had some computer problems. I installed Ubuntu distro files, got frustrated by how backwards Korea was treating non-Windows users, and simply gave up my principled stand once I could use English versions of programs once again. This was my last “philosophical/moral” deep dive that I can recall. I wanted to see if Linux was viable in Korea and decided not to bother after too many setbacks.
During this time, my media consumption was different. I was into audiobooks for a time, and would listen to hours of people reading while I walked around. This was before I had a media enabled phone, and podcasts weren’t really a thing yet. This was also the last time I was interested in watching television, because my wife and I would buy DVD sets with subtitles and sit down to watch television shows together. We haven’t had the time, and we don’t buy media like that anymore. I haven’t watched regularly scheduled television on TV for the past seven years.
After we moved into our new home, I was really into video games. I was obsessed before I was married too, spending huge amounts of money on Nintendo consoles. I bought a Wii, Nintendo DS, and played computer games for a long time. This obsession with video games came about way back in university, solidified after my first year in Korea, and stuck with me until I got married.
I also got really into politics through a video game forum that had a discussion board. There was a shift in my interests, where I got less into games and more into following the news. I followed the 2008 election for over a year and a half, and spent hours each day analyzing the news, and listening to podcasts. This led to my love of Google Reader, RSS, and lots of time on the computer keeping up with events around the world. I still listen to a few of the podcasts I found during this time of my life on a weekly or daily basis.
When I changed jobs and started working at the university, I started to get really into D&D 4e. I had no more time for solitary video games, so I spent hours of my time listening to podcasts while walking my dog and trying to come up with twists for my campaign for friends. My idea of a good time was trying to mix-max a character or come up with a new back story. When the development of materials for D&D slowed down, and my time for story telling changed, I got into other things, and haven’t had a chance to play in a good role playing game in a few years now. Occasionally inspiration for a character will hit me and I would love to find a group once again, but time prevents me from restarting this hobby. I would stay up late into the night writing creative materials for campaigns that would never be played, and bought pounds of dice, books, and read everything about role playing I could get my hand on. It was a very rewarding hobby because it encouraged social interaction. I really wish I still had time for this.
From D&D, I got into card games. Some of my long time friends in Korea got me into different types, whether they were collectible or simply strategic, they bridged the game from D&D to something less time consuming. I played days worth of Race for the Galaxy a few summers back, and even bought the game myself, but it’s been languishing on my shelf since then. From there, I started on Magic: The Gathering with some of my D&D buddies, which was a rabbit hole that I paid for with hard cash for two years.
When I saw that my much delayed Master’s was going to become an inevitability, I used last summer to play Magic: The Gathering, and specifically EDH to put myself at ease. I hung out with other players, met friends, and genuinely tried to enjoy my last bit of free time before I would need to study and write all the time. Playing games with friends was a lot of fun, but the cost of this game was prohibitively expensive, and the Korean players I met did not have reasonable views on “fun”. My foreign buddies and I might make an attempt to hang out once a month these days, but it’s not enough to keep up with everything. People still invite me to come out for the occasional Magic game, draft, or whatever, but the stars need to align for me to be able to join and I can’t spend the time keeping up with the latest strategies and decks anymore.
The birth of my second child put an end to the expendable finances required to play Magic: The Gathering at a competitive/ casual level in the environment at the store where I was involved, so I’ve been looking for new “deep dive” materials recently. My latest thing (as evidenced by my blog) has been the increased importance as my role as an educator and parent. I have no free time that isn’t structured around when I need to help out with my screaming children (I’ve been interrupted no less than a dozen times trying to finish this post.).
Being able to meet other people outside the home has been nearly impossible, and our budget is limited to a few frills for our daughter, not some expensive cardboard to play games. I have to help my wife out as much as possible, while still trying to earn enough money to pay for our bills and my own education. As of right now, I can listen to a few podcasts, read the news, and try to blog, but that’s about it. It’s really about trying to finish my Master’s without being completely overwhelmed by stress at work and at home.
My current outlet of curiosity and interest have been a few television shows and some comics that I read. Having a tablet to consume media while not being trapped at a desk has been a must, and being able to be mobile with my media consumption is the only way I can find time during a commute or between classes to keep up with anything.
With this current deep dive into comic books, I’ve been listening to a new comic podcast, The Comic Shack. Trying to read everything is impossible, so knowing the best comics, or the most highly recommended runs on books are the best ways to approach the hobby. The show is from the perspective of people who used to read comics years ago, and have recently come back to the hobby, which describes me. I’ve been out of comics for decades, but enjoyed the movies and would like to see what is going on on comics. (If you are interested in this show specifically, skip the first host and catch up on the Moisés Chiullan hosted episodes only.)
I went on a hike up the local mountain like I was doing last summer this weekend, and I spent it listening to shows about all the comic books I would like to read if I could find the time. Last year I was hiking the mountain and listening to podcasts about Magic and EDH, and now I’m listening to things about comics. I’m not really interested in the promotional, recent, or newest comic materials, so it doesn’t take much effort for me to listen because being current isn’t a goal. Good old stories are just as good as new ones. Back episodes where people recommend their “best of” runs are perfect. Finding about about an author, character, or story I might like to read has been enough to keep me entertained.
Like each “deep dive”, I get a little obsessed, spend a disproportionate amount of my time thinking about the materials, and ultimately abandon it for something new. Right now, with two children that demand constant attention about everything, simply having something else to think about is a huge benefit. I love my kids, but I need an escape. Eventually I’ll get into writing my next paper, and the amount of time I can spend looking at comics will shrink down to nothing. When my dissertation comes in a year, I’ll be too busy to do anything else.
Who knows what will be next?