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Welcome to my site.

It is here that I will feature my hobbies, interests, and passions (HIP) projects with the intent not only share them with others but to explore the how and why we become interested in one thing or another.

These activities, whatever they are, can give meaning to our lives, provide a creative outlet, exercise our problem solving skills, and allow us to connect with others having similar interests for those all-important social connections.


hobby - This is an activity that someone engages in, purely for the pleasure of doing it. It is usually done during their leisure time. While it can be something that produces monetary income, this is not the primary purpose for engaging in it. This activity could be collecting things, engaging in sport, creating or building things, playing games, playing a musical instrument, acting, reading, etc. Hobbies are not passive activities as they take a degree of involvement by those engaging in them.

interest - This is an emotional response one has to a particular topic, issue, event, process, or object that becomes the focus of attention and arouses a curiosity about it. The individual may or may not take the next step and delve furthing into it or and make it a hobby. The interest could be fleating or long-lasting. The individual may put it on the shelf until the opportunity to further pursue it opens up.

passion - In this context, it is a strong emotional reaction to something. The emotional response can arrive in a split second and be overwhelming, drawing the individual quickly through the level of interest into implementation/action as a hobby. Not all hobbies and interests are fueled by passions but passion can and does take hobbies and interests to new levels.

I am interested (yes, an interest) in how the interests are created and, particulalry, in how passions are ignited. What elements come together to create a situation where an individual is launched into these emotional states. It seems to be highly individualized since there are times when two people are in the same place, experiencing the same event, and one can become passionate about something because of the experiences while, for the other person, it does not elicit the same emotional response. Why is that?

A Case Study

For myself, I have experienced all three of these emotional states and remember occassions when an interest was formed but, more importantly, I remember the situations when a passion was ignited in a split second. In one case, it was in 1978 that I was taking a mechanical drafting class at a junior college and we were learning about the design of various types of gears. To determine the dimensions needed to draw the gear it was necessary to complete a number of calculations and, depending on the problem, this could be quite the challenge, coming up with a dozen dimensions when given only 3 or 4 numbers to start with. At one point I asked my teacher if this was how it was done on the job because it seemed rather time-consumming and tedious. He answered that they would more likely be using a computer to solve the problem rather than crunching numbers with a hand calculator.

I asked "How does a computer know how to do that?" He answered that someone writes a program and the computer uses that to generate the answers. I asked "What's a program?" It has to be kept in mind that this was in 1978 when computers were known but certainly did not have the penetration into daily life that we are familiar with now. He asked the class how many of us had ever seen a computer in person. No hands were raised. He then said it was time for a field trip and off went across campus to the math bulding and up to the second floor computer lab.

In that lab there were 8 computer terminal stations, each having a black and white monitor and a keyboard. He pointed to the 4 blue ones across the room and said they were connected to a Univac computer across campus in another building. The other 4 were connected to a DEC PDP-11 which he pointed to in the corner of the room. He mentioned that this computer cost about $100,000, a number that certainly impressed us.

He sat down at one of the DEC terminals and, as we crowded around him, he typed in a few characters, telling us he was "logging in." With a few more key strokes he told us he was getting in to the BASIC programming language and that he was going to write a program. This program would ask the user to enter two numbers, it would add them together and produce the answer. He type in 4 lines of text after which he did something that made the program "run." On the screen it asked for the user to enter a number. He did and pressed "Enter" after which the computer asked him to enter another number, which he did. After pressing Enter again the computer showed the sum on the screen. "That's it," he said, "that's a computer program." My eyes had become transfixed on the screen, looking at those 4 lines and the results from the run. That's it? This is what programming is? My head was swimming with the possibilities and, in a way, I felt like I already understood this and, at the same time, any mystique surrounding programming had just been elimated. He answered a few questions and then said we needed to get back to our class but before we left he asked if anyone was interested in trying it. I don't think anyone else answered in the affirmative or, maybe, they were intimidated by how quickly I said that I would. As the rest of the class left he told me how to log on and off using his faculty account, gave me a few pointers, and said he'd see me back in class later before suggesting that I write programs that would do my gear calculations.

I sat at the terminal, played for a while, and after exhausting the basic math functions, +, -. *. and / that he'd left me with I logged off and headed straight to the campus bookstore and bought the textbook for BASIC programming, shown on the left. After class I headed for home, needing to get to sleep because I had to be at work at 10pm for my midnight sfift but I was consummed. I devoured that book, barely understanding it on the first pass. At work I could hardly wait for the shift to end so I could get back to that terminal and try out some of what I'd read about in the book. I also wanted to get started on that gear calulating program.

That is how a passion can be launched. A random experience coupled with an opportunity to further it. Had my teacher not given me access to the computer through his account, it is likely that none of what followed would have taken place. I did write that gear calculating program, a portion of the source code is shown on the right. I followed that up with a small database program my teacher wanted that dealt with enrollment trends, shown below. I tried all kinds of functions and ideas. It was wonderful. Then something terrible happened. The math classes started coming to the lab to do actual schoolwork and since they had priority I was bumped from the system. I went back to drafting class (this is after a few weeks of checking in but doing little work) and complained about the situation. I felt like a drug addict who had suddly lost his connection. My teacher told me to look on the bright side as now I could catch up on my drafting assignments since I had fallen somewhat behind, dropping about 2 letter grades. I said I could do that but what about my addiction?

He was compassionate and suggested that I just go buy my own computer. Right, like I have $100,000 for that. No, he said, they make these things called "personal computers" now and they do all kinds of things like make sounds, display in colors, etc. Really? I had seen video arcade games, like Pong and Pacman, but didn't know that programmable computers were available for the home. He didn't know how much they cost but pointed me to a nearby computer store. After class I hopped on my motorcycle and stopped at the Byte Shop near the corner of Bellflower and Stearns in Long Beach, CA. The store looked like a science fiction set with computer terminals and keyboards all around, large appliances about the size of dishwashers, and the sound of a dot-matrix printer making racket somewhere.

I told the salesman that I heard there were things called "personal computers" that one could write programs on and that they displayed in color and made sounds. He said, "Yes, we have one of those right over here." We walked across the room and I saw my first Apple ][. He ran a program on it called "Capabilities" that demonstrated what it could do. Wow, animation, color, sounds, and it had game paddles!!! I had him show me the BASIC language it contained and I knew this was just what I needed, but how much? $1,200. I said, "I'll be back." And I was, with my car and $1,200. He asked if I had a monitor. No. A TV? Yes, a small one. "Then you need an RF modulator, but I can't sell it with the computer so it will be separate transacton." It seems there was some kind of FCC rule that I was about to violate. It was only another few dollars more but would allow me to connect the computer to the antenna of a regular television. I loaded it up and I had my new connection for my drug fix. There is a photo of it below.

Elsewhere on this site I will detail where that computer and my interest in programming took me but this illustrates how a passion can arrive full-blown and also the importance of having the resources and opportunity available to bring it into full fruition. Luckily, I had those, both the money and time, as well as access to a new technology that allowed me to further delve into this topic where the passion fueled the motivation.

Partial program listing for database

My Apple ][, dusty, but ready to run

Passions vs. Hobbies/Intersts

As this site is dynamic, I will be adding to it and further developing these thoughts. Computer programming is but one example of a passion I have experienced. I have at least 4 more: Photography, Music, Old Time Radio, and Motorcycles. Other interests have developed into into hobbies such as Magnetic Recording, Food and Cooking, Visual Arts, How to do stuff, and Running, that, while strong on interest, I wouldn't characterize them as passions. I think that "passion" is more reserved for those few things that one thinks about, a lot, when not doing them, that can be all-consumming for a time.


One of the best things that can happen is when our hobbies, interests, or passions overlap with one another. An example would be how my passion for computer programming was applied to my passion for Old Time Radio shows when I created a web site for those shows and wrote software that not only lets me search for certain programs within my collection but to stream them over my local network. These crossovers have an exponential effect in terms of satisfaction.

January 2021