The Growth of a Hobby

I’ve been interested in technology since I was a teen. Even then, my fascination was with all things audio. I’ll never forget buying a Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder. (Even if you recall reel-to-reel recorders, how many of you recall Webcor products?) Unlike those cheap little recorders that were so popular then, this recorder could record in stereo. And since each channel had its own record button, that allowed me to record two tracks of any of my songs I wanted to record. Voice and guitar. Or even two guitar parts.

Years passed and technology changed and grew. I bought a four-track recorder that recorded on cassette tape. I was starting to get a taste for what could be done with multiple tracks. I could play guitar on one, bass guitar on another, and sing on a third. I used the fourth track for simple percussion; I’ve never been much of a drummer.

And then I upgraded to an eight-track analog recorder, not to be confused with those eight-track players that played those humongous tape cartridges. But this one also recorded on cassette tapes. And not the cheap ones. But that was okay. Being able to harmonize with myself and add additional accompaniment–sometimes additional guitar parts, sometimes strings or other instruments from my keyboard–was challenging but worthwhile.

And then I decided to switch to a digital eight-track recorder. I don’t recall how much it cost, but the prices on equipment like that had come down considerably. No longer was I limited to recording on cassette tapes. The new baby used a special kind of diskette that retained every bit of clarity I would ever need.

I still use that recorder, although it’s quite outdated now. Many musicians who record at home do so with their computers, using specialized software.

I seriously doubt I’ll ever do that. I don’t do nearly as much recording as I used to do. I’m not sure whether those diskettes are even manufactured anymore. But they’re entirely reusable, so that’s not likely to become a problem.

My newest gadget deserves mention, however. It’s a tiny, hand-held stereo digital recorder that makes broadcast-quality recordings. At least it would if it had broadcast-quality microphones. But recordings it makes can be easily uploaded to my laptop and edited there. (The inability to do that is a real drawback with the eight-track recorder.) I use it mostly just to record each of the songs I share at my church’s weekly nursing home ministry.

So here I am–a committed amateur musician who records as many of his songs as possible–for posterity, if nothing else–and posts the best of them, the nursing home recordings included, on his website.

Do you have a hobby or interest that started small and has grown larger or at least more important to you over the years? How about leaving a comment?


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Best regards,

Photography–from Hobby to Ministry

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The pictures above are three of my favorites.

I started developing a real interest in photography–no pun intended with “developing”–around 1966 or 1967, when my church had a friend of my parents for a revival preacher. He was in and out of our home several times, and he became interested in my Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio, something that had given me hours of pleasure over the years, but which I was no longer using at all then.

And he had a camera he no longer had a need for. An Argus C-3, if I recall correctly. Of course, that was a long time before the advent of digital photography. As a college student, I didn’t have much money for film and processing, so I focused (no pun intended here, either) on black-and-white photography. I didn’t go crazy taking pictures, though. I still couldn’t afford to.

But then–that summer or the next–I was working at a summer job in North Carolina at a Baptist conference center that produced a yearbook of and for summer staff. I don’t recall how the editor of the yearbook came to see some of my photographs, but I was asked to be the yearbook photographer. That meant taking as many candid pictures as I could–not the individual staff pictures–at no cost to me personally.

In fact, they not only borrowed a light meter and a tripod for me, they allowed me to keep all of the prints they couldn’t use. How could things get better than that?

Although I still glance through that yearbook occasionally and take pride in a number of my pictures, I can’t help feeling embarrassed over duds they had to include because no better pictures were available.

Skip ahead a number of years to my first mission trip–Australia. By then I was lugging around a good-sized video camera that used VHS tapes–and not a film camera. It took several more mission trips for me to realize that–although being able to show certain activities “live” was desirable–it was a poor substitute in other ways for good  photographs that people could peruse casusally.

After several years of doing both videos and still photos, I gave up the video recording. I moved slowly through a progression of increasingly nice film cameras until I finally made the move to digital.

I was hooked. I could finally take as many pictures as I wanted to, delete the duds, and print only the ones I needed prints of. I could even doctor them up electronically. How wonderful!

For a number of years I adorned my living room walls with 24×30 inch posters of some of my favorite pictures. (I’ve since downsized to ledger-sized prints in order to include more.) And I’ve posted many of them on my website as well. Check HERE for a page of them. (The pictures OF me are NOT selfies, however.)

Sometimes I’ve felt a little funny about having so much money invested in camera equipment. Not that a professional photographer would look at my gear with more than mild curiosity.  But it’s turned out that God had a purpose in providing me with the interest, the talent, and the equipment .

I may not have an official title like “Church Photographer,” but I’ve become one of several people they always ask to take pictures of special events. Events like the yearly Family Fishing Day. The Shoebox Party. Special choir events. And numerous other occasions. Being useful that way not only makes me feel good, but encourages me to keep sharpening (okay, pun intentional this time) my skills.

I’m thrilled that God has chosen to turn my hobby into a ministry.

What about you? Do you have a hobby that has turned into a ministry to other people? How about sharing a comment?


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
Best regards,