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Rogues are geeks by nature. It’s in our blood to figure out how things work and master awesome skills, so it’s easy for us to get a bit obsessive when we take an interest in things like explosions or making potato cannons. But even we were surprised when we discovered an untapped well full of insane geek-outs over subjects that the average person would probably consider ... well, boring.
“Wood turning” sounds like a bad ’80s porn title, but the real thing is strangely more hypnotic, and you’re way less likely to be arrested for watching it in public. On the surface, it’s a pretty simple process. Wood is spun rapidly on a tool called a lathe, and the woodworker cuts into it with chisel-like blades. It looks like this:
Watching the wood shave away like that is somehow ... incredibly relaxing, and we could watch videos of that for hours. We have no idea why, but it’s so calming to watch a block of wood turn into bowls, table legs, or even dragon eggs.
Yes, dragon eggs:
In the above video (which we cannot stress enough that you should watch), a woodworker turns an ugly, lumpy, deformed chunk of wood into something that Daenerys Targaryen would be proud to hatch. And if you don’t want to watch the entire video, here’s a before and after:
If that isn’t enough to get your geek on, check out what happens when you bond three different types of wood together in a cube pattern and turn it into a bowl:
That 3D illusion not only blew our minds, it really made us want to see a Q*bert level designed in its honor. But just when you think you’ve found the most complex wood turning video, someone pops up with a freaking Death Star, because the world is a wonderful place and we’re happy to be a part of it:
Even if you’re an avid gardener, you have to admit that plants aren’t exactly the most exciting things to watch. Hell, recording them on time lapse still takes days or weeks to see any activity. That is, unless you’re watering a dinosaur plant.
That monstrosity above is a desert plant that can go years without water. While dormant, it closes in on itself and takes on the appearance of stone, using the wind to roll around like a tumbleweed in search of a puddle. But put it in a dish of water, and it opens up in about three hours, fully refreshed and ready to creep out all the other plants with its apparent zombiism.
It’s not just weird plants that cause us to geek out, though. If you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Netflix and sighing, consider looking up Big Dreams Small Spaces. It’s an oddly addictive show where celebrity gardener Monty Don helps people transform their tiny yards into spaces that look straight out of a Better Homes and Gardens cover.
Yes, we said “celebrity gardener.” Stop laughing -- it’s a whole thing in England. Here’s 15 minutes of him being swarmed by fans:
Now, obviously, we can embed a bunch of videos from the TV series, but trust us, this is a show that you’ll find yourself watching at 2:00am and saying, “OK, just one more before bed. I’m serious this time.” Two hours later, you’ll be drawing up plans for next spring. By sunup ... well, maybe stay away from Amazon.
DIY Aquarium Equipment
We know your eyes glazed over the second you read this entry’s title, and to be honest, we don’t blame you. On the surface, aquarium equipment is about as exciting as ... well, aquarium equipment. In fact, before diving into the subject, we thought the full extent of that list would be: tank, water, fish. But as it turns out, aquariums need a lot more than that, and it can get really expensive, really fast.
When we first looked into basic DIY filters, we were interested, but in a “huh, that’s neat” sort of way. In this video, YouTuber “The king of DIY” shows you how to make them out of a cheap water pump, a plastic bottle, a sponge, and a handful of lava rocks. But it wasn’t until we looked into homemade sumps that we noticed it goes full geek.
A sump is basically just a storage area for water (often times, waste water). What makes them interesting is that you can use some homemade engineering to turn them into complex filters. This video shows how to make a simple “trickle tower” filter out of a 5-gallon bucket. This next one, however, shows way more of a “geek mode” version that forces the water to flow through specific chambers in order to clean the literal crap out of it:
The way most of them work is by pulling dirty water out of the tank and directing it through a mechanical filter which removes ... what’s a nice way to say “fish turds?” Since the walls of the sump are staggered, it forces the water to flow through another chamber that’s filled with “biological media,” which provides a home for beneficial bacteria. Those break down things like ammonia and nitrites. The water is then forced to pass through chemical media like charcoal, which removes toxins. The whole thing is customizable, but the basic principle looks like this:
Now before you think this is some fringe hobbyist thing, you should know that this isn’t some small following. The king of DIY has over a million subscribers, Aquarium Co-Op has over a quarter of a million, and Pondguru has over 100K. All three consistently see people commenting that they don’t even own aquariums. They just love seeing how this stuff works.
Once you get into the DIY aspect, you can easily find yourself down a YouTube rabbit hole, learning how to make LED canopy lights from PVC pipe, rain gutters, and simple LED strips, or CO2 injectors out of water bottles, baking soda, and citric acid. Yes, even if you don’t own an aquarium.
Making Common Foods From Scratch
If you’re not a fan of The Great British Bake Off (or, The Great British Baking Show in America), the following phrase will sound like the wailing gibberish of a madman: Watching Paul Hollywood knead dough is mesmerizing. It sounds silly if you’ve never seen the show, but A) that’s his real name, and B) he’s a master at his craft.
One of the reasons we bring him up is because he’s a huge advocate for people trying their hand at baking from scratch. He suggests mastering a single loaf of bread in order to get the technique down, and then move on from there. When you start looking at the basic ingredients of dough-based food, you understand why: It’s mostly flour, water, salt, and yeast. Those are your basic building blocks, and with variations on other ingredients and measurements, you’re only one step away from other awesome foods like doughnuts:
Once your geek sets in, you’ll find yourself thinking, “Wait, so pizza dough is basically just flat bread, right?” So you pull up YouTube, and sure enough:
Before you know it, you’re in Wonderland, looking up everything you can possibly make from scratch. For instance, did you know that with simple cream and a mixer, you can make your own butter in just a few minutes?
That’s definitely the first time we’ve been that excited about bread and butter, but there’s something so awesome about making things like that with your own hands. There are high-end restaurants that don’t go that far, but you totally can.
Watching Non-Americans Try American Stuff
This may be the weirdest thing we’ve ever geeked out on, and we’re not even close to sorry about it. Have you ever had a friend visit from a different state or country, and you stumble across something they’ve never seen before? Like maybe a brand of candy that’s only sold in the South, or a regional specialty beer that’s brewed with coconut and turnips? You have to make them try it, and their reactions, good or bad, are always priceless. The genre of videos we’re talking about are exactly that, except with things that are super common in America. For instance, watching Irish people try our soda is like watching them drink embalming fluid (WARNING: There’s some NSFW language in these videos):
If it was just that one video, it would be mildly funny and interesting, and we’d leave it at that. What actually happens, though, is you glance over at the suggested videos and see the word “Pringles,” and your brain convinces you that knowing what these people think of Pringles is so important to you that it becomes a bucket list item. And before you know it, you’re watching them shoot 190 proof booze. Which is something that Americans only do on a dare.
Our favorite, though, is watching Korean girls try American snacks, because there is nothing funnier than people being confused by Pop Tarts. Several of them are actually afraid to try Twizzlers:
The one drawback to these videos is that we can’t warn them when they’re about to try something that not even we like. The second you see someone pick up a doughnut burger, your whole brain seizes up because you can’t make them hear you yelling, “THAT WAS A GODDAMN MARKETING PLOY! NO ONE EATS THOSE HERE! DOUSE IT IN THE 190 PROOF BOOZE THE IRISH PEOPLE WERE DRINKING THEN SET IT ON FIRE AND RUN!”
Yet, still we click on the videos, because watching other people taste test our insanity is hilarious.
Like this article? Check out “5 Fun, Easy Science Projects To Do With The Kids This Summer” and “5 Board Games That Tackled Serious Real World Issues”.
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