Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation

I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning today, teaching myself something called “normal baking” in the computer modeling program Blender. I did it because I had nothing else pressing to do, I was too wound up to sleep, and too tired to do anything really productive.

I wouldn’t say it was boring, but since “work” usually means reading and writing, the chance to spend hours manipulating 3D vectors and working with colors, angles, layers, and space was relaxing. I learned something new, and now I have a new level of appreciation for the creative work done by CGI artists in games and films.

After an enjoyable Christmas break full of family time (which included watching my 12yo son and 8yo daughter complete Portal, losing a game of Monopoly to my daughter without going easy on her in the slightest, and a visit from my parents), tomorrow I’m going to start back at work again. Of course even when classes aren’t in session there are long-term projects I should be working on, and I have been doing some reading, reviewed a book proposal, finished the schedule for one of my courses, entered dozens of meetings into my calendar, etc.

As the spring semester approaches, I will have more and more of those little jobs that can and do fill up all the available time. I’m never bored, but during this holiday, I really appreciated minutiae. Yes, this morning, I spent an hour with Blender3D, tweaking the brass flashing on the gauges on a control panel in the bridge of a steampunk spacecraft. There was no point to it, other than that the brass flashing wasn’t reflecting the light properly. Boy, did it feel good when I got it looking right.

I wouldn’t call it boring, but maybe that’s because I’ve been trained to think of “boring” as bad. Plenty of people get excited by things I consider boring, but the disinterest of the general public leaves the enthusiasts the opportunity to cultivate expertise, which can be its own reward.

Boring 2010 is the handiwork of James Ward, 29 years old, who works
for a DVD distribution and production company. In his other life, as the
envoy of ennui, Mr. Ward edits a blog called “I Like Boring Things.” He
is also co-founder of the Stationery Club, whose 45 members meet
occasionally to discuss pens, paper clips and Post-it Notes.

For another of his projects, Mr. Ward over the past 18 months has
visited 160 London convenience stores and made careful notes about a
popular chocolate bar called Twirl, including the product’s
availability, price and storage conditions. He publishes the details
online. –Wall Street Journal