Why I Think You Should Know Something About Pinball


So, this morning, we went for a hike, had lunch with some wonderful folks, and as I went to shake hands to say goodbye in the restaurant parking lot, Dan grabbed my hand, and said, “You’re coming with us, we’re going to the asylum.” Of course, I was thrilled that there was more to do with people whose company I enjoy, so we drove off to an undisclosed location where there’s a bazillion pinball machines, some set up, some in staging for repair. Dan spent about an hour or so, going over the ones in need of repair with me, and demonstrating an in-depth knowledge about the world of pinball machines that I’ve never even considered before. They even have a machine from like 1936 or 1937, that is an example of where the name ‘pinball’ comes from: pins driven into an angled board that the ball would bounce around in. It was by far, the coolest of the machines, to me, just for the historical significance.

Now, I don’t have any hobbies I’m nearly as passionate about, as Dan is with his. He’s like an Encyclopedia of knowledge on the subject, and at the same time, he’s like a little kid with a certain joy you don’t see too often in grown men. Finding something you love doing and having the wherewithal to pursue it looks like a pretty good place to be in life. To me, I can’t even imagine having the amount of space to store that many machines, let alone have a room set up with machines to play. It’s truly a special place, unlike any other I know of.

Now, here’s why I decided to write about this. Like I mentioned, we spent a good hour looking over all of the machines that needed repairs, while Dan informed me on all of the little nuances about how they are designed, the artistry that goes into them, and so on. (He even tells me that he is in the beginning stage of crafting one of his own design, which is something I think would be awesome.) It looks to me like an incredible amount of labour. It’s not something I have ever devoted that much effort to toward any of my own hobbies, that I can think of. But he and his partner, out of a love for their hobby have spent untold hours buying and fixing these things up. To me, it’s just a confusing jumble of wires and motors and plungers, and whatever is going on, but it just sort of blows me away that they are focused on this enough, that they even begin to dream about tackling all of this, in the first place. I don’t think I have that kind of foresight in me.

So, here’s the important part. The reason they fix up a lot of these machines, is they put them in places like cancer wards for children. Mull that over for a second. They restore these machines, and maintain them so little kids in hospitals can have something to take their mind away from being in a hospital with a potentially terminal illness they are trying to beat. That’s pretty hard core. That’s what the focus of the charity they started up is all about.

So, I don’t know anything about a lot of things, but that’s something I’d like you to know about, if you happen by my rambling words. If you live in the area, and are interested or know something about fixing up pinball machines, you should definitely find out more. Here’s where you do that: http://www.projectpinball.org/


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