Tuesday, September 06, 2016

What am I listening to?

When I run, I usually have my ear buds in, except for when running on trails. Trails deserve their full attention, not just because I don't want another face plant, but also because having all senses absorbed in the act of running in a beautiful environment is a wonderful gift. I want to appreciate it fully. When on the road, I listen to podcasts. Sometimes, I will listen to audio books. But, if there are a lot of characters or too intricate of a plot, it's easy on a long run to miss a lot of the story. When I have studied for promotional exams, I have listened to one audio book on the test bibliography so many time that I felt like I was going to throw up on my running shoes.

So what are the podcasts I listen to?

 Lately, my favorite has been Real Time with Bill Maher. This is nothing but the audio of his HBO show. There are also a few bonuses. You get some of the jokes he was testing out before the show and also an extended conversation with his guests. Bill and my political beliefs jibe well. However, there are some things that we don't agree on. And some of the points he has made have made me change my mind on some things. He is certainly a Liberal but he also attacks Liberals on things they should be attacked on. He treats his Conservative guests and panel members pretty well and lets them have their say. You get the feeling that he and Rick Santorum have a couple of beers after the show - a show where he showed no mercy to Mr. Santorum's beliefs. Sometimes, I laugh while running. Other times I get a little miffed at Bill for missing a key attack point he could be using.

Futility Closet is candy for the mind. It consists of a husband and wife team who recount quirky historical tales. They do some debunking but mostly they just tell the stories. The second half of the show is a lateral thinking puzzle. When I know the puzzle's answer and they are having a hard time figuring it out, I will say the answer out loud. If someone is passing by on a bicycle and they hear me scream, "Because she was dead from the beginning!" I might get a funny look. Most of the time the puzzle is solved before I can get the right answer.

The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim is famous for his The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body books. The guests are people who have excelled at what they do. Four star generals, comedians, writers, athletes, etc. Tim asks great questions and gets them to share some of their "hacks." Mostly, I like listening to their philosophies and stories. I only listen to the shows that I think will be interesting to me. Tim is really into the stoics. I am too, but I've read as much Seneca and Marcus Aurelius as I think is necessary and when Tim is reading from their books I usually skip those. Likewise, some of the athletes I don't listen to.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin is pretty good. He takes a look at contemporary political issues. Not really a Left vs. Right show. Dan looks behind the current problem and has a great historical perspective. I like his voice and there is a little self-deprecating humor. In other words, he kind of comes in sideways on an issue and attacks it from there. Those of you who know me can probably guess I feel a kindred spirit in this endeavor.

Hard Core History with Dan Carlin. Imagine a six-part podcast about World War One. Taken all together it's, I don't know, 20 hours long and you don't want to stop running because you want to hear what happens next. Mr. Carlin researches the crap out of a myriad of historical subjects and then tells you what he learned. Again,a great voice. The only downside it it can be months between episodes. So, you can forget some of the groundwork that was laid down from the last episode. Your best bet is to wait until he is completely done with a subject and then listen to all the episodes. A great place to start is Wrath of the Khans, a history of the rise and fall on the Mongol Empire. So good.

Trail Runner Nation. I like this podcast. The comradery of the two hosts is fun and they have great guests on from every aspect of ultra running. After a while though, there's only so much you can say about running. And there's only so much you can listen to while running. Their opening credits features the sound of someone running toward you on gravel. This has frightened me when I have been out of it.

You Are Not So Smart takes a look at why we think the way we think, including some of the fallacies involved. The host  David McRaney is currently writing a book on how people change their minds. If you are into logic and philosophy you will really like this show. The conclusion of each show is a reading of a cookie recipe sent in by a listener whereupon the host eats said cookie.

 Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History reminds me a little of You Are Not So Smart. However, Mr. Gladwell has more of a personal relationship with the subject matter and is more of a storyteller I think.

 On Being with Krista Tippett has been rapidly moving up my charts. It's a show about spirituality and thought. From atheists to full-blown deists, she has guests that really make you thing about how to live your life.

In case it's not obvious, I love hearing people tell stories. These stories can be about their lives or someone else's. Hear are a few more that I occasionally listen to. HOME: Stories From L.A., Stuff You Should Know, TEDTalks, TED Radio Hour, Serial, The Moth, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, Star Ship Sofa, Cool Tools, Marc Maron's WTF, The David Feldman Show. 

There have been a lot pf podcasts that I used to listen to and have fallen by the wayside. Marc Marons' WTF is one I still listen to but less and less. I was a Maron listener back when he was on Air America and not very successful. He started doing a podcast (I was there for the beginning of that too) out of his garage and wow! He has done so well, that he just concluded his third season of a TV show - Maron.  He interviewed Obama in his garage. I used to listen to a podcast where the hosts took apart every episode of Star Trek. I get hooked on stuff like this for a while especially if I am training for a really long race.

How do I keep those earbuds in my ears. I use earhoox for earpods. They're little doodads you add to your preexisting IPhone earbuds.

Some of these shows are dependent upon donations to keep running. Every time I have donated, I've received a very nice personal email. Sometimes, I get a thank you note in the mail. After a while, after so much time and so many miles, you feel like you have some kind of relationship with the host of the podcast, and it's nice to know they are nice people!

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