Category: Doodads

I have become a podcast devotee

I don’t even remember how this all got started, to be honest. For a long time I’ve thought I should try out listening to podcasts. However, I’ve always been reticent, since: a) I didn’t really know where to start, and b) I’ve never been great at absorbing info through my ears (audiobooks and the like).

Anyway, somewhere I saw/heard/read about How Stuff Works‘ group of podcasts. I’ve been aware of the site for ages, and had dropped in from time to time. You can see the full list of podcasts on their blogs page (cuz that makes sense) in the lower right sidebar.

Being a history buff, I started with Stuff You Missed in History Class, the archive of which I downloaded from iTunes. (They’re all free, just fyi.)

Since then I’ve also gone through the Stuff You Should Know (general interest), Stuff Mom Never Told You (women’s and gender-related topics), and Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know (conspiracy theories – on video) archives, and am nearly the end of the Brain Stuff (general interest – often scientific or technical and much shorter than the others) archive.

The podcasts range from a minute (the early Brain Stuff ones) to over half an hour. I probably started listening nearly six months ago, and have gone through a lot of podcasts. Hundreds. That said, I also haven’t listened to the radio or my iPod in that time period, either. They make for great accompaniment to getting ready for work, running training, doing dishes, etc. And hey, my storehouse of useless knowledge grows by the day. 🙂

Not all topics are of equal interest, and while I haven’t skipped any, it’s certainly easy to do so if you’re not into the topic. One thing that’s a bit unusual and distracting at first is that these podcasters are not “vocal talent”. They’re actual How Stuff Works employees (and, in the case of Brain Stuff, the founder) and the same people you’ll interact on in the blog comments or on Twitter or Facebook.

On every podcast I’ve listened to so far, at least one of the presenters has a mild speech impediment. I didn’t really expect that. Slight lisp, “thick tongue”, or what sounds like just a permanent bad case of hayfever — you get used to it over time. The intermittent southern accents are fun, too. (How Stuff Works is based out of Atlanta.)

I’ve managed to get Andrew hooked, too, and have enjoyed being filled in on historical tidbits I’ve already learned on more than one occasion. 🙂 In any case, should your music library or trivia knowledge be feeling a little stale, I highly recommend heading over to iTunes and loading up. Mmm… useless facts…

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a grey-haired man with a mullethawk* riding a bike across an intersection in front of my car, with a very old printer lashed to the handlebars with several strings of Christmas lights.

* Sides of his head shaved, medium length hair on top, and long at the back.

What’s in your basket?

Recently Andrew installed a clothesline in his backyard, and last weekend I took advantage of his environmental friendliness, the sunshine, and the breeze to hang out some towels and bedding.

Now, I’ve hung out many a load of laundry in my time (my parents have two washlines at their place), but I had a helluva time doing it right at Andrew’s. It’s attached a bit high for me, and the height isn’t adjustable like the ones I’m used to. But that wasn’t really it. Then it occurred to me why — I was working backwards.

For so many years I’ve hung laundry in the same place, in the same direction, in the same way… It’s all muscle memory at this point. But at Andrew’s I was facing the opposite direction, and using the wrong hands to perform the wrong tasks. Surprisingly awkward, and a weird feeling of incompetence doing something that, as noted, I’ve done a million times.

Equally interesting was when Andrew starting using the line the first time — hanging laundry out had never been one of his chores as a kid — so I offered my advice on usinge spacers, how to best hang shirts, etc. I thought it was adorable that he was excited about using the line, but didn’t quite know how to do it most efficiently. (That said, if anyone can overthink getting something done, it’s him.) 🙂

A couple of women I mentioned it to thought it was adorable, too. Like me, they’ve spent many years on laundry duty, to the point where one mostly just zones out and hangs, pins, pushes line out… hangs, pins, pushes line out…

I love moments like that when things that have become so familiar you’ve forgotten them get refreshed and brought to the forefront of your mind and provide you with all kinds of new things to think about. Kind of the reverse of saying a word over and over til it loses meaning.

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a middle-aged man in a yellow wind suit, standing on the sidewalk, politely listening to the spiel from a cute, 20-something Greenpeace volunteer, whilst cradling a 26er of cheap rye behind his back.

(For those of you not Canadian or rural in origins, a 26er is a 26oz bottle of liquor — often called a fifth in the US — and rye is a type of whiskey made partially from rye grain, with many of the better known brands made by Canadian distillers.)

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a middle-aged man walking down the sidewalk toward me, utterly nondescipt except for the fact that his small, frameless tinted glasses made it look like he had empty, black pits instead of eyes.

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a middle-aged woman in a blue Hyundai, pulling up to a stop light, with her car’s spinner rims gleaming in the sun. This is also not a picture of the acute embarrassment I felt on her behalf.