Tangent: Podcasts for Suburban Walks
The past month or so I’ve been taking long walks over the weekend. I try to get in the neighborhood of ten miles. I always start from my house. Most times I do a circuit, but sometimes to expand my range I walk to a destination 10-ish miles away and have my spouse pick me up in the car.
The first time I hiked on the trails to a waterfall in one of the nearby canyons. Then I started having dreams about rattlesnakes, so I decided to set the nature hikes aside until rattlesnake season passes or, since apparently every season is rattlesnake season in San Diego, until I forget about them again.
Since then, I’ve kept it suburban.
I’ve walked to the library and on to a farmers market, then risked my life discovering firsthand the reason for the GoogleMaps disclaimer that the route may not always reflect real-world conditions. I’ve walked to Costco and met my spouse waiting in line for gas. I’ve walked a big loop across another canyon, to Target to buy icing spatulas, and then to a different library. Most recently I walked to a farmers market ten miles away where I met my family and bought local passion fruit.
No matter my route or destination, I get about three hours by myself to think, take in the suburban sights, breathe in car exhaust, and listen to podcasts.
Here are some of the highlights from my auditory explorations:
- Being Sincere in a Cynical World, from To the Best of Our Knowledge. This show explores the reasons for and costs of cynicism and the value of vulnerability. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and that I addressed in part in my tangent about duplicity. The third story, “Can You Change the Mind of a White Supremacist” was my favorite. If you listen to only one story from that episode, I recommend that one.
- Loving Bees, also from To the Best of Our Knowledge. This one is all about the importance of bees—especially local bees—to our ecosystem and most notably to human food supplies. My can’t-miss from that episode was “Rebuilding Detroit, Hive by Hive” about a couple who turn a vacant lots into bee sanctuaries. We have family near Detroit, and I’m scheming to visit Detroit Hives next time we’re in the area.
- Word Watch and Word Watch, the Sequel, from Code Switch. These episodes explore the racist origins of common words and expressions.
- Talk American, also from Code Switch. This one deals with the information we assume about a person based on their accent and explores the origins of the non-accent that’s become the standard for network news in the United States. (Spoiler: it started in Cleveland.)
- “Blockchain all the things. Or don’t.” and “Bitcoin IRL,” from Make Me Smart. I can’t actually decide if I love these or hate these. After listening to these episodes, I understand blockchains and Bitcoin about as well as I understand futures trading now, which means they’ve taken my understanding from abject confusion to only partial confusion, which is positive. I think.
- On Homeschooling Culture & Rethinking School, from Brave Writer Podcast. There’s not much that’s brand new to me in the homeschool world, but this interview with Susan Wise Bauer got me thinking. Of particular interest to me is Bauer’s observation that the homeschoolers in the classes she teaches at William and Mary College are overall ill-equipped to defend their arguments. Since listening, I’ve been thinking my approach to logic and argument with my own children. Critical thinking is, in my opinion, possibly the most important skill I can foster in my children. We tend to be a skeptical family, and intellectual argument is our native tongue, but a little more formal preparation—and more intentional interaction with those with differing viewpoints—is probably in order.
That’s some of what’s been filling my ears these past several weekends. If you listen to any of these or if you have any favorites of your own, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts!