Unfortunately, I still haven't passed the test for my Yellow Belt in clever, so I'm just going to repeat my original introduction.
So, if you are a regular reader of this blog - and if you are, that doesn't say much for you; you might want to re-examine your life and stuff (Just sayin') - the next paragraph will seem oddly familiar.
To recap - The Introduction is a rerun. The recommendations are new.
Important Facts to Keep In Mind About the Swirling Maelstrom of Excitement That Is My Life:
1) I live about an hour from school.
2) Nobody else from my school lives anywhere near my house, so it's impossible to carpool to work.
3) I get so irate listening to the news and complain so much about it once I get home that my wife (again, the patientest woman in the world) grounded me from the radio about two years ago and hasn't ungrounded me yet.
4) The two hours I spend commuting each day is just about the only time I have to "read" or catch up on professional development.
As a consequence of all this, I listen to a lot of podcasts.
A LOT of podcasts. Some are school-related. Others, not-so-much.
Here is a list of what I'm listening to right now:
This is a paleontology podcast produced by an eight-year old boy in California named Aaron. It's fun and super-cute.
My seven year-old listens to it in very intense binges.
Since my son and I spend a lot of time in the car together, the value of a podcast that he wants to listen to that also doesn't make me want to chew my wrists open cannot be overstated.
This is a very low-key interview show that focuses on two or three stories per day with interesting people who are rarely famous. None of the stories they profile are interesting to everyone, but once a week or so, I find myself completely drawn into someone else's life in a really surprising way.
As an example, yesterday, I almost rode my bike into a tree while I was listening to a radio producer talk about the corner grocery store in the neighborhood she grew up in in Washington DC. The follow-up - a foreman for a company that builds wooden roof-top water tanks in Manhattan, talking about why he has a great job - almost finished me off.
Backstory, With the American History Guys
Three American History professors dive deeply into a topic in American History and look at it from the perspective of the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. I like unashamed History Nerds.
(Last week's show on the history of Americans' body image was really, really fascinating.)
I'm a runner.
Well, I try to be.
Anyway, the Cliffbar company has in interesting, not too buy-our-stuff-y podcast dealing with sports nutrition that comes out once a month or so.
Current Science & Technology
We have a family membership to Boston's Museum of Science.
[By the way, can I take a moment to advocate for buying a museum membership? It will allow you to take your children - or yourself - to visit over and over again, so that you can thoroughly explore it in bite-sized chunks. In addition, many museums have reciprocal relationships with other museums, so you can get into any number of other zoos, aquariums ("aquaria?") and museums for free. (I have a friend who researches the list of reciprocal institutions and buys the cheapest membership for just this reason.)]
Anyway, this is their podcast. It's engaging and nerdy and accessible. Members of the museum staff explain their research in easy-to-understand-but-not-patronizing terms.
The Dinner Party
This is a general interest podcast with interviews of interesting people, designed around the concept of a dinner party. There is an "Ice Breaker" (really bad joke), Cocktails (a historical event and a cocktail based on it), Etiquette (an interesting celebrity answers questions about manners), etc...
Reliably interesting and engaging.
Get Fit Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips
This guy is way more motivated about his level of physical fitness than I am, but this is a very useful weekly podcast.
Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler
A very beautiful, foul-mouthed woman interviews people - mostly men - that interest her.
This is one of the podcasts that I only listen to once in a while, but when she interviews someone I'm interested in too, the conversation is riveting. Her recent episode with RuPaul was inspirational.
How to Do Everything
How to keep your kid from eating PlayDoh or carry an Olympic Torch or get a species named after you.
Jazz Inspired with Judy Carmichael
Interviews mostly - but not entirely - with musicians about the role jazz has played in their careers.
One of my favorites was a conversation with astrophysicist Neil Degrass Tyson.
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum Tenement Talks
One of my favorite museums anywhere is the Tenement Museum in Manhattan's Lower East Side. (By the way, they have the best museum bookstore I've ever been in.) The museum features lectures every once in a while and posts them on their website.
My favorite deals with the history of Jewish Immigrants during Prohibition, called, "Jews and Booze"
The Memory Palace
I just discovered this podcast a week or two ago and went on a listening binge. I listened to all the episodes, pretty much in one sitting.
Awesome short stories about odd or poetic or haunting events in American History.
Personal stories told live onstage without notes.
Never less than great.
Geeky fanboys interview geeky celebrities that want to know better.
This is another one that I don't listen to all the time, but when they talk to somebody I'm interested in, I'm completely and utterly hooked.
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me
A weekly comedy quiz show about the week's news headlines.
Exactly my sense of humor.
NPR Topics: Food
The best food stories of the week from National Public Radio.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Smart, self-deprecating people talking about reality television, comic books and chickflicks.
Slate's Culture Gabfest
Even smarter, slightly stuffier people discussing popular culture.
This podcast is part of an ongoing oral history project where ordinary Americans share stories with family and friends.
What was it like to live in the South under Jim Crow?
Or in Harlem during the Depression?
Or to hang out in a small, southern general store?
Or to lose loved ones on 9-11?
In terms of classroom usefulness, I've gotten more from this podcast than any other. I've used these stories in my lessons and even had students interview family members and make their own StoryCorps-style recordings.
The Nutrition Diva
I'm not sure I'm quite as concerned about my diet as Monica Reinagel - the nutritionist who puts out this podcast - would like me to be.
Slate's Lexicon Valley
Two veteran radio guys - one of whom is extremely grumpy - explore speech and language issues in obsessive, minute detail.
I like listening to people even more persnickety than me discuss this kind of thing.
The Splendid Table
Food writer Lynn Rossetto Kasper interviews important people in the food world and answers listener questions.
This is sort of the CarTalk of Food.
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson works to demystify astronomy and space travel.
Two food enthusiast with strong - even obsessive - opinions about sandwiches and wedding buffet line strategy dive deeply into topics that I used to think only I cared about.
The Story Collider
More personal stories performed onstage without notes; these ones are about science.
(I occurs to me that I listen to a lot of science shows for someone who doesn't teach Science.)
This American Life
I was going to try to explain This American Life, but I'm pretty sure you've heard of it.
A Way with Words
Two more language experts answer listener questions about grammar and usage.
Very, very nerdy and satisfying.
This may be my very favorite podcast. It's sort-of like This American Life for science nerds.
If you listen to one episode, you will discuss it intently at dinner.
This podcast doesn't come out as often as I'd like. Each episode is a story about interesting architecture or design and what it says about us.
Almost nobody THINKS they would be interested in an architecture, but almost everyone who listens to 99% Invisible ends up hooked.