Tag Archives: reading

punk guitar

Weekly picks March 23-29

Here’s what I’m reading and listening to this past week:


Not Telling, by Alice Mattison

I wish I could say I am writing 2,000 words per day on my first novel while I’m between work assignments, but I’m not yet in that habit. Instead, I’m reading about writing and calling it creative procrastination. Truth is, if I ever am writing something big, I will probably tell no one until it’s done, not even my partner. That’s why I was pleased to come across this article about writing as a private activity: “I secretly do research, buy books and never say why, and don’t ask for information I need unless I can disguise the reason. I once went to an exhibit in a nearby city about trolley cars (I was writing a novel about them) and never told my husband I had left town that day. It is like having an affair.”

N.B. I read the New York Times a lot . So much so that I usually use up my ten free article per month. It’s probably worth subscribing. After all, I would love to get paid for writing, which means someone has to buy it, right?

I (re)learned one thing from writing 212 blog posts in 2014, by Jonathan Anthony

I saw Anthony @ThisMuchWeKnow speak at a holiday IABC event last December, and was mightily impressed. I’ve been devouring all This Much We Know posts I missed, mainly because from December – end of February I neglected my personal projects (including this site), to my own detriment. As this post concludes: “Here’s to more messing around and showing up in 2015.”

Moral Disorder, by Margaret Atwood

An actual, physical book, that I signed out physically from the public library. Don’t that beat all?  When I wandered into the central branch (AKA “Caprica City Hall” ) last week, I didn’t find any of the books actually on my list, so I put a couple of holds and went with a previously unread book by a reliable standby author. My motto is: there are so many good books I haven’t read, I don’t waste time on something that doesn’t grab me. Atwood always grabs me.


Reply All

On the recommendation of one of the other podcasts I listen to regularly, I’m catching up on Reply All, a new podcast about the internet, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. I’ve listened to the first four episodes and I’m a fan.

Los Frikis, Radiolab

punk guitarThis is an episode I would have expected from This American Life, as it is somewhat of a departure for RadioLab. I won’t give it all away, because it’s a compelling story that unfolds as you listen, but I will say it’s about the punk movement in Cuba (“frikis” is pronounced like the English”freakies”) and you should go listen to it right away.

The Journey Within, The Dirtbag Diaries

I hold onto my days spent climbing cliffs outdoors via the occasional DirtBag Diaries podcast. In this episode, Chris Kalman, a true “dirtbag,” who lives simply in order to climb more, faces a difficult choice after he commits to going to Patagonia on the climbing trip of a lifetime.

It occurs to me, after the post where I interviewed some friends about their sports injuries requiring surgery, that I could make some of my posts into podcasts. After all, Ken has a great mic around here that he uses in his teaching, and I did start out my communications career as a broadcaster …


Weekly picks March 15-21

I read a lot and I listen to a lot of podcasts. Here’s an annotated selection of what has caught my attention lately:


RadioLab – La Mancha Screwjob

One of my favourite podcasts, Radiolab manages sometimes to draw connections between things that you would think are utterly unrelated to each other. This episode connects the world of pro wrestling (which I have always thought of as soap opera for the hyper-masculinized) and Don Quixote by Cervantes (the tilting-at-windmills adventure which has always fascinated me).

Turns out (and it’s obvious when you think about it) they’re both meta-narratives, where the spectator is drawn into the story with a nudge and a wink, where to question the authenticity and veracity of the story is to ruin the experience. The question isn’t “Is this for real?” The question is “How can I, as an observer, fully engage in this wonderful, crazy journey?”

Caustic Soda – Turtles

I’m giving away my unorthodox sense of humour by outing myself as a Caustic Soda fan! This podcast is not prime-time listening. No topic is too gruesome, horrible, or cringe-inducing for these guys, but they’re also pretty funny and, more importantly, science-based. They do their research.

I’m a late convert to this 6-years-running podcast. I started listening after I met co-host Joe Fulgham at a Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub event a year or so ago. When I saw him again at the monthly downtown Vancouver SiTP last week, he said he was surprised there was enough grossness for a CS episode on turtles (I wasn’t!). Which got into a whole ‘nother string of grody animal husbandry anecdotes from people there. A good time was had by all.

Star Talk Radio – Star Talk Live! Evolution with Richard Dawkins Part 1

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of my favourite people, and this is one of my favourite podcasts. I include this show because I found out that Richard Dawkins is married to a former actress who was a Doctor Who companion, who actually ended up married her Doctor (Tom Baker) for a time. She was introduced to Dawkins by their mutual friend Douglas Adams. That is actually more impressive to me than Sir Richard himself. Mind. Blown.


New York Times – The Heartstopping Climbs of Alex Honnold, by Daniel Duane

I used to be a rock climber, but Honnold is in a staggeringly unique league of his own. He climbs free-solo (without ropes or protection) big, difficult walls that take others days to scale. I’m always intensely interested in free-solo climbers; mostly I wonder if there are any former such climbers who didn’t fall to their deaths. Maybe Honnold will be one of the few …

The Atlantic – What ISIS Really Wants, by Graeme Wood

When is a terrorist group more than a terrorist group? When it is motivated by religion rather than politics or thrill-seeking, and world governments would do well to study those motivations closely. “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” My Political Science/Sociology background and interest in current events has not waned over the years.

Frank SidebottomFrank, by Jon Ronson

This short e-book is only CDN$2.99 on Amazon. It’s the true story of Frank Sidebottom, the strangest musical group you’d ever want to see, fictionalized to the nth degree for the 2014 movie starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender, and Domhnall Gleeson (as the Ronson-ish character).

And finally:

Using Trello for your Personal Productivity System

I’m trying out the Kanban productivity system, using Trello, while I’m between work assignments. So far I’m impressed – I love the visual aspect of it. Blog post to come later, when I’ve had more time to play around and evaluate.

Image of Frank Sidebottom by James, used under Creative Commons License.