Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Mar 28

What I Want From My Podcasts

Podcast listening has taken over my life. I mean, okay. Not literally. But I’ve more than doubled the number of podcasts that I subscribe to in recent weeks, and not all of the new additions were hits. A podcast has to hit all the right spots to be a hit with me

The Host

A good podcast host needs to embody several qualities:

  • Have a pleasing voice
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Guide the show along and keep pace

Rarely will I tune into a podcast more than once if I don’t enjoy the host’s voice and pretty much never at all if the host is distracted or unable to shape to lead the episode with the proper guidance.

Production Values

I don’t need intros and outros. Simpler is better. But sound production needs to be up to par. Sync up volume between the host and guest, for example, so the show doesn’t suddenly become louder or quieter when the person who is talking switches.

Time Block

For the life of me, I cannot understand why any podcast is over an hour long. Even when listening on double speed, this is painfully long. Furthermore, a few shows seem to be pretty inconsistent in terms of length. While one show may be only 30 minutes, another may be well over an hour. Not cool, guys. (Yes, I’m talking ’bout Planetary Radio).

Guests

Lexicon Valley hasn’t had many guests since the host switch in summer, and the quality has surely declined. It’s nearly unbearable to listen to the same single person speak week after week. If the podcast has multiples hosts, it’s easier to swallow, but I like guests.

I don’t have any hard and fast preferences regarding guests. Celebrities might be a perk (I enjoyed Aziz Ansari and Trevor Noah on Freakonomics, for example), but they’re not necessary. The guest simply needs to be interesting enough — and the host needs to make that apparent — if it’s an episode about the guest, or the guest needs to have authority and knowledge on the subject that the episode is on.

This brings me to my final point.

Education

Save for a single podcast (We Paid to See This), all of my subscriptions exist to teach me something about the world or, perhaps, myself. I want to learn. There’s an endless array of podcasts out there if you want to laugh, cry, listen to stories or simply be amused. And while I enjoy the water cooler talk of some podcasts, what I want is to talk away smarter.

So while some podcasts are fun and funny, they’re just not my thing. And I’m not their intended audience.

That’s why I’ve loved Freakonomics for over a year (in fact, I like the podcast better than the books!), subscribe to Lexicon Valley, listen to space policy episodes of Planetary Radio and tune in to Sex Out Loud.

Most of those podcasts manage to check off all the boxes, but none of them miss more than one (at least not consistently).

Oh! If you think you can recommend a podcast that I’d like based on this post, let me know in the comments!


Oct 08

4AM Thoughts About Life

Life is just, like, this thing. Fleeting and fragile. Terrible and ridiculous and better than you could ever imagine.

And you get no say in whether you have to deal with life, what you get dealt or when it’s going to end.

It’s just so overwhelming ,you know?

But life, I don’t know, man. We’re here and it seems like the only logical way to deal with it is to enjoy the fuck out of it.

If you don’t, I’m not sure I can consider you sane. That’s not politically correct, but it would be crazy to be anything other than happy when it takes just as much effort to be miserable.

Maybe I’ll change my mind when I’m dealt another bad card or have to deal with a struggle I didn’t see coming, but for now, I’m just going to live life.


Jun 14

Thoughts I’ve Had About the Mass Shooting in Orlando

This is kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing. I might stumble with words and thoughts that aren’t as clear or supportive as I’d like. It is not my intent to talk over any victims, their families or members, and I will continue to share their words via social media. But it’s impossible not to have thoughts, and I just wanted to get them all down.

50 people is the largest mass shooting the country has ever seen? C’mon, this is America. Surely, we’ve had worse than that.. which led to: I can’t believe how desensitized I am to violence like this as an American.

I am so relieved this was far away, that it doesn’t personally affect me, that I am not the target demographic for violence like this. I am reassured by my privilege. In the same token, I feel guilt at feeling these things, and I can only wonder how long it will be until those things are no longer true. The next bombing, shooting, hate crime or act of terrorism could hit much closer to home. And it’s awful even if I am not personally affected.

I can’t believe people are trying to erase the significance of it being a gay nightclub. This stuff matters. How can it not?

I also cannot believe that people will just paint him as a Muslim connected to any group. He was clearly mentally unstable, and professed his allegiance to multiple, mutually exclusive groups.

I do not want people to focus on that fact that the gunman was potentially closeted gay or bisexual because it minimizes the fact that most violence is done to the LGBT community by members of the straight community. But it’s clear he did have a preoccupation with the LGBT community.

And how can people say it’s not time to argue about gun control? Not only is it always time to argue for some sort of stricter regulation on firearms, but it makes sense to do it after a heinous crime is committed with a gun. In fact, I don’t understand any of the pro-gun rhetoric that’s being used right now.

I find it especially funny that people who say the gov can’t infringe on their second amendment rights even if it would deter some criminals and terrorists, which it would, are the same who say that men who have sex with men (and women who have sex with men who have sex with men) cannot donate blood. If you argue that the rights of the majority outweigh the risks of the minority, you cannot take both stances. Sorry.

Everyone has a theory how it could have been prevented or the violence lessened — never mind that there was an armed, off-duty police officer who fired at the shooter.. and he was overtaken and killed.

If more guns are the solution, then we’ll have to mandate firearm training and education for everyone, including those who never intend to be gun owners. I’m not sure how since we can’t even do this uniformly for gun owners.

I have no qualms about my stance on gun control. I could live comfortably in a country where citizens weren’t allowed to have them. I know these countries exist. I also know that countries such as Australia have successfully taken almost all guns off the streets. I realize the biggest hurdle here is the American culture surrounding the second amendment, and I’m not sure how we get to where other countries are from where we currently are. And, yes, it might mean that people are unable to protect themselves but people are going to die anyway. That’s so completely shitty but I’d rather see progress than this heel-digging-in we’ve got now.

I also understand that guns are just a tool but they’re a tool created specifically for destruction, even if that destruction is necessary or condoned. This one of the reasons why comparing guns to cars re: regulation is an imperfect analogy, but cars were not intended to do violence. They just happen to be capable of it, especially when used incorrectly.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. That some people were able to call or text their loved ones even moments before their deaths is amazing. But to be on the receiving end of those calls? I can’t even imagine.

I am incredibly humbled and touched by the reports about the victims, their lives and the hole their deaths leaves in the world. From Anderson Cooper to BuzzFeed, the response has been tactful and compassionate.

It’s so difficult to process death. One moment, someone is alive and the next? Their machine has shut down. There’s a finiteness to that, which I just cannot grasp.

And, finally, I just wish I didn’t know that I would eventually come to peace with this.. until the next time.


Dec 13

7 Modern Christmas Songs I Love

River – Sarah Mclachlan

I’d only vaguely heard this song before I bought Sarah’s Christmas album. It’s melancholy but somehow not in a bad way. I don’t even know how that works. Her version of “O Little town of Bethlehem” is also worth a listen or twenty.

Gothic Christmas – Within Temptation

This song is cheesy and ridiculous, and I love every moment of it. Let’s talk about evil Santa and Rudolph (not Krampus). Let’s make everything sparkly and green

Leroy The Redneck Reindeer – Joe Diffie 

Speaking of cheesy, there’s this one that’s about 20 years old. It’s got that Christmassy feel but it’s totally got that dated 90s country sound, too. And it’s going on my iPod as I type!

Deck the Halls – SheDaisy

Slightly less redneck is SheDaisy’s version of “Deck the Halls,” which might be the only version I actually like. It sounds so grown up, and it’s crazy to think I first heard this when I was in high school!

Winter Dreams – Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas album is one of the better modern Christmas albums in my opinion. There are some classic covers, but the new songs manage to capture the feel of Christmas and the jazzy tempos match Kelly’s powerful voice so well. “Winter Dreams” could be my favorite Christmas song of all time, but “Underneath the Tree,” and “4 Carats” are excellent, too.

A Mad Russian’s Christmas – TSO

It’s all really hard for me to pick a single song by TSO that I like. I know that most people only like Christmas Eve in Sarajevo, and it’s good, but they’ve  got multiple Christmas albums! “Wizards in Winter” is a song that I keep on my iPod all year long, so I think that shows you how much I like it. But “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” ugh. It’s everything, guys!

Sufjan Stevens – Christmas In The Room

If you want coffee shop indie music, then this last track is the one for you. It’s not my favorite on this list, but it’s definitely enjoyable and festive/


Nov 12

11/11

It’s Veteran’s Day. At least it is for a few more minutes (or was, by the time I get this posted).

I know this because of the onslaught of emails telling me about sales. I also know it because many of my friends on Facebook have changed profile photos or cover photos. I know many people who have served, many of whom I met while I was married to someone who was in the military.

Veteran’s Day is also a reminder of everyone I know has served, has family members who have served or has sat at home during a long deployment while their significant other was in a war zone. There are many more of these people than I anticipated. I often forget. I’m willing to bet you have similar feelings on this day every year, that you’re surprise by how many people known to you who have connections to the military, even if you’ve never served yourself, have never lived on a base or live somewhere without a heavy military influence.

It is because of these people, most of whom I like, many of whom I respect, and a few of which I love dearly, that I cannot post this on Facebook. I would not want to take away from their posts or the support they’re receiving. In fact, as I type this, NCIS is playing in the background, and two characters are musing about the type of person who would sign up to go to a war zone. Tony says “Crazy.” Ellie says “Noble.” Perhaps this very dichotomy is what has me tripped up.

Enlisting in the military takes you away from your friends and family, even if you only leave for basic training and school. You may be stationed across the country or world from them. Deployments put you in the middle of war zones, without most of the perks of first-world living. There are rigid protocols for fitness. You can expect to be on-call for your entire military career. There are a lot of sacrifices we don’t make in the civilian world, even though there’s definitely some shared sacrifices with some jobs.

None of this negates the perks, however. Free schooling, housing and medical. Pensions after just twenty years.  The military provides many people with resources that are hard-fought or even too expensive to be considered for many people. These resources are a real motivation for people who struggle to obtain them through other means. It’s often sign-up bonuses and a stable job that appeal to people who enlist, rather than their desire to “fright for freedom” or the American way.

There’s a stability provided that might be a stark reminder of how unstable life can be for those who has signed up for the military. I recognize this. I respect this.

Still, there are some people who never deploy. There are those who have short deployments that are few and far between. Training to survive and defend is forgotten as people work desk jobs for their entire career. I’ve seen it happen. People get all the perks while dealing with little more than an inconvenience.

There are enough people in the military who don’t respect their jobs, their sacrifices and their risks that I can’t help but wonder, “Why should I?” Perhaps they’ve earned the right by being in it, something I only came within grasp of when I was married to the military. Maybe I was lucky that my loved one came home time after time, with every limb in tact. Maybe I am jaded because I had the best experience possible.

Perhaps that’s the point. We never know whose life will be stable, which deployment will be one that we return from and who will escape from their service unscathed. But there’s entirely the risk that that the risk turns into a real sacrifice, that lives will be torn asunder, irrevocably changed. I guess I can’t argue against showing a little respect for those who take that risk. It’s not fair to revoke respect simply because the worst didn’t happen. In fact, I think I feel a little grateful for those who had it “easier.”

Happy Veteran’s Day.


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