Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Podcast Obsession, Red Lights and Green Lights

One of my latest obsessions is listening to podcasts.  You'd think the phenomenon that is podcasts is a bit outdated given it's really nothing more than streaming talk radio, but sometimes that which is old can be reborn.

I listened to the first and second season of Serial Podcast, which was most likely the podcast that made this whole thing cool again.  But what really got me hooked was the introduction of West Wing Weekly, a podcast that recapped each episode of this iconic show from Episode 1, Season 1.  I absolutely loved this television show, and the thought of reliving it with commentary from other folks who loved the show - and appeared on the show - was like a dream come true.  It was then I begun subscribing to oodles of podcasts.

It's hard to pick my favorite, so I'll mention a couple of my recent favorites.  "What Should I Read Next" is hosted by a local gal here in Louisville, Anne Bogel.  She has guests on the show from all walks of life - many are authors - and asks them three simple questions: 1.  What are your three favorite books?  2. What is a book you hate?  3. What would you change in your reading habits today?  From those answers, Anne suggests a couple of books for the guest to read that fit their demographic.  I find this podcast fascinating!  Not only do I garner more books for my "to-read" list (like I need to expand that monster), but I learn about how to discern my tastes and choose books myself that would fall into my sweet spot. 

My other new favorite is "The Popcast."  Oh my cow, I binged listened to this one day last week and was hooked!  Jamie Golden and Knox McCoy host this weekly show all about pop culture.  I'm so #teamjamie, but I love the banter between the two of them.  And, the fact that it is an hour-long broadcast, which is long for most podcasts, doesn't bother me a bit.  In fact, I wish it was longer.  In most every episode, they list a "red light" and "green light" each.  A red light is something they are super disappointed about and a green light is the ultimate thumbs up award from these pop culture gurus.  I think I want to adopt this in real life.  Since my blog is real life, I plan on periodically calling out my Red Light and Green Light for the week.  To kick it off, I'm going to start with this post.  And I'll start with my Red Light, because I'm positive and I prefer to get that negative nonsense over with and focus on the good.

Red Light:  The Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla-Gate.  Ok, I'm pretty much over the discussion of this incident.  In case you are living under a rock, last week, a three-year old slipped into the Gorilla habitat and a 400-pound gorilla drug him around until they took the gorilla down.  The little boy was fine, and the gorilla dead.  You've got people who are upset about killing the gorilla.  Really, people!?  I love animals as much as the next person, but in the creation of the world, a child trumps a gorilla.  Nobody knows what the gorilla could do and zoo spokespeople said these gorillas can crush a coconut with one hand, so the chance of that happening to the child was a possibility.  Yes it's sad a gorilla had to be taken down.  But move on.  People on the other side of the issue want the Mom to be punished somehow.  How could she let her child get away like that?  I'm not a Mom, but I know enough (and know enough Moms) to know that keeping your eye on your child every step and breath they take is close to impossible.  I believe she had multiple children with her, so that increases the odds that one second her head is turned, off a three-year-old goes.  I also know enough three-year-olds to know they are pretty doggone independent.  I'm an only child and my Mom took her eye off me for one second in a department store and I went hiding in the clothes.  So, back off the Mom.  She's been traumatized enough.   The zoo is taking a look at more secure barriers to the habitat.  But, let's move on people.  We have a presidential election that gets us riled up enough.

Green Light:  Kroger Click-List.  A few weeks ago the Kroger grocery chain introduced Click-List online ordering and pick-up at one of our local stores.  You go online under your Kroger Account (with all that Kroger Plus card goodness) and place your order.  You can see the weekly ad for the best sales, price compare, and even add coupons to your card for further savings.  You choose a pick-up time, and then you drive to the store to pick up your groceries.  I thought this sounded too good to be true.  But it wasn't.  Yes, Virginia, it was that heavenly.  I placed my first order (free for the first three trips, then $4.95 after) on a Friday night and scheduled a pickup for Monday after work.  The cool thing was I could edit and add to my order by midnight Sunday - which I did.  I pulled up to the marked location for ClickList customers and called the number posted to let them know I had arrived.  They came out, reviewed my list while another person loaded my groceries.  I paid my bill and then off I went.  In about 10 minutes.  There were a few things out of stock, but nothing drastic.  And they even provided a substitute for one out-of-stock item for free!  When I asked them how it was being received, the associate laughed and said "we haven't had an open slot yet."  Another location was added last week and more to be added soon.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Reading, Writing and Teaching

Lately, I've been ruminating on three things - reading, writing and teaching.  It sounds like the old schoolhouse rhyme, but it's not.  It's more my thought processes on these various activities that have me in a pondering mood.

Reading.  I've been a reader from way back.  My Mom taught me to be a veracious reader at a young age, and I spent my summers checking out as many books as I could and soaking them in like water to a sponge.  In my pre-teen years, I could read as many as five books at one time.  As I got into high school, reading became more for homework than pleasure, and my desire waned.  Then came college, which also included tons of hours reading about things I was studying, not escapes into other's stories.  In 2009, I joined a book club in hopes to regain my passion for reading and it worked.  Then I went back to school and there was barely enough time to read my book for club, aside from anything else.  I've been out of school since last summer and my reading passion has grown.  I can't get enough of it.  So far I've read 12 books this year, almost halfway to my year goal of 25.  Any time I have down time, my nose wants to be in a book.  

Writing.  Last month, I celebrated my eleventh year blogging.  Wow.  That's longer than any dating relationship I've ever had and longer than most of the jobs I've held.  I've been a fierce writer cranking out posts left and right, and then a not so fierce writer struggling to post an article.  I've kept a goal of at least two blogposts per month, so I feel accomplished.  This leads me to my real reason for ruminating on writing.  I'm back to the thought of whether I should write a book.  My friend, Paige, and I have no less than 4 or 5 ideas of books we'd like to author together, so once she gets her tenure, that is on.  But, as I've participated in a few book launch teams lately, the fire is back to write a book.  Most of the authors I'm helping launch started out as bloggers.  My mind reels on how to even begin.  I have lots of ideas, but no clear path to get there, and like Mr. Holland's Opus, life and other ministry takes priority.  Nonetheless, it is occupying my head space right now.  

Teaching.  Part of the motivation of getting my MBA was to have the ability to do some adjunct teaching someday.  Of late, this has also been taking up a lot of my head space.  I'm far from ready to begin the process of seeing what's out there, but to be ready, I need to have a CV prepared so if and when the right teaching position pops up I can apply.  I love my current job, but I've always wanted to do this on a part-time basis to see if I even like it.  Given the first two items - specifically writing - I can't do both.  Herein lies the conundrum.  

All my life I've always had bigger goals than I had time or resources, but I'm so Type A, it's hard to not act on some of these dreams.  At this posting, I'm contemplating doing what I did when I was praying about getting my MBA...I decided to take some steps and see if doors opened, and if they did, that was the way I would go.  My MBA decision was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I'm hoping the same outcome as I ponder these wonderful opportunities all around me.