Podcast Recommendations

I listen to podcasts pretty regularly – while driving, cleaning, walking, hiking, and even as a “bedtime story” a few nights per week. I tend to prefer visual learning, so it took me awhile to adapt to audio podcasts. I think I have finally found my stride by incorporating listening with everyday low-level tasks like those I described above. I am now able to get through several long-form podcasts per week.

Here are my current favorites:

The Tim Ferris Show
I listen to this podcast more consistently and enthusiastically than any others. Tim has an eclectic mix of guests who dive deep on a wide array of interesting topics. I find his interviews tremendously fascinating and thought-provoking. Some of my recent favorites include Amanda Palmer on How to Fight, Meditate, and Make Good Art, Dr. Adam Gazally (The Maverick of Brain Optimization), Dr. Astro Teller and Danielle Teller (What do Google X, Medicine, & Great Relationships have in common?), and Chris Sacca on Being Different and Making Billions. In fact, when scrolling through his archives to recommend stand-out episodes, it was difficult to choose as I have enjoyed them all. I especially like this short episode of Ryan Holiday reading Thomas Edison's Formula for Greatness, which I have listened to a handful of times.

Fair warning: I find a few things about this podcast grating and I tolerate them because the interviews are super high quality. His advertisements and endorsements take up the first and last 5-10 minutes of each episode. Not only are they contrived and corny, but they remind that he's a douchey opportunist. Tim Ferris is a very successful entrepreneur and certainly doesn't need to sell himself or his listeners out that way he does. I would rather pay for episodes than listen to him pontificate about hipster underwear. He also loves to hear himself talk and has a tendency to shift focus to himself too often. I appreciate and respect that he has pulled together some great people and conducts interesting and nuanced interviews, but I don't really like him, so it is distracting when conversations veer in that direction.

On Being
For all the ways that Tim Ferriss annoys, Krista Tippett delights. She is so incredibly thoughtful and explores a more of the spiritual side by asking what it means to be human. She emanates compassion and asks important questions with grace. Some recent stand-out episodes are Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn – Beauty in Banjo and in Life and Maria Popova – Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age. One thing I particularly like about On Being is the ability to choose between the full unedited interview or a shorter, edited version.

Dear Sugar
Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame) developed a cult-like following writing an anonymous advice column for The Rumpus under the name “Sugar”. In 2012, she published a moving compilation of that work in Tiny Beautiful Things, and in 2015, Sugar was revived in audio form for this heartfelt advice-based podcast. I recommend starting at the beginning to Meet the Sugars and then listening them all. The episodes are shorter than I would like, but the lighter content and format work really well for running errands or cleaning.

I am always trying out new podcasts and there are several others that I like or love that didn't make my top favorites list. They deserve a nod. In no particular order:

Do you have a favorite podcast?

Modern Couture

Working out is modern couture. No outfit is going to make you look or feel as good as having a fit body. Buy less clothing and go to the gym instead.

— Rick Owens

Lessons from the Dali Lama

I don't know if this list is actually from the Dali Lama, but it's still good.

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R's – Respect for self, Respect for others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is the one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

The Myth of Gluten

Perhaps the sugary, greasy Western diet — increasingly recognized as pro-inflammatory — is partly responsible. Maybe shifts in our intestinal microbial communities, driven by antibiotics and hygiene, have contributed. Whatever the eventual answer, just-so stories about what we evolved eating, and what that means, blind us to this bigger, and really much more worrisome, problem: The modern immune system appears to have gone on the fritz.

Maybe we should stop asking what’s wrong with wheat, and begin asking what’s wrong with us.

via The New York Times: The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten

Nothing good gets away

John Steinbeck wrote this poignant letter to his son in 1958. It is beautiful in its entirety, however the last line really nails it. I feel it is not exclusive to the subject of love, but universally applicable.

If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

New York

November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

Steinbeck, John. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters. New York: Viking Press, 1975. Print.

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa

My dear friend Kisma is a culinary creative, regularly preparing and sharing her gourmet meals across social media. I literally salivate while scrolling through her photos, so when she invited me over for dinner a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance.

She made one of her signature dishes, an adaptation of Williams-Sonoma Honey-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Corn Salsa. I just brought a bag of chips and a plan to cajole her into blogging. I ate way too much, she agreed to start a blog, and I think we were both successful in our objectives. I've certainly been inspired ever since.

When considering what I might make for this weekends celebrations, it didn't take long to land on that roasted corn salsa. I've been dreaming of it for weeks and it's so delicious that people are drinking it. I mean, what other testimonial do you need? It's basically organic crack that's good for you.

The proportions in this recipe are flexible and to your taste. Kisma uses cherry or grape tomatoes, extra vinegar, tabasco, and love. I doubled the recipe and used heirloom tomatoes. Here is the original version to get you started:

Ingredients:
3 ears of corn, shucked
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. Tabasco or other hot-pepper sauce, or to taste
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
To make the salsa, prepare a hot fire in a grill. Place the corn on the grill rack 5 to 6 inches from the fire and cook, turning often, until the kernels have softened and are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut off the kernels from each ear with a sharp knife, cutting the length of the ear and rotating it with each cut. Alternatively, remove the kernels with a kernal cutter.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, the tomatoes, onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and hot-pepper sauce. Stir well, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate. Stir in the parsley just before serving.

Rethinking Positive Thinking

In the midst of research and development for my current project, I stumbled across WOOP (Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan) – a scientific strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes and change their habits.

Created as a result of over 20 years of scientific research and has proven effective across ages and life domains. Research finds that dreaming about a desired future leads to low investment and little success, regardless of life domains, such as health, work, and interpersonal relationships. In order to benefit from positive thinking about the future people need to incorporate in that positive thinking a clear sense of reality.

“The solution isn’t to do away with dreaming and positive thinking. Rather, it’s making the most of our fantasies by brushing them up against the very thing most of us are taught to ignore or diminish: the obstacles that stand in our way.”

While optimism can help us alleviate immediate suffering and persevere in challenging times, merely dreaming about the future actually makes people more frustrated and unhappy over the long term and less likely to achieve their goals. In fact, the pleasure we gain from positive fantasies allows us to fulfill our wishes virtually, sapping our energy to perform the hard work of meeting challenges and achieving goals in real life.

Mental Contrasting (the Wish, Outcome, and Obstacle part of WOOP) is a visualization technique that incorporates this sense of reality: It helps people to gain insight into their wishes and to clearly identify the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing these wishes.

WOOP is an evidence-based self-regulatory strategy that people can use effectively on their own to change their behavior across everyday life (e.g., health, school, work, play, relationships) and across the life cycle (e.g., from childhood to old age). It combines focusing on our dreams with visualizing the obstacles that stand in our way. By experiencing our dreams in our minds and facing reality we can address our fears, make concrete plans, and gain energy to take action.

WOOP is a conscious exercise leading to strategic automaticity: The Wish, Outcome, and Obstacle part of WOOP builds nonconscious associations between future and reality and between the obstacles and the actions to overcome the obstacles. These associations provide energy and foster the mastery of set-backs. The Plan-part of WOOP further helps to overcome difficult obstacles by strengthening the association between obstacles and actions even more.

Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation dives deep into WOOP and MCII. I intend to implement this strategy