Eno River wildflowers, a good spin, and some favorite podcasts
by Rob Tiller
On Friday, I had a mini-adventure exploring Eno River State Park. I asked a friendly staffer at the park office for a good place to look for wildflowers, and so found my way to the pump station trail.
It was a lovely calming place. I walked slowly, looking for tiny blossoms, some of whom are shy and easy to miss. Sometimes I got down on my belly for an extreme close up. I heard the river and a number of migrant warblers singing, though I couldn’t see them in the new leaves.
On Saturday morning I did a 45-minute spin class at Flywheel, which I’ve been trying to do once a week. As usual, it was hard. I met my objectives of getting 300 points ( though barely, with 301), and staying out of last place. In fact, I finished first in the class. I also set a new record for my average heart rate, with 158, and a peak of 168. And I didn’t die!
Most mornings I’ve been getting up at 5:05 and heading to the gym. I’ve been swimming one day a week, and on the others I do a combination of various aerobic machines (stairs, treadmill, elliptical, bike, row) and weights.
During the non-wet workouts I’ve been listening to some stimulating and fun podcasts. I usually start with some news in Spanish (Voz de America) and French (RFI), and then explore some history, science, or other interesting domain. Here are some recent favorites.
S-Town. I finished the seventh of seven episodes last week, and loved it! This was done by some of the same creative folks that did Serial and has a similar format. It starts out being about a crime in a small Alabama town, but ends up being about a quirky and mercurial guy and his community. Parts of it are shocking and tragic, but it’s also funny and compelling.
Radiolab. These folks focus on science and social issues, and sometimes they’re very lively. I particularly liked their recent episode on our nuclear command structure, which gives the President complete and unconstrained control of a nuclear force that could end the world as we know it. That is, we put the question of whether the human race survives or not in one person’s hands. I learned there’s a pending bill that would add some congressional oversight, which could mitigate this existentially risky situation a little.
Common Sense. From time to time, Dan Carlin does long form podcasts on public policy matters, and they are well researched and thought-provoking. His most recent one concerns America’s health care system, which he points out is not by any measure the best in the world, but is far and away the most expensive. Carlin has some ideas on how we got to this absurd state of affairs, and how we might get out.
Rationally Speaking. The format here is Julia Galef interviewing smart people about social and philosophical issues. This week I went into the archive and listened to her conversation with Peter Singer about ethics and animal rights, and liked it a lot.
Waking Up. This is another podcast where a smart person, here Sam Harris, interviews another smart person. The most recent one is a conversation with Lawrence Krauss, which covers a wide range, from quantum physics to the under-appreciated nuclear threat to the overhyped threat of Islamic terrorism.
The New Yorker Radio Hour. Somehow David Remnick manages to edit the New Yorker, read everything, watch a lot of television, and do this podcast. Each episode has several segments, which usually include an author talking about a recent piece in the magazine. Those are usually goods, though just as with the magazine, there are some that I would skip.
This American Life. Even after all these years on NPR, Ira Glass and company are still almost always fresh and original.