Posies and podcasts

I had a miserable cold for most of this week, so I was kind of a hermit and didn’t go out or do anything particularly exciting. To compensate, I took some pretty photos of spring flowers!

In front of the Institute of Astronomy.
In front of the Institute of Astronomy.

I guess I did manage to get some things done, like spring cleaning my room, nearly finishing up my experiments, and doing some research on where I might be living next year (exciting!). Mostly, though, it’s been a quiet week.

More Institute of Astronomy crocuses.
More Institute of Astronomy crocuses.

This does give me the opportunity to mention that I’ve been listening to a lot of awesome podcasts recently! I’d never really been into podcasts before, but it turns out that long ergs or mindless wire-bonding sessions are a lot more interesting if you’re also listening to a discussion of dark matter, or the history of stuntwomen, or the 60-word sentence that has formed much of the basis for U.S. actions in the War on Terror. Here’s a brief rundown of some of my favorite podcasts (all of which are free! Though most have ads):

  • Stuff Mom Never Told You (How Stuff Works): Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin spend each episode on a (usually pretty in-depth) look at woman and female-related issues, from the historical (corsets, invention of birth control, women’s colleges) to the medical (endometriosis, abortion, transitioning) to the cultural (body shaming, military wives, how teaching became “women’s work”) and beyond. I think they do a better job than most of keeping things both feminist and intersectional; they tend to address racial and socioeconomic class at least briefly in each episode, and I enjoyed learning more about black and Latina feminists from their episodes on those topics.
  • StarTalk Radio: The dulcet tones of Neil DeGrasse Tyson walk you through discussions of ideas astrophysical and otherwise, usually with a co-host helping things along. I particularly like the wacky questions that end up in some of the “Cosmic Queries” segments, but more general discussions of astrophysics and interviews with space science experts (and the occasional non-space person) are fun as well.
  • Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project (Tested): Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame), Will Smith (not that one), and Norman Chan have goofy nerd conversations about movies, special effects, show business, tools, making stuff, and other topics. It’s good for a geeky laugh, and I do enjoy hearing a different (i.e. technical/geek) perspective on the movie business than is typically hyped up by the press.
  • Nerdist Podcast (The Nerdist): This is basically an interview show, hosted by Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray, and Matt Mira, featuring various people of geek-/pop-cultural relevance. I’m honestly not tuned in enough to the entertainment/comedy scene to know who a lot of their guests are, but I enjoyed their interviews with Bill Gates, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Anthony Bourdain, among others. It’s kind of cool to hear about somebody with a really interesting life and/or job and how they work and get their ideas.
  • TED Radio Hour (NPR): Hosted by Guy Raz, this show basically compiles chunks of audio from a few TED talks with a common theme, intercut with explanations of missing parts of the talk and interviews with the speaker. If you’re a TED aficionado, this is probably a good one for you (though you may have heard the talks before).
  • Radiolab (NPR): This is probably my favorite of the lot. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich have a delightful rapport as they spend an hour (or 20-30 minute, for their “shorts”) exploring scientific and philosophical ideas from the power of objects to the origins of laughter to the upside and downsides of exterminating mosquitoes. Of all the podcasts on this list, it’s the one that’s most likely to make me miss my turn on a run or let something burn a bit on the stove because I’m so captivated by the ideas.

That’s all for now! Next week: hopefully something a bit more exciting to write about. For now, have some more flowers.



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