betwixt code and music

Staying Sane with a Long Commute

or Podcasts! (2 min read)

Before I get too far in, please understand how Dallas works. Everyone drives because we mostly live outside of the city proper. There is a big movement to live downtown and use public transit, but I am one the stooges who has lived in the 'burbs for my entire life.

That being said, I have a little help to offer on how to stay sane while driving 60+ minutes twice a day. Two words: Podcasts & Music.

I started listening to podcasts long ago when I was learning about the "Getting Things Done" methodology (© 2016 David Allen, Co.). As I searched for more details about getting my mental crazy walls more organized, I stumbled upon the venerable Merlin Mann and his internet web site 43Folders. I immediately liked his writing style and checked back in from time to time. I started listening to his popular podcast with Dan Benjamin called "Back to Work" on the 5by5 network right as they started. I was an early adopter to this thought technology, especially for someone living in the 'burbs in Dallas. And yes, it is ironic to listen to 90+ minutes episodes of a podcast that is nominally about getting "back to work"…that is part of the beauty of it all!

I was hooked on this medium. I tried a few pod-catchers (these technologists come up with great words!) over the last few years. I settled on the
Overcast app for iOS because it shortened the silences and was rather customizable in a few ways. I always listen at normal speed—I'm not an animal.

So…erm…I kept listening to the podcasts, and it made driving bearable. I have always been able to just look out of the window and daydream about most anything—it is a "pipes and wires" thing, or perhaps a product of constant reading/writing as a child—but this makes the time pass really nicely for me. I drove back and forth to Austin last fall eleven times while enrolled in The Iron Yard code school. Podcasts and music kept me learning on the road and thinking about design/development. I also long ago gave up trying to catch every episode of the podcasts that I follow. There is never enough time for such things! I do make time each day to listen while driving, but I let go if/when I fall behind.

Here are some of the podcasts and musics that I have been into recently. Go forth and find your own comfort voices and sounds!

Back to Work
Roderick on the Line
Road Work
Planet Money
99% Invisible
Shop Talk
Front End Five
The Dalrymple Report
HTTP 203
Reconcilable Differences
Robot or Not?
This American Life

Snarky Puppy - hard to define, funk music meets jam meets world music
Radiohead - all of it
Nerve - Jojo Mayer on drums, all electronic music made by acoustic instruments
Tigran Hamasyan - jazz meets the Balkans
Clifford Brown & Max Roach - jazz
Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya - classical Peruvian guitar