An ode to the podcast

The main perk of having a fairly long daily bike commute – though true in The Netherlands, especially more so in the California sun – is the fact that I can spend around 100 minutes of each day listening to people who have something interesting to say. Whether it is hearing spectacular accounts of historical events (e.g. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History), versatile, insightful documentaries on people from all walks of life (e.g. This American Life), or in depth conversations with interesting people (e.g. the Tim Ferriss show): podcasts make it possible to do this all at times when you would otherwise be forced to stare into the distance.*

In addition to the above-mentioned element of personal knowledge gain, a group of my closest friends and I have experienced how being active listeners sparks all kinds of interesting discussions. Like sharing the latest books one has read, we are continuously sharing anecdotes, insights, or things that podcasts made us ponder about. To my experience, the podcast as a medium can provide a sensible, stable source of knowledge at paces much higher than books can give me. Not that this prompts me to give up on this hardcopy medium directly (though some friends have switched to audio books and podcasts entirely), but I find it difficult to find or make the time to sit down and read non-academic literature these days.

So there you have it: podcasts have changed my life (Thank you Olja!), and so might they change yours. Forget feeding a senseless addiction to anxiety-spreading factual or non-factual daily news. Gone are the commercial breaks** and time limits of the ordinary TV or radio shows. The times to jump in have never been better: though a listener for several years***, I have the impression that podcast quantity and quality has increased as this medium reached maturity. To further share my enthusiasm and help anyone getting started, this site will contain a new page dedicated to podcasts: links to – and short descriptions of – the ones I thought worthy of my time. And most importantly: if anyone feels like I should listen to anything in particular: please drop me a message, I have commute-time on my hands as you now know. Personally, I would recommend to try out several, as liking one’s voice or manner of speech is a very personal matter. Continue reading “An ode to the podcast”

Leaving, on a jet plane

Imagine the following: You’re a Ph.D. candidate (Well, that shouldn’t be too hard for many of you…), the project you have spent the past 12 months working on seems to produce some interesting results. At a national conference they have recognized and acknowledged this by letting you give a presentation. Then you sign up for a large international conference, THE yearly conference of the field so to speak, and even there you are selected to give a talk. That’s great news! Right?

The group picture taken to celebrate the 10th anneversary of the Delft Kavli Institute, aren’t we the lively bunch?

But wait, you also have a sister. She is a professional snowboarder. She has spent the past 12 years training her (pardon my French) ass off and seems to be getting some interesting results. She’s the straight-A student of the national competition so to speak. And she shows this by winning the national championship in her discipline for 5 years in a row. Then she signs up for international competitions, and this seems to run pretty well. So well indeed that they have selected her… – okay, this is where all resemblances stop I am afraid – to head for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Now that is what I would call great news!

Continue reading “Leaving, on a jet plane”