April 25, 2018

Podcasts: The Daily from the New York Times and The Rachel Maddow Show from MSNBC

I continue to love my WBEZ app where I can catch radio programs I have missed, but podcasts have now become my listening choice when I have exhausted favorite NPR programs.

Along with Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, I have added two new podcasts to my audio play list: The Daily from the New York Times newspaper and the Rachel Maddow Show from MSNBC.

I no longer get a paper version of the New York Times delivered to my home, so this audio slice of the paper was a welcome find. Each episode goes into depth on a particular topic and ends with one of the day’s most important events. I definitely feel more informed after my daily brief audio dose of the NY Times.

I don’t watch television news so I was unfamiliar with Rachel Maddow (which flabbergasted one of my sisters.) After listening to a couple of podcast episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show, I can say that this lady is really smart. She seems to be able to uncannily connect a lot of the dots concerning current news topics.

The podcast episodes appear to be audio broadcasts of her MSNBC show, so I can tell people that I am not watching TV, I am listening to it.

If you have a podcast recommendation, please send them my way.

Brainwaves app

Brainwaves, an app for your phone or tablet boasts 35 binaural programs that combine brain waves with ambient music, nature sounds or your own iTunes music selections. Binaural means using both ears so the app works better with earphones.

You can program 5 minute to 8 hour sessions choosing themes like relaxation, deep sleep, energy, meditation and memory enhancement. The app actually makes use of delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma waves to enhance the experience.

At $4.99, this app is affordable and worth a try if you need stress relief or want to add more meditation and rest periods to your daily life.

Please read any health warnings before using this app. You can always resort to good old fashioned meditation. Or play your own nature sounds and music while you quiet your mind and breathe. Still, this app might be just the thing to encourage calm, sleep or concentration.

Thanks to Amy Lechelt Basta for the recommendation of Brainwaves. The app definitely chilled me down after my dog got loose and led me on a stressful chase. Om!

Alec Baldwin’s Podcast, Here’s the Thing

Now that I have discovered the world of podcasts, someone recommended Here’s the Thing hosted by Alec Baldwin and sponsored by WNYC, a non-profit, noncommercial public radio station in New York City.

The guest list skews to people in the arts, but an engaging interview with Watergate cast member, John Dean indicates that Baldwin knows his way around many topics, including government and politics. I have delighted in podcasts with Barbra Streisand, Audra McDonald and James Cromwell (activist and star of the movie, Babe.) My tentative list of programs I want to catch includes interviews with Elaine Stritch (his co-star on 30 Rock), whiskey-voiced actress Kathleen Turner, Billy Joel, Rosie O’Donnell and David Letterman, but his guests include economists, athletes, newspeople and accomplished individuals in various professions.

As good as Baldwin’s roles in numerous movies and tv shows have been, including his appearances on Saturday Night Live with his dead-on impersonation of our current commander-in-chief, his podcast program, Here’s the Thing which premiered in October 2011 may be an equal claim to fame.  Baldwin has a seemingly effortless ability to bring out the human, intellectual and comedic sides of his fascinating guests.

Talk on, Alec!

NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett

I continue to adore my WBEZ app which allows me to catch all of my favorite NPR broadcasts no matter the time or day.

One of the marvelous programs that concerns itself with philosophical, spiritual and metaphysical topics is On Being with Krista Tippett. As the web site notes, “We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Not only have I heard celebrities interviewed like poet Nikki Giovanni and actor Martin Sheen, but also academics, religious figures, artists, poets, civil rights advocates and thinkers of all stripes. Big questions about life, death and meaning are frequently tackled.
Seekers of audio fluff need to look elsewhere!

Four ways to experience On Being:

Live on air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 7 a.m. on WBEZ (91.5 FM)

At the WBEZ Web site: https://www.wbez.org/shows/on-being/53693dfa-bfc9-43ec-a09f-6f5de55e9e9f

as an On Being with Krista Tippett podcast

or add the WBEZ app to your smart phone or tablet.

One of my favorite recent programs is with Daniel Kahneman, author, psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. He discusses why we think and do what we do which sheds light on the current cultural and political scene.
https://www.wbez.org/shows/on-being/unedited-daniel-kahneman-with-krista-tippett/ef9062da-7f48-4249-8d8a-b14180f3b5a7

earthcam.com

Someone tech savvy recommended the app earthcam.com to me. I have been taking vicarious trips ever since.

Many famous venues have real-time video feeds which you can access through this site. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Times Square in New York, to name but a few.

Think of any place on earth and there just may be live video footage available. Want to see an osprey nest or a rare plant? You just may be in luck.

Categories include National Parks, Iconic Landmarks, Animals and Zoos, Weird & Bizarre along with very amateurish video footage that viewers submit. A Peeling Paint cam in London, England goes in the “no thank you” column.

Now, back to my virtual travel browsing! Let me see… the Great Wall of China, the San Diego Zoo, the Vatican, Millenium Park in Chicago, Wrigley Field for one last post season look…….

http://www.earthcam.com/

New Amazon bookstore on Southport in Chicago

Since March 2017, Amazon has had a bookstore on Southport in Chicago, the only one in the Midwest. I finally got around to stopping in last night. As a supporter of independent bookstores, I had mixed emotions about the internet behemoth setting up shop in Chicago.

Let me confess that I bought a book. As a Prime member, the store sold me the book I wanted for the low price I had found on the internet. My debit card info showed up on their system confirming that I was a Prime member and away I went with my selected book. The salesclerk said I could also download the Amazon app to buy products in the future.

As a downside, the book selection is not deep. Amazon’s on-line best-sellers are apt to be the majority of books available and all book covers face out which looks nice, but limits stock space further. There is comfortable seating throughout the store for customer use.

The store is also a hub for all things Amazonian like the Echo, the Kindle and the Fire. I was intrigued by the Phillips lamps and light bulbs which can be controlled by digital assistant, Alexa. There were also small items for kids in the children’s literature section.

A coffee bar within the store, but separated by glass from the merchandise, has limited indoor seating. Outdoor tables now overlook the trendy Southport boutique and restaurant crowd.

It occurred to me that Amazon saved the free prime shipping fee by selling me this book for the low internet price. Might they be thinking of using this model for other items they sell?

Amazon has several other business concerns under its umbrella such as imdb.com, audible.com, AbeBooks, Goodreads, Twitch.tv, Woot, Zappos and now Whole Foods Market.

Oh, and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos has also invested in airbnb, Uber, Google and he bought the Washington Post newspaper in 2013. His space company, Blue Origin will begin offering rocket ship rides in 2018. Talk about a vertical and horizontal operation!