Re: Commuter Games

1

no fun. audiobooks?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:00 AM
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For audiobooks, if you go with fiction, I've found short stories to work better than novels for drives of shorter lengths. But I have a terrible attention span, especially for listening to books while driving.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:03 AM
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Hello,

This may come off as sadly predictable, but but some of my favorite podcasts are:

The Sound of Young America (great interviews, mainly having to do with comedy and music)
All Songs Considered (NPR)
This American Life
Fresh Air

But there is a huge variety to choose from out there. Link your ipod with your car stereo system (several methods are available) and you will be good to go.


Posted by: Caliban | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:03 AM
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My wife's commute is hellish. She likes audiobooks.
Does your car stereo have USB input?

I found that driving an old car and wearing a big hat makes drivers of shiny expensive cars clear the lane. Also google magnetic devil flames for detachable vehicle mood accessories.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:03 AM
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eb, the post said 45 minutes each way. Is that what you're calling `short' ?

podcasts are good too.

i'm allergic to long commutes, that's about all I've got.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:05 AM
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What 4 said about other drivers. Compared to Boston, I felt like the DC metro area had a lot more prestige-car drivers, and they were more likely to steer clear of me and my long hair and beat-up Datsun; here, I'd probably be competing for the merge position with some *other* guy with long hair and a beat-up Datsun.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:05 AM
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I love the Car Talk podcast.

Find alternate routes that do not have much traffic.

Develop elaborate theories of traffic flow, incorporating both wave mechanics and group psychology, and attempt to codify them in your head.

Determine exactly how much you can zone out without running off the road.

All of these have worked well for me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:06 AM
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Drive, drive, masturbate, drive.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:08 AM
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Is that what you're calling `short' ?

For a commute, no. For the general category of "drives" yes. I haven't listened to book audiobooks for a while since I haven't been driving long distances, but when I did it was mainly drives of a few hours, like going from southern to northern California.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:12 AM
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Radio 4 has a lot of good podcasts: Start the Week, the Friday evening comedy show, and In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (some scholarly topic with experts). In Our Time recently did a show on the dissolution of the monasteries in England that was very good.

From NPR, I kind of like On the Media.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:16 AM
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Also, the podcasts for In Our Time tend to run about 42 minutes.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:16 AM
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That almost qualifies as jinx.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:17 AM
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Is it stop and go traffic or pretty clear?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:17 AM
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We need a post on the NY Times article on the growth in philosophy majors, which ends with this comment:

Jenna Schaal-O'Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore who is majoring in cognitive science and linguistics, said philosophy had other perks. She said she found many male philosophy majors interesting and sensitive.

"That whole deep existential torment," she said. "It's good for getting girlfriends."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/education/06philosophy.html?em&ex=1207800000&en=8a793b6d6a5d9410&ei=5087%0A


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:17 AM
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8 is no joke. About once a month I notice a couple discreetly busy while they're moving, usually 3-5 year old cars, median car flashiness or above. There's an implied privacy screen since eye contact between drivers is taboo. Also, lots of people read the paper or their office papers on their steering wheels. Maximum hilarity for driving style conflict comes when pickup trucks full of lawn-mowers meet elderly ladies unsure of their car's exact size. Korean grocery parking lots are ground zero for this, not a bad spectator sport at the busiest times.

Oh, there are netflix-like rental services for audiobooks; simply audiobooks is pretty good, though several-day turnaround. emusic has started peddling downloads, I haven't subscribed so can't comment on selection.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:18 AM
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Sorry for the threadjack. Back to audiobooks.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:18 AM
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I thought you were just seconding my suggestion, eb.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:23 AM
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I do second it, but I hadn't seen it when I posted.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:27 AM
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Sounds like an ideal length of commute for learning a language; it's like two class periods a day, with plenty of time for drills. You'd have to not mind people watching you babble behind the wheel, but that too can be a way of getting other drivers to keep their distance.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:30 AM
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1. Learn a language. Listen to teach-yourself-language recordings on the way into work, audiobooks in that language on the way back.

2. Memorize entire plays by Shakespeare. You never know when you may not need to soliloquize, kill a king, or passionately eulogize a drowned dead mad girlfriend, so begin with Hamlet and don't stop till you can recite it all from "Who's there?" to "Go, bid the Soldiers shoot."

3. Audiobooks, of course. Here is your opportunity to become passingly acquainted with every English literature classic that no one ever actually reads. Also Jane Austen, who is probably the only writer of classic English literature that people read for pleasure.

4. Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter.

3.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:40 AM
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(The second "3" is a blank indicating that you could spend the time thinking useful thoughts.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:41 AM
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Memorize Pi!

If you can recite pi from "3.
1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209 7494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651 3282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102 7019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756659334461 2847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861045432 6648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920 9628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841 4695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738193261179 3105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011 9491298336733624406566430860213949463952247371907021798 6094370277053921717629317675238467481846766940513200056 8127145263560827785771342757789609173637178721468440901 2249534301465495853710507922796892589235420199561121290 2196086403441815981362977477130996051870721134999999" you can then wave your hand casually and say "...and recurring" which will totally impress...

...the very small number of numbergeeks you are ever likely to meet.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:44 AM
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What a bunch of self-improvers. If there's not much traffic, you should blast music and go "wheeee!!!!" down the road. If it's stop and go, then you should flip radio channels between NPR during one of the rare times they have something bearable on, and Christian radio, which is good for you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:44 AM
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thinking useful thoughts

See 8.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:45 AM
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go "wheeee!!!!" down the road

See 24.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:46 AM
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say "...and recurring" which will totally impress...

...the very small number of numbergeeks you are ever likely to meet.

But it's not recurring, and the numbers geeks will tell you that scornfully.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:46 AM
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I like my weekly podcast dose of The Bugle and the BBC's News Quiz or Now Show.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:48 AM
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Then again I'm spoiled because I can walk to work, or drive in 5mins.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:49 AM
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Yeah, well, my drive is five minutes when there's traffic.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:50 AM
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Well my drive is five minutes in traffic with a flat tire.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:52 AM
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Oh, you have tires?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:55 AM
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I crawl to work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:55 AM
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Those new-fangled GPS navigation devices are pretty nifty. In addition to giving you the route, they estimate the time that you will get there. Which is good because it helps you calibrate your "why I'm late" excuse.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:57 AM
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I don't drive a sedan; I get carried in a sedan chair. The servants read books aloud to me as they walk. Sometimes they act out plays.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:58 AM
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Well, when I get to work -- which takes so little time, the device to measure it has not yet been invented -- I can sit at the office and facilitate war crimes, and no one can touch me.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:02 AM
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Is it stop and go traffic or pretty clear?

My advice for mental stability is try alternate longer routes, that might have less traffic. I go the long way round to avoid sitting on a miserable stretch of minimalls and stoplights. It takes the same amount of time with less annoyance. And the planet is too damned cold, anyway.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:15 AM
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26 - the numbergeeks I know have a sense of humor. Of course, they went to Cambridge.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:17 AM
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I walk to work. It takes 20 minutes. More if I stop to take photos.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:18 AM
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Christian radio has been clinically proven to induce road rage.

35: Yeah, yeah, rub it in, tenure boy. Don't torture any undergrads.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:23 AM
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Don't torture any undergrads.

Are you kidding? That's half the fun.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:25 AM
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Yeah, yeah, rub it in

See 8.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:26 AM
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Well, don't shock their consciences.

I just used to listen to the radio on my commute. But spaz has good advice, too. Driving for forty minutes is much easier to deal with when actually moving.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:34 AM
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And the planet is too damned cold, anyway.

If it takes the same amount of time, are you really doing the planet much more harm?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:34 AM
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I've forgotten how to comment, it seems.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:35 AM
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Apply your makeup at traffic lights. Don't get too anxious about whether the light might turn green while you are looking into the vanity mirror; the drivers behind you will be sure to signal you when it's time to move again.

Also, get really absorbed in a cell phone conversation with someone. Preferably with no hands-free kit.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:35 AM
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I'm still working through the back catalog of This American Life. I find it's the perfect thing to take my mind off of how boring it is to sit on the bus. Worked when I drove, too.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:36 AM
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45 ...

play `blue angels'. see how many lanes you can block.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:36 AM
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The key is to facilitate the non-shocking of consciences, not to not shock those consciences yourself. But you still have to fill out the human subjects institutional review board forms.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:38 AM
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Christian radio has been clinically proven to induce road rage.

OTOH, it is associated with statistically significantly lower levels of behind-the-wheel masturbation, and it eliminates sex-while-driving almost entirely. So the net impact on road safety is arguably neutral.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:39 AM
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Have you considered carpooling? I mean, I hate people and everything, but there's real value in being able to read when it's not your week to drive. [Plus: insert scolding climate-change anecdote here. Drowning polar bears may be used as needed.]


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:42 AM
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OTOH, it is associated with statistically significantly lower levels of behind-the-wheel masturbation.

I'm not at all convinced this is true. There may also be positive correlation with the receiving of behind-the-wheel, professionally administered blow jobs.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:42 AM
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51: It's like KR doesn't even read the news.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:44 AM
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Buy a motorcycle, then your commute will be (a) much easier on the environment and (b) exciting until you (c) die!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:44 AM
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Christian radio has been clinically proven to induce road rage.

Oh shit, I meant to look up the name of this Christian radio program I heard advertised on the local hate radio/Pirates station. The promo was something to the effect of "Tired of explanations that just make life more complicated? Listen to Reverend Bogus and his explanations of how simple life really is."

I swear that's not an exaggeration. I boggled.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:45 AM
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I suppose also, if you're going to masturbate, that would be safer, and, depending on your fetishes, more fun while carpooling.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:45 AM
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Isn't DC the home of those wacky ad-hoc carpooleries where you stand around in a parking lot until somebody hires you to mow their lawn drives you to work?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:45 AM
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53: If it's an in-city commute, you can probably have even more fun on a bicycle, and get there faster. You may die quicker.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:46 AM
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All that gas you will be wasting.

I cry for the polar bears.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:46 AM
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57: dude it's 45 minutes by car. Even if it's in-city that's gotta be a pretty fair distance to be biking every morning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:48 AM
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Have you considered carpooling?

And then you could engage in exactly the same 45 minutes of small talk twice a day. It would be like a performance piece.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:49 AM
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Rats. Further research indicates that, whoever he is, he's part of a 5 hour block of " Various Commercial Broadcasts" that they run Sunday mornings. I'll try to remember next time.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:50 AM
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When I used to commute I would listen to the teaching company tapes. They tend to be better than books on tape for driving around. The teachers are very good and passionate. They often have them at libraries so call around. If you buy them, get the ones on sale.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:51 AM
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It would be like a performance piece.

Especially if you video blog it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:53 AM
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60: geez what kind of a fucked up carpool has people talking to each other?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:53 AM
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59: I used to do that in a couple of cities. 45 by car was 30, 35 by bike.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:53 AM
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65 cont .... not saying it's for everyone, mind.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:54 AM
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Actually, 45 minutes driving in traffic is breakeven for a bicycle. Doesn't help in bad weather or if you need to ride in the street on traffic arteries at rush hour, though.
But at peak-rush times, 10 miles in DC is 45 minutes by car, 45 minutes or less by bike. It's an obvious alterantive, but only possible for some routes.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:55 AM
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You could hire a musician to play for you as you drive. Probably not a harpist, unless you have one of those tall delivery van-type vehicles.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:57 AM
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I think by law, harpists must be accompanied by someone feeding you grapes.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:59 AM
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69 - and the problem with that is...?

(I think fresh figs are also permissable.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:03 AM
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In season, fresh figs are mandatory.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:04 AM
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No problem at all. No one should miss out on grapes. The sound waves from the harp make them taste better.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:05 AM
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Buy a voice-activated sound recorder/dictaphone. Listen to right-wing radio stations. Fisk the broadcasts. When you get to the Internet, do blog posts based on your fisking. You will shortly become notorious, loathed by right-wing bloggers, loved by everyone with a sense of humor, Rush Limbaugh will try to take out a contract on you but will fall on his fat ass because the Assassins Guild won't take his diseased, slimy, filthy money, and when you are rich and famous and have book contracts and a regular column and actors competing to play you in the movie of your life, don't forget we knew you when...


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:08 AM
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OTOH, it is associated with statistically significantly lower levels of behind-the-wheel masturbation

Kry, Kry, masturbate, Kry.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:24 AM
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No one should miss out on grapes. The sound waves from the harp make them taste better.

Perhaps


Posted by: oztk | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:29 AM
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This is all you'll ever need.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:44 AM
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I can't believe this thread has gone 75 comments without one reference to satellite radio.

OMG GET A SATELLITE RADIO NOW.

$50 for the cheapest Sirius, another $20 for a dingus to run it off your tape deck/CD player, and 13 precious, sanity-saving dollars per month for the service.

Even then I needed to supplement with podcasts when I had a 45-minute commute, because that's a long-ass time to be in the car. I loaded up with NPR stuff and bought a couple of audio books (I highly, highly recommend Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, because it's as much radio play as audiobook, and Bruce is just chock-full of awesome).

If I were still doing the commute, I'd probably be brandhing out from the NPR and listening to some of the shit-ton of knitting or geek podcasts out there. iTunes and podshow.com are good places to start.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:51 AM
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If it takes the same amount of time, are you really doing the planet much more harm?

I've wondered about this too. I decided that idling at a stop uses less gas than going 60 on a country road, so net effect is higher for the longer route.

Also, my 25-28 drive on country roads translates into a sub 60 minute bike ride. On days that I bike, it's like I took an hour to work out but got 2 hours of riding. It's a reasonably good deal, and there are some decent bike trails that lead from DC into the burbs.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:12 PM
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I decided that idling at a stop uses less gas than going 60 on a country road

idling = 0 MPG


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:18 PM
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Audiobooks, of course. Depending on where you are in life, you can choose mysteries, novels, the classics (IOW, something you probably would not read otherwise, or meant to get to in college or afterward, but didn't -- I read THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, WALDEN, MIDDLEMARCH -- "King Lear," however, was incomprehensible. Whatever. Any public library worth the space it takes has all of them) But here's the most important thing I learned from other long-distance commuters: it changed their lives. One went to grad school; another changed her vocation; another got a divorce, and so on -- NOT that I'm suggesting any of those -- but on long drives, the mind is, by neccesity, in two different places and goes into an alpha state. You'll discover all kinds of things you never would have otherwise. Make the most of what you learn. For example, some of the best ideas for poetry have come to me while I'm driving. If I'm in a place where I can pull over, I stop and write them down -- but often, when you're on the highway where you can't stop, it's a good idea to have a recorder. Good luck! kjb


Posted by: KimbleBarrie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:23 PM
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Tooting my own horn here, but my reviews are almost exclusively of audiobooks from the four-year period where I worked a hellaciously submental job and listened to audiobooks while doing it. If you're at a loss for some good titles, check it out.


Posted by: The Critic | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:26 PM
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Yes, absolutely -- SATELLITE RADIO! It's fantastic, especially for long-distance driving.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 1:20 PM
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73: Fisk?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:03 PM
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Kraab you n00b.

I hate the term, actually. Fuck a bunch of wingnuts who use it. We invented that shit years before Andrew Sullivan pooped out a column.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:07 PM
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Get crime fiction audiobooks set in the city through which you drive. Not exclusively, but for an occasional kick. The best car/audio experience I ever had (outside of listening to Zep on Rte 1 in New Jersey as a teenager) was listening to Under the Banner of Heaven while driving through Grand Canyon country. You understand geographic crazy.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:07 PM
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Not only is it a terrible coinage because it's in reference to an essay by a leftist British journalist who wrote empathetically about being beaten in Afghanistan, but it's also an utterly unreadable rhetorical form. One should know how to argue with enough clarity that one can reference one's opponents arguments fairly before dismantling them without having to repeat everything they say. Anyone guilty of "fisking" should be permanently disbarred from publishing criticism.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:12 PM
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Which audiobook outfit is the easiest to deal with (like Netflix) if I want CDs? I could do the downloading and such but I want to try the idea before I get into MP3 players and FM transmitters.

Listening to a story has to be more relaxing than racing people back and forth over Laurel Canyon or screaming at the idiots driving in the Valley.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:42 PM
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86: Firejoemorgan is funny as fuck, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:44 PM
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87: FM transmitters kind of suck, avoid if possible (it's not always possible).

My library has a ton of audiobooks on CD, fwiw.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:45 PM
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Anyone guilty of "fisking" should be permanently disbarred from publishing criticism.

But only if it can be done in strict accordance with the Blogger Code of Ethics.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:48 PM
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89: I have been having great results using an FM transmitter in very radio-crowded Los Angeles. 99.1 is serene and empty and waiting for my iPod. It's the Monster brand, I think, at least it was purchased at the Apple Store.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 6:53 PM
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Sing real loud. When I do that I feel real good when I show up at, ugh, work, and better yet when I arrive home; when I don't inevitably I rave and curse all the way at 1.) that asshole ahead of me 2.) the worthless shithole of a city I live in, the entire city and 3.) the whole futile human race. Plus it's super good for the respiration, shakes the snot right out.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:29 PM
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My commute is 32-45minutes.

I can't do long audiobooks but I can do short fiction
podcasts, I listen to the following podcasts:

Writer's Almanac
Fresh Air
WNYC Radio Lab
Short Fiction
BBC In Our Time

I'm fanatical about updating my ipod with new audio every day. I keep a "Today Playlist" updated with these podcasts and place music inbetween them.

You also should explore alternate ways to work and home. If a new road possibility opens up I give it a try and compare commute times. I regularly try old routes, even if they take longer. This way I see if anything has changed and know what alternate routes I can take if my normal route is backed up. I hate sitting in stopped traffic.

I have Sirius which is much better than over the air, but prefer podcasts for the commute.


Posted by: Steve | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 5:47 PM
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BBC R4 "Analysis". Possibly the best podcasts in the world .


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 04-10-08 2:58 AM
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Bloggingheads podcasts.


Posted by: otto | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:19 PM
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I've been listening to those a lot lately, and I do like them. Except for Mickey Kaus, who I want to punch even more than when I was just reading his stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:22 PM
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