Skip to content

Category: Always Be Learning

Keeping Fresh on Pop Songs

When playing an all-request show, you absolutely must stay up-to-date with the current trends in pop music. I try to keep at least three or four current top ten songs ready to go. Right now that means “Love Yourself” and “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots, and “Hello” by Adele. Mind you, I’m not memorizing these tunes – most of them won’t make it a month in the zeitgeist – but I certainly get familiar enough with the tune that I can pull up some lyrics and perform it pretty well.

I have the Billboard Hot 100 bookmarked and I listen to most of the songs about every other day on average, usually while getting ready in the morning [edit – just the top few songs, not all 100!!]. The mind is fresh and ready to absorb new tunes in the morning, so why not take advantage! If you don’t subscribe to a music service, most of the current hits are on YouTube for on-demand listening. It also doesn’t hurt to sit down at the piano and play through a verse, chorus, and bridge of the tunes once a week or so. Make it a habit, and soon you’ll be winning over a whole new demographic of music fans.

Keep practicing!

-Josh

Podcasts

I have turned into quite the podcast junkie as of late. Whenever I’m in my car, it’s always the podcasts instead of the radio. I’ll use this post to keep you guys up to date with what I am listening to.

My current podcast app is Player.fm – the GUI has nice big buttons corresponding to each podcast I subscribe to. I stream my programs, but the app also has automatic downloading as an option.


Current Podcast List (titles link to the corresponding RSS feed)

The Slate Political Gabfest – Featuring the insight of Emily Bazelon (New York Times Magazine), John Dickerson (Face the Nation), and David Plotz (Atlas Obscura), this is a roundtable discussion of three big topics from the week’s news. While slightly left-of-center, it is absolutely cerebral to the core, eschewing party spin for a deeper understanding of the news.

$100 MBA – Hosted by Omar Zenhom, this is a quick (usually less than 10 minute) daily podcast that focuses on one narrow aspect of entrepreneurship each episode. I wouldn’t call it a gold mine, but it gets me in a good business mindset on my drive to the office in the morning.

EOFire – Hosted by John Lee Dumas, this is another daily business podcast, but in this one, JLD interviews an entrepreneur. The value of the episode is highly dependant on the guest. With 1100+ episodes, you can imagine how some may be flops.

The Tim Ferriss Show – Hosted by (you guessed it) Tim Ferriss (The Four-Hour Workweek), this is a long-form podcast, usually lasting around two hours, in which Tim interviews a pretty fascinating person. Some of the episodes get a little out there, and with such an eclectic group of interviewees, some episodes just aren’t as appealing to me as others. At the end of each episode, Tim always asks an assortment of “quick-fire” questions that usually elicit pretty useful stuff – I have gotten quite a few great book recommendations from it.

NPR Hourly News Summary – Updated every hour, this is a five minute review of the top headlines currently making news.


Honorable Mentions (I just don’t have enough time to listen to everything I would like to)

WTF Podcast with Marc Maron (weekly) – amazing interviews with really deep conversations.

The Gist with Mike Pesca (daily) – worth it just for his “Spiel” at the end of the show, where Mike rants about whatever random thing that has got his goat that day.


What podcasts do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments.

-Josh

I Thought It Was Clever

[Turns out Facebook doesn’t think an article with yesterday’s title is worth sharing (it appeared on fewer than ten timelines – usually it’s in the hundreds)! I’m not going to even include the name in this post, just in case the anti-spam algorithm searches the text of a blog post, too. You can check it out for yourself in the archives. Anyways, here’s the post from yesterday whose title Facebook didn’t care for.] -Josh


[title redacted]

Read, read, read! Keep those grey cells healthy and multiplying.

One resource you may not be taking advantage of is your local library’s e-book services. Here in Madison, our library uses the OverDrive app for e-book borrowing. All of the books that are available through OverDrive (and there are thousands) can be read directly from the in-app reader, and -get this- most of them can be downloaded straight to your Kindle! You get the book for twenty-one days and can renew it if no one is waiting for it. There are many new releases represented on the virtual shelf, and you have the ability to request that new titles be added to the service as resources become available (“resources” = “money.” There is a voluntary donation button in the app.). For those who lean more toward the aural experience, there are a bunch of audiobooks through the service, too. Did I mention that all of this is free‽ What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Call To Action – Head over to your library or to their website and see if there is an e-book service available for you. Keep reading!

-Josh

Free E-books! (really)

Read, read, read! Keep those grey cells healthy and multiplying.

One resource you may not be taking advantage of is your local library’s e-book services. Here in Madison, our library uses the OverDrive app for e-book borrowing. All of the books that are available through OverDrive (and there are thousands) can be read directly from the in-app reader, and -get this- most of them can be downloaded straight to your Kindle! You get the book for twenty-one days and can renew it if no one is waiting for it. There are many new releases represented on the virtual shelf, and you have the ability to request that new titles be added to the service as resources become available (“resources” = “money.” There is a voluntary donation button in the app.). For those who lean more toward the aural experience, there are a bunch of audiobooks through the service, too. Did I mention that all of this is free‽ What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Call To Action – Head over to your library or to their website and see if there is an e-book service available for you. Keep reading!

-Josh

Crash Course on YouTube

Feel like binge watching the history of mankind? How about exploring the cosmos? Ever wonder how the US government is SUPPOSED to work? Look no further than the awesome folks over at Crash Course on YouTube. Devised by the enterprising fraternal duo of Hank and John Green (yes, that John Green), Crash Course offers in-depth multi-episode journeys through (as of right now)…

Economics
Astronomy
US Government and Politics
Anatomy and Physiology
World History
World History 2 (where John concentrates on broader themes through history rather than the specific eras and events covered in World History 1)
Big History (in which the brothers take us on a trip from the big bang to the future)
Psychology
Chemistry
US History
Intellectual Property
Literature
Biology
Ecology

All of the videos are relatively short – hovering around the ten-minute mark, and are very entertaining (in a nerdy kind of way).

You can peruse the entire catalog here, but first here’s a taste of some early World History to get you going. (spoiler alert: the Mongols are pretty much the exception to every rule in civilization-building)

And everything is on the test! -John Green

Enjoy!
-Josh

Always Be Learning

I think that we have a responsibility to society as a whole to constantly be trying to improve ourselves. When one person learns, we all learn. When you sit down and read a book, our average intelligence as a species goes up a tick. Think about that – it’s true! You are making all of humanity better and adding a little bit of grey matter to your own head in the process. Altruism and selfishness – sweet! One thing I will be sharing on this site is the myriad resources available so you can sit down and learn something you didn’t know before. In the meantime, get your learn on!

-Josh

Write Every Day

I am not a good writer. I happily admit it. But I do know the secret to becoming a better writer, and it’s kind of what this website thing is all about. Are you ready? To become a better writer – write. Write every day. Your brain is like a muscle, and like any muscle, it can’t get stronger unless it’s worked out. Of course reading a lot and studying others’ thoughts on writing can help, but nothing gets you better faster than sitting down and doing it every day (at least I hope so!).

For example, when I first started songwriting, it was a real struggle. It was difficult to flesh out any ideas I had, lyrics came painfully slow, and it was all pretty cheesy at the end of the day. But guess what. The more I did it – the more I sat down and made myself try to come up with something – ANYTHING – the easier it became. I started writing songs I was proud of and that other people wanted to hear… hear multiple times! I even accomplished a personal life goal of mine and released an album (iTunes, CDBaby). [Quick side note – when I did a Google search to find the links for my album, I discovered that someone is selling a used one that I had signed. Haha! That really tickles me for some reason. Here it is if you want it – Amazon.]

Call to action – If you have something you want to accomplish, don’t just take the first steps. Dive in. Everyone knows the best way to learn a new language is through total immersion. It’s no different with learning to do anything else. (Disclaimer – maybe not ANYTHING else. This is probably not the best method for learning lion taming, for instance)

Have you discovered any tips and tricks for improving your own writing? Share it with everyone in the comments.

-Josh