I want to learn to meditate. This post is about what I read and listen to on a daily basis, but it’s really about the restlessness I feel when I’m not doing more than one thing at a time. I get my work done, that’s primary, but I also listen to music & podcasts and eat lunch at my desk so that I can read to stay up to date on things. When I can’t do this, I actually get uncomfortable. It’s a bad way to be. Thus, I would like to meditate to improve my focus. Why don’t I just do it? I can’t overcome the catch 22 of “wasting time” meditating in order to make better use of the rest of my day. Take ten minutes and breathe with my eyes closed? I’ll breathe with my eyes open and reading Arch Daily, thank you very much. Well, anyway, this is all the stuff I wish I didn’t feel compelled to read on a daily basis.
Talk Radio: I don’t have an awfully long commute, it’s about 20 minutes most days. In the car I usually flip back and forth between WDVE and WXDX for my morning show fix. Frankly, the DVE morning show isn’t what it used to be. To be fair, I have fond memories of it from when I was a kid, so listening to it now is like that terrible feeling of going back and watching TV you liked when you were a kid and finding out it doesn’t hold up. Basically I hate morning radio, but what am I going to do, drive in silence with nothing but my own thoughts? I’m not a psycho. I’ll also occasionally listen to The Fan for sports coverage, which is sometimes OK.
Music: When music is what I’m after I listen to WYEP almost exclusively. I think their programming is called “adult alternative”, whatever that means. I’m pretty sure there is a bin of adjectives that music writers just reach into whenever they need to describe a new genre or type of programming. Anyway, it’s good, and they play songs on a once-a-day basis, not a once-per-hour basis, which is nice. Sometimes I’ll listen to WRCT, the radio station out of Carnegie Mellon University (my alma mater). It’s a crapshoot, sometimes they have cool stuff on like heavy metal or Portuguese pop music, other times it’s talk programming I can’t get into. My internet radio provider of choice is Slacker Radio, ever since Pandora capped monthly listening at 40 hours. I do have a taste for pop music, too, which I sate with about two hour’s worth of Top 40 radio every month or so. After that I’ve heard the new Taylor Swift single twice, probably some Neon Trees, Rihanna, Pit Bull and, inexplicably, the Lumineers and Mumford and Son, and then I’m good until the next month.
Podcasts: If I lived on a desert island and could only have one form of media I would pick podcasts. Then I would start a podcast called the Desert Island podcast (D:i Podcast for short) and end each one with a desperate plea for help. In the meantime I would listen to the WTF Podcast, Radiolab, This American Life, 99% Invisible, Planet Money, DnA, and How To Do Everything like I already do. I don’t know if this counts as a podcast, but I sometimes like to listen to radio plays, like War of the Worlds, Brave New World, anything with “world” in the title. There’s a great archive of two sister shows called Escape! and Suspense! that I occasionally tap into. They’re the best because they still have the sponsorships in the audio so you get old commercials for wine and car batteries with your radio drama, which really completes the experience. I also occasionally listen to Design Matters, but it’s not my favorite.
News: Once I get into work I listen to Morning Edition Morning Edition (carried locally by WESA, but I stream it from NPR). Outside of that I read the Economist (which I’ve also mentioned before). When there is something crazy happening (like with all the tragic events in Boston) or when I need a change of pace, I’ll do the New York Times or the Washington Post. I also watch the Daily Show most nights, which is way better than any other television news. And yes, the Daily Show counts as news.
Blogs: I find blogs to be the best way to keep up with design-related media. Magazines are alright, too, but I like the diversity of blogs. In addition to the blogs written by friends of mine that I’ve mentioned before, I also read Life of an Architect and Coffee with an Architect, and both have been inspirational for me in starting my own blog. Modative has one of the best blogs done by an architectural firm, it’s just too bad they don’t update more often. Design Milk is a great digest of a wide variety of design-y things. Colossal is also great for daily updates related to awesome artwork and installations. Design Observer has really great, long, thoughtful pieces on their site which I love to read when I have the time. They’re like the New Yorker of design blogs. BLDGBLOG is similar, more architecture focused, and very distinctive in style, usually focusing on a unique building condition and zooming way out to speculate on the big idea that makes a given image or project compelling. Most recently, I started reading Steeltown Anthem, which is a great Pittsburgh blog. Too many exclamation points. Still good, though. Random thought: plug-in for Firefox and/or Google Chrome that displays all exclamation points as periods. That’s a free idea for whoever develops plug-ins. I’d download it.
That’s more or less it. If you want to teach me to meditate, let me know in the comments. If you want to enable my media addiction by giving me more stuff to read, then go away, you’re not my true friend. But leave a comment anyway, in case I need one last fix.
Editor’s note: this post was almost late because I was having so much fun composing the logos up there. I arranged them by group, sized roughly by how much time I devote to each one on a weekly basis. I think it’s a neat composition to look at. Also, I think I need a logo now, all the cool kids seem to have them.