Monday, January 11, 2010

How I Spend My Commute

A little while ago, Sci Fi Dad posted this comment on one of my posts:

My challenge is on days where work is particularly shit-encrusted I have to both push that out and transform into "Daddy" on my commute home (my commute, mind you, with every stupid person who should never have been given a license in the first place).

I hear you loud and clear, SciFi. Most evenings, I spend 30-35 minutes in the car driving across the San Fernando Valley from my office to my house. I depend on that time to clear my head and get myself into daddy mode. Every so often, my commute gets congested like a nose during flu season and it takes me considerably longer to get to and from work. This is a lot of time to spend in the car, especially if you have a “shit-encrusted day.”

In my query for reader requests, I was asked what I listened to on my commute. I love music. There is nothing better than blasting some great music in the car, singing top notch in the audio cocoon that is the cab of your automobile. But the problem is when I listen to music my brain is still churning. Thoughts about work and the day creep into my head. I replay bad moments over and over. I worry about a project or plan for an upcoming meeting. These are the demons that will prevent me from being a good dad and husband when I'm off the clock.

This is why I don't often listen to music on my commute. I listen to podcasts. Words. Stories. News. Anything that forces my brain to process the ideas it's hearing and keeps it too busy to focus on anything else.

There are hundreds of podcasts out there and I have one for just about every mood I'm in. I find them to be nice, bite-sized pieces of radio, just the right length to finish in a drive or two. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • This American Life – The granddaddy of modern public radio. I only jumped on this bandwagon a few years ago. Don’t know what kept me so long.
  • Radio Lab – This American Life’s nerdy cousin. It’s a slickly edited, science geek-y show that covers science, music and so much more. You will learn things that will blow your mind and force you to rethink some things. (My favorite fun fact from the show: the amount of time you spend with your eyelids closed due to a blink while watching a typical movie is 15 minutes.)
  • I Love Movies – Stoner comedian Doug Benson invites a few fellow comedians on stage to talk about movies. Sometimes they actually get around to talking about movies.
  • The Moth – Stories told live in front of audiences by people from all walks of life. Some are riveting. Some are hilarious. All are true.
  • SModcast – Director Kevin Smith (who is the king of all fanboys) and his buddy, Scott Mosier, sit around and talk about stupid shit for an hour. Sometimes it’s gross and sometimes it’s misinformed. But it’s always really funny. It reminds me of sitting around bullshitting with my friends.
Add a few shows from NPR and you've got my recipe to clear my head to and from work.

If you have trouble letting go at the end of the day, try listening to words instead of music. Maybe they too will help.


SciFi Dad said...


I listen to talk radio on my way in (usually either sports or the local "I'm conservative so that I can piss off people with an IQ above 100" radio station) but my way home is typically music (loud metal with hard beats and screaming voices) driven.

I may try listening to talk on my way home and see if it helps.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I used to love listening to CarTalk. I haven't tuned in since we moved back from Germany so i have no idea if they are still on but even though I know nothing about cars, the show always made me laugh.

ZenMom said...

I've just recently started regularly listening to podcasts on my commute.

It really does help clear away the day!

Since my commute is considerably shorter than yours, I really like the "Quick and Dirty" podcasts from Grammar Girl and her cohorts. You should check them out.

I've also been refreshing my rusty Spanish skills with "Coffee Break Spanish".

The Ricky Gervais podcast has me in freaking stitches with almost every episode. But I need more "fun" ones. So, now I'll have to go check out Radio Lab, et al.


Daddy Geek Boy said...

SciFi...For a second there, I thought you were saying that you were conservative. I can't listen to those cause they get me too angry.

Andrea...Yup, the Car Talk guys are still on the air. We have an appreciation for them since they voice the Rust-ese brothers in the movie "Cars."

Zen...Radio Lab rules. You'll love it. I'll have to check out Grammer Girl. Thanks!

James (SeattleDad) said...

Now that I don't drive Lukas to daycare and will be bussing it I need to start finding good things to listen to. So far it has been new music that I can turn up loud. Though I love the NPR podcasts, and esp This American Life.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

James...You'd love The Moth.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I need to figure out how to even listen to a podcast? is it only something I can get through and Ipod? Or a Satellite radio?

I'm sorry... I should know this. I'm ashamed.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Shelle...You can download them to your computer, listen there, or transfer to an MP3 device. I use iTunes and an iPod. iTunes has a directory of Podcasts, most of them are free. It automatically looks for and downloads new ones every time you boot up the program.

I have an iPod jack in my car and listen that way. Though they could be burned to a CD if need be.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Ummm....what about the days when your commute is spent talking to your lovely little sister???

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Well "Anonymous" obviously those days I don't listen to anything but the sound of your lovely voice.