My Favorite Podcasts

My Favorite Podcasts

If you know me, you know that I do a weekly podcast with a friend called Men in Gorilla Suits. Men in Gorilla Suits is a [sometimes] philosophical look at pop culture. (Sometimes we’re anything but philosophical.) I also have a novel out as a podcast, which also hangs out at Podiobooks.com.

But I don’t just make podcasts — I also listen to a handful regularly. (Since I pay the bills writing, I can’t really listen to as many podcasts as I’d like because I can’t listen to people talk while writing. Also, my commute is only 10 minutes each way to work, and I work from home half the time. So when I listen to podcasts, it’s time dedicated solely for listening — there is no multitasking involved.)

Someone recently asked me what I listened to, so I figured I’d share.

My Favorite Podcasts

Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project podcastStill Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

This is one of the podcasts I will drop things for to listen to. It’s not just because I’ve watched a lot of Mythbusters in the past…I just love people who make things — and Adam, Norm, and Will make things.

But it’s much more than that. For me, the people behind the show not only make things…but they talk about travel, reading, and so much more.

Even if you don’t like Mythbusters, give it a try. The only podcast that’s ever made me think, “Yeah, I would pay for the premium content for this…”

Favorite Episode(s):

Getting On with James Urbaniak podcastGetting On with James Urbaniak

If you do not know who James Urbaniak is…FOR SHAME!!! Just kidding! (Not really.)

James is the voice of Dr. Thaddeus Venture in The Venture Bros. More than that, you may have seen him in things you watch and love (and not even known it).

I cannot even describe the brilliance. It’s so brilliant, you might argue with me that it’s brilliant at all (bearing in mind that I am 6′ 3″ and built like a defensive tackle). But seriously: brilliant!

Favorite Episode(s):

A Tiny Sense of AccomplishmentA Tiny Sense of Accomplishment podcast

Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter write like badasses. And I am sooooooooo grateful for the mighty Lisa Eckstein for recently telling me about this podcast…that’s fast become an all-time fave!

You want readings of works in progress — you’ve got it! You want funny commentary about everyday life — it’s there. Interviews with cool, creative people? They have that covered.

Really, there’s nothing bad I can say about this podcast. It might be one of the few that, at times, reaches the level of all-time best things ever recorded. Yes, it’s THAT good!

Favorite Episode(s):

Cheston, Applied Science, and Star Anna (Jess Walters reading “Cheston” would make this worth PAYING for…and you get it FREE!!! That line about 20-year-old scotch is wonderful!)

Psalms, Spokane, Stusser, and Seeping Gunk (I really DO like Sherman Alexie, but Jess Walter’s poem about Trader Joe’s is the star of this episode.)

Jess Walter Is Taking His Talents to the Grave, With Special Guest John Sirois

Nerdist podcastThe Nerdist

In the nerd world/geek world (listen to the episode with Wired’s Chris Anderson for a discussion about nerd vs. geek), being there first counts to some. I do not hold that philosophy, but if I did — I win against MOST Nerdist listeners.

While unemployed, I discovered this podcast on its second episode (the one with Drew Carey). I don’t think there’s a podcast I’ve listened to more.

I’ll go ahead and say it: one of the few podcasts that’s brought me to tears it’s so touching at times. The ONLY podcast that’s made me tear up from laughter AND sentiment in the same show. Truly one of the best, even though it’s now big and Hardwick has a media empire (and in some geek circles, that means I must now hate it…but I never will).

Favorite Episode(s) (HOW CAN I CHOOSE JUST ONE?!?!?!):

  • Drew Carey (The one that started it all for me!)
  • Rob Zombie (Think you multitask? Think again!)
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (When JGL realizes this isn’t a normal press interview, it becomes a beautiful talk.)
  • Andy Serkis (Want to learn what being different and working hard can get you? Listen!)
  • Grant Morrison (When he talks about Superman…damn!)
  • Mike Mignola (One of the all-around best talks about doing your thing I’ve ever heard!)
  • Billy West (What can you learn from a voice actor about ANYTHING you are doing, no matter what it is? More than you can probably imagine!)
  • Billy Hardwick (Chris Hardwick interviews his father. A beautiful episode.)

On Being podcastOn Being

If you know me, you know I’m an atheist. Solidly…all my life. There has never been a time (nor will there ever be a time) that I believe in a god of any sort.

But I’m not a dick about it.

On Being is definitely spiritual at times, but it’s also beautiful. Just as I’m not a dick about atheism, I don’t mind people talking about faith…as long as they aren’t dicks about it. On Being does that well…and more times than not, it’s just about reflective moments we can all love — no matter what we believe (or don’t believe).

Favorite Episode(s):

OtherPpl podcastOtherppl with Brad Listi

If you like reading and authors, you should be listening!

I can’t describe what I love about this podcast, other than it’s like when The Nerdist interviews authors without the trademark Nerdist stuff. That may or may not make sense to you, and it is praise for both shows.

Definitely one of the better podcasts out there interviewing authors.

Favorite Episode(s) (Some of he best interviews (Jim Lynch, George Saunders, and Susan Orlean) require a premium account. But still…):

  • Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I’ve read that last page over 100 times! Seriously! I just got up and read it again. It’s THAT good!)
  • Dan Chaon (I would not mind being Dan Chaon for a day.)
  • Austin Kleon

Evolution Talk podcastEvolution Talk

A recent edition (because it’s a relatively new podcast), Rick Coste’s Evolution Talk has quickly become my favorite new podcast. I put it up there with A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. It’s that good.

One of the few scripted podcasts I’ll listen to (think “being there,” instead of just being talked at), Coste does such a damn good job with this podcast that it’s almost ridiculous! (And his output of other shows and videos will make even a productive person feel puny!)

The production of this show is wonderful; the way it’s presented makes one think of the potential for the medium.

(Oh yeah…Rick also does Philosophy Walk, which is also mighty impressive. He might be the only podcaster I’d follow into battle!)

Favorite Episode(s):

Grammar Girl podcastGrammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty is kinda badass.

I make a living writing, and have for some time, and these short podcasts always leave me thinking about better writing.

You might think, “But I’m not a writer.” If you wrote even one email or posted on a social network in the last week, you need to listen to this show!

Favorite Episode(s):

Too many! Just go to the site!

Freakonomics podcastFreakonomics

I heard the podcast before watching the documentary.

The documentary made me realize these guys think in some really cool ways. (Even when I have an opposing view, I love the way they lay things out.)

You can say this is about economics, but it’s really a show about how humans look at…everything. With something that solid, how can you not listen?

Favorite Episode(s):

Like Grammar Girl, there are too many to list. Just hit the archives and have at it!

Intro Machine podcastIntro Machine | Building Better Podcasts

Another newer podcast. I met Ian at Podcast Movement 2014, and he was torn between a couple shows.

When he mentioned Intro Machine, I — and others waiting for a session at the conference to start — told him that Intro Machine sounded great!

We were not wrong…

Favorite Episode(s):

They’re short, so just listen. (I like the How to Make a Thing episode…but really, all of them are good. And there’s a bit more than sound at the end of each episode that makes the show about more than just production.)

The Gary Leland Show podcastThe Gary Leland Show

Gary Leland is a cool guy. Seriously.

Gary started selling blinds door-to-door in the 80s, and in the earlier part of the 90s…sold wallpaper ONLINE…when everyone told him it was a dumb move. It wasn’t, and Gary now has his own little entrepreneurial empire (that really leans toward fast-pitch softball. Seriously)

I shy away from entrepreneurs interviewing entrepreneurs, but Gary makes even talks with people I’m not too fond of something worth listening to. And you would be hard-pressed to meet a cooler, more genuine person. Gary’s the real deal, and I would say that even if he wasn’t a friend.

Favorite Episode(s):

Cash Car Convert podcastCash Car Convert

I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to reading and thinking about money. I read Your Money or Your Life, and I was good. (Full disclosure: I have not read the version I linked to, and the book can be sumarized like this: figure out what your time is worth for every hour of your life…and decide if that 2.5 hours in traffic and business travel and time away from all you would rather be doing is really worth it!)

James Kinson is one of those truly good people…so I’m glad he has a podcast. It’s about much more than buying used cars/driving your existing car for a decade or more to put your money elsewhere. It’s about finances, but it’s also about being decent and living a good life.

Like On Being mentioned above, it’s one of a few podcasts that I don’t turn off when it gets more spiritual. It’s always with purpose, and I can see the parallels in the life I live. James is just a mighty good person! (And yes, I know him…but knowing him does not change that one bit.)

Favorite Episode(s):

Podcasts I’ve Listened to (and Mean to Listen to More Regularly)

Radiolab podcastRadiolab

A good friend told me to listen to an episode with They Might Be Giants.

Other friends have told me to listen.

Hell, Laura Mills mentioned the show in this blog entry, and I am convinced you will not find a more intelligent and reflective Millennial on the planet! So…I need to listen more!

Favorite Episode(s):

It Might Be Science

This American Life podcastThis American Life

Psst…Maybe you’ve heard about this show :)

Maybe you saw this video about how to listen to podcasts.

This is one of those shows that people will miss decades down the line when Ira Glass is no longer around. I don’t know why I go through periods of not listening, and then consuming like a fiend…

Favorite Episode(s):

WTF with Marc Maron podcastWTF With Marc Maron

Sure, you can say, “He’s crass,” or whatever you want…but Marc Maron is rather badass.

I read fiction because I want real, and I love that Maron freely admits that he was a complete asshole in so many ways in his past.

More than that, I love that his redemption came as one of the podcasters out there to pave the way for the rest of us. Like him or not, those of us podcasting will probably never have the success Maron’s made for himself. For that reason alone, his interviews are worth listening to.

Favorite Episode(s):

Remembering Robin Williams (A beautiful interview)

Skate to Create podcastSkate to Create

What if I told you a small group of skaters thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a business podcast…that focused on skate culture and how that led to entrepreneurs making a living doing what they love within skateboarding?”

You might think, “I’m not sure about that…”

Regardless of where you stand, this is one of the most genuine and focused shows I’ve heard about turning what you love into a business.

Favorite Episode(s):

The Starters Club podcastThe Starters Club

Confession: I would go as far as saying I loathe with the passion of 10,000,000 white-hot suns podcasts with an entrepreneur interviewing other entrepreneurs.

I mostly feel that way because it all comes off like a big friggin’ circle jerk, with “Entrepreneur A” interviewing “Entrepreneur B,” whom every other “Entrepreneur” has interviewed 20-times over already. It all sounds the same, and the industry it’s spawned is even worse than the shows feeding the beast!

Erin Smith is actually an entrepreneur. She’s not just saying, “I’m en entrepreneur,” because she has a podcast — she has a podcast because she’s started several successful businesses. Sure, they may not be the kinds of things I want to do, but between her weekly tips and interviews, I can see how what she talks about can apply to being a full time writer.

Favorite Episode(s):

Compassion Plans podcastCompassion Plans

I like genuine things.

The handful of episodes of Compassion Plans I’ve listened to are genuine.

That alone makes it one of the shows I go to when I’m done with my absolutely must-listen-to shows!

Favorite Episode(s):

How to Disrupt Compassionately with Evo Terra

Marketing is Compassion with Tad Hargrave

Running Over the Debt Monster with James Kinson

 

Some Thoughts about Superstition and Panic

Some Thoughts about Superstition and Panic

Every time I fly — as I step aboard the plane — I say to myself, “This is the plane I’m going to die on.”

Not because I believe that; rather, because I don’t.

I’ve mentioned that I do this to some people and they were absolutely appalled that I’d do such a thing…that I was somehow tempting fate. Worse, that with a mere thought…I am putting hundreds of lives in danger each time I fly.

And yet, each time I fly, I land safely.

But What If…

Now that I’ve shared this information, if I’m ever on a plane that does not land safely, people can say, “It’s all his fault. Had he simply not tempted fate, all those people would be alive…”

What gets me about superstition is that it’s a one-way street. By saying to myself, “This is the plane I’m going to die on,” each time I fly, people who believe ridiculous things (it is ridiculous to think that my mere thought can bring down a plane) are allowed to say, “See?!” should the incredibly remote possibility that I die in a plane crash occur. But yet, if I live to be 100 and say to the same people, “So…gonna admit you’re wrong and have let fear dictate your life?” there’s always an excuse.

You didn’t fly enough…

Somebody prayed harder than your thoughts…

It will catch up with you in some other way…

Planes Do Not Crash Because of Thoughts

A good friend took a flight in a small plane as a teenager because he thought flying would be cool. The plane crashed, and he was the only survivor.

Many would say, “That’s a warning to never fly again!”

Others might say, “Well, he got his crash out of the way…he’s safe to fly.” (As though we all get a plane crash or two in our lives.)

Those of the latter mindset might even go as far as saying that in all the flights this friend has taken that the reason he’s survived is because he crashed and lived on his very first flight.

All these thoughts would be rather insulting. This friend was recently certified to fly the 787 Dreamliner. To attribute an experience that happened on his very first flight to his success as a pilot is silly. Worse: to think for a moment that me thinking, “This is the plane I’m going to die on,” can negate all the years of training pilots go through is insulting to the profession.

Even worse than that, I’m sure there are people out there, who — if they read this blog entry — would hope I die on a plane just to prove their point.

Superstition is a powerful thing, and it doesn’t surprise me that many people I know who are very superstition are also prone to panic.

OMG, It’s The Ebola! Run Away!!!

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. If you’ve watched the news, recently, you know that Ebola is running out of control in the area and this will be the last thing I ever write! (At least if you stay glued to the news or some social media feeds, you might think like that.)

In early September, I logged out of Facebook to take a break until I’m done with the novel I’m currently writing. (And also to make sure I was away during election season, when all that I dislike about Facebook seems even more amplified.)

I woke up early this morning and wandered to the living room. I don’t watch the news, but I turned it on. The general message seemed to be: “OH MY GOD, THIS IS AN EPIDEMIC!!!” followed by, “don’t panic!!!”

I’ve seen very little mention of Ebola on my Google Plus, Tumblr, and Twitter feeds. A confession: I logged into Facebook this morning.

DOOM!!! DOOM, I SAY!!!

The number of posts about Ebola was staggering. Worse: looking at the posts of some of the more superstitious people I know…it would almost be funny if it weren’t so sad. One person telling a friend in the area: “MOVE NOW! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!” Not as a joke — this was said in all seriousness, and it was followed by, “Of course, that may not matter — it will be everywhere soon.”

I saw somebody saying it’s the government…that they want to reduce the population by 95%. Again, said in all seriousness by a normally superstitious person.

The best: links to places saying, “Take these vitamins to be safe, and stock up on all this gear for when it gets bad!” Conveniently, the sites people were getting their “real facts about Ebola” from just-so-happen to also sell the specials vitamins and gear that will make you one of the lone survivors of the Ebolapocalypse.

Comment after comment like that; people feeding into fear.

(I didn’t even have the courage to gaze at the feeds of people I’ve hidden.)

A Prediction

I do not believe in psychics, but I’ll make a prediction based on reason: I will not die in a plane crash.

I’ll make another prediction: the United States will not crumble under Ebola’s grip.

Let’s go for three: President Obama will not impose martial law followed by Sharia law before the 2016 elections to stay in power, no matter what your favorite conspiracy “news” website says.

And that’s what gets me about superstition and panic: none of these things will happen. The people who fear these things, however, will not say, “Huh? None of those things I truly believed would happen actually happened. Maybe I shouldn’t be so superstitious and afraid.”

Instead, they will go on to the next scary thing and continue to be angry when people point out just how ridiculous it all is.

Look Up, Down, or Not at All

Look Up, Down, or Not at All

Do you remember the Look Up video?

Now I’ve been seeing Can We Auto-Correct Humanity shared quite a bit:

They are well-done videos…that seem to assume a lot about people and the way they use technology.

Yes, My Phone is Out

If you see my wife and me having coffee and tea and our phones are out, you’d be wrong to assume we are a couple that doesn’t communicate.

After work, the first thing we usually do is sit on the couch and talk…sometimes for hours. We walk most days, and on those walks we either talk or walk in silence. But if we’re getting coffee and tea, you’ll usually see us with our phones out and scrawling in notebooks and talking. When we get coffee and tea, they are usually times when we have agreed to talk about webpages and plans, so yes: phones come out as we look up information.

Technology is Not the Problem

We dedicated an episode of the weekly podcast I do to technology. We definitely talked about how we know some people who cannot go very long at all without bringing out their phone and looking at social media, texting, and things like that. But we also discussed that the problem is not technology (or even the people using the technology).

The Problem is Our Own Perception

If I see a couple in a restaurant on their phones, I don’t know why they aren’t talking to each other. It’s presumptuous of me to assume they can’t go ten minutes without checking their phones.

I don’t know if they are visiting the area and looking up directions to their next stop, or if some family thing is going on and they are keeping track of a situation. I don’t know if they are on the verge of separating and they are looking at things from their lawyers. But I do know this: humans are good at looking at a couple with their phones out at dinner and amplifying that. Suddenly, a handful of people looking at their phones at a restaurant becomes, “I went out to eat and everyone was on their phones! Nobody communicates face-to-face anymore — we’re doomed!”

When I go to restaurants, the majority of people I see are still talking to each other with their phones put up. To say things like, “No one communicates face to face anymore!” would mean restaurants and other places people meet up would be disappearing at an alarming rate.

I live in a small town, but if you see a new building going up — chances are — it’s a restaurant. People are meeting face-to-face probably more than any other time in history.

Another Thing We Do Not Consider

I know a lot of reclusive people. For whatever reason, they are not the biggest fans of face-to-face communication. For these people, social media and other things puts them in touch with people who have similar interests, even though it’s not face-to-face over dinner or in a living room. Is that any less real than trying to talk to someone in a loud restaurant or bar?

And let’s not forget all the people who are alone or disabled, and how being online — for the first time ever — has provided millions with the ability to communicate and finally be heard.

Maybe that person on SnapChat is sharing a story with someone who cannot get out. I know I will never see all the places I want to see before I die, so friends sharing their travels online allows me to at least get a taste of a place…and when I travel, I try to share for the same reason.

The Assumption

There is a big assumption in these videos…that, when I see someone post a photo of their new, big house (and I’m writing this in a tiny room that doubles as storage space in a small apartment) it makes me feel bad about myself. But it doesn’t — I’m always happy for my friends. (Hell, even people I don’t particularly like who have nice things…good for them!)

I know, I know…there are studies that show some see people posting about their good fortune as bragging, but guess what: there were jealous people long before social media came along! Those kinds people will always see everything as an attack against them and all they believe they don’t have…and it doesn’t matter if it’s seen online or in person.

What is Wrong with You

Really, it comes down to this for me: how is that person on their phone in a public place hurting me or society to the point that I have any right to judge their use of their device? Sure, if you play Words with Friends hours a day and complain to me about how you don’t have time to write, I’m going to laugh in your face and tell you the time is there if you want it to be there. But if a person wants to play games on their phone for hours each day, more power to them! It’s not my place to tell others how to live their lives, and even more — it’s quite presumptuous for me to say, “What’s right for me is how you must live your life as well!”

I don’t watch much TV, but I don’t care if you do. I don’t play video games, but I don’t care if you do. I don’t go to clubs and bars and stand around nodding at acquaintances, but I don’t care if you do.

(And if we have the right to say, “This is how you must use technology!” then everyone reading this should turn off all push notifications on their phones. Turn off all sound — even the vibrate feature. Only look at messages, email, and other things when you’ve blocked out time to do so. That’s what I do, and I now expect you to do the same!)

If You See Me On My Phone

I am a writer. I love solitude. The last thing I would want to do in a long line is pull out my phone and distract myself when I could be thinking. I rarely listen to music while driving (or even at home) because I’m usually thinking about stories and where I want to take them. Chances are, I spend more time thinking about things than you do — I live inside my head.

I also love people. I’m the guy who gets along with the weird person you talk poorly about when meeting with friends face-to-face. I’ve picked up hitchhikers and spent time talking to homeless people most others just pass by. I meet up with friends face-to-face, and phones stay put away. All that, and I still spend a lot of time online.

I make no distinction between the online world and the “real world.” It’s all real to me. I’d put money down that I’ve had some deeper conversations about writing and other things online than you’ve had during face-to-face meetups where you’ve fumed about people who spend too much time on their phones.

If you see me on my phone, feel free to think, “Oh, there’s another person who can’t avoid looking at Facebook!” or, “Why can’t someone just enjoy a view without taking a photo?!” Feel free to say to yourself (or to your friends), “That’s just like the Look Up and the Can We Auto-Correct Humanity videos.”

You’d be wrong, but you’re free to think what you want.

Meanwhile, when I am on my phone, it’s with purpose — and I’m probably being far more productive in that moment than you are getting bent out of shape that society has lost another person to a tiny screen.

What is the Best Social Network

What is the Best Social Network

So…Ello. It’s new, and for some reason, even people who said, “I’m tired of more social networks!” jumped onto the new thing.

(Okay, so one person I know declared it ugly and canceled his account not even two hours later. Others have praised it as the most pure thing they’ve seen, free of all that makes “those other,” social sites terrible.)

Battle Lines

I recently saw someone on their preferred social network take a shot at Twitter, saying it is worthless (because, it seems, it didn’t work for them; therefore, we should all join in the hatefest). At the same time — while attending WordCamp DFW last weekend — I heard people talk about business deals, new jobs, and great friendships that came their way…all started through Twitter.

Google Plus seems to get knocked quite a bit in online news articles and by others, but despite inflated numbers — when factoring for just active users — there are people using the network. When I tell people I like Google Plus, many just don’t get it. More than that, though…many almost talk about the network as though its mere mention has offended them.

Oh, I tried that for awhile and there was nothing there. It sucked, so I went back to [preferred social network].

Others were not as eloquent:

That place %#@! sucked!

(For me, the Podcasters community alone is worth Google Plus.)

Grrrr!!! Grrr, I Say!

I can understand the pull toward one social network over another, but not the anger or need to say, “My network is better than yours!”

I’m over one month into a break from Facebook. I’m not fond of Facebook. Outside of being in touch with a few friends in other states and countries who don’t use other networks or email, it’s just not my thing. But…just because it’s not my thing, doesn’t mean it can’t be your thing. I know several people who have made businesses take off through Facebook. Just as I’ve seen others do the same with Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Plus, Twitter, and — I’m sure at some point soon — Ello.

The Sad Fight

If you’re an adult praising one network and knocking others, it’s almost as sad as the iPhone vs. Android, Mac vs. PC, and all those other battles.

It’s not much better than Star Wars vs. Star Trek or Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings. Don’t even get me started on one sports team over another.

I know many people who have made nice livings by what they’ve made on Macs and many others who have made a life for themselves from PCs. I know people who have found ways to make Twitter work for them, and others who have made other networks work for them. They are all people who seem too busy making things happen than to have time becoming angered by what others are doing elsewhere.

It’s sad, really, this anger — and shows a certain insecurity when one feels the need to say the thing that works for them is the best and that all other things just “suck.”

The Best Social Network

The best social network is the one that’s right for you. John Green loves Tumblr, and — chances as — John Green is far more successful than most praising one network over another for business purposes. (If you didn’t rack up millions last year and raise over $300,000 for clean water in Africa in recent weeks, you lose the “Tumblr is useless!” argument.)

I know a photographer who owes the existence of their successful photography business to Facebook; meanwhile, Trey Ratcliff isn’t hurting on Google Plus with his approaching 8 million followers. The writer behind Shit My Dad Says met with more success than many social media “gurus” praising one network over another…and he owes it largely to Twitter.

Others have made a name for themselves on Instagram; Will Sasso is probably more famous than you, and millions of people have watched the things he’s done on Vine.

The point: there is no best social network. Resourceful people have met with success on all networks that have come…and even gone. (MySpace was great for comedians…before they seemed to jump to Twitter.) The best part: the people behind the the success stories don’t seem to feel a burning need to spend time talking about what didn’t work for them with disdain…because they’re too busy enjoying what works for them.

Some Thoughts on Strength (i.e. Not Afraid to Say I Am a Feminist)

Some Thoughts on Strength (i.e. Not Afraid to Say I Am a Feminist)

I am a humanist, and by default, that makes me a feminist.

I used to feel weird with that term…it seemed akin to saying, “I know the struggle, sisters!” when I really don’t.

But in ways…while I can’t say I know the struggle completely, I can at least sympathize.

Single Mom; Big Sister

My parents divorced when I was five years old. My father became a summer thing — someone I saw during summer break; someone who had little bearing on the man I became. The women in my life shaped the man I’d later become. I’m proud of the man I became, and I owe much of that to my mother and my sister.

My father resented that in ways. During summers, he tried turning me into the angry bigot he became, and when I would not abide, he blamed it on my mother — even though it was my own innate morals that prevented me from being swayed.

In that move — blaming my mother for me not becoming the son he wanted — it became clear to me that there were men in the world who would brand certain women Jezebels. If only my father could have seen the angry drunk I saw.

(For all my father’s faults, he was a very loving man with us — even when drunk…which was kind of all the time. It is not my intent to slam on those long gone who cannot defend themselves, but I also refuse to elevate the dead to some higher stature simply because they are gone. My dad and I had our share of arguments, and they all ended with him feeling shamed and me feeling bad that I scolded a man I believed I should have held in much higher regard.)

Life Was Not Perfect

My mom was not always there for us. Some would hold a grudge, but as I grew older and my mom became my friend, I got it. My mom was handed the shit end of the stick. My father paid $120 a month in child support for my sister and me and, if he didn’t feel like taking us for the weekend, my mom was left with the fallout. My mom was also flawed — most of us are when we are younger, so this is not a case of “Mom was better than Dad.” By their own admissions, they both — at times — professed that they should not have had children together. (This never bothered me, but it bothered my sister.)

My mom was a keypunch operator. By that, I mean she punched keys on cards that were inserted into rudimentary computers to run statistics for an insurance company. She busted her ass while my father was sometimes in between jobs and sometimes couldn’t pay the $120 a month he owed for my sister and me. My mom, to my knowledge, never gave him shit for that.

Da Bitchez!!!

My father, as much as he loved me, was a bigot and a misogynist. My mother was the bitch who left him; my step mother was a cunt who deserved to die when she left him. Everything was everybody’s fault but his own.

This was my male role model.

Even sadder, I know more than a handful of men who make my father seem like Jane Fonda.

I never understood branding a gender as harpies when I could look at the men throwing out that name and see all their faults. Even today, I know men who look at the rare exception of a woman screwing over a guy and saying that’s the way “all bitches be,” and getting mad at those of us who say, “Are you calling my wife and all the other women in my life ‘bitches?'”

When Friends Breed

When I was 20, a friend announced he got his girlfriend pregnant. It was a boy…and almost 25 years later, they are still together — with another boy and a girl…smart young men and a young women about to have their shot at ruling the world.

A very good friend has two daughters; my best friend has a daughter and wonders what the future has in store for her. I like to think that they will have the shot I have — maybe even more.

How can a man look at the women and girls in his life he cares for and not call himself a feminist?!

Feminism

I saw a quote by John Marcotte today:

John Marcotte quote: "Don't allow men who hate women to define feminism as women who hate men."

Check out http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/feminist-man-know-john-marcotte-founder-heroic-girls/

I don’t get it: any man who has lived long enough has, at some point, met a woman who’s important to him. For me, early on, it was my mother and my sister. I’m not saying they are/were perfect (my sister died when I was 33 and she was 38), but they were vital to who I am. My wife and I have been together for more than 22 years — how could I not want the best for her?! I look at female friends and the daughters of friends — and to even think they are somehow less than male friends would make me a loser if I felt that way.

I do not feel the need to protect these women any more than I feel the need to protect any friend, but I see these women taking more shit than the men and guys I know.

And that’s why I don’t mind saying I am a feminist. It still feels a bit weird, I’ll admit. It’s a word that I feel I can’t lay claim to because…well, I pee standing up — and while I do not have the privilege of some white males, I’d be lying if I said I’ve lived a life without some privilege.

The Cockroach Effect

There are people in the world who seem very loud: tea party ranters, flat-earth embracers, and others of that ilk. But it’s a death rattle — the prattling of those who feel their easy ride to a snug and smug life is being denied.

They are being buried, lost in the wake of even young conservatives who see that their gay friends marrying is not the end of the world. They are loud because they’re living on borrowed time and being buried by progress.

Much like that, men who hate women fume. They say women who are raped are “lying bitches,” and they turn their 8th-grade views of women into a false realities and then scream that they are being oppressed more than any other group on the planet when their hate is called out for what it is.

As long as tiny man-boys like that exist, I will have no problem saying, “Yes, I am a feminist!”

On Being Prepared

On Being Prepared

I like the Twitter account for Everyday Carry. My daily carry is very basic: clothing on body, glasses on face, wedding ring on finger. I suppose those are everyday wearings. What I actually carry is simple: my smart phone in my left front pocket. In my front right pocket, a keyring with my car key, apartment key, and mailbox key. In my back left pocket, my wallet (which is not filled with much).

One could say I prefer to travel travel light.

The Things We Carry

Looking at Everyday Carry, I see knives and lighters and string and other tools carried in pockets. When I was younger, I used to carry a knife, string, lighter…everything I could — as if I believed I would find myself suddenly lost in the wild and in need of these things. I carried every key I owned. If someone needed a metric screwdriver, I could summon one from a pocket!

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I rarely used the things I carried. It was more like this: why would I need to start a bonfire or tie up bad guys with twine when I was simply walking up the street to the bus stop?

Just in Case

Someone once asked me why I don’t own a gun. They assumed it was some deep political statement. My answer was simple: “I don’t feel a need to own a gun.”

Guns are fun to shoot, but I prefer archery to shooting guns. If I lived in a bad neighborhood, I very well might own a gun. But I live on the upper floor in a quiet apartment complex in a town with very little crime. I fear the weather more than I fear waking up to a criminal in the apartment — and I don’t fear the weather, even during spring in Texas.

When I explained this way of thinking about gun ownership, the person I talked to said, “Yeah, but just in case, wouldn’t you want that security?”

I look at it like this: I feel more secure without a gun in the apartment than this person feels with a gun in their home. This person, every night — on some level — thinks about a home invasion as they set their gun on their night stand. Me? I just go to sleep.

The Unseen Carry

I realized something about the need I once had to carry so many things, “Just in case.” With those physical objects, I carried a head full of strange what-ifs. I wasted energy thinking about unlikely situations in which I saved the day with a magnifying glass, bottle opener, and a plastic toothpick.

Once I stopped carrying so much, my head cleared. I realized there is a lot to be said for trusting my abilities to think differently if I needed to solve a problem that string, a knife, or wire clippers could solve. (That, and I stopped breaking fingernails by trying to open obscure tools on my Swiss Army Knife that were in there so tight!)

Be Prepared

Many people see the motto “Be prepared,” and feel that their preparation should come in the form of carrying things for those “Just in case” moments that will — most likely — never come. “Be prepared,” to me, means having confidence to trust yourself to find solutions to things as situations arise — not fretting and running every doomsday scenario through your head that — if they ever happened — would still not work out as planned. Being prepared means looking back on all the things I wasn’t sure I could do and remembering that I can’t think of a time things didn’t work out because I can adapt.

These days, I don’t carry much at all and, because of that, even unseen baggage falls to the side.