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Wordless Wednesday's Best Advice Ever


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Outsmarting my Keurig Drawer

Henry is so much smarter than I am...36 cup drawer? I think not. Try 48:


How many K-cups can you fit into your drawer?

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Podcasts Part 3

I have written two previous posts about podcasts, Podcasts, Part 1 and Podcasts, Part 2, and today I am going to share another couple of podcasts that I can't stop listening to. I'm also going to share some specific podcast episodes that I think are especially excellent in my next post.




Radiolab almost defies description, but I'll try. According to Radiolab itself, "Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience." Huh. After reading that description, I guess I can see why it is so hard to describe it! In any case, there are so many different kinds of topics covered that it would be really hard to try to talk about them. Two of my favorites are one that talks about "Patient Zero," with the most attention paid to HIV's Patient Zero (trust me - you probably have no idea who that individual is!) and "Ally's Choice," which gets to the heart of what exactly decides a person's race - genetic makeup or choice?



Radio Diaries is kind of like Radiolab. You may have heard it on All Things Considered. It is the stories of real people in their own words. I guess, if you've read my previous offerings, you can see that I have a penchant for that kind of podcast. They have a series called "Teenage Diaries," but my favorite episodes are the stories we wouldn't otherwise get to hear. I feel like reality TV has all the teenage diary-type stories I can handle.



Finally, there's Criminal. I have a thing for true crime (people and their stories!). It goes way back to when I was a kid checking out books that I probably shouldn't have checked out. Criminal is a truly well-done podcast, though. They do a good job warning about upcoming sensitive material in case you are not okay with some subjects. The woman who hosts it has a wonderful voice (so much more important than you might think).

Hopefully you've found a new podcast today. Hopefully my list won't keep growing at an exponential rate!




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Podcasts Part 2

A few weeks ago, I blogged about some of my favorite podcasts. Today I want to share five more great podcasts with you. The first one that I just can't stop listening to (apart from the five I have already mentioned) is The History of WWII Podcast by Ray Harris Jr.

 

This podcast is wonderful. I have a degree in history. I read tons of history. I learn many new things every episode. I'll be honest - I haven't done any research on the author of this podcast, so I have no idea who he is. I don't care - he knows his WWII. I can see where some people might find his presentation a little dry, but I don't. I prefer his straight lecture style to the more meandering "entertaining" style of some other podcasts. You won't regret listening to this podcast. Start at the beginning and prepare to binge listen. You may know the ultimate outcome, but you have no idea all the twists and turns that happened along the way.



Documentaries is another one of those awesome BBC podcasts. I swear the BBC has the best radio productions of anyone out there. There are almost 700 episodes at the feed that I linked in the title, and the podcast is updated daily. Documentaries covers...everything. Two of the most recent ones that I listened to dealt with a massive body dump site in Medillin (Columbia) and the 300 year journey of a Stradivarius violin. Listening to Documentaries reminds me of how much I used to love watching 20/20 when I was a kid and it was the only program of its kind on TV (well, there was 60 minutes, but I always kind of thought that show ran a little red, even when I was 10 years old...).


For fun, and definitely not for everyone, there is Thinking Sideways. This is the podcast Therese is currently obsessed with (judge me later - she's 13, and I often credit my own intelligence, high grades, and ridiculously generous scholarships - as in full ride from bachelor's through Ph.D. - to my parents' liberality with what they let me read and listen to, as long as they read and listened to it, too, and we talked about it). Anyway, this podcast would have been shelved in the "900s" in the Dewey Decimal system - the first place I used to look for books when I was a kid (like 999) (or the 100s, it depends). Check it out if you always wonder about Amelia Earhart.



Back to the BBC (because I just can't stay away!), there is Letter from America (N.B. - I have linked only one of the archives here - there are more on the BBC's site). This is a really neat and incredibly long running radio program. I think the BBC has something like 1,500 programs on its site (there were 2,869 broadcasts total!). The show was a program hosted by Alistair Cooke, and its purpose was to give the British people a view of issues that were topical to the U.S. Thus, they present items of interest to us (Americans), but with the idea that they were intended for a different audience. That makes them fascinating to me. It's like listening to BBC broadcasts of WWII, in a way, but not quite, as the point was to acquaint people in the UK with America. I can't explain. Listen. They are wonderful broadcasts.



Finally, and kind of a mashup of a couple of podcasts already mentioned, we have Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time (N.B., in this case, the link is to the archive, and not to the feed). The BBC says that In Our Time explores the history of ideas. That about describes it for me. There are over 650 episodes thus far (it has been airing since 1998), and the show has touched on everything from philosophy, to culture, to history, to more. The format is almost like a talk show, as Mr. Bragg has experts on to discuss the day's topic. Shows I have listened to recently include the alphabet, humanism, Baconian science, Abelard and Heloise, and Avicenna. There are so many more, though! You can download the whole archive, or browse by topic. 

Hopefully, you will find a podcast that will enthrall you the way all of these enthrall me. I am a huge fan of listening to something anytime I am not doing anything that requires my attention or concentration. I listen while I knit, while I am trying to sleep, and (most importantly) when I have a headache. 

What are some of your favorites? I would love to find a new one!


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Happy New Year


My Wordless Wednesday post is one to inspire contemplation, especially by me. I don't make resolutions, but I do have goals for this year. I hope you achieve all of yours.

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An Update on Scribd



I have blogged previously about how much I love Scribd. It started out as a file sharing service a long time ago - a place to upload documents you wanted others to be able to access. It definitely preceded Google Docs. I know I used it way before Google Docs, anyway. In the past couple of years, though, Scribd completely reinvented itself. I found about that reinvention through a Plum District deal. I think I got 6 months of Scribd for something like $20 - I don't know; it was ridiculous. In any case, I was completely hooked. Scribd is now a book subscription service like Kindle Unlimited (which I also love and to which I also subscribe), but even better. Why? They have added audiobooks! Yes, Kindle Unlimited has Audible narration included with some of its books (and lets you purchase the narration at a heavy discount with a whole bunch of others), but Scribd has over 30,000 audiobooks completely independent of its print book selection. In fact, it has many cases of books that have audio, but no print. Given that it's subscription fee is $1 less than KU per month, I say if you have to choose, choose Scribd.




So what are some of the best offerings on Scribd? How about The Boxcar Children on audio? Or The Books of Bayern (and Shannon Hale's other books) in print and audio? My 10 year-old daughter is a huge fan of Lois Duncan's Movie for Dogs, Hotel for Dogs, and News for Dogs audiobooks. She's not old enough for my favorite Lois Duncan books (did anyone else read her teen suspense once upon a time?), which are available in print on Scribd.

Michael (10) "reads like he owns every book in the world" (one of Scribd's catchphrases - which I love because it describes me and my book hoarding/collecting/ADHD self so perfectly) since we got Scribd. Although I always make sure that I have books checked out on Kindle Unlimited for him, he prefers Scribd. Because I can save books to my library (with a special "Kids" collection), he can browse just the books that I have set aside for him. I would definitely not recommend letting kids do an open search on Scribd. Inappropriate results are a definite possibility. In any case, Michael has read hundreds of books on Scribd in every genre. I can do a whole post on books of interest to 10 year-olds if anyone is interested (if so, please do comment).

Do you need to justify Scribd as a homeschooling expense? Let me help you. Check out Princeton University Press's offerings. Or maybe you have younger kids? How about Laurie Carlson's books:



Janis Herbert's books are here, too:


Maybe you have a high schooler about to take the SAT. $8.99/month is a small price to pay for so many SAT prep guides (this is a just a tiny sample):


If you're Catholic, then maybe you, like me, have had your eye on this series, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture:


Not Catholic? There's Bible Commentary for you, too:


Are you studying geography this semester? I love all of Kenneth C. Davis's books. Most of them aren't available on Scribd (I know! I'm so spoiled that I actually get sad when something I want isn't there!), but Don't Know Much About Geography is! So is Ken Jennings's Maphead. Or maybe you want an audiobook to quiz your kids on states and capitals. For all around knowledge, how about the Handy Answer Book Series?


It's probably pretty clear that I could go on like this forever, but the best way to discover Scribd is to go play on it yourself. I have to warn you that if you are a bibliomaniac bibliophile like I am, you will lose far more time than you lose on Pinterest. I don't work for Scribd, although it would be my dream job and if I could work remotely, I would be watching their job postings like a hawk, but the link in the first paragraph will get each of us a free month if you subscribe through it. Don't worry about me, though, because with or without a free month, I am a Scribd subscriber for life. I can't imagine being without it! If you subscribe, let me know what you think.

Just a couple of details: Unlike KU, with Scribd you can be reading as many print/audio books as you want. There are apps for your phone, iPad, computer, and Kindle Fire. 








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Podcasts Part 1

I am one of those people who listened to podcasts years ago. That's probably not surprising, given that I am a huge fan of both talk radio and old time radio. Podcasts are like the love child of that union. After awhile I guess I burned out or missed audio books or something. Recently, though, I was with my sisters and they were talking about their newest obsession, the podcast "Serial." Well, in the course of looking up "Serial," my OCD/hoarding tendencies overcame me and my phone is once more loaded up with podcasts. I think I am currently subscribed to 100. I won't bore you with all 100 (although I would not subscribe to an inferior podcast!), but this post is the first in a weekly series of what I think are the best podcasts for homeschoolers. Each week, I'll discuss five of the best podcasts out there for homeschoolers. In the penultimate week, I'll give you the list of podcasts that aren't necessarily homeschool-related/friendly, but are really great. In the final week, I'll throw in all those podcasts that are my guilty pleasures (the ones I would never let my children listen to).

Yes, it's an oldie, but it is definitely the bestie (did I just coin a phrase?!). Stuff you Missed in History Class (NB - I'm linking the RSS feeds - I know I am awesome for making it so easy for you to subscribe - you're welcome) is just simply terrific. I have a degree in history, and I learn something every single time I listen, even when the subject is one with which I have more than a passing familiarity. If you want to teach your kids without their even being aware of it, just put on this podcast in the car (be aware that some topics are not appropriate for all ages, but the hosts are fairly good about warning of suspect topics at the outset of the podcast - even better, common sense usually tells one when a topic will not be appropriate for kids, but most are just fine). They will be hooked in no time, even those kids who say they hate history. Also check out Stuff to Blow Your Mind and Stuff You Should Know, all brought to you by the awesome website How Stuff Works.

Witness is my new favorite podcast. I can't get enough of it. Each episode is 9 minutes long and covers an event in history through primary source documentation. Often it is through an interview with the person who lived through it. Sometimes it is through the compilation and reading of newspaper or journal accounts. Often it is supplemented with BBC news reports from the time. Best of all, it is a daily podcast and there are archived episodes going back to 2010 (although there are only 41 episodes in 2010). One of the neatest things about it is that it is, of course, a production of the BBC, meaning that the perspective one gets on topics is not Americentric. The best way to understand why it is so great is to give it a listen. It's just terrific.



99% Invisible is a podcast that is hard to describe. It calls itself "A tiny radio show about design, architecture, and the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world." Each 15 minute episode (and there are just under 150 of them) discusses something you've probably not thought about - like the two schools of vexillology (that would be the study of flags), or the design of chairs, or those huge inflatable men used for advertising purposes. The reason I say it is indispensable listening for homeschoolers is that it will give your kids ideas about how to look at the world in unconventional ways. It will show them that there is more to *everything* than meets the eye. It will teach them to seek the story or the deeper meaning behind the everyday object. It's fascinating.


A History of the World in 100 Objects may be familiar to some people as a book, but there is a

companion podcast of 15 minute episodes, each of which is about one of the 100 eponymous objects. Again, just as with the preceding podcast, these are not objects you know a lot about or ones that you would automatically think of if you were to create such a list. The concept is very cleverly executed and it is another one to play for kids who won't realize it's history at all - it just comes across as great stories. As an example, some of the objects covered are a suffragette defaced penny, a throne made of decommissioned weapons, and a Sudanese slit drum. Again, not all episodes are appropriate for all ages.





BackStory is a longer podcast, coming at one hour per episode. Its format is also a little different than the ones presented thus far. Headed up by two historians, each show looks at a specific topic (recent ones include "What Gives," a history of philanthropy and giving in America and "Tyrannophobia," a look at the history of the use and abuse of executive power. The "American History Guys" bring in other historians and experts and even engage callers as they explore the topic over the course of the hour. Again, it's amazing how much I find I don't know (and, I'll admit, it's edifying to find out how much I *do* know!).

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