Monday, October 15, 2012

Sixty-four and three-quarters

I applied for Medicare today. One is eligible at age sixty-five, but you apply three months before that momentous birthday. It's all done online, if the servers work correctly. I had to restart a couple of times. But I got 'er done, have my registration number and will await an avalanche of direct mail offers of Part B coverage.

The irony is that I already have excellent coverage. Now Medicare will pay my HMO to take care of me, but it costs me $100 a month. Go figure.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Podcasts

Yes, an entire year since the last post. Not that I haven't had anything to write, I just haven't written it here. Here's hoping I do better.

One thing I have discovered recently is the world of podcasts. These are web-based audio and some video shows produced by everyone from big-time mainstream Hollywood and New York entities to universities, National Public Radio, and individual academics reading their papers, down to individuals ruminating into a microphone from their kitchens. Radio and television without sponsors, censors, or the FCC. And without time limits. We are accustomed to radio and television shows crammed into time slots further abridged by commercials. NPR doesn't do commercials except during pledge drives. Podcasts do commercials, but they are, so far mercifully brief.

I am able to download podcasts to my iPhone. I can listen at the gym and in the car.

Being an historian I had to find out what history podcasts are available and there are a bunch. But like the study of history generally podcasts are rife with niches like English History and Ancient History. Some consist of an historian just reading his paper on some obscure aspect of the Civil War (I'll listen to that) and others actually show some good production values. "Stuff You Missed in History Class" is by two women who toss the narrative back and forth to each other to break things up. Their work is well researched and they cite their sources.

My favorite is talks given by military historians and veterans at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago. These are so good that I cancelled my subscriptions to satellite radio in the office and in my truck and listen at my desk and in the truck almost to the exclusion of everything else (I do miss Bob Edwards). I even hook my iPhone up to my hearing protectors in my shop and listen as I make sawdust.

For me the easiest avenue to podcasting is through iTunes, but people with Android and other platforms may have to do a workaround.

With podcasts who needs talk radio? Who needs talk radio anyway?