A Few of My Favorite Things: Internet Edition

The internet and my Mac are pretty much indispensable parts of my life abroad. If I had to choose between bringing more than one change of clothing or my Mac somewhere, I'd bring my Mac. That pretty much goes for any kind of either/or scenario with me.
What makes me so attached to my computer?  Well, many things, but the bulk of it is the AMAZING learning and entertainment resources that have saved my sanity and given me access to learning on a scale I couldn't have imagined before coming here.  Some of my favorite internet resources, in no particular order, are as follows:


Lynda.com is a collection of software training videos.  Ok, that sounds boring, but it's amazing.  For a whopping 25 bucks a month I have unlimited access to hundreds, probably thousands of hours of training videos on programs like the Adobe Design Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc - these are the courses I'm making my way through right now), movie editing software, web design software, and much more.  You could get the education of an entire bachelors degree and have REAL skills to put on your resume in weeks, even days.  So, it's awesome. ...they should offer library subscriptions...huh....that's a good idea actually.   

This American Life Podcast

What could be nicer?  Each week they bring you a theme and three stories that illustrate that theme.  Stories that are funny, sad, thoughtful, fiction, non-fiction and all of them diverse slices of the American life.  This week's theme was "Contents Unknown" which started off with a story about storage locker bidding when people can't make their payments.  People buy the locker, not knowing fully what's inside, and hope there is treasure behind the dusty piles of junk.  If you have an ipod or a computer and one hour each week I highly recommend this podcast.   

The Moth Podcast

http://podwatch.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/themoth.jpgI actually found out about The Moth from This American Life - the Moth's theme is "true stories told live without notes".  There are a few Moth stages around America (mostly the east coast) where people come to tell and hear stories told live.  Some are funny, amazing, sad, heartbreaking, drop dead hilarious - and all true, told without notes.  Great, great, great podcast.  

How Stuff Works: Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_RwmGaB6TA0s/SeTdeAJTqgI/AAAAAAAAD6w/xq4CzyzLg5M/s400/symhc-logo.jpgHow did I live without this!?!  Two fabulously nerdy hosts (and I mean that in the best way) tackle different subjects in history and well,  tell you about them.  They research and report.   It's that simple.  They usually include fascinating and juicy tidbits you didn't know before -1/2 a percent of the world's population today are directs descendants of Ghengis Khan for example. Talk about a fertile myrtle  A few that I listened to in the past week were:  "Harry Houdini: Master Mystifier", "How Kent State Worked", "How the Dancing Plague of 1815 Worked", "Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr", and "Who Was the Real Count Dracula".  They last from 2 minutes to 30.  If you have a learning addiction, this is your feed.  Fabulous.

Rick Steves European Video Podcast

http://www.ricksteves.com/images/template/video_logo1.jpgOh Rick Steves, how I love you.  I actually started a Christmas letter to Rick Steves, but I haven't sent it yet.  Perhaps by the end of February I'll have found a way to say all of the nice things I'd like to say to him.  Not the least of which is "thank you for your awesome podcast" -which you can also find on youtube if podcasts aren't your thing.  These podcasts are 3 to 4 minute snippets from his PBS travel show.  If you ever need a little 5 minute break from reality, you can travel to the Alps and discover amazing Gimmelwald, or stroll the promenades of Nice with Rick. It's the perfect little virtual travel break to get you excited about seeing more of the world or give you reprieve from your corner of it for a time. If Max and I have 5 minutes before the bus comes, I usually make him watch one with me.

I would also HIGHLY recommend you check out his series about Iran (both the lectures and the hour tv special) and his multi-part lecture series "Travel as Political Act".  These two programs in particular are why I'm writing him a thank you letter.  At the core of everything he does lies the conviction that learning about other people and cultures breaks down negative and useless boundaries and builds bridges within our universal humanity -that ignorance and fear is best combated by knowledge travel.      
Preview for Iran Program.  The last 30 seconds in particular are heart stopping to me.  Travel as diplomacy!

So in part, this is what I do all day.  All of these things (with the exception of Lynda.com) are free.  You can download them from their respective websites, or find them in the podcast directory of itunes.
The websites and podcasts for the following establishments also deserve a nod for the amount of content they have made accessible via the internet, though I don't use them as much as I should:
The Library of Congress
The National Archives
The British Library 
The New York Library


  1. I'm gonna go subscribe to The Moth and Stuff You Missed in History Class. Love it and love you!!!

  2. Thanks for the great internet sites. They all sound so interesting. I also loved what you said about Rick Steves! You should send him a Christmas card. lol