About the River2 podcatcher, and sounds for my laundry

Aug 7, 2012

As you know, I’m getting the hang of my new OPML server tools. I even found a way to help make them a little better.

Today I started to look more closely at the River2 podcatcher feature, a way to subscribe to podcasts. I can already see how this is going to solve an important problem in my life.

Soon, I’ll be taking a vacation with the family, and Erin’s sure to ask me a night or two before we head out on the road if I can get some of her favorite radio shows onto one of the many electronic things we carry with us. She likes the Diane Rehm Show, and This American Life (which actually comes as a default subscription in River2), but I usually can get only one or two shows downloaded in time for the drive.

In my river, I can already just click a link beside a latest episode — I’m seeing ones for The Story and Blank on Blank — and the episode starts to play in the browser. This could work just fine for most of our drive, but it also looks like there’s an easy way to download an entire folder of the latest podcasts. That’s what Erin wants as she drives (I’m usually in the back seat entertaining Oliver or watching movies with the girls).

Most Sunday nights, I end the weekend at the ironing board, pressing a few shirts for the week, listening on my iPad to stories from The Monti or StoryColider.

Fifteen years ago, I was washing my clothes by hand in an aluminum tub outside our Peace Corps house in the Republic of Vanuatu. I’d usually listen to R.E.M. or U2, but once or twice I was able to pop in a tape with a few episodes of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which Erin’s mom had sent.

Other tapes we received during our two-year stint had dinner conversations and wedding salutations from our families back home. A podcatcher on Paama was little Enna, who stood beneath the cacao tree to grab the cacao pods that Jimmy or Terry would hack off the tree trunk above. On the ground, we’d split the pods, scoop out the cacao seeds and suck the tart pulp around the seeds. A few times I saved the seeds and tried to dry them, roast them and make chocolate from the insides, but to no end. Turns out making chocolate is a whole lot harder than eating it.

Sounds, stories, chocolate — just a few of my favorite things.

Anton Zuiker

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