daniel rowe

I love podcasts. I work while listening to podcasts. I shower while listening to podcasts. Sometimes I even fall asleep listening to podcasts. And since so much of my time is spent listening, I need a good supply of solid content. Here are a few of my go ‘casts:

This American Life: Hosted by Ira Glass
What’s not to love about this one? Brilliant looks at a variety of interesting stories and ideas. The production is excellent, and I’ve been moved emotionally in a way that radio has never affected me before.

99% Invisible: Hosted by Roman Mars
Talking about graphic design in an audio podcast. Makes perfect sense, right? Definitely a niche podcast, but it’s a good one, nonetheless. Recent opics have included currency, beer, and architecture.

Here’s the Thing: Hosted by Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin and I may not agree on much, but we can agree on the fact that he’s a great host. The show features entertainers, actors, and comedians just chatting it up as Baldwin asks some great questions.

On the Grid: Hosted by Matt McInerney, Dan Auer, Andy Mangold
Similar to 99% Invisible, this show features talk about design and design culture. But the format is three friends located across the country who meet online to chat, and we get to listen.

Hardcore History: Hosted by Dan Carlin
History with a twist. One of the more recent shows – and hour and a half about Genghis Khan – had me mesmerized. New episodes don’t come very often, but they’re worth is when they do.

The Vergecast: Hosted by Josh Topolsky, Nilay Patel, Paul Miller
I listen to this every weekend as I mow the yard. It’s mindless tech news but helps satisfy my desire to own every new gadget and tech toy. The ins-and-outs of tech culture are fun to learn from the guys

The B.S. Report: Hosted by Bill Simmons
Gotta throw a sports one in here. Bill Simmons likes a lot of teams I can’t stand (you hearing my, Boston?) and talks about some sports I don’t care much about (basketball), but he’s a great host with good guests.

BBC Global News: Various Hosts
Gotta stay up to date. And getting my news from someone with a British accent makes me feel so much more cultured and snobby. The frequency of update is a great plus but can be sometimes overwhelming.

(The idea for this post came from @barnabaspiper.)


Jon Stewart and the Small World

I recently picked up a copy of The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. So far, it’s a great read containing a lot of discerning wisdom about the state of our world.

Vaynerchuk begins the book by describing how the world was once a very small place. Nearly everyone was born and raised in the same town, knowing the same folks, and frequenting the same businesses. Only a small minority of the powerful had the ability to freely move outside the confines of their birthplace.

The economic boom that followed the end of World War II greatly disrupted this centuries-old system by introducing previously-unimaginable expendable wealth and powerful new technologies (automobiles, airplanes, etc.) that spread ideas and people around the world in ways yet unknown. As this change intesified over the decades, our world became more and more isolated. Our relationships grew more and more fractured.

Many of us were born in a world where it was often difficult to intimately connect with family who had moved to different states or countries. We couldn’t pick up a cell phone and make immediate plans via text message. That’s not even to mention the near-impossibility of widepsread networking across such a geographically and relationally fractured world.

The rise of the web, specifically social media, has brought the journey full circle. Now it is possible to be intimately connected to the lives of cousins living seven states away or to the work of foreign missionaries halfway around the world. Pictures are posted, breaking news is tweeted, and personal connections are made to no end.

The barriers that seperated us over the last 50+ years are falling at a fascinating rate and being replaced by powerful bridges of communication.

No longer do cable news networks or metropolitan newspapers control what we know and how we interpret it. That power has been severly weakend as the proliferation of freely-accessible information continues to multiply.

That’s what makes the following clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart so amusing. It found its way to me via these new social channels and a Twitter-friend (@nicklaparra) who I’ve yet to meet in person. And imagine that the commercialized Internet we know today is only sixteen years old!

It illustrates the reality of our world that Vaynerchuk describes in this way:

“Middlemen, pundints, and spokespersons no longer have near-monopoly on the widespread distribution of a brand or a message.”

But this kind of change is happening all over the place. Not just among news organizations.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you should know that I don’t plan to delve in to politics often — only as it relates to something much bigger like this. But, I will say that you should check out Ron Paul. Give him a fair shake. Some of his ideas are definitely uncomfortable, but for the most part his worldview is coherent and strong. He’s nothing if not consistent.

Alright. That’s more than enough seriousness for now. I promise something lighter tomorrow.

How is this newly-smaller world changing your relationships? Comment below, and let us know.

Weekly Web Gems

Anne Hathaway Raps – Sweet Anne Hathaway has a few things to say to the paparazzi who’ve been following her around looking for “Dark Knight” info. And she decides to do it in the elegant style of Lil’ Wayne. Awesome. (via @Mashable)

Bus Guy Belts ‘California Gurls’8am on a crowded bus and this guy decides to perform Katy Perry’s hit for everyone around him as they’re still wiping sleep out of their eyes. I can’t decide what’s worse — the awesomely bad singing or the discman. (via @HuffingtonPost)

What is Popularity? – This article explores the popularity of everything from Jersey Shore to Five Guys Burgers. Check it out for more useless facts than you can shake a stick at. Seriously… you might spend a lot of time here. (via @BusinessWeek)

10 Custom Motorcycle Helmets – How cool are these? I think I like the bald head and the cracked walnut the best. Which one would you wear? (via @Andrew Kelsall)

Kicked Out for Tweeting – Check out this story. A woman in a Houston area restaurant was recently kicked out for tweeting her disgust about the establishment’s staff. Fair or not? What say ye? (via @Unmarketing)

Create Like the Creator

Everyone knows how the Bible begins — “In the beginning, God created…” And we know how the story starts to wrap up as John sees the new earth, and Jesus declares, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Our God is a creator, and we have been made in his image. So, we are creators by our very nature.

In Genesis 2:15, Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden with the instruction “to work and to keep it.” Even after the Fall, Adam keeps working and keeping, though the labor is now much harder.

Being a man, I feel this desire to create — to work hard at crafting something bigger than me and keeping it excellent as a way to glorify the God who made me.

At the same time, I’m tempted to complain that God hasn’t placed me in a perfect situation where I can create, work, and keep with complete freedom. But an ideal environment hasn’t existed since the Garden of Eden, so who am I to think I deserve one?

I know two things: God is for us and has given us time on earth to honor Him. So I’m committing to hustle and go hard after creating good things for God’s glory and my joy. They may be small things like what is written here or bigger things as God sees fit to trust me with them.

I want to image the Creator by creating. I want to use what He has given me to give back to Him and to others.

Who’s with me?

It’s the Little Things

My very first job was as a checker at a Brookshire Brothers grocery store. For months, I stood behind that green counter scanning everything from creamed corn to frozen turkeys over and over and over again. Then I would wait an eternity for little old ladies to scribble out their checks — a process that had me wanting to let them borrow my debit card to save us both the misery.

I remember one elderly man who came through my line just before Thanksgiving, which is the absolute worst time in any grocery store employee’s miserable experience. It had been a long day, but he made it all better in a split second when he looked at me as I handed him his receipt and said, “Thank you, Daniel. Have a good day.”

It took me by surprise at first. I’m not even sure I replied to him as I stood there wondering how he knew me. Had my grandmother sent him in there to keep an eye on me? She would try to be sneaky like that, I thought. And then it hit me.

He read my nametag.

That dumb little nametag I had worn for months because it was required. It was just an annoyance to me. Never once had anyone paid any attention to it, and I had never paid attention to anyone else’s — waiter, clerk, or fast food employee. But that all changed the day that old man called me by my name. There was just something welcoming and reassuring about it.

Now, I try hard to notice a person’s nametag and thank them by name everywhere I go — unless I’m too afraid of the awkward moment that might ensue if I butcher the pronunciation. The reactions you get are interesting. Most folks pause for a second, give a little smile, and then say thank you. Others pretend like they don’t notice — probably because they are a bit weirded out. But no matter their physical reaction, I know it made a little difference for the better because I’ve been there, and it did for me.

It’s the little things we do that add up to make the big difference. Yesterday, Mark Altrogge had a great post about those little opportunities. (You should check it out.)

And those opportunities to make a real difference in someone else’s life exist online just as they do offline. Sometimes this whole social media thing can get very impersonal as we clamor and shout to be heard or write overly-critical posts simply to draw hits. But there is a better way.

Try leaving a small thank you comment on a blog where you can tell someone invested time and shared a part of their life that might be uncomfortable to talk about. Shoot someone an encouraging message on Facebook that’s not related to work or them attending your event. Use Twitter as a way to publicly honor someone instead of begging for a retweet.

What is one of those little things you do, whether on- or offline, to make another’s day a little better? What has someone done for you lately? Share it below.

Two Apps I’m Loving

Occasionally, I’d like to share a few apps that make my life easier in hopes that they’ll do the same for you. Today, there are two of those.

PowerInbox (@powerinbox)

First up is PowerInbox, a browser extension that makes your social media accounts more accessible by allowing you to perform actions from right inside your inbox. You can use those notification emails from Facebook about the new picture you were tagged in the post directly onto the same photo without ever leaving your inbox. Groupon emails show a live countdown of time left until the offer expires. And my favorite — Twitter — lets you @ reply, follow back, and direct message all without leaving your email client (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Outlook)! Here’s a screenshot of what Twitter looks like. Note the PowerInbox functions that are placed to the left of the standard Twitter email.

It’s very quick and stable. Netflix, eBay, and support for more apps are coming up next. Currently, PowerInbox supports Chrome, Firefox, and Rockmelt, but other browsers are on the way in the near future. Download it now.

KAYAK Explore (@kayak)

Already known for their powerful ability to compare hundreds of travel sites at once to make planning your next vacation easier, KAYAK just stepped it up a notch by launching a very slick app for Mac. Now, planning a dream vacation that fits your budget is easier than ever. Most of the features are available from their website for non-Mac users, but the interface and design of the app is simply elegant.

You are greeted by a world map and some randomly selected destinations that include a summary of the cost after both flight and hotel are combined.

You can filter these results by using the options at the bottom to select your departure city, desired destination, price range, travel dates, and more.

After selecting a particular city, you are taken to a one page summary of that proposed vacation where you can book either the flight, the hotel, or both.

It really couldn’t be easier or more fun. I know how my wife and I will be planning our next vacation. Download it now: KAYAK Explore - The fun way to dream up your next vacation - kayak.com

Give these apps a spin and let me know what you think in the comments below. Also, are there any other applications you’re using to make life a little easier?

Unafraid of Fear

I have this little disorder called anxiety. Recently diagnosed, I’m learning to live with it. Though having a tendency to worry about everything is no fun, it is what it is — the hand I’ve been dealt. Luckily, the cards also came with a little yellow pill of assistance that I take every morning.

Unfortunately, the hand I’ve been dealt is for a card game that goes on all day, every day. Try as I might, I cannot seem to quite worrying about the most mundane of things — whether the iron is still plugged in, if I shut the garage door, or if I really took that magic yellow pill instead of just imagining it. Yeah, those are some of the less embarassing things I worry about — I’m ashamed to tell you the others. But it’s not the small things that get me really anxious. It is the big ones.

Life-altering decisions are hard for anyone. I know because I’ve talked through countless ones with family and friends. But for someone like me, they can be absolutely parazlying.

You see, I have these dreams of what I want to be when I grow up and how I really want to spend my life, but I’m afraid to go after them. I seize up with anxiety every time I seriously consider taking the plunge and doing something risky yet potentially rewarding. Like a four year old on one of those big waterpark slides, I cry out to whoever put me up here and demand to be carried down the steps to safety.

I was listening to a sermon by Tim Keller a few days ago about this very topic of fear. Keller challenged his people to pray their fears, to make them known out loud. And he pointed to Psalm 3 as an example.

David finds himself in some real, verifiable trouble (“how many are my foes”) and some trouble sprining from doubt and lies (“there is no salvation for him in God”). But no matter the cause of his anxiety — real or imagined — David trusts that the Lord will be a shield that surrounds him. Front to back. Protecting him from all enemies. And he can sleep in perfect peace.

I’m amazed by him. This man I have never met inspires me with his bravery and makes me wish I had the same.

His secret really is no secret, though. The Bible has spelled it out for us. Where the Lord is, there is liberty from anxiety. Hebrews 11 gives countless other examples of such faith-fed freedom.

Now, the decisions I want to make that I mentioned earlier are probably nothing compared to the kingdom-wide decisions that rested on David’s heart daily or the life and death ones of others in the hall of faith, but they are big to me. They feel like enemies to me. And I can hear them whispering that my God cannot save.

But I must choose the better way. I must grab hold of God and fight with the faith that he is sufficient to defeat all enemies.

It’s hard. Even today, I have probably failed at it more times than I can remember. But I don’t give up. Salvation belongs to the Lord.

Am I alone with this wrestling? What are you afraid of, and how do you battle it?