Archive for May, 2009

So Many Stories, So Little Time

May 30, 2009

As mentioned in my previous blog, I had committed myself to listening to five sessions of short stories downloaded from Sniplits.com and/or from Public Radio’s (PRI) broadcasts of “Selected Shorts.”  Using a recently won iPod Shuffle I downloaded short stories and radio shows to my new device.  While listening to a week’s collection of short stories, I realized how perfect the short story genre is for today’s bustling life style. In addition, there are many short stories available for people of every interest.

I quickly learned that all of the Selected Short radio shows were excellent.  However, I also discovered that each required a solid hour of uninterrupted listening on the ipod shuffle. This was not always convenient, because I was using the stories as entertainment during brief morning walks and evening treadmill excursions after a yoga class.

The stories I downloaded from Sniplits.com were equally excellent ! Venita Blackburn’s stories were especially delightful… I appreciated her inventive character descriptions . . . so much so that I’m eager to hear more from this writer.  I found the humor in House Rules By Libby Fischer Hellmann equally engaging. Humor and crime work well for an energetic workout!

Listening to the stories from Sniplits.com worked as a quick exercise support and escape because they were no longer than 40 minutes.  I found that anything more, such as an hour radio show, became a task especially since I was adding this activity to my already busy life. The absolute best feature on Sniplits.com is the fact that one can find stories listed by listening time! Got 20 minutes? Download a story and take a walk around the block!

So if you are a fitness fan with a portable digital media player and want a break from your audio books or even music, a hearty short story downloaded from Sniplits.com can be a great solution for a quick exercise excursion!

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Five Days of Short Stories

May 16, 2009

At a company event I won an iPod shuffle and decided  to experiment downloading short stories to my new device. Since I am a fan of NPR’s Selected Shorts and the website Sniplits.com, where you can download a free story a week, I was looking for a change of pace from my usual non-fiction fare.

At  Sniplits.com, I paid $2.06 with my PayPal account and downloaded three stories to iTunes and from there to my iPod Shuffle.  One story was the free story of the week. Sniplits.com has done a GREAT job of making the purchase and download easy, the process was seamless. Then I downloaded a few shows from  Public Radio’s (PRI) broadcasts of “Selected Shorts podcast that I located in iTunes. Here’s my upcoming listening schedule, not necessarily in the  order I’ll hear them at since I expect the stories to be shuffled:

SESSION A*, 30 MINUTE WALK

  • Story: A Brief Excerpt in the History of Salt by Venita Blackburn
  • Story: Hand Signals by Venita Blackburn

SESSION B*, 40 MINUTE WALK

  • Story: House Rules By Libby Fischer Hellmann

SESSION C, 1 HOUR WALK

  • Podcast: Playwright’s DelightSelected Shorts

SESSION D, 1 HOUR WALK

  • Podcast: Indian CountrySelected Shorts

SESSION E, 1 HOUR WALK

  • Podcast: Shatterd PeaceSelected ShortLOGOwebhorz

I will begin listening to stories on Monday, May 18! Send me your tips for this upcoming week. Oh, and watch next weekend for the upcoming reviews on the all above mentioned stories/podcasts!

* These downloads are from www.sniplits.com

¿Habla Español?: Learn à la AudioBookFitness

May 14, 2009

I was lucky to meet a neighbor, Teresa, who speaks fluent Spanish. She worked in a contract position at Yahoo until last year.  Since I have always wanted to practice the Spanish I worked so hard at learning as a college student and review Spanish for an upcoming trip to Spain, we worked out an agreement that I would help her with her resume and she would help me with my Spanish.  I am fortunate to work at home (company  lap top and cell phone), and I would run over to her place, read for 20 minutes, converse for about 10 minutes and then come back  home, have a quick  lunch and get back to work.  It worked well until her mother had a stroke and she had to return home to Mexico to help her mom for a month.

Not wanting to loose the language skills I have been gaining, I bought a new Garmin nüvi GPS (to be reviewed at a later date) that plays MP3 files and I am dedicating it to reviewing and learning Spanish while I drive.  I downloaded the highest rated Spanish audio book series from AudiblePimsleur, Spanish I, Second Revised Edition: Lessons 6 to 10. This was only for review, and after listening to it, I realized it was a bit on the simple side. ‘Vamos a bebir una Cervesa in al resturante Colon.’  or ‘¿Cuanto Cuesta dos Cervesas?’ are not sentences I will use daily (well, I could change cervesa to vino…) yet this has proved to be a good brain exercise while I am driving. Actually, audio language books are IDEAL for puttering around town, because if you are using a GPS with an MP3, the interruptions of GPS instructions (‘In 500 feet, turn left.’) are best interlaced with the short verbal exercises and sentences of a language (‘Repeta: ¿A donde va Carlos’?) rather than a long narrative of a book.

The biggest challenge for me has been finding the right level of Spanish instruction to start at since I am familiar with the language. There was no assessment to help determine what audio book to start with. So if you have tried any of the Spanish audio books, let me know what you like and didn’t like about them along with some commentary about their difficulty level. I’d love to hear from you.

Italian and French are next…then Chinese. And of course, I will be starting with Level 1 on these languages when the time comes (Yo! I could be in my nineties by then!).

I keep thinking about a study that I read years ago about elderly nuns learning French and how it kept them mentally agile into old age. Yes, that is one of my goals, brain fitness and agility, and I want to speak decent Spanish as I meander the cities of España.

The Granddaddy of Audio Book Listeners

May 9, 2009

I’ve been listening to a new audiobook, ‘The Black Swan-The Impact of the Highly Improbable‘ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Two and a half hours into the book, I learned  that we Audio Book Listeners actually have a forefather.  Pierre-Daniel Huet (1630-1721), a French philosopher, churchman, and scholar  had a servant who followed him around and read to him during meals and free time.  Huet was considered the most well-read person of his time….(And it’s quite possible Heut’s servant was considered the best read domestic help of his time!)

This diligent servant, of course, goes unnamed. If he were alive today his role would be replace-or outsourced-to one of the many Portable Media Digital players or Readers currently on the market. Or perhaps if he were living today he would have the wherewithall to shift his career to that of a Voice Over Artist or Narrator.

We owe Huet and his well-read servant an honored historical spot for leadership, of sorts, to the wonderful world of audiobooks.