Break My Stride

Hi, there:

Don’t freak out; the picture here is supposed to be blurry. There’s a sharper version of it below.

The show is taking a little break, but don’t worry: it’s only going to be a couple of weeks. And if you’ve already heard this weeks No Show Show, then please read all the way through anyway, because there’s going to be a Call To Action for you to participate! (You can click that link to go straight to the bottom of the page, where I have a special request to make of you.)

A couple of weeks ago I traveled to Orlando to attend the Podcast Movement conference. It was pretty much four solid days of me and three thousand other people talking almost exclusively about podcasting.

When you do a show like this, as a solo podcaster and (believe it or not) a relative introvert, sometimes you get into your own head and get locked into routines, or means of working, or some other such. And while I belong to a few podcaster groups online, there’s still nothing like getting together with actual human beings who are all as passionate about their hobby (or their business, some of them are in it for money) as you are. And so many of them have the same anxieties that you do! How do I make the show sound better? How do I build my audience? What microphone-mixer-headphones-internet provider-whatever should I buy?

The point is, I thought that this would be a good time to take a short timeout and think about the direction of the show with regard to its sound, the basic structure, my pacing, whether I want to lock into a specific show length, stuff like that. In addition, I have a couple of other podcast ideas cooking (completely unrelated to this show), and I’d like to explore just how realistic those ideas are.

From a technological standpoint, I’m also making some changes. I’ll be switching podcast hosting providers, which shouldn’t affect you at all if you listen via Apple, or Google Podcasts or Podcast Republic or other podcatching software, but it will affect the way this website behaves for a short while, because the links in EVERY post are going to have to be fixed, one at a time. At any rate, I want to ensure that all the redirects are in place so that those of you who subscribe to the show don’t miss out on anything.

Here’s the other thing I learned in Orlando, though: it’s possible to be a victim of your own success. In the broader scheme of podcasts in general, I know that I’m one of the little fish, and I’m OK with that. Those of you who are reading this are a smallish-but-dedicated group, and I’m all kinds of grateful for your listenership (is that a word?) and your feedback. But the fact is, while I’ve got that little Fair Use statement in the corner of the webpage somewhere, that’s not going to be very meaningful if a record label takes it in their head to issue a Cease & Desist letter my way.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on this podcast, oh no. But I do have to think a little more deeply about this project, and the next one(s) that I work on, and what all of it is going to look like.

Next up is the fact that school starts this week, and in my current position as someone who’s essentially Middle Management in a high school, I need to concentrate on the paying gig for a little bit, until the New School Year dust settles.

And then there’s another thing that’s forcing me to take some time out, but this is more of a Good News thing.

This is my current setup. And while it works pretty well, that round table actually impedes my getting some of my stuff done. So my daughter, who is a very capable person when it comes to this sort of thing, helped me design a new table that will allow me to run cables underneath (right now there’s a whole lotta electronic spaghetti back there, and organize my equipment a little better, and give me some more usable work room. And, it’s tough to see here, but the table and the black cabinet next to it aren’t the same height, so everything will match in that respect. (They won’t be the same color, though.) She’ll be building me a new work space that should make my life a lot easier moving forward. AND, should future projects involve a second personality, it’ll already be ready to go with a second microphone arm. (In fact, the one that’s here will become the third, spare arm.)

I’m giving her instructions to take a bunch of pictures so that we can follow the progress together, and I’ll be posting them to the various social media outlets, ’cause I don’t want to fade away completely on you folks.

So here’s the Call to Action:

Without you, How Good It Is would be nothing but me blathering on to nobody. You’re the thing that keeps me and this project going, and as I do my pondering about what happens next, and how it happens, your opinion is at least as important as mine. Anytime I’ve heard from a listener, whether positive or (occasionally) negative, I do think deeply about what they’ve offered me, even if it’s a request. Especially if it’s a request, because you’re just so good at thinking of stuff that I should have thought of! So please take the time to complete the Listener Survey. There are 14 questions and most of them are multiple-choice, so it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to complete. You’ll be doing me a huge favor, and you’ll be helping me to make the show a better one overall.

If all goes well with the migration and the studio makeover, the show should be back on September 22, just in time for Fall. In the meantime, however, I’ll keep you posted on updates as I move forward. Thanks so much for listening and for your patience!

Weird Science

Album on my re-listen radar this week is John Barleycorn Must Die, by Traffic. Wanna feel like an underachiever? Steve Winwood was 22 when this album came out, and it was the band’s FOURTH.

Anyway.

Every now and again I check on the stats for the podcast. For those who don’t know, that means that I can look in on how many times a show has been downloaded, how many times it’s been played through the website, how many times it’s been played through other means, and so forth.

Recently I discovered that the podcast also has geography-related statistics. I can click on a link and it gives me a world map, in which the countries where the shows have been downloaded are highlighted in blue. The darker the blue, the more downloads there have been. So there’s no surprise in noting that the show is more popular in primarily-English-speaking countries than in others.

But I also discovered that if I click on the map, it drills down a little farther. Which means that I can tell that, for the past week, the show was more popular in, say, Nashville than it was in Raleigh, NC or in New York City.

And that’s pretty much all I know. There were 64 downloads in Nashville and 34 in New York City last week. But when I ran stats this morning, something a little weird caught my eye (and I’m going to be hazy on purpose with the details, now)

In the last week or so, the show has had 23 downloads from a town in Alabama. But not only do I know what town in Alabama, the stats report told me what STREET in that town in Alabama. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and of all the places listed, this is the only one. And because the street is kind of short, I could (if I were extra-creepy) go knocking on doors and find out within a few minutes who my Big Fan in that town is. I know, it’s already creepy that I looked it up in the first place, but I was genuinely curious about that listing and whether it actually led to something.

Or, maybe everyone on that block is a fan and they’ve only downloaded a couple of episodes each. Anyway, Hello, Alabama Fan(s)! I envy your proximity to a Publix! ’cause Publix is awesome and the closest one to me is literally a hundred miles away.

Anyway, I promise to use this power only for good, not evil. Though I presume it’s just a glitch. Also, I don’t know how to use it for good OR evil.

Let’s Get Together, Yeah Yeah Yeah

So until very recently, this was my studio layout: 

From left to right: Left speaker; mixer (yes, it’s hanging over the edge of the table but it doesn’t ordinarily do that; laptop which plays all the sound elements; microphone mounted on the boom; rack containing my amplifier, CD/MP3 player, cassette deck and power conditioner; monitor for Computer #2 where the recording and editing takes place; right speaker is hiding underneath that monitor; Computer #2 and turntable with a copy of The Guess Who’s “Shakin’ All Over” on the platter. 

This was the space I was talking about whenever I mentioned the Bob Cratchit Studios, because it’s in my basement and it gets pretty cold down there in the winter. Oddly, it’s not especially cool in the summer, but at least it’s tolerable. 

There’s been some upheaval in my life lately, and the upshot of that is that the studio had to move out of the basement and up to the second floor of the house. and it had to happen this past weekend. So right now the studio is in many, many pieces which I’ll spend this week re-assembling. But that means that there’s no show this week. 

I’ve been pondering re-building the whole thing, including replacing that circular table that holds most of the equipment, but I don’t think I have the means to do that just yet. The other thing I have to think about is that when I was in the basement, I didn’t have to worry too much about vibrations coming from other parts of the house, just some stray noises like footsteps from upstairs or the dog barking at evildoers who are using the sidewalk out front. So part of my calculus will include sonic isolation, especially for that turntable. 

Anyway: my plan is to be back next week, with Part Two of my focus on Shel Silverstein. 

What’s New, Pussycat

Hi-yoooooooooooooooo!

In an effort to make the show as a whole more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (and, let’s face it, to make it more visible to search engines), transcripts of each show will now be available. 

As it happens, because the show is heavily scripted, and because I’m weirdly obsessive about saving digital stuff, I still have the original Microsoft Word files for most episodes. I lost a few to accidental overwrites, but I’ll figure something out for those shows as well. 

So, beginning this week when the show returns for Episode 53, there will be a transcript linked from the episode’s blog post. In addition, I’ll be backfilling the older episodes over the next couple of weeks until everything is caught up. 

See you on Saturday! 

Taking Two

As I mentioned last week, the show is taking a brief break so that I can get a little bit ahead of the production curve. 

Work has been extra-crazy this month, and life has thrown a few curveballs our way, and it’s pushed me into a place where I’m killing myself to put together a show that, ultimately, isn’t as good as what I’ve gotten used to producing here so far. And it arrives late, besides. That’s not fair to me OR to you. 

So go play catchup if you’re a new listener, and the show will be back on October 13 when I take a look at ‘Both Sides Now.” See you then!

A Brief Pause

Image result for beatles piggies

As I mentioned on the show last week, there won’t be a show this week because of a planned break. We have a big party at my place every year at this time. If you know where I live, come on down! The more the merrier!

Next week I have something pretty cool planned, and I hope I can get all the elements in place for it in a timely manner. If not, it’ll be two weeks hence.

In the meantime: if you haven’t done so already, go check out and click “Like” on the show’s Facebook page.

And you can go follow the show on Twitter. 

And, of course, please leave a review of some kind wherever you get your podcasts from, whether it’s Podcast Republic, iTunes, Stitcher, Podomatic or whatever. Every little bit helps me grow the show.

Hey! I re-did the webpage! What do you think? Please to leave comments here.

Thanks so much for your support and I’ll talk to you on the 21st.

This Is A Fix

It’s a glorious day here in Baltimore, so of course I’m inside maintaining this website. But don’t worry: I’ll be getting my fresh air later when I attend the Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Come find me in Section 115.

At any rate, I’m making a few changes to the older posts, eliminating the on-site players in favor of embedded players from the Podomatic website, so I can keep better track of my download/playback statistics. I don’t think this will create any hassles for you if you’re a regular reader of this site, but if it does, my apologies in advance (and please let me know if that’s the case).

I mentioned this on Facebook, but it bears updating and repeating here:

As of ten minutes ago, this show has:

  • 304 plays, either directly at Podomatic or streamed through a mobile device—only one of which appears to have been “skipped”;
  • 257 plays via embeds (since May 26, when I first started using the Podomatic embed);
  • 5507 downloads;
  • Uncounted plays from directly at this website (because that’s the way that goes, and why I’m making these changes)

I can’t possibly thank you so much for all of your support. If you’d like to translate that support into cash, I wouldn’t turn it down. Heh. (Seriously, though, I’ll be setting up a Patreon soon, as soon as I can figure out a decent Thank You kind of giveaway.) Also please take the time to give the show a rating and a review wherever you happen to listen to it.

Now go outside and get some fresh air on my behalf!

Sick Day

Image result for led zeppelin sick again -site:pinterest.comUgh. I really hate doing this, but there’s no show this week. I’ve got an upper respiratory infection, which I think you were able to hear a little bit of last week, but it’s really affected both my voice and my ability to concentrate.

If it clears up faster than I anticipate, I’ll record and release a show mid-week, with another next Saturday. Otherwise it’ll be next week.

In the meantime, I leave you with this. Please don’t hate me.

All I Ever Wanted

As I mentioned during last week’s show, the podcast is taking two weeks off so I can have some actual vacation time. But don’t worry! I’m still writing material (getting ahead of the curve? Let’s not count on that too heavily), and on April 7 I’ll be back with a new episode, in which I take the time to defend a song that I generally consider to be indefensible. Tune in for that bit of fun!

In the meantime, I leave you with this.

Don’t hate me.

Dope

So for those of you who listen via iTunes, or some other podcatcher: I owe you a huge apology.

I’d uploaded this week’s episode into Podomatic, which hosts my RSS feed, but somehow I managed to miss hitting the “Publish” button. It’s a mistake I didn’t catch until today. At any rate, the problem has been rectified, and I’m a dope.

Also, I had one thing in mind for this week’s show, but I’m going to do another thing instead, because the first idea gave me writer’s block.

Let’s meet here again on Saturday, shall we?