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Beating the traffic blues

Stressed much?

Stressed much? Photo: Jim Rice

One of the first things you'll hear from people who've moved from the big smoke to coastal or rural communities is "it takes me five minutes to drive to work now" or "I was sick of spending my life in traffic".

There's surely a few of you nodding your head as you read those words and, as someone who has to drive 45 minutes in each direction to see his daughter three times a week, I get it.

(I don't mention my travel time to sound like a martyr - I'd crawl over broken glass to see my child and I don't resent it in the slightest, I just know sitting in car for long periods by yourself can be less than edifying.)

Traffic sucks. It brings out the worst in people. The scenery is usually uglier than a Clive Palmer bowel movement and unless you've prepared, you're captive to the most gruelling of entertainment forms, radio.

Given, you can load up your iPod with your favourite tunes, but even that small enjoyment can't quite efface the feeling of time wasted, hours better spent with your family, going for a run, reading, relaxing, whatever.

TRAFFIC! Hours and hours lost to travel that usually leave you tired, frustrated, maybe even a little pissed off.

I have a solution.

I've written previously about my love of iTunes University and podcasts like Dan Carlin's kick-arse canter through time - Hardcore History.

Both are insanely entertaining and next-to-free methods of using your time in traffic more productively where you almost don't begrudge the hours driving because you're learning about pet subjects.

iTunes U has literally thousands of free lectures and podcasts about everything from art and architecture to personal finance, leadership and critical analysis. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I've had gushing email exchanges with professors from some of the best universities in the world, telling them how much I love their lectures and them saying how stoked they are some dude all the way down in Australia was getting something from their work.

Earlier this year, via Dan Carlin, I also discovered audible.com which is a sprawling online library of audio books. While it's a little light on older titles, there's a wealth of new stuff, again ranging from history and science and technology, biographies to business, self-development, classics and a mountain of fiction.

Long distance truck drivers have been onto audio-books for years but now we don't need to go through the palaver of messing around buying 17 CDs at a petrol station; you just plug in your iPod, download, and away you go.

I don't subscribe to ANYTHING online but I do to Audible because it's great value for money; the equivalent of a round of beers at the pub gives you two audio books a month.

I've got this long mental list of books I tell myself I should have read - lots of Russian authors and things like The Iliad, The Odyssey, the works of Herodotus and Thucydides and Karl Marx.

Granted, when you're listening to stuff like this in traffic, you drift in and out, but plenty sticks. With more current biographies, you just rip through and actually feel a little better informed, maybe a touch smarter, when you get to your destination.

Hollywood's also getting in on the act with dozens of big-name actors now being tapped to record audio books.

Says the LA Times: Dustin "Hoffman is part of an all-star cast of actors who have signed on with the 17-year-old Amazon-owned company [Audible] to bring classic novels to life for a fast-growing population of audiobook fans worldwide.

"Other participants include Samuel L. Jackson performing A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes; Susan Sarandon performing The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers; Kate Winslet performing Therese Raquin by Émile Zola; Nicole Kidman performing To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf; and many more," reports the Times.

It might not be for everyone but it's changed the way I feel about traffic and driving. I actually look forward to the time now, knowing I'm gonna dip into unknown worlds and subjects.

Who knows, in a couple of years, I might even be edumacated?

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.

69 comments

  • I wouldn't recommend listening to Russian literature while driving. It is the best cure for insomnia that I have ever encountered. Falling asleep at the wheel during a reading of War & Peace, the Gulag Archipelago or Anna Karenina could be embarrassing to have to explain.

    Commenter
    M
    Date and time
    November 22, 2013, 3:36PM
    • I find Dostoevsky novels and Chekhov short stories great listening.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      November 22, 2013, 10:10PM
    • Falling asleep at the wheel? Most already are sleep-driving leaving huge gaps and refusing to move with the traffic if it finally moves. One of my big gripes is the number of cars that break down in peak hour traffic every day. Most are caused by a lack of maintenance (just ask the NRMA)!. These people should be fined and they fines should exceed those for speeding because the resulting damage is much worse. It also beggars belief that people in certain industries are refused to work the same weekly hours over 4 days thus reducing traffic by upto 20% and regaining a full day for their life?

      Commenter
      Mike54
      Location
      Frankfurt
      Date and time
      November 23, 2013, 3:13PM
    • Mike 54, my workplace allows us 1 day a week to work from home and we can also do condensed hours (ie 10hrs x 4 days), as well as the fact that we can start between 7.30am - 10am (and we finish anywhere from 3.45 onwards...... works a treat!!!

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      November 24, 2013, 6:50AM
    • mike54

      Are the trains still running on time in Frankfurt?

      ahh, wie ich vermisse die Heimat.

      Commenter
      Spiegeleisen
      Date and time
      November 24, 2013, 12:40PM
  • Great article Sam. I am a huge fan of Dan Carlin - he also has a podcast for current events called "Common Sense".

    The Joe Rogan Experience, and London Real are a couple of other awesome podcasts I'd recommend to anyone.

    Commenter
    Azza
    Location
    Coburg
    Date and time
    November 22, 2013, 3:47PM
    • itunes? if that the fruit bunch that tells you that you may only listen to stuff you "buy" in a single device? i recommend an upgrade to something more flexible and less controlling.

      Commenter
      Victorious Painter
      Date and time
      November 22, 2013, 3:51PM
      • Apple sells songs that are plain old AAC files - you can play them on any device. Apple originally wanted it this way, but the recording companies wouldn't have a bar of it.

        The movies are encrypted with Apple's FairPlay DRM which, one again, is a requirement imposed by people outside of Apple.

        Commenter
        Dale
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        November 22, 2013, 5:23PM
      • @Dale. do you really believe what you wrote? that's frighting,
        why is it that the music/movie only imposes such restrictions on some digital content stores?, i'll tell you, because in order for the stores to have a higher profit margin they'll openly accept restrictions they'll need to impose on CUSTOMERS, let me guess, next you'll defend apple for charging Australian consumers an higher price right?

        Commenter
        Victorious Painter
        Date and time
        November 23, 2013, 10:16AM
      • Victorious Painter

        Dave simply pointed out that factual inaccuracies in your post.

        You can have different options but there only one set of facts

        When you said that iTunes files could only be played on a single device. Were you mistaken or did you intend to deceive?

        Feel free to correct your post

        Commenter
        FFS
        Date and time
        November 24, 2013, 1:29PM

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