What People Do

A moment to savor intelligent conversation about ONE THING someone else is deeply invested in.

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2 hours ago

KJ Gibbs is a self-described "working neurodivergent matriach, military vet spouse, small business owner, and descriptive fantasy sci-fi author." All the aspects were interesting to me (we didn't talk the "military vet spouse" part, sorry).
The idea of a small business that serves to help creatives take their burning passions to the people is a neat one. What if you're shy, nervous, inexperienced, afraid of failure, or have other social or psychological issues that make it hard to take those first steps in self-promotion to get your name out there?
That's what KJ does ...
Note: This episode is a special bonus episode featuring a sponsor at our local game convention, Kantcon, which is dope and you should check it out every year. The 2024 one is July 5-7!
For further enjoyment:
Visit KJ's website here. There, you can find absolutely everything about all of her clients (art! snacks! books!), see some creativity-friendly merch to buy, and check out her fantasy novel series.

Tuesday Jun 11, 2024

Noah Gibbs is a fellow tabletop gamer and Kansas City metro local. But he’s got even stronger feelings about the local gaming and convention community than me. He’s been working with a charity convention to raise funds for local causes for a few years. He still games regularly (I’ve lapsed). And, guess what, his connections at local gaming conventions led him to the Kansas City metro years ago. Folks he’d met at Kantcon helped get him established here. He met his wife. Now he’s a proud dad, too.
Find out more about Noah, his volunteer work at Meeple-a-thon, the joys of gaming and nonprofits ... and answer the question, “Sorry, umm, what’s a meeple?”
Note: This episode is a special bonus episode featuring a sponsor at our local game convention, Kantcon, which is dope and you should check it out every year. The 2024 one is July 5-7!
For further enjoyment:
Noah Gibbs is assistant director of Meeple-a-thon, which runs Sept. 27-29, 2024. In the area? Come play! Just want to donate? Click here!
Meeple-a-thon is sponsoring the Paint and Take table at Kantcon July 5-7, 2024. (See? It takes a village to make conventions happen!)
Meeple-a-thon supports various nonprofits (A Turning Point!), but its biggest recipient remains Hillcrest Platte County’s Youth Housing Program.
Noah’s Paint and Take legacy predecessor is Michelle Farnsworth, whose commission website is “Mini Painter, Ink” here. Go check out her stuff!
The miniatures Noah 3D prints are cat people from Kawna Minis. You can find them here.
Games mentioned in this podcast:
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Red-box Dungeons & Dragons
Fistful of Seamen
Warhammer 40K
Alpha Strike
Marvel: Crisis Protocol
Star Wars: Shatterpoint
Betrayal Legacy (based on Betrayal at House on the Hill).

Tuesday Apr 09, 2024

Georgios is a philosophy student and one who brings others along with him. Now, when I say he’s a philosophy student, you think, ahh, he’s taking a class. 
Georgios has a job. He lives in the real world with us outside academia. But he carves out time to study Aristotle and other writers and thinkers for fun and wisdom in the time he isn’t working. 
That’s so amazing, this is my second time interviewing him. My first one looked at Socrates, Aristotle and what to do with this life. 
This new one considers a new book from Georgios’ working group of thinkers wrestling with a more obscure work of Aristotle’s: The Categories. 
It sounds like it’ll be boring, but if you’re into clumsily asked philosophical questions answered with passion by a Greek, well, here you are! 
For further enjoyment: 
Read Georgios’ Substack on his and other group members’ insights into the Aristotle readings. Here are collected summaries from Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. 
Join Tom and Georgios in Aristotle’s Organon Study Group Zoom Link every Tuesday 08:30pm CET/14:30pm EST. 
Check out Georgios’ Reddit post here for details on buying his book. Just 5EUR for the ebook to anyone who Paypals him at theduedissident@protonmail.com and mentions Brendan! Or you can buy it on Amazon, too. 
Dive into Georgios’ own subreddit, Philosophy of the Frontier. “Here, you will find philosophical content that I have written in the past two years,” he says. 

Tuesday Mar 12, 2024

This episode gets into every angle of a musical instrument you’ve, for sure, heard yet may not know what it’s called. 
Elliot Kanshin Kallen touches on the history of this Japanese flute, the emotions you can conjure from it, how it compares to other breath instruments, and, best of all, plays some notes for us a few times to make a point. We even talk a little Zen Buddhism (because it ties into the history and use of the instrument). 
The angle of the mouth ... how many holes and why ... its complicated popularity and disappearance in Japanese music over the centuries ... and where it shows up now ... it's all here.
This is a must-listen for fans of music and Japanese history. 
For further enjoyment: 
See Kallen play in this short video. 
Visit Kallen’s website here. 
Visit the International Shakuhachi Society, where Kallen is president and archive curator, here. 
If you’re in Sonoma County at the right, check out the Sonoma County Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese arts and culture in California. 
Kallen makes musical recommendations during this podcast, but here are a few in our conversation and some that didn’t make it in: 
Shakuhachi Music: A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky from Yamaguchi Goro (Nonesuch)  
The Japanese Flute by Miyata Kohachirō (Nonesuch) 
Anything from Kallen's friend, Riley Lee, who jokingly says, if you’re in a place and hear New Age-y music with a shakuhachi, well, it’s probably him (website) 

Monday Feb 12, 2024

It’s a new year, 2024, and that means James Gomes re-read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse for the umpteenth time. It’s a short book, it’s in the public domain, and Gomes says he gets something new out of it every time. 
I know that happened for me. He set up an online book club, and I read along with him. I had read the book a few years ago, and based on my reading this time, I didn’t remember as much as I’d thought. I got new insights, but like most things in my brain, they passed away. 
We touch on the biggest themes of existence, life, death, purpose, and more in a wide-ranging discussion this time. They are not resolved. There are big unanswered questions about who the hero is, who's right, and who's wrong. The ending is ambiguous, or open to interpretation. You can get something new every time you read it.
Enjoy. :) 
For further reading: 
You can read see the start to Gomes' Siddhartha reading plan and its resulting posts here. 
You can read a translation of the book here. 
You can listen to my last conversation with Gomes on the book here.

Tuesday Jan 09, 2024

I interviewed Kevin Jones about soft skills in security and law enforcement work for another podcast here. I enjoyed the conversation so much, and I was so intensely curious about his work in law enforcement, that I asked him to drop in for this podcast to talk about his career in law enforcement as well, near the end, about his transition to private security at a regional airport and now overseeing safety programs in a school district. 
Everyone has an opinion about cops, but there aren’t many easy ways to try to get behind the curtain of law enforcement and ask what it’s like to be a cop. 
Kevin delivers. 

Tuesday Dec 12, 2023

I met the Stoics a long time ago, as an adult, sitting in a field outside a local library and reading Epictetus’ Enchiridion (the Handbook). In fact, it was probably one of these copies. 
Well, before Epictetus, there were the Cynics, and their philosophy was a little harder to follow. The famous Diogenes lived more like the animals than the Greeks around him, enjoying the sunshine, wearing whatever he could find, eating whatever he could find. A famous anecdote has him living in a large wine cask, and Alexander the Great asking him, with respect, what boon he could offer. To paraphrase, “If you could move a little to the left, you’re in my light.” 
So, the Cynical philosophy makes for good anecdotes, inspiring countercultural ideas, and a way of life that is probably out of reach of the average person … who doesn’t want to be homeless, wear rags, and live modestly and easily on whatever can be scrounged up. 
That’s a very rambling way of saying I saw a new translation of the Cynics at my local Barnes & Noble, and I jumped on it … then jumped on hunting an interview with the translator, M. D. Usher. And he’d written a marvelous assortment of other books—academic ones, popular and accessible ones, and even ones for kids. 
If you’re interested in practical philosophy and its connection to animals, us, and the web of life we share … well, enjoy my discussion with Mark Usher, the Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature in the Department of Geography and Geosciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington … 
For further reading: 
How to Say No: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Cynicism (Princeton University Press, 2022) 
How to Be a Farmer: An Ancient Guide to Life on the Land (Princeton University Press, 2021), which covers some new, bad-ass translations of short pieces on interconnectedness, homesteading and agriculture from millennia ago. 
Plato’s Pigs and Other Ruminations: Ancient Guides to Living With Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2020) expounds and illustrates Usher’s ideas, drawn from ancient philosophy, about our place among the other animals. 
Diogenes (2009) and Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates (2005), available used here and here, kid-friendly picture books on the two great thinkers 
A 10-year-old article about Usher as an alumnus of University of Chicago 

Tuesday Nov 14, 2023

There is a beautifully un-nail-down-able question-and-answer I have been rolling around, like a stone in a rock polisher, for many years now: What is consciousness? 
It’s the big thing that seems to separate us from other animals: We are conscious or self-reflective or imaginative or reasoning in a way that other creatures, great and small, do not seem to be. 
This quest, which has carried around in the world of neurologists, psychologists, philosophers, theologians, self-help gurus, physicists and more ...led me to Adam Toon, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Exeter. 
His most recent book, Mind as Metaphor: A Defence of Mental Fictionalism (2023, Oxford University Press), discusses a related question he himself has been noodling on: What if our consciousness can make more sense if we admit that many of the truths of reality we hold are convenient fictions? We know some ideas we hold about ourselves and the world aren't true, or not totally true, but they’re useful or convenient or accessible or … well, lots of things. 
What if we admit things that aren’t real are useful to believe? Is that the way we can better understand some part of this weird reason, consciousness, self-awareness we seem to have? 
Let us find out, and along the way discover what brings a former math-and-theoretical-physics-obsessed guy to the world of thinking about science, not just doing science. 
Further stuff you might like: 
> Adam also wrote in 2012, as part of a "New Directions in the Philosophy of Science" series, Models as Make-Believe: Imagination, Fiction and Scientific Representation.
> A favorite book of mine on mind is A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter. If you were ever to read it, I would certainly re-read it and discuss it with you! 
> A favorite podcast of mine on consciousness is Buddhist. The Amaravati Monastery, like Toon in the U.K., shares episodes online here. 

Tuesday Oct 03, 2023

I enjoyed working for a few years with David Doherty with a multimedia publishing and events company in veterinary medicine.
My favorite part was, every couple months, I'd go break into his office, sit down and ask him about sales. I thought his philosophy was fascinating. I don't like sales, but if I had to think about sales, heart about sales, wrap my head around sales ... I enjoyed doing it with Doherty.
Today, Doherty is VP of Market Development with Coffman Group, a franchisee of the Sandler Training method. The Sandler book Doherty mentions is on my to-read list, because if he likes it, I want to read it.
ANYway, whether you hate sales and selling, or you're super interested in it, I guarantee this interview will pay off. There's both high-level thinking and in-the-trenches advice (just a skosh). My favorite part is, David was a killer salesperson, then led salespeople ... but he had to both reinvent himself and get back to basics with a new, shared vocabulary for sales when he wound up in his latest gig with Coffman. 
Everyone sells, even if you don't like to think about it (me). Why not come up with a better mindset around the work ... and consider small tactics that might tweak your selling for the better?
Further research:
David Sandler wrote a number of books, and Sandler Training has reworked them with new titles especially to take account of the changes in our life from the late 20th century (no internet) to now (internet everything). Because I like older books, I'll eventually read some version of Sandler's You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar. But if you're interested in more modern titles, there are a slew of "books and job-aids" offered here.
You can reach Doherty from Coffman Group's website here.

Tuesday Sep 26, 2023

I used to work at a magazine for video store owners. By the time I’d gotten there, it was a vanity publication for the gigantic red-headed stepchildren of Hollywood: home entertainment companies. You know, the big money and focus went into the movies heading to cinema, and direct-to-video/DVD/Blu-ray and the home release of those movies was … not as cool, not as big, etc.
My interviewee, Mike Keller, has been collecting videos, DVDs and Blu-rays for a long time now. We discuss the transition we’ve all lived through: It seemed like everyone was buying video in various formats for their home collections … and then … they weren’t. I mean, everything’s streaming, right? But Keller keeps on keepin’ on. After all, you never know when that streaming service is going to get rid of that TV show or movie … and then … no more watching for you!
If you like movies, movie collecting, collecting, or walks down Memory Lane … you’ll love this chat.
And, yes, that's Keller's wall of awesome home entertainment in his own home ... bask in its glory ... :)
Last bonus! Because Keller’s favorite genre of movie is horror, he ponied up a couple lists for you to peruse. Thanks, Mike! You can find out where to watch these streaming on JustWatch.com or go buy new or used copies on your favorite e-commerce website ... or, y'know, check your local library! 
15 Horror Essentials(that probably everybody has heard of, but they're still essential!)(loosely ranked)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Shining
Night of the Living Dead
The Exorcist
Dracula (1931)
Black Christmas
Friday the 13th
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Ring
15 Lesser-Known High-Recommendations
Carnival of Souls (1962)
The Midnight Hour (1985)
Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Spider Baby (1967)
Prison (1987)
The Gate (1987)
Manhunter (1986)
The Vanishing (1988)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Phantasm (1979)
Psycho II (1983)
Slugs (1988) (completely hilarious)
Superstition (1982)
The Brain (1988)
Pin (1988)


What People Do: Interviews of Discovery

When COVID happened, I started talking to friends, family and acquaintances about something they did. The topics, personalities, and conversational directions go many different ways, but the important thing remains the same: We are all worth the time it takes to sit down and talk a while to each other. What would you learn if you slowed down, asked more questions, and delved into something interesting to ... someone else?

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