Betwixt Code and Music

Staying Sane with a Long Commute

May 19, 2016

or Podcasts!

Before I get too far in, please understand how Dallas works. Everyone drives because we mostly live outside of the city proper. There is a big movement to live downtown and use public transit, but I am one the stooges who has lived in the ‘burbs for my entire life.

That being said, I have a little help to offer on how to stay sane while driving 60+ minutes twice a day. Two words: Podcasts & Music.


I started listening to podcasts long ago when I was learning about the “Getting Things Done” methodology (© 2016 David Allen, Co.). As I searched for more details about getting my mental crazy walls more organized, I stumbled upon the venerable Merlin Mann and his internet web site 43Folders. You should look them both up, for realsies. I immediately liked his writing style and checked back in from time to time. I started listening to his popular podcast with Dan Benjamin called “Back to Work” on the 5by5 network right as they started. I was an early adopter to this thought technology, especially for someone living in the ‘burbs in Dallas. And yes, it is ironic to listen to 90+ minutes episodes of a podcast that is nominally about getting “back to work”…that is part of the beauty of it all!

I was hooked on this medium. I tried a few pod-catchers (these technologists come up with great words!) over the last few years. I settled on the Overcast app for iOS because it shortened the silences and was rather customizable in a few ways. I always listen at normal speed—I’m not an animal.

So…erm…I kept listening to the podcasts, and it made driving bearable. I have always been able to just look out of the window and daydream about most anything—it is a “pipes and wires” thing, or perhaps a product of constant reading/writing as a child—but this makes the time pass really nicely for me. I drove back and forth to Austin last fall eleven times while enrolled in The Iron Yard code school. Podcasts and music kept me learning on the road and thinking about design/development. I also long ago gave up trying to catch every episode of the podcasts that I follow. There is never enough time for such things! I do make time each day to listen while driving, but I let go if/when I fall behind.

Here are some of the podcasts and musics that I have been into recently. Go forth and find your own comfort voices and sounds!


Back to Work - 5by5 dot tv slash b2w

Roderick on the Line - merlinmann dot com slash roderick

Road Work - 5by5 dot tv slash roadwork

Planet Money

99% Invisible

Shop Talk

Front End Five

The Dalrymple Report


HTTP 203

Reconcilable Differences

Robot or Not?

This American Life


Snarky Puppy - hard to define, funk music meets jam meets world music

Radiohead - radiohead dot com - all of it

Nerve - jojomayer dot com - Jojo Mayer on drums, all electronic music made by acoustic instruments

Tigran Hamasyan - tigranhamasyan dot com - jazz meets the Balkans

Clifford Brown & Max Roach - jazz

Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya - classical Peruvian guitar

Michael D. Mathew.

Written by Mike Mathew who lives and works in Dallas building useful things. Sometimes he tweets.

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