Camouflage and podcasts

My son is fascinated with the military. A few weeks back, we pulled into Aunt Sue’s, a country meat and three in Pickens County. A convoy of soldiers pulled in behind us. They ate quickly and returned to their weekend mission. As each one walked out, my son looked up from his mac and cheese and waved. To their credit, most of the soldiers waved back.

It’s not uncommon to see convoys around these parts. We saw one just last weekend as we drove down I-26 toward Columbia. Most of the trucks were covered in the typical brown and green camouflage I always associated with the military. Because I’d never thought about it or bothered to do any research, I wrongly assumed all the green/brown combos were holdovers from the Vietnam era. I wondered aloud to a wife who generously feigned interest in my curiosity, “I wonder why most of the vehicles have switched over to desert camouflage. After all, that’s where a majority of our conflicts are being fought these days.” Then I wondered, perhaps a bit more ominously, if the vehicles were remaining in the green and brown for a different reason–maybe a conflict elsewhere in the world or even on American soil.

As I sat down this morning with absolutely nothing about which to write (I am suffering a pretty painful dearth of anecdotes and Otis miscellany), I thought to research and write a bit about military camouflage. Yes, it’s gotten that desperate. As I started to research the subject, I discovered it was both as interesting as I’d hoped and completely boring as you might expect a paper on camouflage to be. I’d answered my question within a matter of minutes (see. U.S. Woodland for a quick answer).

By the time I’d decided what I was writing would be no more than a rehash of a Wikipedia page, I thought, “Man, this would make a great Stuff You Should Know podcast.” No surprise, the website already has a report on the subject.

I made it several years into my digital life before embracing the world of the podcast. I figured I spent enough time reading on and offline. When I went eyes-free (walking, hanging out in dark places, driving, etc), I generally listened to music. As my eyes-free time expanded recently, I started looking for other ways to fill my brain. Audio books were always kind to me. Back in the early days of my relationship with the wife, we lived eight hours apart for nearly a year. Every two weeks, I’d get off work in Jackson, MS at 6pm on a Friday and drive the eight hours to Columbia, MO where she was still in school. Before I left, I’d stop at Blockbuster and rent a few audio books. They were my friends on I-55 for a very long time. I downloaded a few audio books to my iPod at the end of 2008 and they started filling my recent void.

So, a month or so back, a bunch of friends on Twitter made some recommendations and I set about downloading. Before long, I had hours of content that got me through several long drives and other eyes-free time. Among the shows I listen to on a regular basis (or at least as regularly as they update):

  • Coverville
  • NPR: Driveway Moments
  • PokerRoad Radio
  • The Ricky Gervais Podcast
  • Stephen Fry’s Podgrams
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • TEDtalks
  • This American Life
  • WNYC’s Radio Lab
  • It’s not enough. I need more. As I strive to spend less time in front of my computer, I have to keep my brain working. Podcasts seem to be the way to do it, at least for now. Luckily for me, there are so many podcasts out there for me to listen to, like the ones found at Likewise ( so I have enough to keep me going for a while yet. Surely I can’t get bored during this time? Well, I hope I don’t anyway.

    So, here’s where I go all Lazyweb on you and ask, “What are you listening to?”

    Brad Willis

    Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

    You may also like...

    4 Responses

    1. KenP says:

      “Every two weeks, I’d get off work in Jackson, MS at 6pm and drive the eight hours to Columbia, MO where she was still in school.”

      Having at least seen pics of the two of you together, I have to ask…

      Grade school?

    2. otis says:

      Ah, Ken. Well-played, sir.

      For the record, my wife is about a year and half younger. She has aged well. I, obviously, am choosing to race to old and distinguished as quickly as possible. The fact that old and distinguished are mutually exclusive is not lost on me.

    3. Special K says:

      TWiT – This Week in Tech
      2+2 Poker Podcast
      The History of Rome
      Hardcore History*
      The Classic Tales Podcast

      All of the above have honored places on my iPod and help pass many hours on the road. HH is my absolute favorite, but history is not everyone’s thing. All of the above are on iTunes.

    4. ExMember says:

      Car Talk: Call of the Week: Two minutes of the Click and Clack call in show where they answer questions from people with car trouble. Being MIT graduates in know way prevents these guys from being antic knuckle heads.

      Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Instead of watching televised news I learn about it from Leno’s monologue and this show. 45 minutes long, and weekly.

      This I Believe. Five minutes essays on personal philosophies.

      60 Second Science. Like Stuff you should know, but short, concise, and accurate. Thank Wil for telling me about this.

      Writing Excuses. Writers get together to talk about writing in fifteen minute increments.

      I don’t have much eyes-free time, so I’ve gravitated towards shorter things I can listen to when washing dishes or doing other physical chores.