Questions & Answers: Volume 16

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Podcast Transcript

Several centuries ago, many places celebrated the start of the new year in March, not January. 

March was originally the first month of the year, according to the Romans, which is why the Latin numbers for seven, eight, nine, and ten all appear in the months of September, October, November, and December. 

That, however, is no longer the case. Now March is the third month and it means the end of the first fiscal quarter, the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, and of course questions and answers. 

So join me today as I march into your questions on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.

Let’s get right into things.

The first question comes from Michelle Jaques, who asks, “What is your favorite topic to learn about?”

Well, there isn’t one single topic. I think you can probably gather from the nature of this podcast that my interests are all over the place. What I’m interested in is going to change all the time.  

I’ve gone through phases of what I’ve been interested in throughout my entire life. 

When I was in Junior High School, I read voraciously about the space program. When I was younger, I memorized statistics about baseball. Before I started traveling, I had a large coral reef aquarium, where I learned about marine biology and the behavior of corals and anemones. 

When the pandemic started, I started to teach myself Latin, a subject for which I still have a long way to go. 

I think this is really the best way to become an autodidact or a self-learner. You have to follow whatever your interests are and be willing to move on to something new when your interests change. 

Jeremy Sparks asks, “How did you fund your decade of travel? I don’t mean to delve into your personal finances, but it’s so expensive to go to the places that are so distant and non-touristy.”

It is certainly not a problem, as I’ve gotten this question many times.

The initial answer is that I sold a business and my house before I started traveling, so I had savings I could use for the first many years I was traveling. 

Later, my travel blog became popular, my social media accounts gained large followings, and I was able to make money from doing brand ambassadorships and photography projects for travel brands. 

However, one of the big things that most people don’t realize is that if you travel full-time, it is far cheaper than most people think. 

When most people think of the cost of traveling, they are doing so as an expense added on top of all the other expenses they already have. 

However, if you travel full-time, you forgo many of the expenses you have from daily life. No rent or mortgage. No utility bills. No property taxes. No miscellaneous repair expenses. 

Moreover, you almost never stay at expensive hotels, and depending on what part of the world you travel to, it can be extremely affordable. I’ve met people who were able to get by on just a few hundred dollars a month, although I admit that level of spending isn’t for everyone. 

Next, I have two questions that are very similar, so I’ll just lump them together. Alan Massaro asks “Gary, congratulations on your success. Wondering if you know anything about who’s listening? Age? Sex? Country?”

Likewise, Kyle Dunham, asks, “What are the demographics of your listeners? Do they tend to be older or younger? Are they primarily in the US or in other countries? Do your analytics affect your podcast topics??”

I should note that there is only so much you can really know about a podcast audience. Some data you can be quite certain of, and other data is more speculative and you have to extrapolate. 

What I know with a high degree of confidence is the data that comes from IP addresses. IP addresses are roughly assigned by geography, so you can have an idea of where people are downloading the show from. 

As of the day I am recording this, my audience is 73% in the United States, 8% in Canada, 3% in the United Kingdom, 3% in Australia, and then 1% in Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ireland, South Africa, and France.

This has changed dramatically over the last few months. In December, the audience was only about 60% American, and the growth in the show since then has been almost entirely in the US. 

The top cities over the last 30 days are Chicago, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, Portland, Atlanta, Denver, and Melbourne, Victoria.

As far as demographic information, such as age, sex, or income, it is impossible to decipher that from simple internet data. However, some listening platforms have that data and share it in the aggregate. In particular, Spotify had demographic data. 

Spotify only accounts for 16% of my total downloads, but it’s the only data I have. I have no clue if the demographics on Spotify are representative of every other platform. 

According to Spotify, the audience is 70% male and skews older, with 31% between 45-59, 28% between 35-44, and 18% between 28-34. 

I have a suspicion, but cannot prove, that the audience on Apple Podcasts would not skew as male or as old, simply given the nature of iPhone owners. 

Matt Goulet asks, “Being unfamiliar with how debate competitions work, is there ever a case where you’ve had to defend a subject from the side you don’t agree with? And if so, how hard is it to put aside your personal beliefs to debate the other side?”

That is an excellent question Matt. 

There are several different types of debate. The type I did in high school and college, and what I coached after college, is known as policy debate. In policy debate, you debate on a team with a partner. 

A typical debate tournament would have six or eight preliminary rounds to determine seeding, followed by elimination rounds to determine the champion. 

In the preliminary rounds, you will have an even number of debates on the affirmative and negative of whatever the resolution is. In the elimination rounds, you would flip a coin unless you debated the team previously, in which case you would just switch sides. 

So, the answer is, yes, you are debating something you don’t believe all the time, and that is one of the benefits of the activity. Being forced to debate both sides of an issue makes you take a perspective on something that you otherwise wouldn’t.

Kevin Hultgren asks, “Why is Christopher Columbus credited with discovering the Americas when the Vikings had a settlement in Newfoundland centuries earlier? Or did they?”

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: neither Columbus nor the Vikings ‘discovered’ the Americas. The discovery was probably made by some unknown person walking across the Bering Land Bridge around 20,000 years ago.

That being said, in a previous episode, I covered the Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. There is ample evidence that there was a Viking settlement in North America centuries before Columbus arrived in the New World. 

Putting aside the issue of discovery, why was Columbus given so much more attention than the Vikings when the Vikings were there first?

For starters, no one knew the Vikings had arrived until a team of archeologists discovered their settlement in the 1960s. 

Second, and most importantly, nothing became of it. There are a great many things for whom credit is given, not the person who does it first, but the person who does it first, the best. 

It was the voyage of Columbus, for better or worse, that led to the exchange between the new and old worlds and the creation of the world as we know it today. 

The Viking settlements were the equivalent of an evolutionary dead end. The settlement ended, and no follow-up was ever made.

This isn’t the only case like this where someone technically might have come first but isn’t given credit. The electric incandescent lightbulb is often credited to Thomas Edison. Getting an electrical current to incandese isn’t particularly hard. Just run enough current through a wire, and it will start to glow. 

Many people created bulbs that could create light from electricity, but their systems weren’t practical. 

However, Edison created a practical system that could be used anywhere. 

The same is true with the printing press. The first printing press was developed in China. However, this technology was highly controlled, and the system they used was difficult.

Gutenberg’s printing press unleashed a revolution, which is why he’s usually given credit. It was his system, which came later, which was the foundation of modern printing, not the Chinese system.

In fact, in almost every episode I’ve done on inventions, there is usually some early inventor who created some impractical version of something who doesn’t usually get the credit. 

The same is true with the Vikings and Columbus.

Ja Teng asks, What type of travel is your favorite? For example, backpacking on foot, cruising down a river, bus, train, plane, or something else I can’t think of?

I don’t really think there is a type of travel. All of the things you listed are modes of transportation. Depending on where you want to go, you might have to take different modes of transportation. 

When I was in Egypt, I went from Cairo to Luxor by train, but then I went back up by taking a riverboat that stopped at various temples along the way. I took a bus to get to Abu Simbel in the desert. 

Different modes of transportation all for pretty much the same purpose. 

If you want to visit Antarctica, you are probably going to have to get on a ship. There are flights to Antarctica, but they usually involve landing on a glacier and not being able to see much beyond ice. 

I took the Blue Train in South Africa, which was a totally different experience from the one I had on a road trip around South Africa. 

If there is a ‘type’ of travel, I would say it has more to do with your budget and the type of accommodations you stay in, not your modes of transportation. 

Jordan from the Discord server, and yes, I do have a Discord server, asks, In your travels, what’s your favorite place you’ve spent less than 48 hours in? What’s your favorite place you’ve spent at least two weeks in?

For a place where I’ve spent less than 48 hours, I’ll probably have to go with Macau. I visited Macau on Christmas Day 2007. I took a very early ferry from Hong Kong and spent the entire day exploring Macau.

Macau isn’t very big, and I visited most of the major attractions while I was there. I ended up taking the last ferry back to Hong Kong, which was an extremely full day, but it was only one day. 

There are several places where I’ve spent more than two weeks. By that, I’m only counting locations where I stayed at the same accommodations in the same city for at least two weeks straight. That would include Melbourne, Bangkok, Saigon, and Apia, Samoa.

However, I’d have to say my favorite place was Girona, in Catalonia, Spain. Girona is about an hour north of Barcelona, and I spent three months there. 

Girona was used as one of the shooting locations for Game of Thrones, and it is a very overlooked city, mostly because of its proximity to Barcelona.

I was able to get to know the city quite well and was there long enough to become a regular at some pubs and restaurants. 

If you are in Catalonia, I highly recommend visiting Girona. 

My last question comes from Fat Yankee, also on the Discord server. He asks, Gary, I lived the first 29 years of my life like I wasn’t going to see 30. Now I just turned 40, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to rebel and delve into whatever it is young adults are doing, like pickleball and TikTok, or just accept it and start yelling at neighborhood kids to get off my lawn… Any suggestions?

My suggestion is to not worry about it. You get old, and things change. By all means, I would not suggest trying to act like you are in your 20s when you are in your 40s because then you will just be the creepy old guy. 

Pursue your interests, and don’t worry about what you should be doing. 

Also, I think we’ve lived with social media long enough now that we can see that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It is largely a waste of time, and I think everyone’s time is better off being spent on longer-form content where you can learn something, not tiny bits of text or video that offer nothing more than opinions or fads.

…and while I do not play pickleball, I know some people who do, and I’m pretty sure it is not something that the kids play. It mostly attracts adults, actually, as it is easier and less stressful than tennis. 

That wraps it up for this month. I know there were a lot of questions I didn’t get to this time, but If you would like to have your question answered next month, just join the Facebook group or the Discord server, the links to which are in the show notes.