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Happy When Curious

Author: Brady Ryan

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My name is Brady Ryan and I am a sea salt farmer on San Juan Island in Washington State. Ever since I was a child I have felt like my main skill was not that I was smarter or stronger or harder working or braver than anyone else, I was just a little more curious than the average cat. Since becoming a parent and trying to be a good husband and small business owner have taken so much of my energy and attention, I feel like this one superpower I have has fallen by the wayside. This podcast is my attempt to rediscover curiosity through conversation and contemplation. I will be alternating conversations with guests one episode with a short musing of my own the next. The musing episodes will allow me to try to explore ideas that I've heard or that I've come up with in an open ended way. My theory is that exploration is worth much more than answers and hopefully the interviews and the musings can live up to that principle.
51 Episodes
Is alcohol a sacrilege or a sacrament? Does it matter how we answer this?
Keep your curiosity candles lit my friends!
What do you reckon? 
Russel Barsh is the director of Kwiaht-Center for the Historical Ecology of the Salish Sea. He studied at Harvard, taught at the University of Washington, and worked for many years at the United Nations on indigenous peoples and their ecosystems before returning to the Northwest and organizing Kwiaht. With a background in human ecology he is especially interested in cultural and economic factors influencing human impacts on the environment, the role of schools, and adaptation of animals and plants to humans. He lives on Lopez Island Washington. 
What elevated feeling do you find yourself craving, but maybe having a hard time articulating exactly what it is, let alone how to get there? For me it's the sensation of not being in the center of the universe-in other words I crave the feeling when the optical illusion that is "I'm at the center of the universe" drops away. Join me as I try to put my craving into words.
Mark Bitterman is an American entrepreneur, food writer and world traveller. He is the author of the James Beard award winning book "Salted: A Manifesto on the world's most essential mineral" along with 4 other books on salt and bitters. He is the owner of The Meadow, a boutique that specializes in a huge array of artisan salts, bean-to-bar chocolates, cocktail bitters, and other products. The Meadow was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 2006, and has expanded to include three locations in Portland and one in New York City.Getting to talk to one of my personal heroes Mark Bitterman was a real treat and I hope you enjoy it and also check out his awesome and unique company The Meadow and his awesome books!
Have you had the experience of passing someone in a car and waving to them and them just completely being in their own world and not seeing you? That experience has always stuck with me and I think it's got something to do with curiosity. 
What makes for great conversation? Conversation that leaves you feeling enriched, that taps into your best self as opposed to your worst and in which you genuinely learn something?Listen in as I'm joined by my brother Tyler to try to elucidate some principles of high level conversation and then take a stab at practicing them!
Parenting is full of interesting philosophical questions. Join me as I think on a few of them that have been bopping around in my brain. As always what I am aiming for is not answers but rather useful rumination.  I am seeking to be an intellectual ruminant. 
Is the human brain more wired towards story than a set of rules to follow?Can religion prescribe behavior without trying to describe reality?What is the most successful example of religious violence?What is the difference between a cult and a religion?These questions and more I discussed with Rebecca Moore.  Rebecca Moore is Emerita Professor of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. One of her research specialties is new religious movements. She co-edited "Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America" and authored "Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple" . Her book "Beyond Brainwashing: Perspectives on Cultic Violence" came out in 2018 and "Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the Twenty-First Century" came out in 2022. Moore also specializes in the history of Christianity. Her book "Voices of Christianity: A Global Introduction" is a text-reader for college courses. "Women in Christian Traditions" offers a feminist analysis of the role women have played in the development of Christianity and "A Blessing to Each Other: A New Account of Jewish and Christian Relations" is one of her newest books. Check out the amazing Jonestown Institute here
It seems to me that being able to sense which mode of thinking we are operating in-attempting to be right or attempting to get it right, really matters. Listen in as I do a short musing on it. 
Amanda is an ethnobotanist and cultural anthropologist. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Washington State University. She researches ethnobotany (including traditional foods and medicines, among other topics) in the Americas, with recent and ongoing projects in Mexico, Guatemala, and the US.Read here awesome blog here Follow her on Twitter hereFollow her on Instagram here
The impulse to say "knock on wood" after certain types of sentences is very strong in me.  But lately I've been feeling like rejecting the impulse. Listen as I try to muddle through it. From Wikipedia:"Knocking on wood (also phrased touching wood) is an apotropaic tradition of literally touching, tapping, or knocking on wood, or merely stating that one is doing or intending to do so, in order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favorable prediction or boast, or a declaration concerning one's own death or another unfavorable situation."
For Adam Summers, natural history and the practice of biomechanics starts with those moments where you witness an animal or plant doing something that you can't quite understand.  How did that eagle fly upside down? How did that fly land on the ceiling? How did that suckerfish stick to that rock?  I find Adam to be one of the most captivating communicators of science and enthusiastic curiosity I've ever encountered, I think you will too. See his bio below and find his Twitter profile here.  Adam Summers is a professor in the department of Biology and in the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Washington. He now runs the comparative biomechanics and biomaterials lab at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs. Current research topics include the evolution and mechanical properties of cartilage and tendon, swimming mechanics of sharks, respiratory patterns of sharks and rays and solid-solid interactions in aquatic organisms. This work has led to more than 90 publications and two patents. He has consulted on films (including one of my personal favorite movies, Finding Nemo), television and for 8 years his monthly column in Natural History Magazine – ‘Biomechanics’, brought comparative biomechanics to a wider audience. 
Join me as I explore what I see as one of the main causes of bad conversations when it comes to topics of public import-the continual muddying of waters between empirical questions and values questions. 
Mandy Fer is one half of the Indie Folk Rock Duo Sway Wild, alongside Dave McGraw, as well as being currently the guitarist for the 3x GRAMMY nominee Allison Russell. You may have recently seen Mandy appearing alongside Allison on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the GRAMMY Awards, or at festivals like Luck Reunion, SXSW, and more.She is a DELIGHT!You can learn more about Sway Wild here You can listen to (and watch the music video for) Chimney Fire hereYou can watch Mandy performing with Allison Russel playing her amazing song Nightflyer at KEXP here
What if there is nothing to fix? I don't think this is literally true, but I do think it's a very useful state of mind to entertain every once in a while.  Join me for a short musing as I think it through. 
Iris Graville is a writer and retired nurse from Lopez Island, WA.  She is the author of the books "Hiking Naked: A Quaker's Search for Balance" and "Writer in a Life Vest" amongst others.  Her profiles and personal essays have been published in national and regional journals and magazines. She holds a Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts where she served as nonfiction editor for Soundings Review. Iris is also the publisher of SHARK REEF online literary magazine. She blogs regularly about writing, the environment, and spiritual matters. In August 2018, Iris was named the first writer-in-residence with the Washington State Ferries. 
Join me as I try to come up with some rules as to who to trust in the wild landscapes of opinions we find ourselves in!
Dan is a homesteader, writer, artist and agroforester in Alaska and the author of the Where the Forest Meets the Sea substack.  I highly suggest reading his blog, it's a very enjoyable read.Our starting point for this conversation: "Why am I moving with my wife and child to a remote stretch of beach in the darkest and rainiest part of this continent, at the far end of every supply chain and convenience? Have I gone mad? Am I completely lost to sense and reason? I would answer that I feel guided on this journey by a great, overarching purpose that has the ability to animate my entire being, and helps me to meet the many challenges along this way. I feel in my heart that I am on the right path."
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