100 episodes

Rolf Potts veers off-topic in this unique series of conversations with experts, public figures, and intriguing people.

Deviate with Rolf Potts Rolf Potts

    • Places & Travel

Rolf Potts veers off-topic in this unique series of conversations with experts, public figures, and intriguing people.

    Life-changing travel experiences: China and Mongolia with my parents

    Life-changing travel experiences: China and Mongolia with my parents

    “Home is in dialogue with the places you travel, and often serves as an interpretive lens.” – Rolf Potts 
    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and his parents reflect their journey to China and Mongolia many years ago. The episode starts with an excerpt of Rolf’s 2001 NPR dispatch about the experience, then they recall their visit Korea four years earlier, when Rolf worked as an English teacher in Pusan (13:00); then they recount their impressions of staying together in a youth hostel in China, and exploring the sights of Beijing (20:00); and finally they recall their train ride to Mongolia, and their unusual experiences in the countryside outside of Ulan Bator (48:00).
    George and Alice Potts are retired schoolteachers based in Kansas. Alice taught second graders in the Wichita public schools for more than 30 years. In 1994 her classes succeed in promoting legislation to declare the barred tiger salamander the Kansas State Amphibian. George taught science at various Wichita high schools, as well as at Friends University, where he pioneered graduate-level programs in Zoo Science and Environmental Studies. He also helped facilitate the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites (OWLS) program for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
    Notable Links:

    Raising My Parents in Mongolia, by Rolf Potts (NPR broadcast)
    The Rewatchables (podcast)
    The great railway bizarre (2018 Deviate podcast episode)
    On the Trans-Siberian Express, by Rolf Potts (1999 essay)
    Noraebang (Korean interactive music entertainment)
    Temple of Heaven (complex of religious buildings in Beijing)
    Tiananmen Square (large public square in Beijing)
    Summer Palace (ensemble of gardens and palaces in Beijing)
    Beijing Museum of Natural History
    Beijing Zoo 
    Sedgwick County Zoo (Kansas wildlife park)
    Flint Hills (iconic prairie region in Kansas)
    Naadam (Mongolian festival)
    Ger (Mongolian-style tent)
    Karakorum (old Mongolian imperial capital)
    Tough Mongolian horse-riding girl mentioned in episode (photo)

    This episode is also brought to you by AirTreks, an industry leader in multi-stop international travel. If you’ve ever planned a trip with multiple stops, you know that finding the right flights can be difficult. Between balancing travel logistics and cost, it often becomes impossible to build an itinerary that matches your travel goals.  AirTreks is a distributed travel company with employees working from all corners of the world to help with your flight planning, specializing in complex routes with up to 25 stops. The AirTreks website offers suggested pre-planned travel itineraries to help you get started, but can customize to fit your journey.

    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Why dinosaurs matter (also: Rolf fact-checks the dino book he wrote at age 7)

    Why dinosaurs matter (also: Rolf fact-checks the dino book he wrote at age 7)

    “Common sense is a very poor guide to understanding the universe. Science is kind of the opposite of common sense. It seems fanciful to think that a bird is a dinosaur, but that is literally true.”  –Kenneth Lacovara
    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Kenneth discuss why dinosaurs matter, especially for little kids (5:00); how we have come to learn what we know about dinosaurs (23:00); the “butterfly effect,” and how we use the ancient past to predict the future (35:00); the distinctions between the dinosaurs, and what field-work looks like (42:00); and myths about dinosaurs (53:00).
    Kenneth Lacovara (@kenlacovara) is a paleontologist and geologist. He is a professor at Rowan University and fellow at the Explorers Club where he received the Explorers Club Medal, the highest honor bestowed by The Explorers Club. He is the author of the book Why Dinosaurs Matter, which is based on his TED Talk, “Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe.”
    Notable Links:

    Dinosaurs, by Rolf Justin Potts (PDF of Rolf’s hand-illustrated 1978 “book”)
    Paleontology (scientific study of life predating the Holocene Epoch)
    Jurassic Park (movie)
    Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event
    Hallucigenia (genus of Cambrian xenusiids)
    Triassic (geologic period)
    Jurassic (geologic period)
    Origin of birds (started as theropod dinosaurs)
    Clades (organism group consisting of a common ancestor and its descendants)
    Sauropsids (clade consisting of reptiles and birds)
    Synapsids (animal group that includes mammals)
    Hominids (taxonomic family of primates)
    Butterfly effect (chaos theory postulation)

    Dinosaurs mentioned:

    Tyrannosaurus Rex (carnivorous theropod)
    Stegosaurus (armored herbivore)
    Triceratops (herbivorous ceratopsid)
    Ankylosaurus (armored herbivorous)
    Brontosaurus (herbivorous sauropod)
    Velociraptor (carnivorous theropod)
    Allosaurus (carnivorous theropod)
    Dreadnoughtus (herbivorous sauropod)
    Brachiosaurus (herbivorous sauropod)
    Diplodocus (herbivorous sauropod)
    Titanosauria (herbivorous sauropod)
    Argentinosaurus (herbivorous sauropod)
    Camptosaurus (beaked ornithischian)
    Spinosaurus (carnivorous theropod)
    Teratosaurus (Triassic archosaur)
    Pterodactyl (flying pterosaur)

    This episode is also brought to you by AirTreks, an industry leader in multi-stop international travel. If you’ve ever planned a trip with multiple stops, you know that finding the right flights can be difficult. Between balancing travel logistics and cost, it often becomes impossible to build an itinerary that matches your travel goals.  AirTreks is a distributed travel company with employees working from all corners of the world to help with your flight planning, specializing in complex routes with up to 25 stops. The AirTreks website offers suggested pre-planned travel itineraries to help you get started, but can customize to fit your journey.
    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.
    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    What Matt Green discovered by walking every single street in New York City

    What Matt Green discovered by walking every single street in New York City

    “Traveling, for me, is all about destroying stereotypes and narratives about people and places.” – Matt Green
    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Matt discuss Matt’s mission to walk every street in New York City (3:00); walking across the entire United States and breaking stereotypes (12:00); bucket lists as a catalyst for action (28:00); and Matt’s experiences walking in unfamiliar places and finding comfort in being a stranger (50:00).
    Matt Green is the wanderer who was profiled within the documentary The World Before your Feet, directed by filmmaker Jeremy Workman and produced by Jesse Eisenberg. Matt has walked across the entire United States and is currently in the process of walking every street in New York City. For more about Matt and his current project, check out https://imjustwalkin.com/.
    Notable Links:

    East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (book)
    East of Eden excerpt
    The Journey Home, by Edward Abbey (book)
    Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck (book)
    Cannery Row excerpt
    Gary House (traveler)
    The World Before Your Feet at Kanopy

    This episode is also brought to you by AirTreks, an industry leader in multi-stop international travel. If you’ve ever planned a trip with multiple stops, you know that finding the right flights can be difficult. Between balancing travel logistics and cost, it often becomes impossible to build an itinerary that matches your travel goals.  AirTreks is a distributed travel company with employees working from all corners of the world to help with your flight planning, specializing in complex routes with up to 25 stops. The AirTreks website offers suggested pre-planned travel itineraries to help you get started, but can customize to fit your journey.
    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.
    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 1 hr 30 min
    A personal history of being a lifelong pro-sports fan (Super Bowl special)

    A personal history of being a lifelong pro-sports fan (Super Bowl special)

    “Because I was entering football fandom at the same age that Star Wars was blowing up, the Roger Staubach Dallas Cowboys were my Luke Skywalker, and the Steelers and the Raiders were, in my child mind, the Evil Empire.” —Rolf Potts
    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf shares his 2002 NPR “Savvy Traveler” dispatch about trying to watch the Super Bowl in Thailand (2:00); then he and Tod Goldberg discuss how they became NFL football fans as kids in the 1970s, and how this affected their fandom later in life (9:00); how it could be difficult in the days before the Internet for kids to find information about NFL teams and players, and which books they read about the early days of pro football (26:00); the origins of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs in upstart pro leagues, their more recent fortunes in the NFL, and how the last Chiefs Super Bowl appearance was nine months before Rolf was born (42:30); on watching Super Bowls from overseas and following the Chiefs (or 49ers) as adults, the strengths of the 2020 Chiefs and 49ers teams, and the emotional stakes of Super Bowl LIV (53:00).
    Novelist Tod Goldberg (@todgoldberg) is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including the novel Gangsterland, which is currently being developed into a television series for Amazon. He is also the director of the University of California-Riverside Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA, and the co-host of the Literary Disco podcast.
    NFL games and players:

    Super Bowl LIV (2020 KC Chiefs versus SF 49ers NFL title game)
    Rolf Benirschke (San Diego Chargers placekicker in the 1980s)
    Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys quarterback in the 1970s)
    Jack Lambert (Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker in the 1970s)
    Christian “Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye (Chiefs fullback in the 1980s)
    Ray Guy (Oakland Raiders punter in the 1970s)
    Mike Mercer (NFL punter in the 1960s)
    Lou “The Toe” Groza (NFL punter and offensive tackle in the 1950s)
    Marshall Goldberg (Jewish Chicago Cardinals running back in the 1940s)
    Red “Galloping Ghost” Grange (Chicago Bears player-coach in the 1930s)
    1934 NFL Championship Game, aka the “Sneakers Game” (title game)
    1940 NFL Championship Game, (73-0 Bears-Giants title game)
    Steve Grogan (New England Patriots quarterback in the 1980s)
    Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Cowboys defensive end in the 1980s)
    Super Bowl IV (1970 Chiefs versus Vikings NFL title game)
    NFL Films: Super Bowl IV Highlights (sports documentary)
    Hank Stram (Chiefs coach from 1960-1974)
    Len Dawson (Chiefs quarterback in the 1960s and 1970s)
    Lloyd C. A. Wells (pioneering scout for the Chiefs in the 1960s)
    Todd Blackledge (Chiefs 1983 draft-pick quarterback)
    Super Bowl XLVII (2013 Ravens versus 49ers NFL title game)
    Patrick Mahomes (current Chiefs quarterback)
    Andy Reid (current Chiefs head coach)
    Jimmy Garoppolo (current 49ers quarterback)
    Super Bowl XVI (1981 49ers versus Bengals NFL title game)

    Other links:

    Kumbh Mela (Indian Hindu pilgrimage celebrated every 12 years)
    Watching the Super Bowl in Namibia, by Rolf Potts (essay)
    Super Bowl Exile (Rolf’s 2002 NPR dispatch)
    Tod Goldberg on why sports is so emotionally affecting (Deviate episode)
    The Catch (touchdown reception in the 1981 NFC Championship Game)
    West Coast offense (passing-oriented football strategy)
    Matthew Zapruder (American poet and editor)
    Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas (NFL franchise location change)
    Candlestick Park (former stadium that hosted San Francisco 49ers games)
    Tom Landry, Existentialist, Dead at 75, by Sarah Vowell (essay)
    Nerf (toy brand that made foam footballs)
    Tecmo Bowl (1980s football video game)
    Sears Christmas Wish Book was great American literature (Deviate episode)
    Championship: The NFL Title Games Plus Super Bowl, Jerry Izenberg (book)
    The Super Bowl Shuffle (rap song performed by the 1985 Chicago Bears)
    Bill Haley & His Comets (early rock a

    • 1 hr 9 min
    The power of small choices across decades: The Sgt. John Monk story

    The power of small choices across decades: The Sgt. John Monk story

    “You have to make moves that will not just impact your today but the lives of folks down the road.” —Kaye Monk-Morgan
    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Kaye discuss the life of her grandfather John Monk, growing up in Louisiana during Jim Crow, and the extended impacts of sharecropping (13:00); the challenges of assimilating to military life and overcoming racial adversity during World War II (25:00); and how small choices and sacrifices can have an outsized impact on our lives and the lives of others (43:00).
    John Monk (1916-2018) was born into a family of sharecroppers in Haynesville, Louisiana. He served in the United States Army through World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. After retiring from the military he moved to Wichita, where he raised his family and worked as a doorman at Park Lane Towers. Kaye Monk-Morgan is an Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wichita State University, where she facilitates leadership and professional development opportunities for low-income and first-generation students, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
    Notable Links:

    Targeting Black Veterans: Lynching in America (Equal Justice Initiative report)
    Long-ago choice leads to life of dreams fulfilled (newspaper story on John Monk)
    Hometown Heroes: 101-year-old Army veteran’s secret to life (TV story on John Monk)
    Jim Crow laws (local laws enforcing racial segregation)
    Sharecropping (agricultural landowner/tenant arrangement)
    Harlem Hellfighters (World War I infantry regiment)
    Greatest Generation (American demographic cohort)
    Fort Knox (United States Army post in Kentucky)
    Barrage balloon (anti-aircraft kite balloon used in WWI and WWII)
    Quartermaster (senior soldier who supervises barracks)
    Drill Sergeant (non-commissioned officer assigned to train new recruits)
    Dockum Drug Store sit-in (1958 Wichita Civil Rights protest)
    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967 Sidney Poitier movie)
    Exodusters (African Americans who migrated to Kansas in 1879)
    Barry Sanders (Wichita-born NFL Hall of Fame running back)

    This episode is also brought to you by AirTreks, an industry leader in multi-stop international travel. If you’ve ever planned a trip with multiple stops, you know that finding the right flights can be difficult. Between balancing travel logistics and cost, it often becomes impossible to build an itinerary that matches your travel goals.  AirTreks is a distributed travel company with employees working from all corners of the world to help with your flight planning, specializing in complex routes with up to 25 stops. The AirTreks website offers suggested pre-planned travel itineraries to help you get started, but can customize to fit your journey.
    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    • 1 hr
    Chris Guillebeau on goals, writing books, and travel as alt-university

    Chris Guillebeau on goals, writing books, and travel as alt-university

    “Have a bias toward action.” – Chris Guillebeau
    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Chris discuss Chris’ quest to travel to every country in the world (4:30); discovering and fine-tuning your passions through travel (17:00); exploring creativity through various mediums, and discontentment as a catalyst for change (27:00); knowing when to write a book (44:00); and overcoming adversity as a creative person (56:00).
    Chris Guillebeau (@chrisguillebeau), who visited every country in the world before his 35th birthday is a New York Times bestselling author. His books include The Art of Non-Conformity, The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit, and Side Hustle. He is also the host of the Side Hustle School podcast. For more on Chris, check out https://chrisguillebeau.com/ or his 193 Countries Project at https://www.instagram.com/193countries/. 
    Notable Links:

    School of Travel (podcast)
    The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss (book)
    Rolf’s Big Idea Book Bootcamps
    Paris Writing Workshops
    World Domination Summit (event)
    Ryan Holiday (author)
    Scrivener (note management application)
    Evernote (note management application)

    This episode of Deviate is brought to you by TripScout. This app provides a portal for visual discovery by featuring the best articles and videos from top publishers and local experts for each destination. Every restaurant, café, shop, or site featured within the content is mapped to one of TripScout’s 100 million+, constantly updated points of interest. With one tap, travelers can save anything they discover, allowing them to stitch together their perfect trip into a full, personalized itinerary that is connected to a downloadable offline map. More information at Deviate‘s TripScout link. Also: Check out TripScout founder Konrad Waliszewski’s School of Travel podcast.
    This episode is also brought to you by AirTreks, an industry leader in multi-stop international travel. If you’ve ever planned a trip with multiple stops, you know that finding the right flights can be difficult. Between balancing travel logistics and cost, it often becomes impossible to build an itinerary that matches your travel goals.  AirTreks is a distributed travel company with employees working from all corners of the world to help with your flight planning, specializing in complex routes with up to 25 stops. The AirTreks website offers suggested pre-planned travel itineraries to help you get started, but can customize to fit your journey.
    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.
    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

Tight Rope Walker ,

So good.

Rolf's most recent episode with Tod Goldberg is a wonderfully entertaining romp down memory lane for those of us who recall the relative scarcity of NFL information and memorabilia pre-Internet age. Thank you, Rolf and Tod, for setting this year's Super Bowl in an interesting social-historical context!

Clarisse Gomez ,

Awesome Podcast!!!

Rolf, host of the Deviate podcast, highlights all aspects of interesting, influiential individuals and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

Suiytiibvgfhjj ,

Great travel podcast

Less about what to see when traveling and more about how to travel. Really interesting and thought provoking.

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