Have you visited PostSecret lately? In case you've never heard of it, this is a social-experiment/blog where anonymously sent post cards are posted for the greater internet to view. The author, Frank, calls it a social art experiment. Every week, he posts a few of the postcard secrets he receives to his blog. Some are poignant, some are funny, some are sad, but they are all interesting.

My favorite funny secret of late was, "Me and my siblings all have our phones set to play Darth Vader's Imperial March when Mom calls."

On the other end, here's an example more poignant secret, and one that seems to reflect the very reason I write this blog: "I am creative enough to be dissatisfied, but not talented enough to find peace."

What secret would you share with the world?


He's back!

I made it back from New York and Washington DC late last night. It was an amazing trip, exhausting in so many ways, but so fulfilling in so many others. There are many stories to tell and pictures to post, but I do, unfortunately, have to be back to work tomorrow, so I'll make it a quick one.

The capstone of my trip was the flight home. Normally air travel is just a necessary evil, fraught with turbulence, delays, and bored flight attendants. These are typical of flying, but there is one thing, unequivocally, that every traveler fears, and that is sitting next to a baby or small child. It's even worse than sitting next to an obese person who, by they're very nature, continually overflows into your personal space. (They have the right to travel too, don't they? And aren't we all victims of ever shrinking airplane seats?) At least adults understand that their ears will pop, the plane will bump and jostle occasionally, and disturbing noises will emit from the surroundings. To a baby, it must be like slow torture.

But I digress... As I boarded my flight from Dulles to Denver, I first noticed (once I passed the palace of first class) that I was sitting in the center seat, so I would enjoy neither window nor aisle. And when I got to my row, I actually walked right past it, because, in disbelief, I noticed the window seat adjacent to mine was already occupied by a woman and a baby. As I stowed my carry-on, I honestly muttered something mildly profane under my breath. I wondered what I could have done to anger the travel gods to deserve such a fate. Perhaps this was punishment for never turning off my iPod during takeoffs and landings.

But, believe it or not, I'm a pretty amiable guy, and after about an hour into the flight, with the little guy soundly asleep, I asked the woman how old the the child was. This was the only non-offensive question I could think of, as I was hoping the woman would talk a little bit about herself. Normally, I'm not an in-flight talker (there's nothing worse that being trapped in an enclosed space with someone who won't shut up) but, my curiosity was piqued because the baby was very black and the woman very white, and the woman was traveling alone.

The woman then explained something absolutely remarkable. Less than 24 hours previous, the little guy had been in Ethiopia, where the woman had picked him up from an orphanage and was bringing him back to his adoptive family in the United States. It was at this point that I realized I was sitting next to a miracle, a triumph of humanity -- not only by the social worker and the boy's new parents, but by the child himself -- who survived conditions that would be unimaginable to most of the people in the US.

Staring at the sleeping boy, marveling at his tiny hands, all I could think of was the amazing life he had a ahead of him in his new country. I felt an overpowering sense of hope and pride, knowing that there is so much good in people, and that these parents, who would take in this beautiful baby from overseas, were my countrymen. When I thought of this young boy in the context of all the monuments and memorials I had seen over the past week, I stirred with solemn recognition of the true American spirit that had made this boy's journey possible. Despite whatever discontent and political strife that afflicts us today, it's wonderful to live in a place with that offers such hope.


Eating alone...

Why is it so awkward to eat alone in a restaurant? Not only is it somewhat uncomfortable to ask for a table for one, at some places it means that you're resigned to crappy service or sitting at the bar. Perhaps the worst part is when your server assumes your solitude is involuntary and takes it upon him or herself to be your friend for the evening. No, I promise I'm not lonely, I'm just out here on business, and your in front of the TV during a bowl game.


These vagabond shoes...

I'm in NY right now. It's pretty amazing. As I've contemplated how to chronicle this trip, I was thinking that it should be a culinary journey. Eating is one of those things that all humans do, and it's a very important, if not essential, part of many cultures. (It's really too bad that we invented fast food here in the US.) Anyway, here is a view of my travels, as seen from my stomach....

2 am, Wednesday: A bag of Blue chips (from "real blue potatoes", as the bag proclaims) and two bottles of water, I'm on the JetBlue red-eye from SLC to JFK. The guy to my right was snoring, and the girl on my left kept fidgeting.

6 am, Wednesday: A banana and bottle of water, in the JFK airport near the baggage carousel. I grabbed this quick bite before catching my shuttle. The shuttle itself was a real trip and this 2 dollar banana kept me awake on the hour and half trip through Queens and uptown.

10 am, Wednesday: Not having slept for 10 hours, I was really out of it, so I did something I almost never do, which is to eat at McDonald's. (Yeah, I know, stop booing.) What can I say, McGriddles are strangely good. They are also loaded with carbs, because afterwards, I was able to fall asleep in a very uncomfortable chair in the hotel lobby while lots of people came out of the elevator on their way out.

1 pm, Wednesday: Bagel w/cream cheese and a bottle of Coke, Natural History Museum. I was really enjoying the museum, but I knew I needed to eat. I also knew that I didn't want to waste money on museum cafeteria food. It also had to be quick, because I had a 1:30 showing in the planetarium. I love planetariums. I'll bet the invention of planetariums and LSD were coincidental.

6 p, Wednesday: pepperoni slice at Perfecto Pizzeria, 1 block from our dingy hotel. You can't go to New York with an authentic slice that's so big you have have to fold it in half lengthwise. This would be the first time I noted something quite common in New York: that there is no relation between the ethnicity of the food and the ethnicity of the people serving the food. I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but it kind of shatters the illusion of a "pizan" flinging dough in the air in the back.

Later Wednesday night: having been awake for 24 hours straight, I pretty much collapsed in a heap in bed, so no dessert tonight

10 am, Thursday: western omelet on a roll, fresh squeezed orange juice at the Sunrise Deli in Times square. I was behind three ladies that ordered "egg white omelets with spinach and tomatoes, but no cheese". These omelets are not the neatly folded things I'm used to at Denny's. Still, not bad. I also found it very interesting that the cashier new immediately that I was out of town, and in contrast to the three ladies, needed him to slow down and lay off the accent a little.

2 pm, Thursday: pizza pretzel, Battery Park. We were on our way back to the subway from taking the ferry out to Liberty and Ellis islands. Both sites were amazing, especially for someone whose family immigrated to the US shortly after WWII. But the pretzel was less impressive ... thankfully I only had a bite of the pretzel. We thought about eating on the island, but the sloshing on the ferry ride back was a little bit of a concern.

4 pm, Thursday: roast beef and roasted peppers on a roll. This was a great sandwich from another deli in times square. I just love that the thinly sliced roast beef is still nice and pink while being piled an inch thick.

8 pm, Thursday: Reese's pieces and half a bag of Twizzler's, the Marquise Theatre in Times Square, before the show. It seemed a little low class to eat something as pedestrian as candy at a Broadway show, but so does drinking wine out of a plastic glass.

11 pm, Thursday: buffalo chicken wings and French onion soup, Junior's at times square. After a great show, I enjoyed a great bowl of soup, with a really potent sourdough/rye crouton on the top. (I'm always on the lookout for a good bowl of onion soup.) The chicken wings were also good, and we had some great NY-style cheesecake to finish things off. At this point, I would like to make a point for all those in Utah. Cheesecake is a relatively SOLID dessert; not a semi-sour pudding-like substance poured into a graham-cracker crust pie tin.

11 am, Friday: Greek omelet, hash-browns and white toast from a bakery down the street. The thought of feta cheese in a breakfast foot was a little disconcerting, but this omelet was actually quite good. Ironically, they didn't have any sourdough toast in the bakery, only white toast. About this time, sleet started to fall, and got more ferocious as we wandered to the natural history museum and then to the Met.

3 pm, Friday: kosher hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut, and a salted pretzel with cheese dip, in Grand Central station. Even mundane state fair food seems more exotic several stories below ground. This high calorie, high fat food was perfect to get us to Rockefeller center through the sleet that now layered the sidewalks.

8 pm, Friday: Crab-cakes, braised lamp shank, and chocolate tort. This was just amazing Italian in the Sicilian style, and only a block from our place. This time the great Italian cuisine was served by very gracious and courteous Indian gentlemen, which is just another example of the food idiosyncrasies in NY. This meal was a great end to another amazing day. We seriously debated ordering into our hotel room to avoid the sleet, but it was completely worth it.


Am I one of "those" guys?

Last week I drove to Logan, Utah, to watch my college alma mater, the Utah State Aggies, take on it's conference rival, the Nevada Wolf Pack. Along with 10,000+ screaming and clapping fans, I anxiously held my breath as we won a very tight game. And it was there, with those 10,000 fans, screaming and clapping like I was still in college, that I had a horrifying thought: "Am I turning into one of those guys?"

You know the guy I'm talking about. He's over forty, balding, and pot-bellied, but still wears his college hoodie like a badge of pride, as if the athletic accomplishments of his favorite academic institution give his life meaning. He yells at refs, scowls at opposing fans, and spends most of the game on his feet, regardless of the little kids behind him who can't see.

The day after a game, his voice is hoarse from the yelling, his back aches because of the plastic chair that would be better suited for a toddler, and he's grouchy as hell because his team lost. He yearns for the days of coach so-and-so, and for that great player with so many wins who would have gone pro if he hadn't been busted for smoking weed.

Thankfully, I'm nowhere near this bad. But, it occurred to me, as a co-worker made fun of my Utah State t-shirt on game day, that men have a strange way of getting all tangled up into sports. I thought of this again when, with a tie score and only seconds to play, one of our players was fouled and went to shoot his free throws. At that moment, I was nearly as anxious as I would be on a first date or a job interview. I had to ask, why do I do this to myself? Why do I subject myself to such emotions when the outcome is completely outside of my control?

Sports fanaticism is one of the cruelest forms to masochism I can think of. It's like being in love with a girl who you know will break your heart at least once or twice a year. And it's not just a "I'm not really into you" kind of break up, but a grinding, decimating, sob-ridden break up that sucks your will to live. And yet, you come back, season after season, only to be body slammed into the mat again.

You may think that I'm being over dramatic, but every team looses. It's inevitable; it's the nature of sports. It's actually one of the great things that children can learn from sports-- how to lose gracefully. Of course, if you're one that is grief stricken and wrought with torment when "your team" loses, it's probably fair to say you missed out on that lesson.