I walked to work today and passed a group of construction workers. This sounds like the beginning of a joke, but none of them were looking at me.

Instead, they froze as the oldest of them yelled “What? What?? What??” repeatedly. With one syllable, this man insinuated that the target of his condescension was inept, a cretinic clod whose only role in life was defiling his work boots. Through his skin-flushed irritation, the older man finally spat out a full sentence: “Why are you pointing at my truck?”

I had to turn to see who was pointing. The only brown guy on this North Idaho crew, an affable smile plastered on his face. …

You can make it around the entire earth on a grand, but spoiler alert: you have to do some weird stuff.

I’ve always traveled on a shoestring, and a few years ago, I tried to see if I could circumnavigate the globe on $1,000. Including airfare. It seemed like an impossible challenge, so naturally, I wanted to give it a shot.

It started when a friend of mine alerted me that he’d found this weird thing where if you flew on these certain dates from New York City to Milan, and then from Lisbon to Thailand by way of Paris, the ticket was only $325. A jigsaw puzzle of a route. And I figured out that I could launch myself from Vancouver, Canada, where I would be for work anyway. I’d just need to use some airmiles to get from a connection in Seattle to NYC, and then a different set of airmiles to get home to Spokane, Washington, from Bangkok. …

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There was a familiar joke growing up about why the Devil got all the good music. The joke had no punch line. The joke lay in the asking.

As I got older, more pretentious, I’d sit around drinking red wine trying to find the punch line with my friends, self-touted intellectuals of the right-wing Christian persuasion. Education, they said, it’s because Christian kids aren’t educated in the arts. Or else: they’re copying Metallica and adding Jesus lyrics; of course it’s going to suck.

Sometimes: it’s because everyone’s standards are wrong. Really good music glorifies God, and man is in rebellion against God, so man refuses to acknowledge that God’s music is actually better than the Devil’s.

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