Post Secret

  • Frank!

On Wednesday, March 14, I had the privilege of attending a Post Secret (PS)   Event hosted by Frank Warren at Radford University. PS has been a part of  my weekly routine since high school – that makes it one of the longest term activities of my life. That seems dramatic, but really, what do you still do every week that you did in high school? After clicking the link that a  friend posted to the PS website in her AIM away message, I’ve been hooked ever since.

What is PS?

It is a blog where Frank Warren posts anonymous secrets that people send him each week. They generally involve artwork and a message. Out of the ones he receives, he posts 15 on the website on Sundays.

Yes, you read that correctly, people tell this man their deepest, darkest, most personal secrets. How did he earn your trust? I don’t know, but I trust him. I haven’t ever sent in a secret, but not for lack of trust or having them – I’m just waiting for the perfect one? I’m not really sure, but regardless, people trust this man, he knows so many secrets that no one else does. This is what is interesting about anonymity (which is incidently what makes blogging anonymously so interesting too). You can actually let go of your inhibitions and tell the truth without fear of judgement or harassment, but all the while knowing that there is someone else out there that shares your secret too. No one is alone.


It reads: If postsecret has taught me anything, it is that heartache (of any kind) is not personal. It is human.



That is why I actually saved this person’s secret to my computer. There is some boundary between us all being unique and individual and us being all connected by these secrets. Frank Warren has somehow allowed us to stand on that boundary in a way that I don’t think we’ve been able to before.

During his presentation, Frank told us personal stories about his life, showed us post cards that couldn’t be published in the books (because they were afraid walmart wouldn’t sell them – walmart has never sold them anyway), and invited us to share our secrets with him.  Additionally, he explained how sad he was that the PS phone app didn’t work out due to misuse. Since it was still completely anonymous, people could continually upload inappropriate photos without any repercussions. You could report the inappropriate cards, and they would be removed, but there was no way to stop repeat offenders. Anonymity isn’t always a good thing. He also included this audio portion where we could load a song onto a smart phone from the website. It kind of sounded like what you want fireflies on a warm (mosquito-less) summer night to sound like. That may not make sense, but the song was essentially chimes that created a really interesting effect as you sat there. There was something sort of magical about it, and it was a great way to end the night.

I did get to have a post card signed from him which I will have to put in one of his books that I own or a scrapbook.

This is a brief glimpse into what PS has shown me and taught me through the years. I hope that everyone can visit the website and start their own journey of following a blog that has made so many people feel less alone.


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east coast tour

The east coast is home, and I like it. I’ve been traveling a lot the past 3 weeks, and I like that too. My travel started when I went to Chicago recently, then to Urbana-Champagne for a conference at the University of Illinois. It was weird though, it felt homey in an unnerving but good sort of way. I’d always considered myself to be an east coaster, but maybe not? Who says I can’t go wherever? I worked this summer in Austria which was really amazing. I could see myself living there too, but somehow, that seems less radical than moving off the coast. The rest of my traveling has been up and down the east coast because I have a lot of friends here to visit. Anyway, I’m enjoying the break, but will be looking forward to being able to sit down at home.

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oh, hi

Well, it’s sadly been a while since I posted. I’ve been at conferences back to back and have been going crazy trying to stay on top of research. Also, internet access has been sort of shoddy and one time I came to blog, the site wasn’t working. No more excuses now. I’m blogging this post, now. Alright…rambling aside.

For class we’ve been asked to comment on the Honors Residential College blogs. I have been reading through a decent number of them, and I must say, a 18-19 year olds brain is quite different from mine. It is brilliant to see some of them taking such initiative with what they want to do with their lives, and more brilliant that they are realizing that decisions made in college matter and don’t matter at the same time. While it’s important to get good grades and try to take classes which you think will direct you in the right direction – your major doesn’t have to determine the rest of your life. It’s a little different if you are an engineer since I could no sooner do the job of a chemical engineer than he/she could do mine as an electrical engineer. However, when I think about this example, there is a whole area of electrical engineering which is much more chemistry oriented. It is called solid state design and revolves around transistors and the like if you are interested. So, even with engineering, there is some fluidity.

There are a few things that I wish I’d known when I was in my first few years of college. I’ll list a few of them here in hopes that one of them may stumble upon this.

1. Linear algebra is really important, you may think you finished important math with diff eq, but you’re wrong. Memorize those theorems and understand that stuff. It will help you later on (more so if you’re in grad school).

2. Do your homework mostly alone and then go meet up with people in a group.  Unless you are the brilliant superstar of the group, don’t be fooled by thinking you know what’s going on when really someone else figured it out. It will help a lot on tests.

3. Volunteer and don’t stop. I did Adopt a Grandparent in my undergraduate career. It was one of the most rewarding parts of college –  old people are really amazing. I’m not fond of children in some part because I don’t learn from them in the same way that I can learn from older people.* They have such good stories…so just ask them about them! I’m sure they’d love to talk to you.

4. Find people who make you happy and make sure you make them part of your top priority – I’m talking about the people who make you feel warm and fuzzy inside (and try to make them feel the same way back). These people will make your college experience. I feel like the people I know who really, really loved college have a group of friends they feel very close to…it’s a pretty common theme. So again, make them a priority.

5. Try to spend as little time wasting time as possible. This is hard, I know it. But seriously, try not to just lay in bed all day or be on reddit/facebook constantly. There are so many experiences to be had. Go out and have them!! A friend of mine just said something recently that was along the lines: Drink a red bull, can’t fall asleep on life.

6. Save money on small things and treat yourself to something special…vacations, nice dinners, whatever. You won’t really miss that chipotle, but you will miss being able to go on spring break.

*I know you learn from a child’s fresh perspective on life and that is good, but it’s not wisdom.

**These are not in any order…just came to mind. I think number 1 is due to a more recent research issue (but it has come up tons of times in the last 3 years).

Good luck kids, you’ll be a different person after you’re done with THE BEST FOUR YEARS OF YOUR LIFE!!

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Valentine’s day…

I decided to post this on Valentine’s day because I figured it was an easy day to bring attention to relationships. In this case, I mostly wanted to address issues related to the “ordinary” initial advances. I found this article on a few days ago. It starts with a woman being asked whether she has ever had any unwanted sexual contact. As I read the article, I began to feel, well, violated. The experiences described were uncomfortably familiar. If not for me personally, they were similar to stories heard from friends.

To make matters worse, a few days later I found this post (also on reddit) that literally made me nauseous. What these girls are saying is unfathomable to me. My gut reaction is to punch them in the face/sterilize them for their idiocy. But then, the more tolerant, liberal side of me leads me to the conclusion that these girls have maybe just never been taught that they are worth something – that they have intrinsic value because they are women, and moreover because they human beings.

But whose job is it to inform these women of their value? I’d say parents, but how easy is it for parents to talk to their kids about this sort of thing? In many ways, America’s puritanical views/religious system/support for politicians like Rick Santorum has taught children and parents that talking about the sexual part of a romantic relationship is taboo. I’m not trying to say that it is religion or democracy’s fault, but that in cultures where your (male/female) body is not considered inappropriate, parents may be able to impose values on their daughters that reaffirm the power, strength, and significance of being a woman…and that this would lead to more women being likely to stick up for themselves.

While working in Europe this summer, a friend of mine said that he thought American TV was funny because “God forbid you see a nipple, but you can curse and watch people get blown up all day long.” His opinion is valid though. I’m not trying to say that nudity should be everywhere, but we are all human. All women and all men have the same parts as all other women and men.* So, what’s so scary about that? All of this pent up anxiety over parts that we are supposed to cover because they are inappropriate? But everyone else has them too? I don’t really get it. Again, I’m not advocating that people run around naked, but I do think that a comfort level with one’s own body is important. Because, maybe then, instead of being afraid, you can respect it. And then, you can teach others to respect you, both physically and emotionally.

I’m not quite sure where, but at some point, these girls posting about Chris Brown were failed. They have allowed what I’ve heard termed as “rape culture” infiltrate their lives. I hope that the amount of attention being paid to these comments may help people become more aware of this, but it’s still a huge problem.

So, on the “most romantic” holiday of the year, on the day when so many people wish that they had more romantic attention, I think that more attention should be drawn to ensuring that affection is given in an appropriate manner. That this attraction is not shown by making women feel helpless or that their bodies are not their own.  Both sexes need to stop perpetuating this culture in which women are objectified and controlled by the larger male in their lives.

Finally, I’ll note that I wasn’t sure if this post was appropriate or inappropriate. However, as I’ve been typing, I’ve realized that though the content isn’t quite related to classwork, I’m really finding blogging to be an outlet in a way that I didn’t expect.

*Sorry, I’m leaving out transgenders/hermaphrodites in this.

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Carl Sagan had a short set of videos made from quotes and lectures of his called The Sagan Series. Similarly, there is now a slightly shorter version for Richard Feynman in what is called The Feynman Series. This is the first video in which he describes Beauty. Part of my interest in this series comes from the fact that Feynman indirectly inspired me to be an engineer. By indirectly, I mean that my high school math teacher, who very directly encouraged me to be an engineer, considered Feynman to be his intellectual hero. His liking for him and how he would explain his work was, well, inspiring…because here I am now getting a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

Feynman Series – Part 1

Enjoy 🙂

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please allow me to introduce myself…

After reading a friends blog post in which he very formally introduced himself and his life, I realized  in blogging, your identity and who you are are somehow different. But how is this possible? They would seem to be the same thing, but on the internet everything changes. What I post here is a reflection of my thoughts and feelings, things I like and things I don’t, i.e. it is personal. However, in this instance it doesn’t really have anything to do with my identity, who I am as a physical being and what it says on my resume. It could be about that, but it’s not Facebook/Linkdn, and I will never put a picture of myself up here.  My identity has more to it than what I look like and what is on my resume, but it’s not a part of what’s on my blog. What is there is more of a collection of things (things is so vague that is actually exactly what I mean here) that get my attention. Anyway,  this is obviously a newly developed thought, but I figured the most appropriate place for me to write about it is my blog…

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First Post

So this is my new blog? And by new, I mean the only one I’ve ever had. Since I almost never read instructions, I’m posting now just to see how all of this works and what it looks like.

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Hello world!

Welcome to Blogs@VT Sites. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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