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Prologue

Host Ira Glass goes to the Federal Express hub at Memphis to watch 1.2 million pieces of overnight mail get sorted in one night and to talk to the adrenaline junkies in the FedEx Command Center.

Act One: Travels in Hyperreality

Host Ira Glass uses Italian author Umberto Eco's essay Travels in Hyperreality as a guidebook to American simulated worlds. Eco says that the urge to create these miniature simulated worlds is a very American impulse — a significant American aesthetic — and one that's not often discussed.

Act Two

Writer/singer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh reads a story about a family vacation arranged by her mother, who believed that vacations couldn't be merely for leisure—they had to be educational. Which is how the family ended up vacationing in...Ethiopia.

Act Three

Contributor David Sedaris tells a story about discovering the possibilities—and pitfalls—of travel by hitchhiking.

Act One

After he goes to Jerusalem and sleeps on what is supposedly the very spot where Jesus was crucified, Kevin Kelly has a revelation: that he should live the next six months as if he would die at the end of them. So he gives away nearly everything he owns, and tries to live each day as if his death is imminent — which turns out to be a great challenge.

Act Three

When filmmaker and performance artist Lawrence Steger found out he was HIV positive, he was just about to go out on across country road trip with a friend of his.