Scratch Pad: Vacation Void

After a week mostly off

Each Saturday morning, usually over coffee, I take a few minutes to gather together into one post most of the little comments I’ve made on social media the previous week. I sometimes edit for clarity, and I might flesh some out a bit. There’s a feedback cycle to this process. During the week, I find I am sometimes cautious about attributing a time frame to items because I know I’ll repurpose the material a few days hence.

In any case, I spent the week on Long Island on vacation with family (that’s a photo above of Long Island Sound from a short hike I took), and thus was offline a lot, thankfully. In fact, aside from recent photos also posted here, as well as a brief appreciation of the late composer Scott Johnson, I didn’t post anything on Mastodon (where I am at @[email protected]) at all, apparently — and I didn’t even register so until this morning. I take this as a good thing.

I do a pretty good job of being offline on weekends. The healthy part isn’t so much the not-posting part or even the not-reading part so much as the not-awaiting-reply part (which is complemented by the then-not-replying-in-turn part). Those are three different categories, and the third of them has the greatest impact on my attention. I’d like to be offline even more solidly than I already am, and I already cease social media activity not only on the weekend but also after dinner during the week. (I do occasionally post a weekend photo to Instagram, another habit I’m trying to curtail.) Fortunately I sleep soundly, so I don’t regularly find myself up in the middle of the night, but if I did, the last thing I’d do is look at my phone. I have a Kindle, and I’d just read a little, or more than a little, as I waited for sleep to reclaim me.

That’s what’s on my mind as I emerge from the semi-bubble of this all too rare vacation break. Here are some notes that did surface during the past week:

  • Wordplay: A “sound” as a “narrow channel of water” (rather than, you know, sound in the sense of the aural) apparently is from Old Norse “sund” (“a strait, swimming”), or the Middle English equivalent (
  • Semi-public space: I have no idea what encourages a small business owner to transform the tone of their retail locations by situating a large television playing highly polemical material at a loud volume during working hours. I imagine this has just been a frog-boiling situation that originated with ordinary radio news, and then news got televised, and then all the more overtly opinionated, and rather than turn off the news in public, people just went with their chosen flavor of reality. (Also, a bright TV spewing nonsense has a very different presence than an unseen radio doing the same.) Me, I couldn’t get out of that bagel shop fast enough.
  • Hit parade: Whenever I come back to New York, I wonder if I’ll hear local (overplayed) heroes Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, or Bon Jovi in a public place first — or if I’ll hear some of their counterparts from the San Francisco Bay Area (Metallica, Journey). I heard none of them, not even once.
  • Drum hallucinations: On the flight home I listened to the great new Necks album, Travel, for the 10th time, or something close to it. A certain expression I was making with my face would loosen the seal of my earbuds, allowing the harsh white noise of the cabin to momentarily seep in. At first I thought this was the band’s drummer, Tony Buck, doing some sort of intense rumble. It was uncanny.

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