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Brian Fies

Not to become tiresome on the topic of Chast's "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant," but it's still fresh in my mind and Stuff is a big theme. She said something I hadn't heard before but sounded right: when cleaning out your parents' stuff, don't keep anything you don't think your own kids would want. I'm at an age when multi-generational stuff is becoming a burden--boxes in the garage of parents', grandparents', and even great-grandparents' stuff that I'll never open, don't really want, can't bring myself to get rid of, and won't mean anything to my kids. I think it's a crime when old folks jettison family treasures that their descendants would have loved, but I can see how it happens. That's the allure of moving into a tiny house or RV or boat: no more stuff.


You, Brian and George - absolutely right! I keep thinking I'm going to 'simplify' - but activity is 'stuff', too, and I've got entirely too much of that as well.


About presidential vacations: I am reading "One Summer: American 1927" by Bill Bryson, detailing the events of that amazing summer (Lindbergh's flight was one). I read your comments about the fuss over the president's supposed excessive vacation schedule, and later was looking through the photo section of the book. There was a photo of President Calvin Coolidge in full cowboy gear, with this caption: "Beginning in 1927, Calvin Coolidge fled his none-too-taxing job as president of the United States (four hours a day, tops) for a three-month extended vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Here he is with his wife in his full cowboy regalia, a getup he wore that summer on every possible occasion." Three months! Thought you'd be amused.

Mike Peterson

I didn't realize it went that late, but it makes sense. Washington used to close down in summer, and I just wrote a piece last year about a trip TR made in 1903 that went out to Yellowstone, down to the Grand Canyon and out to Yosemite, with speaking engagements along the way, promoting conservation. He was gone a similar amount of time, but, of course, was working.

His predecessor used to set up on the shores of Lake Champlain in a large hotel for the summer, and, again, he'd be working but at a lower level. People came to him for meetings, but nothing major was going on.

Air conditioning changed some of that but improved communications made "getting away" a pretty silly notion. And, for my part, if I have my laptop and my cell phone, I'm in my office no matter where I happen to be.

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