The unvacated day

Today is the first day of my vacation. I have gone nowhere.

Everything is going according to plan.

Once upon a time, I used to think that I had to “make the most of my vacation”. This meant that the first day of vacation was a travel day — assuming that I didn’t hit the road the moment I left the office.

The end of the vacation was the same: get home, be in the office the next day. Or even the same day.

Anything else, the reasoning went, was a waste. If I had ten days, and was going to Austria for my vacation, then spending any less than ten days in Austria was a waste of my vacation time. Right?


The usual result of this old principle was a stress-filled vacation. It featured frantic last minute packing, causing both the stress of last minute packing and the stress of trying to find the inevitable forgotten item in the middle of the night in a strange location. It featured races to catch a flight after work, or early morning trips to the airport. Rushed connections.

It meant being wound up and unprepared to enjoy myself on arrival at my destination.

And when I returned?

Without time to unpack, I’d head right into the office completely jet lagged and exhausted from travel. I would show up in wrinkled clothes, as there was no time to iron clothes before or after my trip. There would be no time to buy groceries. I would come home in the evening after the first day back in the office, only to find my luggage waiting to be unpacked and strange smells coming from the garbage or fridge, because they got missed when I left in a rush.

Strangely enough, trying to make the most of your vacation time seems to be the easiest way not to do so.

Today, I do things differently. I’m on the first day of my vacation, but am still at home. I’ll pack at a leisurely pace, and make sure that when I return from my vacation I don’t come immediately into an environment where there are chores to be done. There will be no dirty dishes or rotting garbage on my return.

Tomorrow is the second day of my vacation, and I’ll be traveling.

That’s all. Just a day to get to my destination. No need to wake up early or arrive late. No anxious checking of the watch as I head through security at the airport. I have all the time in the world.

When I reach my destination, then, I’ll be two stress free days removed from my hectic day-to-day life, and ready to relax. I won’t be stressed out and burnt out from trying to reach my destination.

I’ll already be enjoying my holiday. (I’m already enjoying it now.)

The return trip is similar. A travel day. A day off before returning to work.

My bags will be unpacked, laundry will be done, groceries bought. There will be no fallout from my vacation lurking for me at the end of my workday.

And did I mention that my first day back at work is a Friday? And that it’s actually a work-from-home day? That’s another trick.

People who know you have been on vacation and don’t see you in the office on a Friday think that you’re still on vacation. They don’t interrupt you. They don’t expect you to deliver anything.

This gives me a chance to get caught up. By the end of the day on Friday, I have read my email and talked to anybody I need to talk to in order to understand what has happened while I’m away.

And then I log off, and enjoy another two days off thanks to the weekend.

I’m still relaxed from my holiday — the first day back after an easy return schedule will not have raised stress to pre-vacation levels. And when I get back on Monday and people realise I’ve returned, I will know what’s going on; I won’t have missed a beat.

So I’m purposely “wasting” a number of vacation days. I’m at home today. I’m home for a full day before going back to work — and “wasting” an extra weekend I could have spent away by not spending that one extra day on Friday.

But it’s the best use of them – vacations with wasted days are much more effective. They provide a true break from day-to-day life stresses, and let you return to your life afterwards with less stress.

That’s why every vacation should include an unvacated day or two.

The morning coffee would like to fly and read. And fly.

While I absolutely love and adore my Kindle, there is an associated moment of dread.

OK, it’s a moment of annoyance.

It’s that moment when, prior to takeoff, a flight attendant taps me on the shoulder and asks me to turn the thing off. Not just the wireless, but the whole damn device, as though it’s going to bring down the airplane if left on. The claim always seems ridiculous — the amount of power being used by a Kindle is miniscule; there’s no way it creates enough interference to cause any problems on the airplane.

Or so I believe. Lacking any of that stuff that we call proof, all I can do is meekly turn the thing off and stare sadly out the window.

Until now. Tests have been carried out, and there is no way my Kindle could cause the airplane to malfunction. In fact, it is even less dangerous than devices that are allowed. (Those devices are allowed because they are not dangerous at all).

So, next time I am asked to turn off my Kindle, prior to meekly turning it off, I will ask why. And jot down the answer, and plot the letter I will later write while staring sadly out the window.

Never cross a flight attendant on an airplane. That’s just bad news.

Photo of Corsair fighter firing on Okinawa, from Wikipedia. By U.S. Marine Corps, 1945.
Webcomic is Scenes From a Multiverse, by Jonathan Rosenberg.

The morning coffee, kettles and shame

In what most be the least surprising legal ruling of all time, a British court found that people cannot be detained without access to food, water, shelter, or toilets without cause.

The practice, known as Kettling is an increasingly common tactic used by police at protests. That the tactic is illegal in a country where citizens have the right to protest and the right to due process under the law seems obvious.

The police are appealing; they should drop their appeal. They should be protecting the people, rather than fighting for permission to abuse us.

Photo is of the I Fly Like Paper installation by Dawn Ng.
Webcomic is Mr. Lovenstein by J. L. Westover.

The weekend coffee

GPS units with errors and directions obtained from Google maps have been blamed for many things — trucks going down roads that are too narrow, people driving into lakes, and pedestrians being hit by cars due to walking along routes lacking sidewalks, to mention three.

This time, Google Maps nearly started a war.

Always wanted to have sex with Obama? Now you can! In a manner of speaking.

Introducing the Obama sex doll.

We hear quite a bit these days, about how the Internet is destroying traditional publishing industries — most particularly newspapers and magazines.

So it is always funny to see examples of just how little traditional publishers understand the Internet and copyright law — here’s a recent example — two little pieces from a letter sent from an editor (who had plagiarized a blogger’s material in their print magazine) to the blogger (who wrote asking for credit and compensation):

I do know about copyright laws … the web is considered “public domain”

I’ve never been a fan of the phrase “fight fire with fire”. It simply seems like bad advice.

Fight monkeys with monkeys, on the other hand? That’s a phrase I can get behind.

Everything is better with butter …

even your brain?

There’s an owl crisis in India. Which is to say, that owls are in danger of becoming an endangered species.


India blames a children’s book. Rather than, you know, the idiot parents who think that giving their (presumably non-wizard) children owls as pets is a good idea.

Let us revisit the Tea Party.

Or, perhaps, the T Party.

The way it was meant to be.

While on the subject of the Tea Party, the Big Bad Blog would like to note that Tea Party supporters often hold signs that say things such as “God Hates Fags”.

It has been pointed out that God Hates Figs.

We assume that the Tea Party’s previous signs have actually just contained a typo, and are looking forward to seeing a correction.