What I Did On My Vacation

Well, here it is 2013, the first year in a quarter of a century with four different digits in it. I will now not have to mention this again until 2020 (Whereupon we start more than a decade of years with repeated digits; this quarter century mark will hold until 2199, however.)

I went off to the wild west (Iowa) for two weeks to see 2012 out and 2013 in. As always, I spent my free time in quiet contemplation. (That voice you heard screaming “Where’s the tape? How can I wrap presents without tape?” was from one of those new made-for-TV versions of A Christmas Carol. Just had the volume turned up a bit.) I affirmed my belief in several Christmas and/or eternal truths.

1.There’s nothing wrong with tradition.

Iowa is one of those places, unlike Chicago, which will still serve an order of snow with winter holidays. They had a foot of it just in time for me to remember what it looks like. (Say what you will, snow is a wonderful thing to have during a two-week period when you do not have to go out to the parking lot and help unload National Geographics out of an SUV.)

2. Christmas presents should be suited to the recipient.

We took flowers to my mother’s gravesite. It wasn’t what I’d have taken, left to my own first impulses. But it was too windy, and gets dark too early, to take her a book, and people would just have made jokes if we’d taken fruicake. The flowers made much more sense.

3. If it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen.

I know a number of people who were stocking up on batteries and canned food for December 21, the predicted end of the world. I do not understand this. Surely “end of the world” means “end of the world for everyone”, not “end of the world for everybody except the ones with a goodly supply of Beef-a-Roni”.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I tried—I really tried—to find a good time and place to use the line “It may be the end of YOUR world, but not Mayan.” Never did. If it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen.

4. There are advantages to old-fashioned non-electronic methods.

I do not refer to Kindle, nor to Books on CD. Since the bus line I took west shows an inflight movie, I would have been very happy to use something that had earphones, to shut out the sound. With any luck, people with cameras in their phones were busy watching the movie, and did not take a picture of me squinched back in my seat, fingers in my ears.

No, the good old-fashioned non-electronic stuff came earlier. The bus folks now offer computer kiosks where you can buy your ticket without a lot of human interference. This cuts down on having to spell your destination five times. For some reason, no one was using these this time around, preferring to wait in line for the humans behind the counter. One brave man bypassed us all, used the kiosk, and went on his merry way, so I have no excuse for standing there with the herd of sheep, waiting my turn. When I did reach the human, she sold me my ticket for about $8 less than I had expected to pay. I marked this down to the obsolescence of online data, and boarded the bus.

Not until the bus was underway did I realize she had charged me so little because she had eyes, which kiosks do not. Without even asking, she took one look at me and gave me the senior citizen fare.

Kindle won’t do these things for you. Happy New Year.

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