They Say Travel Broadens The Mind

Counterpoint: they say a lot of things

Had my horizons expanded in the Nashville airport, on the way home from last week’s vacation. I spotted all sorts of things I’ve never seen in Cambridge, such as:

— A man in a Black Rifle Coffee Company1 shirt demonstrating complete disregard for the mask requirement

— Another Champion of Freedom sporting, an unironic “DeSantis 2024” shirt (“Make America Florida”)2

— “Gun Skills” magazine

I have no photographic evidence of these phenomena because the seven-year-old used my phone to play Pokemon Go for most of the two-hour layover, forcing me to wander the airport with only my Apple Watch for company.

But I did have my camera back at the condo in South Carolina, which allowed me to capture this bit of — what? Redneck Kitsch? — whatever it is, you’ll probably be drinking out of it at a hipster bar in Bushwick soon enough.

Our beach vacation was lovely3 — if you don’t count the sand and the saltwater. We saw an alligator and lots of deer on Kiawah Island, and mostly ignored the specter of the Delta variant.

We are home and tested and in the clear — for now.

I want to call attention to the fancy artwork at the top of this email, which is — for now — the new logo for A Saturday Letter4. Many thanks to the talented Nicole Dillman for this awesome bit of fan art.

Nicole is married to my oldest college friend — we were freshmen roommates — Jack, who would’ve been proud of our Thursday adventure at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C.:

Jack spent several summers as a rafting guide in Maine. It’s often been my suspicion that he went to law school mostly so he could keep his summers free for the Penobscot. But then what do I know? After all, he’s now a successful … brewery owner.

As for the Stockmans, we completed three laps on the family course at this US Olympic training facility, and none of us became “swimmers” by falling out of the boat — much to Ike’s disappointment.

But we did learn an interesting lesson about military history. Not too long after our rafting excursion, the 11-year-old began to complain of aching feet. Pretty soon she found it hard to walk.

Her feet were wrinkled and swollen (“like big potatoes,” she said). I’d had the same thing happen to me at 4-H Camp 30 or so years ago. Having walked around all day in soggy shoes after a rainstorm, I could barely put my feet on the wooden slats to get to my top bunk.

I knew she was hurting, but I didn’t know we were both suffering from a World War I ailment known as “trench foot.” Apparently, soldiers got it from never taking off their boots and socks. You can get gangrene! It can kill you!

Fortunately, our daughter is fine — except for the hoard of new nicknames her little brother has acquired.

Newsletter News

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has a newsletter. Copycat.

If you want more newsletters, and that’s not your thing, you can sign up for The Sample, which sends you the latest issue of a random newsletter out of its database everyday. You rate it, and the rating, they claim, feeds the algorithm5 and eventually you get more newsletters that you like.

Either that, or just keep reading this one! More next week, after we’ve recovered from vacation.

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If you don’t want to read the linked Times Magazine piece, the short version: it’s the conservative answer to bleeding-heart Starbucks.


Edna St. Vincent Millay: “O Florida. O, cold Florida. Could any state be horrida?”


No, I’m not being forced to say this against my will. I genuinely enjoyed spending time with my family in a condo and I’m not blinking twice to communicate that I needed to be rescued.


Should I change the name? Is it too boring?

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That’s computer talk for “guessin’ machine.”