I'm back from vacation for realz. Lots to talk about, let's start with "7 other things."
Folks, I'm back! Thanks so much to everyone who kept reading, contributing, sharing, and sending me nice emails to read while I was away on vacation. Let's dive into today's newsletter, right after a word from our sponsor.
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Queen Elizabeth II died yesterday at the age of 96. Her son, Charles, 73, became King Charles III—the oldest person ever to assume the British throne.
I will return to all of that in a moment.
First, it's great to be back! My family and I had a fantastic vacation, and I really did need it. At two weeks, I think it was quite possibly the longest actual vacation I've ever taken in my life—checking all the boxes:
packed up and went away somewhere,
the "somewhere" was not a relative's house,
had a great time with family and/or friends, and
really didn't do any work (well, almost none).
Asteriskally (heh-heh), I've gone on longer non-work trips before, like driving across the country 20 years ago when I moved to Los Angeles. And then driving back across the country the other way (faster, less interesting) when I returned from Los Angeles.
Also, more than once, I've been involuntarily out of work longer than a few weeks, but those weren't exactly real breaks.
So, this time I broke my relaxation personal best. Yay me.
It was a fantastic time. That said… man, it’s been tough to get back into gear.
Also, as I thought would happen, my subconscious worked hard on a lot of the challenges and opportunities in front of Understandably, and I wound up with a bit of an identity crisis that I think I'll be working through over the next few weeks.
Wait, "crisis?" That might be too harsh. More like, dilemma or debate. I don't know.
But let's just dive in. Where were we? Oh yes, Queen Elizabeth and King Charles. End of an era, and the beginning of one.
The only problem from my perspective is that for someone who writes about history now and again, I really don't have a lot to say about this. My condolences to those who are finding themselves affected; I've been surprised to realize how many friends and colleagues - in the U.K. and Canada but also even in the U.S.—said it's a very important milestone for them.
It leads to an Understandably-related question, however; one that's related to the identity crisis I mentioned a few short paragraphs ago.
In short: On a day like today, how much of this newsletter should I devote to major international stories that I nevertheless don't have much original to say about?
On the one hand, I can't imagine too many people reading this today will have reacted with shock to the first line. You must have already known about the queen's passing and the new king, right?
But on the other hand: "Daily." "News." ("letter.") Doesn't it just feel like I should be mentioning whatever is biggest in the world on whatever day?
I found similar questions intruding on my thoughts during my peaceful, record-breaking, vacation, especially when I looked in the comments section while the newsletter was in "low power mode," and saw discussions about whether people missed the "7 other things" section each day or not.
I do value that section, and it seems many of you do, too. Or at least parts of it.
Behind the scenes, however, let me tell you—sometimes the "7 other things" section takes much more time than the essay. And, at least the way that I've been doing it, it's the one section that can't really be written ahead of time.
One barely formed thought on how to keep it all going without overtaxing myself is to perhaps focus more on the unusual, off-the-wall things that I sometimes include in the 7 other things, as opposed to daily news. Because, I really do wonder how many people use Understandably as a primary daily news source.
See? Identity crisis.
Now, at some point I'll probably ask for people to chime in a bit on your thoughts here. Tom in Maine and I talked about it yesterday, in fact. I considered running polls to ask your opinions.
But: (a) I'm still barely unpacked, and my own ideas aren't really fully formed enough yet to do that, and (b) as much as I value reader opinions and ideas, I really can't run this like a democracy.
It has to be more like a ... oh, what's the phrase: right, oh yes: an enlightened despot!
(Yay, I found a way to bring it back around to Queen Elizabeth and King Charles and the institution of the monarchy!)
Anyway, I can't say that I'm an expert on vacations, but one thing I think I've learned is that if you come back from a relaxing trip, it's probably not the most effective idea to try to throw your whole being into sixth gear right away. Maybe it takes a little time to get back into things. At least it does for me, apparently.
So let me end on gratitude: Thanks to all of you, and especially to those who dug up links worth sharing in the comments section as we went along.
On the assumption that not everyone actually clicks through to read the comments, let me give a few of them a signal boost, by resharing some that I really liked below.
7 other things worth knowing today
A penny dropped from a skyscraper won't kill you, Napoleon wasn't short, Einstein didn't fail math and 49 other things worth knowing today. (Futurism; you might have to zoom in)
A South Dakota janitor developed a light and easy to use way of locking doors down during active shooter scenarios. Ingenious, but sad that this was a solution we needed. (CNBC)
The most expensive baseball card in history just sold for $12.6 million. (CNN)
Sixty-six million years ago, our distant ancestors lived through perhaps the most violent event in Earth's history. How did a band of small, insignificant mammals scuffling in the shadows survive the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs? (BBC; posted on Twitter by Elon Musk, him saying it will happen again, just a matter of time)
An Australian woman bought her sister a home with some of $10.5 million she was accidentally-sent by Crypto.com. Alas, the courts ordered her to sell the house and return the money. (Gizmodo)
Twitter starts rolling out an edit button, at least to Twitter Blue subscribers. (TechCrunch)
Moonwalking underwater. (Twitter)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: My lovely wife. See you in the comments!
Welcome back! And take your time to unwind from unwinding. I always find I wish I had at least one-day buffer between vacation and back-to-normal to recover and prepare.
First, welcome back Bill. I can see by your writing that your vacation lived up to your expectation and you seem rejuvenated.
Here is my input on the questions you pose....
1. I like the daily 7 other things. Include what you want or that you find the most interesting. Todays were just fine.
2. Should you write about "breaking national news" topics in your dialogue? Probably so. While I get the daily news elsewhere, I like to get your take on it and it spurs good impartial commentary in the reader comments. If you don't have much to say, then move on. Today was just fine.
By the way, I never understood why people from the US were so impacted by happenings of the Royal Family. I guess we're just enamored with Kings and Queens.