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07 December 2008


1. I've been re-reading "Nobodies" in bits and pieces, so I can't find the exact page, but somewhere the author says something like: "Everyone makes the mistake of thinking the system is broken. The real problem is that the system is working exactly the way it was set up to work." I thought that was a horrific, perfectly distilled, completely-obvious-but-not-until-you-read-it truth.

In the Theriault, I always remember his co-worker explaining how the first thing you do on a job is set up a place to sit down, and then you use your seat as often as possible. Mainly because that just made me chuckle, and it also made perfect sense.

1. Y'know, it's funny, but what stuck out for me in "Nobodies" was how Bowe admits to what I would euphemistically call "entangling alliances" with the local ladies of Saipan. It was brave and honest and it really bothered me and made me sad too.

The part of HTTWYT that will always stick with me is that incredible cover photo!

2. I would have to say it would be interesting to meet Reg Theriault, and it might even be possible if he still lives in the Bay Area. Maybe I even walked right past him one day and didn't realize it. It's just fascinating that he would choose to do hard physical labor when he had the option to have a different life.

3. "Nobodies" depressed me so bad I feel like I can't ever buy anything again and I need to start growing my own food too.

My question is, when Bowe alludes to American orange juice being implicated in slave labor, where can we find out more about this? I felt like the book assumed the reader would have a certain familiarity with this trend of slavery, when it was shocking and new to me.

Jessica! Thanks for answering. I could not agree with you more about Bowe's allusions to his "silly affairs on Saipan" (p. 252). That bothered me so much the first time around that, when I first posted about this book on Nonfiction Readers Anonymous, I said it was almost enough to turn me off the whole book, and wondered if he had "paid" for his silly affairs. Bowe actually commented in (I wish I could get back to that page, but it's gone into the ether) and he was honest enough to say that no, he hadn't literally paid for the affairs, but it's impossible to separate anything on Saipan from the transactional (or something to that effect). I too had to give him points for saying it but it made me sad too, not only the discussion you could have about exploitation, but also about the overriding human need for companionship and sometimes, the desire to have it all costs. "Bothered" and "sad" were perfect words for what I felt too.

Did you used to live in the Bay area? I wonder where Reg is now and what he is doing.

I will try to start a list of books that have provided more Bowe-like insight for me. Did you check out his bibliography? One book from there that was particularly illuminating about the entire economy was Thomas Frank's One Market Under God; I see there's a book there too about "Human Traffic" (by Craig McGill).

God, slavery. Can you believe we're still talking about slavery? We've come so far and yet we haven't moved at all, it seems.

If you ask most men, and they're being honest, they'll tell you that *traditional* dating feels like paying for companionship. There really is a fine line sometimes.

I often wonder what else there is in life besides getting and spending, commuting, and housework. (Asking that question has led me down some extremely interesting roads!)

Technically I live in what's called the North Bay Area right now, and I spend time in San Francisco and Berkeley when I can. I've lived in the Bay Area proper off and on for a total of six years, including pre-kindergarten. I don't know what Reg is doing now, but I suspect he's... working.

Hey, in the spirit of things I also read "Punching In" by Alex Frankel. It was definitely less radical than HTTWYT, but it was a pretty interesting idea. And guess what? Tonight I'm finally picking up "Waiter Rant"!

About slavery, I think most people are wage slaves and don't even realize it. Who among us has the freedom to quit working and still be able to put food on the table? I don't owe my soul to the company store, I owe it to the US Department of Education.

Can't wait to see where we go with the discussion tomorrow!

Both writers, in different ways, discuss our relationship with food & work. Theriault wrote about the coffee beans that were destroyed because it was cheaper to break the canvas bags than to hire workers to pile the bags correctly. Although the people picking the beans don’t know that their beans have been thrown away, Theriault wonders how they would react knowing their hard work was wasted. Bowe discusses the relationship between WalMart and Vlasic pickles and the gallon container of pickles. Consumers realized that it was cheaper to buy the gallon of pickles and throw them out when they became moldy than to purchase an appropriately sized container. This sticks with me because my husband loves Costco, and we do benefit from cheap prices, but I’ve talked him out of buying fresh food from Costco because the two of us can’t eat it fast enough. It was cheaper to buy a bag of fourteen bananas (which my husband doesn’t eat), but I felt responsible for eating all of them before they went bad. I tried to eat two a day to make sure they weren’t wasted, but it just seemed silly. I have a huge problem with the way we relate to food – from food eating contests to creating plastic perfected fruit to our treatment of livestock. O.K. Off the soap box.

Re Bowe's affairs on Saipan: I’m glad Bowe discussed his relations with women on Saipon. In a book like Nobodies, it’s easy to think that only other people do those evil things. Yet here’s this liberal reporter investigating slavery and labor abuses, and he was lonely, scared, horny or any of a number of human emotions in an area where sex/female companionship was bountiful.

I think you're right about many of us being wage slaves, although that is of course different from the outright slavery Bowe investigated. Somedays, though, going to a job because you're deathly afraid of going without health insurance is not real satisfying.

Excellent point. I had actually forgotten the Vlasic pickle thing until you mentioned it, and the parallel with the wasted coffee is astute. I tend to think of consumers as just loving carts full of stuff--clothes, toys, unnecessary plastic things of all sorts, but I forgot how often food is bundled into that equation of more for less. It's a tricky little line between enjoying a bargain and falling prey to the very dangerous and constant expectation of "more for less." If you think about "more for less," actually, the more you have you realize how unsustainable that is.

Yes, I was glad Bowe was honest about Saipan too. Part of what I enjoyed about his book was his first-person take on these situations. I thought he did a really good job of matching the reporting with the personal--and you're right, it's very easy to think you're above it all, that you have nothing to do with slavery. Even after reading these books a couple of times, though, I'll admit--there's still orange juice concentrate in my freezer, and I've bought oranges since. We are all involved.

How can we not eat oranges or other citrus fruits? That's what drives me crazy. The whole section on Tropicana was absurd. The company owns everything, but they aren't involved with picking the fruit. Similar to Nike not making shoes. Even the judge in the slavery case knew what really is going on. And the ineptitude of the FBI agents. That's not how they act on t.v. (lol)

How do we live sustainably in an economy that requires us to buy things? When those stimulus checks were sent last year, some analysts were worried that people would put them in savings or pay off debt.

Hi, unfortunately I haven't finished the books yet, but I do have some comments.

The issue of food sources provides additional weight to Michael Pollan's idea that we should know our farmers and food providers. If you do this you should have a better ability to judge if your food is exploitative or not. This is tough for oranges unless you live in California or Florida, but grocers might be able to tell you about their fresh squeezed juice and if enough people ask about it they will provide more information about the food.

I skipped ahead to the conclusion and I wish he had taken a different approach. His solution to ending slavery is to end globalization. That is a rather tall task, how about a number of small things that individuals and communities can do, or an agenda they can promote with legislators?

Taken all together, yes, it does start to sound impossible, but for me (and I may be reading more into the Bowe than is there), I don't think he's getting down on the oranges per se, just the way the oranges are farmed. I keep coming back to thinking that we, as a nation, have to embrace a strategy of paying more for less. I know that goes against the grain, but I think that's what Bowe's getting at when he shares statistics like "it would cost each American household about fifty dollars a year to double the wages of poor Hispanic farmworkers." (p. 275.) Actually, paying a little bit more for things like oranges might make us think about them a little bit more, and buy fewer and actually get them eaten. (A sack of fourteen bananas, by the way? That's a lot to get through!) The oranges are not the problem, and the corporations picking the oranges aren't even really the root problem--corporations are simply entitites with one reason for being: to make money, after all--so until consumers start signalling to retailers that they don't want more, more, more, for cheaper, cheaper, cheaper, I think the consumers (myself included) are at least partially at fault.

Your last question of how to live sustainably in the economy we've set up is a good one. I don't know that we have any good answers for you yet.

Tripp, that's okay. Sometimes it's fun to read these things and then go back and finish/revisit the books. We'll leave this page up for a while, after all, so you can always come back.

I think your point about Bowe not offering much in the way of individual solutions was what made this book both a revelation and a depressing proposition. It did leave me rather with the feeling that we're all screwed and there's nothing we can do.

I don't know that we can get rid of globalization, and I don't know how serious Bowe was about that as a proposition. I do wonder if we could just change the way we approach globalization to make it better--after all, we've had it a long time. Even hundreds of years ago people were dragging goods a good way around the earth to sell them. They just couldn't do it as fast and in as centralized a way as we are now able to. I don't know that getting socks from across the ocean is THE problem--but I do know that expecting to pay very little for them when they get here is A problem. Maybe we need to start by addressing that.

I also think Bowe did a good job of highlighting some organizations that are doing grassroot things--like the Immokalee worker's organization in Florida--maybe we can start by volunteering or donating to orgs like that?

I'm not yet finished with Bowe's book yet, either. BUT WOW! Do I keep thinking about it! And then last night, I watched Blood Diamond (uh - same themes?! right?) and the news had a story about Walmart settling in a MN case where workers were off the clock and stocking shelves. SIGH.

I joined this menage deliberately as my way not to put my head in the sand and also to encourage more precise thinking and expressing. (I am quite intimidated TYPING my words - I would probably talk your ears off blabbing) I don't know how to say what I want to say here!

Especially for your 3 questions... EVERYTHING seems to be sticking with me. My notes on the Theriault book are not very complementary. It's just too easy to say 'mgmt is evil' but I do appreciate what he was attempting to share. I liked all the descriptions of the work on the docks.

I wouldn't mind meeting both of these gentlemen.

Yes, both books are quite depressing. I suggested to hub that we just make the front yard a big garden. I wish we could grow oranges in Massachusetts. Maybe I can trade some cranberries with a Floridian?

I just finished reading the part when Bowe talks with Felty (the Tulsa Indian case attorney for the Indians) and Felty's 'chat' with Ray Murzello. Paraphrasing: "he has no morals but seems like a nice guy."

So many shades of gray that it's a wonder we really know what colors black and white really are!

I'm so glad you're thinking about these books--that's always my benchmark for a good movie: am I thinking about it the next day?

(Oof--Blood Diamonds--I couldn't even get myself to watch that, but if you're looking for a fantastic book about diamond production that touches on war diamonds--do consider Matthew Hart's book "Diamond: Journey to the Heart of an Obsession." One of the first NF books I read and LOVED.)

I think you're probably right about the Theriault being a bit simpler; although similar in topic, I liked these books because they were so different in style. Bowe: looking out; Theriault: looking in. I did think Theriault's was a bit idealistic about physical work (I don't mind physical work, but can't and don't want to do it all day, or for a living), but I found his voice so enjoyable I didn't mind.

I'm so glad you quoted that Ray Murzello story! I totally forgot about it, but yes. Perfect sentiment, perfectly phrased by Bowe. Haven't we all met people like that? Perfectly good, upstanding citizens who make our skin crawl with their underlying immorality? (And, heavens to betsy, no, I'm not thinking of our current president, not at all.)


I did put my stimulus check into savings! And it's still there! I guess I just haven't come up with any ideas of what to spend it on.

I once ate 11 oranges in two hours because I didn't want to forfeit them at the state agricultural checkpoint. It was silly.

I make an effort to buy organic, locally grown produce - I have no idea whether these foods are any less likely to be grown by slave labor, but the farms do seem to be run by hippies. I also buy fair trade for those things that can't be gotten locally, like vanilla extract, but again we're counting on someone else to do the research. I think I'm like many people in that if we're pointed toward a "lesser of two evils" option, we'll shrug, pull out our wallets, and buy it, even if it costs more.

About "wage slavery," I think most lower income people feel like they can't afford to care about those who are worse off than they are. It also makes it hard for people to consider certain options like going back to the land and growing their own food. I would never in a million years compare my cushy office job unfavorably to, well, any job - but I do know that I don't have the option of walking out the door and starting my own farm. It's difficult to know what to do to change the system.

Following up on an earlier comment by CR, I agree that he we have to move away from the lowest price item and back to what is appropriate to buy. Many people already do this for health reasons, buying organic where they can, but it can also be done for social reasons. There is some market for Fair Trade coffee already which has both a green and a social component. If companies find they can make money by selling socially responsible food, they will do so. How to communicate that is tricky.

Your story about the 11 oranges did make me giggle. I once sneaked a baggie of trail mix (that had raisins in it) onto a plane to Canada, and Mr. CR, law-abiding citizen that he is, nearly had a heart attack because I wouldn't declare it as "produce" on our customs form. (I ate it later that day anyway.)

I try to buy local at farmers' markets but admit that 1. I don't do it enough, 2. I can do it because we have an okay income, no kids, and health insurance (and hence a bit more disposable income), and 3. because I have consciously made the decision to freelance for less money but more time, and have the time to do so. I am too painfully aware of all those families out there working two jobs to make ends meet, many of whom aren't spending irresponsibly, who don't have the time to care about this stuff. I can't blame them.

Your point about the "wage slavery" of lower income people is, therefore, an important one. And then you're right back to thinking: something is wrong with the system. But as Bowe pointed out, this is how the system was set up. My question is: how can we all rise up and Robin Hood this society? Here's something that no one in politics wants to say: higher taxes for the extremely wealthy. How do we make that happen?

Your point about companies having to learn they can make money for socially responsible food is also interesting. Two other great books I read this year, Catherine Friend's "The Compassionate Carnivore" and John Perkins's "the Secret History of the American Empire," both pointed out that consumers have to signal to companies (or farmers, in Friend's case) what they will and won't buy. But how to communicate that to people who are addicted to Wal-Mart (and sometimes with very good cause--they just don't have any cash to spare)? Tricky indeed.

I found it interesting that Theriault discussed that he and others like him work as hard as they do, especially in blue collar jobs, so that their kids can have a better life. Specifically getting their kids a college degree. I'm fascinated with this idea that class isn't the issue. It's education. If working class kids would only go to college they could cross the class line into the middle class. (One of my favorite documentaries: People Like Us: Social Class in America. It's a little dated, but I think the ideas are still true.)

At first it seemed that Theriault was defending his blue collar roots, and then I thought he seemed more proud of them than embarrassed by them. It made me laugh when he discussed how tough the longshoremen's union members are and how nobody better mess with them.

I think it was a senator from Ohio when discussing the Wall Street bailout versus the automakers' bailouts said that it was a difference between those who shower before work and those who shower after work.

I finished the Nobodies book! and I had to go check my closet to see where all my clothes were made. This was also triggered by the fact that today's mail included two different catalogs from my favorite store. Only one item of my clothing has a label Made In Northern Mariana Islands and only 5 items were made in No. Am (2 Mexico, 2 US, 1 Canada).

My point? I don't know. Just that I will be paying attention and maybe my purchasing decisions will consider WHO made the garment and not just how much off the sale price I can buy it for.

I read some of Nobodies back when you first mentioned it, but I did not finish or revisit the book for the menage, in part due to lack of time, in part because I've read *so* many books about the ravages of globalization, and in part because I got so irked at Bowe so early on. The early scene where he sees the protesters in the parking lot and thinks they're kind of quaint? Well, I've *been* one of those protesters in the parking lot. While it seems that he eventually comes to realize they have a point, his initial attitude just grated on me.

Comments on HTTWYT when I get back from lunch!

You raise something very interesting about HTTWYT. Throughout you got the sense that everyone (who showered after work) was just putting in the hours so their kids could go to college and take it easier. But sometimes I wonder. Just showering before work doesn't always mean it's easier--and it's certainly not easy right now to GET a job, particularly with a college degree. (I say particularly with because I think you've got a better shot right now at jobs that require certificates, ADs, or training--nurses, mechanics, plumbers, HVAC specialists, IT managers.) Not to mention the dawning realization that a lot of our white-collar jobs can be farmed out too, and there's certainly nothing easy or lucrative about service jobs, which is where most of the growth is now. I personally would like to see some numbers on how the kids of auto workers are faring, compared to their parents from the 1950s through the 80s.

I think Theriault is proud of his roots. To some extent, everyone should be proud of the work they do; it's an important part of work. What will it do to us when there's nothing left here BUT service jobs? (Having worked a lot of those, let me just say, it's hard to find dignity or a living wage there.) Theriault's book made me kind of nostalgic, really, for a country where workers of any type had an easier time making a living.

Care! I did that too (checking my clothes). Although I'll admit when I'm up a creek and just need something to wear (which happens whenever I have to go to family gatherings, weddings, or really, anywhere that isn't my house, where I just wear the same clothes day in, day out), I'm so desperate to find something that fits that I don't even glance at the label. Pathetic, I know. But there you have it. It's always easy to find a way to avoid thinking about the greater issues (particularly when your own mother tells you you've got to pay a LITTLE attention to your appearance).

So glad to have you here, and to have the dissenting voice. I can definitely see where Bowe's voice would turn you off; he doesn't hide it. I too have been that protester but I must admit, when I was protesting, all I could think was that I probably didn't share any other opinions with the other protesters and that what the hell were we accomplishing anyway? So Bowe's statement didn't bother me as much--but I'm pessimistic, I admit it, and I think Bowe is too. Maybe? I think that may be why I like him so much. (Although, as noted previously, I still am a bit sad about his relationships on Saipan--regardless of how lonely the women there are.) Can't wait to hear your thoughts on HTTWYT!

I don't think I've read a book where the author was such a part of the process - I really enjoyed how he would describe the Saipan manager who had to whack his forehead everytime he made a statement AAURGH! (or something like that - I had to turn the book back to the library.) Then again, I don't think I've read this kind of book, ever.

I want to mention a labor issue that I've experienced; at the corporate office of a restaurant company I worked for, we hired a new CEO and paid him seven figures - quite a jump up from what the prior person made. And he had the gall, to make a statement once about how the workers didn't deserve any increase in the minimum wage. It really bugged me. AND, that we paid his dry cleaning bills. WTF!?

Many of my thoughts I had on Bowe’s book have already been discussed. Here are the main points that stuck with me: How extensive the problem of slavery really is and the big names of the companies involved (Tropicana for one). I was also surprised by how little is needed to affect change. It would cost only about $50 a year more per American household for these workers to at least earn minimum wage. The same was true for apparel companies, at one point; just about every apparel company I’m familiar with had a garment factory in Saipan. Bowe writes that the money saved by paying garment worker’s virtually nothing does not go to the garment manufactories or the retail stores; it is passed on to the consumer. As a consumer I would gladly boycott any company connected with slavery, but find it hard to decipher which companies do not have connections.

On Theriault’s book, I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters, where he eloquently describes his humble beginnings. I can’t stop thinking about how hard manual laborer’s, longshoreman in particular, work actually is. I love how they find ways to quit early and take extra breaks while still getting their work done. There are days at my work when I become so tired and stressed I cannot work a minute longer. Plus, once I reach this point I know any work I do will be wrong and will need to be redone the next day. To push a worker performing manual labor past his breaking point, is an accident waiting to happen. I have always thought it would be great if workers could just leave when they had finished their work or were too tired to continue, rather than sitting around trying to look busy until quitting time. I am a salary employee so technically I could leave, but management does not allow it. By leaving early, I would not be setting a good example for our hourly employees. They are very much interested in a full day of work for a full day of pay. You would not believe the number of hours I have spent sitting in meetings discussing the two minutes of unbillable time it takes an employee to walk from the time clock to their work station.

Another chapter that resonated with me was the one on truck drivers. It only makes sense companies are pushing drivers into buying their own rigs, they’ve already determined there’s no money in it. The worker thinks he’s going to make out great with his own business, and ends up with an expensive truck and no benefits.

On a side note, I’ve added “The Wal-Mart Effect and “Diamond: Journey to the Heart of an Obsession to my reading list.

I admit, I liked the personal touch of Bowe's book as well. I also liked his forthright style.
Oh, your work story is priceless. I think there's a lot of head honchos (still) making a ton of money, while the great masses make less and less. I had to laugh this week when I heard that the Ford head guy offered to work for the next year for $1. For one thing, I'm sure he won't even earn that one dollar (the American car companies haven't been innovating much, after all), and for another, until he turns in all his stock options and family money, I remain unimpressed.

Savvy Working Gal!
You are absolutely right: it's amazing how much things are connected, and how hard it is to track down who owns what and who makes what; also, physical labor, wow, tough stuff. I did a bit of physical work in my time (growing produce, hauling produce around, selling produce) and that was ENOUGH for me. How people do it year in, year out, I don't know, but they deserve whatever breaks they can get.

Your "full day for full pay story" was also priceless. I remember a friend of mine bitching to me because he was fired for taking a smoke break from his bank job. "But," he told me, "I get more work done than all my co-workers standing around chatting with each other all day long." I had to nicely explain to him that presence always trumps absence in our work world; the bosses don't really care what you get done, they just want to see you standing there. Perverse. (On the other hand, I don't think I would have wanted to be my friend's boss, I'll admit. He was probably taking a few more smoke breaks than he admitted to me.) Thanks for joining the discussion!

I think I'll weigh in again. (I've been afk for 4 of the 7 days of this discussion!)

I was raised blue-collar - my dad still keeps a brush in the shower for getting the grease out from under his nails - and I'm only the third person in two generations of my family - both sides - to go to college. (Nobody before that, as far as I know). I've picked strawberries, cleaned houses, been a nanny, and worked two minimum-wage retail jobs. I find that the higher I am promoted, the more money I make, the less work I do and the less I'm on my feet. It never ceases to amaze me. I've joked that the possession of skills is in inverse relationship to one's chances of entering management.

I read "Deer Hunting With Jesus" last night. I think the only way we'll win the class war is if the lower class realizes there is such a thing, but for some strange reason they've bought into the idea that the wealthy are entitled to everything they have and more. Given declines in education, among other things, I honestly don't see it happening.

I read all of "how to tell when you're tired" and about 1/2 of nobodies. Sorry I haven't joined the menage discussion sooner, the damn holidays are taking up all my time. Thoughts on "HTTWYT": it seemed alot like a rant, stream of consciousness type look at working. I liked it because it was an "everymans" story. There are lots of intelligent people doing hard, grunt work and unbelievably sometimes enjoy it. Nobodies made me feel sad. I hate that our economic system is based on the backs on poor immigrant workers. I feel good that I don't drink OJ, except in the occassional screwdriver. It made me want to buy local and spread the word. I would have never picked this books up without your suggestion CR, thanks.

For "after lunch," please read "after the weekend." Gah.

Anyway, as for Theriault’s book, I liked it, although I worry that I liked it in an upper middle class oh it's so great to hear about work from one of the people, who, conveniently, is also very well read kind of a way. I did, however, appreciate his few mentions of some of the work that women do, and his acknowledgment that being a salesperson and having to be polite and on your feet all day can be just as tiring as working in a factory. I was in a writing group for awhile when I was temping, and one of the other women, who also temped a lot, and I had an argument with the guy who worked construction and insisted that his work was harder than ours. Physically harder I wouldn't argue with, but, as we always pointed out, he didn't have to worry about what to wear, about being cheerful and helpful regardless of how people are treating you, about adapting to the office norms of a new place, etc., etc.

His book also reminded me of a review of Clerks by Roger Ebert that I read years ago, in which Ebert said it was an unusual movie because it was actually about people's jobs and what they did at them all day long. Though I'm not sure entirely how typical their workday is.

Anyway, good menage! Someday I'll get to one of these things on time!

Weigh in all you want! That is the purpose of this discussion.
I grew up on a farm, so I certainly am familiar with the nail brush in the shower and on the sink. For the most part, you are right about moving higher up the ladder, working less hard, and getting more money. But in a way, my job as an academic librarian was the hardest one I ever had--too much sitting around, too many meetings. So then I missed the physical work of the farm. But by the same token, I don't think I could do heavy physical work (and I certainly couldn't the last few months) anymore. What I'm really looking for is a mix--some sit-down work, some walk-around work--but that's very hard to find.

Wow, "Deer Hunting with Jesus." Another fantastic, if sad, book. Drove home the point that Republicans have really scared the lower class into thinking the government is the source of all their problems. Ye gods.

Yes, I liked HTTWYT too. He seems like such an interesting mix of a deep thinker and a hard worker.
I agree with you about buying local. I will have to make a more concerted effort to do that in the new year, particularly where my food is concerned.

Oh, after lunch, after the weekend, no worries. That's the glory of this kind of discussion. You make a very interesting point about the readability of Theriault--I always wonder how he got along with his fellow longshoremen. Were more of them readers, I wonder? I'm not really bowing to stereotypes of, well, people with physical jobs never read, I'm honestly just wondering (I've worked with a lot of educated white-collar workers who don't read, so I try not to link work with amount of reading). Another interesting take on physical labor is "Rivethead," I forget the author of that one but it was much less contemplative than Theriault's, more nitty gritty.

I knew I loved "Clerks" for a reason. Have you ever seen Clockwatchers? Another great movie about the work people do.

Oh yeah, Clockwatchers is great! I saw it the fall after I graduated from college and wrote to a bunch of people saying it could have been titled "How I Spent My Summer 'Vacation.'" (I also once started writing about it meaning to get back to it but apparently never did: http://newrambler.net/ramblings/back/13. Perhaps now that a decade has gone by I should revisit it.)

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