The Weekender, November 27, 2020


This is my vacation week — re-runs on Monday through Wednesday, nothing but turkey-eating yesterday, and this today. As a result, I don’t have a lot to share in this space, as you can imagine. But I’d like to give a glimpse into how I’m trying to manage taking a break from a project like this.

For (basically) solo projects like Now I Know, it’s hard to do that. If I take a day off, the whole thing hits a pause. On the other hand, not taking days off is just not sustainable. It was for a while — for the first few years, except for day off for holidays and the like, I published something new every weekday. Over the years, though, that became less and less sustainable for a myriad of reasons; life has a way of getting busier in ways one wouldn’t anticipate. Hitting pause for a whole week seemed unfathomable when I started the newsletter ten years ago; today, it helps it keep going.

On another note: last week, I asked you to suggest non-profits for me to ask the readership to support next month. A lot of you sent suggestions, so thanks for that. I haven’t gone through them yet — vacation is vacation, after all — but at first glance, the suggestions are both thoughtful and impressive. I appreciate the input.

Finally, while I guess I took this week off, I still have some new long-read selections at the bottom. Even my “vacations” don’t stop me from reading, etc., I guess.

The Now I Know Week in Review

I rarely intentionally try to theme the week, but in this case, I (obviously!) went with Thanksgiving stories.

Monday: When Elephants and Donkeys Fought over Turkey: When is Thanksgiving? That’s a political quesiton, or was, not too long ago.

Tuesday: The Forgotten History of Jingle Bells: It’s actually not a Christmas song. Or a very good one for little kids to sing, at least not based on its history.

Wednesday: How Turkey Got Its Name: The bird, not the country, although I also talk briefly about the country, too.

Thursday: Tturkey Day! No email.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “A New Study About Color Tries to Decode ‘The Brain’s Pantone’” (Wired, 9 minutes, November 2020). The subhead: “How do humans perceive color? An NIH experiment finds a way to measure what happens after light hits the eye—using brain scans.”

2) “An oral history of how Alex Trebek became America’s most beloved game-show host” (Washington Post, 11 minutes, November 2020). I rarely link to articles at the Washington Post because of their paywall, but with Trebek’s passing this month, I think this is a worthy exception.

3) “My Priceless Summer on a Maine Lobster Boat” (Outside, 13 minutes, November 2020). The subhead: “During her college break, the author went all-in on solitude—living alone on a Down East island and working for one of the area’s few female skippers. Luna Soley reflects on a time of loneliness, hard work, and natural beauty.” Given the isolation many are feeling right now, this wasn’t something I expected to appreciate, but I did.

Have a great weekend!