Only on Vashon- The Weekly Rundown 08/12/2022

In the rants group, we have a complaint that the free Concerts in the Park are too loud. “I’m going to ask for my money back,” says one islander. 

But some say that concerts aren’t too loud. But you know what is too loud?  TikTok. 

According to one commenter, “People complaining about TikTok remind me of the old folks that complained about that new Rock and Roll genre of music the kids were into back in the 50s. Those Beatles were sent by the devil you know? 🙄

Another responds, “yeah, you have to understand the algorithm and train it to serve content that makes sense to you. If I see something I don’t like, I immediately scroll through without finishing it. If I like something, I watch all the way through and leave comments on the ones I really like the most.”

It was a lot easier training the Beatles to make music we liked. All we had to do was  give them drugs.

The shape kinda looks like a fox. Does anyone else see the fox?

We’ve got some unsettling images of what appears to be a red tide. Knowledgeable islanders tell us that it is probably not a harmful red tide, and it may be bioluminescent at night. 

Also, they’re no longer called red tides. Instead, they’re called harmful algal blooms, or HABs, on account that not all red algae is harmful, and not all harmful algae is red. 

But others suspect it’s not natural in origin. One islander says, “Sorry I had to throw out a large batch of tomato soup the other night, didn’t realize it would travel that far.”

And another guesses it’s “Rust from a sunken ‘78 Buick.”

In distressing news, signs have been knocked down all over the island. A stop sign has been taken down from Beall, which has already caused an accident. 

Signs are missing from Cove to the waterfront to Wax Orchard and Reddings Beach. 

An islander asks if the mailbox crashers have switched to stop signs, to which someone replies, “Variety is the spice of life.” 

Maybe the vandals will finally take down the ‘Welcome to Weed Island’ sign.

In the rants group, someone shared this image:

This begs the question, how do we define ourselves as Americans? I’m sure we can all agree that the American identity is uniformly experienced by all 330 million plus people living in this vast stretch of land. We have two takes before we go off the rails. 

“Driving at 110 in a pickup truck on 150 acres of private property sucking down quarter pounders while smoking and shooting. All the while a depressing folk tune plays on the radio.”

I’m just impressed by this person’s ability to multi-task. He must have a cigarette and steering wheel in one hand and a hamburger and a gun in the other. Imagine how embarrassed he would be if he got confused and, instead of pulling a trigger, just spilled ketchupy pickles on his lap? Or took a bite from a gun? 

Another islander has a different idea of what it means to be American: “Loving my country, respecting my elders. Thanking veterans every day. Standing for the national anthem.”

Someone told him he’s “not getting a uniquely American vibe with this one. Could be a compliant patriot from any number of countries.”

It’s fruitless political argument time! Let’s talk about semantics and the tone of voice we inferred from the written word! 

We have this response to kick us off: “I note your passive aggressive use of ‘compliant patriot.’”

Which garnered this response: “how would you describe an unquestioning deference to elders, a piece of cloth and a song?”

It goes on: “I made no mention of ‘unquestioning’ and I feel sorry for you viewing the flag and the anthem as ‘cloth and a song’.”

You guys! I just want to talk about how being American means you measure distance in either freeway minutes or backroad minutes, or how we give directions based on if the thing we’re looking for is near the Starbucks with the drive-through that’s next to a Taco Bell or if it’s near the Starbucks that doesn’t have s drive through and is across from the vape shop.

Basically I want to talk about how Americans have developed unique systems of measurement to both circumvent the messy imperial system and to cope with a car-centric culture in a homogenized landscape of franchises and freeways. 

Being an American means frequently having to look up how many inches are in a mile. You know what has always bothered me about America? Why do we say “half a dozen” instead of “six?” I will call myself a patriot the day we do away with the phrase “half a dozen.” 

Measurement is so much easier in other countries, where they have concepts like ‘kilometer’ and ‘just take the tram, it goes there.’ 

And how are we measuring distance, if not in neat multiples of ten? There are 3 barleycorns in an inch, 4 inches in a hand and 12 inches in a foot, (side note: why do we need both hands and feet? And whose foot is three times bigger than their hand? ). We’re not done though. There are 3 feet in a yard, 22 yards in a chain, 10 chains in a furlong, 8 furlongs in a mile, and 3 miles in a league. 

Of note, the previous mile has no relation to a nautical mile, which is 10 cables, and each cable is 100 fathoms. This is a nice neat calculable measurement, except that each fathom is 6 feet, originally defined as a human wingspan. 

But we’re so used to this weird system that high school kids moan and groan when they have to measure things in kiloliters and centiwatts or whatever. In fact, when I was in high school, my biology teacher was only able to hammer the metric system into our heads by promising us it would come in handy when we got involved in the illicit drug trade. 

Maybe that is my most American experience ever, now that I think about it. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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