Here's the Scoop: May 23, 2012

Good to be back. Sort of
Things are different on vacation. Usually better.
As a general rule, I am a fan of “getting away from it all.” The funny thing about vacations, though, is that they are often surrounded by stress.

Before one can begin forgetting about work and general life pressures, one has to wrap up the vacations details such as planning what to bring, packing these items and tending to lingering details. It’s hard.

Ironically, it becomes important to remember that vacations are supposed to be stress relievers. These getaways are meant to help one relax, rejuvenate and appreciate life’s little pleasures (read: overindulge at every opportunity). Without sounding boastful, I’d like to think that I’m good at performing these tasks. Vacations generally agree with me — I can’t even begin to imagine how skilled I’d be at retirement.

But, retirement is a long way down the line. In the meantime, I have to settle for the occasional week or so out of the office and into a different environment. The beach is often our destination.
As a general rule, I like the beach. It certainly is vastly different than the mountains, of course, but maybe that’s part of the charm. I find it interesting to become immersed in a whole different culture. When I go away, I start to feel like a real tourist — minus the huge blob of white, zinc-based sun-block on my nose. I have to draw the line somewhere. Oh, yeah, no black socks accompanying my sandals, either.

Making improvements
I’m OK with most of the other tourist stuff, though. I do try to avoid the “jerky” tourist label. In my own small way, when I head out of the region, I always strive to give New Yorkers an improved reputation. For instance, I try to be polite while driving. I like to tip well. I never to scream at a restaurant server, “You call these Hush Puppies?”

In addition to spreading a positive vibe about New Yorkers with good manners, I also like to immerse myself in the local culture. While I normally prefer to get my music from services like Pandora, when I’m at the beach, I listen to old-fashioned radio. This somehow brings me back to childhood trips to the Jersey shore (thankfully, pre-Snooki), tuning in to Cousin Brucie spinning Top 40 hits.

Nowadays, I have a strong dislike for “regular” (read: screaming commercials and the same “hit” songs played hourly). But, at the beach, this type of radio seems appropriate.

Uneasy listening
We have learned about the “good” stations over the years. There aren’t many and the “good” part is debatable. “Less bad” is more accurate.

I’ve noticed that on nearly every trip to the beach, the “format” of the station we listen to shifts slightly. The station currently spans four decades, playing a ton of songs that would have made Cousin Brucie proud and a dose of new stuff that I actually like. It’s like the radio stations have become politically oriented, trying to appeal to a wide listening demographic.
Since I was on vacation, I resisted the temptation to call the radio station and shout, “Blues Traveler was always a lousy band — and nothing has changed! They should leave harmonica playing to Neil Young. Please stop playing them.”

Fortuntately for the radio station, I’m from New York and, well, we’re polite here, so I didn’t make the call. The added benefit was that every time Blues Traveler came on the radio, I had to get up and turn down the sound — it’s important to get some exercise while on vacation.
— Brian Sweeney