David Bouchier

Since the dawn of history people have performed rituals of cleansing and purification involving water. Just about every religion has some form of ceremonial immersion.The ancient Romans had their grand public baths, and regarded dirt as a mark of barbarism.And here in America we have the car wash.

I am old enough to remember when suburban husbands were expected and required to spend every summer Saturday morning in the driveway, washing their sacred vehicles by hand with sponge and detergent, and finishing off with a hose and leather.

Last week our local library organized an electronic equipment recycling day. We had been anticipating this. Dead pieces of electronic equipment had been cluttering up our closets for years. So we brought some computers that had suffered a terminal crash, or that had simply been made obsolete by cunning software updates. They looked forlorn and slightly sinister in the light of day, and I wondered whether they could be brought back to life. Or might they come back to life by themselves? What personal history and forgotten secrets might I be throwing away? So I pulled out the hard drives.

The day after tomorrow will be Administrative Professionals Day. In case your grasp of the English language is a bit out of date, Administrative Professionals are skilled white collar employees such as secretaries, data managers, and administrative assistants. Until the late 1990s this celebration was known as Secretary’s Day, which was criticized as being rather narrow and demeaning.

This year we benefit (if that's the right word) from a three-day extension of the tax deadline, apparently to allow people in Washington, D. C. to celebrate Emancipation Day on the 15th, although I am not quite sure how they did this. But now the deadline has arrived, and there is no emancipation for ordinary tax payers. If you are very rich you can ship your fortune offshore, as revealed in the so-called Panama Papers, and forget about taxes for the rest of your life. But we must face up to the tax man and his Byzantine code of regulations every April without fail.

My parents never sent me to summer camp. They believed that families should go on vacation together, no matter how painful the experience was for all concerned. But a lot of things have changed since my childhood. In particular, Dr. Benjamin Spock dreamed up the idea that children should not be repressed by arbitrary discipline, and must be allowed to express themselves. Since then, the family vacation has declined, and the summer camp industry has boomed.