As newspeople, when we go on vacation we have to remove ourselves completely from the 24/7, 365 chew you up and grind you out monster that is the modern news cycle. Because if we didn't, we wouldn't be long for this world. Somedays it's just too much.
So, I vowed to not look at one single newspaper, not read anything online, not watch any news shows for the one week I was on vacation the beginning of this month.
But even in a woman-made world of news denial, it was hard to escape from that one story, that singular problem of which we cannot stop talking: The open letter from Sinead O'Conner to Miley Cyrus.
Oh, and that little problem of the federal government shutting down.
It's pretty clear that the heart of this sustained federal shutdown lies in the inability of those on the left and the right to work together. That fundamental issue - which, if I recall correctly, each and every one of us learned how to do successfully in our formative years - has kept this Congress from doing really anything significant for years. Unless you count the House of Representatives voting to de-fund Obamacare 42 times. One more successful vote and I think they'll all win a new car.
And now that we're days into this shutdown, it's clear this stalemate is going to drag on and on and on as both sides throw witty one-liners at each other, with national news networks hungry for sound bites, all too willing to give people with already inflated egos their 15 minutes of fame.
Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer received his 15 minutes when a video went viral that showed him admonishing a park ranger for refusing to allow people in to view a veteran's memorial in Washington D.C. The amazing part? The ranger can't let people in because of a federal shutdown he is wholeheartedly a part of.
Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner for biggest hypocrite on Capitol Hill. At least, that day.
But hey, telling her "You should be ashamed" makes for great TV, Congressman.
Maybe I'm being too simplistic, but I think it's time all the ideological sides of this stagnant Congress learn to work together. It's not like their approval ratings could get any worse.
Maybe it's time to do something crazy, something drastic, something like talking to each other instead of to the television cameras. It may even be time to stop calling press conferences so they can trot out the same tired lines. Democrats won't sit down at the table. Republicans are asking for too much.
Because as the two sides continue to puff out their chests, thousands of furloughed federal employees are left wondering when they'll see their next paychecks, and the anxious masses are hoping the federal government of the wealthiest country in the world doesn't go into default.
But at least the Congressional gym is still open. Not the majority of the Center for Disease Control, or most parts of the Food and Drug Administration. Not the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Education.
The gym. That was deemed essential.
I guess that means the legislative branch of the federal government will resolve this shutdown over some quality time on a treadmill.
Or even better, they can solve it with a Harry Reid vs. John Boehner bench press contest.
That would really make for some great TV.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.