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Shaking a post-vacation daze

Oh, hey. Hold on, just let me disable my "out of office" e-mail prompt and – thanks for the nudge, observant colleagues – update my voicemail message lest anyone think I'm still snarled in customs at the airport.

There. Now where was I?

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Plugging back into work after a summer trip, or just time off spent at home, means playing catch-up. It also means pausing in the hallway to uncork an invited tale or two.

And, let's be honest, it means buying back into your job.

However much we love what we do, there's a certain sweetness to being disconnected, particularly in times like these.

For example, by choosing which papers I read, and blotting out TV, I managed to dodge all details of a major stock-market slide. (The Dow began a rally last Monday just after I booted up my computer. I'm not claiming there's a connection.)

Now it's time to remember why events I could afford not to care about for two weeks deserve to be analyzed and somehow explained.

Time to remind myself that working in tattered shorts down at the marina won't pay for a Jimmy Buffett lifestyle, or anything close.

It's worth all the soul-searching. For anyone blessed with a paying gig at a stable outfit, some vacation-season advice: Take off.

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If you're "indispensable," then your firm has structural problems it needs to address. If you don't want to miss anything, don't fret. It'll all be there when you get back.

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Ever pass a gas station on the way home from grocery shopping and notice that it's selling its volatile, politics-buffeted fluid for less than what you just paid for water? We asked writer Noel Paul – long since back from vacation and fully engaged – to tell us why.