I remember finding the crossword puzzle in the Cleveland Plain Dealer when I was a kid. The PD was a "newspaper," a big wad of folded paper that smelled like ink because news was printed on it just hours before you got it. Tucked away between the headlines was a crossword puzzle. What was staggering about it is that, I thought I was pretty clever when I was 9 or 10, but the words and cultural references in it were not things I had any chance of knowing. I thought crosswords were stupid.
Now I understand that they're kind of intended for old people, or at the very least, not kids. They're a mix of trivia and vocabulary and clever interpretation of clues. Recently, Diana started using some random app with crosswords, and I followed. Then I realized that The New York Times, which is also a "newspaper," though I don't imagine many people get it in print anymore, published daily crosswords. Along with a wider series of games and crossword archives, you can play all of that for an extra five bucks a month. It also unlocks their Cooking and Wirecutter content, which I was always kind of annoyed wasn't included in the regular subscription. But whatever, it's a few bucks.
So now I've been devoting much of my time wasting to crossword puzzles. It helps fill the gap in which I don't spend much time messing around on the Internets. Social media for me has become a mostly a publish-only affair, though I'll scroll a little now and then. The time tracker on the phone shows that I'm generally spending less than 20 minutes a day on Instagram, which still seems like a lot, but it's undoubtedly far less than I used to do.
The digital format for crosswords is much better. You can brute-force your way to answers that you don't know when you turn on the auto checking. I know some people engage in some "purist" bullshit about how you're supposed to solve them, but whatever. This brings me joy. And I'm amused at how frequently I see the clue "Singer Bareilles" or "Personal identifier, for short." I'll let you figure those out.