Happy Easter!

Russian Easter Eggs Have you ever locked yourself out of the car? With the motor running? On a narrow street? With traffic stuck behind you? Because you’re just outside the Russian Orthodox Cathedral as the Midnight Easter Service is about to begin? Yup! It happened to me. Which is a self-exculpatory way of saying, “Yes, […]

Courage and Fear

The defeat of evil: burning a Dusshera effigy of Ravana In the late summer of 1970, as I was nearing the end of my Peace Corps service in India, the local Peace Corps office asked if I would be willing to stay on for another three months to help train a new group of volunteers […]

Just Across the River From the Czar’s Palace

  Dormitory No. 6, Leningrad State University (Neva River hydrofoil in foreground) (Photo: Michael Alberts) Here’s a bit of color about a little-heralded aspect of life in the bad old days of the USSR. The story comes from my first visit to the Soviet Union – as a graduate student – in the summer of 1967. […]

What Exactly Is It That Begins at 40?

When I was a teen, I would occasionally hear my parents and their contemporaries say “Life begins at 40,” a reference not only to advancing middle age, but – whether they were aware of it or not – to the title of a book, song and film from the 1930s. The phrase came back to […]

Ever Lingered So Long After Dinner That the Restaurant’s Emptying Out?

Yeah, that’s happened to me. Several times. But the time I’m about to describe takes the prize. Like a few other stories in this blog, this one took place when I was working at the U.S. consulate-general in Leningrad, 1976-78. One fine early summer evening, my wife and I went out to dinner with Ilya, […]

Taking Off: Relief for the Transportation Blues

I wrote this article last October for the 2017 edition of the annual Santa Rosa Metro Chamber directory (aka Community Resource and Business Guide), which was published on Friday, Feb. 17, in connection with the Chamber’s annual luncheon meeting, when the Chamber’s rebranding was unveiled. (Until then, the Chamber was called the Santa Rosa Chamber […]

Have You Ever Run Out of Gas?

Troitsky (Kirovsky) Bridge I have. Probably more often than you. I believe it’s in my genes. My dad told me he was notorious, as a young man, for returning home on fumes after an outing in his father’s car. On at least one occasion, according to these stories, when my grandfather went out in the […]

Sky’s the Limit for Hotel Tax? Ask Icarus!

  I wrote this opinion piece (op-ed) in response to an article that appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of the North Bay (California) Business Journal. It was published this week’s (Jan. 23) issue, which was delivered to my mailbox yesterday Jan. 21. (The published version appeared under an additional headline – “Visitors pay hotel […]

Beethoven Would Not Have Survived This Recital, But …

the pianist did, and so did I – barely! This was the piano recital to top them all! No, it wasn’t exactly Vladimir Horowitz or Arthur Rubenstein at Carnegie Hall. In fact, it took place long enough ago (1974 or thereabouts) that the stalwart pianist’s name has, regrettably, faded from memory.1 But I retain a […]

A Delightful Collaboration

Dr. Richard R. Kelley with Howard and Sandra Yesterday, December 17, 2016, was the conclusion, for me, of a 14-year editorial collaboration* with a remarkable man, Dr. Richard Kelley, who, on the eve of his 83rd birthday, has just put down his pen as “scribe, editor and publisher” of a remarkable corporate newsletter. Saturday Briefing, […]