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 […]

The Power of Garlic

Leo Tolstoy began his novel Anna Karenina by observing that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” As a devoted student of Russian literature, human folly, and baloney in its many guises, it seems to me a similar pattern may apply to many of the life events we […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Blind Leading the Blind

Ever have a nightmare about the risk of getting lost in a crowded place where no one speaks your language? For an idea of how it might feel, read this story from my first visit to Japan, in 1971. Japan was the last stop on a roughly three-month trip back to the U.S. at the […]

A Memory of Christmas Past

Christmas morning never fails to remind me of the most memorable holiday event I’ve ever experienced. No, this is not the heart-warming story of family gathered round a blazing fireplace, sipping eggnog and inhaling the aroma of freshly baked cookies. Rather, it’s a tale of a somewhat less time-honored Christmas tradition – the grab-bag game. […]

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, […]

Gauze Pads Are Not Just for Bleeding

For the past couple of years I’ve been editing a semi-annual magazine, Marin Medicine, the journal of the Marin (California) Medical Society. Unfortunately, I’m now losing this interesting client because the Society has just voted to merge with the San Francisco Medical Society, which publishes its own magazine. This development somehow triggered the long-lost memory […]

My Most Memorable Thanksgiving

The most memorable Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced1 took place in 1970 in Pawarkheda, pretty much in the geographic center of India.2 It was the site of a training facility belonging to the government of Madhya Pradesh (M.P., or Central State), which was made available to the Peace Corps to train a new group of volunteers […]