A Sobering Experience

The river at Jaroli Have you ever come with a hair’s breadth of killing someone? It happened to me, and it was a sobering experience, to say the least. No, it was not a close call when driving a car. Nor the result of a flash of blinding anger. It was, rather, something that happened […]

A Different Way to Achieve Immortality

One of the farmers I worked with in Rajnagar This week’s post is a reminiscence of an amusing incident from my Peace Corps service in India. It can also be found on my Portfolio page and – under the title “Earstaches and a Message From Chiang Kai-Shek” – in the book Even the Smallest Crab […]

How Much Energy Does It Take to Explode a Ketchup Packet?

Have you ever wondered how much force it would take to burst open a little packet of ketchup – the kind you get with a takeout order at a fast food joint – by stomping on it? I’d be willing to wager that this question has never so much as entered the minds of most […]

Car Shopping à la Russe

Zhiguli, the Soviet version of the Fiat 124, which, when exported, was called the Lada Shopping for a car in the Soviet Union was a surreal experience that few Americans or Westerners have had the pleasure of undergoing. I am one of those so privileged, though, and it’s provided me with still another offbeat story to […]

Refuge for Birds, or …?

Last week I recounted my 1971 adventure motoring down the lower reaches of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. Today, I’ll go back only to June 2006, when Sandra and I had an altogether different kind of watery adventure – at a bird refuge on the shore of Lake Takern in southern Sweden. Several […]

A Glimpse of the Stone Age

A Stone Age celebration As 2017 comes to a close, here’s another holiday-related recollection that comes to mind. It’s from the time I was in Papua New Guinea on my way home to the United States following Peace Corps service in India. What, you might ask, does this have to do with the holidays? Hang […]

Not Your Everyday Christmas Story

I’d been thinking of republishing last year’s Christmas blog post, but today, just as Santa is harnessing the reindeer and filling his sleigh with toys in preparation for tonight’s globe-girdling ride, I’m recalling another long-ago Christmas event that I hope readers will find of interest. This was one of our family’s many holiday gatherings in […]

Guns, not Butter

The “Czar Cannon,” cast in 1586, stands in the Kremlin. Former U.S. and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev provide perspective on its size. Here, from my personal recollection, is an interesting footnote to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 38 years ago this month (Dec. 24, 1979). It illustrates the overarching principle governing Soviet […]

Another Memorable Thanksgiving

I’d been considering re-posting the blog item I wrote last year at this time, My Most Memorable Thanksgiving, when I recalled another unconventional celebration of this wonderful holiday from my boyhood. I was perhaps 6 or 7 at the time, and my parents were going to do something unusual for the four-day weekend. They decided […]

Bolshevik Revolution – A Somber Centenary

The defining moment of the October Revolution, as Soviet propaganda wished the world to see it. Like so much else in the Soviet version of history, it is a false picture. As a student of Russia, I find it impossible to ignore the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which took place this past Tuesday, […]