Father’s Day Memories

Dad, in a characteristically playful mood, horsing around with champagne corks at a birthday party (at about age 80) On Father’s Day, as spring gives way to summer in the Northern Hemisphere (and a heat wave here in California), we can all appreciate the pleasure of a nice, cool shower. I have a little twist […]

They’re Not Actually Birdbrains

Blinky with my dad (I was perhaps 10 years old when I took this Polaroid shot; Dad would have been about 42) Most of my friends and family love dogs and cats. My preference, however, has always been birds, the parrot family in particular. I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a beautiful, comic […]

Medical Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in India

This is me in traditional Indian garb, 1968* A recent conversation with my dentist brought back some interesting memories. The first was of an encounter I had with a dentist when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in India back in the late 1960s. And that took me back to a few other experiences I […]

Advance Man for the Grim Reaper? No, Thank You!

Stereotypical obit writer I recently read an article in The Economist about Obit, a documentary on the obituary writers at the New York Times. As someone whose writing credits include several obits, I found the article of considerable interest. I got my start in the genre when I was working as publications manager for Alexander […]

Mother’s Day Memories

As I write this post in the week preceding Mother’s Day, I’m sifting through memories of my mom, trying – but failing – to come up with something as amusing, or at least as memorable, as some of the stories I’ve told in this blog about my dad, who was a certifiable character. Mom – […]

Cowcatcher Evolution

The ultimate cowcatcher When I was a kid, the railroad that linked my hometown – Asbury Park, New Jersey – with New York City, about 90 minutes up the line to the north, ran on steam. That’s right, for years – until diesels took over – the trains were pulled by steam engines. I’d often […]

Boyhood Memories of the Danelectro Factory

Howard Daniel, age 4 or thereabouts To all readers who may be interested in stories about Danelectro and my dad, Nathan I. Daniel, and his many innovations in the field of electric guitars and musical instrument amplifiers, this post is for you. A few days ago, I got an inquiry from John Ward, editor and […]

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. […]