Blowing Smoke: Memories of 8 a.m. Russian Class

Since I couldn’t find a suitable photo of a cigarette-smoke ring on Google, here are some shots of a volcano puffing one out. Wow! Last November, in writing about the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, I recalled the birth of my interest in Russia and the Soviet Union. I wrote that when I began […]

Nuts and Alligators

Here’s a Foreign Service story that’s too good not to share. Back in the early 1980s when I was working in Washington, D.C., I was assigned for two or three years to USIA’s Foreign Press Center, just three blocks from the White House. It was a great job. The FPC was located in the National […]

Risking Life and Limb for a Good Photo

Arc de Triomphe at the center of the Place de l’Étoile – a hub with 12 spokes Back in 1965, I made my first trip to Europe. In Paris, I learned you could go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. But how to get there? It stands in the middle of the Place de […]

Chincoteague, a Walk on the Wild Side

Osprey returning to nest Before visiting our son Adam and his family in the Washington, D.C., area at the end of May, Sandra and I took a few “just the two of us” vacation days and visited two great destinations, each about three hours south of D.C. – Chincoteague and Assateague islands on Virginia’s “Eastern […]

“Burning Man”

These giant folded-paper “mushrooms” grow (and shrink) when spectators step on a switch. (All photos courtesy of Sandra Kelley-Daniel) This past week Sandra and I were visiting our son Adam and his family in the Washington, D.C., area. Last Sunday we all went to the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery where we enjoyed a remarkable exhibit, […]

Dear Mr. Delta

UPDATE: I sent a slightly revised version of the letter below to Delta’s complaint line the evening of May 16 and received a very gracious and responsive reply early the next morning. (I’d originally written this complaint primarily for the amusement of my blog’s readership, and only later decided to send it directly to Delta.) […]

The Smile That Saved a Life, a Mothers’ Day Tale

Jonah This is the perfect story for Mother’s Day. It’s not from my own past, but it’s too good not to pass along – and I have the gracious permission of its principal, my daughter-in-law Jodi, to share it today with all her fellow mothers and all the husbands and children who love the mothers […]

Want to Have Your Palm Read? Me Neither!

Roma (Gypsy) women Every once in a while, as I drive down the street or highway, I’ll spot a sign calling attention to what is usually a pretty low-rent establishment – a place where, according to its sign, you can get your palm read and your fortune told. In the interest of full disclosure, readers […]

Furo Adventure

If you haven’t bathed in traditional Japanese style, you’ve missed a great experience. I’ve had a few opportunities to bathe like the locals do in Japan, but none to rival the one I’ll recount below. First though, for readers unfamiliar with Japanese customs, here’s brief intro. In Japan, you get clean before you get into […]

The Limits of Canine Intelligence

  Rin Tin Tin Years ago, when Johnny Carson was the face of late-night TV, he once drew hundreds of outraged letters after he dared to say, in conversation with a guest, that pigs are smarter than dogs. Lassie lovers were not amused. I spent my childhood largely unaware of the limits of canine intelligence. […]