National Doughnut Day — Did It Roll Right Past You?

Naomi (here in a forest outside Leningrad, 1977 or 78) in the hooded snowsuit which, with its neck slightly unzipped, prompted a passerby to claim she was “naked” I hope you didn’t miss National Doughnut1 Day this past Friday. If Facebook had not brought it to my attention, I certainly would have. As it turned out, […]

Earning a Ph.D.

Here I am with my Corcel, a Brazilian-made Ford, relaxing in Brasilia in 1972 or thereabouts. I got my bachelor’s degree in Connecticut and my master’s in Massachusetts, but I had to cross the equator and fly all the way to Brazil for my Ph.D. I hasten to add that this doctorate was not in […]

Wanna Learn Japanese in 10 Hours?

Gaijin (Japanese for “foreigner”) Back in 1984, I mentioned to a friend, Don Jones, a U.S. Information Agency colleague, that I’d just been assigned to the staff of the U.S. Pavilion at Tsukuba Expo ’85.1 Don was, I’d guess, about two decades older than me. I’d first met him a few years earlier when we were […]

How Do I Know a Twin-Engine Jet Can Fly on Just One Engine?

Because I was at 30,000 feet when one of our engines quit, and I’m still here to tell you about it. That’s how. It happened in 1974. I was living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, at the time, and my wife and I were flying to São Paulo. We were already familiar with Brasilia – where […]

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 Great Cup of Coffee

If faithful readers of this blog (yes, it appears there actually are a few of you) are tiring of tales from the time I spent in Leningrad, here’s a change of pace – a story from Brazil. And what could be more authentically Brazilian than a story about that fascinating country’s best-known export – other than samba […]

Pianos and Diaper Buckets: The Perils of Intercontinental Moves

When I married my “starter wife” (defined in “The Fly,” below) I was not yet 30 and in more ways than one was just getting acquainted with the various responsibilities of life as an adult. I was living in Washington, D.C., at the time, but was preparing to leave on my first Foreign Service assignment […]

The Fly

The following incident took place one evening in 1971 or ’72 in our apartment, when I was working in my first Foreign Service post at the U.S. embassy in Brasilia. My wife (clarification: my “starter wife,” as a funny friend likes to call a first spouse to whom one is no longer wed) had gone […]