Matzah, a Leningrad Perspective

Matzah In the days leading up to the beginning of Passover1 last night, I’ve seen several articles on the web about matzah,2 cracker-like sheets of unleavened bread. That was all the food the Israelites (whom today we call the Jews) were able to take with them as Moses led them to freedom following generations of slavery […]

Dog Food

Zebee Not long ago I spotted something funny online about the attributes — from a female viewpoint — of a perfect guy. One of them was a good memory.1 I’ve forgotten the rest. OK, just kidding. But only partly. Actually, while I don’t remember them all, one of those “great guy” attributes was that he’d […]

Heroism

Bon voyage! (Courtesy Matson Navigation Company) A few days ago I spotted a funny story on Facebook that reminded me of something a very brave man, Aba Taratuta, told me back in 1978 or thereabouts, when I was on the staff of the U.S. consulate-general in Leningrad (today again known by its original name, St. […]

Zooming in to a Special Celebration

Coach Henry Harutunian Yesterday, at long last, about 160 alumni of Yale University’s fencing teams Zoomed together to honor my friend — our friend — Henry Harutunian, who had served as Yale’s fencing coach for nearly half a century. The celebration had originally been scheduled to take place in person in New York City on […]

Update on the Wildfire Near Our Home

Dry lightning over the Golden Gate Over the past several days, Sandra and I have been hearing from friends and extended family asking if we’re OK amid the wildfires currently burning all over California, and especially up here in Sonoma County Wine Country. YES. So far we’re OK. Thank you all very much for your […]

Dad Stories

Dad with me, probably 1945, Long Branch, N.J. On Father’s Day I’m recalling a few more stories about my dad, Nathan Daniel. They’re mostly “short takes,” so I’m presenting them in bullet form. One day, when I was about eight, Dad brought home a chunk of dry ice, something I’d never seen or heard of […]

Rioting: The Light Side

Bladderball In this time of rioting and broad-brush condemnation of America’s police, both of which I find deeply troubling, I’d like to lighten the mood with a recollection of rioting as I witnessed it in “olden times.” When I was a student at Yale (1962–66), riots were a joyful tradition. Entirely apolitical, they were simply […]

Racism — A Few Things to Think About

I’m 75 years old. As readers of this blog know, I’ve been around the block a time or two, and I’ve seen, read and learned a lot. What I’m seeing right now — America’s racial “conversation” (for some, our national yelling match) becoming ever more shrill and violent — deeply troubles me. I’m also deeply […]

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat or … 

… carve a turkey … or slice a banana. Yes. And I’ve witnessed it. As regular readers of this blog will recall, last week I wrote about my grandson’s bar mitzvah. That got me thinking about my own bar mitzvah, back in 1957. That was a significant year. It was when the USSR put the […]

Bittersweet Postscript to My Friend Henry’s Story

Last week I wrote about the adventure of teaching Henry Harutunian, my ex-Soviet Olympic fencing coach friend, to drive. As promised, there’s more to his story. In those first couple of years after Yale, with a recent graduate’s typical enthusiasm for the success of his alma mater’s teams, I followed the ups and downs of […]