Great Escape

Poppies along the coast It’s been about three weeks since the Great Coronavirus Confinement began in earnest, at least at our house. Sandra and I have been out to pick up groceries or prescriptions a few times, but mostly we’ve had our food and medications delivered — and a few take-out meals as well. (Three […]

How to Ace a Job Interview — Part 1

Back in the spring of 1968 I had a big job interview — the oral portion of the U.S. Foreign Service exam. It was a long shot, and I was not expecting to pass. Still, I hoped I’d succeed, since work as a U.S. diplomat in embassies and consulates around the world would give me […]

Russian Drinking Tales — Round 3

A year or so ago, I published two posts (here and here) related to wine, beer and another, quite exotic, alcoholic beverage in the former Soviet Union. Previously, I’d created two other posts (here and here) about experiences with vodka in the USSR. Today, I’ll briefly return to the subject in a sort of “hair […]

Hot Nights in Rajnagar

Charpai — tipped on its side for easy carrying — much like the one I slept on in Rajnagar, except the wooden framework and legs of mine were, like most charpais in village India, unpainted No … Not that kind of hot night! I enjoyed precious few of those in Rajnagar. The hot nights I have […]

Mattress Ads and Restless Nights

This is me in traditional Indian garb. The garment tied around my waist, a dhoti, is almost identical to the lunghi (sarong) about which please see below …. Judging by the number of ads for mattresses and sleep medications shown on our TV screens every evening, you could be forgiven for wondering if the country’s current ill […]

Trump’s Impeachment Reminds Me of a Soviet Era Joke

Leonid Brezhnev The passions whose flames are being fanned on both sides by the Trump impeachment trial bring to mind a joke that Russians would tell each other (if they felt confident the KGB wouldn’t overhear them) back in the 1970s when I was posted to the U.S. consulate-general in Leningrad (today, St. Petersburg). At […]

Creating a ‘Newspaper’ for an Audience of One

Visualization of Soviet fighters intercepting KAL 902 I’ve begun reading a fascinating book, Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended, by Jack Matlock, who, as the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, 1987–91, had a bird’s-eye view of history in the making. I’m still in the early chapters of the book, but a few days ago […]

National Geographic Wild — In My Own Backyard

Bull-headed butting. I thought I’d scanned a photo of this phenomenon from my collection of slides taken in India, but I can’t seem to locate it. I found this shot on the web. Have you ever tuned in to the National Geographic Channel and watched a few minutes of creatures demonstrating how survival of the […]

Levitation

The illustration above, which I posted tongue in cheek on social media several weeks ago, depicts telekinesis.1 It reminds me of an actual demonstration of physical “levitation” — raising a recumbent person off the ground without actually touching him — that I witnessed some 50 years ago. This is an unvarnished account of what I […]

Dear Mr. United

About six months ago, I had an “entertaining” airline experience — not to be confused with in-flight entertainment — which led me to write to “Dear Mr. Delta.” This past week, I had another experience — not quite so entertaining — which prompts me to pen this “Dear Mr. United” missive. The experience in question […]