The Critical Ingredient

  A few days ago I joined a recently formed LinkedIn group of alumni of and current students at the REECA (Russia, East Europe and Central Asia) master’s degree program at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. When I was there, 1966–1968, it was known more simply as the Russian Research Center (RRC), […]

Beating a Cold the Hard Way

Hovercraft crossing the English Channel, the White Cliffs of Dover in the background A cold nearly tripped up our trip to Michigan for our daughter Naomi’s wedding last month. The day before we were to leave (on Thursday before the Sunday wedding), Sandra felt the classic symptoms coming on and was hoping it was just […]

Tummy Tickler Bridge

The gently arched Hermitage Bridge carrying the Neva River Embankment roadway across the mouth of the Zimnaya Kanavka. In the background, the pedestrian bridge linking the Hermitage Museum (right) to the Hermitage Theater. A few days ago something — I’ve already forgotten what — reminded me of one of the small pleasures of life I […]

Richard R. Kelley, Dec. 28, 1933 – Feb. 24, 2022

February 24 will long be remembered as the day when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Awful as I feel about this appalling act of aggression in a part of the world of great interest to me, February 24, 2022, will for me also be the date of a more personal loss. It’s the day […]

A Long-Ago Moment That Will Live Forever

Melissa, Adam and Naomi a few years after the event in this post. Dull moments were a rare luxury when Sandra and I were still living with our three teenagers — Naomi, Adam and Melissa — back around 1990, give or take a few years. However, one particular anything-but-dull moment stands out. It happened early […]

Birth of a Book

Last Monday, November 1, 2021, was a big day for an old friend, Dr. Richard Kelley. I say “old” not just because he’ll soon be celebrating his 88th birthday, but also because I’ve had the pleasure of working with him now for nearly 20 years.1 Monday was big because it’s when his just-published book — […]

A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

  Sandra Shakespeare got it exactly right when, in Romeo and Juliet, he penned this memorable line: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet I mused on this thought in a previous blog post, but came to a conclusion different from the Bard’s. Margaux […]

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. […]