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 […]

Our Grandson’s ZOOM Bar Mitzvah

Adam and Jodi blessing Jonah Yesterday we had a wonderful family celebration. Our oldest grandchild, Jonah, celebrated his bar mitzvah, the initiation as a Jewish adult (with all religious rights and responsibilities), which traditionally takes place at age 13. In ordinary times, a bar mitzvah is celebrated in a synagogue or temple in the presence […]

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 […]

Bringing Thrust and Parry to New England’s Highways

With my friend Henry Harutunian at Harvard, spring 1968 The story I’m about to recount took place over half a century ago, in 1966–68, when I was working on my master’s degree in Soviet area studies at Harvard. During the first year of this two-year, multi-disciplinary program, I continued my study of the Russian language, […]

How to Ace a Job Interview — Part 2

The distinguished journalist Edward R. Murrow,1 right, director of the U.S. Information Agency under President John F. Kennedy. At left, Murrow’s wife and son. In last week’s post, I began the story of how in a critical job interview, after I was asked the question I most feared, my luck turned around and I completed […]

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 […]