Cheers, fears and jeers over the Pacific

December 2000. The plane was on its last hour of flight across the Pacific toward Osaka, Japan. A lawyer handed out business cards while flight attendants prepared the cabin for landing. I fiddled with a travel voucher that was handed out to each passenger the last time that the plane was parked at the gate …

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Lone man on the bus

June 2005. “De donde eres (Where are you from)? Guatemala?” asked the cab driver. “De los Estados Unidos (From the United States)," I replied. “No hablo español muy bien (I don’t speak Spanish very well).” “Ah!” he said in a knowing tone. “It’s very hard to go north,” he continued in halting English. He grinned …

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Shock and awe in West Texas

August 1988. I had just stepped out of the academic department chair’s office with things to ponder. “You'd be a good doctoral candidate,” he said. I was flattered but was also taken aback. I never considered getting a Ph.D. after earning my master’s degree. Doing so meant more than following a different career path. I’d …

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The madman and the car crash of 2017

May 2017. The glowing “comet” descended from the ceiling as Josh Groban sang the last words to the final number of the musical, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. The crowd at the Imperial Theater gave the cast and crew a well-deserved standing ovation for its 12 Tony Award nominations. Watching the War and …

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Beer, flamingos and academics

January 2011. “Why is he wearing a hat indoors?” Signor Ferracuti whispered. I glanced at the man with a black beret sitting at the next table. “That’s a sign of ill-breeding in Europe,” he added. I shrugged and smiled at his incredulity. It was an odd complaint from someone attending this 3-day academic conference in …

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