Nov 112014
Find Your Place in the World

I spent last weekend with some friends in Palm Desert, a little respite from the fall rains sweeping into Seattle. But as I sat soaking in the sun by the pool, gazing up at the dramatic outline of the mountains surrounding this desert oasis, my mind drifted back to my recent trip to Ukraine. I [...Read more]

Oct 202014

I should have patented it. When I first came up with my jet lag prevention scheme, there seemed to be great debate about how to prevent jet lag. Drink alcohol to help you sleep on the plane. Don’t drink alcohol on the plane. Eat lightly on the plane. What you eat doesn’t matter. Take a [...Read more]

Oct 192014
I Need a Dirndl

  In September, my thoughts turn to Oktoberfest even though Americans usually think about Oktoberfest in, well, October. But in its German homeland, Oktoberfest begins in September. (Something about wanting good enough weather to be able to drink beer outside.) For years, Oktoberfest in München was not high on my list of travel priorities. A [...Read more]

Oct 162014
Chut Chut

The first time I went to Ukraine, I hated vodka. That’s a problem, because it’s a mark of Ukrainian hospitality to share with guests. Generously. In a seemingly constant flow. I’d pretend to drink it and hide the glass behind a bowl or something. I’d slide my glass over to a friend so he could [...Read more]

Oct 102014
Travels to Ukraine: Then and Now

My constant bubbling-over-with-excitement descriptions of my upcoming trip to Ukraine may be trying the patience of my friends and work colleagues. What a contrast to my first trip in 2001, when I wasn’t even really interested in traveling to this country. I loved the history and genealogy of my German ancestors who had been born [...Read more]

Oct 072014
Who Am I?

As I’ve become obsessed with the news from Ukraine, first the Maidan revolution and now Russia’s invasion, I’ve found I can turn almost any conversation with any group of people into a discussion about Ukraine and its politics. And so I’m often asked, “Are you Ukrainian?” The correct answer would seem to be no. No, [...Read more]

Sep 242014
Musing on Languages

I recently started wondering how much language audio lessons reflect the culture of that language. I’m not an accomplished linguist, but whenever I travel, I do like to learn a few words of the local language to help smooth my way. Although I’ve always been told that “please,” “thank you,” and “Where’s the bathroom?” are [...Read more]

Sep 072014
How Travel Changed Me

I just got off the phone with the White House. I was telling President Obama (via the citizen comment line) my opinion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the U.S.’s inaction. Most articles about how travel changes you enthusiastically describe expanding your horizons and understanding other cultures. While I do believe that’s true, travel has [...Read more]

Aug 242014
Reflections on Hiking and Fear

I’m surprised I survived. Thirty years ago, a friend invited me on a hike. The distance (nine miles) concerned me—that was three times the distance of my favorite, completely flat, three-mile walk around Green Lake. But my friend assured me it was a “moderate” hike. Moderate didn’t sound too bad. Maybe a hill or two. [...Read more]