East Germany After the Wall

In March 1990, when there was still a communist East Germany, I spent ten days traveling from East Berlin to Leipzig, Dresden and places in between. One dreary evening I arrived late in historic Weimar only to find the hotels fully booked.  But in a makeshift office near the station an enterprising easterner had set up an agency that paired travelers with locals seeking hard … Continue reading East Germany After the Wall

Thomas Edison: Character Forged in Ohio and Michigan

MILAN, OHIO: There are surprises when visiting Thomas Edison’s birthplace in northern Ohio. The great inventor was born in this pleasant village between Cleveland Toledo in 1847, the 7th and youngest child in a family with roots in Canada. The Edisons’ sturdy two-story brick home was a cut above the neighbors, revealing their relative prosperity. Thomas’s father made roofing shingles. A further surprise is that … Continue reading Thomas Edison: Character Forged in Ohio and Michigan

Postcard from the West

ULYSSES, Kansas:  How good it is to occasionally be away from the nation’s capital and out in the open spaces of western Kansas. It’s a different world. The terrain is flat, mile after mile of pencil-straight highways, fence rows and power lines, fields of corn yet to be harvested, stubbled wheat fields, grazing cattle, few people. To an easterner unused to the great plains it’s … Continue reading Postcard from the West

Cycling the Neckar in Southern Germany

When Mark Twain explored the Neckar in the summer of 1879, he extolled its soft, peaceful beauty. The Neckar, he wrote, was “gentle, gliding, smooth and noiseless.”  One hundred 40 summers later the Neckar remains serene, a refuge from a chaotic world. We were nine cyclists, all in our 70s, from Germany, France and America. We began in Mannheim close to where the Neckar dissolves … Continue reading Cycling the Neckar in Southern Germany

Letter from a Relaxed England

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, England: During the German blitz in the Battle of Britain, correspondent Edward R. Murrow marveled at how Londoners stoically carried on amid the nightly horrors of aerial bombing. In an obviously different context, I find a similar mentality in England as the summer of 2019 ends. The message I take away from London and the countryside is, ‘we’ve had three years of continuous inconclusive … Continue reading Letter from a Relaxed England

Two Chinas: Hong Kong and Shanghai

WASHINGTON: People in mainland China don’t have a clue as to what is really happening in Hong Kong. State television lacks any semblance of balance. Its reporting emphasizes violence while downplaying the magnitude of what until recently were non-violent demonstrations against the steady erosion of democratic freedoms.  CCTV gives huge play to the defacing of the government insignia on a prominent building. As is well … Continue reading Two Chinas: Hong Kong and Shanghai

Letter from Shanghai: A Reflection on China Rising

SHANGHAI: As long as your visa is in order, it’s a fast passage through immigrations and customs in Shanghai. This sprawling city of 23 million has a modern, efficient international airport and it’s only a short walk to the world’s fastest train. The Siemens built maglev costs only $7 for the eight-minute, 200 mph journey to Shanghai’s outskirts. Connected to hotel Wifi, your laptop’s home … Continue reading Letter from Shanghai: A Reflection on China Rising