The Japan Series — Totoro, We’re Not In Hokkaido Anymore

Actually, we knew we would be going to Russia as part of the voyage we were on. But we weren’t totally prepared for the experience.

One day we are wandering around a small northern Japanese city — tidy, orderly, polite, clean. The next, after crossing a narrow channel of water, we have exchanged slender, scampering salarymen for buff, blonde, steely blue-eyed guys in tight t-shirts, standing around smoking cigarettes, eyeing you suspiciously. We are now in Russia.

You see, just above the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido is another island, part of the same chain, but this one belongs to Russia. It used to belong to Japan, so you’ll still spot the odd Japanese-style building sticking out like a sore thumb here or there. But Russia — claiming it was their’s originally — took it back after World War II (Crimea, anyone?). More

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Globalization, Topanga Style

Globalization is a bit of a loaded word these days. Obama likes it, but Trump sorta scrunches up his nose and waves his arms about it.

We celebrated the globalization of our own little coastal California canyon recently with “Heritage Day” in my 5th grader, Willa’s class.

The Heritage Feast

The Heritage Feast

“Dad, what’s our heritage?” Willa asked about a week before her heritage presentation was due. Her mother and I cobbled together an approximate lineage. Between the two of us, she was probably close to 50% Irish, I contributed my 25% Swedish, plus some English and Welsh; my wife added German and Norwegian, plus a bit more English and Welsh. More

Happy Пасха

Our friends, Olga and Sam, came for dinner one night recently. Shortly after, we received an email from Olga — who hails from Russia — inviting us to a “Russian Feast”for a holiday called “Пасха” on an upcoming Saturday.

Lenin on Olga's wall

A studious Lenin on Olga’s wall

I’m a big fan of theme dinners. Sadly, we had a previous engagement (a wedding — get it, engagement!??), and asked if she could reschedule. We were free that Sunday. More