HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!!!!!


Please notice the “Birch Tree Salad” in the foreground. It doesn’t contain any birch but it is decorated in a way that will quietly bug the Russian person among us because birch trees are the corniest Russian stereotype:


And the New Year’s tree:


2015 was a fantastic year for me. Let’s hope 2016 will be even better because it’s looking like it will have to be. 🙂

Happy New Year, everybody!


Germans have now started mass deportations of refugees from the Balkans many of whom have been in the country for years. The refugees are rounded up during the night and dragged to the train stations.

Deportations are not only cruel but massively disruptive for the communities where the undocumented immigrants reside. The longer people stay in a country, the more enmeshed their interests become with those of citizens. They have a lease, a bank account, there is a group of people who count on their professional services, on the daily cup of coffee they buy from them, their companionship, their capacity to return the money they borrowed, etc.

When N was about to be deported, I was far from being the only person who was going to mind. He’s probably the biggest hermit in the world, and still the idea that he’d just disappear overnight was unwelcome to many people who’d come to depend on him being here. When people move of their own will, they round things out, make arrangements to make things less painful for those who are staying. But with deportation, even if you are given the proverbial 2 weeks (which the refugees from the Balkans are not), that’s not enough to soften the blow.

The point I’m making is that the popular fantasy of deporting 11 million people from the US will be a disaster for all of us, not just them. People get enmeshed as they live next to each other. And tearing them apart hurts all of them, not just the ones dragged away.

Short-lived Virtue

N and I went out for breakfast today and ordered the saddest, healthiest, pathetically virtuous meals.

“Wow, you guys are really into healthy living. I admire that,” the waitress said.

Little does she know that the sudden attack of culinary virtue is nothing but preparation for a massive pig-out on the world’s unhealthiest Soviet food tonight.