I’m back — for now


A short post-Canada update now that I’m back in Berlin. Thank you to everyone who packed the room for my talk at the Prescott Public Library.  Special thanks to those who spent hours on the highway driving from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Syracuse NY.  It was nice to see so many old and new faces — especially on a sunny summer Saturday when everyone would much rather be outdoors...

Mark May 25th on your calendar


I’m doing an author talk at the Prescott Public Library next Saturday May 25th. That’s Prescott, Ontario. Not the other Prescott in Arizona. Start time is 1:30pm. I’ll speak for about 20 minutes, and will do two readings from A Sunny Place for Shady People, followed by Q&A and signing. I’ll have copies of the book available on site if you’d like to buy one (or three) directly from me. The...

What I learned from writing 500 blogs


Writing in the Aeolian Islands I wrote my 500th blog on this site a couple weeks ago.  In case you’re wondering, it was the one about the Stalin Museum in Georgia.  You can search my archives by clicking the little hamburger icon in the menu up top. It’ll open an entire world of options. Anyway, I thought I should take a look back at what I’ve learned from doing this — if anything...

Do you remember your childhood reading?


The earliest books I remember borrowing from the public library — over and over again — as a child were on astronomy and World War Two aircraft.  I loved anything about the solar system, especially images from the early Viking landers that went to Mars, and the Voyager probes that ventured to the gas giants and beyond. And I probably knew more about World War Two fighters and bombers...

Where the hell has the year gone?


Foggy nighttime views from Berlin’s new palace 2021 has faded into a tedium of unmemorable sameness thanks to endless lockdowns and restrictions, which at this point have come to feel like helicopter parenting by a nanny state in charge of risk-averse populations determined to repress awareness of our own mortality. It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. But there really hasn’t been...

A recluse’s guide to self-isolation


How are you coping with being jailed at home? I could do this self-isolation thing for months. It doesn’t bother me at all. Okay, at this time of year I’m missing the biergarten. There’s nothing like a cold draft on a hot summer day after a weekend bike ride. But nothing else has changed for me, apart from not being able to travel and the gym being closed. I realize that’s not the case for normal...

I’m not optimistic about our current situation


I’m not optimistic about our current situation. I think this pandemic marks a historical turning point, one we were already moving towards but which is now accelerating. We talked about this in previous blogs on the future of the European Union, the future of travel, and other post-pandemic changes. The past five or six years has felt like inhabiting a world that fell off the rails. The rise of...

What happens to travel after COVID-19?


In recent blogs, we’ve talked about the future of the European Union, and other changes we might see in the wake of the Great Pandemic. In this instalment, I’d like to bring things closer to home and talk about the future of travel. The entire travel and tourism industry took a massive blow, and some of it is very unlikely to recover. But will we stop traveling after COVID-19? What if there isn’t...

I Hate My Phone


I hate my phone. Well, not just my phone, but all phones that fit in one’s pocket. There’s a direct correlation between the portability of one’s devices and the sense of obligation other people have for your attention. For brevity’s sake, let’s just refer to this as Murd’s Law. You’ve all heard of Moore’s Law, right? It states that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles...

Adrift in Berlin


The latest issue of Outpost hit newsstands across Canada a few weeks ago. This time in my Adrift on the Continent column, I’m taking you to Berlin. Well, I suppose I should say “bringing you to Berlin”, since I live here. But you won’t find any of the usual stuff in this story. No Berlin Wall or Brandenburg Gate, and definitely no tedious tales of yet another all night excursion to a techno club...


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