In spite of what some have believed, this isn't a blog, which often is no more than stream-of-consciousness musings. In fact, when I started writing these stories during the two years we lived in Germany from 1989 to 1991 there was no such thing. They were initially inspired by a colleague, George Swetnam, who occasionally sent back emails about his experiences there. When I unexpectedly also found myself working at MITRE's Frankfurt site six months later I did the same.

After we'd lived there for some time and settled into the economy, I occasionally viewed earlier accounts and realized how much we'd become accustomed to once-unfamiliar circumstances, and decided to continue documenting interesting experiences on our return. Although they're generally arranged with the newest ones first, the Miscellaneous category continues to grow, and I've also occasionally added new stories, ending with , to earlier trips.

Over the years I've also expanded the scope to include areas other than travel; for example, the antics of our cats, a spring with a particularly impressive cherry blossom display, and the behind-the-scenes experience of an extra in National Treasure 2.

Stories that mainly involve creativity, like my experience as an extra, develop pretty quickly, but for others my curiosity sometimes leads me increasingly deeply into research. For example, for Santiago de Compostela, in addition to information from the shipboard lecture and our tour guide, I read three books by people who walked the route. And you can see the extent to which one thing leads to another in Sugar Cane Express. as well as our stop in Juneau.

My mailing list numbers more than 700, and counting, including experts on everything, and those at MITRE, where I worked for 35 years, are ever eager to catch me on details. In fact, the first footnote in Ships of the Desert was added after two students of the Bible (one Christian, one Jewish) independently informed me that the son of Abraham that was nearly sacrificed was Isaac, not Ishmael.

Of course, I don't have to include all the tidbits of history, geography, architecture, personality, etc., but the research is fun to me, and I guess to others. Somebody once wrote me that they always learned something new from my stories, which I took as a compliment.

If you have any comments or would like me send you the next episode before I eventually post it here, email me: atjacksplace@gmail.com.

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