This blog has a mix of some of my main interests in life: travel, politics, food and generally being a curmudgeon. Enjoy.
Michael has written 29 posts for Middle of the Road

50 Natural Phenomena Around the World


To e-read or not to e-read? That is the question

With the rise of e-books I have reached a crossroads in life. Do we as a society throw away centuries of reading real ink on real paper for the newfangled devices known as e-readers? What a quandary and what exciting times we live in to witness such new technological wonders. Now I know how my sainted mother felt when permanent … Continue reading

The rocky flight path from Yuri Gagarin to Aeroflot

My how time flies. I hadn’t realized until seeing the Google Doodle today that it was the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first successful manned space flight. I say successful because rumors persist that an earlier flight had crashed but the Soviet-run media never ran with the story. Back then they wouldn’t announce a launch until it … Continue reading

Hey parents, put down the gadgets and pay attention to your kids

Hi folks, I’m wearing my curmudgeon hat today and, as you can see, it’s a little tight so please bear with me. I was eating breakfast at a diner yesterday when I noticed a cute three-year old boy sitting at the table next to me. He was playing with the little cream containers and then tossing them on the … Continue reading

How not to get tossed out of a pub in Ireland

Don’t order a Black and Tan. Now that wasn’t so difficult. I wish I had read this before I left for my recent trip to Ireland. Unfortunately I learned this lesson, as I so often do, the hard way. (Continue reading)

Lessons from Mr. Buffett’s neighborhood

On a recent trip to Omaha, Nebraska I visited my old friends Frank and Jan. I don’t think Jan will like that description so let me rephrase that. I visited my long time friends Frank and Jan. One of their claims to fame is that they live on the same street as Warren Buffett. Now … Continue reading

The dividing walls of Belfast

Belfast – 2011 I just returned from Belfast, a city that has suffered through the “Troubles” since the 1960’s. Due to rising violence, in 1969 city government started building walls between Catholic and Protestant sections. They were called “peaceline” barriers. That clever name reminded me of the Berlin Wall. When the East German communist government … Continue reading

Goodbye winter, pitchers and catchers report today

As I look out the window most of the ice from the recent storms has finally melted. So far this winter it seems like there is a new weather “event” every few days. But my thoughts are drifting south to Florida. Today pitchers and catchers for the Philadelphia Phillies report. As has been well documented by now, Phillies fans got an early … Continue reading

The best barbecue dish in America?

I have spent several decades traveling around America in search of the best slow smoked meat. This quest has led me on various barbecue pilgrimages, mostly throughout the south, home to some of the finest barbecue in America. Since I’m a yankee living in the BBQ deprived north I truly appreciate these trips. However, the one place … Continue reading

How can I convince my wife to celebrate our 25th anniversary at Chernobyl?

I noticed recently that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The amount of radiation has been reduced to somewhat manageable levels—allowing intrepid visitors to make a strictly timed visit to the 30-km radiation zone which had been abandoned after the nuclear reactor’s explosion. Realizing that my 25th anniversary is also taking place this year it seemed to … Continue reading

Who buys those berets they advertise in the back of magazines?

Even since I was a child I’ve been intrigued by the ads for berets placed in the back of magazines. I’m talking 40+ years of magazine reading at this point. Yet this ad still appears regularly. The ad and the photo—of a vaguely Gallic looking man who appears to be in the midst of pointing out the best … Continue reading

Am I a Grinch if I don’t contribute to a charity at the cash register?

I finally got around to doing some Christmas shopping yesterday when I was confronted with a disturbing trend. The cashier asked me to contribute a dollar to charity. I first noticed this earlier in the year at the local supermarket. Depending on what disease was being hyped that month, I was asked to give to said disease. I … Continue reading