Sep 172014

It took some time getting used to tipping in America, and I still have a problem with it. Over the years, Lindsay and I have had many a healthy and heated argument about my resistance to the automatic 20% tip, our cultures and personal experiences clashing like pot lids being banged against each other. No need to go into the details because in this clip from Quentin Tarantino’s movie Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) outlines some of my arguments. After all the back and forth, Lindsay and I […] Continue reading >

Aug 272014
Tipping in America, Hand to Hand (Part 1)

When I travel one of the first things I look up about a country is restaurant tipping customs and etiquette. This wasn’t the case when I came to the U.S. 11 years ago, chiefly because I didn’t have the money to go out much, not to mention tip. After returning from the yearlong round-the-world trip and changing my tipping habits (and currencies) every few weeks, I was reintroduced to tipping in America with something close to a jolt. Tipping in Slovakia In my native Slovakia tipping isn’t a strict […] Continue reading >

May 012013
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in May 2013

In Portland, Oregon, in May? Check out these wonderful Central/Eastern European events! All info comes from organizer’s website and is edited for clarity/length. Bulgaria: Horo Dancing with Portland’s Bulgarians, 5/3 Friday, May 3, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. Podkrepa Hall, 2116 North Killingsworth St, Portland, Oregon $5 suggested donation and finger-food potluck Come and join us for a fun night of dancing and learning. Poland: True Life Trio, 5/4 Saturday, May 4, 7:00 pm Polish Hall/St. Stanislaus Church, 3916 N. Interstate Ave., Portland, Oregon Tickets: $10 Band website and Facebook page […] Continue reading >

Apr 212013
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for April 2013

From the RSS Feed “The Rise of Gay Marriage and the Decline of Straight Marriage: Where’s the Link?” by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, April 4, 2013 “A ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ Map of America” by Robert Krulwich, NPR Blogs, April 17, 2013 – “These are the first maps that are trying to paint us the way we actually are.” The Book Stack Andre Aciman, False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory, New York: Picador, 2001 – BUY NOW Salman Akhtar, Immigration and Acculturation: Mourning, Adaptation, and the Next […] Continue reading >

Mar 172013
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for March 2013

From the RSS Feed “De Nimes: The Long Journey of Blue Jeans” by Jenni Avins, Vice, 3/11/2013 – A history of one of America’s most potent symbols. “We Aren’t the World” by Ethan Watters, Pacific Standard, February 25, 2013 – Americans are outliers in more ways than you imagine. “The Decline of Marriage and the Rise of Unwed Mothers: An Economic Mystery” by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, 3/18/2013 The Book Stack Andre Aciman, Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language and Loss, New York: The New Press, 2000 […] Continue reading >

Feb 092013
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for January & February 2013

From the RSS Feed “Are Immigrants Taking Your Job? A Primer,” by Catherine Rampell, New York Times/Economix, February 5, 2013 – Your being here as an immigrant raises the wages of native-born workers, albeit only very slightly… & “No, More Immigration Won’t Make You Poorer (Unless You’re an Immigrant),” by Jordan Weissman, The Atlantic, January 30, 2013 – …but it lowers the wages of your fellow immigrants who preceded you. & “The Easy Problem,” by David Brooks New York Times, January 31, 2013 – And other benefits. “For Amusement […] Continue reading >

Feb 012013
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in February 2013

A nice plethora of Central European events this month. All information comes from event websites or organizers. Updated 2/6/2013. The Balkans: Krebsic Orkestar, 2/1 Friday, February 1, 8:00 p.m. doors and DJ, 9:00 p.m. concert Mississippi Pizza,  3552 N Mississippi Ave., Portland 1 for $7, 2 for $10; 21+ only The 14-piece gypsy brass band the Krebsic Orkestar teams up with DJ E3 for a night of music, dancing, pizza, and beer! Ajde!!! Czech Republic: Jan Švankmajer, Conspirator of Pleasure, 2/1-2/4 Various times from 2/1 to 2/4 – see […] Continue reading >

Dec 152012
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for December 2012

From the RSS Feed “How to Live Without Irony” by Christy Wampole, Opinionator – A New York Times Blog, November 17, 2012, VS. “Sincerity, Not Irony, Is Our Age’s Ethos” by Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, The Atlantic, November 20, 2012 – Irony and sincerity in mortal combat. The Book Stack Elena Gorokhova, A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2010 – A heartfelt, detailed memoir of growing up in the 1960’s Soviet Union. Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, New York: Harper Perennial Modern […] Continue reading >

Dec 052012

It seems there is only so much writing a robotnik writer can do in a month in addition to working full time. Freelancing has pushed American Robotnik on the proverbial back burner. Enjoy these articles I’ve written for (and sold to) Oregon Jewish Life and The Bee this year. More to come in 2013: “Diversity in nursing,” Oregon Jewish Life, November 2012, p. 17 [pdf – article | pdf – full magazine] “Westmoreland coffee shop changes hands…and atmosphere,” The Bee, November 2012, p. 19 [pdf] “Oaks Park hosts Fresh […] Continue reading >

Nov 172012
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for November 2012

From the RSS Feed “My American Lemonade,”, November 15, 2012 – A Bulgarian writes about his immigration struggles. “Last Call” by Tim Heffernan, Washington Monthly, November/December 2012 – America is about to start drinking more. “Can’t a guy just make some friends around here? Maybe.” by Matt Pearce, Kansas City Pitch, November 6, 2012 – If you’ve had a hard time finding and making friends in your new homeland, be comforted in knowing the natives have the same problem, Craigslist notwithstanding. “How Millennials Leaving Their Parents’ Basements Could […] Continue reading >

Oct 252012
Packaged Apple Slices Confound, Tittilate

The day after the second presidential debate I started a post discussing Mitt Romney’s now-infamous binders full of women when, halfway through the first paragraph, I discovered in the snacks basket at my work a package of apple slices (see photo; there are 6 in there). I’ve been in the U.S. for almost ten years now but every now and then a product comes along that manages to elicit the same amount of surprise and befuddlement as when I first visited in 1996. This is how new blog categories are born! […] Continue reading >

Oct 172012
Great Difficulty in Translating Observations

What he refers to as the “stupidity” of the American masses, who are satisfied by the purely material advantages of this new civilization, is exceptionally irritating to the Eastern intellectual. Raised in a country where there was a definite distinction between the “intelligentsia” and the “people,” he looks, above all, for ideas created by the “intelligentsia,” the traditional fermenting element in revolutionary changes. When he meets with a society in which the “intelligentsia,” as it was known in Central or Eastern Europe, does not exist, he has great difficulty […] Continue reading >

Oct 132012
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for October 2012

From the RSS Feed “If You Want More Jobs, You Should Want More Immigrants” by Steve Case, The Atlantic, September 11, 2012 – Read my lips. “How Income Divides Democrats, Republicans, And Independents” by Lam Thuy Vo, NPR Planet Money, October 1, 2012 and “How The Poor, The Middle Class And The Rich Spend Their Money” by Jacob Goldstein and Lam Vo, NPR Planet Money, August 1, 2012 Plus a series of articles at The Atlantic about the Millenial generation: “The Cheapest Generation” by Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissman […] Continue reading >

Sep 152012
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for September 2012

From the RSS Feed “How Books Shaped The American National Identity,” by NPR Staff, NPR, August 14, 2012 – The Library of Congress has published a list of 88 books “that have influenced [American] national identity.” “I, Nephi,” by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, August 13, 2012 – “Mormonism and its meanings.” Topical. The Book Stack Carmen Bugan, “Burying the Typewriter: A Memoir,” New York: Graywolf Press, 2012 – Recollections of a life in the 1980’s Romania | BUY NOW Tyler Cowen, “An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for […] Continue reading >