Auld lang syne

That they aren’t forgot. These lovely people.

This post is a humble tribute to the many night spent on Kamagersky Pereuluk, Moscow, hacking away at the ills of the world, making merry, making the most of it.

*** Looking to donate to the 2016 Movember campaign, raising funds and awareness for men’s health? Head over here and give all you can — help stop men dying too young. 


A twisted flag – thoughts on the eve of Election 2016

Bull in a Gina Shop

This has been the first election I’ve been party to in country since college. Our governance system seems to function on obstructionism. What a long, streaky mess of lies, backtracking and bravado. I can’t wait for it to be over; at the same time wonder if it will be over.

The country is fractured. Trump isn’t going to walk away. He doesn’t seem like that kind of gina-shop bull. He’ll stomp around and grunt for a while, grinding shards of broken communities into the foundation of this nation, getting his nose ring caught on shelves holding nasty tweets.

Of course, presuming he loses. Lord knows what’ll happen if he wins. As a friend said earlier today, “I feel like I should be buying hard alcohol and shotgun shells on the way home.” I’m told expedited citizenship to New Brunswick is on offer…but that would be giving up. Nobody likes a quitter. If he loses, someone has to stick around to witness the Trump Revolution—Making ‘Murica Great Again.

Shaking the world

I watched the “Reds” on the flight back from Russia, a film of John Reed’s seminal book, “Ten days that shook the world“.  That’s what I imagine it like here if Trump wins. A lot of shouting, firing squads f0r “established power”, enthusiasm but too many plans pulling “greatness” in the “wrong” direction. Gather all the poorly educated of the country, give them a wildly obtuse goal tinged with hope, glory and economic stability. The only thing that would stop them is the slow realization that they are all finding themselves in ever smaller factions of disagreeable cusses. “Spinning in ever smaller concentric circles until you crawl up your own ass,” touches on the idea. Expression courtesy of Craig Reynolds.

It seems the only character we should be judging politicians on these days is whether they can “work across the aisle.” My way or the highway gets us nowhere. I’m pretty chuffed to have recently received a letter (see below) from a man who knows this better than most. The US Ambassador to Russia, John Tefft, has a tough job, especially now, but he took time out to hang with our humble sister city delegation and thanked us for our efforts in building understanding across a historically vast international aisle.

US-Russia relations are strained, to put it lightly, and probably will be for a while. The domestic chasm between Democrat and Republican parties has some similarities. And for the same reason the Burlington Yaroslavl Sister City Program exists, to highlight and build people-to-people relations, so should our government work together, realizing our grassroots connections and common humanity rather than our illusive, divided political lines.

*Casually steps off soap box and “accidentally” drops a crisp, unfolded, unclassified piece of paper…

Alex Bunten-thank you from ambassador.jpg

*** Looking to donate to the 2016 Movember campaign, raising funds and awareness for men’s health? Go here and give all you can — help stop men dying too young. 

Photos, Travel

Russian Roulette… you’ll never believe what happened next!


Blatant click bait. Sorry. Not really. You should know better.

Well, now that you’re here, you might as well have a gander at the wares. It’s all for Movember. A post everyday for the month. Consider a dollar per post! That’s a fair deal.  It’s more work than you think! Plus growing a super tash and working to raise awareness about important men’s health issues? Certainly worth a dollar a day. 

Anyway, I was recently back in Mother Rus as part of a Burlington Yaroslavl Sister City delegation. A lot of the photos and info from my recent trip that trip can be found on the our Facebook page.

As a short Sunday evening post, I thought I’d share with you a few favorites from my own amateur efforts.

The captions have a touch of info about each. Enjoy!

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Raw photo essay of November 2014

It’s hard to explain or relate my life in Russia. So much so it often feels like another life or like I’m reading a vivid pop-up book with a clumsy plot. Open a page and there I am.

Five years… People spend that long in NYC and call themselves New Yorkers. So I was a Moscovite? Hardly. In Vermont we have a saying, “Can’t put a kitten in the oven and call it a cupcake.” By this superior logic, just as much as I don’t quality for true Vermontership—seventh generation—I also didn’t qualify for Moscovite status. Sidenote: Steven Seagal accepted Russian citizenship. Wow. What a world.

The intricacies of Russian life, leisure and the pursuit of happiness are for another post. While I stew on that slow burning pot of mental borscht, here is a page of the pop-up book ala November 2014—Russia, Spain, Vermont.

***I didn’t want to stay up late again and agonize over verbiage, but here we are again at 11 p.m. and it’s all hacked together. Rough. Grr. So be it. So be it. Sleep.

**** Looking to donate to my Movember campaign, raising funds and awareness for men’s health? Go here and give all you can to help stop men dying too young. 


Beardy boy on Red Square with hokey helmet. 



Then it was gone—the beard and smoking—for the first of the month. 


Ya gotta work hard to make the mo grow…just like those cacti. I had those things for YEARS!


I used to feed the birds on my window next to my desk. This was a friendly one.


I worked other places, too (freelance editing, private students, IELTS Examining, Academic Writing Center, etc), but the two above were the bread and borscht winners.



I rode my bike everywhere. She was called the Moscow Mule. This is me in the elevator of my building. Yes, I’m taking another selfie. Sue me.

I biked to work most days. Here’s a video of a particularly nice part of the commute along the Moscow River.




I’d write fridge poetry when the moment struck. I was proud of this one.


I would bike around and take pictures of stuff…like bikes.


The sky looked like this sometimes and I questioned biking…

Then these two invited a big group of friends from the Eramus Mundus Association to Alicante, Spain. Good people. Fun times. (Luca and Charlie got married the next year in the same town. I wish I saw them all more often.)

Everything went pear-shaped when my brother called to say dad didn’t wake up. This was probably the last picture before I got that call at about 11 p.m.


Dark times…


Headed home.


Built dad a cremation casket and said our goodbyes.



And on went the circle of life with little Phoebe in the world, my brother’s second daughter.


November 2014


Photos, Travel

Yaroslavl, Russia



Soviet answer to the pink Cadillac?

Soviet answer to the pink Cadillac?


Photos, Travel

Samara, Russia



Plane over the Volga

Plane over the Volga



icon_13634Thank you Dr Simon Cox for the nomination. It was a hoot. To the betterment of others!

Also, big thanks to Mr Cliffe and Ms Berkhane for the filming/soaking.

I’d like to pass the buck onto my two brothers, Will and Craig Bunten, and the one and only, Ben Piper.

Don’t spare the ice and don’t spare the cash for your chosen charity!

I’ll follow in my father’s footsteps and give to a cancer charity.



Day in the Life #1

meh.ro9131-455x692They said it was 700 rubles ($20) and I’d get two washes.  With all parties in agreement, Masha was beckoned.

Masha had a mean set of bangs – bi-colored and hanging around her left ear, but high and tight on the other side. She was wearing a black Mickey Mouse t-shirt with pudgy little middle fingers instead of eyes. On account of her roly-poly dimensions, Mickey seemed even more intent on insulting.  The desk in front of the mirror was a mess of dust, hair, and bottles of ‘Blade Lube.’

I stumbled through her question about what I want by saying, “I don’t speak Russian well, especially about hair.” You’d think I’d have mastered this gambit by now, but I enjoy the dissociation from my own vanity.  It’s liberating.

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