A Lucrative Technical School or a Four-Year College Degree?

“The Ideologies that killed more than 100 million people last century are being praised at our universities today.” – Turning Point USA

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a skilled technician to fix anything. Everything is disposable – something breaks down, let’s buy a new one. There are fewer and fewer technical and trade schools and, even if there were more, American students are not interested in learning a trade. They have been conditioned by society and by their parents that, unless they get a four-year college degree, anything else is not worth their effort and time. Continue reading

A Visit to the Trump International Hotel in D.C.

Old Post Office and Clock Tower
Photo: Ileana Johnson
I had made mental plans to visit Trump International Hotel in D.C. for months. I was curious to see the Christmas decorations and especially the remodeling which kept the uber-lib D.C. residents up in arms – they hated the idea of a President who loved America and especially hated President Trump. Continue reading

Collectivism and Social Engineering

Rope Street, Brasov Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
A friend asked me recently if I found any similarities between the collectivist Home Owners Association (HOA) in the U.S. and living in communist Romania in cinder block apartments the size of the average hotel room. We did have a different HOA in these reinforced concrete high rises, the Residents’ Association (Asociatia Locatarilor). Its governing board was chosen from the least outspoken residents who sometimes doubled as informers to the Security Police, reporting on the comings and goings of the residents and on their political statements made accidentally in ordinary conversations with neighbors. Continue reading

Through the Fog of Time

My childhood creek
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
As we age, humans tend to mellow out and nothing that had previously been that important matters anymore in the grand scheme of things. All struggles, frustrations, successes, victories, defeats, losses, and gains, dissipate in the fog of time. Regrets and memories of opportunities lost, of physical pain, of mental anguish and frustration diminish, replaced by arthritis, loneliness, and loss of loved ones. The struggle is still there for billions of others, very real and painful, but it seems almost irrelevant to us. Continue reading

United Nations Mandates “Sustainable Tourism”


Venice, Dodge’s Palace Photo: Ileana Johnson 2016
During my twenty-two visits to Venice, I saw and heard the frustration and disdain locals have for tourists. We were not just an imposition in their daily lives, crowding their beloved city, their favorite restaurants, water buses, museums, operas, blocking their narrow alleys, their canals, and often entrances to their apartments. We caused wakes with our huge cruise ships and further destruction to their already fragile buildings, infrastructure, and eco-system. Continue reading

Christmas, the Season of Faith, Family, and Charity

Christmas caroling in Romania, 1841 Photo: Wikipedia
Christmas was my Dad bringing home proudly a scraggly fir with sparse branches – fragrant with the smell of winter, tiny icicles hanging from the branches, miniature crystal daggers, melting on my mom’s well-scrubbed parquet floor. I never knew nor asked how he could afford it from his $70 a month salary that barely covered the communist subsidized rent, utilities, and food. No matter how bare the branches of my Christmas tree were, it was magical to me. Continue reading

What’s in Packaged Food?


Organic food Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
Americans’ collective waist has been inching up every year and blood pressure increased thanks in part to our sedentary lifestyles and to the amount of sugar and salt in all food. For convenience and to save time, we often eat fast food and restaurant rich foods and walk much less than our slender European counterparts. Portion size is also much larger than we need. Continue reading

Twenty More Years of Socialism and No Good-Byes

Ploiesti water fountain I drank from as a child (taken in 2012)
When I left Romania after twenty years of frugal subsistence and tyranny under Ceausescu’s communist regime, I thought the nightmare was over, I was moving to America, the land of freedom and opportunity, and everything would be all right. All I had to do is study and educate myself as fast as I could. Continue reading

With Gratitude and Honor

Apuseni Mountains Photo: Wikipedia
Gratitude and honor are remarkable character traits that I’ve always searched for in my fellow humans. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found them in a millennial! It was not a millennial born and raised in this country but in Romania, in the beautiful Apuseni Mountains of western Transylvania. Continue reading