In my new novel, What’s Left, her uncle Dimitri holds a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Stanford University but acknowledges the value of hands-on learning. As he argues with her father-to-be in a passage I cut from the final version:

Maybe you haven’t recognized you already received a Master’s Degree, in part, from your experience in that old rambling apartment across town, back before you even graduated. Your Ph.D. came on the rails under the big city. Most universities teach speculation, which is completely different from knowledge. What they teach often changes from day to day and hour to hour.


You know the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out,” and I want to use it as a nickname for a young adult who shows up around here all too often. When his head’s not stuck up his arse, it’s on the Internet.

Please excuse me, but that’s how it is. For the record, he was an utter failure in college.

In the dialogue I snipped out, Cassia’s uncle Dimitri is espousing a kind of informal intelligence he experienced everywhere in his own upbringing.

Tell us something important you’ve learned outside of a classroom or structured learning environment.

(As a prompt, I could tell you why I’ll never again pitch a trail tent to face the wind – especially if rain’s on the way. Oh, that was a nasty night for a nine-year-old!)


A traditional Greek repast – two Greek salads and a Mythos beer in a restaurant close to Monastiraki, Athens. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In the family, Cassia may have had food like this.

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