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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Blog, Essays, General Poker, Personal, Politics, Travel | 0 comments

Daniel Negreanu’s Romania Now vs. My Romania Then


Nolan Dalla 1990 Bucharest Romania


Daniel Negreanu played in a big poker tournament last week, which was on the Eureka Poker Tour.

Such a occurrence normally wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary.  This is especially true for Daniel — who travels all over the world playing poker and speaking out as the game’s premier ambassador.  The news from Europe probably wouldn’t have caught my attention at all, except for one rather significant fact.

The poker tournament was held in Bucharest, Romania — a fascinating city where Daniel and I share some common bonds and a very different set of roots.  I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that, in contrasting ways, Romania was and shall always be an impressionable part of our lives.  To some degree, that faraway place in Eastern Europe made us into what we are today.

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Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 0 comments

My Drunken Party With Romanian Army Officers


Screenshot 2015-12-21 at 10.09.31 PM

Yours truly with Romanian Army officers, Spring 1990


Writer’s Note:  Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution.  Continuing with a series of articles from my time spent stationed at the United States Embassy in Bucharest, Romania from 1989-1900, what follows is a post-revolution story which occurred a few months after the fall of dictator Nicolea Ceausescu and the end of Communism in Eastern Europe.  READ PREVIOUS EXCERPTS HERE

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Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics | 3 comments

The Great Escape and Bloody Execution of Nicolae Ceausescu




Writer’s Note:  This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution.  This is the first in a serious of articles which recalls my first-hand account of the uprising in Bucharest between December 21-25, 1989.    


Four days after making a dreadful miscalculation and delivering his final rambling speech to a crowd of more than 100,000 stoic sycophants from the grand balcony of the Communist Party Central Committee Building in Bucharest, and while the Romanian nation watched breathlessly on live television, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena would gunned down by a firing squad on Christmas Day.

Now 25 years later, several questions about the Ceausescu’s final days remain unanswered.

How could Ceausescu’s iron fist lose its mighty grip on power so quickly and so completely?  How did his situation manage to deteriorate so badly for him?  He’d ruled his nation as a archetypal cult figure for 24 years.  Yet, his body ended up crumpled against a wall, riddled with bullets fired from a makeshift execution squad made up of Romanian Army paratroopers who were hastily assembled at a military base in the small town of Targoviste, just outside Bucharest.

What happened?

This is the story of what I witnessed in central Bucharest during those days which led to the downfall of Communist rule in Romania.

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Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Blog, Personal | 4 comments

Happy 23rd Anniversary, Marieta Dalla




Today, I’d like to tell you about the most important person in the world to me.  Her name is Marieta.  We were married 23 years ago on this day.

I wonder.  How did the time pass so quickly?  Where did the years go?

I remember the first time Marieta came to my eyes, that unexpected instant of perfect clarity, that fleeting moment of pure bliss.  She was too beautiful, I thought.  I had no shot.  I didn’t stand a chance.

But the stars do align sometimes.  Lightning strikes.

That first date was awkward.  The first kiss even more awkward.  Still, I wouldn’t change a thing, not even for an instant.  Instead, I’d joyously re-live it over and over, again and again, if only I could.  If only I had the power.

These past 23 years haven’t been merely extraordinary.  They’ve been unimaginable.  Were they always easy?  No.  Were there challenges?  Yes.  Finding buried treasure usually requires some serious digging, some personal sacrifice.  But in the end, it’s worth it.

Remember the places we went?  Remember the things we saw and the people we met over the years?  Some remain, and some are gone now.  Remember the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells, and the soft embrace of our hands joined together so many times as we soaked in the rest of the world?

I do.

Those memories remain alive.

Not because of me, but because of you.

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