Freelance Portfolio: Human & Humor
I wrote this Popular Mechanics piece about Newlight, an interesting company that “harvests” a plastic-like but organic material, PHB, from microorganisms that consume methane and CO2 and produce the polymer. The material can be shaped into all kinds of things, from straws to sunglasses, and it degrades naturally in the ocean without harm. Their production processes (and every single product path) are all recorded in a blockchain, and it’s all carbon-negative. Published in May 2021 on Popular Mechanics magazine.
Woodstock it wasn’t. But they did drop LSD from the sky (with predictable results). My addle-brained account of an infamous 1970 Southern California “Christmas Happening” concert. Published by An Idea on Medium, January 2021.
The speed record for the world’s fastest steam train is held by the Mallard. Set in 1938, at 126mph. Still the record today—that’s steaming. Published in September 2020 on Popular Mechanics magazine.
What better time to spill on death than a time of global terror. (Yes, I’m a riot at parties.) Some personal reflections on the cruelties of the passings of friends, and examples of how death works as a plot and revelation factor in literature. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in March 2020.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been blasting my face with a light therapy box, to treat my winter blues. Does it work? Hah, you’ll have to read it to know. Published in January 2020 on The Bold Italic.
Woodstock it wasn’t. But they did drop LSD from the sky (with predictable results). My addle-brained account of an infamous 1970 Southern California “Christmas Happening” concert. Published in October 2019 in Bluntly Magazine.
California’s coastal wetlands are threatened by polluting farming runoff. Here’s an experimental means to relieve that pollution that shows great promise. Published in the coastal science magazine Hakai in September 2019.
I brave the outer reaches of science, myth and “No, I don’t use bongs anymore” to arrive at the glories of a CBD massage. Published in September 2019 in Bluntly Magazine.
Legalization will bring joy, light and peace in the valley, right? Not quite. This piece looks at pot legalization in Santa Cruz County, CA from the perspective of the licensers, the cops, the dispensaries and the growers, both legal and not. Published in June 2019 on 420WindyCity, a new site that covers all things cannabis.
A pen that writes upside down, underwater, in extreme heat and cold? And that’s not the best of it: it writes in outer space too! A fun piece on the Fisher Space Pen, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Best of all, WIRED used a photo of my own Space Pen in the article. The gravity of that struck me. Published in February 2019 in Wired UK.
Now that it seems like you can get CDB-dusted stationery or CDB-infused fountain pen ink (CBD shoelaces next), it might be good to try to separate some of the hype from the hemp. My January 2019 piece in a new international magazine, The Edition, attempts to do that. (I didn’t attempt too hard because I was relaxing on my CBD pillow.)
My temporary infatuation with the voice in a meditation app. Silly, silly boy. Published in July 2018 on The Bold Italic.
Some memorable (and some memorably unsavory) experiences working the night shift in a Santa Cruz, CA used record store in the early 1980s. Published in September 2017 by the Bacopa Literary Review 2017 newsletter.
A company helping addicts recover from addiction transformed an Airstream into a mobile clinic and is getting good results. Published in September 2017 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter.
A through-the-lens look at the most distinguished family of photographers in Airstream history. Showcases the newer work of Randy Miller, son of Ardean Miller, who took Airstream’s most iconic photos in the ’60s and ’70s. Randy’s work ain’t half-bad either. Published in the Summer 2016 edition of Airstream Life magazine. (c) 2016 Airstream Life, published with permission.
This is one (literally) cool camera. The SeeStar open-source research camera, here deployed in the frigid depths of McMurdo Sound. And in many deep and shallow waters to come. Published in the Summer 2016 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
Two tales of Airstreams transformed into studios, both distinct, both dynamic: one a recording/broadcasting studio to teach disadvantaged girls in New York, the other a “media lab” in California. Published in the Spring 2016 edition of Airstream Life magazine. (c) 2016 Airstream Life, published with permission.
An “On the Road” saga that takes a vintage Wisconsin Airstream to a Brooklyn, NY flea market—after a fancy face-lift. Vintage befits vintage: now it’s a vintage goods boutique. Published in July 2015 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter.
A lifelong adventure photographer goes from film to digital to video (and a million photographs in between)—my Forbes piece on his life behind the lens. Published in June 2015 on Forbes.
Well, they’re shaped like cigars, so why not smoke in them? Two Michigan brothers make a mobile-cigar event wagon from a vintage Airstream, and it’s smokin’! Published in June 2015 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter.
The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes all things Austin with a shiny vintage Airstream. Published in May 2015 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter.
Three-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion Jordan Gross retires to the good life of Airstream travel. And maybe tackling a little sports reporting on the side. Published in the Spring 2015 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
History with wheels: a 1954 Airstream trailer transformed into a mobile museum by students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Published in April 2015 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter.
Betty Reid Soskin, longtime blogger, civil-rights activist and at 93, the oldest full-time ranger in the national park service. Oh, she gives speeches too. Wow. Published in the Spring 2015 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
A look at Greg Medow’s Bar Car, an impossibly polished vintage Airstream transformed into a spiffy mobile bar serving the San Francisco Bay area. Published in February 2015 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter.
An essay that reflects back on my first love, who disappeared a few years after high school, lost on a wild river in Colombia. First-prize winner in the 2014 Past Loves story contest.
A profile piece of the star of a new ABC sitcom, written for Zap2It, an online television listing and show review. Published October, 2014.
A look at the long challenges the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies has had in trying to get government approval to test treatment for soldiers with PTSD using marijuana. Published in the Fall 2014 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
A profile of Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics, the owner of the only commercial coffee farm in the continental U.S. Ruskey’s sustainable farm is producing a host of exotic fruits thought impossible to grow in this country. Published in the Summer 2014 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
A profile of Jay Shafer, a leader in the Small House movement and a designer of small, efficient and beautiful homes. Published in the Spring 2014 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
A sheaf of short essays, on subjects like shoplifting, Mark Twain tattoos, naked landlord tormenting and the like. Published on Medium.
A detailed look at an amazing transformation of a vintage Airstream into a hauler and showroom for luxury vehicles. Published in the Winter 2014 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
The ongoing (and extraordinary) story of the building of a giant clock—courtesy of the Long Now Foundation—intended to keep time for 10,000 years. Published in the Winter 2013 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
Moving the Airstreams along in time, from grandpa to dad to son—a piece about family histories seen through the windows of the Silver Bullets. Published in the Fall 2013 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
The heroin of books. Reading: once you’ve had a taste, you’re hungry forever. Published in October 2013 on Writer Unboxed.
Robert Whitall is on a mission from God—or at least from Airstream. He’s been traveling to blue festivals for years, and using his trailer as the mobile publishing center for his Big City Rhythm and Blues magazine. Published in the Fall 2013 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
Tiny things, big impact. A short piece on how those teensy-weensy ocean phytoplankton have more than a little to do with our breathing. Give them more respect (and care), the little critters. Published in the Fall 2013 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
Dr. Edward Tufte is famed for his work with using data and images to truly deliver high-resolution information without clutter and distraction. But did you know he designs and builds gigantic, arresting sculptures (“megaliths”), one of which is a truly original take on an Airstream? Published in the Summer 2013 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
A peek at the mad sculptural genius of Dr. Edward Tufte, who continues to pursue data purity as a vocation, but can’t help but build awesome works of inventive art on the side. Published in the Summer 2013 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
A brief (but still sweet) look at the history of chocolate, from a bitter brew to bourbon-laden bounty. Published in the Winter 2013 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
An insightful interview with golf-instructing legend Laird Small. Published in the 2013 edition of GuestLife Monterey Bay magazine.
A close peek (interior and out) of the sophisticated process and the results of European conversions of Airstreams into silver-polished mobile advertisements, dining cars and presentation centers for heavy hitters like Veuve Clicquot. Published in the Winter 2012 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
Thirty years of the Dead: that’s more than just a lot of music (though they’re still going through the music). It’s a vast collection of artwork, letters, concert posters, crazed bits of psychedelia and some indescribable oddities. And now that trove has been collected in an archive at the University of California at Santa Cruz. A short look, published in the Fall 2012 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
Why camp in your trailer when you can use it as a full bar, espresso operation, pot-prescription exam room and more? Published in the Summer, 2012 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
A quickie in honor of Charles Dickens’s 200th b-day. Even an old English major like me had to furrow my brows to parse this one, but it’s worth it. Published in the Summer 2012 edition of The American Scholar magazine.
Mom, don’t read this article of how your son used to terrorize the neighborhood on Halloween. I’ve reformed, I promise. Published in October (of course) on Squidoo.
A breezy look at the Big Wind Kite Factory, which has been making custom kites—and teaching kids how to fly them—for more than 30 years on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Published in the June/July 2011 issue of Hana Hou, the in-flight magazine of Hawaiian Airlines.
A round-up piece of various business enterprises run out of Airstream trailers. I wrote the Harveys “seatbags,” Shasta Tourism and Aha Moments pieces. Published in the Winter 2010 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
What makes a wedding all the more shiny (and romantic too)? Having your Airstream as its centerpiece, along with a cooperative full-moon night. Published in the Fall 2010 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
Profile of a couple who innocently bought a new Airstream trailer, plunging them down the fateful path of Airstream infatuation: they now own—and are refurbishing—nine vintage Airstreams, including some cool collectibles. Published in the Fall 2010 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
Airstream Life article on modern miracle: organic pancake mix in a can. Next thing you know, they’ll give away plastic toys at burger joints. Published in the Summer 2010 edition of Airstream Life magazine.
Airstreams—restored vintage trailers or spankin’ new—are now available for rent from individual owners, some even with towing privileges for the renters. See some beautiful restorations and learn about the Airstream rental world. Published in Airstream Life magazine, Spring 2010 edition.
A short essay on a desert setting’s magic soothing the seethings of camping antagonism. Winner of the “adult entry” category of the National Steinbeck Center’s “What’s Your Story” contest. Published in February 2010.
Being the goggled-eyed witness to a fledgling swallow’s first flight (and everything leading up to blastoff, after being the happy (?) host to the swallow’s parents in my garage. Published in The Ultimate Bird Lover anthology, January 2010.
What could be more fun than reading about my vasectomy? (But it’s funny, honest.) Published in You & Me magazine, August 2009.
What do you do with your youthful indiscretion? Sell it! A story about a story about shoplifting, good enough for second place in the Writer’s Market 2010 Freelance Success Stories contest.
A profile of jazz musician and Airstream aficionado Teresa Doyle, who fills the air of her Prince Edward Island artists’ retreat with music (and fills the fields with Airstreams). Published in Airstream Life magazine, Summer 2009.
Think you’ve got a commute? Debbie Israel commuted five years, twice a week, from Houston and Santa Cruz to a Los Angeles rabbinical school to become a rabbi. She made it. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2009.
Good grilling starts with your attitude, according to the lads at Blackboard Catering. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2009.
Harvesting volunteer labor, Grow Food Party crews create instant gardens—and a network of sustainability and friendship—in Santa Cruz backyards. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2009
Earthquakes, floods and fires—nothing stops the progress of one of Santa Cruz County’s most venerable nurseries. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2009
Rock Shabbat tilts the temple for Friday night service at Santa Cruz’s Temple Beth El. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2009
Profile of two brothers, both martial arts experts, whose pursuits have taken somewhat divergent paths. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2009
A St. Paddy’s day profile of Mary Mc Laughlin, Santa Cruz, CA–based singer and teacher of Gaelic choir and Celtic music. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2009
Silver (2nd Place) winner of the 2009 Best Travel Writing Solas Awards in the “Travel and Transformation” category, sponsored by Traveler’s Tales. A stab at capturing the essential Americanness of hitting the open road. Published February, 2009
A inspiration at 90: a profile of Ernie Rideout, Santa Cruz sailor and raconteur, having just won another National-level sailing race, and showing no sign of slowing down. Published in Sailing magazine, December 2008.
An article on a harrowing day spent with my elderly father in the emergency room. Luckily, we both got out alive (though others weren’t so lucky). Published by You and Me magazine, December 2008.
I’m a member of Seth Godin’s Tribes, a (to this point) closed social network centered around his concepts of tribes, as detailed in his new book, which examines associated notions of leadership and viral ideas in tribe-building. Four of my “case studies” were accepted for Godin’s Tribes Casebook. The casebook is a compilation of various Tribes members’ explorations of what tribes are all about, how they begin, work, and don’t work. My pieces can be found on page 15, 58, 60 and 61. The Q&A explores, though a series of related and evolving questions and answers, concrete examples of tribal origins, communications, challenges, business applications and future-focused discussions on changing the nature of business through tribal principles. I contributed several questions, answers, and was an editor for the entire book. Below is a video that will give you a sense of what the Q&A is all about.
Profiles the convergence and divergence in the pursuit, achievement and defeat of dreams in the lives of Marshal South, an artist, writer and self-styled desert hermit, and Wally Byam, the inventor of the Airstream. Published in Airstream Life, Fall 2008.
An effort to peer into the gaps, distances and bridges of understanding and emotion between my father and me, filtered though the prism of his Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April, 2006. Fourth-place winner in Writer’s Digest 74th annual writing competition, in the Inspirational category.
An account of the infamous pirate Bully Hayes and the potential of his stolen riches having been buried for over a century on the Micronesian island of Kosrae. Published in Treasure Cache, the 2006 annual digest of Lost Treasure magazine.
The perils of eBay shopping, where with a click you can buy an Airstream trailer–sight unseen–and have its antique aluminum amazements delivered to your driveway from hundreds of miles away. Published in the Summer 2004 issue of Airstream Life magazine.
A condensed version of this profile of three Airstream restorers–whose work sometimes results in exotic trailer reworkings upwards of $100,000–was published in Airstream Life’s Summer issue, 2004.
A grisly account of a pitched battle between a flustered homeowner and a crafty rat (and nobody wins). Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, June, 2004.
The perils and pleasures (?) of gobbling a 1,200 calorie fast-food burger after 20 years of abstinence. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, March, 2004.
An affectionate look at the Airstream trailer, published online at things magazine; print publication in Fall 2003.
Safe Computing: How to Protect Your Computer, Your Body, Your Data, Your Money and Your Privacy in the Information Age
An informative (try and overlook my self-congratulation) how-to book on dealing with viruses, hackers, Internet fraud, ergonomic issues, data loss and many other computing concerns. 200 pages with shareware CD for Mac and Windows.
Thrilling video documentary on harrowing encounter for the Einsteins. Excuse the video fidelity—I did it with a digital camera. Might load slowly on a dial-up.
Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 2001.
Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2001; Honorable Mention, Writer’s Digest 2001 Personal Essay Contest.
Published in SV, the magazine of the San Jose Mercury News, September, 2000.
Published in SV;June 2000.
Published in SV; January 2000.
Published in SV; August 1999.
Published in West, a former magazine of the San Jose Mercury News, February 1998.
Published in the Santa Cruz Good Times.
Published in SV, November, 1999
Published in the Santa Cruz Metro.
Published in the Santa Cruz Good Times
An .mp3 file of fair Alice reading a little piece of mine on a local Santa Cruz radio station. (Depending on bandwidth and how your browser is configured, it should stream, so that playback is immediate.)
Alice once again mouthing off on the radio, reciting a story I wrote about our recent Christmas debacle. A mouthful, but still less than 3MB.