Freelance Portfolio: Human & Humor

How Tiny Ocean Microorganisms Could Kill Your Plastic Fork

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.

Acid Rain Isn’t Always What You Think It Is

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.

Why the 4468 Mallard Is Such a Badass Train

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.

Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me

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.

Do Happy Lights Really Work for Seasonal Depression?

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.

Acid Rain Isn’t Always What You Think It Is

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.

Bioreactors to the Rescue in Polluted California Wetlands

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.

CBD and Massage: What’s Not to Love?

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.

Cannabis in the Cruz: Black Market Highs and Lows

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.

The gravity-bending story of NASA’s ingenious space pen

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.

CBD: Nature’s Boon or Boondoggle?

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.)

Love Is a Noise in My Head

My temporary infatuation with the voice in a meditation app. Silly, silly boy. Published in July 2018 on The Bold Italic.

The Thief of Time Prowls the Used Record Store

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.

Workit Health Uses an Airstream Mobile Clinic to Aid Addiction Recovery

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.

Airstreams—and Photography—Are in His Blood

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.

A Cold Look

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.

A Finely Tuned Airstream Is Forever

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.

This Airstream Has Fleas (and Vintage Ones at That)

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.

The Photography of Kennan Ward: A Lens In the Wild

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.

This Cigar Wrapper Is Made of Aluminum

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.

This Austin Airstream Sounds as Good as It Looks

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.

Reflecting His Stance in Life

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.

Museum on the Move

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.

Riveting

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.

Pour Me a Cold, Shiny Trailer

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.

Regret

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.

Cristela: A Young Comedian Moving at the Speed of Laughter

A profile piece of the star of a new ABC sitcom, written for Zap2It, an online television listing and show review. Published October, 2014.

New Hope from Dope

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.

Learning Curves, Farming Angles

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.

Big Man in Tiny Houses

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.

My Medium Collection

A sheaf of short essays, on subjects like shoplifting, Mark Twain tattoos, naked landlord tormenting and the like. Published on Medium.

Winding Down

A profile of an aged clockmaker and his craft, the appreciation for which is fading in our digital age. Published in February 2014 in The Magazine on Medium.

The Classiest Car Haulers Come in Silver

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.

Big Time

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.

Inherited Airstreams (You Get a Lot More Than Keys)

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.

Reading, a Love Story

The heroin of books. Reading: once you’ve had a taste, you’re hungry forever. Published in October 2013 on Writer Unboxed.

This Trade Wind Blows the Blues Away

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.

Sea Hunt, Microscopic Version

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.

This Isn’t Rocket Science (but What Is It?)

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.

Megaliths by a Polymath

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.

Willy Wonka, M.D.

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.

The Word on Golf

An insightful interview with golf-instructing legend Laird Small. Published in the 2013 edition of GuestLife Monterey Bay magazine.

Divine Dining on Wheels, Euro-Style

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.

Mary Andersen, Web Maven

Here’s my profile of a blogger’s blogger, one of the many members of the Santa Cruz, CA Community Media Lab. Published in the November 14, 2012 edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.

Preserving the Dead

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.

Airstream Vice: Less Naughty, More Nice

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.

Digging Into Dickens

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.

Stupid People (Halloween) Tricks

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.

The Isle of Kites

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.

Airstreams at Work

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.

Mixing Moonshine with Your Airstream

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.

Smoothing Out the Wrinkles in Classic Aluminum

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.

Pancakes to Go

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.

Trailers for Sale or Rent

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.

Marty’s Violin

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.

Flight Lessons

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.

The Unkindest Cut

What could be more fun than reading about my vasectomy? (But it’s funny, honest.) Published in You & Me magazine, August 2009.

Crime Pays

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.

All that Jazz (and Airstreams too)

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.

Debbie Israel Takes Flight

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.

The Soul of Charcoal

Good grilling starts with your attitude, according to the lads at Blackboard Catering. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2009.

Grow Food Parties plant sustaining seeds

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

Alladin Nursery: Blossoming at 90

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

Rabbinical Rock

Rock Shabbat tilts the temple for Friday night service at Santa Cruz’s Temple Beth El. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2009

For the Dunphy Brothers, Life’s a Kick

Profile of two brothers, both martial arts experts, whose pursuits have taken somewhat divergent paths. Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2009

There’s Magic in the Music

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

The American Engine

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

Still Winning at 90 Years Young

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.

Life and Death in the Emergency Room

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.

Tribes Casebook and Q&A<

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.

Marshal South and Wally Byam: Parallel Roads, Different Destinations

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.

Fading Father, Falling Son

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.

The Bully and his Booty

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.

Another eBay Treasure

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.

Airstream Restorers

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.

Man vs. Rat

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.

If You Are What You Eat, Then I’m a Cheeseburger in Paradise

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.

Barking Dogs and Me, A Loud Story

A piece about the pestilential persecution of my ears by neighborhood dogs, published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel in October, 2003.

A Period Piece with Fresh Panache

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.

The Einsteins Meet the Boxing Nun

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.

Requiem for Buddha

Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 2001.

Passages

Published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2001; Honorable Mention, Writer’s Digest 2001 Personal Essay Contest.

Labor Day

Published in SV, the magazine of the San Jose Mercury News, September, 2000.

All Things Bright and Shiny

Published in SV;June 2000.

Desert Planet

Published in SV; January 2000.

Transcendental Trash

Published in SV; August 1999.

A Bird on the Brain

Published in West, a former magazine of the San Jose Mercury News, February 1998.

Last Glove

Published in the Santa Cruz Good Times.

Embarrassment of Riches

Published in SV, November, 1999

Tattle Telecommutant

Published in the Santa Cruz Metro.

Obsessions, Compulsions, and Other Pastimes

Published in the Santa Cruz Good Times

Josepha

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.)

Evil Oils

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.