Notice: This site uses tiny java-scripts to enhance viewing. Please make sure you have scripts enabled.
I write features, articles, and essays for international, regional, and local news outlets including Mongabay.com and Lonely Planet. Previous works once could be found in the now defunct Inside/Outside Southwest as well as the hopefully-only-temporarily-long-term-dormant Mountain Gazette. Additionally, I have consulted for Lonely Planet Television developed an international exhibit for the Beijing Olympic Games and provide various editorial services.
Below you will find excerpts from a few published pieces, with links to the full articles (where available).
- Indonesia 11, Lonely Planet (coming soon)
- Borneo 4, Lonely Planet (coming soon)
- Southeast Asia on a Shoestring 18, Lonely Planet (coming soon)
longform / features / cover articles
How to pack light: tips from a master packer
Lonely Planet (Best of round the world travel)
Packing small is essential for any globe-trotter committed to embracing the chaos of travel.
With a small pack, you can chase down your Japanese train as it unapologetically departs on time. You can squeeze in to (or on top of) the only bus to the next village in India. Or, as we learned, when your scheduled speed boat leaves while you are busy bailing your guide out of jail, small packs will allow you to cram six large Americans into a tiny fishing boat to splash your way to your deserted island bungalow in time to watch the sunset.
Of course, packing involves deeply personal decisions. Everyone has their own ideas of comfort and style. But by following a few simple field-tested tenets of travelling small, you can shed size and weight. It might not always save your trip, but it will save your spine and your sanity.Read more... (external site)
Borneo Rallies to Reverse a Trend of Fire Destruction
Wildfire Magazine (cover story)
"Hello Mister! 1,000 Rupiah."
A small boy stood in my way as I balanced my motorbike on the planks bypassing a large mud hole. I was running late. A dump-truck hauling oil palm seeds plunged into the quagmire, water splashing over its windshield as it whined up the other side. I paid the equivalent of 10 cents and spun my wheels back to the road. I was on my way to teach a short fire class in the tropical rain forest of Borneo but couldn't get there due to flooding.
Although the annual precipitation in this part of Borneo averages between 4 to 5 meters, there are distinct wet and dry seasons. This was, obviously, still the wet season. Historically, the forests and swamps would lock in the rains like a giant sponge to ride out the dry months. Historically, fire was all but unknown. However, with recent widespread increases in land conversion, all of that is changing. Now, fire is a very real concern for those living on the edge of what is left of the forests — a concern with which they are ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal.
The Mountain Gazette
MONDAY: Traffic jam at Margaret Creek fish pass. Thousands of horny humpies fight the current, driven by some primal urge to push upstream against all odds. Gill to tail — they are stacked back to the ocean, waiting hours for the chance to kick a few feet closer to the spawning ground.
We are still unclear as to what signals salmon to swim to fresh water after a year or two in the ocean. Yet they do, as they have done for thousands of generations. They do not always return to the site of their birth, that part is a myth, but many do — compelled to journey upstream by the ticking of their biological clock. Do some decide not to spawn? Concerned about overpopulation, do they choose to live a hedonistically long, childless life roaming the ocean: anadromous anarchists, on the road less traveled? After all, spawning is a one-way journey. The salmon are dying from the moment they start up the path to parenthood. Without eating, some may travel hundreds of miles while their bodies deteriorate. They consume themselves from the inside for the energy to keep moving. Once they find a gravel bar and a suitable mate, they drop their load, and die.
How do they choose their partner while fighting the current and dodging hungry bears? Do they scan the crowd, looking for love, kicking their stride up a notch to catch a promising set of fins? “So ... first time running ... the Margaret Spawn? Me too! ... I’m not worried about time ... I just want ... to finish without walking ... Next year I plan to run Naha Creek ... I hear that’s a fast spawn ... Say, you’re cute ... what’s your name? ... ”
Even without the added stress of bear’s teeth, jagged rocks and waterfalls, it is hard to find a woman to die for.
Dodging A(nother) Bullet
Inside/Outside Magazine (cover story)
In the competition for poster-child of the conservation movement, the condor has a hard time competing with the whale, panda bear or Bengal tiger. With its balding, wrinkly head and tendency to defecate on its own legs, the bird does not have quite the sex appeal of other endangered species. But without a doubt, a condor in flight embodies the successes and struggles that come with returning any species to its rightful place in the ecosystem.
And slowly, the sight is becoming more common, with 141 condors now living in the wild and more potentially on the way in Arizona and California. Not bad for a bird that was placed on the endangered species list in 1967 and found only in captivity as recently as 12 years ago. But the condor’s story is far from over, and their greatest ally in their struggle, the average deer and elk hunter, does not even know they pose a threat to the bird’s survival.
Killing the Creep
Over 4 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year. Most come to take a quick peek into the abyss, snap a few photos and maybe buy a T-shirt. But some come to kill, claiming as many as 70,000 lives a year.
Deep in the recesses of the Inner Canyon, the battles rage. There are no embedded reporters to witness the invasion, and no medals awarded. The combatants travel in small groups in relative obscurity, taking the fight to the enemy invaders. Mostly volunteers on leave from regular jobs, the combatants are fighting for a cause they believe in, seeking no fanfare. Grants and donations finance the effort, and future funding is uncertain. Strange, considering the battle is for the life-blood of the Southwest — WATER — and time is running out.
Stalking the Grand Canyon Buffalo
"Why don't you get back in the truck," I tell my friend surfing on the back bumper.
"Yeah, good idea!" She too is eyeing the buffalo, who is eyeing us.
Although no buffalo have gored anyone at the Grand Canyon, sightings are rare and the beasts are unaccustomed to human contact. As her door slams shut, I glance in her direction quickly. When I look up, the buffalo is gone.
Buffalo may be able to run 30 miles an hour and jump 6-foot fences without touching them, but this total and sudden disappearance is still astounding. We are on a two-track road through Swamp Ridge, in open woodland, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We can see all around us, and into both drainages. I ease the truck to the top of the hill - nothing.
"We both saw it, right?" I ask, suddenly uncertain. She nods.
Thus began my minor obsession with stalking the elusive buffalo of Grand Canyon National Park.
I discovered a fundamental flaw with our society while sitting inside a 1970's pea-green outhouse on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
My crew was tucked safely away behind locked gates where the tourists would be spared our unruly antics. Federal land managers are careful to present the professional image the public expects: crisp starched collar shirts, buffed boots, friendly clean-shaven smiles, stiff uncomfortable hats. The theory is, if you show the public a sharp façade and clean visitor facilities, no-one will notice the eroding trails, archaeological looting, proliferation of invasive plants, or crumbling infrastructure that results from chronic underfunding of our public lands.
The true face of our public lands consists of two week beards, torn t-shirts, battered boots, belches, farts and all.
news / shorter works
Sting operation nets tiger poachers, Mongabay
Child labor and palm oil in Indonesia, Mongabay
Black market manta ray bust in Indonesia, Mongabay
Tiger traffickers busted in Indonesia, Mongabay
How Islam could help save Aceh's forests, Mongabay
Indonesia pledges to protect manta rays, Mongabay
Endangered tiger killed in Sumatra, Mongabay.com
Get the latest at Mongabay
From science journal articles to world exhibitions, I have bludgeoned prose of various states of disrepair into something fit for human consumption.
As part of the Green Olympics commitment, the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed an exhibition of world botanic gardens highlighting the importance of plants to humans. Over 40 gardens from 25 countries submitted general information, from which I was solely responsible for developing engaging, informative, and memorable text.
The text was incorporated into an open air exhibit consisting of 50 panels and multiple interactive displays located across from Olympic stadium.
I spend much of my time editing research papers for submission to scientific journals for both native English and non-native English speakers. All of which have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed SCI-listed journals.