Monday, February 23, 2015

Lemurs, Chubs and Other Goodies

You guys, I am swamped. Swamped, I say! I'm working on about 11 features for publication over the coming months while still moving along with timely news items. I gotta tell you, if I did not love what I do so very much, I would be completely exhausted.

Okay, I'm kinda exhausted. But it's a good exhausted. The kind you get when you know you're doing great work that matters and makes a difference. There's nothing better!

Anyway, let's get to this week's headlines, starting with two "Extinction Countdown" articles for Scientific American:

Look Out Lemurs: Climate Change Is Taking Your Land

Species Snapshot: Sunda Pangolin [This was a short piece timed to run on World Pangolin Day]

And here are two articles for TakePart:

The Tiny Fish That Is Beating Extinction

China Is Eating Less Shark Fin, but Its Appetite for Another Endangered Ocean Creature Is Growing

On a completely different note, here's an article not by me but quoting me:

Should You File Your Taxes Yourself or Call in a Tax Expert?

That's it for now. Expect lots and lots (and lots?) more over the coming weeks. Follow me on Twitter for the headlines as they happen!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

From the Archives: 'Ziggy' Artist Draws Fight Against Cancer

(Originally published October 12, 2009, on

There are two ways to look at the comic-strip character Ziggy: either as a perpetual loser, or as someone who maintains a positive attitude no matter what life throws his way.

Cartoonist Tom Wilson, Jr., definitely embodies the second viewpoint. Even in the face of terrible tragedy, he is working hard to create positive change in the world.

Wilson's wife, Susan, died nine years ago from breast cancer at the young age of 44. Earlier this year, Wilson recounted the experience in the book Zig-Zagging: Loving Madly, Losing Badly…How Ziggy Saved My Life, a memoir about dealing with his wife's untimely death, her strength and courage in the face of her own cancer, and how the comic strip character created by his father helped to keep him going.

Now, a new chapter has been added: Wilson has announced an ambitious plan to raise up to $1 million to fight cancer through sales of his book. It's a legacy to his wife's memory, and to his attitude toward life.

"You go through the worst possible things in your life and you carry them around with you," says Wilson. "But you have to ask, how can you make something good of this? The book was like that for me. It's a chance to make something positive out of a negative."

Even though he has published close to 75 books of 'Ziggy' cartoons, Wilson didn't set out to create a book about his grief. He started writing a journal in the months after his wife's passing, and "it turned into a book on its own," says Wilson.

"It came from an unexpected place. It was a long process, and the book was the end result. It was cathartic to me, just going through the process."

Shortly after Zig-Zagging's publication, Wilson got a surprise call from Doug Ulman, president of Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG foundation.

"He had read the book and invited me to come down to Austin to talk to their leadership at their offices. Of course, I had to do that, because I've always admired them and what they do."

Wilson traveled to the LIVESTRONG offices this fall, and then threw out an idea: "I've got this book. Is there anything I can do? I want to do more."

The result: Wilson pledged to donate 100% of his Zig-Zagging royalties between November 18, 2009 -- the anniversary of Susan's death -- through January 19, 2010 -- her birthday. "My fondest wish is that we'll raise $1 million for LIVESTRONG," says Wilson.

"One of the things I love about how this has taken place is because I didn't plan it at all," says Wilson. "It's like cartooning: You do your work and send it out there, and you don't know whose life has been touched. It's part of the mystique. You don't know where it will land."

Wilson says he is glad that Zig-Zagging has already touch a number of people's lives. "Readers have sent letters telling me they found something in the book they weren't able to get anywhere else. I'm glad it turned out to be a friend to a lot of people."

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cute (but doomed) lemurs and other heart-wrenching stories

Happy Presidents' Day! This week's articles have absolutely nothing to do with stovepipe hats or cherry trees, but they are all worth your time -- probably more so than the holiday mattress sale at your friendly neighborhood retailer.

This was actually a light week for publications, with just three news articles hitting the interwebs. It wasn't a light work week, though. I have about a dozen features (plus more news articles) in various stages of completion. You can expect a whole heck of a lot of articles coming your way in March.

Until then, though, here's some holiday reading for you -- two articles for Scientific American and one for TakePart:

Gorgeous Blue-Eyed Lemur Faces Extinction in 11 Years

Critically Endangered Tarantula Links India and Sri Lanka

Saving Africa's Elephants--In the United States

That's it for today. You may now resume your presidential deal-shopping. More next week!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tigers and other ferocious felines

Happy Monday, folks. I've got a pretty wide-ranging list of stories for you this week, so settle in.

First up, my two "Extinction Countdown" posts for Scientific American:

Tiger Populations in Nepal Can’t Grow without More Food and Space

Endangered Species and the Global Society: A Discussion with 360 Magazine [This is actually a Storify of a Twitter conversation I had with the magazine's editors and readers.]

Next, two new wildlife/poaching articles for TakePart:

Australia’s Secret Weapon to Kill Millions of Feral Cats and Save Endangered Marsupials

This Rare Philippine Turtle Is Being Driven to Extinction by Pet Owners

Finally this week, my first article for IEEE-USA InSight, the successor magazine to Today's Engineer, to which I have been contributing since 2007:

Pop Goes the Engineer

More next Monday!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Birds, Apes, Cats and Otters

"They're killing me for my what????"
The end of January was all wildlife, all the time.

Well, that's what you'd think based on the published headlines. I worked on several other things that won't see publication for a while yet. I'm not complaining, though. These four articles all cover important topics and they all did very well in terms of readership.

First up, two articles for TakePart:

This Rare Bird is Worth More than Ivory to Poachers

It's Open Season on the Impossibly Cute River Otter

And here are two more articles for Scientific American:

Rescued Baby Orangutan Sheds Light on Cruel, Illegal Pet Trade

Rarely Seen Saharan Cheetah Revealed in Incredible Photos

That's it for this week. Look for another headline list in seven days!