Nonlegal Journalism

People who aren’t lawyers are interesting too! Here’s some of the work I’ve done on urban planning, finance, health and wellness, ballot initiatives, manga (Japanese comics) and alumni magazine topics.

  • With a Grain of Salt,” August 2013, Planning magazine
    San Diego County’s Water Authority is making a big bet on desalination of ocean water using reverse osmosis technology. Though RO desalination technology is proven, it’s pricey compared to conventional water. This article for the American Planning Association’s member magazine explains why the Authority believes it’s worthwhile, going into finances, availability constraints and the water rights issues that plague the western United States.
  • Informative Choice” and “Forbes’ Field,” July 2013, Carnegie Mellon Today
    Two briefs for Carnegie Mellon’s alumni magazine. The first concerns an award for the CIO of Alcoa, an alum; the second is about Carnegie Mellon graduates named to the Forbes magazine 30 Under 30, focusing on a “social entrepreneur” trying to bring affordable electricity to Haiti.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance 101,” May 2013,
    A consumer guide to long-term care insurance plans and options, written for a personal finance website.
  • The Mortgage Expert Who Almost Couldn’t Get a House,” April 2013,
    This is a personal essay with a title I think is a bit misleading–I am not a mortgage expert, and the essay is really about the reasons the consumer mortgage lending system makes it difficult to “shop around” for a mortgage. In it, I draw heavily on my experience writing a blog for predatory lending lawyers.
  • Teeny Tiny,” April 2013, Carnegie Mellon Today
    A longer alumni magazine article on a group of grad students in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, who took first place in a nanodevice design competition at Sandia National Laboratories.
  • Optimized,” April 2013, Carnegie Mellon Today
    A brief for my alumni magazine on an award for a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business.
  • Security Force,” January 2013, Carnegie Mellon Today
    An alumni magazine brief about a new role for national security expert and Carnegie Mellon professor Kiron Skinner: national security policy advisor to the university.
  • Socially Acceptable,” January 2013, Carnegie Mellon Today
    A short piece about an honor for a Carnegie Mellon University researcher working on solving the intractable problem of antibiotic resistance.
  • Early Returns,” January 2013, Carnegie Mellon Today
    A short alumni magazine article about awards to young Carnegie Mellon faculty and graduates.
  • Defensive,” July 2012, Carnegie Mellon Today
    This very short alumni magazine piece is about an award to Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley assistant professor Patrick Tague, who researches real-time defenses against attacks on wireless networks.
  • No Place Like Home,” July 2012, Carnegie Mellon Today
    Carnegie Mellon Heinz school alum Paul Tremer was recognized as Homeland Security Information Systems Security Officer of the Year.
  • Open House,” April 2012, Carnegie Mellon Today
    In this piece for my alumni magazine, I checked in with Ari Sklar, an architect putting the finishing touches on a Miami Beach house so “green” that it’s expected to have “net zero” energy — it draws nothing from the grid and will likely sell a small amount of energy to the local utility.
  • 30 Seconds With Prem Ramaswami,” April 2012, Carnegie Mellon Today
    Prem Ramaswami, building on a history of using technology in activism, tells us how and why he helped launch Google’s Crisis Response team after the devastating Haitian earthquake of 2010.
  • Restoring the ‘Water Freeway,'” January 2012, Planning magazine
    This article for the American Planning Association’s member magazine explains and explores the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan from the City of Los Angeles. It’s safe to say that the river has suffered from bad human decisions, but the city has an ambitious plan to make it a recreation destination and an economic engine instead of a forgettable concrete channel.
  • Tweetable,” January 2012, Carnegie Mellon Today
    For my alumni magazine, I had the privilege of interviewing a bright, dynamic articulate young woman from Morocco who came to Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus as part of an exchange program run by the U.S. State Department. There, she researched Twitter’s usefulness during the San Bruno PG&E gas explosion of 2010.
  • Nada Brahma (Sound of God),” May 2011, Whole Life Times
    This article is about nada yoga — the yoga of sound. It’s less familiar to most Westerners than more physical forms of yoga, but sound can help some people connect better with their spiritual sides, and is reputed to help with healing.
  • Community Garden Feeds People and the Earth,” February 2011, Mar Vista
    This is a feature piece about a community garden on the west side of Los Angeles, for “hyperlocal” news site The editor of the site also asked me to write about a garden-related news story (below), but felt that the garden was interesting enough to merit its own piece.
  • City Suspends Fee Hike for Ocean View Farms,” February 2011, Mar Vista
    A short straight news piece on a decision by the city of Los Angeles on gardening fees. While this is focused on a particular garden, the news applies to multiple gardens around the city, and in a larger sense is connected to the budget woes plaguing many California municipalities.
  • Help for the Winter Blahs,” January 2011, Whole Life Times
    For this piece, I enjoyed rummaging through multiple published studies, looking for scientific evidence for the effectiveness of herbal remedies for anxiety and depression. Some of them might surprise you!
  • Stop a Cold Before It Stops You,” February 2010, Whole Life Times
    A service piece on natural ways to fight off or treat a winter cold, using things you probably already have in your kitchen. I was pleased to have the expert advice of a doctor and herbal medicine specialist from UCLA, as well as numerous academic studies, to draw on for this.
  • Sweets in Manga,” October 2007, Shojo Beat magazine
    A short article on the depiction of Japanese sweets, both traditional and modern, in manga.
  • Group Hopes Gaucher Becomes Household Name,” November 2006, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
    A news piece about one man’s attempt to raise awareness in the Jewish community about a rare but devastating disease that strikes Jews of East European descent disproportionately.
  • Cellular Divide,” (PDF format) October 2005, Los Angeles Alternative Press
    A feature for an alternative weekly about the potential of California’s stem cell research initiative, and how it affects one family in Los Angeles struggling with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Just Married! (after 28 years),” (PDF format) April 2004, Los Angeles Alternative Press
    An alternative weekly feature about the 2003 explosion of same-sex marriage in California.