Category Archives: My Story

Humanity, Photography, and Hard Questions

Posted by on July 19th, 2013


Look at this photo. What do you see? Those are the eyes of a Peruvian boy. If I had to guess I’d say he was around 10 years old. His cheeks are red from the merciless sun and wind of the high Andes. You can’t see it in this cropped photo but he’s wearing a purple sweater with a dirty blue shirt underneath it. His pants show signs of repair and mismatched threads stick out here and there. The photo doesn’t show you his worn rubber sandals that instantly mark him as a “campesino.” It doesn’t show you his rough hands and it doesn’t show you the blade he’s holding in them. Continue reading

Words are Beautiful or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Writing

Posted by on April 11th, 2013

Of the billions of hours of video on YouTube, these six minutes of pontification on language by Stephen Fry are some of my favorite. This video is something of a capstone in a very important personal journey. A journey that began with a frustrated hatred of writing and ended with something altogether different. Before I go on, you really should watch the video. I’ll wait.

My less than sparkling history with writing begins in third grade where I learned I was an awful writer. Now you might say, comparatively, most third graders are awful writers, but even among my peers I was a special kind of awful. So special I was carted off to a special education class where I drew letters in a special pile of colored sand for what special purpose, other than keeping my normal teacher from reading another of my especially appalling sentences, I do not know. What I did know was that I was a bad writer. And that notion stuck with me through college. Continue reading

Radio Silence

Posted by on February 25th, 2013
Pikes Place Market, classic Seattle tourist destination and one of the few photos I've managed to take.

Pikes Place Market, classic Seattle tourist destination and one of the few photos I’ve managed to take in Seattle.

September 20th, 2012. That’s the last time I posted on this blog. I was still in Chile but I was coming home to make a big move and start a brand new stage in life. In the five months that followed my life changed — a lot. Continue reading

The Next Chapter

Posted by on September 19th, 2012

In the past, I have hinted that there were some big changes for me on the horizon — now I can share them with you. After almost six months of living out my dreams in South America I’m returning to the United States and beginning the next chapter of my life. On October 1st, I join the dedicated team at Vittana as their community manager. Continue reading

Introducing DAWNS Digest

Posted by on July 30th, 2012

A little behind the scenes news for everyone who follows this blog: we just got our first sponsor! A big thanks to DAWNS Digest for coming aboard (you can find their ad in the “Featured Content” section of the sidebar).

When I started to get serious about this blog, I knew that if I was ever going to have advertisers they wouldn’t just be random. I wanted content that I actually supported and felt comfortable sending my readers to. DAWNS Digest fits that description perfectly. Of all the emails I subscribe to, DAWNS is the only one I consistently read all the way through.

What they offer are daily links to some of the most interesting stories from around the globe related to development, aid work, and significant events. (The acronym DAWNS stands for Development and Aid World News Service) Sometimes on busy days, DAWNS is the only news I get to read, but I never feel like I’m missing important stories.

The content they provide not only helps me keep up to date, but it also helps me discover new and interesting humanitarian storytelling. News-link emails are abundant and often redundant, but DAWNS has a knack for sending me stories I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. The revenue generated by the DAWNS Digest goes toward micro-grants that support humanitarian journalism. How cool is that?

If you are interested in their unique brand of world news, you can subscribe on their website As of publication, they are offering a free month’s subscription to the digest but be warned; I took them up on their trial offer and was hooked.

Pig Roast

Live Blog: Roasting a Whole Pig

Posted by on October 8th, 2011

Well, we’re doing it. Attempting to roast a whole hog. Follow the live blog here and check out the full story in the Santa Ynez Valley Journal on Thursday, Oct. 13. Photos by Ben Ayers, Luke Gebauer, and Isaiah Brookshire.

That’s all folks! 

3:09 p.m. — My pig is now chopped up. Cooking a little more just to be safe.

2:29 p.m. — This thing is done. Time to grab the hacksaw.

1:55 p.m. — Second Flip: Underside is pretty crispy but the meat is fall-apart tender. This is going to be so good.

1:12 p.m. — Just pulled off all the burnt skin to inspect the damage. Glad to report that I found nice cooked meat that was starting to shred itself!

12:37 p.m. — My mom just asked me, “would you ever do this again?” Hmmm… good question. If I did, I would do a couple things differently. First off, I would get a lid for my grill.

12:00 p.m. — Did my first temperature check. Ham: 118° Shoulder: 120°.

11:50 a.m. — Both fires are back.

11:41 a.m. — I’ve been running a two fire system. One for the shoulder, one for the ham. My shoulder fire went out, trying to build it back.

11:30 a.m. — Eight hours into a 13 hour pig roast, looking good… except for the whole skin issue.

11:00 a.m. — Rib bones are starting to peel away from the meat. Looking mighty tender.

10:21 a.m. — Had my first taste of the shoulder. Mmmm lawdy, ‘das good.

9:25 a.m. — Pro tip. A 13hr pig roast requires a big book.

9:07 a.m. — At least one of us isn’t worried.

8:35 a.m. — Tasted a piece of the burnt skin… bad decision. Found a slightly less charred piece, it tasted pretty good.

8:00 a.m. — First Flip: Got a chance to fully inspect the damage. It’s not good, maybe 75 percent of the skin is burnt black. The meat underneath it looks okay. This isn’t going to be as pretty as I had hoped but I think we can still pull off a tasty pig. Low and slow, low and slow.

7:00 a.m. — Disaster Strikes: I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but things have gone bad earlier than I expected. When we were building the fire it was dark and we couldn’t see. Most of the skin got charred black by the flames. I think we’ve lost about 60 percent skin. Bummer.

6:00 a.m. — Worried that skin is looking too dark already.

4:00 a.m. — Pig is on the fire.

3:50 a.m. — Applying dry rub by hand.

3:45 a.m. — Starting the fire, wood is wet. Feeling like I’m already behind schedule.

3:30 a.m. — I’m up, trying to gather the crew.