Costa Rica – 2019

Hello, everybody!

Happy to say I just returned from Costa Rica, the land of sun, greenery, renewable energy, and sloths. We split out trip between the sunny coastline and the lush mountainous environments of Monteverde, and while we didn’t spot any of the world’s favorite slow-moving xenarthans, our stay in the rainforest did produce run-ins with coati, agouti, capuchin monkeys, toucans, macaws, opossum, lizards, armadillos, scorpions, snakes, and just about any other animal you can think of.

A particular highlight of this trip was the tour of the coffee plantation at the Ecological Sanctuary in Santa Elena, where a local family — wonderful hosts, who were kind enough to have us stay at their place — is currently developing some truly amazing coffee with a self-sustaining, fair trade, organic setup. Pura vida!

The Benefits of Daily Reading

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

– Stephen King

Hey, King said it best.

Recently, I was asked by Carmen Jacob of UpJourney for my opinions on the benefits of daily reading, as someone who reads quite a bit. It’s a cool article, with thoughts from 26 daily readers from various walks of life, including authors, speakers, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. My answer is the third one down, but yes—the whole piece is worth adding to today’s daily read. Check it out:

The Benefits of Reading (According to 26 People Who Read Every Day)

Fictional Movie and TV Languages You Can Learn to Speak

Klingon, sure. Dothraki, of course. But what about Barsoomian, Na’vi or… Lapine?

klingon star trek language

Fictional movie and TV languages you can actually learn to speak

If Arrival taught the world anything, it’s that whenever spaceships do finally touch down on Earth, linguists will save the world. Seriously, if they’re not around, we’ll be depending on some handy universal translator to drop out of the sky. No matter what sort of weird mumbles, beamed images, or telepathic messages the real little green men use for communication, it definitely won’t be the sloppy, haphazard series of sounds we call English.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that real linguists have played a pretty huge role in sculpting the fictional languages of your favorite science fiction and fantasy worlds. For every badass Dothraki chant or Klingon speech that you’ve ever heard, there’s been a hardworking linguist who spent years developing a real, complex language with its own grammar, slang, and unique metaphors. These constructed languages — called “conlangs,” for short — are often so developed that if you have some time to kill, you can impress your next date with a newfound fluency in Barsoomian… READ MORE

I thought I could fix my Alzheimer’s patients. I learned to help them instead.

I thought I could fix my Alzheimer’s patients. I learned to help them instead.

Alzheimer's - Vox - Nicholas Conley

My first day in a nursing home was one of the most traumatic events of my life. I’d taken all the classes. I’d done the required clinical internship. I had the knowledge and the firsthand experience. But nothing prepared me for that first day on the floor.

It was a madhouse. Nurses were scrambling everywhere. Residents were constantly calling for help, ringing their call bells, but the workers were too busy jumping between patients to answer them. Many patients were unable to help themselves, even in small ways. Personal hygiene wasn’t optimal.

It wasn’t because the nurses were apathetic or incompetent. Trust me when I say that the people I worked with were some of the kindest, most giving people I’ve ever met. But the whole system is a chaotic mess; the result of a structure meant to warehouse people, where patient interests and business interests are often in conflict … READ MORE.

Recommended: The Far Out Diner

Sometimes you wake up in the morning, put on your tinfoil hat, and try to figure out where the nearest extraterrestrial green humanoids are. Are they hovering over your house? Spying through your webcam?  Maybe hovering out of sight, in wait of the next Exeter UFO Festival?

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Surprise visitors in for some breakfast!! ✌🏻

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Well, if you live in the Seacoast of New Hampshire, the closest UFO hot spot is probably the Far Our Diner, an alien-themed breakfast joint with some of the best food on this side of the galaxy. This diner captures the heart of the galaxy, loaded to the gills with cosmic books, posters, memorabilia, and just about anything an alien fan could ever need.

If you’re ever in the NH area, make sure to check it out, and in the meantime, follow them on Instagram!

Roundup: Join Us For Good

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all had a great start to 2019.

Now that I’ve been a full-time writer for a few years, I’ve spent a lot of time writing for a wide array of different publications, on subjects ranging from quirky science facts to superheroes to word histories on That’s just the nature of being a professional freelance writer: you never know what you’ll be doing next week, and sometimes that’s the most fun part. One of the projects I’ve been the most proud to work on this past year, though, has been Eastern Bank’s “Join Us For Good” initiative, a campaign dedicated to spreading the word about important social issues, speaking up for the marginalized, showcasing good deeds, and making change in New England, the United States, and the world as a whole.

Here are some features I’ve written for Join Us for Good. Thanks for reading!

MIRA: Helping Refugees in Massachusetts

Celebrating International Human Rights Day, Today and Every Day

Carol Fulp: Leading a Diverse and Inclusive Future

National Suicide Prevention Month

Vanessa Calderón-Rosado: Paving the Way for Latina Leaders

PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th

2018 Midterm Elections: Massachusetts Votes YES to Question 3

Disabled American Veterans Helps Vets and Family

Paula Johnson Honored with Social Justice Award

Join in! For Good This August

World Mental Health Day

Day of the Dead 2018: Oaxaca

How do we deal with death? Should we fear it? Avoid discussing it? These seem like foolish ideas, considering how inevitable death is: from the moment we’re born, from those first gulps of oxygen that open the door to life, we also begin dying. No matter what, death takes us in the end. So what if we looked at it a bit less… grimly?

image (12)

I’ve always had an immense admiration for Mexico’s Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead (as readers of Pale Highway probably figured out). In the last few years, Veronica and I have made a point to mark the occasion by remembering the loved ones we’ve lost. To truly understand a tradition, though, I think it’s important to go back to its roots. So back in late October, we took a trip down to Oaxaca, Mexico, to experience Día de Muertos firsthand.

Oaxaca is an amazing location, on its own, but everything lights up during Day of the Dead in a way that has to be seen to be believed. Altars commemorating lost family members are everywhere. Costumed parades cheer, dance, and play brass instruments across the neighborhoods, all night long. Grinning skeletons hang from balconies, windowsills, and doorways. Candles light up the cemeteries, and bands play through the evening, as everyone comes together to honor the ones they’ve lost, to grieve, to celebrate their lives, and to recognize death—not as something to fear, but as an integral part of what makes life meaningful. image (8)

This sort of realization—to love life, to smile through death, to dance with the skeletons instead of running from them—is something that anyone, in any culture, can learn from. Thank you, Oaxaca, for showing us what an amazing holiday this really is.