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My very first job was at a newspaper, the now–deceased Amherst Record. The staff was so small that we could all fit into the managing editor's VW Bug and drive to the printing plant. (We used to stop at the drive–thru of a fast–food joint on the way and order lunch: "The photo department will have an order of fries; editorial will have a burger . . .") But it was a great chance to learn everything about newspapers.

This experience was followed by a series of internships and part–time jobs at a number of papers, culminating in freelance work for newspapers such as New York Newsday and The Boston Globe.

Below you'll find the opening sentences to some of my all–time favorites. Click on the link to see the rest of the text.

The Filched Fossil Trade: Thieves Are Getting Bolder in Australia, Newsday.

"Several months ago, elders from the Goolarabooloo clan went on national radio to place a traditional curse. Their target: a group of thieves armed with professional rock-cutting tools, who stole rare dinosaur tracks from a remote Aboriginal sacred site 1800 miles northwest of Sydney. . . "

Australia's Cats Run Astray of Nature, Foreign Journal section, The Boston Globe.

"CANBERRA: In the big emptiness of the Outback - where fire, flood, disease and drought are everyday obstacles to the struggle to survive - a new threat to Australia's wildlife has recently been identified. Deadlier than these traditional ravagers of the bush, this menace is responsible for the near-extinction of several native species. The culprit? The common suburban housecat . . ."

The Spin Down Under: Do Aussies Go With the Flow - Or Against It?, Newsday.

"When I moved to the land down under, the first thing friends back home in the States asked me was whether the toilets here flush in the opposite direction from the Northern Hemisphere. . . " (According to website statistics, this is my single most popular story.)

The Last Frontier: In Vietnam, zoologists discover animals long hidden by rugged terrain and political strife, Newsday.

"CAT TIEN, VIETNAM - It's late monsoon season in southern Vietnam and the wet, humid weather has brought out armies of leeches. The wormlike creatures stand on the tip of nearly every jungle leaf at Cat Tien National Park, waiting to attach themselves to any warm-blooded creature that passes by. Our group constantly brushes leeches off of our shirt sleeves and pants cuffs, only to discover telltale patches of blood on our socks after we stop at a ranger's hut to dry off. When we sit down to gratefully drink some of the green tea the ranger offers, a leech crawls across the tabletop towards us. We watch the leech inch-worm its body among the teacups until park overseer Gert Polet can stand it no more and flicks the leech away - only to discover two more leeches have arrived.. . . "

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