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Trick Your Brain and Smile: A Profile of Susan O’Malley for San Francisco Magazine

The hardest story I’ve ever written. When an artist of optimism is cruelly taken away, what remains of her message? A profile of the artist Susan O’Malley, from the January 2016 issue of San Francisco magazine.

On the afternoon of February 25, 2015, artist and curator Susan O’Malley was at home in Berkeley, taking care of business. She posted a note on Facebook asking if anyone could help her transport a piece of artwork down to San Jose, where she was curating a show at the Museum of Quilts and Textiles; several people cheerfully responded. She exchanged emails with her editor about the final page layouts for her first book, Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self, which will be published by Chronicle Books this month. In the next room, her husband, Tim Caro-Bruce, a computer programmer, was working from home.

Read more here.

Profiling an Animal Assassin for How We Get to Next

The eradication would begin on Floreana Island in October. If all went well, the rodents would be dead by Thanksgiving, the feral cats, by Easter.

Read more about Karl Campbell, the animal removal specialist working on the front lines of extinction, here

James Doty’s Helper’s High

From the May 2014 “Symmetry” issue of Nautilus

James Doty is not a subject under study at the altruism research center that he founded at Stanford in 2008, but he could be. In 2000, after building a fortune as a neurosurgeon and biotech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, he lost it all in the dotcom crash: $75 million gone in six weeks. Goodbye villa in Tuscany, private island in New Zealand, penthouse in San Francisco. His final asset was stock in a medical-device company he’d once run called Accuray. But it was stock he’d committed to a trust that would benefit the universities he’d attended and programs for AIDS, family, and global health. Doty was $3 million in the hole. Everyone told him to keep the stock for himself. He gave it away — all $30 million of it. “Giving it away has had to be the most personally fulfilling experience I’ve had in my life,” Doty, 58, said on a recent sunny afternoon at Stanford. In 2007, Accuray went public at a valuation of $1.3 billion. That generated hundreds of millions for Doty’s donees and zero for him. “I have no regrets,” he said.

Read more here.


Getting Over Our Preference for Perfect Produce

From the April 25, 2014 issue of Newsweek

Lift, squeeze, sniff. It’s a ritual millions of us perform every day in the produce aisle of the grocery store, rejecting the blemished and irregular in search of an ideal seldom found on any farm.

Forty percent of all food is never eaten, and this rejection of “ugly food” — the misshapen or imperfect produce that gets thrown out before it ever hits the supermarket display — is a major contributor to food waste.

Read more here.