My First Published Science Article

My writing specialty when I got started was explaining technical and scientific topics for lay audiences, which served me well when I applied for a “tech transfer” job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Tech transfer: publishing — “transferring” — JPL’s basic technical research to industry or the public.)

This was written for a class in journalism school. In another example of my model of “write once, publish again and again,” once it was written for my professor, I then tried to sell it to a magazine, but failed.

Then¬†an earthquake triggered a tsunami in Alaska that threatened the entire Pacific basin. I quickly updated the article and marketed it again, this time quickly selling it to Westways magazine for their October 1986 issue. In a stroke of great timing, it came out the day before I interviewed at JPL, and I was able to hand over the magazine and say “Here’s a recent article I wrote.”

The interviewer merely glanced at it, and said, “I read that at home last night. It was very good.” I got the job.

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SFO’s Mini-Ambulance

California: The Mini-Ambulance

by Randy Cassingham

Every time we go to the airport these days it is jammed. Everyone is in a hurry to buy tickets, catch planes — everyone has a place to go, a person to see. Suddenly, someone drops. A crowd gathers for a quick look before they hurry to their planes. The victim is traveling alone, his doctor is hundreds of miles away. Luckily for this victim he is at San Francisco International Airport. San Francisco International (SFO) is one of the few airports in the United States with a 24-hour medical clinic staffed by MDs.

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My First-Ever Published Article

Published under the stupid title “Code-3 Tips to Avoid!” in Emergency magazine (a journal for street medics — now long-defunct), in December 1980. It was my first published piece. The roots of sarcasm — and truth, for that matter! — run deep.

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