Jonathan Neff

What happened to the horny toads?


I was not more than seven years old when my little brother and I began building backyard zoos.  With whatever materials we could find, we would build tiny enclosures, creating a menagerie in the backyard to hold whatever wild animals we could catch.  Everything from crawdads to frogs, crickets to lizards, and maybe a field mouse or garter snake would temporarily inhabit our zoo.  A prized reptilian treasure, however, was always the horny toads, which were plentiful and particularly exciting, with a prehistoric fringe of horns and spiked body—a modern day miniature dinosaur.  We grew attached… Continue reading

Sage Kotsenburg – New Trick for Olympic Gold

What word best describes Sage Kotsenburg, the snowboarder who landed a brand new trick he’d never tried before—and did it in the Olympic finals to win the gold!  Daring? Bold? Cool? Confident? Crazy? Bonkers? Lunatic?

No word captures the spirit that possessed him when he decided to throw down a trick he’d never tried before—the 1620 Japan Air—a four and a half rotation, board-grabbing maneuver that he landed flawlessly on his first try in the Olympic finals, to win.

Most Olympic athletes practice each movement thousands of times to reach perfection. Sage had never done that… Continue reading

Save the Bees!

When I was a child, my father had seven bee hives. I remember at the age of five or six, watching him don the white spacesuit (or so it seemed) with a screen helmet and elbow-length white gloves, to rob the hives. The bees swarmed around while the hives were opened and the honey extracted, then slowly returned to the hives. The domesticated honeybees were fairly gentle and seemed to understand their place in the cosmos—we seldom got stung and left plenty of honey for them. We turned the crank of the centrifugal extractor and watched a thick rope of… Continue reading

Welcome to my first blog—check it out!

Saving African Elephants—An Inspiration

I dedicate my first blog to the founders of the Endangered Species Protection Fund, a non-profit recently formed in Seattle by a small group of dedicated, conservation-minded people to oppose the ongoing illegal slaughter of African elephants. It’s easy to read about such grim practices in the media and wish the world was a better place—but Africa’s so far away, and what can we do, anyway? It’s an entirely different thing, however, to look deep within oneself to find the inspiration and motivation to gather a group of committed individuals, develop a plan to make a… Continue reading

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