COVID Reading List, Part II

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You can review my prior list of books I’ve read this year here. All of the books on this list were loaned to me by my local library or Cleveland Public Library.

Stephen King books I’ve read:

The Outsider. Read it after watching “The Outsider” on HBO. Good, creepy book that introduced me to King’s character, Holly Gibney. Which led me to King’s “Bill Hodge’s Trilogy.”

Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch. These books center around police detective Bill Hodges. “Mr. Mercedes” is basically a police procedural. However, the final two books move into the supernatural realm. Great characters, creepy premise, and a great finale to the series.

The Institute. Parents being murdered, their kids being sent to “The Institute.” To what end? Good standalone supernatural novel.

Doctor Sleep. This book takes place many years after The Shining. After watching the movie, it was time to read the book.

Brad Thor novels I’ve read:

Near Dark. The most recent Scot Horvath novel, who is a super spy, by author Brad Thor. Never read anything by Thor until I picked this up at the library. Reading the book’s liner notes, I picked up three other novels in the series because they had won some awards.

Spymaster. An earlier novel in Brad Thor’s Scot Horvath series, because I read the most recent one first.

The Last Patriot. An award winning novel by Thor. It’s good but I need one more to see if I want to continue reading about Scot Horvath’s adventures.

Backlash. With this one, I think I’m done with Scot Horvath. Didn’t really connect with him like I do with other characters, like Jack Reacher, John Rain, or Joe Pickett.

Graphic novels:

Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli. The author, Maximilian Uriarte, is the creator of the comic “Terminal Lance” and this is his second graphic novel. Gorgeous artwork, great story centered on Marine Sergeant King.

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio. Easily the best graphic novel I’ve ever read. Meticulously researched, wrenching story. Highly recommended.

Miscellaneous authors:

Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump. Because I really enjoy golf and author Rick Reilly. You can tell a lot about a person when you play golf with them because the game is based on honesty.

Blood Cruise. How about some horror on a cruiseferry in the Baltic Sea? Sign me up!

Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will. Fun facts about remote islands, some of which are rather disturbing.

Ready Player Two. The sequel to the blockbuster Ready Player One. After much consideration, I didn’t think it was as much fun as Ready Player One but I had to read it.

The Hollow Ones. Book one in a series concerning grisly murders that happen across history, a rookie FBI agent, and, it seems, a hero that will put an end to the killings. After finishing this horror novel, I cannot wait for the next installment.

Squeeze Me. If you’ve read any of Carl Hiassen’s novels, you know exactly what you will be getting in this, his latest novel. It did not disappoint and brought some much needed laughs after a bunch of horror novels.

Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick. Saw this title on the “New Books” shelf at the library and, with a title like that, I had to read it. Turns out, I’ve read a couple of David Wong’s previous novels, John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders. This is a hilarious look at a dystopian future. I now have to read the first book in his Zoey Ashe series, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits.

Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema. Author Linda West revisits some of the 20th Century’s movies with hilarious results. All of her reviews are funny, but I found her review of Harry Potter to be absolutely hilarious. If you’re a big fan of any of the movies in this book, I hope you have some sense of humor.

The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World. Truly, one of the most unusual animals on Earth as so little is known about them, as compared to other creatures. I think my only experience with them is when I see them in zoos or aquariums. Still, this is an enlightening and fascinating book.

My COVID Reading List, So Far

With the lockdown, came the closure of the libraries. Luckily, I had a veritable pile of books that I had borrowed from the library at home. With, at the time, no timetable to return them.

Then, the libraries opened. That meant instead of actually going into the library, they allowed holds using their mobile apps, online catalogs, or simply calling the library. Both libraries I use have mobile apps, although they do not use the same app.

No problem, I use each library differently.

My local library is a “popular library.” They have popular authors, books on the best seller lists, and so forth. The other library is Cleveland Public Library. A “research library.” Yes, they have the popular books, but they also have a broad and deep collection (their graphic novel collection for example is, simply, amazing). Plus, they allow you to put on hold books that have not yet been published. This is a great feature when you subscribe to several book sites and know when your favorite authors are publishing their next books.

Any way, here’s what I’ve read so far, from mid March until now.

The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson. I’ve read everything Larson has published and each is better than the last. This book was wonderful. I have to read a Churchill biography soon.

Snow, by Giles Whittell. Everything you ever wanted to know about snow written in a entertaining and informative style.

Secondhand, by Adam Minter. Great book about what happens to the stuff you take to Goodwill or other secondhand stores, where the stuff goes, what’s done with it, and more. Especially topical when you have to clean out your house or, worse, when you have to clean out your parent’s house. Also, how much crap we acquire that has no value whatsoever. Except, perhaps, the memories that they elicit.

The Logan Pike series, by Brad Taylor. Fourteen books, so far, in the series. Logan and his team are, in a word, badass.

The Joe Pickett series, by C.J. Box. My Mom had the most recent book, and lent it to me to read. When I finished it, I started at book one, “Open Season,” and finished the rest of them. Also, read “Shots Fired,” a collection of short stories by C.J. Box, that also included a couple of short stories using the characters in the series. Phew, 23 books including the book of short stories.

The Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin. Phenomenal. It’s not often that when I finish a novel or a series where I am sad. This was one of those times. Jemisin built such an amazing world with exceptional characters that I didn’t want it to end. These books will be with for a long time. And, I will read them again.

The Old Guard: Opening Fire by Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández. After watching, several times, The Old Guard on Netflix, I had to read the graphic novel. Trying to find the other books in the series.

The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben. I’ve read all of Coben’s books and this one did not disappoint. I think I finished it in two days. Great thriller/mystery.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. A ghost story, with interesting characters, some chills, and a twist that surprised the heck out of me. Highly recommended.

Six (so far) of the ten novels in the Quinn Colson series by Ace Atkins. Former Ranger goes back to his hometown, badness occurs, he stays and becomes the sheriff. It’s not like anything else I’ve read this year, when it comes to a series. While the main character is good but flawed, the secondary characters keep me reading. Haven’t finished the series because Broken Earth, above.

I’ve got four books currently in the pile, with several more on hold at the local library and CPL. 2020 has been a great year for reading.

More titles to come . . .

Observations Whilst Walking the Dog

Walking the dog several times a day has been a good experience for me. And the walks can range from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather, so both the dog and I get some exercise.

Unlike others I see out and about, I walk the dog with no music in my ears or any other distraction. It’s just me, Bella, the leash, and the neighborhood.

To make the walks more fun, for the both of us, I’ve “trained” Bella that I am willing to sprint after squirrels. Unfortunately, my girlfriend, who walks her in the morning, isn’t too happy with this, as Bella will strain against the leash to get after squirrels. Secretly, I find it very funny.

Squirrels. There are quite a few around the neighborhood, especially in areas where there are a lot of older, nut bearing trees. As I was walking her one day, I realized how little I knew about them. That lead me to borrow a book from Cleveland Public Library on the subject. Fascinating creatures. While the world is full of them, there is a lot we don’t know. But there are some things I learned, like the chattering you hear? Those are squirrels of the same family warning their siblings/parents/etc. of, in my case, a dog. I also called a local nature and science center to inquire about squirrels, specifically why my area has no black squirrels.

Anachronastic trees. An anachronism is a term that defines an adaptation that is chronologically out of place, making its purpose more or less obsolete. A tree with big fruits to attract huge mammals as dispersers of its seeds is anachronistic in a world of relatively small mammals. In other words, plants and trees that are waiting for giant mammals to disperse their seeds. Mammals that haven’t walked the Earth for thousands of years. A great example is the avocado.  Cut one open and marvel at the size of the seed. While humans have discovered that they are delicious, if left to nature, they would be found in only a few places, as the mammal that dispersed its seeds is long dead. How does this relate to walking the dog? Along one route Bella and I take, there is a ginkgo tree. A true “living fossil.” Also, we see a lot of Honey Locust trees. They are extremely popular landscaping trees because they grow fast and their roots do not spread far from the trunk, ruining concrete, pavement, and so on. It’s a tree that has adapted to mammals that are extinct as the fruit is fairly long and has a hard shell. We only see the thornless variety around the neighborhood.

Interested? Here’s a book that will explain more about these amazing trees and plants and the mammals that used to disperse their seeds.

Speaking of anachronastic things, the second fastest land animal, behind the cheetah, is the pronghorn. Why would this mammal still need to be so fast as there is no land predator that can catch them? Their natural predators died out at least 12,000 years ago.

Turkeys. We have about 5-6 turkey’s roaming the neighborhood and we keep well away from them as they are known to very aggressive. I knew that they roosted in trees at night, but I didn’t know how high in the trees they roost (very high). Also, their roosting spot is at the center of their range. So, knowing where they roost, they will range in a 3 to 5 mile circle. The most startling thing to see is them flying. Remember, these birds are not raised on a farm for their meat, they are wild and lean. But watching these very large birds fly is very cool. Just read a book about them that I picked up at the library.

House Numbers. It’s fascinating to me that house numbers can be pretty much anywhere on a house and it varies from house to house. Around the front door: Above, to the right, to the left. They could be on the front door. Someone in the neighborhood painted the numbers to match the color of the front door. That’s not very helpful. They could be on front patio posts, any one of the many posts. Over the garage or to the right of left of the garage door. Or, there’s no numbers on the house. Those houses have the numbers on posts or stones in their front yards. I know that GPS will get you pretty close to your destination, but once you’re in the general area, it’s not easy to determine if you’ve found the right place.

When You’re Away. When you leave your house for an extended period, most people have lights that will automatically go on and off to simulate someone living in the home. Do you know which room rarely, if ever, has lights come on? The kitchen. The most popular room in the house. Just as interesting, there’s never any trash to be picked up on collection day. Finally, in the winter, do you know how I know you’re not home? There are no car tracks in your driveway. Nor are there tracks leading up to and into your garage.

One Dataset, Zero Privacy

A rather sobering article from The New York Times:

The data reviewed by Times Opinion didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies — and yet to anyone who has access to this data, your life is an open book. They can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor.

More >

If you’re interested in the apps that are tracking your location, this Twitter thread may be of interest.

Notes Startup Screen: Will Not Be Fixed

Every morning, since about mid-March, this is what I see when I start IBM/HCL Notes:

I can’t change this, as my default mail program is now Outlook.

We are well on our way to migrating tens of thousands of employees to Office365, SharePoint, and Teams in the cloud.

The migration off of Connections will be starting soon. Migrating all of that data to SharePoint and Teams, depending on how the Connections Communities are being used. The fun part of this migration is mapping items in Connections to an equivalent in SharePoint/Teams. However, not everything in Connections has an equivalent in SharePoint/Teams, so decisions need to be made on how to migrate or even if a migration will occur. And then there is file sharing. Yes, Files can be migrated to OneDrive, added to a Team or a SharePoint site, but as for the sharing, such as user to user, user to Community, that’s a bit tougher. In the end, there will probably be copies of files in different places within O365, and none of them will be “the source of truth.” That may cause a bit of user confusion.

I’m glad to see that HCL is moving, rather quickly, to update and refresh Notes, Domino, and Sametime.  But it was too little, much too late to keep that software here.


And Then There Were Nearly None

I was not sure.

I watched and read as people I know, IRL,  left Facebook. I watched and read as people I know, again, IRL, deleted tweets. I knew there was something there, but, damn, it is so easy to use Twitter. To use Facebook.

I also knew, that since those services were free, I was the product that was being tracked, sold, and fed a lot of lies. And it was easy.

No more.

Thanks to vowe, I’ve deleted over 30,000 tweets using Cardigan (it was a recommendation by one of his readers). Because Twitter limits their API to 2500 or 3000 tweets, I paid Cardigan $3.00US (if I remember correctly), to delete 29,900 tweets. Small price to pay to remove my activity from that site. Now, I hover around 100 tweets during any given month.



I’d read all of vowe’s posts about Facebook. It wasn’t until he posted this, about Facebook factcheckers, and reading about their backdoor deals with large companies to grant greater access to its customers data, that I finally decided to do something.

It’s taken some time, I will not lie, to delete things off of Facebook. They do not make it easy, which is probably by design. Almost everything I had on Facebook, from 2009 until 2018, has been deleted. All pictures, posts, tags, birthday greetings, and more. Most of it is now gone. I am still struggling with some items, but in the end, those, too, will be deleted.

It was a sad process. There were posts I wanted to keep, memories that I wanted to relive, photos I wanted to keep sharing. Oh, the photos were easy to keep. Those were downloaded and then uploaded to a cloud service. The memories? Well, I will rely on others to keep sharing those as they pop up in their own Facebook feeds. I have a physical book that will continue to remind of Dash4Dosh. It was bittersweet to delete some cherished posts. But I did it.

I also took vowe’s simple advice and changed my birth year. You know how many of Facebook’s partners want to advertise to a person born in 1918? None.

I will continue to move what remains of my Facebook presence to some other appropriate media, be it cloud, a document, or whatever, until I no longer have any content on that platform. And then my Facebook account will be deleted.

I value my privacy, and yours, too much to continue using a platform that will stop at nothing to know everything about you and then to sell it to the highest bidder, largest corporation, or nation.

A Year in Review: Concerts

2018 was an exceptional year for listening to live music. And I did my part to support my favorite bands.

February 9, a Friday. House of Blues, Cleveland, In This Moment. Took Number Two Son with me. Wow, their music is harder live than on their albums (is that how you refer to their downloads?). An outstanding stage show, which I wasn’t expecting but thoroughly enjoyed. Maria is a helluva performer and singer.

February 10, Saturday. Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, Michigan. About 2-1/2 hours from Cleveland. Halestorm opens for Stone Sour. Went with Number One and Number Two Sons and my friend Matt. Came for Lzzy and Company, stayed for Stone Sour. Have seen and heard Halestorm on many occasions and they are one of my favorite bands. Stone Sour is a band that is much harder live than on their releases. That is not a bad thing. Pretty surprised by them as I’m not much of fan but I do know their music. Halestorm performed for only about 30-40 minutes, but ripped through many of their hits. The acoustics in the Convention Center are terrible. Oh, and it snowed whilst we were in the venue. A lot. Leaving wasn’t at all a good time. But we had a great time inside the venue.

Summer. Number One Son and I attended Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day in Toledo. First time at Centennial Terrace. Really nice outside venue. They are very helpful when you park your vehicle. There is no one around to direct traffic when it’s time to leave. Perfect. But, the concert was awesome! Got to listen to a full set from both In This Moment and Halestorm and was introduced to New Years Day (downloaded their music when I got home). Beautiful evening and hard rock with my son. What more could I ask?

By now, you might be sensing a trend in my 2018 live music choices; female led hard rock bands.

Wait, what’s this?

Seether at the Cleveland Agora, with Number One Son. My first time seeing Seether, my first time at the Agora. Damn, the Agora is beautiful! It’s now my favorite venue in Cleveland, putting House of Blues into second place. Seether comes out and plays five songs in a row, no breaks between songs. Loved it! I’ve been a fan of theirs for quite some time, hard to believe this is the first time I’ve seen them live. It won’t be the last. Just an amazing time with an awesome band.

Finally, a few days after Thanksgiving, took Number One and Number Two Sons to see Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day at Cleveland Masonic Auditorium. Same show as I saw in the summer, but much closer to home. The bands did not disappoint. It was another fine evening listening to hard rock and a great way to close out 2018 musically.

I don’t know who I will be seeing in 2019, but I am hoping that I have a lot of opportunities in the new year to hear more live music.

Rock on! \m/


From my Inbox

As you may recall, back in August, seven riders and myself completed an Iron Butt ride. One thousand miles (and change) in 24 hours (19, to be exact).

As a member of STAR Touring and Riding, that ride also allowed me, and three other STAR friends, to apply for the STAR IRONAZZ award. I completed our paperwork, submitted it to STAR, along with three, $100 donations to STAR Family Foundation and this showed up in the mail.


A rocker, pin, and patch.

Frankly, I haven’t seen the patch on many STAR vests, but this one will get a preferential spot on mine.

I’d love to do another Iron Butt/IRONAZZ ride in the near future. Perhaps 1,500 miles in 24 hours or a tour around the Great Lakes in 50 hours.  And, do it for a charity, too. The Iron Butt/IRONAZZ ride raised $2,000US for a local charity.

I like “extreme motorcycling.”

IBM Is Being Sued for Age Discrimination After Firing Thousands

“Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce,” the former employees claim in the suit, which draws heavily on a ProPublica report published in March that said the company has fired more than 20,000 employees older than 40 in the last six years.

More >

For more information on the suit, here is the ProPublica report that started the wheels turning.

Goodbye IBM Notes: Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services

One of the largest and most loyal customers of IBM Notes/Domino in Australia is moving to Microsoft Office365 and Exchange.

The move sounds the death knell for the one of the last and largest known hold-out enclaves of the once mighty and celebrated fax-era platform.

A post by Victorian DHHS CIO Steve Hodginkson revealed that the department started the move a few weeks ago, with around 400 users moved to the Microsoft platform already but another 12,000 plus waiting to migrate “over the next year.”

iTnews understands that Notes has been present at the Department since 1998 after it was adopted across much of the Victorian public service. That gives it three decades on the clock.

More >

They recognize that some Domino applications may be hanging around for a while.

The article isn’t all doom and gloom for IBM Notes/Domino, though. The author writes about the IBM/HCL partnership, what’s coming in Domino 10, and more.

And then there are the comments. It’s exactly what I expected from the Microsoft and the Notes/Domino users.

I really don’t think that the Notes/Domino camp understands that the argument isn’t about the technical superiority of one product over another. If that was the case, you’d be reading about the plethora of IBM Notes/Domino wins. It is about the perception of one stack versus another. Perception makes companies move more than any other trigger. The perception of IBM is that it is not the best messaging/application development platform for current business users. And for the past 10 years, what has been done to change that perception? IBM Verse? Please.

Maybe the article will pique the interest of other Australian/New Zealand companies that are on the fence with their decision and will wait and see what IBM/HCL delivers this year. Maybe not. However, at least the article makes mention of the changes coming in Notes/Domino.