My COVID Reading List, So Far

October 16, 2020

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 . . .

One Dataset, Zero Privacy

December 20, 2019

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.

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Three

January 12, 2017

A whirlwind tour of the Upper Peninsula coupled with miles of, basically, nothing.

Day Three:


A long, very long day.

After a quick breakfast in Newberry, and gearing up for rain, we headed to Pictured Rocks National Seashore. A little tip: Getting to this area will require you to ride on gravel roads. Now, as it hadn’t rained (much), the roads were okay. However, if you’re in a downpour, this might be a bit challenging. That said, it is well worth the effort and time.

On the way to the entrance to Pictured Rocks, we encountered what can only be described as a suicidal bird. I’m leading and up ahead, I see what appears to be a rock in the road. I move to the right a bit, signal to the others that there is something in the road, and, as I pass it, I see that it is a bird. Just sitting there, in the road. As the other two bikes pass, it doesn’t move. Strange little bird, hope you didn’t get flattened later in the day.

Then, it was the gravel road, until we reached a ranger station and the start of our tour of Pictured Rocks.

Got off the bikes, removed our rain gear (the day was turning out to be sunny and beautiful), and asked one of the rangers for a map of the seashore and the places we needed to stop and see. Off we went.

Day Three Best Roads:


Leaving Newberry, we headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Words cannot do this park justice. You must see it to believe it. It is worth the time and effort to get there and run the road next to Lake Superior and to stop, often, to see the sights and take pictures. Here is an example, Miners Castle:


There is a trail that will take you up close and personal, which we walked. It’s worth the time for the views of the lake. Amazing location. I think we all fell in love with the Upper Peninsula during this run through Pictured Rocks.

Then we it was time to ride to Copper Harbor.  But first, a search for gas. I don’t think we saw a gas station until we reached Harvey, MI, 40+ miles from Miners Castle. Then, a quick lunch in Marquette, MI, as we followed Route 41 west and north. As we traveled north on Route 41, in the town of Hancock, we passed Quincy Mine. It’s a tourist spot and it looked very impressive from the road. All of us determined that the next time we pass through here, we would stop. But not today, we were on a mission to get to Copper Harbor and daylight was getting in short supply.

Somewhere along the route into Copper Harbor, I glanced over to the side of the road and swore that I saw a porcupine. I asked Doug and CJ, when we finally arrived in Copper Harbor, if they had seen it. “No,” was the consensus. Ah, well, I saw it.

The last 15 miles into Copper Harbor are amazing; great road surface, twisties, sweeping curves, altitude changes, this bit of road has it all. And, once you get there, you will be at the start of Route 41, which you can take all the way to Miami, Florida. Here’s my bike at the start of Route 41:


And here are our bikes at the start of Route 41:


The best part of this, Doug rode his bike around the turnaround several times, scraping floorboards for most of it. Trust me, it was hilarious.

We took a quick tour of Copper Harbor, then headed south.

As I remembered seeing the porcupine, I was determined to point it out to my fellow travelers. Which I did, as it was in the same spot as when I first saw it.

And it was dead.

Today was also the day that I fell off of my bike. Stopped for gas in a (very) little town south of Copper Harbor. As I was dismounting, my right foot caught on my tank bag. I did an admirable job of not falling, until I thought I was going to recover, and then, ended up on the ground.

After they stopped laughing, CJ and Doug helped me up.

It was the only “accident” on the entire adventure. Damn tank bag.

The other highlight of this trip:

As I was leading, I was the one that determined the gas stops. We were riding US 141 south and east, to get to Iron Mountain, MI, for the night. At the junction of 141 and 28, there is a gas station. Thinking that we could make it into Crystal Falls, MI, I decided to keep riding.

That was a mistake.

Riding down 141, watching my mileage go up, I knew we weren’t going to make it. It was about that time when I saw a gas station sign. Pulling into the station, we were all commenting on how lucky we were to find this station.

But it had just closed.

The owner hadn’t left yet, and she powered up the pumps for us. It was a magical moment. And she told us that the next nearest station was only about 20 miles down the road. Oh, well. We were still very happy. This is also the station where Doug tried to leave without paying. CJ and I set him right.

Pulling out of the station, our lights caught the only deer we saw in the UP. Which was nice, but still kept us on high alert as we rode into Iron Mountain.

Iron Mountain wasn’t without its “eccentricities.” After checking into the hotel, we were given the name of place that was “open late.” It appears that most everything closes around 9PM, regardless of the day, in Iron Mountain. When we arrived at the sports bar, karaoke was going in full blast. Hard to hear in the place. And, as the three of us came in, in armored jackets and riding pants, several patrons at the bar took an immediate interest in us. After looking us over, the bartender told us that they stopped serving food only minutes before our entrance. And a bouncer appeared at the door, where he came from is anyone’s guess, because he wasn’t there when we entered.

Okay, we get the hint.

An open pizza shop it was to be for us. And it was good. And quiet.

Tomorrow, we continue riding south, for our date with a Lake Michigan ferry.

Total miles: 450

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Two

January 11, 2017

Spent some time, the previous night, mapping out Day Two’s ride. Using Google Maps and the Ride Michigan book, determined the roads we were going to ride and some of the specifics on those roads. After a free hotel breakfast, we rode out of Ludington and continued north.

Day Two:


Day Two Best Roads:


From bottom to top:

Michigan 22 gets you really close to Lake Michigan, beautiful views, sweeping curves, and altitude changes. Great road, with one spectacular road side park. If you ride M-22, you must stop, take a break, and take pictures of the lake and the vistas. While there, we watched a lake tanker making its way north. It looked so small and insignificant on the lake.

Michigan 119 is also known as Tunnel of Trees. A great motorcycle road. Very tight, the road is a bit more than one lane. Keep your wits about you as bicyclists and other cars could be just around the corner. As I was leading, I rode farther ahead of the others, riding to the left of the center line, so that CJ and Doug would have ample time to move to the right in the event of an approaching car. And there were quite of few of them on this beautiful day. There is a portion that goes down to Lake Michigan, of which we rode a little, as it heads south and away from our true route. If you do go down to Lake Michigan, watch for sand on the road. Back on M-119, you’ll know when you get to “Devil’s Elbow,” the road takes a 90 degree turn and then goes up. Simply awesome! Riding M-119, you are truly in a tunnel of trees. We stopped at a little roadside post office/deli/store and picked up some pins, patches, and stickers. Except for CJ, who doesn’t understand vests, pins, or patches. Or putting stickers on your helmet. Too bad for him. Gorgeous road, highly recommended.



Mackinac Bridge. Are you kidding? Nearly 5 miles of bridge. The outside lane is paved, the inside lane is grate. We rode the grate, to pass semi tractor trailers and to get a great look of the Straits of Mackinac, 200 feet below us. Toll is $4, which is collected on the north side of the bridge. It was a bright, blue beautiful day to ride the bridge. And the wind wasn’t bad, which is important to know if you’re riding two wheels.

Michigan 123, heading to Whitefish Point. You have to see this to believe just how close you ride to Lake Superior. Beautiful vistas with the lake basically lapping at the road. And Whitefish Point? This is where you can see the actual bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald. While the museum had closed by the time we arrived, the views and the grounds are great.


Our first experience with the Upper Peninsula. Two things we learned in our short time in the UP:

  1. Gas stations are few and far between. Just because you know that there is a town up ahead, it may not have a gas station. Make smart decisions with respect to your fuel levels and don’t be hesitant to fill up even though you still have 100 miles to empty.
  2. When the sun goes down, it gets dark. Really dark. Because there are few sizable towns/cities in the UP, there is no light pollution. And zero street lights. It is really, really dark. Keep your wits about you, there are big things in the dark, like moose. And deer.

As night fell, we rode into Newberry. First hotel stop, they didn’t have room for us. Although we doubted that was true, because of the lack of cars in the parking lot. They may not have had rooms for us because the registration desk saw three guys, in armored jackets, arrive on motorcycles. After asking about other lodging, we headed down the road to another hotel. The second hotel had rooms for us. And, bonus!, it was located next to a bar/restaurant, just a short walk from the hotel. Perfect! Newberry eventually worked out okay for us.

Total miles: 350

From my inbox

January 10, 2017


Two bars of the most wonderful chocolate in the world, from Norway. And a beautiful card. Thank you, Arvid and Liv.

It’s Your Fault Cybercrime is Getting Easier

April 9, 2015

Interesting article from The Register.

. . . Around one in three (30 per cent) of end-users click through a malicious URL in an email even though they have been warned of the danger. “End users are increasingly desensitised from the warnings, don’t feel responsible and still lack enterprise-driven education,” according to Websense.

More >

For all the work that enterprise Information Security performs, it certainly appears to me that training the end-users to NOT click on suspicious email is not very high on their list. In fact, I would venture to guess that hardly any of the “Ivory Tower” Info Sec people even think to train their users, let alone send out fake spearfishing mail to see who is actually clicking on those links. Who better to train than the miscreants that continue to blindly infect their own workstations and the network, and who open the enterprise up for attack?

Bug Exposes IP Cameras, Baby Monitors

January 23, 2014

A bug in the software that powers a broad array of Webcams, IP surveillance cameras and baby monitors made by Chinese camera giant Foscam allows anyone with access to the device’s Internet address to view live and recorded video footage, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

More >


What is This?

April 18, 2013

I would venture to say that if you are over a certain age, you don’t know what this is, let alone, what function it serves.

Care to guess? And while you’re at it, get off my lawn.
Wall Outlet


Modifying the Mail File Owner Field

December 28, 2012

Back in the day, which would be the Lotus Notes/Domino R5 days, if you needed to change the mail file owner field in a database, be it mail-in or person, it was a simple process. Open the mail file, click on Preferences – Mail – Basics, select a name from the Domino Directory, and save the Preference.

Apparently, to “prevent issues caused by the name in the Mail File Owner field not existing as a valid hierarchical name in the Domino Directory,” this behavior was changed in Release 6. The field was protected and usually required a change to the design of the mail file to allow this field to be edited.

That is a tiresome change.

If you have a mail file, or mail-in database, where you want to change the Owner field, it is as simple as creating a button and mailing it to the affected user (bad idea). I prefer using the same technique, but instead of waiting for the user to do something (click a button, in this case), open the mail file, create a button, and click it for the user.

Open the mail file.

Create a new messsage

In a blank line of the new message, click Create – Hotspot – Button. Give the button a name, in this case “ClickMe.”


Now, add some code to the button:

@SetProfileField(“CalendarProfile”;”Owner”;”<hierarchical name of user>”)

Example: @SetProfileField(“CalendarProfile”;”Owner”;”CN=Gregg Eldred/O=Acme”)


Click the green check mark, to save the code.

The button is now on a blank memo, created in the mail file of the person who has an issue with the Owner field. And, as you created the button, the field value is perfect.

Click the button.

To confirm that your code worked, open Preferences – Mail – Basics. You should see something like this:


There, problem solved and the user didn’t have to do a thing (that’s called a “win” in my book).



The Earth at Night

December 7, 2012

NASA has posted some amazingly beautiful pictures of our planet at night.

City Lights of the United States 2012

Black Marble - Africa, Europe, and the Middle East

These pictures are “. . . [a} global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.”

The entire set can be found here.