We Threw Rocks


Mark has made kind of a thing about writing nice anecdotes about the rest of us on special days. Today is my turn to return the favor.

One of my favorite memories with Mark was when we were living in Manchester, Ct. It was a short-lived stay. Laura had accepted a job with the city newspaper and after a very short time, realized it was not a good fit (They were frickin’ crazy). I think we were in Manchester for just six weeks. and two of those weeks were spent living in a hotel room. We call this period “The year we lost our minds” for good reason.

Anyway, the apartment we moved into was right off Rt 84 outside of Hartford. A new off and on-ramp was being constructed near the apartment complex and one day Mark and I went exploring. We parked on the still-dirt road and hiked up a large hill with a single tree left at the summit. It had been a larger hill before the civil engineers carved two large slices out of it for the new roadways.

Once we go to the top, it was like a diamond shaped meadow with that one tree. We walked around, looked around and there really wasn’t anything to do up there…….except throw rocks.

And that’s what we did – we threw rocks down onto the construction site. Since we were pretty high up we could throw them pretty far. We cleaned that meadow-remnant clear of rocks.


He loved it. I mean, how often does a parent say “Let’s throw rocks?” We’re usually the ones yelling “Put that rock down,” “Do not throw rocks at the car,” etcetera, etcetera.

We had a blast. It was simple fun. And I’m pretty sure, Mark will remember it too – and he wasn’t quite three yet.

Happy Birthday and thanks for the memory.

Epilogue: For years and years, every time we passed that exit, I would look for our tree at the top of the hill between the, now completed and very busy, on and off-ramps. Finally, about ten years later, it was gone. A victim of time. But, even now, whenever I pass that hill, I still glance to the top where we threw rocks together and smile.


We’ve reached the end of 2017 and it’s time for my annual reading recap. I start each year with several goals:

  • I want to read a minimum of 20 books,
  • I want to read at least one classic,
  • I try to read one book about baseball.

For the eighth consecutive year, I have met or exceeded my goals. (Maybe I should raise them?) In 2017, I read or listened to 30 books. There was a lot of science and a lot of space – naturally. I read five biographies/memoirs about an astronaut, a writer, a TV actor, a stand-up comedian, and a rock ’n roll icon. If 2016 was my year to read about astronauts, then 2017 was my year for biographies/memoirs.

My classics included; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Call of the Wild, Of Mice and Men. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain was suggested to me by a fellow science teacher who said it was perfect for 2017 since a solar eclipse is a major element in the story. These were all excellent and I am amazed at how well these books hold up after all these years. I guess there’s a reason they are considered “classics.”

I read two baseball books last year: NPR Driveway Moments Baseball: Radio Stories That Won’t Let You Go and Lost Ballparks. Lost Ballparks was excellent – it explores the history of the baseball park with outstanding photos. I learned so much about ballparks across the country and Boston in particular.

The best book I read in 2017?  For me it was Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author by Herman Wouk. I say “for me” because I am so familiar with his work. I have41sncs6v8ql-_sx309_bo1204203200_ read almost everything this author has published. He relates the behind the scenes work on The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, and one my all-time favorites – Youngblood Hawke (I should probably hunt down the movie made from this book). If you don’t know the writer’s work, you might not appreciate the way I did.

Other favorites included; Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks – about, well…books; and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.

Here’s my complete list of the books I read in 2017 – I’ve indicated audiobooks and linked some of my favorites. I wonder what 2018 holds for me?

  • Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
  • So Close to Home: A True Story of an American Family’s Fight for Survival During World War II
  • Belichick and Brady: Two Men, the Patriots, and How They Revolutionized Football
  • Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic15803728
  • The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code
  • The Warmup Guy
  • NPR Driveway Moments Baseball: Radio Stories That Won’t Let You Go (Audiobook)
  • Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World (Audiobook)
  • Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds (Audiobook)
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • Exoplanets : Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life beyond Our Solar System (Audiobook)
  • Astronomy: The Heavenly Challenge (Audiobook)
  • For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time – A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics (Audiobook)
  • Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos 
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Audiobook)
  • Born to Run
  • Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author
  • Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War’s Greatest Untold Story–The Epic Stand of the Marines of George Company (Audiobook)1441772758
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Audiobook)
  • The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion
  • Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc (Audiobook)
  • Tom Swift in the City of Gold (Audiobook)
  • Hidden Warships: Finding World War II’s Abandoned, Sunk, and Preserved Warships
  • Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life. (Audiobook)
  • The Call of the Wild (Audiobook)
  • Of Mice and Men (Audiobook)
  • Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery
  • Lost Ballparks
  • Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy #1)
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)

The last time a total eclipse passed over the continental United States was February 1979. I was in college and used a pinhole projector to view it from my front yard. From my vantage point in Rhode Island, it was a magnitude .70.

I was awestruck.

It’s been 38 years, but when I learned that another total eclipse would pass over the country this summer, I knew I had to experience totality. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event


I spent a year planning my umbral experience. I looked over all the maps, weather projections and event listings. I read scores of articles from experienced eclipse-viewers. I located resources to provide information on locations, events and weather. Ultimately, my goal was to locate a place that provided cloudless skies and good highways running east and west (in case I had to get out from under clouds).

I considered going out west to Wyoming or Idaho, where clear skies were almost a certainty. When I factored in my budget, I realized I could not realistically travel that far. I needed some place that was within a couple of day’s drive from Massachusetts. That brought my planning to the east coast.

I looked at South Carolina, but the unpredictable weather near the coast was a non-starter. As I traced the path of totality backwards to the west, I briefly contemplated trying a location in the Great Smoky Mountains. This might provide an elevated view west of the mountain range where I could see the moon’s shadow racing across Tennessee. But I quickly dismissed this idea when I looked at long-range weather patterns. They’re called the smoky mountains for a reason.

I finally settled on the area that included Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois. This area met my criteria, and included the largest city in the path of totality – Nashville. Once I saw the cost of flights from Boston to Nashville, the idea of driving was done. It was faster, cheaper and easier to fly and rent a car, than to drive.

My family decided to join me and we started making plans in earnest. When I travel, I like to factor in some extra time in case of flight delays or cancellations so we planned to arrive the Saturday before the eclipse. Nashville is a city of 600,000 people. It has thousands of hotel rooms, restaurants and entertainment venues. We’d have something to do while we waited.

We booked rooms, flights and the car way back in February. I think we beat the rush because the hotel rate was very reasonable – about a third of the rates that were being charged a few weeks before the eclipse.

I ordered our ISO-compliant eclipse glasses and a set of maps. On one map, I traced out the path of totality through Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. Based on the highways and last-minute weather forecast, I could use my map to adjust our viewing point to ensure we could find clear skies.

As it turned out, I was not the only person planning to view the eclipse. Over a million others chose Nashville as their eclipse-viewing site. When we arrived two days before the big event, the airport was insane. The car rental agency had pulled in cars from all over the country but still could not keep up with demand. They couldn’t find our car, so they just handed us the keys to another (larger) vehicle and sent us on our way.

Every hotel room in Nashville was booked. The restaurants and bars were busy and both special “eclipse shows” at the Grand Ole Opry were sold out.

I did not consider that all these great east-west highways would end up being bumper-to-bumper in the days and hours leading up to the event. Those million-plus visitors to the Nashville area pretty much meant we weren’t going anywhere in case of poor weather. It was Nashville or bust.IMG_4764

I watched the weather reports closely with fingers crossed. The forecast was mostly sunny with some clouds bubbling up from the afternoon heat. The TV weather forecaster suggested the eclipse might slow the formation of those clouds.

Experiencing Totality

At 11:58 CDT I put on my glasses and looked up at the sun….nothing. I waited a few minutes and checked again, and now I could discern a small, curved chunk missing from the upper right quadrant of the Sun.

It was happening. Over the next hour or so, I checked back regularly and, as the the moon obscured more and more of the sun, I made note of some interesting changes happening around me.

I was sitting in the shade under some trees and noticed the projection of the partial eclipse on the ground. All over the bricks at my feet were tiny images of the partial eclipse. The leaves were acting as pinhole projectors. This was my second time in the penumbra but this was going to be dramatically different. No pinhole projector for me, I was using my glasses to watch this celestial event directly and this time, I was in the path of totality.

With about 30 minutes to go, I noticed a busy breeze kicking up. I did not notice a dramatic temperature drop, but I think the eclipse prevented the usual temperature climb in the early afternoon. It didn’t get cool, but it never got hot either.

I had friends in Oregon and Wyoming so I kept up with their experiences on social media. They posted pictures of the 360 degree sunset and totality. The moon’s shadow was sweeping across the country at 1,800 mph. I was getting really excited.

Things started to look…a little….weird as we got closer and closer to totality. The quality of light changed. There were crisper shadows and a slight dimming of the light around us. It felt like there was a very slight yellow cast to everything.

The place we were observing announced that they had turned off the light sensors so our view should not be obscured by a host of street lights turning on during the eclipse. About two minutes before totality, it was looking like dusk. It was getting darker by the second. The lights at the shopping mall across the street came on, which elicited a roar from the crowd.

As the moon’s shadow raced towards us, nearly upon us, I realized the cicadas had stopped their incessant chirping. That sound is so ubiquitous, it’s absence was obvious. As the moon fully blocked the sun, it was as if someone had turned out the lights. The difference between 99% and 100% is dramatic – it has to be seen to be believed.

We were in the umbra. A huge cheer went up from the crowd – and then it was quiet as people stared, slack-jawed at the sight above them.265510main_aug1totality1_full_full-0

The sky was dark blue – not black like at night but still quite dark. I scanned the sky for planets and stars. I was hopeful to see Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter in addition to Betelgeuse. We had some clouds overhead and I could easily find Venus but the other objects were either not visible or hidden behind the clouds.

The image of a total eclipse is incredible. It looks just like the pictures but it’s real. It’s hanging in the sky overhead. I can only imagine how terrifying this must have been to the ancients who had no understanding of what was happening.

Totality is fast – we were expecting about 2 minutes and it goes by in what feels like a few heartbeats. The first rule of observing a total eclipse, from many different sources, is “Don’t photograph the eclipse” just experience it. That was good advice. Two minutes is not much time…and it feels like it’s over in a fraction of that time.

Near the end, a large cloud slowly obscured the sun, costing us about 20 seconds of totality. And then, even hidden behind that cloud, the lights came back on. It was over….the light returned. It was that fast….back to 99%, 98%, 97% the cicadas started their infernal racket again…and all returned to normal.

Suddenly, everyone around me was talking. I heard snatches of conversation: “wow,” “awesome,” “unbelievable,” “incredible.”

And it was all those things. A total eclipse is something to be experienced. It’s hard to explain how it feels – you really just have to be there.


I teach eclipses as part of Lowell’s 8th grade Planetary Science unit. I’ve taught eclipses every year I’ve been a teacher. It’s a standard I enjoy teaching, and now, I can’t wait to teach it again.

I feel much better prepared to teach this learning target having experienced a total eclipse. It’s not that I’ll teach the content in a different or better way, but now I can infuse those lessons with my personal, first-hand experience. It will add an emotional component to, what many students consider to be dry content. My experience can serve as a hook to ignite my students collective imagination.

I will encourage them, as I encourage everyone, to get into totality. We have another total eclipse in the United States in 2024. And this one will pass through Northern New England – not too far to go for a once-in-a-lifetime (maybe twice) experience.

Go – get into the umbra. Experience totality. Marvel at the grand beauty of these unique celestial mechanics.

If you live in Haverhill, Massachusetts for more than 15 minutes, someone will undoubtedly bring you up to speed on the most notable of Haverhill’s claims to fame:

  • Hannah Duston and her newborn daughter were captured by Abenaki people during King William’s War in 1697. Hannah escaped, killing and scalping ten of the Native family members who had been holding the two of them hostage.
  • Haverhill is the birthplace of poet and abolitionist, John Greenleaf Whittier. Whittier is best known for his book Snow-Bound and his anti-slavery writings.
  • The Archie comics were based in Haverhill. The author, Bob Montana, was from Haverhill and the students and faculty of Haverhill High inspired the characters in the Archie comics.
  • Louis B Mayer – of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) fame – got his start in Haverhill. In 1907, Mayer purchased a theater in Haverhill, and within a few years, owned and controlled the largest theater chain in New England. Also, scenes from the 2015 movie Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, were filmed in Haverhill.

The Hollywood-Haverhill connection is where we will find our story. There is, in fact, a second, less well known Haverhill-Hollywood connection. It’s a story that links together Haverhill, alleged ax-murder Lizzie Borden, President Theodore Roosevelt, the United States Supreme Court, a naval destroyer and, of course, Hollywood.

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

So goes the skipping-rope rhyme’s description of the murders. In the 1800’s version of the “trial of the century,” very few facts are uncontested. What we know for sure is Andrew and Abby Borden were killed in the home they shared with 32-year-old daughter Lizzie. Each victim suffered multiple ax blows, but not nearly as many as the rhyme suggests. Lizzie was charged and, in a spectacle that was the 19th-century version of the OJ Simpson trial, ultimately acquitted. No one else was ever charged with the crime.

Newspaper reports at the time blamed the acquittal on a botched police investigation, incompetent prosecution, and a judge biased in favor of the defense. The one shining star to emerge from this legal morass was junior prosecutor William H. Moody.

Moody had been elected city solicitor of Haverhill in 1888 and Eastern District Attorney in 1890. According to his Wikipedia page, Moody’s work in the Lizzie Borden case was “generally acknowledged as the most competent and effective of the attorneys on either side.”

Moody was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1895 and served until President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him Secretary of the Navy in 1902. After two years IMG_4470running the Navy, Roosevelt tapped him to be Attorney General, where Moody served until 1906. The President turned to Moody a third time, nominating him to the Supreme Court in December 1906. He served on the Supreme Court until ill health forced his retirement in 1910. He lived the rest of his days in Haverhill, passing away in 1917.

William H. Moody is remembered in Haverhill by the naming of Moody School. Moody’s office furnishings and some possessions are held by the Haverhill Historical Society at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill. The U.S. Navy named a destroyer, the USS Moody (DD-277), for him in 1919.

The USS Moody was built in Quincy, Massachusetts and was one of the 156 ship Clemson-class of destroyers. This was not the most successful design in naval history. The shipsh98927 had a large turning radius, making them less than optimal for anti-submarine warfare; they tended to roll heavily in rough seas, and their design resulted in wet and slippery decks.

The USS Moody was in active service on and off between 1920 until its retirement in 1930. Her superstructure – the part of the ship above the main deck – was sold for scrap in 1931 and the ship’s hull was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. And now we’ve come full circle, back to Haverhill’s Louis B. Mayer.

MGM used the hull in the filming of 1933’s Hell Below, rebuilding the superstructure to resemble a German destroyer. At the end of the movie, the ship is torpedoed by an American submarine and sinks. To simulate this, charges were placed at critical points in the Ex-Moody’s hull and detonated for the cameras.

This makes the USS Moody unique in two ways: First, footage of the sinking was used in the movie and still exits and second, the wreck has become a popular dive site on the west coast.

There you have it (feel free to read this in your best Paul Harvey voice), the rest of the story. Haverhill’s forgotten link to Hollywood by way of an ax-murderer, a President, the Supreme Court and the United States Navy.

I love seeing photo galleries of life hacks. You know, those uber-creative solutions to life’s little challenges – things that just make your life easier. I have to say, there are some really, really creative people in the world. Some of the things they come up with are brilliant.

I’m only somewhat creative so I only have three, but they’re pretty good and, most importantly, they work for me. Maybe they’ll work for you.

Unexpected consequences. 

When our kids were young, we didn’t recycle. Not one little bit. As a result, we threw away everything – bottles, cans, jars, cardboard boxes, paper…everything. We used to need to empty the kitchen trash every night – it was usually full and couldn’t be compressed anymore, so out it went. Now, all that stuff goes in the recycling bin.IMG_4256

With that huge volume of recyclable materials not going in the trash, and with two fewer people living in the house, the kitchen trash doesn’t fill up nearly as fast. We empty it about twice a week. What that means is that it begins to smell. All the bones, leftover food, eggshells, coffee grounds and such…just begin to stink within a few days. I know, we could empty it every night but it seems wrong to bring a 12 gallon trash bag out to the can with 12oz of garbage in it.

We started reusing gallon ziplock bags, coffee cans, empty jars, etc and put all the garbage in those. We can close it up, toss it in the kitchen trashcan and, voila! no smell.

How old is that salsa?

Ever reach back into the far recess of the ‘fridge for that half-empty jar of pasta sauce and wonder; “How long has this been here? Is it still good?”IMG_4257

I did, and I did it a lot. So I started writing the dates we open stuff on the lid before it disappears behind the milk. Now, we know exactly when we opened it..and can better gauge whether it’s okay to use or toss.

Wrinkles be gone.

When we remodeled our laundry room, we lost a really convenient place to hang clothes. So we improvised. We hung a towel rack from the ceiling. We keep hangers there and IMG_4258now, when something needs to be hung up right from the washer or dryer, we have a handy, out of the way place to put them. It’s behind the door so even with a week’s worth of scrubs and polo shirts hanging, it’s still out of the way (in a pretty small room).

So, that’s the limit to my creative life hacks. They work for me…make my life easier. Maybe, they’ll work for you. Do you have life hacks to share? Write a comment below…

It’s not you it’s me.

I’ve changed. I’ve grown as a person and this is just not working for me anymore.

We’re on two different paths right now.

Maybe we can just keep it casual – not like a regular thing.

I’m going to have to start listening to something else.

Boston radio, I’m moving on to audiobooks.

You know how things change in such incremental ways over time? So slowly, that you might not notice? Like a child who gets taller every day, but it’s only when you’ve not seen that child for a while that you realize he’s a full two inches taller than before.

That’s how I feel about Boston radio. The changes have been so slow, so incremental, that I didn’t notice what rubbish I have been listening too until I stepped back and took a break.

For two years, I had a daily 2-to-3 hour commute. When I started, I promised myself I’d make good use of the time. I’ve always enjoyed audiobooks, so I decided to invest that time in listening to books that I’d probably never have time to actually read. For two years, I averaged 30+ books a year in the car.  $_32

Now, I have a more normal commute and I can’t stand what I’m hearing. I took a break, stepped back from Boston radio and its like a pre-teen’s growth spurt, but backwards.

I’ve had three go-to stations on my radio presets for decades. WRKO – talk radio, WEEI – sports talk, and WXRV – the River (my source for new music).


When I think back to the heyday of WRKO – with Clapprood and Whitley, Gene Burns and Gerry Williams I am appalled at the dribble that is broadcast today. It’s been a long decline – ’RKO lost their news staff about ten years ago and they went to a traffic reporting service instead of having their own people. On-air hosts left and were replaced by people who were less talented or just cast in the wrong roles. Then, those people left and were replaced with even less talented or even worse fits than the folks they replaced.

WRKO’s last big star was Howie Carr. From his days as a guest on the Jerry Williams show – the Governors, to his man-on-the-street interviews “Hi Cap’n,”  to his legendary death pool, I have always found him funny and entertaining. Now, I can’t even listen to him anymore – it’s like going to a Donald Trump rally every single day.

The long decline of talk radio has hit bottom. It’s so disappointing.


I’ve been listening to WEEI since they were at 590am. I listened through the change to 850am. I was there, in the car when they gave a play-by-play of Nancy Kerrigan’s Olympic skating performance (Really, Dale Arnold doing figure skating play-by-play over the radio). The Quality Hang with Steve Buckley was appointment listening on weekend mornings as long as it lasted. I suffered through The Big Show shouting matches that sounded a lot like the platform at the Park Street Station at rush hour. I remember fist-pumping the news of Eddie Andelman’s departure from the station.

(BTW: Eddie Andelman was a guy who looked down on every other person he ever met. He always seemed to think he was the smartest guy in the room. He hated when people would talk to him at the station. When I worked at Entercom (2000-2003) I used to give Eddie a big, bright and cheerful “Hello Eddie!” every time I saw him, just to force him to grunt an acknowledgement of another human being).

Dennis & Callahan eventually inherited the morning show. I never cared for the show – I never cared for the hosts. I have never met two people who were more full of themselves than John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. I knew it from my own interactions with them (Ugh) and it came across loud and clear on the air. Now that Dennis has shot his way off the station, the show has morphed into a calamity of inside jokes, bickering, trash-talking the competition pile of stinking dung I can not stomach anymore – not even for short stretches (Like when WBZ is airing commercials).

WXRV – The River

I’de be willing to bet most River listeners can’t remember the call sign of their favorite station. They just call it The River. This is my go-to station for music. I love what they play. I love the unpredictability of the playlist – although I think its a lot more predictable now than it was, say ten years ago.

What I can’t stand is Dana Marshall in the mornings. Okay, I can’t stand her on Sunday mornings or even when she did mid-days. It’s her voice. Have you ever met someone who is working sooooo hard to sound nice and kind and sweet that it comes across as an off-brand of artificial sweetener? It’s not just that it sound like Sweet ’n Low, but it sounds like the off-brand in the pink packets some restaurants hope you will mistake as the real thing. i.e. Fake artificial sweetener.

That’s Dana. I’ve been listening to her for a long time – on-and-off as she’s moved from DJ to program director/DJ, then off the air for a long time, and now back again.  I just can’t take the fake artificial sweetener anymore.

Last week, I started listening to audiobooks again. I’ve already finished one and am hunting for my next book. It’s just a better listening experience than my old standby radio stations.

We’ve whipped around the sun again and it’s time to take stock of my reading for 2016.

I start each year with several goals:

  • Read a minimum of 20 books,
  • Read at least one classic,
  • Read one book about baseball.

Because I stopped doing my stupidly long commute, my total is significantly down from 2015.

My classics were limited to the sci-fi genre: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I found The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to be silly and weird but, for 410bnolmnol-_sx331_bo1204203200_some reason, my mind keeps wandering back to it. Maybe that’s part of what makes it a classic. More about The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress below.

I never got around to reading a book about baseball. I guess nothing struck me as a must-read. I’ll have to make up for that in 2017. I did gift two baseball books to family members: Zim: A Baseball Life and Shoeless Joe (the book Field of Dreams is based on) because both are excellent and are must-reads for baseball fans.

This was my year of reading books about astronauts. I read three: A Journal for Christa: Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space, Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe. I didn’t intend to read three astronaut biographies, it just happened that way.

I read A Journal for Christa beacuse, working at Christa McAuliffe Charter School I felt I needed to know more about this remarkable woman. It’s not great, but I think it ought to be required reading for staff at the school. The books about Sally Ride and Mike Massimino were excellent.

I had the unique experience of reading a book that was, in small part, about me or, more accurately, about some work I did in the 1990’s. I had known Shadow Divers Exposed: The Real Saga of the U-869 existed, but had always assumed it was sour grapes from one wreck 41qpc6chpal-_sx301_bo1204203200_diver about the work, and media success, of another diver. I was wrong. It was really about setting the recored straight about who should have been given credit for uncovering the identity of a World War II German U-boat that was discovered off the coast of New Jersey. As it turns out, I assisted significantly in that effort but was not given credit. Who knew?

The best books I read in 2016?

Both were fiction: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. These were both outstanding. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress provides ample evidence that Robert A. Heinlein was a master of the sci-fi genre. It was an absolute joy to read and I 51hayo7qynlthink about it surprisingly often. I read and enjoyed Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising about World War III in the 1980’s. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War is the 21st century version of that novel. It takes place 20 to 30 years from now is about a geopolitical showdown between China and Russia one one side and the United States on the other side. Lots of ships and marines – it was great – and scary.

This was also my year to reach out to authors and have them respond. I tweeted to Lynn Sherr author of Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space and she tweeted back to me.

I contacted Andy Weir who wrote The Martian and Sam Kean author of The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements. Both of the writers agreed to sign my copies of their amazing books. There are days, I love the internet.

Here’s my complete list of the books I read in 2016:

Time’s Eye (Time Odyssey) (Audiobook)

Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (Audiobook)

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Audiobook)

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi (Audiobook)

Scared to Death: Do it Anyway

Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College

A Journal for Christa: Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space

A Cruise Ship Primer: History & Operations

The Darkest Hour: A Novel

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files)

Red Desert – Point of No Return

Where Divers Dare: The Hunt for the Last U-Boat

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

Shadow Divers Exposed: The Real Saga of the U-869

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space51bvtanlvil

Stories of Your Life and Others

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Voyeur’s Motel

Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War