25 May

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I’ll be at ThrillFest XII in New York City from July 11 – 15.  ThrillFest is the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers.

The life of George Armstrong Custer

25 Jan
Here is a brief dictated review of “Custer’s Trials:”

custerThis is a brilliant book, the author makes use of primary sources to reveal a multi layered portrait of George Custer and his wife. I loved this book. It presents a fascinating inside look at Custer’s life at West Point, his early career on the staff of George McClellan, and his brilliant career as a civil war cavalry general. The book also provides fascinating insight into Civil War operations . Please excuse the auto dictation. Most important, the book provides detailed explanation and history and culture of the American Indian tribes, and their evolution to mounted tribes in the west, and the economic and environmental dynamics of the frontier. I came away from this book not seeing Custer as hero or villain, but as a complex man of his time, caught between Republicans and Democrats, the old world and the new, the west and Wall Street, in a new world with freed slaves. Highly recommend. I found the narrative concerning his widow, Libby, to be extremely moving. She relocated to New York City after her husband’s death at Little Big Horn, became a writer, as her husband was, only better, and died on Park Avenue in 1930. 

Hello again.

11 Oct

Hello again,

I’ve noticed that every few days people read my blog, and I feel badly that I don’t post much. People visit from all over the world!  And for what?  A post that’s two months old?


The data table reflects the visitors so far this year.  I wish I knew who all these people from Brazil are. Why not send me a message? And I hope you guys in Russia aren’t hackers!  (JK).  Hola Mexico y Espana! Ciao, Italia! Hey you dudes from Romania!

I create blog posts and social media posts every day for my day job at Sea Education Association, and I guess I neglect my own site.  I do write monthly stories for Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine, but don’t think those articles are right for this blog… However, if you want to read about Cape Cod businesses, go to their website and you can read my articles. I also write art and theater reviews for the Cape Codder, which I sometimes share…

It occurred to me that I am very active on Goodreads, and there’s a link from this website to my Goodreads blog.  I think it works.  Maybe you have to have a Goodreads account, I’m not sure.  Try it out.  Anyway, this year I have been keeping track of all the books I read and listen to  (I drive every day to Woods Hole so have lots of time to listen to books in the car).  I keep track of these books on the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I write a very brief review of the books I read – just a paragraph or two so I can remember what I liked about the book.  So far this year I have read 38 books.  (Goodreads thinks I have read 39 books, but one of them, the Common Reader by Virginia Woolf – highly recommended – was actually read prior to 2016.)  I also try to comment on how good the reader was.  Sometimes the book is very good but the reader does something silly like speak in a very high voice imitating a woman, or gives the same accent to all the foreign characters.  Sometimes the reader is great.  I was listening to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and kept thinking, this reader really captured the Southern tomboy voice of the narrator – turns out it was Sissy Spacek.

Anyway, here are the books I’ve read or listened to so far:




You can see I mix fiction and nonfiction, “literary” and popular, and throw in some humor and business / self help as well. I think the more you read the more varied your reading list becomes.  But I definitely steer toward WW2 spy thrillers.  Anyway, I thought I’d start writing about some of these books in posts to come…

Meanwhile, please continue to read my blog, and please send me comments so I know who you are, and what you are doing in Brazil, and Indonesia, and Italy.

Ciao for now.





Book signing

22 Jul

I’ll be signing books at Yellow Umbrella Books on Main Street in Chatham this Sunday, from 1 – 3 p.m!  Please drop by.



A Medical Curiosity

7 Jun

Here’s a story I wrote for Cape Cod Healthcare’s new health blog…

IMG_3782It’s called “A Medical Curiosity.

Herring, anyone?

6 May


I interviewed a herring researcher last weekend for the Provincetown Banner.  This is what I found out

Alcott unlocks the mysteries of Wellfleet herring

WELLFLEET — Derrick Alcott, a graduate student at UMass-Amherst, likes slogging through the marshes of Wellfleet.

He’s working on his doctoral dissertation on the migration of spawning herring, who face numerous challenges in their annual journey from saltwater to fresh — everything from hungry snapping turtles to physical barriers like road crossings and dikes.

Alcott says he chose the topic because he’s interested in subjects like fish biology, the physics of water flow and the interactions of different organisms. He also likes working in the field, and applying complex analytics.

“Being able to work with all those things is what really drew me to the project,” Alcott says.

So from March through July, seven days a week, he gets up and goes into the field to study Wellfleet’s herring. This is his third season. He’s learned a lot about Wellfleet herring and has developed several hypotheses that he’s in the process of testing.

This year has seen an unusual herring run, he says.

“This year was weird in two ways,” says Alcott. First, probably owing to the warm winter, the fish showed up “crazy early,” in mid-March. That’s a month earlier than previous years. Then, due to the subsequent cold snap and snow, the run stopped. Eventually the fish returned, and now it appears that the run is larger than usual. But Alcott suspects that the cold weather has now resulted in more herring arriving in a more condensed time frame.

In his research so far, he’s made one overarching observation: every time a fish approaches a structure, such as a dike, it stops. “They go back and forth, back and forth, before they cross the barrier.”

He’s also observed that fish that show up early, in mid-April, seem to be more likely to make it to the spawning grounds and survive to return to the ocean.

He thinks the reason is that the pressure from predators is not as great early in the season. Also, unlike salmon, herring come back every year. Alcott has a theory that older fish come back earlier. “They have it figured out.”

Striped bass, the main predator downstream as the herring enter the run, are less abundant in April, too. Upstream the main predators seem to be raccoons, snapping turtles and possibly river herring. Early in the season, Alcott theorizes, these predators haven’t yet figured out the best spots to hunt. “But later in the season they’re hitting them pretty hard,” says Alcott.

Alcott discovered that snapping turtles eat a lot of herring. In the ponds they can’t catch them. But at the choke points, look out. Snapping turtles position themselves inside the culverts, narrow concrete pipes that allow water to flow under roads, and stay there all day.

“All of a sudden it gets a whole lot easier when a herring has to swim right over its head,” Alcott says. “It’s basically a feeding tube.”

Alcott uses PITs (passive integrated tags) to track the movements of the herring. The tags are similar to EZ Pass technology and the digital inserts people use to find cats and dogs. He has detectors set up all along the herring run, including at all road crossings and at the entrance to spawning grounds. He’s discovered one area between Route 6 and Old King’s Highway, near Black Pond, where the herring disappear. To better understand this mysterious disappearance, he searched the area with a scanner, but found only one tag.

“They’ve almost certainly been eaten by predators,” said Alcott. He suspects that the fish are eaten at a place where the river gets very shallow and narrow, just upstream of Black Pond. “Raccoons appear to be the biggest culprit.”

Alcott is excited about the current efforts to restore the Herring River estuary.

“The salt marsh is one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, up there with tropical rain forests and coral reefs,” he says.

He looks forward to the rich ecosystem that will result.

Night of New Works

2 May

newworksI’ll be reading from SLEEPER CELL on Friday and Saturday evening at the Academy of Performing Art’s Night of New Works… in Orleans, Mass.