50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

This is Hike #43 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on May 17, 2020.

Since March I have been eager to continue my hikes from the 50 Hikes book. State parks finally re-opened, so I picked an easy hike nearby to begin. After refreshing my knowledge of the two hikes in Tiger Bay State Forest, I headed out after lunch. The day was party overcast and a warm 82°F.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

The first of two hikes was on the old Pershing Highway. This brick and pebbled concrete trail lies on the remains of an old road built in 1920 (the pebbled edges added later) to connect DeLand and Daytona Beach. I signed in and set off.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

The trail had five “audio posts” that provided short narratives about the history of the trail and surrounding environment. I had read about the trail beforehand so I didn’t take the time to listen—but they are a good idea.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

Once past the trailhead gate, the first section of the trail saw the best of the old roadway. The brickwork was intact and the edges straight. It took a slight left turn almost immediately.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

The area was pretty, but not especially scenic; the walk was interesting more for its historical reasons. The old highway ran mostly parallel to the current highway, International Speedway Boulevard, so traffic could be heard during the entire walk. I never could see any cars through the thick Spring undergrowth. The distance was indicated with marker posts every quarter-mile.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

I passed a couple on bicycles who were traveling in the opposite direction, the only people I saw on the trail. Shortly past the 1/2-mile marker there was a small bridge, but on this day there was no water running under it. Just beyond, the trail curved to the right.

I continued on. Not far past the 3/4-mile marker, the grass and weeds increased significantly through the bricks. It was almost as if someone had weeded the trail to this point then abruptly quit. When the road took a big turn to the right, I knew I was near the end.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

After the bend I reached the the 1-mile marker and then the end of the road and trail.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

Near the end was new bench and a kiosk. Six photos and their captions told about the construction of the road, begun with the pouring of limerock in 1918. This highway was part of a triangle connecting DeLand to Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway End

The brick road ended abruptly with the pebbled edges extending slightly farther into the underbrush. I walked the left-side edge as far as I could until it, too, ended.

Taking a brief rest, I took a photo from the road’s end (below) and I began the mile-plus walk back.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

On the way back I picked up my pace, stopping fewer times to take photos. I did see one curved stretch I liked so I stopped. Here I spotted a large grasshopper crossing the trail which I managed to photograph before it disappeared into the underbrush.

At this point it was a sunny mid-afternoon and I could feel the heat from the brick road during the last straight stretch. Not much father to go.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest

I exited the trail just as another man was beginning and we said our Hellos. The entire hike had taken just under an hour to complete.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway Route

After a quick rest to post photos and take a long drink from my bottle of water (I didn’t carry any on the trail), I started the car and drove to the next location in Tiger Bay State Forest.

When I arrived, the fee box was closed with a sign saying that the park was free to use today. I parked and walked the short distance to the Buncombe Hill Trail. I signed in, then started the hike at Marker 1 (Indian Lake, a sinkhole lake).

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest
50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest

This trail is a 2.1 mile loop with lime-green blazes and numbered markers (for different ecosystems). Almost immediately I passed Marker 2 (scrub community) and reached Marker 3 (transition zone to an oak hammock).

This was a pretty, shaded section of trail with a smooth floor of leaves. Many of the trees showed signs of a fairly recent (controlled) burn. I passed Marker 4 which indicated the area of slash pine plantings. The trees appeared in rows because they were planted in 1994 when this area was a timber farm.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest

At a double-track trail I saw two large dogs roaming free, their owner reading a book on a bench. They didn’t bark or approach, but simply watched me walk by. At the 1-mile point of the hike I reached the northernmost part of the loop at the Buncombe Hill Turpentine Camp and Marker 5. The trail crossed and recrossed the wide, sandy Rima Ridge Road and headed south. Here was more evidence of a recent burn.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest

I reached Marker 6 indicating an area where the Eastern Gall Rust fungus grows on the sand pines, according to the brochure. From there it was a sunny half-mile hike to complete the loop.

The book suggested that the boardwalk on Indian Lake was part of the hike, so I walked out on the brand-new-looking red pier jutting into the water. The lake surface was glassy, reflecting the white clouds between the lily-pads.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Indian Lake

When I returned to my car, I found that another MINI had parked next to me. It was a rare Solid Gold MINI Cooper with a South Carolina plate. I did not meet the owner, unfortunately.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest MINIs
50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Buncombe Hill Route

Post-Hike Beer

After my hike and a shower I headed up to the rooftop terrace to enjoy my traditional post-hike beer, this time a refreshing Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Beer

The Loft Library Turns Two

The Loft Library 2018

I had often read about The Little Free Library project where people build small boxes and fill them with books for anyone to borrow (or keep). The idea is that people donate books so that others can read them.

In February 2018, when my neighbor Lisa suggested we start a small library for the residents of our building, I quickly agreed. We took over the shelf above the mailboxes in the building’s lobby. She created a sign and I contributed some metal bookends. Together we seeded the initial inventory from our spare books. On March 1st we started with an initial collection of 26 books, shelved by author.

Over the next two years, the library’s collection grew and changed many times. Residents borrowed and added books. We eventually added DVDs and computer software. The collection changed and was rearranged so often that I finally gave up alphabetizing them. It seems our little Loft Library has been very successful.

The Loft Library 2020

Cars, Beers, and Books

When I last saw Steve Berry at The BookMark in January, he announced that he would be back on March 6, 2020 for his new book The Warsaw Protocol. Last time, I left work at 5:00 pm and arrived at the bookstore just in time for the talk. This time I decided to leave work at noon and spend the afternoon in Jacksonville beforehand.

My car was originally sold by Porsche Jacksonville. I didn’t get any service history when I bought the car and I hoped that the Jacksonville dealership would have it. So my first stop was to visit the Service department. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any records after the initial sales preparation. I did buy a shirt in the shop, so I didn’t leave empty-handed.

Porsche Jacksonville

While there, I had a walk around the cat lot. They had all of the new 911s, 718 Boxsters and Caymans, Panameras, Cayennes, and Macans, as well as an interesting variety of used Porsches. Along the street were several other brands including a rare Karma Revero.

Karma Revero

There were many 911 models to choose from.

Porsche 911 Lineup

While wandering the lot, a man drove in with his Porsche Boxster Spyder 987 (a special edition Boxster). The car was probably 9-10 years old but in excellent condition. I like the side stripes a lot, maybe a future addition to my car?

Porsche Boxster Spyder 987
Porsche Boxster Spyder 987

Business and pleasure finished, I headed east toward Atlantic Beach to Reve Brewing (pronounced “rev”). I had heard about this new brewery from some craft-beer friends and had tasted one of their beers. But I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. The brewery was fairly small and located in a strip mall.

Reve Brewing
Reve Brewing

The place was fairly crowded for an early Friday afternoon. The interior was a combination of modern industrial and old-fashioned. The beer menu was entirely trendy. Reve specializes in three styles of beer: IPAs, sours, and imperial stouts—the current popular styles. However, I did notice a different recent addition, a Mexican lager (whatever that means) called Conejo Especial, and ordered a “taster” size. It was good.

Reve Brewing Beer

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I would like next. I asked the bartender, Joey, what the least hoppy IPA was and he returned with two samples. The first one, called Feed Your Head, was very bitter and not to my liking. However, the second one, called A Bit Too Leisurely, was dry hopped and not bitter at all but rather citrus-like. It might be the first IPA that I genuinely like. I ordered a taster size and really enjoyed it.

Finally, I purchased a crowler of their Along the Cherry Lane, a sour with cherries and dragonfruit. I will take this to the next beer-share at Red Pig Brewing.

Before I drank any more beer, I need some (late) lunch so I drove south towards Jacksonville Beach and picked up some fast food to-go. I headed next to Green Room Brewing a few blocks away. I had been there once in September 2018 and liked the place.

Green Room Brewing

I ordered a flight of four beers and found a table with my food. The bartender, Brendan, was a graduate of Embry-Riddle so we had a good chat about that.

Green Room Brewing Beers

I drank the beers in order (right-to-left in the photo). The flavors were OK, but the common characteristic was that they were thin and with low carbonation. I like my beer less filtered with a bit more bubbles. I still wanted to pick up a small crowler to bring home, so I ordered one of the Count Shakula, a chocolate oatmeal stout.

Next I headed north to Neptune Beach where the book signing would take place. I was early, so after snagging a parking spot in front of the bookstore I had a walk around town. I also walked the one block down to the beach to pass some time. Neptune Beach is a beautiful area with many good shops, restaurants, and bars. The nearby houses and condos are very nice with well-kept landscaping. It’s somewhere I could happily live, for sure.

Neptune Beach Trail
Neptune Beach
Neptune Beach Orange Street

It was time to get back to The BookMark in order to purchase a book and get a good seat. The shop is very nice, but rather small, so it was best to get there early.

The BookMark Bookstore

At 7:00 pm Steve Berry and his wife Elizabeth arrived. He spoke for about 30 minutes about his new book The Warsaw Protocol and took questions from the audience. Near the end of his talk he announced that it would be his last time speaking at The BookMark because he and Elizabeth were moving to Orlando (from St. Augustine). Rona, the store owner, presented them with a brick that will be placed in front of the store.

After the talk, I quickly got in line to have my book signed. We briefly talked about Orlando and that there was only one independent bookstore (Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park) they we could think of. He signed my book while we took a photo and I was soon on my way back home.

Steve Berry and James Day

In total, it was an enjoyable day filled with my three favorite things: cars, beers, and books. I got to see some great cars, taste some delicious (and not so good) new beers, and meet (again) one of my favorite authors to get a book signed. I came home with some great souvenirs from the day.

Shirt, Beer, and Book

Well done, Jacksonville.

The Year of the Pig

Red Pig Brewery, to be precise. Red Pig Brewery officially opened on March 2, 2019, and I was there. I had been looking for a new local hangout when I heard about this new craft brewery opening just two miles from my place, in Holly Hill, Florida. I knew I had to visit for the grand opening.

I arrived at noon just as they opened. Inside, the brewery is long and narrow with windows lining the length of the long stone walls. The bar itself is made of three large pieces of reclaimed cypress wood. The kettles and fermenting tanks line the far end of the back wall. Opening day was sunny and warm so we could take advantage of the courtyard. They had a food truck parked out front.

Red Pig Brewery Grand Opening

I sampled several of the beers and eventually ordered three. I started with the Over Budget pale ale which I enjoyed despite it not being one of my favorite styles. I also ordered the Old Florida porter, one of my favorite beers to this day; this beer is a regular on the taplist. My favorite beer that day was the Mile 417 German Pilsner (not to be confused with the normal Czech Pilsner).

Red Pig Brewery Grand Opening
Red Pig Brewery Grand Opening

Robert “Red” Carson is the brewer and co-owner with his wife Angie. Red is a fan of Mikkeller, a brewery from Denmark, as evident from the five posters hanging in the brewery. His favored styles are Belgian lambics, sours, New England IPAs, and wild ales. All of his beers are unfiltered and vegan.

Red Pig Brewery Logo

The name Red Pig Brewery comes from the name of his grandfather’s barbecue restaurant in the 1930s on Main Street, Daytona Beach, called Red Pig. Note that the “Red Pig” in the logo is an ambigram, reading the same upside down. I recommend buying a glass or two as they have chosen special (metric) glasses to enhance their beer styles. This makes their pours odd sizes: the “pint” is 16.9 oz. (50 cl) and the stemmed glass is 11.6 oz. (33 cl). It gives the brewery a quirky, European flavor.

Red Pig Brewery Grand Opening
Red Pig Brewery Grand Opening

After a fun opening day and several delicious beers, I knew I would be back—probably often.

I did start going regularly. For the last three Saturdays that March, my old favorite food truck, Vitamina T, was serving authentic Mexican food. I have gotten to know the owner, his daughter, and their dog King over the years at various local breweries. I’ve enjoyed their huevos racheros, burritos, and tacos.

Throughout the Spring and Summer I continued to frequent the brewery. Many times I brought a book or my computer and worked at the end of the bar or at one of the outside tables.

In June, the brewery purchased a slushie machine. I don’t often drink them, but they are very popular. A good alternative to beer, for those who prefer frozen drinks.

After being trapped inside for several days during Hurricane Dorian in September, I was glad to see The Pig reopen as usual on Wednesday afternoon after the storm passed earlier that morning. They didn’t have any damage.

Like most craft breweries, Red Pig offers live music and an occasional comedy night. However, one Sunday in October the brewery hosted a local writer for a reading. Author Rhonda Browning White read from her new book The Lightness of Water & Other Stories. Her Southern accent and voice changes really brought the characters to life. I purchased a hardcover copy which she was happy to sign.

Red Pig Brewery Book Signing

You never know what will happen from one visit to the next. In November, Red and Angie messaged me that another local brewer had told them the story of a librarian who used to order a “beer suicide” which is a pint of beer filled with a combination of all of the beers on tap. They realized it was me. So the next time I stopped in Red Pig, I ordered one. Like before, everyone thought I was crazy but I explained that the end result can often be surprisingly good. So they poured me one and I then poured samples for others. Most were surprised that it was “not bad” so that became its name. I don’t think Red approves.

Red Pig Brewery Not Bad Beer

One night in December a new couple came to the brewery, the woman carrying an old Polaroid camera. It was such a novelty that people began gathering and chatting and snapping photos for souvenirs. I like this one taken by the excellent bartender Steno. Fortunately I took a digital photo of it because I left it on the bar and never got it back. We had so much fun that we all got invited to their Christmas party / surprise wedding (although I couldn’t go).

Red Pig Brewery Polaroid

For Christmas they placed a large tree inside the brewery. A few of us regulars strung the lights and added ornaments. I don’t like normal Christmas trees, but this one was different. I thought they should have kept it there permanently, but I suppose they needed the space. It was about this time that another regular donated a record player, speakers, and a stack of vinyl records. So during slower times, we get to choose the music and listen to real records. Earlier in December they removed the ceiling tiles which opened the space up and exposed the wooden beams making the room feel a bit bigger and less office-like.

Red Pig Brewery Christmas

Enter 2020. They weren’t open on New Year’s Eve, but I went in a few days later. The large windows give a clear view of the parking lot and on this night I noticed my car surrounded by two large trucks. So I walked outside to take this photo. It reminded me of the early days of parking my MINI Cooper somewhere only to find it later surrounded by much larger vehicles.

Red Pig Brewery Parking

On Super Bowl Sunday, I knew most bars would be crowded. But Red Pig Brewery doesn’t have a TV so I guessed it would not be too busy. I thought that surely there would be a few others who weren’t interested in the game and would be at the Pig. But I had the place to myself for a few hours, hanging out with Brent, Red, and Angie.

Red Pig Brewery Interior

Lately I have been regularly visiting on “Wild Ale Wednesday” when they crack open a different, sometimes expensive, bottle of wild-fermented ale. The night has slowly evolved into a beer exchange and tasting night with other regulars bringing in their latest acquisitions from out-of-town breweries. While I don’t often drink sours, I do enjoy a wild ale with its funky taste, usually produced by fermenting with a strain of brettanomyces. Wednesday is becoming my favorite night of the week.

In February Red Pig approached their one-year anniversary and threw a big party on Saturday, February 29 (due to their actual anniversary date falling on a Monday, a day they are closed). Just like opening day, this was a party I didn’t want to miss.

Red Pig Brewery One Year Anniversary Event

After attending another beer-related event in the afternoon, I arrived around 5:30 pm. The evening was sunny and cool and the brewery and courtyard were crowded. I found my friends and we enjoyed several beers in the courtyard. All of the regulars were there and I also met several new people. When I saw the group gathering for a photo, I ran to join. Later I wondered if it was a specific group photo and I crashed it, but was reassured that they were happy to include me. Strangely, it’s the only photo I have of the event because I did not take any photos myself. I just enjoyed the day instead. Thanks to Tim for posting it on his Facebook page.

Red Pig Brewey One Year Anniversary Group Photo

I don’t go out that often, but when I feel like getting out of my loft, Red Pig Brewery is where I go. Red, Angie, Steno, and Brent have become friends. I usually go there alone but I always see the regulars, some of whom have become new friends, as well. I meet someone new every week. It’s my second home. I’m truly happy for Red and Angie who are doing what they love and who have created a friendly and fun place where people can meet up, relax, talk to each other, and enjoy delicious beer. I hope Red Pig Brewery has many years of success.

If you want to read more about Red Pig Brewery, visit their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Untappd sites.

Bookface Friday

If you are a librarian into social media, you may have seen Bookface Friday posts. If not, I’ll briefly explain what a “bookface” is. A bookface is a photograph of a book jacket—usually the front cover but not always—lined up with a background in real life. Often the cover is a person’s face, but it could also be any body part. Sometimes they are not humans at all but rather animals, bookshelves, food, plants, and landscapes. We once used an airplane.

Bookface Friday was reportedly started in August 2014 by Morgan Holzer at the New York Public Library. Soon after, other librarians started posting their own images and the trend took off. They are usually posted to Instagram and Twitter on Fridays, thus the hashtag #BookfaceFriday.

Hunt Library where I work has been making bookfaces since 2016. They are created by our Social Media Team of which I am a member. Since 2018, I have appeared in four of these and worked behind the scenes on several others. They are fun to create.

The Daily Show (The Book) by Jon Stewart

Bookface The Daily Show

I’m not a fan of Jon Stewart and rarely watched his show (or anything, really) but enjoyed making this bookface in April 2018. They needed an older guy with a scruffy face so I was recruited. It came out well.

Hacking and Freedom of Information edited by Marcia Amidon Lüsted

Bookface Hacking and Freedom of Information

Anyone could have posed as the hacker for this but maybe because of the title, I was chosen. Not sure why they wanted me to make a peace sign, but there it is. Here are a couple of behind-the-scenes photos of the process. The photos were taken by our student assistant, Katie.

The Good Neighbor by Fred Rogers

Bookface The Good Neighbor

The Team needed a man with a grey cardigan sweater which describes me every day at work. This was a simple one to execute. I probably should have worn a black tie to really complete the cover’s look.

Old Bones by Preston & Child

Bookface Old Bones

The latest bookface we posted was for today, February 28, 2020. Here my colleague Jesper stands in for Douglas Preston (left) and I am Lincoln Child (right). We rarely edit the photos but in the original photo we were in front of a white wall. I wanted the background to match the dark grey behind the authors, so I edited the background to match the book’s and reduce the glare.

Bookface Old Bones (Unedited)

On the main #BookfaceFriday Instagram page, Hunt Library’s bookface of The Night Fire by Michael Connelly is being used for the profile photo. Out of 83,725 photos.

Instagram Bookface Friday Page

See many more fun #BookfaceFriday photos on Instagram and Twitter.

Best of Chris Harris 1

If you are a car enthusiast, you know about Chris Harris. If not, I’ll give you a brief biography. Harris is a race driver, automotive writer, and reviewer of cars. He has written for sites including Autocar, evo, and Jalopnik. He’s better known for his video reviews from THE DRIVE and then his own channel Chris Harris on Cars. He’s currently a presenter on the UK Top Gear, but still produces extra videos in his Chris Harris Drives series.

First, Harris is a great driver. He’s known for his drifting ability—which the kids love but I find a bit ridiculous—seen in all of his videos. But he can apex, as well. He’s a Porsche enthusiast and the car of his he talks about most is his 911 GT3.

He’s also a good writer. He’s knowledgeable and witty, using his cracking good British vocabulary and sense of humor. Once you’ve watched a few of his videos, you’ll begin to read his articles in his distinctive style. Am I enjoying it? Yes, I am.

But where Harris excels is his video car reviews. Here he gets to combine his driving skills, his car knowledge, his humor, and of course his drifting. Except for the latter, his reviews check all the right boxes for me.

So here are some of my favorite—or maybe I should say favourite—Chris Harris videos. Naturally they focus on Porsche and Mini/MINI.

The Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR

Here is perhaps the best (modified) street Porsche at the moment. Harris drives it on the track and gives his raving review. This is the car that once held the record for the fastest modified street car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Best line: “And of course your brain would say, ‘Shut up, mate, that’s ridiculous. I’m still clearing up the mess from my under-crackers after what that car just did to me’.”

The New Porsche 911 (992)

This video was from January 16, 2019 just after the introduction of the eighth-generation 2020 Porsche 911. Harris is a Porsche owner, so this review is great.

Best line: “But ultimately this is a 991 plus. Which means…a 992, I suppose.”

The Porsche 918 Spyder Tested

This video goes back to December 18, 2013, before Harris’s Top Gear days. Here’s a car that scares even Harris. He doesn’t really answer the question of why this car needed to be a plug-in hybrid.

Best line: “That’s right, the 918 is so clean even its petrol farts are pre-cleansed.”

The 2012 Porsche Boxster S

This video from March 14, 2012 is the closest review to the car I own. It was one that I reviewed when I was researching the purchase of a Cayman/Boxster. Harris likes several things about the Boxster over the 911. It sold me on the 981 Boxster.

Best line: “You drive the Boxster S with a six-speed manual gearbox like this, and you do think to yourself, what more car do I need? Do I need a faster car? Do I need a more agile car? Do I need a grippier car? You just don’t. This thing is brilliant.”

Mini Cooper S at Goodwood

Enough Porsche, let’s look at Chris Harris racing a classic Mini Cooper S at Goodwood on April 6-7, 2019. Harris, like many British car enthusiasts, says that his first car was a Mini. He can be just as enthusiastic driving smaller, slower cars. Probably my favorite Harris video.

Best line: “For me, when I was eighteen, that was the equivalent of a night with Heidi Klum, that was. Michelle Pfeiffer for the night or a pair of twin one-and-a-half SUs.”

Britain’s Best Handling Car 2006

This last video is a very early one, not posted by Harris or Top Gear. Is is a portion of the Autocar program Britain’s Best Handling Car 2006. In it he test-drives several cars including an R53 MINI Cooper S JCW GP and a 987 Porsche Cayman. I won’t spoil the result.

Best line: “And you do find yourself asking why anyone would want to bother with a 220-horsepower MINI with no backseats and still with a Toytown interior, but apart that we’re hacking along here not really being dropped by a 295-horsepower Porsche probably goes some way to explaining that.”

My First Porsche Service

Porsche South Orlando

Since last December, my Porsche has been warning me to get an “Interm. Service Now” every time turned the key. I wanted to have its first service done at the dealership, Porsche South Orlando, where I bought the car. It took several weeks before I found time to make the trip to Orlando.

The dealership makes it very easy to schedule a service appointment. Earlier in the week, I simply went to their website, entered my car information, and picked a day and exact time for my appointment. I didn’t need to speak to anyone.

Never certain what the highway construction and traffic will be like in Orlando, I left home early. The day was sunny and cool and there were no major delays, so I arrived about an hour early for my one o’clock appointment. No problem, they took me right away. Tony in Service was very friendly and helpful, answering several questions I had saved up since I bought the Boxster last June (2019).

Porsche Boxster and 911

After they inspected my car, Tony texted me a list of the primary and recommended services. Because my car still has low mileage, I opted only for the primary service which included an oil change, oil filter, two rings, and a sealing plug. They also topped off all fluids and set the tires to the correct pressure. Plus, they gave my car a complimentary car wash.

Porsche Boxster on Lift

While I waited, I had a look around the beautiful dealership. The modern building is spacious and spotless and filled with amazing cars, of course. The Service area was entirely visible through huge glass walls and saw my car on the lift. I always like to photograph my cars during servicing. Then I found a seat to read while I waited. My view was the rear of a pretty yellow Porsche 911 Speedster just inside the front door.

Porsche 911 Speedster 991

A little later I took another walk around the sales-floor and Parts department, and checked on the progress of my car, which was now off the lift.

Porsche Boxster in Service

The dealership was really promoting convertibles that day, with two more Porsche 911 Cabriolets in the front window.

Porsche 911 Convertibles

My car was soon finished and brought to the Service lobby area. I ordered a small part for the car which they said they will mail to me. Offhandedly, I asked Tony if there was a way to silence the loud and annoying double beep the car makes when you lock it with the key. He asked one of his service techs, who hooked up a computer to look for the setting. When he didn’t find it, he called in another “hacker” tech who was able to find the setting and disable the sound. Now I can lock my car silently. This “fix” alone was worth the price of service!

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Having service done at the dealership is certainly more expensive than going to a local mechanic. For my first service trip, I wanted to go back to Porsche South Orlando to get some of my questions answered, and for the peace-of-mind of having a certified mechanic work on the car. I’m still trying to locate the service history of my Boxster before I have any other service done.

Porsche Boxster at Porsche South Orlando

So about two and a half hours later, I headed home in my newly serviced, modified, and washed Porsche. I couldn’t be happier with the car and Porsche South Orlando.

How to De-Google

I have used many Google products in the past. Of course, nearly everyone uses the Google search engine. In the beginning that seemed harmless. But more recently we have seen how Google uses your search history to build a profile of you. Search for a product and soon you see ads on your favorite websites trying to sell you that item. (Although Google doesn’t seem to be able to figure out when you’ve purchased the item but continues to try to sell it to you.)

Many people’s first indication that Google might not be not-evil was after the launch of Gmail. Google announced that they would scan email messages to provided targeted ads. While no humans were allegedly reading your email, it still seemed wrong for a company to systematically scan the contents of your messages. But still, most people continued to use the service. I used it to send large files and to sign up up for a few online services. I have had email accounts with my personal domain since the 1990s which I use for most of my email communication.

In the last few years, Google has really started to adopt questionable practices. They manipulate search results. They help censor the Web in countries like China. Their YouTube service censors and demonetizes videos that go against its political leanings. Google has clearly abandoned free speech and unbiased access to information. For these reasons, I decided to stop using Google products wherever possible.

I used many Google products: Search, Chrome, Gmail, Docs, Drive, Maps, Play Music, YouTube, and YouTube TV. I own a Google Pixel XL mobile phone.

De-Google Firefox and DuckDuckGo

Although extremely popular, Google Search and the Chrome browser were the easiest Google products to replace. Both on my computer and my phone, I now use Firefox as my browser and DuckDuckGo as my search engine. I do not sync my bookmarks in Firefox. DuckDuckGo says they do not track you and I have not heard of the search engine manipulating search results.

I moved most of my email subscriptions from Gmail to an Outlook account. I removed all my photos from Google Photos and documents from Google Drive. I have moved my documents and some photos to Microsoft OneDrive. I still have to use Gmail and Drive for a few collaborative projects for my professional work on library committees, unfortunately.

I unsubscribed to all of my YouTube channels and cleared my history, “Watch later” and Favorites lists, and saved playlists. Because YouTube has such a dominant market-share, I’ll have to drop in occasionally to watch something important, but I won’t be signed in and will be harder to track.

I was a longtime subscriber to Google Play Music. I paid $9.99 per month to maintain my music library and to have the ability to listen to any song and album in the Google Play catalog. I also purchased several singles and albums. In December 2019 I cancelled my subscription. Around that time I had subscribed to SiriusXM for my car, so I use the online streaming service to listen to music on my computer and phone. I switched to Groove to play my local music files. I might try Spotify in the future.

De-Google Google Play Music

I don’t own a TV and I don’t watch shows. But I enjoy watching some live sports, mostly English Premier League soccer and international cricket matches. Early last year I subscribed to YouTube TV soon after launch. I watched some soccer, cricket, a few World Series games, and a UCF football game or two. I gave my parents a family pass so they could use my account, but I never watched enough to justify the cost even before the decision to de-Google. After talking with them and being assured they would not miss many programs, I finally cancelled my subscription.

De-Google YouTube TV
De-Google Phone Homescreen

I’ll continue to use my Google phone for now. But I did remove and replace as many Google apps as possible. I haven’t (yet) gone as far as replacing the Android operating system, but I did replace the default Google Launcher with the Microsoft Launcher. This launcher actually gives more flexibility in how the homescreen is laid out and functions. It replaced the Google searchbar with one that searches Bing. It allowed me to replace the Gmail and Chrome icons in the bottom dock with OneDrive and Outlook.

Google won’t let you uninstall Calendar, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Google Search, Maps, Play Movie, Play Music, or YouTube. Not good. But I did change my default apps to Firefox, Outlook, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.

The final Google app I replaced was Google Maps. After trying a few mapping apps, I chose HERE WeGo. The HERE WeGo maps are similar to Google Maps and they don’t seem to highlight the business that have paid to be featured. It provides directions for driving, biking, and walking, just like Google Maps. It also shows traffic. The WeGo navigation is better than Google Maps because in addition to turn-by-turn instructions, it also displays the speed limit and your current speed (although not shown below). I’m very pleased with the app.

Overall it wasn’t difficult to remove Google from my life. I will have to make a decision when the time comes to replace my mobile phone. I wish there was a viable alternative to Apple and Google, but the choice is limited. Until then, I’ll carry on—happy with my worthy alternatives to Google.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Porsche competes in the GTLM and GTD classes of the Rolex 24 at Daytona so I joined my fellow Porsche Club of America members to cheer them on. Unfortunately, I signed up too late to park in the Porsche car corral inside the track, so I found a fellow Porsche to park with in Lot 4. The day was sunny and cool, prefect for racing.

My Porsche at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I entered through the tunnel under Turn 4. Immediately upon emerging I saw the Corvette car corral, the only other brand besides Porsche that had one. The new Corvette C8 would compete against Porsche in the GTLM class.

Corvette Car Corral at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I walked straight to the garages hoping to see the cars before they entered the track. They were already gone.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche Garage

I made my way to pit road and walked to the front of the line-up of cars.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Stands

The DPi and LMP2 cars were up front, followed by the two GTLM Porsche 911 RSR cars, #911 and #912.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche #911
2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche #912

After getting an up-close look at the cars and drivers, I made my way to the infield to find the Porsche Club of America (PCA) tent. On the way I got my first look at the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8. There were swarms of people around it, but I managed to get a photo. Its design is a bit too angular, busy, and aggressive for my tastes.

2020 Corvette at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Next I visited Suncoast Parts, the official Porsche vendor for the race. I bought a limited-edition Cayman GT4 mug and Porsche Motorsport water bottle. I spoke to Ric who answered several of my accessories questions and gave me a closer look at his own blue 718 Cayman. He was very helpful and I plan to order a few parts from them soon.

Suncoast Parts Cayman at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Apple Computer Porsche at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Suncoast Parts Stand at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Questions answered and souvenirs purchased, I continued on to the PCA hospitality tent.

PCA Text at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I showed my PCA card and received my wristband. I grabbed a Coke and a poster and had a quick look around before heading out to watch the beginning of the race.

The race began at 1:40 pm. I watched the first few laps from the road course section of the track next to the Porsche car corral. The #911 started ahead of the #912.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
#911 Porsche 911 RSR
2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche
#912 Porsche 911 RSR

With the long race underway, I took some time to look around at the cars parked in the Porsche car corral, regretful that I had not signed up in time to get mine inside. The lot was mostly filled with 911s, but also included Boxsters, Caymans, Macans, Cayennes, and various classic models.

PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

One man had the back of his Porsche 928 set up as “BAR 928” filled with various bottles and mixers.

Porsche 928 at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Parked inside the fence next to the PCA tent was the new totally electric Porsche Taycan (pronounced “tie-cahn”). This was my first time seeing it in person and the first time in Gentian Blue Metallic, similar to the Dark Blue Metallic on my Boxster.

Porsche Taycan at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Porsche Taycan at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I left the PCA tent to have another look around. I saw some other interesting cars including a Turner Motorsport MINI Cooper S Hardtop and a Hyundai Veloster N.

Turner Motorsport MINI at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Hyundai Veloster N at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Back to the racing. I headed to my favorite spot to watch. From this infield spot you can see the cars enter the road course section, go around the Horseshoe, and accelerate past. Then you can see the cars as they head back onto the tri-oval and Turn 1.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsches

After watching for a while and with the sun starting to go down, I decided to head back toward the exit. On the way back, I walked through the Fanzone to see the race from a few other favorite spots. I got my first look at the new Toyota GR Supra GT4 on display.

Toyota GR Supra GT4 at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I also had a quick look at the display of vintage racecars including two important Porsche 914 cars.

Vinatge racing Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Returning through the garage area, I realized I hadn’t taken my own photo to mark the day. So I got a last photo at the Porsche GT Team garage.

James at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Although I had a great day on Saturday, I didn’t go back on Sunday, preferring to watch the race on TV (on my phone). After leading the GTLM class for most of the race, the two factory Porsches finished second (#912) and third (#911) behind a BMW. In the GTD class, the best finish for Porsche was fourth. Disappointing not to get wins, but the Porsche teams overall placed well. All racing enthusiasts should attend the Rolex 24 at Daytona at least once.

Steve Berry at The BookMark

The title of this post should really be “Joseph Finder and Steve Berry at The BookMark” but Steve Berry was the person I went to The BookMark bookstore to see although he was not the reason for the event. But I didn’t know that until the day of the book signing. The event was a stop on the book tour of Joseph Finder, a writer I was not familiar with before this night.

I started reading Steve Berry novels after finding one while browsing the Leisure Books collection at Hunt Library. I didn’t know who he was, but the title The Patriot Threat and its story involving a conspiracy surrounding a painting of George Washington and the 16th Amendment intrigued me. I really enjoyed the fast-paced story interspersed with historical facts and conspiracies. After reading, I learned that this novel was the tenth book in the Cotton Malone Series. I decided to start reading the series from the beginning and soon bought The Templar Legacy. I have read and enjoyed all of the Cotton Malone novels and short stories.

Joseph Finder Event Sign

I knew Berry had a new novel coming out in February 2020 and that his book tours always include a talk at The BookMark bookstore in Neptune Beach, Florida. His official website showed an event on January 23. I thought it was for his forthcoming book The Warsaw Protocol. When I checked the bookstore’s social media to make sure the event was still on, I discovered that it was actually for the launch of Joseph Finder’s new novel House on Fire. Steve Berry, who lives nearby, would be interviewing Finder. I still wanted to go.

After a nearly two-hour drive to Neptune Beach, I arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm. There was a free chair near the front so I had a close view of the talk. Steve asked Joe about his new book, the character Nick Heller, his methods of writing, and the two feature films that were based on his books (including how little influence he had on them). Steve shared his writing experiences, as well. The two writers were clearly friends and Finder didn’t seem to mind sharing the stage with Berry.

The authors discussed the pros and cons of writing series and how they have to conform to certain limits in content and style. I pointed out that Berry had strayed from his usual style with The Bishop’s Pawn by writing in the first-person. He said that departure didn’t go over well with his readers and that prompted a discussion into first-person versus third-person writing. Both authors agreed that first-person stories were harder to write.

James Day and Steve Berry at The BookMark

After the talk I purchased House on Fire and asked if I could have Steve sign my own copy of The Lost Order. Bookstores don’t often let you bring your own books to signings, but the staff were happy to let us have our personal copies signed. I first asked Steve to sign my book and then took a couple photos with him. Steve was very unassuming and probably would have been more happy to talk about the menu of Sliders Oyster Bar next door than being a famous novelist.

Next I met Joe Finder and he signed my newly-purchased book. I asked about his series and whether I could read this new book first or go back and start at the beginning of the Nick Heller Series. He said it didn’t matter, the books were written to be read in any order. I plan to read his books but I will probably start with the first one, Vanished.

After an hour of book talk, Q&A, and signing, I drove home. It was a lot of driving for a one-hour event for an author I hadn’t heard of before, but I am glad I went. Steve Berry will be back at The BookMark on March 6, 2020, to finish his book tour, and I plan to be there.

The Lost Order signed by Steve Berry
House on Fire signed by Joseph Finder