The End of October by Lawrence Wright

The Kongoli virus in the book is much more deadly than COVID-19.

Kongoli kills hundreds of millions. Leads to world wars.

But, for the most part, readers are shocked at the many parallels between this fiction and COVID-19.  

It’s a cautionary tale. And an excellent book.

The central figure is an American microbiologist named Henry Parsons. His personal story is engaging.

Henry tries to discover whether Kongoli arrived naturally like past viruses, or if humans (Putin) had been experimenting with bioweapons.

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law.

In 2007 he won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. A book about Islamic terrorism.

The End of October is fiction.

Wright’s fictional tale is about a mysterious virus that starts in Asia, sweeps across continents, cripples the health care system, wrecks the economy, and kills people worldwide.

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“I knew from talking to all these medical experts that something like this was going to happen,” Wright says. “They all knew it. They just didn’t know when.”

Wright began writing the novel in 2017 and turned in his final draft in the summer of 2019.

This Is ‘Creepy’: Lawrence Wright Wishes His Pandemic Novel Had Gotten It Wrong

Wright had started thinking about this plot line after Ridley Scott asked him what kind of disaster could cause what happened in the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road.

Netflix is among the studios considering making The End of October a film.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I really enjoyed these 3 books by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari.

Like Bill Bryson, he can make academic subjects interesting and lively

Critics call it sensationalist infotainment.

He is a simplifier. I like his frequent analogies to well known references.

There are endless interesting factoids.

Critics complain he gets some facts wrong by over-simplifying.

In Sapiens he postulates that humans now rule the earth because of our ability to organize and coordinate in large numbers.

Bees, ants and other species cooperates even better, but they are too inflexible to evolve. And have comparatively small numbers.

We are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our imagination, such as gods, states, money, human rights, corporations and other fictions, and we have developed a unique ability to use these stories to unify and organize groups and ensure cooperation.


He feels humans will continue to evolve, likely into some computer / human hybrid.

Click PLAY or watch his TED Talk on the topic on YouTube. (17min)

Song of COVID-19 – Times Like These

Live Lounge Allstars

I can’t stop watching this. Brilliant audio editing.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

BBC has released Times Like These as a single, with UK proceeds to be combined with any funds raised by The Big Night In.

These funds will be split equally between BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief to provide essential support to vulnerable people of all ages and backgrounds across the UK who will be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

5 Seconds of Summer
AJ Tracey
Biffy Clyro
Chris Martin of Coldplay
Dermot Kennedy
Dua Lipa
Ellie Goulding
Foo Fighters
Grace Carter
Hailee Steinfeld
Jess Glynne
Paloma Faith
Rag’n’Bone Man
Rita Ora
Royal Blood
Sam Fender
Sean Paul
Zara Larsson

Blood Road – a cycling documentary

Rebecca Rusch and Huyen Nguyen were first to pedal the entire length of the 1,800 km (1,200 mi) Ho Chi Minh Trail through VietnamLaos and Cambodia.

Blood Road, according to director Nicholas Schrunk, “set out to document an epic cycling expedition as well as Rebecca’s personal journey to visit the crash site [of her father], but we ended up uncovering something much deeper.

It’s a story about the scars, both physical and emotional, that war leaves on families, countries, and cultures, and how they still exist today.

Rebecca Rusch and Huyen Nguyen

Click PLAY or watch a trailer on YouTube.

Superb cinematography. Incredible drone footage.

I was reminded just how stupid and futile was the Vietnam War and all wars. What a waste.

Watch it FREE on Red Bull. (90min)

I learned of Rebecca Rusch from an excellent and inspiring interview on the Adventure Podcast.

What a badass. Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame. Mountain Biker of the Year, Endurance LIVE Awards. Adventure Sport Magazine “Queen of Pain” (2004)

Rebecca says she was never much of cyclist. Climbing was her thing. But she won a lot of races due to grit, determination and pain tolerance.

Says her toughest adventure was her first Iditarod Trail endurance bike race in winter.

Cycling Nanaimo, Cowichan, Bamfield, Alberni – days 3/4/5

Days 1/2 | 3/4/5

It rained most of the night. A beautiful calm morning on Cowichan Lake.

Only my second time visiting the town, I do like it.

From here I had to decide whether to ride the north or south side of the big lake. Google Maps recommended south side, perhaps because a short section is paved.

Unfortunately there is little development and few lake vistas from the south.

The most interesting spot was Heather Campsite (closed) which has all kinds of swings and ladders for campers.  Looks fun for kids.

I had the Backroads Mapbook, and Google maps … and several choices of logging roads heading towards Bamfield.

I ended up taking the main road, perhaps longer but in better condition than the rest.

I pedalled steadily for hours seeing almost no development. No people. Perhaps one motor vehicle an hour.

Canada is vast and empty for the most part.

I took few photos as the views did not vary much. Pristine rivers and creeks were the highlight.

Around 6pm I had a surprisingly difficult time finding a good place to camp. Here’s where I ended up.

It was good, but visible from a spur logging road. Normally I want to be invisible from any road.

During the night no vehicles passed.

I was on the road early next morning.

Down a ways, breakfast instant coffee and peanut butter toast.

Again, there was not much of interest to report en route to Bamfield. Here are a couple of highlights.

Hub cap forest

I’d passed through Bamfield quite a few times over the years as it’s a West Coast Trail trailhead. And a popular tourist destination.

With a population of less than 200 — and no tourists — it looked a ghost town.

I had planned to hike muddy Cape Beale and Keeha Beach Trails — but they were VERY closed.

The local Huu-ay-aht First Nation definitely do NOT want visitors right now. They’d declared a COVID-19 state of emergency with regulations more strict than the B.C. government.

The history of First Nations in North America is a history of genocide by introduced diseases.

I did not stay long.

That’s too bad as I had planned to hike … then take the ferry back to Port Alberni. But it only runs 3 times a week during the winter.

During my many hours cycling this trip I was surprised to see very little animal life. In fact, this bear was the highlight. And it was in a Bamfield back yard.

SO … I rode back in the direction I’d come, already having picked a lovely riverside campsite.

Click PLAY or watch me setting up camp on YouTube.

The grocery store in Bamfield was open. I had treated myself to a can of chili for dinner.

Perfect weather. A lovely location. No biting insects. This is dream camping.

Next morning I had about 60km left to Port Alberni

… but on this infamous road.

I don’t really mind hills. But these are HUGE. And LONG. And UNRELENTING.  I wouldn’t ride it again.

After pushing my bike up a hill for about 25 minutes a forestry worker offered me a lift. Yes, he was a cyclist. And he knew it might take me another hour of pushing to get to the top.

On the other side were big hills. But not as big. And the scenery is better than the interior.

Happily, I rolled down hill past China Creek without incident.

Once back to Port Alberni I enjoyed Tim Hortons coffee. Then gave my Dad a call to come pick me up.

Here’s a general overview of the 5 day trip.

Days 1/2 | 3/4/5

Charity: Water

The story of Scott Harrison building Charity: Water to a half billion dollar non-profit is inspiring. has funded 51,438 water projects for over 11 million people around the world as I post.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

My personal wish list for the world:

Short term – clean drinking water

Long term – education of girls and women