Welcome to my bookshelf!

The bookshelf is where I return again and again to read my rereadables. What is a rereadable? It’s any book that I find myself reading over and over again, some that I wrote and many more written by others.

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Pick a book

For you to read now, or later. Enjoy!

Recent Reviews

Flood and fire friendly
A swamp love affair

The swamp is more than …

Just a watershed or just fire adapted:


Report on the history of flood and fire in the swamp

It’s more properly understood as being a “flood and fire adapted” ecosystem. Every square inch of flora and fauna depends on some goldilocks dosage and return interval of flood and fire. Or in other words, so goes flood and fire, so goes the swamp. Well, easier said than done. The truth is that both are blunt tool instruments that have a time lag of ecological responses, some of which we see happening in months or years, and others that take decades to unfold. The thing about the swamp: It’s malleable, too. Destroyers in other landscapes, flood and fire are a swamp’s best friend. This report discusses the history of water and fire management in Big Cypress National Preserve, how it’s changed over time and other factors that weave into the fire-water mix.

More about the report: I tried to make it coffee table friendly. I always say, “there’s nothing more complicated than water in the swamp, with the exception of fire. But somehow by combining the two we simplify the math.”

The Everglades Handbook
And why it's the Everglades best book

There’s other books out there …

But for me Tom Lodge’s book is the best.

Buy The Everglades Handbook, by Thomas E Lodge

Why? For one, it passes my number one test: It’s highly rereadable. By rereadable, I mean that I read it over and over again. Partly because the material is so good, and rather technical in nature — thus it takes multiple reads to fully digest, but Tom also knows how to turn a sentence. More than just a scholarly accomplishment — and that it very much is, this book is a literary masterpiece. The sentences and the words he uses are just fun, and thought-provoking, to read. The introductory section to the Big Cypress alone is chock full of little anecdotes and diatribes on how the region got its name. Another reason I love it is that he chronicles how the book evolved with each new edition, including his sessions with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas. This book brings the Everglades to life, both the ecosystem and the scope of what it takes for a person to understand the place. Spoiler alert: I am a bit partial because I have a signed copy. But the truth is I actually have two copies of his book: One at work and one at home. Whenever I get a spare fifteen minutes, I love picking it up and digging in. I find something new each time. This books a rereadable and a “must have” for any book shelf. Notice in the video how I prominently feature it on the middle shelf.

About WERP
The art (and need) of unofficial reports

Where can you find a good report …

On the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)?


The maps are particularly useful

Answer: You can’t. Or you could, if you enjoy reading through through what they call “The Yellow Book.” And don’t get me wrong: The Yellow Book contains a wealth of information, nor has it lost its relevancy over time. Even today, people continue to reference it as the bible of what is and is not included in CERP at the same time the original 68 projects and 4 feasibility reports it describes have morphed and evolved over time. But still: Back to the original question — where can you find a book on Everglades Restoration, or at least at thin tome that explains what it is and how it evolved in words that a layperson can understand.

With that in mind, I put together a summary report of a subcomponent of CERP called the Western Everglades Restoration Plan (WERP). It’s not meant to be official or even comprehensive, but rather organize thoughts about the project, its history and current state (as of 2020) feathered together with some useful photographs and maps.

Ideal Lake Stage
Research paper by William J. Sobczak

When it comes to the environment …

Sometimes our children know best.


The reason? It could be that they’re a little more open minded. Or maybe it has something to do with the idealism of youth. Where our adult minds get clouded with economic drivers, political bents and the sociological inertia of the status quo, children have a much less cluttered view of the world. Obviously, nature is good and water should be clean and whatever the cost, it really all boils down to doing the right thing. That would be a youthful view of things, which begs the question: Why doesn’t the same view prevail for adults.

The above paper about Lake Okeechobee — and specifically the discussion of a new regulation schedule called LOSOM — was written by my son for a high should project his senior year. What I admire about it most is its blend of youthful idealism and adult pragmatism, and his surprise choice at the end. I’ll leave it to you to read it to find out. In the process I think you’ll get a very good history lesson of the Lake.

Great job Willy!

Turner River Report
First report I wrote about the swamp

Everyone thinks of me as a blogger …

But I actually cut my teeth on a fairly detailed report.


The assignment: Get to the bottom of the Turner River. The year was 2000. Parts of the river had been recently restored, and it had become navigable as a result, but there was still a thought that more had to be done. I’m not sure what my boss expected at the time, but I dove into the literature and the file cabinets to try to understand what the Turner River was all about. Keep in mind I’d only been in the swamp for a year. So I was still a rookie as they say.

Looking back it was a fun assignment, and I learned a lot.

It might even be time to update the report.

Florida Weather
The Book

I know what you’re thinking …

That’s kind of a bland title for a book.

Video review of the book

Only, there’s nothing bland about Florida Weather …

Neither the subject nor this book. The book is truly a gift. It opened my eyes to a place I thought – as many do when arriving from Up North – to be a seasonless land. Winsberg puts that fallacy immediately to rest by his organization of the book around the four seasons themselves: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. The simplicity of structure provides the foundation for a truly unique and impressively quantitative exploration of the four seasons, Florida style. If that sounds dry, it’s not. The book is chock full of historical anecdotes, summary maps and other interesting tidbits.

For me the book is like an old friend, as all good rereadables are. Time and time again I find myself pulling this relatively thin tome off my shelf to brush up on the season or just simply to relax. The book helped me bond with Florida.

It also made me an instant expert on the weather.

Thank you to Morton D. Winsberg and his collaborators for this wonderful book!

Swamp before canals
And strands reigned supreme

Canals are easy to ignore …

They are hair-line thin compared to the greater watershed.


This report challenges the old view

But a closer look reveals that canals and levees have played an oversized and often ignored (or at least under-appreciated) role in how water moves in the Big Cypress Swamp. For much of its history, the Preserve has been long imagined to be carved in the shape of a rain driven watershed, thus making it relatively immune to outside hydrologic alterations to the North, West and East.  In recent years, a paradigm shift has re-cast the Preserve in the new light that it is only “rain driven” because everything else (i.e. the North West and East) has been boxed out or drained away.  The imperative of this new paradigm is clear: Hydrologic restoration is vital to the ecological health of the preserve. 

Swamp Gazetteer
Hydrologist's Handbook

There’s better maps out there …

Or are there?


And more importantly: Can you find them in a pinch? Introducing the Big Cypress Gazetteer. It contains an incomplete compendium of maps that you might find useful for understanding the swamp. The thing about maps, it’s impossible to find a single map that tells you everything you want. In fact, that was the original motivation for why I made the maps to begin with. I could find pieces of information here and there, but there wasn’t a cartographical layout (not even Google Earth) that put everything I needed all on one page. Emphasis on “everything I needed.” While I’m happy to share these maps, they really aren’t intended to be a full-proof Rand McNally guide of the swamp — just something that may be useful. As for the best guide to the swamp, nothing replaces getting out in nature with your own two feet. There’s no map for that.

Strategic Thinking
The case for not needing to know everything

What’s the first thing you do …

When there’s a lot of things to do?


You develop a strategy to prioritize and get everyone on the same page and understand the timelines of how things might unfold. A good strategy is flexible to a degree, but also points you in the direction of how and where things should be done.