This weekend, I will be teaching a lockpicking class in the Poconos, in a “haunted” inn, as part of a comedy/geek/podcasting festival. I’m so excited! I’ve been lockpicking for several years now and it’s one of my absolute favorite hobbies. And hobbies are always more fun when you get to share them with other people. It’s been a while since I’ve taught lockpicking, but I’ve written about it extensively for various publications, and I used to participate in Locksport (competitive lockpicking) at my local hackerspace.

Snip20160829_5The history of locks and lockpicking is fascinating; people have been picking locks since locks were invented in ancient times. I love that, because that’s so quintessentially human: let’s invent something, and then let’s try to break it! Essentially, lockpicking is just a form of puzzle-solving, and each type of lock requires its own strategy for picking. My personal interest is in picking tumbler locks, but I’ve also made shims for combination locks and have used bump keys.

The culture and ethics of lockpicking are intertwined; it’s something I always focus on in my classes, since it is actually illegal to own lockpicks in certain states. But my view on lockpicking is that it’s about security. The first lockpicking class I ever took was taught by a security expert, who said that security experts rely on lockpickers and hackers to reveal weaknesses in the tools we rely on. For instance, if you want a durable lock for your front door, it should be a lock that has undergone routine lockpicking so the designers can make necessary improvements. Lockpicking is not about theft; it’s about better understanding the mechanisms of the world around us. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!

I’ll try to take some pictures at my class. I can’t wait to see a new wave of lockpickers! (And maybe start my longtime dream of having a lockpicking guild.)

Monday vibes: Bookworm chic

PicMonkey Collage

It finally happened, everyone — it finally RAINED last night! It’s been months since we’ve had a good storm ’round these here parts, and my soul was in dire need of a wet, cloudy day. The lightning and thunder was spectacular, and I thoroughly enjoyed snuggling with my husband and cat and a glass of wine and a good book.

I’m an avid reader year-round — it comes with the territory of being a writer and a researcher by trade — but I am always eager to read juicy fiction when the weather starts to cool down. I’ve read some amazing books lately; most notably, Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente. I want to write more about this book sometime soon; I absolutely LOVED every word. So this week’s Monday Vibes are all about that bookworm aesthetic. Have a great week!