the end (for me) of a good thing

When announced earlier this year they were converting to a paid/fee based service I wrestled with the pros and cons of remaining a member and decided against it. I’ve received over 200 books since joining in 2005 but for the last few years my credits mostly sat unused as I waited in vain for books on my wish list to be posted by another member. It’s a great service but with the added fees/membership dues, I felt I could find books cheaper elsewhere. So I used up my 15 or so credits and said adios to pbs. Here are some of the results of my final binge-


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That’s my poison

While reading Frederik Pohl’s ‘The Merchants’ War’, the author described a highly addictive but legal product called Mokie-Koke this way – “a refreshing, taste-tingling blend of the finest chocolate-type flavoring, synthetic coffee extract and selected cocaine analogues”.

I think Pohl accurately foresaw how an iced mocha was made as sold by Starbucks, Caribou or any other dealer, um, I mean coffee shop.

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Recent/future sci-fi reading and a question

When did science fiction evolve from primarily self-contained 150-300 page standalone novels into series with multiple 500+ page tomes? They seem to be crowding out all the slimmer books at libraries and used book stores.

I just finished re-reading Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Rendezvous With Rama’ only because I wanted to get reacquainted with the beginning of the story before I tackled ‘Rama II’, ‘The Garden of Rama’ and ‘Rama Revealed’.

Picked up three smaller volumes today to balance the larger books. Here they are-

jgballardvoices effingerrelatives silverbergneedle









I’m a sucker for short story collections by well known sci-fi writers. I read Silverberg’s ‘Hawksbill Station’ with some interest but really want to find his novel ‘The World Inside’. After being disappointed by Effinger’s most touted work, ‘What Entropy Means To Me’, my hopes for ‘Relatives’ aren’t that high but with my tastes you never can tell. I need to explore Ballard more.

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Black (and white) Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

This week I realized the criterion used to determine how much I would enjoy the various Nov-Dec-Jan holidays. Rather than food, drink, parties, sports, church, etc., I just look at my “To-Be-Read” stack of books.


I’m currently 200+ pages into “the Counterfeiters’ by Andre Gide.

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My memory of the first ‘Earth Day’ April 22, 1970

Don Russell Scott, HM3, USN
June 14, 1947 – April 22, 1970
son, brother, student, teacher, husband, father, friend, comrade,
Navy Corpsman – attached to USMC Company ‘Mike’ 3/7

Panel 11W, Row 38 – Vietnam Memorial Washington, D.C.

I will not forget.

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Guess who I’ve been reading this year?

Hesse StackMost of these I’ve had for years vowing one day to read them all. Over time I’d read Siddhartha, Journey, Poems and Wandering (all the short easy volumes) but starting the first of this year I began methodically reading all of Hesse’s works in the order they were first published. So far I’ve enjoyed every one. (half way thru Narcissus as I type this) I would definitely include Hesse among my favorite authors. Also read a couple of books about Jung that helped fill in some of the background.

BTW – I’m missing ‘Knulp’ if anyone would like to help out.

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New countries in my logbook, but…

…that may be all I’ll ever have to show for it. Not that it matters to most people but there are some who are intrigued with the mystique of communicating without using smartphones or the Internet.

My college degree is in Engineering/Electronics and one of my hobbies is Amateur (Ham) Radio. I’m one of those old style nerds who likes to spend long hours fiddling with the control knobs and switches of various receivers and transmitters that allow communication around the world and beyond (Amateur Radio has its own satellites orbiting Earth).

From Wikipedia –

A QSL card is a written confirmation of either a two-way radiocommunication between two amateur radio stations or a one-way reception of a signal from an AM radio, FM radio, television or shortwave broadcasting station. It can also confirm the reception of a two-way radiocommunication by a third party listener. A typical QSL card is the same size and made from the same material as a typical postcard, and most are sent through the mail as such.

QSL card derived its name from the Q code “QSL”. A Q code message can stand for a statement or a question (when the code is followed by a question mark). In this case, QSL? means “do you confirm receipt of my transmission?” while QSL means “I confirm receipt of your transmission”.

QSL cards vary greatly. Most are routine in that they contain “just the facts” needed to confirm the communication that has taken place (callsign, location, date, time, frequency, mode) but others are intricately designed with additional content ranging from comical, entertaining, educational and even erotic. Traditional printed QSL cards are slowly being replaced by various electronic online methods of confirmation that to me hide the personality. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read a paper(or electronic) logbook but hand them a stack of QSL cards and eventually they will find one that cause them to stop and think about what they are holding.

(And BTW, for those of you in the hobby and familiar with the process, I’ve been a sorter/mailer for the inbound QSL bureau since the mid 1990s)

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