I have been perplexed recently – although not the first time – by a continuing erosion in people’s reading skills.

It seems that with the advent of GoPro videos and YouTube people’s interest in reading have been dropping dramatically. Paper thin attention spans.

We may begin posting MP3s to YouTube with our morning remarks. Although it will be on a delayed basis (of probably an hour) because of time constraints and our dedication to the written word first.

Now, about the death of reading:

While it’s true that Pres. Trump has had a number of serious run-ins with the old-school institutional press, it’s also true that some of the major media have been losing revenue. People aren’t reading today as they once did.

Things are reduced and distilled to almost idiotic levels.

Once upon a time a thoughtful American, seeking insight into a political issue could turn on C-SPAN and watch first-hand..

Today, who has time? Instead, people are watching 30 second to 2 minute news blurbs that mostly fail to capture essential details of decision-making by policymakers.

Along this line, a New York Times article from 2008 titled “The Death of Reading, Continued…” is worth reading.

The article mentions www.futureofthebook.org. It is the “if: book” project of the Institute for the Future of the Book.

When I review top – ranked authors of best-selling books, there’s a clustering effect: Many people selling books are making sales not because of their book’s content, but because they already have established a cult personality. Some cult members will buy anything. Let’s go monetizing!

Often enough, the “book” is not designed to extend their ideas, not so much propose, new or original ideas in the print format. Damn shame that.

This seems particularly true for the electronic media stars.

I’m not saying it’s all bad. But people don’t seem interested anymore. in reading a book.

Instead,. The kids especially want to turn on YouTube. Get the instant answers and get a hurry up – fix. Even the president has been reduced to tweeting

I think back to the Tower of Babel story.. Did it fall because of different languages? Or is the effect of data compression doing something pernicious, something subliminal to the human species?

We were never engineered as compressed data consumers. We are upright apes – omnivores – capable of environmental extremes. Where did the walking and foraging go?

A little over 100 years ago, companies like Atwater, Scott, and others exploded the realm of audio distribution..

The second revolution was optical with the ultra small cams the Flip Videos and then look GoPros. Today everybody’s smart phone has shoot and stream capability.

Which has gotten us what exactly?

Our political nominees don’t seem any better informed than those of yesteryear. Our opinion makers don’t seem particularly brighter than their forerunners.

Even more importantly, we now have rap artists able to make (not so) Thinly Veiled Threats against the President and get away with it because it’s all in the infotainment sphere.

Sounds like a paradigm and collapsed to me.

My very first job (outside of shoveling coal for the lady up the street – yes, I really am that old) was as a “page” at the Seattle Public Library on north Beacon Hill in Seattle.

People would return books at the front desk.. They were placed on a roll-around cart. It was my job to place the books back on the shelves in the proper order. It wasn’t a terribly difficult task, or I would not have been able to do it.

Works of fiction were all sorted by the authors last name. Errol Stanley Gardner mysteries were placed well ahead of Nicholas Montserrat. Adventures. Easy money.

Learning the Dewey decimal system was hard at first because at age 13 I did not have a good grasp of what philosophy, natural science, hard sciences, nor applied sciences were all.

Perhaps the Dewey decimal system itself is one of the problems facing the future of the book.

The competing knowledge organization system today is the Library of Congress classification system which leaves us in a very interesting space: We’ve got the Dewey Decimal System that works just fine, but which now seems to be more proprietary. On the other hand, we have the Library of Congress system which is a government solution. Sheesh!

Not sure what to do with the problem of the future of the book, but it does mean something around the Ure household.

I will probably throw a slapdash cover on the Millennial’s Missing Manual and toss it up on Amazon as complete e-book for $2.99.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to read the series as it’s has evolved, and if sorting through back issues of Urban Survival, not your cup of tea, here is opportunity to do the American thing: Spend Money and get something of value in a somewhat condensed form.

By the look of it the Millennial’s Missing Manual will probably run 50 to 60,000 words, but novels – and everything else today, including phones, earphones, videos, portable monitors, and so forth – all seem to be shrinking in size.

A novel used to be at least 80 to 90,000 words in length. More recently, novels are becoming shorter – perhaps 60,000 words. My first novel (DreamOver) was about 93,000 words, and I thought it was just squeaking by the accepted length for a novel, just a few years ago.

Do We Write Another Book Online?

This future of the book problem has me wondering if we should continue the process of publishing a chapter of one of my book ideas per week on Thursday mornings around here.

The next book, I’d like to write is a second in the Dave Shannon adventure series, taking up from where DreamOver left off.

Please leave a comment (yes or no is fine) and let me know how you feel about it.

Some people think Thursday’s have become a terrible waste of space because the chapters of the missing the Millennial’s Missing Manual were sometimes a bit long..

On the other hand, some just love the idea of some real substance on the web for a change, which I think you’ll admit is largely missing.

For the Love of Saint Patrick

As soon as I’m able to extricate myself from my writing position, I’ll be hosing off the old pickup going to town two prep for St. Patrick’s Day.

No, I will not be dropping by the local Catholic Church to operate offer my confessional. That would take the rest of the month.

But if you know where to look at Walmart, you can find an acceptable corned beef in almost every town in America.

My what I’d really like to do is swing by “The House Of Good Corned Beef.” If I were in Seattle, but it’s a long drive from Texas.

My gastronomic fine tuning advice for the Walmart corned beef is as follows:

Order yourself about a pound of fresh organic clothes from Amazon. Walmart may have those in their spice department. While you’re at it pick up a pound or two of pickling spice to go with it.

When you get your pre-packaged corned beef home, you can rinse off all of that pickling gel that comes from the corned beef factory. This will allow you to make a much less salty corned beef.

The American palate seems to get confused between taste (as in spices), and salt (as in that stuff that’s bad for blood pressure).

The solution is like real corned beef establishments (HOGCB in Seattle) do: throw a big handful of pickling spice along with a few extra cloves in at the time of cooking. This will give you a corned beef that is. Less salty – maybe just enough to offset the cabbage and carrots – while kicking up flavor a notch.

Oh Yum!

There is no practical way to have left over corned beef. Not only are Reuben sandwiches, easy enough to make (should you have any leftovers) but also sliced up in homemade corned beef hash with Yukon gold potatoes is about as good as it gets at breakfast time. Serve with two eggs over easy and some catch up. Don’t forget to call the cardiologist.

Climate Change and Dogwoods

Another seasonal note here: our Dogwood trees out in the woods have blossoms looking long in the tooth.

I hope there will be enough to justify your visit to Palestine, Texas for the Dogwood Trail days weekend after this. Then two weekends following.

In past years – before the mass marketing of climate change – the last couple of weekends of March and the first one in April were excellent dates..

Why, I remember one year in particular, we had a pretty good snow on the 4th of April. It didn’t stick but for five or six hours. It was only an inch or so deep, too. Point is Dogwood blossoms used to make sense at this time of the year. Now they’ve been listening to the Weather Channel or something and they have taken up this climate change stuff. Blossoms arrived a good three or four weeks early.

Perhaps Texas will have a rare named storm to preserve the blossoms long enough for the touristas. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. I sure wanted some snow this winter

In the Ham Radio Corner.

The sale of our airplane to that bright young contractor fellow up in Bismarck does not seem to have restored any available time for ham radio pursuits.

I finally have a line on enough pieces to put an HJT-45 linear on the air with the collectible/tube-type SX-117/HT-44/PS-150 set up.  These were the late sixties Hallicrafters Co. answer to the Collins 75-S series receivers and the mating #@-S series of transmitters.

The HT-45 is a single-ended 1 KW PEP amplifier that matches in styling. Although the original protos and early production units were made by Radio Industries and marketed by Hallicrafters.

Between a ham up in the PNW (who has a power supply) and the Texas ham with the RF deck, I should be able to complete another one in the bucket list: A complete Hallicrafters Line.

A word about the Cosmophones that may be coming up on eBay shortly (the fellow has a couple he may part with if I read it right):  There is some discussion about where the KWS-1 Collins transceiver was the first one build (ostensibly the somms side of the U-2 spy plane program in the 1950’s) or whether the Cosmophones came first.

Good article on the QRZ Forums site over here if you’re interested – or just scroll down for a picture of a Cosmophone with a Collins S-line in background to the left…

Yes, I love ham radio history particularly the early days of Single Sideband when the R.L. Drake company up in Ohio was just coming up to challenge the Collins boys over at Cedar Rapids…

What was the old TV cutaway phrase?  “Meantime, back at the ranch…” 

A couple of projects remain directly ahead that will limit my use of that 746-foot OCF monster antenna a while longer.

Fixing up the foundation under the 180° view porch is on the agenda for this weekend.

Next week I have to till and get the garden planted. Somewhere in the midst of all this outdoor pleasure, the lawnmower is screaming for attention.

Shop organization is coming along, and a few ongoing projects like a new stove hood being installed for Elaine will eat up a day or two of spare time along the way as well.

But I’m at least starting to leave a 2-meter portable radio on the local repeater now and then and I’m catching up on the local goings-on. The local ham club provides communications support for the Dogwood Trails event weekend after this… 

Speaking of the Range Hood

Found an interesting little device that I stupidly did not know about until recently when our range hood finally rusted out: There is now a range hood damper available that will keep the cold air from going up the vent in summer time and prevent the cold air from coming in during the wintertime available from Amazon for about nine bucks.

Not a very big device either. It’s easily installed when you’re putting in a new hood and I wish I had thought about it (or known about it) before. It’s one of those devices that may actually pay for itself over its lifetime.

When you get this close to 70 anything that will pay for itself in your lifetime looks a tad less like a bargain.

Enough of the ramble: let’s go watch the stock market make a fool of my melt – up prediction.

I’m still unrepentant and bullish until our trading tools send me to Rehab for Bears…

Come on by Monday.

Write when you get rich


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