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                                                               JOURNAL #196

                                                            November 3, 2015


               This entry is a bit off schedule. We drove to Philadelphia and New Jersey in late October, spending time with friends and family. There were connections to the South Philadelphia Quakers, my old baseball team; to my grade school years; to Maureen's high school days; and we spent a couple of days with her brother and his wife. It was a trip through both space and time. The only dark moments arrived when the Eagles took the field. Twice.

During the visit we wandered into a Barnes & Noble and found some remarkable editions carrying a list price of approximately $8.00. The publisher is Fall River, and they are doorstop books, averaging seven to eight hundred pages. One volume contains the complete Sherlock Holmes, four novels and fifty-six short stories. Others have four and five novels by Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and other classic authors. There were also complete Shakespeare collections. And the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. And on and on.

               I picked up a copy of the first five John Carter novels for a longtime friend. (They hooked me during my early years, as they probably did many of us.) For myself, I brought home the first three Tarzan novels; an Oscar Wilde book which includes The Picture of Dorian Gray, three story  collections and nine plays; and Tales of the Arabian Nights. The latter volume opens with "The Tale of Scheherazade," includes also "Sinbad the Sailor," "Abu Mohammed Hight Lazybones," "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves."

               We visited two Barnes and Noble stores. The titles were available in both, so I suspect they are carried by the chain.


               This was to have been my year off. For the first time since the start of the century, I'd write no novel, and spend my time doing jigsaw puzzles, finishing my college reading assignments, eating lunch out with friends as often as possible, watching TV, and just generally hanging out. It hasn't exactly worked out according to plan, although I did manage to limit my writing to a few short stories. I know that sounds like a casual twelve months. Retirement, even. But we did spend some time on the road. We attended Ravencon in Virginia, Dragoncon in Atlanta, OASIS in Orlando, Chattacon in Chattanooga, and Necronomicon in Tampa Bay.

               We also showed up at the Nebula Awards in Chicago, the Georgia Writers' Banquet in Atlanta, and Balticon, where the Baltimore Science Fiction Society ensured I'd be their friend forever.

               Late in the year, the Air Force invited me to attend its annual Space Forum at the Air Force Academy's Eisenhower Center in Colorado Springs. I should mention that I enjoy driving, and lost my enthusiasm for flying a long time ago. The Colorado trip was the only one I made by air.

               I was already two days behind schedule for this journal entry when I got up this morning with no idea what I would write about. The world seemed blank. I've volunteered to do a presentation with the St. Simons Island Literary Guild about Mark Twain, so I've begun trying to put that together. But after breakfast, my standard routine is first to check for incoming mail. I found an invitation to attend the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga. One of my favorite events.

               And, just like that, the topic came to me.