Books to give and receive

John
John Gushue
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The word "mooch" has a bit of a pejorative tone to it; after all, a moocher is someone who is looking for something for nothing, or who wants to have something without having to pay for it. Which is fine by BookMooch, a web service where one idea rules: you get books without paying for them.

Book Mooch bookmooch.com/

There's a catch, though. To get, one must give, and if you want to pick up books from other BookMooch members, you basically have to give some of yours away. Indeed, you pick up points - much like how EBay operates - for being a good person to deal with.

Surf's up - The word "mooch" has a bit of a pejorative tone to it; after all, a moocher is someone who is looking for something for nothing, or who wants to have something without having to pay for it. Which is fine by BookMooch, a web service where one idea rules: you get books without paying for them.

Book Mooch bookmooch.com/

There's a catch, though. To get, one must give, and if you want to pick up books from other BookMooch members, you basically have to give some of yours away. Indeed, you pick up points - much like how EBay operates - for being a good person to deal with.

The costs are minimal. Essentially, you cover whatever it costs to pop the book in the mail to the next moocher. There are more than 800 people in Canada registered with the service, but you'll likely find more users signed up in the U.S. or elsewhere who have what you're interested in.

BookMooch is pretty easy to navigate, even if the displays for the points system are a little confusing to understand at first. As with EBay, it's easy to find out if a user has a good track record with others. For dedicated readers - especially those searching for books that the local library doesn't stock - this could be a great resource. And it's a whole lot better than being the kind of mooch that your friends don't like to see stopping by.

Elsewhere this week:

Service Industry Meltdowns in St. John's

downrightcranky.blogspot.com/

This is a new local blog that could have a future. It's about rotten service at local outlets in the St. John's area. The anonymous person behind it - Downright Cranky is the handle - has put up a few notes; why not open it up to all, like Overheard in New York and its clones, or any number of consumer-driven sites? (Just my note stuffed into the customer feedback box.)

Warhol It!

www.thomasonrails.com/warholit/

You could spend a fortune on an Andy Warhol piece (someone is laughing somewhere, in some afterlife), or you could spend nothing at all for a reasonable, web-based facsimile. Well, sort of.

Get a picture of something (yourself, your pet, a celebrity) and run it through the program, and see, for instance, a quartet of images arranged in various colours. Which, incidentally, you can customize.

A drawback is that you need to have a web-based address (i.e., a URL) for the pic, rather than uploading one directly from your collection. The site, though, is Flickr-compliant.

Baseball Pilgrimages

www.baseballpilgrimages.com/

Considering the reverence that many sports fans have for their favourite players and places, the word "pilgrimage" may not be all that inappropriate as it's used here. (Consider, also, that Boston's long-fabled Fenway Park is referred to as the Mecca of baseball.) You'll get first-hand accounts.

Breitbart

www.breitbart.com/

I'm surrounded by news headlines all day long - hey, it's my day job - so it may seem odd that I would even want to check more of them in off hours. Yet, I do. One of the reasons I like Breitbart is that I can get a snapshot, very quickly, of what's making news all over. The emphasis is on breaking news, which means the presentation favours the freshest headlines, but not necessarily the most important.

Internet Anagram Server

www.wordsmith.org/anagram/index.html

Or: I, Rearrangement Servant. Don't worry - I wouldn't have been clever enough to figure that out on my own. This all-anagram site is devoted to rearranging letters to create something new ... a cool way to amuse yourself for a couple of idle moments.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: EBay

Geographic location: St. John's, Canada, U.S. New York Boston Fenway Park

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