Up until a few months ago, most distillers of vodka thought it was imperative to merchandise their products under Russian trade names.

Much of the Vodka sold in this country is made in this country. In fact, some of it comes from just a few miles down the roof in Bal'mer. But many distillers found that sales perked up when the name on the label sounded Russian.

Perhaps this was because most customers don't read the small print on a label and therefore don't know where the product is made. Many buyers of domestic brands probably thought they were getting vodka imported from the Soviet Union. That was good for business.

Then the Russians invaded Afghanistan. Techniques for marketing vodka in the United States were suddenly turned upside down. American distillers found it necessary to advertise the fact that their Russian-sounding vodkas are really made right here in the United States.

Why? Ask the owner of your neighborhood wet goods store. He'll tell you how popular Ivan is these days. WHAT IF SHE'S RIGHT?

Besty Freitag says there's an extra reason for asking young people to register for possible service in the event of a national emergency, and she's not thinking about Ivan. She writes:

"We have all been warned since 1969 that there is going to be a huge earthquake in California, and that California is going into the sea. We are getting a taste of it now with the rain in California. California Geological Survey has told us that the continental shelf on the west side of the San Andreas Fault is undercut by the sea all the way to the Fault, and there is very little holding up that hunk of land. A good earthquake will knock that area into the sea.

"California grows up to three-quarters of our food. The Army is going to have to distribute food because everything else is going to be mixed up. Along with the earthquake there will also be tidal waves, a tsunami from the earthquake on the West Coast and a sympathetic tidal wave on the east and southern coasts. There will be need for a concerted, centralized rescue effort -- and what better agencies could we have for rescue work than the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and all our young people helping? The danger of war is always present, but the probability of national emergency is absolutely certain."

I will quickly concede that there will be a national emergency caused by earthquakes and massive land shifts.

Some day, there will almost certainly be huge earthquakes, in California and elsewhere. And if you believe, as most scientists do, that the Western Hemisphere has been drifting westward for eons, then it is reasonable to assume that additonal drifting will take place, probably accompained by death, and destruction.

The big question is: When will all this take place?

I have seen no evidence that science can at this time predict earthquakes or the movement of large land masses with pinpoint accuracy.

Scientists are getting better at it, but they still have much to learn.

At this point, we're not even sure whether such things take place in the form of one cataclysmic event that occurs in a relatively short time span or whether they occur gradually over the span of hundreds of generations.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on a violent earthquake in California in your lifetime, if not in mine.

But I don't think you'll be around to see California drop into the sea. The odds against our living in a critical year or decade or centruy in geologic time seem to be quite large.

But holy mackerel, what if Betsy is right? In the long run, somebody will be, you know. If people continue to predict catastrophes, eventually somebody will predict one on the day before it actually happens.

And I don't want to be the fellow who scoffs at a warning on the day before the world comes to an end. ADDENDUM

I had to look up Betsy's "tsunami," and if you are also unfamiliar with the word I'll save you the bother of looking it up. My dictionary says it is derived from the Japanese words tsu (harbor) and nami (wave) and means, "a huge sea wave caused by a submarine disturbance, as an earthquake or violent eruption; also popularly, but inaccurately, called tidal wave." TIME MARCHES ON!

Changing Times magazine comments: "Once they filled the tank, checked the oil and battery and cleaned the windows and we called them 'filling stations.' Now we do all that ourselves and call them 'service' stations.'"

Changing Times also has something good to say about the Susan B. Anthony dollar. "If you drop one, it won't blow away."