Bobbing Around

Volume Ten, Number Two
August, 2010

Bob Rich's (organic green) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Elections in Australia
  Choose nuclear free, from Jim Green
  Humanity to be cooked, by John James
  Slow food needs fast break
  McDonalds to protect the environment? by Nancy Roberts
  Losing the war, by Angel Flinn
  Condoms for climate change?
  Denial: the biggest killer
*Deeper issues
  The man in the mirror, by Lyn Benson
  A free resource: if you work with Indigenous clients
  Teenage anger
  I am a failure
  I fear loneliness
  Role playing a murder victim
*For writers
  The second opinion
*What my friends want you to know
  August 19: Build Green expo
  August 31 teleclass: A Course In Laughter
  August Bainstorming
  Michael Larocca's books available, some for free
  A frog story

   Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED. No part of it may be reproduced in any form, at any venue, without the express permission of the publisher (ME!) and the author if that is another person. You may forward the entire magazine to anyone else.


   I had this newsletter ready to go out some weeks ago. But...

   But I dropped my computer, and it needed replacing. The new one has a newer operating system, and my old FTP client wouldn't work on it. I got a new program, but my upload logging in details were locked up in the non-functional old one. And, by Murphy's Law, my friend who is my ISP was running a course full time, and had no time to even read his emails. Finally, he has sent me the details so I can upload.

   In the meantime, several time-sensitive events have passed their use-by date. This includes the one below.

   It's less time to leave it there and apologise than to replace it.


Last chance to enter

   EPIC is currently open for eBook entries for their 2011 eBook Awards Competition until August 15, 2010. If you have works that meets this year’s criteria, I encourage you to enter! You can check out the current Competition Guidelines at:

   Come join us and take part in the oldest eBook competition still in existence, one that continues to grow every year! There are a lot of great books to be read, and new authors to discover, in EPIC's 2011 eBook Awards Competition.

   “When the winds of change blow, some people build shelters, and some build windmills.”
-- Chinese proverb

I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.


Elections in Australia
Choose nuclear free from Jim Green

Elections in Australia

   As I write, Australia is gearing up for an election. It is the usual circus, with extravagant promises, and divisive, confrontative rhetoric. And the choice is between bad and worse.

   I find the policies and promises of the two major parties to be depressingly similar, and depressingly unrealistic. They operate in a make-believe world in which economic growth is the measure of all things, in which resources are there and always will be there for the taking, and in which technology will always supply the solutions to intractable problems.

   Sadly, the political party of my choice, the Australian Democrats, has self-destructed although a small group of stalwarts is still hanging on. Their place has been taken by the Greens. I approve of their policies, and will vote for them, although I do not approve of their tactics. Unlike the Democrats, who used their balance of power to enable government through negotiating amendments that advanced environmental and humanitarian goals, the Greens go for the same ends through confrontation. And for me, the means are as important as the ends they are designed to achieve.

   Actually, the whole design of so-called democracy is faulty. In Australia, we have the Westminster system of political parties vying for rule. This is not democracy, but the regular election of temporary dictators. It is not even representative government, because elected politicians are required to toe a party line.

   I recently received training in how to be a company director. It is interesting that, by law, a director must not represent a sectional interest within the company, but must advance the welfare of the company as a whole. Directors must not form internal "political parties." Imagine a government organised along the same lines! Would that not be a lot better?

Choose nuclear free
from Jim Green

   Choose Nuclear Free is an initiative of the Medical Association for Prevention of War, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Friends of the Earth, Australia.

   Help us build a nuclear-free future!

  1. Visit and promote the Choose Nuclear Free website:

    The website contains a wide range of resources -- details of political parties' nuclear policies and an animated policy graphic; a summary of key nuclear issues; videos, cartoons and music; and election resources to help Australians to 'Choose Nuclear Free'.

  2. Download and circulate our party scorecard and issues summary.

    And see our feature article in The Canberra Times.

  3. Contact election candidates, or attend candidate meetings and debates, and raise nuclear issues.

       Ideas, and information on candidates, is posted at:

       The policy scorecard and issues summary provide information on key issues.

  4. Write letters to newspapers & ring talk-back radio.

       Tips and contact details are posted at:

  5. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

   To keep up to date with nuclear issues during and beyond the election period:


Humanity to be cooked by John James
Slow food needs fast break from Swami Beyondananda
McDonalds to protect the environment? by Nancy Roberts
Losing the war by Angel Finn
Condoms for climate change?

Humanity to be cooked
by John James

   The outcome of negotiations to reduce Greenhouse emissions sounds a lot better than it is. Following Copenhagen the consequences are not going to achieve what we need for survival.

   You can check out the Climate Scoreboard to see where we need to be, and where we are going.

   The data on a separate page shows that confirmed proposals by governemnts, no matter how good they sound, still lead us to 770 ppm CO2 by the end of this century. This is a lot higher when we include all the other greenhouse gasses.

   The outcome of this would be almost 4 degrees Centigrade.

   This world would be extremely hard to live in. Read Crunch Time by Tony Kevin for the a somewhat more positive outcome in which a good, if frugal, life is still viable, or read The Road by Cormac McCarthy for a more likely lifestyle.

   There is little future for us if we continue to prevaricate.

John James

   Please forward this newsletter to your friends and encourage them to join the mailing list at

Slow food needs fast break
from Swami Beyondananda

Dear Friends:

   Now that the derivative economy has vanished, taking real and imaginary wealth with it, now what? Well, it's time to get real, and build a new economy that creates good goods and greater goodness. This new economy will likely be based on four factors that we call Original Wealth. Two of these are provided by nature, and two by healthy human endeavor.

   Nature provides us with:

  1. Food from the earth.
  2. Abundant energy from the sun.

    Healthy humans offer:

  3. Love (i.e., that which builds health, coherence, happiness and nurturance).
  4. Imagination (using our intelligence to multiply scarce resources, or use them more efficiently).

   Once we boil away all the financial mumbo-jumbo, this is what we are left with. The question is, how does this add up to an economy? How do we support self-sufficiency and local autonomy? Slow Money, an excellent book by Woody Tasch, suggests that the foundation of this new economy is locally-grown food. With transportation costs rising, the ability to produce abundant food locally makes economic and ecologic sense. With this "original wealth" sprouting 24/7, other industries, services and jobs can grow up around growing.

   I just found out about an opportunity that will definitely feed two or more birds with one scone. Two graduates of San Francisco Waldorf School, Peter Zabelin and Jared Fine are the founders of Local Grow, an online agricultural knowledge base and community. At a time when we need to grow more nutritious food more efficiently, Local Grow provides an "open source" for all aspects of independent food production. They provide the tools to connect gardeners, farmers and consumers to facilitate the exchange of locally-relevant information and regional produce. Local Grow has been in development for several years but is just now trying to get off the ground -- or perhaps in this case, out of the ground.

   Since the big banks seem to have used their bail out money to invest in three big houses (the two Houses of Congress and the White House), there isn't much left over to actually support generative ventures. Enter Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a way for individuals everywhere to "vote with their dollars" to provide grassroots funding for worthy ventures. Large numbers of people can multiply small sums of money into seed funding for worthy ventures.

   If you want to support local growing and local growers, if you want to help proliferate "victory gardens" everywhere, and if you want to be a champion of sustainable growing, here is your opportunity to help "kickstart" a venture that is freely proliferating valuable information for free. Their goal is to raise $10,000 by August 11th, just nine days from now. You can help by contributing a small -- or large -- amount on your own, and by spreading the word throughout your network.

   What goes around, comes around. Help build the foundation for a new and healthy economy, and help regrow the Garden from the grassroots up.

Local Grow

McDonalds to protect the environment?
by Nancy Roberts

   The UK Guardian reports that McDonald's is funding a three-year study of cows on 350 British farms to look for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The methane emitted from cows and other livestock is a significant factor in global warming, according to multiple studies, and the British government has asked industry to see what can be done to mitigate the problem. The study will be conducted by an independent consulting entity, the E-CO2 project. Over three years researchers will regularly measure greenhouse gas emissions on the farms and specialists will advise on ways to reduce the methane levels.

   How far would McDonald's go toward envisioning the kind of radical change in its offerings that might make a real difference? It is tempting to roll one's eyes and view McDonald's as the corporate devil, and I have certainly done my share of dismissive shrugs. However, any progress in understanding cause and effect of greenhouse gas emissions is useful. McDonald's is doing (part of) its job in funding the project, but it is really up to all of us "non experts" to ask the tougher questions:

Can You Bite the Hand That Funds You?

   Can those performing a study funded by a multinational corporation be trusted to come up with results that might displease the people with the purse strings? Is it asking too much of business not to expect a "return" for their investment in green or environmental research and good citizenship? While I do not impugn the morals of the researchers, it is only human not to bite the hand that feeds you.

Who Is Blowing Smoke?

   By examining the symptoms (methane emissions) are we avoiding the tougher questions around what is causing the emissions? Cows (and indeed, humans) emit methane in the process of digestion; but variations of diet and the sheer number of animals, driven by demand for dairy and beef, has made livestock, by some estimates, the cause of 18% of global warming. Rather than accepting the methane and trying to mitigate it, are there ways to cut down on the number of cows?

What's Normal?

   When did eating meat two or three times a day become normal? In many cultures today, meat is an occasional luxury. In the U.S., per capita meat consumption has risen from 125 pounds in 1950 to 201 pounds per person per year in 2007, in a period where we have seen increases in obesity, heart disease and other illnesses of poor nutrition. And the western diet is being adopted by more people globally, increasing the demand for meat. What chance do we have to instill a cultural change, a shift away from a norm of eating four pounds of meat a week per person?

   The food journalist Michael Pollan is an inspiration when it comes to fortifying oneself against the advertising industry and the corporate titans of processed food. His book In Defense of Food contains the simplest rules of all, and sometimes the hardest to follow, as he promotes mindful eating of food prepared from fresh products, mostly vegetables and fruits. His mantra--Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.--is a challenge to all that McDonald's currently stands for. It is simple, to the point, and a challenge to all of us to eat consciously to improve our health and to mitigate global warming and global inequity. And if enough of us change how we eat, McDonald's will follow our lead. >

Losing the war
by Angel Flinn

   In 2010, on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we stand at a critical point in history. Gone are the days when skeptics could write off the predictions of environmentalists as being alarmist or extreme. Like it or not, the predictions of global eco-system collapse appear to be coming true, and the urgency grows with every passing day.

   For some time now, we have been at war with the natural world, and increasingly, it seems that we are all on the losing side -- humans, other animals and the planet itself. Having appointed ourselves the dictators of the future of all life as we know it, we now find ourselves on the receiving end of the violence we have inflicted during an unprecedented planetary reign of terror.

   The only way we will be able to change our perilous course, is to be willing to change the behavior that has created it. The choices of every individual, in every area of life -- from procreation to dietary practice -- have to be examined with new eyes; not through the lens of one's personal desires, rather, by posing the question of how these choices impact the rest of the planet.

   For too long, we have luxuriated in the temporary pleasures of an unsustainable self-indulgence – using the resources of the planet, as well as its other inhabitants, however we have seen fit.

   It is time for us all to turn our attention away from superficial "solutions" and toward addressing deeper issues. We must change the way we think and feel, in order to change the way we act. It's time for us all to seriously re-examine what makes us happy, and whether what we want is more wealth, possessions and sensory gratification, or whether our efforts would be better directed toward finding fulfillment of a higher nature.

   Now is the time – for all movements of positive social change – to converge around the most pressing issues of the day and create a plan of action to offer to the world as a map out of the madness. Above all, we need to examine the prevailing lack of concern – for nothing less than life itself – that has led us to this potentially disastrous situation.

   We need to treat the root cause of all our problems: The conscience of humanity has been deadened, by our universal silent agreement to ignore and deny issues of critical ethical concern. As well as spiritually alienating us all, from each other and from the rest of the natural world, this vast moral void is causing us to destroy the very systems that support life as we know it, even though we all know that it is happening, and we are actually watching it occur before our very eyes.

   But there is a solution to this. We need to make a new agreement: an agreement to embrace basic human values that we have turned our backs on. By re-evaluating and renewing our commitment to fundamental values, and by calling attention to the need for an ethical evolution, we can create new standards for truly sustainable behavior.

   The keys to a new world of safety and plenty are at our fingertips. What we need is to be willing to embrace the evolution of values that will illuminate our choices and show us the way. If we are open to the necessary changes, we can step forward together into a new humanity, and become a species that recognizes the importance of qualities such as empathy, compassion, justice and respect; for the natural world, for the other animals, and for our fellow humans.

Condoms for climate change?

   Although the mere mention of limiting family size as a way to reduce global warming is likely to raise the hackles of individuals on both sides of the aisle, some environmentalists believe that there is no other alternative, and are proudly embracing a life of voluntary childlessness as GINKs: green inclinations, no kids.

   If this adults-only lifestyle rubs you the wrong way, you can still help to lower birth rates by working to raise the standard of living for women worldwide.

   Many studies have shown that countries where women have less access to health care and education have the highest birth rates. Just last year the U.N. Population Fund stated that the battle against global warming could be helped by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available.

   It's also worth pointing out that slowing the rate at which humans are born is one of the only ways that all countries could participate in an emissions reduction plan without being denied access to the energy resources needed for continued development.

   Aside from becoming a GINK, supporting an NGO that promotes women's education might be the best thing you can do for the planet.


Denial: the biggest killer

   She has no alcohol problem. OK, she likes a drink or two or three, but there is no harm in that, is there? Her health is good, she can perform all her many duties and enjoy her wide range of hobbies, so why should she not have a relax every now and then?

   Her husband comes home after a hard day's work. The house is cold, a mess of random objects like half-empty shopping bags covers much of the floor. She comes to him with a big smile, but it's the distorted grimace of a smile he has come to hate and fear. He can smell the stuff on her breath, and she staggers a little as she walks away after their hug.

   From long experience, he knows that saying anything will lead either to a screaming match, or to a hurt withdrawal away from him. And tomorrow morning, she will have no memory of either. Anything he says now will be lost to amnesia.

   She seems to be a different person while sozzled. She makes rude remarks, is quite aggressive, but also, she has trouble finding the word she wants, and slurs her speech. On occasion, she has fallen.

   In the morning, there is no hangover -- but also, no memory of the night before. Life goes on. And when he brings the matter up, she denies that there is a problem.

   This pattern goes on in millions of families. Often, the husband is the one who drinks and denies. That can be worse, because of the physical power difference. Many abusive relationships are fuelled by alcohol. And a huge proportion of my clients need to see me because dad was a drunkard.

   People who love someone with this problem (whether the issue is alcohol, other drugs, or gambling) are in an impossible situation. There is, literally, nothing that can be done. Until the sufferer can admit that there is a problem s/he has no motivation to change. And the most powerful tool to enable denial is to say the problem is the other person's. "You're just a spoilsport. There is nothing wrong. Leave me alone."

   There is help: an organisation called Al Anon. It is specifically set up to support those who have to live with unacknowledged alcohol abuse. Look them up.

Deeper Issues

The man in the mirror by Lyn Benson

The man in the mirror
by Lyn Benson

   “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways...” Michael Jackson “The Man in the Mirror” (1988)

   Michael Jackson is a cult hero, both idolized and reviled in life -- he has now attained the status of wronged saint, immortalized and forgiven for any past misdemeanours.

   When we look at the “ in the mirror,” who do we see? Often we don’t see anyone at all, just a quick glance can be enough to check makeup, hair in place and then out the door. But who IS the man in the mirror?

   Who is the “I” that is “Me”? I attended a workshop in December 2009 where Daniel Siegel (Author; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry; Co-Director UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre) skilfully took us through a Mindfulness exercise which coached the audience to get in touch with what Siegel termed the “hub” of the mind. The point at the depths or centre of the mind, a space behind the eyes. From this vantage point, where everything is deep, peaceful and calm, like the depths of the ocean, we were instructed to look upwards towards the rim or surface of the mind, the surface of the sea of our mind. The surface of the mind is where all mental activity happens. Thoughts, feelings, memories, beliefs, attitudes, worries, planning. Being able to visualize the rim of the mind, the surface of the mind as just mental activities was a succinct and eloquent way to visualize a separate “I” that is actually doing the looking up. So instantly it becomes clear that “I” am separate from my thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

   What does it mean to acknowledge that “I” have a core, a “me” and am not just an organism who reacts to what is happening around me? Being able to obtain a sense of who “I” actually am, even momentarily, can have a very positive spinoff effect. It can allow me to step away from intense situations, the rawness of my vulnerabilities. I can allow myself the luxury of reflection, consideration, distance from my (sometimes) primitive emotional states which are NOT the sum total of who I am, but only a collection of thoughts, feelings, reactions and sensations that I am experiencing in that moment. This recognition can mean I can now easily access a sanctuary inside of myself, a place of refuge, a relief in this “hub” of my “self.”

   In terms of client education, this knowledge can be a valuable tool. Clients often complain that they “don’t have time” to look after themselves. Designing focussed Mindfulness exercises to work with clients who tend to be reactive, attribute blame, deny responsibility or lack insight can have powerful and immediate benefits for the client.

   When we support clients to be more in tune with themselves, to notice the “I” that is the “me” in the mirror, clients can begin to develop the capacity to listen to themselves. “The capacity to listen to ourselves is the foundation of the capacity of listening to others. The capacity of loving others depends on the capacity to love ourselves.” Thich Nhat Hanh “Teachings on Love” CD, 1996.

Lyn Benson

Lyn Benson is committed to working with individuals and families to enrich their lives blending Psychotherapy and holistic practices. Lyn has extensive experience designing and facilitating Workshops for Australian and International participants.

   In October 2010, Lyn is co-facilitating “The ACT of Mindful Love” (20 hours) in New Zealand. Contact


A free resource: if you work with Indigenous clients
Teenage anger
I am a failure
I fear loneliness
Role playing a murder victim

A free resource: if you work with Indigenous clients

   ...and useful even if you don't.

   In many parts of the world, notably in Australia and North America, the wounds of colonialism are still bleeding. Generations of cultural destruction lead to internalised stigma, and behaviour that is then judged, leading to more stigma.

   We need to break this vicious cycle.

   A group of Indigenous Australian psychologists are showing how, in this free book. I personally know several of them, and they are a shining example to anyone. They, with other high-achieving Indigenous people, provide inspiration as well as direction in how to right this terrible wrong.

   If you are a professional helper who works with Indigenous clients, you can't do without this book. Even if you are a professional helper who doesn't work with Indigenous clients, you will learn heaps about how to treat the disadvantaged among your case load. And even if you are not a professional helper, you will become a better person for having read this book.

Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing: Principles and Practice
By Kerrie Kelly, Pat Dudgeon, Graham Gee and Belle Glaskin on behalf of the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association. AIPA is a beloved child of the Australian Psychological Association.

Teenage anger

   Sir, I am a teenage boy of 16 years age. I am unable to control my anger. I get angry frequently. I sometime use slang's to my parents and also beat. Sir I beg to you please suggest me how to control my anger.

Thank You

Jamal, there are two answers.

   First, this is normal.

   Second, you can do something about it.

   It is normal for teenage boys to easily become angry. Your body has recently developed a lot of testosterone. You are growing in size and physical power. You are encountering new challenges all the time, and this can be frustrating. Feeling angry is normal, even for adults. So, the first thing you can do is to accept it. It is OK to feel like that. You did not cause your emotions. They come uninvited. Therefore, you are not responsible for them. You are not guilty of anything for feeling angry.

   However, you are responsible for what you say, what you do. And there, you do have control.

   Just because you are angry does NOT mean that you must be violent, abusive or even rude. "OK, when she does that, it makes me angry. How can I best handle this situation?"

   This takes a few seconds to write or say aloud. However, you can make it a habit of thought, and then it can happen in an instant, so fast that it is not even noticeable by somebody else. While you are learning this habit, you will often slip up and do things the old way. Then you need to stop, take a deep breath and apologise. Then start again, handling the situation in a better way.

   You can explain yourself to your parents and whoever else is involved. Tell them that from now on you will handle any conflict in a strong, mature way that avoids violence, abuse and rudeness. Ask them to do the same to you, even if you slip into old habits. Ask them that when you do slip back, they simply remind you that you have decided not to do things that way any more.

   You can then accept the reminder. If necessary, leave the situation for a few minutes, and think about what the best response should be. Then come back, and do that.

   The best response is usually something assertive. That means that you defend yourself from anything unfair or bad, without attacking. It goes something like this: "When you [do something I don't like], I feel [angry or whatever], so please [do this instead]. "When you step on my foot it hurts, so please get off." "When I have a lot of homework to do and you want me to clean up my room, I feel overwhelmed. How about I do half an hour of homework, then some tidying?"

   The other thing you can do is to let off extra physical energy by playing a sport or doing another form of vigorous physical exercise.

   My final suggestion is to remember that there is more to life than the current issue that is getting you angry. That man is telling you something that gets you angry. But he is also your father who loves you, and whom you love. The two of you share many things. He has supported you through 16 years of childhood, and if something bad happened to him, you would be devastated. Remembering this will help you to handle the situation in a way that does look after your interests, but in a way that does not cause either of you distress.

   When you have put these measures into place, you might want to let me know how they worked for you.


I am a failure

Hi Bob,

   My name is Donald. I am currently going through a very depressive phase. It all started after I graduated from my University. The current economic environment has been so severe where I live that I haven't been able to find a job 3 months since I graduated. Rejection after rejection has brought my spirits down. On top of that I am far away from my parents both of whom are really sick. I just can't move or eat any more. I feel like killing myself and don't know what to do most of the time. I feel like a failure in life. Recently one firm invited me for an interview. I prepared well for it and made it to the last rounds of the interview process but was ultimately rejected for someone more experienced. The disappointment of missing out on the interview has been too much for me to bear. I am from a third world country living in a developed country and the financial burden has started to put a lot of pressure on me. On one hand I feel like killing myself and getting rid of this burden that has been haunting me for over three months. The thought of my sick parents, who will be left with out any help if I die, is driving me into further depression. Even if I live I wouldn't be able to help them much. I just don't know what to do now. I just don't know how to deal with this situation.


Dear Donald,

   My son graduated from University some 20 years ago, and has never used the degree for any commercial purpose. He has never had a job in the field he studied for. All the same, he has built up a wonderful life for himself, and is making far more money than I do (with 3 degrees). The years he spent studying were not wasted, because he got an education as well as a degree. When he gets interested in some field ( he has had several in his life), he approaches it more intelligently and effectively because of his years at university.

   In my case, I trained and worked as a research scientist, and retired at 35. I then worked as a laborer in the building field, and trained and worked as a nurse. I've retired from both those fields, and now am working as a counseling psychologist (for which I have formal training) and as a writer and editor (for which I have no training at all, only skill and experience).

   I used to have a friend who was one of the local dentists. He told me he was bored shitless, and then he sold his partnership and moved to the seaside. I asked him what he was going to do there. He said, "I bought into the dental partnership. What else can I do?"

   He could have stacked shelves at the supermarket, done a year's training and gone into teaching dental students, got a caravan and an SUV and established a traveling dental service in remote communities, or used his friendly personality in a sales job.

   While you were a student, that was your life. You may have thought of it as preparation for a career, but actually the truth was that you were a student. In the future, you may well build a career in the field you studied for. In the meantime, while continuing to work toward that goal, you also have a life to live now. You are intelligent. Use that to solve problems. Part of that is how to earn a living now. Don't get caught in straight-line thinking like "I've spent three years of my life training to be an X, so the only way I will work is as an X."

   Now for the depression. That is a separate problem from your career. I've had similarly desperate clients who achieved their chosen occupation, got the "perfect job," then hated it. I know people who are depressed because of relatively mild chronic pain, and others with terrible, painful health conditions who wish they were free of pain and healthy, but are content with life and get on with it.

   The depression doesn't come from your circumstances, but from your reaction to them.

   Read the "first aid" document at my web site Put those measures into practice, particularly regarding sleeping and food.

   Depression is a choice. Refuse to be a puppet to your thoughts and emotions. Decide how you want to react to your circumstances, then do that, regardless of the inner feelings.

I fear loneliness

   I'm 16 years old, and I have a large fear of loneliness.

   The fear only builds up on days when I feel depressed. Somedays, I feel really happy and on top of the world. But other days I feel really depressed and paranoid.

   When I feel paranoid, I get scared of being alone. But I just hide from people, because I don't want to hurt them. This only pushes people away, and makes my loneliness much worse.

   I find it hard to talk to people, and I'm too scared to talk to others about my feelings, and fears.

   Recently, my depressions have been getting stronger, and my paranoia as well. One day, during school my paranoia caused me to shake violently, and people noticed. My friends were worried, but I was too scared and I just hid from everyone.

   I don't want to be alone, but when I'm with people, I end up pushing them away. Is there something wrong with me. Is it normal to feel really happy, then depressed frequently? Can these problems get worse with time?

   Please, I need advice.

Dear Mark,

   I know nothing about you, except for the few lines you have written to me. But from that little bit, I can see good things about you.

   You are thoughtful and intelligent, able to express your thoughts and feelings.

   You are sensitive, and are motivated not to hurt other people.

   You are in tune with your emotions, and mature for your age in how you can analyze them.

   The only other thing I get out of your message is that sometimes you feel sad and lonely, and at other times you feel fine.

   There are two possible interpretations of this, and from here, I cannot tell which is true. Maybe both have an element of truth.

   One possibility is that actually there is nothing wrong with you, except that maybe you are TOO given to analyzing your feelings.

   Here is an experiment: For one minute, do NOT think of the word hippopotamus.

   OK? As soon as I placed that word in your mind, it was there, and the more you gave it attention by trying not to have it there, the more it stayed. Attention gives thoughts and feelings power.

   So, maybe, in the same way, your periods of sadness have power because you struggle with them, worry about them, put labels like “paranoid” on them. And the more attention you give to the problem, the worse it gets, simply because of the attention.

   The second possibility, which as I said can coexist with the first, is that you may be one of the many millions of people who have bipolar disorder. That involves mood swings.

   People believe all sorts of nonsense about bipolar disorder. It does not mean that you are crazy. Many great artists, poets, musicians, politicians, doctors, lawyers, engineers have had bipolar. In fact, it seems to go to some extent with great creativity.

   Go to and you will find a letter from a lady who has lived very well with bipolar for half her life. (Bipolar without drugs.) Read what she says.

   If after that you think you also may have bipolar, then organize an appointment with a person who can assess you.

   But even if the diagnosis is that you have it, that does not make you any more faulty than other people. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people are susceptible to diabetes. Others are likely to die young from heart attacks. Some have a bad body odor. Others have low intelligence, meaning that it is difficult for them to learn and to solve problems.

   God deals the cards. It is up to us to play our hand as well as we can. Your problem is yours to solve, whether there is a medical cause for it or not.

   OK, so how to deal with your sad times?

   First, when they happen, accept them. Your depression gains power when you struggle with it, so stop struggling. “I am feeling down at the moment. It feels awful, but it’s OK. Every other time this happened, I got through it and it ended.”

   Second, it is not something you are, but something you are doing. You are perfect. Some of the things you are doing are excellent. Some are OK. The rest is the growing edges, the suffering that is the spur to improvement, the learning opportunity.

   So, instead of feeling bad because you are feeling sad, examine what you are doing, and experiment how you can do things differently. At the moment, when you are feeling sad, you isolate yourself from others. This has not worked. Try other responses.

   When I was your age, I was terribly depressed, all the time. The only holidays from misery were when I went for a run, or when I got so involved in studying and reading that I had no attention left for myself. So, I did a lot of study, and a lot of reading, and I became a distance runner, spending hours running every day. So now, as an old man, I am still physically fit compared to most other people, and I have several university degrees and live a good life.

   Become an actor. When you are down, set yourself the task of keeping it a secret from other people. Some of the world’s greatest comics were depressed, or highly anxious about facing an audience. That was precisely why they became great. They used their handicap to rise above the crowd. Imagine you have a job. It is to fool people around you into believing that you are feeling fine. Concentrate on the performance, monitor their reactions to you -- and then you have no attention left to worrying about feeling sad.

   Get involved in things outside yourself. Like I did, you can get immersed in study. Since you are intelligent, you might find some friends who struggle with school work, and help them. Get involved in a sport, a socially useful activity, a hobby. Do things for people, like maybe there is someone living near you who can use some assistance because they are old or sick or have too many little kids.

   Look around at the world around you. It is full of stupidity, conflict, inefficiency. There are many causes, crying out for someone to do something about them. Find a passion, and join a group devoted to making the world a better place. If there is no such group, start one up.

   If you read the life histories of the great leaders, you will find suffering in all of them. Suffering is an opportunity for growth. Grow. When you are down, ask yourself, “How can I use this opportunity to become a better person?”

   These are just a few ideas. They are the kinds of things that have worked for me, and for a great many other people. Use my ideas to generate your own, unique ones.

   Have a good life. You can.


Role playing a murder victim

   i'm a 22 y/o (female) now and was badly abused as a child (sexually and emotionally). There has been a lot of stress going on for me and i just wanted it all to end (the stress and the constant nightmares), so i had been talking with this guy online whom i had found off of some website and he had also been badly abused (he is 21) and he offered to rape/murder me. We graphically planned how he was going to take my life, what method and under what circumstances (including him mentioning buying a knife specifically to butcher me with). In the emails he talked about several different topics including: snuff, cannibalism, and others (I'M NOT INTO ANY OF THOSE SUBJECTS, he is) and he wanted to take my life by gutting/throat slitting while raping me in front of a camera. Me and this guy formed a strong bond and we used eachother as therapy, discussing our problems and the abuse we both suffered. Well, turns out my brother ended up snooping through my emails and read them all. To be honest, it was all basically just a role-play/twisted fantasy for both of us to get our frustrations out with our current situations. Could this get either one of us in trouble with the law? (and by the way, i'm not suicidal!! it was more just venting. Once again, me and this guy have a very close relationship even though we have never met and chances are, we'll never meet). Could (WOULD) a counselor commit me for having this desire?

My dear, you could be in deadly danger. This is serious, and thank heavens that your brother found out about it.

   For you, it’s all role play, venting, make-believe. It is possible that the same is true for the guy -- but it’s also possible that he is only pretending to be pretending. I do hope you have not let him have any identifying details, like the general area you live in or the like. I hope he doesn’t know your real name, or what you look like.

   You see, for you the fantasy does not involve harming anyone else. For him it does. The fact that he is imagining doing terrible things to somebody makes it likely that even if now he thinks he doesn’t actually want to do it, in the future he may.

   Also, what you have been doing with this guy is the opposite of therapy. It has confirmed for you a view of being damaged faulty, not worthy of life, someone who can be abused and hurt. If you came to me for therapy, this would definitely NOT be the way we’d work.

   You have not done anything to break the law, and as far as his interactions with you are concerned, neither has he (he might well be a criminal and you wouldn’t know it unless he told you). Your communications are damaging to both of you, but does not involve the kind of thing that calls for inpatient treatment. So, if you seek competent help, it’s highly unlikely that you would be locked up.

   I strongly recommend that you:

  1. Send just ONE more email to this guy, telling him it’s all over. Tell him that he desperately and urgently needs psychotherapy, and that if he keeps going the way he does, he is highly likely to put his fantasies into effect and hurt some poor person. He can then end up on death row, or many years in jail, depending on where he lives.
  2. Then change your email address. Don’t make the new one some version of a dog, because that will allow him to guess. Read through your records and see what details about you he may have learned. If there are any identifying details, act on the assumption that you are in danger, and take whatever precautions are necessary, such as moving to a different state. I am serious.
  3. Seek therapy for the childhood abuse. You do not need to mention the correspondence with this guy to the therapist until you know that you can trust him/her.

   By working through your past trauma, you can build a good life for yourself.

   You are welcome to email me back.

Look after yourself,

The second opinion

   I finished a novel late last year, and submitted it to the Amazon/Penguin "Breakthrough Novel" contest. It got through the first stage, but no further. So, I put it away to get cold, and got it out recently.

   One of my decisions was to change the scenes in my heroine's point of view from third to first person. If you've ever done this, you'll know that it's a LOT of mucking about. There is the endless mechanical job of replacing "she" with "I" and the like, as well as far more subtle aspects. When presenting a small girl in the third person, I can use adult language. Switch to the first person, and her grammar and choice of words will need to be age-appropriate.

   Having gone through and done this, I needed a second person to find the glitches I was guaranteed to have left behind. I approached my friend in Tasmania, Carolyn Harris. She's been MARVELLOUS, and our interaction has reminded me of all the many reasons even the best of writers needs assessment and feedback from someone else who has a critical mindset.

   Certainly, Carolyn picked up the odd "herself" I'd left behind, and a word here and there that did not fit the mindset of the character. But she also did far more. In effect, she did a thorough content edit. This book is historical fiction, and she challenged me on some of my facts. She even suggested ways I could achieve what I wanted in a scene while correcting inaccuracies.

   These are beyond what a typical editor is likely to have the knowledge to do, but when I have the relevant background, I've been known to do the same for my clients.

   Nor does the second opinion need to be lengthy. Years ago, my science fiction book Sleeper, Awake was assessed by Ariana Overton. She only made three comments, which then guided a rewrite. I am convinced that this converted a good book into an award winner.

   So, stage 1 is writing your book. Make it the best you can unaided. Then find someone knowledgeable and critical to give you feedback. This can, but need not be, a paid editor. For Aniko: The stranger who loved me, I did crit swaps with 20 other writers I respected.

What my friends want you to know

Build Green expo
teleclass: A Course In Laughter
August Bainstorming
Michael Larocca's books available, some for free

Build Green expo

Help spread the word on sustainability at Build Green Expo

   Want to help spread the word about sustainability with the ATA? (Alternative Technology Association)

   If you would like to promote renewable energy and sustainable building, please come along and help out on the ATA stand at the Build Green Expo at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre in Melbourne.

   As part of the Herald Sun Home Show and Garden Expo, the HIA BuildGreen Expo includes the latest products, advice and solutions to convert your existing home or build a new green home.

   ATA’s stall will be providing information on sustainable living and will be showcasing ATA’s publications, including ReNew and Sanctuary magazines.

   We’re looking for volunteers for two hour spots between the following times:

   We will need helpers on:

   For more information on the expo go to

   If you can help out please contact Francesca at the ATA on or ph: (03) 9631 5413.

teleclass: A Course In Laughter

Announcing: A Course In Laughter Teleclass with Steve Bhaerman
and Cosmic Comic Sidekick Swami Beyondananda

   For those of you who want to take humor more seriously ... and seriousness more humorously ... here is your chance to do just that, and even do it in your pajamas if you like.

   If you've wondered how to activate your own comic sensibilities, and bring the healing power of laughter to your inner and outer world, this will be a chance to spend four informative and highly-entertaining hours with Steve Bhaerman, the man behind Swami Beyondananda. The class will consist of four Tuesday evening sessions, running from Tuesday, August 10th through Tuesday, August 31st from 5 to 6 pm PT, 8 to 9 pm ET.

   You will learn about comedy from the inside out, and find out how even a non-comedian can practice "situational comedy" in almost any situation. As part of your registration fee, you will get:

   The cost is $69 for the four week session, $54 if you have already purchased the e-book.

   Can't make all four sessions? You'll be able to listen to any session you've missed, as well as any other session as many times as you like during the course of the course, at no extra charge.

   Don't want a four-week class? Then register for a highly-interactive two hour intensive, Creating Your Laugh Story, scheduled for Wednesday, August 25th, from 5 to 7 p.m. PT, 8 to 10 pm PT. This class is limited to 12 participants, and the cost is $119. This class is perfect for anyone with a specific humor project they are working on, and includes a private 30 minute consultation (a $50 value). Participants will get a 25% discount for any additional one-on-one consultations they book during 2010.

   Register here, and invite your friends too because when it comes to laughter, the more the merrier. You'll laugh while you learn, and learn while you laugh!

   To register for the A Course in Laughter Teleclasses, please go here:

   The August issue of Bainstorming is now live at

   Subjects this month: Future of our debt, Oil Quote, Global warming--why worry? God quotes, Idiot pets, Fever, Oops!, Book Report, Quote from David Weber book, Tonto and the tomatoes, Quote from David Weber book, Words in English, Progress report, Excerpt from Hotline To Heaven.

Darrell Bain
Fictionwise Author of the year
Multiple Epic and Dream Realm awards
See all my books at

Michael Larocca

   I once had six titles in print at the same time. Then I watched publishers disintegrate all around me and said "Wow." For several years, the only title I had in print was VIGILANTE JUSTICE, but I didn't hurry to bring the other books back. I was editing like a maniac, plus I didn't expect to do any more writing. Ten years later, I've written a novel and a half, so I decided to bust my butt getting the oldies back in print. Success. Details are on the bottom right side of Some are free.

A Frog Story

One of my clients is a very damaged little boy. He has been bullying other kids at school, and is defiant and angry at home. This story is for him.

   Once there was a happy little frog.

   He decided that he was going to be the BEST frog in the world.

   He would jump higher, jump further, swim better, be stronger and smarter than any other frog.

   And he would be the best at catching flies and mosquitoes, because that’s what frogs eat.


   So, he worked very hard at getting better at all those things. He swam lots, and hunted insects so he could eat lots and grow big, and climbed up a tree and dived in the water, and even did pushups to get stronger.


   But, one day, a terrible thing happened. Frog was sitting on a rock, about to jump into the water, when a jabiru came walking by.

   Jabirus are big birds that love to eat frogs.

   Frog was so scared he just stayed still. He could not move. He could not jump into the water. He could do nothing.

   This jabiru had just had a good meal so he was not hungry. But he was a poor sort of a jabiru. He was smaller than the other ones, and not so good at flying, and often made mistakes. Other jabirus laughed at him, and made fun of him. Even though he was a big bird, inside he felt very small.

   So, instead of eating Frog, he decided to have some fun with him. By making Frog feel terrified, and small, and weak, Jabiru could pretend to himself that he was big, and strong, and fierce and powerful.

   He pretended to strike Frog with his big, long beak, but missed on purpose. He picked Frog up and threw him into the air, then laughed when Frog hurt himself as he landed again.


   This was so much fun, and made Jabiru feel so big and strong and powerful, that after this Jabiru came along every day to play with Frog. That’s how Jabiru thought of it, that he was playing. But for Frog, it felt TERRIBLE. He was being tortured, and hurt, and made to feel little and helpless.


   So, poor Frog stopped learning. He could not have any fun, even when Jabiru was somewhere else.


   One day, Jabiru was playing with Frog. He tossed him into the air as usual, and laughed when frog landed on his back, his four legs waving in the air.

   But a dingo was watching. He licked his lips, and then JUMPED. He bit through Jabiru’s neck, and ate him up. Because dingoes have to eat too.


   After this, nobody bullied and hurt Frog any more. All the same, he still felt small, and weak, and easy to hurt, and was scared of many things.

   Also, he was angry. “Not fair!” he kept saying to himself. “Out of all the frogs in the world, why did that jabiru have to pick on me?”

   And strangely, he also missed Jabiru. Jabiru had been cruel to him, but at least he had paid him attention. Now, nobody had anything to do with him. Because he felt hurt inside, he didn’t do any of the things that frogs enjoy, so the other frogs stopped playing with him, and just left him alone.

   Frog forgot all about wanting to be the best frog in the world. He didn’t even want to be alive, he was so miserable.


   But then, one day he came across a frog that was smaller than him. She was a little sick, and weak, and because of this, not so good at catching flies and mosquitoes as she should have been, so she was always hungry and didn’t grow. Frog thought, “She is smaller than me. I can play with her the way Jabiru played with me. And she can’t stop me.”

   And so he did. He did nasty things to her, and laughed when she cried. This gave him something to do to fill his time, so he was not bored any more. And it made him feel big and strong and powerful, so he wasn’t so miserable. He thought it was very good.


   But the poor little girl Frog did not like it, any more than the boy Frog used to like it from Jabiru.

   And so, she went to the big old bullfrog, and complained to him.

   Bullfrog said, “Don’t worry, I’ll sort him out!”


   The next day, boy Frog went to find girl Frog to tease her and torture her. He said, “Hello ugly stupid little frog!”

   A deep voice said behind him, “Actually, she is pretty and smart. She is smart enough to come to me for help.”

   Frog turned around, and he was scared again.

   But Bullfrog said to him, “I am not going to hurt you. Now, am I bigger than you?”


   “Am I stronger than you?”


   So, it is my job to look after you. That is why I am here. I am looking after everybody who is weaker and smaller than me. That way, I can feel good, being me. And I can make other frogs feel good, being them.”

   Boy Frog didn’t know what to say, so he kept silent.

   Bullfrog said, “I always do to other frogs what I know they like having done to them. It is my job to have peace and friendship among frogs. And I want you to train to be my helper.”

   At that, boy Frog remembered how he used to be before Jabiru came along. Once upon a time, he had wanted to be the BEST frog in the world.

   Once more, he decided to do just that.

About Bobbing Around

   If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don't want a repeat, it's simple. Drop me a line and I'll drop you from my list.

   You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at, or you can forward a copy to your friend. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article's author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)

   If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be 'subscribe Bobbing Around' (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.

Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to ecline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:

  • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
  • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
  • Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
  • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

    Submission Guidelines

       It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

       Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

       Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.

       Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.