Bobbing Around

Volume Ten, Number Three
October, 2010

Bob Rich's (organic green) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Exxon lies about funding lies
  Letter to the Premier
*Human Rights
  Indigenous men united against violence
  Technology or behaviour?
  Kiss nature good-bye?
  China's green wall
  Scotland to Run Off 100% Renewable Energy by 2025, by Jasmine Greene
  Biological packaging
  Tasmanian forests live again
  How Not To Mash Your Breasts, by Delia Quigley
*Deeper issues
  Grief in other animals
  Are We Zombies and Don't Know It? by Bill Klemm
  Childhood trauma and mental illness, by Denise Ryan
  Memory and age
  Mental illness and violence, by Alfredo Zotti
  Mindful Parenting: In Search of the Happy Family, by Lyn Benson
  Psychological effects of Gulf oil disaster
  I can't control my anger
*For writers
  25 reasons your submission is rejected
  Showing vs. telling, by Randy Ingermanson
*What my friends want you to know
  Writing contest for kids
  Michael Larocca is back
  Sacred passage with John Milton
  New book from Brandon Wilson
*Have a laugh
  Lose Weightiness Now! by Swami Beyondananda
  New book on grammar, reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

   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 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.

To do is to be. Socrates

To be is to do. Jean-Paul Sartre

Do-be-do-be-do. Frank Sinatra

A guided imagery script for inner peace

   Once upon a time, the ground cracked, and magma spurted into the air.

   Sulphurous smoke rose high. Molten stone cascaded white hot, higher than the clouds, and settled, gradually to form a wide cone. A tall mountain of red-hot stone formed, with more stone landing on it, and still the lava rose, flowing up and trickling down the sides of the new volcano like a river running in every direction. So, the mountain grew.

   At last, it rested. Lava cooled into stone. Grass and bushes and trees grew as the years passed.

   But pressure was building up below, and again the mountain blew. A great explosion blasted the centre of the peak into the sky, loose rock raining for a day's walk all around. Then the pressure was relieved, and the volcano slept again.

   A great round hole was left behind at its centre. As the rain fell year after year, it was filled with crystal clear, pure water.

   Now, there is a wide, beautiful, deep blue lake at the top of the mountain. It has been there for perhaps millions of years. The volcano is long dead, so it will be there in another million years, for what are years to a mountain?

   Sometimes, the air is still, and the surface of the lake is a mirror of peace.

   Sometimes, a breeze blows and little ripples cover the water.

   And sometimes, storms rage, and mighty waves rise to pound the shore.

   But... but think of all that depth of water. The deepest part is way below ground level around the tall mountain. Only the surface has ripples or waves. The water, the lake, is always cool, peaceful and serene. Even the largest waves are as nothing compared to the great volume of crystal clear, cool, serene, peaceful water.

   Be that lake.

   Your thoughts, emotions, moods, urges, memories, worries, physical pain, hates and fears are the disturbance on the surface. When your thoughts are at peace, the lake is a beautiful mirror. When your life is caught in a storm, there are waves, destructive waves battering the shore. But even in the worst storm, that's only the surface, and is as nothing compared to the cool, clear, beautiful peace of the great volume of water.

   Be that lake.

   You may be going through a crisis now. That is the stormy waves on the surface of your mind.

   You may be the survivor of hell in your past. The magma of your life was then rising high, burning all around it, but know that in time, it can become a lake of peace, strength and serenity.

   Be that lake.

   This is my oldest and youngest grandchild. Meet young man Bodan, cuddling his little cousin Arianna.

   Of course, being a professional grandfather, I have DOZENS of grandchildren, but only three are genetically related to me. Bodan is about to leave school, and start out in the big world, while Arianna is at the exciting stage of learning to walk and talk.

   And I am so passionate about environmental issues because I want there to be a world for them (and all my other grandchildren) to inherit.


Exxon lies about funding lies
Letter to the Premier

Exxon lies about funding lies
by GinaMarie Cheeseman

   ExxonMobil gave $1.5 million to groups that deny climate change, according to an article in the Times of London last week. Greenpeace's ExxonSecrets project documented almost $25 million given by the company since 1998 to climate change denial groups.

   According to Greenpeace's tabulations based on Exxon's Worldwide Giving Report, the oil company gave about $1.3 million to climate change denial groups in 2009. Greenpeace also found that Exxon decreased its donations to climate change denial groups from 2005's $3.5 million, and the number of groups funded dropped from 51 to 24.

   Exxon pledged in 2007 to stop funding climate change denial groups. In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report, Exxon said:

   In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.

   "Some of Exxon's largest donations were to groups that lobbied against a global deal on emissions being reached at the climate summit last December in Copenhagen," the Times' article stated. "Exxon could see the value of its oil and gas investments fall sharply if governments adopt aggressive plans to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels."

   Exxon said it did not have funding ties with last year's International Conference on Climate Change, an annual event put on by the Heartland Institute. However, the list published by Exxon this month of its "2009 worldwide contributions and investments" showed that it gave four cosponsors of the event $275,000 and $1 million to 20 other climate change denial groups. The four cosponsors were the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Media Research Center, the Pacific Research Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

   After the Times contacted Exxon, the company announced it would not fund the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Media Research Centre or the Pacific Research Institute, but made no mention of the other 21 groups it gave money to last year.

GinaMarie is a Californian writer and journalist with a passion for social justice.

Letter to the Premier

Dear Mr Brumby,

   I was really heartened when your government announced a forward-looking, courageous white paper on minimising Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions. However, your targets will simply be impossible to meet if you authorise yet another fossil-fuel powered generator. Coal is coal, whether it is turned into gas first or not.

   Here in Australia, we are blessed with sun, especially when compared to most European countries. And yet, Scotland has recently announced a target of ZERO carbon emissions by 2025. Denmark has huge wind power inputs. Spain recently commissioned a huge solar thermal plant, although their economy is struggling.

   We should be, and can be, world leaders in sustainable power generation. How about Melbourne as a solar city, with every north-facing roof carrying photovoltaic panels?

   In any case, how to generate electricity is only half the issue. The other is energy conservation. Energy conservation measures are labour-intensive, so they will help to build employment and community wealth.

   Please, Mr Premier, say no to any further coal powered installations, and decommission the Hazelwood power station as soon as possible.

Bob Rich, Ph.D., M.Sc., MAPS, GAICD

Human Rights

Indigenous men united against violence

   A group of more than 100 people have marched through the streets of Alice Springs to call for an end to domestic violence.

   Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men and boys have stopped traffic in the town to call for an end to domestic violence.

   They held placards that demand a zero-tolerance approach to violence in the home and the community.

   The march marks the beginning of a campaign by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress to deal with high levels of domestic violence.

   The congress says violence occurs across all cultures and has called on the community as a whole to work together to stop it.


Technology or behaviour?
Kiss nature good-bye?
China' green wall
Scotland to Run Off 100% Renewable Energy by 2025 by Jasmine Greene
Biological packaging
Tasmanian forests live again

Technology or behaviour?

   With people suddenly realising that climate change is real, and that we are causing it, there are endless debates about how to respond. What changes should we make? How much more money will these changes cost us? Is our personal contribution worth the effort?

   For example, one blog I've read argues at considerable length that it's more important to drive in a more fuel-conserving way, and to drive as little as possible, and that this saves more petrol than buying a more fuel-efficient car. Conversely, a recent research paper claims to have shown that it's more important to install high-efficiency light globes rather than worry about turning off unused lights.

   Um... my question is, why does it have to be one or the other? Seems obvious to me that we need both. I have bought a small, very highly efficient car that is rated at 5.1 litres per 100 Km (that's 46.1 miles/US gallon). The way I drive it, I get maybe 1.5 times that efficiency. And in the time taken for supposedly 20,000 Km according to the service schedule, I covered 13,000 Km. At this rate, and with fuel prices rising, I can expect to save the purchase price in a few years.

   When I still lived in the suburbs, I once compared my electricity bill to the neighbour's. Mine was ONE QUARTER his! And this included the same constant factor plus the usage per Kw. One reason was technology (or rather the deliberate lack of it): we didn't have a dishwasher, a clothes dryer, a microwave, even a television. The other was the rule: if it's not in use, it's switched off at the wall. The electricity consumption of some homes is up to 25% ghost loads: little gizmos plugged into the power point that quietly generate heat while doing nothing, things that power a blinking 12:00 even when there is no other use for them, radios and TVs in sleep mode, still drawing power.

   And an empty room needs no artificial light. Even a high-efficiency fluoro should be turned off if you're not going to need it for more than 5 minutes, and movement-pattern research shows that when you leave a room "for a moment," you are more than likely to be away for over 5 minutes. People nowadays feel uncomfortable with a low level of background lighting, but this is only a habit. That was the norm in the 1950s, and people coped fine.

   Does it matter? Can what I do make a difference?

   The ocean is made up of drops of water. Multiply what you do by billions, and it makes a huge difference. And anyway, as I've said for the past 30 years, when the excrement hits the impeller, at least I can say it's not my fault.

Kiss nature good-bye?

   A global analysis of extinction risk for the world's plants, conducted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew together with the Natural History Museum, London and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has revealed that the world's plants are as threatened as mammals, with one in five of the world's plant species threatened with extinction.

   The study is a major baseline for plant conservation and is the first time that the true extent of the threat to the world's estimated 380,000 plant species has been known. The study has been announced as governments prepare to meet in Nagoya, Japan in mid-October 2010 to set new targets to reduce the loss of biodiversity at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

   "This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss. For the first time we have a clear global picture of extinction risk to the world's known plants", says Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "In order to answer crucial questions like how fast are we losing species and why, and what we can do about it, we need to establish a baseline so that we have something against which to measure change. The Sampled Red List Index for Plants does exactly that by assessing a large sample of plant species that are collectively representative of all the world's plants."

China's green wall

   The Chinese government is speeding ahead with its construction of a human-made ecological barrier in hopes of warding off encroaching deserts and increasing signs of climate change.

   Dubbed the "Great Green Wall" this barrier isn't made of some space-age plant-based material, or carbon-sucking vacuums. It's made of something much greener: trees.

   Millions of trees to be exact.

   By 2050, the artificial forest is slated to stretch over 1.4 million square miles, and will cover more than 42 percent of China's landmass.

   Unlike many other world powers, China has a long history of making reforestation a national priority. In 1981, the National People's Congress, which is China's top legislative body, passed a resolution requiring every citizen above age 11 to plant at least three saplings every year.

   According to government statistics, citizens have planted some 56 billion trees across China in the last decade alone.

Scotland to Run Off 100% Renewable Energy by 2025
by Jasmine Greene

   While many countries are complaining about the Copenhagen requirements, other countries are striving to go above and beyond the call of duty. Last week Northern Ireland stated that they were hoping to have 40 percent of the country running off renewable energy. This week, new First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond went even further, stating that the country could be running off of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

   This ambitious goal happened a week after the SNP administration upped Scotland's renewable energy goal from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020. Salmond announced the 100 percent goal in front of the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference citing new Offshore Wind "Route Map" that would focus first on key areas to achieve immediate results:

Jasmine is a freelance writer in New York who specialises in environmental news. Source:

Biological packaging

   It's hard to buy anything halfway to fragile without also buying some Styrofoam packaging. That stuff is made from fossil hydrocarbons. If it ever burns, it releases chlorine gas into the air. It will not biodegrade. All you can do is to dump it, perhaps after reusing it a couple of times.

   Good news: there is now an alternative.

   Evocative Design are marketing a product that does the same job, without any of the above disadvantages. And they say it is actually cheaper.

   They use a biological process to GROW packaging foam to any desired shape, with agricultural wastes like cotton seed hulls and buck wheat hulls as the raw material. Instead of discarding the packaging into the rubbish, you can compost it for your garden.

Tasmanian forests live again
from Ecological Internet

   In a massive win for the environmental movement, the new head of Tasmanian timber company Gunns Limited has broken ranks with Tasmania's forest industry and confirmed it will pull out of native forest logging altogether. At an industry conference in Melbourne Thursday, Gunns' new chief executive Greg L'Estrange announced the company will move away from logging native forests and develop plantation-based products. Further, Gunns revealed it would quit the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, which was arguing for a continuation of native forest logging in the state.

   The promises, if fully implemented, are a huge victory for Tasmania and Australia's forest movement, such as the Wilderness Society, as well as a large body of international affinity campaigns. Tasmania has the tallest flowering plants on Earth, with trees reaching over 90 meters, and contains Australia's greatest tracts of temperate rainforest. Australia's intact Eucalypt forests are also extraordinarily carbon rich. Gunns and Tasmania's environment movement have been long-time foes, culminating in a bitter five-year lawsuit brought by the company against 20 conservationists, including Greens leader Bob Brown, which Gunns lost in 2009, while failing to stifle opposition.

   Ecological Internet played a critical role in the victory with over a decade of Internet action alerts and protests, which successfully internationalized the issue. Most recently in August of 2008 some 7634 global citizens participating in EI's Earth Action Network sent 450,906 protest emails, urging the actions taken yesterday. Over a dozen such alerts were done by EI urging and end to Gunns' native old growth logging over the years. Some thought EI's demands to end - rather than regulate or certify -Tasmania's primary forest logging as too extreme, yet if this announcement is implemented, EI's demands will have been met in full.

   "The Tasmanian and global forest protection movements have flexed their muscle, and the Tasmanian, Australian and global campaign to end primary forest logging has scored a likely huge victory," states Dr. Glen Barry, EI's President. "Yet it is vital campaigns continue against Gunns, a there are a number of ways this could still end badly for Tasmania's forests. To ensure Gunns' announcement is not greenwash, EI demands: 1) Gunns must immediately announce firm date for transitioning to plantations, 2) lands formerly to be logged by Gunns must be fully protected, 3) Tasmania's industrial old growth logging must end and not be replaced by selective "certified" logging, 4) Tasmanian pulp mill must be legally barred from using non-plantation fiber, and 5) best plantations practices - dependent upon mixed native species without toxics - must be used."

   Mr. L'Estrange of Gunns acknowledged that most Australians support the environmental groups in their decades-long campaign to end logging in the old growth native forests of Tasmania. "Native forest is not part of our future," he said. "We see that the conflict largely has to end. Our employees and the communities we operate in have been collateral damage to this process. We want to move our business to a plantation-based business." Others in similar business situations globally would be well advised to similarly, as the era of primary forest logging is over.

Earth Action Network's current alerts are found at and you can subscribe to new alert notifications at: and on facebook at
Please support Ecological Internet's campaigns to protect and restore old forests at


How Not To Mash Your Breasts by Delia Quigley

How Not To Mash Your Breasts
by Delia Quigley

   I was recently informed by a medical practitioner that I would need to have a mammogram to determine the health of my breasts. I informed the doctor that I had no intention of mashing my breasts between two glass plates and subjecting them to toxic radiation. I then inquired as to whether a Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (Thermogram) would be acceptable and was not surprised to hear that she had no idea what I was talking about. Although approved for breast cancer screening by the FDA since the early eighties, this painless, radiation-free and effective screening is little known amongst women and doctors, despite the fact that it is MORE effective than mammograms in detecting breast cancer.

   After non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and in women ages 25-30, it is the leading cause of death overall. And yet the medical industry relies on an x-ray machine with a high rate of false-positive readings that reads cancer only after it has grown large enough for detection. Thermography, on the other hand, is a physiologic exam where a picture is taken of the heat that radiates from the breasts. No radiation, no compressions, no touchy feely, and studies show it can increase a woman's survival rate 61 percent by detecting a pre-cancerous state years before it might be found by mammography, ultrasound, or physical exam. When Thermal Imaging is combined with a structural exam, the detection rate of breast cancer approaches 95 percent. Do I now have your attention?

   When I arrived for my appointment I was shown to a small room and asked to remove my clothes from the waist up. I was told this was to allow my body to acclimate to the room's temperature of 70 degrees. After about 15 minutes I was instructed to sit comfortably and place my hands behind my head. Nine images were taken with a medical-grade camera and immediately sent to a computer where they were digitally analyzed and displayed as high-resolution images. As I posed my breasts for the camera I was able to see, on the computer screen, my blood vessel vasculature beneath the skin. A whole new way of viewing your breasts, I can assure you. When we were done the practitioner explained the Thermal images to me, and a week later I received a full thumbs up report from my medical doctor.

   According to Dr. Susan Lark M.D. you should never have another mammogram, because they may actually increase your risk of developing breast cancer. So why are they used at all? Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, has stated that, "We know that mammography screening has serious limitations, yet it has been sold as the be-all and end-all for breast cancer; but what we are telling women is that we don't have a good screening test to detect breast cancer early and we're not sure what to do when we find it early."

   Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is an excellent breast screening test available and since so many doctors and women are still not aware of the benefits of Thermography, I am sharing my experience with you in hopes you will use this life saving technology to insure for yourself, your friends and daughters, a long, healthy and radiation free life. To find a Digital Infrared Thermal Imagining practitioner in your area, and please share this information with others.

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia's credentials include author, holistic health counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia's blogs: and To view her website go to

Deeper Issues

Grief in other animals
Are We Zombies and Don't Know It? by Bill Klemm
Childhood trauma and mental illness by Denise Ryan

Grief in other animals

   Studies published this year have shown that chimpanzees suffer grief when someone they love dies. (See

   This is not just a momentary thing, of out of sight, out of mind, but extends over a considerable period of time.

   I have seen the same with cows who were terribly distressed for weeks after their calves had been taken. They didn't know of course that the destination was death at the abattoirs, but they knew their children had been forced onto a big truck and taken away.

   And anyone with a dog knows that this species is also capable of grieving.

   The conclusion is inescapable: there is no qualitative difference between humans and other mammals (and perhaps between humans and other animals). If we have a soul, so do they. If we deserve empathy, respect and decency, so do they. We are not apart from nature, but a part of nature.

   I had a client once: an old lady whose sister had been murdered. The sister had often joked that after death she would come back as a magpie, because that bird was the nickname of her favourite football team.

   Some time after the murder, a magpie came out of nowhere, and landed on my client's shoulder. It sat there for a while before flying away. Now, Australian magpies don't do this. They are a fierce bird that's more likely to peck you on the head than to sit on your shoulder. This lady is convinced that bird was her sister.

   Was it an incredibly unlikely coincidence? Perhaps. Coincidences do happen. But...

Are We Zombies and Don't Know It?
by Professor Bill Klemm

   Ever drive a route so familiar you don't re-member getting there? It is as if your brain was on autopilot. Many scientists think this zombie-like behavior is the norm. They say that even when we are aware of having done something, it was willed subconsciously, and we only became consciously aware after the fact. This has led to a common notion among scholars that free will is an illusion. At least that is the argument promoted long ago by scholars like Darwin, Huxley, and Einstein. Many modern scientists also hold that position and have even performed experiments they say prove it.

   These experiments supposedly show that the brain makes a subconscious decision before it is realized consciously. Well, I am not intimidated by science's giants, past or present. In a paper in the current issue of Advances in Cognitive Psychology (Vol. 6, page 47-65), I challenge a whole series of ex-periments performed since the 1980s purported to show that inten-tions, choices, and decisions are made subconsciously, with con-scious mind being informed after the fact.

   These experiments do not test what they are intended to test and are misinterpreted to support the view of illusory free will. In the typical experiment, a subject is asked to voluntarily press a button at any time and notice the position of a clock marker when they think they first willed the movement. At the same time, brain activity is monitored over the part of the brain that controls the mechanics of the movement. The startling observation typically is that subjects show brain activity changes before they say they intended to make the movement. In other words the brain is-sued the command before the conscious mind had a chance to de-cide to move. All this happens in less than a second, but various sci-entists have interpreted this to mean that the subconscious mind made the decision to move and the conscious mind only realized the decision later.

   My criticisms focus on three main points: 1) timing of when a free-will event occurred requires intro-spection, and other research shows that introspective estimates of event timing are not accurate, 2) simple finger movements may be performed without much conscious thought and certainly not rep-resentative of the conscious decisions and choices required in high-speed conversation or situations where the subconscious mind can-not know ahead of time what to do, and 3) the brain activity meas-ures have been primitive and incomplete.

   I identify 12 categories of what I regard as flawed thinking about free will. Some of the more obvious issues that many scientists have glossed over include:

   In the real world, subconscious and conscious minds interact and share duties. Subconscious mind gov-erns simple or well-learned tasks, like habits or ingrained preju-dices, while conscious mind deals with tasks that are complex or novel, like first learning to ride a bike or play sheet music.

   We do act like zombies driven by our subconscious when we act out of habit, prejudice, or prior condi-tioning. But we should and can be responsible for what we make of our brains and for the choices in life we make. In a free-will world, people can choose to extricate themselves from many kinds of mis-fortune -- not to mention make the right choices that can prevent misfortune.

   An earlier book of mine on personal re-sponsibility, Blame Game, How To Win It, provided the inspiration to explore why people are not more responsible. It is not that we lack the capacity for free will. Rather, we fail to exercise it.

Dr. Bill Klemm, "Memory Medic," has just released a new e-book, Better Grades, Less Effort. The book explains the memory tips and tricks he used to become valedictorian, an Honors student in three universities -- including graduating with a D.V.M. degree, and to secure a PhD in two-and-a-half years.

   He shares what he has learned about student learning over 47 years as a professor. Klemm claims that poor memory is what holds most students back from superior achievement. He argues that this book can change a person's life, as his own experiences with learning how to learn have changed his life.

   The ideas in the book are directed to students in high school or college. Parents are urged to explain these ideas to their elementary-school children.

    Klemm has priced the book so that every student can afford it. He says, "If you won't invest the cost of a burger in your future, what does that say about your future?"

   This book is also for any working professional engaged in on-the-job training programs. Dr. Klemm claims It will also help workers master their field and become more competent -- and more likely to be successful.

   Access to information and a free chapter can be found at All e-reader formats are supported, including pdf for reading on computers.

Childhood trauma and mental illness
by Denise Ryan

   Sandy Jeffs was eight when she first saw her father beating her mother. "My mother had been at Uncle Charlie's pub. I'd watched my father pacing around the house waiting for her. There was an awful sinister feeling about him."

   Such nights became regular events. "The violence in our family life went on until my father's death almost 30 years later," she says.

   Ms Jeffs is best known as a poet, writer and community educator, who offers rare insight into her continuing struggle with schizophrenia. After writing about her childhood in her latest book, Flying with Paper Wings, Reflections on Living with Madness, she found herself wondering what might have happened if her depression related to the abuse and her mother's alcoholism had been treated in senior high school.

   "If I had had some sort of intervention, would I have gone on to full-blown mental illness?"

   This might sound unlikely, but the latest findings in neuroscience would seem to confirm her hunch. Educators and welfare agencies now recognise that early abuse and neglect significantly affects brain function.

   Research by Dr Bruce Perry from the Child Trauma Academy in the US has noted the prevalence of childhood abuse in adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was the first to observe the similarities between the effects of traumatic events on the developing brain and the biological abnormalities found in people with schizophrenia.

   This forms part of Dr Perry's wider research, which is regarded as ground-breaking because it demonstrates that abuse and neglect alter the biology of the brain, and can have a profound effect on a child's ability to learn. His academy has worked with 1000 maltreated children for more than 15 years, recording increases in IQ when children are placed in safe, nurturing environments.

   In a study of more than 200 children under the age of six who were removed from their parents following abuse and neglect, significant developmental delays were found in 85 per cent of the children, with problems such as learning difficulties, motor skill delays and mental health issues increasing with age.


Memory and age
Mental illness and violence by Alfredo Zotti
Mindful Parenting: In Search of the Happy Family by Lyn Benson
Psychological effects of Gulf oil disaster
I can't control my anger

Memory and age

   Some older people get demented. Loss of short term memory is a sign of this, as every unkind joker will tell you. You know: DOCTOR: "Mr Robinson, I have two bits of bad news for you: you have cancer, and you have Alzheimers." PATIENT: "Well, thank heavens at least I don't have cancer."

   All the same, nothing is actually removed from their memory. When I was a student nurse, I vividly remember a small tragedy. Harry was a bit of a pet to the nurses: a little garden gnome who stood smiling and dribbling in odd places. He was double incontinent, and couldn't really say anything much. One day, his son came in, with a cake that had "Happy 83rd!" iced on it. We set it up with candles and all, and sat poor old Harry in front of it.

   Suddenly, his hazy eyes cleared, and intelligence shone out of them. He sat up straight, stopped dribbling and looked at the cake. Then he started to cry. For half an hour he sobbed, obviously with full understanding of his situation. Then the eyes glazed over, he slumped, and I could smell that he'd dirtied himself again. It was less distressing to return to being demented. But clearly, the real person had been inside all the time.

   Loss of memory is considered to be a normal part of aging. Older people misplace things, forget to write down appointments, turn up at the wrong time, can't remember phone numbers, and so on. However, actually, age does not diminish memory. You just need to learn to deal with a fuller library.

   Here is what I mean. When you're a kid, you're like a room containing 4 or 5 books. It's easy to pick up the one you want. When you're older, you are a library with thousands of volumes, and to pick up your target, you need an indexing system. What's more, many of those books are very similar to each other. It is quite a task to find the one you want -- but it is there.

   You don't forget stuff. You lose the path to it.

   Research shows that you can improve memory, even if you're old. It's like any other muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. And since now you know that the problem is one of classification, you can become more organised and systematic in the way you store away information.

   When you want to remember something, repeat it, preferably aloud. Make it meaningful by tying it to something else you know. For example, when being introduced to Jean Jones, ask, "Is that like Jean Harlow, the film star?" Of course, a young person will probably say, "Who is Jean Harlow?" but you've got your hook.

   Do little exercises. When looking up a phone number, repeat it aloud, then write it down from memory. Check back to see if it's correct. By then, you'll be able to correctly dial it without having to look at it again.

   You see, the brain is trainable. It will respond to whatever you do often enough by getting better at it. Play games like Trivial Pursuit (better still, research, and make up your own questions), enrol in short courses, read widely, and you can stay young between the ears.

Mental illness and violence
by Alfredo Zotti

   Matthew Newton is an actor. Both his parents were major TV stars in Australia. There was wide media coverage of his violent attack on his girlfriend, Rachael Taylor.

   Newton was fired by the producer of the X-Factor after two violent incidents in Rome.

   What happened that cost Matt Newton his job and forced him to admit himself to a psychiatric hospital?

   The incident started with a lovers' tiff. Matt became irritated when Rachael spoke to a gentleman who wanted to have a drink with her. She made it clear that she was with Matt and that she was engaged.

   The situation became worse when the couple arrived at a five-star motel. Matthew struck her head on the marble floor and punched her face. She could easily have been killed. Matt Newton was in such a rage that he had to be restrained and sedated. Rachael has now filed an AVO and will press charges against him.

   This was not the first time for Matthew. A few years back, Matt had punched and nearly choked his then girl friend Brooke Satchwell. He even stalked her to a point where she feared for her life. The judge let him go, saying that Matt was a gentleman (a gentleman?... does not hit women) who was unlikely to hit a woman again. This was supported by psychiatrist Robert Hampshire, who stated that Matt was suffering from severe depression at the time of the assault.

   The funny thing is that I, as well as many people I know, also suffer from depression but we have never hit a woman or have been violent. I find it difficult to understand how Matt's depression was linked to his violent attack and how this was presented as if all sufferers of depression can be violent and should be excused if they attack someone. If I were to assault someone, I'd probably receive a jail sentence. A defense of mental illness would not be enough to keep an ordinary offender out of jail. But Matt Newton got away with it and probably will again and again.

   My next step is to critically evaluate the presentation of this incident by Current Affair, where Tracy Grimshaw interviewed Matt's parents, Burt and Patty, viewed by 1.74 million people.

   Patti Newton opened up by saying that she came on TV with her husband because she wanted to save Burt's reputation. She didn't want him to be remembered as the father of a lunatic son who, high on drugs and alcohol, had violently assaulted his girlfriend.

   Patti and Burt stated that their son had behavioral problems and violent tendencies all through childhood. He'd been once taken to a psychiatrist who said that because of his condition (which was not clearly defined, though bipolar was hinted at), he'd have to keep away from alcohol and drugs.

   Of course, it is not the drugs and the alcohol that are seen as the causes of Matt's behavior. Yet, this point was not made clear since alcohol is well tolerated in Australia. And drugs, of course, are not considered to be such a big problem. It was a mental illness which caused Matt to drink, take drugs and assault his girlfriends. But just what kind of mental illness? The kind that permits Matt to only be violent towards young and defenseless women. There is no mention of him attacking a footballer.

   Even in cases of a mental illness, Dr Seena Fazel writes:

   "The relationship between violent crime and serious mental illness can be explained by alcohol and substance abuse. If you take away the substance abuse, the contribution of the illness is minimal."

   Even if Matthew Newton was to suffer from a severe mental illness, which is doubtful, it is likely that it is the drugs and alcohol which have caused him to become violent, not his mental illness.

   But these observations don't make for good media coverage, particularly of the kind presented by people like Tracy Grimshaw, who has little knowledge of mental health issues. A mental illness has more impact in the news, particularly when linked to violence. Alcohol and drug-related incidents of violence are daily occurrences which are not "attention grabbing" enough.

   As things are now, Matthew Newton will probably be given heavy anti-psychotic drugs and this, in addition to the negative events of the past few weeks, is enough to give anyone a permanent mental illness.

   The result is that rather than help a person like Matthew, who is experiencing problems which most likely go back to his childhood and for which his parents are somehow responsible, the system and the ideology will exacerbate his condition rather than help.

   Lastly, there is the problem of the drugs and alcohol, which I think have caused the violence in the first place. These represent a problem in that an addict needs lots of strength to give up the drugs, the kind of mental and physical health that Matthew Newton lacks.


   I read something you said on Queendom. I'm 24. I'm unemployed. I've been depressed for about 4 years. not every day but most days, sometimes I don't get out of bed and skip days. I have no direction. I don't know what to do. I never have known. I've always been pressured into doing things I don't want to because I don't know what I want to do, but I do them because I don't have any other choice, because of many reasons financial social or otherwise. It's left me feeling very empty and meaningless.

   I play in a band, I always have it's like a release. I don't want it to be my career but that is the path I have taken and the only path I know but I don't want my life to be like this. Rock n roll lifestyle is killing me, its like I'm killing myself and everyone is watching and playing along.

   I hate my government. My parents kicked me out. I'm barely surviving on 100 Euro a week. No real education to speak of as I never knew what to do except be a pilot but govt wont fund it and it costs over 100,000 Euro (not gonna happen) country is in a recession. Security at shows beat me up/ police don't care and beat up my friends. I'm really losing faith in everything. All my friends care about, and these have been good friends, but all they care about is TV, smoking pot, and getting drunk. I'm in a serious rut, and I'm not sure what the root of the problem is, me or my country or the booze or the weed, which I smoke on a daily basis courtesy my friends. it all seems to be out of control. My life certainly is, I don't know what to do. I'm scared, I'm lonely. I'm just another human being but my country is not a nice place to live. I don't know how u may be able to help me but

   I could go on and on but what do you think?

Brian my dear,

   I can feel your despair. It's as if everything was hopeless, and there was no way out. And everything you have written is fact, and feels like it can't be changed.

   All the same...

   All the same, I am equally sure that it is half the picture. It is the negative half, and there is also a positive half.

   I know, because for the first third of my life, I also felt hopeless, damaged, and convinced I'd be unhappy for the rest of my life. And this was not true for me, and it does not have to be true for you.

   You see, depression is a pair of doom-coloured glasses. It focuses attention on all that's bad, and filters out the good. But the good stuff is there. You have resources, opportunities and possibilities. There is a way out. I don't know what it is, because all I know about you is what you have written. But I have seen other young people, equally desperate and hopeless, who managed to build a good life for themselves.

   One of your strong points is that you have thought about your situation, and identified the problem spots: being part of the rock and roll culture which you now dislike, alcohol and marijuana, being shiftless and without a positive goal to strive for.

   Based on this, I think you will see the first steps out: stop using alcohol and dope. Many depressed people turn to these -- and yet of all the drugs available, these are the downers: the ones that make you more depressed.

   What's more, they cost money. Set yourself a goal you can't afford at the moment. This could be getting a truck licence, or a forklift licence, or some other course that will give you a marketable skill and fits with your interests. Work out how much money you spend on grog and dope in a week, and how much each drink/smoke costs. Then on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, set aside this amount on the day you get your welfare (I assume that's the source of your 100 Euros). Each time you have a drink or smoke, even if paid for by a friend, subtract its cost from this sum. At the end of the week, you will have a saving, which you can make the full amount by having none. Put this into a special bank account that you do not touch for anything else, until you have saved up enough to do your course. And that will give you the ticket out of poverty.

   In the meantime, take on any paying job offering. I have a friend who arrived here from interstate with a brand new medical degree. She put in job applications to work as a doctor, but in the meantime she went to work as a casual grape picker, at the low wages of an agricultural labourer. She reckoned that was better than sitting on her bum waiting for the world to look after her.

   If possible, find a job that involves heavy physical work. Then you can get paid for becoming fit and strong. It's like being a professional sportsman. When I was a student, I got jobs like being a cleaner in a department store, offsider in a removalist van, working in a metal recycling place and laying asphalt roads.

   If you can't get a job, find an opportunity to volunteer. Your country must have charitable organisations like St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. Offer your services in any way they can use them. This will fill your time with something socially useful, so you'll feel good about yourself. When you apply for jobs, the volunteer mob will give you a good reference. And most jobs are found through personal contact. The people you get to know through the volunteer work may be leads to something good.

   Your problems are real. Anyone in your situation would feel under stress. But they are not insoluble. If you don't like the way your world is, change it. You have that power. What I have written here is the kind of thing that has worked for others. You know best what will work for you, so use my suggestions as starting points for how you will lift yourself out of that black hole.

   I will be happy to keep corresponding with you. I'll add you to my list of grandchildren.

All the best,

Mindful Parenting: In Search of the Happy Family
by Lyn Benson

"When the Navajo child asked her mother for counsel on a particular question, her mother said "Put it in your holy middle and sleep on it." Charlotte Kasl, "If the Buddha Married"

   In my Psychology practice I have observed with growing concern the distress of parents who are trying to keep pace with the Western idea of having it all and doing it all "NOW".

   If our children are old enough to watch television, they are being continually bombarded by images of their peers with the latest designer gear, technology and attitudes which perpetuate the myth that Having = Happy. However, extensive research has shown that true happiness is achieved if we have meaning in our lives and if we feel connected to something larger than ourselves (extended family; community; religion etc). A graphic illustration of this is that research has demonstrated that a 14 year old orphaned prostitute in Mumbai scored higher on the Happiness Scale than an office worker in the US . This was because the money she earned supported her orphaned siblings in an outlying village and whom she visited twice a year where she was welcomed and her connection with her family and village was celebrated. How many of us yearn for what we don't have and despair of what we do have?

   For thousands of years, Buddhists have known and understood the "power of now". Buddhists have practised and taught Mindfulness Meditation and now at last the Western world is beginning to understand its benefits. Mindfulness Meditation allows us to "be" in the moment, not worrying about what we said yesterday or fearful of something in the future that has not yet happened and probably never will. Mindfulness also allows us to really 'BE" with our children, our partners, our friends and most importantly, with ourselves.

   Becoming Mindful does not mean that you need to go to a cave in the mountains and practise stillness and non-thinking for hours on end. It can be as simple as when you are driving the car practise Mindfulness, be in the moment and DRIVE THE CAR. Don't think about what's for dinner, when you will have time to call that friend or pay the bills. Get in the car, watch yourself turn on the ignition, do up your seatbelt, check the rear view mirror, release the handbrake, turn on your indicator, turn OFF the music and DRIVE. Watch where you're going, notice the other cars, the feel of your body on the seat, your hands on the wheel, the traffic. "BE" in the car. How often do you get to your destination and think "I don't even remember driving here?" We all do it, it is because we are doing the opposite of being Mindful, we are being Mind-less.

   With our children, if they want us to play with them, PLAY with them, read with them, really listen to them: how many of us feel exasperated, both because they may be wanting our attention at an inconvenient time, but also because we are just plain exhausted from all the "Doing" and not enough of the "Being".

   We all have to do things to get through our daily lives, work and other obligations. When was the last time you took time out for yourself to read a book, have a bath, pick a flower for yourself? Our children learn from watching what we do, not from what we say. When we can truly give ourselves the time to "be" in the moment, we are giving our children the greatest gift of all.

Lyn Benson, Psychologist

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.

Psychological effects of Gulf oil disaster
Interview in Ecopsychology journal

   Anger, depression, and helplessness are the main psychological responses being seen in response to the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and they are likely to have long-lasting effects, according to an interview in Ecopsychology, a peer-reviewed, online journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The interview is available free online.

   The anger being expressed in response to the BP oil rig explosion and resulting spill of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is "a way of masking the really unfathomable and profound despair that is just under the surface as we watch this catastrophe unfold," says Professor Deborah Du Nann Winter, PhD. In an interview published in Ecopsychology and conducted by Editorial Board member Professor Susan Koger, PhD, Winter predicts a great deal of chronic depression, withdrawal, and lack of functioning among not only people directly affected by the events in the Gulf, but also people nationwide and globally who identify or empathize with their circumstances.

   Describing the oil spill as "the absolutely worst 'environmental' disaster" in the history of the United States, Winter discusses her own personal attempts to deal with the negative emotions she is experiencing by focusing at times on hopeful, positive feelings related to the "tremendous self-sacrifice and generosity of spirit" among those affected by the spill and those helping to contain it and clean up the oil.

   With the hope that the BP spill, with all the damage and suffering it is causing, will stimulate renewed environmental activism and changes in attitudes and behaviors, Winter says, "this disaster is probably just the kick in the pants that the environmental movement has needed."

   Ecopsychology is a peer-reviewed journal that explores the relationship between environmental issues and mental health and well-being. The Journal examines the psychological, spiritual, and therapeutic aspects of human-nature relationships, concern about environmental issues, and responsibility for protecting natural places and other species. It provides a forum for international dialogue among experts from a range of disciplines: psychology and healthcare; environmental conservation, sociology, anthropology, and environmental studies; and related areas such as ecology, landscape restoration, eco-spirituality, and social and environmental justice movements.

    Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Sustainability: The Journal of Record, Environmental Justice, and Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at our website.

I can't control my anger

Hello Doctor,

   I hope all is well with you.

   I came across your website based on an online search pertaining to anger issues and what type of methods I can use to control this problem I have. I would love to be able to control my anger but being an emotional and sensitive person to begin with, it is difficult. There are always situations where I find being angry is unavoidable and that I am cursed in to these situations despite not wanting to be confrontational. In some situations I find that my biggest pet peeve is rude people. I want them to know why exactly they're the way they are and I go overboard with my emotions. I have friends that nothing is bothersome to them matter what. I know deep down I am a good person with a big heart so sometimes the wrong emotions get the best of me and I take things personal.

   If you can please recommend what I can do to get my anger under control , I would really appreciate it.

   I hope you have a wonderful day and thanks for your time.


Dear Andre,

   There are three ways you can respond when someone is rude to you:

  1. The doormat: "Sorry for existing, please trample on me."
  2. The bulldozer: "Get out of my way or I'll bash you."
  3. There is one more: being assertive.

   This is when you protect your dignity and territory, without attack. It is not guaranteed to work (nothing is), but has the best chance of doing so.

   Recently I was at a meeting. When a lady spoke, one of the men kept interjecting, harassing her, getting her rattled. She reacted with anger, and this just fed the problem. Unfortunately, the chairman didn't intervene.

   Then it was my turn to speak, and this bully started on me. I stopped, looked him in the eye and said, "I demand to be treated with respect."

   He shut up. I don't think he'd even realized that he'd been acting with disrespect.

   When my daughter was in first year university, she handed in an assignment she was REALLY pleased with. It came back with a near-fail mark. If that had happened to me at her age, I'd have thought myself to be just not good enough, and would have probably dropped out of the course. Also, I'd have been furious with the person marking it.

   My daughter went through such agonies for 2 days -- then she went to the Head of Department. She said, "Professor, I believe a mistake has been made. Can this please be re-assessed?"

   The paper came back with an A mark.

   This is assertive behavior: she did not attack the marker, but neither did she give in.

   There is a formula for an assertive statement:


   Neither of my examples follow this formula, but they follow its philosophy.


   The second tool you can use is what your friends do. When someone is rude to you, that action has 2 components, either of which could be 0%.

  1. feedback: I've done something I can and should correct, and this person has drawn my attention it. Regardless how rudely the message may have been conveyed, I can be thankful, and in the future will do my best to improve.
  2. the other person's problem: I can throw that away, it has nothing to do with me.

   So, if someone is rude, you extract whatever useful feedback there is from them, which may be nothing, and move on. Their rudeness is their problem not yours, so why should you carry it around with you?

   Of course, you have a habit of reacting to such things with anger. You can break habits. And actually, it is OK to feel anger. You didn't ask for it, so you are not responsible for the feelings, only for what you do in response. From now on, what you can do is to establish a new habit: when you feel annoyance creeping up, or even a sudden flash of anger, take a deep breath. During that 1 second or so, you can assess the situation, and choose a constructive way of responding to it.

   Finally, you might enjoy reading my e-book 'Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias. You can buy it very cheaply from Twilight Times Books .

Have a good life,

Hi Bob,


   That's exactly what I needed to read because I gained so much from your reply you would not believe! I really appreciate the fact you took the time to respond back to me and I am very grateful, Sir.

   I do understand it is going to be a work in progress for me. One step at a time. That said, I'm definitely going to be purchasing your e-book "Anger and Anxiety"...

   You're a very bright man!

   Thank you.



25 reasons your submission is rejected
Showing vs. telling by Randy Ingermanson

25 reasons your submission is rejected

   At a recent writers' conference in Canada, three agents listened to first pages read out by someone. They each signalled "stop" when they would have stopped reading if this was a submission to them. You can read their reasons at this blog.

Showing vs. telling
by Randy Ingermanson

Q How would you define the difference between 'showing' and 'telling'? I hear a lot from people talking about how you should never 'tell' the story, but always 'show' it, but I also see a lot of different definitions of those two terms. What are your thoughts?

Randy sez: Drat, Jay has asked a question that needs about 10000 words to fully answer it, and I've only got a few hundred here. Well, I'll do what I can, but in the end, I'm going to have to refer you to my book, WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES for a lot of the details. (Of course, there are other books that deal with this topic, but tragically, none of those other books were written by me.)

   The big problem here is that editors will often tell you "Show, Don't Tell," but they just plain don't have time to show you what they mean. I believe that "showing" can be broken down into five different techniques. If you master these five, then you know everything there is to know about "showing." If you use any other techniques than these, then you are "telling":

   If you restrict yourself to using only the five tools above, then you are "showing." If you don't, then you're "telling." Let's look at how to "tell" the above snippet of a scene:

   Jake whacked the kidnapper with a baseball bat and yelled at him, angrily wondering what kind of idiot he was. Somebody shot out the lights and then took aim at Jake.

   Please note how much more efficient "telling" is than "showing." Please note how much more vivid "showing" is than "telling."

   Now here's an important point: You want to "show" the interesting parts of your story and "tell" the uninteresting parts.

   Once in a while, I come across a manuscript that spends all kinds of time telling the character's backstory and setting up a scene. Sometimes the writer will show in loving detail every single boring thing the character does on the way to the conflict. Then the conflict of the scene rushes past in a paragraph or two and then the writer spends the rest of the time winding the scene down in narrative summary.

   Don't do that. Spend your words on the high-conflict parts of your scene, showing it moment by moment, leaving out nothing. Then zip through the boring parts of the scene by telling.

   There is a whole lot more to say about showing and telling, but it really doesn't make sense for me to type all those thousands of words in again, when I already typed them into my book once.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 21,000 readers every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

   Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

What my friends want you to know

Writing contest for kids
Michael Larocca is back
Sacred passage with John Milton
New book from Brandon Wilson

Writing contest for kids

   One of the leading competitions in the electronic world for young authors, New Voices encourages reading and writing among middle and high school students while introducing them to the exciting world of e-books and e-publishing, the wave of the literary future.

   This introduction into the exciting world of e-books and e-publishing is often a launching pad into the world of publishing for many young writers, allowing them their first taste of professional feedback and pushing them to achieve their dream of seeing their words in print.

   Established by EPIC in 2006, the contest accepts entries from students anywhere in the world, attending public, private, or home schools, and each entrant is permitted to submit one entry in each category.

   To enter, go to

   Deadline for entries is 20th October, 2010, so hurry!

Michael Larocca is back

   After going almost 10 years without writing fiction, Michael LaRocca is back. CONUNDRUM has been accepted for publication by Double Dragon. Yahoo!

   In other news, he's published another nonfiction title at

Sacred passage with John Milton

Can a wilderness retreat really help you connect with your life's purpose?

This November 5-15, put the claim to the test.

   John P. Milton, revered elder, exceptional wisdom teacher and shaman, will lead a Sacred Passage wilderness retreat beginning November 5th, on scenic Flinders Island.

   The Sacred Passage begins with 2 days of Awareness Training (learning contemplative practices), followed by 5 nights of solo camping, then another 2 days of Awareness Training.

   The emphasis during the solo phase is on being rather than doing, thus participants are encouraged to go with the flow of nature, observe all surroundings (flora, fauna, earth, sky, mountain, stream, ocean) and to eat lightly or to fast.

   In the final days participants integrate the learning as they prepare to return to normal life.

   This profound experience takes place in a spectacular wilderness environment, under the guidance of a revered Elder who embodies every higher quality you might be seeking.

   On returning home, participants will have a deeper understanding of themselves and will find their inner and outer nature more aligned. This is of immense benefit to how they show up in the world, and their relationships with family, friends, and work colleagues improve.

   The experience helps individuals to move towards their true purpose, particularly if their previous direction did not fit comfortably. The Sacred Passage is an opportunity to stop, reflect and shift towards a deeply meaningful life.

For more information, or to book your place, please contact Gillian Hodes:
phone: (02) 9344 3464
mobile: 0417 461137
For more details about Sacred Passage, visit
Cost: $2000+GST

   Participants will need to make their own way to Flinders Island (see Airlines of Tasmania) arriving November 5th and departing the 15th.

New book from Brandon Wilson

   Join the celebration of a new birth!

   I'm happy to announce that my latest book, Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps, is now available at and your favorite booksellers (except QVC).

   It has been a long and difficult process, especially trekking 1200 miles across the Alps with 40+ days in the rain, mountains of cow patties, injuries, icefields and crying marmots. Our 8-country journey certainly took more than a few unexpected turns. Now that it's over, I can honestly say it's the most difficult that Cheryl and I have ever faced. Still, it was the adventure of a lifetime.

   Then again, where there's pain (hopefully) you find laughter. So you may enjoy the humor in this new gonzo book, especially if you're a fan of Schadenfreude (not the obscure Moldavian composer).

   Even if you normally only hike as far as your sofa, you can easily join us on this crazed Via Alpina adventure! Read a bit and see photos at:

   Or, here's a brief video featuring some our our Alpine expedition photos to get your "oompah" going.

   Enjoy the journey!

   And please, if you don't mind, share this announcement with your friends, blogs, babysitters, 3rd cousins, pets, politicians, invisible friends, and social contacts. [end of blatant self-promotion]

Brandon Wilson

Have a laugh

Lose Weightiness Now!
by Swami Beyondananda

   In these stressful times, it's easy to gain weightiness. Weightiness gain is not your fault!

   Work... the economy... and now the election season... and pretty soon... yes, that's right.

   You've gained weightiness. Well, if gravity's got you down, let levity lift you up!

   Here are some of the serious problems that can be caused by overweightiness:

   Absolutely FREE here is Swami's 5 step program to lose weightiness now!

1. Take a vow of levity! Remember, levity will help you rise above whatever is bringing you down. In a toxic situation? Laughter will keep you from taking it poisonally. Feel the levitational pull uplifting the corners of your mouth into a smile. You want to uplift humankind? Uplift your face first! Here is the levity vow: "All for fun and fun for all!"

2. Don't Get Even -- Get Odd. Instead of staying stuck in dueling dualities, use your one-of-a-kindness to find the odd solution that beats the heck out of getting even.

3. When You See a Sacred Cow Milk It For All It's Worth. When our sacred cows give the milk of human kindness, we are fortified to take the bull by the horns.

4. Enlighten Your Load. Is your life stuffed with stuff? Unstuff it! Stuff is a major cause of weightiness. You'll be surprised that the more liquid you get, the more solid you will feel.

5. Wake Up Laughing, and Wise Up Loving. Time to wake up. You'll never lose weightiness if you keep hitting snooze. Wake up with a laugh, and end the day with an embrace, and if you are alone, embrace yourself, and immerse yourself in a warm solution of love.

   And in addition to these five steps toward fool-realization, a vital laugh force, and fully opened clown chakra, here are four things you can do every day!

Daily Weightiness Loss Exercise Plan

1. Wake up laughing. As Swami says, "If you wake up with a funny feeling, go with it." If you don't immediately laugh upon rising, then rise and start laughing. Nothing funny? Go look in the bathroom mirror. If you're still not laughing, pretend you're looking at someone else. Do that, and you'll laugh.

2. Do Ha-Ha-Ha Breaths. Very important to move the laugh force early in the day to insure regularhilarity. So, we use the vowel sounds, and we put a h- in front of it, so we begin way up here at the top of our heads with a hee-hee-hee. Then we move down to the throat and we chuckle a heh-heh-heh. Next, down to the heart for some hearty laughter, ha-ha-ha, and now the belly laugh ho-ho-ho. and way down to the bottom hoo-hoo-hoo... and now move the vowel sounds back up hoo-hoo-hoo, ho-ho-ho, ha-ha-ha, heh-heh-heh, hee-hee-hee. Ah, nothing like a good vowel movement early in the day.

3. Enlighten Up the News. You want to know where most weightiness gain occurs? In the morning, eating breakfast and watching the news or reading the paper. Why? All the studies are conclusive: The news puts on weightiness, and is a major factor in truth decay. That's why we recommend using mental floss after every serving of mainstream media. Just put your thumb and forefinger about six inches from each ear. Ready? Then, with a gentle back and forth motion, dislodge all the illogical logic, all the petrified bullshit, and every dysfunctional belief masquerading as reality. Ahhh, you will feel so much better. Your synapses will start synapping again.

4. Play at Work, Work at Play. You know what the secret of a happy life is? To be able to answer yes to the question, "From this you make a living?" If you aren't doing what you love -- or at least loving what you do -- you are slathering on pounds of excess weightiness! So ... if you can't be with the work you love, love the work you're with. And if you hate the work you're with, love hating it. Invent a hilarious character, and use that character to complain loudly about everything you hate. Then laugh.

   Note. If you begin feeling lightheaded due to sudden weightiness loss, simply surrender to the levitational pull. If symptoms of ascension continue, consult your metaphysician.

Help Others Lose Weightiness Too!

   During this contentious election season where it's hard to escape barking dogmas and dueling dualities -- not to mention feud poisoning -- it's so very important to maintain regularhilarity. That's why we've extended Swami's Cosmic Comedy Specials throughout our upcoming Wake Up Laughing Wise Up Loving Tour

   First of all, you can order the Fool Enchilada Special for the very special price of just $59 (includes U.S. shipping) and get $112 value! That's more laughs per penny than the high-priced laughsitive!

   And ... if you want to go audio only, you can order all four of Swami's hilarious CDs for just $39 (includes U.S. shipping).

   there is the Wake Up Laughing e-book, AND a four hour teleclass A

   And if you're in a really generous mood, you can be part of our Buddysattva program and get the Wake Up Laughing e-book for a dozen of your friends. Hey, that hole in the Bozone Layer that has compromised our planet's clown chakra can't heal without your help!

   And remember, when it comes to laughter what goes around, comes around. The laugh you save may be your own!


It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences:
A writer's guide to crafting killer sentences
by June Casagrande
reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Ten Speed Press (2010)
ISBN: 9781580087407
Buy Link:

   New Book May (Should!) Replace Your Strunk and White!

   Rules. Rules. Rules. I didn't realize how tired I was of the same old writing advice until this little black book landed in my mailbox. I promised to review it fast, but this It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences book by June Casagrande isn't a book a serious writer wants to flip though fast.

   I could see from the subhead in the first chapter that "best of sentences" would include something better than most. It read, "Thy Reader, Thy God." What a concept that is! The Reader and not The Rule Book! Ahem! And it got better and better as Casagrande explored all the subjects I knew everything about. Or thought I did. She uses examples so a writer can see the differences between OK writing and acrylic-clear writing.

   By the time I got to "Are Your Relatives Essential?" I was really sold. This is a Wow-Chapter, even for accomplished editors. The writing tips she gives in Chapter Twelve for using tenses effectively are just what I need to convince my students that I'm not the only editor/teacher in the world who believes that tenses needn't match all the way through a story (or even a paragraph, for that matter!). That chapter is called "You Will Have Been Conjugating."

   I could go on and on, chapter by chapter. What isn't new to a writer or what doesn't elucidate will remind and amuse Casagrande's God, The Reader. For those who know Casagrande's work, this book isn't as funny as her first one, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies. Nevertheless, the reader will still occasionally get a good laugh. For chuckles read Chapter Nine, "Antique Desk Suitable for Lady with Thick Legs and Large Drawers."

   For Casagrande, the lesson is always that grammar needn't be dreary. Why should it be when we love writing? How could it be when grammar is the nails and tacks, the color and structure of what we love? Writing.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This is the Place, has won eight awards. Her book of creative nonfiction Harkening, won three. A UCLA Writers' Program instructor, she also is the author of another book essential for writers, USA Book News' Best Professional Book of 2004, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't. The second in the HowToDoItFrugally series, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success covers writing successful query letters and includes helpful hints from twenty of the nation's top agents. Her book Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy will appeal to the same crowd that falls in love with Casagrande's books. Learn more about Howard-Johnson at her new site

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