Bobbing Around

Number Two
September, 2001

Bob Rich's rave
email me

Archived at

*A special offer for subscribers only.
*Moora Moora Short Story contest
*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions
*September 11th
(News my friends and I want to spread around.)
*Readers respond
Comments on Bobbing Around number 1.
* Technology
Cheap e-book readers a step closer?
*The Craft of Writing
Inform without boring your reader: an example from Beth Anderson.
Panic Attacks
Grief: A friend's moving account of her father's death from cancer
Self-confidence: A course from Britain
A short story from Michael Larocca
*Internet resources
Links on racism and the environment


   Like the rest of the world, I am devastated by the terrible attack on New York and Washington. I am afraid that it is the first occasion of many to come: a non-dictatorial society is open to terrorism.

   The attack shows the signs of a champion chess player. If I was the evil genius behind it, I would have the next several moves planned out and ready to be executed, and they would not involve aeroplanes. How about gasoline or LP gas tankers? And the USA is full of targets that have symbolic significance.

   I am afraid.

   Thousands have been traumatised by these events, and my heart is with them. I only wish I could do something to help.

   At the same time, I have been dismayed by some of the responses to this attack. At the risk of anatagonising some people, I wish to offer the opinions of an outside observer concerning the reasons for this outrage.

   Why do some people hate the USA so?

   First, let me say that NOTHING justifies an attack on innocents. If I drove carelessly, and was guilty of killing your child, this would not justify a revenge attack on my child, or even on me. Two wrongs only make a bigger wrong.

   Self-defense is something else. If I attack you, you have the right to defend yourself. So, if there is solid evidence that bin Laden is the perpetrator, then I think it is right and proper that he be stopped from further assaults. Power-hungry killers are delighted when the victim turns the other cheek. It merely presents a new target.

   But why do the perpetrators feel that the USA is their enemy?

   One of the reactions in America points to the reason. There is a campaign to show patriotism by spending money. Buy American in order to bolster the economy, invest in shares, spend, spend, consume, consume.

   Let me tell you a story. A medieval city is under siege, and the enemy is trying to starve the defenders into submission. The common people in the town see their children grow gaunt, and then, up in the castle, the Lord holds a birthday party for his daughter.

   If you were one of the hungry, would you not feel resentment that some of the city's last supplies were used for a birthday cake, one you will have no share in? And if you were inclined to violence, would you perhaps throw a stone through a window?

   Since the second world war, the world has been flooded with tinsel-wrapped images of America. People of all cultures and even the most miserable existence can see over-idealised, sugar-coated pictures of American life. They believe that even black Americans live in huge, spacious homes with dozens of electric lights on all the time, wear magnificent clothes, makeup, jewellery, drive cars, have a life of interest and ease.

   We know, of course, that there are poor people in America. In some ways, Americans are worse off than people in many other countries, for example the health care system is beyond the means of many. Nevertheless, there is truth behind the Hollywood facade. A very small proportion of the world's population, most of them in the USA, are frivolously wasting resources that are desperately needed to keep people alive.

   In a very real sense, the wealthy everywhere ARE the enemy of the dispossessed, suppressed poor. And thanks to mass media, poor people believe that America is wealth, and wealth is America.

   I leave you to draw your own conclusions.



   This time, I decided to list items in reverse alphabetical order of the contributor. After all, why should A rule everywhere? But also, rules are made to be broken. This is my newsletter, so I come first!

Bob's News
Juliet Waldron
Sydell Voeller
Janet Elaine Smith
Bumper Smith
Juanita McClellan
Nancy Madison
Jennifer Leese
Elaine Hopper
Jo Ann Hollier
Moni Draper
Beth Anderson

Bob's news

  • My newest electronic book, Personally Speaking: Single-session email therapy with Dr Bob Rich is finished and ready for sale. It is fifty of my answers to people who were unable to cope with some aspect of their lives. The book costs only $US5, and part of the proceeds will go to Body-Mind QueenDom, where the majority of the questions have come from. As I write this, the next job on the top of my queue is to write and upload the pages advertising the book. The URL will be As a subscriber to Bobbing Around, you are in a privileged position, and can buy this book immediately. Just click on the 'PayPal' button. If you are a PayPal member already, you can pay and send me a message at the same time. If not, it may take a little time to register, for they need to securely confirm your credit card details.
  • I have withdrawn my previous psychology book Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias from This publisher has violated our agreement several times, in different ways, and has refused to communicate as soon as I made a complaint. The book has been re-published by Anina's Book Company, and can be inspected at
  • Sadly, the electronic publisher Bookmice has died. It was a wonderful place while run by its founder Aliske Webb. Unfortunately, she worked too hard, and burned out. She sold the business to a person whose business practices killed it. He is now gone, and so is Bookmice.

       All my Bookmice titles have been re-published by Anina's Book Company, and are available at I am taking the opportunity to revise each. The trilogy The Travels of First Horse is completed, and to celebrate the occasion, subscribers to Bobbing Around can buy it at a discount. The normal price is $US9 for the three volumes, but if you click on the 'PayPal' button below, you can have the trilogy for only $6.


       The Writer's Digest Survival Guide to Self-and e-publishing, Publishing Success has interviewed 9 e-published authors, including Juliet Waldron ("Mozart's Wife," First Independent e-Book Award Winner) in the motivation section of their November issue. Juliet also has a new book coming soon from -- Genesee is an old fashioned historical, set amid the bloody turmoil of the 18th Century American frontier.

       Sydell Voeller's teen romance, Skateboard Blues, was among last quarter's top selling e-books for kids (according to a recent poll submitted by multiple e-book publishers). Also the trade paperback version of this book was released in September.

       This is what it is about: 'Jessica Williams and the other skateboarders are put to the test, and they prove to the community they're worthy of their support. But when Jessica and Cam Easton, a pro skateboarder, start hanging out together, their budding romance threatens her father's campaign for mayor. Can Jessica and Cam resolve their differences and discover the true meaning of love?'

       Sydell Voeller, formerly a registered nurse, now is a writing instructor and full-time author. She has had eleven novels published previously. THE FISHERMAN'S DAUGHTER was her first e-published book. Many of her stories are set in the Pacific Northwest and reflect her love of the abundant forests, mountains, waterways and beaches. Her hobbies include camping, reading, walking, and amateur astronomy. Sydell resides in Oregon with her husband of 30 years. They have two grown sons.

       Janet Elaine Smith has won two PODium awards for two of her best selling POD (print-on-demands) at One was for Dunnottar, her historical novel and one for A Christmas Dream, a contemporary family-oriented romance.

       Also, the second Patrick and Grace Mystery, Recipe for Murder, by Janet Elaine Smith is due out from FirstPublish, Inc. by the first of Oct.

       Bumper Smith sent me this:

    "The Tequila Sheila Story": A True Story

       Also to view a book review, which was featured as ebook of month April - 2001 at:

       Does Love Trandscend All? Can two people drawn together by an attraction so deep overcome tragedy, deceit and even murder? Juanita McClellan is the author of DESTINY, a romantic suspense novel that sweeps you from the steamy, palm-laden beaches of Key West to the high-intensity, dazzle of New York City. It should be out by now.

       Juanita currently resides in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband. She grew up in the suburbs of New York and moved to Miami as a teenager, and that's when she started to write poetry. "I've always been an avid reader and the tropical setting gave me lots of inspiration for my poetry," she says. Out of all the places she has lived, she will always consider Miami to be her home.

       Nancy Madison wrote: 'My critique partner JoAnne McCraw (The Viscount's Journey-Awe-Struck) and I are having a joint book signing on Saturday, October 20, 2001, 1-4pm at Gene Alllen's Other Place, 2717 W. Park Row here in Arlington, TX. I'll be signing diskette copies of my new ebook, What The World Needs Now (romantic comedy) as well as the two earlier books (Clues to Love and Never Love A Stranger- romantic suspense). Anyone who happens to be in town that day, please stop by. We'll have drawings for prizes, refreshments,etc.'

       In March of 2001, Jennifer LB Leese's children's book SOUNDS I HEAR, published by, was nominated for the EPIC Eppie Award in the children's category. To boot, the same book hit #3 on the children's e-book bestseller list in September. Jennifer LB Leese's books can be found by visiting her authors page, IT'S ONLY INK! OR by visiting her publisher, WORDBEAMS.

       Elaine Hopper's suspenseful romantic thriller LIONS OF JUDAH will be released on Monday September 17, 2001 by NovelBooks Inc. It is one of two launch books for NovelBooks Inc.

       Karen Beck of Romancing the Web Reviews says, "Don't be the only one among your excited friends who has to say they haven't read it yet. An exceptional plot lies waiting for you among the cleverly written pages in Lions of Judah. Without a doubt, I give this book a 5 star rating."

       LIONS OF JUDAH can be purchased at: and you can read a free excerpt of this and Elaine's other romance novels at her cyber home at: Elaine will be signing this and her other books at a series of booksignings at the Books A Million stores throughout Palm Beach County Florida throughout October 2001 through October 2002 as well at the Romantic Times Convention in Orlando Florida November 10, 2001. The first booksigning is scheduled at Books A Million in Palm Beach on Saturday October 27th from 2-4 pm. Don't miss Elaine and the other five popular authors who will sign with her. They are: Megan Sybil Baker, Pat Waddell, Jane Toombs, Kathy Early, and Kathleen Pickering.

       For those of you who are interested in Youth Adventure Novels, please check out in November and meet Jo Ann Hollier's special character, Roary O'Rourke in his first adventure - Quest for the Secret of Bramble Castle. This is only the first of his adventures. There are lots more to come as she is presently working on the third adventure. Soon to follow are Roary, The Princess, and Dooley Do. Roary is an elf from the Kingdom of Elfdom. He was sent by the town of Undertrees to rescue Princess Lacey Lovelyful from the clutches of the Evil Baron Barnabuss Bramble, who has taken her off to Dark Clouds Peak in the Milesaround Mountains. Roary faces many dangers in the Bonesapart Plains and Deadly Desert before he accomploshes his Quest with the help of Dooley Do and the Mountain Men. Children of all ages love his adventures. Before long these adventures will be published in German by Kripgansbooks too. As his creator, Jo Ann expects Roary O'Rourke will lead her on many more adventures. Come along and see.

       Moni Draper is running a Halloween contest. with a cash prize and free books for runners-up. Visit for all the details. No tricky questions, the contest participants can surf the sites, grab the letters they need and never leave the contest page.

       Atlantic Bridge is holding a contest to kick off Beth Anderson's new mainstream novel, SECOND GENERATION. First prize will be a gorgeous genuine gold and emerald pendant necklace, and there will be two second prizes of super nice T-shirts with the SECOND GENERATION cover on the front. Anyone is invited to visit Beth's website, to read the first three chapters on her brand new, very beautiful chapters page.

       Note that most of Chapter One is right here.

    Responses from Readers

    Dr Kartar Badsha
    About Antidepressants
    About Ethics

    From Dr Kartar Badsha

       In the previous issue, I reproduced an appeal from Dr Badsha, who is trying to fund a hospital in Britain. This is a special place for the casualties of the war we fight against ourselves: those who have been affected by one of the many poisons we pour into our environment.

       Dr Badsha wrote this:

    Dear Dr Rich

        Thank you for publishing our Appeal. The problem we have highlighted is not confined to the United Kingdom. For an example according to the National Academy of Sciences, 37 millions Americans suffer from Environmental Illness. Their estimate further holds that as high as 15% of Americans can no longer live comfortably in this post-industrial world. This is also supported by a WHO strategy meeting on Air Quality and Health held in Geneva in September 2000 where it stated that “As many as one billion people, mostly women and children, are regularly exposed to levels of indoor air pollution exceeding WHO guidelines by up to 100 times.”

        However in the UK unlike the USA and or other industrialised countries there are an ever-increasing number of adults, families and children continuing to be become chemically sensitive, there has been no immediate and corrective medical advice available to these patients. The main stream medical profession and (or) government bodies still prescribes medieval approach, do not accept that there is such a thing as Environmental Illness due to chemical exposures and people with this syndrome are often termed as having it “all in the mind” – this is coupled with by ever increasing numbers of prescriptions for drugs, - a treatment. There have been no attempts made by the government and medical profession to understand the underlying problem.

       In the mean time, the exposed people involved, at first, often do not realise what is causing their problem and go through the mainstream medical system…often to no avail at all. The outcome of this is that they usually end up being more ill and damaged as a result of from being prescribed medicines which do not help their problem but simply compound it, and also financially drained due to medical and legal expenses which get them nowhere.

       People who are experiencing environmental illness are punished again by society’s view of them. ‘Odd’, ‘weird’, ‘crazy’, all in the head’, ‘malingerers’ and ‘pathetic’ are commonly used adjectives to describe the people who suffer. Many are desperate to get someone to listen to them. Children’s peers punish them at school as being the odd one out, they tease, taunt and commonly ostracise them. Whole families, if they make a public noise, are often ostracised by their neighbours and family alike as being different.

       The emotional, psychological and physical drain upon the family unit as a result of these outside factors creates conflict within the families themselves and can manifest in the loss of jobs through illness, breaking up of relationships and families units, a further punishment to the already suffering victims but which can be avoided with a little bit of understanding.

       I hope that what I have written above will assist your subscribers to understand the problems faced by growing numbers of the population universally and the reasons behind our Appeal. You may be interested to know that we get at least one telephone call per week from the USA from people suffering from MCS asking for assistance.

    Thanking you
    Dr Kartar Badsha

       The relevant web address is The Environmental Law Centre, (Elc)

       This is from an email from a lady who is on the same email list with me. She has asked that her name be withheld.

       ...It's about Zoloft. Two weeks ago we moved here to another city and are staying with people I've known for about 10 years. They're a good couple, a decent family, and very good friends. A few days into it, I found out that my friend is on Zoloft. A big buzzer went off in my head because she is not what I would consider "depressed". She was bummed that she had to move from her hometown last year, went to the Dr, said "I'm feeling depressed", and he wrote her prescription...Just like that. No tests. No therapy. Just, "Here you go...".

       I should tell you that my friend, though very dear, tends to cling to her routines...a LOT. The same friends, families, town. So I'm sure it was a hard transition for her to make such a big move. But I honestly don't believe she's depressed. I remembered you writing about antidepressants, so I thought to share my impressions with you.

       Anyhow, I started telling my friend that there are other alternatives to popping a pill that supposedly will help a problem you really haven't been diagnosed with in the first place. Even if there IS a problem, there are alternatives.

       So, a couple of days ago she went to her Dr. again and and asked about the Zoloft because I had her concerned...and of course we know what he said: "People have taken Zoloft for ten years and have no problems, blah, blah, blah." "It's fine." "Oh, and by the way, let me up your dosage to 200."

       I was so mad. She and I are completely different when it comes to this. She was raised: "Pop a pill if you sneeze." I was raised, "Sure, we'll go to the Dr. Are you missing a limb?" So, it's really hard for me to understand how it's so easy for her to just toss chemicals into her body instead of taking charge and making the changes herself. I know she's obsessed about her weight for the past few years, but we're already kicking that problem. She's lost 11 pounds since I got here. And I'm trying to talk to her about making changes within herself rather than popping these apparent "instant cures". I'm just worried about the Zoloft, and don't appreciate these Dr.s that just want to toss it around. Will my friend have a hard time getting off of it?

       Can she just stop taking it? The whole thing is very frustrating. Last year, her mother went to another Dr. and said I'm depressed and he instantly prescribed her something I've never heard of and prozac!!!??? And, yes, the mother is high-strung and a severe worrier, but geez all these instant fixes are just craziness. I just found out that my friend started taking xanax(sp) right when we got here. THey begged us to move here, but she was worried that 6kids in the house might make her anxious and she might "go off" (you know, yell for "quiet", get upset, etc). So I tell her, if you don't get angry at least ONCE with 10 people in the house, there's something wrong. As far as I'm concerned, you should be able to lose your temper, get irritated, or frustrated because things are a little chaotic right now. Emotions are normal. And if your kids don't see you use them, do they even know you have them? But instead of maybe losing her temper, she gets put on xanax??? I guess, I'm just looking for some more facts to show my friend. I searched the net, but didn't find much. I have, however, read a few pages of your site. It's very interesting. Why is it that Dr's can so easily prescribe this stuff? Ok...I've been holding this in for a long time, so I knew I'd be long winded. I'd like to hear anything you might have to say on the matter, if you're willing.

       And thanks...

       I find this a real worry. If you want to know why, read this article. Zoloft in particular has very bad side effects for many people, and serious withrawal effects. Discontinuation must be gradual, and under medical supervision. I think my friend's friend needs a new doctor.

       As many as six respondents have expressed appreciation of my 'Letter to a child'. I am thankful that my words have given pleasure, and a cause for thought, for many people.

       The one person who DIDN'T appreciate the publication of this exchange of emails was the child concerned. And yes, she is really a nine-year-old girl. I had asked her permission twice, and when she wrote about other things without responding to this request, I went ahead and included the question and answer. Murphy's Law: she let me know she considered our correspondence to be special, and did not want it shared.

       I am sincerely sorry.

    An American Redneck in Hong Kong

    Copyright 2001, Michael LaRocca

       To those who don't know me, I'm from North Carolina, but I've been living in Hong Kong for a year and a half. Here's a little something I wrote when I was new here and didn't know what was going on. I still don't, but that's beside the point.

       Let me tell you about my bus ride into Sha Tin, Hong Kong, today. Usually these trips involve sitting face-to-face and right beside total strangers for an hour without a word, or even eye contact.

       The only exception to this is when an old lady sees how much I sweat. And no, the appropriate expression is not "sweat like a pig." I used to work with pigs, okay? They don't sweat very much.

       But anyway, the lovely old Chinese ladies are so quick to offer a tissue, and they all have them. Anyone who's ever been to Hong Kong knows why they have tissues, right? Because public toilets do not. Many don't even have toilet paper holders. As for the way I sweat--it's a Western thing. They wouldn't understand.

       So there I was, in my seat, a briefcase in my lap and a Walkman in my ears and a word-find puzzle book in front of me. (The Walkman, incidentally, is all but mandatory in Hong Kong.) A guy sat beside me and immediately began asking me about the book in Chinese. Pointing and talking, and of course I couldn't understand a word. I only speak English and Spanish.

       I think he thought I was a student, judging by my clothes (T-shirt, jeans, sneakers) and my briefcase and my "homework." I think he was a student, judging by his backpack and the fact that he could have been anywhere between twenty and fifty years old. Until his/her hair grays, I don't have a clue how old a Chinese person might be. This strikes me as a distinctly Eastern trait, but perhaps they feel the same about us.

       Could I be mistaken for a student back in my homeland? Perhaps, but it'd have to be an older student. I At age twenty-nine, I was being asked for ID when I bought cigars. At thirty, they said "Oh no, you're way too old to show ID." Not too old... way too old. It must have been the wrinkles that appeared so suddenly. By now, I look like a badly folded road map.

       Do the Chinese think I'm ancient because of my wrinkles and my gray hair and my receding hairline, or do they assume that's just some American trait? Beats me.

       So I pointed at my word-find puzzle book and babbled in English, circled a few, and finally he caught on. It occurred to me that this wouldn't work with calligraphy. Nor will crossword puzzles. So my puzzle was really interesting to him. He tried to help me, but he couldn't find any words. Maybe a teaching tool, those word-finds.

       I was listening to my Blackfoot tape. American Indian hippies singing Southern rock. I love those guys. So my new friend and I were looking for English words when the second song on the tape ended. The third happens to be my all-time favorite by them. The intro is a harmonica sounding like a train. The song, aptly enough, is entitled Train Train.

       I couldn't help myself. I popped a speaker out of my ear and offered it to my Chinese friend. He listened. He smiled. He laughed. He thumped his foot. He didn't understand a damn word.

       Blackfoot, I said.

       He muttered something in Chinese.

       Blackfoot, I repeated.

       He muttered again.

       Black, I said.


       Black, he said.

       Foot, I said.

       Foot, he said.

       Black-foot, I said.

       Blackfoot, he said.

       Hai, I said. (Cantonese for "yes" - my first word.)

       He laughed.

       I'll westernize these people yet. One at a time...

       Michael LaRocca became a full-time writer in 2000, and has signed contracts to publish four books in 2001. In his spare time he is an editor at CrossroadsPub. His website shows you where to find free and low-priced quality reads, tells you how to get published free, and contains free samples of his published works and sneak previews of his latest projects. The address is


    Panic Attacks
    Grief: A letter from a friend
    Self-confidence: A British course

    Panic Attacks

       A 'panic attack' is an intense feeling of fear in a situation where, to an external observer, there is no reason for it. The sufferer acts exactly as if s/he were in immediate danger from some terrible physical threat. All the signs and symptoms of fear are present: muscular tension, dilated eyes, shallow rapid breathing, extremely rapid heart beat, cold sweat, and so on.

       Typically, the sufferer has thoughts like, "I'm having a heart attack!" or "I'm losing control over myself!" or "I'm going crazy!" in response to the bodily effects of fear.

       I once had a panic attack when watching my daughter in a high but safe place. I used my rational thought processes to reassure myself (though the irrational fear stayed until she left the situation). The panic has never attacked me again. Many people also suffer a single panic attack when facing some environmental event, but have no recurrence.

       Others are less lucky: they suffer a series of episodes, which may be predictable, or apparently random. Typically, attacks are triggered by an increasing range of stimuli, and in time can progress to agoraphobia [a lifestyle restricted to a small number of settings, such as avoidance of everywhere except the person's home].

    What causes panic attacks

       Research has shown that the reason for the initial panic attack is immaterial. It may be part of the natural development of a specific phobia. It may be triggered by a smell, melody or other sensory stimulus that has childhood associations with a frightening situation. A sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of balance due to an ear infection, the onset of menopause or other physical condition can cause a momentary malaise that is misinterpreted as life threatening, and then the person reacts to the fear in a positive feedback spiral.

       An initial panic attack will develop into a series, and therefore a chronic problem, if the sufferer misinterprets the symptoms as indicating insanity or a life-threatening illness. A panic attack feels terrible and people react with fear to the thought of a recurrence. Therefore, environmental stimuli that have become associated with previous attacks can trigger new ones.

    How to conquer panic attacks

       Accurate information is the first and most important step. The sufferer's beliefs about the signs and symptoms need to be elicited, and corrected. Information about the differences between the effects of a cardiac arrest or angina and the effects of fear will be of immense help to people who believe the panic attack to be a heart attack, and so on.

       Sufferers typically breathe very rapidly and shallowly, with the top of the chest only. This can lead to hyperventilation. The loss of carbon dioxide can be sufficient to cause fainting. Therefore, a deliberate attempt at deep, slow, diaphragmatic breathing can prevent a panic attack from taking off. Rebreathing air blown into a bag can help by increasing the carbon dioxide concentration of the blood.

       Because panic attacks usually recur in response to the fear of an attack, a change in the sufferer's thought pattern will usually prevent them. Paradoxically, inviting an attack will almost invariably stop one from occurring.

       Attack on the problem is usually both behavioural: facing feared situations until they lose their terror; and cognitive: changing the habits of thought associated with the fear.


       Systematic desensitisation and cognitive therapy combined give an excellent chance of permanent recovery. Some clients will beat panic attacks after a single session, in which their misconceptions are cleared up, provided they are able to pluck up the courage to invite the attack in the situation where it usually strikes. In this session, they can also be taught relapse prevention techniques. Other clients may need regular sessions for up to three months.

       Drug treatment can be useful at the beginning of therapy, because it allows the sufferer to approach the problem more rationally. Some clients are unable to proceed with therapy unless they first control their fear with medications. However, drugs should be discontinued as soon as possible, because the person needs to experience fear in order to stop it.

       Where a person has become addicted or habituated to psychoactive drugs (prescription or illegal), s/he needs to undergo a medically supervised detoxification program before therapy can begin.

       My book Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias contains more details of the techniques I mentioned here.

    Easing His Last Hours

       This is part of a letter from a dear email friend. Her words may help others in a similarly sad situation.

       I have done a bit of nursing, too, these last days, looking after my dying Dad.

       I may have told you I broke off my holidays to visit him, some fifteen days ago? Well, since then a lot has happened. That first week, he was quite all right. Not physically, of course, but a morphine pump prevented him from feeling any pain, and he was clear-minded, cheerful and still very positive. We really had a good time, although he got tired very soon. I cooked him the last meal he ate, carefully choosing the menu: it had to be tasty, looking tempting to conquer his anorexia, it had to be juicy to make up for his loss of saliva, it had to evoke happy memories, it had to prove I never ever forgot which food he liked best. He ate shockingly little, but anyhow, he ate, and he enjoyed it.

       We stayed with him for a week, leaving on Saturday. When I came to say goodbye, his sudden grey appearance shocked me. Since then, he has been deteriorating fast. At Tuesday, we informed my eldest brother who was spending his holidays with our Canadian cousins he'd better come back. At Wednesday, I went over to visit him once more, and when I saw him, I decided to stay. Until then, his wife had been alone at night, checking at him every two hours or so. I let her sleep and watched him all night, helping him drink and pee, wetting his mouth and forehead, talking to him. He couldn't talk much, then. He still was very clear, but his speech was hard to understand and he spoke very little.

       Next day, my brother returned, followed by my daughter. He loved to see them and they spoke a few words. Shortly after that, he stopped talking. That afternoon his breathing turned into Cheyne-Stokes type of breathing. He seemed to be in pain, so we arranged the morphine dose to be raised from 0.1 to 0.3. My daughter lit some candles and I put on one of my own compact discs- very clear and quiet, piano with a Celtic harp. That enhanced a more contemplative atmosphere.

       My Dad was very restless at times. He lay on his back, mouth opened wide, gasping for breath and waving his arms. I wondered what was going on inside; still am, actually. Are these motions spasms of the body, involuntary movements? Or did they mean he was frightened? I never saw someone dying before and this long, hard transition has moved me deeply.

       Next Friday morning, the nurse came. She came to see him twice a day and she was a wise and caring person, not only being very sweet and gentle with him, but also kindly coaching the family to deal with what was going on. She wanted to change his sheets, but since he was very fragile at the time she asked the ones present to help: my daughter, a cousin, my youngest brother or me. She told us what to do and together we turned and lifted him, while she talked to him softly, carefully explaining what we were going to do. It was a special, precious, almost sacred event. I was grateful she let us share in it.

       That afternoon, I drove home (a two hours drive) to fetch my husband. We drove back immediately, although I was feeling very tired by then. During these last two days I only had slept seven hours. Part of me hoped it would all be over when we got back, but nothing had changed: still the irregular breathing and the waving of the arms. While some of our family (the in-law ones) went to sleep, we settled down for another night of watching. Once more, I held his hand or feet when he seemed to be fighting, trying to calm him down like you do a frightened animal, telling him all was Ok, his work here was done, he was free to let go, there was nothing to fear, he would always be surrounded by love. I really believe that, Bob. Seeing his struggle didn't change that.

       On Saturday, we made the necessary preparations for his cremation. That night, we went back home. I slept like a log, but the following night I lay awake, being very frightened all of a sudden. I never have been afraid to die. I still do not dread whatever comes next, but his struggle frightened me. I lay there sweating, but when I had kicked off the blanket, feeling my body turn colder, I was reminded of his body getting terribly cold at the extremities while he still was alive. And my head suddenly felt like a skull, and I felt the bones inside of my body, beneath the soft, warm flesh. Luckily, my fears disappeared once the daylight came. I wouldn't share this with you if you hadn't been a nurse, too. I trust you to be familiar with these passing fears. We all are mortals, after all, at least as long as we dwell on this earth. However, the process IMO certainly is just awful. It is also wonderful and magical. Like birth, through different. To me, the leaving, the letting go is what makes it hard and sad. My Dad never has been avoiding Adventure, and I'm sure he is just fine now, in whatever form. In many ways, these last weeks have been a time of healing.

       The cremation took place on Wednesday. I chose the music (I seem to be the only one to know which music my parents liked) and wrote a speech (elegy? Or is that too grand a word?) which we read, alternating, with my three brothers. I feel we did a good job.

    Quick Tips for building self confidence

       Everybody could do with a confidence boost sometimes, so here are a few tips... [These tips come from Roger Elliott, who runs courses and a website dedicated to building self confidence. You can subscribe to his free self confidence course here:

    1) Feel Good when you Want

       For times when you need a quick boost to your self confidence or self esteem, find 3 things that make you feel good. These could be memories of good times, a piece of music, a holiday souvenir, or a person's face - use photos if it helps. Practice thinking about them and bringing them to mind. Because of the way emotions 'attach' themselves to memories, you will quickly train yourself to feel good when you want - a great help in developing self confidence that lasts.

    2) Beat Self Consciousness

       Learn how to keep your attention off yourself - self consciousness is the No.1 enemy of self confidence. You can do this easily by following these steps...
    a) If you notice you have become self-conscious, (you can usually tell because you start to feel anxious), choose something 'everyday' you can see and study it in detail. For example: examine a door, look at the different textures and shades of color, wonder about who made it and how and so on. The important thing is that you're learning how to keep your attention off yourself.
    b) If you feel self-conscious in a social situation, it's usually because you don't have enough to do! Focus on what your purpose in the situation is. Whether you're there to:

       It's easy to feel self-conscious if you have nothing to do, and much more difficult if your attention is occupied by a task. Think how comfortable you have been with others when you're all working toward a common goal. The common goal of socializing could be making friends, it could be the exchange of mutually beneficial information, it could be whatever you want it to be!

    3) Don't Take Undue Criticism - Even From Yourself !

       Challenge your own assumptions. Here's a few to get you started:
    a) Confident-looking people have bad moments too.
    b) Just because you feel under-confident, doesn't mean other people can tell.
    c) If you're saying things to yourself like "You're no good at anything" then rest assured, you're wrong. Everyone can compose a sentence, get successfully to the store, eat without choking. Don't let yourself make sweeping statements about yourself - in the long run it is this sort of thing that can really damage your self image. Building self esteem is not just about thinking good of yourself, it's about not thinking bad for no reason!
    d) Just because you have felt bad about yourself in the past doesn't mean you're always going to feel that way. I have seen hundreds of people surprise themselves once they have learned how to build self confidence in a way that it stays built!
    e) Persevere and don't expect everything at once. Really learn how to develop your self confidence by following the tips from this site and the free Self Confidence Course and notice the small differences as they happen.

       Beating low self esteem is a wonderful thing, and it's much easier than you'd imagine.

    Internet Resources

       My thanks to 'NDK' who sent me the following list of interesting offerings on the web.


       Thoughts on Returning from the U.N. Conference on Racism by Howard Winant, BRC-NEWS After a week at the U.N. conference, the whole U.S. has that same Disneyland "what, me worry?" feel, at least where the subject of racism is concerned.


       We Don't Just Pay at the Pump by Norman Myers and Jennifer Kent Our reliance on fossil fuels costs us dearly in many indirect ways, including degraded health, a polluted environment, and lost agricultural yield. The authors cautiously estimate the total at $200 billion annually.


       by Debbie S. Miller, Amicus Journal Big Oil offered a village of Inupiat Eskimos jobs and an economic boom. All it asked in return was their way of life.


       by Lester Graham, Great Lakes Radio Consortium Finding that weather is becoming more chaotic, scientists in the Great Lakes Basin are examining ways that global warming is affecting the region today and far into the future. AUDIO and TEXT


       Lots of Issues on the Agenda at U.N. Racism Conference by Joe Davidson You wouldn't know it, but basic issues like infant mortality, life expectancy and disposable income are on the agenda in Durban.


       A Personal Reflection by Kim Fellner Whatever Zionism's historical and cultural aspirations, the debate surrounding the World Conference on Racism has highlighted its sometimes-racist consequences.

       As you will see from the links, NDK had forwarded snippets from an announcement from

    A Promise of Cheap e-book Readers

       Recently Philips Components and E-Ink have demonstrated the first use of the 'electronic ink' technology for small hand-held devices. This is one of several leading edge technologies promising at last to make affordable e-book readers a reality. Current makers of these devices are forced to make them expensive, mainly because of the cost of the screen. Philips hopes to be in production by about 2003.

    Inform Without Boring Your Reader

       Why is Chapter 1 the hardest to write? Because it has two jobs to do, and it takes experience to write an opening that achieves both.

       First, naturally, the start needs to grab the reader's interest, and hold it. At the same time, the stage needs to be set, characters introduced and developed, a make-believe reality created and brought to life.

       This second task involves the transmission of a large amount of information. As editor (or reader) I am often forced to wade through 'executive summaries' from the writer, or endless descriptions and lectures. Naturally this destroys the book's power to hold me.

       One excellent solution is an extended dialogue. Instead of the author giving me the information, I can listen in as the characters in the book tell each other. While they become people to me they also educate me about their world.

       Read this excerpt from 'Second Generation', a book I recently edited for Beth Anderson. She started with a short Prologue, then skipped thirteen years and a continent to the beginning of Chapter 1:

    San Francisco, California. 1948

       Leigh Shaunnessey's parents were at it again, ruining what should have been a peaceful, rainy Pacific Heights afternoon with another of their civilized disagreements. Their words spiraled across the dining room, reminding her of a roll of barbed wire ready to spring open and snag everything in its path.

       The same discussion had been going on for months whenever her father was in town. Leigh tried to ignore them, but it was hard to do because she was one hundred percent on her father's side. Yes, of course she wanted to go back to Colombia this summer the same as always. She'd spent almost her entire childhood in Bogota and she loved it there, didn't her mother understand anything?

       Daisy rattled the women's section of the Examiner with controlled complacency, as if she knew she'd win. Somehow she always managed to have her own way, although Leigh had yet to figure out exactly how, because her mother was almost always wrong. No, not almost always, she corrected herself silently. Always.

       Why did she pluck her eyebrows until there was only a thin line left? And her hair. Her mother's hair was currently a deep chestnut red that bordered on mauve, swooped high up on the sides and over her forehead in a puff, falling back over her shoulders in a pageboy. And her jewelry. As of this week, her mother had one hundred sixty seven bracelets stashed in the safe behind the Vermeer that hung in the dining room. They had cost her father a small fortune, but her mother always said, ignoring his objections, if you have it, why not spend it?

       "No, Michael, this time I'm putting my foot down, and I mean it. I will not spend another summer in South America." Daisy raised her eyebrows another full quarter of an inch as she spoke, lowering her newspaper so that Michael couldn't miss the severity of her expression. "That cursed, lonely place has completely taken over our lives. I'm sick and tired of summering in Bogota, and Leigh barely has any time at all to spend with her friends."

       Michael's eyes glittered. "That 'cursed place' you're referring to has managed to create a very comfortable lifestyle for us, in case you haven't noticed. And it wouldn't be so lonely if you'd bother to learn Spanish." He headed across the room and poured himself a vodka on the rocks. Leigh eyed the almost empty bottle as he set it back on the bar, wondering if he drank this early in the day in Bogota when he was alone. She'd bet anything he didn't. He never used to drink at all.

       "How you could have lived there off and on all these years without picking up even one simple phrase is beyond me." He searched in the tiny refrigerator under the bar for a slice of lime, swearing softly when he saw there was none.

       Daisy raised the paper, cutting off his view of her eyes. "And how you can call existing in Bogota 'living' is beyond me."

       Leigh sighed. Her father had told her, one afternoon when her mother had gone to play canasta and he'd come home unexpectedly, that it was much easier to manage the mine without her mother's constant discontent meeting him head-on every time he came back in from the mine to Bogota, but on the other hand, flying back home to California every month was making him weary. She could see it, even if her mother couldn't. The flesh around his eyes was looking darker every time she saw him.

       "Two months out of the year doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice to me," Michael insisted. "You've said yourself, you don't really miss anything by not being in San Francisco in the summer. Why is it that just as Leigh is beginning to take a real interest in the mine, you're dragging your heels over spending the summer months in Colombia?"

       Daisy dismissed his words with an airy wave of her hand. "There isn't one single thing about that mine that interests me, Michael, and I'm sure Leigh feels the same way."

       "You're interested enough in the money. Daisy, I don't like leaving the two of you alone so much."

       Daisy gave him a small, triumphant smile. "But we're not alone, Michael. Yan and Loo are always here."

    * * *

       Michael simmered with frustration. Damn the woman, didn't she understand that the months away from his family were taking their toll on everything? It wasn't so much that he missed the sex at this point in their lives. After all, he and Daisy had been married for fifteen years now. The excitement had long ago gone out of their lives; nowadays her attitude was more of, "Oh, crap, he's home again. Well, I may as well dab on a little Chanel and lie back and let him do it."

       It was nothing at all like her passion when he'd come home from Colombia carrying a quarter of a million dollars worth of raw emeralds in his duffel bag that first summer. She'd really turned into a hot number then, and she hadn't wasted any time about it. She'd turned, for a very short while, into an insatiable sex machine, and had immediately, while he wasn't looking, torn through their bank account as though she were an island hurricane, flattening everything in her path.

       Big money had ruined her. The San Francisco merchants knew who had money and who didn't, so she just ordered whatever she wanted. The United States Post Office presented the bills to him with unerring regularity, and he paid them without comment. Like Sherman, she might have lost a few battles, but she'd won the war.

       It was sad, the way those emeralds had changed everything. He'd wondered many times what their lives might have been like if he'd just pitched that first one back into the creek and walked on without saying anything.

       "Okay," he said, "but what about Leigh? She can come with me. She'll be fine, I can take care of her." She was the one he really wanted with him in Bogota, anyhow. She'd turned out to be a real winner, as he'd predicted. Smart as hell and then some. She'd be the perfect one to take over running the mine someday, he was certain of this. After all, he'd been training her for years.

       Daisy folded the women's section into a neat little rectangle and lay it on the table. "Michael, Leigh needs to be here with me. Maybe we'll come over Thanksgiving, won't that be nice?"

       The lines around Michael's eyes deepened. "It'd be nicer if I had more time with her. Look, I've spent the past two years teaching her how to run the mine. She's going to have to know these things some day, you must realize that."

       Daisy snorted. "She doesn't need to know any more about bugs and snakes, Michael, and what else is there in Colombia?"

       Michael sighed heavily. Last summer he'd taught Leigh all about his emeralds-where to dispose of the tiny chips that frequently resulted from the digging because emeralds were prone to shatter if the edge of the shovel or the smallest hammer tapped them the wrong way. He'd taught her, with astonishing ease, how to estimate the weight of one large gemstone held in the palm of her hand. And how to check the clarity and the perfection, although he'd never seen a perfect one because there were always inclusions, small flaws visible to the naked eye.

       He'd taught her that the money was in the cut, and he'd taken her with him to a dealer in San Francisco to make sure she knew how to sell the large ones for the best price. And he'd taught her to balance a checkbook. This summer he was planning to teach her how to keep books, Shaunnessey style.

       "She needs to learn the financial aspect of the business," he insisted.

       "Why can't Emelio do that? He is the other half of your partnership, after all."

       "Emelio's no good at managing money, Daisy, and you know it. He pays no attention to the mine at all anymore. He spends all his time drowning his sorrows in Tequila and Colombian beer. He never draws much money out. I can't for the life of me figure out what he lives on."

       "Well, if Emelio wants to let his money build, that's his privilege, isn't it?" She lowered her paper and stared him down. "Michael, financial matters are so boring. What makes you think Leigh wants to spend her summer with her nose stuck in a set of books?" She shook her head. "No. It's out of the question."

       Michael leaned over the bar to stir his drink and eyed his daughter, who was at this moment engrossed in reading the Sunday front page. "How about it, Leigh," he coaxed, "do you want to go to Colombia with your dad this summer?"

    * * *

       Leigh glanced up from the front page and grinned, knowing her answer would make her mother furious. "Si, Senor." She giggled under her breath because she spoke impeccable Spanish, had since she was two years old, although she kept that fact carefully hidden from her mother.

       Daisy frowned. "Leigh, speak English. And put something on besides those awful blue jeans. Someone might drop in."

       "Yes, ma'am." Leigh turned back to focus on the paper, which was a lot more interesting right now than anything her mother might have to say. The Republican National Committee had nominated Thomas Dewey as their candidate and the Examiner had given him a full half of the front page. God, he had a great mustache! He almost, in a way, looked Spanish, which appealed to her, but her money was still on Truman. According to the Examiner, he'd introduced a Civil Rights bill to Congress that might backlash against him, but she thought not. People would just have to realize that prejudice would only hold up the country's progress.

       Political news fascinated her. It had ever since she'd discovered, at age eight, that she understood what she was reading and had her own opinions on all of it. Right now, she was totally convinced she could take better care of the country than the current politicians, and she intended to, someday. She might only be thirteen, her mother reminded her of that often enough, but she knew what she wanted just the same.

       Michael was scowling. "Stop clouding the issue, Daisy. You heard her, she wants to go to Bogota this summer. Right, Leigh?" He eyed her. "You want to see Girardo, don't you?"

       Si, she thought, but she contented herself with a quiet, "Yes, I like Girardo. He's very nice."

    * * *

       Michael nodded. Of course she liked Girardo. The two of them had been friends since they were babies. They'd grown up together until early 1941, when even Daisy had been forced to admit that the USA was going to war in Europe. F.D.R. had stockpiled arms and planes and ships like mad, and when the general public realized he was sending them to England, they'd known there was no question about it. They were going to be sucked right into war.

       The Colombian newspapers had printed things that the papers in the USA hadn't, and Daisy had taken that opportunity to do what she'd been wanting to do all along. She'd forced him to buy this mansion in Pacific Heights and had insisted upon taking Leigh back to the states for good. Then the Japanese had stunned the world with their attack on Pearl Harbor, leaving the west coast wide open to attack, but Daisy refused to leave, always insisting-completely disregarding the fact that she'd be far safer in Bogota than anywhere on the American west coast-that if she were going to be killed, she couldn't bear for it to be on foreign soil.

       Daisy expelled an exasperated sigh. "Michael, Leigh does not need to see Girardo. He's a good boy, yes, but you know as well as I do that he's been running wild ever since his mother died. Don't you have eyes?"

       "He doesn't run wild, mother." Leigh's voice shot across the room. "He's been working since he was a little boy, that's all."

       "But, Leigh, Girardo doesn't have to work." Daisy's eyebrows formed two wavy lines across her forehead, like question marks lying on their side. "I can't understand why he bothers, when he doesn't have to."

       "He wants to, mother. Is it so wrong to want to work?"

       Daisy gave an offended sniff. "No, but you should be spending time here, playing with my friends' children. One day you'll be making your debut with them, and you need to start nourishing those friendships now."

       Leigh gave a soft groan. "Mother, I don't want a debut. You know that."

       When I asked Beth's permission to reproduce this chapter, her reply contained these couple of paragraphs:

       Were you bored, even once? I wasn't, and yet I was given an enormous amount of information. There are other ways of doing it, but an extended conversation, always within someone's Point of View but moving from one to another in an orchestrated way, is an excellent device.

    About Bobbing Around

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