Bobbing Around

Volume Six, Number Four
October 2006

Bob Rich's rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Michael Moore on Iraq
  Winter in Russia, from James Choron.
  Shine on, Townsville!
  Research findings on Greenhouse.
  Water use of energy generation, from Adam Dempsey.
  George Monbiot on climate change.
*Ethical matters
  The meaning of cancer, from Petra Henn.
  'Living with purpose' by Wayne Dyer
  Help me with a paradox
  I'm being bullied, and don't want to live.
  Depression is killing me.
  Alcohol is the only thing that helps me.
*For writers
  What's wrong with head hopping?
  'The point of good grammar' from Patricia Harrison
  Shirley Martin on the use of scenes
*What my friends want you to know
  'What Authors Don't Know about Contests Can Hurt Them' from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
  More memoirs from Darrell Bain
  Kathe's third story at Amazon
  'Footprints in the snow' by James Choron
*Book reviews
  'The Centurion' by Alex Domokos and Rita Y. Toews.
  'Rarity From the Hollow' by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Evelyn Somers.

My book is a finalist

EPPIE Finalist logo   As past readers will know, I converted my second published book, Woodworking for Idiots Like Me into an electronic format. In effect, it's a large web page.

   I have just found out that this book is one of the finalists in the Non-Fiction category of the current EPPIE contest.

   Needless to say, I am delighted. To celebrate, I am offering this book for HALF PRICE to Bobbing Around subscribers, until my birthday on the 4th of February 2007. This means $5 for Australian buyers and $US3.50 for others. So, don't click on the Paypal button, but email me.

   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.

   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.

"If the reader doesn't understand what's happening, it hardly matters how good the story is in other respects."
Piers Anthony

Dr. Rich -
    I saw, by accident, some advice you've given a young girl on the Internet, and I feel that I should thank you for it. Perhaps she won't, but she'll read it, and at least take it in to consideration. Keep it up! Finding professionals willing to offer encouraging advice online (a free medium) is rare, but I believe your willingness to do so in this case has done some good, if not for her, than for others.
Link referenced:
Joshua Davis

Michael Moore on Iraq

Michael Moore needs no introduction. He graciously gave me permission to reproduce this essay. Although it is WAY beyond my word limit, I think it's important enough to reproduce in full.

Michael MooreSunday, November 26th, 2006


   Tomorrow marks the day that we will have been in Iraq longer than we were in all of World War II.

   That's right. We were able to defeat all of Nazi Germany, Mussolini, and the entire Japanese empire in LESS time than it's taken the world's only superpower to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad.

   And we haven't even done THAT. After 1,347 days, in the same time it took us to took us to sweep across North Africa, storm the beaches of Italy, conquer the South Pacific, and liberate all of Western Europe, we cannot, after over 3 and 1/2 years, even take over a single highway and protect ourselves from a homemade device of two tin cans placed in a pothole. No wonder the cab fare from the airport into Baghdad is now running around $35,000 for the 25-minute ride. And that doesn't even include a friggin' helmet.

   Is this utter failure the fault of our troops? Hardly. That's because no amount of troops or choppers or democracy shot out of the barrel of a gun is ever going to "win" the war in Iraq. It is a lost war, lost because it never had a right to be won, lost because it was started by men who have never been to war, men who hide behind others sent to fight and die.

   Let's listen to what the Iraqi people are saying, according to a recent poll conducted by the University of Maryland:

  • 71% of all Iraqis now want the U.S. out of Iraq.
  • 61% of all Iraqis SUPPORT insurgent attacks on U.S. troops.

       Yes, the majority of Iraqi citizens believe that our soldiers should be killed and maimed! So what the hell are we still doing there? Talk about not getting the hint.

       There are many ways to liberate a country. Usually the residents of that country rise up and liberate themselves. That's how we did it. You can also do it through nonviolent, mass civil disobedience. That's how India did it. You can get the world to boycott a regime until they are so ostracized they capitulate. That's how South Africa did it. Or you can just wait them out and, sooner or later, the king's legions simply leave (sometimes just because they're too cold). That's how Canada did it.

       The one way that DOESN'T work is to invade a country and tell the people, "We are here to liberate you!" -- when they have done NOTHING to liberate themselves. Where were all the suicide bombers when Saddam was oppressing them? Where were the insurgents planting bombs along the roadside as the evildoer Saddam's convoy passed them by? I guess ol' Saddam was a cruel despot -- but not cruel enough for thousands to risk their necks. "Oh no, Mike, they couldn't do that! Saddam would have had them killed!" Really? You don't think King George had any of the colonial insurgents killed? You don't think Patrick Henry or Tom Paine were afraid? That didn't stop them. When tens of thousands aren't willing to shed their own blood to remove a dictator, that should be the first clue that they aren't going to be willing participants when you decide you're going to do the liberating for them.

       A country can HELP another people overthrow a tyrant (that's what the French did for us in our revolution), but after you help them, you leave. Immediately. The French didn't stay and tell us how to set up our government. They didn't say, "we're not leaving because we want your natural resources." They left us to our own devices and it took us six years before we had an election. And then we had a bloody civil war. That's what happens, and history is full of these examples. The French didn't say, "Oh, we better stay in America, otherwise they're going to kill each other over that slavery issue!"

       The only way a war of liberation has a chance of succeeding is if the oppressed people being liberated have their own citizens behind them -- and a group of Washingtons, Jeffersons, Franklins, Ghandis and Mandellas leading them. Where are these beacons of liberty in Iraq? This is a joke and it's been a joke since the beginning. Yes, the joke's been on us, but with 655,000 Iraqis now dead as a result of our invasion (source: Johns Hopkins University), I guess the cruel joke is on them. At least they've been liberated, permanently.

       So I don't want to hear another word about sending more troops (wake up, America, John McCain is bonkers), or "redeploying" them, or waiting four months to begin the "phase-out." There is only one solution and it is this: Leave. Now. Start tonight. Get out of there as fast as we can. As much as people of good heart and conscience don't want to believe this, as much as it kills us to accept defeat, there is nothing we can do to undo the damage we have done. What's happened has happened. If you were to drive drunk down the road and you killed a child, there would be nothing you could do to bring that child back to life. If you invade and destroy a country, plunging it into a civil war, there isn't much you can do 'til the smoke settles and blood is mopped up. Then maybe you can atone for the atrocity you have committed and help the living come back to a better life.

       The Soviet Union got out of Afghanistan in 36 weeks. They did so and suffered hardly any losses as they left. They realized the mistake they had made and removed their troops. A civil war ensued. The bad guys won. Later, we overthrew the bad guys and everybody lived happily ever after. See! It all works out in the end!

       The responsibility to end this war now falls upon the Democrats. Congress controls the purse strings and the Constitution says only Congress can declare war. Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi now hold the power to put an end to this madness. Failure to do so will bring the wrath of the voters. We aren't kidding around, Democrats, and if you don't believe us, just go ahead and continue this war another month. We will fight you harder than we did the Republicans. The opening page of my website has a photo of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, each made up by a collage of photos of the American soldiers who have died in Bush's War. But it is now about to become the Bush/Democratic Party War unless swift action is taken.

       This is what we demand:

    1. Bring the troops home now. Not six months from now. NOW. Quit looking for a way to win. We can't win. We've lost. Sometimes you lose. This is one of those times. Be brave and admit it.

    2. Apologize to our soldiers and make amends. Tell them we are sorry they were used to fight a war that had NOTHING to do with our national security. We must commit to taking care of them so that they suffer as little as possible. The mentally and physically maimed must get the best care and significant financial compensation. The families of the deceased deserve the biggest apology and they must be taken care of for the rest of their lives.

    3. We must atone for the atrocity we have perpetuated on the people of Iraq. There are few evils worse than waging a war based on a lie, invading another country because you want what they have buried under the ground. Now many more will die. Their blood is on our hands, regardless for whom we voted. If you pay taxes, you have contributed to the three billion dollars a week now being spent to drive Iraq into the hellhole it's become. When the civil war is over, we will have to help rebuild Iraq. We can receive no redemption until we have atoned.

       In closing, there is one final thing I know. We Americans are better than what has been done in our name. A majority of us were upset and angry after 9/11 and we lost our minds. We didn't think straight and we never looked at a map. Because we are kept stupid through our pathetic education system and our lazy media, we knew nothing of history. We didn't know that WE were the ones funding and arming Saddam for many years, including those when he massacred the Kurds. He was our guy. We didn't know what a Sunni or a Shi'ite was, never even heard the words. Eighty percent of our young adults (according to National Geographic) were not able to find Iraq on the map. Our leaders played off our stupidity, manipulated us with lies, and scared us to death.

       But at our core we are a good people. We may be slow learners, but that "Mission Accomplished" banner struck us as odd, and soon we began to ask some questions. Then we began to get smart. By this past November 7th, we got mad and tried to right our wrongs. The majority now know the truth. The majority now feel a deep sadness and guilt and a hope that somehow we can make make it all right again.

       Unfortunately, we can't. So we will accept the consequences of our actions and do our best to be there should the Iraqi people ever dare to seek our help in the future. We ask for their forgiveness.

       We demand the Democrats listen to us and get out of Iraq now.

    Michael Moore


    Winter in Russia
    Shine on, Townsville!
    Research findings on greenhouse
    Water use of energy generation from Adam Dempsey
    George Monbiot on climate change.

    Winter in Russia
    from James Choron


       I came to Russia in November of 1987. One of the first things I "noticed" was that it is somewhat cold here in winter. Being a native Texan, it was cold to me in November and I thought they were just teasing me when people kept saying "not yet..." They weren't. We had a bad winter that year but not as bad as some that came later. I got used to it. I enjoy winter now. But, saying it is "cold in Russia" in the winter is rather like saying "slightly pregnant" or "marginally dead". It gets cold here, brothers and sisters. I've gotten off a train in the city of Novosibirsk on New Year's Eve and stepped into -50 Celcius with a 20 mph wind blowing. Now, that is cold. The chill factor was so low it was unmeasurable and there were public warnings to only be outdoors and unprotected for 15 minutes at most. I repeat, that is COLD. Even the word "cold" loses it's meaning in temperatures like that.

       But... for the last ten years it has been getting warmer and warmer every year and the climate is changing more and more. As I write this, it is the 13th of December and the conditions are simply unbelievable to me and most other people in this country. We have had ten years of the "warmest winter on record" and they've been keeping records here for over 300 years.

       To give you an idea of just how warm it is, it's in the mid-40s Farenheit in the daytime and mid-30s at night. We've had only one very light snow that only dusted the ground and melted off immediately. It is raining every day and has for 23 consecutive days. There is still green grass everywhere and green leaves clinging to most trees. This is DECEMBER in RUSSIA. It is NOT normal. This is the fifth consecutive winter that we have had similar conditions on an escallating scale, lasting a week or so longer each year. Normally this kind of weather is what we get in September and October in the Moscow area and in August and September out east of the Urals in Siberia.

       Global warming is a fact. If anyone doubts it, move here and live for a while. In a land known for its cold (we take a sort of perverse pride in our bad weather and brag about living through particularly cold winters... like the winter of 1991/1992 when we hit -40 C in Moscow and stayed there for over a month in February and March yet...). The pattern is obvious and undeniable. Each winter has gotten warmer and warmer, and noticably so at a much more pronounced difference year by year since 1995. Global Warming is REAL.

       Now some would say that this is a "cycle", but if it is, this cycle is so long that it is not recordable as such in 300 years of records. Even before that, a winter this warm would have been noted since it is extremely unusual and would be of note in the old Imperial records.Even if a cycle is involved, it is obvious that something, most probably the exact things that are most commonly mentioned, is accellerating the process and making it far more pronounced.

       I repeat, Global Warming is REAL. It is a real and dangerous threat to our planet and it is something that must be addressed. To deny this, whether a "cycle" of some kind is involved or not, is simply asking for trouble.


    What Jim hasn't mentioned is that the Gulf stream exists because of the North Polar ice. If/when it stops or moves out to sea, Western Europe will get a climate like Canada.

    Townsville is to be the second solar city

    PV panels destined for 500 roofs in Australia's second Solar City.

       Townsville has been named Australia's second Solar City, with the north Queensland city joining Adelaide in the $75 million federal pilot program. Solar panels will be installed on 500 homes and businesses, along with 2,500 smart meters and 1,700 in-house energy display meters. The Townsville consortium -- made up of Ergon Energy, Townsville City Council, HIG Riverway, Delfin Townsville and the Queensland Government -- will receive up to $15 million in Federal funding and contribute a further $15 million itself.

       "Australia's peak power needs are growing and the investment needed to meet demand will be a staggering $24 billion over the next five years," said head of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Ric Brazzale. "By utilising the sort of technologies and designs offered by Solar Cities, newer and more efficient ways of meeting demand will be demonstrated to be more sustainable -- and economic."

    Australian research shows acceleration in greenhouse gas emissions

    The Associated Press
    November 28, 2006

       The rate at which humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has more than doubled since the 1990s, according to Australian research.

       Findings published by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization also showed that 2005 marked the fourth-consecutive year of increased carbon dioxide emissions.

       "To have four years in a row of above-average carbon dioxide growth is unprecedented," said Paul Fraser, a scientist with the CSIRO's center for marine and atmospheric research, in a statement.

       "The trend over recent years suggests the growth rate is accelerating, signifying that fossil fuels are having an impact on greenhouse gas concentrations in a way we haven't seen in the past," Fraser said. The CSIRO study analyzed a 30-year record of air samples collected at an Australian Bureau of Meteorology observation station on the southern island state of Tasmania.

       CSIRO scientist Mike Raupach said from 2000 to 2005 the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5 percent per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than one percent per year.

       Raupach, who is also co-chairman of the Global Carbon Project, said 7.85 billion tons of carbon passed into the atmosphere last year, compared to 6.67 billion tons in 2000.

       About half of all carbon dioxide emissions remain trapped in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the land and oceans, Raupach said. As emissions rise, so too does the amount of carbon in the air.

       "On our current path, it will be difficult to rein in carbon emissions enough to stabilize the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 450 parts per million," said Raupach.

       The findings are the latest in a string of reports warning that the rate of carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere is increasing at an alarming pace.

       Earlier this month, the World Meteorological Organization reported the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 379.1 parts per million in 2005, more than 35 percent higher than in the late 18th century.

       Raupach and Fraser presented their findings last week at an annual science meeting at Tasmania's Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station.

    Water use of energy generation
    from Adam Dempsey

       Water use can be a significant issue in energy production, particularly in areas where water is scarce, as conventional power plants use large amounts of water for the condensing portion of the thermodynamic cycle. For coal plants, water is also used to clean and process fuel. According to the California Energy Commission (cited in Paul Gipe's WIND ENERGY COMES OF AGE, John Wiley & Sons, 1995), conventional power plants consume the amounts of water in the table (through evaporative loss, not including water that is recaptured and treated for further use).

       Small amounts of water are used to clean wind turbine rotor blades in arid climates (where rainfall does not keep the blades clean). The purpose of blade cleaning is to eliminate dust and insect buildup, which otherwise deforms the shape of the airfoil and degrades performance. Similarly, small amounts of water are used to clean photovoltaic panels.

    Technology gallons/kWh litre/kWh
    Wind 0.001 0.004
    PV 0.030 0.110
    Oil 0.43 1.60
    Coal 0.49 1.90
    Nuclear 0.62 2.30
    Adam Dempsey

       Wind therefore uses less than 1/600 as much water per unit of electricity produced as does nuclear, and approximately 1/500 as much as coal.

    Adam is the coordinator of volunteers for Greenpeace in Melbourne.

    George Monbiot on greenhouse

       Regular columnist for the Guardian, George Monbiot is a powerful and often controversial voice on the environment. On the 30th of October, he discussed the implications of the recent Stern Report.

       "It is a testament to the power of money that Nicholas Stern's report should have swung the argument for drastic action, even before anyone has finished reading it. He appears to have demonstrated what many of us suspected: that it would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it. Useful as this finding is, I hope it doesn't mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds. As Stern reminded us today, there would be a moral imperative to seek to prevent mass death even if the economic case did not stack up."

       George then advanced a plan for achieving the huge changes necessary, without destroying civilisation.

    1. Set targets for greenhouse reduction based on the latest evidence, instead of the out-of date information used by governments.

    2. Work out an 'annual carbon cap' for each person. This reminds me of the wartime rationing of essentials, a very apt parallel. Our lives are more threatened than by any human enemy. George suggests that 40% of a country's carbon dioxide production be allocated like this. A person who has used up the electricity, gas, petrol etc. up to the carbon cap needs to buy carbon credits from someone else.

       The remaining 60% or carbon allocation is auctioned off to business and other service providers.

    3. Enforce strict energy-efficient buildings, including upgrading existing ones. This makes me want to cheer -- I've been saying it for 34 years.

    4. Ban all energy wasting appliances such as incandescent light bulbs.

    5. Replace investment in nuclear with the development of sustainable energy sources. More cheering from me.

    6. Investment in public transport.

    7. All car filling stations to have electric batteries for exchange, making electric cars viable. The batteries can be charged during off peak hours using large remote wind power generation.

    8. Stop upgrading and widening roads, and invest the savings in climate change action.

    9. Stop expanding, and even reduce airport capacity.

    10. Replace superstores with a warehouse-and-delivery system. I have advocated this for many years too. The internet makes it easy.

       George concludes with "Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial. That is to accept that it's happening and that its results will be catastrophic, but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it."

    Ethical matters

    The meaning of cancer, from Petra Henn.
    Help me with a paradox.
    Living with purpose by Wayne Dyer

    The meaning of cancer
    from Petra Henn

    Petra is a dear friend who was dying of cancer a few months ago. Now, she is still frail, but once more can walk a couple of Km, drive a car and live independently. The reason for this miracle is apparent from what she writes:

    Life’s Lessons Learnt

       During my journey over the past few years I was fortunate that life taught me two important lessons. These seem to be contradicting each other, but for me they have equal truth. (Maybe that is another lesson: there is no “either-or”, but always “both-and”, the coexistence of different truths…)

    Lesson One: Life is very precious!

       Life is a gift, and we have to enjoy and treasure every moment of it because you never know how long it will last. I consider myself lucky to have the cancer constantly reminding me of that. I feel very blessed and grateful to live a life surrounded by beautiful people (especially being able to watch my beautiful child grow up) and beautiful nature. Therefore I made a promise to myself that I have to try to be as good a person as I can be and cause the least harm to other beings and Mother Earth.

    Lesson Two: “We are just a speck of dust inside a giant’s eye.”

       This is a line in a song that I keep hearing on my favourite radio station (don’t know band or title). To me it reminds me of the insignificance of the individual. In the bigger picture that we are probably not even able to fully see and understand, but I trust that it is there, me and my “ego” are not important. And I also believe and have experienced (as Buddhism teaches) that nothing stays the same, everything constantly changes. And this makes us all the same; we are all just vibration, energy. So it does not make sense that there is I, Mine, Us and Them, etc. And that is also why it feels right for me to live in a community where we all share the land and the company of each other.

       Those are just a few thoughts that I would like to share, and hope that they can be helpful.

    Love and Peace

       P.S. I would like to add that I am trying my best to remember those lessons, but that I am definitely not successful all the time! I do have grumpy, angry, ungrateful days. It is so easy to slip back into old patterns!

    Help me with a paradox

       Once upon a time, I was a sceptic, and knew that we only have this one life. Here is how I argued:

       What is a candle flame? It is an organisation of matter that happens when you add enough energy to wax with a wick in it. Blow out the candle, and where did the flame go? To the same place as your fist when you open your hand. Consciousness, to me, was merely a more complex example of the same thing.

       I now know better. During recent years, I have come across an increasing amount of evidence that something continues. There are scientific findings that stand up to scrutiny better than the evidence for many of the ‘facts’ we take for granted. There are also the personal stories that people bring to me. I now accept as fact that there is some organisation of energy that exists before birth and continues after death. I now think of death as an awakening from a dream, rather then the stereotypic going to sleep.

       Now, here is the paradox. Before my change of belief, I was quite casual about the taking of life. I have often killed feral animals, as a way of looking after the environment or protecting farm stock. I have killed animals for meat, and of course was happy to get rid of mice and rats, not to mention nuisance insects.

       But now, now that I know that life is only a short chapter in a perhaps infinite saga, I find it more and more distasteful to end it for anyone or anything. Last summer, I must have killed thousands of blowflies that buzzed around my window (I live on a farm). This summer, I shoo them away or put up with the annoyance rather than harm another being, even one as primitive and presumably of low intelligence as a blowfly.

       Can anyone help me to understand this?

    Living with purpose
    by Wayne Dyer

       It seems to me that searching for our purpose is like searching for happiness. There's no way to happiness; happiness is the way. And so it is with living your life on purpose. It's not something you find; it's how you live your life serving others, and bringing purpose to everything you do.

       When you're living your life from purpose, you're dwelling in love. When you're not dwelling in love, you're off purpose. This is true for individuals, institutions, business, and our governments as well.

       When a government gouges its citizens with excessive fees for any service, they're off purpose. When a government pursues violence as a means for resolving disputes, it's off purpose regardless of how it justifies its actions.

       When businesses overcharge, cheat, or manipulate in the name of profit making, they're off purpose.

       When religions permit prejudice and hatred or mistreat their parishioners, they're off purpose. And it's true for you as well.

    Wayne Dyer


    I'm being bullied, and don't want to live
    Depression is killing me.
    Alcohol is the only thing that helps me.

    In the past month, I have received an unusually large number of emails from young people in the grip of suicidal depression. I don't know why the surge, but am concerned. Here are three, with only the names changed.

    I'm being bullied, and don't want to live

       I have got a problem. I hate myself. I have tried to commit suicide many times, and i am being bullied at school. The slightest nasty comment at school can result in me being depressed. I have not told my parents about it, because i know they would be disapointed with me. There are many rumours going round about me. I have talked to my "friends" about my problem. Please help me before i do something stupid.

    Marty,15(UK) 15

    Dear Marty,

       I was the subject of bullying and victimisation several times in my childhood and youth. All three of my children had periods of being bullied at school. All four of us survived, and are living excellent lives now. Stick it out, and you will too.

       Victims almost always feel as if somehow it was their fault. It isn't. It is not shameful to be picked on. I don't know your parents, and I suppose it's possible that they will be disappointed in you, but I don't see why anyone would take that view. If your dad is a champion boxer or something, then he may feel disappointed that you don't follow in his footsteps. But otherwise?

       Your school probably has a counsellor. Go to that person for help. Also, there are many excellent self-help books that you can use.

       Such help is effective. It works because you can engage in a program of improving your self-respect and confidence, so the non-verbal messages you send out are different from the one that has in effect invited the victimisation. This is NOT to say it's your fault, but that you have the power to change the situation and no longer be on the receiving end.

       Another thing that works for boys and girls who are bullied is to learn an Asian martial art. Examples are judo, tai kwan do, kung fu, tai chi, karate. This is not so much for the physical fighting skills, but because these sports involve the philosophy of self-empowerment. I did judo when I was a teenager. Even today, if a bigger, stronger young man looks threatening, I adopt a certain way of thinking -- and he backs off.

       In summary, the real problem is not that kids at school bully you. It is that you hate yourself. If you didn't hate yourself, they'd find someone else to pick on. I don't know you, we'll never meet, but I am sure that if we did, I'd like you and we'd become friends.

       Let me tell you: YOU ARE PERFECT, THE WAY YOU ARE. There are things that you DO that need improvement, but you are not what you do. And you have the power to change what you do.

       Follow up my suggestions, and you can do exactly that, and build a good life for yourself.


    Depression is killing me.

       I saw a response you wrote to "Rachel" on with a link to your e-mail address. I apologize if this is inappropriate to e-mail you, but I was hoping you could offer me some help.

       I'm 25. I've just gone through some big life changes and losses. I've fought with depression most of my life -- as far back as I can remember -- but I've had it under control until about two months ago. I don't have medical insurance or a regular doctor and don't know of any local resources I can use.

       I am severely depressed and have been extrememly suicidal the last few weeks. I know I don't want to die but something keeps telling me there's no other option. Please help in any way you can.

    Thank you,


    Helen my dear,

       I also used to be depressed, probably since five years of age. I have beaten it, and so have many thousands of other people. You can too.


       Depression is a murderous monster. Refuse to believe its lies.

       Think of this. Invariably, people subject to depression believe themselves to be faulty, often in several different ways. But depression affects more than 20% of the population in western countries. Does that mean that one-fifth of us is unlovable and stupid and ugly and useless? No. It means that we raise our kids in such a way that beliefs like that become established in their little heads. Then, when they grow up, environmental events trigger these nasty childhood beliefs, and the result is depression.

       You are not fauly. I am not faulty. Society is faulty for inducing people like us to acquire damaging belief systems.

       I suggest you find a copy of one of the self-help books on depression by Aaron Beck. They describe a method of battling depression that works.

       There are many options other than suicide. Depression puts doom-colored glasses on your eyes. All the bad is magnified and highlighted. All the good is hidden. Anything and everything is distorted so that you feel helpless to do anything. Go to my web site and look up 'First Aid for Depression'. It's a chapter from the book I am writing on the subject, and gives seven practical suggestions for making you strong and resilient, and able to stand up to the lies of Depression.

       I know you can beat this monster.

    Good luck,

    Alcohol is the only thing that helps me.

    Hello. I typed in "I want to kill myself" into a search engine and came up with a site with your email address on it. I don't know if it still works, but I just felt like I needed to talk to someone.

        I was reading the message that the girl Rachael sent you, and maybe thought you could help me. I feel like I am completely miserable and I cannot go on living. It is hard to explain. I see everything and am disqusted by it. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I feel that there is nothing worth living for. I am not one of those depressed goth kids, I am actually quite normal. I dress normal and try to mind my own business. For the past year or so I feel completely depressed and miserable. I don’t know how long I can go on feeling this way. Not long. I am in college right now. I have friends, but I cant stand any of them secretly. I hate everyone and feel that they hate me.

        I feel that every decision I have made in my life is wrong. Literally every decision.

        I usually don’t open up to people like this, but I just cannot go on feeling the way that I do anymore. This is just to much for me. I have been drinking heavily and doing drugs lately, but I know that has only made me feel more worthless. The world is such a horrible place and I cannot go on living in it.

        I did what you suggested, and made a list about what I am happy for and what makes me happy, It was a very short list, and contained mostly booze and alcohol, which I have been doing every night for about 3 weeks.

       Please, I hope this message finds someone, and I hope that they are not just going to try to sell me something or turn me on to god.

    Please help.


    Dear David,

        You may be surprised at how many intelligent, decent young people feel like you. If the problem is this common, it cannot be the fault of the sufferer, but of society. You will find that there are few suicidal young people in the slums of Calcutta. They are too busy staying alive.

        Please go to and read some (suitably disguised) correspondence between me and two other fine young people. I think your concerns will resonate with theirs, and hopefully the answers they found to be helpful may work for you too.

        What I read in your message is that you have two reasons for despair: you've taken on board some very negative beliefs about yourself, and you have no purpose for life, nothing you feel justifies all the trouble you see around you. Am I right?

        I don't know you at all. However, I am willing to bet any amount that if we met I'd like you (unless you were out of your mind on alcohol or some other drug), and would find many good things about you. I am sure your friends have a much higher opinion of you than you have of yourself.

        That says to me that you are in the grip of a particularly nasty monster called Depression. This thing moves in when the sufferer is little, and when awakened, distorts every thought and perception into negatives. The very fact that your list of good things is so small indicates that you are looking through the doom-colored glasses Depression puts in front of you.

        I suffered in this way for over 20 years, but have the monster beaten. You can do it in 2 to 3 months, if you go to a psychologist who uses the proper techniques. Cognitive-behavioral, Interpersonal and Narrative therapies work (others may too, but these are the ones I know about).

        Since you are a student, you probably have free access to a Student Counseling Service. Check them out. Even if you had to pay for it, it'd be the best investment of your life. Something like 4 to 12 sessions of counseling should give you lifetime control over this misery. I have worked with many hundreds of sufferers who have achieved this.

        The second issue, meaninglessness, is also an epidemic in technological societies. If you agree that it applies to you, then read a wonderful book: 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor Frankl.

        My answer to a meaningless world is to put meaning in for myself. This is by being of service to others like you, often with no financial return. But I also earn my living from it. I also edit books for people, and while my clients pay for the improved book, they get teaching in writing craft for free. It is a paradox that the more you give the more you get. The more you grasp at things, the worse off you are.

        Finally, what you are doing with the substance abuse is an attempt at self-medication that is guaranteed to fail. Instead of easing one problem, you are acquiring an additional one. What's more, you know this.

        You are in charge of your life. You have the power to set it on a right path. The first step is to find a destination to aim for. Everything else will follow from that.

        Let me know if this is of help to you.

    All the best,

    For writers

    What's wrong with head hopping?
    The point of good grammar from Patricia Harrison
    Shirley Martin on the use of scenes

    What's wrong with head hopping?

       Most readers, and many beginning writers, are completely unaware of ‘Point Of View’ (POV), and yet it is one of the secrets of powerful, compelling writing.

       You see, everything is from a POV. In fiction, this is usually that of a character in a story. If not, then it’s the author’s.

       A story is magic. We read words on a page or screen, and if the writing is any good, we are transported into a different world. I have just edited a wonderful book in which none of the characters were human. They were dragons or birds or animals. All the same, I found myself identifying with the protagonist, living his life and sharing in his adventures. I don’t have a snout and wings and a long tail, and can’t breathe fire, but this didn’t matter. The writer’s magic gave them to me while I was reading.

       POV is the main tool for achieving this. To enable the reader to achieve an identification with a character, you need to supply information about what it is like to be that person, in that situation. This is not done with explanation and description (which is the author talking to the reader), but by presenting the world through the experiences of the character.

       Of course, this does not mean that the whole book must necessarily be through a single POV. People can get inside the skin of one character, and then construct a new reality as seen through the perceptions of another. However, this takes work. Many things need to be recomputed, at a subconscious level of awareness so that the new reality just is.

       This is the main reason for keeping POV consistent within a scene.

       Have a look at this extract:

       Very cautiously, Jim put his head around the corner. There he was! Hate gripped his heart as he saw Tim standing on a chair, reaching up into the top cupboard.

       Jim gripped his baseball bat harder and sprung into view. “Caught you, thief!” he shouted, but his voice ended in a squeak.

       Tim turned around and started laughing. This little rat was no worry, baseball bat or not. “Come on, then!” he called, and got ready to jump.

       Jim saw him being quite unafraid, but came forward anyway. No lout was going to get away with stealing from his family!

       With just a little concentration, we can work out which thought belongs to whom. All the same, this is extra work that distracts from the story. What’s more, by being in both heads, we are in neither. I cannot BE little Jim if I am also Tim, and vice versa. The illusion is spoiled. That’s why this way of writing, called ‘head hopping’, is to be avoided.

       This mistake can be more subtle:

       With a wanting expression on her face, she whined, “I hate to drink alone. You seem like a nice friendly guy, why don’t you join me?” She sized him up, and couldn’t help but be attracted to him with his easy carefree smile that would put any woman at ease.

       The first sentence shows this woman from the outside, as someone else will react to her. The second sentence reports her thoughts. It’s not so much that the writer hopped from one head to the other. Rather, there is no awareness in the writing of the uses of POV.

       So, the trick is to pick a witness. Introduce this person by name in the first sentence of a scene, and include some inner experience –- thought, feeling, emotion, perception, memory. Then, present everything from this witness’s POV. If desirable, you can switch to another person, but then signal the change in the same way, and stay with the new witness long enough for the reader to become immersed in the character’s inner world.

    The point of good grammar
    from Patricia Harrison

    From time to time, writers' email lists get contributions dismissing the need for the old-fashioned values of paying attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, the meanings of words. Here is a response from someone I agree with:

       Suppose Jane Doe, a lifelong reader, decides to try an e-book. If she finds it full of errors, no matter what the story, she may not try another. We lose a customer; perhaps more than one if she tells her friends how inferior e-books are.

       I agree with those who believe good grammar and clear concise language with correct punctuation is vital for authors who wish to be taken seriously.

       Unlikely to happen, you say?

       Let me tell you of an e-book I just finished. There were punctuation and grammatical faults, particularly with 'I' and 'me', 'lie' and 'lay', and verb tenses. Most appalling were the many incorrect homonyms--horde (hoard), broach (brooch), piece (peace), forth (fourth), discrete (discreet) and many more. Oh, yes, and 'compliment' instead of 'complement'. The errors distracted me from the story, and injected humor where none was intended.

       (Yes, print books have errors too, but we're concerned with our product: e-books.)

       Now, most editors are lovely persons with hawk eyes and nerves of steel, but we cannot depend entirely on them. The author must shoulder the responsibility to send in a manuscript that is as near perfect as possible, and I know most of us do.

       If in doubt, look up one of the many good, simple-to-understand books on grammar. Use a dictionary or a good thesaurus (not one that equates 'anxious' with 'eager'), and don't depend on Spellcheck.

       English is a beautiful language, full of nuances, power, crazy spellings and rules. As it changes and develops, let's hope it is always for the better, and not for impoverishment.

    Thanks for letting me rant. ^_^

    Shirley Martin on the use of scenes

       A scene is a unit of action within a chapter. By action, we don't necessarily mean a gun fight or a battle, although it can be either. But something has to happen within a scene. It has to affect an outcome that changes the thrust of your story. At the end of a scene, something has to be different than it was at the beginning. The scene must deal with either goal, motivation, or conflict. It can deal with all three, but it must affect one of these components. Besides that, a scene should have at least two other reasons for inclusion in a chapter. These reasons can be to introduce a new character, a crucial fight or battle, comic relief, a love scene that changes the hero's feelings for the heroine or vice versa. There are many other reasons for scenes. You need use only your imagination to think of them.

       You can't have two people discussing the weather unless the weather influences the plot. If the characters are discussing the weather, there must be a reason. They are planning a crucial night mission and need dark clouds and no moonlight. Nor can you have two people driving around admiring the scenery, a scene such as I read in a critique group. You might have a character pointing out the mountains and telling the other that those mountains hold many caves, "a good place for stashing our supplies."

       A chapter can be just one scene or more than one. Please don't make the same mistake as I did with my first couple books and have many short scenes. You should never pad a scene, but at the same time, it should have enough substance to it that extends it for more than just one or two paragraphs.

       Occasionally you will see one short scene within a chapter, and that's fine if it accomplishes some purpose. But avoid, as much as possible, many short scenes.

       By the same token, a chapter can have as many scenes as the author considers necessary to get his points across.

       When writing a chapter, at the beginning of each, make a list of what you want the reader to know. Most likely, this list will lend itself to scenes, and you can build your chapter from that.

    Shirley Martin is a multipublished author who began writing historical romances, then branched out to paranormal and fantasy romances. Besides writing, she enjoys reading and going for long walks. She has three grown sons and lives in Miami Shores, Florida, with her two cats. Check out her romances at her website,

    What my friends want you to know

    What Authors Don't Know about Contests Can Hurt Them
    More memoirs from Darrell Bain
    Kathe's third story at Amazon
    Footprints in the snow by James Choron

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

       To promote better, authors need to know the ups and downs, ins and outs of contests, not just the same old, same old. Here's everything a writer needs to know from sponsoring a contest of her own to how to use contests to improve her writing. Yep, they can be used for that and more!

    Contest Facts:
    How to Add Award-winning to Your Name

    Instructors/producers and moderators are:
    Allyn Evans
    Joyce Faulkner
    Kathe Gogolewski
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Published by Double Dragon Press:
    Our Price: $9.99 USD

    SALE PRICE: $8.49

    Genre: Self Help - Non-Fiction
    Audio Duration: 60 Minutes
    Published: November 2006

    Go to:

    Darrell Bain


    Darrell Bain
    Author of The Melanin Apocalypse, Savage Survival, Alien Infection, Strange Valley, Doggie Biscuit!, Medics Wild!, Hotline To Heaven, The Pet Plague, The Disappearing Girls, Life On Santa Claus Lane, and others. See all my books at

    Kathe Gogolewski

       TRI Studio LLC announces the release of another story by Kathe Gogolewski from Amazon Shorts. The latest, Pony Palace for children aged 8 to 13, is the third release from Amazon for the author. The other stories, The Gold Coin and Weighing In, are both for adults.

       Started in August, 2005, Amazon Shorts features 800 short stories by new and well-known authors alike for 49 cents each. The website boasts previously unpublished short story literature for sale exclusively at, and has expanded to include some of today's "freshest literary voices".

       Gogolewski, a retired elementary teacher, says she wrote Pony Palace to "inspire children to work toward something they want, instead of begging for it!" Ray Grant of TRI Studio says, "Children will be able to relate to the main character, a nine-year-old girl named Mikaela, who wants a pony. The humor will capture the attention of both boys and girls as they laugh at her overactive imagination and wonder what she will do next. In the end, their heroine makes all the right choices and creates an ingenious plan to work for what she wants. The ten page story may be printed and given to your favorite young reader." Amazon link.

       Weighing In and The Gold Coin have both been best sellers at Amazon. Weighing In is a dry look at weight gain as an overweight woman discovers herself in a fat-obsessed world. The Gold Coin is a true story about an inspiring dream that the author's father experienced before he passed away.

    James Choron

    Footprints in the Snow: True Accounts of Paranormal Russia
    Published by Zumaya Books.

    Jim is one of the most regular contributors to 'bobbing around'. At last, his book is being released. Here is its introduction:

       Nineteen years is a long time to spend in Russia, far longer than most of the “foreigners” here in Moscow, longer than any of the other “outlanders” in our little village of Mamontovka, one of Moscow’s many suburbs. In that time, I’ve learned a lot, especially about the Paranormal.

       I am a reporter, a “professional skeptic”. I do not “see ghosts” behind every tree. I have heard literally hundreds of stories concerning “hauntings” and “sightings”. Statistically, over ninety-six per-cent have turned out to be quite natural in origin. There are exceptions.

       The stories that you are about to read have all been thoroughly investigated and documented. These are not the “high profile” cases that you hear about all the time. Most of them are little known outside their immediate area and by the people immediately involved. You will not find “Ivan the Terrible” or “The lost Princess Anastasia” in these pages. Those cases have been treated frequently enough already. What you will find are some documented and verifiable accounts of paranormal activity in this country that have, so far, defied any “rational” or “normal” explanation. I trust that you will also find this to be interesting and informative reading. Hopefully, it will also be entertaining. I simply state that these are true reports of actual happenings. I leave it to the reader to decide the cause of these “footprints in the snow.”

    Thank you,
    James L. Choron

    Book Reviews

    The Centurion by Alex Domokos and Rita Y. Toews
    Rarity From the Hollow by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Evelyn Somers

    The Centurion
    by Alex Domokos and Rita Y. Toews

    Hard Shell Word Factory
    ISBN: 0-7599-4243-9

       The times of Jesus have always had a fascination for people. Like today, they were turbulent, troubled and ominous. The Centurion does an excellent job of bringing them to life through the beliefs and activities of very realistic people, some Romans, others Hebrews.

       The Centurion of the title is Marco, a freedman who has to join the Army because he had been used as a tool in some political intrigue, and it's the Legions or being killed in the Circus. He leaves behind his love, and unknown to himself, a son.

       His moving story is the device for presenting the events that changed the world.

       The book is based on impeccable research. The times, traditions and values of Rome are brought to life. The people, their motivations, joys and fears are genuine. You can learn more about Rome from this novel than from a library full of dry history books.

       Perhaps the most attractive aspect of this book is the language: it's very easy reading.

       PS: Just announced: The Centurion is a finalist in the 'Historical and Western' category of the EPPIE awards.

    'Rarity From the Hollow' by Robert Eggleton
    reviewed by Evelyn Somers

    Robert sent me this review, but I almost refused to include it. This is not because of anything wrong with the book, but because the review was over 800 words, 500 of which were a chatty story about the reviewer's adventures before she got to reading it. Out of fairness to Robert -- after all, it's not his fault -- I cut out the irrelevancies. This is what Ms Somers actually says about Rarity from the Hollow:

       ...He sent me the whole thing. I read portions of the book, which is subtitled “A Lacy Dawn Adventure,” after the girl protagonist, Lacy Dawn. I liked Lacy, who lives in a world of poverty, classmates with precocious sexual knowledge and/or experience, unemployed men, worn-down women and cruelty so casual that it’s more knee-jerk than intentional.

       Robert is a social worker who has spent at least a portion of his career working with child-abuse victims in Appalachia. The book was partly about that, and mostly very strange.

       In the Hollow, Lacy takes up with an android named DotCom, from “out of state”, which really means out of this world. Under DotCom’s wing, she decides that she will “save” her family. Little does she know she will end up saving the universe. Robert was donating the proceeds from sales to help child-abuse victims.

       Robert is not a kid; he’s maybe my age, maybe older. This wasn’t about youthful ambition, vanity and reputation. It was about some kind of personal calling. I believe in those. I also believe in people who are driven to get their writing out there to an audience, through whatever venue. The e-book idea intrigued me.

       So I’m belatedly giving Rarity From the Hollow a plug. Among its strengths are an ultra-convincing depiction of the lives, especially the inner lives, of the Appalachian protagonists. The grim details of their existence are delivered with such flat understatement that at times they almost become comic. And just when you think enough is enough, this world is just too ugly, Lacy's father (who is being “fixed” with DotCom’s help) gets a job and Lacy, her mother and her dog take off for a trip to the mall “out of state” with Lacy's android friend, now her “fiancé” (though as Lacy's mother points out, he doesn’t have any private parts, not even “a bump”). In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.

       Rarity is published by FatCat Press, which has other e-books for sale as well. You can find it at Robert Eggleton’s book deserves your attention. Check it out.

    About Bobbing Around

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

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

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

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

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

    Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

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