Bobbing Around

Volume Six, Number Five
February, 2007

Bob Rich's rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  A call to remember, from Jim Choron
  Exxon funds lies campaign.
  A letter to George Bush, from Michael Moore.
  Brandon Wilson on peace.
  A nuclear rebuttal, by John Hill and Jo Wynter.
  Don't be a nuclear fool! An important invitation.
*Deeper questions
  'Why God leaves us alone' by Deepak Chopra.
  Consciousness in the vegetative state.
  19 thoughts from Radenko Fanuka.
*Helping others
  Sisters not lovers.
  Carolyn Harris on helping people.
  Sleep and depression
*For writers
  About e-books again.
*Responses to the previous issue
  Tim Rowe to Patricia Harrison.
  Chris Hoare on the environment.
  Jane Toombs on stuff in general.
  Carl Stonier on Michael Moore, and on my paradox.
Do look at this...
  Announcing the Noble Prize.
  Carolyn Howard-Johnson & Magdalena Ball.
  Last two installments of Darrell Bain's memoirs.
  Lyda Phillips wins several awards.
  Two new books by Jennifer DiCamillo.
  Woodworking for Idiots Like Me reviewed by Ron Peters.
  From the Darkness Risen by Jessica Jewett, reviewed by Jim Choron
  Rural Sprawl by Ann Grobo, reviewed by Eugen Bacon.
  Behind the Mask: a movie review by Jim Choron.

   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.

The Noble (NOT the Nobel) Prize

   My biography, Anikó: The stranger who loved me has been selected as one of the winners of last year's Noble Prize. Each year, Carolyn Howard-Johnson reads many books, and selects some as being unusually powerful in their contribution. I feel humble and honored that she has chosen the story of my mother.

   This is now the third award this book has won. To celebrate, readers of 'bobbing around' can buy a copy at a substantial discount. Until the 15th of March, 2007, the electronic version of this book is available to you for $US3.75 (or $Au5). Australians can order the paperback version for $20 instead of 24 (plus postage). If you want to take advantage of this offer, DO NOT CLICK THE PAYPAL LOGO ON THE WEB PAGE but email me. Naturally, as with all purchases of my books, you qualify for a second e-book, free.

LiFE Award: Literature for environment

LiFE Award logoI am delighted to announce that the LiFE Award has TWO new recipients:

  • Hurtling to Oblivion by Dave Field.

       "‘Hurtling to Oblivion’ was written once I realised that working as an environmental officer for the Northern Territory Government was a waste of time and public resources. Fact is, governments all over the world are motivated by political interests, not environmental ones. I decided the way to make my mark on environmental protection was to educate the people. The best way to educate is to tell an interesting story couched in fact. The story is a microcosm involving three protagonists—the government, the people and the environment. My intent was to interest, entertain and arouse the reader to the real issues."

  • The Genesis Enigma by Jim Sampson.

       "This philosophical thriller demonstrates that humanity and indeed our planet is facing environmental ruin that can be traced back to the psyche of humanity itself. It is one thing to fix the direct problems before us of fossil fuel consumption and contamination of our atmosphere, but it is another to fix the human psyche itself; so bent on destroying our planet and everything else on it. This exciting story clearly demonstrates a definite link between environmental degradation and human violence, greed, over-population, religious and racial paranoia and economic and ecological vandalism, and concludes that a commitment has to be made now by all of humanity to avoid planet earth’s environmental collapse."

       All the recipients of this Award deserve your support. At the least, check them out.

       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.

  • Politics

    A call to remember from Jim Choron
    Exxon funds lies campaign
    A letter to the President from Michael Moore
    Brandon Wilson on peace

    A call to remember


       It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. And yet, in spite of documentable proof and the bitter example of the lives of those who survive, there are still those who deny that the Holocaust took place. It is a growing number -- a number which is more vocal and more virulent every day. Each day we hear of trials being conducted in different countries for those who deny this horror. Yet the voices of these liars and distorters of the truth grow more and more numerous as time passes and as those who have survived this Hell on Earth become fewer and fewer. As those who lived to tell the horrendous tale leave us, it is up to us -- those who know the truth --to perpetuate the memory of those who died, those who survived, and to tell the tale of their ordeal to future generations. It is the story of one of the worst tragedies of human history. It is the story of one of the most horrendous episodes that ever took place in the history of the human race.

       This is something that affects us all. The Holocaust was far more and far more deadly and took the lives of far more than the mere "6 million" usually cited. It was the systematic extermination by torture and privation of over 32,267,000 other innocent people. That is over 38 million people and this does not include deaths in combat by those fighting to end this barbarous crime against all of humanity.

       This e-mail is being sent as a memorial in memory of the 24.5 million Russians, 10 million Christians of all persuasions, 6 million Jews, 1 million Masons, 100,000 Gypsies, 20,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, 500,000 mentally and physically disabled, 250,000 homosexuals, 5,000 Seventh Day Adventists and 1900 Catholic priests and nuns who were murdered, tortured, massacred, raped, burned, starved, subjected to "medical experiments" and humiliated. Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

       In the name of over 42 million people who can no longer speak for themselves, this e-mail is intended to reach another 42 million people, who do have a voice, worldwide! Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world. Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain. Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along...

       There is an old Russian proverb that says, "The only true form of immortality that any of us are guaranteed of is the amount of time that we live on in the hearts, minds and memories of those who love us and hold us dear." The souls of more than 42 million innocent people cry up to us from the grave. Their blood cries up to us from the ground.

       Always remember. Never forget. "Those who do not learn from the lessons of the past are damned to repeat them." Is the legacy of murder on an unprecedented scale the legacy that we wish to leave to our children and our children's children? Can we live with the notion that those who follow in our footsteps could face yet another such horrendous calamity?

       Weider Nicht! Ne Zabite! Nekogda! Never Forget!

    Thank you,
    Jim Choron

    Exxon funds lies campaign


       Exxon "gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming," a new Union of Concerned Scientists report finds. The company, according to the report, "has adopted the tobacco industry's misinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue."

       Harvard professor Dr. James McCarthy said Exxon has tried to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming. A few of the other tactics the oil giant used are listed in the report: "funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contraries who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings; attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for 'sound science' rather than business self-interest; used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming." "A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years," said Aden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' Director of Strategy and Policy.

    A letter to the President
    from Michael Moore


    Dear Mr. President,

       Thanks for your address to the nation. It's good to know you still want to talk to us after how we behaved in November.

       Listen, can I be frank? Sending in 20,000 more troops just ain't gonna do the job. That will only bring the troop level back up to what it was last year. And we were losing the war last year! We've already had over a million troops serve some time in Iraq since 2003. Another few thousand is simply not enough to find those weapons of mass destruction! Er, I mean... bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice! Um, scratch that. Try this -- BRING DEMOCRACY TO THE MIDDLE EAST! YES!!!

       You've got to show some courage, dude! You've got to win this one! C'mon, you got Saddam! You hung 'im high! I loved watching the video of that -- just like the old wild west! The bad guy wore black! The hangmen were as crazy as the hangee! Lynch mobs rule!!!

       Look, I have to admit I feel very sorry for the predicament you're in. As Ricky Bobby said, "If you're not first, you're last." And you being humiliated in front of the whole world does NONE of us Americans any good.

       Sir, listen to me. You have to send in MILLIONS of troops to Iraq, not thousands! The only way to lick this thing now is to flood Iraq with millions of us! I know that you're out of combat-ready soldiers -- so you have to look elsewhere! The only way you are going to beat a nation of 27 million -- Iraq -- is to send in at least 28 million! Here's how it would work:

       The first 27 million Americans go in and kill one Iraqi each. That will quickly take care of any insurgency. The other one million of us will stay and rebuild the country. Simple.

       Now, I know you're saying, where will I find 28 million Americans to go to Iraq? Here are some suggestions:

    1. More than 62,000,000 Americans voted for you in the last election (the one that took place a year and half into a war we already knew we were losing). I am confident that at least a third of them would want to put their body where there vote was and sign up to volunteer. I know many of these people and, while we may disagree politically, I know that they don't believe someone else should have to go and fight their fight for them -- while they hide here in America.

    2. Start a "Kill an Iraqi" Meet-Up group in cities across the country. I know this idea is so early-21st century, but I once went to a Lou Dobbs Meet-Up and, I swear, some of the best ideas happen after the third mojito. I'm sure you'll get another five million or so enlistees from this effort.

    3. Send over all members of the mainstream media. After all, they were your collaborators in bringing us this war -- and many of them are already trained from having been "embedded!" If that doesn't bring the total to 28 million, then draft all viewers of the FOX News channel.

       Mr. Bush, do not give up! Now is not the time to pull your punch! Don't be a weenie by sending in a few over-tired troops. Get your people behind you and YOU lead them in like a true commander in chief! Leave no conservative behind! Full speed ahead!

       We promise to write. Go get 'em W!


    Brandon Wilson on peace

       Someone once said that the definition of insanity is to do the same stupid thing over and over again--and expect different results. Sound familiar?

       President Bush's proposed troop escalation in Iraq ignores the advice of key advisers, career military officers, and the clear will of the American people. Rather than sending more troops to Iraq, the U.S. needs to engage in regional diplomacy and prepare for a transition to Iraqi control of the country’s security.

       More than 25,000 U.S. troops have been killed or injured in this war and as many as 600,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the invasion. As someone who just recently returned from a 2700-mile walk for peace from France to Israel, people asked me almost daily why we continue our ill-fated policies in the Middle East? "Why aren't Americans outraged and protesting in the streets like those across Europe and the Middle East? What country is next? Iran? Syria?"

       Although there is mounting anti-American sentiment (even by many members from our "coalition of the willing"), many folks made it clear to me by their random acts of kindness they don't hate all Americans, just those who profit from war--or attempt to bring democracy by bombing them back to the Stone Age.

       I tried to assure them that elections were right around the corner and that a majority of the American people now wants to see our brave soldiers brought home. "Just hold on," I said, and changes will be made. Well, now is our chance. Now is our time to reclaim America and the principles that once made us the envy of the world.

       I join with others who cherish democracy AND peace in calling for our government to bring our young boys and girls home now. Support an Iraqi-led reconstruction. And, most of all, assure the American and Iraqi people that there will be no permanent U.S. bases on Iraqi soil. Permanent peace in Iraq will come by investing in reconstruction and diplomacy, not in a war whose costs are already too high.

       As Howard Zinn once said, "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." I say, "Together, let us wage peace."

    Brandon Wilson, author of the new DEAD MEN DON'T LEAVE TIPS: Adventures X Africa and the IPPY award-winning YAK BUTTER BLUES: A Tibetan Trek of Faith

       "Fascinating, informative, humorous, poignant, surprising, Dead Men Don't Leave Tips is a terrific read from first page to last...a popular addition to any personal or community library travel section." (5 stars) Midwest Book Review.

       Visit them at:


    A nuclear rebuttal by John Hill and Jo Wynter
    Don't be a nuclear fool! An invitation for 1st April, 2007

    A nuclear rebuttal

       I have the permission to reproduce an excellent document from John Hill and Jo Wynter. In this, they demolish a draft report released by the Australian government enquiry into the feasibility of nuclear power. This is important reading, because it addresses many of the misleading and downright false arguments that are accepted even by many environmentalists.

       The paper is way too long to reproduce in 'bobbing around', so I have posted it in its own right at Since the same considerations apply everywhere, this is worth reading, wherever you live.

    Greetings from the Palm Sunday Alliance in Melbourne

       A Melbourne meeting brainstormed how peace, faith, union, environment, social justice and medical groups could organize around Palm Sunday (April Fools’ Day in 2007), to have some serious fun while sending some serious peace and anti-nuclear messages to politicians.


  • Drafted demands with positive alternatives, not just no, no, no.
  • Drafted a poster and flier, still open to suggestions.
  • Brainstormed about the large variety of themes, events and ideas that could be developed by other groups around Australia (see below).
  • Agreed that a fun, comedy filled event that plays on the April Fools’ theme will be attractive to those recently disempowered or turned off demonstrating, while serious enough on the substantive peace and nuclear issues to make a political impact.
  • Decided to establish a website to advertise all Palm Sunday events and activities around the country.
  • Decided to organise a large public meeting in February on the issues.

       So far the following groups have endorsed Palm Sunday events:

  • Medical Association for the Prevention of War
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Australian Conservation Foundation
  • Environment Centre of the Northern Territory
  • Peace Organisation of Australia
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  • Australian Student Environment Network
  • Nuclear Disarmament Party
  • Global Climate Change Action
  • Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific
  • Socialist Alliance
  • Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace (CCJP)
  • Alice Action
  • Arid Lands Environment Centre
  • Greenpeace
  • Nuclear Free Australia
  • Stop the War Coalition

    Demands: Don't be a Nuclear Fool:

  • Stop nuclear power in Australia: Renewables not reactors!
  • Stop uranium mining: Leave it in the ground!
  • Stop nuclear weapons: Close the US nuclear umbrella!
  • Stop nuclear waste: No waste dump in Australia!

    Stop the Nuclear Fool Cycle!

       In Melbourne the Palm Sunday Alliance has so far decided to:

  • Organize a fun and upbeat Peace Parade and Festival
  • Start from Treasury Gardens where we will fly kites in the park and form a human peace symbol for an aerial photograph
  • Parade through the city to Federation Square for comedy and entertainment
  • Encourage people to dress up and make props, signs and bike extensions around the peace and Nuclear Fool theme
  • Invite Leunig to do the design for the poster, which could be used nationwide if space was left for folks to fill in city/town specific details
  • Invite Critical Mass and Bicycle Victoria to increase the cyclists pedalling us out of the Nuclear Fool Cycle
  • Invite comedians in the Melbourne Comedy Festival (which starts only days after Palm Sunday
  • Invite schools to include lessons about peace and sustainability in their teaching, including paper crane and kite making for flying on Palm Sunday
  • Invite faith based groups to participate on the day
  • Enter the Moomba Birdwo/man Rally in March with a contraption that advertises Palm Sunday and peace

    Other ideas for themes and actions for anywhere:

  • The Fool on the Hill: might be a good theme for Canberra groups, or general reference to Johnny Howard
  • Get a sign on letter and publish it in the papers
  • Ensure that the voices of atomic victims and survivors are heard
  • Clearly advertise a dress up theme, as clowns/fools
  • Hold a Yellow Cake competition
  • Drop a hypothetical bomb in a popular place – show the impact, visually, with markers & symbols
  • Project images and slogans onto night time surfaces/buildings of major cities
  • Stage some kind of mock nuclear waste spill at a busy location
  • Ask the remaining members of Midnight Oil to perform, plus other bands
  • Use as many comedians as possible
  • Get the local Mayor for Peace, or soon to be Mayor for Peace involved
  • Invite Tim Costello to participate
  • Use candles
  • Use donkeys (from palm Sunday church services), and tractors and horses where they have em
  • Invite church goers to bring their palms and use them in the day
  • Get Peace Boats on the river
  • Let off balloons with information about radiation traveling in the wind, asking folks to call in to register where they found balloon
  • Have family friendly kid activities like picnic, kite flying, crane making/hanging in addition to rally speakers
  • Not use the word rally, but parade or festival
  • Invite politicians along to question them about their views on nuclear issues
  • Do actions outside ALP MP offices before the day
  • Get a national sign on letter to give to an ALP official to register unity of the NGOs
  • Invite veterans, the RSL to participate and the victims of the Maralinga nuclear tests to speak –- ensure these victims of nuclear weapons are visible and remembered 50 years after the British fenced off an area the size of England and then blew up 7 bombs and contaminated an area the size of London for 250,000 years
  • Table a Senate motion urging the government to support our efforts in promoting a nuclear-free Australia
  • Get Channel 7’s Sunrise program on board

    Felicity Hill Campaign Coordinator ICAN -- International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons Medical Association for Prevention of War

    Phone: + 61 38344 1637 Fax: + 61 38344 1638 Mobile: + 61 43239 8261

    Skype address: icanflick

    Postal Address: MAPW, P O Box 1379, Carlton, Vic 3053, Australia
    Visiting Address: MAPW Alan Gilbert Building, 2nd Floor, 161 Barry Street, Carlton, Vic 3053

    Listen to 3CR 855 AM every Friday morning at 7.45 for an ICAN update! Streaming via

    Deeper questions

    Why God leaves us alone
    Consciousness in the vegetative state
    19 thoughts from Radenko Fanuka

    Why God leaves us alone
    by Deepak Chopra

       The U.S. president and other born-again Christians refer to God's helping hand in making war in the Middle East. Our Western society couldn't be more different from traditional Muslim society, but we have one thing in common: People in both places believe God is on their side. This means they know what God thinks: remarkable assumption.

       People continue to be nagged by ancient documents called scriptures that claim to transmit what God exactly wants. The great Indian poet Kabir had read all the scriptures, bathed in all the sacred pools, visited all the holy shrines, and found God in none of them. Most people would consider that a sign of despair when in fact it's the key to freedom. In Vedanta, the purest spiritual doctrine of Hindu India, God doesn't want anything of us. He doesn't want to be found; he has no laws that we should obey; he never judges, punishes or puts forth expectations.

       The truth is that God left us alone a long time ago. This wasn't an act of abuse or abandonment, but an opportunity to find our own freedom, and in that freedom to realize something simple yet profound: God is existence itself. Existence isn't an empty vessel. It contains life and death. It harbours the Self, a form of consciousness that can embrace its own existence and create its own stage for evolution. If we go deep enough into Being, leaving aside all the objects that surround us and mask Being from our eyes, we find that Being is eternal and contains the seed of every created thing. All that exists is only a reflection of the Self, and all worlds fall into three categories:

    1. Consciousness reflected in material objects and events

    2. Consciousness reflected in more abstract objects and events

    3. Consciousness reflecting upon itself

       Trees, mountains and clouds belong in the first category. Dreams, ideals and aspirations belong in the second. The Self belongs in the third.

       Every cause, ideal, spiritual movement or soul teaching is about answering the question: Who am I? Fundamentalists of every stripe want this question answered once and for all by an unquestioned authority. They may quell doubt for a while, but I am fond of Thomas Merton's words: "The search for God consists of arriving at a place and discovering that God has just left." Which is as it should be. The essence of human nature is to reach beyond what we already know about ourselves.

       At this moment we are faced with ferment and potential chaos as outmoded religious beliefs struggle to prove that they are as strong as ever. Psychiatry professor Susan Smalley says that no one can "let go" of any belief until the void it would leave behind is filled. Those who have already "let go" of God aren't necessarily better off than fundamentalists. They too have a void to fill.

       God won't leave us alone as long as human beings feel afraid and lonely. God might evolve--so one hopes--into something other than a white-bearded authority figure with a taste for vengeance. In moderate denominations that happened a long, long time ago. But somehow we couldn't handle a nicer God. Millions feel too hollow and afraid, angry and attacked, lonely and disconnected to believe in a benign divinity. This phenomenon is called alienation. It was well diagnosed by Marx and Freud, who pointed out that the human psyche suffers terribly when people are yanked out of a connection with Nature, when traditions stop being a safety net, when dislocation and insecurity are the daily norm.

       The reason 87 percent of North Americans tell pollsters they never had a doubt about the existence of God isn't rock-ribbed faith. It's fear of the alternative, a cosmos dominated by the void left by an absent God. Whatever our beliefs may be, we all have to fill that void. It would be an act of good faith if the Religious Right could concede that we're all in this together. It would be an equal act of faith if the enemies of the Religious Right made the same concession. Spirituality would then move forward, and on a global basis we could continue to unite heaven and Earth, first in our minds, then in every place our minds inhabit.

       Judging by grassroots activity, the following trends will continue to shape spiritual life:

  • Meditation will become mainstream.
  • Elements of the miraculous and paranormal will be widely acknowledged.
  • Alternative forms of healing, both physical and psychological, will become commonplace.
  • Prayer will be seen as real and efficacious.
  • Manifestation of desires will be talked about as a real phenomenon.
  • People will regain a connection to their souls.
  • Individuals will find answers inwardly to their deepest spiritual questions
  • They will believe in their private answers and live accordingly.
  • New communities of belief will arise.
  • Gurus and other spiritual authorities will wane in influence.
  • Wisdom traditions will grow to embrace the great spiritual teachings at the heart of organized religion.
  • Faith will no longer be seen as an irrational departure from reason and science.
  • Wars will decline as peace becomes a social reality.
  • Nature will regain its sacred value.

       Millions already embody these trends in their own lives. They abide by the values of the new spirituality. Events may mask this widespread revolution in spiritual values, but outward events have always been a poor guide to what is happening at the soul level.

    Taken with permission from Resurgence magazine (Nov/Dec. 2006), a unique British magazine that explores the common ground where activism, spirituality, science and art cross paths.

    Deepak Chopra is a physician and the author of many books, most recently Grow Younger, Live Longer. He was born in India, but has lived in the United States for many years, where he taught at the Tufts University and Boston University schools of medicine.

    Consciousness in the vegetative state

       When I worked as a nurse, one of my regular work partners was a man who’d spent six months in a coma after a terrible motor cycle accident. When he healed, he said thank you by training as a nurse.

       Not surprisingly, he was particularly good with people others looked on as “living vegetables”. He used to talk to them the way he talked to everybody, although of course they never answered.

       He told me, “When I was lying there, just a dead body kept going by a ventillator, people used to talk over me. I won’t say I remember all of it, but I sure remember a lot.”

       Few people would believe him, but I did. Now there is scientific evidence to back him up, a paper in Science Vol. 313. no. 5792, p. 1402: “Detecting Awareness in the Vegetative State” by Owen et. al.

       Their précis states, “We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate preserved conscious awareness in a patient fulfilling the criteria for a diagnosis of vegetative state. When asked to imagine playing tennis or moving around her home, the patient activated predicted cortical areas in a manner indistinguishable from that of healthy volunteers.”

       Think about it. You can have a body that is dead, for all intents and purposes. You cannot speak, have no swallowing reflex so you are fed through a tube into your stomach, there is not a voluntary muscle you can move. All the same, as long as the blood supply to your brain is maintained, you’re still aware at some very real level.

       Our body is made of matter. Matter is an organisation of energy. But then, information is an organisation of energy too. For example, a computer program may be a pattern of magnetism in one storage device, a pattern of dots on another. When put into a suitable state, it “comes to life” and does its thing. But it’s the same program, regardless of the medium that carries it.

       I think that life is like that too. There is a Something, that is not matter but another form of energy, with its own laws. It is not “nothing but matter in a complex organisation,” but something else, something extra. At the same time, it is not something supernatural. Its existence is no more and no less mysterious than the existence of matter.

       If the computer is shut down or crashes, the program stops working, but all the same, it exists independently of the machine that allows it to work. Do you think the same is true of consciousness, soul, call it what you will?

    19 thoughts from Radenko Fanuka

       God is good, because no matter how rich or beautiful I may be, he is still my best friend. Short, quick thoughts, such as this one, have had a long, and sometimes, an everlasting influence on my life. I, therefore, decided to share some of them with you, so I sat down and started scribbling them on paper, one by one, as they popped into my mind. Before I knew it, I had approximately five hundred of these potent thoughts, or seeds, as I call them.

        I am presently introducing nineteen of my SEEDS to you, and since I found them to be with me daily, causing a profound effect on my life, I named them, FOOD FOR THOUGHT -– MY SEEDS of WISDOM. With God’s help, and perhaps yours as well, they will be compiled into a book and published. That would truly be an answer to my long awaited prayer.

       For me, there is no better or healthier form of entertainment than the power of THINKING

  • Father almighty, what cannot be the truth?
  • 2006’s life, health and its future days will ask us, NOT where were we, but WHERE ARE WE GOING
  • Health must daily enter through the kitchen doorstep.
  • Education that lacks nature’s interference is the same as the child who has no parents.
  • No matter what it is that we are learning, we DO learn, and WE WILL make use of it.
  • If we were to conduct a study and have expectations of its positive, beneficial results, then we must rely on NATURE’S BALANCE as our stepping stone.
  • If GOD doesn’t exist, IF doesn’t exist.
  • What could happen to this world, if LIE did not exist? It will not happen!
  • I love to be criticized. That’s the time when I see you clearly, without my glasses.
  • “Money talks.” That’s very true. If you cannot talk, money has to talk for you.
  • Please help the lazy people. DON’T help them!
  • If you buy LOVE and WORDS, you shouldn’t claim them for yourself. Rightfully, they can’t be yours.
  • We can love one another, but we will not succeed to protect ourselves from each other.
  • If you can have it, WHO told you that I CANNOT!
  • No one will be able to fight off what the bare eyes are unable to see, but from the inevitable worst that will occur, nature will reap its benefits.
  • I believe that the odor of some herbs contains the natural power to destroy the enjoyment of some insects (without destroying any life) and, therefore, promotes the health of all living things on this earth.
  • World, how can one tell you, so that you may understand?


    Helping Others

    Sisters not lovers
    Carolyn Harris on helping people
    Sleep and depression

    Sisters not lovers

    Dr. Rich,

       I stumbled across your writings accidentally, I guess I would really love some advice on my relationship life. I'm a rather young man, nearly 19. I understand I have a lot of life to still live, but I can't seem to understand my horrible relationship luck. Every girl that I become attracted too seems to use me for emotional support and then tells me what a great friend I am but they could never date me. They always come to me with their boy problems and use my shoulder to cry on but never consider me anything more than their friend and it's really hurtful. How can I convince a girl that I like that I am more than just a friend? I'm 19 and all I want is to be loved by a girl because I'm very lonely, I don't even want sex. All i want is to be able to hold a girl and know that she wants that moment never to end. Do you have any advice whatsoever for me?


    Dear Richard,

       At your age I wasn't even able to talk to girls to the point that they'd cry on my shoulder. I achieved that when I was about 22. I thought of all those girls as "sisters". I'd make friends with a girl, hoping for love, and got yet another sister instead. When I got married, about 30 sisters came to the wedding, happy to get me off their hands. And my 40th wedding anniversary is a few months away.

       If I could do it, so can you.

       Something else. The guys who have women fall all over them take it for granted, and are usually not that nice to live with. People like you and me make the best partners, because even now, 40 years later, I am still thankful to my wife for having rescued me from loneliness.

       How to make the change?

       For me, it was an accident. I was shortlisted for a scholarship that would have required me to move to Britain. So, I knew there was no point in trying for a girlfriend. And my wife-to-be was the next attractive young woman I met.

       I think that during all those years, I was trying too hard. It was obvious to the girls that if they gave me the slightest encouragement, I'd instantly fall in love with them, and that was too fast, too intense. I was a stray pup looking for a home, and they didn't know if they could put up with a dog around the place. :) When I stopped looking for a girlfriend I relaxed, and sent out a different unconscious nonverbal message. So, the girl and I could get to know each other without her feeling under intense pressure.

       There is a lesson for you in that.

       The second line of attack is to use the wonderful resources you have in your life: your current "sisters". Some of them will be sympathetic people who enjoy helping people. OK, this girl does not want you to be her life mate. But ask her to coach you in how to improve what you are doing, and help you to find a girl for yourself.

       If it's OK with you, I'd like to reproduce a suitably disguised version of our correspondence in my newsletter 'bobbing around'.

       As a final point, you will find that a psychologist can help you to get through the inner feelings of inferiority that without doubt contribute to your problem.

    Have a good life (you can)

    Helping people
    from Carolyn Harris

    Carolyn and I have been sending emails to each other several times a week on a variety of topics. She writes about herself:

       "I was born in Sydney 67 years ago. In 1984 I was a triage clerk in Accident and Emergency for ten years before I moved down to Tasmania in 1995 and became a Carer for a dear friend who was dying.

       I trained as a volunteer ambulance officer to Level 2 and in 1998, discovered I had breast cancer and had bilateral mastectomies.

       I run a successful thread in eBay ‘Chinwag’ for cancer sufferers offering care and support."

       The cries for help are deafening, aren't they? Particularly at this time of the year. My cancer thread in the eBay chat room has had a call for help too. The poor woman has had a rotten time with cancer, is slowly getting on top of it all, but it is breaking up her 40 year marriage.. We have gathered her up and will no doubt be able to do something to help, but in the end it comes down to the person themselves doesn't it, love and understanding is our mainstay in the thread and it goes a long way to helping people feel they are not alone in their troubles.

       The desire to stop treatment and let 'nature take its course' is a frequent happening with cancer people and I have been faced several times with women wanting to give up. Fortunately I find I have the words to help them think it out again, but then I get the rare phone call from someone who has been struggling for months on end and making no headway and really wanting out, but feel apologetic about it. Those are the people to whom I say, 'if that is how you feel and what you need to do, then go and may God go with you.'

       It's hard to do, but it is what they are asking for, the feeling that they have permission to do what they truly need to do. I figure that if it is the right thing, then it will happen and they are always to relieved to be told it is alright. Not suicide mind you, but just the permission to allow nature to take its course.

       I am so glad you do this on line stuff, people are so desperately in need of it and have nowhere to turn, especially those with little money and little knowledge of how to find help.

       I was reading about the generation of 'cutters' you have in your newsletter. Truly they are such sad children, and apart from the sense of worthlessness they are feeling, one does have to wonder where it all began. Of course the fact that nowadays so many are 'latchkey kids' is a big factor, but this cutting is going around like hula hoops and yoyos...

       One has to wonder what occurred back some decades or hundreds of years that this group of people are coming back now and cutting to 'let the pain out.' What was the happening that made them feel so 'soul worthless', if that is the right expression -- for surely this goes deeper than just the conscious mind.

       It's the shame that can be so awful for people, the sense that they are 'losers'; that oh so popular word among the younger generations. This need to match up to the yardstick that everyone puts down for themselves and for others is awful. I know of a woman whose brother was murdered recently by his son. It has, of course, knocked her into a cocked hat, but now, I have heard "even her husband is beginning to get sick of her carrying on"... what has happened to the full year of grief? Is this not allowed any longer?

       Bob, you have full time work online I suspect, and I am so glad you are out there for them, for they truly need people like you to turn to.

    Sleep and depression

       The question I have to answer is, why do some people suffering from Depression also suffer from Acute Insomnnia while others do not? Provide Psychology reasons.

       I cannot find anything about this. I can find reasons that connect the two diagnosis, but nothing which helps to explain why some people suffer and others don't.

       Please help!

       Christie, I am not aware of any research designed to answer your question. It is known that some people react to depression (and anxiety and other stresses) by losing sleep, while others tend to sleep more. I think the difference relates to how obsessive the person is. Some people have a need to get things right, chew on problems, when worried engage in repetitive thinking. These are the ones who will be unable to sleep. Others have a pattern of denial, of running away from problems. These will be the ones who'll sleep 16 hours a day when depressed.

       But this is just my impression.

       I assume there is a personal reason for your question. Do go to and read about a helpful technique.

    For writers

    About e-books again


       What makes a story gripping?

       Read a book by Wilbur Smith, Dick Francis or one of the Kellermans, and you will find that you are taken over by a compulsion to read on. You need to find out what happens next... and after that... and still a bit more.

       This, surely, is the aim of every writer.

       The main tool for achieving it is TENSION.

       Tension is when (1) the reader has identified with a character; (2) that character is striving for something; and (3) there are apparently insuperable obstacles in the way so that s/he seems to be unable to achieve the aims. The source of tension can change and develop during the story. There may be (in fact should be) subsidiary sources of tension. But what keeps a person turning pages is not beauty of language, or vividness of description, or excellent characterization, but the feeling that there is unfinished business, and s/he MUST find out what happens, or where the outcome is clear, how it happens.

       This can be a matter of violent action, danger and strife, but it does not have to be.

       Read this little section from my book The Start of Magic:

       Can she survive such deep sorrow?

    About e-books again

    I belong to many writers’ email lists. A perennial topic is the question of e-books. Invariably, someone writes in about liking the feel and smell of a book, and hating to read on a screen, any screen.

       Here is my response to one such string:

       How many people do you know who have a wind-up watch instead of one with a little battery inside? The odd one still persists, but it is an unusual hanging on to the past.

        Paper books will be in the same position in 30 years' time. Here are several reasons:

    1. The cost of paper. In 1999 I attended a publishing conference. The speaker from Penguin books said that at that time, 65% of producing a book was the cost of paper. That'll be higher now.

    2. The "returns" idiocy. The book trade is the only one in the world that works on consignment. A shoe shop will buy shoes at wholesale, sell at retail. If they can't sell, the manufacturer will not take the shoes back. So, you have a special sale, and the shop won't stock so much of that line any more.

        Not so for bookshops. They charge the publisher big bucks for prominent shelf space, then fill the rest with books they have no intention of pushing. After a short period, they simply return them at the publisher's cost, and stock with a new lot.

        This is a huge environmental waste, pushes up the price of books, and benefits no-one but the transport industry.

        The only way the publishers can break this is to switch to e-books. When they wake up to this, bookshops as we know them will disappear, and paper books will be rarities, and too expensive for you and me to afford.

    3. "Shelf life": Currently, a paper book has maybe 3 weeks to prove itself, before it disappears. Even a highly unsuccessful e-book can be kept around for years, because there are no costs of storage at all. This is particularly important to authors.

    4. Gracie mentioned another reason: portability. I have gone traveling with 40 books in my notebook. No excess baggage fee. It could just as easily have been 200 books.

    5. Every e-book can be a large print -- as large as you like. With text-to-speech software, every book can be an audio book. Right now, you could have your notebook computer on the seat beside you, and listen to a book while you drive. Think of people who have visual problems -- e-books are a godsend to them. With the aging population, this is an increasing benefit.

    6. E-books can do things you cannot do on paper. It is quite easy to set up a private web site that can only be entered through special links. Plant those links in the book, and only the buyers will be able to visit. On the web site, you can have any visual or audio effect you like, and huge amounts of information. I could imagine a teacher of academic running a course like this.

        For a simple example, go to


        There are disadvantages of course. One is piracy: it is easier to steal an e-book than a paper one although there are dozens of illegal sites where people sell scanned books. The second is that we are still waiting for a cheap e-reader that uses a universal format. But that will come.


    Responses to the previous issue

    Tim Rowe to Patricia Harrison
    Chris Hoare on the environment
    Jane Toombs
    Carl Stonier on Michael Moore, and on my paradox

    Tim Rowe

       In the last issue, Patricia Harrison exhorted the authors of e-books to get the technical aspects of their writing correct. Tim Rowe responded:

       I started to write a response to Patricia Harrison's article, which I half agreed with and half found infuriating, but I just couldn't see how to get it inside a sensible number of words -- and because I realised that I was just re-writing David Crystal's "The Fight for English". Probably the best thing I can do is to very strongly recommend David Crystal's book to anyone who is interested in the English language, the ways in which it is changing, and notions of what is and is not correct.

       My answer to Tim was:

       Thanks for the comments, Tim. I agree with Patricia, and also with you. :) At any one time, there is accepted correct English, and it should be kept to because it reduces the complexity of receiving written communication. Over time this standard changes, but so what? The same is true in other dynamic situations. I dress for the weather. It is inappropriate to wear shorts and a T shirt in the snow, perfectly good on a summer picnic. "You should dress appropriately for the weather" covers both situations.

       Further contributions welcome.

    Chris Hoare

    Hi Bob:

       I've seen your messages on several boards but have to write to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Bobbing Around this morning after following the link on your note to Meet the Authors. I particularly liked your environmental inclusions --

       Although when I started working in the oil patch in 1963 I supposed I was contributing to society by discovering new fuel, I eventually realised all the oil company lies and self interest were the cause not solution to our problems. Being in the business, I could see the way the exploitation of resources was going and built an energy efficient house in 1984. Now retired, we naturally live a rather conservationist lifestyle but I must admit my activism is not very productive. Living in the oil industries' fiefdom of Alberta, Canada -- home to the next environmental disaster, the oil sands -- I merely work as a lowly constituency secretary for a Liberal Party which may one day be able (and willing, against extreme pressure from the USA) to rein in the excesses on behalf of the Common Good. Democracy is unfortunately a weak tool to use against selfishness, the power of money, and corporate media.

       Chris's novels "Deadly Enterprise" and "The Wildcat's Victory" are coming soon from Double Dragon Publishing. See his website at and blogs at and

    Jane Toombs

       Bob: I thought it was way past time to tell you I've enjoyed issues of your newsletter for a long time. I don't want to subscribe, because then it becomes something I HAVE to read, rather than something I can enjoy when it shows up and I have a free moment or two. (I should mention I'm almost two years behind in my own writing due to illness, so, now that I'm better, I'm writing much of the time.) I think you're doing a wonderful service for all the discouraged and depressed young people who seek you out, plus I almost always learn something from the essays you publish. The warmer Russian winters, for example. It matches up with my Life Partner's Christmas letter from an elderly relative in Finland who took a picture of violets blooming in December--a phenomenon she's never before seen. Scary.

       Thank you for providing me with not only your interesting thoughts, but also those of intelligent others for me to ponder.

    Jane Toombs and her Life Partner, the Viking from her past, are snowbirds, along with Kinko, their grandcat. In Michigan's Upper Peninsula in the summer, Central Florida in the winter. Jane's published books number 80+, along with numerous novellas and short stories either in anthologies or stand-alone. Though she writes in many genres, her favorite to read and write is paranormal.


       Most recent book: Snow Flower, a historical romance from Amber Quill Press: Discover what happens when a Chippewa Maiden travels to Regency London.

       Most recent non-fiction, with coauthor Janet Lane Walters, from Zumaya Publishing: Becoming Your Own Critique Partner. A self-help book not only useful for creating, but great for final editing.

    Carl Stonier

    Carl is an email friend and colleague of several years' standing. He contributed some wonderful material to Cancer: A personal challenge. Most people will find his views below to be interesting:

       Thanks for sharing Michael Moore’s essay about the war in Iraq Bob. Generally, I think he makes some good points, even though it is written from a typically American perspective of the Americans single-handedly winning the second world war, whilst the rest of us just sat by and watched. However, he does make a glaring error when he says, “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!”(emphasis added).

       Sadly, Afghanistan is not living happily ever after -- far from it, as these excerpts from the BBC’s website show. Far from living happily ever after, young people are dying on a regular basis.

       In small, isolated firebases in southern Afghanistan, British soldiers find themselves under daily siege. Some 300,000 rounds of ammunition are said to have been fired by British troops defending places like Sangeen and Musa Qaleh. Nato's military commander, General James Jones, said the alliance was taken aback by the intensity of the Taliban campaign.

       Lance Bombardier xxxx, 22, of 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, was killed when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine during a reconnaissance mission in a desert near the village of Garmsir, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on 27 December.

       Yyyy from Plymouth-based 42 Commando died after his unit came under attack in the Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on 12 December. The mother of the 23-year-old marine, who was from xyz, said: "He died doing his duty amongst his beloved comrades."

       Zzzz, of Zulu Company 45 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in a battle with the Taliban on the outskirts of Garmsir on 12 December.

       Such blatant inaccuracy sadly discredits the rest of the article.

    Carl, my reading is that Michael entirely agrees with you. He was being highly sarcastic, implying that we are in the same position as the Russians were, but haven't woken up to the fact.

    Re help with your paradox

       This is an interesting realisation to which you’ve come, and at the risk of sounding pretentious, it sounds as though you’ve made a spiritual shift to a different level. I’m not surprised at all, given your environmental stance, meditation practice and such like. I think that recognising how we are affecting the planet is part of the awakening of insight that all life is interconnected and important. We cannot survive if we continue to kill other forms of life so indiscriminately, since everything has its place in the overall ecology of Gaia, as is shown in the quote below, taken from an article in ‘The Scientist’.

       “Either way, as stocks of fish that were once commercially undesirable have plummeted, large fish, marine mammals, and even birds have been robbed of a big piece of their food chain. And that means we too are affected, as some of our most intimate ecosystems -- those that protect and nourish our food and water supply -- become, in collapsing, a toxic abyss. Fish species that live near coastlines, reducing the risk of red tide and providing detoxification to water supplies, are disappearing.

       The threat of the ocean's imminent collapse is a new kind of issue for bioethics, which you might call "disaster ethics." The problem is that the public is simply uninterested in the catastrophic consequences of decimating fish stocks. Debates about ozone holes, stem cells, and the intelligence of the design of life simply pale in comparison to what is likely to happen to our oceans.”

       I think that this is an interesting period in our history, where we seem to be on the verge of a paradigm shift in terms of spirituality, where there seem to be an increasing number of people who are recognising the need for a radically different way of relating to life, but where we also have the opposite (perhaps an attempt to maintain a sort of balance) where we seem to have an increase in the number of people who are prepared to use extreme violence in a mindless way to achieve their short term objectives. Nor is this anything to do with intelligence, since I have met people of very high intelligence but no sense of morality or ‘decency’, and I have met people of very low intelligence who are simply beautiful people. I’m certain that you must also have experienced this or similar.

       Even as a child, I remember feeling confused when I saw the coffin of someone I knew who had died. I could not equate the size of the person that I’d known with the size of the coffin in front of me. This led me to wondering whether there had been something else in the live person that was no longer present and occupying space in the dead person (OK, I was a strange child!) I formulated some possibilities, which included the notion of a ‘spiritual body’ then years later started reading about Buddhism and found many similarities with some of my ideas. It particularly made sense to me that life is a school, and the curriculum is too big for one lifetime, so we keep coming back until we have learned all there is to learn. Of course, it is arguable that all of this is fanciful nonsense made by inadequate and insecure egos to defend themselves from having to face the inevitability of death as a finality, but my experience is more supportive of the former view than the latter. I have done some past life regression work myself and with clients, and it is fascinating, though, of course, it could also be a construction of the mind to explain present experience. During my nursing career, I have been privileged to be present at the point of death with many people and have seen and felt something leave as they died, so that death is more than just the cessation of electrical and chemical activity. Again, of course, this could be refuted as the imaginings of a fanciful and impressionable person, though I prefer to see myself in a far more rigorously scientific light. However, a part of that rigour is to not dismiss experiences that do not fit in to the accepted worldview, and especially not when those experiences seem to be shared by so many diverse people.

       Another sudden curiosity that I had many years ago is to wonder if there may be a connection with the apparent dichotomy of which I spoke above and the, at least to me, inarguable fact of there being something in a spiritual sense that leaves the body at the point of death. As humans are increasing in number, it seems that more and more species are becoming extinct, and endangered with ever reducing numbers -- might it be that there is a finite amount of ‘spiritual body-stuff’ and that to get enough to provide for the increasing human population, other species have to be sacrificed? This might then mean that just as some beings are evolving spiritually and gaining in wisdom and connectedness, so there are others, and increasingly so, who are only just transferred from lower species and who are just starting out on their learning and growth. Again, perhaps a fanciful notion, but it seems consistent with the observable phenomena.

       So, perhaps your paradox is not so much a paradox, any more than it must have seemed a strange paradox that one day you were having to stretch up to reach the door handle, and then not so long afterwards, you were having to reach down for it, it’s just that in that instance, you never noticed the day-to-day growth that you made, whereas in this context, you have noticed because it is a bit more dramatic.

    Do look at this...

    Announcing: the Noble Prize
    Cherished Pulse
    Darrell Bain
    Lyda Phillips wins several awards
    Two new books by Jennifer DiCamillo

    Announcing: the Noble Prize

       Praised or maligned, the Nobel Prize for Literature is always news. It selects the best from the world and therefore misses much of value. Carolyn Howard-Johnson, “Back to Literature” columnist for, closes the gap (only slightly) with her an annual “Noble Prize for Literature.”

       Over the last years the Nobel committee has recognized authors for their literary expertise but there has also been a trend toward awarding the prize for, as Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Tim Rutten says, “an author’s particular relevance to the moral moment in which the world finds itself.”

       Howard-Johnson’s prize therefore concentrates on books that address these same issues. For her Noble Prize (as opposed to the NOBEL prize), Howard-Johnson considers books written in English (which narrows the field of prospects considerably) because writers who write in English have been rather neglected over the years and because that is the language in which she... ahem, reads well enough.

       Howard-Johnson’s lists have included well-known authors who explore discrimination in their writing like Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison but she tries to concentrate on authors who have not been posted to bestseller lists or won major awards. Some past winners are LA's Leora G. Krygier and Randall Sylvis.

  • The winners for 2006 just announced in January's issue of Myshelf are:
  • Bruce Bauman And the Word Was.
  • Carolyn Davidson Redemption.
  • Robert Eggleton Rarity from the Hollow.
  • Dr. Bob Rich Anikó.
  • Helen Losse Gathering the Broken Pieces #5).
  • Nikki Arana The Winds of Sonoma.
  • Magdalena Ball Quark Soup.
  • Marcus Harris Songs in Search of a Voice.
  • Two Rivers Review's Poetry Chapbook Series: Ron Mohring's #5 volume; Michael McFee's and Lynne Knight's poetry.
  • Anh Vu Sawyer and Pam Proctor Son of Saigon.
  • Eve La Salle Caram Rena, A Late Journey.
  • Nadia Brown Unscrambled Eggs.
  • Hugh Rosen Silent Battlefields.
  • Karen Degroot Carter One Sister's Song.

       Howard Johnson is no stranger to literary prizes. Her first, This Is the Place, has won 8 awards. Her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening, has won 3 awards, her Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't was USA Book News' Best Professional Book of 2004 and her new book of poetry, Tracings, was named "Top 10 Reads for 2004" by The Compulsive Reader and given the Military Writers' Society of America's Award of Excellence. She is also an instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers' Program.

       Learn more about Howard-Johnson. Her efforts are sponsored by Editor Brenda Weeaks at

       Book covers and comments on the winters are posted in her Back to Literature column.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball

    The Net Connects Two Poet-Hearts in Two Hemispheres

       Award winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball would never have known one another but for the Internet. And they would never have connected as writers but for the poetry in their hearts.

       That sentiment is more syrupy than anything in the e-book of poetry the two wrote and published together. Rather, Cherished Pulse is a book of unconventional poetry, the kind that doesn't appear in valentines that are available at local card counters. Rather, it features poems about the tender moments -- both sad and glorious -- that permeate real relationships, the kind of poem you'd send to a loved one if you could but find something that isn't bedecked with doilies, glitter or strewn with cliched rhymes.

       In this case, the authors -- one from the USA and one from Australia -- used an electronic book format so the entire package costs less than most single Valentines by Hallmark. It comes in an electronic package that can be sent by e-mail or printed out on fine vellum as a quality chapbook (at no additional charge). Add a bottle of wine or a lace handkerchief, an Voila! Instant best-of-a-lifetime Valentine! Obviously, the two plan to bring more hearts from across the water together by e-mail.

       Artwork includes watercolors by an award-winning Los Angeles area watercolorist, Vicki Thomas. The two poets are no strangers to awards, either.

       Magdalena Ball, the Aussie, wrote a book of science-inspired poetry, Quark Soup, and her novel Sleep Before Evening is due for publication early in 2007.

       Carolyn Howard-Johnson's poetry appears frequently in review journals. She is listed in Poets & Writers and her chapbook of poetry, Tracings, was give the Award of Excellence by the Military Writers Society of America. She is also an award-winning novelist and short story writer.

       For more information on Cherished Pulse, visit

    Darrell Bain

       HI FOLKS-- The last and final two installments of my memoirs are now live at This brings them to a close. I sincerely hope I've met the expectations of everyone who wanted to know more about my life. Probably I told you far more than you ever wanted to know, but I got sort of carried away once I started them. At any rate, this is the last of them. Thanks for reading.

       Darrell would also like you to know that his January newsletter is up at GOOD NEWS, SANTA, VILLAGE, ATTITUDES, AWARDS & MORE.
    Darrell Bain is the author of Space Trails, Warp Point, 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.

    Lyda Phillips

    Hi Bob,

       You mentioned my novel Mr. Touchdown in one of your 2005 issues. Just wanted to let you know that Mr. Touchdown won the 2006 Writers Notes Book Award for young-adult, and was an honorable mention in the 2006 Independent Publishers Book Awards (multi-cultural juvenile fiction). My other iUniverse title Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River, won first place in the 14th annual Writers Digest International Self-Published Book Awards (children's/young adult fiction) and was a finalist in the 2006 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards contest.

       Thanks for your newsletter. It's very interesting.

    Lyda Phillips

    Jennifer DiCamillo

       Missouri Ozarks author Jennifer DiCamillo has two new books released this month.

       Courting Disaster is a romp and stomp farcical romance where sword slinging and tongue lashing are foreplay. Men and women will both love this! Available from Zumaya Publications.

       Passing Images is a selective collection of poetry. Many of the pieces have been previously published (some in the UK) and others have won awards. It also contains easy to understand definitions of poetry terms. Available from Rain Books.

       Cover art, more info and purchase links available here:


    Woodworking for Idiots Like Me
    From the Darkness Risen
    Rural Sprawl
    Behind the Mask

    Woodworking for Idiots Like Me
    reviewed by Ron Peters

       The title, Woodworking for Idiots Like Me (Dr. Bob Rich’s journey from fumbler to fixer) is your first clue that this book is not going to be your average self-help publication for happy homeowners or wannabe carpenters.

       This is confirmed right off as Dr. Bob refers to such terms as shearing sheds, roastabout, dogman, and flying fox. Now where have I heard those terms before? Let’s see…. Oh, wait a minute! This book is written in Australia. Dr. Bob is an Aussie. He comes from downunder in g’day land.

       When you get to billycarts, spanners, noggins, cubby houses, and portable dunny holes (think outhouse), however, you are well on your way to receiving a solid education in practical woodworking, not to mention picking up a few idioms that may come in handy the next time you’re at Outback’s Steakhouse. Probably not dunny holes, though.

       Dr. Bob has a wonderful sense of self depreciating dry wit--the sign of a confident but humble man--that brings eye-twinkling life to the subject of woodworking. His unique style of didactic instruction through appealing short stories makes you want more; you keep reading even if the project he’s describing isn’t of current interest (dunny hole comes to mind). He makes the subject enjoyable and interesting by delivering wonderful insights into his life as a concerned environmentalist in an Australian co-operative.

       “Gripped by the curse of creativity,” Dr. Bob has organized this e-Book version of his published book into instructional sections (chapters) with imbedded links to specific tools or methods highlighted in the chapter. In addition, a navigation sidebar lets the reader skip back and forth through the material with ease. This all adds up to easy reading with quick access to more detail if needed. All in all, nicely organised (God, he’s got me spelling like him).

       In twenty-four chapters. Dr. Bob covers various diverse projects such as building a billycart, stud frame walls, various types of (wood) joints, constructing a cubby house, designing and building bunk beds, laying out the base dimensions for a new home, assembling a roof, your very own dunny hole, wardrobes, coffee tables, and a rocking chair.

       Its not the projects so much as it’s the basic techniques you’ll learn in the process. Besides, you never know; there are days when you have a house full of company that a private dunny hole might ease the pressure (so to speak).

       Along the way, you’ll discover the correct way to hammer, how to sharpen knives and chisels without using blood as a lubricant, and all about nuts, washers, bolts, nails, and screws. Also, basic tools such as levels, bevels, squares, drills, saws, files, etc. are well covered.

       Bob makes an important point that the novice is better served starting off with hand tools. Electric tools, with their power and speed, greatly increase the probability of disaster (including injury). However, he’ll have a hard time selling that to the typical American who defines his favorite tool as “anything with a trigger.”

       So, jump in the billycart, mind your noggin, and have a cuppa as you head for the dunny hole (sorry).

       Seriously, although Dr. Bob’s book may be written for woodworking idiots (like me), it’s certainly not written by one. Woodworking for Idiots is a well-designed, delightfully written primer on woodworking techniques that will have you smiling as you learn. And it’s a great reference to keep handy for future use.

       Goodonyer, Dr. Bob. (See below for American translations).

       Dr. Bob Rich is an unusual man with many talents. Besides being a psychologist, he is a successful editor, the author of 13 published books--of which several have won awards, and a mudsmith. His books include one on designing and building your own house, three books in the general field of psychological self-help, an award-winning non-fiction that’s a tribute to his mother, four science fiction books in the series called the Stories of the Ehvelen, and two short story collections. He also sponsors a monthly newsletter, Bobbing Around, in his spare time. Go to his website for more information. You won’t regret the visit, and while you’re there, order one of his books.

    A brief reference to Aussie-speak
    Australian American
    spanneradjustable wrench
    nogginframing cross-brace
    newspaper cuttingnewspaper clipping
    cubby houseplay house
    wind-in-tapetape rule
    cuppacup of tea
    dunny holeouthouse
    roastaboutday laborer
    flyscreenscreen door
    goodonyerway to go
    mudsmithconstructing with mud bricks

    Review by Ron Peters, award-winning author of the tongue-in-cheek Dun Wheeling PI series: SOS (no, this isn't about anything on a shingle), Night Before August, Castles of Deceit, and just arriving, Sphere of Reason. Dun will capture your heart with bursts of laughter.

    From the Darkness Risen by Jessica Jewett
    reviewed by Jim Choron

    (371 pages) Paperback: $18.20
    ISBN: 978-1-4303-0488-3
    Buy it here

       Set during the bloody American Civil War, From the Darkness Risen is a story of courage, valor and what it means to be a family. A young couple with a toddler son, the Cavanaughs, endure the explosion of civil war, separation and the struggle of keeping the family farm out of enemy hands. Robert, a captain in the Stonewall Brigade, is captured during the fight at Sand Ridge, Virginia, and taken to a Union prison in Illinois. When Isabelle hears the frightening news, she abandons her post as a nurse in Staunton, Virginia's Confederate Army Hospital with futile hopes of securing her husband’s freedom. Along the way, Isabelle sees the brutality of war through her deeply religious sensitivity, and struggles with the traditional roles of a 1860s wife and mother against her desire to be something more. When her companion, Eva Reed, sabotages the dangerous escape, Isabelle and Robert find themselves fighting for their lives. Will they make it out of enemy territory alive?

    Rural Sprawl by Ann Grobo
    reviewed by Eugen Bacon

    Double Dragon Publishing
    ISBN: 1-55404-372-7
    Fiction, Mystery (available in e-book or Large Print Trade Paperback)

       A crime scene snapshot of a cornfield in the cover graphics prepares one for Constable Brian Stoker's gruesome find on a less than normal routine patrol. The near-comedy of his reaction, mis-reaction and sentiment that June night holds promise to the reader of instant enjoyment in a well-written novel that soundly carries suspense. Gloria Trevisi is a well-drawn character, an editor of a mid-western Ontario weekly. She is tossed from small town news, prize pigs or strange potatoes, to a farm place fatality. As if a body squashed by a bulldozer in a simple farmland is not enough tabloid news for the district weekly, the story develops into a full blown whodunit. Reading Rural Sprawl, I could not help but feel drawn to the Canadian-Italian reporter who baffles village folk (keen to fix or speculate) with the status of her marriage to concert violinist Tony. But it is her observations, persistence and gradual findings in the McKee murder that become cause enough for a killer's worry. A. R. Grobbo's writing is light, tight and weaved with ample humor hopefully to carry to the next Gloria Trevisi mystery.

    Originally from Quebec, Canada, A.R. Grobbo has worked as a news reporter and community editor for a number of suburban newspapers in the Toronto area. A lifetime student of music through the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto, she lives in rural southwestern Ontario, Canada, where she teaches piano, keeps bees and writes mysteries. She currently has two "Gloria Trevisi Mysteries" published through Double Dragon Publishing.

       Eugen M. Bacon, MSc, studied at Maritime Campus, two minutes walk from The Royal Observatory of the Greenwich Meridian. A Computer graduate mentally re-engineered into creative writing, Eugen's short stories are published in magazines & anthologies worldwide. She is an Eppie 2007 Finalist and a Pushcart Prize nominee.

    Behind the Mask
    A Hanibal Lectre movie reviewed by Dr. Jim Choron

       As most of the regular readers of "Bobbing Around" know, I am a movie fan. I love good movies and one of the genres that I particular enjoy is that of quality thrillers and horror movies. With that being a given, I shall continue. With the rising prices of movie tickets today, it is essential that everyone know about a miserable little attempt at committing film that has recently been inflicted on the moviegoing public and be aware that it is a total waste of time, celluloid and money.

       I just wasted ten dollars on a pre-release viewing of the New Hanibal Lectre movie "Behind the Mask". I honestly got up and left the theatre after the first ten minutes of the film, and did not even bother demanding my money back. Anthony Hopkins and his two co-stars in the previous films should sue the producers of this monstrosity (a monster in the theatrical sense) for defaming them and the characters that they so realistically brought to life. Most sequels are not as good as the originals, but this turkey will still be heard clucking 100 years from now. This movie doesn't just suck. It inhales. It blows ragged chunks. This film was so bad that it wasn't released, it escaped. Usually, with a less than perfect sequel, I recommend that you wait (if you simply must subject yourself to torture) until it appears on the dollar rack at the local video shop. However, this particular piece of cinematic tripe is not even woth the dollar that you would waste to rent it. It is ghastly. It is bad. It is horrendous. Not only is the acting something that you would see in a junior high school play, the plot is so contrived and patched together it is impossible to follow even if you were a big enough masochist to want to do so. Anyone who would enjoy this film is also the type of person who would enjoy torturing cats and pulling the wings off flies. Normal people -- those who enjoy quality thrilliers -- will be nausiated by this attempt to capitalize on the name of a known character and defame the reputationos of Tony Hopkins and Jody Foster.

       The producers of this film should have been Dr. Lectre's first victims.

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