Bobbing Around

Volume Six, Number Six
March, 2007

Bob Rich's rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Venezuela facts, by Kiraz Janicke
  Depleted Uranium Alert
  Stop the murder of dolphins and whales.
  Natural climatic cycles, from Barry Brooks.
  'Tropical paradise, anyone?'
  Saving paper in the classroom, from Yumico Tanaka.
  The REAL cost of climate change.
*Deeper questions
  If I could start all over again...
  'The nature of evil' by Laurie Corzett
  Angry God, angry people.
  A response to many things, from Ben Hamley.
  Breast cancer? This is for you.
  Depression and sleep.
*Helping others
  Should I have another child?
  Interracial pregnancy.
  Give an hour to a veteran.
*For writers
  'Effective description', by Will Greenway.
  Don't bother with Booksurge.
*What my friends want you to know
  Free sustainability magazines for your community group or school!
  Darrell Bain's March newsletter.
  Interview with 8-year-old author.
  Margaret's film star granddaughter!
  How to do it frugally web site for writers.
  Free contest, valuable prizes.
  Wall of words to help children.
  A new publisher.
  'Sleeper, Awake', reviewed by Carolyn Harris.
  A response to Ron Peters.
  'Footprints in the Snow' by James Choron
  'Blue Diamonds' by Spencer Dane, reviewed by Greg Cason.

Idiot wins EPPIE Award!

EPPIE 2007 winner   It is my great pleasure to announce that my short story collection Woodworking for Idiots Like Me has won the Non-fiction Self-help category of this year's EPPIE Awards. That's right, you read it correctly. It's a book about woodworking, and actually teaches you that fine craft. However, it is actually a collection of short stories that have amused and entertained people since 1994. It's been out of print since 1999, after having sold tens of thousands of copies in Australia. Last year, I made it into a sort of super-webpage. This actually makes it far more useful than any paper book could ever be.

   You can read a sample and see for yourself, or read the very amusing review by Ron Peters in the last issue.

   SIGH. I'll have to offer you another special to celebrate. How can an author make a profit like this? Oh, OK. Until the next issue of 'bobbing around', you can buy this book for half price. That's $Au5.00 or $US3.75, plus as usual you get a second e-book, free. Do not click on the Paypal button at the web site, but send me an email.

From fellow author Jane Toombs

Bob: You have no idea the ovation you got when your name was announced as the winner. There are a lot of us who really wanted you to win and we showed it that night.


   What's C.J. Winters (Dame Tanzanite) up to? Find out by visiting where we have monthly book giveaways!
Jane's website:

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

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

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill.


Venezuela facts by Kiraz Janicke
Depleted Uranium Alert

Venezuela facts
by Kiraz Janicke from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

15 February 2007

   For two days now in federal parliament, treasurer Peter Costello has attacked ALP signatories of our sign-on invitation for Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to visit Australia.

   In the course of his outbursts, Costello has managed to talk nonsense about the country’s economy (“very high inflationary society”) and its political system (run by a “Bolivarian dictator”).

   In order to help informed discussion, AVSN invites all federal parliamentarians to acquaint themselves with some basic facts about the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its president.

   For example, Costello repeats the standard Washington slander that Chávez is a dictator, despite the fact that he won the presidential elections in Venezuela on December 3, 2006 with 62.84% of the vote, a much higher winning vote than in any Australian federal election.

   These elections were monitored by more than 1100 international observers, including delegations from the European Union, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the US-based Carter Center.

   They all found that the election process in Venezuela was completely open, transparent and democratic.

   The election was Venezuela’s 11th national election since Chavez came to power in 1998, all of which have been won by pro-Chavez forces. For more details see the Venezuelan electoral commission web site at

   On Venezuela’s economy, Costello must have hunted far and wide for a statistic that could be used to imply that it’s in some sort of crisis. It’s presently growing at 8% (Australia 2.1%), has a positive balance of trade (Australia’s is negative), net foreign debt is only 20% of GDP (Australia’s is 56%), and working people’s income is climbing rapidly (unlike under Work Choices).

   So, Costello picked out the annual inflation rate at January 2007 (18.4%), deliberately concealing the fact that inflation has been falling sharply since 2003.

   When combined with the government’s anti-poverty programs, Venezuela’s economic growth has seen households below the poverty line fall from 55.8% (1997) to 37.9% (2005).

   Other basic economic data about the Venezuelan economy is attached to the email version of this media release, or is available on the AVSN web site.)

   One of the reasons AVSN is inviting Hugo Chávez to visit Australia is in order to have a more informed discussion about ‘the Venezuelan option’ in world politics today.

   Will Peter Costello have managed to learn enough by then to participate?”

   For further information interviews: Sydney Kiraz Janicke 0432 335 030, Melbourne Roberto Jorquera 0425 289 394 Canberra Lara Pullin 0439 601 277

Depleted Uranium Alert

   What is depleted uranium? It is uranium. The natural ore has two isotopes. "Enriching" uranium is the removal of the less abundant type, which is used as fuel in nuclear power stations, and as stockfeed for nuclear weapons. What is left behind is a HIGHLY radioactive substance that is not useful for these two purposes, and used to be intractable waste. However, it can be formed into a ceramic that can coat bullets, rocket projectiles and bombs, making them penetrate thick steel armour (such as the wall of a tank). It burns when impacted, creating high temperatures that melt through most things. The result is a highly radioactive, fine powdery ash that is easy to breathe in, and can move hundreds of Km on the wind, enter ground water, and poison life for millions of years.

   Australia has agreed to allow US bombers stationed in the Pacific to carry out bombing fly-overs in the Northern Territory.

   This follows earlier agreements to operate three new US-Australia joint training facilities in the NT and Qld, and to use WA for US troop changeovers and bombing practice.

   Of serious concern is the US use of Depleted Uranium weapons as standard munitions. Australians have been exposed to DU in overseas deployment with US & possibly here on Australian soil.

   Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton and Delamere Air Weapons Range near Katherine will be locations for bombing practices during the Talisman joint exercise next year.

   In 2003, responding to questions about Australian support for US use of DU, then Defence Minister Robert Hill stated:

   "In relation to DU used by our allies we have said that, if they believe it is the most appropriate element to use in their particular munitions in certain circumstances, we do not think it is appropriate for us to press a different view upon them." (24 June 2003, Senate Questions without Notice: Depleted Uranium)

   Further Information

1. Blowin' in the Wind is the latest film from two-time Academy Award nominee, David Bradbury. It examines the secret treaty that allows the US military to train and test its weaponry on Australian soil.

   It looks at the impact of recycled uranium weapons and the far-reaching effects on every Australian. Blowin' in the Wind reveals that Iraqi babies are now being born with major birth defects. Bradbury wonders whether Australians living downwind from the military testing ranges (such as Shoalwater Bay) will be next. Order a copy from Frontline Films.

2. Your Future with Depleted Uranium by Pauline Rigby provides a brief introduction to 'depleted' uranium, placing it within the context of uranium mining and nuclear power generation.

   "This booklet is a research guide, designed to be affordable, to fit in you back pocket and in an envelope. It gives you access to international, scientific, veteran and civilian research: websites, books, films and journal articles." Order a copy from Mindseeds.

3. Websites
a) Depleted Uranium Silent Killer
b) E-petition
c) International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons


Stop the murder of dolphins and whales.
Natural climatic cycles from Barry Brooks.
Tropical paradise, anyone?.
Saving paper in the classroom from Yumico Tanaka.
The REAL cost of climate change

Stop the murder of dolphins and whales

   Recent research has shown that humpback whales have similar neural organisation of the brain to primates (apes and humans). Decoding of dolphin sounds in another study has shown that two dolphins were talking by name about a third one. These are only two of the huge number of studies that convince me that cetaceans are of a level of intelligence that makes their killing murder, their eating cannibalism.

   You can help to put a stop to this evil carnage. Go to and sign a petition. Its author, Pedro Oliveira, started collecting signatures in January. Mine was number 802,158. He is aiming to accumulate one million.

   Add your voice.

Natural climatic cycles
from Barry Brooks

Barry Brooks is a retired electronic engineer who has an interest in understanding economics. We both belong to an email group, where his pithy, to the point messages are always of interest.

   Recently, someone posted the often-heard belief that since climate has natural fluctuations, the current period of climate change is natural. The implication of course is that therefore there is nothing that we should or can do about it. Here is Barry's response:

   Fire is natural, but don't start one in you house.

   Regardless, when you smell smoke, isn't it time for corrective action?

   If we don't overlook natural cycles, does that mean don't worry, be happy... forget it because we aren't doing it? Why mention "natural" cycle when we have a clear case of OTHERWISE?

   Natural fires are caused by lightning, but when arson happens lightning is a poor defense.

   What power denial has!!!!!

Tropical paradise, anyone?

   The seas are rising from global warming and starting to take away islets in Micronesia.

   Ben Namakin, an official with the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, said that in the last five years rising ocean levels have taken a sandy islet a couple of miles south of Pohnpei and split another nearby islet.

   Namakin, whose home atoll Kiribati has a mean elevation of less than 10 feet, said he’s worried about the future of Micronesia.

   “Imagine your home sinking,” he said.

   As the crews of the Hokule’a and Alingano Maisu sail through Micronesia to the home island of renowned navigator Mau Piailug, they are learning about the tenuous condition of many low-lying atolls.

   Mau’s home island of Satawal is about a mile long and a half-mile wide and about 12 feet in elevation.

   Throughout the more than 2,000 islands, atolls and islets of Micronesia, many islanders are noticing an alarming change in weather patterns.

   Non-governmental organisations as well as the nations of Micronesia have been speaking out about the impact of rising seas and global warming.

   In the Federated States of Micronesia, Pohnpei resident Rihse Anson said the sea has risen by about a foot in the last 20 years and is just a few inches below her house floor, which has been raised several times.

   During an unusual high tide about 10 years ago, the ocean flooded her home.

   “I’d like to move, but the problem is financial,” she said. “My husband died four years ago.”

   In the Marshall Islands -- where the average elevation of the 1,225 islands, atolls and islets is 7 feet above sea level -- more than 60,000 residents face potential devastation.

   William Kostka, director of the nonprofit Micronesia Conservation Trust, fears that with ocean levels predicted to rise by 7 to 23 inches by 2100, the loss of farm land could be devastating.

   “It’s a big threat to us, and a lot of people who are living in the outer islands depend on the taro patches,” Kostka said. “If there’s saltwater intrusion, you’re taking away their livelihood.”

   The oceans might even rise 4 to 8 inches higher than the projected 23 inches, depending on the rate of melting by polar ice sheets, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

   The panel said human-induced global warming, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, is also likely increasing the power of storms, which can also create flooding in the low-lying atolls of Micronesia.

   Some Micronesians say they aren’t receiving the crucial support needed from the United States to combat global warming.

   Alson Kelon, who runs a canoe sailing group in Majuro, said the Marshallese have allowed the U.S. to use Kwajalein for missile testing and for past nuclear tests on the northern atolls of Bikini and Enewetak.

   But he said the Bush administration has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, a pledge for nations to adopt guidelines to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming.

   Kelon helps perpetuate the tradition of sailing canoes among young people in the Marshall Islands. But all that work, he said, could be literally washed away.

   “I think of the kids. Where are the grandchildren going to live?” he said.

I thought I had an author for this item, but the person I credited with it emailed me to say it wasn't him. So, it's the work of that prolific author, Anonymous.

Saving paper in the classroom
from Yumico Tanaka


   I am a LOTE (Language Other Than English) teacher in Cairns and a volunteer translator for JFS (Japan for Sustainability) articles

   Most students today just don't appreciate any kind of resources as much as we did as children. The waste of paper is a serious problem worldwide. Recently I started laminating many of my teaching resources, as a means of reducing waste.

   For example, rather than giving students individual worksheets for them to write on and take home (or to be thrown away), I give them a laminated work sheet on which they can practice writing Japanese symbols with a water-soluble Texta or felt-pen, comparing with the sample three times, then wipe them out before exchanging it to another student.

   If there are 26 high school students in a class, I can make 6 sets of 4 different types of activity sheets. One laminated sheet has two sides, with different kind of activity. So a group of four students can share the four different activity sheets. Do the both sides, then pass it on. For younger primary school students, two students can share the resources. They can write answers or take notes from the activity sheets on their books.

   I used to believe that memorising information through handwriting is a vital part of the process, but not so with many students here. They can remember things by reciting, or acting out, or singing. Those who are not good at writing but can type must have felt tortured by those Japanese LOTE teachers who want them to write so many times.

   Laminated worksheets can be used for many years if treated properly.

   Hope many people find this idea useful and try to minimise wasting paper in the office, home, and school classes. I know there are some teachers in other subjects who already do this in Cairns.

Thank you for reading.
Yumico Tanaka.

The REAL cost of climate change

   The CSIRO is a world-famous research organisation, which is funded by the Australian government. It has prepared a report, to be officially released in April, but discussed at a climate conference in Tasmania. While it focuses on the effects of climate change on the people of Australia, other lands will be equally devastated, each in a different way. No-one will escape.

   Here are a few of the predictions:

  • A great increase in the number of days of extreme fire danger, wherever wildfire is now a concern.
  • Frequent occurrence of storms of a magnitude that until now have had once-in-a-hundred-years probability.
  • Various tree species will not be able to cope with changed temperature and rainfall regimes, and will be too slow to grow in areas that become suitable. As the climatic zones migrate, the forests will be left behind to die.
  • The human death toll from heat waves will rise in all the cities. The old and the very young are the most vulnerable.
  • Although the current Australian government is insistent on keeping them out, we will need to find a home for the many people of the Pacific whose island homes are drowning.
  • Drought will be more frequent, and more severe, undermining agricultural output.
  • In other years, floods will be more catastrophic.

       The main point of the report is that climate change is real, devastating and happening NOW.

    Deeper questions

    If I could start all over again...
    The nature of evil by Laurie Corzett
    Angry God, angry people
    A response to many things from Ben Hamley

    If I could start all over again...

       I am sick of this body. I want to trade it in on a new one.

       Wouldn’t it be great to move all my accumulated wisdom, experience and memories into a young body free of scar tissue and the other legacies of hard wear over the years? This has been a persistent human dream, and in fact, people spend billions of dollars every year in attempts to approximate it.

       But if I could do it, then so could everyone else. Would that be a good thing?

       Emmanuel Kant proposed a way of assessing if something is good or bad: the “principle of universability”. Is lying good or bad? Well, compare a world in which everyone tells lies whenever it suits them to a world in which no-one tells lies. Which is better to live in?

       If we apply this criterion to an ability to rejuvenate bodies, then I think it’s clear that we’d be causing even more terrible problems in an already stuffed-up world.

       If an old person could get rid of all the aches and pains, wrinkles and sags, reduced function and lowered energy and become young again... then we would want to live forever. What am I saying? Many people want to live forever now, at any cost, in any condition. Unlike for many other cultures, and for periods in the past of our own, there is a persistent death phobia. Better the hell we know than the unknown, which may be the blank of nothing, or Judgment, or... who knows?

       Already, we live on an obscenely overpopulated planet. Humanity is a cancer on life. If now people could stay young indefinitely, there would be no room for new people. After all, there is no room for new people now!

       The fountain of youth is therefore a poisonous brew, and it is right for us to age, to the point where death is the only option.

       OK, but what about dying, and then returning as a new baby? This is the belief of several eastern religions, and a spreading belief even in the west.

       Scientifically respectable evidence indicates that this belief is true. Enter the search terms “Dr. Ian Stevenson”, “past lives”, “return from death” or the like in a search engine, and you’ll find a lot of impressive evidence, as well as the nonsense of course.

       Much of this evidence is based on breakthrough memories from past lives. These are more frequent than you’d think. They are of the type of a little child remembering “The trains used to go past my house” while living in a location with no trains. This is a very long way from an old mind in a young body. Oh, if only that was possible! Imagine the way we could improve the world in a few generations!

       It would be terribly stultifying.

       My life’s experience has given my many good things. But also, the scar tissue is not limited to my body, but also to my thoughts, emotions, social competence... my entire personality. Without a personality makeover, as well as a body makeover, how can I continue to grow?

       So, I have decided, the way things are is the best arrangement. I just have to put up with the costs for a few more years.

    The nature of evil
    by Laurie Corzett

       Original sin is not about forbidden fruit or carnal knowledge; it is the first time you look upon another with hate, not because of what they have done, but because they are.

       What is evil? The flip answer, which may be more revealing than not: evil is live backwards.

       "Evil", being a concept, is a creature of consciousness. It is a label usefully used, I think, as a warning against the kinds of thought and consequent behaviors that are about willful destruction of a nonconstructive nature.

       It occupies the extreme negative grid of both the compassion and selfishness scales. Sending out bad feeling like a curse into the other does not diminish bad feeling in the sender, but rather increases that tendency as practicing deepens neural patterns. It becomes an ill wind blowing the disease about, a vector of infection.

       I don't think it is about big events, those we normatively label as evil, such as Hitler, Hiroshima, et al. I think these events are made up of a confluence of historical trends, perhaps individual psychoses and paranoias that are mutually inflamed, ingredients of fears and ambitions and the primal excitement of blood lust. The evil, though a part of all this maelstrom, comes from the little worse demons that plague us every day. Often, it’s not deliberate cruelty, but an outward projection of inner pain. If we fear retribution or want to hold off guilt, we may layer our consciences with rationales about what we deserve vis-a-vis the other. We may insist we are acting righteously, to right a wrong, exact revenge, or respect divine will. We may say, “Those of that group aren't worth my respect. I must protect myself from their intended violence against me which I fear I may have provoked, so I must take their power and keep them down.” Or, perhaps, I was just lost in my own drama, not thinking about the consequences of my cruelty, but nothing so bad happened. Or, all my friends, my neighbors, my kingroup do these things to those like them. I am merely being loyal to my own against a potential threat. Bit by tiny bit terrible consequences are so easily build. Evil, like a virus, may be a very little thing.

    (c) February 2007 Laurie Corzett/libramoon
    Laurie Corzett/libramoon publishes the visionary art ezine Emerging Visions: You can see more of her work on her webpage: and her blog, libramoon's observatory:

    Angry God, angry people

    Courtesy, Association for Psychological Science

       New research may clarify the relationship between religious indoctrination and violence, a topic that has gained new notoriety since the Sept. 11 attacks.

       In the study, psychologist Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. and colleagues suggest that violence sanctioned by God in scriptures can increase aggression, especially in believers.

       The findings appear in the March issue of the research journal Psychological Science.

       The authors worked with undergraduate students at two universities: Brigham Young in Provo, Utah, where 99 per cent of students report believing in God and the Bible; and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, where just half report believing in God, and 27 per cent in the Bible.

       Participants read a parable adapted from a relatively obscure passage in the King James Bible describing the brutal torture and murder of a woman, and her husband’s subsequent revenge on her attackers.

       Half the participants were told that the passage came from the Old Testament; the other half, that it was an ancient scroll unearthed by archaeologists.

       In addition, half the participants from both the Bible and the ancient scroll groups read an adjusted version that included the verse: “The Lord commanded Israel to take arms against their brothers and chasten them before the LORD.”

       Participants were then paired up and instructed to compete in a simple reaction game that measures aggression. The winner gets to “blast” his or her partner with a noise that can be about as loud as a fire alarm.

       The Brigham Young students were more aggressive—that is, louder—with their blasts if they had been told the passage they had read was from the Bible rather than a scroll. Likewise, they were more aggressive if they had read the additional verse that depicts God sanctioning violence.

       At the more secular Dutch school, the results were surprisingly similar. Although the students were less likely to be influenced by the source of the material, they blasted more aggressively when the passage they read included God’s sanctioning of the violence. This held true even for nonbelievers, though to a lesser extent.

       The findings shed light on the possible origins of violent religious fundamentalism, the researchers said, and fit with theories holding that violent scriptures help lead extremists to aggression.

       “To the extent religious extremists engage in prolonged, selective reading of the scriptures, focusing on violent retribution toward unbelievers instead of the overall message of acceptance and understanding,” wrote Bushman, “one might expect to see increased brutality.”

    This is worth thinking about, although I could have predicted the result of the study without having to do it.

    A response to many things
    from Ben Hamley

       Aaaah Bob -- you might have saved my sanity this week! At the very least you have saved me from a slide down the slope into my frequent (but not necessarily regular) little pits. I have been a sufferer of depression on and off for most of my life (31yrs so far and going strong), and while I have usually coped without clinical diagnosis or intervention, sometimes I just slide and slide. After reading your First Aid list, I came to the realization that not only are my slides arrested, usually by good fortune, by one or more of these factors in their natural abundance, but also that I can use them to keep me from starting to slide in the first place!

       Although I have long known the importance of these things for maintaining my natural optimism, their appearance in the form of a list of First Aid prescriptions made so much sense that I feel like I have just woken up from a dream of impending doom. I read, in tears, your correspondence with “Crissie” -- the 16yr old in an existential crisis -- and realized how long I have been wrestling with that same crisis (since I was much the same age).

       My father, Tim Hamley (who died of cancer in 2005) was a biologist, ecologist, and “world famous” palaeontologist, and raised me with a deep and constant appreciation of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, a sense of social responsibility, and a strong desire and ability to encourage this in others. Lately the downside of this wonderful gift has been a vulnerability to anxiety and depression about the deepening doo-doo we seem to be in -- ecologically speaking. In the past (especially when he was around to shine his indefatigable optimism on the world) it was easier to think of our fight for the planet as “winnable”: we made so much progress in the environmental/social movement since “Silent Spring”. But sometimes lately I have difficulty in fending off the feeling that we are just about stuffed. For example: the current drought only serves to exacerbate my distress, although I know that it is not solely attributable to anthropogenic climate change! Every time I hear the words “water restrictions” I have the urge to laugh manically and turn on the tap!

       Anyway, as a result of these events my partner and I have purchased a small outer-suburban block on Russell Island in Southern Moreton Bay, Brisbane and are now planning a small, low-energy dwelling as an eco-retreat for rental and our own use. If the direst predictions about sea level rise are correct, I should have waterfront property in about 50 years time!!! I will enjoy telling my grandchildren about how I bought it for a song…

       Your EG Building Book is featuring heavily in the design process! Being on an island, and subject to a small budget (I have arbitrarily set it at $50k max to avoid the bank owning it forever) we intend to make full use of the most abundant local resource -- earth (probably rammed). There are also heaps of timber scraps -- the remains of hundreds of small Casuarinas which were just knocked down, chopped into (almost) useless pieces and piled up with the dirt by the idiotic former “owners” (who then failed to do anything constructive on the site). If only they had just left the timber in decent lengths!

       I have made many such changes to my life since Dad’s death -- given up smoking cigarettes (so far for 6 months or so), slowed down my intake of pot (to a complete stop for the last couple of months). Both of these have been more or less everyday companions for over half my life. I took up Aikido, after many years’ good intentions, shortly before he fell ill and now am well on my way to a black belt in this so called “Art of Peace” (I consider this will be equivalent to the degree I have for many years failed to complete). These things have contributed to my well being in many ways. But of course maintaining sanity is an ongoing process…

       Your essay The Quiet Revolution expresses everything I have thought about these things all my life and reassures me that whatever beauty I can salvage from my life in this age of war and terror is meaningful and worthwhile. At the very least my children (4yrs and 2yrs of age) will have an example to live by in these increasingly difficult times.

       Keep up the good work: it's people like you (and my father) who inspire me to keep struggling, living and trying!!!

    Ben Hamley
    (Ecologist, Housewife, and Jack of an ever increasing number of trades!)


    Dear Ben,

       I am honoured to be compared to your father.

       I used to feel the same environmental despair you've expressed, but during the last half-dozen years I've come to a realisation: The FIGHT to save the environment, and a future for humanity matters. WINNING doesn't.

       It's the Buddhist concept of life being a journey, not a destination.

       When I was an atheist, I thought that since we only have one life, and one planet to live it on, this fight was a matter of, well, life and death. But then, I was presented with a considerable amount of evidence that each of us lives many lives, life after life after life. I still don't believe in an Old Man in the Sky, but rather that we are all parts of something greater than us, which is the symbiosis of all things.

       I am struggling with the concepts, and hopefully this will result in a book one day. Enough to say that my conclusions include:

  • We are alive on this planet in order to learn lessons.
  • Through these lessons we progress to a point where we no longer need to be born. Then we continue in a higher level of existence; a different organisation of energy that does not involve a body.
  • Suffering is a necessary goad to learning. At certain stages, we just need to suffer, but learning the relevant lessons removes the pain. I have personally found this.
  • I am convinced the Earth is only one of many 'schools'. Perhaps there are uncountable billions.
  • Things are the way they are, including environmental idiocy, because they should be like this. I think that humanity is doomed, but it no longer distresses me. OK, so the idiot students are destroying this school. Next class, they'll need to go to a different one.

       To explain through an analogy: when you were in school, you learned about solving simultaneous equations. When you went through a process, you got a number. This number has no use, no purpose, no meaning, except to demonstrate whether you have acquired the skill of solving these equations.

       In the same way, we MUST do our best to reduce suffering, to protect what is precious to us, to work for a future. But it's the process of being passionate and caring and loving that counts. The result is actually irrelevant.


    Health issues

    Breast cancer? This is for you
    Depression and sleep

    Breast cancer? This is for you

    From Carolyn Harris

    Hello, I am Carolyn and in 1997 I had bi-lateral breast cancer. After two mastectomies I recovered fully and lead a healthy and active life. I am flat chested except when I dress up and wear my prosthesis -- which can confuse people from time to time, especially boob-watching men! :-)

       ”I lost both breasts to cancer and I was lucky because the lumps were still 'encapsulated', which means it had not escaped its capsule and spread out into the lymph system... but my family is rife with cancer and the chances of it happening again were high, so apart from the fact that all 3 lumps were successfully removed, my surgeon felt it was safer to remove the breasts and so did I!

       So now I have a flat chest and that is not so hard. I don't feel ugly, and I have never met anyone who has even noticed because people just don't see these things unless you point it out.

       Please don't be afraid, this is a fear that could kill you and it is just not necessary... it is fear that is a big deal, not the condition if caught early. it is something you can get through if you face your fear and defeat it.”

       These are some of the opening words I used to start a ‘thread’ almost two years ago in “Chinwag”, which is a chat room on eBay. I had no idea at the time just how successful it would be, but now we are something like 30 strong. Some members come and say hello every day and others drop in when they can. They have all had cancer and most of them have survived.

       People come and ask questions about cancer. If between us we don’t know, then we find out for them.

       We have suffered from abuse -- one fellow descended upon us telling us that the Devil was ‘punishing us for our sins.’ He really was awful and upset the women badly. I got him banned but the women said they wanted to start a new thread. I decided against it because, as I pointed out to them ‘He is no more than a cancer and we can defeat him too.” So the thread stayed and somewhere about 213 pages back he is still there to remind us that, like him, cancer can go into the past.

       We have suffered deaths and in one instance one of our members went to the funeral and left flowers from us all.

       We also helped a member who has bone cancer. She had to spend time in hospital and while she was away her husband left her two much loved dogs in a pound. When she got home she found them gone and when she rang the pound she discovered it would cost $800 to get them back. We did a big gather around of money and managed to get it together so she could save them. We are all now proxy aunts to the little souls.

       Despite the title, we have been lucky to have men come and join us.

       One of the hardest things to get across to women -- and yes to men too, because they can also develop breast cancer -- is that the moment you find a lump or the nipple begins to seep or becomes ‘funny’ (this is Paget’s Cancer of the breast) you get it checked out.

       You do not “wait to see what happens” because the sooner you catch cancer the greater your chances of survival, and in fact it can be a reasonably minor event IF caught early enough.


    Depression and sleep

    Hi Dr. Bob

       I was reading through your latest Bobbing Around (thanks for the notice you posted in Novel Writers Association), and noted Christie's question about why some people with depression seem to suffer insomnia.

       I am one of those people.

       From the research that I have done, it appears that there is a chemical the brain produces which allows a person to enter the sleep cycle. A depressed person's brain does not produce as much of the critical chemical, so try as such a person might, sleep always seems evasive. I take Zopiclone to help myself over that speed bump and get to sleep but I have to admit, it is not a perfect remedy. I still wake up in the night or feel unrefreshed in the morning because my brain does not reach that level where refreshing Alpha (?) waves are generated.

       The brain is an incredible chemical soup. Depression may either cause an imbalance in seratonin, norepinephrine or dopamine -- or be caused by such an imbalance. There are many different anti-depressants which target specific areas of the brain or body, so it is necessary to experiment to see what works most effectively for you. Sadly, not many doctors have the patience (pardon the pun) to see a person through to a successful combination. For example, I've tried Zoloft, Celexa but am now on 300 mg. of Effexor with a 1 mg of Risperidone as a leavener (don't ask why it works, but it does … for me anyway).

       Depression is as unique as the individual, so don't get dismayed if you don't respond to things the same as another. Just hang in there and insist that your doctor help you.

       To Christie and to all others who battle depression, good luck and hang in there!



    Dear Mark,

        I don't really buy the chemical explanation for this. In my experience, as many sufferers of depression sleep overlong as those who lose sleep. Those who have trouble sleeping experience ruminative thoughts that keep them awake. Those who sleep too much have a lack of energy and motivation.

        Also, people who suffer from high anxiety typically lose sleep through repetitive thinking too. And anxiety tends to co-occur with depression.

        There is recent experimental evidence that standard psychotherapy aimed at depression causes exactly the same patterns of change in MRIs as antidepressants. This I think answers your question about causation. It is the mood or emotion that is primary. It has its effects on everything, and is mediated by the mechanisms of the brain, which involves shifts in brain transmitter chemicals. The substances are a part of the mechanism, not the cause.

        So, when you put those various drugs into your system, you are trying to correct the steering of the car by altering the linkages from steering wheel to the front axle. Wouldn't it be better to work on the driver who holds the steering wheel?


    Helping Others

    Should I have another child?
    Interracial pregnancy
    Give an hour to a veteran

    Should I have another child?

    Hello my name is Vicky.

       My husband and I have been married (10) years and waited (7) years before we had our son Michael. I have a fear of my child growing up alone. I was one of three children; one deceased and one living with a disability. My brother living has no children and I care for him. I think often if he didn't have me he would have no one and I vice versa. Our grandparents and parents are all deceased and I worry about this often. I'm thirthy nine years old and having some difficulty getting pregnant. I just don't know if I want to go through the whole infertility treatment ordeal. One part me wants to make peace with the decision to tie my tubes and be content with my son. My husband has made it my decision and I'm not really sure if my reasoning to have another child is a strong enough reason. Is providing a quality of life for one child better than trying to make sure there is a sibling so they will have each other. I'm so confused and need another's opinion.........Please I welcome your input.


    Dear Vicky,

       There are a great many people who grew up as only children, and have had a perfectly good childhood, youth and adulthood. There are advantages and disadvantages to every family size and configuration. There is no evidence at all that one of them is better or worse than any other.

       The main potential disadvantage of having just one child is that he may miss out on learning about how to interact with other kids. But there are many other ways of giving Michael this opportunity. When my kids were little, my wife organized a child minding club. Each family had to provide as many hours of child minding as they received, but not necessarily to the same kids. One result was the formation of friendships among the kids involved. This is just one example. If you belong to a church, there will be others with kids about the same age as Michael. There may be paid child minding facilities nearby.

       Another alternative is to foster, or even adopt, a child who otherwise has no-one. Of course, such children tend to be troubled and difficult, but you are obviously the kind of person who is a giver and carer.

       So, if you really want to have a second child because you want a second child, then go for it. But don't have one for Michael's sake. He can be all right by himself, or miserable and socially awkward. He can be happy with a younger sibling, or suffer from jealousy and competition all his life. We can't second-guess the future.

    Hope this helps you,

    Interracial pregnancy

       I'm 26 years old, I am 9 weeks pregnant and happy about the pregnancy. I'm white, my boyfriend is black...he is also happy. My parents have always been against interracial relationships so I've kept my relationship from them, because I felt once I told them they would want me out of their lives. I told my mom 2 days ago that I am pregnant and that my boyfriend is black. She said she was shocked and embarrassed by me, I need to have an abortion. I told her that was not an option, we both want the baby. She started crying, asking didn't I care what her family and friends would think. I left their house and my mom called me 2 hours later to ask if I was ok and to tell me that she told my dad and he is also disappointed and embarrassed by me. I know my boyfriend and I can raise this baby in a loving and stable home.

       How can I get my parents to look past our races and accept the pregnancy and the baby when he/she gets here?


    My dear,

       I feel proud and honored to be able to respond to your question, and in that way have at least a marginal association with you. You are very brave people, and may God support you and be with you during your life's journey.

       You and your boyfriend have chosen a rocky road for yourselves, but then that's the lot of all brave pioneers. Throughout the ages, in every place, it has been people like you who have changed the world for the better.

       It is not even only a question of black and white. Think of Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile, Serb and Croat, all the many other ways people have artificially divided themselves into "us" and "them" and then despised and hated the other group. The only thing that can break down such barriers is your tool, and also God's tool: LOVE.

       Your tragedy has been immortalized by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.

       Right now there is another couple you can draw inspiration from. He is Palestinian, she is Israeli. They are married, but neither of their governments recognize the marriage. They are continuously harassed and persecuted, but are standing firm.

       But Love goes beyond the relationship between man and woman. Do you know the story of why Gandhi was assassinated? This was in 1948, when a bitter civil war raged in India between Muslim and Hindu. Gandhi was addressing a crowd of 3000 Hindus. He asked, "Suppose your beloved little son has been killed by Muslims. What should you do?"

       Calls for vengeance came from the crowd.

       "No," he said. "Find a little Muslim boy of the same age, both of whose parents have been killed by Hindus. Take him into your family, give him your love -- and raise him as a good Muslim."

       For this, he was killed. And yet, he was right. That Israeli-Palestinian couple are right. Juliet and Romeo were right. You are right.

       You can carry on the work of Love by being committed to each other and to your child, by indeed giving that new person a loving and stable home, by continuing to be good people.


       It is possible that once you have your beautiful little chocolate baby, your family will soften and give their acceptance. A lot depends on what their background is, the social atmosphere and traditions where they live, the rigidity among their friends, business contacts and so on.

       It is possible that some or all of your family will reject you, and cast you out for life. Or they may do so at the start, and then relent in time. Time can be a great healer.

       If and when some of them are open to discussion, you can pass on a few facts from me:

    * The genetic difference between black and white Americans is very small. You can choose a black person from Africa and a person from, say, Sweden, who look almost identical, except for the skin color. I have seen matched pairs of photographs in a text book on social psychology.

    * The genes governing skin color have no other role to play. They do not influence intelligence, personality or anything else. People are just people who vary in many different ways.

    * The main and almost only difference between black and white Americans is culture. That of black people involves a long history of being the victims of discrimination, exploitation and cruelty. All the negative aspects you so often see are the symptoms of victimization. Black people are then despised for suffering from these symptoms.

    * People of every group do both good and bad things. This includes your boyfriend's people -- and your parents'. Both cultures have wonderful traditions, which have enriched American society.

    * Everyone, always, has choices. You are going to choose the BEST from both traditions, and reject the bad.

    * And there is always the message I started with. The way to improve the world is through love.


    I'm very interested in how things turn out for you. Maybe, in a year or two, you might be able to send me an email and let me know.

    Give an hour to a veteran

       Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop a national network of volunteers capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society. We are initially focusing on U.S. troops and families who are being affected by the current military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Large numbers of our veterans are returning home from Iraq finding that they must cope with a wide range of psychological difficulties. We have an opportunity to prevent a national tragedy and we have the obligation and the resources to do so.

       We are creating a national network of mental health professionals who will literally give an hour of their time each week to provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families. In this way, we will support the sacrifices they are making and ameliorate the difficulties they face.

       We are asking all mental health providers to join this critical effort. Professionals are being asked to provide the type of services they currently provide in their offices. No additional training is required. We are asking them to participate in our network for one year in order to provide continuity of care for these deserving families. Those individuals who receive services from the Give an Hour network will be given the opportunity to give back to their own communities.

       If you are a licensed mental health professional, please visit our Web site to sign up for our national network and to learn more about our organization. We also welcome volunteers who want to join us in developing and implementing this project.

       Please share our Web site with your friends and colleagues. Thank you. Sincerely, Barbara V. Romberg (

    I would like to see a similar venture in Australia, and in other countries with people exposed to war.

    For writers

    Effective description by Will Greenway
    Don't bother with Booksurge

    Effective Description
    by Will Greenway

    I have reproduced Will's excellent instructional essays before, and have his open permission to do so. The material below is extracted from a much longer article.

    Good description:

       1. Does not stop the story. This is probably the single most important feature--that it is integrated with and in synch with the rest of narrative. This does not mean the description is short--but that the description does its job and moves on without additional unnecessary fanfare.

       2. Is evocative and visceral. An effective description will engage at both an intellectual and physical level. It will communicate what it feels, smells, and sounds like; taste too if appropriate. Specifically, the description should channel through the viewpoint character, NOT THE AUTHOR. When you the author are writing it.... YOU should be imagining what you would sense/feel and transpose that on the viewpoint character adjusting for their perceptions and understanding of the world.

       3. Is integrated with character--This is an extension of item 2. Stories are about people and from the viewpoint of people. Therefore descriptions should be THROUGH the viewpoint of whoever is currently narrating. Omniscient narrators don’t feel emotions or have sensory registers, therefore they make the weakest most distant camera lenses through which to view your story. Avoid their use altogether if you can. Additionally, the best descriptions of the world tell us something about the character viewing them, revealing something about their personality.

       4. It should be dynamic rather than static--Descriptions should be sneaky and integrated with what the characters are doing. Instead of describing the verdant green hills with their tall trees, describe the characters picking through the trees, the long green grass lapping at their feet and filling the air with musky scent of vegetation. One description is like a painting on the wall, the other is like being IN the painting.

       5. It should set the tone--set/mesh with emotional tone of the story. If the mood is dark and somber then the details, colors, and word choices should match that tone.

       So, in quick summary, effective description is:

       1. Indistinguishable from the rest of the narrative

       2. Evocative and visceral

       3. Through a character viewpoint

       4. Dynamic

       5. Reflective of the story’s current mood and tone.

       If you have any questions about this or any other writing topic send email to with the word 'WRITING:' anywhere in the subject.

    Don't bother with Booksurge

       I've self-published one of my books, using Booksurge as the printer, because this book had contributors from 4 countries, and at that time Booksurge printed in all 4.

       Then Amazon bought Booksurge.

       Now, it is a strictly US company. They have revoked all international contracts, and refuse to bend in any way over any matter.

       Since I cannot accept US checks, for example, my choice is to have my account with them terminated, or to have my account with them terminated.


    What my friends would like you to know

    Free sustainability magazines for your community group or school!
    Darrell Bain's March newsletter
    Interview with 8-year-old author
    Margaret's film star granddaughter!
    How to do it frugally web site for writers
    Free contest, valuable prizes
    Wall of words to help children
    A new publisher

    Alternative Technology Association

       ReNew magazine provides information on a variety of ways to save water and energy around the home and garden.

    ReNew   Features in ReNew include: greywater recycling, how to save energy (and power costs) around the home, sustainable home renovations, buyers’ guides to purchasing rainwater tanks, Green Power, insulation, solar hot water systems and much, much more.

       If you would like free back issues for your school, charity or community group, please contact the ATA (Alternative Technology Association) on (03) 9639 1500, email:

       The ATA is Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation for promoting sustainable technology and practice in order to protect our environment. With branches and members around Australia and New Zealand, ATA provides practical information and expertise, based on our members’ hands-on experience. For more on the ATA including advocacy work, projects on energy and water conservation and the publications Sanctuary and ReNew, please visit:

    This offer is for within Australia only.

    Darrell Bain

    Hi Folks--

       My March newsletter is now up at Some topics are how you can get free books from me, age and love, biggest fan, early bird gene and more.

    Thanks for reading.
    Darrell Bain. Fictionwise 2005 Author of the Year.
    See for all my books.

    Sara Webb Quest

    I just included my interview with Clementines author Sarah Pennypacker at my site Clementine is a rambunctious eight year-old who does hilarious (though well-intentioned) stunts. My interview-article with Pennypacker includes how the book helps grown-ups support a high-energy child.

       And speaking of, I have wonderful new images of my Ayla. This is a pic I took of Jason (Ayla’s daddy) with her.

       If you ever wanted to write a book or are a major teen-book fan, you must check-out my interview with the amazing Niki Burnham.

       While on the subject of kids, I must mention how my cousin Amy’s twelve year-old daughter Bethany wrote a middle-grade book called “Wild Country: Book One – Beyond Wild Dreams.” It’s a fantasy about Wild, an ambitious young filly, and a special little girl named Larayne. The story starts when Wild follows her herd’s leader, Aspen, to a secret meeting place for the herd and three other herds. Things go array when Aspen is attacked by a cougar. It is up to Wild to find help. Amazing events follow when Wild is captured by humans, and the magical young Larayne sets Wild free.

       Bethany’s story combines meticulous geographical detail with well-drawn characters. (Basically, the book blew me away and should find an excellent publisher one day. Thanks, Dad, for passing the manuscript onto me!)

       Which brings me to another children’s book -- though for a younger set. I’ve always been a fan of Edward Gorey’s strange (gory/creepy) illustrations. Here is the modern, brighter, and funnier (?) version.

    Lotsa Love,

    Margaret Hargrave


       Our family have attended the premiere of the mockumentary Razzle Dazzle: A Journey into Dance, in which Clancy Ryan (eldest daughter of Samantha, my eldest daughter!) is one of the two juvenile leads. She certainly does more than Leo Sayer!!! Clancy's red carpet appearance (unbelievable--MY grand-daughter!!) is at 8. [annoying bragging, I know... but we are so proud of her. The kids' work in this film was completely unscripted.]

       The film goes into cinemas on 15th March. Please go and see it. I saw a preview a couple of weeks ago and it is hilarious.

       It was screened at the Berlin Festival about 10 days ago.

    Margaret Hargrave (annoying bragging grandma of Miss Clancy Jessica Ryan)

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

       Award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson presents her new website just in time for the launch of her new book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. The HowToDoItFrugally site features the author, her literary work and how-to books, but it is also designed to give both readers and writers information they want and need.

       Of particular interest to the editors of websites, blogs, e-zines and newsletters is the "Free Articles 4 Writers and Editors" page where Howard-Johnson regularly posts articles on writing, book reviews, and essays. General readers will appreciate the "Links for Readers" page that not only lists books by category but also websites that specialize in reviews to help readers select their reading and reference materials. A similar page for writers lists resources writers need for everything from tekky stuff to book promotion to writers' conferences and tradeshows.

       Howard-Johnson was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment this year by the 43rd and 44th District of the California Legislature Her first novel, This is the Place, and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, are both multiple award winners. She speaks frequently, is an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers' Program and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

       The author's first book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't is the first in the HowToDoItFrugally series. It was named USA Book News' Best Professional Book and given the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award.

       On, visitors will find a media room, downloadable media kits and even information on Authors' Coalition, an organization the author founded.

        (Photos, book cover art and a full media kit are available electronically or by post upon request.)



       If you will go to, you will see a page that gets me new friends all the time. Bookswelove runs free contests. As far as I can see, there is one going on every day of the year. There are REAL prizes. I know, for I donate some of them. And anyone who signs my guest book gets a free short story. Check it out.

    Wall of words to help children

       A British web site is raising money for children. You can help, and it won't cost you a cent. Just go to and put a suitable word in the wall they are building. I chose 'hope', to be told that 189 other people had done so already. Maybe you can be more original.

       But please hurry: their deadline is the 31st of March, 2007.

    Long Story Short

       Long Story Short, Inc., parent company to Long Story Short, an ezine for writers, and Long Story Short School of Writing, now in its second year, announces the formation of an online publishing company -- Long Story Short Publishing Company.

       LSS Writing School began offering many courses in e-book format this past fall. As the demand grew, so did the e-bookstore. With many writers interested in having their work published and marketed by LSS, it was only a logical next step to create LSS Publishing Company.

       Before the doors opened, LSS had dozens of e-books in their bookstore and others lining up outside the door. The inventory includes a dozen writing courses, some terrific history books for young people, many great romance novels and mysteries. A few fantasy books have made their way onto the shelves along with a cookbook, a few short story anthologies and some how-tos.

       LSS will publish many books others won't touch -- cookbooks, textbooks and other difficult to produce volumes. They boast that their pricing is the best in the online marketplace. Visit their new website: LSS has not broached the Print on Demand market at this point, but may consider that aspect of publishing in the future.

       Long Story Short, Inc. is now in its fourth year with an ezine, writing school, a Writers' Lodge where writers can join a growing group of authors with a personal webpage that includes bio, photo, published work, a blog and much more more!

       For more information, contact Denise Cassino or Linda Barnett-Johnson.


    Sleeper, Awake reviewed by Carolyn Harris
    A response to Ron Peters
    Footprints in the Snow
    Blue Diamonds by Spencer Dane, reviewed by Greg Cason

    Sleeper, Awake
    reviewed by Carolyn Harris

       Have just finished Sleeper Awake, and loved it... I always like your characters, they are clear and clean and easy to understand. Even your baddies are people I want to know about, as so often happens in stories.

       I think your aspect of the Brave New World is such a heartening idea, that I really do hope you are right in your surmising. Gawd! It would be something utterly mind blowing to see a 200 metre high wave heading for one, wouldn't it? One may as well stand there and be amazed until it is over, like that fellow on the beach in Indonesia that was captured on film.

       Interesting how you handled the geological changes too, can see how Russia and Asia could crumple down and Japan rise up. Would be a hard life for some generations!

       Enjoyed how all mundane things were taken care of so other things could be given precedence... I think letting the men take on challenges to show the women how good their genes were was a wonderful notion, it is what they do best really, and why not? I loved it tho when one of the women said, "Lovely to meet you, but haven't time at the moment to hear your credentials," or words to that effect.

       What an experience for Flora before she handed on, something she would never have imagined when she went to sleep.

       Good thinking too with the love making, all pleasure and no mess!

       Now I must hunt up your other books -- have never been interested in sci fi or off Earth stories before, never liked the 'monsters' who all seemed so unreal in their 'evil ways'. Looked ugly and made no sense. Preferred your baddies in the other story I read with the little tri legged green people being the goodies and the humans being bad! That I could relate to.

       Hope you are keeping well and out of mischief...

    Carolyn Harris

    Carolyn writes about herself: "All my life I have been a keen reader, although as other things like children and work interfered with my reading I had to learn there were necessary priorities. Nowadays I am retired, and once again can take up a novel and indulge myself without fear of guilt that I should be ‘attending my duties’ -– this is bliss."

    An anonymous response to Ron Peters

    Last issue, Ron Peters reviewed my e-book Woodworking for Idiots Like Me. Someone with an almost identical sense of humour/humor wanted to reply without being identified.

    Dear Bob. I thought that review of your woodworking book by that upstart American writer certainly missed the mark: Namely, that your eBook uses the King's English. How any Yank could poke fun at such words as dunny hole and cuppa, when their bastardized and convoluted language now requires its own dictionary, is beyond me.

       For example, who could ever guess the meaning of phrases like, "she's a fox," or "I liked it--not!" or "that's cool," or even "you're shitting me." Really, what a barbarian linguistic process.

       No matter, Dr. Bob. We love you, and we love your book. It's cool...ah, right grand.

    Anonymous :o)

    Footprints in the Snow
    by Jim Choron


       Readers of past issues will know Dr James Choron well for his many contributions. This remarkable American has been a journalist in Russia for many years, and thinks of himself as a bridge between the two cultures. He is now delighted to announce the release of his book Footprints in the Snow: Tales of Haunted Russia. This is NOT a book review, in that I have not read the book in full, and the text below is the publisher's blurb, not my assessment. However, I have read many excerpts from it, and you will find some fascinating samples in past issues.

    PUBLISHER: Zumaya Publications LLC
    GENRE: Body/Mind/Spirit/Parapsychology/General
    FORMAT: Trade paperback, $14.99; ebook, $6.99
    ISBN: 978-1-934135-06-8, paperback; 978-1-934135-07-5, ebook

       She is Mother Russia, the largest nation in the world, and her turbulent history has left her filled with restless spirits. Footprints in the Snow is a collection of true and documented stories of the paranormal from Russia and Eastern Europe. Excerpts in shorter and less detailed form have been published in numerous Russian and English language publications, primarily through the Illya Resink Library Collection and in various local magazines and newspapers along with such prestigious US and UK publications as "Fate" and "Phenomenon" Magazines.

       Footprints in the Snow: True Stories of Haunted Russia is a reporter's view of documentable paranormal incidents. The stories are told through the eyes of a professional skeptic, one who does not “see ghosts behind every tree.” Statistically, more than 96% of all such stories turn out to be quite natural in origin. There are exceptions.

       The stories in this collection have all been thoroughly investigated and documented. These are not the high profile cases you hear about all the time. Most of them are little known outside their immediate area and only 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. They are interesting and informative reading and entertaining. These are true reports of actual happenings presented in a way that leaves it to the reader to decide the cause of these "footprints in the snow."


       My apartment building is located just across the street from an elementary school and kindergarten that have served our community for more than seventy years. Here in Russia, this isn’t unusual. The school was part of Lenin’s first Five-Year Plan, and was one of the more successful parts.

       Late at night, long after the school is closed and completely empty, we can hear children laughing and playing in the playground. It lasts for about five minutes -- a relatively long time; but when you look out the window you see nothing. There are no children there.

       Everyone in the building is used to this. It happens several times a year, and it’s gone on for decade. So has what follows.

       After about five minutes, there is a high-pitched, screeching sound, followed by an explosion. Then sound of children playing turns to screams, and then stops.


       James L. Choron is a journalist and writer living in Mamontovka, a suburb of Moscow. He has resided in the Russian Federation for more than sixteen years, and is a former senior executive with the Eastman Kodak Company. He is currently owner and Chief Executive Officer of Old Guard Productions, a company dealing in motion picture and television logistics and properties, and American Business Training, a company which deals with sales and customer service training for Russian companies seeking to introduce Western business practices and standards. Born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in the small East Texas town of Center, he holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Stephen F. Austin State University and a masters and PhD from Moscow State University in the same subject as well as a graduate degree in optical engineering. A working journalist for slightly more than thirty-five years, he has columns in numerous publications in both Russia and the United States. He has numerous hobbies, primarily related to paranormal and historical research, both of which he has been involved for over twenty years. He has published a number of independent articles on paranormal encounters and activities and on historical topics, and is a staff member on several online publications and forums dealing with history and the paranormal.

    Blue Diamonds by Spencer Dane
    reviewed by Greg Cason

       Author Spencer Dane doesn’t waste any time getting the plot rolling in Blue Diamonds. Zachary Taylor, the protagonist, is a complicated hero who would rather spend a quiet evening listening to classical music than participate in a shoot out. Naturally, this fast-paced story doesn’t allow Zach his wish. Blue Diamonds follows the trail of a dozen rare diamonds stolen from Greek Jews during the Holocaust. The diamonds weave their way around Zach, a powerful mafia don, a corrupt Congressman, a beautiful and mysterious diamond broker, and Zach’s former girlfriend--an investigative reporter who will do almost anything to get her story, maybe even endanger Zach! It’s a great story with plenty of action, intrigue and unexpected plot twists.

       The characters are well drawn and avoid the clichés so common in this genre. Zach, while being a highly-trained and very lethal man, is deeply religious and truly doesn’t like to kill. At one point in the book, he notices that a dead hit man he shot is Catholic and he calls in a priest to perform last rites. The book is tightly plotted. Besides Zach and his partner Sabrina, it’s hard to tell the complete agendas of the other major characters. And just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the plot throws you another curve ball.

       In summary, the book is well written. It’s a fun read with lots of good characters, not a single word of profanity, solid core values, and an engaging plot. It was hard not to finish it in one sitting.

    Greg Cason,
    Another victim of applied metaphysics.

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