Bobbing Around

Volume Nine, Number Six
March, 2010

Bob Rich's (purple) rave  other issues


*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Deeper issues
*For writers
*What my friends want you to know

   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.

Through the first stage!

   With climate change in the news, I have done a new revision of Sleeper, Awake, the winner of the 2001 EPPIE Award for Science Fiction.

   'Science prediction' would be a more accurate description of this book. Although the story is set 1500 years in the future, it is very much about our times. Their long-past history is our guaranteed near future -- not the details of course, but the essentials. Events like the idiocy at Copenhagen ensure that.

   In Sleeper, Awake , I have designed the perfect society for humans. This means that it is definitely NOT a utopia, but full of challenges and heartache. That's because challenges and heartache are necessary for human contentment. (Yes I know, but all truth is paradox.)

   Like all writing should be, Sleeper, Awake is about human emotion. Read this little snippet:

       A sudden, loud booming noise made his head turn to the right. Ahead and about a hundred meters further out, a huge, blue-black shape surged out of the sea, rising far above Tamás's five meter height. Up, up the great whale soared, then the boy noted with horror that several smaller, but still very large shapes were attached on to her: to her tail, to a fin, to the end of the great sail on her back. These creatures were marked with black and white spots.

       The whale turned at the top of her rise, and plunged head first back into the sea. A great plume of foam arose, marking her disappearance. Oh, the poor thing! Tamás thought, and changed direction toward the spot. By the time he got there, he could see no sign of the prey, or the pack of hunters. Saddened, he turned south once more.

       Artif said, "Darling, that's life. Those orcas were hunting. They need food as much as you do."

       "Surely, you're right. But that great, intelligent creature, to have to suffer like that!"

       "We have no right to interfere in the workings of nature."

       With his mind, he knew she was right. All the same, he wished he could have done something to help the whale, the victim, the sufferer. Sadly he traveled on, under the ever-wetting curtain of fine rain.

       After perhaps another period, the gray world turned pink. First a wide, upwardly facing red sliver of a circle poked below the low clouds of the horizon. Soon, this sank into the sea, so that now a wide strip of fire with circular edges spanned sea and sky, at the edge of vision. A low-flying bright pink blanket lay low over a bright pink sea. A huge, brilliant double rainbow appeared, flying along with Tamás as he rhythmically rose and fell above the waves. He could not take his eyes from it, until he got a crick in his neck from looking to the side. The rainbow and its rosy background disappeared as the topmost tip of the sun drowned in the sea, but in his mind's eye the boy saw it for long after.

       He flew on for a while, then ordered the camp down into the water. He landed on the flattened top, had a hot meal and a drink of chocken, then he tied on and settled for sleep. He turned himself face down, above the floating camp, in order to minimize the discomfort from the continuous drizzle.

       He couldn't sleep for a long time, being kept awake by warring images of a rainbow sunset and a tortured whale, Nature at Her best and worst.

   The good news is that the book's publisher, Double Dragon e-books, is offering it at a price too low to resist, but only from their web site. And if you email me proof of purchase, you can have any of my other electronic titles for free.

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.

Humanitarian issues

A bit of help in Zambia
Haiti earthquake from Sue Hornbach

A bit of help in Zambia

   For several months now, I've had a friend I'll never meet. She is Nasilele Lieneno, a 22-year-old orphan in Zambia. She is the eldest of five, and needs to keep her four brothers alive and put them through school.

   At first, I gave her encouragement and advice, until I satisfied myself that Nasilele is a real person, not a scammer or phishser. I referred her on to Kiva, which is a micro-lending organisation. Unfortunately, Kiva works through "field partners," and there is none of those in Zambia.

   Despite very good school results, and an excellent knowedge of English. Nasilele has found it very difficult to find work, because of the poverty of the country. She would like to set up a poultry farm, but in fact it is hard enough for her to pay the rent and buy food, never mind invest in a business.

   So, I have sent her a Christmas present, and so has Kora, another email friend. Mind you, this wasn't easy. Paypal doesn't allow money to be sent to Zambia (though, strangely, Zambians are allowed to send money to other countries). Any other form of sending money costs.

   Can you spare a small amount of money, say $5? Send it to via Paypal, earmarked for Nasilele. When a reasonable sum has accumulated, I'll send it on via Western Union.

   Why should you help?

   Nasilele is attractive. If she chose to, she could earn the money she and her brothers need through prostitution. However, she is a highly moral, decent person who is horrified by the idea.

   There is terrorism in the world, and hate wars, because of poverty. If you lived in a desperately poor country, you would be ripe for subversion by those who look to violence. The way to fight for a peaceful, sustainable planet is to create a just planet.

   The smallest step in the right direction counts. You and I, we can't change the world in general. but we can change the world of a few particular people.

   Send along whatever you won't miss. Western Union will take $22 of it. The rest will go to Nasilele and her brothers.

Haiti earthquake
from Sue Hornbach This is the link to the Lambi Foundation for Haiti. These are the people of the recent Earthquake. Please forward this to everyone you know and ask them to pray for the victims of the Earthquake. It is horrible devastation there. My friend's family is maybe trapped somewhere under the rubble, as she has not heard from them yet. Please, say prayers for these people, and if possible send a donation.

   I would like to start a prayer chain around the world, so ask all who you know, to pray.

Thank you, hugs from Sue

Susan Hornbach, invites you to follow:
The Write Voice Continues to Speak
Links for Writers, Children's writers, Teachers, Parents, and Children


Safe Climate Bill
Bolivia's President speaks out on climate change

Safe Climate Bill

   The Australian Greens have put together a collection of legislation that, if accepted, would make a huge difference to Australia's contribution to fighting climate change. If these laws were copied by all the overpolluting countries. we could defer disaster long enough to allow some protection.

   Not that it has a chance of being passed by the two conservative parties...

Bolivia's President speaks out on climate change

   Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, announced a conference in the city of Cochabamba from 19th to 22nd April, 2010. The 22nd of April is the International Day of Mother Earth.

   This World Summit for Climate Change is a world conference of social movements, in response to the failure of the governmental one at Copenhagen to achieve anything meaningful.

   Morales said, "Cochabamba will be the scenario for diverse social movements to discuss the consequences global warming, how we harm our environment and every single hazard jeopardizing planet Earth."

   Morales stated that industrialised nations are obsessed with the idea of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, which is a huge threat against mankind's survival. He is right. And when he is talking about survival, he means yours, personally.

   Morales called for the participation of scholars, experts, social organizations and heads of state. "Our main goal is to reach a consensus so as to move forward to the next Summit on Climate Change, to be held in Mexico on 2011."

   Nothing short of a global war footing will do to prevent the catastrophic death of billions. It is wonderful that at least one Head of State can see this.



Hydro power for Vanuatu island
Roundup-ready environment?
IPCC's 2007 estimates exceeded

Hydro power for Vanuatu island

   Chris McGrath, a student at the University of NSW, has made a huge difference to the lives of people of Imaki, a small community on the southern coast of Tanna Island, Vanuatu. For his research thesis, he investigated options for environmentally sound electricity generation, and found that their water supply could be used as a mini-hydro scheme. He inspired engineering consulting firm Cundall, which specialises in sustainable design. They funded the entire cost of the scheme.

   Cundall has past links with Tanna Island, and intends to continue its support.


Roundup-ready environment?

   Researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada have identified transgenic DNA in a field of genetically modified "Roundup Ready" corn.


   The persistence and movement of transgenic DNA in agricultural and natural systems is largely unknown. This movement poses a threat of horizontal gene transfer and possible proliferation of genetically modified DNA into the general environment. To assess the persistence of transgenic DNA in a field of Roundup Ready corn, we quantified the presence of the transgene for glyphosate tolerance within a soil food web. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we identified the cp4 epsps transgene in bulk soil microarthropods, nematodes, macroarthropods and earthworms sampled within the corn cropping system. We found evidence of the transgene at all dates and in all animal groups. Transgenic DNA concentration in animal was significantly higher than that of background soil, suggesting the animals were feeding directly on transgenic plant material. It remains to be tested whether this DNA was still within the plant residues, present as free, extracellular DNA or had already undergone genetic transformation into competent bacterial cells. These results are the first to demonstrate the persistence of transgenic crop DNA residues within a food web.

The full report is available for online viewing or as a free PDF.

IPCC's 2007 estimates exceeded

   A team at the University of New South Wales has assembled information for updating the 1007 IPCC estimates on climate change. The evidence is scary: things are far worse than predicted 3 years ago.

   This is entirely in accordance with what I've been saying for decades. All I can say now is, it's not my fault.

   Read a full account.


Culture is good for your health

Culture is good for your health

   If you paint, dance or play a musical instrument -- or just enjoy going to the theatre or to concerts -- it's likely that you feel healthier and are less depressed than people who don't, a survey of nearly 50,000 individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds from a county in mid-Norway shows.

   The findings are drawn from the latest round of studies conducted for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Nord-Tr¿ndelag Health Study, or HUNT, which used questionnaires, interviews, clinical examinations and the collection of blood and urine samples to assemble detailed health profiles of 48,289 participants.

   "There is a positive relationship between cultural participation and self-perceived health for both women and men, "says Professor Jostein Holmen, a HUNT researcher who presented the findings, which have not yet been published, at a Norwegian health conference in Stj¿rdal in late November. "For men, there is also a positive relationship between cultural participation and depression, in that there is less depression among men who participate in cultural activities, although this is not true for women."

   But what surprised the medical researcher was that these findings held true no matter the individual's socio-economic status -- whether truck driver or bank president, participating in some way in the arts, theatre or music, as player or participant, had a positive effect on that individual's sense of health and well-being.

   That's good news for Steinar Larsen, managing director of the Trondheim Soloists, a renowned string orchestra that plays in both Norway and abroad. "To contribute to and to be involved with a positive cultural experience is extremely energizing", Larsen says. "That it has now been documented more than ever before that the experience has such a positive effect on health ought to contribute to a greater focus on cultural experiences. We in the Trondheim Soloists always try to ensure that each concert provides a positive overall experience for people, and we work with the belief that what we are doing has a positive and healthy effect."

   The new findings were controlled for socioeconomic status, chronic illness, social capital, smoking and alcohol. However, Holmen also reported that the same sense of well-being in people who participate in cultural activities that seemed to protect them from depression did not appear to have the same beneficial effect on anxiety.

   Holmen cautioned that the association between health and cultural activities is not strong enough to enable him to say that culture actually makes people healthy. Nevertheless, the researcher says the findings ought to challenge politicians to think differently about health. Steinar Krokstad, HUNT's director and an associate professor at NTNU, agreed.

   "We in the health services do not always have control over the most effective preventive tools given the range of today's illnesses. We need to increasingly focus on opportunities rather than on risk," Krokstad said.

Deeper Issues

Dolphins are people too

Dolphins are people too

   I've said it before: cetaceans are of sufficient intelligence that killing them is murder, eating them is cannibalism. A recent report in The Times by Jonathan Leake cites yet more evidence. For example, dolphins can recognise themselves in a mirror, have distinct personalities and a strong sense of self. They are able to teach each other new behaviour patterns.

   Read the whole report.

   While these studies focus on the bottlenose dolphin, very similar facts apply to all cetaceans, including the whales the Japanese murder "for research purposes." You might see fit to make a donation to the Sea Shepherd organisation.


Your answer speaks to me
Angry with my younger boyfriend
I hate myself
So angry!
My brain tells me to kill myself

Your answer speaks to me


   My name is Lynette, I'm 24 years old and I live in Florida. I was searching the web because I need help. I was reading what other people were saying about their problems and I found a page where this young lady writes to you and you respond. I couldn't believe what I was reading because it felt like whoever wrote that massage was talking about me.

   This is what it said:

   I know I'm not a bad person, I have love for others. People tell me I have a good heart and I know I do, it's just that sometimes I cannot control myself and I explode. I don't want to do that anymore. I hurt the person I love and at the end it makes me feel worse than garbage.

   Do you think you can help me? Please.

   I want to change, I'm ready.

Lynette my dear,

   I don't have information enough to look at the causes: what lies behind your anger. This is work that you must do, by yourself or aided by a suitable helper such as a local psychologist.

   However it arose, now your pattern is a habit. Habits can be broken. Read

   If you want to understand how anger works, and learn some tools for handling it, spend less than $5 on my e-book Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias.

   In addition, here is a secret. Your thoughts, emotions, urges, feelings are not real. They are only inner events within your consciousness. They only become real if you believe them to be, and act on them. When you feel like punching someone, that doesn't become anything bad until and unless you act on it. It feels like a command, but is only an invitation.

   Of course, once you are in a rage, it's too strong to do anything about it. However, in my book I tell you how you can develop an "early warning system" so you can switch off the anger and deal with it, before you even have an angry thought in your head.

   Going beyond controlling this distressing problem, you can work at changing your view of the world, and your place in it. Certain situations trigger your anger. Start a little diary for recording what they are, and then think about what invited your anger in each situation. Then ask yourself, "Is my way of looking at this reasonable?"

   The answer may sometimes be yes. Then ask, "How else can I cause a change so that I remove the injustice/stupidity/whatever?"

   If it is no, then the follow-up question is, "What would be a more reasonable way to react to this?"

   I know you can do it.


Angry with my younger boyfriend

   I just read an article you wrote and wanted to get your advice as to what you feel I should do regarding my anger. I am in a relationship with a guy who is fifteen years younger than me. We currently moved in together and we do love each other. His mother does not approve, but they live in another state and I have never met her and don't intend to since I know how she feels. My boyfriend said that he told her over the Thanksgiving holiday (he went down to visit them) how he felt about me and she has not said a word about us since.

   Well, that is just a little bit of the story. In recent months I find myself starting fights with my boyfriend over stupid things. I get so angry that I cannot control what I say. I have threatened to move out on several occasions too. I KNOW that I have this everlasting feeling that we have to eventually end our relationship due to the age difference so sometimes I think since I do love him so much now that I am trying to sabotage us, without even trying to or realizing it.

   He keeps telling me he loves me and he keeps putting up with my anger tantrums. But I do not want to lose him due to them. He is 25 and I am 40. I just feel that he will eventually want children and I know that I do not want any more. I have one son who just turned 20 and I do not wish to have children at my age. Please Please Please give me some suggestions on what I should do. I don't like to be angry and it just started happening in the last two months. I have known him over a year now.

   I feel that I get so upset and angry and cannot control my emotions. I scream and cuss at him and I can't stand when I hurt him. I never want to be around his friends because they are so young and I just feel so out of place around them. Yet, he will be around mine and usually with no problem. I just flipped out on him Christmas night because he said to my son he was going to this bar that his friend is playing guitar and singing at (where a lot of his young friends are going to be). He had mentioned to me that he wanted to go but we never made "plans" to go there. So, when he told my son he was going, I just looked at him and said "oh you are huh"? and he said yes. I immediately felt rage go through my body. I left the room to try and regroup and not ruin Christmas for him and my son and his girlfriend, but I just could not control it. I called him in the bedroom, started screaming at him, took my son and his girlfriend home and went to my mom's (who is in Georgia now so I was there alone). I could not control myself . It was such rage. I couldn't believe that he would say he was going out on New Year's Eve without me. So I flipped.

   Then with a ton of texts and a few phone calls he talked me into coming back home. I did and we lay down together and watched a movie. I just KNOW that I am ruining our relationship and I don't know what to do. Are my feelings of our age difference making me react the way I am without even realizing it? Should I end the relationship based on my feelings? Do you think that I need some sort of medication for my anger?? Other than that, I am a very social and likeable person. I have a lot of friends and usually have a great time. I would appreciate your opinion on my situation. I read a lot of articles about anger but your article is the one who hit home with me the most. Thank you.

Dear Michelle,

   I think you are a very perceptive person. You've put your finger on it: at some level, unconsciously, you are sabotaging the relationship because you feel it is doomed anyway.

   Your young man doesn't think so. Some guys have a deep inner need to relate to older women. He may be genuinely unattracted to girls his own age.

   Some cultures have a "line family," in which the family goes on, with alternating genders marrying into it, about a generation apart. East coast Australian Aboriginals had this beautiful custom. When you were about to be married into a family, you chose a baby of the opposite gender, whose lineage was just right (to avoid inbreeding). Thereafter, you were a very important person in the child's life, and by the time the child was of marriageable age, the two of you were very close. Then of course you married, had children, and the new partner went to find the next one, who'd just have been born.

   People in such a culture were not at all interested in potential sexual partners of the same age. So, maybe your partner is a throwback to such a culture? :)

   Whatever, he loves you enough to put up with your tantrums. So, the feelings of inadequacy that lead to the jealousy are not founded on reality.

   Michelle, if you look at the information about climate change, you will come to the conclusion that we don't have to worry too much about 20 years from now. Each day that civilization lasts is a gift. I am pretty sure there will be a tomorrow, and quite a few tomorrows after that... but for how long?

   Suppose you looked in a magic crystal and knew that you had exactly 5 years to live (or pick a figure). Would you want to spend it in this loving relationship?

   If you choose to live in the moment because that's all we ever have, you will stop the underneath thoughts of the kind "In 10 years' time I'll be a wrinkled old hag and he won't even want to look at me," and just enjoy him NOW, right this minute.

   In the meantime, you have a new habit, of flaring up in anger. Buy me e-book Anger and Anxiety, which has a lot of tools for changing this.


I hate myself


   I'm a 19 years old girl from Algeria.

   My name is K...

   And I hate myself. I hate myself so much that I would like to snatch my heart out of my chest with my own hands.

   Unfortunately for me I can't commit suicide because I'm Muslim.

   But I'm always depressed and that is due to my childhood.

   When I was young my parents used to argue a lot. They even used knife and acid, each trying to kill the other one.

   It wasn't very nice to see. But due to that I developed many diseases. When they used to fight I always felt like the major cause of that.

   I felt useless. That my life didn't have any meaning. It was then that I started working hard to make them proud of me. But they were stones. They didn't care. So I stopped having good marks.

   But I still hate myself and cry over my existence every day. I also hate being in public. And I don't have friends.

Thank you

My dear K,

   When you were a little girl, your parents did awful things to each other. They were angry, and hurting, and completely involved in their own misery, so that they had no emotional energy left over for anyone else, not even their children. They hated each other, and probably hated themselves, so there was no room in their hearts for love.

   This was THEIR problem. How could it have been your fault?

   Do you know any small children? How much ability does a child have to exercise responsibility?

   Even if you had been the worst child in the world, if your parents had been decent people, they would not have acted badly toward each other. They would have been a team in an effort to help their child to overcome bad behavior.

   And even if you had been the best child in the world, what power could you possibly have exercised to stop them from fighting? Little children have no such power.

   You were not the cause of their fighting. If you had never been born, they would have been fighting anyway. It was their problem, not yours.

   So, please, stop blaming yourself for the evil they have done. It is their responsibility, and you are blameless.

   You tried to buy their love by doing well at school. But they didn't show you the love you wanted, so you stopped trying.

   Probably, they did love you, and probably they love you still. But they are damaged by hate. They were not able to give you love because they hate themselves, and cannot give love to anyone. Again, this is not because there are shortcomings in you, but is their problem.

   Also, studying in school is not something you do for somebody else, but for yourself. If you get good marks, this is an indication that you have built knowledge and skills and even wisdom. This is for you, to base the rest of your life on.

   When you stopped trying, and no longer learned, this made no difference to your parents. They are too focused on themselves to be able to care about anyone else, even their child. It makes a difference to you. And your responsibility is for your own wellbeing.

   So, let's go back to the start. You hate yourself. Why? What evil have you done?

   Instead of blaming yourself for something you had no control over, ask what kind of a life you want to build for the future?

   Use your parents' way as a model of what NOT to do. Find people you admire. Spend time in their company, and learn from them how to live well. Use them as models.

   Once you start respecting and even liking yourself, you will find that other people will be drawn to you, and you will have friends, and love, and satisfaction.

   And although we shall never meet, you have my love. Think of me as your grandfather.


Dear Dr Bob

   I'm writing down to you to thank you. I made as you said. Now I have a lot of friends and I'm leaving a beautiful life. Of course for that I stopped focusing on my parent. They are adult and responsible. They may do as they like. I must say that your E-mail helped me a lot. And I wish you joy and happiness. And also happy Christmas. And Wish you a happy 2010.

Again thank you so much.

So angry!

   well i have this problem and i found your web site but it wont let me send u a email there so im sending u 1 hear can u plz help me i realy need help with my anger im 13 and i dono wat to do im just so anger and i cant control it plz messege me backi can tell you stuff that hapend in the past mabby thats it but can u messege me back

Dear Annie,

   Of course, I don't know what's behind your anger. There may be very good reasons for you to feel angry. People may have done things to you that would make any person angry.

   In addition, you may have got into the habit of looking at the world in a way that makes you angry. Now that you have the habit, maybe things that would leave another person calm may upset you.

   That kind of thing happens when we react to something now as if was the same as something else that happened in the past. For example, if a particular person has often bullied you, just a look may be enough for you to feel picked on, even if that person did not mean it to be like that.

   Also, it's good to be aware that, at 13 years of age, changes are taking place in your body that affect your emotions. When you feel furious, tell yourself, "I am not really angry, this is just my hormone changes talking."

   You see, emotions feel like commands, but actually they are invitations. It's OK to feel angry, but then you still have a choice on what to do about it. "I feel like ripping his head off, but I'll just walk away for now, calm down then come back and talk it out."

   I suggest you engage in vigorous sport of some kind: basketball, swimming, athletics or the like. The anger (and hormone changes) gives you a lot of energy. Use it to be a star!


My brain tells me to kill myself

hey bob

   i searched i want to kill myself on google and i stumbled on one of your responses to a question. it actually made me feel a bit better. thanks. i really dont think i could kill myself, and i dont think i want to really, my dad has always told me no matter how bad it gets it will always get better and i think thats what has really kept me from acting on anything. but for some reason my brain tells me everyday that i should, like actually speaks to me, sometimes i even mutter it outloud when some depressing thoughts reach my mind. im young, only 21 and i havnt always thought like this. it actually started when my last real relationship ended badly. which is silly, or i would have thought it was silly before it happend anyways. i didnt think i could get affected like this from a girl treating me bad. we were only together a year and a half. and it seems like being like this over one girl when im young is completely insane. but i cant help it, i havnt had much as far as relationships. sometimes when my thoughts build up on me i get miserable and the only way i can manage my depression is by smoking some weed. for awhile i did it pretty much non stop, soon as i felt a tinge of sadness i would pull out my pipe, and it actually seemed to help, for a couple hours until my high wore out anyways. which lead to some anti social behavior, basically locking myself in my room. which is about the size of the average walk in closet. its been awhile now. months. creeping up on a year. but i still think about the same girl and the guy shes with and what they did to me. and i still get insanely depressed. i want it to be gone. isnt that enough? shouldnt it disapear with just that thought? i have seen a few girls since then. no real connections, one mite have been but she didnt like me and dumped me in a text message. the girl i see now, i completely hate, shes obnoxious, really immature, extremely selfish, i have never ever heard a person speak about themselves so much, but shes good looking, and right now i work remotely for long periods of time and feel extremely isolated, so seeing her on my days off just seems convienient, i havnt really been meeting anyone else and its adding alot to my depression. i havnt fallen in love since the girl that treated me bad, and i know shes in love now. i feel like she doesnt deserve it. she did alot of bad things to me, but shes alot happier then me now. anyways i dont really expect a reply from you. mostly i just wanted to write this shit down, i havnt spoken to anyone at all about it, not a single person. i think im just going to suffer through this depression as best as i can. i realize this is just a typical young person problem and i should just man up or whatever. but yeah like i said its getting close to a year now with basically no relief. and everyday my brain is nagging on me to just end it. i dont even think that means killing myself. just ending it. getting over it. being able to be a happy person again. but no luck yet. anyways i just want to say your response to that girls cry for help did make me feel abit better. your good at what you do. right now i think its words like yours and my dads that are the only things keeping me from doing something really selfish.

Dear George,

   Two people wrote this email: you and your monster. This monster is made up of grief (perfectly reasonable) and self-pity.

   Your part is remarkably wise and insightful. You have the rare ability to step outside the world view presented by your monster, and to also see the situation from the outside, as if it was faced by someone else. It often takes me a lot of work to get a person to be able to do that.

   To help this aspect, here is a fact: some time during their lives, about 68% of people are suicidal. What this tells me is that it's not due to you being crazy or sick or stupid, but it's society being sick. A problem that widespread just has to be due to systematic factors that are wrong.

   So, when you are over your crisis, you might consider working to change the world to reduce suffering for other people. Help me to make this into a saner world.

   When i was 23, I asked a girl to marry me, and she said no. I also felt terrible. All the same, 6 months later I was married to another girl -- and she is still my wife, 42 years later.


  • The past is history.
  • The future is a mystery.
  • I give you -- a PRESENT.

       That's a tool you can use to get out of your current problem. What's past is gone. You don't know what's in the future. A plane could fall on your head in a week's time. Or you could have a great bit of good luck. You just don't know what's coming, so why worry about it? All there is is NOW. Live in it. Make the most of every moment.

       This is not my advice, but the wisdom of at least 5000 years.

       If you want to get out of your current misery, then do the opposite of whatever your monster tells you. It tells you to stay in your room? Go out and have fun, or do something that's of benefit to others.

       I suggest you forget about getting a girlfriend for the moment. Just go out and make friends -- male and female, young and old, married and single. Be there for other people. Work toward making a good future for yourself. Get involved in projects.

       This will fill the vacuum left by your ex-girlfriend.

       When the time is right, you'll find someone you can share the years with. Don't try for it, just be open for it to happen.

       When you act in a way that's attractive, like I've described, you will attract people, including girls.


    "George" and I exchanged several more emails. His life has improved already.

    For writers

    Invisible language

       Two kinds of sound sequences are called jazz. There is the music that Louis Armstrong played and would approve: full of melody, toe-tapping rhythm and harmony, all with improvisation. Then there is auditory showing off: "Never mind melody or rhythm or harmony, see how fast I can make these sounds!"

       Writing has the same distinction. It can scream, "Look how clever I am! Admire me!" Or it can do a job so well that you don't even notice the words. They are the medium, not the message.

       The first kind of writing tends to win the big prizes. The second kind is what people love to read.

       When I come across the first kind of writing, I typically put it down after a few pages. This is not because I don't admire the writer's cleverness -- far from it. It's because I just can't get into the content. After awhile, there is nothing to hold my interest. Perhaps this is a lack in me -- I've never studied Literature above high school level.

       Well, the same is true for the overwhelming majority of readers. When someone picks up a magazine or a book, they may want to be instructed, informed, entertained, or all three. There is no particular attraction to being impressed.

       Prose is a tool. Its purpose is to convey a message. You may be telling a story, bringing a place to life, presenting an argument, selling -- a concept, a service or some merchandise -- or merely making contact, being friendly.

       Either I choose a non-fiction book because I need to learn something, or fiction because I need to find a pleasant filling for some hours. Like music, the task of fiction writing is to stir the emotions. In our cultural traditions, this is done by telling a story in a way that allows the reader to identify with one or more characters. If the author is doing linguistic gymnastics, the attention will be on the language, not the story. It gets in the way.

       For this reason, when I write

  • I use the minimum number of words that will do the job.
  • I'll say "He climbed the stairs" rather than "He ascended the stairs" -- the most common available word is the best, except to avoid repetition.
  • I keep to the simplest syntax I can, again without falling into a repetitious, boring pattern of sentences.
  • I avoid anything that will attract attention to the language rather than the message, such as repeating anything.
  • In fiction, I avoid author intrusions such as explanations.

       All of this can be summarised by the motto of the Australian Army Engineers: K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    What my friends want you to know

    Selling books for less cost
    January Bainstorming
    Andy Davie is shooting a movie
    Trauma conference, Toronto, Sept 2010
    Free online writers' conference

    Selling books for less cost

       Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first book in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for retailers, A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Technique, was named a finalist in USA Book News' 2009 award for professional books.

       Launched at the National Stationery Show at the Javits Center, A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions is expected to be the first of a line of books and booklets designed to put Howard-Johnson's nearly three decades of retail experience plus oodles more in the fields of journalism, public relations, publishing, and marketing in the hands of retailers. She is also an author's advocate and coach. She consults in the three Ps, publishing, promotion and publicity, and is the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and award-winning books of fiction and poetry.

       The cover design, part of the award-winning package, is by John Quinn of Design Solution 360º, a veteran graphic designer for the retail industry and designer for Smiling Moon greeting cards.

       Howard-Johnson was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by members of the California Legislature. The American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) Impact Council also named her Woman of the Year and Pasadena Weekly honored her for literary activism. She is featured on national TV commercials and teaches marketing for UCLA Extension.

       Learn more about Carolyn at

    Darrell Bain

       The January 2010 issue of Bainstorming is now live at

       Subjects this month: Tonto vs Betty, Win a Sony Reader, A Rare Event, Walking, Book Report, Missed Energy Savings, Fan Misinterpretation, Progress Report, Christmas, ebook Readers, Damn Dell to Hell, Excerpt from Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet-Breaking Dessert Recipes.

    Darrell Bain
    Fictionwise author of the Year, 2005
    Multiple Epic awards, 2007, Dream realm award, 2007, 2009

    Andy Davie

       Here is a link to my agent's website...

       Let the intro load then click clients on the left side of the screen, you'll see my name come up. Click that and my profile will appear. If you look in the 'film producing' section of the site, you'll see A70 which is what I've been and am working on at the moment. Let me know what you think :-) (We're entering the editing phase of the script development now that the first draft has been completed.) All in all it's proving to be an exciting time. Oh and here is the link for reference to A70 in the Brit Films website...

    All the best

    Trauma conference, Toronto, Sept 2010

    Call for Presenters

       This conference is for and about those who serve. Please submit your proposal to conduct a workshop for the ATSS 2010 Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada, September 29 through October 3, 2010. Share your skills, expertise, knowledge and resources with your peers and colleagues.

       Workshops can be 3 hours or 6 hours and focus on current research, best practices, innovative intervention strategies, special considerations of helping those who serve and maintaining wellness.

       Complete this form to submit proposal.

    Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists
    88 Pompton Ave
    Verona, New Jersey 07044

    Free online writers' conference

       Writers, editors, agents, and other publishing professionals from around the world are gearing up for the third annual Catholic Writers’ Conference Online, featuring veteran presenters like Carolyn Howard-Johnson, multi-award winning novelist, poet and book marketer. The online conference will run from February 26 to March 5, 2010 and is sponsored by the Catholic Writers' Guild. It is free and open to writers of all levels who register between October 1, 2009 and February 15, 2010. Writers needn’t be Catholic.

       Workshops and live online chats cover the gamut of writing topics from idea generation to marketing a published novel; traditional and self-publishing, article writing and fiction, and much more. In addition, prominent Catholic publishers will hear pitches, giving authors an unprecedented opportunity to chat personally regardless of their ability to travel.

       The Catholic conferences draw hundreds of participants and more than scores of editors and writing professionals. Former attendee Maureen Locher, a copy editor and columnist for Mom Writer's Literary Magazine, says, "The Catholic Writers' Conference Online opened a world of possibilities to me... The quality of speakers was excellent and 'excellent' is a word I rarely use. [It was the].single best move I've taken to further my writing!"

       The conference features presenters from all aspects of the publishing world. Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't ( and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success ( She is also an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Carolyn will present on "The Picture-Perfect Query Letter" and "Tweeting for Visibility" on March 1, at 9 am and 10 am respectively.

       Early registration is recommended. Although the conference is offered at no charge, donations are accepted; proceeds go toward future conferences. To register or for more information, go to


    Savage Utopia, by Margaret Tanner

    Savage Utopia
    by Margaret Tanner

    Whiskey Creek Press
    ISBN 978-1-59374-046-2

       The opening scene immediately grabbed my heart: the Reverend Silas Watson is raving about adultery in the pulpit, the day after her daughter Maryanne had been forced to watch while he had raped her sister Fiona. When they return home, Fiona is dead. A fight ensues, in which Silas beats Maryanne senseless.

       She goes through a haze for some weeks, and when she regains her wits, she has been sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of Australia for seven years.

       The tension continues through the hell of the convict ship, to arrival at Sydney Town and more savagery, and over every page of the book. In a way, this story could do well in all three of these genres:


  • As historical fiction, with a believable, accurate rendition of Australia's convict days;
  • As a romance. Maryanne and Jake, another convict, fall in love, although Jake is unable to acknowledge such a soft emotion, being focused on survival and revenge;
  • As a thriller, with ingenious plot twists, believable characters and plenty of action.

       While reading this book, I also read some 90 pages of a Sue Grafton mystery. Sue is a world-famous writer, and justly so, but there was less excitement in those 90 pages than in any randomly selected couple of pages from Savage Utopia.

       I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read.


    Do it anyway by Mother Theresa

    Do it anyway
    by Mother Theresa

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