Bobbing Around

Volume Twelve, Number Nine
May, 2013

Bob Rich's (sunny) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Responses to previous issues
  Cheryl O'Brien
  Over 50? Save a future, from Lawrence MacDonald
  Victorian government in Victorian era about coal
  Keep successful service for Aboriginal people funded
  Understanding extreme weather events
  The Importance of Planning 1 by Allen Currie
  Food Shift: Feeding People Not Trash Cans, by Dana Frasz
  Joint statement from Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries
*Good news
  Village in India plants 111 trees every time a girl is born, by Stephen Messenger
  Greenland's First Female Prime Minister Says 'No' To Arctic Drilling, by Judy Molland
*Deeper issues
  Think the Rich Are Charitable? Think Again, by Kevin Mathews
  Brain and Mind, from Dr Philip Thomas
  DSM 5
  Joining Forces: A therapy app for your phone
  Should I demand she return my gifts?
  I'm 15 and want to leave my mother
  Coal combustion putting lives at risk, from Fiona Armstrong
  Why Aren't We Biting The Corporate Hand That Feeds Us? by Joe Leech
  Alcohol Kills More People than AIDS or Tuberculosis, by Dr. Mache Seibel
*For writers
  A guide to English grammar, from Jenny Frost
  When should you end your chapters?
*What my friends want you to know
  Don't frack Australia
  Meet Bill McKibben in Australia
  New Aussie solar group
  Put wind power back in Victoria, from Friends of the Earth (FoE) Melbourne
  Books and Banter Newsletter -- Published by C.R. Richards
  International congress on child forced labor and mental health
*Book reviews
  Goodbye Tchaikovsky, by Michael Thal
  Aniko: The stranger who loved me, reviewed by Cheryl O’Brien
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Michael Thal
  Reshaping Reality, by Robin Marvel
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Darrell Bain
  Build your backyard clay oven, by Gavin Webber
  Ascending Spiral reviewed by Dr Carl Stonier
  Jamie and the Angel: Meeting Her Guardian Angel, by Carol Guy
  Stolen Secrets, by Sandra Levy Ceren

A correction on Sea Shepherd

   Last issue, I appealed to Americans to donate to Sea Shepherd for their whale-saving campaign through me. I have now been contacted by Sea Shepherd who explained to me that Sea Shepherd is still allowed to accept donations from American citizens, as long as it is not for that campaign, and that they would prefer me to withdraw my offer. For one thing, if you send me money, it is not tax deductible.

   However, they are considering selling my new book Ascending Spiral as a fundraiser for the organisation.

I've been busy

   Ascending Spiral is written and published, but it is still taking up a lot of my time. Launching into foreign territory, I have established a Facebook presence, have been interviewed on radio by Magdalena Ball of the Compulsive Reader, and appeared on several blogs with very different content:

  • Joan Edwards on how to pick up word confusions in your writing and similar matters dear to an editor's heart;
  • Gloria Orren on Ascending Spiral and some tricks of writing well;
  • Lily Sawyer asked an entirely different set of writing questions, and allowed me to say a fair bit about Ascending Spiral;
  • Christina St Clair focused on Ascending Spiral, and encouraged me to post multiple extracts from the book to illustrate various points. So, if you haven't yet read this story, here is your chance to sample widely from it.
  • Greg Foyster was a different kind of contact. He and his friend have been cycling around Australia, gathering material for a book that's now almost completed. They visited us in our home. He asked questions about the deeper issues. So, if you want to understand Ascending Spiral without the fictional parts, read his blog.
  • Kenya Lee runs "Write Like a Wizard." She posted one of my short stories, "Duck," from Through Other Eyes and asked questions that stimulated answers from me that even I found entertaining. More hints about writing emerged, and lots more.
  • You will also enjoy an older interview, mostly about my philosophy.
  • Cynthia Richards publishes a quarterly newsletter "Books and Banter." Her spring issue kindly lists Ascending Spiral.

   You will notice more reviews of my book below. Most of them are from review swaps. I have approached authors I admire, and we review each other's work. However, this is not an "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" situation. Both parties are required to be honest. If I were to read a book I didn't consider good value, I'd privately give helpful feedback to the author, whoever that may be, and refuse to make public a poor review. I expect the same from the other party.

   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.

   If we take each day in this life and look at it as if it was a complete life, then we see a pattern. Some things happen on the same day, others the next day and some takes weeks to happen.

   We live 'mini lives' in each full life. Each day is a life and each night is a death. So I think it is with full lives.

Carolyn Harris

Responses to previous issues

Cheryl O'Brien

Dear Bob,

   Thank you for your latest issue of Bobbing Around, as usual I found much of interest and articles I could relate to in your newsletter and I wanted to say thank you. I know it takes a great deal of time and energy to put the newsletter together and I really appreciate what you do. It often seems that your newsletter arrives when I am at my lonliest and it always makes me feel a bit connected to others which relieves my lonliness somewhat.

Kind Regards
Cheryl O'Brien


Over 50? Save a future from Lawrence MacDonald
Victorian government in Victorian era about coal
Keep successful service for Aboriginal people funded

Over 50? Save a future
from Lawrence MacDonald

   Hi, I'm Lawrence MacDonald and I created with a group of like-minded friends. I am a former journalist and policy communications specialist by training whose day job involves grappling with two key facts: the terrifying urgency of the climate change threat and the surprisingly large number of potential technological and policy solutions available. As a society, we have the ability to avert catastrophe but we are not acting. Why?

   The problem is not lack of technology and policy solutions but an inadequate sense of urgency. Hugely powerful vested interests led by the coal, oil and gas lobbies use all the means at their disposal to block sensible climate policy. One of their most important tactics is to encourage a sense of complacency ("climate change isn't really happening or if it is happening the impacts won't affect me or my children") and hopelessness ("there is nothing I can do about it anyway").

   Many people turn away from the mounting evidence that we are already experiencing runaway climate change, telling themselves privately "it can't really be that bad or somebody would be doing something. People would be getting arrested to sound the alarm."

   That's why peaceful civil disobedience can make a difference, creating a sense of political urgency to match urgency of the climate crisis.

   President Roosevelt, pushing through the New Deal, is said to have told union representatives "make me do the right thing, go out and build popular support." Similarly, President Johnson is reported to have put his arm around Martin Luther King and said "Dr. King, go out there and make it possible for me to do the right thing." Two years ago, President Obama told Maura Cowley of the Energy Action Coalition and a group of climate activists, "Your job is to push me."

   President Obama: "Your job is to push me."

   Cowley and her coalition of youth-led groups, together with Bill McKibben's and a wide array of other climate groups, are doing all that they can to push the president. I see as a sort of Boomers Auxiliary to these efforts, with a focus on civil disobedience, because that's how a relatively small number of people can have the largest impact on the national debate.

   I'll be honest: I am relatively new to organizing and civil disobedience. Living near Washington, I have participated in a large number of climate protests and rallies and I was among the more than 1,200 people who were arrested outside the White House during two weeks in August 2011 urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. That was my first and so far only experience with civil disobedience leading to arrest. It was a personal high point -- it felt like one of the most important things I had ever done.

   As you probably know, the arrests helped to build public awareness that led to 15,000 people surrounding the White House the following November. Soon afterward President Obama announced that he was delaying approval of the pipeline and would take into account "all scientific evidence" of its potential impact in his (still pending) final decision.

   I have been thinking about the power of peaceful civil disobedience ever since and wondering what it would take to spark a nationwide movement along the lines that McKibben described in "The Last Best Chance for the Boomers" (available in The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life). I kept hoping that somebody else would organize such an effort but it hasn't happened so I am taking this plunge.

   It's hard not to feel overwhelmed in the face of the climate change threat. The beauty of the 50 over 50 plan is that it doesn't need a huge number of us to make a difference. I suspect that there are at least 50 of us boomers who understand enough about the issue that we are ready to find each other, organize, and if necessary risk arrest to sound the alarm. If each of us can find 50 more we will have 50 over 50 x 50, that is, 2,500 boomers prepared to risk arrest.

   If that happens, there is a chance we can transform the national debate on climate action and push our politicians to stand up to the fossil fuel companies and do the right things. Will you join us?

   Not yet ready but still curious? Maybe you want to start at the homepage. Or read this short summary of our March 2013 kickoff conference call, which includes an audio recording of my opening remarks.

Victorian government in Victorian era about coal

“If you’re in the business of coal mining, road building or port dredging this budget is for you. If however, you are like most Victorians and concerned about the environment and the future we are leaving for our kids this budget lets you down.”

   Today the Victorian government released the 2013/14 state budget. And just like their previous two budgets it was a big disappointment for our environment.

   The Coalition’s promise to improve the energy efficiency of Victorian homes to a 5-star average, a revolutionary plan which could dramatically save households on bills, cut waste and energy use and create thousands of jobs, was nowhere to be seen. The pre-election commitment to ensure 5% of the state’s electricity is generated from solar power by 2020 has again been ignored at budget time and is now unlikely to be achieved.

   Instead, taxpayers are footing a $4 million bill to repair failing coal mines in the Latrobe Valley; Clean Coal Victoria is receiving $8.3 million in new funding, in part to run a PR campaign for technology which doesn’t exist; $19 million is being spent to fast-track mining exploration; and $110 million is being spent to develop Western Port Bay with a view to establishing a coal export industry.

   When it comes to energy policy the Napthine Government seems determined to develop Victoria’s outdated and polluting coal resource at all costs.

   Get the full list of casualties in our media release here.

   The good news is, Victorians are stepping in where the government has failed to advocate for our environment. We’ve just kicked off a month-long community campaigning blitz! And we’d love to have you with us. Join the month of action.

Kelly O’Shanassy
and the Team from Environment Victoria

Keep successful service for Aboriginal people funded

   There have been no Aboriginal deaths in police custody in NSW and the ACT since the Custody Notification Service, a 24-hour legal advice phone line began in 2000.



   Show how MASSIVE the support is for the government to fund this service by signing this petition and keeping a vital service alive.

   Every time our lawyers speak to an Aboriginal person being detained, they check upon the welfare of the person by asking RU OK? Often people aren't OK.

   Threats of self-harm or suicide are common. Our lawyers are skilled at hearing ideation or real threats of self-harm or suicide. The lawyer talks carefully with the person, notifies the Police and the vulnerable person in custody is made safe.

   The CNS is an extremely SUCCESSFUL program assisting vulnerable people with fair and equitable access to justice and welfare.


   Since July 2012, when the government stopped funding it, ALS staff have covered the costs of the phone line, but we are struggling and cannot afford to continue funding the service.

   The CNS will cease to exist on the 30th of June 2013 unless government funding is urgently found.

   The phone line costs the same to operate as holding two juveniles in detention for one year -- $500,000 per annum.

   The ALS is urgently calling on the NSW and/or Australian government to fund this essential service. Aboriginal incarceration rates are already too high. It is likely they will increase if the CNS does not exist.


LIKE us on Facebook
FOLLOW us on Twitter @ALS_NSWACT
SUBSCRIBE to us on YouTube
VISIT our website


Understanding extreme weather events
The Importance of Planning 1 by Allen Currie
Food Shift: Feeding People Not Trash Cans by Dana Frasz
Joint statement from Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries

Understanding extreme weather events

   I have a prejudice for dealing with issues rationally, by considering the available evidence. It is so much more powerful than emoting and taking unchangeable positions.

   When it comes to climate change, sceptics (skeptics if you're an American, and either way it's only one letter from septics) usually hide behind weather variations. An extremely useful resource will help understand the relationship between weather and climate, the causes, descriptions and effects of extreme weather events and the like.

   Go to the Australian Climate Commission's web site. But hurry: there is an election in September, and the (un)Liberals are likely to win, and they have promised to get rid of this excellent government-funded organisation.

The Importance of Planning 1
by Allen Currie

Allen is off to the wilds. He sends me an email or two every time he emerges, which seems to be less and less often. He has supplied a series of 5 essays that together explain his reasoning. This is the first of them.

   Most articles focus, with morbid fascination, on the awful situation today. We all know in our hearts that crisis is unavoidable now. I prefer to plan for what is logically coming. The End Of The World AS WE KNOW IT (TEOTWAWKI) is not the end of the world, but significant change.

   1) In the 1500s, many things had to be reinvented that were in existence in the 900s, before the dark ages. 2) In 1990 when the USSR went down, the hi-tech things like atomic submarines sat, rusted and polluted. Because we have hi-tech does not necessarily mean that it will survive. 3) The people alive today who can imagine how to cope with even dirty ‘30's conditions are all 75 or older.

   In February 1987, when someone jiggled the jigsaw enough that a picture of our future formed for me, I began to prepare. First I bought paper gold. In the crash of '87 I learned how useless that alone was. I decided that self sufficiency was necessary, and being a long way from the fan was desirable. Mentally I selected a remote spot on the warm west coast as ideal. Then I started researching in earnest, both man-made and natural conditions.

   Being a glider pilot, I stay aloft by knowing a bit more about weather than the average bear. What I knew persuaded me that weather change was coming.

  1. The world is adding 300 million new mouths to feed each year. Glider pilots know the easiest way to find rising air is to find a black rooftop. The sun heats it more quickly than the surroundings producing hot, rising air. CO2 retains heat but much more comes from the forests being turned to black earth to feed 300 million new mouths.
  2. There exists an ocean desert, which is especially vicious, which now just touches Chile's west coast. One land based weather station in that desert has never recorded ANY precipitation in its 100+ year existence. Increasing drought conditions in Texas and elsewhere lend credence to expert theory that this desert will expand to cover half of Brazil and north to cover the southwest quarter of the US. If it comes to pass, a permanent high will be created, deflecting the jet stream, which now brings precipitation to the southern US. How will this affect food production?
  3. The Japan ocean Current (and Gulf stream) are slowing. Near the Arctic Circle the currents become cold and dense enough that they sink and return south to pick up more calories of heat. Global warming is adding enough fresh water to disturb the saline balance so the currents may not sink, and thus stop. Mother nature will still try to move those calories and her only tool to do so will be air, which holds many less calories per cubic whatever. She must move more volume, faster. Huge storms will become daily events in coastal areas.

   It would be foolish to ignore such a risk, certain or not. My ‘immediate risk' analysis of natural and man-made events lead to my novel "Operation Phoenix" available as download or a hard copy at Free sample read available.

More to come.
Allen Currie

Food Shift: Feeding People Not Trash Cans
by Dana Frasz

   My passion with keeping food out of the trash can began in college, where I saw trays of perfectly good food being dumped down the garbage disposal in the cafeteria. It was a jolting contrast to my experience volunteering and living with families in South East Asia during my gap year. Overwhelmed by the abundance, excess and waste of food, I developed a habit of eating my friends' pizza crusts and other leftovers. Eventually this resulted in -my gaining 25 lbs and -realizing I needed to come up with a better solution.

   Despite national efforts to alleviate hunger and reduce food waste, -these problems persist- and are in fact more heightened than ever before. We are throwing away 40% of all the food we produce while 50 million Americans don't have adequate access to food. I see this as one of the most disturbing and yet solvable paradoxes of our time. Reducing food losses by just 15% could feed more than 25 million Americans.

   In addition to the absurd amount of lost nutrition and environmental damage as a result of food waste, we're spending $750 million each year just to dispose of all this food.

   What if businesses and municipalities were to shift just a fraction of these funds towards the recovery and redistribution of excess food instead? What if we were to invest in the creation of a professional food recovery service sector as an extension of our current waste management system and as an opportunity to create jobs in the green economy? This is Food Shift's vision.

   We believe we can employ and train thousands of people in the recovery, redistribution and processing of surplus food. This requires a shift in our thinking around both food recovery and food assistance. For decades, we have relied on charity groups to address these massive challenges of food waste and hunger. Despite their obvious value, most food recovery groups in the U.S. provide a free service, receive limited financial support and depend on volunteer commitments to operate. This structure is unsustainable and limits their ability to expand, increase impact, purchase necessary infrastructure, provide wages, and effectively tackle a crisis of this magnitude.

   Additionally, food alone will not solve the problem of hunger. A free meal or bag of groceries is only a temporary fix to a complex problem rooted in unemployment and structural inequality. And that is why Food Shift is working so hard to shift the paradigm around food recovery and food assistance from one that is volunteer and hand-out based to one that focuses on jobs and self-sufficiency. Food Shift is developing innovative food recovery models that generate revenue so individuals can be trained and employed in the process.

   Currently we are exploring a fee-for-service model in Oakland, California with Andronico's Community Markets. Yes, they are actually willing to pay us to recover and redistribute food from their 5 store locations. Why? Well for one, it makes sense. Grocers pay for trash and recycling removal, why not pay the people who are removing unwanted, discarded food? They also see it as a way to reduce waste disposal costs, receive tax deductions, and benefit the community and environment, which of course is valuable for marketing and branding.

Continue reading at

Joint statement from Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries

   3 May 2013: Bonn, Germany -- The Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries groups represent 83 countries and over 920 million people who are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As the latest session of UN climate change negotiations ends today, the two groups together call on negotiators to come back in June ready to move expeditiously from talking about solutions to implementing them.

   The groups jointly released the following statement:

   "The conversations over the past few days have underscored important facts we have known for many years now: low-carbon energy options are not only widely available and affordable, they are essential to our survival.

   "Science has confirmed that unless we act immediately, the opportunity to keep global warming below the 1.5 degree threshold could be irrevocably lost.

   "If we fail to act now, a vastly more expensive response will be required later, which will have profound implications for the scale and nature of obligations under the 2015 agreement. The costs of adapting to the impacts of climate change are already spiraling out of control, and thus need to be a bigger part of the ADP discussions.

   "For us, more delay will mean more floods, more famines, more storms, and inevitably, more deaths.

   "To that end, it is essential we have another ADP* session in September as well as a Ministerial level meeting at COP19** in Warsaw that is geared to raising mitigation ambition. These meetings will be essential to get the necessary political commitments for lowering emissions.

   "Finally, the ADP process must culminate with a Protocol under the Convention applicable to all Parties and adopted no later than 2015. We call on our colleagues to reflect on how their delegation can contribute to achieving this objective over the next few weeks and come back to Bonn in June ready to get to work."

*ADP refers to the the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action -- a body under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in which parties to the convention negotiate.
** COP19 is the 19th conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It will take place in November 2013.

LDC Group
7 Marina Parade
Banjul, Gambia PO 296

Good news

Village in India plants 111 trees every time a girl is born by Stephen Messenger
Greenland's First Female Prime Minister Says 'No' To Arctic Drilling by Judy Molland

Village in India plants 111 trees every time a girl is born
by Stephen Messenger

   All too often, it seems that an increase in human population must come at a cost to the environment, like in straining resources and encroachment on once wild habitats. But one quaint village in India has adopted a wonderfully eco-conscious tradition that is actually helping to ensure a greener future with each new generation.

   While in some parts of India, many expectant parents still say they'd prefer bearing sons, members of the Piplantri village, in the western state of Rajasthan, are breaking this trend by celebrating the birth of each baby girl in way that benefits everyone. For every female child that's born, the community gathers to plant 111 fruit trees in her honor in the village common.

   This unique tradition was first suggested by the village's former leader, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, in honor of his daughter who had passed away at a young age.

   But planting trees is only one way that the community is ensuring a brighter future for their daughters. According to a report in The Hindu, villagers also pool together around $380 dollars for every new baby girl and deposit it in an account for her. The girl's parents are required to contribute $180, and to make a pledge to be considerate guardians.

   "We make these parents sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry her off before the legal age, send her to school regularly and take care of the trees planted in her name," says Paliwal.

   Over the last six years alone, as population there has increased, villagers in Piplantri have planted nearly a quarter million trees -- a welcoming forest for the community's youngest members, offering a bit of shade for their brighter future.

From Tree Hugger

Greenland's First Female Prime Minister Says 'No' To Arctic Drilling
by Judy Molland

   The new government of Greenland will not grant any fresh offshore oil and gas drilling licenses in the country's Arctic waters and will also place existing licenses under greater scrutiny. The moratorium is a result of concerns raised by Greenpeace about the risk of oil spills and the fear that offshore oil and gas operations will increase climate change.

   At the end of March, 47-year-old Aleqa Hammond became Greenland's first female prime minister. Earlier in the month, her social democratic Siumut party won 42.8% of the vote, beating the sitting prime minister and his socialist Inuit Ataqatigiit party, which came in at 34%.

   This is the first change in parties in 30 years, and it looks like Ms. Hammond is determined to make a difference.

   Greenland is officially a part of Denmark, but has a great deal of autonomy in almost every area. The country is four times the size of France, but has a population of just 57,000.

   It is the world's largest island, with a total area of around 2.2 million square kilometres. It used to be that only about 410,000 square kilometres were not covered by ice, but this is rapidly changing. When my nephew traveled there a few years ago, he carried a map from London's Royal Geographical Society, but the map wasn't always so helpful: so much snow and ice had melted over the past 25 years that much of the topography just didn't match what was on the map.

   This ban comes just as one of the Arctic drilling pioneers, the British company Cairn Energy, has failed in a bid to keep an injunction on any protests organized against it by Greenpeace.

   From The Guardian:

   Jon Burgwald, Arctic campaigner for Greenpeace in Denmark, said it was good news for everyone: "Until now, the people of Greenland have been kept in the dark about the enormous risks taken by the politicians and companies in the search for Arctic oil. Now it seems that the new government will start taking these risks seriously. The logical conclusion must be a total ban on offshore oil drilling in Greenland."


Deeper Issues

Think the Rich Are Charitable? Think Again by Kevin Mathews
Brain and Mind from Dr Philip Thomas

Think the Rich Are Charitable? Think Again
by Kevin Mathews

   When you think of charity, you probably think of rich benefactors stepping in to aid a noble cause. Yet it turns out that the rich aren't nearly generous as the poor. In fact, America's poorest people donate to charitable organizations at more than twice the rate of America's richest citizens.

   According to new research, the richest 20% only donated 1.3% of its income to charity, while the poorest 20% gave 3.2%. Once you take into account that the wealthiest are able to write-off a lot of these donations on their annual taxes, while the poorest do not even itemize such things, the discrepancy is that much more glaring.

   The Atlantic summarized this study, as well as a few others that reached similar conclusions. The publication also cited a study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which examined charitable donations by zip code. The research found that residents of poverty-stricken areas were more generous than those in the nation's most affluent neighborhoods.

   The differences between rich and poor charitable giving don't stop at the percentages: the recipients of each respective group are also notable. While the poor generally donate to organizations that provide social services and religious institutions, the wealthiest individuals' money is gifted to museums, colleges, and the arts. In other words, affluent people prefer to give money to elite, cultural places that they can benefit from rather than allocating it to people who are in dire need of assistance like food banks and homeless shelters.

   Dr. Paul Piff, a UC Berkeley psychologist, has conducted research on how money affects one's morality. It appears that rich people have more of a drive to hoard their wealth, while poorer people tend to understand the importance of sharing. He concludes, "The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people… more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes." Tell us how you really feel, Piff!

   Of course, the takeaway from this data shouldn't be that the rich are assholes. Not merely that, anyway. It should serve as a reason to question the 1%'s rhetoric that the free market will take care of society. It dispels the notion that kind-hearted rich people take it upon themselves to help the less fortunate and could do even more if not burdened by taxes.

   Whereas many countries tax the rich to ensure funding for services for the poor, the United States operates under a system that supposes that the rich will address the poor's needs more adequately than the government can. Accordingly, the tax code even incentivizes donations by providing financial breaks to wealthy benefactors. Yet still, the rich give way less than those with the least and favor charitable pet projects like giving money to their alma maters to have buildings named after themselves.


Brain and Mind
from Dr Philip Thomas

   Dr Philip Thomas has posted an (all too long, but informative and entertaining) post on his blog about the relationship of neuroscience to consciousness. Basically, he agrees with me: the two have very little to do with each other.


Joining Forces: A therapy app for your phone
Should I demand she return my gifts?
I'm 15 and want to leave my mother

This is what Alfredo and I think of the new classificatory system for "mental disorders."

Joining Forces: A therapy app for your phone

   Open iTunes to buy and download apps. to grab it.


   This app delivers information and support surrounding mental health disorders. The App, which is approved by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, is designed for current serving personnel and provides information on mental health problems as well as highlighting where to get help. The Trust lead Psychiatrist for the service Dr Martin Deahl, who is also a serving Territorial Army Colonel, said:

   "There is nothing like it in the App market place and it has significant potential to contribute to de-stigmatising mental health." South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust lead a network of NHS Trusts providing inpatient mental health care to the armed forces, known as Joining Forces.

Joining Forces Support

Should I demand she return my gifts?

hello Dr. Bob,

   I have a friend who I was considered as a best friend. We've been together for one year and a half.

   I gave her a lot literally from love to gifts and even I gave her my precious things. And she seemed like using me then we had a fight just because one day I didn't bring her anything and I ignored her.

   I was stupid for being friends with her it's like she put a spell on me I WAS BLIND! and I can't rest till I get my stuff back I know I seem like immature or babies haha but I can't help it.

   So can I ask her to give me my precious things or I just try to let go my stuff. I mean, they are really precious. is it really wrong to ask her?

   I know it's my mistake but please just help me to get through this.

Nadja my dear,

   In any situation, there are two things we can do, and we should do both.

   The first is to address the problem and do our best to solve it. This means working out the best way to get your precious things back, if that's what you decided is the right thing to do.

   The second is, whatever the outcome, to have peace in our hears. Ins'Allah expresses it well.

   If you feel that you have a right to demand the return of what you had given to this girl, then ask that she give them back. If she doesn't, maybe there is some person in authority you can convince that she should, and ask that person's help.

   At the same time, things, even the most valuable ones, even those with a lot of emotion invested in them, are only things.

   In 2009, a very dangerous wildfire was coming toward my house. It so happened that the wind changed 20 minutes before the fire reached us. I was not at all scared. I was doing my best to protect the house: dragged burnable things away, wetted everything down, and so on. But I did so without fear. Afterward, I thought about why I was not afraid. The thinking below my awareness was: "Maybe the fire won't come here. If it does, we'll defend the house. If the house burns down, it is only a thing. And if we die, my wife and I will die together, and everybody has to die some time, so what."

   I built this house with my own hands, and we lived in it for over 30 years. Precious ++. When I had to move out in 2011, to my suprise I went through a major period of grief. But I got over it. It is only a thing: a toy of this life.

   All the same, when the fire was approaching, I did everything possible to protect it.

   So, do everything possible to get your things back, but don't worry about whether you are succesful or not. You can have peace in your heart either way.

   Now, you have decided that giving things to this girl to buy her friendship was a mistake. OK, what can you learn from it? How will you deal with friends in the future? If you can learn from a mistake, it was a good event not bad.


I'm 15 and want to leave my mother

   I haven't lived with my dad since I was 2. My mum married my stepdad when I was 5, they split up when I was 11 due to constant Fighting! We moved house and now I live in a different town, I am constantly being told to babysit & mind my sister she 7, I do everything around the house & I'm sick off it.

   Should I go into school and tell my teacher that I want to go into care? But if I do my sister will too and I don't want that. What should I do?

Sarah my dear,

   I know it's hard to be 15. Sometimes, you get treated like you were a kid and couldn't think for yourself, and at the same time, you have responsibilities shoved on you so you feel used up, like a servant.

   I am wondering though, how your mother is coping. She is now a single parent. Has she got a job? Is she struggling to earn enough money for three people?

   Maybe she is under so much stress that she often can't think beyond her own needs and the pressures on her. She probably thinks she is very lucky to have you to help her out. Then of course you resent being a constant housemaid and childminder, and so there is conflict between the two of you, so bad you want to move out.

   It is a difficult situation.

   To me, the trouble seems to be that you and your mum have got stuck in a pattern where each of you is trying to get as much as possible from the other, and put in as little as you can manage.

   What the two of you need is to work toward a different pattern. It would be really good if she could think of your needs in the decisions she makes, and if she could do her best to make life enjoyable for you. At the same time, you could do the same, the other way: do whatever you can to make her life as easy and enjoyable as possible.

   Imagine life if both of you acted like that. It would then be a pleasure for you to do whatever you could to ease her problems, and this may mean just as much looking after your sister as now, but it would be something you do with love and joy. And she would go out of her way to enable you to be a teenager, and have as much free time as is possible.

   Maybe you can show my answer to you to your mum, and the two of you can work to become a loving, cooperative mother-daughter combination.

Good luck,


Coal combustion putting lives at risk from Fiona Armstrong
Why Aren't We Biting The Corporate Hand That Feeds Us? by Joe Leech
Alcohol Kills More People than AIDS or Tuberculosis by Dr. Mache Seibel

Coal combustion putting lives at risk
from Fiona Armstrong

   Coal-fired power generation is putting million of lives at risk around the world, a new review of the scientific evidence has found.

   The scientific literature review [PDF file], conducted by environmental health experts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), reveals pollutants generated from coal combustion have profound effects on the health of local communities but can also travel long distances, affecting communities remote from power plants.

   Lead author Dr. Susan Buchanan, Director of the University of Illinois Pediatric Environmental Health Unit said: "Every step of the lifecycle of coal generates pollution that is harmful to human health, but the bulk of the health burden is associated with pollutants from combustion for electricity."

   The review found air pollution from coal combustion was responsible for over 200,000 deaths globally each year, and caused almost two million serious illnesses, and 151 million minor illnesses. These figures do not include the health burden from climate change, to which coal is a significant contributor.

   The review adds to a suite of recent studies that point to significant harms associated with the entire lifecycle of coal production, adding further weight to the scientific evidence that supports the advocacy of health groups seeking a transition away from coal on the grounds of harm to human health.

   Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the latest review provided further evidence of that coal-fired power must be phased out and tighter regulation of the industry was needed.

   "Current energy policy does not account for the harm to human health that is being by the combustion of coal and fossil fuels for electricity generation and transport," Ms Armstrong said.

   "The health and wellbeing of people worldwide is being compromised by policies that privilege and prioritise the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels over safer, healthier, lower emissions, renewable energy resources."

   The Climate and Health Alliance is calling for: the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels and for greater support for clean energy technologies such as solar and wind; for enhanced air quality standards to reduce exposure to harmful pollutants from coal; and for all new coal projects to be required undertake a comprehensive health impact assessment to evaluate the potential for harm to human health.

Download the report.

Fiona Armstrong
Convenor, Climate and Health Alliance
M: 0438 900 005
T: @healthy_climate

Why Aren't We Biting The Corporate Hand That Feeds Us?
by Joe Leech

   More and more people are getting sick and dying early of disease and cancer. We all know it -- nothing new there.

   But despite the fact we all know it, nothing is changing. In fact the situation is still getting worse.

   Recent estimates suggest that deaths from non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes) will increase 45% by 2030 -- to 50 million deaths per year. Um, the rate is meant to be going the other way isn't it?

   Current strategies to avoid that disastrous fate involve A) educating individuals to make better health choices, and B) working in partnership with the food and drink multinationals to promote health and reduce disease.

   While it's still very debatable whether option A is effective on a national level, an Australian review study published in the Lancet earlier this year highlights the plethora of reasons option B doesn't work.

   The study, from the University of Melbourne, found there to be no evidence of effectiveness nor safety of involving multinational companies in public health promotion. "There is a fundamental conflict -- their legitimate role is to make profit, our role is to protect health," says study leader Professor Rob Moodie. "These companies shouldn't be around the table when formulating national and international policy."

   The bottom line is there's a glaring conflict of interest here that can no longer be swept under the rug. Food Industry involvement will always be misleading, and often unethical to some degree. After all, their employees are paid to do one thing -- sell more products and maximise profits for shareholders, whatever it takes. Moodie says, "Studies funded by food and drinks companies are four to eight times more likely to make conclusions favourable to the companies than those that were not sponsored by food or drinks companies." Yep, that's not just a happy coincidence.

   In fact, what's happening here is a dazzling re-enactment of regulating the tobacco industry. Once we finally had government regulations in place, smoking rates began to decline. The problem is it took more than 40 years from the discovery that tobacco is bad for your health, to actually regulating against it. Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? Where Billy Crystal has to live one day of his life over and over again on a constant loop? This is the tobacco industry fiasco all over again- except this industry's even bigger.

   Let's face it. The only way we'll see change is to ditch partnerships with the food and drink multinationals and enforce government legislation, regulation, taxes, whatever it takes. NYCs Mayor Bloomberg gets it. And while his soda ban isn't being enforced (yet), at least he's giving it a shot.

   And if regulations create a "nanny state," -- so be it. Giving up a 32 oz soda at the football stadium is a small price to pay if it'll help someone in need.

   Ultimately, this an entirely preventable problem that will not be resolved by the corporate hand that feeds us.


Joe is a keen health writer and nutritionist who edutains readers, hoping to inspire more informed food and environmental choices. He believes we'll forever be bombarded with new foods, supplements and dietary propaganda -- designed to exploit those who are uninformed or struggling to keep up. By empowering fellow desk-jockeys to take back control of their health and wellbeing, he hopes nobody will get left behind. He's designed a WEIRD online course which puts protein foods and supplements under the microscope, with some ninja role-playing and funny pics thrown in for good measure. Grab your nunchuks and check it out at

Alcohol Kills More People than AIDS or Tuberculosis
by Dr. Mache Seibel

   April raises awareness for both Alcohol and Domestic Violence. Unfortunately, there is a great need for more awareness of both. My patients in and around menopause commonly discuss issues related to alcohol and if I ask about it, they discuss domestic violence issues with me as well. Sometimes the alcohol abuse is their drinking problem; but more often, their partner or spouse has a drinking problem and as consequence, so do they.

   Alcohol is responsible for nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, and according to the World Health Organization, alcohol kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence. According to the CDC, alcohol abuse kills about 80,000 Americans annually, results in more than 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits are due to excessive drinking. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion. It’s the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and 72 percent of those who die are men.

   For some women, the consequence of an alcoholic spouse is enduring violence, abuse and assault. I’ve written about sexual assault and rape before in one of my blogs. So it’s not surprising that April is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is a terrible fact that on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, and 54 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to the police, according to the CDC. In addition, more than 1 million women are raped in a year and over 6 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year.

   If you are in a relationship where alcohol is affecting the quality of your life or safety, or you are a victim of sexual assault, don’t keep it a secret. Tell your doctor, clergy or other trusted professional and seek help. That’s always the right thing to do.

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRT, menopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand ( Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.



A guide to English grammar from Jenny Frost
When should you end your chapters?

A guide to English grammar
from Jenny Frost

Dear Bob,

   I came across your page with resources for English learners at Bobbing Around Number 4 Volume 1, and found 1 link not to be working properly:

   I'm cheeky :)

   In return, may I ask you to list my blog, dedicated to English grammar, there instead?

   It offers a free grammar guide, downloadable/printable lessons and exercises, videos, and more.

   Please have a look at it, before you decide. That would be fantastic. Thanks!


Best wishes,

When should you end your chapters? (i.e., How long should a chapter be?)

   I was a guest at Sharon Fiberesima's blog, Fiction Blueprints. I didn't list this at the top, because my task for Sharon was to answer the question of how long a chapter should be.

   Go there and read what I had to say.

What my friends want you to know

Don't frack Australia
Meet Bill McKibben in Australia
New Aussie solar group
Put wind power back in Victoria from Friends of the Earth (FoE) Melbourne
Books and Banter Newsletter -- Published by C.R. Richards
International congress on child forced labor and mental health

Don't frack Australia

   The profits of multinational fossil fuel companies is being put before the livelihoods and well being of our communities. Too much good farmland has been lost. Too much of our water has been contaminated by fracking chemicals. Too many local landowners have had their rights taken away.

   In an election year, we need community campaigns to show all the major parties that demand they take this seriously. Please add your name.

Thank you,
Ahri Tallon

Meet Bill McKibben in Australia

Dear Friend,

   We have exciting news!

   We're giving you the opportunity to meet Bill following his Global Warming: Do the Maths tour events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

   Bill McKibben is coming here in 2013 because Australia's planned massive expansion of coal mining and export is one of a handful of projects in the world that would take the planet beyond the point of no return if they were to go ahead.

   Now we want to give you the opportunity to meet Bill himself at our special after-show receptions.

   Get tickets to the reception in your city now:

  1. Buy premium tickets to Sydney reception, Seymour Centre Sound Lounge, Tuesday June 4, 7.30 pm.
  2. Buy premium tickets to Melbourne reception, Athenaeum Theatre foyer, Friday June 7, 7.30 pm.
  3. Buy premium tickets to Brisbane reception, Sandgate Room, Brisbane City Hall, Sunday June 9, 7.30pm.

   Tickets to these receptions are strictly limited, so get in quick for your chance to meet Bill over drinks and nibbles. By purchasing a premium ticket you will also help fund's work to protect our reef and help stop catastrophic climate change!

   Please note: as the Do the Maths events are separately ticketed, you must also buy your ticket to the presentation itself in each case.

   We look forward to seeing you there!

   Blair, Tim, Aaron and the Australia team

   PS -- Help us make sure Bill feels welcomed to our country, not loathed as the Australian Coal Industry wants him to be. So let's start the welcome -- share the image on Facebook and let's get the tour packed out!

New Aussie solar group

   Are you a solar owner? Do you one day want to be one? Do you want to see a solar panel on every Australian rooftop?

   100% Renewable is delighted to today be announcing a new project to give a voice to Australia's 2.5 million solar home owners -- and all those who want to go solar.

   To find more info and join up please visit our new website at Solar Citizens:

   Australians are enthusiastically embracing solar power. Over 2.5 million Aussies now live under a solar roof, and $8 billion has been invested in panels across the country. Solar is the best way for households to take control of their energy bills and do their bit for the environment. Together ordinary Australians are taking back control of energy production.

   But there are a number of threats to current and future solar owners. Big power companies want to maintain their control of the energy system and are making it harder to go solar - threatening to charge big fees and refusing to connect some people.

   That's why we are launching Solar Citizens -- to be a voice for solar owners (and solar supporters!), to ensure the poiticians and the big power companies hear that voice, and to make sure that every Australian can take advantage of the sun, cutting energy bills and creating cleaner power along the way.

   We'll be back in touch with more info on specific campaigns shortly, but for now we are delighted to take this opportunity to invite you -- as existing supporters of renewable energy -- to join Solar Citizens:

   Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information about Solar Citizens. I look forward to welcoming you to the community.

Yours for a sunny future,
Geoff Evans
Solar Citizens Manager

Put wind power back in Victoria
from Friends of the Earth (FoE) Melbourne

Dear friends,

   Our new Premier, Denis Napthine, has been under enormous pressure to re-consider the current anti wind planning policy that has been enacted by the state government. The last few weeks have seen ads in various newspapers, an event outside his electoral office, huge volumes of emails to his office, and action at Flinders Street station -- see below on all of these.

   Please help us focus the new government's attention on the issues that matter.

   More than 1,600 people have already signed our petition to Dr Napthine, asking him to re-write the former-Premier's regressive anti-wind farm laws (called VC82) and continue the current moratorium on fracking, and extend it to any exploration activity.

   You can find it here.

   FoE and Quit Coal are having a fantastic impact on this government. We need to do more.

   We are a grassroots community organisation and do a lot on very little.

Please support our work.
All the best,
Cam Walker

Books and Banter Newsletter -- Published by C.R. Richards

   Books and Banter is a seasonal newsletter designed to help authors of all genres and experience levels promote their new release. We feature traditionally published authors, E-Published Authors and Indie Authors. Announcements for upcoming events (book signings, conferences, etc.) are also welcome.

   If you have a new release you’d like featured in Books and Banter, please send the following to

  • Book Cover
  • Back Cover Blurb
  • Purchase Links (where can readers buy your books)
  • Author Bio (include links to websites and social media)
  • Author Picture (Desired, but not required)

    Cynthia R. Richards -- Author of The Mutant Casebook Series

    International congress on child forced labor and mental health

       It is our pleasure to invite you to the international congress on child forced labor and mental health, from july 23rd - 26th here in the United States, and from July 29th - August 1st In Dakar, Senegal. We are putting together an appealing programme and invite you cordially to join us at this congress. Our mission is to support and help Strengthening the Fight against child forced labor.

       If you are interested in attending this conference, please contact the conference Secretariat for more information via email: and register as soon as possible. You can also contact me via my E-mail:

       We look forward to welcoming you all to icacasa 2013.

    Yours sincerely,
    Stephenie Barry

    Book Reviews

    Goodbye Tchaikovsky, by Michael Thal
    Aniko: The stranger who loved me reviewed by Cheryl O’Brien
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Michael Thal
    Reshaping Reality by Robin Marvel
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Darrell Bain
    Build your backyard clay oven by Gavin Webber
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Dr Carl Stonier
    Jamie and the Angel: Meeting Her Guardian Angel by Carol Guy
    Stolen Secrets by Sandra Levy Ceren

    Goodbye Tchaikovsky
    by Michael Thal

       It's not often that a book aimed at "Young Adults" makes me want to cry. Michael Thal managed this with his story of David, a violin virtuoso who suddenly went profoundly deaf the day after his twelfth birthday.

       Goodbye Tchaikovsky is excellent on many levels.

       First, obviously, it is an introduction to what it is like to be deaf in a hearing world, presented so the young reader will identify with the emotions David experiences.

       So, second, it is a primer in empathy. "What if that happened to me?" Michael's choice of hero is perfect. The underlying message is, "What if I lost the ability to do the activity that gives me meaning in life, joy and purpose?" A teenager with a passion for basketball might imagine what it would be like after breaking his neck, another who lives for computer games may think of blindness or a paralyzed hand...

       Third, Michael deals with the issue of stigma and discrimination, showing that, whether you are Christian or Jewish, ethnically Japanese or Caucasian, deaf or hearing, you deserve respect, compassion, decency, even love.

       If you, or someone you care for, is struck by a handicap such as deafness, you can draw instruction and inspiration from this book. However, any teenager will enjoy reading about David's journey, and benefit from the underlying lessons within this book.

    Michael is a long term email friend, and a writer I admire. He was a gifted teacher until severe hearing loss forced him to retire. The resulting experiences have a silver lining: this book.

    Aniko: The stranger who loved me
    reviewed by Cheryl O’Brien

       This book has been on my to read list for far too long! Last night I sat down to read it not quite sure what to expect. At 1 am I forced myself to pry my eyes away from it and get some sleep. This morning I completed it.

       "Aniko: The Stranger Who Loved Me" by Dr Bob Rich should be compulsory reading in all schools world wide. In this story we see so clearly the evils of discrimination, the horrors of war, the sheer despair that comes from politicking and the crushing effects of greed and selfishness. We also see the effects of deep and abiding love, the power that comes from a deep sense of community, the lifting up of the broken by compassion.

       To be Jewish was tough for Aniko, to be a woman who was Jewish in a world increasingly being taken over by the Nazis should have been sufficient to diminish this woman in her adolescence. Rising above the challenges before her, Aniko faces the world with determination, wit and an extraordinary sense of compassion. Stripped of the future she had planned and studied for so carefully with her father's blessing, she created a new future, stripped of that, she created yet another and so her life evolved and grew. The man she had come to love and adore sent her beloved first born son, Robi away from Hungary to Australia. Wretched with grief for the loss, she recreates herself and her family again.

       Like his mother, Robi Reich has the capacity to evolve his life and so from the adolescent immigrant in the company of a disgruntled uncle he has evolved into the masterful author, loving professional grandfather, compassionate counselling psychologist, and very determined environmentalist. Dr Bob Rich shares with the reader the very soul of his mother, the woman who loved him so dearly her love reached around the globe to envelop and guide him.

    Cheryl is herself a talented writer, and passionate about making this world a better place. We've been email friends for a long time. She bought a copy of Ascending Spiral, and chose Aniko as the second book I offer to people who do so.

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Michael Thal

       Buddhism is an ancient philosophy studying the human mind. As you read Bob Rich’s new novel, Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance, you can’t help but notice the Buddhist Four Noble Truths written between the lines of this exquisite page- turner.

       The First Noble Truth states that life includes pain, disease, aging, and death. Through the eyes of Pip, the main protagonist, we learn of his early experience with the Nazis and how that encounter tormented his soul. Through Pip’s determination, he digs within himself to uncover four past lives to bare the suffering his soul has experienced over the centuries.

       During this literal soul searching, Pip learns the Second Noble Truth—craving, an emotion most of us know too well, and causes suffering. But as an extraterrestrial? Overcoming this suffering and finding happiness is a difficult assignment explained in the Third Noble Truth, and a goal of each of Pip’s five lives, two of which take place beyond our solar system.

       In a fluid writing style that will captivate readers from the first page to the last, Rich brings us a novel that is thought provoking as well as humbling. He brilliantly unfolds a story that entertains as well as educates as Pip develops wisdom and empathy—the Fourth Noble Truth. Ascending Spiral is a novel based on an ancient philosophy, but perfect for our times.

    Michael Thal taught public education at the elementary and secondary levels for 28 years. He's the father of two adult well-adjusted daughters.

    Posted on The LA Examiner.

    Reshaping Reality
    by Robin Marvel

       From the very beginning, this book spoke universal wisdoms to me: things I know, and teach to my psychotherapy clients on a daily basis. So, read Reshaping Reality, and save on the cost of therapy! I think many people are aware of these truths, but we need constant reminders of them because they are submerged in the humdrum rush of everyday life. Most of us sleepwalk much of the time, and need a wakeup call to live deliberately and consciously.

       Some of these wonderful lessons are:

  • Childhood suffering is an opportunity for growth, if you choose to break the generational cycle.
  • The ego -- wanting more, wanting to seem better, to fit in, to beat the opposition -- is a source of unhappiness. Let go all that illusion to attain contentment, regardless of your circumstances.
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities.
  • The Buddhist lesson that suffering is from attachment. Robin explains this beautifully: detaching is about owning your emotions.


  • Negative thoughts are only noise until you give them meaning. This is only a small sample. You need to read the book, and more important, you can achieve a contented life by applying it to the way you live.

    Robin Marvel is the survivor of a terrible childhood. She used this for growth, and in this book she teaches you how to follow in her steps.

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Darrell Bain

       Bob Rich has crafted a very unusual novel and in the process he delved into both the virtues and vices of the human race. Despite bringing into focus the myriad ways humans can be so cruel and vicious toward each other and toward groups with different attitudes or beliefs than their own, he contrasts this bloody-mindedness of our species with the way we are also capable of deep love and sacrifice in response to the suffering of others.

       Rich uses a central character in different guises to tie epochs together that span continents and millennia, ranging from Viking times to the modern era and beyond. What he does in the process is make us think about what we're reading despite the tendency to become absorbed in a truly memorable novel.

       Bob Rich's concern for and appreciation of the environment of Earth stands out clearly, connecting man and Earth in a bond, one that is too easily broken and certainly not taken seriously enough.

       When you pick up this book and turn the first page, prepare yourself for a journey through history that is accurate and deeply moving despite scenes that sometimes depict all too well how often and how badly we treat those different from us. A book to remember and re-read.

    Darrell Bain

    Darrell writes wonderful science fiction, and also books that give you great belly laughs. His writing has won a large number of prizes and awards, and before Barnes and Noble bought and gutted Fictionwise, he was that web site's top seller a number of times, and with reason.

    Build your backyard clay oven
    by Gavin Webber

       This delightful little e-book is a good recipe for two kinds of fun: building a dome oven, and cooking in it. As you read, you can hear Gavin chatting to you about it, explaining things in simple, no nonsense terms.

       The illustrative photographs make the book easy to use.

       The step by step instructions are meticulously thought out and clearly presented. I wish I had instructions this detailed for building my first house!

       His choice of materials and techniques were environmentally sound. For example, he used clay dug out from his own soil (during the construction of Cluckingham Palace, the place for the chooks), and when he could, he got free or second hand bricks and things. This is a good example to follow.

       I approve of a lifestyle of doing things for yourself, living a varied, full life instead of the one-dimensional existence most people unthinkingly follow. Although building an oven in your backyard may superficially seem like a luxury, it is not. It is part of returning to the meaningful, enjoyable way of doing things humans evolved to do.

    Gavin Webber runs an enormously popular blog you should visit: "The Greening of Gavin." During the day he has an IT job, but describes his private life like this: "An Ordinary Australian Man Who Has A Green Epiphany Whilst Watching A Documentary, Gets a Hybrid Car, Plants A Large Organic Vegetable Garden, Goes Totally Solar, Lowers Consumption, Feeds Composts Bins and Worms, Harvests Rainwater, Raises Chickens, Makes Cheese and Soap, and Eats Locally. All In The Effort To Reduce Our Family's Carbon Footprint So We Can Start Making A Difference For Our Children & Future Generations To Come."

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Dr Carl Stonier

       Although I've never physically met Bob Rich, the author of this fascinating book, we've known each other online for about 10 years and have collaborated on a book on cancer survivorship. During that time I've come to know Bob as a wise, caring, compassionate and deeply spiritual human being, passionate about matters that are truly important -- the emotional health of other humans, the ecological wellbeing of the planet, living sustainably -- and the astute reader may well recognise this description as applying to Dr Pip Lipkin, the main protagonist of Ascending Spiral. The work is described as a novel, but that immediately places it into a category, and I do not think that this unique book can be categorised. Indeed, I disagree with one of the reviewers quoted in the book itself, who describes it as genre-busting -- rather, I would call it genre-defying, since it contains elements of fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, spirituality, history, ecology and a very large dose of autobiography. The storyline is about the evolution of the soul of the being that becomes Pip Lipkin over 12000 years -- which might seem like sci fi to some, but not to those of us who have been around enough times to realise that life is a school, and the curriculum is too big for one lifetime, so we keep on coming back until the lessons are learned and wisdom is achieved. This is where Pip has now got to. He has done bad things in his past lives. He has paid the price in other lives. He has learned from his actions, and he now has the realisation that "There are two kinds of people on this planet -- Greenies and Suicides." Our currently unsustainable way of living in the 'developed' world has to stop and be replaced by a much more ecologically sound lifestyle, otherwise humanity is finished -- and within Pip's lifetime.

       This is one of those irritating books that is so compelling that the other things that were planned get sidelined, because you don't want to stop reading it. I thoroughly recommend it as essential reading for every person on the planet, and that way, we might all just continue to live here.

    Carl Stonier

    As Carl said in the review, we go back a long way. He was not only a major contributor to my book Cancer: A personal challenge, he also lined up several other wonderful people to be part of the team. Carl has long standing expertise in working with cancer, and has applied it to heart disease as well. This was the topic of his Ph.D. thesis. His favourable opinion of my book means a lot to me.

    Jamie and the Angel: Meeting Her Guardian Angel
    by Carol Guy

       Each of us is unique, and it is good to be different. Unfortunately, society teaches a harsh lesson: be like everyone else, fit in, do as you’re told -- or you won’t be popular, no one will want to be your friend. The message beneath the message of this lovely little book is that you are different because you have a Gift. This is good not bad, value it, value yourself.

       Little Jamie’s gift is to see people and things others can’t. After she prays to God, an angel comes to her to reassure and guide her. The author, Carol Guy, means this literally, but even if you think of it as a fairytale, it still has the benefits of fairytales: of teaching a lesson which, if followed, will make the world a better place.

       Language difficulty is just right for the target age group of elementary school children. The evocative drawings touch the heart, and the section for parents is another example of a good surface message, with an even better buried message of love and tolerance.

    Carol Guy is a fellow Loving Healing Press author. That in itself is endorsement of quality. She is a psychic, and works to improve people's lives.

    Stolen Secrets
    by Sandra Levy Ceren

       As a psychologist, I can appreciate the genuine knowledge behind Stolen Secrets. Although I use very different techniques from the protagonist Cory Cohen, her attitudes, relationships to her patients, the way she achieves her results ring true for me.

       I could also identify with her dedication to the welfare of the people who entrust her with their secrets. And one secret, both intensely shameful for the person who had divulged it, and dynamite for a candidate for the office of Public Prosecutor, becomes known to someone who uses it for blackmail.

       True to the genre of mystery writing, crime follows crime, danger haunts Cory wherever she turns, and the tension keeps mounting until the final denouement.

       The icing on the cake is a slowly developing romance, and again, we don’t know till the final paragraph whether it will be consummated.

       There is always a message behind a story, and I approve of this one: the need for decency, honesty, loyalty.

       If you like a whodunit, this book will give you an exciting and pleasant evening’s read.

    Dr Sandra Levy Ceren is a psychologist, her heroine is a psychologist, and so Sandra follows the adage, "write what you know." She is the author of several books on marital counselling, and three novels, one also featuring Cory Cohen.

    About Bobbing Around

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

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

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  • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

    Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

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