Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 5

Bobbing Around

Volume Thirteen, Number Five
December, 2013

Bob Rich’s (melting ice coloured) rave

email  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Responses to past issues
  From Rayne Golay
  The Little Red House
  I like this bloke!
  Australia receives three awards in Warsaw
  Some people are catching up with me
  Really, who are the asylum seekers?
  Sadly, my predictions are coming true
  Paper doesn’t need to kill trees
  Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands, by Ollivier Girard
  If all the ice melted
  Why we should be sceptical — about media content
  Our sustainability crisis didn’t start and doesn’t stop at climate change, by Steb Fisher
  Oil Pipeline Explodes In China, Killing 35 And Setting The Ocean On Fire, by Andrew Breiner
*Good news
  Breakthrough Shoe-Recycling Technology Gives Old Kicks New Life, by Beth Buczynski
  Sydney City’s plan for renewable power, by Nicholas Brown
  Turning Detroit into Farms and Forests
  BHP Billiton scraps plans for new coal port at Abbot Point in Queensland
  Colorado Voters Send a Loud and Clear Message to the Natural Gas Industry, by Beth Buczynski
  Soweto environmental project gives young black people pride
  A brilliant addition to your pushbike
  Homemade Kitchen ‘Scrubbers’ From Mesh Plastic Bags, by Sayward Rebhal
  Pharmacy costs assistance
  Is milk good or bad for bones?
  Your Splenda Addiction Is (Probably) Giving the Planet Cancer, by Beth Buczynski
  Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD, by Marilyn Wedge
  Quitting Smoking Timeline
*Deeper issues
  How to face the end with equanimity
  Putting the LIGHT back into Enlightenment: An Action Plan by Gini Gentry
  A dog as smart as a child
  The Moon as our free energy source?
  St Nicholas not Santa Claus
  The evil force of belief in evil
  Help! My little daughters are sexual with their father
  My sister has ruined my life
  I must stop being violent
  I am a failure
*For writers
  What should happen next?
  Stop Boredom: Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences, by Joan Y. Edwards
*What my friends want you to know
  Sharing With Writers, from Carolyn
  Second Koolura book by Michael Thal
  3 books by Michael Kechula
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Florence Weinberg
  Anselm, a Metamorphosis, by Florence Weinberg

Keep experimenting!

This is a second attempt at Bobbing Around via WordPress. I am playing around with the method of production, and appearance. Any feedback gratefully appreciated. Maybe someone knowledgeable could suggest a better “theme” to use.

Also, I have so much good material that I have shortened the number of words borrowed from elsewhere, and am instead using the wonderful connectivity of the internet. Let me know if this is a negative for you.

One problem so far is with links to bookmarks on another page. WordPress is being coy about that, so I have not been able to properly archive the last issue. Again, advice will be gratefully received.

I’ve been interviewed

…by a lady who has no web site or blog, so she has asked me to publish it. It’s here on this site: look at Jean and Bob: a chat about Pip. I think you’ll enjoy it.

A workshop that may interest you

I am now officially retired as a psychologist. I will continue as a life coach and counsellor, but this will leave me lots of free time. My new idea is to offer online workshops on a variety of topics. The first one I am researching has the tentative title “Moving the opinion of climate change deniers.” At this stage, I am collecting expressions of interest. If you want to express yours, please go to

A letter to my bank

I have been a Commonwealth Bank customer since you took over the State Bank of Victoria. I am very satisfied with the service, and the staff at my local bank are close to being friends.

At the same time, I am a committed conservationist. Being a professional grandfather, I want to do everything possible to save something of a future for the children of the world. I am very uncomfortable with the investments made by the CBA. I would like you to get out of anything to do with mining, selling or using coal, and other industries that exacerbate climate change and pollution.

Did you know, apart from the generation of carbon dioxide, coal dust is a carcinogen (the first ever occupational cancer identified was due to soot on chimneysweep boys in London in the 19th Century), and burning coal generates several air pollutants that are a major health problem?

There is a new local Bendigo Bank branch. Persuade me that I should not switch to them.


There were some sailors in a boat, which started to ship water. One sailor began to dig a hole under his seat to let the water out. The others stopped him at once. He was very surprised and rather angry. ‘What right have you got to stop me?’ he said. ‘I was digging a hole under my seat, not yours.’

Old Jewish parable, supplied by Karl Kofoed

Responses to past issues

From Rayne Golay
Hi Bob,

A very good issue of Bobbing Around. The banner is very attractive. In fact, I prefer this format to the previous. It’s clear, easy to follow. Here and there the font slips, but these are minor start up glitches.

Keep it up. You’re doing a great job. I particularly enjoyed your replies to reader questions. You give useful information, but don’t substitute yourself as their counselor.


Rayne is a talented writer, author of the award winning novel The Wooden Chair, which I have reviewed.


The Little Red House
I like this bloke!
Australia receives two awards in Warsaw
Some people are catching up with me
Really, who are the asylum seekers?


The Little Red House

C. J. Dennis is one of Australia’s famous poets. A man with a sense of humour, he painted the society of his times in vivid colours. The Little Red House is one of his gems.


Also, he lived in Toolangi, near my home, which is an area currently devastated by the clearfelling of mature native forest by an idiot government. We locals have been protesting in many ways, and now a new action has caught public attention. Hannah Patchett is living in the Little Red House, 25 metres off the ground, in the Toolangi forest. She is just outside a “coupe” marked for devastation.

Look it up on Facebook, and give Hannah your support.


I like this bloke!




Australia receives three awards in Warsaw

…that is, three awards of shame. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is probably glowing with pride that his actions have led to international recognition:

1. “Fossil of the Day on the summit’s first day.” The award is given by the international Climate Action Network to the country which has done the most to block progress at the climate change negotiations on that day.

2. Fossil of the Day Awards on Wednesday. This one was for seeking to repeal the carbon price (hence “hurling Australia back into the abyss of time,” as opposed to the more than 40 countries, states and provinces who have moved into the modern times with a carbon price) and also stripping $435 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and removing $10 billion of investment in clean energy.

3. Finally, on the last day of the conference, Australia was honoured as the “Colossal Fossil,” the worst of the worst.

Read the full report.


Some people are catching up with me

“We Have to Consume Less”: Scientists Call For Radical Economic Overhaul to Avert Climate Crisis.


Really, who are the asylum seekers?
by Emma Hunter

You MUST read this wonderful report in The Guardian by a mental health nurse who had worked on Christmas Island, with refugees abused by the Australian government’s inhuman policies.


I agree!
Sadly, my predictions are coming true
Paper doesn’t need to kill trees
Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands by Ollivier Girard
If all the ice melted
Why we should be sceptical — about media content
Our sustainability crisis didn’t start and doesn’t stop at climate change by Steb Fisher
Oil Pipeline Explodes In China, Killing 35 And Setting The Ocean On Fire by Andrew Breiner


I agree!

Former UK environment minister and chair of the government’s climate advisers, John Gummer, said, “Calling coal a clean solution is like characterising sex trafficking as marriage guidance.”


Sadly, my predictions are coming true

Thom Hartmann, writing at Alternet has summarised the current evidence on global methane release and its implications. We are heading for even more severe mass extinctions, including the possible extinction of humans, at a very short time scale, because of the risk that the already observed extremely rapid methane release is increasing.

I suggest you read my essay, But there is no need for despair.


Paper doesn’t need to kill trees

In my part of the world, the government is waging a war on the forests. Irreplaceable hardwood alpine rainforest is being clearfelled to produce woodchips for Nippon Paper. This doesn’t even generate money: the taxpayer is out of pocket for millions of dollars a year from the operations of Vicforest, the state-owned company responsible.

On an average day, I’ve counted 30 huge log-laden trucks thunder through Healesville. They are so frequent that the west-bound side of routes they take is visibly more worn than the other way — more taxpayers’ subsidy to destroying the lungs of the planet.

I am not alone in being upset by this. A wonderful little group of people, “The Knitting Nanas of Toolangi,” have been protesting to the point of being arrested. I am delighted to let you know that the Magistrate gave them as small a slap on the wrist as the law allowed him, then said, “If good people stand by and do nothing then bad things happen.” Since he had to impose a monetary fine, he ordered them to make a small donation to Lands for Wildlife.

And actually, it’s crazy to turn trees into paper. E. F. Schumacher wrote that when you make something from a living being, the product should last as long as the source took to grow. Toilet paper and magazines don’t qualify. Houses do.

Paper is cellulose arranged in a particular way. Huge quantities of cellulose are burnt every year; the waste product of agriculture. An Indian company now makes perfectly good office paper from wheat straw, and ships it worldwide. Check them out.


Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands
by Ollivier Girard

Much of our planet suffers occasional drought: parts of Africa, the USA and Australia are often at risk. One of the effects of climate change is that such areas suffer drought of increasing severity, with increasing frequency.

Now it has been found that this has a positive feedback loop. A great deal of carbon is locked up in soil. As soils dry out, they contain less carbon and nitrogen and more phosphorous, which cuts plant and microbial activity, with knock-on effects on plant growth.

Read the report here.


If all the ice melted

Have a look at an interactive map series by National Geographic.


Why we should be sceptical — about media content

Wendy Bacon has reported on an analysis of climate-change related content in major Australian newspapers. It depends on who owns the paper. Surprised?


Our sustainability crisis didn’t start and doesn’t stop at climate change
by Steb Fisher

stebSteb is one of my fellow workers in Transform Australia, a movement all Australians should join. Among other things, he is a Senior Lecturer in Environment and Sustainability at Monash University.

In this essay published by The Conversation, he eloquently argues for a point of view I have often expressed: climate change is merely one of the symptoms of the real problem. Read his view on what would happen if we magically made climate change to away.


Oil Pipeline Explodes In China, Killing 35 And Setting The Ocean On Fire
by Andrew Breiner

An oil pipeline exploded in Qingdao in China, killing 35 people and injuring 166 by the latest count. The explosion spilled oil into the ocean, and temporarily shut down one of China’s largest crude import terminals.

The pipeline is owned by Sinopec Corp, China’s largest oil refiner, and connects Huangdao to Weifang in the northeastern province of Shandong. It began leaking oil into Qingdao’s streets and port early Friday morning. The pipeline was shut off about 15 minutes after the leak began, and workers began repairs. Then, around 10:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. Thursday EST) the oil caught fire and exploded in two locations.

The underground pipeline’s explosion opened a hole in the road that swallowed at least one truck, according to Reuters, and oil seeped into utility pipes under Qingdao. Gas and oil exploded and caught fire over the sea, according to the Qingdao Environmental Protection Bureau, and barriers were set up to keep it from spreading further than the 32,000 square feet already contaminated.

It is as yet unclear how Sinopec’s Qingdao refinery, which processes 240,000 barrels per day of imported crude, would be affected.

China’s last major oil spill occurred in 2010 in Dalian, another northeastern port, when two pipelines exploded, spilling between 18 and 27 million gallons of oil into the Yellow Sea, at least as much as the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Good news

Breakthrough Shoe-Recycling Technology Gives Old Kicks New Life by Beth Buczynski
Sydney City’s plan for renewable power by Nicholas Brown
Turning Detroit into Farms and Forests
BHP Billiton scraps plans for new coal port at Abbot Point in Queensland
Colorado Voters Send a Loud and Clear Message to the Natural Gas Industry by Beth Buczynski
Soweto environmental project gives young black people pride


Breakthrough Shoe-Recycling Technology Gives Old Kicks New Life
by Beth Buczynski

By this point, we’re all pretty familiar with the basics of recycling: You separate cans, glass and plastic into bins, and they’re carted off to be transformed back into their most basic elements.

Some things, like shoes, are more difficult to recycle, however. Whether they’re heels or hiking boots, chances are most of us have worn a pair of shoes past the point of being able to repair them or donate them to a thrift shop. It seems so wasteful to just toss them in the trash, but the local recycling service certainly won’t take them in the curbside bin. So what are we to do?

What makes shoe recycling difficult is that they’re made of a combination of vastly different materials. Unlike glass, which can just be melted down and formed into new glass objects, a shoe can be made of up to 40 different materials, including leather, vinyl, rubber, metal, glue, and natural and synthetic fabrics.

Separating what can be repurposed from what can’t is a time consuming process, that up until recently was too expensive to be worthwhile. But a new system developed by scientists at Loughborough University in the UK could change all of that.

Intrigued? Read on at


Sydney City’s plan for renewable power

by Nicholas Brown
Allan Jones, the chief development officer of Energy and Climate Change for Sydney, intends to have the city rely entirely on renewable energy sources for power, heating, cooling, and transport.

Jones, formerly the head of the UK’s climate program, was recently interviewed by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute. He commented on the ambitious nature of this program, as shown in this video, followed by some text summary in the following sections.

Very importantly, the initiative is to provide not only power, but also heating and cooling, using only renewable energy.

Jones intends to have conventional renewables (wind and solar) generate 30 per cent of the city’s electricity, with the other 70 per cent coming from trigeneration (using biomass-fueled generators). Trigeneration, or combined heat, power and cooling (CHPC) is a process in which a plant generates electricity and then uses the waste heat it produces to provide heating and cooling. The heat is used to power absorption refrigerators to provide a cooling effect.

The thought of heat-powered air conditioning sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Part of the plan is to use only local renewable energy, in order to avoid transmission losses and to avoid the storm damage risk that accompanies overhead electricity transmission lines. As Diane Moss, the founding director of the Renewables 100 Policy Institute, said:

“Behind the decision were several factors. Included among them was the fact that the city has little land space, so only 18 per cent of Sydney’s renewable energy needs can be met with solar and wind power within the city boundaries. The City of Sydney also set the parameter that no remote renewables should be used, in order to avoid the energy loss and vulnerability to storm damage that come with overhead grid transmission and distribution networks.”

To overcome this issue, land just outside the city will be used to generate some of the renewable energy.

Read on at Climate Spectator.


Turning Detroit into Farms and Forests

The story of Detroit is a familiar one for anyone living in the so-called rust belt of the USA, where the once-mighty automotive manufacturing industries have left many towns and cities shadows of their former selves. Now bankrupt, Detroit’s population has halved over the last fifty years. No one actually knows just how many buildings are abandoned, but it is estimated at over 1/3 of all structures. In the midst of this urban decay, farming has started to fill the hole left by industry.

Local businessman John Hantz just bought 600,000 square meters of land from the city of Detroit with an option to buy an additional 700,000, promising to demolish all the existing (abandoned) buildings, clean up the land, and plant hardwood trees. The Bank of America announced plans to demolish 100 homes and donate the land to urban agriculture. They’re not alone, as other small-scale urban farmers are adapting what’s left of the city to meet their needs. Detractors are quick to point out that urban farming will never be a large-scale, mass-produced operation that could compete with big agriculture, but urban farmers have a different goal in mind. Greg Willerer of Detroit says that he isn’t trying to save the world, just to save his city.

“For all intents and purposes, there is no government here,” says Willerer. While Detroit’s story is unique for now, the finances of other similarly affected cities may mean that the Motor City won’t be alone in its misery for long. Detroit’s urban farmers are helping to make the city more self-sufficient even when its own government has given up.

From Next Nature magazine.


BHP Billiton scraps plans for new coal port at Abbot Point in Queensland

This is not because they have suddenly listened to complaints on environmental grounds, but because coal prices are falling, global demand for coal is falling. But it’s great news all the same.

The Guardian


Colorado Voters Send a Loud and Clear Message to the Natural Gas Industry
by Beth Buczynski

Many of my fellow Coloradans are jubilant after winning major victories in the fight against fracking during yesterday’s election. Voters in the cities of Fort Collins, Boulder and Lafayette voted to either ban fracking outright, or instate a moratorium on new fracking operations and the disposal of fracking waste for a period of years. In the city of Broomfield, results are so close — in the neighborhood of 13 votes — that a recount must occur before the issue is settled. Still, in a fight that can only be characterized as “David vs. Goliath” these victories send a clear message to those trying to push fracking on Colorado citizens.

Read on to find out how ordinary people beat a huge financial and misinformation campaign from the fossil fuel industry. If they can defend themselves, so can you.


Soweto environmental project gives young black people pride

Duduzile Ntuli, a young black professional in Soweto, has come up with a brilliant concept: she has converted an illegal dumping site to a green park and community organic garden. She convinced teenagers to become enthusiastic about the project by presenting it as “cool.” Youngsters now come there to enjoy parties, and have developed a sense of ownership, and an appreciation of the environment. They have already won an award as one of the best environmental rehabilitation projects in Soweto.


A brilliant addition to your pushbike
Homemade Kitchen ‘Scrubbers’ From Mesh Plastic Bags by Sayward Rebhal


A brilliant addition to your pushbike

Sticky Bottle reports on a new invention, now in the development phase, that has the promise of revolutionising the bicycle. It is a wheel with an electric motor you can install on any bike, with all sorts of intriguing abilities…


Homemade Kitchen ‘Scrubbers’ From Mesh Plastic Bags
by Sayward Rebhal

Never wanting to waste and always out to conserve, I’m forced to get a little creative when finding new uses for all that random plastic debris that somehow seems to find its way into our homes. Even when we try to avoid plastic like it’s the plague, there’s always something sneaking in. Say, for example, that certain type of produce bag that’s often used to hold garlic, ginger, shallots, and the like.

These particular produce bags are popular at many chain grocery stores, and depending on where you shop, they can be almost unavoidable. The bags are always compact in size and course to the touch. Their diamond mesh has a pretty tight weave, and the plastic is tough and wiry. You know the type, right? They’re almost always small, around the size of a deck of cards. Or maybe a sponge. Oh hey, a sponge!

They actually look a lot like a sponge! And with their built-in scouring surface pattern, combined with their especially sturdy plastic composition, they provide the perfect stand-in for a typical store-bought scrubber/scouring pad. Up-cycled, DIY, and totally eco-friendly. Plus — and this is a very big plus — unlike Brillo and SOS pads which are made with animal-derived ingredients, your homemade scrubber will be completely cruelty-free. Here’s how you can make it:

1. First, you’ll need to accumulate a small collection of little mesh produce bags (the coarse plastic only, not the thin wispy stuff). Start stockpiling until you saved 7-10 of them. Make sure that you cut them open across the top with scissors instead of just tearing a random hole. This will ensure that things are easier later on.

2. Choose one baggie to act as the sponge’s exterior. It really doesn’t matter which one, unless you have a shape or color preference. Stuff all of the other baggies into the chosen exterior baggie. Pack them tight, and use your fingers to massage them into place so there aren’t any large bumps or gaps.

3. Sew up the seam along the open side, keeping it as tight as you can. You can use dental floss for this, and you won’t even need to use a needle. But of course, you can also use a needle and thread if you prefer.

And that’s it, you’re finished! Now you can use your scrubber on your soiled pots and pans, your food-stained bake ware, and even on some stovetop spills. But a word of warning: for the truly tough, crusted, and caked-on foodstuff, you’ll want to give the dishes a good solid soak prior to scouring. These little scrubbers are mighty awesome, but they’re still just made of plastic. A bit of prep and some elbow grease will always go a long way.

Read more:


Pharmacy costs assistance
Is milk good or bad for bones?
Your Splenda Addiction Is (Probably) Giving the Planet Cancer by Beth Buczynski
Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD by Marilyn Wedge
Quitting Smoking Timeline


Pharmacy costs assistance

My country, Australia, has a government-funded scheme that greatly reduces the cost of medicines. Since the US doesn’t have such a service, people can sometimes become homeless thanks to the costs of a disease such as cancer.

However, there is a wonderful organization, RX Outreach, which can offer substantial help.

I hope you don’t need their services, but if you do, they’ll be there for you.


Is milk good or bad for bones?

Read this essay and make up your mind.


Your Splenda Addiction Is (Probably) Giving the Planet Cancer
by Beth Buczynski

If you think sugar is bad for you, just take a peek at what fake sugar — those artificial sweeteners we love to think won’t make us fat — does to your body. Splenda, the sugar substitute in those darling yellow packets, is made of sucralose, an additive that has been linked to everything from minor genetic damage in mouse cells to seizures and diabetes in humans.

And that’s not even the scariest part. If you can justify away all the warnings and scientific links to death and disease, there’s still another reason to avoid sucralose: it’s probably killing the planet.

As Take Part blogger Linda Sharps recently wrote, “the fact that we can’t digest or absorb 90 percent of the chemical compound of sucralose means that it mostly goes through our bodies and into sewage treatment systems.” And as we all know (but try not to think about), wastewater eventually makes its way into surface and ground water.

Just like in the body, sucralose’s unique chemical properties prevent it from being broken down in the conventional wastewater treatment process. This means that it’s just hanging out in our water supply, building up year after year, doing… who knows what to the environment.

Typically, a foreign substance in the water supply is bad news for humans, wildlife and the planet. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at something else that’s leaching into the water supply at alarming rates: pesticides. According to U.S. Geological Survey researchers, trace amounts of agricultural chemicals are making their way over long distances, infiltrating national parks and other public lands where wildlife are supposed to be relatively safe from the outside world. This contamination is having a marked negative effect on amphibian populations. In case you didn’t know, frogs are considered a bioindicator species — a canary in the coal mine. If frogs start dying off, it’s an indication that something has gone terribly wrong in the ecosystem.

According to Sharps, “The Environmental Protection Agency has gone so far as to identify sucralose as a ‘contaminant of emerging concern,’ but the long-term effects may not be known until it’s too late.”

I’m no scientist, but I think it’s safe to say that dumping a substance that causes seizures and diabetes into the water supply isn’t going to bode well, for animals, plants or us.

So maybe if you can’t break your Splenda habit to save your own health, you’ll do it to save the planet?



Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD
by Marilyn Wedge

This important little essay is a must-read for parents, especially for those with kids lumbered with the ADD/ADHD label and put on nasty medications.

There is also an implicit recipe there for bringing up children who don’t play up and are secure in their parents’ love — through the provision and enforcement of strict rules.


Quitting Smoking Timeline has an excellent brief essay on the timeline of health benefits from stopping a smoking addiction.

Deeper Issues

How to face the end with equanimity
Putting the LIGHT back into Enlightenment: An Action Plan by Gini Gentry
A dog as smart as a child
The Moon as our free energy source?
St Nicholas not Santa Claus
The evil force of belief in evil


How to face the end with equanimity

I met John a few times, about 25 years ago. He has now contacted me, because he is terribly worried about his daughter, who, he wrote, is suicidally depressed.

When I knew her, she was a delightful teenager, full of energy, vitality and fun. Like her father, she is a committed conservationist. In fact, she is working professionally in an environmental field.

The problem is that, being intelligent and well informed, she is fully aware that we are facing the irreversible destruction of all humanity. As a compassionate, empathetic person, she finds this unbearable.

She is not suffering depression, but anticipatory grief. During the 1950s and ‘60s, many people reacted like this to the threat of nuclear war. That was averted, but what we are facing now needs a miracle for mere survival. It’s too late to prevent the collapse of global civilisation, and the death of billions. So, her response is not pathological, but realistic.

I am sure many people feel like her, and as the blinkers become increasingly difficult to keep in place, their numbers will increase.

My first response to John was to suggest that her daughter read Ascending Spiral, which is built around my personal answer to this terrible issue. I also address it in one of the essays in You too can live in contentment, which I am happy to email to anyone, free.

On the basis of the evidence available to me, I have formed a theory of the Universe. It’s the best model I can think of. If new evidence comes along, I’ll revise it, but in the meantime, it has allowed me complete acceptance, peace in my heart, whatever situation I am facing — as long as I remember to use this way of thinking. Here is my theory:

The Universe is a person (call It God if you like). It was born, is growing and developing, and will eventually age and die. What we can perceive — the 3D-in-time reality — is only a special part or projection of the totality. It is the part designed to grow and develop Its consciousness. It is a collection of billions of schools for souls. Our earth is one such nursery habitat.

All the processes of the universe go around in cycles, which are qualitatively different at different levels, but follow remarkably similar patterns; what I think of as the genetic code of the Universe. For example, stars are formed, develop, age, then die. The death of a star provides the raw materials for new parts of the Universe. The many chemical elements that form our reality are all waste products of the death of stars, billions of years ago.

The same is true at all other levels. People (including humans) are born, develop, age, then die. During a life, a person is presented with opportunities for spiritual growth. While we can go up or down, on the average, over many lives, we grow. Death is not the end of a book, but the end of a chapter. And yes, there is convincing evidence for reincarnation. It need no more be a matter of belief than the shape of the earth is.

Some people live long lives, some die young. That doesn’t matter from the perspective of that person’s long term existence. This life, I might live to be 75. Next life, I might die at 5. So what. I can then have another go.

The same goes for cultures. As Arnold Toynbee demonstrated, cultures are born, develop, age and die. We are now witnessing the dying stages of the culture that started in western Europe and has gone global. I see our job as creating the seeds for a better culture, in the hope that if any humans survive, they will have a chance of building a world worth living in.

Why should this logic, this universal pattern of the Universe, not apply to sentient species, indeed to entire ecosystems?

From within the game of life, suffering and dying are terrible. From a wider viewpoint, suffering is the spur to growth, and death is merely a transition like birth, done over and over. I die. So what. My beloved dies. S/he is still around, merely unattached to a body for now, and we will probably meet and love again, in another life.

So, I maintain my equanimity by accepting this theory. If humans go the way of the dodo, so what. There are billions of other schools in the Universe.

This is not to give up. As I state in my essay But there is no need for despair, the attitude of complete acceptance needs to be combined by continuing to work for the miracle we need.


Putting the LIGHT back into Enlightenment: An Action Plan
by Gini Gentry


If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I’d want to pass along to others…

Free yourself from judgment. Each judgment you have is a complaint with the Divine Mystery.

Let go of your attachment to being right. This doesn’t mean you can’t be right, only that you can’t keep score.

Let go of your attachment to being wrong. Scrutinizing your actions to identify your “mistakes” is a justification for self-judgment. The opposite of being wrong and the opposite of being right is the same — just being.

Stop trying to fix yourself. You are not broken, you don’t need repairing, and you don’t need to try harder. All you need to do is accept yourself as you are.

Get over thinking your belief system is the cornerstone of reality. It isn’t. Everything you think is real is based on an illusion. Laugh, it’s pretty funny if you think about it.

Detach yourself from your need to know. The problem with knowledge is it doesn’t do anything. How much more knowledge do you need to embrace the truth of your magnificence? Your choices will distinguish you, not your knowledge. (Note: There is no exception for bad hair days.)

Stop justifying your actions. To move out of the duality of right/wrong thinking, you must be willing to stop defending your point of view.

Quit blaming anyone, including yourself, for the way you are experiencing the world. There are no victims, only volunteers. Assume responsibility for your experience of life, regardless of where you acquired your point of view.

Release the idea that any one human is better or worse than another. If you feel you are better or worse than someone else, you are still under the influence of the myth of your imperfection.

Make peace with yourself (and everyone else). Peace doesn’t come and go. It is always there. It is you who come and go away from it.

Love actively. The only way to bring love to yourself is by loving. You don’t need to pursue love. You need to love.

Practice, practice, practice what you want to master. If you practice acceptance, you master peace.

Come from your heart. To answer any question, simply ask, “What would love do here?” — then DO IT!

Observe your mind at work. You change yourself by changing how you perceive your world.

Separate your sense of self from your fear. You are not your fearful thoughts and emotions. Fear is simply present. Nothing can hurt you when you know yourself as an immortal aspect of the Divine Mystery.

Remember and live the truth of your magnificence. You need only to remember the birthright of your innate perfection and release everything else.

Once and for all, stop telling tall tales. If your actions don’t match what you say you believe, you are just kidding yourself. It’s time to get real.

P.S. Don’t wait for a “right” time to follow these steps. The future will always arrive now.

Putting the LIGHT back into Enlightenment: An Action Plan (via

Free yourself from judgment. Each judgment you have is a complaint with the Divine Mystery. Let go of your attachment to being right. This doesn’t mean you can’t be right, only that you can’t keep score. Let go of your attachment to being wrong…

Gini Gentry’s teachings stem from the heart of Toltec wisdom while at the same time embracing the unity of truth held within all the mystery traditions. She is committed to revealing the love, honest reflection, and outrageous joy that is our divine birthright with a provocative and often humorously entertaining style.


A dog as smart as a child

Piper Hoffman has reported about a dog who has succeeded at intellectual tasks that would challenge many humans.

This account adds to the very long line of evidence that animals are people, with different sets of abilities from us and each other, as determined by their anatomy, but like us in everything that matters.

My friend Chris Gallard refers to his beautiful dog Jed as “A person with a speech impediment.”


The Moon as our free energy source?

Suppose we could generate unlimited, free energy that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases, has no environmental footprint once it is set up, and is without the terrible dangers of existing modern technology (nuclear disasters, fires and explosions of combustible liquids and gases, oil spills, replacement of other land uses by extraction…)?

A group in Japan has come up with an idea that could accomplish this. They want to put a band of solar collectors around the moon, so that energy can be microwaved down 24/24.

At first sight, this is a brilliant solution to several problems, including the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. To get it set up will certainly be expensive (in environmental and financial terms), but this investment should soon be recovered. The benefits could be huge, giving us time to make the changes necessary for survival.


But it’s straight-line thinking, and doesn’t take into account all the many ways energy use (as distinct from energy supply) is wrecking our world.

The Second Report of the Club of Rome demonstrated that any one problem can be solved by technological ingenuity, but only by making one or more other problems worse. This concept is a perfect illustration. Here are a few consequences I can think of without much effort:

You can’t escape the laws of thermodynamics. All concentrated energy ends up as heat. The solar energy captured on the Moon currently does not come to Earth. When it does, it will inevitably end up in global warming. I unsuccessfully tried to find figures to work out how much energy is released by global human activity (help accepted!), but know it is a significant addition to the effects of greenhouse gases. Currently, we are converting fossil carbon, and to a lesser extent, nuclear energy, into heat. Replacing this with additional energy from the sun will solve some problems, but is likely to add to total heat energy by allowing continued economic growth without a few of its terrible consequences.

Burning fossil fuels yield greenhouse gases and pollution, and these would be reduced/eliminated by the Moon idea. However, again by allowing continued economic growth, it would facilitate the continued replacement of topsoil by human constructions; the degradation of soil through factory farming; the release into the environment of an endless series of toxic chemicals from industry and post-consumer waste.

Water supply is another problem that has already had effects, and is looming as a disaster.

Ocean acidification, and sea level rise, will now continue whatever we do. It is too late to reverse these processes.

The various global problems facing us are direct consequences of an economy that can only thrive through growth. Fixing any one of the symptoms, such as climate change, will only make the totality worse by further enabling growth for a while. The only solution is to get off the addiction to growth, and that’s only possible by an internal change achieved by individuals like you and me: Live simply so you may simply live. Only two things matter in life: what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others. Everything else is Monopoly money.

It’s all in this famous quote:

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find — that money cannot be eaten.
Chief Seattle


St Nicholas not Santa Claus

I don’t like Santa Claus. His visit leads to the crunch, crunch, crunch of plastic toys underfoot. The whole atmosphere is one of buying, consumption, wanting happiness through STUFF. It is excellent training to turn kids into consumers.

My wife’s family has a different tradition, St Nicholas. Because they are Dutch, they follow the historically far more accurate Dutch custom. On his birthday, the 5th of December, St Nicholas arrives by ship from Madrid (he was Bishop of Madrid when the Netherlands were a colony of Spain). He rides off the ship on his magnificent horse, and is followed by his servants, led by their chief Black Peter. The servants scatter gifts to the children.

In my family’s variation, all gifts come from St Nic, not from one person to another. Specially and uniquely handmade is preferred to bought. For example, when we were expecting our second child, my gift from St Nic, almost certainly aided by sister-in-law Carla, was in a box with “KEEP COOL” printed on it (recycled from being a food container). Inside was a little plastic apron and gloves, scissors, a ribbon for tying off the umbilical cord, a block of chocolate to help the new father to cope, and so on.

The gifts are accompanied by little poems, apt for the recipient. They don’t need to be great literature, but should be designed to raise a laugh without ridiculing the person.

The message under the message is giving not receiving, of creating rather than buying, of fun rather than greed.
I thoroughly recommend you switch your family to this tradition, and I am not alone. Have a look at Green Father Christmas.


The evil force of belief in evil

A recent paper published in Scientific American focuses on an interesting question: not whether evil exists, but the effects of a belief that it does.

My view has always been that people may DO evil, but this in no way reflects on who or what they are. This is powerful: people always have the potential of learning to do things differently.

Believing the opposite is one of the forces that LEADS to acting in an evil way yourself, and this is the conclusion of this scientific study.


Help! My little daughters are sexual with their father
My sister has ruined my life
I must stop being violent
I am a failure


Help! My little daughters are sexual with their father

I’m not sure how to say this because I don’t know exactly what I am saying. I have been married for six years and with my husband for over twelve years. We have four children ages 8(f), 6(f), 5(m), 1(f). He works full time at a job he hates and I attend school at night. We moved here a few years ago so we don’t have any family in the area and it feels like a culture shock a lot of the time. We plan on moving in a year, after I graduate.

We have been together since I was 14 and he was 15, we were each other’s first. Six years ago I had an affair. It was about two months, nothing sexually happened besides a kiss, but my husband found out. We stayed together. He retaliated by getting oral sex. We moved on and then two years ago he had sex with two different women on separate occasions. We have a healthy sex life but his libido is a lot higher than mine. He’s been exposed to pornography and sexual things since he was a child. He indulges in a lot of porn and masturbates several times a day.

He recently told me that my 8 y/o touched his penis. He says he explained what it was and that she should not touch it. But now when I leave to go to class she tells him that she’s kept their secret. Today he said my 6 y/o dry humped him. I am furious and he is suicidal. He feels like he has ruined his image. Even though he has no sexual attraction to our kids or young girls period, he feels like a monster. I hate him for putting me in this situation and my girls for not saying anything. Nothing sexually has happened but why would they keep this a secret from me. I told him we will need to have a family meeting and discuss what has happened but I feel like things will never be the same. I don’t know what else to do. I have told him that he can cheat which may have made him feel worst because he believes this is not in my natural character. I just want our marriage to work at least until I finish school and I can support our family.

How do I not resent my daughters for lying to me and how do I trust him? What do I say to not damage my relationships when we talk to one another?

Dear Kath,

This is a terrible situation for both of you, and you are right to be worried: it could cause long term damage to your children.

So, I am writing both to you and your husband.

The first way you can improve your quality of life, not just through this issue but for everything, is to distinguish blame from responsibility. Both of you have made serious mistakes. Both blame the other, and feel ashamed of your own.

What’s more, your children have modeled on you. When your daughters did things they were told off for, they felt so ashamed and terrified of negative judgment that they wanted to keep the act a secret. They were not lying (most 6 year olds don’t yet have the concept of truth and lying, and even an 8 year old may be shaky on it), but modeling on their parents in feeling shame.

This is my attitude to mistakes:

“There is no such thing as a mistake, fault of defect.
There are only learning opportunities.
When you make a mistake:
1. Apologise to yourself within your heart and forgive yourself.
2. If possible and appropriate, apologise to other people affected.
3. If possible and appropriate, make restitution.
4. Work out how you can do it better next time.
If you find that a past act was a mistake, that’s proof that you’ve gained in wisdom.
The worst thing you can do is to beat yourself up with shame and guilt. You are responsible for having made the mistake, and the above addresses that.”

So, the question is: what can we do to make our lives better as a result of our past mistakes?

Second, it is possible that your husband has both a family history and a genetic tendency for early sexual development, and your daughters are likely to have inherited his genetic pattern. Everyone has handicaps. It is just a matter of learning to make the best rather than worst of them. A genetic tendency is not a doom but a potential.

If, with a lot of unconditional love, acceptance and tolerance, the two of you teach your children how to cope with the need for stimulation of sexual areas and preoccupation with sex, then you can protect them from future problems. For example, you (not your husband) can teach your girls to masturbate, and tell them to keep this completely private. Explain in age-appropriate language that many people will pick on them or make fun of them if they find out about rubbing themselves, but this is OK to do in private, and much better than to have sex with the wrong people (parents, brothers/sisters, casual acquaintances). You can emphasize that sexual contact is wrong unless it is part of something very wonderful: the love and long term commitment of two people to each other. They are allowed to satisfy their own physical needs. They are allowed to have thoughts about doing things like that with other people, if those thoughts come. But they need to stop themselves from DOING it.

Third, what you tell your kids is far less important than the role model you present to them. From this moment on, the two of you need to live in the way you would like your kids to live as adults. This means that no, your husband should not have permission (from himself or you) to cheat on you. Both of you need to be committed to being faithful to each other. Forgive the past mistakes, and move on into full 100% mutual trustworthiness and therefore trust.

If, in order to stay faithful to you without going sex-starved, your husband needs to continue some socially disapproved habits, he can do so with your permission, privately, and without the kids knowing about them. This is not being dishonest, but choosing the best available path.

Have a good life,


My sister has ruined my life

Hi Bob,

My sister has branded me a thief, and I have lost my home, jobs, and friends, they found out who it really was two and a half years later, but the damage is done. I can’t sleep properly, and I don’t know what to do. She also phones my employers and bad mouths me. I am a class one h.g. V driver, and with not getting proper sleep, I have had to give up Work. Now she is trying to put me in a mental home, and tells everyone I have mental health issues. It is never ending with her. My other sister’s friends have stolen an iPod and money from me, and I just get “you’re mentally ill” from them when I ask for them back. I need somewhere to go where I can clear my head. I am near ending it all. Please could you help. I sit alone every night and day, depressed because of what she has done. It all started eight years ago when she tried to put my physically and mentally ill sister in a home, and sell my late father’s house which he bought for her, and because I refused to go along with her, she destroyed everything I have. I need help. She has ruined my life over this, and I don’t know what to do.

Dear Sam,

This is a dreadful situation, and no doubt even worse because it is being done by someone who should be your friend not enemy.

My immediate question is, what continues to keep you in your city? Having lost your home, jobs, friends, and much or all of your family, what is still holding you there?

As a highly experienced driver, I suspect you can get work anywhere in Britain, or perhaps anywhere in the EU. Sometimes, a big loss is actually a big opportunity. Think about how you would like the rest of your life to be, and then start taking practical steps to achieve that.

A way of easing into a new life in a new place may be to travel. There is a wonderful organisation: WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms).

Check that out. You can travel and work in many countries within the EU, and mix working at casual jobs or driving with doing voluntary work through WWOOF. This way, you’ll get a holiday from your toxic situation, meet many wonderful people, and get a feel for where you may want to settle.

If there are people in your home city you want to stay close to, they might follow you once you’ve rebuilt a good life.

Good luck,


I must stop being violent

I become very violent and always accuse my wife that she is sleeping with other men. I don’t care who is in the room when I act violent. I go on with my anger and even threaten my own life if I don’t get my own way. I continue to have these episodes and I cannot stand a second longer.

I NEED A CURE for Borderline Personality Disorder. Is there any one any doctor in here that know how to cure this malicious virus? It is destroying my family and me. PLEASE SOMEONE HELP!

Hi Carlos,

First, this behavior pattern doesn’t necessarily mean that you have BPD. Have you had this diagnosis formally inflicted on you?

If so, there are several evidence-based therapeutic programs that work. The best established are “Dialectical Behavior Therapy” and an adaptation of “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.”

Let us just look at the problem you have outlined, which I’d call Jealous Rage.

You do realize, if anything is going to have her leave you, it’s the jealousy. She may be perfectly faithful, never, ever cheat on you, but will sooner or later have enough of your tantrums.

So, if you want to keep her, then treat her with respect and gentleness, HOWEVER YOU FEEL INSIDE.

Here is something I give to clients with an anger problem:

Handling anger
You didn’t ask to feel angry. It happened. You are not responsible for BEING angry, but for how you respond to it. You are what you DO, not what you feel.
Learn to take half a second before responding.
You then have at least 6 choices:
• Yes, in this situation I should throw a tantrum.
• Not worth bothering, I’ll just walk away.
• Handle it assertively (you can look up what that means).
• Take time out. Calm down, think out how I should respond, then return and deal with the issue.
• Humour (not AT other people). Turn the issue aside with a joke.
• Vigorous exercise. Let it out through chopping wood, pummelling a punching bag or big pillow, go for a run.
Anger is often the result of faulty thinking. Start by respecting both yourself and other people.

I suspect the last sentence may possibly apply to you. If you can afford it, get a few sessions of therapy from a psychologist.
Now that you have decided to change — you can.


I am a failure

I’m a 21 years old drop-out college student. I left my family to start a life with my boyfriend and his family. I live in hope of getting married, getting a stable job and finishing my studies. Those are the towers of wishful thinking that I’ve built in the name and strength of love. I gave up a lot, sacrificed even more; and took on more than I can handle. None of this would’ve been a problem if the people in whom I put so much fate hope and trust would do the same in me. But even if they rarely show it I see regret in their eyes and words. My partner’s parents can’t get to me; but when I see my partner making remarks showing regret I BREAK inside. Is really this what I’ve been fighting for? I can’t see anything positive to keep me above water; in moments like this I wish I can drown. I am a failure. I’ve let myself believe in fairytales now everyone is miserable because of me.

What should my next step be; how can I stop feeling so unfulfilled; depressed.

Angie my dear,

Of course, reading your short cry for help, I don’t know enough to point you to the right path. However, I note a very strong dose of self-bashing in it. You define yourself as a drop-out. You see your hopes as wishful thinking.
I don’t know if your partner and his family are judging you negatively, or whether this is something you read into their facial expressions, actions and words. Maybe they feel love and compassion, and would like to help, but don’t know how, and you are reading the regret into their behavior?
Even if not, even if they are really judging you negatively, that only hurts if you believe it.
When I was your age, I also felt very vulnerable to judgments. Now, if someone thinks badly of me, I divide their reaction into two parts:

1. Some of it may be helpful to me and I can learn from it. Whatever way the message was delivered, I can actually be thankful for this.

2. If the message was done in a hurtful way, that’s the other person’s problem, and I can throw it away.

Even if I have an automatic, momentary reaction of being hurt, I have learned to step back and calmly look at the situation like I’ve described.
The College where you’ve been studying and want to return to may have a counseling department. If so, find out if you qualify for help from them. If not, enrol for next semester’s course, and try again.

Here are a few ideas that have helped me, and many of my clients.

You are not your thoughts, emotions, moods and feelings, but what you DO. If people are judgmental, they are judging your words and actions, not you as a person. (They may not know this, but it’s true all the same.)

So, you don’t need to judge yourself either. You are not a drop-out; you have dropped out of college, for now. You said you want to return, so it isn’t even true that you have dropped out. You have taken a holiday. Same for all your many other self-judgements.

If you don’t like something you are doing, then design how you would like to do it instead, and DO it. At first, like all new habits, it will feel forced, unnatural, like acting, but “fake it till you make it.” After enough practice, it will become your new reality.

So, design the person you intend to be, in sufficient detail that an actress could step into the role — then BE that actress.

You can do it.

For Writers

What should happen next?
Stop Boredom: Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences by Joan Y. Edwards


What should happen next?

Sometimes the words pour out and the story is alive in your mind and your fingers stumble over each other to get it all out.

Sometimes, it’s “What happens next?” with no answer.

I am not talking about writer’s block, when the story has gone cold and you can’t get a word out, but the situation in which the characters are alive for you, you know where the story is going, but you need the NEXT episode to keep up the tension and interest. One source of tension has been resolved, and things are good for the people in your story. The trouble is, “living happily” ever after, or even for this moment, won’t provide gripping reading. The book is a page turner only if the characters face challenges.

If you write intuitively, producing an organically grown story, you will be facing this situation quite often. And if you meticulously plot your story, you’ll keep encountering it at the planning stage, before you’ve written a single paragraph.

What should happen next? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Good fiction writing involves the development of characters. Your people should grow in wisdom, experience, inner strength, their view of the world. Even the villains need to grow and change, if only in villainy. If you were to design a course in Life for your people, what should the next lesson be?

For example, in my novella Liberator (lead story of Bizarre Bipeds) I had an undercover policeman among the baddies. If he succeeded in uncovering them, then my little hero Trom would not be needed. So, the policeman had to be got out of the way, however much I liked him. I had to do this in a way that would seem natural, and advance two aspects of the plot: the growing, absolute power of the villains, and Trom’s realisation that he was the only person who could liberate his people. It took me over a week of failing to find the right device, until I realised: his father had to die as well as the policeman. So, I had to kill off TWO characters I liked. Once I had this new plot line, the story flowed again.

2. The new episode should not be a repetition of any device previously used. Novelty keeps up interest. So, do a brainstorm. This is a formal process with three parts. First, list all possibilities you can think of, without judgment or criticism. Silly ideas are allowed, because they can lead to brilliant ones. Second, examine each and put them in order of attractiveness. Third, research the top few.

This has an added benefit: you can use one of the ideas, and keep several of the others for later.

I’ve done this for a book that’s only in the planning stage. I have a so far unpublished but completed novel about an Australian Aboriginal girl who was born in 1850. As I was writing it, the sequel became obvious. I need a second book, in which Gerald, one of the major characters in the first volume, will be Protector of Aboriginals.

Part of the current work is a number of “flash-forwards” that will make sense for readers of the sequel. I needed to give Gerald a dream, which was to be prophecy of a future event. Yes, that’s all very well, but how can I have an event from a story I haven’t even started? A brainstorm gave it to me.

3. Creativity resists being wrestled. Relax. Focus on something else. I often set myself a problem when settling for sleep, then do some meditation. I usually have a solution upon waking in the morning.

This is what has happened with the book I am writing now. I got to a point in the plot where things are going fine. Several sources of tension have been resolved, and my young hero is doing admirably. However, there are three months to fill until his court hearing for murder. I could cheat with “and the weeks flew, and next thing it was the first of March,” but how exciting is that? I didn’t want to give him a relapse into his antisocial ways, because I’ve done that already, and as I said, it’s no good to repeat devices. I worried at this for two days, then did the “sleep on it” technique. I actually woke at 2 am, and felt the need to get out of bed and type out a few points. He would go to a birthday party, be approached by a drug pusher, and rather than relapse, manage to actually expose the guy, and overpower him with his newly learned skill in aikido.

Trouble is, that plot element has been resolved too. Now I need the next bit of excitement.


Stop Boredom: Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences
by Joan Y. Edwards

Vary the beginnings of your sentences to incite interest and keep boredom from putting your readers to sleep. First, I’ll explain the different parts of speech. Then I will give you two writing exercises. I hope you enjoy them. I’ll do them, too. […]

Continue at Joan’s blog.

What my friends want you to know

Sharing With Writers, from Carolyn
Second Koolura book by Michael Thal
3 books by Michael Kechula



Darrell Bain used to post monthly issues of Bainstorming, but his and his wife’s health have deteriorated, so the frequency has had to drop. Therefore, I am delighted to have got the following from him:

The latest Bainstorming Update is now available at my website,
Subjects this issue: My latest book, title: No Heaven, No Hell (The afterlife isn’t what you think it is. Fiction, but what if it’s true?), Apologies, Medical aggravations, Rogue Program reviews from Amazon, How it ought to be update, Betty, Another Dachshund.

Darrell Bain — Newest book: No Heaven, No Hell
Multiple Epic and Dream Realm awards
2005 Fictionwise Author of the year


Sharing With Writers, from Carolyn

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s newsletter Sharing With Writers has been going since 2003. It is a wonderful resource that has helped me personally.

The December 2013 issue can be accessed here.

Regular Features
~Note from Carolyn: Marketing Secret
~Thank Yous (where you also find leads and great resources!)
~Tips and News Galore! (They’re scattered; you’ll just have to find them!)
~Opportunities (You’ll find them in several places.)
~Accessible Contests
~On Poetry
~Author Successes
~Mindy Lawrence’s Itty Bitty Column: Losing an Original: Doris
~Carolyn’s Appearances and Teaching
~Wordstuff ™

This Issue Only
Fine Artwork for Your Book Cover Now Free
Suspicious About Royalties
Anyone Thinking of Writing from Abroad?
Amazon Now Accepting 3D Cover Images
Joan Stewart Likes Hashtags for Authors


Second Koolura book by Michael Thal


Solstice Publishing is proud to announce the second Koolura book by Michael Thal. The Legend of Koolura is the first in this middle grade series. Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback was recently released.

Koolura has the ability to teleport, levitate, heal, and even fly. At Camp Saddleback Koolura wakes up drained and powerless. Who has stolen her psychic powers?

As Koolura searches for the truth about her power loss, she and the Chumash Girls have to deal with pranksters ruining their cabin and destroying their summer. Campers plan revenge but problems escalate as lives are threatened. Will Koolura and the Chumash Girls solve the mystery at Camp Saddleback?

Koolura 1 Amazon:
Koolura 2 Amazon:


3 books by Michael Kechula

Michael is a brilliant exponent of flash fiction: micro-stories that amuse and sometimes amaze. The following three books are now available as eBooks from Books for a Buck and paperbacks from Amazon.


An understudy never gets over his crush on Judy Garland. A man spots a sign on the side of the road — and it changes his life. A musician discovers a beautiful doll who makes him a star… and more. A middle-aged man decides to help a desperate young woman… and wonders if the good guy ever can win. A girl wishes for an air force fighter plane for her birthday and discovers what true love can do. This collection focuses on romance and relationships, both gone right and horribly wrong. Each story has its own little zing, that frisson of awareness that reminds us of a larger truth. Some have happy endings, but be warned, not all romance works out as planned.


When Martians invade, will they do so with bombs and spaceships, or with jelly donuts and pepperoni pizza? What’s the King of the Whales up to when he asks a con-man to buy pizza for his subjects? If some dead aliens have escaped from Area 51, is there a black market in their body parts? What, exactly, do zombies want… and might they be happier with chocolate chip cookies than human brains? These super-short stories combine everyday situations with bizarre twists, delivering a combination of laughs and contemplative what ifs.


The author, a former self-study course developer for the IBM Corporation, takes writers through the definition of flash and genre fiction, gives some useful starting points for coming up with story ideas, shows where the usual rules of fiction may need to be reversed (e.g., in flash fiction, we tell, not show), and provides powerful insight into making every word count… and into eliminating those words that don’t pull their weight.

The book contains 10 lessons loaded with examples, 109 exercise questions in which students practice what they’ve learned, and a 50-question word reduction Exercise.


Ascending Spiral reviewed by Florence Weinberg
Anselm, a Metamorphosis, by Florence Weinberg


Ascending Spiral
reviewed by Florence Weinberg

Bob Rich’s remarkable novel is a valiant, vivid, at times brilliant attempt to solve the puzzle of the human animal. Consisting of gripping, interconnected narratives of the many lives of Pip Lipkin, the novel retells, in a most original way, the myth of Original Sin and the possibility of redemption. We humans have a broad streak of greed, malice, and willful destruction within us. “Humanity is a toddler” we are told, and our two dominant words are NO! and Mine! Nietzsche recognized this and called it the Will to Power, present in all life forms, all of us striving to grow by devouring the Other — only, in the case of human beings, the Other is planet Earth. The lesson of the novel/primer/metaphor/parable is that we alone, among the interconnected species that make up the living surface of this ball of energy that is Earth, are capable of recognizing the final and horrific result of No! and Mine! We alone can curb our primitive impulses and learn to love unselfishly. Unlike Nietzsche, Bob is an optimist. He shouts a warning: We must and can act to halt the destruction of our Earth. Pip/Bob is a very old soul who has learned to heal with love, to build rather than devour. But what to do about the exploitative and destructive youngsters, “toddler souls” like Bob’s Vikings, his English in Ireland and Australia, his Mr. McQuade, our own entrepreneurs? Teach love. Give, not Gimme. Bravo, Bob! May you draw many readers, and may they join the healing effort!

FlorenceA native of Alamogordo, New Mexico, Florence Byham Weinberg traveled extensively with her military family during World War II. Travels continued after marriage to scholar-critic Kurt Weinberg in Canada, France, Spain and Germany. After earning her PhD, she taught for twenty-two years at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, and ten at Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.


Anselm, a Metamorphosis, by Florence Weinberg

anselmThe art of speculative fiction is to make the impossible believable. Asimov said, you can make one impossible assumption, then keep everything else real. For him, the assumption was faster than light travel. For Florence Weinberg, it’s an evil person exchanging bodies with someone else.

The person doing the Faustian bargain is Anselm, a Benedictine monk of great erudition, but also great arrogance. Many fear him and dislike him. His heart is failing, so he uses a 12th Century lost secret to steal a body, changing places with Eric Behrens, young vain English professor.

I won’t reveal the rest of the plot of course, but instead give you my assessment.

When I read a book, I can’t stop myself from reading like an editor. Many of my reviews lead to 5 pages of “suggestions for improvement” to the author, ranging from identification of major plot glitches to misplaced commas. On a technical level, this book is one of the best I’ve read, with less than a page of such notes.

I am blown away by the characterization. It’s immensely impressive how a female author can BE a man who has been turned into another man, and accurately portray both sets of feelings, emotions, psychological styles of being. Eric-in-Anselm is very real, very human, and admirable precisely because of his faults. His development during the book is completely believable yet impressive. All the minor characters are also three-dimensional, human and unique.

Once I started this book, I just wanted to keep reading, and had to use self-discipline to carry on with my various obligations. Even with such rationing, I completed it in two days. So, if you pick it up, give yourself the opportunity to finish it.

Any good book does far more than entertain. Anselm also educates (I was not surprised that the author has a Ph.D.), and inspires to take a stand in the eternal conflict between Dark and Light. Ultimately, the book is about the ultimate Lesson: only love can defeat evil.

Do yourself a favor and read it.
Barnes and Noble

About Bobbing Around

If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don’t want a repeat, it’s simple. Drop me a line and I’ll drop you from my list.
You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at, or you can forward a copy to your friend. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article’s author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)
If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be ‘subscribe Bobbing Around’ (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.
Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:
Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.
Submission Guidelines
It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.
Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.
Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.
Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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7 Responses to Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 5

  1. Pingback: Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 8 | Bobbing Around

  2. Karl Kofoed says:

    Hi Bob! Good blog! Happy to have contributed something to it. Thought provoking and even inspirational. I give you tacit permission to pick up any of my comments on important issues.

    The issue of Global Warming isn’t a special interest. It is a human interest that should be discussed and acted upon by everyone. Unfortunately, here in the US, it is marginalized by our corporate/consumerist media. But we still have our Constitution which has carried us though many crisis and to a large degree kept us on track. I, too, am retired and focused on three concerns: Restoring photographs, political activism, and writing. I’m pleased to say that 5 of my novels are now available from Baen eBooks, and am on the cusp of having my illustrate Galactic Geographic (coffee table book from the future) published. In these endeavors I hope to contribute to a better future for the children of the world. A lofty quest perhaps, but with people like you dedicated to the same mission we CAN change the future.


  3. I always love getting your newsletters. It won’t be long before the 2nd edition of my The Frugal Editor will be available on Kindle in a second edition and you are in it! (-:


  4. Joan Y. Edwards says:

    Dear Dr. Bob,
    My goodness! Your newsletters are like books! So much good information packed into one place. Thank you for posting a link to my blog about varying your sentences. I am very proud of you.

    Celebrate you all day long!
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards


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