Bobbing Around Volume 16 Number 12

Let us defeat hate, discrimination — and environmental destruction — not with an eye for an eye, but with an I for you.
Dr Bob Rich


Transitioning from coal to gas is like making the switch from Coke to Pepsi to cure a soft drink addiction.
Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO

Bobbing Around

Volume Sixteen, Number Twelve,
June, 2017

Bob Rich’s rave

email

bobswriting.com    anxietyanddepression-help.com/    mudsmith.net/    previous issues

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
Not in the email version, please
Interviews * 4
Amazon UK storyteller contest
Happy birthday, Rob and Anina

*Responses to past issues
Lance Collins
Frances Larsen
Toni deMaio
Margaret Goodman

*Politics
Bob Brown on Adani
Dakota pipeline has leaked already
Trump and Russian criminals

*Environment
Climate change is a crime against humanity
Still climbing
Fukushima wildfire
Toys are killing the planet
The deeps can’t breathe
Extinction event underestimated
More evidence
Greening Antarctica
Quora answer on sustainable development

*Good news
At last, Westpac gets sensible
Solar cheaper than coal in India
Lego runs on wind and sun
Swiss reject nuclear, embrace renewables

*Inspiring people
Rooftop solar can be contagious
Leg cut off, but she is running again
Julia Roberts is Mother Nature
One man can make a huge difference

*Compassion
Drug testing welfare recipients?

*Technology
Eco-clothes
Energy from landfill

*Deeper issues
Real Australian history
How to have a lasting marriage
Someone agrees with me
Plants detect and react to sound
What are different ways of practicing sustainable development?

*Psychology
What happens if we forcibly relive the past?
Commonsense wrong, Jesus (and Mohammed and Buddha) right
Welcome mistakes
Brief intro to positive psychology
Did I cheat?
Why am I even breathing?
I think I’m pregnant and I dont know what to do
He doesn’t like my kids

*Health
Stretches for oldies
Slow motion health
Bubbles make you fat?

*For writers
Glimmer Train contest
Writing and suicide
Annual international contest is on
Bob Rich on writing

*What my friends want you to know
New Reviews site
Doctors without borders need YOU
Help victims of bullying by Exxon
Internship/Volunteer Positions at the Tibet Fund
Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump

*Reviews
Reviews of Guardian Angel
Getting Home by Jennifer Poulter
The Chaos of Mokii by Geoff Nelder

*Fun
The Lorax lives!
These crabs made me smile


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


The serial sexual abuser in the White House is the greatest threat to women’s rights that we’ve seen in decades.
NARAL


If we want to defend against the likes of Donald Trump — and every country has their own Trump — we must urgently confront and battle racism and misogyny in our culture, in our movements and in ourselves. This cannot be an afterthought, it cannot be an add-on. It is central to how someone like Trump can rise to power.
Naomi Klein


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.


From me to you

Not in the email version, please
Interviews * 4
Amazon UK storyteller contest
Happy birthday, Rob and Anina

Not in the email version, please

This note is to my friends who “follow” Bobbing Around, and therefore get email notification of my posts, including this monthly newsletter.

I take care in laying out Bobbing Around, to get a pleasing appearance. But the email version has the pictures all over the place, regardless of what I have tried. Also, at least on my computer, the internal links don’t work.

So, when you get a copy of Bobbing Around in your email, I suggest you click on the title at the start, and read it in your browser.


Interviews * 4

What with drumming up publicity for Guardian Angel, I have been invited as guest blogger or interviewee on four blogs since the May issue. The questions asked were very different, and my answers were even more so.

Please visit and leave a comment at each.

Guest blog for Joanne Tropello at Pandora’s Box Gazette went live on 17th of May. Two electronic copies of Ascending Spiral and two of Guardian Angel will be given away to commenters. You have until the 4th of June to qualify.

Interview with Linda Parkinson-Hardman who calls herself “Woman on the edge of reality” was on 18th of May. It also offer two copies of the same two books, deadline being 5th June.

On the 1st of June (today), my interview is with Amy Metz at A blue million books. Amy’s question structure is different from anything I’ve encountered before, and I hope my answers are entertaining. The book giveaway deadline is 7th June.

Finally, on a date still to be specified, I am writing about heroes for Beverley Bateman. I mention Ascending Spiral, Sleeper, Awake, Hit and Run, and Guardian Angel in my essay, and will give away a copy of each to someone who leaves a comment.

Please spread the word among your contacts.


Amazon UK storyteller contest

I am extremely grateful to the hundreds of friends who let me know they’d bought a copy of Guardian Angel. At the date of writing, 21 were able to post a review at Amazon UK. The top book has 88.

About a dozen people have told me of difficulties in posting a review. For example, some were told that since they’d never been Amazon UK customers, they were not allowed to post, but at the same time, were forced to buy the book on their own country’s Amazon site. One person is in Britain right now. He couldn’t buy it in Australia because of his location, or in Britain before of his nationality. I ask you, is that good business?

Nor can I work out when the posting of reviews is no longer relevant. The contest closed on the 19th of May, but maybe that was for submitting entries, not for reviews. Who knows? Maybe not even Amazon.

I have sent them a detailed critique, with suggestions for improvement. I received a polite reply, and so what.

If you have a copy of Guardian Angel, remember that buying it qualifies you for a second title, free. You can choose it here.

The book’s page has links to 5 sites where a review will help me along. When you have finished reading, I’ll be most grateful if you could write a review, and post it.

This is not because I am arrogant enough to want to be a Best Selling Author, but because I want to change the world, and if my books become bestsellers, I’ll have an influence for good. Please join my team.


Happy birthday, Rob and Anina

My baby boy Robert is 47 today, 30th May. He is a grandfather, and a person who relieves pain and teaches others how to do it, a good friend to many.

Anina is 40 this year, on the 5th of June. She is an Associate Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience, and a mentor for many young academics, and a mother of two delightful grandbabies. Only, she lives in Sydney. Can people please sign my petition to have Macquarie University move to Healesville, Victoria?


Here they are, a few years ago.


Responses to past issues

Lance Collins
Frances Larsen
Toni deMaio
Margaret Goodman

Lance Collins

Hi Bob,

Sorry to read about your wife’s accident.

I’ve got some clay watering pots I bought many years ago (different brand) which now sit in a box unused.

They work OK for a couple of seasons until they block up and then they are very hard to clean out as it’s the very finest particles which cause the problem.

But it does seem like a good idea.

Regards
Lance Collins


Frances Larsen

I find the book [Guardian Angel] interesting and informative. I know very little about Australia. However, social attitudes of that time period were not so different there as from here in the US. The ms I am working on is set in 1847. Not only were Native Americans considered to be “less than,” but immigrants from certain countries of Europe were reviled. I am sure you have heard about the Nativists of the US.

Until our last election, I had not realized how many people in the US are still prejudiced. During the campaign and since Donald Trump has taken office, I have become increasingly distressed about it, to the point where I can hardly think of anything else. In fact, one of the reasons I did not look at your book sooner is because I am constantly drawn away from what I should be doing because of the political nonsense going on here.

Almost every cabinet secretary is opposed to the programs he/she is supposed to manage. National parks, education, housing, environment, health care, immigration, and more. Some factions want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. Many of those commenting on forums say (and I agree) that the party in power is determined to undo any programs put in place by our first (and probably only) black president. Not that they are bad programs, but just because.

So the events in your book differ only in execution; the prejudice still exists.


Toni deMaio

Toni wrote this before reading Guardian Angel. It seems to me, she should write an essay for the next Bobbing Around on book promotion!

Will read and review, Bob, gladly!! Best of luck!!

My book was on the Amazon bestseller list at #2 in Fantasy and 43 in Magical Realism ( which appears to be what we write). This was during a five day free download promotion. I’m in kdp exclusive with Amazon. During that week, I moved ten thousand books. Five thousand on the promotion and five thousand from the library. This got me noticed and suggested by Amazon resulting in increased sales following the promotion which has kept me in the top 100 books.

My sales have slowed but I sell some nearly every day.

I used the free sites for ebooks to list my free book, and invested another 250 or so in a few paid sites. Freebooksy and JustKindleBooks were the best. And most reasonable. Each under fifty. It paid off. You might try it. I’ve gotten five unsolicited reviews. All 5 star so far.

Have a great day.
Love and Light,
Toni


Margaret Goodman

Bob,

Thank you for the latest edition of Bobbing Around, Congratulations to you and Jolanda on your 50 year wedding anniversary!

I was a happy and proud participant in the April 22, 2017 March for Science in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and even put together a white “brain hat” for the occasion.. Below is a picture of me in the hat near the Philadelphia City Hall right before the march started.


Politics

Bob Brown on Adani
Dakota pipeline has leaked already
Trump and Russian criminals

Bob Brown on Adani

To interpret for those who don’t know: Dr Bob Brown started up the Greens movement in Australia, led the Australian Greens until he chose to retire, and has done a great deal of good within and outside the Senate.

Adani is a family-run business based in India. It has a dreadful record of human rights abuses, environmental vandalism and broken promises.

The issue is that the Australian government and the relevant State government have both been bought. They are struggling to keep alive a proposal for a huge coal mine that has proven to be financially unviable, is opposed by a great majority of Australians, and has already caused damage to the Great Barrier reef through the establishment of ports, and waste spillage.

Even if you are not an Australian, you’ll be inspired by Bob Brown’s words on the subject.

This is Adani chairman shaking hands with the Prime Minister he has purchased.


Dakota pipeline has leaked already

Remember all the protest about the Dakota access pipeline? It’s not yet in full use, but already a local journalist spotted a leak, and sprung the news.

The leak is only minor, but puts a lie on the safety and reliability of this umbilical cord for a terminal industry.

The reason I’ve put this item under “Politics” is that it is. Obama stopped the project. Trump, who has financial ties to the company and therefore conflict of interest, has pushed the pipeline ahead.


Trump and Russian criminals

Alternet reports on a new Dutch documentary that sets out in detail Trump’s links to Russian criminal organisations that have heavily invested in his various ventures.

Even Hitler wasn’t a criminal before being elected.


Environment

Climate change is a crime against humanity
Still climbing
Fukushima wildfire
Toys are killing the planet
The deeps can’t breathe
Extinction event underestimated
More evidence
Greening Antarctica
Quora answer on sustainable development
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Climate change is a crime against humanity


I agree with every word in in this brief but powerful essay.

What the rulers of the world, including major corporations, are doing has killed millions and will kill billions.

Only, Lawrence Torcello doesn’t go far enough. We are not just committing genocide against people, but also against innocent whales and elephants and frogs and turtles and all the other many species that grace our planet.


Still climbing

Remember, not so long ago, when global carbon dioxide concentration passed 400 ppm? It was a time for grief and horror, because it was a symbol of self-destruction. Did you know, Bill McKibben called his organisation 350.org because that’s the maximum beyond which we cook ourselves?

Now, for the first time, we have passed 410 ppm.

In a sane world, every human would be part of a team to solve the problem. Instead, we are blindly blundering toward disaster. It is already here, already history, but each tragedy is treated as an isolated incident instead of a source of motivation to strive for survival.

Graph from Scripps Institution of Oceonography.


Fukushima wildfire

Where I live, the news have said nothing about it. But EcoWatch reports a forest fire in a highly radioactive area near Fukushima.

This is dangerous, because radioactive molecules rise high into the air, to spread, and get into living beings.

But why report it in the news? It’s only the Japanese, right? Well, the people, animals and plants of Japan matter, and no, it is part of a global assault on humans on the web of life. It’s a festering infection on Gaia.

Andrea Booher/FEMA


Toys are killing the planet

This article in the Huffington Post has drawn my attention to something I’d never considered.

Before WW2, toys were made from wood, metal, textiles. They lasted for a long time, being handed from child to child. Today’s toys are flimsy, sometimes lasting only days. They are all made from plastic, bonded to bits of metal like axles. This is practically impossible to recycle, so almost all toys end up as landfill, and eventually the same kind of waste as we complain about when it comes to food containers.

This is not even considering the nasty chemicals used to make the things.

Next time you buy a present for a loved child, consider wood, metal and textiles as the raw materials. Maybe you can MAKE the toy?


The deeps can’t breathe

This report summarises research since 1980 on the reduction of oxygen levels in deep water. It’s greater than the models have predicted.

Warm water holds less gas. As surface waters warm, the vertical circulation patterns of the oceans reduce, so less of the dissolved gases get carried down. Combine these two facts, and you can see how climate change has led to increasing oxygen deprivation of deeper waters.

Most predictions look at the year 2100, but the effects are observable now.

So what?

Apart from killing the people of the deeps, who have a wonderful ecosystem of their own, what happens down there is part of the web of life, and influences everything else.

Photo from Ocean Networks Canada


Extinction event underestimated

A recent article in Science has shown that the criteria used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the authority that assesses the danger of extinction of plants and animals, is way too lax.

The size of an animal’s range is a key criterion. The study showed that with regard to 18 birds, the IUCN range was misleadingly large, and in actual fact these birds should have received a higher (more endangered) classification.

Current official estimate is that extinctions occur 100 times more frequently then they should. If this study can be generalised, this is way too optimistic. We are galloping toward destroying the global ecosystem even faster than this.

Even if you “don’t believe in climate change,” THIS should concern you. Those plants and animals disappear, and we go with them.


More evidence

…not that it’s needed, but it is getting more and more bizarre to deny climate change.

Here is one of several reports that the Global Seed Vault in Norway was breached by floodwaters when the permafrost around it melted due to completely unprecedented heat.

When it was opened in 2008, it was expected to be safe from every kind of disaster — humanity’s insurance against disaster. Now, while the seeds have been saved, it has shown itself to be as unsafe as anywhere else on the planet (including where YOU live).


Greening Antarctica

The Antarctic Peninsula is the furthest part of that great continent from the Pole. 50 years ago, it was all snow and ice. Now, it is rapidly growing green moss, and bare rock.


Quora answer on sustainable development

In my opinion, based on research and action since 1972, there is no such thing as sustainable development. What humanity now needs is degrowth, not development of any kind.

The too-wealthy countries like USA, Europe, Australia etc. should be implementing planned, careful reduction of economic activity. Countries like China and India need to change their aim from “catching up with the west” to reducing poverty with minimum impact. And the poor countries deserve justice and help from the too rich ones, but not to achieve economic growth. They should aim to cut themselves free from the global economy, and to build self-sufficient local economies.

On every level: personal, community, country, global, we need to live simply, so we can simply live.


Good news

At last, Westpac gets sensible
Solar cheaper than coal in India
Lego runs on wind and sun
Swiss reject nuclear, embrace renewables

At last, Westpac gets sensible

BREAKING: Young people across Australia have just dealt a massive blow to the Adani coal mine — Westpac have just ruled out investing in new coal basins! Power the campaign to stop the government handing $1 billion to Adani by becoming a monthly donor to AYCC today.

Bob —
This morning, something incredible has just happened.

Together, we just dealt a massive blow to the Adani coal mine. Westpac has ruled out investing in new thermal coal basins, which means no funding for Adani’s coal mine. Together with our collective power, grassroots strength and refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer, we finally won!!

This means that, because of you, every big Australian bank has now distanced themselves from investing in the biggest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere. We are so much more powerful than we are led to believe.

Right now though, the Adani coal mine has one remaining lifeline — Prime Minister Turnbull wants to set aside $1 billion of your money to fund this coal mine. Over the next fortnight, our Government needs to hear from thousands of people about why they should rule out funding this coal mine.

With the Federal Budget in two weeks, and a decision expected soon, now is our opportunity to send the Australian Government a message they can’t ignore: young people don’t want them to use our money to fund this coal mine. There will be actions at MP offices, a big creative stunt in Canberra and we’ll flood social media with our message. If you believe the power of young people, become a Champion of Change with the AYCC and power the campaign to stop this outrageous taxpayer funded handout to a coal mining billionaire.

Westpac were the first big bank we ever targeted — back in 2014 we met our first bank manager in Canberra.


Solar cheaper than coal in India

Well, the headline says it all. Here is the report in The Guardian.


Lego runs on wind and sun

Treehugger reports on a wonderful change of heart by Lego. A few years ago, there was global outrage when the kids’ blocks company was about to advertise Shell. Now, they have divested from all fossil fuel investments, and instead own wind farms and run their factories with solar power. Unlike most other manufacturers, they have never gone for planned obsolescence: old sets and new sets fit together. They are even researching a replacement for plastic as their raw material.


Swiss reject nuclear, embrace renewables

A Reuters report states that a new law prohibits the construction of new nuclear power stations, and requires phasing out the country’s 5 old ones. Solar, wind, biomass and geothermal are to take their place.

Mind you, solar doesn’t work when the collectors are covered in snow. We’ll see.


People who inspire

Rooftop solar can be contagious
Leg cut off, but she is running again
Julia Roberts is Mother Nature
One man can make a huge difference

Rooftop solar can be contagious

A major problem with putting solar panels on your roof is the upfront cost. You recover it in a few years, but not everyone has cash sitting around, waiting to be invested.

Treehugger describes an organisation that helps with this problem.

When looking for a suitable public domain picture, I noticed the huge number of panels people feel they need. This is going about things in the wrong way.

You do NOT need to run every electric gadget in the world. The first step is, use less, then you need less. My house at Moora Moora had a 1 Kwh system, independently of the grid. One winter, we even ran a freezer, without needing backup even once.


Leg cut off, but she is running again

Reading about what this lady has done will certainly stop any whingeing about my hips and knees and things.

She nearly died, and one leg had to be amputated above the knee. During recovery, a minute on an exercise bike exhausted her.

She has participated in a 10 Km run. Amazing.


Julia Roberts is Mother Nature

You’ve got to watch this.


One man can make a huge difference

Two years ago, a young lawyer moved to a new place in Mumbai, India. He was shocked at the state of the beach, which was buried in more than 5 feet depth of rubbish, mostly plastic. So, he did something about it, and organised eventually thousands of volunteers. The beach is now beautiful and clean. He is extending his interest further afield, and is inspiring people elsewhere to follow his example.

As the husband of my area’s main Garbage Granny, I applaud.


Compassion

Drug testing welfare recipients?


This is a proposal by the dinosaurs in power in Australia. Here is what Australian Greens leader Dr Richard Di Natale thinks about it. I fully agree.

Richard comes across as decent, humane — and with ideas that are supported by research, and work in other countries.

I am proud to be a member of the Australian Greens.


Technology

Eco-clothes
Energy from landfill

Eco-clothes

Almost all the materials for clothes have ecological problems: pesticides and water hungry; or cruelty to animals; or based on fossil carbon.

Here is an entertaining guide to alternatives, made from things like mushrooms and agricultural waste.


Energy from landfill

Sweden uses garbage to generate a lot of heat, so much that it imports the thrown-away waste of other countries.

My country, Australia, is terribly wasteful. Garbage dumps are rapidly filling, and the trucks need to drive further and further from house to destination. So, at long last, we may be catching up with Sweden. This report states that there is a government grant to help the idea along.

The benefits are many and varied: plastic and other waste prevented from escaping into the environment; reduction of land devoted to this fairly odorous and ugly use; fuel saved in rubbish commuting; reduction of methane emission from decomposing rubbish; and of course the replacement of fossil carbon as a heat source.

I do worry about the burning of a mixture of materials like high-density plastics (have you ever smelt that?), but if the Swedes can do it safely, maybe it’s OK.


Deeper Issues

Real Australian history
How to have a lasting marriage
Someone agrees with me
Plants detect and react to sound
What are different ways of practicing sustainable development?

Real Australian history

Please read this chatty, well-written account of a brave man who is drawing attention to a period of Australian history most people have forgotten.

A few readers have let me know they’d found some of the events in my Guardian Angel to be horrifying. They are — but as with this story about an ancient “dance troupe,” they were the grindstone to spiritual growth and maturity.


How to have a lasting marriage


Someone agrees with me

Please read this eloquent essay about the need for empathy and compassion in order to do our best to save the world.


Plants detect and react to sound

I’ve previously reported on Associate Professor Monica Gagliano’s work that plants are able to learn. She has now performed experiments showing that they respond to sound.

Here is an account of her work in Scientific American.

There are some interesting ethical issues if plants are people too…


What are different ways of practicing sustainable development?

In my opinion, based on research and action since 1972, there is no such thing as sustainable development. What humanity now needs is degrowth, not development of any kind.

The too-wealthy countries like USA, Europe, Australia etc. should be implementing planned, careful reduction of economic activity. Countries like China and India need to change their aim from “catching up with the west” to reducing poverty with minimum impact. And the poor countries deserve justice and help from the too rich ones, but not to achieve economic growth. They should aim to cut themselves free from the global economy, and to build self-sufficient local economies.

On every level: personal, community, country, global, we need to live simply, so we can simply live.


Psychology

What happens if we forcibly relive the past?
Commonsense wrong, Jesus (and Mohammed and Buddha) right
Welcome mistakes
Brief intro to positive psychology
Did I cheat?
Why am I even breathing?
I think I’m pregnant and I dont know what to do
He doesn’t like my kids

What happens if we forcibly relive the past?

This question could be taken in two ways.

If you have suffered trauma, you may have nightmares, or daytime “flashbacks” to it. This is an essential symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If this is what you mean, you can resolve the issue through therapy. I personally did this for myself as a young man, though I didn’t even know I had PTSD. Later, as a therapist, I helped many hundreds of clients to do it for themselves. You can get over it, too.

There are perhaps a dozen effective forms of therapy, but all of them work on the same principle. You need to create a safe situation, then deliberately invite the terrible re-living. From a position of safety, you experience the distress, and observe as it fades. This is “exposure therapy.” It has a very high rate of success — for people with the courage to go through with it. It fails for many, because they can’t stand it, and withdraw before reaching an “endpoint.”

You might want to read my novel, Ascending Spiral, in which it is described in several different contexts.

A second possible interpretation of your question is that it may refer to past life recalls. Actually, it’s much the same thing. People who died in terrible circumstances such as being murdered often have involuntary recalls to it, triggered by certain environmental events (e.g., a particular brand of car (the one that ran them down), the sound of a storm, whatever is relevant, or in nightmares.

The solution is past life regression hypnosis, which works in much the same way as exposure therapy.

Hope this helps.


Commonsense wrong, Jesus (and Mohammed and Buddha) right

Most people “know” that the more wealth you have, the happier you are, without limit. Billionaires are the shining role models, and there are jokes like “It’s better to be rich and miserable than poor and miserable.”

I learned the falsehood of this at an early age, and my insight has led to a lot more contentment than enjoyed by people I know with millions. The problem is not wealth itself, but the attitudes that go with it.

Recent research is on my side. People who define their self-worth in terms of possessions, achievements and successes are far more discontent with their lives than people who put little weight on such issues.

You might want to read my essay, How to change the world. It is a signpost to living a contented life.


Welcome mistakes

When I was still doing psychotherapy, I used to hand my clients cards about various frequently recurring topics. Mistakes/failures was one. Here is my mistakes card:

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.

My personal recovery from depression and PTSD started when, among other things, I adopted this personal motto:

If someone else can do it, I can learn it.

Here is a plain language, readable summary of some of the relevant research.


From The Red Fairy Project.


Brief intro to positive psychology

This is well worth reading, particularly if you confuse positive psychology with “thinking positive thoughts.”

What matters is DOING, not thinking.

Even many therapists don’t realise, positive psychology is not the seeking of happiness either. In fact, that desperate scrabble can be the path to unhappiness.


The source of this picture also has a good writeup.


Did I cheat?

Something very weird happened to me when I was a kid and I developed a huge fear of kissing. Actually, of being intimate with someone I actually had romantic feelings for. A few months ago a met a great guy, he makes me laugh and really likes me for me. But he doesn’t have a lot of attitude and my almost phobia of intimacy just made me pull away every time he tried something. This turned into a huge bother for me, since we couldn’t get intimate because I just could not overcome my insecurities. So I asked a huge friend of mine to teach me and give me feedback. When she touched me for the first time I started hyperventilating, but I eventually let her. It was almost like a class, she just told me what to do and what was wrong, and none of us actually enjoyed it. But I feel really guilty! Did I cheat on him? I felt no pleasure and I just did it because I wanted to be perfect and ready for us to take it to the next level. My friend and I never talked about it again. We’re both heterosexual but she just helped me out. What should I do? Was this so wrong?

Dear Cathy,
The simple answer is no, you have not cheated on your boyfriend. You and your girlfriend have intuitively engaged in the correct therapy for your problem. You have developed a phobia. The best way to get rid of that is “in vivo exposure:” forcing yourself into the feared situation until the fear fades. If you can make yourself face the fear long enough, it always does fade away.
You would benefit from reading my little self-help book, Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias.

My real question is: where did the phobia of intimacy come from? My strong guess is childhood sexual abuse. To really solve the problem, you need to deal with that. Please find a competent local psychologist who deals with childhood sexual trauma, and get therapy.

Then you can build a good, full life for yourself.
Bob


Why am I even breathing?

Dear Bob,

I’m a 19 year old girl from Germany. Currently I’m studying to be a teacher. I come from a very low middle-class family. Oh and… I’m overweight.

The reason why I’m writing to you is because I need help. I’m too scared to go to a psychologist or doctor in my city because I feel like a crazy human if I would do so.

So… I’m depressed. It isn’t the first one. I had my first (little) depression at the age of 15. It was the time when school started to get very difficult. My parents always wanted me to be a doctor or something like that because we couldn’t afford a lot. Of course I’m happy that my parents care about me, but they wanted me to be very successful and they didn’t care about how I felt at the inside. I had to study so much that I stopped going to sport classes and I also stopped to go out with my friends. I was feeling lonely and sad so I turned to food. I got bigger and bigger every month. I felt empty, sad, frustrated. School was very difficult for me because my parents forced me to take classes like biology, maths, physics etc… (which I hated !). So yes, I got very overweight after a few months. I was very ashamed of my body, I felt worthless. 2 years after was my graduation year. I got a bad average grade on my diploma, so it was all for nothing.

After that I went studying medicine. It was terrible, I hated it. Again, I turned to food because they wasn’t anything else in my life that would make me happy. I only had 2 friends who didn’t even care about me. This was the time when I had my second depression.

Now I’m 19. Two years have passed since I went to school. And my life has never been worse. I’m now studying to be a teacher. I hate my studies. I never wanted to be a teacher. But I’m forcing myself because my parents are poor. I’m very very overweight now, because I ate a lot in the last 3 years. I have a binge-eating disorder. I have moments where I have to stuff myself with food until I feel like vomiting because I have nothing in my life that I like. I have only 2 friends that I have to stay with even if I don’t really like them just because I have no other real friends. My sibling don’t care about me because they’re too preoccupied with their own lives. My mom treats me like I’m just a piece of nothing. She always tells me that I’m not good enough, that I should be like other girls, that I should smile and laugh in front of others. It’s because of here that I got this big. She was the one that made me feel worthless in school. She was never appreciating what I did and always complained about me. That’s why I turned to food. I think that I even have a food addiction.

Today I can say that I have the worst depression of all. I have no motivation to continue in life. I wake up every morning with a headache and nausea. I feel so bad. I’m crying at least 2-3 times per day. I cry myself to sleep every night. My head hurts a lot. Nothing makes sense. I’m just a mess. It would be better if I would be just gone forever.

When I was a kid I was such a big dreamer. I dreamed of the impossible thing in life. I dreamed about being a fashion designer, about being a Youtuber who makes makeup videos on the internet. I dreamed about travelling the world. I dreamed about all of these things. But I yet didn’t achieve anything in life.

Do you know what I should do ? How can I get out of this life ?

Please help me.

Thank you a lot.

Sigrid my dear,
You can beat this.

First, let’s deal with not wanting to go to a psychologist. Please read this little essay about when you need a psychologist.

Its first few words are:

    You do NOT need to be crazy to benefit from seeing a psychologist.

    Everybody has problems. Sometimes, these problems are terribly serious, and yet the person copes: finds solutions that make things better, or learns to live with the situation.

    However, sometimes the problem stays unbearable, or even gets worse and worse. That’s when a highly trained helper is invaluable.

    If you have a painful tooth, you seek a dentist. If you have painful moods and emotions, seek a psychologist.

You are clearly highly intelligent, believe it or not. You have analysed your situation, and explained your current problems as well as I could have, and written about them in a foreign language. So, your poor results in school were not because of lack of ability, but because you hated being pushed, and because so much of your mental energy was taken up by your depression.

When you apply your intelligence to your food addiction, you will beat it. Read my stop smoking page for my research-based guide for beating an addiction. The page is about cigarettes, but you can adapt it to food.

In a similar way, you will find a book designed to help alcoholics very useful. It describes a method that will be perfect for you. It is Alcohemy by David Norman. Here is the link for buying the Kindle version in Germany.

The last issue I want to talk with you about is your relationship with your mother. I can see how her actions have been harmful, but I suspect you have got her motives wrong. I think she saw your intelligence from an early age, and pushed you because she was sure you could do better than anyone else in your family. She has wanted you to become a professional because she has wanted a better life for you, not necessarily because she wanted you to do anything for her.

All the same, the damage has been done. I ask you to do your best to forgive her. That will liberate you from a great load, and make it easier for you to cure yourself of your addiction, and of your depression.

You are now 19 years old: officially an adult. It is time for you to take charge of your life. Your passion is fashion design, not teaching. I don’t know if you have the skills and abilities for that kind of artistic work, but you probably have a good idea. Try it out in your spare time. Read up on it, and if it seems practical, change your training to that field.

I hope we can stay in contact, so you can join my worldwide tribe of grandchildren.

Your new grandfather,
Bob


I think I’m pregnant and I dont know what to do

I have recently realised that I may be pregnant, I have been with my boyfriend for 6 1/2 months but have known each other for much longer and know that he will support with any decision that I make.

Currently I am at college studying an animal course, what I want to know is, will the baby affect my whole life and make me unable to have my own life like with friends. I am normally quite a social person, always seeing my friends and going out.

Ever since I was little I was determined to be a midwife just because I was obsessed with babies and children. My boyfriend’s brother has recently had a baby and he is the cutest thing ever and I enjoy looking after him and playing with him, also feeding him and changing nappies. I understand that when it is your own child it is always a lot harder than you expect it to be.

I’m not really sure what my parents think of this, but I think my mum is kind of against abortion and would want me to keep the baby. We have had a difficult relationship recently as the stress of work and college is just getting to us a little bit.

All I am really worried about is that I will not be able to have my own childhood because I am raising a child of my own, and also not really in the financial state to take care of a baby because I have only just secured a job and my boyfriend only works two days a week, so the situation is quite difficult.

I am just confused need help! Please!

Susie

Susie my dear,
You are right: if you become a mother, other things will have to go, even if your mother helps to care for the child. It is possible for you to continue your studies, but it will be far more difficult. Almost certainly, you won’t be able to do three demanding things: being a mother, and studying, and earning money, all at the same time.

If you do have a baby, one option may be to defer your studies until the child is school-age, then return to your course (or another if your interest changes).

I assume your pregnancy is still very early, or perhaps this is a false alarm? You can do a urine test, which you can buy at a pharmacy. It’s better to know.

I’ve thought long and hard about the ethics of abortion. Despite the opinions of some people, it is not murder until the foetus’s brain is complex enough to enable information processing. So, if the test is positive, you do have a choice, and only you can make this choice — not your mother, your boyfriend, doctor, anyone else. We are talking about your life, your future, your body, so you should have the right to take the action that suits you.

At this early stage, it is ethical to decide to keep the baby, and ethical to terminate it. If there is a foetus, it is still something like an internal pimple, not yet a person. So, you need to take advice from people you respect, then make up your mind either way.

You are correct: the choice you make will change your life. Either you will be a mother — a permanent change for the rest of your life — or you can continue your current course, except you’ll be more careful about birth-control.

I know the whole issue is very emotional for you, but if you step back and approach it as a problem like choosing a course of study, or deciding where to live, then you’ll make a wiser decision.

Have a good life, my dear (you can, whichever course of action you choose).
Bob


He doesn’t like my kids

I have been with my partner for nearly two years now and all is not well with my children. My 3 and a half year old doesn’t want anything to do with him, doesn’t really talk to him and my boyfriend frequently finds fault with their behaviour, they don’t eat the way they should, they three year old is too disruptive, the 7 year old does things which annoy him. He has two children of his own which are with us half the time and he spends lots of time with them, but not with my children. He even told me that yesterday he had a great time when we weren’t home and then when we were home he didn’t enjoy it. That was really hurtful and he said he was just saying how he felt. I used to really like this guy, but often feel tense if my three year old is tired and whiny or my 7 year old makes a mess, forgets something etc. etc. Please help, I am working on my 7 year old on the things that he does, but am not sure if I should just call it quits and leave with my boys. He often complains about them and doesn’t see a lot of good. He does tell good stories to them though and sometimes to my 7 year old, however, these are not so often lately. He also goes into our room and is alone when my son and i are up by ourselves. I am wondering whether this is normal behaviour from a step father? Last night he was on the verge of shouting at my three year old and started to, but I stepped in and asked him not to. I no longer leave my three year old in his care. My 7 year old enjoys spending time with his sons, but I feel quite tense a lot of the time. Am I expecting too much from my new partner that he gets along with my children? He rarely says anything supportive or encouraging to them and I am unsure.

How can I help this relationship between my new partner and my children?

Should I just call it quits with the new partner because we’ve been living together for 10 months now with not much improvement in the relationship between the kids and him. I don’t want the kids to feel like they have to tip toe around him at home.

Dear Jane,
“Love me, love my children.”
Anything else is a recipe for disaster.

I grew up with a stepfather who disliked me, and the result was major depression from 5 years of age until I did self-therapy to get it under control at 23. We don’t want to expose your two children to the same.

There are two kinds of love: giving love and taking love.

Giving love is, “I’ll do anything, sacrifice anything to make you happy.”

Taking love is, “I want you to sacrifice everything to make me happy.”

Ask yourself, which better describes this man’s love for you. If it’s the second, kick him out.

🙂
Bob


Health

Stretches for oldies
Slow motion health
Bubbles make you fat?

Stretches for oldies

This is an excellent list of exercises that help you to look after your body’s flexibility. It’s specially worded for older people, but I reckon will benefit younger ones too, since so many people live sedentary lifestyles.


Slow motion health

Tai Chi is a martial art that gets you fit, strong and graceful, and is also a form of meditation.

It is therefore not surprising that it is a major way you can improve your health.

Photo from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, which has a video on how to go about it.


Bubbles make you fat?

I was wondering if I should put this item under “Fun.” Apparently, several animal studies indicate that carbonated beverages increase appetite in male mammals including humans.


Writing

Glimmer Train contest
Writing and suicide
Annual international contest is on
Bob Rich on writing

Glimmer Train contest

Check out this contest, deadline 30th June.

For an $18 entry fee, you have a chance at a $2500 prize, and several chances of publication in a respected magazine.


Writing and suicide


According to research summarised by my friend in Britain, Geoff Nelder, older writers commit suicide at twice the rate compared to others of their age.

Worried? Read what he has to say.

I don’t need to commit suicide, because I am dying from the worst long-term disease there is. It is guaranteed to kill everyone. (Conception).

Geoff Nelder lives in England with his physicist wife, within easy cycle ride of Welsh mountains.

Geoff is a former teacher, now an editor, writer and fiction competition judge. His novels include Scifi: Exit, Pursued by Bee, ARIA trilogy; thrillers: Escaping Reality, Hot Air; historical fantasy: Xaghra’s Revenge (July 2017)


Annual international contest is on

I have been a member of EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition since 1999. Each year, we run a contest for books that have been published in electronic format, and one for covers.

Send in your entries, and also you might qualify as a judge, which means free reading.

Check out the web site for FAQs and entry forms for the eBook awards and the Ariana eBook Cover Art Competition.

Open to entries 1st June, 2017.


Bob Rich on writing

Every month, Rhobin Courtwright organises a bunch of writers to address some topic about writing. You can check out my contributions since I’ve joined in, including the May, 2017 topic, A bang then a whimper?

In addition, as I’ve said at the start of this newsletter, I’m being interviewed all over the planet at present, and each of my hostesses has asked writing-related questions.

Even if you are not a writer, I hope you’ll find my responses amusing. Go on, have a look.


What my friends want you to know

New Reviews site
Doctors without borders need YOU
Help victims of bullying by Exxon
Internship/Volunteer Positions at the Tibet Fund
Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump

New Reviews site

Each month, Carolyn Howard-Johnson sends me notice of her newsletter, Sharing With Writers, and each month, I include it here.

This time, I won’t do that. Instead, I’d like to draw attention to another of her services: The New Book Review. This is because she has included Gary Clough’s review of Guardian Angel.

If you have reviewed a book you approve of, or if someone has given your work a particularly good review, or if you are a reader and want to find good books you’ve never heard of, check out The New Book Review.


Doctors without borders need YOU

Dear Bob,

In northern Syria, our medical teams are treating patients injured by landmines, booby traps and unexploded ordnance.

As the frontlines shift, some communities have started to return to their villages, now vacated by warring parties.

Many find their homes, roads and fields littered with mines and explosives — they are under carpets, in fridges, even in children’s teddy bears. Hundreds of people have been killed or severely injured.

Please consider making a donation of $50 today. Your support will help us provide healthcare for people affected by war, natural disasters and epidemics in over 60 countries.


Help victims of bullying by Exxon

Exxon Mobil is trying to sue a small city in Maine into giving up. They’re fighting to keep tar sands oil off their shores, and if Exxon Mobil win, we ALL lose.

Will you chip in to help their fight?


Internship/Volunteer Positions at the Tibet Fund


The Tibet Fund is looking for internship candidates for this summer. Interns must work a minimum four days a week from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM for four weeks or more. The ideal candidate has administrative, communications, and social media experience with an interest in learning more about working in the non-profit sector. Interested applicants are requested to send their resume along with availability dates.

How to apply: Email your resume to info@tibetfund.org


Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump


Bob,

High atop Donald Trump’s to-do list as president is unshackling Big Business from the regulatory controls that keep us safer and our pocketbooks better protected from corporate predators.

Trump’s deregulatory Executive Order — requiring the elimination of two regulations for every new one adopted — is the single most important means by which he aims to deliver this gift to Corporate America.

And that’s exactly what we aim to block with our lawsuit.

So here’s where we are: The agencies that protect health, safety, workers and the environment face an impossible choice. Either don’t adopt new rules — no matter what new technologies or risks emerge — or get rid of important existing protections.

This is not just insane policy; it’s against the law and violates the Constitution.

Please chip in today to help us fight back against Trump’s wild lawlessness and preserve lifesaving regulatory protections.


Reviews

Reviews of Guardian Angel
Getting Home by Jennifer Poulter
The Chaos of Mokii by Geoff Nelder

Reviews of Guardian Angel

Please go to this book’s page at Amazon UK and read the reviews there. Better still, please add your review there, and at the other sites listed on its book page on my writing site.


Getting Home by Jennifer Poulter


I dislike children’s books that talk down to kids, and are basically nonsense about nothing. Jennifer Poulter’s lovely little book about polar bears is refreshingly different. The beautiful illustrations by Muza Ulasowski will appeal to any child up to 101 years old. The words of the actual story are appropriate to a preschooler, and at the same time Jennifer provides accurate information to parents they can then use to answer questions.

This is a subtly environmental book. Without preaching, it shows the effect of climate change on polar bears, which is why it is a recipient of the LiFE Award: Literature For Environment.

If you have a miniperson in your heart, make a present of this little book on a suitable occasion.


The Chaos of Mokii by Geoff Nelder


Set in the year 2362, this story is DIFFERENT, even compared to other science fiction. Having read several of Geoff Nelder’s works, I expected this. He has an unbridled imagination that goes into places no one else would think of. Mokii is a city that is created by the imagination of its inhabitants, so that certainly qualifies.

It’s only a short story — a little over 3000 words — so you can afford the little time and small cost of reading it. Even in that short presentation, there are two realities. I won’t give away the story, except to say you need to read the last couple of paragraphs before everything falls into place.

I first read my version on Amazon’s cloud reader, and these two paragraphs were missing. The story didn’t seem to be a story. So, rather than write a negative review, I contacted Geoff, and he sent me the whole thing. So, now I know its genre: it is detective science fiction, only the crime is not what you think, and the criminal is not who you think.


Fun

The Lorax lives!
These crabs made me smile

The Lorax lives!

When my kids were young, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax was our favourite book. With a bit of effort, I reckon we could all still recite it.

He now stands around in Minnesota, thanks to environmental lawyers Beth Goodpaster and Rick Duncan, and chainsaw sculptor Curtis Ingvoldstad:


These crabs made me smile

They wear fanciful clothing.


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 http://mudsmith.net/bobbing.html, 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. Alternatively, you can click to follow my blog, which gets you my other posts as well.

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.

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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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