Bobbing Around Volume 18 Number 6

You don’t need to wash clothes unless they get dirty or smelly — meaning you can actually see the dirt or smell the odor.
Ilana Strauss


Every day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk. Tragically, many of them die… governments should adopt such measures as reducing the over-dependence on fossil fuels in the global energy mix
World Health Organization.

Bobbing Around

Volume Eighteen, Number Six,
December, 2018

Bob Rich’s rave

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

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you

*Blog posts during November

*New stuff


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.


As Christians align ourselves with political parties, the key question becomes, “Who and what would Jesus align himself with?” … God’s closeness has nothing to do with power and everything to do with alleviating suffering and siding with the concerns of the downtrodden.
Brandi Miller


Coal is a product that kills people when used according to the seller’s instructions.
Adam Bandt, Australian Greens MP

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.


From me to you

Free book edit contest: thank you gift
Aussie Anecdotes
New format, type 2

 

Free book edit contest: thank you gift

Hundreds of people have voted in my free book edit contest, and more are coming along every day. The last day for voting will be the 23rd of December.

To thank those who have taken the trouble, and encourage a last blast, I am making a gift to each voter. I’ve decided to allow them to choose an electronic copy of one of my three short story anthologies:

Striking Back From Down Under,

Through Other Eyes, and

Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s place in the universe?.

I’ll be grateful if you could spread the word. If you haven’t voted yourself, please do so. The ten finalists are all intriguing, and very different from each other.


Aussie Anecdotes

My mate, Australian historical writer Trevor Tucker, is in the last stages of having a collection of fiction and nonfiction stories published. There are 55 stories from 16 contributors. Three of them are mine.

This is what the book is about:

    Have you ever thought to yourself that Australia’s history is slipping away?

    After listening to a good yarn or having read some historically noteworthy passage or having followed a particular debate—you may think that you’d always remember it—but you didn’t!

    And don’t you wish you’d recorded those stories, so that in your hassle-free times you could reminisce and again experience their inherent interest, emotion or challenge?

    Here then is a faithfully reproduced anthology of quintessential Australian short stories, not just for those in their second childhood, but for young readers to gain a feel of an older Australia, and to also enjoy.

    The study of history in secondary education can be fascinating and inspiring—or boring beyond belief. Stories such as these will entertain students, challenge their thinking, and bring each subject to life.

    This collection of works from seventeen contributors intentionally incorporates diverse (even controversial) topics. Some of these stories are undeniably true. Others are worthy of more research—still others are fiction, which can express human truths better than nonfiction.

    No matter how improbable, fanciful or quirky the reader may consider some of these stories, imagination is, after all, fun, boundless and deserves to be shared.

Aussie Anecdotes is due to appear in both print and e-book versions in mid-February, 2019.

Trevor has let me know that people can pre-order paper copies. He is guessing a price of $30 Australian. Email me if you are interested, and I’ll forward it to Trev. He doesn’t need any money at this stage, merely name, delivery address and email address.

Alternatively, you can contact him directly at by email, or by phone/text on 0414 935 218.


New format, type 2

I am still tweaking the way Bobbing Around is organised.

If you “follow” this blog, you will have received my posts during the month. Now, you can go directly to “New Stuff,” and read only what’s, well, new stuff.

If you are a subscriber, I am asking you to check out the blog posts during November, and see what you can see. But perhaps you might be happy to change from subscriber to follower? I’ll send you a nice smile in response.



Blog posts during November

Politics
Who would Jesus vote for?
We can defeat hate
Defenders against inhumanity

Environment
How to reduce extinctions
Action needed, not talk
The human face of climate change

Good news
New hope for Ethiopia
Good news for tigers and rhinos — for now

Inspiration
Gandhi’s spiritual daughter?
A well-deserved award to inspiring kids

Compassion
He didn’t want charity, but received love anyway
7 Things Homeless Shelters Need Most in Winter

Technology
Shopping bags
Good tips on reducing energy use
Roof cleans air

Philosophy
Elephant can count

Look over a writer’s shoulder
How has writing rewarded you? What has it cost you?

What my friends want you to know
Avaaz needs your help

Stories
Pip’s call to action


Politics

Who would Jesus vote for?
We can defeat hate
Defenders against inhumanity

 

Who would Jesus vote for?

I’ve been doing my best to ignore the political barrage, but this inspiring post by Brandi Miller made me want to translocate to America and hug the lady.


We can defeat hate


Most news items indicate that hate is winning. People target those with slight differences like skin colour, religion, ethnicity. In my country, Australia, the government tortures people because they tried to seek asylum here via a leaky boat rather than through a nonexistent official procedure.

Thanks to its government’s initial humane generosity, Germany is overfilled with refugees, and this has led to a resurgence of neo-Nazism.

But there is hope, and more than that: success. Please read this inspiring report by Musa Okwonga about the way protesters for tolerance have forced a far-right group to give up.

The author is himself black, with a Muslim name, and yet he is accepted as a Berliner. So he should be.


Defenders against inhumanity

notwelcome
That’s the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Within my limited means, I am one of their supporters.

This time of the year, like all of us, I am inundated with begging emails for all sorts of causes I approve of. It’s too much, and my Delete button works overtime. However, I could just not ignore a passionate letter from Kon Karapanagiotidis, the leader of this team that daily fights in the courts to save innocent people from being returned to a high risk of torture and death.

Please send them a few dollars.


Environment

How to reduce extinctions
Action needed, not talk
The human face of climate change

 

How to reduce extinctions

A few months ago, I made a submission to an Australian Senate enquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis. They have just notified me that I may now make my submission public, so I have uploaded it as a PDF file. It is only 5 pages, but if you are interested in the survival of all complex life on this planet (including your loved ones), then it will give you great ammunition in moving thoughtful people’s opinion, and hopefully action.

I encourage you to apply my reasoning to your part of the world. After all, we share one little planet.


Action needed, not talk


Gandhi kicked the British out of India via nonviolent action. We now need to kick the moneybags out of power in the same way. This is the inspiration of a new British organisation, Extinction Rebellion.

When the law is against reason, morality, or our very survival, it should be defied. As a young fellow, I was involved in nonviolent protests. It is time, all over the globe, that we fight for survival.


The human face of climate change

Five years ago, all the world watched in sympathy as super-typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines. A commission has been established to examine the contribution of climate change to such disasters, and the responsibility of the fossil fuel industries for the damage. In order to allow coal and oil companies to respond, hearings are held in various Western countries.

Their response: they are not attending.

This account caught my eye because it is not about technicalities, or arguments, but people.

A nice young woman who survived has said, “All I ask of them is to think about the long-term impacts of what they are doing.”

You’ve got to read it.


Good News

New hope for Ethiopia
Good news for tigers and rhinos — for now/a>

 

New hope for Ethiopia

Their new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed is transforming a savagely traumatised country’s culture toward cooperation, decency, letting go of past hatreds.

And the country has just appointed its first female President, Sahle-Work Zewde.

Exiles from the country are returning, there is peace among previously warring ethnic groups, and there is hope.

May Ethiopia be the model. Far better than Trumpistan!


Good news for tigers and rhinos — for now

Chinese medicine has superstitious aspects, like rhino horn and tiger bits enhancing male potency. While Chinese authorities are all for wildlife conservation, traditionally they’d allowed bits of these animals as long as they were captive, and bred for the purpose. Naturally, when a poacher kills wild animals, the harvested parts look the same, so these magnificent, intelligent animals are being hunted to extinction.

There was an absolute ban on using rhino and tiger in “medical” preparations, but recently it was relaxed. Such a storm of protest arose that, terrific, the ban has been reinstated “for now.”

See, public reactions work, even with the Chinese. Let’s stay vigilant, and protect nature against homo stupidens.


Inspiration

Gandhi’s spiritual daughter?
A well-deserved award to inspiring kids

 

Gandhi’s spiritual daughter?


Molly Scott Cato is a British politician, who has announced her intention of going from law-maker to law-breaker to try to save the planet.

She is leading a movement for nonviolent direct action to protect what future we still have.

Her words are powerful. Please read them.


A well-deserved award to inspiring kids

In February this year, a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida shocked the world. Surviving students then led a movement, March for our Lives, against the power of the gun lobby.

They have now been awarded the 2018 International Children’s Peace Prize, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu presenting it to them.

May I live long enough to see one of these kids as President of the USA.


Compassion

He didn’t want charity, but received love anyway
7 Things Homeless Shelters Need Most in Winter

 

He didn’t want charity, but received love anyway

Forty years ago, a refugee couple from Cambodia set up a donut shop in Seal Beach, California. As refugees do, they grew into the community. Now, the lady is recovering from a brain aneurysm, and her husband wants to spend every possible moment with her.

A local offered to raise money, but he declined. So, instead of buying one donut at a time, people buy all they can, so the shop is out of stock early in the morning — and can shut so the owner can indeed be with his wife.

This is love in action. Anyone can participate, anywhere on Earth.


7 Things Homeless Shelters Need Most in Winter

SE Smith’s suggestions in Care2.com are compassion in action. I’d never have thought of some of them, like toothpaste, but they make perfect sense.

You can improve someone’s life at a time of the year when being down and out is even more painful.

Jake Austin in St Louis started by helping with food and clothes. The photo shows his service now: a mobile shower for homeless people.


Technology

Shopping bags
Good tips on reducing energy use
Roof cleans air

 

Shopping bags

In our little town, there is a group of enthusiastic women, including my wife, who hold occasional working bees, making shopping bags from things like old sheets. They decorate them, and have made them available for free to a local supermarket.

I am no sewing machine expert, but I reckon even I could do it, and so can you (for your own use, or as a public service).

So, I was a little surprised to find Katherine Martinko describing the idea as something new.

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to crochet shopping bags that looked like very small-holed fishing nets. You could put two or three in your pocket, and yet one could hold 5 Kg (11 pounds) of potatoes without trouble. Not being a great crocheter, I have sometimes taken an old, emptied onion bag (you know, those orange networks that can trap unfortunate animals) and used it as a shopping bag.

Katherine’s article does have some very useful tips, so is worth reading.


Good tips on reducing energy use

This infographic from Environment America will save you money and reduce your environmental footprint wherever you live.

Harvard University Office for Sustainability, the source of the pic, also has excellent advice.


Roof cleans air

3M has developed a roof coating that uses UV energy from the sun to decompose nitrous oxides in the air, which are the main component of lung-wrecking smog, so this is a potentially major reduction of distress, illness and death for urban people and other animals.

Mind you, when the rain washes the resulting stuff off the roof, you have a nitrogenous fertiliser that is a serious problem in waterways. It adds to fertiliser washoff from farms, soil erosion because of industrial farming, sewage and factory farm effluent, whether treated or not. This is what leads to the terrible problems of stinking, dead rivers, and offshore dead zones.

While reducing the effects of smog is great, we need to get rid of the source of nitrous oxides. They come from vehicle emissions and factory smokestacks. So, the ultimate answer is not technology to fix the problems of technology, but using less technology.

Band aids don’t fix cancer, and the global economy is Mother Earth’s cancer.


Philosophy

Elephant can count

This study is yet another bit of evidence for something I’ve been shouting for years: animals are people, too.

A lady elephant in Japan collaborated with a few scientists because she likes to have fun. She learned to use a touchscreen attached to a computer, and showed her human friends that she can count.

My question is: how well would those human scientists do on tests the elephant might design?


Look over a writer’s shoulder

How has writing rewarded you? What has it cost you?

This was The November Rhobin’s Rounds topic. You may find it entertaining.


Announcements

Avaaz needs your help

Avaaz is raising money to enable them to have an input into the Global Deal for Nature at the crucial Biodiversity Summit of 2020.

This is the most important issue facing humanity. Climate change is only part of it. We are killing all life. There is a serious, well-researched plan for dealing with this tragedy.

Please have a read at Avaaz’s donation page, then, if you agree with them, pass on a few bucks.


Short stories

Pip’s call to action


Stephanie Black has posted a long and thoughtful comment to How to Change the World. I have learned some of the answers to her questions from Pip Lipkin, who is the hero of my novel, Ascending Spiral.

Read how Pip finishes his book.



New stuff

*Responses
Jon and Barbara Tucker
Sound Eagle
Kelly Janis

*Environment
Yet another oil spill
In case you missed it

*Good news
XL halted again

*Inspiring people
George inspires, again

*Technology
You can build your own bamboo bike

*Deeper issues
Rapid evolution protects elephants

*Psychology
I hate being bitter and mean
Alcohol is ruining my marriage
How do I help my husband?

*Look over a writer’s shoulder
Matching language to content
Free short stories for your phone

*What my friends want you to know
Setting the Tone from the Top: How director conversations shape culture
Support teacher education on climate science
Help train a wildlife ranger
Refugee Alternatives conference, South Australia, 19-20 Feb 2019
Control cholera in Zambia

*Reviews
From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Walter Stoffel
Dream Teams by Shane Snow

*Fun
The fun way to relocate
Environmentally responsible goat
Fitness for oldies


Responses

Jon and Barbara Tucker
Sound Eagle
Kelly Janis

 

Jon and Barbara Tucker

Thank you Bob for forwarding your latest issue of Bobbing Around. We’ve been on the road during these past few days but I’ve dabbled in it during this time and have been impressed with the breadth of material you’ve pulled together,and the whole ethos of the collection. Anna Duong’s request was too compelling to resist.

Many thanks also for your recognition of the environmental content of my latest book.

You certainly have been devoting huge energy towards excellent causes.

Cheers – Jon (& Barbara) Tucker

Jon’s book, Those Sugar-Barge Kids is a very recent recipient of my LiFE Award: Literature For Environment.


Sound Eagle

Elephants can not just count but also make art and music, as discussed in my special post Animal artistry and musicality.

This was in response to my blog post, listed under “Philosophy.”


Kelly Janis

Kelly voted in my free book edit contest, and was one of the first people to respond to my offer of a free book.

Dear Dr. Rich,

Thank you! I truly love books and look forward to reading Through Other Eyes.

When I was reading your email, I started laughing and went into my living room and told my kids that I am getting a new book! Each of them replied, in unison mind you, “NO!” The look on their faces was absolutely priceless, which made me laugh harder!

You see, I have hundreds of books and not enough bookshelves! My youngest son said that he counted over 700 books a few years ago. I have entire collections from several authors and even have two sets of encyclopedias.

When I mentioned that I could download this book, my daughter exclaimed, “It’s about time!” I do believe that I’ll be getting a Kindle for Christmas!

This will be my first electronic book!

Please know that your email gave me more than book. Your email gave me a hysterical and precious moment with my kids; a memory that I will cherish! I am a single mother of three; my daughter is 16 and my sons are 15 and 13.

I hope you and your family will enjoy a beautiful holiday season filled with many blessings.

Sincerely,

Kelly Janis


Environment

Yet another oil spill
In case you missed it

 

Yet another oil spill

This one is off the shores of Newfoundland. This is the largest offshore oil spill in Newfoundland history.

Gas and oil pipelines… Coal, gas and oil trains… Offshore disasters like this one…

Catastrophic release is one of the ways we are destroying the life support system of the entire planet. As a matter of urgency, it is time to STOP.

How?

  • Use less. Energy conservation is one of the most powerful actions you can take. For example, an empty room needs no light.
  • Eliminate the need for fossil carbon use. For example, whenever possible I use my computer or phone to replace travel to anywhere.
  • Replace with environmentally less damaging alternatives. For example, use public transport, bike or walking instead of cars.
  • My usual refrain: live simply so you may simply live.


In case you missed it

There is this commercial crap of people going on a buying frenzy on Black Friday. So, the US government has released the year’s most important climate report on the afternoon of that day.

Please look at the summary if nothing else, then, if formal language is not your thing, here are two writeups to choose from: in EcoWatch and AP News.


Good news

XL halted again

Even more important is the judge’s expressed reasoning: the State Department must take into account the risks posed by the project: oil spills, damage to indigenous resources, and climate change.

Trump’s order to do something is not sufficient reason under the law.


Inspiration

George inspires, again

George Monbiot is a shining light of courage. I don’t always agree with him — only about 95%, but on the issue of West Papua, he is exactly right.

In this brief but well-researched essay he sets out the case for Britain to support independence for a terribly mistreated people.

OK, you may not be British, but, presumably, you are human and live on the same planet. And, presumably, your country is also represented at the UN, where the action can start.

The first step in doing anything is to become aware of a problem. Please read.


Technology

You can build your own bamboo bike

It’s better than the metal variety, believe it or not. No, it won’t fall to pieces.

You can read Katherine Martinko’s report.

The kit is shipped worldwide, with full instructions, although I found it rather expensive. But when I looked for a public domain pic to use, I found surprisingly cheap ones, ready to ride.


Deeper issues

Rapid evolution protects elephants

Poachers kill for ivory. No tusk = safety.

African elephants have a mutation that was rare until recently: some females never grew tusks. Now, in some populations this is observed in a large and growing proportion of young ones.

This is Darwin’s evolution: selection of the fittest for a changed environment.

We are to see what wider ecological changes will result from this new development. Elephants use their tusks for all sorts of purposes, which provide food opportunities for many other species. It seems that tuskless elephants are doing fine by changing their diets, but who knows what else may result in consequence.

I wonder what environmental pressures we could bring to bear to have a gunless poacher evolve?


Psychology

I hate being bitter and mean
Alcohol is ruining my marriage
How do I help my husband?

 

I hate being bitter and mean

I split from my ex over 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve been bitter, mean and negative. I want to stop this in my life and be happy.

He was having an affair with my ex married bff. Every time I see him I always find fault with my ex bff and make a jab at her every time. I am in contact with him a few times a week as I have a part time job that he is one of my bosses. Reason being is that he always constantly talks about her. He was like that when we were together. He would even get her a coffee and knew what she took in it. And he never did the same for me after 17 years. And if I wanted coffee I had to go make my own. If I made a little extra for a 2nd cup and she asked for some I said no you guys drank it all. He would get mad at me and tell me to give the coffee to her. Anyhow i left i could stand being treated the way i was, but during the separation she was telling what i could or couldn’t take. Which was none of her business. Now she is acting all hurt like since the split and sad. I am mean to him as well as it takes two to tango. But man does he ever defend her.

Martina, you have already taken the first step toward healing: you hate the fact of being consumed by hate and resentment, and want to change. Such emotions are a hot coal you pick up to throw at someone else. It is your hand that gets burned.

Basically, all you need to do now is to move your intention from the head to the heart. This is difficult, but you can do it. Millions of other people have, and it also has an additional benefit. When you succeed, you will have permanently become a better person, in all aspects of your life.

So, perhaps this nasty situation you are in is actually a blessing: a spur to growth that forces you to move toward a higher level of spiritual development.

I recommend two kinds of action: external and internal.

The external action is to problem-solve about eliminating contact with these two people. You don’t need them in your life. This means changing jobs, perhaps even moving to a different place so you can start again with new friends. That of course depends on other considerations like contact with family and current friends, your skillset, etc. I don’t know about these, and don’t need to. You can sort it out yourself.

So, start on the journey of letting go of the past, and creating a better life.

The internal path is one of forgiveness. It’s important to know what that means and doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean excusing their actions. They treated you badly, and you don’t need to forget this, or to think it was all right. It just means, “Whatever you have done in the past, I forgive you. Go your own way, stay out of my life — and my blessings to you.”

As I said, this is not easy. You need to unlearn habits you probably learned as a child, and to learn a new habit. Please read my page “How to break a habit.”

One powerful technique is that, when you remember, act AS IF you have forgiven them. In their company (while arranging to get them out of your life), do your best to behave as if they were only casual, friendly acquaintances, of little importance to you.

In their company or without them, whenever a thought of resentment of hurt arises, it’s OK to have that thought/emotion. You didn’t invite it, it just came because it’s an old habit. Simply acknowledge the thought without struggle or judgment, and add a rider of your own design, something like, “True, but I forgive them anyway.”

You are welcome to contact me, and we can continue working together for your welfare.

With friendship,
Bob


Alcohol is ruining my marriage

Hi

I found your contact from Queendom.com. I need help. I am a 28 years old married woman. My husband and I both work in the IT industry. It has been two years into my marriage and these two years have been terrible for me. Yes there has been good times spent with my husband but there are more bad times than good times. He has a drinking problem and he is very loud and loves to argue. On the other hand, I am a very introverted person. I hate arguments and just want peace. He never keeps promises and he has lied to me multiple times just so that he can go to pubs, dance bars and drink excessively. Afterwards the scene usually involves shouting and arguments and it turns into a messy situation. I have tried so many times to make him understand how harmful it is for our relationship and every time he promises to change this behavior and ultimately fails to do so.

He always finds my fault and says things like I am uncool, unsporting, I have anger issues, I am stubborn etc. He blames me for not accepting his behavior. He never fails to point out my faults or mistakes. Whenever I don’t accept his behavior he somehow tries to prove that I have a mental condition.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t decide. He doesn’t want to leave me. But he won’t change his behavior. Please help me…

Thanks & Regards,

My dear, this is a frequently found situation, which doesn’t make it any easier to bear. I suggest you contact Al Anon. They can be a resource and support for you.

It sounds to me that he is an alcoholic in denial. Him blaming you for having a mental condition is a typical way of him avoiding having to look at his own behavior.

Almost invariably, people in his pitiful situation cannot admit that they have a problem until they have lost everything: family, job, even home. The only thing that has a chance of working is “tough love:” “I am leaving you, now. I’ll give you six months to get free of alcohol. Join Alcoholics Anonymous or go to rehab. If you can get completely off alcohol within six months, we can see if reconciliation is possible. If not, it’s divorce.”

However hard that may sound, it is the most loving thing you can do for him.

You may find this intimidating. There may be a real possibility that he will react with violence. Therefore, find a man he respects, and who can be your witness and protector when you confront him.

If even that is too dangerous or frightening, then plan the separation ahead of time: have somewhere to move to, perhaps change jobs, and move. Write him a letter saying what I wrote above.

There is a book that will help him get rid of alcohol addiction — once he admits it is a problem for him. This is Alcohemy by David Norman.

Unfortunately, when living with a person who doesn’t acknowledge his addiction, there is a slippery slide in which things just get worse and worse. For your own future safety, and for his best interest, it’s better to separate than to put up with the situation.

With caring,
Bob


How do I help my husband?

I’ve been married to my husband for 2.5 years and for much of it, he’s been a wonderful husband. We do have some differences. He’s an only child and is not close to his family. I have multiple siblings and come from a close family (geographically and emotionally).
The last several months have been difficult. I had a health problem and then a bad car accident (I wasn’t hurt but it was scary and particularly shook him up). His work has been stressful. An antidepressant he was on caused him to gain weight — a BIG trigger for him. And, to top it off, we found his biological family. While that’s been a wonderful, positive experience, it’s still brought up a lot of emotion.

He has really turned against my family lately and is convinced that my loyalty is with them, not him. It seems like he thinks if I don’t blow up at them and cut them off, then I’m not on his side. The problem is, they like him. No one has ever said a word against him or done anything to cut him out. If they did, I would absolutely stand by him. But it’s hard for me to stand up for him if no one’s against him.

Also, he likes to test people — everyone. He expects me and everyone else to read his mind, to anticipate his thoughts and needs, especially when he’s in one of his moods. If I don’t pick up on a VERY vague hint — and sometimes there’s not even a hint — then I get berated for not “getting” him and he tells me that after more than 2 years, I should understand him completely now. I’ve told him I’m not good at mind reading and that he’s not as obvious as he thinks he is. If no one picks up the clues, then they might not be good clues. He doesn’t agree.
His anger has always been a problem but lately it’s been borderline dangerous. There were a couple of nights when he actually threw things and broke them. He’s never hurt me and I don’t believe he would, but it’s scary.

So, how do I handle this situation with my husband and my family? Also, what do I do about the testing? It strikes me as being immature and insecure but I can’t convince him of that. He’s certain he’s right and everyone else is wrong.

Denise my dear, the first thing I note is that he has RECENTLY put on weight in response to taking an antidepressant. Some of these drugs also have side effects that affect thinking and emotion. It is possible that his RECENT changes including delusions are due to the medication he is on.

Some doctors prescribe these things as the first line of attack on an emotional problem, and this is contrary to the evidence. I am guessing, but perhaps he has been suffering things like flashbacks to that car smash? And/or there may be various problems because he had been adopted? If so, an antidepressant is actually counterindicated. What he needs in that case is a good psychologist who is competent at trauma work. However, he should NOT simply discontinue the drug. That needs to be done gradually, under medical supervision.

Second, regardless of the reason for the change, his behavior as you described it is abusive, and he may not realize this. You have the right to protect yourself from abuse. Pick a good moment, and then use the “assertive formula.” This is “When you… I feel… so please do this.” You don’t need to keep to the exact format, but use the intent of not-blaming, focusing on the effect of the other person’s behavior on you, and ask for action/change.

You wrote that he is in denial about having problems; it’s always someone else’s fault. But, using the assertive formula, you can tell him that you feel a serious strain in the marriage, and want to sort it out before it gets worse. Read my relationships page and if you can, encourage him to read it too.

There is a book that will be very helpful, “Love is Never Enough” by Aaron Beck. Its biggest contribution is a focus on this “mind reading.”

I have a story about “mind reading” at my blog: Coffee Storm. I specially wrote it for my coming book, “From Depression to Contentment.” Both of you will find it funny, and it may have a subtle effect on him.

Still using the assertive formula, see if you can get the two of you to have a few sessions with a couples therapist, preferably one trained in John Gottman’s approach.

I think he is lucky to have you in his life. Keep up the good work.
Bob


Look over a writer’s shoulder

Matching language to content
Free short stories for your phone

 

Matching language to content

Here is a way of increasing the emotional impact of your writing: make the sound of the words reflect the emotional content of their meaning.

Imagine a little Australian Aboriginal girl just starting school. She arrives to find out that she already knows everything being taught, but no one believes that. This is how she feels:

    She quickly realised that she already knew everything Miss Bachel taught the class — even the things the Grade 2 girls were supposed to learn. So, she sat in her little seat and dreamed of home with her eyes open. Within her mind she could smell the scent of the gumtrees, feel the wind on her face, she played with her two little boys, hugged Mother or Old Mother or Father or Atan, who smelled of horse even in her imagination, sat on Mrs Mac’s knee while the lady read her a story, copied the same words that Gerald was teaching Atan, and all the while she managed to comply with the teacher’s directions and seemed to be just one of the class. Occasionally, Miss Bachel spoke sharply to her for not paying attention, then she’d be forced to return to a few minutes of boredom, but soon she went home again, replaying scenes of Mr Mac on Devil, or from earlier, food gathering with the women by the river, or listening to Uncle Riso telling stories about the Dreamtime, or about the old days before the white man.

Contrast the language with this:

    “What are you doing?” the big girl demanded in an unpleasant, high voice.

    “I… I need to have a call of nature,” she answered, using Mrs Mac’s term for it.

    “Nah. What are you doing in my school?”

    “Mrs Talbot decided I could come.” Within, Maraglindi felt a stirring of anger, perhaps for the first time in her life. She could see from the girl’s glow that she was furious, but now she no longer feared her. Who was this fellow student to question her anyway?

    “Well, listen here, dirty little Abo, you go home where you came from and–”

    “No! You have no right! I’ll tell Mrs Talbot. She said I should.”

    A whirl of movement, and Maraglindi found herself on the ground, looking up. At first, there was no pain, just a numbness about her left cheek. Then a shod foot slammed into her side. The girl towered over her, and Maraglindi had never seen a black glow about anyone before, except, suddenly she remembered, Father had one like this after Kohli had been killed.

    “You do and you’re DEAD, little slut!”

    Then she was alone.

    The worst thing was, she’d wetted herself.

Reflecting the activity of musing to escape boredom, the first passage has deliberately long, rambling, chained sentences. If you read it aloud, you’ll find it has a sing-song cadence, and the emotional tone will be low, soft, even.

The second scene involves sudden, violent action. To reflect this, the sentences are short, direct, staccato. If you read it aloud, you’ll use a louder voice, probably with a lot of inflection to reflect the emotions.

Here is something far more violent, from another story:

    If I wasn’t an old girl of eighty-four, I’d be dead too.

    Not that I care — I’d be better off dead than the way I am. I haven’t slept at all since it happened. Every time I close my eyes, I see horribly the mutilated little bodies, and Naomi’s white crossing supervisor uniform covered in deep red blotches and bits of her brain, and I see his gloating face as he flashes by.

    It was on purpose. I could see it in the leer of his eyes, his half-open mouth. I could even see that he was leaning forward in his seat, the seatbelt a little pulled away from the side. He looked like a naughty kid snatching a chocolate bar off the shelf before he runs out of the shop.

    If I’d been able to walk as fast as the children, I’d have been among them, walking beside Naomi. But I was a few steps behind, half leaning on my wheelie frame, so he missed me. I felt the wind of the red car’s passing, smelled the stink of its exhaust, was even close enough for my stockings and the bottom edge of my dress to be splattered with some blood. He must have missed the front of my wheelie frame by inches.

    Six lovely little children, none over seven years old I’d say. And kind, fat Naomi who always had a laugh for everyone, and was out there twice a day during school term, whatever the weather.

    Dead. Killed. Snuffed out in an instant of terror.

    And me, I live.

Having it in present tense gives it a vivid immediacy that matches the fact that the narrator is having a flashback while telling the story: she is THERE, THEN, so it just has to be in present tense.

At the same time, she is grappling with emotions, and this slows her speech, gives it somewhat complex syntax. Despite this, reading it aloud will reveal the same staccato sound as in the second passage. A subtle little addition is the occasional ungrammatical word string. This emphasises the emotion — but only because the rest is very strictly grammatical.

I imagine that when you read, you do so for pleasure. You get immersed in the content, and the language disappears. If it doesn’t, then the author has done an incompetent job of writing.

Now, pick up a book from one of your favourite writers. Among the writers I’ve studied are Jonathan Kellerman, Dick Francis, Stephen King, Wilbur Smith and Ernest Hemingway. All of them do a beautiful job of matching language to content. Read with an eye on this device, and you’ll be surprised at the subtle, usually invisible, but very definite way the language changes with the needs of the story.

The next thing of course is to have a go at writing that way yourself. If you haven’t done so before, at first you’ll be way too obvious about it, which is of course the opposite of what you want: artificial, attracting attention to language. But persevere.


Free short stories for your phone

Yes, short stories should never be imprisoned! Free short stories! (I do love English.)

Yours2Read is a new British site where you can download short stories formatted just right for a smartphone, although they can be read on other devices.

I have been one of their beta authors, helping them to develop a convenient organisation of material. Finally, I approve of their navigation, so you can find two stories from me there: The Spaghetti Warrior and The Meaning of Life and Death.

If enough people download my stories, I can be their featured author, so please have a look.


What my friends want you to know

Setting the Tone from the Top: How director conversations shape culture
Support teacher education on climate science
Help train a wildlife ranger
Refugee Alternatives conference, South Australia, 19-20 Feb 2019
Control cholera in Zambia

 

Setting the Tone from the Top: How director conversations shape culture


Melinda Muth and Bob Selden have penned a book on communication for Board Directors and Senior Executives. “We’re very pleased that the Australian Institute of Company Directors have commissioned us to write this book,” said Bob.
The ‘use of knowledge’ as a process, as opposed to the ‘presence of knowledge and skills’ on the Board, is the key theme of the book. Bob and Melinda show how using appropriate words and language can tap the collective knowledge of the Board to improve their working relationships, their collective decision-making and ultimately positively impact the behaviour of management and the culture of the organisation.

After reading an early draft, Sydney Finkelstein, Professor for Strategy and Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and author of the bestseller, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, commented:

“What we say and how we say it has never been more important in this era of ‘fake news’. Muth and Selden cut through the clutter to provide road-tested and sage advice for board members and senior executives alike on how to communicate more effectively when the chips are down.”

Available through the AICD or through Amazon.


Support teacher education on climate science

To all my folk, friends, and followers: please support this campaign being conducted by an affiliate of Cornell University to COUNTER the radical right agenda to misinform, mis-teach, and misguide the nation’s science teachers and students about climate change and the underlying science. They are attempting to reach all 350,000 of the teachers who had received a “climate denial” kit from a Libertarian group last year.

John Strohl


Help train a wildlife ranger


Dear Bob,

I want to introduce you to Saw Edo Nar — a ranger in one of the four existing WWF-supported Wildlife Protection Units.

Saw Edo Nar is the leader of the Myeik Dawei Division of rangers in the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape, an area located along the Thailand and Myanmar borders, that is one of the three last strongholds for tigers in Southeast Asia.

Working as a wildlife ranger, Saw has experienced many awful things. He’s seen tigers and elephants caught in snares, animals shot by poachers, and a high amount of tree-clearing in an area which was once pristine and untouched.

“As a ranger, we have faced difficulties like flood or facing with poachers… sometimes we have to travel for 3 or 4 days but we do not put these problems in our thoughts… we have a responsibility to protect the animals and the forest.”

Please help train more rangers.

The area where the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape is situated has experienced recent economic growth, meaning that poachers, loggers and bulldozers are closing in, all trying to claim a piece of the region.

This is why we urgently need to train and deploy more rangers like Saw Edo Nar. The more Wildlife Protection Units we can get into the forest, the better the chance we have of protecting tigers from harm and risk of extinction. Will you please help us today?


Refugee Alternatives conference, South Australia, 19-20 Feb 2019

We are delighted to announce that Refugee Alternatives Conference 2019 will be held on February 19 & 20 at the University of South Australia in Adelaide. Early bird tickets are now available.

Building on the success of Refugee Alternatives since 2017, this year’s conference will be jointly hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia and MARRNet (Migration and Refugee Research Network). We are giving priority to speakers from refugee backgrounds in recognition of the crucial role their voices lend to the sessions. We will also hear about the latest research in the field, and those working on the front-line of Australian and international refugee realities.

This is an incredible opportunity to build skills, to network with others working for justice for refugees and people seeking asylum, and to collaborate on alternatives to refugee and asylum seeker affairs in Australia. The event will be two days jam-packed with unique perspectives, ideas for action and strategy, and opportunities to meet others working in the space. Join us!

When: 19-20 February 2019

Where: University of South Australia, City West Campus, Adelaide

Regards,
Michelle Ferns and the Refugee Alternatives Conference Team


Control cholera in Zambia

Dear Bob,

I travelled to Zambia and I want to tell you about the strong women I met — and how they fight to keep cholera from taking their loved ones.

I met strong women like Irene, a volunteer community health worker. She shared her story with me, hoping it would reach caring people like you.

Irene lives and works in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, amid densely populated settlements where 90% of people don’t have clean water. There are so few toilets here: about one toilet for 75 people.

Because there are no sewerage or water systems in place, families often make simple pit latrines near their homes and collect water from shallow wells.

When the rainy season starts, the water rises and so do the contents of these latrines. All the water sources become contaminated and deadly diseases like cholera take hold.

Bob, will you help health workers like Irene prevent another cholera outbreak in Zambia?
iren
Irene (centre), photographer Georgina Goodwin (right) and myself at Irene’s home in Lusaka. Irene introduced us to her family and showed us how she trains her community to stay safe from cholera.

Warm wishes,
Kate, Oxfam


Reviews

From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Walter Stoffel
Dream Teams, by Shane Snow

 

From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Walter Stoffel

As a drug and alcohol counselor, From Depression to Contentment proved to be a most timely read for me. Though addiction causes its own set of problems, substance abuse is often driven by an underlying mental health issue. I’m always looking for guidance in helping people and I found it in this book.

Dr. Rich leaves no stone unturned — he draws on science, academia, religions of all stripes and personal experience to forge strategies for self-empowerment. Most importantly, the author provides concrete homework for the reader, putting theory into practice As a result, Dr. Rich has constructed a comprehensive plan for improving one’s approach to life, whether depressed or not.

This book is an informative, pro-active jump starter for anyone striving to feel better.

Walter Stoffel B.A., C.A.D.C.

Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. His follow-up book will be released in early 2019 and is the fictional account of a young boy’s struggle to survive his childhood.


Dream Teams, by Shane Snow

This book is a serious work of sociology, but you wouldn’t know from reading it. Rather than being a scholarly (i.e., boring) presentation of research, conclusions and recommendations, it is an intriguing collection of interlaced short stories. Each is a case study that illustrates some point about what builds or destroys teams. They are also fascinating glimpses of history, the best in human nature, and principles of psychology in action.
As you read, you are exposed to a logically organized series of lessons. Frequent reference back to previous stories tie it all together, leading to a developing understanding of how to create and maintain effective teamwork. I have a Ph.D. in psychology, and many years of experience, and yet I learned lots from reading this book.
Starting with the Foreword by Aaron Walton, a self-described gay black boy made good, much of the content is inspiring. Perhaps the most captivating story is toward the end, when the author describes the worst period of his life, and what allowed him to move on.
I do have a criticism, and a suggestion for improvement.
The criticism regards the frequent footnotes. They either break the flow of reading, or are ignored. A good rule is, if it’s worth including, it’s worth working into the text. If it’s a distraction there, then chop it.
The suggestion for improvement is about making it easier to keep track of the lessons. The target audience of Dream Teams is high-level decision-makers. Such people are busy, and I suspect few have the time to read a 300 page book, however enjoyable. It is too much of a good thing.
There is a “cheat sheet” at the end, which is a bulleted-point listing of all the lessons and recommendations. This should be given more prominence, and occasionally mentioned within the text.
The way the book is written is actually an application of what it teaches. Stories engage the emotions, and lead to change. Information stays in the head. So, to get the real benefit, a person NEEDS to read the stories. All the same, someone who considers the book to be too long and declines reading it will certainly not benefit. A balance is needed here.
However, I recommend that anyone who interacts with other people (meaning everyone) should read Dream Teams. Even if CEOs miss out, those of us who can spare the time don’t need to.


Fun

The fun way to relocate
Environmentally responsible goat
Fitness for oldies

 

The fun way to relocate

A bookshop needed to move from one shop to another in the same street. Instead of using a truck for the 2000 books, they called for volunteers. 250 people, from kids to grandparents, formed a human chain and did the job in an hour.

What a FUN way to build community while eliminating environmental impact.

Please read Melissa Breyer’s writeup, and see the delightful pictures.


Environmentally responsible goat
You’ve got to see this.


Fitness for oldies


About Bobbing Around

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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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