Bobbing Around Volume 19 Number 11

Since the mid-20th century, humans have increasingly — although largely unintentionally — threatened significant harm to themselves and to the planet, prioritising economic and population growth but largely ignoring its social, political and environmental consequences.
John Hewson, a former leader of the Liberal (conservative) party of Australia


I am fortunate that I suffer with Bipolar two disorder, because all of my suffering and long road to recovery have made it possible for me to help others from direct experience.
Alfredo Zotti, in his coming book on music therapy

Bobbing Around

Volume Nineteen, Number Eleven,
May, 2020

Bob Rich’s rave

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*From me to you
Featured on popular blog
Carolyn helps two writers with one action
And Victor, too
New grandson gives me joy
Avoid Amazon
Does the world drag you down?

*New stuff

*Blog posts during April


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.


At the end of the last ice age, parts of West Antarctica thinned by an average of 1.5 to 3 feet (0.5 – 1 meters) per year. Today with GPS, satellite and airborne measurements, scientists are seeing parts of West Antarctica thin by 3 to 20 feet (1 to 6 meters) per year.
Dan Morgan


In due course we hope the Coronavirus emergency will resolve. The same can’t be said about the climate and ecological emergency.
Extinction Rebellion


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

Featured on popular blog
Carolyn helps two writers with one action
And Victor, too
New grandson gives me joy
Avoid Amazon
Does the world drag you down?

 

Featured on popular blog

For quite some time, I have enjoyed posts on the Luck-It Network, which has a versatile, interesting set of posts. It is run by Sara, a lady in Singapore.

She has interviewed me on three different topics. The first one has appeared on Friday, 17th April, and its topic is What is it like to be over 70?

If I may say so, I gave entertaining answers to her questions. Please visit and comment, and it is equally kind if you spread the word.


Carolyn helps two writers with one action

That’s Carolyn Howard-Johnson, whose “New Book Review” site is a source of information about books you may well enjoy, but have not had the opportunity to hear about.

The two writers are Jack Pilgers and me.

How is she helping us? There is one way to find out.


And Victor, too

Victor is the publisher of two of my books, and kindly uses his distribution network for several others of my titles. He has also posted Jack’s review of From Depression to Contentment to the book’s page.


New grandson gives me joy

A young man contacted me with a desperate cry for help. For five years, he had been torturing himself with guilt about a set of actions he’d engaged in between the ages of 7 and 15, which involved manipulating other kids to do certain things.

I replied, among other things asking about his life. The next day, I received this answer:

    I’m studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at university.

    I hope to use my degree to help people who don’t have a voice, or whose stories haven’t been shared. This has been solidified by your advice. In my freshman year I worked in a Research lab studying Early Childhood morality, and currently I am working on an app for children’s literacy and narrative development. My brother has pretty severe autism, and having grown up with that, I think I’d be interested in exploring technologies to help with that too.

    Being away from school and friends, the whole state of the world right now, and this recent realization have all been making me feel utterly unmotivated. I think your words are beginning to help with that :).

    I can’t wait to read your book, and thank you again.


Avoid Amazon

Do you really want to subsidise Jeff Bezos? Isn’t it obscene that he has made 24 billion dollars PROFIT from the coronavirus?

If he used at least some of that windfall to benefit society, and his employees, then why not. But, for years, working for Amazon has been one of the worst things a person could endure. Amazon has been a leader in exploitation, low pay, harsh and dangerous working conditions. Recently, several Amazon employees have been victimised for requesting protection from the virus at work. So, this even provides a selfish reason for refusing to buy from Jeff: his unfortunate workers may unknowingly send the virus right to you.

Greed permeates all aspects of Amazon’s operations. This has actually had an effect on me, personally. In 2018, they brought in a policy: you can only post a review for anything at an Amazon site if you have spent the local currency equivalent of $50 on that site.

I wrote this essay at the time, and have actually managed to send it to Jeff’s email address. No, I didn’t get a response.

Most things sold at Amazon are available elsewhere. eBay is usually cheaper, and there are many other places. Many books are sold by
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Google Play books
Apple books

When you can, please refuse to buy from Amazon, and if you have the time, let them know about it. They make feedback as difficult as possible. Go to any of their pages, and click on Help. Then wade through options (which they frequently change to confuse visitors), always choosing “non-order” options, until you are presented with an opportunity to chat or phone. There is also an email option, but hey, it is greyed out so it cannot be used.

Currently, I typed “Contact Amazon” in their search slot. I needed to log in, then chose “Prime or something else.” I got a drop-down list and selected “More non-order questions,” then “Other non-order question,” and there is was.


Does the world drag you down?

I am here for you. Send me an email, and I’ll do my best to ease the pain.



New stuff

Compassion
Bullied boy became a star, and now supports a bullied boy

Psychology
A few minutes of fun for an eternity of torture
I need help
All-consuming suicidal thoughts

Deeper Issues
Mice reveal emotions through facial expressions

Technology
Two Irish boys make face masks for frontline workers

Health
Active brain in retirement, by Samir Ferdowski

Look over a writer’s shoulder
How I do review swaps
The lay of lie

I approve of these announcements
People seeking asylum in Australia need your help right now
Save lives in Bangladesh
Cure for students’ sitting disease
Modern piano music can sound lovely

Reviews
From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Isabella Milan
Striking Back from Down under, reviewed by Fiona Lemmon
From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Dr. Laurie Zelinger
Praying for a miracle when it is hopeless, by Isabella Milan
Jack’s Path, by Jack Pilgers

Stories
A 50-word entry

Poetry
Crying for the Child, by Veronica-Mae Soar


Compassion

Bullied boy became a star, and now supports a bullied boy


I don’t have a TV, and rarely watch movies. All the same I’ve heard of Tom Hanks, vaguely. Now, all of a sudden, I am a fan.

While shooting his next movie in Australia, he and his wife both came down with COVID19. A young boy contacted him to wish him well, and to complain about being bullied. The kid’s name is Corona, and you can guess.

This celebrated film star replied, and even sent him a vintage Corona brand typewriter.

So, I read the Wikipedia page about him, to learn that he is a thoroughly good bloke. His fame and wealth have not shunted him onto the path of selfishness, as it does to so many. He is an environmentalist, an activist to support unfortunate people of various kinds, and feels compassion for those who need it.

In his boyhood, he was painfully shy. He came from a poor family, rising to the top through intelligence, persistence, and hard work.

His real wealth is not the money or luxuries, but his attitude.

Thank you, Tom


Psychology

A few minutes of fun for an eternity of torture
I need help
All-consuming suicidal thoughts

 

A few minutes of fun for an eternity of torture

My parents had their few minutes of fun and it led to me. I’m stuck in this world. And when I die, the odds are not in my favour. The fact that I’m atheist means I’ll most likely burn in hell. My skin will burn off, repair and burn off again. I can’t remember how else the Qur’an and Bible describe hell but all I know is that it’s not pretty.

No one thinks about the implications of bringing children into this world. And you know what, it’s extremely selfish. I have to stay here for about 70 more years. I have to find something that makes this experience tolerable and I don’t yet know what that is. Considering humans are social animals I guess you would say what makes this world tolerable is the people…wrong. The people are the worst part of this world. Most of them are ingenuine, narcissistic, trying to climb the ladder of success. And I’m just like them.

People make me uneasy. And those who don’t, I feel unworthy to be around.

I don’t know how I’m going to tolerate 70 more years of this. It’s torture. But it’s the better of two evils. I’m not ready to find out what happens once we die.

My dear, there is no hell. As an atheist, you know that. Hell is here on earth, if we choose to inhabit it.

But you have immense power. Instead, you can choose to live a life of meaning, inner strength, and purpose.

For a start, please read my first aid document. It is an early chapter from my book, From Depression to Contentment by Dr Bob Rich.

The document is available free at my psychology website.

The part relevant to your post is the last one, on meaning. Many years ago, a girl I have referred to as “Crissie” sent me a very similar message to yours. My reply to her may speak to you as well.

Then we can continue our conversation.

Your new grandfather,
Bob


I need help

            Everything seems to be falling apart
            thank you for believing in me
            but you shouldn’t
            I’m not strong
            I’m not confident
            I’m broken
            I’m bleeding
            And I should be dying right now
            because I’m losing everyone in my life
            and no one seem to notice
            I’m not the person that I was
            And nor do they care
            I’m empty inside
            And no one feels it
            Everything is hurting
            And no one knows it
            I’m bleeding
            And I should be dying right now

*I’m losing everything I care about bc I can’t make the right choices. I’m tired of living this life a fighting because it’s all I’m doing at this point. And I always fail it. I need someone’s help because I’m cutting again after being clean since February. But now I’ve ruined it. And I’m suicidal. Help me?*

That is a beautiful poem. If you can put emotion into words so well, there is a future for you. And I know both from experience and my professional knowledge that putting pain into words helps.

So, please keep writing.

That can be the first step in your healing.

The second step is hope. All thing are change. There is only this moment, and no matter how dreadful, this, too, shall pass.

A long time ago, I wanted to not-be, to go to sleep and not wake up. Six months later, I was on the top of the world, bursting with happiness.

You don’t know what’s around the corner.

The third step is to engineer what’s round the corner. I don’t know your circumstances, but you do. Look on it as a set of problems. Choose one, relatively easy problem, and work on a solution. When you succeed, this will give you the strength and confidence to tackle the next problem.

We are here for you.

Your new grandfather,
Bob


All-consuming suicidal thoughts

So it’s not news that I want to die, I’ve wanted to die for a long time. But I’m scared, but I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared about what happens if I fail, what my parents will do to me, because my parents are terrible, I’m scared they’ll find me before I die, I’m scared if I fail that they’ll pump me full of drugs like before. I’m scared of failing. I don’t want to fail. And I guess there is one part of me wishes something good will happen so I can stay a little longer. But I know it won’t. I think about death 24/7 like seriously it’s all I think about. Who knows what will happen.

There are obviously many things in your life that drag you down, but there is one place where you have power. You have slipped into a particular habit of thought: thinking about death 24/7. This consumes all your energy, destroys all your hope, and gets in the way of your motivation to do something constructive.

It doesn’t matter if those thoughts are realistic and rational, or completely false when viewed from the outside. Correct or wrong, they are harmful. So, working on this destructive habit will improve your life a great deal.

I can suggest two techniques for this:

1. Occupy your mind with something else. This can be a creative exercise, depending on your skills and interests. Examples are: learn to play a musical instrument; draw and paint; write poetry, stories or just a personal journal; do gardening, which creates life, beauty and perhaps even food.

You have been active here at Suicide Prevention. That’s excellent. Be there for others who are suffering. Never mind how I feel inside, my motivation is to make the world a better place for others. I know you feel the same. Now, use it as a tool. When a suicidal thought occurs, remind yourself that you are useful, giving support to others.

2. One of the most useful tools of cognitive-behavioral therapy is the “ABC diary.” It works like magic. Either in an exercise book, or in an electronic device, draw up a table with 4 columns:

Date and time
Trigger (what happened to induce the suicidal thought). That’s the “A” for antecedent.
The thought. That’s “B” for behavior.
The outcome: how the thought made you feel and act (“C” for consequence).

As I said, an ABC diary works like magic. When you use it on something you want more of, it increases. When you use it on something you want less of, like suicidal thoughts, it decreases. I have had clients who found that a many-times-a-day habit of thought reduced to 3 or 4 a week, just by keeping the ABC diary.

Second, it is also a detective tool. After a couple of weeks, you should read over your entries, and look for patterns. That will allow you to work on reducing the frequency of the triggers.

My dear young friend, you can do it.
Bob


Deeper Issues

Mice reveal emotions through facial expressions

Told you before: other animals are people too. A recent experimental report has demonstrated that mice show their expressions with subtle variations in how they pull faces at each other.

Mind you, if they are people, it’s not ethical to do experiments involving things like electric shocks to the tail.

You will find a plain-language description here.


Technology

Two Irish boys make face masks for frontline workers

The two kids, aged 14 and 11, have worked 15 hour days to design, trouble-shoot and then produce face masks for their local hospital staff.

Doesn’t this show all the best in human nature?

You can read about it in the Irish Times.

Mind you, they have their own 3D printer to do it on!


Health

Active brain in retirement, by Samir Ferdowski

No matter what age you are, picking up a hobby can help you relieve stress, become more patient, and overall improve your mental and physical wellbeing. For retirees and seniors specifically, years of being in the workforce and following a strict routine can lead to the loss of prioritising time for yourself. A hobby to look forward to allows for a sense of routine while adhering to your personal interests. From social hobbies to creative pastimes, the list below gives leisure examples for all types of people in their golden years that also won’t break the bank.

Social and Interpersonal Hobbies

Humans are social beings. Not only is it exciting to meet new people, but according to the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, an increased amount of social connectedness actually leads to improved mental health. Being part of a social group gives you an opportunity for necessary face-to-face human interaction, and can better your quality of life. Examples of groups and organisations that seniors can participate in are listed below. Even now during the COVID emergency, you can carry on many such activities online.

Red Hat Society This organisation is for women above the age of 50, with the pillars of “fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment, and fitness.” There are various events throughout the year, so you’ll always find yourself busy while creating bonds with the members. The yearly dues are $20.

Toastmasters For folks who are passionate about leadership and public speaking, consider joining the Toastmasters nonprofit organisation. The group has like-minded individuals coming together and strengthening their communication skills. For 6 months, the dues are $45. There are now online Toastmasters clubs.

AARP Foundation The organisation is a place where seniors come together to serve and help underprivileged older adults. It is a social group with a great underlying purpose and message, and the starting yearly dues are $16. They are adapting to the coronavirus emergency, with many programs still in place.

Creative and Expressive Pastimes

Having a creative outlet is a non-verbal way to express your thoughts, emotions, and feelings into a craft. Whether the focus is to use your hands or exercise your mind (or a combination of both), there is a definite benefit in incorporating an artistic pastime. From virtual online courses to activities that you can do right in your backyard, there are many opportunities to be expressive without hurting your wallet.

Gardening Stepping outside and staying active is great for your physical health. With gardening, you can utilise your creativity by arranging plants in a beautiful manner that happens to be beneficial for the environment as well. The upkeep of gardening allows it to be a daily activity that you can look forward to.

Learn Scrapbooking Virtually Scrapbooking is a way to reserve your memories into one place while going down memory lane. There are many free online courses to become a pro at the craft, like SkillShare or Scrapbook.com on YouTube.

Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t try out new things. It’s an exciting time in your life with free time to focus on your likes and dislikes, and possibly develop new passions. Whichever cognitive or physical stimulation you choose to incorporate into your daily schedule, there is no doubt that it will be rewarding. For more science-backed hobbies, make sure to check out this infographic.

Samir is a writer for many creative outlets like Wikibuy. He enjoys taking care of communities and working to fight climate change. When he’s not writing, Samir is outside exploring.


Look over a writer’s shoulder

How I do review swaps
The lay of lie

 

How I do review swaps

You may notice that often, I post a review of a book I approve of, and not too far distant in time, the author of that book reviews one of mine. Amazon frowns on such a practice, because there is the risk of falsely elevated ratings. However, I avoid this with a rule I share with the other author:

If I consider a book to be worth 4 or 5 stars, I will provide a public review. I’ll publish it in Bobbing Around and on all the web pages the other person specifies.

However, I don’t trample on another writer’s baby. If I don’t consider the book to be excellent, I will privately let the author know why, pointing out what in my opinion are its good points, and where it needs improvement.

Naturally, I expect the same in return.

With this rule, there is no need to butter each other up. (I don’t know if this is an exclusively Aussie saying, but it is pretty descriptive.)


The lay of lie

I have editing and reviewing requests pouring in at the moment (despite having to tell people that Amazon won’t let me post a review). Several of my new contacts join the hundreds of otherwise literate people who can’t use the verb “to lie” correctly. Admittedly, English being the wonderful challenge it is, the basics are basically confusing.

If this is one of your problems, look no further.

First, to tell an untruth:

  • Lie is present tense. “I look you in the eye, furious, and say. ‘No, I don’t blame you at all.’ This is a lie.”
  • Lied is past tense. “Yesterday, I lied to you, sorry.”
  • Lies is what a fibbing person does: “He doesn’t like the meal, but to avoid hurting her feelings, lies that he is not hungry.”
  • Lying is the gerund. (To avoid too many explanations in the one batch, I’ll let you look that up. “Lying is what people do when they want to fool you.” “Yesterday I was lying, but today I’ll tell you the truth.”

To keep things interesting, a lie is also a noun: “She tells a lie when claiming to have done her homework. In fact, she tells several lies every day.”

Then the other, entirely different meaning has to do with being in horizontal posture. This is the one that unravels most people.

  • Lie is present tense. “I lie on my face as I am typing this.” (By the way, this is a lie.)
  • Lay is the past tense. “I had a day off yesterday, and lay around all the time.”
  • Lain is the past participle. (Again, if that’s a mystery, look it up.) “Having lain in bed all day, he couldn’t sleep at night.”
  • Lying is the gerund here, too. “Lazily lying around won’t get the work done.”

Finally, we come to putting something somewhere: the transitive form of “lie.”

  • To lay is the verb. “The chicken lays an egg.” or “To lay out a garden bed is hard work.”
  • Laid is the past tense. “I laid my load down with a groan.”
  • Laying is the gerund. “Laying the book on the table, he stood.”

I check matters of grammar with Emeritus Professor Florence Weinberg, whose 10 books have won 11 awards. She suggested:

Please add to your grammar lesson the following: “To lie” NEVER takes an object, either direct or indirect. “To lay” ALWAYS takes an object. (Examples: “Now I lie down to sleep.” vs. “Now I lay ME down to sleep.” (As in the prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”) I think this prayer that all native speaker kids learn may be one root of the problem.

Clear as mud?


I approve of these announcements

People seeking asylum in Australia need your help right now
Save lives in Bangladesh
Cure for students’ sitting disease
Modern piano music can sound lovely

 

People seeking asylum in Australia need your help right now

The ability for people seeking asylum to survive in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously under threat right now. For those with no income or Government support, the ASRC is one of their only lifelines in this crisis, providing emergency food, shelter and access to medicine and medical care.

For thousands of vulnerable people and families, there is nowhere else to turn for help in this crisis.

We are their supermarket, their medical clinic, their pharmacy and their housing service. In short, we are their safety net.

Please donate to our Emergency Cash Appeal today to ensure the ASRC can continue to provide emergency aid to people seeking asylum and protect them from the worst economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Because we can’t do this work without your support.


Save lives in Bangladesh

Social isolation can be difficult enough in a wealthy country, but imagine living in Bangladesh.

Oxfam organisation Jago Nari is helping.

Please read the story, and support their work.


Cure for students’ sitting disease

Sitting is bad for you, and how you sit can make it worse. And sitting is one of a student’s afflictions. Even if you are not a student, chances are you sit more than is good for you, so you will benefit from reading this comprehensive, well presented essay.


Modern piano music can sound lovely

I dislike most modern classical music, because I like melody, harmony and rhythm instead of what sound to me like tortured musical instruments. My dear friend in Queensland, “Sound Eagle,” has written lovely sounds for the piano, and has had his compositions preformed at concerts.

You can read about this, and listen to a couple of samples, at his blog.


Reviews

From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Isabella Milan
Striking Back from Down under, reviewed by Fiona Lemmon
From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Dr. Laurie Zelinger
Praying for a miracle when it is hopeless, by Isabella Milan
Jack’s Path, by Jack Pilgers

 

From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Isabella Milan

In Dr. Bob’s latest book, “From Depression to Contentment,” he shares answers to the questions of why we have depression and what we can do to improve our outlook. He uses from his client sessions (identities changed) and a generous amount of book suggestions for readers to clarify the techniques and support theories. He also includes his work on himself, which is very “normalizing.” This is a treasure-trove of information that can be beneficial to many; not just those who are diagnosed as clinically depressed.

Dr. Bob’s work shows his extensive knowledge in the field, and one who truly cares about people, and sincerely wants clients to get better. He wants people to be delivered from maladaptive behavior and thoughts. This can happen if readers take advantage of the many homework opportunities he offers. In order to see change in our thoughts and behavior we must try a new approach. When there is failure, we must continue to be willing to try again. Dr. Bob recognizes this and encourages you, “Meds ease the symptoms while you work on the problem.”

This book is well-written, researched with support, and provides a step by step solution to end the cycle of depression. Learning how the mind reacts is fascinating. What I love about the book is the way techniques are explained plainly. Other books are suggested reading for clarification of theories. Client sessions are provided to help see tools in action. Then, readers are given homework that allows them to practice implementing these tools.

In the book, Dr. Bob makes clear the faulty self-talk and negative behaviors are the problem. He includes his battle with depression to show that he is personally familiar with this disease. Faulty thinking examples are throughout the book. I am worthless because xxx. No one likes me because xxx. As Dr. Bob says several times in his book, “Depression is not something you have but something you DO.” This belief gives HOPE and empowerment to those diagnosed. Dr. Bob shares his theories of why depression and suicide are so popular, and therapy techniques to counter negative thoughts and behaviors. He shares with the reader several psychological models used throughout the book. Belief systems that support and techniques that will help to achieve freeness. Whether it’s freeness from negative thoughts or freeness from maladaptive behavior this book gives guidelines, theories, and techniques that help you on your journey toward moving from depression to contentment.

Dr. Bob’s book takes the readers from First Aid tips to Buddhists beliefs of enlightenment and contentment. I highly recommend this book!

Isabella suffered stage 4 cancer, which should have killed her. My review of her book is below.


Striking Back from Down under, reviewed by Fiona Lemmon

“Striking Back from Down Under” is a collection of short stories of morality and revenge. In this eclectic mix of tales encompassing different countries and cultures, the genres include detective stories, the supernatural and science fiction. Dr Bob Rich challenges and entertains the reader with stories wherein vengeance ranges from the nuanced and subtle to overtly brutal and violent. However retribution is meted out, the manipulative, bullies, thugs, abusers, child slavers and murderers all receive their comeuppance. Reader, enjoy.

Fiona lives in England and has been retired for 10 years. She began her working life in the private sector. Then, having taught adults in colleges and community venues, she spent the last 11 years of her career in the charitable sector, supporting and empowering vulnerable adults. She has been committed to a compassionate and vegan lifestyle for 24 years, a vegetarian for 29 years prior to that.


From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Dr. Laurie Zelinger


Dr. Bob combines his knowledge of psychology, religion, and professional clinical experience to provide the reader with a down-to-earth explanation of emotional and psychiatric disorders. His candid revelation and description of his own personal emotional struggles humanizes him so that the reader almost feels they know him personally. Dr. Bob also provides literary and internet resources for further reading should one wish to learn more about a particular issue beyond the words of this book.

Dr. Laurie Zelinger is a distinguished board certified psychologist and credentialed play therapist with over 45 years experience working with children. She has held elected positions in state and national psychological organizations and is sought after by the media to respond to topics involving children. After retiring from the schools, Dr. Zelinger now devotes her time exclusively to the private practice that she her husband, and son have built and writing about children’s issues. Dr. Zelinger has written several books and contributed chapters and professional consultation to others.


Praying for a miracle when it is hopeless, by Isabella Milan


This is a passionate book, and shows the power of never giving up. Isabella’s story is almost like that of Job in the bible: the world threw everything at her, including stage 4 cancer, and yet she fought on. She survived the cancer, and built a new life for herself from the wreck of the old.

The lesson is not that copying her will guarantee that you also can survive what should be terminal cancer, but that you might — if only you fight on, regardless.

Her story reminds me of that of my friend, Petrea King. When she was 32, a doctor told her, “You won’t live to see next Christmas.” She is now in her 70s, and still vibrantly alive, and helping thousands of people with life-threatening illnesses. Her tool was life-changing, eye-opening meditation in the cave of St Francis of Assisi. Isabella’s is prayer. I know other survivors who are atheists, but used essentially the same tools without the religious flavour.

If you have metastased cancer, it may well kill you. Your one chance of survival is an apparent paradox: the full-on, determined struggle to beat it, shown by Isabella in this book, combined with complete acceptance of the situation, including its likely fatal outcome, which she also shows.

Even if you don’t suffer from cancer, there may be terrible problems in your life. You can gain inspiration from this book, and address your problems in this incredibly effective manner.


Jack’s Path, by Jack Pilgers


The author’s name is Jack. The protagonist’s name is Jack. The story is told in the first person, and plausibly fits into 21st century life. So, after I got into it, this was my initial assessment:

“One classical storyline is the Pilgrim’s Progress. Some calamity destroys heaven, so the protagonist goes on a quest to escape the intolerable. This quest proves to be transformational. Jack’s Path is such a story, only it is nonfiction: Jack’s account of his own life. The heaven is a life of deep mutual love with a delightful young woman, who plummets into severe depression because of a personal tragedy, and pushes Jack out of her life. His reaction is literally to go on a pilgrimage.”

The narrative alternates between two theatres: Jack’s progression from young librarian to drug addict to happy if struggling professional, and his pilgrimage. This is a risky device, but Jack carries it off: there are always multiple signposts to keep the reader oriented.

Only, soon, very odd events occur, and very odd characters enter. The first of them is Mara in one theatre, and Tzu in the other. Many people will know that Lao Tzu is the ancient Chinese sage thought to be the originator of Tao Te Ching. Mara is less known, but his claim to fame is the opposite: the daemon who did everything possible to stop Siddhartha Gautama from attaining Buddhahood.

So, now I had three possible interpretations of what this story is:

1. It is an honest, accurate autobiography, but Mr Pilgers has unusual abilities of being in contact with the arcane.

2. It is fantasy fiction, disguised as an autobiography.

3. It is an honest account of a set of delusions and hallucinations.

What’s the point of the pilgrimage? What’s the point of the story? The gaining of wisdom, of peace, of enlightenment.

All through the book, Jack educates you on many topics. Nothing like an intriguing story to sugar-coat knowledge. By the same token, that makes Jack’s Path of interest only those with an interest in history, philosophy, religion, ethics, and dozens of other topics. Fortunately, I am one of them and greatly enjoyed being educated, except that some of that knowledge was presented through extended lectures by one character or another, not a good device. If you can plough through the lectures, they will educate you.

My assessment:

Content 5 stars;

Entertainment value 3 stars (down because of the lectures);

Educational value 5 stars;

Unfortunately, I have a serious disagreement with Jack about the writing. It is thoroughly ungrammatical, especially in the first one-third of the book. I approached him about this. He told me it is deliberate, but I find this a most unfortunate choice. So, presentation is 2 stars. And, it seems to me, the people most likely to enjoy the philosophy, the wonderful flights of fancy, the originality, are precisely those who care for the rules of grammar.


Stories

A 50-word entry

I was sent an invitation to enter a contest in which you had to say something great in only 50 words. I made up an entry — but when trying to submit it, I found out I needed to pay a membership fee. That’s not within my budget, so I declined. All the same, YOU can read it here.


Poetry

Crying for the Child, by Veronica-Mae Soar

Humanity will survive any illness, but we will not survive global ecosystem collapse. That’s what Veronica-Mae’s poem is about:

            What will we say to the child at the gate ?
            We knew what to do but we left it too late.

            For decades came warnings of how things might be
            If we poisoned the land and the air and the sea.

            But very few listened or took a world view
            And many just argued and said “it’s not true”

            With data uncertain and room for debate
            Few would agree it might soon be too late

            Oh yes there were meetings and many words spoken,
            But what they produced was merely a token

            The goals were not binding, the targets too low,
            Despite urgent warnings “we’ll reap what we sow”

            Now the window is closing; the time we have left
            Is so close to midnight – our world is bereft.

            Just what will it take to get leaders to act,
            To all work together – a vast global pact.

            For all other problems will rapidly pale
            If our life support system should falter and fail

            It’s bold action that’s needed, so send out the call,
            Each country must help from the big to the small.



Posts during April

ENVIRONMENT

Methane levels at all-time high

GOOD NEWS

Hygiene and precautions are necessary, but reassuring news

The silver lining of the lockdown

POLITICS

The new country of California

PSYCHOLOGY

How well are you coping? Take this test at Queendom

Can’t find reason to live within myself, help?

DEEPER ISSUES

A grassroots manifesto, by Don Lubov

The Yin and Yang of COVID-19, by Paul Bedson

TECHNOLOGY

Recycled safety

HEALTH

Coronavirus may help you to save yourself from coffin nails

Inner peace when the whole world worries

LOOK OVER A WRITER’S SHOULDER

Dialogue basics

How easy or difficult do you find including humour in your writing?: April topic of Rhobin’s Rounds

REVIEWS

From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Jack Pilgers

Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin reviews From Depression to Contentment

STORIES

How to Serve Your Fellow Man: A humorous story to take you a little aback, by Don Lubov

FUN

The 2020 awards for the very worst people of coronavirus


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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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8 Responses to Bobbing Around Volume 19 Number 11

  1. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Well, Sound Eagle, my dear friend, you only know me via the internet. Let me assure you, I am a long way off from enlightenment. All we can do is the best we can do, and you and I are both doing that.
    🙂
    Bob

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  2. isabellamilanarthur says:

    Dr. Bob-
    I truly enjoyed reading this newsletter. I especially liked the poem by Veronica-Mae Soar. Thank you for including your review of my book “Praying for a Miracle when it’s Hopeless.” I knew this newsletter would be informative and give a friendly tone that encourages posts. Continue the great work! Kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Dr Bob Rich,

    Congratulations to you on publishing right on time “Bobbing Around Volume 19 Number 11”.

    Thank you very much for mentioning my musical composition “The Last Rag”, which can be enjoyed and studied in multiple formats available to readers and listeners as the audio playbacks, the video captures of score with music, and the gallery of score sheets.

    For those who wish to learn more about Ragtime music, they can visit the post entitled “🦅 SoundEagle in Art, Music and Ragtime 🎵🎹🎶” available at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/soundeagle-in-art-music-and-ragtime/

    Happy May to you and your family!

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