Bobbing Around Volume 21 Number 5

Dissatisfaction is an inside not an outside thing. As long as you take it with you, you can enjoy being miserable anywhere.
Pip Lipkin in Ascending Spiral


Addressing what is uncomfortable is necessary in order to
create change.
Holli Kenley


Bobbing Around

Volume Twenty-one, Number Five,
November, 2021

Bob Rich’s rave

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* From me to you
Where good books are reviewed
Keep carbon in the ground!
Talking with a marvellous lady
My newest card
LiFE Award turns 51
Sharing With Writers

 

  New content Posts during October
RESPONSES Elizabeth
John Hill
 
ENVIRONMENT   George Monbiot nails THE PROBLEM
Murdering forests increases fire risk
GOOD NEWS   Gina Reinhart, climate scientist
POLITICS   Bill McKibben has hope
INSPIRATION   Thank you, Prince William
Inspiring incarceration
PSYCHOLOGY 17 facts about depression
Passed on the baton
Healing light from space body scan
“Be a whale” guided imagery
Eagle guided imagery
Loving all guided imagery
Waterfall guided imagery
DEEPER ISSUES   Putting things in context: link to a short post that may make you think for a long time.
Want to understand why economics is science fiction?
TECHNOLOGY   Agrivolatics
WRITING That is not always deadwood (yes, “that”) Hallo! Ween?: an exercise in hopefully humorous writing.
ANNOUNCEMENTS Jennifer Bonn’s 101 Tips To Lighten Your Burden: Practical Advice for Life
Thrive to survive: 4 night event at Moora Moora in March, 2022
Win an electric Nissan Leaf and support women around the world
 
REVIEWS From Depression to Contentment reviewed by Erica Cirino
Through Other Eyes reviewed by Kenneth Langer
101 Tips To Lighten Your Burden: Practical Advice for Life by Jennifer Bonn
Thicker than Water by Erica Cirino
The Emergence of God by Kenneth Langer
Anikó: The stranger who loved me, reviewed by Holli Kenley
POETRY Mourning Coffee by Lauren Persons
Dark Magick by Laurie Corzett
 


From me to you

Where good books are reviewed
Keep carbon in the ground!
Talking with a marvellous lady
My newest card
LiFE Award turns 51
Sharing With Writers

 

Where good books are reviewed


That’s Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s “New Book Review” blog. You will find reviews there of books by authors new to you, enlarging your reading horizon.

This past month, Carolyn has had obligations beyond her usual frantic pace, because she has had to care for several people she cares for, because they have had to endure a surgery. All the same, she has squeezed in posting Holli Kenley’s review of Anikó: The stranger who loved me.

This is the hardest book I have ever written, and the one that has won the largest number of awards. It has had many 5 star reviews, but Holli’s assessment taught me things about it that are new to me.

So, it is worth reading. Um… what? The book or the review?

Um to you too. Both of course.

Where good books are reviewed


Keep carbon in the ground!

This is a letter I wrote to the politician supposedly representing me in State parliament:

Dear Cindy,

I am writing to you as one of your constituents, who is very concerned about the climate catastrophe that’s not in the future, but here right now. The eastern areas of Casey are among the places with highest risk of bushfire on Earth, so even if we don’t take a wider, worldwide view, our local self-interest is to do everything possible to keep carbon in the ground, and to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible.

Research commissioned by Environment Victoria shows that a host of simple, cheap measures will actually benefit the State economy, support a huge number of businesses and workers, and rapidly reduce the demand for gas.

Therefore, there is no reason to open up new gas fields, as the Victorian government is doing.

The Minister for Environment has given permission for Beach Energy to drill under a marine national park near the 12 Apostles. Next Wednesday, 13 October, Ellen Sandell will move a disallowance motion in parliament. I urge you to act in the best interests of all complex life on this planet, all humanity, the state of Victoria, and the people in our electorate by having your party support this motion.

With thanks,

Bob Rich

PS
When the vote came up in parliament, both this lady’s party, the illiberal Liberals, and the representatives of big business, Labor, voted against it. Follow the money…


Talking with a marvellous lady

The lady is Professor Claudia Monacelli, who lives in Rome, Italy, and also in New Jersey. Having met her, even if online, I reckon she must translocate between the two continents.

As well as being an author and a professor, she has fun with a regular podcast, Multiple Voices, and that’s where we had fun together. It was far more like a chat with an old friend than an interview.

You will also have fun listening.

It will go live on 8 November, and I will then circulate the link via a post. If you are a subscriber, you may have to wait until 1 December, but then time is an illusion.

Whenever you receive the link, I’ll be very grateful if you spread the knowledge around.

How did I manage to get a spot on Claudia’s show? It is thanks to PodMatch. As the name suggests, it matches podcasters with people who want to feature on them.


My newest card

When I am so busy I don’t know which task to turn to, the best thing is to have some fun instead.

That’s what I did this morning:


LiFE Award turns 51

Or at least, has its 51st recipient.

This is a story that happens in Canada after we have managed to destroy our world: Ancient Canada: a Mythological Tale by Clinton Festa.

I am always delighted to publicise books that build up environmental awareness.


Sharing With Writers

Sharing With Writers is another of Carolyn Howard=Johnson’s services. She has done me the honour of posting a little essay about writing.

It is about that annoying issue of how to write about male and female without either being sexist or awkward.

I do dislike “they” when used for one person. Read the essay to find out how else we can do it.


Responses

 

Elizabeth

Hi Bob! It’s really great to hear from you. Thanks for the update. Is it possible for me to watch the sessions? I’d love to see what you’re doing and what helped unblock to attachment to outcome. [Elizabeth is referring to my online 5-session course in positive psychology, Climate and COVID Anxiety, which unfortunately is only available within Australia.]

It’s funny you say that, because I am helping assist at a class called designing the life you love. The theme is to develop self awareness and tools to create more joy in your life and focus on what works for you personally. I told the professor about you and your blog and book, from depression to Contentment, because I think it would be great as an addition to her optional reading list. Today was all about the achievement trap and following your path.

My contribution was to take them on a walk through the forest which is conveniently located directly behind the building class is in. I read the legend of the A Boa A Qu before we started, then the poem, Off the trail, as a closing.

This week I am starting training for a mediation certification which should be intense and interesting. I continue to attend a support group and talk with my fellow traveler sponsor weekly which has helped me allot. My coping mechanism is to self isolate and I practice reaching out and being more social.

Thinking of you fondly and the grace you generously gifted me this last year. Thank you.
Elizabeth


John Hill

Thanks so much, Bob for your many wonderful editions of Bobbing Around and other communications. Also, thanks for bringing so much positivity to our rather grim times.
I send you my very best wishes from far north Queensland.

Take care of yourself and know that you are really appreciated by many — even if you don’t hear from us very often.

Cheers,

John Hill


Psychology

 

17 facts about depression

It is not often that I agree with statements about “mental illness,” which I prefer to call chronic suffering. However, every one of these 17 brief statements is accurate and helpful.

Well worth a read.


Passed on the baton

Some three years ago, a teenager contacted me. He had engaged in sexual play at about 12 years of age, and now considered himself to be doomed to hell, and the only thing holding him back from suicide was the prohibition of his religion. We have been in regular contact since. He has written me a long and wonderful email. Here are a few bits from it, with my responses. It is worth sharing, because all of us, regardless of age, gender, religion or nationality can benefit from it.

Initially, he hid his identity from me by using made-up gmail addresses, regularly deleting each and starting a new one. Last week, he asked for copies of the old ones, so he could re-read my replies.

I hate how I did that and felt like I needed to hide that when I really didn’t. Geez I don’t like looking back to that because of how I thought at the time and I don’t like in the slightest that feeling of hiding because I don’t like thinking I tried to hide or the thought of that.

No, No, NO! Just the opposite: celebrate how much you have grown in such a short time. You have increased your wisdom, inner strength, self-confidence, and also I am sure your empathy and compassion.

Like me, you can be a guide to others precisely because of the mistakes of your past.

You asked about college — I’m actually doing great (except for maths which I can never get the hang of). I currently am doing very well in a speech class I am taking and am very happy with my progress in the class. I think I may try and get a tutor for maths — I’m just not doing too hot in that class.

Maths is a language. It’s easier to learn if you think of it like that. If you can afford a tutor, that’s a great idea.

I am OK with public speaking, but recording a script is giving me trouble. I want to make audio versions of the 5 guided imagery scripts in my course, but just can’t get them good enough.

I have to thank you a ton!

My pleasure and honour. The more you give, the more you get. And the more you give, the more you grow.

Hopefully you’ll be happy to hear that I’ve gone back and read Lifting the Gloom and read “the blood red dragon” and subsequently used it on myself and that inner little boy. I also took the key message and made sure to stick it in my head! Your many stories and books that you’ve sent have all helped a lot lately and has helped me be able to stop that panic and in turn cause me to not have to message you a paragraph I’ve sent a million times before. I’m just glad to be in a good spot and again — I have to thank you a ton!

On the line of this comes me using your lessons and paying it forwards which you said is something I have to do and help others which I always try to. There is a young man at my workplace — a few years younger then me. He was going through this period that I saw a bit of myself in him.

A lot of anxiety, panic, sending messages without first thinking, losing control and letting the sadness or even depression take control and becoming upset at himself a lot. He was struggling with relationships and struggling with romantic feelings for a lot of girls and was becoming a bit concerning with how he felt towards many people and what he said and did with the same regard.

First, I and some others helped him get over the feeling of wanting to hurt himself or worse take his life. I then helped push him in the way of getting a therapist, which he did, and then I also always provided support and a spot for him to lean on. He’s changed so much and come so far already. I taught him a lot of what you’ve taught me and gave him so much advice that I’ve gotten from you as well. I told him I am proud of him and how he has come the way he has. He reached out to me and said that he looks at me like I’m a big brother to him and he appreciates what I tell him more then I’d know. He said that he is glad I help him with new experiences with all the knowledge I have and give him since I’ve been there in a similar way and have dealt with a lot of the same feelings of anxiety and the like.

The whole point of this is to tell you that I’ve used your lessons here. I’ve taught him what you’ve taught me and to show when I say I use your lessons almost daily that I mean it. Whether that be me using your lessons for myself or for others I do use them and they help oh so much. I’m glad that I could help this young man and I’d like to say you did too since your the one who has helped me so much be able to get here.

Wonderful. Could you have done that if you hadn’t suffered? Thank you for spreading it. Tell him to check out my books (he can buy them in e-format very cheaply, and that’ll benefit my publisher). And reviews are always welcome.

Ahmed, you now know how I feel when I have been able to be of benefit. The reward is enormous. People blinded by “what’s in it for me?” miss out on so much!

Well, that’s my life at its current state. Today I hit a bad spot of remembering some young man/kid mistakes and I started to slip but I remembered how you said in the past you were similar and now learn to let it slide and it goes away quite quickly. We’ll, instead of it lasting 3 days it only lasted about 1 hr. So hey, progress is made, thank Allah.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. I’m very happy to hear you’re doing well!

Allah bless you,
Your great friend and grandson,

Ahmed


Look over a writer’s shoulder

 

That is not always deadwood (yes, “that”)

Many editors and writers are genocidal toward this poor little word. Every instance is ruthlessly expunged, in a way that reminds me of a straight-laced censor’s attitude to obscenities.

When I see that happen, for anything, my question is, OK, then why does it exist?

“That” actually has five different roles to play, so it is an unusually useful little beastie.

Here they are:

Definite article

“That car is awfully fast!”

“I don’t like pink ice cream, but would rather have that one.”

So, this “that” is like a pointing finger.

Adverb

That’s to say, it qualifies a verb.

“He shovelled food into his mouth in a disgusting way. Eating like that is bad manners.”

Pronoun

“The man who injured me used that baseball bat.” It’s usually an implicit answer to “which,” as in “Which bat did he use?”

Literary

Or at least that’s what the search engine calls it, and I quote its example:

“Oh, that he could be restored to health!”

Conjunction

That’s the one attacked with genocidal pruning shears.

It is one way of joining a subordinate clause onto the main one. That’s a word string with a subject and a verb, but if you cut it off, it isn’t a grammatical sentence, so needs a joining word or phrase (con-junction, right?) to join it on. “So” here is a conjunction.

Often, the conjunction can be implicit. The meaning hasn’t changed and is perfectly clear if the conjunction is removed. In that case, it SHOULD be removed. A word that does no job has no business in a sentence (though try and cut the “that” in this one and see what you get).

In many cases, a subordinate clause led by “that” has an unambiguous meaning, but with the “that” gone, alternative meanings need to be considered and eliminated before we can understand the sentence.

I can illustrate each case with examples from Labels, one of the stories from Lifting the Gloom.

“Past Mom’s shoulder, she saw that Jake was crying, too.” Removing this one leaves the meaning intact.

“In a half-hour, Jake and Shelly strode along under sunlight that could have benefited from a few clouds to block it.” Cut it here, and the sentence makes no sense.

“Shelly, you know school rules are that bullying must be reported.” This is the final case. Snip the “that,” and it still only has one meaning, but during the split-second unconscious analysis when you determine this, you need to eliminate incorrect interpretations like “rules are bullying.” So, have a “that” there reduces reading difficulty.

And if you disagree with me, I cannot help that!


I approve of these announcements

 

Jennifer Bonn’s 101 Tips To Lighten Your Burden: Practical Advice for Life

We all have burdens of some kind, though we may carry them in different ways. The way we react to our challenges in life will determine whether we continue to struggle or whether we live life to the fullest.

When we are faced with roadblocks in life, we always have choices. We can let them paralyze us and not move forward, we can bust through them leaving havoc in our wake, or we can find a way around them continuing down our path.

101 Tips to Lighten Your Burden gives you quick, easy-to-read advice on how to handle many of life’s struggles. You can pick it up whenever you need a lift. It will be like the voice of a friend telling you what you can do to make the situation better.


Thrive to survive: 4 night event at Moora Moora in March, 2022

Moora Moora is my community: a vibrant group of activists motivated to make this planet a better place.

From 5pm Thurs 24 March to 5pm Mon 28 March, 2022, you can enjoy views to take your breath away (wonderful sunsets thanks to air pollution over Melbourne 80km to our west), a well-designed, powerful program and great food.

$700 including meals and accommodation.

Oh. It’s in Victoria, Australia.

Read all about it.


Win an electric Nissan Leaf and support women around the world

The benefitting organisation is the 1 Million Women Ltd. (ABN 86 122 248 122). The benefitting organisation is a not-for-profit organisation. 100% of the net proceeds go to 1 Million Women Ltd. 1 Million Women is a global movement of women and girls acting on climate change through the way they live. Raffle ticket sales will help fund 1 Million Women’s on going work, campaigns, research into behaviour change, events, the climate action app and will help to empower as many women and girls as possible to use their lifestyle actions, their votes and their influence to act on climate change.

The Raffle starts at 4 pm (AEST) on Wednesday, 13th October 2021. The Raffle closes at 11.59 pm (AEST) on Tuesday, 21st December 2021. No entries will be accepted after this time.

Given the organisers are in Australia, I suspect it won’t make much sense to buy a ticket if you live elsewhere. However, I am sure they accept donations.

Details here


Reviews

 

From Depression to Contentment reviewed by Erica Cirino

Society has long treated depression and other so-called “mental health disorders” or “mental illnesses” as taboo topics. Unfortunately the general lack of deep conversation about the causes and complexities of depression and other states of being in the world have led many people to incorrectly assume they understand why they are suffering, and this hinders their path to contentment. Including his own personal experience and expert insight, Dr. Rich offers fact-based, and actionable advice for coping with depression. The key, he shows us, is not wallowing in the suffering we cannot control, but instead engaging in habits that keep our minds and bodies healthy, and developing simple yet powerful psychological tools that can be used to mend our view of the world and our place in it—any time depression strikes. An essential read for anyone struggling to reach contentment.

—Erica Cirino, science writer, artist, and author of Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis


Through Other Eyes reviewed by Kenneth Langer

Through Other Eyes is a collection of twenty-nine short stories by Dr. Robert Rich. These stories are based on different characters seen through the keen and trained eye of a therapist.

With these stories we are treated glimpses of the fascinating lives of first century Norsemen, Antarctic researchers, hunter-gatherers, hunter aliens, as well as farmers, chess players, and a collection of other ordinary people trying to make sense of their lives and situations.

The author’s training as both therapist and writer gives us a unique perspective on both the characters and their motivations. Of particular note are the stories “Death on the Ice,” “Two Women Aged Fifty-Five,” and “Duck”.


101 Tips To Lighten Your Burden: Practical Advice for Life by Jennifer Bonn


I edited this book for the publisher, and can recommend it. Jen is a gifted teacher, and keen to teach you, too.

Imagine you’re a young person tortured by self-doubt, lost, without meaning and purpose. The lady next door is a teacher, and invites you in. Over a cup of tea or coffee, with a nice piece of her home baking, she starts guiding you to a good life.

That’s what this little book is like. Jennifer Bonn covers a range of important life issues, with a number of pithy pieces of advice for each. It is a little like those old-fashioned calendars with a leaf for each day with a wise saying on it, except that these sayings are organized in a useful fashion, and although not obvious, they are based on the findings of positive psychology.

Given my Ph.D. in psychology, and decades of therapeutic experience, and I can tell you, this book could have been written by an experienced psychologist. Ms. Bonn could change professions, and become a professor in the psychology department of any university.


Thicker than Water by Erica Cirino


Imagine writing that’s poetry in prose, which takes you on an interesting journey, but is at the same time a well-documented scientific treatise. When you have finished this book, you will know all about the history of plastic, how it is strangling the planet, why, and what to do about it.

“Thicker than Water” by Erica Cirino is all of the above. It is a call to arms regarding the way plastic is killing us. The early chapters are particularly lyrical, while the further she progresses into her topic, the more her justified outrage shines through. I share that outrage.
Erica systematically covers evidence that plastic is everywhere, its association to toxins, both used in plastic manufacture and adhering to its surface, its health effects on humans, other animals and plants, on negative long term effects on the soil that feeds us.

Chemicals taken in with plastic “are linked to cancers, reproductive problems, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, malnutrition, and other health issues—in both people and other animals” (p 100).

The final part of the book is devoted to solutions, including working toward a circular economy, and the kind of legislation that works.

If I had my way, everyone standing for public office would be required to read a set of books. “Thicker than Water” is on that list.


The Emergence of God by Kenneth Langer

This is not light reading you’ll pick up for an evening’s entertainment, but a serious examination of the nature of reality, based on science but going well beyond it. If you need an excellent grounding in high school physics, you’ll find it here, following Einstein’s dictum: “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

When the author approached me for a review, stating he was a theology student, I expected a justification for Christian dogma. Not being a Christian, I almost declined, but then checked out what he says about himself on his website, and read the first few pages, and realised, his thinking is far more like mine than what you will find in any sermon.

Enormous amounts of reading, thought and care have gone into this work, which could be set as a textbook for a philosophy course.

Central message:
1. All things are connected;
2. All things are sacred; and
3. Life has purpose and meaning.

I enjoyed a liberal sprinkling of dry humor, and the clear language.

If you feel the need to ponder on the deepest issues of existence, as I do, you must read this book.


Poetry

 

Mourning Coffee by Lauren Persons

Lauren wrote this poem a year after the death of her husband.

            Mourning came this evening,
            Barefoot and quiet.
            Unlike her first appearance
            When she defiantly refused a dress of tasteful black
            And strode in a white, too-tight suit,
            Her matching spiked heels digging into tile floors.

            Mourning came this evening
            In Halloween disguise,
            Not ghoulish or foreboding
            But in gauzy robes of memories
            And masks of painted smiles.

            Mourning came this evening,
            and is known to come at dawn,
            swishing in fuzzy slippers and
            a pale blue wraparound robe,
            pulled tightly at the waist.

            And each time when she leaves,
            I vow to be a better host.
            And perhaps with every visit,
            I will learn to be polite–
            Serving endless cups of coffee
            To every teaspoon, full of tears.


Dark Magick by Laurie Corzett

            In the still of the dark of the moon
            after the revelrie has passed on
            deep, deep into the frozen fields of dreamless sleep
            we, walking, silently, along the riverbed
            breathing in ancient ash of woodsmoke
            breathing out long-growing tears
            to weave ghostly tentacles
            along our path
            take each others’ hand up to our heart
            to pray, to kiss, to whisper
            thus casting an eternal spell.


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.)

I’d love you to follow my blog. That will automatically get you a copy of this newsletter, and other posts. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the newsletter. To do so, email me. Subject should be ‘subscribe Bobbing Around’ (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.

Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:

  • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
  • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
  • Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
  • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

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

About Dr Bob Rich

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