Bobbing Around Volume 22 Number 1

The world needs all its flowers, and you are one!
Jon Kabat-Zinn


When Kane Tanaka, who died at 119 years of age, was asked what was her happiest moment, she said, “Now.”


If each person could be satisfied to fill his belly and clothe his back, to have a house against the weather and beauty about him, then all this strife and unhappiness would be unnecessary.
First Horse

Bobbing Around

Volume Twenty-two, Number One,
July, 2022

Bob Rich’s rave

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* From me to you
Mindful
Quicker down than up

 

  New content Posts during the past month
RESPONSES John Rosenman
Fiona Lemmon
Lauren Persons
 
ENVIRONMENT Live simply so you may simply live
Free returns: something else killing everything
 
POLITICS Solve two problems with one action  
INSPIRATION Giving away dirty wealth The right choice: an inspiring story of a woman’s wisdom
Every kid’s uncle is my mob
Happy birthday, Your Holiness
PSYCHOLOGY The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me
Flashback to childhood mistake
Synchronicity: relevant wisdom from Pragito
And more synchronicity from some “place” I’ve never heard of
How do I learn to love myself?
Detoxifying anger: a case study for If You Have Lost a Loved One
DEEPER ISSUES   Spirituality Manifesto: Don Lubov’s guest post for July
TECHNOLOGY Duction: in or out?  
HEALTH Antidepressants don’t anti depression  
WRITING   Currant Fairies: my June post for Rhobin’s Rounds.
Quoting thoughts
REVIEWS Inspector of the Cross, by John Rosenman
Unveiled, by Dawn James
 
POETRY Refuge, by Laurie Corzett  


From me to you

Mindful
Quicker down than up

 

Mindful


I have been practising mindfulness meditation for decades, teach it, and spread the word about its benefits in my books. It is one of the introductory chapters in From Depression to Contentment, and a different description that complements this chapter is part of my current project If You Have Lost a Loved One.

All the same, I have invested in a course on mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Why?

Jon is one of my heroes; a person I do my best to model on. Back in 1979, he established a clinic for dealing with terrible physical pain and many other serious problems through mindfulness. So, I could not resist.

To date, I have completed seven of the eight units in the course, and it’s been wonderful. I don’t think I learned anything new, but he has inspired me, shone a bright light on the practice, and improved my life as a result.

Thank you, Jon.


Quicker down than up

For the lovely people who ask about my health: it’s pretty good for an old fella who is about to turn 79.5. After my recent hernia op, the surgeon told me: for six weeks, NO EXERCISE EXCEPT FOR WALKING, you hear?

So, I walked myself an inch or so shorter, or so it felt, letterboxing in our election campaign at the time. Since then, it has been the long climb back toward the strength and fitness I used to have before the operation.

It’s going great. For example, before, I used to do pushups with my feet up on a bed to increase difficulty, and my best was 63. My latest achievement yesterday was to reach 50 ordinary ones, on the floor.

Lucky I have the power of Now to keep me contented.


Responses

 

John Rosenman

Hi, Bob,
I’m glad you’re recovering or have recovered from your hernia. I have a hernia, but so far I’m asymptomatic and the doctors are reluctant to operate because I’m old. So I remain physically active. I get up in the morning, take off my sleep apnea mask, have a gluten-free breakfast because I have Celiac Disease, then play tennis for a couple of hours. God willing, that pattern won’t change for a while.

I commented on two of the stories. All are good. I’m puzzled why the man sent the girl for the shifter since the battery worked. I assume it’s in case it didn’t.

Sometimes things even out and life provides a form of justice. This is the case in the story about a dog and a grandson. Maximize and share available resources. Adopt a new one.
“Covid Angel” is my favorite. “Only the flu, mate.” The last time I visited the dentist, my hygienist and I had a disagreement. I had heard repeatedly from news outlets that hospitals were overloaded with Covid patients and the vast majority of those patients were UNvaccinated. I told that to my hygienist and she disagreed. “Oh, no,” she said, “the trouble is with all the people who go to visit patients.” I consoled myself with the thought that she did excellent work on my teeth and had bought one of my books.

One fellow I played tennis with was skeptical about Covid. Once he asked, “Does anyone know anyone who’s had it?” Now, he personally knows somebody. It’s Yours Truly, and he’s been out of commission for weeks.

Best Wishes,
~ John

Amazon Author Page


Fiona Lemmon

Fiona in Britain and I in Australia often exchange emails. Thanks to Bobbing Around, we have become mutually supportive friends. You know, social connectedness?

She has let me know that WordPress liberally seasons my newsletter with ads. They can come at the start, at the end, and anywhere in between.

I did know about the end of a post, but not the other ones. But, synchronicity: WordPress have just advertised that for a small payment I can get rid of the ads without buying any of the other wonderful benefits I have no use for whatever. So, to save annoyance for my friends, I did so.


Lauren Persons

Hope this finds you well. I just wanted you to know that I sent another copy of “Depression to Contentment” to another friend. This has been a summer of our discontent, sadness, fear, helplessness for many. Our politics have been stretched to the limit and have left people, including myself, at a loss to figure out what one can do to help turn things around. So, I did what Alice Walker does: “writing is a very sturdy ladder out of the pit.” In writing this, I was able to unearth some hope. I haven’t gotten to contentment yet, but I’ll keep writing. Thanks for your book; it has helped. Here is my ladder.

    Lauren then attached the fruit of her writing: an incredibly powerful poem.

    My initial answer was:

      You are approximately wonderful, give or take a little. 🙂

      Yes, remember, creativity is one of the 7 magic bullets.

      At times of greatest despair, what helps me is knowing that this life is only a chapter in a very long book, and that when the students burn this school down, we can continue in another school somewhere else in the universe, studying Enlightenment 101.

    Then I read her poem, and rather than publishing it in Bobbing Around, I have recommended that she enter it in poetry contests so it can have more impact. So, sorry, you have to wait to read it until she has won a prize.


Environment

 

Live simply so you may simply live

I live by this message, and spread it around as much as I can. Here is a powerful article by Lloyd Alter who makes the same point in different words.

It is not THEM but us who are wrecking the world, and so have the power to change direction.

If enough of us reduced flying around for fun, then there would be less damage from the travel industry. Thanks to COVID, the cruise ship industry is faltering. Let’s keep it that way: stay out of the monstrosities. Eat locally grown stuff.

Switching to renewable sources of energy is still using stuff. Let’s do it, but in a way that reduces the use of ALL energy, all stuff. My wife and I have benefited from significant subsidies from our state government, and despite our low income, have invested in rooftop solar, and batteries, and a heat pump hot water system. However, even before this, our electricity consumption was about one-thirteenth of the average of our neighbourhood. Rather than heating our house to t-shirt comfort as many people do in winter, we prefer to get used to the ambient temperature, and the heater (reverse cycle heat pump of course) is only on a few hours a week at most. And we are comfortable.

Join us.


Free returns: something else killing everything

For purely financial reasons, a major online clothes mob are stopping free returns.

Sophie Benson explains why that is a HUGE environmental bonus. In the process, she educated me on a number of facts I found shocking. You will want to know about them too, and hopefully they’ll encourage you to change your shopping habits.


Politics

 

Solve two problems with one action

George Monbiot has publicised a long-standing and brilliant idea that deserves support from every decent person.

This is to cancel all debt poor countries owe to rich countries and multinationals, in exchange for cancelling the far worse, horrific debt we owe us.

Debt For Climate is the organisation he gets his facts from, but George’s words are far more eloquent.


Inspiration

 

Giving away dirty wealth

Please read this essay by Amelia Tait about a long list of inspiring people with two things in common: they inherited a great deal of wealth, and they have used it to benefit others.

Some have given away 100%, while others have developed projects that pay restitution to those harmed in the process of gaining the money by their ancestors.

Money often costs more than it is worth. So, it’s a fair trade to use it to do good.


Psychology

 

The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me

Hi Bob,

For months now, I’ve had these terrible multiple symptoms: can’t get to sleep, acid reflux, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, inability to concentrate at work and other places (has led to several near-misses while driving), muscle cramps, on and on. The worst is that I am unstable when standing. I haven’t had a fall yet but have often felt I might, with my body swaying all over the place.

At last, my doctor told me it’s stress-related, no physical cause, and put me on medication for that. Doesn’t seem right to me. It’s physical all right, or at least all the symptoms are. I reckon it’s an undiagnosed brain tumour or something.

I feel silly unloading on you, but my partner has read some of your books and has been pestering me to do so.

What do you reckon I should do?

Thanks,
Jack

    Dear Jack,

    First, reassurance. If you had a brain tumour causing so many symptoms, it would NOT be undiagnosed.

    All the problems you described, except for the fear of falling, are well-known symptoms of severe chronic anxiety. So, guess what, I agree with your medical team.

    Please read this very brief essay I wrote in 2017. It shows the power of the searchlight of attention.

    Many years ago, I had a client who was also terrified of falling, with no diagnosed organic reason for it. Standing is a complex dynamic activity. All of us sway slightly with minute adjustments. This man happened to notice such movements, and then the searchlight of attention made them grow.

    What helped him was to switch his attention from his body movements to his awareness of his body movements.

    Look up “ABC diary,” or better, grab a copy of my book From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide where I describe its uses.

    I got this man to keep an ABC diary of when the thought came, “Am I unstable again?” or an equivalent. As is the case with ABC diaries, that lowered the frequency, and we had a new positive feedback loop.

    I hope this will soon get you off the chemical crutch,

    Bob


Flashback to childhood mistake

I have an ex-client who has stayed on as a friend, although now we live in different countries. Something she heard on the news has triggered a painful memory from her teenage years, which involved an action she later became very ashamed of.

Here is my answer to her:

    Rita, it’s lovely to hear from you even if it’s because you need me to hold your hand. 🙂

    As it happens, I have just written this section in my coming book on grief. It’s about Margaret, who was a little careless, and Jim, who was a little negligent, and as a result their little toddler son died in a horrific way. This is far, far worse than anything you and I have experienced:

    Hate and forgiveness

    Hate is a great motivator, but it is poisonous. The Buddha said, “Anger is a hot coal you pick up to throw at someone, but it’s your hand that gets burned.” Perhaps paradoxically, hate can get in the way of processing grief. This is true both for hating someone who has done you harm, and self-hate.

    Margaret and Jim suffered both. Here is what happened during Margaret’s ninth individual session. Jim also achieved a similar set of insights at that time.

    I started by saying, “My dear, you’ve come a long way. What’s your biggest load left?”

    She looked down, thinking, and I gave her time. “If only… If only he wasn’t so quick and slapdash! If only I’d locked the screen door!”

    I nodded. “Yes, ‘If Only’ is a terrible load. How’ll we get rid of it?”

    She managed a half-smile. “You’re the expert!”

    “I’m the expert on what’s worked for me, and on the research evidence on what has worked for other people in your kind of situation. But you’re the expert on Margaret.”

    “If… if I could let it go, somehow. But I don’t think it’s possible.”

    Bingo. She got it by herself, so now she owned the solution. Much better than me telling her. “It worked for me. Oh, my problem was nothing as terrible as yours, but it did give me a heap of suffering until I forgave my abusive stepfather. But tell me a little more about your attitude to Jim.” Remember, this was after eight fruitful and sometimes stormy sessions.

    “At first, all I wanted was a time machine to get him out of my life, or banish him to Mars or something. Now… Yeah, I know he feels about himself the way I feel about myself. But forgive him? No way!”

    “Margaret, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, or excusing, or allowing lack of responsibility. It means disapproving of the action, but giving unconditional love—not romantic love, but the same kind of love you might have for a tree or a deer or a grandmother. And what you said is actually an excellent first step: compassion.”

    “Oh.” I saw the wheels turning. She had obviously never made the distinction between act and actor.

    “Before… before our tragedy, I loved him. He has his faults, hell, so do I, so does everybody, but, yeah, he is a great guy. If we could undo this, I’d still be in love with him. So, um, as long as I can hold him responsible for his, what’s the word? negligence, I forgive him as a person.”

    An invisible glow joined the two of us, and it wrapped around Jim, too, although he was not present. “Wonderful,” I said. “If you don’t watch it, you’ll fool me into thinking I am a good therapist.”

    We shared a giggle, then I went on. “The next step is far more difficult. What will it take for you to forgive yourself?” This is a debating trick, because it assumes that it’s possible.

    She fell for it, after another thoughtful silence. “If… if Jim forgave me in the same way. He can take my opinion, then I can take his.”

    So, our next session was the first with both of them present. I’d written out a contract:

      We, the undersigned, each forgive the other for the action that took all the light out of our lives, and accept each other’s forgiveness with gratitude.

      We will now cooperate in rebuilding our lives, even if separately. We promise to support each other in our recovery.

      ________________________ dated
      Margaret X

      ________________________ dated
      James X

      ________________________ witness
      Bob Rich

    They signed two copies, one to be kept by each.

    Forgiveness is the greatest healing force there is. I was terribly depressed during my childhood and youth, because of unrelenting abuse from my stepfather. Forgiving him was the first and largest step in my recovery in my 20s. In my 40s, the greatest step toward permanent healing and gaining maturity was forgiving myself for all the many ways I have hurt others. Part of my meditation routine is to say this beautiful Buddhist prayer, with specific events in mind:

    When you were much younger, you did what you did, good or bad, and in a very real sense, did the best you could do. Then you grew in maturity, and realised that some of your actions were wrong. This is something to celebrate: spiritual growth. (I need to remind myself of the same whenever I get self-bashing thoughts).

    It is both proper and necessary to apply the forgiveness prayer to ourselves.


Synchronicity: relevant wisdom from Pragito

Regular readers of Bobbing Around know of my admiration for Pragito Dove. Once a week, she circulates a brief statement, many of them being quotes from her book, Lunchtime Enlightenment: Expressive meditations for manifesting peace, prosperity and passion.

After I sent off my answer to “Rita” (who may well be Richard or Rebecca for all you know), this came in Pragito’s Weekly Wisdom:

    Accept your emotions

    Give yourself time to process your emotions.

    If you are upset about something, or with someone, give yourself time to recognize the emotions and acknowledge and allow them.

    When you bring honesty to an emotion, you release all judgments you have about it.

    Have compassion for yourself. If you’re sad, you’re sad. Accept it.

    It’s important not to stuff emotions, and also not to start yelling at someone who has hurt you either.

    Rather, wait… and then, when you feel more calm, express how you are feeling to a friend, family member, or, if possible, to the person who upset you.

    The Expressive Meditation techniques are a powerful way to express your emotions.


    And more synchronicity from some “place” I’ve never heard of

    I’ve never heard of Khaleej. I suspected it to be in India, but when I did a search, I found that the Khaleej Times “is a daily English language newspaper published in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Launched on 16 April 1978, Khaleej Times is the UAE’s longest-running English daily newspaper.”

    They have published a wonderful short essay on forgiveness by Delna Mistry Anand.

    Do yourself a favour and read it.


    Technology

     

    Duction: in or out?

    This easy-to-understand article by Gia Mora in Treehugger explains induction cooking.

    A few months ago, we joyfully disconnected our house from fossil methane. The last thing to go was the gas stove. (Actually, a stove made of gas would be a remarkable achievement!) We replaced it with a high-efficiency electric oven and an induction cooktop.

    Jolanda is still within the learning curve of how to use these new tools perfectly, and often berates the equipment for its complexity, but certainly from the environmental point of view, it is excellent.

    If you want to understand induction cooking, you can’t do better than to read what Gia has to say.


    Health

     

    Antidepressants don’t anti depression

    A very recent, exhaustive survey of the research literature has demolished the case for SSRIs.

    Already in 2000, it was clear that antidepressants have at the most mild benefits. The recommendation was for short-term use only, in cases of suicidality, and/or to enable a person to start benefiting from therapy.

    But the evidence since shows even this to be an overstatement. They. Don’t. Work.

    A warning, though. They have very nasty withdrawal effects. You need to wean yourself off them slowly, under medical supervision.

    If you are convinced they have benefited you, then be assured: this is the famous placebo effect, which is a dismissive title for the wonderful self-healing power of your mind. You can harness that in other ways.


    Reviews

     

    Inspector of the Cross, by John Rosenman

    In a recent post I wrote, “The requirement for entertaining fiction is that it stirs the emotions. In addition, for it to be formidable rather than forgettable, it needs to make you think, to stay with you, to challenge, to change you in some way.”

    On the surface, Inspector of the Cross is space opera: galactic empires battling to mutual destruction. Had it stayed there, it would not have held my interest. To me, all war is evil, and I get no joy out of sentient beings destroying each other.

    Yes, there is a superhero, who defeats everyone and everything, even death, but also, he, and various other characters ask questions and provide answers that will in turn get you to think about deep issues. I don’t agree with all the answers, for example some provided by the hidden overlords of the universe, but do find it enjoyable to argue with them, even if they are fictional characters in a book written by someone else.

    This is not to say this is some dour book of philosophy. Rather, it very much involves stirring your emotions. If you like irresistible guys and beautiful women, swashbuckling adventure and far-out science fiction, you will enjoy this story.


    Unveiled, by Dawn James

    One of my personal clichés is, “All sentient beings are apprentice Buddhas.” We are here to progress toward enlightenment. Many of the books I get sent for review are psychological or spiritual self-help, offering guidance on this journey. I haven’t read Dawn James’ first three books, but judging from their titles, they fall into this category.

    “Unveiled” doesn’t.

    It is a beautifully written autobiography. Or is it? Maybe it is brilliant fiction? You see, I am handicapped by a scientific education, and never believe anything without confirming evidence. This is not to doubt Dawn’s words, or to cast her in any negative light, but to start from the position of skepticism: could such an extraordinary story be true, and how can I know?

    So, looking for evidence, I explored Dawn’s website. She is explicitly a guide to people who want to grow spiritually, and judging from the offerings I found there, a very effective guide.
    You will be inspired by her story, and motivated to learn from her.

    I can warmly recommend this book for inspiring, enjoyable reading. It could change your life.


    Poetry

     

    Refuge, by Laurie Corzett

              Brutal dark and cold,
              fear and pain.
              Damage so great the only escape is vast, empty space.
              The home that sheltered and created me forever destroyed,
              I must find courage, a way, a place to survive — or blindly
              fall in chaos.
              Spinning in infinite space within this ship made of pain
              and desperation.

              In my old life there were days when I felt loss, when
              people I depended on departed, or places I had been part
              of were destroyed. I did not know the meaning of loss,
              of being endlessly lost.

              They loudly proclaimed their aim to save Earth from
              human stupidity, toddlerlike greed and rage,
              responsibility a loser’s game when we can demand
              our whims given honored status, even as trash and
              choking filth overwhelm.
              But that was not the world we believed, not then.
              More or less happily adapted, we had no thought
              of loss, or shame, or invasion.

              I did not act from greed, offered no harm, living quietly,
              loving my family and friends, enjoying entertainments,
              sharing griefs, sharing the work needed to keep going.
              Yes, arguments, anger, inconsiderations, but nothing
              rising to harm toward Man or Earth — just mostly petty
              complaints, discomforts, dissatisfactions, rough edges.
              Of course I am not humanity writ large, but as far as I
              have seen most of us just stumbled along trying to find
              our happiness, our peace.

              I sit here in this crowded yet desolate ship in my little
              quiet corner, telling myself stories of what I remember;
              attached to a world I have no more. These stories haunt
              me, ghostly swirls to keep me from thoughts I don’t want.
              We are adrift without plan.
              Food and fuel will dwindle. Cold space will prevail.
              Miniscule unnoticed space trash eternally drifting, cold
              and dark and dead.

              Yet, even without all we have known to protect us, for
              now we survive, held in the terror, the pain, the loss.
              This is our escape from certain death.
              What kind of escape goes nowhere?

              Many spoke, some passionately, of return to Earth,
              somehow overtaking the enemy, saving those of our
              fellows who were not destroyed, erased, from the live
              storage pens where they were kept as livestock to
              feed the invaders. But how, with what? We are
              outnumbered and weaponless.
              Did others escape? Are we humanity’s only hope
              for survival?
              Some thought we could organize hydroponic gardens
              with the seedbank on this starship in preparation
              appropriated for our emergency exit. Maybe we could
              find an eventual home on the ship’s starmaps.

              The stories that got us here. The stories we imagine
              to get us out.

              I notice an old acquaintance standing apart, as if an
              observer. Perhaps like me he is musing and listening
              abstractly to distract from fear. We tend to like to be
              creatures of habit, secure in familiarity. Now there is
              no familiar base to hang our habits on; our only promise
              is no return to a casual normality.

              The once rightful passengers mean for this interstellar
              voyage would too have had to face a future of
              strangeness, dangerous unknowns. But one assumes
              they would have prepared, have expectations of
              vastly different lives, even be excited in anticipation
              of their brave adventure.
              I barely breathe, so shaky, weighed by trauma, terror,
              unacceptable chaos, defeat.

              Some of our population are fortunately starship pilots,
              and other crew and technicians who were working to
              get the ship and themselves ready for its intended trip
              several months hence. Most of us are random survivors
              who knew about the ship’s location and were close
              enough to get aboard before the launch.
              Hundreds of traumatized human refugees set on
              survival, too tragically raw, tied to unfathomable
              grief, to even know what that might mean.

              We have not even the presence to come together in
              ritual in our common pain of loss so great.
              Cloying remembrances, what we have left of our
              identities, memories that fade, that change to suit
              our stumbling narratives, our explanations.
              Milling about like zombies with no purpose, no life.
              Some families did manage to escape together.
              Even they seem aimless, disconnected, caught in a
              nightmare devoid of hope or sense or continuity.

              Grasping for cracks of hope – if we escaped then
              others may have as well. Certainly starships exist
              in other locations with populations that could find
              that way out. Perhaps there were other means of
              escape. Maybe there are by now underground cells
              preparing for war to take back our planet, places
              where our deadliest weapons are kept. Trained
              military professionals or experienced rebel armies
              with guerrilla tactics could be gathering, fighting back.

              Yes, some of us can still dream. Of course, though,
              if such human forces exist, if others have escaped
              to their space, we have no way of knowing, or
              communicating. We are alone.

              No longer running madly, no immediate threat,
              having time to regain breath, find stillness, the true
              impact of reality descends. More than can be
              comprehended, consciousness in stasis to hide
              or absorb.
              It’s not like all those disaster shows on tv. We are
              not drawn into community by our common tragedy.
              We are made numb, disconnected, emotions so
              overwhelmed, we are unable to process more.

              Time, duration, are meaningless. Identities lose
              cohesion, substance.
              How do I know what others here think, feel, deny?
              Words seem to gasp from throats to ambient air,
              as shattered survivors grapple with sharp agony,
              dulled awareness, questions of most basic nature,
              who we are and why.
              All I want is an end to consciousness, to fall into
              some kind of coma so I can feel no more, not at all.
              How can survival be a friend, desirable? Do I owe
              those erased by alien terrorists my memories, selfish
              and limited as they remain? They are free from the pain
              of survival.
              It does occur to me that if the violations, the shocking
              violence of my experience is to gain the balm of
              meaning, I need to think beyond myself, find some
              means to connection, to some continuation of
              humanity. These are not clear, linear thoughts, of
              course. I am grasping for what I can, as if life itself
              makes me worthwhile, no matter what life entails.
              Yes, I can raise a metaphoric fist against my
              tormenters – a fist they will never see, that would
              not impress them.
              What I have seen, what I can’t stop seeing, feeling,
              knowing …
              I was able to escape the devastation, Earth. I can
              never escape the catastrophic agony, profound hollow,
              while consciousness remains.
              I become aware of myself standing here by the
              Observation screens, clinging to the constant of
              space.


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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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