Buzzword Books - unusual, intriguing, intelligent, perceptive

Here, you'll find musings from our authors and staff. We don't promise daily updates. Just posts worth your time.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

ALTZHEIMERS? OR TOO MUCH VITAMIN D?

Red alert! Red alert! Is your old mum tearful? Repeating things? Can't find her keys or purse? Disoriented? Confused? Bewildered? And also being treated for osteo-perosis? Warning! Warning! Don’t put her into aged care. Read this incredible cautionary tale now from our resident medical-savvy author, Martin Jensen.

The love of my life is now 76. Twelve years ago, she went to a specialist for the treatment of osteoporosis. This physician - a woman as it happens - recommended a regimen that included 4,000 international units of vitamin D a day. So, she started taking two 1,000 mg capsules morning and night. 4,000 mgs bd – the maximum allowable dose.


Eventually, she noticed a change. She couldn't focus her mind properly. She misplaced things, became confused, seemed to be operating in a fog. Naturally, this distressed her. She tried to conceal it, dreading it. It seemed like the onset of old-timer's disease.


People around it noticed it, too. The neighbour. The handyman. Friends. And I, who see her frequently, noticed it most of all. At first, it was a slight concern. This strapping woman losing her marbles. Because, in all other respects she was fit. (Unlike yours truly, who has survived a stroke and is on rat poison to thin the blood.)


Slowly, her bewilderment got worse. She constantly forgot things I had just told her. She announced, as if it had just occurred to her, something she had told me four times before the same day. She became tearful, afraid she was losing her mind. For instance, she could no longer remember where the NRMA office was in the village though I reminded her several times and had to drive her there myself to prove it existed. In short, she had all the symptoms of advancing Alzheimer's. It made me sad and apprehensive. I was losing the woman I loved.


Then, a month ago, she happened to visit a website called everydayhealth.com. she continued on, as it happens, to /drugs/vitamin D.
It gave the following listing:


Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following side effects:
•    Kidney stones
•    Confusion or disorientation
•    Muscle weakness
•    Bone pain
•    Weight loss or poor appetite
•    Extreme thirst
•    Frequent urination
•    Nausea, vomiting or constipation
•    Fatigue


Bombshell! She had several of these symptoms. Principally fatigue. But the one that staggered her was 'confusion'.


She couldn't believe it! Vitamins were harmless enough, surely. Apart from Vitamin A and too much Selenium. 


CONFUSION?


She immediately stopped taking the capsules.


For a week, there was no change. Then, slowly, her fog lifted. The process took several weeks. Now, a month later, she is back to normal, knows precisely what she is doing, feels competent again, has regained her commendable objectivity, something I have not seen for years, and in all respects, has her marbles.


Comment: If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above symptoms, check it out with your GP. Don't assume it's just part of the aging process. 


Comment 2: Consider all the thousands of women over 70 on osteoporosis medication. They are precisely in the age group most vulnerable to Alzheimer's. But how many actually have it? Could it be simply an excess of Vitamin D?


Now, consider your old mum. Have you checked her Vitamin D intake lately? Before you consign her to a home for the bewildered, DO IT NOW!
 

 

Read Martin's book. Link here.

 

Saturday, 15 February 2020

CERAMIC GLAZED WUNDERLICH ROOF TILES: $1 EACH

THEY'RE BARELY USED AND BEAUTIFUL. AND IF YOU LIVE IN SYDNEY, THEY COULD BE YOURS.

We have never posted an ad on this site. This is a flagrant exception. 

One of our authors lives in Chatswood West and owns a house with a granny flat extension that was wrongly constructed with a roof slope so shallow that the tiles didn't shed water enough. This sufficed for some years due to heavy tar sarking underneath. But when that degraded, he bit the bullet, removed the tiles and replaced them with a corrugated metal roof.

Since then the tiles, neatly stacked, have been sitting for years at the back of his property. they are probably worth $2,50 each but he is willing to let them go cheap.

Particularly after the recent storms which have brought down trees on houses.

So if you need a few, or many, just ring him.

He has a wheelbarrow but the terms are strictly cash and you will need to transport them yourself.

Ring him on 9419 7966.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

SIDESWIPED? HOW TO GET THE OTHER GUY'S PAINT OFF YOUR CAR.

Martin Jensen, author of How to Get What You Want, provides the practical solution.

 

You are innocently parked in the carpark and discover that another car has brushed against yours. 

Or you scraped another car - or a column in the carpark itself. 

The result Streaks of paint of duco on your car. 

Your car is not too damaged but the foreign paint or duco seems to be there for good. How do you get it off without affecting your duco underneath?

Duco thinners?  

No. that will take off your duco as well.

The solution is simple and very effective. 

Metho!

Pour a generous amount of metholated spirits on a piece of cloth and start rubbing.

Lo! The offending duco comes off easily and your duco is not damaged at all. Soon you are back to your gleaming original duco and, as they say, "A galloping horse wouldn't notice."

I have used this method many times on my own and other cars. It's infallible.

Go and do thou likewise.


Lean more about How to Get What You Want here.

Monday, 7 October 2019

NEW OUTLANDISH TALES FROM SMITH

Award-winning story writer Clinton Smith already has three collections on Buzzword but most of them were written and published years ago. Now, he's returned to the genre with a vengeance.


Grim Fairy Tales for Adults is a blast. Stories extraordinary and bizarre written to  amuse and intrigue... Cautionary tales for the modern predicament? Some are timeless. But all are fun. And Smith's riant, mordant take on life will keep you entertained and intrigued.

In Tattoo, a young girl tattooed by Picasso becomes an art-collector's obsession.

In Smart Move, a Duke whose neighbours are a famous rock band, discovers the perfect way to silence them.

In Hannigan, a young man who falls in love with an elderly woman never suspects why they're so compatible.

In Deep Water, the inhabitants of a residential cruise ship become the only life left on the planet.

In Elephant, a magician that can make anything instantly disappear requires his new assistant to murder someone to ensure she doesn't give away his methods.

In Genie, a 10,000 year old sprite, weary of arranging sexual trysts and murders, tries to retire from the world. But is landed with one last assignment.

In Metal Fatigue, when metal everywhere begins to degrade, a con escapes from prison. Only to find himself stymied when he tries to recover his stash...

And so it goes... Twelve absorbing shock and awe tales. (32,000 words) Price just $1.99.


Click HERE for more info.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

BALLARAT DREAMING

From that redoubtable poet, David Farnsworth - two idylls on his home town...

Translucent Light III


Something about this winter is different.
Showers come in slate-coloured clouds;
unexpectedly. Snow seems as far away
as ever.
I'm sitting at the kitchen table looking
out the window, where even the smallest
bird is met with rejoicing. On the roof
a family of magpies warble.
I'm not booked into Ballarat Health
Services for at least a few weeks.
The staff give a collective sigh of relief.
The kitchen is littered with photos of
the dead. No wonder I have few friends.
Most of them are dead.
Keeping Up Appearances is important.
Today I was showered by the sixth different person in three weeks. How can they bear it?. The house has been cleaned by A. She helps me peg the washing on the line. I don't think it's in her job description.
I have cooked Corned Beef for lunch with onions and carrots. Can I get away with putting the greens in a saucepan with the potatoes and pumpkin?
I need the small saucepan to cook the
mustard sauce. Is it the sugar
I like? A tap drips - noisily. Who has
the time or energy to turn it off?
Tomorrow is Maryborough. It gets me
out of the kitchen. Plenty of friends
there. And the soup isn't half-bad
either.


Ballarat 01/08/19




Translucent Light IV


A spattering of rain, blown from the west attacks the lake. The water is dark grey.
In the restaurant, perched over the lake, a black-suited waitress mops up pools of water under my feet. 'It's not my doing!"
I mumble. She smiles. It's been a wet winter.
A score of water hens nibble the grass by the shore. On the nature strip over road an ungainly swan finds nourishment, its beak be-spattered with grass. I'd clean its beak, but it would bite me. To get here I hope it used the Pedestrian Crossing.
Maybe it flew? The sun has emerged
and the many sunrooms in the neighbouring Nursing Home remain empty. Nazareth House is up-market. I can only dream of being able to afford it. The rain returns.
The far side of the lake disappears
into cloud. Nearby elms display their
buds. The trees have bulked up.
Before this rain, the lake was full.
Now the excess water hurtles down-
hill, to the excitement of the
Yarrowee Creek.


Ballarat 17th August, 2019


For more Farnsworth, click this link.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

DOES WHAT YOU DO MATTER?

John Alexandra, author of The Wisdom of Being, doesn't say that what we do is meaningless, but brings an entirely different aspect to the question.

 

You are a respected chef. You work long hours at high intensity and suffer from the volatile temperament and high blood pressure this entails. 


Or you are a business factotum, fighting deadlines while competing with others who want your job. In this burn up and spit out environment, you're holding your own, but just.


Or you're an academic, cushioned against life, but in a tenure that's low-paid and uncertain. The others in your department are bitchy and panned your last publication. 


Does what you do matter?


To you, at least, it does.


But in a few years, you'll be gone. No one will care or know you existed and your life and work will be as inconsequential as dust. 


There's a far greater problem.


You don't exist now!


To come at this from a different angle—it doesn't matter what you do. It matters how you do it.


But even that doesn't convey it.


What matters—let us say—is if you are there in the midst of the process of doing it. (I can guarantee you're not.)


An example:
I am sawing wood with a handsaw. My head is full of thoughts, not about what I am doing but about the woman I'm going to see tonight. Then about the thing I'm making. Then what I have in the fridge to eat. And the emotions kick in, too. I'm bored with the sawing. My arm is getting tired... In fact, I'm in a constant mechanical daydream, doing anything but attending to the job. And even if I were more careful—tried to keep to the pencilled line, put less effort into the thrusting and let the weight of the saw do the work—became a better workman—it would still be automatic.


Because where am I in all this? 


I don't exist.


We live our lives like this. We never do one thing well—that is to say, wholeheartedly, with the whole of us—but live in our daydreams, resentments and regrets.


We never do anything. 


We are done.


We're simply a series of chaotic reactions. A process.


In other words, we never exist in our manifestations.


Even that is not stated clearly enough.


We need to live behind them.


Is there, somewhere, a small part of me that could do this?


If there were, and I could remember it, in the midst of all my activities, of everything, of every setback and so-called success, it would utterly transform me and my life. And even the lives of others.


But I can't.

The only possibility would be to find an anchor. Something in me that could anchor me.
Again, such a task is impossible. Because I'd forget it every moment. But if I'm serious enough to find a way out of the prison of myself—that won't deter me.


Ready to attempt the impossible? Ready to begin?


Baby steps first. Be aware of your posture. That is to say, be mindful of it. Don't think 'be aware of the posture'. That's not it. And don't try to alter the posture to something more acceptable. Don't change anything. That's not the exercise either.


Be aware of the position of the head sitting on the spine. The position of the arms and legs. Not externally aware of them but from inside in a wordless watching way. Are you trying it?
Now, whatever you do, stay with that. 


Of course, you'll forget every moment—which shows you exactly where you are. Unable to resist the outward distraction for more than seconds.


I'm asking you to be in two places at once. 


Put most of your attention on the posture and let the rest go on more or less automatically.
Try it with small repetitive tasks first—sweeping the floor or raking leaves. Not while driving or using machinery. You don't have enough attention yet for that.


Try that honestly, consistently, and you'll begin to understand the joy of not being caught by your life. The advantage of remaining behind everything you do and everything life can throw at you. 


If you get that far, you're already at the threshold of something. 


When you have thoroughly tried this task over weeks and understand the advantage of it, I suggest you read The Wisdom of Being


(And if you are still interested in this inquiry—if it desperately matters to you— you may then, and only then, write to me at submit@buzzwordbooks.com.)

 

 

Saturday, 29 June 2019

THE PLANET IS DYING. SO HOPE IS DEAD. OR IS IT?



Jack Cross's new novel, Level 28, is set in the year 3010. It's a remarkable book—the digital age equivalent of Orwell's 1984—but with far greater scientific, psychological and philosophical insight. Unlike most books in the dystopian genre, it ends on a note of great hope. Despite the desecration of the planet—something with us now—it suggests an optimistic outcome in an area almost never grasped or suspected. We interviewed the author at his home in Sydney.


Buzzword: Many people today despair of the death of spaceship earth. Clearly, the planet is in trouble—possibly dying. And in Level 28 you fast-forward us to the penultimate stage of that death. Several levels of eugenically streamed human slaves service a semi-immortal elite of just eighty people—all living deep underground to avoid the nuclear winter and radiation caused by successive wars. 

 Cross: Yes, it’s the analogy of the ant. Or, more accurately, of blind termites. A community adapted to service the queen. In this case, the queen is represented by eighty elders who, through medical advances, now live over 300 years. But the humanoids serving them are restricted to 30 years or less. The original title of the book was Twelve-score Years and Ten.

Buzzword: And these surviving humans and their slaves are helped by intelligent and semi-intelligent robots. As I read it, there are only a thousand 'organics' left, while the 'inorganics' number in the thousands. And the reason for this is that humans have worked out that they're essentially destructive. So the fewer of them, the better.

Cross: Yes. As one elder puts it, 'We can't be cured. Only culled.' After centuries of conflict which have desecrated the planet, they've finally understood that no adaptation can curb their atrocities—that diminishing themselves is the only way to limit the damage. There is nothing speculative in this book. It's simply a logical progression to the point where not only civilization but humanity ends.

Buzzword: And that end is brought about by the continuation of the war. In this case, by the advanced non-organics in the Russian bunker raiding the Free Alliance bunker for human technicians.

Cross: Yes. In the Russian camp, all humans have died out. Only their robots are left. And the robots realise that they need organic input or they'll inevitably degrade.

Buzzword: This is one of the most telling aspects of the book. Can we go into it a little?

Cross: The logic is simple. Humans are profoundly imperfect but have one advantage—limited entropy. Negative entropy it's sometimes called. By taking in food and air, we stall our dissolution for a time. But even self-replicating AI units cannot do this. They're machines and must eventually fail. Again, humans have created AI. But human intelligence is flawed. Therefore, the code running the robots is flawed. Therefore, the software of even self-replicating AI units will inevitably become corrupted. And they cannot fix this by themselves. They rely on the fickle fallible human for the patch. Without this, even their perfect logic is useless.

Buzzword: Then there's yet another factor in the mix. The Neuros. Could we explore that?

Cross: Some of the more fanatical elders have transitioned to what used to be called Cyborgs—a CNS or central nervous system supported by a mechanical body. So they're effectively brains only. Their sensory and emotional functions are gone. But, because they're no longer affected by lust or emotion, they consider themselves superior and insist that all the elders transition. This provokes a backlash because most of the elders are too sensible to allow themselves to be diminished by two thirds.

Buzzword: Which brings us closer to the theme of the book—the difference between knowledge and being.

Cross: Yes. The entire, methodically conceived scenario is just a proscenium to dramatize this aspect.

Buzzword: Which is introduced by the astonishing character of Erva, from the Culture Control Department. She doesn't appear till later in the book. But, to my mind, completely transforms it. She's tiny, self-deprecating, the Curator of Historical Archives. Yet she's formidable, autonomous—terrifying in her objectivity.

Cross: Yes, nothing disturbs her because she has transcended her ego to the extent that she remains objective despite outward events. And, as such, she has nothing to protect.

Buzzword: She introduces an entirely new aspect which goes beyond hope.

Cross: Conventional hope is always problematical because it's predicated on time and events. It's mostly a projection of the past combined with daydreams. In other words, it's an emotionalized thought. And thought, of course is in time.

Buzzword: Can you explain that more?

Cross: The present moment is faster than thought. To exist now, we need to be entirely here. The discursive thoughts, the brain's rigmarole must stop. Which induces an entirely new function of the mind—attention. This, in turn, can wake up the sensation of the body and can even attract a third aspect—which we could tentatively call objective feeling. The correct use of the mind is attention. Not thought. Just seeing what is. It's a profoundly complex and simple discipline that I can't 'learn' because progression, accumulation is in time. It requires an inner stop. All must cease, go into abeyance. NOW.

Buzzword: So hope is dead?

Cross: Conventional hope shuts us off. But objective hope is still possible. Because at that level of greater intensity, paradox becomes the template of truth. When my little precious 'me'—is abandoned, ceases to be—then real hope appears. Hope that's indomitable. Profound.

Buzzword: You've lost me.

Cross: It's like saying, when time vanishes there is only 'isness'. Being. When my little 'I' ceases to be, I at last have the freedom to become.

Buzzword: Well Erva obviously understands that. Because, at the end of the book, despite the imminent death of everyone, she is unconcerned. Can you explain?

Cross: There are two aspects. The outer one first. The planet, suns, galaxies, universe are a vast living system—alive. To use a more conventional image, Great Nature provides for everything, creation and dissolution. Nature also conducts experiments. Humanity is the latest. We aren't perfect, like all other animals but a transitional form that has been given limited free choice so that we have the potential to evolve. But if that evolution happens on too small a scale, or is not even attempted, the experiment will be discarded. In other words, everything is in balance and foreseen. So, objectively, there is nothing to concern ourselves about.

Buzzword: Has humanity failed?

Cross: Probably. Do we see a growth of ethics, perspective, insight? No. Just increasing violence, slavery, exploitation and greed. For a long time we've turned in circles. Now, everything is going down the scale.

Buzzword: So where is the hope?

Cross: There's also the inner aspect. Civilizations may crumble and humanity disappear, but the individual, if he lives now, in the moment, lives in a kind of solid time. A kind of greater reality that, in turn, calls forth great hope. In that place, we are indestructible. But the only way to get there is to throw everything down at the door. Or the door won't open. Once we are psychologically 'nothing'—we join the cosmos. We are free.

Buzzword: You've lost me again. But I can definitely feel the hope in the last chapter of the book. While I don't want to pre-empt the story, may I interpolate here, the final lines?

Cross: Okay.

Buzzword: Mark1, the young protagonist has just begun to learn a little of this new wisdom. But not enough to insulate himself from his coming death. Yet Erva treats his plight with humour—apparently from the greater hope you talk about.

They sat unspeaking for some time, bathed in energy. Finally, she said, 'Enough.'
      As they walked back into the hall he asked her, 'What about the others here?'
     'What about them?'
     'Why did you save them?'
     'Why not?'
     'But we'll all be dead soon.'
     'I know.'
     'So why?'
    'Why anything?'
     It was answer he'd got from the Preceptor, but said in a way that brought understanding. Nothing mattered to this woman. She did what was needed, that was all. Everything fed her. Nothing disturbed her. She played with life—deftly, impartially—secure in a more inclusive place.
     He felt on the fringe of learning how to live but knew, in a handful of hour-slots, he'd be dead.
     And realized he'd wasted his life.
     He sobbed.
     She looked through him and smiled. 'That's exactly what you need to feel. Well done.' 
Then she committed the terminal, irrevocable sin.
     She laughed.
     Her delightful trill came loudly, clearly, echoed through the high vault. 'At least now,' she called to everyone, 'we can laugh.'
     The beaten units looked up. Some smiled.
     She laughed again.
     It was infectious. Others joined in.
     From relief? From the enormity of it all? Because they at last had the freedom to do it?
     She poked him in the ribs. Then he was laughing, too.
     The combined laugh grew.
     'We're not beaten yet,' someone called.
     'We are,' she called back. 'And we're not.'
     'We'll go down fighting,' another cried.
     'Not with a whimper or bang. But a laugh.'
     Soon the great space was filled with energy. But not the energy of despair. The laugh became a roar that rolled like a wave around the hall.


It seems to indicate that nothing matters.

Cross: Nothing and everything does if I'm here now. If I can somehow find the door to Being, everything takes its place—goes back into perspective. I truly live then. When I am nothing in the right way, then nothing can touch me. He who has nothing has nothing to fear. Because he has nothing to lose. He's lost everything to gain everything. He's nowhere and everywhere in the same moment. He is. And is not. The paradox again. The mind can never understand it because the taste of Being requires pure attention—mindless awareness. The correct use of the mind is simple awareness. 'Awake, for ye know not the time nor the hour.'

Buzzword: So somewhere, there's great hope?

Cross: Of course. As Marcel Duchamp put it, 'There is no solution. Because there is no problem.'

Buzzword: So the prevailing universal angst about the desecration of the planet is pointless?

Cross: Not entirely. We need to cultivate our own gardens. But with a measure of objectivity. Never to get caught. The zealot is completely identified. He's become a process and the blind process is the problem. Belief in progress is a myth. Nothing can be achieved on that level. Creation begins with stopping everything. In other words, with passive awareness. Perhaps the greatest thing we can do is cease all our 'doing' and just be. To remain apart. As Lau Tzu said, 'The way to do is to be.' The primary step before expansion is withdrawal. Otherwise it all goes wrong.

Buzzword: A great deal to think about there.

Cross: (Laughs).

You can find more on Level 28 here on Buzzword.