All posts by Colin

I am a Traveller, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker and Trainer.

A Common Error Indie Authors Make






Firstly, one of the most common. This error is everywhere when people write.

  1. Lay Lady Lay.

A few words from Face-book the other day, “ … instead of laying on the lounge I laid on the beach.”

The word lay is a verb that requires an object. You have to lay something or someone. Like an egg.

It has NOTHING to do with being supine on a bed or lounge. Used that way, it is an error.

Now he/she may have been talking about sex. ‘Cause that works. The verb lay can sometimes have an object that is understood, ie not actually stated but there nevertheless.

Because lay can also mean ‘have sex with’, the understood object would be ‘my partner’, or some-such variation thereof.

The sentence quoted above, if it read, “...instead of laying my friend Bill/Betty on the lounge; I laid him/her on the beach” then it would not be an error. My friend Bill/Betty and him/her – being the object(s). Strange, maybe, but grammatically accurate.

To help avoid this error, try this.

Write these words — “lie, lay, lain” (to recline);
then below them — “lay, laid, laid” (to place or put down).

We call this the Michiko Sato rule after the Japanese lady who invented it. A great and easy way to avoid this error.

Check this list each time you need to use one of these words. You will be amazed how it helps you get the grammar correct.

  1. She jumped off of the train.”

The compound preposition off of is generally regarded as informal and is best avoided in formal speech and writing. So not really an error? Perhaps.

What is a preposition? Prepositions are usually used in front of nouns (things) or pro

nouns and they show the relationship between the noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.

The construction is “much inferior” to the form without the “of” according to Garner’s Modern American Usage (3d ed.).

There is nothing linguistically or grammatically wrong, it has been said with off of. It’s non-standard in some dialects (mainly American) and informal in most, so you should probably avoid it if you’re concerned about your writing seeming formal, or accurate from a grammar perspective. OK. Not an error, but to be avoided.

Cambridge Grammar notes that the combination “off” followed by an “of” phrase occurs only in American English.

The Oxford English Dictionary calls it “only colloq. (non-standard) and regional” in current use. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage says it’s “primarily a form used in speech”.

So what’s supposedly wrong with off of? The main problem seems to be that the of is unnecessary. In the case above, why not use just off or perhaps from the train, for example? The “of” adds NOTHING to the exchange.

'Off of' has become idiomatic in the USA, although it has “faded into the past” in Britain.

I still think it’s non-standard, an error, in fact, and doesn’t belong in the best written English.

Conversation and informal writing? Not sure. Perhaps!

It has been said, that one day “off of” will undoubtedly be accepted as standard American English, but not yet. I hope not ever. I hate it.

But then I’m not American.

  1. I took the knife off her

There are a couple of strings to this particular bow. Off is a preposition as defined above. It shows relationship between two things. Here the knife (noun) and her (pronoun – substituting for a female person).

As such the usage above is correct - on the surface.

However, off is usually considered an opposite (antonym) of on. Therefore if the knife is on (top of) the woman, off is the correct usage. But, as is probably the case, the knife is more likely in her hand or pocket or handbag. So “from” would be a better preposition to use. Even “away from”, but not “off”.

Then you have the ‘One Word One Meaning’ argument. If off means not on, it can’t mean anything else? But ...

This would seem to prevent anything from being ….. off topic, off in the distance, off like a shot, on and off, straight off, a little bit off etc. Quiet. I'm thinking!!

Once again (see above) this might be considered colloquial/regional American English.

It seems to me that where the preposition FROM could be used, then it should be. This will avoid all of the above discussion.

None of my sources suggest, on the other hand, that from and off are synonyms. (having the same meaning). Therefore if we are taking something away from a person, animal, object or place; then the preposition FROM should be used in all instances, unless one of the ‘things’ is actually on top of the other, and off is then appropriate.

I’m not even sure American English is a thing. I guess I hope not.

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The Pareto Principle And Decision Making

The Pareto Principle And Decision Making

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle, and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noted the 80/20 connection while at University in 1896, and published it in his first paper.

Essentially, Pareto showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy at that time, was owned by 20% of the population. He developed the principle by observing that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

Mathematically, the 80/20 rule is roughly diagrammed by a Pareto distribution, (see below) and many natural phenomena have been shown empirically to exhibit such a distribution.


  • The sizes of human settlements (few cities, many hamlets/villages)
  • The values of oil reserves in oil fields (a few large fields, many small fields)
  • Sizes of sand particles
  • Sizes of meteorites
  • Numbers of species per genus
  • Areas burnt in forest fires
  • Severity of large losses for insurance businesses such as general liability, commercial, auto, and workers compensation.
  • In hydrology the Pareto distribution is applied to extreme events such as annually maximum one-day rainfalls and river discharges.

Rule of Thumb

While it is common to referred to as the "80/20" rule, under the assumption that, in all situations, 20% of causes determine 80% of problems, this ratio is merely a convenient rule of thumb and is not, nor should it be, considered an immutable law of nature.

More generally, the Pareto Principle is the observation (not law) that most things in life are not distributed evenly. It can mean all of the following things:

Not distributed evenly

20% of the input creates 80% of the result
20% of the workers produce 80% of the result
20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue and often 80% problems as well
20% of software bugs cause 80% of the crashes
20% of software features cause 80% of the usage

And on and on…

Steps to identify important issues using 80/20 rule

  • Generate a table listing the issues and their frequency of occurrence as a percentage
  • Arrange the rows in decreasing order of importance of the issues (i.e. the most important one first)
  • Add a cumulative percentage column to the table, then plot the information
  • Plot (#1) a bar graph with items on x- and percent frequency on y-axis
  • Plot (#2) a curve with items on x- and cumulative percentage on y-axis
  • Next draw a horizontal dotted line at 80% from the y-axis to intersect the curve.
  • Then draw a vertical dotted line from the point of intersection to the x-axis. The vertical dotted line separates the important issues (on the left) and trivial ones (on the right)

Pareto distributions are often used in the cases when many different small independent factors contribute to a result.

Pareto Chart Example (Customer Complaints)

First find out how many customer complaints were received in each of, say, five categories.

Then take the largest category, let’s say in this case it is “documents”; break it down into, perhaps, six categories of document-related complaints, and show cumulative values.

If all complaints cause equal distress to the customer, working on eliminating document-related complaints would have the most impact, and of those, working on quality certificates should be most fruitful.

Pareto Example
Pareto Example - Document Issues

Draw a horizontal dotted line at 80% from the y-axis to intersect the curve.

Then draw a vertical dotted line from the point of intersection to the x-axis. The vertical dotted line separates the important causes (on the left) and trivial causes (on the right)

That means, in this example, quality certificate error, quality certificate missing and invoice error, (in that order) are what need to be worked on – the rest can be safely ignored.

Simple and effective.

Yaro Starak says

It really doesn’t matter what numbers you apply, the important thing to understand is that in your life there are certain activities you do (your 20 percent) that account for the majority (your 80 percent) of your happiness and outputs.

Life Isn’t Fair

What does it mean when we said above that “things aren’t distributed evenly”? The key point is that each unit of work (or time) doesn’t contribute the same amount.

In a perfect world, every employee would contribute the same amount, (red line in the graph below) every issue would be equally important, every feature would be equally loved by users. Planning would be so easy.

Pareto Distribution
Pareto Distribution

But that isn’t always the case:

The 80/20 rule observes that most things have an unequal distribution. Out of 5 things, perhaps 1 will be “cool”. That cool thing/idea/person will result in the majority of the impact of the group (the green line). We’d like life to be like the red line, where every piece contributes equally, but that doesn’t always happen.

Of course, this ratio can change. It could be 80/20, 90/10, or 90/20 (the numbers don’t have to add to 100!).

The key point is that most things are not 1/1, where each unit of “input” (effort, time, labour) contributes exactly the same amount of output.


The idea is to realise that you can focus your effort on the 20% that makes a difference, instead of the 80% that doesn’t add much.

In economics terms, there is diminishing marginal benefit. This is related to the law of diminishing returns: it means each additional hour of effort, each extra worker, is adding less “oomph” to the final result. By the end, you are spending lots of time on the minor details. Huge benefit right there.

Decision Making and The Pareto Principle

Think about 'diminishing marginal benefit'. Obviously building a bridge requires 100% of the construction to be completed, or else we don’t have a safe, working river crossing, but decisions, about almost anything in life, can be made using the 80/20 rule.

How so?

Look at the second graph, above, and come at it from the opposite direction, ie the right hand side moving left, you notice that at the 80 percentile of effort (bottom X axis) you will have achieved approx 96% of the result. (Take a line up to the green curve). A result in decision-making terms might be the level of certainty that the decision is correct.

Consider that effort is ‘researching if a decision is right or wrong’, then after we have 80% of the info - we are good to go. The last 20% of effort will only give you 4% more certainty. Why waste that effort?

A perfect reason for procrastinating just bit the dust. We DON’T NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING before making a decision. So stop messing about, make that decision and get on with it.

The Pareto graph suggests, in fact, that at 50% of the effort/research/info you are likely to have a 90% result/certainty. Hmmm.

Stop. That’s Dangerous.

Yes, I can hear you. How do you know if you have reached 80%? Well you don’t. Not really. Just as you don’t know if you reach 100% of the required info.

Truth is – you never will. It’s all relative. A moving feast. We wrack our brains, ask experts, ask customers, do tests and experiments, contemplate our navel, but once the info gathering process appears to be slowing down, that is probably the 80% mark.

It’s a guess. You can keep guessing, or get on with doing stuff.

Decision Making Made Simple

  1. Get as much info as is reasonably easily obtained (remember, you don’t need to know everything – 80% is more than enough)
  2. Then ask yourself 2 questions about your impending decision.
    1. Knowing all that, what’s the worst that could happen? The very worst case scenario?
    2. Can I live with that? Yes/No.
  3. If yes. Just do it. Use the 5 second rule. But that’s another topic altogether.
  4. But, if no. You need to go right back to the beginning. Perhaps even think about if this is something you need to do, or decide. Or whatever.

Consequently, it really is that simple. Decision making on steroids. The 80/20 rule rocks.

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So Much To Do

So much to do.

I find that making lists is a fine old way to procrastinate. The dad joke of the century is: “I will put off procrastinating until tomorrow.”

But it’s true. If we can find a way, anyway, to allow some event, or task, to control us to the extent that we put it off for another day, we think we have won! Lists work, don’t they? Every time. We can even convince ourselves that it’s OK. It’s work. We are moving towards our goals, are we not? That’s a win? Surely?

NO it’s not!!! We have LOST. Bigtime.

The way forward

Today I found a way through this maze.

It all starts with Mark Forster. He has created the mother of all hi-tech processes which ANY of us can use. He calls it The Autofocus System.

You need:

A bound notebook (25 – 35 lines) more than 35 lines on a page seems to circumvent the snapshot - 1 page at a time - mental gymnastics that to help the system work.

And a pen or pencil. That’s it. That’s as hi-tech as it gets. Yep. I lied.

It’s a rolling list. And one of the many beautiful things about this, is that you use it as a means to follow the ‘a little and often’ approach.

Kind of related to the ideas of Jeff Olsen et alia in the magnificent book ‘The Slight Edge.’ Do look it up. You will be very surprised how it helps with life. It is subtitled (for good reasons) ‘Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness’. No - don’t judge. Just give it a look.

I will not go into much detail about the autofocus system here, because Mr Forster has a fabulous description of what it is and how to use it on his blog.

However, I will say this.

The Process
  • Make a list – put anything and everything on it. Emails, reading, even exercise. Like brainstorming in a workshop. No editing. Just dump it all down. One item per line.
  • Read it through once, quickly. And I mean quickly. (Just the one current page.) Mental imprinting. No thinking at this point. That’s cheating.
  • Read through the whole list once again, slowly, until something jumps out at you.
  • DO that one thing. Here’s the kicker – only as long as you want to. Minutes, hours, days. No guilt.
  • Cross it off. If you didn’t finish all of it, write a new entry at the end of the list, (usually the next page), altered to identify what still needs to be done.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • If you have gone over the page slowly again or returned to a previous page and nothing jumps, on the first pass then dismiss all unfinished items on that page. (highlight them in yellow – do NOT re-enter them).
  • Keep cycling.
  • That’s it.

A very quick and easy system.

Find more detailed notes AND look for this genius on “Get Everything Done” (

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Oh Dear. Such a Long, Long time.

I'll be back soon.

Been in hospital for a long time from late September until Dec 1st.  3 different hospitals. Recuperating in Melbourne with occasional visit to my 'tree change' country abode. Not ready to live there full time as yet, but soon. Still some issues to manage.  but we are on the mend. Picking up on writing as well. So more articles to be appearing here soon as well. Have lots of ideas and just waiting to get back up to speed. Can't wait. 500 words a day will be on the cards VERY SOON.


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What’s it all about? We are in Control of our lives!

I had my leg over the edge. 22nd floor. St Kilda Rd.

Up and Over

I was going to do it this time. Jump off the building. After the bankruptcy, the retrenchment and the Government taking almost all my payout, there was nothing left. It was hopeless. I had even lost the $1M insurance policy I had been contributing to for the last 48 years to leave my children a nest egg. I started this 13 years before they were even born. My very existence was a washout. 64 years of living - down the tubes. Or down to St Kilda Rd, at least. My life sucked. Big time. And it was not my fault!

The beginning of the Comeback

Not sure why. But I climbed down from that railing.

I went to the Doctor, and the Doctor said – "Take these drugs, See a Healer of the Head.” (You can sing this one to yourself if you like! And dance a bit too. It works!)

And I did.

AND Then: someone showed me a video of this man. (No Arms No Legs - No Worries

Nicholas Vujicic (Voya chic) An Australian Preacher and Motivational speaker born without any limbs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. Who would have guessed?

But he eventually came to terms with his disability.

Did You Get That? “He eventually came to terms with his disability.” How inspiring is that?

What was thinking. My issues were NOTHING in comparison to that. Yeah, of course it's real allright. To me. But Gee wizz. Where do you go from here?

If he could do that – handle that, who could deal with the relatively insignificant issues that I was facing?


Inspiration To Go On

Since then. I have walked on hot coals. Twice.  Really.

And as if I needed further inspiration, these 9 people kept cropping up in my reading.

Nine People

Albert Ellis, Anthony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, Dr Phil, Dr Wayne Dyer, Jim Rohn, Shakespeare, Susan Jeffers and Zig Ziglar.

What do they all have in common I hear you ask? Let me explain.

They all believed in one simple truth. One that I had failed to understand Up until THEN!!

Let's read their own words so we can understand what this truth might be shall we?

Albert Ellis: In 1955 he developed REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) the main principle of which was – A person is rarely affected emotionally by outside things, but rather by 'perceptions, attitudes or internalised sentences' about outside things and events.

Anthony Robbins: Whom the NY times calls 'The High Priest of Human Potential' says – There are two worlds. The EXTERNAL world which we can INFLUENCE, (We cannot control the external world) and the INTERNAL world which we do control. Therefore our ultimate significance in life comes not from something external but something internal.

Dale Carnegie: Happiness doesn't depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.

Dr Phil: Unlike the external factors that we have no control over, our internal factors are made up of our own reactions to the events in our lives.

Dr. Wayne Dyer: (Oh this one is really good!!!) Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

Are you getting where this is going? I certainly was.

Jim Rohn: You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind. But you can change the set of your sail. The same wind blows on us all, whether we win or lose depends on the set of our sail.

Shakespeare: (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II) … there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Susan Jeffers: (in her best-selling book  'Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway') says  - Don't be deceived into thinking that by changing the external, the internal will be changed. It works the other way around.

And Finally

Zig Ziglar: If you can dream it, you can achieve it.

What's it all about? What does it all Mean?

Seems to me that they are all saying exactly the same thing. And it is all about the simple truth I alluded to earlier. And that truth is:

We Are The Boss of Us”.


We Are The Boss of Us”.

Nick and Blame.

Nick Vujicic could have blamed his extrinsic situation. He had more reason than most. But he didn't. He dreamed of a bigger and better future for him and his family. Yes. That's right. He has a wife and children.

Serenity Prayer:

I am reminded here of the Serenity Prayer. I guess you have all heard of it? (Not from Alcoholics Anonymous - I hope).

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The Courage to change the things I can, and The Wisdom to know the difference.”

The Victim and the Blame (Victim) Game - Work, Weather, Relationships etc:

Speaking of that, How many times have you heard people play the victim game?

Complaining that they can't be happy because of their

  1. Terrible job,

  2. horrible boss,

  3. bills,

  4. childhood experiences,

  5. Their Parents

  6. the bad weather,

  7. Unhappy marriage or a strained relationship?

There's always someone or something else in charge of their lives. Someone else who is to blame. "It's not my fault." is their constant refrain.

"What is it with this stupid phone? Or that driver is an idiot? "

I think you know what I mean.

How many times have you said this kind of thing yourself? I know I used to. A lot. Still do - far too much.

But - I am getting better.  I am aware of it now - and that is the first step.


Here I am. It's Approximately 2 years later and I am still here. Getting better every day.

1. I'm taking back control.

2. I'm not sitting around lamenting how bad my life is.

3. I'm not accepting the idea that things just happen to me.

That's being a victim.

I remember Susan Jeffers - “Don't be deceived  .... she said. 

Don't be deceived into thinking that by changing the external, the internal will be changed. It works the other way around.

This is clever stuff!!

I bought an AWESOME plaque while I was in Bali recently.

Live Like you will Die Tomorrow.

Dream like you will live forever!!

I plan to live my life from now on based on these simple thoughts, and I am going to think of Nick Vujicic, and just get on with it.

CAUSE - Being in Control

I will be the cause of what happens to me, not the victim of the circumstances in which I find myself.

I will be the CAUSE of what happens to me, not the VICTIM of the circumstances in which I find myself.

I am doing it!!!!!  And IF I CAN DO IT!!!  Who else do you think can do it?


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Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift is used to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events. A radical change in underlying beliefs or theory. A changed attitude, or way of doing things.

Dig Deep

What this means is that if the way we are doing things is not working, we must stop just piddling about at the edges making small, usually ineffectual alterations, and dig in and turn the whole thinking process upside down; we need to look at a problem or issue from a completely different angle.


What has changed in recent times that proves this rule?

The Sharing Economy

AirBnB is now one of the biggest accommodation providers in the world. It owns no hotels or any other properties and is entirely accessible on line. This is customer to customer business. A whole new way of finding and securing a place to stay.

Uber is now one of the biggest taxi providers in the world. It owns no cars or any other vehicles and is entirely accessed on line via an a computer browser or an 'app' on your smart phone or tablet.

Netflix and other movie sharing and streaming services have completely swamped Blockbuster and other bricks and mortar video stores. They no longer exist.

Travel. There is now a disruptive travel company that owns no aeroplanes, hotels, rental cars or offices in the high street. But it provides 5* travel experiences for members at 2* prices. And this is growing at an exponential rate overseas and now in Australia.

Even Skype deserves a mention. Paradigm shifts.


People are not reading traditional books as much now as 10 years ago. Cheaper publishing techniques, cheaper purchase prices, cafés and other community/social areas in bookshops and libraries, more book tours and launches, reading and writing festivals were tried, but still the reading public stopped buying paper based books.

Enter eBooks. Electronic books. A paradigm shift. Along came Kindle and other electronic reading devices; and programs for reading eBooks on your smart phone and tablet.

Upside Down

That's turning the issue upside down. Using a different way of doing things.

What might this paradigm shift business be able to offer a person living in the here and now in Australia? Someone not in the industrial revolution, or involved in the advent of printing, or the creating of The Internet? How does that work?

Change and The Paradigm

Author Earnie Larson is credited with the droll maxim "Nothing changes if nothing changes".

Let's look at this.

Australia is an island state far away from the 2 hubs of human life. USA and Europe.

As I write, the news is breaking that the Electrolux factory here in Orange in Central Western New South Wales, Australia is closing down with the associated loss of jobs, self esteem, and regular wages. Of course there will also be the domino effect rippling through the NSW economy as ancillary production diminishes and finally stops. Not to mention the probable decrease in the spending of the more than 500 people affected by this change.

Is this just the greed of an overseas parent company or is there something else at play here?

We, in Australia, are facing constant rises in prices for everything. Wages, Infrastructure, repairs & maintenance, equipment, raw materials to name a few.

Our manufacturing sector then has shipping and transport to take into account. Even if product is sold here in the big brown land; most towns and cities are many hours apart. Even by air. And this is expensive. Export is almost completely prohibitive.


If we look at a version of the economic equilibrium curve, (not supply V's Demand, but COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) V's Sales) we note, as mentioned earlier, that costs are rising sharply. On the other hand income derived from sales is falling due to among other things cheaper imports, online purchasing and changes in consumer demand. The crossover (equilibrium point shall we say) is racing towards zero faster than any time in our history.

Ostriches we are not. This can't continue. It is not greed to want to stay in business. If a limb is dying or dead we need to cut it off. Has to happen.

Supply V's Demand

Perhaps we can look, now, at the traditional Supply V's Demand curve but note that while demand is quite possibly still high for most manufactured goods although in a different model perhaps - our ability, in Australia, to produce / supply these goods at the required level and the necessary price is becoming less and less. So the equilibrium is unstable. Unpredictable. Other than the realisation that it is getting closer to zero here too.

Life Has Moved On

So, of course we complain. We tweak the edges of the problem, demand that Governments help, or that Parent Companies lose their investors' money or any number of completely ineffectual and traditional remedies. Nothing works. Funny that. The situation has changed. We have to change too. Yep. No longer much point in making large quantities of horse shoes or hansom cabs. Life has moved on. We need to catch-up.


While we cannot (nor should we) completely resile from a need for a manufacturing sector as such; we MUST reduce our reliance on it. We need a paradigm change.

Our Governments, of whatever persuasion, do not seem to be able to tax massive profits at the correct level, nor do they seem to be able to resist calls for assistance from companies making billions who figure a small handout of a few hundred million will help the country as a whole.

We need to look at how we can CHANGE things so our people can be strong again.

Yeah, But What?

Obviously, we will still need cars, fridges, washing machines, TV's and the like. Not to mention furniture and all the other major pieces of equipment required for a modern lifestyle. But is it possible that we can shift our way of living in a way that reduces our demand for such goods? Perhaps? In ways we have not thought of yet? With products that may not have been invented yet?

And with greater numbers of people arriving in our country from overseas and by the normal processes, we have, in my opinion, a huge and ever increasing need for enhanced service industries. See sharing services mentioned above.

Take for example the rise of restaurant food and grocery delivery systems in some of our bigger cities. Just one instance.

We could develop products that do not need to be mass produced, perhaps; nor transported by traditional means. Old ideas can be re-visited or new ideas generated. Stuff that is locally made, even Cottage Industries might be the way to go. (We moved away from these many decades ago, but perhaps we could revisit this kind of commerce). I believe there is now again a huge potential here.

What about Sport, Music and Theater? Performance and Static or Fine Art. Movies, Electronica and esoterica. All of these things can be ramped up and with the right marketing (another service industry) might be a new employment area for displaced manufacturers. Most of us have more leisure time now with a need to fill in the spaces. And everyone has untapped talent just waiting to be unleashed. Hidden gems. Think about it.

Change is inevitable. It is happening all around us. Now.

Life coaching as a service might pick up to the level of acceptance here, that it has in America.

And, of course there is the whole digital economy. Phone and tablet 'apps'. Computer coding. Commodities that can be transported free over the air so to speak. This market, largely untapped even now, is bigger than anything that has gone before.


The change is here. We have to stop bitching and get on with it. Embrace it. The same wind blows on us all. If we act like a child who says, “I'll turn my back, and if I can't see you – you can't see me,” the wind will still blow on us and likely blow us over. We cannot escape. We must deal with the consequences. We have to change ourselves. We have to adapt to what is happening around us. A paradigm shift is long overdue.

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Return of The Force. Energy Flow – What’s next?

Return of The Force. Energy Flow – What's next?

The last week or so I have examined in a little detail the reality or not of an energy force within or extending around each of us. This force or energy field is present in many religious and spiritual beliefs and even makes an appearance in martial arts.

But there are a lot of naysayers out there who say that it is not proved, not scientific, not even possible, but what really is the truth?

There are so many instances in the world where it can be shown that we are affected by external things and most of these cannot be explained. They just are. Perhaps this is an energy transfer or a flow of some spiritual 'juice' between living entities. Or maybe some form of mind melding?


Today I learned about the opposite of the placebo effect. The nocebo effect. A nocebo is an inert substance or form of therapy that creates harmful effects in a patient. It is the adverse reaction experienced by a patient who receives such a therapy. Generically it is when a person experiences harmful, unpleasant, or undesirable side effects after a placebo medical treatment. These effects are not chemically generated and are only due to a person's negative belief or expectation that the fake treatment or drug will produce bad side effects.

Nocebo effects have been known to be either psychological or physiological.

Some evidence suggests that the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are caused by the nocebo effect.

Mind Over Matter

As noted above these nocebo effects are not actually real. They are not chemically induced – they are generated in the mind of a patient and manifest themselves as physical or psychological symptoms.

This would seem to be a case of 'mind over matter', which according to Wikipedia is a phrase that has been used in several contexts such as mind-centric spiritual doctrines, parapsychology and philosophy.

Émile Coué (26 February 1857 – 2 July 1926 - a French psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion) taught that some disease can be cured by positive thinking or auto suggestion. He pointed out that mind over matter is limited however, as it had not been demonstrated that one could regrow a lost limb simply by believing it subconsciously.

Changing negative disease-inducing thoughts to positive healing thoughts is compatible with science and falls within the modern spheres of Psychology and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Note that this is according to my sources (see above) COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENCE. So the Power Of Positive Thinking is scientific, but an energy or perhaps force field surrounding a living entity is not?


I wonder. Do these fit together in some way?

Dr. Konstantin Korotkov

A Russian scientist Dr. Konstantin Korotkov is trying to convince people they can change the world simply by using their own energy. He claims that thinking in a certain way can have a positive or negative effect on the surrounding environment.

“We are developing the idea that our consciousness is part of the material world and that with our consciousness we can directly influence our world,” said Dr. Konstantin Korotkov.

He is more well known for his investigations using Electrophotonics, which is based on Gas Discharge Visualization technique (GDV), and is a breakthrough beyond Kirlian photography (mentioned in a previous article. Put link here.) for direct, real-time viewing of the human energy fields. This new technology allows one to capture by a special camera the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy emanating to and from an individual, plants, liquids, powders, inanimate objects and translate this into a computerized model.

“We are developing the idea that our consciousness is part of the material world and that with our consciousness we can directly influence our world,” said Dr. Konstantin Korotkov, professor of physics at St. Petersburg State Technical University. “To bridge our understanding of the unseen world of energy, scientific experiments are being carried out using a technique called bioelectrophotography.”

The assumption is that we are constantly emitting energy. Bioelectrophotography aims to capture these energy fields seen as a light around the body — or what some people would call your aura.

Effects of the human mind, thoughts and energy on our surrounding environment

Dr. Korotkov is not the only one studying the effects of the human mind, thoughts and energy on our surrounding environment. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Laboratory has also been trying to wrap their heads around the subject and have concluded that the mind does in fact have a subtle capacity to influence the output of devices known as Random Event Generators (REGs).

A project that initially started when a student was curious to study the effects of the human mind and intention on the surrounding environment, turned into a rigorous testing lab where Dr. Robert Jahn and his lab assistant spent many hours experimenting to determine whether or not the mind has an effect on our physical world. Jahn and his assistant were able to determine that the human minds interactions with the machines demonstrated a relationship that was not physical in nature. The mind was able to effect and change outcomes of the machine in ways that were beyond explainable. In essence, consciousness was having an effect over the physical world.

This all suggests that”

  • There is an energy field around all things living and inanimate

  • It is quite probably electromagnetic in nature

  • It can perhaps be measured and photographed

  • iI is often referred to as an aura

  • We can harness this and use it from our minds to influence stuff outside in the real world

  • We can possibly detect and react to this field (aura) of another person if we are properly trained and

  • It can possibly be used in healing.


Next time we will have a bit of a look at some ideas utilising this energy field, if you like, including some from the following suggestions:

Reiki, White Light Healing, the Vedic code of science, Accu-pressure, Accu-puncture, Aromatherapy, Colour Therapy, Qigong, Shiatsu, Feldenkrais Method and possibly others.

We will also look at the concept of 'universal energy', chakras  perhaps? And see if we can figure out a model linking this aura or energy force field, our minds and the physical world.

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Jillian 35 – Paradigm Shift

Jillian 35 - Paradigm Shift

For the start of this series go to:

The other day Jillian and I were shooting the breeze and she began talking about this thing she called a Paradigm Shift.

Paradigm Shift

“Do you know what a Paradigm Shift is?” she asked.

“Nope.” I admitted. Big mistake.

“Gees, I've been around you long enough to figure out that that is a question I ought to avoid unless I want to know a lot about it.” I said.

She laughed. “Yep. Reminds me of a kid once who came to his father and asked him about the birds and the bees. As expected good old dad said, 'Ask your mother.' Quick as a flash the kid replied, 'Well, I didn't really want to know that much about it.'

“Anyway you don't know what it is so I am going to tell you.”

Need to know

And tell me she did. Although, stupidly, I first asked, “What is the reason I am about to be told this momentous stuff? Surely this is a 'need-to-know' situation and I don't?”

I narrowly avoided a playful punch, Teasing, but it would still have hurt.

“We were talking about it in a meeting at work the other day and I figured it might be something we could apply to our lives, well your life anyway. And I thought of discussing it with you.” she said.

Who knew? She thought I was discussion material for some esoteric concept?

“Bloody Hell,” I said intelligently.


“So,” she said. “A Paradigm Shift is used to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events. A radical change in underlying beliefs or theory. A changed attitude, or way of doing things.”

“Swallowed the dictionary or Wikipedia again have you?” I suggested.

“Are you going to take this seriously, or not?” she blustered. “Of course I have given you the dictionary and Wikipedia definitions. Why wouldn't I?”

What it actually Means

“Anyway what this means is that if the way we are doing things is not working, we must stop just piddling about at the edges making small, usually ineffectual changes, and dig in and turn the whole thinking process upside down looking at a problem or issue from a completely different angle.”

“An example, please.” I quietly asked.


“OK,” she said, “What about books and reading? People are not reading traditional books as much now as 10 years ago. Witness all the bookshops closing down. They tried cheaper publishing techniques, cheaper purchase prices, cafes and other community/social areas in bookshops and libraries, more book tours and launches, reading and writing festivals. Still the reading public stopped reading paper based books in their droves. Oh yes there are the 'real books are better brigade,' but something needed to be done. Writers were fighting a losing battle, and you can forget about bookshops and libraries.

Enter eBooks. Electronic books. A paradigm shift. Along came Kindle and other electronic reading devices; and programs for reading eBooks on your smart phone and tablet.”

That's what I mean.” That's turning the issue upside down. Using a different way of doing things. And I agree, there is still a way to go to to change the attitudes of many people to electronic books, but there is movement at the station.”

“What about the smell? I asked. “There is nothing quite like the smell of the pages of a book and the ink. It is what the whole experience is all about.”

“Yep.” she said. “Can't do much about that. But there will be other things we can do to enhance the experience.”

Cool Stuff:

“Part of the reason for telling you this,” she said, “is it might help you write some cool stuff about me instead of the drivel that slides off your keyboard onto the screen.”

“Oh.” I said. A tad chastened. But ever the one to bounce back, I said. “OK. What might this paradigm shift business be able to offer me as a person living in the here and now? I am not in the industrial revolution, or the advent of printing, or the creating of The Internet. Nor am I involved in the ebook revolution, apart from my own current preference for the Kindle.” So what can it do for me?”

“Ah yes.” she said. The personal perspective. Very good.”

Next time. #ourjillian

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Writing and 2016


For those thirsting for more of the life and times of Jillian, be assured there is still more to tell. Much more.

If you don't know what I am talking about, what is that matter with you?

For the start of these episodes go to:

Lately I have allowed myself to be sidetracked by lotsa things.

Christmas, New Year, Family, a Fantastic Website I am working on, AirBnB, and more. #YSBH. All good, but focus is getting tighter for 2016.

I am also working on a series of articles on Paradigm shifts. Keep watching. Or as they used to say on the radio in my time, “Don't touch that dial.”

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Jillian 34 – Some More Writing Notes ‘Show Don’t Tell’

Jillian 34 – Some More Writing Notes 'Show Don't Tell'

For the start of these episodes go to

This next bit,” Jillian started out enthusiastically, “is the bees knees. It is, in my humble opinion,” she said (by the way Jillian is the least humble person I know), “the essence that moves a novel from readable and enjoyable to pulling of teeth kind of excruciatingly horrible not on my watch nonsense.”

Now as I read what you wrote from our last little chat I realised I had broken this rule all the time. But I guess since this is a blog about me that is excusable.”

Show Don't Tell

The real deal,” she went on, “is Show Don't Tell. 'Telling' states facts or observations. 'Showing' invites much deeper understanding.”

Show the reader through the way your words work on their minds what you want them to see, hear or feel; don't just tell them about it.

The idea is if you tell someone something, they might remember it and they might believe it -- or they might not. If you show them it so that they can see it in their own mind's eye, they are more likely to remember it and, more importantly, believe it.”


Now she was on a wild run, “In public speaking we talk a lot about VAK. That is Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. We must tailor our speeches to appeal to all these areas or we may miss the very audience members we really need to engage. Our writing must follow the same principles.”

I am breaking the rules hear again,” she said, “this is all telling. but since it can be considered a learning exercise 'cause you so need this information looking at some of your latest writing efforts, and when our goal is simply to inform, not to persuade or engage, then TELLING does the job rather well — particularly if it’s part of an overall strategy. In this case teaching you to write a tad better than before.”

That being the case,” I said, let's jump to the chase. What does this all mean? Give me some examples.”

What does it Mean?

OK.” she agreed, “but rather than re-invent the wheel I'll quote a few examples from my readings on the topic.”


And off she went. Telling not showing. But I got the point.

Basically we need more detail, especially dialogue and action. We need to know thoughts, feelings; we need to smell the perfume, taste the wine, feel the cashmere. Anything less cheats the reader from experiencing our imaginary world.

For example, Instead of saying Molly is a wonderful person, say Molly is always there when anyone needs her. She's the first to arrive with a casserole when someone is sick, the first to send a note of encouragement to those who are troubled, the first to offer a hug to anyone -- man, woman or child -- at any-time.

And again, Instead of saying Sam is a talented musician, let us hear the crowds cheer, let us feel his passion. Take us into his head as he strokes the piano keys

But,” she continued, “Avoid using creative dialogue tags (crooned, sputtered etc). It is cheap. It is telling, not showing. Let the power of your dialogue and the accompanying action show your reader the tone of voice and the emotion. Don't tell them.”


Still nothing stopped her. A teacher in control of her audience and so much involved in her subject it was very informative, and a joy to watch an expert at work.

Here are some examples from a writing tipster Dawn Copeman. Some of her articles can be found on Writing World (An excellent website for writers of all persuasions and from beginners to those who have been 'at it' for a while and need a boost.)

Tell: The ground floor, rented room was tiny, damp and obviously uncared for.

Show: "As he entered the room from the hallway the first thing he noticed was the fusty smell: a combination of mould, damp and stale cigarette smoke. There were snail trails across the worn, brown, cord carpet that covered what little floor space there was. Opposite the doorway, pushed up against the wall, was a single bed, covered with a duvet but no duvet cover and a flat, tobacco-stained pillow.”

Can you feel the difference?“She asked.

Before I had a chance to process the information and answer the question she was off again.

Let's continue. More details

Squeezed into the corner of the room at the foot of the bed was a chest of drawers. On top of the drawers was a single electric hotplate. Opposite this was a sink piled high with dirty pots with a toothbrush just visible, peeking out through the handle of a mug. Facing the bed was a small table with a fold up-chair. On top of the table was an overflowing ashtray and yesterday's newspaper. Behind the door stood a mouldy wicker waste bin full of ash and cigarette ends."

In case I hadn't received the message loud and clear she went on, “In tell you get a fleeting glance of the room; in show you begin to see it.”

And even more.

Sometimes you can do a half show-half tell. This is where you get a character to describe another person -- that way they are showing and you're telling. "I'd be careful around him Cheryl, if I were you. He's a sly one that one, he can't be trusted."

Because a character has said it, it somehow makes it appear more real to the reader than if we'd just written "Tom was sly and couldn't be trusted.”

Still more from Dawn.” She continued.

When to tell, not show!

If you show don't tell all the time, your word count will be way too high, and in a novel the reader may get bored of all the 'padding'. No-one wants to be able to see every part of every building or every scene that clearly.

So you tell the things that are of no real importance to the story but are necessary to move the story along.

'The doorbell rang.' Unless you're telling 'A Christmas Carol' the type of doorbell is totally irrelevant and can be told not shown.

'Mary picked up the remote control and turned the television back on'. Again, we don't need to know anything more about these things so telling will suffice.”

Now we get to the dot points. Wondered when that would happen.

Some other points to keep in mind as you boldly go.

  • Choose specific, informative details that show your point
  • Encourage the reader’s involvement
  • Show with emotional language
  • Give the reader a reason to feel your emotion
  • Showing prefers the specific to the general”


We have 5 senses,” she continued, “and we must invoke some or all these in our readers wherever possible. And remember feelings for the kinesthetic among us.”

Grinding Axes

Many first timers,” she explained, “have an axe to grind and want us to feel like they do about a particular personal, environmental or political issue and they write a novel about it. Usually full of long passages which give us the information we MUST know and the story is lost in the explanation. A reader will put the book down and probably never return to it in these cases.

But it can be done. Reference the 'The Girl …' series by Stieg Larsson. #ourjillian

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