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by Robert Sieben

Once a major wildfire is burning, it’s too late for fire prevention and sometimes beyond the efforts of firefighters. That’s why the most important person preventing a house from burning is the homeowner, who can provide critical protection in advance.

If you live in an area threatened by wildfires, here are the most important steps you can take to preserve your home.

• Install an automatic gas shut off valve.
• Ember-proof your home.
• Keep decks clear.
• Create and maintain a non-ignition zone adjacent to your house.
• Remove junipers from your property.
• Take advantage of the wet season for vegetation
• Provide both vertical and horizontal spacing between plants and trees.

You fire insurance will not replace the time, anguish, valued personal items, or loss of community that occurs when your house burns down. The Homeowners Guide to Fire Prevention provides information that may save your home.

About the Author

Robert Sieben has been the volunteer coordinator of fire prevention for his homeowners association since 1998. He is a physician with no prior experience in fire prevention who built a townhouse in Oakland after the firestorm. The guidelines in his book represent what he has learned from thousands of hours of hands-on experience managing fire-prone vegetation on the large undeveloped portion of the homeowner association property. He served four terms on the Advisory Committee of the Oakland Wildfire Prevention Assessment District (WPAD), which he chaired, and also served on the North Hills Community Association, chairing its fire prevention committee. He has attended meetings of the Diablo Fire Safe Council and the National Wildlands Interface Council.

Bay Tree Publishing - The Halls of Power - William C. Gordon

by William C. Gordon

Fifth in a series of noir mysteries featuring newspaper reporter Samuel Hamilton, The Halls of Power explores corruption at the top of the money chain in San Francisco in the early 1960s. The work teems with eccentric characters at every level of society—hardboiled cops and immigrant workmen, and prosperous businessmen. None, however, can rival the albino sage, Mr. Song, who steps in with vigilante justice when the system stops working for the people of Chinatown.


“I was bewitched by this page turner about the abuses of money and power. Willie Gordon has a great talent for dialogue. I could hear the characters speaking and with its fast-paced action, this book would make a great movie.”
Elizabeth Subercaseaux, author of A Week in October

About the Author

A San Francisco trial lawyer with a long, successful career, William C. Gordon is the author of five noir mysteries that have appeared in 10 languages. He lives in Marin County, California with his wife, Isabel Allende.

by Maud Nerman, DO, CSPOMM, CA

Renowned osteopathic physician Dr. Maud Nerman demonstrates how a wide range of symptoms—including unexplained headaches, anxiety, back or neck pain, weight gain, low sex drive, constant fatigue, asthma, chronic pain, or memory loss—can stem from the body’s inability to recover after an injury or trauma. Healing Pain and Injury identifies three key steps to regaining health after injury or trauma:

• Removing injury shock
• Restoring motion
• Controlling inflammation

Based on over 30 years of successful treatment of patients with seemingly intractable conditions, Dr. Nerman’s innovative approach enables readers to harness their body’s remarkable healing ability in order to reclaim their health and their lives.

When injury or illness befalls you, your body is your greatest ally, constantly fighting to restore balance and health to every part of you. But sometimes it needs the right kind of help.  Dr. Nerman weaves together personal stories from patients, three decades of experience, the healing tradition of osteopathic medicine, and recent scientific discoveries to explain why the body’s interconnectedness is often the key to recovery and how you can understand the clues it provides.

About the Author

Dr. Maud Haimson Nerman is an osteopathic physician with specialties in osteopathic manual medicine, cranial osteopathy, and classical homeopathy. A Stanford University graduate, she attended medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Nerman is an Adjunct Clinical Instructor at the Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, CA. She has been in practice for over three decades, helping patients recover from injury and addressing complex medical conditions. She lectures throughout the U.S. on osteopathic medicine and regularly teaches advanced courses for medical professionals on the treatment of brain injury and trauma.


 “Dr. Nerman is a gifted healer; I know that from personal experience . . . Now, everyone can have the benefit of her extensive wisdom.”
Geneen Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Women, Food and God and Lost and Found

“This highly readable, hope-giving book links cutting-edge science with practical ways to heal body and brain injury.”
Martha Herbert , MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

“Maud Nerman is a famously skilled clinician—both as an osteopath and a homeopath. Weaving personal anecdotes with solid clinical information, the book is both fascinating and useful. I highly recommend it for both clinicians and the lay public.”
Roger Morrison, MD, cofounder of the Hahnemann Medical Clinic, Hahnemann College of Homeopathy and author of The Desktop Guide, Desktop Companion to Physical Pathology

“Dr. Nerman provides phenomenal insight into the causes and treatment of trauma as well as useful guides for prevention. As an integrative physician, this book will be one of my recommendations for my patients and colleagues.”
Michelle Perro, MD, DHOM, Integrative Physician, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, Institute for Health and Healing

“If you continue to experience pain despite treatment, this book may unlock the doors to relief.”
Alan Caruba, Bookviews, Founding Member of National Book Critics Circle

“Dr. Nerman has compiled a truly eye-opening treatise on the devastating effects of trauma and injury shock on our health. The interconnectedness of every organ and energy system of the body, and the pivotal role that osteopathy can play in healing are deftly described in practical and readily understandable language.”
Michael E. Rosenbaum, MD, author of Super Supplements and Past President of The Healthy Foundation

Bay Tree Publishing - Undue Influence - Patrick O'Reilly - Phyllis Rosen

by Patrick O’Reilly
and Phyllis Rosen

Internet scams, Ponzi schemes, real estate rip-offs, weird cults, fortune-telling cons—it’s hard to read the news without finding another example of a successful con artist at work. As the number of cons (and victims) grows, the term undue influence is gaining widespread use.

Undue Influence: Cons, Scams and Mind Control identifies the tools and techniques con artists use and the vulnerabilities they look for in victims. Most scammers, including some charismatic psychopaths, have the uncanny ability to adapt common techniques of manipulation and control to the personality of their victim, and given the right circumstances, everyone is susceptible. The information in this book might be your best resource the next time makes an offer so good you can’t turn it down.

About the Authors

Patrick O’Reilly, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He is past president of the San Francisco Psychological Association and former chair of Bay Area Skeptics. He was a postdoctoral intern of the late Dr. Margaret Singer and has served as an expert witness on matters related to cults, gangs, undue influence, and false confessions.

Phyllis Rosen, J.D. has been a member of the California Bar since 1991. In the 1970s, Ms. Rosen was herself a member of a psychologized cult acting under the guise of being part of the human potential movement. Ms. Rosen was a research collaborator with Dr. Margaret Singer on matters of undue influence.


“We’ve all wondered about the mysterious forces that compel bright people to follow leaders who are bad for them, or why we ourselves have been fooled. Patrick O’Reilly and Phyllis Rosen offer a sparkling page-turner filled with stories and insights that will leave you smarter than before.”
—Nanette Asimov has written about fringe groups as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work includes coverage of cults and high controlling relationships.

“One of the clearest, most accessible, and informative books on social manipulation and undue influence available … a remarkable feat.”
—Stephen A. Kent, Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Alberta, specializes in research on new and alternative religions and is the author of From Slogans to Mantras: Social Protest and Religious Conversion in the Late Vietnam Era

“… an important text for mental health practitioners when treating clients and patients who have been victimized.”
—George Taylor, Ph.D. is a professor of Special Education at Coppin State University, whose academic specialties include research methodology and special education. He is the author of twenty-three books in social science, including Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Research


Guest blog by Olin Dodson, author of Melissa’s Gift

When my daughter passed away from cystic fibrosis in 1997, it felt like my life ended. Melissa was only 18. I had known her for just 7 years—and that’s a long story—but we had a wondrous life together. Her abrupt passing, on top of her continuous struggles and hospitalizations, left me bereft and despondent.

It took nearly seven more years before I found an interest in living once again.

One of my greatest problems in those days and nights of darkness was the sense that each passing day was taking me further away from the Melissa I knew and loved. I feared that the experience of looking into her deep eyes and cradling her hand would become a faded memory. I existed under the power of two ideas: a) grief never ends; and b) you must let go and get on with your life. I was fortunate to learn that those two hope-shredding ideas were incomplete. Fully formed, they are: grief never ends, but love never dies; and let go you must… but not entirely.

Thomas Attig, in his book, How We Grieve, describes loving in absence as a desirable activity. He writes that, through story-telling, “we maintain a living rela­tionship with our deceased loved one, one in which we allow ourselves to be transformed by the gift of the other’s life. Searching for lasting love in separation is our best hope for tran­scending suffering and reaffirming the continuing meanings of the life now ended and of our own.”

After Melissa died, as I wrote the story of our years together, I soon discovered that she was with me every day. And, four years later, when I finished the book, Melissa’s Gift, I realized that I had not let go of Melissa; she was closer and more real to me than she had ever been. I saw her face and talked to her. I detected her handprint in different places in my life. I got on with my life with her. Melissa’s presence with me grew through my process of re-engaging with her in my imagination and writing, and delving deeply into the details of our love and sorrow.

Once I found a publisher for Melissa’s Gift, I studied contemporary thought about grief and loss. I began teaching workshops on grief, mixing the insights from my studies with conversations, dreams, and stories from life with my daughter. With each telling of stories, we continue to experience the love for—and from—the one we lost.

The stories, dreams, ceremonies and honoring of those who have passed enrich us. Together, we are part of a subculture of people who seek to fully embrace life in all of its joys and sorrows and see no point in merely “moving on” from loss. In our dif­fering ways we let go, but allow ourselves to be continually touched and influenced by a love which never ends, and the person who is so, so dear to us.

(This article was first published by Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc. and is used here with their permission.)


(Gijon, Spain, EFE)

The American writer William C. Gordon has reclaimed the style of the 60s in his crime novels, which he presented today at the Semana Negra (Noir Week) in Gijon.

Gordon is considered by critics to be the last survivor of the true genre because he preserves the original clues of the noir novel. Gordon has said that he refuses to use technology to solve the cases. In his novels the investigators don’t need DNA tests, computers or cellular phones, they only use their intuition, a precise methodology and intelligence.

“The idea is to use the brain to face the problems step by step, solve the criminal case and find the assassin,” he said today at the press conference.

Born in 1937 in Los Angeles, the author was in the U.S. Army, he owned a bar and worked as a lawyer in San Francisco. His wife, the Chilean writer Isabel Allende, pushed him to write noir novels.

Gordon created the character of Samuel Hamilton, a newspaper reporter who is the protagonist of his novels The Chinese Jars, King of the Bottom, Fractured Lives, and The Ugly Dwarf. “The protagonist is a reporter and not a private eye or a policeman precisely to avoid technology in the investigation,” explained the author.

In the first novel Samuel Hamilton is a ruined man, a drunk and a loser who needs help from others, but in the other two novels there is an evolution in this character: his life improves, said Gordon.

His father was the inspiration for title character in The Ugly Dwarf, whom he describes as an emotional dwarf, shameless and a womanizer. Gordon agrees with Ernest Hemingway in that “all novels are somehow autobiographic.”

His father’s assistant and mistress inspired the character of the dominatrix, who is the dwarf’s lover in the book. The writer has said that “for revenge and because he hated her,” he wanted to portray a negative image of the woman, but the unexpected result was that the readers sympathize with her.

Adapted from Coping with the Emotional Impact of Cancer by Neil Fiore, PhD

The inability to talk about your problems and feelings is a most serious obstacle to having a good relationship. Every relationship has its problems, but if you can talk about them you have a better chance of living through them, together. It makes sense, especially during times of serious illness, to be aware of barriers to open communications. In my work with cancer-stricken families I have seen two major barriers to communication: a conspiracy of silence and premature mourning.

A Conspiracy of Silence

With any serious illness and emotional topic, there is the danger of avoiding mentioning it for fear of saying the wrong thing and evoking strong feelings. This can lead to a conspiracy of silence in which the patient and the family avoid the topic in an attempt to protect each other, all the while creating feelings of alienation, misunderstanding, and barriers to direct and open communication.

Out of a sense of duty and a desire to protect a loved one, a vicious cycle of silence, misinterpretation, guesswork, and isolation gets started. Phrases like, “I don’t want to say anything because I’m afraid she’ll get upset,” or “They haven’t brought it up so I assume they just don’t want to talk about it,” are signs that a conspiracy of silence is taking place.

While you want to respect another’s timing, this doesn’t mean that you must sit silently with your own feelings and try to interpret clues as to when it’s okay to speak. You can still invite a conversation with phrases such as, “I don’t know what to say but I want you to know that I’d be glad to talk whenever you wish,” or “Please let me know when you’d like to talk about what you’ve been through.”

We cannot protect others from reality; they usually have some idea of what’s going on and often are imagining the worst. Even though our intentions are good, the desire to protect someone from hurt usually comes with an attempt to protect ourselves from our own upset. It generally makes sense to say something about what is troubling you, even if you choose to keep the details vague. For example, “I’ve been avoiding talking to you because I’ve been afraid I’d break down and cry. If you don’t mind me crying, I’d be glad to talk with you.” Let them know that you can handle your own emotions and that you don’t need protection from their feelings. If the two of you are going to cry, at least you can cry together.

Premature Mourning

Learning that a loved one has cancer often causes family members to start a painful premature mourning process and to be less available to support the patient’s ongoing treatments. Anticipating that you’ll have to repeat the mourning process in the future can lead to avoidance of the patient, thereby depriving the patient of real, human contact. Patients and their families and friends have different timetables for grieving and adapting to how cancer has affected them.

Even when we know that many forms of cancer are curable, there remains the fear that a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence. This fear can lead us to mourn the loss of a loved one even though he or she may recover from cancer, may live with it for years, or may want to enhance the quality of the last months of life with frequent visits and support from family and friends.

Of course, the patient can be the one who’s doing the premature mourning, isolating himself from the family and depriving them of an opportunity to share feelings and to express their concern and desire to help.

Please remember that being diagnosed with cancer, having cancer, and dying of cancer are separate and different states, each requiring its own emotions and adjustments, each in its own time. Eventually, the premature mourner must cope with the present moment rather than the imagined future. The patient may want to tell the premature mourner what I told a friend:

Stop avoiding me and treating me as if I’m already dead. I’m still here. I’m still alive! I need you to be with me, now. Help me to make the most of whatever time is left. There’ll be plenty of time for grieving after I’m gone. But don’t be so sure I’m going that fast. In fact, I may hang around so long that you may be saying, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”

You most likely will find that, as you become more comfortable with these difficult feelings, you’ll worry less and will enjoy more fully the valuable time that you still have with each other.


Bay Tree Publishing - Invisible Energy, David Goldstein Ph.D.

by David B. Goldstein, Ph.D.
Foreword by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Offering effective tools for addressing the dual crises of climate change and the economy, Invisible Energy demonstrates the huge potential benefits of implementing energy efficiency technology and policies. This book shows how the two major challenges of our time are related, how market failures actually restrict competition, and how they impede the development of energy efficient products. Moreover, because no single trade association benefits from advocating for efficiency, the “hidden energy” of efficient use is a forgotten resource both in comparison to green energy as well as polluting sources. This book shows how thoughtful policies, smart regulations, and new technologies can support a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time fostering greater economic growth, not less.

About the Author

David B. Goldstein, Ph.D., is Energy Program Co-Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and a MacArthur (“genius award”) Fellow. He is the author of Saving Energy, Growing Jobs. He lives in San Francisco but spends considerable time in Washington, DC advocating for constructive environmental policies.


 “Dr. Goldstein’s book is a must read for all who care about climate change and want to understand what changes must be made in our energy policy to deal with global warming while maintaining a growing U.S. and worldwide economy. Dr. Goldstein pioneered energy efficiency in California and his book explains why energy efficiency has remained invisible elsewhere and what must be done to change that.”
—Dian Grueneich, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission      

“Based on an energy efficiency partnership with the author that is now in its fourth decade, I was expecting to find this book a unique mix of practical insights and visionary leadership.  David Goldstein has exceeded my high expectations, and I hope a wide readership will give him the opportunity to do the same for them.”
— Arthur Rosenfeld, Ph.D, California Energy Commission, founder Center for Building Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and winner of the Enrico Fermi Award

“… the ultimate advocacy handbook for those who recognize that the success of the green revolution will be measured not merely by the number of more efficient green buildings or technologies but by the number of changed minds.”
—S. Richard Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council

“… a compelling case for increasing levels of investment in energy efficiency to help heal our economy and the environment.”
—John R. Fielder, President, Southern California Edison

” Invisible Energy shows how America can transform its economy with energy efficiency measures that are good for consumers and good for the environment.”
—Congressman Ed Markey

“If you find the concept of energy efficiency appealing but don’t think it can make more than a small difference in a vast and diversified global economy, prepare to be astonished. David Goldstein will persuade you that you have grossly underestimated how much ‘invisible energy’ efficiency can supply. If we follow his advice we will cut energy bills and trade deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars, improve public health, and end a suicidally irresponsible experiment in disrupting the earth’s climate. And the question won’t be how much it cost us, but rather how much cash we saved on the way to saving something far more precious.”
—From the Foreword by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Bay Tree Publishing - Cargiving, Lives Derailed, Eli Cannon

by Eli Cannon
An intimate and personal story, Caregiving: Lives Derailed, recounts the experience of an American couple on the verge of retirement who choose to open their lives as host-parents to a Third World student. When the student is diagnosed with cancer, they bring her into their home for extended caregiving. While the story reaches a happy conclusion, the normal and understandable emotions expressed and the confident and supportive words exchanged, unexpectedly and repeatedly threaten to destroy their well-intentioned caregiving enterprise.

Wide ranging and beautifully written, this thoughtful book raises fundamental questions about intercultural communications, the dynamics of international exchange student programs, and the nature of the caregiving experience.


“A heartfelt story, rich in complex relationships, told with care and courage. This book should be read especially by those who find themselves on an unexpected care-giving journey.” —Martin Kohn, Ph.D., co-founder, Center for Literature, Medicine, and Biomedical Humanities, Hiram College and founding co-editor, Literature and Medicine series, Kent State University Press

“There are more than 65 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. They are the backbone of our health care system, providing care and support to the millions of people with illness and disability, often at great cost to themselves and great benefit to patients and society… Many personal accounts of caregiving have been written in the last decade, but few are as wise and compassionate as this one. It is blending of science, wit , and the seasoned insights of keen observer of human relationships.” —Richard Schulz, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research, Director of Gerontology, and Associate Director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Pittsburgh

“I could not put this book down. An engrossing, honest and multi-dimensional look into an enormously interesting caregiving relationship from which all caregivers can learn. Dr. Cannon has done a tremendous job of bringing the book’s lessons to life and allowing the reader to identify with the participants.” —Gary Edward Barg, founder and editor-in-chief of Today’s Caregiver magazine and caregiver.com


Bay Tree Publishing - Fractured Lives - William C. Gordon

The body of a well-dressed young man is found in San Francisco’s City Hall. Killed in the middle of the night by multiple gunshots from an unusual foreign pistol, the mystery is further compounded by the fact that the victim had his fingerprints surgically removed. The search for the murderer leads newspaper reporter Samuel Hamilton through the mayor’s office, a maze of international conflicts, and into the gritty underground world of gunrunners to Jordan, Israel, and the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. Many of the memorable characters and locations from Gordon’s earlier mysteries—Melba, owner of the Camelot Bar on Nob Hill, her willowy daughter Blanche, and tough-talking Bruno Bernardi of the SFPD—reappear in this tightly plotted noir mystery set in San Francisco in the early 1960s.

About the Author

A San Francisco trial lawyer with a long, successful career, William C. Gordon is the author of four noir mysteries that have appeared in 15 languages. He lives in Marin County, California with his wife, Isabel Allende.