Monday, April 30, 2012


I am learning Braille and am impressed with the brilliance of this invention by Frenchman Louis Braille. I have a contract with the Catholic Guild for the Blind to do some teaching of blind and vision-impaired students and have been learning some of this writing system. By the time I have mastered it, will it be obsolete?

Letters are formed by raising (or not) “dots” in one or more of six positions in a cell that has two columns with three positions each, 1-2-3 and 4-5-6, reading top to bottom and left to right. The letter “a” has a raised dot at position 1, “b” has dots at 1-2, “c” at 1-4, “d” at 1-4-5. There is a certain order to it, but not a simple one. Preceded by a “number” sign, dots at 3-4-5-6, each letter from a to j stands for a digit 1 to 9 and then 0. [I am dropping the quotation marks for simplicity.]

Letters from k through t use the same pattern of dots as those from a to j, but with an additional dot at the 3 position, so that k is 1-3, etc. Letters from u through z follow the same pattern [except w] with added dots at the 3-6 positions. Since the French language does not use w, neither did Braille, but it is formed from the left-right reflection of the letter r, becoming, 2-4-5-6.

Wow! There’s more. My “qwerty” conventional keyboard has about 50 letter/number input keys, with another dozen or so symbols obtainable by using shift, so that an ampersand [&] becomes shift-7, etc. That adds about another 20 symbols, a total near 70.

How does Braille handle the need for extra symbols? Note that there are six positions for dot/no-dot indications. Taking the number of combinations of 6 things taken r at a time, with r=0 to 6, the number of dots, gives 64 unique symbols (including r=0 and r=6 dots). To get more options, Braille uses some special combinations of two symbols. To simplify printing and reading, many common words have been given their own abbreviations or contractions, some of which are obvious (“pd” for “paid”) and others not.

It is a brilliant system. 

Will it continue to be needed? My Kindle has a text-to-speech feature that reads to me and does it well, though not perfectly [homonyms are ambiguous]. Will Braille go the way of Semaphore signals and Morse code? The American Foundation for the Blind does not seem to think so, as its site [] offers 168 books with “Braille” in their titles. I’ll keep on learning it, having mastered [by sight and by feel] about 30 of the 64 single-cell characters. Written Chinese was more difficult.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


for May 2012

Most women want to be loved. How to achieve that? Step one, be lovable.

I read recently an article about nine types of arguments [“fights“] a woman should have with the man in her life. An underlying theme: getting her fair share of whatever. Not lovable.

I know of a couple who negotiated their pre-nuptial agreement to the point where each got most of what each sought. Love was destroyed. Not lovable.

The Boy Scouts take an oath that has a nice list of admirable attributes. A Scout is “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” My beloved wife, Tina Su Cooper, tells me that her Girl Scout oath was much the same. To be lovable, adopt these…at least.

Notice that “assertive” is not on this list. Do men really want an assertive partner? Not lovable. It may help you succeed at work, but do not bring it home.

You can drop “obedient,” too. Neither partner in a marriage need “obey” the other, though each should be sensitive to the wants and needs of the other.

I don’t see “sexy” there, either. Admittedly, one would not be pushing “sexy” for kids, but even between adults, sexy does not equate to lovable. Many a girl who dressed and acted provocatively ended up wanting to be loved rather than loving to be wanted.

Let’s hear it for “cheerful!” Hard to love a depressed and depressing person. Someone who values life and approaches it optimistically is a real asset. A sense of humor often reflects a sense of proportion about oneself and about life’s ups and downs.

You can’t go wrong with “kind.” Even when you disagree, the kind person will present that disagreement in as non-hurtful a manner as possible. Sometimes, being kind means saying less than you might otherwise.

Men and women admire bravery. One of my favorite movie characters is the plucky teenage girl in John Wayne’s True Grit. Kim Darby was the actress and her character was Mattie Ross, dedicated to avenging her father’s murder, regardless. I found her quite lovable, though probably not everyone’s cup of tea. Our Tina’s father, the late Prof. G.J. Su, encouraged his little girl to “be a brave soldier,” and as an adult she has endured her crippling multiple sclerosis with a bravery admired by all who know her.

Within reasonable limits, thrift is a plus. When I dated my dear Tina in college, I had very little money. She was an inexpensive date, a girl who once insisted on walking a couple of miles back to her dorm with me in a light rain rather than calling an “expensive” taxi. As a wife, she has been very careful with our money, too. Her health problems as we got older have been made more manageable by our considerable savings.

How about “reverent“? Sharing the same religion, if possible, is a plus. Acknowledging the existence and importance of a Higher Power or of higher ideals can produce better behavior and lovable humility.

Being attractive physically helps. Keep in shape. Dress appropriately. Emphasize your best features and minimize the others. I am not telling you anything new in this regard.

St. Augustine wrote that morality could be summarized in a few words, “Love God, and do as you please.” As a corollary, if you two love each other, you will be good to each other and good for each other.

To be loved: step one, be lovable; step two, be loving.


Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a freelance writer, writing coach, and retired physicist, author of Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, available from Outskirts Press,,, or from the web site, His email is

Thursday, April 19, 2012


In recognition and appreciation of the skilled care my wife and mother have received from our nurses, we are giving away free PDF copies of my book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion to anyone who requests it before May 12, 2012, from Many thanks!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Steve Harrison of Bradley Communications Corporation recently gave a web seminar, a webinar, having this title. I listened raptly as he presented over an hour of useful information for free, followed by a twenty-minute pitch for services his company offers.
Harrison started out in journalism, having majored in English in college. He soon joined his brother Bill Harrison in publishing the Radio and TV Interview Report, started in 1987, and the Harrisons and their Bradley Communications Corporation have by now coached over 12,000 authors and speakers, helping them to obtain successful promotion of their books and presentations.
The company’s mission is simple: to help you achieve your mission. Among the successful authors that they have helped obtain widespread dissemination of their works are Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, whose Chicken Soup… line of books have sold over 500 million copies. Another author they helped to succeed is Dr. John Gray, whose Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus relationships book and associated activities have made him a millionaire many times over. They also coached Robert Kiyosaki, whose Rich Dad, Poor Dad book also rocketed into a highly successful worldwide publishing orbit.
Publicity is better than advertising because it is free, more credible, and tends to multiply, as media coverage leads to more media coverage.
Publicity makes you an expert. This then increases traffic to your website, word-of-mouth recommendations, distribution, social media buzz, buyers for your product, and makes you sought out for speaking engagements and interviews, giving you the opportunity to raise your fees and product prices and generate even more publicity. You establish a virtuous circle, where success leads to more success.
It surprised me to learn that every day over 100,000 media outlets are seeking guests of one sort or another, interviewees who are in some sense experts, due to education, training, or experience. Despite this, most authors and speakers fail to promote themselves successfully, remaining relatively unknown. Jack Canfield has commented that not promoting one’s book is much like giving birth to a baby and then leaving it on someone else’s doorstep. If you have something worth communicating, then self-promotion also serves others.
Harrison described seven different ways in which famous authors and speakers differ from those who remain unknown.
First, the unknowns have tended to talk about their products, whereas the famous have understood that they must direct attention to good ideas. The famous understand the need for a “hook.” A hook is an attention-grabber, a teaser, the kind of headline you see on the cover of popular magazines. On radio or TV a hook might be prefaced with the words “coming up….” What follows can usefully be a statement of how to do something, the countering of a myth, presentation of a prediction, or the proposing of a question, such as, “Is your house making you sick?” [I would add that journalists have a favored set of question starters: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?]
Secondly, famous authors and speakers give reasons why they need to be covered NOW. They have a timely hook: a season, anniversary, holiday, news event---sudden or predictable.
Thirdly, the famous authors and speakers have not relied on a single hook but have developed multiple, good hooks. Harrison gave as an example a hypothetical book, Nutrition 101. Certainly, one would approach media outlets that are centered on fitness and health, but Harrison gave examples of tailoring the message for those outlets interested in consumer affairs, personal finance, personal relationships, and self-improvement. An example from his talk would be for the author of Nutrition 101 to offer to speak about “five ways to trim your grocery bill” or “how your beloved may be sabotaging your diet.”
Speaking about multiple hooks, Harrison presented the following list of media interest groupings:
Small business and entrepreneurial advice
Parenting and family
Personal finance
Consumer advice
Sales and marketing
Psychology and self-improvement
Health and fitness
Leadership and management
Career advice
New Age and spiritual
Alternative health.
No doubt there are more, and each of these could be further sub-divided into narrower niches.
Fourthly, the famous utilize many different media types to maximize their exposure:
Trade-published newsletters
Who will become the new Oprah Winfrey? Bloggers may deserve this title.
To get your message on such a blog, you can offer a guest post, offer to be interviewed, present a book to be reviewed, give away some chapters of your book, offer your book as a prize. To be successful doing this, however, you must research the blog, to make sure that what you’re offering is appropriate.
Fifthly, the famous have had publicity plans, knowing WHO is their core audience, WHAT they read or watch, and WHEN various topics will seem timely to them.
Sixthly, the famous often prepare the ground for their publications and presentations by getting publicity before the book is completed. One good way to do this is through the creation of short, few-minute, videos, placed on YouTube, which has become one of the top search engines on the Internet. In 3 minutes one might cover a topic such as listing “the top reasons men are afraid of commitment.” Be sure to include links to Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn.
Finally, the successful have learned that they cannot do this all on their own. There is a lot of work involved, with special skills, data bases, and experience needed. They need the help of professionals, such as the Harrisons and their Bradley Communications Corporation. For $2500, the Harrison’s will give you an in-depth consultation with one of their consultants, at least four valuable publicity hooks, three half-page ads in their Radio and TV Interview Report, four ads in their publication Experts4Interviews, a 90% discount on attending Steve Harrison’s multiple-day $2000 publicity workshop, and they will shoot, edit, and upload five videos for you. They placed the value of this package at over $5000. Those who are interested in learning more about their program should go to the website .
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Can just about anyone become a success? David Patrick Wilson, actor, writer, director, producer, veteran of 40 years in the entertainment field says, “Yes!”

At a recent talk at the Orange County [NY] Business Accelerator, Wilson, head of Willy-Gilly Productions of Goshen, NY, outlined his views. He presented tools that anyone can use, that daily exercise will strengthen, that -- if done -- will always succeed. Of course, one must do the work.

One key to success is to master communication. The first requirement is committed speaking, you must know what you’re talking about, know it cold. To engage your audience, you must also practice clear listening, you must be wholly present and attentive. You must observe carefully to get feedback on how well you are making yourself understood. When you get a response, you must control your own reaction, waiting to be sure things are as they seem. Finally, to take advantage of the interaction, you must undertake critical planning, decide on at least one step that you going to take in order to advance, and do it.

Highly successful investor Warren Buffett once said, “Every day I do one thing to move my project forward.” Chicago industrialist Clement Stone’s motto was, “Do it now.”

Wilson shared with the audience the detailed career-planning outline that he used over 20 years ago, that has indeed shaped his career to the point where he realized that he had achieved his plan and needed to write another one.

Wilson’s career plan had the following components: under the heading “Career” were: field of endeavor, annual earnings, residences, and other interests. Each of these had subdivisions as well. Under the heading “Family,” he listed: spouse or soul/mate, children, and other family members. Under “Spiritual pursuits,” he listed: practices and specific programs.

When Wilson’s son was in his late teens, Wilson had him fill out a career plan. It was stashed away somewhere in their kitchen and ignored for almost 20 years. When, roughly 20 years later, Wilson and his son discussed his son’s career trajectory, having unearthed the original plan, they were fascinated to note that although there had been many diversions, the son had ended up pretty much where he had hoped to be at the end of his initial 20-year plan. Somehow, on some level, making that plan had shaped his future, too.

Wilson noted that a crucial element in success is integrity. “Integrity” is derived from a root word that means “whole” or “being in order” or “standing alone.” Integrity requires self-honesty. When Wilson had a brief stint as a telemarketer, he outsold a roomful of fellow marketers by paying close attention to and being in harmony with the response that he got from the people whom he called.

Exercises that you can do to enhance your probability of achieving your goals include careful listening, clearing your mental space of distractions, observing carefully with all your senses, repeating your goals to yourself, planning your work and then working your plan.

Our thoughts shape our speech; our speech can be transformed into writing and into action. Over time, you become who you say you are, if you hold yourself to your commitments. It is been said, “Before you have, you must become.”

In summing up, Wilson recommended that daily you carry out each of the following one-minute exercises: listening intently, clearing the mind by going into the eye of your mental storm, observing your environment, repeating precisely to yourself what others say, writing down one thing to do that fits in with the picture you have of your future, and then doing at least that one thing.

Soon after Wilson’s talk, I gave Wilson’s career plan outline to my already-terrific thirty-year-old son, who is mulling over some career decisions. It should help.


Saturday, April 7, 2012


How hard is it to succeed with a new business? I was discussing this with Orange County [NY] Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership Investment, Cheryl Cohen, my personal business guru, and she revealed that many new members of the Chamber think starting a business is easy. One of us added, “like shooting fish in a barrel,” an old expression that means something is a cinch, a snap, a piece of cake, as easy as pie…you get it.

My own new business, as a freelance writer and book coach, seems to be succeeding, albeit slowly. A retired physicist, I commented on the analogy of shooting fish in a barrel: If the barrel is packed with fish, you are nearly certain to hit at least one. If the fish are few and you are shooting from above into the water surface at something other than vertically, you are likely to miss. Because of the behavior of light passing from water to air, the fish are not where they seem to be. If you put an oar in the water, it appears bent where it touches the water, for this same reason.

There are ways to succeed with a new business, and joining the Chamber helps. In being a new member, I have learned a lot, formed many useful alliances, found some clients, even used the rooms for meeting them. If you missed last month’s special blitz, you can still get some special deals when signing up as a new member, Cheryl emphasized.

Back to fish in a barrel: if you shoot straight down (vertically), then the fish will be in that path, though not at quite the distance it appears, so your bullet will strike it. One study also showed that even if you miss the fish, the shock wave from the bullet is often lethal.

For business success, to extend the analogy, you will succeed if you learn how to shoot correctly. Then, take your best shots. Sometimes even coming close to where you aimed will be good enough, as with tossing horseshoes and hand grenades.

Cheryl Cohen became quite a marksman [markswoman?] on her high school rifle team, where she was re-directed by the school athletic director after complaints from her bowling team that her energetic but ill-controlled bowling style threatened the safety of her team-mates. In her hands, a rifle was less dangerous than a bowling ball.

To sign up or re-enlist, call Cheryl at the Chamber at 457-9700 x1111 or email .

Friday, April 6, 2012


“Love makes the world go around.” And around. And around. In this first, dizzy phase of what might be a lifelong relationship, it is hard to think clearly, but we must.

Love that moves on to marriage must also move on to loyalty and devotion, but too often does not, leaving behind broken hearts, broken marriages, broken children. The wise will “begin with the end in mind,” thinking beyond the initial stage to the middle and the end stages of a committed relationship.

After the “first fine careless rapture” [Robert Browning] comes the engagement, wedding, and the business of being married. New responsibilities are added to the joys of being together. As a couple and individually, you meet new people, and loyalty becomes paramount. Do you “stand by your man” or woman, or do you criticize, undercut, demean? Do you flirt? Have an affair? Lack of loyalty will kill your love, ruin your relationship, doom your marriage. If you have children, this puts them at risk. Poor families are largely headed by single mothers, and their children are too often among the least successful in maturing healthily. If you have fallen in love with someone to whom you can and will be loyal, you have chosen well.

At some time, probably when you both are middle-aged or older, accident or illness will leave one of you more or less disabled. The statistics are frightening, but we know, without statistical analysis, that as we age, we will lose capabilities, and sooner or later one of the couple or both will need someone’s care, someone’s devotion. That will test the wisdom of your initial choice and the strength of the bonds that hopefully were enhanced, not weakened, by your behavior in the earlier phases of your marriage. Old age is not for sissies, and it is weathered better with a loving partner than without.

At a recent book signing [for Ting and I: A Memoir…], I was asked what were the “secrets” of our happy marriage, a marriage that has been very happy despite Tina Su Cooper’s severe disabilities due to multiple sclerosis. I was stumped briefly, then replied that one should love and marry a person worthy of your devotion, as I had. After a pause, I added, “and don’t fuss over little things.”



Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a freelance writer, writing coach, and retired physicist, author of Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, available from Outskirts Press,,, or from the web site, His email is

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