Every bookstore has them: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to . . . and fill in the blank with almost anything you can possibly imagine. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Decoding Your Genes? It’s available, although why the publishers think that genetic decoding is something that can or should be attempted by an idiot is puzzling. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model is perhaps less puzzling – although I will generously refrain from making the obvious comment. The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Living on a Budget is also an easy target, since selling a book purporting to save the buyer money seems slightly hypocritical.

I have no illusions about my ability to solve every idiotic mystery Santa Barbara has to offer, and this column has insufficient space to make the attempt. However, since the publisher of the idiot’s guides has stepped into the breach, it might be worthwhile to see what’s relevant to life here on the American Riviera, and if these books have some of the answers to the more bizarre and mystifying aspects of our lives.

There is, of course, no idiot’s guide specific to Santa Barbara, Southern California, or even the state in general, presumably because no idiots live here. Or at least so a native Californian might wish to believe.

The idiot’s guides, however, do offer topics of relevance to local living. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pet Psychic Communication – yet another book title which seems suspiciously redundant – is surprisingly applicable to life in Santa Barbara. Laura Stinchfield, professional pet psychic, is available for local consultations. Her business is based out of Ojai, and she practices in Santa Barbara.

Jane Broccolo, another area pet psychic, “empowers them when needed, with gentle Reiki healing energy and Polarity acupressure,” according to her website. Of course, rates are steep – a one-hour session with Broccolo costs $128. Perhaps the idiot’s guide would be more accessible, as it retails for a mere $16.95 – but the stigma of purchasing such a book in the presence of other human beings might make the fees for a private session worth it in the end.

But the potential for embarrassment which exists in the purchase of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pet Psychic Communication is nothing in comparison to some of the publisher’s other offerings. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Improving Your I.Q. is perhaps the best example – although, as no idiots live in Santa Barbara, it’s possible that the availability of such a book might be irrelevant to any local readers.

One intriguing title which might be of more interest to Santa Barbarans, at least judging by the number of local practitioners, is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Past Life Regression. There are at least four therapists in town who specialize in the unearthing of past lives and their current implications – the One Mind Institute, which puts on a retreat here in Santa Barbara, offers instruction in “past life remote viewing” and “past life travel.” For the more adventurous, the One Mind Institute’s retreat also provides tips on how to “access all information in the infinite holographic universe,” a topic the idiot’s guides somehow failed to cover.

It must be an oversight, because if ever a topic needed an idiot’s guide:

Seen anything strange lately? Let us know about it, and you may see a solution to the mystery here. Contact Elena at weirdsb@gmail.com.


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