This made me chuckle

It’s a quote I stumbled upon this morning from Scott Scanlon:

 I logged into Facebook yesterday and a few of my friends shared pictures of their dinner. It made me think… before social media did people take pictures of their dinner and then when you came over they said… “you got to see this, here’s what I ate last night… do you like it?”

I’m guilty of it for sure:

Enjoyed the pizza at @basementbrowns very much. | #loveleam

A photo posted by @soulcruzer on

Anybody else thirty? | #beer #photo

A photo posted by @soulcruzer on

Why not eh? #coffeetime

A photo posted by @soulcruzer on

And I could go on and on…

I’ve got to laugh though, because if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re doomed!

Wisdom Bombs

The Old Woman and the Snake


Better Than Sex, Hunter S. Thompson

Social tech

Algorithms know what you’re going to do before you do

Take a gander down this list of 22 Ways Algorithms Know How You’ll Behave Before You Do and you’ll see that a future not unlike that of Tom Cruise’s in Minority Report isn’t too far fetched.

As ERIC SIEGEL writes:

Prediction as a capability is booming. It reinvents industries and runs the world. More and more, predictive analytics drives commerce, manufacturing, healthcare, government, and law enforcement. In these spheres, organizations operate more effectively by way of predicting behavior—i.e., the outcome for each individual customer, employee, patient, voter, and suspect.

For instance, have you ever wondered how Facebook decides what you see in your news feed?  In theory you should see all of your friend’s posts, but that’s not the case.  Here’s what Facebook actually does:

Facebook: Predicts which of 1,500 candidate posts (on average) will be most interesting to you in order to personalize your news feed. To optimize the order of content items, the News Feed ranking algorithm weights around 100,000 factors such as recency, likes, clicks, shares, comments, time spent on posts, poster popularity, your affinity for the poster and content area, and measures of relevance and trustworthiness. This intensifies the “addictive” engagement, with two-thirds of Facebook’s 1.44 billion monthly users logging in daily.

When was the last time you ordered something from Amazon? There’s a chance that Amazon knew what you were going to order before you did and proactively placed the order at one of its hub or on a truck to reduce any delays between when you placed your order to when you received your purchase.

I haven’t read Eric Siegel’s book – Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die – yet, but I bet Amazon already knows I’m going to buy it and is loading it on a truck as I type!


Social tech

Tech’s latest cash cow

Last night at about 8:30PM my wife’s iPhone suddenly starts pinging.  She got a text message. Then another and another. I think in the end she received something like 25 text messages in the space of about 30 minutes.

For some people, this might be normal. But for my wife, it’s out of character.  She uses her iPhone less than anybody I know.

Turns out, one of her friends had just discovered all the things she could do with iMessage after the latest iOS update.


If you really don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry; you will soon. Apple’s new iMessage app store, introduced just a few weeks ago, is now home to more than 1,250 sticker packs, according to market researcher Sensor Tower Inc. Last month, Twitter released its own promoted sticker selection. Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Google’s new Allo, they’ve all got ’em.

You may be tempted to laugh, but don’t.  These sticker packs are big business.  Take Kimoji for instance:

The $2 Kimoji app, available for Android and iPhones, has been downloaded more than half a million times, according to Sensor Tower. Even though many of the stickers are, as the kids say, NSFW (not suitable for work), the app has made nearly $1.7 million in revenue since its December 2015 launch.

Like ringtones and “Candy Crush” lives before it, the sticker pack is the new digital impulse buy. And the creators and app stores know it. A dollar or two for a sticker pack doesn’t seem that harmful—that is, until you realize you’ve bought 15 or so packs.

You might be asking yourself why.  And the answer, writes Joanna Stern, is:

 A sticker is worth a thousand words, of course. With text-based communication, we miss facial and visual cues. And you know those tiny emojis that come with your phone? They just don’t cut it. With stickers, you turn your boring message transcript into a fun comic book.





Understanding other places

“One place comprehended can make us understand other places better.” So wrote Southern novelist Eudora Welty in her essay “Place in Fiction,” and it’s a concept well worth thinking about in an era in which communities and countries feel paradoxically fractured and all-encompassing, in which people feel torn apart and thrown together, all at once. At times like these, it is not a bad thing to step away from the bigger picture and focus on something smaller, as a way of re-orienting yourself in this world. – from A Nonfiction Map Of The United States

Kristin Iversen has compiled a list of the best pieces of nonfiction — books, essays, memoirs — from every state in the US (plus DC and NYC).  It’s a way, through reading, to get to know a place.

At times like these, it is not a bad thing to step away from the bigger picture and focus on something smaller, as a way of re-orienting yourself in this world.   And what better way to do that than by reading? The very best writing about a place can bring the reader a whole new understanding of a life different than their own, as well as, per Welty, a better grasp of their own place in the world.

Here’s a list from the States I’ve lived in:

New Jersey (my home State): 12 Days of Terror – A definitive investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks, by Richard G. Fernicola

New York: The Most Exclusive Restaurant in America, by Nick Paumgarten

Georgia: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: a Savannah Story, by John Berendt

New Mexico: New Mexico, by D.H. Lawrence

See more…

Life Hacks Video

Meditation 101 – An animated beginner’s guide

I love this:

Despite what you may have heard, meditation does not involve joining a group, paying any fees, wearing any special outfits, sitting in a funny position, or believing in anything in particular.


‘Black or White’ by Michael Jackson Played on 64 Floppy Drives, 8 Hard Drives, and 2 Scanners

This is some totally geeked out stuff, but pretty cool.

Pawel Zadrozniak (a.k.a. “Silent“) recently created a great rendition of the song “Black or White” by Michael Jackson on The Floppotron, which consists of 64 floppy drives, 8 hard drives, and 2 scanners.

Hmmm…I’m looking around my office now to see what I can make music out of.

Blog For your ears

What I’ve been listening to this week

Hmm…lazy Sunday.  But hold on a minute, I had a lazy Saturday.  I probably should unhinge myself from this chair and move my body about today.  Although, saying that, my body is in need of some downtime.  I did move some heavy weights this week, 180kg on the benchpress:

4 plates today! | #Stayfit #benchpress

A video posted by @soulcruzer on

The sun is just starting to make an appearance now.  Perhaps some longboarding or cycling are in order today, but we’ll see…

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been listening to this week:



Let’s Tweetup!

Art is for everybody. It’s not about going to an art gallery where you have to ring the bell to get in.  We don’t want it to feel like it’s prescriptive.  We want you to walk in and look at something and have it resonate and think I love that. – Kate Bramwell

The @leamTweetUp was back in action last night.  I met new Twitter friends and some old Twitter friends who I’ve never actually seen in person before, so that was cool.  The TweetUp was held at the Deasil Art Gallery.

In between activities I spoke to Kate, one of the directors of the gallery.


And here’s a round up of some of the tweets:


fullsizerender-5Rapping with Kate Bramwell, Co-Director of Deasil

My home girl Lisa-Marie Nelson of Spa Town Comics

I’m already looking forward to the next TweetUp! Ok I think that’s it for me now. It’s coming up to 17:00 on a Friday, which definitely means it’s yabba dabba doo time!

Peace and Love,



Steal stuff

You say, ‘I’m going to write something completely new and original and very funny.’ You can’t do it. It’s like trying to fly a plane without having any lessons. You’ve got to start somewhere and the best way to start is by copying something that is really good.

Some good advice from John Cleese for us creative types.  Watch the full video over at Big Think.



What role does outcomes play in your choice of careers?

Ok. Imagine you have just won £10 million in the lottery.  Would you quit your current job or would stay on as if nothing  has changed?

We recorded the next episode of the Havana Cafe Sessions podcast today and our topic was about work and why people do it.  During my conversation with Sarah, I mentioned that a lot of people are stuck in a job that they would happily walk away from if they didn’t need the money.  They stay put, however, for a variety of reasons like fear, comfort, not knowing what else to do, not knowing how to change, or simply because their current financial situation doesn’t allow them to leave.

For those who stay put because of fear or more specifically because of the fear of the unknown, I was wondering would these people change if they knew the outcome of their decision to leave would be favourable.  And inline with the podcast topic of work, would they choose to do work that was more fulfilling and gave them a greater sense of purpose? Is it the unknown outcome that keeps them in place?

What would you do for work/career if you knew with 100% certainty that you would not fail, and that you would be super successful, monetarily and otherwise?



Wisdom Bombs

True riches

Things I got rid of

Things I got rid of

He he…I suppose I could have put my daughter on this list seeing how we sent her off to university on Saturday.  But  you never really get rid of your kids do you?!

Now comes the period of adjustment where we have to get used to being empty nesters. I’m sure I’ll cope just fine, in fact, I’m already starting to plan a few adventures in my head.

My quest for minimalism continues, this week I got rid of 17 items.  That brings me up to a total of 100 items trashed, recycled or given to charity.



For your ears

What I’ve been listening to this week

The weeks are rolling by fast.  I saw someone post yesterday that we’re now into the hundredth day countdown to Christmas! Dude, where did the year go?! Where did time go? Today I’m taking my daughter off to her first year of university and my son has started his last year of university!

I was thinking a lot about life yesterday (I guess having two kids in university does that to you).  And the question that I settled on was ‘what if there is no afterlife or reincarnation?’  What if this is it? And when we’re gone, we’re gone.

If that’s the case, then I want to go do this now:


(via Leap of faith)

I want to base jump and whole lot of other crazy stuff because as Kurgan said:

And on that note, here are the tunes I’ve been listening to this week:


Wisdom Bombs

A burning desire to go


They say you can never go home again

For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world.  In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago or San Francisco.  But New York is no more America than Paris is France or London is England.  Thus I discovered that I did not know my own country.

I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, and the memory is at best a faulty, warpy reservoir.  I had not heard the speech of America, smelled the grass and trees and sewage, seen its hills and water, its color and quality of light.  I knew the changes only from books and newspapers.  But more than this, I had not felt the country for twenty-five years.

Like Steinbeck in Travels with Charley, I have become a stranger to my own country. The last time I was on American soil was November 1995.  I had won a free flight to Boston from one of the daily papers.  At that point, I had been out of the country for a few years so thought to make the best of the trip by flying into Boston and then taking a Greyhound bus from Boston to Georgia  I felt a thousand mile bus journey would help me get reacquainted with my country and its people.  I had also planned to stop along the way to see some of my family.  I have relations all along the east coast of America.  Sad note: I didn’t know this at the time, but this would also be the last time I would see my mother alive.

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.  When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.

I searched my old blog and found these entries from my last visit to the States. It’s funny reading through them after all this time:

Travels to America
Boston to New York
New Jersey
Fat Mike
South Jersey
Missy cont
Newark to Baltimore
Random Dialogue

Once I traveled about in an old bakery wagon, doubled-doored rattler with a mattress on its floor.  I stopped where people stopped or gathered. I listened and looked and felt, and in the process had a picture of my country the accuracy of which was impaired only by my own shortcomings.

I feel like I need to go home again. Where that is I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe I need to do my own version of Travels with Charley and go in search of America.

I wonder what I might find.

So it was that I determined to look again, to try to rediscover this monster land. Otherwise, in writing, I could not tell the small diagnostic truths which are the foundations of the larger truth.

Time to make a plan, I think.  Anyway, if you haven’t read Travels with Charley, it’s a fine read.  In fact, it’s my favourite piece of John Steinbeck writing and it always makes me homesick for the open road and my homeland.

For your ears

Behind the scenes recording the Havana Cafe Sessions podcast

I do a weekly conversational podcast with novelist Sarah Beth Hunt.  We publish a new episode every Monday.  You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen from our website or Facebook page.


The tragedy of Tupac

Wisdom Bombs

When there is no concern

Today’s wisdom is from the Chinese philosopher, Wu Hsin.

The greatest enjoyment is experienced when there is no concern for its duration.

Be in the moment. Enjoy what it is you’re doing without trying to hold on to it or make it last longer or wondering when it’s going to end. A good example of this is when we’re on holiday. We’re loving it and then we inevitably say something like ‘Why can’t life be like this all the time.’ Or as we get midway through the holiday, and coming back home starts to loom on the horizon, we start wishing the holiday didn’t have to end. Instead of doing all that, do as Wu Hsin says and just enjoy the experience without any thought about how long it will last.

When there is indifference to outcomes, one is willing to work with less than ideal means and postponement is avoided.

This bit is hard. We seem forever attached to outcomes. This often translates to hesitation. We hesitate to do something different for fear that it might not turn out well. We hesitate to standup and have our voices heard for fear of sounding foolish. We want all the conditions to be perfect before we begin a new venture, start a new project, pursue a dream or whatever. All because we are attached to the outcome. Better to do as Wu Hsin says and be indifferent to the outcome. What will be will be. Instead focus on what is under your control and disregard the rest. Do your best and the let the outcome take of itself.


Dude! You’re freaking me out.