She means business

While doing some research around Living a conscious life. I was pleasantly surprised to find Carrie Green had included part of a conversation following the Tedx talk above, with her in North Tea Power in her book.

When I discovered this, I decided well I might as well get a copy for my ever growing library. Today I got my copy…

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

Thank you again Carrie for the quote and everything, I will never forget the moment.

Thought’s watching undressed s1ep9

Watching undressed s1ep9 with friends

I don’t remember much of it as I was drinking red wine from Bucharest with large vodka shots every time it gets a little awkward. It seems to be the new drinking game people are doing around the Undressed TV show.

Little rewind…

Jane sent me an email about a new TV show called undressed which was based around the 36 questions to fall in love. I poo-pooed the whole thing a year earlier and then though got to be in it to really have a proper view on it. So I signed up, slightly fueled with Simon’s comment of if there’s a chance to have a great experience and walk with a great story, having not hurt/killed yourself or harmed anyone else. You should do it!

So I signed up and got the call from the researcher, which lead me to realise I would be in my boxers while experiencing accelerated intimacy with a total stranger. After looking it up and finding the italian series then experiencing one of the most insane skype calls/audition I ever will experience. Answering lots of OKcupid style questions, being matched, tickets to Wimbledon, shooting the whole thing, meeting a wonderful woman (Jess) on the foot of a bed. Then whisked away to catch a plane to Berlin the next morning.

I wrote up how I felt about the whole experience on the train home from London. Then after getting the confirmed date of me and Jess’s show date, we decided to record a 90min podcast which is really worth listening to the 90min podcast in mp3, ogg even torrent.

Ok all caught up

Mild spoilers contained below!

Then Friday 12th Aug evening comes around. I have something quick to eat, take some antihistamines (my friends have a cat) wait for them to kick in, then head to their flat with a bottle of Bucharest wine and some olives. We chat for a bit about the trailer for the show which I am in and caused a little stir with friends on fb, and start watching the show.

Bear in mind, by the end I was pretty drunk from shots of vodka on top of wine. But it was certainly cringy but I have to say it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I had thought of them really turning it into a joke and frankly the chemistry and intimacy between myself and Jess certainly did shine through. They left out a lot of the conversation between us, I guess our conversation was too intellectual and progressive for 10pm TV on a subscription channel. Maybe a conversation about feminism sat next to “Say yes to the dress” would put viewers off?

Maybe the moment I realised Undressed wasn’t about the questions undressing the other person but much more literally. I should have known better than start a progressive discussion about feminism? Interestingly although they cut out the feminism discussion (not a single thing is left of that) and removing our talk about each others background; which I thought they would leave especially since the description makes reference to Jess being well-travelled. They kept a small part of the Sapiosexual discussion. I’m sure Tom would love to hear the whole thing. I also found it interesting that they removed all references to Jess being bisexual too. Too much for the “say yes to the dress” audience to handle at 10pm?

Myself and Jess did wonder if they would green screen the backdrop with orders and questions, or even put stupid things up to replace them. Especially the order to “Undress” Which never happen due to our nature to just go for it. I mean why waste time, there’s much more interesting things to get into.

There was a lot of shots of my builders bum, which wasn’t great but to be fair I had to buy new underwear specially for the show and never worn them before. I’m pretty glad nothing else was focused on, or at least I spotted nothing in HD.

The feedback has generally been really positive…

Thanks Anders, my very old neighbour from Bristol. I felt happy that I was portaied in a decent enough manor. Natalie said I was kind and courteous towards Jess which was lovely to see. I’m a gentleman and would have been pretty pissed off if edited to look like a total dick. Likewise Jess I felt came across well, shes a lovely woman with her own mind and opnions and that came across I felt.

When one of my Newcastle mother hens says something like this, you can’t help but smile quite a bit. I haven’t quite told my parents about the show going out this week. That will be the difficult conversation later on tonight on the phone.

I always compared it to the way some people will free climb a building (you know who you are Max), jump out of an airplane or perform a 900 on a skateboard at the age of 48! Most of us think they are simply crazy or extremely brave (or at least I do). To them its pushing their limits and they likely stand back and say wow that was great.

I was never going to jump out a plane or free climb a building, but I pushed my limits like I always said I would and gained a new friendship.

Thanks Julie who I haven’t seen in ages

Is it guts, stupidity or just taking a chance? We split the bill on the second date as all should do regardless (imho).

Would I do it again? Nope, its one of those one time deals. I was very fortunate to have such a great woman who instantly got me and I got her. I feel if I was ever to do it again, I wouldn’t be so lucky and end up with someone much less interesting.

I have to give a plus one to the production crew, they did a great job matching us and further proves its not about the algorithms.

It’s slighly by fluke that I posted about not living a normal life just before the showing of undressed. But it certainly stands… Last year going to Tokyo, this year appearing on TV (twice!) and in my underwear. I mean if anything the willingness to undress and be undressed is pretty powerful.

Jessica and Ian

Whats planned for next year? Who knows…

Ambient intimacy the new loneliness?

A few weeks ago I took part in the eye contact experiment in Sheffield. The purpose was to connect with a fellow human being in a way we usually avoid in modern society.

I have already wrote about the use of Mobile technology in Japan and crossed it with the selfie craze. But I have to admit although the selfie/narcissism was bad. There was a low level almost ambient undertone to the silence of people looking at rectangular LCD screen.

Japan is always known as way ahead of the curve. When most of us were still using desktops and laptops to connect the internet, residents of Japan were using their phones. Theres many other examples but I spotted something which deeply worries me. Sherry Turkle’s connected alone was playing out everywhere you went.

I was in the queue for a rollercoaster and 4 guys were standing in silence through out the whole 40-50min queue. There were each transfixed to their phones not uttering a single word till we finally got on the ride and then they were best buds, laughing and chatting away. I saw them again later (the theme park wasn’t that busy and isn’t that big – about the size of Thorpe Park) and it was more of the same.  They may have been playing the same game but together they were alone.

Alone together

Sad as it may be (you could say its part of the Japanese culture, but I’m not so sure), you are seeing more and more of this. And its not just a age thing. The online world can be very seductive and some people forget the offline world for many reasons. Maybe things are difficult there, things are not going so well, they can be somebody else?

Sounds familiar right? Some people have been calling it ambient intimacy, something I heard a lot time ago but hadn’t really stop and thought about.

I  forgot the term, which I saw as the logical conclusion of what I saw in Japan and seeing to a lesser degree here. I first wrote about it when listening to Leisa Reichelt talking at the future of webapps 2007.

This thought catalogue piece sums up quite a bit is the new loneliness

Our generation of sadness and loneliness is of the unchecked variety. Of wallowing. Of letting ourselves be disconnected from both others and ourselves. Learning to soothe more than heal. Learning to put a band-aid on problems instead of working through and solving our problems. If something is not immediate, we don’t want it, even if it’ll make us stronger. We’re not growing as people, not really. We’re shoving away “bad feelings” we don’t want to face by clicking, refreshing, scrolling until we’ve numbed ourselves out enough. It’s addiction.

I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me about the massive effect grindr is having on the gay men of Manchester. The once vibrant gay village of canal street is now full of hen parties and hetrosexual men chasing them. The gay men so addicted to the new reality of grindr, they don’t waste time meeting/socialising down canal street, when there is a sea of faces and other parts of the body on the comfort of your screen. Of course there is human contact but its short lived, fleeting but also highly charged and very exciting.  If its not, don’t worry theres other fields to go explore and why not?

This is something I talked about during my ragged talk.

In years, decades to come will we see the ambient intimacy the same way as we see smoking now? Or if Adrian Hon is right, eating meat?

I’m confident that in a hundred years, eating meat will be regarded in the negative way we now view racism or sexism – an ugly, demeaning, and unnecessary act. Like smoking, it will simply fall out of fashion because we’ll find better and healthier alternatives, although we’ll still occasionally eat humanely reared-and-killed animals. Note that I still eat meat even though I should know better.

If there was one picture which sums up this slow backlash, it has to be this one… removed.


As the author says…

The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before. Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves.

I saw it a while ago but frank reminded me of the picture while we were talking about the eye contact event.

There was a number of talks at Thinking Digital Manchester which strayed deep into this area., including our own workshop.  Authenticity was the word of the moment. Be yourself and talk with a human voice. Something the Cluetrain Manifesto talks a lot about.

I have bounced back and forth and about this whole thing, creating many revisions (62 to be honest) and drafts of this blog post.

Part of me wonders if this is just the new reality and I’m actually just getting old?

Who couldn’t be excited by the new possibilities to be connected to many people at the same time? Jason Silva called itcollapsing geography with cellphone wormholes. However this also pulls us out of the moment (must finish reading Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock) creating physical barriers with the people we spending time with. Maybe its the intent or even the lack of intent which is the problem?

Like checking your phone at the table, your subconscious intent is that the current situation isn’t interesting enough to fully engage? Or a sign we feel strangely lonely?  The fear of missing out is a double edged sword, and is a really strong motivator in this all. Then throw in the paradox of choice and you have a recipe for long term problems. This is what I thought when I first heard the term present shock to be honest.

Mozfest Global Village

This was some of the motivation behind a short pathway of two great sessions at Mozfest 2015. Hacking Mental Health: Changing Views in Tech and Happiness in the digital era. (reminds me of  The Practice of Happiness workshop by Bobby Paterson at Thinking Digital 2011). We even ran our own eye contact experiment in the crazy space of Mozfest.

Eye contact at Mozfest Global Village

With all this playing on my mind (and the fact its a link between all the events over the last few weeks)…

I bought a copy of Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. I decided enough with the drafts, I’m putting this thought on hold for a further blog post or maybe a discussion some day?

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed


I am in love with this idea right now… It comes from something I heard on NPR’s Ted hour about making mistakes.

The show is made up of a few TED talks but groups them together under one general theme. In the part which made me pick up my ears, a bunch of jazz musicians, improvise around each other and their mistakes (as such).

HARRIS: So someone could conceptually perceive that as a mistake. And the only way that I would say it was a mistake is in that we didn’t react to it. It was an opportunity that was missed. So it’s unpredictable, we’ll paint this palette again, he’ll play it. I don’t know how we’ll react to it, but something will change. We’ll all accept his ideas or not.

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed!

Collaboration or as I’m reminded by Jon, CoDesign is based on these principles. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

It’s much more organic, much more nuance, it’s not about bullying my vision or anything like that, it’s about being here in the moment, accepting one another, and allowing creativity to flow.

Beautifully said…!

Getting over the fear of rejection…

Don't be afraid of rejection ~ don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!

There’s something which holds back many people from what they really want. Its the fear of rejection…

As most people know too well, the fear of rejection is a nasty fear… It can be totally inhibiting.

I could wittier on about it being a self-fulfilling prophecy, the nature of fear and what fear is… but frankly I’d rather not.

Personally I don’t claim to have the answer to the fear of rejection, I like everyone also fear rejection but deal with it in a different way.

You can watch me present on stage too but I would like to expand on the later part.

When I was lying in my hospital bed I thought a lot, maybe far too much. It was like my sabbatical (best way I can describe it?). I thought about many things. How my life was, what I had done with it and now I have a second chance what I’m going to do different.

When I finally made it to the next year’s Thinking Digital, I was at one of the workshops with talking about happiness. A couple things really hit me…


We have 60,000 thought’s a day 95% of those are the same as yesterday… 80% of those are negative thoughts

Fear is in the mind, we build it up in our mind till its inhibiting and all consuming. Now I understand better than most about what fear can do. I was terrified of needles and I still don’t like them but I faced my fear with hyponosis. I remember years ago people asking me if I needed to have a shot to save my life what would I do… Jokingly I would reply knock myself out and then let them do it, or just take my chances. Generally I was suggesting for real, than I would consider death over having a injection.

Sounds insane but thats how bad my fear was…

Our minds are incredible, we can achieve such great things, ponder infinity, dream about the impossible, conjure technology and spread our thoughts far and wide. Our minds can literally out do the matter.

So whats this got to do with the fear of rejection (if you’ve not worked it out already). The human mind’s capacity is endless limitless but fear holds it back from its true potential.

How I look at the fear of rejection…

One More Thing, Steve!

Death is the destination we all share, no one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life (…) Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life  – Steve Jobs (2005. Stanford University)

Once again while in that hospital bed, I thought about things and decided on the grand scale of my life. These moments of fear should/will not dominate my life and if so they are purely a blip in the graph. One which I won’t remember in many many years to come. With that in mind, I do things and not worry about the social ramifications as much, just telling myself whats the worst than can happen?. Don’t get me wrong I do wonder (rather than worry) but I don’t let it grow in my mind. If I want something I’ll go and get it, make it happen, make it so.

I refuse to live someones life, expectations, fears. Don’t waste your life living someones life

Nothing spreads like fear

Contagion (2011)

Had the joy of seeing Contagion last Wednesday at the Salford Cinema Club.

After which I had to call my ex-wife to discuss.

Sarah had applied to join the Centre for Diseases and Control (CDC) back before we ever met and although she didn’t get the position, she later did get into the Heath Protection Agency (HPA) which seems to be the UK equivalent. So we use to sometimes talk about her role on the Tuberculosis register. Most people don’t know but tuberculosis is still a major killer…

Around 9000 cases of TB are currently reported each year in the United Kingdom. Most cases occur in major cities, particularly in London.

Although TB infection and Epidemiology was interesting it was generally not so bad (relevantly talking, specially if your one of the people unlike to spend time in a crack den or a shady part of the inner city) when Alexander Litvinenko (the russian spy) was poisoned using radiation. The whole of the HPA went into overdrive.

Sarah was working something like 18hour days 7 days a week while they attempted to track what happened, who he had been in contact with, who they had been in contact with, for how long, where, etc, etc…

Contagion lasts 31 days and its so clear how the panic and fear spreads so quickly.

I won’t spoil it for anyone, but lets just say it seems so hollywood how quick it spreads and the mis-information which spreads with it. I say hollywood but actually I remember Sarah telling me some of the serious concens people had when phoning up the HPA hotline. Of course, I expect all those are confidential, but the thing which got me was the fear and confusion in peoples questions. The frequency of questions was also mind blowing… 100’s seems low from what I remember Sarah saying.

Panic grew when the HPA tried to track down people who possibly might have been infected. Many more called to check there own status. (I think I’m ok saying), some people who happened to be in the same bar 7 days before the poisoning called because they were deeply worried about themselves. I’m not a epidemiologist but this has got to be panic and frankly stupid (waiting for someone to say actually I’m wrong).

Anyway, I felt the film give a true but fictional account of the issues with tracking down sources, which information to spread and how difficult it is to synthesis cures fit for humans. In fact on the last one, it seems quite a few of our cures started life by being tested by its creators.

I did feel the film didn’t take advantage of the mutation of viruses specially when vaccine is available in only a smaller set of the population. Sarah use to point out this problem with parents not allowing there kids to get the MMR vaccine. (once again I’m not a epidemiologist) from memory, Its becomes a problem when there are parts of the population which are protected and others which are not. The virus can mutate, become stronger and even over throw the current vaccine. This is not good! I won’t say which part of the film but I thought this was coming…

During the credits, the cinema going public was silent. The dead silence just hung there in the air, people got up and left with the minimum of fuss and noise. It was like everyone knew this was going to happen and each of us was powerless to stop it.

Sarah always said and did say again, we are well overdue another worldwide epidemic. I felt the film, did a very good job of reinforcing this…. I certainly will want to see this again, and I’ve offered to take Sarah and her new husband along because I really want to get the insiders perspective on what they think of the film and how it covers parts.

Mind over the matter

My bleeding finger after a small blood test

Some of you know I have a couple of great fears in my life.

  • dogs
  • needles and/or injections

I’ve been bitten by dogs many times, the last time I was walking along a quiet street and a little yappy dog came out of the front garden where the owner was cutting the hedge. Walked across the road and came up behind me, then bite me on my lower right leg! Then ran off back inside. The owner instantly ran over and took me to hospital in a car.

But for my fear of dogs, living with one for over a year was one heck of a challenge. Yep after marrying my ex-wife, she brought her dog (jack) over to the UK. I got use to him after a while, and although I’m still fearful of them I’m not so bad now. However my fear of needles has never been damped in actual fact it maybe gotten worst over time.

So why the fear?

  • Well I’ve had a few negative experiences which I still remember
  • When I was about 2, my mother took me to have my vaccinations and when the needle was going in to my arm I felt the pain. I reached out and made a grab for the needle, therefore prolonging the whole experience.
  • When I was at school, someone had TB so of course everyone had to have a injection, just in case. I find ways to put the whole thing off for about a year! In the end they got me and the nurses told me I almost crushed there hands when having the injection.
  • I had a volleyball injury and went to see the doctor to get my finger sorted out. It was going slightly green from all the puss in my finger. Anyway, the doctor looked at it, turned around and asked me to hold my hand out. When he turned back around, he held my arm and whipped out a needle from his other hand. He then quickly pierced/stabbed my finger with the needle and let the puss drip out along with some blood. It was so quick and caught me by such a surprise I was in total shock and threaten to call the police.
  • Every time I go to have anything done at a hospital, they want to do a Sickle cell test before anything else. So a while ago I had surgery on my arm and they did a test. This time they put some pads of creams on the back of my hand to "relax the skin" left it there for about 45mins. Then proceeded to give me a very very painful blood tests in the back of my hand (hence the antiseptic pads don’t work). However I had hidden in the bathroom for the 2nd round. It took 3 doctors to drag me kicking and screaming to get me out and and ready for the 2nd injection.

So yep I’m seriously terrified, and trust me I got more storys/experiences.

Blood testing kit


I’ve been carrying this fear for ages and well frankly I was willing to try anything to get over it. I even considered taking drugs to numb the effects of the needle. So I decided before I go to such extremes I should try hypnotherapy.

I asked the team of physiotherapist at Manchester Hospital and they suggested I check out a portal site for hypnotherapy. Having found a couple in central Manchester, I sent out emails and Shannon douglas from Mind body balance studio, replied with a nice email suggesting I come in for a free session to discuss everything. So I did and thats where it all started.

Shannon is a interesting ex-pat Australian, shes relatively young, very thin, some would say attractive and quite charming. When I say charming, I don’t mean in a creepy, social engineering type of way. Actually shes more innocent and caring that I imagined. My natural barrier were very high when I first stepped in the room but I started to relax with everything that she said. What really got me was the fact that she was newly registered on the NHS referral index and that she could do it in 3 sessions (each session being 1 hour long).

After the first session, Shannon put me under for about 20mins. It seemed like 5mins. (when I say put me under, I really mean put me in a very relaxed state where I’m more receptive to external ideas, it not like how you imagine hypnosis to be (stage hypnosis for example) its quite relaxing and your mind won’t do anything you don’t want to do. Its like giving up smoking, you can only really do it if you REALLY want to) The great thing is that the sessions are recorded and Shannon puts them on Cd for you to listen to later in your own home. She recommends listening to them everyday between the sessions. Its works well because you can really relax in your own home and listen carefully to Shannons voice.

Funny enough Shannon uses a dj app (Virtual dj) to mix between tunes when your under as she reads aloud the pre-paired personalised script. Shannon’s great at what she does but shes not very technically savvy, We did talk about ways to improve her web profile but thats for another day. Back to the therapy and I’ll skip to the last session.

The last session

In the last session (the bridge session, as I’ll call it) Shannon asked me to look around the room afterwards. I noticed the sharps bin (yellow) behind her massive microscope. I also started wondering why she had the sharps bin and the massive microscope. Anyway she explained she does Blood analysis too and showed me what was in the bin. There were these little grey cartridges which Shannon showed me had a needle in it. They were small and very compact. I played with one for a while and Shannon showed me how it works by pushing the orange stick in and twisting it off. Then she pricked her finger by pressing the button and put the blood on a slide which went under the microscope.

It was amazing to see the blood cells so close up, I’ve never seen them like that before and Shannon pointed out certain things in her own blood. You could see tons of red blood cells, white blood cells and many more parts (I wasn’t that bothered what was there, just seeing them so close up, got me going). Anyway, I started wondering what my own blood looks like. My curiosity has just over taken my fear and I think Shannon knew this or at least identified this. The only thing was that I would need to give myself a blood test if I was going to find out.

So after a long long time, I plucked up enough courage to do it. I was almost crying before I did it but I did it!

The relief of doing it was almost unbearable, it was like something had been lifted off of me. Shannon was amazed and was close to tears herself, as she said,

"You’ve come such a long way, in such a short time. Carrying around all that fear for decades must have been debilitating… I’m so proud of you"

And honestly I believe she really meant it.

Blood testing kit

My Fear is gone?

So is it gone? Well not exactly… But I feel much more at ease with the idea of injections. I can now also watch a blood test on the TV without turning away like I use to. I still don’t like it but in my mind everything seems a lot clearer that before. Its like the grey cloud has been broken up into small manageable chunks. Its all very impressive and I’m sure the Cds will come in useful for future events.

The power of the mind is unmeasurable, this is part of the reason why I’m so interested in the flickr for dreams startup, mydreamscape. As Cob
b in inception says

"planting a seed in someone’s mind could define a man; change him"

Shannon’s hyponotherapy certainly has helped me change my perspective on this fear I’ve been living with for decades. I wish I had it done it years ago. Thank you Shannon, I hope things pick up for you, but doing some of the things I suggested might help too. This is a giant step forward and my life will change for ever more because of this…