The best “Trust Hut”

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I was cycling around the outskirts of York the other day when I came across a “Trust Hut”:

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This is a small shack which sells a variety of food and drink for weary travellers but does not have anyone manning the stall. In fact, they rely on the good in humanity to make any money. Everything you take from the Trust Hut has a price, it’s just up to you whether or not you pay it.

There’s no-one around to fully keep tabs on it and all the stock is out for the world to take, the owners just hope they don’t. They even advocate taking things when you don’t have enough money to pay for them, simply put in some extra money the next time you pass by or send them the money afterwards.

It’s an idea which I applaud.

We don’t have a huge amount of trust in our society at the moment. A lot of people will spout individualist ideals which warn us of others and I think that’s sad.

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I like having a basic trust in people. I don’t suggest we give everyone the pin-code to our secret bunker (we all have those right?!), but that we give others the benefit of the doubt until we know a bit better. These people who run the Trust Hut just give others the benefit of the doubt regardless.

Granted, this is a tiny little stall in the middle of nowhere which sells tiny profit margin products and doesn’t have to pay staff wages, but I still think it’s nice.

They’ve got a big garden with sofas and everything. You can just chill and relax whilst sipping on a cold Diet Coke and thinking about how society can be good if we all just get along.

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One of the most admirable (or crazy, depending on who you talk to) things about the Trust Hut is that a week before I arrived, they were robbed of all their stock and all of the money they have raised, yet they kept up with the trusting.

I’m sure this isn’t a new concept but it’s something which I thought said something good about the world. I wonder how well it would work in a city centre when all and sundry would walk by. How much can we trust others? At what price point of goods does the Trust Hut become untenable?

CDs? DVDs? Toasters? Microwaves? TVs? iPhones?

I’d like to find out although I don’t have deep enough pockets to try…

The best way to make small amounts of money from your friends

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friends are money

Look how happy this guy is… that’s because his friends are money

If you’re the sort of person who sits around and wonders why nobody just gives you money, give yourself a thumbs up right now.

You have just passed level one of the money course.

Now, as you well know, successful people don’t see things as things – they see them as money opportunities.

You’re out walking your dog… is the dog paying for this service? No? Well that’s because you’re missing a money opportunity. Your boss talks to you in the car park leaving work. Well time is money Mr Boss man – if you’re not asking for overtime, you’re missing the money.

If you know that things are not things, you’ve just passed level two of the money course.

The biggest money opportunity though is not actually your dog or your boss. It’s those closest to you… your friends and family. I’ll teach you how to get the best rates from a whole range of social activities so that you’ll never work or play for free again.

 

Ok, I’ll stop now.

Although, that is exactly how I’ll start my blog posts when I suddenly become a consultant and start asking to do web seminars with you all…

But I won’t let this blog post just descend into empty nothingness because I do actually want to tell you a story about one time I started making money from my friends.

It was back at uni when ideas seemed better than they do now.

I would start by being very direct, which is my favourite way of asking for something. It would go a bit like this…

Hey Chris, I’m doing this little project where I’m offering my friends compliments… only they’re not free compliments. They actually cost 10 pence each or I can do you three for 20 pence… Are you interested?

Chris would look at me for a second, ask if I was serious and then decide that for 20p it was probably worth it. After all, it’s not everyday that someone asks you to pay to receive a compliment… that sort of thing might make an interesting blog post one day.

So I’d then tell Chris that he had a well-proportioned nose, his clothing was highly practical and he had a strong, trustworthy handshake.

Bam! Suddenly I’d made 20p.

I’d also made Chris feel a bit stupid because I’d given him nothing-compliments – the empty kind. Like hey man you’ve got an excellent stance, or Damn girl, you painted your big toe on your left foot really well – it’s the best painted toe I’ve seen all day.

I guess that was the joke of the whole thing. It kept us entertained a while for sure. But then again, I did keep all the money. So maybe it was more of con than a joke.

But either way, if you want to make small amounts of money from your friends… you know what to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This woman invented ‘clickbait’ and you’ll never guess what she did next…

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Clickbait

The idea of ‘clickbait’ has been around for a long time: someone posts an article with an enticing title, something which gives you very little information, and the article subsequently gets a lot of hits as people try to satisfy their curiosity.

Now, plenty of websites do this an awful lot. It’s absolutely everywhere. Chances are the majority of your newsfeed on Facebook is taken up by clickbait articles. More people click them so they move higher up your feed despite the original article having very little substance at all. Apparently Facebook is attempting to limit these however I’m still bombarded with them all the time.

But I seem to be straying off topic – what about the woman who invented clickbait? What did she do next?

Honestly, I’ve got no idea.

In fact, the picture at the top of this post is of a woman who denounces clickbait and even did a TED talk on it. It may not have been a woman who invented it, maybe it was a man, maybe it was a team. I’ve got no idea.

So why did I lure you in with false advertising? Well, it’s an experiment.

That’s right! You jus’ got experimented on foo’!

I tried to create a simple, clickbait-like title, to see if it would work for us, despite not being one of those huge websites.

If you did click on a link to this blog because you wanted to know what happened to the woman and I successfully lured you in then I hope you don’t feel angry. I’m pretty sure I would be.

disgustedbaby

I’d be all like this if it were me…

But you can become part of this experiment yourself. Please share this article on your Facebook page with a short and unrevealing comment like ‘Interesting’ or ‘Wow’ or ‘Shucks! I woudda ne’er seen that ‘un coming!’ and we can see if a whole load more clicks come our way. We can see if Jon and I can create clickbait.

As with any good experiment I will analyse the results carefully and ensure they are only shared if they prove my theory and/or are interesting. If there is no difference, well, we just sweep the results under the rug and pretend like this never happened…

The best tangent ever used by a journalist

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spider bite

Journalists always have a word count to hit. Sometimes that means cramming all their ideas into a tiny space, cutting out more than half the original content. But other times it means stretching the news, adding in little facts, unimportant quotes and generally filling up the space.

The latter scenario is excellent because it leaves room for people to make interesting decisions. Like sure I’m writing a story about a jail breakout in Sussex, but wouldn’t my readers also like to know that the dialling code there is 01273 and that England’s first casino was opened in Brighton?

Well, of course they want to know, because I just hit my word count.

But possibly the best tangent used in a news article ever, comes in a simple story about some spider eggs that were found in a bunch of bananas…

Now it turns out that these were eggs from the world’s most poisonous spider and that poor Abby Woodgate had to burn her hoover and her bin – anything that had touched the eggs – to get rid of the problem. I think Tesco replaced the burnt stuff though.

But the problem is I just told the story in about 50 words. And that’s bad because you probably would feel short changed at that. I could add in a few more details, a couple of relevant quotes. But don’t you think it’s still missing something?

Like a classic mention of erectile dysfunction maybe?

I was pretty surprised to see this little paragraph…

Although its [The Brazilian Wandering Spider’s) venom is highly toxic, it is being studied for use in erectile dysfunction treatments. The spider’s bite can cause an erection that sometimes lasts for up to four hours.

Sorry, what?

How did we get to talking about that?

That exctract actually makes up the 5th paragraph of this 20+ paragraph article. What about Abby Woodgate? What about the sack of spider eggs? Should we not prioritise those things?

Nope, you must hear about erectile dysfunction instead. Despite no spider bites or any actual men with erectile dysfunction involved in this story.

But what a great tangent! Mark Tran (the writer) has seen a fact about these spiders and he’s run with it. It’s not particularly relevant but it sure is interesting.

But then Mark stops talking about it and returns to his original story. And I’m left with unanswered questions…

Like how did anyone ever find that out? And why does this spider have magical powers? And has anyone with erectile dysfunction ever been bitten by one of these things and died a bitter-sweet death?

The start of one problem leads to the end of another… but then the new problem kills you.

I guess I’ll just have to leave my questions unanswered. But some of you extra-keen types can research more if you want.

The rest of you guys will just have to be content with a picture of this party-hard spider…

 

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes and say AYO!

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes and say AYO!

 

(Update: A little more research shows that the Daily Mail, not normally associated with high amounts of class, actually waited right until the end of their article before sharing the erection news… )

The best way to tell if a coffee shop takes their coffee seriously

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Newcastle

Doesn’t Newcastle look cool…

I was recently taken on a tour of some Newcastle coffee shops and it was eye-opening – I never realised how little I knew about coffee.

The first cafe we entered was called Flat Caps Coffee. Its name evokes a traditional, hearty and down-to-earth place, where you’ll get a no-nonsense mug of joe. How wrong I was.

As you come in to Flat Caps, you’re struck by the number of awards they have won and the competitions they have entered. It’s relatively intimidating and a world away from the farmer-esque assumptions I had made about the place prior to entering.

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This is someone from Flat Caps making coffee in a way akin to a more sinister type of chemistry

Granted, I am no connoisseur of coffee (in fact, I deliberately avoided it until I discovered a love for Turkish coffee with sugar) but this coffee shop was largely confusing. There were three different beans, hot or cold, siphon or filter and plenty of other choices aside, which meant I struggled to order the simplest of things.

Despite my confusion, I settled with a macchiato and I was ready to enjoy my coffee. It was served to me after a 10 or so minute wait (you can’t rush these things…) but it was devoid of sugar. Now, still being infantile in my coffee loving, I require sugar to make it taste a bit better so I looked around. Not a sugar to be seen. I asked for sugar and it was duly brought to me from a hiding place under the counter.

Who hides the sugar?! It’s normally out for the world to see.

THIS. IS. SUGAR.

THIS. IS. SUGAR.

I felt sad because I couldn’t drink my coffee sans-sweetener and that I had let Mr. Flat Cap down, however he was civil about it and didn’t make a fuss.

Which leads me onto coffee shop number two.

This was near the train station and is called Pink Lane Coffee. It’s a nice place with a shabby-ish chic-ish look to it. Tables here and there. Nooks and crannies to fall into and only come out once you’ve completed all the ‘work’ you have to do on your Mac. It even comes complete with its own selection of classic novels which have definitely not been read.

Pink lane

Once again I was faced with a wide selection of beans which I didn’t know much what to do with. I stared blankly at the menu board and eventually chose one from some far off land because it sounded nice.

The espresso took 10 or so minutes to arrive and it was also noticeably devoid of sugar. Why won’t they just give me some sugar?!

So I returned to the counter and proceeded to ask for the sugar. This was countered by the statement: “we recommend that you try our coffees without sugar beforehand as we believe they are sweet enough already.” She then reached for the ‘hidden’ (and probably contraband) sugar which was tucked away in the depths of their shelves.

Now I felt terrible. I had let down another barista and their look of derision hurt. I tried the espresso without the granulated joy and promptly decided I had known best in the first place – in the sugar went.

And so this is how you know when you’re at a cafe which takes their coffee seriously: they’ll hide the sugar from you because, in actuality, sugar is for wimps…

The best way to make the craziest things seem real

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The problem that a lot of people have with fantasy, science fiction, and sometimes just standard fiction – is that it’s not real. Some people can’t escape the shackles of reality to enjoy a story about a talking bear or a Klingon – because neither of those things actually exist.

But these stories are about human experiences – because that’s who they were written by and for. In fact at their best they offer a new perspective on humanity – you find out something new, something deeper about yourself.

Even the wackiest science fiction has something to say about real life – especially if it makes it all the way to Hollywood.

The most important thing for me is that I believe in the characters – if Gandalf is a wizard that’s fine, but if Gandalf feels like an inconsistent character who switches personalities all the time – you can count me out.

But this isn’t enough for everyone. Some people would prefer a documentary about plankton. They counter the boring by reassuring themselves that this did actually happen. The plankton may never do anything especially interesting but, look, there they are, no CGI involved.

I don’t understand that viewpoint but I do understand that it exists.

So to help these truth-seekers, I’ve discovered a beautiful way of making crazy, fictional concepts seem very real indeed.

All you have to do is make a boring leaflet about it…

jurassic important

 

This came from a Jurassic Park twitter account and it’s actually incredible.

They’ve taken the mad concept of having real life dinosaurs among us, and turned it into a slightly boring leaflet that you don’t really want to read. They make dinosaurs seem as real as dishwashers.

The boring, matter-of-fact language lets my guard down, just for a second, makes my little heart believe in modern day dinosaurs.

So, if you struggle with fictional things, take a quick read of this leaflet and accept Jurassic World as you would a leaflet about road safety.

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So boring, so real.

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The real-life brand names make me believe even more

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I really want to go to the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo… please?

jurrasic leaflet

Ah excellent, a handy map

 

Of course there is the distinct possibility that this might not work and actually I’m just really gullible.

The best travel squash

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There comes a time in every person’s life when they need a bit of flavour, particularly in their water. Squash is a good shout, but what if you’re travelling, if you’re carrying around your own drinks?

It can be impractical to take a huge bottle of squash around with you, so what do you do?

Let me introduce you to Robinson’s Squash’d – the super-concentrated version of Robinson’s classic drink.

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It’s great! One 66ml bottle of Squash’d is equivalent to a regular bottle of squash. I’ve got no idea how they’ve done this but it really is brilliant idea.

You can forever carry one round with you and use it if you need a quick hit of squash. Go out and buy one. It’ll be worth it…

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