Category Archives for "Odd and Fun"

Nov 23

Can you Trick People Into Improving Their Lives?

By bonusadm | Odd and Fun


Whether personal or professional, change is hard. And the cumulative data is not on our side. Take something obviously detrimental, like smoking. A mere 4% to 7% of people successfully quit without the aid of medication or outside help.

Even experiencing a traumatic event like the death of a loved one or being diagnosed with cancer only leads to a 20% success rate. Not to be a killjoy, but as the Washington Post found, roughly 25% of New Year resolutions fall apart within the first two weeks. And even when it comes to our work where moneys on the line 70% of [management-led] transformation efforts fail. So why is change such a struggle?

Dan Ariely, best-selling author of Predictably Irrational and professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, explains it like this: Usually when people approach solving problems, they think, Lets just give people some information and then theyll make the right decision, he said. As natural as this educational approach feels, it doesnt work. For example, posting caloric facts on the side of a Snickers bar does little to deter us when its 10 pm and the craving hits. Equally fruitless are traditional applications of so-called willpower.

Change, in Arielys words, comes not from the inside, but the outside. If you want people to lose weight, give them a smaller plate. You have to change the environment. Today, our dominant environment is digital, which is why Arielys foundation The Center for Advanced Hindsight teamed up with Chris Ferguson, CEO of the Ontario-based design firm Bridgeable, and convened a three-day workshop last October with thirty different financial institutions from all parts of North America.

Their goal was to explore how technology could play a role in transforming borrowers into savers (i.e., positive social and personal change). However, dont let the financial scope fool you. People are people and changing your own habits as well as designing apps and workflows for the good demand understanding how humans make decisions. So before digging into Ariely and Fergusons answer the one theyre banking on lets take a look at six psychological triggers that give us a fighting chance in the war on change.

Human decision making: 6 triggers for change

In his modern-day classic Influence, Robert B. Cialdini describes two models of human decision making. The first he calls controlled responding, a thorough analysis of all of the information. The second is known as “judgmental heuristics,” essentially “mental shortcuts,” also known as cognitive biases or “triggers” that allow for “simplified thinking.” As much as we like to envision ourselves as controlled responders, human beings are far more prone to the second mode. In fact, prone is probably too light a word.

The reality is, mental shortcuts run our lives: From the routes we drive, to the foods we eat, right down to the jobs and mates we choose. Cialdini wasnt the first to notice this. Moneyball author Michael Lewis recent book, The Undoing Project, chronicles the multi-decade shift in both economics and psychology away from the thesis that humans are essentially rational creatures in cognitive control of their decisions.

In its place, a new understanding of decision making has emerged, one in which heuristics, hardwired mechanisms, and triggers stand out. For Ariely and Ferguson, six of these triggers bear special attention. Default bias In 2003, Eric J. Johnson and Daniel G. Goldstein discovered that the organ donation rate in two European countries Hungary and Denmark differed wildly. The first boasted 99.997% and the second, 4.25%. What explained this night and day difference? Turns out, a box. Or rather, the language surrounding one box in particular.

In Hungary, organ donation was the DMVs default option; its citizens had to opt out if they didn’t want to participate. In Denmark, it was the opposite. In other words, the easiest option is the automatic option and therefore whatever is framed as default usually wins. Friction costs People are easily deterred from taking action. We prefer the path of least resistance. And, of course, inertia doing nothing is always the easiest thing to do. Friction costs refer to any obstacles or perceived speed bumps that complicate an action. Reducing friction costs has become a cornerstone of ecommerce giants like Amazon who’ve built empires around saving your payment and shipping information so that purchasing is as easy as one click. But this also holds true interpersonally.

One of the driving reasons people stay in unfulfilling relationships is that the cost of extricating themselves appears to outweigh the cost of one-off disturbances, despite the fact those one-off disturbances add up over time. Anchoring At the risk of stating the obvious, first impressions matter and not just in our personal lives. When making decisions, people automatically elevate whatever information they encounter first, and anchoring means that this first impression isn’t just more powerful than subsequent evidence, it also becomes the organizing principle (or, frame) thereafter.

For instance, if the first test in a job interview reveals an applicants strengths, then evaluators unthinkingly rate the applicant’s subsequent tests higher, even when they have little or nothing to do with the first. Humans latch onto first impressions, and letting go of them is harder than you think. Pre-commitment Consistency acting in accordance with our previous decisions and actions is a potent mental force. This is due partly to the fact that change is difficult (see Friction Costs).

But it also stems from our desire to protect our egos as well as to simplify decision making. In the 1960s, when two psychologists asked California homeowners to erect a public-service billboard on their front lawns reading, Drive Carefully, they were met with an average rejection rate of 83%. One subset, however, turned the tables on that average and complied to the request at 76%. Why? Because un-benounced to the two psychologists, one week earlier a separate organization had asked residents to place an unobtrusive Be a Safe Driver sign in their window. Securing small, voluntary commitments is a cornerstone of any large and lasting change.

Present bias Humans are myopic creatures. We live in the moment. Its not that we dont worry about the future or dwell on the past; fear and loss are the two most powerful human emotions. Its more that were terrible at projecting our current reality into whats going to happen next, especially when that next is five, ten, or even twenty years in the future. Hyperbolic discounting turning a future positive into a present negative is one way of dragging those inevitabilities into the here and now.

Social proof No man is an island, wrote John Donne. He was right. When it comes to making decisions especially decisions surrounded by high levels of mystery or insecurity we look to see what other people are doing. The principle of social proof is why Yale University discovered that if you want people to reduce the amount of bottled water they consume, presenting facts about negative environmental impacts works best only when preceded by social proof that others have already started to behave pro-environmentally. Each the above triggers, often called cognitive biases, work their way from outside in. They’re extensions of Arielys basic contention that our best shot at change comes from our environment. But can an app truly change human behavior?

Rigging the mind with an app

Naturally, the answer is yes. As proof we need look no further than the plethora of examples Nir Eyal presented in Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. From social media platforms to free games like Candy Crush and Farmville, apps have the power to shape (and even reshape) our lives. In Eyals words: To build a habit-forming product, makers need to understand which user emotions may be tied to internal triggers and know how to leverage external triggers to drive the user to action.

The real question is: Can an app change human behavior for the good? After all, its one thing to hook someone with an app that delivers endorphins the way gambling or junk food does (neither of which Eyal argues for). Its another thing altogether to hook someone with an app aimed at changes we wat but struggle desperately to implement. To answer that question, heres a sneak peek at Ariely and Fergusons current prototype and how theyre using the principles mentioned above. Just remember: Each of these triggers are hardwired into the human mind. That means your own changes personal, professional, and technological should lean on them too.


Making good change easier Its true: as humans, were terrible at change. But that doesn’t mean the fight is in vain. Instead, the implications of behavioral economics alongside the broader sciences of human decision making weve touched on should push us in two directions. First, on the personal front, change works from the outside in. If you want to lose weight, buy a smaller plate. We set ourselves up for success or failure not because of internal factors like willpower, motivation, and drive, but because of external factors.

Lasting change isn’t as much about moral fortitude as it is about arranging our environment the world we interact with to either trigger or inhibit our behaviors. Second, on the professional front, products and services, apps and tools must all likewise adhere to the very same lessons. This applies to design and UX as much as it applies to marketing and management. Whatever change you’re trying to create whatever product youre trying to hook your audience begin with how humans actually make decisions:

1. Default Bias: How can you make the opt-in process automatic? What can you pre-populate during on-boarding or roll out

2. Friction Costs: What can you remove? In the words of Nir Eyal, innovation is nothing more than understanding a series of tasks from intention to outcome and then removing steps.

3. Anchoring: What do users, whether customers or employees, see first? How can you leverage that first impression at a meeting, in an email, or within an app to frame the rest of the process.

4. Pre-Commitment: Are you building on small, voluntary commitments? Small yeses early on lead directly to big yeses later, especially as change gets tougher

5. Present Bias: How can you drag future results into present reality? What hell will your change save people from? What heaven will it deliver them unto?

6. Social Proof: Who do your users look to for making their decisions? How can you encourage those influencers, or even just fellow humans, to share their own commitment and actions? Unlocking human change is hard, but its not mysterious. Just be sure you’re using all that power for the good.

 Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about content marketing (and bunnies) on Facebook or Twitter.


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Giving Away Products For FREE
Today I'm Revealing How I Do It...

Giving Away Products For FREE
Today I'm Revealing How I Do It...
Oct 17

Oddities Flea Market Returns to Brooklyn Bazaar on September 30

By bonusadm | Odd and Fun

A piece from Forgotten Boneyard. Forgotten Boneyard

It’s officially fall, the celebrated season of leafy decay and fake pumpkin flavoring. As the air grows colder and the nights longer, we find ourselves lured to the weird and the witchy, titillated by the vexing charm of the unknown and otherworldly. For Ryan Matthew Cohn, this is more than just a season, though—this is his livelihood.

The Brooklyn-based oddities collector has long been a dealer of the unexpected and fantastic, from archaic medical instruments to outdated globes, stuffed birds to shrunken heads. This weekend, he and his wife, Regina, will launch the second edition of their Oddities Flea Market at Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint where they, along with over 40 other vendors, will sell their bizarre wares.

Cohn told Observer that they started the market in 2016 in response to the Morbid Anatomy Museum’s last fall, the result of soaring rent prices and overhead costs. “We didn’t know if it would become an annual thing, but a lot of the vendors asked us to plan another one,” he said, noting that the former museum had served as an important marketplace for many in niche collector markets.

“New York is such a historic and creative place, but we’re seeing that fade away as the people who maintain this history and creativity get priced out of the city,” said Cohn. The Oddities Market was created not only as a revenue-generating platform for vendors whose market visibility shrunk in the absence of Morbid Anatomy, but also as an homage to former institutions and venues that supported the cultural work of curiosity keepers.

Items from Riposa Antiques. Riposa Antiques

As one of those keepers, Cohn felt the loss of the museum—which he had sold through from the beginning—keenly. Growing up in Upstate New York, he was surrounded by nature, prompting an interest in natural history early on. His love of collecting developed at the tender age of eight. “I’ve always been a bit OCD and one day I just got obsessed with baseball cards,” he said, which confused his parents since he didn’t watch baseball; in fact he hated all sports. He sold the cards later on, and many of them turned quite a profit for the nascent dealer. “I think that’s what really made this into a profession for me,” he said. “So I started focusing on collecting things I thought were interesting.”

Clearly that wasn’t baseball. The Cohn’s Greenpoint apartment is filled with skulls, mini mummies, drawers full of carefully aligned human teeth and a dessicated anus. These visceral objects sit alongside stately rare books and 18th century oil paintings sourced from European flea markets, all illuminated by dramatic antique chandeliers. Their couple’s British Blue cat can be often be found using a hippo skull, on display in the living room, as a scratching post.

Obscura Antiques & Oddities Obscura Antiques & Oddities

From 2010 to 2014, Cohn starred on the Discovery Channel’s TV series Oddities, a reality show following the strange dealings of the East Village antiques store, Obscura. More recently, he curated , the bar filled with heads inside downtown Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse. The dimly lit cocktail den is filled with a selection of waxwork sculptures featuring realistic displays of anatomy, pathology, anthropology and even death masks of 19th century celebrities, all from the Munich-based Castan Panopticon collection, which Cohn acquired part of when it went up for sale. “Basically it’s a museum you can drink in,” he said. “It’s meant to feel like a cabinet of curiosities,” with cocktails divvied up accordingly between “anatomicals,”“pathologicals” and “geographicals.” Both House of Wax and the travel publication that takes strange places around the world as its purview, Atlas Obscura, have provided support for this year’s Oddities Market.

Cohn says that the demand for historical ephemera and unique paraphernalia is stronger than many realize, but that many people just don’t know where to look. “With the Oddities Market, we want to create a one-stop shop for people that are interested in unusual stuff,” he explained. Indeed, the market provides plenty to see and buy for the curious shopper. This year’s edition features the return of many of last year’s vendors from across the U.S., as well as well as a dozen additions, prompting the fair to expand by three rooms. Sellers include artists like photographer Karen Jerzyk, jewelry designers Blood Milk and Goldengrove, rare book and antiquities dealers, taxidermists, and osteologists.

The shoppers are as multifarious as the fair’s offerings as well. “We get a lot of tattoo artists that come through, along with serious collectors, doctors interested in strange specimens, and people who are just shopping for some cool decor,” Cohn said. “But we also have your run-of-the-mill Goths who need to get their skull fix.”

Margaret Carrigan is a freelance writer and editor. She planned to go to law school but she did terribly on the LSAT, so she got a master’s in art history instead. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat, who is named after Alyssa Milano’s character from the early aughts CW smash hit series Charmed.

Find the Taxidermy Bird You’ve Been Searching for at the Oddities Flea Market


A wearable for better sleep focus and meditation

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Sep 12

How Many Calories Does Having Sex Really Burn?

By bonusadm | Odd and Fun

No matter what you are doing, you are always exercising and burning off calories. Did you know you that 10 minutes of laughing burns off about 50 calories? Even brushing your teeth for two minutes burns 5.7 calories.

Sex, the most enjoyable type of exercise, also burns off a handful of calories, but its difficult to say what a good average is. Some say its about 69 calories, whereas others claim sexercise can burn over 200. Buried in a study about obesity in the New England Journal of Medicine is a small reference to this, which notes that a man in his mid-to-early 30s engaging in the average length of sexual activity that’s six minutes would burn off just 21 measly calories.

This is based on a rough estimate of a persons rate of energy conversion (metabolism) during sex an educated guess, really. Clearly, its complicated. It depends on a huge range of factors, including but not limited to whether you are male or female, who you’re engaging in a frivolous frisk with, how long the action lasts, how vigorous it is, your relative cardiovascular health, muscle mass and, of course, what position(s) you are taking.

So what sexual activity burns off the most calories? Lets see what science has to say about it.

Calorie Counting

Physical activity, which obviously includes sex, makes up just 10 to 30 percent of your energy usage. The more muscles you have, the more energy they require to be used, and the more you need to respire, the more energy you’ll use up. So if you have particularly spirited sex for longer, and you’re particularly muscly already, you’ll burn up more calories. That’s the basic science of any form of exercise. Additionally, prolonging foreplay, maybe throwing in a massage or two or a spontaneous dance show if you’re into that kind of thing will certainly burn up more calories than just careening straight into coitus. There is one other thing that’s worth considering, though: orgasms. Orgasms do make a difference, but it is not clear by how much. Mariyana M/Shutterstock

Biological Fireworks

Orgasms require a fair bit of energy to take place, and were not just talking about the stimulation required to initiate them. Clearly, though, the longer it takes to bring someone to orgasm using a variety of somewhat repetitive actions, the more calories the stimulator will burn but what about the lucky orgasming person themselves?

Orgasms involve a rush of hormones, a spike in blood flow, the generation and the ejaculation of a variety of sexual fluids, all of which expend energy. On average, the process of attaining an orgasm can burn off between 60 to 100 calories, according to one source. Another claims just 3 calories are used. In any case, most men post-orgasm have a rest or refractory period of time wherein they cannot achieve another until their wilted soldier has recovered. On average, this lasts 30 minutes. Certain women can have orgasms almost indefinitely during the same time period so in terms of calories burned through orgasms during an amorous session, they definitely win this round.

Awkward Position The science of sex is decidedly complicated. SOMKKU/Shutterstock

The more positions you attempt during sex, the more calories you’ll burn, but for simplicitys sake, lets assume the same position is held throughout. So what position flames away the most calories doggy style, cowgirl, classic missionary or something risky sounding called the passion propeller?

As it turns out, there arent too many studies on the subject. Arming a passionate couple with high-tech cardiovascular monitoring equipment is difficult for a fair few reasons, so most publications have taken to giving rough estimates that, at a glance, appear to vary wildly.

A company named UK Medix, an online pharmacy, has for some reason designed a Sex Calculator. This digital curiosity claims to work out how many calories a bit of bed-based bouncing burns off, depending on position, your weight, and whether the participant in question is male or female. It doesnt appear particularly precise when asked about weight, one option is curves in all the right places, which appears to roughly translate as average weight.

For the duration drop down box, it ranges from slow and tender to fast and furious. It is unlikely to be particularly scientific. However, another online calculator by another UK pharmacy, Superdrug, seems ludicrously comprehensive by comparison. It allows you to choose the gender of not just yourself, but your partner. Users can also numerically enter their specific weights, along with the duration of their passionate foray in minutes, from zero to 120.

Keeping to a moderate intensity, assuming sex lasts for 15 minutes, and using the average weight of 89 kilograms (196 pounds) for US men and 75 kilograms (166 pounds) for US women, the results are perhaps unsurprising. For a man, standing-based sex burns the most calories (80), followed by doggy style (76), missionary (72), spooning (67), and finally, cowgirl (25). For a woman, cowgirl uses the most (67 calories), followed by doggy (54), standing (53), spooning (48), then missionary (24). Roughly speaking, the most submissive positions burn up the least for both sexes. From a practical perspective, this makes some sort of sense, although individual experiences may vary, of course.

Not an Exact Science According to the calculator, an average length foreplay and sex session between a male and female involving three or four different positions burns off this many calories. Superdrug/Online Doctor

In what is a frankly ludicrous scenario, moderate intensity missionary for a wince-inducing two hours would burn up 570 calories for the man according to Superdrug’s calculations, whereas the equivalent cowgirl would burn up 537 for a woman. The lower calorie counts for women are primarily linked to their lower average masses, and as aforementioned, it takes less effort to move less mass.

That missionary marathon, by the way, is roughly equal to playing tennis for 46 minutes, swimming for 74 minutes, or walking for 9.3 kilometers (5.8 miles). The latter example is the equivalent of running for about 7.7 kilometers (4.8 miles) at a moderate pace, doing yoga for 143 minutes, or dancing for 95 minutes. So, theoretically, sex could be a viable form of exercise like more conventional forms. If you’re curious, a man performing oral sex on a woman uses 40 calories, whereas a woman doing the same to a man uses 34. If you’d like to see the results for same-sex couples, or to work out how much energy the wheelbarrow position would consume, please dive into the mathematical model here.

This surprisingly comprehensive calculator doesn’t go into much detail regarding its methodology, but the designers, Fractl, seem to be a well-respected content agency that focuses on data presentation. They reference various scientific concepts and papers, but they seem to get their basic calorific information from a somewhat tongue-in-cheek book called Position of the Day Playbook, which they state contains no references to any kind of scientific methodology. Perhaps there were some Fitbits involved. Either way, as is abundantly clear by this point, this is not an exact science.

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Although there are plenty of minor disagreements, its almost certain that the most vigorous, active positions burn up the most calories, and men burn up slightly more than women on average because they have higher-masses. Weigh more, and you’ll burn up more. At present, though, it appears most of the calorie counts given are educated guesses put through vaguely scientific filters. For any weight-watchers out there, take a stand if you’re male, and do the cowgirl if you’re female but wed suggest that if you’re having sex mainly to burn of calories, your priorities are decidedly unusual. Different strokes for different folks. David Tadevosian/Shutterstock

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Concentrate when needed
and keep your min​d sharp

Concentrate when needed
and keep your mind sharp
Jul 24

New Fashion Company Shatters The Idea That ‘Nude’ Is Always Beige

By bonusadm | Odd and Fun

A pair of Harvard Business students want to help redefine and expand what the color nude looks like in the fashion industry so that it can better reflect and compliment various shades of women. 

Atima Lui and Nancy Madrid founded Mia Pielle after being fed up with the fashion industry’s limited definition of “nude.” The two women created the fashion-tech startup with the hope of being able to help women of all skin tones find apparel and accessories that would perfectly match their skin color. 

“Unfortunately, the industry by and large defines the concept of nude fashion as a few tones of beige,” explained Madrid and Lui in a statement on the Mia Pielle website. “We are addressing this frustration for customers by curating many products that match different skin tones, but which are not necessarily positioned as ‘nude.’” 

Mia Pielle
Lui and Madrid determined the six shades of nude by analyzing 87 photographs of women from around the world taken by skin tone artist Angelica Dass, cross referencing the Pantone SkinTone Guide, and utilizing the Fitzpatrick Scale developed by Harvard dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick.

The concept for Mia Pielle came to the duo in December as they discussed how difficult it is for them find cosmetics and “nude” apparel that matched their unique skin tones. “We were just brainstorming one day about how difficult it is for [Atima] as an African-American woman to find the right shade of makeup,” Madrid, who is Mexican-American, told The Huffington Post. “And I mentioned [how] for me it’s hard to find the right color of nude shoes. Sometimes they’re too pink or they’re a shade that makes my skin look green, and we started playing with this concept and we thought, well, we have to come up with a solution for this.”

Madrid told HuffPost she and Lui initially toyed with the idea of creating a line of nude shoes to match a variety of skin tones, but they ultimately decided to go beyond just footwear. 

“When we started doing research, reaching out to women and their nude needs, we realized that women are particularly interested in nude lingerie and nude shoes, and nude hosiery,” Madrid explained.

Mia Pielle/Instagram
Starting this business, deep down for my cofounder and I, its something were doing to give back to our communities, Madrid shares. To give confidence to women of color and of all colors.

Using their proprietary “True Nude” algorithm, Mia Pielle curates products from existing brands, like Nubian Skin, in six different shades of nude — mahogany, chocolate, bronze, honey, pearl and ivory — providing customers with a personalized collection unlike what they may find in stores. Users are then able to select and purchase items from that curated list directly from a brand’s website.

The shades were determined by using a three-step process that included an analysis of 87 photographs of women from around the world taken by skin tone artist Angelica Dass, cross referencing the Pantone SkinTone Guide, and utilizing the Fitzpatrick Scale developed by Harvard dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick.

“What we plan on doing is partnering with existing brands and retailers to feature their products and monetize in an affiliate marketing model,” Madrid said of their business model. “That means that we get a commission when we drive sales for them.”

Still in its preliminary trial phase, or alpha test phase, both Mia Pielle and its founders are still growing and evolving. Lui and Madrid recently competed in Rent the Runway’s Project Entrepreneur competition for an opportunity to join their summer accelerator program. The duo’s also looking forward to competing in the Harvard Business School’s upcoming New Venture Competition at the end of April. And that’s just the beginning, according to Madrid. 

“A year from now, I hope [Mia Pielle] reaches a lot of women and it gives them confidence,” she shared. “We want to contribute to a cultural change [in which] we are inclusive of everyone and every woman feels comfortable in her own skin.”

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​Elf Emmit Mode - Relaxing after a hard day can be difficult

Elf Emmit Mode - Relaxing after a hard day can be difficult

yet it’s vital for your health. Daily accumulated stress wears you down mentally and emotionally, and it can drain the joy right out of your life..

yet it’s vital for your health. Daily accumulated stress wears you down
mentally and emotionally, and it can drain the joy right out of your life.