These countries are not shitholes, but they do need our help

Here’s the deal: I fail to see the point of me calling out the misdeeds of political figures in this country without also spending effort to do good. So, that’s why I’m writing this.

If you’re mad, disappointed, shocked, or appalled at the recent comments and longer-term racist undertones of one or a number of political entities, then this post is for you.

If you’re mad, frustrated, exasperated, or incredulous that a certain political party seems to paint everything your political leaders say in a bad light, then this post is for you.

I don’t care what color your political affiliation is, I care that we often lose sight of the other humans who are struggling to make their own nations as great as possible. So, without lecturing you on why you should care about this or racism or any of that, I’m going to simply leave a few links below.

These links are to charities that I’ve heard good things about. Feel free to look at them or find your own. Whatever you do, do something positive first, post about what you did in the comments so we can all be inspired together, and THEN go back to Twitter and Facebook and continue yelling at each other. – This organization is focused on Haiti, especially helping children. They look like they’re doing good things. – World Vision is a large organization and does a lot of good work around the world. I don’t know if you can donate to a specific country, but donating to their general fund will definitely be helping people who need it. – IJM is focused on justice, specifically with modern-day slavery and human trafficking.


I took the train and inadvertently rejoined humanity

I’m a big fan of change and trying new things. My problem is that I’m usually too scared to try things outside of what I’ve grown up thinking is normal or expected. Which is ridiculous when you realize that I constantly rail against the status quo and start to go crazy if that terrible word “routine” gets a foothold in my daily life (this could be why I blog in clusters).

Recently, though, I’ve rediscovered my love of new things and the unexpected rewards/consequences that come with them. This story starts with my hatred of I-95 and ends with me riding on a train.

I hate I-95 – well, maybe I just very much dislike driving on I-95 – or any other major, crowded, highway. There are too many moving parts and I find that I’m constantly flipping through the list of possible stupid actions that the cars around me could take, which has saved me from a few crashes along the way but makes me ‘dislike’ the drivers around me. See, when I expect someone to do something stupid and then they do that exact stupid thing, it really gets to me. I figure that if can tell that you’re about to do something stupid, you should be able to see it to; and if you don’t see it, you’re an idiot.

OK OK – that’s not my point, but you get the source my inspiration. This is in addition to the cost of gas and wear and tear on my aging car (anyone have $1000 for new struts?).


I found the solution to my traveling woes in the humble South Florida mass transit system. Specifically, Tri Rail. I realized that I could easily drive to the station near my house, ride the train for 20mins and then walk 5 minutes to my job.


Fast forward about a month. Having figured out the logistics of getting to and from the train I took the red pill and followed the rabbit hole a lot further than I expected. (In case you missed the reference).


I sat on the train and looked across at the passenger facing me.

“Hi, I’m Mike.”

What? Did I just say that? Who is this dude and why am I talking to him?

“I’m Jeff, nice to meet you.” (probably not his real name because I totally can’t remember it)

Just like that – I was conversing with some guy I’d just met … on the way home from work.

Maybe that didn’t click for you.

I was pleasantly speaking with a person who, had we been in separate cars, would have been my sworn enemy for 20 miles of roadway. In a car I would have written this guy off as some idiot who was out to kill me, but on the train we were practically BFFs.

And that’s not all. I thought back to my time waiting for the train and I realized that there were real people around me. Like, poor people, rich people, white people, black people, etc… And we were all there for one reason:

To take the freaking train.

Who knew that you didn’t have to loath people with whom you traveled? Now, instead of waiting for one of them to cause my early death in a 12-car pile-up, we all found our seats in unity hoping, together, that the train wouldn’t derail and explode in a fire-ball, killing us all.

And that’s a camaraderie I haven’t felt since my last bumpy plane ride.

Is Sleep Only for Broke People?

I’ve always enjoyed being a night owl and then sleeping-in but now that I have a baby daughter and a job, I don’t get to sleep much past 7am. My problem is, though, I still like staying up late.

My wife often says, “Why don’t you just go to bed at a normal time like the rest of us? Maybe you won’t be so tired in the morning.”

Because that’s boring – plus, when would I get important things done like reading or blogging (or playing video games)?

The answer is: I wouldn’t – and that would be a bummer. So, like usual, I’ve been staying up late, occasionally getting to sleep by 11 if I’m particularly tired (or if I’m afraid my daughter will be waking up multiple times that night, as she is wont to do). Then, a few days ago, my buddy posts this video on his Facebook wall:

Did you catch the part where 50 Cent is quoted as saying, “Sleep is for people who are broke. I don’t sleep.”?

I did – and I can’t get it out of my head.

Ever since I watched that video, and rewatched it a few times, I’ve been thinking about this idea of a focus and determination that is so strong that I would give up sleep to be successful at it. One could say that I was almost obsessed with the idea and when I’m obsessed with an idea I’m constantly on the lookout for new information about it. That’s about the time that I saw a new blog post by Seth Godin.

The blog post is “Time doesn’t scale.” In it he argues that people who put in extra hours for a job soon find that there are only 24 hours in a day and when you reach that limit your time spent working can no longer afford you an advantage.

So, I’m torn. In one hand, I have determination, drive, passion, inspiration, and ambition that say “this is your one, single goal and focus; do anything and everything you can to accomplish it.”

In the other I have intentionality, planning, and forethought that say, “Don’t waste time on unimportant tasks, think about what you’re doing so you can do it well, do it creatively and do it right the first time.”

What if, though, I combined what I have in both hands? What if I have enough drive, passion, and inspiration to make a certain goal my number one priority and have enough intentionality, forethought, and planning to make sure the actions that I’m taking towards this goal are creative, thought-out, and done well? I imagine I could achieve just about anything that I want.

But, let’s go back to the original question for a moment, “Is sleep only for people who are broke?”

Yes, I think it is and here’s why: If you value sleep more than you value being successful (in whatever way that happens to be), then you probably don’t want it bad enough. Earlier in the video the speaker said that being successful needs to be more important to you than breathing – and we can all agree that breathing is more important than sleeping.

To Seth’s point, however, you’re not going to get anywhere by just grinding away at a job for long hours to the detriment of your family and social life. You need to combine your passion with your skills and plug them into creative, thoughtful work that accomplishes more in less time.

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter? Or maybe, when was the last time you were so absorbed in something that you forgot to eat for a while?


Finding Your Voice

My intro to writing professor in college led us through a curriculum on ‘finding your voice’. It all made sense at the time – it’s what your words sound like on paper, it’s your style, your rhythm. I get that.

What I have always had a hard time figuring out, however, is how to pick out MY voice from the myriad of voices that are in my head.

I’m not schizo; I’m a good imitator. I can pick out a person’s tone, cadence, inflection, etc… and will alter how to speak to better resemble that person. It’s automatic and it helps me connect with people; it’s really a nice talent to have.

The problem is that I can can easily start to dislike my own voice.

I’m not sure if this is all made worse because I was never really a cool kid. People generally liked me (and I assume still do), but simple comparisons to other people who I thought were better than me made me disappointed with who I was.

Oprah session aside, I think I’ve mostly come to terms with who I am. In fact, I would like to think that I am happy with who I am. This doesn’t stop my super-competitive side, however, from constantly comparing myself to everyone else to measure how well I’m doing. If I think that someone else’s voice is funnier, smarter, more like-able than mine, I’m tempted to copy it.

And, like we found out earlier, I’m good at copying voices.

A few years ago, I started a sarcastic blog inspired by the hilarious dude at Tremendous News. All three people who read it (thanks Mom) liked what I wrote.

Actress and singer Eri Kitamura

Via Wikipedia

(I don’t know why I put this image here, but I know Tremendous News would have)

I only posted 2 articles.

That’s the problem with imitation – it drains you. When you are intentionally trying to be someone else, you have to think like they think; be motivated by the things which motivate them; and create like they create. That’s just not fun…

…and writing should be fun.

Writing should allow you to create something new.

Something that is your own.

Something that sounds like you.

I don’t know if I’ve really found my voice, but I definitely feel like I’m much closer to it.

The Power of a Blog – Ending Slavery

As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.
– Benjamin Franklin

There are dozens of ways that I wanted to start this post, but the most honest opening is to admit that I don’t really know how to start. So I just will:

An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery – right now.

27,000,000 – That’s more than the population of the top 13 cities in the US combined (1).


There are three problems with a statistic like that:

  1. 27 million is a number that is hard to imagine.
  2. The idea of people being enslaved doesn’t seem possible; especially because it’s not right here in front of us – we’re all so far removed from the slavery we read about in history books that it doesn’t mean much to us as a society any more.
  3. Even if we can wrap our heads around the situation, how could you and I ever have an impact on a problem that is so monumental?
While I can’t do much for the first problem, I have two simple ideas that will help with the other two issues.

1. Learn about modern day slavery

This is the internet, you can find information on everything and this is one of the most important Google searches I think you’ll ever do. (Here’s a good place to start:

2. Do whatever you can to help

My motivation for writing this post is to give you a place to start, one that I think will make a world of difference. There is a letter being sent to President Obama asking him to stand up for freedom. They need 27,000 signatures and I am one of them. You should be, too.

Sign Your Name Stand For Freedom

Leave me a comment after you sign the letter and let me know why you decided to stand for freedom.

 1. Wikipedia – List of United States cities by population

Facebook, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

Absolutely something…

To be honest, this was almost a post about the unfortunate increase in terrible, useless and mind-numbing content that is starting to clutter Facebook. But then…

…then my friend asked about SEO.

And I helped him.

All of a sudden, a light illuminated my keyboard and Facebook became a place of connection, a place where friends can get help from friends, a place of hope. OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but the truth of the matter is that Facebook, like any number of social media tools is only as good as it’s content and filtering.

While I was brooding over the mass influx of LOLCATS variants and useless pictures (like a list of numbers 1-15 with the words “Like when you find the mitsake” [sic]) screaming for “likes” and comments, I considered sitting back and blasting the downward spiral of social media culture.

I decided instead to take control of my situation. 

It’s something I learned a few months ago: “If you can’t predict the future, create it.”

So, I thought for a minute and realized that I could easily unsubscribe or – *gasp* – unfriend the worst offenders, thus clearing the way for me to see important updates – like what my buddies ate for dinner or how my sister’s new dog is fitting in. I did the same with my Twitter account (@thestosbias) a few weeks ago.

It makes sense, really. My mom used to call it “operator error.” Some people call it “garbage in, garbage out.”

What I’m cliche-ing about is simply this: Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc… are part of the internet and the internet is a place of mass ‘user-generated content’ which is code for ‘some good, but mostly really really bad stuff.’ The power of these tools comes from the ability they give you to categorize and filter what you see.

This is bigger than just avoiding annoying people. When we clear out the garbage content, we allow ourselves access to the small percentage of the really good content that is out there. It also opens us up to share that exceptional content with our friends and, as a result, spreading content that is worth digesting. All the while supporting and encouraging the content creators.

Take a look at your Twitter, Facebook, et al. feeds and ask yourself a question: “Am I contributing to the mass of crap floating around the internet, or am I being a conduit of thoughtful, useful content?” (no matter your definition of ‘useful’ – I trust you)

Have you noticed an increase in garbage from well meaning people who are trying to get some lulz? Am I being too harsh? Leave me your thoughts in the comments (and please, only one LOLCAT pic per person).