9 lessons and overall experience with CT101

What did you enjoy about our class and how you will apply your new skills into the world? How can you describe my journey with CT101 ? 

A few months ago I ate a delicious piece of cheese.

It was sooooo good……

It made me STOP……. and think about its origin. 



Heres what I found out…..

HOW CHEESE IS MADE: The 5 step process to make amazing CHEESE.


step 1.Milk the cow


step 2. Pasteurize the milk at the right temperature to kill 💉bacteria. 



step 3. Add ingredients 



step 4. Incubation period / Leave it to age

Wrap up the cheese- In a controlled humid Environment for a few months so we it breath, stay humid, and ripen it’s surface. 

step 5: Keep checking on it for the next few months. If mold has grown underneath, remove it off and when it is clean, try waxing the cheese.  


finally—-It is ready to be served…






Writing CT 101 blogs begins with…..


step 1.Milk the brain.

Milking out the brain means doing lots of writing without editing…. The goal is to write down every single thing that comes to mind…In this phases quantity is more important and quality. 



step 2. kill 💉  what doesn’t work

After our first brain milking… it time to delete/ Edit what you wrote down. Some of what you wrote down has to go….KILL IT.



step 3. Add ingredients 

After your first edit, you will begin to add the right ingredients.




step 4. Incubation period

In this phase, wrap things up and stop working on the blog for a while.

Take a break !

Allow the blog to breath and ripen in your brain. ( your brain will automatically work on it in the background as you do other things. 



step 5: After a while Keep checking, deleting , adding, and tweaking the blog until its ready. 

finally- You can publish it.

Old and new lessons from ct101:


In my midterm post https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/why-midterms-are-important/ 

I discussed 5 lessons that I have learned ( which are listed below) that I would like to share with you again….


Lessons before mid term


1.Memes and trying humor. In blog # 3 , I learned to try humor with memes to engage the readers.
2. Ideas can come from anywhere. Keep your mind open for them.  While working on blog # 5, I learned how ideas can come to you anytime and anywhere, while you shower, drive , watching TV , etc.Be open minded and use your environment to be more creative.
3.Move things around until it feels right. While working on blog #2 and # 3  I learned to move different sections around to have better structure in the narrative.

Here is the 3 step process.

1.Break down the blog into different PARTS

2.Move the P A R T S around.

3.Connect each part to the next.


4.kill your darlings…..Sometimes you have to get rid of a section. While writing blog # 1, I learned how sometimes you have to drop and kill a section in your blog for the greater good of the whole story.
5. Take time to write. After submitting my worst blog post # 4I realized how good writing really requires a lot of effort.

Ha-lf assed efforts = Ha-lf assed results.



4 more lessons after midterms…….


1.Why blogs die young.

After submitting the midterm blog ( which I thought was my best one).  I started to doubt if any one even read it. 

I love writing, however I am not writing just for myself.

My goal in writing is to add value to the reader.

I spend hours writing and editing  my blogs so I find it less meaningful if no one read it………

Later that week , I discovered that professor Seslow read my midterm blog which made me happy……

I think this is why so most blogs die young…

When no one is reading your work its hard to keep writing but we must persevere. Especially  in the beginning.  



2.Your Domain name matters.

The domain name  to your website is like storefront to a business.

It needs to be catchy , simple,  smooth , welcoming , and relevant to your  content.

I honestly HATE my domain name !!!


Will you maintain and keep up your new website? If so, how? If not, Why not?

My plan is to change my domain name. So yes I would like to keep my website and write on a weekly basis.

3. Ideas have a life span. 

In her book Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear,  Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how she once had a brilliant idea for a novel that took in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil.

She conducted lots research for the book and was read to start. However due to a circumstances she had pause.

2 years later when she came back to work on it , she couldn’t write anything. The idea had died.

She writes…

I’m pretty stubborn about sticking with projects, so I prodded at the thing for several months, trying to make it work again, hoping to bring it back to life. But it was useless. Nothing I’m pretty stubborn about sticking with projects, so I prodded at the thing for several months, trying to make it work again, hoping to bring it back to life. But it was useless. Nothing was there. It was like poking a stick at a cast-off snakeskin: The more I messed with it,


Gilbert eventually gave up on the idea and pursued something else that went on to be successful.


Something similar happened to me as I was finishing my 7th blog.

Heres what happened……

I published the first draft with hopes that I will finish the conclusion later. 



With a busy schedule I procrastinated and lost motivation every single day that passed.


After 2 weeks of procrastinating my desire to finish the conclusion died out. I had all my research ready but just could not write.

LESSON ? Don’t procrastinate on a good idea.



4. A picture is worth a thousand words. 

As I was writing blog # 9, I wanted to explain how cities are more creative than villages  _______________________ __________________________________________.


For some reasons writers block descended upon me, and I didn’t know what to write.


Then I remembered something I read a few years ago where Bill Gates would doddle when he got stock on a problem….

So I went to google images and Google draw and decided to just play around with pictures………

eventually I ended up with this visual , which I think was better than what I would have wrote.


What grade you have earned in our class and why do you deserve that grade?


This blog was based on : https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ct101-final-blog-post-course-completion-information-3/


All of my posts:

  1. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/internettherapy
  2. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/my-journey-withct101
  3. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/to-meme-or-not-tomeme
  4. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/6257-2/ideas/
  5. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/why-midterms-are important/
  6. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/6257-2/
  7. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/organ-meat-and-mydomain-name/
  8. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/itshere/
  9. https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/why-cities-are-more-creativethan-villages/

10: The post you just read:

















Why cities are more creative than villages……..

In his fascinating book Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson discusses how cities are more creative than villages……

But why ?




We usually think of “creative persons” rather than “creative places”…..  

However , it turns out that…Creativity isn’t only in ….




But also…….




Our creativity is dependent on our environment and other peoples ideas

New Ideas= mixture of other ideas. 




Like living in a city ,when we are surrounded by more different ideas and many different people…. There is a higher chance that we will find new combination.

More ideas begets more ideas.

( Villages )

Less ideas * Less ideas = Less ideas


(Cities )

more ideas * more ideas = more ideas

copy right= the killer of creativity

As mentioned above, new ideas are a mixture of other ideas. 

More ideas will mean more new ideas ..

We can’t innovate and create in a vacuum , all innovation and creativity builds on each other…..

This is where  copy right laws can hinder the creative process ..




Its here……….

A website is like a house.

Word press is like the bricks and cement that forms the foundation ……..

The domain name is like the door and windows ………….

The theme and design are like the furniture ….

And …………

The content is like the food……

However, a house is not a home if no one is living in it ( or if you are living alone)

I hope YOU  can visit …..….

A cup of tea ?

Please come in : HHTOOLBOX.COM

I have a special gift waiting for you…You just gotta





See you inside.

Meat Organs And My Domain Name…….

It is 1943.

It is  WW2

We are in the middle of the war.

We must provide our army and allies with nutritious meat if we are going to win this war….

the only problem is………

We are short on meat.

We need to ship all the meat to our troops…..

but there is a problem… Our citizens are consuming too much meat that we need for the war….. 

How can we solve this problem ??


what about …. mmmmmmmm what about ….. what about

meat organs ? 

I mean… we are already throwing it all away… all that food is going to waste…

What if we can we persuade our fellow Americans to start consuming more organs so we can ship the meat………..

Is that even possible ?  I mean, we are a nation that pride ourselves with the hamburger. 

Desperate times calls for desperate measures……..

Lets give it a try and see what happens……………………….

Shortly after, the US government launched a campaign to persuade the American people to start consuming more meat organs…

Their strategy focused on 2 things.

  1. Telling people meat organs are healthy and actually taste good.
  2. Telling people it’s patriotic to eat meat organs.

Tons of $$$$$$$$ was spent on these campaign …..

the head lines read something like this…

” Organ meats are healthier than regular meats”

” Support the troops and slurp these kidneys down”

” Patriots eat liver and heart”

” tasty, you wont even believe it”



So what happened ?

IT FAILED !!!!!!!!!!!!


But why ????

Because the people running the campaign failed to understand what makes people tick, they failed to understand why and how people change their behavior…..

Now the story isn’t over………It about to take a drastic turn for the better….

We did find a way to persuade Americans to start eating more organ meat, which helped us win the war thanks to ……

 A psychologist named Kurt Lewin and

an anthropologist named Margaret Mead

This is truly , an inspirational about



I will tell you how they pulled it off before the end of the blog I PROMISE…..


This inspirational story is one of the stories why I am creating my new website….


The how ,what and why of my website.


I really wanted my domain name  to be




Sadly, these domains were not available so I had to pick a new one on the fly. 


I want people to think of my website as a toolbox they can go back to whenever they might need it. A good toolbox adds value and serves a purpose for years to come.

What are the 2 H’s ?

The human mind is dual in nature. 

the 2 modes of cognition 

Intuition rationality
divergent convergent
Fast thinking  slow thinking
Automatic Deliberate
Imagination Logic
Messiness   structure
Random Order

❤️ Heart

  Head 🧠

( these 2 modes are separate yet are not Independent from one another , they work together or against each other at times. Understating the relationship between these 2 modes is one of the keys to understating what makes humans tick  )


 Kurt Lewin and Margaret Mead understood human nature very well…. and thats why they did what they did……

My goal for this website is to help YOU utilize your…..

🧠 🧰+ 🤍 ⚒️ so you can =


  • Better yourself through learning “self knowledge”
  • influence others and add value to society.


Here are some of the topics I want to cover in my blog. 

    • Well being 
    • Persuasion/ influence science . 
    • marketing
    • Motivation.
    • Creativity 
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy 
    • Happiness. 
    • Productivity 
    • Book recommendations 
    • How to write better 
    • Sales. 
    • Emotional intelligence 
    • Self help. 
    • And more 

The secret sauce : How to get a nation to start eating meat organs…..

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Why midterms are important.

In his book When The Science Of Perfect Timing 

 Daniel H. Pink talks about the importance of timing especially 

the beginning point ,                             the ending point and                                 the middle point.




Middle points have 2 benefits…

  1.  It allows us to PAUSE🛑  REFRESH🚰  REFLECT 🤔  on what has passed in before the midpoint.
  2. It allows us to reflect how we can improve the 2nd half. It gives us a chance to breath and start over. 


Middle points are everywhere

  • mid day 
  • Half time ( in most sports) 
  • Mid month
  • Mid year
  • Mid quarter ( in business) 
  • Mid life-  ( 40 years) makes us think how we lived their lives so far. 

Or Midterms. 

the point is.

You must CAPITALIZE on the middle points . 


How do I assess my performance through self-reflection in this class?

As mentioned above timing is VERY important when you want to reflect on things.  However, timing isn’t the only thing. 


Keeping track of the score. 

You can’t really reflect on progress when you don’t even track what you


Imagine if the NBA didn’t have a scoring board …Players would have to keep counting their own score and their opponents score.

This would be counterproductive for 2 reasons 

  • Players would make more effort thinking about the score instead of  about the game….
  • They wouldn’t know where they stand ( if they are winning or losing)


Likewise you too should have a PHYSICAL EXTERNAL SCOREBOARD (PES) for classes……


My (PES) for CT 101 

 For my classes I use a zipper folder with a checklist for every week…..

Clearly defined tasks.

One very important element of the PES system is having clearly defined tasks. Your tasks must be clearly defined or you won’t know when you are done. 

for me:

#1  is crossed when I publish  my blog

#2 is crossed  when I post a comment on someone’s blog.

#3 is crossed when I respond to someone’s comment or post another comment to another blog.


What have I learned the most? What is my greatest learned asset in this class so far? What skills have I developed , cultivated and displayed regularly in my posts? What do I know now that I did not know before taking this class?

1.Memes and trying humor.



I am not a funny person in real life. I am shy and awkward.

 I never try to be funny in front of anyone, especially my classmates.  

However, being behind a screen allows me to TRY

(So far I am getting positive feedback about the humor I am using in my blogs.)



In blog #4 – I used only MEMES to tell a story about how memes are really art. 

Check it out here : https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/to-meme-or-not-to-meme/

2. Ideas come can come from any where. Keep your mind open for them. 


When I was writing blog #5 https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/6257-2/

 The bet that changed our minds – a post about the power of using mental constraints for creativity. 

I was stuckkkkkkkkkk

I was stuck on giving my blog structure

You can’t have a story without structure.


I felt like I had the right pieces to the story but its just  didn’t






One night that week I  was watching the news

The reporter was talking about Dr. Seuss’s books . 

then an idea struck me!

This reminded me of a blog I read 2 years ago about how dr. Seuss used only 50 words to write his best seller green eggs and ham. 

I went back to the blog (which you can find here: https://jamesclear.com/dr-seuss

I decided to use Dr. Seuss’s story to start and finish my blog and link it to what I was writing about. 

It worked.


3.Move things around until it feels right. 

Sometimes the structure of the blog is obvious …. For example 

In blog #2  https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/my-journey-with-ct101/

We had to use  GIFs  to capture our thoughts about CT101….

I decided to make 1 GIF for every single moment that I encountered with CT101 using chronological order ………


It worked really well…….HOWEVER

Most of the time, using chronological order is boring and doesn’t make a good narrative for non-fiction.


Like Legos…. sometimes we have the right pieces to the blog but there is no structure or story…..IT DOES NOT





To give your story structure.

Do this 3 step process 


1.Break down the blog into different PARTS

2.Move the P A R T S around.

3.Connect each part to the next.



P A R T S 

S P A R T 

T A R P S 


S P A R T 

A R T P S 

T A R T P 

T R A P S 


3 step process in action.

Example :  blog 3 https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/to-meme-or-not-to-meme/

After creating 20 Memes … I felt like I had the bricks but it was time to build a house. 


1st  I grouped the similar  memes together……

2nd I moved them around

3rd I started to fill out the gaps by connecting each each section to the next.

Slooooooooooooooooowly but surely the non-obvious narrative became obvious….

4. kill your darlings…..Sometimes you have to get rid of a section.



Writing takes a lot of hard work so sometimes you become attached to the parts that you worked hard to write…

We don’t want to let go of our hard work. We don’t want our hard work to go in vain.

However sometimes letting go of certain parts  is  what’s best for the overall story. 

For my first blog….I had to write about what makes me happy on the internet… check it here: https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/internet-therapy/ 


In my first draft I wrote down 2 things that made me happy on the internet 

1.Finding good books and good book recommendations.

2. Reading YouTube comments. 


I loved both parts. Yet they didn’t seem to fit into the same theme. 

I decided to Kill #1. 

After  I killed #1 , everything fell into its place and the blog felt just right.


5.Make time to write…..



I am proud of all my blog posts besides blog # 6 which was about the website ideas.

Check out here: https://ct101.commons.gc.cuny.edu/website-ideas/

I usually take 5-15 hours plus to write and edit my blogs because good writing requires full assed effort. 

However on this blog I simply didn’t put in the effort and hours so it just came out crappy.

Do I see my weekly blogging work expanding creatively? If so, please explain –  or am I stuck in a loop where my posts seem to look the same most of the time, how will  I Change that?


Our own perception of how the semester will go …


Reality of how the semester will go …




Let’s be honest, we all can burn out sometimes…Especially with creative work. 

That’s why you must PAUSE🛑  REFRESH🚰  REFLECT 🤔

if you don’t then your semester will end up like the second picture.


How am I doing in CT101? What grade do I believe I am maintaining? 

What an easy question.





Website Ideas.


I actually owned this domain name for a while. I created a website where I was selling infographic (self help ,Psychology and business) book summaries. I didn’t want to fall into legal issues so I just let go of the project.

Infographics are great way to engage your reader. 

here is an example:

getting_things_done = click for pdf.

( just a side note, the infographics were outsourced)




I love reading books and talking about them.  There are some really interesting popular psychology books that anyone can benefit from. 

This is different from the previous website in that my goal would not be to make money but to review books and even recommend them. 



I love psychology. However I hate impractical knowledge. William James the

most influential psychologist  also felt psychology should be a practical


I agree.

In this blog I would take psychological principles and write with a heavy

emphasis on practice.



In this website I would take psychology principles ( both practical and theoretical) and explain it to psychology and non psychology majors. The target audience would mostly be college students who are trying to learn for their exam. 



For the past 5 years I have been  taking notes of the new insights I come across from books , personal life, or  other sources . I take these insights and store all of them on an app called Google keep. These notes  also contain my person opinion and thoughts. I also try to connect ideas using this app.

Some of these insights are personal, however I think I would love to publish them one day. 











The bet that changed our minds.

It’s 1960………..

Two men made a bet.

One man is a publisher named Bennett Cerf.

One man is an author named Theo Geisel. 

$50 on the line.  

This appears insignificant to me and you.

Its not !

By the end of this blog

You will know what the bet was about. who won . why they won. And why it matters….

Even to you ………. 

I promise.  It does.  Just keep reading……….. 


My name is Belal Alawi. I am a psychology major with a keen interest in how creative minds work…


After reading dozens of books written on creativity written by  

  • Advertisers
  •  Novelists
  •  Entrepreneurs 
  • CEOS
  • Inventors
  • Designers
  •  Philosophers
  • cognitive psychologists…….


I have come across a few insights that can make even a chimpanzee more creative…..



I am here to share with you One of these insights ( yes this is connected to the bet we talked about earlier) 


This insight will give you the power to  manipulate your own mind to….

1. Generate new ideas 

2. Come up with novel solutions to real world problems…

 Before I tell you about the insight and the bet…

please allow me to share with you my favorite quote of all time by one the greatest psychologists of the 21st century……




Why do I love this quote ? 

At one point in my life I came to accept that I can’t control the external world but only myself and how I react to it.  

Accepting this …

– Put me at peace and helped me only focus on what I can control. 

– Prepare for obstacles instead of complaining. 

– Embrace uncertainty and see it as a chance to grow. 

This doesn’t mean you should stop planning.

It just means you should make a part of your plan that your plan will not always work

 Be prepared to improvise …


BTW: Click on pic if you want to participate in sharing you favorite quote of all time.


Ok….. back to creativity …………….


Insight = use constraints to direct your mind


What if I ask you: 

tell me a story :  Chances are you won’t know where to start, your mind will be all over the place searching for a story. Chances are you wouldn’t come up with a very unique story quickly. 

You will stumble and struggle.

 Your mind might be overwhelmed  because telling your mind to tell a story is too broad.

Let’s say  add some constraints and see what happens to your mind….


tell me a personal story in your freshman year in college:

These constraints force your mind will begin to remember a few stories, maybe the first time you entered the cafeteria or how you met your friend, or maybe your first day in ct 101 class .


Noticed what changed ?

 Constraints direct and force your mind  to  narrow down and be more creative. 


Think of it like this………. 



no  Constraints                                                               Constraints



Or like this……….

no  Constraints                                                               Constraints





 The bet. 

The man named Bennett Cerf  was the founder of the publishing firm, Random House( you probably don’t know him)



The second man named Theo Geisel is the famous author you might know him as……….












Dr. Seuss.


 Cerf challenged that Dr. Seuss and bet $50 that he can’t write a book using only 50 different words

Dr. Seuss took on the challenge and wrote the best selling book Green Eggs and Ham using only 50 different words. It has sold 200 million copies since it was published. 


Dr Suess won the 50 dollars and won the bet. 

You also won by reading my blog and finding out the power of constraints . 

Go out there and CREATE but remember…..

This is your brain without constraints = 

And this is your brain with constraints



Assignment 2- make a sports poster.


check out https://www.canva.com/ to create amazing new posters.






To Meme Or Not To Meme…

Memes are like…………. A box of chocolates  …..NOPE.

Memes are like…………….

Memes are  conventional wisdom…. but on STERIODS.


In their book Freakonomics ,Stephen J. Dubner and

Steven Levitt talk about the most influential people

on culture …..

Journalists and Advertisers……….


However , things have changed since the publication of Freakonomics. 


With social media … EVERY ONE ( including you) is a journalist and advertiser ( even if you are unaware of it)…




The Great Debate Of The 21st century : Does global warming exist ?

Are Memes a form of ART ?


NOT EVERY ONE LIKES MEMES. Some even go far to  denying them the RIGHT to be called ART.



I am on the side that says Memes are a form of art ( I hope you are too)

 I will PROVE it to you.  By the end of this post

all your doubts will be CRUSHED !.


Are you ready to see the proof?

( this might shock you)


There you have it  !!!!!


Still skeptical ? IM sure you are convinced by now, but I’ll show you more proof. 




And….. here is the final proof ( if you are still not convinced then LEAVE!)  



I think this settles the debate…… speaking of debates.…… 



 MEMES. The Past , Future and 






CT 101 the place to learn Memeology




My favorite 2020 memes……..






My favorite meme of all time.






My Journey……

Me searching for an easy class with a good professors the last week of registration. 
Me finding CT 101 with professor Ryan Seslow After hours of searching.
Me on zoom hoping not to make eye contact with the  professor so he doesn’t call on me.
Me being inspired by professor Seslow.
Me working on my first blog
Me hoping the professor liked my first post.
Me seeing the professor respond to my post.
Me working on creating my first GIF


More GIFs

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

( This is my  customer and friend Carlos, he is 70 years old.

Carlos is 70 but has more energy than an 18 year old. No one

messes with Carlos on the block.)

Internet Therapy

I have a confession to make. 

I hate the internet. But I also love her (sometimes). 

There is 1 thing that makes me happy on the internet…….


Yes this is a waste of time and counter productive if done in access , but 1 funny comment can uplift your mood. 

It’s like therapy but it’s free. 


From 2015- 2020 I deliberately avoided looking at any youtube comments because I was wasting hours responding to  comments every week.

Then 2020 came ……….


One day in the middle of the pandemic I was watching a video (maybe for class, I don’t remember) 

 My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to read a youtube comment for the first time in 5 years. 

SOOO… I scrolled 


And read a  few comments. 

I don’t remember the video or the comment, but it was very funny. 


It was so funny that I decided to start reading youtube comments after I got my work done. 

A lot of these comments are really funny. Many times even funnier than the actual video. 

A few examples: using the funny scale ( 1-10 )


Comments: 10





Comments: 10




Comments: 8




Reading Youtube comments can be very addictive in high doses. 

Just like anything in life, moderation is key. 


To everyone: I wanted to make this post longer but many of my images are not posting.