A Book For My Boys



I’m starting this book with the idea that, while I don’t think people are going to read many books in the future, at least not non-fiction books, because AI will soon become the primary interface for all knowledge, I thought it might be useful and/or fun for my boys (and their children, should they have any) to have something in written form from me, Cameron James Reilly.

I won’t call it “wisdom”, just things I’ve learned over the years. I’m 53 when I’m starting this. Hopefully I have many more decades ahead of me, but you never know.

These are the things I wish someone had told me about when I was younger. Maybe they did, and I wasn’t ready to hear them. That happens a lot in life. Sometimes we need to hear things twenty times before we are ready to take it in.

The benefit to you in having this in a book is that you’ll be able to pick it over the years and see if anything knew makes sense. Of course, the world is going to look so different in the years to come that it’s quite possible none of the ideas in this book are worth anything. It might be like one of our Irish ancestors in 1700 writing about how to survive in life by digging potatoes out of the ground and getting eggs from your chickens. That might be of interest purely from an historical perspective today, but have little practical value. Then again, who doesn’t like a nice egg?

By the way, here’s how to cook a great egg. I only learned this a few months ago and I pull it out about once a week. I learned it on TikTok. 🙂


  1. Get a hot fry pan.
  2. Put a bunch of butter in it. A LOT of butter. Enough to drown a baby.
  3. When the butter melts, turn the heat down to low.
  4. Crack your eggs, NOT on the side of the pan, but on the bench beside the pan. Just smack ’em on the bench. Then open them over the pan. This stops the shell getting inside the egg white.
  5. Let the eggs cook for a few minutes. I like the yolks runny, but if you don’t, you can flip them towards the end.
  6. If you want them runny but with some white marbleing on the yolk, throw a tablespoon of water into the pan and put a lid on it for a minute. The steam will marble the yolk.
  7. When you think they are done, slide those babies out onto a plate. Preferably on top of some of my wholemeal bread. I’ll add a recipe for that in a second.
  8. Tomato Sauce isn’t technically mandatory, but if you’re going to use it, use Heinz 57. Accept no substitute. Some avjar or green tabasco doesn’t hurt, either.
  9. Oh try a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt. Yes it’s expensive but it’s worth it. Trust me.


Here’s how I bake my bread. I started making (and eating) bread about a year ago, after totally avoiding carbs for about ten years. It’s become a ritual. I enjoy it for a bunch of reasons – partly because I love the bread (and Chrissy loves it too), but also because each loaf is a science experiment. You’re trying to bake the perfect loaf and it’s easy for things to go wrong. It’s also a continual learning process. And then a big part of it for me is the continual realisation that bread was the main foodstuff that kept humans alive for thousands of years. It’s so simple – basically just wheat and water and fire.

Single batch recipe

Total flour weight: 440g

I use a 50/50 balance of whole wheat and baker’s flour. I tried 100% whole wheat for a long time but it’s pretty dense. This 50/50 is still pretty dense but better for you than 100% plain flour. The whole wheat has a lot of health benefits.

To make sourdough you need “starter”. It’s just fermented flour. You can buy it or get some off of someone else who is making sourdough – they usually have to throw a bunch of it out every week and are happy to share it. To make your own, just mix 100g of flour in a jar with 70-80g of water and let it sit on the bench for 6-12 hours. Then add more flour and water and let it sit for another 6-12 hours. Keep doing this until it starts to rise in the jar. Basically you are creating active yeast. The yeast is just in the air. It’s all around us. Some of it mixes in the flour and water and starts to feed on the flour. Then it causes fermentation. Keep this process going, usually for about a week, until the starter doubles in size in about 4-5 hours after you add new flour. Then put a lid on it and put it in the fridge. You now have active starter that you can use in your recipe.


  • [ ] Whole Wheat 220g. Buy it pre-milled or, as I do, buy whole wheat grain (aka berries) and mill it yourself in a blender. I prefer this as it seems more active when I bake it.
  • [ ] Baker’s Flour (just plain flour but has extra protein for baking bread) 220g

Mix these together.

  • [ ] Set aside 30% (132g) for kneading.

Mix in some room temp water (or whey if you have it, as I do, from Chrissy’s yoghurt production line, it’s a by-product, and contains lots of pro-biotics) until the dough it uniformly moist but not sloppy. Let it sit for 30 minutes. This is known as “autolys” and allows the wheat to absorb the liquid before you start kneading.

Add about 200g starter of your starter roughly (40% of the weight of the flour). Mix into the dough.

To top up your starter, just add more flour and water and let it sit on the bench until it doubles in size, then pop it back in the fridge.

Scoop your dough out onto a bench, table or large chopping board which has first been sprinkled liberally with the flour you set aside earlier.

Start kneading it. Kneading is just folding it, over and over. Fold it, and push it into itself. Repeat. Kneading is important because it helps promote “gluten”, which is the sticky strings of flour inside the dough that gives it some strength and firmness. Knead it for about 10-15 minutes. Add about 9g of salt (about 2% of the total weight of the dough) into the dough about halfway through the kneading process.

When you’ve finished kneading, the flour should seem firm and tight, you should be easily able to roll it up into a tight little ball. Cut a small piece off about the size of a golf ball and stretch it apart. If it stretches like skin, before it pulls apart, it’s ready.

Then you put it into a clean bowl, which you should spray first with some oil to stop the dough sticking. Cover it with a tea towel or glad wrap and let it sit for about 3-5 hours at about 26°. The dough will rise to about double its original size. You know it’s ready when it passes the poke test – you can poke it with your finger and the dough will slowly rise back to its original position. If it doesn’t bounce back, it hasn’t risen enough yet. Don’t leave it too long or it will over-ferment and be too soft and sloppy to bake. What’s happening inside of the dough is that the yeast is eating the flour and releasing gases. When it passes the poke test, put some baking paper onto a chopping board, spray it lightly with oil, and put the dough on top of it. Gently press it flat like a pizza. That’s pushing some of the gases out. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn your oven on to 220° and let it warm up for 30 minutes. Then boil the kettle and get two old wash clothes or something similar and roll them up into cylinders. When the kettle has boiled, place the wash cloths on the bottom of your oven and pour the boiling water over them. This will create steam in the oven which helps the dough rise.

While the oven is steaming up, go back to your dough. Now you’re going to “shape” it. I grab it in two hands and stretch it gently. The fold one end over the other, making an envelope shape. Turn it 90° and repeat. Keep repeating that until it’s too tight to stretch. Now turn it so the folds are on the bottom and keep stitching them together until you have a fairly tight little ball of dough. Place it back on the baking paper. I then lightly brush it with egg yolk mixed with water, and sprinkle some sesame seeds and Maldon Sea Salt on it. But that’s optional. Before you put it in the oven, take a razor blade or very sharp knife and “score” the top of the dough. Slice it about one centimetre deep. This helps the gas escape while it’s baking. If you don’t do that, the gases will tear holes in your bread.

When that’s done, pop it in the oven. I put mine on a pizza stone which has been in there heating up with the oven. I slide the dough, still on top of the baking paper, onto the stone. Shut the oven door and leave it there for five minutes. After five minutes, remove the baking paper (the bottom of the dough should be firm enough to allow the paper to be remove). This helps the base of the bread get fully baked on the stone. After another ten minutes, remove the wash cloths and allow some of the steam to escape from the oven. After fifteen more minutes, turn the oven up to 250 °. Then leave it another fifteen minutes and remove the bread from the oven. Put it on a cooling rack and leave it for 30-60 minutes. If you cut into it too soon, it might collapse. You should let the crust cool.

Do yourself a favour and spread some butter and honey onto a warm slice and eat it. That, my boys, is heaven, right there. If you want to make a woman fall in love with you, bake her some bread and feed her a slice with the butter and honey. She’ll be yours for life.


Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor in the second century CE. He was also a Stoic philosopher before he was made emperor. While he was emperor, he wrote notes to himself about how to be a good ruler, a good person and how to keep his mind at peace. Before he died he gave strict instructions that these ‘meditations’ were to be destroyed after he was gone, but his staff couldn’t bring themselves to do it, and we still have them today. They are called his “Meditations” and they are seriously some of the best and most timeless statements of wisdom that I’ve ever read. They align very well with my own philosophy, some of which I wrote down in my book “The Three Illusions” in 2011.

One of the great things about Aurelius’ book is that they usually take the form of short ideas.


“Disturbance comes only from within—from our own perceptions.”

“The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.”

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

“It was for the best. So Nature had no choice but to do it. That every event is the right one. Look closely and you’ll see.”


These are the ten things I have developed of the years that I measure my personal success on.

I realised a long, long time ago, that success, for me, isn’t about money or fame (although there’s nothing inherently wrong with those things). Personally I see success more in terms of the complete picture of my life. There are lots of people who have fame and money and are miserable. So these things aren’t the secret to a happy life. Poverty isn’t the secret either. I think you need to have your life in balance to be truly, deeply happy. And to have it in balance, you need to know where you are with all of the different aspects of life.

I remember reading Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” when I was about 20, and he had a really impactful exercise about his principal / habit of “Start With The End In Mind”. He suggested you should think about your own funeral and what you wanted people – family, friends, colleagues, members of the community – to say about you when you’re gone. Start with that – the legacy you want to leave behind – and then work backwards to determine what kind of life you want to live in order to justify those funeral orations.

My ten things isn’t really about my funeral, but about how I feel when I wake up every day. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve had money, and times when I haven’t, and I know that money isn’t really a factor in how I feel about my contribution as a human. It’s nice to have some financial security, but I wouldn’t trade any of the other nine things for money. I remember working at Microsoft and feeling like I was wasting my life. Sure, I had a nice house and a nice car and got to do lots of travel, but I felt like I was just spinning my wheels. Then podcasting came along, something I could really sink my teeth into, and while it didn’t come with the same kind of financial security as a regular job (although, we all know, jobs aren’t very secure either), I got way more enjoyment and fulfilment out of it than I ever did out of an office job.

Here’s my list, in no particular order (although money is deliberately at the bottom, because you can’t buy any of the other nine things with it). YMMV.

PEACE: Do I have good peace of mind?
JOY: Am I generally happy with my life?
HEALTH: Am I relatively healthy for my age?
LOVE: Am I in a loving, exciting, fulfilling relationship?
KIDS: Do I have a positive, loving relationship with my children?
FRIENDS: Do I have enough healthy friendships to fulfil my needs?
WORK: Is the work that I am doing fulfilling and leaving a positive impact on the world?
BALANCE: Am I happy with how I balance my time between work and family, friends and hobbies?
IMPACT: Am I contributing in some way to make society better?
MONEY: Do I earn enough money to have financial security?