Monday, April 27, 2015

On votes for women, raising hell, and your $20

How rare and amazing is it to set your sights on what you suspect might be your dream job, aggressively pursue said job, and find that in practice you love it even more than you could have imagined?

Well, it happened to me. And then I quit. Because something fell into my lap and I felt a sense of duty mixed with a sense of impending FOMO.

I would win the listserve while traveling across Iowa in a 12-passenger van on day five of my new job. I can't offer you any solid life advice because I don't know yet whether this crazy and borderline idiotic thing I just did will pay off or not.

But I do know that there is a reason I'm here. It's the thing that led me to my dream job (did I mention I loved that job?) and to this new situation and will probably ultimately drive me to do something even more outlandish at some future point. And that is that 95 years ago, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment (thanks, Harry T. Burn - google it) and [many] women gained the constitutional right to vote.

I think about this a lot. So much, in fact, that my only tattoo says "8.18.1920." I just can't get over the fact that less than 100 years ago, a bunch of badass women who were told to leave the politics to the menfolk decided they were going to be both seen and heard and fought like hell to demand a voice in their government. Women my age (27) and younger pulled together an epic suffrage parade on the day of President Wilson's inauguration, strategized with workers and society women, picketed the White House with the President's own words on democracy, met with senators they couldn't vote for, got arrested, went on hunger strikes in prison. And in the end, they won.

They made history - and now I feel I owe it to them to raise some hell. Or at the very least, vote.

Three options for what you could do next:

1) Watch the movie Iron Jawed Angels. Hillary Swank as Alice Paul (aka the most inspiring historical figure you've never heard of) is one of the best things that has ever happened in American cinema.
2) Go see what the Women on 20s campaign is all about, because as I have just explained, learning about women who made history makes this generation of women feel like we can do it, too. Obviously I voted for Alice Paul (see above).
3) Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote & has what they need on Election Day. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the number of voters disenfranchised in 2014 in North Carolina by harsh new voter ID laws and restrictions on voting hours may have been the margin of victory. What?! We cannot let that kind of thing happen in this country.

Do you also feel strongly about voting? Have a favorite historical figure who inspires you? Are you looking for someone to argue with about whether the National Woman's Party or the National American Woman Suffrage Association got the strategy right first? You should definitely tell me.

Thanks for reading & thanks to my friend Laura for telling me the Listserve existed. Read her newsletter, Everything Changes, because it is fabulous. I think you can subscribe through the Awl.

Council Bluffs, Iowa/Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On History

On History

Gavrilo Princip knew the tension in Europe
Was high, so he caused the whole nation to erupt
In a bloody war, and he went out and killed
Archduke Ferdinand and yo, that wasn't ill!

BOOM! Like a powder keg, the Earth exploded
Like a fat kid after dinner feeling bloated
Allied powers v. Axis powers
For four years? 24 hours if they had Jack Bauer

At first USA followed international law…


The above is what I can remember from the rap I wrote on World War I when I was about 15 for a World History class. I thought it was incredibly clever. I am glad to inform you all that as an adult, I now know that Europe is not, in fact, a nation, as I referred to it in the first stanza.


I currently live in Chicago, and am searching for a good tattoo artist who does detailed custom black & gray stuff, so if you’ve had any similar work done and it was a positive experience, please let me know!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Eating the Tangerine

Hello all,

Thanks so much for the opportunity for a few minutes of your time. I recognize the specialness of this experience, and thank you all for the chance to be a part of it! If you’re strapped for time, just jump to the centered paragraph at the end.

I’m at a place in life where I’m more exhausted than I think I've ever been. It’s been a rough two years. It was a place of privilege and opportunity that left me this tired, but at the end of the day, it doesn't make it any easier to put one foot in front of the other.

I was so exhausted that when I got the email that I had won, I honestly thought about just passing, since the pressure of writing anything felt like too much. Isn't that crazy? Has anyone else thought the same thing? Previously, when I thought about winning, I always had images or idea of sending something fun and positive.

So with that, this is the best I have for you: Something that has helped me before was mindfulness. Not sure, maybe it can help someone else. My favorite passage on mindfulness is below by Thich Nhat Hanh from The Miracle of Mindfulness. There are more sections than 600 words allow, so check it out.

The place it’s easiest for me to be mindful is in the kitchen. In the coming weeks, I’m going to have more free time than I know what to do with, and to be honest, that’s frightening. If you have a recipe you love, please send it on.

Thanks for the chance to focus on one section of the tangerine tonight. If you’re ever in the Washington, D.C area and looking for a good conversation or someone to grab a cup of coffee with, let me know!

Many years ago, a young man named Jim Forest asked me to teach him about the practice of mindfulness. But when I offered him some tangerines, he continued telling me about the many projects he was involved in — his work for peace, social justice, and so on. He was eating, but, at the same time, he was thinking and talking. I was really there, and that is why I was aware of what was going on. He peeled a tangerine, tossed the sections of it into his mouth, and quickly chewed and swallowed. I said, “Jim, stop! Eat your tangerine.” He looked at me and understood. So he stopped talking and began to eat much more slowly and mindfully. He separated each of the remaining sections, smelled their beautiful fragrance, put one section at a time into his mouth, and felt all the juices surrounding his tongue. Tasting and eating his tangerines in this way took a few minutes, but he knew we had the time for that. When he finished, I said, “Good.” I knew that the tangerine had become real, the eater of the tangerines had become real, and life had become real at that moment. What is the purpose of eating a tangerine? It is to eat the tanger­ine. During the time you eat a tangerine, eating that tanger­ine is the most important thing in your life

Washington, D.C

Friday, April 24, 2015

Music Goosebumps

Hello everyone!

There's a phenomenon that exists only auditorily, wherein certain sounds or musical phrases can elicit a response similar to having sex, eating fried food or doing recreational drugs. You feel a chill down your spine, you get goosebumps on your skin, and you become slightly euphoric (due to the sudden flood of dopamine).

While infrequent, this response to certain musical phrases or sounds makes the act of listening to music one of the most pleasurable activities in which one can engage. I've therefore spent a good amount of time digging through my mental trove of sounds that cause me to react this way, and have shared them with you below.

You can copy and paste the string of characters below to the end of Youtube's homepage URL (or replace that same part of the URL of any specific Youtube video) to be taken to the exact part of the song I've specified.

The harmonica solo in Beautiful Way by Beck:


The synth breakdown in Hustler by Simian Mobile Disco:

/watch?v=I_64fZcttGg&t=2m38s (even more fitting as the melody undergoes changes to the attack, decay, sustain and release while being played...coincidentally the name of the album)

The rockabilly guitar lick in Julius by Phish:

/watch?v=pCtsvVRsqv0&t=4m9s (this one's hard to distinguish from the rest of the music, but it's faded towards the right channel if that helps)

The entirety of Gossipo Perpetuo by Jean-Jacques Perrey:


The start/stop of the beginning of Deathbag by Hannibal Montana


The key change in Alfonso Muskedunder by Todd Terje:


The ascending and descending guitar lick in Machu Picchu by The Strokes:

/watch?v=3JxoUo43Zg8&t=1m3s (this one's also hard to make out, and also in the right channel)

The galloping, arpeggiated synth throughout Rydeen by Yellow Magic Orchestra:


The ascending transition in Arcades by C2C:


The first several notes of Like a Ghost in Your Own Life by Ulrich Schnauss:


The main section of Mass by Virtual Boy:


I'd love to hear from you all if there are any pieces of music that make you react in this same way. Feel free to email me as I'd love to hear them!

New York City, New York State, One Oh One Oh Eight

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I've won the Listserve! - Apologize ahead for any spelling mistakes.

Here we go. I was homeless for about 2 months. My fault, my mistakes;
I won't talk about them here. I do want to share with you some
interesting circumstances I lived through during these 2 long months.

Food was hard to come by but I got to know where free meals were being
served eventually. Some places were great, others not so. When I
finally got into a homeless shelter this one short woman who though
she was the queen of the world kicked me out for laughing at her. I
tried to stop myself but she got so caught up in the fact that there
was a pillow thief running around. So I went to this horrible shelter.
Drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. I tried using the restroom but because
that was the only place with no cameras, all the addicts would snort,
inject, smoke stuff and there was always a perpetual haze in there. I
would come out all dizzy and light-headed from the fumes.

This one time, a dude I've never seen before tried to show me
something in the bathroom. It glinted shiny so my immediatte though
was "knife!" I raised my hand to block it and was about to hit him
when it was revealed to be just a lighter. Whew...

I also apperantly took some dude's spot and he got all pissy. He got
kicked out, his brother didn't. I spent the whole night stressed and
with one eye open thinking I was going to be shanked by the brother.
Luckily, I got out of there quick as the better shelter had a vacancy.
I made sure to stay away from that Short Queen.

I had one last trial before getting out of homelessness: I fell into a
Catch-22. I had already started a nice, Monday to Friday job. Too bad
the DMV isn't open on Saturdays so I couldn't get an ID for a pretty
long time. I needed my ID to cash my check, but I need my check cashed
to pay for an ID. Luckily, a coworker helped me out by cashing my
check for me. And then I find out I need to wait 2 weeks before
receiving it in the mail. That was convenient /s.

We played a lot of cards. Talked a lot about random things. It
actually surprised me that I could find other "normal" people there. I
guess life doesn't discriminate when it wants to hit hard. It just
sucks that mistakes people make follow them for a long time after
they've been made. And when humans do try to get their life turned
around, it feels like every stride one takes, the government hits you
and tries to keep you from improving. Poor tax. I had to pay huge fees
just because I was poor which kept me poor. Even though I've never
been addicted to anything, I think me trying to climb out of
homelessness and poverty was a sort of metaphor the Universe wanted me
to understand for what addicts were going through.

Thank you, Universe. Thanks for the enemies, thanks for the friends.
Thanks for... perspective.

Bangor, Maine

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tinder Poetry?

Hi all, I am going to keep it pretty short today.

I am not a writer, a poet, or anything related by training. But I like to jot in the margins--create someone's story on BART (public transit), have a solo-beer and draw etc.

I am curious to hear what y'all think about this poem, and if you really want to take it to the next level, workshop it and send me edits!

"I want to set you up with the girl I am tindering"

I'm lost in your bloody marry tree house.
Rope swinging by fibers of your savory thoughts,
Splashing on the shores of your vodka soaked vitamin D,
Drying off on a beached bun,
Tiptoeing on the rim of your glass.

I tumble off your edge,
Cascading down oblique hills of olives.
I plummet through vodka paradise,
Straight into a pillow of pulp.

You look down,
Open your mouth,
and without words,
Swallow me whole.

Oakland, CA

Also huge shout out to my main man Shark in Gurgaon and DBenny who is in the room as I type this. SURPRISE!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Everything and nothing

Hey People!

Funny how i get to send this mail right now. This morning i realized that i've been collecting listserve emails for over a year without reading them so i started to read them again and will keep reading a couple of them a day until i read them all and it’s great!
I am sorry in advance for the text, i will probably jump from one text to another.

Something about me maybe. I am computer security enthusiast, beginner Geocacher (check out Geocaching), programmer both private and professionally, nerd and a little bit of an all doer.
I used to think that the word nerd were negative and usually got angry when someone called me that but i changed my mind and now i think is great to be a nerd. It usually means that you are an enthusiast of something and i would guess pretty good at it. From my perspective it seems like the nerds are more fun than other people as well.

This weekend me and my girlfriend went geocaching in the forest nearby and it was pretty exciting because it was the first time we tried it, so there we went on this real life treasure hunt.
We went into the forest a sunny afternoon and we brought out our map with the coordinates to this first treasure and pretty fast we saw that it wasn’t too far away. When we got closer to the coordinates there was a wooden bridge. We went over it and down one of the sides carefully to not slip into the water and checked under it. And would you look at that…

A horrific toad!

No actually there was a magnetic PET tube with paper and a pencil inside. We logged our visit and got on our way again. Brought up our map and checked the coordinates to the next treasure.
We got deeper into the forest and picked up a couple of caches on our way but we were on our way to one specific cache, at an old army training field.
We got to the specified coordinates but could not really find anything but dead trees and we almost gave up, my girlfriend told me that we should give it one last try and so we did! I got back to the first place i looked at and found a little door with a broken lock. I opened it and will you look at that! An old bunker, i gave my girlfriend the flashlight and crawled inside to get a better look, it went down and had a door on the other side as well. I saw that door before but it was locked.
I went down and took some easy steps because it was some trash down there and BOOM! the door closed hard and it went pitch black… a scream! me i realized soon enough. I crawled up and clawed for the door and, puh! the door went up and there she was smiling her brightest smile that went into a laugh… I grinned at her and told her that if she wanted this treasure she had to get into the bunker as well to light the way. We got down there again and after a while we found it! It was a great cache, not many other had found it. A great day!

If you are in the IT business you will probably appreciate a tumblr called Devops Reactions, search for it. It is great!

I would love to hear from other Geocachers and get your stories!

Pontus Nyberg