Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We're all normal...

...so get over it and enjoy yourself. Also, change all your passwords - search for heartbleed.


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Next What's For Lunch App

I often get asked why I pursue social justice. My mother was super involved in extra-curriculars (PTA, Girl Scouts, etc) but we never volunteered as a family. I've always been internally motivated - I found Alternative Spring Break my freshman year at University of Illinois. ASB is an organization that sends service learning trips for college students over academic breaks. The focus is more on education and changing the individuals on the trip than on service. I went on 7 trips in 5 years, issues ranging from Hunger and Homelessness to Youth Literacy to Environmental Issues, served on the planning board, and made friends that I can't imagine life without. I'm still involved in by serving on the Board of Directors for Break Away, overseeing the national movement of service learning trips and building lifelong active citizens.

I get frustrated when so many smart brains spend their time building the next "What's for Lunch" Apps - so many people only see "First World Problems" and spend a ton of time, money, and smarts solving non-problems. (That's not to say I won't pay $.99 for that Whats for Lunch app. A girl's gotta eat.)

After graduating with a degree in General Engineering and a minor in computer science, I went to work for Accenture. I spent most of college thinking I would join Teach For America; I felt like I was selling out when I joined. Post Accenture I served as as IT manager and eventually Interim VP of IT for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a non profit focused on early childhood education in the US. It turns out the skills I picked up at Accenture working for "the man" are incredibly invaluable in the non-profit world - an industry that drastically needs data and technology help and smart brains to solve big problems.

I currently work at a startup called GiveForward - we are a crowdfunding platform for medical expenses. If you know anyone that has Medical related expenses (even pets! or travel related to medical procedures) check out GiveForward, start a fundraiser, and email me about it - we've raised over $90 million dollars for individuals in the US. We have a collection of amazing stories - Pat and Jess that were injured in last year's Boston Marathon Bombing and Lacey Holsworth, an 8 year old girl that befriended a Michigan State Basketball player. We we share stories amongst our staff that will have you crying at your desk - sometimes tears of joy, sometimes genuine tears of sadness.

I have a few asks for you :
I'd love to hear the causes/big problems you care about. Find me on Twitter @Lnhaynes or email back here!
Learn a little bit about Human Centered Design (there's a course by Ideo and Plus Acumen that's free) and find a way of identifying and solving a real problem.
My birthday is April 28th. For my birthday I'm raising money to help Break Away build out it's website - the website cost was about 3x what we expected it to be, $15,000 in total. If you'd consider checking out my campaign, that would be awesome. To find it, go to Razoo and search for "Lauren's Birthday - Give Break Away a New Website"
Check out these other organizations I love :
Dance For Parkinson's
University YMCA - Champaign, IL
United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee
Splash - Seattle, Washington
2nd Story Chicago
Streetside Stories, San Francisco, CA

Lauren Haynes
Chicago, IL

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Near Death

Hello listservians!

I was 48 years ago ( a few years ago, im 52 now) I was out of a job, but working for friends, scraping by, looking for another job, pretty stressed out (working in computer support, hating it) Overweight, didn't exercise, ate ok, but not the best. (Texas BBQ hard to pass up) Had a long suffering wife and a beautiful young daughter> my previous job was sitting in a chair 10 hours a day, helping others with computer issues. One night, after a big meal of brisket, I went to bed.
My daughter, who was 8 at the time, came into our bed room a little scared of something and wanted to sleep in our bed. She had not done this in at least a year or so.
I got up, let her slide in between my wife and I and, at this point I noticed my arm hurt, like I had slept on it funny. I decided to go downstairs for an advil, and by the time I had got downstairs, I was sweating and my fingers were going numb. I went back upstairs and google these two things. webMD only said "CALL 911" which I did
I woke my wife, told her and she got up and started getting things together. At this time my chest hurt, my neck hurt, my hands and fingers were numb. The 911 operator had told me to chew up some aspirin, which i had done. My chest REALLY hurt now, exactly like they describe it. An elephant sitting on it. A big one.
The EMS paramedics got there in 5 minutes. They put me on a gurney and got me to the hospital in 8 more minutes. They rushed me in, had a doctor there waiting, xrayed me determined I had blockage in "the widowmaker" Left anterior Descending. The artery that feeds blood to the heart. He stented me, I was wheeled into the recovery. felt great. Next thing I knew, i was woken up by about 300 joules of electricity. This happened about 8 more times. Not fun, extremely painful. They finally got another stent into me and got my heart started again.
It seems that the first stent had collapsed and caused complete blockage of my LAD, essentially killing me, Not fun. But after 4 days in CICU I walked out.
Really happy to be alive. My wife and I dropped meat and dairy and eggs from our diet, I lost 50 pounds, in 2 years got a great result on all my labs and stress test.
I had known I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but did nothing about it. I did not drink, smoke, use any drugs of any kind except for advil.
I am lucky to be alive, but now feel a little like i'm not so indestructible as I did before, and I worry sometimes I will not wake up when I go to bed. I hope that feeling goes away.

Feel free to email me about anything, I would love to hear from any of you!

Stuff I listen to:
Portugal The Man
Foster the people
Kid Karate
Still love Stephen King
anything by a comedian
Iain Banks (Greatest sci-fi author ever, recently past away)

Be Nice,
Jim Koppenhaver
Austin, Texas

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I know why we're all unemployed

We were born in the 80s and 90s, a privileged generation riding the greatest economic boom in recorded history.
They told us that specialization was for insects. As tomorrow's leaders, we should broaden our horizons with band and orchestra, soccer and swimming: without this cultural grounding, we'd be laughed out of Park Avenue, forced to work at a second-rate firm.
Today, the second-rate firm is bankrupt and Park Avenue isn't hiring.
We'd declare bankruptcy if it would wipe out our student debt.

Our majors were English and History, Psychology and Sociology.
We wanted to be well-rounded heirs to the economic throne.

Now, we live with our parents.

We are capable, but our education prepared us for the 20th century.
We learned how to run shopping malls, not app stores.

In 2014, even entry level positions are hard to come by.
Without a PhD in Computer Science, how can we compete in the 21st century economy?

I've thought a lot about our generation's brutal underemployment.
The closest parallel I could find was the Industrial Revolution.

Once factories took over America, millions of farmers found themselves unemployed.
But a few years later, most of these same farmers became top-notch factory workers.

The same thing is happening right now.
There's infinite profit potential on the Internet, but most people have no idea how to uncover it.
The new age of work will be far more entrepreneurial, no longer consolidated amongst a few giant corporations. Why work for Walmart when you can make more money at home?
Best of all, the future has already begun.
If you know what you're doing, you can make a great living online with no real technical skills.
There are a ton of weird niche activities and markets you can get involved with online.
It's a world full of Bitcoins and banner ads, a libertarian wonderland where profit is the only constant.

The knowledge is out there. Google and Wikipedia alone will teach you everything you need to know.
Good luck!

Selfless Plug:
My company is hiring interns, both physically in NYC and remote / Internet only.
It's a fairly entrepreneurial startup where pay is based on measurable performance.
We're going to legitimately train and manage you, so it won't be a coffee-gopher-ship.
Reply to this email if you're interested.

Thanks for reading my email. Keep it real!
Jim S.
New York, NY

Friday, April 18, 2014

Excerpts from Three Books

“...But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?...‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.
Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”
“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there...Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness...I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden
You have to carry the fire.
I don't know how to.
Yes, you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don't know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It always was there. I can see it.

- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

May I never be complete.
May I never be content.
May I never be perfect. 

- Chuck Palahuniuk, Fight Club
I wanted to share these excerpts from three of the books I most cherish. If you haven’t read one of them, or any of them, you really should. They are excellent. 
Words are beautiful and sacred. Handle them with care. 

With Love,
San Diego, CA

P.s. If there is anyone out there who is going to law school, or is practicing in the legal field, I would love to hear from you. I will be attending UCLA Law School in the fall and participating in their David Epstein Public Interest and Law Program. I would greatly appreciate any advice you may have!

P.s.s. Thank you Amie for being my friend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Recently I almost died. My esophagus tore open when I was cycling the Alpine Dam/Seven Sisters loop, just north of San Francisco.

My chest blew up like a balloon. I went to the hospital that evening. They said I had about a 60% shot at making it more than a day or two.

I was alone in the hospital all night. My extended family lives far away, and my wife couldn't leave work.

That night I realized I'd never confronted what it meant to die.

I'm a young guy, early 30s. At an intellectual level I know I won't live forever. And out of vanity and ego, I've always told myself that I'll die without fear and without regrets.

It turns out that looming death makes that kind of knowledge cold comfort, and reveals the flimsiness of those self-perceptions. I was afraid I'd die alone and I regretted that I hadn't done more with my life.

And most of all, I realized I didn't know how to die well. If I had gone that night, I would have gone out gasping and terrified, not with grace, love, and simplicity. 

In the end I lived (clearly!). But the question remained: how does one confront death honestly?  

Here's the best answer I've found so far. Apologies to Thich Nhat Hanh, for so roughly approximating his thoughts on the matter. Here goes.

The ocean is full of waves that go up and go down. Some are towering and immensely powerful, others small and gentle. They start far out at sea, and then they crash on the beach and are gone. At the same time, a wave is the water. And the water is the wave. You can't separate the two. When the wave crashes, it becomes water again...which it always was.

The beginning and end of a wave are like a person’s birth and death. We are ourselves, and we are also made up of everything else: other people, the earth, plants, sun, the sky, and all the elements. We are and have always been inseparable. And we begin, and ultimately, we die. And when we die we become what we have always been: everything else.

And while we celebrate the birth of a wave (so exciting to see one coming!), we don't mourn its death. Because we know that wave is the water, and the water still lives, and will live for longer than we can imagine.  

We're like the waves. We’re born and we die, and at the same time we're not born and we don't die.

That’s it. Reach out anytime! Always happy to meet fellow "waves" on this trip across the ocean. Especially if those waves like road biking, craft beer, and video games. :)

San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Enlarge your peanuts

1/ What I like to read in Listserve is quick stories about people, so here is mine : My life was a mess, I've been unemployed for years around my 30's, it was really hard for me to get out of this situation because I'm terrible at selling myself. Now my life is still a mess but I've found a good job so it's easier. I like spaghettis.
2/ Stop being selfish, seriously. I might cross your path someday and I don't like selfish people.
3/ I wish I had discovered sooner AFS (American Field Service - it's not what you think, if you think you can guess by the name, or if you think it's somehow related to spaghettis).
4/ When your story isn't interesting, add spaghettis.
5/ If necessary, add spaghettis to spaghettis.
6/ Spaghettis spaghettis spaghettis.

Simeon Rouflaquette