Thursday, August 30, 2012

Free Ideas!

The following are random ideas of things that I will never execute on. If any of these sound cool to you please make them happen:
1. Stoplights could be much more efficient. Think of the millions of cars idling right now at an annoying stoplight for now good reason contributing to global warming.
2. Bananas should be sold in bunches of varying ripeness. That way all your bananas don't go bad at the same time and everyday you have another perfectly ripe banana.
3. A TV show like Extreme Makeover but for helping people get out of debt. Shows how terrible people are at money management skills and then helps them with budgeting, saving, etc.
4. Moistened toilet paper that is flushable, like the wipes parents use to change diapers. More sanitary, antibacterial, fresh smelling.
5. Babysitting rooms at movie theaters. Gyms have them, why not movie theaters?
6. Gear share program at vacation destinations. It sucks renting umbrellas and stuff when you go to the beach. Other vacationers who are leaving when you're arriving can hand off the stuff they used.
7. Washers and dryers should be combined. I think these exists but why aren't they the norm? Moving your wet clothes from the washer to the nearly identical looking dryer is stupid. I'm sure one machine could do both.
8. Bike-In restaurants.
9. All movie trailers should end with a form that allows you to submit your info and address so you are alerted when the movie comes to your local theater or becomes available to buy.

Zach Olsen
Boulder, CO

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kane’s mud run story


Here is most embarrassing moment:

About 6 years ago, I entered a 6km run. It was over farmland, in muddy swamps, along very muddy farm tracks and crashing through bushes.

At the end of the race everyone was totally mud-covered.

I went through to the changing rooms. Now, I have never really played team sports or been to the gym much… so was not very used to, or comfortable with the communal nakedness that a changing room presents. I have always been a bit body conscious, but really I was just not used to public nakedness.

I manned up though and went for it. Luckily I was the only guy in the changing rooms at the time, so I had time to compose myself. I took a deep breath and stripped naked. I looked quite a sight, all covered in mud apart from where my clothes and just been.

I walked into the next room where the showers were.

Nervously…but with new found confidence.

I turned the corner and found all the showers were taken and…that I was the ONLY NAKED GUY IN THE ROOM!

Everyone else was still in their muddy shorts, cleaning them as they showered.

None of the showers were free and everyone felt very awkward about my naked presence.

All I had to protect my dignity was a bar of soap. But I had committed.

I stood staunch until someone finally broke ranks and left.

I take this opportunity to thank that stranger


Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

Why do people become teachers? I often wonder this as I constantly read and see the attack on teachers and public education in general. This question is particularly interesting to me because of my profession- I teach future teachers. I teach learning theories, motivational theories, and theories about working with diverse populations. However, I am at a loss about explaining the complexities of teaching in today’s climate. Do I tell my students the truth about how hard it will be? That they will work 10-12 hour days most of the year with pay that does not correspond to having a professional degree and license. That they will be told constantly that they must do or try one new thing,even if they don’t think it’s right for their students. Or do I tell them to remember their passion. To love and teach their students as if they were their own children. I hope I can balance the truth with the hope that I have for my students.

Leah Johnson
Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cats, Meow

Here is a small fact:

You are going to die.

-The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Sorry if that abrupt introduction startled you; I had to get your attention somehow, you know. One day I woke up and discovered the inevitability of certain death, and that frightened me to no end. I began to feel like my time was running out. I felt helpless. But then I realized that worrying over this wouldn't change anything, and I decided to enjoy my life, however short, instead.

Many people get caught up in the hustle and bustle of working for a far away future and forget to be happy.

So take a step back.

Set aside that paperwork and drive to a nearby park.



Learn how to salsa.

Go on a scavenger hunt for groovy socks.

Adopt a cat… or three.

Try to devote a mere 24 hours of your life to you and your happiness, cause let’s face it;

Someday we’re all going to fade into oblivion.

Every last memory of us will be erased from reality.

So stop worrying over the petty grudges and problems of today and start being happy instead. :)

Michelle Huang

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The View From 65

Embrace love in all of its forms, live with a strong connection to your higher self, laugh loudly and often … with yourself as your main source of amusement.

Eliminate manufactured fear. Root out all messages and warnings of fear instilled within you by parents, teachers, leaders, TV, media and your imagination. Look around you and see the ways you are safe, secure and empowered. Regardless of your circumstances, there is good in your life. See it, acknowledge it, enjoy it and be thankful.

Life is an adventure. There’re opportunities every day to learn new things, meet new people, gain new perspective and explore new ideas … many only appear once. Don’t miss them.

Tell your truth of the moment. (It will evolve as you grow and change.) Be authentic by your definition, not what others cast upon you.

Treat each person you meet as the unique individual they are. Learn something from every person. Notice their eyes; their spirit, their beauty. Acknowledge them with a smile, nod or thought.

Become aware of your negative and judgmental thoughts. Counter them with love. Forgive yourself for actions that have hurt others. Vow to change the behavior. Forgive those who have hurt you because in doing so, you make room for love, laughter and joy.

Remember and honor those who have loved, cherished, protected, guided, taught, and, yes, even those who have pissed you off.

The way I see it, Love is a much better place from which to live a life.

Thank you.

Penny Rice
Columbia, Maryland USA

Add Some Music To Your Day

How often do you listen to music? I mean, really listen? I could go on about actual scientific studies that link music to a whole host of physical and psychological benefits, but rather than rattle on here, try it.

A musician myself, I’ve played the piano for about half my life. I don’t profess to be any good, in fact I’d say I’m rather rubbish (though my friends & fans would likely say otherwise). In the beginning, I would do everything by rote. Always playing from sheet music, never improvising, and not truly understanding the underlying logic of what I was playing. It was not until I shipped off to college sans my mammoth sheet music collection that I first forced myself to try to play from memory – I recall repeatedly enthusing myself with the crashing I-V-IV progression of The Who’s Baba O’Riley and feeling better than I ever did playing Chopin.

I’ve since found that by simply listening to music on a regular basis, I’ve become a better musician, and my life has improved too. I started writing my own tunes, and running regularly listening to music, getting into the best shape of my life. I put together a band called The Medicine (music is medicine, after all) and have a whole bunch of material that you can find under my own name (or username brtnlewis) on SoundCloud. I’d appreciate your feedback on my own creations, and any thoughts or musings on any of this stuff in general.


Let's talk about privilege (baby, let's talk about you and me)

We're all assholes.

I was on the last leg of a road trip Friday, passing through El Paso on my way home to Austin. Speeding along the highway, I looked across the Rio Grande and into Mexico. It's nothing but a river that draws the line between these two countries, but that river's arbitrary contours divide wealth from poverty, safety from violence. It's just a river, but there's no question on which side you'd rather exist.

Isn't that dumb?

I'm baffled by how much things over which we have no control shape our lives. Race, gender, national origin-- these characteristics are all determined by the roll of some metaphysical die before birth, and yet drastically affect our life experience. For me, being white meant the border patrol agents in Arizona didn't harass me. However, being a woman meant my heartbeat quickened when I walked past a group of men in an isolated part of Seattle.

We're all assholes because we each possess certain unearned privileges that others don't, and probably don't reckon with that thought enough. I highly recommend reading "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh and "The Male Privilege Checklist" by Barry Deutsch, if you haven't.

If despair sets in, give a listen to the most beautiful song I've ever heard: "Two Doves" by Dirty Projectors. Or email me and let's figure this out.

Caitlin Boehne
Austin, Texas

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Questions for The Listserve, cc You and 20k others

To: The Listerve founders- Alvin et al.
cc: all

-I like this idea. What excites me is that someone might surprise us with something beautiful and true. One or two people have come close. But, does it matter if most emails aren't that great?

-If someone says something beautiful and true, someone will post that somewhere else, and it will go viral by the usual wonders of the internet. Why subscribe? Won't I hear about the amazing truth bomb in another corner of the internet?

-Is turnover high? People coming on for a week, then leaving. Does that matter?

-How is the listserve going to grow? It seems stuck.

-Usually, listserves serve a specific community of interest. What’s our common denominator? What similar themes have you seen in the emails?

-Also, usually, a listserve becomes a conversation. People reply, and we see the replies- good and crazy. There isn't really a conversation here. Does that matter?

Enough questions. All- I enjoy your random emails; life is weird and often sad. For me, it’s comforting to hear people express how they live. Thanks.

More selfishly, I’m a flight attendant for a shitty, regional airline. But I’m a good flight attendant. Got a better flight attendant job for me? Want me to use my free flights in service of your ends? Like, I could be your special agent courier, or something? Alec Baldwin? Email w/ jobs or your answers:

Love to you and the planet.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

broken heart

I recently discovered (through Capoeira) the absolute joy that practising sports can be. I've felt more awake, my posture and body control have improved dramatically, and most of all I've been having tons of fun. But the story doesn't end there.

The thing is, my heart is broken. Literally. I have a genetic disease that deforms the heart over time, causing it to pump less efficiently, so every physical activity is more demanding. Every time I overexert myself I risk permanent damage to my heart, making the condition worse. I've known this for a while now, but I had been ignoring it and pushing myself to the limit nonetheless, just because I couldn't deal with the idea of reverting to my old unfit self. I'm slowly learning to accept my limitations, however, no matter how unfair they feel, and am trying to find a middle way that keeps me fit and protects my heart at the same time.

I want you guys to take a minute today to appreciate the wonder of this incredibly complex and fragile machinery we inhabit, which keeps ticking along day in and day out, without us even noticing until something goes wrong. Maybe take another minute and ask yourselves if you are putting enough effort into maintaining it, considering you'll be stuck inside for the next 20, 50, 80 years. And if you have a suggestion for an awesome, low-intensity sport that's engaging and fun, I would absolutely love to hear it!

Vitor Bosshard
Z├╝rich, Switzerland

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's meet, internet stranger.

Hello, stranger.

My name is Nicole. I live in Brooklyn, NY, work at Kickstarter, and I like knitting, tiny instruments, and avocados. I'm interested in internet communities, but what really tickles me is bridging that terrifying gap between cyberspace and meatspace.

So, let's try something.

On Sunday, August 26th at 1 pm EST, I am going to be at the following coordinates:


(Note: If you're using an iPhone, Google Maps does a weird thing where sometimes it shows you an incorrect pin on a path nearby, which isn't the right place, but it should show the correct pin on a computer. If it looks like it's in the middle of nowhere, it's correct. Email me for details. Or leave it up to fate.)

I will bring a blanket, a kite, a ukulele, and food. You will be there too, bringing your friends, your dogs, your friends' dogs, cookies, napkins, instruments, brown-bagged beer, and anything or anyone else you'd like. It's entirely possible that it'll just be you and me, sitting awkwardly around a bowl of browning guacamole. Or maybe it'll be you and me and 20,915 of our closest internet friends. Who knows?

I have a mole under my eye and I'll be wearing red.

See you soon.

Nicole He
Brooklyn, NY

Monday, August 20, 2012

Work as hard as everyone else

I worked as a caddie on a golf course during my teenage years. One morning I was working for Rappaport and Haas, two older gentleman that had retired and played golf together every morning. The three of us went through almost the entire round without saying more than a few words to one another. The silence was broken on the tee box of the 16th hole, a 180 yard par 3, while waiting for a group of ladies to finish up on the green. Haas said to me, "So Brian what are you studying in college?" as he swung his golf club lazily against the short grass. I replied, "Computer Science." Then Haas asked, "What do you want to do with your degree in Computer Science?" I answered, "I'm not really sure, but I know I want to be independently wealthy so I can play golf like you guys." Mr. Rappaport's ears perked, he turned, pulled the cigar from his mouth, and interjected, "If you want to be successful it's very simple: All you have to do is work as hard as everyone else, and then work harder." And I stood there in silence for he taught me as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Brian Donohue
Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, August 19, 2012

and now for something completely different...

I didn't expect that I would be writing to you all so soon. Timing is everything. My internet service will end tomorrow as I prepare to leave the country for an extended period. For a long while I have thought about what it would be like to live with "one robe, one bowl" but it seemed so hard to let go of all my carefully chosen earthly goods. The Universe and the airlines have conspired to make my thoughts a reality. One suitcase. 50 pounds. And a lot of soul searching. More than 60 years of collecting has turned into 3 months of giving away and donating everything that will not fit into the suitcase. I believe I have been given an opportunity to live my dream, and with that, a chance to get clear about what is really important in this all too brief life. With that in mind: it is our relationships, not our "stuff" that is truly important. The ones you love will live forever in your mind and heart. Life is short, but we can cause our experience of it to be deep and wide. There is no distance too great for thoughts to travel. Dreams come true. Be ready.

Michigan, USA

Making A Movie

I'm making a movie tomorrow. Well, me, and a bunch of other very talented people. It's a short film with a super-low budget. It's hard to know how these sorts of things are going to turn out (I've been involved in similar projects before), but I think it will be good. I'm a older than most of the people working on the project, some times a LOT older (I'm over 49!), but that doesn't really bother me (hopefully it doesn't bother anyone else!). I love how the internet has allowed all of us involved to find each other and share our ideas and make this project happen. I hope this is the first of many. And I hope anyone reading this that has some sort of creative idea that they can find like-minded people and they can get their ideas made.

Dave Thomas
Baltimore, MD

Friday, August 17, 2012

I love Ideas

In the past years I learned there is nothing more enjoyable for me than ideas. Since I think that Math is the science of ideas, I would like to share the following proof: Maybe you have heard of prime numbers. These are natural numbers greater than one and only divisible by one and themselves, so 2 is prime, also 3 and 5,7,11, ... Well, how long does it go on after the "..."? Infinitely long! A Greek mathematician called Euclid, who lived around 300 BC, showed this the following way. Let's say there is just a finite number of primes. If we multiply them and add one, we get a new number, let's call it x. x can either be prime or not. If x is prime we have found a number, which is not in our prime number set, which was therefore not complete. If x is not prime, there is a number y, which divides x. But y isn't in our prime number set, because no number in this set can divide x. So also in this case the set wasn't complete. Since we can do this for any finite number of primes, there has to be an infinite number of them ... TADA! (or how we mathematicians say: QED)

Vienna, Austria

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Good Life

As of this week, I have been in LA for 7 months pursuing my dream of becoming a TV writer. Though I work multiple jobs (none of them full-time), I may soon run out of money. Last week, I had an emotional breakdown upon realizing that I may have to give up on my dream (or at least go about it in a different way). I’m alternating between wanting to throw in the towel, and wanting to push myself just a little bit harder in order to stay out here. Things are definitely a bit tough right now.

But, as I sit here on the floor of my bedroom, stress-eating Chex mix and inhaling caffeine while I complete work for one job before I go to work at another job, I just want to say:

Life is good.

I’m healthy. I have a loving family and a caring boyfriend. I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. If I died in a freak snowboarding accident, at least 10 people would miss me.

Whenever people give me advice on my future, they all say something like, “things will work out in the end!” or “your time is almost coming!” But the thing is, it is just as possible that my time isn’t coming, and things won’t work out in the end.

Maybe I never get to do what I wanted to do in my career. I’ve already been so fortunate in ways that I take for granted every single day, and maybe my career is the one part of my life that won’t be as I envisioned. I guess we’ll find out.

Either way, life is good.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear from all of you, especially if you have some awesome life advice (or if you want to offer me a kickass job). No pressure.

Julissa Castillo
Los Angeles, CA

PS, Go ‘Dores!

Start running your race now

One Sunday in February 2010, I was at brunch with some friends, and I mentioned that I had an interest in taking up running. As friends are known to do, they egged me on until we decided that, as a group, that we would run a 5K together. I started the Couch to 5K program the next day and 9 weeks later was able to run the 5K faster than my friends, some of whom were experienced runners.

Having been able to do 3.1 miles, I was bitten by the bug. I began the Couch to 10K program, and then sought out other training programs online. The first weekend of January 2011, I was able to run my first half marathon. With 13.1 miles completed, there was only one other goal left to achieve. Ten months later, I was able to run the ING NYC Marathon with American Cancer Society's Team Determination. Less than two years after taking the running first steps, and with the support and enthusiasm of my friends, I was able to run 26.1 miles through the streets of New York.

I was 35 when I first began running and am now, two and a half years later, an avid runner. I have run dozens of races of varying length and am preparing to run my third marathon. Having started so late in life, I was able to prove to myself that you can learn new things and set new goals for yourself at any age.

0.01% percent of all people have run a marathon, what can you start doing now that so few other people have accomplished?

Jon Lazar
New York

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some random tips to maybe improve something in your life

Dear Listservers,

I'm still figuring out how a lot of stuff works in life. I like to think that I get it right most of the times, but of course I fuck up a lot too.

I believe that's what it means to be human.

Here are some random tips/insights I've had that will hopefully improve your life or either give you something to think about, they did for me.

1) A clean house is one of the best things, but sometimes seems an impossible task. Just set out to de-clutter a little bit each day. I started by making my bed every morning, it only takes 5 minutes, but drastically improves the room. A mini-challenge: I'd like you to stop whatever you're doing right now, and clear off the nearest surface (be it a kitchencounter or desk) for the next 15 minutes… Go!

2) When people do shitty things and you call them out on their behavior, it's OK when it feels uncomfortable. The boundary you set makes them experience negative emotions and that is allright.
- Likewise, if someone calls you out on your behavior, own your negative emotions. Apologize and allow yourself to feel shitty. No-one is a pro on how to interact with everyone. Rule of thumb: Don't do to others what you wouldn't like happening to yourself.

3) Love the people you love. Let them know that you care about them. Make it a point to let someone know today. And when you do someone a favor, don't expect anything in return, that's what favors are. Olympia, WA, USA



There is so much I'd like to say about urban, environmental, gender, and art history here. That's what I'm prone to do as a student of the Evergreen State College. With such complex problems and solutions in constant rotation, at constant attention, there is one thing I'd like to remind us all of: people are people regardless of anything.

There's a song that sums up what I think is a really important and simple idea that French author Simone de Beauvoir brought to life in her novel "The Mandarins," through a Sartre-esque character, which is that, beyond any outcome or decision, people will still inhabit the earth.

Please google the song "People" by Andrew Jackson Jihad (a clever historical name, considering his Native policies and ideas - - relevant to American moralism in relation to "terror").

Let me know what you think.

Even if you don't, what I want to say here is a (couple) line(s) from that song:

And people are people regardless of skin.
And people are people regardless of creed.
People are people regardless of gender
People are people regardless of anything...

And people are my religion because I believe in them
And people are my enemies, and people are my friends.
I have faith in my fellow man, and I only hope that he has faith in me.

Drew Schilson
Olympia, WA, USA

Monday, August 13, 2012


I’ve come very late to sport, having spent most of my life actively avoiding either watching or taking part in it.

This recent interest is a surprising development and so I’ve spent quite a bit of time pondering what it is about sport that appeals to me. I think it’s the possibility of transcendence - that none of us really know what we can achieve when pushed but that, in sport, sometimes we get to find out.

The Olympics has been a great opportunity to see this in action. Ten million people here in the UK watched Chris Hoy’s final race and all of us thought he’d lost his lead - and the race - coming into the final bank. But then, in what seemed an impossible moment of strength, he found something and pulled ahead to take the gold. In interviews, he clearly had no idea how he’d done it either. You could see it too in the utter surprise on Kat Copeland’s face when she and Sophie Hosking won gold or in Manteo Mitchell, finishing his part in a relay on a broken leg because he didn’t want to let his team down!

My own sporting achievements are rather more limited of course, but after a decade of inactivity I’ve now become a pretty committed cyclist, regular swinger of kettlebells and occasional runner. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and have lost a shockingly large amount of weight. And the best thing is, I’ve no idea what my body is really capable of, or just how far (and how fast!) I can go. But watching the world’s athletes giving their all and exceeding even the massive expectations placed on their shoulders makes me wonder if it’s further than ever seemed possible.

Peter Clarke
Nottingham, UK

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You and Me


I'd like to share a few heavy thoughts about you and me.

You are worthy of love no matter what. You hold no dark secret, no horrible regret nor difference of opinion that lessens your value. You are important, you mean something, you deserve love. Further, what you believe, think and do are significant. You and I believe some true and false things, but we choose what we believe and how we live. And these choices matter.

Despite our significance, however, something about the world still isn't right. And I have questions.

I believe you and I are more than smart animals, but who are we? I believe death brings more than nonexistence, but what? I believe the standard of right and wrong comes from somewhere outside ourselves, but where? I believe God designed us and allows us to mess up, but loves us anyway and saves us through Jesus Christ. I don't understand it all, and I have doubts and questions, but I believe it's true and means a great deal to you and me.

Thanks for your time.

Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Friday, August 10, 2012

Experience the web

I have found many messages on this list inspiring and many more interesting and practical. I am always fascinated by the wisdom, stories and advice passed on in the daily messages and look forward broadening my perspective with each read. However, the aspect of the list that I find truly amazing is it's ability to put into perspective the similar views of such a diverse set of people.

So what do I have to offer? Merely some thoughts on web design...

I've spent the majority of my life working with computers and, recently, the web to craft web sites and applications for nearly every cause. I very much enjoy my trade as an art. But what is art without a viewer?

I'm sure the majority of the people on this list spend a fair amount of time surfing the web. I urge you to start paying attention to the details - appreciating the design and creativity put into it. Corporate websites may not be the best canvas but personal websites and blogs often baffle me in design, user experience and expression. Websites elicit emotion (too often mere frustration), convey a messages and provoke thought as effectively as a painting or symphony (atleast for us geeks).

So much of the web is tuned perfectly for your enjoyment - don't miss a chance to stop and smell the roses

Cambridge, MA

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Free Medical Advice

I can't believe I won the Listserve lottery...I've never won anything! (Other than a basketball hoop from Sprite, which was actually pretty exciting).

I've had a hard time figuring out what to write, as my mind has been utterly consumed with the study of medicine lately. With that being said, I've decided to just stick to what I know best right now.

I'm therefore going to use my one chance to speak to 21k+ people to urge you to heavily consider quitting smoking, if that's something you do. I've held the lungs of a [dead] smoker, and have operated on smokers, and the effects of tobacco on the body are not pretty. We all know the dangers and how tobacco destroys the living tissues in our body.

Understand this: quitting will not be easy. It won't happen right away. Talk with your health care provider to learn your options. Get support from friends and family who understand the battle that you'll be undertaking.

Reasons to quit:

-your risk of a heart attack halves after the first year

-your risk of cancer decreases by 50% after five years

-after 15 years, your risk of a heart attack/stroke is equal to a non-smoker's

-it's ~$200/month back in your pocket (enough to fund a decent vacation!)

-your teeth will be whiter

-food will taste better

-you and your possessions will smell nicer

-sex will be better

I encourage ALL my patients, including the 90 y/os, to quit smoking, as it's that beneficial. Check out cancerdotgov for more info.

Maine, USA

PS-vacation in Maine. It's beautiful!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Combining hobbies to reach creative heights

Hello all,

All my life I have been fascinated by two things; movies and computers. I am currently 25 years old and am happy to say I have been able to include these two interesting topics into my daily life on a regular basis. Not only am I active as a software consultant, in my spare time I am also applying what I pick up at my job to my own interactive website about movies.

I have to say it feels really great to be able to combine two of my greatest hobbies in this manner, and I can recommend anyone to try to accomplish the same. Luckily it doesn't happen often, but when I'm for example not interested in programming for a while I can still work on the data for the website. Vice versa, I can optimize some underlying code when I don't feel like updating the list of upcoming movies or something similar.

I have been working on this project for almost a decade, although I only shared it with the world two years ago. Working on something for that long not only provides a steady basis to come back to regularly, it also allows me to try out different creative concepts. Whenever I discover an interesting new technique or idea, I can immediately apply it to this project that is always in my mind somewhere.

I can imagine some people experiencing such a long running project as limiting, but for me it works quite the opposite way. There is no golden rule that applies to everyone, but I do recommend to try and find several topics of interest to combine in a creative way. Perhaps you'll find something new and exciting to come back to now every now and then, who knows!

With kind regards,

Ramon van Dam
Schaijk, the Netherlands

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

last hurrah

Currently at Lollapalooza in Chicago, so forgive my brevity. Surrounded by festival-goers of all kinds and covered in mud from the the rain. However, the song everyone knew the best was "tonight" by fun. Seems like everyone, including me, is trying to reclaim, or claim, or invent, their wild youth. I hope we all succeed.

Party on!

Shira Borzak
Boca Raton, FL/New York

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coming full circle

Hello friend distant or near,

Let me share a part of my life with you. Exactly two years ago I started my current job. At a hostel chain in the Netherlands where - after being in social welfare for nearly a year - I was so happy to fine a full-time position. Which meant I would have (more) money, and would be able to leave my parents place again. To which I was more or less forced due to a lack of financial means at age 28…after having lived by myself the previous 10 years.

The last two years have passed swiftly. I have paid off all my student debts; poring nearly 1000 EUR in your debt the day your salary arrives feels awkward I can tell you that. (small note: fuck this debt-ridden consumptionism society). At work I have revamped almost the complete web infrastructure. Money is being made, and everybody is happy. But I'll leave my job end of August. I see question marks on the faces of all my colleagues: why leave before reaping what you saw? There is crisis out there!? It is time to move on.

To what, to where? I don't know. Having arrived at age 30 I thought the road to take would somehow be easier, contours would be more crisp. The exact opposite is the case… I don't have a clue, I'm totally fucking lost.

So I guess I might have some hard and/or confusing months ahead, but I think I'm ready for it. I've come full circle, and it's time for something new. I take comfort in the phrase I've just read on George profile (last night's couchsurfer):

> If you don't know where you're going, then you'll never get lost.

Patrick Beeker
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

P.S. Write me if you're in Amsterdam I love meeting new people.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I’d like to draw your attention to Bhutan, a unique nation bordering India and China. Although it is considered to be a developing country, I think the Bhutanese are in fact leading the rest of us in a fundamental area: Their national goal of, not Gross National Product, but rather Gross National Happiness. That’s right, it’s a real thing – an entire nation of people who collectively concern themselves with attaining happiness rather than money. Awesome.

Inspired by their ideals, I try to take time daily out of my busy Canadian life to do simple things that make me smile:

-Read the comics every morning

-Participate in the art of people-watching and delight in those who break the mold (this weekend I met a priest who rides a motorcycle!)

-Sing in the car on the way to work – LOUD – even when I’m way off key and the only thing on is Carly Rae Jepsen or One Direction.

-Smile – really smile – at strangers on the street. It’s incredible how contagious a smile can be; it’s almost always reciprocated.

So today, I ask you to do one simple thing that makes you smile. Wear your best underwear; Listen to your favourite song; Call an old friend; Bake some cupcakes; Learn a joke.

I sincerely hope I’ve given you reason to smile, or at least made you think about it. Please feel free to contact me - I’d love to hear what you did today in pursuit of happiness!

Sending you a smile,

Kingston, Canada

Feel free and happy, take control

Do you want to feel free? Do you want to take control over your destiny ? My modest contribution will discuss how I got there by being an entrepreneur.

Many of my friends and family have warned me, telling me it was very risky to be an entrepreneur, because I could fail, lose a lot of time and money. Telling me that it was much better to remain an employee, to be protected by the salary and social protection.

Finally, I did not listen and I created my own business In the mean time, I realized that many people around me were dismissed because of the crisis while I still have my job, my company and I managed to keep my team. So being an employee could be risky as well, especially for aged people.

It's not easy but I am convinced that somehow I'll be able to do great things. Above all, I am no longer dependent on others, I no longer need to find a company that suits me, nor a position where I am happy. I no longer need to communicate the relevance of my ideas, I just follow my intuition, think and act.

The future only depends on me, the energy that I put in what I do, my choices, the opportunities that I take, the mistakes I make and finally my ability to turn the luck into success. Now I feel free, happy and master of my fate. And I think it will last forever

Marc Thouvenin

Theodor Geisel

Hello there, Listservers! I hope you’ll enjoy
A message that’s based on a Seussian ploy

If you want to write poems the Seussian way
Anapestic tetrameter brooks no delay

But Seuss saw this form in its hard, rigid glory
And said ‘Hey, I can do it, and tell quite a story

‘While doing it, too, it will be my new tool
In telling kids things that they won’t learn in school’

When he came to a line that just wouldn’t quite flourish
He’d pluck up a word from thin air, and he’d nourish

That young little word, brand new to the world
And he’d place it in just the right spot, where it whirled

Where it danced and it sang like a fresh coat of paint
Over language grown solemn and tempered and quaint

The words he invented were zong, zax and zillow
And grinch, nerd and vipper, they were bofa and yekko

They told all the stories he needed to tell
And they broke through a form that would otherwise dwell

In the musty old drawers of the humorless past
He made it seem joyous, a form that would last

In the memories of every young kid who was read
From a Dr. Seuss book before going to bed

And so, if I’m going to be true to my muse
I’ll leave with a moral that you all might just use

Dr. Seuss saw a dark thing and turned it to light
If we all do the same, the world sure will be bright.

Wesley Brown
Ardmore, PA, USA

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Path With No Choices

I was surprised when I finally got the chance to say something to you. I wrote this few years ago when I had an inner battle with my faith. You know, the kind of thing that makes you ponder why life sometimes can be so unfair. I hope this will answer the question you've been asking the Universe.

For these past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve been trying to find reasons. Answers for my why(s). Then I came up with this :

There is no such thing as free will. I never had a choice.

Even if there is, They always leave me with cruel choices They force me to make. I never had a choice.

I’ve had my time thanking the Universe. I’ve also had time blaming it on the Cosmic Irony. I’ve been through anger and I’ve also been to acceptance, back and forth. I got to the point where I could not go with this wandering-around-the-vicious-circle anymore.

Yesterday, it just occurred to me that I was wrong.

Choices. Yes they have always been cruel. Of course They would never give us the easy way with choices.

Free will. All this time, I’ve been closing my eyes and choosing to not see the big picture. It’s not about the choices or how cruel they are. It’s about the way you see them. That’s our free will. Choosing the way you see those cruel choices. It’s either you keep bargaining and angry with it or just accept and be grateful, for in the end whatever choice we made, it would turn on a dime. Sure the journey will be tough. But you can make it less hard by seeing them differently now.

There’s nothing you can do about those choices. It has to be made. Just believe that someday you’ll thank Them for the cruel path They’ve given to you for it helps you grow.

“Valuable things have a way of being misunderstood in their own time.

Everyone wants a quick fix, they always have.”


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We can all be artists.

Hello everyone! My name is Jules and I am a Graphic Designer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (Canada). I just wanted to share with you fellow listserve-ians my love of art.

Many people have said things to me like 'I wish I could draw like that' or 'oh I would love to paint, but I am not very good'. I want to tell you a secret. Nobody starts out very good. No one draws their first picture and busts out an epic perfect still life. I have been drawing and painting for many, many years, and have practiced with teachers, models and taken classes. Anyone who is willing to put in a little effort can learn to become an artist. Sure, some people have natural talent, but that doesn't mean that you can't develop your own skills the old-fashioned way – with practice. Sitting down and creating something from a blank space is a pretty amazing feeling and I encourage you all to give it a go!

Two books that I thought were awesome resources were 'The Natural Way to Draw' by Kimon Nicolaides and 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' by Betty Edwards. However, don't feel restricted by those books, go out find something cool, grab a pencil and just see what you can do.

Thanks for reading,

Jules Hall

Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day (probably belated)

I work in the I.T. department of a university. I came back to I.T. after studying sociology and it taught me a lot about the dynamics of the role of I.T. in a company:

A good I.T. department is virtually invisible!

I.T. is in its core about infrastructure. They build and maintain servers and networks that people in their company use to do their job. That means, the default state of this infrastructure is that it has to work. Nearly every single phone call is about what is not working and that it should be fixed immediately. To manage this structure is a lot of work and if they do a good job, the phone won’t ring. I literally see my colleagues tense up and sigh whenever the phone rings.

This means that doing a good job is measured by the amount of phone calls they are not getting. If you consider that people who are drawn into I.T. tend to be introverted and shy, having their only contact from people of other departments consisting of complaints puts a real stress on their psyche. You may think that nerds are sarcastic, condescending or just not listening to you. And you may be right.

I think somehow a culture of ungratefulness developed within a company structure towards I.T. and it’s hard to change considering the length nerds go to avoid contact and just get working.

Just so they are invisible and therefore good at their jobs.

Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day (July 27th),
Northern Germany