Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Morning After the Night Before

My cousin got married last night. She is the first among my generation to get married, so this is the first time in over a decade that this branch of the family has been all in one place. Right now many of the people I care most about are recovering in the next room. The ceremony was beautiful, the food was wonderful, and a 10PM noise ordinance means we will talk forever about the cops shuting down the DJ at the reception.

So here is my advice:

Love your family. You don't always have to like them, but love them when you can.

Don't stress the small stuff - it isn't a real party till the cops show up. (Or someone stomps off in a huff.)

Travel - many of the guests (myself included) traveled 12+ hours to this party and not one person regrets a moment of it.

Live in the moment - Grandma can’t remember anything that happened 5 seconds ago, but she spent hours last night in her chair at the party watching everything. She had no idea what was happening or who was getting married but she was thrilled to be at the party.

That said, I hope you all have a chance to be as happy as I am right now. I have my family around me, beautiful vistas of the mountains of Tuscon outside the windows, and nothing to do but bask in the post-wedding serenity until my 7AM flight tomorrow.

Washington DC

A deeper appreciation

Stop optimizing your life.

Become excellent at something. Then, teach it to at least two kids. You can learn the whole world through becoming great at one thing.

There is nowhere you are freer than in your own thoughts. Do not censor yourself in the privacy of your own mind. Allow yourself to think the unthinkable—neither shy away nor dwell too long.

If something makes no sense, think about it harder until it does.

When you are asked something, think until your second thought arrives, then speak.

The process of learning who you are is unsettling and unpleasant. Do it anyway. Know yourself. Nobody else will want to until you do.

Cultivate patience. Work on rhetoric—every language is beautiful.

Slow down. Quality is always better than quantity.

Predict negatively. That way, you will either be right (pleasant) or surprised by a better outcome (also pleasant). Either way, make an effort to appreciate the present.

Any interaction that begins by raising your blood pressure and ends with opening your wallet is manipulation. Do not be confused by a trusted source.

Daniel K Lyons
Socorro, NM, USA


I’m curious how many of you would consider yourself a gamer. Most people use that term for people who play video games but I love games in general. I find games are a great way to socialize with your friends and family.

My favorite board game is Risk, especially the non-traditional versions. I love Risk 2210 A.D. which is a futuristic version. Another board game that is a lot of fun is Dicecapades. It’s a great party game with lots of dice. The challenges range from physical to mental.

Card games in general are great. I grew up playing games like Pinochle and Michigan Rummy and have taught my friends how to play them. One of my favorite card games nowadays is Apples to Apples. It’s always interesting and usually funny to see what types of cards people will play.

Of course I wouldn’t call myself a gamer if I didn’t play video games. One of my favorites is Super Smash Bros. Brawl because you can fight each other with your favorite Nintendo characters. Tetris Worlds is another favorite because you can really mess with each other in knock-out mode.

I’m also a huge fan of Dungeons & Dragons. D&D is a table-top role playing game where you make a character and play through a campaign of the dungeon masters choosing. I get together with my friends every other weekend to play and next weekend is my first time as dungeon master. I’m really excited but also really nervous.

Bensalem, PA

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This month marks the seventh anniversary of finding out I had multiple sclerosis. I was stunned. Irrationally, I was certain that I had already been through enough hard stuff, so I shouldn't have to deal with any more. I lost an eye in a childhood accident. I was widowed at the age of 39 and raised four children by myself. But I worked my way to a lucrative career and we thrived. Nothing kept me down. Now, surely, this was my time of reward for surviving all those struggles.

Well, as we all know, life does not work like that. There is no cosmic balance sheet of adversity vs. good fortune. It was just my time to face another bad thing. But I didn't want to, damn it!

The disease progressed and I started a downward spiral. My high powered career and life began to crumble. Loss mounted upon loss. And I was consumed by bitterness and anger.

Devastated by my deterioration, I became virtually homebound. Everything I loved was slipping away.

Full of resentment, I was tired of picking myself up. But so many sources were sending me the same message: pray. And if you can't pray, just say "Give me strength" over and over. To not make the effort seemed like a slap in the face to all the people who love me and give me credit for being braver than I really am. I knew I had to choose to pick myself up once again.

Marie Cooper
Jersey Shore, United States

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Artificial Life in Tokyo

You've caught me at an interesting time. I'm about to pack my bags to start a new job in Tokyo. I've never been to Japan before.

At some point in the distant past, there was no life on this planet. Now there is not just life but hugely diverse ecosystems and complex human societies. Some scientists believe that what happened in between was a series of highly unlikely coincidences, one of which resulted in the formation of the first cells. But I prefer a hypothesis that everything we see around us is just sort of what happens when the conditions are right. That when there is a source of energy and the right chemical nutrients, the progression from non-life to life, from simple to complex, is a gradual but almost inevitable one. That the deep interrelationship between life and its planetary environment (sometimes called Gaia theory) is as old if not older than life itself; that life did not cause Gaia so much as arise from it.

In Tokyo my job will be to work out some of the details of how complex, life-like phenomena can arise from non-living physical systems. The aim is not to create life but to understand something about it by studying things that are similar but simpler. For me, understanding nature on a deep and mathematical level is a way to unlock and appreciate its beauty. I am very lucky to have a job that allows me to follow this passion.

Nathaniel Virgo

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Against Drift

I was raised in a very Catholic household, but lately a bit of my once-strong Catholic identity has been peeling away. I haven't been to church since May, I'm questioning my thoughts on a lot of the Church's social doctrines, and I don't pray nearly as often as I used to.

I got some bad news from home recently about a friend, and only several days later did I even think to pray. Realizing that I had forgotten that astounded me, because in other times that would have been my first instinct. Trying to pray, however, felt no better. I felt weird asking for God's help--like a friend who hasn't called you back in months but suddenly needs a place to crash. I ended up calling my mom and asking her to pray, because I feel like my prayers have by now lost whatever potency they may have ever held.

If I'm going to be a lapsed Catholic, I want it to be a product of reading and honest questioning, investigating the philosophical arguments for Catholicism, really narrowing down what I agree with. Basically, I want to have done the legwork—not just have gotten lazy, which is pretty much what happened with going to church. Religion's a tricky thing. I know a lot of people struggle with this, and I'd love to hear about experiences from all sides of the argument. If you have any thoughts, stories, book recommendations, or anything else to share, I'd love to hear from you (or if you'd like me to share whatever recommendations I receive!). Thanks so much for reading.

Kat Lau
New Haven, CT

P.S. If you're ever folding many sheets of paper (to make programs, for example), fold several at once, then separate them, stack them on top of each other, and press down on all of the folded edges together at once to make the initial crease sharp. Though it saves time, many people avoid trying to fold many sheets at once because the folds on the outer edge are never as crisp as you'd like them. But this technique gives you the best of both worlds: speed and sharpness.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Story of Understanding

When I was 18, my mother discovered that my stepfather had installed a small pinhole camera in my bathroom.

He was given several misdemeanors but I did *not* press charges despite the overwhelming pressure from everyone to do so. Actually, seven years later, I'm still in contact with him.

Very few people understand this decision. They think I should have sued him for all he's worth and destroyed his life. "Why do you still talk to that pervert?" they ask.

My answer is this: Because I understand what hate will do if I grab hold of it. It will lodge itself in every corner of my mind and soul and I will go through life believing I'm a victim and that things are happening TO me. I'll focus on what I don't have instead of what I do.

I must instead focus on the good and the love. My stepfather wasn't abusive, verbally or physically, in any way and, in fact, he was a damn good stepfather most of the time.

We are who we are not based solely on who we decide to be in any given moment but what society, people around us, and our environment TEACH us to be. Don't jump to conclusions about others. Rather, take the time and energy to understand why they do what they do and how they got to be who they are.

Look inward. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and put love out into the world.

Love to you all,
Seattle, WA

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Everything happens for a reason

I am a 34 years old, curly-haired, happy French woman. Being a child, my dreams have always been, in order, of writing, being independant, travelling, and leaving the remote region where i grew up. I did that first, when i moved to Paris aged 19 to study. Then, i started a glamorous and promising commercial and marketing career in fashion that led me to live in Paris, Dubai, and Milan, and travel round the world. I have been lucky and spoiled, only to discover that it was time for me to start writing, and become independant. Few months ago, I have left a promising career to start my own business, and I am launching it next week. And guess what? It is all about writing! I am thrilled, excited, overwhelmed, and... scared to death! Few words of wisdom from my experience so far: - take risks, challenge yourself. - everything happens for a reason. - write, every day. - people always expect more from you when you have curly hair. Happiness is a decision. Few of my own little secrets for a happier life: - every morning, say thank you. - every day, give a compliment to someone you do not know. - speak words of love, focus on the good in people. - get rid of that guiltyness. - allow yourself some time to get lost, carried away. It's when I lost myself that I really found myself. - listen to That voice. - forgive, forget and surrender.

Fanny Auger
Paris, France

Say Yes to Music

Thought I would share with you the year I said Yes to every music concert I came across. Needless to say it was a very expensive year but also incredibly rewarding and the spirit of musical adventure has stayed with me.

It started with a simple wish for this little IT Geek to get out more. I have a love of music – not just one style but the very thought of music fills me with joy. To that end I decided to go to every concert that I came across or heard about.

I went to music festivals, choral works, musical theatre and opera; to see blues and rock bands at pubs, country and western stampedes, jazz in the park, saw Leonard Cohen under the stars and cried as I heard Barber’s Adagio for Strings played live for the first time.

What did I learn? I learned to listen. Not just to music but to atmosphere, to the joy of those around me, to wonder at the incredible gestalt that can form between artist(s) and the audience and to rejoice in the ability to allow sound to fill your heart until you are sure you must glow with radiance.

To this day I still say Yes to music with three more events added over the weekend.

I hope that this email may inspire you to say Yes to a new experience in your life. The cuisine of the world is my next adventure.

Smiles and thanks for reading.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Skill and fear

I used to work at Spümcø, the studio responsible for "Ren & Stimpy". There were a lot of great cartoonists there.

For a while, I was assisting Jim Smith. Jim's favorite thing to draw is big muscly guys, a subject I'm normally not very interested in- but Jim combines his knowledge of every single muscle in the human body with an astonishing sense of grace and flow; his musclemen are things of beauty.

Looking closely at his drawings for an extended period of time, I despaired ever being that good. Until one day he brought in some ancient drawings from when he was a teenager. It was... not good. I looked at it, and something went *click* in my head. This art was pretty much EXACTLY as bad as the stuff I was drawing at that age. Except this drawing from 15-year-old Jim was a few years older than ME. And he'd been drawing EVER SINCE. He'd BETTER be able to draw rings around me.

That day, I quit looking at other people's artwork and thinking "I could never draw that". There are still things I can't draw, techniques I'm pretty useless at. But I know that if I really want to, I can spend a few years practicing, and I'll have it. I started getting a lot better after that realization.

Of course, I've been lucky to have the time and finances to pursue this. But that's a whole other message, isn't it?

- Margaret Trauth
Seattle, WA

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The real problem with electric cars

Much has been written in the popular and technical press lately about the emerging electric vehicle, both pro and con. In spite of wishful thinking, don't expect significant penetration any time this decade. There is probably a role for EVs but it is not the widespread consumer market. Rather, it is more likely to be various fleet applications such as delivery vehicles or limited urban transit applications. For all but the most dedicated clean energy afficionados and hobbyists, or those who can afford a third vehicle, how many consumers can afford to pay the prices being charged for a vehicle with such limited capability? Most cannot. Second, there is still the issue that, in most places, the electricity used to recharge an EV will come predominantly from coal. So, the environmental benefits, at best, are muted. But, cost and performance aside, there is another difficulty with an electric transportation infrastructure that few seem to speak about. If you loved Big Oil, you will really love Big Monopoly Electric Utility extending its dominance to the transportation sector. Gasoline prices have at least been shown to be sufficiently elastic that they respond to consumer demand. And, within a limited range, consumers still have a choice of providers. Hence, there is at least some semblance of a free market at play -- even if it is an oligopoly. In contrast, a consumer's only choice for recharging that overpriced EV is the local monopoly utility and to pay whatever its regulator-approved rate is. Good luck there. So, there is a use for electro-motive transportation. It just isn't the one everyone is talking about.

Richard Mignogna, Ph.D., P.E.
Golden, Colorado

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Simple Life

- Be nice to someone today and everyday.

I work in sales and deal with angry people everyday and all I ever think is, why? Why do you feel the need to belittle me when I'm trying to help you? You're made to feel like you're two inches tall, that everything (even the things you had nothing to do with) is with) is somehow your fault. The reason for someone's action isn't always clear but treating someone horribly because you've had a bad day is just inexcusable. So if you feel like flying off the handle and screaming at someone please stop, take a breath, and imagine if you were in their position. You just might change your tone.

-Handmade and from the heart.

In today's world everything is automated, digitized, prepackaged, almost everything is done for you. It's amazing what a handmade card or a made from scratch cookie can do to brighten up someones day. Plus the fact that you made it with your own hands gives you a feeling of self satisfaction that you just can't beat.

I've learned so much from the other ListServers thus far and I know what I have to say isn't profound but it's nice to be able to speak my mind.

My comfy little corner with my love and my two wonderful kitties.
Oxnard, CA USA

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hello, from Brooklyn

Everyday I am fascinated by the Listserve responses. Although I assume it is filtered to protect against hateful, sexual, prejudicial, racial, etc. emails, I am fascinated by what wonderful things people can squeeze into about 200 words.
I am no poet or philosopher so I can only offer you these words of wisdom : Don't allow yourself to become stuck in an endless cycle of negativity. Things will not change unless you change them. Stop and ask yourself, 'Do I really want to go down this road again?'. Only you can change the path you walk in life.

Josie's To-Do List
1) Love your family. Remember the first friends you have in life are your family.
2) If you're ever in NY don't forget to ride the subway and definitely visit Brooklyn. I have lived here all my life and its a beautiful place.
3) Read. & by reading I don't mean magazines. Grab a book and turn the pages.
4) Have a 'Me' day. Preferably a weekend day. Get a haircut, drink some wine, check into a hotel solo. Take care of yourself.
5) Learn to cook your favorite meal(s).
6) Lastly, take lots of pictures and tell the ones you love you love them as often as you can.

Feel free to share some insight on your country or city. I am a Tourism & Hospitality major and I would like to learn about new cities around the globe. Starting with the US and beyond.

Have a very lovely day :)
Brooklyn, NY

Monday, September 17, 2012

A diddle of advice?

So as a recently turned 21 year old, I feel I don't know as much as almost everybody else here on the listserve. I have no wise words, no humbling story, but by no means do I live an unfulfilled life. I’ve found in my short, but fun filled existence that if you want to do something then you should never let things hold you back.

I know there are certain circumstances which don’t allow you to fulfil goals and objectives, but surely there’s a way around them? A lot of the time we’re creating our own barriers that hold us back because were too comfortable in what we know. So I challenge you, the reader to go out there and do something different, something that gets you one step further to what you want out of life, and do it with a smile on your face, because as a drunken man once said to me “Why are you young ones so angry?”

Another thing I’ve learnt so far is never to be jealous of others. It’s the easiest way to bring yourself down. Just be comfortable with what you can, or even can’t do and take solace in the fact that somebody will be jealous of you at some point.

Many thanks for reading, Matt.

P.S If anybody out there knows of any theatre comedies that aren’t well known, please feel free to send them my way, as I am very. VERY stuck for a script to use in my final year of University J

P.P.P.S. Go team GB in the Paralympics!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stand up for science!

It is interesting to me how science is largely misused, misquoted, and misunderstood by the vast majority of people around the world. We haven’t even come that far in our scientific understanding of the world, yet it seems to me that we are in danger of slipping back toward the times when scientists were feared and derided for their ideas, and churches and warlords made the decisions for us all.

I see it now all around: anti-vaccination movements, and anti-fluoridation movements, for example. Conspiracy theories and junk-science are beginning to over power public and private discussion. Even the very notion of intellectualism is no longer a desirable trait.

I’m thinking of Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist, who at one point said at that he isn’t worried so much about today’s children. Instead, it is the adults we need to worry about; the adults whom are afraid of the number 13, read horoscopes, and insist schools stop using Wi-Fi connections.

I have three requests for everyone:

Don’t believe everything you hear or read, but be willing to trust the evidence of experts.
Be willing to stand up against unfounded and unreasonable claims made by pundits, crack-pots, and the delusional.
Enjoy and embrace the idea that we, as humans, don’t have all the answers, yet.

Brendan O'Brien
Alberta, Canada

Saturday, September 15, 2012


My grandmother is my best friend. I call her Nanni. Most people aren’t as lucky as I am to have such a special person in their life, but I am and she is kind, wise, beautiful, intelligent, perfect. I am not telling her that I’m writing this about her because she is so selfless that she would probably talk me into writing about something else, like Obama or art or women’s health or exercising one’s right to vote – all important things that she would want to share with 22,000 listeners. Nanni is a renaissance woman. She can do anything, but I’m going to tell you some things that Nanni has taught me, and I live my life by these principles:

Be passionate.
Don’t let anyone’s opinion stand in the way of doing what you want.
If you care about something, fight for it.
If you love someone, tell them.
If you want to do something, the world is yours and you can do it.
Commit to something and follow through.
You daresn’t let anyone hold you back.
Embrace struggle and do what you can with the resources you’ve got.
Life is short.
Always try clothes on - they never look the same on your body as they do on the hanger.
Being unhappy is a choice, accepting failure and defeat isn't.
Ask questions, read a lot, travel, stay organized and informed.
If you don’t think you can, try harder.

Grandparents are really special people. Don’t forget to call yours and tell them you love ‘em.

Talia Klein
New York, NY

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Grand Experiment

I’d like to use this grandest of forums to attempt this grandest of experiments: to launch the new company I’ve been incubating for the past several weeks.

Presenting... The Listserve Launch:

Without patronizing the Listserve user and explaining the crucial role social media plays in a company’s survival, I will just mention that there are thousands of businesses shelling out exorbitant fees for the right to have a behemoth of a consulting firm manage their Twitter and Facebook communities.

Bottom line: I’ve created a lean company, built around a small team of savants whose greatest acumen rests in nurturing vibrant online communities. We’ve worked for national brands and hot VC-backed startups. And since our overhead is basically nonexistent, our full-service social media platform is available for a pittance of what one of the bloated agencies would charge.

If you know someone who could use our services, help us at Silicon Alley Social gain a little positive momentum and pass our name along. We’ll be sure to reward anyone who helps us propel this social media pirate ship.

Thanks for being a part of our Listserve Launch!

Zach Napolitano

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Changing my name

When we were planning our wedding, Kristen and I talked about names. I started from the assumption that she would be taking mine; she started from the assumption that we would make that decision together.

So I told her that I had always believed my wife would take my name, that it seemed natural. That I would feel awkward otherwise. She talked about giving up that part of her identity and I pretended like I understood. I waxed on about starting a new family and how we would want to have the same name.

Here is the thing, though. On a really fundamental level the person that wants to have a conversation is always correct. She knew I was being an asshole (are cusses okay on this list? I waffled on the terminology but I was a real dick about the name thing) but instead of getting angry she kept talking to me, and I got it through my head that just because something is socially common doesn't mean it's not a burden.

We picked a new name, for our new family, and that's how we became the Maderas.

James Madera
Harrisburg PA

ps i'm not telling you how to live your life but if you're going to do this get his name changed before the wedding so it's free to change hers after, otherwise changing names is hundreds of dollars

pps i'm seriously not defending my behavior through that process, I'm still a little ashamed of my baseline assumption, but I figured it's worth acknowledging because I guarantee a lot of decent people have struggled with that, feel free to email me with whatever thoughts you have on the subject!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Make a damn phone call

Call home; whether it’s the physical building you grew up in or where you went to school, just call home. Call your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters. Call your childhood best friend. Call your mother, father, and siblings. I am still fairly young but as I’ve aged, I’ve realized how easy it is to let relationships fade and to forget your roots. All of my successes and achievements are the results of many people over the years. I am the product of countless acquaintances and deep friendships. Every person I have met has had some effect on the knowledge I hold, my outlook on life, and the steps I have taken to end up where I am. Whether the encounters were positive or negative, I have to thank them all because I am pretty happy with the way things turned out.

So take the time to reflect on where you are and how you got here. Think about the people that have mattered to you throughout this journey; then reach back. Maybe the phone call will not be as satisfying as you anticipated but who knows? That call might in fact be just what the other person needed to uplift them from a rough week. Saying hello is easy and goes a long way.

Just do it, right now, go ahead.

Stanford, CA

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


In two weeks, I'm getting on a plane with my best friend Haley and we're going to southern Spain (Seville, specifically). We have a few places in particular we're planning to visit (Granada, Cadiz, Ronda, Lisbon), but we've got seven whole weeks to see and do, well, pretty much whatever.

So I was wondering what you guys thought. Have you been to any places in western Europe that you'd adamantly recommend? Cities, beaches, specific bars or shops, fishing villages...whatever, really. What do you think is cool?

Also, if you live in a cool place in western Europe and maybe want to meet up for coffee or cervezas or something, you should email me. Let's have a time!

- Jonathan Youngblood
oklahoma city, ok (us)

PS: You should also know that I am the owner of over twenty turtles, including one internet-famous Sulcata tortoise (his name is Kevin...Google it).

Monday, September 10, 2012

A tip to boost (or awake) your superpowers

Sometimes, we cannot recall things which we want to recall, and we cannot see a full picture due to missing details.

We are afraid to make a decision since we don't know the outcome, and all this leads to mistakes that we prefer to avoid.

It would be great if our memory was like a hard drive, so we could store and recall anything any time, and if we could correlate all events from the past and see all connections.

This way, we could make no mistakes and precisely forecast the future.

But... our memory is not a hard drive, thus, it cannot work that way.

However, there is something that we can do to improve this:

- When you are preparing to sleep, lying in the bed, try to recall all events of the past day, exactly in the order as they happened, with all details. - If you are finished and still awake - try previous day, and so on. - Next morning, after waking up, briefly recall previous day.

In the end, you will feel the boost. Your memory will improve, you will begin to see the future, you will intuitively avoid mistakes.

But please, be patient - it could take days, weeks or even months, this is very individual, so don't panic if nothing happens quickly - eventually, it will - or money back :)

Just be persistent.

Alexander Demenshin
Duesseldorf, Germany

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What you’ve always heard, and why it isn’t true

Politicians, pundits, and religious figures say the Bible dictates how you should vote on certain issues. Unfortunately, much of it is not true.

Abortion: It’s not murder, and the penalty for causing a miscarriage against the will of the mother can be a simple fine (Exodus 21). Sometimes God calls for pregnant women (and the fetus) to be put to death (Genesis 38).

Contraception and masturbation: The Bible is silent on these issues. God killed Onan for coitus interruptus (“spilling his seed”), as punishment for refusing to impregnate his brother’s widow (Genesis 38).

Homosexuality: The Bible says all sex outside of a marriage is wrong and does not differentiate for homosexual acts. But in the same places it also prohibits eating shellfish, tattoos, divorce, wearing gold, wearing clothes made of two different cloths, and other rules absurd to modern society that the church ignores (e.g. Leviticus 11). Why aren’t they protesting retailers and seafood restaurants?

Marriage: While you may hear that the Bible defines marriage as “one man, one woman” (it doesn’t), it actually has examples of “one man, many women”, “a rapist and his victim”, “a soldier and prisoner of war”.

Wealth: Jesus says it’s hard for the rich to get into heaven, and people should give away all of their possessions. Not tax cuts for the rich.

Bible’s literal truth: Our modern Bible has thousands of changes from the original texts (read any Bart Ehrman book).

Don’t let people cynically manipulate you for their personal gain or prejudice.

Atlanta, GA (USA)

Wise words, set to music

Whenever it comes to finding the right words for a situation (such as now), I often find myself unable to say something clear enough, powerful enough, or smart enough. Luckily, I can always find a songwriter who can do it for me. When I need words of hope or wisdom, or when I need to feel like someone else has felt the same pain and frustration as me, I look for it in song. It seems that here’s always someone who can speak my heart and mind better than I can. Sometimes I need a bit of energy, motivation, a good laugh, or just some entertainment. I find it all in music.

Look up these writers; I know they’ll give you something that speaks to you. You know how & where to find them. Their songs have done so much for me; the least I can do for them (and for you) is to hope that someone will discover them and enjoy their work, as I have. In no particular order:

Del Barber
Christina Martin
Leeroy Stagger
John K Samson/The Weakerthans
Jim Bryson
Willie P Bennett
Townes Van Zandt
Paul Kelly
David Francey
Matthew Ryan
Ron Hawkins/The Lowest of the Low
The Warped 45s
The Blue Shadows
Lynn Miles
NQ Arbuckle
Shannon Lyon
Rose Cousins
Oh Susanna
The Damnwells

These are just a few. Without these writers, I might not be alive today. I certainly wouldn’t be able to get by as well as I do. Let them move you.

Jeff Robson
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

it's not the destination but the journey

A long time ago in a public school system far away, I learned stuff that would never appear on a standardized test, wrote reams of essays covered with red ink and wondered what the future held. It was the dawn of the digital age, and while I could clearly see how computers would change everything, everything about education did not. Yet the most valuable thing I learned was how to learn and how to fail. The easiest path to failure is to take risks. Everyday I try to do different things, to take a different path, to read something on a topic I've never explored. Today I am a serial entrepreneur. I'm on my seventh start up, an idea I conceived almost six years ago, and one that is all about exploring a journey instead of settling for a destination. Whatever stage of life you find yourself in, take an hour today and do something new. Whether its reading a random book, or walking around a new neighbourhood. Then keep on doing that every day. Before long you will be your learning journey. Who knows what you'll discover. Follow mine at @turfgrrl.

Jackie Lightfield
chief problem solver Pocket Tour Guide--Fresh Travel Guides for Independent Travellers

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Under Pressure

Yesterday, I was exhausted.

I'm on year six of raising my children alone. Eight are still at home. For years I languished. Stuck. Broken. But my kids kept growing. All these dreams I've had for us, for me, didn't end because my marriage ended, or I couldn't finance them or find time to breathe life into them. They ended because I gave up on them; resigned myself to the fact that life was always going to be hard. So, I put my dreams on paper and figured out what I needed to do to make them happen. I wrote down what it would feel like to accomplish them. I'm not talking about buying stuff or jetting around the world. I'm talking about living!

And yesterday, exhausted, I almost gave in and slept. Then I saw this pinned to the board above my desk: “Don't give up what you LOVE most for what you WANT now.” My bucket list contains one item: I want to live someplace beautiful. Everything else will fall into place from there. Taking a nap in the miserable heat won't get me there. But knocking out that research paper; boxing up clutter to sell/give away; and snuggling with my kids, talking about our first winter in the snow gets me closer. Going to bed early last night with the kids helped, too.

'Love dares you to change the way you care about yourself.'

“Under Pressure” Queen

Jennifer Cox
Ft. Worth, TX

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What kind of death would you like to have?

Dear Listserve,

I am not asking my question rhetorically. I am a doctor, and I need to know.

A “code” is an emergency that sends a large team of doctors, nurses, technicians and others to a patient who is unresponsive, not breathing, or pulseless. It is a frenzy of activity. Unless a designated representative of the patient says otherwise, the team springs into action and determines whether to begin CPR. The process involves much more than pounding on a chest for a minute, and that by itself can be violent. Ribs are broken, and the patient rocks from side to side from the force required. Orders are yelled across the room. And if the patient does not begin breathing spontaneously soon, they may put a tube down his trachea and connect him to a machine that will breathe for him.

On television, the survival rate when something like this happens is close to 50%. In reality, a patient whose heart stops has about a 15% chance of surviving to leave the hospital. Survival does not guarantee quality of life. There may be brain damage or other problems. This being said, an attempt at resuscitation is appropriate for many people--and for many others, it is not.

Your current state of health, age, and other factors affect your chances for a good recovery. Depending on how things go, breathing machines, surgeries, loss of functional capacity, or rehabilitation may follow. Think about this decision and discuss it with your family before you are hospitalized. Ask your doctor if you need help. "Five Wishes" is a good place to start.

Denver, Colorado

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Cooper Union

"My story today is not my own: it is Peter Cooper’s. He died in 1883, but his legacy is just as important now as it was then. He believed that education is a public good - that it should be available to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, gender, race, religion, social class, or political beliefs. This may not seem like a huge thing now, but it was then.

The reason I bring it up now is because the institution he founded, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, is in trouble. It has been a full-scholarship college for art, architecture, and engineering students since 1902 but it will run out of money in 2015 unless it gets significant help.

I’m not soliciting donations (I doubt there are a lot of rogue billionaires on this list anyway. . .) but I would like you to take 10 seconds to Google “Cooper Union” and learn about Peter Cooper’s dream for education. It has become my dream as well (I’ve taught there since 2009) and it makes me sad that its future is in jeopardy."

Ben Davis
New York, NY

Monday, September 3, 2012

Italy baby!

Hi Listserve

What’s up? I love hearing your stories, you know. I hope I’ll be as entertaining as you have been.

First some words about me:
I’m a 30 years old/young guy & have an amazing girlfriend, who luckily also has become my wife since January of this year!
When I say married, I mean a civil marriage, not a religious marriage. To be honest, I don’t really understand why some people have a need to believe in something imaginative. In history, religion only has given us wars, disputes,try to control & influence their followers, .... Don’t start about all the values it gives us. ;-) Those are just human values that some religions have considered their’s, but in fact they are not. These values are culturally dependent human values. Nothing to do with religion if you’d ask me. You know... the world would be such a better place when people stopped believing in those religions and started believing in themselves, their friends & their neighbours. What a fun world it would be!
She is also pregnant. My wife I mean, not the religion ;-) It’ll be our first child, so it’s kind of spooky, fun, scary & really cool; All at the same time :-)I’m really looking forward to it.
I’m currently working as a marketeer for Coca-Cola & am living in the centre of the world (?!?): Belgium.
For those who don’t know Belgium, it is: Brussels / HQ of NATO & EU / Belgian fries (no they should not be called french fries!) / Belgian beers / Kim Clijsters / ...
By now, you probably know where Belgium is situated. ;-)

Belgium is a tiny country, but it is awesome. I love living here. I do admit that sometimes people complain too much, but I guess that is the same everywhere ;-)
Even though it is a fun country, I’m hoping to move, in a couple of years, to Sydney, Australia or Atlanta, USA. I already have lived in France & the UK and I love integrating in new cultures & getting to know them. Does anybody live in Atlanta & Sydney? Don’t hesitate to give your views about these cities!

I’m sure you won’t believe me, but in 2 days I’m leaving on a holiday which is aweseome. Yeaeaeaeaeaeaeaaah!!!
I’m going on a 3-week roadtrip with as an endgoal Tuscany/Umbria in Italy.I love travelling so much. Usually I only decide during the travelling where I’m going, where I’ll sleep, etc.
Is somebody living there? Or has some good tips to visit there? Or where to sleep? Or what to do? I’d love to get some out of the box ideas :-)

But now, let’s get serious. What is it actually that I’d like to tell to you guys/girls:
· Only do those things you love doing! Life is way too short to lose time doing this you’re not passionate about!
· Be passionate and by being so, make the people around you passionate!
· Eat Nutella during breakfast (I do it every day). It’s just too good & too tasty to miss out. ;-)

If somebody is visiting Belgium, don’t hesitate to let me know & I’ll give you some tips or we’ll have a (Belgian) beer together!

Enjoy life!

Leuven (close to Brussels (which is in Belgium (which is a country in Europe)))

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Join Me On October 21st to Make a Difference!

So, if you're already familiar with ALS, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. Take a moment and imagine what it would be like to be a prisoner in your body. You are unable to move, communicate, or even breathe on your own. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal column that control all of your body's voluntary muscle movements. Little by little, as these muscles weaken and die, you lose control of your body. Your cognitive abilities remain intact, and so the disease effectively traps you inside your own body until the end of your life. ALS is currently incurable.

A little over 2 years ago, my uncle lost his battle with ALS. The heartache it has brought to my father, my aunt and my cousins is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Since his passing, many members of our family have become active in the fight against ALS, which brings me to my heartfelt plea:

On October 21st I'll be participating in the ALS Association's Walk to Defeat ALS at the Los Angeles Coliseum. I'd like to invite everyone in the LA/Southern California area to walk with me! You can e-mail me for details about joining my team, let's harness the incredible power of this group to make a difference in the world! If you can't walk, please consider making a donation to ALS research. Together we can find a cure.


Becca Dorman
Los Angeles, CA


Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Don't expect anybody to fix the things that are in need to be fixed.
Look for people that shares your passion and get to work together.
You can change the world.

Big hug and best wishes to you all,

Alex Garcia

Saturday, September 1, 2012

your sense of morals

The best books I ever read were from the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, though I didn't appreciate science-fiction up till then. They have given me insights into mass psychology, influencing decisions at critical moments and in possibly predicting the future. Often useful in everyday situations.

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."
Salvor Hardin in "The Foundation" by Isaac Asimov

Kasper Hägele
Nijmegen, The Netherlands