Sunday, April 28, 2013

choosing poopy diapers over football and hotrods

Wow, best I can tell from a few quick searches of my past saved Listserve emails, I appear to be the first one selected from the great state of Alabama.

It is a shame that that the most dominating College Football state of the past 4 years hasn’t been represented yet. (3 Championships from Alabama, 1 from Auburn).

I’ve got to admit, moving back to the state I grew up in on the verge the Crimson Tide’s collegiate dominance couldn’t have been any better timed.

After staying a true fan through a decade+ of up and down seasons (mostly down) it is nice to be on top again.

Late last year I purchased a 1934 Ford Coupe fiberglass project car.

I’m really excited to be working on something like this, even though I don’t really know what I’m doing.Luckily for me my father-in-law does. If any of you have tips on previous hot rod projects you’ve worked on I’d love to hear them.If you’re interested in selling some hot rod parts, I may be interested in those too!

I work in IT at one of the top 5 largest U.S. colleges based on enrollment.

I really enjoy my job as a Data Analyst and I love having the ability to sift through millions of records of apparent random data and know what to do to turn it into powerful information.

Then, being able to see that information used to drive meaningful decisions to help the university move towards their strategic goals is an even bigger bonus!

One thing I’ve learned dealing with large amounts of data is that there are almost always exceptions to the rule.

Everyone may think that a certain scenario couldn’t or shouldn’t happen but until you look at the data, you don’t know for sure.

I feel this has also made me a skeptic in real life too though. I find myself committing to fewer statements until I have definitive proof that I’m picking the right option.

I don’t know if this makes me a good worker, a super nerd, or a boring person with no hobbies (before I bought my car) but if I’ve got nothing to do one night I like being able to work on fun projects from work outside of normal business hours without the constant interruptions of email and instant messages slowing me down. I feel so much more productive. Working full-time from home has also enlightened me to the amount of wasted time I had when I worked in an office setting going to and from meetings and constantly being pulled into side-conversations as people come in and out of the office. I do miss the personal interaction though.

In 2011 my wife and I had our first child and it really is amazing how kids change your perspective on life. I’m still a huge Alabama fan, technology nerd, and aspiring hot-rodder, but none of that really matters when compared to being able to spend quality time with your family. I hate when I realize that I’ve let something distract me and take away time I should have spent with them. As kids become toddlers and really start learning, it is amazing watching them pick up on new things. No one can make me truly laugh like my little girl can and nothing makes me prouder when she learns something new (especially if I taught her!).

If you want to check out the perspective of raising a kid from a father’s viewpoint check out my brother-in-law’s blog by googling “dadabase blogger”.

Andrew Reynolds
Northeast Alabama, USA

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't read this

**Not going to tell you how to live your life!

I'm sick of the listserve- really. And with such strict guidelines there's little room for creativity.

Nothing to say to 20,000+ people. Plenty I would love to share in person (including critiques of this project!).

If you're in Montreal, are visiting, or will visit, email me and we'll blind (friend!) date.

If you live in any other area of the world I likely want to visit so also email and we can maybe connect on couchsurfing or something like that.

I probably sound like a grouch-I'm really not, but does it matter oh-person-from-who-knows-where-but-likely-from-the-US-of-A?

Peace, love, and lots of hugs,

Montreal, QC

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Greetings from Bosnia Herzegovina

Hi there,

My name is Mirza. I am from Bosnia Herzegovina. Just like many others on ListServe, I was both excited and mortified when I received the "You've been selected" email from ListServe. What can I say to 20,000+ people? What should I write? How will my email compare to others that came before me? I pondered this question for a while before finally deciding to share 10 things about my country (in no particular order) that you might not know.

1. "World War I" broke out as a consequence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, being shot dead in Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia), by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six Bosnian Serb assassins.

2. The 1984 Winter Olympics, the XIV Olympic Winter Games, were held in Sarajevo, present-day Bosnia-Herzegovina.

3. One of the last remaining rain-forests (primeval forests) in Europe is located in Bosnia-Herzegovina, near the border with Montenegro.

4. Bosnia-Herzegovina boasts at least two Noble Prize Laureates in Ivo Andrić (1961 - Literature) and Vladimir Prelog (1975 Chemistry).

5. Bosnian writer and director Danis Tanovic won an Oscar in 2002 for best foreign film: "No Man’s Land".

6. The Sarajevo Film Festival, an annual film festival held every August in Sarajevo, is one of the largest film festivals in Europe. Founded in 1995 during the siege of Sarajevo, it has brought international and local celebrities to the Bosnian capital every year since.

7. One of the country's most recognizable landmarks, Stari Most (Old Bridge), is a bridge built in the 16th century by the Ottomans in the city of Mostar. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years, before it was destroyed on 9 November 1993 by Bosnian Croat forces. The bridge was rebuilt and reopened on 23 July 2004. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

8. IrfanView, one of the most popular free image/graphic viewers, was created in 1996 by Bosnian Irfan Skiljan.

9. Despite its relatively small population (approximately 3,750,000), Bosnia Herzegovina boasts a number of past and present world recognized sportspeople. Edin Dzeko (Football - Manchester City), Mirza Teletovic (Basketball - Brooklyn Nets), Felix Sturm aka Adnan Catic (Boxing), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Football - PSG), Mirza Delibasic (Basketball - former Bosnia and Real Madrid), Hasan Salihamidzic (Football - former Bosnia and Bayern Munich) all are of Bosnian descent.

10. Since 2005, a number of people have visited Bosnia to see the "Bosnian Pyramids", a cluster of geological formations known as flatirons near the Bosnian town of Visoko, northwest of Sarajevo.The pyramid shaped hills are promoted by Bosnian author Semir Osmanagic as human-made and the largest ancient pyramids on Earth.

Thanks for reading and write back if you found my mail interesting.

Mirza Pandzo
Bugojno, Bosnia Herzegovina

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Categorical Imperative.

My life changed after reading about the categorical imperative. Do a google search and you will find lots of stuff. Start with the wikipedia article.

One concept that I really love is about freedom.

"Freedom is not just the ability to do what you will (what you wish or want) but to be able to will, with nothing but pure reason"

We always think about freedom in terms of what we *can* do. A bigger question is, if no body stops us, what will we do? And why? Think about it.

BTW, New Delhi is getting hotter and hotter - it is almost 40 degrees centigrade today!

Bye, Lomash

Kumar Lomash
Noida, India

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I, like seemingly so many of my peers, am currently employed at a level below what my education and experiences have qualified me for. I am thankful to have a job, at all. I do have friends who can't get one. I just feel unfulfilled. I realize that it is a rarity to get the job you want, just a couple of years out of college, but that doesn't stop me from wanting more. I've been looking, and making things happen. Interviews, second interviews, tests, references, getting so close, but not reaching the next level, yet. With the support of my friends and family, I've been able to keep my head up, and keep pushing. But, I know that there are thousands of others, just like me, and I'm wondering what the situation is doing to them, to us, and a group. This "Millenial" generation is participating in the lowest level of new home formation (moving out of mom and dad's, into your own place), since the 1950s, which says a lot of different things, at once.
These are all ideas, and stories all of you have read about, in the newspaper, and heard from your own friends, or gone through, yourselves. What I'm wondering is what will be the lasting effect? I'm thinking one of two things. Either we'll let this seep into or permanent mindset, and continue feeling like we can't live up to the achievements and expectations set by those generations who have come before us, never feeling like we've reached our potential. The other result might be that we are still afraid of the greatness we may achieve, and this odd waiting period will only serve to make us stronger. Giving us a sense of perseverance that will continue to serve us throughout our lives. Toughening us up. A last bit if harsh winter, before the Spring of our lives gives us the chance to thrive grow, and create for ourselves, and those to follow. Shaping the world in our own image.
I'm thinking the latter version will prove to be the eventual course for myself, and most of my peers, and we'll get our time to show what we are made of. But, of course, it's possible that I'm going through the same thing that countless generations before me have felt and experienced, and everything will turn out just fine.

Spreading Positivity,

Rashan A. Colbert
Alexandria, VA

Saturday, April 20, 2013

So Much More To Say

I will always remember being about the age of six on the train in England with my family and looking down the aisle behind me to see a little boy about my age in a row of seats all by himself with a backpack. The train started to move and I looked back again to see that still, no one was with him. He was riding the train alone. Later he pulled out a string cheese snack and with great intent pealed a little strand down to the bottom but not all the way off, so that it was hanging there, dangling. He preceded repeat this until the snack was now transformed into a dangling squid which he bounced around in the air as if acting out some skit. Every time I eat string cheese since seeing this boy alone on the train I go through the same motions of transforming my snack into a squid and while doing so I think about that little boy. I like to think he was running away, starting a life free of the structure of family, school, society… I will always see myself as that little boy, a kid running away from the world with just his imagination to keep him company.

I have experienced a huge amount in the past year. I have no doubt in my mind that it began when I started to believe in myself. I truly believe now that you create your own luck and that it all begins with your mental state.

Imagine wearing a small stylish piece of technology on your head that can record your mental state throughout the day: happy, depressed, frustrated, engaged, etc. Now imagine at the end of each day you could search for the happiest moment you experienced and re-live it by playing back the point of view video that the same device captured. Imagine your doctor has diagnosed you with clinical depression and you are able to search through your mental state data for the moments you experienced the most depression and view the video of the minutes prior to determine factors that could be triggering this. Imagine using EEG to interface with heads up display technology like Google Glass and you will be imagining my dream of the technology I hope to bring to the world. I will be spending my summer in the Orlando, Florida area developing EEG and Eye Tracking software for a company looking to break into the NeuroMarketing field. My first steps towards realizing this dream.

Stephen Swartz has been a friend of mine since high school and I have not since met anyone with more pure talent than himself. We studied percussion together and I was consistently blown away by his musical prowess on any instrument as well as his improvisational creativity. In this day and age when it seems like we are being overwhelmed with new music from laptop producers, I believe it is my duty as someone involved in the music industry to search for and recognize those artists who are putting their heart and soul into their work. Stephen is one of those artists. Google Stephen Swartz Bullet Train and you will see for yourself. Enjoy.

I am always looking to connect with people and learn more so please feel free to reach out to me. If you are in the Orlando area this summer lets meet up and grab coffee! I would say a beer but I am still 20. ;)

Fellow | Kairos Society Founder | Party Cartel, LLC President | JMU Society of Entrepreneurs


Eric Walisko
Harrisonburg, VA

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Princesses & the Tooth Fairy!

Years ago, when my daughter was five, I took her to a local Festival, an event that we never miss. She loves all the rides and games. I am a soft touch when it comes to my daughter, and she knows it.

One attraction offered at this event was a bungee/trampoline combo that looked as if it would be great fun. Picture a bungee harness attached to cables, and an electric hoist supported by a framework of steel that rose about twenty feet in the air. Below this was a small air-filled trampoline about six feet in diameter and two feet high. My Princess had to experience this! I purchased a ticket and off went my little angel. The nice lady strapped her in and my daughter began bouncing on the trampoline, the bungee cables keeping her centered and allowing her to go high up in the air. So far, so good. The nice lady who had strapped my daughter in gave me a big smile — correction, a big toothless smile!

Then it hit me. I had entrusted the life of all I hold precious to someone who could not even take care of her own teeth! What was I thinking? As my daughter continued to bounce gleefully up and down, I took mental notes of the apparatus, trying to determine the weak spots. Where would it break? In what direction will my daughter be sailing through the air? I made my best guess and moved into an area where I felt it would only be a matter of time before I would be rescuing my daughter like Superman. Why has fatherhood turned me into such a neurotic? A few more bounces and then they raised her up to the top of the unit. Annabella was now suspended about twenty feet in the air. If something broke, she would shoot straight up in the air like a human bottle rocket!

The nice lady pushed a button, and my daughter slowly descended, the harness was removed and off we went, my daughter fearless and elated, and dad needing a Xanax.

Then we played a game of tossing ping-pong balls into bowls floating in a pool. I’d like to meet the cruel genius who invented this game. Twenty dollars later, we won a fish in a plastic bag. When I arrived home, my wife asked me if I would go buy a fish bowl with a cover (so the cats couldn’t get at the fish). I headed to the pet store, where I was informed that they did not have covers for their fish bowls. So they showed me an aquarium — a very small, cheap-looking aquarium that made the plastic bag seem like Buckingham Palace. So I looked at the better aquariums. One hour later, I left with a 29-gallon aquarium, a stand, a filter, a light, gravel, and so on.

After three more trips to the pet store, I’d spent about $400 on the aquarium and all of the necessary components to make our fish a happy fish. My daughter named the fish “Princess.” I called it “Princess Lucky.” After three days, we determined that the water was now suitable for Princess Lucky to enter the aquarium. Amid much fanfare, Princess Lucky was escorted to her new quarters. As she investigated her new digs, she looked very happy. And I could swear, at one point, she looked back at me and smiled…

…a big toothless smile!

Dan Mindo
Chicago, IL

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Une jeune vie

20 years isn't a lot of time to live on this Earth. Given my age and relative experience I'd venture to say that any potential advice I have would be already known by the majority of readers.

In my spare time I do a lot of programming. I'm perpetually curious and voracious in my problem solving. I obsess. My addictive personality takes over more often than I'd like.

The day before Valentine's day I broke up with my boyfriend of almost 2 years. He was 40.

I'm fascinated by languages, both spoken and unspoken.

So far, this message has read like a pithy OkCupid profile. I'm interested in stories. I'm interested in hearing about experiences and opinions. I'm interested in pen-pals.

Share your story with me and I'd be more than happy to share more of mine with you. Intimacy is something I have difficulty with. The Listserve seems an ideal place to begin getting over that.

You are loved. You are not alone and you are not worthless. And, neither am I.

GCS d-- s+:+ a-- C++>$ UL++>++++ P+ L+++ !E(---) W+++ HN++ ?o ?K- w o- M+ ?V(-) PS++ PE Y+ PGP+ t- 5 DH X R- tv b++ DI+ D+ G++ e++ h++ r- y+(*)

Brian Morrow

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


For those uninitiated, sonder is defined as follows: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness.

A brief story set in New York.

Somehow, I got into my head that I must to move to a city. I wanted to lose myself beneath gigantic concrete, glass, and steel behemoths and in between millions of denizens. So, I packed a suitcase and went to New York, NY. Youthful anticipation is beautiful and naive. I had saved up enough capital for my rent and daily expenditures, and I had planned a sizeable list of things to do. I was bursting with excitement, I could not wait to live in the Big Apple!

On the third morning after my arrival, I left my apartment with a self-guided tour of the New School in mind. Fast forward to me heading down the yellow line near Prince street. There I was, sitting on some train car, underground, moving 30 mph, when four men approached me and asked for the time. As soon as I pulled out my phone, I was punched square in the jaw and I was knocked to the ground. The moment was surreal, absurd. I can remember seeing blood drip from my mouth to the ground, and I can remember looking for the others on the train. I wasn't looking for help-- I knew that wouldn't come. It was a disappointed, defeated gaze. I was drawn to my feet by one of the men, and, again, I was queried for the time. For a second time I moved for my phone; I read the numbers on the screen, 1:27 pm. They replied with a, "Thank You," and exited at the next stop.

I forwent my trip to the New School and returned home where I immediately threw my list of activities in the trash. It was not going to be like this and I was not going to do that. Those men had taken my naivety, but in return they gave me time. From that point forward, I spent my time observing others and losing myself in my being.

The city was no longer a fairytale; it lied naked before me. It was a battleground and a playground. In five minutes on a subway I saw the worst of humanity, in the remainder of my trip I had prove that humans could be great as well. Weeks later, I met a future amazing friend in a bar that I frequented. We began talking mutual interests: film, music, travel, art, everything. We both happened to be frisbee fanatics so I suggested we throw some disk. We agreed and spent following at Bryant park making each other laugh.

With this, my story comes to a close. Humanity's beauty is usually not found in grandiose efforts of altruistic sacrifice. Though it does happen that way sometimes, it usually presents itself in the mundane. Two people, throwing a frisbee, on a small patch of green, lost in tangled metal. I am not imparting a philosophy of life or giving worthwhile advice. Understand that we live our individual lives and only you can decide how you will affect others.

Evan Noble
Washington, DC

P.S. This message is dedicated to April for introducing me to The Listserv.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Would I Be A Different Person If I Had A Sibling?

I won The ListServe Lottery, not on April Fool’s Day, but on National Sibling Day, as an only child.

I was born and raised in China, a country known for a lot of things, including the “one child policy.” More than half of the people started to ask about the “one child policy” right after they knew I was born in China.

Do you guys still have that policy?

Why did your country have that policy?

Does China really have a large population? How large is it?

But I heard that people still had more than one child, right?

Blah blah blah.

Yes, we did have that policy, because we did have and still have a large population. It’s very large.

It’s 1/5 of the world’s population.

Right now if two only child get married, they could have two kids.

Just two.

No more than two.

However, what I want to talk about today, isn’t that policy, but a question that has been lingering in my head — how different would I be, if I had a sibling or two?

Recently at work, we interviewed a lot of people for a project. A young women in her late twenties said that her little sister, who’s now nine-year-old, is like her baby before she has her own baby. She would tell her all the lessons that she’d learned in life to prevent her from making the same mistakes. And her biggest wish is for her little sister to grow into a happy and healthy young lady.

I was so moved. I never had that kind of feeling. I never loved anyone in this world unselfishly and unconditionally other than my mom and dad.

I never had a big sister who could have warned me not to fall for Mr. Wrong;

I never had a big brother who could have taught me how to pitch, how to dance, and how to explore the world;

I never had a little sister with whom I could have shared every little secret and every pretty dress;

I never had a little brother whom I’d call dumb and obnoxious all day long but be secretly proud of.

A “mean” friend of mine always says that because I’m the only child, I’m spoiled. I’m eager to win and I always want everything.

But I disagree. Because I was given everything growing up, I cannot care less about monetary things and thus find myself less competitive in a lot of situations.

I cannot prove he’s wrong, nor prove I’m right.

If I had a sibling…

Would I be tougher? Would I be stronger? Would I be kinder?

Would I be more considerate? Would I be more patient? Would I be more mature?

How would they shape me and help me become someone different and better?

I now live a Pacific away from my parents. If I had a sibling, would him or her move here to be closer to me? Would we be each other’s support?

I don’t know. And I will never know.

It’s not like, I’ve never had a true adventure so I’m ready to take a true adventure;

It’s not like, I’ve never fallen onto the cold, hard ground so I’m ready to take the biggest chance.

I could never go back in time and grow up once again with a sibling.

Don't be greedy with your love for your siblings, coz there are people longing to have one.

Yisha Zhang

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy Birthday


Even with this weird opportunity to send a message to 21,422 people, I’d rather just send you a birthday note. So, listen up:

You are f$%&ing awesome.

I know it’s been a pretty weird (weird = kind of crappy and also legitimately weird) year for you, but you’re less than a week away from a fresh start.

Last year you:

Took a paid sabbatical.
Tried stand up comedy.
Realized stand up comedy was not your jam and tried writing funny stuff instead.
Wrote funny stuff.
Helped a lot of vets.
Stopped being a vegan.
Became one of my best friends.

This year you will:

Realize that you are f$%&ing awesome.
Try improv comedy.
Tell someone exactly why he or she should hire you and believe it.
Tell your dumb boss exactly what you think (at least once).
Teach someone else how to be a great friend who does things like sending text messages at 8:25 AM on Monday mornings that say “Here’s to a good week!” even though you know it won’t be.
Re-read Fierce Invalids and learn something new about Switters.

I know you will.

Let’s start with improv - first class on Daniel and me. We’re signing you up for Level One with Armando on April 27th. Happy Birthday!

Cheers to you, your big heart, your ridiculous giggle, your brave and lonely feminism, and your eerie way of knowing what’s right - always.

With my heart,

New York, NY

p.s. Sorry about that Oxford comma, I always get confused when there are so many "and-s" around.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Moments of Gratitude

Last year I watched a TED talk about lollipops (go ahead and watch it) and the impact you can have one someone’s life without even knowing it. I’ve found that a lot of people, myself included, are pretty terrible at expressing gratitude, at letting people know how important they are or how they have helped you to grow. Maybe it’s because we don’t realize the effect they’ve had until long after the interaction.

As a part of my job, I organize a staff training program including a safety and security training. Among engaging powerpoints, indoor drills, and one pretty memorable outdoor activity, we also make sure that every person has had the hands on experience of using a fire extinguisher* - the idea is that you have to actually do something to feel comfortable doing it. I feel the same way about expressing gratitude, praise, feedback and more. You have to get in the practice of doing it – and the more you do – the more natural it is.

So I’ll it started – “Thank you”

To the family I was born to and have found over the years for inspiring me to do better, to learn more, to take risks, to trust, to explore.

To the friends I have lost touch with – there is a certain comfort in knowing that you pop in and out of my memories, that one day we’ll reconnect and it will be like no time has passed at all … or a great deal of time and still we’ll reminisce with joy.

To the friends I have lost for helping me to see how I’ve grown, where I’ve come from, teaching me to prioritize and make hard choices.

To my supervisors in work over the years for giving me so many opportunities to get better, experience different styles, learn, and develop over time. For trusting me.

To my mentors, assigned, found, stumbled upon (and those of you who just don’t know how much I look up to you) for taking the time to invest in me and my success – for learning from me and giving to me, for challenging and pushing, and helping me to fly.

To the people I’ve worked with in so many different jobs for collaboration, inspiration, funny videos, teaching your skills and making work seem like fun.

And to the people who have worked for me for helping me to grow, offering your knowledge and perspective, and understanding that we are all working with the best intentions.

This is vague – I know. I’ll try to be better at acknowledging these realizations as they occur. I only encourage you to do the same. Thank someone, tell them how they influenced you, how they changed you.

There were other things I imagined I would want to email to all of you about... they included:

The Little Prince (please read it... again)

Sarah Kay (amazing spoken word)

Travel (do's good for the soul)

Cooking or recipes or something (but there's pinterest, right?)

Social Media, Networking, and Connections (It's a little overwhelming really)

Summer Camp (what an incredible experience for kids to learn how to be kids… good, independent, kind, adventurous, filled with wonder kids)

Kirkland, WA

* Oh, and really… if you haven’t ever used a fire extinguisher – try it in an empty parking lot once before you need to in a real emergency.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Quest



Someday some hypermanic kid
will produce a moronically maxed-out adventure odyssey
that will spark the overdue rebellion
among all the over-pressured SAT grinds,
and us grumpy midlife critics
will get to witness a new Kerouac,
and the greatest pent-up young-life crisis
in the history of the world.
- David Brooks, “Sal Paradise at 50,” NY Times, 2007

This is about a quest. An ordinary quest -- no dragons, sorcerers, mythical beasts. I wish. This is about my journey into the soul. Now I know what you're thinking. Not another egotistical self-absorbed desperate whiny journey into the soul.* Why would you want to read that? No. Like I said, this is about a quest.

Step one: Abandon >all< earthly possessions.

Well, almost. I have a backpack. A light one, with no more than a few toiletries, sleeping bag, a few extra shirts.
And I have a boyfriend, whom I love almost as much as life itself. He’s not coming with me. I can’t even imagine life without him. He is Mr. Perfect in every sense of the word. His name is Michael. I could write a whole book about how much I love Michael. In fact, I did. It’s my diary. Not for publication.
Anyway, he is the reason why Step #2 is REALLY REALLY HARD!

Step two: Buy a 1-way ticket to the other side of the world.

Step #3: Go on the greatest adventure of your young life.

But before I get ahead of myself, like I said, this is about a quest. There is a back story. In order to appreciate the full meaning of the quest, you need to know the back story. If you would rather skip right to the adventure, see p. __ (How to talk your way out of paying police bribes in Nepal) or maybe p. __ (Sleeping through terrorist attacks outside your window). But trust me, you want the back story.

Like many young middle-class Americans, I went to college. I went to a good college, University of Washington.

No, wait. Back up. This whole mess started with the SAT. That fucking standardized test. During high school, I was convinced I was going to be an artist. I wanted to go to art school. But my parents, of course, wanted me to go to a respectable school and pursue a respectable career -- one that would actually make money.

Sound familiar?? Doesn’t every young person go through something like this???

So I took the SAT. And I got my score, like everyone else. But while everyone else was looking at their scores thinking “Fuck, I’ll never get into Harvard with a 1080!” I was looking at my score thinking someone vastly OVER-estimated my intelligence. Someone at the switch messed up. Pushed a button. Dropped a box full of files. Maybe some poor sorry 22 year-old at the SAT office never learned how to alphabetize, mixed up Sarah Ouderkirk with Sarah Actually-wants-to-go-to-college, or Sarah Grew-up-in-the-Ghetto-and-really-deserves-this-opportunity, or a BILLION other Sarahs ...

But there was no mistake. I was doomed. Cursed with an above-average SAT score, my parents and everyone else expected me to go to college.

So I applied.


@ Reply with “Quest” in the subject line and I’ll send you more.


Sarah Ouderkirk
La Jolla, California, USA

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Not so usual advices

Its funny to recieve the "you've been selected" email in april 1st, it took me the entire day to realise it wasn't a joke and to put my thoughts together.

My name is Barboza, from a city in the southest part of Brazil. And unfortunately I dont have a touching history to share with you.

But I have some advices:

- Dont own, share:
In a few years, status will not be how much you own, but how much you can share.
- Travel, but always return home:
Travel is one of the best things to do, but dont make the return home the worst part of the trip. If you do, its not to your hearth's home that you are returning to.
- Protect your ideals, but respect other's opinions
Its not because he thinks different from you that he's wrong, or that you're wrong. Every point of view deppends on the angle that you see the point.
- Make others be in debt with you
Do favors and help others without charging, they probably will return the favor in a moment of need, but dont get mad if they dont.

I hope you guys have a good day today, and I hope I can make the difference in the live of at least one of you with this email.

Sorry for the bad english =|

Rafael Barboza
Poro Alegre - Brazil

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

20, 19, 18...

I love movies.

The last movie that I really liked was Anna Karenina. Ok, I admit I am a huge Joe Wright fan but the cinematography on that movie is just amazing. The dance, the shot at dusk in the farm and the last shot on the movie. I could go on.

The one movie I couldn't bring myself to watch again is Atonement (from Joe Wright also). It was just too depressing to endure again. Heart-achingly beautiful.

Score is as important as a good plot. Pulls the heartstrings, sort of speak. Ennio Morricone is my favorite composer. It was him with Guiseppe Tornatore on Cinema Paradiso whom brought out my first tears from watching a movie. That scene near the end with grown-up Toto on the theaters. I hope you know what I am talking about.

Sometimes I surprise myself identifying movies on cable by their score and a few dialogues without looking at it. #Humblebrag?

I try to make every movie experience as immersive as possible. I prefer seeing it on the big screen, anywhere between the first to fourth row on the front, no noisy/crunchy snacks (even popcorn) and if with company, who rarely speaks.

Of all the big movies coming out in 2013 (Oblivion, Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, Star Trek and Man of Steel), I am looking forward more to Richard Linklater's Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Remember Before Sunrise and Before Sunset? This is the latest and last of the trilogy.

I especially like foreign movies (non-US), subtitles and all. I am a sucker for movies nominated for Best Foreign Film at Oscars and I have seen a lot since I could remember. I would love to hear recommendations especially from your home countries.

- - -

There was this nice and cheesy movie of Matt Damon called We Bought a Zoo that probably etched deeper than any of the movies I had seen in my entire life. It wasn't because of a mind-blowing CGI or a hauntingly beautiful score but from a conversation between a father and his son:

"Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."

Great advice, isn't it. Every time I need some push, I just start counting down and it would just flow out. :D

- - -

It's really hot on my side of the globe lately so to everyone experiencing the tropic heat, stay cool and keep hydrated.

And to the rest of the world, ingat!

Onat Lopera

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Clean Fiend

Everyone has advice to give, mine is this: Do what makes your life happy, even if its just 5 minutes a day.

And to support that cause, I want to pass along a story that my wife has written. 600 words isn’t much, so here is half a story - email me back and I will send along the rest of it! She is working on a book and has other stories already published.

The Clean Fiend

“Go on, Ted, just try a bite. It’s not going to kill you. I mean, come on, you’re already dead!”

“No, no, I just can’t. It’s so…unhygienic. We don’t even know where that has been. Just think of all the slimy, unsanitary cesspools in this city. Besides, you’re touching it and I know for a fact that you haven’t washed your hands in over a month.”

“My hands are mostly bone and tendon at this point. What’s to wash?”

“See, thinking like that just aids in the spread of unsavory diseases. Here, I have an antibacterial spray…”



“No, Ted. Just…no.”

“Honestly, I don’t know why you’re so resistant to the idea of basic hygiene. I can only imagine the number of creepy bacterium living inside of you right now. It’s just, ugh, it’s just too vile to contemplate.”

“Don’t point that at me!”

“Just let me spritz you on this bit of entrail at least. It can’t be healthy for it to just drag along the ground like that. Or, actually, wait, I think I have some plastic wrap that’ll-”

“Ted! Stop it. Jesus! First off, that’s horribly invasive. Leave my intestines alone. Secondly, it’s the style, you know. Everyone’s doing it. It helps trip up the fleshies and, you know, it looks cool. Eva digs it. At least, I think she does. She lost her jaw the other week so it’s hard for her to talk now.”

“Really? Eva? The waitress from Bodie’s Buffet on 3rd?”

“The one and only, man. The one and only.”

“I thought you weren’t her type? Because I distinctly remember you asking her out when we went there on New Years before all of this started and she said-”

“I know what she said, Ted! But she’s gotten to know me now. We’ve been seeing each other pretty steadily over at Bodie’s. He’s still serving up the buffet. Well, the menu has changed a bit, but you know… Stop looking at me like that, man! She’s totally into me. I can tell.”

“Yes, and I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that personal standards might lessen with advanced decomposition.”

“That kind of tone is totally unnecessary, dude. I’m just trying to… Okay, look, this isn’t about me! This is about your completely neurotic refusal to eat and all of this weirdo germ phobia crap. I mean, what self-respecting zombie carries around a fanny pack of sanitized baby wipes? I mean, seriously!”

“Look here, I have a legitimate concern. If more people were conscientious about the spread of bacteria none of this would have happened in the first place. And by ‘people’, I mean you! I still remember waking up to you chewing on my leg. That was definitely a violation of trust!”

“Aw, come on, Ted. How many times do I have to apologize for that?”

“How many…How many times do you have to apologize for turning me into the rotting undead? Do you seriously have to ask that?”


Author: A. Lockhart

Email me if you want the rest and to learn about what she publishes next!

Raleigh, NC

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Power of Nerd Camp

Hi Listservers,

At my day job, I rarely need to turn copy around in less than 48 hours. I’m also a compulsive procrastinator—a high school habit I’ve never been able to shake. So this is going to be an exercise in speed writing.

But it’s worth it, because I get to share my five glorious summers at nerd camp with you. First, some background: I grew up in Taipei, where I attended the same school from kindergarten until senior year. In 7th grade, I took the SATs to qualify for a Johns Hopkins-run summer program called CTY, short for Center for Talented Youth. Some of the camp’s more high-profile alumni include Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga. Accepted students take classes in math, science, or the humanities, and essentially complete a semester’s worth of schooling within three weeks.

By the time I started CTY, I had already spent 8 years with roughly the same 200 classmates. Like many preteens, I was shy, insecure, and lacked self-confidence. Traveling across the world—from a large city to the small town of Saratoga Springs in upstate New York—to attend summer camp was revelatory. It was the first time I was surrounded by new people and could reinvent myself without any consequences for three weeks. The campus of Skidmore College was the first place that felt like home to me. It’s where I discovered the pleasures of cloud-watching, had my first kiss, learned that the only way to eat cereal is out of a cup (so much easier to drink the milk!), and truly felt comfortable in my own skin. There’s traditionally a day where everyone dresses in drag. (I had many a male friend tell me they could never look at a miniskirt the same way after wearing one for a few hours.) I studied subjects like algebra, psychology, and logic—which I've long since forgotten. What has stayed with me are the incredible friendships, the first 18 digits of pi (a cool party trick), and every single word to American Pie (the last song played at weekly dances).

Parents and would-be parents: This camp is magic. It’s where nerdy kids go to feel normal and discover that like-minded people come in all shapes and sizes. It’s where I embraced the fact that being smart and cool weren’t mutually exclusive. That’s the power of nerd camp.

I'd love to hear from fellow CTYers. If you're in the New York area, I'm on a committee that plans alumni events, including a dance in May. And if you know me personally, shoot me an email! I'd love to know who's on here.

Stephanie Wu
New York City

PS – I couldn’t write to 20,000 people without mentioning my pet project. In my spare time, I run Mochi Magazine, an online publication for young Asian Americans. Check us out and pass along the word to others who may be interested in beauty tips, celebrity profiles, sisterly advice, and more.

PPS – March 13 was one of the most exciting days of my life, when I found out that a Veronica Mars movie was being made and I could be a part of it. They're hoping to become the biggest Kickstarter project ever and still looking for people to donate as little as $1.

PPPS – A huge shoutout to my friend Alvin, one of Listserve’s creators, for coming up with this idea.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

That guy on that show

Hello, Listservians! Right now I'm an aspiring voice actor, but back in 2000 I had a successful experience on the US version of the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", so I figured I'd start there.

Security was super-tight—look up "Charles Van Doren" to see why. We were escorted everywhere (even to the bathroom) by steely-eyed production assistants, our pre-show buffet came with a free set of lawyers, and all phones, wallets, etc. were locked up prior to entering the set. One contestant was almost kicked out because he brought a book into the green room in case he got bored.

My taxes weren't covered; in 2001 I handed over 39% federal and 8% (California) state. ABC was VERY clear about my fiscal responsibilities and provided many helpful IRS forms; I can't speak for how the other networks handle things.

This conversation (more or less) took place in my supervisor's office at work in the week between the show's taping and airing:

Supervisor: So, Joe, what did you want to see me about?

Me: know I can't tell you how I did on Millionaire until it airs...but I got a call and they want me on the Rosie O'Donnell Show on Thursday. I might need a couple more days off...

Supervisor: (pause) Right…I understand. Shouldn't be a problem.

My brother Tony was in college at the time. His full name was in the campus phone directory, so he received a lot of calls after the show aired. Several were from female undergrads asking if he was related to that guy on the TV, and maybe if he was free later they could get a cup of coffee? His girlfriend (now wife) was NOT amused.

My other brother Nate was one of my Phone-A-Friends. He is a baseball fanatic and was a sports writer at the time, so when a $32,000 baseball question came up, he was the obvious person to ask. In the 30 seconds available he gave what he said was “possibly” the answer, but just after the phone cut off he realized it was incorrect and had the mother of all forehead-slap moments. Fortunately, his emphasis on "possibly" gave me the impetus to puzzle out the right answer. After the taping was over and I got back to my hotel, there were two phone messages for me – one from a New York Times Magazine reporter confirming some biographical data, and one very, very apologetic one from Nate.

Yes, I let him twist in the wind ever-so-briefly. I'm only human.

Nate also has Von Hippel–Lindau disease (or VHL). VHL presents itself as vascular tumors in the eyes, kidneys, and other organs. Once you know it's there, you go through periodic retinal scans and MRIs to keep tabs on things, and if something shows up you go through lasers and cryosurgery. Nate has gone through a lot.

Two months ago, I spent time at his home in Colorado helping with shopping and the kids while he recovered from eye surgery meant to keep his vision above 20/200 (it seems to have been successful). Recently he started a program to help the newly visually impaired regain their independence; he's learning skiing, he'll be rock climbing soon, and as a final exam they'll drop him off at some random Denver intersection and tell him to find his way back. I look at him, and I will be damned and milled and drip-brewed if I could keep it together even half as well as he does.

Joseph Trela
Antioch, California, USA

Friday, April 5, 2013

Invitation, Inheritance, Coincidence

My invitation arrived on the morning of April Fools Day, so I thought it was a prank. Being a good librarian, I did my research and found out that yes, the invitation was legitimate, and holy crap, I was about to have a very large, very far-reaching megaphone to broadcast my thoughts.

I've had a lot of grand ideas of what to say, so this is going to be a mishmash of those grand ideas. One of my greatest faults: I'm an idea person, but I have more ideas than I can legitimately deliver upon. Over the years, I've learned to put those ideas out there and just let other people run with them. It hurts the first few times that someone makes something successful out of your idea, but you get over it after a while.


Things I Hope that My 15-Month Old Daughter Inherits From My Family: -My father's charm and charisma -My mother's determination -My brother's sensitivity to others' feelings

She has my grandmother's (and my great-great-grandmother's) name. She has my looks and my husband's build. I hope she has my confidence and my husband's empathy. I think she is clever, a quick learner, and a delight to be around, even when she's teething.

(She also has my flair for the dramatic, as evidenced by her infrequent-but-entertaining tantrums, which consist of lying on her stomach on the floor with her bottom in the air, not making much noise other than an occasional whine.)


Two coincidences:

-When I was 18, I had a boyfriend who told me that he could never fall in love with anyone because a girl broke his heart when he was in seventh grade. She had a very memorable name and was the bane of my existence. I never met her, but I couldn't stand her. Years later, I had a job as a writing tutor, and she was one of my colleagues in the writing lab. Once I got to know her, I told her the story, and she told me that she never knew that he even had a crush on her.

-One of the women in my department at work is the best childhood friend of an ex-boyfriend's mother. I had a long, drawn-out, often contentious relationship and two very ugly breakups with this ex, so I do not ask about him--although I do love it when she tells me unsolicited stories about his various misfortunes. (Sometimes I am not a very nice person, but neither was he, so I feel justified.)


While driving home yesterday, I wondered if among the 20,000+ of you are people from my past, long gone from my life. Perhaps Danny Stratten, who I met at a rave in St. Louis in October of 1992, or Eric Hart, who gave me a tulip outside an Urbana house party in spring 1993, or David McCarty, the Mississippi State pre-law student who spent a memorable night wandering San Antonio with me in October of 1994. Or Laura Ortman, one of the first friends I made when I started college at Millikin University in the fall of 1991, who was one of the most genuinely talented people I have ever met. Even in this age of constant connectedness, I don't know these people any more, but I think that I would like to, even if it's just for the sake of nostalgia.

Nanette Wargo Donohue
Champaign, IL

P.S. Thanks to Jenny B. for introducing me to the Listserve. I hope she gets to post, since she's one of the most fascinating people I know.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Take charge

So of course I get selected for The Listserve on 1st April... leaving me wondering if it is some April Fools' joke - maybe everyone was "selected"....?

Here is some thoughts from my brain... make of it what you will.

Too often people rush headlong into things, be it purchasing a house, a new car or choosing a career, without stopping to think. People also tend to get stuck in the day-to-day, same-old grind, again without stopping to think. I'm not saying buying a new house is bad, but if you don't work out that you can actually afford it before making the purchase, that is bad. i.e. not thinking things through.

I say, stop, think and inspect your situation. Often you'll see a better solution, or gain some insight into the situation. Too many people go through life in a semi-disconnected state.

For example, "Maybe buying a new car right now isn't the time - maybe I'm better paying off that student loan". Actually doing this would make a huge difference to your life in the long run... but most people don't think.

So, I guess, my message would be to not just go through life reacting to the world around you, but pro-actively identify positive actions you can take, and take them.

Stop letting things happen to you, and make things happen.

What would be interesting if you could e-mail me a time where you made things happen over letting them happen to you - I'd be interested to compile them into a list (anonymous of course) and it them out to everyone who responded... anyone interested? Drop me a line!

Hopefully this e-mail at least caused you to stop and think...

Cape Town, South Africa

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

All you need is love

I was born in Brazil. Grew up in Bolivia. Went to school in Canada, and then to college in the US. Now I live and work in the UK and am about to marry an Italian. But 8 years ago I would have never imagined I would ever be saying all of that…

When I was in high school I dreamt about studying abroad. I started a "scholarship hunt" - my parents wouldn't' have been able to pay to send me on an exchange program or to university in another country. I was one of those overachiever students, with 9892392 extracurricular activities that filled my days (and nights). The only empty spot in my schedule was Wednesday from 6:30pm onwards. And there it was. On a Wednesday morning I saw a poster with "Want to study in Italy, Canada or Wales?" written on it. "Presentation - Wednesday [that same day] at 7pm". Coincidence? Destiny? Call it what you want - I was in.

The presentation started on time. A couple of people talked about the opportunity. Photos were shown. It looked too good to be true, but I was enthusiastic. My parents were confused when I got home and started jumping up and down while telling them about what I had just heard. The deadline to apply was a week or so later. There was a lot to prepare but I was determined to do it on time. The selection process wasn't easy. Lots of stages and even traveling to another city involved, but it was totally worth it.

A few months later I was saying bye to my family and friends and heading off to Canada for the best couple of years of my life (or two of them, at least!). Living in the middle of the rain forest, next to the ocean, along with 199 other students from about 90 countries, having the opportunity to do things I would have never done otherwise, meeting amazing people from all over the world, having seals and sea lions as next door neighbours, kayaking every week, printing my own photos in a dark room, having the most amazing conversations at insane hours at night with my roommates from all over the world at the expense of very little sleep (but at that age, who cares!), studying concepts of the theory of relativity with friends by acting out (literally) thought experiments, having classes in a floating building, teaching other students how to dance "saya", recording a CD of random songs about climate change (?!?), jumping on the cold ocean as my graduating "event" (instead of having a prom night)…

If you have children, or nephews/nieces, grandchildren, friends, friends' children, cousins, or know anybody between the ages of 16-18 (or getting there) who would be, like I was, interested in a "mind-opener" experience, tell them to look up "UWC" (United World Colleges). If you don't, but would like the sound of this and would like to contribute somehow, look it up too!

I now live in London, a city a love because of its diversity, its infinite amounts of offerings in terms of arts, concerts and events, its wonderful mix of old and new and, well… its beauty (ignore the weather). I was fortunate enough to go to a number of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic events and I have to say - what an inspiring period to be in London! I love music, travelling, languages, sciences (physics in particular), movies, and exercising (<3 yoga, squash is fun!, swimming is so relaxing, and running is so much more enjoyable than it was years ago...). I can brag about having grown up in a house with a mango, avocado, coconut and papaya tree in the backyard. I wish the day had 30 more hours so I could get to do all the things I wish I did on a daily basis (play the piano, read, play the guitar, practice French, draw, watch movies - there's too many good ones! - , write a blog, keep up with my online classes - Coursera is awesome!, keep in touch with geographically distant family and friends more frequently…)

Life isn't perfect, but I'm happy. I hope you are too.

Thanks for all the interesting stories. Keep them coming.

London, UK, Europe, The Earth

P.S.: If you speak Portuguese and like reading, check out "A Cidadela Inventada", a novel by Pihba Cavalcanti (my dad) :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Our Son, Evenson

“In Avril, me give you won chick hen.”

Evenson’s English is getting better. The weekly classes are paying off, but he struggles with proper grammar.

Evenson is 14 and he’s in the fourth grade. It’s not because he’s unintelligent. He’s actually quite brilliant—he works well his hands and learns quickly. But Evenson is behind in school because most years his family couldn’t afford to send him. He’s the oldest of five, and his father is dead. For several years, his mom raised him and his sister, Ludmia, as a widow. Then she remarried and quickly had three more little ones. Feeding the kids was more important than paying tuition.

My wife, Sonja, and I hear his crackly voice come through Skype. He offers us a chicken, and it takes a second for the words—then the profound gesture—to register.

Evenson has one rooster (kòk) and two hens (poul). Three chickens. And he wants to give us one.

His simple gesture grips us and we just melt.

Melting. That happens often in Haiti. And it happens particularly often with Evenson.

Sonja met him first. We were with a team in Carrefour and Evenson tagged along because following twenty blan was more interesting than not. He spoke enough English to tell her his name, and the two set to drawing pictures in a notebook and learning snippets of each other’s language: tree and pye, dog and chen, car and machin.

Quickly, they became inseparable. He spent every day glued to Sonja, learning new words and listening to Michael Jackson on her iPod (He loves to sing, and his voice cracks now).

I melted the first time, I think, when Evenson made a heart from a plastic bottle cap rig and gave it to Sonja. She gave him a hair tie to wear on his wrist.

We took him to the beach, and Sonja carried him on her back into the water. I watched the two of them spin and splash in the waves while joy just washed over me.

We were only in Haiti for a week, but when we left, tears were shed. And we knew we had to see him again.

Evenson became the reason that we kept going to Haiti. We go regularly now to do volunteer work, develop relationships with community leaders, visit friends and, mainly, to see Evenson.

With less money than we would spend on a weekend getaway, we helped Evenson’s parents start a business. Now Evenson, Ludmia, and his brother Josie go to school. The seven-person family also moved from a small tent to a small room that makes our two-bedroom apartment appear like a mansion.

You can’t be in Haiti without being overwhelmed by the poverty. Simple things we take for granted—clean water, electricity, groceries, new shoes—are luxuries out of the reach of most.

You also can’t help but be overwhelmed by the passionate generosity. There’s our crippled friend Leonard who insists on standing while you sit on chairs borrowed from the neighbors. Or there’s another friend, homeless since the 2010 earthquake, who brings us more breadfruit than we could possibly eat.

Your heart just melts. And melts. And melts.

Sonja and I don’t have kids yet, so Evenson is the closest thing we have to a son. We keep going back to Haiti to see him. And to be in a place that feels like home because it is full of more love, joy and generosity than anywhere else I have ever been.

Mike Nagel
Dover, NH

Monday, April 1, 2013

Listserve means Control + Alt + Del.

For me getting the Listserve email is like mentally pressing control alt delete; STOP. BREATHE. THINK.
It gives me chance to think about things from a different perspective. And that's a good thing.
It seems to me we live in a much faster ever connected world that's interconnected with great ways of communicating - email, Skype, Facebook, twitter etc. Yet We don't communicate so much on a basic level.... Talk!

So I got selected on the listserve lottery.
"I have no idea what to say" is what people said to me at my dad's funeral just
before Christmas. His death for me came kinda out the blue, a sidewinder if you will, yes he was old (74) but he had so much life in him. He would get on his bike everyday, go down the library and check his emails (he had a computer at home but the library has a printer and he got from under my mother's feet!) then he'd bike to the bookmakers put his bets on and collect his winnings before biking home to make lunch for him and my mum. Funny little man. Love you dad.

I see all these inspirational quotes " do one thing everyday that scares you" or "do one thing everyday that make you happy".
Well I suggest "do one thing every day that will make someone else happy".

As oasis sang nobody ever mentions the weather to make or break your day, so go out your way and try and make someone's day. Yeah I know it's cheesy try a random act of kindness everyday, cause everyone's got their own shit going on and who knows you saying Hi or smiling and buying a randomer a cup of coffee behind you in the line is going to in some small way change someone's day / life for the better. It happened to me. Someone in front of me bought me a cup of coffee and it blew me away, yeah you hear about it and I've read that book 'pay it forward' but until it actually happens to you you'll never know.

So allow me to introduce my self
My name is Thomas Patrick John Clark. I'm 6' 4. Im 38 and 3/4. I have a sister Lucy. I live in a small town called Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire uk. I live in an apartment with my girlfriend Miss shell.
I work for a tea company called Ringtons and I deliver tea and biscuits to people's houses with a wicker basket, YES THAT'S RIGHT IT STILL GOES ON! I went to a comedy night in a pub the other night and the comedian asked me what I did for a job and I froze in terror, like a rabbit in a headlight, it's kinda ripe for taking the pee. But its my job and it keeps me off the streets.

I wish I could inspire all
the people reading this to do GREAT THINGS but I've got a limited world view so I cAn't. If you want inspiration go and listen to Baz Lurman's song sunscreen. It's a great song.

I guess what I'm trying to convey is “try to see the good in everyone”.

Take care of each other.
If you are ever in this neck of the woods then please look me and we'll go for a beer, scouts honour!


postscript: As Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it”.

post-post-scriptum: I made YOU a mixtape to listen to its on 8tracks (dot) com search for the listserve!
Look me up on the twitter I'm milkandone

Tom Clark
Newark on Trent, UK