Thursday, October 31, 2013

On Time and Traveling

I received the notification that I'd won the Listserve lottery less than half a day into my weeklong Maui vacation. Since I don't bring my laptop on vacations if I can help it, I'm writing this to you from my iPhone. I'll proof as well as I can, but please forgive any typos.

Apparently, a 3 hour time difference is harder to overcome than I thought. My boyfriend and I went to bed at 7:30 last night because we're wusses and caved to the fact that we'd been up more than 18 hours. And now I'm awake at 5 am.

Time differences are one of those things that freaks me out a little bit. It boggles the mind to understand that time is relative and has very little meaning outside of that which we assign to it. But our whole society is based on this arbitrary concept, and we constantly feel the pressure of it.

I'm the sort of person who hates being late to things. In fact, I arrive stupidly early to most events (I often find myself walking around the block a few times so I'm not half an hour early for a doctor's appointment), and it takes a bit of mental effort to be "fashionably late" to parties. I wonder why humanity first felt the need to divide and label time in such a structured manner, and if our collective inability to imagine time as anything but a straight line with little tick marks every month, year, century, millennia, would prevent us from ever being able to time travel.

Anyway, I think that travel is one of the few pursuits that really highlight the absurdity of time. I think it's a tragedy when people structure vacations as just another to-do list: we have to hit this and this today and these other 5 things in this order at these times before we leave or this trip is a failure! Maybe that's a peculiarly American approach to seeing new places (since we always seem to go about things backwards), but as an American myself and a fairly uptight and rule-abiding citizen in my day-to-day, I approach traveling as a chance to, cliche though it may be, live in the moment and take what comes my way. I don't always succeed, but I think it's the effort that counts.

Time, our schedules, our plans... They're all arbitrary anyway. And that's a good thing.

Laura Beggs
San Francisco, CA

P.S. I like mailing people things. Send me an address and I'll send a postcard in return.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I love you

Hi there--hope you're doing well. Like everyone, you're trying the best you can to find peace and happiness, and you have a natural, inborn dignity and sanity that has nothing to do with the ups and downs you go through.

So I love you, and very best wishes to you in your life.

Relatedly, if you don't like yourself, that's really unnecessary and holding you back. Try to imagine yourself the way you were as a four-year-old child--that person just wanted to be happy, and the idea that he or she might not be enough or be worthy never came up. That sort of self-acceptance hasn't gone anywhere in you; it's just gotten clouded over by a lot of pain and complexity. You can definitely find it again, and you deserve it.

Other than that, I wrote some things I wanted to share:
# Questions
# Recommendations
# Plug

# Questions
These have been really important for me in my life. Obviously, I have my own strong opinions about them, but I think just asking them might be helpful.

-What can we work toward other than pleasure? Pain and pleasure come and go. My life is generally happy at the moment, but I know many of the people reading this are having a very difficult time; and, of course, my life has felt painful and deprived at other times, and will again.

We can't rely on pleasure. So what should our goals be? Should we just roll the dice and hope we're happier than we are miserable? Or is there a kind of happiness or fulfillment that isn't affected by the ups and downs of life?

-Who doesn't deserve to be happy? Picture a person who you think is terrible--a personal enemy, a dictator, etc. Now ask: If that person could be happy (without ruining others' happiness), would you wish that for him or her? If not, why not? What goal or principle does that person's misery serve, and does our wishing it come from a positive or negative place? Is it ever valid to celebrate another person's suffering?

-How stable and sensible is our notion of a self? I know I am alive and aware--but who exactly is it that knows that? Who’s aware of the sense of "I" itself? Is "I" aware of "I" itself, or is the sense of "I" something that comes up in a larger space? If the latter, does that space still have a particular name or identity?

# Recommendations
Here are a few things that I truly love, and hope you might too:

-Buddhism. The kindness, sanity, and wisdom I find in the Buddhist path have formed the basis for my life. I'd be happy to discuss my experiences and recommend books and other resources if you're interested.
-Jazz. I play jazz piano, so I'd recommend Brad Mehldau as an absolute colossus in jazz. Look for "Mehliana" on YouTube for him on keyboards with an amazing drummer, Mark Giuliana. They were in Boston last night, and it was easily the best show I've ever been to.
-Entrepreneurship. If you're highly competent and can tolerate risk, nothing I've found is as exhilarating, and nothing matches the pace of learning.

# Plug

-If you're interested in meditation, please check out my business, Medivate. It's designed to help people make regular meditation a habit. It's free, and has a meditation timer, meditation log, goal tracker, and a lot else.

Lastly, I love you to my parents, and to Clara.

Very best wishes,
Frederick Meyer
Boston, MA

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Striving for Happiness

I see a lot of people who share jokes. I like to laugh and want to be happy in this life. I would like to share something I came across in some random email that I read often and strive to live.

Remember these five simple rules to be happy:

1) Free your heart from hatred.

2) Free your mind from worries.

3) Live simply.

4) Give more.

5) Expect less.

In my life I also strive to live the Plan of Happiness, which would be my #6. I told my husband (who is also a Listserve subscriber) that if I won, I would share one of the biggest things that bring me happiness.

6) Living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe that I am a child of God. I have a Savior who is Jesus Christ. He knows me personally and better than I know myself. He knows my trials and struggles in life as well as all my joys and triumphs. He wants me to be happy. Most of all he loves me. I am grateful that he died for my sins so that I may one day return back to him. I know that families do not have to go to “death do you part”, but that we can be together for eternity. This knowledge brings me peace and joy. We recently lost a daughter in January and I know that we will one day be reunited with her. I know that a 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith prayed to our father in heaven and received a personal witness from him and our Savior not to join any other churches and that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored today on the earth through him. I believe in modern day prophets and I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet in our day who leads us and guides us today. I know that along with the Holy Bible that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God.

Yes, if you haven’t already guessed I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings me the most joy and happiness as well as serving others. If you would like to know more or have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Amy Cunningham
Charlotte, NC

Monday, October 28, 2013

600 or fewer non-controversial, non-self-promoting words tha...

600 or fewer non-controversial, non-self-promoting words that 20,000 plus people will see in less than 48 hours.

No pressure.

I am passionate about learning. I think the mind is a muscle that requires exercise in order to be healthy and strong. My father lived to 88 and enjoyed nearly 30 years of retirement, largely, I feel, due to his insatiable curiosity and desire to learn new things.

Four years ago as an adult I started playing the cello. It’s a surprisingly difficult instrument to learn to play well. And music is endlessly complex, with layer upon layer of nuance and meaning to ferret out and understand.

I have what I call an “infinite list”. This is the ever growing list of things I wish to learn or experience. The content of the list is less important, I feel, that having it and having the desire and drive to keep tackling new topics and new experiences.

Age is a state of mind and as long as your mind is young and supple I think you can be ageless — at least to some extent.

What’s on your infinite list?

Mark Nichols
Manhattan Kansas

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thank you.

Please keep in mind that what makes you happy is very likely someone
else's nightmare.
Please be humble and respectful.

Every day is a new chance, feel free to change.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reflections on teaching with a broken face

In 2005 I stepped into my first classroom as an official high school English teacher. Having survived the usual trials and tribulations of student teaching, non-invasive background checks, and a lengthy Los Angeles commute (is there any other kind?), I was thrilled to get to teach students in my classroom a la the tradition set for me by Hollywood. I was going to be the next Jaime Escalante or that lady from Freedom Writers. Of course that’s not really how things went down.
My first day was, to say the least, challenging.  I was 22 and had 21 year old students. My first period class had 43 students and I had a few tarnished tables and chairs to seat maybe a dozen kids. There was a hole in my floor that went to who-knows-where. And–oh yeah–I couldn’t move half of my face.
 A day before I started teaching I found out I had Bells Palsy. Basically, the right side of my face was paralyzed. I couldn’t blink (I was a really good winker), raise my eyebrows, or move that side of my mouth. My speech was bordering on lispy/drunken belligerent as a result. When I smiled it looked Frankenstein-like grotesque (look in the mirror and try to smile with only half of your face).

Fortunately, Bells Palsy wore off after about a month and a half. But that first day was one where superficial moves like smiles and normal eye contact were thrown out the window. And yeah, the school I taught at had some dilapidated challenges too: the conditions my students were expected to learning (did I mention the mousetraps behind the bookshelves?) were not only less than ideal but downright unjust.

I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot that first year. I learned that the tremendous love, resilience, and hunger for an equal education can make any space ignite with the possibilities of learning. Engaging with my students and being honest about my weird looking face meant my classroom began with a culture of openness and honesty.

 The worldof education in the United States has a lot of work to do. Nearly a decade after that first day of teaching I’m now helping prepare future teachers for classroom life. It’s a strange shift, sometimes. I build from my experiences looking out an unblinking right eye at a decimated classroom filled with eager students and strive for helping revolutionize the world of education.

Thanks for your time,
Fort Collins, CO

(btw, thanks for reading. As an English education professor now, I usually only get to write fancy schmancy academic articles. If you’re interested in learning more about learning, educational equity, and ways I’ve integrated gameplay into schools check out my blog – TheAmericanCrawl. There also aren’t many Antero’s out there so I’m easily google-able if you would like to email me or tweet me @anterobot)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Feel Like I Should Be Doing the Beauty Queen Wave.

Firstly, thanks for all the great emails from everyone. My favorite email was from someone who was moving and wanted help finding a new place; for some reason it amused me.
Few things about me are I live in Seattle but miss Portland, moved for family. I love ice cream which is not too suprising considering Seattle and Portland are both in the top five for the consumption of it.
Going to be an aunt in April and can't wait to meet a nephew named after Game of Thrones; now I will have to watch the show.
I often feel like nothing important or exciting happens that is worth mentioning but life really is about that perfect cup of coffee or a good moment and not all about the big things.
My best friend Erin and I are making bitters for the first time. Giving it a go but anyone have a great recipe?
Back to the ice cream. As I hate eggs, anyone have an eggless ice cream recipe they would reccomend?
By baby brother introduced me to football and now I love it. A big reason I love the game is how it helped connect me to a brother fourteen years younger than me. This season I'm playing fantasy football and its fun to compete against friends yet after the season I'm going to need my mouth scrubbed out with soap as I like to loudly vent my frustrations.

Thanks, Lita
Seattle, WA

P.S. I hate watching football in October with all the pink on the field. Just wish the NFL would donate money to breast cancer and stop harassing my eyes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


My colleague, Kuan, wants to put a hit on me. The fact that I joined Listserve less than 10 days ago and won the lottery, has gotten his sense of justice out of whack. He feels wronged - Kuan: sorry buddy, you'll have to find a way to get over it.

I was not prepared for this. I have not gathered any life lessons here - I'm still putting together the list that I can hand over to my kids. I will recount however what I would consider the most exhilarating time in my life. Here goes.


I walked up to the gate agent and handed my passport. Could not contain my excitement - when the plane landed in Toronto, I would be entering my new home. I was migrating to Canada from India - a place I'd visited a couple of times but didn't really know much about. I was just turning 21,starting my Master's research at Concordia University in the fall - life was going to get a whole lot more interesting. I was overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety - I'd never spent any time in the western hemisphere and that too alone.

I knew something was not going well when the agent frowned - passed my papers around to a few others - checked the computers, all the while giving me furtive looks. In short, I had stayed out too long and my residency papers had expired, they could not let me go through. All i could hear in my head was a big FUUUuuuuuucccccKKKK! An end to the ride - my pessimist side did the whole "I told you so… it was too good to be true"…. etc. I guess the agents took pity on the look of utter panic on my face. They were going to request London authorities to see if they would grant me 24Hrs in the city, goto the Canadian Embassy and work this out. The walk to the agent was the longest in my life - again I worked the whole sorry face and he allowed me into the country.

The fact that I only had a $100 with 24hrs to face in London complicated matters. Here's how that went. British Airways came through with a hotel, the concierge armed me with 3 maps to get to the Canadian High Commission. $80 left when I got to the embassy, convinced the guy that he had to let me in - double sorry face - paid $60 for a photo and application - came out with $20 in hand.

I had 1 hour to get back and make my flight - I only had a 12 hours permit to enter Canada. The Ritz, Bond Street, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Paddington Station, Piccadilly Circus - my mind was blowing up. Imagine if one day you woke up and were in Harry Potter land and it was real OR a 6 year old in Disney Land. That is how I felt. All the stuff I had read about in Wodehouse, Shelock Holmes, the news - they were all real. Sooo cooool! Every little detail from the sights, to the sounds and the smells from that experience are etched in my mind. Swore I would be back.( I did - ended up living there for a year later in life).

Needless to say I skipped all food and still had $10 when I boarded the flight - one that 24 hrs before I did not think I would ever make. Learnt a few lessons though. If you care to read it is :

1. Don't take NO for an answer. You can always find a way to negotiate.
2. You can make any amount of money work for you.
3. If you want something - put yourself in front of it and carpe diem the heck out of it.
I've kinda lived by these till now.

Thanks if you actually read to the end.

Karthik Ramakrishnan
New York/Toronto

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Let's get complicated

Mechanical timepieces make me happy. I own a couple and even fiddle with some of the mechanisms. I have screwdrivers, tweezers, and a spring bar tool. It's a very rewarding hobby.The primary function of a timepiece is only to display the current time- hours, minutes, and sometimes seconds. Make it easy to use and simple to read. Anything extra is called a complication. For example, a date or a moon-phase indicator may be added to a watch. My favorite complication is the chronograph.

Chronos=time, Graph=writer. King Louis XVIII liked horse racing and commissioned a gizmo to be made that could tell who won and by how much. The contraption that was built drew a line on rotating disks, the shortest line won. This evolved into today's chronograph. A writing on time.

The primary function of a chronograph is to time of an event. Basically, it's a stopwatch- Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Start. Stop. Reset. It's a power-hungry add-on built for specific use-cases, like timing a race or pasta. It draws power from the mainspring, so it has to be lightweight so as not to effect the primary function of telling time. The accuracy requirements can also be very stringent- some chronographs can time an event to 1/10sec, and faster. The time and the chrono should display without conflict. It's a beast built to run in very tight constraints.

I've recently been working on a fairly large project for work; my part is larger than I am accustomed. My little mechanical buddy has been there to keep me focused on the larger project while building out our piece. Next time, we can talk about the GMT function on a watch, I'm going on a trip.

Have a great time today. :)

Robert Reed
Pleasanton California USA Earth

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What are your feelings about work?

I am privileged to work in a profession that allows me to collaborate with some of the most gifted minds on the planet. It might be an engineer who is able to design a system sensitive enough to analyze the surface chemical content of a star 3 billion light years from earth but not quite able to detect the yearning of his spouse for a loving gesture. Or it might be a CEO who has the stamina to relentlessly and passionately pursue company objectives but routinely misses opportunities to encourage, engage, develop and orchestrate the work of his subordinates.

We all come to work every day with a unique assortment of problems and aspirations. Sometimes the problems get in the way of the aspirations. My job, as an EAP counselor, is to help move the problems to the side so the aspirations can flourish. In my work I try to make a difference in the ongoing drama of elation, disappointment, achievement, loss, bravery and stress that occurs at the intersection of work and personal life.

I have been following The Listserve community for quite some time now and I particularly value the extraordinary generational, cultural and geographic diversity found in the posts.

I would like to use my turn to communicate with the group to ask you to help me better understand what I have spent most of my life trying to understand. I try to understand what motivates people to work hard and feel good about their efforts and what discourages people and makes them give up. I try to understand how good bosses bring out the best in people and how bad bosses drive people to despair. I want to know how individuals, right now in 2013, are dealing with the trade-offs and conflicts that are inherent in the pursuit of making a living, finding meaning and achievement in our work, and having a fulfilling personal life.

So here are a few questions:

What has been your experience with bad bosses and wonderful mentors at work?

What motivates you and brings out the best in you at work?

What discourages you most in your job?

What have you experienced and learned about working with others?

What are your strategies for balancing the demands of work with those of your personal life?

I write a blog called I would love to include some of your thoughts on any or all these questions in one of my future posts. Feel free to make up your own question about work (and answer it please).

I would love to hear from you and I promise to let you know if your wisdom and experience get featured in my blog.

Good luck to you all in finding answers to your most important questions.

Mark Sagor
Lexington, MA, USA

Monday, October 21, 2013

What are you listening to?

I haven't updated my music collection in a long time. I just moved to a new city so I've been a bit distracted. I am hoping you can help me...

Send me one (or some) of your favorite musicians/bands, an album that I absolutely must listen to, or a song that you love. It can be anything from indie rock or classical to rap or folk. I want to hear what you are listening to around the country and world. You can also tweet me your music recs @jazzy3thousand. In return, I will email or tweet you something back.

On a final note, check out these two music-related things:

1. Brandnewnoise: voice/music recording boxes that are super-cool and make great gifts.
2. Byrd McDaniel (@JohnnyByrdMcD): an up-and-coming popular music scholar; keep an eye out for his work if you're into that sort of thing.

In the words of Rihanna (or was it Thom Yorke?), "Please don't stop the music, music, music"

Jasmine Martin
Providence, RI

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Be Present. Make It Relevant.

As your thumb hovers about the "delete" button in your email, I ask you to read just a few more sentences of my email.
I want to talk to you briefly about two things.

First, the Chewonki Organization. (Chewonki? What does that even mean? Is that a word? Only one way to find out-- read on!)
Second, systemic racism. Chances are, you haven't been taught about it. Not your fault, just statistics.

So, what is Chewonki? The Chewonki organization is based in southern coastal Maine and has numerous programs to connect people with their place in the natural world. I attended the Chewonki Semester school, meaning I spent 4 months of my junior year living and studying with around 50 students and faculty in Wiscasset, ME. That semester was undoubtedly the most influential time of my life. The close-knit community taught me so much about my place in the world, hard work, my relationship with nature, and who I was. Chewonki has become an integral part of my soul.

Students live in cabins with ~7 other people and tend to their own wood stoves. They help on the campus's farm (alongside the absolutely amazing staff). They take amazing and rigorous classes with the best teachers I've ever had the honor of learning from (coming from two of the most "prestigious" schools in the country). They will meet the most amazing students imaginable from across the country. They will laugh like crazy. And when it's over, they will cry.

I ask you to think about whether you know any young people who could benefit from Chewonki. I'm not trying market them-- I honestly hope that each student can have access to the amazing opportunity that I did. Applications to the program are due in sophomore year. There is financial aid. If someone you think could be interested isn't the right age-- check out their camps. A quick google of "Chewonki" will take you to their site immediately. Even if you don't know anyone, just look at the pictures :)

Second, systemic racism. I hope that after reading the following links you gain some insight into just how present racism is in American society today. It's less blatant than it has been in the past, but its current form of manifestation is much more toxic in my opinion. I believe that if you are in a privileged position, it is your responsibility to educate yourself about the systems affecting oppressed people, so read up on it.

I know you're a lot less likely to read these because I can't include links-- but just do it. Copy and paste the next few lines into Google and read the articles they link to. If you really read them, they will change your life:

1. The Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege by Peggy McIntosh-- good intro to the concept of "privilege" in a non-economic way
2. 28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors (the URL should be from St. Cloud state)-- this is by far my favorite resource
3. The Four Is of Oppression YouthBuild -- this will give you a good understanding of how oppression works and why "reverse racism" doesn't exist.

Thank you to the too-fantastic Julia Dornbusch for showing me the list serve (she also went to Chewonki with me!!). Infinite love to everyone from Semester 48-- you made me who I am.

I'm a college first-year from Boston currently attending Columbia University in New York City. I play rugby. I like anti-racism work and feminism (and the intersection of those two things). I like education reform. Let me know your thoughts.

Miranda Arakelian
New York, NY

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reflections on teaching with a broken face

In 2005 I stepped into my first classroom as an official high school English teacher. Having survived the usual trials and tribulations of student teaching, non-invasive background checks, and a lengthy Los Angeles commute (is there any other kind?), I was thrilled to get to teach students in my classroom a la the tradition set for me by Hollywood. I was going to be the next Jaime Escalante or that lady from Freedom Writers. Of course that’s not really how things went down.

My first day was, to say the least, challenging. I was 22 and had 21 year old students. My first period class had 43 students and I had a few tarnished tables and chairs to seat maybe a dozen kids. There was a hole in my floor that went to who-knows-where. And–oh yeah–I couldn’t move half of my face.

A day before I started teaching I found out I had Bells Palsy. Basically, the right side of my face was paralyzed. I couldn’t blink (I was a really good winker), raise my eyebrows, or move that side of my mouth. My speech was bordering on lispy/drunken belligerent as a result. When I smiled it looked Frankenstein-like grotesque (look in the mirror and try to smile with only half of your face).

Fortunately, Bells Palsy wore off after about a month and a half. But that first day was one where superficial moves like smiles and normal eye contact were thrown out the window. And yeah, the school I taught at had some dilapidated challenges too: the conditions my students were expected to learning (did I mention the mousetraps behind the bookshelves?) were not only less than ideal but downright unjust.

I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot that first year. I learned that the tremendous love, resilience, and hunger for an equal education can make any space ignite with the possibilities of learning. Engaging with my students and being honest about my weird looking face meant my classroom began with a culture of openness and honesty.

The world of education in the United States has a lot of work to do. Nearly a decade after that first day of teaching I’m now helping prepare future teachers for classroom life. It’s a strange shift, sometimes. I build from my experiences looking out an unblinking right eye at a decimated classroom filled with eager students and strive for helping revolutionize the world of education.

Thanks for your time,

Fort Collins, CO

(btw, thanks for reading. As an English education professor now, I usually only get to write fancy schmancy academic articles. If you’re interested in learning more about learning, educational equity, and ways I’ve integrated gameplay into schools check out my blog – TheAmericanCrawl. There also aren’t many Antero’s out there so I’m easily google-able if you would like to email me or tweet me @anterobot)

Friday, October 18, 2013

You do you, boo boo

What's up and welcome,

As every Listserve member out there has, I've toyed with what would I
write, well the time has come and now I'm undeniably overwhelmed. I
think I always knew I wanted to put some piece of advice, not
necessarily assuming everyone would follow, but in the sense that this
piece of advice was most helpful to me and it's my email, so let's do

But, before I get all "self help book" on you, I'll give you a little
background. I'm in my final year of college, and like everyone on
this earth, I'm incredibly busy. Rather than listing my achievements,
and having you gauge just how busy I am, just know that if there was
a way to never sleep thus providing endless time, I'd be the first
person to sign up. Biggest fear right now? I will graduate
unemployed. I'm terrified of not having a job.

Now that I made myself relatable, let's get all advice-y. In no way
am I attempting to convince you of what you should or should not do,
I'm just sayin' these things really stuck with me and have made a
difference. If for no other reason, I'm just sharing my story, feel
free to think "shove it" and not take any of my words seriously...

The best piece of advice I ever received was during a big interview
process I was going through, someone who had gone through it in years
prior came up to me and said "Don't worry about what everyone else is
doing- that's way too exhausting and will get in the way of you doing
your best". It really resonated with me and I try to apply this to my
everyday life.

I think I'm done now, because none of you have time or are
particularly interested in having me send some long email. So with
this, I'll give a quick shout out to Tim S., he's gem and a half and
introduced me to the Listserve. If anyone in life is going to go
extremely far, it's this kid.

Have a great day and remember,

"It doesn't matter if the glass is half full or half empty, there's
water in the cup" (Rudy Francisco)

Later skaters,

San Luis Obispo, CA

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time-travel, Boardgames, Movies & Twitter action!

Not your everyday subject line, I know, but it caught your attention didn't it?

I'm not going to write another lengthy meaning-of-life e-mail (ain't nobody got time for that). Instead, I'll share some little unrelated things that I enjoy and make up most of my life. If you really don't have 5 minutes to spare, I included a "too long; didn't read" at the bottom (but come on, make an effort ;).

(I'm a 27y old web developer from Belgium.)

Time-travel! Oh how I love this stuff. Be it the concept of traveling back and forward in time, discussing the grandfather paradox or simply devouring the internet in search of good books and original ideas. These things can keep me quite busy! Once in a while I jot down a concept or interesting point of view that pops into my head. Maybe I should write a novel about it someday, we'll see. All in due... time.

Boardgames! If you're someone who enjoys boardgames and would like early access to a new website I'm developing (it's still all secretive and hush-hush!): hit me up on Twitter! The project (codenamed 'Boki') is still in it's very early stages and could very well take some years to complete. Nevertheless I can guarantee you will fall in love with it if you're somewhat into board-gaming!

We continue! Boy oh boy what a roller-coaster of an e-mail this is!

Movies! TV-shows! How do I put this? The only thing that takes up more of my time then watching movies is reading about said movies and finding out everything there is to know about them. Checking up on blogs to watch the latest trailers or to read an interview with an actor or actress I like is part of my daily routine. There's almost nothing I like more then watching a movie with friends and afterwards discussing the whole thing for hours on end whilst enjoying a good beer.
Speaking of beer (I did mention I was from Belgium so the beer-talk is mandatory): If you're a beer aficionado you should try and get a hold of my current favorite: Gulden Draak ("Golden Dragon"). It's a strong, dark Belgian beer and there's nothing like it really!
Where was I? Ah yes, movies! Being a compulsive list-maker I even started a spreadsheet with movies and shows I've seen. Complete with dates, keywords and personal score (oh jeez, I know...).
If you want to exchange thoughts about movies or would like to share your favorites, be sure to send me a tweet (@wouterdebr). My personal all-time favorite is without a doubt Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004). Check it out, it sucks you right in!

Bringing us to the last part, for which I will need your help: Twitter action! Since most people enjoy random social interaction I thought it would be a fun idea if you could all grab your cellphones right now, pick a random date between today and say the coming 3 years, and schedule a reminder to send me a tweet (@wouterdebr) or an e-mail. You can write about movies, belgians, time-travel, or things completely unrelated to this e-mail really, the choice is up to you!
I look forward to receiving those messages on the most random of days and will try to reply to all of them!

TL;DR: I'm Wouter, a Belgian guy (yay! beer!) fascinated by time-travel and way into the movies. Tweet me for anything that's slightly related!

Have a nice day!

Wouter De Bruycker
Lede, Belgium

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Millennials, Fight!

Hey the listserve,I'm a semi-recent college grad (2012) who was able to launch his career in this economic slump and dead-end job market very soon after, evading underemployment. I am NOT an expert, but I'd love to share some tips with my millennial brethren in need (although I suspect that the demographic of the listserve includes very bright people who may not need them). However, if any good comes of this, that is my goal.

Brand Yourself:

1) Have a great social media presence. Needless to say, all of your social profiles should be clean and professional. Social networks like Twitter enable communication with high-up industry people that may not otherwise be accessible. Use this as an opportunity to network. I have met many people in real life from Twitter relationships. In fact, my second (current) job was offered to me because of my participation in a "Twitter chat" and the resulting relationships. Do not be afraid to contact people on LinkedIn. It is expected. Connect with everyone you meet as well.

2) Blog! Regardless of your industry, blogging helps to establish authority, showcase writing and thinking ability, shows internet-saviness and much more. I've heard people tell me that they have nothing to say or they don't have the time. Trust me, it will help. Even if you paraphrase industry news or write about your favorite TV show, I believe it's worth it. A free WordPress blog is fine for getting started. You should ultimately buy your own domain. They cost ~$10 a year and are a worthwhile investment. I received this advice through informational interviews I was participated in prior to graduation and feedback from my first position indicated that it impacted my candidacy. Also, Triberr is a good website for bloggers. Get on it!


Paul Shapiro
Montclair, New Jersey

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Amelia's Botnet: Antimetaboles!

1. In rhetoric, the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order.
(from Wikipedia)


"[A]sk not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." ~JFK

For single women in tech, the odds are good, but the goods are odd.

I know what I like, and I like what I know.

"In America you can always find party. In Soviet Russia, Party always find you!" ~Yakov Smirnoff

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!"

Now some riddles:

Q: What's the difference between a jeweler and a jailer?
A: A jeweler sells watches; a jailer watches cells.

Q: What's the difference between an epileptic oyster sheller and a nymphomaniac with the runs?
Email me for the answer to this one, or if you think you've figured it out. I warn you, it's pretty rude.

Book recommendations!

If you want to discuss any of these please reach out to me! If you've read them before, or if you're trying to decide whether to read them, or if you read them through my recommendations, or if you have recommendations for me, I'd love to hear from you!

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick -- Spans the history from man's first records, through Turing and Boole, up to the ubiquitousness of information on the web today, and even touches on quantum physics. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is an awesome historical fiction companion.
Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter -- Recursion for recursion's sake.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan -- Perfect for thinking about our place in the universe as the inhabitants of a little blue dot of a planet.
Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein -- Fun stories, free love ideas, space cowboys.

Similarly for music:

Ys by Joanna Newsom -- Clever and impactful lyrics, meandering epic poetry.
The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit -- Melodic Swedish folk duo. Sisters!
Music for Two by Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer -- Virtuosic jazz banjo and string bass.
The Waiting Room by Lusine -- Beautiful ambient-ish electronic to groove to while working.
Moment Bends by Architecture in Helsinki -- Fun, poppy, dance-y. All of their albums are great.

If you think you might like to hear more music recommendations from me, I'm planning to be DJing on at 4PM (PST) this coming Thursday (and if it's a hit, maybe every Thursday). You can find my room by searching for "meely's tunes."

One thing I really enjoy is making stop motion shorts, usually with clay. If you have a cute idea for one, I can always use the inspiration to make a new one! I will send it to you :) And probably tweet it.

Finally, follow me on Twitter @meelymay!

Amelia Arbisser
San Francisco, CA

P.S. I'm single! 24/F/SF 5'6" 130lb climber/programmer/music-er

Monday, October 14, 2013

I hope you don't delete after the first sentence....

If you are anything like me you will probably delete this email after the first sentence or two. I really do judge your listserve submissions on their headlining first sentence. If you preach at me then DELETE. If you try and tell me something life-affirming then DELETE. I am not being mean spirited I just think most of us don't know what to say when we win this lottery and so we try to be all noble and knowing. Usually it just doesn't work and I quickly become disinterested. I am also way beyond the demographic of the listserve. You all appear to be early 20's with blogs and stuff. I am in my 40's and wouldn't know what a blog is. I also seem to get a lot of emails from Americans. I find Americans to be ever so slightly gullible. Just saying. Great teeth though.

Anyway, he is my stab at a decent listserve:

I work for the emergency services in the UK and so I thought I would share a few 'inappropriate 999' calls with you all:

'my online shopping has not arrived...' Really. I mean how is this a 999 call? Unless you have ordered life saving blood plasma I am hanging up right now.

'there is a cat in the street. It is meowing. It's owner may be hurt....' Oh come on. It's not fucking Lassie.

'there is a dog barking. It's owner may be hurt....' Jesus Christ. The dog may be Lassie but we no longer have wells which people fall down.

'There is a family of ducks crossing the road.....'. Are you seeing a pattern here? We Brits are a nation of animal lovers. We in the emergency services take a sterner view. Mamma duck will have to take her chances.

'I am drunk, can I have a lift home from the police?'. Sod off.

'The horror film on the TV is scaring me...' Kill me now.

'My ex-wife will not let me see the children....' That's because you punched her on the nose. Go see a solicitor Rocky.

'There is a bailiff at the door trying to take my car/house/TV/cat/dog (delete as appropriate)...'. Pay your bills like the rest of us.

'I am homeless because I turned my house into a crack den and the council evicted me. You have to find me somewhere to live...' No I don't.

All of the above really are genuine 999 calls made to the police. The one about the cat meowing was not taken by me - the rest were. By inappropriately using 999 they stop real emergencies from being answered quickly. Enough preaching.

Thank you to the Listserve for providing me with a daily email - some are dull but sometimes there is an absolute cracker waiting for me in my inbox. Feel free to over feedback - if you live by the sword etc...

regards to all, wherever you may be (probably the USA),

Northern England

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dysfunction and Serenity

How would you know if you were dysfunctional - that you had a toxic self image, an inability to have meaningful relationships with others, an obsessive need for control, or some other emotional debility? If you were in denial about your dysfunction, how would you know it?

If you identify with much of the following, called the Laundry List - 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, then you may have learned dysfunctional coping strategies as a child that you carried with you into adult life. These coping mechanisms are the laundry list traits below.

Note that alcoholism is only one of many possible "family diseases" that can create abuse and neglect. Other addictions, mental illness, sexual abuse, extreme religiosity, etc., can also produce adults that identify with the Laundry List.

The Laundry List
We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
We are frightened of angry people and any personal criticism.
We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
We became addicted to excitement.
We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."
We have "stuffed" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Recovery from dysfunction is manifested through self-love, emotional sobriety, and serenity. It literally means to grow up, to go from an adult child to an adult who is a child at heart.

I have been in recovery for nearly five years. My coping strategies were to isolate and daydream, to blend into the background and become invisible, and to extract love from my family by disappearing. Deprived of the attention I desperately craved, I unquestioningly accepted abuse and humiliation as the price of being included and learned to deny the terrible feelings that accompanied them. So naturally my biggest fears have to do with being visible, the center of attention, and appearing in any way different from those around me.

In recovery I have come to love and value myself. I have found the courage to be myself, to hang in there and ride out the bad feelings, and push back if someone crosses a boundary. I increasingly know and accept what drives me. I can deal with uncertainty.

If the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing, google "adult children" and take it from there. Break the cycle!

Love to all,

realized.serenity[AT] (feel free to email with questions, stories, etc.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ciley Myrus

Forget the subject line as it was simply an attention grabber. I'm a 22 year old Caucasian male with a business degree who is currently seeking employment. *Whoopdee-doo but what does it all mean Basil?*

I was raised to believe: go to school, get good grades, go to a good college, and get a good job. I have tried exceptionally hard and succeeded in my life so far except for landing the 'good' job. Hell any job for that matter. If i was born 4-6 years earlier I believe I would have that good job. So, what happened? Well a lot of things. Politics aside, what is the number one thing, in my mind, which has stopped me from getting a job but which I also want a job working with? The Internet. (Email me about this if you want to discuss this)

This is not a sob story as there are way worse things in life. Just a short story from someone, maybe just like you or someone you know, and I am not going to give up without a fight. Us as humans have never stopped and we won't until the Earth blows up (ouch)...hopefully some of us will be on Mars at that point in time. My point is we. never. give. up.

Oh yeah. F the US government shut down. Vote DC Lawnmower Patriot man.

I enjoy listening to rap music to visualize the struggle and how it eventually is overcome. Listen to Juicy J if you get a chance.

Google 'Khan Academy' if you haven't heard of it yet.

My Grandma is 4.5 times my age.

Peace and love. Stay positive. The world keeps on spinning.

I'm out.

South Bend, IN

P.S. "You will never know if you do not ask"

P.P.S. "Kobe Bryant from the Lakers, Now that's paper"

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Plight of an Activist

My name is Scott Helvick, and I want to destroy the world.

... and rebuild it.

Forgive the hyperbole. You see, I've found that people are more likely to pay attention when you shock them a bit. I can't tell you how many times I've had this conversation:

Me: "I want to change the world."
Random Acquaintance: "Oh, that's great! I work with this organization that supports rights for the oppressed people of Fuckedupistan. We're having a rally on Saturday -- you should come!"
Me: "Oof, sounds great, but unfortunately, that's the same day as my rally to support rights for the oppressed people of Evenmorefuckedupistan."
RA: "Oh... well, that's okay. You can just sign this petition and we'll put you on our mailing list!"
Me: "Sure, but you have to promise not to actually send me any mail. I get 78,426 messages a day, and I can't miss out on those penis enlargement opportunities."

Yeah, yeah, I know. Hyperbole. Fortunately, this *exact* conversation hasn't happened, but you get the idea. We all have a finite amount of time and energy, and I believe we have a responsibility to use it in a way that will create the greatest positive impact. For me, that impact doesn't result from attending a rally or signing a petition.

When I say that I want to change the world, I mean it. I'm not talking about saving the whales, or fighting childhood obesity, or protecting workers' rights. Those are simply causes -- important ones, no doubt -- but in the end they're just small pieces of a larger puzzle. I prefer to look at that puzzle holistically.

A premise: Western-style capitalistic society, as it exists in 2013, is directly or indirectly responsible for a significant proportion of humanity's ills.

If you disagree with my premise, or are just waiting to be convinced, I would be happy to have that discussion with you -- just not right now. (And not with 20,000 of you. Oy vey, what am I getting myself into!?) This assumption can't be easily proven in one 600-word e-mail.

If you do agree with my premise, however, then I have a request for you.

It is my belief that capitalism cannot be cleanly "extracted" from human societies without leaving those societies in a (temporary) state of chaos and panic. You remove it, violence ensues, people die, etc, etc. Far from ideal. Instead, what we need is an alternate system to which people can migrate, one by one, until a critical mass is reached which causes capitalism to become quietly irrelevant.

I would like to build this system. I need your help to make it happen. If what I've said resonates with you, e-mail me with the following information:

1. Describe yourself. This is intentionally open-ended; you can say as much or as little as you like.
2. If you were like Bruce in Bruce Almighty (he basically becomes God), what's the first thing you would do?
3. (Optional) Search online for The Venus Project and read/watch to your heart's content. Then tell me your reactions.

What am I going to do with this information? Honestly, I don't know yet; it depends on the number and content of the responses. 20,000 should be a decent sample size to at least get an idea of how the general public reacts to this sort of rhetoric; beyond that, all I have is a bunch of ideas and a burning desire to implement them.

But I promise you this: I'm not going to sit around and watch the world suffer needlessly. I hope you don't, either.

Scott Helvick
Seattle, WA, United States

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I am 24 years old and live in New York. I am interested in Medieval Hebrew manuscripts and early printed Hebrew books, which is a bit of an obscure interest. (It's really fascinating stuff though! Check it out.)

I am trying to figure out my next professional move and have thus been meeting with as many people as possible to get various perspectives. One specific conversation I had was particularly refreshing, so I wanted to share that with you. I was speaking to a PhD student, who told me his particular perspective and then concluded with the following: "You have to talk to everyone, and then talk to no one, and think about what you really want, and trust in God that it will all work out."

This sentence struck me for a few reasons. First, I often have trouble making decisions, so it was probably a good thing for me to hear that while other people's advice is important, it ultimately comes down to me. Second, I think it is sometimes important to realize that as much as you plan, some things are beyond your control, and everything will not happen exactly as you had envisioned. That's obviously not to say that you shouldn't try. But still, it's probably a healthy thing to keep in mind. Third, I thought it was cool that he mentioned God. I grew up in a religious environment, so that is certainly not a foreign concept to me. But even so, I have found that few people actually talk about God. There is plenty of talk about religion itself, about community, about values, but somehow God sometimes gets lost in all of that. So I was kind of impressed that he threw that in - we had never met before, and he did not know me or my religious leanings, but he still felt comfortable enough to invite God into the conversation. Made me stop and think for a minute, which is certainly something I don't do often enough.

What has made you stop and think? Something that happened, something that someone said? Definitely doesn't have to be on the topic of religion. Or, on an unrelated and lighter note, anyone have any fun/crazy/creative date ideas?

Tali Arbit
New York, NY

P.S. Two shoutouts to previous Listserve winners - 1. my brother, who actually won like 3 months ago, and 2. Anonymous, from August 5th, whose entire message was "Be kind." That was awesome.
And a final shoutout to Jon, for making me so happy.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

F*@& Cancer

As I write this email, there is a battle waging in Texas that has far reaching implications. The State Board of Education is deciding how to deal with evolution in their science text books. Why do you care, especially if you don't live in Texas? Well, Texas is a big market for text books. A text book that can't be sold in Texas is not going to make money, so publishers write books that comply with Texas' guidelines, and then sell those textbooks nationwide.

What are they trying to decide? If evolution should be challenged in text books. I am all for rigorous scientific study. I am an engineer and I graduated from one of the top science institutes in the US. I am all for teaching students critical thought, we do not do enough of that. But Texas is trying to hold up creationism (or intelligent design) as a viable alternative to evolution. In the context of a science class, this is laughable. If you want to discuss intelligent design, it should be discussed up as an easily disproved and non-scientific argument against evolution. Teach that element of critical thought. Using concepts like irreducible complexity or pouncing on slight anomalies in the fossil record is not enough to throw out evolution; a "theory," that can and has been tested rigorously, and can be used to make accurate and correct predictions about the natural world.

Believe what you want to believe as a matter of faith. But don't pretend that that faith belongs in a science class. I am not anti religion, though I am an atheist (and a Pastafarian [look it up]). I believe that religion was instrumental in allowing larger societies to form, to evolve if you will, and helped to make us the dominant species. Religion has inspired art and literature, and has inspired thinkers as far back as there was religion. It has even been a friend and patron of the sciences throughout history, and it can still be that friend. Religion should be taught in history and philosophy classes. It belongs there, not in a science curriculum.

If you live in Texas, please let the Board of Education know that you do not support the dismantling of science standards in order to shoehorn in the beliefs and superstitions of a nomadic people written 1,000s of year ago. If you do not live in Texas, and this does enter into the text books, fight against the adoption in your state of any book that gives equal footing to intelligent design.

As for who I am, I am a 46 year old male who has lived his entire life in Southern California. I ski, mountain and road bike, rock climb and play ping pong and golf (poorly). I read (not as much as I should) and have pretty much stopped watching TV, mainly because I don't have time for it anymore. I am married with a daughter in high school, I am a California-registered Professional Engineer, and I work as an environmental consultant, remediating industrial sites. I am also two year removed from a battle with head and neck cancer due to HPV that I never knew I contracted. Thankfully, this cancer responds well to treatment, but treatment for head and neck cancer sucks on a level that is hard to describe. So I urge all of you to vaccinate yourself and your kids against this disease.

If you have interest in contacting me about what I have written here, or about any other issue, please email me at MSHListserve[AT]

Matt H.
Southern California (Orange County)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boy am I lucky

Exactly two weeks passed between when I signed up for The Listserv and when I won the lottery. I know, right? So a) thanks to my friend Matty for recommending, and b) my apologies to long timers, especially those hoping you'll win because you have a perfect thing to share. I look forward to reading your perfect thing. But for now you get to read my imperfect thing, because I'm the lucky one.

I'm not being flippant. I really am the lucky one, always have been. Ask my family or close friends. I have an undeniable thing where I have preposterously good luck. This isn't new age-y bullshit. I'm a man of science and empirical data...this is fact. I take no credit for it and I wish I could harness it (for use in, say, a lottery that awarded cash). But I can't. But it's definitely a thing. So I choose to share the thing that makes me the luckiest.

The thing that makes me the luckiest is my parents. Clarification: I'm not holding them up as perfect people. They're sure not. But, after significant reflection, I feel justified holding them up as perfect parents. It feels worthy of sharing because good parenting is in woefully short supply these days. I'm not a parent, but I was parented, and I look back and see that my parents rocked it. I not only adore them, but I also still seek their advice when faced with important decisions. That's successful parenting. I am grateful to this project for giving me a chance to pass along some of their wisdom, which has benefited me so greatly.

"Make good decisions." My parents weren't big on forbidding things. But they made it clear as we got older that being an adult is a series of decisions, and all good things come as a result of making the right choices and learning from the consequences of the bad choices. So as we left to go out for the night, it wasn't do this or don't do that. All they said was, "Make good choices." It made me feel responsible and in control, like I had something to live up to, like they believed that I could.

"If you want to make friends, you've gotta be friendly." So many school, new neighborhood, new job, where it's easy to fall into the trap of expecting people to come to you, resenting them for not. But that's not how life works. You are the new guy, the burden is on you. Get out there, be friendly. People will respond.

"If you see someone else's nose running, go blow your own." A classic Irish-Catholic-parentism if ever there was one. This was from my Mom's mom, her antidote for tattle-tales. But it applies far beyond childhood. If you're paying attention, you can learn a lot from your mistakes, and far, far more from the mistakes of people around you.

"Never agree to a deal unless you understand why the other guy likes it." This is Dad, the businessman. It's easy to get wrapped up in what you want out of a deal, but if you don't want to get taken, you have to put yourself in the other guy's shoes.

"90% of life is just showing up." The older I get, the truer this feels. Nothing counts more than being there for the people you care about. In the best and worst times, you don't have to know what to say, or what to wear, or what to bring. Just show up and take it from there.

Owen D. Murphy
Chicago, IL

Monday, October 7, 2013


Look up at the sky and find a cloud. Reply back with whatever you saw in that cloud.

And to the 67 Listserve subscribers who have a birthday today: Happy birthday. My present to you is a short email.

Dylan Mason
Calgary, Canada

Sunday, October 6, 2013

some things I read recently

A random selection:Never despise a drink because it is easy to make and/or uses commercial mixes. Unquestioning devotion to authenticity is, in any department of life, a mark of the na├»ve—or worse.

the great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas

Where men build on false grounds, the more they build, the greater is the ruin

What is the opposite of faith? Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself a kind of belief. Doubt.

Names in common use quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit.

In our age it is not sex that raises its ugly head, but love

The best composition and temperature, is to have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit; dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign, if there be no remedy.

People believe that imperialism explains European riches. Or that markets and greed arrived recently. Or that "capitalism" required a new class or a new self-consciousness about one's class (as against a new rhetoric about what an old class did). Or that economic events must be explained "ultimately," and every single time, by material interests. Or that it was trade unions and government protections that have elevated the working class. None of these is correct.

the philistine is not he who does not care to discriminate between the good and the bad, but he who discriminates and chooses the bad.

A dog lives as long as its teeth

The fall of Empire is…dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop

To possess another language is to possess another soul

A sinner does evil not because he cannot do all things that he will but becaus he will not do all things that he can…ffor evil is folly & is always avoided by a perfect understanding.

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world.

Englishmen, given a choice, would always prefer the faintly ridiculous over the painfully direct.


What is unforgivable? What if not the shivering nakedness of being wholly known to a person one does not trust?

The world is the place we prove real by dying in it.

There are five reasons we should drink; Good wine—a friend—or being dry— Or lest we should be by and by— Or any other reason why.

there is a freemasonry among those who live in large cities on small earnings.

Musical comedy is the Irish stew of the drama. Anything may be put into it, with the certainty that it will improve the general effect.

Only those who are capable of silliness can be called truly intelligent.

That art is prima facie and in itself a good cannot be doubted. It is a spontaneous activity, and that settles the question.

He’d told her she was his fate. Who wants to be somebody’s fate?

This is mortality: to move along a rectilinear line in a universe where everything, if it moves at all, moves in a cyclical order.

it is always the same thing that makes happiness happiness: the ability to forget

a pogo stick tester in a minefield

I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope—an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all.

Chicago, IL

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"What Comes From the Heart Goes to the Heart"- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Today I hope you breathe a little deeper. You stand a little taller and laugh a little louder; you smile at a stranger and hug a little tighter. I hope you hear your favorite song, your bread rises perfectly, and just-the-right words appear on your tongue. I hope a crisp breeze cools your brow this noon and a snug blanket warms you tonight. I pray that love envelops your life and you find the strength to discover yourself. No matter how high the mountain or how deep the ravine, I am in your corner and on your team. I am here and I care. We exist as a world together to defend, not defeat. And most importantly, to love one another.

P.S. A special thank you to my dear friends and family, without whom this life would be quite dull: MF, HF, DF, LF, KB, ZH, CEBH, LP, JL, HT, DK, AP, RP, AC, LP, EL, ND, MS, LM, ZP, SP, FA and so many more.

"Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way." --Native American Saying

A. Fern
Denver, Colorado

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dear Friends

I admire a person who is passionate about something. Whether it is their work, hobby, craft, or other subject of expertise. I am constantly teaching myself new things, and I feel like I don't have one passion that I can really say defines who I am. I'm afraid in the end, I'll be decent or good at many things, but not amazing at any one thing. I love the learning process, and I wish I could get to the point where I could "wow" someone with what I can do.

I'm a 25 year old mechanical engineer by trade, but outside of work, I'm a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, programmer, designer, gamer, adventurer.

When I was younger I always wished I had a pen pal that lived on the other side of the world. I've always wanted to get to know other people who live differently and with an open mind, coming from all different kinds of backgrounds and have all sorts of interests. I'd love to hear about what you do, your passions, how you live, whether or not we share similar tastes and interests. Please feel free send me an email. I'd love to make your acquaintance, and maybe even become friends. I apologize if I don't get back to you right away. I have no idea how many of the Listserve may be interested, if any.

Though extremely tempting, I don't want to plug any of my own projects, blogs, or music, but I do want to mention my fiancee's passion. She is a ceramic artist who creates beautiful sculptural wall tile installations. You can see her work at sarahheitmeyerceramics dot com. Because of storage reasons, she's trying to focus on smaller work, but would love to create a larger scale piece for a business or public building that's looking for something different to fill a space. Even if you aren't interested in buying any work, if you let her know you enjoy her work, I think it would mean a lot to her.

And finally, a shout out to master improv comedian Matt Sears who introduced me to the Listserve. If you're into video games, you'll likely enjoy his web comics (search "seitbeit").

Looking forward to meeting you!

Take care,

Trevor Larch
Alfred, NY

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Crazy ideas

I love Legos. Always have, always will.

Back when I was younger, I could build anything with Legos. If I could dream it up, the parts I needed were somewhere in that never-ending bin of childhood glee. Despite being nothing more than a few pennies of plastic, these magic bricks synergistically assembled into futuristic spaceships, mechanized armies, towering skyscrapers and much more.

Sadly, I grew older. Reality began to encroach on my well-laid plans for conquest of the universe. My insatiable desire to create never left, and I turned to programming. In fact, these new constraints added to the challenge, and I enjoyed creating all the more for it. The best part this time was that it was so wonderfully real - I could run my program, watch all the parts come together and do something.

The funny thing about all of this is that the desire to build, while strong, was not the root of my creative drive. The ideas are what truly propel me. I've always had crazy ideas. Some are outside the boundaries of reality, but most are on the edge of just-might-work-if-the-planets-align possibility.

I've been working on one. And the planets have aligned - I've won the Listerv Lottery.

You see, while I'm currently a programmer at a San Francisco startup, I'm a transplant. I hail from the wilds of beautiful upstate New York.

Somehow, Silicon Valley ended up in San Francisco, which is horribly expensive. I think that this hurts long-term innovation - ideas that require a lot of time to mature are discarded in favor of get-rich-quick startups that don't really benefit humanity. Worse still, founders of companies bail during inevitable hard times as the point where the money runs out quickly approaches.

Since it's not quite feasible to ask landlords to charge less, I've been looking around for alternate solutions and found one in Rochester, NY. Ever since the collapse of Kodak, housing prices have been falling. One can buy a decent 3 bedroom 1 bath house for $26,000. (That's not the down payment, that's the whole thing!)

So here's the idea: Buy several Rochester houses and bring in entrepreneurs with crazy ideas of their own to work out of them. Every dollar goes further, so ideas that take time to mature are more viable. This isn't intended to replace San Francisco, but to help entrepreneurs get up to speed before moving on*.

I have always wanted to build things. As I've grown, so too have my aspirations. While I lack the capacity to embark on this adventure (financially), perhaps some of you readers may be able to help? If you're interested, I’d love to hear from you.

If you interested in starting a company like the ones I’ve been describing (or just getting into programming) shoot me an email. I (and the rest of Techendo) can help point you in the right direction.

* Technical readers will notice that this is essentially a startup accelerator. You're right, Paul Graham and YCombinator have been a big influence on me. This one will focus on low-burn bootstrapping.

Randall Koutnik
San Francisco

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Apple pie for autumn

life is a bit hectic right now, but here is my grandma's apple pie recipe. It is the only apple pie that I will eat. She is the kind of person who would, for the dough, say "mix it and then add water or flour until it feels right," so it was tricky turning that into a recipe, but these are the instructions that i follow when making it. (i usually make a double batch) Good luck :)

For one "medium" sized apple pie.

-1 cup shortening
-2 chips flour
-5 jhonnagold apples (other cooking apples will work but jhonnagold is my preferred apple)
-sugar and cinnamon
-a dribble of milk or half and half

Preheat oven to 350.

-Mix 1 cup shortening, 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cold water, put in fridge
-getting a perfect consistency takes some practice, but it isn't as absolutely vital as some would make it sound. it should have a very slight shine to it, but not be very sticky. Add more flour if it is sticky, more water if it's not shiny.

-skin and slice/chop up apples
-size of chunks of apple is a matter of preference, i make mine fairly small

-sprinkle some sugar on the apples in a mixing bowl (specific amount is not vital, i promise)
-sprinkle some cinnamon and then "accidentally" open the spoon side instead of the sprinkle side and dump "way too much" cinnamon on them (I've never had too much cinnamon, but i keep trying)

Putting it together:
- take half of the dough and roll it out and put it in the bottom of a pie pan
-dump in apples. There should bee a heaping pile of them.
-moisten the outer edge of the crust to get the top crust to stick to it.
-roll out the other half and lay over the top, sticking the edges of crust together.
-dribble some milk or half and half over the top and sprinkle some sugar on it to help it brown.
-cut a fun pattern in the top to let air out (small details well be lost when it cooks)
-cook for around an hour. Juice from the apples should be bubbling, crust should be golden.
-cool, serve

David Garrison
Bellingham, Washington, U.S.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ponies and jokes

To start, here’s a joke:

A ricecake and a crab are on a beach. A person says “What a cute rice cake! What an ugly crab!” The crab says nothing. A second person says “What a cute rice cake! What an ugly crab!” The crab is upset. He swears he will throw the rice cake in the ocean if another person says that. A third person says “What a cute crab! What an ugly rice cake!” The crab throws the rice cake into the ocean.

Anyway, when I was nine, I entered and won an essay contest that changed my life forever. The prize was a pony - a real, breathing, 7-month-old pony. I could write a novel about training him, learning to ride, and the ups and downs that we faced, but that wouldn’t adequately describe just how much winning this pony changed me (in many ways unrelated to horses). Instead, here are a few brief snapshots of my most memorable times with Sugar (my pony):

- He had a yoga ball that he loved to play with in the arena. He would push it around with his nose and chase after it in endless circles. However, he started trying to jump on the ball so we took it away from him, fearing that it would pop in his face.

- I tried to teach him to bow. After many hours and multiple bags of carrots, we reached a mutual agreement that bowing is just not his thing.

- We were jumping once, and instead of landing on the other side of the fence, we landed on top of it. The pole snapped in half and I fell off, right in front of Sugar's path. Thankfully he managed to scramble to his feet in time to leap over me, though he still clipped me in the head with his hoof. I still have a piece of the jump from that day.

- Sugar can be a brat sometimes. He knows that his name is Sugar, and he knows to come when I whistle. However, occasionally when I try to call him in from the field, he'll just look up at me, think for a few seconds, then turn and trot off in the opposite direction. I can just imagine him laughing at me as he trots away.

- I love to ride him bareback. There's this wonderful sense of freedom in just being able to ride around without a saddle at full speed, a sense of joy that's unlike anything else. I keep Sugar at a barn near the ocean, and on particularly windy days galloping around the arena feels like flying.

Because the first joke wasn’t that great, here’s another one:

A high school couple is saying goodbye on a beach. They’re going to separate colleges, but they promise to meet back in 4 years, at the same beach, at the same time. They exchange promise rings and leave. Four years pass. The girl arrives back on the beach, same place, same time, and waits for her love. He never shows up. She rips off her ring, throws it in the water, and leaves. However, a few miles down the beach is the boy. He had forgotten the correct place. The girl doesn’t show up, but he decides to wait a while. He pulls out his fishing pole and casts the line. He suddenly feels a tug at the end and, thinking it’s a fish, quickly reels it up. He spins and spins, until it finally breaks the water. He pulls it up and sees...

the rice cake.

Hailey R.
Providence, RI
Ponies and jokes