Friday, January 31, 2014

Break a Rule

When I left to go back to school for my senior year of college last August, my mom's sage advice was: "Break a rule." Plain and simple. I laughed and told her she was ridiculous - but when I thought about it a little bit, she had a good point.

I've always been a rule follower. My mom likes to remind me of when I was little and at a friend's birthday party, the friend's mom had given the partygoers little goody bags to bring into the movie theater instead of paying for popcorn. I was the worst child in the world and started shouting in the lobby of the theater that we're not allowed to bring in outside snacks. Oops.

Most recently, my family and I got flu shots at Walgreens and the pharmacist told us we had to wait 10 minutes after the shots before leaving. As my parents stood up to leave, I reminded them that we had to stay for 10 minutes like the lady said. I got weird stares from my parents, which was my cue that I was being a stickler for the rules again.

So yeah - I don't break rules. I'm not usually aware of when I'm doing my rule-following and should probably have someone with a little buzzer following me around reminding me to live a little.

So, good people of the Listserve, I tell you this because 1. having 25,000+ people aware of my lame-ness will hopefully inspire me to do something about it and 2. I want you to think about when you play by the rules instead of just living your life like you want to. Or... maybe it's just me.

On an unrelated note, I'm graduating college in May and would love to chat with you about entry-level jobs you may be aware of in the communications field in New York City. I promise that, despite this long email telling you that I'm lame, I'm actually a fun person. I promise.

Washington, DC

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What are you excited about today?

Hi Listserve friends,

What are you excited about today?

That question wasn't rhetorical. I'd really love to hear your answers.

Asking myself that question often leads to a little energy boost, a moment of gratitude, or a conversation. I'd like to learn from the thoughts it sparks for you.

If you decide to share with me (and I hope you do), maybe I'll combine all the answers and do something with them. Maybe I won't. But I have no doubt that I'll be inspired.

Thanks for opening this email! And thanks for all the stories you've written and read in this community. Thanks for believing we can learn from anyone.

Have a great day!

Aude Broos
New York, NY

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Boring is Dumb

Sometimes I think I'm not a very interesting person. But that's stupid because everyone's life is interesting and exotic to someone in another part of the world or a very different walk of life. If you think you're boring, try getting out of your head and try talking to someone who isn't you.

I'm a 28-year-old lady and I drive to work every day. I work for an online retail company, where I sit at a computer gossiping with my old lady coworkers and listening to music and downing coffee. I've written a minimum of 750 words every day for over 500 days straight. I used to be religious but left my religion and am still navigating family waters about it. I live alone but spend a lot of time with my fella. No kids, no desire for kids. No desire for marriage, necessarily. Someday I'd like to own a dog again. The thing I love most about where I live is the mountains I get to see every day. I care about grammar a stupid amount.

These are things about me. Now you do it. Email me back and give me a summary of what your life is like, no matter who you are, no matter what part of the world you live in. Even if your life is "boring." I promise to think you're interesting.

(Hi, Jimmy. I hope you see this)

Salt Lake City

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From the Listserve team

From The Listserve team:

Sorry for this disruption in regularly scheduled Listserving, but we need your help.

Every Listserve winner receives a message telling them they've won. It outlines the guidelines and some tips to writing a good email. But we wrote that email before we even had 100 people on the list — and we want to mix things up. So it's time to re-write it.

This is where you come in.

Go to and give us a suggestion you want us to pass along to future winners. We'll rotate in your tips in various winner emails.

Buy a bulldozer,

The Listserve team

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rational Numbers and the Square Root of 2

I am a mathematician. Please allow me to share with some mathematics which I have found to be both enduringly fascinating and very accessible: I present a discussion on rational numbers and the square root of 2.

Rational numbers---or just rationals---are the result of dividing one integer by another. Examples are 1/2, -1/5, and 23/11; perhaps less obvious examples are 1, 2, and 3, as you can always write 1 = 1/1, 2 = 2/1, and 3 = 3/1. Essentially, rationals are all the numbers that can be written as a fraction.

Generally, we write rationals in reduced or simplest form. 2/4, for example, can be simplified by dividing the top and bottom of the fraction by 2; thus 2/4 = 1/2. Notice that in reduced form, the top and bottom numbers cannot both be even. If they were, just as in the example of 2/4, you could cancel out the common factor of 2 to find a more-reduced form.

Any rational can always be written in reduced form. Rationals have a pleasing property: any basic arithmetic operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division) on two rationals always yields another rational. But is there any operation which might give a different kind of number?

Consider multiplying a rational by itself, or squaring. 2 squared is 4. We might reverse this statement and ask the following: what number squared equals 4? This question defines the square root; the square root of 4 is 2. But what about the square root of 2 itself? Is there any rational which is the square root of 2?

Now we reach the heart of the matter. In fact, no rational could be the square root of 2. To see why, we consider what would happen if it were.

What if the square root of 2 were rational? Then there must be two integers---let's call them p and q---such that "the square root of 2 = the reduced fraction p/q". Equivalently, we can say that "q times the square root of 2 = p". If we square this statement, we say that "q squared times 2 equals p squared".

From this last statement, we note something interesting: p squared must be even. Actually---as an odd number squared is odd---p itself must be even. What does this imply about q? If p is even, then p must equal 2 times something; let's say that "p = 2 times n". Then our statement "q squared times 2 = p squared" can also be written as "q squared times 2 = 4 times n squared". If we divide this equation by 2, we may state that "q squared = 2 times n squared". This statement is familiar. Just as above, we infer that q squared, and thus q, is even.

But now we have found something quite troubling: if the square root of 2 were rational and equaled p/q, then both p and q must be even. If both p and q are even, however, then p/q cannot be a reduced fraction. Since every rational can be written as a reduced fraction, the square root of 2 cannot be a rational number.

Of course, we might wonder what sort of number the square root of 2 is, if it is not rational. This question leads to the irrational numbers. Other questions that could be asked lead to other sorts of numbers such as imaginary numbers, transcendental numbers, quaternions, and the list goes on. This, to me, encapsulates the enduring fascination of mathematics: good questions are always rewarded.

Austin Amaya, PhD
Reston, Virginia, USA

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nice Email Thread: But can we work together to help people that need access to healthy food?

I am a big believer in the idea that we can do far more good working together than working alone. It is why I joined TheListserve and have been inspired by the voices that come across in most the emails. People want to connect. The Listserve is a prime example of this driving force in who we are.

It is also why for the bulk of my life, I’ve been dedicated to finding ways to connect people, including bringing movements of people together to create change. Today, I am the lucky random name, able to send you a message as part of the listserve experiment and I want to see if we can do something together.

One of the most impactful projects I’ve worked on is, an online network of about 3,500 advocacy leaders and more than 300,000 grassroots supporters who are dedicated to taking action to reverse childhood obesity.
And right now, is running an advocacy campaign I’m really passionate about. I am curious to see if thelistserve readers want even more ways to work together.

Somewhere between 25 and 30 million Americans cannot access healthy, affordable food within a reasonable distance of their home. You might have heard of these communities referred to as “food deserts,” since it is nearly impossible for residents to find nutritious food there. Some advocates like to call them “food swamps,” as that phrase reflects the high number of fast food establishments and corner markets selling unhealthy processed goods in these communities.

Whatever your preferred term is, the lack of healthy food access in these neighborhoods is one of the things driving our country’s obesity epidemic. More than two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese, which is negatively impacting their health and contributing to rising healthcare costs.

Research shows you are WHERE you eat, and the neighborhood you live in can have a profound impact on your food choices. Simply put, how can we expect families to eat healthy food if they can’t even buy that food in their own neighborhood?

Unfortunately, research also shows that a whole lot of people are not aware of this problem. It’s a tough one to grasp, especially for people like myself who are fortunate to be surrounded by grocery stores and other healthy retail options where I live.

That’s why recently launched the Healthy Food Access Quiz. It’s designed to spread the word about the importance of healthy, affordable food access in America, showcase some of the negative things that happen when people live in food deserts and outline a handful of solutions to this complicated problem.

For example, do you know how many Americans do not own a vehicle and live more than one mile from a supermarket? Or how low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and rural areas are more likely to be able to access healthy, affordable food? Or how many jobs are created when a large food retailer like a grocery store opens in a food desert?

I encourage you to take the Healthy Food Access Quiz and put your knowledge to the test. (You can find it on the blog on the homepage.) Please also share the quiz with your friends, family and colleagues!

Increasing healthy food access to all Americans isn’t the only thing we must do to reverse obesity and build a healthier country. But it is a good starting point. If we can ensure all Americans can find healthy, affordable food near their home, we can focus our attention on the other problems driving the epidemic.

Marty Kearns
Washington DC

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Surprised winner

Like many others who have gone before me, I was surprised to win the Listserve Lottery, and then puzzled and baffled. What would I write about that anyone would want to hear? I'm not a big fan of "rules to live by" or "what I've learned" kind of stories.

I am quite a bit older than many of you. I am sometimes technically-challenged when it comes modern devices, although I love my tablet and would give up my TV in a heartbeat rather than my computer. What interests me? I love books and music, and I live surrounded by them. Every room in my house has a book-case and they're all full. Regular culling, although painful, is a necessity. Although I own an E-reader, I just cannot adjust to using it. The feel, look and heft of a book means so much to me. If I go into someone's house and there are no books lying around, it feels sterile and empty. I couldn't imagine living there. I am always accepting recommendations for the next book.

The same goes for music. I have an MP3 player, and like the convenience, but to my mind one of the joys of opening up a new CD is the liner notes, the list of credits, the photos. I'm a music geek, as interested in the back-up musicians and producers as I am in the artist. I own hundreds of CDs that cover every genre from country music to classical, and look forward to my daily notices from Amazon about what's happening this week. When a new album comes out, I love to find the hidden gem that might otherwise never reach my ears. I thank the CBC every day for introducing me to new artists.

That's about all I can offer you in 600 words. There is one rule I would offer, in spite of what I said in my first paragraph: Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, it almost assuredly is. This is much truer than its opposite. If something feels right, it isn't necessarily so. Think twice.

Joanne Seright
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Want To Make Your Portrait

Greetings from Sagada, Philippines. Figures that I'd get my turn (and 48-hour reply window) while on a four-day sojourn.

Hi, I'm Mike. I take pictures. Right now I live in New York, but that's going to change later this year, when I begin what will basically be a very long word tour. Along the way, I want to make your portrait.

You don't even need to put me up (though it would be totally rad if you did) or anything. Just email me to let me know you're interested and if-slash-when I find myself in your neck of the woods I'll drop you a line.

For the sake of sanity I'm going to cap the list to the first 100 responses, though I'll keep everyone's names in case I'm able to open up to more later on. If you'd like to see samples of my work, just visit the domain on my email address (that doesn't count as sharing a link, does it?)

Looking forward to meeting all of you!

FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a long-view project. I don't expect to start my trek until much later this year, and even then it'll first be six months in the Philippines and a one year US road trip before I start moving on to other areas. I'll try to squeeze in random visits here and there, but realistically it could be years before I get to you (much like the listserv!). Also as such, be sure to give me an email address you'll still be using in a couple years. Better safe than sorry.

Mike Ricca
Sagada, Philippines

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hey look it's my turn. Yikes.

Hey everybody!

I don't really have any advice for you (I can almost hear a thousand sighs of relief) so I'll share a story instead.

When I was 26, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and it was bad. Tumours everywhere – seriously everywhere. I was admitted to University College Hospital in London for which I am forever grateful. The medical staff were all amazing and knowledgeable and kind and thoughtful. If you ever get a blood disease, I would totally recommend UCH. I'd rate it on Tripadvisor but there's no section for near death experiences.

But long story short(ish) – chemo started immediately which started to shrink my tumours including the one in my heart. Which was now hanging on by a thread. To minimise the risk of it detaching, my cardiologist (who had the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen) decided that heart surgery was the answer. Not exactly the news I was hoping for but if you have to hear that your chest is going to be sliced open, you might as well hear it from a man with inch long eyelashes.

But I digress. So, in the surgery, something went wrong and they couldn't put me on bypass. My surgeon was a bit of a maverick who wasn’t going to be stopped by something as silly as the circulation of oxygen (?!?!) so he decided it would be a great idea to stop my heart, pack my head with ice to preserve my brain cells and take the tumour out as quickly as possible.

Which meant that I WAS DEAD. For around 45 minutes. Now, I know you're all wondering if I saw a light ... but to be honest, I don't remember. It was dark. I was heavily sedated. But I don't think that River Phoenix was there to greet me with a tequila slammer and a basket of kittens. What? You have your version of heaven and I have mine.

Kind of anti-climatic ending to that story isn't it? (you only get 600 words on here, kids) But the upshot is, the surgery & 6 months of chemo & a stem cell transplant worked! I've recovered (11 years clear this year) and I've learned...

1) I‘m so lucky to live in a country where I didn’t have to pay for excellent & comprehensive health care. If I had had to pay for even a fraction of what my treatment cost, I would be destitute. So thanks NHS - and leave it alone you stupid Tory government.
2) Always get a second opinion. I must have had cancer for over a year before I was finally diagnosed at stage 4. I went to my GP who convinced me that the lumps in my neck & my back were nothing serious & I should take antibiotics. I trusted her. I shouldn't have. If you think something is wrong & your doctor thinks you're making too big a deal out of it, get a new doctor.
3) My friends saved me. Without them & their non-stop love and devotion, I’m almost positive I wouldn’t have made it. They are the greatest.
4) Be nice to your nurses. Try not to barf on them. They hate that.
5) Even in the bleakest times, try to find something to laugh about because it helps get through the day and your immune system really likes the endorphins from a good old belly laugh.

Oops – looks like I’ve managed to slip in a bit of advice in anyway. Sorry. Thanks for reading and don’t forget that if you find a lump somewhere, GO GET IT CHECKED OUT IMMEDIATELY YOU NERDS!

Laurie Schmidt
London, UK

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


When I opened the email that said it was my turn, I spent 30 seconds thinking that whoever won the Listserve lottery had copied the instructional email they received and sent it out to the whole Listserve. I thought it was so clever!

I’m a 24-year-old in my first year of law school at the University of Michigan and I love it. I know that ‘love’ is not the most common feeling about law school, but I have no shame. Shout-out to MNOP! If you Google “Michigan Law Reading Room” you can see pictures of Hogwarts. This is where I spend the majority of my time (and where I was when I wrote this email).

Some facts about me:
- The “interests” section of my resume reads: darts, volleyball, lobster rolls.
- I’ve lived in MD, NY, CO, MO, DC and MI.
- I’m usually attached to a book (or Kindle). The book that got me into sci-fi a couple of years ago was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
- I watch all 10 seasons of Friends on constant rotation.I would especially love to hear from you if:
- You attend(ed) Michigan Law or my undergrad alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis.
- You’re a lawyer.
- We’re sisters – LML!
- We know each other in any capacity, especially if it’s been a while since we spoke. If you recognize my name, give me a shout.
If anything I wrote here struck a chord with you at all, please distract me from my Contracts reading!

I also told my friend I would crowdsource weird baby names for her. I’m sure she thought I was kidding. Feel free to pick from Jezebel’s predictions for Most Extraordinary Baby Names of 2014 or suggest something new.


To conclude, here is my favorite poem by e. e. cummings.

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Sophie Wolman
Ann Arbor, MI

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Life as I know it

Hi there. Every day I read the listserve and I ponder what it is I would say. And here I am, still wondering. I’m 42, I have 3 sons 21, 19, and 17. I live with my love and my two cats in a home we just bought in Oregon City. We just moved in November and then December 20 I got the flu and haven’t fully bounced back yet, so I feel like our new life, the one starting with buying a home, has not quite started yet.

A little about me. In my life I’ve been a photographer, a grief coach, an empowerment coach, I’m a published author (my first fiction will be out in 2014 and I’m so excited!). I’ve published guided journals, a photography book, and a book of poetry so far. I can honestly say though, that this novel has been my life’s work and that writing a novel is like walking up a very tall mountain. It’s hard, it’s challenging, and you ponder giving up more than once.

I currently am the Social Media director for an SEO company but am working on moving into freelance social media. I just don’t feel like it’s best for me to work for “the man” you know?

So, what words of wisdom could I possibly have? I have a few core beliefs. I believe that at any point, any of us could pass the point of no return. Like Susan Smith when she sent her car into that lake with her children on it. Who’s to say that couldn’t have been one of us snapping? I try to think compassionately towards people who pass that point of no return. Look what they have to live with for the rest of their lives. I can’t fathom their pain, and I don’t feel a right to judge or add to it. My personal perspective, and perhaps yours differs. Another of my beliefs is that this world is big enough for all of our views on things.

I can be sarcastic, and a bit snarky, but I don’t ever set out to hurt others. In fact, I don’t understand when others shoot their venom on others. I know a few people who do this and I always retreat, I just have no understanding of the desire to hurt others.

Goals for the year are on my mind. I no longer do resolutions, but I do pick a word of the year to state my intent and this year that word is Community. I’ve been a bit reclusive in the past but it’s time for me to participate. Time for me to join in my new community of Oregon City, and time for me to enjoy the global community I’m a part of. Any suggestions or input on that would be welcome.

Also, I’m interested in survival/homesteading. I will be growing a garden for the first time ever this year and welcome all tips there too. I welcome suggestions on ways to keep the food too. Canning, dehydrating, freezing, etc. I want to do it all. Self sufficiency seems to be the way to go.

If you have ideas on freelancing or suggestions, please contact me with those as well. If you want to know more about me or have questions about anything I’ve said, I’m happy to have the conversation. Finally, my favorite quote: “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~Goethe

I look forward to hearing from you.

Robyn Lindsey
Oregon City, OR

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm a citizen of the world.

Even though I'm only 18 years old I have a lot of life experience and it's this: travel. What did Albert Einstein, Shakespeare, and Jesus have in common? They traveled. They were citizens of the world.

I'm a citizen of the world. I went to film camp. I've read Sartre. I've read thomas pincheon. I've read Ayn Rand. I've been to Italy. I've been to France. I speak French. I've been to Spain. I've been to Kenya. I've backpacked across europe. I've been to China. I prefer tea to coffee. I've been to Greece. I love Greek food. I'm a foodie. I'm always on the lookout for a great little place to get breakfast. Sometimes I go to Barnes and Noble and lose track of the time. The black people I've met, say I have a lot of flavor. I love my macbook. I also love my macbook pro. I drive an ancient volvo that barely starts.

And yeah, I paint, no big deal. I think conventional painting rules are stodgy, archaic, to bend the spoon, you have to realize there is no spoon. Think outside the box, coexist, coexist and one more thing: if you don't know the difference between your and you're and ur, and yore then GTFO my facebook wall.

Santa Cruz

P.S. Please check out this really incredible Ted talk about how socially networked 3d printing and bicameral thinking is going to save Russia's economy. It's really thought provoking.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Simple Rant

As a citizen of the world, I get sad from what I see everyday. The biggest fight we have right now, it is definitely ignorance. In the age of (almost) free information, that we have to battle ignorance. This is not funny, because it is a degenerative condition. It is now on almost all layers of society. On western societies it seems to be mostly omnipresent.
Self-interest and emotional intelligence, working together, and without the walking cane of knowledge to help them move forward reminds me of an old saying long forgotten:

"Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind."

People in the last 30 years have slowly changed the natural contracts that exist between us. From parent to child, between lovers , friends or business partners. Things are now heading other ways. The same problem is being solved differently to arrive to different solutions. Its ok. It works anyway. The rant isn't heading that way, diversity is cool, if it remains tolerant.

The rant is heading to the different Leviathans that are just working in their self-interest using emotions as a guide. Modern democracies are just a reflex of the base that supports them. All of the pillars that compose a modern western society are just off. This isn't a monetary crisis, economic or financial one. And it will last as long as it takes for the Leviathans to adapt to the new natural contracts between people that are being signed on every moment in western countries. Once those pillars like the executive, legislative and the judicial become barely useful, that means the door is rotten and it is ready to be kicked in. As I see it, right now, the first two are inconsequential at best. The executive branch, generally speaking, have problems in their hands beyond their intellectual capability and the legislative branch excel in making boiling pots that don't apply to real life, to the natural contracts between people. The judicial branch on western societies, it is still blipping, but its decadence is obvious albeit slow paced. I could talk more on this, but it wouldn't be a simple rant anymore.

A shift is coming, and it will come slowly. As a citizen of the world, with friends scattered around the world, I see that what comes out off the Fourth Estate or Power, it is so out of touch, that half of it is propaganda and the other half it is just plain useless. The same apply to how governments, business and people see themselves. Statistics of course. Macroeconomic magnitudes if you prefer to call them that way.

There is a low pitched humming going on, and it is everywhere. Small things that catches your eye. So many, you cannot ignore it anymore.

I don't know where things are headed, there are too many scenarios. This is indeed the Age of Uncertainty. One thing I do know. Regardless of what will happen to currencies, political borders, societies or ideologies, there is just one safe haven.

It is you. The value of self. Things like, how fast you can learn, what can you do with what you learned, how can you adapt. Things like that. If you can make the right question before giving an answer. If can find and use the correct tool, to solve the correct problem. And how much time you need to do all that.

This could go on, and on, but this medium has a logical limit. I wish Godspeed to all of you, and have fun. Thanks for reading to a simple rant.

Manuel Loureiro
A Coruña, Spain

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blame it on the Goat!

It was a dark and stormy night, and Francis returned from the bar, fuming. Dust still stuck in her nose from the ride home, those damn animals never learned how to hide in the barn when the thunder cracked. Every time one let out a terrified squeal, Francis felt her temple throb harder and harder. She just wanted them to shut up. Or get back in the barn, but that would be too simple.

Around ten o' clock, as she turned her heels to head back inside, a light pitter-patter behind her caught her attention. But the steps were too light to belong to any of the cows.

She didn't see what happened next. Lightning cracked, blinding her view. Then the next thing she saw blew her mind... it's your turn to continue the story. Take a little time to be creative. I'll send out a favorite or two to everyone who responds.

Happy New Year!

Chris Berry
San Francisco, CA

Friday, January 17, 2014

Damn Air Conditioning

I've had it with my dormitory air conditioning - last night was the last straw. Now that's it’s warm out, some asshole thinks it’s a good idea to keep my room temperature as cold as the tundra of northern Siberia. So I brought this girl back (she's a soft 6) and we start going at it like two lemurs fighting over the last nibble of a fig newton. We rip off each other's clothing and the foreplay continued, but something started to feel wrong. Shivers were sent down my spine and goosebumps lined my body. And then I looked down. She did too. As our eyes met, I could feel the warmth of my cheeks as the redness swept across. Damn, shrinkage had struck yet again.

That was just a joke I made as my facebook status a few months ago… Or was it?

I go to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and it couldn’t be the more perfect school for me. It’s warm, the women are beautiful, and the academics are great. Oh, and I also live in the best city in America and the music mecca of the world. Every other night I’m shaking my ass to some funk band at Tipitina’s or grooving to a jazz artist down on Frenchmen Street. Tonight I’ll be making my way over to The Maple Leaf Bar to check out Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. If you’re interested in some good New Orleans music, check him out. And if you want some funk in your life, look up The Main Squeeze.

For all my Phish phans out there, I only have one thing to say – READ THE FUCKING BOOK!


Sam Fihma
New Orleans, Louisiana

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Power of Touch

Hello you all.

I often see myself being a bit rude when talking. Perhaps is my lack of ability in actually talk directly to someone for more then 5 minutes without forcing myself to think I'm annoying the other person, or maybe it's just this is simply a hard thing for me to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not that introverted. Give me a bottle of wine and I will be the funniest guy around. But in normal conditions, verbal communication face to face tuns into a big challenge. It's a lot of insecurity and low self-esteem and I'm aware of that, but right now, there's nothing I want to change. Conformity is also something to be beaten.

But the bad side of it is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what I've learned by not being able to hold a conversation that requires emotional levels.

There are times - during intense grief or fear, but also in ecstatic moments of joy or love - when only the language of touch can fully express what we feel. Verbal language the way we know it, it's just not enough. There are no words that can comfort or express a feeling more then a touch.

A high-five.
A hug.
A kiss.
A slap.
A punch.
Holding your own hands in a pray act.
A hair stroke.
Well.. countless kinds of touch for countless feelings.

Thinking about it and realizing that actually I am a touchy person when I'm just too afraid and insecure to use words, made me create a video. This video is an invitation for people to relearn the power of touch. There's much to be gained from embracing our tactile sense - in particular, more positive interactions and a deeper sense of connection with others.

If you want to check it, just google "The Power of Touch" by Juarez Rodrigues. I'm not a filmmaker but I felt like sharing my thoughts to the world.

What about you? Have you touched someone today? :)

Feel free to feedback me. I would happily read them all and answer.

A warm hug to all you readers.
Kind regards from the Brazilian who lives in Hamburg.

Juarez Rodrigues

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An apology for “Jacks-of-all-trades” of the world.

Hi everybody in the world!
I am Paolo, 37, and I live in Milano, Italy.
I am a (brand) designer.

I won the Listserve lottery!
Yeah! Yeah! (actually I originally missed the mail, but I was given a second chance!)

Let’s start with three quotes to set the mood:

You are a mashup of what you let into your life.
(Austin Kleon)

I am always doing that which I cannot do,
in order that I may learn how to do it. (Pablo Picasso)

If you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you've always got.
(Attributed to lots of different people… but, really, who cares about the author...)

I’ll share these thoughts:

— My goal here is to discuss the subject “Jack of all trades vs. Master of one” attitude (yes: one, not "none") and have your feedback — check wikipedia for “Jack of all trades”.
— My curiosity leads me to explore and practice lots of different things (and that is good!).
— The same curiosity makes me to swap between things a lot and that *might* be bad (for sure it gives me a sense of guilt).
— I think that “society” in general favors the image of expert people (they *are* romantic!) over generalists.
— Things are not black or white, the world is complex.

Questions for you guys:

A. Where do you place yourself? Generalist or expert? A mix of the two?
B. How do you balance between horizontal (multi-skill) and vertical (one) learning/practicing?
C. How do you select your sources? (people/events/books/websites/tv/etc.) How do you edit what you expose yourself to?
D. Share your best sources. What inspires you?
E. Do you have principles/rules/routines that help you through your day/life? Do you actually follow them?

Bonus tracks:

Check the handbook for new employees at Valve (google it! - no links allowed here)
It’s all awesome but start with page 39 (Putting more tools in your toolbox) and 46 (We value “T-shaped” people). I think it might be “THE ANSWER” to this mail.

“Non-reading is not just the absence of reading. It is a genuine activity, one that consists of adopting a stance in relation to the immense tide of books that protects you from drowning. On that basis, it deserves to be defended and even taught.”
(Pierre Bayard)

“Don't assume that what we currently think is out there is the full story. Go after the dark matter, in whatever field you choose to explore.”
(Nathan Wolfe)


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Get your creatives juices flowing for a (fun) little experiment.

A good five years ago I discover these “travelling sketchbooks”. The general idea is that you sign up to a list. Then someone buys a empty sketchbook, sticks the list on the cover, does a drawing/writing on the first page, then sends the book to the second person in the list, who fills the second page and sends it on. I signed up for one of these, but nothing came of it. I waited and waited. But the physical realm is perilous, and I was not surprised to never receive anything. Being a computer geek, I always wondered how I could translate this to the digital medium. Then one day I found out about the listserve. And then bang: the eureka moment.
So, this is what I have come up with.

I imagine most of you have played the game Word Association. It involves two or more people. A person begins by saying a random word. The second person has to say a word that is associated to that one. The third person has to say a word associated to the second, and so for. The rules basically state that you cannot repeat a word already said, and you cannot hesitate more than a few seconds. So, of example, I could start with “cloud”, then could come “rain”, “water”, “cold”, “hot”, etc. You get the picture.
Now, how’s this gonna work you ask me. Well, I’ve setup a tumbler at associationsketchbook dot tumblr. Each and every one of you who is subscribed to the listserve can participate. You simply need to email me your email address. I will put you in a list. The first person to email me gets to play second (since I’ve already started the sketchbook), the second person gets to play third, etc. What you’ll have to do is create a tumblr post, complete with Title and Body. The Title will need to be the next associated word. The body should be connected with the title, but can be WHATEVER you want. It can be a photo you’ve taken, a poem, a video, music. Whatever. Since this is tumblr, I personally think things need to be short and quick. So text should be one small paragraph, video less than a minute, sound as well. At the bottom of each post I will include the “source” if you want. So if the image is from flickr, I’ll put the source. You should own the copyright of what you are sending, unless it’s a youtube/vimeo video, in which case I can embed without copyright problems. Same goes for soundcloud/mixcloud audio.

Since there are so many people on the list serve, I really want to try and get two / three posts up a day. But to do this, I’ll need you to be very quick in responding when I send you the request. And to do this, you need to wait for the previous person to have selected their associated word and post the content. So lets be choppy. If I don’t get a response in 24 hours, I’ll skip you. You need simply re-email me, and I’ll put you on the bottom of the list.

That said, I hope this is all clear, and let’s have fun!!!

Osaka, Japan

PS: would be great if I could find a few people to help me mange this. I’m in Japan, so if I could get someone from Europe/Africa, and someone from America to help spread out into the timezones, send an email will the subject “I wanna help manage this beast”.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The last 200 of 1 000 000

The rain buckets down as I run from street to cafe,
through grey skies to a grey interior,
stepping sideways into steampunk and smokey steerage.

In the month since I was last in here, there have been changes;
small soft armchairs replace some of the uprights,
a coffee table the kitchen style one at the rear.
The wide windowsill and woven sacking snug is still there.
It has drip cones strung with tiny lights above,
A nod to the season. Yule for you.

First to coffee,

The point for the risking of tech to weather,
for no waterproofing would withstand that for more than a few.
A swift aeropress made volcanic-tinged espresso and then, awoken from my street sleep,
the same Venezuelan steeped via v60, with va-voom but not so violent.
I sniff the smell of grinding, gladly glimpse filter,
feel the heat of steam and hear accompanying drip, drop, plip, plop
as the grounds move from dry to wet and the water takes on the emulsion, the oils.

And. I. Breathe

and sip and sigh and bliss is upon me.
I may. Just.
Sit in this chair with pencil and paper until later;
or until, I , for lack of other sustenance

just exhale my last...

...the last 200, a whole year done.
From grey skies through snow and sun
a return to grey
a million words

Helen Armfield
United Kingdom

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ennui Go

Why keep searching for what you've already found?

Brian Littmann

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Risk It

Hello Listserve recipients,

I hope this message finds you well. I've been receiving and enjoying Listserve emails for quite sometime and believe things happen for a reason. I expected the "It's your turn" email to come at an unexpected time and it did.

I am a 27 year old male from Chicago, IL; where I work as a web developer. Most of my days are spent practicing programming and everyday provides a new learning experience. Today's technology continues to advance at a rapid pace and I believe most anything is possible.

This email was drafted in Japan; where I'll be celebrating New Year's with a dear friend. I am grateful to be here and wish everyone has a safe and happy new year.

I feel like my time is running out for this email; being in a different time zone with limited access to Internet. So I'll end with this advice; embrace yourself and focus on what makes you happy. Loving anything else is easier when you have peace in yourself. The world is ever changing, but living is less difficult when you have something to wake up for everyday.

Osaka, Japan

Friday, January 10, 2014

On Knowing What's Going On

There are two ways that people tend to describe me to their friends. First is "He wins everything!" I tend to argue against that one, though having just won the listserve lottery I guess I won't bother this time. Second: "He knows everything that's going on!" This one, I'm ok with. I love going out and finding new things to do, and making other people come with. Life can get boring when you never leave your living room. Anyway, friends moving to new cities have asked for advice on how to find new places and events. Here are some tips:

1) Alt News Weeklies
Most midsize-to-large cities will have an Alt Newsweekly or two, those hip newspapers you see in boxes all over the place. They tend to have giant event calendars on their websites. Check them out! The bigger the city, the more silly stuff you'll have to sort through, but it's a good way to see what's going on! Plus, newspapers are great! Read 'em sometimes. [Also, they totally have a ton of contests.]

2) Indiscriminate Facebook Liking
Those same Alt Newsweeklies probably have Facebook pages. Like them! Music venues in town? Like them! Cool clubs, art spaces, restaurants, blogs, like 'em all! Yeah, you'll have to sort through a lot of junk, but if you get good at using lists you can keep your newsfeed from getting too unwieldy. You'll get some spammy posts, but also find out when the bar downtown is having a free scotch tasting, or about that secret movie screening behind the warehouse, or the new restaurant's soft opening, or the rickshaw company's birthday blowout. See also: Twitter, Email Lists, Blogs. [Note: indiscriminate facebook liking is also a great way to win contests. Just saying.]

3) ...Ask other people? Friends? Strangers? Whatever you're comfortable with I guess.

4) Make your own events!
Sometimes everything sounds boring. So... start something that's not. You can even borrow other people's ideas. My friend didn't want to have to go all the way to Maine for competitive Wife Carrying (look it up!) so he helped get it started in Wyoming (as the Cowgirl Olympics). My favorite community story-telling event stopped here, but someone picked it back up in another city an hour away. Maybe start a Kinetic Sculpture Race (look that one up too). There's an annual scavenger hunt at UVA inspired/adapted from the much bigger one in Chicago. And PLEASE check out the Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers. CLAW started in Charlottesville, but now has spread all across the country. They would love to help you start your own league!

These things seem a little too intense? Just have a dinner party. Or a board game night. Or a Sustained Silent Reading group at a local bar. Whatever's your thing.

So yeah! Go check stuff out! Email me and let me know what cool events you've found or started! Also, easy recipes. I could always use more recipes.

Charlottesville, VA

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Slutty witches

Hello there. A friend of mine introduced me to the listserve a few years back, so Zuleyma if you’re still on here: hi, it's Danielle!

I’ve decided to talk about the two things most important to me (which also happen to be the two most criticized things about me): witchcraft and feminism.

now im almost 100% certain that my use of the terms 'witchcraft' and 'feminism' alone has scared a few people off, but for those of you who remain, thank you. im not here to preach to you all; im just here to share some stuff & make some people more aware of the issues that the vast majority of society likes to pretend don’t exist.

sadly, feminists have such a bad rep. Here is how this conversation usually goes:
me- are you a feminist?
person- oh god no never absolutely not
me-well, do you believe women and men should be equal?
person- well, of course
my friends, if you believe women and men should have equal rights, you are a feminist. Many feel as though women have already achieved full equality, and while we have achieved a lot... We still have a long way to go.

Here are few terms that are a little too ingrained in our society: man up, don’t be a pussy, grow a pair, you throw like a girl, boys will be boys, the list goes on and on. you get the picture.

Can you all do me a favor? Erase the words 'slut' from your vocabulary. It is a term invented to shame a woman for being comfortable with her sexuality. God forbid, right?

rape culture. rape culture. rape culture. my best friend, Keagan (what you mras would probably call a mangina) once said: “I think there are more false accusations of false accusations of rape than there are actual false accusations of rape”

I recommend 'ceedling' on YouTube. Her videos are amazing & she is much more articulate than I am on these subjects.

i receive a lot of “well why don’t you call yourself a wiccan instead of a witch?” or “why not call yourself a humanist, rather than a feminist?” (I suppose to avoid negative connotation). the history of witches and feminists, what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve overcome lies in those names.

When most people hear the word, “witch,” they probably think of old, green hags, using their powers for evil, harming others. The media has done a stupendous job at making us think of witches as ugly and maleficent.

practices vary from coven to coven, but there is some common ground for all types of witches. Witchcraft teaches people about ethical ways to use magic--Spells that bring luck, healing, self-empowerment, etc. Witches are harmonious thinkers. Wicca is a nature-based religion and most Wiccans focus on the power and independence of females. And they don't believe in the devil.

it is actually Christianity that ruined the reputation of witches. Christian priests in the Middle Ages associated the Pagan hoofed god with the christian Devil, and this belief persists today. this is probably where the stereotype that witches are “Satan worshippers” came from.

It is a sad, sad realization to reach-realizing how many people are uneducated about the subject or just outright ignore it. Realizing that we may be in too deep with these misconceptions—for the sake of Hollywood and popular culture, witches will probably always be depicted as malicious, Satanic, evil creatures.

The best I can do is win the listserve and try to open a few eyes to the sexist, racist, homophobic, witch-fearing world we live in.

Danielle Stemen
indian trail, nc

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


***From the Listserve team: The previous email from Will Wybrow was truncated, so we're re-sending the full email. Our apologies!***

My friend Jamie, I met on Twitter. He was the friend of a friend and we hit it off right away, triggering our friendship groups merging. My friends on Twitter and his friends on Twitter all following each other in a virtual friendship ecosystem, all based on 140-character replies to each other.

There comes a point, though, where Twitter stops being useful for the number of people all trying to join in a conversation at once. And after an aborted attempt at linking everything using the hashtag #wangingout (forgive the juvenile dick joke; 2012 was a different era), and being geographically disparate enough to make regular in-person hanging out tricky, we took it old school and set up the IRC channel #wangingout on the Freenode servers. People keep a window open on their PCs during the day and in those little stretches of five-minute downtime everyone gets between tasks at work, we hang out.

And it’s awesome. There have been surges in my IRC use over the years, notably when I was 10 and used to rush home from school every day to get online and talk about Pokémon with other kids, and of course in the bash/qdb heyday of ten years ago. I always remembered IRC bots from those old days, little programmatic tools that could take on the role of channel op and curate a library of text-based commands to help out the channel or just entertain. So: wangbot.

From an initial twenty-line script with a handful of pre-set responses, wangbot has grown into a twitter client and a website and a chronicler of our lives. People in the chan can add greetings that he’ll parrot when people log on for the day. We hold votes: straw opinion polls, feature requests, even planning winter celebration events, and the results go into the online “statute book” for people to look up. We reward each other for good chatter, funny jokes, and winning games, all with #wangingout points. People can look up how much they reciprocate point-awarding and how aligned their voting record is.

But the feature that seems to have captured people’s imaginations and hearts is the !opine function. Every night, wangbot looks over the day’s chatlogs and puts groups of three words, and how frequently they’re said together, into his database. Then, given the command, he can try to link some of the three-word atoms into sentences. Try. With *very* varied success.

It’s not meant to be an attempt at a Loebner Prize competitor or anything; it’s just a little bit of fun. A minor experiment in how little code I can write to spout novel lines that, occasionally, have us all fighting to suppress out-loud laughter at our desks at work.

I’ve been into programming since I first touched my dad’s Commodore 64 as a young child. I went to university to study computer science and I code as part of my job. But I usually never get very far with personal projects. Motivation drops off after a while and I am left with yet another unfinished project. But with wangbot it’s different. It’s like I’m coding for an audience, but without the pressure of it having to be monetisable like you’d have with a software startup. At the start of April, wangbot will be two years old, and by far the creation I am most proud of.

If anything I do is worth sharing with thousands of strangers, it’s definitely my weird desire to make crappy jokey internet services for my friends to mess around with.

Will Wybrow
Basingstoke, UK


My friend Jamie, I met on Twitter. He was the friend of a friend and we hit it off right away, triggering our friendship groups merging. My friends on Twitter and his friends on Twitter all following each other in a virtual friendship ecosystem, all based on 140-character replies to each other.

There comes a point, though, where Twitter stops being useful for the number of people all trying to join in a conversation at once. And after an aborted attempt at linking everything using the hashtag #wangingout (forgive the juvenile dick joke; 2012 was a different era), and being geographically disparate enough to make regular in-person hanging out tricky, we took it old school and set up the IRC channel #wangingout on the Freenode servers. People keep a window open on their PCs during the day and in those little stretches of five-minute downtime everyone gets between tasks at work, we hang out.

And it’s awesome. There have been surges in my IRC use over the years, notably when I was 10 and used to rush home from school every day to get online and talk about Pokémon with other kids, and of course in the bash/qdb heyday of ten years ago. I always remembered IRC bots from those old days, little programmatic tools that could take on the role of channel op and curate a library of text-based commands to help out the channel or just entertain. So: wangbot.

Will Wybrow
Basingstoke, UK

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Be aware of your own privilege

The second-worst kind of Listserve email is the kind that only talks about the Listserve, but I'd rather get a little meta than compose the worst kind of Listserve email. You know the one: the samey, glib personal advice column that's some variation on "Eat, Pray, Code," composed just before or after selling all one's possessions in order to backpack through Europe / go to college / deliver a TED talk.

All of these emails have something in common, which pushes me to send along my tiny sliver of advice:


I'm a well-off white male who can afford to live in one of the greatest places in the world and hold down a steady, semi-inspiring job. Moneyed itinerancy, grad school and motivational speaking aren't for me, but they're all within reach.

Since the Listserve flock is self-selected, it makes sense that most of you would share at least some of the same privilege. Just do me a favor: step back for a second and recognize what you have. Then realize how it informs your everyday interactions with the people you meet, and for god's sake, do something constructive with it.

Maybe instead of sharing the same personal advice columns or superficial first-day-of-summer-camp facts about yourself, do a little soul-searching -- the kind that doesn't involve 'Chicken Soup,' you know? Then report back with what you've learned.

I'd take my own advice but I think I'm over the word count...

(shouts to Lily and Maura)

Los Angeles

Monday, January 6, 2014

Atheism, Health, and Nature

So I got this email 2 days after arriving in China for an Intensive Language program, aka I don't have much time to put into this email. :(

Some things I've been thinking about that I would love discussing with people:

1) I'm an atheist, and I have a lot of trouble dealing with the fact that I'm going to die. I was wondering if there were other atheists that had this problem (and overcame it?) who could give me advice!

2) I'm very interested in food/nutrition/health. I'm a vegan, and I love to cook and eat healthy! Its sad that the majority of people eat like crap, and I'd love to brainstorm ways to change this! (I have a vegan/vegetarian food blog by the way so let me know if you want to see it and i'll send you a link!)

3) I struggle a lot with the idea of "what is natural?". I want to be as natural as possible, but couldn't one argue that everything a human does is by definition natural?

I really wanted to send some profound email about healthiness or whatever, but since I don't have time this is the best I can do. Sorry! Hope some of you would like to chat! Since I'm in China for January, I might not be able to respond for a while, but I will definitely get back to you in February.

Chandler (female)
Beijing, China (but I live in Boston, MA)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Where do we begin and where do we end?

"The human body completely changes the matter it is made of roughly every 8 weeks, through metabolism, replication and repair. Yet, you're still you --with all your memories, your personality. If scientists insist on chasing particles, they will follow them right through an organism and miss the organism entirely."
—Robert Rosen

The quote above has captivated me for awhile now. Simply put, each of us feels as if we're more than just our parts. It seems as if somehow (somewhere?) we emerge from the cosmic soup of trillions of cells that comprise the human body. But there is another possibility -- that our autonomy as thinking, feeling entities is a private illusion we tell ourselves. Not only are there countless microcosms -- of tissues, microbes, and molecules -- in each of us but we, in turn, are parts of larger societies -- of families, nations, and planetary ecosystems. As human beings, we may feel and act as if we are autonomous creatures but what if we consider the possibility that this is merely an anthrocentrism? A product of human pride? Since matter and physical forces are continuous in the universe (i.e., the same fundamental laws of physics operate everywhere) then is it such a big step to acknowledge the possibility that mental phenomena (such as personal identity or agency) can also be distributed in the universe?

We seem to be caught between external and internal forces that impinge on us. So where do "we" begin and where do "we" end?

PS: I just completed an undergrad program in biology and cognitive science. I am hoping to continue studies in neuroscience. If you'd like to share some of your ideas with me or point me in interesting directions my email is aram.bernardos[AT]

Aram Bernardos

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Go west

It figures. I've been on this list for well over a year and always figured I'd have the perfect thing to say when the time came, yet here I sit not having a clue.

At one point I had thought about writing about myself, how I grew up in suburban Oklahoma and moved to Los Angeles after high school nearly 14 years ago to study film and writing at USC, but instead (and wisely) went into digital publishing and have had a good deal of success there. But that seemed self-indulgent.

At another point, I wanted to write about Los Angeles, and how it is both distinctly cruel and benevolent. Just when the traffic has you entertaining nearly constant thoughts of suicide or the most perverse yet ostentatious form vehicular manslaughter, you find yourself headed toward the coast alone on Mulholland one summer evening just after sunset with the windows open and the wind carrying the sweet earthy scent of chaparral and sage, a Joe Frank monologue on the radio, and you realize that anything and everything is possible. But that's been done before.

Maybe I'll write a list of favorites—authors like TC Boyle, a mentor and an inspiration—or Stewart O'Nan, Denis Johnson or Dan Choan; filmmakers like Hitchcock, Kazan, Sayles or Wyler. I'd go into music it but it'd take to long and lists are too often boring anyway.

So maybe I'll just quote my favorite passage from what I've always regarded as The Perfect American Novel (and maybe the Greatest, but that superlative has always seemed a bit loaded to me), "All the King's Men," chapter 7:

"I was headed out down a long bone-white road, straight as a string and smooth as glass and glittering and wavering in the heat and humming under the tires like a plucked nerve. I was doing seventy-five but I never seemed to catch up with the pool that seemed to be over the road just this side of the horizon. Then, after a while, the sun was in my eyes, for I was driving west. So I pulled the sun screen down and squinted and put the throttle to the floor. And kept on moving west. For West is where we all plan to go someday. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: 'Flee, all is discovered.' It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and see the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go."

If you ever moved west from Oklahoma or thereabouts, you probably know the feeling.

Always try to do interesting things and be well.

Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 2013

Friday, January 3, 2014

Drunken Nights, Discovering Africa and Good Music

Three random things that are worthwile - I'll keep it short. 400 words, let’s go!

Some of the best things tend to happen in the grey area between the fine line of what's wrong and what's right. In that sense, drunken nights are a symbol for this tension. I honestly believe happiness is defined by the experience of contrasts: know the down, appreciate the up.

In about a week, I’m changing my uncluttered life in the Netherlands for a unique field research project in the outskirts of Zambia. Nation states are the building blocks of our modern world order. Successful ones exercise profound influence on the course of world history: international organizations consist of states, multinational companies are still subject to state law, and every citizen is formally part of a state. Failed ones are the black holes of this world – many of today’s problems, ranging from poverty to transnational criminality, are relatable to a malfunctioning state.

However, this was not obvious a few centuries ago. There was a heavy competition between several forms of ways to organize a community: kingdoms, republics, federations, city-states, autocracies and more. The nation state became in our thinking about states nevertheless the dominant form of organizing a community: invisible constructions with a visible impact, rational in their irrationality. The essential question is: how can we understand this phenomenon?

I’m conducting field research in Zambia to explore the emergence of a nation state: how do a national state, national culture and national economy intertwine? I have three months to discover this topic. Excitement prevails, since this will be my first research project and steps into Africa. But I strongly believe that it doesn’t matter how many books one can read or documentaries one can watch - complex processes are best understood when you can feel them, smell them and taste the flavor of reality.

Any suggestions, questions or help regarding this project are more than welcome! I would love to read it: tvanderhoog[AT]

Finally, music. Here are ten songs that are in my opinion very good, but not enough appreciated:

The First Days of Spring – Noah and the Whale
My Body – Young the Giant
Put The Game Down - Hockey
Time’s Ticking – Isbells
Maybe So, Maybe No – Mayer Hawthorne
Fragile Meadow – The Black Atlantic
Fall At Your Feet – Boy & Bear
Death – White Lies
The Great Escape – Patrick Watson
Black Swan Song (acoustic version) – Athlete

Happy new year from a twenty year old Dutch student!

Tycho van der Hoog
Nieuwegein, the Netherlands

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Listservers, Teach My Students!

I teach English as a Second Language to junior high school students in a small rural town in Japan that is populated mainly by rice fields. I have amazing students, but 99% of them have never been outside Japan. They’ve only seen other parts of the world through TV or the Internet. I'd like for them to see some snapshots of life around the world in a way that (literally) speaks to them personally. And with the power of The Listserve, I have an opportunity to make that happen. I hope you'll help me.

I want to collect short video messages from you, introducing a slice of your life in whatever place you live. It could be a local custom or festival that you're participating in, you could introduce the work that you do, or a hobby. Or it could be as simple as showing us an interesting place in your town, or a local food. It’s up to you.

It doesn't need to be long or complicated, and it doesn't need to be edited. Just a quick video that you shot with your cell phone camera is fine. But however you do it, I have some requests:

1. Please include a greeting to my students, to grab their attention and make it personal: the town's name is Kurobe (pronounced "koo-RHO-bay") and the school is Sakurai ("SOCK-oo-rye") Junior High School.
2. Introduce yourself! Please tell us your name and where you're from, and anything else you'd like to share about yourself (age, birthday, job, interests, favorite movie, etc.)
3. Please pick something to introduce that you can SHOW us on the video! Having a visual to go along with the explanation will make it much easier to understand.
4. Please speak clearly and a little slower than your natural conversational speed.

Send your videos to me at LawrenceSensei[AT] either directly attached to the email, or send me a link to it on dropbox/google drive/yousendit/etc.

That's it! All in all, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes of your time, and it would be really fun for my students to get personalized video messages from around the world.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! It's not fair for you to just give your valuable time to my students and get nothing back, so here's the really cool part: every year we do a project in which my students make English commercials to advertise a local food or shop. If this idea works, though, I’d like to slightly alter that project and have them make video responses to your messages! So, if you’re kind enough to send us a video, you’ll get one back!

Disclaimers: I just came up with this idea in the last 24 hours, and although I run my classes, I don't have total control over what we can do. I’ll have to OK this idea with my supervisors. I think it should be fine, but there’s a chance that it won't be—in which case, I apologize in advance. Also, if we are able to do it, there are a lot of people on this Listserve. While I'm sure not everyone will respond and send us a video, we still might get more than we can handle. If we’re unable to make a response for every individual message we receive, I’ll at least send a personal email to apologize and thank you for your time. I’ll also send mass emails to everyone who contributes with updates on how the project is going.

Please email me with any questions, too!

Thank you, and Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2014!

Kurobe, Japan

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lost girl, born on Wednesday

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. -Albert Einstein

Pilgrim. Artist. Explorer. Lover. Lost. Looking for a tiger. Seeking that which has always been and lies within: absolute freedom.

I enjoy exploring near and far, within and without and seeing what adventures arise along the way. This particular lost phase of the last year has been more of a struggle, living in a place where I have been based for 10 years, broken-hearted, feeling mostly disconnected, occasionally overwhelmed and too tired. I dance. I unravel. The practice of life. I might need to find my voice. And what if I wish to speak without words?

I keep breathing. Sometimes: inhaling..pause.. exhaling..pause. I am a child of life. Walking often. Observing. Wishing to learn how to fly. Wishing to learn to understand and speak a new language and share stories. Wishing to create and build and grow life with love in magnificent collaboration. Much to share and much to learn. Really craving to find the way and the place to serve best, to sing and dance, share stories and strength and laughter and connect along this journey. I believe I can serve better with the right partners. It might be on a small farm near the sea where others can come rest their heads and share their ideas, dance and create, where will together make delicious food, which we have grown in the land, and sit together, nourishing body and soul. Or it might be in the middle of a big city. It might just be everywhere. I do not yet know. Is it already happening?

This phase of my little adventure might just be about letting it all go. Surrender. As I know very well, I know nothing. This season has been about diving deeper and deeper inward into the darkness. I didn't check my email for a few days (typical behavior lately) and unsure this will make it out to the group. We shall see if this makes it out via The Listserve and we shall see what rises again with the light in the months ahead... Que sera..sera.

I am ever grateful and in love with the dear souls with whom I have crossed paths and I get to adventure with along this life.

I send postcards. If you would like a card and some love via the post, do send your mailing address.

Like a mirror my soul displays secrets; I am able not to speak, but I am unable not to know. -Rumi

Kim Akua
Edge of the Pacific Ocean, Northern Hemisphere