Monday, March 31, 2014

How's your mom?

I thought I was done being a bastard. It had been weeks. Maybe a month or two.

The last spectacular bastard flare-up coincided with my thesis at the UCLA directing program. My ego had been wounded by countless film festival rejections and the looming possibility that others might be right about my lack of genius and/or general specialness. I was terrified at the potential of returning to real life wielding only an MFA and a hundred grand in debt. Inspired by every art-as-life-cliché, I threw myself into a series of web videos which at the time seemed like the purest expression of my creative self.

On-screen, there were Civil War re-enactments, self-help gurus and grainy, romantic Super 8 music videos. Behind the camera: fraudulent credit card applications, a string of bad behavior (mine) that lead to a sad and nasty breakup, and a google-analytics fueled vanity of pageviews, comments and press hits. In the end, the result was a series of very disposable webisodes.

Now I was sitting at a desk at MTV in the loneliest time of my life. I was working in a digital department in a job I’d been lucky enough to get a month before graduation. It was a rare good thing in an otherwise bad spell. My grandmother - like a parent to me - had recently died. My father had cancer. When I wasn’t working, I was alone in my apartment waiting for an unlikely phone call from my ex forgiving my bad behavior and taking me back.

The best days were the ones that were packed with conference calls and tech meetings, and if I was lucky - a meeting with the jackass guys - a circus of cattle-prods, chaos, and punches to the balls that could distract anyone from anything, really.

This particular day was just an okay day. Lots of tech calls. Lots of emails to respond to. It felt good to be busy. In the minute between two hour-long meetings, I got a call from an old friend - a friend from high school.

This friend and I had drifted apart in a previous stretch of my bastard behavior (also filmmaker-ambition related), but we had recently reconnected. His mother had died just over a week ago, and when it happened, I jumped on a plane back home to Houston to see him. It felt good to be there for someone. It felt good not to be the sociopathic me of six months ago, but the kind, useful, “new” me.

We reconnected. At the reception after the memorial we drank too many beers and each time I tried to excuse myself from what felt like a family-only event, he’d pulled me back and pleaded with me to stay. Finally, I stumbled away from the house to do a “mission critical” conference call about jackass and social media, hoping that no one on the line noticed me slurring. I told my friend I’d come back soon. I told him to come see me in LA. The friendship had been repaired.

So, when his call came - although I was still finishing an email, I picked up. I was only half-listening. “Hey, man - how’s it going?” he asked. “Good, good.” I said. “How’s your family?” he asked, “How’s your mom?” Half-listening, I kept typing. “Good, good, man. How’s your mom?”

“Well, David,” he said, “my mom’s dead.”

Los Angeles, California

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sampling Is Sexy

I would like to talk to you about sounds, and about how we can collaborate on a short, simple project. Don't be afraid; let me explain.Every day, I record at least one sound from my environment. Today it was a hollow floor board that stuttered like a faulty trumpet, yesterday was a jackhammer on the sidewalk, and a couple of weeks ago: a howler monkey asserting his territory. My idea is to collect these sounds once a day for 10 years. As of this week, I will have successfully completed one and a half years.

My intention is to sculpt the sounds into pieces of music. Sometimes I find the inherent shape of a recording and preserve it - for example, a squeaking ceiling fan might produce such an outrageously complex tone that I will map it to a keyboard and play it unaffected - while sometimes I might change the character of a sound into something completely unrecognizable. I have found that by forcing myself into this simple routine, my ears are more aware than they ever have been. Also, the pieces of music that I make are now imbued with specific geographical and temporal meaning. The song that I am currently writing would not be the same without the howler monkey.

Now for our collaboration - Please send me a sound from your world. It could be a voice memo on your phone; pristine audio quality is not the point. It could be the birds outside your window (for those of you living outside NYC), or your coffee grinder. Short and sweet (under one minute) will be ideal. I will make a piece of music utilizing all of the Listserve sounds that I receive and dedicate it to you. For proof of my work, you may refer to the blog that shares the name of my email address: Sampling Is Sexy.

In lieu of an inspirational quote, I will close with this:

Help kids make music. Everyone has something to learn from the awareness that young people bring to creating art. Whether practicing traditional instruments or using recording technology to manipulate sounds in the manner mentioned above, it is incredibly important that children be offered the opportunity to listen and make sounds of their own. Developing the discipline to listen closely to the world and then respond to it is an invaluable use of attention.

Thank you for reading.

Charlie Van Kirk
Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I am okay

We keep putting ourselves down.
Over and over again.
At times it makes sense.
But it shouldn't.
And even though I don't know you,
I know how you've put yourself down.
And how much you don't deserve it.
Cheer up.
It's easier said than done, I know.
And there's nothing I can do to change it
I can try endlessly.
But it's only you.
It won't ever be easy to pick yourself up.
But you've got to do it.
In the midst of stress and chaos.
It's not all terrible.
And soon enough,
today will be the past.
Breathe for a second.
The rest can wait.
Now repeat with me:
I am okay
I am okay
I am okay...
However many times it takes.
Until you're convinced.
You are okay,
you've always been.
Your phone is punishing you
with so much silence
when it is meant to aid your communication.
And the people you love
don't say much either.
You keep putting yourself down.
Time for yourself
is never time wasted.
You are okay.
It's time to stop putting yourself down.
Happiness is always waiting for you
to shake off the tears and fears
and to just cut off the crap
and smile.
I am okay
And so are you.

I am just a foolish young person. I don't possess much wisdom to share. I struggle with everyday life because of how much I tend to overthink. But this is coming from the heart. I don't know who you are, but I'd love to. I'd love to know how I can help you, how I can use a simple email to brighten your face.
Let me know how to make you see that you are okay. And that okay is the beginning of amazing.

Don't forget to be awesome.

Teresa B

Friday, March 28, 2014

What a l ong strange trip it’s been…

In the moment, I am frustrated trying to print postage for my very first sale ☺ on eBay, of a 1919 1st edition of The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Alas, PayPal has not kept up with Firefox, and Canada Post has delegated postage to PayPal instead of integrating their own online postage system ☹

So why 1st sale? I am moving. Having spent the last 2 years in a shared household, the guy on the lease is fed up with my occupation of the house. While everyone else keeps mostly to their rooms with occasional forays to the kitchen, I live in the living room(I’m retired), where I have my laptop, or the basement where I have set up a 3D projector. So my landlord wants me out in order to reoccupy the house before his parents come for an extended visit.

I’ve preferred shared households since the 60’s when I lived on Alberni Street in Vancouver – up to 38 communards in a 3-bedroom house. We exported people to Galiano Island to make room. I eventually left to attend Ryerson in Photo Arts, but got entranced by computers and an interactive language called APL. Check out the programming, in a dozen characters or so, of Conway’s The Game of Life on YouTube. Then a degree in Computer Science at York University and work as a programmer, systems analyst, and systems designer at Sears, Canadian Tire, Bell, BNR, and consulting work around Ottawa.

Back to revisiting my childhood. I have been going through my dad’s science fiction collection and putting his old Tarzan, Barsoom and other books up for sale (Abacurial is my eBay cognomen). Among these are a fairly complete set of Astounding magazines from the 30’s to the 60’s – and there are boxes and boxes. Dad lived pre-internet. Now to try to sell them through the thicket of rules and limits eBay has placed to protect buyers.

I was into microcomputers since I got a TRS-80 I took to Saudi Arabia with me and programmed a system to optimise choice of swimmers – I was a volunteer swim coach. So I wanted to win in our meets, but I wanted all swimmers to have a chance to compete. That was 1982. But I wanted the colour, so stepped up to an Apple ][ clone when I returned. Programmed my taxes in a Multiplan spreadsheet that loaded in linked sections – 64K of memory (I had an expansion card) used 48K for Multiplan, so only 16K bytes left. 1 page/schedule per load… Now I have a 8-core i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of flash drive, 2 screens, and it’s the internet slowing me down. Hmm fibre? I do devote 85-100% of my CPU to various BOINC projects.

Then there’s my main preoccupation – Duplicate Bridge. I am “0 carbon” on BBO and direct tournaments for the BBO Fans club, as well as play bridge. I created a goulash bridge bidding system called KwikQ.

Summers I get out, walk my poodle, canoe, hike, bike. But then I always bike . I sold my Pathfinder 5 years ago and it’s bike, hike or bus for me now.

I enjoy photography. My OM system is now obsolete, but adaptors let me use the lenses on my EOS. Still, for eBay, I use an S710IS. Small sensor cameras are unmatched for their macro ability and convenience.

I haven’t found my ideal space in Ottawa (or anywhere) yet. Anyone who wants to live with someone with too many books and too much furniture and too much interest in Bridge should contact me.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I hope this day is good.

Words get stuck in my head a lot. People will say something, or I'll read a quote, or hear a song and it will be there for the next few weeks, or months, or years. Many times, it is there, floating above the head of the person who said it in perpetuity. The words slice into my skin and stay there. Sometimes I write them on my arms and legs. I don't have any tattoos yet. I haven't found anything that I have wanted for long enough.

I spent forever wrapping myself in paper and rope, hoping no one would see all the emotions in me, because they were all so ugly. Now my person tells me that "sometimes, you scare me with the way you act so easily." It's a nicer way to say that I'm a liar. A lifetime of self defense seeps into my words. I am sorry if that scares you. It scares me too. I like to write in my little blog, I can unhinge my jaw and tell the truth. That's my rule for when I write. I have to tell the truth. The stories have to be true.

Once someone tried to drown me. It didn't work out too well, but it made my trust issues so much bigger.

Sometimes making through the day or the week is a struggle.

I'm kind of particular about what I spend time on, but people I can be generous with. I mix hostility and kindness easily, but it's all in my mind. I am the best person I can be when I can help or hold someone, or provide a listening ear.

I love it when people laugh. I don't have many friends, but the ones I do make me laugh like you wouldn't believe. I'm a cackler. It is cathartic. Cats and goats never fail to make me laugh. Clever writing can get me.

I love stories of all kinds. Please feel free to write to me and tell your stories or thoughts, or your favorite song or poem or show or movie and why. Or don't. I'd love to make new friends and talk to new people. I love to get excited about new things, which generally means anything. I'm a blank slate in most departments, I haven't seen any of the world or many of the people in it and I promise to talk to anyone who wants to talk to me. Tell me about things you love and things you hate and things that make you cackle, because I really hope I'm not the only person who laughs like that.

The most important things I've figured out so far in this life (22 years, wow) are that apologies can make or break the connections you have. Decide which you want to do. Either can be okay. If it helps your mental health, go outside and scream loudly. Just not next to the neighbors. Make it a point to not hurt people. Don't be afraid to comfort people. Hold their hand or just sit and be with them. The kindest moments in my life have involved people just sitting and being quiet with me. The precious words that are always in my head are not always comforting. Just think and be kind. That's the best I could ever hope to tell anyone.

Thanks for reading the ramblings. I'll gladly read and respond to anyone who wants me to . The emails I get help me to feel loved.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

‘ello world!

Yo everyone! My name is Steve Gattuso and I’m a student at the snowy University of Rochester. I dislike the long emails just like the rest of you so I’m going to make a quick list of things that pop into my head:

* Being nice is super important. I’m trying to get better about this.

* Appreciate your parents if they’re still around. Mine are really awesome people and sometimes I don’t think I do this enough.

* There’s someone out there named Krisi Hinova who is like the girl version of me, except she’s way better/cooler. Maybe three years of dating her has me biased, though. If you know of her *definitely* say hi to her.

* Tip of the virtual hat to everyone in NYC. I love that city and can’t wait to join you all in the best place on the globe after I graduate college :).

* hackNY changed my life. If you’re a student that likes programming, look it up. Cheers to all my fellow fellows: you are some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

* Shoutout to Simon Weber for showing me the listserve. Look up “the listserve archive” – he’s the mind behind that rad site. He also introduced me to hacker school which I really really want to do after college (hello hacker schoolers!).

That’s all I’ve got for you. I hope every one of you has an amazing day, week, year, and life.

Steve Gattuso
Rochester, NY

P.S. I love meeting new people. Send me an email and say hello if you like programming, rock climbing, drumming, cooking, or new friends! Also, I’m going to be in Madrid next semester so if anyone in Europe wants to give me some advice on whatever, I’d super appreciate it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Myths and Realities

A few lessons from political science:

1. Campaign contributions don’t buy congressional votes. Yes, there is a positive correlation between contributions and voting patterns, but think about it – if you’re directing the NRA’s Political Action Committee, are you more likely to donate to people you know support you already, or diehard supporters of gun control? Study after study shows that contributions don’t buy votes.

2. Spending millions of dollars on political campaigns is a good thing. Well, in some ways – costly campaigns deter some people from getting involved, but political advertising is not inherently evil. In fact, research shows that the more money is spent on campaigns, the more voters know about the candidates, issues, and the candidates’ position on issues. Believe it or not, advertisements can actually be informative, and voters actually show the ability to filter out incorrect or misleading information.

3. Citizens United, while it may have been a flawed decision, is not as big a deal as people make it out to be. The Supreme Court never actually said “corporations are people,” and corporations STILL CANNOT DONATE GENERAL TREASURY MONEY TO CANDIDATES OR PARTIES. All Citizens United did was make it so corporations can now engage in independent expenditures – that is, they can spend money on advertising in favor/against a candidate as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidates’ campaigns.

4. The two-party system is not the root of all evil. Third parties do not lose in American Politics because of the “tyranny” of the two major parties, but rather because of our winner-take-all electoral system (Duverger’s Law). Anyone who complains that Democrats and Republicans don’t offer “real choices” ignores the dramatic polarization that has occurred between the parties in the last 40 years. Moreover, complaining that the two-party system offers a “lack of choice” ignores the fact that anyone can run as a third party if they want to --- but a more effective strategy is to get involved in primaries and try to change the parties from within.

5. Presidents aren’t as important as we think they are. Yes, Presidents are important and influential – but they can’t work magic. This is a simple lesson that everyone gets in grade school, yet it seems to be forgotten when people think about politics – the President has to get the agreement of Congress to get anything done. Peoples’ list of “greatest” Presidents just so happened to be in office when their copartisans controlled the House and Senate (FDR, Lincoln, Washington, etc). Complaining that nothing gets done and then blaming it on the President for not “leading” is completely nonsensical and betrays a misunderstanding of how government works.

6. Political “independents” are usually not very independent. Most people who identify as independent actually are closet partisans – they vote and act and think like Republicans or Democrats while refusing to identify as such. The importance (and estimated total) of independent voters in elections is overblown by observers and pundits.

7. Nate Silver is great, but political scientists have been accurately forecasting elections using statistical evidence at least since the 1970s.

8. Last but not least, political science is not an opinion-based discipline. Just because people have opinions about politics does not make the field opinion-based. Political scientists use all the tools of contemporary social science – use of quantitative and statistical evidence is actually the norm.


A political science PhD student fed up with reading people (inaccurately) talk about politics on the internet.


Monday, March 24, 2014

On Casinos and Humanity

I’ve worked in the casino industry for over eleven years, with almost nine of them in Surveillance. In the past eleven years, I’ve lost a lot of hope in humanity. I’ve seen guests attempt to cheat the casino. I’ve seen employees steal from the company.

Those are to be expected. Those people keep me employed. What really pisses me off, though, is someone stealing from someone else. The worst are when the victim comes back and asks the suspect if they’ve seen their lost item – whether it’s cash, a cell phone, or even a cane (yes, a cane!) – and the suspect flat-out lies to the victim. To stare someone in the face and deny knowing anything about their lost $100, knowing it’s burning a hole in your pocket (or, in most cases, being lost with every pull of the handle), has to be one of the worst things you could do to someone.

What’s surprising is that these actions have no stereotypical look. I’ve watched homeless people do it, and I’ve watched players with thousands of dollars on the table do it. All genders. All races. All ages. No one, in our mind, is immune to the almighty dollar. I’ve even seen a victim of one theft become the suspect in another just an hour later. When she was approached, her justification was that because it happened to her, she couldn’t see why she couldn’t do it.

Just recently, I watched dozens of people take advantage of an error at a cash-out machine. Our employee put $20s in the cassette that was supposed to hold $5s, so when someone cashed out a ticket or a bill that would normally pay in $5s, they received $20s. While most of the people only did it once, several did it multiple times – to the tune of a few hundred to a few thousand in profit for them. The only reason it stopped was because a cocktail server broke a $20 for a guest and saw the problem.

The only way I can understand everyone’s reasoning is that they consider it a small win in their favor against a house (even if that house is another person) who has been “cheating” them since day one. For once, they found a way to beat us, even if it meant going against their morals and ethics (not to mention breaking the law). If it were the other way – $5s were in the $20s, for instance – the first person would have run to an employee and complained; they might have even used the phrase “cheated me” when speaking to the employee.

I don’t know if there are studies conducted on the thoughts and actions of guests and employees the moment they walk through the front door of a casino. If there are, I’d love to know about them. I want to understand their thought process as they pick up the $100 bill they just saw fall from someone’s hand. I want to know why employees think that extra $100 is worth losing their paycheck over.

I hope my view of humanity is flawed. Please email me and let me know it is. Give me examples of how others are fighting against this ignorance I observe on a daily basis. Better yet, tell me YOUR story of honesty and morality.

And, if you have any questions about the casino industry, especially about Surveillance, feel free to ask. I’m very knowledgeable about the industry and am willing to dispel, or possibly validate, the rumors or stories you’ve heard.

St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Can they tell?

People would try to talk to me and I was too preoccupied by my own thoughts to hear them.

“Great. My face is getting red. Oh man...can they tell my face is getting red? I look so face is bright red. What does this person think of me? And now it’s getting worse. Does what I’m saying even make sense? My face is more red now. Why does this happen so much? Now I just feel like a fool.”

During conversations with people I knew well, my face would turn bright red before I even interacted with them. The mere thought of talking with another person made my skin boil.

I went online. I read articles. I even thought about seeing a therapist at one point. I asked close friends. How was I going to fix this? I can’t live like this. It became worse the more I thought about it.

I was pushed around and bullied in middle school. I had a friend who used to tell me to “shut up Matt. Nobody cares what you have to say” for no good reason at all, which is likely related. I was a small guy, so I was a pretty easy target.

...Kids are the worst sometimes.

Anyway, after some years of struggling with this problem, I serendipitously stumbled upon a book: Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a guide to effective human interaction. All of the little things I once took for granted; the value of smiling, saying people’s names, asking questions, showing genuine appreciation, are all broken down in their simplest forms.

I followed it like a bible. The book’s principles forced me to focus on the other person rather than my own thoughts. I put myself in uncomfortable situations. I forced myself to be okay with my insecurities. I realized that if I wanted to fix the problem I needed to dedicate myself to solving it.

About a year later, I found myself having a conversation with somebody new. “And…wait a face isn’t red. No way! It’s cause I wasn’t even thinking about it!”

Now I’m comfortable addressing crowds of hundreds. Some people even approach me afterwards and say how great of a public speaker I am. Crazy what can be changed in just a few years of intense focus.


"Each one of us requires the spur of insecurity to force us to do our best."
- Harold W. Dodds


What’s your story of overcoming insecurity?

Boston, MA

Saturday, March 22, 2014

From Cubicle Slave to Music Producer

Dear List-servers,

It's hard to believe that two years ago I spent most of my time in a grey cubicle working an unfulfilling corporate job. Now, I spend my time writing, engineering and producing electronic music under the name Hyperbits.

If you're into that sort of thing, here are some thoughts about making the transition from life-sucking-cubicle-slave into full-time music producer and DJ.

1. Being an artist is all about creating a volume of work. For more on this, Google "The Gap by Ira Glass" and watch the 2-minute video by Daniel Frohlocke, it could change your life.

2. There is literally no man living that cannot do more than he thinks he can. So stay up late, drink some coffee, keep your head down and get to work. Do WHATEVER it takes to stay positive and stay inspired. Personally, I would take persistence over talent any day of the week.

3. Trust yourself and go with your gut. If you don't like your job or what you do everyday, just move on. It's very easy to get caught up in what other people or even what society thinks is best for you. But generally speaking, no one knows you better than you. So, do you.

4. I once read an analogy that doing creative work is a lot like sending messages in a bottle out to sea. You keep sending them and sending them and every once in a while, something will eventually come back to you.

5. "You don't need an expensive studio to make expensive sounding records. I guarantee some of your favorite tracks were made on headphones in hotel rooms on half broken computers. You don't need connections, you need passion and talent. Anyone can open the door for you, but it's you that has to break the thing down and show that you deserve to be in the room." - Nick Thayer

For anyone still reading I leave you with this:

The secret to good eggs is low heat.

And lastly, no one listens to music just to hear the end of the song, right?


So, enjoy the ride :)

Serik Slobodskoy

Friday, March 21, 2014

Failure to whom?

Passive aggressively, I'm often told that I'm a failure in society. This fall I'm turning 38, and I have no family of my own, I don't own a home, and since about a year I no longer own a car. According to society and its standards, and therefore large parts of my surroundings, these points indicate personal failure. I know my family and my friends love me, but the notion is always there. The judging. The whispers. The nodding. All this because this little word: own.

This gets to me more than I want to admit, even though I have a good-paying job, I have a first hand contract on an apartment, and I had an awesome car. What gets me most are the standards we abide, that we’re supposed to want to have all those things. The fact that people are mindless sheep wanting all those things doesn’t bother me as much.

Marriage: The accrediting from a board of people ruling a virtually defined area of land and/or a board of people wanting you to pay them for the idea of that a guy lived some two thousands years ago and did good stuff and you should believe in him, that you love someone. Come on.

Kids: There are so many children in this world that don’t have parents, or have parents that can’t or won’t take care of them. Is it then really okay to put more kids into this rotting world out of an egoistic need/want?

Home: Although it’s very nice to have somewhere to live, Most of you home-owners don’t own a home. You’re merely assumed by a bank that you’re getting paid often and regular enough for them to lend you money and amazingly high interest rates. You are debt-owners, not home-owners. It should be possible to build and maintain a decent home based on a decent salary, which is not the case today.

Car: It’s quite awesome to have a car, to be able to go where you want and when you want. The problem is that most of the time you’re just using the car as a temporary cure to your own laziness, going to the store or to work or somewhere else. Most people live where there’s adequate public transportation. This is an inexcusable burden on the local environment. If I need a car for something specific, I can borrow or rent one. My bike is also an excellent way of transportation, with the added value of exercise and fresh air.

I just want to step off this ride, don’t want to be a part of it anymore. I can’t be part of it in a way that rest of you think is good enough, apparently. And this hurts me. Next month, I am moving back to Sweden, where I can regroup my thoughts, enjoy nature and fresh air. Hopefully I will have a better stance in a few months, and hopefully I’m relieved of most of the stress tearing me apart since a few years.

My friend Björn is about to take a very logical step towards his real happiness, with contesting all of these things mentioned above. Please find his project Burning Land where you can read more about his wonderful ideas.

What are your thoughts on my thoughts? Why don’t you send me an email or find me on Facebook?

Today it's sunny and warm outside; it's going to be a great day.

Anders Lundwall
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why I Ride

Hi! I'm a lady who just bought my first motorcycle. I'm a writer by trade so books were always my first passion; needless to say going really really fast was never in the forefront of my mind.

Luckily, I got my heart broken by a guy who rides. When we broke up, I missed him—but I missed his bike more.

Writing was always my gateway to freedom, but after getting on a bike, I quickly realized the mind cannot be truly free if the body isn't granted that same freedom.

Yes, motorbikes are great breakup cures—I can channel all that churning gut anger and lingering nostalgia into my own sweaty road trips through the desert—but my bike has done so much more for me.

It introduced me to a community of intrepid, selfless people I never would have met otherwise. It led me to steel and rust and grease and oil, winding roads that twist into mountain valleys, tucked-away dive bars, the smell of the pavement, and dreams I never could have conjured without the agency this simple, two-wheeled machine creates for me.

If you already ride, you know all this. If you don't ride, give it a try. There's nothing like it.

Kate Reid

p.s. Pick up The Perfect Vehicle by Melissa Holbrook Pierson: it explains everything.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Favourite Quotes

Hello, I am Liwee from Sunny Singapore.

Just wanna share two of my favourite quotes at the moment. Hopefully they will make you feel better like how they have done for me all these while. :)

"If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."

As I grow older and enter the workforce, it seems like people around me are just getting so mean and would anything just to achieve what they want. But yes, staying positive and being kind even to those who hurt us will make us all look lovely.

"Eventually all pieces fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason."

Growing up can be confusing and depressing at times. I am currently at this stage of my life where I feel so lost about my future, especially after facing so many obstacles within half a year into my first proper job. So yup, I'm gonna try to gain as much experience as I can instead of crying over spilled milk all the time.

I believe that some of you out there also have quotes that resonate with you, or quotes that you live by. For example, my gluttony boyfriend always says "Leave no fries behind" and he really meant it every time he said it.

What are yours? Feel free to share with me! Thank you for reading and be happy everyday! :)


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Life lecture learned in Germany

My name is Peter and I am from Slovakia. There are few things to share with so many people I do not know :)

Germany - It was my dream to work abroad. Few months after graduating I got chance to get a job in Germany as a project manager/SEO specialist. The problem was, I had to leave my friends and family in just 2 weeks, what appeared to me as the hardest thing. The challenge was really big: getting used to new people, new language, new culture and becoming profi in areas I hadnt had relevant experiences before. After two and half months I was fired.

I was thinking a lot about this experience and got following conclusion:

1. "I do not regret the things I've done, but those I did not do." (Rory Cochrane) - Sometimes we are stucked in deciding whether to do something or not. In my opinion it is worthwhile to give a try. Staying in Germany gave me life lecture I would not get otherwise in 10 years.

2. Give 100% to anything. Nobody is perfect. It is not fair to blame yourself in case you didn´t succeed. More important is to do everything you are able and qualified to. If you know you made you best, do not care with thoughs about lost opportunity, but prepare for those upcoming!

3. Be happy to share your time with friend and family - In my opinion, this is how one can live his/her life peacefully and satisfied. Having just enough money or perfect job is not enough, if we do not have people to share it with. Schedule appointment with your friends or family today and enjoy any moment you can be with them.

Brno, Czech Republic

ps. I like two things : coincidence and travelling. I would be pleased to get in touch with someone who read these lines one day. Feel free to respond :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A suggestion and an opportunity.

I knew what I would say to the group if I ever won. I knew from the very day I signed up for the Listserve. It was not the reason that I signed up but nevertheless I knew and will get to that reason in the third paragraph. Please keep reading to that point but first a suggestion for the administrators of the Listserve.

I would like to see an archive site. Maybe by month and year. A site that will provide a link to reread the emails from the winners on a certain date. It would also be nice to have a rating system and comments thread for the people on the Listserve to be able to continue with or start some conversations. I have kept several of the emails that I enjoyed and conversed with a few people along the way. Special mentions to: Fred, Manuel Loureiro, Leah R, M Willis, Charles Austin, Jason Rosenbaum, Jennifer Cox, Adam, Ariel A, Yakira Levy, Lief Bloomquist, John Huber, Chris Powell, Alyissa and Anthony Albright. I have kept your emails and enjoy them for varied reasons. That is why I would like to see an archive site.

Now on to my turn. I started writing a book just last week. I was going to start last year but decided more research was in order and waited. I was hoping that I would have my turn this year because I wanted to ask the People of Listserve for help. I am writing a book about science, philosophy, and religion and their interplay. I would like to get input and opinions from a varied group and the Listserve is the very best group I can think of for that. It spans most cultures, religions, education levels and geographical areas in the world as best I can tell. In essence, it is perfect for what I would like to request.

So here is the request: please reply to the email address below with your email address. Later this year and as need dictates I will send you a few questions and ask for your opinions on the subject material above. If enough people reply and I have a significantly sized group it will become a cited source in the book. Basically you can become part of a poll group. I promise not send too much and will never ask for anything other than your email and opinion. Once the book is completed I will let you know and you can see what you are a part of.


"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dream big, be humble.

At 25 years old, I find myself in the live music capital of the world, working for the best company in the world. Yes, Austin has more live music venues per capita than anywhere else on the planet and Fortune Magazine calls Google the best company to work for, year after year.

At 25 years old, I have lived and visited some of the most beautiful places in the world, including Boulder, San Francisco, Seattle, Bolivia, Haiti, France, Senegal, United Arab Emirates and India and established the most fruitful friendships I could ever imagine.

At 25 years old, I've been in love exactly three times and find myself single for the first time in eight years and in my adult life. In retrospect, it amazes me to have discovered three drastically different people who I can love equally and will always love in some capacity the rest of my life. Love hurts, but it hurts so good.

At 25 years old, I have never felt so humbled as I do in this moment, with the opportunity to share a few words with a {presumably} attentive audience and reflect on a blessed life that I don't take for granted for an instant.

My name is Heather Koski and I grew up in rural Colorado, in a town of 700 inhabitants. Throughout our childhood, my parents encouraged my two sisters and I to think outside of the box of our hometown and dream big.

That idea commenced with an academic year abroad for each of us, in Finland, France and Australia, respectively, and evolved into a love of traveling, curiosity of different cultures and the constant yearning to learn more to enhance our minds and engage our souls.

While living in France, I became enamored by words and the comfort I found in writing as I was learning to speak French. At this time, I also found great joy in running, which eventually transitioned into high school track and now competitive racing.

I can honestly say that my life is presently a pleasant combination of my education, interests and dreams, but that I'm not satisfied yet. At which point, time constraints have ceased my writing, but I leave you with a quote that has always resonated with me:

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

- T.S. Eliot

Dream big, be humble.

Heather Koski
Austin, TX

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Starman waiting in the sky

I'm listening ''Is it my body?'' by Alice Cooper while writing this, you all will notice how unstable this letter is, also, I tend to start talking about something but end up with a different thing, also y'all can call me Miitcher, that's how most of my friends call me, back to Alice, I will meet him on my birthday (08/29)! strangely, there's a bittersweet feeling inside that makes me think ''wow, I'm very old''.

It's like having a midlife crisis at my 20's, did any of you been thru that feeling?

Is it suffering the reason our hearts grow old? Let that sink in.
Short story: last year I met Steven Tyler and I was so nervous that started to dry crying after I talked him, what? you don't know what ''dry crying'' is?

That is when you're so overwhelmed that you can't even deal with your own self, literally I found myself crying ''outside in''.
Then again, Je ne sais pas where I'm heading anymore, by this time, I was supposed to be somewhere else, to be honest, I was expecting more from myself.

I'm a photographer and also started to run a blog with one of my friends, that it's pretty much about music, fashion brands and the impact they have in society and 90's shows that me and my best friend miss a lot, we decided to call it The True Blog.

Since a young age I started traveling, my first trip was to Barbados and I'm coming back in a couple of months.

Short story: what I do most of the time of the year is going to concerts, so, once I asked Ozzy Osbourne: ''Ozzyyyyy, can you choke me?''

Yeahh, I know, please don't tell me how ridiculous that sounds, thank God there were only five people in the room when I asked that.

Did I say where I'm from? well, if you look at a map, there's a really tiny country, called El Salvador.

I wonder if Lady Gaga is subscribed to the listserve, can you imagine getting a e-mail from her?

it would be cool, a couple years ago I lost a piece of my heart, my grandma, men, I swear she was like, the coolest human being ever and I still love her, the same way I loved her the first day I saw her.

Last short story:
Marilyn Manson, Tampa, if any of the people who was backstage is here: HELLO EVERYONE!

Meeting this man was awesome, I literally ran to him and gave him a huge hug, he hugged me back too, I gave him action figures of Vilma and Scooby, the main topic was Scooby Doo, I told him literally everything and more!
When the girl was about to take our picture, I threw my leg right over him and told him ''Believe me, it will look great for the photo''

I'm laughing while writing this, he probably don't even remember any of this.

That's it guys!

Now let me hear about you!

What would the perfect blog be like? tell me by your own words

Are any of you catching the last Motley Crüe tour? my instagram is the name I said you could call me like at the beginning.

What do you guys do for fun?

Michelle Fletcher
Somewhere, about to take a plane

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Easier and Faster Way to Grow Up

I think that I, like the most of you, wonder when or whether we are going to be chosen to write here. But now that I have been chosen, it's hard to come up with a subject.

So I'll start introducing myself. Hi! My name is Thais, I'm 18 years old and I live in one of the biggest cities in the world, Sao Paulo - Brazil. I've just been back from an exchange program; I spent a whole year in Australia thanks to an organization called Rotary International.

And that is what I was going to talk about: Travel and why you should travel (more). But I must confess that I was starting to get bored myself. So, instead, I want to recommend you a method that can help you grow (whether professionally, socially or personally). Now that I’m 18, I’m becoming responsible for more and more things, so I must apply more discipline into my life.

This method was suggested by an important bank president from Wall Street, New York. He said:
“I keep an agenda where I write down all the appointments that I have that day. My family never makes any plans for me on Saturday evenings, because they know I use these evenings to process and exam my conscience and then review and evaluate it.

After dinner I open my agenda and remember all the things I had to do during the week.

I ask myself: ‘What are the mistakes I made during the week?’

‘What did I do that was correct? What are the things I could’ve done better?’

‘What can I learn from this experience?’

I’ve felt unhappy many times when processing my agenda. It surprises me the number of things I did wrong. But, of course, after some time the number of mistakes you make become smaller and smaller. I even congratulate myself from time to time.

This method of self-analysis, self-education, year after year, has done more to me than any other thing I’ve ever tried. It’s been helping me to improve my capability to make decisions and to deal with people.

I can’t recommend it but with much enthusiasm “

Yes, you should travel as many times as possible like I was going to write about. But I think you should definitely try this new method and see how it goes. You’ll probably learn most of the things during your life anyway, but I think this way should be easier and faster. What do you think? And if you do try it, I’d love to hear from you!

All the very best,
Tudo de melhor,

Thaís Alves
São Paulo, Brazil

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life after Asperger Syndrome diagnosis

My motivations for joining the Listserve were part of my drive to communicate more with 'the world' and coincided with starting a blog (Science on the Spectrum) were I aim to discuss my scientific career aspirations through the lens of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2012, a 'higher functioning' form of autism. This affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people but because I am intelligent and outwardly appear capable, these disabilities are largely hidden. I have difficulty with the subtleties in verbal communication, such as understanding facial expressions and voice tone and knowing what people are thinking, explaining the problems I have experienced in interacting with others throughout my life. It is not all disadvantageous though, my condition is also associated with obsessive interests, a high attention to detail and love of pattern recognition which are valuable attributes for a career in science. It is therefore no surprise that those 'on the spectrum' are overrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and that I should be drawn to this career from an early age.

It is not until recently that ASD has received more awareness and it was the opening of a clinic in my local area that prompted me to consider being officially diagnosed. It was not a decision I took lightly, as I was unsure whether having a 'label' would be a help or hindrance from a personal and career perspective. However I was applying for a full time Master of Science degree which would necessitate moving to London and having to live independently rather than rely on my parents' care and a diagnosis would give me access to support. I researched the experiences of others and discussed it with my family and General Practitioner/family doctor before deciding it was worth pursuing.

Since my diagnosis my attitude to my difficulties has changed, instead of constantly feeling inadequate for my social failings, for example when I attend a conference but am too scared to talk to many people it instead feels an achievement to have gone at all. Rather than a burden, I see my difficulties as a challenge to overcome and to that end decided to stop letting the fear of other people hold me back and 'feel scared but do it anyway'. With support from my family and the university's disability team, last year I achieved my ambition to gain a Master of Science studying at the Natural History Museum in London where I have continued to volunteer on a research project on earthworms - but that is another story!

I would be interested to hear the experiences of other STEM workers with autistic spectrum or other communication disorders.

Victoria Burton
Hampshire, United Kingdom

Monday, March 10, 2014

The mining law of 1876

Hi, I'm Greg, and I'm 30 living in Colorado, working part time at a ski resort. It's a great life and a good job.But my real job, my real passion is mining exploration. When they asked me what I wanted to be as a kid, I never had an answer, I guess it was because I never knew that what I would come to do was an option.

So what is the mining law 1876? It's easiest to explain with a question. If you're out on public land in the western USA, and you stumble upon a billion dollar gold vein, who owns that? The answer is the first person to stake a claim and pay your claim fees to the local county and federal government. Claims can be a max of about 20 acres, and the fees for them are only a few hundred dollars a piece.

Now growing up in Chicago, I never had a single idea this was a thing. It was only when I moved to Nevada that it was introduced to me. I was actually in the process of developing land for a music festival when the mineral rights under my feet sold for millions. And that's what piqued my interest.

Think about it this way, we only completed the teams continental railroad about 135 years ago. That's when we first crossed the West, what lies beneath those millions of square miles is just waiting to be explored.

I started exploring for minerals, particularly gold and Iron Ore in 2007. Since then, I've started two companies and made some amazing discoveries of unknown ore bodies. Hopefully within a year we'll start mining and shipping iron ore overseas to Chinese steel mills.

I'm glad I found this interesting line of work, without it I don't know what I'd have done. It's still kind of funny to me that I'm a ski bum by day, and manage million dollar mining projects on the weekends. I try not to let it get to my head, and I keep my jobs separate. no one at my ski bum job knows about my mining job, and my mining associates don't know I'm a ski bum by day. I like it that way.

Feel free to shoot me an email, I love talking about mining and exploration, and if you haven't seen it yet, check out the show "Gold rush Alaska."

Silverthorne, Co

Sunday, March 9, 2014

4 great startup Ideas that I won’t pursue

Ideas – for free! I don't have the time to develop these, but maybe you do.

I have a running list of 100+ startup ideas that are locked and loaded, but I’ll never be able to execute all of them, so I decided to use this opportunity to share some of my favorites that I won’t pursue with you.

Maybe you feel inspired and start working on one of them. If you do so, please let me know. I’m happy to support and would love to know how they’re going.

1. Device: Ever ran out of battery and didn’t have a charger in reach? What if friends could connect their phone to yours and give you some of their precious battery life to keep it going? Think of this as a device small enough to hang from a keychain. A small adapter that allows you to connect one device to the other and donate power. Is there a better way to connect?

2. App: Wouldn’t it be cool if you could share a playlist with friends that everyone can contribute to real-time? Basically an app that allows everyone in reach to add songs. All contributors see what’s coming and can vote songs up and down in the queue. Perfect for offices and house parties.
And who says DJs wouldn’t use it to get instant feedback from the crowd?

3. App: Get up! A social network that motivates you to get up early in the morning. You can share the time you set your alarm and see which of your friends are still sleeping. In the end, there’s nothing more motivating than knowing that your friends are already getting things done while you’re still snoozing.

4. Mobility concept: There are some great car sharing concepts that are launching in major cities, but they all lack one thing: Reach. Why isn’t there a service that allows users to contribute vehicles? Imagine you could invest in an electro scooter and choose where you want to place it. Whenever someone uses your scooter, you get a cut. The company would only facilitate deals and maintain the vehicles. A city-spanning mobility network could evolve.

I’m a product manager living in New York City and I have big dreams.

Follow me on Instagram if you’re interested: @jankokott
I’m curious to see who you guys are and will follow you back.

Life is beautiful.

New York City

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I’ll try to keep this brief

Hey everyone! I was shocked when I got the "you won" email. With over 25,000 of us, I never really thought I'd be chosen.

Some things I think everyone should know/do in life:

1) Do theater!
I can't stress this enough. I started doing musical theater late (in my early 20s), and it also happened to be one of the worst times in my life. I had just lost a younger brother during my first show. I got into theater because of my love of music and singing. I wasn't a very confident person during those years, but my voice teacher insisted I audition for a show. So I did, and was cast in "West Side Story" and it literally changed my life. I became more confident in myself, I got out of my depression, and I met some of the most amazing people i'd ever meet. I met most of my lifelong friends in theater. There was something uplifting about being around so many people that have the same love and passion for the arts as I did. Theater was my therapy. I performed for almost 10 years in the San Francisco bay area and fit in a show whenever I can (I am now a self employed stay at home dad, so making it to rehearsals is tough these days. Haha).

3) Suicide sucks
This one is going to get a bit personal. I survived suicide twice. Now, you're probably thinking I was the one that attempted suicide... You're wrong though. My father committed suicide when I was a baby, and my step father committed suicide when I was 14. Being someone that had to pick up the pieces emotionally was devastating. I spent most of my childhood trying to keep myself and my family intact. Because of their selfish choice, I lost out on my childhood and my teen years. I'm not going to go too into detail though, it's pretty personal. I just want all of you that have been through the same thing to know, that you are not alone. I am in my mid 30s and still trying to recover from the losses I've had in my life. You can never recover 100% when someone you love takes their own life.

4) Star Trek is not for nerds/geeks
Star trek was/is one of the most well written shows ever created. It transcends generations. It is so forward thinking and amazing everyone should watch it. From the technology, the thought of a moneyless way of living, and the integration of all species, it was/is way ahead of its time. Gene Roddenberry created an amazing world within Star Trek, and I for one am thrilled that they re imagined it! The new films are a great mix of action and star trek lore. My favorite series is TNG and I hope they someday re imagine it as well

Lastly, I want to thank my old Apple co-worker Tim Kretchmer for turning me on to "The Serve". I have really enjoyed reading everyone else’s messages. I hope some of you can take something positive away from my message.

If any of you are in the San Francisco bay area, look me up. I do photography, video, digital audio, event DJing, graphic design, and build custom "Hackintosh" computers (now that I no longer work for Apple). I love making new contacts and meeting new people. Feel free to drop me a line anytime. My website is the same as my email "Omnisonas"

Take care everyone, and thanks for reading my entry in the listserve

Jonathan Ayers
Pacheco, Ca

Friday, March 7, 2014

So I waited until the last minute

And now i'm oscillating between just rickrolling/bellair-ing everyone and giving some insipid advice like 'be kind.'

Like: "this is a story all about how Kurt Vonnegut is never gonna give you up?" or something.

Oh, right! Advice! Hmm...Read more Borges?

And definitely take yourself less seriously. Well except for those things that are super important, you should totally be serious about those things.

Eat more or less kale, depending on your preferences.

Always devote yourself to worthy pursuits. Like oh hey Bill (who I know is reading this), remember that time you spent like 10 hours trying to get a video game corpse into a video game glass case? Good times.

Oof. This basically turned into a somehow less intelligible Eddie
Izzard-style list of left-behind commandments (e.g. "never put jam on a magnet"). Sorry everyone. Good news though, super earnest replies will most likely be back tomorrow!

Alex B
Boston, MA, USA

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I never knew I was strong

Every time I write, I know that what I’m trying to say will never get across in the way that I want it to. I’m out of practice, I can never find the words I need and I’m a really terrible speller. But actually, writing this email, I have no idea what I’m going to say. So consider this an experiment.

I am a college senior pursuing a degree in graphic design and marketing. And I have a lot of questions. I guess that’s appropriate, since one of the largest events of my short life is approaching much too quickly. That being said, I feel that I am in no position to give anybody any sort of advice and honestly I feel like any wisdom I may have had has been drowned out by many recent nights (and some days) of beer and tequila running seamlessly into working on my design thesis until sunrise. But hey, it’s only in college that I can get away with posting a video of myself chugging a beer with pickle juice on the Internet, right?

If there is anything that I feel I need to take this opportunity to say, it’s this: The people who love me have changed my life. As much as I am confused, overwhelmed and questioning the future, I know that I am strong and resilient and I can face whatever graduation brings. It wasn’t long ago that I didn’t know these things. It’s not that I thought I was weak, I just never knew I was strong. I never understood that people saw a confidence in me because I never knew it existed. I quietly questioned myself, my decisions, my appearance, every single day.

There have been a few particular people in my life the past few years that have completely changed how I look at myself, my potential for happiness, love, and success. Their selfless words and actions have made me such a better version of myself, and because of them I will always pay this forward. They fuel my love of life, my creativity, my terrible dance moves, and a happiness that I didn’t know I was missing. Although I still can cry over the smallest of things, I know it’s just because I am so filled with love and appreciation. So I want to publicly say thank you to these people for allowing me to learn who I am. I’m so sorry I don’t say it more often. I really hope you know who you are, and I love you.

Well, I honestly did not think that this was going to be so soppy, but with the weight of almost 25,000 pairs of eyes I felt a strong urge to say something important. This is honestly the most important thing I can say, although I’m sure it was diluted by spelling mistakes and run on sentences.

Well, this is also important: I am seeking employment post graduation doing anything design related in New York City. I have no idea what kind of place I want to work, where I am going to live, or what my new life will be like. All I know is that I need to surround myself with these kinds of people who make me this better version of myself. If you have any advice about how to tackle the next stage of my life or any ideas for cool job opportunities, please send me an email.

Sarah Healy
St. Louis, MO

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Of all the lucky elephants...

...I got picked.

A greeting: Hello, people of the earth! Or 25k of you at least... An introduction: My name is Arshi and I'm seventeen years old. I have a cat called Boki, longer hair than you'd expect, and an account on a writing website where my story has 12,000+ reads. I am currently a junior in high school and I study English Language and Literature, Geography, Business Studies and Psychology. I want to major in Business and minor in Film Studies.

A book: Bliss by Lauren Myracle

A song: Pompeii by Bastille

A movie: Waitress (2007)

A TV show: Supernatural

A place: Marine Drive, Mumbai, India

A tip: If you're not confident, or if you feel like you need to do something but don't feel brave enough, try the 3 2 1 method. What you do is you count down from 3, and when you get to 1, you just do it. Even if it looks more like a weird outburst than anything, you just go. Because that way, you won't have time to overthink and over-analyze the situation, which always makes things even worse than they are.

A quote: "Airports see more sincere kisses than wedding halls. The walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of churches."

A pearl of wisdom: "Ask in order to understand; do not ask in order to find fault." -Ali ibn Abu-Talib

A confession: When I was 13, I thought I liked a boy. I didn't, but it's been haunting me for four years. I guess it won't one day, but for now, I'm just trying to ride out the storm.

A lesson: Love doesn't always have to be romantic. A wish: I hope I get all As in my examinations this year.

A request: It would mean the world to me if you kept my sick grandmother in your thoughts.

A question: How do free apps and websites make money? I've always wondered, but I've never been bothered enough to look it up.

A shout out: Mamma, Pappa, Raz-mataz, Boki, Choti, Alooney, Naani, Naanu, Daadi, Daadu, Aunty-G and AD: I love you all so so so much.

A farewell: Thank you for putting up with me for 500 words. I'd love to hear replies from you in the exact format that I've sent you this email (i.e. "A greeting", "An introduction", etc.) since I think it covers pretty much everything. My email should be somewhere on here, and I promise to reply to each and every one of you. Have an amazing day/night!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014



I've read most of the things that listserve sent to me. Enjoyed it a bunch.

Never thought I would be picked to say things to all of you. So what things should I say?

I am what most would consider an old woman. Technology only got really started in my early twenties. I love technology and hope to live long enough to enjoy some of the new things that I know will be here. A few days ago I discovered a web site that made gif files look 3D. Got to say I am impressed. A small thing but interesting.

The internet is ....... for me........... a wonderful place to learn new things. A great place to see photos of places I will never go.

So many minds serving up so much. Things my generation would have never thought of. I just love it.

There is one part though that I would like to see more of. It would be something that would help old people like me meet other old people. No, not a dating site. I don't know what kind of site it could be but something that would help people my age meet each other. Maybe a club of some sort. I just don't know.

If anyone reading this has ideas I would like to hear them.

I live in Nevada and the longest lasting relationship I had came from meeting a person at a Keno machine. Of course, I was about twenty years younger then. We would still be together if he had not decided he had lived long enough with his health problems and died.

I am also curious about the people using list serve. What sort of age mix do we have here? Until I got my chance to talk to all of you I thought it was all just young people.

So, I would like to hear from any of you that would like to e mail me. If you could use advice about how not to do things I might be able to help. Some say I am a walking disaster when it comes to doing anything in a kitchen for example.

Lona Curtis
las vegas nv.....usa

Monday, March 3, 2014

Thank you for your consideration

An enthusiastic, creative leader seeks opportunities to plan and execute pranks, scandals, and mischief in the name of freedom and the spirit of community.

Forgery, 1st grade
Replicated mother's signature to confirm that she understands a homework assignment was not completed.
- Teacher didn't glance twice at masterful forgery
- Mother was spared paperwork and disappointment over the missing assignment

[NOTE: timeline discontinuity caused by skipping the 2nd grade]

Buttered Chalkboard, 3rd grade

Coordinated with six classmates to bring sticks of butter to school on prank day. Before the first bell, teammates slathered butter onto the chalkboard seamlessly.
- Teacher didn't notice any butter residue, attempted to write on the board as usual
- The board was completely chalk-proof, and curriculum eased for the day
- Best friend was sent home with a note inquiring whether there was excess butter at home; best friend's mother confirmed that there was, indeed, excess butter at the house

Sex Equality Protest, 4th grade

Assembled all girls to protest that the boys were assigned to wood shop while the girls were assigned to knitting class
- Unified classmates and raised awareness of gender stereotypes
- Gleaned insight into wood working
- Not a single disciplinary action recorded
- After numerous protests, forced back into the rudimentary yarn manipulation class, knitted safe-for-woodworking intarsia gloves of own design and pattern while classmates completed scarf assignment

Tobacco Access Demonstration, 5th grade

Staged a demonstration to draw attention to kids' access to cigarettes by having students bring large supplies of cigarettes to school, then having the hall monitors hand out cigarettes instead of chalk
- Numerous attempts by teachers to write with cigarettes on chalkboards; succession of cigarettes snapped
- Classes interrupted, responsibilities of hall monitors re-examined
- Loyalty and untraceable planning resulted in minimal disciplinary retribution, organizer never identified
- Demonstration foresaw anti-smoking movements that followed a decade later

Campus Excursions, 3rd - 5th grade

Led students around elementary school and neighboring high school during school hours
- Observed unfamiliar practices among students of various ages, interests, and backgrounds
- Introduced student body to novel campus resources
- Afforded opportunities for informal, convivial conversations with principal

Surprise Birthday Party, 12th grade

Brought cake, candles, and balloons to a 7:20am AP physics period. Gathered fellow students in a celebratory performance of "Happy Birthday" in honor of the teacher. It was not the teacher's birthday. Not even the month.
- That's the surprise!
- Cake for breakfast for sleepy seniors
- Merriment that precluded rigorous physics instruction for the ensuing double period
- Smiles and cheer rather than disciplinary action

[NOTE: timeline discontinuity caused by immigration and subsequent abject loneliness and despair spanning 6th-12th grades due to detachment from social network and placement within schools that ignored/devalued all the previously esteemed abilities that allowed mastering a new language in two months and placing into calculus BC at age 15 - but then who cares when you're not born into the school district, right, and you don't conform. I'm a grown woman, and I still begrudge my high school counsellor and principal. How are you doing? I mean they wouldn't let me into honors English! Ever! But I turned out fine/well educated except, yeah, eff them.)

- Created a high fashion anti-status status symbol, itself an It bag
- Launched Math-Club, where people drink at post-graduate math talks and professors are rock stars
- Covered the Beastie Boys in French
- Coded and designed an iPhone game called Video Ace, launching soon (yay, let’s play!)

Roni Brunn
Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How to be an Adult

I never thought I'd "win," but here I am! Hello everybody!

I was wondering what to say to 25,000 strangers, but I think I'll just talk about "How to be an Adult." I know, I'm only 25 (nearly 26), but I have experienced quite a bit of life (including the past 3 years working in South Korea).

Today, let's talk about how to walk the fine line between being your own person versus being under your parents.

I won't go into details, but my newly divorced parents are going through a rough time in light of a staggering revelation. I love my parents equally, but it's really hard to take when they are both throwing out terrible thoughts and untrue assumptions about the other. It is worsened by the fact that they both seem to come to me about it, when I am not under their care or protection anymore.

So how does one manage this difficult balance? 3 ways:

1.) By listening.

I just listen, and listen respectfully. There are things that they may need to say, and as hard as it is for me to hear it, it just needs to be said. The point is NOT TO HOLD ON TO THOSE WORDS.* Personally, I do this through my faith in Christ, but the principle holds true. As the saying goes, "in one ear and out the other." If I were to hold onto those things, it would absolutely destroy me, which is not fair.

2.) It's their problem, not yours.

I have my own life to live (of which I'm starting a new, terrifyingly exciting chapter), so I need to just let my parents deal with these things on their own. Of course it hurts me to see their hearts breaking, but I can't carry this for them. They're adults too, and while I love and respect them, in the end, it's THEIR ISSUE, NOT MINE.

3.) Pray

Pretty self explanatory. (Feel free to email me about that one.)

I'll end this heavy post with a lame joke:
so what did the acorn say when it grew up? "Geometry!" (Say it out loud, it will make sense.)

If you have any questions, feel free to email me. I also love snail mail, so if any of you want to be pen pals, also email me!

* caps for emphasis-not shouting.


Seoul, South Korea

Saturday, March 1, 2014

First Wednesday

In college, I ran Cross-Country and Track in Atlanta. While I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate on why, the bond you gain with your teammates is an inseparable one. Between the 6:00am Tuesday work-outs, the informal late-night naked running events, and the “drag-out” on Sunday long runs when we’d rehash our Saturday night escapades, there’s a lot of bonding that goes on in the sweaty mix.

After college it becomes increasingly difficult to see each other as often as you once had, and it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the same closeness as you all enter the next phase of your life. It’s all too easy to fall out of touch and grow apart.

For me, the majority of my closest friends from my team live in New York City. It shouldn’t be that surprising (because NYC is the shit and who wouldn’t want to live in this city?) but it is something that I took for granted for a while. Of course, we’d get together some Saturdays at someone’s apartment for a pre-game and then go out to some dive bar (when it was up to me) or some schmancy bar (when it was up to my finance friends). It was actually my parents though that made me realize I should make a stronger effort to see all my friends outside of the weekend haze.

Thus, “First Wednesday” was created. On the first Wednesday of every month, one person gets to choose a restaurant for dinner and we all go out of our way to be there. (I added a stipulation that if you miss First Wednesday, you have to send hand-written, mailed apology letters to all those who did make it to dinner explaining why you missed the occasion, but only one friend has followed through on that.) I understand this isn’t anything groundbreaking: dinner parties?! Am I the first one to ever think of that?! The point is: I have really great friends and getting together for a designated time each month is a really special thing. What’s even better? All of my friends have made it a priority as well.

At the ripe age of 26, I’m realizing more and more everyday how fortunate I am and not to take advantage of it. Though it feels life gets busier by the day, I’ve always made a concentrated effort to visit my loving, supportive parents in upstate New York, my kick-ass, soon-to-be married brother in California, and my best friend and amazing sister (who just had a baby boy, Graham!) in Rochester. College, I mentioned—but did I mention I was a Chinese major too? (<3 Shanghai, 我想念您). For the last four years I’ve been working as a middle school teacher in the South Bronx and recognize how unique it is for me to be absolutely in love with my job. I have a great apartment that I share with my boyfriend and our Mastiff mix, Maizey, who adorably loves to army crawl between us in bed in the middle of the night.

And now I feel like I’m able to appreciate, on new levels, what an amazing network of friends I have and why it’s so important to carve out time with them. As I’ve moved through each new stage of my life, I’m grateful that both my friends and I have made a more concerted effort to stay close.

Feel free to e-mail me about friendships, Chinese, teaching, puppies, and any other thoughts

Rebecca Flink
New York, NY