Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I’m giving you control over my life

Here, take the reins to the last months of my twenties. No, for realz. Play ‘Choose your own Adventure’ with a real person.

I am prepared to leave my job, my city and my friends to live out the path constructed by The Listserve’s collected trail markers. By relinquishing control of my time I want to weave a string of experiences that will connect this group of minds in a way that might change more lives than just my own.

I will create and document this journey that brings The Listserve’s ideas to life. I have a couple months and a couple grand I’m willing to invest in this adventure. Keep this in mind when suggesting hot-air balloon piloting or hiking from Patagonia to Alaska. Otherwise, share the things that move your soul. I want to show how much life can be lived with very little.

In my travels I've been to the Maha Kumbh Mela in India and walked 7km to bathe in the Ganges with millions upon millions of other people. I've been held at gunpoint by government soldiers in Conakry. I've been in love in Borneo and lonely in Peru. Each of these experiences have shaped me into who I am today. My time traveling has been about doing what I want, and now I want to relinquish a portion of my volition to do what you want. Sculpt me.

You will own this time. Give me an experience I cannot find on Google. A destination not on a map. A lesson not in a book. Introduce people without Wikipedia bios. Go beyond the bucket list and send me to the core of the human experience. If it’s not illegal, harmful or going to give me the clap, I’ll do it and share the experience with you on my website. Remember, this all starts with an email from you. I’m waiting. Chop chop.

This is it. This is life. Let’s live it together.


Over four years I traveled to 32 countries as a videographer and documentor for a gonzo composer who calls himself Whatthe Animalssay. He writes, composes and records music from a mini studio packed in his bags. Each album he makes is the product of a particular place and time. Music is only released digitally to avoid using resources. I love not only his music but how he’s chosen to live his life and create his art. He lives his craft and is an endless source of inspiration to me. I hope you take the time to listen to his work on Bandcamp.

San Francisco

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This is your captain speaking...

Well, not yet. But I'm going there. I am changing my life from an average manager to an airline pilot.

TLDR: Go fly! 

I'm writing this at 36000 feet while Aeroflot A330 flies me to JFK from Moscow. This is my fourth flight to the US in the past 12 months. This week I will have my commercial and multiengine pilot check rides. This will be the end of a first step of becoming a professional pilot - something I wouldn't believe just 2 years ago.

They say money is the force that makes airplanes fly. But it also takes passion. And support from family.

Just over two years ago I was a 31-years old well-paid manager in the booming Russian Internet industry. I had a childish dream of flying, and I shared it with a woman I'd just started to date. But I had never made a single step towards my dream before. She wanted me to be happy so she gave me a present - a 30 minutes ride on a powerful soviet propeller-driven Yak-18T. And that was the beginning of a new me. I married this woman, we're expecting a baby in a month.

I became a private (amateur) pilot. Later I quit online industry and focused on flying, that was half a year ago. It took me quite some time to make this decision and then a nice amount of money to move that direction. I know that now for some years I won't be able to earn as much as I used to. But I love flying. Being a good pilot is all about studying, improving, learning, advancing. I hope that in a few years I will address my passengers as a captain, and my speech will be loud, clear, friendly and informative - that's what I've been always missing as a passenger.

If you haven't done so, call to the nearest general aviation airport and ask them how you can have an introductory flight with a local flight school or club. In Russia you can find a list at my hobby website, just google for "avialog".

Some principles I would like to share:
- Avoid bad people in your life. It's better not to engage in any business with a moral bastard. Life can be much better if you focus on good people and, of course, on your family.
- Family is important. It's so good when somebody's happy to see you back at home. Especially when you're a pilot. Also, people trust you more.
- Better leave politics to politicians, don't let them brainwash you. Don't believe all the media reports about Crimea. If you're not there, don't judge. Be more skeptical and read more history.
- You will be a solid person if you respect others and don't tolerate disrespect to you.
- Impressions during travel must be shared. Travel the world, judge less, listen more.
- Believe in science and human mind. We fly because of science, not prayers.
- Flying makes you feel happy and alive. Go fly!

Quite a few readers of this email know me personally, so I'm sending Privet! (Hi in Russian) to them.

I hope I didn’t sound too much like captain obvious.
Send me an email with any kinds of questions or thoughts.

Boris Tylevich
Moscow, Russia

Monday, April 28, 2014

Listen up you slimy wogs

All right listen here you disgusting slimy wogs,

My name's Kevin, and I write you from USS WAYNE E. MEYER, a US Navy
destroyer currently just getting started on a lengthy deployment in
the Pacific. I'm new to the Navy- I showed up to the ship two days
before we deployed a month ago- so I don't have loads of sea stories,
but I've figured a little bit out.

So what does the US Navy do on deployment? We spend a lot of time
training- far more than I would have guessed prior to coming aboard.
Damage control scenarios, man overboard scenarios, practice gun
shoots, briefs, and constant, non-stop flights by the helos embarked
for the length of the deployment- it makes for a pretty busy schedule!
But we're out here to perform a variety of missions- to reassure our
allies of our commitment to the region, help keep the sea open for
international trade, respond to any crises slash natural disasters
that might arise, and more- so we have lots of training to do to be

Anyway, as one of King Neptune's newest trusty shellbacks, I figured I
ought to teach you a bit about the ways of the Order of Neptune. You
see, when ships cross the Equator (as we did recently en route to
Tahiti), King Neptune, along with Davy Jones and the rest of his royal
retinue, always drops by to ensure the crew is worthy to serve him as
honorable shellbacks. The specific steps of this process are not
rightly sent out in an email to thousands of people, but it involves
the slimy pollywogs (that's you) dressing up to entertain the crew's
trusty shellbacks with song and dance. The next day the wogs are up
early to enjoy a special nautical breakfast, and then they must be
"cleansed" of their sliminess before their presentation to King

Charlie Darwin himself crossed the line aboard the HMS Beagle in his
journeys south to do big science, and the ships' captain, Robert
FitzRoy, shared in his journal a neat little rhyme describing the

Deep was the bath, to wash away all ill;
Notched was the razor—of bitter taste the pill.
Most ruffianly the barber looked—his comb was trebly nailed—
And water, dashed from every side, the neophyte assailed

Indeed! (As the rhyme suggests, crossing the line ceremonies have
traditionally involved some pretty serious hazing. Today's Navy does
things differently of course, and it was interesting to see how the
sanctioned events attempt to maintain the tradition while ensuring
safety and a lack of hazing.)

That's all I've got to share for now- if you have any of your own sea
stories, or questions about the Navy, or just want to say hello, shoot
me an email! And especially if you reside in San Diego- that's where
I'll be when the ship's not deployed, and I'm always up to meet new
friends. Especially if you speak Arabic.


Kevin Donahue
San Diego, CA

A quick p.s.: if you are looking for a good charity, might I recommend
the Collateral Repair Project, an organization located in Amman,
Jordan, that helps some of the country's many Syrian and Iraqi
refugees by providing for basic needs like food and household goods.
The number of refugees, particularly given the ongoing conflict in
Syria, is really overwhelming, and it's a very worthy cause!

A quicker p.p.s: If you are looking for a book, Lawrence in Arabia, by
Scott Anderson, is a good read. T.E. Lawrence was a pretty sweet dude.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Hi everyone,

I have chosen a whole number between 1 and 200, inclusive.
Please respond once to listsurfinusa[AT] with your guess of my number!
Also include three words in your response if you are able to think of that many.
I will make a beautiful song for each person who guesses correctly by the deadline (23:00 UTC on 4/28/2014). The song will incorporate the words.

I'll post the songs to SoundCloud, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts with username listsurfinusa, and I will announce the number on Monday, April 28 on those sites. I won't publish anyone's email address.

Don't be afraid to look after your health. Go the extra mile to understand where your friends, loved ones, and acquaintances are coming from. Realize when you are wasting time and change it. Be confident because wow I have never met someone so great as you.
Have a wonderful day~~
ミ ͡°◞౪◟ ͡°ミ

Austin, TX

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Growing Old is a Privilege.

I keep a photo at my desk of a smiling 17 year old showing off the stitches imprinted on her elbow from where she got hit by a pitch hours earlier. I coach high school softball in the spring, and that afternoon, Ky was beamed in the elbow by the fastest pitcher in our Regional. Getting hit really pissed her off, so she stole second and third base on the next two pitches. The fire in her eyes is one of my favorite coaching memories. Ky loved the sport. She worked hard, always asking me to hit a few extra fly balls at the end of practices in the summer. She was incredibly goofy, bringing infectious laughter to the whole team, and was loved dearly by everyone. On a sunnySunday afternoon, Kylie lost control of her vehicle. She wasn't speeding. She wasn't texting or talking on her cell phone. A millisecond sooner or later and she would have missed the tree that took her life. There isn't anything to blame or a cause to get behind that would have prevented her accident. There is no reasonable explanation why she isn't here today. She will be 17 forever.

When I was 17, I crawled into the hospital bed of an 8th grade boy. He'd been fighting cancer on and off since kindergarten, and during the last year of his life, we became friends. One of his nurses came in, and he squeezed my hand while she administered drugs into his IV. Keith had always told us it was okay to cry, and as a few tears slipped out with his pain, I handed him a tissue. We laughed about how the first time he had a girl in his bed, he was crying in front of her. Keith passed away two days later.

I'm not sending out invitations to my pity-party. I simply want to share with you the first two thoughts that run through my head when I hear someone complain about turning 30 (or 40 or 50 or 27). There have been so many young people in my life that won't be seeing 30, and I'm sure they would have loved to celebrate another birthday instead of the cruel fate they were dealt.

I'm 27, I've been married for two weeks and two days, and I have incredibly loving and supportive people in my life. I am not shy about telling them how much I love them and need them in my life. Take time today to shoot a text or an email or a call or a snap or a high five to someone you care about. Don't let your love go unsaid.

My three pieces of wisdom:
1. Donate Blood. (If you say you don't want to do it because you don't like needles or it hurts, remind yourself of what the person on the other end is probably going through when they receive it. My guess is it's a lot worse than a needle prick.)
2. Pick up litter. (I know you aren't the one who put it there, but you should be the one to pick it up.)
3. Be kind.

Song: "Don't Wait" by Mapei

Randi S.
Coon Valley, Wisconsin

PS. If you shop online with Amazon - Register at amazonsmile and choose Ataxia Telangiectasia Children's Project to give your purchase a little more meaning. Kids with rare diseases deserve first-rate research.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Hi. I'm graduating from college in a couple weeks. I'm scared. I'm excited. Maybe more excited than scared. I'll be honest, I'm looking forward to actually having money. I'll miss beer pong though...I don't think you can be a real adult if you keep playing beer pong.

Class of 2014 is ready to kick some ass.

Unrelated: if you want to talk about music or programming shoot me an email, I happen to love both of those things.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What would YOU do?

Hey happy campers,

Ever had a "Heart of Darkness" moment? Where you find yourself peering down a very black tunnel, looking for a glimpse of light. But instead of light, you see your darkest self?

You know the one. Though you won't want to admit it. Not even you, that gave birth to this creature, can bear to look at it. You've hidden it from even your closest, dearest, most intimate friend, lover, partner, self. The chill grabs your gut, freezes your brain, stops your heart. You, at your worst, when nothing can stop you from destroying everything you've tried to create.

Method, reason, love, ideals... all cancers you must, this very moment, root out and obliterate.

You struggle to understand, but it's stronger than you. It doesn't matter how you approach this moment: THIS moment has no compassion, no logic, no morals. This is decay, entropy, nothing. Christianity without resurrection, Islam without Allah, Buddhism without enlightment, you without any redeeming values.

No, it can't be! Life, love, technology, lol cats, the royal we... must always find a solution.

But, no. You're pissing your pants, you're swallowing hard and you're silently screaming for mercy from a merciless self. There are no extenuating circumstances. No denying. It's all your responsibility and yours alone.

Another moment and you and your world will be infinitely sadder and poorer. You know it. Done or not done; you've allowed it to happen.

You've shat your principles. Lost all sense of direction. It's a forced march. There's no turning back. No destination.

From this hellhole that is your new reality, what would YOU do?

David M
Ground 0

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We're all normal... get over it and enjoy yourself. Also, change all your passwords - search for heartbleed.


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Next What's For Lunch App

I often get asked why I pursue social justice. My mother was super involved in extra-curriculars (PTA, Girl Scouts, etc) but we never volunteered as a family. I've always been internally motivated - I found Alternative Spring Break my freshman year at University of Illinois. ASB is an organization that sends service learning trips for college students over academic breaks. The focus is more on education and changing the individuals on the trip than on service. I went on 7 trips in 5 years, issues ranging from Hunger and Homelessness to Youth Literacy to Environmental Issues, served on the planning board, and made friends that I can't imagine life without. I'm still involved in by serving on the Board of Directors for Break Away, overseeing the national movement of service learning trips and building lifelong active citizens.

I get frustrated when so many smart brains spend their time building the next "What's for Lunch" Apps - so many people only see "First World Problems" and spend a ton of time, money, and smarts solving non-problems. (That's not to say I won't pay $.99 for that Whats for Lunch app. A girl's gotta eat.)

After graduating with a degree in General Engineering and a minor in computer science, I went to work for Accenture. I spent most of college thinking I would join Teach For America; I felt like I was selling out when I joined. Post Accenture I served as as IT manager and eventually Interim VP of IT for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a non profit focused on early childhood education in the US. It turns out the skills I picked up at Accenture working for "the man" are incredibly invaluable in the non-profit world - an industry that drastically needs data and technology help and smart brains to solve big problems.

I currently work at a startup called GiveForward - we are a crowdfunding platform for medical expenses. If you know anyone that has Medical related expenses (even pets! or travel related to medical procedures) check out GiveForward, start a fundraiser, and email me about it - we've raised over $90 million dollars for individuals in the US. We have a collection of amazing stories - Pat and Jess that were injured in last year's Boston Marathon Bombing and Lacey Holsworth, an 8 year old girl that befriended a Michigan State Basketball player. We we share stories amongst our staff that will have you crying at your desk - sometimes tears of joy, sometimes genuine tears of sadness.

I have a few asks for you :
I'd love to hear the causes/big problems you care about. Find me on Twitter @Lnhaynes or email back here!
Learn a little bit about Human Centered Design (there's a course by Ideo and Plus Acumen that's free) and find a way of identifying and solving a real problem.
My birthday is April 28th. For my birthday I'm raising money to help Break Away build out it's website - the website cost was about 3x what we expected it to be, $15,000 in total. If you'd consider checking out my campaign, that would be awesome. To find it, go to Razoo and search for "Lauren's Birthday - Give Break Away a New Website"
Check out these other organizations I love :
Dance For Parkinson's
University YMCA - Champaign, IL
United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee
Splash - Seattle, Washington
2nd Story Chicago
Streetside Stories, San Francisco, CA

Lauren Haynes
Chicago, IL

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Near Death

Hello listservians!

I was 48 years ago ( a few years ago, im 52 now) I was out of a job, but working for friends, scraping by, looking for another job, pretty stressed out (working in computer support, hating it) Overweight, didn't exercise, ate ok, but not the best. (Texas BBQ hard to pass up) Had a long suffering wife and a beautiful young daughter> my previous job was sitting in a chair 10 hours a day, helping others with computer issues. One night, after a big meal of brisket, I went to bed.
My daughter, who was 8 at the time, came into our bed room a little scared of something and wanted to sleep in our bed. She had not done this in at least a year or so.
I got up, let her slide in between my wife and I and, at this point I noticed my arm hurt, like I had slept on it funny. I decided to go downstairs for an advil, and by the time I had got downstairs, I was sweating and my fingers were going numb. I went back upstairs and google these two things. webMD only said "CALL 911" which I did
I woke my wife, told her and she got up and started getting things together. At this time my chest hurt, my neck hurt, my hands and fingers were numb. The 911 operator had told me to chew up some aspirin, which i had done. My chest REALLY hurt now, exactly like they describe it. An elephant sitting on it. A big one.
The EMS paramedics got there in 5 minutes. They put me on a gurney and got me to the hospital in 8 more minutes. They rushed me in, had a doctor there waiting, xrayed me determined I had blockage in "the widowmaker" Left anterior Descending. The artery that feeds blood to the heart. He stented me, I was wheeled into the recovery. felt great. Next thing I knew, i was woken up by about 300 joules of electricity. This happened about 8 more times. Not fun, extremely painful. They finally got another stent into me and got my heart started again.
It seems that the first stent had collapsed and caused complete blockage of my LAD, essentially killing me, Not fun. But after 4 days in CICU I walked out.
Really happy to be alive. My wife and I dropped meat and dairy and eggs from our diet, I lost 50 pounds, in 2 years got a great result on all my labs and stress test.
I had known I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but did nothing about it. I did not drink, smoke, use any drugs of any kind except for advil.
I am lucky to be alive, but now feel a little like i'm not so indestructible as I did before, and I worry sometimes I will not wake up when I go to bed. I hope that feeling goes away.

Feel free to email me about anything, I would love to hear from any of you!

Stuff I listen to:
Portugal The Man
Foster the people
Kid Karate
Still love Stephen King
anything by a comedian
Iain Banks (Greatest sci-fi author ever, recently past away)

Be Nice,
Jim Koppenhaver
Austin, Texas

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I know why we're all unemployed

We were born in the 80s and 90s, a privileged generation riding the greatest economic boom in recorded history.
They told us that specialization was for insects. As tomorrow's leaders, we should broaden our horizons with band and orchestra, soccer and swimming: without this cultural grounding, we'd be laughed out of Park Avenue, forced to work at a second-rate firm.
Today, the second-rate firm is bankrupt and Park Avenue isn't hiring.
We'd declare bankruptcy if it would wipe out our student debt.

Our majors were English and History, Psychology and Sociology.
We wanted to be well-rounded heirs to the economic throne.

Now, we live with our parents.

We are capable, but our education prepared us for the 20th century.
We learned how to run shopping malls, not app stores.

In 2014, even entry level positions are hard to come by.
Without a PhD in Computer Science, how can we compete in the 21st century economy?

I've thought a lot about our generation's brutal underemployment.
The closest parallel I could find was the Industrial Revolution.

Once factories took over America, millions of farmers found themselves unemployed.
But a few years later, most of these same farmers became top-notch factory workers.

The same thing is happening right now.
There's infinite profit potential on the Internet, but most people have no idea how to uncover it.
The new age of work will be far more entrepreneurial, no longer consolidated amongst a few giant corporations. Why work for Walmart when you can make more money at home?
Best of all, the future has already begun.
If you know what you're doing, you can make a great living online with no real technical skills.
There are a ton of weird niche activities and markets you can get involved with online.
It's a world full of Bitcoins and banner ads, a libertarian wonderland where profit is the only constant.

The knowledge is out there. Google and Wikipedia alone will teach you everything you need to know.
Good luck!

Selfless Plug:
My company is hiring interns, both physically in NYC and remote / Internet only.
It's a fairly entrepreneurial startup where pay is based on measurable performance.
We're going to legitimately train and manage you, so it won't be a coffee-gopher-ship.
Reply to this email if you're interested.

Thanks for reading my email. Keep it real!
Jim S.
New York, NY

Friday, April 18, 2014

Excerpts from Three Books

“...But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?...‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.
Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”
“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there...Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness...I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden
You have to carry the fire.
I don't know how to.
Yes, you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don't know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It always was there. I can see it.

- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

May I never be complete.
May I never be content.
May I never be perfect. 

- Chuck Palahuniuk, Fight Club
I wanted to share these excerpts from three of the books I most cherish. If you haven’t read one of them, or any of them, you really should. They are excellent. 
Words are beautiful and sacred. Handle them with care. 

With Love,
San Diego, CA

P.s. If there is anyone out there who is going to law school, or is practicing in the legal field, I would love to hear from you. I will be attending UCLA Law School in the fall and participating in their David Epstein Public Interest and Law Program. I would greatly appreciate any advice you may have!

P.s.s. Thank you Amie for being my friend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Recently I almost died. My esophagus tore open when I was cycling the Alpine Dam/Seven Sisters loop, just north of San Francisco.

My chest blew up like a balloon. I went to the hospital that evening. They said I had about a 60% shot at making it more than a day or two.

I was alone in the hospital all night. My extended family lives far away, and my wife couldn't leave work.

That night I realized I'd never confronted what it meant to die.

I'm a young guy, early 30s. At an intellectual level I know I won't live forever. And out of vanity and ego, I've always told myself that I'll die without fear and without regrets.

It turns out that looming death makes that kind of knowledge cold comfort, and reveals the flimsiness of those self-perceptions. I was afraid I'd die alone and I regretted that I hadn't done more with my life.

And most of all, I realized I didn't know how to die well. If I had gone that night, I would have gone out gasping and terrified, not with grace, love, and simplicity. 

In the end I lived (clearly!). But the question remained: how does one confront death honestly?  

Here's the best answer I've found so far. Apologies to Thich Nhat Hanh, for so roughly approximating his thoughts on the matter. Here goes.

The ocean is full of waves that go up and go down. Some are towering and immensely powerful, others small and gentle. They start far out at sea, and then they crash on the beach and are gone. At the same time, a wave is the water. And the water is the wave. You can't separate the two. When the wave crashes, it becomes water again...which it always was.

The beginning and end of a wave are like a person’s birth and death. We are ourselves, and we are also made up of everything else: other people, the earth, plants, sun, the sky, and all the elements. We are and have always been inseparable. And we begin, and ultimately, we die. And when we die we become what we have always been: everything else.

And while we celebrate the birth of a wave (so exciting to see one coming!), we don't mourn its death. Because we know that wave is the water, and the water still lives, and will live for longer than we can imagine.  

We're like the waves. We’re born and we die, and at the same time we're not born and we don't die.

That’s it. Reach out anytime! Always happy to meet fellow "waves" on this trip across the ocean. Especially if those waves like road biking, craft beer, and video games. :)

San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Enlarge your peanuts

1/ What I like to read in Listserve is quick stories about people, so here is mine : My life was a mess, I've been unemployed for years around my 30's, it was really hard for me to get out of this situation because I'm terrible at selling myself. Now my life is still a mess but I've found a good job so it's easier. I like spaghettis.
2/ Stop being selfish, seriously. I might cross your path someday and I don't like selfish people.
3/ I wish I had discovered sooner AFS (American Field Service - it's not what you think, if you think you can guess by the name, or if you think it's somehow related to spaghettis).
4/ When your story isn't interesting, add spaghettis.
5/ If necessary, add spaghettis to spaghettis.
6/ Spaghettis spaghettis spaghettis.

Simeon Rouflaquette

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Odds of Winning (and Other Interesting Things)

The odds of winning the listserve on your birthday are roughly 1.14 in 10 million, if that is not enough evidence that I'm one of the luckiest humans alive, I don't know what is; I received my winning email on the 13th of April, or my 17th Birthday.

But well, speaking of odds, The incredibly low odds that a complex interaction of different chemical substances produced on the death of different stars would give rise to a conscious living organism who is currently writing an email to other fellow living organisms living on a tiny little rock orbiting a medium-sized star in a galaxy that contains between 100 and 400 billion stars make the 1.14 in 10 million figure just a cake-walk, so I'm probably not as lucky as I previously thought; Thanks Science for giving us the ability to accurately asses probabilities and for proving I'm not especially lucky at all..

Speaking of Science, I think that the solution to most human problems will come through technological advancements and science; They have given us tools that have dramatically revolutionized our lives for the better, nevertheless, I think that all the recent and not-so-recent technological advancements are just the icing on the cake, from the Steam Engine to the Internet, we're just beginning to recognize how much technology and science can change our lives.

If you liked the last part, you'll sure like Michio Kaku's recent books (Physics of the Future and The Future of the Mind); If you are unhappy or feeling depressed, you should read The Enchiridion by Epictetus and The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, both are books about the paradoxical achievement of happiness through accepting that negative phenomena may affect your life; I've lost a sizable amount of weight just by watching the total amount of calories I eat, I'm living testimony to the fact that you can lose weight while eating chocolate and ice cream every single day, if you're interested, read up The Hacker's Diet by John Walker, it is available completely free-of-charge online and the information it provided has changed my life.

If you love science, mathematics, like to debate politics or like talking about anything that is interesting enough for intelligent conversation, I'd love to hear back from you; and if you ever find yourself in a vacation near Cairo, Egypt where I live, drop an email! I'd love to have a drink or two with you.

Ahmad Khaled
Cairo, Egypt

Monday, April 14, 2014

Playing into the Hands of the Terrorist

In lieu of brute force, the terrorist uses fear. For fear is a great weapon. When you are afraid of your fellow passenger and suspect of your neighbor, that is when the terrorist has won. For he has turned society on itself.

A terrorized society is not only decapacitated, but also vulnerable, simply because scared people are easy to manipulate. You will notice that, as a side-effect, power-hungry people will use your fear to gain power. What was once a real threat is now a perpetual bogeyman used to limit your freedom and further sustain your fear.

So how do you fight terrorism? With strength. With cooperation. With self-confidence. With reliance in numbers. The terrorist does not have enough power to cause substantial damage. He can perform acts designed to induce fear, but in reality the probability of getting hurt is extremely small. Believe in that. Secondly: stick together. Don't let fear make you introvert. Talk to your fellow passenger and neighbor. Get to know them. This way, we can make it harder for the terrorist to blend in and simultaneously keep morale up together. Lastly, don't feed the power trolls. Don't give up your freedom for a false sense of security. False security is the business of the mafia, not the government.

Instead give directed power to well-established institutions. Give crime-fighting organizations like the police an appropriate budget for investigating terror-related crime, along with powerful tools to use on suspects. But only when there is reasonable suspicion. This is the only method which has been proven effective in catching terrorists, contrary to what some propaganda would like you to believe.

Don't approve of blanket searches. Don't accept "generous" interpretations of your constitution. Don't give the government power to read your mail, e-mail and social network posts. Or to film you on every street corner. Don't relinquish power to organizations which answers to no-one but themselves. Please think about what these systems will degenerate into.

Let us not buy into the war-inspired territorial thinking as a mechanism of security. Isolationism is dangerous. Just look at the nationalism and isolationism prior to the world wars. Do we really want to revert the globalization which the last decades of information sharing has brought about?

Please fight this threat while maintaining integrity. This is a fight for our right to keep our democratic principles. So let's not abandon them in the heat of the moment. For if we do, we are playing right into the hands of the terrorist.


Alexander Torstling
Stockholm, Sweden

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where From Here?

Hello, my name is Ben Perlmutter. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in computer science in 2012. I now work in presales for a software company in the Bay Area of California. I have a technical background but I my day-to-day is a sales role. Essentially, I am a sales consultant at Workday.

I am from Big Sur, California. It is a beautiful tourist destination. If you ever go there, you need to stop at my family's restaurant, the Big Sur River Inn.

I went to Cornell University. There I sang in the Glee Club (60 voice male choir) and the Hangovers, the a capella subset of the Club. It was a great experience. Both groups are world class and you should check out our Youtube accounts to get acquainted with our music. Just search the internet or Youtube for Cornell University Glee Club and/or Cornell University Hangovers. You Got a C is a classic Hangovers tune, please check it out.

And my last plug: Check out Sam Breslin. He's the dude singing the solo on the version of You Got a C with 25,000 views. He is an incredible musician and he has an awesome EP. Look him up on Band Camp.

Lastly, I will tell you all that my goal in life is to be happy. For that means raising a beautiful family and being able to provide for them in such a way that they are able to have everything they need to flourish. After all, we are animals right? And isn't the most animalistic idea of life the need to pass on one's own genes? That is what I think life is all about. I want to pass on my genes and give my offspring the best chance to survive.

Lastly lastly, I do not believe in God. I do believe in some greater being. And I know that being is related to the stars and their movements.

Good luck all!

Oakland, California

Saturday, April 12, 2014


More often than we think, it is better to be kind than to be right.

Jonathan Kaufmann
Dublin, Ireland

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Entrepreneur Journey

I am not 100% sure why I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I have a couple of ideas. My grandfather was his own boss, he was a lawyer and managed a bunch of real estate. He was always hustling, even in his late 70s, 80s and didn't really retire. I met a family friend many years ago who told me that my grandfather was the hardest working man he knew. My father is a retired doctor who has been very innovative and creative in his practice. He is well respected around the world by his peers and his patients loved him. He continues to do research, further innovating and pursuing medical discoveries for everyone's benefit. Both my father and grandfather were very hardworking and their work was a big part of their identity.

I've started two companies, one we sold about 10 years ago. I was part of the founding team of another startup before that. I've been in the tech, startup world since the first dot com wave and can't imagine doing anything else or wanting to do anything else.

My current company, Flowboard, is in the process of breaking through and disrupting a huge industry. My and my team's motivation isn't the payday, although that is a welcome outcome.

Our drive is to innovate, make a dent, alter history, create positive change, empower voices and make effective presentations and good storytelling easy and accessible to everyone.

Anyone can have their own entrepreneur journey and I encourage it. But. You need to have a passion for an idea or a product, a belief in yourself and the team you build, and the acceptance that it might fail. You are going to work harder with more sustained and dedicated time and energy than your friends and family who aren't entrepreneurs. They might not understand or relate to you, your journey or mission. Starting a company is not for the faint of heart, but can be so rewarding on so many levels.

Thanks for reading my perspective and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your entrepreneur journey, if you choose to accept the mission.

- Brent
Seattle, WA

Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Open Letter To My Unborn Baby

Dear Baby M,

You don't even have a name yet, but someday when you learn how to google, you might find this instead of a trove of facebook photos cataloging your life which your father and I won't be posting. You're just about 9 weeks away from your debut in this world. The experience of carrying you these past 30 weeks has given me such an appreciation for the herculean effort that is creating a human life. As a second born, I'm in awe that my mother knew exactly what she was getting into and still wanted to do it again for me. That gift is something I think about paying forward to you every day that you're in there, growing and preparing for your first gulp of air.

I realize of course that getting you here is just the beginning. Your dad and I will spend the rest of our lives doing everything we can to ensure your happiness and safety. Our hopes for you are vast but also simple: to be kind, to be curious, to be thoughtful. We are the product of many generations of our ancestors, whose efforts led to every little thing that fell into place to bring us here and to find each other. We plan to instill all of that in you (including but obviously not limited to: an appreciation for a good burrito and genuine Texas barbecue, a love of the beach and the mountains, a desire to travel and an enjoyment of books).

Please know that you have been loved long before you created the chemical reaction that caused two blue lines on a pregnancy test. I hope this knowledge sustains you on the days that you find this world to be a gritty, tiresome and brutal place. I can't protect you forever from all of that but I can share everything good this world has to offer with you. So rest up, little one, there is so much in store for you!


Dear Listservers,

It might seem an odd choice to write this letter to a listserve of thousands of people scattered across the globe but in some way, it feels right to send it out into the universe. To those of you who are parents, I hope to be worthy of your courageous ranks. To those who are not, I hope you pause to consider all that it took to give you your shot.

Kristen Teraila
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Being alright

I sat at the table with a coffee gone lukewarm, gazing at the barista’s swirl. He’s drawing a pair of lines on the table with an imaginary pen.
“Unless we are identical people, Clarice, it’s two lines. The way we envision our lives – our preferences, our principles, our outlook – end up being two different lines.”
He’s visibly worried. It has been this way since we argued.
“And as a couple, sometimes we’re on my line and sometimes we’re on your line. You see, that’s what love is, the willingness to be on the other’s line. Sometimes that switch can be sold to one. I do my best to explain the whys don’t I?”
He’s always telling me that. Unless it’s a matter of preference, explain the whys.
“..but sometimes it’s just preference. And it’s at those times that switching over reassures the other that there is love. Love’s what gets you through that. But the discomfort of switching over adds up, you know? Fairness is another aspect of this. Very mathematically speaking, to be happy in the long term, we have to make sure it’s even, the sacrifices.”
Mathematically speaking? Han is always putting things into little buckets of logic. Just hug me goddammit. This’ll stop that moment.
“Sometimes you change for me, and sometimes I learn to expect less. And the other way around”
I am still quiet. His hair’s disheveled and he’s trying so hard to mend things, in his own way. He will not learn that this fairness he speaks of, if he earns by asking for it, will not seem as sweet. Just trust me, Han. Look at life many years from now and you’ll see that things were fair. I understand what you’re saying, and I am committed to the same thing. You having to say it is the shame. Time will go by, and one thing we know for certain today is that no matter how close we are, and how precise our life, one of us will die first. And leave the other with the burden of this measurement. Look then, Han, without loss shading that measurement ivory, or coating away its blemishes, and you’ll find your fairness. We just have to make it through today, honey. Today is what we have together. Just hold me, I am tired.
He reaches out and takes my hand still looking thoughtful, “I know you know all this. I should be quiet.”
“No, you’re right. I couldn’t have phrased it as well, but I think we want the same things and I am going to pay more attention”, I reply. My hand is on top of his now and we sit that way for a few more minutes. As I pull back to get up I say, “I am going to heat this coffee up and head back, feel better ok? We’re going to be alright.”

Rohit Varicatt
Chicago, IL, USA

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

About today

Hello, beautiful Listservians! I must say, you're looking great today.

I am sitting here on my end of this giant e-megaphone with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon (fellow pb lovers, you know this never ends well) in a state of semi-disbelief. Honestly, I never thought my turn would come and yet here it is, staring back at me in a blank email of endless possibilities. We've all thought about it - what would you say to the rest of the world in 600 short words? Well, I finally know what I want to talk about, I think on some level I knew all along.

I want to talk about you guys. And Einstein.

Once a day for almost two years, you've filled my inbox with something new. A story from a far away land, a learned lesson, a favorite recipe, a new book or music suggestion, some words of wisdom, some insight to vocations, hobbies, and passions, or just a simple hello. I'm even lucky enough to have received one (and you did, too) from my beautiful sister Riley. She introduced me to the Listserve and let me tell you, she is awesome. Anyways, you're a well-versed bunch, people of the world! And I've learned so much from all of you.

I'm imagining you at this very moment - all 25,000+ in one fictional composite being. You're anywhere and everywhere, on a crowded bus on your way work, scrolling through emails at your cubicle desk, escaping for a break on an awkward first date, sitting at an internet café on a tropical island in the south pacific, catching the first (or last) rays of sun shining through your bedroom window. The day is just beginning. Or maybe it's almost over. Maybe something has made today great, or not so great, sad, exciting, frustrating, just plain weird, or rather normal. Maybe today's your birthday... happy birthday!

And here's where Einstein comes in.

Entanglement is a word that physicists use to describe the phenomenon of how interacting particles maintain a connectedness with each other no matter how far apart they are. Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance" and it has yet to be explained by any theory. One, however, suggests that all particles on earth were once compacted together and, as a consequence, maintain a certain connectedness for eternity. Their common history makes them forever intwined.

For me, the Listserve has become a daily reminder of our own entanglement. Our days are filled with a million different things that set us apart from each other: goals we've set, things we're anxious about, events we anticipate, regrets, successes, interactions, challenges, and ofcourse the future, the big unknown. Regardless of everything, each minute of today will pass at the same pace for all of us. We're all here, owning today one moment at a time and doing it the best way we know how. It's pretty neat think of all us as somehow connected by this commonality of time, all together in one big messy network of entangled particles.

So, to you I say: Thank you for being you. Thank you or occupying your own unique little space on this earth and for filling your days with your passions, dreams, experiences, values, beliefs, insecurities, successes, failures, and great stories. Thank you for sharing them with me, I am proud to be a part of this. Keep asking questions, seeking challenges, smiling, and reminding everyone you love how much they mean to you.

Today is a new day. Don't worry, everything is going to be alright.

I'd love to hear from all of you! Tell me a story, let me know what's made your today special.

PS - Listen to "About Today" by the National. Or really, any song they've ever made... it's pure greatness.

Elena Bushell
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Monday, April 7, 2014

Where Are You From?

Where are you from?
By: A Third Culture Kid

“Where are you from?”
He asks with a smile
I’ve heard it before
I’ve gone through this trial
It’s not untrue
I lived there awhile
Traveled its highways
Going many a mile
From deserts to peaks
From cornfields to shores
I’ve seen many states
I’m keen to explore
“No, where are you really from?”
Where was I born?
That would be Montreal
“So you speak French?”
No, not at all
I moved to Toronto
When I was young
But English is not
My mother tongue
“Okay, but, where are you originally from?”
My parents were born
In the heart of Iraq
Upon hearing the phrase
He sits back in shock
“So … you’re Iraqian?”
It’s Iraqi, my dear Watson
“Then what languages do you speak?”

In what language do you laugh?
In what language do you cry?
In what language do you cope
When a loved one lays to die?
In what language do you love?
In what language do you hate?
In what language do you comprehend
What’s chance and what is fate?
In what language do you smile?
In what language do you frown?
You see it’s all the same my dear
From New York to Cape Town
In what language do you feel
The sting of war and pain?
In what language do you lose your home
And then rebuild again?
We are not that different
Ignoring race and creeds
We are all but human
With human wants and needs

In the hospital you’ll see
Emotions raging high
Carried on by wave and wave
Of hello and good-bye
Some are taken far too young
Some taken when it’s right
Some coming in to join the world
And blinking in bright light
Some realizing far too late
The love they should have shared
Some accepting their due time
And going well prepared
Let me share with you a fact
That few will understand
Inside that operating room, my friend
There is no human brand
You all look the same inside
Appendix, heart, and lung
Kidney, liver, spleen, and bowel
Pancreas and tongue
When we put you on that table
To try and save your life
Skin colour is of no concern
To us or to our knife

I don’t categorize myself
By a patch of land
I don’t identify myself
By merely where I stand
I don’t say I’m only a part
Of one particular race
At the end of the day, at the end of the night
I am merely in one place
We all come from the same dirt
We’re Earthings in our blood
And borders are but foolish lines
Drawn in clumpy mud

Where am I from? I’m from The World
The same is true for you
And with that I’ll leave you here
I bid you all adieu.

Larsa is studying medicine and surgery at The University of Queensland. She asks that you vaccinate your kids.

Larsa Al-Omaishi
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Some Podcasts I Like!

I’ll keep it simple. Short? No. But simple? Yes.
My favorite art form, above movies, tv, books, music, paintings, and cat gifs is podcasts. That’s not to say that I don’t love all those other things (especially cat gifs) but my podcast obsession trumps all.
And I like to think I know a good bit about podcasts, since I listen regularly to 45 of them. Which is too many. Like, seriously too many. I have to listen to most of them on 1.5 or 2x speed, and even then I end up with a huge backlog of episodes.Eventually I go through a purge where I just delete some old episodes and move on. There’s probably something poetic about that. Someone could probably make that a metaphor for an aspect of life.

Anyway, here are my top ten favorite podcasts:
10) Pop My Culture: Improvisers Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland talk about the week’s happenings in pop culture with a celebrity guest. It’s fun, it’s silly, and it’s always a blast.
9) The Mental Illness Happy Hour: Comedian Paul Gilmartin talks to guests of all kinds, from comedians to listeners to therapists, about mental health. The show is amazingly touching and has truly some of the best, most honest and open interviews I’ve ever heard.
8) How Did This Get Made? Comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Rapheal, and Jason Mantzoukas, along with another guest, all watch a terrible movie and spend an hour breaking it down.
7) Scriptnotes: Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin spend an hour every week talking in-depth about various aspects of screenwriting.
6) Doug Loves Movies: Comedian (noticing a theme?) Doug Benson runs a live movie-themed game show, featuring a rotating panel of awesomely funny comedians, actors, and the occasional musician.
5) The Indoor Kids: Comedian (it’s gonna keep going on like this…) Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon host the best video game podcast. I don’t even really play video games and I still love the show.
4) You Made It Weird: Comedian (I really like comedy. Deal.) Pete Holmes does crazy-long, crazy-in-depth interviews with one guest per week (usually a comedian.) They talk about the big stuff.
3) The Nerdist: Hosted by uber-nerd Christ Hardwick, it’s got excellent interviews with all kinds of great personalities, and has a really fun, enthusiastic, and friendly vibe.
2) Welcome To Night Vale: No description would do it justice, just listen and hear for yourself. All I will say is that it is beyond incredible. And stay out of the Dog Park.
1) Harmontown: Consistently the funniest 2 hours of my week. Community creator Dan Harmon and his friends do a goofy, off the rails, town-hall-esque live show every week that features rapping, ranting, and Dungeons & Dragons. It’s the best.
Some others that I recommend checking out: Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend, The Nerdist Writers Panel, Before You Were Funny, FeaB, Jonah Raydio, Who Charted, The Big Pull, James Bonding, and The Alton Browncast.
If you have podcasts to recommend, or just want to say hi (or have an internship to give a college computer science sophomore interested in writing and producing for film/tv/internet/radio…) email me, or hit me up on twitter (@AndrewTheWhip)
And if you like music and vlogs, check me on the YouTubes (TheAndrewWhipple) and, much more importantly, check my ridiculously talented friends Hannah Moroz and Kirstyn Hippe.

Andrew Whipple
Bay Area, but sometimes Seattle

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pass Me a Beer!

We're living in a renaissance.

While that could be true for many reasons, the specific reason I'm going to dive into today is beer. Yes, we're living in a beer renaissance, my friends; especially in the US.

For too long, when we talk about beer, the iconic fizzy water beverage comes to mind. My father, rest his soul, was a Pabst Blue Ribbon man. It's all he knew. While those big-name beers serve their purpose, there is a growing market of truly delicious beers sprouting out between the cracks. Now more than ever, consumers are discovering that the word "beer" means more than just a weak lager made by a company with a huge marketing budget. According to Beverage Industry magazine, the top craft beers enjoyed a 19.4% increase in sales last year. Society is branching out, and discovering the wonder of robust porters, citrusy bitter IPAs, sweet Belgians, cloudy refreshing wheats, and malty warm ambers.

With this market shift, people are rediscovering the lost concept of supporting small, local businesses. It's a great thing when the consumer can sit down at their local brewery and have a beer with the owner; someone on their level, just trying to make an excellent product. Suddenly, buying beer gives you a sense of contributing to your community; like you're making a difference.

I'm proud to live in Michigan, where we take our craft beer seriously. Grand Rapids, MI was 2013's "Beer City, USA" in a poll created by renowned beer columnist Charlie Papazian. Beer festivals all across the state are consistently selling out, bringing hoards of people who want to try all the latest and greatest brews. We have the big names like Bell's, Founders, and Short's... but the newer little guys are getting recognition too. It's not unheard of to drive an hour to check out the newest brewery opening up.

Now, you might be saying, "Gary, I don't like that fancy pants craft beer; it's too strong". I hear you. I was like you. I hated all beer at first, and when I finally grew to accept it, it was the standard "Light" selection. The first craft beer that I ever liked was Bell's Oberon summer wheat, which coincidentally was just released for the season this week. My advice for you would be to just dive in and start trying new beers. Go to your local brewery and order a "flight", a.k.a. a sampler tray. They'll give you a bunch of beers to try, and then you can start figuring out what you like. You might be surprised!

The other side of this coin is home brewing. Most people imagine that making beer is very difficult, but that's not really true. Beer, at its core, is four ingredients: water, malted barley (malt), hops, and yeast. That's it! Obviously the amounts and types of each of those things vary, and you can always add in more ingredients (ever had a beer made with baby formula? I have. It wasn't that great). If you're interested, find your nearest home brew shop and talk to them; they will get you started. Alternatively, there are some great online brewing stores.

That's all. I'll leave you with something unrelated to beer.

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known" - Carl Sagan
Speaking of Carl Sagan, watch the new Cosmos series based off of the original; it's excellent.


Gary Marshall
Troy, MI

PS: If you have any advice for an aspiring brewmaster, or excellent beer recipes, send them my way!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Story Time

Sadly, I don’t have any advice for anyone. Despite my early-20s narcissism I really don’t feel like there’s anything I could say here that you haven’t heard already in the form of quotes typed over Instagram-filtered photos and posted every day by your aunt-in-law on her Facebook wall.

What I do have are stories. What I do have is a love of them; that’s why I’m here reading yours, after all.

I’m single. I started dating and discovered something even more fascinating: I love first dates. It’s one of the few times you get to meet a stranger one on one and go for coffee or drinks and just tell each other all of your best stories. Where else, really, does this sort of setup happen?

Frankly, the dates themselves as romantic ventures didn't pan out, so I changed course and branched from the goal of finding someone into the goal of finding as many stories as I could. I started going on “dates” with everyone – friends, family, guys, gals, complete strangers. You know those people who you’re friends with, but only in that sense of ‘you knew them in highschool and they moved into your city a few years back but you haven’t actually seen them since then’ – those, I've found, are some of the best people. Not complete strangers - you have a reason to catch up with them - but also gone just long enough for all the stories to be cool and new to you. And, as a bonus, you usually end up as actual friends again. Good deal!

Even before I discovered this I would always be approached on the train by random homeless people. I have no idea why, but it’s nearly guaranteed: I’m like a strange conversation magnet. Before it was kind of weird and creepy, and you’d do your best to shut it down and shrug it off – now I try my best to truly engage that forthcoming honesty. Some of them are straight up crazy, I’ll admit, but if my times volunteering in soup kitchens have taught me anything, it’s that homeless people see some of the coolest things merely by being out in public and being understated, always silently watching.

This, incidentally, became one of my new tenets: get out more. You can’t see the world by lounging around at home. Pretend your city is somewhere completely new. Get lost. Talk to people.

I lied, I guess. Maybe that is advice.

If you’re in the Calgary area and want to go for coffee, let me know. If you’re in the Earth area and have a story either real or imagined, my email is below and I’d love to hear from you.

Stay awesome.

Calgary, Canada

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Here are three things I learned in the past month (fun facts, not life advice)

Below are three things that recently piqued my interest.

A backronym is a "reverse acronym," formed from an existing word or name. Examples include APGAR (a series of tests used to determine the health of newborn babies, named after the physician who developed it) and the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001).

Also of linguistic note: facetious and abstemious contain all of the vowels in alphabetical order.

Alison Jolly, primatologist:
I get the New York Times morning digest. Anecdotally, the NYT features a lot more dead men than women, so it’s something to get excited about when there are multiple women eulogized. I learned about Alison Jolly in February.

In short, Alison Jolly was a primatologist who focused on lemurs. She helped refute the theory that males are dominant in all primate species, including humans, a fundamental part of evolutionary biology at the time. Through her studies of the ring-tailed lemur, she presented an example of female leadership in primates, which at the time went against the accepted scientific canon. She had a new species of mouse lemur named in her honor in 2006.

Ghost ships and the Lyubov Orlova:
With the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight, there has been a lot of uproar over the fact that in this hyperconnected day and age, we can lose something so large. However, there are “ghost ships,” adrift in the ocean. For example, the former cruise ship Lyubov Orlova was drifting in international waters for most of 2013. A 730ft ship, it was more than three times the length of a Boeing 777. It hit headlines with rumors that it was drifting towards the UK with cannibal rats aboard, but it is now believed to have sunk off the coast of Ireland (though still in international waters).
What are you curious about? What is something that you were enthused that you learned about lately? What do you read to find interesting articles? Drop me a line – I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks to Morgan for introducing me to the Listserve!

Suze Morris
Cambridge, MA (via London and Philadelphia)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Math and Organization. What Fun!

Hello, Listservians! (Listservites? Listservants? Listservicals?)

Fun fact: The odds of someone winning the Listserve lottery in their first year of joining (if they joined today) are about 1.45%. The odds of winning it within 5 years of joining? About 7.04%
Note: I make a few assumptions with these estimations.
1. If you win once, you can win again
2. The approximate 25,000 Listservians remains constant

If each person is eliminated from the lottery once he/she wins, your chances don’t increase by much (fractions of a percent). And I would guess there’s some sort of slow exponential increase of Listservians over time. In other words, your odds of winning are pretty low and only decreasing.

On math:

I’m currently a math tutor. When someone says “I’m not good at math” I always tell them that some people are just more naturally skilled at certain things (like math). For those who are not as skilled, you have to work hard at it. Saying “I’m not good at (some skill)” to me means “I haven’t given this particular skill my very best effort.” I always tell my students that because they have to work harder, it means they’ll gain a deeper appreciation of that subject or skill.
Above was a general statement, not a catch-all for every single skill. I’m a tutor, not a life coach! Haha.

On organization:
You can organize just about every aspect of your life, so why not try organizing the time in your life? Try breaking your day / week down into a few different categories:

- Personal health and hygiene (e.g. sleeping, showering, eating, and exercising)
- Work (or school)
- Fostering social relationships (e.g. talking with friends and family, picking up chocolate for a friend, seeing friends)
- Errands / Life Maintenance (e.g. groceries, plumbing issues, paying bills)
- Self-Improvement (e.g. learning a foreign language, practicing a musical instrument, listening to an informative podcast, reading, exercising)
- Me time (e.g. watching your favorite TV show, taking time to decompress, enjoying some peace and quiet)
- BoguS (aka BS) time (watching an excess of TV, playing video games for hours, mindlessly wandering the Internet)

These categories can change from person to person (especially parents) but you can fit almost all your activities into one or more categories. Work and personal health take up a large portion of each day and week, so it’s important to cut down on the BS time and try to find time for Self-improvement and Fostering social relationships on a daily and weekly basis.
One activity can fit into multiple categories.
Also note that activities like your commute to work can be productive. I read on the train or listen to fun and educational podcasts so it can be counted as both “Work” and “Self-Improvement.”

Finally, “me time” is necessary for most people on a daily basis. Just make sure that your “me time” doesn’t turn into BS time.

On my favorite newsletters:
If you like the Listserve, consider trying some weekdaily newsletters: “Now I Know” by Dan Lewis and “Next Draft” by Dave Pell.
Now I Know is a “free daily email newsletter of interesting things, you'll learn something new every day.” Dan Lewis has perfected the “fun fact of the day.”
Next Draft is essentially your 5’o’clock news and morning newspaper in an email, except there’s no commercials and you get to read what you find most interesting. Dave Pell always has witty headlines.

Take care of yourself,

Eli Easty
New York, New York

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fast Friendships

Over the course of my life, I have had a handful of deep friendships that came suddenly and surprisingly and without any warning. They have been with people of different nationalities, ages, and backgrounds. Three are with men, and two with women. In each case, I was meeting with someone for the first time, usually for accidental or inconsequential reasons, sometimes standing in for a colleague. Each meeting I expected to be short and businesslike but each morphed quickly instead into a deep conversation between the two of us. Bertrand Russell described a similar experience in his first meeting with Joseph Conrad:

"At our very first meeting, we talked with continually increasing intimacy. We seemed to sink through layer after layer of what was superficial, till gradually both reached the central fire. It was an experience unlike any other that I have known. We looked into each other's eyes half appalled and half intoxicated to find ourselves together in such a region. The emotion was as intense as passionate love, and at the same time all-embracing. I came away bewildered, and hardly able to find my way among ordinary affairs." ("Autobiography." Routledge, 2009.)

The writer George Fowler in his book "Dance of a Fallen Monk" describes a similar first meeting. The intimate friendship between Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Lu Carr also developed quickly like this.

It is odd that so much has been written about love, yet so little about friendship - friendship seems to be the elephant in the room. And the few philosophers of friendship - Aristotle, Andrew Sullivan, AC Grayling - seem to believe that friends can only be made slowly. Andrew Sullivan, for example, says that unlike falling in love, it is impossible to "fall in friendship", a statement that is spectacularly false.

I feel the only way to adequately describe these encounters is from mythology: It was as if we were struck by an arrow fired by Cupid, the Roman god of attraction, or had magic dust sprinkled on us by forest sprites as happens in Shakespeare. But in none of my encounters was there anything sexual or erotic; indeed, none of these friends have the physical qualities that attract me, starting with the fact that three of them are the wrong gender. Rather, our encounters were meetings of minds, as if I was making contact with a long-lost twin brother or sister - someone who thinks very much like I do, but who knows different things, or has had different experiences. Since I long ago realized I think very differently to most everyone about most everything, to find even one person who thinks like me is astonishing. To find several is just awesome. These friends are my life's doppelgangers, my alter egos.

In every case, the experience was profoundly moving, and we developed into long-term friends. One person has sadly passed on. These friendships have led me to change my views on life significantly, as well as my jobs, and even my career. Their influence on me bring to mind the Zen saying: When the disciple is ready, the guru will appear.

One friend describes us as being virtual siblings, since we know each other as well as close brothers or sisters do, and we support each other loyally and without hesitation, through tragedy and triumph, as if we are family. My life is so much richer for these experiences that began in accidental meetings, that it is hard not to imagine they were shaped by some divinity, rough-hewn by us and all.

Muchas gracias, amigos.

Bahia Blanca, Argentina