Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Random [sic] Bullets

Listserve winners are supposed to avoid cliches. Here are some haphazard (random means something else) things you won't hear just anywhere.

Google "learn acbl". This will show you how to learn to play bridge (the greatest card game of all). You'll thank me once you turn 80.

There are two kinds of friends: those who are friends when you need them, and those who are friends when convenient. I don't judge, since I think each kind is valuable. I do think it's important to distinguish between them.

Spend as much as you can on your reading glasses. Seriously, get the most attractive frames in the world. Then, each time you wear them, you won't think "I can't believe I need reading glasses!".

Understand apologies (particularly if you want a long, happy marriage). In particular, this is an apology:

I shouldn't have done what I did. I am sorry. I know better now. It won't happen again. How can I make things better?

This is NOT an apology:

I am sorry if anything I said might have upset you.

This is SOOOO not an apology:

I'm wrong and I'm sorry. Keep in mind that everything I did is EXACTLY what I should have done and, faced with the same circumstances, I would do exactly the same thing. Again and again, forever, but I do apologize.

Star Trek II is the best movie ever.

So yoga...

Do pullups. My wife's cousin build his house with a three story rope in the center. If you ever meet this guy, he'll insist you won't be able to climb it. Be ready.

I have no kids. My best friend has four. I think this is perfect for each of us. He gets to rationalize his suffering, telling me I'll die alone. I get to sit down with some snacks and spend an hour listening to him complain about parenting so I don't feel like I've missed anything. It would be a little better if I didn't live 2,500 miles from my niece, but that's nitpicking.

A 600 word limit is strict. You can't even play with the font to cheat...

The human brain is wired for gratification. That's basically what gratification means, I guess. Studies show that lots of little goodies make you happier, overall, than one big one (think several vacations vs. a big house) because we adapt to luxury, quickly.

Similarly, anticipation is underrated. I always choose 10 day shipping from Amazon because it stretches out the anticipation, increasing my overall satisfaction. Strange but true.

Watch The Mighty Boosh.

When you're about to click send, check the "to" and "cc" lines. Again.

Really, check again...

Math Stuff:

George Box said "Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful." Keep that in mind with Big Data, Climate Change, Evolution, Particle Physics, etc. A model that describes reality is great, even if quarks are just mathematical constructs.

Read about Bayesian inference on wikipedia. It's popular now, so it's worth understanding. Make sure you understand how someone got a prior distribution before you believe their conclusions.

Read about linear regression on wikipedia. Anscombe's quartet is counter intuitive. Why? Because three of them don't meet the assumptions of the model. There, I said it...

In particular, google "standardized fruit regression".

Google banach-tarski-non-paradox. Mathematicians may tell you they can prove "you can cut a baseball into pieces, and re-assemble it into a basketball." Blah, blah. They don't understand the definition of the word "can".

The more someone insists they know the answer to the Monty Hall problem, the more annoying they are. They are just as wrong either way, though. This applies to me, too.

San Francisco, CA

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Joy of Languages & Advice

I speak more than 8 languages. But that wasn't obvious at all from the start. My parents don't know any foreign language and my first contact with another language was at high school. Classes were not particularly effective either - how could they be, with 45 minutes of speaking time divided between 25 students and a teacher?! I got C's and D's mostly. Until I discovered the internet. I found that I really wanted to be able to talk to people from all around the world.

German (my native language) didn't get me very far. English helped me make friends in the UK, Canada, USA and even as far as Australia. It was tempting to stop there, but I noticed that most of my contacts still came from Western countries and I didn't hear many voices from poorer parts of the world. Learning French, I suddenly had more contacts in many parts of Africa and the Middle East, where French is the language of higher education. Spanish opened up South America for me. Esperanto gave me a lot of opportunities to travel (google my name and "How Esperanto changed my life" if curious). Chinese provided amazing insights, since they basically have their own internet, just as large as ours but with different trending topics, different petitions, right down to different memes. A whole new world at my fingertips. Besides, speaking English in China I was seen as a walking wallet, while speaking Chinese earned me real friends and an unforgettable trip.

I love languages, I just had to try them outside the classroom. Classrooms are boring, real life is fun.


1. Look for the fun. Too many people think that language-learning won't "stick" unless they're bored. The opposite is the case. If you're having fun hanging out with foreign friends or reading cartoons, that's when you'll learn a lot, because the brain is relaxed.

2. Aim to spend 10 minutes studying languages every day. If you're tired, just watch "funniest Spanish ads" or whatever on Youtube for your 10 minutes, sing along to a song or read a newspaper article online. If you're more awake, study a course or learn some vocabulary. To increase your chances of studying every day, find stuff to do while commuting, cleaning or on lunch break, for example listening to podcasts or using a mobile app. Variety is the spice of life (and learning). Whenever you managed to do 10 minutes of study, mark the day in your calendar and don't break the chain!

3. Use any opportunity to apply what you learned. As soon as you know how to say "Hello. How are you?", start using those words with restaurant staff or other local native speakers. You can also find language exchange partners online.

For more tips, google "LearnLangs" (my blog). There are also other polyglot blogs, Youtube channels and forums giving tips on how to learn languages. Before you invest in an expensive course, check out what kind of high-quality courses are available for free online. I'm creating such a website myself right now, it's called LearnYu and will teach Chinese. At this point, there are so many resources that you can learn any major language for free online.

I'll leave you with something to think about: "Languages cannot be taught, they can only be learned". Start learning!

Best wishes,

Judith Meyer
Berlin, Germany

Sunday, September 28, 2014


An organizer of the Climate March in New York City over this past weekend said the following: “Organizing a big march is like throwing a rock in a pond: The splash is exciting but the real beauty is in the ripples”.

The Internet is the ocean and even the tiniest of pebbles will create ripples. Each Listerv posting is a pebble with ripples that reach many thousands all over the world. The question for us Listservians should be what can we accomplish together to begin to engineer change that does not involve governments or corporations?

My concern for the past six years has been with the ever growing crisis of families and their creatures becoming homeless, including myself and the cats. The cats, Charlie in particular, have not been impressed with my efforts to obtain justice in a clear case of foreclosure fraud by a major bank acting as a trustee for a Mortgage Backed Security (MBS). So, Charlie has made a video “Calling All Cats The Series”. Charlie will shortly be launching a fund raising campaign called Saving Our Humans........another pebble!

We are all faced with challenges and difficulties in our lives so how can we help each other and save ourselves, the creatures and our still beautiful planet?

If you live in the USA and you know of some family that needs help to avoid becoming homeless please e-mail Charlie through me at the e-mail below. If you want to help Charlie and his human (me) please e-mail me and I will let you know how.

Robert Ashley
Catskill Mountains New York

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I wrote this a few weeks ago in response to an Uncommon "prompted." Uncommon is another listserve email and I highly recommend it. Google uncommon in common and you should find it.

On June the 11th, my boyfriend and I were offered jobs in Belize. The catch....they needed us there on July 10th.

We had 29 days to divest ourselves of our home and a very large portion of our stuff and things. We never really considered ourselves particularly acquisitive or consumerist but my 37 years and his 42 years of accumulation added up rapidly.

As we had only a general idea of where we would be living when we arrived in a country we had never before visited, we didn't really know what we would need. But we did know that customs duty would have to be paid on anything we brought. So things had to go. The furniture was returned to my great-grandmother's country home for the most part or sold. The bulk of our clothes went to the goodwill (I wasn't going to need my "lawyer clothes" thank goodness). Our crystal, silver, china and art were parceled out among our closest friends so that they might have the enjoyment of it rather than it sitting in a box in a storage unit. In the end, we managed to reduce three thousand square feet (plus an attic & a basement) of goods and chattels to 149 boxes....many of them quite small boxes. We were proud.

I will admit that I cried over the books, all of the books, so many old friends.

In the course of that same 29 days, my boyfriend became my fiancé and then my husband.

So, we have been in Belize for 40 days and married for 50. Both of these things have required major adjustments. This isn't the first time I have lived abroad but it is the first time I left the States with no intention of returning. It's a different state of mind entirely. There is no concept of if this doesn't work out we can just ditch and go back. Marriage, it turns out, is much the same state of mind.

We have been told that we are amazing, and adventurous, and just plain crazy. We are all of those things. And we are more, we are growing and adapting and, mostly, we are just damn lucky.

That's our story to date....I would love to hear about the time any of you completely left your comfort zone and any advice you might have on transitioning from the first world to the third world.

Have a lovely day.

Maya Beach, Belize

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dear Listserve Readers, I had a message all prepared ages ag...

Dear Listserve Readers, I had a message all prepared ages ago and of course I lost it. So I am having to wing it now that the moment has arrived to write something.

No life message here. I am asking for tolerance of you all. I am Transgendered, which means in my case I was born a male and I feel and present myself (sometimes) as Female; I prefer to describe myself as a "Non camp feminine male". All I want is to be able to wear the clothes that make me happy wherever I happen to be, home, work, social places, everywhere. I ask only for the same freedoms of expression that the majority of women (in the western world) enjoy. Without fear of censure, ridicule, prejudice or violence. Is that so bad? Most of what we consider the socially normal Male/Female split in appearance has evolved and sometimes swapped over the development of our civilisations, many “Aboriginal” cultures accepted the different varieties of sexuality among their populations and it is only recently and in western and middle eastern cultures that prejudices against these different people have arisen. Either through religious ruling or individuals scared of their own sexuality, of being attracted to same sex persons who happen to be dressed as opposite sex, which suggests it may have been the clothing, the presentation that they were always attracted to anyway, not the person inside. So please think carefully when you see someone dressed in a manner you might not personally approve of and allow them to be themselves, they’re not actually causing you a problem are they? thanks for listening.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What are you doing right now? #TheListserveAndMe

It's a simple idea. There are so many people and so many different lives. I'm curious to find out more about you and the other 25,000 others on the list. So.. Where are you and what are you doing in the moments around reading this e-mail?

If you want to play along and put it out there for me and others to see, then upload a photo to Instagram right now and use the hashtag #TheListserveAndMe.

I'll go first.

Jutland, Denmark

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

(Four Score) And Over Seven Years Ago

I had to pick a song, during my first week of my freshman year in high school, that was supposed to represent me. Most of the class picked ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor, aka the Rocky song. I remember being particularly annoyed because I didn’t think these 14 year olds had a lot of ‘straight to the top’ survivor material, but perhaps it was more aspirational. I was never really able to do that, to say “this is how I’m going to succeed and just watch it’s going to be amazing.” I was more of a Little Engine That Could: I think I can, I think I can…

During college, I discovered someone else who had a similar style: the 16th President of the United States, better known as Abraham Lincoln. When running for the Illinois legislature, he wrote the following:

“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed. I am young and unknown to many of you. I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me. My case is thrown exclusively upon the independent voters of this county, and if elected they will have conferred a favor upon me, for which I shall be unremitting in my labors to compensate. But if the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the back ground, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined.”

He was 23 at the time, earnest, melancholy, and truthful. We would all look back now and say, but of course! Lincoln was always going to be President. He was destined for greatness. Maybe that’s so. But more often than not it’s perseverance, indecision, uncertainty, course correction, lots of standing still, impostor syndrome, and what feels like dumb luck. That’s the more common route to personal success.

For me too. I learned how to be good at my job by failing at it. I have never gotten a greater dose of preparation than the time I failed a college course with an 8% (though to be fair, passing was 12). When I finally got into a job I loved, I spent the first six months in awe of my luck. The next, terrified I would be fired for being awful at it. And another six months after that before I realized there was very little luck in involved. Working hard, showing up on time (mostly), always expressing a willingness to learn and try new things - these are things that got me there. Not luck. And failing had taught me how to admit defeat, when to ask for help, and how to break down what I didn’t know and cut through it piece by piece. If someone had told me that was what success meant, I don’t think I would have been quite so scared I would never get there.

But my freshman year of high school I was very uncertain, very earnest, and perhaps a bit too truth-telling. I picked ‘Hands’ by Jewel as my song. It was embarrassing in light of all the tigers in the room, but it’s what came to mind when writing this:

“If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be that we’re all okay.”

Brooklyn, NY

Monday, September 22, 2014


There is one thing, and only one thing I want you to take from this email, and that's the idea of consent.

It makes me really happy to hear stories on National Public Radio and other places talking positively about the general response to all these problems on college campuses. But sexual assault doesn't just take place in college. It doesn't just take place between strangers.

Our ideas about justice need to shift radically. Look into Philly Stands Up. Look into "transformative justice." Look into a book called "The Revolution Starts at Home."

"Wherever you go, however you dress, no means no and yes means yes."

I want to take a moment to address my male-identifying audience more specifically. You may think this issue doesn't affect you.

It does.

1 in 3 women are the survivors of sexual assault. And most sexual assaults go unreported. Do you have a sister? A mother, an aunt, a niece, a cousin, a grandmother, a partner, a friend? 1 in 3. You may think the issue doesn't affect you, but all it takes is one moment for a decision without thinking, one moment of carelessness. Then you've hurt someone forever.

Prison and punishment alone don't stop the cycle of violence. In a lot of ways, prison, the law, the courts, only promote the idea of violence, are a form of violence in themselves. We need caring communities. We need models of transformation that turns those who perpetrate sexual violence into responsible members of the community. We need to show each other care and love. It needs to start with each one of us, and not wait on the (often slow, often hurtful) apparatus of the state.

I have one chance to talk to thousands of you, and I'm spending it on telling you this: ask. Treat others as you would want to be treated. I've seen a lot of happy emails from the listserve, a lot of emails talking about start-up companies and travel and living the good life, people who are looking for their purpose in life. People with a lot of privilege. Put your privilege on the line and give time to people and organizations who need help combating sexual violence. If this email helps just one person, if it helps someone draw just one realization, if it gets just one more person talking with their friends or organizations about sexual violence, then I consider the listserve a success. But we need so much more than just one person.

United States

Sunday, September 21, 2014

meet me in the middle

I wrote this to my close friends exactly one year ago, when I first arrived to the Bay Area from far, far lands that I often miss. Consider this my tribute to all those who cross oceans and seas to seek and lose, and then find themselves, maybe.


I’m happy to report that I am spending considerable amounts of time in the kitchen now that I’m a grad student without a job (yet), and operating on limited ingredients sure makes whipping up a meal worth looking forward to on par with working on an art project in terms of the innovation required.

I gotta tell you though, I’m in love with the skies. Here they feel a lot closer to the ground, a moving canvas that draws you in while it rearranges its parts. San Francisco welcomed me at dusk. And as I sat in a speeding car on the highway with my back to the airport, I marveled at the beautiful eeriness that accompanies fog as it proceeds to envelop mountain tops and skies. It rolls in like a soft avalanche everyday at dawn, and I wait for it with the eagerness of the uninitiated. It is beautiful.

It’s been exactly one month since my arrival, and I find myself slowly slipping into the crevices of what makes everyday life, everyday life. I talk to people I don’t know and I smile back at those who smile at me.

My corner liquor store owner, who is Arab (I haven’t figured if he’s Lebanese or Palestinian yet), goes out of his way to infuse Arabness into my life - either by refusing my money when I dash into his store for a quick grab of gum/water essentials before my bus arrives, or by playing Najwa Karam (Lebanese singer, look her up) sporadically when he glimpses me approaching from a distance.

My days are often punctuated with unexpected gems that manifest while I listen to the most random, most profound, conversations on the bus as I make my way to and from school. Like the elderly man who wore a grey suit and matched it with an olive green checkered scarf to go with his grey-green-striped hat, who commanded everyone’s attention as he drawled in his thick, deep voice the beauties of the Rembrandt painting he held in his hands. A black* man. He said he was an artist and I was certain he was a nutter, despite his handsome attire. ’You know what this is? This is a Rembrandt painting, and it’s going on my wall. Ooooh yeah, it’s going right there on my wall’. At that moment, he appeared to me as though he was sitting on top of the world.

Or that other time when I sat across from a pretty girl with dimples, also black, who was talking to her friend about things I wasn’t present enough to pay attention to, until she suddenly started talking about one’s roots. She addressed her friend, a white girl, and declared that she was confused by her friend’s roots. That they were ‘thin and long, yet they were strong. That the roots were not proportional to the trunk of the tree, which is huge, and that they ran deep into the earth, but that they were slender.’ She thought that was weird. She had her eyes closed the whole time she was talking, as if she was imagining those very roots. She was slightly smiling. I smiled too.

* My references to skin color have more to do with my ongoing observations of race dynamics in the US than anything else. I’m also still learning about accurate forms of reference so if anything I say seems un-PC, please excuse me. It’s a process.


Happy to receive emails and tips on your favorite ways to make coffee.


San Francisco, California

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Change of plans

Hello everyone. I only had one idea for this email that I thought would be any good but then I decided it was condescending and dumb. Also I found out the night I'm writing this (well, about a half hour ago) that my girlfriend of almost four years may be ending things with me very soon and I'm pretty depressed. I haven't had to deal with this before. I don't want to be alone. I wish I had made different decisions. I'm guessing I'll feel better within a few days. I hope so, because it's really raw right now.

I don't want to waste my opportunity to send out a Listserve email though, so I'll give you some of my favorite quotes.

There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all. -Ogden Nash, poet (1902-1971)

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. -Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. -William Butler Yeats, writer, Nobel laureate (1865-1939)

Most people think that shadows follow, precede, or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories. -Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1928)

The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think. -Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)

Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. -Flannery O'Connor, writer (1925-1964)

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow. -Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

There comes a time in a man's life when to get where he has to -- if there are no doors or windows -- he walks through a wall. -Bernard Malamud, novelist and short-story writer (1914-1986)

Hopefully some of those are meaningful to you. Thank you for reading.

Fairfax, VA

Friday, September 19, 2014

If you like marriage or Leonard Cohen (also if you don't)

Spent most of your adult life away from your family? I have.

I live a few thousand miles away from my birth family, so having another family close by is a welcome gift--I married into one, for certain values of "married"--but it's a gift I'm still learning to appreciate, since I've been living this far away from my birth family since I was 17 and only got engaged much more recently.

I guess the only thing that makes this all noteworthy is that I'm gay, and obviously so is my fiance, and we're going to get married in Hawaii at the end of the year because our families will both be there at the same time. Also gay marriage is legal there, but that's kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, we can just do it in California first and then have a stress-free ceremony on the beach in Oahu since we'll all be there anyway. It's also all because of Justice Kennedy's opinion in Windsor, ultimately, I guess. So bravo, Justice Kennedy, and the senator of the same name that stopped Bork and ended up getting you nominated in the first place, way back when.

If you've read this far, I salute you, since that is saccharine bullshit. It's all true, too, but I'm also thinking of tossing myself in a mental institution for a week or so in the coming days. I have that thing white people get where we all get sad starting in the fall, but out here in San Francisco September is actually our June (followed quickly by several versions of our November and then a June again), so it's really unclear when fall starts. I have other problems too, but that's the main one in this particular case. I'm not really that fun I don't think.

So I guess here are my requests for people to internet-hang-out-with:
--People who want to help write a novel about the CIA response to China finding lots of oil in the international part of the South China Sea
--People who have experience with depression and how it makes you stupid and shit
--Anybody who wants to talk about math
--People who know me
--Or just whatever, send a kind word, I could use it.

Anyway, thanks for reading,


I guess I have a few words left, so here's a poem I didn't write, by Leonard Cohen:

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will

If it be your will.

San Francisco

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My listserve birthday wish

Hello everyone on the listserve!In my brief time with you, I have two things I'd like to ask you to help me with.

First thing, you're getting this just around my 32nd birthday (10 Sept). I've never really liked my birthday and I'm sick of feeling miserable every time this day comes around. As a child my birthday was so close to the start of school that it often was forgotten by all my friends in the hubbub. As an adult my birthday has been over shadowed first from year after year of memorial reporting about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, than as my grandfather passed away right as I should have been celebrating 30. Help me reclaim my birthday, please!

Second, I'm about to graduate with my MBA with a marketing concentration and am now looking to change my career path with my new degree. I'd like to break into marketing research or data analysis, but am finding that even with the MBA, everyone wants related work experience, even for entry level jobs. Any tips would be much appreciated!

Thank you all for reading and thank you all for posting. Now that I've spent time looking at the e-mail saying I'm selected, I understand how hard this is.

In conclusion, please remember that you are loved. Sometimes I forget, but I hope you don't.

Pennsylvania, US

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

something (or How I learned to stop worrying and love making things)

I’d like to encourage all of you (myself included) to make more things. I don’t care what kinds of things you make, but make something. You can do it by yourself, or you can work with someone else, or you can make something based on someone else’s work. Here are some suggestions of things you can make:

A bowl of pasta with homemade sauce and meatballs
A robot that you can play catch with
A story about a girl and her pet rat
A webpage that generates new, exciting, and sometimes nonsensical jokes about noses
An edit to wikipedia about a topic that interests you
A quilt for someone you care about like a pet
I enjoy every part/phase/stage of making.

There’s the planning stage, where you try and come with ideas, turn them around in your mind and tweak them until you can bring it into the world.

There’s the scavenging phase where you find and bring together all of the pieces/thoughts/feelings you need to make the thing inside your head(s).

There’s the doing phase, where you take something like a blank page, an existing project, or a box of parts and transform it into something new/different/better/worse than it was before

And then it starts over again. The thing you’ve made eventually changes again. Sometimes it’s entropy as it falls apart. Sometimes it’s you, coming back to tweak what you’ve created because you had another idea. Sometimes it’s teeth, because you’ve baked a delicious cake and there’s no point in letting a cake go to waste.

You’ll be able to look forward to some part of the making process, or think back to the end result and it’ll make you smile or frown or both.

If you need help making things, or want to share the things you’ve made, or you’re looking for people who like making just as much as you do, you should see if there’s a hackerspace/makerspace/sewing club/quilting mafia/organic food co-op near you and you should get involved. We humans are social creatures.

Wesley Ellis
The internets


____ ___ _ _ _ _____ ____ _____ _ ____ ___ ____ _ __
| _ \ / _ \| \ | ( )_ _| | __ )| ____| / \ | _ \_ _/ ___| |/ /
| | | | | | | \| |/ | | | _ \| _| / _ \ | | | | | | | ' /
| |_| | |_| | |\ | | | | |_) | |___ / ___ \ | |_| | | |___| . \
|____/ \___/|_| \_| |_| |____/|_____| /_/ \_\ |____/___\____|_|\_\

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

For the Tired People

Name: Cattie
Email: cattie.price[AT]gmail.com
Current Location: Missouri, USA
Subject Line: For the Tired People
Email body:

So, I'm a brand-new 7th grade English teacher. I work in a school where something like 80% of the kids live below the poverty line. Many of them have families who are barely making it. Many of them wear the same clothes to school multiple days in a row. For many of them, school lunch is the only meal they will eat that day. Many of their parents struggle with drugs, alcoholism, or are incarcerated. And here I am, some 25-year-old white girl who saw Freedom Writers and wanted to make a difference. Want to know a secret? Some days, I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Yes, I do know some of what they're going through, I guess - I grew up in a similar situation, at least financially. My single mom worked three jobs while going back to school, raising me, and supporting my great-grandma who has Alzheimer's, but then she got cancer and we were on assistance for a while during my childhood. I had a grandmother who robbed my mom blind in the middle of all of this to pay off gambling debts. I've never met my dad and that's admittedly always left a bit of a hole in my heart. I know some fraction of what these kids go through, but every situation is different. I have no idea what it feels like, for instance, to come home to your mom's boyfriend holding a gun to her head. (Some of my kids do. That's tough to stomach.) And the work environment itself is tough. Because of the demographics of our city, the taxes are very low, and this translates to things like no air conditioning in the schools (temps reached 102 in my classroom this August). I'm not really complaining, because I am just in LOVE with these kids. They are truly remarkable. But it's still really, really hard.

The truth is, I sometimes feel completely snowed under and overwhelmed. Teaching is the hardest thing I've probably ever done, but I really honestly truly madly deeply feel like God has been taking care of my little introverted soul during these first three weeks of school. It's little things - every morning, hearing an encouraging song on the radio on my drive to school. When a kid comes to me for advice or just needs me to listen to them, and I'm blessed with just enough time to give them my ears for a few moments and it really seems to lighten a bit of their load. I've worked with kids for a while, in various capacities, before teaching full-time. But there is nothing quite like being in the middle of giving a naughty class a little talking-to about respect, and getting to the part where you tell them you're disappointed because their behavior is telling you they don't really care what you have to say (when they're talking while you're talking, tapping on desks, and otherwise not paying attention), and being completely cut off mid-sentence by the ten rowdiest, most ornery, most disruptive kids in the class dramatically and loudly objecting that you are, in actuality, their favorite teacher and that they can't WAIT to come to your class every day. That they feel like it's home. I almost cried in the middle of my serious talk! Here's God's honest truth: every day I internally question whether I truly have what it takes to be a teacher. And every day, there they are: the 77 silly, sweet, remarkable reasons I stay.

I say these things because I've been through just enough suffering in my short life to finally be touching the very outermost tip of a realization: that no matter what you're going through - and I mean no matter WHAT - there is always, always, always hope. That and Jesus help me get through my every day, and I hope it helps you, too.

Love from the Midwest,

Missouri, USA

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Talent means next to nothing, while experience acquired in humility and hard work means everything." — Giuseppe Baldini

There are three things that I love doing over the internet; website developing/designing, watching anime and reading other people's articles.

Hi, my name is Eriko, I'm a 20-year-old IT student here in the Philippines. I've been watching anime ever since I was a kid and up to now I'm still doing it. I'm thankful to the internet because it gave me free access to new anime episodes straight from Japan. It's pretty awesome to still continue a hobby that I have from when I was a little lamb. I started watching anime over the internet back when I was in middle school, it's probably over 6 years ago. I pity myself back then because I always thought that I have no talent. In our family of 5, I have two older brothers, both of them can draw anime very well, same goes with my pops. Me, on the other hand, can't even draw a proper stick man. This self-pity continued up until high school.

High school came and I got myself into a forum about a particular game. The forum closed along with the game, but us users of the forum still want to continue our conversations. We decided to make a website that we can use. Ever heard of Ning? It's a website where you can create your own social network. At ning you can customize your website's CSS. That's not just for the administrator, but for the users as well. Just like the old friendster, at ning you can add a small code of HTML, and by adding an external stylesheet you can edit its CSS. It made me interested in CSS. It's funny because I first learned CSS and then HTML. After some years I finally got comfortable with HTML, CSS and JavaScript and nowadays I can create a website from scratch! It made me feel good inside because I finally got my own niche.

Fast forward to the present day. I mentioned that I like reading other people's articles, right? I mentioned all my three hobby at the start of this e-mail. I've combined all those three hobbies that I have on the internet and the result is "Kuru Anime." It's a website about Anime where users can post blog, drawings, and have conversation on the forum. It's just starting, sooner or later we'll have anime streaming and podcasts about anime. It's a website where I can do all of my hobbies. Neat, right? It might seem crazy but I'm thinking of making it a full pledge company. A small company like 9gag. If my plan succeeds, then that would be awesome.

"Talent means next to nothing, while experience acquired in humility and hard work means everything." My hard work was rewarded with 130 members, 30 of which are active. It might not be that much but it's still pretty impressive considering that I just reopened it last month. If anyone of you are interested about the website you can contact me on my e-mail and ask for the link. Thank you for reading my short List Serve! Now I'll go back to watching The Amazing Spiderman 2. Bye!

Bos Eriko Reyes
Tondo, Manila, Philippines

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Easy like Sunday... night

2) My thoughts on a Sunday night:
- I like Sundays.
-I like that football season started today and the Bengals beat the Ravens.
- I love Cincinnati. I moved away about six years ago, but I know that's where I'll probably settle back down.
- One guy I went to high school with was killed about a week and a half ago. I wish I could say he's the first. A different girl I went to high school with's son was killed by her boyfriend around the same time. He was two. If you're the praying type, Big Ant's and little Josiya's families would appreciate it. If you're not that's cool, just try to do something to decrease world suck today with them in mind. Actually, even if you do pray, try to do something concrete too.
-Slight tangent: I realized awhile back that many of the people I met in college had never known anyone who died violently, or even just died young. I once had a conversation with a girl and noted that it was entirely possible that 50% or more of our lives might be over. It didn't go over well, but it's important to remember.
- Church was good today. We just started a series called "Live and Let Die." Appropriate, I guess, given the above.
- I should be writing an exam for my ESL students right now. I got my Bachelor's in translation, but had a hard time finding a job working with people. I did not want to translate documents, so I went back to school for a TESL degree. That's where I am now. Teaching adults has been wild. I'm still not sure if I'm any good at it. They often don't tell me when they don't understand things, so it's been a little rough figuring it out.
- Fun story about how strange it is to teach in a university setting: My students did not know the word "spread." I explained it could be used for both things and ideas and asked for examples. One girl just looked at me and said, "Oh, like disseminate."
-I really want to travel once I finish my Master's in a year-ish. I love languages. I'm not always good about studying, but I have a list that I'd like to at least become conversational in. I'm hoping to teach abroad for 3-5 years. My friends keep pushing me towards the Middle East. I think I'd like it, but my mom would have a heart attack. One of my professors is pushing Chile. I've got time to decide.
-Quandary: I really want the whole marriage/babies life too. It's supposed to be easier if you start before 30, and if I travel I'm gonna be pushing that limit.
3) Things I like:
-Languages! If you speak Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, or Malay and would like to chat, I would love penpals. Those are my focus right now, in order of "fluency." If you speak Turkish, Korean, or Tagalog, that's what I'm studying next.
-Soccer! I'm a goalie. Arsenal, Monterrey, and both US teams.
-Books! I will read nearly anything. If you have any recommendations (in Spanish or English) I'm interested.
-Being joyful! Not always happy, but damned if they can take my joy.
4) Vonnegut wisdom: "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"
Hope to hear back from everyone. Much love.

Melissa M.
NE Ohio

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I am haunted by waters

So how do I describe or connect my tiny little corner of reality with the 20K+ individual listserv'ians spread out across the globe? I fundamentally do not know. But in my case, the acts of both reading and listening to music have made my life more enjoyable than it may have been, and have helped see me through both good and challenging times. So here are some of the highlighted works running in and through my life; ones I have found solace and joy with over the years.

Paul Auster – I have enjoyed all his fiction and believe he is one of the best and most creative/inventive writers around (if interested try Moon Palace, Leviathan, or the Brooklyn Follies to start)
Ann Patchett – Again I have enjoyed all of her fiction. Some of her books are outstandingly & stunningly great – i.e. Bel Canto
Winters Tale – by Mark Halprin (excellent book – lousy movie)
In the Skin of a Lion – by Michael Ondaatje (Sooooo much better than the English Patient)
Poet/Philosopher Gary Snyder – try reading anything almost anything he has written. Both his poetry and prose have been very dear to me. He is truly a master zen/ecologist.
Cryptonomicon – by Neal Stephenson (just an awesome tour de force read)
Cowboys are My Weakness – by Pam Houston (very fun and funny book of short stories)
Fortress of Solitude – by Jonathan Lethem (very good book to read on a long bus ride to NY City)
Animal Dreams – by Barbara Kingsolver (I loved this one a lot)
Little Big – by John Crowley (this is a very very interesting book, almost made my brain think differently after reading it… if that is indeed possible)
James Wright – his poetry is haunting and real (just read it, listen and feel. you wont be disappointed)
Night Film - by Marisha Pessel (very interesting, weird and terribly awesome book)
the Lorax – by Dr. Suess (everyone should commit this to memory or read it many times to all the children and adult children you know)
A River Runs Through It – by Norman Maclean (so much better than the also truly great movie by Robert Redford and although im not religious in my leanings I find great solace in this story, besides its about fly fishing (sort of) so its got that going for it….)
Young Men and Fire – by Norman Maclean (one of the most compelling non fiction books I have ever read, and being a scientist I have read quite a few…)

The Music listed below happened along, bubbled into my life and somehow managed to change me inside in some fundamental way. (order here is of no import.) I don’t have much to say about these albums, either they speak to you or they don’t, but if interested give them a listen, (I promise none of them will hurt you.) One thing you can tell from this list is that I’m one of the old fogies on this listserv.
Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith
The Flaming Lips – the Soft Bulletin
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Love – Forever Changes
Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Caravan Palace – Panic
Billy Bragg and Wilco – Mermaid Avenue (the first one)
Joe Pug – Nation of Heat
David Crosby – If Only I Could Remember My Name.
Genesis – Selling England by the Pound
Tom Waits – Nighthawks at the Diner & Bone Machine
Joni Mitchell – Blue
the English Beat – I Just Cant Stop It
Sopwith Camel – the Miraculous Hump Returns From the Moon
and it wouldn't be complete without
Nick Drake – Pink Moon (a creative young man slowly loosing his shit while he happened to be making an amazing recording. really worth your time.)


the wilds of california

Friday, September 12, 2014

Trying to figure out what "home" means

Hey guys! My name’s Emmalee, and I’m a second-year behavioral neuroscience student at Northeastern University, in Boston. Back home, in Raleigh, North Carolina, I have a pediatrician mom and a pharmaceutical-chemist dad, a 16-year-old brother who’s already seven inches taller than me, and a ten-year-old tortoiseshell cat who opens all our cabinets.

This past year has, overall, been a great one. Northeastern is a fantastic school, with all these completely unique opportunities, and I have more close friends than I’ve ever had at once in my life, some of whom I’m certain I’ll still be friends with decades from now.

And Boston is such an incredible city. It’s easy to get around, there are delicious restaurants and interesting things around practically every corner, and nearly everyone I’ve met has been welcoming and friendly. People back home told me I was going to hate it up here because of how rough the winters are, and admittedly this past February tested my resolve a little, but it made the spring all the sweeter when it finally arrived in late March. I really couldn’t be happier with my choice to come up here, is what I’m saying. And honestly, I could see myself spending the rest of my life here.


As much as I wanted to get the heck out of North Carolina after 18 years of living there, I’ve found myself missing parts of it far more than I expected, sometimes. I think the food is probably the biggest thing (what do you MEAN, you’ve never had pimento cheese, or grits, or barbecue?!?), but there are days I just long for the mountains, or the beaches, or my home region, the Triangle (the nickname for Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). For all its flaws, North Carolina is home to a lot of beauty, and a lot of potential. There are great universities and companies conducting promising research, and the local food/art/music scene is flourishing. More and more people move there every day.

I don’t know if that’s enough to make me want to go back. I had good reasons for wanting to leave. And I really do like it up here.

I’m just terrified that no matter where I end up I’ll never be completely happy, because if I go back to where I came from, I’ll remember why I originally left, but if I go anywhere else, I’ll still miss North Carolina on some level, however small.

So far the best way I’ve come up with to deal with this is by carrying little bits of North Carolina with me, up here. I cook Southern food for my friends, and tell them stories and traditions from my home state, and always, always use “y’all” instead of “you guys.” Little bits. Little reminders of the place I came from.

So far it’s been good enough.

I’d love to hear from other people who moved far away from their birthplaces when they became adults. How did you cope with it? Did you leave regretfully, or happily, or a little of both? Did you end up going back someday? And if you have a favorite recipe from your original home, would you mind sharing it?

Anyone who lives in Boston: what’s your favorite place to eat/thing to do here?

(Shameless plug: check out Northeastern radio, WRBB 104.9! We have a website.)

And in the broader sense, I’d like to hear from anyone, about anything! You don’t get to write to 25000 people from all over the world every day.

Best of luck with life,

Boston, MA

Thursday, September 11, 2014

First trip to Europe, please advise.

Hello Listservants,

This Wednesday my wife and I will be taking a 4 week honeymoon in Europe!

This is my first time leaving the USA so I am an inexperienced traveller. The plan is to take the rail from Portugal to Germany and I have arbitrarily picked stops based on Anthony Bourdain, Rick Steves, history class, and word of mouth.

A little about me: 25, just married, born and raised in Seattle (USA), Computer Scientist, love nature/adventure, very active, don't care for touristy things, love to be amused and do/see things out of the norm.

Europeans or European travellers reading this,
- If you were in my shoes, what would you do/see on this trip?
- Any advice on the trip? Things I am missing or things not worth seeing?
- If you live along my Europe Route and want to meet up, let me know!

Sept 11 - Lisbon (Sporting Lisbon Match, Sintra, drink porto/green wine)
Sept 15 - Seville (Tapas, Flamenco, Alcazar!)
Sept 16 - Valencia (Oranges, Beaches, Future buildings, Paella)
Sept 17 - Barcelona (Sightseeing, night life, beaches)
Sept 19 - Lyon (Eat French Food)
Sept 20 - Geneva (visit CERN, Orchestra, go hiking)
Sept 22 - Berne (no plans)
Sept 23 - Munich (Oktoberfest)
Sept 24 - Frankfurt (Visit family)
Sept 29 - Berlin (night life, sites, family/friends, unwind)
Oct 5 - Fly Home

Thanks for reading and please advise!

Tanner N.
Seattle, WA, USA

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Fresher Passionate about career at Zoho

Well, I'm P. Mothi Venkatesh completed B.E in Computer Science and Engineering at Thiagarajar College Of Engineering, Madurai. I was fascinated by doing creative things and ventured into various unique areas when my fellow classmates were memorizing math formulae. I’m based in Dindigul, and did my Schooling at SMB Matriculation School, Dindigul. During my second year of engineering (2012), I stumbled upon blogging. I wrote about technology and when there was necessity to drive more traffic to my blog, I found SEO as an efficient way to do this. I started analyzing on Google’s search engine algorithms and found out the mechanisms by which it ranks web-pages. Like every other SEO person my aim was to make my posts appear in the first 3 results shown by Google. Since I'm doing it for the past two years, I'm proficient in SEO techniques.

When I was came to know about the job openings for SEO Analysts at Zoho, my joy became boundless, I got a chance to chase my dream but I was not able to scale the general aptitude round , but I’m deeply passionate about SEO and working with Zoho.I have hands on experience in SEO so I request you to count in my experience and offer me a chance for attending the Technical round for the SEO Analysts opening. I’m waiting for your response to start adding additional value to my favorite company's online presence.

I would love to come and talk to Zoho Human Resources, and if I manage to impress them, I would be the happiest fresher out there!

P. Mothi Venkatesh
Dindigul city, Tamil Nadu, INDIA

Hey there, Listserve Folks!

I''ve learned that's how we say hello in South Carolina in the two years I've been here. "Hey there." Having lived in New York, New Hampshire, Texas, England and now here, I found I needed to pick up the local language each and every time, if only to understand what people were saying to me. In New York it was "pass the peas," but the same request in Texas goes something like this: "Um, Leann, I see you got the peas sitting there by your right elbow." The meanings are the same. Exactly the same.

But back to hello. My favorite greeting is in College Station, Texas where my kids went to school. It's "howdy." If you ever head to Texas A&M, remember that one word and you're golden. Everyone will say it to you and you will say it back. It's automatic. It will make you smile.

What you've probably surmised is I am about three times as old as most of you who read this list. But from what I've been absorbing over the last several years, I don't believe that matters much. This listserve experience is a dialogue I enjoy and learn from. I am a writer and learning about human nature is my business. That life lesson learning curve? Very steep. Very complicated. And not really a curve. More like a spiral staircase. I believe it was Hegel who said that history is a spiral. We must go down at times to go higher. But we will continue upward.

So hey there, list serve folks, from a South that has many flaws and far to go on that staircase of social change, but gosh, it's beautiful here.

Leann Sweeney
South Carolina, USA

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Buddhism, Astronomy, Poetry. Education at its best.

Hello Listservers,
This is not a typical email, but try and read through it. There's a poem at the end. It will all make sense (hopefully)!
Somebody who I'm close with once read me a six word memoir that went something like; 'Religion is meaningful, irrational, convince me.'
I agree with the first two parts of his statement, but this idea of convincing doesn't always sit well with me. Religion does grant meaning in regards to providing a context for social interaction as well as life-cycle meaning to the human condition.
I also firmly believe that belief in the divine is to a certain extent irrational, because of a few inherent contradictions (good things happen to bad people etc). However, the attitude of the last two words of “convince me” is not necessarily the best way to go about approaching religious, education, and honestly any sort of education.
I worked as a writing tutor. I had one student who would bring in these fantastic conceptual ideas like explaining how conservation and awareness of nature can even extend to outer space. His ideas were great, but his writing organization could have used some work. I couldn't just hit him over the head with a blunt instrument of thesis statements. Teachers and tutors should not (usually) be barbarians. We need to practice finer arts of swordsmanship, and lead our students into understanding how to be better people, or better writers (if the two aren't the same thing already).
In other words, we can't settle for just trying to convince people of certain things (the existence of God, how to be better writers, chemists, teacher, thinkers, vikings) we have to lead them to the proper understanding of truth. This can be done through didactic methods such as leading the class through questions. It can also be achieved through interaction with artistic mediums that relate to the source materials. I took a poetry course and astronomy simultaneously. During that semester, I tried to incorporate elements of astronomy into my poetry as well as try and interpret poems through the lens of astronomy. I think educators when writing curriculums need to foster a cross-flow between subjects.
As an Orthodox Jew, I would like to speak about Buddhism and how it can help us understand my approach to education. There's an idea of prajnaparamita in Mahayanna Buddhism. It refers to the perfection wisdom and deals with what truth really is. I won't get into that stuff so much, but basically it means that there is an understanding of reality that goes beyond deep conceptual knowledge. Most buddhism will say that the world is only first hand experience. Concepts and ideas are all second hand. While I think the Buddhist sense of ultimate knowledge goes deeper than how I am applying it, the message of multiple levels to truth is still applicable to teaching. While we can't always give our students first hand experience (Edgar Allen Poe can't teach the class or read his work anymore) we can help make the experience of a classroom a more inviting,engaging, and enjoyable place for students.
I'm a senior in college majoring in English, and enjoy thinking about and discussing these things. If anyone has actually read through this entire piece, or can refine my understanding of Buddhism, poetry, religion, atheism, astronomy, or anything mentioned in this email please message me at Maxonehorn[AT]gmail.com.

An excerpt from an astronomy poem.

...Like the sun in the cold winter day
shine and pull the earth close to your light
lifting hopes like live wires
and just sit tight and fight...

Queens, New York

Monday, September 8, 2014

A joke

A teenage boy is getting ready to take his girlfriend to prom. First he goes to rent a tux, but there's a long tux line at the shop and it takes forever. Next, he has to get some flowers, so he heads over the the florist and there's a huge flower line there. He waits forever but eventually gets the flowers. Then he heads out to rent a limo. Unfortunately, there's a large limo line at the rental office, but he's patient and gets the job done. Finally, the day of the prom comes. The two are dancing happily and his girlfriend is having a great time. When the song is over, she asks him to get her some punch, so he heads over the the punch table and there is no punch line.

Boston, MA

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Memory of My Grandfather

My grandfather whom I spend my childhood with, passed away more than one year ago. Though it is anticipated because of his illness, the pain and sadness is worse than I expected, I might have imagine, predict, forecast but when the reality comes, it is worse. There is no time you will be ready to lose someone that you love and there is no words can describe how heavy the pain is. This whole experience also teaches something new, so heavy sadness can paralyze you, literally, it is true. Like I am trying to standing when I come in to the room where my late grandfather lied but I cannot because the wave of sadness is so big. Paralyzed. Numb. Weak.I am a true believer that the best regret in life is for the things that you didn’t do rather than something that we did. My biggest regret with regards to my grandfather departure is I don’t spend enough time to know about his childhood, his teenage life, his young adult life, his ambitions when he was young, his achievement when he was young, what drives him happy when he was a young man; all the things that he went through before he is a grey haired man who raised me. I have this privileges that he knows me so well, my ambitions, my accomplishments, things that make me happy, things that I like but I don’t know those things about him. I am not. I will never know. I only know him as my grandfather, I f I can turn back time, I want to know him as a person, as a man before I came to this life, before he became my grandfather.

His last question to me whether I am happy considering my miserable love life. He told people that the only thing that still keeps him alive is because he wants to assure my happiness so I told him before he went comma that I am happy that he doesn’t have anything to worry about, that even though my love live is complicated, I am happy in my own way, he doesn’t need to worry about me..

I considered myself strong enough to deal with my grandfather departure while other people expect the worse from me because of my intimacy with him, I don’t cry a lot especially in front of my mother and my grandmother; I work like nothing happens, like my grandfather, one of the most important person in my life is still here and every weekend, he will wait for me to visit him. What they don’t know is the first time I cried out loud after the funeral is when I flipped over the photo album and found his picture as a young man laughs, he looks very happy as a young man but yet I don’t know that part of his life, not even a bit. The second time is when I found my pictures inside his wallet. The third time is when I told my mom about my accomplishment in work and she replied by saying that usually she will share this kind of news with my grandfather and he will cherish it like it was his own accomplishment. The fourth time is when I found his handwritten of my daily schedule as a high school student. . Everything that makes me cry about him is everything that show how much he loves me and his love is how he will stay alive with me even after he is long gone..

Nadya Ardianti
Jakarta, Indonesia

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I think I am kind.

My favorite Listserve email was from Luke Neff on June 7, 2012. It was the fifth Listerve I ever got, and I loved it so much that I decided I would do something similar if I ever won the lottery. A little over two years later, here I am. Thanks for the idea, Luke. :)



"What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person."

…56 translations later we get:
"I think I am kind."



Comic idea

Workers are clearing a road. They start bulldozing through a hill and bones start spilling out.
“What do we do, boss?” Boss shrugs. They’re on a timetable, so they should keep going.

Later, a worker cuts into a steak. Tiny bones start spilling out.
A worker does laundry. When he lifts up a portion to put in the wash, a skull tumbles out.
A workers mows his lawn. Instead of grass clippings, bones spray out.

The road is abandoned.



Simon Says alarm clock



What actually drives happiness: relationships, unique experiences, feeling self-validated, achieving personal goals.

And again: I wonder how much our current mental state is dependent upon our ability to imagine a happy/fulfilling, realistic future?



in the future, we must pick what information to store in our brains.
love? emotions? do extra abilities take precedence over those?



can you try? i don't know you anymore, you know. don't i try? you can.
life - is it worth living? this is what i ask myself. ask i, "what? is this living worth it? is life?"
palindromes are hard. how to? how hard are palindromes?
can you believe? what is this? this is what: believe you can!

you swallow pills for anxious days and nights, and days, anxious for pills, swallow you (aric maddux)

for the past couple of weeks i've been chewing my mouth raw
biting the insides until they're too sore or they bleed

i've been eating jalapeño pringles
it hurts

am i tired? i am.

i am tired, though. will i live? i will, though tired am i.
am i tired, though? will i live? i will, though tired. i am.



what if in the future, we had to choose what cyborg we are
iHuman or Android or µHuman or whatever



I don’t want to enter that room if I don’t know how to get out



robert said
you haven't been this sad in a long time




Tissue shirt (for comforting other crying people)
Brown sugar mochi in poop shape



Sometimes at night I get so lonely I cry. I browse the internet through my tears, searching for people who hold the same opinions I do or share stories of things I have experienced, just to feel a connection to someone.



i just ate a cronut
my life is a mess

a cronut is like 600 calories
i'm going to die
i'm dying



I’m always unsure where triangles will take me



Silly Cone Valley

Ice cream flavors:
C (chocolate)
C++ (double chocolate)
Java (coffee)
Groovy (rainbow sherbet)



robert said
i'm glad you aren't as sad as you used to be
but you're a lot less creative now


I love biking, ice skating, crocheting, drawing, and programming. When I was eleven, I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I became a software engineer. I dislike avocados. I've dealt with crushing depression. I'm passionate about accessibility, blood/bone marrow donation, hospice care, and mental health awareness.

Feel free to email me with fragments of your life. :)

Ling-Yi Kung
San Francisco

Friday, September 5, 2014

Two Truths and a Lie

I have a travel blog.

I was on the show Survivor.

I killed a bear chicken with my hands.

Two truths and a lie is a game I love to play with strangers. It's a great icebreaker. When I play with friends, I have to get creative, as they usually know what actually happened and what's a figment of my imagination. But with strangers, it is easy to pull from the archives.

A year ago, to this day, I found myself in the company of four other strangers, who quickly became fast friends on our eight-day trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. We had reconvened in the tent after hours of hiking thru the picturesque Tanzanian terrain. Oddly, I must have given a different impression to the group, as the immediate and general consensus was "No, you don't have a travel blog."

My adventure travel companion and best friend, Jackie, sat in the tent tight lipped trying her best not to reveal any clues. I clarified to the group that I meant to say that I killed a chicken with my bare hands and not a bear chicken but they were still adamant that I didn't have a travel blog and swore they recognized me from the great American television show. (Unfortunately, this was the lie as I have yet to be on Survivor).

Shortly after the trek, I returned home to my bright (and teary) eyed family and friends to answer numerous questions about this oh so challenging but ever so rewarding experience. After a few questions about the loss of oxygen (and my mind) with increasing altitude, summiting Kili and you know, not showering for eight days straight, I found myself stuck with the same question.

“So, what’s next?”

It’s a year later and the question still lingers, as it should. I’m not going to sign up to conquer the remaining seven summits. Not yet. Nor am I going to spend the rest of my vacation days climbing Mount Everest. Every morning, I’ll take to the city streets of Manhattan just as I took to Mount Kilimanjaro with the New York state motto, Excelsior (Ever Upward) in mind.

While I’m nostalgic for the past and find myself digging up a good throwback Thursday pic, I remind myself to always move forward, one foot in front of the other at my own pace. It’s not about the mountain or where the path will go - it’s the steps I take to get there. Maybe today’s the day that I… call up an old friend I lost touch with. Say yes to a blind date. Dump a bucket of water and donate to ALS. Take on a freelance project. Or study a new language.

My advice to you is to make that step too. Take that leap, in life, in love, in work, whatever it may be. Just jump into something you feel passionate about and continue to challenge yourself, learn something new, and inspire. And travel, often. Embrace and engage with the people you meet along the way. It’s the best way we can learn from each other.

Listserve friends, I’ll leave you with a quote from the ever-inspiring Nelson Mandela:
“After climbing one great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Feel free to check out travelbugbites dot com.
Ever Upward. Stay bitten ;)

Lauren K
New York, NY

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This week will mean nothing when it's over but it means everything right now - a great friend

So I received this email and I was having the most difficult time thinking of what to write. I hope I made the deadline. I still don't know what exactly to say, so here goes (basically a random bunch of tidbits that I compiled between the time that I received the email to this moment. Major procrastinator. Regular, anything but. 21, but can't handle kickbacks/"parties". I've looked up ways to avoid drinking simply to avoid drinking at social gatherings, but I end up making things extremely awkward. I'm a backseat driver that enjoys the front seat. I really like self check outs. I've never dated, but I've had a boyfriend. I really like cheese, I like collecting socks, but not wearing them. If I could have it my way, I would wear flip flops everywhere. I enjoy long naps on the floor. Dalmations are really cool.

I want someone provocative and talkative.

I really hope I get a second chance at this...

Email me if you'd like to hear more from me: valentinexheart[AT]aol.com

"Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long
And wouldn't it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong"
- Beach Boys



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Own your choices, guys!

It all comes down to choices.

As I reflect now, a few months from entering a new decade - my 30's, I realize that I've made a lot of poor choices in the past. I've chosen to disregard certain friends' feelings when making reckless decisions. I've chosen to do stupid, unsafe things even when completely unnecessary. For those choices that hurt others, I am deeply and sincerely sorry. (Do you also find it harder to forgive yourself for your mistakes than to laud yourself for your successes?) I've also made some good choices. I've worked my ass off to go to school and law school and pass the bar exam (twice!) and cultivate some relationships and try hard to be a good daughter/sister/wife/mother/friend. Some of my choices, I feel guilty about. I'm a fairly new mom, who chose to work from home. I could have focused more on growing my law practice helping those in need of good afforable legal help, or worked more hours at the startups that me, my husband and one of our friends founded (RentalRoost, Houserie, and GrayRoost - check it out!). But instead, I chose to channel my energy on this tiny human being that I created from scratch (with my fun, amazing husband Vik who is also my bff). I chose to embrace being a mom more than being a startup co-founder or an attorney. I feel incredibly guilty. Like I'm a bad feminist. Like Sheryl Sandberg is tsk-tsk-ing me right now for not leaning in. But at the end of the day, doesn't feminism just boil down to the beautifully simple quote by Rebecca West "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." But maybe being a feminist means being able to make that choice rather than just have it handed to you. I think most people are feminists. If you think that your mom/sister/daughter/girlfriend/wife is her own person and should be able to have the same rights as you, then you're pretty much a feminist. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I want to shout out to my little brother Harish who is one of the bravest people I know. In addition to just exploring and doing cool things, he was brave enough to just quit his job and start an awesome company to redefine design education (DesignLab). Even if we may fight as all siblings do, he inspires me every day to seize the day and to do things that scare me.

I also want to shout out to my incredible parents and also my friends. They have helped mold me into who I am today. They inspire me to be better, stronger, smarter, braver, more forgiving, more patient, and just all-around better.

And of course, my daughter. If every choice I ever made (both the terrible ones and the good ones) led me to Vik and to her, then I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I will leave you with this:
* Always have lavender essential oil on hand. (E-mail me if you want to know why)
* You always have a choice in every situation, even if the only apparent choice is the way in which you react to it.
* Be kind. Each person is fighting their own battle you don't know about.
* Adopt a pup. It will change your life for the better!
* If you're so inclined, let's be friends!

Harini V.
SF Bay Area, CA

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Whatever you do, do it your best!

Hello! Firstly, thank you Listserve! I look forward to these emails everyday!

I see many of the emails here are from people (mostly younger than myself) who are on the verge of some great adventure, leaving for school, traveling the world, starting a new business (that surely will someday change world) I'm here to say that some parts of life are not as exciting, and that's ok to. It's ok to live in a small town, not travel the world, or be the next big business venture, it's ok to work the same job for many years or be a stay at home parent. These are the people that make the world tick, these are the nurses, and garbagemen and factory workers, the cops and firemen and salesclerks, they are the volunteers and fundraisers and hot lunch makers. These are the people who keep things running and clean, and keep the safeguards in place, they are the steady, and the quiet population that give the travelers, and dreamers, and the transient and upcoming youth of the world a place to build their dreams, and grow roots. If these people weren't in every community there would be nothing to come home to, no where to arrive at. Notice them, when your running to your next great adventure, thank them for doing whatever it is that they do. And do not be afraid to find yourself one day, one of them.

Just because you are one of them does not mean you will not find great satisfaction in your work, great love from friends and family, or that you will be bored or boring. I've been a dispatcher at a fire department for many years, and it's taught me two things. You cannot ever imagine how quickly your life can change, or end.

And, everyone is fighting some kind of struggle. Everyone has a story.
I would love to hear from you, tell me your stories! Oh, and support your local hospice!

Kim D.
Ontario, Canada

Monday, September 1, 2014

Oh the places you will go...

What is your passion? We all have at least one; you just have to find it. Mine is travel and in just a few short months, my husband and I are embarking on what could be the biggest adventure of our lives. We are selling our house and most of our possessions and getting on a plane to travel the world. We don't know how long we will be gone or where we will go or where we will stay or what we will do. We are jumping off a cliff into the great unknown! But we have talked, planned and saved. And, at some point, you just have to say "I'm ready. Life is only getting shorter and it is time to take it by the reins."

Find your passion and run with it. But, first, please do tell me your favorite city/activity/hotel/restaurant -- the place you would most want to revisit if you were off to see the world. Thanks!

United States