Sunday, November 30, 2014

Its been a good..year

I could write a book about my life (just like most people) but since that'll be nothing short of a Bollywood movie, I'll stick to 2014 instead.

January 2014: I quit my excruciating job and packed my bags to move to San Francisco from New York. I miss NYC every single day, it really is a place you should live in atleast once in your life, it will change your life forever (maybe for good, maybe for bad)

February 2014: I parked myself at a friend's place and decided to go travel (ofcourse) and went to South East Asia (ofcourse) for a few months. I am so thankful for amazing friends!

May 2014: Came back and fun serendipitous things that usually are reserved for more fortunate started happening to me!

July 2014: I was convinced I would move to India unless I found a job, I found a fantastic job

August 2014: I was convinced I would quit my new job and move to India unless I met someone special, I met someone VERY special; I might be in love with him :)

October 2014: Found a fantastic apartment in SAN FRANCISCO! Rental market here is worse than NYC incase you were wondering! It’s more of a supply/ demand thing, I get it!

November 2014: My very close friend decided to move to LA so now I am wondering if I should push my luck and threaten fate that I'd move to India unless I won a multi-million $ lottery ha!

Anyway, I started a new chapter in my life this year. Love, life and a great apartment! Does a girl need more in San Francisco? Yes, yes she does. I could use a great taco. If you are from here or have been here and have suggestions for delicious tacos (or food in general), please let me know! I promise to add it to my list for the taco crawl and let you know how I liked it. I like crawls. If you live in NYC please go to Taqueria LES on Orchard St. Get the carnitas taco. It will blow your mind.

That's all I have today. No advice from me, I wouldn't be very good at it if I tried. Its Thanksgiving time and I'll spare y'll the mundane but I will say please be thankful for what you have, you are definitely more fortunate than most if you have a laptop where you are reading this email. Threaten fate every so often, sometimes it surprises you!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas!!

Avani (Avni is how you pronounce it, means Earth! Isn't that cool? My parents are the best!)

PS: I want to start a microfinance organization someday and also a school where kids especially women get education for free. If you have ideas, stories, experiences with either please email me! Especially if you tried and failed! Not to undermine the successes, but failures end up getting better life experiences..

PPS: I hate Uber. Look up the recent slew of insanities by the company and their drivers. As a woman I find the company's culture abhorrent. What are your thoughts about the company? If you don't have an opinion, I say form one. Let me know. I love hearing different perspectives and often change mine. I accept that I know very little.


San Francisco, CA

Saturday, November 29, 2014

a hoptimist telling nonsense

Hi @ all out there!

When I received the notification that I've won "The Listserve lottery" I was sitting on the train’s floor on my way to work. My non-dog-dog (too tiny for being a dog too smart for being a cat) was sitting on my lap licking a specific spot on my trousers. And I was deleting thousands of spam mails, almost falling asleep and trying to keep my eyes open (I almost deleted the notification).

I’ve lost my job and there are – three days, 8 hours per days – 24 hours left. I’ve been working there since I’ve left school and started the 10th year with the 2nd of November. I got told on 12thAugust - one day after I returned to work after I had to stay at home cause of a knee injury - that I’m fired. My boss asked me for an appointment, and I asked him if I was in troubles. “No, nothing special… just a 15 min-talk” was his answer. When I got told on the other day I started laughing at him and congratulated him for having the stones to do so. He looked at me as I’m a moon calf and yes I’m.

I don’t talk much about myself, but here – dear strangers – are some facts:

## I’m weird and crazy and not very tall. I’m a student, photographer, graphic designer, illustrator,… creative person. I was silly enough working there for 9 years, part-time studying and full-time working. I’m sometimes pusillanimous and sheepish but also stubborn as a mule and I’ve started to like the person I am just in that specific moment, when I started laughing at my soon-2-be-ex-boss.
## I got told from my father – and yeah, your parents should be telling you that you are the smartest and most awesome child in the world – that I’m crazy, dumb and so on for 25 years. The last time I’ve talked to him (the day before he moved out and the day before my parents got divorced) he yelled some really bad things at me and I started laughing and congratulated him for not having the stones to accept me as the person I’m.
## I really hate my eldest brother, cause he did some really bad stuff to me. I’ve never told all of it to anybody and for years I was persuading myself, that it has been my fault. To be honest I don’t really hate him, I just don’t take care of him anymore and started to take care of myself.
## My grandpa was more like my father than my father was. He was an awesome person and when he passed away in September 2010, some of my family-members thought I didn’t sorrow. But we had some really long talk in May 2010 and it was also the moment, when he said good-bye to me. After this day he was not the same anymore, he didn’t even recognize his wife and I was everyone – his daughter, his wife, old friends etc. Cause of this awesome person I’m studying and trying to do things I really want to do. Thx.
## I have Aim. Not only an aim – I really have many. But I’ve Aim – aka Amy, non-dog-dog. And the reason I got her, was cause I needed something to take care of, as it was a tough time for me and I didn’t take care of myself. It was after my parent’s divorce, my grandpa’s death and accepting, that it wasn’t my fault, what happened when I was younger.

So as you can see, I’m not in the position in giving you some good advices for your life. I’m not the right person in telling you how you’ve to live your life.

I’m a “hoptimist” - a hopeful optimist.
And I’m a hoptimist all time.

My friend is working in Kurdish republic and I know what’s going on there.
Someone I know is working in Mali – (the Ebola virus epidemic around Mali has led to thousands of deaths).
A friend of mine – who always wanted to have children – has got told, that she suffers from cervival cancer some weeks ago.

I’m not the right person in giving you some good advices. I’m just trying to give my best and to change the world in some (good/better/acceptable/wonderful/awesome) way.

I’m not a genius and I won’t find the global solution for every problem out there.
I’m trying to give my best – trying to make good graphic design (and not to accept bad one) to make our world a little more beautiful. I’m photographing to record (social) wrongs and bloom sides. I’m photographing and illustrating to make things visual. I’m trying to raise my voice whenever something bad happens.

I believe that we all can change the world in some way. And we all together can change it to a better place for everybody.

I’m a hoptimist.
And I started to believe in myself in August when I started to do what I want. I’m working together with my friend (who is the world’s best photographer – just had to mention that) – and although that was something I didn’t thought it would work - we already completed some nice joint projects since August. Music Posters, CI for start-ups, …

As we all know that a Listserve-mail without advices wouldn’t work or be right some random advices for you:

Believe in yourself - do some cool stuff - let’s do something together - drink more coffee – let’s help each other – read more books (the real books) – if you own a pet, cuddle it – if you own a dog one extra cuddle for it – kiss your friend more often – tell persons you love that you do so more often – do what you want, it will make you happy – lets swap some work – tell me something – write me a letter or a mail or just tell me to f* off – read the sandman-comics – listen to good music – if you have to, fart in the public – do something special in your spare time – don’t let the world end in a disaster – raise your voice against wrongs – Bananas make one constipated – if you are afraid, eat more bananas – watch some good films (really good ones) – insert some random advices here.

Greets and so

Sue and Amy

Friday, November 28, 2014

The joy of sharing the stories you love with others

First: I turn 30 in February. Any recommendations for how I should celebrate?
Second: What books, music, or movies do you lend to others?

When I walk into a bookstore or a library, I get an instant feeling of lightness. The smell of the books, the quiet movement of people, the light filtering in through the windows and skylights. The overwhelming visual stimulation of color, shapes, and sizes, bookshelves placed end to end, filling the space everywhere you look. It’s a feeling of sheer possibility, of weight lifting.
I get a similar feeling when I walk into a museum or a movie theater, knowing I am about to discover something- something curious, something interesting, something awesome. Delicious.

I’ve tried to write my own stories before, to participate. I get about 3 chapters in and give up. I love creating worlds and characters, but plotting a story? I don’t want that responsibility- to put in the hard work or make agonizing decisions. I’m content to consume the stories told by others and feel a sense of vicarious victory when things work out just so, to marvel at the cleverness of the creators.

I love the escapism of science fiction and fantasy, of adventure and romance, for adults and young adults alike. Stories have such impact- the alternate lives, careers, and realities I can experience through someone else’s imagination result in endless curiosity and child-like joy. Even re-reading stories I know and love can instantly improve a bad day as I cease to exist for a few hours.

Yes, consuming stories is satisfying.
And sharing stories is, as well.

I love physical books, DVDs, CDs, etc, because I can lend them out to friends and colleagues. Yes, I want them to find something new and amazing, but it’s also partly selfish-this extends the story for me since I now get to re-experience the joy of discovery through their progress, laughing and cringing and remembering all over again.

To that effect, and for you, here are the stories I lend out, recommend, and often revisit myself:

-Stray, by Andrea K Host. “I walked into adventure and adventure has given me blisters.”
-The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner.
-All of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series of books, particularly the Protector of the Small quadrology
-The Emperor’s Soul, by Brandon Sanderson, a modern and satisfying fairy tale
-Star Wars X-Wing series, by Michael A Stackpole and Aaron Allston, adventure and fun
-Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, by Orson Scott Card
-The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Kathryn Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart
-Stranger than Fiction with Will Farrell, charming and overlooked
-Fred Astaire “Isn’t This a Lovely Day”
-The Ink Spots “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”
-The Avett Brothers “Kickdrum Heart”
-The Features “Idea of Growing Old”
-Yellow Ostrich “I think U are great”
-Rufus Wainwright “Want Two” Album
-Typhoon’s “White Lighter” Album
-Cold War Kid’s “Robbers & Cowards” Album
-“Things Could be Worse” The Tragedy Series by Benjamin Dewey
-Visit Austin, in Central Texas, between March 23 and April 23. The temperature is still crisp, the bluebonnets are everywhere, the grass practically glows, and it overwhelming feels of Spring and wellbeing. Check out the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum while you are there.

I’d love to hear back if you check these out. That’s the point!

Thanks, and Gig ‘Em, Aggies,

Austin, Texas, USA

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Living with a Prankster

Hey Listserve,

I'll start with a little bit about myself. I'm 25, live in Santa Monica, California, and work as an Actor/Producer/YouTuber. For those of you that live in the US or Canada, you may know my father, Howie Mandel, from shows such as Deal or No Deal and America's Got Talent. He's a comedian and I'll say I've had a very interesting childhood growing up.

I want to share a funny Joke my dad played on me when I was in 5th grade. I noticed one day that there was a slight lump on the center of my chest. My parents were worried and took me to the Doctor. After the visit the doctor told my parents that it was nothing to worry about and it was just a small harmless extra bone. My dad convinced the doctor to play a joke with him and tell me it's something else. My dad explained that what I have is a "boner." Of course being the young immature boy I was, I laughed. He explained that although it sounds funny, the word actually referenced a growth off another bone which in turn gave meaning to the derogatory term. Made sense to me. He said I probably shouldn't do Physical education at school. The next day I went to class and before we began, I raised my hand in front of the rest of the students and said "I can't do class today because I have a boner." Everyone laughed and I was sent to the office. I tried to explain its a real medical condition, but she called my mom. When she told my mom, I could hear her on the other side yell "Howie!" My dad had to make a formal apology to the school and I was completely embarrassed.

I hope you enjoyed that father son experience I went through and gave you a good laugh.

If you are interested you can follow my daily life through my daily vlog. Just search Alex Mandel Vlog on YouTube

I also have Instagram/Twitter - @AlexMandel

Thanks for taking the time to read and I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Alex Mandel
Santa Monica, California

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is effective altruism?


I want to make the world a better place, and do so in the most effective way possible. This approach is known as “effective altruism” and this email is a short introduction.

Let's say you have some money that you want to donate to charity. That's great, but how do you decide which charity to donate to? Here are a couple of options:

Charity A: will save 1 life with your donation
Charity B: will save 1000 lives with your donation

Is it a hard choice? I don't think so, and this isn't a hypothetical question.

It turns out that charities vary wildly in their effectiveness. Even for a given cause, like stopping the spread of HIV, some charities will literally do 1000x more good with your money than others.

How do you figure out which are the most effective charities? It's a hard problem, but luckily there are a number of people who spend their time figuring this out for you. GiveWell and Giving What We Can do extensive research into how much good charities can do, publishing their results online.

A specific example of an effective charity is the Against Malaria Foundation, which distributes insecticide treated nets to protect against malarial infections. Another is Deworm The World, which works to prevent and cure parasitic worms in children. These tropical diseases can be extremely easy and cheap to cure, often costing just a few dollars.

There's a growing movement, called "effective altruism," around this approach to doing good. Identify the most effective ways to improve the world, then go and do those things. This can be applied to donations, volunteering, or even career choice. Members of the effective altruism community have pledged to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the best causes over their lifetimes.

If any of this has sparked your interest, do one of the following:

- Talk to me! I’m happy to chat, just reply to this email!

- Visit GiveWell’s website to see their charity recommendations.

- Watch Peter Singer's recent TED talk about effective altruism (google it).

Thanks for reading,

Robbie Shade
Boston, USA

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

too long; didn't read

The past few months - who am I kidding – the past couple months have been hard on me. I could tell you why but I just need a break. A quick nap. Some time to sleep or a marathon of The Wire.

I’d love to read a book. I’m reading the Woodcutters right now. It’s great. Or it would be great if I had more time to read. I am graduating in six months. People ask me what I am doing after graduation. I should know. I am told that I really should know. But I have not a clue. I don’t think about it nearly as much as they seem to think I do. I only think about the future when I am reminded that I have one.

This isn’t meant to be some philosophical discussion. I am not particularly philosophical. That was one of the reasons my boyfriend broke up with me. I do not think about the deep questions in life. It’s only been a month. I am still bitter. I don’t miss him or at least I don’t feel as though my heart is broken. I think about him throughout the days. I think of Us. Or well, the Us that used to exist. I guess now we’re just him and me.

I cried in the park for two hours last week. Strangers stared and I made eye contact. They looked uncomfortable being caught with their curiosity. Why is this girl crying? More importantly why not? I am not ashamed to cry. I cry often. I like crying.

I am having a hard time.

I am an exceptional quitter. I am so good at quitting that I have given motivational speeches about quitting. My talent in quitting comes from the second grade when I quit football. The cold Saturday mornings and my shyness did not create an environment conducive for football stardom. My parents encouraged my talent.

As I’ve gotten older, quitting has gotten harder. Suddenly, I face responsibilities and feelings of “I signed up for this.” How do I quit? Can I quit? Turns out you can always quit. Most notably, I quit my summer internship a few months ago.

Quitting has no bearing on who I am. I may be a quitter but I am also pretty freakin’ awesome.

I forgive myself for crying in the park, for being sad, for being confused. In 21 years, I have not made many friends. The kinda friends where I think hey you! You human being, I like you, spend time with me. I forgive myself for not having made those friends.

I forgive myself for all the times that I have quit and all the times that I will in the future. I forgive myself for being broken up with.

I don’t have any particular advice as I am not very wise nor have I had something insane happen to me. I once found $100 on the sidewalk so I do have that going for me. Maybe life isn’t so bad.

Send me something. I promise I will read it. Maybe not immediately but probably immediately. It can be a sentence, a poem, or your 50,000-word harry potter fanfic.

New York

Monday, November 24, 2014

email subjects suck

The morning I got the email saying I had won the listserve, I was getting ready to go into surgery. And as I am currently writing this I'm still a little out of sorts, so I apologize if some of this doesn't quite make sense.

As to why I was getting surgery I was going in for my second corneal transplant. I had one done a few months ago and my body decided to reject it. While there are someways of reversing it those methods didn't work. So here I am sitting in a hospital while my eye is tearing up like mad and can't see well out of my other eye listening to cooking shows cause it's ten o'clock at night and nothing is good on.

I know for a large majority of the world you wake up turn over and are able to see your clock or your phone or significant other and don't give two thoughts about it. Those are the things I would love to be able to do. I would love to be able to read a standard print book without it giving me a headache. I normally give up within about twenty minutes. I would like not be so nervous going into the DMV to get my license renewed for fear that I would fail the vision screening. The day I moved into my dorm I had to put in night lights in all the hallways of our apartment so I wouldn't trip over my own two feet in the dark. My roommate a few days later while she was a little drunk asked me if I was afraid of the dark. I would love for my sister not be afraid of getting into a car with me. Not because I'm technically a bad driver, `cause she worried I won't see something and we'll end up in an accident.

I'm not ashamed of having this disease. I will easily and gladly tell people about it. But there somethings that when you have perfect or a corrected sight are hard to explain. Some people wish for money and better job. I wish that my vision wasn't as bad as it is. Before the surgery, I was 20/400 uncorrected and corrected I am 20/120. Legally blind is 20/200 corrected. I'm nearly there. I wholeheartedly believe that my vision will get better after this. That's what I'm holding on to.

So as a final word please get an eye exam regularly. It may seem silly if you feel like you're seeing fine but there are many problems that a regular doctor won't be able to see like a optometrist can. Also please become a donor. You can't say you would accept a donation if you were sick and in the same breathe say that you're not a donor. It doesn't work that way. If you believe that you have health conditions that would make it so that your organs wouldn't be viable there are many different ways for the medical and scientific community to use them. There are also ways to make so you only donate certain parts if that's your decision. Even if you choose not to become an organ donor, there are many other types of donation ranging from blood to bone marrow that could save someones life. Please do give it some deep thought.

I wish you all the best of luck.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

P.S. I want to give my thanks to another member of the listserve who I hope is still subscribed because she send hers such a long time ago and didn't include an email address. Lisa, who send hers on 15 February 2013, thank you. Your thoughts on BSL have kept me going through the months of my Interpreting program when I wanted to switch into something easier. I will hopefully be certified by end of July next year.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From Ant-Attracting Urine to Nude Photos

I will connect the two things in the subject line. Just bear with me.

Ancient Egypt was one of the first cultures to develop medicine in a sense that we would recognize today. Egyptian medicine even influenced many great Greek physicians, like the father of medicine, Hippocrates. In the Odyssey, Homer remarks that "In Egypt, the men are more skilled in medicine than any of human kind."

Despite their advanced medicine for the times, there was a disease for which no cure was known. Even the symptoms seemed baffling, but a diagnosis was a certain death sentence. The Egyptians called it a "too great emptying of the urine". Indian physicians referred to it as "honey urine", since the diagnosed's urine would attract ants. In the Middle Ages it would come to be known as "pissing evil". But it was the Greeks who coined the term that stuck: "diabetes" or "to pass through".

Unfortunately, none of these ancient civilizations came up with a method for managing the disease. In fact, we have to skip way ahead to 1921 before a breakthrough happens. Two Canadian researchers, Frederick Grant Banting and Charles Herbert Best, discover that by injecting insulin produced by the pancreases of healthy dogs into diabetic dogs, the diabetic dogs' conditions improved. They realized that without functioning insulin, the body's blood glucose levels would keep rising until they reached a fatal range. This huge step forward has allowed millions to manage the disease.

Type 1 diabetes is a specific form of the disease where the body's immune system attacks the pancreas, rendering it unable to supply the body with the insulin it needs. While type 2 diabetes (most often caused by obesity and lack of physical activity) can be treated with eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight, type 1 cannot. So type 1 diabetics must use insulin from another source. Originally this insulin came from animals, but synthetic insulin was developed in the early 1960s.

Since these breakthroughs, the methods for checking your blood glucose level and administering insulin has come a very long way. Continuous glucose monitors can be inserted under the skin and worn to collect a blood sugar reading every five minutes. Insulin pumps deliver insulin 24/7 to more closely mimic insulin administration of a working pancreas. However, the treatment of the disease is far from perfect. Due to miscalculations, a diabetic's blood sugar can easily reach less than ideal levels. Bodies develop bruises and knots from injections and pump sites. Fingers become calloused from years of blood glucose checking.

In order to raise money for type 1 diabetes research outreach, my amazing friends are embracing their bodies (pancreas included) for a 2015 calendar featuring tasteful nude photos of 13 vibrant models, all of whom have type one diabetes. Some have had it for the majority of their lives. All proceeds for this calendar are going to diabetes organizations. If you'd like to buy a calendar, or just find more info about the project, check out their website (but be warned, there are some racy photos on the site). Just google "T1D Exposed".

TL;DR Google "T1D Exposed" (slightly-NSFW).

"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch." - Garrison Keillor

Pasadena, CA, USA

Saturday, November 22, 2014

You need more Ursula K. Le Guin in your diet.

People of the Listserve --

When I was thirteen, I was visiting my grandparents and passing a lot of time in the public library in their Portland, Oregon neighborhood. My grandfather was very sick; the atmosphere in my grandparents apartment was tense and mournful, and I was happy to spend as many hours as possible out of the house. I'm a lazy reader and usually turn to familiar books to comfort myself when I'm feeling low, but most of the books I knew well had been checked out, so I found myself browsing through fantasy and science fiction titles for books I hadn't yet read.

I don't have a precise memory of coming across Ursula K. Le Guin's "A Wizard of Earthsea," but I'm certain the endpaper maps of the Archipelago, the island-world of Earthsea, captured my attention right away (maps are endlessly seductive.) I hoped, I think, that the story inside would be similar in mood and feeling to C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, or to "The Hobbit."

What I found instead was very different: there were certainly the trappings of adventure. "A Wizard of Earthsea" is a story of magic, and danger, of a young wizard who attends a school for spell casters, a terrible shadowy being, dragons, evil enchanters, and lots of sailing. But it is also a story about pride and humility, about the precarious balance between human desires and the natural world. And about being and not-being. It unsettled and surprised me -- it was melancholy and strange, utterly memorable but elusive in the way that none of the other works of fantasy I had encountered were.

I finished "A Wizard of Earthsea" within a couple of days, and immediately picked up "The Tombs of Atuan," the story of a girl taken from her family and made the priestess of a deathly religion, and how she gains her freedom. It was even shadowier and more troubling than the first book, and it stayed with me all the more after my grandfather died, during that same visit.

Since that time I've read more of Ursula Le Guin's fiction: all of the remaining Earthsea books ("The Farthest Shore," "Tehanu", "The Other Wind" and "Tales of Earthsea") as well as her books "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed," which are works of science fiction, but which focus far more on people and their relationships -- and on ideas -- than on any of the usual themes and ideas one associates with SF. It's difficult to describe the experience -- especially considered in total -- that reading Le Guin's work imparts, but anyone who's had an encounter with one or more of her books will know what I mean.

"The Left Hand of Darkness" is a story about (among other things) about a people whose gender is not determinate, but which changes in response to their situation. It was the first book that I ever read that offered me a glimpse of how constructed and totalizing our ideas about "male" and "female" are. "The Dispossessed" is a similarly eye-opening treatment of ideas about freedom, property, and how we make our societies.

Thisis hardly an exhaustive list of her books, but these are (perhaps) her most essential ones. Sometimes I think the only magic that could exist would have to be of the sort Le Guin has written into being. If you haven't read any of her books, I hope you'll pick one up. Write me if you do. Thanks for reading.

Bill Tipper
Brooklyn, NY

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Love My Girls!!!

There are two little girls who I love more than anything on this planet. Isis (yes her name is Isis but she had it 3 years before the terrorists did) is four years old, and Xyana is two. My wife and I are not related to them in any way shape or form. We have just had the great fortune of knowing them since Isis was 3 months old and Xyana's birth. In my 45 years of life I have not experienced anything better than the pureness and perfection of a child. Watching as they learn to walk and talk are great but it is the smaller things that really amaze me. I especially remember the time I first noticed Isis, who knew how to count for quiet some time, learned that each marshmallow she counted was represented by an actual number. Before that, any group of 5 things could have been counted as 3, 8 or even 10. It was so cool to see her count 5 of them over and over, each represented by its own number. She finally understood! Once when Xyana had done something mean to Isis while we were driving somewhere, my wife was scolding her. Her reply after a short time was “can you guys be quiet up there, I’m trying to sleep. They used to spend the night 3 or 4 times a week but now live 10 hours away. It is not easy to have phone conversations with small children but we manage (mostly due to my wife who is a better communicator than I). It is extremely difficult to be separated from them. It feels as if part of me is missing. I have kept a journal of them since their birth. It chronicles the things they have learned, the funny things they say and do, and things we have done and shared together. It will be a gift to them one day. I love reading through it. Words paint a much better and clearer picture than a photo does. It is nice to relive those times in my head.

Things I like (besides Isis and Xyana).
Laughing, talk radio, Rice-A-Roni, pizza, Chinese food, potato’s in any form except raw, pie, macaroni and cheese, licorice, and my cholesterol and blood pressure medication. Food is defiantly my drug of choice.

I am overweight by about 30 pounds. Loosing weight is very hard for me. I go up and down between 230 and 250. I quit smoking 15 years ago and found it to be very easy to do so. I have never had a craving. Really, I never have. But food is a whole other ballgame.

I hope one day to live close to my girls again so if anyone in or near the western part of Michigan’s upper peninsula needs a hard working honest man, please let me know.

My favorite emails are the ones that tell something about that persons life, the least are those that offer advice. My favorites, in the order I received them have been from:

Deva Niaz (when I was notified I had won I thought it might be a hoax because of your story.)
Garrick Van Buren
Josh (from Ohio)
Taylor Hesselgrave
Steve Ngapo (hope Ella is well)
Warren M.
J. from IN
Brandon (DE)
Andrew (WI)
Fred (Boston)
Megan (Houston)
Gary Marshall
Kristen Teraila
Jonathan Kaufmann
Randi S
Victoria Mark
Wendy (Atlanta)
JP Erkelens
Anonymous (MidAtlantic)
Warwick Poole
Kim D
Cattie (Missouri)
Lauren (Brooklyn)
Kat Hurley
Jessica Friedman

Thanks for your time,
Michigan, USA
(3 words to spare)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Better Days Ahead

These days, lots of people have access to an unprecedented amount of information on how to live a better life. Here are ten ideas I try to practice as often as possible. I always believe we all have better days ahead of us.

1. Call your parents once a week and tell them you love them. If not your folks, call someone you love. Never underestimate the power of your voice expressing affection upon someone.

2. Live below your means and work to save at least 20% of your salary. Set up automatic withdrawals to a separate account. Maximize your retirement contributions. It is never to late to start saving and yes, every penny does count.

3. Little habits make all the difference in life: Stretch & Touch your toes in the shower every day. Brush your teeth. Put your fork down between bites.

4. Do something nice for someone once a day. The cumulative effect of random acts of kindness are worth striving towards.

5. Eat less meat, processed foods, and exercise more. Little changes will always add up.

6. Read more - just not on electronic devices. There’s beauty in focusing some time to shutting off all distractions and reading a book.

7. Music - Make more music, or listen to more Classical, Jazz, and ambient music. All great genres to help meditate.

8. Never stop learning: Learn something new every day. Read something different, draw something, cook something new.

9. Be Optimistic. Before you say or do something, think. Take your time, choose your words carefully, and always be optimistic. This time will never come again, make it count.

10. Save a life - adopt a pet. You may find that your pet may be the one saving your life.

Hope some of these ideals resonate with you all.

Mohit SantRam

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A class of responses

I heard about Listserve, through a class activity around three months ago. Our assignment was to detail what brief statement we would say to 1,000,000 if we had the opportunity. This intrigued a of few my peers and I, which led us to finding The Listserve and subscribing. Miraculously enough I won. I am going to share with you a select few responses that my peers and I had!"Appreciate those around you, whether they are loved ones, friends or just acquaintances, and just for a moment, acknowledge what they mean to you. You never know when they might leave." -Nick G

"People will find that if they take the time to stop, talk to others and listen to their stories, they will find aspects of themselves. They will soon come to the realization that they are not as different as they once thought." - Trevor K

"The world needs more of those who are kind to others and brave in facing their daily struggles. I believe that you who are reading is beyond capable of taking action, whether big or small, to spread love in this world no matter how hard." -Natalie S

"Everything that I could say and everything I should say has left my mind. I am lost in a sea of mediocre thoughts and yet I am still asked to talk to more people than I ever had before. I believe that this in itself can be a lesson to me and maybe to some of you. But it is interesting in the two different ways you may look at it. On one hand maybe I should have been more prepared, ready to address this many people at once. So that I could been seen as intelligent, professional, and have my thoughts respected. Yet without this preparation the experience is entirely different. This frantic search to find something worthwhile to say. It makes me feel a rush of many different emotions, the excitement of being encountered by this new situation, the nervousness of failing, and the joy of having it finished. In the end it gives me a respect for words which I did not have before. A want to pick and choose every word with love and care." - Connor S

"A world in which everyone loved themselves would make more room to love other people fully. Right now, most have negative views towards themselves and in turn project it onto others. If everyone could love themselves, we could spread so much more positivity. I think everyone would be happier." -Kylie C

"We are trained to always be rushing to the next thing. Our schedules fill up too quickly and we end up having to pick what we have time for and what we don’t. Take a quick break from life. Put down the smartphone and go someplace where there is no evidence of human civilization. Experience the beauty of something untouched by man. Take the time to 'stop and smell the roses' because life does not have a point without the simple pleasures." -Andrew N

"I would rather walk off the stage smiling, than be asked to leave." - Nikola M

Thank you all for reading!

Southern California

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Good Stuff

Here’s the thing. I don’t know much, really, about anything. Still trying to figure so much out and I turned thirty this year, which felt big. I’ve always been in love with stories- on film, on TV, in books, music, photographs, canvas… I think our art showcases the best and worst in us and that always moves me. Beyond that there’s not much I can say for certain.

What I do know about is people. I’ll give you a couple reasons why.
I’m the colour of a roasted peanut, ‘cafĂ© con leche’ in Spain. My mother’s side of the fam is Jamaican. A few generations up our family tree is a slave who fell in love with a Scottish landowner who loved her right back, building a home on his land for them and their family. My father’s side is Puerto Rican and my grandmother insists there’s native Taino on her mother’s side while my grandfather was mostly of (the conquering) Spanish descent. The point is this- where we’re supposed to hate sometimes we love and pretty soon nature reclaims the building prejudice is housed in- the vines grow until the cement cracks and the glass disintegrates, leaving nothing but a frame for life to grow, take root, flower and bloom in.

My parents divorced soon after I learned to walk. They both remarried and divorced again- one was a peaceful negotiation, division and sharing of responsibilities and assets. The other was sprawling, vicious warfare that left a crater with an irradiated zone in the middle of my teenage years. Not an unusual story, just a painful one.
I grew up in the USA during the summer with my father and Ireland for the rest of the year with my mother, visiting my grandmother on a hill in the Puerto Rican countryside or lingering over curry goat with my Jamaican grandmother and her church music in her house in Long Island, getting ready for the house to be filled with drinks and reggae when aunts, uncles and cousins came pouring in later.

What I’ve picked up from my family history past and present is how we’re all the same. We all seem to be recipes that require the same ingredients: home, safety, food, water, love… (music, books, movies and art I would argue too but that’s just me)
Having had a front seat to three divorces I can also say that you love someone by listening without judgement, by accepting that everyone is just a person prone to mistakes- lover, parent, sibling or friend. Trying to be kind and trying to understand changes everything, for everyone. It’s hard work because we’re all a work in progress. Sometimes I work in a library and I’ve seen how some people crave kindness like a person parched. There’s no reason it should be that way.

Anyway, after panicking about being picked, I thought I’d share this. Hope you all have enough to make life happy. Thanks for all the stories. Keep ‘em coming. Drop me a line and let me know what moves you.

For me, it’s playing music loud, a good book to hand and maybe a movie later. Cooking good food, loved ones and maybe the odd adventure. The sea. Sunshine. Forests. Mischief and silliness. Writing. Podcasts. You know- the good stuff. Everything else is gravy.

Be well :) xx

Dublin, Ireland

Monday, November 17, 2014

Life with Fewer Regrets

Last week my dad turned 60. Next week I will turn 27. For years now I have wanted to go on a father-son trip with him for a couple of weeks somewhere around the world, while his health still allows him to do so. It seems like an ideal opportunity to know him more as a friend and gain his wisdom in the context of adulthood.

For three years we have both made excuses as to why we should postpone this trip - obligations with family, work, school, etc. My fear is that time will pass and this trip will never happen. Three years will pass, then another three, then another...until it's finally too late.

Life is short. What is something that is important to you that you want to accomplish or see done before you die? It could involve a relationship, a personal goal, a work project, a non-work project, a career move, conquering a fear, starting something, ending something, gaining something, losing something, etc.

I have shared mine, and I would love to hear yours. It may help me in my approach to life as well - travisrutledge[AT]


Travis Rutledge
Southeast Asia

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Dear fellow Listservians,

What a joy and honour to write to all of you today! (no pressure)
l'll show you a glimpse of a deep life passion: traditional Argentine Tango.

At age 19 I heard Piazzolla's music for the first time. Tango, I was told. It was so beautiful that it brought me to tears. The thought of dancing to this touching music was extremely attractive - but hey, there's no point in starting to learn to dance when you're an adult, right? All this difficult, profound stuff like Ballet, Flamenco, Tango is an art and to make something out of that, you should begin at a very young age, when the body and the soul can still be moulded...

So for a long time, I thought that Tango was my Grand Missed Opportunity in life and that I - rooted in Northern Europe - should definitely reincarnate in Buenos Aires instead of in Holland next time ;-)

How wrong I was!

I had my first Tango lesson at age 34 and I dance for 7 years now. It is fantastic.

Argentine Tango originates at the Rio de La Plata (Buenos Aires, Montevideo) around 1900.

Although the appearance seems quite traditional, it is still a young dance and in constant development up till today. It's danced all over the world. However, it is also a kind of hidden sub culture and a secret community if you're not into it.

It's all based on walking-together and pure improvisation. Much more than steps, you learn about a system of movement and a posture, about stretching and relaxing your body (and your mind...) at the same time. About how to interpret music and rythm in a very personal way. You learn about a close embrace with a dance partner and about subtle communication through body language.

Tango is also and especially a social activity.

We go out to Milongas ('tango discos') and dance with different partners. Every joy, every sorrow and even every dull moment can be expressed in Tango. The music is carrying us through, when 20, 50 or 180 couples are sharing a dancefloor together and moving in lanes like on a highway, creating a common flow.

We are 20 or 80 years old. We dance together. We're female, male, hetero, gay, transgender and of any skin colour. Tall or petite, fast or slow, skinny or heavy. Full of energy or dreamy and easy - wearing our best dresses or our favourite jeans. You can be extrovert or introvert, macho or soft or both. We dance together. In an open or close embrace, sharing a heartbeat. We are the truth of ourselves when we dance.

In Tango there is always music, movement, oxytocine (a happy hormone) and the prettiest shoes you've ever seen. There are many friends and fellow dancers to meet, at local or exotic far-away Milongas. The dance is about connection, intimacy, awareness, physical contact and concentration, all immersed in music. There are many broken or healed hearts on the floor. The moment is ours, life is ours, again and again, dance after dance, night after night…

So if you like or need a plan B in life, put on a smile, look for Tango lessons and find your way to the Milongas. A truly fascinating world of music, dance and connection is there to be found!

For the picture: I'm female, Dutch, 40, divorced, a dedicated high school teacher, a student at university (again), a fanatic book reader and a happy Argentine Tango dancer.

I hope you're having a glorious day today :-)

Take care out there -

Gouda, the Netherlands

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Sleepless Ones

Hello Listserve!

My name is Erin, I’m 33 years old, and originally from Kansas, USA. (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) Despite the unfortunate current political landscape of my state, I have to say it was a pretty nice place to grow up and most definitely has the best sunsets of any place I’ve ever seen (no trees or hills has to be good for something, am I right?!).

Anyhow, now I live in Brooklyn, New York and currently work as a trauma therapist at a domestic violence agency. Unfortunately, domestic violence continues to be an extremely prevalent social problem across all races and classes, and is not well understood in our society. In my clinical work, I am most interested in the complex, yet subtle ways that trauma is transmitted inter-generationally. I think that if we can better understand this dynamic on a larger scale it can help prevent future generations from repeating pain from the past. If you have any thoughts on this, I am all ears!

As a human being interacting with other human beings in this world, I have noticed that when we are suffering, feeling sadness, anger, or completely alone, even though it feels scary, it is often when we open up and make ourselves most vulnerable to express that pain to another that we find the deepest of human connections and healing. On the other hand, sometimes you just need to hide under the covers and watch reruns of Cheers (still so hilarious and has the best theme song ever) with a bottle of wine till it all starts to feel better. I think there is a balance somewhere...

Finally, I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Nichol, who introduced me to the Listserve, who is one of the best human beings I know, and who is a great friend. He is also an amazing writer and drink-orderer. I owe him about a bazillion rum punches.

I'll leave you with a poem that speaks to me. It is called The Sleepless Ones

Would love to hear from you,
Brooklyn, NY

The Sleepless OnesWhat if all the people
who could not sleep
at two or three or four
in the morning
left their houses
and went to the parks
what if hundreds, thousands,
went in their solitude
like a stream
and each told their story
what if there were
old women
fearful if they slept
they would die
and young women
unable to conceive
and husbands
having affairs
and children
fearful of failing
and fathers
worried about paying bills
and men
having business troubles
and women unlucky in love
and those that were in physical
and those who were guilty
what if they all left their houses
like a stream
and the moon
illuminated their way and
they came, each one
to tell their stories
would these be the more troubled
of humanity
or would these be
the more passionate of this world
or those who need to create to live
or would these be
the lonely
and I ask you
if they all came to the parks
at night
and told their stories
would the sun on rising
be more radiant and
again I ask you
would they embrace

~ Lawrence Tirnauer

Friday, November 14, 2014


I wanted to give the fine people of Listserve a gift. As I’m a game developer by trade and a general creative-type, I figured what finer way than to develop a game. A few minutes ago, I did just that.

- stack of index cards (or multiple sheets of paper)

- pens/pencils (at least one for each player)

- players (4-8, probably)


- each player should take a card and write down the name of a fictional person. leave lots of room, and pass it to their left.

- each player takes the card they receive and writes down a sentence or two of public knowledge about the name on the card, and passes it to their left.

- each player takes the card they receive, and writes down (on the back) a sentence or two of a deep dark secret involving the name on the card, and after folding it to hide the secret, passes to their left.

- the card you receive is now your identity for the remainder of the evening. Your goal is to uncover all the other players secrets, while hiding your own.

- the secret works best if it’s something that would ruin the character completely if it were to be revealed
- intertwined secrets can be especially fun if it’s something that involves another character, and recall you’ve seen two names before you write the secret for the third
- remember that at least one person knows your secret from the moment you start the game, because they wrote it down
- get into character as much as you can. You’ll feel silly at first, but it’s WAY more fun.
- it can be interesting to establish prior knowledge and setting before you start creating the cards, such as: all characters are trapped in a bomb shelter together; or they’re kids spending the night in a haunted mansion on a dare; or The Inspector won’t let anyone leave until he figures out who murdered The Victim

Have fun!

Andy Berdan
London, ON, Canada

PS. if anyone plays Secrets, or even has a better name for it besides the subject of this email, I’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Even the very basic first steps into Artificial Intelligence fascinate me. From the weird unknown world of film where AI is perceived as something extraordinarily difficult to the very realistic use of if in our everyday life thought Siri or Google Now. At this moment I am taking a course in it at my local university and would like to tell you a little about what it is.

AI is the process of understanding of how people think on a fundamental level. Instead of trying to figure out how each individual neuron in your brain works, AI tries to generalized this by think computationally. An easy way of understanding this, is as The Wright Brothers, they didn't look at birds and try to model every single bone, muscle and feather; instead they tried to understand the general basic such as aerodynamics and how to get a similar effect using everyday materials.

Most of the time when you think you apply some kind of a computational scheme, for example if you are trying to find your car keys, you know that they are usually either in your pocket or on the table. So the next logical step would be to check your pocket, if you do not find anything then that means that they are on a table. This is done automatically by your brain without you realising most of the time. If we scale this problem up, to say going grocery shopping, then it become a lot more difficult: what products to buy, at which supermarket(better quality, closer location, cheaper prices), how to carry them home(on car or by foot, limiting the amount of groceries you are able to buy). This becomes such a complex task that we have to individually dedicate our time to thinking about this, it doesn't happen automatically(although sometime it does, such as a simple milk run). Most of what AI does is try to solve these similar problems using our modern computers. They have an input of the different variables and elements, such as possible groceries, possible stores, store information, etc; and then they calculate the most efficient and best way to shop. The more variables that are present the better the choice becomes but at the same time the more difficult it is to calculate. This kind of AI is used in many Voice recognition systems, they have a set amount of words and phrases that they know and then they try to listen for when you tell them one of them.

AI has an incredibly wide application in our modern world, it could be used to model efficient food transportation routes, it could provide the least congested city street using smart traffic lights, it could provide incredible realistic gaming scenarios and it already provide fairly good voice recognition.

This is just a little peek at what AI is, if you are interested read the book called 'Thinking as Computation' it covers the examples I have here as well as many others.

Toronto, Canada

PS If you are by any change looking for a developer starting May 2015 please don't hesitate to contact me. I am open to working anywhere in the world!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I miss the days of canned salmon

Winter means more time spent being productive and less time spent shaving my legs. I have a dog that looks like a loaf of bread, and I rely on my iPhone to tell me when I am about to start my period.

In my fridge right now all I have is expired almond milk, raspberries, and like 8 different kinds of cheese. I'm really trying to be a better cook, and I have finally mastered the milk to cereal ratio – now I can move on to more challenging recipes like microwave rice and sandwiches.

I tried online dating for a while, and then I went on a first date with a guy who asked me if I had ever had an abortion, and another with a guy who showed me a picture of a unicorn onesie that he proudly owned.

Let me paint you the picture of a guy who is 6 feet tall (or taller), 250 lbs (or bigger), definitely has a beard, maybe some freckles and is hopefully a ginger. If you are actually picturing a real live person who meets these criteria and is single and not a murderer, please email me.

I would also welcome your emails for the following:

-Book recommendations

-If you or someone you know has fought or is currently fighting cancer, I would like to have Texas 4000 dedicate a ride to you/them.

-If you are a basic bitch who wants to commiserate about how miserably impossible it is to find a good man these days, and how your grandpa also probably told you that our generation is going to extinct the human race because we aren't making enough babies.

-If you have something to say that no one else will listen to.

-If you are just DYING to send a picture to someone bragging about how cute your dog is, I'm your girl.

Fighting Cancer Every Mile,

Jessica Friedman
Austin, Texas

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Graphene and Cupcakes

Hello Listservers!

First of all, shout out to my brother Karthik who introduced me to this awesomeness! Do check out his start up 'Learnflow'.

Now little about me, I am Pranoti, originally from India currently studying in Stuttgart, Germany. I have been working in the field of graphene (supercool stuff) since one year and have pretty promising results. ;)
I have been traveling a lot lately due to work and conferences. recently went to South Korea, alone, thought I will freak out but it went so well!

Life lessons:
Move to a different continent if you want to find the real you. It is super hard at the beginning but trust me, it gets better!
Follow your dreams but always have a back up plan.
To get through good or bad times, look in the mirror and smile. :)

Need your thoughts!
I love my job but I want to start something on the side. Like selling paintings, making boxes. Your ideas are always welcome!

I want to go backpacking and know nothing about me. Instead of reading blogs online I would like to know from You, your suggestions, tips, experiences! I start from scratch so tell me everything! :D

If you want to be updated with nice pictures, find me on instagram @zecuppycake.
In case any of you wants to vent out / discuss anything, shoot me an email at prankslistserve[AT]

Have fun!

- P
Stuttgart, Germany

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Lesson in Futility (One-Act Dramatization)

According to Handbags, the legendary (depending on who you ask) pub-quiz team, if you’re not sure what to write, just jot down ‘Frank Lampard’. I was tempted to go with that, and only that, but for a joke that six people would get, none of whom subscribe to this list, it seemed a waste. Instead, a pointless story!

Once upon a time (roughly five weeks ago), there was a little boy (34-year-old man) whose birthday was fast approaching. His mother, off in distant lands (like…40 minutes away), sent by post (texted) an inquiry regarding his wishes for celebrating the occasion.

“I will not have you sully the day with crass commercialism,” the boy insisted.

“Fine. You’re getting a gift card,” came the reply. He thought to protest, but after conferring with numerous moms, he learned the futility of asking for nothing.

“Look…maybe knit me a sweater? A tacky one, with red and white stripes? Maybe a Southampton (SECOND PLACE OMIGOSH) crest on the chest?”Silence followed.

When the day arrived, the boy met his family for a birthday meal (it was one heck of a brunch, with crepes and everything). Pleasantries were bandied about, birthday cards distributed, dessert munched (and immediately regretted (thighs, butts, the usual complaints)). Though the anticipation was great, the boy saved the card from his mother for last. The others were read quickly, and he was pleased to note that all had respected his wishes to make the day about quality time, not cheapened by thoughtless plastic ‘gifts’. Then, one card remained.

The boy looked to his mother, the sealed card in his trembling hands. She grinned. Not the sort of grin that says, “Today, we celebrate the anniversary of my son’s birth.” A grin that said, “Hey, remember that time you jokingly asked for a 32,256-piece jigsaw puzzle for Christmas, a puzzle so large that it comes with a handcart so you can transport it, a monstrosity so monstrous that you'd have to move into a larger house if you ever hope to assemble it, and then I totally bought it for you? Enjoy your card, sucker.”

Slowly, the boy slid a finger under the flap of the envelope, and gently pried the flap free of that glue strip thing, the one that tastes absolutely awful but is always there. He peered inside, not daring to actually remove the contents. A normal birthday card. But…inside the card…she wouldn’t…

The grin sharpened. “There. Go buy yourself some yarn and knit your own damn sweater”.

The boy, now in possession of a gift card good for up to $50 worth of yarn, needles and other knitting supplies from a specialty shop, fumed in his seat. He shot (figurative) daggers from his eyes into the leftover crumbs of his quiche. “She will not get the better of me…not on my birthday.”

So…uh…yeah. Now I knit. Because I can call a bluff, too. Granted, I’m starting with a scarf, because a custom sweater probably isn’t the most encouraging way to start the hobby. You know what makes watching a Cincinnati Bengals game less stressful? Dealing with the agony of finding a missed stitch from eight rows ago, that’s what. Dalton keeps passing to defenders? Whatever, I just found some twisted loops that are going to cost me 20 minutes. I spent the earlier part of this evening figuring out how to tink and frog. Decided on a full-on frog, removing an entire white stripe from a Saints (SERIOUSLY…SECOND) classic design, and almost ruined two Sundays’ work. There will be a scar on the edge.

Fact: My mom is hilarious

Cincinnati, OH, USA

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Happy moments in Time

So the object of this email is: Happy moments in Time.

In reference to Anathema's song "Shroud of False" which begins with " We are just a moment in time".It's just a moment, we are just a moment, and you are just a moment in Time, so make it a happy moment :)

Whenever I wish a happy birthday to someone, I wish him/her plenty of "happy moments", they can be minutes and they can be seconds, but they are happy, you feel you are happy during these moments, you should cherrish them. They are really important in making your day a better day, your week a better week and your life a better one :)

Listen to your favourite songs often, and Share them with someone you like.
Dance with people you don't even know and feel that you communicate somehow with your moves. It's strange and funny at the same time :D
Eat your favourite dishes often, eat chocolate daily, drink your favourite beer often!
Watch a movie you like a lot and that you didn't watch for a long time!
Help each other! Be there when someone needs you! Feel as if you were in his/her position! Make a change whatever slight change it can be, but make things different!
Enjoy your days to the fullest, and surround yourself with people you love, with people to whom you do matter, with people that can make you happy!
Make efforts to reach your goals, sacrifice is worth it when you would like to achieve something! REALLY WORTH IT!! You would feel so grateful to yourself and so thrilled for having made something important!
Be grateful to people! Be thankful to life!
Speak your mind and tell things as they are in your mind, be natural spontaneous!
If ever someone bothers you by saying something he/she shouldn't have said, don't pay attention, skip it and think of something else. Not worth it!
Listen to music very often, music is important, music is beautiful, and music is eloquent! Music can trenscend your soul and your body! Music is powerful!!

Life is not about having or possessing things, it's about being someone and leaving a trace for the others.

These are not pieces of advice but these are the things I tell myself very often in order to become a better version of myself.

You are maybe telling yourself that I am a happy girl and that I don't have problems.
FALSE! We all do have our problems but life is too short to focus only on the negative!

Thank you Cyrine namouri for letting me know about LISTSERVE :D You are an awesome woman, you are a fabulous and true friend and you are a beautiful human being :) <3

Just to finish; I am from Tunisia :) My name is Cheima or Sheima which means virtue.

Talking about Time, moments and days, listen to Explosions in The Sky- Remember me as a time of Day. It's really beautiful :)

Oh and one last thing: Try to travel as much as you can afford to, you don't know how much impact seeing people from different backgrounds can have on your soul! I mean like deep impact on you as a human being! And come to Tunisia if ever you travel :D

Drop me an email where you tell me your notion of happiness in one word or one sentence :D I would be happy to answer, and to read it!

See ya :D somewhere, somehow ..


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Questions for you: Psychology, dance, Disney, dating (and more!)

Hey Everyone!!!

My name is Holly and I’m a sophomore at Sweet Briar College in Virginia (USA), but I’m originally from Western Massachusetts. First things first, if you’ve never thought about a women’s college-do it! I wasn’t looking for one but I fell in love with SBC the second I stepped on campus. If you’re interested email me, I work in admissions!

This past weekend I had my heart broken. Last year I got a grant to go do mission work and research in Burkina Faso over winter break 2015 but with everything going on over there it isn’t looking good. Ever since my school participated in Operation Christmas Child when I was in 5th grade I’ve been in love with the country. Maybe it’s selfish, but I am so angry that this is going on RIGHT NOW. Ugh, maybe things will get better by January, I’ll take any prayers and crossed fingers!

I want to be a clinical psychologist when I “grow up”. Any tips on getting into a PhD program? I’m nervous already. I’m sort of a perfectionist but I’m afraid I won’t get in anywhere, even though I still have time.

I LOVE dance. I’ve done ballet since I was five, I’ll never be a professional but I love everything about it. I’m actually writing a paper on the origins of ballet right now. If you love it as much as I do, let’s talk! Any and every type of dance interests me. Tell me your stories, your memories of dancing; ballet, folk dancing, dancing around your living room. There is nothing I am more passionate about than dance.

I’m definitely a feminist but Cinderella is my favorite. Is anyone else in love with Disney? Also I love watching Disney World proposals on youtube J

I’m studying abroad in Sevilla next year and I’m so excited! Any tips or must dos? Also, has anyone raised bilingual children? I’m interested in language acquisition from a psychological perspective and would love to hear stories. Does anyone know any psychology professors at La Universidad de Sevilla? I’d love to work in a lab when I’m over there.

PSA: College age boys/men: I’m not the only one frustrated with this whole “talking” garbage, right? I want to go on dates (I don’t mind splitting the bill!!) and dress up for someone. I feel like both cell phone technology and hook-up culture has destroyed dating. I don’t want to be expected to be constantly texting someone one, I have things to do during the week. I am in such a relationship rut and I can’t seem to do anything about it. Wanna go back to when dating was a thing? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Names! I love them. If you had to name a baby boy and girl right now, what would you name them? Why? What are your favorite names? Do you like your name? I’m currently in love with Hypatia Pearl and Tucker Atlas.

I ran my first half marathon in October. 1.5 years ago I couldn’t run a mile. I promise you can do anything and everything!!

I think Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt are perfection.

If any of this interests you I’d love to talk!

Stay Beautiful!!

Love and Lollies,

Sweet Briar, Virginia, USA

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pondering paradoxes

Initial excitement slowly dissipated into agony over what I, an 18-year-old college student, could possibly contribute to your life. As the generous 48-hour period faded, disparate ideas tumbled in my mind, colliding but never forming coherent connections - until I realized the purpose of this golden 48-hour opportunity is not to be didactic, but to offer my organic approach to life.

Annual traditions. Weekly obligations. The daily commute to work. All quite common occurrences at throughout my 18 years. Yet what keeps these seemingly repetitive events from being stale, boring, and taken for granted is that each time the calender rolls around, they have served as checkpoints for my intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth. We often value the last concert, or last meal with a friend, as moments to reflect, but what about all the intermediate experiences that could serve even more nuanced purposes and affect how we continue to see these experiences?

Many indelible memories and experiences point to a certain paradox that I’ve gained a deeper understanding of every year: repetition of similar events illuminates contrast and change.

1. Harmonizing with friends while we wait for the train; peering behind heavy, velvet curtains before a concert - both mellow but blissful details of my friendship with choir friends. Perhaps the most meaningful memories are the repeated ones: singing on the same concert stage, in the same dress, with the same people, provides opportunity to consider what HAS changed and highlights how I have developed a deeper friendship with these people, more love for my choir, and more appreciation for music.

2. Peeling a fleshy Costa Rican mango, feeling the warm juice trickle down my cheeks and leave sticky squiggles on my face as I crinkle my nose and sink into my chair after a long day of building and teaching - every high-schooler at my Christian high school embarks on a service trip every spring, where where year after year, we cultivate a deeper, more Christ-like mentality for service. As we served others until exhaustion, we became more sensitized to not our own contribution, but the sacrificial acts of those teachers who taught us that service is valuable, even if our sacrifices go unrecognized.

3. As I walk down the now all-too-familiar quad of my college, I suddenly considered the drastic difference between the girl who stood there five months ago, super uncertain about whether to commit to the school, and the girl who now uses the contrast between that uncertainty and her present love for the school to deeply appreciate the introspection she underwent to arrive at the best decision she’s made thus far in her life. I pull out a voice recording from when I visited the college five months ago, my indecisive voice sounding so foreign because of the many heartbreaking and heartwarming events that occurred between the voice of the girl I hear through my phone and the voice of the girl who now is able to tell others confidently where God wants her to be for the next four years. And every time I walk through this quad, I’m reminded of His provision and guidance - reminders I’ll relive every time I walk through this quad and promises I’ll need to hold onto tenaciously for future moments of uncertainty and struggle.

From formal events such as returning to the same concert stage, to overlooked events such as walking down a certain road, many experiences have the potential to illuminate the contrast between our former and present selves and highlight our growth in ways both tangible and intangible.

May you revel in the fulfilling satisfaction of expanding your mind to understand yourself deeper, and expanding your soul to find deeper joy in treating every moment as a transformative privilege.

What have been meaningful repetitions in your life?

On a completely unrelated note, I’ve started a project assessing the correlation between one’s gender, age, ethnicity, and Love Language preference, and you lovely Listservians are the perfect audience to address! If you’d like to partake in this study, just email me, I’ll email the survey and the results to everyone who indicates interest.

Sophia Sun
Claremont, California

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How Life Happened For Me

One of the best pieces of advice that ever jumped off the page for me: Let go of your personal history.

At first it seemed like a tough pill to swallow: wait! what? where are you going with that? I earned that, dammit.

But it was only in that moment when I realized that the very things, all along, I would’ve liked to have done without, I clung to like a badge of honor.

So which one was it? Do I want it, or not.

Could I really be me without some of those very hurtful, harmful and even horrifying things?

I spent much of my life trying to make “victim” cool or chic. It’s what I was. The cards I was dealt, so why not make the best of ‘em, right?

With some special mental calculator, I had worked out the math: the world owed me. And I was willing to wait. And wait.

I was jaded, and perhaps rightfully so. I’d been the sole witness to my mother’s murder. I was only in kindergarten when I testified against my father. Even after his conviction, he continued to deny what I’d seen with my own two eyes. I was eight when he finally led authorities to her body and came clean of his crime. We had all only just begun to move on.

And move on we did, eventually. But not without the scars that color your attitude, your relationships, your perspective.

It had its upsides; I won’t lie. I grew up with my grandmother, which as you can imagine, was a lot of dessert. In high school I was fun and popular, but I could also get down with the dark emo kids, writing poetry, and cutting in the closet after school. Self medication was a big plus; I made a sport of it. Winning on all accounts.

But the Bandaids never stayed put. The gaping wounds never sealed. They still oozed anger and resentment and tears of aching grief.

I was thirty when I read those words: Let go of your personal history. Years of relationships tainted by mistrust, jealousy and fear of abandonment proved that there was absolutely nothing chic about playing victim.

I was ready to let go. To accept. To be grateful even.

No longer did I believe that all this had happened to me. I finally understood that it had happened for me.

They were my cards, yes, but whose to say whether they were good or bad. They just were.

And looking back, I’m pretty darn proud of how I played them. Even in ignorance, I did my best.

That was six years ago now, when I let go. No meltdowns since or need for self medication. I kid you not, I have yet to have a bad day since. I have my moments, yes. Those triggers still hit when I want to spill my guts say one more time to justify those feelings I’m no stranger to, but I don’t. I won’t.

It’s just a story. I remind myself. It’s just a useless story.

Besides, I’m too busy these days trying to figure out just what it is I owe the world.

In gratitude,

kat hurley

Thanks for reading! And thank you for your stories.

Feedback is always welcome.

Oh, and shoutout to Heather Evans;)


Kat Hurley is the author of I Think I’ll Make It: A true story of lost and found, she’s also a speaker and personal development coach, making over motivation at The Year of Magical Dreaming (tyomd dot com). Also, on the twitter at underscore kathurley.

kat hurley
Brooklyn, ny

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

“Try everything once, except folk dancing and incest.” ― ...

“Try everything once, except folk dancing and incest.”

― Thomas Beecham

Cincinnati, OH

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Plan secretly and without respite

"You must always have a secret plan. Everything depends on this: it is the only question. So as not to be conquered by the conquered territory in which you lead your life, so as not to feel the horrible weight of inertia wrecking your will and bending you to the ground, so as not to spend a single night more wondering what there is to do or how to connect with your neighbors and countrymen, you must make secret plans without respite. Plan for adventure, plan for pleasure, plan do pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, lay plans constantly.

And when you come to, on the steps of the presidential palace, in the green grass beside the highway, in your cell's gloomy solitude, your secret plan finished or foiled, ask your comrades, as your cellmates, ask the wind, the waves, the stars, the sea, ask everything that ponders, everything that wanders, everything that sings, everything that stings- ask them what time it is; and your comrades, your cellmates, the wind, the waves, the stars, the sea all will answer: "It is time for a new secret plan. So as not to be the martyred slave of routine, plan adventure, plan pleasure, plan pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, plan secretly and without respite." *

* from "Recipes for Disaster"

Brighton, UK

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm Seth, 26 years old, married, born and raised in Whitesbu...

I'm Seth, 26 years old, married, born and raised in Whitesburg, KY, now living in Lexington, KY. Kentucky is an awesome state.

I recently finished a degree in architecture, and now I'm working toward becoming licensed. I love design, and the process of making buildings.

Some of my hobbies are computer programming, and sewing. One of my goals for the next two years is to design a machine for weaving fabric that operates mostly on its own (small, for home/personal use). I love new technologies like 3d printing (see: The Maker Movement).

I am a Christian, I go to church with an amazing group of people, we help each other become better.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or just want to say hi, I'd love to hear from you.

Seth Gover
Lexington, KY, USA

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta, GA, USA

I live and work at a special place on Earth called The Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Goat Farm is an experimental hybrid business model inspired by economic/innovation theories of population density and diversity of disciplines. This place is a magical nugget in the middle of a blooming metropolitan city.

We are a for profit arts center with a model designed to attract a dense collection of forward-thinking ventures. We recognize that consistent vanguard arts programming creates a progressive “Center of Gravity” brand for many of Atlanta's thought leaders and their ventures. We have a myriad of tenants -- ranging from a nanotechnology lab, blacksmith shop, cloud/mobile application architecture developers, fashion designers, industrial product designers, engineers, game theorists, architects, non-profits, and much more. We also produce nearly 150 programs annually in classical & contemporary music, traditional and experimental theater, film screenings, literary programs, contemporary dance, contemporary performance, art exhibitions, workshops, seminars & panel discussions.

We believe that pattern-breaking leads to new thinking and new thinking leads to unorthodox problem solving. Interacting with other creatives outside of your discipline can catalyze pattern-breaking and get you looking in new directions.

We have current goals to create density and revitalize the underused parts of downtown without causing harmful displacement and gentrification. We aspire for idea capital to stay in Atlanta.

And we're not the only ones championing this city! Atlanta is an intricate fabric threaded with a colorful culture full of top universities, civic innovation, creative start-ups, and fried food. Google Andre 3000's recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air about Outkast's roots and how you can get away with things in Atlanta/the South that you couldn't elsewhere.

Come visit Atlanta sometime! "Like" The Goat Farm on Facebook! Our traffic sucks!

Allie Bashuk
Atlanta, GA