Thursday, April 30, 2015

Provoke Accountability

Hi Listserve,

I live and work in Washington D.C. I'm 25 and I've worked in the DC non-profit world my entire professional life. While much can be said about the pros and cons of working in such a field, in my opinion the best part is working for an organization with a mission you can believe in. So I'd like to use this space to share some information about the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

Lewis Black called POGO "the most ass-kicking, name-taking, bunch of goodie-two-shoes, good government types in America."

POGO is a nonpartisan, independent watchdog that champions good government reform in the U.S. We work with whistleblowers, government insiders and the Congress to expose problems and explore solutions. For 35 years POGO has investigated corruption, waste, and misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable and ethical federal government. We work on all kinds of issues, from wasteful spending in the defense department, to conflicts of interest on Wall Street, to faulty medical devices approved by the FDA, to whistleblower retaliation in the VA and much more.

I wanted to talk about POGO here because I often feel like it's hard not to see a big old cloud of doom over the capitol these days. Frustration with the U.S. Congress is at all time high and many Americans feel like they're not being heard. But there are still people and organizations that devote themselves to fixing these seemingly insurmountable problems. And they have not been without their successes.

I don't want to end this on a downer so here are a few fun facts I've learned during my time as a nuclear security investigator at POGO:

The world's largest nuclear stockpile is guarded, in part, by over 80 military dolphins trained by the U.S. Navy. Also around 50 sea lions.

There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.

In 1962 a U.S. B-52 bomber accidentally dropped two hydrogen bombs on North Carolina. One of the bombs went through all of the arming stages except one, and it is only because one switch wasn't switched that there wasn't a full scale thermonuclear explosion in NC.

Thank-you to everyone for reading this and to the Listserve for this very cool platform. Check out POGO's website if you want to know more about what we do and check out Eric Schlosser's book Command and Control for more fun stories of near nuclear disasters.

Washington D.C

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Glitch out with some binary art

((function(f){"use strict";var;bdy.innerHTML="";"repeat";var c=document.createElement("canvas");var d=c.getContext('2d');var e="";c.width=f;c.height=f;var g=d.createImageData(f,f);var h=[f*f];var i=;var j=function(z){var;for(var x=0;x<f;x++){for(var y=0;y<f;y++){var b=(x+y*f)*4;a[b+0]=(h[b].r*z)%255;a[b+1]=(h[b].g*z)%255;a[b+2]=(h[b].b*z)%255;a[b+3]=255}}d.putImageData(g,0,0);e=c.toDataURL();i.push('url('+e+')')};var k=0,dir=1;var l=function(){[k];k+=dir;if(k===f)dir=-1;if(k===0)dir=1};for(var x=0;x<f;x++){for(var y=0;y<f;y++){var m=(x+y*f)*4;h[m]={r:parseInt((x^y)),g:parseInt((x|y)),b:parseInt((x&y))}}}for(var z=0;z<f;z++){j(z)}setInterval(l,200)})(300))

/*Instructions: Open your browser dev tools and copy/paste the above javascript into the console and press enter. If you need help ask a friend. Glitch out and enjoy. I made the first version of the above in 1996 in C. Ever since then on the net I've gone by the handle binarymax. Now I wear a suit and tie when I go to meetings, but deep down I'm still edgy enough for the nickname. Peace, Love, Art, Code.*/

Max Irwin (aka binarymax)
St Leonards On Sea, UK

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This was the single word response of Anthony McAuliffe sent to the Germans’ ultimatum for surrender.


There was a clown, I forget his name, but he once said that to be entertaining, you must be interested, not interesting. So long as someone has a passion or an eagerness for something, even the most mundane things come alive!

Words. Auto-Antonyms are words that can act as opposites of themselves. Fast: can be to move quickly, or can be used as an adverb “To hold fast” means to not move.

Silly competitions. I took 6th place in the North American Wife Carrying Championship. It took me and my “wife” 19 hours of driving, rush hours in New York, Philadelphia and DC, my car’s water pump, and a house fire to get there and back. I competed in the World Stone Skimming Competition on Easdale Island in Scotland. It took me two attempts to get to it, and I nearly missed it the second time if I hadn’t had amazing luck hitchhiking. Next on my list is the Woolly Worm festival in North Carolina I’ll go to one day… They’re all so silly and wonderful.

Puzzle Hunts. I am currently planning my most cunning and amazing Puzzle hunt Yet! It’s going to have Payphones, Reverse-Geo Caches, Hollow books, and an exciting plot. This is possibly my greatest passion; I once cut a bowling ball in half with a hand saw to hide a clue. I collected acorns outside of a tattoo parlor, painted them, and put them into a moonshine jug to create another clue. Tell me of your puzzles and scavenger hunt adventures!

Puss in Boots. Do you know the story of Puss in Boots? No? No need to read it. That’s the whole point: What you imagine it to be, if you believe it enough, it will be come true. Lie your way into a truth. I believe that people can transform themselves, so it must be true.

Time. Many of the days of the week are named after visible celestial bodies. Moon-day, Sun-Day, Saturn-day. It’s easy to see in Spanish as well: Llunes. Meircoles. Thor’s Day, however, is another story… How months got their names is wonderful as well!

Time-space. I studied physics and philosophy at the University of Virginia so That I might be able to better understand the world. Time Dilation, Relativity, and any Modern Physics or Astronomy is beautiful and amazing…

And all the people around me. People are deeply interesting, full of detail and character; I have to appreciate all those whom help create this rich and beautiful world.

To have a better understanding of something is to appreciate it more.

What sparks your life? Do any of these topics fascinate you?

[I’m originally from a small 700 person town in Wyoming. I Moved away to explore the world. Found rent to be a waste of time, and decided to not pay it for one year. That year turned into four, and I did what traveling I was able and took what jobs I could: Australian wooden bridge inspector, Texas Museum exhibit creator, unicycle instructor. I’m going to Portland State this Fall to get my Masters of Education to teach Physics and Special Education. If you have any helpful material or advice, please contact me. My dreams are to Sail! Anywhere. And to work in Antarctica. Let me know if you know about either of those.

Movies: The Brothers Bloom, The Fall
Music: A House A Home- Alialujah Choir, You go Down Smooth- Lake Street Drive, Roll the Bones- Shakey Graves.]

Philip (onion) Clark
Eugene, OR

Monday, April 27, 2015

On votes for women, raising hell, and your $20

How rare and amazing is it to set your sights on what you suspect might be your dream job, aggressively pursue said job, and find that in practice you love it even more than you could have imagined?

Well, it happened to me. And then I quit. Because something fell into my lap and I felt a sense of duty mixed with a sense of impending FOMO.

I would win the listserve while traveling across Iowa in a 12-passenger van on day five of my new job. I can't offer you any solid life advice because I don't know yet whether this crazy and borderline idiotic thing I just did will pay off or not.

But I do know that there is a reason I'm here. It's the thing that led me to my dream job (did I mention I loved that job?) and to this new situation and will probably ultimately drive me to do something even more outlandish at some future point. And that is that 95 years ago, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment (thanks, Harry T. Burn - google it) and [many] women gained the constitutional right to vote.

I think about this a lot. So much, in fact, that my only tattoo says "8.18.1920." I just can't get over the fact that less than 100 years ago, a bunch of badass women who were told to leave the politics to the menfolk decided they were going to be both seen and heard and fought like hell to demand a voice in their government. Women my age (27) and younger pulled together an epic suffrage parade on the day of President Wilson's inauguration, strategized with workers and society women, picketed the White House with the President's own words on democracy, met with senators they couldn't vote for, got arrested, went on hunger strikes in prison. And in the end, they won.

They made history - and now I feel I owe it to them to raise some hell. Or at the very least, vote.

Three options for what you could do next:

1) Watch the movie Iron Jawed Angels. Hillary Swank as Alice Paul (aka the most inspiring historical figure you've never heard of) is one of the best things that has ever happened in American cinema.
2) Go see what the Women on 20s campaign is all about, because as I have just explained, learning about women who made history makes this generation of women feel like we can do it, too. Obviously I voted for Alice Paul (see above).
3) Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote & has what they need on Election Day. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the number of voters disenfranchised in 2014 in North Carolina by harsh new voter ID laws and restrictions on voting hours may have been the margin of victory. What?! We cannot let that kind of thing happen in this country.

Do you also feel strongly about voting? Have a favorite historical figure who inspires you? Are you looking for someone to argue with about whether the National Woman's Party or the National American Woman Suffrage Association got the strategy right first? You should definitely tell me.

Thanks for reading & thanks to my friend Laura for telling me the Listserve existed. Read her newsletter, Everything Changes, because it is fabulous. I think you can subscribe through the Awl.

Council Bluffs, Iowa/Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On History

On History

Gavrilo Princip knew the tension in Europe
Was high, so he caused the whole nation to erupt
In a bloody war, and he went out and killed
Archduke Ferdinand and yo, that wasn't ill!

BOOM! Like a powder keg, the Earth exploded
Like a fat kid after dinner feeling bloated
Allied powers v. Axis powers
For four years? 24 hours if they had Jack Bauer

At first USA followed international law…


The above is what I can remember from the rap I wrote on World War I when I was about 15 for a World History class. I thought it was incredibly clever. I am glad to inform you all that as an adult, I now know that Europe is not, in fact, a nation, as I referred to it in the first stanza.


I currently live in Chicago, and am searching for a good tattoo artist who does detailed custom black & gray stuff, so if you’ve had any similar work done and it was a positive experience, please let me know!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Eating the Tangerine

Hello all,

Thanks so much for the opportunity for a few minutes of your time. I recognize the specialness of this experience, and thank you all for the chance to be a part of it! If you’re strapped for time, just jump to the centered paragraph at the end.

I’m at a place in life where I’m more exhausted than I think I've ever been. It’s been a rough two years. It was a place of privilege and opportunity that left me this tired, but at the end of the day, it doesn't make it any easier to put one foot in front of the other.

I was so exhausted that when I got the email that I had won, I honestly thought about just passing, since the pressure of writing anything felt like too much. Isn't that crazy? Has anyone else thought the same thing? Previously, when I thought about winning, I always had images or idea of sending something fun and positive.

So with that, this is the best I have for you: Something that has helped me before was mindfulness. Not sure, maybe it can help someone else. My favorite passage on mindfulness is below by Thich Nhat Hanh from The Miracle of Mindfulness. There are more sections than 600 words allow, so check it out.

The place it’s easiest for me to be mindful is in the kitchen. In the coming weeks, I’m going to have more free time than I know what to do with, and to be honest, that’s frightening. If you have a recipe you love, please send it on.

Thanks for the chance to focus on one section of the tangerine tonight. If you’re ever in the Washington, D.C area and looking for a good conversation or someone to grab a cup of coffee with, let me know!

Many years ago, a young man named Jim Forest asked me to teach him about the practice of mindfulness. But when I offered him some tangerines, he continued telling me about the many projects he was involved in — his work for peace, social justice, and so on. He was eating, but, at the same time, he was thinking and talking. I was really there, and that is why I was aware of what was going on. He peeled a tangerine, tossed the sections of it into his mouth, and quickly chewed and swallowed. I said, “Jim, stop! Eat your tangerine.” He looked at me and understood. So he stopped talking and began to eat much more slowly and mindfully. He separated each of the remaining sections, smelled their beautiful fragrance, put one section at a time into his mouth, and felt all the juices surrounding his tongue. Tasting and eating his tangerines in this way took a few minutes, but he knew we had the time for that. When he finished, I said, “Good.” I knew that the tangerine had become real, the eater of the tangerines had become real, and life had become real at that moment. What is the purpose of eating a tangerine? It is to eat the tanger­ine. During the time you eat a tangerine, eating that tanger­ine is the most important thing in your life

Washington, D.C

Friday, April 24, 2015

Music Goosebumps

Hello everyone!

There's a phenomenon that exists only auditorily, wherein certain sounds or musical phrases can elicit a response similar to having sex, eating fried food or doing recreational drugs. You feel a chill down your spine, you get goosebumps on your skin, and you become slightly euphoric (due to the sudden flood of dopamine).

While infrequent, this response to certain musical phrases or sounds makes the act of listening to music one of the most pleasurable activities in which one can engage. I've therefore spent a good amount of time digging through my mental trove of sounds that cause me to react this way, and have shared them with you below.

You can copy and paste the string of characters below to the end of Youtube's homepage URL (or replace that same part of the URL of any specific Youtube video) to be taken to the exact part of the song I've specified.

The harmonica solo in Beautiful Way by Beck:


The synth breakdown in Hustler by Simian Mobile Disco:

/watch?v=I_64fZcttGg&t=2m38s (even more fitting as the melody undergoes changes to the attack, decay, sustain and release while being played...coincidentally the name of the album)

The rockabilly guitar lick in Julius by Phish:

/watch?v=pCtsvVRsqv0&t=4m9s (this one's hard to distinguish from the rest of the music, but it's faded towards the right channel if that helps)

The entirety of Gossipo Perpetuo by Jean-Jacques Perrey:


The start/stop of the beginning of Deathbag by Hannibal Montana


The key change in Alfonso Muskedunder by Todd Terje:


The ascending and descending guitar lick in Machu Picchu by The Strokes:

/watch?v=3JxoUo43Zg8&t=1m3s (this one's also hard to make out, and also in the right channel)

The galloping, arpeggiated synth throughout Rydeen by Yellow Magic Orchestra:


The ascending transition in Arcades by C2C:


The first several notes of Like a Ghost in Your Own Life by Ulrich Schnauss:


The main section of Mass by Virtual Boy:


I'd love to hear from you all if there are any pieces of music that make you react in this same way. Feel free to email me as I'd love to hear them!

New York City, New York State, One Oh One Oh Eight

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I've won the Listserve! - Apologize ahead for any spelling mistakes.

Here we go. I was homeless for about 2 months. My fault, my mistakes;
I won't talk about them here. I do want to share with you some
interesting circumstances I lived through during these 2 long months.

Food was hard to come by but I got to know where free meals were being
served eventually. Some places were great, others not so. When I
finally got into a homeless shelter this one short woman who though
she was the queen of the world kicked me out for laughing at her. I
tried to stop myself but she got so caught up in the fact that there
was a pillow thief running around. So I went to this horrible shelter.
Drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. I tried using the restroom but because
that was the only place with no cameras, all the addicts would snort,
inject, smoke stuff and there was always a perpetual haze in there. I
would come out all dizzy and light-headed from the fumes.

This one time, a dude I've never seen before tried to show me
something in the bathroom. It glinted shiny so my immediatte though
was "knife!" I raised my hand to block it and was about to hit him
when it was revealed to be just a lighter. Whew...

I also apperantly took some dude's spot and he got all pissy. He got
kicked out, his brother didn't. I spent the whole night stressed and
with one eye open thinking I was going to be shanked by the brother.
Luckily, I got out of there quick as the better shelter had a vacancy.
I made sure to stay away from that Short Queen.

I had one last trial before getting out of homelessness: I fell into a
Catch-22. I had already started a nice, Monday to Friday job. Too bad
the DMV isn't open on Saturdays so I couldn't get an ID for a pretty
long time. I needed my ID to cash my check, but I need my check cashed
to pay for an ID. Luckily, a coworker helped me out by cashing my
check for me. And then I find out I need to wait 2 weeks before
receiving it in the mail. That was convenient /s.

We played a lot of cards. Talked a lot about random things. It
actually surprised me that I could find other "normal" people there. I
guess life doesn't discriminate when it wants to hit hard. It just
sucks that mistakes people make follow them for a long time after
they've been made. And when humans do try to get their life turned
around, it feels like every stride one takes, the government hits you
and tries to keep you from improving. Poor tax. I had to pay huge fees
just because I was poor which kept me poor. Even though I've never
been addicted to anything, I think me trying to climb out of
homelessness and poverty was a sort of metaphor the Universe wanted me
to understand for what addicts were going through.

Thank you, Universe. Thanks for the enemies, thanks for the friends.
Thanks for... perspective.

Bangor, Maine

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tinder Poetry?

Hi all, I am going to keep it pretty short today.

I am not a writer, a poet, or anything related by training. But I like to jot in the margins--create someone's story on BART (public transit), have a solo-beer and draw etc.

I am curious to hear what y'all think about this poem, and if you really want to take it to the next level, workshop it and send me edits!

"I want to set you up with the girl I am tindering"

I'm lost in your bloody marry tree house.
Rope swinging by fibers of your savory thoughts,
Splashing on the shores of your vodka soaked vitamin D,
Drying off on a beached bun,
Tiptoeing on the rim of your glass.

I tumble off your edge,
Cascading down oblique hills of olives.
I plummet through vodka paradise,
Straight into a pillow of pulp.

You look down,
Open your mouth,
and without words,
Swallow me whole.

Oakland, CA

Also huge shout out to my main man Shark in Gurgaon and DBenny who is in the room as I type this. SURPRISE!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Everything and nothing

Hey People!

Funny how i get to send this mail right now. This morning i realized that i've been collecting listserve emails for over a year without reading them so i started to read them again and will keep reading a couple of them a day until i read them all and it’s great!
I am sorry in advance for the text, i will probably jump from one text to another.

Something about me maybe. I am computer security enthusiast, beginner Geocacher (check out Geocaching), programmer both private and professionally, nerd and a little bit of an all doer.
I used to think that the word nerd were negative and usually got angry when someone called me that but i changed my mind and now i think is great to be a nerd. It usually means that you are an enthusiast of something and i would guess pretty good at it. From my perspective it seems like the nerds are more fun than other people as well.

This weekend me and my girlfriend went geocaching in the forest nearby and it was pretty exciting because it was the first time we tried it, so there we went on this real life treasure hunt.
We went into the forest a sunny afternoon and we brought out our map with the coordinates to this first treasure and pretty fast we saw that it wasn’t too far away. When we got closer to the coordinates there was a wooden bridge. We went over it and down one of the sides carefully to not slip into the water and checked under it. And would you look at that…

A horrific toad!

No actually there was a magnetic PET tube with paper and a pencil inside. We logged our visit and got on our way again. Brought up our map and checked the coordinates to the next treasure.
We got deeper into the forest and picked up a couple of caches on our way but we were on our way to one specific cache, at an old army training field.
We got to the specified coordinates but could not really find anything but dead trees and we almost gave up, my girlfriend told me that we should give it one last try and so we did! I got back to the first place i looked at and found a little door with a broken lock. I opened it and will you look at that! An old bunker, i gave my girlfriend the flashlight and crawled inside to get a better look, it went down and had a door on the other side as well. I saw that door before but it was locked.
I went down and took some easy steps because it was some trash down there and BOOM! the door closed hard and it went pitch black… a scream! me i realized soon enough. I crawled up and clawed for the door and, puh! the door went up and there she was smiling her brightest smile that went into a laugh… I grinned at her and told her that if she wanted this treasure she had to get into the bunker as well to light the way. We got down there again and after a while we found it! It was a great cache, not many other had found it. A great day!

If you are in the IT business you will probably appreciate a tumblr called Devops Reactions, search for it. It is great!

I would love to hear from other Geocachers and get your stories!

Pontus Nyberg

Monday, April 20, 2015



I believe that everything happens for a reason.
An article of faith that helps keeps me sane.

I think of you, Bubbe.
For always cutting roses for me.
Cracking walnuts with your bare hands.
For rye bread and butter.
Your love for Grandpa inspires me.

My parents are my role models.
Thank you for keeping me innocent.
And protecting me.
For teaching me right from wrong.
Establishing a home that encourages warm hospitableness and inviting anyone and everyone.

K, thanks for designing my engagement ring. Mine has pomegranates.
And always being there for me.
To help.
To listen.

I love you, Platty.
So incredibly, insanely, tons.
I am excited for our adventure.

Parts of me to share:

A poem:

Yawning after the Noon
I listen to the silent chatter
of outside, sprinkled with white
pieces of sky. It’s a mystery to me.
How placid I feel while the Earth
journey through the chaos

Do I stand still, chained
by my sludgy temperament?
Or do I swirl alongside frosted dust?

I choose to flutter down the hazy
ivory sky, always moving
always a try.

Books I enjoy:
The Tortilla Curtain
Eat Pray Love

Bands I love:
Lady Antebellum
First Aid Kit

Dance freely
To hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a dream
I want to run in an open field full of flowers
I like the thought process of essay writing

New York City

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Some Unconventional Las Vegas Travel Advice

Go outside. Close your eyes. Grab a piece of paper currency out of your pocket, wallet, or purse without looking at it. Then let it go. Do not check what the denomination is first. Do not crumple it, or rip it, or burn it. Just let the wind take it. We do not want to destroy it. We want someone else to get it.

If you cannot stand the idea of doing that, then my Las Vegas advice is not for you.

But if doing something like that has any kind of appeal - the randomness, the recklessness, the “guess what I just did?” storytelling aspect, or imagining what the person who FINDS the bill will feel...then read on.

I love Las Vegas. There is an energy there that is palpable. I know I am not alone, because the city draws 40 million tourists a year from around the globe. And everyone has advice for what to do - the top 10 lists, the must-see lists, and so on.

We can dispense with that quickly. There is only one must-see: the Bellagio fountains.

What I want to tell you is how to get an experience for your money, by being loose with it.

Here are 7 suggestions for your next trip to Las Vegas:

1. While on the way from one spot to another and walking through a casino, bet $100, cash, on a table bet, and add an extra $20 for the dealer. Just step up and do it. One hand of blackjack, a roulette spin, the pass line at craps - whatever. Just do it. No ceremony, no chips, no delay. And no hanging around, win or lose.

2. Buy a bottle of champagne. You can do it at a night club, but a less traditional time and place makes it better. Do it as your first round of drinks at dinner. Get one at a casino lounge bar. Order one poolside. Use room service if you are with someone special.

3. Play credit card roulette. When out with friends for drinks or a meal, do not split the bill. Take a napkin from the table, or a hat, and have everyone put in a credit card. Ask the server to pull out cards one at a time until one remains. That is who pays the bill.

4. Tip the maitre d’ when you arrive at a restaurant.

5. Get in a cab, and when the driver asks where you are going, say “I’m not going anywhere - you’re going to lunch.” Hand them a $20 and then get back out of the cab. Works best if you spot a cab stand with no passengers waiting and a small number of cabs queued up. You don’t want to take a cab from someone who may be waiting, or make a cabbie lose his spot in what was a long line of cabs looking for fares.

6. Group parlay. Pick a sport (horse-racing will do) and everyone makes one pick from different events and throws in $5. Buy a parlay card for the full amount using each person's pick. You will not win. You will be able to tease relentlessly the person who made the wrong pick.

7. Do the “bill in the wind” stunt from the start of this email. Anything found on a casino floor is considered part of the house win, so be sure you are off property, and preferably not surrounded by people. Carson street downtown can work.

Changing your attitude to money can make a big difference in how you enjoy yourself in Vegas. And elsewhere.

Steve Grantz
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Saturday, April 18, 2015


First off all of you do me a favor and listen to a band that I donate my time to because i believe in them. All it takes to launch a career is the right person to listen at the right time. They run their band like a business but do it for the art.
They are getting play on Live 105 and quite frankly deserve the recognition!

Type into google: Wild Imaginaries little weight (spacebrother remix), then Wild Imaginaries Carousels

I am really glad I won this today. This has been the last three weeks of ups and downs. I was PIP'd at work but I managed to not get axed but forced my work to give me a demotion because it looked very suspect they wanted to lay me off right before my baby's due date. I have started baby classes for my second child. First one is a girl named Gracie and the second is a boy who is coming June 15th. Any names you guys recommend?

I am 34 married and grew up in San Ramon Ca. I didn't go to IVY league I actually failed out of college and went back as an adult and graduated last year with a business degree from a Cal State CSUEB. Yes kids you can fail and get back in! My passion is the music industry but it is very hard to get a family sustaining wage while working in it.

So here I am at work demoted but stronger because of it. The clarity a jarring change can have on your life is immense. My family and my kids are all that matter. Not what job or how much money I have.
Anyone looking to hire me? I can send you my resume. :)

Anyway here is a glimpse of my daily distractions:

Daily Emails:
lefsetz dot com slash wordpress - Music Analysis
nowiknow dot com - daily information and tidbits

Reddit dot com specifically pettyrevenge and wearethemusicmakers
Spotify dot com because the mp3 is dead

Anyway send me anything you want... I would love to hear your story and the music you love!

Peter Avery
Concord Ca

Friday, April 17, 2015

this is my truth

A little about me: my name is Zoe. I am a recent grad, West Wing fan, NPR podcast listener, trying to find a happy and peaceful physical and mental place to be.

My brain works in lists so here a list of the 10 things I thought of while walking home from the gym.

1. I've been in love twice in two very different relationships.
2. Both endings were equally sad even though one ending was more obvious than the other.
3. I believe we'll always have love for those we've loved deeply once upon a time. Even if you 'hate' them now.
4. I've never met a dog I didn't like
5. I hate the color orange.
6. Sunrise is far superior to sunset
7. Our society needs a moral revolution (re all the isms) (note: I am not perfect and have bias' but we can have a goal).
8. Sunflowers are the best type of flower.
9. I want to ask Hillary why she voted in favor of the Iraq war.
10. I haven't decided what I think my definition of successful is.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to email me with; your own list, a response to my list, if you want to be friends in NYC, your favorite west wing episode, book/music recommendations, or just to say hi.

Go out in the world and speak your truth.

Zoe Vallas
Fort Greene, Brooklyn

p.s: (PSA: this is a shameless plug) Since 1965 the New York Philharmonic has been performing free concerts in New York City's parks. Have you been? Tell the NY Phil Archives about it! You can find the link on the nyphil website. And if you're in New York at the end of June come to a concert :) (shameless plug because I've been working really hard on this project and I love reading people's memories)

p.p.s: dearest Rena thank you for the introduction

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Metaverse is (virtually) real!

Dearest Listservians,

It has been my pleasure to read your stories, musings, pleas, playlists, tips, tricks, philosophies and travelogues. I love the fleeting glimpses into so many interesting lives that the listserve lottery elicits.

As for me, I am currently recovering from running a startup with my wife for seven years. The company lives on, but it needs city planners with spreadsheets and procedures, not pioneers with machetes and delusions of grandeur. As a result, I find myself, once again, trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up.

My early background was in film and television and I have always been drawn to storytelling arts of one kind or another.

When I first left our startup I was so steeped in the silicon valley Kool-Aid that I became deeply allergic to social media in almost every form. I felt that mass communication was becoming infinity wide and about a micron deep. Avoiding social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just thinking about the amount of ‘social media strategy’ needed to produce an independent film today gave me that Irish-bachelor-party-hangover feeling. I needed about a year of BoingBoing and a lot of books before I would even consider coming out of my shell.

It’s been more than a year and I still can’t use Facebook, but I’ve added Twitter Tuesday to my routine (just lurking for now) and I use email like a kid trying to grab something out of a dark basement. (No matter how fast I retreat up the stairs, I still feel like something REALLY bad is about to catch me and drag me in.) But my creative spirit is starting to stir.

I followed the kickstarter for Oculus Rift and the slow but determined resurgence of the virtual reality vision with a basic tech-geek fascination. But when I saw the early experiments with virtual reality (VR) filmmaking - that piqued my interest. Something big is happening here.

VR filmmaking is the process of making movies by shooting with a whole bunch of video cameras pointing in all directions. You then ‘stitch’ all of the videos together using ad-hoc tools, and an impossible amount of patience. The result is a ‘spherical’ video that you watch using one of those geeky looking virtual reality headsets that you are seeing all over the news nowadays. The video plays all around you, but you only see the part that you are looking at - like life! The director loses control of attention management in some ways (e.g. no close-ups to show you what’s important) but the feeling of watching something interesting play out around you and not breaking the illusion when you turn away is profound, and immersive, and all the other buzz words that will try to convey how cool this really is.

I’ve built 3 different camera rigs to shoot VR video with and have spent countless hours stitching the videos together. I’m learning all about stereoscopic parallax, Interpupillary distances and simulator sickness, but the best part is… It’s pioneer time again! No business models in sight. No monetization strategies. No SEO. No social media efforts to leverage your community. Just grab your machete and start chopping through the vines!

It’s rough now. Even the short videos produced by the cash-infused pioneers have a basement-lab quality to them. That’s to be expected. This is only the PONG version of the metaverse, but I can see the future from here and it is transformational. I’m convinced that we are on the verge of a new way of telling (and experiencing) cinematic stories. This is a huge step for filmmaking. Bigger than color - more like talkies.

Anyway, stay tuned. Exciting stuff to come. If you get the chance to try out somebody’s virtual reality setup, do it.

Switching gears to the traditional listserve signoff…

I don’t claim to have the key to happiness, but when I do these things, I feel like I might just be able to pick the lock.

- Listen to the audio book of Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. Just do it.

- If you are on a spiritual path and are curious what would happen if you mashed up western therapy and Buddhism, check out Bruce Tift’s audio program called Already Free. It resonated deeply with me and has changed my life.

Finally, if you are interested in VR filmmaking or storytelling in the metaverse, drop me a line. The nights out here in the wilderness can be pretty lonely and I’d love to sit around the campfire and swap stories from the trail.

Kind regards

Jeff Fitzsimmons
Milwaukee, WI

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A present for you

Hi there,
Thanks in advance for reading this! Thank you to Aaron for introducing me to the Listserve and to the Listserve for letting me write to you all :)

A story
It's late Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in front of the mural I have been painting for the last two days. The sun is streaming in from the widows to the west and I am listening to Mark Farina - Dream Machine. The mural is one large square wall and mostly abstract shapes - like an Arshile Gorky painting. Before I started, I was trying to describe to my friend how I felt about the mural - "it's like how you feel right before performing if you're a musician or before playing a game if you're an athlete... it's emotional. It's gonna get tough in there if the wall doesn't agree with me, I'll have to work through the challenges until it's where it feels right."

A request
I'd like to use this opportunity to reach out to the thousands of readers here for some help. Do you have friends or relatives with a physical disability who work from home? I'd love to hear your stories and/or advice on what's possible and what's available. I constantly feel guilty that I don't do enough to try to help my relative by providing more support and more opportunities, and so I super especially appreciate it if you reply with your thoughts.

A present for you
Lastly, I recently started this project where I make lots of tiny collages and tiny paintings (like 2" x 3") and mailing them out to my friends since they easily fit in an envelope. If you'd like to receive one, email me a mailing address and I'll send one over! It makes me happy to share these little pieces with others and I hope you'll like them too.

Thanks :)
San Francisco

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

6 surprising facts about healthcare reform

I'm a bit of a healthcare reform nerd, largely due to my experience as an entrepreneur trying to keep myself, my family, and my employees insured while bouncing from company to company and state to state. At one point, due to seemingly imaginary "pre-existing conditions" I came very close to not being able to buy insurance for my family at any price, despite us all being healthy.

So I was glad that the Obama administration had the guts to push the Affordable Care Act through, even though it ended up being a Frankenstein's monster that's almost fatally compromised by the various concessions to industry that were necessary to ensure its passage. Nevertheless, it's built on a solid foundation of good ideas.

But here are some of the mostly-unintended, especially nutty aspects of the law. Some of them are pretty harmful, in large part because people don't know much about the ACA other than the spin that the talking heads are making, pro and con.

Did you know....

...that many companies are screwing over their employees while they think they're doing something good? Offering insurance to employees' families (especially if you don't offer a generous contribution toward family coverage) locks them out of eligibility for subsidies, and millions of workers would actually be better off today if their employers out-and-out dropped their health plan?

...that signing up for COBRA could be a very stupid thing to do (because what you should do if you lose your job is immediately sign up for an Obamacare plan, and staying on COBRA makes you ineligible for a money-saving subsidy), but your company is still required to send you information that tells you to sign up for COBRA?

...that by giving your employees a rich health benefit, you are in many cases actually doing them a big disservice, especially if they're young? (Because many employees would actually be better served by being signed up for "cheaper" health insurance if they're healthy and having the extra money redirected into their paycheck)

...that under the current norms of health benefits, many companies may have two people with the same job and same salary but one makes 50% less in total compensation? (because if you have a big family, it's not uncommon for one person's health benefit to be thousands of dollars higher than another's).

...that if your state hasn't expanded Medicaid, you could be locked out from Obamacare subsidies because you're too poor? (In this case, if you made just a little bit more, you could save thousands of dollars on health insurance) If you knew that, did you know that the IRS has said it's okay if you exaggerate your income in order to get the subsidy? (But nobody knows this)

You might know that you can now only sign up for health insurance during an open enrollment period. Did you know there's a loophole that would allow you to sign up for a new health plan any time, even if you wouldn't normally qualify for a special enrollment period? (Apply for Medicaid, even if you know you make too much. Being formally turned down for Medicaid triggers a special enrollment period).

So, dear Listservers, if you find any of these fact interesting and illuminating, let me know. In particular, if you're a business owner that would like to do right by your lower-wage employees and find out how you can find win-wins in Obamacare, let me know. That's what my company, Benefitter, does. If you're in the media and you'd like to do a healthcare reform story that will surprise and outrage people, also let me know, and I'll give you more details.

David Adams
San Francisco, CA

Monday, April 13, 2015

Critical mass

Dear, listserv
Do you ride a bike? Have you ever heard of critical mass? If you do and you havent, this is my call to action to you.

Critical mass is the most fun you'll have on a bike. So what is it? Its an informal mass bike ride that happens on the last Friday of every month. In Los Angeles, it meets at Wilshire and Western. Its a good idea for riders to meet beforehand, but as long as you get your ass to the start point at 730, when the ride rolls out, you're good to go.

Last friday, I was winding down work for the week and getting ready for critical mass, when the the listserv gods tapped my shoulder. I wanted to share this monthly ritual I have with you all, so that the ride may grow into the listserv community. The point of the ride is to gather enough cyclists on the road that it forces cars to heed to the 'critical mass' of bikes. Cars might hate it, but don't judge us until you've been on a ride yourself. It's a envigorating experience, and I guarentee you'll see los angeles from a point of view that shifts perspective. It's just a little bit crazy. It's all controlled chaos. And it's a hell of a lot of fun.

That's my 2 cents. I'm also writing this email while with my family. We're celebrating my grandmother who wouldve been 100 this year. She passed away when I was in high school. I didn't know her too well but I hear she was a baller. All she did was help my fathers family move to America from Korea (doesn't matter which one). Respect to her.

Shout out to all my sheep zodiac year family. I was born in 91. I can't explain my good luck this year, must be because of that.

Btw if you don't live in LA, chances are that your city might have one too. It'll probably be on the last Friday of the month. Hit me up if you want to ride.


Donald Kim
Los Angeles

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The 29th Day

In ancient India, the inventor of chess showed his game to the King, who was so pleased with the invention, the King announced that he would grant the inventor anything he desired. The inventor sat in silence thoughtfully, then replied that he merely wanted some rice to feed his family. To determine how much rice he would receive, they would use the chessboard square as a counter. The inventor suggested that, for the first square, he would receive one grain of rice, two for the second square, four for the third square, doubling each the amount for each successive square. The King laughed at this seemingly modest request and immediately accepted, tasking his treasurer with calculating the entire amount to grant the inventor. Weeks went by without hearing from his treasurer until one day, the King summoned his treasurer and asked why there was such a delay. When the treasurer showed him the total sum exceeded the rice count of his entire kingdom, the King was bankrupted and the inventor became the new King.What was the total amount?


18,446,744,073,709,551,615 or 18 quintillion

This heap of rice would be larger than Mt Everest.

There is a pond with invasive water lilies. The water lily population doubles each day and if left unchecked, will cover the entire pond in 30 days, smothering all other life in the pond. Each day, the caretaker of the pond checks the population, and will only take action to cut the water lily population when they have covered only half the pond.

On what day will the pond be half-covered?


The 29th day. This leaves the pond caretaker only 1 day to save the pond.

Exponential growth, or compounded growth, is a very powerful thing. Positive things like savings, investment, networks and technological innovation can bring incredible improvements to one's life, if allowed to compound without interruption. On the flip side, if left unchecked, dangerous things like inflation, debts, diseases or even dangerous ideologies can sneak up on you so quickly that you won't notice until it's too late.

Don't wait until the 29th day.

New York, NY

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Slice of Life

Such a day, it was
won the listserve
and so was the pink slip served

निशांत मोडक


Friday, April 10, 2015

A thought experiment

“The various cloud shapes and hues meant nothing, what they looked like at any given juncture was based on chance, so if there is anything the clouds suggested it was meaninglessness in its purest form.”

--Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book One


That thought you just had, or the one you’re having right now, or the one you’ll have in the next instant—how do each of these thoughts that float across your conscious mind come into existence? It’s instinctual to believe that we author our own thoughts; that each of us has “free will” and thus can choose to think whatever it is we want to think at any moment in time.

But what if this was not true?

What if free will was merely an illusion? What if the feeling that we were the conscious authors of the inner narrative of our minds, was only that: a feeling? And that instead, those things we interpret as conscious thoughts were in fact the result of biological, chemical and physical forces beyond our control and simply the product of the same laws of nature and probability that govern every other part of the universe? What then? How might we view our place in the world differently if that were the case?

First off, some might consider it a bleak truth. Where is the romance in relegating all human thought and creativity and action to cold unalterable probability functions collapsing around us at every instant, bringing possibility into reality without our say? Rather than bleak, I tend to think of this idea as staggeringly beautiful. To think of our minds as mere envelopes of the universe expressing itself through us is one way of conceiving of all of humanity, not to mention all of space and time, as irrevocably connected in a way that is deeply spiritual without needing to invoke the notion of god or religious doctrine or science fiction to get there.

Second, if all of the thoughts we have, both good and bad, are games of chance resolving themselves at every moment in time, then we might think twice about how we cast judgment on others. We might do well to reign in our deification of the individuals—the artists, the musicians, the inventors—who create and do good things (those who have "good" thoughts) and reconsider how we look down upon the fallen—the criminals, the troubled, the lazy—who fail to do good or actively do harm (those who have "bad" thoughts). We might choose to celebrate more communally the accomplishments of the few and to exercise more compassion towards the (apparent) errors of the many. Removing the illusion of free will deflates the primacy of the individual, which, in turn grants us the opportunity to inflate our regard for the other.

Finally, if our thoughts are ultimately outside our control, we might grow a deeper appreciation for the outsized role chance plays in determining the course of our lives from beginning to end. No one would question the fact that chance entirely dictates the parents to which we are born. Nor is it controversial to suggest that nature and nurture thenceforth determine the people we become, exactly to the extent they influence the choices we, as individuals, are free to make. But if (as we’re presuming here) we’re not actually truly free in making those choices, then nature and nurture alone, not ourselves, dictate—entirely!—our makeup, down to every conscious thought we ever have. Does this not humble? Just as Carl Sagan demonstrated with Pale Blue Dot (Voyager 1’s photo of Earth as a tiny, light-blue speck in the vast expanse of space) that our place in the universe, relative to its size, is utterly insignificant, so too are our conscious minds insignificant, when viewed as purely governed by the whimsies of probability—like the random, ever-changing, and ultimately meaningless patterns that clouds trace in the sky.

Mat Balez
bcc/ mom

Thursday, April 9, 2015

On engineering the future of healthcare

I'm an engineer. I'm an engineer in the sense that my paid vocation is in engineering, but I'm also an engineer in the broader sense that I enjoy solving problems wherever I can. This isn't always a virtue - I sometimes find that one problem is just the top of the rabbit hole, and the rabbit hole gets deep very quickly. Nonetheless, it means I think frequently about the gap between what's possible with current technology and what currently exists. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of medical technology, where I currently spend most of my time.

Medicine is a funny area, disconnected from the market norms that define most of the world. People are willing to spend all their money on their health, and often do (and then some). Given this, I feel there is an ethical obligation on those of us who provide medical technology and services to do so in a way that is not driven by pure profit maximisation.

Unfortunately much of healthcare is not like this, irrespective of the precise structure underpinning its provision.

In countries with socialised medicine, such as the UK, in which maximal "profit" typically manifests as political profit, skewed by public perception of healthcare provision and driven by metrics such as access to emotionally charged treatments, there is a huge problem of initiating meaningful improvement without causing political disruption.

In countries with private systems like the US, the arguably bigger problem exists that the cost of healthcare provision is inflated to the extent that a disproportionate percentage of GDP is diverted to it, and those who can't pay often do without.

My point is this: it behoves every one of us - those who work in the medical sector, as well as patients - to work hard against the easy route of allowing more and more resources to be sunk into fewer improvements.

This comes back to where I started. Every change should be done with a view to improving the world, and every problem that is apparent should be fixed wherever it can be. This isn't a new notion. Much of industry has adopted the approach of continuous and evolutionary improvement, and it's largely done by engaging all the stake holders in the process, from shop floor workers through to end customers. Many systems and processes exist to help with this. The time is here for this to become the norm in healthcare. I'm aware there are many attempts to make this happen, but medicine is still far behind many areas, such as manufacturing.

It should not be acceptable to have tech with inflated prices just so the cost can be shifted to a per-use model. It should not be acceptable that a patient coming to Accident & Emergency is re-assessed by five different healthcare workers asking the same questions. It should not be acceptable for patients to visit the emergency department with a cold.

Everyone, from the porter, to the patient, to the top consultant, can be a problem-solver. They can be engineers. If anyone is interested, my start-up is involved in developing a super low-cost medical ultrasound system. The technology is 30 years old, it's about time the cost reflected that. Please feel free to get in touch if any of this interests you, or if your area happens to align with mine!

Henry Gomersall
Oxford, UK

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Everyone Likes Butts

Two outcomes: you will never get what you want and you'll believe that that's why you're unhappy - OR - you will get what you want and realize that it doesn't actually make you happy and you'll find something else to be dissatisfied with. I've been everywhere. Pyramids kinda sucked. China is dope. Everyone's been to Europe.

Best travel story - was meeting up with an Aussie friend in Saigon. We originally met in Istanbul. We bought motorcycles for $200 and drove through Cambodia and flew out from Bangkok.

Worst - losing my mind on hash when I was sleeping on the ground in a concrete room with my brother in the slums of Rabat. The Moroccan guys were actually incredibly nice though. I don't really read these Listserve messages but I'm sure they're stocked with people telling you about how worldly they are. Sorry.

Thanatopsis - Why is death such an awkward topic? It's the only thing we deterministically all share in common. Everyone dies. I am going to die. You are going to die. Sorry, again.

Also, I kinda think that our leaders are killers and liars. They bomb a cities the size of Chicago and then call *them* terrorists. But hey! Darfur t-shirts at a Redskins game. Happy Thanksgiving.

I used to love a woman named Rebecca. I currently love a woman called Mary Abigail. My girlfriend's name is Madeliene. We're in a wonderful open relationship. I need 'open' right now and maybe forever. Monogamy is probably good for mortgages though.

Particle Physics - There are two competing outlooks on quantum dynamics, QED and QCD. Both have applications and limits. You die. I die. Eigenvectors.

Send me some love if you're ever in DC.

Brendan Freehart
Columbia Heights, Washington, DC, USA

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My friend built a site that saves lives.

The site is called Watsi. Google it and change someones life today.

To my fiancée, Kelly Harvard, I love you. I may not be the best at showing it publicly, but you deserve more than I could ever give. You are beautiful, witty, and compassionate. You bring out the best in me, and I am so lucky to be able to spend my life with you. I hope everyone reading this can find someone that makes them as happy as you make me.

Help me tell Kelly how much she is loved by using the instagram hashtag: #RyanLovesKelly2015.
How's that for PDA? :)

Go Warriors and Go Giants!

Ryan Giesen
San Rafael, CA

Monday, April 6, 2015

Everlasting Sunshine

Last Wednesday, my grandmother died. After 88 years of living a full life, she died in bed in the apartment building she called home for over six decades. Many know my grandmother as “Sam’s wife.” Sam Kimberg, my grandfather, has become a part of the Student U story, with an award given each year in his name for the person in the our community who brings the most joy to world. My grandmother was the light that transformed Sam’s depressive darkness into joy. Under every crazy hat, behind every kazoo song, next to every center stage performance, was my grandmother. She was Sam’s foundation, Sam’s home base, Sam’s safety net which allowed him to dream so fearlessly.

Sam’s School, the book written to memorialize my grandfather’s life and his connection to Student U, begins in a hospital room as Sam conducts his family in one final symphony. With oxygen mask on, IV’s connected, he lifts his hands and I play “You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine…” on my kazoo as my family sings along. Sam’s School then travels backwards in time, tracing my grandfather’s life from his birth to this grand finale. However, Sam’s death is not where any story ends. It is not where his story, Student U’s story, or my story ends, and least of all, it is not where my grandmother’s story ends.

This was the unwritten scene right after Sam’s final song:

She sits in the waiting room but no longer has anything to wait for. Three minutes earlier her husband of sixty years heart rate slowed to zero. One day earlier she had said her final goodbye, brushing her left hand over his right. Three days earlier she was told there was no hope and asked the doctor to please let him go in peace. Three weeks earlier she had been told lymphoma. And now she is in the waiting room waiting for nothing.

She looks straight ahead at a new chapter in her life’s story. Over the previous sixty years she has played sidekick to the protagonist. Now she will take center stage. Their journey will become her path. Their duet will become her solo. Her song will sound different than their song. He used to kazoo as she sang along. Now her voice will alone need to carry the tune. But rather than allow their last performance to be her crescendo, she is determined for an encore worthy of a standing ovation.

She sits in the waiting room ready for everything. Her fingers rub the wedding ring which 60 years ago was too tight and now is a permanent fixture on her hand. She holds his hand in her heart, breaths in deeply, breaths out slowly, and begins the rest of her life.

The rest of her life lasts four and a half years, a full four and a half years longer than any of us expected. During those years, my grandma was able to celebrate mine and Amanda’s wedding and sing to my daughter, her great grandchild.

When my daughter Eliana turned one month old, my grandma called and sang “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”

And the whole world keeps spinning. Joy begets joy, life begets life, and we continue to celebrate our place in the journey.

Eliana never was able to meet my grandma or my grandpa. But tonight, I will pull her close to me and sing “You and my sunshine, my only sunshine…” And through this song, and through my love, and through our joy, Eliana will know her great grandparents.

Dan Kimberg
Durham, NC

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A STORM is Coming

Have you ever used a computer that cost $200 million? Did you ever
envision something so complex that, despite appearing crystal clear in
your mind, escaped every time you tried put it into words? This is my
job. I work with supercomputers.

My favorite Listserve stories are those where people share insights
into their daily lives. I am pursuing a PhD in computer science. A
common question for me is: "Could you tell me what you're working on?
Can I comprehend this at all?" -- which really is more depressing than
flustering. Right now I'm sitting on a couch in Baton Rouge. I'm
collaborating with scientists from LSU (hey there!) on a project to
improve the fidelity of storm surge prediction. Not complicated at
all. Do you remember hurricane Katrina?

But let's start at the very beginning. What is a supercomputer? For
starters, it's not the new MacBook. Supercomputers are essentially
tens of thousands of networked computers. They are so huge that the
largest ones get their own buildings. And they are pricey. The fastest
American machine is "Titan" (at ORNL). BTW: the difference between
these machines and the data centers of Google, Facebook and the likes
is that a supercomputer is built to tackle gigantic, monolithic
compute problems. Data centers process myriads of relatively small and
independent computations.

But why do we build these insanely expensive machines? Mostly for
simulations. Supercomputers are the reason we no longer nuke south sea
island to test new weapon designs. The car you're driving likely
completed its first crash tests in a supercomputer. The project we're
working on seeks to accurately model coastal inundation caused by
heavy storms. Evacuating an area as large and populated as the New
Orleans metropolitan area costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Not
evacuating it may cost thousands of lives. Not a decision to make

Most movies don't get science. Disruptive results are rarely achieved
by a lone Sheldon Cooper, but by interdisciplinary teams -- with
specialists for every aspect of the endeavor. On our team we have
coastal engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists. My job is
to shield the others from the complexity of supercomputers.

Now, I wrote something about abstract thinking and how it's sometimes
hard to pen ideas down. That's got to do with programming. Computer
programs are very much like recipes. A recipe is a set of instructions
that describe how to transform ingredients into a desired output (e.g.
pizza). Instead of ingredients a program operates on data. The
problem: a computer operates like a very daft, yet accurate person.
You will need to describe every action in great detail and it will
follow all of your instructions right down to the letter -- but
without understanding the greater goal, and without ever correcting
any of your errors. Supercomputers add quite a deal of complexity to
this job. To keep the picture of the kitchen intact: think you're not
instructing one cook to make one pizza, nor thousands of chefs to
produce thousands of pizzas, but your goal is to make ten thousand
chefs prepare a single pizza in 0.01% of the usual time. In perfect

E-mail me if you've got questions on supercomputers or would like to
know more about the STORM project (alternatively google for "STORM ADCIRC Stellar").


Andreas Schäfer
Baton Rouge, LA

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Life is fun!


I am on this list for a very, very long time, but I never thought I'd win, and I never thought it would be that hard to write this post, so this is just a small collection of some thoughts:

Always have fun in what you are doing, if you don't have fun anymore do something different, even if it is hard to change. It has worked for me (until now, I'm 44) really well.

Live is easy, enjoy it. Really, it is easy!

I love the quote "Stupid, but smart!" from architect Rem Koolhaas when he described a part of one of his building. I think it fits my life quite good.

Be a news junkie. Be informed what happens in the world, it is our world!

I am working right now on a project to connect local farmer direct with customers, cutting the "middleman", the markets. If you have any ideas on this please contact me: max[AT]

Vienna, Austria

Michaela, i will always love you!

Friday, April 3, 2015

an artist attempts to justify his life choices without appearing pretentious

I go to school at a prestigious university, and I am studying theatre. That gets varied responses—people don’t understand why if I’m smart enough to attend such a school I study something that won’t get me very rich. So my answer is usually “I’m majoring in theatre, with a minor in marrying for money.”

But I don’t blame people for judging my decision. The industry is oversaturated with talent as it is. Just today, I saw an incredible play which featured 28 incredibly accomplished professional actors who were paid nowhere near a living wage. They all have to work day jobs, and then come to this tiny theatre, get into costume and makeup crammed in this tiny room, and then pour their hearts and souls into this beautiful play, go home, get some sleep, and go back to the daily grind. And these are some of the (relatively) successful. There are ways to work around this: apart from the obvious getting a big break and miraculously being able to support yourself in the theatre, there are many people whose day jobs involve working administration for larger theaters in town that require full-time staff. But no matter what, the work isn’t easy.

My parents both have sensible careers, but they fully supported me going into the arts. My dad works in sales for a software company and says he hasn’t enjoyed his work in well over a decade. He told me he didn’t care what career I pursue as long as I don’t hate what I have to do to put food on the table.

They say if you can picture yourself doing anything other than working in the theatre, do it. Only the people who can’t do anything else will have the drive to succeed. Well, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a production of A Chorus Line, and after each character explained their reasons for pursuing such an unreliable career, they all joined in on the song “What I Did For Love,” and I started to cry, and I thought, “Oh, no. I think I have to do this.”

I’m a freshman in college now, and I recently opened my first show as an assistant director. Sitting in the audience at the performances, watching a group of people respond to and be moved by a piece that I helped create (while also taking pleasure in watching the show) was incredibly thrilling. I have seen hundreds of plays in my life, and I love the excitement of seeing a great story being told by real people in front of me—the presence of living humans creates an immediacy and an honest connection that isn’t present in any other medium. And I love when I can give that thrill to other people. I don’t know what I would do without that in my life. So, I may have a choice, but it’s a very obvious one. I’ll do what I have to do to make it work.

And now I’d like to give shoutouts to Adam and Michaela, two lovely theatre people who introduced me to the listserv.

I now urge you all to go see a play!

Evanston, IL

Thursday, April 2, 2015


It is only fitting that I write about the one person who has been my inspiration, my late brother.

It's been more than a year, I still don't know how to deal with it and I don't know if I will ever be. Because it still hurts. I still feel the pain. A lot of pain.

He was the most amazing, kind-hearted man I have ever known. And definitely was my biggest fan.

No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye. It happened so quickly, I didn't think it was real.

I miss his laugh.

I miss his hugs.

I miss everything about him, even his stinky socks.

My heart still aches in sadness, because the reason for losing him will never be known. But, I know in my heart that you are there, protecting and guiding me through.

Until we meet again.

You are forever in my heart. I love you.

J Alexandra
Anchorage, Alaska

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Memoir, Book Recommendations, and a Bad Joke

I stopped paying attention to the Listerve emails months ago, because there’s just too many and quality is haphazard. Fitting that I should win now, instead of during the initial honeymoon phase.

I do remember that the Listserve entries that stuck with me the most were the ones that introduced something new to my life, whether it was sharing the life story of someone different, a passionate cause I hadn’t heard of, or even just a good book recommendation.

So that’s what I’ll do here - tell my story, share recommendations, and end with a bad joke.

I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, surrounded by the kids of dotcom millionaires and Stanford professors. This was all I ever knew, so I came to think the pervasive innovative/technologist thinking was the global norm, and it was only after living in Europe during college that I realized how special the San Francisco Bay Area is. I learned more in that year of travel than I ever did in a classroom, about the world and where I wanted to fit into it. I fell in love with entrepreneurship and writing, and resolved to pursue both, by writing regularly and immersing myself in startups.

After returning home I led the family effort to self-publish a book: Life is A Game: Group Games for Kids, Teens, and Adults. Buy it at 101groupgames dot com if you need answers to the question of ‘I dunno, what do YOU want to do?’. Writing that book was easy for our playful family, but like the SV upbringing, it’s not all universal.

I still believe that’s a fundamental truth - time spent playing with friends is some of the best time you can spend. That said, I have ambitions to accomplish something lasting and important in my life, so the happiness/significance dichotomy is one I struggle with. Would love to hear how you confront it in your life, if you're willing to share.

Right now I’m building a startup called Mailtime, a mobile messenger app built on top of email (think of Whatsapp’s easy interface but without its closed platform, mailtime dot com), interviewing entrepreneurs about daily habits (info at habitualhustler dot com), and blogging weekly on tech, life hacks, and fun at coreybreier dot com.

If any of that struck a chord with you please do reach out!

Book recommendations:

Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts - semi autobiographical story of a Aussie criminal who escaped and built a new life for himself in the slums of Mumbai. Every traveler’s favorite book.

Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Purpose For Their Lives by Isaiah Hankel - PhD realized he would hate being an academic, set out to find what he really wants, and provides an incredibly actionable/inspirational road map for you to do the same. The only self development book you need to read.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky - HP fan fiction written by one of the foremost minds in artificial intelligence. Harry is raised by a biochemist to be the ultimate rationalist scientist, and sets out to figure out magic, with fascinating results. Great narrative and intro to rationality.

And the bad joke:

A man takes his dog to the vet for a routine checkup, and paces the waiting room getting increasingly worried as the ordeal takes longer than usual. Finally the vet comes out carrying the dog and says ‘Sir, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to put your dog down.’

‘WHAT?! Why, she was perfectly healthy this morning!’

‘…She’s just too heavy.”

Corey Breier
San Francisco, CA