Boring Advice Repository

post by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T04:33:41.739Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 573 comments

This is an extension of a comment I made that I can't find and also a request for examples. It seems plausible that, when giving advice, many people optimize for deepness or punchiness of the advice rather than for actual practical value. There may be good reasons to do this - e.g. advice that sounds deep or punchy might be more likely to be listened to - but as a corollary, there could be valuable advice that people generally don't give because it doesn't sound deep or punchy. Let's call this boring advice

An example that's been discussed on LW several times is "make checklists." Checklists are great. We should totally make checklists. But "make checklists" is not a deep or punchy thing to say. Other examples include "google things" and "exercise." 

I would like people to use this thread to post other examples of boring advice. If you can, provide evidence and/or a plausible argument that your boring advice actually is useful, but I would prefer that you err on the side of boring but not necessarily useful in the name of more thoroughly searching a plausibly under-searched part of advicespace. 

Upvotes on advice posted in this thread should be based on your estimate of the usefulness of the advice; in particular, please do not vote up advice just because it sounds deep or punchy. 


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-07T07:02:45.154Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When in need of a conversation topic, ask a question about the other person's life. Anything about their life. (If I can't think of something else, I ask about weekend plans.) Listen for what part of their answer they're most interested in. Ask followup questions about that thing. Repeat as necessary.

People like to talk about themselves. This cuts awkward silences down to nothing and makes people like you. I've also learned all sorts of fascinating things about my acquaintances.

Replies from: Elithrion, jsalvatier
comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-07T19:17:24.995Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although it should be noted that while this is usually a good idea, it doesn't work on everyone and you should notice if your conversation partner doesn't seem very enthusiastic about talking about themselves. (Yes, I do mean myself - not a big fan of vacuously discussing what I'm up to, most of the time.)

Replies from: therufs, ModusPonies
comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T18:31:54.086Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In this situation, what would you suggest for your would-be interlocutors? Would it be acceptable for them to make clear that the conversational ball is now in your court and be fine with nonconversation meanwhile?

Replies from: Elithrion
comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-08T20:01:46.293Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Realistically? They'd start asking me how my things are going, and then I'd give some vague general comments and instead ask them how their things are going and then we'd talk about their things. Not sure what to do in the symmetrical case. Maybe try to find non-personal topics to discuss (e.g. books and other fiction, politics, anything else) with the major challenge being finding out which topics both people are interested in (and don't disagree too much on).

Replies from: None, therufs
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-09T14:20:38.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the major challenge being finding out which topics both people are interested in (and don't disagree too much on).

The stereotypical example of that is the weather.

Replies from: Desrtopa
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-03-09T15:36:16.769Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is anyone actually interested in the weather? I thought it was the stereotypical thing that people turn to when they can't think of anything interesting to talk about.

Replies from: scotherns, NancyLebovitz
comment by scotherns · 2013-03-11T12:21:47.041Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is the sterotypical thing to talk about, but the point is not the actual weather. It is signal that they would rather be talking to you than be silent. It's an invitation to start a conversation, since people don't routinely come up to you and say 'I would like to being a conversation with you - please suggest a topic'. They say 'Raining again!' instead.

Replies from: ModusPonies
comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-12T17:17:45.965Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, talking about a shared experience is powerful, no matter what that experience is. Compare other generic conversation topics: if you both saw the same movie lately, or both watched [$SPORTS_EVENT], then that's a shared experience. You can't necessarily rely on the other person having seen the latest cultural whatsit, but you can be pretty sure they've experienced the weather.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-10T03:39:56.304Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm somewhat interested in the weather-- it affects my quality of life.

One problem with being asked about one's life-- when some people do it, I feel like I'm being interrogated. I've got a friend who makes it feel like being interviewed by someone who's got a friendly interest, but I'm don't even have a theory about what creates the different effects.

I've got some ability to do small talk. What I'd like to be able to do is bet better at making a transition to more interesting topics.

comment by therufs · 2013-03-12T01:48:06.799Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

topics both people are interested in (and don't disagree too much on).

Hmmmm. Challenge accepted.

comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-07T20:12:00.531Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed! Regardless of the reason, pressing someone who wants to disengage is a Bad Thing.

(Although I'll note that, if done right, this technique doesn't have to be vacuous. The key is to let the other person guide the conversation towards the things they actually do care about. This takes practice, but it's worth it. Interested people are interesting.)

comment by jsalvatier · 2013-03-08T00:05:20.921Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you have more examples of specific questions you like to ask? I've been trying to figure out a good way to get people to talk about the people in their lives (friends, family etc.), just cause I usually like to hear people talk about that.

Simple things I've asked are:

  • Do you have family around here?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • Do you have roommates?

    But I'd like to figure out how to get people to tell me stories and descriptions of the people in their life.

Replies from: ModusPonies
comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-08T01:48:47.251Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

EDIT: I just now realized that your comment above is a great example of the sort of follow-up questions I'm talking about. Well played.

Examples from the past week:

  • Started with the "how was your week" thing. The guy had been on an MIT board discussing their strategy for building MOOCs, and I got to hear a lot about business models in education and how that's changing with technology.
  • Him: "I'll be leaving early tomorrow." Me: "Where are you going to be?" Well, he's helping his son move, and also trying to deal with the previous landlord because apparently his grandkids damaged the walls, and there's all sorts of drama around that...
  • I overheard someone talking about hockey. I know absolutely nothing about the sport, so I asked some extremely basic question, I can't recall what. I learned a little about the structure of the game, and then a lot about how stricter enforcement of the rules in recent decades has changed the dominant playstyles.
  • Right now, in my IRC window, I am hearing about changes to World of Warcraft in the ~5 years since I've played after asking about a cryptic comment someone made about downloading a patch.

As you can see, this is at best an imperfect tool for getting a specific type of story. The core of the technique is that I don't have anything in mind when I start, and I'm not steering towards any particular topic.

I haven't tried to get stories like the ones you're looking for, but I've found that being direct is usually a good approach. Maybe just go with "so who are the important people in your life?"

Replies from: malcolmocean, jsalvatier
comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-04-11T22:24:28.487Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe just go with "so who are the important people in your life?"

I really like that. It gives you a good sense of how they relate to people and also how probably what they value, assuming they give any indication at all of why those people are important.

comment by jsalvatier · 2013-03-08T22:18:10.991Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! :)

comment by lsparrish · 2013-03-07T15:28:20.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try to live close to where you work. Failing that, try to work close to where you live. Commuting takes a lot of time and you don't get paid for it.

Replies from: Dr_Manhattan, OrphanWilde, Qiaochu_Yuan, bbleeker, beoShaffer, passive_fist
comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2013-03-07T16:52:06.472Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternative: commute effectively. Taking a train to NYC from Long Island I get almost 2 hours to read/watch lectures or entertainment. Some days these are 2 best hours of the day.

Replies from: Pablo_Stafforini, None
comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) · 2013-03-08T21:24:47.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A few months ago I got a new job that required me to commute for two hours each day. I tried doing many different productive things while sitting on the bus (the means of transportation I used), including reading, listening to audiobooks, watching videos, and even meditating. Eventually, however, I reached the conclusion that doing Anki reviews (using the AnkiDroid app) was, by a wide margin, superior to all these other activities. If you own a smartphone, you might want to give it a try. (And if you don't own a smartphone, you might want to consider obtaining one.)

Replies from: Dr_Manhattan, MTGandP
comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2013-03-08T21:48:50.455Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good advice, I think a lot here depends on the quality of the commute. Big heavy trains are the most comfortable and lent to most potential productive activities. Anki-on-smartphone you can do while standing up in a subway.

comment by MTGandP · 2013-06-08T16:51:31.600Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What do you use Anki to review? I see that lots of people use it so it seems valuable, but I don't know what I would use it for.

Replies from: Pablo_Stafforini, Pablo_Stafforini, arundelo
comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) · 2013-06-08T17:14:13.711Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I use it for all sorts of things. I even listen to music on Anki. :-)

In addition to arundelo's link, you may want to check out this list of Anki decks by LW users.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T13:05:37.792Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not all people can read on trains comfortably. (Likewise, some but not all people can sleep on trains comfortably.) Therefore, Beware of Other-Optimizing is particularly relevant.

Replies from: William_Quixote
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-03-11T23:27:21.159Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know, but I suspect this might be trainable. As a young child I used to get very nauseous reading in the back seat of cars. But since I would get bored with nothing to do, I would read until I was to nauseous to continue, and then try again once I felt better. At some point I stopped getting carsick from reading. I don't Know that I trained this though, it's possible I just grew out of getting carsick, all sorts of stuff changes as you get older.

Replies from: None, taryneast
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-12T12:52:09.538Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect it's fairly common to become less carsick with age (it happened to me as well, and it's not like I trained -- I hadn't read in a car for years before trying to do that again and noticed that it bothered me much less). Anyway, in my case the problem is not sickness (I don't get sick at all when on rails), but just that I can't concentrate very well when on a train. So I can read short stories or poetry no problem, but I usually don't even try to read textbooks or papers.

comment by taryneast · 2014-09-05T05:08:29.555Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I still get carsick when reading on buses or cars. I no longer get sick when reading on trains. I used to be truly awful to take in a car (every single car-ride I got sick).

Even now, when i do get sick... I don't recover. I have to stop the car, wait half an hour (at least) before moving on (or eating, or anything apart from sitting on the ground feeling miserable).

I don't know if it's trainable... it has gotten better in the past 30-odd years... but not gone away totally.When i learned to drive - I learned how to avoid as much of the g-force-inducing movements as possible. I always choose train-transport over other transport.

but I am just one data-point.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:30:35.468Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternative: Prioritize the ability to telecommute over raw salary, if you're in an industry where you're able. Consider the time spent traveling when considering jobs.

If you can telecommute, also consider that you can live in a different state. Your paycheck can go further still when you aren't paying income taxes.

Replies from: twanvl, NancyLebovitz
comment by twanvl · 2013-03-07T23:44:32.007Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Telecommuting might not be the best thing for everyone. At home I have less social interaction and more distractions.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-10T03:43:52.657Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've heard that telecommuting makes promotion less likely. If so, then you need to consider more than your current salary.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-11T03:56:45.215Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


What, you want to put me in a position where I'm responsible for what a bunch of -programmers- do? Did I do something wrong?

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T17:20:14.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And commuting is apparently just fairly horrible in general.

Replies from: ciphergoth
comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2013-03-09T08:51:56.409Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Practically all of the discussion I can find about this is very US-centric, and so conflates "commuting" with "commuting by car". A long public transport commute that was ideal in other ways (train journey, no changes, door-to-door, frequent trains with seats, signal) could be much preferable to a shorter drive; I use my commute to read, look at my TODO list, catch up with blogs etc.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T10:42:56.172Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Euro here, I used to enjoy commuting by car more than by subway now:

  • personal space
  • safety from potentially aggressive travellers, the annoying drunks who try to yell at people on the subway
  • it is an exciting activity to drive as long as you can find tricky routes with little traffic, these will be usually narrow roads where you don't even need to exceed the 50 km/h speed limit to make it feel risky and exciting and if you do, no police there.
  • feeling middle class, not mixing with the "proles"
  • more freedom in choosing how to dress, less having to take the weather into account
  • resisting the temptation to drink alcohol right after work, at least starting later in the evening
  • music without annoying earplugs
  • hands-free phone calls, my dad used to be excellent at it, he was an entrepreneur and phoned through his whole 45 min long commute, by the time everybody arrived to the office every employee and subcontractor was briefed, problems reported back, things were in motion. This way the commute is worktime.
  • having useful stuff with me all the time in the trunk

And now I am nostalgic for my car. We live car-free now because it is very expensive, €80 mandatory insurance a month etc. but sure as hell I would want to have it back.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-25T13:53:21.943Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would not recommend combining this

an exciting activity [...] tricky routes [...] feel risky and exciting

with this

hands-free phone calls

In fact, I think there's good evidence that hands-free phone calls are considerably more distracting than drivers tend to think.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-09T17:36:38.992Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

IMO the optimal distance is 15-30 minutes by bicycle. That'll give you some exercise you don't have to do anything extra for, that doesn't take a lot of time. I've been working from home for close to 2 years now, and my fitness has taken a big hit. I've just started to ride my bicycle for about half an hour daily, but the problem is, I don't really need to do it, so it's easy to skip it if I'm busy or just don't feel like it.

Replies from: Error, bbleeker
comment by Error · 2013-03-11T19:22:24.143Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've considered this several times because I'm in range for it; but always reject it on the grounds that I don't want to sit around feeling like dried sweat and stink for eight hours. How did you deal with that when you were biking?

Replies from: wedrifid, bbleeker, Kenny
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-11T19:25:20.058Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've considered this several times because I'm in range for it; but always reject it on the grounds that I don't want to sit around feeling like dried sweat and stink for eight hours. How did you deal with that when you were biking?

Showers. (One of the advantages of large workplaces.)

Replies from: taryneast
comment by taryneast · 2014-09-05T05:13:53.308Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

and sometimes if not at your workplace, then nearby (or in a gym/mall/etc nearby that is willing)

comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-11T19:34:39.551Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I put on deodorant in the morning, and I don't race, I just go ~16-17 km/h (on average, that is; faster on straight stretches, like ~20 km/h). On a normal city bike, not a racing bicycle. I might get a little sweaty sometimes, but never so much that I got smelly. (Edit: typo)

Replies from: Creutzer
comment by Creutzer · 2013-04-12T09:16:12.284Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For what it's worth, I do exactly the same thing with the same result.

Replies from: Emily
comment by Emily · 2013-04-12T10:44:27.158Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ditto. Hills can add some sweatiness even if you go very slowly, if your range of gears isn't wide enough.

comment by Kenny · 2013-05-17T23:58:20.471Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I actually do race (when I actually bike to work) and I've almost never had a problem as long as I just wipe off the sweat when I get to work. I do tho bring a separate set of clothes (shirt and pants), as even in the fall and spring I completely soak my shirt (probably because I wear a messenger bag).

comment by bbleeker · 2017-01-21T14:28:34.167Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just happened to see this old comment. Sure enough, the cycling got skipped more and more often, until I just forgot about it completely. I really need to find something fun to do to get myself moving again.

comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T19:34:30.647Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, consider remote work.

comment by passive_fist · 2013-03-10T00:32:23.095Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Our neighborhood is a residential one that's fairly close to the main city center. Our streets are almost always lined with rows and rows of cars of people, many of whom come from distant parts of town, park their car here (to avoid ridiculously expensive parking fees in the city), and then take a 30-40 minute bus to their workplace.

Now I used to think that my 30 minute commute was bad. The buses come just twice an hour and are never on time, there's always traffic, and half the time you wind up standing. But these folks just astound me. I just can't imagine doing that each day - driving to a residential neighborhood, finding a parking space, then enduring the horrible public transit system, then doing the exact same thing in reverse to get back home. I hope they're getting paid tremendously well.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T21:15:42.932Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A major mental change that allowed me to own less things was someone mentioning "treat craigslist as free storage." The idea being that if you ever really need X you can get it fairly easily. But this extends to retail goods as well. I now keep in mind that everything that costs<(.1)(paycheck) is already mine and I only go pick it up if I really, actually, need it.

Replies from: Joshua_Blaine
comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2014-06-06T21:44:26.287Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a nice comment. It's a useful frame of reference and I especially like it because it jives well with the intuitions I've developed since I started studying Economics. And probably my identity as a Neat Person and someone who enjoys experiences over things.

comment by shminux · 2013-03-07T23:07:47.138Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Start your post or comment with a summary when posting anything over 3-5 paragraphs.

Replies from: ESRogs
comment by ESRogs · 2013-03-31T01:27:52.507Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also: use paragraphs.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T08:02:14.258Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Spend more money/time on optimizing boring things you use a lot:
Tailored clothes
Hygiene products that work well for you
Kitchen accessories (part of the reason you don't cook healthy meals for yourself might be because your kitchen work flow sucks)
Ergonomic setup at computer

Replies from: Viliam_Bur, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T10:59:11.962Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Find what is best for you, and buy a lot of them. Then you can ignore this topic for a long time.

If you buy more identical pairs of socks, if some of them get destroyed, you can make pairs of the remaining ones. On the other hand, if you buy similar pairs, you will waste a lot of time sorting them.


...and a pillow (or two). Try different sizes and shapes.

Kitchen accessories

For example a cutting board should be large and easy to wash. An increased size can make cutting much easier.

Replies from: sixes_and_sevens, Error, Will_Newsome, mare-of-night
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-07T12:59:19.161Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you buy more identical pairs of socks, if some of them get destroyed, you can make pairs of the remaining ones. On the other hand, if you buy similar pairs, you will waste a lot of time sorting them.

I recently had a sock cull, in which I got rid of every sock that couldn't immediately be visually matched with one of its fellows. I must've reduced the total number of socks I have by about two thirds, but the overall availability of matched socks is now much higher.

comment by Error · 2013-03-07T15:14:02.063Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Find what is best for you, and buy a lot of them. Then you can ignore this topic for a long time.

I have tried this with pants, because I have trouble finding comfortable ones. Unfortunately by the time I have a pair of pants that I'm sure are comfortable and I'm ready to buy five more of them, nobody stocks the same model anymore.

Replies from: mare-of-night, byrnema, taryneast
comment by mare-of-night · 2013-04-13T18:24:52.634Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A mail order catalog that doesn't change much might help with this, if you can find one that has the sort of clothes you like. Both LL Bean and Land's End usually carry the exact same thing or close to it for several years. I don't have much experience with others besides those two, though.

comment by byrnema · 2013-03-07T15:30:56.824Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In this case, they might be found inexpensively on Ebay.

I know exactly what shoes I like to wear to work, and I buy a couple pairs on Ebay whenever one of the colors (brown, blue, black) wears out. It's up to you, if you're willing to wear used shoes (you can also buy them new) but the pair I'm wearing look brand new and cost 1/20th the department store price.

I also buy identical pairs of socks in bulk. When they did stop selling the brand I liked, I got rid of all the old type knowing how much trouble it is to match different brands of the same colored socks.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T17:12:12.409Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am lucky to have many pairs of identical socks which have their sizes written on the bottom side. Nobody sees the bottom sides of my socks, but it is so easy to look there when sorting them. So they don't get mixed with the older socks of the same color.

If in the future I don't have the same luck, maybe I could just make some marks on the bottom sides. For example one small colored dot, using a washing-resistant color. The most work would be finding that color. But marking the already sorted socks, that would be a question of a few seconds.

Replies from: byrnema
comment by byrnema · 2013-03-07T17:50:26.343Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's an excellent alternative to throwing out perfectly good socks. This is something I can immediately apply to the socks of my children, since the issue there is that they're necessarily white-but-different-sizes (and it's difficult for me to tell just by looking at them whether they're 'little' or 'medium-little'.)

comment by taryneast · 2014-09-05T05:22:45.369Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pay attention to what qualities work well for you. Next time you buy pants... consider yourself entering a "trial period" of, say, one month. Wear them a lot during that month.

At the end of the month: if they fit all the good qualities. and have no bad qualities... go buy another pair - you have now entered the second phase... which lasts, say, 3 months (time can be varied as you get more skilled at this).

At the end of the three months... if you've decided these pants are really awesome and comfy... you should still be within the same season in which the pants first came out - and can go buy another five pairs (or whatever makes you happy).

The idea being: after a month, if you put in a concerted effort to pay attention - you can probably tell whether a pair of pants will be perfect for you.... but if you're unsure - then buying just one extra means you have at least got two pairs of really good ones, but haven't spent too much extra if you suddenly find out that they fall apart on the dot at 2.5 months old. By the time you hit the longer period - you'll have worn them for a season and should have a very good idea of whether they fit really well (=1 to buying more), and whether they are wearing out unusually fast (-1 instead).

comment by Will_Newsome · 2013-03-07T19:12:41.933Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(For casual clothing, short (like, no-show) black socks are mostly more fashionable than white socks.)

Replies from: jsalvatier
comment by jsalvatier · 2013-03-08T00:06:51.179Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For men, navy or possibly grey are good defaults for non no-show socks.

comment by mare-of-night · 2014-08-11T22:41:58.667Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For example a cutting board should be large and easy to wash. An increased size can make cutting much easier.

Depending on where you're using it. When my roommates leave the kitchen to cluttered to use, a small cutting board that fits on the desk in my bedroom is really nice to have. (Use case is usually eating cheese or carrots while doing homework - it doubles as a plate. I wouldn't want to chop meat that way.)

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T17:22:51.358Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Previous LW discussion about ergonomics.

comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T17:18:58.983Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are looking for employment, tell everyone you know. I have gotten 100% of my jobs from friends saying "hey, did you hear about this one".

Replies from: taryneast, Benquo, simplicio, None
comment by taryneast · 2014-09-05T05:28:50.518Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This includes posting "I'm looking for a job" publically on your facebook page, on linkedin and any other social-networking you may have. Use the magic of the internets to reach out to as many friends-of-friends that you can.

note: don't do this (or only post to friends) if your current employer does not know you are looking elsewhere...

comment by Benquo · 2014-05-01T19:46:07.391Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Related: When looking for a job that is different from whatever you're doing now, go on informational interviews. Come up with a list of specific things you are curious about, related to the field - intensity of work, skills used, related jobs, terminology that's unclear to you, advancement opportunities - and ask those questions during the interview.

The point is not to get a job from the person you're talking to, but to search many nodes of your social network. If you decide you do want to work in their field, you should ask, "Whom do you know, who's hiring?" And always, always ask, "whom else do you know that I should talk to?"

Replies from: therufs
comment by therufs · 2014-05-01T21:49:40.095Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It took me a long time to believe people actually liked to talk about their jobs/companies and were quite happy to refer me to other contacts, but it seems to be true.

comment by simplicio · 2013-03-11T22:23:06.672Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, this. Even with a good resume you might cold e-mail hundreds of companies and never get a bite. Knowing somebody almost always gets you to interview stage.

Replies from: therufs
comment by therufs · 2014-03-17T21:00:00.576Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Extremely belated reply, but for what it may be worth, I didn't actually have contacts at some of the jobs, just friends keeping tabs on some outlets I didn't (for example, neighborhood listserves I wasn't subscribed to, printed postings at businesses I didn't frequent.)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T11:16:20.994Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting, I got only one that way, and that was a former coworker, not a friend. How are friends are supposed to do if I am good at working at an entirely different industry than they do which they don't understand? And how could they know of open jobs in mine?

Well, I figure this only applies for specialists.

Replies from: RichardKennaway
comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-02-25T12:54:41.618Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I figure this only applies for specialists.

I think it more likely that it reflects different cultural backgrounds between you and therufs, both the local microculture around yourselves and the larger cultures of where you live. My picture of the archetypal LessWronger is a twenty-something in a place like Silicon Valley, working in computing, living with, working with, and mixing with the same sort of people both online and in meatspace, with no more than the fuzziest of lines separating "work" from "leisure" and "coworkers" from "friends": it's all LessWrong memespace. People from the former and current Russian-controlled states (and you seem to be describing that from personal experience) have a rather different milieu.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T13:15:32.058Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My mental image of LW is New York. Not sure why. Perhaps because a lot of people have Jewish names. Yes, the aspect of AI topics sound more Valley. But LW is a bit too altruistic for what I thought of the Valley, I would imagine the Valley as kinda egotistical Libertarians, even Objectivists, and I would associate effective altruism, charitable giving, these kinds of ethics stuff with NY. I always thought NY is "nicer", more in the bleeding-heart kind of stuff, more typically liberal, more social conscious, while the Valley is more "I deserve privilege because I am smart" kind of stuff. And LW gives me these good-guy vibes definitely, not the me-first vibes.

I find it interesting how work and leisure is not separated. Importing leisure into work sounds like discussing work related things at parties, apparently it suggests being really enthusiastic for that work, it is not something done just for the money. Importing leisure to work, hm, it sounds like having a really trusting employer :)

BTW my life experience is mainly Europe, but all over it - post-Soviet, UK, "can't hear you over our No. 1 quality of living" type of stuff in Vienna in Austria, etc. etc. very varied. This kind of thing - doctors befriending engineers, having no idea what each other do - happened a lot of times.

Replies from: ChristianKl, Vaniver
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-25T18:05:14.706Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it interesting how work and leisure is not separated. Importing leisure into work sounds like discussing work related things at parties, apparently it suggests being really enthusiastic for that work, it is not something done just for the money.

There's no good reason to pick work for which one isn't at least partly enthusiastic for skilled and smart people in Western society.

Even when nobody who was at our last LW meetup in Berlin works at the same company 5/7 people did talk about work in a way that influences their work in a meaningful way.

Importing leisure to work, hm, it sounds like having a really trusting employer :)

Building friendships with your coworkers is good for the employer.

BTW my life experience is mainly Europe, but all over it - post-Soviet, UK, "can't hear you over our No. 1 quality of living" type of stuff in Vienna in Austria, etc. etc. very varied. This kind of thing - doctors befriending engineers, having no idea what each other do - happened a lot of times.

Just because some of your friends do have other professions, doesn't mean all of them have.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-02T08:25:08.795Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's no good reason to pick work for which one isn't at least partly enthusiastic for skilled and smart people in Western society.

I think there. Perhaps with multiple-generation middle-class Westerners who look forward to inherit wealth this is not the case. But first-generation ones, or multiple-generation ones who come from a poor or broken family it is the case. People may talk about the welfare state but in reality it only keeps you out of the direst poverty, but it does not even cover living in an average sized rented apartment. That is around €800 a month in Austria for example with utilities, and that is roughly how much the welfare is and then you have not eaten anything or bought a shoe. So if you don't look forward to any help from parents nor inheritance, you have a pressing need to find any work to pay bills and secure a basic comfortable exsitence. That is on the expense side.

And on the income side, it is basically so that if you go look at job ads on e.g. Monster, they tend to cluster in a certain kind of industries and jobs: I see lots of logistics and accounting but very few about historians or drawing comics books. Even in those industries, only a subset offers a straight line in the sense of get a degree, find a relevant job kind, often e.g. they are looking for salespeople where no degree assures you a job, it is mostly life experience you gather anyhow.

Thus, for most of the decent, not burger flipping jobs, you don't have this straight line. The logistics or accountant expert can just get a degree and apply for job ads, but the salesperson cannot and the historian cannot and the comics drawer cannot. They need to rely on their social skills, networking, which only works for extroverts or people who generally like people and so on. The whole thing is not sure, not secure, not "promised", and maybe it works out in the long run, but does not necessarily make you meet the next bill. So basically people who can rely on parental support can pursue these fun careers because they can afford to spend years on building their network and diggin themselves into their niche industry.

This is why introverts / misanthropes, people who hate the idea of networking with other people, or people who cannot afford due to the lack of parental support the time to dig slowly into a niche industry, need to focus on the surer if boring and less satisfying paths to make a living.

(Note: this is not that being introvert equals being misanthrope. Of course it doesn't. Rather it is my own experience, I wondered for a long time if I am an introvert or just shy, and realized I plain simply do not like people. I am not shy about telling bothersome folks to fuck off, and encounters that do not require me to show interest in the other person do not drain my energies. This is why I do most of my communication outside my family online on forums like this, this way I can focus on the only thing that interests me in other people: their thoughts and knowledge.)

Building friendships with your coworkers is good for the employer.

In a high-trust environment only! Some kings in very old times made sure to recruit their bodyguards from feuding clans, in order to make sure they will not conspire to assassinate him. In low-trust environ, an employment does not want employees who are friends, to the contrary! They should be rivals, so that when one conspires to fuck the employer over, the other rats him out. Recently an IKEA worker told me warehouse guys stole two whole kitchens, a damage of around €30K. This requires cooperation. IKEA is better off with warehouse guys who dislike each other, just do what they are told individually, and rat the thieves out. They don't need to brainstorm together, don't need to cooperate, no team work, it is more like the boss says load 40 cartons of 902.12.15 into A45 and then just they do it.

Because there is more to Western civ than Silicon Valley and its creative brainwork.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-06T00:29:10.044Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I made a point of speaking about smart and skillful people. Of course there are unskilled people for whom it's difficult to find meaningful work.

They need to rely on their social skills, networking, which only works for extroverts or people who generally like people and so on.

Of course the salesperson needs social skills, that's what being a sales person is about. If you don't enjoy social interaction then pick another job.

The logistics or accountant expert can just get a degree and apply for job ads, but the salesperson cannot and the historian cannot and the comics drawer cannot.

Neither Dilbert nor Randal needed anybody to give him a job. Those are the comics that I actually read and both of those people make money from their work.

Of course they both have skills that they didn't develop through a degree, but I don't think that's a problem.

IKEA is better off with warehouse guys who dislike each other, just do what they are told individually

Warehouse guys don't have cool jobs, but having a motivated workforce is useful in most circumstances and relationships facilitate it.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-06T09:15:14.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somehow we are misunderstanding each other. Let's take Dilbert. It is a skill developed outside college, but without anything like a clear job and career promise. Relying on only this IMHO takes a lot of courage. Having a Plan B, like draw comics but also learn to be an accountant, is probably what they did unless they are very brave. In this case, the question is do people have passions or interests that are monetizable, for comics drawing probably does not come as a career choice, but more of a hobby as first.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-06T12:19:41.223Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't buy the premise that a "clear job and career" promise is needed for anything.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-06T12:22:17.562Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Needed for feeling safe. Needed for not needing courage. Needed for not feeling existential angst, insecurity or anything like tht. Needed against the nagging feeling "will anyone ever really pay for this bullshit I am doing here?"

One thing I did not mention that if your parents instilled a no pain no gain mentality into you, then you feel like if you are enjoying yourself and doing something you like, you are not gaining anything, you are using up capital, wasting time and you feel you cannot possibly get paid for it in the long run.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-06T15:06:25.282Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Needed for not needing courage.

Basically "lack of skill".

One thing I did not mention that if your parents instilled a no pain no gain mentality into you

Basically "lack of skill".

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-06T16:20:36.349Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I don't see it is the case. It could be an underestimation of skill, or the underestimation of the environment's suitability for that skill. And the instilled mentality has absolutely nothing to do with skill, it just makes one kind of puritanical.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-25T14:04:24.449Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I always thought NY is "nicer", more in the bleeding-heart kind of stuff, more typically liberal, more social conscious, while the Valley is more "I deserve privilege because I am smart" kind of stuff.

Hmm. As an American, my view of the two is flipped, but both are in the reference class of "elitist cities that lean heavily liberal and have a strong cultural class."

comment by Alicorn · 2013-03-07T05:40:15.978Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If, realistically, you aren't going to do a thing, proceed immediately to figuring out the best way to not do it.

Replies from: twanvl, Stabilizer, jsalvatier
comment by twanvl · 2013-03-07T23:42:59.593Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the best way to not do it.

This sounds too punchliney. What do you actually mean? What part of not doing it needs figuring out? How to avoid it? What to do instead? Something else entirely?

Replies from: Alicorn, Matt_Simpson
comment by Alicorn · 2013-03-08T04:11:42.818Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How to avoid it at minimal cost, retrieve the resources spent on preparing to do it, get some of the (refactored) results you wanted out of it, and update on the information that you're not going to do it to avoid being in situations where you're supposed to do equivalent things later.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2014-09-28T00:35:14.235Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you give an example?

Replies from: Alicorn
comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-08T02:10:47.729Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The best way not to do something is to do the best thing you could be doing instead in the best way.

comment by Stabilizer · 2013-03-07T06:18:18.707Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Very insightful. Not boring at all.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T06:23:54.741Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too insightful! Not boring enough!

comment by jsalvatier · 2013-03-08T00:09:36.578Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Intriguing! Do you have any concrete examples? I'm having a hard time visualizing any.

Replies from: Alicorn
comment by Alicorn · 2013-03-08T04:10:16.345Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

From today:

"Yeah, I'm not gonna get around to making those cookies today. I will put the butter back in the freezer, instead of leaving it out on the off chance I change my mind."

Basically, don't be poised to do things when poising takes resources and you won't do the things.

Replies from: Dorikka
comment by Dorikka · 2013-03-08T05:02:27.623Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Basically, don't be poised to do things when poising takes resources and you won't do the things.

I much prefer this version to its grandparent.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T05:51:16.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you feel sad when you shouldn't feel sad consult a medical professional or therapist, they can help.

[Wish I'd realised that a few years ago.]

Replies from: jooyous, None, buybuydandavis, Mirzhan_Irkegulov, None, roland
comment by jooyous · 2013-03-08T05:56:55.128Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do I know when I shouldn't feel sad? Also, it's scary. :(

Replies from: RomeoStevens, None, therufs, TimS
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T07:19:59.840Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The parent post shouldn't have made you sad.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-09T01:48:39.381Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you find this list describes you well some fair portion of the time (say, more than 20%, though even that sounds like a lot given what I know about people who don't have chronic depression), that's probably a start.

As to it being scary -- yeah, it is. One really important thing to do ahead of time if you decide to seek help is figure out how to make a safe exit if you're uncomfortable, or don't want to continue with a specific provider. Some people find that easy; others find it challenging. Not sure which you are, or how much trouble you have asserting your own boundaries, but it's a very useful skill.

One practical matter of safety here: if you want to walk away from someone and you're worried they might escalate, know that in most cases they can only act without your consent if they believe you pose some specific danger to yourself or others. Think about what you're going through that might be interpreted that way, and be careful before sharing anything like that if you think you might want to stop seeing that provider.

Replies from: juliawise, bbleeker
comment by juliawise · 2013-03-10T02:39:59.261Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

figure out how to make a safe exit if you're uncomfortable, or don't want to continue with a specific provider.

Yes. The first therapist I saw was so bad that I called him to cancel after the first visit (though I still didn't have the guts to say it in person). Keep in mind that this is always an option. "I don't think this is a good fit" is a totally acceptable thing to say to a therapist or doctor.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-09T18:06:26.386Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wow, a lot of things on that list describe me. I'm not even feeling that unhappy... I thought it was just low self-confidence plus some nasty ugh-fields.

Replies from: juliawise
comment by juliawise · 2013-03-10T04:29:20.780Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regardless, is low self-confidence getting in your way and making your life worse? If so, seeing a therapist might be one way to work on that.

comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T17:16:38.463Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do I know when I shouldn't feel sad?

My personal metric has been that it's reasonable to feel sad when there's a specific event (as opposed to a circumstance) to be sad about (death of someone close to me, breakup of a relationship, loss of a job.)

But whether or not you "should" feel sad, professionals can help.

Also, it's scary.

The voice that is telling you that awful things are loitering just outside the edge of your awareness, I call The Jerkbrain.

I can self-report that directly and emphatically addressing it as such (usually "shut up, Jerkbrain!") has had helpful effects including:

  • increased aptitude for dealing with problems in the physical world
  • much less energy wasted dealing with problems that exist only in distant possibility (and maybe not even there.)

I am not my jerkbrain, and you are not yours, either.

Replies from: jooyous, simplicio
comment by jooyous · 2013-03-08T19:08:10.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess it would be helpful to have a "normal" range of time in which it's reasonable to feel sad or weird after a death, break-up, etc. Sometimes, it feels like they all pile up.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T23:42:29.033Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If it's been more than a year, and it's disruptive to your daily life (trouble enjoying pleasant things, pervasive thoughts, crying spells, difficulty functioning at work, difficulty connecting with new partners, etc.), it's probably worth seeking help.

Heck, if it's been more than 3 months, you'll probably benefit from help.

If you have friends you trust, asking them is probably best, since they'll know how important that particular person was to you.

If you feel like it's "all piling up", that's a sign that you're dealing with more than you know how to cope with. That's exactly when getting someone else to help can be most useful.

Now I just need to convince myself to take my own advice here :(

comment by simplicio · 2013-03-11T22:36:02.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I called it the Saboteur.

I think this might be a very helpful piece of advice for non-depressed people. Locating self-defeating thoughts and behaviours "outside" yourself and telling them to take a running jump is a great technique.

comment by TimS · 2013-03-10T03:26:07.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think a functional definition is best. Do your negative thoughts (sadness, depression, anxiety, or suchlike) interfere with your ability to live your life (hold a job, attend social events, etc)? Then talking to a therapist may be helpful.

You wouldn't be ashamed to visit a doctor for advice on how to deal with a nagging cough - emotions that impose a similar level of difficulty can be improved with expert attention.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T12:07:14.152Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I seriously don't understand this. E.g. in post-Soviet Eastern Europe lot, really a lot of people go through life functionally in the sense of being able to hold down a job, stay in a marriage, raise kids, while being wholly joyless / anhedonic and just doing it from a sense of duty. And coping via drinking etc.

Are you talking from the viewpoint of a culture where people refuse to do things they don't enjoy and thus their anhedonia becomes visibly dysfunctional?

For example, social events aren't "mandatory" in the sense job/family are (in the sense of your parents probably did not drill it into you that you must do these to be allowed to not feel worthless about yourself), they are mostly for fun, so it is difficult to say what it does with functionality if we do not link functionality with joy. Again the people I am talking aboud do not attend to social events, if getting shitface drunk with the neighbor does not count as one.

At any rate I do not yet see a culture-neutral link between anhedonia and dysfunctionality, it seems they are only strongly linked if people define functionality itself as an enjoyable, autonomous life, but when people think they were born to fulfill certain mandatory roles and tasks, they can go through it efficiently while still feeling totally empty inside.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T17:05:51.436Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For instance if you are having thoughts of self-harm.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-12T13:06:24.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Talk to some friends first. Much of what we fret over are problems shared by others, or problems that we have blown out of proportion for ourselves.

Much of depression is trying to live up to a false image of yourself that your friends don't have.

Replies from: FiftyTwo
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-12T21:12:25.217Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Plus, y'know, neurotransmitter deficiencies.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2014-12-01T05:51:47.701Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wish you could be upvoted more.

If you feel sad, unsatisfied, inadequate, guilty, lonely, or demotivated when you shouldn't feel so or for a long period of time, quickly fill in this questionnaire. Odds are it's not something objectively wrong with you or your environment, but you simply got depression.

Depression is both serious and treatable, so the earlier you find out about it, the better it is for you. Depression is not some fatal rare disease, you can have a milder form of depression and not even know it about it. Yet it is very incapacitating. If you find that you have depression, however mild, and can't afford a therapist, find a book Feeling Good and start reading and working through it.

[Wish someone told me when I was 12.]

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T13:23:51.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless you're talking about feeling sad for like two weeks in a row, that's excessive -- do this first. (Unless you're not counting “I have slept/eaten/whatever less than usual lately” as “you shouldn't feel sad”.)

comment by roland · 2013-03-11T19:26:14.433Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Careful with this! I've had a friend who ended up in the psychiatry, he committed suicide later. The doctors didn't help him they made things worse by giving him lots of medications with terrible side effects.

The track record for psychiatry is not very good.

Replies from: FiftyTwo
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-11T20:36:17.075Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Beware selection bias, lots of people who have had psychological treatment later commit suicide, but thats because they are more likely to seek it in the first place. The same can be said about medical doctors, taken in isolation, they are involved in giving people horrible side effects, and a lot of their patients die anyway.

There's a bunch of peer reviewed studies on the effectiveness of medication and counselling, that doesn't mean it will always work, and that every practitioner is equally good, but its better than nothing.

(Sorry if I sound insensitive, I know its very traumatic to lose someone close to you, but there's third party harm to spreading the idea people shouldn't seek help in situations like this.)

Replies from: roland
comment by latanius · 2013-03-08T00:57:30.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are trying to do X, surround yourself with people who are also doing X. Takes much less willpower to keep doing it.

Replies from: beoShaffer
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-08T01:12:33.404Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On a related note make sure that they are people who are actively doing X, or at least making credible progress towards it not just professing a desire to X. This is an easy mistake to make.

Replies from: sanddbox
comment by sanddbox · 2013-05-27T06:55:05.712Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doesn't this, to a large extent, describe LW?

Replies from: beoShaffer
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-05-27T16:37:58.542Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which part?

Replies from: sanddbox
comment by sanddbox · 2013-05-28T02:19:23.855Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

just professing a desire to X

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:23:27.179Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Learn to cook at least a handful of simple, cheap, fast meals. This will have more effect on your resolutions to "eat healthy" than temporary spurts of mega-motivation.

(also recognizing that spurts of motivation are temporary in general, do not rely on them for lasting change)

Replies from: Viliam_Bur, Error, Decius, None
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T10:42:14.133Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also make a list of those recipes (including ingredients) and store it somewhere in the kitchen.

When you catch yourself repeating the same three recipes over again, just look at the list for a new-old inspiration. Do it before you go shopping, so you can immediately buy the necessary ingredients. (If you go shopping on your way home from job, maybe you should put the list online so you can read it before leaving your job.)

comment by Error · 2013-03-07T15:10:05.954Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Related: Shop with a list. Do not buy anything not on the list. If possible, do not put anything on the list that doesn't require cooking to eat.

(not having anything snackable on hand is a great way to ensure that you only eat when you actually need to. Most people won't go out of their way to cook just to satisfy the "hrm, I'm bored, let's eat something" impulse.)

Replies from: Viliam_Bur, Kindly, NancyLebovitz
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T17:17:54.877Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If possible, do not put anything on the list that doesn't require cooking to eat.

Exception: vegetables.

not having anything snackable on hand is a great way to ensure that you only eat when you actually need to.

Preparing a snackable version of vegetables (e.g. clean a few carrots, cut them to small pieces, and put them into the bowl) and putting it next to your computer could be an easy way to make yourself eat more vegetables.

comment by Kindly · 2013-03-07T23:11:54.653Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If possible, do not put anything on the list that doesn't require cooking to eat.

In my exprience, following this advice leads to me skipping approximately every fourth meal.

Edit: to my detriment.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-07T18:33:48.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does it generally make sense to cook one meal at a time rather than making a larger batch?

Replies from: RomeoStevens, Error
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T20:46:47.228Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the time savings from batch cooking do add up surprisingly quickly, especially when you include cleanup.

comment by Error · 2013-03-07T21:32:19.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not if the idea is to deliberately introduce trivial inconveniences.

comment by Decius · 2013-03-08T00:16:04.540Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Converge what you enjoy eating with what you can cook.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T11:28:11.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Objection: simple, cheap, fast meals don't exactly need to be cooked. Wholemea rye bread has an insulin score of 56, better than fish, a satiety score of 154 and decent amount of fiber. Put anything on it and call it a sandwich. The taste sucks, but it is a good-conscience meal in 20 secs.

Cooking has multiple definitions, I personally don't consider a scrambled egg with onions cooking, or a grilled cheese sandwich or a salad, and I used to live on these kinds of stuff for years. If the bread part was wholemeal rye and you added vegs, it is decently healthy.

Yeah I know for some people this would be called cooking, but I think cooking begins at the level of the five mother sauces, this is not cooking, just hot food preparation.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-25T12:43:18.183Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For reasons I realise I don't know[1], the primary meaning of "cook" for me is to make nontrivial changes to food by means of heat. (Consider the word "uncooked" as applied e.g. to meat and eggs.) So, for me, scrambling eggs counts as "cooking" even though it's not exactly a difficult task. Other forms of food preparation shade gradually from not-cooking to cooking as the effort expended and the extent to which the food gets transformed increase. So putting together a sandwich or a simple salad isn't (usually) "cooking"; grilling cheese on toast just barely is because heat is involved; making (say) ice cream is just barely "cooking" even if you do it without making a custard, because you're doing something quite nontrivial to the ingredients (I guess applying cold is a bit like applying heat); etc.

[1] It looks as if the OED largely agrees (most of the senses it lists explicitly or implicitly give preference to the application of heat) and also doesn't really know why (it says "cook", v., is derived from "cook", n., and says nothing more about the etymology of the former; the latter has always meant anyone whose job is preparing food, without any particular preference to doing so by applying heat).

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T13:06:51.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting! I realized now that I consider ice cream making cooking, because it is a higher skilled thing. My wife makes several no-heat cakes and I consider it cooking.

My mental image of cooking is stirring something with a wooden spoon, a something made from multiple ingredients. Probably because my ethnic culture is sauce-oriented.

I should also add that in my native language to cook and to boil are the same words and I never fully grasped the difference in English. So I would cook a soup but roast a chicken.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-02-25T14:12:58.497Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In English, to cook is to prepare food, especially by applying heat, but there's no assumption of a particular means of applying heat. Boiling and roasting are both varieties of cooking (in both senses). So are zapping in a microwave, searing on a griddle-pan, grilling under an electric overhead grill, etc.

I think you could say the following: "When you make meringues, they don't really cook in the oven, it's more that they slowly dry out". So maybe "cook" means not merely "to prepare food by applying heat" but something more like "to prepare food by applying sufficient heat to denature proteins", the underlying idea presumably being something like "to heat food up enough to make it safe to eat".

Of course I'm using "'cook' means not merely X but Y" as shorthand for something like "a lot of skilled native English speakers, when they use or hear the word "cook", are thinking about Y as well as X". So what I really mean is that when I use or hear the word "cook" the following ideas are all somewhat active in my brain:

  • preparing food
  • heating things up
  • making food safe by killing bacteria and parasites
  • performing a skilled activity
  • making something particularly tasty

but for me there's no very strong activation of, e.g.,

  • boiling as opposed to other modes of heating
  • stirring as opposed to other skilled cooking-related activities

I dare say that if I attempted to draw a stereotypical instance of "cooking" it would be quite likely to involve stirring a pot or pan, but it would be quite likely to involve someone wearing a chef's hat and apron too and those obviously aren't part of the meaning of "cooking".

Replies from: None, Jiro
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T17:01:12.582Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I looked a bit into the etymology. It is not helpful. Cook as a noun or to cook means the same thing all the way down to Latin coquus and to PIE *pekʷ-, with only the later having one more meaning: to ripen. Heat application is there all the way, but not really specifying how. I would suggest that probably people boiled or simmered more than they roasted in historical times, because, well, convection, that makes even hardest meat sooner or later soft without burning it, and does not waste nutrients into the grease falling into the fire. For example, if you have an old rooster, a soup or a stew is really the only option.

However, roasting seems to be a higher-prestige way - medieval nobility is commonly depicted feasting on whole roasted animals, not sure how accurate that is. Perhaps the prestige comes from the difficulty. Roasting a whole ox, which was a way inviting a whole town to party, is very, very difficult.

Back to practice: I recommend telling people "learn to prepare a few easy meals" this sounds less scary than "learn to cook".

Replies from: Lumifer
comment by Lumifer · 2015-02-25T17:45:18.966Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps the prestige comes from the difficulty.

More likely from the fact that you roast meat and poultry which are expensive foods compared to grains and vegetables.

comment by Jiro · 2015-02-25T16:25:38.842Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If cooking means heating food up until it is safe to eat, I couldn't cook carrots or apples.

I would suggest that a word can mean different things in different contexts, and especially, a more general meaning and a more specific meaning. Saying that meringues aren't cooking is a use of the more specific meaning.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-03-09T11:26:05.522Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Never post a web link that requires readers to click on it to find out if they want to click on it.

Replies from: sketerpot
comment by sketerpot · 2013-03-28T05:09:00.077Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On that note: middle-click (or Ctrl-click) on links while you're reading to open them in a background tab. Later, glance at the tab to find out if you want to have clicked on it. If the answer is "No, I don't really want to have clicked on that link," just close the tab.

(The downside is that this may lead to tab explosions on web sites like TV Tropes.)

comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-07T15:21:23.706Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If a complete stranger or an acquaintance can do something useful for you, ask. (Politely. At a convenient time. With an appropriate amount of honest flattery.) If they say no, don't press them.

Failure case: make someone else feel important. Success case: get a favor, maybe make a connection.

Replies from: beoShaffer, MixedNuts
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T19:40:52.042Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Always remember to thank them after they agree to help you and again after they've actually helped you, see for reference Ben Franklin effect , the 299th rule of acquisition, and the power of reinforcement.

Replies from: ModusPonies, Rukifellth
comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-07T20:03:00.218Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A thousand times yes! And since this is a thread for boring, useful advice, I'll include the general version: Thank people who do things for you, whether or not you asked them to do it. It conditions them to help you. Thanking people reliably and sincerely is a powerful tool, and while there's a bit of skill to doing it well, it's more than worth practicing.

Replies from: beoShaffer
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T20:27:36.854Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone know why the rest of my comment isn't showing? There should be links to an article on conditioning, an article on the Ben Franklin effect, and the rules of acquisition.

Replies from: arundelo, NancyLebovitz
comment by arundelo · 2013-03-07T21:31:32.275Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

See if it's one of these problems. If not, I'll look at your Markdown source code if you email it to me. (My username AT or

Replies from: beoShaffer
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T21:41:04.394Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That worked, I had en.wikipedia instead of http://en.wikipedia.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-07T20:54:18.708Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know, but you have a chance of finding out if you click on the edit icon (the pencil in a square) for the comment. There's probably something wrong with the way you formatted the links. See if the Show Help box has anything useful.

Replies from: beoShaffer
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T21:02:46.081Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've done both and it looks correct.

comment by Rukifellth · 2013-03-12T20:05:22.616Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

make someone else feel important

appropriate amount of honest flattery

I'm worried about tactics like this being overused. Pleasantries really do become mechanical through repetition, and I'm not sure if short term benefits are worth it. More likely than not, a person may be conditioned to think that flattery is only given before a request.

Replies from: ModusPonies
comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-15T20:39:40.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is definitely a danger. It's important to also express honest appreciation when you have nothing specific to gain. (I've been making an effort to do more of that, lately.) If you do, you and your peers will be justifiably happier, and you also get to use tactics like the above without poisoning the well.

You should be a good person to everyone you meet — it is the moral thing to do, and as a sidenote will really help your networking

comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-22T22:38:15.518Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Failure case: They feel compelled to help, resent you for it, and destroy your reputation by speaking ill of you.

Replies from: Arran_Stirton
comment by Arran_Stirton · 2013-03-27T08:57:16.204Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Preemptive Solution: Leave a line of retreat, make sure that there is little/no cost for them if they choose to refuse; thus reducing the likelihood that they will help you out of compulsion.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-27T16:36:54.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do you do that?

Replies from: Arran_Stirton
comment by Arran_Stirton · 2013-03-30T07:40:30.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As far as I know there's no single sure-fire way of making sure that asking them won't put them in a position where refusal will gain them negative utility (for example, their utility function could penalize refusing requests as a matter of course) . However general strategies could include:

  • Not asking in-front of others, particularly members of their social group. (Thus refusal won't impact upon their reputation.)

  • Conditioning the request on it being convenient for them (i.e. using phrasing such as "If you've got some free time would you mind...")

  • Don't give the impression that their help is make or break for your goals (i.e. don't say "As you're the only person I know who can do [such&such], could you do [so&so] for me?")

  • If possible do something nice for them in return, it need not be full reciprocation but it's much harder to resent someone who gave you tea and biscuits, even if you were doing a favor for them at the time.

Of course there's no substitute for good judgement.

Replies from: Joshua_Blaine
comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2014-06-06T21:58:37.822Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Connected to this: A preemptive favor is more likely to result in later requests (even if larger than the initial favor) being fulfilled, but the end result may or may not be a more positive opinion of you. The abstract of this paper seems to indicate increased liking of a stranger that does this, but paywalls and general laziness prevent me from getting a more comprehensive idea of what can happen.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-08T06:12:29.315Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Obtain a smartphone. It will make your life better. (If you don't have one because you feel like they're overhyped, remember that reversed stupidity is not intelligence.) Here is a list of things I use my smartphone to do, in no particular order:

  • Record things I want my future selves to do in RTM on the go
  • Record sleep data using Sleep Cycle
  • Take notes on conversations using either voice memos or Evernote
  • Record various kinds of things in Workflowy, e.g. exercise data
  • Respond more quickly to emails (people I know have debated the value of doing this, but I get really annoyed when other people take a long time to respond to my emails and don't want to do that)
  • Receive calendar alerts, alarms, and Boomerangs from my past selves that remind me to do things
  • Look things up, e.g. on Wikipedia, on the go (e.g. when I am waiting in line for something)
  • Read academic papers on the go
  • Search my email for important information on the go, e.g. the location of some event or an ID number of some kind
  • Look up directions on the go, e.g. to the location of some event
  • Look up places on Yelp on the go
  • Look up prices and reviews of an item I'm considering buying IRL on Amazon

There is a possibility of wasting large amounts of time playing games which I curtailed early on by refusing to download games except during breaks from school.

Replies from: habryka4, taelor, therufs, None, OrphanWilde
comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-04-26T05:30:25.241Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many years later, I think the effects of owning a smartphone have probably turned net-negative for me, and I've historically been more happy in periods that I did not have one.

My guess this has to do with the internet becoming more pervasive and the marginal value of the internet being more accessible being negative.

Replies from: Sherrinford
comment by Sherrinford · 2020-05-16T10:50:45.721Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It may be worthwhile figuring out how to minimize the disadvantages of smartphones.

comment by taelor · 2013-03-13T07:56:02.931Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Look things up, e.g. on Wikipedia, on the go (e.g. when I am waiting in line for something)

Upvoted for this. I think possibly the single biggest impact of the existence of smartphones is that in a world where its possible to carry device cappable of accessing Wikipedia in your pocket means that no one ever has an excuse for being ignorant of basic facts about any subject that they had a reasonable amount of time to prepare for.

Another thing: I've found that listening to podcasts while doing mindless, repetative tasks (mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, cleaning) makes the process much, much more enjoyable.

comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T16:37:08.836Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My main objection to smartphone use is that by putting anything you want to pay attention to at your fingertips, it can introduce a certain distance from what is actually going on. I would not advocate, say, spending your 4 hours at the DMV observing your surroundings (that would be a waste of time). But I am concerned that time spent with portable Internet corresponds to ever thicker-walled and less-apparent echo chambers. Is this an issue you have thoughts on?

By way of example, I'm trying to think about the difference between reading a novel on the subway and reading the internets on the subway; the main distinction is that when I'm reading the novel, I'm aware that I'm not actually paying attention to my surroundings.

Replies from: handoflixue, Qiaochu_Yuan, TheOtherDave
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T23:34:24.432Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I'm interacting with people, I treat it as rude to pull out my phone without asking.

If I'm already not-interacting-with-people, I don't see why it would be any worse than a book. So many other people have smart phones that "socialize while waiting" is dying off regardless of what I do, and a book generally kept people from trying to strike up a conversation anyway.

As to the "not aware I'm not aware"... I've always felt equally towards books and smart phones. Possibly a bit more aware with my smart phone, actually, since dropping it or having it stolen is a much bigger deal.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-08T18:25:43.601Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

it can introduce a certain distance from what is actually going on.

This is probably true, but I think this is a small negative and is outweighed by the large positives. If you decide you want to pay more attention to your surroundings with a smartphone, you can add an RTM item or use calendar alerts to remind yourself to do that periodically.

Replies from: Pablo_Stafforini
comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) · 2013-03-22T20:22:52.278Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed, one of the ways in which owning a smartphone has improved my life is by reminding me to do things which I need to do regularly in order to change a trait or habit. For instance, I used to have bad posture, which I corrected after setting A HIT interval timer to vibrate every 10 minutes, and interpreting these vibrations as reminders to improve the way I was standing or sitting.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-03-08T17:40:05.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I infer that when you read the internets, you aren't aware that you aren't paying attention to surroundings.
I have trouble understanding why that is.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T13:17:59.714Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(And having a camera good enough that text in pictures stays legible is sometimes very handy IME.)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T15:57:28.049Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The only feature I regularly use on my phone is the alarms. They're absurdly useful. Advanced alarm functionality alone is worth the price of admission.

Replies from: tgb
comment by tgb · 2013-03-08T16:41:57.188Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What exactly is 'advanced alarm functionality' and how do you recommend using it?

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T18:14:15.500Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd hesitate to pin it down to any particular feature set, but the following two features have been very useful to me:

Date-based alarm scheduling - I don't want a feature-heavy calendar application running on my phone, so this has been useful.

Custom text for alarms - Useful for gym reminders; I can plan exercises for each day in advance, rather than deciding what to do in advance. (Again, I stay away from feature-heavy applications. I like lightweight.)

Day-based alarms, and multiple alarms, while trivial features on most smartphone alarm apps, are in fact quite useful, and weren't present in my pre-smartphone phones. I have two alarms set for waking up, for example; the first tells me to down an energy drink (Xenadrine drink mix, supposedly for dieting but my favorite energy drink, or Redline energy drinks, are both awesome for this) or extra-large cup of coffee. Thirty minutes later, when the second alarm wakes me up, I wake up easily and without grogginess. (Alternatively, you can use an alarm application that wakes you up in the ideal part of your sleep cycle. That's a bit... feature-rich for me, however.)

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T23:35:35.147Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do you have a cup of coffee ready to go before you wake up? I'd think it would be cold and unpleasant...

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-09T02:58:43.234Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...cold and unpleasant? You mean perfect?

Yes, I like my coffee cold. I like my soda and beer warm, too. I'm just that kind of guy.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-11T18:03:40.798Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect that the vast majority of coffee drinkers disagree with you, and thus your advice is probably inapplicable to most people there. I could be wrong, but you're the first person I've ever met who considers 8-hour-old coffee to be a good thing.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-11T18:12:21.638Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

8 hour old coffee is insufficiently aged; it has yet to achieve peak bitterness.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-11T18:23:39.263Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You missed the point...

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-11T18:33:28.090Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You missed that I already acknowledged other people don't share my tastes, which was the point about liking warm beer and soda. You can substitute in your own preferences, even if it's a coffee pot set next to your alarm clock/phone scheduled to turn on shortly before your alarm goes off; it's unnecessary to copy the specific implementation to get utility out of the general concept.

At that point I was merely being amusing; missing the point was rather the point.

comment by Stabilizer · 2013-03-07T22:27:56.801Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't smoke.

Replies from: AlexSchell, OrphanWilde
comment by AlexSchell · 2013-03-07T23:57:36.505Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also seriously look into regularly using other sources of nicotine unless it's included in your workplace's drug screens.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T16:00:11.365Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Smoking has improved the quality of my life thus far. But I'm very cautious with it, and take frequent breaks.

Replies from: gwern, jkaufman
comment by gwern · 2013-03-08T19:28:47.045Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What does smoking do for you that something less dangerous like nicotine gum or patches would not?

Replies from: buybuydandavis, OrphanWilde
comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-12T13:28:54.398Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

With all the public banning of smokers, they'd be a nice club to join. It's a social activity and commonality that I believe would be very useful.

I don't smoke, but will go on smoke breaks with other people at work. You make friends. I'd expect it to be more generally useful to be able to join the little smoking islands in public.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T19:54:00.456Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, those particular two aren't actually less dangerous to me, on account of a latex allergy.

(I don't know if the gum -actually- contains latex, but it sure as hell tastes like it. Problem there is that nicotine tastes like an allergic reaction to me; both "taste" like needles stabbing into my tongue. Either way I'm staying well away from the gum, and using the patches, which merely cause me skin irritation, sparingly; mostly I use them for lucid dreaming, as they're the only reliable mechanism I've found for inducing strong dream states.)

Trying to get accustomed to e-cigs, but they're pretty harsh.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-03-08T20:18:07.271Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nicotine patches seem to often contain latex, explaining your skin irritation, but the one gum I found docs on the issue, Nicorette, specifically says there is no latex in it.

I also wonder why you'd find e-cigs harsh - I was under the impression they were just water and nicotine and possibly a suspension like glycerol, which seem much milder and less irritating than the witch's brew of tobacco smoke.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T21:11:25.072Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Either way, I'm not putting the gum in my mouth. Teaching myself to ignore the warning signs that could lead to my throat closing up doesn't seem like a good idea. :-)

Lozenges are okay, albeit expensive. My favorite nicotine delivery system - although hard to find - is actually dissolving strips that stick to the roof of your mouth. (The only brand I've found thus far is NicoSpan.) Significantly cheaper the way I buy them, around five cents apiece compared to forty for the lozenges - I grab them on discount when they're near the expiration date. Only issue is that the supply is very irregular. (Speaking of which, I should probably order more now, since Amazon actually has a couple of boxes right now.)

It's not uncommon, actually - part of the issue is that you have to smoke them differently. (The draw is slower and softer.)

Replies from: wuncidunci, RomeoStevens
comment by wuncidunci · 2013-05-22T21:29:53.024Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you tried snuff? It smells quite nice and can help clear your nose as well as deliver nicotine.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-05-23T00:40:01.233Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I haven't. I did switch to a pipe, however, which works marvelously at delivering nicotine, in addition to smelling better, and carrying better social connotations. (Like snuff, it does carry a higher risk of oral cancer, but that's not -quite- as deadly.)

Replies from: wuncidunci
comment by wuncidunci · 2013-05-23T01:13:39.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note, according to my 30 seconds google scholar search, it is dipping/oral snuff that causes a higher risk of oral cancer. Nasal snuff seems safer (or perhaps less well researched).

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-09T01:19:52.287Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

have you tried e-cigs?

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-09T02:59:17.439Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trying really, really hard to train myself to like them. Sigh.

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-09T03:28:10.567Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just remember that you look like a character from a william gibson novel when you smoke them. I can't wait to smoke e-cigs while using an occulus rift.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2013-03-08T18:52:15.751Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

improved the quality of my life thus far

The main argument against smoking is that it will make you much less happy in the future, primarily via cancer.

Replies from: shminux, Dreaded_Anomaly, OrphanWilde
comment by shminux · 2013-03-08T19:20:19.689Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You also stink up the present. Smoke breath is a type of BO.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2013-03-11T01:56:57.953Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

primarily via cancer.

Also heart disease, stroke, and emphysema.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T19:13:04.857Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I discount that for several reasons - first, I'm not guaranteed to survive to that point. Second, lung cancer survival rates continue to improve (it's still a minority that survive, mind, but over my lifetime I expect that figure to improve still further). Third, lung cancer is a pretty predictable mode of death - in terms of cryogenics, my really long-term survival could be considerably improved over other, less predictable forms of death, such as heart attack or stroke.

Additionally, two cigarettes a day for 10 years produces only a marginal increase in health risk. In fact, you have to consume 5 pack-years (1 cigarettes a day for 20 years is a pack-year; the relationship is strictly linear with both respects, so 1 cigarette a day for 40 years is 2 pack-years, and 2 cigarettes a day for 10 years is 1 pack-year) before you start to see substantial health risks from smoking.

At present, I consume 1-3 cigarettes a day, and skip many days, and frequently skip weeks. (I am currently using them to try to train good behavior into myself.)

I will also add that smoking reduces my sinus response to allergens quite considerably, which has reduced the number of sinus and chest infections I get, as well as the severity when I get them. (This is apparently at odds with what most people experience, but it's been consistent my whole life - when my parents stopped smoking is approximately when I started having severe allergy problems.)

Replies from: CellBioGuy
comment by CellBioGuy · 2013-03-09T00:24:48.757Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nicotine does seem to activate a lot of the neurologically-controlled anti-inflammatory reflexes (while also indiscriminately poking at all the other autonomic reflexes that use the same neurotransmitters connected up to different fibers, thus the vasoconstriction and the like). Hence smokers not getting inflammitory bowel disease. I do think there are probably better methods of getting it in you than inhaling burned leaves, though perhaps not cheaper.

Replies from: lsparrish
comment by lsparrish · 2013-03-09T01:39:07.243Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I semi-regularly drink vaping nicotine (aka "e-liquid") diluted in water. It is extremely cheap. I obtained 60ml of 25mg/ml strength nicotine for $10 online. It comes diluted in either vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol. A cigarette delivers around 1mg, so I usually dilute to 1-2mg in a full glass of water. To get this dose I first use a 1mg dropper to deliver 2mg of the solution to 50ml (approx. 1/2 cup) of water measured with a Pyrex glassware measuring cup. I then use the 1ml dropper to add doses of this 1mg/ml solution to a glass of water.

At 60x25=1500 cigarette-equivalent doses with no need to inhale smoke, I think "inexpensive" is an understatement. It also appears to be safe (water, nicotine, and tiny amounts of VG or PG).

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-07T09:26:45.673Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The 80/20 rule is especially true for cleaning. Better to get it 80% clean twice as often than 99% clean half as often.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T13:08:44.881Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not to mention the fact that getting it 80% clean will take much less that 80/99 of the time it'll take to get it 99% clean.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T01:38:38.299Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My understanding of the 80/20 rule was "80% of the work takes 20% of the time", so this seems already covered?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T09:18:58.946Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, what was I thinking?

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-12T05:17:17.716Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eh, I do this too since optimizing for saying more obvious things. But on net it's been a big improvement and worth the occasional brain fart.

comment by Stabilizer · 2013-03-07T06:20:59.983Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't beat yourself up.

comment by Vaniver · 2013-03-07T23:30:32.958Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Stop doing stupid shit seems relevant.

To summarize: if you're good at something and it doesn't seem like it's taken serious effort to get to where you are, there's probably some low-hanging fruit that you haven't picked, because you haven't looked for it. Put a serious effect into improving and fixing your small, frequent mistakes.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur, None, therufs
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-08T09:52:58.272Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a meta-boring advice: Instead of looking for new cool things you could learn, do the boring work of fixing the mistakes you make.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-28T15:08:25.346Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Link doesn't work.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2013-09-28T17:05:08.143Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Updated to the web archive link; hat tip to KnaveOfAllTrades.

comment by therufs · 2013-03-11T23:42:23.764Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For ramblier inspiration, see also Stuck In The Middle With Bruce.

comment by lsparrish · 2013-03-07T06:30:38.647Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Take melatonin a half hour before your desired bedtime. Set an alarm on your phone so that you remember to take it at the exact same time every 24 hours. This gets you to bed at roughly the same time every night and establishes a steady 24 hour cycle, but requires almost no willpower expenditure since you are already awake and it's just a matter of taking a quick pill. Worked for me.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T10:49:01.114Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My upvote goes mostly to the "set an alarm on your phone" part. So boring; so useful!

Replies from: aelephant, brilee
comment by aelephant · 2013-03-07T13:33:59.926Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can confirm this. I set alarms for the most ridiculous things -- eg, "Umbrella" 5 minutes before I leave the office so I don't forget it.

comment by brilee · 2013-03-07T20:53:20.202Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Set double layers of alarms. I've turned off the first one and slept another two hours, way too many times!

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T01:01:00.596Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Get in the habit of not turning off alarms unless you're doing the thing you're supposed to do. This sounds impossible for some people I know. I used to be one of those people that would set 10 snoozes. But simply doing what the alarm says immediately IS a trainable skill. Every time you set the snooze you're reinforcing setting the snooze.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-08T01:48:10.735Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes! For example, if you have trouble getting up when you hear an alarm, you can repeatedly practice lying in bed and setting your alarm for one minute from now, then immediately getting up when you hear it.

Replies from: Xom
comment by Xom · 2013-03-11T22:03:53.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

While you're at it, you might as well practice getting up, getting dressed, making the bed, starting the kettle (or whatever you would do for breakfast), etc.

(Disclaimer: I haven't done this; I've only read about doing it.)

Replies from: Fhyve
comment by Fhyve · 2013-07-30T17:41:41.069Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might want to make the habit a bit shorter than that so that it is easier to practice and repeat a lot.

comment by wmorgan · 2013-03-11T22:03:32.833Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Always negotiate on salary, i.e. ask for more than their initial offer. Patrick McKenzie explains why.

comment by lsparrish · 2013-03-08T20:30:59.503Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Watch your internal monologue for two patterns: Hero stories where you are in the process of solving problems, and victim stories where you are incapable of solving problems. Attempt to reinterpret victimization stories into as-yet-unresolved heroic stories.

comment by tgb · 2013-03-08T16:46:52.744Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Get some decent winter clothes if you live in a climate where this is necessary. I can't tell you how many people I know at my college that have been going here for four years, complain about the weather, and don't own anything more than a sweatshirt to keep them warm. If it's windy, a raincoat can go over a fleece-style under layer and makes a huge difference. If it rains or snows, get some boots and maybe some wool socks. A hat and some gloves work wonders, too. Glove liners work nicely as light-weight gloves that can keep your hands warm when either driving or walking places but will get wet quickly if you put your hands in snow. There's no reason to be uncomfortably cold.

Replies from: RomeoStevens, None, OrphanWilde
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T21:08:24.813Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Long johns seem to be something that a lot of people who didn't grow up in the snow never think of. Standing around in freezing weather being cozy is awesome.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-09T14:04:34.466Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Conversely, sometimes people wear dark-coloured, tight-fitting, full-length clothes and then complain about the heat. I understand why in certain situation someone might not want to wear tank tops or shorts, especially if they (think they) are not very conventionally-attractive, but lighter colours, looser-fitting clothes would still help.

Combining the two, I've meet at least one person who would dress more or less the same way in January and July and complain both about the cold and about the heat.

EDIT: I meant “I understand” in a descriptive way (‘I think I know what's going on in their minds’), not in a normative way (‘ugly people had better please cover their bodies’). Body policing is evil and I'd rather not do that.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T21:32:07.122Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Look for the clothes somebody who has to work in the absolute worst of that weather buys.

Oilcloth dusters and hats are versatile all-weather gear, and available in tractor supply type stores. Australian cuts are the best I've encountered; since they're designed for airflow, they're appropriate for hot weather, and can be mixed with more typical winter underlayers to provide all-year protection.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2013-03-08T06:37:58.457Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Tips on giving a speech or presentation:

  • Practice your presentation several times out loud (if possible).
  • The first thing you should talk about after introducing yourself and your topic is why the audience should even care about your topic (and don't assume it's obvious).
  • If using a hand-held microphone, hold the microphone near your mouth, not in front of your chest.
  • If you're using a computer for slides or a demo, set it up ahead of time if possible.
Replies from: Viliam_Bur, buybuydandavis, therufs
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-08T10:16:41.696Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're using a computer for slides or a demo, set it up ahead of time if possible.

This. In my experience at least 50% of computer presentations started at least 15 minutes late because of some technical problems. But people always believe that the computers are the same everywhere, therefore nothing could go wrong. (Then they turn on the projector and see only a blue screen. Or the light bulb is burned out. Or a remote control is missing; or a cable. Or the presentation is in PDF and the computer can only run Powerpoint, or the other way round. Or it's a different version of Powerpoint. Or the computer does not recognize the memory stick in the USB port. Or, most importantly, something else.)

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-09T10:23:15.859Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or the presentation is in PDF and the computer can only run Powerpoint

Seriously??? I always save my presentations as PDF in order to be sure that they'll run on whichever computer I'll use -- is that not a reasonable assumption?

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-10T12:41:16.313Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Depends on how reasonable and computer-literate is the person who prepares the computer. I guess this improves over time; most of my data are like 10 years old. (I met people who didn't know that Internet is not the same thing as Explorer, or that companies other than Microsoft make software too.)

Probably the risk is lower if a person prepares the computer for presentations of many different people; and higher if it is usually for the same three or four people from the same organization. Lower if the organization is computer-related (university teaching computer science, IT company) and higher otherwise.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-12T13:13:11.867Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The first thing you should talk about after introducing yourself and your topic is why the audience should even care about your topic (and don't assume it's obvious).

This applies to posts as well. If you've got a long one, start by giving the reader a clear idea of where you're going and what his payoff will be. Motivate the reader.

comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T17:21:52.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are nervous about a presentation or performance, practice while standing on top of your bed. In a pinch, a picnic table or playground equipment will also do.

Replies from: therufs
comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T17:29:24.332Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are going to try to stand on a picnic table, check to see how and whether the top is attached to the base.

comment by curiousepic · 2013-03-07T15:48:20.495Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some previously posted boring advice about maintaining an exercise routine:

I was successful in keeping a strict (but light) exercise routine for a year. Here are the main things I think helped me form the habit:

  • Not worrying about quantifying, or optimizing. I would immediately get into the rabbit hole of analysis, when I knew that any exercise was much better than procrastinating until I found the perfect method. Once the habit is formed, then you can optimize it.
  • Reduce physical inconveniences to actually exercising. The thought of going to a gym immediately turns me off, so I knew it had to be at home. That meant obtaining equipment. To keep it simple, this consisted of a yoga mat and a resistance band.
  • Doing it right after waking up. I think this was vital to habit formation, as my mind wasn't very active, and it was easy to fall into routine. Only very rarely did I find myself considering not exercising.
  • Doing it every other day - not too often to get burnt out, and not too infrequently to form the habit. In order to keep a consistent sleep schedule and not have to wake up very early, I alternated morning routines - exercise days and shower days. My workouts weren't intense enough to necessitate a shower immediately after. Also, I worked it in with my intermittent fasting routine on non-exercise days.
  • Tracking it. Noting days that I exercised did give me a couple of achievement hedons. The effect diminished, but not before the habit was formed.
Replies from: RomeoStevens, None, OrphanWilde
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T00:46:30.500Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Once the habit is formed, then you can optimize it.

I think this is really important and not mentioned enough.

Replies from: bbleeker, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-09T19:40:16.431Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes; but beware even then. I had a simple weightlifting routine once upon a time. Then I decided to improve it: I'd start using different weights for different (and more varied) exercises, and recording them. Pretty soon, I'd given it up altogether. Now I'm thinking of starting the simple routine again (but it isn't optimal! waaah!), and even sell the bench that takes 15 seconds to adjust between different exercises, and just use the suboptimal stepping bench that takes 1-2 seconds to adjust.

And that reminds me. When I bought that stepping bench, I started using it right away, just stepping on and off, every day for 15 minutes or so. Then I bought a book about stepping. I was doing it all wrong; you had to use music, and it had to have a specific number of beats per minute, and you couldn't just step on and off, you had to use complicated (for me, most people would probably find them quite simple) patterns. No more stepping...

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-08T01:50:14.521Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, this is why I tried to install a habit of trying new things before optimizing exactly which things to try and how to try them.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T17:01:11.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Find a physical activity that you enjoy.
Replies from: OrphanWilde, curiousepic
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T20:08:42.877Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On this note, something I've discovered:

Jogging sucks when you're overweight. Jogging is awesome when you're already fit.

Try things again as you progress. You may find them considerably more pleasant.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T11:38:40.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the plus side, you can build massive arms and shoulders from simple push-ups when you are overweight. Don't need no gym, at least, if you like that sort of be-scared-of-me look. There is no way an obese, say, over 120 kg person could master the 100 push-ups challenge and not have brutal arms and shoulders. However, it will not be 7 weeks, more like a year.

This is really the primary silver lining obese people tend to forget. Just throwing that kind of body around, like playing tennis or going boxing, builds massive muscles. I tell obese people hardgainers probably already envy your calves. One of the hardest muscles to grow and poof you got it for free.

comment by curiousepic · 2013-03-09T04:21:31.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, in fact, weekly contra dancing is starting to replace my previous exercise routine!

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:28:46.600Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Find what works; if something doesn't work, find something else that does. If it stops working, immediately start looking for something else in turn.

I don't exercise at home because it's too easy to rationalize that I'll do it in five minutes, and never actually do it. Whereas if I go to the gym every day on my lunch hour, there's little room for procrastination.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T05:56:52.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Google it.

Replies from: Tem42
comment by Tem42 · 2015-08-12T00:12:03.084Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And always read multiple results, even if that means having to Google with a different search string.

comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T19:59:19.180Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In addition to optimizing boring things you use frequently you should optimize boring things you do frequently. You usually need to set a side a time to do this, rather than hope you remember to do it when doing a boring thing. On a related note beware reoccurring commitments. Remember, for less than a dollar a day you can waste 300 dollars a year.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2013-03-08T12:18:20.141Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Be helpful. I have built a significant network of useful people, and in many cases the relationship started from from me offering to do small favors - as small as helping put away chairs after a lecture - and striking up a conversation.

Addendum: while on occasion I use this technique consciously, there is some concern about seeming transparent (still don't let this stop you, especially with unique opportunities at stake). Best reward yourself for being a helpful guy/gal, make it part of your self image. As your status grows it will be quite natural to offer help to important people (I once got the nerve to offer help to a very rich mayor of a major US city, as I had something to offer. Nothing came of it, but still).

comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2013-05-13T02:38:14.053Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Learn how to remember people's names.

Of course you're horrible with names. That's because you haven't learned how to learn them. You evolved to know something like 100 names at a time, so your software needs an upgrade if you want to do more than that. Use the mnemonic technique called "linking" or "chaining". This video is cheesy, but it's exactly how I do it.

Calculate the VOI on giving this a try. If you go to conferences very often, or have lots of students, or live in a large city or something, it's probably really useful to you to be able to remember names. Especially given that you can google any name you manage to remember. And consider the psychological effects! A person's name is her favorite word, and knowing it is the password to her attention.

By the way, I'd be very interested to hear from any face blind people who have experimented with this.

ETA: This is also a fantastic party trick I use all the time.

Replies from: Sinal, DSimon
comment by Sinal · 2015-04-10T06:24:07.188Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Link for the video doesn't work

comment by DSimon · 2014-09-03T13:48:19.024Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seconded on that video, it's cheesy but very straightforward and informative.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-03-09T11:07:00.713Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Never take gossip at face value.

When you eventually hear the other person's side, don't take that at face value either.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T18:53:30.193Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A few random tips:

Reminded by the conversation about phone alarm clocks - if you have trouble getting up in the morning, schedule two alarms, one thirty minutes prior to when you want to get up, and the second when you actually want to get up. Set an energy drink or large cup of coffee next to your phone/alarm. When the first alarm goes off, drink the coffee/energy drink, and go back to sleep.

Invest in an automatic soap dispenser for dish soap. is what I use; it's refillable, adjustable, and accepts just about anything. (I previously used one of those dispensers with proprietary refills; they were expensive, dispensed too much soap, and when I drilled a hole in the top to refill it, it refused to dispense soap, although that may have been some kind of error on my part.) Makes a small but noticeable difference in the pleasantness of doing dishes.

Invest in good tools, and keep them in good repair; if it's a one-off task, get it used, but get it good. Exceptions - tools which are more work to maintain than they save you (I'm looking at you, paintbrushes); tools which are expected to be destroyed by the work done with them (as the roto-rooter guy put it, in his line of business, all gloves are disposable); and tools you intend to misuse (flathead screwdrivers in my house are disposable tools that get destroyed frequently). If a job seems ridiculously hard - if it takes you two hours to drill a hole in a 2x4 - you're not using the right tools. Get the right tools, or borrow them. (On that note, it should be obvious, but treat borrowed tools with respect and return them promptly.)

Sometimes the right way to do things is the wrong way. I eventually gave up on the concrete saw while cutting out a new basement window and just started smashing things with a sledgehammer. It was easier to repair the excess damage with some new concrete than to do the job right to begin with.

If you have no idea what you're doing, hire somebody who is willing to work with you for a few hours. I'm 10x better at carpentry since I hired a carpenter. (And one of the important things I learned was one I never would have learned on my own - namely, that sometimes the correct solution is to just hammer things in until they fit.)

On a continuation of the previous two, everything really is a nail at some point. Be prepared to use the tools you have. It's not a bias to put the resources at your disposal to their fullest use; it's only a bias to fail to consider acquiring new resources when the situation demands it.

Don't spent $100 to save yourself $10. This should be obvious, but the number of times I've done something like spend an hour trying to save a $.10 plumbing part rather than just destroying it and replacing it...

When getting rid of things, don't consider how you feel about getting rid of it, consider how you feel about not having it anymore. If you don't expect to regret it, don't think so hard about it.

When cleaning house, prioritize getting rid of those things without practical utility first. Even duplicate tools serve a purpose.

If you're one of those people who buys things they intend to resell, first resell what you have. Otherwise you're not being a shrewd businessperson, you're just shopping.

Keep basic maintenance items on hand. Expand your definition of basic. If your kitchen drain falls apart after your hardware store closes, are you going to be able to cook dinner?

Buy a couple sealed 5 gallon jugs of water and store them. Even the least-disaster-prone city can still have broken water mains.

On a preparedness note, if you live anywhere prone to blizzards, keep a stock of medical supplies. Keep more gauze than you think you'd ever need; wound dressings need to be changed frequently. Keep a bottle of iodine on hand as well; a useful all-purpose disinfectant with a decent shelf life (5-10 years).

Invest in a good set of locking pliers/vise grip pliers. These are some of the most useful tools you can keep in your home, and a lot of people don't even know they exist.

Replies from: TheOtherDave, NancyLebovitz, simplicio
comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-03-08T20:35:45.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

if you have trouble getting up in the morning, schedule two alarms [...]

Also, experiment with going to sleep earlier.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-11T14:58:57.059Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How is an automatic soap dispenser better for dish soap than a pump soap dispenser?

I agree that it's better to have soap in a container that you don't have to pick up and open every time you use it.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-11T15:42:32.344Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure that it is, having never used a pump dispenser, but one-handed operation -could- be an advantage, depending on the dispenser in question

comment by simplicio · 2013-03-11T22:21:10.044Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really love my daylight alarm clock. It costs about $150-200 but I feel it was worth it. YMMV.

comment by jooyous · 2013-03-08T06:41:08.305Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Map things:

  • Sanity check when you're using a maps-enabled device to get around. It might not be showing you the correct thing. Also, it might be showing you the correct thing, but you might be reading it wrong. (Well maybe not you, but definitely me.)
  • If you've moved to a new area, avoid using map services to get around and work on your own internal brain-map. You don't want to live somewhere for a year and be helpless without your phone.
Replies from: sixes_and_sevens, MixedNuts, None
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-08T11:24:40.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Related: buy a small and reliable compass. Not a compass app for your phone, but an actual compass. GPS, your own spatial awareness, and reasonable assumptions about geography can all let you down, but north is always north.

Edit: I will now ruin the punchiness of this comment with an explanatory edit. I do a lot of walking around a large city. Google Maps is fairly reliable but leaves much to be desired. Establishing GPS location, battery consumption and occasional out-and-out wrongness are common bugbears, so I started trying to navigate without it.

The biggest problem I found was orienting myself. Surfacing from a subway stop only to have no idea which direction was which, I'd sometimes fall back to GPS just to check what direction I was facing (which Google Maps is really bad at anyway. Anyone who's ever done that "let's walk ten metres in this direction to see what way I'm pointing" thing will know what I mean. I played around with some compass apps, which are just as much of a pain as Google Maps. Eventually I just gave in and bought a compass.

Replies from: wedrifid, nonplussed, handoflixue, jooyous
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-08T11:43:03.272Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Related: buy a small and reliable compass. Not a compass app for your phone, but an actual compass. GPS, your own spatial awareness, and reasonable assumptions about geography can all let you down, but north is always north.

Almost equivalent: Buy a lightweight and reliable spear. Not a speargun or an effective modern weapon, but an actual pointy stick. Guns, the rule of law, supermarkets and the reasonable assumptions that your geographic location contains no dangerous predators can all let you down. But a pointy stick is always a pointy stick.

Replies from: sixes_and_sevens
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-08T12:26:47.154Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is an unfair comparison, especially in light of the explanation given in the edit.

OP's point was that GPS can frequently be unreliable. In terms of navigating without it, basic orientation is typically enough to get you started, and "smart" substitutes for a compass are strictly inferior to an actual compass.

Replies from: wedrifid, handoflixue
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-08T12:31:49.659Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

especially in light of the explanation given in the edit.

The edit does indeed change things. If I was replying to the edited version rather than replying to the original version I would reply differently. But judging a reply because it does not apply to what is now a completely different comment is an error that I strongly discourage.

Almost all of the value of the advice comes from the two additional paragraphs. Even then I suggest it somewhat exaggerates the relative value of carrying a magnet. This distracts from the probably overall more valuable advice of doing an additional 15 minutes research when purchasing a GPS device in order to maximise reliability.

Replies from: sixes_and_sevens
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-08T12:36:22.659Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The edit came hot on the heels of the original comment. Based on comment timestamps it seemed likely that you'd read it.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-08T13:01:06.903Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The edit came hot on the heels of the original comment. Based on comment timestamps it seemed likely that you'd read it.

Welcome to the joys of race conditions. Even when you click the edit button the instant after you comment, for all the time spent writing the additional paragraphs anyone who loads the recent comments page sees the original. Then, for all the time they spent replying to your comment---and sometimes even replying to other recent comments on the same page load---they are not notified of any changes to your comment. So if either the edit takes a long time or the reply takes time, synchronization errors will frequently occur.

I sometimes realize that a comment of mine needs elaboration, or perhaps needs to be tempered somewhat with substantial argument rather than mere dismissal. In those cases where I expect the difference between the edit and the original to matter I often use a work around. I copy the text of the original then delete it. I then write the new 'edited' version and submit it as a fresh comment. (Corollary: If I fail to take such precautions I blame only myself!)

comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T23:22:00.944Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"smart" substitutes for a compass are strictly inferior to an actual compass.

I know my city layout, so I always know where North is. It might require walking (gasp!) as much as a block, but even that is ridiculously rare. Trust me, this is superior to a compass.

The big problem with a compass is that it is Yet Another Thing I Must Remember To Carry. If I use it regularly, forgetting it will probably suck since I don't have a backup. If I use it infrequently, why bother with the hassle of one more thing cluttering my purse? And what makes you think I'll remember to pack it on the days I do end up needing it?

Replies from: sixes_and_sevens
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-09T10:02:55.823Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you don't frequently experience navigational problems, clearly a compass is not a sensible investment.

I have to say, I've made questionable suggestions on LW in the past, but the tone of the responses to this one has been baffling.

Replies from: gwillen, handoflixue
comment by gwillen · 2013-07-25T03:16:01.947Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

People pattern-matched it to a curmudgeonly and irrational dislike for modern technology, because they have never tried actually using the magnetic sensor in a smartphone as a compass, so they aren't aware of just how unreliable those sensors are.

comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-11T18:12:13.803Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Apologies if my tone was overly critical or hostile. It was a cool suggestion, and I'm glad I heard it. I just don't think it's a practical suggestion for most people, given the other alternatives out there these days :)

comment by nonplussed · 2013-04-10T23:32:41.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Surprised no ones mentioned this, but what's wrong with a phone compass app? They don't use GPS, they are actually measuring the local magnetic field, and they don't delay whilst 'getting a lock' or anything. And it's not like they use much battery power.

Agree that a compass is superior to GPS for orientation, but I'm not seeing why it can't be an app.

Replies from: sixes_and_sevens
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-04-11T23:56:33.405Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) I don't trust the reliability of any of the compass apps I've tried. There's enough variance on them to make me doubt what they're telling me.

2) I generally want to be looking at Google Maps on my phone when I'm trying to orient myself.

comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T23:18:02.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

north is always north.

Most areas of most cities have fairly intuitive street layouts, if you learn them. If I'm in Northeast Portland, and I am on a numbered street, then I am either heading east (number gets bigger) or west (number gets smaller). If it is a named street, then I am either heading north (number gets bigger), or south (number gets smaller).

Most named streets do have numbers, but you can also go off the building numbers.

I don't know why it took me 25 years to really accept this, since I grew up being told about this, but most cities genuinely DO use a coordinate system, and learning it makes that sort of thing trivial :)

Replies from: Larks
comment by Larks · 2013-03-09T12:39:57.759Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most areas of most cities have fairly intuitive street layouts, if you learn them.

... in the US.

In Europe, they're intuitive only if you were born there or know a lot of history. (Of course South Parade is further north than North Parade!)

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-11T18:19:15.686Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fair, and thank you for calling me on it.

I get the impression that a majority of LessWrong readers are in major US cities, so I'm leaving it up as useful to them :)

comment by jooyous · 2013-03-08T19:31:25.056Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The biggest problem I found was orienting myself.

Yep, same here! One time I had a bus route displaying on my phone but I was facing the wrong way, so I got on the bus going the other way and didn't realize until the route ended in a sketchy area at 9 pm. I don't think I necessarily need a compass because I usually can orient myself if I stop and think, I'm just bad at it and don't like doing it for some reason, so I try to avoid it and don't ever get better.

Replies from: sixes_and_sevens
comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-08T22:06:53.052Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tend to find myself explicitly thinking "right...which way is north?", then beginning an elaborate round of detective work to figure out the answer. Being able to check my orientation as easily as checking the time is glorious.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-11T14:01:34.418Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Being able to check my orientation as easily as checking the time

Ironically enough, over the weekend I was searching for a more systematic way of using the sun to tell direction (besides moves east to west, and is in the south at midday (northern hemisphere)) and found this - Wikipedia: how to find north using an analog watch

comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-22T22:46:21.202Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you've moved to a new area, avoid using map services to get around and work on your own internal brain-map. You don't want to live somewhere for a year and be helpless without your phone.

If you're terrible at brain maps, learn a bunch of routes. If you're terrible at that too, carry paper maps.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-23T00:49:26.763Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you've moved to a new area, avoid using map services to get around and work on your own internal brain-map. You don't want to live somewhere for a year and be helpless without your phone.

Actually, I found that using sat navigators for a while improved my sense of direction rather than worsening it, so that, even when I'm not using a navigator, I'm way better now than I used to be before I owned a phone with a navigator.

Replies from: jooyous
comment by jooyous · 2013-03-23T02:23:05.075Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really, as you're walking/driving? That's really interesting! I noticed whenever I start hearing directions, my brain shuts off and starts taking directions. Even if I know where I'm going! Which is pretty frustrating when I have a passenger who starts describing what I know to be the wrong way to go.

Replies from: Nornagest
comment by Nornagest · 2014-09-03T20:53:24.192Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I use navigation services quite often (as much for traffic mitigation and ETA as for directions), but I never use voice guidance, even on long, unfamiliar trips. I think that offers the best of both worlds: you're never going to get seriously lost, but you still need to check your surroundings against the map frequently, which builds a mental map.

This may not be reliable if you're bad at multitasking or aren't very visual, though.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:36:02.447Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As per Yvain: Use amazon prime

As per me: Also use slickdeals, sign up for alerts for things you need but don't need right now. You can then safely forget about it until an email alerts you there is an excellent deal on one. I use this for things I need to buy intermittently such as supplements.

Don't forget to check retailmenot for coupon codes when buying online.

Replies from: someonewrongonthenet
comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-03-16T22:39:07.332Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't understand...the benefits he mentions are a result of Internet shopping in general.

How does Amazon prime, a $79/year deal for free two day shipping significantly improve upon this?

Also, if you are in school, Amazon Student lets you get the 2 day shipping free.

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-16T22:45:38.868Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cognitive load. Shopping for the best price online can be just as stressful and just as much a waste of time as shopping in real life. By contrast training yourself just to buy the first item that looks good enough will (TDT) save you lots and lots of money/time/stress in the long run. 2 Day shipping as opposed to variable shipping (and tracking your packages) means you can buy a lot more items without having to plan too far ahead. I can often go a day without something but can't go the possible 5-10 business days that many other places offer.

Amazon student is a good tip. anyone with access to a .edu email address can get it free for a time and half off after that.

comment by catherio · 2019-04-25T00:08:12.916Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you have ovaries/uterus, a non-zero interest in having kids with your own gametes, and you're at least 25 or so: Get a fertility consultation.

They do an ultrasound and a blood test to estimate your ovarian reserve. Until you either try to conceive or get other measurements, you don't know if you have normal fertility for your age, or if your fertility is already declining without knowing it.

This is important information to know, in order to make later informed decisions (such as when and whether to freeze your eggs, when to start looking for a child-raising partner, when you need to decide by before it's too late, etc.)

(I wrote more about this here: )

Replies from: Raemon, Elo
comment by Raemon · 2019-04-25T01:37:43.142Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(note that the link doesn't work for me, and I assume most people, which makes it seem a bit odd to include if you intended to keep it friends-only)

Replies from: catherio
comment by catherio · 2019-04-25T01:51:57.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nah, it's purely a formatting error - the trailing parenthesis was included in the link erroneously. Added whitespace to fix now.

comment by Elo · 2019-04-25T03:17:13.399Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also note. Consider donating eggs or sperm.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:26:24.134Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Requisite meta: Pay attention to boring things that people who have accomplished goals you want to accomplish do more.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-05-01T09:40:09.190Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whenever you need something for which just buying the popular version on amazon won't work, seek out the enthusiast forum for whatever it is you're trying to buy. They usually have a sticky that will flat out tell you what is considered a great cost/performance item by experts.

Disclaimer: you should not do this if you are the sort of person to fall down the rabbit hole of new enthusiasms.

Replies from: FiftyTwo
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-06-29T23:30:50.585Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternatively if there isn't a sticky the top scoring posts in the subreddit on the subject will probably give you good information.

comment by Yossarian · 2013-03-07T17:35:36.783Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In addition to making lists for "work," make one for things you want to watch, read, and/or play. You'll feel more productive and motivated even when taking a break from work.

Replies from: BlazeOrangeDeer, FiftyTwo, beoShaffer, Will_Newsome
comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2013-03-14T05:19:57.474Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

However, make sure that the things you put on your list are things you actually want to do. Otherwise it may take away from the effect.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T05:54:32.228Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Workflowy is good for this.

comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T19:33:29.425Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On a similar note using the Getting Things Done organizational system and/or the website remember the milk provides a good way to organize you lists.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2013-03-07T19:16:31.135Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just wondering, are you the RatWiki Yossarian?

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2013-03-07T06:07:45.617Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wash your hands before every meal.

Replies from: ChristianKl, None
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-03-07T22:45:34.775Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For what reason? Which concrete benefit do I get from following that advice?

Replies from: Xachariah
comment by Xachariah · 2013-03-08T01:04:07.536Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In a study of children in schools, setting up a 'handwashing event' 4x per day cut sick days in half. Another controlled study on hand sanitizer showed a 20% decrease in sick days.

Here's a replication on sanitizer showing 20% reduction in illness rate for college students.

Here's one in Pakistan where incidence of Pneumonia and Diarrhea in children were cut in half.

Here's one in China where intensive handwashing programs for child schools cut sickness by ~40%.

The short of it is 20% to 50% fewer contagious sicknesses, depending on your current habits (assuming what holds true for children or college students holds true for you).

Replies from: maia
comment by maia · 2013-03-08T21:43:29.481Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(assuming what holds true for children or college students holds true for you)

This seems like a pretty big assumption for many adults. Children and college students are likely in much closer quarters with many other people than a lot of office workers.

(I'm a college student, though, and will try to take this advice!)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T15:48:08.676Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Except when they come in direct contact with the food, isn't washing hands after going to the bathroom and before cooking enough?

Replies from: juliawise, Elithrion
comment by juliawise · 2013-03-10T02:56:54.518Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Notice how often you touch your lips and the area under your nose. For most people, it's pretty often.

Replies from: None, tut
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-10T12:26:04.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Then here's some more boring advice:

  • Learn to use eating utensils and napkin properly.

  • Avoid touching your face.

comment by tut · 2013-03-10T13:13:59.666Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is true. However, touching your face makes you look uncertain. So it is probably a good idea (as a simple social hack) to stop touching your face.

comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-07T19:33:22.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's probably better to just wash them anyway so you don't have to plan out whether you'll be touching bread and fruits or not.

comment by lsparrish · 2013-03-08T20:25:30.135Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Identify emotionally draining people in your circles and spend less time with them. Alternative: Identify and fix major sources of emotionally draining interactions in people you like to spend time with.

comment by Eneasz · 2013-03-07T19:09:42.253Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Get a credit card with no annual fee (preferably one with 1% cash back). Pay absolutely everything with card (only rent/mortgage, loan payments, and utilities should be paid in a different way, and that's only because they don't accept credit card). Pay it off in full once every month (the same date every month, and only once a month) before the due date so you never give the credit card company anything more than the actual cost of what you bought.

This makes it incredibly easy to track your finances. Rent/mortgage and loan payments are fixed. If you make a steady monthly wage you know exactly how much money you are getting every month and exactly how much you have left for all non-loan expenditures. That number should be at least $100 more than you pay to the credit card to pay off your past month of living every month.

When you bank more than usual in a month you feel awesome. When you have to pay more than you made in a month you realize immediately and can take quick steps to curtail it.

This also gives you real-world data as to what living costs, helping you to avoid the planning fallacy.

Replies from: beoShaffer, VAuroch, mare-of-night, Error
comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T19:31:46.892Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Using a debit card gives you most of the same benefits, but has slightly different costs. If your doing this it makes sense to research which one is best for you.

Replies from: William_Quixote, latanius
comment by William_Quixote · 2013-03-08T03:33:15.231Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In general, a credit card will be the better option.

1 cards are safer and more fraud resistant. A credit card company has to cancel a false charge if you tell them to, it's much harder to get a bank to give you money back to too up an account. 1.5 related to one, you want to not give your bank account number out more often than needed

2 more credit cards have benefits than debit cards do.

comment by latanius · 2013-03-07T20:28:37.334Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also consider Draws awesome graphs. (It only works for US bank accounts only though...)

comment by VAuroch · 2013-12-04T02:43:55.811Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Points against this: Money spent via card has much less immediate mental impact than spending cash. When you pay more thanyou make in a month, you realize it only at the end of the month. When you spend cash, you feel the impact on your finances directly.

The pattern I use, which I stumbled upon mainly by accident: For necessities, use a card (I use debit, but this is interchangeable with credit from this perspective). For luxuries, use cash. This insulates you from impulse purchases and has a short feedback loop discouraging you from spending too much.

Drawbacks: This doesn't work for online purchases and may hurt somewhat in that regard.

Replies from: Eneasz
comment by Eneasz · 2013-12-04T16:49:10.797Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interestingly, I've been using card and online banking for so long that I seem to have internalized "money is the number stored in the bank's computer/my mental register". Recently I came into a steady flow of cash (long story), and I didn't want to go to the bank every damn week to deposit it, so I started paying for groceries and restaurants with that cash. It felt like giving away play money and getting real goods and services in exchange. "You mean I can give you some colored paper slips, and you'll just give me $100 worth of groceries? It doesn't reduce the money I have in the bank? And I'm not going to jail for this?" It was weird.

comment by mare-of-night · 2014-08-12T01:36:21.356Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the US, can give you nice graphs of when and how you spend money, too.

comment by Error · 2013-03-11T20:01:23.959Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My partner and I manage our finances this way. It works excellently.

comment by Crux · 2013-03-07T06:40:01.932Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to forget to brush my teeth a lot, or even when I'd remember I'd shrug it off out of some sort of extreme level of laziness. Here's how I fixed it: I put my toothbrush in my shower. I brush my teeth in the shower. Saves time, makes it easier to remember, and it's less boring since I'm multitasking.

Replies from: RomeoStevens, jsalvatier, Elo, tadrinth
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T08:04:23.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Shaving in the shower is useful for me as well.

comment by jsalvatier · 2013-03-08T00:12:40.924Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Plus you get to spend more time in the shower!

comment by Elo · 2014-10-29T10:06:09.702Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE! Started doing this about a year ago. Have not looked back.

comment by tadrinth · 2013-03-08T05:20:33.939Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I finally started brushing regularly when I finally tried an electric toothbrush and began brushing immediately after I showered at night.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2013-03-08T04:01:42.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whenever you make an investment, try to begin capturing value from it as soon as possible after spending the money/time for it. Converse: if for some reason you cannot begin exploiting an investment until a certain date, delay purchasing it until that date.

(I learned this from playing the board game Agricola, where a common error mode is to use the "Expand House" action early on, but then delay the "Family Growth" action. The former action is an expensive prerequisite of the latter, which is the one that actually benefits your position. The smart move is to do Family Growth ASAP after Expand House.)

Replies from: kpreid
comment by kpreid · 2013-03-09T02:43:22.205Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

if for some reason you cannot begin exploiting an investment until a certain date, delay purchasing it until that date.

Note that this applies to entertainment and hobby purchases. Put the stuff on a wish list and let it sit, until you know you (will) have the spare time to enjoy it.

Replies from: Error
comment by Error · 2013-03-11T19:59:12.465Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Catch: Some entertainment items aren't available at a later date. For example, certain video games. (I'm looking at you, Atlus.)

Still good advice, just take into account future availability -- especially if you care about having it new and not used.

Replies from: kpreid
comment by kpreid · 2013-03-12T02:55:03.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some entertainment items aren't available at a later date.

Oh, good point. One natural (not artificially limited) case of this is: other players, and public servers, for online multiplayer games.

Replies from: Error
comment by Error · 2013-03-12T11:30:03.051Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's actually a much better example than mine. Journey, for example, is fantastic, but a large part of what makes it so will be lost when the playerbase shrinks and/or the servers shut down.

comment by Crux · 2013-03-07T06:45:41.550Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're trying to learn a foreign language, get a channel in that language and leave it on in the background, occasionally sitting down to watch for a few mins, for example while eating breakfast. Do this for a year. Improvement doesn't always have to take effort.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-03-08T12:13:04.193Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you spend a lot of time frustratedly explaining to people why you don't do some common social activity, consider giving in and just doing it.

There have been a few discussions on Less Wrong about how to explain to people why you don't drink. I eventually got so frustrated at having to verbally offset the mistrust I received through not drinking, I just went ahead and started drinking. It obviously depends on your social situation, but for me this amounts to maybe four glasses of wine a month, which is a ridiculously good trade-off.

Replies from: Emily, OrphanWilde, bbleeker
comment by Emily · 2013-03-10T14:41:32.138Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you find nicer friends? No one has ever been weird about the fact that I don't really drink. (If anyone tried to be weird about it, I think I would claim there was alcoholism in my family - there's not, as far as I know. And not be friends with them.)

Replies from: JDM
comment by JDM · 2013-05-23T21:11:47.587Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Without outright asking or commenting, people can still subconsciously judge, especially in certain situations or social groups.

For example, I am the president of my chapter of my fraternity. Some people interested don't drink. While for the most part people look past the not drinking, there are some activities or events where drinking is common. We have had some non-drinkers still enjoy themselves, but some have been scared away as a result of said activities.

I think an equal precursor to the idea of being judged for not drinking is how you handle being around others who are. If you can still enjoy yourself without the alcohol, in a lot of cases being judged for it is in your imagination. If you sit there awkwardly in the corner sober while everyone else is having a good time, the judgement is very real. It's just not entirely for the reason you think.

Replies from: Emily
comment by Emily · 2013-05-29T08:27:42.834Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you sit there awkwardly in the corner sober while everyone else is having a good time, the judgement is very real. It's just not entirely for the reason you think.

Yeah, not surprising. That doesn't sound like it adds fun for anyone. (I have been in that situation a few times, but never by choice.)

Replies from: JDM
comment by JDM · 2013-06-01T03:08:12.551Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wasn't the most social person when I started hanging out with the fraternity I ended up joining, so I did some of that at first, even when I did drink. It took some time to get out of my shell a little. I have since improved with that, indicated by the fact that I was voted to be president, with the main job of being the "face" of the house. I do my best to help people who are in that role become more involved, whether they choose to drink or not, because I was in a similar role my first year. Some people, and it does generally seem to be the non-drinkers, resist that, and they mostly end up not coming back. Drinking is far from all we do, but it's one of the ways we relax and get to know people, so people not being social to at least some extent do end up treated differently.

My recommendation if you don't drink and go to social situations where people do is to simply have a good time. Be social, smile, feel free to be a little animated, and you'll be alright. There are plenty of nights where people drink where I choose not to (often because I'm broke), and while some nights I will have alcohol handed to me because I don't have a cup in my hand, for the most part people don't know if I'm drinking or not. (Unless I do a 12 foot beer bong of wine. Then they can tell.) If you don't make things awkward, most people won't either, and the ones who do will be handled by others.

Replies from: Emily
comment by Emily · 2013-06-03T21:15:22.157Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure, that's my usual approach. Times when it hasn't gone like that have been times when I have very much not wanted to be wherever I was and for one reason or another been unable to escape. I think such a situation is more noticeable to others (and to the one experiencing it, perhaps...) when the person in question is sober than drunk!

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T15:49:36.113Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After putting polyurethane on the floor of a house, I had an -excellent- reason which few people questioned: After polyurethaning the floor, alchohol started tasting like polyurethane smelled. (To this day it still hasn't faded completely. I stopped drinking entirely for a long time there, and still can't do straight whiskey shots, which was my old standard. Went from tasting pretty good to... awful.) Takes about thirty seconds to explain, and most people accept it just based on the weirdness of the reason.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-09T20:01:25.604Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mistrust? Why would people mistrust you if you don't drink?

Replies from: DanArmak, None
comment by DanArmak · 2013-03-11T10:35:10.084Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a refusal to participate in ritualized social bonding, and that signals you aren't willing to relax around other people and don't consider them to be part of your social in-group. If you're not drinking, that may also mean you get to keep your guard up while everyone else is saying and doing silly or even forbidden things.

I can't drink because of my medications, and I always get teased about it. "Come on, just one shot is fine..."

Replies from: buybuydandavis, bbleeker
comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-12T12:59:11.774Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or it signals that you are comfortable asserting your own values in contradiction to a group. That's a very positive signal to me, but probably generally negative.

Replies from: BlazeOrangeDeer
comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2013-03-14T05:18:25.489Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or maybe they think that your non-drinking is not a value of yours, but a value of another group that you are choosing over theirs.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-11T19:04:31.681Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting. I knew people think that way in Japan (I was thinking about asking sixes_and_sevens if they were Japanese), but there, people don't mind if you actually do silly/forbidden things when you're drunk (or so I've heard).

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-11T13:31:39.305Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't speak for everybody, but I think this is the reason why I tend to dislike non-drinkers.

Replies from: bbleeker
comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-11T18:39:46.444Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh, you got a downvote for that? That wasn't me!

I probably should drink less myself, and I tend to think of non-drinkers as "sensible people who didn't like the taste of alcohol when they were teenagers and didn't give in to social pressure" (like my mother, my sister and my husband).

comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-07T19:53:09.170Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Building off of an earlier comment. Setting alarm(s) for anything you need to at/by a specific time increases the chance you will actually do them, while decreasing the amount of time you spend worrying about doing them. Corollary, this can make your watch/alarm clock/smartphone a single point of failure for a huge chunk of you life, so take good care of it and/or have a back up.

ETA: "worrying about"

Replies from: RomeoStevens, FiftyTwo
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T00:54:14.425Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This reminds me that I need a better alarm app so I don't have an ugh field about setting alarms.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T19:36:49.858Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

. Corollary, this can make your watch/alarm clock/smartphone a single point of failure for a huge chunk of you life,

Agreed, random anecdote: I once slept for literally 16 hours after my phone died overnight.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-09T02:05:39.266Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed, random anecdote: I once slept for literally 16 hours after my phone died overnight.

That suggests rather strongly that the sleep pattern you typically force on yourself isn't healthy!

comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) · 2013-05-01T00:22:53.696Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just posted this on my Facebook wall and realized it might belong in this thread:

If you think you spend too much time on Facebook but don't know what to do about it, try this: set the password to a long string of characters (say, 50 letters or numbers) which you need to manually copy every time, and log off when you finish your session. The daunting prospect of having to manually enter this information will discourage you from logging in unless you really desire it. I went from checking Facebook a dozen times per day to just one or two times. (Tip courtesy of Piers Steel, The Procrastination Equation.)

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-05-01T18:37:21.543Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

LeechBlock has an option to prevent you from accessing the settings until you retype a random 32-, 64-, or 128-character code. I think it's a brilliant idea.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-10T03:46:22.916Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta: Perhaps we should all pre-commit to rewarding people who say boring but true things, in general upvotes and/or social cache goes to people who say interesting things regardless of truth.

Replies from: Mestroyer
comment by Mestroyer · 2013-03-12T00:52:18.338Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Boring true things tend to be already known, and not as useful as true interesting things.

If it's boring enough, it is a waste of time to say. I think what people in this thread are looking for are true things that are not as interesting as normal, but not really really boring.


comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-03-09T10:51:02.837Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If what you are doing is not working, do something else.

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-07T16:16:34.697Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvote comments that you think are useful on LW in general, not just comments you found personally useful. (A note to myself as I read this thread).

Replies from: latanius, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by latanius · 2013-03-07T20:37:05.494Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As for this thread: wouldn't upvoting commens that you think are useful for someone else but not for you be actually an indirect case of other-optmizing?

Replies from: Matt_Simpson, Decius
comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-08T02:06:54.589Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think so.

comment by Decius · 2013-03-07T23:52:04.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

With the expectation that others would reciprocate by encouraging behavior that benefits you.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T17:11:13.341Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that depends on the current number of upvotes the comment has. I'll upvote comments with no upvotes that I personally found useful by way of thanks.

Replies from: Matt_Simpson
comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-07T17:18:11.773Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure, I'm just saying that personal usefulness shouldn't be the only reason you upvote.

comment by Yossarian · 2013-03-21T00:30:57.575Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Give people permission to bug you.

If you commit to doing or following up on something for somebody, tell them to bug you if you don't get back to them about it. You'll feel less stressed about remembering or being obligated to do it because you've shifted at least some of the responsibility to them and given yourself external pressure, which is ultimately more efficient than relying on your own willpower anyway.

Conversely, give yourself permission to bug people, though without judgment. You know how you feel when you have email in your inbox that you know you really ought to get to, but don't? Somebody is feeling that way about your email right now. How helpful would it be if they electronically tapped you on the shoulder as a reminder? More helpful than getting more and more resentful because they've forgotten/don't care/don't consider you valuable enough to bother replying.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-08T16:06:32.155Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Avoid weird people.

(Negation of #1 geek social fallacy.)

Of course this advice works only with some definitions of "weird", and I don't want to make it too long, but I feel it is very useful. The point is not to avoid anyone who is off-center in any Gauss curve, but to avoid specifically people who impose a huge cost on you and on people who associate with you, usually because of their serious lack of some social skill. Certainly, nobody is perfect, but don't commit the fallacy of grey.

Replies from: fubarobfusco, buybuydandavis, TheOtherDave
comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-03-11T00:22:39.162Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Weird" is too general here.

The advice on "Five Geek Social Fallacies" has to do with dealing with people who are not weird but rather unpleasant. The examples used are of people who are obnoxious, offensive, smell bad due to poor hygiene, or hassle newcomers. These have to do with behaviors (or lack of care) that are not distinguished by their eccentricity but by causing harm and aversion to others.

So, for the boring advice:

Distinguish harmless eccentricity from harmful eccentricity. You may travel in weird social circles, wherein you recognize that being weird doesn't make someone bad ... but just because someone is weird does not mean that they are nice, either.

(Weird social circles may also choose to exclude some behavior that is harmful but not weird. For instance, there is nothing weird about making jokes that hinge on gender stereotypes (e.g. "women are bad drivers" or "men are buffoons"); these are quite common and ordinary, found in mainstream sitcoms, stand-up comedy, and so on. But a weird social circle that cares about being welcoming to gender-nonconformists may want to say that gender stereotyping is not acceptable.)

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-12T13:22:36.203Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everyone head for the exits.

This site is full of weirdos by prevailing societal conventions.

I'd say instead to advertise what kind of person you are, so that you attract and repel the right kind of people.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-03-08T17:41:23.282Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I would only endorse this if it sorted under "Don't avoid otherwise-valuable people just because they are weird."

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-10T12:52:46.736Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

OK, second attempt:

Always remember that a company of weird people costs you your social capital. Make an estimate of costs and benefits. Multiply the costs by 10 to compensate for bias. Check again whether the benefits are real or imaginary, or could be obtained cheaper otherwise.

Note: The number 10 probably feels to big. For most weird people, the correct multiplier would be 2 or 3. But a few of them are black swans.

Replies from: TheOtherDave, None
comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-03-10T22:37:18.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with "Don't neglect the costs of weirdness."

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-11T13:20:27.653Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Always remember that a company of weird people costs you your social capital.

Not if the people in my social circle are themselves weird.

comment by PECOS-9 · 2013-03-07T06:36:33.871Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: OrphanWilde, None, bbleeker
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:39:15.359Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For those who hate flossing, consider investing in a waterpik or similar product. My breath went from persistently horrible to perpetually pleasant when I started using one.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T07:52:00.658Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Using antimicrobial mouthrinse is more efficacious.

"... in combination with toothbrushing, daily use of the tested mouthrinses may result in a higher interproximal plaque reduction than daily flossing."

Replies from: wedrifid, RomeoStevens
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-07T11:48:25.488Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Floss, brush and use an antimicrobial mouthwash".

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T08:06:41.778Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

this is contentious AFAIK, and flossing has more benefits than plaque reduction. It's better than nothing though.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-09T19:52:36.508Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I use interdental brushes to clean between my teeth. I find those much more pleasant, and I think they clean better too.

comment by TimS · 2013-03-07T14:33:23.845Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When starting a business, know your costs. The amount you need to earn (today / this week / this month) to break even is a number you should have essentially memorized. Beware ignoring so-called minor costs or failing to allocate costs to revenue sources.

AKA know your "nut".

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2013-03-07T07:44:58.019Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If there's a goal you're working on that looks like it's going to take a lot of time and effort to achieve, spend a good chunk of time thinking about much faster ways to accomplish the goal before taking the slow route. Quick fixes and shortcuts aren't always bad.

Try to think critically about everything, not just the things you and the people you know of habitually think critically about.

Don't ignore obvious, commonsense explanations in an effort to be interesting. Keep in mind that the world is a complicated place and there's lots you don't know. Apparently hedgehogs (people who make confident, frequently wrong predictions based on simple models) are more likely to get media attention (and, based on my observations, internet attention as well). So, as a corollary, if you're thinking something outrageous, that idea likely found its way to you because it's outrageous, not because it's accurate.

comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2013-05-13T00:09:24.352Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't wait until things are horrible before making them awesome.

Replies from: metatroll
comment by metatroll · 2013-06-24T08:38:19.067Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too late!

comment by Mestroyer · 2013-03-23T09:49:12.992Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're picking out a CPU or graphics card for a custom-built personal computer, ignore basically every number the manufacturer provides to quantify its performance, and go look at some benchmarks. Not because the numbers the manufacturers provide are inaccurate, but because there are so many factors that go into how good hardware is besides the those numbers, that you will never get as accurate an estimate from them as with direct measurement of the performance.

Also, make sure they are compatible with your motherboard.

comment by Stabilizer · 2013-03-11T19:04:41.906Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get worked up about jumping through administrative hoops such as filling forms, filing tax returns, sending applications. Especially don't go on a moral plane and say things like, 'I shouldn't have to do these things' or 'This is degrading'. It is much more easier to just do the work which cannot be reasonably argued with. Further, if you don't, you can stand to lose a lot. And not for interesting reasons. Think of it as one-boxing on Newcomb (though without the million dollars).

Replies from: simplicio, MixedNuts, wedrifid
comment by simplicio · 2013-03-11T22:13:49.069Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get worked up about jumping through administrative hoops such as filling forms, filing tax returns, sending applications.

Also, if you make a half-decent salary, ask yourself whether you ought to be doing it at all as opposed to delegating it to e.g., a tax professional.

Probably one of the most important rationality skills I have learned is to really internalize the principle "my time is worth something" and spend money on delegating tasks I find annoying or time-consuming.

Replies from: OrphanWilde, RomeoStevens
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-12T01:30:54.457Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tried delegating my taxes to a tax professional last year. It took -more- time, not less.

This year it could potentially save my time, because I already know my deductions are going to be pretty significant. (1/5th of my pretax income last year went towards a new roof. And I bought a new computer for work. And a bunch of other homeowner investments that AFAIK are deductible.) As opposed to last year when the "professional" ignored me when I told her my deductions wouldn't exceed the standard deduction, and insisted on going through mounds and mounds of paperwork and receipts, trying to get me $1 over the standard deduction. (I think we ended up about $50 short, and that was after some very... creative deductions.)

Be cautious with professionals who think they know more than you about your business, I guess.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-12T05:04:45.594Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, laundry, dishes, and cleaning. If you have potentially lucrative side projects going it can be stupid NOT to free up your time.

comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-22T23:06:38.134Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sounds a lot like "paperwork is a mild annoyance to me, therefore people who claim to find it painful are just being drama queens".

Replies from: Stabilizer
comment by Stabilizer · 2013-03-22T23:10:06.390Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. Paperwork has definitely been more than a mild annoyance to me and has cost me a lot in missed opportunities and money.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-22T23:13:28.258Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Then shouldn't you be including advice on how not to get worked up about it?

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-23T08:33:55.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Think of it as one-boxing on Newcomb (though without the million dollars).

That sounds a lot like losing.

comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-07T19:56:57.883Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although this may not be for everyone, I'd recommend listening to audiobooks. The main advantage is that you can easily listen to them while walking or taking public transport, while cooking, while exercising, etc., which I personally find makes these activities a lot less boring.

I've also found that my personal rate of reading is faster with audiobooks (using RockBox with an mp3 player to speed up playback to 3-3.5x) than with normal reading, at something like ~450 words/min or ~1.3 pages/min. Most of the speed increase comes from me being really slow at reading normally due to getting distracted, focusing too much on thinking through one part, or just forgetting to read quickly, but still.

Replies from: FiftyTwo, VAuroch, JDM, SherkanerUnderhill, Tenoke, wedrifid
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T19:29:37.151Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Podcasts as well, there's lots of good content and with an adjustable speed player (e.g. beyondpod) you can absorb it fast.

comment by VAuroch · 2013-12-04T02:06:27.652Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've found myself totally unable to focus on audiobooks/podcasts for any length of time except while walking. Any advice for me and others like me?

Replies from: Elithrion, tut
comment by Elithrion · 2013-12-05T05:13:07.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with tut that increasing speed might help. Sometimes if I listen at default speed, I find my attention drifting off mid-sentence just because it's going so slowly. (Conversely, at higher speed, when my attention does drift off briefly, I sometimes miss a full sentence or two and have to rewind slightly.)

If that doesn't work, I don't really have many other ideas. Maybe you could try other repetitive mechanical actions to see if they coexist well with audiobooks. For example, maybe cooking, drawing, or exercising might work (if you do any of those). In general, I find it easy to not miss anything in an audiobook so long as I'm simultaneously doing something that does not also involve words.

comment by tut · 2013-12-04T20:12:26.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1 Listen while walking (ie if it's the only time it works, and if you walk often, then just use the opportunity when you have it)

2 Try listening at a higher speed when doing simpler things

Replies from: VAuroch
comment by VAuroch · 2013-12-04T23:02:34.830Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't walk often; if I did it wouldn't be an issue. Also, I'm skeptical increased speed would help. If I'm not doing anything else while listening, my attention drifts away, which I don't think would be assisted by increasing the speed. The lack of related physical action is the main issue; I find it enormously difficult to not fidget away any focus I had.

Replies from: tut
comment by tut · 2013-12-05T15:09:51.866Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do you want to use audiobooks? The usual reason is so that you can learn or enjoy a good story while you are doing other stuff. If that's the case for you, then do that stuff and your lack of physical motion is solved. If you have another reason, have you considered taking up walking just to enjoy your audiobooks and for exercise? How about knitting? Woodcarving? Keeping ones body occupied is not an unexplored problem.

As for speeding up, I was a lot more sceptic that it would help me concentrate on videos before I tried it.

comment by JDM · 2013-05-23T22:06:56.760Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've found the opposite. I will occasionally listen to audiobooks while driving or working out, but even with accelerated audio I read 2-3 times faster than audio can do.

Also, reading allows control of the pace. Certain sections are denser than others, and with a book you can slow down through those parts without losing pace on the filler.

comment by SherkanerUnderhill · 2015-12-05T21:53:57.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have listened to audiobooks for about a 6 months. Recently I started to spend less time on audiobooks and more time on thinking. Not much evidence is gathered, by so far thinking while walking seems more useful for me.

comment by Tenoke · 2013-03-10T12:52:30.410Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You listen to them at 3-3.5x while doing other things? How do you increase the speed, do you only increase the tempo? Do you change the pitch at all?

Replies from: Elithrion
comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-10T19:34:59.734Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You listen to them at 3-3.5x while doing other things?

Yes, I find that that's about the current limit for me catching every word. I think it used to be a bit slower a year or two ago (~2.5x), but I'm not sure if maybe I just pushed less then. Mostly I have no trouble doing other non-group things while listening, except I can't do anything involving words (including daydream level thought chains) or anything overly mentally challenging (e.g. non-trivial math). (If I concentrate really really hard I can listen to something and read something at the same time while understanding both, especially at lower playback speeds, but I find myself unable to maintain this level of concentration for more than a few sentences.)

How do you increase the speed, do you only increase the tempo? Do you change the pitch at all?

Not sure I understand what you mean by "tempo" (as opposed to speed). On the computer, I use VLC, which increases playback speed without shifting pitch. Walking around, I use a Sansa Fuze (not +, and v2) with Rockbox firmware installed. Rockbox lets me go up to 250% playback speed without pitch shifting, and then requires +1% pitch for every additional 2.5% speed thereafter. I actually find VLC less clear than my mp3 player at high speeds, although not sure if that's because pitch increases helps comprehension or because my sound card is worse than the player or something (I guess I should test it some time).

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-07T20:04:59.588Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although this may not be for everyone, I'd recommend listening to audiobooks. The main advantage is that you can easily listen to them while walking or taking public transport, while cooking, while exercising, etc., which I personally find makes these activities a lot less boring.

I second your advice and am curious what sources of material you consume this way.

Replies from: Elithrion
comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-07T20:24:16.384Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mostly p2p sources, to be honest, supplemented with LibriVox for public domain titles. I'd like to be able to buy more, since there are a lot that just aren't available by other means (especially less popular or newer books on more serious topics), but my current budget doesn't really allow for it.

Replies from: FiftyTwo
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T19:28:46.350Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can take audible's free month then immediately cancel if that fits your morals.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-09T02:06:26.208Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can take audible's free month then immediately cancel if that fits your morals.

(And if it doesn't... fix your morals!)

comment by Prismattic · 2013-05-22T22:52:09.189Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was moved to post this by the fact that numerous LW participants apparently find the preparation and consumption of food to be such a huge imposition that they're willing to try rather radical interventions just to avoid cooking and eating. Assuming that such steps don't appeal, may I suggest some more mundane ones.

Write a weekly meal planner. This eliminates the extra cognitive load of having to think about "what am I going to make for lunch/dinner" on a rolling ad hoc basis. It also makes it more likely that your grocery shopping purchases will actually match your consumption needs.

To the extent possible, parcel the ingredients out by meal in your refrigerator as you stock it. This saves preparation time later.

I can't guarantee it will work for everyone, but I think a typical individual can save themselves both time and stress concentrating meal selection and the early stages of food preparation all at one time per week, rather than repeating the process on a daily basis.

Replies from: TheOtherDave
comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-05-23T01:07:35.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I absolutely endorse this. I don't bother with it anymore because I enjoy spontaneous cooking (and find it soothingly meditative much of the time), but during the first few months after my stroke when cooking (like everything else) was hard work, I found that organizing my food prep for the week (and cooking in large quantities, and sticking to minimal-prep techniques like roasting and crock-potting) saved me much-valued hours.

comment by jklsemicolon · 2013-03-07T21:56:48.317Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're good at something, do that thing.

(Obvious caveats apply.)

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, FiftyTwo
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T23:19:38.973Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So it's not obvious to me that this is a good idea. On the one hand, comparative advantage. On the other hand, fixed vs. growth mindset: you can change what you're good at, and this might be valuable. Aaron Swartz wrote a nice blog post about how restricting it is to be good at one thing because it feels like you shouldn't do other things that I can't currently find.

Replies from: jklsemicolon
comment by jklsemicolon · 2013-03-07T23:24:53.657Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes; "do that thing" should not be confused with "do only that thing".

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T19:30:52.953Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're good at something never do it for free.

The Joker

comment by [deleted] · 2014-03-22T22:27:15.430Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to have a lot of trouble getting up in the morning, and would frequently arrive to work or lecture at the last possible minute. The one change I made that had the largest impact, beyond strength of coffee or wake-up time, was to switch from showering after breakfast, near the end of my morning routine, to showering first thing when I get out of bed.

I now get out of bed, throw on my flip-flops, grab my stuff to shower, throw a pita in the toaster oven for 10 minutes to make a start on breakfast, fix coffee using the electric kettle, and shower. After showering, I put my contact lenses in. Then I fix up my breakfast sandwich (tomato, cucumber, slice of cheese in pita), toast it some more, and dress myself. Then I eat the food and drink the coffee while enjoying some morning web-browsing. Lastly, I brush my teeth, floss, rinse, pack my stuff, and get the hell out the door to work.

Showering is a blocking activity; when it came last, any slightest procrastination or oversleep got penalized in the last part of the morning routine: walking to work. Sometimes I wouldn't even get breakfast in; the whole thing became a self-destructive death-spiral of failing at basic responsibility and self-organization. By moving the blocking activities to be first in the routine, I now penalize the frivolous web-browsing when I need to penalize, and feel more refreshed earlier.

As a result, despite having no explicit requirement or incentive to be at work at any particular time (graduate student), and not even having a morning class this semester (afternoon lecture and tutorial only), I now regularly arrive to work around 9AM. This has made "racking up the hours" a lot easier, and raised my total productivity by a small but substantial amount that compounds each day.

TL;DR: Shower first in your morning routine.

comment by Donovanable · 2014-03-04T19:07:33.384Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After you get a haircut you like, ask your stylist to describe what ey did/what the style is, ideally in the vocabulary of the trade. For instance, my current style includes a face frame, long layers, and some other style words.

Write it down, stick the note in your wallet, forget about it until the next haircut. You get the benefit of repeating instructions as they would be described from one hairstylist to another and are less likely to fall victim to terrible cuts or the poor memory of your regular stylist.

As someone who is less productive with a bad haircut (I have to pin unruly lengths out of my eyes, etc), this has saved me time and confusion.

Replies from: MaximumLiberty
comment by MaximumLiberty · 2014-10-29T21:59:17.967Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After you get a haircut you like, get a friend to take a picture of you from all four sides (and top, I suppose) with your phone. In future haircuts, show it to the stylist.

comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-07T05:34:03.375Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In certain classes of cases*, the best way to find out answers to your questions is to ask them (rather than doing your own investigation).

Not sure if that's borderline punchy.

*For example, when trying to locate something while driving/walking around, when inquiring about poorly documented local activities, when your solution of some problem/research question may have one of many possible flaws (and thus you would need to look up each possible flaw to investigate it, while an expert may be able to spot the flaw immediately), when your quick google search fails to yield clear results, etcetera. Also see this comment.

[The starred things were edited in to improve specificity in response to comments.]

Replies from: wedrifid, FiftyTwo, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-07T11:46:30.415Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Usually the best way to find out answers to questions is to do a single google search. If present the search result that includes the domain "" usually gives decent answers quickly.

The parent would be greatly improved by replacing the 'usually' with a more representative frequency ("sometimes") or including a qualifier.

Replies from: Matt_Simpson, Elithrion
comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-07T16:14:42.477Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're right - and I think this is a common failure mode of the population at large, but my most common failure mode is not finding something in a quick google search then failing to just ask someone else who probably knows while either wasting too much time searching or giving up. At the risk of the typical mind fallacy, perhaps this is the most common failure mode of the average LW member as well. If the grandparent could somehow be changed to target people like me better, I think that would improve it the most.

comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-07T19:02:23.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, well, edited it to be a lot more specific at the cost of punchiness, which I suppose was pretty much the point.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T19:39:05.250Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Before devoting any time to personal investigation or asking others, google the question. This works even more often than you'd expect.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T06:05:05.590Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not sure if I understand the difference. Doing your own research is another kind of asking (e.g. asking the internet). Do you mean asking a domain expert?

Replies from: fubarobfusco
comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-03-07T07:02:21.134Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sometimes people are willing to spend hours privately researching something — in an intellectually unrewarding and tiring state of incomprehension — when by simply asking an appropriate friend, coworker, or forum they could get a clear and explanatory answer that would much better serve their needs. Scholarship is a virtue, but wasting time and energy is not.

In technical workplaces, this is especially a problem when people think they shouldn't ask for help, out of fear of admitting ignorance. Some folks will spend hours struggling with bad, inadequate, incorrect documentation and beating themselves up over it, for the sake of avoiding admitting to their coworker that they're not quite sure what the third argument to that function is supposed to be.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz, buybuydandavis
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-07T07:31:08.417Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Any suggestions for best forums for questions that don't have obvious places to ask? I've been happy with, but I haven't used it lately.

Replies from: ChristianKl, fubarobfusco
comment by ChristianKl · 2013-03-07T22:56:44.274Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If your answer fits any of the categories of Stackexchange that's usually a good place for a question.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-03-07T07:53:14.473Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reddit has a number of these, e.g. /r/askscience for general science explanations, /r/answers for "everything you ever wanted to know about anything but were afraid to ask." There are other specific Q&A subreddits for history, social science, and estimation of unusual quantities.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-03-07T09:16:11.516Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In technical workplaces, this is especially a problem when people think they shouldn't ask for help, out of fear of admitting ignorance.

This is probably the biggest waste of time in tech. Who knows what isn't identified and properly leveraged. People are punished for saving time by seeking direction of those who know better (they don't know their jobs), and those who know better aren't rewarded for the work they save others.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-07T21:06:00.522Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the other hand, you also have the problem of people who will ask questions that could be answered in a 1-minute Google search or by reading the documentation, thus breaking the flow of the senior programmer and wasting 30 minutes of their time.

It does go both ways.

My personal policy is to spend 5-10 minutes searching if I'd be interrupting someone's concentration.

comment by Stabilizer · 2013-04-05T23:35:13.619Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Before heading to the gym for a workout, plan out your workout in detail (what exercises, in what order, how many sets, how many reps) and preferably carry a piece of paper with the workout written on it. This leads you to getting more done in less time. But more importantly, this prevents decision fatigue from draining your willpower; and you need willpower in large quantities to finish your workout.

Replies from: FiftyTwo
comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-06-29T23:31:58.559Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Apps like fitocracy allow you to copy/paste workouts to make this easier

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:56:47.909Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Bring your coat - but don't wear it. Being cold burns calories and improves circulation.

On that note, does anybody have any boring advice for cold-weather exercise? I can jog in 110 degree, 100% humidity weather, no problem. I grew up in the swampy parts of Texas. Heat and humidity are no problem for me. But jogging in cold weather - < 60 Fahrenheit - is killer; my throat feels like I'm swallowing jagged chunks of ice.

Replies from: AlexSchell, Decius, Dues
comment by AlexSchell · 2013-03-08T00:00:45.361Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re: jogging in cold weather -- throw in some nasal breathing (~10-15% of breaths) and take periodic short breaks during which you just walk (every 1 mile or so).

comment by Decius · 2013-03-07T23:45:39.195Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Breathe primarily in and out of your nose; anecdotally that helps keep your lungs from drying out due to the low dewpoint. Also, drink enough water to pass clear urine four times a day to recover moisture loss (also due to low dewpoint)

comment by Dues · 2017-09-14T03:49:02.054Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Put a scarf or neck warmer over your mouth. Your throat will thank you. If that's too warm, you can use one of those little medical masks or chew a piece of gum.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T06:48:43.715Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are feeling just a little sick, do not go to work. Apply for sick leave and stay home. Not only will you recover more quickly by getting more rest, you also protect your colleagues from getting infected.

Replies from: Desrtopa
comment by Desrtopa · 2013-03-07T15:08:43.165Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the usefulness of this advice depends on the person receiving it. For some people, this translates to

"If you can muster up even a little excuse not to go to work, don't go."

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-03-08T00:25:36.155Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If they are adult about whether they would rather attend work reliably and receive the benefits which do accrue or not, it remains good advice even if they discount future paychecks more than skiving today.

Granted, that group has some confusing personal issues and probably inconsistent values.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T06:41:50.914Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Start saving extra money while you are young.

Replies from: RomeoStevens, None
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:16:44.200Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disagree with this one if you mean in the sense that "compound interest will make you rich!" meme. If you mean in terms of having emergency funds and or saving for shorter term freedom (being able to quit your 9-5 temporarily if an opportunity you want to pursue comes up) I agree.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur, MileyCyrus
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T10:46:43.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe the saved money itself during youth is not as important as starting a good habit. Then when you start making decent money, you already have a habit of saving them, and you are already familiar with how it works (you don't have an "ugh" field about money and saving).

Replies from: RomeoStevens, None
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T10:56:05.921Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

strongly agree. I get a lot of mileage out of the rule of thumb "keep your lifestyle expenses a pay raise or two behind you."

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T13:00:49.373Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree -- though there have been times when I was more frugal than in retrospect I wish I had been.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2013-03-07T14:36:47.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's the problem with the "compound interest will make you rich" meme? Is it inflation?

Replies from: Swimmy, tut
comment by Swimmy · 2013-03-07T18:27:34.977Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Compound interest gains most of its power when large amounts have been saved. So if you don't make much money, compound interest simply won't make you rich, you won't be able to save enough (though you can still have a decent retirement). If you make a lot, it doesn't matter as much anyway. If you're middle class and willing to save half your income, then it might make you rich, but that is a painful 30-40 years. Explore the graphs and savings calculator here for examples of what you would need to do to have a million by 60.

comment by tut · 2013-03-07T15:29:51.063Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mostly that life is too short and interest too low for that to really happen before you die.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T13:01:57.479Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that meme originated in a time when interest rates were a lot higher than today.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T13:02:24.870Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have seen people argue for the reverse, on the grounds that the money you'll save while in your n-th job (for small n at least) will likely be negligible compared to the money you'll make when in your (n + 1)-th (or is it (n + 1)-st?) job.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T17:30:20.822Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This worked for me before I was 30; later my income stopped raising quickly. I admit this could be because I made a few stupid choices. But I think that for most people their incomes stop raising rapidly at some age.

Is there a rule of thumb which would work well for both situations? For example "always save x% of what you made N years ago"? ... Oops, that is exactly the opposite of what this article suggests. A smart seeming advice, which no one would ever use in their real life.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T09:18:10.259Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had taken “young” in Trevor_Blake's comment to mean “in your twenties”.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-08T10:10:15.848Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Then I agree. I just didn't see that word used in your response, so I misunderstood it to be without time limits.

(By the way, most people seem to use the word "young" meaning "age <= my_age" or later "age < my_age". Just ask a teenager whether twenties is young or old. Then ask a 50 years old person whether thirties were young or old. So an advice based on "while you are young" has very high potential to be misunderstood.)

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-08T12:58:45.759Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Then I agree. I just didn't see that word used in your response, so I misunderstood it to be without time limits.

(That was what the “for small n at least” part was for.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T18:00:14.415Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: ThrustVectoring, OrphanWilde
comment by ThrustVectoring · 2013-03-07T18:42:55.166Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Getting a bidet is better as far as pampering your sensitive regions goes. Especially if you easily get hemorrhoids.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:27:11.905Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wipe back to front, rather than front to back. Yes, it's more awkward. It's also more effective and requires less toilet paper, and fewer strokes.

Replies from: handoflixue, maia, wedrifid
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-07T20:46:22.269Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted: This is potentially harmful advice if you have a vagina.

The majority of cases of cystitis or urethritis are from E. coli, the normal flora that lives in your gastrointestinal tract. This helps you digest your food, but if you wipe from back to front you risk smearing it to your urethral meatus (pee hole). Then the bacteria get into a sterile environment [your pee hole] and cause a UTI. This was traditionally taught in medical school to be "Honeymoon cystitis" as many women would get UTIs after their vigorous honeymoon weekend and come back with this normal infection. Maybe we see less of this these days with premarital sex and living together.


Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-03-07T22:12:23.229Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And the rest of the article says that there is no conclusive evidence either way.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-07T22:21:50.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That feels a bit mis-representatative: There's no conclusive evidence, but there is weak evidence in favor.

The first doctor says it doesn't matter, the second says it does, and the three linked studies say (mildly harmful, no effect, no effect), with small sample sizes. The first doctor also explicitly states that he'd still wipe front-to-back if he were female!

I'd call that weak evidence towards harm, i.e. this is potentially harmful advice.

comment by maia · 2013-03-07T19:53:58.108Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm told this is unhygienic, because there are bacteria that you don't want to move from back to front. This may only apply to females, though.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-07T19:36:20.837Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wipe back to front, rather than front to back. Yes, it's more awkward. It's also more effective and requires less toilet paper, and fewer strokes.

I'm boggling. There are people who wipe front to back? That never even occurred to me. (And so) imagining that way now seems more awkward, not less.

Replies from: handoflixue, OrphanWilde, FiftyTwo
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-07T20:47:15.504Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Like maia said, females get told this is unhygienic. Not the first time I've seen advice-specific-to-one-gender generalized to another, especially since OrphanWilde is generalizing the other way in recommending back-to-front :)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:44:15.772Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm honestly not sure what percentage of the population does what. It's one of those pieces of information that gets completely uncommunicated in our culture. tempted to start a poll... but no.

Replies from: satt
comment by satt · 2013-03-07T22:59:33.859Z · LW(p) · GW(p) tempted to start a poll... but no.

Maybe we could ask Andrex to run one!

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-08T19:35:13.452Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think I wipe in any consistent direction or pattern. But now I will be very self conscious next time I do so,

comment by lsparrish · 2013-03-07T06:01:08.897Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can get soluble fiber (for example, dextrin, which is long indigestible chains of glucose) from the store. So if you aren't eating enough fiber due to how inconvenient vegetables are, you can start with this. It will make you thirstier, less hungry, and more regular. It also seems to improve blood sugar levels. The popular brand for dextrin is Benefiber, however I have only tried WinCo's version, Qualifiber. I paid $5 for 38 servings of 3.5 grams, which are 1/3 a daily supply at full strength.

Note: Fiber intake should be increased gradually, and with plenty of water.

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:18:02.235Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

AFAIK, the evidence that fiber is good for you independent of increased fruit and vegetable intake is poor.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:42:05.047Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whether or not it's good for me in and of itself, adding fiber to my protein shakes eliminated the desire to snack. Although it definitely decreased my desire to consume the protein shakes, as well... I'm currently rewarding myself with a cigarette each time I drink one to try to train myself.

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T20:40:21.794Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

ah I hadn't taken satiety into consideration. It is indeed useful for this, and there doesn't seem to be any detrimental health effects.

comment by taryneast · 2015-01-06T22:41:33.585Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Budget some money each month towards substantially improving your life.

Look for the best, lowest hanging fruit (ie objects, classes and experiences that will have the most impact per dollar spent)

Ask others to recommend things - so you don't just think of the things you already know about.

Note: I've set up a page to collect these ideas here:

comment by Rukifellth · 2013-10-04T17:17:12.244Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Read literature with an old writing style, especially if you dislike said writing style. The more opaque and complicated, the better.

I find that I'm a very fidgety reader, unconsciously skipping words, or even whole sentences, skimming over words I don't actually know the meaning of, and failing to connect the context of words that I do know the meaning of with the rest of the narrative or lecture. This I do with both literature and more importantly, when reading science. I've decided to read At The Mountains of Madness and penalize myself for every time I lose track of the narrative, and reward myself for every time I recognize when one sentence adds or contributes to something implied by another sentence earlier on in the paragraph, and so on. Furthermore, I will do this for only literature, and not with learning new scientific concepts, or even old ones that I have already learned. The problem is with reading comprehension, not with understanding concepts, and exercising two skills at once prematurely may cause problems. I hope this will instill genuine patience, so that being careful and observant becomes a natural thing, rather than the uncomfortable thing I wrestle with.

Replies from: glennonymous, None
comment by glennonymous · 2015-08-12T16:13:24.835Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Proust's In Search of Lost Time, with its famously long and complicated sentences that often take four or five reads to parse, is great for this. As a bonus, it's Great.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-30T13:06:07.554Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...and sometimes, those old books will surprise you in a good way. I'm struggling through W. Scott's 'Waverley', and there's a Lady who was in danger from a hidden Enemy. Unfortunately, even though he is known to the Good Guy, accusing him of ill intent is politically unwise, so the Good Guy conceals himself and 'stalks' the Lady as a peasant, ... She is bewildered, but doesn't tell anyone because they would think her given to fancy. He saves her life as a forester, and she sees divine intervention in this and prepares to enter a convent. (She is thought to lose her mind when she tells her observations.) He then reveals himself, she UPDATES her beliefs and they [probably] marry. A Bayesian happy end! How cool is that?

comment by Benya (Benja) · 2013-08-31T12:11:40.979Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a pedestrian or cyclist, you're not all that easy to see from a car at night, worse if you don't wear white. High-visibility vests (that thing that construction workers wear, yellow or orange with reflective stripes) fix the problem and cost around $7-$8 from Amazon including shipping, or £3 in the UK.

Replies from: 4hodmt
comment by 4hodmt · 2015-10-14T20:08:55.887Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Less than £2 on eBay. I bought mine for 99p including postage, but I can't find any for that price now.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-09T16:08:09.276Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get arrested.

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2013-03-23T00:31:28.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

IMO this sentence is too general to constitute useful advice. It's like saying, "don't get killed". Well, yeah, that's a good idea, but how do you actually implement it into practice ?

Replies from: RomeoStevens, Larks
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-05-01T09:38:06.174Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try very hard to avoid doing two illegal things at the same time (and if you go to 3 you're just asking for it). This is one of the biggest ways people get caught.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-23T01:16:36.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Avoid committing crimes, especially near police. I think the people already know this though.

Replies from: Bugmaster, None
comment by Bugmaster · 2013-03-25T06:22:12.599Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In most countries, including the USA, it is prohibitively difficult to completely avoid committing crimes. For example, you commit a crime whenever you:

  • Drive over the speed limit
  • Sing "Happy Birthday" to someone
  • Watch a movie at home with friends (depending on the media)
  • Make off-color jokes in public
  • Drink alcohol (depending on location)
  • Post certain kinds of jokes on Twitter
  • Create software of almost any kind

Most of the laws that define such actions as crimes are rarely enforced here in the USA -- until you happen to draw an attention of some moderately powerful person or entity, at which point the enforcement kicks in. However, it would be difficult (though not, I suppose, impossible) to lead a normal life without committing any such minor crimes.

Replies from: asparisi
comment by asparisi · 2013-04-16T16:46:03.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Technical note: some of these are Torts, not Crimes. (Singing Happy Birthday, Watching a Movie, or making an Off-Color Joke are not crimes, barring special circumstances, but they may well be Torts.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-23T18:10:19.425Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd remove the comma and “especially”. Why the hell would I refrain from (say) infringing copyright if I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting caught? (unless I thought infringing copyright was bad in itself -- but in that case I wouldn't need to be told to avoid doing that)

Replies from: Larks
comment by Larks · 2013-03-23T18:56:46.191Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many people get arrested for committing crimes not in the immediate proximity of police. While obviously we can complicate the advice to an arbitrarily with epicycles to deal with edge cases, I think simple advice is best. If you know enough to construct edge cases you don't need to ask questions like "how does one avoid getting arrested?" in the first place.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-03-09T10:55:26.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get involved with crazy people.

Replies from: fubarobfusco, MixedNuts
comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-03-12T01:26:30.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get in a committed relationship with someone who is cheating on their current partner(s) to be with you.

(I learned this one from Tom Sawyer.)

comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-22T23:01:49.502Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're crazy, prefer getting involved with crazy people and sane people who know how to deal with your kind of crazy to getting involved with well-meaning but naive sane people. And don't get involved with people who don't want to get involved with crazy people, even if you can fake long enough to fool them.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-23T18:23:02.260Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Crazy/sane in terms of literal psychiatric health, of rationality, or of conformism?

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-23T20:22:05.804Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I meant the first, but I suppose it applies to the other two. I don't actually know which kind "Don't stick your dick in crazy" is meant to apply to.

comment by Crux · 2013-03-07T06:33:11.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you have trouble getting into an exercise routine, try this. Join a gym, and go every single day and do the same exact thing every time. For a lot of people, doing something every day is a lot easier than coming up with a schedule that changes depending on the day, especially if one of the changes is 'do nothing on Sunday' (recipe for doing nothing on Monday too, and then forgetting about the whole thing).

What I do is this. I wake up to my alarm, and then I immediately go eat a light breakfast, and then head to the gym. Once at the gym I stretch for like 5 mins, run on the treadmill for 5-10 mins, do a couple sets of military press or something, and then go to the sauna. Hits all the major pieces. Flexibility, cardio, lymph movement, resistance training, sweating, etc. Once I finish at the sauna, I take a shower, put on fresh clothes, and then start my day. I essentially use the gym as my 'morning routine'. I'm not ready for anything until I put on fresh clothes after my (quick) workout.

Replies from: RomeoStevens, Viliam_Bur
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:21:51.425Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As per user Wedrifid you can try sucking on a nicotine lozenge while you do the exercise.

Replies from: Matt_Simpson, OrphanWilde
comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-07T16:18:47.829Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This honestly made me smile in a "man do I love LW" sort of way.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:40:22.533Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I started that this month, actually. I don't know if it's because I'm excited about the experiment, or because the experiment is working, or just plain placebo, but I'm a lot more revved up to go work out.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-03-07T11:04:00.169Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even if you exercise at home, do the same exact thing every time. (Deciding what exercise you want to make, and how much you want to make, already consumes willpower.)

comment by sumguysr · 2015-02-27T02:21:42.152Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you routinely lose things behind the same piece of furniture either move it closer to the wall or block that space, or move it further from the wall to make retrieval easier.

comment by Error · 2014-01-20T16:21:46.032Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(By request)

Shower-drying optimization:

Leave the bathroom door open and the shower curtain partway pulled so humidity doesn't collect in the room. Have an oversized bath sheet in reach (you can get good ones at Costco). When you're done showering, towel-dry hair, then the rest of you, then comb your hair so it doesn't stick. Without humidity in the room, you don't keep sweating so you don't feel clammy. You can get dressed immediately if you're pressed for time. If you're like me and hate putting dry clothes on damp skin, find something you can do for ~15 minutes while you air-dry the rest of the way (making/eating breakfast is good for this, since you probably have to do it anyway).

comment by TsviBT · 2013-03-07T21:47:51.775Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Fat free) yogurt is cheap, tasty, healthy, lasts a long time in the fridge, and requires no preparation and only one utensil.

In addition to budgeting time, budget mental energy. Cooking may take a bit of time, but it doesn't take much mental energy once you've done it a few times. If you have a bunch of chores to do, don't batch them up completely; batch them into chunks and use those chunks as mental breaks. Just because cleaning isn't fun, doesn't mean it is as mentally draining as learning mathematics. (Too punchy?)

Replies from: AlexSchell, Randy_M
comment by AlexSchell · 2013-03-07T23:54:40.689Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How, if at all, does fatty yogurt differ?

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T00:52:32.087Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

the fat contains the fat soluble vitamins.

Replies from: bbleeker
comment by bbleeker · 2013-03-09T22:25:29.514Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ànd it's tastier, too (IMO, of course).

comment by Randy_M · 2013-03-07T23:18:19.983Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Health benefits a bit mixed, but it does make a quick breakfast.

Replies from: TsviBT
comment by TsviBT · 2013-03-07T23:29:06.135Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you be more specific? I didn't do any research, it's just low sodium, high protein, high potassium.

Replies from: Randy_M
comment by Randy_M · 2013-03-08T17:06:41.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Often times low fat is compensated by high sugar, and some argue that the saturated dairy fat isn't as bad for you as it is made out to be. I'd go for full fat yogurt with some nuts and berries thrown on top, but I understand the paleo view of sat fat is counter-establishment.

Replies from: pinyaka
comment by pinyaka · 2013-03-11T01:55:54.046Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd go for full fat yogurt with some nuts and berries thrown on top,

This is an excellent dessert.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2015-01-09T02:42:04.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Invest at least 10% of your after-tax income, each month, in a Vanguard index fund. Do not buy individual stocks, nor any actively managed index fund, nor any fund with an expense ratio over 0.5%. If you absolutely must pick stocks, and I admit that I am not blind to the attraction, use a fee-free broker such as Loyal3, and don't count this towards your 10% - use play money for active investing.

If you are looking at your latest paycheck and finding it hard to see where you're going to cut to be able to put 10% into investments, precommit now to starting this program after your next income increase; also, start with 1% instead. If you cannot free up even 1% of your income, you have a major problem, which you need to fix. (Incidentally, if you can do 20%, do that.)

If your employer has a 401K match, for the love of all that's holy, contribute enough to max out the match! That's free money, that is!

If you have several old 401Ks, roll them over into an IRA with Vanguard. It'll be easier to keep track of your money, you'll likely pay lower fees, and IRA money is more accessible than 401K money.

Maintain a savings account with at least three months' expenses in it; six is better; twelve is probably too much - at that point you're losing more in growth than you're gaining from being able to ride out a job loss. But people do differ in how they feel about risk; by all means make it twelve if you'd be happier that way.

If you have recurring credit-card debt (not paid off at the end of each period), pay that down before starting on investing. And for dog's sake do so right now, that stuff is poison. Consider Lending Club or other peer-to-peer lending services, it is fairly likely that you can get a better rate than your credit card gives you.

comment by James_Miller · 2013-04-11T02:13:16.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Call your cable company to try to negotiate a better rate.

Replies from: CarlShulman
comment by CarlShulman · 2013-05-19T06:42:37.964Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which works better if you a) check out the competition from the phone company to get a competing offer or b) call the "cancel my service line" which is empowered to give extra deals. Here is a random article with some further tips along these lines.

comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-26T22:14:15.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want to stop taking prescription meds and they're cheap enough, keep buying them and stockpile.

(Source: Burninate)

Replies from: wedrifid, wallowinmaya
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-26T22:39:03.136Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want to stop taking prescription meds and they're cheap enough, keep buying them and stockpile.


Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2013-03-26T22:59:21.237Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you can sell them on Silk Road?

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-27T07:58:52.666Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was thinking in case you need them again, to avoid the cost of convincing a doctor to prescribe them anew, but that too.

comment by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) · 2013-03-28T13:58:17.138Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or ask for a higher dosage than you need, split the pills in half and stockpile.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-28T16:42:06.158Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Make sure the pills can be split, if you do that.

Replies from: wallowinmaya
comment by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) · 2013-03-28T19:31:36.929Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Every pill can be split. Use your teeth or a knife if necessary ;) In the case of capsules filled with powder the procedure will be a bit more annoying, but still manageable.

Of course, these methods could lead to an increased rate of absorption, so be cautious.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-28T22:57:27.904Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If a pill isn't designed to be split, it means the manufacturer thinks it's unsafe to split. The manufacturer has expertise you should usually defer to.

In particular, don't split bupropion unless you want a seizure.

Replies from: wallowinmaya
comment by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) · 2013-03-28T23:24:05.661Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Life is dangerous. Of course you should search the internet before you try something new.

Funny, you should mention bupropion. I actually prefer splitting bupropion pills and chewing them a bit since the faster absorption-rate and thereby shorter action time allows me to sleep better. However, I only take 150mg.

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-03-29T15:05:49.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p) tips or links on that? I'm thinking of doing that on top of my usual extended release intake, possibly in combination with other occasional-use meds such as alcohol.

Replies from: wallowinmaya
comment by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) · 2013-03-31T20:24:24.457Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know, I just bite them approximately in half and chew them...

Replies from: MixedNuts
comment by MixedNuts · 2013-04-15T12:04:31.478Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Important info you didn't mention: the thing tastes bitter and horrendous.

Replies from: wallowinmaya
comment by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) · 2013-04-15T15:54:07.709Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh yeah, sorry about that. I guess my gustatory sense isn't that sensitive anymore ;)

comment by therufs · 2013-03-08T17:27:42.101Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are having trouble finishing tasks on a task list, make a task schedule.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T07:43:13.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Supplementing potassium has a large effect on mental performance for some people, it's cheap and easy enough to be quite worth trying. Personally I add a few grams of KCl (nusalt) to a drink.

Replies from: Alex_Altair, NancyLebovitz, OrphanWilde
comment by Alex_Altair · 2013-03-07T13:06:52.515Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What is the actual evidence for this? I've only heard gwern say that Kevin said it was good. Google thinks it's for everything but mental performance.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-07T17:26:57.581Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You'll find various anecdotes from other LWers by googling "potassium lesswrong." I've heard something to the effect that AnnaSalamon is essentially a different person on potassium.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-07T10:26:08.392Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there any reason to not take potassium in capsules?

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T10:57:26.651Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

potassium capsules come in a maximum size of 99mg due to federal law.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T19:36:11.697Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note: Potassium supplements can be next-to-impossible to find. Seriously, I've tried. In three different states. The internet is your friend.

Also note: Potassium is fat-soluble (which means, among other things, your body does a -terrible- job of regulating its intake, unlike most other vitamins which will pass through your digestive system unabsorbed if you already have sufficient levels), and dangerous to overdose on. There are treatments if it's caught - essentially, rat poison - but they're not particularly pleasant. Be very careful with the stuff.

Replies from: Caerbannog, AlexSchell, RomeoStevens
comment by Caerbannog · 2013-03-07T22:16:59.954Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's possible you're conflating potassium (element symbol K) with vitamin K. Vitamin K and warfarin (rat poison) are antagonists. Potassium (as chloride) is quite soluble in water, is prevalent in blood, and is primarily regulated by the kidneys.

comment by AlexSchell · 2013-03-07T23:47:59.393Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everything in the second paragraph (except hyperkalemia being dangerous) rings false to me. Potassium ions are water-soluble, vitamin levels are regulated mostly by modulating excretion rather than absorption (pretty sure), and nothing rat-poison-like (warfarin?) is commonly used to treat hyperkalemia.

ETA: Caerbannog has a very plausible hypothesis that you're confusing vitamin K for potassium. If so you should retract your posts on the topic.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T14:54:55.323Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Caerbannog is correct.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-07T20:44:59.753Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

huh? "for a person with normal kidney function and normal elimination (see above), hyperkalemia by potassium intake would be seen only with large infusions of KCl"

From looking around it seems the RDA is 4800mg and the average person gets about half that from diet. I agree one shouldn't be supplementing 5 grams a day, but 1-2 grams (~2-4 grams KCL) seems well well within safety tolerance.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T21:36:41.018Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For one-time doses, yes, otherwise salmon would be regarded as toxic. For continual dosage, not so much.

The kidneys can excrete potassium. The liver can process alcohol. That's not to say it's wise to consume large amounts of either; and long-term potassium exposure has been associated with reduced kidney function (note: the evidence definitely suggests renal failure causes high potassium exposure; AFAIK the reverse causation is largely theoretical at this point). Also note that kidney function can be impaired just by not drinking enough water.

I'm not saying don't take it. Although 1-2 grams a day is pushing it -well- into the "You should consult a doctor before doing this" category. I'm saying be really careful when you take it. It's not something somebody should do without research. The issue with supplements is that they don't replace anything you eat. And when somebody does something silly like eat six pounds of salmon in a day, with your supplement level, they're at risk of harming themselves.

[Edit: In point of fact, your post reminded me to order some potassium, which I've been meaning to do but haven't gotten around to. I would just prefer a disclaimer on there about being careful with it.]

Replies from: RomeoStevens, AlexSchell
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T00:43:37.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everything I see in a quick search on google scholar says that healthy adults excrete extra and there is no established upper limit, this implies the upper limit is far enough away that almost no one ever hits it.

One data point: One banana contains 400+ mg of potassium and no one has had potassium related issues on a 30 bananas a day (12,000mg) diet.

Replies from: OrphanWilde, handoflixue
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T15:02:35.091Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been conflating potassium and vitamin K, apparently.

Go me!

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T20:30:14.254Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

at least your caution didn't go the other way!

comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T01:43:59.426Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

no one has had potassium related issues on a 30 bananas a day (12,000mg) diet.

If I eat 1 banana per day, every day, I will get horrible leg cramps within a week. I really like bananas, so I've spent a lot of time testing this, although it's hardly a double-blind high-sample-size study.

Replies from: AlexSchell, Douglas_Knight
comment by AlexSchell · 2013-03-08T03:00:40.917Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's surprising. Muscle cramps are a symptom of hypokalemia (low potassium). Hyperkalemia is usually asymptomatic until you have heart beat irregularities. Also, based on the renal excretion of potassium, I would expect it doesn't accumulate much, and it would probably reach equilibrium in much less than a week, in a person with normal kidney function.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2013-03-08T03:17:32.537Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To determine whether the problem with bananas is potassium, try other sources, eg, eat a potato every day. or KCl.

comment by AlexSchell · 2013-03-07T23:36:20.443Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you cite any sources for these concerns? From what I can tell the hypothesis that potassium intake around the RDA will cause renal damage in the long term doesn't have much evidence to single it out for worry.

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-08T15:05:30.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been conflating vitamin K and potassium. (Teach me to go on memory.)

Fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamin K, and apparently unlike potassium) have long-term exposure health risks - they aren't effectively regulated in the digestive system, and they build up in the body to potentially dangerous levels.

comment by MaryCh · 2017-03-27T14:36:48.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My kid has recently decided he's into meteorology. First, he just walked around with scribblings of "+5, -11" and hummed a weather forecast theme. This got boring for everybody else, so we explained to him that 'weather' happens in some places, and people watch it for explicit purposes of deciding some matters, not for sheer cuteness. (I don't think he believed me on that one.)

So now we make 'forecasts' - several for Ukraine (first the video, then the sound, for 25 cities or for north-south-center-west-east), Earth ('Australiaaa... thirty-six degrees... kangoroo can live'), and space in general (with fictional planets, although he ordered a Solar system, too). The upcoming one is going to be for mammoths (I'm thinking Eurasia + North America).

This lets us work on reading, writing, reciting (short messages; he doesn't like learning poetry by heart), painting and building things from cardboard, finding places on the globe. Although my husband groans about having to edit the end product (without delay).

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-12-14T22:58:47.078Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reduce routine shopping time by

  • Make a list of items you shop all the time

  • Shop at a fixed schedule e.g. every tuesday, every 4 weeks, every first tuesday of the week.

  • Shop the items in a fixed order (possibly matched on you list). Note: Most stores change the order almost never and the order is part of the customer retention program, so you should be aware that this will bind you to the store.

  • Choose a weekday and time where the supermarket is mostly empty (e.g. in the morning instead of on saturday or in the evening when it may be crowded)

  • Do the shopping together with other persons to batch larger amounts and/or use transporation together (a car)

  • Buy a larger fridge (possibly a large top loading one in the basement (the top loaders are much more engery efficient) to reduce the number of times you have to go shopping.

  • Freeze some food not customarily frozen: bread/buns, butter, cut cold meat (it may affect the taste)

  • Use a a grocery delivery service. But note that it may not save as much time as you think:

    • oportunity time costs for need to be there when the delivery arrives
    • limited availability of frozen goods
    • storing away the purchase also takes some time esp. on large purchases (you do not usually feel this time on small purchases as it gets merged into everyday tasks)
  • You can still buy fresh fruits and vegetables etc. more often e.g. bi-weekly. You can use that time to do fun shopping with a mostly empty basket and unhurried.

Some more context for this can be found in the following scattered comments:

Personal example:

We used to shop every five weeks with a pre-filled checklist for 6 persons. In total about 4-5 shopping carts full (I heard the german carts are relatively small compared to the US ones). It takes 3-4 hours total. Note that this includes >1h to store everything away (e.g. unpacking vegetables, fruits, unpacking boxes, reordering fridge). What remained were short weekly single-shop trips to buy milk, fruits, bread and a few other items.

I'd guess that compared to shopping every two days as my mother used to which took at at least 1h each time (whatever the amount purchased) this probably saves about an 1.5 hours each week.

And it is cool.

comment by peirce · 2013-07-06T00:41:58.561Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Make commitment contracts for anything important (works best for long term things). Commitment contracts ( have basically solved 90% of motivational problems. The more important something is and the lower the initial expectancy of you actually doing it, the bigger contract you make. for example, if you really need to study for an exam, but you know that in this past you have always intended to study for exams but ended up doing nothing, then put a lot of money on yourself doing it. Be wary if there is ever something important that you do not want to make a commitment contract for, as if you actually expect to do it, then making the contract should pose no problem, as you will be unlikely to lose any money.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-07-06T00:44:57.106Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good advice, but not boring enough! Beeminder is exciting and shiny!

comment by CharlesR · 2013-03-09T00:42:04.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you type a lot, buy a mechanical keyboard.

Replies from: PECOS-9
comment by PECOS-9 · 2013-03-12T02:01:41.189Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, buy one without a number pad so that you can put your mouse in a reasonable location. Normal keyboards are too wide.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-10-06T16:03:40.195Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Second this. Used to have huge Logitech keyboard. Couple of months ago bought Microsoft one, and absence of num pad is so good.

comment by Decius · 2013-03-08T01:10:48.504Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't use 'dimmable' LED lights.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T01:29:26.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-03-08T04:49:33.964Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The mechanism of dimming is to strobe. Professionals claim that it is imperceptible, and it indeed can't be noticed consciously. However, it becomes painfully obvious when looking at a moving object.

Get a bulb of the appropriate brightness and use it.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T19:02:43.667Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm fairly sensitive to strobing and I've never noticed that from the strip of LED lights I have. But it also has multiple LEDs (at least 6, 2 each of RGB), so perhaps it's just a different design?

Replies from: Decius
comment by Decius · 2013-03-08T19:34:56.980Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are they dimmable or multiway? Does the dimmer switch control the number of diodes illuminated?

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T20:33:35.032Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The dimmer switch does indeed control the number of diodes (as well as the RGB balance)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T13:19:33.983Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

META: There is a good reason to assume that an punchy-sounding piece of advice will be more useful than a boring-sounding piece of advice: all other things being equal, the listener is usually more likely to have already heard the latter than the former. (Of course, “more likely” != “sure”, and also people often do forget advice they've already heard, so it's not like boring advice is always useful; but the tone of this post appears to imply that punchyness and usefulness are not in fact positively correlated.)

Replies from: None, maia
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T15:09:47.030Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps we should try to convey useful advice in punchy ways to make them more memorable, and to encourage people to spread them. Aphorisms are probably very popular and widely shared because they convey information which readers likely already know, but which hitherto had never been shared in such a witty, laconic way. Reading an aphorism prompts you to think, "Wow, this is true, and it is so eloquently expressed -- funny how I didn't think of saying it like this." People tend to remember aphorisms better for that reason, and they also tend to share aphorisms more often with their friends, because they want to come across as witty themselves.

comment by maia · 2013-03-08T21:55:42.065Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait, people are more likely to have heard boring advice than punchy advice? Why do you say that? I would have assumed the opposite (punchy advice is more interesting and therefore more likely to be repeated).

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-09T09:24:42.488Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If few people have ever heard a given piece of advice, it doesn't sound boring in the first place, does it?

Replies from: maia
comment by maia · 2013-03-09T21:21:10.491Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you're saying "advice people have heard before is boring," not "boring advice is likely to have been heard before"?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-10T14:50:40.136Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, mostly.

comment by Estarlio · 2013-05-13T18:59:57.531Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Buying a good microphone and some decent voice recognition software and learning to speak so that the computer can understand you can potentially save you a lot of time if you do a fair amount of prose-style text input.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-10T20:10:14.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're sad and lonely and hungry and cold and tired and sore and naked and sitting alone in a dark room doing nothing, then get up and put on clothes and eat food and talk to people.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T14:59:07.537Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Better than treating others as you would like to be treated is to treat them as they would like to be treated (insofar as doing so is within your means).

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2014-03-06T06:58:41.191Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want to live longer, consider reading this post on high-impact ways to lead a healthier lifestyle by RomeoStevens.

comment by Benya (Benja) · 2013-08-31T12:22:01.318Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You should frequently change your passwords, use strong passwords, and not use the same password for multiple services (only one point of failure where all your passwords get compromised rather than every such service being a point of failure). It's not easy to live up to this in practice, but there are approximations that are much easier:

  • Using a password manager is better than using the same password for lots of services. Clipperz is a web service that does the encryption on your computer (so your passwords never get sent to the server), and can be installed locally. Alternatively, you can use a local application if you're not worried about ever needing your passwords when you don't have access to your computer. I currently try to get by with (a login password) + (passwords for particularly important online services like online banking) + (a password manager password).

  • If you balk at the inconvenience of regularly memorizing randomly-generated passwords, it's better than nothing to come up with memorable phrases and take the first letter of each word to form your password. (Non-boring bonus advice: You can use phrases that remind you of something you want to do each time you log in to your computer, like looking at your todo list. [ETA: Never mind. I've now tried this twice and both times entering the password has become automatic far too quick, stopping almost immediately to serve as a useful reminder.])

Replies from: None, lsparrish, PECOS-9
comment by [deleted] · 2013-10-06T16:51:25.201Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

you can use a local application if you're not worried about ever needing your passwords when you don't have access to your computer

... or you can just store your KeePass database in Google Drive.

comment by lsparrish · 2013-10-18T02:11:04.134Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can generate a very strong passphrase with Diceware. Physical dice are more secure than almost any electronic device, and dictionary words let you memorize the randomness very efficiently.

This can then be used with KeePass or some other password manager. Also useful for brainwallets and other kinds of data where offline attacks are likely.

comment by PECOS-9 · 2013-10-06T17:25:27.555Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like the approach of password recipes to have a unique password for each service without needing to memorize very much.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-10-06T19:15:51.036Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“Furthermore, your unique password should not contain any word in any language.” -- ahem...

Replies from: PECOS-9
comment by PECOS-9 · 2013-10-06T19:57:22.200Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The purpose of that suggestion is to protect against dictionary attacks. Agreed that the advice "should not contain any word in any language" is overly strict (better advice would be "should not simply be one or two words in some language").

Regardless, password recipes are a solution for the problem of coming up with a different password for different services. Even using the technique in the comic to remember phrases like "correct horse battery staple", it would be difficult to remember a different password for dozens of services compared to just remembering a single password recipe.

comment by roland · 2013-03-11T19:15:27.083Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a man, don't get married unless she is very rich.

As a woman, get married if the law is on your side(which it generally is in most western countries) and if the man has enough financial resources.

Replies from: MileyCyrus
comment by MileyCyrus · 2013-03-11T19:25:38.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please delete this comment and don't bring up the subject again. Or if you must, bring up the subject only in the Politics Open Thread.

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-12T05:24:24.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

While the way it is phrased here is politically inflammatory, the general piece of advice "be cautious about entering contracts even if your peer group seems blase about them" is probably good.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-07T21:57:22.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try using nonstandard razors.

I tried a traditional straight-edge - my experience is that it's too much bloody work just to keep the thing in working order. Also, a wet strop is a ruined strop, in an environment in which it's likely to get wet - not workable if you share bathroom space with other people who may not be as careful of your stuff as you are. Or animals who think it makes a nice chew/scratching toy.

However, you can find straight edge razors which accept single-edge razor blades (the cheap replaceable kind), and also safety razors in either the double-edge or the straight-edge variety.

Straight edge with replaceable blade advantages:

They don't get clogged.

Substantially cheaper to use.

Closer shave.

You don't need to trim a beard before you shave it off.


Until you figure them out, and probably even after you do, you'll cut the heck out of yourself.

Unwieldy for some applications (upper lip, I'm looking at you)

Unusable for some applications

You might get mistaken for a hipster or contrarian or both.

Safety razor with replaceable blade advantages:


Substantially harder to clog, and easily remedied - pull the blade out, rinse it off, put it back

Closer shave than the X-blade monstrosities

Substantially more stylish than plastic


Sharper, AKA "Safety" is relative - unlike the more conventional plastic things, I find shaving cream of some kind to be an actual necessity, and irritation seems more frequent.

Replies from: RomeoStevens
comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-03-08T01:08:11.054Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My best shave comes from the disposable single blade old fashioned razors. you can't get them in most stores but you can get them just as cheap as other disposables online. Bic makes some called Bic Metal. i find they do a better job for me than even the laser cut japanese feather DE razors.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-09-17T19:16:45.931Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For parents who have trouble making the kids go to bed on time, like I do myself:

These past two nights, I lured the kid into bed with "Aurora Borealis" made with three really garish coloured rhinestones and a small flash-light (and with a plate of water & a plate of water and vegetable oil, since I was curious about how the images would change). Put the rhinestones on the floor or into the plate (they float between water and oil, but if you press on them, they sink) and direct light onto them (swishing them around, holding the light closer or farther, nudging them - sometimes, in water/oil, they overlapped) so that there is a reflection on the ceiling. (You can just oil them, it gets a sharper gleam than non-treated 'stones.)

I am going to buy some identical ones and try coating one with colourless nail polish, one with oil, and try adding salt to the water (or glycerine... or chlorophyll solution in ethanol... or benzene...) to see if there will be some change in my "Aurora". Good thing the kid is five and I have some time to brush up on my optics:)

comment by [deleted] · 2016-06-29T19:20:37.724Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For meat-eaters, even a small plant in the kitchen can be a place to pour off juices from thawed meat. Plant gets nutrients, environment gets less eutrophication.

comment by Error · 2015-08-02T22:43:45.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Two boring items of cooking interest:

On cracking eggs: There's a thin membrane on the inside of an egg's shell. When you crack an egg, you're actually aiming to break that membrane. If you crack the shell but the membrane's still intact, the egg won't split cleanly and most likely you will get shell pieces in your food. Figuring this out reduced my shell-in-food mishaps by something like 80%.

On butter: Real butter (the kind that comes in sticks) is meant to be kept at room temperature when you're going to use it. It lasts a week or more that way in a butter dish. I somehow didn't realize this until I was past thirty. I used margarine all my life, because I thought it was normal for butter to be rock-solid and completely unspreadable, as it is when taken out of the fridge.

Replies from: 4hodmt
comment by 4hodmt · 2015-10-14T11:03:55.675Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Butter is meant to be kept at room temperature only if you're going to use it as a spread. If you mostly use it as an ingredient, or for flavoring vegetables, it's better to keep it refridgerated.

comment by sumguysr · 2015-02-24T04:20:01.978Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When placing multiple identical items in a fridge, or most other storage, always make room and place them in a row from front to back, so that you always reach for the freshest or open one from the same place.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-22T23:09:10.527Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How To Survive A Death March (as in 80 hour work week).

comment by glennonymous · 2015-08-11T22:36:37.337Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Read the Boring Advice Less Wrong thread periodically and do what it says.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T14:54:27.369Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do not take excessively long, frequent and hot showers.

Replies from: falenas108
comment by falenas108 · 2013-03-07T15:15:31.345Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This article doesn't back up what it claims. The evidence:

“The results suggest that recreational swimming can induce significant modifications in some skin biophysical properties related to skin hydration.” This abstract, "Variations of skin biophysical properties after recreational swimming," was published this month as a full paper in Skin Research and Technology.

In this article, Sophie Gardinier et al. describe a study where skin hydration, skin pH, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin temperature and sebum casual levels were measured at 0, 4, 24, 48 and 72 hr after the start of the study. The study was repeated a second time but after the subjects had been swimming for 1 hr between the first and second measuring point. During the control period, none of the skin parameters showed any significant variation over time on all body sites that were measured. In contrast, during the swimming period, significant changes were found 1.5 hr after swimming for skin pH (increased) and sebum casual levels (reduced on upper chest but not on the forehead), while TEWL and skin temperature remained unaffected. From the next measuring point (t = 24 hr) onwards, all changes had disappeared.

This might be evidence against long showering, although shower conditions are not pool conditions. There's a difference between being submerged in water and having it fall on you. And that is after an hour and a half, which is far longer than what people consider to be long showers anyway.

But, this is most definitely not evidence against hot showers, or even frequent showers. This is only evidence for harm being done in a single long submersion in water.

Furthermore, if you go to the study they site, the sample size is 9, and they only have female subjects.

They address the chlorine argument:

But how does this scientific backing help a parent in a "shower battle” with their teenagers? First of all, these teenagers argue that their shower water is not chlorinated (true), to which I argue that the water in our city is hard, which increases the irritancy effects of water.

But that only applies to some cities, and the mineral content is still different.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-07T15:17:23.798Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you for doing the research. Much appreciated. This might be a better link.

Replies from: falenas108
comment by falenas108 · 2013-03-07T15:36:10.865Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, I still don't see a citation to a study in that article. Based on anecdotal evidence, I would agree that hot showers tend to result in drier skin, but it would be good to link to a study, rather than an news article reporting on something.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-09T16:08:05.006Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get divorced.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, wedrifid
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-09T18:23:45.643Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why not?

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-09T16:22:25.415Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't get divorced.

Checks divorce rates. Corollary....?

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2013-03-09T16:48:29.429Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not a corollary, but just because the advice is hard to follow doesn't in itself discount its validity. Compare "Don't become obese" -> "Checks obesity rates."

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-09T18:02:37.914Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not a corollary, but just because the advice is hard to follow doesn't in itself discount its validity.

My transparency was an illusion.

If the advice "do not get divorced" is considered sufficiently important and divorce rates are sufficiently high then it would follow that all else being equal "do not get married" is good advice.

(I'm not myself advocating or opposing either potential pieces of advice.)

Compare "Don't become obese" -> "Checks obesity rates."

The closest analogous prompt here would be for a followup of "Don't be sedentary." This is a little weaker since not getting married is far better at preventing divorce than not being sedentary is at preventing obesity.

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2013-03-10T06:06:42.131Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for unpacking that.

However, your argument is too fully general:

If the advice "do not get divorced" is considered sufficiently important and divorce rates are sufficiently high then it would follow that all else being equal "do not get married" is good advice.

If the advice "do not get in situation X" is considered sufficiently important it would follow that all else being equal Do whatever it takes to minimize the chances of getting in situation X is good advice.

This also applies to "kill yourself asap" being a good corollary if "don't eat too much marmalade" is considered sufficiently important, all else being equal. Strictly true, yes. Useful, no.

We have to acknowledge that these pieces of advice do not live in a vacuum where we can consider various values for their relative importance while keeping all the myriad other goals constant. That's not "carving reality at its joints", as the expression goes.

There are incentives to getting married, and without weighing those "do not get married" cannot be a general corollary of "do not get divorced" except in a spherical cows kind of scenario.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-10T06:19:12.491Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

However, your argument is too fully general:

My argument included disclaimers that you evidently missed.

This also applies to "kill yourself asap" being a good corollary if "don't eat too much marmalade" is considered sufficiently important, all else being equal. Strictly true, yes. Useful, no.

I reject the reference class.

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2013-03-10T06:34:24.228Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My argument included disclaimers that you evidently missed.

The grandparent was concerned only with the reasoning structure of "X sufficiently important -> Y (which helps in bringing about X) is good advice" being too fully general, without going into specific X's or Y's other than as examples. So your "(I'm not myself advocating or opposing either potential pieces of advice.)" did not apply. I don't see any other relevant disclaimers.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-10T07:54:53.927Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see any other relevant disclaimers.

All else being equal. It is incompatible with your interpretation which talks about utterly absurd "fully general" claims which I do not make.

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2013-03-10T11:59:49.407Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You provide an argument for how "do not marry" could be derived from "do not divorce". Without endorsing either of those claims, you still presumably endorse the reasoning mechanism you yourself introduced.

The structure of the argument you provide is "if X is sufficiently important then Y (which helps in bringing about X) is good advice" (ceteris paribus).

I show you why the above reasoning structure that you used is too general by showing how it would equally prop up e.g. the "not eating marmalade sufficiently important" -> "suicide as the surest way to avoid eating marmalade" step. Using your very own argument; which you apparently accept in one case, yet reject in the other.

Now, I'm glad you agree that an application of the very same kind of reasoning you provided just as easily leads to "utterly absurd" claims, as made evident by checking it against border cases.

Why then do you still defend its use in your initial comment?

Concerning the "all else being equal", you evidently missed the "... while keeping all the myriad other goals constant". I'm sure you appreciate the irony.

Let's go back to DEFCON 5 now.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-10T12:41:30.986Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I reject any particular relationship between my words and that which you are arguing against.

The style of reasoning and argument used is not one which I choose to engage with further at this time.

comment by jklsemicolon · 2013-03-07T21:55:20.223Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't be evil.

Replies from: handoflixue
comment by handoflixue · 2013-03-08T01:34:27.473Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted for being deep/punchy instead of practical.

Replies from: jklsemicolon
comment by jklsemicolon · 2013-03-08T02:18:13.577Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is neither deep (enigmatic or inferentially distant) nor punchy (counterintuitive or contradicting received wisdom). If anything it's too obvious. (By contrast, if I said "Be evil", now that would be deep/punchy.)

It was meant as a companion to this.