Group rationality diary, 5/28/12

post by cata · 2012-05-29T04:10:25.364Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 21 comments

This is the public group instrumental rationality diary for the week of May 28th.  It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves.  Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Thanks to everyone who contributes!

(Previously: 5/14/125/21/12)


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2012-05-30T04:30:17.507Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the past eight days I have gone to the gym seven times, swimming 1km each time. I have made some irregular progress in weightlifting, which mostly means I have figured out approximately my max lift for a few different basic lifts. I have missed one day but feel slightly bless annoyed with myself on that account because I swam 2km the previous day.

I have made more of an effort to follow up romantic opportunities. More is still not a lot.

In the past month I have dramatically increased the speed at which I'm learning Mandarin by the simple expedient of removing the books from my bag and the music from my mp3 player. This has left me with two alternatives for my commute; be bored or leisten to a learn Mandarin audiobook. I am very slowly becoming less shit.

comment by james_edwards · 2012-05-31T20:42:24.332Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have dramatically increased the speed at which I'm learning Mandarin by the simple expedient of removing the books from my bag and the music from my mp3 player. This has left me with two alternatives for my commute; be bored or leisten to a learn Mandarin audiobook. I am very slowly becoming less shit.


comment by Barry_Cotter · 2012-06-01T08:00:30.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Still can't read anything though. And the Great Firewall prevents me from reading your no doubt excellent post.

comment by DeevGrape · 2012-06-01T20:54:20.850Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My changes in fashion have been wildly successful. Hanging out with two separate friend groups the week after mini-camp, I was complimented repeatedly on how snazzy my new look was and how I was suddenly fashionable. They asked what happened and I said "I went to San Francisco!"

Even better evidence: I went to a bar with a friend last week, wearing a blazer, black slacks, nice shoes, and a decent T-shirt. We got stopped by the bouncer, and he said they had a strict dress code: no athletic shorts, no plain white t-shirts, etc. (basically my friend's entire outfit). He said "This guy's dressed to the core, and you're violating the whole dress code!"

I'm maintaining my habit of studying Calculus on my own using Khan Academy videos, and have a no-money graph up on Beeminder. I've logged about 20 hours, in addition to Precalc videos (so probably over 25 hours), and with no calculus training prior to two weeks ago, I got a 53/100 on a Calc 1 final exam. So, not perfect yet, but certainly astonishing progress in my mind.

This week I went into a complete slump triggered by a hangover on Monday and a difficult piece of schoolwork with a flexible due date (creating a syllabus). I'm still procrastinating on creating the syllabus.

comment by shokwave · 2012-06-03T10:56:39.474Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been procrastinating on working on what I learned at the minicamp. Recently I presented an abridged version of one of the sessions (self-modification through operant conditioning) to my local meetup. It went very well, and then something surprising happened. I could actually work on the minicamp stuff! I suspect the positive response increased the value of working on it. It was a bizarre feeling - like trying to stand on a stair that isn't there - to expect akrasia and suddenly be capable of working instead.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2012-05-30T07:57:17.412Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • I journal once per day that I am at home at 11:30 PM. This week I started the habit of tying flossing to this existing habit, just before journaling.
  • While listening to a marimba performance, I learned and was surprised about the strength of my nostalgia for playing keyboard with a jazz band. I suggest having varied experiences rather than just exploiting known good ones.
  • I am consciously pursuing new and valuable information about Two aspects of My life which are Important but shall remain nameless.
  • I noticed that I anticipated believing something about three weeks in the future but was uncomfortable believing it now, examined my discomfort and found it unfounded, and decided to believe with the strength of that anticipation now instead.
  • This week I completely neglected the habit I attempted to set up earlier of paying attention to my immediate happiness level whenever I noticed myself shaking my leg.
comment by hamnox · 2012-05-30T22:06:32.450Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm splitting up my daily writing practice and daily journal into entirely separate things. I've tried creating a habit of doing daily freewrites every day, which I usually used to examine how my day went, and failed miserably each time. (Though it was useful for as long as I could keep it up.) Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, so I'm trying it differently now.

My daily examination is now an Excel spreadsheet, in which I mostly answer simple yes-no prompts. Things like "Did you eat 3 meals, take your vitamins, feed the dogs, do something social, change your mind, try something new, stay up late the night before..." The time that needs to be devoted to writing about my day has always been prohibitive in making it a real habit, so I'm just tracking easy things and leaving the comments area for when I'm feeling particularly introspective. When I'm not, it's not a big hassle to open the doc and write a row of Y's / N's / ?'s right before bed. I'll probably be fiddling with the questions for a while until I'm happy, so the early days aren't going to have answers to all the questions.

I do still want to write every day. Writing is a well-ingrained ugh field for me. It's one I need to get over, both for the sake of school and for the sake of releasing the fanfiction plot bunnies that run around pooping all over the landscape of my mind. I changed my goal of X minutes per day to 300 words on weekdays and 500 on weekends. I'm giving myself a release valve each week for the price of a dollar, gifted to a coworker or random stranger. I've also got a $10 commitment contract for a month, something I was too convinced of failure to try before. I don't care about quality so much yet, I just want to get in the habit of sitting down and filling a blank page start to finish.

And now I've posted here about it, which means I might also face getting downvotes and stern looks of disapproval for failing! D-8

Edit: Oh, also increasing the amount of socializing I do every week. The local meetup had a recent presentation on smart networking, and one little gem was the maxim 'Never eat alone'. I've had substantially more fun since I've started trying to follow this advice. I've had a few surprising conversations come from asking if another person can hang out, even if we never got to making plans.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-05-31T17:22:46.393Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

for the sake of releasing the fanfiction plot bunnies that run around pooping all over the landscape of my mind.

I have found two things effective for this:

The first is writing out story notes / the passages in question longhand on a pad of paper I keep near my bed as I'm falling asleep. (You can also write out general notes and reminders to get them out of your head.)

The second is being willing to just write the sections of the story that are interesting / currently in my head, without worrying about connecting them to other things or making it a full story. If I later decide that there's enough for a full story, I can stitch it together; if not, just getting out the part that wants out will give me the mental piece of having expelled it.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-05-30T02:14:21.695Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

After reading some of this blog, I think I'm going to attempt to write a diary again, and I think I'm going to use freemind for it. (I used freemind the other day to write a design doc for a potential RPG, and it was a much more pleasant way to organize my thoughts than putting everything linearly in a text file.) This week I'm going to shoot for writing at least three entries as the day is winding down, and then evaluate whether or not I think it'll be a useful habit for the medium-term.

Technical notes: One of the cool things about using freemind for it is that I can make a template, with the various elements of my life that I want to track already identified as nodes. If I'm staring at "exercise?" every day, then it becomes hard to hide when my exercise regimen starts to slack.

Mory also scores himself every day. I'm not sure if that'll be useful for me. It's not clear to me how much that'll affect my values (if I give myself points for eating kale, will that actually make me more likely to eat kale? It seems like I'd be better off scheduling regular grocery trips so I always have some, since historically I've eaten it whenever I had it in stock), but it looks like it'll be neutral or positive rather than negative (if the scores are misaligned, I'll probably ignore them; if they're aligned, I'll probably get some small satisfaction out of them).

I expect the first few days of this will be more "clear out some of my mind into text" than "write about how this particular day went," and that may inflate the value. We'll see.

comment by CalmNearEnd · 2012-05-31T02:41:59.749Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I downloaded StayFocusd which allows me to have 10 minutes of FaceBook a day and then blocks it and I was playing a computer game too much so I just uninstalled it.

I like this idea of taking action while I'm mindful to prevent myself from doing things that are a waste of time when I'm in normal zombie mode.

comment by DeevGrape · 2012-06-01T20:38:26.314Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"zombie mode" -- I love this description! Mostly because it reminds me of Professor Quirrell, but still, it definitely describes how I feel when I'm in a procrastination/akrasia/depression cycle. I also have StayFocusd, which I find useful for automatically logging the amount of time I spend doing things I don't care about. It doesn't forcibly stop me from wandering (since it's simple enough to disable), but just knowing that I'm eating up my "leisure time" is enough to keep me doing things that are at least pseudo-productive.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-29T16:46:42.111Z · score: -21 (25 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please downvote this post, because I already didn't meet my goal I set last week of only staying up past 1:30 one night this week. (And I said if I didn't that people could downvote me and send stern disapproving looks in my general direction)

Note: I have made definite progress in the bedtime situation, just not to my goal yet!

I'll make another post later about the other things I'm working on this week. :)

comment by Vaniver · 2012-05-30T02:00:53.669Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Dorikka · 2012-05-29T17:00:42.463Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

*stern disapproving look*

comment by wedrifid · 2012-05-30T17:51:48.453Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pfft. I'm I'm not giving you validation for pretentious self flagellation and hand wringing. That behavior is not optimised toward maximising personal development but rather for signalling continued submission to a power structure. It's a terribly ineffective strategy for making lasting positive change. Grow a pair, set a goal you can meet, meet it and then I'll give you social validation of the positive kind, not this dubious validation of your virtue for sincerity or shame.

(Approximately my general policy regarding this sort of thing.)

comment by Dorikka · 2012-05-30T18:52:07.884Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a terribly effective strategy for making lasting positive change.

This seems to contradict the rest of your comment. Did you mean the opposite?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-05-30T19:49:08.018Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, fixed.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-05-30T17:34:04.439Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

FWIW, the book Don't Shoot the Dog advocates rewarding animals when they do better than average.

I really recommend that book by the way.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-05-30T18:02:15.932Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Second the endorsement, but it's important to understand that the relevant average is the particular animal's current baseline (not, for example, the average behavior of similar individuals). That is, you look at the behavior you're getting, and you reward the top N% of behavior along whatever dimension you want to reinforce. Over time the cluster of behaviors will shift in that direction. Keep rewarding the top N% and it will keep shifting in that direction until other factors make that impossible.

comment by XFrequentist · 2012-05-30T13:47:41.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm very disappointed in you.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-30T10:52:43.516Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meh, I prefer for this kind of things. Losing real money motivates me much more than losing LW karma.