The True Rejection Challenge

post by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T07:18:41.914Z · score: 43 (54 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 533 comments

An exercise:

Name something that you do not do but should/wish you did/are told you ought, or that you do less than is normally recommended.  (For instance, "exercise" or "eat vegetables".)

Make an exhaustive list of your sufficient conditions for avoiding this thing.  (If you suspect that your list may be non-exhaustive, mention that in your comment.)

Precommit that: If someone comes up with a way to do the thing which doesn't have any of your listed problems, you will at least try it.  It counts if you come up with this response yourself upon making your list.

(Based on: Is That Your True Rejection?)

Edit to add: Kindly stick to the spirit of the exercise; if you have no advice in line with the exercise, this is not the place to offer it.  Do not drift into confrontational or abusive demands that people adjust their restrictions to suit your cached suggestion, and do not offer unsolicited other-optimizing.

To alleviate crowding, Armok_GoB has created a second thread for this challenge.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by JamesAndrix · 2011-06-25T17:12:16.407Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have two reasons not to use your system:

One: If you're committed to doing the action if you yourself can find a way to avoid the problems, then as you come to such solutions your instinct to flinch away will declare the list 'not done yet' and add more problems, and perhaps problems more unsolvable in style, until the list is an adequate defense against doing the thing.

One way to possibly mitigate this is to try not to think of any solutions until the list is done, and perhaps some scope restrictions on the allowable conditions. Despite this, there is another problem:

Two: The sun is too big.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T07:46:31.304Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Two: The sun is too big.

This is my new favourite objection :)

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-06-26T19:24:37.637Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Two: The sun is too big.

I'm afraid I don't get your joke. Does this have anything to do with the system itself, or is it just an example of an insurmountable obstacle?

comment by jhuffman · 2011-06-27T16:50:12.367Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like both to me. The system is vulnerable to arbitrary problems that meet only a personal standard; the problems themselves are not subject to scrutiny.

comment by pwno · 2011-06-28T20:44:30.653Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a good exercise in finding your true objections.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-25T17:29:50.668Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The sun is too big.

How big is too big?

comment by CuSithBell · 2011-06-25T17:46:47.540Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

They say not to eat anything bigger than your head.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-25T17:47:15.137Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, they're missing out on some swell watermelons, then.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-25T17:45:15.183Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not exercise.

(Caveat: I will refrain from taking any advice that would lead to me starting to significantly exercise until I have a diagnosis and a treatment plan of my apparent heart condition, which doesn't indicate it would be unsafe or otherwise a medically bad idea. I'd be really surprised if my doctor told me not to exercise, but in case she does I want to wait and make sure that my body is really lying to me when it says "don't do that, bad things will happen".)

Reasons (and existing known routes around each):

  • Sweat is horrible, and I overheat too easily. (Swimming gets around these; outdoor exercise in cold weather, interestingly, does not.)

  • Sunshine is horrible (and other environmental issues). (Anything indoors or at night gets around the sunshine thing. Other environmental issues are mostly limited to smelly gyms and excessively humid indoor pool facilities. Anything outdoors and at night and in nice weather gets around this.)

  • Many forms of it are financially costly (equipment, facility use). (Going for walks does not have this problem.)

  • It is boring. (When I tried jujitsu, it did not have this particular problem. Merely being able to listen to music does not solve this, although it could combine with another partial solution. If this problem is solved by simultaneously watching a movie, it has to be in a context where I can turn on subtitles, because I will not be able to reliably hear dialogue over any non-perfectly-silent form of exercise.)

Known route around all of these problems: happening to have free access to an outdoor pool which is open at night and a person who will go with me and chat while we both backstroke laps. This would be great but I don't happen to have access to a free outdoor pool that is open in the dark.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T00:41:57.192Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems to me as if some bodyweight strength training exercises might not trigger any of these problems. I would suggest very small sets of comparatively high-load exercises, e.g. work your way up to one-legged squats, one-armed pushups, and chinups if you have a suitable thing to hang from or are willing to get a chinup bar (I sometimes do chinups on the metro). If you are interested I can give you some details on how to work your way up to these exercises, since many people are not initially strong enough to do them (I sure wasn't!).

Sweat: Short sets don't give you much of an opportunity to overheat or sweat. Also, with bodyweight exercises, you can do them at home and take a cool shower/bath immediately afterwards. (By the way, do you hate sweating, or do you hate being sweaty? I am assuming the latter for now.) You could even do the pushups in a cool bath to get some of the advantages of swimming.

Environmental Issues: You can do this at home and indoors.

Cost: Only the time investment, plus (optionally) the cost of a chinup bar.

Boring: This type of exercise does not take very long, so you won't have much time to be bored. Not very long means 5-10 minutes total, a few times a week. You don't even have to do it all in one session, you can take a minute at a time through the day.

As a bonus, strength training can make other sorts of physical activity less unpleasant, since you will be operating at much less than capacity.

comment by MBlume · 2011-06-27T01:01:58.836Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would also be interested in learning to work up to effective bodyweight exercises.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T00:48:34.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are interested I can give you some details on how to work your way up to these exercises, since many people are not initially strong enough to do them (I sure wasn't!).

I am near-certain I do not currently have the strength necessary to do anything you have listed. The working up to it must also meet the criteria, but do tell.

By the way, do you hate sweating, or do you hate being sweaty?

Both. If the sets are as short as you describe and can be broken up into arbitrarily small pieces, I would expect to be able to work around this, though.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T01:45:58.440Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have tried to be reasonably concise here so as not to drown you in intimidating details and caveats, please let me know if anything is unclear and I can expand on it or try to say it another way. I included common names for some of the more unusual exercises, to aid you in Googling, but am happy to try to explain anything that is not obvious to you.

I hope this helps, but please let me know either way, as it will help me give better and more relevant advice in the future. Especially anything that doesn't work for you.

I am near-certain I do not currently have the strength necessary to do anything you have listed. The working up to it must also meet the criteria, but do tell.

Basically the idea is to do exercises that are less intense versions, and to do negative reps. Try doing the hardest exercise you can do. If at some point in the day you can't do it anymore then move one notch down. Once you can do 5 sets of 5 repetitions each in a day, try the next level up (no reason you shouldn't be ambitious and try it earlier if you feel like it).

Less intense versions of the 1-armed pushups

  • Regular pushups

  • Regular pushups with 1 leg off the ground

  • Ab pushups, sometimes called Supermans (like a pushup, but instead of having your hands under your shoulders or chest, put them above your head, keeping your arms mostly straight). Then most of the work of is done by your abs rather than your arms. I found it much easier to work my way up to 1-armed pushups this way, and core strength is important for its own sake too.

  • Fingertip pushups (push with your fingertips rather than your palms)

If you work your way up to 1-arm pushups and want to challenge yourself a little more, you can always try 1-arm, 1-leg pushups.

You can increase the load on any given pushup by wearing a backpack with heavy stuff in it.

You can also vary the load of a pushup by doing it on an incline. (Hand(s) below feet is harder, hand(s) above feet is easier. Leaning with your hands against a wall is much easier.)

Another way to make it easier is to use your knees instead of your feet.

Another way to add challenge is to elevate your hands (e.g. pushup between two boxes or crates, or even just two books), with your hands on the boxes/crates/books. This would give you a larger range of motion and give your stabilizing muscles more work.

Less intense versions of the one-legged squat (sometimes called the pistol) include:

  • 2-legged squat

  • Partial 1-legged squat, where you start with your leg only partially bent - walking up stairs is very close to this, as is stepping up onto something like a box or platform. If you can progressively raise the height of the thing you're stepping onto, eventually you will be going through the whole range of motion.

You can also wear a backpack while doing a partial (or full) squat to increase the load.


The bean-can curls that pthalo suggested would be a good intermediate exercise for pull-ups. Since the point is to do only a few repetitions to maximize the ratio of muscle use to chance of sweating/overheating, you will want to use the heaviest weight you can lift five times. Once bean cans become too easy (maybe they already are), you can try heavy books, and eventually just putting heavy stuff into a bag and holding it by the handle.

Negative Reps

Negative reps are just doing the motion in reverse. So for the pushups, start with your arm extended, and lower your body slowly to the floor. For the squats, start standing on one leg, squat down slowly. For chin-ups, start in the "up" position (a standing stool would help for this) and slowly lower yourself. If you can't do some of the intermediate exercises you can do negative reps of those as well.

Some notes on technique

For pushups, try not to arch your back backwards. You get the most out of each repetition if you put your hands next to your chest rather than your shoulders (with the obvious exception of the Supermans).

For pistols, try not to let the bending knee get far in front of your foot. To balance, extend your free leg forward or to the side, and tilt your torso a little forward. Do whatever you want with your hands. Keep your back straight.

For pull-ups, if you are using a proper bar, try varying between palms facing away from you (rock climbing style) and palms facing toward you. I find that when I am not able to do any more of one, I can often still do some of the other.

For curls, make sure your wrist doesn't bend backwards, or you can get wrist pain like I did.

Note on Sweating

If the sets are as short as you describe and can be broken up into arbitrarily small pieces, I would expect to be able to work around this, though.

I can do sets of 5 at work, feel I've got some decent exercise in, and don't sweat enough to notice. I dislike sweating and being sweaty too, but not as much as it sounds like you seem to do, so I can't tell you whether it will be under your threshold. As I mentioned earlier, you could always try doing slow pushups in the bath if ordinary ones make you sweat noticeably. Or doing fewer reps in a set.

Other Stuff

If you do 5 sets of 5 repetitions per day (vary between the arm and leg stuff), you should be able to make a lot of progress. You can get away with doing quite a bit less, though my gut feeling is that you will only be making material progress if you do at least 3 sets of 3 repetitions each, a few days per week. Spacing them out is totally okay, you will still get stronger, it just won't help your endurance as much (but it will still help a little!). In fact I would recommend spacing them out a lot at first, in order to minimize the probability of sweating. You don't want to start out with bad associations!

By the way, if you are never able to work your way up to the 1-arm pushup and 1-legged squat, the intermediate exercises will still be materially better than nothing. And I specified bodyweight exercises because you mentioned you dislike gym-smell and weights are expensive, but if you find a gym that you can stand and has free weights, or have a friend with heavy weights they will let you borrow, that will accomplish most of the same things.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T01:55:30.336Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wasn't aware there were so many difficulty-altering parameters to mess with. That alone might stave off boredom for a few sets. Thanks!

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T02:13:52.579Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was worried that adding that much detail would be intimidating or confusing; I'm glad it was encouraging instead.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-28T00:16:14.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You recommend doing multiple sets per exercise on multiple days a week. This seems to contradict what Tim Ferriss and others have said, but maybe that doesn't transfer to bodyweight exercises.

Right now, I've been doing exercise similar to what you describe (following Convict Conditioning), but only about 3 sets per exercise per week (as the book recommends for beginners). I feel I stagnated somewhat and don't really transition to full push-up and pull-ups (legs and abs are doing fine). Do you think it would be beneficial to move to, say 3-5 sets on 3 days a week for those exercises? Or do I just have to wait it out, given that I'm fairly skinny and never had any serious strength?

I'm also trying to be more consistent about my protein intake. Constantly forget to eat enough. I aim at ~150g at 85kg/185cm, but often just get 50-100 because I accidentally skip meals.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-28T00:59:39.674Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The linked Tim Ferriss article mentions one-set-to-failure, and if you're really truly maxing out you probably only need to do it a few times a week. But it's harder to max out with bodyweight than with weights. I was also trying to suggest sets that would accommodate Alicorn's desire not to sweat, which requirement would likely be violated by a true high intensity workout.

For workouts that don't leave you feeling totally spent, which is generally the case with bodyweight exercises, you should take into account the total load in a day as well, and the brain-training effect of greasing the groove, for which there is substantial anecdotal evidence. It's a non-trivial skill to be able to be able to use your true maximum strength, we're designed to hold back in normal situations.

There is also a difference between training for muscle volume and training for strength. Obviously the two are strongly correlated, but they are not entirely the same thing. My understanding is that you want fewer, more intense reps at a time if you're training for strength.

EDIT: Though to be honest, I only do 1-2 sets of high intensity kettlebells and 1 set of the 1-arm pushups in a week. But I've decided that it's worth my time to maintain, but not to materially improve, my level of fitness at this point.

comment by a363 · 2011-06-27T13:48:14.229Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I also sweat a lot and the best way I've found of dealing with the discomfort is a merino wool baselayer. And not just for sports: I will probably never buy another pair of cotton boxers or socks.

Cotton gets wet, then cold and clingy, which can exacerbate blisters (socks). All sorts of high-tech synthetics start to stink real fast (I don't have much experience with silver-treated fabrics though). Wool wicks very well, will not stink even after a week of wear, it retains 50% heat insulation and does not cling against the body even if it is saturated with sweat + merino wool is too fine to be itchy and it stretches back for longer than most fabrics so cuffs etc can stay tight for years. They used to have wool jerseys at the Tour de France up to the 1980's since it beat synthetics for cooling up to that point. Couple of downsides though: merino wool (Ibex, Icebreaker etc) is expensive (but hard wearing), needs delicate detergents and does not like aggressive machine drying.

Bottom line: hundreds of millions of years of evolution for keeping warm-blooded animals performing from desert to arctic conditions has not been wasted.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T17:06:25.556Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wool is itchy. And my dislike of sweat has little if anything to do with what I'm wearing when it happens.

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T04:44:49.520Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I play DDR at home (all you need is a DDR pad and a computer). It solves all the problems except the sweat. But since it's at home, I would think you wouldn't mind that as much (plus you can have a towel nearby). I find this the most convenient exercise ever, since I can do it at home, any time, and for free.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-26T04:59:32.360Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I once owned a DDR pad, but either it or the adapter I used to hook it up to my computer had a delay that made it unplayable. So I don't have one anymore, and this therefore fails the expense criterion.

But since it's at home, I would think you wouldn't mind that as much

You presume incorrectly.

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T05:11:36.996Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless you are playing on high difficulty, you can comfortably play on a cheap pad ($16 + $4 adapter).

As for sweat, it seems like there might be two things going on there. One is you overheat, which you can control with a fan or something. Two is the actual sweat, which is annoying, but by no means bad in of itself. If you sincerely dislike it, you can self-modify to find it acceptable (might be worth doing anyway). There are plenty of resource on LW for how to do that.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-26T05:43:12.815Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One is you overheat, which you can control with a fan or something.

Nope. (I overheat strangely. It's like my interior and my surface area aren't connected. Aiming a strong fan at me will prevent exterior but not interior overheating. If I just stay under the fan after I stop exercising, I will get too cold on the outside while still being too hot on the inside.)

Two is the actual sweat, which is annoying, but by no means bad in of itself. If you sincerely dislike it, you can self-modify to find it acceptable (might be worth doing anyway). There are plenty of resource on LW for how to do that.

Not helpful.

I may look into the inexpensive pad and adapter, though.

comment by dspeyer · 2011-06-26T14:36:33.172Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't be sure, but drinking cold water throughout might help.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-26T17:23:12.851Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You know, it might. I don't like water but that's not among my listed problems, so if I come up with a solution for which overheating (as opposed to sweating, which this wouldn't affect) is the only problem, I will attempt this patch. Thanks!

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-26T23:16:24.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you don't like water, but like lemonade (or some other drink that can be served chilled and isn't too expensive), filling a water bottle with it can be nice. If it's too sweet, it'll make you thirsty, but watering it down fixes that. I tend to add just enough syrup/juice/whatever to water to make water palatable. (i dont like water either).

i know a person who has a medical condition that gets worse with exercise. they have to avoid it as much as possible because they can feel poorly for weeks afterwards (even moderate amounts of exercise, like walking too much). The condition in question is not a heart condition, but it is possible that there are other conditions that react poorly to exercise for different reasons than the one my friend has. So you should definitely consult with your doctor AND listen to your body. If you feel really crummy after exercise, you should be doing smaller amounts of exercise to build up your strength. If you feel really crummy after a tiny amount of exercise, you probably shouldn't be exercising. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor.

solution to sweat: deodorant

solution to sunshine: a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen, if the problem is sunburn, or a sensitivity to light, or heat.

other solutions to sunshine, if you are a night owl: rollerblading at night -- is safer than walking since you can zip by other people. is also less hot and sweaty. bicycling at night. these sorts of things are best done in well lit areas

another solution to sunshine: if you are in a building with an elevator, take the stairs at least part way up. if you have a washing machine, hang your clothes up on a clothesline to dry (i have a clothesliine over my bathtub. they're easy to make. i don't have a dryer, and hanging up heavy, wet clothes can be tiring, especially lifting them up over your head. you can also flush toilets with a heavy bucket of water (you dont have to empty the entire bucket, just a little bit will do. this saves quite a bit on the water bill as well -- my water bill has gone down since the flush on my toilet broke. bake bread now and then. kneading bread is also quite a workout. if you take public transportation, get off a stop early when you aren't in a hurry. little things like these add up and they're often more interesting than sitting on an exercise bike -- getting off early lets you explore on foot a part of town you might not have known as well. and these tips are all good for number 4 as well -- they're cheap. most of them (including the elevator one, since i'm living on the fifth floor and my building doesnt have one) are things i do not really by choice but because i'm that poor.

solution to boring: audio books! i prefer reading a book to listening to one, but listening to one is more interesting than listening to nothing. also, if you like television and are doing something that can be done in front of a television (yoga, stretching, lifting cans of beans and pretending they're dumbbells...) then television is another option.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-26T23:32:44.538Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do like lemonade, but I can only water it down a little before it starts tasting like water.

Deodorant does not work well enough and is not properly applied to all relevant locations.

I have textural issues with sunscreen, and don't like the directed warmth and brightness of the sun even through it. (I walk outside on a sunny day and it's like I can feel myself crisping up. Or steaming if it's humid.) Hats worsen the sweat problem on the scalp.

Skating is unkind to my ankles; skates cost money. Bikes cost money and I don't trust myself to bike safely in traffic. Helmets worsen the sweat problem on the scalp.

I take stairs when they're handy most of the time.

I don't like the texture my clothes have when they are hung dry. (I know this because sometimes I get a broken dryer and then strew my clothes around my room to dry rather than spending more quarters.)

I do mean to learn to bake bread, but can't regularly count on being able to knead it; I routinely have small wounds on my fingers. (Don't say gloves. No form of glove I am aware of both lacks texture issues for me and would be okay to knead bread with.)

Audio books have been mentioned. Cans of beans: interesting. May try that and see if it generates noticeable amounts of sweat. Yoga is physically painful to me in ways I am fairly sure are not supposed to happen.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T16:34:38.353Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have textural issues with sunscreen

Me too... and I'm Australian (where sunscreen is a necessity). I'm currently loving being in the UK and not needing it.

I also don't wear makeup or use moisturiser for much the same reason (and suffer the social penalty for doing so in a business setting).

I did eventually find one sunscreen that I could actually use - one put out by the Australian Cancer council (their "everyday sunscreen"). Understandably, however, it's not available anywhere else but Aus... though you might be able to find it (and try it) online if you're not in Aus yourself.

It is the only sunscreen in the world (and I've tried very many) that you can't actually feel after you put it on... and I'm the sort of person that can feel the moisturisers that are guaranteed to be unfeelable...

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-27T00:37:49.199Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fair enough.

I have textural issues too although mine seem to have different triggers than yours. But it influences what foods I can eat (nothing squidgy, which might be a made up word, but it means mushrooms and anything else that feels like i'm eating a condom), what clothes I can wear (i can only wear nylon tights if i wear thick white socks underneath), even what kind of books I can read (smooth textures are the worst for me, my hands break out in sweat and i get a fight or flight response). i've used cotton gloves before to soak up some of the sweat from my textural problems, but any other type of glove would exacerbate it. i have to be really careful with what kind of socks i buy as well. -- no i'm not suggesting you knead dough in cotton gloves.

yeah, i had a feeling the deodorant thing wasn't going to be too helpful -- it's nice for armpits, but you can't slather it on your face or hands or feets or other places. and deodorant does nothing for the heat rash you get under the bra after sweating.

it's true, bicycling and rollerblading cost money if you dont already have the equipment (i already have rollerblades, so its cheaper for me to use them than to take a bus -- my rollerblades have saved me a lot more money than their initial cost, but that is only the case if you know you are going to be able to use them for transportation).

I think it's probably best to just avoid the sun as much as possible.

another thing that is potentially exercise, if you like kids, looking after one for a while. true, you can just stand there and watch, but joining in tends to be a bit of a workout.

yoga should not be painful. you may be stretching too far. for example with lotus position (where you twist your legs up like a pretzel), you shouldnt do that until your body is ready to do that. instead, just put your feet together, and try to get the knees as close to the ground as you can without it hurting -- if this means your thighs are at a 45° angle compared to your torso and floor, that's okay. you do it so that it's a tiny bit of a stretch, but not painful, and over time, you're able to go farther. but if it's not for you, it's not for you. i will probably never be able to touch my toes. i can touch my knees. and i can touch a little farther, and then if i go any farther, it hurts, so i dont. I think stretching and yoga can probably be done safely by most people (definitely not all, though) if they granularise it enough -- work on touching the knees before touching the top of the shin, then the middle top, then the middle, etc. but every body works differently and you know yours best -- i only elaborate about the yoga because a lot of people seem to try to turn into a pretzel on day 1 and it doesnt work. my body is pretty weird actually. For example, walking (at all) is usually a bit painful for me, but rollerblading is not. something about the stride, or the way my foot is held tightly by the skate, but not too tightly.)

our local ice skating rink sometimes has deals where they let everyone in for free (but you still have to pay to rent skates). Maybe your local public pool (you did mention swimming) has similar specials from time to time.

having cats is also a source of exercise for me: carrying a heavy bag of kitty litter up 5 flights of stairs. then carrying dirty kitty litter down again. phew. and carrying them to the vet when one of them gets sick is exercise. My one cat has been sick , constantly, though something different each time, since October (UTI --> antibiotics --> diarrhea from the antibiotics --> ringworm --> nearly went bald --> eye infection. So for a while I was having to carry her (in my arms, with a leash attached in case she made a break for it) about a km every week or so. Thankfully, she's much better now.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T04:10:21.856Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

yoga should not be painful

Seconded. The good kind of stretching is about teaching your muscles to relax (i.e. lengthen) on demand. When you feel pain that means you are putting strain on your connective tissue instead. This can lengthen the tissue over time but that's not good for most people.

comment by Strange7 · 2011-06-27T06:37:14.340Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thinking about the overheating... you might try getting some plastic-coated 5-lb hand weights, using them for arm exercises while watching a movie, and storing them in the refridgerator when not in use. Blood vessels are relatively close to the surface in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and I remember an experiment in forced thermoregulation which took advantage of that. Of course, it also involved a special suction-glove to increase blood flow, which is probably out of your price range.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T06:43:44.041Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The weights themselves are almost certainly out of my price range. I just don't care enough about getting this done to work around my monetary neuroses. It turned out that my roommate has some 3lb weights (not covered with anything that would respond interestingly to refrigeration) and I was messing with those; my hands were not excessively warm during this process, so cooling something I hold in my hands would be of minimal help.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T07:23:51.117Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The thermoregulation experiment suggested that cooling the hands is a relatively efficient way to cool the whole body. I don't think many people feel like their hands get too hot while they exercise, but there are apparently gains in endurance when exercisers keep something cold on their hands. These gains are most likely due to the body taking longer to overheat.

You could find out whether this works for you by timing how long something takes to produce noticeable overheating or sweat, then timing the same thing on a later day in very similar conditions, holding ice packs or something like that in your hands.

If you don't want to induce extra overheating or sweat for the sake of the experiment, you could try holding something cold while doing something you have to do anyway (e.g. sometimes I have to go outside on a hot day). That way the worst likely outcome is not much worse than before unless you really hate holding cold things.

comment by Strange7 · 2011-06-27T08:40:51.674Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The weights only need to be made of something with reasonably high thermal mass, and the coating only needs to have thermal conductivity in a range that will allow the transfer of heat from your hands to the weights quickly enough to be useful but not quickly enough to be painful.

My theory here is that your core is well-insulated under most of your skin, but that the soles of your feet and palms of your hands are effectively gaps in this insulation. Under this theory, I would not expect your hands to feel hot when you're exercising, since they contain no major heat source and have ready access to a major heat sink (the outside world). Cooling your hands just makes them a better heat sink for the rest of the body, reducing the need to sweat.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T17:10:56.824Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suppose I'll pop the weights in the fridge and see what happens; couldn't hurt.

comment by EvelynM · 2011-06-27T17:42:00.391Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I also overheat, then get too cold after exercise.

For the overheating, I find that if I drink more water, I feel a bit better. I also run cold water over my wrists to cool down quickly after a workout.

Cooling down quickly causes me to overshoot, so I need to have a clean, dry shirt to put on, and a sweater or sweatshirt, handy to cope with the chills.

I don't like the sweating either, but I try not interpret it in a negative way. "No one cares if look like I'm sweating." "Sweating is a good way of removing toxins in the body. " That sort of thing.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2011-06-30T10:20:59.496Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do the Five Tibetans every morning, and they may meet these requirements.

  • They don't raise a sweat on me, except for the 5th. I can't say whether they will for you.

  • I do them indoors.

  • They are free.

  • They only take 10 minutes -- much less if you're not doing the full 21 reps of each exercise. How long does it take for you to be bored?

This isn't the only thing I do for fitness, but it does seem to have a significant effect for me. The other things I do probably don't meet your requirements: using a bicycle for transport whenever practical (sweat and sunshine), running (ditto), taiko drumming (sweat, sweat, and more sweat), lifting weights (my own, bought with money), and taking the stairs, not the lift (sweat?).

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-30T14:31:16.133Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

These do not seem to violate any of my listed requirements (possible exception being sweat, but I would have to determine that empirically). So, in accordance with the exercise, I will at least try them once I know what's up with my heart problem. However, I suspect that they will be physically painful (several components of the series look like they will cause or exacerbate the sort of headache I tend to get, and forms of yoga in general that I have tried in the past were distinctly unpleasant).

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T16:11:20.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you go into more detail about what sort of movements are apt to give you headaches?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-30T16:24:37.284Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have only an ostensive definition, not an intensional one. The bits that stuck out to me were the spinning (this would worsen an existing headache but probably not cause one), the leg raises (which would not directly cause a headache but would lead to a sort of strain that might), the leaning in the third rite and the head-dangling in the fourth and fifth (it sounds like I'd wind up with my head upside-down or close to it, which could worsen or cause a headache). Sudden sharp head movements (voluntary or otherwise) also do this, and this is one reason, along with worsened kinetosis, that I can no longer ride roller coasters.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T21:55:46.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're learning the Tibetans, you start with three repetitions of each move, and only add one or two repetitions per week until you're up to 21 reps. If you need to do them slowly, they might require more strength, and that might mean you'd add more repetitions more gradually.

I don't know whether your concern with spinning is related to dizziness. If so, I'll note that I've got some evidence that Feldenkrais' theory that dizziness is caused by holding one's breath has something going for it, and the Tibetans are a good way to work on breathing while turning.

The fourth involves keeping your head level with the ground. T5T offers leaving your head vertical through the move as an option, or leaving your head and shoulders on the ground.

The fifth does involve having your head at about a 45 degree angle facing down, but not dangling.

You can do the movements slowly and get the benefits from them.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2011-06-30T15:14:26.825Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

BTW, I'd advise caution with no.2, the straight leg raise, as it demands quite a lot of the abdominals. It can be substantially eased by letting the legs bend at the knees.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T16:17:55.401Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's interesting. I've never had any problems with #2, and my abdominals aren't in in great shape-- I've never been able to do an unassisted sit-up. Even when I was a kid, I needed to put my feet under something.

The fourth Tibetan is the big challenge for me-- my chest and shoulders are very tight, and it took me a while to even realize that was the problem rather than the universe being out to get me. I've managed one rep of #4 that felt right-- like a coherent stretch across the front of my body.

One of the good things about T5T was realizing that I didn't have all the possible problems with the Tibetans. Another was one of the warm-ups (hands behind head, circle upper body) which improved my awareness enough that I could realize I was pulling against tightness in #4 rather than just having unspecified difficulty.

Some of the material about breathing in that book gave me some sense (no doubt incomplete) of how much I hold my breath.

I was going to start the second paragraph with '#4', and that paragraph appeared in large boldface. Markdown, stop helping so much!

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T11:51:16.135Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do the Five Tibetans, too, though not with utter reliability.

Notable effects: they get rid of lower back pain for me. They strengthen the muscles around my knees. I believe they're the reason I was able to fall safely when I slipped on some ice the winter before last. (Previously, when I fell on ice, I'd twist something and sprain it.)

Normally, I can do at least one of them better than usual. This cheers me up.

I'm inclined to think that by doing them slowly and/or doing fewer of them, you could avoid working up a sweat.

There's free information about the Tibetans online, but I strongly recommend The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan: T5T: The Revolutionary Exercise Program That Restores Your Body and Mind-- it's by a teacher who's taught 700 students, and has a good warm-up set and a lot of advice on modifying the Tibetans if you find them difficult.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T03:20:42.547Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dance in the shower?

Even fairly restrained dancing over an extended period can elevate your heart-rate and trigger many of the benefits of exercise.

If you have a shower and live in an area where cold water is provided for free, then there is no cost. Additionally, this should address your sweat issue much like swimming in a pool.

It is indoors which eliminates sunlight.

Vis-a-vie the boredom constraint. Dancing to music by itself may be a varied enough activity to keep you mentally engaged. If this is insufficient you might consider audiobooks or talk radio.


  1. Safety. If you dance too vigorously then you may slip or injure yourself. You will know better whether this is a very likely issue. If it is, you may be able to mitigate with protective clothing (either purchased such as no slip water-shoes/socks or made from household objects; feasibility depending on your particular budget constraint and safety concerns).

  2. You may not have a sufficiently strong set of external speakers to overcome the noise of the shower. If so, you might mitigate by (1) reducing the water flow for your shower, (2) purchasing or building louder speaks (for example, build a cone out of cardboard to amplify and direct the volume.)

  3. Just cold water may be too cold for you. To mitigate either (1) add hot water (and possible add cost), (2) exercise outside the shower first to raise your body temperature, (3) acclimate yourself to colder water (this has been done by many people in the past either by necessity or due to a specific purpose such as Channel swimming).

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T03:38:45.925Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I doubt I could hear anything with content over the shower itself no matter how good my speakers were, and I have pretty terrible balance in general. (I rarely actually fall, but I have to touch walls a lot to make that not happen.)

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T05:41:42.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Run the experiment:

For entertainment - try different levels of water flow with your existing speaker setup and see if there's any overlap between the range of "audible entertainment" and "acceptable cooling." The experiment is fast and cheap. Edit: You may not be able to find the right level of cooling without first doing some exercise nearby to heat yourself up.

For safety - Assuming you've found an optimal level of water flow, try dancing at various levels of intensity with a friend present in the bathroom to catch-you/call-an-ambulance/help in case of severe accident. Not quite as fast as the first experiment, but contingent on it and still free and relatively easy - plus amusing for a friend

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T05:47:52.290Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dancing in the shower with someone to catch me? Okay, to be fair, I didn't mention modesty issues in my original post, but I didn't really think anybody was going to suggest something that involved immodesty...

(The shower curtain in my home is transparent.)

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T06:23:13.735Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ha. Here you go just piling on additional constraints!

Could you wear a bathing suit that'd provide sufficient modesty?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T06:34:40.962Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I could indeed do that. Hmm. (Not sure if Ade wants to watch me dance in the shower, though.)

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-25T20:03:46.304Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Known route around all of these problems: happening to have free access to an outdoor pool which is open at night and a person who will go with me and chat while we both backstroke laps. This would be great but I don't happen to have access to a free outdoor pool that is open in the dark.

Make friends with someone who has a backyard pool and invite yourself to swim laps with them. I don't actually know where you live and what the climate is like there, but even if it's colder, you can at least swim for part of the year. Ask everyone you know if they know anyone who has a backyard pool, and invite yourself.

Ideal long-term solution: build your own backyard pool. Probably not financially feasible right now, though.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-25T20:43:17.483Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I live in North Carolina at the moment and the weather would be fine for swimming. I don't think I know anyone with a pool or have a good way to filter potential new friends for pool ownership (and I live in an apartment complex, so I can't just stroll around the block looking for a pool-having house to turn up at with a plate of cookies). Suggestions?

ETA: I fail. I didn't even think of asking the local meetup group if anybody in it has a pool before I posted this. (That said, since I don't drive and I don't think any of them live really close, it'd be more of an imposition than just allowing me to let myself into their backyard, but it's worth a try.)

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T05:41:57.706Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What about practicing balance?

You don't need to buy a special balance board or exercise ball for it. You can just use any board on a pivot of some sort...say a plywood board on a solid rubber ball (depends on your weight).

Balance will protect you well into old age and practicing it should strengthen your leg joints, abdominals, and lower back, as well as forcing you to be more aware of your body's position, movement, breathing, etc.

For entertainment, you can listen to music or an audiobook.

As for sweating/comfort it is definitely on the less strenuous side of things and can be done indoors with air conditioning (though this may be an expense you don't want to incur).

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T06:42:40.709Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternative balance activity:

Just stand on one foot and try twisting your torso from one side to the other or from from to back.

If this is too easy, carry a heavy object like a thick book. If this is unwieldy, try soup cans.

Vary your angular momentum by practicing torso twists with your arms out or your arms in or with varying weights.

Try the same while standing on the ball of your foot.

Try while reaching above your head, to the side, et cetera.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T05:44:37.051Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting prospect. I don't think I've got any boards or rubber balls lying around, but will keep an eye out for something to jury-rig.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T06:40:32.306Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other options:

Board: Old skateboard (I've found these on the street, should be easy to find in a few yard sales), cutting board (if you've a side you don't use for food preparation and are good about cleaning or use a towel to insulate), cut off part of a 2x4

Pivot: Rolling pin, small rocks (though not pebbles)

comment by DavidNelson · 2011-06-26T00:43:58.323Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Taking evening walks while listening to audiobooks seems to deal with all of those issues, assuming you aren't like one of my friends who can't stand audiobooks. Audiobooks aren't free, but if you take 3 30 minute walks a week it will take you months to get through a single book.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-26T00:48:44.946Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Audiobooks can be free if you get CDs from a library. (Then if you want, burn them onto your computer.) Also they may be available online as torrents.

comment by dbaupp · 2011-06-26T05:18:45.169Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another source of free audiobooks is LibriVox which is building (i.e. recording) a catalog of free & public domain audiobooks. It is all volunteer work so I'm sure there is varying quality, but the few I have listened to have been quite good. However, the catalog is limited to works out of copyright (or under an appropriately permissive license), so newer material is rare, but many of the "classics" are there.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-26T00:54:00.874Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My existing iPod does not have any battery life (expense of equipment). Walking is not immune to the sweat problem. I also might not be able to reliably hear the contents of an audiobook over the sound of my own footsteps, nearby traffic, etc., but this part would be worth empirical testing.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-26T01:33:25.928Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I probably have an mp3 player around somewhere that you can use. (Check in the electronics bin, if you like.) If you don't mind being functionally deaf to anything else, using earplugs and turning the player's volume all the way up will likely solve the problem of hearing it over things. There is still the sweat issue, though.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-26T01:54:30.436Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Noted, thanks.

comment by goldrybluzsco · 2011-06-27T11:23:45.413Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I share many of the problems with exercise that you have, especially the overheating and the boredom.

My solution to the sweating problem is to pick out clothes that are 'okay to sweat in', go for a run, then wash the clothes and have a shower immediately. I experience being sweaty as being very unpleasant, but with the attitude of "in these clothes, that doesn't matter", I can get around that.

I find that podcasts are much better than audiobooks for exercise -- they give variety and a breadth of topics in the event that I'm not in the mood for a particular audiobook. I subscribe to some news podcasts, anime/movie review, comedy, philosophy, sociology, hacking and short-story podcasts, and if I grow tired of one, I always have something else to distract me.

Really bare-bones mp3 players can be bought here for 15 units of local currency, so with rechargable batteries, that isn't a good reason. Most phones can play mp3s, and come with free headsets.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T17:10:02.740Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My solution to the sweating problem is to pick out clothes that are 'okay to sweat in', go for a run, then wash the clothes and have a shower immediately. I experience being sweaty as being very unpleasant, but with the attitude of "in these clothes, that doesn't matter", I can get around that.

It's a textural issue, not an attitudinal one.

Really bare-bones mp3 players can be bought here for 15 units of local currency, so with rechargable batteries, that isn't a good reason. Most phones can play mp3s, and come with free headsets.

The object is to get around my reasons, not dismiss them as bad reasons. Also, I don't have a phone.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T17:28:40.602Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The object is to get around my reasons, not dismiss them as bad reasons.

I understand that that's the object, but I hope you aren't excluding the possibility that some of your reasons--or anyone's reasons--might actually be bad reasons. That's a concern I have with this whole post: it could be a net rationality loss if you let your attitude shift from "I will do X if objections W, Y and Z are overcome," to "I will do X if and only if etc."

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T17:33:47.922Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is certainly possible that some reasons are bad. When people have presented options as partial solutions, I am in some cases willing to meet those partial solutions halfway. But "It only costs $X and it's a functionality that comes with $OBJECT so that can't be too much even though I know nothing about your finances or why you want free options" is not a responsive answer to my complaint that things cost money. X ≠ 0 and I don't have $OBJECT already.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T18:13:08.851Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You know that wasn't me, right?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T18:26:21.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Didn't say it was.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T00:54:05.169Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Walking is not immune to the sweat problem.

Even when it's dark out? I would expect this would be OK at least at some times of year.

Other things you could do to fight the boredom problem would be to try to get a friend to walk with you, or have a phone conversation.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T01:27:22.378Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

From the original comment:

outdoor exercise in cold weather, interestingly, does not [get around the sweat problem].

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T02:08:18.787Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry if it sounded like I hadn't read the post carefully. I know it annoys me a lot when I have to repeat myself because people don't seem to be listening. But I did in fact notice that and had a possibly incorrect but not actually crazy reason for asking that specific question.

My model looked something like this:

expected_amount_of_sweat = f(ambient_temperature,exercise_intensity,time)

where f() is continuous and monotonically positive in ambient_temperature, exercise_intensity, and time. In other words, a small increase in any of the three inputs yields a small increase in the output.

This implies that for a sufficiently small increase in exercise_intensity, there would be some finite decrease in ambient_temperature that would offset it. I interpreted "does not [get around the sweat problem]" as meaning that for a fixed value of exercise_intensity, as ambient_temperature decreases, expected_amount_of_sweat approaches a lower asymptotic bound. It's possible for that to happen (e.g. if you're doing intense enough exercise you will sweat even in a walk-in freezer), but for there still to be an offsetting effect (e.g. carrying something heavy or running will make me sweat sooner on a hot summer day than on a cold winter day).

It seems as though either my model is wrong, or my model is right but the transition from resting to walking is not a sufficiently small increase in exercise_intensity. Is one of those the case, or am I missing something else?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T02:14:31.279Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your model is close to correct, but "ambient temperature" is local to parts of the body, and in some locations cannot normally drop below my actual core body temperature. I'd have to wear ice packs in some mighty weird and highly uncomfortable places to make reality function like a naive version of your model.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T02:18:48.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

OK, though I'm quite surprised if you're saying that the general outside temperature has no effect whatsoever.

I'm slightly less surprised if you're saying it has some effect, but that due to localization of heat and the insulation of even light clothing, walking is intense enough to overcome even a chilly autumn or winter night sweatwise.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T02:21:30.459Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

General outside temperature has an effect on parts of me that are exposed to air. This doesn't typically include, say, armpits, my scalp under my hair, or certain less G-rated locations - not because of clothes (or rather not entirely because of clothes; they certainly have an effect), but because of other body parts being in the way.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T02:26:00.810Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. I was thinking in terms of core body temperature being affected by the external temperature, which seems like it has to happen at least in extreme cases as a simple matter of physics (e.g. if it's so hot or so cold that it overcomes the body's ability to self-regulate temperature), but it might not happen in the majority of less extreme cases for some people. I should just take your word for it that you're one of those people, or close enough for practical purposes.

And it's probably a bad idea to induce hypothermia in order to go for a run without sweating, so I withdraw my suggestion.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-27T19:11:41.090Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recently have been trying to exercise more as well, I bought a door hang pullup bar for 20$ and so far in terms of exercising its quite relaxing. You can do assisted chair pullups if your tired, you can do just a few and be done fast, you can do extended sets if you feel like it. All infront of the tv/computer movie of your choice.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-27T11:59:40.811Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Sweating is going to happen. Exercise hard, take a cool down lap and a cool to cold shower.
  • Sunshine is (and I'm saying this as someone who spent over a decade in the Goth scene, and still is into the music) absolutely critical. It does wonderful things for your body's chemistry.
  • Life costs. You may not always get what you pay for, but you always pay for what you get.

Now, before you can build yourself a workout you have to have a reason for doing it. There are many combinations, but they boil down to:

1) Rehab of injuries. if this is the case you need to consult a therapist and work out exactly your regime, but I doubt it. 2) Body re-composition--commonly called "losing weight", but is more accurately called "reshaping this mess". 3) Getting stronger 4) Building Endurance (you could argue that this is a subset of 3, but in practice it's different enough)

There are some others, but they are usually either a subset (body building is really an extreme of 2 and some of 3 for example).

Once you have your goals clearly defined some of your other objections can be worked around, except possibly for the sweat thing. The one thing "we" can do is keep the workouts of high intensity (meaning short and hard (get your mind out of the gutter)) so that you don't have time to get bored, and you minimize the length of time you sweat.

This won't work if your goal is to do the Leadville 100 (, but if you just want nicer hips and a little thinner belly, it isn't that hard.

One suggestion--and this WILL involve sweat--is to find a 25 or (better) 35 pound kettle bell and do kettle bell swings 3 mornings a week when you first get up. Do as many as you can in 5 minutes, then take a walk around the block to cool down. Shower and go to work. This will work your legs, lower back, shoulders and abs. It won't turn you into super$GENDER but if you currently do nothing, it'll help. As you do these try to do longer and longer sets with fewer breaks. At first you'll probably do 10-20 at a time, but it's 15 minutes a week. If that's too boring for you, then you've lost anyway.

Edited to add: Here's a three minute workout:

He's barely started sweating, but it'll come in a few minutes. Oh, and he's already (clearly) in shape--either that's a 50 pound bell, or he's really short :)

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T17:08:44.582Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sweating is going to happen. Exercise hard, take a cool down lap and a cool to cold shower.

Not helpful.

Sunshine is (and I'm saying this as someone who spent over a decade in the Goth scene, and still is into the music) absolutely critical. It does wonderful things for your body's chemistry.

You don't have to believe me, I guess, if you think I'm lying about what things are and are not horrible for me, but if you're going to disbelieve me, maybe don't give me advice?

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T03:46:08.643Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't have to believe me, I guess, if you think I'm lying about what things are and are not horrible for me

Is it completely unthinkable that your aversions to sweat and (especially) sunshine are related to phobias or some other neurological/physiological problems that should perhaps be addressed at some point? Sunshine really is good for you. My wife used to hate it, made nutritional and cognitive-behavioral changes, and now likes it.

I know that's not helpful short-term. But long-term, it seems like there's some other problem going on that is causing your surface aversions that you should at least not completely dismiss off-hand.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-29T04:17:10.701Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The sweat thing is probably autism-related. The sunshine thing is some combination of that and me being ridiculously pale. I take vitamin D, have a family history of skin cancer, and do not experience depression, so I probably shouldn't be working too hard on learning to like sun. Sweat would be more beneficial to learn to like, and if you know of an actual disease that has hating sweat as a symptom, do let me know. But the vague concern that it might be something other than a very strong sensory preference like my other very strong sensory preferences is not actionable.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T09:25:23.309Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not a question of belief, it's an issue of presentation.

Here is what you wrote: "Sunshine is horrible (and other environmental issues)." That is not saying "I have medical issues", it's saying (wrist to forehead) I don't LIKE going out in the SUN!

There are lots of things in life that just flat out suck. There is no way to make worthwhile gains without struggle, effort and dealing with stuff you don't like.

To put my earlier statement a completely different way, you have a choice. On one side is exercise and sweat, on the other side is where you are now. If you are happy the way you are now there is no need to exercise. Otherwise you're going to need to sweat, the choice you then get to make is then a matter of intensity and duration.

Physical exercise causes muscles to use either blood sugar or fat to get the muscles to contract. This is an exothermic reaction causing the muscles to heat up. Exercise sufficient to cause physiological changes causes the muscles to heat up enough to cause sweat. You don't notice this when swimming because it's constantly being washed away.

There is no big red fucking easy button that gets you magic results. There are shorter paths to a solution, depending on your goals (for example if you PURELY want to lose weight you can do things like intermittent fasting, low carb diets and ice baths), but you asked about exercise.

If you have physical issues with sun then the appropriate thing to say is "I have $DISEASE" which prevents me from spending lots of time outside". Being light skinned with a family propensity to Melanoma is not a reason to avoid the sun, being light skinned with a family propensity to Squamous Cell cancer IS a reason to take precautions, especially if that family tendency is towards the cancer going metastatic.

Now that we have more information we can work with something. You don't have to completely avoid the sun, you just have to limit your exposure (duration, clothing) to it and do things to minimize the effects of it (cartinoid consumption, vitamin A with the D etc.). Yes, it takes mountain biking in the Australian Outback off the table, but the sweating issue and your location take that off the table anyway. However the cheapest form of exercise is walking, and if we can somehow dispose of your sweating issues there are walking protocalls that will get you SOME gains, if they're the sort of gains you're looking for (again you haven't stated any goals other than "to exercise", which is vague enough to be meaningless).

There are some diseases that have sweating as a symptom, but it's unlikely you have those. I've spent a lot of time reading about and investigating exercise and diet, but very little on the sweat side of things, mostly because I just accepted that I sweat a lot more than most people given a particular workload. I have a cow-orker who runs ultra-marathons. He is COLD when the temperatures hit ~70 degrees. I wear shorts down into the upper 30s (with a sweater and a hat). He can run in 90-95 degree heat with minimal sweat--he intends to run the badwater at some point--I used to ride a bicycle to work in 0 (f) weather and SWEAT on the way in. This is a normal part of human variability.

Again the issue is how you deal with it. UnderArmour's "Heat Gear" fits close to the body, provides some UV protection and does a decent job of moving the sweat out from your skin. Two or three of these shirts in conjunction with some sweatbands to keep the sweat down on your face and hands and for what is called a "High Intensity Training" or "High Intensity Interval Training" can go a long way towards meeting your goals, whatever they may be.

Realistically though just "man up" and be uncomfortable for 20 minutes 3 times a week. Just going doing that will be a gain in your life.

The Austism thing (I presume from your writing you're down on the functional aspergers end of things) provides a mostly psychological stumbling block. Austists generally have a degree of anxiety about change beyond what normal people face. Examine your feelings about changing your routine, stepping out of your comfort zone and fixing what you may find to be broken.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-29T13:25:56.633Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wish to make the world a place where "Sunshine and sweating feel awful, so I'm not taking your advice" elicits the same reaction as "Putting my hand on a hot stove feels awful, so I'm not taking your advice", rather than being told to man up and being psychanalyzed by strangers.

I'm going to start with the subset of the world named Less Wrong.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-29T15:35:35.468Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well put!

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-29T15:25:38.779Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight is a very interesting book about sensory defensiveness-- having trouble, sometimes serious trouble, with sensory experiences that don't bother most people. It's correlated with autism, but isn't the same thing, and is sometime misdiagnosed as autism, neuroticism, or lack of willpower.

There are people who specialize in helping with sensory defensiveness. They are cleverly camouflaged as occupational therapists, so they are unlikely to be found.

comment by zaogao · 2011-06-29T23:35:20.621Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

" I wish to make the world a place where "Sunshine and sweating feel awful, so I'm not taking your advice" elicits the same reaction as "Putting my hand on a hot stove feels awful, so I'm not taking your advice" "

This would be nice. Now when I undertake this rejection challenge and come up with a reason for why I'm are not doing x-action, I can compare that reason to a hardwired physiological reaction. I will then feel satisfied that I am not doing (x-activity) for a good reason that I cannot change, because one surely cannot be expected to put their hand on a hot stove. In this way I will feel satisfied that I am in my current position for a good reason, and can happily fall back into acceptance.

comment by zaogao · 2011-06-29T23:45:00.901Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And Alicorn, I don't know the particular nature of your aversion to sunshine, and maybe it is deeply hardwired like most people's aversion to a hot stove, so I am not speaking to you in particular. All I am saying is that reasons to not do something come in different strengths and in with different amounts of permanence. There are some dislikes that are able to be overcome through repeated effort, such as talking to strangers or eating vegetables. There are dislikes that can be overcome through mindfulness, (I will start this essay because of how it fits into my long term goals), or through environment (I will start this essay at a quiet Starbucks) or, my personal favorite, through chemical means ( I will start this essay once I finish this bottle of Laphroaig.) Maybe I misread MixedNuts statement and he/she was merely saying that for some people, sunshine and pain aversion are essentially the same, which I could buy. All I'm saying is I think there is a need to iterate this exercise through each of your reasons for not doing activity-x in the hope you can either find fundamental issues (putting your hand on a hot stove) or issues that can be resolved (working out in a walk in refrigerator.)

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-30T03:45:33.366Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this conversation could use a dose of alternate perspective, and this seems like as good of a spot to drop it as any; zaogao, this is not directed at you personally.

LessWrong as a community makes a point, a lot of the time, of accepting a rather large amount of variance in its members' values. Except, some of us seem to be better than others at noticing when values-variance is relevant to the conversation at hand. It seems to me that a failure to notice that that's relevant is the bulk of the problem, here.

Alicorn has made it pretty clear, as far as I can see: Given the choice between a lifestyle in which she sweats regularly, and a lifestyle where she's less fit and more prone to health problems, she really does prefer the latter - that's what her values specify. She's not in denial about it, she's not complaining about having to make the choice, she's not making drama. All she's doing is describing the situation, pointing out the options she knows about, and asking if anyone knows of options that she's missed. This shouldn't be a problem, as far as I can tell: Looking for third (or fourth, or fifth) options is a very LessWrong kind of thing to do. But even if we collectively decide that we don't want to devote resources to this kind of concrete discussion of specific cases, the respectful-of-values-differences thing to do is to say that, not try to shame her for having the values she does.

It might also be worth noting that this kind of thing contributes to LW turning into an echo chamber. If we can't trust each other to stay respectful and on-topic about values differences that don't significantly affect anything beyond a single user's life, how can we trust each other with values differences that do affect other things?

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2011-06-29T14:26:42.963Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Exercise can be fun if your brain is wired in a certain way, but needing to basically pointless busywork for physical maintenance is still stupid. There might be some entertaining flareups of cognitive dissonance from people who like to view being a diligent exerciser as a terminal value once there's technology for keeping the body in excellent working order without doing pointless stuff that makes you sweat. For instance.

Also, how come no-one talks about different people probably having quite a bit different endorphin reactions to exercise? It's pretty likely that they exist, but people still act like they are good exercisers because they make better choices as rational actors, not because it gets their brain pumped full of happy juice.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-29T15:29:48.982Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Very good idea which we need to test a lot. I'm very afraid it might do bad things later on, build muscle mass but not do anything about fat or many other problems, build too much of a type of muscle and not enough of another, eat something that shouldn't be eaten to build muscle from it, or create weird dietary needs. But let's go test it!

comment by zaogao · 2011-06-29T23:54:43.808Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted because it is a general argument against any claimed rational action. Why do people who work at existential risk act like they make better rational choices when really they just get a different neurochemical responses? (Hint: Everything we do is for some neurochemical response)

For an action to be rational in your mind, does it need to obey some Kantian-esque imperative where the actor can't gain pleasure from it? Are people who loathe exercise but do it anyways more rational?

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2011-06-30T05:57:12.661Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Was wondering why people don't look into differences in neurochemical responses at all, when they seem to be a pretty big factor in this case, different thing than arguing against any rational deliberation on it at all.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-29T15:29:12.108Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How difficult would it be for you to learn how to be gently encouraging? Could it be worth the trouble?

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T00:51:05.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Going for walks at night would seem to solve everything except for possibly "boring." You could try to get a friend to walk with you, or call a friend on the phone, or listen to an audiobook.

comment by Morendil · 2011-06-25T18:48:32.955Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not exercise.

Why do you think you should, or wish you did?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-25T18:49:33.574Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Health professionals keep telling me to.

comment by zaogao · 2011-06-30T00:06:11.417Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The obvious answer:

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-30T00:08:40.345Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah um no, being refrigerated is a) not something I currently have free access to and b) falls into the same category as exercising outdoors in the cold. Minus one reading comprehension point.

You will receive only one negative reading comprehension point for this mistake if you choose not to turn this into a thread in which you say abusive things about me or contradict me on the subject of myself and how I work. Yaaaay.

comment by zaogao · 2011-06-30T00:12:52.208Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My mistake, I thought the suggestion of slugging slabs of beef in a meat locker would not be taken seriously. To clarify, not a real suggestion.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2011-06-28T05:01:01.583Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My suggestion is that you learn to get over your fear of sweating. There's nothing objectively harmful about it, so it's merely a preference that can (and probably should) be changed through gradual exposure. Start slowly and work your way up. If you refuse to change your behavior in any substantial way I don't know why you're asking for advice.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-28T14:43:19.344Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

ShardPhoenix, I believe that Alicorn has a form of autism (please correct me if I'm wrong, Alicorn.) Being sensitive to sensory stimuli and having aversions to some of them is common for people who suffer from autism, and I don't think these aversions are particularly easy to overcome. I'm guessing that Alicorn's aversion to sweating is in this category. She isn't just 'being lazy' and refusing to attempt to change a preference.

Note to Alicorn: have you ever succeeded in getting rid of a textural or other sensory aversion through gradual exposure?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T17:59:59.261Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note to Alicorn: have you ever succeeded in getting rid of a textural or other sensory aversion through gradual exposure?

My sensory issues do morph over time, but largely outside my control. The closest thing I can think of is that when I was little, I couldn't stand denim, but then I had a pair of very soft stonewashed jeans that I did like, and thereafter I was able to touch all varieties of denim comfortably. Trying to figure out how to not be bothered by such a thing on purpose would be a little like trying to rewire myself to not mind pain: surely a worthy ultimate goal, but not currently within reach for any practical purpose. It's too base-level.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-28T18:10:35.288Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's what I thought. It's not a simple matter of habituation, although the fact that your liking the one pair of jeans generalized to all denim suggests it might have to do with what category your mind places different textures into, rather than just how they feel.

Has this ever happened in reverse: there was a texture/other stimulus that didn't bother you until you encountered a particularly nasty instance of it, and it generalized to all instances?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T18:19:15.297Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The reverse hasn't happened quite that way, no. In general I become more, not less, tolerant over time; sometimes I have temporary episodes where something that's normally neutral is suddenly abhorrent for no obvious reason, but that passes.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2011-06-29T06:39:29.833Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't agree that we should tiptoe around someone's irrationality (and bend over backwards to try to accommodate it!) just because it has a biological cause, or because it's something associated with "our kind of people". If someone with schizophrenia came here and started posting about conspiracy theories, I don't think the schizophrenia would be a good excuse to put up with that either.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2011-06-29T21:30:21.318Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think we should recognize real differences in feasibility/difficulty/painfulness of actions and actionability of advice when they exist, for biological reasons or any reasons. (Sort of like how you wouldn't expect basic epistemic rationality advice to make someone with schizophrenia sane.)

We should also recognize the predictable effects of our words on people as they are, predicted using empathy and models based on people's actual behavior, rather than what we think people should be or non-truthseeking, habitually-used, constantly-surprised models of people. (Noticing when you're using the latter sort of models is a lot of work, but possible.) This might feel like abandoning all ideas of what people should be and letting them get away with any amount of laziness, and there are potential gains that could be lost that way, but the hard-ass approach loses at least as much (while making you less likable); far better to step back, recognize and (at least temporarily) let go of affective judgments and game-theoretic impulses, and semi-honestly try to figure out what's actually going on and what gains are possible.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-29T11:55:25.610Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The question I would ask is, does it help Alicorn to phrase your comment the way you did: "If you refuse to change your behavior in any substantial way I don't know why you're asking for advice." That would antagonize anyone, rationalist or not. If you said that to someone with schizophrenia, the last thing it would do is cure their disease. There are medications for that...and unfortunately, I don't think there are any medications for autism yet. And if anyone is bending backwards to accommodate it, it's Alicorn herself; this is something that must be extremely annoying on a day-to-day basis. You, on the other hand, don't have to change your day-to-day life at all.

That being said, I think your original suggestion (gradual habituation) was a good one. I don't know if Alicorn's tried exactly that strategy before, and there's a possibility it might work.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-29T17:34:40.067Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As near as I can tell from the fact that I am sometimes forced into situations where I have to deal with sweat, gradual habituation does... drumroll... nothing.

comment by Davorak · 2011-06-29T18:22:03.135Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am no psychologist. I thought one of the benefits of gradual habituation was that it was in a controlled setting that subject could end at any time with essentially no consequences. This contrasts "sometimes forced in to situations", I also have the impression that these forced situations there is no sequential order of events from the least discomfort to the most, in other words no gradualness(Also perhaps these events start at too high of a stimulus level.)

Finding someone capable of setting up a gradual habituation regiem and having the time to follow through with it are the biggest obstacles to experimenting with habituation regiems in my experience.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-29T18:39:24.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did not submit "help me figure out how to deal with sweat" as a True Rejection Challenge, so this line of advice is neither on-topic nor welcome.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T05:12:49.527Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your suggestion is not helpful. It relies on false assumptions, doesn't pay attention to the nature of my complaint, violates the spirit of the exercise, and is dismissive of my level of self-knowledge, and that I would respond this way was predictable based on other commenting that has happened in this thread. If you're not going to pay attention to what kind of advice I'm asking for I don't know why you're trying to give me any. (Others' recommendations have already fared better than yours, and not just because that isn't difficult to manage, so my request for advice wasn't fruitless, although it does seem to result in uninformed noise production as a side effect.)

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2011-06-28T05:26:26.658Z · score: -4 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want to get fit it's going to take effort and doing things that you don't really want to to. Also, it's a good idea to get over harmful and unnecessary aversions regardless. Also, don't ask for advice if you can't take it.

edit: The real issue here is that you don't have strong enough motivation in the first place. If you can increase that (for example, by visualizing the benefits of being fit vs. the costs of being unfit in the long run), you'll find it a lot easier to get started without a bunch of borderline-crazy restrictions.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T05:33:44.163Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your advice was not what I asked for. Here are other examples of things that are technically advice, but which are not what I asked for and which am not obliged to accept cheerfully, that share a reference class with what you said:

  • "If you want to lose weight, you're going about it the wrong way and putting too many constraints on what you'll do to achieve it; exercise won't help, just stop shoving food into your face."

  • "You get bored by exercise? That means your brain is defective. Try ten years of therapy and some psychiatric drugs!"

  • "You'll stop being bothered by sunshine if you just sit out in it for a couple of hours every day until you tan darker. Also, getting exposure to sunshine is a good idea regardless."

  • "If you don't have enough money to spend on exercise equipment but you're able to get on the Internet you're a crap financial planner. Come back when you have your priorities straight. If you want to get fit you'll have to give up some of your luxuries."

So, to sum up, go away.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2011-06-29T06:35:40.161Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. and 3. there are essentially true to first order. The world is not obligated to be convenient for you.
comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2011-06-29T20:39:16.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Taken as a purely factual statement, (1) appears to be simply false for some people.

Much more importantly, though... do you not see the connotation of unpleasant, uncareful other-optimizing, and frequently contempt, in all those statements and what you've said to Alicorn, or do you think it's correct to use that connotation, or that it doesn't matter and people are wrong to care, or what?

comment by Davorak · 2011-06-29T06:56:37.003Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My reply to the edited post:

The world is not obligated to be convenient for you.

I assume you state this because you are under the impression that Alicorn believes/acted like/implied the world is obligated to be convenient for Alicorn.

That is not the impression I have obtained by reading the posts in this discussion. What specifically gave you that impression?

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2011-06-29T06:59:08.809Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe that was slightly misphrased, but she seems to be assuming that if there isn't a convenient, relatively effortless way to do something, then it's not worth doing.

comment by Davorak · 2011-06-29T07:27:24.055Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Effort is hard enough to judge in person and pretty much impossible over the internet. I have observed more then once in my life people judged as lazy, or many other negative traits, only to have the person years latter discover a perviously unknown medical condition causing the underlying problems. Once it is diagnosed as organ failure, a growth putting pressure in an odd place society stops judging them as lazy or any number of other negative traits.

The initial label of laziness(or other negative trait) was a logical misstep, coming to a conclusion without sufficient evidence.

comment by Davorak · 2011-06-29T06:49:23.171Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

edit: The whole post I responded to was:

  1. and 3. there are essentially true.

The negative consequence of following through with 1 or 3 can be so high for select people that they are not worth doing.

Following through with 1 may cause weight loss but may also cause diminished intelligence, diminished energy, malnutrition, again with select people.

Following through on 3 may cause cancer or increase the risk of cancer to high levels, again with select people.

Also, it's a good idea to get over harmful and unnecessary aversions regardless.

This statement is true, however the cost may be too high with known methods. Hence this exercise to produce new methods to experiment with.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2011-06-29T06:54:59.985Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't suggest a starvation diet, and sunscreen exists. Besides, my general point is that sometimes you need to try harder instead of giving up due to things that aren't even harmful, and also realize that irrational psychological flaws are things that should and in many cases can be overcome (I know, I've done it), not taken as unshakeable premises.

comment by Davorak · 2011-06-29T07:19:17.102Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understood/understand that was/is your point. I was referring to "select people", meaning people who are more sensitive to reduced food intake or photo sensitive. People not near the mean of the bell curve.

realize that irrational psychological flaws are things that should and in many cases can be overcome (I know, I've done it), not taken as unshakeable premises.

I know I have done it too. However I can not put "psychological flaws" in the right context to understand exactly what you mean by it, since it is not always possible to just try harder to change some physical structures that cause said psychological flaws.

It is awesome when trying harder fixes the problem. The problem is not always not trying hard enough or lack of motivation, it can because an organ is slowly dying in your body, or you produce proteins in a different as of yet unmeasurable way due to a quirk of genetics, or one of many other hard to diagnoses and solve problems.

If you want to engage Alicorn on her level or lack thereof of effort your should be asking for a detailed description of what she has tried and for how long, but I have not observed you doing that.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-28T13:42:25.672Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

without a bunch of borderline-crazy restrictions.

As a borderline crazyperson, I take offense to this.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T11:22:55.390Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I should play games (of the video, card, or board variety.) I get told this a lot, by very intelligent people.

Reasons I don't:

  1. I already have a hard time getting work done while having a side project, a relationship, and imperfect discipline; I dread adding another hobby.

  2. It actually takes a lot of work to get good at a game, and if I'm putting in work, I want to have something to show for it.

  3. Certain kinds of video games (i.e. Portal) are viscerally unpleasant for me; I'm not used to navigating a 3d virtual environment since I never played video games as a kid, and so I spend all my time bumping into walls and wondering why other people pay for the privilege.

  4. I could maybe justify poker to myself as useful practice in strategic thinking, but the only people who'd want to play with me live out of town.

comment by erratio · 2011-07-01T11:31:52.896Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For number 2 and 3, my gut reaction is to say you haven't found the right kind of games for your aptitudes, if you're experiencing it as work. For computer games, there are genres which don't rely so much on spatial awareness and/or reflexes such as turn-based strategy. For board games and card games, there is an extremely wide range of play styles out there, some of which will appeal to you more than others.

comment by beoShaffer · 2011-06-29T19:08:02.233Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For 4 is internet poker an option?

comment by BenLowell · 2011-06-29T12:26:16.561Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see no reason for you to play games unless you wish to discuss games with these people and have something in common with them.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T13:58:06.262Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Benefits of playing games:

  • Improved hand-eye coordination
  • Strategic puzzle solving skills
  • Decreased stress level
  • By far, more mentally engaging than television or movies, which are passive entertainment
  • introspection in choice-morality games
  • by Playing Like a Designer you can learn how to use gamelike elements in non-game environments (like the classroom) to make them more fun

See also:

Role-playing games can also have some of the same benefits (albeit much less salient) as improv theater and rejection therapy. Which is more fun, getting rejected by a dozen people you don't know to have a conversation, or having your level eight human rogue get rejected a dozen times in a bar?

For all of the above, however, YMMV.

comment by Halceon · 2011-06-30T13:25:21.532Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For #1 you can combine games with other activities, mainly the relationship. Playing boardgames together is a delightful experience. Especially games that require direct interaction like Alias. Generally you should look for games with 2 players as the minimum requirement and a low setup/ cleanup time.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-01T15:55:43.281Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you specifically want to overcome issue 3, spending some time in Second Life might do the trick. It uses a 3D environment, but it's not really a game per se - there's no time limits or negative repercussions to making mistakes, except looking like a doofus which 1) is expected of newbies and 2) can be mitigated by finding uninhabited places to wander around in, which is easy. Also, your viewpoint can be separated from your avatar if you're not actively moving around, so if you find yourself stuck, you can swing your camera around to get a different perspective on the obstacle, which might help. You can also teleport 'home' to get un-stuck at any time.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-30T14:00:59.296Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For number 1, single-instance games. An RPG with 30 hours in the MAIN storyline and 100 more in optional sidequests would probably not be your ideal. But drop-in, drop-out type gaming might be better. TF2 is one I've started playing, especially since it's free. And the learning curve is fairly gentle, especially with tutorials. Find a class you like, play it until you're comfortable. Then find another. The only issue is that it would require a sufficient investment in hardware if you don't have it already.

Playing on (and joining, if you're so inclined) is another option. Some "hardcore" gamers look down on flash gaming as a lesser form, but I've seen some wonderfully crafted games on Kong. They have a rating system and actual submission criteria. They don't accept any crap, so the quality of games are better.

There's also a lot of puzzle games, so the whole learning-something-gathering-skills-while-playing area is covered.

For number 4... it requires a larger number of people, but it's a decent party game: Liar's Dice. Yes, Liar's Dice as seen in Pirates of the Carribean. All you need is at least 5 dice per player (dollar store in bulk, you can probably spend only a dollar per player) and some dice cups (I cut down and taped up some paper cups.) Deception, strategy, all the elements of poker. Just with some added novelty.

comment by Halceon · 2011-06-30T14:31:13.985Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't recommend Team Fortress 2 to someone with problems with 3D virtual environments. Nor to someone with discipline problems.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-30T14:41:48.400Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I took the specification of Portal to mean more highly visually disorienting games. It's why I didn't recommend Mirror's Edge. Maybe I parsed it incorrectly? If so, yes. Yes you do have a point there.

And I didn't really find it all that gripping, in the getting-addicted-to-it sense. I am generalizing from my own personal experiences here though, so I may be an outlier, where the majority of players do get sucked in?

My reasoning is more that there's no real plot. You don't need to "finish" the game, you can just play it whenever and it is just as satisfying from an entertainment standpoint.

shrugs I will take your dissent as evidence, however. I am quite new to the game.

comment by Halceon · 2011-07-04T14:00:27.989Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, TF2 doesn't seem like a disorienting game per se, but the generally fast pace of the game can and probably will add to the disorientation.

Personally I wouldn't call it addictive either. But from the sample of people I have around me, I'd say that games with instanced gameplay tend to take up a lot more time than expected, especially if the next round is loaded automatically. It's what I like to call the "One more level" problem. Every round is relatively short, but the number of rounds has a slight tendency to get out of hand.

comment by DriveByCommenter · 2011-06-30T15:28:54.816Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Procrastination is making me miss a lot of opportunities. Up to and including (in progress): having a chance at anchoring myself in a first-world country vs blowing it and having to return to eastern Europe.


  1. High initial anxiety when sitting down to start a project. Related to #2.

  2. Low confidence in own abilities after so many mediocre last-minute solutions in the past.

  3. No social support - no friends interested in programming.

  4. Additional anxiety due to being behind schedule with 3-4 items - article, internship work, internship report, learning a framework to try and get a job at company I'm interning at. Also, haven't made proper Plan B, C arrangements in case I don't get the job (again due to anxiety).

It's this annoying vicious circle of anxiety and procrastination I can't seem to get out of. Any takers? PJ Eby's comments on akrasia were interesting, but we go back to the issue of bootstrapping enough motivation/confidence to do the actions required to get the ball rolling.

comment by kurokikaze · 2011-06-30T16:43:09.115Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1, 2, 3 - You can get into opensource social coding like Github or Bitbucket. This will improve your coding skills and make you some coder friends to help with tough questions (worked for me). Time constraint is harder to deal with.

comment by CuSithBell · 2011-06-30T17:04:00.045Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you mind expanding on this a little? These websites look like version control / project management systems, how does one jump into the "public" projects you're talking about?

comment by kurokikaze · 2011-06-30T21:41:34.411Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's simple. I'll show on one example.

I was interested in Sphinx search server, so I've decided to do its protocol implementation in javascript (for node.js).

I've created project on github and got remote URL. Then I've created folder on local disk and started coding. Reverse-enginereed PHP Sphinx connector, written some JS code, commited it to local Git repo. Next step: add remote URL to git repo. After this I can push my changes to Github with "git push remote master", where "master" is the branch name. And voila, project is on the Github.

Then I write some more code and get first working prototype. I announced it in node.js Google group to attract another developers to project. They watch, comment on commits (not often) and send pull requests for code via Github (more often). Then I decide if I need the patch and apply / modify+apply / decline patch. Someone can fork my project if they feel I won't add some feature they need or I'm too lazy updating the code.

Basically, that's it.

comment by CuSithBell · 2011-06-30T22:08:37.012Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Awesome, thanks :)

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-30T18:48:43.626Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

2) Do small, quick projects to build confidence. Write a calculator to compute Bayesian probabilities, or an alarm clock. Start small! Once you're comfortable with that, pick a simple game (Checkers, TicTacToe), break it down in to "issues", and slowly work on finishing each one. Just focus on "draw a board" first, then "allow player to place marks", then "alternate between two players", and finally "check for victory". If you're feeling comfortable after all of that, feel free to write an AI to play the game, or pick a more complex game like Chess or Go and implement that.

This is a lot of how I built up my own skills. I also downloaded open source video games and went through their source code to see how they implemented it. For some games, you'll learn what not to do. For others, you'll see some fairly advanced techniques illustrated. Quality varies :)

For #3, after I'd done #2 for a while, I started offering patches to open source games, as well as joining a development team for one that was incomplete. I'm not real sure exactly how you'd go about finding an interesting project; I usually just happen upon them because I want to fix a bug in LessWrong source, or a friend had discovered a new board game and the only computer version isn't finished yet, etc. :)

#1 Is probably helped dramatically by addressing the others. Small, manageable chunks help me when I'm running in to this. Having a specific "to do" list that I can go through methodically is also wonderful. "Program TicTacToe" makes me anxious, but "draw a tic tac toe grid" is something I could do in my sleep. As an added bonus, I get to check things off a list, which is a guilty pleasure of mine ^_^

I personally use GoogleCode for storing everything. It's got nice built-in SVN support and issue tracking, which works wonderfully for me. If you're not yet used to using SVN for source control, it's a great way to learn :)

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T15:55:00.274Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just as an aside and a note to all giving the recommendations and advice... focus on First Order Optimal Strategies.

Sure self-editing to not have your rejections be rejections anymore, by training the habit over the course of a few months to a year or more MAY work, and may work very well. But it's not the strategy that has the lowest skill/effort input to highest power/effect output ratio.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-29T16:55:52.443Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What sort of strategies would you say give the best leverage?

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T17:29:41.282Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can only really think of specific examples to specific cases, but things that take minimal effort, yet still give fairly high returns when compared to other low-effort strategies.

If the task is "eat vegetables" and the restrictions are money, proximity to store, spoils too quickly, and no freezer, then an example of something that is NOT a FOO strategy would be to sell your property, move to or purchase a farm, start growing your own vegetables and eat those ones, while selling the excess to buy a better freezer.

Clearly, I'm using hyperbole here, but you get the picture. You can't deny that that that IS a valid method to gain access to vegetables. But it's not first-order optimal. First order optimal would be to buy incrementally as you need the vegetables, when doing other activities in the same day that brings you close to the store.

A Non-FOO strategy for "excercise more" would be to drop work and all other activities and begin a olympic-level training regimen. A FOO strategy would be to incorporate excerse into regular daily activities (stairs, biking instead of driving, etc.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-27T20:14:26.455Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Suggestion: If you have financial constraints for your solution, be specific.

If there's a known cost for a solution, check financial constraints to make sure the cost doesn't exceed them.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-29T07:18:39.086Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This may not have been as good advice as it appears. I posted it because I was annoyed at the suggestion of a Roomba for someone who was very broke, but the result of the suggestion was information that it's possible to borrow a Roomba for one day for free.

There may be a general principle to be found, but I don't know what it is.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-29T07:41:02.199Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"If many people are giving advice, and your advice is flawed, give it anyway; other people may correct the flaws."?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-29T07:45:27.163Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The thing is, we want to limit pointlessly annoying advice, and the larger the volume of advice, the heavier the burden of noise,.

Perhaps something like "is there a way to get access to whatever?" is a good format.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-27T00:42:19.464Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Things I really need to do but can't seem to make myself do them:

there are clothes rotting in my washing machine. I had a migraine and couldn't hang them up, and the migraine lasted about a week, and now there's fungus growing on them. I've read online that this can be fixed by washing them 3-4 times and then hanging them in the sun to dry. Adding vinegar to the washing machine can help. The washing machine is right next to the bathtub, and I can't bathe properly because the smell is overpowering and makes me dizzy and light headed.

1) I'm still sore and constantly on the verge of a migraine. There's no guarantee that if I start a load I'll be able to hang it up.

2) Medicines sometimes help the migraines but not very much. I mostly have to ride them out. It may be a week yet till I can be sure that I can hang it up to dry.

3) There are noise restrictions in my building, so I can't make lots of noise after 8pm. This means that I'd need to get up early in order to wash the clothes. I got up early for a few days, but it made the headache worse, and it rained anyway, so not much sunlight.

4) I think the real reason is that when I do eventually take them out of the washing machine (having been washed X more times), I will have to touch them with my hands.

5) I can't really afford to replace them. Some of the items in the washing machine I could get over losing (I do have other shirts), but others are items I don't own enough of as it is.

6) i am very allergic to bleach and have trouble breathing if i walk through an area where it was used within the last half hour. so i cannot use it on my clothes. but vinegar should do the trick.

7) if i leave it much longer, the fungus will eat holes in my clothes. and leave stains. but some of the articles of clothing may not be too stained any may be wearable around the house, once they are fungus free.

Similarly, the floor in the apartment is filthy. Absolutely filthy. Covered in all sorts of stuff. It's a really hard carpet to clean (you have to brush it to coax the dirt out before you can vacuum it, or the vacuum doesn't do anything). But vacuum cleaners are loud and the noise would drive my pain levels up even higher. i can't vacuum, because i would have to devote an entire day to it (literally. have done so in the past and it still wasn't fully clean, just cleaner), and i dont have the stamina for a day of it. this is really the same problem as the laundry except that it's less bad and less urgent.

comment by jimrandomh · 2011-06-27T03:47:12.951Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are clothes rotting in my washing machine. I had a migraine and couldn't hang them up, and the migraine lasted about a week, and now there's fungus growing on them. I've read online that this can be fixed by washing them 3-4 times and then hanging them in the sun to dry. Adding vinegar to the washing machine can help. The washing machine is right next to the bathtub, and I can't bathe properly because the smell is overpowering and makes me dizzy and light headed.

Do not fuck around with possibly-toxic fungus. The fact that the fumes have immediate negative effects strongly suggests that it's toxic. Do not ignore sudden health problems that coincide with the appearance of mold in your environment, especially not ones as severe as a perpetual migraine. Those clothes are probably not salvageable, but they should be the least of your worries. You need outside help cleaning your apartment, and you need it yesterday. You also need a physical.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T03:33:15.499Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This comment was really helpful to me. Thank you. Googling "toxic fungus" was sufficiently scary to get me out of "what is it about laundry that i'm just not understanding that caused this to happen" mode (answer: there is nothing about laundry that i don't "understand". i also have long been aware of what fungus is and what conditions foster its growth, but was unable to prevent those conditions from occuring because of health problems, which the fungus exacerbated), and made me realise the flaw in my: "wait till i'm feeling better and then deal with it" strategy.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T01:56:47.542Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

More information about your situation might be useful here. My first suggestion is to see if you can find someone local to help you with it (friends, family), but that seems like an obvious enough solution that I expect that if it were that simple you'd have done it already. So, what resources do you have available?

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T02:15:57.987Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seconded. This looks like a job for another human. Where are you staying at, pthalo?

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T02:48:48.199Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

southern Hungary. A bit of a swim from the location listed in your profile, it seems. :)

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T10:06:49.643Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yea. With migraines like that it is unreasonable to expect that you should be able to do anything like this on your own. Please get help before you get sick from the unsanitary conditions.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T02:47:15.133Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I will try. I really did think there was some simple answer that I was missing that would enable me to do it on my own, like everyone does, but i wasn't accounting for the fact that the people who manage to stay on top of their laundry dont have disabling migraines.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T02:40:33.136Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a mother who lives very far away, who would spend money she didnt have to come help me if she knew, but I'd feel very guilty about the whole thing.

My best friend is currently at a summer camp like training thing for a new job and following that is moving to Budapest (2 hour train ride away) with her boyfriend (my other friend). So they're very busy right now and currently unavailable, and they've helped me out so much with other things in the past, that I dont want to be a burden on them. I'm ashamed of the condition of the apartment, but I know they would be understanding.

i have a religious community, but the last time i was very sick, in 2009, (3 weeks of influenza + 3 weeks of strep throat), I asked for help getting to a doctor (I had a high fever, was sleeping 22 hours a day, could not keep even a small sip of water down, and was terrified that i was going to die of dehydration). They helped me get to a doctor and get antibiotics and medicine to help me keep things down, but while they were here, they took one look at my flat (a mess. i was too busy throwing up to keep things tidy) and wrote my mother a letter saying that i was clearly mentally ill because of disarray I was living in which reflects an inner disarray of mind and emotion and my mother was so worried that she flew out to see me (which she could not afford to do), but by the time she got here I had mostly recovered and I made an effort to show her that I was okay, not having a nervous breakdown, was a little weak after a physical illness which had led to the mess that had been there (all tidied up in a frenzy that i wasn't really well enough to do before my mother arrived), and that i did not need to be taken back to live with her where she could ensure that i find a good psychiatrist, because the antibiotics had cleared up the "mental illness" just fine, thank you. i succeeded. This experience has made me much less willingly to reach out for help from the people involved (and it's a small community, so pretty much everyone was involved). (Their reaction has no basis in our scriptures, which say that when you are sick you should seek the best medical advice available to you and obey it. But the pseudoscience is strong in the individuals in question.)

My neighbours are mostly elderly and I would feel improper asking them to clean up my messes for me. My landlady is a dear, knows about my migraines, and if she knew I was in trouble would probably be able to find someone who could help. She's seen my flat in disarray before (she took care of my pets when I very suddenly had to go help my mother recover from a surgery (she recovered well)). It's mostly shame that keeps me from reaching out to people I know. And expecting other people (even those who seem trustworthy -- after all, I'd known those religious people for a years) to assume I'm mentally ill instead of helping.

My girlfriend also lives far away (we're planning to get gay marriaged and move in together, but there are a lot of logistics to sort out because her country is difficult to move to, and Hungarian is a very hard language to learn (and there are other, valid reasons that mean it would make more sense for me to move there. It will probably be another year yet till I can move. Even though we are engaged, it will take many months for the visa to be processed, and before that there a million and one hoops I have to jump through (health checks, background checks, saving up money, and more) to get the 60+ pages of forms filled out and submitted. she is available daily on skype for moral support, and can tell me when I'm overthinking things. (Until I got all these responses, I really did think that there was just some basic step to laundry washing that everyone but me knew and I was stuck going over the steps in my head trying to figure out how to get into a universe where I do not have frequent, sudden, unpredictable headaches that lead to situations like these. this step by step analysis of all of a problem is great for identifying the racing condition that is causing the bug in the code I'm writing. But it's not useful for simple things like laundry where I understand the steps of putting clothes in, adding detergent, and taking them out, and can't think my way into a situation where my clothes aren't rotting in the washing machine.

I didn't sleep last night (was too panicked about the washing machine), but today my girlfriend talked me into running it a couple times. I set it to 60°C, added extra detergent and vinegar, extra fabric softener, and ran it twice, napped, and then woke up to my mother calling to tell me to expect a phone call from my sister (who also lives far away), and I had wanted to wash it a couple more times before trying to take anything out. But I couldn't, because I wouldn't be able to hear my sister on the phone if the washer was going. She didn't call till 11pm, so tomorrow I'll wash them a few more times. I peeked after the second wash, and the fungus is no longer visisble, and the smell has decreased and was no longer dizzying. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to wash them a few more times, and if I can, I will try to take them out. If I can't, I'm not sure what I'll do. But I figure that the washing does seem to have killed at least some of the fungus which will make them safer to handle when I get to the point of deciding whether to put them into a trash bag and carry them downstairs to the bins or whether some of them are safe.

It might be possible to wash them daily, and then when I hit a day where my pain levels are lower I can take them out and make a decision. This does seem like a tremendous waste of water, detergent, and fabric softener, and my financial resources are not unlimited . But it's summer, and hot, and 82% humidity, and I left out a bowl of ramen noodles that I couldnt finish last week and it grew visible fungus within 8 hours. so it's the season where everything will rot if i'm not on the ball all the time, which i cant be. And comments here have made me realise that my usual strategy of "wait till i'm feeling well and then deal with it" won't work if the thing that needs dealing with is actively making me sick, which it might well be.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T07:28:37.426Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

8-hours to grow fungus on cooked food seems far too fast.

I am not an expert on this. You should find an expert on this either here or in your local community to look at conditions in your apartment.

My concern is that you may have fungus/mold elsewhere in your apartment (perhaps behind the dry-wall i.e. in the walls) or elsewhere, and that this fungus is releasing spores that're growing in your ramen.

As a preliminary measure, I suggest improving the ventilation by keeping the windows open and maybe the front door to create a cross-breeze.

Do you have access to a free medical expert like a doctor or clinic? I would go there as soon as possible and tell them about the fungus growing on your clothes, growing on your ramen after 8 hours, as well as your migraines and any other problems. They may be able to contact the correct authorities if there is a public health hazard.

Once again, I am not an expert and have little direct knowledge about this; however, in all my experience living in very hot and humid climates I've never seen fungus grow on cooked food left out over 8 hours. I hope the other LWers here can provide better clarity into whether my concern is valid.

comment by saturn · 2011-06-28T08:42:18.565Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not an expert either, but I think there's enough evidence to be pretty certain there's a problem. I don't know whether the authorities in Hungary are likely to be helpful, or what kinds of cleaning services are available or how much they cost. It might even be worth moving to a different apartment.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T08:02:00.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it was food left out of refrigeration as well. I've never really thought of ramen as cooked food -- it was heated in the microwave for the required time, though, so I suppose you're right.

Humidity has been around 80-90% recently, and the temperature that day was probably no higher than 30. The amount of growth was small -- just a few clusters less than a centimetre in diametre, but black and definitely fungus. I put it on the opposite side of the room where it wouldn't be near me and let it grow a little longer and it was covered within a few days.

The building is made entirely of concrete. If you think of a stereotypical cold war era eastern european apartment building, you'll get the idea, though ours has been prettied up (insulated, new windows put in, painted cheerfully) by the city. The walls in this room are hard to the touch, but in my bedroom, the wall is slightly spongy, but not visibly damaged in any way. The sponginess is uniform throughout and feels like I'm pressing against styrofoam instead of concrete. I assumed it was some sort of insulation.

I live on the fifth floor with cats and have no fly screens. There are shutters in the bedroom, so I leave the windows open and the shutters closed, so that air can get in, but cats can't get out. The window in this room leads to a balcony, though, which the cats are scared of because they don't like the noises from the street, so I can open the window in here as well if I keep an eye on them. They really like sitting on windowsills, though, so I'm careful about that. The cats aren't allowed in the kitchen (enforced by a closed door), so I can leave windows open there. I can also air out different rooms alternately with closed doors.

This is what the fungus looks like that was on my clothes: I managed to wash it twice yesterday, which decreased the smell and made the spots go away. I want to wash it a few more times before deciding what to do, and I think washing will kill at least enough of the spores to make it safe for me to throw them out, if I deem them unsalvageable.

There is a doctor I know of who would see me for free that I could go to. I've lived here for almost three years, and I really like my landlady. Also, I'm planning to move in with my girlfriend in about a year. It can't be sooner, because it will take a long time for my visa application to be processed. I am still at the satge where I have to run around and gather things for the application, but health problems makes it difficult. I want to improve my life as much as I can before I can move, but I'm reluctant to do drastic things ilke move out when I know I'll be moving again so soon.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T08:33:22.160Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If your health deteriorates further then you will not be able to complete your planned move, much less do something drastic like move now.

If your environment has toxic fungus, you cannot live for a year there and expect to be in any condition to move, to apply for a visa, or perhaps to be out of the hospital. I am trying not to be alarmist, and would very much like the opinion of better informed readers on the relative danger/safety of your situation, but you need to examine how much you weigh the inconvenience of moving or doing something about the problem versus your health or existential risks.

I've moved four times in the last three years across three continents. I've been lucky enough to not be coping with migraines and to have enough cashflow to make it work. I only mention it to point out that it is eminently feasible.

Is there anyone you can stay with for say a week to see if your condition improves vis-a-vie the migraines?

comment by satt · 2011-06-28T17:22:28.725Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Humidity has been around 80-90% recently, and the temperature that day was probably no higher than 30.

I don't know whether you can afford it, but it may help to buy a dehumidifier to lower the humidity in & near your kitchen. That should make it harder for mould to grow successfully.

A new one costs £100-200 here (which Google's currency converter says is about 30k-60k HUF), but they should last for 3-10 years, so the cost is amortized over quite a long time. The only maintenance they should need is being emptied daily (maybe twice a day in a very humid environment), which only takes a couple of minutes.

Edit: of course, before you buy one, it's probably a good idea to borrow one from a friend or hire one so you can test it for a few weeks and see if there's an improvement first.

comment by Unnamed · 2011-06-28T05:46:12.153Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


It sounds like you're living in a toxic environment which is making you sick. Does that fit your experience (is your history of illness - migraines, etc. - concentrated in the time when you've been living in your current apartment)? So find a new place to live. And be careful what you bring - you don't want to bring the toxic stuff with you.

As a trial run, you could try staying someplace else for a week or so to see if you feel better. Bring as little with you as possible (even the clothes you wear should be new/borrowed), and don't go back to your apartment at all during that time.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T08:23:47.453Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am planning to move in about a year's time, to live with my girlfriend who I'm engaged to and live together. I cannot move sooner because to move in with her, I need to apply for a partner visa, and then wait for it to be processed. It is theoretically possible to move somewhere else, in the interim, but it's only a year, and I don't think I have the energy to move right now. Also, I really like my landlady. She's the kindest person I know. My previous apartments were much worse. At the last one, I was attacked and then stalked by a neighbour and the landlady talked to me about the commandment not to commit adultery (neither of I nor the neighbour are married.) Before that things were kinda okay for five months, then the landlady had "new ideas for the apartment" and I had to move into the first place I found. Before that I was living with an aunt would say to me without warning "we're going somewhere in an hour. wash [explicit list of body parts including private ones] but dont wash your hair or [random list of body parts]." and never mind if I already had plans (like a class to go to or something). There was more insanity that that, this is just an example. And before that there was a mother who was worse than the aunt. And before that there were two parents, which was the worst of all.

Here, the neighbours say hello in the stairwell and that's it. No one bothers me. I'm not afraid to leave the apartment. My landlady is understanding. So, fungus is a step up. and there will be another step up in a year when I get to live with the girl of my dreams.

I have two cats that can't be abandoned for a week, and im not sure where i'd go anyway.

comment by Unnamed · 2011-06-28T17:40:41.196Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To summarize your situation, it sounds like your apartment has a serious mold/fungus problem which is causing your health issues.

If you're not confident that this is true you could test it to be sure (e.g., by living someplace else for a week), but if you accept that it's true then you can plan the next step. You have a few options:

Option 1 is for you to move. It will take some work, but it's something that you know how to do (you've done it before) and it's the surest way to get away from the fungus. You could get other people to help you.

Option 2 is to try to rid your apartment of the fungus. That is also going to be a lot of work, and it involves technical knowledge/skills which you don't have (it's not just a matter of some vacuuming and dusting). There is probably information about it online, or you could try to find an expert to help or at least advise you. You also don't know if it will succeed - you might just reduce the amount of fungus, only to have it grow right back. If you go for this option you should get help, probably including the help of the landlady, since it is her apartment (and it sounds like she'll want to help).

Option 3 is to do nothing and stay in your apartment for the next year. If you do that, your health probably won't get any better. Migraines, lack of energy, difficulty doing things - those problems will all continue. They might even get worse with continued exposure, or cause more permanent problems (I don't know what the exact risks are - that's something else to look up online or check with experts on). (Unless your health problems have been seasonal - then they might become somewhat less bad in the winter and then blossom again in the spring.) You'd be choosing another year of more of the same, and it will continue to be hard to do the things that you're planning - the visa application, moving, getting married. If you try option 2 and don't do a good enough job of it, it could easily collapse into option 3.

comment by saturn · 2011-06-27T08:25:41.984Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You could use hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach. It's not as effective as a disinfectant but it's odorless, cheap, and probably a lot more effective than vinegar. If you get 3% concentration (the most common) you'll probably need to pour a whole bottle over the clothes, then wait an hour or two.

Depending on what's underneath the carpet, you could consider just removing it.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T03:44:46.320Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's an idea. I'll look for some hydrogen peroxide next time I'm at a store.

I would love nothing better than to rip out this carpet. Even if there was nothing but concrete underneath it, I would gladly consider that infinitely better than this mess of crumbs, kitty litter that the cat kicked out of the box, cat hair, human hair, cat vomit, cigarette ash, dust, the microscopic creatures that feed on all of that, and their poo. It's an ugly orange colour that was fashionable when it was installed over 30 years ago. In some places, it's threadbare. It's a nylon carpet, which means it holds onto hair and dust and won't let it go.

I'm a renter, though, so it's not my decision. I'm not sure if getting rid of the carpet (and replacing it with nothing but the bare concrete underneath it) would devalue the property ("carpeted" sounds so nice and soft under your feet -- though this the carpet is neither) or increase its value (it really is a terrible carpet). I might bring it up with the landlady, but I'm tempted to just put up with it for the year or so longer that i'll be here before i can move in with my girlfriend.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-27T11:13:47.844Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As others have mentioned get help. If you have no friends who can do it look on Craigslist for someone who cleans houses. Explain the situation to them and have them bring their steam cleaner.

While the clothes are washing have them steam clean your carpets at least twice.

Then when you get done paying this off, go get a good vacuum cleaner, and if you are the sort of person who's always tracking in dirt (I am) get a cheap carpet shampooer.

Also--have to comment--the migraine thing really should be your focus. My wife gets these and absolutely refuses to do the food/activity diary thing, is horrible about exercise and the rest. Fortunately for her she only has them for a day or two about once a month.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T04:37:43.577Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We don't have Craigslist in Hungary, but we have a newspaper for classified ads that posts the ads online as well. I could search that to see if anyone's advertising something. My landlady has a steam cleaner and has said I can borrow it sometime.

I always take off my shoes at the door, but the cats get hairballs (I give them special treats to cut down on hairballs, which seems to help, but not 100%), and accidents happen, so some sort of shampoo might work.

I wrote a small program in PHP/MYSQL for keeping track of my migraines. You list what you ate that day, what (and how much) you drank, how much you slept and between what hours, pain levels, other complaints, and a few other things. It keeps track of your menstrual cycle as well (if you're doing it every day, there's a checkbox to check on the first day of the cycle). It then lets you sort by any of those criteria so that you can look back over the data and try to make sense of it. It's not hosted online anywhere (i was never done tinkering with it, and i never added anything like a login form or support for multiple users, so you have to have a server with php and mysql set up on your computer to run it. I kept track of it for a while, but then started forgetting more and more and I had no idea how to analyse the data I'd amassed (and probably would've needed more data anyway). Also, I wasn't sure if I was asking the right questions (or enough of the right questions). A big source of my migraines was the bad mattress I was sleeping on, which wasn't even in that data. Getting a new mattress earlier this year helped a lot, but things have started to get bad again (though now at least, I know I'm sleeping well on a good mattress).

comment by Unnamed · 2011-06-28T07:49:47.606Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A big source of my migraines was the bad mattress I was sleeping on, which wasn't even in that data. Getting a new mattress earlier this year helped a lot, but things have started to get bad again (though now at least, I know I'm sleeping well on a good mattress).

Maybe the problem was the stuff living on the mattress, rather than the mattress itself. And now it's grown back.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T10:31:56.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, here's one solution that may solve a couple of your problems. Redo your migraine log such that you can have individual logins/tracking, then wrap a social community around it. Crowd source (to use a buzzword) your migraine issue and figure out a way to both help others and have others help you.

There will be no simple way to analyze your data other than to sit down and look for patterns. Play with different ways of looking it it.

Heck, it COULD be related to your not eating enough. Low blood sugar is one headache trigger (for me), and chronic low blood sugar plus smoking could EASILY be a problem.

Looking down thread it very well could ALSO be a mold or other environmental issues.

If you're planning on moving out of the country in a year or two, what is the possibility of you just going to live with your mom or sister until your visa/travel arrangements are fixed? This may alleviate your financial problems (you can always pay your mom/sister "rent" but it will be less than you are paying now), get you into a cleaner place (which might clear up some of your health issues) and get you to a point where you focus on quitting the smokes (which is about the toughest thing I've ever done, to include US Marine Corps boot camp and a year in Baghdad).

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T16:16:19.816Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've sent an overview of your situation to all my friends who are doctors or training to be doctors. I will let you know their opinion. (I've also included information from your meat and vegetables post).

I strongly suggest you do not wait for them to get back to me and consult with local experts as soon as possible.

Also, if anyone in the LW community has medical training or knows someone who does who would be willing to offer an opinion on this, I encourage them to do so.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-29T14:33:29.585Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So far have gotten back responses from two doctors / doctors-in-training. They both strongly suggest seeing a social worker to find out what resources are available vis-a-vie cleaning your apartment, improving your living situation, etc.

They also suggest you might take vitamin B and folate supplements, but you should check with your doctor to see if you have any deficiencies that may be contributing to your chronic pain and tiredness (as you mentioned in the eating vegetables and meat post).

Finally, there are a number of follow-up questions. You don't need to answer all of these, and ultimately what matters is that you see your doctor, but if you want here they are. Feel free to respond by PM.

  1. Is the chronic pain a recent or long-term problem?

  2. Are the migraines a recent or long-term problem?

  3. Are you depressed? Do you have a history of depression?

  4. Any history of eating disorders?

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T02:28:09.676Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For the unnumbered reason of potentially getting another migraine by having to do the laundry, and just in general to get past this rut/problem: Ask a friend or family member for assistance with the task. Alternately, offer someone money to do your laundry (an amount less than the cost of replacing the clothes).

For 4 specifically, maybe try wearing gloves (dishwashing gloves or latex gloves) to avoid touching the mold/fungus directly.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-27T03:09:09.251Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could a face mask and nose plugs help with exposure to the fungus?

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T10:35:03.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Google "N95 mask".

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T02:59:24.213Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I could hold some clean cotton underwear to my face as well, which helps when the kitty litter is stinky, though that would leave me one handed, so if i can find some, your solution will probably help.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T02:56:29.906Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

These are good suggestions. I will try. I've made some progress (girlfriend talked me into running it a few times without opening the drum to touch the scary stuff, and the smell has gone down and the fungus has decreased) since the taking it out is the risky part (it can be fairly loud, but i mostly cant hear it if i close the door to the bathroom and also the one to the hallway), killing some of the fungus, even though i couldnt take it out today, was a useful activity that may buy me more time and will make it safer to handle the clothes when I am feeling well enough to either hang them out or put them in a large trash bag.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T16:20:32.700Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re: vacuuming when you are physically unable.

I strongly recommend an iRobot vacuum cleaner (roomba). It will vacuum for you.

By the sound of it, your carpet is badly ingrained with dirt, so the vacuum will not get it all out in one day - but if you set it to vacuum every day (which few humans would normally do voluntarily, but the roomba doesn't mind) it is highly likely that over time it will improve until "clean" it a normal state for it.

comment by Chroma · 2011-06-28T07:22:27.829Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another benefit: Having a robo-vacuum on a schedule forces you to get in the habit of picking objects (papers, clothing) up off the floor.

But pets, smoking, and moldy clothes? Ick. A robot vacuum isn't going to put a dent in that.

pthalo: Think of your pets. They probably don't enjoy living in that environment. You owe it to them to make your home pleasant.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:15:59.574Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another benefit: Having a robo-vacuum on a schedule forces you to get in the habit of picking objects (papers, clothing) up off the floor.

Yes - though I'll admit that I discovered the "floor mess" easily becomes "chair and table mess" without having to actually put the things away... Still - it's a step in the right direction. :)

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-29T15:54:52.952Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"floor mess" easily becomes "chair and table mess" without having to actually put the things away...

Here is someone's solution to that problem. I haven't tried it, so I can't personally vouch for it, but it seems likely to work in most cases.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-30T08:06:32.463Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Looks pretty awesome, actually. Quite a sensible progression, and looks like it would indeed be a good way of keeping up with the most important bits.

Though I must say, I have much more than just one laundry-basket of "stuff" to put away - and nowhere to put it away (only one cupboard in my little flat right now). When I get back to Australia and normal-sized apartments, I'll be able to keep up with that part, and will simply adapt it for now.

This related one seems good for sorting out mess: the taxonomy of mess

I wonder how frequently she goes through this progression, and how long it takes her. It sounds like it's her weekend schedule. Part of what puts me off housework is that there are so many other things I'd rather be doing... I know that's the same for everybody, but still.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T05:01:20.242Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

woah, that is so totally cool. Expensive -- more than a month's rent and utilities combined, but seriously cool.

Also, they sell them in my country -- even in my city, and the webpage says they have a promotion thing where you can borrow it for a night and then take it back the next day for free -- under the idea that a person would be sold on the idea and wouldnt want to go back to their old vacuum cleaner. So, basically, I could get my carpet cleaned for free, and then give it back. If the thing would clean it thoroughly (and I'd be willing to babysit it for a night if it needed to be emptied frequently), it's possible that it could get enough of the ingrained dirt out that i could make reasonable progress with regular vacuuming.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:04:53.697Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like that idea. Yes you could do it in a night. It'll seem frustrating if you watch it (because it ha a random walk algorithm)- so don't. Just let it do its thing and empty it every so often. It will clean your floor so thoroughly that you'll be surprised.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T02:37:23.363Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On 2: What kind of drugs are we talking about that don't help? If you haven't tried triptans, that could be a thing.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T03:24:49.646Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

drugs that don't help:

1) anything over the counter (aspirin, ibuprofin, acetomenicin (sp?), etc.) do not touch my pain levels.

2) coffee can lower my pain levels by a small amount, but i am sensitive to caffeine and use it sparingly.

3) i have some (expired) tramadol, which gave me rebound headaches, so i stopped taking it.

4) promethazine used to help a lot, but i think my body got used to it, and now it does nothing.

5) Quarelin (metamizol-sodium, caffeine, drotaverin-hidrochlorid), which is available here, but was taken off the market in most western countries because of a few deaths, does help, but i'm wary of taking it too often or too much. it won't make it all better, but it can take me down from a 7-8 to a 3-4 on my pain scale. i can function at a 4, but stlil have to be careful. I'm useless at an 8.

6) i think they tried some antidepressants as well as a teenager, since i was depressed in addition to the migraines back then, and some antidepressants have been found to help with migraine. (I am no longer depressed), but they didn't help (neither with the depression nor with the migraines). 14 different psychiatric medications were tried, most of them were not approved for use in children, all of them caused bad side effects, and i still have facial twitches which started when I was a 12 year old on zoloft. (i am 27 now). this has made me wary of medication, since most meds cause harm even when they do good, but i am willing to try medications with a patient doctor who understands that if there is a rare side effect (lactation, aphasia, sleeping 18 hours a day, extreme paranoia), I will probably get it and deem it worse than the condition it was meant to treat.

i've never taken the preventative meds for migraines, just the PRN ones.

My access to medical care is somewhat limited by not having insurance (€25 a month), but I know a doctor who is willing to see me even though I don't have a health card and who might be willing to help me access medication at health card rates. Deciding whether to see her and take advantage of this is a moral quandary. On the one hand, I believe this to be stealing and I believe stealing to be absolutely wrong by standards I hold myself to. (It is a black and white issue with regard to my own conduct. I admit to grey areas for other people by assuming they are doing the best they can and making their own choices based on their own moral reasoning.) On the other hand, the citizens, of which I am one, who cannot afford to pay €25 a month for healthcare are the ones who need it the most, the ones for whom preventative healthcare would have vast and far reaching effects beyond their (our) class. And perhaps I would be able to pay the €25 a month for healthcare if I were healthier. The doctor would be at risk for helping me and others like me if they were found out, but the chances of their being found out are small, especially since I have no intention of telling someone who it is that is helping me, and it is their decision to help.

I have accepted help in getting Quarelin in this fashion (it is prescription only, but I prefer the other method of accessing it: going to the pharmacies where the employees won't ask the prescription). But for experimenting with new medications, I would need to make the decision to see a doctor regularly who can evaluate my progress and make adjustments as needed.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-06-27T12:11:38.908Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Watch some episodes of "hoarders". Just a few should provide enough motivation to implement the suggestions of others...

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-25T20:08:06.899Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I should go to more parties and events, and introduce myself to more people, so that I can 'network' and build a base of contacts who might be useful in the future. People who tell me this: my boyfriend.

Reasons I don't: a) I don't actually have all that much fun at parties, compared to the amount of fun I have, for example, singing in church. b) Parties with people in my age group almost always involve alcohol, and it's extremely boring to be the only sober person at a party, and alcohol is expensive. c) I am a morning person, emphatically not a night person. I can occasionally stay up late reading or writing, activities that I can get caught up in, but in social settings I start yawning and getting sleepy and boring around 11 pm. The last thing I want to be doing at 11 pm is getting ready to go to a club. d) I'm not a good dancer and I feel self-conscious in clubs. e) I have a busy enough schedule already.

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T04:41:48.858Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you are thinking about the wrong kinds of parties. In fact, you are solving the wrong problem. If your goal is to network and meet people, there are much much better ways of doing that than going out to parties. Go to local clubs/meet-ups (chess, book, poker, sewing, toast masters, etc...). Meet more people through other people you already know, and through workplace if you have a job. You said you like going to church, do activities with those people. You'll meet new people there. See what fun things they do. Go to those things too.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-26T12:31:16.364Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I probably am solving the wrong fact, I'm solving someone else's problem. I'm solving the problem that my boyfriend likes going to parties and meeting people, and thinks that networking is an indispensable part of university life, and feels his social status increase if he can bring his girlfriend along, suitably dolled up, and show her off. Except that I consistently mess with his plans by not wanting to dress up and by not enjoying parties all that much. I'm pretty happy with the current rate at which I'm meeting people through work (I work at a pool and know pretty much every member who comes in during mornings), school, church, activities like taekwondo, and LessWrong meetups. Granted, most of them aren't my age, but compared to older people, people my age tend to be less interesting anyway.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T00:47:17.109Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like giving your boyfriend what he wants and spending time in a way that is enjoyable to you are things that could be optimized separately.

For example you could show up briefly, armed with an excuse to leave early, at some time you determine in advance. That way he gets to show you off and you don't have to stick around at a party that bores you.

comment by MBlume · 2011-06-28T01:28:38.835Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really do not think it's especially likely that this is a good solution to your problem, and I only mention it because it is one that people tend to reliably refrain-from-thinking-of...

But it does sound like breaking up with your boyfriend and finding one with social preferences more similar to yours would solve most of the named problems.

comment by Kevin · 2011-06-25T23:15:14.686Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

b+c: drink caffeine, not alcohol?

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-26T00:14:28.147Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have considered that. I probably would have more fun. And be more social. Although I enjoy the sensation of being drunk, I tend to be antisocial.

comment by TrE · 2011-06-25T20:42:43.673Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

a) What are you doing at parties, then? You seem to do something wrong. b) Go to a party where not everyone drinks, often quite a few persons will drive home so they won't drink. Alternatively, drive other people home. c) You can shift your sleep schedule by going to sleep 15 minutes (or more) later each day. It's a quite simple mechanism, and it works. d) Simple: attend a dancing course! It's a simple yet valuable skill, worth the money and the time. Alternatively, you could watch tutorials on youtube. e) You don't. You don't want to tell me that you're busy with such other things every single evening. If that really is the case, take one of those activities and either let it fall or do it somewhen (I'll just use this word, I don't care whether it's proper English) else.

Now, because that was your true rejection, it's party time for you. Let your friend take you to a party, and have a good time.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-25T20:54:34.497Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do have fun at some parties, for example pool staff parties with people I've known for years, where all the gossip is relevant to me and I get all the in-jokes. I simply am not extroverted enough to enjoy going to parties where nearly everyone is a stranger, and I have to keep up with my boyfriend's manic introducing-himself-to-people pace. So the real solution is to track down more parties where I'll know the people well, but that reduces the number of people I'll meet, which according to my boyfriend is the point of going to parties.

Your dancing comment is very relevant. I should. I'm currently going swing-dancing once a week, and I should really take a couple of hip-hop classes or something. It would help a lot and I might actually enjoy clubbing then. I do like most of the music they play in clubs.

And no, I'm not busy with things every single evening, but there are an awful lot of days each week when I leave the house first thing in the morning and don't get home until 9 pm, after having been on my feet or in the pool all day and then biking halfway across the city. Yeah, technically my Saturday nights are free, but I'm exhausted, and when I'm exhausted I get antisocial.

comment by TrE · 2011-06-25T21:06:45.268Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So then I was successful at defying d)? That's a start, although I realize that I know your life far worse than you do, which is rather obvious. Your day might be to full, but I can't reliably judge this from afar.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-25T20:45:09.866Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Shifting sleep schedules around by going to sleep later each day does not work for people who are strongly aligned to certain sleep schedules.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-25T20:48:51.821Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or for people who work 6 am shifts multiple times per week, and start work at 9 am the rest of the time. I could conceivably stay up til 2 am partying if I stayed up til 2 am every night and didn't have to get up until 10 every morning, but the real problem is that I can't get up at 5 am on a Friday morning and be able to stay up late on a Friday night. I could conceivably change this by working fewer opening shifts and more evening shifts, but I like getting up early and then having my evenings at home.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T10:40:43.820Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yer a Gurl, if yer buy'n yer own drink yer doin it wrong.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T09:59:04.751Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This thread is getting long enough to be a little inconvenient to monitor, though the bright green edges on new comments help a lot.

Maybe it's time for a True Rejection Challenge, part 2.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-30T13:30:19.222Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. I'd also love to see follow-ups afterwards to report on what was effective, what wasn't, what form of advice worked best, and what would the relevant known and (at the time) hidden variables.

What can I say, I'm a sucker for tracking.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-30T10:36:06.689Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

though the bright green edges on new comments help a lot.

That's what the bright green edges mean!

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T11:53:37.122Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

More specifically, the green edge appears on comment that are new since the last time you refreshed the page.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-06-30T21:18:48.869Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Procedural Knowledge Gaps had almost three times as many comments.

On that note, many props to Alicorn for starting these great instrumental rationality threads.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T14:26:45.118Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That thread was made before we had these green border thingies. They change the rules.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-30T21:44:01.639Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe it's time to bring back Procedural Knowledge Gaps.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T14:25:55.385Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

good idea! Maybe that should be made a monthly thing or somehting.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-30T12:40:44.430Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Actually, this meme is great enough that it should become a monthly thing!

Some intuition is also telling me there is a "mirror" challenge to this one that would complement it and also should have a thread, but I don't know what this one would be. It feels like some fragmented memory of an idea I forgot or somehting like that. I think it might have somehting to do with finding/formulating problems.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T02:31:30.221Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I eat less fruit and vegetables than I should. This seems to mostly or entirely be because I don't reliably alieve that they're food.

This manifests in a few different ways: When shopping, most fruit or veggies or fruit- or veggie-containing things don't register as things that I might consider buying. When choosing something to eat at home, those things don't register as things that I might want to eat. For most fruit and a few veggies, once they're actually in front of me in a ready-to-eat form (which does not include whole fruit), I'll eat them, but getting to that point is unreliable. For most veggies and a few kinds of fruit - including several that I actually like - even when they're in front of me in an edible form I'll automatically eat around them unless I make a conscious effort to do otherwise, which is irritating to do. I would literally find it easier to eat a sheet of paper than a head of broccoli, even though I actually like the taste of broccoli in many contexts.

Adding fruit or veggies to things in such a way that they can't be picked around is a partial solution at best - it doesn't solve the problems of remembering to buy the supplies and actually use them, and if the result smells or tastes like something that registers strongly enough as not-food, I'll have the same kind of hard time eating it. Further complications: I prefer not to put a lot of effort into my meals, and I have trouble swallowing rice, which means that things in the 'frozen rice with broccoli bits and cheese' genre are not good for me to rely on. (Tasty, though.)

I'm not actually sure that this is my true rejection. Even if it is, I'm prickly enough about taking advice that I might reject some on general principles, though I seem to have gotten better about that in the last few years.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T02:53:44.967Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since you say you're prickly about advice, I will try just giving you the reasons for my suggestions and omit the actual suggestions when possible. Please let me know if that way of phrasing is actually helpful, or just annoyingly indirect.

On buying more vegetables

I've heard that people buy more food if they shop while hungry. People also are more likely to interpret more things as edible if they are hungry.

I find I buy more vegetables when I am somewhere that sells primarily vegetables, like a farmer's market. At the farmer's market, there is also the illusion of scarcity since it's a once-a-week stuff (even though I could buy similar things in the grocery store later), so I stock up a lot.

Some friends of mine subscribe to CSA or other vegetable-delivery programs, which takes pretty much all of the effort out of it.

On eating the vegetables you've bought

It is possible to make a meal or part of a meal that is nearly 100% vegetables.

After experimenting with a few methods of preparing them, I found that roasting works for me as a way of preparing solo vegetables; most vegetables taste good to me when coated with olive oil and some light seasoning (and sometimes some grated Romano or Parmagiano cheese), and roasted. It gives them a satisfying, almost meaty/buttery taste. It is also pretty easy and doesn't require a lot of time once I got the timing right and stopped needing to keep peeking into the oven to determine doneness. If you want some more specific roasting suggestions I am happy to provide them. But you may find other preparations are more appealing.

Even if you prefer to mix veggies with non-veggies, I suspect you wouldn't be able to eat around veggies in a smooth or fine-textured soup very easily (e.g. cream of broccoli, carrot soup, gazpacho). And you'd have to decompose a sandwich to avoid eating a cross-section of the ingredients.

Related question: Vegetables are more easily visually identifiable in some foods than others. For example, in something like pasta with broccoli, you can see the broccoli pieces and they are obviously separate from the pasta. On the other hand, in something like a curry or stew, it's not always easy to see which lumps are meat, which lumps are something like potato or cheese, and which lumps are veggies, since they're all covered in sauce. Do you find you eat around the veggies to a different extent in foods that differ along this dimension, or is it a pretty uniform phenomenon?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T03:25:13.318Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since you say you're prickly about advice, I will try just giving you the reasons for my suggestions and omit the actual suggestions when possible. Please let me know if that way of phrasing is actually helpful, or just annoyingly indirect.

Actually helpful. :)

I find I buy more vegetables when I am somewhere that sells primarily vegetables, like a farmer's market.

There is a farmer's market here, but it's hard for me to get to - I don't drive, and it's on the other side of town. I will definitely see about getting a ride over there sometime soon, though - I'd actually forgotten that it's that time of the year again. (Om nom nom blueberries. ^.^)

Some friends of mine subscribe to CSA or other vegetable-delivery programs, which takes pretty much all of the effort out of it.

Last I checked (over a year ago), there wasn't one of those close enough to deliver to me. Also my impression is that they don't allow their customers to customize their orders very much. I should probably check again, though, anyway.

I found that roasting works for me as a way of preparing solo vegetables...

I'll consult Google about this later.

...smooth or fine-textured soup...

This would be hit or miss - there's a very high chance that any soup like that would smell like not-food. (Cream of broccoli soup is one of the contexts in which broccoli smells like not-food, if I remember correctly.)


The problem with this is that most traditional sandwich veggies have a short enough shelf life that it'd be silly for me to buy them - they'd go bad before I remembered to use them. Experimenting with non-traditional sandwich veggies might be useful, though.

Vegetables are more easily visually identifiable in some foods than others. Do you find you eat around the veggies to a different extent in foods that differ along this dimension, or is it a pretty uniform phenomenon?

It can, though soup isn't a good test case - if I know that there are veggies in soup, I'll make a point of identifying any chunks of things before I eat them, and if I don't know that there are veggies in the soup, I'll notice in pretty short order in most cases. What does work is things like casseroles where there aren't obvious chunks at all - and especially if it's not obvious in the construction phase of the casserole that something non-food-ish is being added. Casserole is one of the few contexts where I'll eat mushrooms, for example - they're usually clearly not food, but one of my favorite casseroles involves canned cream of mushroom soup, which is fine so long as I don't think about it too hard, even if I end up finding a mushroom chunk or two, because nothing that looks like mushrooms goes into it.

comment by khafra · 2011-06-27T12:38:54.016Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You may be out of CSA range, but if you're willing to forgo freshness now lets you subscribe to consumable items like this and receive them on a regular basis, for a 15% discount.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T03:30:57.819Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The problem with this is that most traditional sandwich veggies have a short enough shelf life that it'd be silly for me to buy them - they'd go bad before I remembered to use them

Insofar as remembering is important, this might be relevant: I'm experimenting with actually writing up menus for myself in advance. So far it seems to be helping me remember to use up all my vegetables.

There are also veggie-intensive sandwiches. I don't think it would take very many hummus and cucumber sandwiches to use up a small cucumber, for example. A whole red pepper can probably be used up by 2 sandwiches, especially when roasted. Same with avocado (minus the roasting). And wraps can materially increase the veggie-to-bread ratio; you could probably use a whole avocado in a single wrap.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-05T19:30:50.785Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some friends of mine subscribe to CSA or other vegetable-delivery programs, which takes pretty much all of the effort out of it.

There is now a box that smells like the yummy bits of a farmer's market sitting on my stove. Yay!

comment by Benquo · 2011-07-07T01:31:21.772Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yay indeed. It makes we very happy to find out I've given advice someone finds usable. Make sure to also let me know if you tried something and it didn't work.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T10:43:13.118Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What have you actually tried to train your brain to reclassify them?

Example training task: There is a deck containing images of various food items, vegetables/fruits, whatever you currently classify vegetables like (non edible plants maybe?), and completely random objects. Sort it into edible and non-edible piles as fast as possible, without thinking and while maybe listening to an interesting podcast or radio or somehting to distract you.

No idea if that'd work, but if you think up 20 exercises like that at least one of them should work.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-27T15:30:12.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alternate direction: focus in on what's in your mind when you avoid a vegetable. You may be able to discover what's driving the alief that vegetables aren't food.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T15:56:33.860Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems to be exactly the same mechanism that's involved in not eating banana peels and bugs, as far as I can tell. It's not that the mechanism itself is broken, it's that it's using a non-optimal data set that doesn't seem inclined to update easily.

(Hmm... maybe the mechanism for updating the dataset is broken, or generating bad metadata - if it has vegetables tagged as 'technically food, but not good to eat unless there's a famine', that could have the observed results...)

comment by Mass_Driver · 2011-06-28T05:55:18.053Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you medically able to fast? Consuming nothing but water for about, oh, 16 hours (including sleep time) tends to make whatever I eat next taste really good, without triggering nausea based on having discontinued my production of digestive enzymes.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-26T23:59:49.328Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I should stop smoking.

1) I am addicted to nicotine.

2) Nicotine patches are expensive, cigarettes are very cheap.

3) cigarettes supress my appetite and they are cheaper than food. I can smoke 25 cigarettes for the cost of a loaf of bread. it takes me more than a day to smoke that many. if i want to buy things to put on the loaf of bread, we're up to about 3-4 days worth of cigarettes.

4) if i quit smoking i would have more money for food, but not so much more as to make a huge difference.

5) smoking is my only vice and my only luxury.

6) I currently have a 0% chance of becoming pregnant (long distance relationship + we're both girls anyway), so I do not have to worry about harming a fetus. -- i do plan to quit someday before i have children, but that is a few years away yet.

7) i'm in my mid 20s, so the health risks aren't looming large yet. i can quit later.

8) i need something to do with my hands and my mouth. i dont like gum or lollies all that much.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T16:56:02.205Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

7) i'm in my mid 20s, so the health risks aren't looming large yet. i can quit later.

Um - I'm afraid I have to tell you that "later health effects" are not caused by smoking later in life. They are caused by smoking early in life... and then getting older (whether or not you quit).

You can improve your chance of recovering from the damage you are doing by quitting right now.

As a frequent health-campaign in Aus tells us "every cigarette is causing you damage"

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T05:31:52.978Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is true, but I've also read studies that within 24 hours of quitting smoking, there are already noticable health benefits and lowered risks of problems, which continue to get better the longer the time has elapsed. I'm not arguing that smoking between the ages of 15-18 & 20-27, as I have done, will have no effect, but if I quit while I'm still young -- I probably have a few years left where one way or the other won't matter too much -- then by the time I reach an age where heart disease, lung disease, cancer, stroke, etc. are more likely dangers for me, my lungs will have had a decade or so to recover and hopefully that will be enough. I've gotten a few grey hairs already, and a few wrinkles, so I know that the time to quit will be soon, but I don't know if I'm ready to do it just yet. The last time I quit (for an entire year, cold turkey), it was because I got tired of the way I smelled and didn't want to smell like that anymore. I only started up again because I had friends who smoked (who have since moved away). I think if I can get into that headspace again, where I really don't want to smoke and am tired of it, then I will be able to quit easily, whereas if I'm just doing it because of knowledge of health risks in the distant future -- that's not immediate enough to make it easy.

As far as pregnancy goes, I think that as long as I quit at least a year before I'm planning to get pregnant, the fetus will be okay. My grandmother was encouraged by her doctor to smoke during pregnancy to calm her nerves. (This was in the early 1960,s I believe, and I'm fairly certain the effects of smoking were known to doctors at that time, but i dont know) The kid was born weak and sickly with all sorts of allergies that none of his siblings shared. He survived, and it could have been much worse than allergies, but it was still a bad thing.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T12:19:39.227Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just because quitting smoking will allow your body to heal some of the damage, doesn't mean it will allow your body to heal all of it, even in 10 or 20 years.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:12:44.725Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. I agree.

I think you (pthalo) have misunderstood what the "over time" thing is all about.

You chance of cancer starts out low - you may start out with, say, a 1% chance of getting cancer - but that still means it's possible for you to get cancer with your very first cigarette... over time that chance will go up. It still means that even after you quit - it could be too late. You could already have cancer.

After you quit, the chance that you will develop cancer after that point will go down... but if you already have cancer - then you already have it. Even if you quit and stay clean for he rest of your life.

On top of that is the other damage that you are causing to yourself. Destruction of the lung tissue, scar-tissue do due heat-damage of the lips and throat. Also - you know those wrinkles you're getting? Your skin is being damaged due to reduced oxygenation. Cigarettes are known to prematurely age the skin... and that damage doesn't grow back either.

These may well heal somewhat after you quit (to a certain extent)... but will never go away completely. As AdeleneDawner says - you will never get back to how you were before the cigarettes

The best chance for you is to quit immediately.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-30T11:18:46.832Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"but if you already have cancer - then you already have it. "

While this is essentially a tautology, it is also not exactly true.

Some cancers (last time I checked there were over 200 discrete types) are failures of the autoimmune system (maybe all are) and by "getting healthy" you might trigger and immune response that cleans up a smaller mass.

Not that I'd want to bet on it, but I do plan on starting to smoke again when I get to the age where it's good effects now matter more than the bad effects later.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-30T14:00:14.868Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

:) Certainly an interesting strategy... I myself wouldn't make that bet - firstly, the probability of a positive effect seems (without me actually bothering to research, mind you) to be orders of magnitude lower than that of a negative outcome (even in late age) - also how old is old enough?

But I can see that it might be appealing. Kind of a fire-with-fire strategy.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-07-08T08:56:17.854Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

First off there are mild stimulant effects to smoking.

Also nicotine (IIRC, or one of the other chemicals in smoke) is a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.

Finally it is an appetite suppressant (probably a side effect of the stimulant thing) as I age certain injuries (modulo The Singularity) will catch up with me and the arthritis will make my current level of exercise difficult to impossible.

And lastly smoking will annoy the living f out of all those nanny state mutherfrs who've been pissing me off for the last 20 years and seem intent on doing so until I die--hopefully with a cigar in one hand, a scotch in the other.

comment by taryneast · 2011-07-08T15:53:44.902Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah - well that is an entirely different kettle of utility. ;)

While (as previous stated) I would not make the same choice... I respect your right to choose to take the risk for your obvious pleasurable returns. I totally grok being contrarian for the fun of it ;)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-07-08T09:04:16.386Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know I'm not supposed to upvote contrarianism, but it's just too hard to resist. Please use this comment to downvote my lack of willpower.

comment by Volndeau · 2011-06-28T23:17:02.903Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed, Cigarette smoking is usually a frequency habit. For arguments sake, a pack a day is 20 cigarettes in the 16 hours you are awake, that means the smell/taste/sight is always around.

1) Nicotine, while addictive is nowhere near as addictive as the other chemicals put into cigarettes to keep them burning. I smoked cigarettes for 3 years before picking up cigars. While it would take a research team to find what is in a cigarette, I can tell you what is in my cigars, aged tobacco leaves. I smoked less and less cigarettes as time went on (about 3 weeks). I have been without cigarettes for a year and currently smoke cigars once to twice a week.

2) Cigars, while some can be stupidly expensive, are relatively cheap. One of my favorite cigars is about $5 a stick, at 3 sticks, that's $15 a week. I am sure that is cheaper than your current cost. You can also find "mistakes" for as low as $1.(I do realize that is my current cost, and while weening myself off of cigarettes, it was more expensive.)

3) I thought that as well, though I found that once I proved to myself that I had willpower to quit cigarettes, it was much easier to maintain, and even lose weight.

4) Don't spend more on food if you don't need more, put it towards savings.

5) I love smoking cigars. Sitting down after a long day with your favorite drink and a cigar is incredibly relaxing. The best part is, it is not addicting. I have gone weeks without needing to smoke.

6) I think this is an excellent alternative. It makes smoking a true luxury, not an addiction. When the time comes, you can stop for 9 months and pick it back up if you want to, not because you need to.

7) The human body is incredibly resilient. Although, anything in excess will destroy it. 20 cigarettes in a 16 hour period for 10 years, killer. 150 cigars a year (slightly more than the number of cigarettes consumed in a week) is not excess. While I can't say it is helping my health, I can say I am still able to hike, climb, run and swim.

8) As you lessen your dependency on cigarettes, you will have these oral and manual cravings less, though you will still see me twirling a paperclip in my mouth from time to time.

I hope this comes as some help.

comment by lsparrish · 2011-06-30T00:27:12.419Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want to use it as a nootropic, unflavored nicotine is pretty cheap. For example, you can get 60 ml at 25 mg/ml for 8.75 plus shipping. Only about 1mg is absorbed from a typical cigarette due to combustion, so this is the equivalent of 1500 cigarettes.

comment by Manfred · 2011-06-28T05:50:22.112Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

5) smoking is my only vice and my only luxury.

Sounds like you need more luxuries :D

One of the things my brother did near the end of when he smoked and during while he was quitting was getting into really good scotch. He'd take a little glass of very expensive scotch and nurse it for an hour or so.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T16:57:46.598Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

8) i need something to do with my hands and my mouth. i dont like gum or lollies all that much.

chew on the end of your pen. of get a ring and twirl it around your finger. or take up knitting or some other hand-crafty activity to quell your fidget-cravings (which I get too).

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T05:37:00.221Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i've started crocheting semirecently. i actually started with "smoke less" in my mind. my first project is a hyperbolic möbius strip (directions: chain as many as you want, sc to end of chain, repeat for a few rows, crochet it together into a möbius strip, then continue sc increasing one every three stitches). perfect for mastering single crochet stich. Maybe I'll do the next with double crochet stitches to work on those. im slow at it and not very good yet, but that is because i am a newbie.

and i do have a ring to play with. i'll try to use it more. :)

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T14:59:57.694Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cool. I've heard of a few different funky math-objects that are crochetable. Gaussian planes ad other surfaces - even klein bottles - all on teh interwebs if you google, and surprisingly simple instructions (like your möbius strip).

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-06-28T06:32:25.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In this vein, I have known people who replaced the hand/mouth activity of cigarettes with candy canes. If you don't want all the sugar, flavored toothpicks are another option often recommended to help with quitting.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T00:31:56.628Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you should put separate things into separate comments so the threading makes more sense.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-27T00:43:27.512Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

okay. that's a good idea. I put two into separate comments and then edited this one so it only contained the last one.

comment by Waffle_Iron · 2011-06-28T16:24:11.721Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you considered electronic cigarettes?

comment by lavalamp · 2011-06-27T12:26:27.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Switch to chewing tobacco. It's less harmful*. Also, it's much more disgusting, so you will have more motivation to quit.

[*] IIRC from when I read about it years ago. Do your own research.

comment by beriukay · 2011-06-29T15:51:25.054Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been told that I ought to visit out-of-state more often than I do. My preference is to do it about 0 times a year, but I end up doing something or another about once a year. Now I've got family and friends asking me to go to about a dozen various locations for various visits and vacations.

Reasons for not doing this thing:

  1. I really don't like having to deal with airport security, or the various other hassles that come with airports.
  2. I don't appreciate the cost associated with flights, especially since I feel like I'm getting no lasting value out of these thousand-dollar tickets.
  3. It is difficult to accrue the time off from work to take any big adventures, especially if I still take time off to do the things that I want to do.
  4. I have a preference for trips to have a resting time proportional to the travel time, so if I have to fly 12 hours to get somewhere, I want at least 10 days of being at the location before having to suffer travel back.
  5. My location is not very well suited for road trips. It takes about 6 hours to get to any worthwhile destinations.
  6. I don't really like losing connection to the internet, or my main computer. This isn't a sufficient condition for some of the possible trips, but not all.
  7. I really don't care about many of the things that other people do: I hate the heat (any temperature above 70F or ~21C), I don't like the sunlight, and I don't really like salty water or camping. Major landmarks don't really interest me, and I really don't want to be yet another tourist in a town that loathes tourists.
  8. It is difficult to maintain a weight loss routine when visiting family.
  9. I feel like a bad person when I fly because of reading some stats about carbon footprints (though I cannot recall the source).
  10. It feels wasteful to have a house and a car that cost money regardless as to whether I am at home, and to go somewhere and pay money to stay there.
  11. I feel like there are better things for me to be doing with my time than going somewhere, that I've already seen all kinds of interesting things because of my dad's military life (and thus us moving a lot), and that my memory isn't sufficiently vivid to justify forgetting most everything within just a few months.

I think this list is exhaustive.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-29T17:29:41.319Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Invite others to come visit you.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-29T20:17:58.106Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would think #12, that you don't actually gain anything from this travel, would be pretty fundamental. Most people spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets because they value seeing family / being social / the actual experience. You don't seem to value any of those things, so why are you doing this?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-30T12:21:31.554Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sounds like the only reason you're even considering travel is social pressure. I'd recommend doing somehting to pre commit to not travelling instead, so you can just point at that to get people to stop nagging you.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-06-29T20:48:50.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

6. I don't really like losing connection to the internet, or my main computer. This isn't a sufficient condition for some of the possible trips, but not all.

A smart phone, netbook, or tablet are all lightweight ways to maintain the Internet connection as much as possible (i.e. always, except for when the plane is in the air). Personally, I found myself much more willing to travel after purchasing a smart phone ~1.5 years ago.

comment by novalis · 2011-06-29T20:05:14.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For #10, rent your house out while you're gone via airbnb. And when you travel, rent rooms via airbnb, which is apparently significantly cheaper than traditional hotels, at least where I live (NYC).

comment by beoShaffer · 2011-06-29T19:05:41.938Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

@ 1,2&9 are trains a viable method of transport in your area?

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-27T00:41:44.353Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't eat enough vegetables or protein.

1) Vegetables and meat are expensive and are generally not in my budget.

2) I don't like the way I feel after eating meat. I find my thoughts are slower and my stomach feels slightly queasy.

3) Beans take forever to cook. Even if I soak them overnight. Canned beans are expensive.

4) When I buy food, I tend to try to eat as little of it as possible to make it last longer. When I do this with vegetables, they go off and have to be thrown away. But it's so hard to make myself eat now when I could eat later. I know that I'll be hungry a few hours after I eat, so longer I go, the longer it'll be till I get hungry again.

5) Some fruits and vegetables give me bad heart burn. Others don't taste very good.

6) I'm probably not saving all that much money on food by not eating. It's just a weird behaviour I can't break myself of.

7) I'm cooking for one and it's very hard to cook the tiny portions I require. Or rather, it's a lot of work and I only get one meal out of it. If I do get two or three meals out of it, I'm get tired of eating it and can't eat it for a while.

8) I have a small fridge, but no freezer. Frozen vegetables aren't an option for me unless I use them all at once (and then the portion is too big and half of it goes bad).

9) I have problems washing dishes (and of course cannot afford a dish washer), and sometimes i have to wash a plate on 4 or more consecutive days before it's clean. (this isn't /just/ OCD. there really is visible grime on it still after so many washes. i just dont have the arm strength due to the chronic pain.) washing dishes can tire me out to such an extent that i am then unable to cook. cooking and eating tires me out to such an extent that i cant wash the dishes. the best plan i can figure out is to alternate days: eat bread one day and wash dishes. cook the next day and dirty dishes. but the current state of affairs is that all dishes are dirty and have to be washed before each use.

10) most ingredients for cooking don't keep for more than a day or two, even in the fridge. milk, bread, veggies, leftovers, they all go bad. i think it's something about the humidity.

Vegetables I like: tomato (heartburn), onion (heartburn), garlic (no problem)

Vegetables I like, but don't really know what to do with: carrots, lettuce (can't buy small enough quantities anyway), corn, potatoes

Vegetables I don't like all that much or at all: peas, string beans, asparagus, brussel sprouts, capsicum, cabbage, eggplant, zucchini

there may exist vegetables that i forgot to mention. i may or may not like them or be able to afford them or know how to prepare them.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T01:19:20.991Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Get protein from non-meat sources. Consider, in particular, eggs. Monitor the sales at your grocer of choice; if they have a free loyalty program fill out their form and take their junk mail to get in on that.

  2. See above

  3. Buy canned beans in large amounts when they are on sale. Or, consider trying to make a deal with a friend or neighbor where you split batches of beans and only have to do cooking some of the time.

  4. This should admit of self-modification. If you know your food will go off if not eaten, there is no waste or "not lasting longer" associated with eating it before that time. But perhaps you need to work around it instead...

  5. Heartburn can be medicated. If you can't afford to get that checked out or afford the meds, eat around it...

  6. I really do recommend eating, but would need to know more about the etiology of the habit before I offered advice on breaking it.

  7. Consider sharing meals with friends/neighbors. Or, get a freezer. Freezers are really useful.

  8. If you can't get a freezer, buy your veggies canned. Many veggies come that way. Cans are smallish.

  9. Consider disposable dishes, or covering your dishes with something like plastic wrap and being careful with your utensils. (Possibly expensive.) Also, note that not every use of dishes requires washing between uses, especially if you are the only user: you can use a water glass for days as long as you don't leave a lot of water standing in it; you can brush crumbs of relatively dry foods off a plate and use it again; etc. When you do have to wash dishes, soak them overnight with water and dish soap first, or at least rinse them out, to reduce the amount by which things cake on and to help give the grease a head start on dissolving.

  10. Freezers are useful. Like, a lot.

Veggies you did not mention include: miscellaneous greens such as turnip or collard, kale, spinach, green or wax beans, bamboo, peppers, artichokes, beets, water chestnuts. (All of those things exist canned.) Also, celery, celeriac, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, miscellaneous sprouts, assorted squashes, fennel, leeks, scallions, avocados, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, edamame, radishes, jicama, seaweed of various sorts. I don't know if these ones are available canned. (Seaweed has the advantage of being available dried. You can reconstitute whatever amount you desire.)

As for what to do with them: Your favorites, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, corn, and potatoes (plus most of what I just mentioned) can all be put in soups, stews, pot pies, sautés and stirfries, kabobs, and curries, or just eaten by themselves cooked or not with the spices/seasonings of your choice. Google is your friend; search for [vegetable] recipe and see what pops up. If you require more specialized help, pick some likely-looking veggies and I will locate or fabricate simple preparation instructions for you!

comment by Wei_Dai · 2011-06-27T01:59:02.881Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Get protein from non-meat sources. Consider, in particular, eggs. Monitor the sales at your grocer of choice; if they have a free loyalty program fill out their form and take their junk mail to get in on that.

Also consider protein powder. On a per gram of protein basis, whey protein powder is only slightly more expensive than eggs, but much easier to prepare. (Assuming $25 for 5 pounds of whey protein powder, and $1 for a dozen large eggs, I get $0.0156 per gram of protein for whey, and $0.0132 per gram of protein for eggs.)

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T01:59:19.883Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I will have a look at one of the health shops that sells protein powder to see what it costs, and will look online to see what I can slip it into without noticing the taste.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T01:46:45.184Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

9. Consider disposable dishes, or covering your dishes with something like plastic wrap and being careful with your utensils.

Also worth consideration: Layering a single-ply paper plate over a non-disposable plate. This helps stretch your paper plate supply (most paper plates are something like 3 or 4 ply, for strength; break them apart into 3 or 4 individual ones), allows you to use paper plates for things that are too heavy or wet to usually use them for, and should at least cut down on the amount of effort that it takes to wash the non-disposable plate afterward. (I almost always manage to get sauce or something on the edge of the non-disposable plate when I do this, but cleaning that is a matter of a 5-10 second rinse rather than a full scrub.)

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T02:01:12.583Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

that's a really good idea. I will have to see where I can buy paper plates. Most places seem to only sell plastic, but they must be available somewhere. This would probably work for paper bowls as well, placed inside a regular one.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T01:57:03.731Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i am lukewarm on eggs. I like them enough to eat a few of them, and you can stir certain vegetables into them and add cheese if you have some and salt and pepper and they can taste nice, maybe every few days but then I have to get creative to use the last few eggs in the carton before they go off. if i make a concerted effort, I can eat a carton of 10 eggs in 3 batches spread over 9 days, and they do last longer than that. maybe I could make every day divisible by 3 egg day. Today's the 179th day of the year (well, now that it's 2am, it is), so if I went out tomorrow (which will still be the 179th, but it's tomorrow because i'll have slept between now and then) to pick some eggs up, I could start tomorrow. If not, I could start on the 182nd.

there's a store that's only 1km walk and a bus ride away where I can buy many things very cheaply and the quality is better than anything else in the town. Cans of soup for €1 a piece instead of €4 (hmm, i wonder what their canned beans are priced like. If it were €1 it might be worth it, though when you can get an entire kilogram of dried beans for less, it feels like a waste to spend €1 on one meal). sometimes when I go there I buy sausages. These are more expensive, about €3, but cheaper than I can find elsewhere and the quantity will last me about a week, since I use them sparingly to make them last longer. I shop there when I can, but most days I don't have the energy to spend a couple hours taking busses and walking with a heavy load (the savings in buying their products vastly outweigh the cost of the bus tickets), so I also shop at places that are nearer to me, where the selection is poorer and the prices are higher. at these stores, i'm careful what I buy and tend to buy things where the price difference is smaller

The cheapest source of vegetables isn't these foreign stores. It's the market across the street where the farmers from neighbouring villages come in the morning with carrots that look like they've just been pulled out of the ground. You have to get up early if you want to buy anything, and the prices change every day -- and if you don't know the seasons as well as everyone else seems to, they will stop going down and start going up just when you were thinking you'd buy at the next price drop. I don't know the seasons well, but I could probably find something with googling -- except I get a feeling that questions like "when is strawberry season here?" is considered common knowledge. Once, I was playing "guess the fruit" with a six year old, and he was giving me hints for the fruit he'd thought of. The first clue he thought of was not "it is yellow" or "monkeys eat it" but "it's ripe in winter". (Bananas, grown in the southern hemisphere, are ripe in our winter. it made sense once I thought about it, but I'd never thought about it.) but maybe I can find a website aimed at slow six year olds who don't yet know which two weeks are strawberry season, and whether sour cherry season comes before or after black cherry season.

about number 4. i do need to find a way to do some self modification for that. it's kind of ridiculous. the goal of frugality is living within my means and someday, trying to get to the point where i have 1 months expenses saved up in my bank account so that i have a small cushion if my money's late or i don't get paid or an emergency comes up. buying food, eating nothing, letting it go bad, and throwing it away isn't frugal. Actually, it reminds me of something the Cullens would do (I'm a big fan of Luminosity and Radiance. Never read Twilight, but mom sent me to the DVD since she knows nothing about my tastes heard it was popular, so I downloaded subtitles for it in one of my target languages (Macedonian) so i could watch the gift and call it language practice.)

heartburn can be medicated. i've looked up some medications that i can get without a prescription at the local pharmacy. (All medications here have to be bought from a pharmacist, even aspirin, but some don't need a prescription) I am painfully shy, and having to ask for something by name is a trial for me, but I have been meaning to get down and buy some antacids. it's probably stress related heart burn anyway. I can afford to spend a few euros on antacids. I am poor, but I actually live more frugally than strictly necessary, because I want to improve my situation and frugality can help with that (though neglecting my health is not frugal in the long run or even in the short run, I know. I need to cut that out.)

6) i've done a lot of thinking recently because knowing why is the first step. After my parents divorced, when I was about ten, I was terrified we'd have to go back to living with my father if we failed to make it on our own financially and knew that we were poor, so I tried to do all that I could to prevent that from happening. I knew I was too young to get a job, too young to legally babysit, and I knew I wouldnt have earned much anyway. So, I stopped wanting things. I stopped whining about the toys I saw on tv, I stopped eating breakfast, knowing that my overworked mother would see the opened and partially empty box of cereal and not replace it until it was nearly empty because she would see that I had something to make myself when I got up before going to school. I stopped eating lunch, because the agreement was that I would ask for more money to buy school lunch when I needed it, and I knew she wouldnt remember how recently she'd given me the money. So I kept the money and spent it as infrequently as I could, knowing that the longer i stretched it, the longer my mother would have to go without giving me more. I probably did save her some amount of money this way, but i didnt really have all the facts, and the teacher's reports that i'd stopped responding to my name and mostly stared off into space all the time led to doctors appointments which definitely costed more than school lunch. Dinner was eaten together when she came home from work. Sometimes I cooked, sometimes she did, and I ate dinner every night. I don't remember much about that year, but I spent most of it dizzy and spaced out. after a while, my body got used to it and i didnt have much appetite anymore. It was logical in its own way, but i didnt have all the facts, and i was very young. and then as a young adult, i was again scared that if i couldnt make it on my own financially i'd have to go back to living with my mother, so i went back to skimping on food. it's like an eating disorder, but i don't obsess about calories and couldn't care less what I weigh.

freezers are indeed useful. someday, i shall have one.

i already use a piece of paper on a tray to catch crumbs if i'm just eating bread or something. pasta i eat out of the pan (i am cooking for one, after all, why dirty a plate?) my cup is rinsed well the first time i'm going to use it that day. who knows how many flies visited it over night (no fly screens either, and it's summer), but after that i dont wash it between uses. i've used disposable plates and forks in the past, and though i feel guilty about environmental concerns, if i can't eat any other way, then i can't. i'd really like to find some paper plates instead of plastic, because the only plastic ones i can find melt in the microwave, which renders them useless to me. when i cook in the oven, i use aluminium foil instead of a pan, if i can get away with it.

dishes: i do rinse them, and then i come back to them a week later and they are slimy. (solution: come back the very next day. i try, and i can succeed for days at a time sometimes, but then something comes up and i'm back to having a sink full of petri dishes.

vegetables you mentioned that I know what they are called here and remember seeing in a store, even if rarely, and think i like or have questions about whether i would like it or not:

spinach - <3 but hard to find out of season

kale - it's called "kale cabbage" here, which has scared me off it, since i dont like cabbage. does it taste like cabbage? my real problem with cabbage is that it is huge and i cant eat an entire cabbage before it goes bad, and i dont like it pickled. i can tolerate the taste here and there, but ill never be enthusiastic about eating a lot of it at once.

peppers = capsicum. - will eat them, and wil sometimes like them, but am not crazy about them. they do go nice in pasta sometimes.

we don't have celery here, but we do have celeriac. it is large and hard to use all of it in time, but i do like it. the problem is you only need a tiny bit to get the right flavour.

turnips - are called "white carrots" here and are good in soups, but it is impossible to cook soup for one person and i dont know any other ways of preparing them. can they be eaten raw?

squash - like, but they are usually large, and i dont know whether they can be eaten raw or how to turn them into the tasty mashed stuff (i dont have a masher), or if they can be prepared non-mashed.

leek - is a readily available, mostly green, gigantic, cylindrical onion. i like onions, but do not know if i could consume an entire leek. i imagine that slices of it would be good on just about anything though.

broccoli - is only sold in 500g batches, is hard to find, and somewhat expensive. i love it, but have trouble using up so much of it.

cauliflower -is cheap, white coloured broccoli that is sold by the head. impossible to use an entire head without it going bad if you are only one person.

Do most vegetables go well with each other? (in a stir fry, on top of pasta, etc.)

I like reading recipes online, but sometimes get frustrated when they list ingredients that are unavailable to me (happens more often than not.) but i'll look around some more.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T02:23:15.529Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Websites explaining produce seasons totally exist. I don't know where you live, but I'm sure you can find the info.

If you leave soapy water standing in your dishes, the soap should cut down on slime growing on them.

Spinach is available canned! Get it that way and season doesn't matter.

Kale is not like cabbage. It's a leafy green, sort of like turnip greens or mustard greens.

Celeriac is good roasted and then put in soup. Find smaller roots of it, and when you cut the ugly off, cut a little deeper; if you don't put much in the soup besides celeriac you should be able to eat it in as little as two sittings.

Turnips don't look anything like carrots; do you mean parsnips? Wikipedia says you can eat parsnips raw.

Yellow squash comes small. I usually have it with fish, and use half of one in a meal; if I'm having only squash for a meal I can definitely eat a whole one. I like to slice them up thin and then roast them (line pan with foil, coat with olive oil, pop in the oven at 425º for 15-20 minutes).

Leeks are not as much food as they look like. You can roast them (it's wise to parboil first though), or put them in soup.

Broccoli is amazing roasted, in soup, or with pasta. Cauliflower is good in soups, curries, or casseroles. You really need to find out why your fridge won't let you keep leftovers for a normal amount of time and fix that; I can easily eat a batch of cream of cauliflower soup that contains an entire head of cauliflower over a few days, but if you can't keep soup around for a few days you may be in trouble. Cauliflower and broccoli are also edible raw, optionally with dip.

Many but perhaps not most vegetables go well with others. My brain isn't generating a useful algorithm here but I can give you my best guess/experience regarding any combinations you think look likely.

There is a lot of information available about substitutions online. I am an improvisational cook and can probably help you out if you're missing something for a recipe (I have good instincts about when you can leave it out, when you can replace it with something else, and when you can't make the recipe at all without the ingredient).

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T02:37:57.935Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many but perhaps not most vegetables go well with others. My brain isn't generating a useful algorithm here but I can give you my best guess/experience regarding any combinations you think look likely.

There exists a book about this. I wouldn't be surprised if there existed a genre of books about it, even.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T06:57:54.457Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T06:53:30.772Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

googling "when is ripe" in hungarian gave me a site with a chart (but not all the fruits and veggies i could think of) as the first link. im sure further links down the google results page would include the missing ones.

i will try making the water soapier. also, evaporation plays a problem if i leave it too long. but i want to get in the habit of cooking often enough that i wont have to worry about that. i remember i used to wash any stray dishes while waiting for water to boil. i have lots of tricks like that i seem to have to rediscover again and again. a couple years ago, i had an epiphany that soapy water made things clean, not soapy, and that helped for a while, until i forgot again. i mean, i never stopped using soap, and i used soap before that point, but there was a moment when i understood at an intrinsic level that the soap applied to a dish could be removed from that dish, and the dirt would be removed along with it, through the application of water, and that all dirty things could be made clean, that nothing was dirty beyond repair. whereas othertimes i remember that i don't like the taste of soap and i sink into a vague suspicion that i'm just adding soap to the dirt and making soapy dirt and wonder what makes me so sure that adding soap to a spoon will make the food that later comes onto that spoon more edible. The manner in which I wash dishes doesn't really change, but by mental approach to it changes from disgust at the wrongness on the dishes to delight at the opportunity to right a wrong.

Spinach canned. Hm, so it does. I'll keep an eye out for it. My mental image of the aisle in the store that sells canned food mostly contains corn, peas, and beans, along with a few types of soup (mostly goulash soup, the one i like best), but googling in hungarian tells me there is indeed such a thing as canned spinach. i've seen it frozen, too, in small enough quantities that it could conceivably be eaten in one sitting. and i think frozen spinach would keep for at least a day in the fridge as well.

oh, the english wikipedia page for turnip shows something completely different. the dictionary I was using was wrong. I'm not really familiar with turnips, I guess. What I call white carrot is, according to wikipedia, actually parsley root, which looks somewhat like parsnips, but doesn't taste like them. it's not really carroty in flavour either, just shape. you put it in soups and stews, and chicken noodle soup should have at least one of them and at least one carrot as well.

the roasted squash sounds easy and good. i think i have a vague memory involving squash, zucchini, tomato and pasta with a creamy sauce. which sounds easy to make.

i'll give leek another chance. :)

cream of broccoli soup is wonderful. i tried to make it once, but it wasnt very creamy when i made it, and i used too much broccoli (and therefore too much water and too much of everything else), but it was good.

I remember finding a recipe once online that if I took out everything that I was confused by/didn't think I could get here/didn't like, I was left lentils and water. i didnt like lentils and water all by themselves, and realised that anything i could add to it would be something of my own creation, not resembling the original recipe at all. it's not usually that bad. usually it's something like "capers" (which seem to be something pickled, but i only like pickled cucumbers) or "cheese-whiz" or takes an english cookbook off the shelf and flips through randomly "parmigiano-reggiano (a small handful)", "radicchio", "swiss chard." The book was a present from my mother, but almost every recipe contains something we don't have here, or something i don't like, or something expensive. I've mostly given up on the cookbook as useless. :)

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T07:04:19.163Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Capers are pickled flowerbuds, and can probably be safely left out of virtually anything. Parmigiano-reggiano is a cheese; you can sub parmesan or another hard grated/shredded cheese if you can't find it. Radicchio and swiss chard are both leaf vegetables and could probably be reasonably substituted for others in that reference class. Cheez whiz is an abomination.

Also, now I want to try parsley root, but Wikipedia indicates it will be hard to find here! Rar!

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T08:38:23.533Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the information. :) I suppose that in general, then, "unheard of leaf vegetable that's being suggested for a salad" can be replaced with "regular salad leaves" and "unheard of vegetable being suggested for pasta" can be replaced with "vegetable i like in pasta" and "some cheese that i dont know what it tastes like" can be replaced with gouda, which is good on everything.

I wonder if leaf parsley's roots taste the same as root parsley's. Wikipedia says they are smaller, since they're not being grown for the root, but I think since it's pretty much the same plant, it should taste at least similar. I don't know if you garden, but if so, you might plant some regular parsley and when the time comes to dig them up see how much root there is. Otherwise, if you shop at farmer's markets, you might ask the parsley-seller about the roots. Types of carrots (in Hungarian anyway) are sugar beets (called sugar carrot), parsley (called white carrot), and carrot (called orange carrot)

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T08:47:02.438Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suppose that in general, then, "unheard of leaf vegetable that's being suggested for a salad" can be replaced with "regular salad leaves" and "unheard of vegetable being suggested for pasta" can be replaced with "vegetable i like in pasta" and "some cheese that i dont know what it tastes like" can be replaced with gouda, which is good on everything.

Yes, this.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T02:17:59.119Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

maybe I can find a website aimed at slow six year olds who don't yet know which two weeks are strawberry season, and whether sour cherry season comes before or after black cherry season.

If you tell us where you are, one of us will almost certainly track this down. Most of us like researching things, and this sounds like a fun challenge.

freezers are indeed useful. someday, i shall have one.

You should do the actual math to see how much you will (or won't) save by having a freezer - it might pay for itself quicker than you think.

You don't have to get a full-sized refrigerator/freezer unit. I've seen small freezers here for less than $100 that would handle one person's food pretty well, and you might be able to get one for less than half that, secondhand. (Does Craigslist have listings in your area? How about freecycle?)

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T06:14:45.065Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anyway, a quick googling of "mikor érik" (when is ripe) got me to this page: (warning, not in english)

although it doesn't list strawberries. for july, it says: sweet cherries, gooseberries, black currant, watermelon, sour cherry, peach, currant, apricot, plum. the ones that are in the middle of their season will be cheapest. the ones just starting or just ending will be expensive. so my bet is that sour cherry is cheapest.

for vegetables: zucchini (meh), kohlrabi, lentils, sunflowers, capsicum (bell pepper), tomato, pattypan squash, pumpkin, green peas, and horseradish.

If I can figure out what's wrong with the fridge (and whether it has an easy solution), I could make cherry soup (recipe in English)

i dont know if they have vanila sugar where you are, but it's equivalent to a tsp or tbsp (but definitely not a cup) of a vanilla i think. you could just keep adding small amounts of it until it tastes good. :)

on the veggies list, the only things on that list that i've cooked with before and would know how to make something edible are: lentils, tomato and capsicum (Both of whom are just starting their season and arent at their cheapest yet)

but there may be other fruits and vegetables not on this list.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-28T08:16:47.376Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In English, capsicum is what makes hot peppers hot. The large peppers that aren't hot are called peppers, sweet peppers or bell peppers.

comment by gjm · 2011-06-28T08:28:56.758Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a divergence between American English and British English here; in BrE "capsicum" can mean a bell pepper, but in AmE it only means a chilli pepper. (In neither does "capsicum" mean the substance that gives the hot peppers their hotness; that's called capsaicin, capsicin, or capsicine.)

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T08:26:49.587Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Capsaicin is the chemical that makes peppers hot; capsicum is a genus.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T05:53:49.705Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hungary (southern plains, specifically, but it's a small enough country that it doesn't matter. My city is the one that gets an average of 2000 of sunlight a year, the highest in the country.). I noticed a while ago when strawberry prices stopped going down and started going up that strawberry season must be ending, but I didn't attach a date to this noticing in my mind, so when next year rolls around, I still won't know. (Though I remember they never went below 665 HUF/kg (about $3. I would've bought if they went down to 565. This information may or may not be useful next year due to inflation)

Just checked Freecycle. There are three in the country, but none in this city. Deliapro (southern classified ads) has people selling stuff used. currently, someone's selling a gigantic one (230 litres) for about $75, someone else says they're selling various kitchen appliances for $40 and up. i dont want a large one. I wouldnt have space for it anyway. But I could fit a 30-60L one somewhere. I live in a 1.5 room apartment, and the kitchen is tiny, but there is a space in the pantry where I could fit a small freezer.

The fridge I have is a bar fridge. There is a freezer compartment, but the door broke, so I fixed it with duct tape (which means I can't open it). Before the door broke, it would fill with snow on a weekly basis and was tiny anyway (it would fit one frozen pizza.) so I gave up on it and just use the fridge.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-28T08:14:05.215Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In re carrying a heavy load: do you have a backpack?

In re kale: I wouldn't say it tastes like cabbage, but when raw, it does have a flavor which is hard too describe but too bitter for some people.

Squash and turnip can be baked. I can't remember whether you have an oven.

What you describe about food is what I call poverty-based anorexia-- I've heard of one other case. I'd be surprised if there aren't a fairly large number of people who have it.

comment by saturn · 2011-06-27T09:07:37.548Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

most ingredients for cooking don't keep for more than a day or two, even in the fridge. milk, bread, veggies, leftovers, they all go bad

If milk goes bad after a day or two no matter when you open it, you might have a malfunctioning refrigerator.

If milk is OK until a day or two after you open it, you might have a dangerously elevated level of airborne microorganisms.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-27T15:24:30.277Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've noticed that cheaper food doesn't keep as long after it's bought-- this is a casual observation, not careful research. It seems plausible that cheaper food hasn't been given as good care and/or isn't as fresh to start with.

It's plausible that the refrigerator is malfunctioning. It's also plausible that its temperature is set too high, so that should be checked. Look for a dial inside the refrigerator.

A pressure cooker might be helpful with getting beans to cook faster. I don't know whether one can be found cheap enough and whether an unusually small one would be needed because of portion size/arm strength issues.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T16:52:21.871Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can sometimes buy these second-hand from thrift stores. Alternatively you can often buy a "slow cooker" from the same places - and they are also good for cooking beans (you set the up in the morning and leave them to run during the day while you're at work/whatever and dinner is done when you get home).

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T04:05:03.987Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i'll look around. it sounds like a nice way of cooking.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T04:03:23.369Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

some cheaper food is cheaper because it is about to expire and the store wants to make at least some profit off of it. other cheaper food is just cheap because it's cheaper to produce.

the dial on the fridge is labeled in Russian. My Russian is not very good (i can read most of the letters and get a basic idea of what i'm reading, but more than 50% of the words are unknown to me), but i can easily make out МИН "minimum", ВЬКЛ "medium", and МАКС "maximum" and have it set to medium. i have no idea what actual temperature this refers to. i have a thermometer but it is only for measuring human body temperatures. i will have to see if i can find a cheap thermometer that could measure the fridge, because I am curious.

i may look into the cost of pressure cookers down the track.

comment by D_Alex · 2011-06-28T05:01:54.044Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My Russian is pretty good... ВЬКЛ = выключить = turn off, not "medium". Why do you have a Russian fridge anyway??

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T07:14:28.148Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because I live in a former eastern bloc country (Hungary). My only guess is the fridge is that old. (It's not mine, but it came with the apartment I live in. The building I live in is Russian built too. :)

I will look again it, to make sure I got the letters right and to make sure it is pointing at what I thought it was. Since my Russian is so bad, when i checked last time what the words said, I was repeating "V soft sign K L" to myself so i wouldnt forget it before i got back to the keyboard. (I was confident i could remember min and maks) so it may have stood out in my head enough that i forgot what it was set to.

But it's definitely cold in fridge, so it cannot be set to "turn off."

This time, I take my camera with me :)

.... and discover that it is set to maximum (МАКС).

Here is a picture . It also has another setting "НОРМ" which im going to assume is the "normal" or "medium" that i was remembering that it had. I think I set it to maks some time ago in attempt to solve the food spoilage problem.

It's really hard for me to remember выключить because my knowledge of Slavic languages (and understanding of Russian via cognates) comes mostly from southern slavic languages which I have studied, like Serbian, and uključiti in Serbian means "to turn on".

comment by Vladimir_M · 2011-06-28T08:13:40.282Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's really hard for me to remember выключить because my knowledge of Slavic languages (and understanding of Russian via cognates) comes mostly from southern slavic languages which I have studied, like Serbian, and uključiti in Serbian means "to turn on".

Haha, you've run into some of the most confusing false friends between any languages there. The Russian cognate of Serbian (and Bosnian/Croatian) uključiti is включить, which if I'm not mistaken means the same thing -- not выключить, which means the exact opposite.

To make things even more confusing, the BCS verbal prefix u- normally denotes arrival/entering, whereas in Russian it generally denotes leaving. So you get false friends like ući "to enter" vs. уйти "to go away," or uletjeti "to fly in" vs. улететь "to fly away." Generally, if there exists a Russian cognate of a BCS verb with the u- prefix, it will have the prefix в- or во-, not у- or вы-. The former are real etymological cognates, while the latter are not despite the similarity, and often in fact convey the opposite meaning.

Such false friends are even more fun when you see Serbian spelled in Cyrillic, making the false similarities even more prominent. (The first prize, I think, goes to this one, though my great favorite is also право, which is "straight" in Serbian but "right" in Russian when you give directions.)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-06-28T08:27:25.838Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Native Russian speaker here.

It also has another setting "НОРМ" which im going to assume is the "normal" or "medium" that i was remembering that it had.

That is correct.

btw. ь and ы are distinct letters.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T09:13:06.710Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Спасибо for the correction.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T03:54:42.399Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

oh, this is helpful information. I didn't realise there was a difference. It seems to be the latter case. Things are fine unopened until their expiration date. Things that are opened need to be used very quickly. There are things growing in certain dishes in the fridge (another problem I'm not really up to tackling) but I have had this problem since I moved into this apartment, even during long stretches of time when there were not things growing in the fridge (because I was using the fridge less -- wasn't cooking as much as didn't have leftovers). It doesn't seem to matter whether I buy UHT milk or regular. They keep okay unopened most of the time, but opening them means I have to use them quickly. I've swtitched to powdered milk, which I wont drink, but a teaspoon of the powder with a little extra water works well for sauces that call for milk.

When I do get round to throwing out things that are growing in dishes (the current ones are covered in plastic wrap), i also take the opportunity to wash the fridge with cleaning supplies and vinegar, in case any of the scary stuff escaped.

in winter, i've had some success using the balcony as a fridge/freezer. but it's summer now.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T16:44:13.490Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Specifically regarding protein: You are probably underestimating how much protein is in many foods. Here is a brief list of foods which, if you got all of your calories from them, would give you enough protein:

  • Any sort of bean, including fast cooking beans such as lentils, lima beans, and peas.
  • Most nuts
  • Many dark green vegetables (e.g spinach, kale, broccoli, green cabbage)
  • Bread. Yes, really - there's lots of gluten in there.
  • Pasta. Again, lots of gluten.
  • Potatoes, so long as you eat the skins. Get red ones, they're easier to clean and the skins are more tender.
  • Quinoa (a grain).

Brown rice is close, but not quite there. So you should not worry about eating meat, it's unnecessary.

One specific dish you should consider is dal. Cooked lentils with spices. Popular in India. Lots of other things you can throw in, too, including onion, tomato, garlic. carrots, and corn. In small quantities the tomato and onion should be less likely to cause heartburn. To keep the cost of the spices down, buy from the bulk section - it can be as little as 1/10 the price of bottled spices, and you can get only however much you need. Dried lentils and spices keep for quite a long time, and it only takes 45min to prepare, in one pot (or two if you make a tarka).

When you store vegetables in the fridge, do you keep them in plastic bags? I find that helps for many green veggies in particular. I just use the bags I get them in from the store or my farmshare.

Consider shopping more like a European - buy fresh ingredients every day or every other day instead of doing one big shopping trip once a week. This will minimize your food spoilage problems.

I agree with everyone else that you should check that your fridge is functioning properly. Measure the temperature. It should be between 33 and 38 degrees F. Above 38 and I'd expect fairly high rates of spoilage.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T05:16:40.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I love indian food amd I like lentils and beans. And lentils are supposed to be quicker to cook (I have some really old lentils. I should get newer ones. They aren't expensive.) The trick seems to be getting them soft but not mush. I used to cook indian more often, but I always made too much. It's amazing how much food one carrot, one onion, one tomato, and some lentils turns into.

I have some spices -- one year for my birthday, I told my mother to get me spices. And small quantities of spies are available quite cheaply - packets containing only a few grams can last me over a year, since I'm only using a pinch of one, a pinch of another. I have most of the common european spices (salt, black pepper, sweet paprika, rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, basil, sage, etc.) and also I have some curry and garam masala, ground and whole cardamom (which I never knew what to do with). i have chili powder as well, which i add in small quantities to various things for health reasons -- i dont like very spicy, but i dont mind it a little.)

I live in Hungary, and I've been trying to shop less European, because if I don't have emergency supplies on hand and I can't leave the house, then I'm stuck. I try to keep foods on hand that won't spoil to use as emergency foods (some days I have a migraine and don't make it outside), but on the days I can go out, I should be a good European and visit the market across the street in the mornings where there's fresh seaonal produce from surrounding villages, and the bakery just down the street where I can buy 1/2 kg of bread for 115 forints (about $0.57). Lately, though, I haven't been making it outside very often and so I eat into my supplies until I have to buy more.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-28T05:20:04.050Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know what kind of lentils you're using, but green or French lentils become less mushy than red ones. (I happen to like them mushy, but if you don't...)

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T07:29:14.103Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My preference is a happy medium between the two. My experience vascillates between "chewing little rocks" or "i'm eating baby food" yet I like lentils, despite these problems.

My lentils are labeled in greek (ПΟΛΕМИΔΙΩТНΕ КΥПИАКХ ΦАКН), and my greek is worse than my russian (i can recognise about half of the letters and only those words which English stole and didn't change very much) but they look red to me and definitely not green. I got them when a friend was moving home to Cyprus and didnt want to lug her pantry back with her. That must have been five years ago. She gave me several bags, and a little lentils go a long way.

comment by saturn · 2011-06-28T03:06:43.089Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A handheld steam cleaner like this can remove food from dishes with almost no effort, and costs a lot less than a dishwasher.

comment by novalis · 2011-06-27T16:51:16.493Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If your beans are taking forever to cook, are you adding salt? Adding salt will keep beans hard -- wait to add it until the beans are fully cooked.

Also, I second the suggestion to either make your fridge colder, or replace it.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T05:20:26.218Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

the fridge isn't mine -- came with the apartment. and it's a communist era fridge (complete with Russian labeled dials), so it probably dates back to before the wall came down. i have it on medium setting and will look at acquiring a thermoter to see if that means <5°C like it should or, something ridiculous like 10°C (i think i'd notice if it was warmer than that. it feels cold to me.)

I think the beans in question are just old beans. I add salt to taste at the end.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-06-27T12:21:08.789Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Based on #2 and #5, if I were you I would experiment to see if you have hypochlorhydria ( Symptoms are (ironically) basically the same as GERD. (Note: I'm not a doctor!)

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T04:49:35.922Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

hm, that's interesting. That doesn't seem like something I could easily test for at home, but I may ask a doctor the next time I see one.

The symptoms I have are really weird... not like what I've seen in adverts about heartburn (no burning pain in the chest, no stomach pains), but they come after eating acidic foods, so I try to avoid those foods. After eating something like chili or pizza, I feel like there's something 'stuck' in my esophagus (the feeling is like when you swallow a pill, and it gets stuck on the way down), but there's nothing really there. It is accompanied with burping and/or hiccups which last for hours. it hurts to lie down, so i have to stay seated. and it's a recent development. I never had problems like this before a few months ago. I thought that until I could see a doctor I should just avoid foods that make me feel like this, and googled "alkaline foods" to see what foods might calm my stomach when it does that, if it's reacting badly somehow to acidic foods. unfortunately, there's a big pseudoscience diet called alkaline foods which lists foods like "lemon" as being alkaline, not acidic, because of some sort of reasoning that i couldnt quite follow. the signal to noise ratio was so bad that i gave up on googling for this information.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-06-28T20:10:00.701Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To test: obtain some HCL pills (they're pretty cheap). Have some regular, calcium type antiacid on hand when you're ready to experiment. Take an HCL with food that would typically give you symptoms. If you get massive heartburn within 20 minutes or so, then you do not need HCL (and take the antiacid to restore your stomach's pH to normal). If nothing happens or your symptoms are slightly better, then you probably do have low stomach acid. You can experiment further to find the correct dose.

My understanding is that the valve that allows the contents of the stomach to proceed through the system is triggered by acidity in the stomach. Hence, if the stomach is not acidic enough, food will just hang out there-- and will still be plenty acidic to cause heartburn. Also, I understand that as people age, they produce less HCL.

Generally, doctors will give people with those symptoms acid reducers, which will indeed fix the heartburn by lowing acid to almost nothing-- an undesirable state of affairs, as you lose some of the sterilization properties of the stomach. Since an acid reducer fixes the symptoms no matter the root cause, it's obviously a good thing to test it with some variation of the above method.

Once again, I am not a doctor. I do recommend you go see a doctor if something about your body changes unexpectedly; there are less common and less harmless other things that can cause such symptoms. But I will also add that your description of the sensation is pretty much how I would describe it, esp. the "stuck" feeling. I also think the "alkaline foods" thing is probably mostly bogus.

Everything above is my opinion, based off of reading lots of anecdotal data from lots of different places on the internet, plus someone I met IRL once. I'm sparing you the conspiracy theories as to why doctors don't generally seem to perform this test; I think it's pretty easy to explain as a failure of rationality. You can google around if you want to read those. Since I don't have time to hunt down references, to help you judge how seriously (or not) to take this: I think mainstream health advice is probably quite bad, and the people advocating the "paleo diet" are probably much closer to the truth. I'm not aware of anything else I believe that's non-standard.

comment by saturn · 2011-06-28T20:41:23.033Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's a list of food pH values.

comment by jasticE · 2011-06-27T10:41:04.386Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


eggs: can be kept uncooled for a while, very long shelf life hard-boiled, easy to prepare in small portions.

milk: do you get UHT milk? It has an uncooled shelf life of months and tends to be cheaper than fresher variants.

meat: consider smoked or dried meats (bacon, salami).

pasta: reasonably easy to prepare in smaller portions

Out of interest, where do you live that cigarettes are so much cheaper than food? One pack of cigerattes here (Germany) will buy me 2 days worth of (cheap) food.

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T04:25:20.368Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i think if i ate eggs once every 3 days ( to keep from getting tired of them. i tire easily of eggs) I could get through a carton (10 eggs) with time to spare before they expire.

milk: i've mostly switched to powdered milk (which i wont drink, but can use in cooking and it doesnt go bad). When I want drink milk, I've started to buy a half litre of it that I will drink as soon as I get home. The problem with UHT is that once I open it, I have to drink the whole litre in a couple days. I need to figure out what's wrong with my fridge. I was more using milk as an example of something that I can't buy and use in the way normal people do because it spoils quicker than it should.

meat: i do like those, and a little can go a long way. There's a store here (Aldi) that sells 300g Nürnburger Rostbratwurst for ~€3. 300 grams can last me quite a while. -- These don't seem to go bad in the fridge actually, as long as I use them in a week. I keep them in the original package which I don't open very far and also wrap that in plastic. I can buy a small amount of minced meat for 1€ and make a stir fry with it that serves one person, but I don't do this very often.

pasta - yeah, I live off of pasta.

Ungarn :) I live south of Budapest, so food is cheaper here than it is there. The price of tobacco is set at a national level, however. A box of cigarettes costs 560 forints, about €2. However, I have found it is cheaper to buy tobacco directly. A 40g packet of tobacco also costs €2 and will make 50 cigarettes. A box of 200 empty cigarette tubes costs €1. So, the price of 200 cigarettes made by hand is €9. The device that puts the tobacco in the tubes costed €5 and has lasted me over a year so far. It paid for itself very quickly. I smoke about a pack a day, so €0.90. 1 kg of bread costs €1. 10 eggs is a little more than €1. At Aldi I can buy a can of Gulyás soup for €1, but it is €3-4 in stores close to me.

comment by jasticE · 2011-06-28T08:37:10.205Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

About expiration dates: For many foods (not fresh meats though), these may not be actual expiration dates but generously calculated minimum shelf lives. For me at least, eggs and milk will stay good for weeks beyond their labels.

Eggs are very versatile. Scrambled eggs can be combined with any number of spices, fried vegetables, milk, meats. Before I got into cooking this used to be a staple food of mine. You may also add eggs to soup, noodles, rice. If you are worried about expiry you can hardboil the otherwise uneaten eggs. These can be kept a long time and eaten alone, on bread, in salads.

Another good source of protein with long shelf life may be parmesan, but perhaps too expensive.

Hol Magyarországon élsz? Tanulok magyarul és megyek augusztusban Pécsen ;)

comment by pthalo · 2011-06-28T09:07:43.317Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For practice:

Akkor rossz a tojás, ha miután feltörtem, furcsán néz ki (homályos, valami nő benne, piros pöttyöket látok), illetve rossz szagú. A tojásokat mindig külön pohárban töröm fel, nehogy az egész ételt rontsam el vele. Miután megnéztem és megszagoltam, nyugodtan beletehetem a serpenyőbe. A barátnőm azt mondja, hogy amelyik úszik a vízben, az már nem jó, de ez csak azt jelenti, hogy már nem a legfrissebb és óvatosan kell bánni vele. Szeretem a rántott tojást és a töltött tojást és a tükör tojást is de az utolsót csak pirított kenyérrel.

Szegeden élek. Ez körülbelül 4 óra busszal Pécstől. Vonattal még hosszabb az út, mert Budapestre kell utazni és ott átszállni. Így Szegedről Pécsre 180 km-t kell utaznom északra, ahhoz hogy délnyugatra menjek. :D A busz egyenesebb útvonalon megy.

Eggs have gone bad if, after opening one, it looks strange (cloudy, something growing in it, I see red spots), or if it has a bad smell. I always break eggs in a separate cup, lest I ruin the whole meal with one. After I've looked at it and smelled it, I can safely put it into the frying pan. My girlfriend says that the ones that floatin water are bad, but it just means that they aren't so fresh any more and need to be treated with care. I like scrambled eggs, deviled eggs, and over easy eggs but the those I only like with toast.

I live in Szeged. It is about 4 hours by bus from Pécs. It is much longer by train, because you have to travel to Budapest and change trains there. So from Szeged to Pécs I have to travel 180 km north in order to go south west. :D The bus goes on a straighter path.

comment by KPier · 2011-06-26T00:43:34.448Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am not signed up for cryonics.

1) I think I can save more lives by being an organ donor. 2) I can't afford it, even with life insurance. 3) If there is a Singularity, I expect it will happen before I die anyway.

I can't actually sign up until I'm 18 even if all these are refuted, but I will precommit to signing up when I'm old enough.

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T04:55:17.984Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Calculate how many lives you can save with your organs. Pre-commit to donate enough money to save as many lives, on top of what you would normally want to donate.

2) Since you are under 18, I can see your problem. Your chances of dying where cryonics would be an option (read: not in an accident) are so tiny, it's probably OK to wait. But you can always take out a loan (maybe?) or borrow from someone.

3) Do you want to take that chance? I also believe that the Singularity will happen within my lifetime, but I am totally willing to pay ~$80 a month to increase the chance of my brain existing when it happens (even if it's only 1%).

comment by bentarm · 2011-06-26T18:58:12.865Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm afraid 1. just doesn't work, at all - if you can save more lives by being an organ donor, and you think this is the right thing to do, this is an entirely separate question from how many lives you can save by giving money to VillageReach, and I don't see how the answer to one can have a bearing on the other.

If you save thousands of lives by giving away money during your lifetime, then on the day you die, the relevant question is still: can I save more lives at the margin by being cryogenically preserved or by donating my organs? Unless you think of saving lives as some sort of competition, rather than as intrinsically a good thing to do, the answer to this question is completely unaffected by how much money you gave away when you were alive.

Edit I now realise the suggestion is to give away extra money when you die, but this just has exactly the same problem. You don't get extra money by freezing your body.

NB - I'm not saying I really believe the objection is valid, I'm just saying that your proposed solution really doesn't work.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-06-26T19:20:56.593Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another thing to think about here: if you save lives by donating your organs, the organs will probably go to elderly people who are not signed up for cryonics, and will probably die in the next few decades regardless. So you will have saved a few decades of infirmity. On the other hand, if you are revived from cryopreservation, you will probably be revived to immortal, healthy life. So, if the Singularity/some other form of immortality does not happen until more than a few decades after your death, you can save more years, with greater average quality of life, by cryopreserving yourself.

ETA: Also, if the people your organs go to are signed up for cryonics, then getting your organs still wouldn't make that much difference to the total number of years they live.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T21:34:02.591Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So... sign up for the "head only" cryonics. All your organs get donated to others, and you still get cryonics, because nobody gets a donor brain.

You could still even donate your corneas...

Edit and have just read further down the comments to see why this is not optimal...

comment by Strange7 · 2011-06-27T20:27:35.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Calculate how many lives you can save with your organs. Pre-commit to donate enough money to save as many lives, on top of what you would normally want to donate.

Doesn't sound like a good fix to me. Isn't the donated money necessarily taking away from some other (presumably also life-saving or otherwise valued) endeavor? Instead I'd point out that it's possible to have it both ways: freeze the brain and donate the rest. Not much demand for brain-donors, compared to kidneys or corneas.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-27T20:40:46.672Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Currently, it's not possible to do both.

Factor that into your analysis of cryonics: if enough people sign up, organ donation can be integrated into the vitrification protocol.

comment by KPier · 2011-06-26T15:23:51.211Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Statistics on this are almost impossible to find, with lots of websites declaring that you can save 100 lives without any substantiation. If there are any studies of average lives saved per donor, I haven't been able to find them. Saving 100 people another way would be prohibitively expensive, but I'm not convinced those numbers are right. 2) This is my biggest hang-up. It's hard to get a loan without a steady job, and most people I know won't loan me money for something they think is crazy. At least for the next 30 years, my chances of dying where cryonics would be an option are pretty small. When does it stop being OK to wait? 3) Now that you point it out, this is more a excuse-to-stop-thinking than an answer. It's easier not to worry about whether I could sign up for cryonics when I can downsize the expected impact by a factor of 100, but you're right - even a 1% chance would still be worth it.

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T17:59:22.848Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Look at GiveWell. This is precisely the kind of analysis they do.

2) It's stops being OK to wait when you are not OK with dying right now. Since you are young, you can get life insurance for dirt cheap, $1-$10 a month. (Still probably have to wait until you are 18, unless your parents are supportive.) That would be Term Life insurance, which means it'll be for something like 30 years. Then you'll have to renew it at a much higher cost, since you'll be older. So it won't be the most cost efficient (or may be it will be) way to spend money, but it will serve its purpose. There is no harm in finding out exactly how much it will cost for you. I would recommend talking to Rudi Hoffman, cryonics life insurance is his specialty.

comment by KPier · 2011-06-27T00:12:22.825Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) I find GiveWell's analysis very convincing on the question of which charity to donate to; they estimate it costs between $500 and $1000 to save a life with Village Reach. What I can't seem to find is how many lives I would save by becoming an organ donor - if GiveWell has reported on this, I can't find it (and it seems outside their scope).

2) I'm taking a look at this. It appears to be nearly impossible to buy life insurance when under 18, but I'll keep looking.

comment by Cyan · 2011-06-27T00:43:25.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

With a little research online you'll probably be able to figure out the average number of lives saved per organ donor and the probability that you will become one before you age to the point when your organs aren't wanted.

comment by Larks · 2011-06-27T13:35:03.703Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But not necessarily the marginal number of lives saved, which is the important thing.

comment by Cyan · 2011-06-28T01:14:30.182Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My quick Googling prior to making posting the grandparent seemed to show that the demand for donor organs goes unfilled -- people die on the waiting list.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-27T02:42:18.828Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1: If cryonics is appealing because it potentially saving your life, then not signing up once you have the money is effectively suicide / voluntary euthanasia. The fact that other people could be saved by your organs is true whether or not you are signed up for cryonics -- so if your life is worth less to you than 4 or 8 strangers' lives, you should commit suicide and donate your organs.

If you don't want to commit suicide to donate organs, you shouldn't want to avoid cryonics to donate organs.

2: This is not a reason not to do it, it's a reason you literally currently can't. So make more money (there are lots of other better sources of how to do this; if you want to delve down this road, reply or PM and I'll provide more resources).

3: How confident are you that it will happen before you die? Given the number of years of additional life you are buying a chance at by signing up for cryonics, the extra chance at preserving your identity and 'coming back' via cryonics may still be worth the extra cash. But that depends on the probabilities you assign to the various relevant factors (chance of singularity during lifetime & chance of cryonics resulting in extended life, mainly).

comment by KPier · 2011-06-27T04:50:31.158Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) I value my life more than the lives of 4-8 strangers, as demonstrated by the fact I haven't committed suicide to donate my organs. Based on the reading I have done so far, I can't realistically assign cryonics a greater than 10% chance of actually working, so the question is whether I value my life (discounted by a factor of 10) more than the lives of 4-8 strangers, which I don't. If Omega told me cryonics was guaranteed to work, I would sign up.

2) Making money without a high school degree, special skills, or Eliezer-level intelligence is more difficult than I think most highly-trained people realize. I'll PM you, though.

3) I would assign a very high probability to a Singularity within my lifetime; I would also say I am 85% confident that if the Singularity does not happen in my lifetime, it will not happen. If the 21st century closes without any of the advances we anticipate, that would dramatically increase my estimate that they are impossible.But I've conceded to Alexai that even discounting for all this, it is probably still worth it; if I can resolve the other issues I will sign up.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T19:47:29.273Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Making money [...] is more difficult than I think most highly-trained people realize.

The cost of a life insurance policy that covers cryonics is, I think, much less expensive than most people realize. I did the math myself recently and I think it came out to, conservatively, $500/year, which I could easily afford on a retail / call center paycheck. It is definitely worth your time to at least look in to the exact cost for you personally. You're young so you're probably looking at significantly less than me.

Disclaimer: I'm not signed up either; I'm currently trying to sort out why. Discovering it was that cheap has removed a very major obstacle that I wasn't aware of, however.

comment by KPier · 2011-06-27T21:49:31.950Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doing this exercise has really forced me to clarify my thinking on this - you should try it. I did a little research and it looks like it would be less than $15 a month for me, which removes that objection - except for the fact I can't buy life insurance until I'm 18.

comment by lsparrish · 2011-06-30T00:44:07.272Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The singularity (or the technological state we roughly mean by it) could easily depend on centuries of continued incremental research. Moore's Law is coming up against some fundamental barriers. Furthermore, it may be advisable to slow the approach of the singularity for precautionary reasons (e.g. by restricting access to the most powerful hardware), as a bad singularity is to be avoided pretty much at all costs.

Cryonics also doesn't depend directly on a singularity, just either very good (compared to today) scan/emulate tech or very good cell repair tech. These involve progress in different areas of science, so one might be a dead end whereas the other turns out to work.

Supporting cryonics as a younger person (whether by signing up or by supporting it from the sidelines) could result in earlier development of hypothermia and other related biochemical alternatives, eliminating the need for cryonics as we know it. Instead you could conceivably enter a state of hibernation as you near old age, for a few years at a time, until a cure for aging is developed.

comment by KPier · 2011-06-30T03:27:07.944Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Supporting cryonics as a younger person (whether by signing up or by supporting it from the sidelines) could result in earlier development of hypothermia and other related biochemical alternatives, eliminating the need for cryonics as we know it.

So you would recommend signing up at 16, even if my personal odds of dying now are pretty small?

Cryonics also doesn't depend directly on a singularity, just either very good (compared to today) scan/emulate tech or very good cell repair tech.

What would you estimate as the probability of developing technology that will make cryonics work without a singularity?

comment by lsparrish · 2011-06-30T19:42:52.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you would recommend signing up at 16, even if my personal odds of dying now are pretty small?

I haven't signed up myself yet, and I'm 28, so it would be suspicious if I recommended this. (My reasons for not doing so are somewhere between financial and "ugh, paperwork.") But I do recommend becoming actively involved in the cryonics specific subset of the transhumanism community and making long-term financial plans with this expense in mind.

What would you estimate as the probability of developing technology that will make cryonics work without a singularity?

I assign perhaps 65% likelihood to that, assuming we rule out long-range as well as short-range singularities, and assuming something like today's best cryonics quality levels. The added risk is because a) the ceiling for non-singularity tech might be lower (it sort of rule out matrioshka brain kind of stuff, if that is relevant), and b) non-singularity tech could take longer to reach high enough levels (even as compared to distant singularities) which increases storage-time associated risks. The latter kind can be mitigated to some degree by increasing storage security -- but it would have to be very close to arbitrarily low to survive for multiple thousands of years.

The likelihood of it working climbs to closer to 100% (or at least towards the chances of curing aging, which I think are in the high 90%'s in the long run, even without a singularity) if the cryostasis technology improves during our lifetimes, as the problems of cooling can then be resolved sooner and with less chance of being inherently unsolvable (for any given technological ceiling).

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T20:40:45.523Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) I think I can save more lives by being an organ donor.

There were about 6 thousand people last year in Canada who needed an organ transplant [1] and around 247 thousand deaths [2]. Of those deaths, about 1/3rd were prevented by existing donors. We'd be preventing less than 2% of all deaths in Canada if everyone got the donations they needed.

Donation is only viable in cases of brain death (~49% odds) [1], and I couldn't find any statistics on how often a donor body is actually usable (but I'd assume vastly less than 100% of those cases, since you have to die of brain death in a hospital and still have cardiac activity) All in all, there's a deficit of donors, so it's probably still helpful (unless you're a man who has had sex with another man, in which case you might not even be legally eligible; it's banned in Canada).

I think you're probably saving less than 1 life on average by being a donor. You'd probably do better to convince some friends and co-workers to sign up with, since organ donation is "low hanging fruit" (free, socially acceptable), and sign yourself up for cryonics (you can claim you've gone with the more complex "donate body to medical science" if you need a social excuse for why you're not an organ donor yourself)

If you're not doing cryonics, there's no excuse for not being an organ donor, of course, so don't use this as an excuse to wiggle out of doing one or the other! :)

[1] [2]

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-27T20:45:00.294Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

unless you're a homosexual male

Do you mean a man who has sex with men, or do they allow bisexual men? (The incidence of e.g. HIV might be different in these populations.)

(Full disclosure: I am so fucking tired of bisexual erasure I will use thread derailment and other acts of terrorism^W mildannoyanceism.)

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T20:49:52.425Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Men who have had sex with another man. Thanks for calling me on it; I was mimicking the standard language I see there. Unfortunately the trans/queer-erasure remains, because the legal system tries desperately to pretend everyone fits in the nice binary boxes.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-27T20:54:40.347Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oddly enough, here in France I see more and more mentions of transpeople, and fewer and fewer mentions of bisexual people, both in the mainstream and in LGBT media.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T21:04:58.108Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've noticed the same, actually. However, the question of "can a trans-person legally donate blood/organs" is... well, not answered at all, to my knowledge, because they don't fit the expected binary box of "are you a male who has had sex with another male?"

comment by KPier · 2011-06-27T22:13:56.796Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're probably saving less than 1 life on average by being a donor.

U.S. websites tend toward overblown claims (100 lives saved per donor...) that have made it nearly impossible for me to figure this out. It appears there are 15,000 donors per year here, and around 28,000 lives saved, implying it's more than 1 life per donor (but not 5 or 10, as I had assumed).

I am currently signed up to be a donor, and I'm not really trying to wiggle out so much as figure out which option is better.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T22:26:47.589Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

nods I tried looking at U.S. websites and found a pretty consistent "up to 8 lives saved" and anywhere from 40-100 that benefit from tissue donation. The big missing factor in my research was how often an organ donor actually ends up donating. Everything I read hinted at less than 50%, but I never found a firm figure.

Google needs a "-Propaganda" or "+Science" tag :)

comment by Scott Alexander (Yvain) · 2011-06-26T19:53:07.666Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If number one is part of your true rejection, look to see if there are head-only cryonics available in your area.

comment by orthonormal · 2011-06-26T20:58:17.789Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd thought that signing up for both organ donation and even head-only cryonics leads to battles over one's body- the necessary preparations are quite different. I'd be happy to find I'm mistaken, though.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T20:54:59.927Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My research via CI and Alcor suggests you are correct. I don't have sources offhand, but should be easy to find on their websites.

comment by MBlume · 2011-06-27T01:09:37.641Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What orthonormal said -- I was told that the circulatory system was used to get the crypopreservant into the brain and this rendered the other organs unusable.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T10:51:23.237Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're under 18.

If you avoid cigarettes, meth and drunk drivers you should be able to live damn near forever, unless we completely f* up and lose our drive or our ability to continue to advance technologically. By the time you're in your late 30s or early 40s you'll have a much better idea. If you're still typing on the Internets (in whatever form it is 20 years from now) you'll be able to make a MUCH better informed decision. If you're sleeping in a rough shelter and hunting/gathering for food with what's left of civilization, well the cryonics wouldn't have helped anyway (the corpsicles will have been thawed and eaten with the rest of the stored food).

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-30T04:28:08.275Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would someday like to be a writer. In no particular order, the reasons I don't typically write.

  • I'm currently a graduate student, and while my research/teaching isn't all-consuming yet, it does take considerable amounts of time.
  • When I do sit down and try to write something, it is usually not very original. For example, a couple weeks ago I wrote "A crow shook down on me". I also tend to overwrite things, as evidenced in that writeup.
  • I have a history of starting large projects and giving up after a day or two -- for example, I've tried NaNoWriMo twice, with less than 5% success both times.

Disclaimer: Typical anti-akrasia advice, as seen on LW and perhaps other places, has generally been unhelpful. Writing isn't close enough to being one of my primary goals for me to prioritize it the way I prioritize research.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-07-01T04:04:27.170Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In accordance with my commitment below, here are the ten ideas I came up with.

  1. An introduction to real analysis using Python.

  2. Gurren Lagann fanfiction where characters die left and right for being idiots. (Thanks chelz!)

  3. Semi-realistic Solar System space opera. Moral horizon-hopping protagonist reclaims humanity's drive toward space.

  4. An argument against mathematical platonism.

  5. An explanation of the taxonomy of birds.

  6. A follow-up to the quantum physics sequence.

  7. A type theory-based explanation of tensor analysis and differential geometry.

  8. An argument against the usefulness of Rawls' "veil of ignorance".

  9. An essay on romantic aesthetics, using Rand as a starting point but blowing away her chaff.

  10. A review/update of Buckminster Fuller's Critical Path.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-07-01T06:36:44.881Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An argument against mathematical platonism.

Yes please.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-30T05:07:37.316Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When you do write, what prompts it? Find out what the impetus is and then arrange to have lots of it. (Fo instance, mine is attention, so I have lots of beta readers and publish everything I write on the Internet.) NaNoWriMo isn't the ideal writing environment for everyone.

Write down ideas for things to write about as you have them. Pick the best/most original/etc. the next time you have an opportunity to write. If you are short on time and find that you tend not to be pleased with the ideas you use, this is probably more workable than just writing about everything you think of.

Do one pass of editing on each thing you write, after letting it sit without looking at it for at least a few days. This will give you practice at drawing your attention to things you find "overwritten" after the fact; hopefully you'll eventually nip those patterns in the bud before they make it into your writing.

Generic advice that doesn't address anything specific you said: Do not delete things you write, ever. If you are tempted to do this, bury them somewhere in the deepest recesses of your computer, but never delete.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-30T05:21:06.244Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm impressed by your honesty wrt motivations.

I pre-commit to writing down tomorrow (because right now drunk and sleepy) a list of ten ideas about things to write about, and within a week follow up and write about the best. The first step should take at most a couple hours; the second probably a day for a first draft. That seems reasonable given my current workflow.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-30T05:29:35.761Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure what there is to be impressed about... perhaps you interpreted me as saying that I write to get attention? That's not why; attention is merely what allows me to write for other reasons (which are mostly: because it is itchy to have ideas unrealized). Without anyone paying attention to me I will still be itchy but won't actually write anything before going off and doing something else.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-30T05:53:22.038Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh. Nevermind then.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-30T11:27:37.615Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do not delete things you write, ever.

Why? (I currently delete most of my writing.)

comment by Halceon · 2011-06-30T12:59:23.177Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The idea is that by deleting something you condemn everything that was in it as useless. Even that incredibly catchy metaphor about cats and trash compactors. Or the perfectly good first page that is followed by 10 pages of dross. It's useful to keep a backlog of things you've done and discarded. When you have distanced enough from the work enough, you can return and analyse, and learn not only from your mistakes, but also from the gems that may be found among them.If you delete your writing, you retain only the feeling of not being satisfied with it, unless you have perfect memory.

Alternatively, a backlog of truly horrible writing attempts gives you a chance to compare your various efforts and see how you've grown and, possibly, where you've gone wrong recently. Personally I keep most of my things on my laptop, including seperate files for various versions of the same story, ideas that never went past a single paragraph, various abandoned-in-progress things and stories that I felt were excellent at time of writing, but are actually weak. It won't directly motivate to write, but it does help improve over time, and quality tends to contribute to motivation somewhat.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-30T13:12:05.111Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"But surely it's better to delete what you do nothing but cringe at, while keeping writing that's mostly bad but has a couple good points! When you come back..."

"Stop. What you're defending is what you already do. [wordless] Faced with a choice either to change one's mind or to prove there's no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. Domain experts are telling you you're wrong. [/wordless] Change your mind."

"I changed my mind! I'm such a good rationalist! Can I go brag on LW?"

"Knock yourself out. Maybe you can rationalize it by saying you need to show agreement more, and promoting a norm of publicly changing one's mind in response to evidence, or something."


comment by Halceon · 2011-06-30T14:15:37.939Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't necessarily call "Why?" as presenting a choice, but point taken. I guess my real reason why I began not deleting everything is that I've lost a lot of my early writing and regret doing so. What I wrote above still occasionally applies.

Why do you delete everything?

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-30T14:23:52.734Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh, I might have been unclear. I was explaining why I changed my mind to agree with you, not criticizing you!

I deleted everything because after working on something for long enough, I start hating it and seeing the flaws in it and being ashamed of it and hating my past self for wanting to show it to everyone. I hear this is normal, so when in doubt I wait a few months then reread... and it looks even worse.

comment by diegocaleiro · 2011-06-29T11:31:46.981Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Something I wish I did at least as much as recommended (in Brazil, which is, say, half USA's recommendation): Worry about $$$

I avoid this worry because: 1) Getting $$ seems boring compared to going to the movies, reading less wrong, creating transhumanist charities. 2) It seems to be a lottery, where the few get a lot. Not being motivated for this decreases my odds. So my odds are really low. 3) Grown up as the son of a motivated money-maker, and have seen what it takes to get his share. Not willing in the least to pay the price. 4) Not an ambitious individual, never want to live alone (prefer with friends), or have kids, dislike expensive fashion. 5) Feel in control of my time now, wouldn't if working. 6) Have a lot of knowledge of philosophy, psychology, and a natural tendency for speaking to audiences, would waste all those talents if went to commerce, banking, industry, or anything that will pay me more than one third my parent's household income 7) Never had an emergency situation which would cost too much that I could not afford 8) Seems reasonable to assume that an extrovert individual with a degree from the country's best university IQ ~150 would be able to acquire money as soon as the need really comes, so no reason to do it in advance, just like no reason to have arthritis or alzheimer in advance.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-01T16:17:48.145Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Strategies for dealing with money seem to me to come in two varieties: Have as much income as possible and don't worry much about the outgo, or have as little outgo as possible and don't worry much about the income. It seems to me like you'd prefer the latter, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

It is a less popular kind of choice, and one that many people don't really understand, so you might always have to deal with people objecting to it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work, it just means that they don't understand it, or possibly that they're jealous. ;)

Googling 'frugality' should get you some good advice about making that kind of lifestyle work.

I also suggest testing your assumption in #8 that you can easily make money whenever you need it by doing so in order to set some money aside in case of an emergency as in issue #7. This is actually more about #8 than #7, though - basing your lifestyle on an untested assumption like that isn't wise, and if (as I expect, actually) the assumption turns out to be accurate, having the experience of finding a job (or whatever) when you don't have an emergency will be useful if you have to find one (or whatever) when you do.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T14:31:12.191Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On: 4&7) How old are you? Is it likely your preference for having kids/living arrangements etc will change over time? Do note that even if your own preferences for living with friends remain constant, they may want to go the traditional family, home route. Also medical emergencies etc are of course rarer for the young than for the elderly.

8) This is a reasonable assumption, but be aware that if you are looking for a 9-5 job with a steady salary later in life you will need to explain the gap years to the recruiter. Also, if the need comes in the form of an emergency, you may not be able to acquire money fast enough.

Perhaps you need to investigate ways to monetise your talents instead of thinking about a traditional job that pays you a lot more than you need.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-30T12:26:19.906Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait, so why do you want to then?

comment by diegocaleiro · 2011-06-30T17:36:47.526Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People keep telling me I should, my current situation would only finance me for about 5 - 8 years and I plan to live a few hundred thousand more, and in the last two years, eating in my city has sky-rocketed to about 30 dollars a meal. It seems unsafe to wait for five years and then worry.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-28T21:00:25.254Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I should learn to drive and get my license.

Reasons I don't:

  1. I originally took driving lessons in grade 12, when they were competing for my time with homework, working at the pool, scholarship applications, and actual sleep. Being in control of a large, potentially dangerous vehicle, and being clumsy with slow reaction times, was already stressful for me to begin with, and I think I developed a "driving=stress" association that causes mild anxiety every time I think about it, and major anxiety when I actually get in a car.

  2. I don't live at home at the moment and have no easy access to a car to practice in. (I will be living at home in the fall.)

  3. My parents' current car is a standard transmission. When I started learning over 2 years ago, it was in an automatic transmission car. My mother and I are both dubious that I can handle the multitasking involved without becoming freaked out.

  4. Paying for lessons would involve spending money. I hate spending money.

  5. I don't think I'll ever enjoy driving unless I do it enough to overcome the anxiety, and I probably won't for various reasons. (Cars and insurance and gas are expensive, bad for the environment, I can get more exercise if I bike, etc.) So it drops on my priority list.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-29T20:38:29.906Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Long-winded address to #1 and #3:

I'm currently learning to drive, and I've found breaking it down in to steps has helped a lot. "Learn to drive" is a crazy insane task that I could never do, after all :)

I started by addressing your #3, since the only person I had available to teach me was a friend with a manual. We spent a couple hours in an empty lot, braking and turning off the car any time someone drove even vaguely near me, just starting and stopping the car and getting used to the clutch.

Once that was done, we found a corporate lot, where we could wind around buildings and generally do things slightly more dynamic than "start and stop" while still not having any traffic to worry about (we did this on a weekend evening). That got me more comfortable with steering, handling the shift between 1st and 2nd gear, and more experience with the clutch. Since it was mostly 10-20 MPH, and a fairly empty lot, there wasn't a lot of risk. I also didn't hesitate to just slam the break and stop the car if I ever got uncomfortable.

Between these two, I had an environment where I could safely freak out while still learning the skill. Once I was actually on the road, I was a lot more comfortable because I knew I could at least do the basics, and about the worst I'd generally result in is another driver being a few minutes late to wherever they were going. Practicing on weekend evenings also helps, because generally people aren't in a hurry then, and traffic is lighter.

2) This one solves itself come Autumn and you don't seem to be particularly eager. Wait until then :)

4) Can your parents or a friend spend a couple hours a week teaching you? I will say that a calm instructor is very useful in helping to dissolve the "driving = stress" reaction. I only practice an hour or two each week, and it works fine for me. Generally we drive until I get exhausted or over-stressed, and then I hand the keys over and she drives us back :)

5) My main reason for driving is simply so that I can offer to do it on long trips and in emergencies. I occasionally go on 12+ hour drives with friends, and I'd feel better being able to do some of the work for them, especially when it's obvious that they're exhausted. Learning to drive is useful even if you don't do it often, and you don't have to enjoy it for it to be a useful skill.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T11:38:00.868Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that a driving instructor provides you with a practice car.

I don't drive much now, and I'm so clumsy that I've wondered if it's pathological... but I learned to drive over the summer I was 18, paid for my own lessons, and got my license. I would have thought I could never do it, but it's very possible.

Spending money isn't really awful, I've learned over time. Spending more than you can afford is awful. But if you have a cushion of savings that you haven't been using, and you spend it down a little for a one-time investment in your human capital, it's not actually that bad. Attaching an emotional valence to how many dollars you have in the bank gets in the way of living.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2011-06-28T21:29:58.283Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

tl;dr You can overcome stress, multitasking and a manual transmission, given sufficient time and lessons. Consider just not doing anything about it til the fall, but making firm, detailed plans for once you get home. If you feel you should learn to drive it's probably worth the money, just for the extra possibilities it opens up to you.

  1. It sounds like you still have a ton of competing demands on your time. You need to prioritise learning to drive so that you practice regularly. As far as clumsy with slow reaction times goes, I'm 27, I have Asperger Syndrome with mild sensory processing difficulties and high base stress levels and I have less than four months driving experience, definitely under 70 hours driving experience and I may have my licence by Friday and will within two months barring epic failure.

  2. Just wait until the fall.

  3. Get a good driving instructor and you can do it. If you can automatise the sequences of involved, complicated motions involved in competitive swimming you can learn to drive a manual transmission. Your description of lifeguarding competitively, particularly how you were well below average when beginning but became competent over time also strongly suggests to me that you can get past getting freaked out.

  4. How much do you have saved? How much is being able to drive worth to you? What's the just better use of the funds, the just worse use and the current best use?

  5. Ditto, but, um, I'm not under the impression that most Canadian cities are much friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists or public transport users than in the US. If you ever want to live in the suburbs, ever, it'd be worth it

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T21:21:35.866Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

With regards to the stress, enjoyment, and environmental issues: Consider that knowing how to drive doesn't obligate you to have a lifestyle where you do so regularly. This also covers some of the financial objection, too: I've heard that it's cheaper to have a generally non-driving lifestyle and rent a car (possibly through a car-sharing program) when you need to than to have a lifestyle that involves driving on a regular basis.

comment by beriukay · 2011-06-29T09:40:31.885Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Addressing 1 and 5, I honestly think you're a better person if you don't get comfortable with driving. Ever. One of the main points of the book Traffic was that being comfortable is often more dangerous than being at high alert. Granted, you can't always be in panic mode, but once you have learned to drive, just use the car as a tool to get things you want done, and embrace your fear. Make habits that contribute to being a better driver, like always looking at your blind spot, always go the speed limit, don't brake so hard that a person's head would jerk forward (unless you have to!). And maybe set challenges for yourself, both for fun and to keep you paying attention to the road. I like to pretend that I'm in a space ship with very limited fuel, so I accelerate and brake as infrequently as I can.

As for 2 and 4, maybe you can get help learning from the parent of a friend. It will be awkward, but it will help to limit emotional issues clouding the learning process because you are on your dealing-with-strangers behavior mode.

Finally, I don't have a lot to say about manual cars. They are indeed a pain in the ass, and if you don't think you can handle them now, then maybe you shouldn't start with them. But if you care about Black Swan events, it might be a good idea to learn how to use one after you've learned automatic, just in case you're on a road trip with a friend, who is driving a manual, and the friend has an emergency, and you need to get them to the hospital. Or whatever.

comment by diegocaleiro · 2011-06-28T20:22:28.114Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not allocate enough time in making the world a better place. In particular, and I will stress only this most important particular, I do not get around doing the bureocratic things that precede execution. I plan, and stop after planning. Ex: I wrote a book but am not getting it published Everyone who meets me think I am awesome and wants to join my project, but my projects don't last enough time before the next project takes over my mind I can't pay with my money for loads of utilitarian stuff because I don't feel safe donating so I'm not actually outputting the stuff I should (websites for instance)

MY AVOIDING conditions: 1) There are always better experiential options available instead of bureaucracy. From reading Less Wrong, to going out with girlfriend, or a pic-nic, or playing card-games, watching how I met you mother. Reading Cognitive Neuroscience papers. All those are way more fun, easier, than actually getting things done 2) I'm not safe putting money into stuff that is not me because I do not alief that I am able to acquire money. Being the son of a successful engineer and having chosen to study philosophy/psychology and not buying in to the christian/American morality of work as a value in itself, I hardly think I'll want to make enough money to pay for me. Even if investing little into Utilons is something I really believe would be good for the world. 3) My life has been generally great over the course of the last quarter century, and it does not seem to be the case that going through any bureocracy was required for that. Now that my parents are stepping away, and money is being drained away, this is not the case anymore, but this is not something I alief, only something I barely know.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-28T20:45:22.629Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Being the son of a successful engineer and having chosen to study philosophy/psychology and not buying in to the christian/American morality of work as a value in itself, I hardly think I'll want to make enough money to pay for me.

Wow. I had a surprisingly strong emotional response against that. I'm still trying to parse why, and it probably says more about my psychology than about yours. I think it boils down to the following beliefs that I seem to have: a) everyone should try their best to be self-sufficient, otherwise the weight of freeloaders will drag the rest of society down, b) anything can happen to anyone at any time and if you're not trying your best to be prepared, you're an idiot. Etc. Again, I'm not trying to attack you in any way. Your system sounds reasonably healthy, as long as you can afford it financially. (I know people who are similar but who really can't afford it, and that may be coloring my perception.)

That probably means that my mind works sufficiently differently from yours that my suggestions may not work, but I'll try my best.

a) Focus on the good feeling of having gotten something done, rather than the negative feeling of starting something that seems like harder work than the 'better experiential options'. Over time, you might find that the satisfaction of having accomplished something is so addictive that it bleeds through into 'I want to start more projects and finish them, so I can have the fulfillment of having finished them.' Of course there are things that are easier than finishing difficult projects, but you might find that after a while, they aren't as fun because you become conscious of how little you've accomplished at the end of doing them. That being said, that's how my psychology works. Yours may require other tactics to get it to cooperate.

b) Your life may have been great for the past 25 years. Don't focus on your life. Making the whole world a better place is not about you. In fact, plenty of people who've tried to make the world a better place, and sometimes succeeded, have suffered in the process. It's not about you. According to utilitarian moral theories, every person's happiness is of equal weight. If the stress of putting off spontaneous, fun activities to finish projects makes you a teeny bit less happy, but it makes just 2 other people much happier, than the total sum of happiness in the world is greater and you can be at ease, having accomplished your goal.

comment by diegocaleiro · 2011-06-29T10:47:14.302Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

NOTE: This is not bragging, I really really want to change many of my ways and think part of this info is relevant to that. Trying to give you a bit more precision about my intentions and perceptions. 1) I'm very good at finishing stuff if it is social/sexual/friendship stuff, or reading, or writing essays. 2) What I am not good is what requires feedback, things like finding an agent for book publishing, writing a good paper even though I am from Brazil and no one would revise it, or pretending to be interested in a low-impact master thesis. Now, to your comments: Sure man, having gotten something done is great, now the kinds of things that really make me shine inside for having done them: Creating new friendships between two similiar people, giving presentations on transhumanism or philosophy and being high regarded, seducing women whom I'm likely to love, winning in intelectual games, and more than everything, being regarded, after planning an event, as a person who really takes the fact that we only live once and thus ought to savour every moment seriously. I've been told that I'm the person who most changed their lives by at least five people. I've optimized for being considered awesome by those who know me little. These things, I like the feeling of having done. Now if you ask me about how good I feel about having written a book on Dan Dennett, about having writen three unpublished philosophical articles, or about having caused 5 people to take immensely seriously the possibility of dedicating themselves to transhumanism/singularity/utilitarianism, I would be ridiculously lying to say that it makes me happier than, say, reading less wrong replies about my comments.

comment by Swimmer963 · 2011-06-29T11:47:37.739Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So basically, what you're saying is that you get satisfaction from doing things that give you fairly immediate rewards (being considered awesome) from people. If I guess correctly, you are probably quite extroverted and like being around people. (This is fairly rare on LessWrong, and it isn't the case for me.) A possible solution would be to try to tie those things you don't get as much satisfaction from (writing a book, writing philosophy articles, etc) to getting respect and having people think you are awesome. If you can think of a way to do that, I'm guessing it would help.

I would be ridiculously lying to say that it makes me happier than, say, reading less wrong replies about my comments.

Like I said. Making the world a 'better place' is not necessarily about making just yourself happier. (Though I haven't done a huge amount on that front either.)

comment by falenas108 · 2011-06-27T21:47:28.828Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working slower to avoid mistakes. (I don't want to, I'm just told I should.)

  1. I've only had one person who was able to legitimately judge my work (at an internship), and my work/mistake ratio was not unreasonably high.
  2. There is evidence to suggest that the person giving this advice trying to justify to herself how I can get the work done far faster than she could, although my opinion on that could be personal bias.
  3. There is someone checking over all my work, so even when I do make a mistake it is caught without becoming a serious issue.
  4. The only way I would be working slower is checking over all my entries before I submit them, which would just be duplicating the job mentioned in 3.
comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T00:32:22.249Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless the person complaining is the person who checks your work, or there's some reason to believe that they'd have more information about the ideal speed to mistakes ratio than you do, I suggest just ignoring it. If one or the other of my caveats is true, I suggest asking the person who checks your work for more information about the issue, so that you can see why you should want to work slower and avoid more mistakes.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-29T21:48:16.125Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to think I needed to learn this. Then I was given unsupervised access to do accounting entries, and discovered I could double-check my work quite well when there was an actual nee. I just can't stand wasting time on it normally, for the #1 and #4 reasons you listed.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T11:04:03.032Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

EDIT: decided i had revealed a lot more abaut myself in this thread and since it's no longer active I'm redacting a lot of stuff.

I should have more IRL social contact, especially in some larger group.

1) (this is the main one) There is none to have any social contact WITH. If not for the very low prior I might think there simply isn't a single interesting person within a 100 mile radius from here. I don't think I could say I live in the middle of nowhere, but it certainly feels like it. Maybe it's unreasonable to expect the same quality as online in a much smaller search space, but being around people you can't respect as somehting more than dull tools just isn't socially satisfying, when I know I could be online and chat with actual PERSONS. An LW meetup or convention for somehting I'm a fan of is somehting I'd jump at, but nothing even close to that never happen around here and probably never will.

2) I have psychological issues that I do not wish to discus in detail, but the end result is #REDACTED#

3) For various reasons setting of a few hours to go somewhere is inconvenient, and #REDACTED#

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T18:26:58.959Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is none to have any social contact WITH.

It would help to know approximately where, geographically, you are. I hear people in west coast US say that all the time, because it's just plain difficult to figure out how to find interesting people if you're not a natural extrovert. I don't really know any other portion of the world, but I'd assume that it's very rarely true that there really aren't any interesting people around.

I probably need some kind of person who already knows me well to pull me out

Speaking from my own personal experience, with my own personal issues, which are totally not your issues: There are really cool people out there who are safe to be yourself around. If you can find them, then (a) you have someone you don't need to worry about being strange around and (b) they can then help you navigate larger groups.

If you live in the right city, you can probably find groups of 10-20 people that don't mind you. I've found a few gatherings of 100+ where I can get away with being myself, but those are usually annual music festivals, geeky conventions, etc..

Depending on the issues, it may also be more likely than you think that you can learn to function socially despite it. I've developed high-functioning abilities despite three different psychological issues that can impair me. Part of it is just recognizing my good days and having people close enough to make impulsive plans with. Part of it has been finding weekly gatherings where I can flake out as needed and no one minds, because the group is large. Part of it is a lot of practice. And, unfortunately, part of it is just being privileged to have been dealt a higher-functioning hand in the first place, which not everyone gets. But if you can handle online social, I'd guess there's good odds you can learn to handle face-to-face :)

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T23:10:31.550Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sweden. Anyone who live anywhere in the US have it EASY. I'm not sure what my extroversion stat is, I think it might be context sensitive.


I don't live in any city. And I don't live even remotely near the right city.


comment by MixedNuts · 2011-06-28T08:40:25.252Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Herre gud, du bor hundra mil från civilisationen!

I'm moving to Stockholm in a few months. How long does it take to go from Stockholm to where you live? (I don't have a car, but I'm willing to take a ridiculously convoluted series of trains then walk for a couple hours (more if not snowy).)

Given your issues, I recommend associating with other neuroatypical people and various weirdos. We're better at handling unusual problems, won't despise you for ridiculous reasons (in particular, will handle murderous tendencies as a danger that needs routing around, not a reason to shun you), are used to questioning everything, and benefit from helping each other.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T09:26:50.160Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sent you my address. Please don't come at night and stab me. Or share it anywhere public.

Also, the murderous part was a joke guess I should have made that a bit clearer...

comment by EvelynM · 2011-06-27T17:31:25.648Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've noticed that some varieties of interesting people (programmers, writers, painters, composers) like to get away from their regular routine to work on projects. They sometimes get invited to retreat centers, which are in remote areas, where they work on their projects, and get housing and regular meals.

Do you have the resources to invite interesting house guests for brief project visits?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T17:36:06.173Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Even if I did, inviting a stranger to live with me sounds questionable. And also I don't see what kind of project could possibly happen here.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T18:19:33.174Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even if I did, inviting a stranger to live with me sounds questionable.

Invite people you know from online. Bayesian updating should give you a decent baseline for whether it's plausible that this person is just scamming you. It's a bit of a trust leap, but I've done it plenty and no one has taken advantage of me. It also helps to remind myself that traveling all that way just to rob me is a pretty big financial waste, and rapists probably aren't going to spend weeks getting to know me online (nor are either group likely to be people I find fun to talk to online to begin with!)

I don't see what kind of project could possibly happen here.

Programming can happen anyplace I can plug in my laptop, and a change of scenery often helps, as does having someone interesting around to fill the rest of my day. Writing can happen even without electricity. Drawing, world building, sketching out plans for other projects and soliciting feedback, bouncing ideas off of you. Most any craft skill (sewing, wood carving, knitting), and those also presumably are a lot more fun to do around someone else.

You could also just go on random wandering adventures if you live in a nice neighborhood or near some interesting wilderness. Requires a car or a proclivity for walking, of course. I get the impression you don't have a car, but your visitors might.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T23:22:08.589Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yea, that'd work obviously, but it limits the pool to people I know personally online. The probability of that AND them being close enough AND them wanting to do a visit/project like that is low enough that it seems unlikely to ever happen.

And what about any of those things can't they do at home? Perhaps you're operating under the assumption that I am interesting or useful in any way?

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-27T23:27:31.004Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps you're operating under the assumption that I am interesting or useful in any way?

Humans are social animals. They like being around other humans. Ook ook. That's really all that's necessary, aside from being socially compatible. Unless you have some condition that makes you significantly worse at face-to-face interactions, people who like you online will probably like you face-to-face.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T00:26:59.103Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is highly counterintuitive to me, but it's worth a shot and asking shouldn't hurt. Thanks. Still have no idea how to find anyone who lives close enough and might be interested thou.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T01:56:27.946Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is highly counterintuitive to me...

Extraverts are weird like that. It's generally counter-intuitive to introverts, but observably true in many (possibly most, depending on how you account for selection bias) cases anyway.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T08:44:15.788Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see quite how introversion or extroversion is relevant to this. I don't see why they'd expect the quality of social interaction to be higher quality than some random neighbour within walking distance.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-28T22:53:44.766Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The same reason you'd prefer to talk to them online, rather than some random person off AOL - you're someone who shares interests and has the intelligence required to follow what they're talking about.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-29T09:26:13.214Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

... Ooooooooh, NOW I get it. And feel like an idiot.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T07:09:20.654Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You've provided a lot of useful information towards coming to possible paths to the goal you've posed.

I've a few more questions mainly around the strictness of your constraints that I hope will clarify the space of reasonable solutions.

I'm also trying to point towards a profile for what you consider the boundaries of an interesting person as well as easy heuristics for filtering to find these people.

Regarding (1):

Can you provide some elaboration around what you mean by an "interesting person?"

What heuristics do you currently use to determine whether a person is interesting?

Generally how long does your evaluation period last?

Regarding (2):

In the past, what kind of traits unify people that know you well and whom you would feel comfortable pulling you out if you were acting strangely?

In the past, have any of these people not stand out in a crowd? If so, do these people share traits that are different from the larger group of people who've known you well above?

Regarding (3):

How strict is this constraint i.e. how far would you be willing and able to travel on a regular (say weekly?) basis for face-to-face social interaction? The answer could be which case all social counter-parts would have to travel to you.

Is it possible to get into town via public transit such as a bus or train? Do you know anyone (apart from your mom) nearby who might be willing to drive you into town? For those people who are on the margin in your belief of their willingness, have you tried asking them to test the proposition?

How strict a constraint is your psychological problem with breaking routine? Are we talking no behavior modification on your part, and so simplifying the question to finding people who're willing to come to you / alter their behavior for you? Or are you open to exploring routine breaking as a means towards this end?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T09:17:38.234Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Heuristics: It correlates a LOT with reading LW, and also in general sharing interests and internet-cultural background with me, as well as being generally smart/nice/artistic/a formidable specialist at some specific field.

I don't know what you mean by evaluation process. It's more like a hidden property I collect evidence for or against, so I'll hopefully eventually become fairly certain but new evidence can always change my mind. Also the interestingness of people can change as they learn more or I learn more etc.

It's not rally a very high grade concept that probably doesn't correspond well to any natural category or predict anything other than my attitude towards someone.



I'm getting unconformable with how much I'm revealing about myself.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T09:39:09.826Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're uncomfortable, then you can stop here, right now...also, later. No one should feel they need to reveal more than they want. I will not be hurt if you decide you want to stop.

I'm trying to build a profile so that I can think of ways you can find interesting people nearby.

By evaluation process what I mean long do you take to decide whether you want to continue or discontinue talking to someone. In other words, if you meet someone for the first time, when do you know whether they are interesting. By adjusting this process you might be able to increase the number of interesting people you find.

I don't want to pry into your relationship with your family, and so if you don't want to talk further about them that is fine. It seems that a lot of stress and a high cost to failure would be major factors to consider in any recommendation.

Questions you definitely don't need to answer:

  1. How openly can you talk with your family?

  2. Are they in favor or opposed to you socializing with people face-to-face?

  3. If they are in favor, do they have the time / means to help you socialize?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T09:57:22.310Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. about most stuff verily so, although I can't count on them to be rational. Think sort of like rationalist!Harry's situation from MoR.
  2. very much in favor
  3. yes.

I don't have any standardised "evaluation process", it depends on the opportunity cost and probabilities of various outcomes for the particular case.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T10:30:08.178Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Three suggestions then:

  1. Enlist the help of your family to ferry you to population centers, friends, or wouldbe friends; eventually you'll have non-family relationships that are strong enough that these new friends can come pick you up on the way elsewhere thus reducing the burden on your family.

  2. Look into activities, hobbies, etc. that involve other people. People often gather around crafting something, music, political activism. You may also find some public debating societies interesting. There are also some public speaking clubs like Toastmasters which should draw people who have something to say and who are interested in meeting people and self-improvement.

  3. Spend some serious time reflecting on and understanding what your criteria for an interesting person is. If you are more "luminous" about this, then you may be able to more efficiently find people nearby who you are interested in.

I will keep thinking on this and see if I can come up with other immediately actionable suggestions.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T10:58:00.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. is already my default solution, but there are no friends or wolfbe friends to be shipped TO, and "population centre" is way to vague

  2. Don't find things like that interesting and don't have the time for a hobby like that.

  3. I don't really think there is anything to know. The word was never made to stand up to any serious scrutiny and is just a kludged pointer in a general direction.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T11:06:37.012Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. Asking them to drop you on a street-corner with a lot of people probably won't go over too well.

How is your time currently distributed? Is there anything you're currently using your time for that you would be willing to and have the ability to redistribute towards social activities?

Obviously, this is going to subject to cost-benefit considerations, but some sense of how much flexibility you have here will help point towards realizable social activities.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T12:43:04.897Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

it's complicated, but the end result is equivalent to "yes, but not much"

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T17:03:10.119Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have a look around to see if there's a social/support group for the particular psychological issue that you are dealing with. Then meet with them.

they will understand the issues you are facing and may even have new ways to help you deal with them... but most of all they will at least understand what you are going through.

Can't guarantee that they won't be tools, of course, but I've often found I have to get different needs fulfilled by different groups of people. For the "being interesting" need look into groups that have similar interests to you. is a good place to look for groups nearby to you - they have groups for just about anything you can imagine and you can find the closest one to you that way... and if there isn't one... consider starting one up. If you register a group with meetup - other people near to you that are interested in the same thing will be notified - especially if you tag it appropriately (people watch, say, "meetups in my area that are to do with futurism" or whatever...)

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T17:47:08.793Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, just... no. #REDACTED#

I'll check out the meetup site. I've always assumed that if there was a meetup for any of the things I'm involved in I'd find out about it through ordinary forums and blogs and such for it, but &&ing a lot of different more minor interests or organizing one on a site like that might work.

Edit: nope, checked every group in my entire COUNTRY, which was not all that many, and not a single one of them sound even remotely interesting. Maybe I really do live more in the middle of nowhere than I thought. I wont even bother registering and trying to start a group.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T21:46:11.565Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

where do you live?

...and have you made it to (or started) any of the LessWrong meetups?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T22:40:00.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Southern Sweden. And yea I've checked the possibility of starting an LW meetup, there's nobody to come.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:02:41.165Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Correction: there's nobody that's said they want to come.

If you start up a meetup - some people may come out of the woodwork. I know of at least one very cool programmer-dude in Sweden (stockholm) - there must be other cool geek-types about too.

have you considered getting into programming (if you're not already). AFAICT, there's a high crossover rate with LW-types there... and certainly you'll find people interesting to talk to.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-28T15:15:04.582Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm already into programming. I dabble in several languages, have top grades in it, and love the art form. Unfortunately I don't have time to practice and get good enough to do anything useful in a reasonable amount of time.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:17:32.214Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't have to be "good" to go to meetups or hackdays.

Just go.

If you need to learn anything - you can use the meetup/hackday to actually learn what it is you don't know... or just to have fun.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-27T19:02:52.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can always move :( but as handoflixue said knowing your approximate location would be useful.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T22:41:38.853Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nope, I can't actually. Again the mental helth stuff and related red tape.

comment by erratio · 2011-07-01T12:19:06.886Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't blog as much as I would like to. I would like to blog more because I think it would make me a better writer, because I sometimes have sufficiently interesting thoughts such that I would like to flesh them out in writing and/or be able to share them with others, and because it's a low risk method of decreasing my self-consciousness. Oh and also because sometimes keeping records of what I thought/did at particular times in the past is extremely useful.


1) It feels egotistical/arrogant to think that anyone wants to hear about what I did today and how it affected me, and other 'diary' type things. So writing about those things would be a waste of other peoples' time, and a turn-off for any future visitors to my blog. (Note: I do write privately about those things sometimes, mostly when something happens that has the potential to change my beliefs. But I often start out with such posts as public and then change them to private halfway through writing them, because the idea of publishing them makes me cringe)

2) My thoughts on non-personal topics are usually not completely thought out. Writing them in non-complete form ends up being rambly and inconclusive, which is again a waste of peoples' reading time. So I often decide to wait until I've thought about it in more detail, or to write a rough draft elsewhere before writing a polished post, and then never get around to writing any of it.

3) My writing style in general is often more long-winded and opaque than I would prefer. This causes a mild ugh field around seeing my own writing anywhere in the public domain, especially if it's more than a paragraph or two long.

4) I am self-conscious in general about exposing myself/my work in public. Blogging was supposed to help with this but I've actually gotten more self-conscious about it over time, not less.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-07-01T17:51:11.949Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Keep a public blog under a psuedonymn, where you post the ramblings, daily life, and so forth. Your friends might enjoy reading it, and it lets you practice writing. Whenever you write something particularly interesting on your personal blog, do a second draft that cuts down on the rambling and post it on your main blog.

comment by erratio · 2011-07-01T22:36:33.938Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is largely what I already do (keep a pseudonymous public blog) but as I said, my self-consciousness about posting material there has increased over time. I have 'daily life' posts on it from years back that would make me cringe hard if I were to go and look at them.

Come to think of it, my self-consciousness is strongly correlated with the number of people that I'm not close friends with who follow my blog. So starting a new secondary blog would remove that barrier. Alright, I'm going to commit to trying to keep a primary and secondary blog for at least a month, and see how it goes.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-02T15:19:19.867Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If your blog has gained readers, that seems like a pretty good sign to me that you're not just wasting peoples' time.

comment by erratio · 2011-07-02T21:50:22.772Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good point, and one I should remind myself of more often

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T14:34:38.380Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Write suggestion-driven fiction.

comment by Perplexed · 2011-07-01T15:29:56.077Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Write suggestion-driven fiction.

What is "suggestion-driven fiction"? Googling was unhelpful.

What it sounds like is fiction in which the author has no particular story in mind as (s)he begins the narration, but rather the author generates plot and characters in response to reader suggestions as each chapter is published.

If that is the kind of thing you are talking about, it sounds very intriguing. But I wonder how a beginner captures enough initial readers to generate the suggestions. Reciprocity? If someone wants to organize a circle of three or four novice writers producing serialized fiction on their blogs and providing suggestions to each other, I would like to join the group.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T15:50:09.374Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yea, that's basically it, or at least that falls squarely into the category together with some other things. The most common by far is a sort of communal roleplaying where the actions of the protagonist are determined by the community but you do everything else.

There are a lot of sites with communities that do these things, usually the games/roleplaying section of various forums or image boards. There are also sites that specialize in them, in which case it's usually some specific type of them such as illustrated ( ), branching+anonymous+collaborative ( ), etc.

If you wait a week or so, the lesswrong forums will probably be a good place for you to start a tradition of them, in case you don't want to learn the culture of some existing place. You could also run it on that biog you already have and rely on the comments functionality.

I follow a lot of these things, in a lot of places, and know a fair bit about how to make one successful, so if you're ever in doubt or interest or inspiration is inexplicably dying feel free to ask me.

Oh, and please post a link here whenever you start so I can read it and suggest things.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-01T16:29:19.911Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can also write stories set in a collaboratively-created world. I think this is commonly called 'conworlding', but I don't know enough about it to know if I'm actually using the term correctly.

Here are two examples of the kind of thing I'm talking about. (If you sign up for the former, which has a rather high proportion of transhumanists playing, let them know that Adelene sent you - I get imaginary currency for recruiting.)

comment by erratio · 2011-07-01T22:39:02.156Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not the kind of writing I was talking about, unfortunately. Fiction is another area where I would like to eventually put in some work but it's not even close to a priority at the moment.

comment by Morendil · 2011-07-01T13:11:53.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Keep a private blog, and consider posting to a public one those essays that you're particularly proud of.

comment by erratio · 2011-07-01T22:49:22.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

See 3), I have an ugh field around looking at my writing that means if I waited until I felt proud of something I wrote I would never publish anything. My current workaround, which I've used for academic coursework, involves pre-committing to aiming for a minimum level of quality rather than trying to be happy with my work. After sufficient time has passed since writing, I can usually look at it more objectively. Which suggests that I should commit to posting privately and then revisiting posts a week or two later after the ugh field has faded

comment by Strange7 · 2011-07-01T23:56:30.586Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe set things up so that, once you write something for the blog, it's automatically released to the public three weeks later unless you come back at least one week after initially writing it and manually keep it private? That way, the embarrassment acts as a reminder to review and revise.

comment by kurokikaze · 2011-06-30T10:59:32.181Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I want to lower my "off-topic" Internet usage when I'm on work.

What do I have now:

  1. No penalties for surfing Reddit if the work is done on time
  2. RescueTime for counting hours I spend on work and hours I spend on various lolcats (right now my efficiency is 0.5, which mean ~ 1 hour of reddit per 1.6 hours of work)

Why I want to do that? To have more time for my own projects and work.

What's keeping me from doing that:

  1. I'm afraid to burn out doing only the programming-related stuff.
  2. Some sites are just addictive (yes, Reddit, I'm looking at you).
  3. I'm slightly tired from two years long project (I'm going to vacation in less than 1 month).
comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-30T12:37:23.918Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ask someone to look over your shoulder at random times but maybe once per 10min on average.

comment by kurokikaze · 2011-06-30T14:26:45.056Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm, I don't want to distract even more people from their duties, but this may work. I'll see what I can do.

Still, more ideas are welcome.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-30T18:11:07.003Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You could set a timer/scrip to remind you to look over your own shoulder.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-30T18:50:43.090Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's entirely possible you have at least one co-worker with the same issue, who is also interested in fixing it. You could thus offer a mutual benefit :)

comment by beoShaffer · 2011-06-30T20:10:31.357Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know someone IRL who was having that problem. They modified their computer so that they were simply unable to access certain sites. I believe it involved having the browser block certain IP addresses but I can't really remember. It was possible to undo this but it took far to much work for a stalling activity.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-30T21:02:40.878Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Leechblock, yo.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-06-30T21:28:36.484Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Leechblock's never worked for me. It prevents me from visiting the sites I normally use to procrastinate, but it doesn't actually decrease procrastination; it just makes it more tedious and frustrating.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-30T22:06:27.311Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The point of it isn't exactly to stop you from procrastinating, as I see it. The point of it is to remove specific temptations that you have particular trouble overcoming. You still have to actually decide to do the work, even if you block everything and have to decide to do the work rather than, say, going for a walk or something. (That, and you can use 'I'll turn leechblock off when I've accomplished X' as a motivation source, which is pretty useful for me at least.) If you're not in a mindset like 'I want to do X, but my habit of doing Y instead is getting in the way of that and annoying me', it's probably not going to help much.

comment by kurokikaze · 2011-06-30T20:59:30.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ha, I've written delaying proxy for this just like in xkcd.

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T09:04:51.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would like to go to grad school for physics and philosophy.

The Situation:

  1. I did my bachelors in Economics at a very good American university, but I only did moderately well.

  2. I took mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and wave phenomena. I also took theoretical multi-var, linear algebra, and abstract algebra, basic statistics, econometrics. In philosophy I've only taken a course on Kant's ethics.

The Constraints:

  1. I have not taken quantum mechanics, statistical thermodynamics, or any science-relevant philosophy (i.e. metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of ...).

  2. I've not taken the GRE, either general or subject. The Physics GRE covers QM and Thermo.

  3. I have no formal research experience working under anyone.

  4. I am currently working roughly 9-6 Monday through Friday with about a half hour commute on either end. It takes me about an hour to get ready in the morning.

  5. I am currently living in Beijing, China as an American expatriate. My Chinese is decent, but not fluent enough to have deep conversations or to make day-to-day interactions easy. I take about 3.5 hours of Mandarin instruction a week with probably 2 hours of out of class homework.

  6. In order to combat depression, reduce stress and maintain my health, I try to cook lunch every morning as well as go swimming. Since the nearest pool that is open in the morning is a 30 minutes away I have been getting up at 5 AM and have been arriving at the office a little after 9 AM.

  7. I feel very lonely as my family and friends are almost all in the U.S. or U.K. still. As such I need to devote some amount of time to both socializing face-to-face here and to communicating with friends and family back home. This was recently exacerbated by my father having major surgery (which was successful) and by my persistent if now mild feelings of unrequited romantic love.

The Problem:

I believe I need to teach myself QM and Thermo to a sufficient level to do well on the GREs. I also need to brush up on the other subjects which I haven't touched in about 5 years.

However, I find I do not have the time / motivation / ability to teach myself these subjects. I have been making some progress reading through textbooks, but I have found that without working through problems all the way to their conclusion I don't really learn or internalize the ideas and practices.

Additionally, I'm concerned about demonstrating sufficient worthiness in other ways i.e. via recommendations, research, experience, etc.

I am open to inquiries regarding my motivation for this goal to help point towards near substitutes.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-06-28T21:27:05.445Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe I need to teach myself QM and Thermo to a sufficient level to do well on the GREs.

Yes, that will be necessary to do well on the test. You should also be prepared to review classical mechanics and E&M. Having a good set of freshman-level physics textbooks is helpful, because many of the problems are at that level. I recommend the two-volume set by Resnick, Halliday, and Krane.

You should check out the forums. You will be able to find a fair amount of advice threads for people in similar situations (lacking the full complement of upper-level physics courses, in need of research experience, etc.), as well as a lot of general advice about the physics GRE test. You can also try starting your own thread on that forum to solicit more advice. The consensus is that going to grad school in physics without the undergrad in physics is difficult and requires a lot of effort, but it's not impossible if one is dedicated and takes the initiative.

In general, a career in physics is going to require a lot of self-study. Grad students often end up working on such specialized research problems that the only way to learn about the topic is to read lots of published papers, which are often much more difficult to understand than textbooks.

For quantum mechanics, I recommend Griffith's Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. I am not sure why you haven't been working problems all the way through, but if it's because you don't have the correct solutions against which to check your answers, the manual for Griffith's textbook is easy to find. Unfortunately, I really don't know of a good undergraduate-level thermodynamics textbook.

For the general GRE test, buy a commercial test-prep book (personally, I prefer Barron's) and go through it cover to cover. Take the diagnostic test, figure out where your areas of weakness are, study them by working through the sections in the book that address them, and then take more practice tests. (Repeat if necessary.)

I think you would have an easier time finding a professor who would let you work in eir research group, or a college that might let you audit classes, if you were in an English-speaking country. The language barrier will be difficult to overcome for both of those activities. This would also help with the problem of loneliness. In addition, if you take the general GRE in the US, you can take it on the computer instead of on paper, which some find to be a more intuitive format. (At the least, it's nicer for writing the essays.)

comment by Bagricula · 2011-06-28T23:49:32.774Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many thanks. Good advice all. The resources you're suggesting are particularly helpful.

I will hopefully have many of those books in the next few weeks depending on shipping to Beijing.

I am hoping that I can get into a program before leaving the country, but regardless I am committed to resigning and moving by middle of next spring.

I am also looking at the terminal masters programs in the U.K. I know Cambridge has some.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-06-29T00:48:00.613Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am also looking at the terminal masters programs in the U.K. I know Cambridge has some.

That is a good option to get experience with research and coursework. Also, I think European schools tend to place less emphasis on the physics GRE than US schools, although there's some variation in that.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-06-27T20:21:40.311Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really need to get far more strenuous exercise than I currently do, but I can be very uncomfortable exposing myself to any criticism from people I don't already know. I live on the edge of a village nearby to a woods which I currently walk in occasionally. Other people use it regularly, and as a teenager, I often get the impression they think I'm there to drink or do drugs if I'm there at any time other than approximately three o'clock, when my school gets out, although in fairness drunken teens do litter the area regularly. I often find myself lacking energy and motivation, and I've always heard that good exercise can help with depression... I just can't seem to ever work up the determination to start going running,

If someone with better social skills than I could give me some instructions on how to deal with them, that'd be great, although any other advice is very welcome. I always did my best to keep to the sidelines during PE. I have Asperger's if that's any help...

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T20:23:31.627Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you can afford it, you may be able to nonverbally signal to onlookers that you are there for Serious Running by showing up in a Serious Running outfit with corresponding accessories.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-06-27T20:34:49.029Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, that would be a simple solution. It seems rather obvious now, I just nod, mutter 'good morning/afternoon' and run on... which they accept as a response without question because I'm there for Serious Running!

My family's relatively well off, and my birthday is coming up, so the cost isn't likely to be a problem unless it's very expensive. I'll check out the sports store next time I'm in town and see what sort of kit they have available. Thanks again.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-06-28T14:15:24.496Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't really need much by way of accessories to signal that you're running for exercise, just some clothes that are clearly more appropriate for accommodating sweat than for fashion, and probably a water bottle if you're running long distances.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-06-28T17:20:53.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is also a valid point. I don't currently have any exercise clothes beyond old shirts though, so I need to buy some anyway. My wardrobe primarily consists of 'fade into the background' gear, and school uniforms, with an old suit jacket kicking around somewhere.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T09:36:45.471Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"serious" runners wear whatever they want. This is Anton Krupicka. He runs ultra-marathons. 100 mile of trail, all of it over 9200 feet in just over 16 hours. That serious enough? He runs in shorts and running shoes, often shoes he's "modified" himself.

You wanna run, run. If people think you're getting high, you are. It's ok, it's legal.

We all worry about what other think about us, and if we knew what other thought we'd often be offended, hurt, amused, or turned on, but if we let that get in the way of what we know we ought to be doing, well, that's not exactly smart, is it?

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T15:33:32.425Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the "you shouldn't HAVE to worry about what people think about you" mode of thought, but the point of this excercise is to treat these things as if they were the person's true rejections.

And if they are their true rejections (which they very well may be), then how is it possible to still excecute X action that they desire to, while circumventing the previously stated rejection.

Assume the LCPW where I implanted a device inside Fergus' head, which will explode if he worries about what he's signalling/what others are thinking about him/getting criticism, when he runs. Then propose solutions that let him both run, and not have his head explode. Concrete advice, not just, "Well, if you didn't think that way, your head wouldn't explode. So don't think that way."

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-30T11:11:46.628Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am treating it as if it's a blocker to him acting on a goal.

And I never said "you shouldn't have to worry...", all I said was that letting what other people think get in the way of doing the right thing isn't very smart.

Sometimes the best way to overcome a block is to just accept that things are like that and push on. The opinions of strangers is one thing that you cannot (much) influence. You should consider how you appearance and actions look to them because of things like them calling the police because you're wandering around at 2 in the morning howling along to Norwegian Death Metal, but if you just want to go trail running in a place where other kids like to pour cheap booze down their throats and start on the next generation, then just keep running.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-30T13:14:00.730Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Again, I agree... outside the bounds of this excercise.

I have absolutely no objection to any of your advice, whatsoever. It's all pretty good advice, if presented a little forcefully. But I get that sort of "tough titties, now do the work" methodology. Nor would I be making any noise if this was only an article about aspiring rationalists giving advice to other aspiring rationalists.

But it isn't.

The point is to figure out a strategy to AVOID the obstacles presented, not insist that the obstacles be removed. That way the obstacles can no longer be used as an EXCUSE not to do the thing. The point of the Rejection Challenge is to excise excuses not excise obstacles.

The one: "I can't get from point A to point B because there is a wall in the way." The other (1): "Walk around the wall. Get a ladder and climb over it. Get someone to boost you over. Etc., etc." The other (2): "Break the wall down, and walk straight from A to B."

We want to take path 1, not path 2.

ETA: If you disagree with the core point of the excercise, I don't think anyone would object to you commenting and saying so, while explaining precisely WHY.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-06-29T15:18:55.452Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Running through the woods half naked wouldn't make things any easier, you know. I see what you're saying, but it's more about keeping my 'slate' clean and not getting into trouble for some reason.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-30T11:12:25.313Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're running a 6 or 7 minute mile they won't bother you. And if they decide they want to bother you they have to catch you.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T21:56:38.655Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

...and I recommend getting an iPod and noise-dampening earphones. Even if you don't listen to music, they're good so you don't have to deal with hearing people and can ignore them more easily.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T00:33:26.646Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you just want to have an excuse to ignore people, the player is superfluous; the earphones are the signaling part.

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-28T17:22:44.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pfft i listen to something on my ipod quite a lot and people still seem to try to talk to me.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T17:51:09.605Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There seems to also be a body language component, but the presence or absence of a functional music player won't help with that, either. (I can't really give advice on the body language bit; my natural body language apparently communicates that I want to be left alone without any effort on my part, and I haven't investigated what it would take to change that.)

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-28T18:01:21.802Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you are a lucky bastard then. I might even have my eyes closed with my headphones on and people will talk to me.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T18:18:35.255Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It occurs to me that you could try clothing-based signaling. On further reflection I remembered one period where I did pretty regularly have people approaching me, which involved a particularly nice winter jacket, and ended when I took the (faux, I think) fur-lined hood off of it.

For the opposite effect, I assume one would aim for 'frumpy', or at least 'generic'. My usual wardrobe is fairly boring; I actively avoid anything with a logo on it, and mostly wear plain single-color pants and shirts with uninteresting patterns (subtle all-over paisleys or florals, mostly; I'm not sure what the male equivalent would be). I also picked up a habit a few years ago of wearing a baseball cap whenever I'm out of the house; the incongruity (baseball caps are unusual for females to wear, and I make little to no effort to match my cap with my outfit) might be signaling something useful, but people were already approaching me infrequently enough before I picked the habit up that I can't really tell if it's made a difference.

comment by beriukay · 2011-06-29T10:05:49.303Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I also seldom get bothered when I'm out and about. I wear single-color, logo-free shirts (though often bright red or green), with black or grey carhartt pants (which are pretty normal here), and a backpack. I often wear a jacket, even when it is warm, to hold my stuff and because I work in a climate-controlled room. Furthermore, I pay almost no attention to my head or facial hair. So about once a year, I shave off all my hair, and maybe thrice a year do I shave my beard. Needless to say, I exude "don't bother me!" when I'm walking or shopping.

What is rather strange is that one of my closest friends dresses similarly, but is often harassed by strangers. Even to the point that he is sometimes stopped by cops to ask why he's walking. The biggest difference between his and my dispositions is that I flatly don't give a crap about most of the people I see, or what they think of me, whereas he is always thinking about how he is perceived. It seems that by worrying that he might look like a child molester sends off social cues that he is guilty about something, which then makes him a target for more harassment.

It is true that I don't go walking as often as he does, so my sample size is smaller. Nor do I go to as weird places, because he would often stop at wifi hotspots to write emails. It could also be that my backpack sent social cues that being unencumbered doesn't.

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-28T18:32:58.797Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am someone who generally throws a pair of whatever seems will be appropriate for the weather (pants or shorts) and a random t-shirt on. I am not even sure if i match most of the time. I have a beard which is quite uncommon for men in our society(which to me is mildly sad)

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-28T18:24:15.138Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am someone who generally throws a pair of whatever seems will be appropriate for the weather (pants or shorts) and a random t-shirt on. I am not even sure if i match most of the time. I have a beard which is quite umcommon for men in our society(which to me is mildly sad)

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T18:28:07.456Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are the t-shirts plain, or do they have designs (text, images) on them? What are the designs? Do they signal affiliation in any way? What's your usual context?

comment by beoShaffer · 2011-06-28T18:19:15.312Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder are these people you know, and if so is there anything about your reputation that might encourage them?

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-30T17:43:10.873Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No these are bus drivers and random people on the bus.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:49:27.029Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

...oh and I should also point out that to make proper noise-canceling headphones work they do need to actually be plugged in and active. If you're going to be walking through noisy places and want quiet, you'll need the iPod too.

... not that this should at all get in the way of your excellent riposte ;)

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-06-28T17:18:38.719Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Normally I'd take the advice, but the woods is owned by the forestry commission. They're subsidised by the government on condition that they let the public, e.g. me, have access, but they run a forestry college there. With all the heavy machinery and chainsaws that implies appearing every so often. I didn't mention it, so you weren't to know, but I'd prefer to be a little safer in exchange for the added boredom and exposure to noise.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T21:17:49.360Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes - extremely good point.

I also recommend allowing yourself to hear if wandering around near traffic.

Being able to hear "watch out for that bus!" has very high utility.

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-28T15:14:18.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, but they have a useful clip to hold the other end of the earphones steady :)

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T15:25:52.759Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Darn expensive for a clip, though. ;)

comment by AngryParsley · 2011-06-28T06:37:21.655Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I run a decent amount and I used to be self-conscious about it. Eventually I realized: What does it matter what random strangers think? Their opinion of you has no effect on your life. They won't even know your name or remember your face.

Now it doesn't feel the least bit unusual when I ignore people. I'm breathing hard. In a few minutes I'll be half a mile away from this person. Why spend the effort to make eye contact and nod?

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-29T22:02:51.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You could always exercise at home. Pushups, squats, and crunches are all easy muscle building exercises there. I personally love "DDR" (video game) for this - a used copy of the game, a cheap dance mat, and a used PS/2 can be had for under $100 pretty easily.

I also occasionally just jog or walk especially fast during my normal day. I've never had anyone comment on it, even when I do this downtown. Amongst other things, I'm moving faster than them ;)

I would second the suggestion of "self modify so you don't mind if people think you're high", but I don't think that's the simplest way to get exercise :)

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-27T18:58:09.436Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I cannot wake up on time for things more than 80% of the time even once my circadian rhythm is set in place. Ive tried alarm clock in the closet>two alarms everything my body always seems to bypass the issue. Does anyone have some methods i may not have tried yet?

comment by taryneast · 2011-06-27T21:54:29.755Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't have this problem, but I'm told this article is excellent: How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off

comment by SimonF · 2011-06-28T09:35:37.294Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Tried it: Works!

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-28T16:12:39.832Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems very useful, i shall try it. EDIT: I haven't been more than 3 minutes late for two weeks so far. By tricking yourself out of bed and moving faster it really makes it easier to get up.. Thank you so much Taryneast :)

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-06-28T15:47:24.652Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If the clocks are enough to make you wake up even for a brief moment (but not enough to keep you awake), try having a supply of caffeine pills next to your bed, and take one when the first alarm rings. Then sleep for half an hour more and get up.

That's worked for me for several years, though my difficulties in getting up were nowhere as serious as yours.

comment by Unnamed · 2011-06-28T16:56:48.103Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Part of the problem could be that your alarm is waking you up at a bad part of your sleep cycle. The times when you wake up more smoothly could be times when your alarm happens to sound during a phase when you are less deeply asleep. There are apps (like Sleep Cycle on the iPhone) and devices that track your sleep cycle and make the alarm go off at the appropriate part of your sleep cycle.

comment by beriukay · 2011-06-29T10:15:48.610Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you got friends or roomies who would be willing to help? Every time I ask someone to ensure I'm awake at a specific time, I wake up before my alarm AND before the friend wakes me up. Though it is only a trick I use for important occasions, it has a perfect success rate for me.

If you can't get someone to help, and you are capable of receiving phone calls, depending on time zone and time of day, I would be willing to give you the occasional wake-up call.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-05T15:39:53.958Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I use friends sometimes, but they have to remember or i can sleep through the alarm.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T09:43:02.004Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is a device called a "zeos" ( that is basically a low-rent EEG that can do the math and wake you at the optimal part of your sleep cycle. Yeah, it's kinda expensive, but I'm trying to talk myself into buying one.

Beyond just waking you at the appropriate part of your sleep cycle you can also use it in conjunction with a food/sleep diary to track how changes in your life patterns effect your sleep.

I just finished reading 4 hour body (Tim Ferriss) where he mentioned this, and one thing he mentioned was that eating a high-protein snack (he recommended tablespoons (or was it teaspoons?)) of almond butter right before bed lead to better sleep, and less problems waking up (he attributed this to low blood sugar in the AM, which might be). (I also learned about the zeos in his book).

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-05T15:42:28.407Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When i am no longer a poor college student i will try this. As for the food, ive never noticed how certain foods affect my sleep probably because ive never held all operational variables except it steady while ive tested it. I will try to take an almond butter celery snack when waking up is more imperative.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-28T12:31:59.662Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have the same issue. My current patch is to have ten alarms set on my phone and one on my alarm clock at ten minute intervals starting from the half hour or so before I have to wake up.

Even still, it's a struggle.

Now, is it a matter of not getting a sufficient amount or sufficiently restful sleep? Or is it inability to wake on time regardless of how much sleep you get?

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-28T16:14:42.824Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regardless of how much sleep i get. Sometimes its easier to get up on 4 or 6 hours of sleep and harder on 8-10, but as you said it's a struggle.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-28T17:47:04.114Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I read somewhere, several years ago, that for most people, getting up after less than 3 hours of sleep is fairly easy, and getting up after more than 6 hours of sleep is fairly easy, but getting up after more three but less than six hours of sleep is very hard - the model was something along the lines of 'after three hours of sleep, human brains assume that there's time for a full night's worth of sleep rather than just a nap'.

I don't have any references, nor any significant amount of evidence that this is the case (though it seems to work for me), but the idea that if you get more than X amount of sleep you need to get X+Y amount of sleep in order to wake up easily seems like a potentially useful theory at least.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-28T16:45:27.397Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'll propose an experiment:

Try falling asleep at different times, and recording your difficuly-to-get-up on some arbitrary scale. Record (approximately) how much time asleep you get along with this.

The "recommended" 8 hours may not be optimal for your physiology.

Disclaimer: Not a doctor, nor an expert in sleep, in any way... This is just from anecdotal evidence. (Girlfriend sleeps about 5-6 hours a night, and is functional. Friend can't function without sleeping 9.)

If you find an amount of sleep that is testably better than the alternatives, at least this might help.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-29T22:05:42.803Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oddly, I find 8 hours of sleep is the worst for me. I do vastly better on 6 or 10 hours of sleep. So there may be multiple optimums, and not necessarily following an intuitive pattern.

comment by falenas108 · 2011-06-27T21:33:46.882Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I personally set 5 alarms :)

If that sort of thing isn't working, try opening a window to get sunlight in, or if possible have a friend call you when you want to get up.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T23:27:57.656Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

have a friend call you when you want to get up.

Or have the internet call you.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-05T15:44:24.274Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sunlight helps a bit, but my phone doesn't wake me up and 5 alarms is a bit too much for my roommates at this point in time, i will inevitably leave one or two on and they will be bothered :( Right now i just use two, 1 for still have time to shower, 1 for must wake up now.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-06-27T21:50:21.996Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I was attempting to transition to polyphasic sleep, I set 9 alarms. This was not overkill. In case you don't want to buy 9 alarm clocks, I used my cell phone, iPod, and computer for alarm functions.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-28T16:07:16.721Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How was polyphasic sleep?

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-06-28T22:53:59.828Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The most difficult thing I've ever tried, extremely fun, and overall a failure. I tried it four times, each time noting the possible failures of my attempt, and improving them the next try. By the end I was pretty sure it was impossible (for me).

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-29T16:49:31.565Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How far did you get/ Are you a vegetarian or vegan/ Have you tried biphasic sleep?

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-06-29T19:16:39.981Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"How far" seems hard to measure. I was able to (with a friend) wake up every time, but I wasn't able to stay awake 100% at night. Micro sleeps are virtually impossible to eliminate. My friend hallucinated. During the day though, we felt normal after a few weeks. This was deceptively promising. Eventually, we had to concede, and just sleep regular, if we ever wanted to attend classes or a job.

I am not any special diet.

I have not tried biphasic, because it doesn't really give you that many extra hours.

Any more questions are welcome!

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T19:24:07.747Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What schedule did you use? Because "polyphasic" is a catchall term for sleeping in more than one interval over the course of a 24 hour period.

Uberman, everyman, and dymaxion are the most commonly spoken of, in my experience.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2011-06-29T19:50:47.078Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thirty minute naps every six hours. That one didn't have too much data behind it, either.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T19:58:43.046Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's the dymaxion. I've never tried it myself (School/work being inflexible in hours to the degree that I wouldn't be able to nap.), but of what I've read, it's one of the most difficult to acclimate to.

One of the easier ones (or at least easier than dymaxion, maybe not as easy as biphasic, but it gets more wake-hours) is the Everyman. It's a three-hour core nap with three evenly spaced 20-minute naps during the day, with some room for flexibility.

And the basic rule from that three-and-thre model (which can get you down to biphasic, or up to the uberman) is for every hour of core you add, remove one nap. And every hour of core you remove, add a nap.

comment by magfrump · 2011-06-27T17:58:40.003Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I too have the seeming common problem of not eating enough vegetables. However I seem to have different reasons from what others have posted.

First, I don't have a car so I tend to need to shop in spurts, vegetables tend not to stay good long enough to get loads of fresh ones. I buy some frozen vegetables but I don't think it's sufficient (or as delicious as I'd like).

Second, I tend to put off preparing vegetables or have only one way of preparing them. Learning to cook new ways, and even cooking things in ways I know, tends to take more time than what I'd do otherwise. Also, if I start cooking something else, I'll often continue with that and forget to start making a vegetable alongside it until it is too late.

Third, I can be a bit picky in terms of what vegetables I like, though I have started to come around to several recently. I need an arbitrary decision mechanism for trying new things, ideally including a vegetable, a time to buy it, a specific recipe that isn't too much trouble, and a specific day on which to prepare it.

As a side note, a month or so ago I did a similar exercise with respect to alcohol; I used to not drink at all, but a combination of having more money, needing new things to do to be social, a change in my social group, and plans to visit Italy and Germany (famous for their wines and beers) became sufficient conditions for me to try it out, and I have had a good time learning how I interact with the substance.

comment by Mass_Driver · 2011-06-28T05:45:51.874Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vegetables that stay fresh for a long time without being frozen, and can be eaten raw or with a dip or dressing (i.e, no recipe needed):

Whole carrots, snow peas, romaine lettuce (look for a plastic bag with three fronds in it), spring mix lettuce, basil, zucchini

Potential sources of vegetable phytonutrients that come as ready-to-eat preserved snack foods:

Terra Chips, V-8, Bloody Mary Mix, Roasted Nori (Seaweed)

comment by magfrump · 2011-06-28T06:36:40.886Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I enjoy carrots but recently they've given me a terrible feeling in the back of my throat when I eat them, so I need to chop them up to put them in something. I keep frozen peas and romaine around; that's about the extent of my success. Spring mix is a bit bitter for my taste and I don't like the flavor of raw zucchini. I'll try out basil.

I don't like chips in general and definitely not seaweed; perhaps I'll give V8 a try though.

comment by novalis · 2011-06-29T19:47:49.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A fix for bitterness in vegetables is to add salt. I always salt my spring mix (after dressing it with oil and vinegar).

Most non-chefs don't use enough salt in their cooking for optimal flavor. That said, salt depends heavily on the individual, so in many cases it's OK to salt at the table.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-28T08:34:06.186Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you tried grating carrots? My impression is that grating will reduce them to smaller pieces faster than chopping does.

comment by magfrump · 2011-06-28T11:45:33.302Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A little bit, but I hate cleaning graters and grating with a peeler is much slower than chopping. Perhaps I'll try it again though.

comment by beriukay · 2011-06-29T10:19:09.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe a cheap food processor? I got one at a salvation army-type place for $5. Though getting a more expensive one would make cleaning a lot easier.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-27T16:18:01.018Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am mildly malnourished. I am far too thin for my height/age and I do not eat in sufficient volume or sufficiently healthily.

Cost is the major prohibiting factor. I live at home, but I pay for most of what I consume. (Breakfast/lunch.) I am working full time, saving for college.

Food preparation in advance is an option, but I tell myself I don't have the time to do so. Plus buying pre-prepared food is easier and I lack the motivation to make food if I can just buy it.

If I try to prohibit myself from spending (leaving my money/debit card in my car or at home) then I'll more than likely just not eat.

When it comes to preparing food at home, if there is something unhealthy, but gives the illusion of being filling, I will more than likely take that instead of taking the time to make something.

Also, slightly tangential, but still related: I can't eat food that has not-food parts. Examples: apples, I will cut up beforehand and eat only after slicing and discarding the nonedible parts. On meat that has a small amount of fat, I have to completely trim and remove it before starting to eat. I cannot even touch ribs, even though I know I'd like the taste, nor chicken with bones.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T17:25:20.151Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you eat grapes, or do the stems give you trouble? Consider keeping canned fruit around (peaches, pears, mandarin oranges, pineapple, &c) or dried fruit (raisins, dates, craisins, papaya, whatever) as a way to get fruit that does not include non-food parts. Similar options exist with vegetables. Frozen also works - frozen cherries are already pitted for you just like canned ones.

Keep simple stuff around: for instance, buy hummus, spreadable cheese, guacamole, cold cuts, etc., and keep a sliced loaf of bread in the freezer. At will, break off an arbitrary number of slices, toast bread, put stuff on it, nom.

Hardboil eggs - you can do an entire layer of eggs (how many that is depends on pot size) in half an hour, during most of which time you don't have to be doing anything, and they keep really well. (Put eggs in a single layer in pot. Cover with cold water, plus an inch above the top of the eggs. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from heat, cover, time 15 minutes, and then drain them and put them in cold water with some ice to bring the temperature down. Store in fridge. To eat, peel (thereby removing all nonedible parts) and take a bite; good with salt, better with salt and also other spices.)

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-27T18:04:40.490Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Grapes are fine if I pick them off the stems and discard first. Canned fruit is actually a good idea. Those single-serving Dole fruit cups also come to mind as something I can toss in a bag with a spoon, no preparation necessary.

And actually, the hardboiled eggs all-at-once thing seems like a good idea. I think it'd be easier to prepare in advance if it's a one-time investment of an hour total prep/cook time every week rather than 15 minutes the night before every day. Even building a half dozen sandwhiches Sunday evening seems like less of an investment than making one an evening. Any other ideas for batch food-making?

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T19:01:04.952Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I give this exact advice often enough that I should just put it on a website.

Bean soup/stew

Buy a bag of dried beans, put them in a pot with as much water as the instructions on the bag suggest, bring to a boil, then simmer until the beans are soft. You will probably want to add some salt at some point.

Ways to add some variety to this dish, all of them optional:

  • Use different kinds of beans

  • Before putting in the beans and water, sautee some stew/soup-type veggies in the same pot pot (e.g. chopped onion, carrot, celery, chopped tomato). Then add the beans and water.

  • When the beans are almost done, add some leafy greens (kale, chard, etc.) or chopped scallions/chives/&c to the pot.

  • Before adding the beans and water, cook a little bit of chopped garlic or other spices in the pot with a little bit of oil.

  • Before adding the beans and water, fry up some chopped bacon or turkey bacon, chopped sausage, or anchovies (use low heat for anchovies).

  • After adding the beans, add a little bit of cured meat (e.g. prosciutto, bresaola, etc.).

  • Add a couple of bay leaves with the beans and water.

For the meats, a little bit goes a long way and you may not need extra salt.


Follow the instructions on the box (but remember to salt the water heavily, at least a full teaspoon, probably more) to cook the pasta. When it's done, drain it in a colander. Optional: You can stir in a little bit of grated Parmagiano or other hard cheese for added flavor and protein/fat; if you don't want a "cheesy" pasta just stop adding cheese when it doesn't seem to be absorbed into the pasta anymore.

For sauce, here are some options (add spices to any of them if/when it seems like it might be a good idea):

  • Use pre-made pasta sauce

  • Brown some garlic in a little olive oil or butter, add anchovies at a low heat, then once they dissolve in the heat add some chopped tomatoes.

  • Sautee some subset of (chopped onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery) then add either chopped tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes or canned tomato puree.

  • Cook some fresh or frozen veggies with a little oil and maybe some spices, then mix in with the pasta

Also, I found the results-to-effort ratio on this mac-and-cheese recipe to be quite satisfactory.

Some non-batch items you might try are baked potatoes. All you have to remember is punch a couple of tiny holes in the top so it doesn't explode. You can make them anywhere you have at least a microwave by putting them in for 7-10 minutes depending on the power of the microwave.

comment by Fergus_Mackinnon · 2011-06-27T20:10:03.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can vouch for the Pasta recipes with great enthusiasm.

Another food I'd recommend for ease of eating and cheapness, is Shepherdess pie, Shepherd's pie with the meat replaced with vegetables, which I personally prefer. Linkage!

I did a google search for 'batch cooking', and this result may be of interest to you.

comment by Benquo · 2011-06-27T21:10:27.470Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect that the most useful component of advice may often be mentioning the relevant search term or the name of the relevant field. Cf. Lukeprog's point about not being able to find good resources about the neuroscience of desire until he found the term "neuroeconomics."

I should give advice like that more often, e.g. "google 'batch cooking'." There are often implementation details available elsewhere.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-06-27T18:38:30.670Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Soup is easy to make in batches; legume-based soups freeze well and others freeze at least tolerably. Measure out servings into (well-sealed) tupperwares and freeze them; chuck one into your backpack come morning. Pasta salad, potato salad, egg salad, or tuna salad can also be made in large amounts - they won't freeze as nicely, so you'd want to put them next to your frozen soup or one of those things that you put in lunchboxes to keep stuff cold.

comment by randombit · 2011-06-27T22:15:06.982Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The last time I made lasagna, I made 5 of them - one we baked and ate that night (and as leftovers over the next few days), and the others we wrapped and froze. This requires you to have several Pyrex baking pans (currently 10-15 US$ each), and substantial freezer space (both of which we already had), but the work required for making 5 pans was perhaps 2x making a single pan, and if we are hungry and don't want to cook we can just take a pan out and bake it, dinner in 30 minutes with no effort. Baked and refrigerated they last several days, enough to eat over several lunches and dinners. Enchiladas also work well for this. Both make a nice alternative to the classic frozen stews, soups, and chilis.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T16:59:51.459Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm assuming that by 'pre-prepared' you mean something like TV dinners or pizza from a restaurant. If that's the case, you can look for things that are close to pre-prepared without being as expensive as that. My go-to meal solution in that vein is microwavable rice or pasta (example), possibly with things added to it. A packet of cheddar-broccoli rice or pasta with a can of tuna mixed in makes a nice casserole-type thing, for example, or a packet of pasta alfredo with a can of chicken mixed in. You can also mix in veggies (canned or frozen are probably most convenient) in addition to the small amount that most of those packets have. This takes less than 5 minutes to put together, cooks in 10-15, and even with added things shouldn't come to more than $3 or so per instance - $1 or less per instance if you look for sales on the packets and don't add anything. If you don't mind bland food or taking the time to add spices by hand, you can do something similar even less expensively by buying large boxes of instant mashed potatoes or instant rice, or instant oatmeal for breakfast.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T10:01:30.921Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On Sunday night cook for your family. Cook them chicken breasts, or steak, or pork loins. Cook 6 extra (or, if your mom is willing have her cook these with sunday's dinner). This is your lunch the rest of the week. Before the meat is even cool put it in ziplocks and put it in the refridgerator.

At the same time buy a bunch of carrots, celery, bell peppers and green beans. Buy a bunch of cans of various kinds of beans--go to the Save-A-Lot or whatever store the poor folks in your city go to. Kidney Beans, Black Beans, whatever. Cut up the celery, carrots and bell peppers and put it in baggies with a bit of water to keep it fresh. Green beans you can cook or not as you want. Get two gallons of WHOLE milk, a big tub of Protein powder and some way to mix it, and a dozen eggs. While you're cooking the meat and cutting the vegetables Sunday night, hard boil the eggs. You can find protein powder on the internet delivered much cheaper than you can buy it from GNC. Oh, get Whey protein, not Soy. Unless you want tits of your very own.

Breakfast is 2 hard boiled eggs and a 16 ounce protein powder milkshake. There is a phenomenal amount of nutrition in that. Lots of calories too.

Lunch is whatever meat is left over from Sunday dinner and a couple bags of fresh vegetables. (I would suggest varying the type of meat to cover more bases nutrient wise, but chicken seems to generally be the cheapest per pound).

I'm assuming you eat dinner with your family? This will fill in enough of the other micronutrients you need that you should be ok.

This should take about 1 hour on Sunday to do the prep and cooking, and about 10 minutes a day to mix the shake and pull stuff out of the fridge. If you have extra money you can do stuff like squash (cook one on Sunday, eat it all week) etc. Chili and stew are other things you can make in bulk on your one day and eat the rest of the time

Aim for getting about 200 grams of protein a day (that's grams of protein, not grams of meat use to sort out what you need).

Buying in bulk saves you money. Cooking them all at once saves you time. Putting them in the fridge saves the food. Having it all prepared saves you from having to think about it.

Oh, and two or three times a week stop by the gym and pick heavy shit up and put it back down for a while. This will solve the thin part.

comment by JackEmpty · 2011-06-29T12:45:55.201Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This doesn't address the "minimal effort" issue as much as I'd like (driving to stores and buying counts as much as preparing food, as well as searching online and doing online ordering), though it is admittedly very akratic. But you seem to be of the "just balls up and do it" persuasion, so I won't object there.

Having pre-prepared eggs in the morning (instead of at lunch as others suggested), along with better meals instead at lunch seems like, well, a better idea. I think I'll start a routine of that this Sunday.

Oh, and there's a Costco in town, so bulk purchases aren't that difficult.

As per the excercise: a year or two ago when I was sailing for 6 hours a day, every day of the week for 4-5 weeks of the sumer, I was the thinnest I've been in some time. But I was FIT. I'm not sure of the science of it all, but I'm not a weakling. I can do a dozen pullups... fairly successfully. Building an excessive amount of muscle mass isn't something I'm too into (being weightlifter-buff is unappealing, but being martial-artist strong is more ideal, if that makes any sense). I just want to eat healthier and not waste away entirely :/

Oh, but semi-related, my cardio is utter garbage. I can sprint faster than most people I know who run regularly, but I'm coughing and wheezing ten times quicker. And no, I don't smoke nor live with smokers.

comment by handoflixue · 2011-06-29T22:10:45.054Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm coughing and wheezing ten times quicker

Could be exercise induced asthma. I got an inhaler for that, used it a few times, and it let me push myself to the point where I could develop actual muscles there. I can job a couple miles without problem now, and haven't used the inhaler in months. I have no clue how typical this result is, mind. I still occasionally find it implausibly successful >.>

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T11:31:58.947Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Donating to chairty*: My mum says I'll need the money myself later, and I heuristicaly don't trust myself to make financial decisions due to mental health issues. On one hand, I don't trust her to know the value of efficient charity thou, and I don't really have any good grasp of what I'd need money for, on the other hand I don't really have any good grasp of what I'd need money for and she seems to and come with all these things about survival and education and debts and stuff when I ask.

*Given that I donate to charity I'll donate all of it to SIAI, but that's not obviusly relevant here.

comment by saturn · 2011-06-28T20:31:14.429Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think you should donate if you don't understand your own financial situation.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-29T09:25:27.947Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's how I reason as well... but there's a lot at stake.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T10:19:57.900Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You keep coming back to your mental health issues.

Before you donate to charity you should try to make sure you don't wind up in a position to need charity (and yes, this is not something one has full control over, but an F4 shattering your house to toothpicks is a very different thing from getting thrown out of your apartment because you were incapacitated for a couple months and got reduced/no pay). Save your money or spend it on specialists/treatments likely to reduce your problems.

This will wind up cascading into other areas of your life.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-29T10:44:16.537Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's roughly what mum says to, based on less rationality but a lot more info. So I guess I'll just continue trusting her then.

comment by BillyOblivion · 2011-06-29T11:11:42.922Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has your mom ever given you a good reason to distrust her motives?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-29T11:21:32.883Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. But she have given me reason to distrust her rationality and understanding when it comes to efficient charity.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-06-27T18:59:46.205Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My advice is give money to charity up to your tax deduction level as a starting point, then use the rest of your money according to your personal utility function ;)

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-06-27T22:42:25.489Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone from LW saying that dosn't add any new information.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-05T16:13:25.349Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sorry, i didn't fully understand your living situation at first :( I hope you work out your mental health issues, the only advice i can offer is to remember the days your mental state is optimal and crystallize that feeling in your memory possibly linking it with a hand movement like tapping your leg in a specific place. Every day you have a good day add to the memory and the Neuro-Lingustic Programming should allow you to fall into that state of calmness and focus when you need it by repeating the hand movement. This takes at least a week of effort before you notice the effects, but it helped me out alot at a tough time in my life.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-05T16:22:56.659Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Neurotypicals can just remember entire mental states like that and just restore from backup?

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-05T16:30:43.055Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Its more like a feeling that washes over your mind. The most memorable moment i had was sitting in Physics class unable to focus on what my teacher was saying because of distracting high school drama that i knew i shouldn't focus on because we were reviewing for the AP exam. I tapped my leg with two fingers which was my one for "calm" and the mental urge to check my phone for text messages faded and i was able switched my focus back to the lecture. I wouldn't say its entire mental states as much as partial emotional states.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-05T18:43:50.936Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

that honestly sounds like gibberish to me.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-05T19:47:39.951Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Translation attempt:

Neurotypicals can just remember entire mental states like that and just restore from backup?

Not entire mental states, but emotional states, and the states aren't consciously remembered, but triggered like reflex behaviors. The suggested exercise is basically classical conditioning, except that one doesn't have to figure out what the unconditioned stimulus is in order to associate the response (the emotional state) with the conditioned stimulus (tapping oneself with a finger).

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-06T11:25:44.402Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. Not sure what could be used as a baseline or how to detect it thou. And extinction would be a huge problem.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-06T20:23:50.378Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. Not sure what could be used as a baseline or how to detect it thou. And extinction would be a huge problem.

Sorry, i thought the anecdote would be more explanatory then the old Pascal's one that i grew up with :(

Extinction is best prevented by reinforcing the stimuli randomly, its like in a casino, a random reward is much more enticing then a pattern reinforcement. Basically, you just pick a random day that went well and run your mental macro/hand motion while relishing in the memory/emotion of the day. As for baseline, if you don't notice it after about 5-7 times worth of training your brain on different memory's over the course of about a week then it probably wont work for you. Just remember to use variable interval reinforcement to prevent extinction and pick a hand motion that feels simple, but unobtrusive to do in public.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-06T21:11:21.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "pick a random day that went well and ... relishing in the memory/emotion of the day" part is problematic for multiple reasons.

(also, does that kind of conditioning really work with that kind of thing?)

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-06T21:38:23.884Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(also, does that kind of conditioning really work with that kind of thing?)

The majority of the literature on it debunks it as not very useful.. but i noticed positive effects when i self tested the theory. If you have an inspiring or happy moment come up feel free to start testing it, i just felt like the majority of my other suggestions weren't very useful because i didn't know your living situation and this was my personal psychotherapy tool for a while.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-06T21:39:37.073Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sounds like placebo.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-07-06T21:41:41.443Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel like the majority of our emotions are heavily influenced by the placebo effect, but some people do require the occasional SSRI as well. Relationships are the best example of this, one word can have an immeasurable emotional effect if mentally misconstrued incorrectly.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-06T21:58:47.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If it's the placebo effect, and I start out believing it's only the placebo effect and it's not gonna work on me, it's not gonna work on me.

If I didn't have the problem I could just cure everything to the maximal ability of any placebo effect to handle by tying my mind in a knot and then blinking.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-06-25T14:06:57.934Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'll try this at the Seattle Meetup.

comment by Dorikka · 2011-06-25T12:56:00.316Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this should be discussion level.

comment by Kevin · 2011-06-25T13:30:58.799Z · score: 26 (28 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Disagree! Less Wrong needs more meme-y posts like this. Longness is not an inherent virtue.

comment by AmagicalFishy · 2011-06-27T15:37:35.595Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with you, Kevin.

comment by rabidchicken · 2011-07-02T04:49:11.165Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I should be less secretive and try to let other people know about problems before coming up with a solution on my own more often. All of my attempts to come up with a specific scenario to mention in this post already violates the tendency which I am trying to eliminate. It is a vicious cycle. I suspect this post may have been pointless...

comment by rabidchicken · 2011-07-02T04:48:32.848Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I should be less secretive and try to let other people know about problems before coming up with a solution on my own more often. All of my attempts to come up with a specific scenario to mention in this post already violate the tendency which I am trying to eliminate. It is a vicious cycle. I suspect this post may have been pointless...

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-02T15:16:33.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not clear to me how the two parts of your issue are related - noticing a problem, brainstorming solutions on my own, and then telling other people about it so that they can either make new suggestions or critique my ideas works well for me. Also, 'be less secretive' is rather broad - did you have some class of situations in mind?

comment by falenas108 · 2011-06-27T21:47:23.137Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Duplicate, with a suggestion for the next set of changes: Have what is written in the comment disappear after it is submitted.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-06-28T01:42:42.272Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the suggestion

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T02:32:48.683Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-27T02:31:40.122Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by KPier · 2011-06-26T00:43:37.180Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Double post.

comment by XiXiDu · 2011-06-25T11:20:22.086Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Name something that you do not do but should be told you ought...

Nada, I am already told enough, more than I can handle.

Name something that you do not do but wish you would be told you ought...

I wish more people would just tell me to relax and have some fun (people with arguments in favor of doing so).

Name something that you do not do but should do...

Existential risk mitigation. I don't do it because of uncertainty and psychological distress caused by the fear of having no more time to do what I would like to do based on naive introspection. And I am too selfish to give away large amounts of money that I fear I might need for my self at some point

Name something that you do not do but wish you did...

Be more focused on improving my education. I am too distracted by all the shiny and interesting things out there, by problems I can't solve and real life needs.

Name something that you do not do but are told you ought...

There are many irrational examples here. I am told not to care so much about my health and actually have some fun by drinking lots of alcohol. I don't drink alcohol because of health concerns but also because I simply don't like it.

comment by atucker · 2011-06-25T14:25:58.152Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you be happy if someone told you to do something fun in a way which, in your eyes, is likely to reduce existential risk?

comment by XiXiDu · 2011-06-25T16:51:13.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you be happy if someone told you to do something fun in a way which, in your eyes, is likely to reduce existential risk?

Yes. That would probably mean that I could either learn something by reducing existential risks or that it wouldn't eat up all too much resources.

comment by atucker · 2011-06-25T20:42:24.501Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try starting a German meetup group.

You can learn things with them, and do other fun things.

If you get people into the group who haven't been exposed to ideas, but would be interested in existential risk mitigation then you have a non-zero impact. If you work with them to try to make money and donate some of that, then you will donate without eating up too much resources.

(That being said, I do think that your sending letters to AI researchers is providing probably-helpful information)

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T05:17:56.456Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

After talking to jsalvatier offline for a bit about the issue of wanting to do AI research, but being afraid to fail, I've came to realization that I haven't fully analyzed why I am afraid of it. I'll need to take more time to break it down, but my first guess is simply lost time. But it's very likely that if I try to do the research, I'll realize really fast if I am at all capable of doing it, so the time wasted would be a year or two, which is not too bad IMO.

You said you are interested in existential-risk reduction. I don't know if you mean specifically AI research by it, but if you do, we should try to solve this problem together. I am sure there are other people in similar situation (and there will be even more in the future), so it makes sense to create some kind of standard way of answer the question "am I cut out for this".

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-25T17:23:41.677Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have the same problem with knowing I should work on existential risk mitigation, but I don't. (Not directly, at least. Ideally I would do FAI related research.)

My fear is that I won't be good at it and/or I won't like it. It'll end up as a waste of my time and money, and I won't contribute very much, or may be even worse, I'll waste other people's time and resources.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-06-25T23:34:29.135Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My impression - and admittedly this is just an impression - is that there are few enough x-risk workers that someone doesn't have to be especially good at doing x-risk work to be able to do more good on the margin as an x-risk worker compared to doing other things. This seems to be especially true for people who are good at motivating themselves (so that they don't need a lot of managerial support) and who are willing to do things that aren't particularly glamorous (but it's probably true even when neither of those is the case, so don't use that as an excuse).

"I might not like it" sounds like a fully general argument to me, and there are cheap tests you can do on the other issues. I suggest sending a resume to SIAI or someplace similar; if they think you wouldn't be useful there, you're at least no worse off than you are now.

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T00:30:49.335Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, that's the point I've also been considering, but I don't know how true it is. I am going to (and already started to) talk to people at SIAI and see if they could use my help for anything.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-06-25T19:15:17.255Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is this not working preventing you from doing anything to reduce existential risk mitigation (donation etc.)?

comment by Alexei · 2011-06-26T00:29:52.854Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I still donate and I am doing my best to raise the sanity waterline. But I think AdeleneDawner brought up a good point: there might not be enough x-risk workers to justify not doing it if I can.

comment by CuSithBell · 2011-06-25T14:51:39.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You should relax and have some fun. It could perhaps be justified by increased productivity and motivation on other tasks, but the real reason is so that you can enjoy yourself. Recursive functions need base cases, maximizing the value of action needs to be balanced by acting. You have needs, and one (subgroup) is the need to relax and have some fun.

If you would like more specifics, please let me know.