As I take stock of the free things I already have in my life, I can see that I am very fortunate. Privileged, even. I could be taking advantage of these things much better than I currently am. Some of them include "sunk costs", things I've already paid for (so they're free now).
A bit of background: I've spent 5.5 weeks doing almost nothing but recovering from possible depression. (I've even procrastinated on seeing a therapist, as I promised myself I would!) I've been feeling consistently better, though, and I feel ready to tackle the challenges of life again. To be frank, I probably could have been in just as good a place after 3 weeks, if I had bothered to take care of myself better. As it is, I've spent a lot of time with my best friend--my sister--and I've gone to the gym many times and cooked myself food many times. If I could change the past, I also would have read a lot more than I have, as I intended to (including several books on depression), seen a therapist, got out more than I do, and got back on the programming-wagon.
I cannot change the past. I'm getting on the wagon now. But enough digression. What do I already have in my life?
It's astonishing how much I already have.
Did you know that people are more likely to wash their hands after using the restroom if other people are around? Our desire to present ourselves well permeates everything.
It’s true that individuals vary in how much they monitor themselves in regards to impression management—and this has interesting social consequences. High self-monitors tend to have more friends, being better with small talk and finding common ground and, but these friends have less in common with each other. A low self-monitor may have fewer friends, but if you threw a party with all of their friends, they’d probably get along. Of course, individuals fall along on a spectrum for this tendency.
There are four main ways to facilitate good impression management, two positive and two negative. Negative first: you can intimidate and supplicate (‘I’m too tired’, ‘I need help’) to get what you want. But more sustainable ways of getting what you want from other people are ingratiation and self-promotion.
Ingratiation comes down to doing favors, paying compliments, focusing on areas of agreement, describing ourselves in desirable ways, and being generally charming. Self-promotion is about making ourselves seem desirable that involves telling or (preferably) showing our abilities or accomplishments.
Impression management in intimate relationships is… interesting. For one, people put on their best behavior to ‘get the girl’ (or guy), but may never again put so much effort in to be charming. There are a couple valid reasons for this: We already know our partner likes us (hopefully), and the reality is there is less we can do to change their impressions after they’re already formed and after they see our warts. However, it’s partly just laziness.
(A 'long Pomo' for me is 40 minutes rather than 25. This gives me time to read and write a recalled summary, and usually to write a mini song. Today I ran out of time for the mini song.)
Something strange is going on in the night sky. Look at that vast expanse of stars—do you see it? I see it and SETI sees it too: Nothing at all. But ‘nothing’ is a strange thing to see? Why is that?
It seems every day a new exoplanet is discovered. And look, this one may be in a habitable zone! Best current estimates are that there are billions of planets in the Milky Way. So why hasn’t a single one developed a technological civilization that gives a sign of its existence? (Disregarding controversial or weak evidence like the Wow signal.)
It’s hard to reconcile these two facts: Out of billions of planets, it would only take one to develop an advanced civilization that colonizes the galaxy, and yet we see nothing.
I bet the first part didn’t convince you. After all, why would an alien civilization colonize the galaxy. Well, here’s something to consider: It only takes one. There may indeed be 100,000 others that chose not to, and never changed their mind, but it would only take one. The amount of time for a hypothetically super advanced civilization to colonize the galaxy (if it wants to) depends on how fast they go: but even if they go only 1% of the speed of light, that could be well under 100,000 years.
I did not write this in 40 minutes. No way. I wrote it a long time ago and just edited it. So that was today's thang. (It's funny that I planned to do more in those 40 minutes - you'll see.)
Sherlock Holmes is ridiculous. Indiana Jones and James Bond would have died early in their misadventures. And the reason why is the same fundamental reason that all kinds of projects end up taking longer than we expect.
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” — And die he ought to have
I once collected all the James Bond movies that were available on VHS, accumulating them slowly through visits to a local thrift store. I say this to establish that I really am a fan, even if I'm about to be a killjoy.
See, here's the problem: probability convinces me he should be dead. Like many fictional pop-culture heroes, he is thrusted into situation after situation in which he barely escapes death. Of course, that’s part of the thrill. The close escape and its associated thrill is exemplified in the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark (it's actual title, as my old VHS shows). After escaping from a steadily collapsing stone chamber, Indiana escapes and snatches his signature fedora before a stone wall slams down on where his hand was moments ago.
Given that I'm working full-time now and also deciding to focus way more on fitness than I ever have before (and the most I've done before is lift weights 2-3x/week), I'm going back to 25 minutes, a regular 'Pomodoro' (a focused and intensive--but limited, with an end in sight--work block). This guarantees me at least 10 minutes of reading on most days, plus at least 10 minutes of writing a quick summary to reinforce my learning.
The replication 'crisis' in psychology--and other fields--probably just reflects greater awareness of the actual epistemic value of most studies. Studies haven't been getting worse. It turns out that actually knowing new things is hard! "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" is pretty short (and I'm even more short on time!) and was published in 2005. Given how many times I've heard of it and how many years ago it was, I assume it did a good job of kicking off the agenda of meta-analysis and related thinking that judges the quality of research studies themselves. I can't be more succinct than Ioannidis himself, so here is most of the abstract:
Many studies fail to replicate. (That's what it sounds like: Another team, after the fact, setting up the same experiment and seeing if they get the same result.) A good example is Amy Cuddy's studies on power poses, which the mainstream media and bloggers went nuts about it. Now, this doesn't mean that everything we concluded from studies like those that ended up not replicating are false. But it certainly could mean that. And more importantly, we shouldn't conclude anything.
P-value chasing/hacking. If a study reports p
How interesting that I last wrote 364 days ago. Moving on....
I want to keep tabs on how my life is going in part through a short monthly review, published here. Without further ado...
Five weeks ago I made some goals for the rest of the year.
Suffice to say I haven't been giving them nearly enough time per week to fulfill them, but nevertheless there have been positive effects. For one, I no longer flounder wondering where to go next. I already know the directions I should be pointed. And unlike in the past, these goals still seem good five weeks later. I no longer experience the same degree of guilt that shades into self-loathing. I simply think I need to devote more time, and have some concrete plans to accomplish that.
In short, the goals I had set to achieve by the end of the year are:
It may seem sad that this post isn't relating to the specific goals I set just over two months ago and wrote about around Sep 1st. A classic problem I experience though is finding goals constricting after a bit of time passes. I'm sure this wouldn't be such a problem if I had more consistency in vision and follow-through in execution. At the same time there might actually be something wrong, at least for me, with being overly specific. There is definitely a problem with me expecting too much of myself and calibrating my goal difficulties based on when I am feeling most enthusiastic (a class goal-setting problem). While leaving that tangle largely tangled, I would like to record the following longer-term goal and then some monthly goals.
One Thousand Hours of technical study by my 27th birthday
40 weeks. Sunday September 24 - Saturday June 30. (Ok, that's one day after my birthday but coincides with 40 weeks even as well as the very end of the sixth month of 2018.)
Technical study: Largely web development but here are some things that would qualify: