This is the public group rationality diary for March 1-21, 2015. It seems to be traditional to put a jokily defensive remark about downvoting here, but let's try omitting it and see what happens. Usually these are for 2-week periods, but as I write this it's already the 6th so I've extended it one week; but I recommend that the next be for 2 weeks again, March 22 to April 4. Here's the usual explanation:

It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like: 

  • Established a useful new habit
  • Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief
  • Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations
  • Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior
  • Consciously changed your emotions or affect with respect to something
  • Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life
  • Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you
  • Tried doing any of the above and failed

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

Thanks to cata for starting the Group Rationality Diary posts, and to commenters for participating.

Previous diary: February 15-28

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9 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:31 AM

My sleep tends to be delayed and irregular. I put my alarm clock in a locked box. In the morning, it takes ~45 seconds to get out of bed, walk across the room, and open the combination lock. Since doing so, my waking time has greatly smoothed.


I've always been sort of jealous of people for whom this sort of solution works. When my brother was still in high school, I woke up to drive him to school every morning, then went back to sleep when I got home. I'm better about it now than I was then, but still not enough for this sort of thing to work. I keep my alarm clock on the other side of the room and I never even remember walking over there to turn it off.


Just leaving the phone across the room didn't work for me, but the lock did.

There are all sorts of possible schemes: I also thought about putting the clock up in an inaccessible location (a high shelf in my closet). Then turning it off would require physically dragging a stepladder or chair from some other room, bringing it in, being awake enough not to fall off it, etc.

The remark wasn't "jokily defensive", it's because for a while someone was serially downvoting everything I posted, and I wanted to know why.

I still want to know why!


Noted. I'll hazard a guess that it didn't have anything much to do with the Rationality Diaries. -- Did you by any chance get involved in discussions of politics, gender or race, and take a position that would not generally be described as "really right-wing"? Most of the cases of mass-downvoting I've encountered on LW seem to have been done by neoreactionaries. (Quite possibly just one neoreactionary, who has I think had two different accounts banned for doing this.)

WAIT. NO. I have a good guess as to why and have for a few months, and I have not been clear about my motives.

What I really want is for the downvoter to come out and say "I hold you in such contempt that I'm willing to skirt both LW policy and norms to deincentivize you from participating."

I actually considered posting something like that, but could not figure out how to say it without it coming across as flagrant snark. Well. shrug

Established a useful new habit

Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief

I have always been dubious about the socio-sexual-hiearchy - whether it was an exaggeratioed model or existed at all. But I did expierence it first-hand and updated accordingly.

How did this come about? I actually went to a normal party and participated in real night-life which I had ne need (or time) for before, but due to circumstances found interesting to try. Apparently my normal social peer group (16 friends mostly couples with children) doesn't noticably opperate this way but on the part it was kind of obvious for me. Alpha girl around which everybody orbited, beta girls - friends of the alpha being tagged along, beta men (me fitting in as one), One barely alpha guy being approach by the alpha female. Some other deltas.

Well I could trotally misread this and the alpha women was just the most fun and entertaining person in the room and I'm just ordering this by how much attention everybody got - for whatever reason. But the alpha girl was clearly attractive too. I'm not normally very responsive to this but here it was quite obvious.

Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations

I had to. My new role causes colleagues to behave differently toward me. Everything I say is interpreted with a status-filter enabled. I can't simply propose solutions - it's interpreted as 'should' and seen as tahing autonomy away. At least by many. I'm not used to thiis. Before I was treated as a competent equal. Now that have been singled out I have to change my whole communication approach. I can't any longer just communicate facts. They will not be heard that way. Not only.

The upside - which I have not significantly explored yet - is that I could have more impact by aligning more people. Tricky all that. But interesting.

Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior

I improved my morning routine. I used to set my alarm somewhat early and postpone getting up. I tried a means proposed somewhere here of getting up on first ringing by a) visualizing how it will feel when I'm up and eating breakfast or whatever and b) training getting up by simulation: setting the alarm late on a weekend and then getting up immediately (which was easy because I was well-rested and motivated to change the routine.

I save sleep-time this way effectively because I do not loose sleep by redundant early rings. Caveat: Sometimes I visualize how it will feel getting up and come to the conclusion that resting a bit longer is worth the later stress.

Also note a specific hack I discovered to get up quickly: Relax urination control - in the morning this is likely to increase need. May or may not work for you.

Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life

I'm still open to social situations (the above party one of these) and helpful information related to these. One thing I'm trying cautionsly is drinking in these social situations. I established the habit of only trying one new drink at a time. 'Knowledge' I acquired this way: Drink lots of water in between drinks. Only one drink per hour. Eat well before (and/or during or after) drinking. And the omnipresent advice: Don't mix types of drinks. On my 3 real-life 'experiments' so far I got no hang-over but only moderate sleep deprivation.

I'm fully aware of the health risks and not bound to increase these experiments but I do notice that I get a trove of social experience I don't know how I could have come by otherwise/easily.

Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you

I noticed how depressed I felt when I was ill and how difficult it was to pursue solutions that appear obvious in hindsight. I felt overwelmed by a backlog of household tasks - when I could in fact solve lots of these by e.g. throwing money at them (note that I'm currently in a spot where I severely lack time but do earn significantly more money than I spend. Can spend due to lacking time.

Tried doing any of the above and failed

At one thing I failed big. And I was so proud that I believed that I had succeeded. It's kind of embarrassing: In a stressful period I fell back to plucking my beard and ruined it - despite desperate tries to recover. I went to desperate measures but stress won. Finally I shaved it off. Of course it is growing back slowly, but it taught me that stress is not to be messed with.

A word about the desperate measure above. You might consider it too in some cases, e.g. if you have a blank spot in your beard for whatever reason: Mascara pens can cover up small spots completely convincingly. It is easy. The hardest part was going into a beauty show and asking a cosmetician for suitable color and technique. She was pleasently surprised, gave good advice and mentioned that she'd tell her husband who lamented his blank spots also. She mentioned artificial beard hair but I didn't try that (needs fixation and what not). All in all I made kind of a win out of it. Applied rejection therapy and such.


This is all in the context of my having recently taken on a new, higher-responsibility, higher-paid job in a somewhat larger city away from my family:

I have dropped my diet down to the basics. Over the next few weeks, I will document my intake and establish a diet that is healthy in terms of body, taste, and wallet. Since diets are so incredibly personalized, I won't even go into it here, but I'll be drawing from resources shared through LW.

I have scheduled my workouts, though they are still not to my satisfaction. I have considered looking into fitness programs or martial arts programs to find a setting that is more engaging and demanding than my own personally set routine and potentially more rewarding, depending on gym quality. However, I find it hard to justify $50/month for MMA or Karate or CrossFit when I do not know if the programs themselves are any good or if they will do any good for me personally. I have decided to use my position as head of my library to leverage more information out of the community and determine what places, if any, are worth the time and money.

This is more minimalist than rationalist: I have reduced my consumerism and have begun reducing my material possessions to the necessaries. This rose from a desire to rid myself of home internet, cell phone use, or cable, leaving me free from distracting habits. This also freed up my wallet quite a bit, allowing more funds for saving and investing. I have begun selling off or giving away accumulated books, movies, music, and games, reducing the carry-over from my superfluous childhood.

Goals: I now have a retirement fund started, and I hope to expand on that with a stock index mutual fund. I am not interested in beating markets, only in beating inflation, so mutual funds seem the most rational use of my resources.

I have put off looking in cryonics on the excuse that I cannot afford it. I now can. I must make myself an answer.

I spend an inordinate amount of time right now planning. This is because I am still only a week into my new home, but it is becoming worrying how much mental time I spend thinking about what I "should do" or "would do" or "need to do." I want to eliminate either the beliefs that cause this fretting over things not being "just right" or eliminate the conditions that demand being fixed.

Tried doing any of the above and failed

I used to sleep at 2200 punctually every day (a useful habit), but over the past 2 weeks my schedule has completely fallen apart again. I shall try to rebuild my schedule, since it did work out for about 6 months, but got interrupted due to a vacation.

Fix: I hope simply by posting this here I'll be aware of it enough for the problem to fix itself. Ironic, I'm posting this 15 minutes to midnight...

Tried doing any of the above and failed

I managed to make myself feel good when I worked hard in school and revised to score highly on tests, but for the past 4 months or so I never felt good again to revise or to study (even to do homework!), and as a result I'm doing poorly once again.

Fix: I should get some chocolate and eat it whenever I studied. (Maybe get some bitter thing and eat that whenever I think I'm wasting time!)

Tried doing any of the above and failed

I managed to cut my shower time from 20 minutes to 4 minutes... and now I'm showering for 20 minutes again.

Fix: Same as the first one.

Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you

I thought I understood that scoring well on the finals which are soon approaching was important, but I realise I don't actually believe that. I know the arguments for it, I think it is true, and yet I don't understand it on a level deep enough to get some work done, mainly because of my failure to multiply. Short term gain by messing around always seemed to outweigh long term gain of studying.

Fix: No clue, anyone know how to believe something so fully to be able to take action at a gut level? My friend does that, he seems to study just as easily as he breathes.