Bragging Thread, June 2014

by Viliam_Bur1 min read8th Jun 201462 comments


Personal Blog

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining the most awesome thing you've done this month. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself the coolest freaking person ever because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.

Remember, however, that this isn't any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread. This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on". Have already done. This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.

So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?

(Previous bragging thread.)

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I have translated the whole Sequences ebook to Slovak language. Started in December 2013, finished this week.

Not sure how useful it will be, but at this moment I am happy that I succeeded to not give up during the process, when it felt like it will never be ready. It's over 2000 pages!

(The full version is not available for download yet; the first half is here. The rest is translated in Word, but I still need to convert it to ebook formats. If someone would be horribly impatient, I can send them the Word documents now by e-mail.)

I finished my thesis!

I quit my job for one that I'm much less comfortable with, but with more room for long-term improvement.

In your face, risk aversion!

Congratulations for courage! It may also be a good time to make specific predictions about the "long-term improvement" (specific gains, specific time) and evaluate them later.

I met an awesome girl who was single that I really liked, and followed the classic steps (1- be attractive; 2- don't be unattractive) correctly, and she liked me too!

I realize this sounds kind of trivial (especially since I've dated several attractive people in the past), but the reason it seems like an accomplishment worth bragging about was that I have never previously had a self-conception as an attractive person. I could always explain why others chose to date/sleep with me without needing to believe that I was actually attractive. But I have worked for several years on increasing my attractiveness (gym, social confidence, body language, posture, conversation skills, haircuts) and I am now starting to believe it, a little bit. Also I'm older, that probably helps too.

[-][anonymous]7y 5

the classic steps (1- be attractive; 2- don't be unattractive)

Not necessarily in that order.

I am about to start a well-paying internship in the industry I am passionate about (space), which I am told will turn into a full-time job offer after I graduate (assuming all goes well).

This is exciting for me not just because it's exactly what I wanted to be doing this summer, but because it feels like all the long-term goals and shorter-term course corrections I have made in college have finally culminated and paid off, and I was able to "do it all" without sacrificing much. I came into college wanting to improve my social skills, and ended up leading a fraternity. I wanted to make friends, and have a few core groups that I would trust with anything. I wanted to succeed academically, and will (likely - still have one more year but am well on track) be graduating with honors. I wanted to grow my engineering skills, and have taken leadership in a design team that builds racecars. I wanted to have a career at the end of it all, and now it looks like I'll get it. It feels like I'm winning, and not just on paper but in real life.

On one hand, I don't fully feel comfortable parading this around since I can't take credit for what oftentimes feels like sheer luck and sometimes unfair innate advantages -- my status as an intelligent white cis American male, for example, means I don't have a lot of baggage to carry. On the other hand, this is the bragging thread, so screw it - I'm awesome, and I fully intend to use this to springboard myself to even more levels of awesomeness.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

Is there a reason you capitalized "CIS"?

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I lost 10 pounds in the last 30 days, and I would like to credit part of that to the LW community for introducing me to Beeminder.

May I know how Beeminder has helped in your weight loss?

I've had some success in the past, but I haven't been able to keep with my program long enough to achieve the results I want and I lost motivation. I don't really have a great deal of disposable income right now, so if I derailed a lot I probably would stop using it. I really like the graphs, and by themselves they are a good motivator, so the thought of losing them is a further motivator. Basically I've had a better diet I've been meaning to stick to and an exercise routine that I sometimes did, but this kept me on track and focused on results.

I finished a Machine Learning Course by Andrew Ng!


Edit: I changed my mind. My awesomest achievement of the month is endless conversations and a kiss from a poly connection who thinks deeply and plays DDR and mini-golf and reads fascinating books and makes art. I'm high on hedons right now.

I turned in the first draft of my debut novel to my publisher. Now I get to relax for a few weeks before the real work starts.

Mazel tov! Care to give us the equivalent of the back cover pitch?

Definitely something I'll need to be practicing! Here's my one line summary: A middle schooler takes inspiration from his favorite video games as he adjusts to the challenges life in a new school.

I have an anxiety disorder, and I managed to get through a very stressful few weeks (work deadline, family difficulties, a minor injury, a moth infestation and a difficult accountancy exam), without my anxiety causing too much trouble. A couple of weeks ago I felt paralysed with anxiety, and I forced myself to have a rest and to do some mindfulness exercises. I did the same the next day and I started to feel less anxious gradually. I completed the work deadlines and I'm pretty sure I passed the exam as well.

EDIT: This is particularly significant, since my anxiety has certainly improved a lot over the last couple of years. However, I was worried that it would become severe again in a stressful situation. I'm glad that it hasn't!

I learned enough HTML/CSS/JS to make a basic website and a few interactive apps, and also found a ton of cool resources on learning more CS stuff.

[-][anonymous]7y 9

Similarly to lincolnquirk, I'd be willing to answer any questions of yours, and to test any programs you create. HTML and javascript is a relatively forgiving way to get into programming and it's generally what I recommend to people who want to learn CS.

Thanks! I really appreciate it. I'll keep that in mind when I run into more difficult projects.

Congratulations! I'm generally willing to answer questions from people who are self-teaching CS - I'm sure you have plenty of people in your world who are similarly willing. But just in case, feel free to contact me.

Thank you! I really appreciate that. I'll definitely keep that in mind.

[-][anonymous]7y 24

My second article was accepted to a major journal. (Impact factor in the 1.7-2.0 range).

I squatted 400 lbs at a bodyweight of 154 lbs!

I've been doing squats for around 7 months now, and been lifting seriously for slightly over a year total.

Fuck, that's awesome. I've been stuck with a max of 360 for about a year now, after two years of lifting. What is your lifting program?


I compete in powerlifting, so the programs I've done--since starting to lift seriously/intentionally--are focused around that, especially recently. A quick summary (let me know if you have questions or want more details!):

  • My own linear progression program that employed a split and emphasized heavy compounds
  • Smolov (2 cycles)
  • Sheiko/Cube Kingpin (both were only done for a few weeks)
  • GZCL Method (current)

Of all of those, I saw the most squat gains by far from Smolov. The hype is well-deserved. Just started GZCL and I can tell that it's approximately as good, just more sustainable, i.e., not a competition peaking program.

Some advice that you probably already know, but just in case: record your squat to know exactly what your form looks like to pinpoint weaknesses/sticking points and to make sure you're hitting depth, weightlifting shoes do help, logging/journaling your workouts is huge (probably one of the most obviously "rational" things to do in weightlifting), and of course, get enough food and sleep.

Awesome. I keep seeing awesome reports on the GZCL method... I might have to make that my plan when my back is better.

In Dec of 2012 I was overweight and out of shape due largely to a job which required spending most of the day sitting in front of a desk and not moving. At New Years I resolved to start running and get to 30 miles a week.

After almost a year and a half of work on the first week of June, I ran 35 miles including running to and from work for 4 days of the week and running 13 miles in one long run over the weekend

This isn't strictly speaking "this month", but more "since the last time this thread was around", perhaps three or four months. (ETA: actually, the last such I took part in was October '13.)

Built a 3D printer from a kit. Learnt enough G-Code and OpenScad to be dangerous. Designed a few parts of my own, including some that replaced original parts.

Lost about 6 kilos from my max weight. Anecdotally, what seems to have worked in my case was eating lots more vegs, liberal amounts of meat, and about half my previous quantity of carbs. Also increased exercise a fair bit, incorporating a lot more walking (to or near the oft recommended 10K steps a day) in addition to a weekly run (typically 10K). One of my major objectives was to not feel like I'd gone on a diet, but instead to rewire my preferences so that eating whatever I enjoyed would lead to weight loss. I worked quite a bit on identifying and removing the trivial inconveniences that were keeping me from enjoying vegs and salad more often.

Switched banks. Sounds easy when you write it like this but it's an insane amount of hassle.

You could have created the 'Monthly' bragging thread if you had a suitable opportunity.

[-][anonymous]7y 21

I quit my job almost a year ago, spent most of the time on low-stress skill development and relaxation, and will shortly be starting a much-better-paying, much-lower-stress job.

Cool! Purely out of curiosity, what are the old and new jobs?

[-][anonymous]7y 9

Old job: Systems Engineer for a political group.

New job: Systems Engineer for Amazon Web Services.

Not that much lower stress. But instead of having sole responsibility for a big production environment, I'll be working on a team on a test environment. I get to leave DC, which I've wanted to do for a while, and live down the hall from some of my best friends in the world in Seattle, at a significantly reduced cost-of-living.

I met up with a friend I hadn't seen since high school. I learned on Facebook that she likes to go to karaoke night at a local bar, and I arranged to meet her (and her husband) there and we sang a few songs. (As is my custom, I didn't drink any alcohol.) The music was extremely loud so it was hard to have conversations.

I had a pretty good time and it was a nice change from wasting time on the Internet every day.

I've systematized enough of my business, and trained people to run those systems, that I can now dedicate the first half of my day to learning about cognitive science, psychology, rationality and other related topics. Just started studying this week!

I successfully brewed not just technically-drinkable but actually nice mead ("show mead" - just honey and yeast) in a couple of months, all by myself. And another one by myself and the loved one (rose mead). I've also been blogging on the loved one's mead blog.

I spent the last two months in the valley away from my team and close ones. Pitched my startup to several investors big and small. I had to learn the game and the local culture on the fly. I went through insane ups and downs while keeping it together (mostly).

In the end I returned with signed a term sheet with one of the biggest funds in the valley for about 2.5x the amount I was looking for. This quadruples the value of our shares from our last round in September. Assuming term sheet converts to money in the bank, me and my team will be moving to the bay in the next 6 months with enough backing to take a proper shot at building a huge company. And now, to actually get some work done :)

Well, congratulations. That sounds pretty great! Why move to the bay, was it a condition for investment or do you actually want to do that?

The bay is where it's at for the kind of thing I want to do. The amount and seniority of people I spoke to face-to-face in 2 months in SF I didn't speak to in 3 years in London. San Francisco is a city so dense with developers and startup folk that New Relic feels comfortable paying for poster ads on the street. Being where the density of talent is, is a no-brainer. Besides that, the money is there, the partners are there, and the developer thought leaders are mostly there. It's kind of hard to make a case for being anywhere else, really. Plus, it's a pretty awesome area to live in, on the balance.

I visited in December and it felt disconcertingly like London. How does the actual living compare?

At work, I launched the project that I've been working on for the last two years, which deleted over 100,000 lines of unmaintained legacy code and I got promoted for doing so.

Deletion is a marvellously productive thing. I marvel at projects like LibreOffice, X.Org and LibreSSL, deleting hundreds of thousands of lines from a huge and complicated project.

I publish my first app on google play today. It's a meditation app. It measures how long before you become distracted in your meditation practice. It's free. [ ]

This is pretty much exactly what I was looking for the other day, neat. Can you make it also register volume key presses as clicks? The amount of movement you need for tapping the screen from holding the phone is distractingly large, while you can click the volume keys with very small movements while holding the phone.

If it can be done, I will do it. Thx for the positive support. :D

It makes sounds even though I've set my phone to be silent. That's annoying.

I learned some Ruby on Rails, enough to create a website for me and my family. This gave me a good excuse to finally start writing a blog.

On the blog, I've written up some research I've done recently on fatty acids, and also some thoughts on morality. Let me know what you think!

I thought the fatty-acid article was excellent. (The ethics article was fine but didn't have much that was new to me; that's probably because I've spent a lot more time thinking about ethics than about fatty acids; I suspect the same is true for most LW readers.)

I should add that I am not any kind of chemist and am simply assuming that the fatty-acid article is accurate. (There was one thing I was skeptical about. You kinda imply that fatty acids with any trans double bonds tend to be rigid and pack well, hence waxy rather than oily -- but from the geometrical intuitions in the article it seems like "no cis double bonds" is the relevant condition rather than "at least one trans double bond".)

Thank you! Yeah, the morality one was meant to be what I wish I could tell my teenage self. Also, I wanted to keep it generic and uncontroversial because I think the people who could benefit most from it are more likely to be scared off by anything too unusual.

Well, arbitrary trans fats would be about as oily as arbitrary polyunsaturated fats, but most of the ones that occur are more stiff because this is the reason they exist - trans fats are usually byproducts of hydrogenation, which is where hydrogen is reacted with polyunsaturated fats to fill in the double bonds and make it more solid. So in practice, trans fats are more solid than unsaturated fats. The most common one, elaidic acid is otherwise completely saturated.

Also, I'm working on a follow up to the fatty acid article which goes into how the body uses fatty acids.

[-][anonymous]7y 9

I received negative 111 (-111) karma in my first 5 hours of posting on lesswrong. it looks like i've set myself up to learn a lot here.

Looking at your comments, seems like the problem was (1) posting in ancient threads, (2) at dozen threads at a time, with (3) blocks of text that seems like copied from Wikipedia or somewhere. Each one of these three things could be okay in isolation in a proper context, but together they are unbearable. It feels like being spammed by a "random Wikipedia quote"-bot.

A large body of evidence[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][7][8][9][10] has established that a defining characteristic of cognitive biases is that they manifest automatically and unconsciously over a wide range of human reasoning, so even those aware of the existence of the phenomenon are unable to detect, let alone mitigate, their manifestation via awareness only.

This is one of the worst examples. Since the hyperlinks don't work there, how does posting the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 contribute to the discussion? (Appeal to authority or popularity, perhaps?) Or were you just too lazy to spend 10 seconds editing your comment? You could have posted at least a link to the original source so the curious readers could trace the links.

Also, I think this specific quote actually does not say the thing you use it to support. It says that cognitive biases cannot be overcome via awareness only. (As in: "you spend an afternoon casually reading a book by Dan Ariely, and all your biases are magically cured.") It doesn't say congnitive biases can't be mitigated at all. Actually, if you scroll down the Wikipedia page you quoted, there is a "Cognitive bias mitigation to date" section, which is kinda the thing we talk about at Overcoming Bias and Less Wrong.

More optimistically, if you focus on the current discussion threads, I think your karma will be okay. At least people will be more likely to reply to your comments, instead of just downvoting, so you will get feedback. Also, when you are writing a comment, click on the "Show help" below the edit box, and there is some elementary Markdown syntax. You can also fix the comment by clicking the "Edit" button after you submit it. For example:

> this is a quoted text.

This is a [hyperlink](
[-][anonymous]7y 2

Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions. I can commit to them all in my future posts.

I think you should also stop creating wiki pages with content like this:

The intropection illusion is the illusion that people have mental states - that their beliefs are physical things that actually exist rather than just mental masturbation at best.

Honestly, I think you should avoid editing wiki at all. At least, until you succeed to raise your total comment karma above zero.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

Okay. I don't think I'm having a positive impact here. I don't think lesswrong and rationality are for me. Good luck with the stuff you guys believe in. I'm gonna delete my account now.

edit: does someone know how to delete my wiki account too? i'll delete this and check back to find out how to delete that if it doesn't get deleted along with thiss.

The quotes are a lot of it, I'd wager.

e-and-e: This is a site for discussion. If you say things, you are expected to say them in your own words. Quotes are occasionally useful to help with this, but if everything you say is more than 50% made up of quotes, it suggests that you don't understand the quoted material well enough to say it in your own words, to quote only relevant text, or to be able to defend the ideas from the quote yourself. And frankly, that suggestion is looking pretty correct from where I'm sitting.

I have been able to communicate with the people whose decisions control my life for 5 years in a non agonistic, functional, subtle, mediated manner, despite in the past being very rough with similar institutions.

I've met so many freaking awesome people that I am having to allocate time for new friendships in the future, since I can't fit them in now, with all the dating and world-scale projects, and dancing that are taking most of my time.

I think by now I have succeded in causing people to call me "giego" instead of diego, which took a lot of effort.

I have recreated the Tuesday Dinner tradition I used to have for ten years in Brazil.

I think I have helped fewer people in fewer occasions last month than I normally do, which is a bad thing, but I have accepted that that has only happened because moving 11 thousand miles is really freaking hard and I had underestimated how many different things could go wrong, so I'm not feeling bad about it.

Is "giego" a more accurate way to pronounce your name, or a nickname you prefer, or just something you use to gauge your ability to influence others' behaviour?

Phonetically the sound of my name would be like

Giëgu which is almost exactly what people say in english when they read Giego

very far from the way they pronounce San Diego.

So more accurate. Giego.

Finally dedicated several back-to-back evenings to set up tools and other preliminaries that were keeping me from getting started on a project. (Sorry, no details on the project yet...)

Also spent significant chunks of time on trying to solve some repeatedly-pushed-back problems (e.g. an intermittently failing hard drive).

Result: Lots of progress and a much better sense of what to do next (aka, what to do this week)

I moved to a prettier neighborhood with a roommate who is much nicer than the jerk I lived the past 14 months with.

Finally decided to enter a Kaggle contest. Apparently my bits and pieces of self-taught stats paired with good intuition is enough for (currently) position 14 out of 81 participants.

I have completed and published the 10th scene of my web serial, Watchmirror. I completed a poster for my room in a new style, and did some art for that same web serial.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

I lost 10 pounds in the last 30 days, and I'd like to thank LW for introducing me to Beeminder.

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