Willa's Shortform

Shortform #49 Specificity

I mostly talk about my own life in these shortforms, and I'm partly okay with that, because doing so has been nice and helpful for me thus far, but I want to talk about other stuff too. So, I'll work other sorts of topics into these posts as I desire: right now I want to learn more about and discuss specific life interventions others have tried and the resulting effects from said interventions. Time to ask that question via the site's "New Question" feature!

If you haven't yet read Liron's Specificity Sequence you should go check it out! I haven't finished it yet, but it's proving quite useful and good thus far.

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #48 Go Outside, Self

On 14 Jan, 2021 for Shortform #20 I said it was time to find a job. So far, no new job. That's because I haven't applied for a single job since writing that post. Ouch. I've enjoyed not working quite a bit, plus I focused on moving instead of job hunting.

I guess the hard part begins now, because I still don't want to find a new job, because I still really enjoy not having one and being able to just live. Especially now that I can walk <5 minutes to the beach and hangout on the beach, just living seems really nice.

I never before optimised my life for fun, this [since moving, so about 2 weeks or so at this point] is the first time I've done that, and I still haven't managed to break all the old habits and thought patterns. It's only been about 2 weeks, so that makes sense, but I really don't want to add a job yet when I feel there's more fun to be had, new and better habits to be built, and so on. On the other hand, money is a necessary condition of life, and I think depleting my savings is a pretty bad idea, so after 2 more weeks of optimising for fun, I'll get a job. (I have lived off of savings for the last 5 ish months, still have over 8 months of runway left at current burn rate, but...there's no good reason to deplete my savings, that would be stupid, so I won't do that [having a lot of savings gives me great "fuck you" power if I'm ever in a situation where I need to change something or leave ASAP, and living without that power is awful, so I don't ever want to lose it again]).

All this talk about fun comes from re-reading Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary which is a biographical account of Linus Torvalds' life and how he created Linux (yes, I'm aware of GNU and FSF contributions to all that, among others.) Torvalds seems to have a laserlike focus on only doing what he likes, having fun, and enjoying life as much as possible.

Because I've never approached my life with that attitude before, I decided to try doing so after moving, and that's been a really nice experiment! I am continuing the experiment, and one way I'm doing so is changing my default from "prefer staying inside" to "prefer being / going outside": yesterday and today I spent 3-6 hours outside and loved every minute of that time. Yesterday I walked 8 miles (5.5 on forest trails and 2.5 on the beach) and today I walked 4 miles (2.5 or so on the beach, the rest just puttering around the house and yard), sat outside with my laptop for a few hours writing, and planted some plants! Another way I'm optimizing for fun is by [responsibly] saying yes to doing things outside of the house, being social, and so on instead of defaulting to no and having to find some reason to do something; now I will default to yes and have to find a reason why I should not do whatever the thing is. This change in mentality is already paying great dividends, and I've been consistently happier over the last two weeks than I have in a really long time. I know part of that happiness increase is from the novelty of living in a new place, but my day-to-day moods just seem better overall in addition to the novelty-induced happiness increase. Anyway, good things are afoot from this experiment, so I'll continue pursuing fun for the sake of fun!

I was pleasantly surprised to see ESR post Rationalism before the Sequences today, that was a lovely telling of the pre-history of LessWrong, and learning about said pre-history was fascinating and impactful: I'm so happy that LessWrong and other rationalsphere places exist, that we have intentional communities of skeptical empiricists, and that we all don't have to "improve the sanity waterline" alone anymore. These are good things, cheers to ESR for writing that post.

I listened to the album "Why?" by Koan while writing this shortform.

Writing is nice, I enjoyed creating this post. 2 weeks from now I will apply for jobs, in the meantime I will have as much fun as possible.

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #47 A New Place

I drove across the country to the new house, arrived there safely after ~2 days of travel, and then rested for a few days. I'm excited about living in a new place, time to start unpacking and exploring :)

LibrePlanet 2021 is this weekend, here's the schedule if that's something you're interested in, I'll be checking several of the sessions out for sure.

Feels like there are a ridiculous amount of things I need and/or want to do now that I've moved, I'll spend some time early tomorrow setting priorities, then will adjust things as needed.

For now my ToDo looks like:

  • Order groceries and supplies
  • Set priorities then build tentative schedule for next 1-2 weeks
  • Organize and unpack clothes, toiletries, computers
  • Update address and all the million other things that go with doing that
  • Look for local and/or remote jobs
  • Find privacy-respecting calendaring system for family to use, good goodness do we need it.
  • Set aside time each day for specific-topic-writing; it's time to write more than just these shortforms!

The beach here seems nice, definitely will be jogging and hanging out there, despite how cold it is.

I wrote this shortform while listening to Polarity, by the Hoff Ensemble. It's a fantastic album, I highly recommend it, especially if you're into jazz or like experimental music.

I wish there was a search via mp3 (or other audio format) search engine. I have a few mixes and tracks that I somehow obtained over the years that don't have an artist with an online presence or maybe don't have the right artist's name on them. Would love it if there was a way to search online via those audio files to find who the original artist was for each of them. I will duckduckgo this question tomorrow.


Willa's Shortform

Shortform #46 Git Pushin'

Today was chaotic, but overall decent.

  • I walked ~10,000 steps.
  • Did not waste time on the internet prior to 5pm (I will continue these restrictions tomorrow, because they work and are good for me; I am happier and get more done when I follow them).
  • Logged my time and what I accomplished throughout the day.
  • Submitted my first functionality-changing pull request (with commit from my forked repo's branch) to an open source project, thus hopefully finishing the ticket on github I was assigned (still under review).
  • Was virtually social for > 1 hour.
  • Did more moving related things...moving is a lot like a black hole, it sucks up all your time and you can't escape its influence until past the event horizon (successfully finished moving). Should be driving across the country tomorrow, here's to that!
  • Finished up the rest of the ToDo things mentioned in Shortform #44 that I didn't get to yesterday.

Time for sleep.


Willa's Shortform

Shortform #45 Successes and Walking Around

Today was a good day :)

I walked ~20,000 steps, successfully avoided time-wasting on the internet prior to 5pm, logged my time taken on different tasks / spent on things, worked on currently-secret-project for a solid 2 hours, worked on several other things, and more.

Tomorrow I'm prioritizing finishing that ticket on github, need to get that done. I'll also work on currently-secret-project, do some writing, and some other things that need to get done.

Not wasting any time on the internet until after 5pm made for a much nicer feeling day, a more productive day, and a happier me! I'm following those same restrictions tomorrow too and continuing the experiment.


Willa's Shortform

Thanks for sharing your experiences and recommendations :)

Going for a walk usually helps me out, and today was no exception (I walked almost 20,000 steps today split between two main walking sessions and misc daily tasks). I talked with friends while walking most of the time, that was a nice bonus. Right now I don't have access to my desktop (it is packed for moving) so have been working primarily off of my laptop: being able to simply close the lid and walk away when flagging or otherwise needing a break helps a lot and feels much more satisfying in the moment than clicking a few buttons to put my desktop to sleep.

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #44 Only Kill Time After 5pm

I want more Alive Time and less Dead Time; b. To facilitate that, I will no longer allow myself to use the internet for any purpose that is not expressly related to what I'm specifically focusing on accomplishing at that moment, prior to 5pm each day except Sunday.

Unfortunately, I waste a lot of time browsing many different sites, watching YouTube, watching Netflix, scrolling through Discord servers, and so on, during any and all times of the day. Thus I'll try living under the above self-imposed restriction and see how that helps. The vast majority of my time wasting happens on the internet, so that's why I'm singling out my use of the internet as an intervention point and will change my habits therein during the aforementioned times.

I will not be using any blocking software because those are not effective for me, I either follow the restriction voluntarily to change my habits, or I don't. I'll include comments about this intervention's efficacy in my daily shortforms over the next week or two so that I gain useful information to use for tweaking or improving the intervention, if necessary.

Specific things I can use the internet for prior to 5pm tomorrow:

  1. solving a project ticket assigned to me on github
  2. transferring money from savings to checking and paying all my monthly bills
  3. logistics, communication, organizing, research, and purchases for currently-secret-project
  4. playing music via YouTube, Spotify, or whatever internet music provider, but no exploration that takes conscious effort.
  5. reply to DP's email
  6. health insurance, AWS, and other billing related concerns
  7. I'm sure there are other things, for now this is a good list though.

It's time to get stronger!


Willa's Shortform

Shortform #43 Egress Shell

~27 days ago I wrote shortform #42 and mentioned that I experienced a very low low that day, among other things, and gave a super vague description of said low: "The very low low sucked, but I don't want to talk about it further here. I will be okay, and I have a good support system to talk about it with." For the following 25 days or so I stopped writing, withdrew into a shell, and alternated between hiding in that shell and frantically packing the house up. That sucked :( I don't want to stay in a shell anymore, so i'm kicking it apart and emerging to live a more full and whole life like I prefer to do. Hello world, once again! :)

I had a close friendship with an individual for 6+ years. On Tuesday February 9, while walking through Costco to pickup groceries for that evening's little get-together birthday celebration, I received a text message from said individual wherein they terminated our friendship and blocked me. Over the last ~27 days I spent too much time wracking my brain trying to come up with some explanation for why they did that, for why they threw me away, for why they retreated into a shell of their own, and more., This was [and still is] new emotional terrain (I'd never experienced anything similar before) for me and goddamn did it wreck the shit out of me. It still is in some ways, but some time has passed and the emotional knife wounds don't feel as raw or as open as they were initially, thank you "time passing" and having a good group of friends, family, my therapist, and so on to lean on and help me process everything.

I don't want to stay in the shell I retreated into so I'm writing about what happened (it's feeling well cathartic, it's great), making myself emerge, resuming my social and other habits, and trying my best to live fully again. A few more words on what happened and then I'll move to other topics.

Dear individual who used to be my friend, but chose to terminate our friendship by nuking me from orbit via text message: Go get some help, seriously. What you did was cruel, and I don't want you to do that to anyone else, please don't do it to anyone else, because it hurts too goddamn much. I didn't realize that when you spoke over the years of all the people you've blocked, who you said were toxic, or made you too anxious, that that practice and designation would one day extend to me, because I work hard to be a good friend to my friends and work hard to learn from mistakes I make and improve. I make mistakes, and know for a fact that I once hurt someone else I was friends with in the past by saying something off the cuff without realizing the impact, but I never act with conscious malice towards my friends. We had no conflicts over the past number of months, nothing I (nor others I've talked with) can identify as a trigger event for blocking me, so...why'd you do it? Communication exists so that people can talk to each other, and the normal and good thing to do is to talk to your friend about what's going on, tell them if they did something wrong, talk about what you're going through. We had a long history of communicating well about our friendship, what was going on in our own lives, discussing emotions, negotiating boundaries, and so on. Why did you choose to destroy that practice and terminate our friendship? I can't be friends with you again after how badly you hurt me. I know you'll probably never read this, but if you do read it...just go get some damn help and don't do to anyone else what you did to me. If you want to contact me, you can since I didn't block you (I don't do that to friends or former friends, it's wrong and cruel), but I probably won't be a nice conversation partner until another few months have passed, the emotional wounds are still too raw, and I'm angry at you.

Life moves on, time passes, and the wheel keeps turning. Onward to new topics and experiences!

Sometime next week I'll be driving to Virginia and will start living there. I've never lived outside the Houston area and am immensely excited to try living in a new-to-me place, even though I will miss a lot about where I'm from and miss a lot of people (I will NOT miss the weather though). I think it's probably a good thing to move far away from wherever is home at least once in life, so I'm happy to be embarking on that adventure now.

There are so many things I haven't experienced yet that lead to a more whole and fulfilling life. I've decided to prioritize pursuing those experiences and having fun: for too many years I allowed my happiness set point to stay too low, I allowed myself to wallow or remain depressed or hide in a shell, I allowed myself to think deeply and extensively about ongoing problems in my life and the world without taking many actions against them, and so on. Now...I allow myself to raise my happiness set point, to cultivate fun, to experience more of the lovely riches of being alive, to take regular and consistent good actions against problems, and to live more fully and deeply!

Life is better when I write, when I create, when I produce. So, back to it I go :)

Movies and TV shows can have some excellent and inspirational music, lately I've turned to such music for mood improvement and for having a fun sonic environment. I wrote this while listening to,, and I've really enjoyed listening to it.

I read this yesterday and it was profoundly impactful, probably in a positive way. Reading that felt a lot like reading about myself in many ways, because I have ADHD and saw much of myself in what was described (though there were differences). If you have ADHD or know someone who does, go read that article.

I've noticed an uptick in "a year of lockdowns", "quarantine retrospective", type posts around LessWrong and elsewhere. That surprised me because I'm surprised we've all been in quarantine for over a year now, it feels ridiculous that life in so many ways for so many people had to shrink or stop for so damn long, it sucks. One benefit of where I've lived during quarantine is that going outside has always been permitted, more things have been open, and people (after the first 2-3 months or so) didn't have to basically shelter in place in their dwellings for so many months. What I've heard about the restrictiveness of lockdowns in many Californian cities, in New York, and elsewhere scares me, because that would be hell to live through for me, personally. And so many of the intense lockdowns just...didn't have to last this long, or be put in place at that level of intensity in the first place, if decisionmakers had made more prudent, "rational" decisions (I'm basing these opinions off of Zvi's COVID posts, discussions I've seen on LW and other forums, and the little bit of research I've done myself) regarding how to effectively handle the pandemic. This last year has increased how much I value living in an area where personal liberty in many specific contexts is usually prioritized (not all contexts are priortized here in Texas though...this state's government is too damn obsessed with regulating people's bodies, and some other things; but it is a pretty good place to be for freedom of association, movement, and some other things) at the expense of the collective in some ways. Living in a political monoculture scares the hell out of me, because that seems to be when there's the highest probability of losing freedoms I care about, among other things. This has made me reevaluate how quickly I want to move to Seattle or other blue-tribe dominated places, mostly because I'm not familiar with living in a monocultural blue-tribe place and am almost exclusively familiar with living in a deeply mixed blue, grey, and red tribe area like Houston (I have no interest in living in a purely red-tribe place, though it would be culturally familiar and easier for me to deal with in a lot of ways versus a purely blue-tribe place). Ugh. I think I'm ranting at this point and am not being very specific, so I'll stop the politics stuff for now. This paragraph rant is mostly me venting quarantine related frustrations cum "where do I want to move to / live" considerations.

If you are reading this, how has a year of lockdowns, of quarantining, etc. affected you? How are you doing now versus before the pandemic?


Willa's Shortform

Shortform #42 Ah, more writing.

Today had good highs and a very low low. The high points came from having a very small birthday dinner and consuming good food with a few others, being virtually social with friends (we played some rounds in Paladins and did okay, twas fun), and from being reasonably productive during the "4 hours of digital tasks" time in the morning. The very low low sucked, but I don't want to talk about it further here. I will be okay, and I have a good support system to talk about it with.

I was successful regarding 2 from yesterday's ToDo, but not 1 or 3. I will repeat the same ToDo list for tomorrow. I did my taxes today, and the tax prep software indicated I likely will get a refund of some amount, yay.

I listened to Leylines by Aes Dana

Upon going to YouTube to find that link, I saw that ContraPoints is streaming!!! Time to go enjoy ContraPoints Live for a little bit before bed! If you aren't familiar with her, ContraPoints is a trans YouTuber who makes videos about philosophy and politics, but does so really well and with a fab aesthetic. Go watch her stuff, here's her channel description and link to her channel: " YouTuber, ex-philosopher. Sex, drugs, and social justice. 🌸 "

Be Well!

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