I was defending when I saw the worst trump break I've ever seen: 8-0 spades. I had eight spades, and when RHO bid one spade, everyone passed. I couldn't double because it would have been takeout and I thought it might go down, but not at all certain, since I didn't have many high cards. In fact, opener had 19 points, and made exactly or one down.
The play was very hard work, with me and declarer volleying trumps back and forth to each other. I don't think I played it the best I could have done, but I think we got the best result likely, against fairly good opponents.
The next hand -- I could barely believe it -- was the second worst trump fit I've ever seen: 7-0 spades. This time they got to 3S, and I was praying for them to bid to 4S and get to a contract I felt safe doubling, but they stopped in 3S (which was already ambitious). Again, they just made after a lot of work from both sides :)
* Lets me record how often I succeed
* Lets me set up something to poke me if I get busy and stop submitting updates (and a small, but not ambitious goal to say "do at least this much")
* NOT bug me every day (except for things I SHOULD do every day), I'd rather be able to focus on gym for a month, and then fall back to a low baseline of a couple of times a week while I'm busy with something else.
* NOT focus on faux-psychoanalysis. Encouragement can be useful but it can also feel dispiriting or patronising, I'm very happy to just get a row of green ticks :)
That's not exactly how beeminder is designed to be used, but it's what I've found most useful so far.
This only counts _new_ things. Not stuff that has to happen every week anyway, but stuff that represents genuine progress in my life, even if small. My target rate is set to 3 per week, and I'm doing about that.
It feels silly that I can't easily do more than that -- surely I have time. But some of the things I need to do are big and scary. And just remembering to do laundry, turn up at work, go to the pub with friends, etc, eats most of my time...
I've tended to have a spurt when there's a lot of small-to-medium things I polish off in a burst, and then a few weeks when immediate concerns overtake the graph. But it doesn't really matter what the graph shows, it matters that I have a way of feeling good about my progress.
I started this last week, based on a suggestion from a blog, but it seems to be going well. It records items on todo list(s) for a day that I've completed.
The catch is, the list can be as small as I like, but I have to do everything on it for it to count.
The reasoning behind that is that it's easy for a todo list to spiral out of control with the things I need to todo today getting mixed in with the things I've wanted to do for ages and only now have time for mixed in with stuff I vaguely thought I might do this week. And if I do that, then the whole evening is spent stressing over prioritising. Whereas if I force myself to be ruthless and make a list of things I'm ACTUALLY going to do, and a separate list for anything else, that's fairly easy to do. And thereafter I can relax and do them in whichever order I fancy, because doing a bit of washing up, etc, doesn't mean I'm neglecting the bigger things.
And when I do the prioritising in advance, it's easier to say "ok, one biggish thing, a few emails I've been putting off, and a bit of washing up/cleaning etc", and then I get some of all of it done, whereas if I try to prioritise as I go along, the de facto todo list becomes "agh, I don't know, I'll try to do all of it, but settle for the biggest one" and then never do the washing up.
I've been going to the gym for five months -- where has this year gone? Gym membership was supposed to be last year's thing. But I'm really glad I've kept it up, I feel a lot better for it.
Since I started, I've managed an average of 2.5 times a week. That came close to failing a few times over Christmas when I was away, but has been safe since. And the last five weeks I've maintained an average of four times a week.
I feel like a traitor for measuring this because so many people are damaged by the idea that only skinny is any good :( But I would in fact like to weigh less than I do now, even my ideal weight would be more than average for my height. And since I was losing a bit of weight from going to the gym anyway, I decided I might as well measure it. I've lost weight very slowly, but incontrovertibly more than zero. Measuring it has turned it from a complicated doom-filled hole into just one more thing that is under the control of my awesome organisation.
Part of the idea is that I don't only track things that seem boring but necessary, but also things that seem fun but I don't get round to because I'm worried about other things :)
Hence, a reminder to blog. I still need to shift away from the idea that _every_ post needs to be a complicated essay, and have more "hey, this is what I did today" (when that's potentially somewhat interesting to people other than me).
When I started, I speculated what else I might want to track, and one was writing fic, something I like to do very occasionally but never have time to do. But alas, this one is still on zero :)
StickK: shave face and shave head
I also experimented with non-beeminder tools for tracking things I want to do every week. (Shaving twice in one day doesn't make me less grizzled if I don't shave the next day :)) Success has been mixed, but it's been successful in training me to just do both automatically rather than putting them off.
You can see graphs of all the beeminder goals at: https://www.beeminder.com/jackv
I've never actually changed planes before. In Europe (Munich, Veinna?) do you normally go straight from arrivals to departures without having to go out, pass customs, and come back in again past security?
There seems to be a choice between 30-45 min and 6 hours... is the shorter time likely to be sufficient?
A couple of people shared a link talking about the controversy about mid staffs hospital. The gist is that the entire thing was a combination of (a) cherry-picking data that happened to look bad (b) repurposing data that's not supposed to reflect hospital performance (c) finding scandals when you look hard enough for them (d) a self-perpetuating media myth.
That sounded plausible to me, but I don't know enough to judge it. Does anyone know if that's actually accurate?
What do you often eat for breakfast during the week?
Other hot baked product, eg. crumpets
Cold baked product, eg. bagel
Nothing but tea/coffee
Other / comments
What do you often have for breakfast at the weekend?
One of the other options
Does anyone remember any good puzzles we've previously talked about I should take along, preferably that you don't absolutely need a maths degree to understand the problem? (Most people will, in fact, have maths degrees, but puzzles unrelated to set theory are more traditional :))
Prof Gowers writes about co-authoring a computer program that does simple mathematical proofs. It works only in some specific circumstances, but I was interested to see what it included.
Most people already love Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality which is like Harry Potter would be if it was written by Eliezer Yudkowsky.
It's sometimes annoying in the ways you'd expect -- I found the first couple of chapters unbearably smug. But it's fascinating for the way it takes the Harry Potter world as a backdrop for presenting a scientific or rationalist worldview.
 Because it is Harry Potter written by Eliezer Yudkowsky :)
Harry Potter and the Natural Twenty
Harry Potter and the Natural Twenty is generally reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality but with a DnD munchkinism in the place of rationality.
It's not thought-provoking in the same way, and some of the jokes are tediously obvious, but people who liked Methods often said they found it very enjoyable and funny.
Tales of Magic University (NSFW)
Tales of MU is not technically fanfiction, but it comes from that sort of culture.
It's an ongoing story about a girl who goes to university in a DnD-inspired world.
It intermittently features many common fanfictiony sort of faults, but I also found it very very endearing, and have kept reading all the way through.
If you like the "magic school" genre, it's a good example of it.
It also features a lot of the main character coming to terms with her sexuality, and BDSM, LGBT, polyamory, trans characters, etc, etc. and quite a lot of fairly graphic sex scenes.
Whately Academy Stories (sometimes NSFW)
Whately Academy is a shared-universe fiction writing project about a school for superheroes. Again, it's not technically fanfiction, but has the same sort of style.
There's so much of it, don't try to read all of it. The safest place to start is probably with "Intro" and "Ninja 1" which are about most of the main characters, and start with them settling in to the school. Some of the origin stories before that were rather harrowing, and might be offputting. From then on, I read all the Jade/Generator stories, and then the Ayla/Phase stories.
Some parts I found very annoying or simplistic, but a lot I found very very endearing -- I fell in love with most of the characters, and how they learn to use their fairly random powers in increasingly interesting ways, the intertwining stories show different aspects of them, and how they all grow into who they are in different ways.
All the main characters are transgender, and this is often handled well, but sometimes handled in ways that made me very uncomfortable. I can be more specific if it would help.
But it started to bother me, and I started to think maybe you needed both something like utilitarianism and something like virtue ethics.
I imagined using the same language to describe different ways of getting something right that’s somewhat less subjective and emotional than morality, say, the right way to write reliable computer programs.
Some people would say “here is a list of rules, follow them”. But this approach sucks when the technology and understanding get better, because you keep writing code that saves two bytes if it’s compiled on a 1990's 8-bit home computer, because that was a good idea at the time.
Other people would say, “choose whichever outcome will make the code more reliable in the long run”. That’s better than “follow these outdated rules”, but doesn't really tell you what to do hour-by-hour.
In fact, the people who do best seem to be those who have general principles they stick to, like “fix the security holes first”, even if it’s impossible to truly estimate the relative plusses and minusses of avoiding an eventual security breach versus adding a necessary new feature now. But they don’t stick to them blindly, and are willing to update or bypass those principles if the opposite is obviously better in some particular situation.
My thought, which I’m not yet very sure of, is the same applies to morality.
Dear Orange Mobile Customer Support,
This may surprise you to know, but most MOBILE PHONE customers call your MOBILE PHONE customer service support line from their MOBILE PHONES. This means:
1. Thy can't easily listen and press buttons on the keypad at the same time.
2. It's unnecessarily difficult to memorise which letters used to be on which keypad buttons in the last millennium. I can just about do it because I've used it enough, and remember that "1" was used for something else, and "abc" starts on "2". Is there a good reason we can't use our KEYBOARDS for entering letters?
1. The convoluted "press the number corresponding to the numeric value of 3rd character of your password divided by three and a half plus one" system is rather undermined when the phone rep helpfully responds to "I can't remember which password I used" with "is it the <something> one?" I don't think you understand how passwords work. (Hypocritically, I might rather have the convenience over the security, but it's still a bad idea to pretend you're more secure than you are.)
2. I first got an orange phone about ten years ago. The breakdown of which systems (phone, web, pin, etc) use completely separate passwords has changed in that time. Try something helpful like "this is the same password you use on the website" or "this is not the same password you use on the website, you would have had to set it up when you set up the account" would be more helpful than "I don't know".
3. I'm aware you perpetrate an internal zargon, but are you seriously unaware that people who are not mobile phone providers may not see "disconnect from the network" and "disconnect from the network with a PAC code" as two disparate options? If someone says they want to disconnect from your network, which is more likely?
A. They are one of the 99% of people who are cancelling because they're moving to a different network and ALWAYS want to keep their mobile phone number and used "disconnected" in the normal English meaning, not the mobile phone operator specific meaning, or,
B. They are one of the 1% of people who has decided mobile phones are for mugs, or who wants to vanish unreachably from their friends, and divined that "disconnect" means "disconnect without a PAC code"?
I think A is more likely. Even if you consider it imperative that you force them to repeat their request using your terminology, a better way to do that would be to ask them to, not deliberately misunderstand them and force them to start over.
4. I'm going to stop giving you money. I'd prefer you to stop giving me mobile phone service. I can't believe you don't have a procedure for this. But no. I have to pay for the following month come what may. And I can be issued with a PAC code which only operates UNTIL the end of the month. And if I fail to apply that in 26 days time, Orange are entitled to RENEW billing me. How the hell is that legal? And to me that sounds like "I have to pay for two days of overlap". But no, the rep thought that was completely wrong, but I couldn't understand how what he said was different.
I'm sure there's a good reason it works that way, but I was still very frustrated.
Oh dear. If I can find that much wrong in a five minute conversation with (apparently) a successful outcome, how can I cope with the rest of life? I think the problem is that I instinctively EXPECT things to make sense, and if they don't, either hate myself for misunderstanding, or hate the person I'm talking to for being difficult. Which I KNOW shouldn't be the case -- I KNOW that a lot of the time, "just get it sorted" is the only option, and it's only worth so much effort. But knowing it doesn't convince my emotions to actually believe it :(