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Ask HN: What was the biggest contributor to your happiness in the past year?
360 points by break_the_bank on March 21, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 532 comments
For me it was running. Went from couch potato to regular runner for whom HMs don’t need any planning. Running always makes the day better. Physically I think exercise releases endorphins, mentally it’s my one win for the day.

Wondering what works.

Video walks on Youtube. If you haven't heard of them before, they're simple first-person videos where the filmer walks around some area with a stabilized video camera - no talking, just walking. I've really missed traveling and watching video walks while exercising has been a great way to satisfy that travel craving a bit and also trick my brain into experiencing some semblance of normalcy (not sure I could remember what a crowded street feels like otherwise haha).

I'm partial to Japan so my favorite channel has been Rambalac [1], and I recently also started watching another channel with the very creative name JAPAN 4K [2]. There are tons of other channels and places too, for example I recently watched a few in Lisbon [3] and Seoul [4] and Copenhagen [5]. They're very relaxing and fun to watch and going from place to place with no cuts captures the usual tourist experience quite well. If you like traveling you can probably find some that are interesting to you!

[1] https://www.youtube.com/c/Rambalac/videos

[2] https://www.youtube.com/user/keikaikeikaikeikai/videos

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXlFDpaQ1ec

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqj7l0Xk0Ho

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl69sN5PtgM

This. This is exactly what I started watching last summer to keep myself calm and optimistic through the pandemic. The channels I watch are - Nomadic Ambience[1], NIPPON WANDERING TV[2] and IURETA e[3].

Here are my favorite[4] video[5] walks[6] from Japan. Hope you like it. As for other places, here's two from NYC[7][8] and another from Olympic National Park[9] which is not a video walk per se, but would appeal to folks who love the wilderness.

Last but not least, thank you for videos you shared :)

[1] https://www.youtube.com/c/NomadicAmbience/videos

[2] https://www.youtube.com/c/NIPPONWANDERINGTV/videos

[3] https://www.youtube.com/c/IURETAe/videos

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et7O5-CzJZg

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpxJSvgHysA

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JCNn_4-Ap4

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21HKaqA1rpo

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOan6RRvOi4

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jGX1oUADhg

I’m wondering what camera would be best for this kind of thing? I’d love to make some.

Looks like some gopro type actioncam with stabilization would work nicely. I made videos of hikes when I was on Azores a few years ago with an old GoPro 5 and they look pretty good, so newer hardware should make it even better.

If you like the videos of Nippon Wandering, he states which equipment he uses for each video. In his last one he used DJI Osmo Pocket.

The new Insta360 GO 2 would probably work really well for these type of videos:


Osmo Pocket is a good starter


Also, train ride videos, for example this one in Switzerland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw9qiV7XlFs

Yeah train ride videos are amazing. I cannot put my finger on why though. I guess because it is mellow, chill, and open-ended. Plus you get to see all of this terrain and the changes to it in an easy to process way, on a time scale. Trains are a lot more comfortable to be on, or even watch, than airplanes, although airplanes often get you from point A to B faster.

I also like going on “walks” on VR, on Google Earth VR, especially via Google Street View. I like going to my old stomping grounds but I also like seeing new places. I also have used it to scope out new neighborhoods when moving, which is extremely useful.

You might enjoy Tiny Rails for Android then ;)

Thank you so much! :-)

It looks awesome and I am about to try it out!

It's interesting how much art direction there is involved in a relatively simple video (train driving from A to B), and for example rmoriz's cycle videos. What is the field of view, how high is the camera? How is sound recorded? Do you cut when the train is stopped on station (or bike in traffic lights), do you fast forward or just show the stop in real time?

As a viewer I'd want there to be zero cuts: If your video puts me on a train I want to experience the whole train journey. Some train videos record audio from the train cars, maybe to avoid recording radio traffic in the engine but this also makes the experience somehow worse.

That's an excellent channel for train ride videos. Mind you I would love it even more if they did one with a 360 degree camera at the front of the train!

I don't get opportunities to share this very often... my sideproject is a 24/7 Twitch channel[1] of driving footage with a companion chatbot. If you like slow-tv you might enjoy it.

[1] https://www.twitch.tv/ADanaLife_

Out of curiosity, how much does it cost to stream 24/7 off cellular like that?

The about section of the Twitch channel says:

> This is pre-recorded dashcam footage from a year of traveling the United States in a campervan. It runs 24/7.

I had been watching Rambalac's videos since I got back from Japan in 2019. It's so comforting, it's difficult to explain exactly why, but I feel very content while watching them and they seem to occupy a part of my brain that usually wanders when I'm working.

Worthy of a mention is "Smarter Every Day" has a channel called The Sound Traveller, where Dustin explores places with a binaural audio setup.


why not go out for a walk yourself? as somebody who spends a lot of time in nature it's hard to grasp how sitting more in front of a screen can improve the mood. or perhaps I got it wrong and OP isn't working in Tech and screen time actually means being not at work?

not judging what makes you happy (that would be stupid on many levels) but genuinely wondering if you don't need the endorphines and flowing juices of at least some form of physical movement (even just walking) to get the feeling you describe?

In lots of northern climates, going out for a walk during winter sucks. It's cold, dark and slippery. The winter landscape is cool to look at for a few days sure but after that it just becomes depressing.

This. I live in the American Midwest. I absolutely hate the winters here. If you're the subset of people who love winter sports it can be great, but I can't bring myself to enjoy them despite living here my whole life.

The weird thing is, these kinds of videos actually stress me out, because they remind me of the fact that I'm sitting in my tiny apartment watching someone else getting out and seeing the world. The more I watch, the more I ask myself: is this ever going to end? Am I going to break out of this preexisting bubble of just being content with what's on my screen, a mentality that I'd already lived out for years before the pandemic?

The places I walk around lose their charm after a while, since I don't drive or live in a large city. It feels like a wasteland at times. A pretty wasteland. But it's pretty empty and alone at tim

And especially when it comes to Japan, I just can't get over the fact that I can't get enough time to see the country. No company is going to hire you on the basis that you'd prefer to live overseas, and of course the pandemic has set back the process by a couple of years. But each time I went to Japan, I wondered why I wasn't living there yet, personally. It's a stupid feeling that refuses to exit my mind, no matter how much I debate myself over it. They don't prefer to hire people above age 30, and they cancelled last year's JLPT, so every time I'm reminded of the fact that I'm quickly running out of time to accomplish one of my goals, it stresses me out, big time. I believe I possess a lot of the things that specifically make it hard to gain entry, like a college degree and reasonable proficiency in the language, but not... connections.

Unless you had a specific career you wanted to pursue in Japan, why not focus on Western companies with offices in Japan instead? The culture is closer to that of Western culture supposedly, so you may not need to deal with the idiosyncrasies. Or you could just do fully remote internet-based work. Lots of tech work can work just fine entirely remote and on an entirely different timezone

I just watch them in the background while doing something else which I can't do while walking.

I started doing that but with cycling. Shameless self promotion: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCkTuqgUxzTaLZ6lGidtd5iw/video...

That's amazing to hear so many people are getting so much happiness from this kind of videos! It was this same feeling that inspired me in the beginning of the pandemic to create a website with all the best videos I found out there, and I invite you all to take a look:


It's like a live TV that streams this kind of videos 24h/day. Just tune in, choose what category you prefer and enjoy :)

(disclaimer: it's completely free, open source and all views and ad revenue goes to original content creators. I earn nothing with it, it's all for the love for this kind of content and the potential positive impact it can have in all of us stuck at home at these challenging times)

This is nice, but I like streaming these kind of video's to my TV. Do you use YouTube playlists 'under the hood'?

This, hundred times this!

I always feel like watching walking tour videos is my kind of meditation, feel-good video or AMSR kind of activity.

on a lazy day, a lazy weekend afternoon evening that you just want to chill out, I think nothing is more comfort than watching walking tour videos. you can just lay down, sit back, have a snack and travel with your eyes, you can "visit" places you had never been before. Wouldn't that feel great?

I curated a link of my personal favorite walking tour YouTube channel, especially in Japan: https://github.com/vinhnx/life-notes/issues/15

If reading a newsletter is also your thing, I recommend Craig Mod's newsletter on his walks around Japan. Quite refreshing.


Yeah, I dig such stuff too. For this, I go for Reddit live streams where you can QnA with the streamer and it's quite fun. In last few months I have been to Rome, Kenya, Germany and of course Japan has it's own charm.

If you like this kind of stuff, I highly recommend also just going on Google maps, picking some remote corner of the world, dropping the guy down and just having a walk around.

It has provided me endless entertainment over the years.

Thanks I did not know this existed.

I have started a small side project which is somewhat related. I started it because I saw the beneficial aspects of walks and wellness from my own journey over the last few years. It is something I wish existed in the world but does not. The idea seemed so small and inconsequential that i thought it could make a good non-profit that has a significantly positive impact on wellness. There is a model in where it would be self-sustaining. If anyone is keen to chat about the intersection of wellness, physical activity and walking drop me a message!

Oh my gosh, I've never heard of these and you're right, they do look like a wonderful way to "travel" if you can't otherwise. Thank you so much for sharing.

Edit: Punctuation

Thanks for the links. I'm a great fan of video walks too. They are very relaxing and IMHO they provide a much better overview of a place than the typical travel vlog.

Here is another Japan-focused channel. There are walks either with or without audio commenting. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGfM15CKSjHl8bGp16P6P8g/fea...

I love the videos of ActionKid from New York [1]. I watched them before COVID, but they got really interesting when the crisis hit The Big Apple.

[1] https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCBkcw8h7epT_bK0QzuY2Bmg

Whenever I come across a picture of a location that looks cool, whether it be a castle/ruin/beach/city. I search Youtube for 'place name walking tour' and then filter by Long videos.

Usually gets some good results. Sometimes the camera person is too chatty, but you can always mute them.

Similar to this, I've picked up photography and have started watching and following a number of POV street photography videos. It's a similar concept, except there's sometimes dialogue about what's going both in the environment and in the photography.

Yes! I can wholeheartedly recommend Tokyo Explorer as well. He's a talented photographer who started doing a lot of these walks during covid. He does both 4K walks and walking streams where he interacts with the audience.

Thank you for this.

i had just started a channel like this unaware of the whole concept :)


I prefer to do this in VR myself.

Working from home. I realised being in an office - especially an open-plan office - was setting off my social anxiety all the time. Working in a place where I could choose to engage with people instead of having it forced upon me made it so much easier to work. I became a lot more productive and started enjoying what I did, even picking up more side projects and learning actively. It's a shame it's coming to an end, and I can't seem to find many places that are going to remain remote.

"Working from home. I realised being in an office - especially an open-plan office - was setting off my social anxiety all the time."

This! It's been such a game changer for me too. My career has been turbo charged over the last year. The change has been so dramatic that I won't switch to a company that doesnt have a remote-first policy. I'll forego money and promotion opportunities for it. The stress and anxiety reduction is more a personal thing but the freedom to choose, the fact that I'm not mandated to be at a particular place at a particular time, is such a revolution. It seems oppressive to not allow flexibility where the job allows. Most people I know seem to feel the same.

I'd like to point out that as a manager, my stress and anxiety level have gone through the roof during this WFH period. As I was an IC for many years, I completely see your point but I'd like to point out the other side. I've talked to several other managers in my org, and I am not alone. Some part of it may be that older people (who are likely to be in management) are more likely to have kids (which led to untenable situations during school lockdowns).

Flexibility in producing the "right" work product is really key. In many large corporate environments, figuring out what is the right work product is possibly more work than the work itself. I have a feeling we may even see different models between different types of companies (nimble startups vs small companies vs large corps). In my personal org, what you are describing can be viewed as an engineer "phoning it in" .. as the engineer is depending on their manager or team lead to assign them the right work. An IC who phones it in may think they are a top producer but will get surprised when it comes to their career progression.

Does this suggest that there is a trade-off between working conditions optimal for managers, and working conditions optimal for bottom-level employees? And that perhaps until 2020, the balance kept gradually shifting in favor of managers... offices replaced by cubicles, cubicles replaced by open spaces... until it became completely one-sided?

WFH suddenly gave many people their own office room again. It's 20 years since the last time I had that.

I have been a manager and manager-of-managers for quite a few years (many of which were WFH), and IC now. I'm curious about your statement that some might look at the behaviour describe above as "phoning it it"? I didn't see anything in their description that said anything about getting less done or putting less time in or not being available when needed. Maybe I'm misreading something.

I agree that remote management has very different challenges than remote IC - certainly you're likely to spend a lot more time talking with people so less-than-ideal WFH circumstances would be harder.

"I'd like to point out that as a manager, my stress and anxiety level have gone through the roof during this WFH period"

That's interesting for sure. I guess, as with so many things that happened during covid, the effects on people have been extremely varied. Sorry to hear that you've struggled as so many no doubt have.

The tricky part is going to be how to reconcile these different needs. A hybrid flexible approach is necessary but getting that right will take a lot of iteration.

My company isn't going fully remote, it's going to be a hybrid approach but with no mandate to come in on a given day. We are very strong when it comes to self-organising teams and autonomy so I think it will work. We don't really look to management for more than a high level steer, we all are expected to own our area to a high degree. Phoning it in wouldn't work therefore, it would be obvious to the team that someone was lagging. For other organisational styles this flexible approach could be challenging but it does seem to work for us at least.

I felt this so much. When I'm in the office I spend so much time thinking about if my cough was too loud and distracting people, of if my hair is neat enough, or if I should walk to get a cup of water or if I should wait 20 minutes because I just got back to my desk from the toilet.

Working from home I don't care about anything and just get things done.

I hadn't thought of those things but I did the same in the office too. I still look in the mirror or camera to see if there is food in my teeth :) but yeah a lot less stress from silly stuff. I am more conscious of appearing 'away' now though.

I realize given how much hardship other people have experienced so this comes across as rather callous, but for this reason 2020 has been one of the best years in my career.

In-person interactions add stress on top of my normal work stress. I think I can objectively prove I've been more productive at home than at work too. I'm really hoping I can find a way to stay at home.

Same here. I feel guilty about the thousands of people who died to allow me this luxury... but I already feel sad about the day when I will probably have to return to the open-space hell.

And I regret I will probably never experience the combination when I work from home, but kids are at school. Instead of colleagues, spending the breaks with the wife I love.

Agreed. For me personally, commuting is a big factor - I love not doing it... Unfortunately, permanent WFH will probably not work for me for other reasons, in particular I think that the face to face interaction with coworkers cannot be replaced...

I'm currently experiencing the same calm as when I lived a 4-minute tram ride from work. (My current job is over an hour away)

The soul killing of commuting is underrated. Just the sheer amount of time lost in your day is huge and that loss builds up over time.

And that's not even counting increased health problems, sleeping less (well), increased stress from anxiety or just basic public transport bullshit.

I used to say I didn't mind my daily ~2.5 hours in trains and trams. Right now I will fight _hard_ to keep it out of my life.

Some of this could be fixed very easily by employers by widening their range of office hours. Commuting times grow exponentially when everyone has to do it at the same time.

When I was commuting in a car, the exact same path would take me 45m to an hour at peak time, and 15m off-peak. Just by pushing forward the starting time by about an hour, I saved loads of time and aggravation. This applies to public-transport commuters too: the experience of squeezing into an overcrowded carriage where you could die standing vs sitting comfortably and reading a book in a mid-morning train, is night and day.

Employers should just agree that the actual hours where absolute overlap is required, are about 5-6 per day. Leave people free to attach the remaining 2-3 at whichever end they prefer, or even do them from home (so you commute calmly and then just end the day from home). It won’t solve everything (schools remain obtuse bottlenecks with their inflexible schedules) but it would go a long way towards removing stress from commuting.

Perhaps, though peak/off-peak makes no difference in time for me. It would reduce the busyness but I was generally able to sit anyway. Even then, I am _forced_ to sit and read (/scroll) for that amount of time a day, at set times while I could be doing things that are far better for my mental and physical health. (or just more fun, fun is underrated these days)

There are some children for whom the rigid nature of school schedules actually provides structure which makes them less stressed out :)

You are right, actually not only for children. But also there is perfect synchronization between the first day of school and the first big traffic jam, at least where I live.

I don’t particularly disagree, but there are still thtings that could be done, e.g. different schools could use meaningfully-different times.

The move to remote work is saving me about 1.5 hours of commute each day, plus a couple hundred in gas money each month. The return to the office later this year will be brutal.

I will be refusing to return to the office for several reasons:

1- the threat of Covid is not going away in the next 2-3 years. I am no risking it!

2- I and everyone in my team have been more effective, less stressed working from home for more than a year now. Why would I go back to a less efficient way of work?

I agree. Management is telling us we are more productive now that we are remote. Yet they want to bring us back to the office. The only thing I've really heard to support this (poorly so at that), is that people are feeling more burnt out. Once you add back the commute time and remove the flexibility that we got used to from working from home, do they really think this will fix the burnout? I think it will only make it worse.

> Management is telling us we are more productive now that we are remote. Yet they want to bring us back to the office.

Apparently, the management optimizes for things other than productivity. (Is anyone surprised?)

This year taught me how much commuting stressed me out. Never again.

Same. Commuting is one of the worst parts of "modern" life, so not doing that is great. In addition, it's quiet at home, I have better equipment and people can't come and distract me all the time. I'm way more productive which makes me happy.

Where are you looking ? There are tons of remote-first positions (https://weworkremotely.com/ is just an example).

It could depend on your field too - in mine (IT) it feels like there’s a shift to remote and many organizations will keep allowing it even when they are able to go back to the office.

Are you not in IT? Remote is literally permanent now

lot of companies in EU (especially D/A/CH) also have absolutely no plans to continue WFH. Despite covid restrictions going to be an issue also long term, they have (1 year later) still no strategy that incorporates or improves efficiency in WFH organization and workflows. Instead they all look forward to going back to a time that no longer exists.

So not the EU obviously but in the UK, or London at the very least, I don't know of a single white collar worker where much-increased WFH won't be the norm. I'm not just talking tech but banking, law and so on.

We do indeed seem to be far ahead of our European neighbours in this regard from what I'm seeing.

I agree, it will be the new norm. it's just that this insight hasn't arrived yet in many places (and Europe is generally lagging behind in doing things differently compared to how it was done the past hundreds of years). suppose it won't matter really since majority of companies won't survive the coming years anyway (for other reasons) so their short sightedness wrt WFH doesn't really matter :D

Yeah totally agree. The UK is much more enlightened and progressive than a lot of Europe on many things (unfashionable opinion, particularly for a "remainer" like me)

I'm from mainland Europe and have been living in the UK for more than a decade: bundling up all European countries under one 'Europe' umbrella isn't helping. There's insane variety between countries, cultures, and attitudes towards work. The UK in some aspects is ahead,while in others decades behind and the comparisons are often very difficult.

"I'm from mainland Europe and have been living in the UK for more than a decade: bundling up all European countries under one 'Europe' umbrella isn't helping"

Sure, Im not implying that Europe is homogenous, just that there are certain areas (eg WFH policies) where UK is an outlier. To this extent you can draw very general distinctions. Similarly you could draw distinctions between France or Italy vs the rest of Europe. Every country has its outlying traits.

never mind fashion trends, they come and go :) I think you're on point. Hopefully Britain will bounce back as a beacon of progressive ideas. It was always the voice of reason and brought balance to the dominating German/French axis of bureaucratic/pedantic authoritarian thought.

I miss you guys!!

I work in the London (City of), and the company I work for (many thousands of employees) will be expected back in the office this year end. WFH has never been part of the company culture and, at most, people previously WFH 1 or 2 days over a 2 week period, and even that was exceptional.

> Are you not in IT? Remote is literally permanent now

Sadly, not for everyone. For the company I'm with, before covid we were allowed to spend up to three days out of the week remote as long as we came in for at least the two required days (Monday and Thursday). Then, right before covid, we were told that even this policy was going away and we had to be in the office four days out of the week and could remote on Wednesdays. That policy never took effect because covid hit right before the transition date, so now we're "remote until July 1st 2021, after which we'll reassess the threat and plan on everyone being in the office five days out of the week."

I've been so spoiled by WFH, I am not looking forward to going back to two hours of commuting per day.

Not everywhere. Most companies here in India aren't looking to stay remote long term if they weren't remote friendly before.

Considering a lot of their work is sourced from abroad, this is very ironic (in the Morrissette sense).

While it's ironic, I think I understand why it's the case: there's a plethora of managers who can't really manage remotely the way they were used to in the office: by applying lots of pressure to those underneath them. It's much harder to show how big boss you are on zoom compared to an open space office,where 50 poor souls are scared to say anything back.

And most of them are redundant , was always wondering what most of the managers in our division actually did as we seemed to function better without them during WFH.

Was going to answer with this as well. I have never met my colleagues and boss, and have never even heard their voice after the job interview, and almost all of my communication with them is asynchronous, without requiring immediate answer, and it has been such a good thing to my mental health.

Unfortunately, most of the western, first-world companies who are offering nice salaries for international remote workers ($60-80k after tax and above) do not trust them and require insane control, with screen recording, constant zoom presence, etc. But just as remote work has finally won over the industry, async communication will too — if for nothing else than what a boost to productivity it is.

Transitioning my gender. Living my truth. Coming out to everyone in my life and being forced to confront the shame that held me back for decades.

It took a lot of reflection and was cause for a lot of growth. But now I'm not only mentally happier, I'm taking better care of my body because it finally feels like it's my own.

Same same same same same! A lot of positive things have happened in the last year, met my first serious girlfriend (and living together now!), got two cats, moved to a larger apartment.

Transitioning has enabled all that. I wouldn't have gotten cats alone, I didn't experience romantic feelings prior to taking hormones.

Am so so much happier now

That's so awesome to hear!

My co-worker/friend did the exact same thing. I had to double check you were not her.

It feels like the Pandemic has left a lot of people worse off, but there are also a lot who are a lot better off now. Kinda weird?

I definitely agree that this has left a lot of people worse off. I fear it will take a long time for many to recover from. :-/

Congrats! Happy for you... I've seen a friend struggle with this before transitioning and I'm in awe of the courage it takes. She's so much more happy now than she was before.

I’m glad to hear you made it through and are enjoying the freedoms every human being ought to have the right to. I feel a combination of sadness and anger when I read such stories and how society and inherent conditioning can be so cruel. If you have any books or resources to recommend, I’d like to learn more and keep those handy (I’m not gender queer, but am someone who could be called an “ally” and would like to be a better ally in supporting people’s freedoms to live as they wish to).

Congrats! That’s amazing. I’m so happy for you.

Congrats stranger!!

Buying a home. But not for any of the typical reasons.

If you told me back in February that I'd buy a home in 2020, I'd have told you to get lost. I lived alone in a small apartment, with a "necessities" mentality, and homeownership was on my radar for 5-10 years out. Why invest in exercise equipment when I go to a gym, a decent WFH setup when I work in an office, or kitchenware when most of my meals are eaten at work or meetups? Why buy a home, if I seem to just use home for a place to sleep?

The pandemic rapidly changed that mentality. "Necessities" was now synonymous with "going without".

The straw that broke the camel's back was the big trees out back being chainsawed down all day over three days (they needed to; they were hanging out by a transmission line). That changed the view from my porch from something resembling nature (and for much of the pandemic, that was my "nature"), to industrial buildings puking out vapor.

So I didn't buy a home for a partner, pets, kids, or otherwise - I still have none of those. But my overall health has increased considerably by having a backyard that won't change unless I want it to, a small home gym to prevent dropping even more muscle, a dedicated office space to delineate when WFH starts and ends, and an open-plan kitchen. And with the interest rates the way they are, I figure I've just saved future-me a ton of money anyway.

Good for you. Stories like yours should be a good example of WHY to buy a home. Now there are plenty of reasons why NOT to buy a home. Bottom line is that buy a home to Live, not invest (primary home at least). A lot of us are made to believe that one should buy a home because of equity/investments/saving rent etc etc. All that is true BUT you need to not buy for those reasons. You need to buy when you want your own space, can afford it reasonably and are not using it as a casino.

Buying a home for me as well. I bought mine in December '19 before COVID hit. Before that I had been living in a small apartment with thin walls, which meant I could hear my upstairs neighbor all hours of the day.

Going from a 1-bedroom apartment to a house has been huge during the pandemic. I actually have different rooms I can use to help break up the monotony. I think I would've gone crazy having to work from home in my old place since it was so small.

isn't it harder to socialize when you're not surrounded by people in gyms, an office, and so on? I personally would put that above home ownership, especially while I don't have a family.

This is a common critique I've gotten!

It was definitely something I considered heavily when buying - and is actually the reason I chose to eat the cost of staying close to the city, rather than move to some far-flung place where the cost of living is three or four times cheaper. Yes, I got less space. Yes, my mortgage is larger than it could have been. But my quality of life will _continue_ to be much higher next year - it's not a short-term personal gain for a long-term social loss.

I did spend some time time making myself a map of the surrounding area, and choosing to buy within some geographic criteria: 1-mile radius of public transit (that doesn't end at 8pm, which some lines here do); 1-mile radius of a grocery store; sub-1hr commute to work. By sheer luck, I'm now closer to my gym than I was before. And while I'm now on the opposite side of the city from many social opportunities, getting home at 11 versus 10 afterwards doesn't faze me much.

I don't think that stuff is available in a city during Covid lockdown.

why are you assuming that lockdown is going to last forever?

Are those socialisations meaningful though? If so, you could meet those people elsewhere. If not, why waste time on them instead of actual meaningful friendships?

because friendships start as acquaintanceships?

My wife and kids. I'm 50 and re-evaluating friendships outside the home. I have realised that most of my friendships are not mutual. I stopped contacting most of my friends over 9 months ago and have not heard back from most for 6 months to never.

My own family experience wasn't great. I now realise to have a wife who actively cares for you, looks out for you, is probably the most meaningful thing that can happen to you in your life. I am going to invest a bit more effort in my own family and a little less on fringe friendships.

> I stopped contacting most of my friends over 9 months ago and have not heard back from most for 6 months to never

Isn't it possible some of them are thinking the same in reverse, avoiding contact with you because you haven't contacted them in 9 months? Friendships often come out of being stuck together in some way, either work or school or sport or locality or social routine, and they can be hard to maintain when those things disintegrate. I know that I'm guilty of not working hard enough to maintain some relationships in the last year, and I want to do better.

Depends. Sometimes you realize that you’ve always been the one initializing the interactions and when you stop nothing happens anymore. That might be a sign it’s a lopsided relationship.

Or it's just one of you is "an organizer" and the other isn't.

In my own friendships, in my current setup, I rarely the one who initiates. That was different decades ago but it's how it is at the moment.

My friends do all the inviting and I just show up (show up online this last year).

Further, some people just act as the magnet everyone follows. No idea why but they are. So for example another group, out of ~12 people it's only 1 or 2 of them that organizes most meetups. Same with another group.

To me this is a skill thing. Some people are skilled at cooking, some people are skilled at programming, some people are skilled at reaching out to others.

Some people, like me, never initiate interactions with anyone unless they have to. This isn't because I don't value their friendship. It's because of the high mental load and the many other things that take priority when allocating that capacity. For me, the choice to contact someone is not competing with no-ops like watching TV etc, it's competing with work like keeping my finances in order, fixing stuff in the house and long-term planning. To be friends with me you have to be OK with that. But if you expect me to "pay my way" by initiating things myself, or if you're also like me, then we'll probably never be friends. That's fine, though. We can't be friends with everyone.

I gotta say, that's a selfish mentality, and you're definitely losing out on good friends because you've decided your work comes first. Realize that everyone else has their own work and their own problems they need to spend mental energy on, just like you. What kind of friend are you that is ok with putting that mental burden on someone else but aren't willing to reciprocate? You'll eventually lose those friends and will regret it later in life.

It is also possible the other party is just down... I can think of 3 or 4 people I feel closest to in the world but I haven't replied to an SMS message from a couple months ago

I think the pandemic has weakened friendships, because people are eg consumed with looking after their elderly parents, or just coping with day to day childcare. So I would give your friends a free pass until we get back to normality. It may just be a consequence of the situation.

This sounds like depression and distance more than all your friends being bad. Consider an alternative view that may not be filled with suspicion. Wouldnt you want your friends to offer you the same courtesy if you stopped reaching out. The pandemic has been hard on peoples social rythyms and cues and there are way less events to talka bout or meet up at.

I did something similar a few years ago.

Not because I wanted to test my friendships, I was just too depressed to interact with other human beings.

I now have a grand total of 2 close friends outside of my family, even though I enjoy social remote events with people I kind of know.

I have friends that I consider to be good friends who I don't talk to often. If you moved around a lot as a kid, especially pre Facebook and cell phones, you tend to lose contact with people.

It's sort of like that scene from That 70's Show where the mom says that that the dad doesn't have friend's or talk to them. He replies by saying the one guy is his best friend and saved his life, but that they said all they needed to on the boat home from Korea. Some friendships withstand time even in the absence of interaction.

made me cry a lil bit

I understand your POV, but there is a risk with severing your friends and relying on your wife for social engagement: if you're ever divorced, you will have nobody but yourself.

Men should always be on their purpose and improving their life, including cultivating your own friends and family.

Note that during any divorce, your ex-wife will actively and immediately poison mutual friends and family as part of her playbook to make it look like it's all your fault (female shaming tactics) and that she's virtuous. Many men lose their own side of their family as a result, much to their surprise.

I had to vouch for this comment.

I get that this looks misogynistic, but what parent describes is exactly my experience. It literally describes my post break-up relationship with my wife. the meddling of her led to poisoning of my relationship with the kids. she was the one who was hitting me any time there was an argument, threw plates and glass, or became physical in other ways that I had no choice than call the police because I was scared of further escalation. When the police came to the house they said it was protocol to remove the male from the home for a night so that the woman can look after the kids. Once, when my son was playing with my daughter in their room and we were in the kitchen (I made coffee standing ~4m away from her) she started screaming hysterically my son's name and saying "quick please come your father is hitting me" (despite me never once raising my hand to her). My son until this day thinks I hit her. At other times (when I was severely depressed for months and couldn't get out of bed) my daughter asked why I wasn't at the dinner table with them she said to them "he is just lazy". Once I got sick and fainted so she left me lying unconscious in the bathroom for a whole night without calling 911 ... I have hundreds of memories like this, and later realized a lot of it was an attempt to implant memories on our kids that didn't happen. Once I was brave enough to talk about it to others I noticed there are many men like myself who refuse to engage in physical violence towards women and are actually at the receiving end of it.

I never spoke up because I was too embarrassed and nobody among my family or friends would have understood (and I knew that I wasn't able to give up my kids because this would have been the result of a break-up so I rather went to work with a bruised face claiming I fell of the bike or the snowboard - again!)

My problem was that she might actually be bi-polar or suffer from some kind of undiagnosed mental condition (at least to me this was the only explanation for such level of "evil"). In the end it doesn't matter what's the cause what counts is that I got out of it. Oddly having the responsibility of children was the reason I put up with this for so long. When I asked myself if this is the template I want to pass on to them I walked because I hope that if they ever find themselves in such a place they should walk regardless of how many kids they have.

I feel like there's a lot a brainwashing and manipulation even when spouses aren't physically abusive.

My wife tells me stuff that just doesn't make sense. When I sold my nice car and quit doing track days when we got married with plans to have kids, she kept telling me that I could've kept it and that the only reason I had it must have been to get girls. That simply wasn't true. And keep it? Using what money! I pay all the bills (and benefits, and retirement saving) except for her phone and car, while she spends as much or more every month on her hobby as I do on the mortgage. Or if I tell her that we should cut back on our toddler's screen time that day, she'll say it was only .5 hour, eventhough I witnessed 1.5 hours of TV time and .5 hour of phone/youtube time.

On top of this, she occaionally tells me that I'm mean to her. This is usually in response to me giving her instructions on how to properly perform some task. For example, she said I get the whites very clean looking when I wash them. I told her you have to pre soak them with bleach or oxiclean when they look dirty. Apparently this is mean to say? Or I mention that our toddler with a heart condition shouldn't be drinking iced tea with caffeine in it. Apparently this makes me controlling. I thought this would be common sense (drinking caffeine is the opposite of taking a medication to slow heart rate, which could lead to a bad outcome).

Many people have terrible social skills, and introspection.

There’s also the issue that many people choose mates because they want to have sex with them, or because they were young, or gave them attention, or were just around (or some combination of all these things).

People are awful at choosing long term mates and the discussion around this and the selection criteria is really bad.

If your partner has core value differences or just isn’t at some threshold of general intelligence the relationship will be filled with this kind of anxiety inducing misery.

This goes both ways too - I’ve known brilliant women who dated oafish/dumber, but very good-looking/fit men that were filled with similar insecurities. People should select more on core value alignment and intelligence than they do.

The brainwashing isn’t some secret truth of spousal relationships, except perhaps that people are bad at long term mate selection and select for the wrong things.

The values are mostly the same. The two big issued in this case are that she's never lived alone, so never learned many basic life skills. It's not terrible, but can get annoying when you're the one in a fulltime job and watches the kid on most nights and weekends, doing all the shopping, cooking, financial, legal, medical, mechanical, and property upkeep work.

The second thing is that she stated before marriage that she likes the country and wants to own a small horse farm. I, incorrectly, assumed that ment moving to a cheaper area. Who has $1M+ dollars for 10-20 acres in this area? Not to mention land in that amount is pretty rare as the county's population density metrics list it as urbanized.

Oh well.

Good on you for getting out and showing your kids that it is ok to leave a bad relationship (even if they don't realize that is what you are doing at the time).

My father married a woman (my stepmother) who was abusive and manipulative and it took him awhile to be decisive and leave.

I didn't appreciate how hard it was for him to leave at the time and blamed him for part of it.

Now (a couple decades later) I am just grateful we got out at all.

Your kids might not realize everything that is going on right away. From my experience, there is a good chance they will see all you did for them one day.

I’m so sorry, this sounds truly awful.

I "retired" at 33 after working in tech for 12 years and saving a ton of money. With my free time I run a fun hobby business teaching kayaking which is way more fun and brings me way more happiness than anything I did in 2019 or before.

I’m 36 and followed a similar path “retiring” a few years ago to be a stay at home dad. I missed out on my daughters early years due to being a workaholic and didn’t want to do the same with my son. I failed to realise when I was young I can earn more money but never more time and memories built from a phone video suck.

I enjoy spending time doing work on the house and since we moved to [redacted] in 2018 I do a few small volunteer jobs such as teaching IT, programming, and helping people improve their conversational English at coffee meet-ups or picnics in the park. Nothing special as I’m not properly trained but it keeps me active and social.

I should probably look at making some money from it but I also don’t really care and like how it’s something I want to do rather than have to do because money is involved.

I am far away from being a dad but curious, how do you balance "providing for your kid" and "being there for your kid"?

To follow on to my other comment (didn't want to edit it as this is a separate point)...

My reason for doing what I did is that a good friend and former manager died in his early 50s and I realised that could easily be me in twenty years.

It breaks my heart that he worked so damn hard only to die alone in the middle of the night in his home office with a fucking P&L still open on his screen. His wife and kids found him as they were getting ready for school :(

He gave up so much time with his kids as he always said he was working hard to provide the best for them in the future but you want to know the worst thing? His family are now financially struggling. He had two teenager kids and while his wife worked they lived beyond their means so when he passed their whole world collapsed.

All that time working, all the missed time with his kids and still he left so little. It crushed me if I am honest and I swore I would do whatever I had to do to minimise the chance of it happening to me.

Reminds me of my father. He worked hard, spent much time away from home, and when he was home during weekends, he was usually tired, sleeping during the day on the couch in the living room -- that's exactly how I see him when I try to remember his face.

His plan was to make a lot of money, build a huge house for the family, and then probably to switch to some less stressful work and enjoy a calm family life.

But right after buying the land for the house, he died of heart attack. His money disappeared (he always handled the finances himself, my mother had no idea where any of it was, some things most likely got stolen), we struggled financially, had to sell the land, so at the end nothing remained, except for memories of a few great vacations spent together. Even there, he often brought the family to the vacation, but disappeared in the middle of it to handle some business, so I have more memories of the places than I have of him.

In my experience, you have to make sacrifices. Everything in life is a trade-off in one eaybor another.

I gave up my nice car and doing track days. Many of my time consuming hobbies that involved going somewhere have been greatly reduced or eliminated. I tried replacing them with smaller hobbies at home while I can watch the kid - like small batch beer brewing or learning bass guitar.

Career-wise I have accepted that I will not be promoted and will remain an average midlevel dev for the foreseeable future, mostly due to the cultural expectation that you have to put in more hours to be higher level (and some past decisions still dragging me down). I also acknowledge that I can't afford to changes jobs, eventhough I hate my current job. I need the money to support my family.

The responsibilities that come with marriage and kids is vastly understated - it can be absolutely crushing. If it weren't for these responsibilities, I would have changed jobs, been a senior dev or tech lead, made and saved more money, and likely would have been able to move to a lower cost area to retire early.

Hmm I can maybe understand why you think you’ll be a mid level dev without putting in hours.. you didn’t mention your location so not sure.

But why in the world can’t you afford to change jobs? Plenty of places need mid level devs and it doesn’t cost anything to change jobs.. in fact they usually pay you more.

The company I'm at requires longer hours for promotions (unofficially of course). I worked as a tech lead and the a senior dev a few years ago. They wouldn't promote me unless I worked at least an extra hour per day.

That system ended up being outsourced and I had to get a new position at the same company. The tech was obscure (FileNet) and thevonky other position I could get was in equally obscure tech (Neoxam). There I became the ASC for the system across 6 teams and two departments - a role typically reserved for senior devs and above. Then they cut the budget in half and did some stuff that I didnt agree with and wouldn't want to be responsible for the security of. So now I'm on a team with modern tech (AWS). It still feels like extra hours are required and they also expect me to be an expert in multiple stacks/systems simultaneously, which is tough. I also feel like, what's the point? The company keeps breaking their own policies and my expertise is just throwaway in their eyes.

Once I become an expert in AWS (which will take a long time the way the work is structured) then I can maybe switch companies. It's still a risk since I have a family to support and I'm responsible for basically all the bills.

This reads like an ad for Resume Driven Development.

By "providing for your kid" I assume you mean financially?

There is no secret. I go without some things I would like but are not as important to me, such as an expensive car and expensive holidays.

Basically if it qualifies as "expensive" I usually forgo it. Not for everything but I try to balance if spending more on something is worth it.

Financially we have a comfortable life. We have no debts at all. My wife has a good income and a "safe" job. We have a decent amount in savings. And so we just live a simple life.

Is there anything specific you would like to know? I am happy to share.

The two aren’t mutually exclusive and the roles change as the kid gets older.

When they’re newborns you are focused totally on providing: they can’t feed themselves, change their diapers, or bathe themselves.

When they get older they can do those things but then start having questions about the world and girls and faith. That’s when it really gets fun because you strengthen the bond.

So you’re always providing for the kid. Being there is the tougher part.

Any two things involving time that can't be done simultaneously are, to a degree, mutually exclusive.

You can't be running a code review and chasing a two year old around the house.

I just wanted to say you’re awesome and I’m so happy you’re doing something you enjoy. I’m also glad you’re still hanging out around HN too. :)

I wish I could do that but I only think this is possible by getting a job in the US or Switzerland. They’re both not easy to get if you’re not a citizen there.

There was even this Swiss recruiter that scours HN, but after he finds out you’re a recent college grad he vanishes. At least, in my case. Maybe not in other cases.

I think I know who you are talking about. He was unfailingly polite with me, but it was very clear that he was not very interested too. I also was coming back from a semi-academic position.

Do not be very hard on you (or him). Every job opening I interview candidates for we receive piles and piles of academia refugees, mostly postgrads fleeing their postdocs. They tend to know very little about software (or domain knowledge of our field) but they will try anything: junior, senior and even managerial roles. Signal to noise tends to be very low, so any competitive places ignore most of them. It is a problem for competent people in this life situation, because they get ignored too.

Good analysis of how recruiters ignore university refugees and recent graduates. Which is why I had to throw most of my 5 years of uni studies always and get a job in IT, which I was trying to run away from. But hey! At least I am extremely good at it.

You don't need to be a Swiss citizen to work in Switzerland. EU citizens are entitled to move to CH and work there — all that's needed is a job offer. Of course, there may be issues like language to overcome (many jobs will use the local language, though some companies are English-speaking) or a bias against non-Swiss folks but those aren't legal or technical hurdles.

It's much harder to get a job as a non-Swiss/non-EU.

This isn't even that common in the US. Sure, there's a chance of retiring early. For most of us, that won't happen prior to age 50, if at all.

It's not common at all, but it's very achievable for most engineers in the US if they're willing to live below their means. Engineers in the US make 2-3x the median income. The difference in disposable income is even greater when you subtract off the costs of necessities. And yet, those other people aren't working 2-3x as many years.

It may mean not going out to eat all the time, not buying a fancy new car all the time, not having a fancy house in the most prestigious neighborhood, etc. I'm not saying it's bad to buy or want these things, but they are luxuries you pay for with hours in the office.

Early retirement is even easier if retire doesn't mean, "never work for money again", and instead means, "I don't have to take salary into consideration when deciding when/where to work". I'm an engineer living in the SF Bay area who doesn't make tech money and I'll still be able to retire after 15-20 years, easily, while still having waaaay more than my parents did when I was growing up.

"it's very achievable for most engineers in the US"

I feel like this isn't true at all for retiring prior to age 50.

You have to adjust for cost of living and the area's median income. The median income in my state is $60k-65k and my salary is about $85k. I'm a midlevel dev in the industry for 9 years (no way could I retire at 15-20 years, even for a lower paying job). I also have a family to support. I do live within my means, but that doesn't mean much with the moderately high cost of living in this area.

Where do you live that has a moderately high cost of living and a 9-years of experience dev can only demand $85k? I feel like that is an uncommon combination in the US.

Philadelphia region, which seems to me like the worst US market for IT pay vs cost of living.

There are some bonuses and profit sharing that might bump it $5k-15k. The housing market here has been hot for years now. Even with a long commute a builder grade house in the 1500-1800 sf range on less than an acre is over $250k with about $4-5k in taxes. It's about double that price if the commute is half as long. As an idea of cost of living, labor charge for stuff like a mechanic or plumber is about $100/hr.

Yeah, that does seem especially bad.

In Seattle with a short commute you'd pay $900k-1M on a 1500-1800 sf house on 1600-3000 sf of land depending on if it's a townhouse or 1930s construction. $100k is a starting salary for new grads here. And plumbers/mechanics still charge about $100/hr, I think. (I have never had need of a professional plumber -- I do it myself -- and haven't had to do any auto work beyond oil in a few years.)

I think it’s less likely as housing trends towards unaffordable.

I agree and think there's a somewhat hidden piece to that. Property taxes are increasing commensurate with the property value and generally increasing as a percentage. You might be able to pay off a mortgage, but the property tax can remain a burden. Like in my area, you can end up spending thousands per year in perpetuity on a reasonably modest property, with that amount constantly going up.

It's not common at all in Switzerland, either, at least from what I can tell after living here for years. Salaries for lower-level positions tend to be higher than in the US, but I highly doubt these would be enough to retire quite so early. Total compensation for highly-skilled positions is often lower than in the US. However, the cost of living can be relatively low if one is willing to live frugally, but quickly balloons as services are outsourced (e.g. eating out).

What do you do for health insurance?

Go read https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/blog/ if you filter out the snarky “I’m so badass” posts there’s actually good advice in a ton of topics such as health insurance / coverage, investments, and how not to be a wasteful person mostly :)

Seconded MMM, that blog changed my life.

Buy it on the ACA exchanges? Depending on your income, you may qualify for significant subsidies. Taxable retirement income for a given lifestyle is lower than most people seem to think -- dividends and LTCG have a lower tax rate than income; you don't pay taxes on the cost basis; you don't pay taxes on withdrawals from Roth accounts at all; and you don't need surplus income to save for retirement. If you live in a paid-off house, that can cut Cost of Living (CoL) needs substantially (e.g., the mortgage is something like 75% of my pre-retirement spending in a High CoL city).

Like what is stated elsewhere, when my wife wasn't working, we were on the ACA exchange. She's now working for fun again at a company that offers it as a benefit and so I'm on hers as it's a slightly better plan at a similar price to an unsubsidized ACA plan.

Acknowledging the damage inflicted by an abusive past partner.

I'm able to say "this is something that happened to me" and address it as such -- It isn't a thing I push to the back of my brain to deal with later, or an isolating trauma I'm afraid of losing friends over, or an overshadowing fixation I'm worried has changed me.

It's in the front row now, being processed piece by piece.

Over the past year I've been initiating more conversations with friends, opening up more, and taking much better care of myself. I feel better; I feel happier, and the trajectory is set for that to continue.

I'm beginning to acknowledge my abuse too. I lost a lot of friends because the man is always blamed by default in any kind of conflict. Most men think women are not capable of abuse until it happens to them. And if it does happen it can take years to acknowledge what happened and pride kicks in so most men never talk about it which further contributes to the lack of awareness. Add to that the fact nobody truly cares even if you do tell them. So you end up seeking support from other men who do get it in forbidden online communities and called a "misogynist". It's a vicious cycle.

But for me this is only about inner peace, not convincing others to feel sorry for me. I've found Stoicism which has greatly improved my life. Even though I have a partner who loves me, I understand that one should never rely on another for happiness. I've begun to do all the things I love doing again. Computers, electronics, programming, cycling. All these things that stopped during my recovery while I hopelessly sought someone to fill a void they couldn't possibly fill.

It's especially sad that our societal views are so far off the data due to stereotyping.

According to some CDC studies, more men are victims of domestic abuse than women are. It's just that men do not report much of it, and there are more cases of severe injuries when it comes to women (40/60 split). I think one of those CDC studies even said that men are more likely to have a deadly weapon used against them in a domestic abuse situation than women are. A little shocking how different this is from the typical narrative.

The problem is how we deal with outliers. Statisticians know that outliers need to be excluded from their results, but society tends to focus on outliers, letting everyone else lay in their shadow.

We're all guilty of it. We have competitions with the sole purpose of finding these extreme outliers. We look up to them, turn them into household names, reward them with great wealth and accolades.

It turns out if you look for outliers, you will find mostly men. Pick any attribute you can measure and you'll probably find a man who "wins". Fastest human? Male. Greatest chess player? Male. Worst serial killer? Male.

This is vaguely recognised which is why women are held to different standards. They have their own sporting events, for example, otherwise they would all fall into the shadow of the all-male outliers.

Nobody minds that 99% of men fall into that same shadow, though.

In car insurance it's quite well-known that men, on average, are responsible for higher payouts. But this isn't because men, on average, do more damage to cars. In fact, the statistics show the opposite. But when women damage cars it tends to be below the threshold that is worth claiming. When a car is completely written off, it tends to be due to a man. It's a tiny minority of incidents, but has a huge impact on insurance payouts.

As with anything, people focus on the extremes and the extremes are mostly male. But that doesn't mean every male is responsible or even capable of the same. But, as with insurance, we all suffer from it.

> Statisticians know that outliers need to be excluded from their results,

offtopic, but this is not true in general. This is one of my strongest pet peeves. For many distributions (e.g. Cauchy, power laws, Levy stable...) it turns out that all samples are "outliers" and you cannot really exclude them. It is only on the "degenerate" case of finite variance that you can exclude outliers. But some statisticians may still argue that this is still wrong: there are no outliers, only incomplete models.

Congratulations on the breakthrough!

Quitting porn.

At age 45, having been addicted since first finding I could download over 1200 baud dialup on my parents phone line and watching Cinemax late night through the static, it has just been a thing in my life almost daily and honestly I'd given up on caring whether it was a bad thing or not.

I'd felt guilty about it sometimes, and sure, tried to quit on a number of occasions, but always ended up back within a week or two.

Finally one day early last year I just decided to quit, and for whatever reason, that time it worked. And even though day to day I don't think it's made any objective change in my life, every time I think about it, I'm so happy to be done with it.

What downside(s) did you experience, that led you to want to give it up?

From an outsider’s perspective, I’m wondering why spending time watching porn is ultimately much different from time spent with any other sedentary pastime?

Because you end up feeding a primate/reproductive prime control system, using unlimited and synthetic input. The system was never designed for the this kind of "bandwidth". Since we are biological machines, other parts of the organism need to compensate... This compensation is very dangerous in the long run both from a personal and a social side.

You could argue the same about entertainment. But seeking it is not a prime directive on an organic level opposed to reproduction.

And yet it’s still possible to eat ice cream even though such a thing would not be found on the savanna.

Some people can’t control this and become wildly obese, but others eat ice cream, understand what it is, and get on with their life.

I don't think the focus should be on "understanding what it is". Others eat ice cream and don't get into a physiological loop that they can't control without a lot of hardship and scientific tools.

The drive for reproduction is way stronger than the need for energy (sugar - ice cream).

I don’t agree.

You need to eat to not die before you need sex.

Yes. But given the choice, in non life or death situation. Between sex and food. People would pick way more sex than food.

What I mean is that sex is easier to reach for than food when a person is bored.

Just like heroin is more potent than aspirin.

Also it has been proven that both sex and heroin stimulate pleasure parts of the brain.

> Yes. But given the choice, in non life or death situation. Between sex and food. People would pick way more sex than food.

Ever notice how folks have sex less frequently when they're in relationships and as they grow older? Where the opportunities for sex exist in multitudes? Yet they never stop eating. You can live without sex, you can't live without food. The drive for the two are not comparable.

> Where the opportunities for sex exist in multitudes?

But porn is easier...

IDK, like I said it really wasn't having much tangible effect on my life. But, it was always there gnawing at me if I thought about it. I mean, there's always (1) the potential of getting caught, which would not be fun, and (2) the loss of time that could be better used. And the minor gnawing at the conscience.

As far as why right then ended up being the time, it's hard to say. I think maybe it was that I made it more about improving myself as a whole rather than rooting out some insidious evil. More of a picking something off my bucket list and doing it.

Did it make me better? IDK, I still find other ways to slack off when I can. But I definitely feel better when I think about it. Much more than I'd expected to. And very possibly it's just some air of a superiority complex above my former self. Which is a stupid reason, but who cares: I'd assume in most people's view it's a positive to at-worst-neutral turn whatever the reason. And of course it's nice to know that I'll never have to worry about getting caught again.

If you are referring to porn, despite the general perception I think it's quite harmless. Things like drugs, smoking, alcohol and even spedning time on Facebook and Instagram have much worse effect on someone's wellbeing. People use it mostly for stress relief and that's much better strategy than smoking pot or even casual drinking.

If you are referring to alcohol, despite the general perception I think it's quite harmless.

If you are referring to drugs, despite the general perception I think it's quite harmless.

If you are referring to smoking, despite the general perception I think it's quite harmless.

Just because other things are also bad for you does not mean that porn isn't bad for you. It's established that it is.

> It's established that it is.

Is it?


What became different after you quit?

Without a doubt:

1. My puppy. We moved out of a studio apartment with my ex in a town I didn’t know, back to my city and into a house of our own two weeks before everything shut down. In the last year we’ve bonded incredibly, and weathered the worst of the last year together in a way that would have been incredibly difficult without her. We wake up every day to snuggles and a special day’s greeting, and wind down every night squished up on the couch. I carry her to bed most nights, not because she needs carrying but because it feels so sweet to end the night that way.

2. I quit a job that was burning me out and spent 5 months building the start of a living art project which reinvigorated my creative mind and my love of the tech craft. It’s just started but I have a zillion things I plan to do with it, and it’s the first ambitious project I’ve been able to follow through on in years.

Getting COVID.

I've just turned 30 and I used to do a lot of cardio exercise. Over the past few years as other things have taken priority, I cut back. I'd try to do something every day but would often miss days and the workouts would be short and poor quality.

After getting (fortunately mild) COVID I was worried about cardiac issues when I resumed exercise. I decided to buy an Apple Watch to monitor my heart rate and use the ECG functionality.

A few months later, and the big thing I have learned about myself is how well I respond to "gamification" of habits. I now HAVE to close my exercise rings every day, and it's immensely gratifying to track my overall health improving - I did not realise how out of shape I really was. I'm sleeping better, a lot more productive, my mood has increased significantly, and overall I feel much better in myself.

It's also lead to me using other "habit forming" apps (I use "Streaks" - https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/streaks/id963034692) to change things I don't like about myself and generally become a better person.

Overall, I've learned a lot about myself and how I'm motivated.

Sounds more like buying the Apple Watch was the contributor to you happiness. Had someone gifted it to you, might you have had the same outcome?

I’ve had my watch for over 2 years now and I’m in the same boat as OP. Gamified cardio with Streaks and 2 miles a day goal and have been going for 75 days. I’ve been insanely productive the last few weeks and there’s no other way for me the explain it other than the fact that running makes me feel good.

Such a pandemic cliche: making sourdough bread.

Takes all day. Took about 3 or 4 tries until I got the hang of it. Now I make two loaves every weekend. Tastier than anything I've bought at a store.

Started with Serious Eats: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2020/07/how-to-make-sour...

Settled at Tartine Country Bread: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016277-tartines-country...

Makes me happy every time.

It is seriously so gratifying to make. It's also really nice to be able to share it with friends/family. I think post-covid, I'd like to share with neighbours as well.

Try mixing gochujang with it after the autolyse step, it adds a wonderful aroma and depending on how much you put in a nice kick too!

Haven't tried adding spicy things into the dough. Great idea. Thanks. Spicy sourdough is making my mouth water.

On the same ride. I got help from a friend over Instagram early last year, and it’s become an ingrained routine. It has become such a pandemic cliche, but I don’t care - it’s really satisfying. Calming, fulfilling, and just really nice to have good bread!

(Sourdough Pizza has been another big thing in our house.)

Same! Received a cast iron pan set that doubles as a Dutch oven as a gift. Since then I've been making the most delicious sourdough pizzas.

I'm annoyed with myself that I ate crappy frozen pizzas/takeaway for so long, when I should have been cooking from scratch using a cast iron pan or pizza stone.

I have not tried sourdough pizza dough. Nice. Will try later this week.

I have two cast iron skillets. I make my bread by covering them with 9inch round cake pans. Comes out all right.

Serious Eats is my preferred home made pizza: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/foolproof-pan-pi...

I think this is the same recipe for Tartine Country Bread but not paywalled: https://tartinebakery.com/stories/country-bread


I aspire to make Tartine morning rolls. But haven't gotten past the croissant dough yet.

Check out @fullproofbaking on Instagram if you haven't :)

Buying a pen plotter last summer was one of the best decision for a while. As I start my journey into programming with generative art, using macromedia director and processing, I always wanted to be able to create my on physical prints. So for the last months I got back to have fun writing code in my spare time. Some examples: https://twitter.com/eskimobloood/status/1366300689652187140 https://twitter.com/eskimobloood/status/1285159611599933441 https://twitter.com/eskimobloood/status/1373317198119370753

Just logged in to say that this work is amazing and that I really like your style :)

I also keep coming back to generative art and think about getting a pen plotter for years already. Now I am getting one!

What is this ptpx process? Some kind of postcard exchange? Looks fun, is there more info somewhere?

Yes, stands for plotter twitter postcard exchange. I think there is no real info online. It was organized by Paul Butler[1] on twitter. In the end you but your info into an google sheet and he organized sending out emails with the addresses for your postcards to send to.


That’s so cool. I had no idea this was a thing and it’s right up my alley.

They look very interesting.

Could you share some resources on how to get into this?

Sure. The plotter I've bought is the AxiDraw SE/A3[1]. There is an Inkscape plugin so you can easily plot SVG graphics. I generate the SVG graphics using small JavaScript programs. Thats already it. Here[2] is a more detailed resource list to dig into the topic

[1]https://shop.evilmadscientist.com/productsmenu/908 [2]https://project-awesome.org/beardicus/awesome-plotters


I already have a 3D printer and I’ve seen some projects that made it possible to use the 3D printer as a plotter. So probably I’d try that route first.

I was actually more interested in the software aspect to generate those arts.

This a is a really wide field. Basically its starts with one of the standard algorithms, like and l-system, a voronoi diagram, or simple combination of sin and cos to draw shapes. Have a look at thi-ng[1], just as example for a library that has implemented a lot of this kind of algorithms. The next step in my process is to think about how to destroy this forms as most of them are used a lot in this field and become boring. Using perlin noise as input to arguments of the algorithms is one way to do this. The other part is to make most all of the input variables easily changeable as most of the time the whole process is like writing the program and then spend a lot of time adapt the parameters until you get some interesting output. So in the end I have a small Svelte app, using Svelte only cause the data binding for the inputs so simple, which has tons of sliders that renders an SVG that can be saved in the end.


Yeh, +1 to that - have been experimenting with generative art as the basis to my printmaking, and would love to see some more on this..

My son's daycare closed permanently almost a year ago, and my wife and I had to adjust to have a 3 going on 4 year old at home with us 24/7. While it hasn't been easy, it's been a joy watching him grow over this past year, having time to bond with him (generally he favours his mom), and to have greater insight into who he is becoming as a person.

It has been a difficult time for everyone, but I honestly believe that this will be formative time not just for him, but for my wife and I, and one that we will look back upon fondly.

I think this is one of the curses of modern life, more so in the rat race, that one misses on just living with kids (who, most likely, will be living with parents for probably two or three decades of their lives and then move out). The current times generally have more fathers being participative in parenting compared to the past. It seems such a waste of time, if it’s feasible without breaking the bank, to not enjoy more of this phase.

This early stage is also the time when the kids are more dependent and more close in some senses. Can’t roll back the clock later.

BTW, a grammar nitpick. It should be “but for my wife and me”, not “ but for my wife and I”.

> I think this is one of the curses of modern life, more so in the rat race, that one misses on just living with kids

Statistically, parents are spending more time with their kids than they did in the past.


I retired (after getting diagnosed with incurable cancer). I was a workaholic and never thought I could quit so easily, but after quiting I don't miss work and I'm a lot happier (despite the cancer thing). If you are obsessed with work and in a position to take a few months off, please consider doing this. It may change your perspective.

Sorry to hear about your prognosis. I hope you get to enjoy the time you have.

What cancer do you have? (Also have you been looking outside mainstream cancer treatments?)

Prostate cancer. No, I have limited faith in medical science and none whatsoever in alternatives. Like I said, I'm quite happy and don't cling to life. I'll enjoy whatever time I have left to the max, but there's no need for me to maximize my time on earth (i.e. quality over quantity).

>Prostate cancer.

Generally benign in my opinion.

(also here is an interesting read by the developer of the PCR test: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/opinion/10Ablin.html )

>No, I have limited faith in medical science and none whatsoever in alternatives.

You are inadvertently doing the right thing. ( yep , there is a lot of nonsense in both mainstream and alternative).

Long (quality) life to you...

Hell yeah. Agree a lot, and when the fear of losing life is reduced or gone you can go out and do what you want and what needs to be done with your remaining time.

Enjoy your time, relationships, and the beauty of the planet!

Staying away from the startup hustle and city life.

I have been constantly disturbed by the chase in the startup system. Building up something out of own passion is one thing, but trying to act like the investor-led founders has been driving me crazy for years.

I live a village life now, do much less software work. Have dialed down my ambitions and I am actually very happy. I do feel that my skills, acquired over 15 years, are less used, but that regret does not last long when I take a trip around the neighboring hills (I live in a Himalayan territory).

Yep. I moved to SF for a bit over a year, at the behest of my previous employer (which wanted me to work out of their HQ). Probably the most stressful period of my life, both financially and emotionally. Yeah, it was fun for the first couple weeks, but once the novelty wore off I was just left feeling claustrophobic and imprisoned.

I moved back to Reno right at the start of 2020, and it was an immediate change for the better. Less financial stress, and much easier/quicker to escape the city. And this is even amid COVID; I strongly suspect once the stress of an ongoing pandemic subsides I'll be fully back in my "zone", so to speak.

How do you sustain this dialed down ambition? Community? Physical labor? Every time I read HN or watch youtube my ambition goes up. And I tried to retire last year but my mind is still restless.

I am just guessing here. Have you acted upon your ambitions yet, or do you get overwhelmed and depressed everytime the ambition shoots up (could be due of other startups, HN, friends, YouTube, anything)?

My guess is that most people when the latter happens n number of times(n being the threshold), they breakdown. It's very difficult to know if it is a want or a want-to-want, or a have-to-want. But you can be sure that if the latter is happening, it is never a want, it is always either a want-to-want, or a have-to-want. Once you realise that, I think it will be easier to realise what you really want.

Probably more of a want-to-want. I have a few days of motivation and then succumb to procrastination when I realize (surprise) that nothing is easy and it's all hard work.

I am learning woodworking. I have been thinking of this for many years. I do still get inspired by what others are doing but I have accepted that I have too much anxiety or related issues to run an investor led startup. It is a conscious choice and I am happy with it.

I hear you. I may do something similar. Like buying cheap land and building a tiny house on it by hand. And eventually joining a co-living community in Austria.

> Every time I read HN or watch youtube my ambition goes up

As the old joke goes, don't do that then.

You say you tried to retire; you must have had a previous big push to follow your ambitions in your life. Did that work out well or badly?

I worked a dead end pharmacy job for 9 years and saved hard. I never actually pursued the ambition, if that makes sense, as they were more fantasies than anything else. So maybe moreso FOMO and jealousy (and also fear of losing everything).

Just out of curiosity: whereabouts in the Himalayas are you located? We've been looking for nice places off the beaten path and are always looking for inspiration.

I live in Sikkim. Temi to be more accurate, it is a small village. It is just below a well-known tea estate. If you search for Temi Tea, Sikkim, you will get a good idea. The tea is one of the best export quality tea from India.

Looks like a wonderful place! How I wish that people from outside of Sikkim could acquire property there - it's one of our favourite states in India.

Getting a nice car.

I’m prone to depression if I stay in the house too long.

Having a nice car means when I roll out of bed in the morning, I’m able to head straight to a nice, comfortable, private, warm space and start listening to meaningful podcasts, audiobooks, get breakfast, head to the gym, and get a consistent good start on the day.

I’m not sure if I can go back to city living at this point if it means giving up a car.

In contrast I hate driving cars. I feel like it’s my least favorite tool. I have a nice car, I’ve driven even nicer cars in different styles and hated them all. Driving requires so much of my attention I feel like it’s invasive. In addition I feel like I have to sit relatively still and use my muscles in very particular way. It’s a trap for my mind in body, and an experience I don’t find pleasant.

I am an American and will go out of my way to use any other mode of transportation, even at the expense of time or money. Sometime’s it’s just unavoidable.

> Driving requires so much of my attention I feel like it’s invasive.

Weirdly, this is why I like driving. The more attention needed (e.g. snow driving, offroad driving), the more I seem to enjoy it. It's kind of meditative, in a way; on the one hand, it forces me to backburner a lot of lingering thoughts, and on the other hand, that backburnering gives 'em time to "cook" (so to speak) and accumulate new insights to be stumbled upon as soon as they become front and center again.


Yup, if that was my experience, I would hate driving cars as well.

I’m able to drive pretty much on autopilot. Plus, I don’t feel I’m wasting time listening to podcasts/audiobooks because I’m “doing something/headed somewhere”.

I’ve driven almost 20k miles in the past 3.5 months.

> I’ve driven almost 20k miles in the past 3.5 months.

Wow. I drive everyday, but this is a lot of driving. You're looking at nearly 70,000 miles/year at that rate. Out of curiosity, what requires you to drive this much? And is it worth the tens of thousands of dollars you need to spend per year on fuel and car maintenance to do that (on top of the time commitment it is to drive that much)?


I bought my car in San Diego and drove across the country to Florida. I recently did a trip up to NY/VT and back (to FL).

I do smaller, random weekend trips. I drove to Jacksonville and back this weekend. I do often drive around the Tampa area, for fun.

Regarding gas, thanks for reminding me to do the calculation, heh.

Is it worth it? I'll do the calculation and get back to you :)

I left my job in November, so I don't view it as a commitment. I just drive for fun.

I’m about to do something similar, but it’s getting a car that I’m going to put a bed in the back of and drive cross country to a new job, which will also involve driving around and camping as part of it.

I’m all excited over the stuff I want to get. A little solar panel with a battery, good camping stove and coffee percolator, and lots of good audiobooks and podcasts :)

That things gonna be my ticket to anywhere, lol.

To be a safe driver your eyes need to be constantly focused on the road, and even 15 seconds looks away can cause significant problem. Maybe you need less mental attention then I use, but it physically requires a lot of attention.

I find some of that attention neccessary for enjoyment. The joy of going fast, rowing your own gears, etc

I agree, I can't wait for autonomous vehicles. I actually want to walk to get in shape. I like to think about abstract problems so driving can be difficult in those situations as automatic as it is.

Just adding that I also hate driving cars. Thanks for your comment - I always feel it is something very strange about me.

All of this + the fact that they are a huge financial burden (depreciation, insurance, repairs, fuel), AND probably the most dangerous activity you do on a regular basis.

We have one, we use it, I have even enjoyed the few road trips, but I absolutely hate them.

What do you mean by nice: new/clean or expensive?

Mm just something that you are comfortable in and feels good to be in.

I got a 2018 Camry XSE, so it's got nice comfy leather seats.

Arguably the best thing is having CarPlay. Such a nice UI for listening to podcasts/audio books, texting, calling.

So you go places by yourself? or with others? How do find so many podcasts/content to listen to. Also do you ever get out at your destinations besides hotels? I'd love to know more about this. I love driving but I find I have no where to go. I'd love to chat

Starting each day with 20 minutes of the type of meditation espoused here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaNO09cPS6c

In terms the more scientifically-inclined will understand: everything that is outside your current, immediate perception is a simulation in your mind and therefore is both inaccurate and prone to reflect your hopes and fears (especially fears). Simply dialing down those mental simulations of the past, future and distant places can significantly relax you.

One's metaphhsical commitments are huge.

My community of faith is/has been the bedrock of life for years.

Watching the world react in ways that make no sense would be a complete downer if one could not look past human folly and call into the core of existence.

Best wishes to all for joy, forgiveness, and healing.

"Immediate perception" is a simulation, or more precisely, a reconstruction.

The measurement systems which interact with your body (light, sound, etc.) are woefully lacking in information. You use prior learned environmental models to reconstruct the environment, where the sensory stimulation merely resolves between models.

We all thought that my dad was going to die from covid19. The doctors were very pessimistic. He lived. He recovered very slowly over the last 4 months. During the first month, he could not speak English (he was born in Norway), he needed 3 liters per minute of oxygen, and he could not stand up. Now, he has no trouble speaking, does not need oxygen, and he can walk 300 yards if he has a walker. Every month he has improved.

Buying a dishwasher.

1. Less drudgery means more time to relax

2. Less pressure to minimise kitchenware use means more ambitious and enjoyable cooking

3. I just get a little jolt of happiness when I walk into the kitchen and see my large cuboidal son sitting there

Interestingly, I found the dishwasher produced more stress than handwashing. Living alone, it takes days to fill up the dishwasher to a level where running it isn't wasteful. Every day, I'd eye how full it was and judge whether it was "worth it" to run it that day. Meanwhile, any time I cooked invariably the pot or pan I needed was sitting dirty in the dishwasher. With hand washing, I just spend 15 minutes usually every other day and

During the summer I live off-grid in a small travel trailer. Every night I fired up the water heater, did that day's dishes, and took a shower outdoors. A bit of drudgery, but actually relaxing and not at all stressful.

An average faucet flows at 2 gallons per minute. An average dishwasher uses 4 gallons of water. Unless you can do your dishes in 2 minutes, dishwasher uses less water.

Ref https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-much-water-do-dishwashers-us...

You leave your water running while you wash your dishes?!

Having lived off-grid without running water, I know very precisely that I use slightly more than a gallon of water to hand wash my dishes. No way a dishwasher beats that.

It's a moot point anyway. I don't have a dishwasher and I'm certainly not going to remodel my kitchen to make room for one.

> it takes days to fill up the dishwasher to a level where running it isn't wasteful

Dishwashers are much more efficient than you think -- more than handwashing. Just run it every day or two.

Indeed, and modern dishwashers also often have a cycle which adjusts the amount of washing they do to the load (using things like sensors to see how clean the wastewater is) which can further improve this.

Having lived off-grid without running water, I know very precisely that I use slightly more than a gallon of water to hand wash my dishes. No way a dish-washer beats that.

It comes close on an every other day cycle, and if you waited to run it until filling it, it would probably beat that. (Maybe it goes without saying, but your ~1 gallon figure is extremely efficient for 15 minutes of hand-washing.)

That said, unless you live in a desert, or off-grid, 1-2 gallons of water a day has no real cost. E.g., I pay 0.7 cents/gal for the water and 2 cents/gal for the outgoing sewage.

If you cook and have to clean large pots and baking trays, then dishwasher doesn't help you with that as much. These items cannot fit into a regular home dishwasher and these take the most time to clean and dry compared to washing plain plates and utensils.

Also dishwashers are not good for roommate arrangements because unless strict rules are enforced things keep piling up in it or you cannot put stuff inside while it is running. Still have to hand wash it yourself then.

I can see the utility of dishwashers for single people or couples who don't cook, but honestly I haven't found them very useful myself.

Also if you get proper bluetooth headphones and enjoy podcasts, washing dishes can become one of your favorite activities, like mine.

Large pots and baking trays fit in my dishwasher pretty fine. If you are using 5 multi-gallon pots every day then maybe dishwasher isn’t ideal.

That said, we don’t rinse our dishes or anything. It goes into the dishwasher and comes out spotless. Uses way less energy and water than we would manually washing too.

Dishwasher with roommates actually can be fine. Either run it no matter what is in it at end of day or when it fills up. And just have a lot more dishes than you normally would.

Dishwashers work great for people with an excessive amount of dishes. If you have an exact amount of utensils and dishes then that’s when they fall apart. But that is true of letting dishes pile up in the sink too. So, moot point to me.

The dishwasher has been amazing for my wife who does cook and bake a lot. The whole reason I got one is because she’d spend 30+ minutes everyday standing at the sink manually cleaning every single thing. Huge waste of time and water.

Our kids have moved out so there's just the two of us now.

We solve the 'wait until the dishwasher is full enough' problem by simply having enough dishes and cutlery to last us the 2-3 days it takes to fill it up :)

We do the pots and baking dishes and other awkward items that aren't great for the dishwasher by hand after dinner, but they generally only take a few minutes most days. We try to run the dishwasher end of day or after breakfast in the morning (even if it's not 100% full) to avoid the problem of dirty dishes while it's running.

I agree the roommate scenario is a harder problem, but the same approach might work.

If you have a big family they save a fair amount of time.

Probably two things:

Intrastate travel. Main line of work (web) stalled but I picked up a solid amount of drone photography/videography work that allowed me to get paid travelling more than usual around the state. Australia has been in a good position with regard to COVID-19 which obviously helped, but I did get a few travel jobs during only-travel-for-work lockdowns.

In the last 12 months, I've visited every sub-region of the state, been paid to go on a 10 night cruise, worked on a TV commercial, made decent money camping with my kids a handful of times, etc. One of the best years of my life and I feel especially fortunate knowing how rough others around the globe have had it in comparison.

Perhaps bigger than that though: a solid relationship. It's so valuable that no matter what else is going on (heavy workload, dealing with the kids, etc) that your partner has your back and vice versa. Very reassuring coming home knowing that you are a team against everything you face.

> Main line of work (web) stalled but I picked up a solid amount of drone photography/videography work

Do you mind me prying into what field you’re doing drone photo/videography in?

I’ve done drone surveys before and always thought that that would be cool too, especially when combined with travel.

Mostly tourism. Examples here: https://serio.com.au/ (Warning: Heavy page load.)

If I don't have a specific commission, I go on holiday somewhere I suspect the tourism authority needs content, shoot it and then edit/sell when I get home. Can't think of when it hasn't worked.

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