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Wellness Wednesday for March 15, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Need to come upto speed in operations research and optimization within a month. Im very strong in python and decent math skills. What do?

Landed an excellent job where I will working on the above, Feels surreal to go from eating shit to getting paid a sum where I wont really have to worry about much at all. I really dont want to bungle this. Im planning to put in 10-12 hour days, the money is worth it.

For optimization the most used textbooks is Nocedal's "Numerical Optimization", which proves most results. For operations research Hillier and Lieberman's "Introduction to Operations Research" is what you need, really big book that basically covers the whole field in moderate depth and can be used as a launching pad to search for more info, the math requirements are lower here than for Nocedal.

Good luck!

Where are my fellow software engineers at?

How do you all deal with not taking PR comments personally or not allowing yourself to get frustrated by them?

It seems like half the time I have to end up arguing over minor bullshit with colleagues that boils down to “I wouldn’t have done it that way” or “it’s not absolutely perfect” or “did you consider doing it this way?” (This way being probably the more “idiomatic” but often far less readable way).

Obviously I’m not going to get offended if a colleague catches an obvious mistake I made, or asks for more documentation or comments because something is unclear, but usually it’s what I described above.

Do I just need to develop thicker skin with this shit?

I've only sometimes run into this and it's usually with people who have some personality issue, so I'd wonder if there's some culture thing happening where you work. I am probably more nitpicky than most, and I know more and less nitpickers where I work, but nitpicks are usually brought up and dropped pretty quickly. Larger conversations are usually based around some kind of confusion. And we have a idiomatic consistency to the code to generally fall back on.

My issue has often been people not taking some concerns I have seriously, so again that makes me look like the nitpicker. On the other hand, I really feel little agitation when I'm getting nitpicked, usually because the reviewer has at least some point, or if not they are a junior dev who is confused about something. But I think my workplace has a good culture about these things in general and so I rarely feel bothered by reviews.

In case your team doesn't already do this, pick a style guide and automated style enforcer and have everyone use them automatically in their editors or when they commit. For example, black, isort, and flake8 for Python. If everyone's code is automatically made more stylistically similar, it cuts down on superficial stuff for people to bicker about during code review.

I also think about the Paul Graham maxim "keep your identity small" to avoid taking critiques of my code personally. I try to avoid identifying with my code too much and just see it as problem-solving.

Related blog post:

I thinks it's good to have a more general discussion in the team on how to handle the more opinion-based comments.

Are we talking about leaving written comments or F2F meetings? Because I've found the latter to be much more civil.

At some point, you have to directly address the issue with the reviewer or your/their manager. Some engineers waste time nitpicking at CR, don't stand for that shit. On the flip side, some people write shit code and need the mentoring, so the right move depends heavily on to what extent each possibility sounds like your situation. I eventually had to refuse to work with one guy over his wasting time code golfing shit at CR.

When I leave the nitpicky comments about doing things in a way that feels more correct to me, it's out of a felt obligation to make it look like I really read the diff. Sometimes it's even to excuse for me not understanding the broader context about why the change actually was made, so pointing out some language level change assuages the guilt of a half-assed job.

So then I don't take such comments to heart when I get them. On the system we use there's a "ignore" button for every comment raised. The commenter can reopen it, but it mostly doesn't happen, so I take it to mean they didn't care that strongly about it.

But maybe you feel a stronger sense of ownership over the stuff you write than I do. To me it's a cog in a larger system. I get paid whether the code goes in as I wrote it originally or if I make the requested changes. Ironically I suspect I'd feel much stronger about it if it was low-stakes unpaid open source project I was writing.

Personally, I prefer a system where you mark your PR comment with tag that explicitly calls out how important you think the issue is. It allows you to be complete, but also convey how much you care. I use:

MUST - I think this is an error of logic, not meeting requirements, or otherwise a major concern. I will fail the PR over this unless you convince me otherwise.

SHOULD - Probably should change this to make it more clear or adhere to standards. But if you feel strongly that your way is correct, I'm not really going to fuss.

MAYBE - random ideas, nitpicks, etc. Stuff that you can adopt or not at your leisure, and I don't really care at all.

This is a great point. We don’t have any kind of standard for that, and I think having my colleagues categorize their comments and forcing them to think about if it’s really a blocker would be helpful.


I'm socially retarded, if that's the right expression.

Due to combination of poor environment, luck and personal flaws, so far (approaching mid 20s) I had few friends, zero experience in relationships, missed several conventional life milestones and trying to catch up. I'm pretty sure I'm not autistic and not blatantly psychiatrically defective (based on reading WebMD) so it's only a matter of skill and practice to get to a tolerable place, do I navigate talking about difficult topics, especially myself? Additional challenge - I absolutely loathe having to lie.

I tried to use my strengths to combat my weakness and prepare answers in writing for questions that I anticipate but it's not really helpful. I have seen people gliding awkward questions with effortless grace, but as can be inferred from what I wrote so far, that's not something I can do. One of the first conversations with my classmates in college from some years ago:

Her: "Do you have a girlfriend?"

Me: “no”

Her: did you had one before?

Me: “no”

proceed to an awkward pause

I'm only farther behind now, and I don't know if I could handle conversations like that any better.

That made me think: is telling small lies just social glue that most people are pushed to use, except for eloquent speakers and those who are cool enough as in genuinely-don't-give-a-damn and I'm just crippling myself further?

so it's only a matter of skill and practice to get to a tolerable place

You've already identified exactly what you need to do. Just consistently put yourself out there into social situations.

There's some good advice elsewhere in this thread. One thing not mentioned yet is to consider your appearance - first impressions really matter. If you haven't already, I'd suggest you load your wardrobe up with Uniqlo and get a haircut. You don't need to aim for stylish, but looking presentable should boost your confidence considerably.

My recommendation is to watch the first two seasons of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and also join an in-person Toastmasters group. Those helped clear up my social obliviousness, which is from literal diagnosed autism.

Could you expand a bit on how MLP helped you?

I must admit my impression of connection between watching MLP (well, as an adult male) and social obliviousness is not a positive one, but I also admit there is a heavy selection effect there (in the same way that my impression of people on anti-anxiety medication would likely be them being more anxious than the average person, even if the medication is quite effective).

Certainly. When I first started watching, I was clinically depressed due to the emotional abuse from bad friends. I was also oblivious to many social norms due to autism, and was missing most social instincts most humans have.

The show helped me in three big ways:

  1. Depression: I found joy in once again watching a well-written adventure sitcom akin to DuckTales or TaleSpin which I’d grown up with. Most episodes were slice-of-life, some were adventures. Mostly it’s a comedy, but there is genuine drama. It’s an ensemble show, with one character as ostensible lead but not as the focus of the majority of episodes. Each main character has goals, fears, quirks, and strength of character; each one of them was fleshed out enough to be the star of her own show. While I was watching, the depression lifted; it was like microdosing ecstasy, from what I hear. The depression lifted enough for me to finish my college degree after four years away from school, and that got me the third best job I’ve ever had, where I worked for the past ten years.

  2. Social instincts: The show touted its philosophical core, The Elements of Harmony, five relationship virtues no relationship can survive without. Honesty, Loyalty, Kindness, Generosity, and Laughter were what my world revolved around for the next few years. I was able to examine my past and present relationships to see what was lacking, and I found all the bad memories of my bad friends were traceable to an injury to an Element. My family relationships blossomed as I sought to add Elements consciously. Curiously, many of my symptoms of autism disappeared; I think the Elements became a prosthetic set of instincts to replace what I’d been oblivious to.

  3. Social norms: The show featured inherently silly people, in the form of small and colorful horses, in a generally realistic rural town modeled after Ohio. They had to deal with jobs, groceries, school, free time vs hobbies, small business ups and downs, grad student life, and more. They displayed pretty standard social norms, when they weren’t being silly. It became something for me to model. I planned and ran a really nice graduation party for a friend of mine, and everyone thought it was a huge success. I couldn’t have done it as easily without the show’s guidance.

When I started watching, I never expected to become a hardcore fan. Yet it has been a net positive in my life since that day, and I don’t regret a minute of it.

Thank you for explaining, that makes a lot of sense and I can see how it was very helpful to your situation.

While I’d recommend staying away from toxic PUA writings, one of the best things I discovering perusing those poison laced tomes was the idea of “agree and amplify.”

Basically if someone is making you uncomfortable or challenging you in some way (like in your example) you confidently laugh it off and make it absurd. For instance, you could reply “oh yeah I’m saving myself for marriage.” Make sure to frame it as a joke.

As others have pointed out, joking isn’t lying! It’s all about tone and body language, watch some modern comedians maybe to get an idea.

Straight up find a local board game night location and just start meeting people there.

It is probably the most accepting & least intimidating place you could start building these muscles as a socially awkward nerd. If you say something weird, you can play it off as a character you're playing in the game. If shit really hits the fan, you come back next week, it's all new faces and your previous embarrassment is now forgotten. You can go alone or with a friend if you have one. You have have a beer to ease up a little bit. or don't and it still feels welcoming.


As someone who pulls of 'genuinely-don't-give-a-damn' reasonably only works if you are truly that secure. I was at my 'genuinely-don't-give-a-damn' when I had a job that everyone recognized as prestigious and a really attractive partner who I was in a happy relationship with. You can try to fake it, but to the best ones, it comes as a result of high-base permanent external validation. Similarly, I can only pull it of in a circle of people with whom I've built a ton of good will. If you behave like that in front of strangers, that's just being an asshole.

small lies just social glue

A lie is what you make of it.

Do you have a girlfriend?

You can always reply with a non-answer.

eg: I have dog, and she loves me, does that count? or reply with some apocryphal phrase like "sab moh maya hai" (translated - all attachment is an illusion). Hey! maybe buy me a drink before

You can always reply with a question.

eg: why are you so curious ? What do you think ?

Or an absurd claim that is so blatantly obvious, that is comes across as a joke.

eg: yeah you won't know her, she goes to another school. (or if you are tall), I tried, but women just refuse to date men above 6 feet tall.

(there are far better advanced flirting techniques where you can throw it back at them, but that that's too dating specific, and likely too advanced at your current level)

You don't need to lie. I never lie. EVER. But, that doesn't mean you have to answer with the truth. I used the example you gave, but it applies to all scenarios. Didn't want to be preaching, but took me a few years to learn some of these things. So might as well pass it on.

eloquent speakers

Good thing is, this is a learned skill. I started off as a freshman who was the university's laughing stock for forgetting my lines and reading them off my hands on stage. Now I meet people who are annoyed when I tell them I work on the backend and not as an MBA consultant. One step at a time.

I think it's fine to lie about things that shouldn't matter, but it's funny to think what the opposite sex might consider to be in that category. If it were socially acceptable, instead of asking a girl, "Do you have a boyfriend?" a man might ask, "How many boyfriends have you had?" When you interrogate the ends of the bell curve, it seems that women want men that other women want, and men want women that are chaste (but not for them).

So, I think you should lie, but I'm not unaware that, if I want to be consistent, I have to be okay with women lying about analogous things.

yes, you will have to lie for those conversations, or say stuff like "only pain will come out of this discussion, I don't want to know your past, and you don't want to know mine". Also increase your SMV so that no one would actually expect you to be a virgin. Go to the gym, get good clothes, haircut, etc. etc.


Her: "Do you have a girlfriend?"

You: "well, it kind of depends on your definition... but I don't kiss-and-tell smirk "

You haven't exactly said you did or didn't have a girlfriend, and now you're letting her imagine wild scenarios on her own. Mystery is always more useful than just saying the truth.

Trying to pull things similar to your example was the cause of some of the most cringe-worthy gaffes in my life, but I see merit in this approach. At least in the workplace or such I think I could get away with coming up with a formulaic joke that implies that the question is unprofessional and out of place, then try to move the conversation elsewhere without waiting for a reply.

ah, true, having high SMV does seem to reduce the cringe factor of all your comments, there is no real escape from the "step 1: be attractive, step 2: don't be unattractive" meme. There's no real solution apart from going to the gym.

The good news is, guys can change their attractiveness far more effectively than women.

Good skin care, grooming and fitness will get you a +2 in points from wherever you are. Add a +1 by catering to a care that has a positive bias towards you. (very lucky if you are white, but staying within your race irrespective of which you are, helps). A 4/10 won't become a 10, but they can become a 7/10. Not too bad.

You gotta work with what you've got, but it is one's first responsibility to make as much progress on Rule #1 and #2 as your constitution will allow.

Is it worth investing in high quality running shoes?

The Internet seems to be broadly aligned that running shoes need to be replaced somewhere between 350-500 miles, which can add up for those who run 10+ miles a week. My personal experience tracks this paradigm--even at 350 miles, a well-reviewed pair of shoes have insoles that look beat up, and maybe this is confirmation bias, but running feels more effortful and even painful compared to immediately switching to a new pair.

On the other hand, there's the poverty tax example about how a rich man buys an expensive pair of boots that last 10 years, and a poor man has to buy a new pair of cheap boots every year, and in the end the rich man actually spends less money.

Ideally I'd like to buy expensive but high-quality shoes that in the long term saves money because they get more mileage per dollar. But do such running shoes exist? I've bought and run in Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Reebok, etc. ranging from $35 to $150, and haven't had particular luck yet for something that seems "investment grade".

Thoughts welcome and appreciated.

On the other hand, there's the poverty tax example about how a rich man buys an expensive pair of boots that last 10 years, and a poor man has to buy a new pair of cheap boots every year, and in the end the rich man actually spends less money.

I've always found this claim hilarious. There is an element of truth that the cheapest options are sometimes not cost effective, but if you look at cars, the total cost of ownership is pretty clearly lower for a Toyota than a BMW.

I've owned lots of boots and running shoes in my life and would solidly recommend options in the middle: the really fast Nike carbon-plated shoes are known to break easily (as it turns out, they sacrifice durability for weight and speed), and I wouldn't recommend the cheapest shoe on AliExpress either. But a normal model from a reputable brand might make 5-600 miles if you are gentle with them.

But a normal model from a reputable brand might make 5-600 miles if you are gentle with them.

Absolutely, this is not from any scientific data, but trying to optimize for weight often results in sacrificing a lot of material. Material which provides important structure and support for the shoe.

I’d personally suggest Nike Winflo 4. I had a pair for 4 years and they are yet to fail on me. >>>600km of causal walking, trashing it in water, mud, you name it, I’ve stepped on it.

Spending more money on running shoes gets you more comfort and support, not durability. It may actually get you less durability because that support will generally wear out a lot faster than the soles. Still worth it to me but ymmv.

Are you racing competitively? If not, I'd say buy cheapest shoes that feel comfortable to you.

I spent about £150 on running shoes. Then, when they wore out I spent £15 on another pair. I can't tell the difference when I'm running in them.

The Grimes boot theory may have made sense in the age of leather boots with no synthetics, but these days, I think technology has shrunk the gap between expensive and cheap shoes. You'd be paying for a label.

do such running shoes exist?

No; by God, I'm going to out myself as a nut. Running shoes are a huge industrial grift to sell you cheap crap that doesn't work because a few kenyans can use heel striking to break a 2 hour marathon or something. I swear to God, heel striking is a learned bad habit perpetuated by technology that makes zero damn sense. Think about it, by striking your heel against the ground first while running you are placing all of the force of your stride onto bone. And not just that, but your ankle, designed specifically to naturally spring with your foot arch and Achilles, does nothing. Your knee? Nothing. Your hips? nothing. You get straight force all the way up your leg, into your hip socket, and forcing your back to take a bunch of the force (back pain, runners?). I recommend Knowing Better's incredible video on the topic, but I've held this opinion for nearly a decade and have always stood behind my stride.

The biomechanically safe strike is on the ball of your foot. The arch flexes, the ankle bends, the knee reciprocates, and the hip bounces. This protects your spinal column from inadvertent force by dispelling the force in the body parts designed to bleed this energy first. Technically this is the "less efficient" stride because you aren't able to take as large strides and a significant portion of your energy is spent stabilizing the bounce (trust me I'm not particularly fast long distance) but what you lose in mechanical stability you gain in physical safety. I've been a runner for well over a decade and I have suffered a total of 3 injuries, all of which were shin splints and all of which were minor issues. I've competed in half iron mans, countless 5ks and 10ks, and ran varsity for track in high school. All of this was done on the balls of my feet, and I will remain on my toes because of my track record (pun not intended).

I personally think the bioneer does a good job explaining the benefits of and how to participate in toe running here. Ditch running shoes entirely and embrace the toe strike you'll save thousands of dollars on shoes and medical bills in the long run (What the hell is with these puns today?). Let me know if you have any specific questions regarding the technique, I'm modestly more qualified than most on the topic and have some war stories that can be helpful, lol.

Curious what kind of shoe you’d recommend running in? I do strike on the forefoot but I think I put a lot of stress on the ankle.

My issue is that I tend to get tenderness and pain around the outer edge of my ankles around the bone after running regularly for a while. My weeks are usually 10-15 miles right now, but I can get up to 30-40 in the summer.

Shoot, I completely forgot to reply, Got a little tied up this week. Better late than never, lol, sorry for that. Anyway...

Especially for ball strike, shoes don't really matter. Most cushioning in any cushioned shoes is going to be under the heel, so for the forefoot strike any plain shoe should be fine. Really, what you want is to strengthen the reverse motion of the strike. This is something that Ben Patrick generally advocates for as a restorative process for joints. When our feet strike the way you or I do our ankles take a bunch of force, less than a heel runner but still pulling some Gs. Doing some strength training like elevated calf raises or band presses with your toes would probably help a bit.

Also getting wider toe space in your toes would likely help with stability and prevent ankle rolling, which might be exacerbating the ankle issue. Most any "barefoot" shoes would help, you want a wide toe compartment so your toes can splay out and start grabbing the ground a bit more. Do some research, I don't own any but have been looking at getting a pair at some point for lifting and trail running. That's my general advice, not a physician so take it with a grain of salt and maybe consult someone with PT knowledge. Hope you get the pain figured out, never fun to have that type of overuse discomfort. :)

Go to a running store that can analyze your running form, and they can recommend a shoe specifically for your running body mechanics. Some people strike with the outside of their feet, some hit the road with a more neutral form. Some are midfoot strikers, vs striking on the balls of your feet or your heel. Get a shoe that compliments your running style.

Also, when shopping for running shoes I've found that some shoes can fit well around my toes and on the sole of my foot, but felt a bit loose around my ankles. Learning how to tie a heel-lock with the shoe's laces has worked really well to correct this one particular problem I've found with shopping for the right shoe.

Has anyone had good experience with meditation to help with noise? I feel like I go through phases of whether it bothers me or not. I went through a long period where I could just ignore ambient noise, and then I had a nightmare apartment experience that really got in my head. It's the bass, you know, bass travels so far even if you can't properly hear the song. I'm not in that apartment any more but sometimes I'll still be bothered by ambient noise outside.

The funny thing is that I'm bothered by ambient noise even when there isn't any. Like I swear I'll hear this repetitive bass beat, just on the edge of hearing, and I'll toss and turn, but when I go outside to check it's quiet. I've dreamt about bothersome TV sounds or music so loud that it wakes me up, except there's no real source for it. Sometimes the white noise I use to mask ambient noise seems like it makes it worse because it makes me imagine noise that isn't actually there. I would love to get back to the place where I just ignore it and it doesn't affect my consciousness or my mood at all. Curious if anyone had a suggestion.

if anything hardcore meditation made me way more sensitive to noise, especially after retreats or very long sessions. It's just that it also gave me the tools to be okay with discomfort, so it's kind of 50-50 here.

Have you tried using binaural beats? When I listen to them for a couple minutes and then stop, my head becomes completely quiet with no more phantom noises or ears ringing.

I use a cheap white noise player, and I noticed that sometimes I was hearing weird ringing noises which I assumed was because of some echo effect. Recently I put it in a cardboard box and I haven't noticed that since, presumably because of dampening or something like that.

I also constantly listen to podcasts or music on my phone speakers (headphones bother me), whether I'm dealing with surrounding noise or not, and in the mild environment I'm in that gets me through distractions.

I have meditated but I find it's tricky to kind of "let go" of things. Stuff can come up in meditation and sessions can be challenging so I tend to think the quieter the better. Instead I think having some at home workout tool like a pull up bar may be better to get you out of your head.

I (probably) have ADD and I've been taking dextroamphetamine for it for a year now. It works well for me: my only complaint is that when I take a day off of it (which I do once a week to try to stave off desensitization) I get very irritable and snap at people. However my provider is concerned about my blood pressure, which has stayed decently high over the last year. I've tried exercise and losing weight, but it's still high. I know that high blood pressure will kill you eventually (if not your heart, then your kidneys) and have been trying hard to get it lower to no avail.

So she prescribed me bupropion instead. It's a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) used for depression and anxiety but often used off-label for ADHD. She indicated that since it's not a stimulant it will probably have less of an effect on my blood pressure.

So far I've only been on it 4 days, and it's supposed to take 2-4 weeks to really kick in. It's been okay so far: I've been taking a smaller dose of dextroamphetamine along with it to get by until it kicks in. So far I've been less productive at work and more distractible than when I'm taking dextroamphetamine, but I'm also not getting irritable. And while I'm less focused I also seem to have an easier time getting mundane tasks done. Usually when I'm not medicated I despise cleaning, yet the past few nights it hasn't been a problem. Heck, I had a bit of free time earlier than usual and decided to get a head start on my nightly cleaning chores instead of reading a book or playing a video game, which is definitely unusual.

I also seem to have some emotional instability or magnification: I was watching Peter Pan with my kids and when the pirates had Wendy walk the plank I suddenly got choked up and teary eyed. Very unusual, normally I am emotionally detached from fictional works.

Anybody have experience with bupropion?

What about adding intuniv, a combo anxiety/adhd/blood pressure medication, to dex? I love the combo.

Do you love it because you have experience with it and it works, or because it's theoretically the perfect solution? I may have to suggest it to my provider.

Both. I've tried five or ten anti anxiety meds - SSRI, Buspar, lavender, SNRI - and it's the only one that I like. Everything else made me spacy or depressed or sleepy.

I also like that it's easy/fast to titrate on/off. A few days should be enough to know if you like it. It should also be cheap and unlikely to raise flags.

Like everything else ever, may not be great for your appetite or dick.

My experience with Bupropion was that it just didn't work :(

It was prescribed to me for depression, though I do have ADHD myself, but it frankly had no effects or side effects I could glean from a year of use.

Thanks for the feedback! I will keep that in mind: if it doesn't seem to be doing anything after a couple months, consider that it might never do anything.

I'm curious about your experience with dextroamphetamine in regards to appetite. Besides attention disorders it's sometimes prescribed for binge eating and seems to work well. I once took a (possibly too large) dose of it and sure enough I felt no desire to eat anything for the whole day, along with feeling a bit jittery. You mention trying to lose weight so is it not working in that way for you? Or if it does to a small extent, are you expecting to gain weight after going off of it?

Dextroamphetamine does reduce my appetite. When I first started taking it I had some hopes that I would just start losing weight, but that didn't happen. Appetite or no, I enjoy eating too much. However it has been helpful in making dieting easier than it normally would. I've had a concentrated campaign of trying to lose weight for 7 months now and I've managed to lose about 20 pounds. Skipping breakfast, not eating any sweets or fast food, small lunches, vaguely counting calories, that sort of thing. Even with dextroamphetamine it has been difficult to do.

I was a bit worried switching to bupropion would sabotage my weight loss efforts, but apparently suppressing appetite is a known side effect. Supposedly dextroamphetamine works by stimulating the release of dopamine, and bupropion is supposed to lower the rate dopamine is removed from the brain, so I guess it makes sense they have similar effects there.