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Wellness Wednesday for November 1, 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.

Apropos of nothing, I started wearing boxer briefs with a long (six inch) inseam this year. They're actually fantastic especially for long work days where ordinary boxers start rolling up my thighs and becoming incredibly uncomfortable. I recommended them to a friend and he also really likes them. I just got cheap ones off Amazon but they do a great job.

Boxer briefs are the MVP of underwear as far as I'm concerned. I think back to the bunching up boxers I wore in my teens with no small amount of wincing.

as a tighty-whitey guy, I've always wondered if boxers roll up your thighs.

I'm surprised they they are more popular than briefs / boxer-briefs in the first place.

Base building for my Alaskan journey is going...okay. Still disappointingly unfit; my 5-minute power is a puny 200 watts at a body weight of 70 kilos. I can deadlift 275 and squat 245, though, so I have that going for me. Plan to get a used bike trainer and a rear wheel for it so I can do 1-2 hour steady distance rides. Hiking up mountains, too, on weekends...that should help build base fitness as well. Shit is boring and requires discipline. Valuable life lessons here. Seems like any badass shit runs off of a long-ass logistics tail to support the teeth. Lots of unglamorous prep work and grinding away at either low intensity stuff like 45 minute slow runs at a turtle-like 15 minute mile pace or figuring out how to line ski mountaineering boots that are three sizes too large with insulation both inside and out so I don't get frostbite. I could be deluding myself here, but I feel like I'm becoming a better or at least more capable person as a result of this training process. It at least seems cool. This whole Alaska crap might be dumb as all hell, but at least I'll be a fit dumbass...

Is this the "Hock" I've been hearing about for years? I have not been able to get anyone to explain to me what it is.

I don't know how that's possible, since he brings it up several times per week, but yes, this is the hock he's talking about.

I hadn't seen it discussed here, just on Discord.

my 5-minute power is a puny 200 watts at a body weight of 70 kilos. I can deadlift 275 and squat 245, though

as it turns out, youtube has warped what is realistically feasible for men

YouTube my left foot: there's a boatload of local cyclists that can hand me my ass on any given hill without even trying all that hard.

I know several guys putting out half again that much power IRL. Not hard to find - just find your local cycling group; the strongest riders will be at that level. Just like finding a guy that can deadlift 500 pounds isn't terribly hard - just hang out at your nearest commercial gym for a month or two. Six that's getting up there.

Hey if you're enjoying the journey, that’s great, most important thing. That’s one of your problems imo, you’re too focussed on the goal, whether it be in alaska or between the legs of a woman. Your other problem is that you have a completely distorted view of your chances, which makes a dangerous voyage that much more dangerous.

Your other problem is that you have a completely distorted view of your chances

Too optimistic about my survival chances, or too pessimistic? I think that my chances of being in a relationship with an average American woman are roughly equal to those of surviving the Hock.

Your chances of being in a relationship with an average american woman. But forget about that, it’s been discussed too much already, it’s just that I don’t trust your other evaluations as a result.

Is your plan still to parachute in the middle of alaska with just a knife? Is there any way I can convince you to adopt a less suicidal plan? You can perform a great feat without a great death risk. I feel like you’re going to splatter and it will be a millionth my fault because I didn’t suggest you build a cabin or do an iron man or something instead. I’m sure if we get our heads together we can find a better bucket list item for you to cross, one that isn't the last.

Is your plan still to parachute in the middle of alaska with just a knife?

No, it's to attempt a cross country trip across the Brooks Range with a shit ton of gear.

Still sounds suicidal, although I admittedly have no idea how realistic that is. Can you attempt a (series of) less ambitious treks first?

figuring out how to line ski mountaineering boots that are three sizes too large

"Ski mountaineering boots" can mean different things to different people, but usually they are pretty downhill oriented these days. Even older leather/hybrid things that might get called that are absolutely not what one would want if one were shuffling around the wilderness in Alaska. (Unless one planned to bag some peaks and ski down them while one was there, I guess)

Since you seem to be proposing trackless wilderness, skis are probably not a great idea at all -- snowshoes and giant Sorels (or similar) is pretty much what trappers and such have been rocking since forever in situations where skidoos won't work -- this is not because they don't know what they are doing.

The ski mountaineering boots in question are these, three sizes too large. I've added a beefy liner plus homemade sheepskin insoles scavenged from a thrift-store coat. I'll be knitting some...outer liner linings? to take up even more of the volume. I should be left with a boot that is much warmer than stock, slightly sloppy (I know, not great for ski performance, but many explorers use cross country skiing gear and this should be burlier and safer than XC gear) and theoretically usable for my Alaskan adventure. People climb and ski on Denali with setups like this or lighter; the 'using oversize boots and stuffing them' is a not terribly recommended technique that should be at least theoretically usable. The Scarpa Nero liners I bought for $50 on eBay are around 5mm thicker than the stock liners. Size 9 shoes are 25mm shorter than size 12 ones; with this beefy liner I've already eaten up 10mm and so have 15mm to go. I'm a decent knitter and should be able to fashion a decent outer liner for my existing boot liners that'll eat up the rest of the space and keep my feet warm enough. Over the top of the boot are going to go homemade sheepskin overboots; Forty Below has some good overboots but at $250/pair they're almost as expensive as my ski boots. I think I should be able to make something serviceable.

As far as the snowshoes and Sorels: I considered it, but snowshoes are slower, I have significant downhill skiing experience as a former high school racer, and Northern peoples have been using skis for millennia.

So you're planning on cross-country skiing for much of it and then when that doesn't work, carrying skis and boots? This is a really really bad idea. I wouldn't bring anything you don't need. Snowshoes are the way to go. They're much lighter.

Also, I would strongly recommend against wearing boots that don't fit. Just find boots that are designed for the weather. They exist. There are a number of things that can wrong if your boots don't fit and the last thing you want is to not be able to walk. Don't be cheap and die. What you are planning to do is extremely dangerous and you shouldn't cut corners.

Just find boots that are designed for the weather. They exist.

There do not exist ski mountaineering boots that are designed for extreme cold, as far as I know. If my search missed something, let me know.

Why would you be wearing ski mountaineering boots? Have you done anything remotely like this before?

These are indeed what I would call ski mountaineering boots, and they are a terrible choice for flatland travel -- they are nice enough boots, but they are designed to do two things well:

  • ski up steep skin tracks
  • provide near-alpine gear downhill performance with the heels locked

They will absolutely suck for breaking trail in the woods.

You are right that skis can be faster than snowshoes in some conditions; just that 'cold dry interior forest' is not one of those conditions -- you won't be able to stay on the surface and do anything like gliding unless you luck into a melt-crust or something, you will be shuffling at roughly snowshoe pace anyways. (and your rigid boots would make this hellish, especially since they don't fit)

If you are serious about using skis for this I would not worry about your feet being cold -- you will be working hard enough that it won't be a problem, regular touring boots would be fine. You probably want to not carry extra boots for when you aren't skiing though, so something like this would be great:

I actually do something along these lines in the winter (not in Alaska) -- I've taken gear tips from this forum in the past:

That link is an interesting thread, with some actual Alaskans involved -- I do use something like the NATO skis mentioned for breaking trail around my place -- which is worth it if you are planning to revisit the trail. Otherwise unless there are significant downhill parts on your route, the snowshoes will be faster and more energy efficient. Also some interesting input from a Finnish dude -- I think you will not be able to find his 300cm 'forest skis' on ebay though. (and I'd think their utility would depend a lot on the density of the forest in question)

Wouldn't it make more sense to get a cross trainer if you're training for a hike? In my mind a heavy backpack and a basic step would offer better training if a cross trainer isn't practical. Park it in front of the TV and put on a film. Pour some ice in your boots for added realism. I cycle more than I walk and I notice that a comparatively short walk will leave my legs stiff where doing a longer distance on a bike would have no effect.

Re insulation, I'd guess you'll want multiple layers of natural fibre socks that range from tight-woven silk as a base through to merino outer socks, maybe with cashmere inbetween for extra insulation. Sounds extravagant but it beats losing your toes. Not sure that insulating the outside is wise as they'll get bulky and awkward to manoeuvre, presumably the priority there ought to be making them waterproof. I don't know anything about arctic hiking though, just working from basic principles. IIRC from watching Ray Mears the ultimate footwear for traversing ice and snow is the trad snowshoe with real fur moccasins.

Speaking of pouring ice in your boots it might be worth getting used to taking cold showers too.

Out of interest how much hiking and camping experience do you have?

I don't want to encourage more posts about the 'Hock,' but yes specificity is an important principle of training. Even an elliptical isn't optimal for training for serious hiking or mountaineering, IMO. If you have to train indoors I would say incline treadmill or StairMaster would be superior. Loaded with a vest or ruck for that matter. Actual training runs, under similar conditions and with full gear, would also be expected for someone seriously preparing for an expedition.

I hate to admit it, but I think I've read enough of these posts to gather what's being proposed is actually some sort of xcountry skiing or ski mountaineering trip. I'm not even sure where I would start for that if you don't have local ski trails open to you. I would say finding a gym with a skierg, but I'm pretty sure that simulates skate-skiing more than classic.

I cycle more than I walk and I notice that a comparatively short walk will leave my legs stiff where doing a longer distance on a bike would have no effect.

Yeah, likewise and conversely, I'm a pretty good runner, but garbage on the bike. When I trained a bit, I got better at cycling rapidly, but the baseline from being a runner really only helps to the extent that I can keep spinning with a redlining heart rate for a lot longer than someone that's untrained. My muscular fitness for cycling still sucks. Sure, you can get aerobic fitness from either one, but the sport-specific muscular power and endurance ain't gonna build itself.

Okay, this is silly, but suppose you're seated at a table like this.

You're middle-right, double-fisting your iced tea and lemon water. Your two talkative, outgoing friends are at the top. They tend to drive the conversation, so the focus is in that direction most of the time. Your two shy, reserved friends are at the bottom. How do you play this so that your quiet friends feel included in the conversation and not like they're staring at the back of your head the whole time. You'd like to slide back a bit like middle-left, but the seats on your side are bolted to the floor.

Aside: it's pretty great being able to get ai-generated images to illustrate points.

You fucked up. You gotta have the right people in the middle.

It's very considerate of you to even entertain this quandary. I am not sure if there's a physical solution short of moving people around, but the usual diverting of questions and throwing attention toward the quiet people in the way of random commentary and "What did you say that one time about..?" to refocus attention their way would be my own strategy.

You didn't ask for this next comment but quiet people are often fine being quiet and even prefer the audience role, which is of course something else that only you can gauge from the moment and the individuals involved.

The middle seat is precious real estate.

Have you ever noticed the level of jockeying that happens for a middle seat when a big group goes to a restaurant? Most of the time, the first person to come in won't go all the way to the end. Instead, they'll snag a seat directly in the middle and make people walk around them.

Being a contrarian, and convinced that my conversational abilities are not in need of artificial enhancement, I tend to take a seat at the end. I tell myself this makes me better than other people, lol.

Make snide comments about the overly social friends to your shy friends. Hopefully not mean, at least a little ribbing. The best comment would be something that is funny if the social friend hears it and mean if said behind their back all the time.

  1. If the social ones don't hear it, their fault for excluding the rest of the table. If they do hear it it can be a light reminder that the rest of the table exists.
  2. The social ones are usually extra attuned to outside conversations about themselves, they are likely to hear it and interrupt their own conversation. Most other topics will not pull them in.
  3. The shy ones are given a relevant topic to discuss that is right in front of them. It is unique to the situation. The best conversation topics are maximally inclusive with the person you are talking with and maximally exclusive with everyone else.

Or just ignore your social friends occasionally and engage in conversation with the shy ones. You can always come back to the social friends later if the shy friend conversation fizzles out. They will definitely still be talking.

How often do you spend time socially with somebody 1-1 who is not a family member or someone you’re dating? What do you do, and how do you initiate the interaction?

I realized that I basically never do this since I graduated college, and wondering what other people’s experiences are.

1-1 is about 60% of how I socialise with my friends. I like to see them all at least once a quarter but some I see more often than others.

Usually it starts with a short text message or a phone call. Sometimes we drop by each other's houses if we're in the area, sometimes we go out to a pub or restaurant, sometimes we go to the cinema or a gig together, sometimes if the weather is good we sit in the park with a beer or four. Maybe do some casual sport like golf or bowling or host a barbecue or a bonfire if we can get a group together. That kind of stuff.

About twice of week. It helps to have a standing weekly meeting to do something. Tennis or golf are great in this respect.

Once a week maybe? I go for lunch with friends. I've made conscious efforts to try to maintain a few friendships this way. One from primary school and a few from university. Occasionally we go for beers after work as well.

More than that I hang out with people in discord, frequently 1-1 (at least if you don't count people sitting with a baby nearby), for at least an hour practically every day.

Once a month ish with some longtime friends. We catch up on events that happened. Discuss some big ideas. I have a few longtime friends, I like having a once a quarter meeting with them.

Among my family half of us maintain these long term friendships and the other half dont have them. So it's not weird if you don't do this.

Does financial wellness count? Hoping to have some tax-knowledgable folks in here.

Scenario: I have 2 properties.

Property A:

  • 2.75%
  • $300k in unrealized gains
  • Renting for net $1,500 / mo, 1.5 years

Property B:

  • 3.25% ARM (5 years till doom)
  • $0-$60k in unrealized gains depending on how delusional Zillow is on a given day
  • Primary residence for 1.5 years

I plan to divest myself of both properties within the next 5 years and relocate.

I wish to avoid capital gains taxes on the appreciated value on Property A. (I don't care as much about the gains on Property B). This would be 15% of $300k, so around $42,000. From what I see, I can do this two ways:

  1. I sell the house within the next 1.5 years, according to the 2-in-5 rule.
  2. A 1031 exchange later on for another rental property

Tools at my disposal include a parent-owned lakehouse that I could nominally buy and rent, and a decent amount of liquid capital that we both can deploy (along with extremely high trust between parties, as you'd imagine).

It seems like Option 2 is going to be a big pain. I'd prefer to keep renting the house for another 3-5 years instead of 1.5, but based on cap gains that's going to be 28 months minimum of treading water. I also hate losing the cheap money of that mortgage and booting out good renters who would probably prefer to stay in the house another 1.5 years.

In contrast, my second home's rate is... not great. An ARM that is great now and won't be later.

Frank thoughts and reality checks are appreciated.

Much better with the rewrite. It seems like a somewhat complicated situation. Since you're talking about the 2 in 5 rule, this implies that property A was your primary residence in the past - for at least 24 months of the last 5 years.

So you could sell both properties, and essentially choose which one to pay cap gains on. As only one property actually has capital gains, this is no problem.

It sounds like you've already fixed on selling property B (your current home).

As to Property A, you could sell within the next 1.5 years and avoid cap gains. But you're losing a 2.75% mortgage and good renters. Personally, it sounds like you have a good setup with this property, and you should just keep it. Rent will increase over time more quickly than your costs. And with depreciation, I assume the current rent income is mostly or entirely tax free.

When your tenants move out, you can 1031 exchange and avoid paying capital gains taxes. If you're lazy you can 1031 exchange into a triple net lease. This might be better than renting out your parent's lake house. The risks of renting to unknown people are pretty high in many jurisdictions right now.

Just my 0.02.

A 1031 exchange later on for another rental property

Alternative: a Delaware Statutory Trust 1031 Exchange REIT deal-y

It's a loophole from the Patron State of tax loopholes, where through some fictitious trust system you can 1031 any amount of money into what amounts to a small REIT. You get partial ownership in one or more buildings, and you can shop around and fine one that does nothing but NNN leases to reputable corporations, or government buildings, or whatever you like. This has the advantage of being always available, so any time you sell your property you can park it there without tax consequences. I'm not super familiar with the process so don't quote me, depending on the business plan I am fairly certain that you can then re-1031 the proceeds into another property later on. So it allows you to play with your timelines a little bit.

Now, especially in today's environment, the yields are likely to be weak relative to other investments. And you do run the ever-present management risk with REITs. But you can select DSTs that have no leverage, which mitigates risk significantly. And your money is locked up, depending on the business plan of the trust, for some period of time in a low yield investment; though it sounds like you have the liquidity on hand to avoid that being a problem.

I've never used one personally, but I've looked into them in the past and keep up with them in case it does come up for me.


Very cool option man. Exactly the sort of stuff I'm looking for.

I'm a bit confused since your "first" property is your rental home, and your "second" property is your primary residence.

Can you rewrite for clarity, perhaps labeling your primary residence as A, and your investment property as B, and then spelling out the mortgage rates and unrealized capital gains in each property?


I moved to the US a few months ago when I married my American wife. Now that plans for 2024 have been revealed, we have to choose one because she works for a temp agency that does not offer an ACA-compliant plan. Because our income is low enough, we'll apparently get about $500/mo in premium tax subsidies.

As a former Canadian whose experience with healthcare has always been to swipe a government health card and never see a bill (except indirectly as it came out of taxes), choosing an American healthcare plan is really daunting. My wife knows perhaps even less about it, since she's always been on her parents' plan until just recently.

The thing is, she's also pregnant (due in June), and her temp agency contract ends next August. After her contract ends, she'll likely get a normal job with proper employer-offered insurance. But until then, since pregnancy and its associated costs are very expensive, doesn't it make sense to get a plan with the lowest deductible possible, since it's almost guaranteed we're going to use $10k+ in healthcare in 2024 due to pregnancy and delivery?

It feels a little bit like cheating to know my healthcare costs will be high and then choose a low-deductible plan. How do they allow this? This is like getting home insurance knowing your home will suffer fire damage in the next year. It makes no sense for the insurer! But if those are the rules...

On the other end, high-deductible plans are confusing. I pay a premium and I have to pay the entire cost up until the out-of-pocket max of, say, $15,000? What am I even paying for then? Just hedging against the small possibility that I'll be charged $100k+ in some fluke accident? If so, then why are they even involved in quotidian care like doctor's visits and bloodwork? Why wouldn't they just keep premiums to a minimum and cover only catastrophic care?

I'm sure I'll get the hang of this, and I'm even inclined to prefer the American system over the Canadian one, but... gosh, I feel like I've been dropped into the middle of a game and have to figure out the rules and the "meta" in very quick order.

Yes, get the gold plan which costs more per month. If you KNOW you have expenses this is obvious right?

On the other end, high-deductible plans are confusing. I pay a premium and I have to pay the entire cost up until the out-of-pocket max of, say, $15,000? What am I even paying for then?

You are paying for the people (like yourself) who cherry pick a gold plan when they need health care. Sadly, Obamacare made cheap insurance illegal.

The answer to all questions is probably "regulation".

The government broke the healthcare system many years ago by encouraging employers to offer healthcare plans. Since that time it has been trying to paper over and fix all the problems this has caused. It often causes new problems with the fixes, so they adjust it again.

On the other end, high-deductible plans are confusing. I pay a premium and I have to pay the entire cost up until the out-of-pocket max of, say, $15,000? What am I even paying for then? Just hedging against the small possibility that I'll be charged $100k+ in some fluke accident?

from my limited understanding of insane USA health system: an ambulance ride alone may cost outrageous amounts of money. Now imagine case where you are actually requiring surgery. It is not necessary to need face transplant to get 15 0000+ costs.

My HR could probably identify which employees are trying for a baby based on who goes onto the low deductible plan every year. The elimination of pre-existing conditions is part of the reason why health insurance cost has gone up since the ACA. You aren't really exploiting anything, it's priced into the market already.

Yes, if you know you are going to deliver you should get as premium a plan as you can pretty much. If you need help with the calculations shoot me a message, I work in health insurance.

And yes, it's antiselection, and yes, the ACA kinda allows it, something something risk adjustment makes people whole something something.

Does anybody have tips on interesting stuff to read in French? Fiction, non-fiction, articles, books, blogs, anything goes.

I've always been interested in languages and enjoyed studying them, but I've never had quite the discipline to commit to one and learn it to a high level. Now I want to just commit to one language for a while and learn it properly. Because I already have some basic knowledge of French and I have a trip to France planned coming spring, I figured French would be the best candidate to start with. Just looking to get some more sources of input.

Dover's dual-language books are a good way to start reading short passages from classic works and if you like Game of Thrones you could check out Les Rois maudits, the (completed!) historical novel series that inspired it.

I find the novels of Antoine Laurain quite charming, and I'm sure they'd only be more so in the original French.

Les Miserables is a French original, right?

The Three Musketeers and its sequels

One of my Wife's best friends passed away this last weekend, she was 8 months pregnant, her baby boy was lost as well. She had a 3 year old daughter and husband that survived her. It originally sounded like it might have been a pregnancy complication, but some news stories I found through sleuthing suggest it was a fatal car crash.

It has been rough on my Wife processing it all. She cried the whole night when she found out. And since then I've found her sobbing in the middle of the day as some errant thought or piece of news reminds her of it all.

I knew the woman that passed away. Hung out with her a dozen times. She was in our wedding party. We went to her wedding. She was nice, a bit of a boring conversation partner, but a good friend to my wife.

I feel ... almost nothing. The only time I shed tears was when I had some particularly vivid imagery of this scenario occurring to me. Selfish tears. I do feel a little sad for my wife going through this all, but that is the extent of my emotion.

When my grandfather passed away a month or two ago, I also felt very little, I thought it was cuz his death wasn't very tragic (he was 90 and lived a very long happy life).

Is this normal? I've noticed plenty of guys around me can also be a bit unbothered by death, while most women seem to be physically pained when hearing the circumstances.

I've been hit with different levels of grief depending on how close to the person I was. Also, the manner of their death.

I had a close friend take his own life when we were both around the age of 30. That hit me pretty hard, possibly because it was the first time I was confronted with death and I was the one who found his body.

After that, death hasn't really affected me as much, even for immediate family members.

So yeah, its horses for courses. I find the best thing is to show reverence for the deceased, even if you don't really care. Besides being socially appropriate, it can help others through their grief.

I find the best thing is to show reverence for the deceased, even if you don't really care. Besides being socially appropriate, it can help others through their grief.

This is generally what I do, I've just been doing it for so long, and people around me do it too, that I'm not really sure how anyone really feels. Which is why I asked here.

There's been a few situations after a death, where I've been having a quiet drink with someone I trust who doesn't seem to be grieving. I'd say something like 'you know, this hasn't really hit me much. How about you?'. I've had replies like 'Yeah, I'm not sad really at all'. Or 'Yeah it sucks, but they had a good life so I'm not really upset about it to be honest.'

You just need to be careful about how you probe people about this kind of thing, but you can get some really honest replies from people that ground the whole experience. For people who haven't experienced deaths of people in their lives it can seem like this really big thing that you need to walk on eggshells around, but after a few deaths you realise that its just another life event like a wedding, or a birth. At least if it wasn't something really tragic like suicide, murder, or the death of a child.

I don't really expect death to hit me hard any more unless its my wife or child.

I don't really expect death to hit me hard any more unless its my wife or child.

I feel a bit the same. My parents and siblings would probably hit me hard, as well as a few close friends and neighbors.

Surprisingly SSCReader went through that and seems like they came out ... not great, but not ruined either.

I guess people get through stuff.

I've dealt with clinical depression most of my life, and the weirdest thing to explain to other people is that it seems worse when I should be happy. Its when something terrible happens that it almost fits better.

I've dealt with clinical depression most of my life, and the weirdest thing to explain to other people is that it seems worse when I should be happy. Its when something terrible happens that it almost fits better.

Yeah, I've been through periods of acute depression in my life. I can see how you would have people around in the depths of grief, but for you it was Tuesday.

I've never been made particularly upset by any of the people I've known who died, but I wasn't very close to any of them. I'd probably feel differently if it were an immediate family member or close friend, but I can't imagine sobbing all night over it. I doubt I would cry at all. I think some people are just much more emotional than others. It's hard for me to imagine what could happen that would make me cry for more than a few minutes. I just can't imagine being that sad or having that reaction to being very sad. But I know people who cry at movies or when people they never even met died.

Men are largely far more stoic than women, it's a stereotype because it's true.

I pride myself on being quite stoic myself, not that the thought of my family or my dogs passing away doesn't fill me with premature grief. Well, at least it helps me make the most of our time together, until we can finally banish aging and death to the same hell as smallpox.

Much like you, if it's a person I'm not particularly familiar with, it doesn't bother me all that much, and that's a good thing, a surfeit of empathy is a liability for doctors, and we usually learn to compartmentalize pretty quick.

I've only cried once for a "patient", I had never met the man before, and he was already dead and cooling by the time I discovered him on my morning ward round, left to slowly decay on a floor with the flies and cockroaches. It was only the wailing of his daughter when I broke the news that made me cry, and I was fundamentally unsupported by anyone, including my colleagues or seniors, and while that rankled at the time, I've never cried for a patient since, even if I've pitied many.

Death is terrible, but since my day job is preventing it as long as possible, I can't say I'm not helping, and weeping and wailing doesn't by itself. At least nobody I really love has passed away since my grandma two decades back, and even then I was too young to really process things. I think I'm going to breakdown if my elderly German Shepherd passes, as much as I don't give a shit about the rights of animals, dogs have a soft spot in my heart, especially my own.

I was fundamentally unsupported by anyone, including my colleagues or seniors

Medicine in America seems to work a little differently; when tough shit goes down people are at least a little supportive. This goes double triple quadruple on the pediatric oncology unit.

I think it would have been different if I was a girl, not that I can tell for sure! Then again, that would have made my life hell if I was one under the sadistic female gyne postgrad trainees lol. Couldn't find a bigger assortment of bitches at the Kennel Club..

At any rate, I'm only slightly bitter about it, they told me to toughen up, and toughen up I did. Not to mention I was responsible for a COVID ICU during the height of the pandemic here, watching people die slow painful deaths is only troubling in passing unless it's someone I love.

Tears are no substitute for normal saline.

I've always been somewhat stoic (I've been called a soulless automaton and an emotionless sociopath at different times by different people), but I think this would be normal for me as well. The only times I have ever cried as an adult that I can recall was losing my infant son, and losing my wife (at different times, just to be clear). One was sudden and unexpected, the other was after a long slow battle with cancer. An acquaintance is unlikely to get more than a passing feeling of sadness. Though of course my wife's feelings would be more of what I would focus on helping with in your case.

Having said that, while both of those losses made me heartbroken, it didn't particularly last, I never fell into a depression. I don't think I have ever been depressed, no matter how bad things get. You have to move on, no matter how bad things were, things will get better. And I did find my (innate?) optimism did get some odd reactions from people who expected me to be depressed for months or more perhaps. I cried on and off for maybe a day or two, then very sporadically when something reminded me of the loss for another few weeks. In both cases though I was supporting other people, my wife or my other kids as well as dealing with all the practicalities, so there was a limit to how much falling apart I could allow myself.

I do have very distinct memories, of thinking to myself, ok, time to put a lid on this, it hurts, but there is nothing to be done except to deal with what needs to be dealt with and get through it.

Friends don't understand how man not depressed

I'm kind of the same though. I don't I'm think I'm really capable of depression, at least not in the way some people around me are.

This sounds normal to me. What upsets me viscerally is somewhat unpredictable, but the best predictor does seem to be the "selfish tears" aspect that you describe above. When I think about the incident you describe, I have the strongest sense of empathy for the husband, alone without his partner and grieving, trying to raise his child with the memory of his wife. In that, I see that what really upsets me is considering the possibility of losing my own wife. This is obviously a failure of empathy towards other people related to the story, but it ultimately is my sincere reaction.

I recently went back to listen to MartyrMade's Fear and Loathing in New Jerusalem to refresh myself on his perspective of the history of the conflict in the Levant. The opening is a dramatic telling of a pogrom from the perspective of a husband trying to shield his family from the situation, with the common refrain, "what would you do?". I find the whole thing pretty harrowing, and I think it's precisely because bringing this scene to life from the perspective of the man of the house makes it much more vivid for me than viewed from any other angle.

When it comes to the death of people whose time had come from old age, I generally lack any sense of grief, even for people that I care deeply about. When an octogenarian dies, it just isn't sad to me. I think of the good times I had with them, of their accomplishments and contribution to the world, and I want to celebrate what was bright about them, but I don't feel grief. I suspect that this difference from others contributed to my confusion at why other people cared about Covid so much more than I did.

I recently went back to listen to MartyrMade's Fear and Loathing in New Jerusalem to refresh myself on his perspective of the history of the conflict in the Levant. The opening is a dramatic telling of a pogrom from the perspective of a husband trying to shield his family from the situation, with the common refrain, "what would you do?". I find the whole thing pretty harrowing, and I think it's precisely because bringing this scene to life from the perspective of the man of the house makes it much more vivid for me than viewed from any other angle.

I remember that sequence vividly. I also remember thinking, as I pulled weeds and listened, "This is very much a man's perspective." At one point he asks the listener to imagine regaining consciousness only to see your wife, in the middle of terrible victimization, still looking at you as though she believes you can save her. This kind of anguish is something I'd expect to feel for my children, but honestly much less so for my husband.

It's common to decry depictions of women's victimization that focus on the man's feelings about the whole thing rather than the woman's suffering. See the popular discourse about "fridging" and "stuffing women into the refrigerator." I wish that we instead gave men credit for their commendable protective instinct. It's one of my favorite things about them.

This makes me remember how I had an epiphany recently about the different nature of horror for men and women when watching Rosemary's Baby. Watching it, it became clear to me that it was written to be horror for women: the terrifying part is not the satanism and all that, it's the main character not being believed, having her concerns dismissed and ignored.

Then, thinking about what is horror distinctly for men, it was clear and obvious: watching helpless while watching loved ones suffer/die. With emphasis on the helplessness. I think this is why descriptions like that sequence you and Walterodim mention affect men so strongly. Helplessness is the central nerve of horror in men, and failure to protect loved ones is its strongest stimuli.

In the marathon spirit set by @MotteThrowaway789 below, I am currently toying with the possibility of signing up for an early December marathon. I'm an experienced runner and coming up on 2000 miles for the year, so the basic fitness portion of just running a marathon is pretty much always there, but I haven't been explicitly training for marathons and have only run 20 miles once this year. On the flip side, my fitness is very good right now, with a couple solid general purpose training months under me. I was kind of planning on just treating the rest of the year as base training to get ready for next season, but now that I've got a friend that's doing the half at the December race, I'm sorely tempted to join and go for the full. This calls for an afternoon long run today to see where I'm at and assess how bad of an idea that is.

If you've recently (last ~3 months) completed a 20-mile run in a respectable time, you have essentially all the training you need to complete a marathon. I think you've nothing to lose by doing so, I would go for it.

Why does Halloween candy taste terrible? I have a jar of M&Ms from Costco that I use as "Miniature Motivators" to reward the kids for the more frustrating parts of homework. They taste fine, in fact I need to be careful that I don't run out of Miniature Motivators before they make it to the kids (if you know what I mean.)

I tried to do the annual adult auditing of Halloween candy last night and the M&Ms tasted like cardboard drenched in puke. The other candy was also terrible, but I was able to compare the quality of M&Ms more directly because that's the only candy regularly in the house.

(What do you mean this isn't a Wellness Wednesday topic? Candy is health-related, right?)

Depending where you got it, if it wasn't stored properly en route and melted/recongealed, chocolate tends to lose its texture and all its more delicate flavor.

I've noticed this happen more with the cheap BIG BAGS O' CANDY purchased for holidays than with grocery store candy.

Perhaps it's like black Friday models of TVs and they produce cheaper, lower quality candy for the season knowing people will be buying a ton.

I kind of doubt it though. Most of these kinds of candies I liked as a kid taste awful and cheap to me now as an adult so I think it's more likely a matter of taste.

Update on my marathon. I met my target, completing it in 3:59:12, less than a minute shy of my target of 4 hours. Somehow didn't even notice when my nipples started gushing blood. Legs are still in bits three days later.

My sincere thanks to everyone who donated to my fundraiser, I really appreciate it.

Congrats! Every marathon is tough, even with experience. Did you run fairly clean splits to hit the goal, or was that with some tailing off?

Somehow didn't even notice when my nipples started gushing blood.

Did you use Body Glide? I chafe everywhere without it.

I only found out the morning of that there'd be pacers running, and a few minutes before the start, my plan was to try a maintain a consistent distance ahead of one of the 4:00 pacers. But I got separated from those pacers just a few minutes after the start of the race and never saw them again for the duration. For the first 5k I was worried about expending my strength too quickly, so I was making a conscious effort to run below my "natural" pace. But thereafter I decided to just wing it and run at whatever pace felt natural to me.

I've never heard of Body Glide but I'll bear that in mind if there's a next time.

I just ~successfully talked my schizophrenic estranged best friend out of killing himself, or at least stopped him midway through the process. I suppose my involvement is a mixed bag, because I was the one who initially diagnosed him as a schizo and sent him to a shrink, which is why he he had antipsychotics at hand alongside benzos and SSRIs. Eh, you can't win them all.

It would be exceedingly rude of me to bill him for the services, so I'm going to go home and take a well deserved nap before I have to go back to work.

At least I know I'll be a good (licensed) psychiatrist, they call on me everytime someone with some kind of psychiatric comorbidity acts up and I get them calm and compliant in minutes 🙏

One of my good friends from college has a brother that is schizo in the US. They are at their wits end dealing with him. They are Indian and have been considering flying him to India and having him committed to an institution there. For various reasons it is mostly impossible to permanently involuntarily commit a person to a mental institute in the united states.

It does seem like one of the worst possible mental disorders to have. One of my Dad's best friends (lets call him Mark) had a son that was schizo. Mark was stabbed on two different occasions by his son, before his son eventually committed suicide. I have a cousin (Adam) who is potentially schizo, and has become very religious. I yelled at my Dad, cuz my Dad was talking with Adam and dropped that I'm an Atheist. Like do you want me to get stabbed Dad?

Anyways, good job, and best of luck in that line of work.

Thank you!

Schizophrenia is an exceptionally shitty illness, especially since it has no outright cure and you can only try to contain disease progression. It takes about 25 years off your life on average from the combination of meds and poor life decisions.

The meds are often terrible to be on too, they just beat having uncontrolled schizophrenia.

I yelled at my Dad, cuz my Dad was talking with Adam and dropped that I'm an Atheist. Like do you want me to get stabbed Dad?

Atheists truly are the most persecuted minority, about tied with Gamers 🙏. I'm glad you didn't get stabbed, and while my friend isn't normally violent, who knows what the fuck can happen during an episode. Assuming I have the luxury of choosing a specialization in psych, I'm going the ADHD route, the biggest headache the doctors have is teen pregnancy and poor compliance with meds haha.

I watched him take out like 40 pills, 10 of them each would be dangerous, and I have no idea what I could have done if he'd taken them all before I could stop him, short of forcing him to puke and giving CPR 👀

The part where he threatened to go for the knife was the worst, though I didn't think he would actually stab me. God knows he's as thin as a beanstalk, so I'd take my odds in a fight.

Like the worst part was when I initially assumed he'd already ODd and was waiting for the ambulance, and he excused himself to drink water. Imagine my reaction when I noticed he wasn't back in 10 minutes and when I went to find him, he's busy making that cocktail for himself. When he gets better I'm going to whoop his ass myself for putting me through this 🙏

Do you know if anyone's around to watch him at the moment, like a family member or another friend? It's probably incredibly impractical for you to do so (and it's not really your sole responsibility), but it definitely doesn't sound like a good time for him to be left alone. After someone tries to make a death cocktail for themselves and threatens to use a knife when prevented, suicide watch seems like a perfectly reasonable measure.

Oh I left him with plenty of company, more than he'd like for sure.

I made sure I was there until his parents arrived, and they arrived to find an ambulance waiting for them, but he wouldn't get in on my say so and believe me I tried.

At this point his family are fed up with him, and the mental health facilities around here are pretty poor. I'd encourage him to be committed, but I don't think it would work and he doesn't deserve to be locked away indefinitely.

His dad is a doc too, so it's his headache how to proceed. I just spent 3 or 4 hours there, leaving only when help was at least theoretically available, and I have work later anyway.

I honestly don't have any clue if we even have an equivalent for suicide watch, but I wouldn't put much stock in it either. You guys underestimate how shit the psychiatric services are in the third world!

You guys underestimate how shit the psychiatric services are in the third world!

Oh trust me I know, I grew up there (and had an impossible time finding any halfway-decent mental health services there when I needed it). By suicide watch I just mean an informal one made up of friends and family.

Glad to hear you left him with company, and good on you for talking him down.