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Wellness Wednesday for April 24, 2024

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.

Has anyone made the personal observation that they lose weight when they think harder?

I'm convinced this applies to me, even if the science appears to suggest that the brain consumes only negligibly more calories when it works hard. But even over the course of a day, I notice that I weigh less than expected if I spent the day on more mentally demanding work than otherwise.

I concede that rationally, it's more probable that my body doesn't defy science, and that when I have to think harder, it's correlated to pressure at work, and stress suppresses appetite etc., and even if the mental stimulation is positive because I'm really drawn into a project, then that same passion can deprioritize mindlessly snacking or something. I suppose to someone who wants to lose weight, this nuance might not matter? They could just commit to some project that requires a lot of thinking, and voila, weight loss achieved.

Pressure, stress, and thinking hard are connected to movement which probably plays a role. Pacing, tapping a foot or shaking a leg while sitting, just being more tense in general... along with the things you've noticed.

I get hungry much quicker when doing difficult mental work. And eat more without gaining weight.

I’m exactly the same.

I think your rational concession is likely correct. When very stressed or busy it is easy to make it to the evening without eating anything; over a prolonged period in many people this will mean a calorie deficit and therefore weight loss.

You can train yourself out of it. Into a new autonomous pattern. It'll take a month of daily practice. 20 minutes each morning would do the trick. Lay down on your back. Breathe deep into the area below the belly button, engaging the diaphragm muscle, almost like a pump drawing in air. Work on just fully filling and emptying the belly area of air at first. You can place your hands there for emphasis. Later, work on filling the belly area sufficiently before filling the chest. Have one hand below the belly button and one hand on the chest.

Stop being so relaxed, focus on anxious things, drink caffeine. I find doomscrolling helps.

I'm mostly posting this just to vent but I also would like some feedback on handling bad actors in social groups.

I'm apart of this group of 15-25 board gamers/social deduction game players in my local area. About a year ago one of my closer friends in this group but also from prior to it did sort of a 180. Before we were playing lots of games together, sometimes 40 hours a week playing Frosthaven as a duo, and just starting to branch out into activities outside of board games. To afterwards him ignoring me, giving me the cold shoulder, and never being available anymore. I was understandably confused, I inquired to him about it and was essentially given the Uno reverse card and also told that I was imagining it. I never got closure on the subject but that oftentimes is a fantasy so shrug. He then for about 7 months after engaged in a fairly subtle but noticeable campaign of bullying, passive aggressive comments, ignoring, and deliberately targeting me in all the games we played jointly as part of the same general group. I was mostly content to take the high road, remain stoic, and ignore him. I snarked back a couple of times but mostly kept my composure. From time to time people inquired about the situation, I gave them my side, asked them to stay out of it, told them I didn't want the drama. and that seemed to work out.

Well, until about 2 months ago, when someone from the group approached me with a very similar story of how he had done the same thing towards her (more recently than me). She wasn't really willing to take it on the chin like I was and after more incidents of his bad behavior surfaced involving others as well things have gotten heated. Currently He got kicked from the private discord group. I co-host a game at a public game shop and he has been asked to take a break for a bit, until tempers have cooled.

This went over like a lead balloon and turned the dumpster fire into a nuclear explosion. He doesn't really engage, but he has two friends (who were also friends with everyone else) in this group very aggressively defending him. Calling all of us bullies, yada yada. It's all very dramatic. The realization among all the people with complaints + the leader of the group discord, about 9 people at this point, is that this main guy is very manipulative, some accusations about Narcissism Personality Disorder or Machiavellianism have been quietly whispered.

But in all of this I'm lost on what to actually do. I've made my peace that he's a bad actor and I just avoid him now. The group leader doesn't want a thorn left laying around, particular after the incredibly dismissive response he received when trying to work through it with the guy and then the vicious response he received from the friends after booting him. Other people in the group are much less level headed and want blood. And in all of this I am reminded almost of the whole MOP article.

Write him off. He's toxic-to-dangerous to associate with. You may have had a long friendship with him, but that was only because he hid his full personality from you. It's the classic story of any abusive relationship, whether it be controlling spouses, pimps, or vampires. Find people in the group that you can trust, and talk about everything (it sounds like you're doing this). Share all the warning signs, and listen when other people share theirs. Look up diagnostic criteria and discuss them like a book club.

As for the bad actor, you want to separate from him in a way that does not draw attention to you personally. If he focuses on you, that could be dangerous: you don't know what he might try. Just fade out and wind down any connections. Be a "gray rock", stay bland, don't give any emotion back one way or another, and be noncommittal. From a purely selfish perspective, let other people take the heat. But if you're feeling altruistic, you can look up strategies like this and share them with other people in the group.

Sadly, I don't think modern society has any good legal/ethical remedy for this situation. (If only we still had weregild!). He'll be out there, preying on other people, and you'll know that. Fortunately, this guy doesn't seem particularly intelligent, charismatic, or sadistic, so you're probably not letting another Jeffrey Dahmer go free. Unless he escalates, he'll just be spreading a low-grade cloud of misery and evil into the world.

Any chance sexual desires are involved? To me this pattern matches quite well to a - getting close to a girl, she doesn't show interest, you lose interest in her, move to the next?

He's very private with his sexuality but codes as gay or bi to most people. I'm straight. It was a hypothesis I had initially but it just felt too self-centered and his response was too extreme. Plus doing to this to other people makes that angle feel less likely

WTF is the motivation here, anyways? Dude isn't making some sort of power-play, is he? Is there an ideological angle to his behavior? Does he suddenly hate people in the group for not being cool enough? As presented, it just looks like he's being a dick for funsies.

Well according to him he's the victim here. He's given some "sorry not-sorry" type apologies prior to being booted. Played a "I'm diagnosed with Autism" card in discussion with the group leader, that only his defenders really believe. He's all together too social and charismatic for most people to believe that one. I think he ran for state senate when he was younger, which doesn't really code as Autistic to me. The motivation is really unknown for why he started bullying different people. The current motivation is obviously not to admit fault and stay in the group or at least drag enough people with him to start his own group. It really does appear as some sort of narcissism.

Edit: it was state house of rep

But in all of this I'm lost on what to actually do.

You do what you and your group did (from what I understand). You kick the bad actor out of the group. And if his defenders give the group too much grief, you kick them out too. And then you quit engaging with them. You have to be aggressive when dealing with these types of people. They're addicted to conflict. And they'll never change. Be willing to be the "bad guy" in the situation. They're wasting your time and energy. They're decreasing your happiness. That's an enemy in my book. Be sure to reinforce bonds with your allies in the group.

I think the desire is really to keep his defenders in the group. They are good actors defending their friend, not realizing he's a bad actor. That's admirable. They are good people. There is a fear that if they leave, he'll eventually do the same thing to them, which a lot of the group are worried about. It is altogether a surprisingly empathetic group, that is likely being taken advantage of by a narcissist. I do think this conflict has strengthened my bonds with the others in the group, especially the 7 others with grievances. So I guess that's the silver lining. I'm really just confused on how to effectively deal with manipulative narcissists in general, nipping this in the bud would have probably been far more effective.

If his defenders are good eggs, then just treat them with kindness and respect, and steer clear of the topic of the bad actor. Hopefully you all will appear to be the better option then.

Narcissists have an alien way of thinking, and they don't change. Best way to deal with them is to cut off contact with them. Next best way is to limit contact with them and don't react when they screw with you. In groups, you gotta sniff out who's a good actor and who's a bad actor. Then you gotta build good enough friendships/relationships with the good actors so that the bad actors can't divide and conquer (or triangulate).

You'll do fine.

Calling all Japan enthusiasts. Help me plan a trip to Japan.

Weebs not welcome and you must have been to Japan

I think I have a somewhat detailed outline of what I want. The point of this post is for travellers with past experience telling me of things that I would want, but don't even know exist. Also, I would like to be mansplained on what the main cities are known for and their vibes. I know all the names, but they are the same as Toyota, Nissan and Suzuki to me. I.e I am ignorant and might make a few "drive from NYC to LA in a day" errors.

Boring Details:
  • Where: Tokyo and Hokkaido.
  • Duration: 10-14 days.
  • During Late December - Early January. We don't care if it's cold, please don't comment on that.
  • Visitors: Me and my friend, both 26-year-old males.
  • Budget: Obviously as low as possible. No more than 3000-4000 USD.
  • Both of us can drive manual transmission cars.
  • We are okay with sharing a hotel room (even a bed, as long as it's not a single bed).
What we want to do: (Convince me otherwise, or give tips/reccomendations)
  • Eat Sushi, Ramen, Tonkatsu, Wagyu, curry, yoshoku and almost all the Japan-exclusive food I can think of. Yes we do want to visit 7-11 and Lawsons.
  • Drive JDM cars. (There are many rentals)
  • Visit Akihabara.
  • Visit car meets.
  • Ski. (Hence Hokkaido)
  • Do more as opposed to see more.
  • At least one natural feature, Mount Fuji?
  • At least one historical museum/feature.
  • At least one really cool place/museum/whatever.
  • At least one bar with a "cool" crowd. Yeah we don't speak Japanese, but we are willing to try our luck :), We don't need to pick up women or any of that stuff, just socializing with locals is fine.
  • Drive over public transit, bullet trains for long haul trips are fine.
What we don't care for: (Convince me otherwise if you think so)
  • Weeb shit.
  • Luxury. I don't need fancy 5 star hotels. As long as they don't have bedbugs, and we can sleep the night, that's enough.
  • History or culture. Not interested.
  • Scenic pictures.
  • Fancy stuff. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants are preferable to Michelin-starred dining, unless the experience will be truly exceptionally life changing.
  • Onsen or any other "relaxing" thing. Both of us are fit&active and would rather prefer to walk around all day aimlessly than sitting in a jacuzzi or whatever.

Man why are you even going there?

What we want to do:

  • Visit Akihabara.
  • At least one historical museum/feature.
  • At least one bar with a "cool" crowd.

What we don't care for

  • Weeb shit.
  • History or culture. Not interested.
  • Fancy stuff

All of this contradicts yourself. If you just want to eat sushi, curry, and ramen you can do that at home. Also uh driving in Hokkaido in winter, or in the middle of Tokyo, is... not the best. Whatever, just get drunk and go to Rapongi like every other 20 something male tourist does and then go skiing.

You are completely discounting the JDM car scene. We are car guys, that enough is reason to visit Japan. Everything else is a nice to have addition.

I would second a recommendation to go to the onsen, especially an outdoors one - it's a sensory experience just as much as good food and good drink, and particularly in the winter, after a day of winter sports. It's the cap to an active day, not an alternative.

Also, try some different teas while you're there, possibly paired with Japanese sweets. Traditional Japanese sweets are low-sugar, frequently containing a bean paste where a Western pastry would put a fruit filling, and often meant to pair with a cup of tea. The "afternoon snack" is just as valid a gourmet goal as the lunch and dinner. I picked up a taste for green tea from my time in Fukuoka.

Yeah, I might change my mind on the onsen if its preceded by a day of winter sport.

I can recommend you an interesting pub. It's cowboy themed, ran by an old Japanese gentleman that's obsessed with country music. It's tiny, seats like 5 people at once, so it's likely it will be just the 2 of you + the owner there, but it's worth it if you wanna sing some country songs and hear about owner's country music lore (went to America, was in a band, etc.). Name is 'PINE FIELD', address: 3-2, yotsua, shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Owner's name is SunShine Matsuno.

I was an exchange student to the Tokyo area, so I can recommend some food an activities iconic to Japan: Food: Yoshinoya beef bowls are quintessential japanese comfort food. Unagidon at a fancier place is worth the price. You'll typically get a full set of food to go with the delicious eel. Okonomiyaki a savory pancake that your make yourself on a griddle in the center of the table. Gyoza places make for a great mid-day or after dinner snack. Natto, fermented soy beans. This one is very hit or miss with people, but like Chicago and Malort, you have to try it at least once. Sushi, make sure to try at least one Uni (sea urchin). Good flavor and texture but can be pricy to eat a lot. Zenzai/Oshiruko, sweet bean paste soup with toasted mochi rice cakes. Best after a day of skiiing, delicious like a warm mug of hot cocoa Western Fast Food, hear me out. They have some really interesting twists and Japan-only items at McDonalds, KFC, Denny's, donuts, etc. Melonpan/Onigiri/Katsu Sandwich are all found at any convenience stores. Yakiniku, restaurant with a grill in the table, you order and cook what you like to dip in sauces. Great for relaxing after a long day. Shabu-Shabu, basically hot pot, see yakiniku. Vending machines for the experience get some corn soup, coffee, or something else fun. Careful, some of them come out quite hot. Don't wander and eat/drink though. Stand around the vending machine to finish it or take it with you to your destination to drink/eat there. Umeshu, plum-liqueur, is one of my favorites. Get it on the rocks, a sweet, smooth drink with just enough plum bitterness to round it out. Try raw egg on something at least once, because you can, salmonella free.

Activities: Fuji is a good climb but outside of the summer climbing season, climbing is not usually allowed. Random street festivals are worth stopping at for fun carnival type games and food (common foods: takoyaki, balls of dough with octopus. dorayaki, fish shaped dough with sweet bean paste. Yakisoba, fried noodles with sauce). Karaoke can be fun if you find a good group, although might not work if it just the two of you unless you find a group of other tourists or locals to join Tokyo Tower is a good place to see Tokyo from The trains are both an experience and very convenient in the Tokyo area. Especially to go to places like Akihabara. Cars in the Tokyo area are going to be a huge hassle with very narrow streets and difficulties parking. New Years is big, so you might be able to see some parades, festivals, or events. If you can, try for one to see them make mochi the traditional way (team of guys hitting cooked rice with wooden mallets) Visit at least one temple and one shrine. Just copy the Japanese people for the customs of how to wash hands, enter the spaces, etc. Buy an Omamori or luck talisman(temple) and Omikuji, paper fortune (shrine). You keep the Omamori but the fortune you only keep if it is good, otherwise you tie it to the provided area to let the shrine hold it for you. Ok, technically, you donate and they give you those things.

Thanks for the recommendations. I might try all of them minus the natto. And yes Unagi and Uni, won't miss those.

As a former Hokkaido resident, I can at least advise you on some of the fun to be had there. As an aside, I personally don't enjoy Tokyo at all, but if it's your first time then it is fine. It certainly has the most stuff in general.

Cars are obviously the best way to get around Hokkaido, as trains are much more limited than in the south. I'm not sure how familiar you are with winter driving, but all cautions apply. The island gets extreme levels of snowfall at times.

For skiing, Niseko is the biggest one, very touristy but just as popular with the locals. There are a couple of ski resorts in the area, Grand Hirafu being the flagship. It's a fantastic mountain, good backcountry areas, spacious lifts, and mind blowing powder if you can catch it. Mt. Yotei is known as Hokkaido's Fuji and is available for backcountry tours, but it's a spectacular sight even if you dont ski it. Other favorites of mine (bearing in mind they are fairly out of the way) are Furano and Kamui ski links. Sapporo Teine and Sapporo Kokusai are good options right outside of the city.

Unfortunately hiking isn't an option in winter, but definitely look into snowshoeing if that's your thing.

For food, soup curry and jingisukan "Genghis Khan" are favorite Hokkaido specialties. Also, Hokkaido ramen is far superior to mainland stuff, especially if you like miso ramen. There is a "ramen alley" in Sapporo with a bunch of popular options. You can also get a great bowl at Chitose airport if you can't wait.

Susukino is the nightlife hub in Sapporo, but you might want to range a bit further out for a quieter izakaya experience.

Don't knock hitting the onsen after a long day of skiing, it's pretty unbeatable especially if you have access to outdoor baths which are wonderful in the winter.

Seicomart is the Hokkaido exclusive conbini so check that out for sure.

In general, Hokkaido is pretty spread out so be mindful of drive times compounded by winter conditions. If you have other specific areas in mind I can share what I know.

So, I've been struggling with my weight since I first went on antipsychotics, almost two decades ago, and I'm losing the will to keep trying — why bother? How do I find the motivation to keep at it?

One trick that occasionally works for me is to think of today-me and tomorrow-me as separate people, close as twin siblings, and to try to have today-me do favors for tomorrow-me.

For weight gain specifically, you might try fasting. In my experience, the first two days are the hardest, after that it gets much easier (when ketosis kicks in). It helps if you learn to appreciate unflavored tea. (A major contraindication is if you're on medication that needs to be taken with food.) And in my opinion, exercise is fun when I'm in shape, and miserable when I'm not, and I think a lot of people get the correlation/causation thing wrong there.

As for whether to go on living... I don't particularly, either. It's more of a habit; I can get some enjoyment out of daily life, and occasionally there are specific things I look forward to. True, it would be very convenient to die in my sleep, and I've gone to bed plenty of times hoping that would happen. But ultimately, there are some people out there whom I love, who love me, and as long as they're alive and in touch with me, I don't want to hurt them. (Did you ever watch "The Wire"? The end of season 2? I don't want to do that to them.) In the meantime, I try to find little pleasures in life, like smelling flowers, petting kitties, taking hot showers, and so on. It doesn't help with motivation toward long-term goals, but it fills the days. I wish I could help more.

It helps if you learn to appreciate unflavored tea.

Already got you there. Never been a coffee person, and have quite the selection of loose-leaf teas in my cabinet. (It helps to have a "tea and spice" shop half a mile away.)

But ultimately, there are some people out there whom I love, who love me, and as long as they're alive and in touch with me, I don't want to hurt them.

This is the same position my therapist takes. It works, somewhat, but there are I times where I seriously begin weighing the benefits of "being selfish," and at what point ending my suffering will outweigh any grief I may cause my family. (At the very least, once my Mom passes…)

Did you ever watch "The Wire"?


In the meantime, I try to find little pleasures in life

Yeah, I don't really have those — not nearly enough to "fill the days."

(At the very least, once my Mom passes…)

Yeah, same here, and I'm not quite sure how my decision process will go after that. But I do have some nephews and nieces, and some little first cousins once removed, and maybe they'll keep me going.

There's an old children's book of Greek mythology I had when I was a kid, "The Greek Gods", by Evslin, Evslin, and Hoopes. It's got the story of the twins, Apollo and Artemis, and part of the story is that Artemis gets to choose her own gifts. Among her requests is "I wish to be your maiden always, never a woman." And Zeus' response is "You shall have the gift of eternal chastity, and also the gift of changing your mind about it at any time, which will help you not want to." I feel the same way about suicide.

There's another part of my situation which makes the choice a bit easier. I shouldn't go into detail, but I'll just say that sufficiently strong anger appears to be able to overwhelm any other emotion I can feel, including despair. I don't know whether this is actually a good thing, but in the spirit of honesty, I thought I'd share.

Did you ever watch "The Wire"? Nope.

Well, personally, I consider it the best TV show ever made. Opinions differ, but I'd say it's definitely worth trying out a few episodes.

Yeah, I don't really have those — not nearly enough to "fill the days."

Hm. I suppose one thing I have going for me is that I got into Buddhism enough to be able to "live in the moment", most of the time. Even just eating plain rice, if I pay attention and go slow, I can actively enjoy it, the flavor and texture and the entire process of the thing. I don't actually know whether this is good for my long-term mental health - I think there might be ways in which this partial half-assed approach has crippled my internal mechanisms that could lead to recovery - but it does work on a moment-to-moment basis. You could try taking a look at "The Way of Zen" by Alan Watts, if you want an overview. It's short and a good read, anyway.

Do you know the mechanism of the weight gain - I think that first you have to find out how they fuck you up - let's say they lower your impulse control - the solution will be different compared to something that fucks up your insulin regulation.

I will start looking at some other different addictions (wow, tiktok, porn, doomscrolling, realclearpolitics) you may have and see if you can cut them down - for some reason those things cascade.

Also remove artificial sweeteners from your life - one of the things I did couple of months ago was cut sugar free energy drinks and replace them with carbonated water with the juice of a half to one lemon - my health and weight took a turn for the better.

Movement - like simple walking or swimming could make a big difference if done regularly.

My opinion - you have to try and build (and remove) habits because they don't need much willpower to sustain once formed.

But why should I bother to do any of this at all? What reason to lose weight at all? Why not eat myself to death, given that I want to die?

I will try to give you at least three reasons to motivate you:

  1. If you have a major problem with your weight, then there is a positive side of it, since you can make a notable change without a big effort. Any intervention that you will undertake is very likely to result in a significant drop of BMI, for example walking a couple of miles twice a week.

  2. Body fat isn't only some passive, excessive weight, but physiologically active organ, that messes up with your hormonal regulation. If you decrease the amount of body fat, it is very likely that you will feel better in general, have more energy, better sleep etc.

  3. If you have a major weight problem, there is a lot of things and movements that are difficult to do. I think that it's worth to fight for this freedom of movement, movement is one of the primary human joys. You can try to stick with small goals, like walking certain distance. Your aim is not some utilitarian objective but being able to enjoy life a little more in general.

If young hang up around rationalist community, you may have heard about potato diet, which is said to not involve much willpower and gives overall positive results. Why not to try, even just for a couple days and just for fun? If you want to read more, like half of Slime Mold Time Mold blog is about it. They explicitly write about weight gain in response to medication here.

for example walking a couple of miles twice a week.

I don't own a car, and public transit here isn't great. I go for walks daily, either to get someplace or for exercise. Thus, I'm already doing at least this mutch.

And, again, why bother? "enjoy life a little more in general"? Life sucks. It's terrible, and the sooner it's over, the better.

This is a common side effect of that class of medications, you should discuss this with your primary care doctor and psychiatrist, they may recommend medication changes, dietary counseling, ancillary medications like statins etc.

you should discuss this with your primary care doctor and psychiatrist

I did, many years ago, and got the pat "diet and exercise" advice I mostly already knew. Edit: because it at least partially comes down to what Medicaid covers.

If you are willing to explore changing medications (may not be safe depending on your situation) some of the medications in that class are more weight neutral than others.

Additionally depending on the pathology an alternate medication class might be available, especially if you haven't really revisited it in the years since you started (some things will require that type of med though).

Medicaid may cover a dietician which is better than nothing.

Your primary care may have some routine health suggestions (again a statin, some preventative care etc) or maybe even something like Ozempic.

Medicaid may cover a dietician

From what I've seen (with respect to relatives trying to see a dietician), the answer to that is "no." Besides, I'm not sure what more information they can give me.

Your primary care may have some routine health suggestions

"Eat less, work out more." That's what she always says.

And the key point is — why should I even bother with all this effort, anyway? It sounds like so much effort… to what end?

Why shouldn't I just let the fat pack on and on?

Why shouldn't I just let the fat pack on and on?

Why do you want to continue to live at all? Whatever your answer to that is, it probably works better when you're not getting dragged down by half a ton of flab.

Also, what's wrong with diet and exercise? Eat half, move double, problem solved.

Why do you want to continue to live at all?

That's part of the problem… I don't, really.

Well eat away then, champ.

Why shouldn't I just let the fat pack on and on?

I personally felt terrible when I couldn't climb a flight of stairs and slept badly every night.

Do you have a major problem with your weight or is it a minor one? If your BMI is in a range 25-28 then I think that's fine, maybe even healthier in the long run than aggressive diet.

Do you have a major problem with your weight or is it a minor one?

My BMI is 40. When I was first put on antipsychotics, I went from 150 pounds to 300 in less than a year.

This answer is context dependent on you, your mental state, your genetics, your environment, your socioeconomic status, your friends, your geographic locale, your romantic partner (or lack thereof), your health, your projected health, etc, etc. I.e it's so fine-tuned to the various dimensions of your life that it is practically impossible to answer, without being you.

The best one can give you is generic motivation answers or tell you what worked for them (unlikely to work for you because you are not them).

Missives from Indian Streets

I've had two learners licenses expire on me so far. I'd like to argue, if pressed, that I was too busy to give the driving exam at the end, with other, far more important medical exams pressing. The truth is I was simply too lazy.

But now, finding myself in actual need of one, since the NHS accepts "sorry boss, dunno how" as a poor excuse for showing up late to an emergency, I paid a good chunk of my own salary to one of the driving instructors at one of the more reputable companies around (they own a car brand, though they were mildly put out because I made it clear I wasn't a prospective customer).

The last two times, my dad coughed up the change, but this time, both actual enthusiasm and hard cash were transferred from my far more empty wallet. You'd think his modestly justified annoyance at me having wasted the money before would be outweighed by paternal pride and affection at his son adding more alphabet soup behind his name, but alas.

Up till this point, my instructors had been bad, to put it lightly. And the extent of my experience on the road was driving through quiet suburban streets and doing my best to weave through parked cars and avoid the odd cow or pedestrian.

This time, well, I got what I paid for. Far better tutors, 5 whole lessons in a simulator running Windows 10 but using software probably written in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, today I braved the midday sun in an exceedingly long walk to the motor training school (for obvious reasons I can't drive there) , I can't call myself an Englishman quite yet, but mad dog? The heatstroke left me panting.

To my chagrin, it turned out that my last simulator class was supposedly a two-in-one affair, and they expected me to hit the road again, for the first time in several years.

At high noon. On the main road carrying half the city's traffic, a fucking arterial line spewing motor oil and NO2 emissions, a far cry from the sedate streets I feel quarter comfortable in.

I didn't let on that my inner self was kicking and screaming, and followed the instructor to the awaiting training car with barely repressed terror.

It wasn't that bad. The car, that is. No obvious dents, the air conditioning and power steering worked, a far cry from the broken down beater they'd seen fit to hand me at the previous place.

The driving? Talk about being thrown in the deep end. I swear I don't feel that level of hyperfocus even the odd time I'm dragged in for a surgery. Because after all, what's the worst that could happen there? The patient doesn't make it. Whereas I'm too cute to die, and I have a lot to live for.

Miraculously, despite hitting 55 km/h on some of the busiest roads I've had the misfortune of seeing, I made it through mostly unscathed, even if the gearbox didn't.

That's it. I'm buying an automatic. I modestly hoped that self driving cars would be common enough that I could always procrastinate learning to drive to the distant future, or preferably never. Sadly the distant future is today, and the odd car that can plausibly be said to drive itself is far outside my budget.

Instead, I'm buying a Porsche, a Mustang, nah, a plain old horse. Runs off renewable energy. Confuses the meter maids enough that I might get away with it if I can't find free employee parking. Fully self driving, or good enough cruise control and lane keeping to make sure my sorry ass makes it home from the pub.

I saw God, today. He was wearing a seat belt. So should you.

The traffic in India (Bengaluru) is amazing. My memory of being there in brand new car inside a river of scooter and our parktronik was beeping all the time because we couldn't get up to the speed for it to shut up. Also the concept of oncoming and our direction traffic being separated and contained in the right and left of the road was lost. And from the hotel I could hear the honking symphony 24/7

KL and Jackarta were worse when it came to speed of movement, but people obeyed the laws.

Bangalore traffic is notorious even for Indians. Like, you can't pay me enough to drive there. Even the largest motorways drive at the pace of an arthritic snail (xe/xer only has the one foot anyway).

Even more aggravating is that the auto-rickshaws literally charge more than an Uber for equivalent distances, the public transport is absolutely fucked.

Was this in India or in England?

I live in a city where the road rules are decaying every day. Red light? Suggestion? Stop sign? Suggestion. Left turn from the right turn lane on a red light with oncoming traffic? Fuck you get out of my way. Speed limits? Square the number and you get the speed of the average driver.

I hate driving, but the alternative is a bus fill with drug addled obnoxious lowlifes who are one bad look away from starting a fight on a bus. Also they never run on time and are simply inefficient ways to travel.

In India, and I didn't expect the trial by fire would be quite so literal, with how abominably hot it is. It's been consistently in the middle 40s in Celsius, and it's only April.

Trust me, you have no idea the depths of depravity traffic can stoop to, I'm modestly grateful that I'll only be here long enough to become semi-competent at the whole not running people over thing, and thus not have the worst habits ingrained in me. If I can navigate a busy road here and not die on the highways, I'll consider the UK to be a paid vacation.

Whether I'll be a menace to the other people on the streets? Too early to tell, but at least I know they're not that keen on sending me to the ER, my ex works there.

If I can navigate a busy road here and not die on the highways, I'll consider the UK to be a paid vacation.

This is false. Driving in a shithole with no laws and the inverse of that are different skills. FOB indian drivers here in Dubai are universally hated and universally terrible. They are so used to driving in a dump they don't know how to navigate a road where you can actually go faster than 30 km/h.

Oh there are laws, this isn't Mombasa, though the primary concern for those keeping them is the stiff bribes the police demand if they catch you.

It's more that things like proper lane keeping, courteous passing, sensible pedestrian traffic and the like are non-existent. So at the very least my reflexes and my resting heart rate will remain honed. I intend to drive here only long enough to get accustomed to the rote actions of driving while following traffic laws as they nominally exist. Not long enough to develop bad habits like fishing for my wallet when the cops pull me over, or joining in the demolition derby.

I don't even want to imagine what it's like trying to drive in urban India. Of course, my poor American perception of India is bifurcated between 'enlightened' gurus whose philosophy saves humanity, people living in extreme poverty bathing in cow dung, and the people trying to scam me from call centers.

And here I am, stuck in the middle.

Honestly, it's a miracle more people don't die, but apparently you can get used to anything. Not that I want to get used to this, it seems to give everyone a terminal case of road rage.

The enlightened gurus are also trying to scam you.

Update on Ms. Definitely:

Dates three and four were even better than the first two. But it turns out even in the case that she stays, there's probably a fair amount of extended travel in her next couple years. This all added up to more uncertainty than I could handle, so I gave up. Not an easy decision - I think we both wanted to keep going, just life got in the way. Very glad I met her though.

The whole thing has me feeling a touch heartbroken, but significantly moreso: motivated to try harder at dating, on apps and off. I think that's part of the puzzle here: if I felt like I'd already tried as hard as I could at dating, I'd be more prepared to say "life's complicated, let's figure it out together." But I just haven't. Tried some, sure, but not enough, in no small part because only in the last few years have I gotten to the point that I feel I'm good enough for a woman that's good enough for me.

My condolences. It sucks to meet someone you really like, and then have circumstances drag you, or them, away.

I find myself in much the same position as she does, in that I'm about to uproot myself from all I've known, loved and hated and fuck moving states, I'm moving States.

That bodes poorly for things with the several really nice women I've encountered while running Bumble and Hinge's unpaid psychiatry services, some of whom I genuinely wouldn't mind getting serious with, were that an option. (The long list of absolute crazies deserve their own post).

But hey, I made it clear I'm here for a good time, not a long one, and make it a point to remind them not to get too close because soon enough I'll be gone; and I doubt that 3 months is nearly enough time for someone else to also decide to drop everything and move for someone they met on a few dates.

But in your cases, all you should feel is mild regret. You didn't do anything wrong, nor did she, and you'll find someone not inclined to wander away sooner or later.

I want to get a sense of how to grok a language (Ideally English as a non-English speaker) really well in a short amount of time, including the grammar.I want to help kids from underpirvleved backgrounds learn the language. I tried to look into how French diplomats do it and did not find anything worthwhile. Watching tv or movies and then reading a grammar book is a bit too long a journey, so I would appreciate if you could guide me to a textbook that can help someone reach good proficiency, including grammar in a short amount of time. I have ero background in linguistics and the only languages I know are those I picked from my surroundings. Even the stuff that works (duolingo) probably works on some core thought process but I want something that is more comprehensive, ideally a book or some texts. I am aware of Comprehensive Input (CI) and the English File series, I was looking at the lingq app trying to see what it is that makes them good. Would appreciate inputs.

English is the easiest language to learn by far because once you give kids some basic resources and internet access they often tend to do it by themselves by playing video games or watching pewdiepie/music videos/netflix 10 hours a day. My girlfriend’s step brother in poor Hispanic country got pretty good at English in a couple years because the kid is addicted to smartphones and happened to install duolingo at some point to be able to watch English gaming videos

Watching tv or movies and then reading a grammar book is a bit too long a journey

I've sometimes spoken with people who grew up in poor villages where they were the only person who could converse in English, and were thus brought to talk with me. This is what all of them did. I've heard an interest in online gaming with a voice chat component is helpful, since it's interactive. Spaced repetition software is helpful for vocabulary. I've never heard of a Best Book for Learning English. At least English is a language with a nearly inexhaustible backlog of possible inputs.

Your grammar and vocabulary are already superior to a substantial proportion of native speakers, and certainly to French diplomats. Further improvement will just be the natural result of reading more English media to develop flair and a personal style.

I'm not talking about myself. I want to help kids learn English

You're not going to see the results. Even if you're good. And by "good" a dozen possibilities could be inserted there for your imagination. You're funny. You seem cool. You look like the guy they knew one time. You tell great stories You sing. Whatever. For kids learning language is about making them want to immerse themselves in the language, and they want to do that because something makes them interested. A generation of Japanese girls "love English" because of One Direction, and not because Zayne knew anything about comprehensible input. You're not going to see the results because language teaching and learning is slow, and people get better or don't because of many, many reasons, but a specific method or methodology is way down on the list.

I taught English in the Peace Corps 30 years ago. In a country in Africa. I guess those kids were underprivileged. They seemed pretty resilient though. One girl messaged me on LinkedIn a year or two ago after having become a doctor. I cannot claim responsibility. If you want to teach kids, be interesting. Be amusing. Keep their interest even if it's just playing the lyre. Instill that interest in English and they'll do the hard part on their own. As we all do. Or don't.

My husband's parents live with us, and I am going a little nuts dealing with his mother. She is 81, obese, and can barely walk at this point. She sleeps about 16 hours a day, and there are many days that will go by without her coming upstairs (their bedroom and tv room are in the basement). And yet, I can see her going on like this for another 10 years or so. Hooray for modern medicine!

I have to remind myself to detach emotionally and not get frustrated with her. But what particularly bothers me is how it limits the life of my father-in-law. He used to have a job at the grocery store that he loved, but she didn't like being alone, so he quit and now just sits and watches tv with her all day. We're trying to plan a trip to Spain (where he's from), but have to figure out what to do with her because she refuses to go.

I guess I'm struggling to figure out how much of this is coming from her body not working anymore, and how much is just depression (she did spend some time in a mental hospital about 15 years ago and is on Lexapro, which doesn't seem to be doing much). And what do you do when somebody is unwilling to make any moves to help themselves get something out of life? She's just waiting around to die at this point and I hate watching it.

My experience has been that it's generally a fool's errand to try to change someone's behaviour whom you're not in a position of power over (heck, I find changing my own behaviour difficult enough, at least our daughter listens for the time being). Also, sleeping 16 hours a day is not really something people do for fun, does it really matter whether it's the depression or just physical? She is 81 and clearly very unhealthy, at that point it's kinda understandable to just wait for death with minimal discomfort, even if that sounds sad. It does not seem clear to me that "just become more active and healthy again" is actually an option on the table for her.

For your father-in-law, I would consider a serious talk about wasting away since he is clearly in a better shape and would benefit more from more activity, but in the end it's also up to him. We have a somewhat similar situation with my wife's grandfather, who was struck by the unexpected death of his wife. Before, he was unusually healthy for his age both physically and psychologically, since then he has started to explicitly say he's now just waiting for his time to come to an end. He stopped almost all physical activity and he has started to show signs of a rapidly deteriorating dementia. Despite all his children constantly trying to to talk him into becoming more active again, with varying angles. It's unclear (though not unlikely) whether he will actually die anytime soon - they're certainly not letting him.

In general, I'm happy that we have the options of modern technology and medicine, but it seems to me we're culturally failing pretty hard at gracefully taking advantage of them. Though I guess that is now going beyond the scope of this thread.

That's a lot to handle, wow. Did you and your now-husband discuss taking care of elderly/infirm parents to this degree early on (i.e. before marriage)? Either way, was it a difficult decision to let your husband's parents move in?

I'd prefer to end up with someone who wouldn't want us to do this for either set of our parents. I'm not saying I don't care if they rot in a shitty retirement home, I'm just saying I don't care enough to make it my problem. It's unclear to me how unpalatable a statement that would be for someone to hear on a date, or how much it'd actually prevent this kind of scenario in our future.

I was quite eager to bring them in because his father is a huge help to us, helping with the childcare and doing our cooking. It's just the mother slug that bothers me on a conceptual level, but I don't have to do anything to take care of her.

When we first had our son we lived several states away from any family, and it's really hard to do child-rearing without any family support. I'm sure it will become more difficult as they get older, but for now it's actually a pretty great situation. I just hate to watch somebody waste their life!

My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and my grandfather spent the final six years of his life taking care of her. We hired help, but he wanted to be there for her. It ruined him. He practically starved himself to death, lost the will to live even though he had previously been a remarkably healthy man in his early 90s. He watched his wife grow to hate him, shout, yell, turn into a horrible person (through no fault of her own, she had been a very loving and caring wife, mother and grandmother before her condition set in) and it destroyed him. He had been set on living to 100, had planned a long retirement of reading and walking, traveling, playing poker which was his great joy and so on. He was independent until a few months before he died. Everyone in my family (including the doctors) believes wholeheartedly that if my grandmother had been hit by a bus a few months after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he would have made it to three figures, might even still be around today. His mother lived to 103 and his father to 94, so he had the genes for it.

I think in your case it will depend on what your father in law wants to do. If he is truly committed and sees it as part of his marriage vows, it will be hard to shake him out of it, and you will bear witness to a tragedy (albeit hopefully much less bad in your case). If he would in any way accept someone else (perhaps a sister or brother in law, maybe your children or nieces/nephews if you have any) looking after her for a while, then I would take him as soon as possible. I know my dad wishes he had spent more time traveling with his father.

Oh, that is so sad. Alzheimers is an absolute nightmare.

We are currently planning to send her to my sister-in-law, which we have done in the past when my father-in-law goes to Spain (he tries to go once a year). For the first time though, she is putting up a fuss about going and I can't get a clear answer why.

You are a great person for doing this. My grandad is 91 now and still works but has issues (hearing, digestion, bp, heart, gout,cannot walk properly, cant use any tech, can get annoyed at times, moody etc etc). It is super difficult to deal with ageing people. My grandad actually wanted to die far earlier but he felt that being productive in his later life would help my family out financially even though my dad and mom outearn him by a lot. He just continued to want to live because of us, his grandsons.

It gets worse, invariably you get to points where elders need surgeries or medical procedures that require people to assist them with daily tasks. Having good insurance might help (I am not in the US so cant comment.). If possible, help her find something to do, a hobby of sorts. My grandad and grandmom (maternal, she lives with my ma's brothers) are alive and somewhat happy because they have a bunch of things they do regularly and have a lot of family around always. If your husband has any siblings or nieces and nephews, having them over sometimes is a good idea but her getting a hobby would help her a lot.

My parents deal with trips by having my dad's sisters come stay in our house when we are away as you cannot leave an elderly person alone. My dad at times would even ask his friends to stay over sometimes, the ones he trusted since we do not go out a lot. My family has always had full-time house help who stay with us and it is a difficult task to deal with the elderly even with them around.

Again, I commend you for doing what you are doing. Please take care of yourself too.

I did not watch my parents die. Well, I did watch my father die, or I got real close to watching it--he died in the night around 3 am, and I got the call in my hotel room at the airport where I was supposed to be flying out that day (I did.) But I had slept in his room and kept vigil when we knew death was very near. We (me, whoever else who also knew but wasn't there, certainly the hospice nurses, probably my brother) knew, we just didn't know exactly when. At the end (not the very end because as I say I did not see the very end) he had been found clutching his shirt (it was only a shirt front, it was for appearances for possible visitors--easier to maneuver him for being washed etc, explained the nurse, or caretaker, or whatever she was by training. A kind woman, or very good at faking kindness.) He had been found, anyway, clutching his shirt up almost above his chest, as if trying to tear it off, with--I was told with merciless accuracy--tears streaming down his face.

My dad had been robust. He had been neither soft nor weak as a man. He had never made a sound that suggested he was owed anything, or that the world was treating him poorly. Never uttered any complaint about anything, at least to my memory And this was a man who had nursed his wife (my mother) through the most degrading stages of cancer. When she died, finally, he once confided in me, he was grateful. He had prayed that God take her. He had said he was grateful that I had never had to see her in her final state (my mother had been an exceptionally beautiful woman in her youth). Age does its thing, though.

I write this to commend you for taking in your husband's parents in this way, for not every wife would. I also write it to hint at what no doubt you already expect, the thought that bleeds through each of your sentences here: It's going to get worse.

This isn't a warning. I am not giving advice. And true enough, I was (and am) 4,500 nautical miles from my home country's coastline, then if you just flew like a crow another 1900 miles. Then I'd be, or would have been, right there in the thick of it, scrubbing carpets out, making dinners and taking them in then taking out plates with food still on them. And the in-between time just stretches of Seinfeld reruns, or watching the frail old man who had once struck fear and respect in your heart fill books of sudoku puzzles, books you'll eventually collect in a Glad bag with every other bit of everyday flotsam and toss in the big green barrel that you'll wheel to the curb for trash pickup and burning. I don't have any high ground here. I was gone. And had I not been gone many, many things might have gone considerably better for my family (my American family, the one who had me the first part of my life.)

So what's my fucking point? You say you don't know how much of her inertia is her body's weakness, and how much depression. At risk of taking a monist stance, I'd say probably both. How can we know the dancer from the dance (apologies to Yeats).

It is what it is. In an upbeat film, she'd remember something or someone from Europe, or a dream she once had of seeing Sagrada Familia, she'd take the trip, there would be many comedic scenes of family frustration bound by love, and then the film would end, or she'd die in her sleep peacefully in the hotel bed. I like movies, too. I should write one. And who knows how close your reality will be to something less dark, more optimistic. I don't, certainly.

Do you have anyone you can lay all this out to besides your husband? (It's possible you can to him, but because it's his mom the dynamic of that conversation may not be ideal.) Mind you I come from a tribe that never talked anything out, and did its best to avoid any talking of any sort that would be in line with the American therapeutic chat up. But for some that helps.

My train is here. Sorry to end abruptly. I wish you good luck.

I fear I'm making this sound worse than it is. I really don't have to do anything for her; it just annoys me that she is wasting her life while other lives are too short (my own mom died when she was 45). If things do get to the point where she requires actual physical care, I plan to bring in the professionals and give my sisters-in-law the primary responsibility.

She's actually from Utah, where we live now. We moved here a couple of years ago so she could be close to her daughters who all live here. She does get a bit misty when we visit the local steakhouse :D

Probably it was I who was channeling my experience into your own. That is very young for your mother to have died, you yourself must have been quite young also.

How often did you visit home before your parents’ death? Mine are not yet 70 and seem in good health, but it is a subject matter I find difficult.

Every year, but only once a year. We lived, my wife and I, with them for six months once, but they were fine-ish then. Cancer was sudden for my mother, and she died far too early at 73. But you never know when shit like that will hit. I went when she was first diagnosed, but by then it was stage IV multiple myeloma.

When my wife had the boys, each time, my mom came over to Japan. This was well before her illness. She, too, seemed fine, and in much better shape than my dad, but she was 11 years younger. Then when the boys were old enough to not be screamers on the plane we took them over each Christmas. My brother lived with my parents at that point and this was something I convinced myself was a benefit, but it turned out to be quite different, as my brother is a slackass. (There's no other way to put it; in fact I'm being generous.)

My dad lived a good five or six years after she died, just past his 90th birthday. The few times we went to visit after her passing were difficult, and each time when we said goodbye I could see in his eyes he was resigned it would be the last time. Then COVID hit, and this irrefutably, escalated the speed at which he deteriorated. Support that should have been there simply wasn't. And in those days just up and flying over was not an option. Even when he died I had to go through all sorts of tedious bureaucratic cartwheeling just to fly over and back (though by then those hoops were predominantly on this side. No one in the US seemed to give a shit, including his nurses prior to hospice whose commitment to a sterile environment did not seem steadfast.)

I also found the distance difficult, as you say, particularly when my sons were their only grandchildren, but their demise seemed far off then, decades away, like my own death seems: unimaginable somehow.

Edit: Apparently MM has only stages I, II, and III, but I am sure I heard someone say stage IV. Anyway, the last stage, the end stage.

Yeah, my biggest fear in life other than death is that they won’t live to see me have kids and to be able to help with them, so it’s something I think about a lot especially because I want to benefit from their advice and wisdom as much as possible. I think it would be hard to be away from them, but if we moved back to where I’m from my partner’s parents wouldn’t be able to help or see their grandchildren often either (as in your case of course).

Trade-off. For us the money and lifestyle to which we were accustomed was here, plus safety, cleanliness, and a degree of what for lack of a better term I'll call culture. My home in Alabama had giant yards, lakes, ski boats, big Golden retrievers, and all the high protein meals one could ask for, and of course family, but beyond my parents I don't miss my extended family to any real degree with only two exceptions, and was happy to be far from them. My very close friends are still in touch, some daily thanks to LINE and Whatsapp

I think for many reasons women who have children benefit from their mother nearby, in ways that are not immediately apparent for men. My wife's family is also a plane or bullet train ride away, but that's quite close in modern terms. I mean there's no time zone difference or significant financial hit to connect. Currently flying internationally feels like being robbed at gunpoint.

From April 14th to April 20th, I quit using social media, forums, and any sort of online discussion space to see what would happen. The result is... nothing. Just a sense of under-stimulation which gave a nice opportunity to try out some hobbies. Ultimately when I have some energy, I'm gonna do chores or socialize or art, and social media is just for "dead time" when you run out of energy. It seems common sense that social media affects us a lot, but honestly I'm not so sure.

Modern communities aren’t really set up for adults to socialize with friend groups every night. I wish they were (I think this was part of the appeal of Friends and to some extent Cheers). If you’re spending time by yourself or with a partner then - assuming you don’t have the energy for exciting activities - you are indeed just going to be consooming entertainment much of the time. I don’t think that’s so bad, and I agree that TikTok isn’t necessarily much worse than just watching TV, although I allow for the possibility that it reduces attention spans in a dangerous way (as yet unproven).

Dude, you went less than a week. That is not enough time to update on how much social media affects you. I know it's oversimplified, but remember the saying - it takes 21 days to form a habit. Point is, id give any lifestyle change a month before speculating on how it affects you.

I'm certain more time wouldn't change things for me. Maybe you're different.

As a (presumably) functional adult, I'm not surprised. I have a job and kids, and am also like that. I use social media in exactly the same way my family used to use magazines, and I suppose if it disappeared, I'd go back to that. When I was a teen I would go sit at a library for a couple of hours at a time reading magazines -- at least message boards are interactive.

It's plausible it's a lot different for people with addictive personalities (I have never been even a little tempted to gamble more than a few dollars, get extremely drunk, smoke, or do drugs), young teens, and people with a lot of time on their hands and no particularly useful or interesting activity easily at hand.

I somewhat agree and disagree. I think 'dead' time can be repurposed over time, if not to enhance productivity but instead to do something marginally more constructive, such as reading a book or picking up a room a little bit. Assuming you don't replace it with TV/vidya/low hanging fruit.

I think 6 days is too short of a time to have any significant effects or adjustment. A month or more might be a better sample.

The overall feeling was, social media is equivalent to TV. Back in the 90s, fuss was made over the shocking statistic that Americans spend 6-8 hours per night watching TV, with the tone of "Clearly this is horrible and will have drastic consequences on us". 30 years later, Gen Y are doing completely fine. With this stuff, it's not about a deleterious effect psychologically so much as the opportunity cost of what you could be doing instead. I don't imagine most humans have ever spent "dead time" AKA energy-depleted time in a productive way. Rather, they'll just opt for the easiest road to stimulation which is casual socializing. Is it good that humans had to socialize in the past to stay entertained? Most likely, yeah.

Our society was built on a web of super laid-back socializing, because everyone was naturally bored as hell without other people. The anxiety problem among zoomers is probably a direct result of this laid-back environment going away. Because a lot of us only start socializing once we're needy, once we have a void to be filled like loneliness or whatever. If we grow up casually shooting the shit, it really makes a big difference to social adjustment.