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lsparrish comments on Boring Advice Repository - Less Wrong

56 Post author: Qiaochu_Yuan 07 March 2013 04:33AM

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Comment author: lsparrish 07 March 2013 03:28:20PM 62 points [-]

Try to live close to where you work. Failing that, try to work close to where you live. Commuting takes a lot of time and you don't get paid for it.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 07 March 2013 04:52:06PM 40 points [-]

Alternative: commute effectively. Taking a train to NYC from Long Island I get almost 2 hours to read/watch lectures or entertainment. Some days these are 2 best hours of the day.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 08 March 2013 09:24:47PM *  10 points [-]

A few months ago I got a new job that required me to commute for two hours each day. I tried doing many different productive things while sitting on the bus (the means of transportation I used), including reading, listening to audiobooks, watching videos, and even meditating. Eventually, however, I reached the conclusion that doing Anki reviews (using the AnkiDroid app) was, by a wide margin, superior to all these other activities. If you own a smartphone, you might want to give it a try. (And if you don't own a smartphone, you might want to consider obtaining one.)

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 08 March 2013 09:48:50PM 2 points [-]

Good advice, I think a lot here depends on the quality of the commute. Big heavy trains are the most comfortable and lent to most potential productive activities. Anki-on-smartphone you can do while standing up in a subway.

Comment author: MTGandP 08 June 2013 04:51:31PM 0 points [-]

What do you use Anki to review? I see that lots of people use it so it seems valuable, but I don't know what I would use it for.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 08 June 2013 05:14:13PM 1 point [-]

I use it for all sorts of things. I even listen to music on Anki. :-)

In addition to arundelo's link, you may want to check out this list of Anki decks by LW users.

Comment author: arundelo 08 June 2013 04:56:24PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: [deleted] 08 March 2013 01:05:37PM 8 points [-]

Not all people can read on trains comfortably. (Likewise, some but not all people can sleep on trains comfortably.) Therefore, Beware of Other-Optimizing is particularly relevant.

Comment author: William_Quixote 11 March 2013 11:27:21PM 8 points [-]

I don't know, but I suspect this might be trainable. As a young child I used to get very nauseous reading in the back seat of cars. But since I would get bored with nothing to do, I would read until I was to nauseous to continue, and then try again once I felt better. At some point I stopped getting carsick from reading. I don't Know that I trained this though, it's possible I just grew out of getting carsick, all sorts of stuff changes as you get older.

Comment author: [deleted] 12 March 2013 12:52:09PM *  1 point [-]

I suspect it's fairly common to become less carsick with age (it happened to me as well, and it's not like I trained -- I hadn't read in a car for years before trying to do that again and noticed that it bothered me much less). Anyway, in my case the problem is not sickness (I don't get sick at all when on rails), but just that I can't concentrate very well when on a train. So I can read short stories or poetry no problem, but I usually don't even try to read textbooks or papers.

Comment author: taryneast 05 September 2014 05:08:29AM 0 points [-]

I still get carsick when reading on buses or cars. I no longer get sick when reading on trains. I used to be truly awful to take in a car (every single car-ride I got sick).

Even now, when i do get sick... I don't recover. I have to stop the car, wait half an hour (at least) before moving on (or eating, or anything apart from sitting on the ground feeling miserable).

I don't know if it's trainable... it has gotten better in the past 30-odd years... but not gone away totally.When i learned to drive - I learned how to avoid as much of the g-force-inducing movements as possible. I always choose train-transport over other transport.

but I am just one data-point.

Comment author: bbleeker 09 March 2013 05:36:38PM 14 points [-]

IMO the optimal distance is 15-30 minutes by bicycle. That'll give you some exercise you don't have to do anything extra for, that doesn't take a lot of time. I've been working from home for close to 2 years now, and my fitness has taken a big hit. I've just started to ride my bicycle for about half an hour daily, but the problem is, I don't really need to do it, so it's easy to skip it if I'm busy or just don't feel like it.

Comment author: Error 11 March 2013 07:22:24PM 5 points [-]

I've considered this several times because I'm in range for it; but always reject it on the grounds that I don't want to sit around feeling like dried sweat and stink for eight hours. How did you deal with that when you were biking?

Comment author: wedrifid 11 March 2013 07:25:20PM 7 points [-]

I've considered this several times because I'm in range for it; but always reject it on the grounds that I don't want to sit around feeling like dried sweat and stink for eight hours. How did you deal with that when you were biking?

Showers. (One of the advantages of large workplaces.)

Comment author: taryneast 05 September 2014 05:13:53AM 1 point [-]

and sometimes if not at your workplace, then nearby (or in a gym/mall/etc nearby that is willing)

Comment author: bbleeker 11 March 2013 07:34:39PM *  6 points [-]

I put on deodorant in the morning, and I don't race, I just go ~16-17 km/h (on average, that is; faster on straight stretches, like ~20 km/h). On a normal city bike, not a racing bicycle. I might get a little sweaty sometimes, but never so much that I got smelly. (Edit: typo)

Comment author: Creutzer 12 April 2013 09:16:12AM 1 point [-]

For what it's worth, I do exactly the same thing with the same result.

Comment author: Emily 12 April 2013 10:44:27AM 0 points [-]

Ditto. Hills can add some sweatiness even if you go very slowly, if your range of gears isn't wide enough.

Comment author: Kenny 17 May 2013 11:58:20PM 0 points [-]

I actually do race (when I actually bike to work) and I've almost never had a problem as long as I just wipe off the sweat when I get to work. I do tho bring a separate set of clothes (shirt and pants), as even in the fall and spring I completely soak my shirt (probably because I wear a messenger bag).

Comment author: bbleeker 21 January 2017 02:28:34PM 0 points [-]

Just happened to see this old comment. Sure enough, the cycling got skipped more and more often, until I just forgot about it completely. I really need to find something fun to do to get myself moving again.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 07 March 2013 05:20:14PM 12 points [-]

And commuting is apparently just fairly horrible in general.

Comment author: ciphergoth 09 March 2013 08:51:56AM 19 points [-]

Practically all of the discussion I can find about this is very US-centric, and so conflates "commuting" with "commuting by car". A long public transport commute that was ideal in other ways (train journey, no changes, door-to-door, frequent trains with seats, signal) could be much preferable to a shorter drive; I use my commute to read, look at my TODO list, catch up with blogs etc.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 February 2015 10:42:56AM 0 points [-]

Euro here, I used to enjoy commuting by car more than by subway now:

  • personal space
  • safety from potentially aggressive travellers, the annoying drunks who try to yell at people on the subway
  • it is an exciting activity to drive as long as you can find tricky routes with little traffic, these will be usually narrow roads where you don't even need to exceed the 50 km/h speed limit to make it feel risky and exciting and if you do, no police there.
  • feeling middle class, not mixing with the "proles"
  • more freedom in choosing how to dress, less having to take the weather into account
  • resisting the temptation to drink alcohol right after work, at least starting later in the evening
  • music without annoying earplugs
  • hands-free phone calls, my dad used to be excellent at it, he was an entrepreneur and phoned through his whole 45 min long commute, by the time everybody arrived to the office every employee and subcontractor was briefed, problems reported back, things were in motion. This way the commute is worktime.
  • having useful stuff with me all the time in the trunk

And now I am nostalgic for my car. We live car-free now because it is very expensive, €80 mandatory insurance a month etc. but sure as hell I would want to have it back.

Comment author: gjm 25 February 2015 01:53:21PM 2 points [-]

I would not recommend combining this

an exciting activity [...] tricky routes [...] feel risky and exciting

with this

hands-free phone calls

In fact, I think there's good evidence that hands-free phone calls are considerably more distracting than drivers tend to think.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 07 March 2013 07:30:35PM 11 points [-]

Alternative: Prioritize the ability to telecommute over raw salary, if you're in an industry where you're able. Consider the time spent traveling when considering jobs.

If you can telecommute, also consider that you can live in a different state. Your paycheck can go further still when you aren't paying income taxes.

Comment author: twanvl 07 March 2013 11:44:32PM 14 points [-]

Telecommuting might not be the best thing for everyone. At home I have less social interaction and more distractions.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 10 March 2013 03:43:52AM 6 points [-]

I've heard that telecommuting makes promotion less likely. If so, then you need to consider more than your current salary.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 11 March 2013 03:56:45AM 11 points [-]


What, you want to put me in a position where I'm responsible for what a bunch of -programmers- do? Did I do something wrong?

Comment author: beoShaffer 07 March 2013 07:34:30PM 2 points [-]

Also, consider remote work.

Comment author: passive_fist 10 March 2013 12:32:23AM 1 point [-]

Our neighborhood is a residential one that's fairly close to the main city center. Our streets are almost always lined with rows and rows of cars of people, many of whom come from distant parts of town, park their car here (to avoid ridiculously expensive parking fees in the city), and then take a 30-40 minute bus to their workplace.

Now I used to think that my 30 minute commute was bad. The buses come just twice an hour and are never on time, there's always traffic, and half the time you wind up standing. But these folks just astound me. I just can't imagine doing that each day - driving to a residential neighborhood, finding a parking space, then enduring the horrible public transit system, then doing the exact same thing in reverse to get back home. I hope they're getting paid tremendously well.