A Possible Way to Achieve All Your Goals: Capturing and Delivering Value at the Margin – Version 1.0 (alpha draft)

(This is super-intense and doesn’t take privilege into account, and life is hard, and everyone is fighting their private, terrible battles, and maybe this only works in first-world and zeroth-world countries, and maybe sometimes only rarely then. But “lots” of people do stuff like this, cf. lifestyle businesses and beyond. This is an insanely huge topic, and here is the first, meditationstuff spin on it.)

(Alpha draft: This is still terse and cryptic.)


Below I’ll be using extremely individualistic and agenty language. But, I want to first acknowledge the other side of this: Part of what you value probably includes fulfilling some of your duties, responsibilities, obligations, commitments, promises, etc., to some of the people, organizations, and institutions in your life. Integrating “agency” and “communion,” such that acts for the self and acts for others are in harmony, self and other in the same breath, the same stroke, is something that has no skill ceiling. There is no limit to how good you can get at that. And so we begin.


Consider what you

a) value [0]

as differentiated from

b) desires, urges, impulses, hopes, wishes, dreams, fantasies, goals,

additionally as opposed to

c) could-not-give-less-fucks and kill-it-with-fire.

Categories (a) and (b) tightly interact, e.g. desires probably have value more often than not, but the differences matter [1, 2]. You can consider what you value explicitly, e.g. with freewriting, and you should also devote or steal intermittent series of mind moments for implicitly exploring value and valuing amidst work and play. Continue to refine your understanding of value, forever; there is no skill ceiling for the understanding of value and for understanding what is valuable to you yourself.

(If exploring value is terrifying, agonizing, soul-rending, blank emptiness, etc., consider working with tools such as Focusing, IFS, Coherence Therapy, etc. [3])

Values! What is love, power, sex, intimacy, service, compassion, beauty, communion, connection, friendship, dignity, benevolence, adventure, competence, mastery, excitement, charity, mutuality, mutual self-determination, tolerance, compassion… on your own terms, in your own words, fuck everyone and everything else, motherfuckers?



Live your values, motherfucker; destroy everything in your path in the service of your values [4].



You will encounter obstacles. You will need to create and acquire things to overcome these obstacles (thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, habits, writing, artifacts, copyrights, systems, knowledge, knowhow, relationships, money, hilarity, capital).



Capture that value that you created in STEP THREE and deliver it, at marginal cost, for a fee [5].

For example, you get good at writing complete things, relatively clearly. And, as clearly as you can, in the time you have, you write up how you solved the thing you solved, in STEP THREE, in a slightly more general way, so that it’s useful to more people than just you. And then you figure out how to get it to people who actually want it, and you figure out how to get something back for doing it.

Or, you fucking love programming video games, and you manage to extract software libraries from your games, and you figure out to license those libraries.

Or, you write your brains out because you love it. And you figure out how to get paid for some of it.

Ok. I get it.

The stuff I’m describing above is brutal. No one might care about your self-help stuff. Or, if you do mind-numbing programming for the man, you don’t have anything left at the end of the day to do the programming you actually enjoy or that gets you what you want. And you can only write for yourself so much after a day of technical writing about process widgets.

The key here is the word “marginal.” Marginal means a little bit extra. You go just a little bit beyond.

In this case, you go just a little bit beyond aiming directly at your values, to capture some of that value for other people.

You were going to do the thing anyway, the actual thing that got your closer to what you want. You had to. Because you’re going after what you want. And then you do just a little bit more.

That is, you solve some problem, and overcome some obstacle, or you make just a little progress, and then here’s this little thing you learned or this little tool you sketched. And you try to capture some of the value of that at marginal cost, like write it up. Just a little bit more work.

And, at first, of course, it’s NOT just a little bit more work:

You DON’T “just” write something up, because writing is too slow (for you), or you have no idea how to generalize what you did into something more people would want, or you don’t have a distribution system like a blog that gets at least a little traffic from real people, or you don’t know how to market your little software tool, or cleaning up the software tool and sticking it on the web and supporting it would take infinite effort, or you do slap it all together, and it’s just shit, and you wasted all this time, and nobody cares.

So be strategic, make little bets [6], incrementally advance the possible and plan ahead as best you can. Be fucking smart. This is your fucking life and you’re probably going to die so figure out how to figure out your figuring out so you can figure out your shit at the maximal edge of your strategic intelligence.



Because here’s what starts to happen. These little (or big) things you’re attempting to create and deliver, they’re lit within with the afterglow of your deepest cares and concerns. What you’re trying to share, rough around the edges–at the very center, the very seed of it, is a really real solution to a really real problem, however narrow. It’s not bullshit. And the more you strike at the heart of your concerns, the heart of your values, what you really actually, truly, deeply want, eventually in the same breath, eventually by the same stroke, creating these solutions from your struggles, these solutions take on the shape of what you actually did in a purer, more general, more accessible, more externally valuable form. People will put up with a huge amount of rough-around-the-edges crap if it actually, really, truly strikes at solving a real problem [7]. And it did for you. And, at marginal cost to you, you’re trying to expand the breadth and span of your solution so that it solves more than just your problems.

And it takes many attempts and you have to be fucking smart about it, but it starts to happen.

I’m not just talking about self-help stuff, here. You solve more and more of your personal stuff, and you start to gaze more and more out upon the world, because the path to what you want is now more out there than in here. And the field of your abilities expands and expands, always orbiting the target of aiming precisely at what you most want, on your own terms, in your own words. And you achieve things, and because you achieve things, you become hungrier for ever more bigger and beautifuller [sic] things. What do you want? All of it. The moon, the stars, world peace, that epic sexual fantasy.

And here’s what happens, now, out in the world, the domain of service and business and politics and whatever, the shape of your values, out upon the world–

You see, what used to be a marginal cost, this challenging extra work to capture and deliver value, through practice, it asymptotically approaches effortless, easy, painless–especially when you’re getting everything else you want and need at the same time. You see, you can get so good that bang stuff out with half your brain because you have bigger fish to fry, and it’s good enough to get the job done because you’re just that good. People want it, people seek it out, seek you out, people pay money for it. Because you’re world-fucking-class at this thing that you’re not necessarily super into, or maybe you are, but, in any case, it’s so quick and painless and it helps people; it just makes everything better, it makes the world turn more smoothly, in accordance with your values, and that feels good.

There is no skill limit to maximizing captured and delivered value while minimizing marginal cost. You can get better at this forever; the skill ceiling is at infinity, for less and less marginal cost to you, for greater and greater value to other people. There is no earthly limit as to how good you can get at this.

And the more value you create and deliver, to people who actually want it, the more you are renumerated without hardship to those who renumerate you, if you’re smart about it, and you can give away more and more for free because you care, if you’re into that sort of thing (and I hope you are).


STEP SIX (actually concurrent with all the others)

And, you get better and better at predicting what tools you’re going to need to create for yourself and when you’re going to need to create them: days out, weeks out, months out, years out. And, you get better and better at discerning what people want and need. And, you work to shape your value capturing–remember, at the margin of what you’re after for yourself, on your terms–in collaboration with other people, to give them what they want and to get what you want from them. And now you have allies.

And, the better you pick and coordinate with your allies, the more you can reduce the friction between what you want and what your allies want, such that the overlap between what you wanted to do anyway and how you can help your allies overlaps more and more. (No skill ceiling on this.)

And the overlap might never be perfect, but then everybody’s just doing this relatively painless, marginal, edge stuff that’s no problem for them and aiming at interrelated things overall, and of course lots of your values need other people (service, intimacy, connection, mutuality, group sex, megaprojects), and everyone’s enacting and expressing and fulfilling their values with and through each other.



  1. Know your values and know what’s gently fucking stupid (to you, you arrogant fuckface).
  2. Go after precisely what you want, all at once.
  3. Get stuck. Get unstuck.
  4. Put in a little extra effort to capture the essence of getting unstuck, and figure out how to get something back for doing that.
  5. At first it’s not just a little extra effort. So you practice until it is.
  6. You learn to predict what value you’ll capture and who will want it and what you’ll get back. And now you have allies.




[0] or what’s important to you, or what’s of (ultimate) concern

[1] “Discipline is remembering what you want.” http://deep.design/design-like-an-astronaut/

[2] The first few pages of this paper make it seem like it won’t be useful at all. And the whole paper is written in an older, challenging style. But, it powerfully and systematically explores the distinctions and interrelationships between value and desire.

Watson, Gary. “Free agency.” The Journal of Philosophy (1975): 205-220.


[3] https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/?s=focusing+IFS+coherence+therapy

[4] Alternatively, live Your Life as Art. (The book is… ok. The message is great.) Your Life as Art by Robert Fritz. http://www.amazon.com/Your-Life-Art-Robert-Fritz/dp/0972553606/

[5] http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/12/how-to-make-lots-of-money-during-a-recession/

[6] Sims, Peter. Little bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries. Simon and Schuster, 2013.


[7] http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2011/02/completion-vs-perfection/

random book reviews: psychology and phenomenology in science fiction and fantasy

I’m giving myself between fifteen minutes and forty minutes to do this, so it’s going to be shitty. I want to describe what I like, and what you might like, about a few written works. The goal is to do that in a way that doesn’t mischaracterize them and also doesn’t give anything away.

So, sweeping generalization time. Science fiction, speculative fiction, and even fantasy explore human potential in ways that both reflect upon the current times and also point towards future possibilities. This is by far not always true, but this tends to be at the expense of psychological sophistication. More awesome, less psychological sophistication.

More literary stuff is more likely to be perspectival, internal, psychologically complex, but again this is by far not always true.

Ideally, I like my awesome and my psychological sophistication at the same time.

I don’t know how I made this connection or whether it influenced my choice of books, but I’m aware of two psychologists-turned-fantasy-and science-fiction authors who are pretty great. I guess it’s not an accident that their works contain both psychological sophistication and awesome.

I claim that reading these works will exercise your perspective-taking skills more than the average science fiction or fantasy book, at least slightly increasing your range of what you can see and experience within yourself as well as potentially grasp within other people. And it will be fun.

The first work I want to mention is actually a series, specifically the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. Lukyanenko is a Russian psychologist-turned-science-fiction-and-fantasy author (child psychiatry and psychotherapy in his distant past?). The english translations or this particular series are excellent, by some dude who’s known for his Russian-to-English translations. You’ve got this trope I love, of a low-level analyst, generally intelligent, competent, and mature, who also has no idea what he’s doing, thrown into the field with minimal training. Think urban fantasy, vampires, romance, magic, secret, world-scale societies, locked in battle for millennia, light versus dark, with reasonable use of modern technology, and fairly evenly matched unimaginable power, with everyone trying to inherit the earth and reshape it with their values.

The world-building is dribbled out with deft strokes, you’re never beaten over the head with it, and along with the protagonist, you slowly come to understand the coherent, consistent rules that hold everything together and explain the current state of affairs (or do you?). The style reminds me a little bit of Diana Wynne Jones, where little details, throwaway lines, a couple sentences of description every once in a while, add up to extraordinarily vivid imagery, character implications, and a sense finely-graded, satisfyingly titrated, majestic scale, seen through one person’s eyes, who’s also trying to grasp the whole picture in the back of his head with every ounce of his brain.

And it’s just funny, and not in a campy way, in a psychologically realistic way. Most of the humor is psychological. This guy, this adult, amidst distinctly Russian bureaucracy, dealing with his “manager,” his colleagues, other “managers,” trying to not look like an idiot, trying to make executive decisions out in the field, when human lives are at stake and you’re walking amongst creatures, coworkers, superiors, and nonaligned operatives, who aren’t especially psychologically stable or unstable, who could turn you to ash.

And people have to deal with loss, and existential revelations, and relationships, and the realistic possibility of realistically [sic] becoming completely psychologically unhinged and dead after doing lots of damage to good people and maybe realizing you did it before you die. And spy-vs-spy action. I might even be talking it up too much. Anyway, the protagonist: the gears are whirring all the time in his head, he does realistic, in-character, psychological reasoning on himself and others,  and you feel like you could have a lots of long, really interesting, and funny conversations with the guy.

Ok, next!

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh. McIntosh has a Ph.D. in social psychology and has some research and teaching under his belt. The themes here are relationships and technology, the costs of post-scarcity, wealth, cryonics, sexploitation, power, body horror, and romance. The tone here is some genuinely unsettling horror, combined with characters struggling to understand the permutations and gradations of relationships and love. It’s terrifying, warm, funny, and over-the-top, bold strokes without being toooooo cartoonish, and story elements turn on tacit and explicit psychological struggles, sexism, classism, morality, powerlessness, and agency as characters wrestle with existential and emotional threats and try to figure each other out amidst lots of shiny surfaces.

Boom. Done. Perhaps more to follow with fiction that wrestles with phenomenology and identity in science-fictional and fantastical settings. Let me know if interested.

See also for non-fiction:



TL;DR Nutrition Recommendations v1.0 (Nutrition for people who don’t want to think about it AT ALL.)

  1. At Your Own Risk: I am not a doctor. This is not health advice. Use at your own risk. I do a more complicated version of all the below, for whatever that’s worth. But, if other things are messed up, more saturated fat will kill you. If you have kidney issues, more Potassium will kill you. If you have cancer, more glycine can make it worse. Too much iodine will mess you up. Most supplements, if overused or used in the wrong ratios, will shorten your lifespan. And so on and so forth. I can’t take all that into account, here, nor do I fully understand it. This is for entertainment purposes only. (You might like to look at this, too. I do not fully endorse this link or the reasoning behind it, either.)


  1. Micronutrients: Take one serving of each at the end of this document (pill/teaspoon/pinch), every weekday. Skip Sunday unless you have a large build. Skip Saturday and Sunday if you have a small build.


  1. Potassium: Use Lo Salt (=potassium+sodium) instead of normal table salt (=sodium only). Avoid salted prepared foods. Eat fruits and vegetables. (No one gets enough potassium. And, sodium isn’t bad for you; you need it. But, extra sodium makes not getting enough potassium worse. And, eating more saturated fat, as per below, speeds up potassium excretion.) [It’s worth it but not essential to try getting the iodized version.] http://www.amazon.com/LoSalt-Iodized-Salt-12-35-Ounce-Pack/dp/B005F3I8O2/


  1. Animal Saturated Fat: No one eats enough. For the faint-of-heart, eat lots and lots and lots of unsalted butter instead of vegetable oils. For the adventurous, fry with (and mix into carbs) beef tallow, lard, unsalted ghee, heavy whipping cream…


  1. Glycine: It’s a powder. It tastes sweet. Sprinkle it on/tap it out to taste. Because people don’t eat enough organ meats, bones, and cartilage. Don’t eat it if you have or are at risk for cancer. http://www.amazon.com/BulkSupplements-Pure-Glycine-Powder-Kilogram/dp/B00EOXU0MM/


  1. Exercise: Once per week, exercise hard enough to lose your appetite for 30 – 240 minutes afterwards. Especially at first, have food ready to go for as soon as you get hungry; then, eat as much as you want. Best exercise: repeated sprinting outside (be careful) or jumping rope. If your shins, back, or knees are messed up, use an elliptical machine, or jog up hills or climb stairs. (This gets way easier, way fast, if you do 1-5.)


  1. Timing: Don’t eat closer than three hours until bed time. Try skipping some meals on the weekends (not dinner). (This gets way easier, way fast, if you do 1-5.)


THE ~WEEKDAY [see number 2, above] MICRONUTRIENTS (in no particular order):


  1. New Chapter “Only One Multivitamin” (1 tablet) e.g. http://www.amazon.com/New-Chapter-Only-Multivitamin-Tablets/dp/B004X96JH2/
  2. Magnesium (1 tablet; 200mg/day) e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Now-Foods-Magnesium-Citrate-Tablets/dp/B000BV1O26/
  3. Choline (1 tablet; ~500mg/day) [ignore if you a few eggs that day] e.g. http://www.amazon.com/NATURES-WAY-Choline-500mg-Tablets/dp/B00024CRC8/
  4. Calcium (1 tablet; 500mg/day) e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Way-Calcium-Citrate-Capsules/dp/B000I4C7MW/
  5. Cod Liver Oil (1 teaspoon/day; for retinol and omega-3s;) e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Carlson-Norwegian-Cod-Liver-Lemon/dp/B003B3P4PO/

Main Coast Sea Seasonings Kelp Granules (one liberal pinch/shake per day; for iodine) e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Maine-Coast-Seasonings-Granules-1-5-Ounce/dp/B001EQ5FV8/ [Note to buyer: these last forever]

modulation and domination

[Regarding this post, someone asked about CO2 and the immune system. Here is my reply.]

I don’t know what the mechanisms are, but, yeah, my impression from not-well-supported Buteyko practitioner claims is that low CO2 = overactive immune system. I think I read this in the context of eczema and autoimmune diseases. I don’t know if this is true, but it’s plausible to me because low CO2 = generalized autonomic arousal. I can imagine that an overstimulated sympathetic system = overactive, over-general immune response. But, I can also imagine the exact opposite and lots of mechanistic qualifiers. I just don’t know off the top of my head.

I do put a bit of weight on Buteyko practitioner and teacher claims.


I have a lot of thoughts about when and whether to act on particular claims.

One thing to keep in mind is the concept of “modulation versus domination.” What I mean by this is that, yes, doing X might help with Y. That is modulation. But, doing Z might fix Y completely. That is “domination.” Furthermore, X might only help temporarily until homeostasis rebalances Y right back to where you don’t want it.

When I’m exploring interventions, and lots of people of people are recommending things, I try to separate out what’s wrong, what will move the needle temporarily (modulation), and what will move the needle permanently (domination). In other words, what’s the move that I can pick that will completely take my body out of this regime, possibly fixing a bunch of other stuff at the same time?

That’s really general, so, for example, I prefer experimenting with macronutritents to micronutrients. I prefer experimenting with micronutrients to experimenting with random plant extracts. I prefer upstream metabolic supplements to downstream metabolic supplements (i.e. I give my body more opportunities to make it’s own decisions on how to utilize whatever I ingested). I prefer full-body movements to single-joint movements. I prefer HIIT to Buteyko.

The above are generalizations, though. Sometimes you need the latter of all those cases above to give your body the first initial nudge. Sometimes you need to sequence little interventions to prepare your body for the big interventions.

I had to fix all sorts of little stuff in my muscles and joints, and I had to change my diet for energy and healing rate, before I could safely sprint. And, I had to do some initial Buteyko breathing so that I didn’t just continue to over-breathe during sprinting.

Sometimes the actual fix you should make is very counterintuitive or “remote” from where you think you should intervene, based your current understanding.

Like, a magnesium deficiency makes one more stressed out and stress can exacerbate all sorts of immune stuff (via causal links I haven’t looked into at this time). Sometimes someone will exercise, meditate, do breathing exercises, go see a therapist, and it all seems to work a little bit, for a while–when maybe instead they can just take a magnesium supplement and maybe eat some more protein or something–and that just solves it, without all that other expensive and time-consuming stuff. Basics first.

In any case, I think about homeostasis, regression to the mean, hormesis, positive and negative feedback loops, upstream and downstream in metabolic pathways, metabolic regulatory cycles, biochemical mechanism chains… And what will actually move the needle, and what do I need to do to set things up so I can move the needle…

my method first pass (for discovering mental moves and sentinel phenomenology)

[this is not well edited]

Ok, so I’ve been reflecting on what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Here is one way I make discoveries and generate content. This requires access to to a university network, so you can download paywalled papers via google scholar, scopus, or your favorite literature navigation tool.

First, no easy task, have a thing you’re trying to figure out. Everything I’m describing in this post is iterative. It’s a spiral, with lots of backtracking. You don’t need to know what it is; you’re gesturing at it you’re trying to figure it out, you’re especially trying to nail down the exact thing or collection of things you want.

Nailing down one thing, let alone a collection of things, where you don’t quite know what you’re looking for, or what’s real, or where to look, is really hard. You’re attempting to keep track, in real time, of a shifting collection of mental moves, ideas, expectancies, possibilities, inchoate hypotheses and theories, and so forth. And doing that, in real time, often interacts in challenging ways with the thing you’re trying to figure out in the first place. Often, you’re not even trying to figure out something phenomenologically in the first place, per se. You’re *trying to solve a problem,* e.g. a personal bottleneck or a life situation issue, and you’re exploring a phenomenological route to doing so. That is, the problem you’re trying to solve doesn’t necessarily do much to constrain your theoretical or phenomenological investigation. You just have a faint inkling that this is the route to go, looking around in your head as opposed to (so far) trying to make a specific change in the external world.

Anyway, all the above is hard. So you outsource and iteratively bootstrap. You gesture at a thing, you try to come up with words to describe that thing. They can definitely be “common” words, but you try to figure out what they call it or call similar stuff in the literature. If you’re exploring stuff around goals, you don’t just type “goals” into google. You get the Huffington Post. You don’t even type in semi-technical stuff like “implementation intentions,” because that got into the media, so there’s too much noise (and it’s kind of a misleading, not-that-great construct, anyway, in my opinion). So, instead, you type in “goal pursuit,” “goal disengagement,” “prospective memory,” and so forth. You look for the technical concepts and words researchers are using in their research. It takes time to build up knowledge of the right words to use. Again, this is a spiral, with lots of backtracking.

What you do, is you mix those technical words, that get you in the ballpark, with additional words that try to nail down the actual thing you’re looking for. (I don’t know, say, “intention,” and “phenomenology,” in this example.) These additional words don’t have to be technical; you don’t know the technical words, yet, because this is a new thing you’re investigating.

Additionally, you dream up distinctions. “Choose,” isn’t going to get your anywhere, but, “choose, decision, deliberation, decide, choice,” googled for all at once might get you somewhere. What’s happening here is you’re potentially bringing up philosophy or research where people have realized distinctions are actually important and are actually trying to untangle a phenomenon.

Some stuff comes up, and then you start skimming madly to figure out what the technical terms are. Stuff will usually use common terms with technical terms mixed in, and you’ll start picking up additional language and ideas to search for.

I typically do these searches in google, google scholar, google books, and amazon. I keep track of all potentially useful papers, urls, and searches I’ve made in one long, semi-chronological text document, that’s backed up. Any more structure, and you’re less likely to do it. I build up a bajillion tabs while I’m doing this. And, when my computer runs out of ram is when, I start siphoning stuff off into this text file.

Now, I have some leads, and some papers (and books) that weren’t behind a paywall. Skimming the introductions of the papers, they start indicating additional references and how they fit together. So now, I’m also going through reference lists, looking at titles or keeping in mind the context in which papers were referred to in the introductory citations.

Now, I go into a tool like scopus, where I can go backwards or forwards through the literature. What that means is you can quickly get list of what papers where cited in a paper, and you can quickly get a list of the majority of papers in the future that have cited that paper so far. You can also just look at raw citation counts and sort by that. Sometimes this is an indicator of quality, and sometimes not.

By this point, you are possibly starting to recognize names of scientists and philosophers coming up over and over again in the area that you’re drilling down into. You’ll also recognizing names of researchers who just haven’t been useful, over and over again, even though their stuff seems like it should be useful.

Anyway, now you’re opening up a bajillion tabs, traveling backwards and forwards in time, along many branches. You also might be doing more general searches in scopus using boolean algebra (You do know how to do exact and exclusionary searches in google, right? So useful.) This can be both less and more useful than doing searches in something like google, because the searching is much more literal. This can be very helpful or less useful, depending on how much noise (endless reams of shitty research) is in that field.

In those bajillions of tabs (I’ve set up everything to show as many results as possible on a single page, 100 in google and 200 in scopus). I’m skimming hundreds, at times even thousands of paper titles, expanding the abstracts when it seems useful.

While I’m doing all this, I’m keeping in mind “exactly” what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, rather the cloud of phenomena I’m gesturing at. Otherwise your mind goes numb or your start going down rabbit holes. Stick to your purpose! Though, your purpose will refine and clarify, maybe, as you do this. You keep track of papers, searches, and leads in your text document, so you know where you’ve been and where you’re going. Otherwise, you just get lost.

So, what’s the POINT of all this? One in like 10,000-something researchers will have thought really hard about a particular construct. They’ll have written a really great paper or done a really great experiment to nail a particular phenomenon to the wall. It typically won’t be exactly the construct or concept or pattern-in-reality that you want. But, they’ll have put in hundreds if not thousands of hours into wrestling something from reality. Again, this is a 1-in-10,000 researcher. They *care.* And/or they’re *really smart.* And/or, something. But, they’ve done something, out in the world, with apparatus and/or team and/or single-minded intensity, that you can’t possibly compete with in your armchair. And, you’ve found two or these people, or ten, and, now, their goal wasn’t exactly your goal, but now you’re lossily, fuzzily, thousands upon thousands of hours smarter than you were, than you could possibly otherwise be.

And you get better at this; better at sorting through what’s out there, better at honing in on what you want, better at figuring out who’s just way better than other people in their field, better at discerning who *they* think is really good, and so forth.

And you get better at thinking and reasoning with the sum of human knowledge. There’s so much noise, so much crap. Years ago, I would get lost in endless, seemingly promising stuff, where it seemed reasonable and it all fit together at length. But it wasted hours, days, months, and it never really cashed out. It just wasn’t that good, too boxy, not powerful, just not that theoretically good.

But, all of that noise, it’s shot through with brilliance and gems, material created by people who spent thousands of hours or decades creating it, who cared about getting it right, getting at what’s really, truly going on. One person in 10,000, one person in 20,000. And *you* can get better and better at finding this stuff and making use of it. You can learn to tear apart a paper or a book in literally *seconds* to minutes instead of hours, getting everything you need to leapfrog to what you’re actually after.

You can weave it into your own thought processes and experiments and conjectures and ideas and forays and gesturing and playing and discussing and writing, and, well, stand on the shoulders of giants. Hundreds and thousands of hours in the lab, in the trenches, in the archives—you’ll never recapitulate what they did in full. Sometimes you can bypass it, but, more likely, you’ll need use what they’ve created to do what they did in minutes or hours instead of decades. It’s shocking how hard it is to get to the simplicity on the far side of complexity all by yourself. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll want to outsource as much as you possibly can; or at least I did. It’s so hard to get something right and then know that you’re right. And then you realize how insanely valuable the literature is, if you can only figure out what’s crap and what is brilliant, gratitude-inducing genius.

At some point in your spiraling, everyone will just be wrong. Or, no one will have done exactly what you’re after in exactly the way you’re after it. And you’ll want to put something together that’s entirely original for your entirely original purpose. And then you’ll have to reason, experiment, and write (and that’ll spark new language and ideas which you’ll inject into the process above). But, eventually you’ll have to reason, experiment, and write *a lot* to keep moving forward. But you’ll keep deftly dipping into the literature, to be able to nail down thirteen reality-patterns in a row, in the span of three weeks, that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to figure out in multiple lifetimes.





deep breathing can be bad for you, viz. buteyko breathing, having to pee all the time, sleep apnea, etc.

[Edit: If you are thirsty/peeing all the time, also get tested for diabetes.]

Poorly written brain dump between low and moderately good quality; I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, etc.:

Normal breathing is actually triggered by buildup of CO2 in the blood. (I am fairly sure gasping and abdominal spasms are triggered by very high CO2 buildup. And, a particular kind of rapid breathing is triggered by chronic low oxygen. Mountain climbers do this thing where they involuntarily alternate in cycles of fast and shallow breathing because both CO2 and oxygen are weird up high. People who hyperventilate in order to hold their breath underwater are at risk of passing out from lack of oxygen—oxygen runs out before CO2 buildup demands taking a breath.)

Low blood CO2 stimulates the nervous system, high CO2 depresses the nervous system. CO2 levels regulate a bunch of stuff—it shouldn’t get too low. If blood CO2 gets too low, you automatically pass out so your body can take over breathing again.

Chronic low blood CO2 does all sorts of weird stuff to your kidneys, immune system, muscle tone, and presumably a bunch of other stuff. Chronic low CO2 is one cause of sleep apnea: if breathing is too deep or fast, too much CO2 leaves the lungs and then blood CO2 falls. Breathing doesn’t trigger for a while and oxygen levels fall. Also, throat muscle tone collapses causing an obstructed airway. Then gasping and waking ensues and the cycle repeats.

If you have dreams where you’re underwater, can’t breath, or your throat has closed, or you wake up gasping, or if you wake up breathing rapidly with a fast, noticeable heartbeat, this is you. If you can’t sleep on your back, not as strong evidence that this is you.

Slightly less bad, low CO2 tolerance causes head turning behavior and twitching. (CO2 buildup is one of the reasons some meditators have weird body movements.) This is mostly harmless, except at night, because that head-turning behavior can wake you up over and over again, preventing you from reaching deep sleep and staying there.

A bunch of kidney functions are partially regulated by blood gas levels. If you have to pee all the time, during the day or at night, or if water goes right through you, or if you’re always thirsty, you have low CO2 tolerance.

Mouth breathing versus nose-breathing, and nasal congestion, are regulated by blood CO2 levels. If you find yourself mouth-breathing a lot or can’t breath through your nose or you mouth doesn’t stay closed automatically, with tongue lightly touching the roof of your mouth, then you have low CO2 tolerance. Also, the thickness or thinness or real-time mucous production, as well as nasal turbinate size are regulated by CO2 levels.

People who sit for long periods of time, people who sing, people who have a job where they’re talking all the time (teacher), people who are chronically stressed, people who have learned to chronically “deep breath” because of meditation or qigong are all at risk for reduced CO2 tolerance.

Re chronically stressed, when you get emotional, your breathing rate and depth increase in preparation for physical activity. If you get emotional without getting physically active, and you do this all the time, your body improperly adapts to regulating blood CO2 to be too low.

You can see what high blood CO2 feels like by “breathing as shallow and quiet as a mouse.” Carefully maintain a VERY SLIGHT air hunger and don’t yawn, gasp, or sigh. At between three and five minutes you’ll feel weird and glassy-eyed. Stop. You’ve entered a high CO2 state. (Midway through, you’ll typically also find that one or both nostrils feel open and you can breath easily through your nose. So that’s a great trick.)

Human CO2 tolerance (with respect to breathing rate and depth) is highly adaptable. The procedure above, done very gently over months, can retrain your CO2 tolerance to be higher. Overall sleep will improve. This process is long and finicky and can cause very unpleasant symptoms. Less is more; barely knowing whether you’re doing anything is best. You can also trigger panic attacks or asthma attacks if you’re susceptible.

What I find even more effective is high-intensity interval training (elliptical, bike, sprinting, jump rope, etc.. I used to do Buteyko breathing (a variant is described above), combined with high-intensity interval training. I think they were important to synergize, at first. Now I just do high-intensity interval training. If I don’t do HIIT at least once every five-seven days, a few of the symptoms described above, personally experienced, start to return. HIIT spikes CO2 levels in a way that the body is prepared to deal with, and positive adaptations occur over months to years.

My suspicion is that high-intensity interval training might or might not protect against poor room ventilation somewhat (or a lot).

Re HIIT or Buteyko breathing, the body has a rapid response and slower response (kidneys, over about three days). The first few days are jerky and unpleasant, with symptoms potentially dramatically coming and going, as regulatory systems up regulate, down regulate and hand off smoothly, or not. (E.g. sleep deeply and then wake up horribly gasping.) Ditto at different points during the process. FIN

Oh yeah also, CO2 causes vasodilation, so if you have high blood pressure then the sort of stuff above will be very useful, too. FINFIN

Oh yeah, so panic attacks: CO2 gets a little higher than normal, poor tolerance triggers alarm, start breathing faster in order to escape the caveman cave that has the “bad air,” vigilance and interoception and general searching for danger increase, reduced CO2 in blood causes tingling extremities and other physical sensations, those sensations get interpreted as something terrible happening inside body, start breathing faster, get lightheaded because body wants you to cut it the fuck out, get even more scared, experience DOOM [more stuff and connections here], eventually calm down, repeat, etc.

So the stuff above will reduce incidence of anxiety and panic attacks, too, though will potentially trigger them at first, too. FINFINFIN