Creation vs Consumption

The Pareto principle is the general idea that most things can be broken into an 80/20 split – that is, you can gain 80% of the benefits of doing something in 20% of the time and vice versa.  The actual percentages don’t matter – the general principle is what’s important: a small portion of the work takes up most of your time, but conversely, a large portion of the work is done can be done in a relatively small portion of time. This principle also holds for the producer/consumer divide, which is as follows: for communities, most of the work done to sustain the community is produced by a small portion of users, while the rest of the community passively receive the benefits of membership.

Here’s a more concrete example: Reddit power users. Power users are the producers taken to the next level: they generate new posts and report things to different subreddits to increase user engagement in the form of upvotes and comments. You also have reddit users who post, but only on occasion. Then you have users who only consume – people who only ever leave comments (I fall in this category) and lurkers who never even comment.

When I apply this distribution to my own life, I realize I spend most of my time as a passive consumer. In fact, it seems like modern society is pushing people in that direction further and further. It may not be an intentional broader strategy, but the influx of various media streams call on users to consume more and more, which naturally leaves less time to produce. Social media naturally provides easy paths for people to mindlessly consume – the endless loop of facebook posts harkens to the model, and the constant stream of new posts on reddit also can facilitate the content consumption cycle. Same goes for snapchat, instagram, etc. Then, there’s competing media companies like Netflix/every other streaming site that gives viewers an infinite stream of videos to spend your time. Netflix in particular is conducive to the consumption format, releasing shows in a way that facilitates binge watching by dropping all the episodes at once when a show is released. I don’t think this is a big deal, as the episodic nature of shows is a holdover from television days anyway, but Netflix is clearly aware of the binge watching facet of their distribution strategy and in fact encourages it.

Anyways, my point is, even though my only outlet of production is this blog, and I barely write as it is, I kind of realize how difficult it is to produce things. I can spend anywhere from 1-2 hours on a simple stream of consciousness blog post, but if I decide to carefully go over a topic and do some edits, a post can take me several hours. On the other hand, it only takes me like 5 minutes to read my post. Clearly, the work that goes into consuming is nowhere on the level of actually producing the work in question. When I think of all the books that have been written, TV shows made, movies produced, reddit posts created, etc. I think, “Damn, that shit must have taken forever.” Anyways, I’m going to try to start producing more.

Internet White Whales

I’m writing about this to hopefully get it off my chest – I’m beginning to loose faith in ever finding one of my white whales. For those unfamiliar, a white whale is the concept of a highly sought after item that has long been out of reach of a person. The prototypical example being Ahab and Moby Dick, the namesake of the white whale. The operative concept being the desire for this item growing over time as it remains continuously out of reach.

Now, there’s a huge spectrum of white whales, and different categories. On the extreme end, it can be something akin to a person with a missing family member who’s held out hope for years, or decades, of reuniting with this person. On the opposite spectrum, you have more trivial things like foods or brands that remind people of their childhoods or of home. There was even a story on NPR about a guy who wanted to recreate a childhood brand of cookies that was very similar to an Oreo.

As for categories, this is a variation of the spectrum: like I said, food stuffs is a popular white whale category. The taste of home is a big one you see a lot in media. Think of the ending of Ratatouille. Another big one today is the internet. With the tremendously short-lived half life of web sites and internet links today, internet white whales abound. Due to the inherent instability and cost of web servers in the long run, it’s unlikely that any particular web site or piece of content will be accessible even a decade from now, unless that content makes someone money. Also, because of the constant information overload of new content being produced on daily basis, older data becomes harder to find as well. It becomes harder to find things as they age on the internet – that’s essentially a fact. Take a look at torrent sites – the number of sharers goes down proportionally to the age of the link. With these factors, it’s likely that most people browsing the web for extended periods of time probably have a few internet white whales of their own.

Which leads to my main point: my own internet white whale. Years ago, I viewed a pornographic video of a farmer or rancher’s daughter having mutual intercourse with her father’s employees, a group of farm hands. It was an interracial video, a mix of black and white farmhands. From what I recall, it was dated even when I watched it, quite possibly a retro porn video from the 90’s. While I didn’t think too much of the video at the time, I confess, it’s stayed in the back of my mind for quite a while now. I’ve spent more than a few hours fruitlessly searching on many a porn site. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate the video since.

One element that made it so memorable to me was the sense of single minded belonging in the group, all in the mutual goal of fucking this girl senseless. What crystallized as a white whale for me was the following moment: at one point in the video, two of the guys are changing positions – a white cowboy swaps out black cowboy can penetrate her. As they’re swapping, the white man utters: “Git ‘er, black snek”. The sense of camaraderie and cooperation emanating from this video astounded me. I could visualize the verisimilitude of the scenario: this is a group of coworkers who mesh so well together, that for them, they truly don’t see color. Not that it isn’t there – as the farmhand acknowledges his peer’s blackness – it’s that it’s nothing more than the color of the man’s skin. They had such a tight knit bond that they felt comfortable being naked and having an orgy together. It wasn’t as if it was something done in silent embarrassment, either – it was an environment where the group was in such harmony with their egos that this man could feel comfortable encouraging his coworker to fuck the shit out of this girl with all sincerity.

I feel as time has gone by, I’ve probably begun viewing this memory with rose tinted glasses. Unfortunately, as I’ve never encountered the video again, I’ll never know how close to reality my imagination captured the situation. Such is the case with all white whales, I suppose.

Interviewing: Hard as Balls?

The answer may surprise you!

 

I’m prepping to get a new developing gig. I heard of these interview services, where you’re matched up with another developer in search of a job to do technical interviews. I figured it’d be good practice before having to do the real thing. How was it? In the words of the immortal Egg Shen,

 

Totally bombed it. I’m glad it was only a practice interview, because I would have gotten an immediate rejection. What’s more, I realized how much I struggle not only with technical questions, but live interviewing. The difficulty of the question was magnified tenfold simply by virtue of the fact that there was another person on the end of my screen watching me while I worked.

It reminds me of martial arts – I’d been taking some kickboxing classes, and thought I was improving in terms of technique. I’m not going to lie, I felt like I was becoming more badass. Then, I tried sparring for the first time. We were doing kicks only, which made me feel better because at least I wouldn’t get my nose broken. I still couldn’t do shit, though. Keep in mind, the other guy was also an amateur, and we were going as light as possible – we weren’t trying to kill each other, but I realized how hard it is to actually fight a living being. Someone who’s moving and throwing is much harder than a heavy bag. I had the same revelation when going from practicing on a heavy bag to moving on mitts – form and technique go out the window straight away. You have to adapt to higher levels of stress that mock the real thing as close as possible. With that in mind, I feel like my shit interview today was a win in disguise – that was a bomb that didn’t go into production, if you will.

That leads me to my next point – not only is performing under pressure difficult, it’s also hard to accept criticism. You have to be vulnerable enough to open yourself up to accepting your flaws. That’s a lot to swallow to try to get a job. Having said that, I do think it’s helpful and necessary, so I’ll keep going at it. Hopefully, I can hit a point where I become merely mediocre and pass most average interviews.

Read by Learning

There’s this manga series I like to read, but for whatever reason, the translation group stopped releasing English scans of the series. I can’t read Japanese, but I did find Chinese translations. However, my Chinese ability is a bit rudimentary. To get around this, I use Google Translate to interpret phrases and characters I’m unfamiliar with.

Here’s my strategy: translate the whole phrase and see if it makes sense. Then, I’ll pick out words and translate it as is to see if it can be interpreted in other ways as well. Google Translate has to choose one interpretation for a sentence which might not be accurate, as it might not have the context for certain words.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chinese, there are several methods for keyboard input. I use two. The first is pinyin. Pinyin is a romanized typing system for Chinese. Once you learn the system, you can figure out the pronunciation and the tone of the word. This is great for learners because Chinese characters otherwise have no inherent way to distinguish the pronunciation method or intonation. If you’re following, then this question should come up: If I’m reading a comic with Chinese characters and I don’t understand the meaning, how do I look it up? I can’t type up words I don’t know, after all. That’s where the second input system comes in: handwriting.

When it comes to writing Chinese characters, the order of the strokes matter. There’s also some general guidelines for writing them – the best to remember is to start top down, left to right. There’s also categories of strokes, which leads to familiarity with patterns over time. Therefore, when writing characters on my phone, the general quality of my handwriting doesn’t matter too much as long as I follow the stroke order. This is great because I have shit writing. Now, for new words, you might wonder how I can figure out the stroke order if it really matters that much. As stated earlier, there are some general guidelines you can follow – starting top to bottom, left to right. This guideline isn’t true 100% of the time, but it is true about 80% of the times. You can generally remember the patterns for which this isn’t the case. Second, many characters are often composed of simpler characters, called radicals. Radicals are kinda like the building blocks for many other characters. They are words that have meaning, but when used in other characters, they can occasionally give you a hint on the new character. The included radical can imply either a similar meaning or pronunciation. Also, once you become more familiar with the most common radicals, you can decompose most characters (or large portions of the characters) into their constituent radicals. Learning vocabulary no longer becomes an exercise of remembering whole new characters, but combinations of old characters to form new ones.

Here’s the system as a whole: I don’t understand some words, I write it in Google Translate. Translate gives the meaning and also the pinyin meaning of the characters, which will allow me to incorporate new vocabulary in my speech as well. For phrases that come up often, I’ll learn it over time and get a better feel for colloquial language.

The biggest problem with this method is for comics like the one I’m reading now that uses a lot of domain specific jargon – the language I’m learning might not be that helpful for everyday use. This method might be pretty good for series that involve more mundane topics though. Slice of life, etc.

Fix My Shit

I’ve been skimming my past blog posts, and it’s the damnedest thing – I noticed my editing is horrendous. Tons of typos, weird word omissions, and in one particular case, it felt like a whole paragraph was lopped off somewhere – I just stopped writing mid-sentence and moved on. I’ve got some ideas about why this happens:

One, I either don’t proofread or I skim. Makes sense why these errors would make it through.

Two, on the occasions that I do proofread, I still miss stuff. Sometimes, when I read sentences in my head, my mind will automatically do the mental mapping for the concepts – that is, I know where I’m going in my writing, so I naturally fill in the blanks. Even when there’s a glaring typo, it gets passed over. There’s a similar concept I read about where people can generally understand words within some degree of spelling error as long as the first and last letter is correct.

Three, even when I do catch errors, I mess up the editing. There’s various ways in which I edit:

  • Simple typographical errors
  • Sentence structure/grammatical errors
  • Rephrasing concepts

With the first, I can fix my errors easily. But with the second and third, I’ll add in new content, but also restructure existing content. What happens is I don’t do a second pass to see if the fixes integrate into the old stuff. Or even if I do make a second pass, I’ll then make some more edits that break the structure again. Basically, I don’t do enough concluding passes. Having said that, it’s kind of a hassle to go to each post and hunt for these errors, because I have to reread each post again to fix it, and then do another pass to confirm my fixes are right. I guess what I’m saying is, someone (not me) should invent a testing framework for writing.

Life Goals Reevaluation, December 2017 Edition

Ooof, it’s been about… 4 months since my last post? I’d already been posting less frequently too, so not a good look. Well, what’s done is done. Might as go for something hefty while I’m back: Seeing how much I accomplished this year. Also makes sense to do another reevaluation since my July post, since it’s the end of the year. Also, it’s the demarcation point for me moving countries.

Low hanging fruit

  • Lose weight (5-10 pounds) ( I say low hanging fruit, but I’d guess trying to drop this weight for good would take a few months at least to permanently adjust my diet to reduce calorie intake) – Surprisingly enough, I hit this goal and then some. I started doing BJJ since I’ve moved to China and I’ve lost like 20 pounds since then. I don’t track it too closely anymore, but judging by the mirror, I haven’t regained the weight yet. I could probably lose more if I paid more attention to my diet, too.
  • Establish emergency savings fund – This one is a no go. I’m currently living off my savings while I’m studying abroad, so I’m doing the opposite of establishing a savings fund.  My money’s slowly running out!
  • Keep blogging on a weekly basis – Er…. whoops. Let’s see if I can bring this one back on track. I’ll shoot for a minimum of one blog post a week, much less strict than before.

Ambitious/Long term goals

  • Learn to play an instrument or sing – No go.
  • Learn to draw – I tried working on this a bit: I started on this drawing series but never got past drawing lines. However, to be fair, my line drawing abilities are way better than they were before. The secret is to draw from the shoulder, apparently.
  • Publish a book – I haven’t even attempted to do this one.
  • Keep blogging on a near-daily basis – See above. Near daily might be shooting a bit too high, but I guess since it’s a long term goal it’s a good idea to try to aim higher.
  • Learn a new language – I’ve made some decent progress towards this one. I’m currently studying at a Chinese university to learn Mandarin. Having said that, I kinda half assed it by the end of the semester and stopped showing up to classes. But judging by my own understanding, I’d say overall my Chinese has improved by a bit since moving here.
  • Live in a foreign country (Though it could also be relatively short term – I could easily uproot my life any time within the upcoming months to the next year if I quit my job) – Boom. Hit this one. Currently living in China. Nice place. Considering checking out other places as well before I settle back down in the US.
  • Lose weight (40-50 pounds) – See above goal. I’m about at the half way mark. It was a lot easier than I expected, because I didn’t make any lifestyle change in terms of diet to lose weight. The problem with this, however, is my weight will only stay off as long as I keep doing BJJ. The next phase to lose weight is to amend my diet.That one’s a bit more long term in vision for sure. Ideally, I want to start cooking regularly, so diet changes will be as simple as cooking a different meal.
  • Own a home – Currently not a priority.
  • Run the Iditarod – Currently not a priority.
  • Start my own business – Currently not a priority. I still think this would be interesting to try, though. Most achievable while I have free time and lack of other things tying me down like a mortgage/kids/marriage/etc.
  • Ability to do sik flips™ (This is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do, but it was on the back burner because I never did anything to progress towards this goal.) I think if I wanted to break this down, the first step on the path would be to start losing weight. Second, which would also complement weight loss, is picking up regular exercises that would be conducive to doing flips. – Haven’t made any progress. However, I do think the first step to being able to achieve sik flips™ is hitting a more ideal weight target, so I’ve indirectly made some progress towards this goal. Maybe if I hit around 180 I can start practicing.
  • Dance, maybe? This one kinda came out of left field for me. I read an internet post about tango being popular in my area, so that might be something I pick up for the sake of socialization and as a way to get out of the house. Plus, it’s always good to have diverse interests. It’s not something I feel strongly about now, but it’s good to keep an open mind. I might end up really liking it. – Haven’t made progress.
  • Pick up a sport. This one may or may not help with the flipping. I’m interested in picking up BJJ or some kind of combat sport like Muay Thai. I’ve actually been pretty on and off on this. I used to go to a sports fitness class, but I quit at some point because I got too lazy to go. – Hit this one. I’ve been attending a BJJ class fairly regularly, probably about three times a week on average. Actually, I stopped going for maybe the past two weeks, so I should probably pick this one back up.
  • Improve public speaking. Maybe go to Toastmasters? – I haven’t been to toastmasters, but I’ve been getting some indirect practice with this. I’ve been talking to strangers a lot more in order to improve my small talk. I’d say I’ve somewhat become more comfortable talking in group settings and breaking the ice now.
  • Grab a bag of corn nuts and bust a nut – This goes without saying.

I’ve got one more goal to add:

  • By end of 2018, I’ll have gone on twelve dates. I choose twelve because it’s one a month. Relatively low, but enough that I can’t just try to wait it out and cram them in at December. I’ve been out of the dating game for a long time now, but I recently went on a date and it wasn’t a complete disaster (besides the girl bringing in her guy friend to accompany her… hmm, this actually sounds pretty bad. I guess it was a bad date. Well, more like it transitioned from being a date to more of a friend’s outing. So unexpected, but still was a fun night.)

Life Goals Reevaluation, June 2017 Edition

A while back, I wrote some blog posts about my life goals.

An important part of reaching goals is maintaining accountability. So I’m going to take a look back and see what my goals were, how far along I got, and reevaluating my priorities. It’s possible my priorities have shifted over time. After all, when I was in college, my priority was finding a stable, well paying job. I found that job, but now that I’ve achieved it, I realize this isn’t really as important to me as finding a job I can actually stand. I’m more than willing to take a significant pay cut to find something I’ll look forward to doing every day. Without further ado, here’s a list of goals I set for myself in March:

  • Lose weight (5-10 pounds) – No go.
  • Establish emergency savings fund – I have a pretty good savings fund established, enough for probably six months + worth of living expenses. However, because I’m leaving my job, I’ll need to live off of this fund for the time being. +1 for hitting this one, though.
  • Keep blogging on a weekly basis – Ehhhhh. I missed the mark pretty far. I made it on about a biweekly schedule, which isn’t ideal but at least I’m still semi regular. This is the one I think I can accomplish most realistically in a short term time frame.

Long Term Goals

  • Learn to play an instrument or sing – No Progress. I have this harmonica that’s been sitting around, but I haven’t touched it at all. I might try picking this one up in the mid-term future, i.e. in the range of 3-5 months down the line. Low priority.
  • Learn to draw – I totally forgot about this. Low priority
  • Publish a book – I don’t do any writing at all, besides these blogs. I think blogging counts as incremental progress towards publishing a book, even though they’re really orthogonal practices. However, popular blogs seem to always result in pushing an ebook, so maybe if someone ever decides to read this crap I can bundle up a couple of posts, self publish, and cross this off my list. Low Priority.
  • Keep blogging on a near-daily basis – Nope. At least it’s semi regular! Middling priority.
  • Learn a new language – I’m not practicing studying now, but I’m signing up for a class with a hard commitment. This is the most likely to be accomplished in the near term future (Well, near for a long term goal – I’m talking in the one year range) High priority.
  • Live in a foreign country (Though it could also be relatively short term – I could easily uproot my life any time within the upcoming months to the next year if I quit my job) – This one’s doable by the end of the year. Priority is somewhere in the middle of the pack, but convenience dictates this will be the easiest to accomplish while I’m between jobs. 
  • Lose weight (40-50 pounds) – I’ve made zero strides. Priority: middling?
  • Own a home – Millenial lol (Low priority – I’m not sure I’m ready to restrict my mobility by tying myself down to one geographic location.)
  • Run the Iditarod – This is the moonshot. First of all, I’m going to need to learn a ton of domain knowledge to accomplish this. I don’t know what I don’t know. Second, it’s going to be super expensive to actually do – I’d need a team of sled dogs and experience mushing to begin to be ready for this one. This one also conflicts with a couple of my other goals, in that moving to a tropical country is going to blog me somewhat from preparing for this. Let me review the feasibility of this one in about three years. Low Priority
  • Start my own business – I haven’t done anything to move towards this goal. Middling to high priority. Now’s as good a time as ever to try, while I have free time.
  • Grab a bag of corn nuts and bust a nut – I tried it once, and I wanted to try it some more. Eventually, I realized I was fostering an emotional addiction to busting a nut. I try to limit this to a biweekly basis, at a maximum. I can cross this off my bucket list now, though.

Now to add any new goals I’ve picked up or remembered along the way.

  • Be able to do sik flips™ (This is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do, but it was on the back burner because I never did anything to progress towards this goal.) I think if I wanted to break this down, the first step on the path would be to start losing weight. Second, which would also complement weight loss, is picking up regular exercises that would be conducive to doing flips.
  • Dance, maybe? This one kinda came out of left field for me. I read an internet post about tango being popular in my area, so that might be something I pick up for the sake of socialization and as a way to get out of the house. Plus, it’s always good to have diverse interests. It’s not something I feel strongly about now, but it’s good to keep an open mind. I might end up really liking it.
  • Pick up a sport. This one may or may not help with the flipping. I’m interested in picking up BJJ or some kind of combat sport like Muay Thai. I’ve actually been pretty on and off on this. I used to go to a sports fitness class, but I quit at some point because I got too lazy to go.
  • Improve public speaking. Maybe go to Toastmasters?
  • There were more, but I forgot them. I probably should have written them down. Actually, now that I think of it, one goal I had was to start noting things that I didn’t want to forget, either by texting myself immediately or typing a note in my phone or writing the note down if I had pen and paper. I keep forgetting to do this, but I’m going to try to make this a habit. My memory sucks as it is, so instead of just living with it, I need to start rewiring my life to accommodate this.

That’s it for now. I’m ready to pass out, so I’m going to stop typing.

On Vegetarianism

One of the biggest ethical issues I deal with in my daily life is my treatment of animals. While I never directly inflict suffering on animals, I implicitly support it by continuing to eat animal meat and animal products. I don’t think eating meat can be morally defensible in developed society.

Having said that, I do eat meat every day, because it’s ingrained into me and my culture. That’s not meant to excuse my behavior, though – this is explaining how the situation came to be. A couple years ago, I went on a ten day Goenka meditation retreat. The proffered meals were all vegetarian, which to me was no big deal. I could eat whatever was provided no problem. However, after I went back to the real world, I went right back to eating meat. It was really hard to continue eating a vegetarian diet. Why was it so easy there, but so hard in my daily life?

Here’s how I see it: it was easy to do because I was put in a situation conducive to doing so.

  • The choice was taken away from me. Because I didn’t have the option of eating meat, it wasn’t that big of a deal to skip it. If I were in a situation where they served meat and vegetarian dishes, it would be lot harder to stick with the diet.
  • Everyone else did it. It’s a lot easier to normalize behaviors when it’s reinforced by your surrounding culture. Consequently, it’s harder to break out of preexisting behaviors that are reinforced by your culture.
  • I didn’t have to do the work myself. If I were cooking, I’d probably make a meat dish because it’s a lot harder for me to fuck up a meat dish than it is to fuck up a vegetarian dish. Also, it’s easier for me in general to come up with meat recipes than vegetarian meals. Also, because if I were cooking, I’d feel like it’s almost a waste to cook vegetarian because it wouldn’t be as satisfying as accompanying a meat dish.

I don’t really have an answer here, I just wanted to point out that it’s kinda shitty of me to eat meat even though I abhor the ethics behind it. Ah, well. Fuck it.

On Preventative Care

I recently found out I have a cavity on my top right molar. I only realized this when I ate something cold and an aching pain shot up in my mouth. I went to the bathroom, took a look in the mirror, and pulled back my gums to see the damage. It’s actually pretty severe. This is compounded by me not going to the dentist in several years. In fact, I haven’t even been to the doctor in years either. With the cavity, I’m now more likely to schedule a dentist appointment to address the issue. This brings me to my main point: This could have all been avoided if I took better care of my teeth.

I’ve seriously neglected my oral hygiene and it’s resulted in this cavity. Sure, I brush twice a day, but that’s the bare minimum; I floss irregularly and I don’t bother to limit my sugar intake. As a result, I’m overweight and my teeth are in bad shape.  Why didn’t I just do a better job of preventing the problem? It would’ve been a lot easier to nip this in the bud instead of letting this problem build up to the point where it noticeable impacts me. It’s like a leaving dishes in the sink continuously until it’s completely overflowing and now I have to pay the price. If I just did a better job of maintenance from time to time, I would have suffered less and been better off in the long run. Instead, I’m probably going to have to get a more serious, permanent solution in the form of a cavity or root canal and my teeth are going to be worse off. It’s incredibly short sighted.

When I think of my own shortsightedness, I see how prevalent this attitude is in the outside world, as well. Take a look at the climate change problem: mostly everyone agrees that the earth is heading down a shitty path if we continue with our current trajectory, but we aren’t doing enough collectively to effect real change. It’s as if we’re about to drive off a cliff and everyone in the car made a group effort to slow down the car by one mph. Sure, we’ve done a little bit to alleviate the issue, but we’re still going to drive off the cliff – it’ll just take us a little bit longer.

On Getting Up Early

Recently, I’ve been setting my alarm clock earlier in an attempt to boost my productivity in the morning. I’ve been failing miserably. What happens is, I set up multiple alarms, and sleep through most of them. Well, that’s not entirely correct. I’ll wake up, check the time, and hit snooze until I really have to get up. I’ll wait until the last minute to wake up, where I have to rush to get changed and brush my teeth and catch my bus. The problem here is that I know I still have buffer before actually going to work, so I’ll put off waking until necessary. I hesitate to set only one alarm clock in the morning, because I know I’ll probably set the alarm to snooze anyways and then end up sleeping in. It’s an tough challenge for me.

While the point of setting these early alarms has failed, it has created an interesting unintended side effect – while I doze off, I stay in a weird waking dream state, not necessarily lucid, but in a state where I have a slightly increased level of consciousness about my dreams and I’ll generally remember them. I feel like this is a potential outlet for me to generate ideas and have more visceral experiences. I don’t know if this is super common, but I’ll generally feel like I’m more emotional in dreams. I’ll live different lives and feel as if these events actually happened to me. I’ve woken up multiple times tearing up and feeling melancholy from the sense of loss of my dreams. When I wake, it’s not just that sad things may have happened to me, but my dream lives are real experiences that have now ended with my waking. It’s like a second death. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I feel like the power of using your dreams as a staging ground for mental training and emotional regulation is an underexplored field of study.