I’ve never felt so embarrassed about my terrible lying skills

I’m extremely bad at lying, and the truth is that I think this is a personal flaw worth remedying. There are lots of drawbacks of not being able to lie, especially if you are frequently exposed to other dishonest cultures:

  • You can’t lie to people when they ask you to lie to make them feel better
  • You’re likely to slip up or have less bargaining power during interviews and negotiations
  • You can’t make the dubious insurance claims that everyone else does
  • Your stories aren’t as interesting
  • You will get on the wrong side of people who accept a modest level of honesty as an appropriate form of communication
  • People won’t believe you anyway
  • You’ll appear less confident and have a height disadvantage compared to everyone else in online profiles
  • You’ll suck at games that require lying


Today, I got really unlucky. I played a variant of Mafia with about 12 people, mostly strangers. I was a mafia member in the first round. My mafia teammate and I lost the first round quite quickly; we were both outed on the basis of sound, though I’m pretty sure the sound my accusers detected was simply the host walking beside me. Anyhow, when I got accused, this particularly intuitive and outspoken girl was accusing me on the basis of my facial expression. (In this variant, whoever gets accused first has at least 50% chance of getting lynched, simply because it’s compulsory to vote for someone and within only a few minutes of discussion. You’re in trouble even if you get blindly accused. There are also three pretty overpowered town roles compared to the standard rules, but that’s no excuse.) If I smiled, she said I was guilty because I couldn’t help smiling, and if I stopped smiling, she accused me of trying not to smile. I could feel my cheeks twitching, though I’m glad people can’t actually see that. Anyhow, I was very unconvincing and the game ended just like that.

In the second round, four out of six roles were retained by the same people. I got accused on the first day of voting by the intuitive girl again, who was a spy this time. She was partly fishing, but it was effective. My face felt exactly the same, and the only reason I wasn’t lynched right there was because my teammate saved me by throwing another accusation out. The first vote was a draw against me and the other accused, so I nearly got eliminated on the first day of voting, until the other person got voted out in the revote. My teammate fell under suspicion the next day (but we successfully killed the intuitive girl this time with the doctor’s guaranteed heal already used) and was voted out. There were still people sure it was me. It’s a wonder that I made it to the day where I would make the winning kill that night, and people turned against the “vigilante” during that day’s vote. Unfortunately, their ability is to kill whoever they choose when they die, and he killed me right before what would have been my winning night. I never stood a chance, since he suspected me from the start and would have chosen to kill me no matter when or how he died.

Getting better at lying has always been on my long list of things that will make me a better person. I’m somewhat insecure about it, and it’s now been bumped up significantly in priority after this incident.


The truth about the holiday season

Three steps back, one step forward

Every year around Christmas and New Year I feel sad, lonely, and forgotten. A part of my subconscious imagines all the joy everyone must be experiencing, and I instinctively engage in emotionally self-harmful behaviors in order to distract from difficult emotions. It’s ironic how the chosen distractions turn pain into numbness, but upon feeling numb one wishes to feel something through further indulgence.

I learned something new from this year’s experience, though at no trivial cost. I could feel lonely during any time of the year I “wanted” to, so why Christmas specifically? The root of suffering during this season is that I feel unloved. People go home to visit their families, so no one is really around for several weeks. Our own family had lunch on Christmas Day and it was fine, but I still became somewhat unhinged after that. I feel unloved for many reasons, but it can simply be stated that I was never given ample opportunity to internalize my family’s love for me as a child, and that I am still underdeveloped in this aspect. Also, in comparison to everything else going on around, my Christmas holidays are a time characterized by mutual neglect of both family and friends.

Even if Christmas is more isolating than usual, there are two assumptions I can attack in order to break the chain of things from devolving into emotional torture:

  1. Everyone is busy and I have no cause to bring down anyone else’s spirits with mine, so I’d rather suffer in silence as if this is all some secret punishment I deserve.
  2. I shouldn’t be thinking so much about myself during Christmas.

The second point is the fallacy that I wish to address presently. When I feel unloved, it’s because I’m not loving myself. Somehow I forget to do so during Christmas, when perhaps it’s the time I need it the most. My longing to love others pains me also, but I should not neglect my basic necessities.

Deciphering my mental state

TLDR; I’m tired.

I’m quite confused about my mood and emotional/energy levels lately. There have been mixed signals.

  1. I’ve been tired from writing, even if it’s for fun or social purpose. And yet I have a strong desire and impulse to write.
  2. I’ve been having logical nightmares that I can’t remember because they’re unfamiliar and don’t make enough sense. I also haven’t been sleeping well.
  3. I’ve been exposed to over five times as much social interaction in the last week than a normal week, so in theory I should be socially exhausted.
  4. I’ve been quite emotional overall, meaning that it’s been hard for me to think things through logically or follow my past judgments without doubt. I’ve been confused and grateful and inspired and many other things.
  5. It seems I mostly recovered from a fever, but it left me physically and mentally exhausted. The unbearably hot weather hasn’t helped either.
  6. It seems like I’m forming a squish, which is probably a bad thing in this situation. For the first time ever, I used flattery in a situation where it felt normal. It was surprising and it feels dangerous.
  7. I’ve been a bit restless and unfocused due to only meditating once this week.
  8. I haven’t been able to run for weeks due to injury and at least once or twice I’ve noticed a restless desire to move around and expend energy.
  9. I usually crave music on a daily or hourly basis, but lately everything I’ve been listening to has been underwhelming, including my favorites. There are no songs playing in my head or any new obsessions.

I think it’s safe to say that I am socially overwhelmed with all the activity that’s been going on. Almost all of it has been high quality interactions, which explains why I’ve been quite emotionally affected by it. However, the fact that I haven’t succumb to the Ti-Si loop probably means I haven’t had the emotional energy to worry about anything too much.

Writing is primarily a logically taxing task for me. Writing too much goes hand in hand with logical nightmares and late nights. It also explains my lack of focus recently. When I have a productive day in terms of my studies, it usually means I don’t have much energy left for writing so in the past I’ve restricted writing to once or twice a week. So it’s a limited resource that has to be managed.

The musical apathy thing is very rare, and I think it must indicate lack of both emotional and logical resources. The emotional tiredness renders me unaware of what mood I should be catering to and what mood I might want to shift into. The logical aspect is that the music just passes me by with me hardly noticing.

I think when the emotional tank is empty, it replenishes steadily given time and space. However, when accompanied by intellectual exhaustion, I’m completely unable to sense my own emotional state. I tried to do this when writing just now and there is simply no access. This must mean that my logical circuit requires a moderate degree of activation in order for me to parse and interpret my emotional circuit.

Now, my being emotionally drained is also a consequence of decisions I made one or two weeks ago, when I had an adequate supply of emotional energy and greedily committed it. In this process, and comparing real-life interactions to online interactions, I’ve discovered something. First of all, engaging with less familiar people in a big room environment takes the most emotional energy. No surprise there. But in terms of online correspondences vs friendships and smaller group interactions with partial familiarity, the former category seems to have higher maintenance and latent costs in many cases. I never realized how serious it was until I decided to bite off more than I could chew. I need to balance my allocation of online and offline commitments more carefully.

I’ve been unsure whether I should consider that there’s a separate theoretical tank for social energy, but so far I haven’t needed it. However, the need to expend excess physical energy or reduce stress with physical exercise is probably something tangible. Physical wellness and exercise help to replenish the intellectual and logical resources.

I think it’s suddenly clear what to make of all this.

  1. I need proper rest. I’m physically, emotionally, and intellectually tired.
  2. I need to reorganize or restructure my social commitments to achieve better balance and recovery rates.
  3. Even when I’m tired, I need to keep up with physical activity.

Putting all these things together should help my logical tank to fill up, which should enable the emotional tank to replenish too.



Scenario in my head

I haven’t communicated in any way with my ex since the 10 or so months ago that we broke up. Although we’ve passed each other a few times, it’s a good thing she has never noticed or pretends not to. We could never simply be good friends given what we’ve been through and the fact that she never did have the virtues of a good friend. If we ever did bump into each other and exchange a word or two, we, or at least I, would probably laugh uncontrollably. It’d be a helpless laughter, perhaps not so different to the kind a soldier would share with his enemy if they had a brief moment together just after having killed each other. That laughter: a recognition of mutually assured destruction.

Cold Shower Challenge

I’ve been getting complacent lately, so it’s time I took on a new challenge to keep things in check: the 30-day Cold Shower Challenge. Taking cold showers to improve motivation and discipline is a well-known and very popular technique. What are the purported benefits? We could consider the possible effects biologically, psychologically, medically, and so on, yet the most convincing argument remains to be “try it for 30 days and you’ll see.”

I still remember what it felt like to take an ice-cold shower on a snowy day in Romania. I’m going to do it, starting today. Luckily it’s almost summer.

Tracking dreams and nightmares

Does sleep tea work?

As a semi-lucid dreamer, dreaming has always been a bit part of my life. A rather sudden and weird change happened to me in terms of dream activity, so I’ve been recording my occurrences of nightmares for the last two months.

Earlier this year I went overseas for a break off study. In a strange new continent. Alone. Trying to find myself, discover how I really feel and what I truly believe. Meeting strange people, eating strange food, observing and experiencing strange ways of life. English speakers not always being available. I had only 3 nightmares during those 70+ days.

I came home to having nightmares every other night. At first, the most twisted nightmares I’ve ever had; ones that are not safe to share or remember. I was confident and ready to confront my problems instead of trying to hide from them. Were these nightmares just out of stress, adjustment, or was my subconscious trying to tell me something? Perhaps it was just the nine hours of jet lag and my body complaining about it. Actually, I do know of one major influence: that house triggered my tinnitus. (In fact, I could almost reasonably blame my having tinnitus on living in that house.)

My friend recommended I try sleep tea to reduce nightmares. I bought sleep tea with chamomile and peppermint. Sleep tea is not only meant to make you sleep better, it’s meant to calm you and relieve stress in a manner that one might imagine conducive to suppressing possible nightmares. Whether it was effective or I was simply benefiting from the placebo effect (which is not a bad thing either), I felt like it made a big difference. I tended to wake up too early due to jet lag but sleep tea was able to keep me knocked out sometimes. I set out to prove or disprove the effectiveness of sleep tea on suppressing my nightmares: using statistics.

Two months data

  • I had at least 19 nights with nightmares and up to 41 nights without nightmares. I only tested sleep tea on 8 of these nights for various reasons such as not wanting to wake up late and not finding nightmares to be a tangible disturbance to my mental health except with regard to sleep quality.
  • My average recall of nightmares probably lies somewhere between 40% and 99%. The number of recorded nights with nightmares is therefore an underestimate and the nightmare-less nights is an overestimate.
  • It is easier for me to remember whether I had a nightmare than how many distinct nightmares I had on the previous night. In any case, I had more than 40 nightmares over these 60 days.
  • I encountered new forms of nightmares so it sometimes became difficult to distinguish what was a nightmare and what was just an unpleasant dream.
  • A nightmare is also known as a “bad dream,” but I generally don’t consider dreams that are both good and bad or just mediocre to be a nightmare unless the bad part is disturbing enough that it wakes me up.
  • I did not track dreams, but I certainly had dreams (including nightmares) on the majority of nights.


The experiment failed; I’m pulling the plug. Temporal factors were too significant. The assumptions of probability might have been reasonable for an earlier period of the experiment, but are no longer reasonable. I “lost” (overcame?) my reliable “source” of nightmares. I also don’t have enough data for nights where I drink sleep tea, but even if I did, the results would be skewed in favor of the hypothesis that drinking sleep tea makes a huge difference, when in reality it is most likely the result of other interfering factors too.


It would have been an interesting experiment, and I’ll admit it: I just wanted to do it cause I find applying statistics fun sometimes. I wanted to compute a 90% confidence interval for the minimum percentage of dreams supposedly being suppressed as a consequence of drinking sleep tea. But my results are now incredibly biased. The frequency of my nightmares has decreased significantly, and I don’t need statistics to confirm this. For one thing, I moved out of the house, started flatting for the first time in my life, and have been constantly challenging myself to face my problems. Unfortunately for my craving of practical applications of statistics…