10 things I bought and recommend (2020)

Thank you for recommending the cooling gel mat. If heat turns out a problem in my new bedroom, I might give it a try.

My recommendations (not sure how useful they are, I realize some are quite specific for my lifestyle):

cleanable earplugs for sleeping.

I sleep earlier than most people. With these earplugs at hand, I never needed to complain to my flatmates when they talk or watch movies next to my bedroom. Clean with handsoap.

noise-isolating headphones in the bad old days working in an open office.

I tried the noise cancelling headphones of my friends to suppress distraction from colleagues talking in an open office. I did not like the noise cancelling enough to be willing to pay for it, because it generated soft noise by itself. In combination with a gentle rain noise or music I can not understand even conversations nearby. Good sound quality. Currently in use for video calls.

swiffer staubmagnet ("dust magnet")

Looks nonsense but works. I don't hate dust cleaning anymore. (H/t my flatmates)

sports watch for running

I wanted a cheap and easy-to-carry timer and not pay for features like a GPS tracker or heartrate measurement. Watches seem often too big for me but this one fits comfortably. If aestetics is important to you, try to find something else.

IKEA wooden step

to reach the upper kitchen shelf. Nicely stable but light enough to lift it and take it to wherever I need it. (H/t my flatmates)

100% peanut butter

I eat a lot of bread with peanut butter and good peanut butter is hard to get in Switzerland, where I live. Lots of calories per money spent, but no added sugar. A kg lasts me for a while. (H/t my flatmates)

Re: footrest

I'm also pretty short and I can relate to the problems with the footrest. The best footrest I've used so far is a folded not-so-soft blanket (in home office, so not wearing shoes). The storage box you're recommending would be a another good idea in my employer's office. I got myself a desk with height-adjustable legs but my chair cannot go lower, the blanket is for the last few centimeters.
Ironically, I got a decent footrest using a stack of flattened Hello Fresh meal boxes. The meals were more valuable for my flatmate than for me.
I have no good experiences with footrests that are made to be footrests: not stable, too high, don't fit between the legs of my chair - my feet end up everywhere except there they are supposed to be.

How have you become more (or less) engaged with EA in the last year?

Question for my understanding: what is your current job?

AMA: Tobias Baumann, Center for Reducing Suffering

How could individual donors best help in reducing suffering and S-risk? How should longtermist suffering-focussed donors approach donating differently than general longermist donors?

AMA: Tobias Baumann, Center for Reducing Suffering

Strong-upvoted this question. Follow-up question: what kind of research could resolve any factual disagreements?

Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion.

Sounds like a plan. Congratulations with doing your first donations!

How do you prioritize between the 5 charities that you mentioned?

Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion.

Related: GiveWell's staff personal donations

I strong upvoted the post because I'm really happy to see a discussion about donating - this is an important and actionable topic.

What are people's objections to earning-to-give?

This post gives an excellent description of some challenges of earning to give:

This post is from 2015, but I think the reasoning is still valid. The author stopped earning to give because he 1) performs better working for a cause he believes is important than for the business he used to work for, 2) does not see excellent giving opportunities and could have more impact by doing something else, 3) had different values than his colleagues.

I sort-of earn to give myself and have similar challenges, but I can overcome them and enjoy being with my colleagues even if their values aren't exactly the same - there are always work-related or everyday life topics we can exchange about. I don't agree that there is a lack of giving opportunities, in 2015 it might have been true. Nowadays more charities and cause areas have been evaluated and there are the EA Funds.

[edited to add a little more nuance]

What are the easiest highly positive and effective things that people can do?

See also here for more suggestions:

I don't think that anyone knows a clear right answer to your question (at least, I don't). What is 'easiest', I guess, depends on your personal situation. If you have enough money, donating is probably the easiest start. If you are early in your career, maybe read up on 80.000 hours.

What’s the Use In Physics?

[epistemic status: anecdotical] on not doing physics

If you want to build a resume in a non-physics direction, as Christopher suggests, and you are early in your career, don't wait too long to explore alternatives. I personally made a mistake by not exploring alternative options enough before I finished my master's degree (in Europe).

What’s the Use In Physics?

A possible note of caution for applied physics research or technology development in industry: you might want to take into account differential technological progress: develop safety first, before developing more powerful technologies (such as creating faster hardware). I assume that it depends much on your research field whether you should be concerned about differential technological progress. Does anyone have more thoughts about this?

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