Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

One of the reasons that I’ve been a bit quiet here lately is that I had some grand idea forming in my head that I would start a tradition of an annual report on my reboot process by going back and pulling up my initial objectives and examining progress on each one(*).  Well, not only did that stop me cold in my tracks, but I suspect that it would have been about as interesting to read as the phone book.  So I will spare you that.  You may thank me later .

In the process of killing off the annual report idea though, I did keep coming back to what I feel is the single biggest thing that I have learned over the last two years.  It may not sound particularly profound.  I think it may be like some of those Buddhist concepts where  the act of putting the idea into words robs the idea of its power.  But I’m going to try anyway.

The three word summary is in the title of this post:  Enjoy the Process.

And for some reason I feel compelled to break this down by introducing (or possibly recycling) a series of aphorisms.  This may end up being even more self-indulgent than my original idea of an annual report, but hopefully it will at least be a bit entertaining.

Don’t obsess over becoming an expert, enjoy the time spent on the journey.

This is mostly deeply rooted in the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset idea that came as part of my informal teacher training.  One of the most frustrating students I taught last year was convinced that he was a natural expert programmer and did a pretty darn good job in general.  But he kept hitting a wall in his experience and rather than treating that as an opportunity to learn he would just thrash away in frustration.  Some of my greatest triumphs were when I got him to plow through and figure out the solution himself.  I see too much of myself in that behavior, but now I have that very clear image of that student to pull on when I find myself hitting my head against a wall.  I hope I helped him half as much as he helped me.

Treasure feedback from any source as if it is a rare gift.

Because it is.  It is always harder to give feedback than not.  I have a deeply ingrained impulse to take constructive feedback as a negative commentary on my abilities and I believe it still shows on my face, even in very relaxed environments like a yoga studio.  And of course that treats the absolutely wrong feedback loop with people I am trying to learn from.  I think I’m doing better in the moment and hopefully that will continue to improve over time.   Habits aren’t hard to break (says the ex-smoker), you just have to keep trying.  And making sure that I express appreciation after the fact  to the people that teach me things is, I hope, an effective way of counteracting the in the moment reaction that still happens more often than I would like.

Things that are worth mastering are rarely things that can be mastered.

So one had better enjoy the learning process, because there is no end.  I set out to learn to speak Spanish and learned that I haven’t really ‘mastered’ English yet.  I set out to teach computer science to high school students and I’m pretty sure I ended up learning more from them than they did from me.  I could go on ad nauseum with this list, but I’ll spare you for now.

Be wary of spending too much time doing something that you don’t enjoy.

This is often an attempt to attain some grand future goal, like a title at work, a retirement fund or some kind of recognition.  I’ve achieved a bunch of these things, but if I regret anything (and I really try not to have regrets) it’s the hours spent doing things that I really hated to get to goals.  They really aren’t worth that price.  So I am going to try to make sure that whatever I do in the future the day to day work on balance is both fulfilling and enjoyable in and of itself.

Some part of everyday routine basis makes the world better place

This is the one that I struggle with the most.  Is the world a better place because I helped build better technology relatively early on in the PC revolution?  I like to think so, but it’s pretty impossible to prove.  Do some kids have a slightly better outlook on programming and technology because of the time I spent last year volunteering.  I think that’s a much clearer yes, but that was a much larger commitment than I can manage on a regular basis.  Hopefully I will manage to find on the clearly good + clearly sustainable list in the near future as a volunteer activity.  But the thing I am really trying to figure out is how to get my career Venn diagram to include an unambiguous “make the world a better place” component.

Overall, Enjoy the Process really is a pretty good summary of what I’ve learned so far.  With any luck that will include enjoying the process of writing and you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years.

(*)The other reason is that I’ve diving into my start-up project which also involves some writing  and so I am (so far not very successfully)  trying to integrate the reboot writing into my ‘non-work’ time.

By the most strict definition, it’s been 9 months since I started this reboot project.  But for various reasons I’m going to write off about three months of that time and call this my six month check-in.  Not the least of which is that I hadn’t really gotten to the point where I felt like a top down check in made sense in April…

Here is a paragraph from my very first post which I need to keep coming back to as it is way too easy to get lost in the details:

I’m taking a minimum of a year off of full time employment to dive into this experiment, if this ends up being a year of self-improvement and self-discovery, I’ll count it as a success but not be thrilled with the outcome.  My overall objective is to accomplish the brain reboot and in the process discover my next big thing, which I hope will be a project/career that will both improve the world around me and provide a sustainable living.

And to do this I developed a what I can only describe as a self-directed curriculum.  I’m going to just blatantly cut and paste my original ‘curriculum’ post from October here, as I didn’t really remember it in detail and I’ve been living it…


—–Begin Excerpt—–

Because I am fundamentally a reductionist, I am going to divide my efforts into three broad categories.  One is large goals that I intend to spend something measurable in hours per week over the course of the year to achieve a specific objective.  Another is what I’m thinking of as tools and techniques – experimenting with different methods of learning on small things or specifically aiming at acquiring a particular skill that I believe will help my ability to execute on my larger goals.  The final category is the scatter-shot learning of anything that strikes my fancy.

Well that’s completely amorphous, you say?  Let’s dig a bit deeper.

I’ve already mentioned the top four big things:

  1. Learn a language – there are two major questions to answer here. The first is the language, I’m leaning towards Spanish, but some of the other contenders are Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French, Latin, Gaelic, and Ancient Icelandic.  This certainly deserves at least one blog post of its own, so stay tuned. The second is technique. I’m not even sure where to start with a discussion on how to learn a language (although I’ve been accumulating ideas from various sources) so again, stay tuned.
  2. Music – While my initial measurable goal is to learn an instrument to some level of mastery, I’d also like to dig more into music theory and develop sight reading skills. Contenders here are piano, guitar, violin, clarinet, saxophone, ukulele, harmonica, vocals and upright bass.
  3. Programming – I’m not even going to try to attack this in a small paragraph.
  4. Writing – Well, let’s start with blogging, perhaps more will come of it.  Although I did just notice that nanowrimo is next month. Hmmm…

And some of the skills that I’m hoping to develop:

  • Speed reading
  • Memorization techniques
  • Analysis/Critique – If nothing else I am going to start reviewing books and teaching company courses that I read and listen to.
  • Math – there is certainly room for a ‘big’ learning subject here as well, but my initial interest is in exercising basic math skills to see if that help stretch my brain and make some other activities easier.
  • Physical skills – Keep doing yoga and dance and perhaps re-introduce an eastern martial art of some kind – I am certainly strongly planted in the strong body helps a strong mind camp.
  • Typing?

I’m not sure that the last category is actually a separate thing, but I’m including it as a reminder to myself to  strike a balance between a disciplined approach and making sure that I have a blast in the process.

—–End Excerpt—–

And of course I gave myself full permissions to morph the curriculum as I went (including calling 9 months 6 months, just because).  So where am I now?

At a very high level, I feel both very good about what I’ve accomplished and pretty frustrated at the pacing.  But a large part of the point of this whole exercise is to get better at learning in general and while it’s very hard to measure that explicitly, I feel some movement in the old noggin’ so that has to count for something…

At the next level, I have stuck with my top four major objectives but would say that physical skills which I had originally placed as a minor player actually ended up getting elevated to top tier status.

And for a quick brain-dump style status report, here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Language: I landed on Spanish and spent some time listening to Pimsleur audio + their minimal reading writing accompaniment.   It was slow progress at best.  I certainly wasn’t able to absorb this information without reviewing multiple times per lesson.  So I broke down and signed up for a small class size Spanish 1 at a local school.  This seemed to get me over a bit of a hump.   I’m just starting level II and fell like I’m making real progress.  I think there is some chance that I will hit at least minimal functionality sometime in the foreseeable future which is definitely further than I’ve ever gotten before with a language other than English.
  2. Music:  I landed on Piano + some ear training supplemented with a bit of music theory.  I made it through a level one piano book quickly as it was mostly review.  I stalled out a bit on the level two stuff but can see myself getting back to that soon.  I am pushing hard on the ear training as it feels like a breakthrough on that would be more fundamental in my general brain training than incremental improvement of keyboard skills.  I am also having a lot of fun going through the Billy Joel songbook (and will add Brubeck as well) – this is definitely not an example of deliberate learning, but may start slopping into flow.
  3. Programming:  I’ve some thoughts on branching into iOs and Android programming, but for now I’m playing with some ideas that have been floating in my head for years for some dance music tools, and I can do initial implementation of that nicely in the Microsoft universe.   In fact as I’ve started spending a bit more time on this it’s pretty easy to get lost in it and not want to do anything else, which is great.  Also, I signed up for a volunteer gig to teach intro to computer science to high school students, so I’m busily training to teach this stuff.  There will definitely be more on that here shortly.
  4. Writing:  Most of my writing has been in the context of this blog.  Alicia and I took part of an online fiction writing class, but stalled on it as we both manage grammar pretty well and there was a bit too much emphasis on basics in that class.  But one of these days some fiction may escape me…
  5. Physical Skills: I’ve had a blast starting to learn to tap dance, which is something I’ve never tried before.  Learning a new physical skill has definitely been a key part of helping me think about how I learn in general.  I’ve also dug deeper into yoga, adding a vinyasa (or flow) style to my practice and spending more time working with poses on my own rather than just pushing through them in class.  This is definitely a place where I’m playing with deliberate practice, but I certainly have a long way to go.

For the small random things, I’ve spent considerable time on speed reading as I think that’s the biggest bang for my buck.  And of course I upgraded physical skills to a major skill.  I haven’t been great about attacking small projects though and that’s a little disappointing.  Although if we were to add cooking and canning into the mix, they might count.

And of course my progress on the top level of what I want to do when I grow up is on the slow side.  But re-awakening my joy in programming and taking a stab at passing that on to others in a new way has to count as a good start, right?

Alicia and I spent an afternoon in The International Spy Museum and I failed the spy test.  She passed.  Hmmm.  This is a great museum with lots of fun interactive stuff, cool artifacts, and of course plenty of Bond, James Bond.  My favorite part of the museum was being able to see the actual devices that spies used, some of which were absolutely Bondesque.

But the thing that struck a chord from a personal perspective was the skills that a successful spy must develop and how incredibly bad I am at most of them.  Since a large part of what I’m trying to do this year is get better at learning in general it seems like this may be a hotbed of uncharted skills to play with.

Here are just a few of the things that a spy must be able to do well:

  •  add convincing details to a cover story on the fly and then be able to regurgitate them quickly under pressure
  •  massively impressive observation and memory skills (was that piece of tape on that pole yesterday, if not could it be marking a dead-drop?)
  • make decisions on the fly with sparse data
  • write and read coded messages (this could be really fun)
  • recognize people that you’ve only seen once even when they’re in disguise
  • Change the way you look, walk, speak, and hold yourself with or without the assistance of a physical disguise
  • Combat skills (or combat avoidance skills)

Now of course I could go on and on with this list just from what I saw in the museum, but I think there are a couple of interesting patterns here.  One is that some of the creativity around being a spy overlaps pretty heavily with writing fiction.  Another is that there seem to be several underlying ‘core’ skills – memory, creativity, and quick twitch decision making.  It seems to me that  developing any or all of these would be pretty useful in general, even if I never land another (oops I mean a) job as a spy.   And on the flip side, there are some concrete aspects to spy skills that seem like they might be quick tests of skill acquisition.

One of the things that I intended to do when I started my reboot year was to build a list of crazy fun small skills to knock off as interesting both in themselves and as a way of learning how to learn.   This is even more interesting as I learn more about learning, because I keep seeing that attacking smaller tasks so that one can make mistakes and learn to correct them quickly is a much more effective way to learn than taking on the big tasks first.  The classic example is that if you want to be a writer, you should start with short stories rather than novels (even if you think your natural length is a novel) because your cycle time is measured in days or weeks rather than months or years.

But I got involved enough in larger things that I didn’t manage to start attacking any of the small ones.  One of the first things I’d like to attack is a small memory task.  Another thing might be to learn Morse code.  Oh, and then I could tap dance Morse code, hmmm.  Anyone have suggestions for small fun skills to attempt to acquire?  Spy related or not?

—– —– –···

I’m not quite sure why tap is doing this to me.  I really did just throw in this particular skill as an afterthought in my curriculum more because I’d like to have fun hoofing with my lovely wife if and when I make it close to her league rather than as one of my initial big chunks of brain re-trainings like language or music.  But for whatever reason things in my broader agenda keep clicking while in tap class.  So here is another installment of what I learned in tap this week that is only tangentially related to the dance form.

The teacher asked us to turn our backs on him and he tapped out a rhythm.  We were then asked to do our best to copy the sounds that he created using any technique that we knew.  He started out with extremely simple examples and when he got to just plain simple which resulted in total cacophony from the class, he stopped.  But he explained that this was a way of learning to improvise.  In the tap sense it’s pretty close to some of the ear training that I’ve been doing in music.  And of course back in my youth I really liked the concept of jazz improvisation, but was never all that great at it – probably because I didn’t spend enough time with ear training and building my vocabulary.

Did I just say vocabulary?  Yes, I did!  The thing that really connects everything together for me was that the teacher went on to describe how he thought of improvisation in tap.  He said it felt like learning to speak a language.  Your objective isn’t to figure out the sentence that you’re going to say ahead of time, mapping out the whole structure and then spitting it out.  The idea is that you should have a working vocabulary that is rich enough and natural enough that you can just start talking and you form the thought as you go.  Dance, music, language, choreography, sight reading, speed reading, writing, composing – the same brain does all of these things.  Maybe training in one is actually going to help others.  Who woulda thunk?

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about breadth first vs. depth first learning and skill acquisition.  The terms are from graph theory and are used with reference to tree traversal.  If they don’t immediately resonate with you, take a quick look at the graphs on the right hand side of the breadth-first and depth-first search Wikipedia pages – just walk through the nodes in the order of the numbers, that will give you a  good visualization of the conceptual difference between the two.  In any case, the idea that I’m trying to convey here is that I have been a radically depth first person in both work and life.  But now I’m reversing course and going pretty extremely breadth first and I have to admit that it’s freaking me out a bit.

My depth first work:

I got my first job at 13 as a sales and support person at an Apple computer store.  I was lucky enough to land a college work study job writing music theory software for the Macintosh.  I haven’t held a single job since that isn’t computer related.  And furthermore, of my twenty-odd year professional career a clear majority of that time has been spent developing a specific category of programs (debuggers, profilers, and other diagnostics tools).  I have occasionally toyed with trying some kind of service job just to round out my resume, but I don’t really think that will happen.

My depth first life:

When I started doing something other than work in my mid-twenties, I jumped straight into Ballroom dance.  I spent the better part of a decade dancing many hours a week and competed at several different amateur levels.  Ballroom is actually a fairly broad category.   My first year of trying to learn how to dance I took a conventional route of trying to learn a breadth of different dances (Foxtrot, Rhumba, Waltz, Swing, Cha-Cha).  That didn’t work at all for me.  It was only when my teacher convinced me to do an exhibition routine that was entirely swing that I clicked.  I eventually broadened out and learned more competitive and social dance styles, but it was definitely a key to start with one and learn it to a certain level before attempting a second one.

I then took up Kung Fu and spent 2+ hours 2 to 3 times a week in class, plus quite a few Friday evenings learning lion dance, plus time on my own, which was non-trivial although probably not nearly as much as I should have.  Again, I did this for the better part of a decade.  Then I took up yoga – again 2-3 times a week for about 5 years now.  For those of you that may know my age and are trying to do the math, there was some overlap on either end of Kung-Fu.  I’m not quite that old.

In any case,  I’ve generally only practiced one or two hobbies at a time and have practiced them intensely.  And I’ve gotten reasonably good at them.  I always take it as a compliment when other students mistake me for a teacher and a further compliment when another teacher makes that assumption, and that has happened in all three of my depth first hobbies on many occassions.

Switching to Breadth First:

Now of course, without a full time job, I could probably manage a few depth first activities at the level that I was previously maintaining one while working full time.  And at some level that’s what I thought I was going to do when I started this adventure.  But it really isn’t how things feel at this point.  Take, for instance, music.  I set out to learn to play the piano this year.  But when it came right down to it I wanted to take a broader look at music.  So I am playing the piano every day.  But I am also running through an ear training course.  And I just started a singing course as well.  My old self would have allocated more time to piano and not broadened into other music related things until I felt pretty comfortable with my basic keyboard skills.  But I think there is some real value in broadening out earlier.  So we’ll see how that goes.

Of course the music thing is a pretty limited example.  One could make the argument that what I’m really doing is some kind of depth first traversal of a redefined domain.

But then there  is the Spanish thing.  And the tap thing.  And I’ve started learning a different kind of yoga.  And re-learning programming.  And speed reading.  And writing – both this blog and taking a creative writing course.  And there are the dozen other things that I want to start doing this year but haven’t gotten traction on yet.  For instance, I’d like to play with memory techniques.  I would like to take a run at Toastmasters.  I would like to improve my typing speed (and/or learn Dvorak).  I would like to take a run at writing fiction.  And the list goes on.

I’m hoping at the least that trying a bit of breadth first will help with my primary goal of learning and acquiring skills faster, as measured by the net number of hours spent.  I’ll be sure to report back soon.

One thing that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately is the assertion from the How We Learn lecture series.

[Our] judgments of what we’ve learned well, what we don’t yet know, what we do and do not need to practice are not as accurate as they could be.

I think this exhibits somewhat differently in physical skill than in more purely cognitive endeavors.  In part that may be because the former can so be so painfully obvious .  Just think Karaoke bar.

Oops.  Sorry. Didn’t mean to take you there.

Excuse me for  a moment while I clear my head of that image.

Okay, I’m back.

The thing that struck me in tap class the other day was that whether I’m good at it or not, I spend some of my limitted brainpower on how well am I doing this, how rapidly am I picking this up, (and although I hat to admit it)  how am I doing compared to the people next to me.  This is a really bad habit when attempting to acquire a physical skill that requires one to use all available neurons to make part of your body do things they’ve never done before in rapid sequences.

So I think the key here is to turn down the meta-analysis of a learning process while actually learning, and just turn it back on periodically to check and make sure that I’m not letting myself in for a “Karaoke moment.”  This is probably the same general principle that I’ve read about writing – turn off your internal editor or at least tune her way down (yes my internal editor is female, don’t ask) for the first draft.  In fact, I think this kind of in the moment meta-analysis is a good example of what not to do to achieve flow.

And of course as I attempt to apply this while in tap class, I run into the meta-meta problem.  I start thinking about whether I am thinking too much about how I’m doing, and then I know I’m thinking too much about thinking about whether I’m thinking about how well I’m doing.  It is a very good thing that I managed to make it through the session without actually falling on my ass due to my brain going into a tight look and locking up my body.

But here is as a small proof of concept. In the last few minutes of the last class of the session, we were doing “follow the teacher” exercises where he does something and we’re supposed to repeat it.  This one was probably more complicated than anything we had done previously in class.  I was completely in the zone and I think I completed the first side flawlessly (although, of course I wasn’t thinking about how well I was doing, I was just doing it), when I heard the teacher say ‘good’ in a very emphatic but somewhat surprised tone of voice.  I looked up and he was looking straight at me, so I guess I did do it right.  Of course I completely flubbed the second side…

As I continue to dig out my basement and attempt to strategerize (why do I like that word so much?) my plans for the next year, I am spending some time thinking about the fun and random, but hopefully still educational, things that will fill out my schedule.  One of the suggestions made in the blog post that started me thinking about self-directed education in a structure way was to read twenty classic novels.  I do think that is a neat idea, and may play with that a bit later on.  But for myself, I am going to start along a slightly different tact suggested by a friend some time ago.

I’ve acquired The Hugo Winners series edited by Isaac Asimov in the sixties, seventies and eighties that collects the short fiction winners from the beginning of the awards until 1982.  This seems like a good way to do a survey of some classic science fiction.  I find that more compelling as an exercise in classics than attempting to plow through some set of classics of literature.  Especially since I have some desire to move towards writing science fiction or fantasy as I hone my writing skills this year.

I was somewhat skeptical of this approach as I had attempted to read these same volumes some twenty odd years ago and wasn’t able to get into them.  But with age comes wisdom, right?  Maybe I’ll actually read some “real” classics this year 🙂

In any case, I ordered the first book a couple of weeks ago and dove into it last week.  I almost gave up on the first novelette.

SPOILER ALERT – if you have an interest in trying The Hugo Winners yourself stop reading, order a copy of The Hugo Winners Volume I and II and read the “The Darfsteller”.  And then don’t forget to come back and finish reading this post.

This story is about 60 pages of prose that appears to be a reasonably well written variation on the well explored theme of technology making man obsolete with a subtheme about creativity being lost in the process.  I wouldn’t have been about to give up if the previous sentence could have been changed to ‘very well written’ as I understand than often in SF a theme that feels over-taxed in 2012 may well have been fresh in 1955, and that alone shouldn’t detract too much from the experience.

Well, why didn’t I give up, you ask?  Because I was completely wrong about the theme.  As is revealed in the last couple of pages (I did mention that there was a spoiler coming up, right?), the real lesson to the story is that in a world of continually improving technology, it’s no longer reasonable to train in a profession as a young adult and expect to continue in a single career for a lifetime.  Retraining, rethinking, and adapting to the changing demands of the workplace are all necessary to function in such a world.

Hmm, somewhat germane to my current endeavor, is it not?    In fact, that drove me from nice idea, let’s try it and see how it goes, to a become a definite part of my agenda. Now I have to decide if I go all out and read the Hugo winning novels as well.

Yoga

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Exercise, Mental Reboot, Writing
Tags: , , ,

This is slightly off topic, but I’m planning on bringing my physical fitness routine into this discussion at some point and a thought occurred to me during yoga this morning that I’d like to share.  I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga and other hot hatha yoga for nearly five years now and have probably averaged a little under twice a week during that time.  It has rarely been my core practice, but more on that later.

Generally I’ve been very good at doing the mind-blank thing in Yoga where the only thing that is going through my head is concentrating on the poses.  I am wondering now though if part of the reason that this came ‘naturally’ to me was that I was stressed enough by work that I had to shut it out in order to function in class at all.  Because I’ve noticed over the last month or so that my mind is wandering more to things like future plans or composing blog entries.

For now I’m going to take that as validation that I made the right decision to undertake this adventure in rebooting myself.  But over the longer term I think I need to figure out how to block out the good thoughts as well as the bad when doing meditation-like activities.  If for no other reason than the idea that I happened upon when I read Stumbling on Happiness that the only scientifically proven  way to increase one’s base level of happiness is to mediate.

Anyone have any suggestions?  Success with meditation in general?  I’ve heard good things about both mindfulness meditation and heartbeat meditation, but haven’t managed to achieve success with either (although I also haven’t spent a lot of time trying).

Where N is large 🙂

I’m taking the Month of October to unwind, sort out the house and start building my curriculum.   The relaxing and sorting out the house are pretty boring, so I’ll spare you the details on those.  But I’m interested in iterating over the curriculum part of the process.  Every time I have this discussion in person, a new suggestion comes up. So I’m interested to see if the internets will provide more ideas.

Because I am fundamentally a reductionist, I am going to divide my efforts into three broad categories.  One is large goals that I intend to spend something measurable in hours per week over the course of the year to achieve a specific objective.  Another is what I’m thinking of as tools and techniques – experimenting with different methods of learning on small things or specifically aiming at acquiring a particular skill that I believe will help my ability to execute on my larger goals.  The final category is the scatter-shot learning of anything that strikes my fancy.

Well that’s completely amorphous, you say?  Let’s dig a bit deeper.

I’ve already mentioned the top four big things:

  1. Learn a language – there are two major questions to answer here. The first is the language, I’m leaning towards Spanish, but some of the other contenders are Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French, Latin, Gaelic, and Ancient Icelandic.  This certainly deserves at least one blog post of its own, so stay tuned. The second is technique. I’m not even sure where to start with a discussion on how to learn a language (although I’ve been accumulating ideas from various sources) so again, stay tuned.
  2. Music – While my initial measurable goal is to learn an instrument to some level of mastery, I’d also like to dig more into music theory and develop sight reading skills. Contenders here are piano, guitar, violin, clarinet, saxophone, ukulele, harmonica, vocals and upright bass.
  3. Programming – I’m not even going to try to attack this in a small paragraph.
  4. Writing – Well, let’s start with blogging, perhaps more will come of it.  Although I did just notice that nanowrimo is next month. Hmmm…

And some of the skills that I’m hoping to develop:

  • Speed reading
  • Memorization techniques
  • Analysis/Critique – If nothing else I am going to start reviewing books and teaching company courses that I read and listen to.
  • Math – there is certainly room for a ‘big’ learning subject here as well, but my initial interest is in exercising basic math skills to see if that help stretch my brain and make some other activities easier.
  • Physical skills – Keep doing yoga and dance and perhaps re-introduce an eastern martial art of some kind – I am certainly strongly planted in the strong body helps a strong mind camp.
  • Typing?

I’m not sure that the last category is actually a separate thing, but I’m including it as a reminder to myself to  strike a balance between a disciplined approach and making sure that I have a blast in the process.