Learning Something Every Day of 2016: March Report

Three months and still going strong-ish. A whole quarter of a year has passed, yikes. At times this month the marathon feeling of this endeavor started to sink in. Am I still doing this I ask? Looks like! Dedicating 30 minutes to learning is still not a problem. But I had another goal for this month… drawing! How’d that work out?

spreadsheet screenshot, things learned by date

The things I learned in March.

Pretty well. Originally my goal was Draw every day of March but that turned into Complete all 30 exercises from You Can Draw In 30 Days. Which, since there were only 20 left, is a smaller and more easily achievable goal. This is partly a sly way of convincing myself that I was still on track after missing several days, and partly an example of any task expanding to fill the time allotted to it. But I did complete that goal at least, hurray!

This was probably the longest most systematic practice of art/drawing I’ve ever undertaken, not counting when I was younger and simply drew all the time because I hadn’t discovered computer programming yet.

The real trick will be continuing to draw every day (or at least “frequently”) as a habit, which is not something that has become ingrained yet. Doing one thing every day seems to be ok. Two is pushing it. Three is really hard, and I really didn’t manage to do as much programming as I’d hoped.

Previously:

Successes

I completed all of the Khan Academy trigonometry content. It was interesting to go through the review and feel all the same things that made sense or struggled with in high-school.

I filed my taxes because I am an adult.

I finished all of the exercises in You Can Draw in 30 Days.

“Challenges”

Daylight saving time messed me up more than I expected, for nearly a week I was fatigued and groggy. This is the kind of thing that completely derails side-projects when I’ve approached them in the past, so I’m glad that I managed to keep up with the 30 minutes of learning, even if my secondary goals did suffer.

Even once I had recovered from DST, I also had some back/leg pain issues to deal with, which mostly manifested as a constant energy drain. Not to make excuses, but it definitely had an effect on my energy level for coding in particular.

I started off reading through Programming Language Pragmatics as it has been on my shelf, and to-read list for years. I’ve made it about 13 of the way through so far. But man, it is dry reading. I switched to more rewarding topics for the rest of the month.

I’m still not quite sure whether it’s best to focus on things that seem of most immediate flavour of the month usefulness, or use this time in particular to tackle those things which while uninspiring are useful long term, even if a bit bland to work through.

Checking The List

Synergy

I think for April I might try specifically to focus all of my efforts in a coordinated direction. This would mean focusing my learning time on topics (design or technical) specifically useful to my hobby project, using my art time to work on Blender skills to build at least passable first-pass assets for the project, and obviously coding time to continue working on the project itself.

I still want to return to the Khan content on Algebra and Calculus. But those would likely take several more months. I’m not sure focusing on that right now would be the right thing when I have other mid-term goals that could benefit from the time spent covering more immediately relevant subjects.

Mental Traps

We all have beliefs or assumptions which can hinder us. I can’t do this. Somethingorother is too hard for me. I’m not that kind of person. Where do these come from? I don’t know, probably a variety of places. I know I have a variety of mantras that I tell or answer myself when I’m considering what I should do with my time. Previously some of mine were “It’s too tiring to try and do something every day.” and “I won’t have the time I deserve to relax if I do anything other than play games/watch tv at home.”. As it turns out, having now tried for 3 months straight the former is untrue, and the latter is just unhelpful entitlement bullshit.

The tricky part is that these things seem sensible if you don’t take the time to examine them, and I certainly don’t most of the time. They become a part of how I respond to the world.

For as long as I can remember, probably since I entered elementary school, I have despised memorization tasks. I still do. My mental model says “Memorization of anything is not a worthwhile activity.” This is something I run into when working on trigonometry because a big part of it is remembering and applying a (what I consider to be) giant set of identities. I remember in highschool this is also where my understanding, performance in, and enjoyment of, trig really began to suffer.

I honestly don’t know if I’m actually particularly worse at memorization that other people and hate it because of that, or if I’ve convinced myself that because memorization is below me that I simply don’t apply myself in a way that would allow me to succeed. I certainly conduct most of my life with the help of memory aides, google being the biggest and best these days. I’m rarely even confident that I can reliably remember my own birthdate.

It’s something that probably bears some personal investigation.

TL;DR

Time marches on.