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On my run this morning I was grooving to the Positively 10th Street podcast from the Wilson family. Josh and Emily were psyched it was summer, Josh was farting, and Fred and Emily started riffing on “School’s Out for the Summer.”
School’s actually on for me in the summer. Amy and I are about to head up to Alaska where I dramatically change my rhythm for a couple of months. I’m still working full time – probably more effective then usual – since I eliminate face to face meetings (especially the random ones), eliminate travel, and compress stuff down to things that matter. But – the pace changes.
As part of the change, I choose a few things to go “intellectually deep on.” I figure I get three hours a day back from all the friction of the normal work stuff (travel, random useless meetings, waiting for people, sitting through stupid things that you can’t easily get up and walk away from, lunch meetings just because someone forgot to say no – you get the picture.) So – I’m taking three “self-directed” classes this summer.
Class 1: Programming. I’m a pretty good programmer, but I haven’t done anything seriously in a long time (I like to say that I’m one of the world’s best BASIC programmers, but that would have been before Visual Basic. Wanna know about early versions of the Microsoft BASIC compiler and Btrieve (before Novell bought it) – email me.) So I’m going to start with Brian Harvey’s “Computer Science Logo Style 2/e, Vol. 1: Symbolic Computing” and then retake MIT’s 6.001 using MIT’s OpenCourseWare and the online version of Abelson and Sussman’s Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.
Class 2: Drawing. My mother is a fantastic artist and Amy and I have a large modern art collection. I can barely read my handwriting, let alone draw anything. I’m going to start with Betty Edward’s highly acclaimed The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and see where it takes me.
Class 3: A New Kind of Science. I bought Stephen Wolfram’s book A New Kind of Science when it first came out and it sat on a table and stared intimidatingly at me all last summer. Every now and then I’d pick it up and read through a few of the end notes and look at the pictures. This summer, I’m going to tackle it in a systematic way, with plenty of help from the website and the NKS Explorer software.
So – in addition to everything else, school’s on this summer.