quasi random (kaolinfire) wrote,
quasi random
kaolinfire

how do you learn?

I have many interests, and theoretically all my time at the moment is free, beyond basic chores such as feeding and minimally grooming myself, and addictions such as the aforementioned food, and sleep (thankfully, breathing doesn't seem to get :in the way: of doing other things).

I don't have much of an attention span, so far as I can tell. Possibly working on a project that could possibly help measure that, to some extent (a super-duper-and-the-kichen-sink to-do list).

There are many fields I want to dive into, and many I just want to know better. There are things I want to do better than I currently do. There are things I want to do that I don't, yet. I don't progress in these fields nearly as well as I feel I ought to. Some fields I don't learn about at all--I buy the books and they sit on my shelf and I don't read them. I don't do anything. I really wonder where all my time goes... (writing posts like this? No, this post is far more interesting, I think, than my typical whine whine whine...)

I learn best by doing. This means learning things related to programming and writing tend to happen more (almost exclusively), compared to things like robot building and learning about neuroscience/psychology/biochemistry...

I had a year's subscription to Nature Neuroscience. I tried reading it. It was way beyond me. I got a subscription to Nature Biochemistry. I tried reading it. It was even further beyond me. I got a subscription to Nature REVIEWS Neuroscience, and while beyond me, I could get things out of it--at the very least, I could understand enough to get ideas for writing fiction. Possibly bad fiction, but something--an vague understanding of a single idea from a single article. And still, I couldn't find the time to read them. I can't find the time to read this backlog I have.

I really want to get into neuro-electrical engineering. I have since I was 12 or so. But I haven't done anything to move in this direction. Why? I do not know. I have books on ... cognitive science (old, used textbook), cognitive neuroscience (I started to audit but didn't like the teacher nor how he presented material), bioengineering (took a course that covered one chapter in this book), a lot of higher order stuff that's beyond me. I'm applying for a BS program in biochemistry because I think that's a big gap in my knowledge. I have taken basic bio and psych and psych of vision courses, and they were all well and good, but... I haven't gotten anywhere with them, don't use any of that knowledge, and it falls away. It is very frustrating.

The other end of the neuro-electrical engineering is my ee background. I supposedly have one, from four years of electronics courses in high-school and a fraggin BS in EE/cs. Right. So, I never use the material, and my math is weak. I need to rectify my math issues. I have a book on "elementary" linear algebra that I ought to work through, a book on "elementary" differential equations and boundary value problems that I ought to re-study, TWO books (from the two times I attempted the course) on "signals and systems" (continuous and discrete time fourier/laplace/z/etc... transforms). I have a book on "statistics for experimenters" (which is rather &^#%$&^# hardcore from the 70's or so; dense and proper; I started reading this a while ago "for my job", then lost the job with a general downsizing that dropped stock from $2.80 to $0.18), a book on chaotic dynamical systems (which at least is somewhat rigorous and helping me get back into reading rigorous texts and thinking "properly"). I did read a dense textbook on decision theory, but have been quickly losing all useful knowledge of that. I even did the homework problems out of the book. :/

Other interests I should mention, before I go on to where I do spend my time--I want to write (I want to be a published author, and I want to be proud of what I have written), I want to develop music (I have no background in music appreciation or music theory whatsoever...), I want to paint (I barely ever do), I want to be able to draw semi-realistically (I don't, and I don't take the time to learn... I should take a life-drawing class, or something).

Where do I spend my time? Well, a fair chunk is spent sleeping, but that's, to some extent, understandable. A large chunk is spent rebelling against myself, feeling unable to work or think or do anything but stare at the screen, refreshing livejournal, reading my comics (ooh, time to read another day's comics... okay, comics read--I think that took about 10-20 minutes.), reading and replying to email (mostly just reading), waiting for email to show up to read (i.e. really, REALLY procrastinating). Some time is spent reminding Amy that I love her, spending time with her.

And the tiny bit left over goes into writing and programming. (And occasionally, very occasionally, reading something--most likely fiction.)

As far as programming goes--I like it. I like it a lot. It's been a hobby for longer than I've been conscious of hobbies. I've done it for school, I've done it for pay, and I'd really like to do it for pay again (failing a more emotionally rewarding job in neuroelectrical engineering, but I don't see how the hell I'd pull that off at the moment).

First interview in 8 months yesterday. Phone. I don't think it went well, but they're supposed to call me back in about a week to let me know whether they went to do an in-person round. :/ The only reason I got that interview is because Paul knows the founder and recommended me to it, so far as I can tell. I owe him drinks or something for that.

The interview was on tuesday, and I'm fairly sure I posted about it already. But essentially, I really, REALLY don't think it went well. So last night I went out and bought a bunch of books: Design Patterns, Antipatterns, Refactoring, UML Distilled (those four so I would know more lingo), joe celko's sql for smarties and sql puzzles & answers (those two because I want to be better at sql than three years of hacking at it with no instruction has made me), and... mastering algorithms with perl, just because perl is cool and that book seems to go well with my "introduction to algorithms" (cormen, leiserson, rivest) book... not that I actually use perl for anything. :/

So I have all this stuff I want to learn. I have all these projects I'm working on (slowly making bits of progress here and there, but mostly whining about how I'm not progressing with anything...). eh? EH? YEARGH!?

I really should give up on my anti-addiction stance and become a speed freak. Or at least a caffeine freak. :/ I don't think I will, though. I don't think. Caffeine is such a little evil...

Oh yeah, and I really need to start working out. My waist-size combined with my lack-of-job combined with my just-turned-25 combined with my less-energy-than-I-used-to-have are all completely undermining my self-confidence. :/

and that took 43 minutes to write, including the time to read comics, send a few short emails, read some responses to them, and stuff like that.
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