Okay so for the past month I wasted a lot of my time (binging JCS, playing Mordhau, doomscrolling) and I think writing out my general summer goals will be helpful for a couple reasons: (1) even though few people I know read this blog, I hope I'll feel some amount of accountability to follow through, (2) when people ask me what I'm doing I hope to not give ad-hoc answers, (3) I think writing in general makes me think more deeply about the content, and I want to think more deeply about my goals and (4) I think it'll be interesting to look back this in the fall and beyond.


I've been split between trying to improve at either Age of Empires II, Poker, or Chess. AoE is stressful to play and I don't want to ruin the childhood nostalgia I have for it. They're also releasing co-op campaigns and I think that'll be more fun than 1v1 Arabia wars. As for Poker, I enjoy it in-person with friends but I'd suspect none of my friends would want to grind it as much as I would want to this summer, leaving only online. While crypto has revived online to some degree, I think it's hard to improve online because you tend not to play with the same people and you don't have the fun of in-person tells. Also I don't want to go broke.

That leaves Chess, which is probably my weakest of the three. I'm not really sure where to start right now. This past week I've been working through puzzles on LiChess, but I don't think I have a (strong) foundation. I know control middle, don't fuck up your pawn structure, and don't do this. I've got Kasparov's Masterclass downloaded which I may binge through to get a sense of where to start. I've also got friends who already play and are very good (at least seem very good to me, probably how I seem 'good' at AoE to them) so maybe I can get some coaching.


It didn't hit me that "wow I'm not going to see most of my classmates ever again" until maybe a week after graduation. And I'm still now sure how I feel about that. Asking my self "how do I want to spend my last summer where I will have the least number of responsibilities" was a wake-up call to spend more time in-person with my friends (especially compared to spending time pubbing TF2 or binging Sopranos a third time). And to be realistic, I probably won't keep in touch with 80% of them after freshmen year – when I began to focus on academics and robotics Sophomore year, I only kept in touch with maybe three main friends (and that was when I would see my main friend group nearly every day).

David and I have been hiking twice this week which has been fun (and I can sub in hiking for running in my workout, I hate running). I've been using AllTrails which has a big enough userbase near Madison that there are fairly accurate and up-to-date reviews and statistics of nearby places. Maybe I'll make a post later once we hit all the nearby places summarizing my thoughts. Also, Aidan's getting back from rowing competitions next week so I'm hoping we can wrap up our Pathfinder game and go fishing with the fellas like last summer.


I haven't read for the sake of reading in a long time. It's gotten to the point where I have a que of books that I've asked for over the years just sitting on my shelf. Two years back, I started scheduling my day down to the 15-minute mark and I think I've never given my self the opportunity to sit down for an extended period of time and read. It's crazy to think that I read as much as I did when I did those library summer reading programs (Now that I think of it, I was so cool that I used to do two library's reading programs at once).

Anyways, last week I started Positively Fifth Street and I have Atlas Shrugged, Harassment Architecture, and Cat's Cradle ready on my bookshelf. Using this site to figure out word counts, it's around 500,000 words in all (for what it's worth, Rand's work is 327k). Lets say I can read 250 words a minute and I have six weeks left of summer. Doing the math, I need to read about an hour a day. I know I do anything best when I'm in flow, so I think I'll try and read my seven hours in two sessions each week. I don't want to schedule reading down to the hour, rather just set the expectation of "I'm going to read this afternoon" so I avoid overloading my mind during those sessions.

Don't 'Learn', Do Projects

This may just be me, but I do not enjoy learning all the nuances behind learning a programming language. I like diving in head first. I learned my first language, Python, by dicking around with discord.py and building a Discord bot my freshmen summer. I doubt that I wouldn't have learned nearly as much compared to if I had followed a course. That's not to say that courses don't have good content, I would've gotten bored.

For example: Two weeks ago I tried learning C++ from the start with learncpp.com and it was tedious. Nothing against the site, but it a time sink because I'd have to go page after page skimming past stuff I already knew while trying to pick out what knowledge I didn't already know. Compare this to me learning Ruby a month ago when I threw together an RSS generator for AoPS : I learned all sorts of stuff not only about Ruby, but also about Heroku and the steps behind getting code from my PC to a server.

That being said, while I've got a huuuge backload of projects in my todo list I honestly have lost the spark-of-interest I previously had for most of them. Throughout this summer, I don't want to force myself to work on something I'm not actively interested in. Rather, I want to work on projects spontaneously when ideas come to me – that's when I learn most. After all, I'll have at least four years to formally learn information and follow class projects :p.