This year is going to be a year of many projects, and this blog will be my log of it all.
I’m probably at my happiest when I’m making, repairing, designing, or hacking something, especially if it involves learning new skills. Even if I’m just learning to use a sewing machine, I love that it expands my toolkit for solving problems in daily life, making me that much more capable as a person. I’ve known this about myself for a long time, and I’m always thinking of ideas for new projects, but I haven’t always made it a priority in my life to find time to carry them out.
For the last few months, I’ve been getting back into an old habit of mine, which is evaluating activities in terms of whether or not they’re ‘enriching’. An enriching activity is one that permanently enhances me as a person, giving me something: new skills, a wider and/or deeper knowledge base, a new perspective.
To be clear, I’m not saying that people should make every choice in life based on this criteria, because there are a lot of things which have no long term benefit but are still important. A good way to think of it is that we should pursue our short term needs and wants to the extent that they help us maintain a good mental, emotional, and physical state, but the goal should be to invest in ourselves by choosing for our hobbies things that have significant enriching value.
As I’ve been easing back into this mentality, I’ve found it incredibly rewarding. In the last 6 months alone, just in terms of skills, I’ve learned to:
- grow and maintain a hydroponic herb garden,
- grow ginger from a rhizome,
- make kimchi,
- use a sewing machine,
- use a soldering iron,
- make a couple things using a RaspberryPi,
- use 3D modeling software to design some earrings to be 3D printed,
- use the NEOS server to solve optimization problems,
- use iPython notebooks to keep better records of my work process,
- put my research results into a Pandas DataFrame so I can easily run queries and produce tables,
- import 20-year old Fortran code into Python,
- and use Google Compute Engine to run code on a cloud server.
For 2015, I have a lot more projects lined up, including:
- learning to follow industry coding standards better,
- 3D printing some of the models I’ve made (mostly superhero themed earrings) and possibly opening up an Etsy store to sell them,
- learning skills for bookbinding and repair,
- making an Android app,
- making more stuff with the Raspberry Pi,
- making parts of my research code available online,
- using the sewing machine and crafty skills to repair various things around the house,
- writing recipes to teach my fiance how to cook,
- and posting about it all here.
It’s going to be a great year. Wish me luck!