I like to make plans. Honestly, I like to plan more than I actually like to do, so I’ll end up with big, complex, impressive-looking plans and then never follow up on them. That’s just the way that I am, but this semester I’m going to try something different. Instead of coming up with a big, complex plan, I’m going to have a shorter, more general plan and attempt to accomplish these things this semester. I need to determine metrics to allow me to track my own progress, and I also need to allow for the fact that I am not a 24/7 working machine.
So I will use the power of the blog to create my plan for the next semester. This way, I’m putting some amount of reputation on the line: by regularly updating this, I can show that I’m actually progressing as I should be and not just slacking off all of the time.
Now, without much more ado, here’s my list:
1) Improve my Hebrew skills. This one is a no-brainer. I want to learn Hebrew and right now is my best opportunity to, as I have several Israeli friends here, am taking a Hebrew course, and finally have the spare time to do so. My metric for this will primarily be based around my knowledge of the Hebrew textbook that we have, combined with my religious texts and whatever else I might be able to find. By August, I should be able to:
- hold a rudimentary conversation
- read approximately 2/3 or 3/4 as fast as I can read English or German
- have roughly 400 words in my active vocabulary and 800 or so in my passive vocabulary
- have a fair understanding of the grammar, particularly with verb conjugation and possessive
- generally read Hebrew without using the vocalization
- understand a newspaper article with the help of a dictionary
These are the metrics I would like to use, and if I can accomplish or approximate them, I will be very happy.
2) Program more. I have to get back into the habit of programming, as this is what I’ll be doing In Real Life. I did some last summer, but it was pretty light. I want to get back into some C++ programming, perhaps coming up with a rudimentary game. Because I would like to do artificial intelligence, it would be very helpful to do AI programming, which also implies working on a game or two.
3) Read more German books. It’s been a while since I’ve really put any effort into reading in German. This summer, I would like to do some more of that, finishing at least two or three books. I have some interesting ones on my bookshelf and so I have plenty of material. The good news is that I can read them while I travel, so if I only bring German-language material when I travel around, I should get these finished, even if I slack off at home.
4) Write my thesis. This is the only thing I am required to do. My thesis will be about using genetic algorithms to try to come up with an evolutionarily successful solution to a prisoner’s dilemma with an exit option available. Because the metrics for this one are exogenous, I don’t have to determine them here. Instead, I just have to work on developing an algorithm, writing the program, setting up the prisoner’s dilemma framework, and writing a paper discussing the results.
5) Research Freiburg-Austrian school links. This is actually the official reason I came to Germany and particularly to Freiburg. I am interested in the Ordoliberalism of the Freiburg school and how it interacted with the Austrian school in the 1930s, and I would like to do some research on this and crib together sufficient notes to perhaps sketch out a manuscript and eventually publish it. This is the best place to get the Freiburg school papers, and I already have a good understanding of the Austrian school, so I might be able to get something to work here. This, being my most grandiose and unlikely-to-succeed project, will probably have rather vague metrics associated with it. However, if 1-4 don’t fill up too much of my days, I could get some work done on 5.
With this said, we shall see how much of this I am able to accomplish. Unlike my wish lists for previous breaks and vacations, this one is pretty general. What will often happen is that I will have a page full of material and expect to do every single thing on the list. By the end of the break, I usually end up accomplishing roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of it. So this time, if I keep it minimalist, I might be able to get this stuff done. But I will pop in from time to time with updates and we’ll see.