Vacation! Means working harder than I did all semester.

The upside of never having to leave your house is that you can improve your efficiency quite a lot.  No travel time, right?  And no pants.  (Well, yes pants.  I will be coming back to that.) But it's also incredibly difficult to force yourself to do stuff for which there's no external pressure, and no external deadlines.  I'm not thrilled about that idea, so I am creating a plan.  Starting off, things I intend to accomplish by the start of classes, January 23.

  • Finish a draft of the new story I'm working on
  • Learn Regular Expresions
  • Learn all the concepts covered by the College Algebra CLEP Test via Khan Academy
  • Get my college finances sorted out
  • Get my spaces (bedroom, office) clean and organized

Of course, I've wanted to accomplish lots of stuff like this in vacations past, and I've failed.  Doing stuff on vacations is hard.  It's easy to just let days slip by without doing anything at all of substance, especially when most of my work involves sitting directly in front of the internet.

I also need structure.

I have the rest of this week (4 days) plus four whole weeks (28 days) plus the days at the start of the week classes start (3 days).  That's 35 days total, a little over a month.

I'm scheduling regular expressions study every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the first day of classes, excluding the 18th, which is a production night for the school paper.

Khan Academy is a bit more in-depth, I will be going straight down the list of required topics and getting through them at a regular rate:

Algebraic operations

  • Factoring and expanding polynomials
  • Operations with algebraic expressions
  • Operations with exponents
  • Properties of logarithms

Equations and inequalities

  • Linear equations and inequalities
  • Quadratic equations and inequalities
  • Absolute value equations and inequalities
  • Systems of equations and inequalities
  • Exponential and logarithmic equations

Functions and their properties

  • Definition and interpretation
  • Representation/modeling (graphical, numerical, symbolic, and verbal representations of functions)
  • Domain and range
  • Algebra of functions
  • Graphs and their properties (including intercepts, symmetry, and transformations)
  • Inverse functions

Number systems and operations

  • Real numbers
  • Complex numbers
  • Sequences and series
  • Factorials and Binomial Theorem
  • Determinants of 2-by-2 matrices

There are 20 total.  If I get through 2 a week, starting this week, I can be prepared for the College Algebra CLEP test by the start of the next semester.  I will be working on that every weekday, starting tomorrow.

I will do something that resembles cleaning or organizing every day, starting today.

I applied to Clarion this year, and I hope I get in, but even if I don't, I need to work harder on my writing, which means I need to expose myself to more and better criticism.  That in mind, over the rest of this week, starting today, I'm going to look into online writing communities.  On Friday, I'm going to pick one, and make a commitment over the course of the vacation to participate in it regularly, in whatever way is appropriate and constructive for that community.

Pants!  I said I was coming back to this.  It's easy not to leave the house for a vacation, and it's easy to not get anything done.  But (a.) I don't want to close myself off to opportunities to do things with friends this vacation, and (b.) I want the productivity and mood boosts that come with getting dressed in the morning.  So, I'm going to be keeping score.  Every day, I'm going to earn Pants Points (beta 1.0):

Underwear: 1pt.  Pants: 2pts.  T-shirt: 2pts.  Overshirt: 5pts.  Accessories: 5pts.  Belt/suspenders: 5pts.  Socks: 2pts.  Shoes: 3pts.  Double points if the article of clothing is clean.  50 points for the day if I do everything and all the relevant clothing items are clean.  That's max 50 points per day, max score: 1750.  I probably won't make that, but I'm going to aim for 1000 points.  Points will be recorded in my day planner, and I will report my score to date every Friday.

Finally, there's the big, important problem:  Minecraft.  I spend way too much time playing it when I could be doing more productive things.

So, new rule:  Here are the things that, if they are on a day's schedule, I have to finish, before I get to play Minecraft OR watch any lets-plays on YouTube:

  • Blog
  • External work
  • Clean
  • Regular Expressions
  • Khan Academy
  • Getting dressed (Yep, no Minecraft in my underwear.  It's against the rules now.)

I've already failed to meet that standard for today, because I got up and played Minecraft for like two hours earlier, and I'm still not dressed.  But those rules, starting tomorrow, are law.