It might be a little late in the year to enumerate the goals that I want to accomplish, but all of these have been floating around in my head for so long that I wanted to get them down in print. Do you have goals for the upcoming year? If so, leave them in the comments!
- Learn Digital Photography. If you haven't done this yet, go to Flickr and just browse through some of the featured photos. It is inspiring what people can do with a digital camera and a bit of post-processing. Every time I look at my own photo library, everything about the shots looks amateur. A really good picture is about 1 in 1000 for me. I want to learn how to take amazing pictures. This involves learning not only about cameras (focal length, shutter speed, exposure), but also about the digital toolset that is integral to producing a good photo. I know very little about how to use Photoshop. It also requires expertise in color theory. When people throw around terms like saturation and tone, I have no idea what they are talking about. I would love to someday be taking pictures that I would be happy to use as my desktop background.
- Finish Snake World Tour. This one doesn't require much explanation. Snake World Tour is a game that I started writing while I was recovering from jaw surgery. I never got around to finishing it, but it's so close. I may have to drop the 2006 from the name, though.
- Run Fast. I had jaw surgery this past summer, and it ruined an entire cross-country season. During recovery, I wasn't allowed to run at all, doctor's orders. I lost six weeks of training, which is about half the summer. And when I came back, it wasn't pretty. My legs looked like sticks and I could barely run 3 miles. Losing two pints of blood will do that to you. It was a long climb back up, but I wasn't ready for the fall season, and I ran really poorly. I was so discouraged that I seriously contemplated quitting for a long time. But I stuck with it because running is something I need in my life, and I knew it would be hard to run every day if I wasn't on the team. Right now, though, I feel faster than ever. My goal for indoor track is to break 9:00 in the 3K. For outdoor track, I want to break 4:10 in the 1500 and 16:00 in the 5K. And for cross-country, in the 8K, I need to get myself under 27 minutes if I want to be taken seriously. These goals represent significant increases over my current PRs, but my training has been going really well lately, so I'll see what happens.
- Learn to Draw. I used to hate art class, because I believed that some people had drawing talent and others didn't. I used to place myself in the latter group. Then a few months ago I bought the book "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. I read the first chapter; it explained that the ability to draw has nothing to do with motor skills; rather its all about perception. I began to look much more closely at things in my everyday life, seeing them as if I was going to draw them. "I can do this," I thought. But I have yet to read past the first chapter. I believe that I could become a competent artist, but I'm nervous about the time it would take me to achieve that goal. Drawing also requires patience, which is not something that I always have. The one good drawing I remember making in my life was of my yard. It was a side-by-side of how it looked at night versus how it looked during the day. I was so proud of it when it was done.
- Read More Books. It's hard to find time to read in college outside of all the reading and homework that I have to do for class, but I should be able to devote a half-hour each night to books of my own choosing. I'm currently in the middle of "Hard Times" by Dickens, and there is a gigantic list of stuff that I want to read after that. More of the Ender series, Moby Dick, Hamlet, The Jungle Book, Vonnegut, Catch-22, A Clockwork Orange, Fitzgerald, and Alice and Wonderland are just what I came up with in 5 seconds. My next book, however, is going to be "The Prestige" by Christopher Priest. I just saw the movie and it was incredible; I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and the movie never came together until the last 5 minutes. (A side note: I absolutely hate books that have been rereleased with a new cover that ties in with the movie version. It's like destroying a work of art.)
- Find a Research Project. This is important. At every college I toured, I asked how easy it was for undergraduates to get involved in research. At the University of Rochester, it's really easy, but I haven't done it yet! I have a meeting on Monday with a professor that I had last year who I really liked. He does research on Computer Architecture - how to design computers at the block level to make them more energy-efficient and, of course, faster. This is an area that I am really interested in myself.
- Go to a music festival. My friend at home put the idea in my head, and another friend at school found me the perfect one. Just check out the lineup. It's in California. Travel is expensive, tickets are expensive, and it's on a school weekend. But we can all dream...