I’m not sure I’ve ever had a summer “off”. This summer is pretty close. I’m teaching two nights a week for eight weeks. I mean, I have other things to do, but it’s not official time at a specific location. As a post-doc and graduate student, summers were always heavy research times. When I was in high school and college, I worked at a summer sleep-away Girl Scout camp, so that was 8 weeks of work every summer. Before that, I went to camp as a camper and did other things like summer band. Yes, I went to band in the summer. What about it? One summer, I realized I would be home for like, a month, so I volunteered at the local food pantry three days a week.
I think what I’m saying is that I don’t just relax. Actually, I find a lot of geeks have this issue, where they always want something to do. Well, I’m here with a list of five ideas to take a nice, normal summer vacation (if you have one), and make it a little more nerdy. If you don’t have summers off, you can probably still fit one or two of these into your life if you just need to increase your quotient of nerd.
1. Take a summer class.
I’m teaching a summer class, does that count? This is a great time to learn something fun and different.Lots of communities have local places that teach classes on things like fitness, cooking, traveling, whatever you might want. Also, you can now take free college courses online on places like Coursera and Udacity for free. Algorithms: Design and Analysis is just about to start!
2. Teach Yourself a Language
Someday, I want to learn German. I think I just like all the really long funny words. I’m also part German. However, this is a good time to play with something like this. You could buy a program like the ubiquitous Rosetta Stone, but I also found some good ideas on teaching yourself from Lifehacker.
3. Become Obsessed with Something
One summer, I read the entire unabridged Les Miserables. Actually, it was while I was riding the bus to summer band. Another summer, the husband and I got caught up on 4 seasons of Supernatural. Pick something you have an interest in and just go for it. Make it a daily habit to be involved, and then get on the internet and learn about it. Maybe you’ll keep the obsession after summer, maybe not. It will still be fun.
4. Go on An Educational Field Trip
You can’t take a scientist anywhere. I’m seriously trouble everywhere I go. Take me to a zoo, and I’ll spend 10 minutes staring at the dung beetles wondering how their shiny colors evolved. Take me to an amusement park, and we’ll discuss the physics of the rides. Essentially, you can find things to learn all around you. Probably, there are even some day trips you can take that have educational value, like a local museum of historical center. Or, make a real trip out of it. See all the museums in New York City or all the tech companies in Seattle or do the colonial Virginia tours. No sitting on a beach for us nerds!
5. Organize Things
This sounds a lot like cleaning, but I swear it’s different! We all let things get a bit more of out sorts when we are busy, right? I have a home office that I tend to just toss things in. I mean, I know where they are, more or less, but it’s not pretty. Therefore, part of my summer is going to be organzing the office. That means setting up organizational systems and filing things away appropriately. I’m also planning to reorganize my computer files, which have been stashed and re-stashed through three different academic environments. This isn’t a necessity, but it will make my little OCD nerd brain happier to have things in a particular order. Sometimes, I completely reorganize my itunes just because. Think about John Cusack’s character in High Fidelty with the records, yeah, I can be like that. Just don’t start any organization too big to be put back together by summer’s end! I like to break mine into one-day jobs that cumulatively make up a whole room/computer etc.
There, so, for all you nuts like me who just can’t sit still, ever, now you have lots to do this summer! For all of you who are thinking that they need to come steal me and plop me on a beach somewhere, fair warning, I get cranky in bright sunlight and am allergic to beach flies.
Anyone else doing anything nerdy this summer?