Learning How To Learn: Week 4 Notes


How to Become a Better Learner

Exercise and New Experiences are Critical

New neurons are born in you hippo-campus every day. These neurons can survive and help you to remember things. Exercising and having new experiences are the two best activities to help these new neurons survive.
Exercise is better than any over the counter drug and vitalizes every organ!

Understanding Concepts

Learning isn’t a linear process. With periods of frustration you will surprisingly find that  you will make significant leaps forward. Your brain is wrestling with the idea and might be reorganizing and making a deeper understanding.

make metaphors or visual analogies.

Don’t be afraid to make new ones either.
All models are metaphors that break down at some point.
Metaphors and visualizations have been helpful in science, engineering, and art.
It’s often helpful to pretend you are the concept you are trying to learn.

Don’t have genius envy

At a high level, understanding why you do something will slow you down. (chess players, pilots, surgeons)

Having a smaller working memory that doesn’t lock in as tightly can be a benefit. With a smaller memory you are able to tie in other pieces of information together and are less likely to be overly attached to your assumptions.

Being smart can hinder creativity and  can encounter due to einstelling.

John McGuire Interview

Put objects in your writing

Clarity First

Stop trying to be impressive, and be completely clear.

It’s easy to get over abstract and too may “-ion” and “-tion” words
ex: nation conversation.

write about the things while writing about abstraction.
Abstraction: nutrition
Things: fruits

  • Things
  • Active verbs
  • People
    When in doubt, write a short sentence.
    Don’t edit while writing. Keep going.
    Print out a draft and edit on paper.

Question to ask yourself near the end of writing

What am I trying to say?
What must I not leave out?



Learning How to Learn: Week 3 Memory and Procrastination

Just like how it takes time to build muscles, we need to do the same for our brain muscles. Do something each and every day.


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How To Tackle Procrastination

  • keep a planner journal
  • commit you to certain routines and take each day
  • arrange work into small pieces.
  • Deliberately delay reward until you finish the task
  • watch for procrastination cues
  • gain trust in the new system
  • have backup plans when you still procrastinate.


    The cue inevitably happen. It’s how we respond to the cue that matters most

    The routine zombie mode your brain goes into when it’s triggered by the cue. Realize this and remind yourself of the task at hand and get back to focusing.

    The reward It’s important to reward good study time so you aren’t as attracted to procrastination

    The belief

    • you believe the the habit is doing surrendering you crave. What is it?
    • What keeps you coming back to the habit.
    • what is the common cue? Is there a way to avoid this without having to use a lot of willpower?

      Process vs. Product

      It’s normal that negative thoughts will appear when first starting a tasks as your shit brain wants the easy way out.
      Focus on the building process, not the end product and your state of mind will be in a better place and you will be more productive.
      The product is the trigger of pain that will stop. Calmly put together your best effort.
      Focusing on process helps you to relax into the flow of the work. When a distraction arises, train yourself to let if flow by.

      Juggling Life and Learning

      Write weekly list of key tasks
      Daily to do list
      If you don’t make a list, persistent todos hang around and take up slots of your working memory, taking up valuable mental real estate. but a task list frees us.
      Planning your quitting time is as important as planning tasks.
      Do the most important task first in the morning. ( at least 1 Pomodoro)

Learning to Code, 1 year later

Learning to Code, 1 year later


Todo List

Bar Locator

Stock Market Graph

It is a wonderful feeling to have the ability to write text and  then watch your your thoughts and ideas come to life. You can make   real applications and information systems with a simple text editor. I would employ anyone that learning to code is worth the effort and frustration. I have banged my head against the keyboard a good number of times and was very frustrated trying to learn the concepts, but after persisting through the hard times, I can make applications that are only limited by my feeble mind and creativity.


I started to teach myself how to program almost a year ago. I went from someone who dabbled in Front End projects to being able to make fully functional web apps.

Why I chose JavaScript

There are so many computer programming languages. It is hard to choose where to begin. The choices are overwhelming. This info-graphic is a good starting point for beginners. I really liked the comparison at the bottom of the page. However, if I would have followed the advice of the info-graphic I probably would have chosen Python of Java.

So why did I choose to learn Javascript? Well the inspiration came from Derek Sivers. Here is the article in which inspired me to learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript s a great

My Struggles and How you can avoid them

I started learning with the O’Reilly books and was a great starting point. They introduce you to making a basic html page, with no technology involved.
After a couple weeks of struggling to understand the concepts, I moved on to the challenges and made a battleship game.
I then started to do the Free Code Camp. This is where my learning took a sharp trajectory.

Free Code Camp

I would recommend FCC for anyone tryign to learn becuase their introductory modules are interactive, challenging, and well documented. The algorithms challenge the beginner and their web projects really make you think, and others are there to help.

However, after working through the introduction videos I would recommend that a significant amount of practice time come through building your own projects rather than using codepen as the base for projects.

What I Learned

View Library: React

State Management: Redux

Database: MongoDB / SQL

Server: Nodejs w/ Express framework

Serverless: AWS

IDE: Webstorm


Learning How to Learn: Week 2 Notes


Week 2 Notes

The Importance of Recall

Recalling is mini-testing and is more effective than re-reading the material.
The Recalling process helps build in hooks we can hang ideas on.
Re-reading only helps when increase time b/w reading and make it a more of a spaced repetition.

Illusions of Competence

  • Test yourself
  • Minimize highlighting
  • Mistakes are good (you can find where you lack competence)
    Only looking at a solution and thinking you know it is a common delusion of learning. You must have it persistent in your memory.
    Highlighting material can trick you into believing you know the material.
    A good rule is one highlighted item or one per paragraph. Writing in the margin is a better idea.
    A Chunk is…

    Focused Attention

Chunks you learned in one area can help you learn chunks in other areas.

Scott Young Interview

Dude compressed 4 years CS at MIT into 1 year of self-learning. He spent the next year travelling to 4 different countries to learn the languages via full immersion.


  • Get into problems and try to be wrong as quickly as possible.
    • MIT problem sets without having the solutions check after only you feel the stress and the grind.
  • Read bio of Richard Feynman
  • Blank piece of paper and writes a todo manual. Gets to a point where you can not be too precise and you can go back to the notes and textbook and figure out you are missing.
  • Being bad at subjects is mostly not having the experience in the area.
  • Don’t be disappointed by setbacks.
  • Always have a mission
    • you need motivation and concrete projects that are exciting.
  • MIT opencourseware
  • Highly focused time
  • Anki for flash cards
  • Personally, Scott studies 3 to 4 hours per day to learn languages.

    Interview with Dr. Norman Fortenberry

    Quote: Engineering is a team sport, and you have to make sure they are serious about their studies as well.
    In Engineering School, you are part of a team. The expectation is that there are course notes and course bibles. You have to make sure you make the connections to the people that have the resources that you need.

    Amy Alkon – writer

    Work every day little by little on a piece that you are doing. and while you are doing something other than writing the information has a chance to have a change to assimilate in your brain.
    How to fight procrastination
    Your brain wants to do anything other than writing. She sets the Pomodoro timer and tries to lose herself in the work during this period.
    How to approach books
    Like a buffet. Take pieces there and there that you want. You can pick and choose where to start, where to stop.
    It’s important to be a critical reader.
    How to remember key points
    Write down main points and have it around for you to see while you are in diffuse mode.


Learning How to Learn: Week 1 Notes

“The first principal is you must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman

Your brain does not come with an instruction manual.” – Dr Sejnowski

Its hard to make an online course.There is no penalty for dropping the course,and most end up doing so. However, the Learning How to Learn class by Coursera is a must  take for everyone.  It’s insightful and is motivating.
I learned the most from the optional interviews with people. They interview amazing people people who have compressed 4 years of college into one year to leading experts in their respective fields.

I wanted to share the notes I took during week 1:

Focused and Diffuse Modes of Thinking

There are two types of thinking, diffuse and focused thoughts.

Focused mode is typically what people think of thoughts.Happens when you are doing simple algebra. This type of linear thinking. We are trying to connect the dots and advance one thought to another.


Diffused mode you look at things broadly from a very different, big-picture perspective. You can make new neural connections traveling along new pathways. You can’t understand the finest aspects but you can get into the initial place you need to be to find a solution. Diffuse mode is especially useful when you are trying to lean new, difficult thing.

I think everyone could practice trying to use the diffuse mode of thinking. I found it especially useful when trying to learn a song on guitar. When I am introducing myself to learn a song, I found I learn the song way faster if I just jam along trying to time up the right hand and then later incorporating the left.

I used to spend so much time getting stuck on pieces of a song, getting frustrated. Now I have fun and enjoy the time I’m spending.


How to use the Diffuse Mode

Two examples the course went over to explain how people would use diffuse thinking were Thomas Edison and Dali.

Dali would get into diffuse mode by relaxing in a chair with a key in hand tied to a string that was dangling from the floor. He would let his mind go free, still vaguely thinking about what he had been previously focusing on.

When he would fall asleep, the key would fall from his hand, hit the floor, and wake him up. He would gather up the diffuse mode connections and ideas in his mind. He’d immediately go off into focus mode bringing all the new connections he just made.


Interview with Dr. Sejnowski

  • Learn from active engagement. If you are bored, ask a question. You learn more from actively engaging than passively listening.
  • Exercise to get the mind into a new mode
    • Exercise helps new neurons which are born in the hippo-campus each day survive
  • Multitasking = context switching


Why We Should Destroy the NSA and Dept. of Education 

America will never be able to escape out of its national debt. At over $19 trillion dollars, we are having a hard time even keeping up with only paying the interest and we are in a death spiral we cannot escape.

Government is the workings of keeping the vested interests who have hijacked the government. Taxpayers subsidize millionaire tobacco farmers (totaling $1.5 billion from 1995-2012), collect taxes selling them to its citizens, and subsidize  the department of health billions of dollars to treat people when they are dying from tobacco.  The scam isn’t going to end any time soon as  in 2013 the  Senate rejected an amendment to end tobacco farm subsidies. The governemt has been hijacked by vested interests and the state is too bloated NSA, Department of Education, and Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Education is a terrible agency and should be disabandonded.

Obama administration will require transgender bathrooms in the fall. This is another example of the federal government actively making a situation worse by intervention. President Jimmy Carter introduced the Federal Department of Education in the 1980s. (53:00 Gary Johnson Joe Rogan Experience). And what has the department of education provided us since the 80s? Sure, the government will provide schools with some funding, but with this funding comes mandates. In fact, for every $0.11 the federal government supplies to schools, they require $0.15 in mandates in return. Schools are simply children prisons, and their goal is not to make well rounded individuals, but to get people ready to become wage slaves and make the government money.


The NSA was established by an executive order singed by Truman that the president could appeal. We do not need an agency that spies on Americans. We need to redirect their efforts to have satellites on the bad guys instead of Americans.

Edward Snowden revealed the NSA was performing unconstitutional searches on Americans and former US attorney general Eric Holder, who just a couple of years ago said that Snoweden “harmed American interests” by releasing files,  has come full circle and stated on Dan Axelrod’s podcast that Edward Snowden performed a public service by starting a conversation about government surveillance techniques.

It was created in response to the September 11 attacks. In fiscal year 2011 it was allocated a budget of $98.8 billion and spent, net, $66.4 billion.

With more than 240,000 employees,[1] DHS is the third largest Cabinetdepartment, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.[6]

Simple Potatoes and Veggies

How to Season:

Salt and pepper go in everything!

Typically 2 – 4 pinches of salt per lb. of food

Salt food as you go, you can always add more.


Soak potatoes in a bowl of water and rub dirt off.

Cooking Options: Bake or Microwave

For microwaved potatoes: Place in microwave until done (1 potato ~ 8 – 10 min).

Baked potatoes:
Optional: season outside of potato with oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder etc.

If you don’t want to season outside simply place directly on the oven rack.

If you season potatoes place them on a sheet pan as not to spill oil.

Bake in 400 degree oven until done (about an hour and no need to preheat the oven)

How to season potatoes after cooking:

Poke holes in center of potato with a fork ~10 times.

Squeeze potato from outside (be careful, hot) to open potato and season inside liberally with butter, salt, pepper, etc.

Potatoes need a lot of seasoning. I love to add fried eggs on top


Baked Veggies:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season asparagus with oil, salt, pepper, and optional garlic, onion powder, etc……

Bake on sheet pan with aluminum foil for ~15 minutes.

Taste for seasoning.

Microwaved Veggies

Cook frozen veggies 1 lb at a time and save leftovers for later meals.

Place in microwavable safe container with ~ 4 tablespoons of water per lb.

Cook ~ 8 – 10 minutes or until desired tenderness.