Tag Archives: samurai time

Bend Time Like A Samurai: Personal Kanban

I found the kanban idea so useful that I created one to use in the Writers Room.  I used the format used in the app "Kanbanfor1" that includes "Things to Do" "Next"  "Doing" "Waiting" "Done" and a trashcan icon.  In the app if you try to put too many stickies in the "Doing" box it turns red because you can't be doing too many things at once.   It's made a big difference in organizing my time.  It really helps me to have physical reminders of what I am doing right now and what I have accomplished in a day.

I found the kanban idea so useful that I created one to use in the Writers Room. I used the format used in the app “Kanbanfor1” that includes “Things to Do” “Next” “Doing” “Waiting” “Done” and a trashcan icon. In the app if you try to put too many stickies in the “Doing” box it turns red because you can’t be doing too many things at once. It’s made a big difference in organizing my time. It really helps me to have physical reminders of what I am doing right now and what I have accomplished in a day.

Last week we trooped the family to Bushwick to visit another family.   The husband was really excited by a new time management system that he was using called “kanban.”   He uses it not only to organize his own life but also to manage workflow in his job in software development.   He even gave me a copy of the book that lays out the principles of why this time management system works called Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life.

Kanban is a Japanese word for sign, board, etc.  The set up for this board can begin very simply.  You can have three columns:  backlog, work in progress, and “done.”

  • The Backlog.   The backlog includes items that are traditionally included in things like “to do lists.”  However, most kanban systems rely on sticky notes (physical or virtual) because visualization and movement of tasks is really important.  You need to see what your options are and then “pull” from your options to move into.
  • Work in Progress. This is where you move items from the backlog that you are currently doing.  The trick to this is that you should limit how many tasks you are doing at once because multitasking can become a dangerous juggling act where nothing actually gets accomplished.
  • Done.   This is self-explanatory but so far I’ve discovered that it is really liberating to have this.   First of all, it’s fun to move things into the “done” column.   The second part is that it is also feedback.   I have a bigger picture of what I am accomplishing or the nature of my work and effort.

I’m still exploring how to use this tool but I was so excited about it that I had to include this in the blog.   It really helped to calm me down at the beginning of the school year.  As a teacher, I deal with so many things at once that the beginning of the year can seem like a chaotic swirl even before the students arrive.   Though I hadn’t finished reading Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life, I realized that it was a tool that could help me tame the beast.

I started to put items that I needed to take care of on my “backlog.”   After looking at all the items, I realized that the two best things that I could be doing were cleaning and organizing my classroom by circling around the classroom and also organizing my personal kanban.   Those two items were actually pretty synergistic.  As I came across and organized physical items, I came up with ideas to put on my kanban.   At times, I became overwhelmed but then I could look at “Doing” or “Work in Progress” section to calm myself down and focus.  At the end of the day, I had moved several items to the “Done” section.   This “Done” section not only gave me a view of what I had accomplished in the day but also gave me a deeper picture of my work.  I also realized that if I file these “done” slips I can document what I am actually accomplishing with my time.

I am also co-teaching with someone for the first time.  I get so overwhelmed concentrating on my own work that I often don’t know how to ask for help.   She looked at my kanban and since she doesn’t have her own room, decided to help by organizing my bookshelves.  (Physical organization is something I am working on.)

Kanban is a tool that originally came from Toyota, so it actually a “samurai” tool.  Even though I haven’t fully sussed it out, I know that a lot of people are making new starts this fall, so give it a try or read more about it at personalkanban.com.  Pull don’t push.  Bend time like a samurai.

The Law of Language and Skill Attraction

Keep tinkering with shifts in your environment to attract your skill.  I recently discovered using iTune radio to listen to Japanese radio stations.  Shake it. Shape it.  Your environment that is.  :)

Keep tinkering with shifts in your environment to attract your skill. I recently discovered using iTune radio to listen to Japanese radio stations. Shake it. Shape it. Your environment that is. 🙂

First of all apologies for the title but it just spoke to me.  I’m not some guru who has mastered all skills/languages and can dispense laws from a mountain top.   I am on the path like everyone else, though now I’m enjoying it a whole lot more than I used to.   The other reason that I felt compelled to use the title is because I am reading Thomas Leonard’s The 28 Laws of Attraction:   Stop Chasing Success and Let it Chase You.   This book doesn’t come from the mountaintop either but it’s getting under my skin and helping me ask different questions.

When I read Leonard’s chapter, “Create a Vacuum That Pulls You Forward”  I couldn’t help thinking that Leonard’s ideas were key to developing skills such as learning a language or learning a musical instrument.  Leonard explains that “being pulled forward is attractive; pushing yourself forward isn’t.”   Leonard recommends some steps to make that possible:

  • Realize it’s better to be pulled forward than it is to push yourself forward.
  • Put yourself into creativity-stirring situations.
  • put yourself among friends and colleagues who bring out your best.
  • unhook yourself from who you were; this will let you be pulled forward

When I read this, I felt like I was rediscovering alljapaneseallthetime.com.   (With two children and a busy work life, you have to forgive me that I keep mentioning Khatz’s website.  It’s helped me change a lot of things.  Plus, I don’t get out much.  🙂 )  He was able to learn Japanese fluently not only by studying but by also transforming his environment so it was fun and er, “all Japanese all the time.”  You have to arrange the environment so it pulls you in.  It’s not just about Japanese.   Khatz explains that if you want to run more, have your shoes ready by the door.  By changing my environment ever so slightly–having the guitar out of the case and other small changes–I’ve been writing and playing more.

Here are some quick ways I’ve been incorporating this “Law of Attraction” into my life, especially in the language arena:

  • Create  the environment that pulls you in.
    Surround yourself with the fun and interesting books, music, and people that will pull you into the language or skill.  At first, this meant that I kind of rejected manga and looked at self-help books.  Now it means finding/fumbling around in the manga that I do enjoy.
  • Find the fun part in the hard part.
    Don’t be devastated that you don’t know something in a foreign language or any skill you want to acquire.  If you are looking at a manga page or a flashcard, look at what you do understand or what seems intriguing or just fun.  Keep yourself wanting more.
  • Delete what is dragging you down.
    I fought AJATT’s advice to delete flashcards that just drained me, now I am more like a black widow spider.  I study a card and if it bores me.  I delete.  Create a vacuum by deleting clutter, time and mental drains.
  • Use little gimmicks that pull you in. I am not learning Japanese/guitar, I am just moving that little progress bar a little further today.  Learning all of Japanese may seem like a lot of work but its more fun to just see the “progress bar” move a little on Japanesepod101.com for example.

    Mastering something can seem intimidating.  But hey, I can play the game of "moving the bar" just a little bit.  Satisfy the game-playing part of your brain with little celebratory games.  Who knows?  You just might get further than you thought possible.

    Mastering something can seem intimidating. But hey, I can play the game of “moving the bar” just a little bit. Satisfy the game-playing part of your brain with little celebratory games. Who knows? You just might get further than you thought possible.  This is a screenshot of my progress bars from japanesepod101.com.

There is a time for pushing, there is a time for pulling.  But if you are starting to grind your wheels and not really enjoy or flow in the process, think about how you can create a vacuum that pulls you in.  Enjoy the “suckage.”

Overresponding Samurai: Stop the Drama and Do Something

Overresponding doesn't have to be hectic.  Use your snail power.

Overresponding doesn’t have to be hectic. Use your snail power.

In four  more days, my family and I will leave Japan and we will be back in our semi-hectic work/school mode.  I am spending more and more of my days preparing to teach rather than studying/immersing Japanese and doing all my other side projects.  I needed a little self-help fun, though, and since I am taking classes at CoachU I decided to read a book byThomas Leonard, one of the founders of personal and career coaching.

I am still undecided about what I think about The 28 Laws of Attraction:  Stop Chasing Success and Let it Chase You but I am happy to be doing some trashy self-help reading.  However, one of Thomas Leonard’s ideas keeps getting stuck in my head:  “By overresponding of overreacting, you evolve.”  I”ve already gotten my money’s worth from getting that phrase in my head.

By overresponding, Leonard was talking about being fluid, active, and creative in confronting the issues and problems we come across.   Leonard was unhappy with his chosen career as Certified Financial Planner.  In the process of “overresponding” he became a personal coach and went on to start several coaching schools including Coachville before he passed away.

Another overresponder I constanly refer to is Khatzumoto over at All Japanese All the Time.  He wanted to learn Japanese and “overresponded” to it by “by spending 18-24 hours a day doing something, anything in Japanese (“all Japanese, all the time”).”  He emphasizes using fun materials as a way to actually learn Japanese.

Nowhere in Leonard’s book or Ajatt.com do I see anything encouraging you to flagellate or hate yourself as part of overresponding.   That is overreacting.   Overreacting stops action, even fun actions that can help you develop your skill, learn a language, or move a business or life forward.  Even when overreacting leads to action, the negative crud attached to it can lead to resistance or worse.

I don’t write this as someone who has mastered the practice of overresponding vs. overreacting.  I’m just a motivational blogger who lives down by the Hudson River.   The truth is that some days I am just a hot mess.  I’m writing this to motivate myself because any time I stop listening to the drama and pick up my pen, my guitar, or a fun Japanese book, the universe smiles and a puppy is rescued from a grizzly death.

Become an overresponder.  The life that you save may be your own. Or a puppy.

 

 

Get in the Fun: Learn a Foreign Language

Use your "addictions" to learn a foreign language.  I choose brain books over manga.  It's just how I roll. :)

Use your “addictions” to learn a foreign language. I choose brain books over manga. It’s just how I roll. 🙂

It’s interesting that as I try to learn Japanese and hunt for books to read, it seems like I am attracted to the same book in different packages.   Basically I seem to be reading the same brain book but with different emphases.   This time I am reading  脳の時間割り  (Brain’s Time Table) .   This book explores how to better use knowledge about circadian rhythms in order to use your brain better.   Hey,  some one should start a website called Samurai Mind Online!

If one of your life goals is to learn a foreign language, I think it is fine to read material where you know or think you know, what the text is saying.  And, I think it helps that it should feel addictive.   These days I am attracted to Japanese language books that also have pictures.   I was attracted to the book’s bright yellow cover and the fact that it had pictures.  Plus, it offered me the promise of being able to use my brain better.  But I thought to myself, “Hey, I have oodles of Japanese brain books at home that I’ve only half way read.  Do I need another Japanese brain book?”  I left the section to scan for more books but the harpy of a book kept calling me.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve gotten from All Japanese All the Time is to go for the guilty pleasures in the language that you want to learn:

Your language-learning method should make you feel guilty. It should make you feel bad. It should make you feel a little dirty. Like learning English by watching Jersey Shore. 

The book reinforces things I already practice.  I am an early riser and walker.  The author, a brain researcher, explains how the sun stimulates brain activity.

The book reinforces things I already practice. I am an early riser and walker. The author, a brain researcher, explains how the sun stimulates brain activity.  Familiarity and fun are key ingredients in learning a foreign language.  Get in the sun.  Get in the fun.

Do I really need yet another Japanese brain book?  Yes, I do.  While it helps do study words and do flashcards, etc, I  need a steady diet of brain candy in Japanese to just keep getting exposed to the language. When I read a Japanese book,  I don’t look up words.  I skip over sections when I start getting tired.  I re-read.   I read the table of contents.  I look at the pictures.

Along the way, I meet a lot of unfamiliar kanji, vocabulary, and unfamiliar grammatical structures.   But I let myself float over this because I also devote time to consciously pushing up on the language with flashcards, sentence study, Jpod 101, surusu, etc.

What’s nice is when these two approaches meet and reinforce each other.   That’s what it is all about.

 

 

Where Does the Samurai Time Go?

Break Through!

There are strict recycling regulations in Japan. That has a positive side and then a weird side. Sometimes people just throw their junk away on the streets and in the parks. I found this clock during my morning walk. Break through your use of time by simply tracking it!

Confession time.  I broke off from a weekend event with my family to catch up 0n work, curriculum writing, Japanese study et cetera.  I knew that I was going to lose a day because we are going to spend the day in Sanrio-land (“Hello Kitty Land”–please pray for me!)

I checked into a mangakissa (a Japanese internet cafe with unlimited “free” non-alcoholic drinks, comics and private booths with internet access) for a six hour stint.  I proceeded to “waste” most of the six hours checking Facebook, creating a non-Samurai mind twitter account, and looking at a lot of grade B movies available on the Cinema Channel.

I probably needed a day of “doing nothing.”  However,  if you find time slipping away from you and you don’t even know where it’s going, I suggest that you start recording it.  Write down what you are doing and if you can, how long you are doing it for.  It’s interesting that even though you may never sit down and total the information, it makes you aware and helps you structure your time better.

For me, it works like a money journal, a simple little notebook I kept when I decided to become financially balanced.    The books I read suggested I keep a money journal, and every month figure out how much I spent in different categories.   After a while, instead of totalling up the information, I just kept the money journal and noticed that I was being more careful with my resources just because I had to write it down.  Why buy the third pint of Ben and Jerry’s in a week when I would have to write it down?  Now, I occassionally keep a money journal when I feel my spending gets out of control.

Time is an important non-renewable resource, so it is worth occassionlly keeping track of where it goes, especiallly when you feel that you are wasting it.   I began the summer experimenting with an app called, “Eternity” ($9.99!) that allows you to create different time categories and then keep track time of how much you are doing in each as part of my project to not let my summer time slip away.  I find that I am more productive during my creative, study time if I am more like a hummingbird, flitting from flower to flower (project to project) rather than working with huge blocks of time (thanks to AJATT and timeboxing for this).   It was simply taking too much time to use the time tracking app.

I recently just experimented with a simpler method for keeping track of time.   Using my notebook  (yes, my samurai mind notebook),  I simply wrote down what I was doing on the margins. A simple few words sufficed:  wordpress, iKnow, kanjikoohii.com, Facebook….   What I found was that doing this kept me focused on getting things done.  If I had to write it down it had to be at least fun or productive.  It became more of a game to see how productively I could use my time.

Another big advantage of this is that it helps me fight the distraction of social media.   I like social media but I get lost when I use it.  I enter into it and then I forget what I was going to do.  Keeping my notebook out with some goals and a list of what I’ve done keeps me on track.

It’s a simple tool but writing down what you are doing helps you answer the eternal question:  “Where does the samurai time go?”

 

 

Shave it Samurai!

Thinking about shaving time made me think of shaved ice.  In Puerto Rico, we call it "piragua."  My favorite is shaved ice with tamarind juice.   If you are busy getting organized and shaving time, make sure to stop, put a little flavor on it and enjoy.

Thinking about shaving time made me think of shaved ice. In Puerto Rico, we call it “piragua.” My favorite is shaved ice with tamarind juice. If you are busy getting organized and shaving time, make sure to stop, put a little flavor on it and enjoy.

I used to think that getting organized was for the anal retentive crowd, but more and more I realize that getting organized is about honoring time and honoring life.   Even though I can be organizationally challenged, I’ve realized that the more organized I can be, the more time I can save for what is important/fun.  Shave time to save time to honor time.

Let it start with color.   I used to go to the Writer’s Room and fumble with my keys for minutes until I could find the right key to open my locker and take out my laptop.   Finally, I decided to color code my keys.  Over a year, I now have a couple of extra hours to write and check my Facebook work on my talents.  I’ve also color coded all the folders for my students.  I’ve saved hours of searching around through this simple move.

Little time savers like this have freed me up to do more meaningless bureaucratic paperwork inspire students.   Shave minutes to save minds.  (Or, is it save minutes to shave minds?)

Of course when you shave minutes, you also have to believe that something can happen within little windows of time.  I learned about timeboxing from a cat named Khatz.   I’ve learned to use my little wrist stop watch to push forward with my writing, guitar playing, and Japanese studies.   Basically, little boxes of time turn “pushing” into a little game.  How much can I get done before the time runs out?

Shaving time means thinking strategically about the things that drive you nuts and take precious minutes away.  But it also means being prepared to “roll” with your skills and dreams.   For example:

  • the guitar is always on its stand with tuner close by.  No going to the closet or opening up bags.
  • as much as I can, leave tabs to different study sites open (sururu, anki, iknow, jamplay.com, etc).
  • notebook is always at the ready to catch ideas and inspirations.   Even if the notebook is messy, my constant reviews means that those inspirations become a part of the mix.  Reviewing actually “shaves time” by not having to waste time trying to dig up lost ideas

Shave time.  Shave ice.   Don’t forget to have fun with it.  Put a little syrup on top and cool down.  Shaving time is about shaving your life.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

Give Up Samurai: We are the Two to Five Percent!

Work can be play.

Work can be play.  Give at least two to five percent a day to play/work towards your dream/goal/skill.

So it is in any situation you find yourself, no matter how overwhelmed you feel, no matter how much you may feel you are at the mercy of things that are just beyond your control, some part of it is within your control:  2 percent, 5 percent, who knows?  There is always something you can work on.   And often changing that little bit results in a whole lot.  . . . Above all else, it gives you Hope.   I am not as powerless as I thought.   –Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?

I don’t know about “Hope” with a capital “H.”   I’m not a Presbyterian minister who writes career books like Richard Bolles.   But I’m really grooving on the idea of finding the space were you can move towards the two and five percent.  We can move daily into the 2% to 5% that you can claim for your skill,  dream,  job search, or vision of what the world could be.  By moving ever so little forward you also reclaim  a part of yourself, samurai.

Even if you never reach proficient in your skill or reach the goal, you may just experience collateral benefit.  For example, I’ve been studying Japanese off an on for ten years.   The first six years or so were whiny self-loathing years.    Then I started to pick up some new methods and inspiration from All Japanese All The Time.  I started infusing fun into studying Japanese.   I learned about timeboxing.  My Japanese is a lot better, but what I discovered is that there have been “collateral benefits” to taking on this seemingly-formidable goal.  I’m writing more.  I’m being more persistent in guitar.  “. . . changing that little bit results in a whole lot.”

You don’t have to give 100%.  It’s awesome if you can devote your days to your goal or skill, but the all or nothing mentality can often kill.  What’s going to add up faster–a couple of weekends a year of 100% or daily shots of two to five percent?  Don’t let today’s poem die.  Yes, you may be tired but what’s a measly two to five percent?  Drop the seeds and let the flowers bloom.

Don’t Panic Samurai

Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.  –Rainier Maria Rilke

Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit.  –George Fox

Don't panic.  Be like the tiny waterfall joining the big river.  Deep, man, deep.

Don’t panic. Be like the tiny waterfall joining the big river. Deep, man, deep.

Don’t panic and if you do, don’t panic about panic.  If you are trying to move forward in your business or your learning, a little edge is good, but panic is not.   Certain kinds of panic comes from trying to have it all at once.  I felt it one day when I listened to five different podcasts about WordPress and just started to worry that I didn’t know x, x, and x.   OMG!  If you try to have all your breath at once, you are hyperventilating.  If you try to have all your water at once, you will drown.

All of this has come up as I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Making a Living:  A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design by Laurence G. Boldt.  First of all, the book sent me into a little bit of a panic because it is so big.  Second, Boldt’s rambling style can be a little overwhelming.  But I’ve been hanging in there, skimming and looking for gems because I’m at a point where I need to hear a lot of what he is saying.   Taking Zen a few pages at a time, I’ve been putting the thoughts I need to hear into my samurai notebook where there will rub constantly against my little ole at-times nervous samurai consciousness.   A lot of my recent quotes come from this book.

Though Boldt writes about setting out on a “warrior’s quest” for the career you want, he emphasizes doing it in a calm and persistent manner:

Being too concerned with what is “out there” [instead of what is] “in here” puts you in a position of powerlessness.  We encourage you to begin by identifying the results you want, then to move confidently and deliberately in that direction no matter how small those steps may seem.Children of the Sun

Here we go with the power of the small again.   I began to move forward in with writing and now guitar after I started to take advantage of small consistent steps as a by-product of studying Japanese.   The man who helped me ‘grok‘ this concept was Khatzumoto over at ajatt.com.   In a recent post, he talked about avoiding overwhelm of big goals, just as you might avoid looking directly at the sun:

The Sun is too bright to look at. It can literally, physically hurt to look directly at the big goal. Looking at the metaphorical sun can throw you into a dizzying tailspin of despair and avoidance.
So don’t. Look, that is. Enjoy the biggie 2, but don’t look at it.
Focus back here.
This one word.
This one action.
This one click.
This is all that exists. This is all that matters.

Take one step.  Don’t panic.  If you do, don’t panic about panic.

 

How to Keep a Samurai Mind Notebook

Random Collection of Notebooks.  Samurai notebooks help keep me inspired, searching, while at the same time keeping me anchored.

Random Collection of Notebooks. Samurai notebooks help keep me inspired, searching, while at the same time keeping me anchored.

I’ve mentioned samurai notebooks lately, but haven’t really gotten into detail about them for a while.   Samurai notebooks are notebooks where you put positive ideas, plans, information, etc and review on a regularly spaced basis.   My samurai notebooks aren’t necessarily pretty, but they have been transformational.

The Why:

  • Daniel Coyle reports that a great percentage of high performers keep some kind of notebook, whether it’s an actual notebook or even a shoebox of loose papers.   Coyle cites Serena Williams, Eminem, and Twyla Tharp among others.   Write down “results from today, ideas for tomorrow.”
  • A samurai notebook helps you create your own channel, the information and ideas that you brush up against.   You  can bathe in  the fear, sarcasm, and negativity that gets offered up 24/7 or you can create your own channel.
  • A notebook helps you direct your life by helping you remember.  Adding spaced repetition keeps reviewing from becoming burdensome.

The How:

  • Buy any notebook.  Think cheap and sturdy.  I prefer Campus notebooks from Japan but don’t get hung up on what kind of notebook to get.
  • Put any information, thoughts, plans that interests you into this notebook on a daily basis.  Make sure to date each entry.  Recently my notebook includes snippets of guitar/music theory, helpful hints from a Japanese book on guitar, and ideas from several teaching resources.
  • Review the notebook every day.  If you’ve put interesting and valuable information it will become a fun process.  I put a date on the review and mark how many days from the original date.  I try to review according to the following schedule 1, 2, 3 or four days, and a week after the original review.  After that it is one week, two weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.  I use a timer and review five minutes every morning.  I also review if I feel like it on train rides, appointments, etc.

    Dating entries and reviews are important. It would be overwhelming if you didn’t space out reviews.

  • Quickly mark what kind of review it was and include the date.  I put 1D for one day.  As you do reviews, you will save time by only entries that are “up for review.”
  • If you come across an entry that wows you or seems really important, copy it into the days new entries.  Doing this puts it back in a shorter term loop and reinforces that this notebook is exciting.  (BTW, you don’t have to “study” each page, just glance at it.   If there is something you want to target and do some work with, go ahead.)  Cross out pages that you think you may never be interested in again.  Deletion and skipping over.  Happy feelings bring happy learnings.  (See ajatt.com on the importance of deletion.)
  • I’ve learned to alternate between “New” reviews and “Old” reviews.   One day I will review the most recent reviews and the next day, I will begin from an earmarked “Old” page.  “New” information gets to “mature” and “old” information gets a systematic chance to get refreshed. I write “New” or “Old” on the day’s entry to let myself know where to go in the next session.
  • Date the cover, depending on the last entry.  This notebook will be up for review in two years.  If anything hits me like a lightning bolt from an old notebook I make sure to a) put it in a more recent notebook and/or b) do something with the idea or information.

    Date the cover, depending on the last entry. This notebook will be up for review in two years. If anything hits me like a lightning bolt from an old notebook I make sure to a) put it in a more recent notebook and/or b) do something with the idea or information.

    When you finish with a notebook, mark the outside with when the next review date should be.

Feel free to use any or none of these methods.   According to Coyle, Eminem uses scraps of paper tossed into a shoe box.  Whatever you want to do, some kind of notebook will help you get there.  Try my samurai notebook style or flow into your own style.   A simple little notebook could transform your life.

 

Samurai Immersing: An Ode to an iPhone

It's a sad day when I have to take a picture with my laptop.  By the way, the author of Study Hacks really recommends DS as a study tool.   I don't spend too much time with it these days.

It’s a sad day when I have to take a picture with my laptop. By the way, the author of Study Hacks really recommends DS as a study tool. I don’t spend too much time with it these days.

I’ve brought language immersion to a great new heights (lows).  I dropped my iPhone into the toilet while listening to Japanese music.  I’m relying on Facebook, email, Skype, and landlines to communicate.   Is this how our ancestors survived? 🙂  They had to rush to their computers at home to find out how cute Japanese cats jumped into boxes?

I’m convinced that my iPhone’s possible demise (it’s been sitting in a bag of rice for the past three days) was a result of betrayal.   The other day I thought it would be a nice idea to take out my DS Lite and play around with it.  I used to use it for my primary electronic dictionary using a program called 漢字そのまま。Just by using the stylus I could write out kanji words and look up the meanings.  When my iPhone and Midori entered the picture, I realized that I could just leave the very heavy DS at the Writer’s Room.  The other day I decided to trot it back out.  I think that’s when my iPhone decided to take the “plunge.”

While my iPhone has been hanging out in a bag of rice and silica packets in an attempt to dry it out, I’ve been experiencing phantom iPhone experiences:

  • at the elevator, hoping to do one more Japanese flashcard repetition
  • on my commute to and from work when I listen to Japanese music, podcasts, or Japanese101.com lessons.  (I’ve found that after doing a long period of immersion, I am appreciating and understanding the grammar lessons more.  I limit my lessons and pay attention to grammar explanations but don’t do anything to consciously use or remember grammar rules.  I don’t know if that is the best method, but I have momentum and am enjoying it)
  • looking for my evernotes for music scales, etc…luckily all that stuff is on a “cloud”
  • checking for mass Japanese emails on how to learn English…thanks Silverspoon for that idea

On the other hand, without an iPhone I’ve discovered that I have more time to think.  Supposedly that is good.  :). I’ve also pulled my old fashioned pen and paper samurai notebooks and have been reviewing those on the train, when I would normally be looking at my “device.”  Still, when I try to make up for lost time and do a Japanesepod lesson at the Writer’s Room, I am astonished by the amount of time it takes.  I was able to do a lot just walking to where I needed to go.

This is a fun app.  There are various ways to look up vocabulary including drawing kanji.  There are oodles of sample sentences though I don't completely trust all of them.  The flashcard option is just to study single words which is useful but not necessarily the most effective way to learn vocabulary.

This is a fun app. There are various ways to look up vocabulary including drawing kanji. There are oodles of sample sentences though I don’t completely trust all of them. The flashcard option is just to study single words which is useful but not necessarily the most effective way to learn vocabulary.

Update:  I took my iPhone to apple and had to get a replacement.    I did anki and surusu flashcard reps on the store computer while the nice “Genius” helped me get hooked up.  Once I got the new device the almost sad loss was my word history on Midori.  I had accumulated so many words through my summer travels and readings.   Though I have the app back, I don’t have the words I collected.  However, I was beginning to realize the limits of using the single word flashcard program.   (It’s a lot better to study vocabulary as it is imbedded in sentences.)  I also haven’t figured out how to load my music from my ancient computer onto my ipod.  The new device has a nifty podcast app that makes it easier to manage podcasts, but music is beautiful brain candy.

You don’t have to have a smartphone to immerse.  It’s just really one really helpful tool.   Books and notebooks are still around, right!  They are also a lot safer (and cheaper) to take to the bathroom.   Stay flexible, stay samurai mind!