Not So Lost in Translation is a blog about language learning and personal productivity.

Get Updates

I update weekly with new tips and tricks and my own personal experiments. Click the RSS button or submit your email to subsribe.


I maintain a list of language learning resources that are update semi-regularly. Click the Resources page for more info.

Contact Me

Click the Twitter, Google+ or Email icons to send me a message.


I love receiving commments! Feel free to ask any questions or just say hello.


How I Use Evernote to be D.U.M.B.

As a scientist, I am obsessed with data.  In a quest to improve my health, I track my diet and exercise. I also track writing time and time spent learning languages.

 I track progress toward my big, lifetime goals.

Girl in a Cereal Field- Thinking About Your Goals
Photo Credit: Janusz Gawron

Most of my tracking is done in Evernote which I consider an extension of my brain.  I have played around with other setups including Google Sheets and web based interfaces, but I return to Evernote because of cross platform integration and ease of entry.

My Evernote setup includes several Notebooks:
  • Annual Journal-my three goals for the year
  • Monthly Journal- goals for the month and important dates to remember such as birthdays
  • Weekly Journal- a week at a glance with upcoming events and my goals for the week
  • Daily Journal (see below)

My daily journal is constructed of two parts: an automated Captain's Log (from E.C. Chang) and a self-written section for daily goals and personal analysis.

The Captain's Log automatically appends the weather, tweets, check-ins, and instagram photos to a note.  Including the weather is a great way to help remember some of the details of a day. It's also a useful  exercise in tracking what days are better suited to particular forms of productivity. I am hoping to be able to answer questions such as:

Am I better at creative work when it is rainy?

Do I enjoy physical work more when it is sunny?

Having all of my social media entries in one place helps me keep track of what I am interested in and doing on a daily basis.

The Captain's Log isn't perfect.  Adding tasks is difficult since I am limited to the Reminders app or Google Calendar.  I need to see if I can work on my own task recipe to append my completed Any.Do tasks to the Captain's Log.

The second section of the Daily Journal is for personal analysis.

This section includes my three goals for the day as well as a review section at the end of the day for personal assessment.

When setting goals for the day, I think in terms of D.U.M.B. goals.

I go back to my yearly journal and ask myself what I need to be doing to continue my progress toward my personal goals for the year.

When setting these goals, I use Brendon Burchard's method (via Addicted2Success):


Your goals should be big.  Think back to when you were a child before you realized that there were things that you "can't" or "shouldn't" do.


Accomplishing your goals should bring you joy.  If it isn't going to make you happy, why do it?


Break down your goal into small increments.  Always think in terms of the next step.

Behavior triggered

Ask yourself how you can set up behaviors as part of your daily routines/rituals to increase your progress toward your goal.

For example, one of my goals is to run in the Berlin marathon.  For some people, this might be an easy goal.  For a person with chronic asthma who has been overweight for one-third of her life, this seemed impossible for me.

However, I can now at least concede the possibility that I can accomplish my goal.  

In the past two years, I have lost seventy pounds.  I did this the hard way:  diet and exercise. 

 As part of my nightly routine, I track my food on MyFitnessPal.  I make it a game.  I try to make sure that I meet the nutrition goals outlined by the American Medical Association.

I go to the gym three times a week.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I know that I will be at the gym for an hour.

Two weeks ago I met with a personal trainer to work on a program to increase my strength training and cardio.

For the next eight weeks, I have a program to follow to build more muscle. After that, I plan to start working on endurance.

Reaching my goal is still years away.  I still walk more than I run.  There are days that I don't go to the gym.  I still am working with my physician on rehabilitating my knees.  However, I plan to run my first 5K next spring.  

What are your goals?  What systems do you have in place to track your progress?


Jupiter Ascending and Snow! Weekly Review 2.15.15/ Wochenrückblick 15.02.15

I have been trying to reach two goals in these weekly reviews:
  1. improve my German
  2. get better at doing a weekly review per GTD and Agile Results
Despite a very busy week, I am still on track for my goals for the year.  I just finished my sixth book of the year which means that I am still on schedule for my goal of reading 50 books this year.

For my German study, my goal is to write in my journal every week.  Unfortunately I missed an entry, due to my daily life being a bit too hectic recently.  What did I do this week?  I finished The Patriot's Club. I have been busy with some exciting work projects.  I also visited with a friend and went to see Jupiter Ascending.  As a huge science fiction fan, I was really looking forward to the film.  I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil the film in case you haven't seen it.  I will say that the visual effects were stunning, but the film tried to pack enough material for a trilogy into two hours.   I was disappointed because the story had such potential if not for the pacing.

Currently Reading:  The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Currently Listening to:  the weather forecast (the snow is finally here!)

German Version:

Meine Methode, um Deutsch erlernen, ist jede Woche in mein Journal zu schreiben.  Aber leider ist mein Alltag einfach zu hektisch.  Was habe ich gemacht diese Woche? Ich habe zwei Bücher geliest. Ich habe veil gearbeitet.  Ich habe eine Freundin besucht.  Ich habe auch ein Film gesehen.  Das Film hieß Jupiter Ascending.  Ich  mag Sean Bean, Channing Tatum, und Mila Kunis und so dachte ich dass ich das Film mögen sollte.  Die Spezialeffekten waren sehr gut aber die Geschichte gefiel mir nicht. Ich verrate nichts zu viel, vielleicht Sie haben das Film noch nicht gesehen. Mein großes Problem war, dass der Film eine Geschichte, die  für eine Trilogie reichen würde, in eine einzigen Film  zu packen versucht hat.


Lessons Learned During My First Year of Blogging

Why I Started Blogging

I realized the other day that Not So Lost in Translation is almost a year old.  The official blogiversary celebration will start in March which is when I made my first official English language welcome post.  Until then, I want to share a little about why I started blogging, what I have learned from the process, and share some tips and encouragement with my wonderful readers (you)!

I started blogging after realizing that I had spent nine years studying a language (German), and my German skills were starting to atrophy.  I also wanted to give encouragement to other language learners.  Learning languages can be a strange and lonely hobby for native English speakers, and one of my hopes has been to share resources and communities that I have found helpful.

If you are new to the blog, my resources page is where I post websites, books, and communities that I find helpful for language learning.

Blogging Tips and Tricks

Don't Spend a Fortune Getting Started

When I started Not So Lost in Translation, one of my incentives to continue posting was to only allow myself the luxury of a domain name. I decided to do this to encourage myself to continue posting for a year before I could buy shiny new things like Wordpress hosting.

If you are considering starting a blog of your own, my first tip is to focus on content first and design second.  I'm certainly guilty of having blog design fever.  I believe that my current design is design number three (or four?).  Having a good design is helpful for blogging but content should come first because good content is what will help your blog grow over time.

Before you start stressing over the perfect logo or clever blog title, try to figure out the topic(s) that you want to write about.

Write About What You Are Passionate About

I'm going to contradict the experts here.  If you don't care about what you are writing, it's going to show, and your blog will be boring.  I have read several blogging articles with the following advice:

  • Create a profile of your average reader.  For example, if you have a cat blog, you should imagine your average reader as Jenny, age 25, who has a Persian and a Maine Coon.
  • Stay in your niche.  Jenny is only interested in reading about cat care.  If you want to write about yoga or gardening, you should either link the topic back to cat care or create another blog focusing on yoga or gardening.
  • Use analytics to target your articles to what your readers are searching for.  If your readers are searching for cat strollers, you need to be writing about cat strollers.
The problem with the above tips is that they assume that people are robot searching machines.  Jenny may have a Persian and a Maine Coon, but she may also practice yoga and have a boyfriend who likes to garden.  She may hate yoga and gardening but Jenny's a reasonable human being who realizes that you have interests outside of cats, and you might want to write about them.

Create an Editorial Calendar to Keep Track of Ideas and To Schedule Content

Blogging consistently is hard.  Life has a tendency to intervene often.  To keep myself (somewhat) on schedule, I keep a list of blog topics in Trello.  That way I don't have to deal with the dreaded feeling of not having anything to write about.

I also try to keep myself on a weekly posting schedule.  I don't always manage to post on the same day every week, but I do try have at least one new post every week.  Bloggers argue about whether or not you should apologize for not posting.  My thoughts on making an apology is that if you have a reputation for posting consistently then letting your readers know that you need to take a break for personal reasons is perfectly acceptable.  Just don't become one of those bloggers whose blog is entirely apologies for not posting. ;)

Writing entries ahead of time also helps.  Most of the major blogging platforms have a schedule function that lets you set the date for a post.  I write when I have free time (mostly Sunday afternoon) and then set the post to be posted a few weeks later.  I try to keep two or three weeks ahead of schedule but that doesn't always happen.

Don't Be Afraid to Promote Your Blog In a Friendly Manner

How do you get readers for your blog?  The best way to get readers is through social media, posting comments on other blogs, and guest posting.  When promoting your blog, your goal should be to make new friends and connections and not to just promote your own content.  Share other blogger's posts if you find them interesting and comment only when you feel that you can contribute to the conversation.  Personally, I love getting comments and will often add other bloggers who have commented on my blog to my RSS feed.

What about you?  Do you have a blog or are you thinking about starting a blog?  What have you learned from blogging?


Tracking My Learning Progress: How I Learn From Tutorials

As I mentioned in last week's update, I have been playing with Emacs Org-Mode again in an effort to get better at tracking my time.  Since I haven't used Emacs in a few years, my knowledge of commands was rusty, and I decided to go through the tutorials again to refresh my memory. Well, I attempted to go through the tutorials.  I made it through the basic tutorial with a lot of struggle and then decided to distract myself by looking at other people's Emacs setup files.

Monticello gardens in the springtime:

Since I was already somewhat familiar with Emacs, looking at other configurations was much more informative, and I could use the Org-Mode manual to look up commands that I was unfamiliar with.  This reminded me of how I learned HTML.  I bought a book about HTML and made it halfway through the tutorial before getting bored and frustrated and then started using the view page source command to view webpages that had features that I was interested in and used the index feature of the book that I was using to look up commands that I didn't know.  Of course this was back in the days of Geocities when websites were a lot less complicated. :)

So I guess I learn best by tearing things apart?  This is something to think about when tackling new projects where I am learning new skills.

How can I use this realization to help me learn faster?

Using Emacs as an example, I have been trying to get Emacs set up so that I can easily track time spend on each task for my different projects.  The fastest way for me to get up and running was to compare a few workflows and cobble together something that works that I can improve upon as I use the system.

I am already at this stage in German.  I don't use textbooks to study grammar points with the exception of native German texts.  I have actually been using a German-French dictionary with example sentences as well as the Beolingus sample sentences to help me try to figure out the proper wording for a sentence.

Can I do this for Japanese as well?  I have a rough idea of Japanese grammar so I could use Rikaikun and just tear apart blog articles on interesting subjects to learn grammar. Kató Lomb used this technique and it worked really well for her.

How do you learn best?  What do you like to see in tutorials?

Resources Mentioned:
The Org Manual
Org Mode - Organize Your Life In Plain Text!
How I use Emacs and Org-mode to implement GTD


January in Retrospect: Weekend Review 2/1/15 (Wochenrückblick 01.02.15)

Somehow this week was very busy but also pretty productive.  My goals for this week were to practice German, work more with Emacs Org-Mode, and to work on writing.  I guess this entry qualifies as practicing German- right?  I have been working on reading through and playing with the customization examples in Org Mode - Organize Your Life in Plain Text.  After arguing with Windows for an hour because of strange file structures, I finally managed to get Org Capture set up.  Pretty cool!

On the writing front:  I made an Emacs file with a rough timeline on my novel.  Yes, I know how lame that sounds.  Hopefully next week, I can get back to writing a little bit.

German Version

Irgendwie war diese Woche voll ausgefüllt aber auch ziemlich produktiv.  Für diese Woche wollte ich Deutsch üben, mehr mit Emacs Org-Mode arbeiten und mehr schreiben.  Ich glaube, dass dieses Journal  eine Deutsch Übung ist, oder?   Ich habe "Org Mode- Organize Your Life in Plain Text" durchgelesen und habe mit den Anwendungsbeispielen gespielt.  Danach ich habe mich eine Stunde mit Windows über fremdes File-Struktur gestritten habe ich endlich Org Capture installiert.  Ich finde Org Capture echt cool!

Mit dem Schreiben habe ich nur ein bisschen weitergemacht.  Ich habe ein Emacs file mit einem Ablauf von meiner Novelle gemacht.  Mein Arbeit ist ziemlich schwach, nicht wahr?  Hoffentlich arbeite ich mehr nächste Woche.

Interesting German Tip of the Week

In German, you say that you write something with Emacs rather than in English where we more often say that we wrote something in Emacs.

Month in Review

Since January is officially over, how am I doing on my goals for the year?

1.  Get out more!
January is not the best month to want to go outside.  Still, I went for walk at lunch this week and I had two parties this weekend. Overall, I would say that I am still on target to accomplish this goal.

2.  Practice more German. I am managing to write at least a paragraph or two of German a week as well as keeping up with German blog entries and listening to Tagesschau.  I would like to write more for my German entries, but I am still on target to accomplish this goal.

3.  Complete NaNoWriMo
Planning ahead for November, I need to sit down and break this goal into smaller actionable items and set target deadlines for each item.  Saying that I am going to work on writing is too vague and not helpful in achieving this goal.

4.  Read 50 books this year. 
 Right now, I have finished three books and am halfway through book 4 and 1/4 of the way through book 5.  If I finish reading book 4 by this weekend, I will still be on target for my goal.


Improving My Reading Skills: Becoming a Better Critical Consumer of Information

Reading more books is one of my goals for 2015.  Last year was pretty dismal in terms of reading.  According to my GoodReads account, I read thirteen books.  I found this number confusing since I read all of the time.  However, I realized that I was reading more news, blog articles, and digital media rather than books.  I learned a lot from my reading last year if my Evernote database and Moleskine are any indication, but I am not sure if focusing on one form of media over another is a good idea.  I need balance.

Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo (license)

In assessing my goal for reading more books this year, one of my goals is to get the most that I can out of each book.  That means becoming a better consumer of information.  I haven't been using my critical reading skills for fiction.  Enjoying books is fine, but I want to grow as reader and be able to contribute to the great conversation.  Being a better critical reader will help with information overload as well.  I consume a lot of information on a daily basis, and organizing my system so that I can retain and analyze information better will be a definite plus. 

What can I do to improve my critical reading skills?

Improve my Annotating:

Annotating is easy on my Kindle.  I don't why I don't use the annotate feature as much as I should.  I can export my booknotes and put them into Evernote, and this would be helpful in improving my digital commonplace.

I don't buy that many print books since I prefer checking out books from the library.  However, the downside is that I can't make notes in the book.  I could copy out passages that I find interesting into my Moleskine.  Writing out passages that I want to remember is helpful, but I find it tedious for long passages.  I've been thinking about using CamScanner to take an image of the text that I want to annotate, and then importing selections into Evernote as pdf files.  Then I can type away. 

The critical reading guide from Harvard library recommends developing your own system for annotating notes.  Maybe if I take the time to develop an annotation system for my Kindle, then I would use the annotate feature more.

Summarize My Reading:

Blogging Polyglot has been my first experience in summarizing books for my own use.  The experiment is still in progress, but I have found the notes that I have taken extremely helpful.  I don't know if I will continue blogging other books by chapter but writing a summary of key highlights and my reaction to the book would be helpful.

I have been experimenting a little with summarizing my reading, but I think that I also need to integrate a review. I have been keeping a Moleskine for the past year where I write down my incedental thoughts and ideas.  Looking back, I realized that I haven't been reviewing what I have written!  

Rate My Reading:

I also want to get better at comparing and contrasting my reading and deciding the value of a book.  One of my smaller goals for the year is to write ten book reviews on Goodreads.  I'm sure that some of you are questioning why I would even bother to make this a goal.  The answer is that the majority of my reading falls into that gray category which I classify as "good."  I have been thinking about what really constitutes a good book.  There are a few books that I absolutely love and a few books that I can't stand.  If a book doesn't fall into those categories, I tend to give either three or four stars on Goodreads and not think about it further.  This is lazy.

I want to get better at thinking systematically about the good and bad qualities of a book and making an informed decision about how a book has impacted me as a person.

Discuss What I Have Read:

I am a member of a few communities on Goodreads but I don't participate as often as I should.  I have also added a a few classical book blogs to Feedly, and I want to work more to comment more on blogs and have more conversation in general.

Resources Mentioned:


Emacs Clocking Commands and Time Management: Weekend Review 1/25/15 (Wochenrückblick 25.01.15)

Next week is the last week in January.  Here in the mountains the crocuses bloom in February which means the beginning of spring. Normally by the end of January, we will have had one or two snowstorms but this year it has just been cold and rainy with only a little snow.   I may have mentioned this before, but I absolutely hate cold weather so I will be glad when January is over.

This week I worked on my novel and worked on getting Emacs installed on my Asus tablet.  In fact, this weekly review was drafted in Emacs.  I have used Emacs in the past on my Powerbook, but I had stopped using it when I switched over to a Windows tablet.

I have been using Evernote for writing and managing my to-do list and schedule. One of my goals for 2015 is to become better at watching where my time goes.  For example, I want to spend more time writing this year.   I love Evernote but it is not good at tracking time. I can type in when I start a task, but I forget to do that often and then I forget to stop the clock.

After having a conversation with Yi Tang about time management, I learned that he used Org-Mode for time tracking. I am embarrassed to say that I forgot that Org-Mode had a clock function which you can use to clock the time you spend on items on your todo list.

To active the clock function in Org-Mode, you use C-c C-x C-i (Ctrl-c Ctrl-x Ctrl-i).  When an item labeled TODO is toggled to done (highlight TODO and then use SHIFT plus right arrow), the clock automatically stops. If you haven't labeled an item as TODO, the clock can also be turned off using C-c C-x C-o (Ctrl-c Ctrl-x,Ctrl-o).

I have finished my Emacs installation and now I am trying to get my files organized so that I can start tracking time spend on projects.  I have a basic setup going so I can start tracking time, but I have to work more to get it fully optimized.

My experiment on using Lang-8 for my German is going well.  Something I have learned is that I get more corrections if I break up my entries into smaller chunks of text.  What this means for my weekly review is that I will have to break up my entry and publish the initial entry and then update it throughout the week with the rest of the German entry.  Or possibly I could stop writing so much...which is probably not going to happen. :)

How has your week been going?  Did you learn anything interesting?

German Version:

Nächste Woche ist die letzte Woche im Januar.  Hier in den Bergen blühen im Febuar die Krokusse.  Das bedeutet Frühlingsbeginn. Bis Ende Januar haben wir normalerwise ein oder zwei Schneestürme aber dieses Jahr war es nur kalt und regnerisch, mit nur ein bisschen Schnee.  Vielleicht habe ich es schon einmal erwähnt aber ich hasse kaltes Wetter.  Ich freue mich wenn der Januar vorbei ist.

Diese Woche habe ich an meinem Roman weitergeschrieben und Emacs auf meinem Asus Tablet installiert. Übrigens habe ich diesen Wochenrückblick mit Emacs geschrieben.  Ich habe in der Vergangenheit Emacs mit meinem Powerbook benutzt aber als ich zu einem Windows-Tablet gewechselt habe, habe ich aufgehört, Emacs zu benutzen.


Integrating German Into My Daily Systems

As I mentioned in my yearly review, one of my goals for this year is to improve my German in my weakest area: actually producing German.  To achieve my goal, I need to speak and write more German.  Along with that goal, I want to continue to improve my oral and written comprehension.  I know from past experience that the best way for me to reach a goal is to integrate steps to accomplish that goal into my daily life.

How can I add more German into my daily life with the least amount of friction?  As you may have already noticed, I have added a new feature where I am translating my weekly review into German.   my Wochenrückblick blog entries count toward my goal of producing more German, and I think more about what I am accomplishing during the week at the same time.

For improving my oral and written comprehension, I have found three ways to integrate German into my daily schedule:

  1. Be more consistent about listening to Tagesschau on the way home from work.  One of the key ideas I got from Polyglot is that international news is an easy way to listen to native level materials with a mental cheatsheet included since, if you are already familiar with news and current events, you should already have some idea of what they are talking about.  The Tagesschau iTunes feed has a list of the topics included in the program.  By going to the website and checking out the articles about each topic, you have a list of vocabulary related to the topic. My plan is to listen to a broadcast once for my initial test of comprehension and then to look up more about the topics included in the broadcast.  I will add sentences containing relevant vocabulary into Anki and then listen to the broadcast again to catch what I missed.

  2. I go to the gym three times a week.  My present to myself this Christmas was a new pair of headphones so I wouldn't have to listen to gym music any longer.  The United States Foreign Service Institute produced a full German course.  The vocabulary is dated but my goal is to listen to pronunciation and to try improve my accent.  I plan to listen to the course while I am working out so I will have three hours of native material to listen to each week.

  3. Read native German language materials (both books and blogs).  I have a German dictionary installed on my Kindle.  There are a lot of great free and cheap ebooks available on Amazon such as the German editions of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories including Der Hund der Baskervilles  and Sherlock Holmes: Gesammelte Romane und Detektivgeschichten .  I am also subscribed to several German blogs about productivity and vegetarian and vegan cooking.  Finding and reading blogs about your interests is an easy way to get used to reading native level foreign language materials.  Most bloggers use informal and conversational writing styles which are much easier to read than news sites.
Have you experimented with systems as a way to achieve your goals?  What have your results been?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Weekend Review 1/18/15 (Wochenrückblick 18.01.15)

For some reason, I have been struggling with writing this week.  I'm not sure why.  My schedule has not changed that much, but it felt like it was more hectic this week. I procrastinated on a blog post this week which annoys me since I worked hard over the Christmas holiday to put myself ahead of schedule, and I don't want to lose ground.  Hopefully next week will go more smoothly.

On the positive side, I am on target for my exercise goals and I have been doing well with food logging.  I am also on target for my goal to read 50 books this year.  I have been working more on taking better notes on my reading, and so far I seem to be doing well.  I have an old Mac Powerbook and a Windows tablet.  My Mac notebook has been my workhorse computer, but I have been using my Windows tablet more and more.  Lately, I have only been using my Powerbook for Emacs and DevonThink.  I finally installed Emacs on my Windows tablet.  I decided to treat this as a fresh install.  I have been having fun playing around with the tutorials again.

Tip for Windows 8.1 users:  This Stack Overflow exchange will help you find where Windows is hiding your .emacs file.  This thread on Windows installation is also helpful.

Exercise:  30 minutes cardio 3x/week, walked during lunch breaks
Currently reading: Inferno (fiction), The Well-Educated Mind (nonfiction), John Adams (biography)

German Version:

Ich weiß nicht aus welchem Grund aber diese Woche habe ich mit dem Schreiben gekämpft.  Ich weiß nicht, warum.  Mein Tagesplan hat nicht viel verändert aber es hat sich diese Woche hektischer angefühlt. Ich habe es aufgeschoben, zu bloggen.  Das nervt, weil ich über Weihnachten viel gearbeitet habe, mit dem Ziel, mehr zu schaffen als mein Zeitplan eigentlich gefördert hätte.  Ich will nicht an Boden verlieren.   Ich glaube, dass das Problem vielleicht Schlafmangel und, da ich keine Möglichkeit habe, während der Arbeit Wasser zu trinken, auch Wassermangel ist.  Hoffentlich klappt es nächste Woche.

Auf der positiven Seite bin ich auf Kurs für mein Ziel im Training zu kommen und ich habe jedes Tag mein Essen in mein Tagesbuch geschrieben.  Ich möchte dieses Jahr auch fünfzig Bücher lesen und bin soweit damit im Plan.  Ich habe mehr gearbeitet um besser Notizen auf meiner Lesung zu schreiben. Bis nun geht es gut.  Ich habe ein altes Powerbook and ein Windows-Tablet.  Mein Powerbook ist mein Arbeitstier aber ich benutze immer mehr mein Windows-Tablet.  Kürzlich benutze ich mein Powerbook nur für Emacs und DevonThink.  Ich habe schließlich Emacs auf mein Windows-Tablet eingebaut.  Ich habe Spaß noch einmal mit Anleitungen spielen gemacht.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Every Day Carry: Essential Apps and Items Fall/Winter Edition

I do a clean up at the end of the year and try to get my work spaces (home and office), my car, and my purse clean for the new year so I can clutter them up again as the year progresses.  I can't use public transportation for my commute so I have probably expanded more than needed since I bring a work bag and a gym bag with me on days that I go to the gym.

I went through my iPhone first and identified the apps that I am using the most as well as apps that I am not using as much.

Favorite Apps:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Twitter
  4. MyFitnessPal- I use as a food and exercise diary.  I like the feature where your food is analyzed and compared to daily nutrition goals.  I like to try to get my food as close to the recommended value.  My one wish is that the tool would have an export function so that I could look at my data outside of the program.  When reading the forums, I did find this export tool which works in Excel which may be what I am looking for.
  5. Runtastic Pedometer- I use this to track my daily walks and runs.  A bonus feature is that it integrates with MyFitnessPal so I don't have to manually enter my exercise data.
  6. 30/30 is a series of adjustable timers. The app is worth checking out just for the interface which is one of the most inventive that I have seen for iOS.  I use the app when I want to focus on specific tasks for long sprints.  I alternate between using the Pomodoro Method and the 52/17 method.
  7. CamScanner turns the camera on my iPhone into a scanner. I love the ability to convert to pdf format. I use it to scan business cards and then send the information to Evernote.
  8. TripIt organizes all of my travel information into one place.  It's easy since I just hit forward on my confirmation emails and the info is added.  This is one of my two essential travel apps.
  9. GateGuru is great for short layovers when I don't have time to check the board to find out where my gate is.  
Apps that I am not using:

  1. Any.do- I like Any.do's interface but I tend to write down my to-dos in my notebook rather than my phone.  After reading a few articles and looking at a few IFTTT recipes, I realize that part of the problem is that Any.do doesn't have great documentation and I didn't realize that I could send to-do items from my email.  I will probably try to give Any.do another chance this month.

I decided to break my bag down into what I consider necessities and luxuries.


  1. Emergency inhaler
  2. Eyeglasses
  3. Sunglasses-prescription and non-prescription for when I wear my contacts.  I have extremely light sensitive eyes, and I have difficulty seeing in full sunlight.
  4. Eye drops
  5. iPhone

  1. Notebook pouch
  2. Calendar for the year
  3. Lip gloss
  4. Umbrella
  5. iPod
  6. Antibacterial hand sanitizer**
** I should qualify this by saying that hand sanitizer should only be used in moderation and only when you can't find a sink.  Soap and warm (not hot) water is the best method for killing bacteria.

My notebook pouch contains two pens (A Pilot G-2 and a Marvy Le Pen), my red Moleskine notebook, and a few notecards and index cards for when I need to scribble a note to someone.  I also keep a few cards with my name and email address to give to new acquaintances. The clutch was purchased off of Etsy several years ago.

I know that I carry a lot of redundant items.  I don't want to burn my phone battery so I carry my iPod to listen to podcasts and audiobooks during my commute to work.  I also carry a physical calendar and notebook. I tend to remember events better when I write them down. I still write much faster than I type so I keep my notebook around to jot down quick ideas, German words that I want to look up from my reading, as well as my to-do list and grocery list.  Everything gets processed at night into Evernote.  When I fill this notebook up, I may look into the Evernote integrated Moleskine.  Do any of you have the Evernote Moleskine?  Do you like it?

What do you carry every day?


Weekly Review 1/11/15 (Wochenrückblick 11.01.15)

I would classify my performance this week as average.  The weather was unseasonably cold and I was more tired than usual.  I know that I should listen to my body, but I really don't want to because I am too excited about my plans for the new year.

To kickstart my diet for the new year, I tried a new recipe:  cauliflower with tomatoes and mozzarella.  It was quite tasty!  I also accomplished my task goal of pulling out my notes for my novel and reviewing the first section.  I use Excel and yWriter to organize my writing projects.  I have been debating adding Trello to the mix since I like visual organization methods.

Links for the Week:

Top 10 Gmail Labs and Features You Should Enable:  I love the features that Google has been hiding from us.
How to Keep a Digital Commonplace:  Going along with the idea of being a better diarist, improving my commonplace is one goal that I am working on.  This article discusses OneNote but I am a huge Evernote fan.
Trello: Selbstmanagement für Selbstständige und kleine Teams (German)- I have a Trello account and I have played around with the app but I feel that I am not using it to its full potential.  Although the article is in German, running it through Google translate should cover the gist of the article.

German version:
Ich würde diese Woche meine Leistung als Durchschnittsleistung abschätzen. Das Wetter war unzeitig kalt und ich war müder als normal. Ich weiß, dass ich auf mein Körper hören soll aber mir gefällt das nicht, weil ich sehr begeistert über meine Pläne fürs neue Jahr bin. 

Zu der Diät für das neue Jahr beginnen habe ich ein neues Rezept bereitet: Blumenkohl mit Tomaten und Mozzarella. Es war sehr lecker! Ich habe auch mein Ziel von meine Notizen für meinen Roman zu finden und den ersten Teil zu überprüfen erreicht. Ich verwende Excel und yWriter meine Schreibprojekte zu organisieren. Ich habe die Absicht Trello hinzufügen, weil ich visuelle Selbstmanagementtools mag.


Polyglot: Scholarship versus Aptitude

Details on the covered bridge in Newport, Virginia

Polyglot is an ongoing series where I am blogging my thoughts and summaries of famous polyglot Kató Lomb's book Polyglot: How I Learn Languages.  Page numbers refer to the 2008 edition (pdf) translated by Ádám Szegi and Kornelia DeKorne.  Past entries can be accessed through the polyglot label.

The Linguistic Gift tackles a subject that I have been thinking about recently:  scholarship versus aptitude.  In this chapter, Dr. Lomb argues that the "linguistic gift" or "being good at languages" can be simplified into an equation:

(Invested Time + Motivation)/Inhibition = Result

In other words, succeeding at language learning is dependent on the amount of time you invest, your level of motivation, and the amount of negative inhibition that you have to fight.  Negative inhibition can be poor self confidence which results in being afraid to try conversation because you are afraid that you will make a mistake.  Another source of negative inhibition is trying to translate exactly what you think in your native language because you are afraid of using simple vocabulary in your target language.  This is caused by a concern that people will think that you are stupid.  Of course this concern is understandable, and I am guilty of not speaking in German because my German vocabulary is much smaller than my English vocabulary.

I think the above equation can be applied to any learning endeavor.  Math used to be my least favorite subject in school.  I didn't consider myself "good" at math so I wanted to spend the least amount of time on the subject as possible.  Since I didn't want my math scores to ruin my GPA, I had to fight my instinct to avoid math and studied to improve my math ability.  After spending more time on the subject, I realized that I was not as bad at math as I had thought.  Math simply required more time than other subjects.

One of the ideas that I want to explore in 2015 is the idea of considering why I am reluctant to try different projects, and the resulting friction in starting something I am already perceiving as difficult.  Maybe I need to throw out the word difficult.  Instead of referring to a difficult project, would categorizing a difficult project as a project that needs more time or a project that requires more background learning help overcome my tendency to procrastinate?

I also want to try to reduce the influence that negative inhibition has on my actions.  Some of my hesitancy in speaking German comes from the fact that I don't want to make stupid mistakes.  If I don't write in German, I don't make mistakes but I am also not learning anything as well.  One of my goals for 2015 is to improve my written and spoken German.  I am going to focus on written German first. My reason for doing this is so that I have time to focus on grammar and reviewing some of the grammar that has been decaying in my brain from lack of use.  Once I am more comfortable with grammar, spoken German should be a little easier.

I mentioned in my yearly review for 2014 that I have decided to do my weekly review in German in 2015.  I want to share a little bit about my process.

My first step is to write my weekly review in English.  My goal in my weekly review is to identify three areas where I am doing well and three areas where I need improvement.  I also go through my Evernote and Pocket databases and identify what I have been thinking about this week and what I have learned.  Then I go through and plan my work schedule for the week as well as my personal schedule.  I translate everything into German (with the exception of my personal schedule) using a rough translation framework.  I don't translate word for word.  I focus on concepts instead.  By avoiding word for word translation, I make the process less painful.  I also want to use more natural phrases, and concept translation works better in producing more natural sounding German.  After I have completed my translation, I post it as an entry to Lang-8.  Hopefully, I receive some corrections.  After I review the corrections, I post the corrected entry here.

What do you think about Dr. Lomb's equation?  Do you have sources of negative inhibition and how do you overcome them?