Learning Something Every Day of 2016: October Report

You know what’s cool? Jetlag. Jetlag and having a cold. Jetlag, and having a cold, and days on days of darkness and rain. It’s just really, really good.

spreadsheet screenshot, things learned by date

The things I learned in October.



October was probably the most disrupted, least status-quo month this year, as the bulk of it was taking up with a trip to Japan. I was curious about whether I could keep up my pace of learning something everything every day while on vacation, and it turns out that at least in this case the answer was yes.

During the first half of the trip I was doing the tourist thing in Tokyo but there’s always a bit of time left at the end of the day chilling out back at the hotel which I would usually fill with reading or TV or whatever, not much different from being at home, and so I just used some of that time to do my allotted learning.

Read Real Japanese

My learning while in Japan consisted primarily of working through a book that I’ve owned for several years, called Read Real Japanese (Fiction) which is a collection of short stories in parallel text, the original Japanese on one page, and the translation, line by line, in English on the facing page.

Additionally in the back of the book is a dictionary of the words used in the book, and further explanations of the translations when it is warranted (which is pretty often). I was actually pleasantly surprised that these resources existed and how helpful they were, which might give you an idea of how much honest effort I’ve put into reading the book previously.

So how did I do? Well as far as keeping my routine, very well. And how far did I get through the book? Having spent about 7 hours reading in total over the course of the trip, I read…: One and a half pages.

It turns our reading a language you’re not that good at is very very time consuming even when extremely accelerated by the custom translation and dictionary, plus translator’s notes.

What do I consider “read”? I can “read” the pages much faster, the furigana (pronunciation guides) are included for the Chinese characters that I don’t know, so I could “read” a page in only a couple of minutes. But this would be the equivalent of reading English by just sounding out the letters phonetically. I spent enough time on each sentence so that I could distinguish the components of the sentence, remembered the meaning of each word, and roughly grasped the grammatical structure. To go beyond that will require much more study of the language on my part, to truly understand the turns of phrase used by a native author (if I ever reach such a point).

Do Something, Anything

Only one day this month was an outright failure on my part, with no good reason. It has only happened a couple of times so far this year, but some days I really do just end up failing to do something. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, or increase in frequency, I’m taking those days as just part of the flow.

They usually are a result of a combination of being tired, intellectually worn out from work, and then spinning my wheels as I try to decide what it is I want to do. AKA par for the course from the Before Times, but these days a relatively rare occurrence.

I came across a blog post called The ‘Do Something’ Principle accidentally by following links from one of the guy’s other posts, and it’s another good example of people focusing on action first; direction/details later as a means to get over the stumbling blocks of “inspiration” or “motivation” and so on.

Closing Out The Year

I really feel like I’m on the home stretch now. I will have one more regular progress update post after the end of November and then I guess I’ll do a wrap up and final summary for the end of the year.

I’m glad that I can look back at all the stuff I’ve done, and really really pleased with how things have gone this year. But I’m also pretty sad that there are only 2 months left in this year. I’ve been putting some thought into how I want to continue in 2017 and haven’t come to a final conclusion yet, but that’s ok. This whole project was started on the spur of the moment last New Year’s Eve.

I suspect that for 2017 my goal may be Work On Your Damn Indie Game Project Every Day, because as I found this year it’s really hard to keep up that second goal when there is something else that’s the top priority.

But I’ve also really enjoyed learning a thing every day, so maybe I’ll be able to swing it. I’ll probably stop posting about it and maybe even tracking it, just let it become a part of the background of my life, like flossing. Really that would be the ultimate success of this project.

Checking The List


It’s no problem to keep learning on vacation, especially if it’s topically relevant! Jetlag sucks.