Archive for the ‘2000_Learning’ Category

The Fastest Way to Learn to Read Chinese

January 8, 2015


I have met many people who became fluent in speaking Chinese in 6 months. Chinese does not have very complex grammar rules such as the slavic languages. It was also quite easy for myself. It took me longer to become fluent in French and I gave up on Russian at some point, because of the complex grammar. Benny Lewis, who is a well-known polyglot and blogger on rapid language acquisition achieved an okay fluency even in three months – see his blog. Benny Lewis also wrote an excellent bestselling book about his process and tactics of rapid language acquistion. Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World.

What is much more challenging is to learn to read.  This is not only a challenge for foreigners but also for the Chinese as well. Especially Chinese growing up outside chinese speaking countries find this particular difficult. It takes the first four years in school for chinese children to learn to read and write their first 1000 characters! This is not a fun process because it is mainly through continuous rather boring rote learning.

I found a way to learn to read the first 950 most important characters in 2 months and even had a lot of fun with it. All in all it took me just under 32 hours of my time. Now I am reading my first Chinese Book without consulting a dictionary . Actually I could have even done it in much less than 32 hours. As I am travelling a lot I used my iPhone mostly where I only type with one finger. On my laptop where I can use my ten fingers I am of course much faster. Usually I spent around 3-5 minutes to work on my course and I have done so several times a day. When I wait for the train, when I am in the train, when I wait for the plane, when I am in the plane, when I have a short coffee brake, when I am in the bathroom, when I wake up or before I go to sleep. You will be surprised how many 3-5 minutes slots you can find each day which I didn’t noticed before. I done all this while having a 120% job, a family and a few days a week when I look after the children and the household while my wife is on a business trip.

I only had a slight advantage as I knew still a few (less than 100) of the most important characters from my Chinese Studies at University 20 years ago.  In 2014 I also had picked up frequency lists on the internet and tried out the books “Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters” by James Heisig and Timothy Richardson and the beautiful book on Chinese Characters “Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese” by Shaolan, “Turbo Chinese (English Edition)” by Saurabh Sharma and the well known Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters. I had no success with these books because by the time I started to learn the 1000 most important characters I had forgotten almost all of them.

To sum it up even if you have never learned any Chinese characters before you would still need roughly the same net time as it took myself. But what could differ is the period of time. Instead of 2 months maybe it will take you two to four weeks longer. It all depends on the amount of characters you can learn per day and the frequency.

So what was the method I used to finally succeed with? I signed up for the course “Chinese words spoken by frequency 0-1000” by Ben Whately on Memrise. Memrise uses the state of the art of the latest in neurosciences and learning research. It uses the right spaced repetitions, learning chunks, social learning methodologies, reward system and mnemonics to keep learners engaged. And on top of all it is free.

The course is broken down in 136 levels. Each level contains maximum 15 words. In the odd numbered levels you will learn the characters and their meaning in English and in the even numbered levels you will learn the pronounciation in pinyin and the meaning in English.

When you start learning you will learn around 5 characters per round until you completed the level. Then the pronounciation will be trained in rounds of 5. You can stop anytime and save where you have left of. Each time you get it right you will receive a number of points. This instills some competition as memrise will show you how you compare to other learners in the same course and where you rank. As I am a competitive person this was very motivating.

Additionally in both levels an audio pronounciation of the character or pinyin (pronounciation) that you are currently learning will be given. You will also have various ways to reply. Sometimes you need to select from a list similar to multiple choice or you need to type it directly into a text box. The system will show you the character and ask for the English word or show you the English word and ask for the character or the pinyin.

But this is not all. For each new word that you learn you can see how other people used mnemonics to learn and retain these words. This can be stories, pictures with text or links to useful resources or sentences where the character is used in, etc. If none of these are suited for your need you can create your own mnemonics so called mems.

Memrise was founded by the Memory Grandmaster Ed Cooke who taught Joshua Foer to become the US memory champion and Greg Detra a PhD at Princeton University neurosciences.

Also Joshua Foer used Memrise to study a new language in just 22 hours.

My mission for 2015 is to help you overcome the first threshold to start to read Chinese. Once you start reading you will constantly add often without really noticing it more and more characters and vocabulary to your memory. To do that I will add small excercises for each levels of the memrise course over the next months.

Reading Exercise 1 Level 1 for the Course: “Chinese words spoken by frequency 0-1000” by Ben Whately on Memrise
These are the first 15 Characters/Words you will learn in Level 1. 的 我 你 是 了 不 在 他 我们 好 有 这 就 会
Before you do the below reading exercise you should first learn these words in the memrise course.

I will use these words from level 1 to form small sentences or fragments of it below:
这 是  zhe4 shi4   this is
这 是 我 的 zhe4 shi4 wo3 de5   this is mine
不 是 bu4 shi4  is not
是 不 是 你 的 shi4 bu4 shi4 ni3 de5   is this yours
不, 不 是 , 这 是 他 的 bu4, bu4 shi4, zhe4 shi4 ta1 de5  no, it is not, this is his
是 的 shi4 de5   yes it is
你 好 ni3 hao3  hello
你 有 ni3 hao3  you have
我 有 wo3 you3  I have
我们 有 wo3 men5 you3   we have
我 会 了 wo3 hui4 le5   I know how to do it (now)
我们 不 会 wo3 men5 bu4 hui4  we don’t know how to
我 在 wo3 zai4  I am in/at
我 不 在 wo3 bu4 zai4 I am not in/at
我们 在 他 的 wo3 men2 zai4 ta1 de5  we are at/in his….
就 是 jiu4 shi4  exactly (this word you will actually learn in later level in memrise
好 不 好 hao3 bu4 hao3  alright? or okay?
不 好 bu4 hao3 not good
我 是 不 是 你 的 wo3 shi4 bu4 shi4 ni3 de5  I am not your

Now over to you – try to come up with new combinations. And if you enjoyed the exercise may I ask you for a small favour to share your new combination in the comment section below the post. Thank you.

Another way to boost your chinese readings skills is to start to learn the first 100 most important radicals. These are the small components of a character and help you understand the meaning of the characters much better. I have developped a mnemonic system to make it quite easy and rapid for you. Please see The Fastest And Easiest Way To Learn Chinese Characters.

The best book to read after the course on memrise?
The easiest book to read after the memrise course is The Secret Garden: Mandarin Companion Graded Readers: Level 1, Simplified Chinese Edition. It is so far the best way to start to use your new character and word skills. I was able to recognize 98% of the characters. As I am reading the book on Kindle I can click on the underlined characters that I see for the first time and will be directed to a word list where the pinyin and English translation of the character or composite characters will be given. I am 21% into the book after just one day and I consulted this word list twice so far  and basically it was only to check if I had grasped the meaning already of the new characters while I was reading the sentence. I haven’t yet red the other Level 1 graded readers book of the series but I would assume this to be a similar experience. You can a look inside the book here or download a sample in the kindle store. It is my first book that I can just read without consulting a dictionary and it feels very similar like reading any book in a language that I am totally familiar with: No big effort, no headache, no drag of energy, just fun.

What is the first book I am reading? A very good start to practice your new reading skills after your memrise course is by Marina Chan: First Chinese Reader for Beginners Bilingual for Speakers of English (Graded Chinese Reader Book 1). I am reading it on the Kindle. You can download a sample version first before you buy. The sample version convinced me to buy it and practice my reading skills. You can also take a look inside the book.

There are very few characters in the text that haven’t made it in the 1000 most frequently used words in Chinese. The 1000 words are based on the analysis of Chinese Film Subtitles. Researcher have confirmed that these subtitles match the actual most common words used by the population in China. I think this is no surprise as the film reflects the current vocabulary and in return as film and TV is the most consumed media in China influences back on the use of vacabulary in daily life. If you want to know about the research follow this link.

I can read between 90%-95% of the text in the book immediately. Some of the words I can guess through the context. But of course there are a few that are new. As an example the words for the different colors or words regarding touristic items. I guess in daily life they do not talk a lot about colours or hotels.

At the beginning of each chapter Marina Chan provides a list of characters, the pronounciation in pinyin and the English word for it. Additionally below every sentence in Chinese Characters there is also the pinyin. The translation of each of the sentences is provided at the end of the chapter.

Let’s take the first chapter of the book. From the 90 characters used only 9 were new. So most of the new words you would already be able to read all or at least a part of it. So some of them you could guess out of the context of the sentence. Being at this level it is so much easier to read than if you need to stop every second word to consult the dictioniary.

New words in chapter 1 that are not in the 1000 frequent word list in memrise are:
公园  gong1 yuan2   park – the second character yuan2 is not in the 1000.
商店 shang1 dian4  shop – the first character shang1 did not make in the top 1000, dian4 did
星級 xing1 ji2 – means star – used to say how many stars a hotel has. The second character ji2 is not in the 1000.
酒店 jiu3 dian4  hotel – both characters are in the top 1000, only the combination for the word hotel is not. So you can read the characters but might miss the meaning when combined.
文本 wen2 ben3 text – the first character wen2 is not in the 1000.
桌子 zhuo1 zi5 table – the first character zhuo1 is not part of the top 1000.
窗口 chuang1 kou3 window – the first character chuang1 did not make it into the 1000.
笔记本 bi3 ji4 ben3 notebook – all characters are in the top 1000, only the combination for the word notebook is not – one could guess the word out of the meaning of the individual characters
绿 lv4 green
自行車 zi4 xing2 che1 bike – all characters are known, only the combination to form the word bike is not – also here one could almost guess it from the individual characters used
蓝 lan2 blue
鼻子 bi2 zi2 nose – the first character bi2 is not in the 1000 words list.

I have found a newspaper for the intermediate level in Chinese. It is a dedicated section in the online edition of Global Times called Target Chinese. So far I can understand between 70-80% of it. I still need a dictionary to look up missing words.




The Fastest And Easiest Way To Learn Chinese Characters – How to Really Use Mnemonics For Learning Chinese

October 30, 2014
Chinese Radicals

100 Frequently Most Used Chinese Radicals related to Human Subcategory

For any novice learner of Chinese Characters the first time he or she will see a page of Chinese Characters this will be overwhelming. It looks nice but for the brain it is pure chaos. At this stage we do not know what patterns to look for in these characters. It is the same for a child who sees a page of text before they know any type of letter. What do children usually do in these cases ? They will look at the pictures instead if there are any.

Our brains are made to recognize pictures and our brains are geniuses when it comes to store images. Our visiual memory is the fastest and the biggest storage system we have. With the help of the mnemonic system below you will be able to tap into this powerful learning system.

This way you will accelerate your learning and also retain the memorized characters much longer.

The best way to start is with the most important patterns called radicals. These radicals will also help you to identify the characters in the chinese dictionary.
There are 214 radicals. Yet it would be best to first learn the 100 most frequently radicals first and not learn the more exotic radicals that will hardly come across you when you start to read your first chinese texts.  See Kickstart your character learning with the 100 most common radicals by Olle Line.

I have categorized these 100 radicals into subgroups. With the help of the subgroups you will be able to build the memory palace that will hold all these images that will remind you of the characters in the future.

There are the following sub categories that you can choose a sub locations for: (The full list of these characters and sub categories is here)
1. Related to human
2. Related to human activity
3. Related to human appearance and situations
4. Related to house or household
5. Related to space/area/nature etc
6. Plants
7. Related to animals
8. Related to numbers
9. Related to colours

The Method
I have chosen a three step approach:

First step is to find a vivid image for each of the characters connected to the meaning in English.
In the second step you will associate for each of the syllables a memorable person (celebrity or people that you remember well)
In the third step you remember the tone of the syllable by association of the connected memorable person performing a task which is related to the meaning of the word and the tone.

I give you an example for remembering the syllable and the tone:
The word sickness has the chinese syllable ni4. Ni I have associated with Nikita Chruschtschow.
To remember the fourth tone of ni I see Nickita Chruschtschow falling down on the floor because he suddenly became utterly sick.

The Art of Memory - Giordano Bruno Mnemonic

The Art of Memory – Giordano Bruno Mnemonic

First Step – Create Images and a Place in Your Memory Palace:
Let’s build our memory palace and images for all the 100 most used Chinese Radicals together.
We start with the subcategory 1. related to humans.
It includes the following characters:

or human
or heart (Radical 61)
orhand (Radical 64)
right hand
thumb or inch
human legs

In total these are 18 Characters. Just to put those in memory without mnemonics would take quite a number of repeats. Usually we can hold maximum 7 plus or minus two items in our short time memory at once. With mnemonics you will overcome this barrier.

I have created the following images and path to store these characters one by one.
My memory palace is a house in China, yet it is build in an European Style. I live under the roof in the second floor.

One day I was sleeping on my huge silk white bed with my legs open . (I see myself as a human.)
I wake up and stand straight up in my bed. Unfortunately it is just under the roof so I hit my head against the roof and this hurts a lot.
I see myself as a human with the roof above.
I need to sit down in my bed straigth with my legs stretched in front of me, when I realize that I have eaten a baby cradle and I now look
like a woman 女.
When I stand up from the bed I suddenly feel enourmous pressure in my stomach because the child feels squashed by the cradle I have swolled and it stretches out his arms while having to pull in his head because of the cradle. .

I am shocked and just before I fall I get hold of my bookshelf opposite of my bed. The pain is so big that I open my mouth to scream. My mouth has been replaced by a artifical square roboter like mouth piece. .
Terrified I jump a way into the middle of the room. This is when I realize that my heart starts to pump heaviliy out of all three venes and spill blood all over me. . Some of the blood springles into my mouth so I have that sweet tast of blood on my tongue.
I feel panic and I want to go downstairs to get dressed. When I reach out with my hand to hold on to the wall I see that it was turned in an artifical antenna with three lines. .
No I think, I cannot go downstairs with this type of hand, so I screw off my right hand and put it in a nice chest   that stands on this two nicely shaped feet just before the stairs.

I walk down to the toilet. When I enter the toilet I see my eye in the mirror was also turned into an articficial triangle with rectangular lids around  it. . When I want to take a leak into the toilet I suddenly realise that I can hardly sit down because I am totally wobbly on my feet. They are mounted on a large woman stilleto with a spring. .
It is a nice idea to be able to take very large steps like with the seven miles boots and thus be much faster than walking in normal shoes, but it is not a good idea for going to the toilet and trying to sit down.  Only after many fruitless tries and holding to the bathroom tub I finally manage to sit down.  But to my dismay my corpse falls over because it is more heavier above and very thin below. .
I had enough. I wash my left hand. While washing it I realize that my thumb was also turned into antenna which is one inch wide and when I do a finger print of it it will only leave a dot on the paper. .

Damm I think I need to have a bath to relax from all this stress. Once I come out of the bath tub my legs become strangely flexible. I had forgetten that they also very now artificial. So they look like this .
I walk over to the mirror and put my tongue out which I regret badly. The tongue that comes out of my square mouth also has an antenna on it with two lines  and it has a bitter taste.

I am very annoyed and hungry and go downstairs into the kitchen. Unfortunately when I entered the kitchen I fall and a needle sticks through my skin in my stomach and scratches the baby cradle. . This is so painful.
I leave the kitchen and go to the living room to make an emergency telephone call. When I put the phone to my ear I realize that it was also exchanged with a rectangular antenna objects with two inside stripes and two longer ones on the outside. .
What a strange day to start with.

The mnemonic stories work the best when you create your own images and memory palace. Instead of using a house it could be any place that you are very familiar with. It could be your way to work, or if you walk through your favourite zoo, museeum, etc. The key is to have one image that is very memorable and preferrably animated and it has a unique place for storage.

Second Step Associate Memorable People to the  Syllables:
I make the following associations. The number indicate the tones. In Brackets the intuitive English Pronounciation. For all Pinyin Syllables look here.
cun4 Carl Gustav Jung   (tswnn)
er2 Erdogan President of Turkey (urr)
er3 Erdogan President of Turkey (urr)
kou3 Cowboy John Wayne (koh)
mu4 Muhammed Ali (moo)
nv3 Oliver Neuville (former German Soccer Player) (nyoo)
pi2 Pia Zadorra (pee)
ren2 Rene Descartes (rnn)
she2  Sheela Indian Film Actress (sher)
shi1 Shia LaBoeuf (shrr)
shou3 Schubert the composer (shoh)
xin1 Xindi are peole from the planet Xindus in Start Treck (sshin)
you4 Neil Young (yoh)
zi3  Zig Ziglar (dzrr)
zu2 Peter Zumtobel Swiss Architect (dzoo)

Again the same as above choose the association of people for each of the syllables that work best for you.
Tone 1 means to have a steady straight pronounciation when you speak the syllable. In Tone 2 you go up with your voice when you say the syllable. For tone 3 you are up and go down and up again when you pronounce the syllable. And tone 4 means you start high and go down when you speak the syllable.

For the next step I have associated the tones with actions such as for tone 1 the action performed by the memorable person will be a straight line. Example would be laying me on the back on the floor. For tone 2 it has an action that puts me somehow up. Tone 3 is represented by any action that is somehow connected to up and down and up movments and for tone 4 it is something that will put me down. It will become clearer when you read the following story.

Third Step – bring it all together into one final story:
One day I was sleeping on my huge white silk bed when Rene Descardes came and lifted up my two legs and spread them across my bed because he wanted to examine how people sleep when their legs are laid out in a perfect triangle 人 ren2. I see myself as a human.
I wake up and I am pritty annoyed with Rene Descartes. Instead of leaving me alone  Rene Descartes put me straight up in my bed . Unfortunately my bed is just under the roof so I hit my head against the roof and this hurts a lot. I am now very angry with Rene Descartes.
I see myself as a human with the roof above 亻ren2.

Oliver Neuville comes to my rescue and takes me in his arms and shakes me like a baby to calm me then helps me to sit down in my bed straigth with my legs stretched in front of me, when I realize that I have eaten a baby cradle and I now look
like a woman 女 nv3.
I start to cry. Zig Ziglar hears it and tries to lift me up and down to get me overthrow in the hope that the cradle comes. I feel an enourmouse pressure in my stomach because the child feels squashed by the cradle I have swolled and it stretches out his arms while
having to pull in his head because of the cradle. . zi3.
I am shocked and just before I fall I get hold of my bookshelf opposite of my bed. Suddenly I hear Cowboy John Wayne approaching with his horse. He jumps right behind me and starts pushing my stomach in and out. The pain is so big that I open my mouth to scream. My mouth has been replaced by a artifical square roboter like mouth piece. kou3.

I let you finish the story by yourself.

Mnemonics works best if you find the associations that work best for you.
There is a great guideline on creating memorable images for mnemonics on the Hacking Chinese Blog: Memory aids and mnemonic to enhance learning by Olle Linge.

Once you are able to walk through the 16 Characters forward and backwards I would recommend you the first exercise. Read a Chinese Text printed out on paper and mark each of the learned radicals in the characters.
Here an example text based on the the first 100 most frequently used Chinese Characters and Words in Film Subtitles:


And this is the result of the above text analysis based on the 16 Radicals you have mastered by now:


Quite a number of characters that will include one of the radicals you have just learned.
You will notice there are already a few characters that are only made up of the radicals you know by now.
Example: 好, 如,从

And if you have mastered all the 100 Radicals this would be the result:

100 Most Frequently Used Words in Film Subtitles containing Elements of the 100 Most Used Radicals

100 Most Frequently Used Words in Film Subtitles containing Elements of the 100 Most Used Radicals

Planned updates:
I will add further exercises and examples
More on learning the most used words and characters in Chinese

Frequency List of Chinese Characters based on Film Subtitles


Improve Memory – Accelerate Learning Latest Research

September 15, 2014

Latest Research:
Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory

“aerobic exercise training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory”

Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness Are Beneficial for White Matter in Low-Fit Older Adults

“Participation in physical activity and high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) have protective effects on brain structure and function and are associated with later onset or lower degree of age-related cognitive decline”

Physical exercise: why aerobic excercise enhances neurogenesis and neuroplasticity

“As little as three hours a week of brisk walking has been shown to halt, and even reverse, the brain atrophy (shrinkage) that starts in a person’s forties, especially in the regions responsible for memory and higher cognition.”

How to improve learning agility and capabilities has always been top of my agenda.
I used to run and also do High Intensity Interval Training. I also blogged about the benefits and how to incorporate this into a busy work schedule:
Work Smarter, Get More Things Done through Less Than 10 Minutes Cardio High Intensity Interval Training HIIT Workout Routines in the Home Office – Latest Research
Lately I was very inactive due to a knee injury from skiing also pain in the right arm. I could not do any of the HIIT workouts nor was I able to do most of the yoga poses. In order to still improve my memory through exercise I turned to the various asian medical “gymnastics”.
Bascically I build the following programm on Yoga (India), Qi Gong (China), Meridian Strech (Japan), Five Tibetan Rites (Tibet). If time permits I also include medical gymnastic from Dr. Norbekov (Sufi/Russia) and the Tai Chi 5 Elements Exercise.
To my surprise I did not just find a way to exercise but at the same time after already 3 of the sessions were able to reduce the pain and inflamation in my knee and shoulder dramatically. Now I can do Yoga poses and exercises again that I was not able to perform  before.
If you have medical conditions I would advise you to consult your doctor before practicing these exercises.

Activation Excercises:

Salutation to the sun – Surya Namaskar (Step by Step Guide with Pictures) (Video)
Cardiovascular training and warm up (recommended by Aladar Kogler, Ph. D. – U.S. Olympic Coach)

Qi Gong:
5 Elements Qi Gong

(Tai Chi:
5 Elements Excercise)

Masunaga Makka Ho – Meridan Strech Excercise (Japan): Da

Five Tibetan Rites:

Shoulder Stand – Sarvagasana

Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana

Medical Gymnastics of Norbekov:


Anulom Vilom




Jalandhara Bandha

Uddiyana Bandha

Moola Bandha





Abhyantara Kumbhaka


Bahya Kumbhaka


Five Element Breath

Dhyana and Dzogchen:


Yoga for Concentration and Memory


Top 100 Most Used Chinese Characters Compounds

August 19, 2014

This list is based on the frequency list for the top 3000 words found in the The Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese.

一个   one
我们   we or us
他们   they / them
自己   oneself
没有   no
发展   development
工作   work
问题   matter
经济   economy
中国   China
什么   what
可以   may / can
社会   society / community
这个   this
就是   namely / even
国家   country / nation / state
这样   so / such / like this
进行   progress
企业   enterprise / business
技术   skill / technique
不能   cannot
活动   activity / movement
系统   system / scheme
一些   some
起来   about / up
人们   people
这些   these
孩子   child
生活   life
关系   relationship
我国   my country
如果   if
第一   first / number one
研究   study / research
因为   because
要求   request / demand / asking
需要   to need
不同   different
情况   circumstance
管理   management
生产   produce
教育   education
知道   to know
组织   organization
全国   nationwide / national
现在   now
已经   already
方面   aspect
世界   world
主要   main
人民   the people
必须   shall
还是   or
建设   construction
为了   in order to
时间   time
认为   to think
改革   reform
美国   the United States (USA)
可能   possibly
一定   must
通过   on / by
市场   market
作为   as
学生   student
结构   form
由于   due to
作用   impact
影响   influence
部门   department
开始   to begin
公司   company
许多   many
有关   refer
但是   but
因此   accordingly
日本   Japan
时候   hour
出现   uprise
地方   place
提高   improve
各种   spread
同志   comrade
一般   mostly
出来   to come out
精神   ambition
同时   while
地区   neighborhood
历史   history
而且   but also
计划   plan
社会主义   socialism
科学   science
思想   thought
这里   here
单位   unit
领导   leadership
个人   individual

Further Reading:
The Fastest and Easiest Way to Learn Chinese Characters – How to Really Use Mnemonics For Learning Chinese


Learning to Write Chinese Characters Learn the most common Chinese Radicals first

July 18, 2014

Learning to write Chinese is the most difficult part of learning Chinese. To speed up learning to write Chinese definitely it will help if you know the 100 most common Chinese radicals which make up many of the most used Chinese Characters.
Olle Ling provided a very useful list of the most common 100 Chinese radicals here:

You could take the list and learn the characters from top which is the most used to the bottom which is the least used.

I have tried to come up with the fastest way to learn the 100 common Chinese primitives or radicals.
Either I use stories or I use categories to structure the list and then use mnemonics. I have written a how to do guide on remembering the 100 most frequently used characters.

Story 1: The icy house on the cliff leads to sickness
广 guǎng house on cliff
冫bīng ice
疒 nì sickness
厂 chǎng cliff
There was a cliff 厂 chǎng. A house was build on it 广 guǎng. One day everything was covered with ice 冫bīng. Sicknes 疒 nì broke out in the house on the cliff.

Story 2: The good earth leads to the first village

土 tǔ earth
田 tián field
里 lǐ village
People found very good earth 土 tǔ for farming and decided to grow crops. The field 田 tián nourished many people and they build a village 里 lǐ  next to it.

Related to human
人 or 亻rén human
女 nǚ woman
子 zǐ child
口 kǒu mouse
心 xīn heart
手 shǒu hand
又 yòu right hand
目mù eye
足 zú foot
尸 shī corpse
寸 cùn thumb or inch
儿 ér human legs
舌 shé tongue
皮 pí skin
耳 ěr ear

Related to human activity:
讠yán speech
辶 chuò walk
攵 pū knock
彳chì small steps
工 gōng work
饣shí eat
欠 qiàn yawn
立 lì stand
艮 gěn stopping
止 zhǐ stop
走 zǒu run
辛 xīn bitter
夂 zhī go
见 jiàn see
勹 bāo embrace

Related to appearance:
力 lì power
大 dà big
衤yī clothes
巾 jīn turban
士 shì scholar
小 xiǎo small

Related to house or household
纟sī silk
钅jīn gold
刂 dāo knife
宀 gài roof
厶 sī private
阝 yì mound
车 chē cart
门 mén gate
斤 jīn axe
亠 tóu lid
王 wáng jewel
冖 mì cover
皿 mǐn dish
礻shì sign
戈 gē spear
几 jǐ table
殳  shū weapon
酉 yǒu wine
弓 gōng bow
户 hù  door
舟 zhōu boat
匕 bǐ spoon
卩 jié seal
罒 wǎng net

Related to space/area/nature etc:
日 rì sun
月 yuè moon
氵shuǐ water
火 huǒ fire
石 shí stone
山 shān mountain
方 fāng square
穴 xué cave
雨 yǔ rain
干 gān dry
夕 xī evening
阝yì city
囗 wéi enclosure

木 mù tree
艹 cǎo grass
禾 hé grain
⺮ zhú bamboo
页yè leaf
米 mǐ rice

Related to animals
贝bèi shell
犭quǎn dog
虫 chóng insect
马 mǎ horse
隹 zhuī bird
羊 yáng sheep
牜niú cow
鸟 niǎo bird
羽 yǔ feather

一 yī one
八 bā eight
十 shí ten

白 bái white
青 qīng green or blue

Further Reading:
The Fastest and Easiest Way to Learn Chinese Characters – How to Really Use Mnemonics For Learning Chinese

Learning How to Turn Twitter Tweets into RSS Feed

June 24, 2014

Thanks to great people on the internet I was able to learn very quickly how to turn any twitter tweets into an RSS Feed. And this RSS Feed can be used anywhere! and it can be even displayed within a blog post!

With the new Twitter API v. 1.1 this became a more complex operation than it used to be.
Luckily there are fantastic teachers out there who share their great work-arounds for free.

My great learning journey started with Amit Agarwal and his blog post and video on
How to Create RSS Feeds for Twitter – Video Tutorial.
If you follow carefully his steps you will end up with an url that will be the first step towards the RSS Feed to be used anywhere. (If you want to turn your own twitter tweets into RSS see advice at the end of my blog post).

Once you created this url it will only work in Feedly or in Feedbin. Most other RSS Readers will not accept at this point. This was advised by the web-geek Mona Sorcelli.

It was through the help of Manuel Meurer and his great post on How to set up automatic retweeting using a Google Apps Script, Yahoo Pipes, and TwitterFeed.
From this post you will only need the second act – the Yahoo Pipes. Click on the link of his published pipe on Yahoo and enter the URL you created with the help of Amit Agarwal and you will get to an RSS Feed that can be used anywhere. (If you want to customize the feed your way – see further down in my blog post).

To get the final RSS feed to use in any RSS Reader or website click on the button “Get as RSS” that will appear once you run the Yahoo Pipe of Manuel Meurer. Copy the RSS Feed URL from the browser into any RSS Reader.

Display RSS in Blogpost or Website with Javascript
Or use the tool on the website Feed2Js (Alan Levine) to create a javascript code to place in your website or blog post. See my example: Gotthard Tunnel RSS News and Traffic News. Feed2Js will update the feed every 60 minutes.

Turn your own twitter feed into RSS feed
If you want to turn your own twitter feeds into RSS than you can use the following approach shown by Neil Ball – How To Create A Twitter RSS Feed – New Version Since API Switch Off.

Manipulate the Output of the RSS feed
If you want to customize the output of the RSS feed that you get out the Yahoo Pipe created by Manuel Meurer please visit my clone of his Yahoo Pipe. I had to add the user input element “URL input” at the beginning of the pipe to make the clone work.

Automatic Twitter Updates triggered by the RSS feed
And thanks to Manuel Meurer advice you can use Twitterfeed to create automatic retweets.
Twitterfeed will usually only update every 30 Minutes.

I use IFTTT (If This Than That) which is usually faster than Twitterfeed.
Choose Feed as your trigger channel and insert the url to your rss feed.

Realtime Updates with Pubsubhubbub

There is also a faster way if you reprogram the google script from Amit Agarwal  to include pubsubhubbub. Pubsubhubbub provides realtime notifications. It was developed by Brad Fitzpatrick and Brett Slatkin of Google and Martin Atkins of Six Apart.

The XML created with the google script from Amit Agarwal would need the following addition:

< atom:link rel=”hub” href=””/  >

More useful Information on pubsubhubbub is here.
Hope I was helpful.

you might als find helpful:

How to join a Google Hangout with Skype

The Raspberry Pi as Wlan Airprint Server

How to connect with Micrsoft Lync to Skype


The Magic Systemic Diet

May 16, 2014

Honestly, I hate diets. I don’t like to feel hungry, I don’t like to eat only selected food, I hate to count calories and I don’t want to spent more time in the kitchen because I already have a very busy schedule. Guess what, I am also not a fan of exercising. On top of all I am an impatient person and want to see results fast otherwise I quit. And usually I don’t want people to know that I am on diet because I will fail for sure this one and would feel ashamed and guilty. And actually I like to enjoy life now why should I deprive myself for the rest of my life?

The only thing I don’t like about myself is my overweight.

I am a senior well resprected change manager with many years of experience on helping people and organizations to change successfully. But wait a moment in 2011 I had to bitterly acknowledge that despite all my professional experiences I was not even able to change and manage sustainable my own weight! How can I look into the eyes of my clients and tell them I know everything about change.

This was a final wakeup call and I started to look through all my resources, all the resources on change and weight change management. After a lot of trials and errors I finally came up with what I call the magic systemic diet. It is magic because you will lose weight almost effortless and in an automatic way and it is called systemic because it takes the system into account in which you live in. Actually it is not even a diet, because you don’t deprive yourself and follow a very strict plan, it is rather a set of little adjustments that won’t require much effort to implement. It is not a diet for all those who have an eating disorder or other health related problems, therefore please consult a health care professional.

When I had this triggering revelation in 2011 I was totally overwhelmed first. Basically I did not know where to start. In my life I had tried so many different diets. I lost weight but I always gained more back at the end. Usually I went for the diets that someone else just had success with. After a few days or weeks once I lost weight I became bored or even frustrated with the diet. It just seemed to absorb all my energy and didn’t feel naturally at some point. I felt like I am missing out on life just because I follow the strict regime of a new weight loss program. But each time I stopped these programs I felt ashamed of myself because I failed. Also during the period of dieting I became a very moody person. It didn’t take much to get me angry. This of course is not ideal for my relationships.

In 2011 when I embarked on my quest to ask my friend’s and colleagues again how to lose weight and keep it off for ever wasn’t an option. They would just have told me about a new diet they were currently following with success. And how many of them have I seen yo-yoing during the time I got to know them. They go on a diet and one year later they are on the next diet because they regained all the weight they lost. So it didn’t matter if they followed the most prominent or the most exotic diet the result at the end was always the same.

When I consulted the research on nutrient and dieting the same picture emerged. It does not matter which diet to use over time the weight loss is the same. Some let you lose weight faster in the first weeks some help you lose weight more in the later part of the diet. Yet when looking at the long term results 98% regained their weight. What a statistical success factor is that?  The odds to lose weight and keep it for longer term is just 2% versus 98% chance to regain all of the weight lost. Shouldn’t I give up right now here? Would you bet on a horse if you knew it had a 2% chance to win versus a 98% chance to lose?

Personally I like the odds against me. These are the challenges I love and maybe it is the nature of my work. How many change projects do you know where the big majority of people are in favour of ? Not many to what I know off.

Clearly the first thing to adress was to increase the chances to win versus the chances to loose. What looked so obvious to me, still did not tell me what buttons to push, what steps to take. I was sitting in the dark.

Of course having decided not to consult my friends or colleagues I turned to Google instead. I used various search strategies, tactics and terms and at one point I had to admit I was looking for the famous pin in the hay stack. Basically there was no satisfying answer. Honestly I was in despair and I was about to give up.

It needs luck sometimes. And luck strikes when you least expect it. It was at the shopping mall in Switzerland when I was waiting for my wife. She informed that she will be late, so I strolled around and found a bookstore. I like to visit bookstores and glance at their offerings in the various categories. While I made my round from the best sellers to the self helps books on to the cook books, I finally ended up with the shelves filled with endless numbers of diet books. I was starting to yawn scanning through the titles of these books. They promise you everything but all focus only on a strict eating plan of a certain food group or food item. I was about to leave when something odd caught my eyes. The title was really strange and I was debating if I should still waste more time with a subject I actually was frustrated with or if I should give it just one more try. Slowly I walked over to the shelves and picked up the book. First I was laughing about myself and thought it is a joke, then I turned the book and red the description of the back cover. I started to tremble. Heurka I was shouting inside. This is the lead I was probably looking for so desperately….

“More Myself, Less on the Scale”.

Further Reading:
101 Magic Tricks To Make Your Weight Loss Diet Easy Unconcious To Follow and Automatic and Sustainable 

Magic Systemic Weight Loss – Inspiring Visions To Stick To Your Goal

May 15, 2014

You have a goal, but to stay on track it needs a deeper purpose, a vision that not only speaks to your rational but to your heart and soul.

There are situations and days when you about to give up and stop following your plan to a lighter you. These are also the days where most people completly stop their diets and return to their old habits and consider themselves as total diet failures.

To prepare for these moments and go back on track after a setback having your motivators written down and always in front of you is the best way to continue. All high achievers in sports or other fields use this method.

I have prepared my own inspiring slide deck and maybe it will inspire you as well.
Magic Systemic Weight Change Management Motivational Slides

Magic Systemic Weight Loss – Self Weighing Regularly

April 24, 2014

There are so many scientific proven micro life adjustments tricks that have an impact on successful weight management – Learn how to make your weight management automatic.
I am collecting all those tips and tricks based on research here at:
101 Magic Tricks to Make Your Weight Loss Diet easy unconcious to follow and automatic and sustainable

The main conclusion of the research below is:
Self-weighing regularly will improve weight loss in average by over 8 pounds over 6 months alone compared to people who decrease frequencey of self-weighing and it will not impact on body-satisfaction.
This is around 1.33 pounds per months or 4655 calories or around 1050 calories per week alone.
These findings were also confirmedd by the research of Roy Baumeister and John Tierney.
People who weight their weight daily lose more weight than people who weigh their weights weekly. Also writing your weight down each day will give another boost to your weight management.

See the research: Is frequent self-weighing associated with poorer body satisfaction ?


Participants who increased their frequency of self-weighing over the 6-month period demonstrated significantly better weight loss outcomes than those who maintained or decreased their frequency of self-weighing (-6.8 kg vs -3.1 kg, F = 8.59, P = .006). There were no significant associations between self-weighing frequency and body satisfaction at 6 months (F = 0.55, P = .58).


These findings support frequent self-weighing for weight control. There appears to be little or no effect of self-weighing on body satisfaction. Future research should replicate these findings across a larger, more diverse population of overweight adults.


101 Magic Tricks To Make Your Weight Loss Diet easy unconcious to follow and automatic and sustainable – The Magic Systemic Diet

April 23, 2014

Congratulations! You have made a decision to manage your weight I assume otherwise you would not read this blog post. In the last years research has uncovered many easy to use tricks to make losing weight a stroll in the park, automatic and keep the new target weight unconciously. Actually I call those little tricks the magic micro lifestyle adjustments which impact your waistline. You can use those tricks without even following a diet plan or excersice regime or you can add them to your new diet you would like to try out. It doesn’t matter. These tricks alone will have an impact on your weight management.
Have your read anywhere the word change yet even though I worked myself in change management for over 20 years? No, because there is nothing dramatic you need to change to get your weight down. The most people fail because from one day to the next they want to change their lifestyles or their diets completly. It is always better to work with incremental steps and allow flexibility. All what you need is to make adjustments in the sense of more of that and less of that until your many micro adjustments bring you below your weekly calory threshold that decides over gain or loss.
In the following I will take you through a pleasant journey to help you make some minor adjustments to your lifestyle. The journey already started since you are here. You came here for a reason and the reason is your weight. What is it about your weight that makes you think or feel this is not the right weight for you?
Now is the best time to think and notice why you want to lose weight. It is this trivial question which has already an impact on your weight management. Was it you that judged and decided about your weight, was it someone else who told you to change your weight ? What was the trigger ?
Take the time if you like now and answer these questions. Maybe you would like to talk with a friend and explain to her your reasons or you have done it already. It would be also good if you write it down for yourself.
These are already a few suggestions for little magic life adjustments. Below is a list of all the tricks. These suggestions are all scientifically proven to have an impact on the success of weight management. But wait the real effortless magic comes into play when you select the tricks that would work best for you. You do not need to implement all of them. The magic is that you identify the ones that are very easy to do and you can follow those from today onwards. You don’t have to follow a precise order. You can also try any of those tricks and if you realize that it is still not easy to do just try another one until you have a portfolio of micro adjustments you do automatically during a week.

For each of the following suggestions rate those from 1-10. 1 means it is so easy I do it without real effort and it is fun and 10 means I need all my strength to implement those and it is very very hard.

Using Reflection (see research by Jacinda B. Roach)
1. Talk to a person you trust and would support your decision to lose weight
2. Identify what your heart says to your decision and not your rational – what is the emotional part that triggers your decision  See examples
3. Write it down – put on paper See examples
4. What is your goal and by when would you like to reach it? Write it down
5. What will you eat and do after you have reached your goal? Write it down
6. What is your goal in one year time? Write it down
7. Reflect on previous weight changes – what went well, how much did you lose, how long did you do it, why did you stop – write it down
8. Reflect on weight gain – how much weight did you gain since your last diet, in what period of time – write it down
9. Where do you eat during a week ? Where do you have breakfast, lunch, dinner, snags during the week? At home, in the office, outside, at a friend’s house?
10. What are your places connected to food and how often do you use those ? Do you eat in front of the television, when you drive in the car, do you eat at your desk, dining room table, kitchen?
11. With whom do you eat during a week and how often ? Family, friends, colleagues, alone, father, mother,….?
12. At what day(s) of the week is it most easy for you to follow your weight management plan?
13. At what day(s) of the week is it most easy for you to follow your diet?
14. At what day(s) of the week is it most difficult to follow your weight management plan?
15. At what day(s) of the week is it most difficult for you to follow your diet?
16. When do you consume the most food during the week? Mostly on the week-end?
17. At which times of the day do you eat the most food? Rather during the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening?
18. When do you reward yourself with eating and drinking? Is it with friends on the week-end, is it Friday evening after a work-week? Who is present when you reward yourself?
19. When do you enjoy eating the most? Candle light dinner in the restaurant? The Turkey with the Family on Thanksgiving?
20. What is the hightest caloric food you enjoy and when in what quantity do you enjoy it?
21. What food or drink do you use as reward and for what?
22. What type of food and drinks would you never give up? Are they connected to a place or time during the day or to a person?
23. Do you eat with people who have a BMI larger or smaller than your current one?
24. What was the history in your family on weight management?
25. Have you followed a diet for more than 4 weeks and which one was it and how much weight did you lose?
26. Which diets have you stopped to follow before 4 weeks were over, which one were those and what was the reason?
27. Do you get bored and how often and do you eat then and when?
28. Where do you snag the most? At home, at work, with family or friends?
29. What were the three strategies to lose weight that worked for you in the past ?
30. What were the five strategies that have not worked in the past to lose weight?
31. When do you eat without thinking about it?
32. At what specific time and place during the day would you consume the majority of your calories?
33. Who would sabotage your diet?
34. Who decides what you will eat today or at a specific meal or occasion?
35. What do you eat on the weekend from Friday to Sunday?
36. Do you know your resting metabolic rate?

Establishing Rules and Rituals
1. Do you weigh yourself daily at home and write your weight down? If not daily can you do it more often and at what days of the week? See Scientific Research here
2. Do you eat breakfast regularly? Can you do it more often?
3. Do you eat mainly at the table? Can you do more of it and less in front of the television and at what days of the week?
4. Do you eat and drive? Can you do less of it and at what days of the week?
5. Do you read the food labels? Can you do more of it during the week?
6. Do you cook? Can you do more of it or would you learn it if not?
7. Do you read books about weight management ? Can you do it more often?
8. Do you write down what you have eaten ? Can you do it at least for three days?
9. Do you have a partner or a group of people who also want to loose weight ? If not can you find one?
10. Do you wear regularly a belt or a type of clothes that lets you feel the size of your waistline ?
11. Do you use smaller plates ? See right portion sizes: Webmd and Pinterest
12. Do you close your kitchen 1,5 hrs before you go to bed ?
13. Do you brush your teeth after every meal?
14. Do you use words like never, always, every day? Can you use less of those and replace them with most of the days in the week, less than or more often than now during the week?
15. Do you blame others for failure of your weight management? Can you do less of it and look at your own responsibility?
16. Do you blame yourself for failure of your weight management? Can you do less of it and more take failure as your opportunity to learn about yourself without judgement?
17. Do you go outside in the morning to get some fresh air? Can you do more of it?
18. Do you plan in one to two days a week where you allow yourself to watch less over your diet at a certain meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and plan on the day after or on your best day(s) of the week to do more for your diet?
19. Do you accept your emotions as they are? Can you do more of it during the week?
20. Do you forgive yourself for a failure to manage your weight and write it down afterwards?
21. Do you accept to fail and then eat until you feel satied instead of over-induldge out of frustration? Can you do it more often during the week?
22. Do you stop eating when your hunger is stilled and leave the rest on your plate? Can you do it more often during the week? See right portion sizes: Webmd and Pinterest
23. Do you eat the rest of the food your partner or kids leave on their plate? Can you do it less often during the week?
24. Do you look at your mobile phone several times a day? Could you do it less often and rather after your meals than before your meals?
25. Do you write about your weigth loss on social media?
26. Do you make your bed regulary in the morning? Can you do it more often during the week?
27. Can you defer to consume high calory snags or meals to a later date in the week?
28. Can you prepare a budget for your planned calory intake for the week? Can you do it more often?
29. Do you reflect in the evening how many calories you have consumed today? Can you do it more often during the week?
30. Do you have fixed time windows for meals during a day? Can you do it more often during the week?
31. Do you read empowering books?
32. Do you think you can you maintain your chosen micro lifestyle adjustment for more than a year?
33. Do you have a plan for the moments you fail on your weight management and how you will respond to it?
34. Do you buy smaller size food packages? Can you do it more often?
35. Do you use a steamer? Can you do it more often?
36. Do you use a nonstick pan? Can do it more often?
37. Do you use a kitchen scale? Can you do it more often?
38. Do you use a rotisserie ovens? Can you do it more often?
39. Do you use small cups? Can you do it more often?
40. Do you use small bowls? Can you do it more often?
41. Do you use a tall narrow glass? Can you use it more often?
42. Do you eat some of your meals blindfolded? Can you do it more often?
43. Do you have a snack-free zone at home or work?
44. Do you eat at your work desk? Can you do it less often?
45. Do you have a snag and food free work desk? Can you do it more often?
46. Do you keep food or snags in your drawer at work? Can you do it less often?
47. Do you have snacking guideline?
48. Do you eat at restaurants? Can you do it less often?
49. Do you eat in fast food reastaurants? Can you do it less than three times per week?
50. Do you change your route to and from work to avoid any tempting fast food restaurants on the way back? Can you do it more often?
51. Do you keep your most tempting food and snags at home? Can you do it more often?
52. Do you shop in the supermarket after you have eaten before? Can you do it more often?
53. Do you eat while watching a movie in the cinema? Can you do it less often?
54. Do you multitask while you eat? Can you do it less often?
55. Do you maintain your weight management during the weekend? Can you do it more often?
56. Do you maintain your weight management during a holiday period? Can you do it more often?
57. Do you clean your house? Can you do it more often?
58. Do you have subgoals? Can you set more of those?
59. Do you have learning goals rather than performance goals? Can you set those more often? (Learning goal: can I find a different route from home to work to avoid tempting situations rather than a performance goal: can I loose 5 pounds in two weeks)
60. Do you have a hobby that gives you great pleasure? Can you do it more often?
61. Do you take three deep breaths before you eat? Can you do it more often?
62. Do you plate your food individually in the kitchen rather than at the table? Can you do it more often?
63. Do you know the proper serving seizes for your favorite foods? See Portion Sizes: WebMd and Pinterest
64. Do you keep track of your micro lifestyle adjustments and report the progress against for a week? Can you do it more often?
65. Do you give your best to achieve your set goals for your micro lifestyle adjustments? Can you do it more often?
66. Do you leave bones on the table until you have finished eating? Can you do it more often?

Start with the most easiest adjustment or adjustments and see if you can do this adjustment more than 4 weeks. Over time incrementally add your micro adjustments until you have at least 27 that you follow automatically during a week.

If you have further tricks please share in the comment below.

If you have a medical issue with weigth management please consult your doctor or a psychologist for advice.

A very good resource to read is:
The Automatic Diet by Charles Platkin

Further Reading:
The Magic Systemic Diet


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