Today's kanji is 水 which is the kanji for “water”. It's has both an on reading and a kun reading:
Kun: mizu, mizu-
Not surprisingly the Japanese word for “water” is “mizu”.
This is a great chance to teach you a couple things, how to type in Japanese (it's pretty easy) and, why patterns are great.
First let's do the typing. You want to go to your control panel and find the languages and regions option. It's pretty easy to find in vista, it might be a little hidden in XP but it's there I promise you. Once on that screen you want to selected the “keyboards and languages” tab and choose “change keyboard”. Choose add and then find “Japanese” and check both the “Japanese box” and the “Microsoft IME” box and hit apply. Either at the top of your screen or on you task bar you should now see a little box that says “EN”. You can use your mouse to select what input you'd like to use, but there are also keyboard short cuts.
Alt + shift will switch between English and Japanese input. It defaults to hiragana and kanji.
Once in Japanese Alt + Caps Lock will change it to katakana. To get back to hiragana you have to hold Alt and double tap shift, no idea why MS set it up this way.
Then to type in Japanese you just type as if you were typing in romanji. So for the above example you would just type “mizu” his space and out pops 水. Sometimes you don't always get the kanji you want though. For instance if you want to type “tsuki” for “moon” what you get at first is つき, which is “tsuki” in kana. However there is a kanji for moon, 月. In these cases once you type in “tsuki” and hit space if you don't get the kanji you want, hit space again and it will pull up a drop down menu.
Now onto the kanji itself. According to Heisig a lot of the kanji have compressed forms when they make up elements of more complicated kanji. For instance, 水 becomes three little drops on the left side of kanji like in 湖 (they are drops, even if you don't think they look like drops), the kanji for lake. Conveniently this is a pattern and many water related kanji have these drops. For instance, marsh 沼, swim 泳ぐ, open sea, 沖, or 灘 (apparently there are two kanji that can mean open sea), and even juice or soup 汁. Of course, not every water related kanji has those three drops (stream 川), and those three drops are not always indicative of water (to stay overnight 泊まる) but those patterns where certain elements show up repeatedly in common ways certainly help speed the process of learning the kanji along.