The other day my daughter didn’t go to bed until 3 am next morning. I asked her if she watched the movie that she rented, she said yes sheepishly. I once told her, “You stay late at night only if you have work to do. Do not burn midnigh oil just to have some fun time, especially during weekday.” She knew it. I asked her if she felt a bit guilty when she was watching at night. She said yes.
I told her it was a good thing that she still felt guilty. It would be awful if she doesn’t. Then I told her, “If you feel guilty doing something, you’d better stop doing it, because you know you should not do it.”
This sense of guilt is our inner voice of self-check when nobody is watching. The voice comes from our years of upbringing and socialization which tells us what is the right thing to do. It’s better listening to this voice.
When your child makes mistakes, you as the parent should let him know where he did wrong and how to be better next time. But the timing of your criticism is critical to ensure your criticism is constructive and positive. Always have in mind the well-being of the child.
If you truly love your child, DO NOT criticize him —
1. in public
2. when the child is already full of regret for what he has done
3. before the child goes to bed
4. at meal time
5. while the child is having a good time
6. when the child is crying
7. when the child is sick
These rules go for anyone, not just for children.
This is a translation from a Chinese site. I am glad that both of my children do not so far show any of these signs. Still, I post them here as prophylaxis.
Here’s a quote on emotional quotient, “Emotional Quotient is the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. In the business environment, Emotional Quotient is important because it helps you leverage your awareness of emotions for effectiveness in the workplace.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
Here are the signs of an EQ loser.
(1) Unable to put yourself in other’s shoes. Unable to empathize. Doesn’t care how other people feel.
(2) Like to raise himself up in public by belittling others.
(3) Must have the last word in argument.
(4) Dominated or preoccupied with negative mood or thought
(5) Only care about self-expression, paying no attention to how others react to what he expresses. They are anything but active listeners.
(6) Knowingly ask question that you know the answer with the intention of showing off your smartness. Deliberately poke people where it hurts most.
(7) Over-concern about how others think about him even if other people do not in the least care about him, like not even noticing his existence.
(8) Make judgment about other people’s life and lifestyle.
(9) Put on the most respectful mask in front of strangers while throwing the most nasty temper at those closest to him.
I know time and tide wait for no man and people have to do something even when they are at a low ebb. They cannot wait for their peak creative moments to be productive because time is marching on regardless.
The first part of this year is quickly rushing by. For this year I have decided not to look for a change of job any more. I am trying to find something else more meaningful to fill my time.
The plan is I will quit the job and engage full time in whatever I have found. Well, so far, I have not been successful.
Because my day job has long become irrelevant to my personal agenda, I have tried to squeeze as much time as possible for myself during the day, reading, thinking, finding and injecting meanings, and enjoying what I have.
I will certainly work harder to create something, even though I don’t know if I will be able to do something different in the months to come for this year. In fact, I am more motivated when I think of the end of year, the time when my son comes back home for holiday. I am more motivated because I want to do something for them, something they are proud of.
I rented the Breaking Bad dvd from our local library and started watching a few episodes with my daughter yesterday, 5/30/2015.
The show features the transformation of Walter White, an ordinary not-well-off high school chemistry teacher, into a notorious crystallized methamphetamine cooker. He finds himself having a late stage lung cancer and a wife pregnant with their daughter. And worst of all, he is in desperate need of money for both situations. To be sure, he is a smart one, with an advanced level of chemical know-how. Upon seeing how much money he could make in drug business, he decided to partner with his former student to cook high quality methamphetamine.
A 50-year-old teacher who knows right from wrong yet deliberately engages in illegal activity and even commits murder. A law-abiding citizen won’t make enough money for his family if he doesn’t break the law. A respectful high school teacher cannot afford cancer treatment. These situations make for a rather thought-provoking show.
The more I think about it, the more I see Walter as a victim rather than a criminal of the society that denies him decent healthcare when he is sick, that leaves him poor after he has dedicated his life to science and teaching. It is a shame that society has pushed a decent high school science teacher down this road.
Recently, my daughter and I rented from RedBox four movies. We watched them together during the weekend.
1. Birdman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, black comedy, 2014
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron, Science fiction film/Thriller, 2015
3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
4. Mortdecai, action comedy, 2015.
I told my daughter movie Unbroken was a touching one, though the plot is too simple, US soldiers survived nearly 50 days on the sea and POW camp in Japan during World War II. The ending is so predicable, that is, no matter how bad the situation seems, you are sure that soldier, the main character will survive in the end, unbroken spiritually though broken physically.
As viewers or readers, we demand a good ending for good people and a bad one for the bad people. Otherwise we are not happy. Call it cathartic function of art. Interesting.
This year’s Mother’s Day came and went. I sent to a young relative of mine a video praising the unselfish love of mothers. He told me he already talked to his mother.
Mother’s day is once a year, but mother’s worries are 365 days per year. Very often people don’t realize this until they themselves become parents. I am no exception myself. This is not to blame them for not realizing this. This only states that fact that it takes certain years and experience to become mature and understanding.
I went to Beijing on 4/16/2015 and back on 5/4, Monday morning around 2 AM, then back to office at 7 that morning. It’s been three days since I got back. As always, I still feel tired and weak now.
I didn’t sleep well yesterday. In fact, I went to bed around 10 PM and was still awake around 2 AM this morning. Something kept me awake until I couldn’t hold up. I was thinking about doing this or that, in backyard, on the computer, at the office, with my daughter, my research paper, etc. The more I piled up to my task list, harder it was for me to fall asleep. You can imagine how exhausted I was at office today.
Yes, there are plenty of things that I have in mind, that I can’t wait to get my hand into. Here’s part of my to-do list.
1. Clean the house for my daughter’s homecoming on 5/12.
2. Make appointments with eye doctor and the dentist for my daughter.
3. See Chad to open an annuity account
4. Clean the newly grown weeds in my backyard. If possible, plant some vegetables
5. Pay property tax which is soon due.
6. Get ready seriously for a research paper, plan to finish it before the end of June.
7. Go to library to check some books
8. Resume exercises and yoga.
9. Get ready the book for my daughter — change your brain before 25.
10. Keep looking for meaningful things to do so that I can retire this year.
This is the last weekend before my trip home on 4/16/2015. And this is the only weekend when I don’t face any deadline. That is, I have finished sending out whatever needs to be sent, like all the tax return forms, federal, states, for myself and for my daughter, and her scholarship application.
This morning I checked for some incoming bills. The property tax payment is due on May 11, which is after I get back. I thought I might make the payment just to get it over. But when I checked bank balance and the scheduled credit card payments. Wow, unless I sell some stocks now, I’d better wait till next pay check which is mid April. Well, forget it now.
I went out for a long morning walk before breakfast, stopped at Walmart grocery store to get some fruit. After breakfast, I went to our local library to return some books, from there went to a store to get a gift bag and other stuff. A friend’s daughter is getting married on 4/25 this month when I am out of town. I got the gift ready even if I cannot go.
After getting back, I did some house cleaning. It is already 4 pm now. Tired after that.
Yesterday when I talked with my son over the phone, I shared with him a sense of urgency as the so-called new year is rushing by. The spring semester is ending next month. With that comes summer break. After summer, the fall brings us closer to the end of the year.
Oh my God, the thought makes me so anxious, more so as I remember the same feeling that I had last year and the year before. I didn’t want to share my anxiety with my son, but I could tell he felt it as I spoke out my thought.
There’s so much that we want to do but so little time! I wish my son could get more done while enjoying life as it rushes by rapidly before our very eyes.
This afternoon I went to a dancing class with a friend of mine given at a Chinese church. It was a trial lesson. Oh boy, it was a real challenge when I had to coordinate arms and legs and follow the beat of the music. In fact I thought to myself, it’s too much to me. I was not going to this class any more.
Back home, I was exhausted, mind and body. After a little while, I thought it actually a good challenge. I need it. I need to constantly challenge myself to do something different. I must believe old dogs can learn new tricks!
Yes, definitely I will go back to the dancing class after I get back from China.
The past few days have been unseasonably hot, especially when I drove back home around 3:30 in the afternoon. The summer-like weather always reminds me of some lazy summers in the distant past. It always links to some good times that I had either during summer break when I was young or with my children. It seems summer time means no school, no teacher, etc.
When I was at Bowling Green, Ohio, working on my dissertation or in Fort Wayne, Indiana or in McLean, Virginia, I always spent the summer with my children, sometimes even going back to China for the whole summer. I used to think that people should not work in summer. We all should have long summer break.
It seems like the most wonderful time that I had was always in summer. The hot days always bring back my memories of these summer carefree days. And the memories of the long gone past often make me sad and depressed. I must make conscientious effort to keep myself cheerful by focusing my thought on the pleasant things.
Yesterday I had a long Skype chat with my daughter, during which I mentioned to her the books that I read recently. Of course, I recommended to her The Casual Vacancy.
I told her the book was a bit depressing. The more you think about it, the more so. It seems the only good person, the champion for the underprivileged in the novel, Barry Fairbrother, died at the beginning of the novel and no one carries on his cause after his death. Krystal Weedon, the 16-year-old girl whom Barry tried to raise out of her disadvantaged milieu, in the end died with her 3-year-old brother whom she loved dearly, the only touching love in the novel.
My daughter asked why Rowling wrote this depressing book. I told her it was an eye-opening book, very realistic. She should read it, even if it is depressing.
I finished reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, a 2012 novel this weekend.
The novel begins with the death of Councillor Barry Fairbrother and ends with the funeral of a 16-year-old and her 3-year-old brother, a rather depressing way to start and end a book! The novel depicts two totally different worlds in today’s England: one that of middle class neighborhood, secure and affluent but not so full of love, the other ghetto-like place plagued by drug addicts, prostitution, and rape, but filled with a touching love of a sister toward her baby brother, which is the only genuine love in the novel. Bless them for not having as many gun violence as in the U.S.
The novel also pinpoints the vital part that the government can play in changing the life of ghetto people. It reminds me of Dickens’ novels and some inner city poor neighborhoods here in the U.S. Their living is so precarious that many are not able to live to adulthood as in the death of the 16- and 3-year-old, children of a drug addict.
Another theme is the dysfunctional relationship between parents and their teenage children in middle class families: Andrew Price vs his parents; Fats Wall vs. his parents; Sukhvinder vs. her parents;
The conflicts between these teenagers and their parents reach to the point that the teenagers hack individually the Parish Council online forum site and post rather malicious attacks against their own parents, all in the name of The_Ghost_Of_Barry_Fairbrother, resulting in one parent losing his job, another suffering heart attack, another becoming less normal. I wish many parents can read this novel and at least learn that there are unpleasant consequences for being abusive and disrespectful.
I must say the book is rather depressing. Still, it is an eye-opening must-read on many levels. I knew it would be a good one from Harry Potter’s writer.
3/28/2015, Saturday morning.
I went out as soon as I got up and drank a cup of water. It was rather cold today. I made sure I wore enough coat when I went out. I also carried a backpack with house key, cellphone, purse, a bottle of drink in case I was hungry and felt weak on the way, something to read on the way in case my mp3 player being dead, and a IRS refund check.
I walked to the Capital Federal Savings at the corner of 95th street and Nall. It’s less than 5 miles round walk. I felt it a long stretch but not that terrible and not tired after I got back.
After breakfast, I sat down to make a to-do list for the day:
1) Send out our Kansas tax return
2) Complete online my Missouri tax return
3) Complete online my daughter’s Massachusetts state tax return
4) Complete my daughter’s financial aid application
5) Practice ukelele
6) Write something about The Casual Vacancy novel that I have been reading this week, though not done yet. This is an interesting topic. This is something I’d like to do at least once a week.
My daughter is in Boston right now. I hope she can do something special today with her friends. Good thing it is Friday. Here’s a custom-made one for her.
I hope I could give her a huge hug and whatever she needs on her birthday, but she is so far away from Kansas. I can only call her and wish her the best.
Love you always. Happy birthday!
We have meetings everyday this week, except Monday. I told my colleague how I dislike this strongly. She simply laughed.
Today, my colleague and I drove to Fairway to attend a site initiation visit meeting from the sponsor, which took nearly the whole morning. I felt tired after that and would like a nap, but of course I couldn’t.
Tomorrow I will have to attend one at Westwood for the so-called CTO Research Coordinator Monthly Meeting. On Thursday, I will go to Overland Park site for another monthly research meeting. Friday will be the CTO Monthly Staff Meeting.
The point is I feel totally unrelated when I am at these meetings. I really don’t care. I really don’t want to spend my time living out other people’s dream. They are unrelated to my agenda. I sit there with an obvious unconcerned look and a truly absent mind throughout the meetings.
After sustaining the perverted, sociopath, criminals, and the disgusting trappings of sadomasochism in Fifty Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, In Cold Blood, and ‘People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo’, I decided to give myself a wholesome break and turned to Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark written in 1915, as I remember fondly one of my favorite books, Cather’s My Antonia and really miss both the book and that kind of people.
But guess what? I ended up with a bit disappointment. Because I have been pre-conditioned to too many dark turns of events, I was somehow expecting all the time something evil cropping up or lurking somewhere, but no evil found; like when the young Thea Kronborg went to Dr. Archie’s office in the evening to make a call to a patient, like when she went to Chicago alone at that tender age, a country girl in big city, like when she was alone with Fred Ottenburg, as if the married Ottenburg was surely going to ruin her. I feel something like an anticlimax coming down when nothing of that kind happened. People are so nice and kind that they almost seem unreal. I am too down to earth to accept fairy-tale ending like this.
The plot is remarkably simple, Thea Kronborg, an artistically gifted girl from a religious Sweden stock in Colorado, is determined to develop her artistic potential, regardless of whatever obstacles, venturing out alone as a teenager to Chicago, New York, then to Germany, and eventually becomes an acclaimed opera singer in NYC metropolitan opera.
At some point, I was truly impressed by her dogged determination, her strong will, her steadfastness, like the first generation of immigrants. I thought it was a must read for my children. Here’s an example of “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Then I change my mind.
In the end, Dr. Archie, who went to New York to watch her perform, said to her “I’m afraid you don’t have enough personal life, outside your work, Thea.” This is what I was thinking toward the end. With that, I am not sure if she is truly happy, even with her tremendous success. Perhaps she is, according to her definition.
Similar to the protagonist in Cather’s My Antonia, Thea Kronborg, uprooted herself from where she grows up, is inextricably connected to her birth place. And, no matter how far she moves away and for how long, she constantly experiences an aching longing for the past she left behind, the one that exists only in her memory, Cather’s constant theme of nostalgia among people who are like Thea Kronborg, leaving behind a past but still keep it in their dream. This may be part of the appeal to me.
As Thea quotes Wagner, “Art is only a way of remembering youth. And the older we grow the more precious it seems to us, and the more richly we can present that memory…”
Still a beautiful one…
My son and his friends are in France right now for his birthday. I am so happy for him. Here’s a custom-made happy birthday picture to him.
I am so grateful and feel heavenly blessed for having such a great son.
I love you. Happy birthday!
Early this morning we drove to the airport to send another adult for the annual China trip. The flight was 6:30 AM, but I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep.
When I got back from the airport, it was only 6:30, too early to take a walk. So I checked wechat and found Jack Ma’s speech in English before audience like Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. I thought I would take a peek, then go out for a walk, but I couldn’t stop myself as I started watching. I felt a bit dazzled by his powerful speech. I will share this with my son.
After the video, I hurriedly went outside for my morning walk. It was 9 AM after I got back. I knew I got a lot to do today, though I’d rather go to a bookstore and stay there for the rest of the day.
Here’s my to-do list for the day:
(1) Write something on this site, as my children’s birthdays are approaching.
(2) Complete my daughter’s 2014 tax return.
(3) Complete 2014 state tax return for us.
(4) Complete 2014 Missouri tax return for myself since I work there and live in KS.
(5) Go to costco and other grocery store.
(6) Write a review on the novel that I just read, The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, written in 1915.
(7) Practice ukulele for at least 40 minutes.
Of course, sadly to say, no bookstore today. Maybe tomorrow.
My son called today, telling me that he is leaving for Europe this Friday, 3/13/15, with his girlfriend and three other friends, totally 5 of them. It’s a 10-day trip. He will have his birthday in Europe this year. So delighted to hear from him!
Wish him a fun, safe trip!
Today is the last day of the second month of the new year. To be honest, I have not adhered to my new year resolution so far. I keep finding excuses for myself.
First, I told myself I would start after my daughter left for school. After she left on 1/11/2015, I started getting the room ready for the arrival of two young relatives from China. They would arrive on 1/25.
Then, while they were here, I told myself I would start after they left. On the early morning of 2/14, the two relatives for Los Angeles.
After they left, the other adult in the house came down with cold and cough. Plus, I felt tired and needed time to recover. Plus, I thought I would file tax return first.
Last weekend, I planned to work on our tax return. This weekend I tried to do the same. I thought I could do the tax return by myself without having to buy the commercial software. I tried and became frustrated. In the end I decided to simply buy Turbo Tax Deluxe 2014 Fed + State.
I should have bought this two weeks ago! I should always seek ways to save time instead of money. Now I feel more frustrated and anxious for not getting anything done while seeing two months passing by…
I went for my first interview of the year on 1/6/2015, Compliance and Monitoring Specialist position. No news so far, which means a gone case. I should not feel too bad about this lost one, even though being rejected is always a bad moment to endure. Yes, I don’t like the idea of being rejected. I like rejecting others, not been rejected by others.
After all, taking this job means (1) driving around the town to all the five clinics — Lee’s Summit in the east, airport up north, and of course far west clinic, and much more. It is almost dreadful when I think of all the driving, the stress, the risk associated with it. I always find it hard to focus on driving for a long time. (2) it will keep me super busy, leaving zero free second for what I enjoy doing, like what I am doing now, thinking and writing. (3) I have to glue my eyes to the computer all the time verifying data like monitoring job, which means havoc and long term damage to my aged vision. I used to take pity on those monitors for their boring and eye-ruining work.
I almost hate this job even before taking it. The most thing I like about this job is its title. Well, vanity plays a role, I should say.
For now, I want to remind myself of this: your work or the office provided by your employer is at best the platform for something bigger than a mere paycheck, something of your personal agenda. You define what your personal agenda is. You must have something of your own all the time. You can never build your happiness on the unreliable whim/mood/like/dislike of others. This is also the message that I want to share with my children.
You are your own savior. Remember the song The International?
“No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver”
I wrote the following to my son in September 2007. This is actually part of the original letter.
Make efforts to keep in mind the following in life.
(1) Independence — learn to think independently; eye on your goal not to be sidetracked by outside influence, nor cave in to popularity.
(2) A healthy lifestyle which includes love of outdoor activities and a good eating
(3) Time management. The only thing that we are given equally in life is time. Watch out for time-thieves. Practice beating deadline by setting one manageable task per day for yourself and must get it done on that day.
(4) Music is vitally indispensable in life. You have learned both violin and piano. Make an effort to practice one of them.
(5) Keep your promise. Keep your commitment. This is the only sure way to build trust and respect.
(6) Take blame and say sorry when you know you should. A great man is not one who is error-free but one who has the courage to admit his wrong and move on.
(7) Life is beautiful if you can live this way. Take time to enjoy the beauty of nature, of people you go out with. Value all the relationships that you ever build up. They make your life richer and happier.
(8) Stick to your principles and to what you believe even under great pressure from
above and forces around you.
(9) Keep a reading list. Make a point of reading at least a few books in a year.
(10) Take care of your soul — the soul devoid of petty selfishness, the soul of
dedication, of devotion and sincerity. After all, it is the mind that gives rise to a beautiful dream and deed. Life has some transcendental value. Have a goal larger than yourself, reach out and make a difference so that other people might lead a better life because of you.
Ask not how much you get for your time, ask how much value you add in this time. Always try to make your presence felt in a positive way.
Fling yourself to a good cause and you will find no obstacles that you cannot surmount and no suffering that you cannot endure. Identify and hold fast to a good cause that you believe worthy of your dedication, a good cause like saving the earth, feeding the hungry, education for all, protecting the endangered, sustain life on earth, finding a cure, etc. Make sincere and consistent efforts to explore the way to donate, to give and to maximize your contribution to this cause.
Since I wrote something about New Year Resolutions, some friends asked if I still write stuff like this, as if we were too old for that trick. I told them, “I do. Every year.” Here’s mine for this year. Good things never retire with age.
1. For brain health: Gain a rudimentary mastery of a new musical instrument–ukulele, one song per month, practice at least one hour per day
2. For finance, start an Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) trading account in the first month
3. Professionally, publish at least one article in a professional journal
4. Time management, limit online social media time to at most one hour per day on the average to keep in touch with friends.
5. Physically, (a) walk at least 45 minutes every day when weather permits. (b) strength training for at least 30 minutes every day
NOTE: Use timer on number 1 and 4
I cannot guarantee that I will stick to the end my resolutions. But I think it always beneficial to have some goal and some expectations of yourself over time. So far, I am on track for my goal. I will constantly come back to this throughout the year just to check myself. When nobody watches me, I have to rely on self-watching.
Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn. I have finished reading this novel today. I must say it is a good book. It makes readers utterly sick while going through the story that is fully packed with lies and dishonesty, but the readers feel happy and satisfied in the end.
The husband cheats the wife when he has an affair with a 23-year-old girl. The wife feels the need to revenge by disappearing from her home and framing the husband as the murderer. In the end, the husband has his due share of punishment, the wife returns home triumphantly by killing another man and goes scot free.
The novel ends with a final unexpected stroke when the wife saves herself and secures the marriage by getting herself pregnant with the much wanted son through fertility clinic.
While the readers might not like either the husband or the wife, they cannot help admiring the wife for her ingenuity and resourcefulness in plotting out her revenge. And it does make readers feel great when the cheating husband suffers in the process.
The parts I don’t like in the wife is she doesn’t seem to have a life of her own. Her husband seems to be the center of her life, which makes her so vulnerable. It is like gambling, when she places her happiness and her life in one basket, her husband in her case, and when her husband cheats her, her whole life collaps. This should be a lesson for all women. Another thing about her is she is not nice to others sometimes, especially to her parents.
Another one, of course, for men is NEVER underestimate the brain power of women.
PS. Actually, the thing that was rather annoying at first is the language that is full of F word, too many of them at first. But the strange thing is by the end of the novel I kind of got used to seeing them, as if it were no big deal. I wish they were not that many in the book.
As I was cleaning last year’s calendar, I bumped into this — “Are you able to actually jump over habits? Are you able to actually work on a bigger scale than you normally think and feel that things seems to be impossible are actually possible?”
I forgot where I got it, but I thought it fit the occasion perfectly, when I was working on New Year Resolution with my daughter and also on my own.
Indeed, jumping over habits is what we need if we want to carry out our resolution for this brand new year.
Here’s another one on New Year Resolution. Here are parts of the article.
Even though “People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, … people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason is “that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions,” which is also called “false hope syndrome.”
“Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain).”
Finally, the author offers some tips for keeping resolutions.
1. Focus on one resolution, rather several and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be;
2. Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day;
3. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once;
4. Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report;
5. Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed;
6. Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits;
7. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
8. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.
Happy New Year to all who visit this site today!
I sent my son to the airport yesterday, the New Year’s Eve and today sent my sister’s son back to Houston. Good days passed so fast. It seems really like yesterday when we went to the airport to fetch them back, now to airport again. Of course, I miss them. But I don’t have any complaints, as long as they are good and healthy, no matter where they are.
Now back to what I have in mind during this time of the year: New Year Resolution — something I have never missed so far.
There are many writings on this topic lately. Here’s one. I am surprised to learn that 45 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions every year, and out of them only “8 percent stick with them.” The author offers 5 tips to stick with your resolutions:
(1) FOCUS on one goal at a time
(2) Know what makes it important
(3) Make it tangible avoid sweeping statements
(4) Think BIG but act small (this is an example of sweeping statement)
(5) Never go “off purpose” two days in a row
Ever since my son left for college, it has become the tradition in our household here, that is, the highest point in a year in our family is when children come back home. This moment has come this year.
It starts with my sister’s son’s arrival yesterday, followed by my son’s homecoming today, and my daughter’s tomorrow.
I will stay home with all of them till after New Year. My son will leave at the end of the year. The other boy on New Year. My daughter will stay till the mid January. I am immensely happy.
What a heavenly delight!
Since I spend one-third of my day at office, something happens here keeps coming back, against my will. Americans are famous for being polite on the surface. You almost never see direct confrontations or any exchange of harsh words. No, they make sure they behave perfectly.
But wait to hear what people say behind curtain. I hear that a lot before I moved to another office in April 2014. Once one colleague at one clinic, a so-called well-bred one, commented on another colleague up north office, “Who does she think she is! She is nothing. Absolutely nothing! She doesn’t have any education, no education at all.”
I felt both shocked and speechless when I heard her making this comment, especially when I remember how friendly she was in front of that colleague.
Where Good Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson. I started reading this book on 12/15/2014, Monday morning.
“The argument of this book is that a series of shared properties and patterns recur again and again in unusually fertile environments. I have distilled them down into seven patterns, each one occupying a separate chapter. The more we embrace these patterns–in our private work habits and hobbies, ino ur office environments, in the design of new software tools–the better we will be at tapping our extraordinary capacity for innovative thinking”
“In the language of complexity theory, these patterns of innovation and creativity are fractal: they reappear in recognizable form as you zoom in and out, from molecule to neuron to pixel to sidewalk. Whether you are looking at the original innovations if carbib0based life, or the explosion of new software tools on the Web, the same shapes keep turning up. When life gets creative, it has a tendency to gravitate toward certain recurring patterns, whether those patterns are emergent and self-organizing, or whether they are deliberately crafted by human agents.”
I remember someone at work said this “We don’t come here to make friends.”
True. However, since we spend one-third of our days or our lives here, friends can make a difference in terms of how happy we are at work or what mood we are in here. You don’t want your life spent in a hostile environment, which is detrimental to your health.
Hence, for your precious health, it is your responsibility to make your working environment as less hostile as possible, even if making friends is not an option.
Always remember your happiness is in your hand. Take initiative instead of blaming others.
When my manager learned of my applying for the IIT protocol writer and CM Specialist positions, she called last Thursday to make sure that I knew I needed to use my vacation hours for these internal job interviews, which I had known.
I don’t really want her to know that I am applying for these positions, because I know she doesn’t think highly of me. She might think… Well, I don’t even care what she or others think of me. It’s totally irrelevant to me.
Life is too short to waste on that sort of stuff. Go your own way and let others talk their talks.
Life is a one way journey, forward only.
Make each step a solid one.
Make everyday count.
If you waste your time, don’t even regret.
Because regret itself is a waste of time.
There have been plenty of writings on Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Lately I kept thinking of one event in the play, that is, the age-old feud between the two families, Capulet and Montague. They have fought for so long with so many lives lost that they even don’t remember why they fought in the first place. I think of the term that was used here, bickering. The more I think about it, the more I find it extremely absurd and irrational. While the adult world is full of deep-rooted hatred and prejudices, the children’s world is one of love and many great possibilities. The questions that bother me is, what is it that turn children into prejudiced adults? what is it good for people to grow up losing their once childhood purity? How can we grow up and still keep that child in our heart? That is, how can adults be as pure and prejudice-free as the children?
10 quotes from Shakespeare:
(1) Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
(2) If music be the food of love, play on.
(3) Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
(4) There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
(5) A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
(6) If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we no die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?
(7) Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.
(8) We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
(9) Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
(10) It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
These words are posted underneath a shelf against the wall that only one person can see it, that is me, the person sitting by my desk everyday.
(1) Use time to create value and to add joy to life.
(2) No matter what happens, never lose your sense of purpose.
(3) Life is too short to live other people’s dream.
(4) Write something every day. Never underestimate the effect of your contribution.
(5) Be a friend to all who know you.
I didn’t post them all together. In fact, it took me a year to post them all here, though I forgot what occasions that had prompted me to post each of them. It is funny that I go to my office every day, thinking of the day when I don’t have to.
Yesterday, the person who would come to this office starting next year came over. For some reason, I don’t have a good feeling about the new arrival. But it is what it is. While I can’t control my environment, I can adopt a positive attitude, yes, by going back to these postings.
We had meeting at 7 AM this morning. Any time we have meeting the next day, I always try to go to bed early so that I won’t either oversleep the next morning or appear tired at the meeting. But the more I try to sleep early, the more I fail to. Like last night, I went to bed before 10 PM and stayed awake after midnight.
One colleague of mine seems rather awkward dealing with me. That person just doesn’t seem natural when it comes to me. I don’t know why. A guilty feeling for what she has done behind my back or something else that I am not aware of. She is keenly aware of my strong background, my potential and my publications.
The only thing I know is she acts like she has not noticed me every time I come in and keeps on talking with others or appears busy doing something, when she does not behave this way with other people. I mean she would interrupt her chat and rush out a quick “Hi” when others come in. If it happened once, I would not have noticed it as I am such a careless person. But it is this way almost every time. Strangely funny how adults behave so awkward and lacking of self-confidence. Today it came too obvious not to be noticed. She blurted out a “Good morning, [a person’s name]” to that person who came in about the same time as I did. Why ignores me? No idea.
Ha-ha! Do I care? Absolutely not. Life moves on, with or without it, ’cause life is too important to be wasted on trivial like this. I thought it too funny that I have to share it here. All kinds of birds in the forest indeed!
This week I have been waiting for words from the hiring manager. She told me a decision would be made during the first week of December. I began to lose hope as the week went by. I knew I would be contacted the first of the week if I got the offer. If not, I might hear from the hiring manager later this week.
Indeed, I got an email from the hiring manager today saying an offer was made and was accepted yesterday. Well, in fact, it came not as a surprise. I was sort of expecting something on this line. In fact, I was prepared for this.
Still the day seemed suddenly dark after I read the email around 1 PM today. I was at west today. The busy and somehow unpleasant experience there with the monitor enhanced the gloomy mood that I carried for the rest of the day.
I guess no matter how much I have prepared, I still need some time to get over the disappointment of the rejection. I still need to remind myself “With or without an offer, I remain the same.”
I am going to reply to the hiring manager with a very positive note. Because being positive is the only way out.
Yesterday, 11/18/2014, I went to have a job interview for a protocol manager position. The interview was set up for 30 minutes. Before we knew it, it was after 4 PM.
We had a good time chatting about our experiences as PhD. candidate. Both of us are PhD holders. Both had some circumstances which made it more difficult for us to achieve our goals. Eventually both have earned the degree within the given time frame.
It has been a long time since I talked to someone who has been there and who truly appreciates what I have been through in order to get that degree.
She told me it was going to be very competitive as there were three very strong internal candidates. I am not very hopeful that I would get this position. Still, I have enjoyed the process.
My daughter called tonight asking about the interview. I want to tell her that, for me, with or without the offer, I remain unchanged. I am still on the track with my plan.
This is narrated in this short video clip.
“Each journey requires an understanding of the essential:
what do we bring,
what do we leave behind,
what helped us soar yesterday,
that might hold us back today,
choices written and re-written,
changing by the second,
not that simple, external like destination.
These are the decisions of soul, character and essence. Because it’s not where we are going that defines us truly. It’s how we go there. From the first and the last of ….that is the epics of our lives.
And if we are lucky, there are special characters in this epic, co-conspirators that we share the spoilers of our great tasks, the partner of today, tomorrow and onward into the days beyond, for our best, our worst, … and the knowledge that together, we make each trip an adventure and enjoy every moment of the journey.”
I went to Leawood library today, trying to get some books on Python so that I could be of some help if my daughter needs. There I met another Chinese couple, who have a rather unique immigrant experience.
Her first name is Wei, the micro wei, last name being the same as my son’s girlfriend. They came to the United States with their 8-year-old daughter. Now the girl is 31 years old, working in Washington, DC as a lawyer.
There are many places that mark them as rather unique. First, they live in an apartment complex around 89 street and Troost in Kansas City, MO, where many Chinese, for the cheap rent, used to live when they first came to this area. Now they are the only Chinese family living in that area. In fact, they have been living in that place since they came here 23 years ago!
When looking back, I have moved from Texas to Ohio, to Indiana, to Virginia, then finally to Kansas, and I plan to move again after my daughter settles somewhere in a few years. I can’t imagine living in one place for so long, especially in this adopted land. Of course, people are different.
Secondly, Wei who has been here for so long can hardly speak English. How could this be? Well, I am surprised but passing no judgment. She told me how her husband switched major from physics to computer because he couldn’t find a job with physics, how he was laid off twice, last one in 2008, and now works at Cerner, and how he still was worried about his job security. She also said they only supported their daughter’s college expenses and let the girl go through law school with loan and other means.
Thirdly, she said her husband came to this library to attend a Qinhua alumnus gathering. A guy from Qinhua stays in that kind of apartment for 23 years and was struggling to keep his job. They look like near retirement age.
For a moment I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t able to link Qinghua graduate to what I am seeing here. To me, people who can get into Qinghua are very brilliant, like those people here who can get into Princeton or Harvard. I expect they will soar and fly high.
I can’t forget the encounter so I share it here. I know there are something wrong with my way of thinking.
I will translate it into English later.
Tim recommended me to Lai on 7/18/2014 when I was thinking of getting into cancer registry, a job where you can work remotely. I would like to be able to work from home.
I was told she had lots of grant and would be in much better position to get me in. I still remember SML, currently teaching at the department of Preventive Medicine & Public Health and the director of… Cancer Registry. She asked me for my resume on 7/28/2014, which I sent immediately and was waiting with great hope because of what I perceived as some “advantages.” She has my published articles and knows what I am doing right now.
Three months passed and I have not heard from her ever since when I thought she was like me in many aspects and would do much better than this.
Here are the similarities between us:
(1) Both of us are Chinese
(2) Both of us are first generation immigrants
(3) Both of us are way over-educated than our peers — she got her BA in economics in 1979, two master degrees from Ohio in Accounting and from Pennsylvania in statistics, and finally a PhD from Pittsburgh in epidemiology in 1992. Wow, a rare thing among Americans.
(4) Both of us, as the first generation immigrants, have undergone decades of struggle in our adopted land to gain a foot stand here.
She has been there and knows all the hardships involved in getting to where she is now. She knows my potentials and my skills, yet she chooses to let me pass doing nothing when she is in the position to do something.
People are different. So I cannot expect kindness from everybody. This I know. To say I am not disappointed is a lie. I will remember Sue— so that I will try to be different from her–helping out whenever I can. I will never forget where I come from.
Last Friday, 10/24/2014, a position was announced at our monthly meeting. I was excited over the news. I wrote to someone saying that I would like to write to the hiring manager to express my interest, even though the job has not been posted. I was advised not to appear too eager and that I should wait till it was posted online. So I didn’t do anything until this morning when I decided to go ahead and do something. I don’t think appearing eager can have any impact on the hiring. This is what I wrote to the hiring manager.
I have been thinking of writing to you since last Friday’s CTO meeting that announced the opening of a protocol writer position. I am greatly interested in this position and would like to know more about the responsibilities and challenges involved.
If nothing ever comes out of it, well, my bad luck and I am not going to lose sleep on this bet. Life just moves on and so am I.
Man proposes, God disposes. I have to take initiative to make things happen. Nobody can help but myself. It is already the end of October. Hopefully, there are some changes before year ends. Only two months left for this year!
I recorded this piece for my children. Don’t wait. Take initiative.
This is what happened yesterday after work when I was at the gas station on Holmes a little north of highway 435. An elderly lady with her car hood popped up was moving around and her car parked at one spot where people normally fill the gas. She kept popping up and down the car hood. I thought there might be something wrong with her car, that is, her car would not start or something on that line.
I drove in front of her car to take up another spot. While I was filling the gas to my highlander, I heard her talking over the phone to her child, loudly.
This is her story. She was obviously handicapped when she moved around. Her face reveals a life of hardships, miseries, poor health, anything you want to avoid. Her husband was admitted into hospice, dying of AIDS. She spent all the money on her husband’s medical expenses. Now she ran out of money after she spent all on her car. She didn’t even have money to buy grocery. There was a toddler in her car, whom she also kept talking to. She was talking and crying, and kept going to grab car wash paper towel for her nose and eyes. She is a total picture of sadness and dejection, reminding me of Hugo’s novel les misérables. I kept thinking “How could anyone fall into this wretched state of living in today’s world?”
I knew I must do something before I drove away from her. I reached out to my purse and gave her a $20 bill that I normally kept for emergency. She grabbed my hand to express her gratitude. Honestly, her hands looked very unclean.
As I drove away, I saw her starting her car and was leaving, too. My heart was too full to think of anything. Now when I looked back, it was obvious that there was nothing wrong with her car. Most likely she was there begging for help.
There should be many government agencies that take care of people like them. At least I know there are many food banks serving them who cannot put food on the table. What else does she need if food is not the issue? Drug or what? I don’t want to think about it. I can’t imagine people can mess up their lives so miserably.
My heart sank when I went there again,
When, a year ago, my daughter insisted,
“Mommy, get yourself a new clothes.”
“Me? No,” I told her,
“Old and ugly needs no new clothes.”
“Uh-uh,” she protested,
“You are most beautiful when you smile.”
A daughter’s bias took me back 20 years, when
My sisters asked my son, 5-year-old,
“Who’s the most beautiful of us three?”
“My mom,” he answered without looking.
“I mean it,” my daughter kept saying,
“I wish I had your smile. I do.”
Now, she reminds me from her Boston dorm.
“My sweetest daughter, I will, because
Forever, your word will warm up my heart.
PS. when I shared it with a friend of mine, he said, “Your daughter is right, smile is beauty… You know it for long, but when it comes from your daughter’s voice, it tastes better.”
On 9/14/2014, one day after my birthday, I thought I would spoil myself a little bit by spending an afternoon at Barnes & Noble’ bookstore. I often visited this place when my daughter was home. This was the first time that I went there since she left. A strange feeling.
Among others, I read this one “The Power of Reflection: Insight into our own thoughts, or metacognition, is key to high achievement in all domains,” by Stephen M. Fleming, on Scientific American Mind 25, Sept-Oct 2014. Here are the main ideas.
1. Metacognition is the ability to make judgments about our own thoughts—for example, assessing whether a memory is accurate or a decision is appropriate.
2. People vary in the accuracy of their metacognition. Certain psychological disorders, including dementia and schizophrenia, can impair this ability.
3. Several strategies appear to shore up metacognition, including meditation and taking breaks while studying to reflect on one’s own learning.
Reading Time magazine, 9/22/2014 issue, “10 Questions, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.”
Q: If you are stuck picking up dry cleaning, what’s the best way to ask your boss to take you more seriously?
A: Say, “I love this company. I love this job. I am willing to do anything, because I am that kind of person. I do want to make sure I am progressing and taking on things that are going to challenge me more. Can you walk me through the things I need to demonstrate so I can earn more responsibility?”
Q: Why do you think women are so afraid of making mistakes?
A: When men make mistakes, they don’t internalize it as their fault, so it doesn’t hurt them as much. Because gender makes us overestimate male performance and underestimate female performance, we have more tolerance for men’s mistakes.
Q: How should college women balance exploring different interests with focusing on career goals?
A: It can be either, but you have to be explicit. Maybe you want to use college to …. But don’t let life happen– make it happen.
In other word, no matter what your goals are, do something to make it happen.
When you are disturbed by something or somebody, focus on yourself, instead of on someone or something that disturbs you in the first place.
When you find yourself helplessly locked in a seemingly hard-to-change undesirable lifestyle, the best tactic is pray. Pray is to focus, to trust, and to surrounder yourself. It forces you to look inward and connects you to your inner self.
I wrote it in my notebook a long long ago, so long that I even forgot when I ever copied it. I must love it at that time when I copied it. My handwriting was still neat and clear. Here’s the whole poem. Hope you like this one.
“Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.
The little poem will sing to you
the little picture bring to you
a dozen dreams to dance to you
at night when you’re in bed.
Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.”
I am not busy at office, which is a good thing. Because I will have more time for myself to do what I enjoy.
I used to enjoy helping people at other sites, but I have changed my mind after I learned from the manager that one colleague of mine complained of the mistakes that I made while helping her, saying that I had created more work for her than not doing it at all. This is of course a very unfair judgment. I made no attempt to argue with her. Peace, this is all I want.
I finally figure out this simple division of labor under the sun: your job, other people’s job, and God’s job.
The world would be a wonderful place if you only focus on your job and let others and God take care of theirs.
This should be nothing but common sense to all men. The fact it is posted online in Chinese and passed around as a popular post emphasizes the severe and sad lack of it. I translate it to English for my son and will forward it to him someday.
A man says to his wife.
“I am thankful to you, because
— you agree to be part of my life. You might not be the perfect one in my life, but you are the only one.
— You agree to allow me to be part of your life. I might not be the perfect one in your life, but I will try my best.
— You love me. You might not be the first one I fell in love, but you are the last and the best one.
— You allow me to love you. I might not be the first one you fell in love, but I am confident that I am the last and the most loved one.
— your way of thinking, even if you think differently from I.
— your expression of love, even though it might not be the best one.
— your family, even though I value my family more than do yours.
— your privacy, even though I want to know more than you want to share.
— your friends, even though I don’t know them.
— your hobbies and interests, even if I don’t enjoy them.
Continue note sharing.
I know there are many ways of attacking a problem. Here’s something that I wrote years ago. I think they still help.
1) Don’t underestimate
2) Don’t exaggerate
3) Don’t wait
4) Don’t aggravate
5) Do illuminate and describe what it is
6) Do motivate
7) Do set date for keeping problem under control
8) Do communicate
9) Do insulate and isolate
10) Do Divide and conquer
“To every man his chance, to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining golden opportunity–to every man the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him–this, seeker, is the promise of America.”
from The Promise of America, Thomas Wolfe
Continue my note sharing.
Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind. — William James
A man is what he thinks about all day long. — Emerson
The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.” –Diderot
There will never be another now–I’ll make the most of today.
There will never be another me–I’ll make the most of myself.
For winners, life consists not in getting more but in being more and knowing more.
Winners do not get their security by controlling others. They do not set themselves up to lose.
There is never a scarcity of opportunity; there is a scarcity of resolution and determination to realize your dream.
I have many responsibilities, but I don’t worry about them. I plan, I work hard, but I don’t get anxious about results.
Children who grow up without hearing no from their parents will be terribly brittle when they have to take no from life itself–and worse, they will have a hard time saying no to themselves.
The very best way to change someone is to begin with your own example. You behave in the way you expect others to behave.
“To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons” or cook dinners or clean their bathroom. — Marilyn French
Continue from sharing my notes.
Have a self you respect.
Turn disappointments into strength.
Enjoy life’s process, not just life’s rewards.
Marx’s favorite maxim — “Nothing human is alien to me.”
His favorite motto — “One must doubt of everything.”
Become involved in something bigger than yourself.
Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade…Never think of yourself as failing; never doubt the reality of the mental image…always picture success, no matter how badly things are.
If your mind tells you that you are tired, the body mechanism, the nerves, and the muscles accept the facts. If your mind is intensely interested, you can keep on at an activity indefinitely… By supplying attitudes of faith to the mind, it can increase energy.
Do what you love; Focus on what you do. But be detached from the results while you are doing it.
According to your faith in yourself, according to your faith in your job…this far will you get and no further.
The greatest factor in any undertaking is one’s belief about it.
Keep calm. Tension blocks the flow of thinking power. Your brain cannot operate efficiently under stress.
On 9/9/2014, I told my daughter that “I must do something that will make both of you proud of.” Yes, I am still trying to be a good mom to both of them.
More from my previous reading notes,
“Man ultimately decides for himself! And in the end, education must be education toward the ability to decide.” — Viktor Frankle
Achieving autonomy is the ultimate goal in transactional analysis. Being autonomous means being self-governing, determining one’s own destiny, taking responsibility for one’s own actions and feelings, and throwing off patterns that are irrelevant and inappropriate to living in the here and now.”
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear of newer and richer experiences.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.” — Henry Adams
Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.” — T.W. Higginson
“The man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentration, attention, energetic volition and self-denial in unnecessary things, will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.” — William James
“Most men fail, not through lack of education, but from the lack of dogged determination, from lack of dauntless will.” — O.S. Marden
The secret of Victor Hugo is his stupendous energy and self-confidence, enabling him to hurl the whole of himself into whatever he has on hand.
No doubt his egoism was monstrous, but a man who thought less well of himself could not have risen,…to heights at which he seems to be expressing.
We build up the feeling of insecurity or security by how we think.
Practice thinking confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what…
“They conquer who believe they can.” — Emerson
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I felt excited when I read this paragraph during my youth years. Today, the paragraph still serves as a reminder. That is, I should not waste time, my precious life, on trivial in life.
“Man’s dearest possession is life, and it is given to him but once. He must live so as to feel no torturing regrets for years without purpose, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, when dying, he can say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world…” — Karl Marx
“Man’s mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.” –O.W. Holmes