A few things that you can do to boost your energy


This is what I just read today from Harvard Medical School newsletter, just as I was getting tired and feeling the need for re-charging.

Want more energy? Here’s what really helps
We all get tired from time to time, but fatigue tends to become more common as we get older. Assuming your doctor has ruled out medical causes for persistent fatigue, there are a few basic steps you can take to feel more energetic day to day.

(1) Pace yourself. Instead of burning though all your battery life in two hours, spread it out between morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities — with rest and meals in between.

(2) Take a walk or a nap. A short power nap can restore energy, but if you struggle to get enough sleep at night, napping can make insomnia worse. Rather than take a siesta, get moving. Get up and walk around the block, or just move around. If you are not an insomniac, though, enjoy that 20- to 30-minute power nap.

(3) Skip most supplements. There is no evidence that energy-boosting or “anti-aging” supplements work. In particular:
– DHEA. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone that’s naturally produced by the adrenal glands. There is absolutely no evidence that that DHEA provides any benefit. And you especially shouldn’t be buying it from ads in the back of a magazine, because you don’t know what’s in it.
– Iron. Iron is only beneficial if you are clearly deficient, which a doctor can check with a blood test. Unless you are low in iron, you don’t need to take it, and getting too much iron can be harmful.
– B vitamins. It is true that B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12) help the body convert food into the form of energy that cells can burn, but it’s a myth that taking in more B vitamins supercharges your cells.

(4) Eat long-lasting fuel. Your body burns through sugars and highly processed carbohydrates, like white bread, white rice, or prepared bakery goods, more rapidly than protein and the carbohydrates in whole grains. Instead, try low-fat yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts, raisins, and honey. Your body will take in the carb-fiber-protein mix more gradually. To really sustain yourself over the course of the day, eat a breakfast and a lunch that include complex carbohydrates and protein.

(5) Don’t skip meals. It’s better to evenly space your meals out so your body gets the nourishment it needs all through the day.



College “should be preparation for a thoughtful, well-examined life”


I read this article not long ago, “Ivy League miseducation,” by By Anthony Zurcher. Here’s part of it.

“In a lengthy article in the latest issue of the New Republic, former Yale associate professor (and Columbia graduate) William Deresiewicz says that the prestigious private colleges dotting the US, particularly in the Northeast, are creating a class of entitled ‘zombies’.

The author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to Meaningful Life, writes:

Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.’

‘The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them.’ William Deresiewicz The New Republic.

Ivy League colleges and their ilk, says Deresiewicz, have created an education-industrial complex that processes the children of privilege from cradle to diploma and beyond.

‘The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them,’ he writes. ‘The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk.’

College shouldn’t be this way, Deresiewicz writes. Instead of four years of career training, it should be preparation for a thoughtful, well-examined life.”

It is a very good article, much worth reading and thinking…



More on strength training… how to get more out of it


Focus on form, not weight.
Good form means aligning your body correctly and moving smoothly through an exercise. Poor form can cause injuries and hinder strength gains because you aren’t isolating muscles properly. Start with very light weights because I want them to get their alignment and form right. “It’s good to start off using light to moderate weight when learning an exercise routine.” Concentrate on performing slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group. You isolate a muscle group by holding your body in the position specified for each exercise while consciously contracting and releasing certain muscles.

Tempo, tempo. Control is important.
Tempo helps you stay in control and avoid undercutting gains through relying on momentum. And sometimes switching speed — for example, lowering for three counts and lifting for one count instead of taking two counts for each — can enhance power.

Breathe.
Blood pressure rises if you hold your breath while performing strength exercises. Exhale as you work against gravity (when you’re lifting, pushing, or pulling); inhale as you relax.

Challenge your muscles.
Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two reps while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, challenge your muscles again by adding weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds at a time for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs); adding a set to your workout (up to three sets per exercise); or working out additional days per week (as long as you rest each muscle group for 48 hours between strength workouts). If you add weight, remember that you should still be able to do all the reps with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two reps.

Practice regularly.
A complete upper- and lower-body strength workout two or three times a week is ideal.

Give muscles time off.
Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. Muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always allow at least 48 hours between sessions for muscles to recover. You can always do “split sessions” — for example, you might do upper body on Monday, lower body on Tuesday, upper body on Wednesday, lower body on Thursday, etc.

From Harvard medical school newsletter.



Reading on how to write well, part 2


You want to engage your audience, not completely overwhelm them, … The more you write, the more you will learn to walk this fine line between effective display and use of your writerly knowledge and simply showing off–something that is likely to turn off your audience and not help you in achieving your ultimate goal.

The trick, as a writer, is to know for whom you’re writing and what it is you’re trying to convey.

One of the most important factors in good writing is the writer’s understanding of the nature of his or her audience. Perhaps even more important is understanding what particular information you need or want to convey to your audience…you have to know what you want to say, how to say it, and why you want to say it.

When you write, you construct not only an authorial persona, but you also construct an audience.

When you write essay, you want to make your opening as effective and engaging as possible so that people will keep reading.



Reading on how to write well, part 1


Here are some notes that I took on how to write well.

Great writers are always great readers.

The elements of successful writing are insightful reading, careful research, and rigorous analytical thinking. Successful writing requires us to develop active-analytical reading strategies as opposed to passive-receptive reading habits.

Active, insightful reading empowers us to more effectively evaluate and interpret the meaning of what we read.

Writing, when it’s done well, is never just words on a page–good writing invites interaction. The reader engages with the words, interacts with the language and ideas of the author.

Moving beyond the initial reaction (like or dislike) can allow you to appreciate even writing that you might not really like. It can help you recognize the writer’s skill, appreciate the effort the writer made, and admire the emotions he or she is able to make you feel.

A useful thing to remember when you are composing your own writing is that …your audience can’t immediately interact with you in the present moment, so above all you should strive for clarity. You should anticipate questions or moments of confusion, and you should consider the self-image you’re conveying to your audience. How are they going to interpret you and your personality based on what you’ve written?



Two keys to sharp brain in old age


Here’s a free advice from Harvard Medical School newsletter. Trust me, such freebies are getting less and less. Enjoy!

“Two ways to stay mentally sharp
Regular physical activity helps keep your heart, lungs, and muscles in shape and can stave off the effects of aging. In much the same way, exercising your brain can help keep your mind sharp and your memory intact. Here are two ways to activate your brain.

Keep busy and engaged
The MacArthur Foundation Study on Successful Aging, a long-term study of aging in America, found that education level was the strongest predictor of mental capacity as people aged. The more education, the more likely an individual was to maintain his or her memory and thinking skills. Other research has shown that people who held jobs that involved complex work, such as speaking to, instructing, or negotiating with others, had a lower risk of memory loss (dementia) than people whose jobs were less intellectually demanding.

It probably isn’t the years of formal education or the type of occupation itself that benefits memory. Intellectual enrichment and learning stimulate the brain to make more connections. The more connections, the more resilient the brain. That’s how a habit of learning and engaging in mentally challenging activities — like learning a new language or craft — can help keep the brain in shape.

Stay connected
Establishing and maintaining close ties with others is another way to maintain mental skills and memory. There are several ways that social engagement may do this. Social interaction and mentally engaging activities often go hand in hand (think volunteering or tutoring schoolkids). Social relationships can also provide support during stressful times, reducing the damaging effects that stress can have on the brain.

Social support can come from relationships with family members, friends, relatives, or caregivers, as well as from a religious community or other organized group.

Meaningful, socially engaging activities may prove especially helpful. In a study conducted with the Baltimore Experience Corps, volunteers were assigned to either a waitlist (control group) or a group that helped elementary school children during class and library time. Early results suggested that participants who remained engaged in the program for many months improved their executive function and memory.”



Not that many ADHDs, try behavior management


Is it ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or behavior problem? Parents, try behavior management before heading to the doctor’s office. Medicine may seem an easy solution, but good discipline will last longer.

Behavior management/self-management:
(1) Daily routine, having boundaries and consistency in expectation
(2) Positive reinforcement for the effort made not just for the result
(3) Clear rules, instructions, and expectations
(4) Consistent consequences to unwanted behavior



Happiness is not defined by the size of your house…


Happiness is...
1. Happiness is not defined by the size of your house but by the sweetness of the laughter in the house.
2. It is not demonstrated by the luxury car that you drive but by the fact that you drive home safely.
3. Your abundant savings in the bank won’t bring you happiness. Instead, your freedom to do what you please every day is what makes you happy.
4. It is not the beauty but the beautiful smile on the face of your loved one that makes you happy.
5. Being in a high position won’t make you happy. Being praised as a good person wherever you go makes you happy.
6. Being free from illness and disaster makes you happier than simply being well-fed and well-clothed.
7. Happy is he who receives encouragement when in defeat, not he who is loudly applauded in victory.
8. Happiness does not come from the too-often heard sweet talks. Instead, it is when you are sad and weeping, someone tells you, “That’s okay. I am here.”



A family man met his death at the hand of a high-priced call girl


I read this piece of news on 7/9 about a Google exec’s overdose death on yacht.

The 26-year-old high-priced call girl Alix Tichelman and 51-year-old google executive Forrest Hayes “met on SeekingArrangement.com, which according to the website is, for sugar daddies and sugar babies seeking mutually beneficial relationships and arrangements.”

They had met a few times before their Nov. 26 encounter on Hayes’ 50-foot yacht, Escape, at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.”

The “SANTA CRUZ Police have arrested the call girl from Georgia who is suspected of injecting heroin into a Santa Cruz tech executive on his yacht and then fleeing when he overdosed.

“Tichelman, who allegedly worked as a call girl, had an ‘ongoing prostitution relationship’ with Hayes, who was married and a father of five, police said.”

“Hayes, originally from Dearborn, Michigan, worked in the auto industry early in his career. He lived in Santa Cruz for years and worked at technology giants such as Sun Microsystems, Apple and Google, according to his friends and family. He is survived by his wife of 17 years and his five children.

“Forrest will be remembered above all as a loving husband and father. More than anything else he enjoyed spending time with his family at home and on his boat,” according to a January obituary that his family wrote for the Sentinel. “His brilliant mind, contagious smile and warm embrace will be missed and cherished in memories by his friends and family.”

Family man–Hayes’ co-workers and friends described him as intelligent, a family man with a great sense of humor with a penchant for impulse buys.”

This is a big joke or what — a loving husband and father, a family man with 5 children messed up with a 26-year-old high-priced call girl and lost his life? Would he be still alive if he were a truly family man? Of course, he would. Someone got to come up with a new definition of a family man , that is the one with “ongoing prostitution relationship” to convince me that he was one of them.

I know I shouldn’t be too harsh to a “dear departed.” Still, truth be told, he got himself in this ending. A lesson for all is, no matter how rich and successful you are, be good and don’t do what Forrest Hayes had done to himself and to his family. What a shameful ending!



A happy family is the key to one’s health


A happy family is the key to ones health and happiness
I will translate this later.



Remembering my father, July 11, 1987


I searched flowers for my father. There were so many of them that I would like to gather them all for him, which was, of course, not possible. Here are some of them. I know he would like them all. It is 27 years since his departure.

To my father 07112014



People die of what? Anger?


people die of what
Again, I will translate this later, that is, when I have time.



The highest level of …


The highest level

I will translate it later…



Labor surplus in the US, good or bad news for the coming generation?


I read this article on 7/2/14, “U.S. Will Have Something Other Countries Want: A Big Labor Surplus.” This is from the article.

“Over the next 15 years, the U.S. will have a problem that plenty of other countries would love to have: too many workers for the jobs available. That’s according to a report released today by the Boston Consulting Group.

Idle labor isn’t a good thing, especially for the unemployed workers. But you could argue that it beats the alternative, which is having so few workers that jobs go unfilled and economic output falls short of potential. That’s the problem that most other major nations, from Germany to Brazil to South Korea, will face between now and 2030, according to the BCG report.

A relatively high birthrate and liberal immigration policy give the U.S. an advantage in labor supply.”

It seems like a bad thing when you have many people competing for a limited number of jobs in the market. Still, I would say there is always market for really skilled people, people with needed expertise.

Yes, the key to the problem is to be above the average. When you rise above the average, you will face less competition and more opportunities. Go ahead and meet the challenge!



Find a second, grab a book and read


I like this article, “The One Thing Successful People Constantly Do.” Believe it or not, here’s part of the article.

The most successful business people read.

They read way beyond their business field. They consume poetry, fiction, science, philosophy, science fiction, science fantasy, religion, psychology and then some. Without these references, you are doomed to lose prestige when your product knowledge is no longer at issue.

Consider whether you have an education deficit, which is more of a liability than you might think. Consider what subject areas would expand your point of view, like anthropology, fine arts, sociology, physical science, biology, mathematics, linguistics, political science and the whole host of topics that enliven the world with different perspectives.

You can be an autodidact, a MOOC-addict or at least a casual reader in these other fields. However, nothing comes close to being engaged by a teacher or mentor who is dedicated to challenging you on a new subject.

Successful people actively widen or deepen the shallow areas of their education. They never stop learning — really learning, not just apprising themselves of a topic with a Buzzfeed style list.

Read and learn to get a richer framework for life, and life brings you greater riches.”

Now, find a second, grab a book and read.



Re-read the article “Build a career worth having”


This article was posted on 8/5/2013, by Nathaniel Koloc, on Harvard Business Review blog site. When I recently talked about this article with another adult in the house, I said we actually belonged to the great majority of people who, as the article describes, “wait until they are unhappy, look around for opportunities that seem better than their current job, apply for a few, cross their fingers, and take the best option that they can get. Then, they toil away until they are unhappy again, and the cycle repeats.”

The author offers this as the solution to “this dismal cycle.” — “Let go of the idea that careers are linear. These days, they are much more like a field of stepping stones that extends in all directions. Each stone is a job or project that is available to you, and you can move in any direction that you like. The trick is simply to move to stones that take you closer and closer to what is meaningful to you. There is no single path — but rather, an infinite number of options that will lead to the sweet spot of fulfillment.”

Here are his advice:
1. See your career as a series of stepping stones, not a linear trajectory.
2. Seek legacy, mastery, and freedom — in that order.
Legacy. A higher purpose, a mission, a cause. This means knowing that in some way — large or small — the world will be a better place after you’ve done your work.
Mastery. This refers to the art of getting better and better at skills and talents that you enjoy using, to the extent that they become intertwined with your identity. Picture a Jedi, or a Samurai, or a master blacksmith.
Freedom. The ability to choose who you work with, what projects you work on, where and when you work each day, and getting paid enough to responsibly support the lifestyle that you want.

3. Treat your career like a grand experiment.
“The faster and cheaper that you’re able to validate your career hypotheses, the sooner you’ll find fulfillment. You don’t have to take a job in a new industry to realize it’s not for you. You can learn a ton about potential lines of work from reading online, having conversations, taking on side projects, and volunteering.”



Basic mindfulness meditation exercise


From Harvard Medical School newsletter, 6/14/2014, “Ways to become ‘mindful’”

Learning to focus the mind can be a powerful antidote to the stresses and strains of our on-the-go lives. The ability to pay attention to what you’re experiencing from moment to moment — without drifting into thoughts of the past or concerns about the future, or getting caught up in opinions about what is going on — is called mindfulness. This basic mindfulness meditation exercise is easy to learn and practice.

1. Sit on a straight-backed chair, or cross-legged on the floor.
2. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
3. Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and ideas.
4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it as good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you practice it, the more benefits you usually experience.
A less formal approach can also help you stay in the present and fully engage in your life. You can practice mindfulness at any time or during any task. Here’s how:

1. Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body.
2. Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air to move downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully. Then breathe out through your mouth. Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation.
3. Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation.
4. Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.
5. When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.



Great advice to both seniors and non-senior


write to my 70 self
Write to 70-year-old me,” this was written by someone who is not 70 years old yet.
1. Don’t desire for material possession
2. No more endless nagging
3. Don’t live on your past memory
4. Don’t be opinionated
5. Don’t be complaining
6. Don’t regret
7. Do what you want



One way to help you on the right track


You can define your own tracks. I define it as my personal agenda or goals I have in mind. It is not easy to be on the track all the time, especially when you are at work and exposed to all kinds of events, positive or negative, happy or unhappy. They can, to certain degree, grab your attention or make you lose focus.

One way for me to not lose focus is to have reminders, like pictures of my children, or images of people having special meanings to me.

You can find your own ways to keep yourself on the track, regardless what happens outside. The key is you must have some mechanisms to block outside forces, if you find yourself struggling to keep your mind away from trivial.

Always remember the most important things in life.



Why one-up guys always try to one up others


Don’t be a one-up guy because a person who always tries to one up others is not happy either in a group or with others or in his family. This is the definition from urban dictionary on one-up guy

“A guy who always has to one-up everything anyone says or does. If you say you ran a 5 minute mile, he ran a 4 minute mile. If you say you went swimming this weekend, he’ll tell you he’s a certified lifeguard and swims every weekend. If you say you made coffee this morning, one-up guy will tell you that he grew, harvested, roasted, ground, and brewed his coffee. Usually the one-up explanations are long-winded, boring, and self-serving. Most of the one-up explanations are probably lies.
“e.g. I was telling him about my ski trip to Taos. One-up guy over there spent 20 minutes talking about how he used to be a ski instructor in Taos. I hate one-up guy.”

The bottom line is this:
(1) A one up guy tries to show he is better than or superior over others.
(2) Why? Because a one up guy is insecure. He always feels the need to impress others with his superiority and the need to make people like him or accept him as being the best.
(3) The fact is nobody is stupid and nobody likes one up guy. Consequently, the more one tries to impress others, the more people find him annoying, see through him, dislike him, and the more miserable this one up guy is.
(4) For your own happiness, don’t even try to one up anyone but yourself. The ultimate source of your happiness is this: you impress yourself with your own achievements.

Get it? Yeah, get your happiness from within, not from outside!



Keys to a child’s success in life


key factors to a childs success
I will translate it into English later.

This is what I wrote to my children today,
“Today is the first of the second half of the year. New Year seems like yesterday, but we are already on the way to finish off this year! Cheer up.”



Be a friend to all who know you


Last Friday, a colleague of mine at my previous office wrote to me telling me that she had handed in her resignation and next week would be her last week. She is going back to school full-time now. I am so glad for her. I told her to keep in touch and update me of her progress. Below is what I wrote to her.

“This is the word that I am going to give you and this is what I have tried to follow, no matter where I go. It’s not easy, but trust me this is the only way for people to feel good:
Be a friend to all who know you.
Your friend.”



5 things to avoid in life


5 things to avoid in life



My son is my inspiration


When I went to the central library to fetch my daughter back home on 6/26, I related to her what happened to me that day. Of course, she told me to forget it as it’s not worth wasting my time. Indeed, there are so many important things waiting for me.

I know the event is too trivial to even think about. But in reality, I did find myself struggling to keep it out of my mind. I told my daughter, “I have the pictures of both of you in my office.”

Every time I encounter unpleasant things like this, I look at my son’s picture and say to myself, “My son would think this too trivial to even let it enter his radar of attention. He would not allow such trivial to upset him, not for a second.” He has so many big things on his mind.

When I look at his sunny picture, my mind clears up and I become cheerful once again. Immediately I turn back to what is important to me — my personal agenda.

My son is my inspiration. Thank you, my beloved son.



This is what often happens at my office


Below is exactly what happened yesterday, 6/26/2014, at 10:13 AM. Another colleague of mine wrote to my boss about me having a problem… when in fact she and I don’t even work at the same office and when she knows nothing about my work and how I work. For some unspeakable reason, she just cannot stop stirring up trouble like saying something bad about me behind my back to my boss.

I shouldn’t be bothered by her trouble-making act. Yet, to say I am not upset is a total lie. The day was at least partially blackened out by this. She did this thing to me more than once. I screamed out inside me: Why can’t you leave me alone? Why do you hate me so much that you have to stir up trouble like this? I have no answer. A colleague of mine said some people are addicted to sabotage acts like this. I am just unfortunate to become her target.

In medical documentation, there is a saying, “If it’s not documented, it’s not happened.” I share it here so that I can put it behind me and focus on what is important to me.

From: (my boss)
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:13 AM
To: (monitor)
Cc: VF, another of my colleagues and me
Subject: something very important
Importance: High

(Monitor’s name),

Thank you for your communication with my research team.

(My boss)

—–Original Message—–
From: VF (Yes, that’s the name of the person who does things like this, God knows how many times a day)
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:00 AM
To: (my boss)
Subject: something very important

(my boss),

I believe there is a problem with how (MY NAME here) is handling the issue noted below. I’m not sure what she is communicating regarding cost of mailing [NOTE: it is none of your business to know what I communicate with others] or ….

Thought you should know.

VF



Tips on safe strength training


Harvard Medical School often sends emails for me to buy their articles. On rare occasions, they give away something free, like this one –”seven tips can keep your strength training safe and effective.” Here are the tips which I’d like to share with my readers.

1. Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down.

2. Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group.

3. Working at the right tempo helps you stay in control rather than compromise strength gains through momentum. For example, count to three while lowering a weight, hold, then count to three while raising it to the starting position.

4. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.

5. Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.

6. Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
7. Give muscles time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session.



Envision yourself five years down the road


There is a new colleague in our research team. She is even younger than my son. She is supposed to drive among five different locations to do her job. I can see she is already a bit stressed after two weeks down in the clinics. I am not sure if she still has time to think of anything else other than her work. Still, I share with her my advice to my children.

I often encourage my children to imagine where they are five years down the road. If you want to achieve a career leap, follow this.
1. Have short-term and long-term goals
2. Have a clear road map to reach your goals
3. Have an open mind to new things and opportunities. Let nothing go by without your close scrutiny
4. Keep constant self-pep talk as morale booster and also as reminder not to forget your goal. Nothing can come true without your believing it
5. Learn from your failures. Move on regardless of all the setbacks.



10 Keys to your happiness, part II


This is a rough translation of last post.

(1) Be in good health
(2) Have a realistic goal
(3) Have self-respect
(4) Have self-control over one’s emotion
(5) Be optimistic
(6) Be generous and forgiving towards others
(7) Have a circle of friends
(8) Get along well with others, being able to integrate in a team
(9) Have a challenging job and proper pastime
(10) Belong to a team or be aware of the group you belong to

No. 6, 7, 8, and 10 talk about our relationship with others. As social beings, our ability to be comfortable with others is essential to our happiness.



10 keys to your happiness


10 keys to happiness
I am at my office right now. Hang on there. I am going to translate this in my next post.



These unpleasant tips on getting the job you want


This is from Money magazine, June 2014 issue, “Get the Line on Unlisted Jobs.” It gives some tips for job hunters. Without these tips, “the job seeker who waits to be tapped on the shoulder might be waiting awhile.” I truly hope my children won’t feel the need to use any of them, that is, they have skills strong enough to get whatever job they desire without having to even think of them.

(1) Talk to the top recruiters. Higher-up HR reps tend to be gate-keepers for higher-level positions, so identify recruiters with sway at the businesses you admire. Write to them or send your resume… “They may not look at it, but they’ll remember your name…” I wish my children have better ways to make themselves known to others.

(2) Make a friend on the inside. Since upper-level jobs are often revealed only internally, it can pay to establish relationships with peers at companies on your wish list. Use LinkedIn to find a second-degree connection then request an introduction from your mutual pal. The trick is how not to make people feel like they are being used.

(3) Impress the C-suite crowd. For you to be identified as a candidate, the companies need to see that you are a known commodity.” “To capture the attention of those with hire power, you must steal the spotlight. This sounds uncomfortable to me.

(4) Get the boss’s buy-in. Not me.

How I dislike these tips, even though deep inside me I know they are useful. In fact, the dreadful fact that one is put in the situation in which one has to resort to these tips.



Pueblo Indian Prayer, love it, though a bit sad


Pueblo Indian Prayer

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,
Even if I’ve gone away from you.



Do we need to be told again that dream needs actions?


This message is as old as I can remember. That is, dreams need actions, plenty of them, for them to materialize. Dream without actions remain forever a dream.

I can’t believe we still need to be told of this ancient message today and even get celebrity like Shonda Rhimes, on the list of TIME magazine’s 100 people who help shape the world, to repeat it at Dartmouth’s graduation speech.

I don’t feel comfortable reading these words of hers — “Dreams Are for Losers…” I am wondering what Martin Luther King, Jr. would think with his “I have a dream” speech. And don’t forget my favorite piece by Langston Hughes,

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

For me, I still hold my dreams and work steadily toward whatever I fancy to hold.



Revisit New Year Resolution as we approach mid June


As I turned the pages of 2014 calendar, it dawned on me that the mid month and also mid year is approaching quickly, faster than I’d prepare. At this point, I thought of my New Year Resolution and realized that I have somehow moved away from my resolution, not totally though.

At the beginning of the year, I was very determined to move on in my life to another post, to leave the work place that I have been with since 2005. It is rather dreadful to see myself in the same position for a decade. In fact, I still don’t like my work place, more so now than before. But after a few attempts of job hunting and a few interviews, I became disheartened, because the process has been exhaustive and completely fruitless and time-wasting.

I don’t want to keep looking any more. This does not mean I will stop making efforts. Nor does it mean I will give up my personal agenda, totally dedicating myself to my work. That will never happen.

I am glad I revisit my New Year Resolution now as I need to revise it in order to channel my energy and time toward some new goals for the rest of this year.



Help your youngsters cultivate these great habits


I read this piece during the weekend of 6/7/14. I like it so much that I shared it with some of my friends today when I went back to the office.

I told them “I just shared this article with my daughter. I told her ‘You are not twenty-somethings yet, but they are good habits to start having.’ Not sure if she will read it. Still. There is only this much that parents can do with their children. We’ll just do as much as we can while they listen.”

The article “Effective habits to cultivate as enterprising twenty-somethings” lists the following good habits. Below is pretty much a copy of the article.

(1) Read every day
(2) Experiment & launch every week
Get something out the door once every few days. Build and launch, do it quickly while using some intuition to guide you.

(3) Explore your areas of talent
Are the businesses you involve yourself in within your range of passions and talents or are you beating away at something you won’t be able to continue with when things get hard. Working within your element is important not only because you know more about what you’re working on but also because you will feel excited every day to get to work.

(4) Keep your house in order
Stop putting off the small things. Every hour of the day shouldn’t be devoted to business and working. Spend time to clean up the house, keep track of your finances, your relationships and all of those other things you’re building a business for in the first place. If you don’t take care of the little things, they pile up and come back to haunt you, and potentially kill you.

(5) Work out
Exercise, and the lack of, has a huge effect on your health, ability to think clearly and how happy you feel overall. Not to mention, it will improve many other areas of your life… In short, working out will give you the state of mind to stay balanced and clear about what you’re doing.

(6) Save every cent you can
Some day you’ll want to quit your job and work full time on your business. When that happens there is no guarantee you’ll be making mad cash or totally financially stable. Save every cent you can. Set up a few accounts, investments and start throwing money in there every week. This changes your overall outlook on how much you actually need your job and if you can take the risk of pursuing your business full time.

(7) Find more reasons for what you’re doing
Money is a great motivator. But what will that matter if you’re too old or busy to ever enjoy it and explore your life while you’re still fairly young.

My motivator is money as well. However, maybe even more is wanting to travel, be free from a job and enjoy more things while my wife and I are young. Nice cars and big houses don’t need to even be a part of the picture. More than anything, I’m looking for freedom to do what I love while making money and creating value for other people.

(8) Be a strategy builder and problem solver
Just launching random crap without thinking will cause you to run into the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe without learning anything.

The world pays problem solvers everything. Everything we pay into is to solve a need, problem or urge. Problem solvers make life easier and, if they’re smart, get paid for it.

(9) Don’t waste your youth
Maybe another motivator to work hard, get things done right and set yourself up is that twenty years makes a big difference. More importantly, what you do with that time.

My parents are going to retire with almost nothing. A small pension and an outstanding mortgage. How different would things be if they would have saved a little more money for those forty years, gotten better careers and knew what they actually wanted?

Doing these things now saves you a lot of pain later. So many twenty-somethings waste the most critical decade of their lives doing absolutely nothing that they’ll care about five years, months or even weeks from now.

Be smart and work hard.



Good skills, habits or qualities that parents can help their children to develop


In my last post, I have a Chinese version of these skills, habits or qualities that good parenting can help children to develop. I am going to attempt a translation today.

(1) Help children become a good listener. Many people lack of patience today. They either can’t wait to hear out what others have to day or make no effort to understand what other people say.

(2) Help them cultivate a love for reading. Be a diligent reader, that is, seize every moment to read. Be a fast reader and don’t stop at shallow read.

(3) Ability to communicate with anyone at all levels.

(4) Develop a strong written communication skill.

(5) Develop problem solving ability in daily life.

(6) Keep your promise. Mean what you say.

(7) Respect others. Accept responsibilities instead of blaming others when something happens.

(8) Go green. Don’t waste resources.

(9) Influence people around you. Create a positive environment.

(10) Keep an open mind to things that are new to you. Get along well with others.



The best things that parents can leave to their children


I read this one on 6/5/2014 and was eager to share it here. I will try to translate it later.

10 qualities for the children



A very pleasant trip to New York City and Boston


Last Friday, 5/30, three of us went to New York. We left early in the morning and arrived early in the afternoon. We picked up a rental car at the airport, then drove to my son’s apartment at the corner of Park Avenue and 62nd street, to the east of Central Park in Manhattan.

We parked the car in a public parking garage, then walked to my son’s apartment. There we waited till his girlfriend came back from work. Then, five of us drove out of New York to Boston. We stopped overnight at Meriden, CT, Hawthorn Suites, and continued our way the next morning, 5/31, Saturday.

We went to tour Boston College and then walked on Boston busy streets. In the evening, we drove to Northampton, stopped overnight at Hartford, MA. We drove back to New York City Sunday morning, said goodbye to my son and his girlfriend, returned the rental car, took the shuttle bus to the airport. By the time we got back home, it was around 1:30 AM, Monday morning.

What a wonderful weekend!



Holding no opinion on anything? Easy said than done for all of us


“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger

“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.”
— Charlie Munger

“The ability to destroy your ideas rapidly instead of slowly when the occasion is right is one of the most valuable things. You have to work hard on it. Ask yourself what are the arguments on the other side. It’s bad to have an opinion you’re proud of if you can’t state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. This is a great mental discipline.”
— Charlie Munger



Think outside the box, realize and break your mental set


We all tend to have a certain fixed way of thinking, which is often rigid, settled, anchored, or rooted. Call it our established mental set or a mental box. The box is made of our past experience, knowledge, prejudice and almost everything we have learned in the socialization process.

I have heard people say something like “Don’t get into the box in the first place.” I am not sure if you can do it since the mental box is an inalienable part of our growing up experience.

The undesirable thing about this in-box thinking is it prevents us from thinking creatively and successfully. It binds our hands and feet and issues a virtual order on what we can and cannot do. Haven’t you met people who are likely to say “It is impossible” even before they try it? This is the effect of in-box thinking.

The first step to think creatively is to be aware of the mental box that you are in. Once you realize the retriction, try to challenge yourself and see how many different ways you can think on certain issues.



Money, travel, and regret or no regret


Early last Sunday morning, 5/25, a friend of ours and her whole family went on a three-week tour in some European countries. While they have been to Europe many times, our family has never been there once. I felt a bit sad that we were not able to go while both of my children were home with us. The trip really is expensive. Compared to some of the Chinese here, we are relatively less affluent, which is why we have not travelled outside the country as much as some of our friends. I told my son that I felt like a loser, in economical sense. I feel my children have been deprived of a lot of fun in their childhood because of this.

Shortly after I was laid off from Sprint, I had opportunities to go back IT job and maintain my IT salary if I were willing to travel to other places and take on short-term contract positions. But if I did, it would mean leaving the children behind. So I chose to give up these opportunities and stay with them till they are able to be on their own, believing I could always made money but the children needed me for only these few years. I am glad I have made this decision. Still, I feel like finding lame excuses for my financial failure in life.

No matter what happened, I have tried my best to provide a protective and well-guided life to both of my children. When looking back, the only big comfort to me is to see both of them have turned out well-bred and well-educated and are well on their way to a much better life than mine.

I regret not having traveled widely while my children were home with me, but no regret for my past decision.



Read in order to be a better and understanding people


I don’t remember where I read this or who said this. I thought of this while making origami for a colleague of mine today–
The purpose of literature is to realize other people really exist.
That is, through reading we get to know more people, their lives and their experience. With this understanding, we will hopefully become less self-centered and more sympathetic and understanding, and eventually can co-exist peacefully with others. Isn’t that a wonderful thought?



Here are the steps to lower Alzheimer’s risk


I know there is nothing new about this. Still, every time I read something along this line from Harvard Medical School (HMS) newsletter, I feel the urge to share it here. I especially wish my children will pay attention to this as their paternal grandfather was inflicted with senile dementia in his early 70s.

Here are the 5 steps to lower Alzheimer’s risk from HMS:
(1) Maintain a healthy weight. Cut back on calories and increase physical activity if you need to shed some pounds.

(2) Check your waistline. To accurately measure your waistline, use a tape measure around the narrowest portion of your waist (usually at the height of the navel and lowest rib). A National Institutes of Health panel recommends waist measurements of no more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

(3) Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; protein sources such as fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes; plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.

(4) Exercise regularly. This simple step does great things for your body. Regular physical activity helps control weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, biking, rowing), can also help chip away total body fat and abdominal fat over time. Aim for 2 1/2 to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.

(5) Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, ask your doctor whether your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar are within healthy ranges. Exercise, weight loss if needed, and medications (if necessary) can help keep these numbers on target.

Of course, I have to add this last and the most important activity: use your brain daily. Yes, use if you don’t want to lose.



The most peaceful and joyful moments that I once enjoyed


It is Wednesday morning, 5/21/2014. Right now I am sitting in my office, all by myself, with the monitor in the monitor room. Quiet and alone, seemingly peaceful and undisturbed by anything outside. Still, I think of my children, of the time I spent with them when they were little and when they are home. How peaceful and relaxing these moments were. How heavenly happy and joyful I was when I was with them.

Work is not stressful here and people at my new office are nice and friendly. Still, I’d rather spend my time at home with my children. I don’t want to analyze myself and find out why I don’t enjoy myself at work. This is how I feel now.



An ideal family or what a relationship between two should be


This is from a friend of mine. It is all well said, yet I have not seen anything like that from what I observe among my friends and acquaintances. In fact, the opposite is what I know of. Well, this is at least what an ideal family or relationship should be.

(1) The couple should pay attention to the changes in, the strength of and the positive words articulated by each other.
(2) There should be less complaint, less blame-game, less misunderstanding in a family.
(3) Think more of what each other has done. Truly appreciate each other’s strength. Understand each other’s situation. Forgive each other’s weakness.
(4) Words should be often said inside a family:
-Thank you.
-I am sorry I made a mistake.
-I believe you.
-I am proud of you.
-I love you.
(5) The couple should try to have a common life’s goal, environment of living, conversation topic, and friends.
Finally, there is no right or wrong in a family. There is only harmony and lack of harmony. Family is the place where love dominates not reason.



Do something everyday and make it a habit


I read this article “Write Code Every Day” by John Resig before my daughter came back. I was going to share with her after she came back. This is once again written by someone who, apart from his day job, has side project or hobby or something he dreams of pursuing but it is not without a heavy dose of will power to make it happen.

“Last fall, work on my coding side projects came to a head: I wasn’t making adequate progress and I couldn’t find a way to get more done without sacrificing my ability to do effective work at Khan Academy. There were a few major problems with how I was working on my side projects. I was primarily working on them during the weekends and sometimes in the evenings during the week. This is a strategy that does not work well for me, as it turns out. I was burdened with an incredible amount of stress to try and complete as much high quality work as possible during the weekend (and if I was unable to it felt like a failure). This was a problem as there’s no guarantee that every weekend will be free – nor that I’ll want to program all day for two days (removing any chance of relaxation or doing anything fun).

There’s also the issue that a week between working on some code is a long time, it’s very easy to forget what you were working on or what you left off on (even if you keep notes). Not to mention if you miss a weekend you end up with a two week gap as a result. That massive multi-week context switch can be deadly (I’ve had many side projects die due to attention starvation like that).

Inspired by the incredible work that Jennifer Dewalt completed last year, in which she taught herself programming by building 180 web sites in 180 days, I felt compelled to try a similar tactic: working on my side projects every single day.”

Illustration by Steven ResigI decided to set a couple rules for myself:
I must write code every day. I can write docs, or blog posts, or other things but it must be in addition to the code that I write.

It must be useful code. No tweaking indentation, no code re-formatting, and if at all possible no refactoring. (All these things are permitted, but not as the exclusive work of the day.)
All code must be written before midnight.
The code must be Open Source and up on Github.

Some of these rules were arbitrary. The code doesn’t technically need to be written before midnight of the day of but I wanted to avoid staying up too late writing sloppy code. Neither does the code have to be Open Source or up on Github. This just forced me to be more mindful of the code that I was writing (thinking about reusability and deciding to create modules earlier in the process).

Thus far I’ve been very successful, I’m nearing 20 weeks of consecutive work. I wanted to write about it as it’s completely changed how I code and has had a substantial impact upon my life and psyche.
With this in mind a number of interesting things happened as a result of this change in habit:
Minimum viable code. I was forced to write code for no less than 30 minutes a day. (It’s really hard to write meaningful code in less time, especially after remembering where you left off the day before.) Some week days I work a little bit more (usually no more than an hour) and on weekends I’m sometimes able to work a full day.”



Easier said than done, always, even in ancient times


Read this story about Su Dongpo, a famous poet in Song Dynasty. Laugh at yourself first before you laugh at Su. Find someone to translate it for you if you so want to know it. I don’t have time for it now.
easy said than done



How to avoid these stupid things


I dug out this article and was ready to throw it away when something happened lately and that reminded me one of the stupid things mentioned in this article. I am sure I have posted this one before. Still, it doesn’t hurt to post it again just to remind people to avoid them. Here are these stupid things. For details, please go to the original article.

1. Whose Fault it is
2. Celebrity and Sports Gossip
3. Sexual Jealousy
4. Being Right
5. National Politics
6. Trying to Impress Other People
8. Being Offended
9. The Fact that I skipped Number 7 on this list
10. Buying a Bunch of “Nice” Stuff
11. Waiting in line for 36 hours to buy some new product the day it’s released
12. Hiding Your Flaws



We all need to get started everyday


Getting Started Is Everything” by Adam Pash, someone who has a day job and a plan to work on his hobby after work but seldom puts his plan to action.

“Nothing’s better than sinking your teeth into a satisfying after-hours side project—or what I guess most people may just call a hobby. But after 10 hours at work, it’s not always easy to muster the energy to switch off your TV and go to work on your project. The trick I use is simple, self-evident, and it works. Getting started is everything.”

Sound familiar? Yes, like you and me, he takes forever to even get started, finds all kinds of excuses to postpone starting the project he has in mind. Thus, with each passing days, so passed whatever dream that we may initially have, till having no time and energy left for anything but cooking, cleaning and resting. Well, not he, but many people. That’s why I share his article here.



Tricks to cut cooling costs


On May 2014 issue of Money magazine, there is a page on energy savings during hot summer. Here are some tips:

Three habits of the energy efficient:
1) Use the shades to block solar heat.
2) Keep the air flowing by leaving the doors and vents open. Don’t put furniture in front of the vent.
3) Open windows strategically. If it is humid, your system will have to work hard to remove the moisture.

More tips:
1) Clear the condenser by pruning back shrubs and ground covers at least a foot away from your outdoor A/C equipment.
2) Get a checkup: have a technician service your central-air system every year or two.
3) Replace filters, install new filters at least twice a year.
4) Plant a tree on the south or west side of your home.
5) Tighten ducts, hire an energy efficiency contractor to seal and insulate attic ducts.
6) Install ceiling fans.
7) Upgrade, if your A/C is more than 10 years old and you are in a hot summer, replacement will pay for itself quickly.



Put your distractions in another room when you are serious with your work


My daughter came back on 5/9, last Friday evening. Her connection flight from Chicago back to KS was delayed for nearly 4 hours.

We went to upgrade her phone the next day, Saturday morning. She got an iphone5s, the latest model on the market. After we got back home, I went to Walmart to get a protective case for her phone. When I came back, I saw my daughter working on her project. I asked her, “Where’s your phone? I got this case for it.” She said it was in another room. Her brother told her to put any distraction in another room so that she could concentrate better.



Make peace for your dear life. Here’s why


I must share this article, “Frequent arguments with family and friends linked with greater risk of death.” This is a scary alarm as I am sure nobody wants an early death.

The article starts like this “For middle-age adults, frequent arguments with partners, relatives or neighbors may increase the risk of death, according to a new study.”

“After analyzing this data, the researchers concluded that frequent worries or demands created by partners and/or children were linked to a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of death from all causes.

Men were more vulnerable than women to worries and demands from their partners. … men tend to have smaller networks, which may mean that stress in their relationships has a larger impact – but it remains unclear why men are at a higher risk.

Given these findings, researchers concluded that conflict management skills may help curb premature death related to social relationship stressors.”



Notes from reading Original Goodness…


Original Goodness: Strategies for Uncovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources by Eknath Easwaran, 1989. I bought this book in spring of 1992 at Bowling Green State University. I don’t know why I bought it and even read it. There must be a need for this book at that time. Or I must have a strong sense to master the original goodness.

Before my daughter gets back home, of course, I cleaned the house once again, as if I hadn’t done it for a long time. I tried to get rid of some book, this one being one of them. I not only read this book but also left underlines throughout the book. Below are part of what I have underlined.

The book has 229 pages. My original plan is to get rid of the book after I finish taking down the notes. But as I was typing, I changed my mind, at least for now. I plan to keep the book for my children, even after I have taken most of the underlined notes. Let’s see what they will do with it. For now, let’s try to enjoy these reading notes.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts.” p. 9

“Though we are born of human clay, it reminds us, each of us has the latent capacity to reach and grow toward heaven until we shine with the reflected glory of our maker.” p. 10

“… It was as if they [shoppers] had come looking for something to want — something that might fill a nameless need, even if only for a moment…” p. 13

“Making things, buying and selling them, piling them up, repairing them, trying to figure out how to get rid of them permanently: for sensitive people, boredom with this carnival cycle began some time ago. A consumer culture is not the goal of life.” p. 13

“…wealth, possessions, power, and pleasure have never brought lasting satisfaction to any human being. Our needs go too deep to be satisfied by anything that comes and goes. Nothing but spiritual fulfillment can fill the void in our hearts.” p. 14

“…for a person who can think only of himself, someone who explodes when things do not go her way, is fragile, alienated, and very lonely individual. …In the end, it is this driving sense of separateness — I, I, I; my need, my wants, apart from all the rest of life — that is responsible for all the wars in history, all the violence, all the exploitation of other human beings, and even the exploitation of the planet that threatens our future today.” p. 19

“We want to love and to be loved. We want happiness and fulfillment,… We want a place in life, a way of belonging, a sense of purpose, the achievement of worthy goals — whatever it takes; otherwise life is an empty show.” p. 19

“…what we say we believe in is not so important; what matters is what we actually do — and,…what we actually are. ‘As we think in our hearts, so we are.’” p. 23

“…meditation is essentially an interior discipline.” p. 25

Meditation “is the regular, systematic training of attention to turn inward and dwell continuously on a single focus within consciousness, until,… we become so absorbed in the object of our contemplation that while we are meditating, we forget ourselves completely. In that moment, when we may be said to be empty of ourselves, we are utterly full of what we are dwelling on…we become what we meditate on.

“Meditation,…means training the mind: teaching our thoughts to go where we tell them and to obey themselves while they are there…” p. 26

“…when you have this kind of mastery over your attention in everything you do, you have a genius for life itself: unshakable security, clear judgment, deep personal relationships, compassion that no adversity can break down.” p. 26

“…we see not so much with the eyes as with the mind, for it is the mind that arranges and interprets the information of the senses according to its own conditioning.” [I would say head instead of mind] p. 33

“It is in the mind that we experience life, and the mind is never really clear.” ??? p. 37

“…the mind is often compared to a lake, whose waters become clouded with mud when the lake is agitated. Only when the murk of our thoughts, desires, and passions settles does the mind become calm and clear.” [use head instead of mind] p. 39

“We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold. As a man is, so he sees.” p. 40

“Intellectual study cannot be of much help in this transformation. Only meditation, the systematic turning inward of attention, can take us deep into consciousness where the obstacles to a pure heart hide.” p. 43

On humility, “Whenever we get swept away by a selfish urge or a wave of anger, we are in hell; we can almost feel the sulfurous fumes of insecurity and fear. If we get so angry that we can’t sleep, we are overnight guests in hell’s hotel.” p. 53

“Hell is no metaphor and neither is heaven. Hell and heaven are states of consciousness. Doesn’t Jesus say the kingdom of heaven is within? And mental states are real — in fact, in some ways they are even more ‘thing’ than things…if I said something unkind and you couldn’t stop thinking

about it, your resentment might burn for years. It might even aggravate your ulcer.” p. 54

“…when you go on saying ‘I’m a sinner,…’ you’re actually thinking of yourself as a sinner. You expect yourself to do wrong thing. I like to emphasize original goodness: ‘I’m a saint,…” p. 54

“We don’t have to have somebody punish us for doing wrong; we punish ourselves. Sin its own punishment…anger is its own punishment.” p. 54

“…dwelling on yourself is its own punishment. All of us find ourselves a fascinating, satisfying subject to contemplate…until the results begin to accumulate… the person who thinks about himself all the time, who can scarcely think about anything except in connection with his own needs, becomes the most wretched creature on earth. Nothing really goes the way he wants, and that preoccupation with himself that seemed so pleasant and natural becomes a wall that keeps everyone else outside. It’s a lonely, tormented life. Perhaps the most painful irony is that this wretchedness too is just dwelling on oneself. Once a habit is formed, the mind cannot stop, even when it makes us miserable.” p. 55

“All these habits of mind that can make life hell,…can be traced to one central flaw of attention. To call it self-preoccupation comes close: the habit of dwelling on my needs, my desires, my plans, my fears. The more deeply ingrained this pattern of thinking is,…the more we make ourselves a little island isolated from the rest of life, with all the unhappiness that has to follow.” p. 55

On Self-forgetfulness: “All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings,… In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel,…the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself…” p. 60

“…there is only one way to be completely happy, and that is to forget ourselves in working for others. It’s a perplexing paradox: so long as we try to make ourselves happy, life places obstacles in our path. But the moment we turn away from ourselves to make others happy, our troubles melt away.” p. 61

“…in that absorption all the burdens a person might carry in such work were lifted from his shoulders …” p. 62

“As preoccupation with ourselves diminishes, security builds. We find we have greater patience – and not just with others, but with ourselves as well. Things that used to cause stress and agitation no longer ruffle us, and people we used to find difficult start to show a brighter side.” p. 66

“When there is no past, then no ghosts from the past …, no anger or resentment – can come to make your life miserable… It is not that you forget what happened yesterday when you lose the bond with the past; you just don’t think about yesterday.” p. 66

“…the unburdening of the memory.”

“It is heaven to be free of worry about tomorrow. I have many responsibilities, but I don’t worry about them. I plan, I work hard, but I don’t get anxious about results. When you develop this marvelous capacity to hold attention steady on the present, like a flame of a candle in a windless place, most anxieties evaporate. There is no reason to worry about what tomorrow may bring. If you live today completely in love – hating no one, hurting no one, serving all – then tomorrow has to be good, whatever comes.” p. 67

On Slowing down:
“All negative thoughts are fast. Fear, resentment, greed, and jealousy rush through the mind at a hundred miles per hour. At such speeds we cannot turn, cannot stop, cannot keep from crashing into people.” p. 67

“Fast thinking has implications for the body too. People whose thoughts spin faster and faster become victims of the speed habit of their minds.

“This kind of turmoil takes a heavy toll on health, and evidence suggests that emotional instability may leave the body more vulnerable to illness and reduce its capacity for healing. Uncontrollable anger … seems to be associated with hypertension and heart disease and is a component in severe breathing problems.” 68

On Putting Others First: “A third way to dissolve the strata of self-centered conditioning is by learning to think of other people’s needs before our own. This is perhaps …the most rewarding challenge on the spiritual path.” p. 70

“Putting others first is an infectious example that affects everybody around… All of us maintain a free university of our own, where we teach by what we are. Especially where children are concerned, the home is a 7-day-a-week school of education for living.” p. 71

“…the very best way to change someone is to begin with your own example.” p. 71

When people use hurtful words to you, “if you remember not to retaliate in words and actions, eventually you will find it impossible even to think hurtful thoughts.” p. 75

On Simplicity: we need to remind ourselves “that the real meaning of simplicity is singling out what is worth living for, then shaping our lives around what matters and letting go of everything else. Thoreau tells us, ‘I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.’” p. 79

“Simple living is the art of using minimum means to attain maximum results – just the opposite of what happens when we get caught up in the obsessions of a consumer society.” p. 80

“To enjoy everything, desire to get joy from nothing.” p. 81

On Patience: “Even immersing ourselves in hobbies, intellectual pursuits, or relationships can be attempts to create a little world where beauty and harmony are permanent, where disorder and distress cannot enter.” p. 98

“Training the mind to stay steady brings another precious benefit: it protects us from the physiological impact of negative emotions and stress.” p. 100

“…full health is more than just the absence of disease. It means a dynamic harmony of body and mind which allows us to live at our full physical, emotional, and spiritual potential.” p. 101

“…it is not so much events that subject us to stress as the way we perceive and interpret those events. …stress is defined as a relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his
or her well-being.

“…those who know how to keep their mind on an even keel will respond to life’s challenges with calmness, alertness, and even eagerness… what makes the difference is not personality type but evenness of mind.” p. 104

“…keeping calm in the face of excitement is even harder. Pleasure makes the mind race too…” p. 105

One possible connection between stress and illness is that psychological stress drains energy – energy that the body needs to stay vital, resist disease, and heal.” p. 106

“…no physical regimen can counteract the energy-wasting habits of the mind.” p. 106

“Human beings do not need excitement; they need meaning, purpose, a higher goal and some way of getting there. Without these, for those who are sensitive, life may soon lose its value.” p. 108

“‘Will I get a chance to help others?’ All that is important is that you can make a contribution; that is what gives life meaning and value.” p. 110

“…patience is not only a mental virtue; it is an asset even for physical health.” p. 111

“…if you can strengthen your patience to such a degree that other people’s behavior never upsets you, your heart, lungs, and nervous system will be on vacation.” p. 112

“Patience attains everything. Through patience, every goal can be reached.” p. 112

“Patience means self-mastery: the capacity to hold on and remain loving in a difficult situation when every atom of your being wants to turn and run.” p. 113

Instead of asking ‘Please give me more patience,’ keep in mind help always comes from within.

“We do not really get satisfaction out of hurting people who hurt us. We have simply fallen into the habit of brooding on wrongs done to us, blowing them up to the proportions of enormous antipathies, until we finally explode.” p. 127

“…personal suffering always comes from self-will…Nothing burns in hell except self-will.” p. 127

“Goodness may taste bitter at first, but it is found at last to be immortal wine.” p. 128

“Compulsive thought patterns exists only so long as we support them with our belief in their power to propel us into action…If we are bothered by certain thoughts, we should remind ourselves that it is we who rent out the precious space within the mind…If we shut the door of the mind right in their face, they will soon tire of knocking.” p. 133

“…just as chemicals in the air around us can bring on ailments like cancer, there are thoughts in the unconscious which can pollute our inner atmosphere and bring on illness in mind and even body.” p. 133

“Judge not that ye be not judged” Jesus. When we keep pointing a finger of judgment at others, we are teaching our mind a lasting habit of condemnation. Sooner or later, that finger of judgment will be aimed at ourselves.” p. 135

“I don’t make any demand on life at all. All I need is opportunities for giving, which life has no power to withhold.” p. 146

On Mercy:
“When we are kind, tender, compassionate, and forgiving, we get a glimpse of the healing power of this reservoir of mercy within.” p. 150

“As we sow, so we reap.”

“Indulging in anger in pointing a poison-tipped arrow inward, aimed straight at ourselves. It taints our thinking, poisons our feelings, turns our relationships adversarial. If we continue to think resentful thoughts, mistrust spreads in consciousness like some toxic underground chemical until we have a permanent disposition for suspicion.” p. 153

“Energy conservation is the basis of spiritual engineering, for vital energy provides the power we need to tap the infinite source of goodness and mercy that lies at the core of consciousness.” 154

…a close connection between mental states and longevity..

“Security, compassion, patience, forgiveness — all these are accompanied by a relatively slow breathing rhythm and heart rate. Positive states of mind like these conserve energy and lengthen the life span, leaving a reserve of resilience and resistance for facing challenges.” p. 155

“Learning to control attention is the key to gaining access to this energy and using it wisely. …the ability to direct attention is the very root of judgment, character and will.” p. 155

“…the best way to help our young people discover and harness their inner resources is by teaching them to master their attention, beginning with our own example. Giving children our full attention is the best way to make them secure; and with the steadiness that comes from a trained mind, we will not lose faith when they run into the problems that young people run into everywhere.” p. 156

“Most of us carry strong personal attachments and sincerely believe that we love deeply. But when we are emotionally entangled with someone, we cannot really be aware of that person’s needs or how we affect his life. Our preoccupation is with ourselves: that our feelings not be violated and that our wants be fulfilled.” p. 158

“…anything that depletes energy reserves regularly is likely to take a toll on health.” p. 159

“What we are looking for in others is generally what we find. ‘Such as we are inwardly, so we judge outwardly,’ Thomas Kempis said.” p. 162

“The memory of past letdowns can weigh down any sensitive human being, making trust an elusive commodity to acquire. Worst of all, when negative memories cast a shadow of mistrust over our relationships, we lack the vitality we need to withdraw our attention and act with kindness, as if those shadows were not there.” p. 162

“In the heart of every human being lies a noble response to anyone who will neither retaliate nor retreat: a deep, intuitive recognition that here is someone who sees in us all the inalienable good in human nature.” p. 170

Always remember what life is for.

On Peacemaking,
“Peace is not an absence of war. It is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, trust, and justice.” Spinoza. … We must actively cultivate peace as a virtue, trying to make it a permanent state of mind.” p. 177

There is a vital connection between the peace or violence in our minds and the conditions that exist outside. When our mind is hostile, it sees hostility everywhere, and we act on what we see. … Acting in anger is not just the result of an agitated mind; it is also a cause, provoking retaliation from others and further agitation from others and further agitation in our own mind. If negative behavior becomes habitual, we find ourselves chronically in a negative frame of mind and continually entangled in pointless conflicts – just the opposite of peaceful and pacifying.” p. 178

It doesn’t really need a reason to lose its temper; anger is its chronic state. … They are simply people whose minds have been conditioned to get angry, usually because they cannot get their own way. Instead of benevolence, they have developed a habit of hostility.” p. 178

If your mind is not trained to make peace at home, how can you hope to promote peace on a larger scale? p. 179

Stirring up passions, provoking animosity, and polarizing opposition may sometimes produce short-term gains, but it cannot produce long-term beneficial results because it only clouds minds and hurt both sides. p. 179

When push comes to shove, unless we have trained ourselves to harness our anger – to put it to work to heal the situation instead of aggravating it – it is monumentally difficult for most of us to resist the impulse to retaliate. p. 180

“We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold.” If we have an angry mind, we will see life as full of anger; if we have a suspicious mind, we will see causes for suspicious all around… p. 180

…use the right means and not worry about the outcome.

Instead of blaming our problems on some intrinsic flaw in human nature, we must squarely take responsibility for our actions as human beings capable of rational thought. p. 183

Trust is a measure of your depth of faith in the nobility of human nature, of your depth of love for all. If you expect the worst from someone, the worst is what you will usually get. Expect the best and people will respond. p. 184

When you give toys to children, or allow them to buy them for themselves, you have to consider that you are not just giving them something to entertain them; you are giving them an instrument that may influence their thinking and living for decades. p. 190

On desire:
“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your deep, driving desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.” — Perennial Philosophy p. 205

When we think we decide to buy something, go somewhere, see someone, all too often the choice is being made not by us, but by unconscious desires. p. 205

…indulging such desires for a moment of dash of wickedness, like smoke and drug, only leaves us hungrier than before, and a moment stretching to a day, a month, and many years… Keep in mind there is no long-lasting joy in yielding to a compulsive desire. p. 207

All yielding can do is give us a little respite from desire’s demands – and make them stronger the next time. Joy comes not from yielding, but from gaining freedom from them, freedom to choose. p. 207

There is combativeness in our makeup not so we can fight others, but so we can take on these urges and see how much satisfaction we get in beating them. p. 208

Compulsive desires are part of the human condition, but today we have an additional problem: for almost all of us, our desires are exceptionally well trained. p. 208

The end.



The power of hope…


From Forbes, Thought of the Day, 5/7/2014

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.” — Orison S. Marden



Learning new skills, the biggest boost to senior brain


On 5/5/2014, I heard this news on NRP when I was walking in the morning. “Seniors who learned more difficult skills like digital photography and Photoshop showed the greatest improvement in memory.” Research shows “Only people who learned a new skill had significant [brain] gains.” “The greatest improvement was for the people who learned digital photography and Photoshop.” It must be the most challenging of all activities.

The article is based on this research — “The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project.” Below is the abstract of the article.

“In the research reported here, we tested the hypothesis that sustained engagement in learning new skills that activated working memory, episodic memory, and reasoning over a period of 3 months would enhance cognitive function in older adults. In three conditions with high cognitive demands, participants learned to quilt, learned digital photography, or engaged in both activities for an average of 16.51 hr a week for 3 months.

Results at posttest indicated that episodic memory was enhanced in these productive-engagement conditions relative to receptive-engagement conditions, in which participants either engaged in nonintellectual activities with a social group or performed low-demand cognitive tasks with no social contact. The findings suggest that sustained engagement in cognitively demanding, novel activities enhances memory function in older adulthood, but, somewhat surprisingly, we found limited cognitive benefits of sustained engagement in social activities.”



Building wealth, according to money magazine, Part II


Tip 101: pick a clean start day. And then bet on seeing it through. I think it works for setting any goals.

It’s one thing that you know what you should do; it’s another to actually do it. What is harder is to act.

Research suggests that you are more likely to start working toward a goal on days that mark a dividing line. Such as, more people start dieting on New Year’s Day. A clear start date makes people feel disconnected from their past imperfections and promote a big-picture view of life.

Find a tool to track your progress toward your goal and even commit yourself to putting some money on the line, if you fail to reach your goal. More people hit their goals when they have money at stake.



Building wealth, according to money magazine


I spent some time on May 2014 issue of Money magazine during the first weekend after I got back from China. The cover story of this issue is “101 ways to build wealth.” So many ways! Of course, I was intrigued to find out what they are. After flipping through them, I have picked a few of them which might be helpful.

The article treats wealth building as a series of projects taken over the period of one’s life:
Project 1: lay a base
Project 2: expand
Project 3: refine
Project 4: reconstruct

Tip 1: Don’t sweat the investment at first–saving trumps savvy. Investment choices don’t matter much initially. “about 20% of your true total wealth, including future pay, is likely to be in financial assets at age 35. So even if you lose 30% in your 401k, that is an overall hit of less than 7%. You can recover. Get started, and give yourself a year or two to learn to be an investor.

Tip 2: Spend less to enjoy more. Focus on using your dollars in the way most likely to make you happy. When you buy a luxurious coffeemaker–”you are more likely to feel buyer’s remorse when you go high-end. One reason: you will soon feel annoyed by the effort required to learn to use the extra bells and whistles.

Tip 3: when you are young, go Roth IRA

Tip 9: Ignore this one habit of the young and the rich: the most active traders earned 7% less per year than the ones who tended to stand pat.

Tip 12-14: build around three cheap funds: 40% on U.S. stock market index fund; 40% on bond market index fund; 20% on foreign stock index fund.

Tip 15: invest in a team, not a star. Stick with stellar funds run by a disciplined committees, not a single manager.

Tip 16: Get more by doing less. By trying to outsmart the market, overly active investor usually dig themselves into a hole.

Tip 17: Do something by “doing nothing.” Tossing in an option is called “Doing nothing.” “This small addition to your set of choices will subtly remind you of your goal and help you stay disciplined.”

Tip 18: Investing with your head, not your heart. Don’t make any financial decisions with a forlon heart. When feeling lonely or socially isolated, you are more apt to take bigger risks with your money. So delay important financial decisions following a breakup or a falling-out with friends or family.

Tip 22: protect your portfolio like Buffett: build moat. “determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage,” said Buffett. Wide moat describes firms with products, services, or business models that can stand the test of time.

Tip 27: diversify your tax exposure. Everyone should put some money in a Roth IRA. With a Roth, you take the tax hit up front but get to pull money out tax-free at retirement.

Tip 28: cash is a poor choice for a long-term investment.

Tip 32: put your adviser under a bright-scope.” You need to know more than just their fees and disciplinary record. Check brightscope.com

Tip 33: pay next to nothing for basic help. Don’t overpay. Check some internet based advisers.

Tip 34: learn the ABCs of 529s to save for education

Tip 37: build in safeguards. Want an investment that will keep you safe in times of trouble? Seek out funds that over the past decade have lost less than the broad market in months when stocks have tumbled, while still outperforming over the past 10 years.

Tip 48: buy the smallest house in the best neighborhood you can afford.

Tip 50: fight tomorrow’s war today. Safeguard your cash with I bonds, government bonds.

Tip 51: defend your bonds with TIPS–Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities. VIPSX

Tip 53: forget the usual hedges. Investors have traditionally turned to hard assets such as real estate and commodities to guard against inflation. History shows these tools are barely as effective as cash.

Tip 54: utilize the best retirement plan you’ve never heard of. Use HSA, health saving account, where money grows tax-sheltered, and withdrawals for medical expenses are tax-free.

Tip 57: automating your payments use makes life easier, but study shows that nothing promotes saving more than paying the old-fashioned way. Very often you are not aware of how much you have overspent with automatic payment arrangement.

Tip 58-59: bring some joy back to investing. Let loose by taking a flier on these stocks with some play money–Linkedin, skyworks, etc.

Tip 61: go for McSaving, not McMansion. Amount you’d save by buying a $300k instead of $375k house is $162k, if you put $75k down and take out a 30-year 4.4% mortgage. Squeeze out as much savings as possible by purchasing a modest property at the lower end of your range, instead of buying the maximum that you can afford.

Tip 62: grab a second paycheck by earning rental income. Own a second house for renting.

Tip 66-68: use funds to tap high tax-exempt municipal bonds, 2% for intermediate-maturity issues vs. an after-tax equivalent of about 1.5% for regular bonds. For short-term money, use Vanguard Limited Term (VMLTX), Vanguard Intermediate Term Tax Exempt (VMITX), iShares National AMT-Free Muni Bonds (MUB).

Tip 71: avoid parental bailouts: your kids’ college debt shouldn’t exceed a year of post-grad pay.

Tip 74: diversity for income: 32% for US high-quality bonds, such as Vanguard Total Bond Fund; 18% international and high-yield bonds, such as Vanguard Total International Bond; 25% large US companies with dividends; 10% international stocks with dividends…

Tip 77: make sure you have this hedge: one reason to own foreign stocks is that currency fluctuations can boost returns and add to diversification.

Tip 80: if you have enough in your IRA to leave to the next generation, but worry junior will cash it out, set up a trusteed IRA.

Tip 81: stretch those legs–and stretch your dollars. The healthier you are, the less of your nest egg you will need to spend as chronic disease can be costly.

Tip 82: if you are not qualified for Roth IRA, make a contribution to a non-deductible IRA, then immediately covert to a Roth.

Tip 85: put your portfolio in buckets, that is, segment your nest egg based on when you need the money.

Tip 91: move to a smaller house and average school district when your children have left.

To be continued next day with the last tip.



Trip to Beijing, April 2014


I left Kansas for Beijing on 4/12/2014 and arrived in Beijing on 4/14, having spent nearly 18 hours on the way.
4/12 3:48 pm departure from Kansas
5:55 pm arrival in Houston, TX
4/13 1:00 am departure from Houston
4/14 4:50 am arrival in Beijing

Back from Beijing, I departed at 3 pm on 4/29 and arrived in Houston at 3:40 pm local time on 4/29, nearly 14 hours long. I had to rush through border and luggage checks in the short transfer time as I needed to catch the transfer at 5:47 pm for Kansas. It took unusually long time for the border check at Houston airport. I was told it was a new international airport where people were not used to doing this. I got back to Kansas at 7:50 pm.

I had a wonderful time in Beijing this year for three reasons.
(1) My son came on 4/23 and left on 4/27. He went to a friend’s wedding in Hong Kong, from there to Thailand, Shanghai, Suzhou, then Beijing. It’s over 10 years when my son and I were both in Beijing. Of course, I was overjoyed to see him in Beijing.

(2) I met up with a high school, also college classmate, a good friend of mine whom I had not seen for over 30 years. To my surprise, she didn’t change much in terms of personality, the way she talks, etc. Of course, we all have aged physically.

(3) I had a great reunion with two boys of my middle and high school years for the first time since I left Tianjin in 1974. Of course, these four decades have left remarkable prints on all of us. I was too full to put into words when I saw them. One of the most handsome boys in the class has been transformed into what he himself called “a fat old man.” Actually, the other one is more so than this one. Still, we are what we used to be, though more relaxing and comfortable in our own skin. We talked, eagerly exchanging our life stories and the stories of our youth years. Like old friends, we felt nothing in between us, as if we hadn’t been separated for that long. Amazing!



What your tongue tells you about your health


I used to think only traditional Chinese medicine studies a patient’s tongue, not any more until I read this article, “6 Things Your Tongue Tells You– It’s more than the doorman for your throat—it’s a diagnostic wonder tool” by PAIGE FOWLER.

Here are these six things, quoted from this article.

(1) The sign: Swollen grey/white balloon under your tongue
What it means: You could have a clogged salivary gland. When this occurs, something is blocking the tiny ducts so they can’t drain saliva, causing swelling, fluid build-up, and pain. One of the most common causes of a clogged duct is a salivary stone. “It’s a calcium deposit similar to a kidney stone,” says Mark Woff, D.D.S, chair of cariology and comprehensive care at New York University College of Dentistry. If it doesn’t go away on its own within a few days, make an appointment with your dentist—the deposit may need to be surgically removed.

(2) The sign: Sores with a halo around them
What it means: A healthy tongue is pink and relatively smooth with no lumps or bumps. If you notice any red or whitish patches, a spot with a red ring around it, white areas with a lace-like pattern, or an unhealing sore, alert your doctor or dentist—it could signal cancer. While rates of other types of cancer are on the decline, the incidence of oral cancer has increased approximately 25 percent over the past decade, possibly due to the rise in human papilloma virus (HPV), a risk factor for the disease.

(3) The sign: Thick red tongue
What it means: Check your diet—you could have a vitamin deficiency. Your tongue is one of the first places a vitamin B12 deficiency appears. The vitamin is essential for creating healthy red blood cells, and subpar levels can lead to anemia. With that disease, your tongue may feel sore and is sometimes said to appear “beefy.” If you eat a typical U.S. diet, you’re probably getting enough vitamin B12 since it’s mostly found in meat, poultry, milk, fish, and eggs. However, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan or have a digestive disorder such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, you may not be getting enough. Taking a multivitamin and eating fortified foods like cereal can help.

(4) The sign: Black, hairy-looking tongue
What it means: Did you recently take antibiotics? A course of the drugs can disrupt the normal bacteria in your yapper, causing an overgrowth that builds up on tiny round projections on your tongue called papillae. Instead of sloughing off like they normally do, the papillae can grow and give your tongue a hairy appearance. The good news: For the most part, it’s harmless and should go away on its own. However, the bacteria can cause bad breath and affect your ability to taste. “Brush your tongue really well with a toothbrush and toothpaste each day and you’ll help the normal flora return,” Dr. Wolff says.

(5) The sign: Swelling
What it means: Of all the symptoms to watch for, this requires the most immediate attention, since you could be having an allergic reaction. “It isn’t actually so much swelling of the tongue that occurs, but swelling of the airway behind the tongue that pushes the tongue forward, making it appear larger,” Dr. Wolff says. Without quick treatment, swelling in your mouth can block your airway and become life-threatening, Dr. Wolff adds. Seek medical attention right away.

(6) The sign: Dry, white glossy tongue
What it means: Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs when the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva. This can cause uncomfortable dryness on the tongue and affect the balance of bacteria, which may cause a change in your tongue’s color and appearance. When left untreated, dry mouth can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay—normally, saliva deposits minerals that help keep your teeth healthy—and it may also increase your risk of oral infections. Drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier if you live in a dry environment can help. If dry mouth is a chronic problem, medications you take for allergies, high blood pressure, asthma, and other conditions may be to blame. Talk to your doc about switching prescriptions. You can also treat dry mouth with over-the-counter mouth rinses, which work like an artificial saliva substitute.



We are the products of our own habits…


I wrote something on this before. While I was reading on Confucianism and the repeated performance of certain ritual, I was trying to make sense of this repetition. I thought of habit formation and these words on habits, character and fate. Nothing reveals better than these words from Aristotle and John Dryden on the relationship between habit and what we have become as the result of our habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do.” –Aristotle
“we first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” — John Dryden

Therefore, constantly examine what you repeatedly do and what you habitually do everyday. This leads to the word of Socrates “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.”



Too much sitting and early DEATH


Leading to death! This is not kidding. It is again from Harvard Health Publication.
Too much sitting linked to an early death, 1/29/2014. In case the link is not active. Here’s the article.

“I spend most of each workday sitting in a chair, my fingers the only part of my body moving with any intensity. Technology lets me—as well as millions of other people—earn a living from the relative comfort of our desks, without having to break a sweat or even stand up. Once the workday is done, we can transition straight from desk to car to couch, taking barely a step in between.

The ease of our modern workday could come at the expense of our longevity. A new study of older women in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death. The more hours women in the study spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.

And here’s the kicker: Even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones.

Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors, and chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Each of these behaviors is important and has an independent effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

How exactly sitting contributes to reduced longevity isn’t clear, but there are a few possible mechanisms. “Sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of the development of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

When you sit, you expend fewer calories than you would while standing, and you demand little effort from your muscles. Sitting too much can also lead to other behaviors that contribute to obesity and heart disease. “Many times when people are sitting, what are they doing? They’re often watching TV and snacking,” says Dr. Manson.

Work out
One way to avoid prolonged sitting during the workday is to switch to a standing desk, or one that can adjust to sitting and standing positions. Some companies are piloting the use of treadmill desks, which let workers walk at a leisurely pace while they type or answer the phone. However, these machines are pricey, and if you set the speed too high your legs will wear out before 5 o’clock rolls around.

An easier, no-cost solution is to set your smartphone timer to go off every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. When the alarm rings, “Stretch and move around the office to avoid any prolonged sitting at one time,” Dr. Manson recommends.

Sit less
How much sitting can you safely do in a day? In the study, women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death, but even lesser amounts of inactive time can cause problems. “Once you’re sitting for more than 6 to 8 hours a day, that’s not likely to be good for you,” Dr. Manson says. You want to avoid prolonged sitting and increase the amount of moderate or vigorous exercise you do each day, she adds.

When it comes to exercise, “Any activity is good,” says Dr. Lee. “Some is better than none, and more is better than less.” Ideally, work in a full half-hour or hour of exercise each day, while trying to be active—even in short spurts—the rest of the time. But if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes of dedicated exercise at a time, aim for that.”

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