Weekend plan, 10/15/2016

I am the firm believer in making plans, even if it is a weekend. This way I can be more focused and get more things done.

My sister’s son is coming to America for his undergraduate education. I believe he will go to our local community college for a semester of English before he enrolls as full-time student at Kansas University next fall. This means a couple of things for me. House-cleaning is always on the top of the list.

(1) House-cleaning task
(2) Start writing the book report on ‘My Name Is Lucy Barton’ by Elizabeth Strout
(3) Finish writing the article on locker room talk
(4) Work on back yard to remove the weeds that are going to yield seeds.

Two Pearls of Wisdom in the office

I have such a rich work-related experience that I would waste it if I don’t share it with my dear readers. Here’s one that I wrote today.

(1) Take care of your reputation, even if you don’t intend to stay long at your current position.

Here are something that I hear people talk about behind the back.

“If she does one thing, she will make sure the whole town knows it.”
“If you don’t hear her complain, it’s because she is not doing anything.”
“Her words? You have to take it with a pinch of salt.”
“She talks non-stop but says nothing.”
“She is very trustworthy.”
“She is the to-go person if you ever need help.”
“You can always count on her.”
How do you want your colleagues to talk about you when you are out of sight? This is the reputation that I am talking about. I know someone who often cries wolf at office. When she does need help, people don’t take her seriously until this grandma cries like a baby.

(2) Be your own cheerleader.

Because nobody notices you if all you do is to bury your head and do a great job. There is no grading system at work, no final exam to let your stand out. My children were all great students at school, so they never got teacher’s attention. “Only when you break some rules or break something like window can you get some attention. Of course, son, that’s not a good one.” They got it. In fact, they learned more when they watched TV news. Very often, the one who has done something horrible gets the most TV coverage. Let’s not talk about it.

The point is you don’t want to be a nameless hero at office. Nameless hero only sounds great but let’s face it, in reality it’s not appreciated and recognized at all. You need to make sure you are at least appreciated. It’s like in research, if it’s not documented, it’s not done. Like I used to do two persons’ work in one workplace silently for nearly a year. I thought it known to all and never complained, never bragged or even mentioned it to anybody. In the end, I was not only unappreciated but was told “You are expected to step outside your role to help out.”

It is very tactic as how to broadcast your accomplishments without sounding like the squeaky wheel that wants more oil. Consider sharing your accomplishment this way, “I know it is not in my job description, still I have done this or that because I know too many deviations/mistakes, even if it’s not my fault, would not make us look great.”

In summary, think of this daily at office: (1) how to cement your reputation; (2) how not to be a nameless hero.

At work, we are first and foremost living beings

I just published this article on LinkedIn today.
After I put down the phone with a colleague, I went to the infusion room. The sights of patients and the words of my colleague suddenly seem so discordant. There is something so not right. My colleague just told me over the phone, “These red queries make my blood pressure shoot up.” I could almost see her anxiety level skyrocketing from the way she talked. Oh dear.

Here I see patients fighting for their dear lives. I imagine they would give up anything if they could get back their health. And there my healthy colleague run the risk of getting hypertension over a few queries.

Once a colleague of mine requested a patient’s chart from medical record department. When she didn’t get what she requested in due time, she marched to the medical record supervisor’s office and reported the incident. When the medical record person came over to explain how busy she was at the time, the two got into a raucous and truculent fight. To me, any kind of fight is detrimental to health and to life.

Very often when people work themselves up emotionally and make a gargantuan deal out of something very trivial or when they entangle themselves insignificantly in the office, they are doing disservice to their health and they lose sight of the big picture, that is we are living beings, which are also called lives. Life means many things. Like all living beings, life has a beginning and an end. On top of everything else, life means vulnerability.

Anytime people place trivial things above their health and their lives, they actually put the cart before the horse. The patients in our infusion room have taught me that nothing, not even wealth, fame, and power is more important than life.

What do you lose by giving your people more responsibilities?

I posted this great article on the LinkedIn,

I know a case in which an employee at a giant communication company, then software engineer level II, applied but lost for a SE level III position within the same team. That employee is the key player technically in the team, constantly helping other level III team members. His only problem is he doesn’t talk much.

Upon being rejected, he started applying for other internal positions, which immediately triggered panic attack on the part of his supervisor who desperately needs that employee to be in the team. The supervisor knows that employee is the only one who can get any urgent challenging job done. He knows the team cannot function without that employee. In a frenetic attempt to keep that employee, the supervisor promised mountains and oceans to him, including the level III position.

Case like this is not an isolated one. It always makes me wonder this question that I have for the supervisor/manager/to-whom-it-may-concern: What do you lose by giving your people more responsibilities, by trusting your people more, by promoting an internal employee whom you already know?

Nothing, as far as I can think of, especially in light of the fact that nearly all new hires need training before embarking upon the new position. If you can trust that an outsider can be trained into the new position, why can’t an internal employee be thus trusted, unless that internal employee is an imbecile?

What does the denial do to the employees? Potentially, it could lead to decimate trust and productivity, and high employee turnover.

How to retain great employees? The answer should leap to the eye.

My Besetting Sin at the Meeting

Here’s another great article that I wrote on the LinkedIn,
I have to confess that I enjoy reading and hearing words from pastors or ministers or someone with Rev. before their names. They all make me think about something else. Today, I was reading Pastor Cole’s writing on besetting sins at bible.org.

“Four ministers got away for a retreat. As they sat around the fire talking, one pastor said, ‘Let’s all share our besetting sins. I’ll go first. My besetting sin is that every so often I slip away from the office to the race track and bet on the horses.

The second pastor volunteered, ‘My besetting sin is that I keep a bottle of wine down in my basement. When I get really frustrated with my deacons, I sneak down there and have a nip of wine.’

The third pastor gulped and said, ‘My besetting sin is that I keep a punching bag at home. When I get mad at somebody in the church, I go home and think about that person as I hit the punching bag.’

They all turned to the fourth pastor and asked, ‘Well, what is your besetting sin?’ He hesitated, but they coaxed him. Finally, he said, ‘My besetting sin is gossip, and I can’t wait to get home!'”

It is the last two pastors that not only make me laugh but also set me thinking about numerous occasions at work. The fourth pastor, in particular, reminds me of one of my besetting sins.

While we are all sitting around the table at the work meeting, seemingly thinking about the topics under discussion, you can see the presence of the fourth pastor among us. Sometimes, it’s obvious when you see smile on someone’s face while she is sneaking a peak at the cellphone. Sometimes, a person prefers not to say anything at the meeting but can’t wait for the end of the meeting like the last pastor.

The only time when people competed with one another in expressing themselves was when the company hired an outside consulting company, Huron Consulting, to preside the meeting, without the presence of the manager. That meeting was like a gargantuan boiling pot.

My besetting sin at the company’s work is, I am always thinking about one thing, not about the topics under discussion but this, if I were to preside over the meeting, how can I nail down people’s attention on where I want them to? How can I engage everybody? How can I make them as enthusiastic about the topic as water in a boiling pot? How can I make everybody talk without any fear?

Uphold your own standards, regardless of your work environment

Well, you can see I am not as busy as I should be at work. So I pour my creative energy here. I have been contributing to LinkedIn lately. This is one of the articles that I wrote.

When my daughter started her intern job last summer, I felt this strong maternal impulse to share with her something really important.

People at your work place can be as diverse as birds in the forest. Some talk more and work less; some work and no talk. Your manager might come from a finance background and try to mess up with your graphic design. Your colleagues might come from the place where minorities are as rare as pandas.

Some people may offer help but will talk behind you about how incompetent you are and have to seek help for the work that you are supposed to know.

On the one hand, you will find people of your grandma’s age gossip and giggle like teenagers, on the other hand, there are people with full integrity.

A friend of mine told me about her daughter’s decision not to work at any bank. “Look at big banks like Wells Fargo,” Of course, we know the notorious deeds of Wells Fargo. I know someone at healthcare office cares only her paycheck. I hear too much whining and complaining around in my office.

Number one: don’t look for absolute fairness and justice at your workplace. It’s all ideals. Whatever you learn at your classroom about social justice and equality, keep it in your head. Workplace is not about justice and equality. It’s all about getting the assignments done legally.

Number two: unethical events like Wells Fargo are not uncommon. But make your own judgment and always do the right thing, regardless of the pressure from above. Better lose job than lose principles.

Number three, seek out your own role model, your mentor in your work place as early as possible, and follow them.

Sometimes, you might think you have to compromise something in order to fit in the culture of your work place. Compromise as we all do in life, but never compromise your values. e.g. you can giggle one of your silly giggles but never gossip about others, even though gossiping is the norm.

Always hold dearly the values and principles that define who you are.

Know Yourself, know your pitfalls

This is one of the articles that I published on LinkedIn. You can leave comments there, if you have any.

When my son was small, he would make a face-losing scene at the store if his wish was not met. The remedy for this was not to take him to the store until he could behave himself in public.

Sometimes, while I am in the middle of a task, I find the need to get on the internet for a brief search. Very often that 5-minute sidetrack quickly runs out of control as I click one link to another and then I forget what my initial intention is. This is what happens when time flies by without getting things done. The cure is, instead of stopping for each search, write on a paper notepad what you want to search. Do it at the end. If you need to get answers now, set a timer.

Sometimes, I feel very lethargic after eating too much. The cure is to avoid heavy food intake if I know I still have work to do.

Some people lose focus and become distracted when they get bored sitting in a not exciting classroom or meeting. The trick is how to keep them intrigued.

When I related the story to my daughter, she totally got it because that’s what happened to her, too. Most of us have our particular pitfalls or traps that lead us to the opposite of where we want to go, and to the waste of time and life. The question is how to hold yourself from falling into these pitfalls. I told my daughter this. You need a self-check mechanism.

To act proactively, you need to know yourself, know your pattern of behavior, know when you have your peak hours in a day so that you get serious things done in those hours, know under what situation you are most likely to lose focus. This way you can foresee what will happen in certain situations and proactively avoid getting into that situation, just like what I did with my young son.

The earlier in life you know yourself, the better.

What should young college graduates look for in their first job

Of course, readers here have read this article before, perhaps not under the same heading but having the same content.

When my children were at home, I often lectured to them on any topic that came to my head at the moment, so much so that by the time my daughter was in her senior year high school, she would put on her earbud when I got too boring. It was quite funny.

I remember talking to them about their first job upon college graduation. Number one, the decisive factor is not the paycheck. No matter how attractive your first paycheck is, if you don’t have strong expertise, your laughter won’t last longer than the snow flakes under the sun, and your tangible paycheck is as insecure as the delicious cheese in a rat’s mouth. Even worse is this, a big paycheck might intoxicate you and allure you to forget your own dream about your life.

Number two, don’t choose a company because of its world-class benefit. The more comfortable the comfort zone is, the harder it is for you to break away from it. To be sure, comfort hugging is in most of us. But when you are in your early 20s, you are too young for that.

What you should look for is something intangible, that is, an opportunity to learn and grow, and to enhance your skills and broaden your network. You might say, “I don’t know if there’s room for growth before I get my foot in the door.” Of course you wouldn’t. But this is the things you look for once you are on your first job. Your first job matters only in so much as it serves as the step-stone to the next one, hopefully a better one.

If you already know what you want to do with your life, find out if the company fits your plan. If you still don’t know where your passion lies, explore and learn as much about the company as about yourself. Like when I started with China Daily, a hugely fantastic place. I found myself unreal and uncomfortable when I had to extract information from people, sometimes a bit unscrupulously. Then I realized there was a mismatch and the rest is history.

If you enjoy yourself and find it rewarding at office, don’t just bury your head deeply in the assignments every day. Keep your eyes wide open and be mindful of on-goings around you, for your first positions should always be seen as the opportunities to something better, way better than anything currently under your nose.

You will laugh last if you can double or even treble your intangible assets on your first post.

What will you do when you are under-appreciated and under-utilized?

I have shared this article on the LinkedIn. Please leave your comments there.

My daughter started the first day of her fall unpaid intern at this new place after Labor Day. Of course things always go slow on your first day, no matter where you land. No rush at this moment.

I shared with her this. While you are a college student, it’s OK to accept unpaid work as long as you get what you need. You actually buy work experience with your time and money. If, say after two weeks, you sense that they don’t appreciate your talents, that is, they won’t involve you in anything above clerical nature of work, you really need to take some actions.

Take initiative.
Take actions.
Propose new ideas.
Nothing will happen before you do something.
It’s you time, your life, your responsibility.
Nobody cares but you.
It’s nobody’s business but yours!

One big SECRET about Young People

I thought of outpouring more articles this year. But I have not kept my plan so far. My birthday reminds me of time running away and I need to do something. Writing is one of the things that I will keep doing. Here’s one article published on LinkedIn.

I learn this from the conversations with my children.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate assets and wealth with young people, especially when you think of college graduates with huge loans and unemployed. Instead people tend to think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own resources. With the old, theirs is money; with the young, theirs is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of learning and trying new ideas, venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. That’s OK as long as they learn from their experience and keep moving ahead. The old do not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resources. They have not fully utilized their resources while they are young. Some become a lifer at one place, like Robert Frost’s poem, “being shore to ocean –Holding the curve of one position, Counting an endless repetition.” For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives.

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME. Keep in mind TIME is something money cannot buy and TIME has an expiration date.

Happy Birthday to me!!!!!

My son gave me an early birthday wish yesterday. Even better, my daughter texted me telling me that she would Skype with me tonight after class. They all made my day a special one.

At office, my colleague bought cupcakes for me. Two emailed me birthday wish. The sunshine committee gave me a birthday card with good wishes from many colleagues. They all further warmed my heart.

Wish me happy and healthy in the long years to come…

What will you do when you are under-appreciated and under-utilized?

My daughter started the first day of her fall internship at this new place after Labor Day. Of course things go slow on your first day, no matter where you land. No rush yet.

I told her that if, say after two weeks, you sense that they don’t take you seriously, you really need to take some actions.

Take initiative.
Take action.
Propose new ideas.
Nothing good will happen before you do something.
It’s you time, your life, your responsibility.
Nobody cares but you.
It’s nobody’s business!

Work, career and calling…

I wrote down these notes sometime ago on the difference between a job, a career, and a calling. I don’t remember where and when I read it. I just remember I must share this with my children.

What you are doing everyday defines what you are.
The ideal life is this like. Your life blends seamlessly with your work.
Work is not the place where you get your paychecks.
Paychecks should be the last thing that you should think about when you go to work.
It is the place where you spend one third of your day.
It is where you are supposed to generate value for yourself and for he who pays you.
It is the place that defines who you are.
It is where your biography is written.
Have a dream of your own.
Don’t live your life trying to realize other people’s dream.

Appearance matters a lot but you have other options

I shared this short piece with a colleague of mine today, “Appearance Does Matter but you have other tools” In case, this link is not working, here’s the URL,

To my surprise, my colleague said it was well written because it is absolutely true. She said, “Often people don’t tell the truth. I like this article because it is true.”

Don’t deliberately ask questions in order to start a negative topic…

Last Friday, a colleague of mine went to another location to get the so-called “training,” which she told me she didn’t want to go and I don’t think it necessary. When she came back today, I was very tempted to ask her about her training, like what you learned from your training, anything that you can’t learn from here and that you have to go to OP, etc. But I held myself back.

To be sure, training is a privilege. I’d like to share this with her. It is not work, in that you don’t have any responsibility for the time you spend there. When there are tasks waiting for me to complete, I’d like to escape by spending my time on the wonderful carefree training. Too bad I was never given this privilege.

By asking her about her training, what I really want to hear is her complaint about the boring time that she was asked to go through and that gives me an opportunity to add fuel to fire. I was going to share my idea about training. If she doesn’t complain as I expect, I might feel being denied a chance to get negative. This is actually not nice at all. So I thought it better not to mention it to her.

This reminds me of one incident when someone deliberately asked a guest at our house a question in order to start a topic that catered to the low taste of that person. Later, I heard a comment like this, “I knew he liked to talk about it, so I intentionally led him into that topic.”

I don’t like that incident. I see a little manipulation there. Of course, one should not imitate something that one doesn’t like.

How to keep employees engaged and involved at work

To be sure, most of the managers would like to see the employees 100 percent engaged and involved in their work when they are physically present at the office. But the reality is many people mentally check themselves out while at the meeting and at work. I know I do. Call it daydreaming.

I have learned some companies give bonus to those who come up with great ideas and those ideas have been adopted by the company. I would brainstorm myself every day if the place I work with thus encouraged people.

The place where I work use games like jeopardy and Kahoot! which is “a free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn…” Of course, at the end of the game, there is prize for the winners like gift cards. This trick works at the meeting but is far from enough to stop the high turnover rate there.

How to keep employees fully engaged and involved at work is a huge subject, almost number big challenges to the employees. I read something like 10-Cs of employee engagement:
1. Connect
2. Career
3. Clarity
4. Convey
5. Congratulate
6. Contribute
7. Control
8. Collaborate
9. Credibility
10. Confidence

I am surprise “Caring” is not part of these Cs.

Avoid the default heuristic if it means coasting an easy way out

I read this piece and wrote it down on a piece of paper, though I forgot where I copied it,
“The default heuristic tells us to coast instead of of changing course, and the scarcity heuristic indicates that rare equals better. But just when you thought you could trust those instincts, …something tells you to reconsider. Most of us can’t tell when we are having rational thoughts and when we’re on autopilot…”

A thought for the day.

“the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”

This is from my office conversation, specifically between two of my colleagues.
“I must be a drama queen,” one colleague said to another.
“No you are not. Why do you think so?” the other asked.
“Well, because my daughter is such a drama queen. I was thinking where she got this. She must get it from me.”

I don’t really know both that colleague and her daughter. But it’s funny that she thinks this way. In fact, it makes sense. I’d like to retell this story to some parents when they complain to me about their children, that is, how selfish or how lazy or how rude or how this or that their child is. I would like to tell these people to stop complaining about the children.

When we see the problems in our children, very often look no further than ourselves for the root cause of the problem.

Be your own cheerleader, always, nobody will cheer for you, if you don’t

Sociologically speaking, we all see things from our own perspective and we are all loaded with pre-conceptions. Call it prejudice. I have my own prejudice which is in my favor. That is, I see myself better than what others see me. Because I know myself better than anyone else since I am basically an introvert type, probably with the exception of my parents. I know what I have been through — coming to a foreign country, earning the highest degree in humanity while teaching sociology courses at college level, raising a baby boy. Then I gave up my teaching job and turned to programming when my baby girl was two years old. No matter how formidable the challenge was, I have without exception met it with triumphant.

Be your own cheerleader, always. If you don’t, whom can you count to? Others might have prejudice against me, no matter how the facts show the otherwise. The truth is we never work with facts. Instead, we always work with prejudice.

Realistically, people are seldom free from prejudice. Therefore when we meet, we have exchanges of prejudice. e.g. I can come up with plenty of facts to show I am far better than some of the people that I work with. But once again, this statement is not shared by those who, given their prejudice against me, consider me nothing but an impostor or think I am fit for no better than a sidekick for someone else.

Never allow yourself to be disturbed and punished by other people’s prejudices. Hold high that great image of yourself, always! And constantly work toward a better you tomorrow. Meanwhile, never forget to enjoy yourself.

The ultimate challenge to good parenting

I have heard more than one parents telling me how inexperienced they are as parents. To be sure, most of parents are without prior experience when they first become parents, definitely so if they have not been a babysitter or a teacher to young children. First-time parents are overwhelmed with lots of unknown. We all start from ground zero. As we run along the parenting line, difference will develop, due to their difference in temperament, expectations, education, cultural and economic background.

One factor will have a decisive say in how big that difference will be. I believe parents can potentially make a huge difference in a child’s life if they are willing to make sacrifice or do whatever needed for their child, even if it means a change of their lifestyle.

To start with, in the prior-child days, a parent can do however he pleases with his time, money and life. A simple example, he can use offensive words whenever and however he feels the need without having to worry someone might copy the way he talks.

With the birth of the baby, he has to share his time and money with this new life. His life is no longer his own. Like it or not, he is both a parent and the first teacher to his child. Action speaks louder than words. He realizes he is creating his own mirror in the form of his offspring. He has to consider the impacts on his child of whatever he says and does.

Here are some examples of parents’ making sacrifice and accommodation for their children.
1. An ex-colleague of mine went to work at 4 AM so that he could be home when his children came back from school. He started doing so ever since his children started elementary school. He said he would keep this schedule till his children left for college.
2. A father started learning piano at the same time when his daughter took her first lesson so that he could better supervise her practice.
3. A father stopped gaming when his child was doing homework so that his child could concentrate better.
4. A mother changes the way she expresses herself so that her child will learn how in similar situation.
5. A father told me he would leave behind all the stress that he felt at work when he returned home. And he would not show his disappointment and anxiety when he saw the disappointing grade reports of his child so that his negative feeling would not impact his child.
6. A father stops smoking for the benefit of his son.

Here’s one example of a parent refusing to accommodate himself to the child’s need. A father who promised his children to work with them on their Chinese told them to wait till he finished his TV shows, which was way past the children’s bedtime. This resulted in the children never taking Chinese lesson from the father.

Knowing that something in us is going to have negative influence on our children and willing to change ourselves so that we can be a better person/teacher/model for our children — in my opinion, this is the ultimate challenge for us parents. Such as, if a father has a hot temper, which often frightens and is detrimental to his child psychological and emotionally, he makes sincere efforts to change it so that the child will not be the victim of his bad temper.

You don’t need experience to be a good parent. You only need to know what a good person should be and be that person yourself for your children.

Gaming the system– a shortsighted approach to education

Many college applicants try to game the system by being over-achievers. They try to impress the admission officers with perfect SAT and AP scores, perfect class ranking, and a wholesome spotless extracurricular activities. In other word, the applicants look more perfect than real, so perfect that there is no believable life in these perfect metrics.

In their effort to beat the system, they behave rather shortsightedly and forget who they are and what they want to achieve in the long run.

I know someone who didn’t have perfect SAT, without even making to the top 10 class ranking, no collection of admirable AP scores, and who was admitted by some of the top universities. On the other hand, I know many with perfect everything still were denied by the school of their choice.

Make no mistakes. I don’t mean to say that grades are not important, that good performance does not count. They do. Decent grades show that you are a responsible student, that you are smart enough to handle tough courses, and that you dare to take challenges.

But one needs much more than that to tide one up to a higher level. People want to see the character, the potential of the applicants, and the whole person, perfect or imperfect.

The applicants should at least dare to be himself. Not afraid of showing their human side, that is, mentioning moments of weakness and how they have grown and got stronger over time.

Parents need to help their children to develop a goal in life, a strong character, a healthy attitude, and an upbeat approach to life. This seems a less straightforward approach to college application than simply gaming the system. Yet, in the long run, it works better in helping your child than any other way. Knowing what he wants to do with his life will benefit the child during and beyond college campus.

10 Don’ts — part of your efforts to be a nice person

1. Don’t act as if you are always right.
2. Don’t make promise or commitment easily. Once you promise something, keep your promise.
3. Don’t ask for help easily. Always try your best first.
4. Don’t impose upon others. Respect others.
5. Don’t make fun of others. Respect
6. Don’t lose temper easily. You gain nothing from losing it.
7. Don’t interrupt others. Respect.
8. Don’t underestimate appearance. That’s how you are first judged.
9. Don’t be close-minded.
10. Don’t bully the weak ones. Be nice!

Fourth of July weekend flying out to New York City

It’s been nearly a week since we got back from New York City and Boston. What a wonderful trip!

We started on July 1, a Friday morning, leaving our car at the long term parking lot. We arrived there in the early afternoon. My son went to the airport to meet us. If I had my way, I would not want him to come to meet us because he is such a busy CEO. It took us more than an hour to get our rental car at the airport. One lesson learned that day is trying to avoid coming out on holiday weekend. There were people everywhere in the airport, on the highway, even at the car rental office.

We finally got our rental car and drove to my son’s apartment, toured his apartment and met his girlfriend. Together we went to have dinner at a local restaurant called Sage. A nice dinner. After that we left for Boston. My son booked a hotel there. My daughter was waiting for us at Sheridan Hotel in downtown Boston.

It was nearly midnight when we finally made it to the hotel. My daughter was waiting at the lobby. Surprisingly there were still plenty of people, tall and short, at the lobby, due to the 2016 Little People of America National Conference in Boston that weekend.

The next day, the Saturday, we went to my daughter’s apartment, then left Boston and drove north to Burlington, Vermont, which sits by Lake Champlain. The place turned out a better place than we thought, better than Kansas City. It is a small college town, having a rather urban lifestyle, nice and clean, population very homogeneously white, with the look of having a much longer history than any cities in Kansas. Indeed, it does. People seem to enjoy a much relaxing life there than here in KC. I like the place.

We stayed there on Saturday. On Sunday, on our way back to Boston, we went to Vermont Country Store Weston, winding slowly through hilly roads on route 100, instead of taking interstate highway. We stayed at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, a much nicer one than Sheridan.

The next morning, Monday July 4th, we dropped my daughter to her apartment, then drove back to New York City. We said goodbye to my son at the airport. He took a taxi back to his apartment. By the time we got back home, it was already passed midnight. I was too tired to fall asleep.

It was a short trip and I enjoyed it thoroughly! Since both of my children are busy, it’s a good length visit.

Remembering my father who left us 29 years ago

Remembering my father07112016
It was a Saturday, 7/11/1987, when my father breathed his last and I was in America at that time. I was not there when he passed, which has been a huge remorse ever since. I know he died of cancer which I could do nothing about. Still I often dream of other realities and of things and activities that we could do together if he were around.

More often I thought it would be a huge comfort to him if I kept doing what he wished, even though I know this is nothing but a wishful thinking. I don’t believe people feel or know anything after death. It’s all over beyond that point, as if that person had not been around at all. It’s all what the living does in order for the living to feel better. The dead lives in the mind of the living only.

With that thought, I often feel pressed for time. Time is all we have in this life. My father’s life was cut short at age of 57. So many events, significant and unprecedented, happened in China and in the world during the past 29 years and he wasn’t able to witness them at all. He was an exceptionally intelligent and diligent man and could have accomplished so much in 29 years. He would be 86 years old now if he were around. The thought of that reminds me of the fact that being healthy is of paramount importance to me now, that I need to take good care of myself especially when my daughter is still young. I don’t know what my father wants now, but I know what my children want from me and I still have a lot to deliver on.

Before I can create and enjoy life, I must have a good health. This is what I think of today, the day when I remember my father.

The price for being lazy. Always do your own homework.

I went to our north clinic today to get a patient’s lab that was returned by the unreasonable FedEx. I got lost on the way there. It was almost 11 AM when I got back. The google map says 35 minutes, 34.1 miles via I-435. But I spent around two hours for the trip. It’s all my fault. No use to blame anyone else.

I googled it, got directions and printed it all, without actually going through the directions. I wanted to make sure that’s the north clinic, so I asked a girl from north pharmacy how to get there. She told me it was really easy. She drew a map, telling me to turn at Green Hills. She even wrote Green Hills on the paper, saying you could see it from the road.

But after I got back from her, I became lazy, mentally relying on her instruction only. So I kept looking for Green Hills while I was on 425 west. I couldn’t see it even after I reached the airport. So finally I got off the car and asked for help at the airport. A good-hearted lady told me to get on I-29 south, exit at 9A on route 152 east, turn right on Green Hill Road.

It turned out that I should exist at route 152 when I was driving 435 west, and from Rt-152 (not from I-435), I could see the big sign of Green Hills and exit there.

Lesson learned today is never rely on instructions given to me by others. Always do my own homework! I will have to pay a big price for being lazy. 5-minute homework can save a lot later on.

If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on — Kant

These words remind me of a saying. That is, if you make yourself a rat, the other will become a cat. Obviously, there is no peaceful co-existence between the two. I don’t like this dominant-subordinate human relationship. But sadly to say, isn’t it the reality that we have to live in?

Here are some beautiful quotes from Kant.
Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.
Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.
All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions:
1. What can I know?
2. What ought I to do?
3. What may I hope?

A person is only a person when it has the power to make sense of its surrounding.
There are three things that can relieve life’s hardships: hope, sleep, and smile.

A person’s weaknesses comes from his environment and his time. His virtues and greatness belong to himself.

The busier we are, the more keenly we are aware of our being alive, the more we are aware of the existence of life.

A man without confidence does not even have the desire to get up in the morning.

My Summer Plan 2016

When my children were at home, we always worked out a plan each summer so that we could get something done. It has become a tradition in our family.

We know time’s running out faster than we expect. If we don’t have any plan and follow it closely, very often we end up having nothing done. Even worse, we feel miserable when we don’t have anything accomplished at the end of the summer or the year.

After my children left home, I have become lazy and slack. This year, when I talked to my daughter over the Skype and asked her to share with me her summer plan, I realized I should have one myself this summer. It’s a good practice and I should keep it up.

This is my summer plan (June, July and August 2016):
(1) Finish one book review on the two crime fictions:
Memory Man by David Baldacci
The Leopard by Jo Nesbø
(2) Finish book review on Purity by Jonathan Franzen. After that, move on to the next book and the next
(3) Finish cleaning bathroom and bedroom
(4) Complete at least two-third of a professional article
(5) Learn 90 new German words
(6) Learn 3 German songs

I am going to share this with my daughter so that she can check my progress just as I check hers.

Summer programs, interests and career development

This is what I share with some people today regarding summer activities.

Summer is a good time for club activities, with once or twice a week meeting, like builder’s club (design models with Lego), weaver’s club (making stuffs with fabric or yarn), writer’s club, forensic club (solving crime mystery like lawyers), even origami club.

By the end of summer, you can either hold a contest or a show just to showcase children’s summer achievements.

Its benefits include developing or enhancing interests and making a good use of summer time.

For writing club, there are many writing contests nationally. We can encourage kids to participate in one of them.

Let’s try to avoid using class format. Class form sounds more formal and intimidating than club. You want kids to be relaxing and casual, like sitting in a round table with a lead instead of a teacher, an authority figure.

Regarding management of the kids, two things should work:
1. An agreement like a rule that kids should follow and the consequences for failing to follow.
2. A lead person, which anybody can play that role. You really want to develop leadership talent within instead of seeking outside authority.

It’s like the old style cadres who is elected within the group, even rotating that role. Why do we need a teacher to lead when we have leader within us? It’s like you don’t trust kids can manage themselves well or not?

If you want them to develop extraordinary skills and talents, it’s better to start with out-of-box thinking and unconventional teaching method. This way you can attract more people.

Of course, whoever leads, we have to give instructions and directions. There’s always the first time, which is the most challenging part. Once we pass that challenge, road ahead should be smoother

It’s better to experiment with new approaches of learning and class management. You don’t want your class to be one of those after school knowledge cramming activities. You want to leave a legacy of being unique in developing full potential in each one of the participants.

I think most people are still encased in the conventional concept about education, that is, its purpose is to learn some knowledge. You have to realize that there are plenty of people with knowledge. But without the ability to utilize or maximize their knowledge, in the end, they cannot escape the fate of being nothing but an instrument at other people’s hands.

Try to learn more skills in one activity

I was asked to teach a group of children how to make origami. I want them to learn more than just origami making skill. I hope they can get the habit of trying to learn more skills from one activity or see the activity as a project that involves problem-solving skill.

Below are the questions that I have prepared for the children before class.

(1) Why do you want to learn origami?
My answer: have fun; gift ideas for classmate’s birthday; Xmas gift for teachers; donation; sell it among your friends so that you will have some money for your parents or friends’ birthday gifts and you don’t have to ask your parents for whatever you want to buy. I hope children will feel motivated if they have a big plan.

(2) What would you do if you forget some part of what we learn in class?
My answer: this requires your problem-solving ability. You can make friends with those who have learned it in class or who show special talent here, ask these friends for help. Remember nobody is good at everything. We are all good at something. You can help others with what you are specially good at. The key is we need to help each other. Asking help is the best compliment to your friends.

(3) It will involve a lot of work and time. What would you do if you need help to get more done and you don’t have enough time?
My answer: this again requires your problem-solving ability and other skills. You can teach your siblings, parents or friends, so that they can help you. You need to realize one person’s ability is very limited. It often takes a team to get something done. The best part of this is you can form a team with you being the boss.

(4) How do you get others’ help?
My answer: you can promise something, depending on what your parents like most. Such as, practice piano for one extra hour, do laundry on weekend, share with them your proceeds, etc. You will need to enhance your ability to convince people to work for you. The key here is to keep your promise.

Based on what we just talk, you can see that potentially you can learn both soft and hard skills, which are a lot more than origami making. How much you can learn from this activity depend totally on you.

The child is the mirror of the parents

If you want child to be great, be a great parent first.
If you want respect from your child, respect your child first.
If you raise your voice at your child, the child will learn the same mode of communication.
If you let go your temper, the child will never know self control.
If you waste your default time, your child will do the same.
If you harbor prejudice against others, your child will share your prejudice.
If you spare proper your child proper discipline in the name of love, complain not when you are child does not turn out to be what you want him to be. When you complain about your child, look inward for explanation.

The child is the mirror of the parents. The child is the product of your parenting. Nothing comes from nothing.

You can help your child become a happy adult, part 2

We know being nice ourselves is very crucial to maintain good relationships in life. In case, you might ask what I mean by being nice, here are some examples of being nice.
(1) Never say hurting words.
(2) Never raise your voice even in anger or madness
(3) Respect all
(4) Don’t hold a grudge against anyone
(5) Be considerate of others
(6) Speak out calmly when you are upset.

I am thinking of my father when I make this list. He was all of them except the last one. He kept it all to himself when he was upset or felt hurt because he’d rather hurt himself than hurting others. That’s why he died young 29 years ago.

Some people may say, “I have to shout it out when somebody makes me mad.” Here are three quick facts.

First, the world abounds with people who are for some unknown reason either unfriendly or hostile by nature. Their life mission might be out to upset others and trigger mad reactions. This much you cannot control and do not have to worry about.

Second, nothing can be resolved by shouting. Instead, losing your cool only result in making things worse.

Third, you have to learn anger management so that you can express yourself nicely when you are upset. Angry people cannot be happy themselves and cannot make others happy.

Here’s one trick about anger management. It works for people of all ages, very basic and nothing fancy. When you are angry or mad, tell yourself, time to take a deep breath and count. Count slowly until you know you have calmed down, easy and effective. It’s not difficult to do it if you get into the habit of doing it. We are all product of our habit.

Don’t expect other people to be nice all the time. Don’t expect others not to provoke you. Don’t find excuses for yourself, like I have a bad temper, etc. Don’t blame others for your bad behavior.

Being nice is both easy and difficult. It is easy if you internalize it and have your temper or rather bad temper under control. Difficult if you let go yourself without self-discipline.

Here’s the good news. It’s easy to teach your child to be nice when you start young. To do that, a parent need to present himself as a living example of a nice person.

Start teaching your children to be nice persons if you wish them a happy life.

You can help your child to become a happy adult

Here’s something that parents seldom talk about when their children are young. Consider this question– what is the ultimate thing that you want your child to have in life? A happy life, right? Next, what is the key to a happy life? Wealth? Success? Fame? None of them. Many studies have confirmed this one — a good relationship. And I totally concur with it.

Yes, you are right. Having and maintaining a good relationship is something parents seldom or never talk about to their children. How do you maintain a good relationship? Easy. Just do one thing: Be a nice person yourself. Do parents often tell their children how to be nice persons? From my limited observation, I don’t think so. Probably because most parents assume their children are nice already. Parents may ask, why do we need to teach our children to be nice when they are as perfect as angels? Is it really?

Here’s the cognitive trap that parents don’t realize. A good son and a good husband are two totally different things. A filial child does not automatically make a loving spouse. A parent might praise a bold act of his child while others might see the same act as being brazenly impolite and void of proper upbringing. Like one person that I know of, he is considered by his parent as a perfect man but is seen by others as just the opposite. As the old saying goes, love is blind. It is especially true when it comes to parental love.

That’s why parents ignore teaching their “perfect angels” to be nice persons.
To be continued…

One big SECRET about Young People

I wrote about this before. I am sharing this again as I think it rather important as a reminder to young folks.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate resources and wealth with young people, especially young and unemployed. Instead they think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own wealth. With the old, their resource is money; with the young, their resource is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. The old does not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resource. They squander away their resources while they are young. For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives. Rather pathetic!

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME and time is something money cannot buy.

“Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone”

Finally, there is something free from Harvard Medical School email. I am tired of seeing emails from Harvard Medical School. They often tell readers a tiny bit of something, then click here if you want to read more about it. This will take you to an order site where you have to pay about $20 for the article.

Last week, I read this one for FREE, “Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone.” Here’s the whole article.

“The diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs, plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity.

All of us are born with the knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to the practice of “sucking in” the stomach for a trimmer waistline encourages us to gradually shift to shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing.”

Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone. Diaphragmatic breathing (also called “abdominal breathing” or “belly breathing”) encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

But it’s especially important for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD, air can become trapped in the lungs, which keeps the diaphragm pressed down. This causes it to weaken and work less efficiently. Diaphragmatic breathing can help people with COPD strengthen the diaphragm, which in turn helps them use less effort and energy to breathe.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Lie on your back on a flat surface (or in bed) with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support, if that’s more comfortable.

2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.

3. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.

4. Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.

You can also practice this sitting in a chair, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed. Practice for five to 10 minutes, several times a day if possible.”

College and your future job — Don’t have to be related

For most of science and technology majors, such as biology, chemistry, etc., students often use what they learn in classmate on their first job. Still, with these majors, college graduates don’t have to use what they are taught at college. Like you don’t have to work in a lab with biology or chemistry major.

You might be wondering: what is the use of college education if you don’t use it in your future job? Also, if you don’t use it, you forget it, like you have not learned anything. Well, if you forget, that means you don’t need it. If you need it, you will always be able to pick it up.

Number one, you form lifelong friendship and important connections during those college years.
Number two, you learn different ways of thinking, which should be critical one.
Number three, you learn lot of general theories, which you can apply to your life in general.
Number four, you get a college degree, which is still valued in many places.

Of course, there are a lot more than this. The bottom line is don’t restrict your future self with your college majors. If you do, you are very much trapped down and never rise above.

One thing you need to watch out during your first five years fresh out of college, that is, don’t be a lifer in one place.

Notable events during this weekend, 4/2 – 4/3

As always, weekend rushes by too quickly for me. These are major events for me during last weekend.

(1) My son called on Saturday afternoon, which always fills my heart with joy and delights.
(2) My daughter texted me.
(3) I met a young man at Overland Park Convention Center on Saturday morning. He is one year older than my son, coming from Myanmar to the USA on refugee status. He met his wife here. He needs to earn more money in order to support his mother and 21 children of his relatives back in Myanmar. He works at a staffing company, which doesn’t pay much.
(4) I resumed contact with a college classmate of mine, whom we have not been in touch since graduation in 1982.
(5) I met two Chinese parents at Barnes & Noble’s, talking about their parenting initiative.
(6) I completed FAFSA for my daughter’s college financial aid for the coming academic year.
(7) Read and wrote

Startup, Baby, and Responsibilities

I heard someone referring his startup company as his baby. You have to babysit it or watch it closely at its early stage. Like a mother who is thinking of her baby all the time or whenever she is free, a startup founder thinks of its company all the time, too. This is a good strategy to keep teenagers occupied.

If you want your teenager to steer away from trouble or to do something more meaningful other than wasting time on gaming or social media or if you want your teenager to take advantage of his extra energy and time for something potentially beneficial, engage him in a startup and assign him the full responsibility for its survival.

Kids love responsibilities. They see it as a heavy dose of respect and trust in their ability. In fact, parents can start this as early as the teen is ready for it. It is also great for resume building.

Remove mental blocks, never say I can’t, Think how you do it…

This I always encourage my children. That is, there is something called mental block, which is self-inflicted obstacles, restricting us from trying new realms, stepping out of comfort zone, or opening mouths asking for an opportunity. I want my children to totally liberate themselves mentally when they think what they can do. Remove all forms of mental blocks. Focus on how to do it. The sky is the limit.

Never think that I can’t because I don’t have proper training for doing this or I don’t have experience in this area or I don’t have a degree majoring in this field. It doesn’t matter what your major is or what your background is. Apply for the position or share your enthusiasm, your passion when you think you can do it.

All you need to do is to show your work, if you have or to ask for an opportunity to prove yourself.

On 3/25 post, I mentioned that I applied for the position left vacant by one RN colleague. I applied for that at the beginning of 2014, which I was rejected on the ground of my lack of nursing background. I know I can do it even without nursing background in this healthcare environment. So I applied again. Last Wednesday, on 3/30, the hiring manager came over to inform me that I got this position. At first, it sounded so unreal.

I believe once a person is given the opportunity to prove him or herself, nothing is impossible.

You have to take a risk, get out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve big in life

I read this piece some weeks ago, “8 things I learned from The Martian as a young entrepreneur” I forgot if I have shared them here. The list is not long. I will post it again even if I have already.

1. One thing at a time
2. Keep an eye on all the resources you have and try to manage costs effectively
3. You have to take a risk and get out of your comfort zone, go big or go home
4. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together
5. Others can help you but you are still the one who takes all the responsibility and face the difficulties
6. Whatever you do, be the best at it, know what you do
7. Only work with the best
8. Don’t afraid to try something new, don’t afraid to fail and never give up

If you think you are smart, that means one thing to others : contribute more

I started teaching my son math in his early age so that he would excel over others at least in one field. Being outstanding in one field would give him a good feeling and boost his self-esteem.

When he indeed excelled in math and thought highly of himself in primary school, I told him this,
If you think you are smart and capable, that means one thing to others, that is, contribute one.

Other people won’t admire you and applaud your achievements as your mother does. The main thing that they care is how much they can give to them. If you cannot share a penny of your gain with others, your wealth means nothing to them. You may say sharing is all they care and all that means to them.

I am not sure if he could understand it at that time. As years go by, I hope my children still remember it and come to appreciate this.

Progress with my son’s work… what a delight!

Last Sunday, five days after his birthday, my son told me that their product now has around 8000 users/customers. I was extremely excited about it, so excited that I wasn’t able to go to sleep for a long time that night.

Prior to this, I was worried about his company. What would they do if they don’t have enough users to generate revenue, especially when they run out of sponsors’ money? The three boys have given up so much for this. They did get some publicity after my son’s presentation at Money 20/20 in October 2015. It’s been a few months since their initial launch last October.

I know my son very well. I know he would not give up if this one didn’t work out. He would try another one. But he has worked on this one for about two years and I wish strongly that he will make it work this time. I think this is his fourth or fifth or even sixth startup, counting those he started during college years. I was worried especially around his birthday. I know his girlfriend is eager to get settled down. It will be five years after his college graduation. I know he has worked so hard all these years.

He keeps telling me not to worry. I should have listened to him. I am so happy for him that I kept thinking about it all day on Monday. I have to write it down here.

Life is a journey, guided by your dream, motivated by a passion

On my children’s birthday, I wanted to share this with them. In fact, I also want to remind myself that life is a journey, guided by a dream and motivated by a passion to do something greater than ourselves.

A dream is a goal that you want to achieve. No matter what age you are at, never give up life’s dream.

Like Hillary Clinton running for American presidency, not once but twice, when she is on the way to be 70 years old next year. Some call it ambition. Others call it aiming high. I simply call it dream.

Life is full of unexpected twists, turns, obstacles and hardships. The passion to rise above and achieve greatness motivates one to learn, prepare and endure however it takes to get closer to our dreams.

Happy Birthday, my dearest daughter!


My dearest daughter, far away from me now, I hope you are going to have another great day today. Do something special with your friends. Take some pictures and share with me.

Love you always.

Life is too short to not feel great…

I have been feeling low for the last few days, perhaps because of weather plus the departure of a good colleague plus having efiled federal tax. Sadness always comes to me when I finished something.

However today this thought suddenly hit me while I was still lying in bed — life is too short to feel sad, too short not to enjoy every minute of it. I quickly rejected myself out of bed and started feeling on top of the world.

Always remember this when you feel sad again. Life means nothing less than enjoying every minute of it!

By the way, it is a rainy day starting in the morning. When the sun refuses to come out, be the sun yourself. Be the sun for yourself. I will go to bookstore and library. I need to finish Kansas state tax return today.

Cover letter for a job application

This is what I wrote when I applied for a position today.

“Nine years ago when I applied for my current position, it took the hiring manager a giant leap of faith to give me an opportunity to thrive and contribute. At that time I did not have any experience in research and in the world of healthcare. I have realized this is a huge trust not only in my ability to learn and grow but also in my attitude and work ethic. I have proved to be worthy of this trust. Today, I apply for this position, hoping to be conferred the same trust again.

While I cannot guarantee that I will be error-free in this position, I can guarantee that I will bring the very best of myself to honor this position.”

I know the hiring manager, so I basically tell her that this is a matter of trust. If she doesn’t give me the job, it means one thing to me, that is, she doesn’t trust me, which is the key. In the beginning of 2014, I applied for this position and was turned down by her due to the fact that I didn’t have nursing background. Then later that year she offered another person, without nursing background, the same job that she denied me.

As with everything, man proposes, God disposes. This is all I can do. I will do my share and let fate take care of the rest.

A gloomy day, made sadder when being alone

It is two days after my son’s birthday and three days before my daughter’s. In between their birthdays, I am thinking of them and missing them a lot more than before.

Strange it was a cold gloomy March day, with spark of snow in the morning. My mood is always impacted by lack of sunlight. I tried to find reason for this. This is what I read today — “Unraveling the Sun’s Role in Depression –More Evidence That Sunlight Affects Mood-Lifting Chemical in the Brain.”

To be sure, I had a busy day at work, with a morning meeting at OP and a diligent monitor to keep me extra busy. Still, I felt the day being heavily blanketed with an unspeakable sadness. It is the last day of one of the colleagues who came to share the office with me in January 2015. We have had a good working relationship. Plus both of us are book lovers. We talked more about books and our own lives than about work during her stay here. Being aware of the fact that today is her last day surely makes the day sadder. Tomorrow I will be alone in this office.

I have to philosophize the day. In our life’s journey, we don’t know who we will encounter or when our path will cross or when we will part our ways. The only comfort is leaving a place, knowing that we have treated all in our path with honesty and respect.

The real boost of the day is — bringing out the very best of ourselves wherever we are and feeling no regret when we have to say goodbye.

Skin care myths and facts

This is something that I read sometime ago and I forgot when and where. Below is the whole thing that I have saved and am sharing it here, though I have to say that I don’t agree with the article 100 percent.

“Don’t fall for these skin myths

Think you know a lot about skin and skin care? You might be surprised at how much “common knowledge” about keeping your skin clear and healthy is simply not true.
Here, we debunk 10 common myths about skin.

1. The right skin cream can keep your skin looking young.

There are hundreds of skin treatments that claim to help you look younger or slow the aging process. For reducing wrinkles, the topical treatment with the best evidence behind it is retinoic acid (as in Retin-A). Many over-the-counter products contain retinoic acid, but it’s difficult to say if one is better than another. But the best ways to keep wrinkles at bay are using sunscreen and not smoking.

New information on treatments for both medical skin conditions and cosmetic problems is available in this updated Special Health Report on Skin Care and Repair. This report describes scientifically approved treatments for common medical conditions from acne to rosacea, as well as the newest cosmetic procedures for lines, wrinkles, age spots, and other problems. An explanation of the ingredients in popular skin lotions and cosmeceuticals is also included.

2. Antibacterial soap is best for keeping your skin clean.
Skin normally has bacteria on it. It’s impossible to keep your skin completely free of bacteria for any amount of time. In fact, many experts are concerned that the use of antibacterial soap could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibacterial soap is not necessary for everyday use. Regular soap is fine. Thorough and consistent hand-washing, not antibacterial soap, is what helps prevent the spread of infection.

3. Eating chocolate or oily foods causes oily skin and acne.
The truth is that an oily substance called sebum causes acne. It’s made and secreted by the skin. In fact, there’s no evidence that any specific food causes acne.

4. Tanning is bad for you.
Spending an excessive amount of time in the sun or in a tanning booth can increase skin cancer risk, especially if sunscreen is not used. Skin cancer risk is correlated with total lifetime sun exposure and frequency of sunburns. Excessive tanning can also damage skin, causing it to wrinkle and age prematurely.
But developing a light or gradual tan through repeated, but careful, sun exposure isn’t dangerous. As long as you’re taking precautions — such as using a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, applying it thoroughly and reapplying when necessary, and avoiding peak sun exposure times — a light tan with no burning isn’t a warning sign.

5. Tanning is good for you.
People often associate a dark tan with the glow of good health. But there’s no evidence that tanned people are healthier than paler people. Sun exposure does have a health benefit, though. Sunlight activates vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D helps keep bones strong, and may also lower the risk of certain cancers and boost immune function. Depending on how much vitamin D you’re getting in your diet, a lack of sun exposure could increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency.

6. The higher the SPF of your sunscreen, the better.
Above a certain level, a higher sun protection factor (SPF) has little added benefit compared with a lower SPF. Experts generally recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks out 97% of UVB radiation. It may be worth a higher SPF if you’re planning to be outside for more than two to three hours, especially during hours of peak sun exposure (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). But in most circumstances, a higher SPF may not be worth the extra cost.

7. A scar that is barely noticeable is the mark of a good surgeon.
The true skill of a surgeon is demonstrated by what he or she does between making and closing the incision. While surgeons routinely pay more attention to incisions on the face (using thinner suture, making stitches closer together, or avoiding the use of sutures altogether if possible), the appearance of a scar tells you little about the skill of your surgeon.

8. Vitamin E will make scars fade.
There’s little evidence to support this claim. Talk to your surgeon or dermatologist if you have concerns about the appearance of a scar. There are many options for improving the appearance of scars, including laser treatments.

9. Crossing your legs causes varicose veins.
There are a number of risk factors for varicose veins, but crossing your legs is not one of them. Heredity is one of the most important — an estimated 80% of people with varicose veins have a parent with the same condition. Other things that make a person prone to varicose veins include smoking, inactivity, high blood pressure, pregnancy, obesity, and having a job that requires prolonged standing. If you already have varicose veins, elevating your legs and using compression stockings may be helpful. But keeping your legs “uncrossed” won’t prevent or improve the condition.

10. Scalp massage can prevent baldness.
There’s simply no evidence that scalp massage prevents baldness, tempting as it is to believe.”

Happy Birthday, my great son!

Today is the 27th birthday of my son. I created this to celebrate the day. I wish him a happy birthday. I hope he will do something special to mark the day.

I am so proud of you, the greatest son of all!

Do the right thing always, no matter what you do

I chatted with a colleague of mine (sidekick) about doing the right thing today. She shared with me how she felt after going to the gym yesterday. Before that, she felt a bit reluctant, like “En, I don’t feel like going on treadmill today. I’m a bit tired. I’ll do it tomorrow, etc” But with a little effort, she conquered herself and did go. She said she felt great after exercise, even if she didn’t start this way. Her husband felt the same way.

I shared with her what I told my children. That is, do the right thing always because that’s the only way that makes you happy in the end. No matter what you do, either drinking or eating or smoking or exercise or gossiping or working, make no exceptions.

Sometimes, when we yield to our weakness we might experience a transient moment of pleasure like when we are over a buffet or when we indulge in gossiping about others or when we spend hours browsing aimlessly on the internet or when we drink or smoke or simply being lazy and skip our daily exercise. But what counts most is how you feel in the end.

Know what brain likes and what it needs to function well

I read this piece in Chinese a few weeks ago. Yesterday I translated it into English for my children and my readers here, hoping we all can benefit from this.

(1) Brain likes color. Color can help memorize things.
(2) Brain can focus well for only 25 minutes. Need a break after 25 minutes.
(3) Brain needs rest. If you feel tired, take a 20-minute nap.
(4) Brain needs high-quality fuel. Don’t feed it junk food.
(5) Brain needs water. It won’t functions well in dehydrated state.
(6) Brain likes challenges. Problem-solving enhance productivity.
(7) Brain has its own rhythm of the day. You can get more done during your brain’s prime time of the day.
(8) Brain and body often interact with each other. If your body acts lazily, brain will think you are not doing something serious. Pay attention to your posture while working on serious matters.
(9) Brain is impacted by smell.
(10) Brain needs oxygen. Get fresh air outdoor.
(11) Brain needs space. It helps brain if you work in a spacious room.
(12) Brain likes clean environment. Getting room organized helps brain to be more organized.
(13) Brain suffers damages from too much stress.
(14) Brain does not know what you can or cannot do. Self-talk gives hint to brain what you can or cannot do. Give positive self-talks!
(15) Brain is the same as muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
(16) Brain needs repetition to memorize well. More review, more memorized.
(17) Brain understand faster than your reading speed.
(18) Brain needs exercise.
(19) Brain puts things in their categories by using association. Association helps memory.
(20) Brain likes jokes and humor. You learn more when you are in good mood.

How to be a great employer

I don’t remember when I saved this article and where I read it but I remember that I am going to share it here for people like my son who is the head of his company. It is as well-said as it is rare in reality. I wish I could send this to the management team in my workplace. But I know better than that.

7 Proven Ways to Genuinely Connect With Your Employees
Communicating openly with your employees, recognizing them for good work, and giving them room to grow will vastly improve their engagement and your company’s bottom line, by PETER ECONOMY
What kind of difference would it make for your company to get every one of your employees excited about solving problems, making recommendations, expressing their new ideas, and taking care of your customers?

Every company today needs employees who are enthusiastic and who bring the very best of themselves to work. Companies need this not just from top performers but from every employee, every day, in order just to be competitive and survive, let alone thrive. The single element that distinguishes one company from another more than anything else is its people and the effort they exert.

The secret to unlocking this unlimited source of energy for your company is to build and strengthen the bonds between you and your employees. When you trust and respect your people–and really connect with them–they will respond with commitment and enthusiasm. Give these seven strategies for connecting with your employees a try and see for yourself how your organization will benefit.

1. Put people first.
All employees–no matter what their positions are or how well they perform their jobs–want to be respected and valued for their contributions. Respect comes in many different forms: respecting opinions, respecting time, respecting culture, and more. And respect is a two-way street. Employees also need to respect their employers and their own careers instead of viewing their jobs and salaries only as entitlements.

2. Create a safe haven.
In many organizations, bosses rule their employees through bullying, threats, and intimidation. Unfortunately, over the long term, fear causes employees to contribute less to their organizations and to disconnect both mentally (checking out, clamming up) and physically (absenteeism, resignation). Employees must feel safe when they take the initiative to try something new, whether or not the idea works. It’s your job to provide your people with a safe haven to bring forward their ideas, and to tell the truth–no matter how hard it may be for you to hear.

3. Break down barriers to information.
Information is power, and bosses have traditionally wielded this power by selectively granting information to employees or withholding it from them. Organizations today can no longer afford the practice of selective communication. Employees must be informed–through constant, complete, and unfettered communication by their co-workers, managers, and customers–about what’s going on in the organization and their place within it. Only when they have complete information can they and will they give all they have to their organization.

4. Create golden opportunities for personal growth.
Owners have an inherent interest in ensuring that their organizations get the biggest bang for their buck, that is, that revenue is maximized, expenses are minimized, and customers are consistently delighted with the products and services they receive. The granting of stock and other financial incentives is one way to develop a sense of ownership in employees. But there are many other nonfinancial ways that leaders can instill an owner’s mentality in the workplace, including giving employees real responsibility and authority to make decisions that affect their jobs and their work.

5. Undo the organization.
In the past, rigid, bureaucratic, and rule-bound organizations were the model of consistency, dependable results, and steady if not stellar profits. However, this old model of business is now officially extinct, and a new model of business–a lean model built on speed, flexibility, and the active involvement of frontline employees–has taken hold. When you give your employees the responsibility and the authority to do their jobs, you and your organization will be successful because you’re depending on them to do the right thing on their own instead of depending on policies and procedures that force them to do so.

6. Engage your people.
Although many organizations have spent a lot of time over the past few years developing and installing elaborate employee suggestion systems, few have made them a permanent part of the way they do business. Even fewer actually implement the good suggestions they receive. This is a mistake. Employees are a tremendous potential source of organizational improvement, and you should make it a point to regularly tap this wealth of ideas.

7. Make recognition a way of life.
Despite years of research proving the overwhelmingly positive effect of employee recognition on the bottom line, few bosses take the time to recognize and reward their employees for a job well done–and even fewer employees report that they receive either recognition or rewards at work. The amazing thing about this is that the most effective forms of employee recognition cost little or no money, such as verbal and written thank-you’s for employees who do a good job, and publicly celebrating team and group successes.

The relationship between meditation and wisdom

I read this article last week “The Relationship between Mental and Somatic Practices and Wisdom” by Patrick B. Williams1, Heather H. Mangelsdorf1, Carly Kontra1, Howard C. Nusbaum1, Berthold Hoeckner. The article is 14 pages long. Below are the key points that I collect from the article. The main thing is meditation helps increase your wisdom.

The article “explore possible mediating relationships of experience and wisdom by characteristics thought to be components of wisdom. Wisdom was higher on average among meditation practitioners, and lowest among ballet dancers,…”

“Common themes [of wisdom] include the skillful use of knowledge acquired through life experience, lowered anxiety in the face of difficult life decisions, careful reflection on the mental states of oneself and others, and action based in compassion and pro-social behavior.”

“wisdom is characterized as a deep and accurate perception of reality, in which insight into human nature and a diminished self-centeredness are acquired through life experience and practice in perspective taking..”

“Experimental research into the malleability of wisdom suggests that wisdom is affected by training specific strategies for gaining knowledge, inferring insight from personal experience, and viewing difficult situations from a distanced perspective…”

“Meditation is a practice long associated with the development of wisdom in Buddhist and Taoist traditions. Meditation may influence wisdom in multiple ways, for example by increasing interpersonal skills and by decreasing general anxiety through increased emotional self-regulation.”

“Wisdom is often characterized by the ability to face difficult situations with lowered stress and anxiety, and meditation may train the sort of emotional self-regulation that leads to this quiescent mental state. In experimental settings, brief meditation training has been associated with increased optimism and reduced recall of negative words, suggesting that meditation influences affect by reducing the impact of negative thoughts and stimuli.”

“…the results suggest that practicing emotional regulation in the course of meditation training leads to a decreased focus on negative thoughts and stimuli.”

13 things you should STOP doing right now to become more productive

I read this piece somewhere earlier this year. I thought of sharing them with my children but kept delaying until today. Then I forgot where I read it. I wish I could give someone some credit. Here are the key points.

Following are 13 things you should STOP doing right now to become more productive:
1. Impulsive web browsing
2. Multitasking–not to do
3. Checking email throughout the day
4. Moral licensing. This idea that we “deserve” to splurge on fancy meal after being thrifty for a week is called “moral licensing,” and it undermines a lot of people’s plans for self-improvement. Instead, try making your goal part of your identity, such that you think of yourself as the kind of person who saves money or works out regularly, rather than as someone who is working against their own will to do something new.

5. Putting off your most important work until later in the day
6. Taking too many meetings
7. Sitting all day with any exercise
8. Hitting the snooze button trying to delay getting up
9. Failing to prioritize

10. Over-planning–Many ambitious and organized people try to maximize their productivity by meticulously planning out every hour of their day. Unfortunately, very often things don’t always go as planned.
11. Under-planning– first determine what you want your final outcome to be, then lay out a series of steps for yourself. Once you’re halfway through, you can review your work to make sure you’re on track and adjust accordingly.
12. Keeping your phone next to your bed.

13. Perfectionism—More often than laziness the root of procrastination is the fear of noting doing a good job. “We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well … And that can take time.” The only way to overcome procrastination is to abandon perfectionism and not fuss over details as you move forward. Pretending the task doesn’t matter and that it’s OK to mess up could help you get started faster.

Preconception and expectations: How I Read Pat Conroy’s 2009 novel South of Broad

Preconception can channel one’s expectations. It can also narrow one’s vision. This is how I experienced when I was reading Pat Conroy’s 2009 novel South of Broad.

Before opening South of Broad, I knew that Pat Conroy writes in the tradition of southern literature. Hence, I expected the Faulkner ingredients in Conroy’s book, unearthly death, suicide of the best and the smartest one, promiscuity, incest, mental illness, unspeakable deviance, and the hollow aristocratic pride and prejudice of a dying world with undying people. It turns out Conroy’s book has all of them and much more. Wasn’t I right!

“… a priest appears in the room with his arm around the throat of a struggling, naked boy. The boy is beautiful and blond; the priest is handsome, virile, and strong. The boy tries to scream, but the priest stops him with a hand around his mouth. The boy struggles, but he is overpowered and raped by the priest, and raped brutally,…”

That rape leads to Steve’s suicide. Leo King, the protagonist and Steve’s younger brother, and his family “suffered a collective nervous breakdown” after they buried the boy. Another person, Leo’s father, dearest to Leo, died when Leo was 18 years old.

The twin, Sheba and Trevor Poe, were sexually abused as children by their father who, “started out as a run-of-the-mill pedophile; …had a bad habit of eating his own feces.” In the end, this is what the father did to Sheba, “…unrecognizable if you didn’t know her, lies the hideous, mangled corpse of the radiantly beautiful American actress Sheba Poe. She has stab wounds all over, even to her face and both eyes…”

Leo married Starla Whitehead, who suffers “borderline personality disorder” and also commits suicide. At the end of the book, events happened to Leo and to his loved ones turn into a “galvanic nightmare,” so much as that Leo’s life falls apart. He caves in to the black hole of depression, becoming suicidal himself. He has to check into a psychiatric ward to regain his sanity.

This is how my preconception of southern literature leads me to read out of Conroy’s South of Broad novel and how I remember the book.

For the record, I picked up this book because a colleague of mine recommended the author. Of course, after my reading, I went back to my colleague with this question, “What is it that you like this author so much?” She mentioned the heart-warming friendship of the group of middle aged folks when they flew out to San Francisco to look for one of their high school buddies–Trevor.

This is how the story goes. About 20 years after their high school graduation, Sheba, now a famous movie actress came back to Charleston, asking her high school friends to help find her twin brother, Trevor, whom she believes is dying of AIDS. Leo, Frazer, Molly, Niles, Ike, Betty, together with Sheba all went with her to San Francisco. They were there for about two weeks before they located and brought back their friend.

I was not impressed by this part at first. I tried to disqualify this as being too far-fetched. Partly because I was expecting deviant elements to live up to my self-fulfilling prophecy in south literature; partly because I was truly not familiar with the close-knit, inter-related small town life like Charleston.

I was reminded that such friendship was possible in small towns where people grow up together, play in the same high school football team; go to the same local college, and back to work in the same town. In this book, they become further inter-related through marriage, Niles marries Frazer, Chad’s sister; Leo marries Starla, Niles’ sister. Molly becomes part of the clan through marriage with Chad. Sheba and Trevor are friends to all of them.

No doubt that I was initially restricted by my own preconceptions and experience. That is, I didn’t grow up in a small community like this. Still, I cannot tell if the novel is a fictional rendition of the author’s overall cheerful sentiment about human society or realistic depiction of a small southern town life.

It’s been a few weeks since I returned the book to our local library. The characters and the tragic events are still vivid in my mind. The paradox that challenged me has remained unresolved. I cannot shake off the irony posed in the book about traditional society. That is, a close-knit community that has retained many traditional values and features is supposed to reach out to everyone and provide more channels of social, emotional and psychological support than modern society does, be it in the form of church or family or friends, so that people would not resort to suicide.

The irony in the book is, in the end, none of them works for Leo King, just as none of them ever works for his brother Steve who succeeds in taking his own life. When all else fails and when Leo became “the most suicidal client who has ever walked into her (Dr.) office,” he has to be saved by modern medicine and was signed into the psychiatric ward of the Medical University Hospital of South Carolina, a modern and rather dehumanized institution to a traditional society.

When I discussed this paradox with my colleague, I was reminded of the fact that in many small communities like the one in the book, people are trapped in this façade of their moralistic upbringing. They are nice and polite to each other, but they choose not to share with each other their dirty linen. They are more concerned with preserving the surface of their little perfect life than being psychologically healthy. I must admit that I have tread into an area that I am not familiar with.

No doubt this is another thought-provoking novel that I have read this year.

It is so easy to get trapped down by your surroundings

I don’t know what happened to me last Friday when I wrote to one of the upper management of going to conferences. I don’t mean that I shouldn’t have written that email. I should. And I should feel good after sending it out. After all, they don’t know and don’t care what you think. It is up to me to make myself understood.

What actually bothers me is I should not feel upset at all. Why did I feel so upset? The fact I feel upset shows that I got myself trapped down by the workplace surroundings. I should always keep myself above and beyond what is going on around me, instead of allowing it to disturb my equilibrium.

Now think how not to get myself trapped down by the going-on like last Friday.

Kansas City 220 Rally for Peter Liang

This is the article that I wrote for KC Star, that I mentioned in my last post.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Last Saturday, February 20, 2016, history was in the making. A new chapter began in the Chinese-American fight for equality and justice when over tens of thousands Chinese Americans in over 40 American cities walked peacefully on the streets protesting the injustice against former NYPD probationary officer, Peter Liang.

Such large turnout of protesters is totally unprecedented in Chinese Americans history. This is the first time that Chinese Americans united as one behind a brother and it represents a kind of political coming-of-age for the community.

Liang was charged with second-degree manslaughter over what William J. Bratton, the New York police commissioner, called an “accidental” shooting death of Akai Gurley. He could face up to 15 years prison time.

Protesters believe Liang has been scapegoated to release tensions between the African-American community and the New York City Police Department. They believe Liang is a victim of selective justice, especially in light of the aftermath of Eric Garner’s death by a white office. In this context, he appears to have been convicted to assuage dissatisfaction over the acquittal of white officers. The Chinese Americans throughout the country have never been so enraged.

The protesters carried these banners and slogans,
“Justice not politics”
“One Tragedy, Two Victims”
“Equal Justice, No scapegoating”
“No Selective Justice”
And Martin Luther King Jr.’s words — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The Chinese community in Kansas City shared the indignation over the injustice against Peter Liang. When they came out last Saturday, they first offered condolences to the family of Akai Gurley. Below is their statement to the press.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today, the Chinese community in the greater Kansas City Area have joined hundreds of Chinese communities across the country to march the Martin Luther King March. Over 200 local Chinese Americans rallied in downtown Overland Park to show solidarity for Peter Liang.

Their message is loud and clear–
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“No selective justice.”

Tomorrow, we will fight wherever justice is denied, whatever the color of his skin. We want the world to know that Chinese Americans are not a silent minority. We will continue following the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. for the realization of a shared dream: equality and justice for all!

What has happened to my article to KC Star

This is what happened last week in regard to my article submitted to KC Star. I sent my article to the editor of As I See It section on the morning of 2/23, then again the next morning trying to get an update. I needed to get back to a group of Chinese friends. On 2/25, when I still have not heard from that editor, I wrote to another one on 2/25.

I said, “I don’t really want to bother you. But I do want to know whether or not S.P. is in the office this week. I have not heard from him, even though I have tried to reach him twice this week. If he is not in the office, what would you recommend me to do regarding the article that I submitted this Tuesday? Appreciate your help.”

That editor was very prompt in getting back to me. He wrote, “His desk number is 816-234-4762. If he doesn’t want to run it, we’ll have to wait until your next event for coverage. I know you are keenly interested in this issue, but because it’s mainly a New York story, we would judge that it doesn’t matter so much to readers around the KC area. There are many such community actions we don’t cover for just that very reason. Regards”

So he has been in the office all these days and still pretends like he has not read my email. When you are ignored and left no other options, how would you feel? I need to let him know how I feel at the moment.

“It is very kind of you to write back.
I was fully aware of the fact that my article would not go down well with some people…
Back to my communication with your As I See It editor, you know, it is one thing that he doesn’t want to use my article for whatever reason which I don’t take personally; it is entirely a different matter that there is a lack of professionalism and the basic courtesy to even do one acknowledgement. Your editor has employed the most effective tool against someone he doesn’t like, that is, by totally ignoring that someone as if that one is beneath his time and attention, that my voice has been ignored for whatever excuses. To say I don’t feel hurt is a lie.

But realistically speaking, what option do I have? None. I already know he has decided to ignore me for some unknown reason. Calling him to confirm what I’ve already known? No. What purpose does it serve to dig him out and confront him by calling him? None. I am speechless in face of such a lack of professionalism. It is like a child play, hiding behind his computer as if he had not received my email. I once worked for China Daily, an English language newspaper in China. To put things in perspective, in the long run, this is one unique experience of mine, hopeful once in lifetime.

Once again, thank you for getting back to me. Appreciate this greatly especially in this context.

I really don’t mince my words here, because I am sure they don’t care. So, go ahead ignoring me. I don’t care either.

On 2/26, the editor for As I See It wrote to me, finally. Too late, I am already upset.
“Keith forwarded your notes to me, and I obviously need to explain that I get dozens of submission every week and have only so much space for them. You should not take my miscommunication as a personal affront. The fact is, I only have so much space and time to consider these. I generally only respond to the people whose submissions I’m considering. I have not even read yours yet, and probably won’t get to it until next week

We only run one or two As I See It columns a week. The pipeline is always full. And I will suggest to you what I tell others: You would more likely be published on a timely basis if you resubmit your piece as a letter to the editor, at a maximum of 200 words.
Thanks for understanding,”

I wrote to him, with due respect in due time. I didn’t tell him that I thought he deliberately ignored me because he is prejudiced against Asian Americans, which I am not sure of and I will never know. And I also didn’t tell him that he only reads email from Keith and gets back to me only because of Keith email. Is Keith your boss or what?

“Thank you for your explanation.
I don’t want to sound like whining for attention. However, I do believe one short acknowledgement to the sender as a due courtesy is better than a total silence. Silence can be interpreted in many different ways. I thought you tried to ignore me which left me no other options. I hope you could understand that being ignored together with having no option does not give people a good feeling.

I am not going to do a letter to the editor, for two reasons. 1) It is a time-sensitive event. 2) A letter to the editor does not stand as high notability as other options. To be honest, I don’t want to sound like an average reader because I am not. Being a Chinese and writing about Chinese Americans objectively can be a challenge. I will continue writing on Chinese American communities in the future and I do want our voices to be heard. I hope you can appreciate my being honest.
Thank you for your response.”

He still tried to explain,
“I certainly understand your position, and I would welcome a piece from you about Chinese American issues, which, I agree, are vastly under-represented in the media. But my time for editing that column is very limited and I can’t possibly respond to everyone who offers an unsolicited submission. My time frame for answering people who have offered something I can use is usually within a few weeks, which is not unreasonable in the publishing world. And though you’re right that an OpEd column is a little more high profile than a letter, those column spots are very limited and the letters column is generally very popular.

As I said, I’ll take a look at your piece next week.”
I gave him the last word, “Again, thank you for the explanation. I should have known. Have a nice day.”

I am not sure if he realized or not that his one short reply to my initial email could have avoided it all. Some people never learn anything. I don’t know if that editor is one of that some people. It is such an agonizing experience. For now, I want to put it all behind me.

Work becomes more and more irrelevant, a rough week for me…

It’s not been a pleasant week for me. But by Friday, when I attended a zoom meeting at work, I was more upset than before. Our workplace sends people to attend this or that conferences either in Hawaii or San Francisco or Chicago or some other more scenic place. I don’t know why I have never been given an opportunity to attend any of them, even though other colleagues doing the same job have been to more than one conferences. I simply don’t understand why. I mean I can present papers, high quality ones, at these conferences, better than the majority of them. They know this. They have read what I have written and have paid enough insincere lip services. I feel like they deliberately shut me out of it.

This morning when the same topic was presented and when I saw other people going here and there. I couldn’t remain silent any more. So I wrote to the meeting host via private chat, asking her why. She said she would relate the question to K, the top one in our department. I told her not to, because I would rather tell K myself, even though I’m sure she will report to K everything.

I wrote to K, “The reason I keep writing to you is I believe in telling the truth. Why don’t we ever have a chance of attending any of these conferences that were mentioned during this morning’s meeting?” Of course, I didn’t tell her all the truth, especially the truth about one of my colleagues’ leaving.

I expect her coming up with some explanation, that is, telling the truth as why I have been neglected in this regard. But I was disappointed when I received her email, “You can…just let [my manager] know. We try to support travel for any staff person 1) that’s been with clinical trials (CCP and ACP) organization for at least one year and 2) is in good performance standing (i.e. is not on a performance improvement plan). Have you let [my manager] know you are interested in attending a conference?”

I don’t know what to say. My manager never cares and never mentions any of these conferences at all! I was very very upset. I know I shouldn’t care. The fact is I feel more and more irrelevant at work. Still, I wrote back to her politely, “Thank you for getting back to me. Have a nice day.”

People are limited in terms of their ability to think beyond their own interests. I have found many people around me feel irrelevant at work, which explains why we have such a high employee turnover rate. It’s beyond my pay range to worry about this. I only record one of my experiences there.

By the way, one of my colleagues just had an interview this afternoon. I know she will leave soon. No wonder. I even have prepared a goodbye card for her.

My to-do list for this weekend, 2/13/2016

Last weekend I made a list and planned to start from that list, but I didn’t follow through because of Chinese New Year. The first day of Chinese New Year is 2/8/2016. People started getting busy a few days before that, with red bags sending around wechat groups, news and events, plus the annual spring festival gala, starting at 6 AM Sunday morning. I got caught up in it, and then I gave myself excuse for abandoning my plan.

Now the festival is over. I’m getting back to my daily weekend routine. Here’s the list of things for this weekend.

(1) Complete my review on book South of Broad.
(2) Read two books, one on game theory, one Join the Club, not planning to finish them both.
(3) Alternate reading with rooming cleaning

Set the timer before starting the work. Do it now. I will report the result next weekend.

How to get back to your New Year Resolution

Obviously time flies by without our catching it and without finding me getting anywhere in meeting my New Year Resolution. See how the first month of the new year is gone now! Today is the first day of the second month of the still new year.

Looking back at last month, I am sorry to say I have behaved like before and have not been as productive as I have promised myself. I can see how month slips by like before without me accomplishing anything. And I don’t want this month repeats last month or this year repeat last year.

This is what I have to do in order to have a more productive year than previous ones. On the first day of each month, I will ask myself this question: what do you want to achieve for this month? Lay out specific short-term goals for each week.

This is what I have for this month:
For daily brain exercise:
Memorize one investment term a day for this month. Review them daily.
For daily physical exercise:
Walk briskly for 30 minutes a day plus 100 jumprope a day
For daily reading
Read about Game Theory at least 30 minutes a day;

Week1: finish writing the first draft of two articles: (1) book review on South of Broad (2) the article on working with the monitor;

Week2: contact ACRP the MONITOR journal for publishing the monitor article; contact others if no reply; editing them if there is a need; work on an article on the two war memoir novels. Explore the topic of AE reporting for the second article to be published;

Week3: complete at least one book review on the book that I have finished reading;

Week4: write a piece on game theory.

I have so many books lying around on the floor that I have planned to read but never find time for them. I will read them if I have met my goals for the week.

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