42 tips and tricks for brain health


My son came back yesterday. I translated the following from Chinese to English for both of my children.

(1) Eat with your eyes closed. This will force you to rely on other organs.
(2) Eat more Lecithos-rich food. e.g. peanut, soybean, Edamame
(3) Carry some different coins with you. Try to tell with your fingers which is which.
(4) Watch TV without sound. Try to understand the show from what you see only.
(5) Dink coffee or tea with your nose pinched. Use your tongue to smell it.
(6) Read out loud. Send to your brain what you see.
(7) Learn a foreign language
(8) Do something that you sub-consciously would not do, like trying a whole new dish, taking a new route to a familiar place.
(9) Take a detour to a known place and use your brain to get back
(10) Try using your left hand, if you are not left-handed, to brush your teeth or do something using a different hand
(11) Drink yogurt
(12) Take a break or a walk or deep breath before learning
(13) Go to new places
(14) Try to see things from different angle or perspective
(15) Have a nourishing breakfast
(16) Take a longer time to chew before you swallow
(17) Walk fast, exercise
(18) Use timer to manage your time. Take a break when time is up.
(19) Create joy. Joyful moment is beneficial to your brain.
(20) Determine if your left brain is more developed than the right one or vice versa. You are happiest when you use the side that is more developed.
(21) Have enough sleep
(22) Eat food rich in curcumin which helps fight dementia
(23) Have regular exercise
(24) Shut down the cellphone at a regular interval, so that you can concentrate your brain
(25) frown occasionally, which helps you focus
(26) Keep up with news, new ideas, and new development
(27) Use images. One way to help memorize is to link a concept with a picture.
(28) Create chaos to challenge your brain.
(29) Confirm yourself. Give yourself a hint that you can do it, which helps you reach your goal.
(30) Play games that requires your hands and feet, which helps improve your reaction speed.
(31) Read the writings written by smart people.
(32) Write often, write what you think
(33) Go to museum, which helps reduces stress and tension.
(34) Play puzzles, sudoku, brain-teasers, chess, etc.
(35) Use your fingers
(36) Eat dark chocolate and drink grape wine
(37) Play music instrument.
(38) Drink coffee.
(39) Have a hobby
(40) Make comments in appropriate places
(41) Throw into trash your calculator
(42) Go back to Nature. Crowded and noisy urban environment is detrimental to your memory and your self-control ability.



My son came back yesterday


Yesterday noon, we drove to the airport to get my son home. He came back from New York City to spend a week with us. He will be going back next Sunday, 8/2. It’s not a long visit, still I already feel blessed with his coming. It’s a highly joyful moment for all of us seeing him back. He is such a wonderful boy!

I will work half a day next week, that is, 4 hours each day from 7 to 11 AM. Since my sidekick is also off on vacation next week, I’d better not take the whole week off this time. Plus, my son also works remotely while he is with us.

I am the happiest mom so far!



One of my favorites, Marie Curie’s quote


We had our monthly CTO meeting at CRC today. During the meeting, the person presiding the meeting mentioned a quote of Marie Curie, which happens to be my favorite,

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

On the way back to office, I took the road less taken. I think of the fact that the other adult in the household always takes Ward Parkway to KC plaza, averting the unfamiliar ones. I like to try different routes, the unfamiliar one, the more adventuous, the more chance to discover something new, the better. Try and learn something new everyday. Isn’t that what life is all about!



“How does your memory work?”


I read this one on 2/22/2014, “How does your memory work?” I thought of sharing it here.

“To remember something your brain goes through the following process:
First your brain consciously registers the memory, a process called encoding. The reason most people don’t remember a name straight away is because you haven’t encoded the name – perhaps because you weren’t paying full attention. Next, the brain must consolidate the memory, followed by the last step which is called retrieval.

The best way to improve your memory is to keep remembering the same thing, over and over again. This strengthens the neural pathway to the memory. There are other things you can do to improve your memory; get a regular sleep pattern, eat a balanced diet and exercise often.”

Here’s what I have learned:
(1) Pay attention if you really want to remember it
(2) Review what you just remember, reinforcing it helps make it permanent
e.g. if you want to memorize a piece of poem, commit it to memory first, then review it again and again until you can retrieve it without your active thinking, like the time table you learned when you were little.



Thought of the day–you need to know the way to reach your goal


This has been a busy week so far. My sidekick is off on vacation for two weeks. Physicians kept coming with new research patients. On top of that, there are three morning meetings this week, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, I try to make it relevant to my personal agenda.

Today, while at the meeting at Westwood, I thought of this quote, “If you’re only willing to do what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you’re willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.” – T. Harv Eker

As if life won’t be easy if you don’t do the hard work. As if only hard work can make your life easy. Sometimes, it seems the opposite is true. Life is not easy even if you have worked hard. You must know how to work hard in the right way.

It’s like you work very hard going east when your destination is west. You have to know the right way to reach your goal, with full speed.



One of the reasons why I am so eager to leave this office 2


On the morning of 6/25/2015, we had a meeting at another location from 7:30 to 8:30. Also that morning, there was a monitor scheduled to come at 8:30. It turned out that the monitor was told by one of my colleagues that I started working at 7 AM, which meant she could come early if she wanted. This she did. The front desk lady told me she showed up at 7:50. Of course, I was still at the meeting at another location.

The front office supervisor wrote to my manager at 8:27 AM that morning, “I have a Monitor here and she says [my name] knew she was coming but neither her or [my sidekick] are here and she cannot stay long she has other appointments and a flight to catch. Please help with direction.”

The next day I explained to my manager, “Yesterday’s [study name] monitor came to south clinic earlier than the schedule because she said someone at OP office told her I go to the office at 7 AM.” The manager, instead of taking my words as true, came back challenging me, “She arrived around 8:30 which was her scheduled time.”

Neither the manager nor I were at south office at the time when the monitor came. How did she know when the monitor came? 7:50 is 40 minutes ahead of her scheduled time. Both the monitor and the front desk lady told me she showed up earlier than schedule. Why did my manager challenge what I told her, as if I lied to her?

It upsets me every time I think of this. Some people say hurtful words or hurting others without thinking. My manager belongs to that some people. I don’t think it is her intention to hurt but she did it. Well, for me, it is time to put it behind me and move on. Let’s try to forget uncomfortable things in life, as if they never had happened.



One of the reasons why I am so eager to leave this office


For some reason, I thought of this early in the morning today while I was doing math exercise. It bothers me a bit when I think of it. So I thought the best way to put it behind me is to record it here.

There is one reason that I felt specially pushed to leave this office. It is the manager. To be fair, like all of us, she is a good person with limitations, that is, she is rather gullible to what people say to her. But that limitation hurts decent person like me in particular, because I make it my principle not to say bad things about anybody to my manager.

Here’s how bitching words about me got around. When I worked at our SW office, I was with someone who seems to make it her mission in life to gossip about others. To be fair, she is also a good person or at least she has the desire to be good. But the flaws in her character often ends up being detrimental or even sabotaging to others.

Specially, that colleague of mine lacks the guts to say what she wants to say in front of the people. Instead, she badmouths her colleagues to the manager, colleague like me, a nonwhite minority who she strongly dislikes. Also, when a mistake of hers is found, she blames other for her mistakes, with me being that other.

Second weakness is her lack of the self-discipline to watch her mouth and not to gossip about others. For some unexplained reasons, she simply couldn’t stop gossiping about others. This baffles me tremendously.

It yields some horrible consequences for me when I was around that person before 3/2014. This I didn’t know until I left SW for south office and until I had some exchanges with the manager who distrusts me and my ability, and of course, dislikes me, believing I am a liar, all totally for no reason at all. I’ll show why she distrusts me tomorrow.

Now you understand why I have been constantly looking for jobs. Too bad, I don’t have the luck to land on anything and now, as I am approaching six decades of life, I am losing the drive to drive around.



Go to art classes, best way to fight memory loss…


On 7/14, while at office, I read this article from BBC site, “What’s the best way to fight memory loss?”

They had an experiment using 30 volunteers. The volunteers were then randomly allocated to three groups and asked to do a particular activity for the next eight weeks. The scientists did their battery of cognitive tests before the activities.

First group were simply asked to walk briskly, so that they were just out of breath, for three hours a week.

Second group were asked to do puzzles, such as crosswords or Sudoku. Again they had to do it for three hours each week.

The final group were asked to take part in an art class which involved drawing a naked man.

“Our scientists redid their battery of cognitive tests and the results were clear-cut. All the groups had got a bit better, but the stand-out group was those who had attended the art class.”

Of course, there are many explanations as why the art class best improves mental ability. For now, just keep in mind this: art is a powerful tool in keeping your brain sharp.

Do include art activities for your brain health.



A new way to challenge your brain


I think it a good brain practice or a way to challenge yourself to see if you can come up with a different word for expressing your idea. Even better, you can learn new words this way. That is, deliberately looking for a different word when you write. Instead of using the one that comes to your mind first and that you have used and overused all your life, see if you can think of or find another one, a synonym, even a totally new word.
e.g.
use rebuff for reject,
use reprehend or reprobate for criticize
use detrimental for harmful
use advantageous for beneficial
use lucrative for profitable
use approbation for approval
use concur for agree

Please note this is more for brain health than showing off your vocabulary.



No need to have too much…


I read a story like this. A man and his girlfriend were in a flower store. When the man noticed his girlfriend liked yellow rose, he bought one for her the next day. Days later, she asked him, “Do you truly love me?” He poured out a torrent of words to show how much he loved her. She expected only one word and now she got a chapter. Her mind became absent minded while he was pouring on and on…

I thought it funny at first. Words of love should be sweet and touching, but it can become unbearably boring when it is more than enough.

Then again, there is, of course, more to it. The take home message is quality over quantity. The same thing can be said of parenting. If we talk too much, most likely our words fall on deaf ears.

In fact, quality prevails over quantity in nearly everything.



Don’t go against nature….


Nature may call in different forms, be it when you feel thirsty, or when you are sleepy, or when you are hungry, or when you need to use restroom. Don’t hold yourself back when you hear nature’s call.

That is, drink when you are thirty, eat when you are hungry. Go to bed when you are sleepy, slow down when you are tired. And of course, go to restroom when you need to. It will be detrimental to your health if you keep doing what you are doing and ignore nature’s call.



Strengthen your neural connections


This is what I read on 1/16/2008, an article written by Tycho Vancreato, “9 activities to help improve your working memory and concentration.”

(1) Brain-healthy eating
(2) Turn on music
(3) Reduce stress
(4) Pay attention
(5) Group things
(6) Think back
(7) Strengthen your neural connections
(8) Include more of your senses in an everyday task
(9) Walk

Detail for number 7:
This is an exercise that can even create new neural connections. Grab the mouse with the hand you normally don’t use it with. It is probably harder to be precise and accurate with your motions. You could easily try some of these exercises everyday. It is important to challenge your brain to learn new tasks, especially processes that you have never done before. e.g.
–Use your opposite hand to brush your teeth
–Dial the phone or operate TV remote
–Draw symmetrically by making the same movements with two hands



10 ways to ruin your career


I read this from CareerBuilder. It was written by Kate Lorenz. Here are the ten ways that you could damage or even endanger your career.

(1) Poor people skills
(2) Not a good team player
(3) Missing deadlines constantly
(4) Conducting personal business on company time
(5) Isolating yourself at office
(6) Starting an office romance
(7) Fearing risk or failure
(8) Having no goals no plan
(9) Neglecting your professional image/reputation
(10) Being indiscreet. Remember office is not your private domain.



The best Time to Buy these items


7/11/2015, I was doing some cleaning today. Of course, I dug out some printout or notes that I took some years ago. Before I trash them, I thought it better to share them here. This is the first of these notes.

The best Time to Buy:
(1) Airplane tickets: Wednesday morning
(2) Books: Thursday
(3) Cars: Monday
(4) Clothing: Thursday evening
(5) Department-store wares: Saturday evening
(6) Dinner out: Tuesday
(7) Entertainment/Movie/Museum: Wednesday
(8) Gas: Thursday before 10 am
(9) Groceries: Sunday or Tuesday
(10) Hotel room: Sunday



July 11, in memory of my father


It has been 28 years since my father left us. Every year on this date I think of him and the memories that I keep about him. There are lots of thoughts on this around this time of the year.

Sometimes, I wonder if my father knew how much we miss him, as if he were in heaven and were watching us. Then I realize this is simply not true. I want very much to tell him that he has not died, that part of him is still alive in us, not physically but spiritually.

I want to tell him that the older I am, the more I realize that I am so much like him in many ways, like having this never-ending drive to be something better with each passing day, that with this desire to learn and never letting a day pass without learning something new, even as I approach 6 decades of life and still try to learn a new language.

Even in my dealing with people, I have the same kindness that my father possessed, that I never hurt people, exactly like what he wished. He just never said anything bad about anyone at all. He truly had an angel heart! The sad part is when he was alive, we never told him this and he never knew how we appreciate and carry on his legacy.

I want to tell him that his two grandchildren are very much like him, too. They are extremely kind-hearted and have the same thirst for knowledge as their grandfather and the desire to be better everyday. I bet it would be a huge comfort if he knew this.

He was such a rare wonderful man. I wish he were still here with us. I miss my father. It is definitely unfair that he was taken away so early in his life.



What should we teach our children?


(1) A child must learn how to cook and take care of himself/herself.
(2) A child must learn to drive so that she doesn’t rely on others to take her to places.
(3) A child must go to college and spend a few carefree college years studying and making lifetime friends.
(4) A child must love reading which broadens his vision and makes him a happy person.
(5) Don’t just cry and blame others or bad luck, even if “things fall apart, center cannot hold.” Be resilient after however big setback.
(6) Teach your child to live gracefully, even if he doesn’t have the means to live a splendid, grandiose life.
(7) Teach your child to keep a notebook and a camera when he travels. Even if the scene is the same, the mood might be different.
(8) Teach your child to have a place that she can claim as her own.
(9) Teach your child to be kind to others.
(10) Teach your child to save for rainy days so that she can always pay her bills. When she has money, think of the time when she doesn’t have.
(11) Finally, smile, grace, self-confidence, these are the great spiritual wealth.



Some wisdom in parenting…


A bit of wisdom in parenting:
1. In general, the main factor in child education is family not school.
2. Irresponsible parents do no good to the child. Over responsible parents do no good to parents themselves.
3. How parents treat each other impact the way their child treats others.
4. Develop enthusiasm and wisdom in the child
5. Bring out well-behaved child
6. Be generous to others
7. Help child to be active and be healthy
8. Don’t think the child only develop physically before age 6 and you can leave the child to the grandparents. Such child might be out of control by the time he gets back to you at age 6.
9. Often do three things with the child:
a) have dinner with the child;
b) fix/repair toy/furniture with the child;
c) read with the child
10. There are three key time points in a child’s development, around age 3, 6, 13. You might face tremendous consequences for missing these key periods.
11. A child needs to learn to do things himself by age 3. Try to let him do it if he can. If not, teach him how.
12. Don’t worry too much if the child chooses a road not often taken.
13. Be careful about your manner when you lecture to a teenager.
14. Let your child have his own privacy. Don’t force him to confide everything to you.
15. A child needs a more permissive parent around age 3, an authority figure around age 9, a passive democratic one around age 13. Parenting style evolves from authoritarian to democratic.
16. Let the child develop friendship among his peers, but be watchful whom he is associated with.



If you feel guilty while doing something, you’d better stop doing it


The other day my daughter didn’t go to bed until 3 am next morning. I asked her if she watched the movie that she rented, she said yes sheepishly. I once told her, “You stay late at night only if you have work to do. Do not burn midnigh oil just to have some fun time, especially during weekday.” She knew it. I asked her if she felt a bit guilty when she was watching at night. She said yes.

I told her it was a good thing that she still felt guilty. It would be awful if she doesn’t. Then I told her, “If you feel guilty doing something, you’d better stop doing it, because you know you should not do it.”

This sense of guilt is our inner voice of self-check when nobody is watching. The voice comes from our years of upbringing and socialization which tells us what is the right thing to do. It’s better listening to this voice.



When not to criticize your child


When your child makes mistakes, you as the parent should let him know where he did wrong and how to be better next time. But the timing of your criticism is critical to ensure your criticism is constructive and positive. Always have in mind the well-being of the child.

If you truly love your child, DO NOT criticize him —
1. in public
2. when the child is already full of regret for what he has done
3. before the child goes to bed
4. at meal time
5. while the child is having a good time
6. when the child is crying
7. when the child is sick

These rules go for anyone, not just for children.



Nine Signs of Low Emotional Quotient


This is a translation from a Chinese site. I am glad that both of my children do not so far show any of these signs. Still, I post them here as prophylaxis.

Here’s a quote on emotional quotient, “Emotional Quotient is the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. In the business environment, Emotional Quotient is important because it helps you leverage your awareness of emotions for effectiveness in the workplace.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Here are the signs of an EQ loser.
(1) Unable to put yourself in other’s shoes. Unable to empathize. Doesn’t care how other people feel.
(2) Like to raise himself up in public by belittling others.
(3) Must have the last word in argument.
(4) Dominated or preoccupied with negative mood or thought
(5) Only care about self-expression, paying no attention to how others react to what he expresses. They are anything but active listeners.
(6) Knowingly ask question that you know the answer with the intention of showing off your smartness. Deliberately poke people where it hurts most.
(7) Over-concern about how others think about him even if other people do not in the least care about him, like not even noticing his existence.
(8) Make judgment about other people’s life and lifestyle.
(9) Put on the most respectful mask in front of strangers while throwing the most nasty temper at those closest to him.



The ebb and flow of the year


I know time and tide wait for no man and people have to do something even when they are at a low ebb. They cannot wait for their peak creative moments to be productive because time is marching on regardless.

The first part of this year is quickly rushing by. For this year I have decided not to look for a change of job any more. I am trying to find something else more meaningful to fill my time.

The plan is I will quit the job and engage full time in whatever I have found. Well, so far, I have not been successful.

Because my day job has long become irrelevant to my personal agenda, I have tried to squeeze as much time as possible for myself during the day, reading, thinking, finding and injecting meanings, and enjoying what I have.

I will certainly work harder to create something, even though I don’t know if I will be able to do something different in the months to come for this year. In fact, I am more motivated when I think of the end of year, the time when my son comes back home for holiday. I am more motivated because I want to do something for them, something they are proud of.



Breaking Bad, crime drama television series, very thought provoking


I rented the Breaking Bad dvd from our local library and started watching a few episodes with my daughter yesterday, 5/30/2015.

The show features the transformation of Walter White, an ordinary not-well-off high school chemistry teacher, into a notorious crystallized methamphetamine cooker. He finds himself having a late stage lung cancer and a wife pregnant with their daughter. And worst of all, he is in desperate need of money for both situations. To be sure, he is a smart one, with an advanced level of chemical know-how. Upon seeing how much money he could make in drug business, he decided to partner with his former student to cook high quality methamphetamine.

A 50-year-old teacher who knows right from wrong yet deliberately engages in illegal activity and even commits murder. A law-abiding citizen won’t make enough money for his family if he doesn’t break the law. A respectful high school teacher cannot afford cancer treatment. These situations make for a rather thought-provoking show.

The more I think about it, the more I see Walter as a victim rather than a criminal of the society that denies him decent healthcare when he is sick, that leaves him poor after he has dedicated his life to science and teaching. It is a shame that society has pushed a decent high school science teacher down this road.



Watched movies during Memorial Day weekend


Recently, my daughter and I rented from RedBox four movies. We watched them together during the weekend.
1. Birdman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, black comedy, 2014
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron, Science fiction film/Thriller, 2015
3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
4. Mortdecai, action comedy, 2015.

I told my daughter movie Unbroken was a touching one, though the plot is too simple, US soldiers survived nearly 50 days on the sea and POW camp in Japan during World War II. The ending is so predicable, that is, no matter how bad the situation seems, you are sure that soldier, the main character will survive in the end, unbroken spiritually though broken physically.

As viewers or readers, we demand a good ending for good people and a bad one for the bad people. Otherwise we are not happy. Call it cathartic function of art. Interesting.



Random thought on Mother’s Day


This year’s Mother’s Day came and went. I sent to a young relative of mine a video praising the unselfish love of mothers. He told me he already talked to his mother.

Mother’s day is once a year, but mother’s worries are 365 days per year. Very often people don’t realize this until they themselves become parents. I am no exception myself. This is not to blame them for not realizing this. This only states that fact that it takes certain years and experience to become mature and understanding.



Back from a recent trip to China


I went to Beijing on 4/16/2015 and back on 5/4, Monday morning around 2 AM, then back to office at 7 that morning. It’s been three days since I got back. As always, I still feel tired and weak now.

I didn’t sleep well yesterday. In fact, I went to bed around 10 PM and was still awake around 2 AM this morning. Something kept me awake until I couldn’t hold up. I was thinking about doing this or that, in backyard, on the computer, at the office, with my daughter, my research paper, etc. The more I piled up to my task list, harder it was for me to fall asleep. You can imagine how exhausted I was at office today.

Yes, there are plenty of things that I have in mind, that I can’t wait to get my hand into. Here’s part of my to-do list.

1. Clean the house for my daughter’s homecoming on 5/12.
2. Make appointments with eye doctor and the dentist for my daughter.
3. See Chad to open an annuity account
4. Clean the newly grown weeds in my backyard. If possible, plant some vegetables
5. Pay property tax which is soon due.
6. Get ready seriously for a research paper, plan to finish it before the end of June.
7. Go to library to check some books
8. Resume exercises and yoga.
9. Get ready the book for my daughter — change your brain before 25.
10. Keep looking for meaningful things to do so that I can retire this year.
More later



Another weekend edition, 4/11/2015


This is the last weekend before my trip home on 4/16/2015. And this is the only weekend when I don’t face any deadline. That is, I have finished sending out whatever needs to be sent, like all the tax return forms, federal, states, for myself and for my daughter, and her scholarship application.

This morning I checked for some incoming bills. The property tax payment is due on May 11, which is after I get back. I thought I might make the payment just to get it over. But when I checked bank balance and the scheduled credit card payments. Wow, unless I sell some stocks now, I’d better wait till next pay check which is mid April. Well, forget it now.

I went out for a long morning walk before breakfast, stopped at Walmart grocery store to get some fruit. After breakfast, I went to our local library to return some books, from there went to a store to get a gift bag and other stuff. A friend’s daughter is getting married on 4/25 this month when I am out of town. I got the gift ready even if I cannot go.

After getting back, I did some house cleaning. It is already 4 pm now. Tired after that.



Time’s flying… the year’s rushing by…


Yesterday when I talked with my son over the phone, I shared with him a sense of urgency as the so-called new year is rushing by. The spring semester is ending next month. With that comes summer break. After summer, the fall brings us closer to the end of the year.

Oh my God, the thought makes me so anxious, more so as I remember the same feeling that I had last year and the year before. I didn’t want to share my anxiety with my son, but I could tell he felt it as I spoke out my thought.

There’s so much that we want to do but so little time! I wish my son could get more done while enjoying life as it rushes by rapidly before our very eyes.



Back from my first dancing class


This afternoon I went to a dancing class with a friend of mine given at a Chinese church. It was a trial lesson. Oh boy, it was a real challenge when I had to coordinate arms and legs and follow the beat of the music. In fact I thought to myself, it’s too much to me. I was not going to this class any more.

Back home, I was exhausted, mind and body. After a little while, I thought it actually a good challenge. I need it. I need to constantly challenge myself to do something different. I must believe old dogs can learn new tricks!

Yes, definitely I will go back to the dancing class after I get back from China.



The hot summer-like days in April reminds me of summertime


The past few days have been unseasonably hot, especially when I drove back home around 3:30 in the afternoon. The summer-like weather always reminds me of some lazy summers in the distant past. It always links to some good times that I had either during summer break when I was young or with my children. It seems summer time means no school, no teacher, etc.

When I was at Bowling Green, Ohio, working on my dissertation or in Fort Wayne, Indiana or in McLean, Virginia, I always spent the summer with my children, sometimes even going back to China for the whole summer. I used to think that people should not work in summer. We all should have long summer break.

It seems like the most wonderful time that I had was always in summer. The hot days always bring back my memories of these summer carefree days. And the memories of the long gone past often make me sad and depressed. I must make conscientious effort to keep myself cheerful by focusing my thought on the pleasant things.



More on JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy


Yesterday I had a long Skype chat with my daughter, during which I mentioned to her the books that I read recently. Of course, I recommended to her The Casual Vacancy.

I told her the book was a bit depressing. The more you think about it, the more so. It seems the only good person, the champion for the underprivileged in the novel, Barry Fairbrother, died at the beginning of the novel and no one carries on his cause after his death. Krystal Weedon, the 16-year-old girl whom Barry tried to raise out of her disadvantaged milieu, in the end died with her 3-year-old brother whom she loved dearly, the only touching love in the novel.

My daughter asked why Rowling wrote this depressing book. I told her it was an eye-opening book, very realistic. She should read it, even if it is depressing.



Reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy


I finished reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, a 2012 novel this weekend.

The novel begins with the death of Councillor Barry Fairbrother and ends with the funeral of a 16-year-old and her 3-year-old brother, a rather depressing way to start and end a book! The novel depicts two totally different worlds in today’s England: one that of middle class neighborhood, secure and affluent but not so full of love, the other ghetto-like place plagued by drug addicts, prostitution, and rape, but filled with a touching love of a sister toward her baby brother, which is the only genuine love in the novel. Bless them for not having as many gun violence as in the U.S.

The novel also pinpoints the vital part that the government can play in changing the life of ghetto people. It reminds me of Dickens’ novels and some inner city poor neighborhoods here in the U.S. Their living is so precarious that many are not able to live to adulthood as in the death of the 16- and 3-year-old, children of a drug addict.

Another theme is the dysfunctional relationship between parents and their teenage children in middle class families: Andrew Price vs his parents; Fats Wall vs. his parents; Sukhvinder vs. her parents;

The conflicts between these teenagers and their parents reach to the point that the teenagers hack individually the Parish Council online forum site and post rather malicious attacks against their own parents, all in the name of The_Ghost_Of_Barry_Fairbrother, resulting in one parent losing his job, another suffering heart attack, another becoming less normal. I wish many parents can read this novel and at least learn that there are unpleasant consequences for being abusive and disrespectful.

I must say the book is rather depressing. Still, it is an eye-opening must-read on many levels. I knew it would be a good one from Harry Potter’s writer.



Another weekend to-do list


3/28/2015, Saturday morning.
I went out as soon as I got up and drank a cup of water. It was rather cold today. I made sure I wore enough coat when I went out. I also carried a backpack with house key, cellphone, purse, a bottle of drink in case I was hungry and felt weak on the way, something to read on the way in case my mp3 player being dead, and a IRS refund check.

I walked to the Capital Federal Savings at the corner of 95th street and Nall. It’s less than 5 miles round walk. I felt it a long stretch but not that terrible and not tired after I got back.

After breakfast, I sat down to make a to-do list for the day:
1) Send out our Kansas tax return
2) Complete online my Missouri tax return
3) Complete online my daughter’s Massachusetts state tax return
4) Complete my daughter’s financial aid application
5) Practice ukelele
6) Write something about The Casual Vacancy novel that I have been reading this week, though not done yet. This is an interesting topic. This is something I’d like to do at least once a week.



Happy Birthday, my beloved daughter!


My daughter is in Boston right now. I hope she can do something special today with her friends. Good thing it is Friday. Here’s a custom-made one for her.
Happy20birthday
I hope I could give her a huge hug and whatever she needs on her birthday, but she is so far away from Kansas. I can only call her and wish her the best.
Love you always. Happy birthday!



Meetings everyday except Monday–Totally Unrelated to me


We have meetings everyday this week, except Monday. I told my colleague how I dislike this strongly. She simply laughed.

Today, my colleague and I drove to Fairway to attend a site initiation visit meeting from the sponsor, which took nearly the whole morning. I felt tired after that and would like a nap, but of course I couldn’t.

Tomorrow I will have to attend one at Westwood for the so-called CTO Research Coordinator Monthly Meeting. On Thursday, I will go to Overland Park site for another monthly research meeting. Friday will be the CTO Monthly Staff Meeting.

The point is I feel totally unrelated when I am at these meetings. I really don’t care. I really don’t want to spend my time living out other people’s dream. They are unrelated to my agenda. I sit there with an obvious unconcerned look and a truly absent mind throughout the meetings.



Reading Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark


After sustaining the perverted, sociopath, criminals, and the disgusting trappings of sadomasochism in Fifty Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, In Cold Blood, and ‘People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo’, I decided to give myself a wholesome break and turned to Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark written in 1915, as I remember fondly one of my favorite books, Cather’s My Antonia and really miss both the book and that kind of people.

But guess what? I ended up with a bit disappointment. Because I have been pre-conditioned to too many dark turns of events, I was somehow expecting all the time something evil cropping up or lurking somewhere, but no evil found; like when the young Thea Kronborg went to Dr. Archie’s office in the evening to make a call to a patient, like when she went to Chicago alone at that tender age, a country girl in big city, like when she was alone with Fred Ottenburg, as if the married Ottenburg was surely going to ruin her. I feel something like an anticlimax coming down when nothing of that kind happened. People are so nice and kind that they almost seem unreal. I am too down to earth to accept fairy-tale ending like this.

The plot is remarkably simple, Thea Kronborg, an artistically gifted girl from a religious Sweden stock in Colorado, is determined to develop her artistic potential, regardless of whatever obstacles, venturing out alone as a teenager to Chicago, New York, then to Germany, and eventually becomes an acclaimed opera singer in NYC metropolitan opera.

At some point, I was truly impressed by her dogged determination, her strong will, her steadfastness, like the first generation of immigrants. I thought it was a must read for my children. Here’s an example of “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Then I change my mind.

In the end, Dr. Archie, who went to New York to watch her perform, said to her “I’m afraid you don’t have enough personal life, outside your work, Thea.” This is what I was thinking toward the end. With that, I am not sure if she is truly happy, even with her tremendous success. Perhaps she is, according to her definition.

Similar to the protagonist in Cather’s My Antonia, Thea Kronborg, uprooted herself from where she grows up, is inextricably connected to her birth place. And, no matter how far she moves away and for how long, she constantly experiences an aching longing for the past she left behind, the one that exists only in her memory, Cather’s constant theme of nostalgia among people who are like Thea Kronborg, leaving behind a past but still keep it in their dream. This may be part of the appeal to me.

As Thea quotes Wagner, “Art is only a way of remembering youth. And the older we grow the more precious it seems to us, and the more richly we can present that memory…”

Still a beautiful one…



Happy Birthday, my beloved son


My son and his friends are in France right now for his birthday. I am so happy for him. Here’s a custom-made happy birthday picture to him.
Happy26birthday

I am so grateful and feel heavenly blessed for having such a great son.
I love you. Happy birthday!



Another weekend by myself


Early this morning we drove to the airport to send another adult for the annual China trip. The flight was 6:30 AM, but I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep.

When I got back from the airport, it was only 6:30, too early to take a walk. So I checked wechat and found Jack Ma’s speech in English before audience like Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. I thought I would take a peek, then go out for a walk, but I couldn’t stop myself as I started watching. I felt a bit dazzled by his powerful speech. I will share this with my son.

After the video, I hurriedly went outside for my morning walk. It was 9 AM after I got back. I knew I got a lot to do today, though I’d rather go to a bookstore and stay there for the rest of the day.

Here’s my to-do list for the day:
(1) Write something on this site, as my children’s birthdays are approaching.
(2) Complete my daughter’s 2014 tax return.
(3) Complete 2014 state tax return for us.
(4) Complete 2014 Missouri tax return for myself since I work there and live in KS.
(5) Go to costco and other grocery store.
(6) Write a review on the novel that I just read, The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, written in 1915.
(7) Practice ukulele for at least 40 minutes.
Of course, sadly to say, no bookstore today. Maybe tomorrow.



Birthday trip to Europe


My son called today, telling me that he is leaving for Europe this Friday, 3/13/15, with his girlfriend and three other friends, totally 5 of them. It’s a 10-day trip. He will have his birthday in Europe this year. So delighted to hear from him!

Wish him a fun, safe trip!



Back to my 2015 New Year Resolutions


Today is the last day of the second month of the new year. To be honest, I have not adhered to my new year resolution so far. I keep finding excuses for myself.

First, I told myself I would start after my daughter left for school. After she left on 1/11/2015, I started getting the room ready for the arrival of two young relatives from China. They would arrive on 1/25.

Then, while they were here, I told myself I would start after they left. On the early morning of 2/14, the two relatives for Los Angeles.

After they left, the other adult in the house came down with cold and cough. Plus, I felt tired and needed time to recover. Plus, I thought I would file tax return first.

Last weekend, I planned to work on our tax return. This weekend I tried to do the same. I thought I could do the tax return by myself without having to buy the commercial software. I tried and became frustrated. In the end I decided to simply buy Turbo Tax Deluxe 2014 Fed + State.

I should have bought this two weeks ago! I should always seek ways to save time instead of money. Now I feel more frustrated and anxious for not getting anything done while seeing two months passing by…
–Continued…



Your office is a platform for something bigger than a paycheck


I went for my first interview of the year on 1/6/2015, Compliance and Monitoring Specialist position. No news so far, which means a gone case. I should not feel too bad about this lost one, even though being rejected is always a bad moment to endure. Yes, I don’t like the idea of being rejected. I like rejecting others, not been rejected by others.

After all, taking this job means (1) driving around the town to all the five clinics — Lee’s Summit in the east, airport up north, and of course far west clinic, and much more. It is almost dreadful when I think of all the driving, the stress, the risk associated with it. I always find it hard to focus on driving for a long time. (2) it will keep me super busy, leaving zero free second for what I enjoy doing, like what I am doing now, thinking and writing. (3) I have to glue my eyes to the computer all the time verifying data like monitoring job, which means havoc and long term damage to my aged vision. I used to take pity on those monitors for their boring and eye-ruining work.

I almost hate this job even before taking it. The most thing I like about this job is its title. Well, vanity plays a role, I should say.

For now, I want to remind myself of this: your work or the office provided by your employer is at best the platform for something bigger than a mere paycheck, something of your personal agenda. You define what your personal agenda is. You must have something of your own all the time. You can never build your happiness on the unreliable whim/mood/like/dislike of others. This is also the message that I want to share with my children.

You are your own savior. Remember the song The International?
“No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver”



Letter to my son on 9/4/2007


I wrote the following to my son in September 2007. This is actually part of the original letter.

Make efforts to keep in mind the following in life.
(1) Independence — learn to think independently; eye on your goal not to be sidetracked by outside influence, nor cave in to popularity.

(2) A healthy lifestyle which includes love of outdoor activities and a good eating
habit.

(3) Time management. The only thing that we are given equally in life is time. Watch out for time-thieves. Practice beating deadline by setting one manageable task per day for yourself and must get it done on that day.

(4) Music is vitally indispensable in life. You have learned both violin and piano. Make an effort to practice one of them.

(5) Keep your promise. Keep your commitment. This is the only sure way to build trust and respect.

(6) Take blame and say sorry when you know you should. A great man is not one who is error-free but one who has the courage to admit his wrong and move on.

(7) Life is beautiful if you can live this way. Take time to enjoy the beauty of nature, of people you go out with. Value all the relationships that you ever build up. They make your life richer and happier.

(8) Stick to your principles and to what you believe even under great pressure from
above and forces around you.

(9) Keep a reading list. Make a point of reading at least a few books in a year.

(10) Take care of your soul — the soul devoid of petty selfishness, the soul of
dedication, of devotion and sincerity. After all, it is the mind that gives rise to a beautiful dream and deed. Life has some transcendental value. Have a goal larger than yourself, reach out and make a difference so that other people might lead a better life because of you.

Ask not how much you get for your time, ask how much value you add in this time. Always try to make your presence felt in a positive way.

Fling yourself to a good cause and you will find no obstacles that you cannot surmount and no suffering that you cannot endure. Identify and hold fast to a good cause that you believe worthy of your dedication, a good cause like saving the earth, feeding the hungry, education for all, protecting the endangered, sustain life on earth, finding a cure, etc. Make sincere and consistent efforts to explore the way to donate, to give and to maximize your contribution to this cause.



New Year Resolution 2015


Since I wrote something about New Year Resolutions, some friends asked if I still write stuff like this, as if we were too old for that trick. I told them, “I do. Every year.” Here’s mine for this year. Good things never retire with age.

1. For brain health: Gain a rudimentary mastery of a new musical instrument–ukulele, one song per month, practice at least one hour per day
2. For finance, start an Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) trading account in the first month
3. Professionally, publish at least one article in a professional journal
4. Time management, limit online social media time to at most one hour per day on the average to keep in touch with friends.
5. Physically, (a) walk at least 45 minutes every day when weather permits. (b) strength training for at least 30 minutes every day

NOTE: Use timer on number 1 and 4

I cannot guarantee that I will stick to the end my resolutions. But I think it always beneficial to have some goal and some expectations of yourself over time. So far, I am on track for my goal. I will constantly come back to this throughout the year just to check myself. When nobody watches me, I have to rely on self-watching.



Reading Gone Girl, how a husband is punished for cheating his wife



Gone Girl
written by Gillian Flynn. I have finished reading this novel today. I must say it is a good book. It makes readers utterly sick while going through the story that is fully packed with lies and dishonesty, but the readers feel happy and satisfied in the end.

The husband cheats the wife when he has an affair with a 23-year-old girl. The wife feels the need to revenge by disappearing from her home and framing the husband as the murderer. In the end, the husband has his due share of punishment, the wife returns home triumphantly by killing another man and goes scot free.

The novel ends with a final unexpected stroke when the wife saves herself and secures the marriage by getting herself pregnant with the much wanted son through fertility clinic.

While the readers might not like either the husband or the wife, they cannot help admiring the wife for her ingenuity and resourcefulness in plotting out her revenge. And it does make readers feel great when the cheating husband suffers in the process.

The parts I don’t like in the wife is she doesn’t seem to have a life of her own. Her husband seems to be the center of her life, which makes her so vulnerable. It is like gambling, when she places her happiness and her life in one basket, her husband in her case, and when her husband cheats her, her whole life collaps. This should be a lesson for all women. Another thing about her is she is not nice to others sometimes, especially to her parents.

Another one, of course, for men is NEVER underestimate the brain power of women.

PS. Actually, the thing that was rather annoying at first is the language that is full of F word, too many of them at first. But the strange thing is by the end of the novel I kind of got used to seeing them, as if it were no big deal. I wish they were not that many in the book.



New Year Resolution: jump over habits


As I was cleaning last year’s calendar, I bumped into this — “Are you able to actually jump over habits? Are you able to actually work on a bigger scale than you normally think and feel that things seems to be impossible are actually possible?”

I forgot where I got it, but I thought it fit the occasion perfectly, when I was working on New Year Resolution with my daughter and also on my own.

Indeed, jumping over habits is what we need if we want to carry out our resolution for this brand new year.



Why people fail in keeping their New Year’s Resolutions


Here’s another one on New Year Resolution. Here are parts of the article.

Even though “People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, … people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason is “that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions,” which is also called “false hope syndrome.”

“Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain).”

Finally, the author offers some tips for keeping resolutions.

1. Focus on one resolution, rather several and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be;
2. Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day;
3. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once;
4. Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report;
5. Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed;
6. Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits;
7. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
8. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.



Happy New Year 2015, another year, another new beginning


Happy New Year to all who visit this site today!

I sent my son to the airport yesterday, the New Year’s Eve and today sent my sister’s son back to Houston. Good days passed so fast. It seems really like yesterday when we went to the airport to fetch them back, now to airport again. Of course, I miss them. But I don’t have any complaints, as long as they are good and healthy, no matter where they are.

Now back to what I have in mind during this time of the year: New Year Resolution — something I have never missed so far.

There are many writings on this topic lately. Here’s one. I am surprised to learn that 45 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions every year, and out of them only “8 percent stick with them.” The author offers 5 tips to stick with your resolutions:
(1) FOCUS on one goal at a time
(2) Know what makes it important
(3) Make it tangible avoid sweeping statements
(4) Think BIG but act small (this is an example of sweeping statement)
(5) Never go “off purpose” two days in a row

Good luck!



2014 Holiday season starts here


Ever since my son left for college, it has become the tradition in our household here, that is, the highest point in a year in our family is when children come back home. This moment has come this year.

It starts with my sister’s son’s arrival yesterday, followed by my son’s homecoming today, and my daughter’s tomorrow.

I will stay home with all of them till after New Year. My son will leave at the end of the year. The other boy on New Year. My daughter will stay till the mid January. I am immensely happy.

What a heavenly delight!



Nasty things people say behind your back


Since I spend one-third of my day at office, something happens here keeps coming back, against my will. Americans are famous for being polite on the surface. You almost never see direct confrontations or any exchange of harsh words. No, they make sure they behave perfectly.

But wait to hear what people say behind curtain. I hear that a lot before I moved to another office in April 2014. Once one colleague at one clinic, a so-called well-bred one, commented on another colleague up north office, “Who does she think she is! She is nothing. Absolutely nothing! She doesn’t have any education, no education at all.”

I felt both shocked and speechless when I heard her making this comment, especially when I remember how friendly she was in front of that colleague.

Humans!



Reading the book, “Where Good Ideas Come From”


Where Good Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson. I started reading this book on 12/15/2014, Monday morning.

“The argument of this book is that a series of shared properties and patterns recur again and again in unusually fertile environments. I have distilled them down into seven patterns, each one occupying a separate chapter. The more we embrace these patterns–in our private work habits and hobbies, ino ur office environments, in the design of new software tools–the better we will be at tapping our extraordinary capacity for innovative thinking”

“In the language of complexity theory, these patterns of innovation and creativity are fractal: they reappear in recognizable form as you zoom in and out, from molecule to neuron to pixel to sidewalk. Whether you are looking at the original innovations if carbib0based life, or the explosion of new software tools on the Web, the same shapes keep turning up. When life gets creative, it has a tendency to gravitate toward certain recurring patterns, whether those patterns are emergent and self-organizing, or whether they are deliberately crafted by human agents.”



We don’t come to the office to make friends, then what?


I remember someone at work said this “We don’t come here to make friends.”

True. However, since we spend one-third of our days or our lives here, friends can make a difference in terms of how happy we are at work or what mood we are in here. You don’t want your life spent in a hostile environment, which is detrimental to your health.

Hence, for your precious health, it is your responsibility to make your working environment as less hostile as possible, even if making friends is not an option.

Always remember your happiness is in your hand. Take initiative instead of blaming others.



Thought of the day — No need to care what others think of you


When my manager learned of my applying for the IIT protocol writer and CM Specialist positions, she called last Thursday to make sure that I knew I needed to use my vacation hours for these internal job interviews, which I had known.

I don’t really want her to know that I am applying for these positions, because I know she doesn’t think highly of me. She might think… Well, I don’t even care what she or others think of me. It’s totally irrelevant to me.

Life is too short to waste on that sort of stuff. Go your own way and let others talk their talks.



Thought of the day — Life is a one way journey, forward only.


Life is a one way journey, forward only.
Make each step a solid one.
Make everyday count.
If you waste your time, don’t even regret.
Because regret itself is a waste of time.



Reading William Shakespeare, thought on adult world


There have been plenty of writings on Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Lately I kept thinking of one event in the play, that is, the age-old feud between the two families, Capulet and Montague. They have fought for so long with so many lives lost that they even don’t remember why they fought in the first place. I think of the term that was used here, bickering. The more I think about it, the more I find it extremely absurd and irrational. While the adult world is full of deep-rooted hatred and prejudices, the children’s world is one of love and many great possibilities. The questions that bother me is, what is it that turn children into prejudiced adults? what is it good for people to grow up losing their once childhood purity? How can we grow up and still keep that child in our heart? That is, how can adults be as pure and prejudice-free as the children?

10 quotes from Shakespeare:
(1) Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
(2) If music be the food of love, play on.
(3) Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
(4) There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
(5) A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
(6) If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we no die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?
(7) Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.
(8) We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
(9) Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
(10) It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.



Words posted on my office wall


These words are posted underneath a shelf against the wall that only one person can see it, that is me, the person sitting by my desk everyday.

(1) Use time to create value and to add joy to life.
(2) No matter what happens, never lose your sense of purpose.
(3) Life is too short to live other people’s dream.
(4) Write something every day. Never underestimate the effect of your contribution.
(5) Be a friend to all who know you.

I didn’t post them all together. In fact, it took me a year to post them all here, though I forgot what occasions that had prompted me to post each of them. It is funny that I go to my office every day, thinking of the day when I don’t have to.

Yesterday, the person who would come to this office starting next year came over. For some reason, I don’t have a good feeling about the new arrival. But it is what it is. While I can’t control my environment, I can adopt a positive attitude, yes, by going back to these postings.



Somebody else is lacking of self-confidence or what?


We had meeting at 7 AM this morning. Any time we have meeting the next day, I always try to go to bed early so that I won’t either oversleep the next morning or appear tired at the meeting. But the more I try to sleep early, the more I fail to. Like last night, I went to bed before 10 PM and stayed awake after midnight.

One colleague of mine seems rather awkward dealing with me. That person just doesn’t seem natural when it comes to me. I don’t know why. A guilty feeling for what she has done behind my back or something else that I am not aware of. She is keenly aware of my strong background, my potential and my publications.

The only thing I know is she acts like she has not noticed me every time I come in and keeps on talking with others or appears busy doing something, when she does not behave this way with other people. I mean she would interrupt her chat and rush out a quick “Hi” when others come in. If it happened once, I would not have noticed it as I am such a careless person. But it is this way almost every time. Strangely funny how adults behave so awkward and lacking of self-confidence. Today it came too obvious not to be noticed. She blurted out a “Good morning, [a person’s name]” to that person who came in about the same time as I did. Why ignores me? No idea.

Ha-ha! Do I care? Absolutely not. Life moves on, with or without it, ’cause life is too important to be wasted on trivial like this. I thought it too funny that I have to share it here. All kinds of birds in the forest indeed!



Because positive is the only way out


This week I have been waiting for words from the hiring manager. She told me a decision would be made during the first week of December. I began to lose hope as the week went by. I knew I would be contacted the first of the week if I got the offer. If not, I might hear from the hiring manager later this week.

Indeed, I got an email from the hiring manager today saying an offer was made and was accepted yesterday. Well, in fact, it came not as a surprise. I was sort of expecting something on this line. In fact, I was prepared for this.

Still the day seemed suddenly dark after I read the email around 1 PM today. I was at west today. The busy and somehow unpleasant experience there with the monitor enhanced the gloomy mood that I carried for the rest of the day.

I guess no matter how much I have prepared, I still need some time to get over the disappointment of the rejection. I still need to remind myself “With or without an offer, I remain the same.”

I am going to reply to the hiring manager with a very positive note. Because being positive is the only way out.



With or without an offer, I remain the same


Yesterday, 11/18/2014, I went to have a job interview for a protocol manager position. The interview was set up for 30 minutes. Before we knew it, it was after 4 PM.

We had a good time chatting about our experiences as PhD. candidate. Both of us are PhD holders. Both had some circumstances which made it more difficult for us to achieve our goals. Eventually both have earned the degree within the given time frame.

It has been a long time since I talked to someone who has been there and who truly appreciates what I have been through in order to get that degree.

She told me it was going to be very competitive as there were three very strong internal candidates. I am not very hopeful that I would get this position. Still, I have enjoyed the process.

My daughter called tonight asking about the interview. I want to tell her that, for me, with or without the offer, I remain unchanged. I am still on the track with my plan.



Listening to “The Road of Life” filmed by David Lindberg


This is narrated in this short video clip.

Each journey requires an understanding of the essential:
what do we bring,
what do we leave behind,

what helped us soar yesterday,
that might hold us back today,
choices written and re-written,
changing by the second,
not that simple, external like destination.

These are the decisions of soul, character and essence. Because it’s not where we are going that defines us truly. It’s how we go there. From the first and the last of ….that is the epics of our lives.

And if we are lucky, there are special characters in this epic, co-conspirators that we share the spoilers of our great tasks, the partner of today, tomorrow and onward into the days beyond, for our best, our worst, … and the knowledge that together, we make each trip an adventure and enjoy every moment of the journey.”



A Chinese from Qinghua Living in One place for 23 years


I went to Leawood library today, trying to get some books on Python so that I could be of some help if my daughter needs. There I met another Chinese couple, who have a rather unique immigrant experience.

Her first name is Wei, the micro wei, last name being the same as my son’s girlfriend. They came to the United States with their 8-year-old daughter. Now the girl is 31 years old, working in Washington, DC as a lawyer.

There are many places that mark them as rather unique. First, they live in an apartment complex around 89 street and Troost in Kansas City, MO, where many Chinese, for the cheap rent, used to live when they first came to this area. Now they are the only Chinese family living in that area. In fact, they have been living in that place since they came here 23 years ago!

When looking back, I have moved from Texas to Ohio, to Indiana, to Virginia, then finally to Kansas, and I plan to move again after my daughter settles somewhere in a few years. I can’t imagine living in one place for so long, especially in this adopted land. Of course, people are different.

Secondly, Wei who has been here for so long can hardly speak English. How could this be? Well, I am surprised but passing no judgment. She told me how her husband switched major from physics to computer because he couldn’t find a job with physics, how he was laid off twice, last one in 2008, and now works at Cerner, and how he still was worried about his job security. She also said they only supported their daughter’s college expenses and let the girl go through law school with loan and other means.

Thirdly, she said her husband came to this library to attend a Qinhua alumnus gathering. A guy from Qinhua stays in that kind of apartment for 23 years and was struggling to keep his job. They look like near retirement age.

For a moment I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t able to link Qinghua graduate to what I am seeing here. To me, people who can get into Qinghua are very brilliant, like those people here who can get into Princeton or Harvard. I expect they will soar and fly high.

I can’t forget the encounter so I share it here. I know there are something wrong with my way of thinking.



Golden Rules, no matter where you work


Just do it
I will translate it into English later.

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