On Time Paradox and New Psychology of Time Part 3

Here’s a question put forward by the author — essentially it asks this — what is wealth?  “How wealthy is someone who spends all of his time making money but does not take the time to enjoy life?”  “How can we measure the measures of billionaire developers who spend all their time building mansions of brick and mortar but never enjoy those rooms?”  p. 10  A challenging question, isn’t it?

Time also matters because it is relative. p. 12  Relative in the sense that “we do have some control over the frame of reference in which we view time.” Recognizing these frames “may allow you to get more out of life.” p. 15 In other word, we do have control over the use of some of our time.  Cheer up!

Regarding people’s attitude towards time, there are present-oriented and future-oriented people. Present-oriented people tend to be willing to help others but appears less willing or able to help themselves.  Future-oriented people tend to be more successful professionally and academically, less willing to devote their time to altruistic pursuits.” They are the most likely to be successful and the least likely to help others in need. p. 19 What an irony!  Why is it so?  Isn’t it nice if we can combine the strenght of each? Why can’t we be both future-oriented and likely to help others in need?  A lot of questions rush to my head.  I have to post them here for you to ponder upon.

A Mind Game with a Child

I have to record this incident as it is still fresh in my mind.

The 10-year-old boy in my house feels like a horse out of reins, a bird out of cage, totally free when his mother is far away. Thus some behavior issues followed. I threatened to tell his mother.  It worked until he found out I would not tell at all.  Why should I when I know the mother, being so far away, cannot do anything at all?  Also, it is not pleasant for any mom to learn of the problems with her children.  So I make the point of not telling his mother anything she did not want to hear.

The day before yesterday, 10/28/2008,  when the boy spattered water while taking shower, I told him not to. He would not listen and did not care if I told his mother.  “Go ahead telling my mom,” he anticipated this and told me not without a challenge.  

I tried to figured out what was going on in his mind at that moment.  First of all, he knew I was too nice to say something unpleasant about him to his mother and have not ever done this before, which is absolutely true.  Secondly, even if I do tell on him, he can always explain away his problems to his mother, which is also absolutely true. Thirdly, he thinks I am simply at my wit’s end and all I could do was telling his mother.  I think he has too much underestimated my mental power.  I would be a fool if I fall into this booby trap. 

So I said, “I am not going to tell anyone.  I can handle everything. If you do it again, I will simply open the bathroom door and shut down the water.”  He knows I am serious from my tone. No more was said on it any more.  Yesterday, he did not play with water in shower as he had done before.

On reading English book, He would not listen to me when I asked him to. So I talked to his teacher, asking her to make reading homework for him. So she did. Yesterday I told him he would tremendously displease his teacher if he did not do what his teacher asked. The trick worked so far. I will have to think of something else when it stops working.

This further proves loving care alone won’t always work. Sometimes tacts and tricks can help in parenting.  This piece is too interesting to miss.

A Shocking Revelation

A friend of mine asked me about the quality of those people at the clinical level, where I meet everyday. Let me put it this way — people here are sandwiched between grocery store salesperson and those who work at big company like Sprint. This is the worst part, because very often they have a little bit education, like two-year technical training, better than nothing, yet not high enough to move up. The dangerous part is with a few drops of water in their buckets, people are more likely to boast about their meager education and show undisguised contempt toward those they perceive as below them.

This is what I experienced not long ago. This is not a true revelation to me, but shocking enough for some people at my office.  Last Friday a question was posed to me as if I had not graduated from high school. I must look really dumb to many of them as I am friendly and good-natured, which could be ill-interpreted as being a dim-wit. This time I was fed up with the assumption that I had not even finished high school here, so I inadvertently told one of my colleagues to type in my name in full and do a yahoo search. That colleague was totally dumbfounded to learn of my level of education — unbelievable for a high school dropout to be a Ph.D holder.

I have been utterly amused observing the way some people talk to me at the office, imagining what is going on in their minds when they talk to me in a babyfeeding manner.  An interesting interval to an otherwise boring daily routine.  The contempt has never been concealed because some of them think it unnecessary since I have been considered too dumb to even comprehend any contempt shown on their faces.  

Normally I don’t bother to explain anything. I would rather have some peace of mind. I engage in intelligent conversations only to those who can appreciate it.  Otherwise, I avoid any chance of depreciating myself. It is so funny that an explanation is even necessary. I must be genuinely bored to death.

Will continue on the book Time Paradox tomorrow.
P.S. 7/12/2009 since that time, that colleague has been trying to avoid my eyes, as if she was a bit intimidated by something. Strange things do happen.

On Time Paradox and New Psychology of Time Part 2

Continue on time paradox.  Here’s the first paradox of time — “Your attitude toward time have a profound impact on your life and your world, yet you seldom recognize it.” p. 6  Here’s the paradox: most of us, myself included, are trapped by daily trivia things in life while failing to recognize the most important thing in our lives — TIME, the limited and irreplaceable resource in our lives.

I read this quote again in this book.  “No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man,” by Heraclitus.  Yes, everything is going through constant non-stop changes.  We learned it back in our primary school and yet, we don’t seem to have this mind and mentality to be aware of and face daily changes in everything in our lives.  I am sure our attitude toward everything would be vastly different if we were aware of this constant in our lives. 

Why does the paradox of time exist?  I like this explanation — “Just as fish may be unaware of the existence of water in which they swim, most of us are unaware of the ceaseless flowing time in which we live.” p. 8  Because we take for granted this seemingly never-ending flowing time, we seldom value it and realize its importance, just as fish unaware of the life-dependent element — water.

Again, the author reinforces this point — Time is finite for all of us.  Once gone,  forever gone.  Ben Franklin said “Time is money.”  Wrong.  Time is more important than money, no amount of gold can buy back your lost time, yet we calculate how we spend money but seldom calculate how we spend time.  Not a miscalculation error but wrong object of calculation.  Another big paradox on time.

On Time Paradox and New Psychology of Time Part 1

On Saturday, 10/25/2008, I went to Barnes & Noble’s waiting while someone went clothes shopping with a friend.  At the bookstore, I saw a new book called The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life, by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd, 2008.  I was very much intriqued by the title and was eager to find out what this paradox is.  So, I got this book. I have not finished reading this book, but from what I have read so far, my understanding is:  the biggest paradox is the fact that time is the most valuable possession that we have in life, yet its value is seldom recognized and thus seldom appreciated. I want to share the following with my children.

On its front flap, it says, “Your every significant choice — every important decision you make — is determined by a force operating deep inside your mind: your personal time zone. This is the most influential force in your life, yet you are virtually unaware of it. Once you become aware of your personal time zone, you can begin to see and manage your life in exciting new ways.” My understanding of personal time zone is your perspective, attitude, awareness and use of time.

On the crypt of the Capuchin Monks, an inscription written on the floor at the foot of a pile of human bones says, p. 5
“What you are, they once were,
What they are, you will be.”
Don’t we need to be reminded that someday in the future we will all be like this pile of bones?

Another busy week

I had another busy week at office with monitor on Tuesday and Friday and preparation for auditing next week.  Weekend comes when I am so much ready for it.  Yet, weekend always means a different busy schedule, starting art class in the morning and tennis lession in the afternoon.

Someone, I-can’t-tell-who, read some of my postings today, requesting to remove those postings that mention that someone.  I said there was nothing untrue and that person also writes about me in cyberspace. Still, I have to take them off.

Loyalty and Truth — Reading on Rice Part 4

I am amazed that I can learn so much from reading about Rice.

On the confirmation hearing for the United States Secretary of State, a Democrat from California raised the sharpest question to Rice on her role in Iraq War, “I personally believe, this is my personal view, that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth.” p. 252.

This surely reached its goal of angering Rice. Yet, there are two things in the statement that I want to point out. First is loyalty, one outstanding feature of Rice. Rice has an unquestioned 100% loyalty to her boss, whoever that might be. Good for the boss!  She has the political acument to sense the intention of her boss and makes it her mission to help her boss achieve the goal.  On loyalty, I would tell my children not to give loyalty to any person but to what you believe is truth.

Second is truth. We “respect for the truth” only when we know what the truth is and we care to stand by truth. When Colin Powell gave Bush the sharpest criticism of Iraq War and questioned if Bush fully understood the huge implication of the war (p. 186), Rice was lost and could not follow Powel. She simply has no sense of what truth is.  For her, truth lies in whatever the boss says.

We don’t even need to wait for history to be the final judge on the war because we can see the consequence now and see the role of each person involved in this large-scaled event. Isn’t that enough for us parents to ponder upon what we should tell our children on loyalty and truth?

Time Changes Everything Except our Minds and Souls

I have devoted too much of my posting on Condi Rice lately. Now here’s another of my favorite topic — TIME.

Last week someone was listening to a Chinese children song on time.  It describes time as a magician who can change everything — season, appearance of our face, etc. When I go back to China and see folks whom I have not seen since my last visit, we expect to see apearance changes in each other. When my son came back from Boston, he said he felt he had changed a lot but he did not see much change in his high school classmates. I think he meant changes both inside and outside.

Indeed, time does do the trick of bringing changes in everything, including the chemical part of our hearts and heads, but we are the one who control how much changes and what kind of change that we want to take place regarding our mind and soul. Therefore, the saying “Time is a big equalizer” is true in a limited way.

If you want to bring changes inside you, time won’t be the key factor.  You need to take initiative.  If you don’t make efforts to increase your knowledge and wisdom with the same increase rate of age, you remain unchanged mentally despite of your changed appearance.

But sometimes, we want to keep something unchanged in our hearts even if changes occur to us outside.  I remember a poem goes like this,
          My heart leapt up when I behold,
          A rainbow in the sky.
          So was it when I was small;
          So be it when I am a man
          So shall it be when I am old.
The poet wants to remain young at heart even if he is old. Is it that what we all want?

Reading on Condoleezza Rice Part 3

During the days after Hurricane Katrina, while the country was horrified over the loss of human lives and the dire situation of poor black refugees, Rice went on a shopping spree at Ferragamo on Fifth Avenue for thousands of shoes. “Theater goers in New York City’s Great White Way were shocked to see the President’s former National Security Advisor at the Monty Python farce … as the rest of the cabinet responds to Hurricane Katrina.”

Her explanation was, “I probably had not fully understood that I had also kind of gone into this category of national leader, … that people expected me to be part of the solution for Katrina. I just didn’t get it, frankly.” pp. 266-267.

I am not sure if she is enlightened enough to understand this simple truth — it is not what people expect you to do.  It is what you expect yourself to do and to help as an ordinary human being, from your heart, when you see so many of your people suffer and when you are in the position to help, that is, if you have the heart for the suffering people of yours.  Even my children know to make donations when the earthquake hit Sichuan, China. Her lack of sympathy for her people in Katrina disaster is beyond my comprehension.

It shocks me to read about her attitude toward those underprivileged.  Rice talked about welfare recipients “taking advantage of the government and that they need to pull themselves up on their own.” Rice knows most of those welfare recipients are African Americans like herself.  One of her former colleague at Stanford commented on her, “That woman has a hard streak in her.” p. 107

The hard streak in her is the defect in her education — single-minded focus on success while lacking of cultivation in humanities field, the care of soul and mind, which result in her inability of understanding and empathy to think and feel how others do.  I would think this is a lesson for all parents who want their children to be full social beings, capable of both thinking and feeling.

Reading on Condoleezza Rice Part 2

Continue on the topic left from yesterday.  Rice became what her parents wanted her to be — succeed no matter what. She also turned out to be the exact product of their education — single-minded pursuit of success.

Her parents saw education as being instrumental to achieve what you aimed. “… you can achieve anything, you can do whatever you want to do, if only you get an education, …” p. 23  Rice was made sure to receive the best and highest education that could be obtain, music and French from very young, started learning to read at age 3, till she got Ph.D at the end.  Her French teacher was “struck … by John Rice’s full-time focus on the betterment of Condoleezza Rice.” p. 20.  Yet her parents did not have the intellectual ability to see education as being essential in developing a full-person, heart and soul, not simply an instrument to success.

As Rice put it, “I never developed the fine art of recreational reading.” p. 17,  whatever that might mean.  I would think she was saying she has not developed a love of reading for the pure joy, wisdom, insight and the mind-cultivating that reading is supposed to offer.

The result is Rice did have Ph.D, yet she does not have the intellectual depth to think and reflect.  “She may not have been an intellectual secretary of state like Kissinger or a master strategist like Baker, but she probably had more drive than either of them. The disciplined blaze of her life — … — suggested that she would throw everything she had into trying to triumph in the twilight of the Bush presidency.  It was obvious from Rice’s many metamorphoses that her real ideology was not idealism or realism or defending the citadels of freedom, … Her real ideology was succeeding.” p. 311

“Rice was never especially self-reflective, but she was always optimistic, and in June 2007, when she was asked to assess how she had performed as national security adviser, she gave an odd answer. ‘I don’t know. I think I did okay.'”  p. 310  These words are so revealing of her character, void of higher order of philosophical thinking.

Unlike former president Clinton and many other great persons, Rice has no enduring belief, no ideal. She has single-mindedly pursued one thing — success.  And she has succeeded for the sake of succes.

I strongly feel that there is something missing in her as I was reading her biography, something at first I cannot catch. By the time I read about her response to Hurricane Katrina, I came to realize the weak link in her education.  Yes, the kind of education is what I am interested in most when I read about Rice.  Blame me for being a parent all the time.

I will talk about this tomorrow.

Reading Condoleezza Rice’s Biography Part 1

I have been lately reading a biography on Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state on Bush junior’s second term, written by Elizabeth Bumiller, 2007.  On the one hand, this book is like all other books, having the bias of the author; on the other hand, it presents a mixed picture and message to readers like me, a parent who is reading and trying to find enlightenment on parenting.

One of the most striking fact that I will talk about is the role of parents in the success of a child.  Her parents “poured their hearts into the project of their lives: the teaching, molding, and polishing of Condoleezza.” p. 14.  Rice’s mother was “an intense, devoted mother. ‘Condoleeza was her world.'” p. 11.  While other kids were playing, the little Rice was made to spend her time on useful activities like reading and practicing piano.

It is no exaggeration to say that Rice would not have climbed this high without the exceptional dedication and stubbornly tenacious insistence of her parents in placing the interests and the success of their child before anything else. I would imagine our country’s prisons would be nearly empty if all parents shared at least one percent of Rice’s parents’ effort in their children’s education.  I feel very much dwarfed in comparison to Rice’s mom.

Rice is the living example of the saying — you reap what you sow.  She is the exact product of the upbringing of her parents, whatever that may be, which I will dwell on later.

A Different Mom with a Teenage Daughter

A friend of mine called me today about her daughter who was born in the same year as my daughter but only around the end of the year.  She told me her daughter experienced tremendous changes this year. Plus she often feels bored at school.  I only told her to have the child read as much as she can. She feels her daughter already reads a lot and really see no point of reading like this. I did not say more.

I was a bit surprised that she called and talked about her daughter.  Because I remember she is not a devoted parent as some of my friends are.  She used to spend a lot of time watching TV and on other self-entertaining activities. I wish I could share with her more on reading and the parenting and understanding of teenagers, yet I held myself back. I did not even share with her this site. I know she is not interested in listening or reading whatever I write here and will have time for it.

To be honest, she is one of the few carefree parents that I have ever known who loses no time enjoying herself.  She reminds me of one of our relatives.  That relative’s 25-year-old son is here with us.  Sometimes, I wish I could be that carefree and I would have the whole weekend for myself.  People are amazingly different.

Reading and Thinking Make a Full Person

While I was writing an email on reading, I thought of someone’s reading. That someone used to read a lot on teenage girl, which I thought it too trashy to read. How much can you learn from teenage girl stories? I have emphasized reading classics and educational material instead of pure entertainment. Later one instance changed my view.

That someone once described to me how bratty and obnoxious some of the teenage girls are. She was talking about some characters in books she had read. She talked about the problem teenagers with disgust and obvious objection. Through reading she has come to understand how much miseries and sufferings these teenagers have brought upon their parents. Reading makes her think and reflect upon her own behavior, and in a way helps her see clearly what kind of behavior she should avoid and what kind of person she should become. Isn’t that wonderful?

To be sure, writing is an intellectual activity, so is reading. That is, you will benefit tremendously if you can engage in active dialogue with the author and think while read.

As Francis Bacon once said, “Reading makes a full man.”  I would add reading plus thinking make a full woman.  Without thinking, I don’t know how much benefit one can reap from reading.

By the way, this is my experience yesterday.  Too nice not to mention here.  Yesterday’s monitors, 10/16/2008, were obviously very understanding. They saw how challenging our task was. They went out for lunch and came back with a box of deluxe cookies for me.  This is the first time that the monitor has ever done this.

Contrary to Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” I do occasionally find some at work, from outside office to be exact.

You Need More than Skills to be Happy at Office

It is a rather rough week so far with one monitor on Tuesday and two on Wed and Thurs and three on Friday. One of my colleagues left last Friday, her replacement from another site came on Wednesday, busy getting herself familiar with the cases. The worst part of the week so far was yesterday morning when a colleague told me what the monitor said of me — “She could have got this or that done but she did not, etc.” If the monitor did not know better, the colleague should know how under-staffed our team is lately and how much I have been working on. The department manager came over to the site and wrote to me about this since I had left at 3:45 PM. There were so much not-so-nice gossips behind my back. All because I have been nice to them and they think I am an easy ball to kick around.

The funny part is they were talking about the patient that I should have worked on and this patient turned out to be the patient under the care of the one who just left (for KUMC). Outside my realm of responsibilities.  Get it? They blame me for something that has nothing to do with me! Good job but wrong target. What would be their next accusation against me? I am badly intrigued.

For my children, I would be a liar if I said I was not disturbed by all this unfairness and unpleasantness going on around me. Yet, I have been able to focus on the important things in my life and move on as happily as I can. It is extremely important not to succumb yourself to the toxic environment that you find yourself in. When you know backstabbing is indecent, you will not do it even if everybody around is doing it all the time. Hang on there nicely and decently. Time will cure it all.

You need expertise to do your job well, but you need a lot more in your character to be decently happy and productive at work.  There are two terms in Chinese, zuo shi, zue ren.  You need to do good things and be good person at the same time.

Building Moral Intelligence

Last week, the title of a book caught me eyes when I was at local library, “Building Moral Intelligence — The Seven Essential Virtue That Teaches Kids to Do the Right Thing” by Michele Borba. Interesting title. I know IQ and EQ and now comes MQ.  It claims to be “The complete plan for raising kids from 3 to 15.  Too late for me when my youngest one is already 13.  Still, I flipped through the book for miracle cure.

The book’s talk on self-control reminds me of a book on EQ, emotional intelligence.  Indeed, there are some similarities.  Here are “the stages of self-control development’ which I thought some parents with younger children might find it helpful:

Stage 1 — formation of a secure base, birth to 1 year
Stage 2 –external control orientation, 1 to 3 years
Stage 3 –rigid rule-following, 3 to 6 years
Stage 4 –awareness of impulses, 6 to 12 years. “The child uses inner thoughts to direct his behavior and manage impulses. He learns beginning problem-solving skills and develops a stronger awareness of his behavior.”
Stage 5 –internal control orientation, 12 to 20 years. At this stage, “The child acquires more sophisticated problem-solving skills and is much more aware of her own behavioral urges and triggers.” p. 113.

There are many thought-provoking statements throughout the book. One of them is “The deadliest scenario for moral development is one in which the child grows up believing that she should do something only if she’s given something in return.” p. 102.

There are something that everybody should do even if there is no guarantee of something in return, something like duties and responsibilities, at school and at home, that each one of us, children included, must take care of everyday.

I am glad that I have never paid my children to do household duties like some American parents do. Yet, they have seldom pitched in around the house, like I did helping my mother when I was their age.  Regarding household work, it is no exaggeration to say that they are as lazy as you can imagine.  Probably because I have never paid them.  But who pays me to work second shift at home, cooking, cleaning, and all the nameless and backbreaking non-stop drudgeries? 

Sometimes, my daughter even uses her study to bargain with me.  For example, she will work on her SAT if I take her to clothes shopping.   

This marks the failed part of my parenting.  Not pleasant to think about but it is true. I only hope they will become mature and willing to help around someday, if not at home at some other places, willing to volunteer and make contributions without bargaining for venal gain of whatever form.  I will check their progress in one year, if I can remember it.  Hopefully, I forget it, right?

Now I do learn something from this book, a big discovery!  Indeed.

Endless Spending and the Latest Promise

Here’s someone’s latest promise: “I will not go clothes shopping for two monthes unless I find a job.” The whole entry was deleted at someone’s request (10/25/2008)

Time = Life. It is Irreversible and Irreplaceable.

Both of my children often stay very late and get up very late, especially on weekend.  Someone that I know stayed late last Saturday night and did not get up until noon of next morning. I called it “tearing off the east wall to mend the west wall.”  That person lost the whole morning to compensate for the late sleep.  I have repeatedly told them that morning was the key moment to accomplish a day’s task. Today’s posting is mainly on time management.  Time = life.  They have heard this from me numerous times. I will stop telling them until they start to listen.

This is from wikipedia on Alan Lakein.  He “is a well-known expert on personal time management. A Harvard MBA, his management films have won eight festivals and are best-selling training films. He is most well-known for his book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life which has sold over 3 million copies.”

He is also known for his inspirational quotes, including “Time = Life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable.  To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.” He is often quoted as the creator of Lakein’s question: ‘What is the best use of my time right now?'”

50% of My Time are Spent on Medical Data

By today, 10/10/2008,  I have witnessed four people left the team, since I came on board in July 2007.  This represents over 66% turnover rate in one year.  Two of them were with research for less than one year, the other for two years, the last the longest one.  To be sure, it is the company’s loss seeing such a high turnover rate.

The other 50% of time is spent happily on extrapolating medical data from source documents.  For me this is the easy and fun part of the job, not as tasking and stressful as dealing with people.  The medical documents include:
CBC lab report
Biochemistry lab report
immunohistology report
hospital discharge summary
surgical pathologist report
biopsy report
surgery report
MRI report
CT/PET report
X-ray report
body bone scan report
radiation report
physician order
physician progress note
physician consultation summary
New patient medical history questionnaire
Cancer drug pathway report
nursing note
medication pink sheet
drug administration blue sheet
Reference used daily:
AJCC: Cancer Staging Handbook
Mosby’s Drug Guide
Elsevier’s Oncology Drugs & Regimens
Tortora’s Principles of Human Anatomy
An English-Chinese Dictionary of Medicine
Clinical Trial protocols, etc…

Online references that I use daily include:
http://www.fda.gov/cder/cancer/oncrefto.htm — oncology tools
http://www.labtestsonline.org  — understanding lab results
http://www.medscape.com/medscapetoday  — medscape
http://www.druglib.com  — for drug information
http://www.clinicalpharmacology-ip.com/Default.aspx  — clinical pharmacy
http://seer.cancer.gov/resources   — SEER
http://medical.merriam-webster.com/medical  — online medical dictionary
http://www.cap.org/apps/cap.portal  — American Pathology
http://www.globalrph.com/calculators.htm   — clinical calculation
http://doctor.webmd.com  — web MD
http://www.oncologystat.com/index.html   — oncology statistics
http://www.wikipedia.org    — ultimate reference

One thing I can surely say of my job is I always find something new to learn, which gives me a sense of accomplishment and keeps me going, not a big one though.

Parents Cannot Expect Sunny Days All the Time

I have come to this realization only after someone I know of turned 13, with a lot of things going on around her making her moody and edgy.  Sometimes that someone prefers to be left alone, reflecting about something happened at school or over the book she just read, wearing a rather sullen look.  That perosn would give you a leave-me-alone attitude if you talk to her.  Or when that person is not in a sunny mood, she wears an cloudy look to whoever around her, even though she knows she looks her best when she is truely happy.  Afterward she apologizes sincerely for behaving badly.

I told that person yesterday, 10/7/08, that I would not take to heart her attitude, however it might be.  A parent should not be so narrow-minded, unable to rise above any childish behavior.  If a parent is overparticular about a child’s attitude and take to heart any minor slight or affront, this child-like parent will have to learn to be understanding and tolerant.  Otherwise, “serve you right” for lacking of empathy. 

I never take offense on slight provocation.  It would be too touchy and miserable to be a parent or even to live this way.  Let me put it this way — when it comes to small offense, I have the skin of the thickest Rhinoceros, totally bullet-proof and am brazenly happy I can be this way.  Otherwise, I get zero thing done and will truely be disturbed. So sad.  I always pick my fight on major issues and spare myself and everybody any minor ones. 

What upset me daily, I said to that person, “is seeing you squander so much of your precious time on you-know-what. Because time is all we have in life.  Once gone is forever gone.  Have you ever seen people turn clock back?  And I would be really sad if I see you set a long-term goal and fail to reach it. Of course, you will not let it happen.”

I would think this posting carries more than one messages, the last of which is — don’t get upset if I am talking about you.

Things Have Started to Turn for the Better

On Monday evening, 10/6/2008, this is what happened at someone’s house.

Someone spilled water on the floor near kitchen when she was pouring water in a hurry.  A man in our house pointed out the spill.  That someone said, “I am sorry,” then rushed upstairs without cleaning it.  The other person shouted back from downstairs with certain amount of anger in the voice, “I don’t want to hear you say sorry. You always say sorry but never mean it.  Don’t give me this trick, etc.”

I was nervous at that moment, fearing that someone would shout back, “Fine, I am not sorry” or words to that effect. Instead she did not say anything. After the anger quieted down, I asked that someone, “Instead of saying sorry, can you clean up after your mess next time?” “Okay, I will,” she said cheerfully.

If it were in the past, an ugly fight would follow. But not on that Monday. I see someone is changing for the better everyday. I am so proud.

Self-Evaluation by Someone I know of

Last Saturday, 10/4/2008, I told both someone and my nephew to write a self-evaluation. The nephew finished it in no time and stayed pretty much on the surface, touching only symptoms of problems, which are signs or indications of something deeper that he is not able at this stage to think of. Such as, instead of saying I have bronchitis, I say I have fever and sore throat, the symptoms of illness.

That night I had a wonderful walk and talk with someone, during which she told me of her self-evaluation. She totally surprised me with her unreserved candidness and rigorousness to the point of being too harsh in her self-exam.  It is no exaggeration to say she revealed herself far above many adults that I know of in her nobleness of mind, her unsparing soul-searching and persistent quest for perfection. Her self-evaluation shows her maturity, self-acceptance and the desire to improve herself.  With her level of maturity, I would hope she should put an end to the epic war between she and her cousin.

In her frank attitude toward her weakness and her mistakes, she put numerous adults, including famous people, to crashing shame. Not so far from our memory are Watergate scandals and Lewinsky story. If the related persons had 1% of her guts and honesty, history would have to be re-written.

To be sure, she has a much short list of her strong points but a rather lengthy and thorough list of her weaknesses. I only need to remind her of avoiding either ungrounded optimism or pessimism. Always face the reality and deal with it with confidence, courage and fortitude. No coverup or denial.

I am so much pleased at this point.  And it is not unreasonable to expect a breakthrough or a giant step forward in her development. Then again,  I know we won’t be perfect and I should be happy with someone with a perfect heart of angelic quality and the courage and the desire to be better than herself.

From Reading Scientific American Mind

Yesterday, 10/5/08, I read a magazine, Scientific American Mind, that we used to subscribe when my son was home, dated 8-9/2008. There are some articles on mind and intelligence that I thought interesting. I jot down for my children some brief ideas below.

One article, “Quiet! Sleeping Brain at Work,” by Robert Stickgold and Jeffrey Ellenboger. I quote the following because both of my children have the tendency to burn midnight oil or cut back their sleep hours.  Also, for those who think sleep is a waste of time or sleep mainly plays the function of repairing damaged cells, read this article or even better, read the following quotes.

“During slumber, our brain engages in data analysis, from strengthing memories to solving problems.”

“Sleep not only strengthen memories, it also lets the brain sift through newly formed memories, possibly even identifying what is worth keeping and selectively maintaining or enhancing these aspects of a memory.”

“As we snoose, our brain is busily processing the information we have learned during the day.”

Sleep makes memories stronger, and it even appears to weed out irrelevant details and background information so that only the important pieces remain.”

“Sleep to remember.” “Sleep does something to improve memory that being awake does not.”

Another article, “High Aptitude Minds: Brain Researchers are Finding Clues to the Biological Basis of Brilliance,” by Christian Hoppe and Jelena Stojanovic. My son once said, “I wish I were as smart as my cousin.” I want to share the following with my son and let him see intelligence index includes other factors.  Also, the article confirms a fact about a high IQ person that both my children and I have known of.

“People often overestimate the importance of intellectual ability. Practice and perseverance contribute more to accomplishment than being smart does.”

IQ is not as important as self-discipline and a willingness to work hard.”  “… students with more self-discipline — a willingness to sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term gain– were more likely than those lacking this skill to improve their grades during the school years. … a high IQ … did not predict a climb in grades.”

This is for my friends with little children.  I never realized the significance of story telling until after I read an article on it from Scientific American Mind magazine. It helps cultivate empathy, creativity, and ability to envision what happens in children’s heads.  Plus, story-telling makes learning easier. Now that I look back, I have come to appreciate more than before the time I once spent reading to my children.  If I could do it again, I would poured more time on story-telling to them.

An Exercise of Self-Evaluation

Indeed, nobody likes to be pointed out his/her mistakes or weakness.  A child who specially cares about face-saving specially dislikes criticism, especially after the child has been adored 99% of times in the past.  Yet, I find it hard to extend compliments when I see much room for improvement, that is, truth must be told without diluting it with praise.

Yestoday I gave my nephew a task — to make a list of his strength and the areas where he thinks he needs to improve.  He asked me, “Do you want me to write about my weaknesses?” I knew he was over-sensitive over the word weaknesses so I don’t want him to get defensive upon this word.  I made my point clear to him.  “I never say the word weakness. I think we all need to improve ourvelves, including me. Don’t you think so?  This is what I want you to write, if you want to be a better person.”  “What do you mean, auntie?  Do you mean I am not a better person now?” he asked.

“You know what kind of person you are.  I just want you to get better than you are now. You can write it if that’s what you want.  It is up to you.  Your sister also must write one.”  Finally he agreed to work on this task.  I was hoping of finding a way for him to know himself instead of being always told of this.

He completed the task in no time. At first he covered it up and would not let me read it. I said, “Ok, you can keep it to yourself. I will just read your sister’s.” Then he offered to let me read. Next he kept pressing me to judge whose writing is better.  I would be too naive to fall for it. “They are different, no good or bad,” I told him.

It is not my intention to challenge the validity of their writings. They are true as long as they believe so. As for me, they serve as a historical reference for their own evaluation at this point of their lives.  If I remember it, I will ask him to make another one in one year. Very interesting indeed!

Life’s Journey

Everyday I drive by SMS High School and see a group of high school freshmen running along Lamar Avenue, I thought of the time when my son was running on this path, that is, back five years ago when he was a high school freshman. Now the road is still there but he is no longer running there.  He told me he was still running, on the MIT campus road in Cambridge. 

I am thinking of years ahead he might not be running on that campus road but on a different one and I bet he will miss all the roads that he has run before.  Still life’s moving on, so will he.  For me, I miss seeing him running along Lamar Avenue in 2003.

Walking with Someone I Know

       This is what I did on Monday, 9/29/2008. I left office around 3:30 PM, leaving for someone’s middle school. She was sitting on the school lawn, waiting for me.  We drove to the bank directly to make some deposit into my son’s bank. Since the bank is not far from a Barnes & Noble’s, that someone asked if she could go there. I took her to nearby Hen House to get something for her dinner, then dropped her at the bookstore. After I reached home, I started the laundry, then started cooking, then dinner, followed by dishwashing and other household work. I also helped my nephew with his English homework. Before I realized, it was about 7:15 PM, time to get that someone back from bookstore.  She kept me waiting for nearly half an hour before we finally left for home.
       It was nearly 8 PM. On the way home, I told her that I could have taken a walk had I not come over to get her. Now it was too dark for me to walk alone.  She said she would walk with me if I wanted to take a walk.  So we did after we got back home.  While walking, she reminded me that she has done me a good turn by accompanying me.  In turn, I reminded her that I have been rendering my service every time I drive her around to places. 
       Things really have changed a lot since she turned 13.  She used to walk with me like this a lot often when she was small.  In fact she used to spend a lot more time with me in the kitchen or in the yard.  It has been some time since she last walked with me.

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