Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Jun 30, 2009

Tidings of Great Joy for All Families of Discontent with Public Schools

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:45 am

On Monday, 6/22, the Supreme Court took the side of an Oregon parents of children with disabilities, ruling that they can claim reimbursement for the cost of private schooling if the public system fails to offer an appropriate program for their child.

A victory for all families who are fed up with the failing public school system. The school gets what it deserves! To be sure, the main concern of US public schools have been “No Child Left Behind,” with the eyes of all teachers being fixed on anyone who are trailing behind the class. Imagine as a nation where this will lead to when public schools ignore those who need to be more challenged and desire to move ahead of the average!

I know of many cases, including those of my children, in which the classes are too easy and the kids get bored, which encourage them to assume a rather slack attitude toward school and study. As my son said he could doze off the class and got an A. To them, school seems nothing but fun, piece of cake, when it should mean education and serious work. It is no exaggeration to say American public schools have failed to prepare the nation for the challenge of the world. That’s why the parents should take an active part if they truly care about their children’s education.

A short and sweet.

1, Jun 29, 2009

Health Tips, Shortcuts, And Not New News

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:23 am

Happy Monday!
From the same magazine that I read a few days ago. Here are 20 Smart Health Shortcuts that I copied from there. Well, I am not sure all of them are helpful, at least not to me. Still, here’s the whole list just in case.

(1) Exfoliate with a washcloth. Skip the fancy products and just go over your face and body with a damp washcloth
(2) Order your medicine by mail (not all the time), often cheaper by dozen.
(3) Do 5-minute workout whenever you got a chance.
(4) Make doctor visits a family affair, just your own job.
(5) Do a mole check in the shower.
(6) Drink a smoothie for vitamin
(7) Carry your own bags to the car, a challenge to your arm muscle.
(8) Get an HPV test with your Pap
(9) Get your calcium and fiber together
(10) Use moisturizer or foundation with SPF
(11) Wash your hands for 10 seconds instead of 30
(12) Nab a nap, whenever you can.
(13) Lift weights while watching TV
(14) Have a meeting on the move, instead of sitting for hours accumulating body fat.
(15) Add vegetables to foods you are already eating
(16) Substitute quinoa for rice
(17) Add edamame to your salad
(18) Sprinkle ground flaxseed on cereal or yogurt
(19) Consider an electric toothbrush
(20) Squeeze in a quickie

Health news, actually not new any more. I read them before and just feel the urge to share with the readers, probably for the 10th times. Bear with me if you read it before. Pot belly, even a small one, increase your risk of heart disease. Keep your waistline within normal range. Adding inches to your waistline is worse than adding a few pounds to your weight. Fat around your waist is more risky than around your hip.

The health benefit of EGCG, a component from green tea, are:
(1) Cardiovascular health, decrease the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
(2) Weight loss, higher metabolism, fat burning, less fat storage
(3) Anti-cancer, one of the most powerful antioxidants that exists in nature.
(4) Arthritis, anti-inflammatory properties
(5) Diabetes, may help regulate blood glucose levels.
(6) Best of all — anti-aging effect, young forever, sort of, not exactly.

EGCG actually helps slow down the aging process, improve overall health because of its antioxidant abilities to strengthen, repair and optimize cellular health.

Here’s to your health — green tea!

1, Jun 28, 2009

Appreciation — Key to Better Any Human Relationship

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:14 am

Imagine this–
A child likes to draw and draws everywhere, which upsets one of her parents who scolds her for not reading like other kids, “Look at your friend… Why don’t you take up a book and read?”

Another child likes to use his hands making stuffs but has not learned to clean afterward. Instead of recognizing the child’s special aptitude, one of his parent says to him, “You are only good at making a big mess. You are such a good for nothing.”

A wife likes to save water from kitchen and uses it for flushing toilet. Instead of appreciating her effort at saving, the husband tells her, “I don’t like your doing this.”

A husband enjoys cleaning the floor. He cleans it everyday with full force. The wife asks him, “Can’t you find something better to do than this?”

I have tons of real life examples of failure to appreciate the activities or efforts of other people, and of being negative no matter what other’s doing. You don’t need a good imagination to see the consequences of finding faults with each other. Dear readers, start being appreciative and you will see sunshine no matter where you turn, a win-win attitude, good for everybody.

1, Jun 27, 2009

Michael Jackson, a Sad Reflection of the End of a Talented Singer

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:02 am

It was a great pity that he was only a talented super-star singer. A sensation at that, but no more no less. Why was he a great pity?

First, with money and world-scale fame, he could have made a monumental difference and touched the lives of millions of people; like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( When you have this sky-high potential to do good for the mankind, it was border-line idiotic to turn away from it.

Instead, he bought in 1987 a 2,800-acre property northwest of Santa Barbara for $14.6 million, naming it Neverland after Peter Pan movie, attracting thousands of children to come and entertain him. Can you think of anything more bizarre than this? Once again, his limited brain power got him into a multi-million-dollar lawsuit for molesting young boys and other indecent behavior issues. How far-away was he from being sane and sensible when he squandered millions like this? Light years away. I cannot think of a single good word for him now. In fact, I am better off keeping all my bad opinions to myself.

Second, it was a great pity to see a cute decent 5-year-old black boy (I saw a very old picture of him) being transformed into a snow-white, long-haired stranger with multiple plastic surgeries.

Third, there was an obvious absence of a wise and sensible adviser or guide who might helped him stay on a normal track. People around him giving him advice and influencing his decision must either have an IQ of a third grader or deliberately lead him to go to his ruins for their own interests. I am sure there are tons of people who were eager to capitalize on his talent.

The list of great pities could be endlessly long and I could write a long posting on this super-star, but I decided against posting every single word of criticism. A lesson heavy enough for all of us to learn!

1, Jun 26, 2009

Lesson Learned on the Last Day of Her Summer Class

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:39 am

Yesterday was the last day of the first session of my daughter’s summer class at SMW. Actually today should be the last day. The teacher told the class that those with average grade = A did not need to come today.

Yesterday, my daughter spent part of the day chatting and playing while those who had to come were busy preparing for the final.

She observed that it almost seemed unfair that some people were having fun while some others had to work hard through the boring stuff. I told her, “I don’t know the reason for those who lag behind, either because they have not worked hard enough or because of their limited brain power. No matter what, you should count your blessing that it doesn’t take you much effort to get serious work done and still have time for fun. Stretching this situation to your whole life, how much fun will you have if you can get job done easily and in a short time frame?

Indeed, with a fixed amount of time in our limited lifetime, the less time spent on things we dislike, the more time we have for our own enjoyment. Got it?

1, Jun 25, 2009

Like mother, like daughter. A New discovery!

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:49 am

On a Wednesday evening, I took my daughter to a sporting goods store to buy her a pair of skate shoes. She has been skating almost everyday since spring break. I am glad to see she has made some friends on the rink. While having some fun with her new friends, she has noticed most of the children there are younger than she is. This must have prompted her to practice hard and make giant leap forward.

She asked me if I ever felt depressed. This reminded me of the moment after I handed in all the term papers and finished all the exams, at the end of a semester. I suddenly found myself having nothing to do and nothing to keep me busy. And that was the moment when I felt rather low in spirits or depressed. So I told her, “It is when I found myself going about the life without any goal or pursuit that I feel depressed.” She said she felt the same way. “I must have a goal to live on,” said she.

Like mother, like daughter. A new discovery!

1, Jun 24, 2009

Tips on Reducing Housework

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:09 am

How we love getting rid of any household work! These are from Woman’s Day magazine, 5/2009, that I read while waiting for my daughter’s art class.

Tips on reducing housework
(1) Time yourself
(2) Make things easy. Always look for easy way to get things done.
(3) Move thing the right way, top to bottom, inside to outside
(4) Clean while messing, clean while cooking instead of leaving a big mess after cooking
(5) Do a quick 5-minutes cleaning instead of waiting for things dreadfully piled up.

Sweet and short. More from this magazine on health later.

1, Jun 23, 2009

One Year Anniversary of Mom Write Part 2

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 12:45 am

Continue from yesterday’s celebration. But no more home-made candle today.

(4) Writing is the most intense brain activity, according to a Japanese neuroscientist. This means keeping the blog alive is as good to my brain as keeping an old baby from getting old. So lovely. An old acquaintance of mine so kindly commented “You have aged gracefully.” Thanks to my blogging and no thanks for his comment.

(5) Since its inception I have shared it with some of my former classmates, current and former friends, a relative, and a colleagues who has left the company and another one who does not work in the same clinic as mine. I don’t think they are ever interested in my writing or even my life, but in case they ever are wondering about my current status, here’s a window. Not sure anyone ever peeped through, though. In fact, I am not sure if I should list it here at all.

What actually happened rather unexpectedly is the site has been haunted overwhelmingly by over-zealous viagra sellers and pernicious porn hawkers, who swarm over MomWrite like toxic flies, leaving tons of links and nasty comments. Sometimes, I have to spend tremendous amount of time cleaning their presence from my site, blocking their IP addresses one by one, leaving me extremely mad, so mad that I feel like breaking somebody’s neck if I could grab that somebody! I am positively sure that they have patronized MomWrite more than any of goodwill readers. I have to disable comments and tracks a month after the postings. One day I had to manually block a few hundreds of IP address like the following, only much longer than this list.

Some people are over-nosy, checking the whois of momwrite, that is, the identity of the owner. Here’s the answer: the site owner will remain anonymous to protect the privacy of the owner’s children.

So much for reflection. Now looking ahead, what do I see? Nothing in particular, no plan, no framework or outline or idea where the site will head for, what format, what topic that the site will touch. So nice to know. Now this is the perfect moment to end the day.

1, Jun 22, 2009

Hours of Discontinuity of Momwrite Today

Filed under: Miscellaneous — admin @ 10:31 pm

As I was celebrating the site’s one year anniversary today, the site was abruptly and expectedly taken away for a few hours, as if it disappeared to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. I registered the domain name exactly one year ago, 6/22/2008. When I failed to renew it upon its expiration date, this is what has to happen. Both my daughter and I got a bit panic. I called my son, who got it fixed in no second.

Now I learn my lesson.

One Year Anniversary of Mom Write Part 1

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:06 am

The site certainly deserves a better candle than this one personally drawn by the site owner. Time to celebrate at least for having been around for one whole long year.

6/22/2008 — the date seems so right to me, all can be evenly divided by 2, without any remainder — thus a lucky day. Well, one year later, today, 6/22/2009, marks one year anniversary of Mom Write site. Time for a little bit reflection. I went back to see my initial justification for the birth of the site. Now, I greatly realize that one needs to be revised or simply done away.

Reflection? Why bother? One might ask. Well, there got to be some reason for any activity. For now, all I can say is it makes me feel good if I do because I got into the habit of looking backward after a few forward steps. I know it is going to be boring and I could be worse than being boring. Still, bear with me, since it is like your birthday, only once a year. That is, no lunar year birthday.

To be sure, writing is an intellectual activity, a verbalized product of what the writer experiences externally and internally and the interactions between the two. Like all human activities, we all tend to give meaning to it, so that we will feel better when we tell ourselves, “Ah-ah, we have had a meaningful life’s experience.” But then, any meaning that we give to our experience is subjective in nature and could be light year’s away from the truth, if there is one or if truth really matters; and hence can be shrug off as excuses or apology or even shameless pretense.

This reminds me of Elie Wiesel’s book Night. In his preface to the new translation, he asked himself, “Why did I write it? Did I write it so as not to go mad … Was it to leave behind a legacy of words, of memories, … Or was it simply to preserve a record of the ordeal I endured as an adolescent, … ?” After many self-questioning, Wiesel concludes “I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer–or my life, period — would not have become what it is …” What a heavy conclusion! No wonder he is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Back to reality, I think it best to leave out any statement on purposes and mission of my writing or of any activities and focus on the consequence of these activities. It is more objective to let end justify the mean. The following observations are presented in the order of their appearance in my consciousness:

(1) One of my relatives has been reading my postings nearly everyday. I have no doubt that her English reading level has been greatly advanced through this language exposure. Not that my English is exemplary but this daily exposure certainly yields positive result.

(2) Writing can be viewed as a channel of expression and an exchange of ideas or prejudice, reach out, good or bad. I am glad to see some responds to my writing and their positive comments are so encouraging.

(3) One rule that I set for myself is to stay positive simply because I do not want to ruin readers’ day or night, depending when it is read. However, staying positive can be a challenge sometimes if you experience negatively and are in negative mood, only mathematically possible when a negative times negative producing a positive result. Still, the process of writing it down does attenuate your negative feeling and then reading it afterward helps lengthen the distance between you and your experience, and enable you to put things in perspective. That’s why I find writing rather therapeutic. Even though I never produce anything of good quality when my head is boiling with anger, I still write it while memory is fresh and expect fire to be burned out eventually. I am sure we all have this moment, once in a while.

I realize one of my major weaknesses is having produced too lenghy postings to encourage active reading. I promise to cut it in half after this celebration.

To be continued tomorrow…

1, Jun 21, 2009

Parental Supervision — Our Generation and The Next One

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:47 am

Most of us grew up with the least parental supervision and the maximum dose of freedom, as our parents were fully engaged in their work. Remember work always came first to them.

When I think of it, we were really lucky to grow up under this loose supervision. In summer, we were free to chase butterflies or dragonflies, climbed up trees to explore bird nests. Not that we should, but we could. We made toys out of whatever trash we could get our hands on. Had to be creative to amuse ourselves.

Our children’s generation seems to be mostly over-supervised, especially in China, for the purpose of bringing up a really accomplished person. For some parents, it has become a second full-time job to supervise the children’s study and other activities. Literally, a parent has no other life than supervising the child’s study.

Thus, children are left less and less space to grow, observe, imagine and dream in the fertile land of their minds, etc. To be sure, some children of this generation are really highly accomplished, like an 11-year-old girl that I know of, but the cost is too dear in the long run.

Of two parental control, which is better: under-supervision or over-supervision? Not an easy question. It depends on many factors. A child might need to be over-supervised if he/she is addicted to anything other than study. From my personal experience, I like Patrick Henry’s either-or liberty-death option.

By the way, today is Father’s Day. My son called home to say Happy Father’s Day and my daughter got a card for her dad. Happily ended a day.

The end for all three parts. I will make sure my children read these three postings. I know my daughter has read them and is in full agreement with me. So nice to know.

1, Jun 20, 2009

Our Generation– Growing Up in a Honey Jar

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 7:38 pm

We were often told that we were born into and growing up in a honey jar, never having tasted the bitterness of the pre-liberation old society. Our parents should see what a real honey jar is.

To be sure, we grew up never feeling deprived of basic daily necessities, even though we did not have TV, car, computer, cell phone, even toys, etc. I remember I took apart our stationed radio and sitting clock. Must be really bored. Since our parents were so dedicated to their work, they never thought of making money as the goals of their lives. Thus, when we came to America, nearly all of us came on scholarships, not a penny from our parents. Even so, we could save enough to send money back to our parents to fulfill our filial duties. When I was pregnant with my son, I worked at a restaurant and did what the third year Ph.D program required me to do.

20 years later, the next generation came along. As I observe children like our 26-year-old relative and reflect upon my own children, I can see the undesirable side of growing up with more money than it is good.

Unlike our generation, most of the children of next generation came to America fully funded by either their parents or their relatives, not on their own merits. They never have to work during the summer or anytime at all. What’s wrong with this? See what actually happened.

The young man came here in 2006 first to learn the language, then got into a graduate program. It took longer than expected to pass English test and much longer to complete a master program. After 3 years, the runner is still running and expecting to reach the destination early next year. Would you take this long if you had to fund your schooling with your own hard-earned money? Life has been too easy and money flows in without their lifting a finger. In reality, money has served to weaken or even destroy their wills to strike out on their own.

More than a waste of money, a person actually wasted a few years of his life if he can actually start working at age 27. I learned that this boy was doing better than some other spoiled kids of this generation who need much longer time than he did.

To me, the waste of time is the biggest crime that a youth can possibly commit. Imagine how much value you can contribute to society, to your family and yourself in these 5 years from age 22, college graduation to age 27! A 22-year-old young man would work for anything, had his family not been so wealthy!

The third generation, that of our children’s, enjoy more wealth than we did during our childhood. Yet, if you think money has helped make their lives better, think again.

The end for part two. To be continued…

1, Jun 19, 2009

Three Generations: Our Parents, Our Children and Everybody in Between

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:49 am

A friend of mine called me last Monday, asking about my children and what they were doing during the summer. Next she talked nearly non-stop about her boy, who is younger than my daughter. Well, to be exact, her mind was fully jammed with complaints about him and his addiction to computer games. I told her that my son was like this when he was this age. We simply have to keep on working on them until they become a bit mature. We cannot risk not to intervene.

She said she was very much on the verge of giving up her effort. “I remember when I was small, my parents never worried about us. We just took care of ourselves and were never like kids of this generation…” Indeed, our parents never spent this much time on us and we still grew into responsible adults.

This brought me back to these long-gone care-free childhood days, the way we were brought up and the memories that I have of my parents and their generation.

My parents grew up during China’s civil war years, before 1949. Both of them grew up in countryside, joined the army and then communist party, after 1949, settled in big cities. Throughout their lives, they believed in dedicating their lives single-mindedly to the revolutionary cause, with total self-sacrifice and self-effacement. They totally immersed their own ideal and dreams into those of the large cause, always subordinating self, their family to this large cause.

Not that they did not love their children as much as we do ours, but that they were not supposed to think of their children as much as we do now. Their thoughts and their lives were very much influenced, shaped and determined by the times and society they happened to find themselves in. That is, they were not able to transcend their times and environment.

In fact, our parents were as much the products of their times as we were of ours. By the time we, the second generation, became parents, times have changed so fundamentally. One thing for sure, opposite to our parents, we always think of our family and our children first, work last.

So much for part one today. To be continued…

1, Jun 18, 2009

Selling Blood for Money? Getting a Second Job?

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 12:59 am

I know I have talked a lot about money. How I hate this topic! Too bad living through this financial crisis, we simply cannot shake the topic out of our heads. Plus, as I come from a different culture and being rather old fashioned at that, I feel rather compulsive at seizing every opportunity to drill the concept of saving into my children. They grew up in the richest and the most wasteful land of all, that is, spoiled under our loving care without ever feeling deprived. Indeed, how I dislike this culture of massive consumption. Okay, here’s another one.

A friend of mine, a young one, talked to me about making money quickly, because that friend of mine needed money badly in order to pay the bills. I learn that some people take second jobs or even consider selling blood for money.

To be sure, my friend needs money all the time — for clothes, parties, for drink, hair, nails, rent, gas, water, electricity, cable TV, cell phone, etc. It is so sad that we have to sacrifice extra time in order to pay all these bills. Oh, how I hate having my precious time taken away this way!

I am concerned when I think of my children. Unless they have the ability to make unlimited income, they must find a system to make sure that they don’t over-spend their paycheck like most of young people today.

I told my daughter during our daily walk that, no matter how much or how little she makes, she must put down at least 10% of her paycheck into savings and must not get herself in a situation where she has to work two jobs to make ends meet.

I know my teaching runs against the mainstream practice of spending more than one’s income through borrowing. I seem to over-emphasize on saving instead of making money. Well, here’s my newest and greatest statement: you should either have the ability to make unlimited income or saving as much as you can. No matter what, never find yourself in any dire financial situation.

1, Jun 17, 2009

Unwilling Donor in Bad Economic Time

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 12:52 am

Yesterday during lunch time, I was on my way to SMW on 83red street. Suddenly, I heard police siren threatening from behind. I checked my rear mirror and saw a police car following me. “Do I look like a terrorist or what?” Not sure what was going on, I stopped the car. A young policeman stepped out of his car and walked toward me with a triumphant look.

He accused me of violating traffic law by “turning right on red light.” “I thought we could turn right as long as the traffic was clear,” I explained. “Not here,” the cop said with a faint smile on the corner of his month and a haha-got-ya look. He checked my license and insurance, then wrote a ticket of a heavy fine, saying he could double this fine and could send this traffic law violation to my insurance company, which means raising my insurance premium. I protested, he told me I could get into more trouble for showing contempt for law. I could saw the end result of throwing an egg against a rock and I didn’t want to be that egg. So, I shut up and drove away.

I have never tasted the destructive power of a law enforcement till that moment. I was mad beyond words. I told my daughter about this on the way home. Both of us were boilingly mad and throwing out bad words profusely. Finally, I said “Let’s consider this as a donation to the police department since money is in short supply everywhere and that policeman was just trying to raise money, except I cannot claim it as tax deductible donation.”

P.S. today I looked for the sign saying no turn on red at that intersection. Indeed, there is one. Still, it doesn’t say specifically no RIGHT turn on red as the conventional wisdom implies on left turn on red. Ouch, it hurts to pay for this ambiguity.

P.S. 6/18, I talked to someone else about this sign and was told blankly, “No turn on red means no turn whatever, left or right.” I knew it. Just need to be told again.

1, Jun 16, 2009

The Culture of Non-Confrontation with Language of Ambiguity

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:40 am

Another great American experience of mine.
This incident occurred many years ago when I volunteered at my children’s elementary school’s chess club. When I offered to play a chess game with a boy, he said, “I’m fine.” I interpreted it as “Okay, I agree.” “So, where shall we play?” I asked. “I’m okay. I’m good,” he said. What did that mean? After one more exchange, I asked him directly “Yes or no.” Still, without a direct answer, he told me he had agreed to play with another boy. Finally, it dawned upon my thick head that he had meant NO all this time while I kept associating words “fine, okay, good” with positive YES. Afterward, I kept thinking of this incident. Why did the boy never answer NO directly? Not that he couldn’t but he wouldn’t.

From then on, I have observed this and found out people always never say NO to your offer. “Can I help you?” a salesperson asks you. “I’m fine” should be the answer instead of “I don’t need your help.”

Another incident, I brought something delicious to the office and told one of my co-workers to try it, “I’m good” was the answer, instead of telling you “I’m not interested” or “No, I don’t want to try.” They don’t want to hurt your feeling by giving you a direct NO. Such a civilized polite answer! From such a considerate heart! Yes or no. I have no explanation.

All these statement — “I’m fine.” “I’m good.” “I’m okay” means NO, or leave me alone, I am good without your bothering me, I don’t want your offer, etc.

More on the language of refinement. Instead of saying the child is stupid, an idiot, a parent describes her retarded child as “mentally challenged”, “mentally handicapped”, having “mental disability”, or an 18-year-old having an IQ of a 5-year-old. So lovely and humanely put it.

I have observed people are very much non-confrontational to each other, another feature of American culture. When they have something unpleasant to say, they choose not to say it in front of you. As soon as you are out of sight, the behind-back talk or gossip begins. Passive aggressiveness, a rampant practice from some over-fertile minds.

After being in this land for 1/4 of a century, I cannot say I have got used to it and become part of the practice. I can say I am comfortable with non-face-to-face confrontation. Without realizing it, putting on a polite and happy mask has become my second nature.

1, Jun 14, 2009

Parenting Style and Attitude — Key to Any Teen Problems

Filed under: children,Reading — admin @ 12:42 am

Recently, I have talked with some friends over the phone about our teenage children. To be sure, there are more complaints than anything else. I have to admit that my children are far from being perfect, but no matter how upset I feel at times, I try to remember the time when they were just tiny babies and the huge responsibility on my shoulder. In fact, they are still children in many ways, even though they may act like they are independent grow-ups.

This reminds me of the conflict between my own child and the other adult in our house which almost led to the outcast of the minor. The irrational nature of some parents can very well write a tragic ending for any real parent-child conflict story. Yes, sometimes reality appears more unreal than fiction. Thus, every time I hear parents complaining of the minors, I firmly believe the parents are the guilty ones, without any exception. All children are angels, that is, until parents bring out the demon side in them through the most ugly form of fight and abuse.

No matter what happens, we only need to remember one thing, that is, we need to continue caring and protecting them till they become truly grow-up and ready for any challenges that may come on their way.

This is what I read from a book on teen problems. There are four main factors that can contribute to teen problems

1) Teen’s personality
2) Parent’s personality
3) The childhood experience
4) Parenting style

The decisive factor is the last one — parenting style. A proper parenting style can eliminate the impacts of the first three factors, those that are beyond our control.

Imagine what life would be like if both teen and the parent have a temper as hot as fire, reacting to each other in the same unthinking and knee-jerk manner, having the same negative and conflict-ridden attitude toward each other!  One of them got to change in order to avoid constant clash. It is the parent who is supposed to act like a responsible adult and take initiative in managing any conflicts between a child and the parent. I know this can be a real challenge to some adults who stubbornly refuse to change for their children.

One step backward. What if unfortunately that parent is not mature enough to change him/herself? Don’t be surprised. Some people grow up only physically but never emotionally, remaining pure teenager mentality throughout their lives. This is when the adult acts like a immature child, degrading him/herelf to the same level as the teen and this is how the problems or conflict are set in motion and escalating in most cases, which might eventually lead to a very undesirable and even disastrous ending.  

Wait! This is not the end of the world. There is still hope. The hope lies in another adult. If the teen is fortunate enough to have another parent who is understanding and capable of enlightening this problematic immature parent, or who is powerful enough to intervene between the two conflicting sides.

The real disaster can fall upon a teen when both parents are hopelessly irreparable, child-like warriors, with you-name-it irredeemable flaws in them, capable of creating hell instead of a heaven for the child under his/her roof. In case like this, the teen is better off living under a foster care.  Bless your heart that this is as rare a case as seeing a real panda in a super-market. One more blessing to count.

My experience with my teens confirm my belief in the overwhelming power of parenting style. After all, a teen is still a child, not physically though, and you are their unfailing protector. Behold, the sun will break through the dark cloud and shine in your house, as long as we parents act like responsible adults and maintain our rule with proper parenting style. I have seen this sunlight. Yes, life is so good with dreams like this.

1, Jun 13, 2009

The Values Greatly Sought After and Painfully Absent

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:31 am

How are these values important to you — least, somewhat, or very important? That’s what our company asked us to answer in a monkey survery last Friday. I am sure these values are industry standards, not invented by us, though I don’t know where they copy them. To be sure, most of them are sadly and painfully absent here. Here they are.

1. Customer Service
Committed to service and quality; deliver strong customer service; believe everyone is a customer; strive to exceed our customers’ expectations; put our customers’ needs and desires above our own; measure our success by our customers’ satisfaction

2. Accountability
Take responsibility for our work and actions; act like owners; deliver on promises made; have a strong work ethic; pride ourselves on operational excellence; take pride in the work we do

3. New Ideas
Welcome new and different ways of thinking and working; are constantly thinking, “How can I make this better?”; value a spirit of continuous improvement; embrace technology and the efficiencies it enables; are innovative

4. Communication
Demonstrate candor, honesty, and forthrightness; express opinions willingly; value and respect the thoughts and opinions of others; are active listeners

5. Energy
Demonstrate sense of urgency; are fast-paced and active in our work; have a positive, can-do attitude; are self-motivated, self-starters; approach work with excitement; are energized by a desire to help others

6. Results
Meet commitments and deadlines; are metrics-focused; approach projects with stated goals and objectives; are decisive, assertive, and persistent in our convictions; meet customer and financial objectives

7. Collaboration
Value a team approach; seek feedback; build consensus; value trust rather than control; give credit to others vs. take; are flexible; support organizational goals

8. Analytical Thinking
Understand complexity; are analytical; show intellectual curiosity; are students of healthcare; are problem-solvers; are experts in our fields; learn from our mistakes; make informed decisions

9. Respect for Others
Respect others at all levels; develop and value relationships; engage with others; exhibit humility; are sensitive to the values inherent in community-based cancer care; treat each other fairly with courtesy and respect

10. Ethical Standards
Seek to do and say the right thing; are trustworthy and honest; respect confidentiality; adhere to a clear system of ethics, standards and values; comply with US Oncology’s Code of Conduct; pride ourselves on operational excellence

11. Self Care
We honor and care for ourselves as multidimensional beings – body , mind, heart and spirit. We take responsibility to care for ourselves on these various levels in order to live fully with focused intention. We seek to cultivate peace, love and joy within ourselves and to share this with those who enter our circle of care. We value a balance between work responsibilities and our personal private life.

I vote “very important” to all of them.
P.S. I asked HR person who invented the above. The answer confirmed my initial thought. They copied them from the Internet somewhere, but forgot where. LOL.

1, Jun 12, 2009

Welcome to Green Day’s American Idiot

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:41 am

I can’t get American Idiot off my idiot head. Mind you these are not my word. I would use a much polite language though not as to the point as Green Day’s. I have not done any research into the making of this song, but American culture as it is, is one of vulgarity, trivialities and all the words you can think of to that effect. What can you say of a culture when they turn away from burning issues like global warming and mass-killing wars, but fix their laser-sharp eyes on gay marriage, abortion and what was going on in other people’s bedroom? The popular minds of mainstream America simply cannot grasp or care anything happened globally. Here are the wonderful song by Green Day.

Don’t wanna be an American idiot
Don’t want a nation under the new media
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All across the alien nation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
Television dreams of tomorrow
We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow
For that’s enough to argue

Well maybe I’m the faggot America
I’m not a part of a redneck agenda
Now everybody do the propaganda
And sing along to the age of paranoia

Don’t want to be an American idiot
One nation controlled by the media
Information age of hysteria
It’s going out to idiot America.


Encore! Isn't that a wonderful song? Let's sing together, shall we?
Thus ends the song of idiot America or American idiot and the day of a happy idiot.

1, Jun 11, 2009

Never Underestimate the Killing Power of Belief

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 9:50 am

Yesterday was a sad day for people who happened to be in U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, witnessing the killing perpetrated by an 88-year-old white supremacist. Another hate crime, driven by a belief, too crazy to contain itself.

When you expect people to become sweet and mellow, reconciled with the world, as they reach age 88 and are ready to say goodbye, unfortunately not with this one who has harbored a lifelong hatred against Jews, blacks and any non-white beings.

When we chased madly for terrorists aboard, we expect least hate-crime terrorists dangerously living among us — anti-abortion (George Tiller), anti-gay (Matthew Shepard), anti-nonwhite, and who-knows-what-else. It is so disturbing to see what people, even at this age, would do simply because they believe the world is wrong from their perspective. Once again, never under-estimate the power of belief.

1, Jun 10, 2009

Watch Out: Children Are Imitating Their Parents

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:46 am

You can always see traces of parents’ habits and lifestyle, behavior and belief in children. I am not particular about food, taking no special pleasure in good food. If I have something in mind, like some work or project, I don’t have appetite for anything until I get it done. Since the children spend more time with me, I observe the same attitude toward food in them.

Therefore, unlike many families, we seldom spend a lot of time on food preparation on weekend. We spend more time in bookstore or some other places than at kitchen. Last weekend, the other adult cooked more dishes than before, causing us wondering if the nephew was coming back or we were expecting someone coming over. Indeed, the nephew came back. You can always tell when the boy is coming by the amount of dishes prepared. The boy told us some of his health problem which was related to his lifestyle. Well, actually his family’s.

I have been careful to follow a lifestyle of exercise plus diverse food intake. So do both of my children. One more good thing that I have done so far!

I am not well-organized, with stuffs scattering everywhere and seeing the exact copy of this in my children. Therefore, I cannot justify my complaint of their mess when they are doing you-know-what — copying me. Therefore, parents, watch your own behavior, your lifestyle, if you don’t want to see any of those in your children.

1, Jun 9, 2009

Off the Line, Get a life and Be an Active Player

Filed under: Technologies — admin @ 10:14 pm

“Get a life,” the child said to the parent, as if the child had a life of his/her own. I heard this at least three times before, including one from my child. A friend of mine told me that her daughter told her “Get a hobby, get a life” right before she left for college. In other word, “I am off on my own and you stop living a life through mine.”

When I was on my children’s back about their failed commitments and responsibilities, I was often told to “get a life” and leave them alone. Good thing never comes singly. Last weekend, a friend of mine told me that her son told her to “get a life.”

That is an interesting expression. Lately I have observed the behavior of some teenagers that I know of. I found out that it was high time that we should tell these youngsters to “get a life,” a life away from Internet. Frankly, they throw too much of their lives on the Internet, without the time to experience the life of their own.

These people are such excellent consumers of Internet culture that they seem to be without life other than living a life through those of the Internet producers, in much the same manner as babies being hooked on TV.

To be sure, Internet provides rich supply of nearly everything and we are all Internet consumers to certain extent. Of the top sites globally, the first two are search engines, Google, Yahoo!, followed by YouTube, Facebook, Windows Live, Microsoft Network, Wikipedia, Blogger, Baidu, MySpace, … ebay, Amazon, Twitter, etc. Internet addicts are those who find life away from the Internet boring, meaningless, not as exciting as virtual life on the Internet. How real can that be!

I shared this with my children — unless we can wean ourselves off this Internet addiction and stop this mad waste of time on the Internet, we will forever be the onlookers, consumers, viewers, observers, living our lives through others, instead of being producers, active players or even key players in this game of life, and living to the fullest a life of our own.

1, Jun 8, 2009

End of Summer Break and Start of Summer School

Filed under: Education — admin @ 8:24 am

Today is the first day of summer school for my daughter. The school runs 7 AM to noon, Monday to Friday, for six weeks from 6/8 to 7/24, with one week break around 4th of July week. The whole family got up bright and early today, getting her ready for the first day at SMW High at 85th Street and Antioch.

The plan is if one adult sends her to the school in the morning, the other adult will fetch her back after school at noon. It really takes two persons to be of her service. She wanted to take summer courses last year but was not able to get the cooperation from another adult in the family. 2008 was a bad year for her. She felt bad for not being able to go to some class last summer.

Today during lunch break, one of the adults went to her school, got her some lunch on the way, then would drive her to skating place directly at 135th street and Quivira, about 13 miles, where she would skate in the afternoon till I got off from work and took her home.

I told my colleagues that I would have to go to SMW during lunch break. They looked somewhat puzzled over her taking high school course during summer when she could stay home doing nothing for the summer. I have to credit my daughter tremendously for taking on this task and her willingness to work through an otherwise lazy and relaxing summer. I am also glad to see that she chooses to go her own way regardless what everybody is going.

1, Jun 7, 2009

A Chinese Sunday School and the Teaching of Chinese

Filed under: Education — admin @ 8:38 pm

Sunday morning, my mind flashed back to six years ago when my son first started teaching Chinese to a family of four. He was 14 years old. I used to prepare lessons for him, teaching him how to read and write right before the class. Both of my children can speak fluently in Chinese, without accent. They are comfortable with it as long as you don’t ask them to read and write.

Time relentlessly rushed by. I missed those days when I drove him to that American family on Sunday morning. At that time, many Chinese American children went to Chinese Sunday school, learning Chinese. But not my children. If they expressed the desire to learn, I could always teach, not that I am a great teacher but that at least we didn’t have to pay.

Now looking back, I don’t think they really miss anything by not going to a Chinese school. Their spoken Chinese is good enough for them to pass for native Chinese when they are in China. A 13-year-old neighboring Chinese girl went to that school but still speaks so like a native American and is so limited in her ability to express herself in Chinese. She is not alone in that. While my daughter listens to Chinese stories and songs, the neighboring girl cannot comprehend. What can I say?

1, Jun 6, 2009

Your Endless Desire Restricted by Your Limited Paycheck

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 12:19 am

A neighbor of mine told me they never had enough no matter how much the bread-maker in the family brought home.

This brings to my mind another aspect of securing financial security — our financial situation depends on both making and spending money. Many people have their eyes on making money, but not on how they squander money like water and running faster than they can make. Imagine this!

We were at graduate school when my son came along unexpectedly. We lived on the meager income from part-time teaching and scholarship. While we never deprived ourselves, we still managed to keep growing thousands of savings.

Have you realized that your desire is fathomless but your paycheck is so miserably limited? Unless you know how to spend wisely, you will never be able to know financial security. How? Spend only on things you really need not what you desire. You reward yourself with some luxury only when you have done something deserving this. A simple and sweet truth for anyone who cannot make unlimited income for their equally limitless desires.

1, Jun 5, 2009

Democracy Fighters were Far Above 80% of Chinese Population

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:01 am

I was aware how unpopular my position was while I was writing it, especially when the whole western world rallies itself behind the so-called democracy fighters or Tiananmen heroes, as if they represent the whole China. Still, I chose to come out with what I truely feel, even if it means going against the flow. Call it disrespect or even outrageous. I owe an explanation to my readers and my children.

First of all, the governing of country must be first and foremost deeply human, in that the basic physical human needs for every member in a society must be met before anything else. Whatever the motives for these student leaders, they were far above 80% of Chinese people who daily struggle to make ends meet and can’t care less about democracy or whatever. Food and shelter, health and security are their main concerns. If anything, these handful leads represented a tiny fraction of Chinese population who are well-fed and heeled and have never experienced the hardship of the under-fed, unshod and unclothed, and those who live on the brink of starvation and expiration.

Secondly, on the corruptions, we know no government is immune from this disease. Chinese government is well aware of it and has everything intention of having a clean government. Who wouldn’t? Only it cannot. The corrupt force can very well overpower a government. See what happened during Bush administration — resulting in a legacy of wiping out 10 of thousands of people during his two pet wars and trillion dollar deficit and the wonderful economy like this today.

The only hope for a clean government in China lies in openness and a full-fledged establishment and enforcement of laws and order, leaving nobody above these laws. American society is legally very mature, not through anything like our dearest “democracy fighters.”

Third, on tight control of Chinese government, a unified tight control state is better than a divided falling-apart one like former Soviet Union. Well, best situation for western divide-and-conquer. Throughout Chinese history, successful state heads all unified China through heavy power. The current government is no exception. Government itself is a necessary evil. I give Chinese government mountains of credits for making China what she is now.

I do not endorse the government’s handling of those inexperienced student leaders like Wuerkaixi and Chai Ling, etc, like shooting flies with atom bombs, though I am honestly sympathetic toward Chinese government. I could strike a better deal with these stupid babies than whoever in power. It will be left to historians of future generation to write this chapter. History will reveal its true picture and whatever impact it might have on Chinese society at that moment, from the interests of the whole nation.

This event is a sad reminder, showing us how a tiny spark can trigger a prairie fire that can engulf the whole land, having enough heat to burn us all. China is such an ideal place for this fire. Don’t we enjoy seeing her burn to ashes? That would be too hot for June and too much pollution.
Sorry, I am a lost dog in a rainy night, looking for shelter

1, Jun 4, 2009

Chinese “Democracy Fighters” = Good for Nothing

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:01 am

Today marks 20th anniversary of Tiananmen demonstration. 20 years ago, my son was a baby and I was young and vastly stupid. I am glad I am wiser now.

Looking back, I feel ashamed of those so-called “democracy fighters,” who are so far away from the reality of the grass-root Chinese people and have no idea what these people really want in life. Democracy is genuinely empty to anyone who has to struggle everyday for his empty stomach. It is the last thing a man will think of when he cannot bring food to the table for his family.

Democracy sounds so hollow, out-of-touch, hypocritical, useless —
When school age children cannot afford to go to school,
When children go days without a decent meal,
When parents have to go far away for jobs, leaving their babies behind,
When the sick have no money to see doctor,
When decent people cannot find a decent job,
When poverty-stricken families have to sell their children,
When thousands of girls have to sell their bodies to support their families,
When thousands of baby girls are abandoned for want of boys,
When people never see blue sky because of pollution,
When homeless people reached out for a penny on Beijing streets,
When a man has to steal food for his disease-plagued wife,
When a person is dying of starvation and illness…

Chinese are very practical people, following the golden rule of “Black or white, a cat is good as long as it catches rats.” There are millions of things ordinary people must take care first before the need of democracy crops out. Here’s my valuable advice to those well-fed, richly-dressed, lard-filled, fat-faced from overeating “democracy fighters,” if you genuinely care for Chinese people, do at least one practical thing for those under-privileged, to raise them out of disease, ignorance, poverty, and crimes. There are millions of those out in China. For example,
feed the hungry,
Clothes the poor,
Shelter the homeless,
heal the sick,
assist the old,
educate the young,
adopt the abandoned, etc.
There are millions of chances to make a difference in people’s lives, for the better materially. Something or anything is better than empty slogans.

Alas, the world is so full of big talkers, especially today. I am more than mad and furious listening to their empty hypocritical utterances on radio and over TV about empty, stupid, good-for-nothing democracy. Turn off TV or radio immediately!

1, Jun 3, 2009

The illusion of Free Will and the Power of the Group

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:18 am

At least two of my relatives smoke, one of them saying that “I can quit it any time I want.” That did not actually happen, not because he does not want, but because everybody around do it, the force around being stronger than his will power.

This incident often leads me to think about the assumption that our actions and behavior are all driven and controlled by our free will, at least that’s what we like to believe. Nobody wants to admit that they are subject of herd mentality or herd behavior. “I am my own master. I do what I want to. I don’t do it because everybody else does it.” I can even hear people protest like this.

In fact, that free will is a pure illusion. Every time I hear people say — It is cool. It is supposed to look like this. You look dorky. — I say to myself, who determine what is cool or what is not? Why do people allow themselves to be the slaves of the group opinion? Why do people do what those around them do, like smoking and drinking, regardless of their damaging effect? Why don’t people follow their own style instead of adapting themselves according to the fashion? I often challenge my daughter with these questions. What about those pants that shamelessly show to the world part of their butt crack, that most of the pretty girls wear? It’s so cool, so sad. Why?

Ever think of this?

1, Jun 2, 2009

Killing by Pro-Life: The Murder of A Doctor and American Extremists

Filed under: American Culture,Crime — admin @ 12:20 am

This is another glaring paradox in American culture — the claim of extreme individualism, one can do whatever one wants to, on the one hand; the actual extreme religious intolerance on the other hand. The victim, George Tiller, was “A hero committed to women in need of help,” who did abortions on “girls as young as 10, rape victims, alcoholics, drug addicts, depressed women, cases of severe foetal abnormalities, etc.” Who would want their 10-year-old girl to become a mother?

What actually happened is not any claim of pro-life but the claim for your life if you don’t listen. If you don’t live by their rule, they will terminate your life. How dreadfully absurd and perverted!

Pro-lifers had been threatened Tiller’s life all the time. He must be a rare courageous fighter not to change his career! Can’t we go by the simple rule — live and let live? Can’t we be more tolerant? Guess not.

Finally, imagine what his family has to go through now!

1, Jun 1, 2009

Dream and Hope, Past and Present

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:30 am

In the past, when founding men wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” it was beyond their wildest dream that a person from the slave class could someday become a US president and women without the legal right to vote could be nominated for the highest legal position of the land. It is so exciting to read these words and witness the changes today.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France, with these equally exciting words:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

To some Americans, the words of Emma Lazarus, 1883.

So nicely put at that time. Yet, the year before that, this country of immigrants witnessed for the first time in its history the passing of The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the very first time that a legal act was so flagrantly named and targeted at one single ethnic group. Today, this group becomes one of the most highly educated groups in the country, thanks to the long-cherished Chinese tradition on education and hard-working. My son told me Asians makes up one-third of student body at MIT and Harvard, huge one considering they only make up four percent of the total population.

So much progress and so much have accomplished, guided by the dream, the promise and the hope of equality, freedom and democracy, since the days of the first uttering of those unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This is the best part of America.

I have told my children that history, more than anything else, always makes us appreciate what we are today, put us in a broad perspective, raise us above and fills us with hope and dream when we face today’s challenge and beyond. No matter what you will engage in, grab a book of history and read… whenever you have a moment.

OMG. Today is the first day of the last month before half of 2009 is gone. Time’s zooming away.

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