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

1, Aug 31, 2009

The Tomb of Geese and Their Life-Death Bond

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 12:42 am

Yesterday I mentioned the behavior in animal world and the fact that we are not any better than some of them. This reminds me of a ci by Yuan Haowen in Jin Dynasty. Yuan Haowen wrote a preface, like an explanation of the ci. You will be able to appreciate the emotional bond among animals after learning this story. It is something like this —

On the way to take an exam, Yuan Haowen met a goose-hunter with two geese. He told Yuan what happened that day. “This morning I captured two geese, one escaped from the net. I killed the other one. The free one refused to fly away, mourning over the dead one with a sad crying sound, circling above them, then committng suicide by plunging its head against a rock.”

Yuan who understood the inseparable emotional bond between geese bought the dead ones from the hunter, buried them together and called their tomb “The Tomb of Geese” [yan qiu]. Hence this famous ci. It is a beautiful work. I wish I could translate it but I dare not try for fear of grossly distorting the beauty of the original work.

1, Aug 30, 2009

The Strongest Wins the Heart of the Fairest

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:06 am

I talked to one of my relatives in Beijing last week. Her son’s girl friend came to America around 8/25. The boy is still a college senior in China, being one year younger than his girl friend. The mother is very much worried. What would happen to her son if the girl changed her “heart” and found another boy?

Since they are only girl-boy-friend relation, nothing is guaranteed and no promise cannot be broken. One step forward, even between a married couple, anything is possible with absolutely no guarantee of ever-lasting matrimonial bless.

All I have to say is, which is what I once told my son —
If a nation is rich, strong and just, all nations will gather around it willingly.
If a man is strong, capable and kind, he will attract the best girl possible.
Worry NOT if the girl will leave you.
Worry if you don’t have the fine qualities to attract and keep the girl.

In the end, it is the strongest that wins the fairest. So much like what we observe in animal world. Remember we are no better than those lives of lower degree in our obsession over opposite gender. Not flattering but true.

1, Aug 29, 2009

SMART Action Plan from Workshop 4

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:17 am

Continue with the leadership workshop from 8/10/09 post — Results Orientation & Achievement, SMART plan. To be sure, SMART plan is nothing new to me, but it was amazing to observe how it was tried out here in class.

Two major problems came up during the experiment:
(1) The SMART plan was not well laid out in the first place. Nearly all present, except me, did not know how to write a SMART plan — Specific, Measurable, Agreeable-upon, Realistic and Time-bound.

(2) It is so easy to get disengaged from the original plan. It takes some discipline to religiously follow one’s plan. Yes, discipline is very much missing among people here. Otherwise, they would not be here at all.

The root of problem with most of people is their just-do-it attitude without a well-designed plan to follow, to verify and test the result to see if, in the end, we reach our goal and get what we specifically want. It is like driving out for a vacation without any planning. It runs against a Chinese saying — “Never engage in an unprepared war.” (bu da wu zhun bei zhi zhang) Imagine my frustration working with them. Alas, so much to learn just by observing these lovely people!

Workshop #6: Planning & Organizing Work, and time management tools. Sometimes we complain about lack of time, I think it very beneficial to use action-priority matrix to exam how we use our time –identifying Major Projects, Hard Slogs, Quick Wins, and Fill-Ins.

What often happens is we tend to spend more time on “Fill Ins” when we should be on “Major projects.” Once again, it takes some self-discipline to focus on “Critical activities” and to stay away from “Distractions.”

I have shared these time management tools with my son who runs out of time all the time. I sincerely believe these tools are essential to manage time well.

1, Aug 28, 2009

Edward Kennedy — “the model of public service and an American icon”

Filed under: Politics — admin @ 12:04 am

The day 8/25/2009 saw the passing of the last and the youngest Kennedy brothers — Edward Kennedy. The next day the airwaves and internet were filled with glowing tributes to the departed. The US national flag is at half-mast over Capitol Hill, the White House and other Federal buildings.

He was described as …
–a champion of the under-privileged
–Washington’s most influential lawmaker of the past 50 years
–his passion for social justice that won him the epithet “Lion of the Senate”
–having played key role in Civil rights, Disability rights, The minimum wage, Immigration, Education, Finance reform, health care, and most of the landmark progressive legislative of the past five decades
–an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence can never be overstated.
–admired around the world as the Senator of Senators,
–leading the world in championing children’s education and health care and believed that every single child should have the chance to realize their potential to the full.
— “a figure who inspired admiration, respect and devotion, not just in America but around the world. He was a true public servant committed to the values of fairness, justice and opportunity.”
–“In good days and bad, Ted Kennedy worked valiantly for the cause of peace…..”

Too bad the flaws in his private life had compromised his dream of the White House. But he was able to rise above any adversities and remained dedicated to the public service.

I am sure many books will be written about this man who fully exemplified what a politician should be. I will make sure my son read about him.

A good man indeed, sorely missed by all.

1, Aug 27, 2009

Children and their Objective Appreciation of their Parents

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:21 am

I was so glad to hear my son calling from Detroit yesterday. He came back from China on Wednesday, 8/26/09. We talked a lot as he seemed to be impressed by many things that he saw on his trip to China.

One of the things that we talked was on the role that parents played in shaping their children’s perception of their future. When a parent fails to provide a positive role model, I believe most children would not say ill of their parents, even if they can be objective and truthful on other matters. I think it takes certain degree of maturity to be able to appreciate their parents objectively. Same is true with my children. I don’t expect them to say what they truly think of their parents as they do not want to see their parents getting hurt.

To be sure, our reflections and memories of the past are always emotionally charged, going to two extremes — either positive or negative. An acquaintance of mine has an unpleasant past experience with her mother, so much so that she cannot conceal her anger and rather intolerable negative comments on her mother now, as if her mother had absolutely no redeeming quality at all.

No matter what they may say now, I believe my children will choose their path based on their own judgment and the role model they decide to follow, just as their cousins choose their path. Whatever they choose will reveal, without words, the role model they have in mind. If they choose to game away their hours off work, that clearly shows they have chosen to follow the path different from mine. Whatever they choose, it is their decision and they will receive nothing but respect for their own decision.

1, Aug 26, 2009

The Value of Education — Reflection of My Own Experience

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:35 am

A quarter of a century ago, 7/27/1984, when I first showed up at the US customer in Los Angeles, I was almost penniless, with the promise of a full scholarship from Baylor University. A kind friend of mine bought the air ticket for me. I often retell my experience to my children so that they will understand where I came from and the important part education has played in the making of their parent.

On the other hand, I often mention to my daughter a young acquaintance of mine, a 27-year-old American without any higher education. She started working right off high school, having been in the same post ever since without any hope of career advancement. That is, she won’t be able to see any dramatic improvement in life unless she takes a giant step by going back to school and get some education. Good thing that she is single, having all the time for herself. Now she has realized this and is determined to take the plunge.

I emphasize to my children not only the value of a good education but also the endless benefits of lifetime pursuing and learning beyond the realm of classroom after they have some real world experience and are more self-directed. After all, having tasted the sweet fruit of learning, I feel a strong urge of sharing it with my children and my dear readers. Grab a book and read. Nothing is more enjoyable than this.

Happy learning!

1, Aug 25, 2009

Reading The Unspeakable Chapter in American History

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:09 am

While at Border’s, I picked up a book called Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History by Lynn Sacco, out early this year. To be sure, it is a deeply disturbing topic and book. I cannot help feeling sick, indignant, furious, and abhorred over the extent and the wide-spread practice of all forms of patriarchal sexual abuse against girls inside the so-called place of haven — our family, across all classes.

The book certainly serves to shatter the myth about the safety of a family and parents as the protectors of their youngsters, etc. It emphasizes the sad vulnerabilities of our young girls and the heavy responsibilities on the shoulders of mothers in such families.

The book brought to my memory the infamous Fritzel case that surfaced last April, in which the 42-year-old Elizabeth Fritzel from Austria revealed to the police that her father had kept her in captive for 24 years to serve his bestial sexual desire, resulting in the birth of seven children and one miscarriage, fathered by her own father. The book also reminds me of the character in Bible — Lot, who was made drunk by his daughters so that the latter committed incest in order to “preserve seed of our father” (Genesis 19:32-36). I can never understand the degree of depravation demonstrated in many places in Bible.

The book Unspeakable is a good read, only you need to get ready for shocks, disgust and the perverted side of life that you won’t believe it is real.
unspeakable father daughter incest in American history

1, Aug 24, 2009

Volunteer Time and the Need to Do Good Deeds

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:32 am

Now that my daughter has entered high school, she should start looking for volunteer opportunities as my son did at her age. I often emphasize to my children the need to do good deeds whenever an opportunity is presented to them. Meanwhile, do no evil and hurt nobody.

It is not entirely out of my kind heart that I insist on doing good. I believe good deeds will eventually yield good returns. On the other hand, evil will eventually come back to you in whatever form it might be. There is no escape of that. Ever heard of the “boomerang theory” — Whatever you throw out into the world comes back to you? How dreadful that can be!

Here’s another reason for doing good — it always brings me good feeling when I do it. On the other hand, if I utter unkind words to others, the echo haunts me even if others have forgotten what I just said. The reality is it hurts me more than hurting others when I have been unkind. In other words, I don’t hurt others because I don’t want to hurt myself. Call it selfish if you will or a harmless form of selfishness, whatever you may think.

That’s what I say to my children, life’s too short and we are so limited in our ability for even doing good deeds. Once again, the simple dictum on the duty of physicians from ancient Greeks works wonder in the hearts of us all — “Do good, or at least do no harm.”

With this starts a wonderful Monday morning.

1, Aug 23, 2009

Vacations — Your Health and Wealth

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:05 am

On last Monday morning 8/17/09 on the way to work, I heard a report from NPR station on vacation and good health. The main idea is the more vacation you have, the healthier you are. Vacation brings to us many health benefits. On the other hand, “Health deteriorates over time if we don’t take a break from work.” Nothing new, right?

Here are something more that pumps into my head — “The men who took vacations tended to be better educated and have a higher income. These are people who tend to be healthier and live longer anyway.” The less educated tend to have less time away from work.

The conclusive statement is this — the higher income, the more vacations, the better to your health. It reminds me of a Chinese neighbor who works in a Chinese restaurant, 12hr x 6day per week and has not taken one vacation in 12 years! On the other hand, I learned a doctor’s family came from their vacation in Hawaii this year. A sad fact of life for those who have to work their heads off everyday and cannot afford a vacation! See the direct link between wealth and health?

1, Aug 22, 2009

Good Communication — Respectful and Thoughtful

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:12 am

A small incident of miscommunication happened in my office on 8/18/09. A project manager asked about the status of some task. Instead of saying something like this, “I have been busy lately and will get it done this week,” the responsible person P1 emailed back listing what had kept her busy lately, which implied that she had done the work that should be done by another person P2, as if P2 had been negligent over her duty. She even cc’ed P2 this email.

Nothing is more thoughtless and imprudent than this email! P2 was furious over this email, writing back with a vengeance. Upon receiving P2’s email, P1 sensed the furor in the writing and wrote back about 10 paragraphs in length, full of explanations, trying to put out the fire. However, the damage cannot be undone regarding their working relationship.

Thanks for providing an example of the consequence of thoughtless writing! To me the incident emphasizes this — a good communication requires due respect and consideration, no matter where you are, at home or in your office.

1, Aug 21, 2009

Parenting, Acceptance, Realization, and Reconcilation

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:05 am

At the point when my daughter is entering high school, I feel it time to do some cleaning, that is, removing from the house things that might never be touched at any point by anybody in near future.

Children outgrow not only clothes but also and mostly toys and books. I did a cleaning of toys when my daughter entered middle school, leaving only clothes and books in her room. Now another one is due.

I bought from China boxes of Chinese books, both pictures, easy-reading ones, hoping someday they would read them. By now, I have been very disappointed.

Lately, I have been debating in my mind whether to donate them to the high school where Chinese is taught or keep them, hoping and waiting for them to wake up someday, wishing to learn Chinese, for whatever reason.

Maybe I should long ago get rid of these books so that I do not harbor any illusion of their ever desiring to learn Chinese. Maybe I would not have felt disappointed if I had not hoped for them to learn.

Last Monday, 8/17, after the first day of school, on the way home, I talked to my daughter about picking up her Chinese. She finally agreed to invest 15 minutes per day on Chinese. I promised her she would be surprised by the progress she would made just by 15-minute a day on Chinese.

I realize at some point, parenting means accepting and reconciling your hopes and expectations with the reality. This way everybody can live happily ever after.

1, Aug 20, 2009

Children Need to Know Negative Side of the Parents

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:02 am

I know of a parent who has tried to keep her child in the dark about any fights or disagreement among the two adults in the household for fear of alienating the child from the faulty parent or exposing negative side of another adult.

I think as soon as the child is mature enough to understand, we parents should not hide anything from the child. As I once told my children, “You hear nothing but truth from me.” Otherwise, the child will feel hurt for not being trusted to be informed or feel cheated.

Understandably, we parents all wish to shield our children from any negative or unpleasant side of life. Too bad we do not live in a perfect world. It is our responsibility to prepare our children for the not-so-perfect reality of the world, so that they will be better equipped mentally, emotionally and psychologically when they are on their own. Or they will know how to avoid or how to handle a fight or a similar situation. Otherwise, how can they learn to be wise?

For example, sometimes when I feel hurt over a disrespectful remark, I make sure both of my children are aware of it. I don’t really care what they think but I do want them to understand that disrespectful remarks do hurt people. Of course, they do care when I feel hurt. I feel so blessed afterwards.

Another parenting tip from me.

1, Aug 19, 2009

The Impact of Any Extreme Behavior of the Parents on Children

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:14 am

An adult relative of ours always leaves a big mess wherever he goes. He surely does it with a vengeance. I came to understand him after his own explanation. He often talked about his mother’s obsession over order and cleanness, “Our house is not a resident place. It is like a hotel.” Commenting on his own messy habit, he said, “I deliberately do no cleaning at all simply because my mother has been over-concerned about being clean.”

He certainly demonstrates a rebellious mentality — the more you nag about cleanness, the more I will go the other direction, just to upset you. Sometimes I cannot help thinking about it, perhaps because I see something similar in our household or because it makes me think about parenting in general. To be sure, cleanness is a good habit, but what makes someone growing up in a spotless house so much hate this good habit? Aren’t we parent responsible for this negative attitude?

Dear me, it takes so much wisdom to be a good parent and good parents are so much in short supply!

1, Aug 18, 2009

My Son’s Visit to His Grandparent in South

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:27 am

My son seemed to have a good time there, relaxing, eating profusely and going out nearly everyday with one of his relatives in south, spending time with the grandparent, being able to remain in contact with his friends here.

Expectedly, the grandparent was full of nice words for her grandson and only wished he could stay there longer.

I am glad that he has no problem communicating with people and has been safe and sound so far. He was on the train to Beijing Monday evening and arrived there this morning.

So far I don’t have any detail of his stay in south as it is not convenient for us to talk over the internet. I wish he could keep a journal of his trip, at least keep track of his weight and waistline.

1, Aug 17, 2009

An Action Plan on Her Foreign Language Course

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:02 am

It is me again. Wish her good luck.Today is the first day of high school for my daughter. Last night I told her to go to bed early so that she would be able to get up early, as school started at 7:40 AM. Meanwhile, I could fall asleep for a long time. There are so many things that I have thought of and that should be included in her semester plan. Much as I have thought and worried, I thought it better to keep them to myself instead of sharing with her, as I do not want to overwhelm her with these thoughts.

Last weekend, both of us, my daughter and I, have realized that she needs to be serious about her foreign language course. It was not until last Saturday 8/15, after I got back from a friend’s house, that I thought nothing substantial could be done if we did not have an action plan for it.

“How about one sentence per day?” I threw out this idea at her. She didn’t embrace immediately with enthusiasm. But after we listed the benefit of sticking up to this plan, she approved it whole-heartedly.

Here are the benefits that she could think of if she could follow the plan for one month.
(1) The fact that she has chosen to go for this good plan.
(2) The fact she has held the plan faithfully.
(3) The fact that it will make me happy.
(4) The fact that she will learn 30 French sentences.

I can see the greatest benefit is she will emerge a much better person in many ways, if she follows her plan for at least 30 days.

She has only three years to prepare for college application and these will be the busiest years in all her schoolings so far. Wish her good luck.

1, Aug 16, 2009

An Eventful and Unforgettable Visit of the Grandparents Part 3

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:54 am

The total cost of her hospitalization and surgeries exceeded $40,000. As a graduate student existing on scholarship, this seemed an insurmountable amount. We were told there was a federal aid that we could apply. It is called alien emergency medical aid. So we applied and had Uncle Sam covered everything.

The grandmother spent the rest of her visit trying to recover from the illness. By May 1990, after she was fully recovered, they went back to China.

During the fall of 1990, I was teaching at our sociology department, taking care of my son, working on my dissertation, with another adult suffering from frequent gallstone attacks ever since. I tried to get my mother over and help me shouldering some of the burden.

My mother was in her late 50s and still in good health. But she was rejected many times, with this or that excuse. Finally she was told frankly by the embassy not to come again because, “Your daughter, with her son, does not have the ability to sponsor you or anyone.” My mother was hugely puzzled because she had not even told the embassy that I was married, “How did they know you are married and even have a son?”

The puzzle was explained later when a friend revealed to me what an immigration lawyer told her, it was the $40k government money that disqualified me as a sponsor. “Don’t think it easy to get money from government. It will come back to you in some form, unfortunately.” That’s why she paid for her mother’s medical cost when her mother broke her hip bone.

It was nearly 20 years since their visit. It was one of those hard times for me until my son was big enough to go to a babysitter in July 1991. When looking back, I don’t know what to say. If I feel anything, I only feel amazed over myself. I can’t believe I was so tough and so great, being able to pull through this ordeal. I am going to tell my children this is a must-read chapter in my life.

The end. Yes, everything must end, finally.

1, Aug 15, 2009

An Eventful and Unforgettable Visit of the Grandparents Part 2

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:53 am

Thirdly, I was consumed with flu, probably from sleep-deprivation, cold and overly exhaustion with taking care of the sick baby and hospital visits. You cannot imagine how chaotic it was and how exhausted I was during those days.

Lastly, the grandmother ended up in hospital within one month of her arrival in US — the rupture of her gallbladder and was in hospital for nearly two months.

Why was it so long? When the grandmother was in hospital and receiving infusion for her daily nutrients after operation, the hospital sent her easy-to-digest food, hoping she could gradually start using her own digestive system and wean off the IV bag.

After a few days, the nurse saw the meals were all eaten, assuming the grandmother could intake food by herself. So they took away IV bag from her. It turned out the grandfather was the one who finished all the meals on her behalf. The nurse had to re-port the nutrient infusion and more trouble followed.

An accident occurred during the second IV infusion, causing air to enter into her thorax cavity. Another operation had to be carried out to extract the air out of her thorax.

To be continued tomorrow…

P.S. Today is Saturday. We went to a friend’s house in the evening. They have three children, only the youngest one was home with her friend. My daughter did not go with us as she was at her friend’s house.

1, Aug 14, 2009

An Eventful and Unforgettable Visit of the Grandparents Part 1

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:50 am

Here’s a bit of historical fact for my children, my version and explanation of what actually happened.

This happened in December 1989 when my son was nine months old. His paternal grandparents missed both their only son and only grandson very much, so I sponsored them to visit us in US. Within one month of their arrival, everybody was sick except the grandfather.

First, the other adult suffered for the first time in many years gallstone attack, probably from the combination of cold weather, food, and exhaustion from long-distance driving (from New York back to Ohio). To appease the pain, the grandma gave him the maximum dosage of a Chinese pain killer, resulting in his inability to urinate. Hence I drove him to ER (emergency room) twice for gallstone and urinary retention and one urologist office visit, all in one day.

Second, the grandparents threw upon the nine-month-baby with many thick wool-sweaters with room temperature over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as the result of the vast difference in temperature indoor and outdoor, the baby, not used to so many layers of clothes, was stricken down with high fever, pneumonia plus bronchitis, and asthma as the sequela, which lasted for six years.

The grandmother gave the baby adult dosage for his bronchitis, causing him hard-to-breathe and super-hyper in the middle of the night. He was crying out of exhaustion but could not calm down and sleep. I was carrying him, rocking him and walking around the room. For he would cry if I stopped walking around, so I dragged my tired and heavy feet, walking till he was quiet and asleep, so that everybody could sleep, except me. That was a very long night.

To be continued tomorrow…

1, Aug 13, 2009

Get Off the Computer, Get Ready for School, Part 2

Filed under: Technologies — admin @ 12:28 am

See my first one on the topic in June this year,

I heard more than one parents complaining of their children — get on the computer right out of the bed and off it right before they go to bed, even with a strong addiction and the violent resistance to any attempt of disciplining their computer time. More computer time means less time for book-reading, doing things other than computer-related, and less family interaction, etc. My children are no exception.

Good thing about my children is they are not reason-proof. I talked and talked about restricting computer time with one of my children and have finally hammer out an agreement — no computer while we are not home with all PC password-locked. I will unlock it after I get home. Even with that, the child needs to take a 10-minute break after 30-minute computer time.

Indeed, as we are just told of Google Books Library Project, Facebook Lite, and the promise of new technologies churned out everyday, it is absolutely impossible to totally cut off the line when we live through the era of boundless internet possibilities. Before the children know how to make good use of their time and tap into this technology, we parents have to be firm in setting the rules and regulations regarding computer usage, just as the traffic police are out there watching us drunk and driving adults. We all have to live with some kind of rules.

1, Aug 12, 2009

The Moment of Embarrassment and The End of a Political Life

Filed under: Politics — admin @ 12:40 am

That was on 6/15/1992, when the 12-year-old sixth grader had to teach the former vice president Dan Quayle how to spell the word potato, as the vice-pres did not know how. The embarrassment and regret will follow him all his life, much longer than Clinton’s affair. He is such a disgraceful mirror for all politicians. Funny to look at, as long as we are not in the mirror.

The event is also a reflection upon a nation which has so failed in education — a fact as well-known as Dan Quayle’s potato joke. On the other hand, we can see how a seemingly trivial thing can finish a person’s public service career.

A politician is on the public stage under everybody’s close scrutiny all the time and has to watch every word uttered and every step taken. Any tiny mishap, like Obama unwisely using the word “stupidly,” will be a lot more costly than he is willing to pay.

1, Aug 11, 2009

Chinese Ventures and Achievements in Africa

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:19 am

There are so many activities around and so much to write about but so little time for writing. Isn’t that what we all face in our lives? In short, the big nephew came back after summer school around the first week of August and left for school yesterday. My son arrived in China safe and sound. My daughter is getting ready for high school that is coming next Monday. I have devoted much of my time to the activities of my daughter, working with her to hammer out a SMART action plan for her first year of high school, and also plenty of time to the vegetable garden and to house-cleaning that is never ending, especially with one more person in house.

Still, I tried to find time for reading and of course, writing. Last weekend at Barnes and Noble’s bookstore, I was reading a book called China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa, by Serge Michele and Michel Beuret, 2009.

Despite the derogatory terms that are so often inevitably spit out throughout the book, readers can see the acknowledgement and admiration that the authors express for the achievements and progress that Chinese people have brought upon the African continent. Wherever they go, they magically transform the once disease-plagued, starving, and war-torn land of hopelessness into something much better with the possibility of a bright future. The Chinese people win praise from local people for what they have brought to their land and what they have accomplished there.

On the way back home, I shared this incident with my daughter. An American company planned to operate in a country in Africa. Instead of creating all the needed conditions for their operation, the company asked the head of this African government to get everything ready for them. If the government could, they wouldn’t have asked foreign company for help. So this government turned to a Chinese company and was told, “No problem.” The moral lesson is this. When you plan to start a project or an operation, instead of asking others to get everything ready for you, you create the right condition and environment for yourself. Things are never ready for you if you don’t take initiative in all your projects, venture, activities or any major endeavours. A good book.

1, Aug 10, 2009

Communication Style, Teamwork from Workshop 3

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:37 am

We went through self-assessment test to find out our own communication styles during this workshop. We learned four major types of communication styles- Open, Close, Direct, Indirect. Thinkers/Analyzers tend to be close-indirect. Yes, that is me.

Miscommunication is likely to occur between people of different styles. The emphasis is on understanding the difference. Once you know a person’s communication style, communication is likely to go smoothly. As a Chinese saying goes, “Know yourself, know your enemy, every battle can be won.”

The fourth workshop focused on Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. We talked about three problem-solving techniques. Personally, I believe 5-Whys Analysis is the worst of all. We are unable to provide a clear answer to any of the questions when we allow ourselves to be led one question after another, like chasing the tail of all without catching any. Fishbone diagram lays out all aspects of concerns, allowing us to better visualize the problem. This is my favorite one.

1, Aug 9, 2009

Wealth, Legacy, What Parents Can Leave to the Children?

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 1:03 am

Yesterday evening after we got back from a friend’s house, I got online chatting with one of my relatives. Her child will graduate from college next year. She wants her son to go for graduate school in US, but the boy is not as anxious to go as his mother is.

I told my sister that it was better to let him decide what he would do upon graduation. “Let him decide and take responsibility, since he is already an adult.” She said, “If I let him make decision, he would play away his time. I have only one child, where shall I use this money if I don’t spend it on him? I consider it as investment in his future.” But the important part is he himself must invest too, that is, investing two years of time. Unless he is motivated to work hard, he might let go not only his parents’ huge amount of money but also two years of his valuable time.

I have long before made it known to my children that my financial support to them ends with the end of their 4-year college education. Beyond that, they are on their own. When they have grown up, if I still play the role of financial pillar to them, I only serve to deflate their will to strike out on their own, which is a disservice to them in essence.

Don’t take it as mean or over-thrifty or what. My children understand that I might not have a large sum left for them but I have, to the best of my ability, given to them something more valuable than wealth — that I have devoted as much time to them as possible and have instilled in them the will and the drive to achieve on their own — the intangible value that no money can buy.

1, Aug 8, 2009

What Motivate People from Leadership Workshop 2

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:24 am

During our second workshop, we learned theories on motivation — what motivates people to carry on their daily activities. We first learned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, from the lowest level of need for self-preservation — food, clothes, and shelter to the highest need for self-fulfillment.

I still like what Psychologist Carl Rogers said about ideal self, that is, there exists in most of us a self-perceived self, a real self, and an ideal self. The ideal self is the one we aspire to be. I am motivated by the belief that there is always a better me, an ideal to pursue, always a goal or a new benchmark for me to reach. Tomorrow or next year will find me better than I am now.

Here’s what I learned from the workshop — most people live each day without any stuff like this at all. They express their really basic need for mere existence. Imagine the frustration one might feel sitting through the whole two hours observing these people with least entertainment!

1, Aug 7, 2009

Traits of Outstanding Leaders from Workshop 1

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:18 am

Yesterday was our last leadership workshop. To be honest, I am glad to see the end of it because I am getting more and more impatient sitting with the rest of the class. Though I have learned a lot, I also become a bit frustrated with the prejudice, ignorance and general lack of enlightenment that I encountered.

Workshop #1:
We learn traits of outstanding leaders.
1) Nurturing ongoing and interactive relationships
2) Being in touch with innermost thoughts, feelings, and values.
3) Walking the talk — act in a manner that is consistent with your words.
4) Leading by influence — use influence instead of power or authority.

What I learned from this workshop are:
(1) Leaders are human first, leaders second.
(2) Leaders are not necessarily managers, though it is very easy to confuse the two.
(3) You don’t have to be in leadership position to lead. You play the role of a lead any time you play a positive role or reach out to energize and influence people around.
(4) I challenge myself with this question: is it really a big challenge to be such a lead?
(5) I just realized that I have not been fortunate enough to meet a leader with any of these traits. A sad realization, even sadder sitting with a group so much void of these traits.

To be continued…on this favorite topic of mine.
Do you know the datetime lined up perfectly once in your lifetime? Enjoy the Friday, thanks to a friend of mine.
12:34:56 07/08/09
12 34 56 7 8 9

1, Aug 6, 2009

Security, Civility, and Sincerity

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:01 am

My son will be leaving for China in two days. I feel like having a million words to tell him, but I know better than being such a nuisance. I am sure he will forget it all if I do. Hence, only three words.

(1) Security. This is a matter of paramount importance. Don’t think you are a native Chinese and you have been to several different countries by yourself. You don’t really know China that well and law and order are not everywhere well-established. Better be careful than be sorry.

(2) Civility. Never take for granted the service rendered to you or kindness showered on you. Be prompt with your expression of gratitude. Do your share of work no matter where you go, like clean dishes or do your laundry. Say thankyou, please, excuse me, I’m sorry, when you should.

(3) Sincerity. I can never over-emphasized the screaming need for sincerity. For example, if some relative wants to buy something for you, accept it with a thankyou if you do need it and like it. Otherwise, let it be clearly known that it is a waste of money to buy it for you since you don’t need it. Don’t sound apologetic when you receive a gift as if you were such an unworthy good-for-nothing that you don’t deserve such a good gift, well, unless your self-esteem hit record-low. Remember you are my proud son and no gift is good enough for you.

It is disgusting when I see some Chinese say No to a gift but want more than anything in the world to keep it or they offer you something out of politeness, fully expecting you to turn it down. I can never tolerate inconsistency between what one says and what one thinks. It is also known as hypocrisy. You know how much I dislike it.

It’s about 2-week trip. Before long, you will be back. Be good and come back safe and sound.

1, Aug 5, 2009

Wake-up To the Excitements of Life

Filed under: work — admin @ 9:17 am

This morning, bright and early at 7 AM, we had a clinic meeting on Dr. Geffen’s Seven Levels of Healing program. To be sure, this was created for cancer patients, but I think it useful for anyone who has to go through any devastating experience brought upon either by disease or any unexpected and unfortunate events in our lives. Here they are, thanks to Dr. Geffen.

Rebuilding the Bridge Between Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit
Level 1: Education & Information
Level 2: Connection with Others
Level 3: The Body as Garden
Level 4: Emotional Healing
Level 5: The Nature of Mind
Level 6: Life Assessment
Level 7: The Nature of Spirit

Detail information can be obtained from Dr. Geffen’s site,

On level 6, Life Assessment, we are asked essential questions like this,
“what is the purpose of your life?”
“What do you want to achieve in your remaining time?” [may be days, months, years, yes, life is so freakingly uncertain]
“What do you want your loved ones to remember you?”

It is interesting that we tend to put off these ultimate questions in our lives until we are ravaged by life-threatening event. But questions like these knock us like a waking-up alarm — wake up from your humdrum, unexciting and uninspiring existence, value what you have, fling yourself into the excitement of living. Yes, get more than the maximum out of it, while we can, because we got only one life to live.

1, Aug 4, 2009

Watergate Scandal and All President’s Men

Filed under: Politics,Reading — admin @ 8:02 am

I have been reading non-fiction Nixon’s Watergate investigative report All the President’s Men by two wonderful journalists — Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The investigation started from infamous 2:30 AM 17-June-1972 Watergate break-in by five burglars. It is an exciting and interesting read, with occasional mixed feeling of disgust, sickness, bewilderment, disillusion, and sense of sudden wake-up.

You see how some people would do any dirty things when necessary, yet with an appearance of a person of integrity and principle; and learn how much people were willing to do in order to reach their goal, whatever that might be. In the end, the tree collapsed, so did all the monkeys living off the tree.

The only person that is positively depicted in the book is Hugh Sloan, who came to Washington an idealist and was determined to leave it forever, thoroughly disillusioned. He deserves greatest sympathy from readers. I feel a boundless respect and admiration for the two journalists for their persistence and determination to get the truth out and diligent documentation of this unique historical event for future generations.

There are so much to learn from this rich event. I would think it beneficial that every politician or aspiring politician keeps a copy of this book by their bedside, so that history will not repeat itself.
All_the_Presidents Men_1974

1, Aug 3, 2009

Don’t Always Compromise in Order to Build Consent

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 7:47 am

Last weekend, I talked to my son over the phone about his trip to China this coming Saturday. He was a bit concerned over balancing his days in two places that he will visit — his paternal and maternal side of families, exactly a week on each place, showing no favor on neither side. I came to realize that I had instilled too much of this balancing on him to shatter whatever he planned to do.

I remember he was talking about what gifts he should bring back to everybody, that it would not look good if he missed anybody in gift-giving, etc. When I asked his paternal family what they wanted him to bring back to everybody, they realized it was going to be too costly on our side. The choice was either bring back plenty of gifts for everybody or nothing. So the paternal grandma who understands the burden of a college kid on our household, decided, “Since he is still a child, just come back without bringing back anything, so that nobody has anything to complain about.”

But his cousin on maternal side is going to have his 21 birthday while he is in Beijing. And my son, who spent over a year with this cousin, is at loss as whether or not he can bring to him a birthday gift. I asked the other adult in the household who said, “If he brings anything to this cousin, he must also bring something for another cousin [on the paternal side]. Otherwise, people will talk.”

I feel thoroughly rotten by now. I feel like slapping my own face, not too hard though. In fact, there is no right or wrong and he can do whatever he wants without having to ask us. I am totally to blame for this. This is the failure of my education of him when I myself make efforts to please both sides and still hear people complaining.

It is totally unnecessary and unfair for my son to balance all this. This is what I finally told him, “Don’t always compromise or accommodate yourself too much in order to build consent. Very often in our lives, in our desperate effort to please everybody, we bend ourselves too much, as the result we are more likely to lose ourselves and become an instrument in the hands of others. Do what you feel like as long as you think it right.”

1, Aug 2, 2009

The Word Stupid Escaped from the President’s Mouth 2

Filed under: Politics — admin @ 11:47 pm

My child commented that Obama was right in his choice of word. “Police did have racial bias.” Let’s face the fact — we all have our bias and prejudice and we even make mistakes because of this. Do we deserve to be told we act stupidly?

“Have I ever called you stupid before?” asked I.
“Because it is disrespectful,” she answered.
Interesting. She seems to have a double-standard.

I believe the uttering of the word stupid reflects the deep-seated intellectual snob, arrogance and condescending that Obama harbors, the kind of arrogance that is absent in Reagan, Bush, and Carter. Of course, none of them were Obama’s intellectual equal. Still, intellectual power is supposed to make one wiser not conceited and arrogant. It remains to be seen how wise this president is capable of.

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