Only 5% Can Quit Working by Age 65


This is from the seminar that I attended on market America last Saturday evening while my daughter was skating. Talk about early retirement so that you can start doing whatever you enjoy, it seems an unrealistic dream for the majority of Americans (95 – 28), 67% of them at age 65.

For every 100 people, by the time they should reach age 65,
1% become wealthy,
4% financially fit, do not need to work,
28% dead, without actually reaching it,
5% still working, out of necessity,
62% flat broke, not having enough to live by even if they work their butts off.

What a dreadful picture! I think of one of my neighbors who told me she had to work into her 70s. I can’t believe only a tiny 5% of Americans do not need to work by age 65.

I believe there are two main explanations — either the majority of Americans do not earn enough to enjoy early retirement or they do make plenty but equally do they spend that plenty. Simply put it, they have not saved enough from their earnings. I see too many cases that fit second explanation. It is rather disheartening if you are one of the working 65-year-old in America. But you got nobody to blame but yourself. One can always do better than this if one starts saving for retirement right after the first employment.

On the way home that night, I shared it with my daughter. “I will be one of the 5%, financially fit not to have to work way before that age,” said she. I am sure the thought of this will transform into the desired reality.



The Drabness of a Newsletter and the Terrible Compromise of Job Integrity


A company that I know of has an internal newsletter, which is supposed to be something relevant and interesting to the rank-and-file employees. Instead, it has become the showcase of the company and the upper management. It is getting more and more irrelevant to the employees, not even providing short fillers to entertain, so much so that some people trash it without opening. Now, the MyNewsLetter is better known as myBossNewsletter, as the newsletter writer, being hired by the upper management, seems to succumb herself to be a mere mouthpiece of those who pay for her.

This MyNewsletter, being severely lack of job integrity, reminds me so much of the newspaper in China a quarter of a century ago. At that time publications served wholly for party’s propagation, with newspaper being the direct mouthpiece of the controlling party. Things are a whole lot better now in China.

It is a great pity that the newsletter writer abandons a more interesting route, that is, go to each work sites, meet people, talk with those working down grass-root level, read what the customers write about the employees, seek out stories, and scoop something news-worthy enough for people to read. Indeed, life is as interesting as we represent it.



A Good Essay is very Important to College Application


Since last week, I have been working with one of my children on essay writing, as part of SAT preparation. As a Chinese saying goes, a piece of writing is like its writer, wen ru qi ren. In other word, writing reveals its author. That’s why a good essay is also extremely helpful in college application.

There are some basic rules:
(1) There must be a central theme, which is like a thread going through all the beads in your whole writing. Determine your theme first and stick to it.

(2) Before anything else, brainstorm yourself and come out with as ideas as possible. Ideas enable you to expound your theme in various different ways. Without ideas, your writing is like a well without water.

(3) Organize your thoughts so that the theme stands out and the whole piece is coherent and well-organized. Cross out all the irrelevant ideas, however dear they may seem to you.

(4) The only sure way to improve your writing is to practice and practice.

Take for example my 9/26 posting, state the theme first, next think of what a doctor would say, then how a patient would think about doctors now, last count the damage to medical profession. Lastly, imagine yourself as a doctor, if you feel up to.

To be sure, your writing must surpass by a large margin whatever written on this site if you are serious about getting somewhere, someday. Good luck.



Celebrating Activities with the Children


Last Friday evening, my daughter and I volunteered for Light The Night Walk organized by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We worked hard at preparing lighted balloons for the walkers. There seemed over a thousand participants in the walk.

On Saturday morning I took my daughter to attend an interesting science seminar at Union Station. It was given by Dr. Perry Alexander from KU, EE & CS department. The title of his lecture was “A Just Machine,” in which he looked at the history and the future of computing technology.

Saturday evening, skating practice, 7 – 10 PM. While she was on the rink, I went to a Chinese friend’s to attend a 2-hour seminar on market America business.
Saturday evening after skating, we put together an outline for her resume.
Sunday morning, an art exhibit at Plaza.
Sunday afternoon, skate lesson.
The big nephew came back this weekend, thus the other adult was busy preparing meals.
So much for a fun weekend.



Communication and Another Faux Pas from our President


During the 7/22/2009 news conference, President Obama said,

“And part of what we want to do is to make sure that those [medical] decisions are being made by doctors and medical experts based on evidence, based on what works — because that’s not how it’s working right now. That’s not how it’s working right now. Right now doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that’s out there. So if … your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, you know what, I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out… So part of what we want to do is to free doctors, patients, hospitals to make decisions based on what’s best for patient care -…”

I can’t believe our dear president could be so indiscreet. What is wrong with this part?

First of all, this across-the-board characterization of all doctors as being essentially profit-driven is nothing but an unequivocal insult to those conscientious doctors who dedicate themselve to the lives and the benefits of the patients, without placing money-making as their first priority. Obama could easily have avoided this blunder if he used the term like “a tiny percent of our doctors.”

Secondly, if you were a patient, what would you think of your doctor in light of president’s remark “I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out?” Such negative description of medical profession helps instigate an unhealthy distrust between a doctor and his/her patient, leaving doctors vulnerable to criticism, suspicions and even lawsuits.

Thirdly, the medical decision-making process is far more complicated than what Obama light-heartedly described. His ridiculously simplistic picture of this process drastically depreciates an otherwise traditionally honored life-saving and misery-relieving profession.

How would you feel if you were a doctor? God forbid that I am not a medical doctor and I still feel the sting in President’s statement. If anything, instead of creating a large base of support, President Obama is indeed an expert at creating political adversaries. The lack of prudence and good judgment in his communication are getting more and more scary and damaging. A good lesson for us all.



The Most Bizarre Murder Case Perpetrated by a Mother


More than two years have passed since Rekha Kumari-Baker of Britain stabbed to death both of her innocent daughters, 16 and 13 years old, while they were sleeping in their beds, in retaliation to the mal-treatment of her ex-husband, David Baker. The shocking murder happened on 13 June 2007. She hated her husband so much that she stabbed at her two lovely daughters, 36-39 times each, making them real scapegoats for their father.

Though the killer mother has been recently found guilty, questions are lingering in people’s mind as to the ultimate reason behind this extremity of crime. What had happened to drive her into such an outrageous frenzy murder. I can see the going-on in the mind of David Baker — “I can treat you like a dog and you can do nothing about it.” But he underestimated his ex-wife’s havoc-wreaking ability.

This reminds me of Susan Smith who took the lives of her young children on the night of October 25, 1994, the date before my daughter came along. I am afraid most people now have either forgot it or never heard of it. My daughter, upon reading it, called them “the cruelest murder.”

A wise man knows not to hurt the mother of his child if he truly loves his child. A wise mother knows no matter what happens to her, the protection of her children is forever her priority. Alas, wise men are rare to find just as hysteric women are too often seen.
2girls_Davina_and_Jasmine



Enjoy Activities Around Children


Today is Thursday, the day before Friday, the day of piano lesson.
After her art class moved to Wednesday evening, my daughter started participating in a volunteer activity on Saturday morning. Besides art class on Wednesday evening, she has piano lesson on Thursday evening, figure-skating on Friday evening, and work with her coach on Sunday afternoon. Most of the Chinese children here have at least one music and one sport lesson, some having art lesson. Busy schedule.

When I hear some people saying it was too much for parents to run around children, I think of the fact that neither parents nor the children are having easy time with these activities. Let’s just view it as an inseparable part of growing pain. Worry not and complain not. Keep in mind this –your children will soon leave home before you wake up to it. Enjoy their company and appreciate their efforts while they are around you. Parents, hang on there. Life is tough for them, too.
hang_on_there



New Generation of Chinese Immigrants


I asked a friend of mine about this term hu you and received the following. Dear me, I am honestly confused and amused. To my humble mind, hu means “suddenly” and you means “slow moving.” Call me old-fashioned or whatever as if I cared. How can one term give birth to so many different meanings, both positive and negative? Its essence totally eludes me. I asked my daughter to see if she can do better. She looked at me, eyes wide opened. With total innocence, she shook her pretty head. Not sure if she understands much of them, though she laughed out loud over it. To be on the safe side, I just avoid using it when I am as clear as mud.

This reminds me of how out-of-touch I have been to contemporary Chinese language and culture after a quarter of a century’s absence. Stretching from this, I used to view someone who left Chinese 20 years before me as really old immigrants and I belong to the newest, the greatest and most educated Chinese immigrants of all in American history. Now as the wheel of history relentlessly turns, what say of me in front of new comers like the 26-year-old nephew and the girlfriend of my sister’s son? A generation has elapsed like a flash, soon being replaced by another new crop. Of course, I have ceased to be the newest immigrant of all.
Here’s the wonderful explanation of hu you.
confusing_term



Universal truth or Unbelievable Perversion


Last weekend a friend of mine sent to me the following as “universal truth.” Something must be wrong here. What happened to the values that we parents use to brainwash our youngsters? Like emphasis on reading, study and honest hard work? How can they make friends without drinking or become famous legally? I am confused, still I remain stubbonly old-fashioned and I shall not be otherwise. Here’s the translation.

People make friends through drinking,
–find lovers at dancing balls,
–make enemies at gambling table,
–become a crazy man at stock market,
–turn into celebrities through cheating or any illegal activities,
–end up a mere mediocre after honest work,
–are perceived as a wise person via IM,
–book-reading makes one idiotic,
–public service transforms one into rich being,
–remain a poor soul after a life of hard work.
universal_truth



The Under-representation of Chinese in American Politics — Yes or No?


Last Saturday we went to a friend’s house for a dinner gathering with a group of Chinese, all professionals from local companies and universities, wealthy and content, well-fed and luxuriously-housed. Some have children in college, some still in grade school, and some others already retired with grandchildren.

I know there is a large Chinese population in Greater Kansas City Area, yet there is next-to-zero political voice from Chinese community, if there is such a community. While sitting among a group of Chinese and listening to the passionate conversation on topics like food, stocks, real estate and all kinds of wonderful money-making mechanism, I thought of politics and ceased to wonder why Chinese are under-represented in American politics.

Chinese are such a peace-loving plus money-loving people, beyond this is beyond their dear care. I would look like a total idiot if I brought up topic like healthcare and Obama. With all the good food in front of me, I’d better waste no time thinking and wondering, just feasting myself as much as I could.



Parents’ Nightmare with a Promising Young Life Ending in a Yale Lab


We all heard of the 9/8/09 death of Annie Le, 24-year-old Yale graduate, which happened 5 days before her planned wedding to her college boyfriend. She was found stuffed in the wall of a research center, having been suffocated to death. We might never know what exactly happened during the last moment of her life. For a parent, it doesn’t matter how a child dies because the weight of this fact is too heavy to bear.

At first, it came as a shock when it happened in an institution of such a high prestige with heavy layer of campus safety and extra “three levels of security to get into the basement of the lab building, including two swipes of a security card.” It happened even when the victim was cautious and trying to avoid becoming “yet another statistic.”

The murder reminds people of the death of Suzanne Jovin, the 21-year-old German Yale senior brutally murdered in 1998. Her death remains unsolved homicide cold case. We are not sure if this one is going to be one of the cold cases.

What can we say of these levels of security? If anything, they only provide an illusion of security, relaxing our vigilance, making people believe all is well within a secured place. I talked to my daughter, “There is absolutely no security every time you find yourself alone with another almost-a-stranger male. Do not harbor any illusion of security even with 10 levels.” Then the question still remains — how can we parents adequately prepare our children for college with violent crime like this?



A Dear Lesson That Does Not Cost Dearly


My daughter had her braces removed on 9/3/2009. After that she is supposed to wear a retainer full time, which is to keep the moved teeth in their new places. I told her again and again not to place retainer on a napkin. Instead, place it in her case when she is not wearing it. On 9/15, she called from school telling me that she had by accident thrown into trash can her retainer, a cost of a few hundred dollars in less than two weeks.

I rushed to her school, trying to salvage it, but too late. I made an appointment for the next day to get a replaced one. But as a lesson for her, I insisted on her paying for the replacement, which she agreed. During the office visit the next day, her doctor, upon learning that she herself had to pay for her retainer, asked,

“How are you paying for it?”
“I will find a job,” she said.
“Oh, I’m sorry for you. You know what, I’m going to give you a discount this time. You will only pay $50. But if you lose it again, you have to pay it all by yourself,” the kind doctor said.
“Thank you,” my daughter said with all smiles on her face.

It means 80% saving. Only it took me three trips out of office for this accident. Still I am glad it turns out this way and also happy that she learns a dear lesson that doesn’t cost dearly.



Live A Life That Matters, Sent by a Friend


Below was sent to me by a friend. Too beautifully written to keep it to myself.

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten,
will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from,
or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

While you meet something beautiful,
the first thing you should do is to share it with your friends anywhere.
So that these beautiful things will be able to spread out literally around the world.



An Incomplete List of Daily Activities


In applying for CCRP exam, I had to write a description of my job. Hence I scribbled the following incomplete and much simplifiied list, which excluded any unpleasant details that is also part of the job. Such as dealing untoward persons everywhere. I am amazed at how much I have to handle or how much fun that I should enjoy.

(1) Review extensively physician and clinical documentations, lab results, CT reports, pathology reports, and treatment plans in patient’s medical record to verify and process data.
(2) Ensure accuracy, integrity, compatibility, and compliance of data in accordance with related federal rules and regulations and industry’s standard practice.
(3) Capture all related identified or de-identified clinical research data
(4) Prepare for and assist federal, sponsor and network company audits and monitoring activities.
(5) Function as the contact at the clinic for auditing and data monitoring activities.
(6) Participates in education, training and activities regarding clinic research.
(7) Resolve and handle data discrepancies with sponsors
(8) Process sponsor regulatory documents at the clinic level
(9) Obtain medical records from outside facilities when needed
(10) Update company’s internal clinical trial management system
(11) Response to sponsors’ request for medical data
(12) Maintain open communications with physicians, project managers, nurses, clinicians and sponsors to clarify, verify, confirm data and ensure the proper documentation, data integrity, and accurate and complete collection of subject data.
(13) Maintain open communications with monitors to clarify data and resolve data discrepancies.
(14) Develop and enhance internal data verification and collection system
(15) Explain protocol to the patient when needed
(16) Involve the screening patients for clinical studies
(17) Help making schedule according to protocol when needed
(18) Write protocol deviation when needed

I surely do not suffer from lack of diversities.



Five Minutes, Make or Break, Reading Harvard Family Instruction


Last weekend I read this piece with my daughter and will share it with my son. I often hear him say how busy he is and he has no time for this or that. This is especially written for him.

A certain modern American poet and novelist “Alesking” used to take piano lessons from a man called Karl Ward. Apart from piano, this teacher also taught him an important lesson on time management.

The piano teacher told him this — you should get into the habit of seizing every small amount of time to practice. Such as, prior to going to school in the morning, after lunch or break between your work, even if you have only 5 minutes. It will be a huge amount of time if you add them up. This way piano practice will become part of your life.

Later in his life, while Alesking was teaching in a college, he was planning on writing novels. Yet, two years passed without his ever writing a single word. He was frustrated over lack of time for writing until one day the words of his former piano teacher came back to him.

With that he started adopting this so-called “short-time practice” method and writing a few words or lines or pages whenever he got as little as 5 minutes. To his surprise, he had written a rather handsome volume in just one semester. Hence he continued using this time management method until he became an accomplished poet and novelist, and a successful college professor.

It will be too harsh to say that “no time” is a convenient excuse for the mediocre. If we always wait for a whole chunk of time to work on our agenda, we will always fail to find this time and equally fail in whatever we want to pursue.



A Severe Breach of Decorum and the Harshness of American Politics


South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson erupted “You lie!” while president Obama talked about illegal immigrants and his health care plan. The president paused a second after this angry outburst.

After the session, Joe Wilson was soundly condemned for the breach of decorum by members of Congress from both Republican and Democratic parties. John McCain called it, “Totally disrespectful. No place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately.”

I am sure the dire consequence, the unpleasant talks, and regret will follow him for the rest of his life.

You might see it as a mere lack of civility among some of the politicians. I think this expression must be echoed by some others present but they choose some more gentle and indirect expressions.

The incident again testifies how easily a political debate can turn sour and ugly, resulting in people doing something they will regret, just like Obama calling the police action stupid. It is so important to possess a quality of self-constraint and ability to resists the temptation of any vulgarities and incivilities in politic life.

P.S. just learned today that the House formally rebuked Republican Rep. Joe Wilson Tuesday for shouting “You lie” at President Barack Obama during last week’s nationally televised speech to Congress and Democrats insisted that Wilson had violated basic rules of decorum and civility in his outburst. The dust won’t settle easily.



Putting the Cart Before the Horse


You might very well laugh at the absurdity of putting the cart before the horse as if you were better than this. Yet, if you stop for a second and take a close look at yourself as I did on my birthday, you will find we are doing it all the time. That is, any time you spend your time on things of less value and postpone doing things of real significance or lose sight of perspective, we put the cart before the horse.

Last weekend, I talked to a senior Chinese student at my daughter’s last art class at that location. She is almost 70 years old. She told me most of people that she knew of spent a good part of their lives making money. Now they have become rich and wealthy, yet they don’t have much time left to enjoy their wealth. Some of them don’t have the health and energy to do what they’d rather do. Why did they make money?

It is sad, certainly. They put the cart before the horse when they forgot to enjoy themselve for a large part of their lives, having been single-purposed in their pursuit of money. Or did not they lose sight of the true purpose of life? How do we balance the need for money and the purpose of life? When we don’t see ourselves as money-making machine, we should have a more enjoyable purpose in life than this.

Just a thought. No easy answer.



Remember the Hardships of the Past to Appreciate the Happiness of the Present


The day before the birthday of the other adult in the family, I always remind the children to say “Happy birthday.” It always makes the day very special when my son calls to send birthday wish. Sometimes a few words can work wonder. It is the thought that counts, though the thought and its expression cost nothing.

On the late evening of 8/27/2009, about 11:30 PM, before my daughter went to sleep, I told her that ever since her brother was born, I had always been sleep-deprived. I had to work against time, beating deadline, keenly aware of the scarcity of time, so much so that I had to pick and choose what activities that I would engage whenever I got a second. Among them, house-cleaning was the least concern of mine, which brought constant grumbles in the family. For so many years, I have built up great tolerance for mess, chaos, and general disorder that I often find myself in.

My daughter asked, “Couldn’t you hire a nanny?”
“That was expensive. Remember we were graduate students?” I told her.
“Can you borrow some money from grandma?” again she asked. Indeed, she thought people in China were rich after she saw two of her cousins came here in recent years.
“Back 20 years ago, people in China didn’t have money neither,” I explained.
“Then how could they live if they didn’t have money?” she asked.
“They had money for basic living expense but not anything extra to send us,” said I.
“Oh …”

This is one of the moments that I shared my past experience with my children so that they would appreciate more what they have today. In Chinese, it is called “yi gu si tian,” which is translated into the title of this posting. Actually, the Chinese meaning goes something like this, “Recall the bitterness of the Past. Reflect the sweetness of the present.”



Unnatural Behavior Observed in Healthcare Field


Here’s something interesting which I daily observe in our healthcare field. The doctors almost never talk to non-doctor others unless being talked to. Their faces are poker-like, lifeless. When they are talked to, they are very curt and laconic, absolutely no nonsense, as if they were totally above any trivialities or small talks like the rest of humanity. But they transform into different persons when they are among doctors, taking off their masks, sitting around, chatting and joking.

I asked a colleague of mine, “How do you explain this?” She agreed with my observation but was totally clueless. If I say I am as clueless as she is, I am telling a lie. I have seen too many birds in the forest and can easily see through the mask of authority on the expressionless face of some of the doctors. One might be wondering constantly what it is beneath the mask. Well, nothing deep. Actually they are not as complicated as one might think. I feel sorry for them when they have to carry the air of importance and behave so unnaturally outside their doctor circle. Life is so beautiful when the sun is out and everybody is randomly kind to each other. If not, you have to picture it in your head.

Call me hopelessly optimistic. I shall not think myself otherwise.



When They Tried to Checkmate Chinese Leaders


911 global alarm! 8 years after 911. Who counts how many Iraqis and Afghan lives have been lost because of 911? And there is no stop of it in these two countries now, thanks to God-loving America-backed Bush administration! If anything, 911 provided Bush an excuse to go killing rampage in their unrelentless oil quest.

I read this documentary book lately, Tiananmen Paper: The Chinese Leadership’s Decision to Use Force Against Their Own People — In Their Own Words, compiled by Zhang Liang, edited by Andrew Nathan, written 12 years after the 1989 Tiananmen demonstration. After the lapse of these years, participants in the movement must have cooled down and started reflecting upon the futility of this event.

The compiler of this document fully realized that the failure of the movement was inevitable, that “the arrival of democracy in China will have to depend on people in China,” that “the building of democracy in China has to depend on forces rooted inside China” instead of outside. A fair judgment on the purposeless and good-for-nothing activity.

It does not point out directly that the students tried to capitalize on the occasion of Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit and the gathering of major international news media in Beijing.

They thought they could checkmate the Chinese leaders, even with the threat of hunger strike, making the Chinese leaders lose face in front of global media, only to force the leaders to come out with force. I must admit that the all governments use iron fists to deal with any disruptive forces and Chinese government is still no match to American force in Iraq, having killed tens of thousands and many more.

Among others, the students demanded the top Chinese leaders should move out of Zhongnanhai and turn it into a public park, Mao Zedong’s body should be removed from Tiananmen Square and that Square should be turned into a place like London’s Hyde Park. p. 109. So much lovely baby whining. They sincerely believed the Chinese leaders would do what they were asked to. Come on, this is Beijing, not London. Do we have to be westernized to that extent?



Weight, Waistline, and Responsible Parenting


Recently, I read an article from New York Times, called “For the Overweight, Bad Advice by the Spoonful,” by Gina Kolata. It starts with this statement, “Nearly two-thirds of the United States population is overweight.”

The article reminds me of what my son told me after he got back from China. He saw many people with overweight issue even among our relatives, so much as that people considered him to be skinny there. I have also seen some of my relatives who indulge their children with whatever they want to indulge. Imagine the consequence of such irresponsible parenting.

Actually my children are neither over nor under weight, being right in the middle. Still, I would like to send this message to both of them, reminding them of possible health hazards inflicted by those extra pounds, especially around one’s waistline.

Here are some examples of health dangers related to excess body fat
– 80 percent of type 2 diabetes patients are obese
– 70 percent of coronary heart disease and stroke is related to obesity
– 42 percent of breast and colon cancer patients are obese
– Gallstones occur approximately 3 times more often in obese than in non-obese patients.
– 26 percent of obese patients have elevated blood pressure
– The psychological impact of overweight can never be overestimated.
– Extra fat can make one look a decade older than one’s biological age.
– One feels tired easily when one needs to carry the extra pounds around.

Wide waistline is particularly dangerous. An overweight woman with a waist 35 inches or larger, or an overweight man with at least a 40-inch waist, is at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

One last word specially for parents. “Studies of obese adults show a strong connection between body weight in childhood (or adolescence) and weight in adulthood. In short, obese children are more likely to grow up into obese adults.” It is up to the parents to make sure that their children do not end up being one of the 2/3 population.



Happiness Factors, Positive Attitude and Four Healthy Habits


Here’s for today: 09-09-09 (jiu jiu jiu), longevity + longevity + longevity. We will have a long way to go…

On a Monday morning, 8/24, I read from Prevention a few happiness factors. Most of them are already known to all, still in reality many people tend to throw them to the winds, as if they did not know what is good to them. We already know that people with sunny disposition are happier. The article suggests four habits that are at the heart of a sunny disposition.

1. Socializing at least once a week helps people live longer and healthy.

2. Expressing gratitude boost up your spirits. “It’s hard to be bitter and mad when you’re feeling grateful.”

3. Be randomly kind, which raise your sense of well-being and happiness, which is the return to your karmic kindness.

4. Reflect and appreciate your own life. You get an instance self-esteem booster when you are viewing a list of your achievements. Remember to go easy on yourself, and forgive and forget, if forgiving is needed.



Health Alert — Eating Habit and Genetic Changes


My son sent me the link to this article, which is too good not to share with my readers. It is on yahoo health section with the title “Bad Eating Habits Can Alter Your DNA” by Margaret Furtado, out on Fri, Aug 07, 2009.

The article summaries a research study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Below are the main ideas,
(1) “Eating a single chocolate bar might cause harmful genetic changes or mutations that could have serious effects on your DNA, changes that could last for up to a couple of weeks.”

(2) “chronically poor eating habits were shown to permanently alter a person’s DNA.”

(3) “these harmful genetic changes or mutations could linger in the cells, perhaps having the capability of altering natural metabolic responses to diet. That chronic “poor eating would amplify the effect, with genetic damage lasting months or years, potentially passing through bloodlines … to one’s children.”

One more thing to think about before my daily food intake.



Carry On — A Song that I Learned in College


It’s been over two decades since I first heard it and I simply cannot get it out of my mind. Even my children can sing it. Well, they sing my version of the song, which, I am sure, has deviated from the original version.

Carry On
In younger days, I’ve told myself my life would be my own
And I’ll leave the place where sunshine never shone
For my life’s too short for waiting when I see the rising sun
Then I know again that I must carry on
Carry on till tomorow, there’s no reason to look back
Carry on, carry on, carry on

Beyond the shadows of the clouds and onward to the sky
Carry on till I find the rainbow’s end
For my life’s too short for waiting when I see the rising sun
Then I know again that I must carry on
Carry on till tomorow, there’s no reason to look back
Carry on, carry on, carry on

Drifting on the wings of freedom, leave this stormy day
And we’ll ride to tomorrow’s golden fields
For my life’s too short for waiting when I see the rising sun
Then I know again that I must carry on

Carry on, carry on, carry on

And when the heavy journey’s done, I’ll rest my weary head
For the world and its colours will be mine
For my life’s too short for waiting when I see the setting sun
Then I know again that I must carry on

Carry on till tomorow, there’s no reason to look back
Carry on, carry on, carry on.

How good can that be! You can imagine how practical a person can be with a head stuck in songs like this, trying to find the rainbow’s end. It is after all just a song.



Pastor, Crime, Reading Harvard Family Instruction


Yesterday morning, at my daughter art class location, I received two books from a friend of mine. I am not sure of the English title of the book, though it was claimed to be a translated book from a Harvard scholar named William Bernard. It is called Harvard Family Instruction, yet I couldn’t locate this title on the Internet.

The books consist of short stories, revealing deep moral lessons to the readers. I told my daughter one story on the way to her friend’s house in the afternoon after skating.

“A man confessed to a pastor that he was the real murderer in a criminal case, yet an innocent person was arrested and was going to be executed for his crime. Upon learning this, the pastor should go to the police and set free the innocent, yet he couldn’t because he had sworn to God that he would not break the confidentiality rule. So, he decided to remain silent. In order to clear the guilt from his conscience, he confided this to another pastor. In the end, both pastors had their lips sealed and witnessed an innocent going to Heaven…”

“It isn’t real, I hope,” my daughter commented.
“It is real when you think of the fact that pastors are very much afraid of offending God and not being able to go to Heaven,” I explained.
“Well, God is … if he allowed innocent to be killed. I would do anything to free him.” she said.

I wish the story were not real. Otherwise, I would be very much disappointed at religious leaders who place their own salvation above the life of others. Or can they escape punishment from God for their selfish act? If they can, what can we say of God? Let’s pretend it is only a fiction.
harvard_family_instruction



Two Men with Two Different Attitudes and Aspirations


I know of two men with vast difference in personality and aspiration. One is around 30, the other in mid-50, a generation apart in age. You would expect the younger one has more drive and ambition while the old one is more laid-back, accepting, and reconciling ideal with reality. Well, the opposite is true.

The young one is my co-worker, going about his days without any personal agenda, engaging in small talks like school girls whenever opportunity is found, commanding nothing but jokes, as if his whole life is a standing joke that fails to entertain. The older man, whom I have known back in China Daily before I left for America, just earned his MBA and decided to quit his current job, embark on a new path on his own. He is full of ideas and energy and ready to roll up his sleeves and plunge into action. “I admire your courage to beat out at this point of your life,” was what I told him.

For some reason, the older man did not start out in his 30s. Yet, it is never too late to start doing what you want. After all, we only have one life to live. Why not make most of it?

I can hear back in my head some people would say “That man won’t get somewhere at his age.” I would think the man in his mid-50 leads a much richer and interesting life than the younger one. At least he goes about life with goals to pursue and ideas to cherish.



Self-reflection of the CEO of our practice


I was touched when I read the writing by our company’s CEO in our newsletter. He went to a self-improvement class, did some readings, then came back with a series of self-question-without-answers on his own performance. He concluded with this, “I’m not sure if I succeed more than fail, but I know I have opportunities to do better.” So humbly and nicely written.

He reminds me of one characteristic of an outstanding leader — humbleness. No matter how accomplished a person is, people won’t buy it if he/she acts or talks big.

One negative example is provided by our president Obama. When he called police acted stupidly, he actually turned away many of his former supporters, with his power of arrogance.

When we focus our eyes on opportunities to do better instead of on our past glories, we find anything else irrelevant.



One of the Differences in Education in China and US


The school schedule in our school district is
primary school: 8:10 AM – 3:10 PM
middle school: 8:45 AM – 3:45 PM
high school 7:45 AM – 2:45 PM

Now my daughter is in high school and has to get up a little after 6 AM as she needs time to get ready for school. You may be wondering why high school has a so early timetable. Unbeknown most of Chinese, many American high school students work right off school. A Chinese neighbor of mine has a daughter who worked over 30 hours at a local grocery store during her high school years, earning her own spending money. Many high schoolers here support their own driving and other spending through their part-time job.

Just a week ago I learned of a Chinese girl from Beijing coming here for her graduate school. She was in for a wild shock upon her arrival this week when she suddenly found herself on her own feet, like a toddler just taking out the first step.

So much can be said of the sharp difference in parenting and education in these two countries, which makes huge difference in their degree of consequence.



Back to School Night, Shopping, and Preparation for High School


On 8/20/09, I walked to SMS high school for the Back-to-School Night, hoping to meet and get to know all her new teachers at high school, as part of my preparation for her upcoming school. Some of my colleagues asked me if I had taken my daughter to back-to-school shopping. I thought it strange as I have always related school to study not to shopping. Beside, what is it to buy when the school provides all the books?

Being in the states for a quarter of a century, I am still an old-fashioned parent, believing nothing is as important as study, without being unable to comprehend the meaning of back-to-school, that is, until my daughter repeatedly asked me to take her out for clothes shopping. I hear some girls spend nearly two hours in the morning to get themselves ready, make-up and dress-up, for showing up in school. Some go clothe-shopping every week. Many of them feel they must dress up to the latest fashion. Otherwise, they will lose face or don’t look decent enough to be seen. They are forever a puzzle to me.

Realistically, I don’t expect my children to accept my value. Still, while they still listen to me, I will make my view known to both of them and hope they will come to accept it some day. Even if you don’t spend as much as others in clothes and don’t look up-to-the-minute, you won’t compromise your dignity and value as long as you take good care of your mind and body. I understand it takes some courage and maturity to be able to throw out of windows those transient fads and fancies and rise above them all. No criticism of whatsoever.



Success in High School and Beyond


I talked to one of my sisters in Beijing about high school in America and how much my son had changed during these 4 years. In fact, he emerged a different person after these years, being transformed from a shy preteen boy to a confident young adult. Many of these activities involved dealing with people of all levels.

Now that my daughter started high school, I reviewed with her what her brother did during his high school. To be sure, study took only a fraction of his time. His crazy high school days, which ended in May 2007, included the following.

Volunteer work
sports
work on internet business
Chinese tutoring
clubs activities and responsibilities
various competitions
internship
orchestra concerts
SAT, ACT, PSAT and AP exams
friend hangouts
and study

My son planned a lot better than the average high school students, which must be one of the factors that placed him above the average. Still, I remember he often ran out of time. In fact, time management was a big issue at that time. He always felt there were so much to do and so little time.


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