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

1, Apr 30, 2010

Four Bad Habits That Can Shorten One’s Life

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:23 am

While walking with my daughter in one evening, I shared with her one reading from yahoo on four bad habits that can shorten one’s life by over 12 years. Indeed, it doesn’t take much to finish the job. The bad habits include:
(1) Smoke
(2) Excessive drinking
(3) Unbalanced or uncontrolled food intake
(4) Inactive

Here in America, most of us can very well do without smoke and drinking, but the hardest part is to be active and control your food intake. Number three and four are closely connected. One bad habit tends to lead to another. That is, the more we eat, the heavy we feel and the less likely we will be physically active. Keep this in mind.

1, Apr 29, 2010

Seize the Moment, Seize the Day

Filed under: Career — admin @ 1:56 am

As spring semester is closing up, I see some young people making plans for the summer. My son called about his summer work and my daughter has already enrolled in summer school and other activities. A relative of mine is going to China next month. A friend of mine invited us to come over for a visit in the summer.

A friend’s visit last weekend made me think of what Chinese woman volleyball team once said.

I don’t know exactly how to translate it into English, but I understand it roughly tells us we don’t have as many chances as we wish to make it in the world. If we don’t make it this time, there won’t be a next time. It is like Olympic games, once in four years. How many opportunities are there for an athlete to win medal and honor in his lifetime?

1, Apr 28, 2010

Recipes for Health, Well-Being and Personal Safety, Part III

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:24 am

The sub-title for this entry is “How to keep up doing the right thing to our dear bodies”
If you are like me, you can find thousands of excuse for not staying on track with your exercise. Below are some tips that are provided in the book.
(1) Exercise with a group or a buddy for social interaction and mutual support.
(2) Exercise to your favorite music or an audio book
(3) Keep a written record of your progress so you know where you come from
(4) Set realistic goals for yourself
(5) Do something different when you feel bored doing one kind of exercise
(6) Reward yourself or celebrate for your progress

During exercise,
(1) Don’t forget water
(2) Dress comfortably
(3) Shoe must fit
(4) Avoid over-exercising

Again, the simple way to feel good is to do the right thing.

1, Apr 27, 2010

We Gain Strength from Having Meanings to Our Experience

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:17 am

Last weekend I drove to the airport twice to fetch and then to send one friend of mine. On Sunday evening while driving back from the airport, I felt engulfed in the feeling of sadness, not over her leaving but looking ahead for her and thinking of the fact that she is going by herself to throw herself into the world full of unknown, unknown to me at least. It is in human nature that we prefer to stay with the familiar and avert changes and the darkness of the unknown and insecurity, especially when gray hairs have climbed up over our heads.

One must have a strong will and an adamant determination to pull oneself away from one’s family and the familiar environment all by oneself. I was thinking of this again on Monday afternoon on my way back from work, driving the same highway as I did on weekend from the airport, the same feeling of sadness attacking me once more.

The whole experience brings to my mind Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he says that he who knows the “why” for his existence will be able to bear almost any “how.” Like all major life changes that we either choose to make or are forced to go through, if we can give meaning to our experience, no matter how drastic the change may seem, we can endure whatever it may take, overcome obstacles, adjust ourselves to the new environment, and eventually emerge from this change a new and stronger individual. We have to be motivated by some transcendental, larger-than-life meanings that we can give to this experience. Let it be an encouragement to my friend, myself and all that I care.

1, Apr 26, 2010

The Root of Intolerance in American History

Filed under: American history — admin @ 12:34 am

During one of our weekend walks, I talked to my daughter about President John F. Kennedy. I said the Kennedy family has been the champion of the underprivileged. They are sympathetic toward minorities because they once belonged to one of the oppressed groups and they know how people feel in that situation. “They belong to the group that was once discriminated against in America.” My daughter couldn’t understand, “They are white Americans. Who discriminated against them?” she asked.

Back to American history 101. Throughout U.S. history, people have been discriminated against because of their religious, race, and many other factors. Early Americans had its religious root in Protestant crusade, to the extent that Roman Catholic was often viewed as a threat to and a conspiracy against the Republic. This sentiment was fully expressed in American nativist movement in 1820s, 1840s, and at the turn of the 20th century. During the height of rampant anti-Catholic, anti-Irish movement in Boston, some employers even added this line in their help-wanted ad, “No Negro and Irish need apply.”

Many people who are not aware of this part of U.S. history do not know that the fight for equality has come a long way in America. As with everything, nothing comes from nothing. Nothing good ever comes by easily.

1, Apr 25, 2010

Time Tracker, a Tool for Time Management

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:43 am

My daughter and I have worked for sometime on her time management issue, trying many mechanisms, without seeing much progress. She always ran deep into the night for her homework, very often going to bed after midnight. Last Wednesday, I set up a simple time tracker for her. On that day it really worked wonder. She could focus better on each of the task.

First, I asked her to make a list of her homework on that day. Next, estimate how much time she needed to finish each of them. Last, marked the start time before she started doing one task.

Her task list looks like this.
(1) Algebra –50 min. 6:30 – 7:20 PM
(2) English — 40 min. 7:25 – 8:05
(3) Biology — 30 min. 8:10 – 8:40
(4) French — 10 min. 8:45 – 8:55
(5) Piano — 15 min. 9:00 – 9:15
(6) Shower and get ready for bed.

Of course, she did not exactly follow this. Still, it works as a restrictive force, vastly reduced her normal amount of homework time. Both of us see the result and are willing to keep using this tool.

1, Apr 24, 2010

Mourning Over Earthquake Victims in Qinghai, China

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:06 am

The day before China’s plan to hold national day of mourning for quake victims last Wednesday, I sent an email to a Chinese neighbor who is active at a local Chinese church, passing to her the information on how to make donations to the quake victims via a church in Beijing. I asked her to help circulate this information among her church friends, fully expecting something out of that supposed place of love.

I was a bit disappointed when she told me that her church does not send fund “through middle agent” and she was “not feeling comfortable to pass this to our church because people usually donate to their trusted agents…if they do donate.” To be sure, the request did not come from any middle agents but from a dear friend of mine in Beijing who devotes herself full-time to church service. I was full of words but don’t know what to say to this neighbor of mine. If this is not a trusted agent, I don’t know what it is to her. What would happen if I go back to China and make such requests to Christians here on behalf of church there? Am I not considered “their trusted agent?” I used to think church-goers are open-minded, at least more than I am. I wish … There I am sharing it here.

1, Apr 23, 2010

Not Another Dustbowl, Our Planet and Our Shared Responsibility

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:10 am

Last weekend while my daughter and I took a walk in the evening, I mentioned to her some of American writers, one of whom was John Steinbeck. I talked a bit on Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. We did not talk much of his other book The Grapes of Wrath. The book reminds me of the Dust Bowl and the migration of Okies to California.

The dust storm of the 1930s in American and Canadian prairie lands was the result of severe draughts and the misuse of lands, a disastrous cooperation of man and nature. Sadly to say, we are seeing the same thing happened throughout the world, mainly the dire consequence of human abuse of mother earth. In China, we see more and more severe sandstorms caused by the combination of farmland-turned-desert, over-grazing, pollution, and deforestation. In U.S. the grassy surface is gradually replaced by the sand down beneath in Sand Hills in Nebraska, driving people out of the area like what Dustbowl did in 1930s.

It leaves me sad and kind of helpless when I reflect upon the recent Copenhagen’s Climate Change Conference, which consists of too much selfish politics by the world’s richest countries. It is true China is the manufacturer of most of the world’s light-industry products and one of the top polluters as the result. Yet, without the help from her customers world-wide, it is hard to imagine China solves her pollution problem all by herself. China could choose the path of raising the cost of manufacturing and then the cost of goods sold, so that she can shift this cost of properly disposing the industrial waste to her customers. But will the world support this? We won’t be able to see much improvement until the world leaders realize that it is our shared planet and our shared responsibility to take drastic actions.

1, Apr 22, 2010

Recipes for Health, Well-Being and Personal Safety, Part II

Filed under: Health — admin @ 1:20 am

Here I am again from this wonderful little book on how to enhance our well-being. This time it tells us how to protect our bones.

What is so good about our bones?
-> bones provide structure;
-> provide good posture;
-> protect organs;
-> anchor muscles;
-> store calcium.

Keep in mind that bone is a living tissue. To keep bones strong, the body is always breaking down old bone and replacing it with new tissue. As people enter their 40s and 50s, more bone is broken down than is replaced. A close look at the inside of bone would show something that looks like a honeycomb. People with osteoporosis reveal larger spaces in this honeycomb. The outer shell of your bones also gets thinner. Imagine how terribly weak one’s bones are when one gets old!

Evidence shows that inactivity leads to loss of bone mass faster than normal aging does. Hence, we need exercise, extra calcium intake and adequate sunshine. Remember when you maintain a physically-active lifestyle and your body will look fit and fabulous. With spring in each step, light as a swallow, life is fabulous once more.

1, Apr 21, 2010

No Prize Horse is Raised in a Stable

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:05 am

Not a few Chinese parents work like a dog all their lives, hoping to provide everything for their children, so that the youngsters will not have to go through what their parents have experienced.

Nothing can be as absurd as this parenting. No pain, no gain. Keep in mind this Chinese saying — flowers from a green house won’t last long and no winning horse can be trained in a stable. So it is true with raising a competent child. The material wealth provided to the younger generation beyond their childhood years only serve to continue their dependency on their first family and resulting in forever retaining a child mentality throughout their lives.

1, Apr 20, 2010

Recipes for Health, Well-Being and Personal Safety, Part I

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:40 am

Many years ago, one of my children brought home a book from school called Our Recipes for Health, Well-being and Personal Safety, 2004. As the cover of the book contains some pictures of dishes, I disposed it as a cook book and tucked it up somewhere until last weekend when I was determined to do some cleaning of that corner.

In reality, it consists a lot more than cooking. In its recipe for energy and vitality, the book suggests a very simple and basic one — be active.

The wonders or the benefits of exercise include,
-> lower cholesterol and blood pressure
-> increase oxygen to the brain and improve memory
-> make strong bone and improve posture
-> burn body fat
-> reduce stress and tension
-> increase energy
-> protect body from injury and disease
-> boost self-confidence and self-esteem

We need to do
— aerobic exercise
— muscular strength and endurance conditioning
— flexibility and stretching

The book provides many exercise menu, which is always fun to read but tiresome to actually do it. Still, I will pick one and stick to it for some time.

Spring is here. Get active and shed that extra layer that we have accumulated over the winter. Whenever we feel laziness getting better of us, think of all the benefits that exercise has promised to offer.

1, Apr 19, 2010

Obama and Today’s Tea Party Movement

Filed under: Presidents — admin @ 12:21 am

The first black president, the prolonged economic crisis, the health care reform, big government spending, … they constitute all the right ingredients for mobilizing a grassroot force like Tea Party movement.

To be sure, the U.S. is going through a period of crisis and drastic social changes. As it happened in the past, some part of the population invariably feel threatened by these changes. One key factor that draws these people together is their resentment against a black president governing a white country. Hence, the backbone of this force come from the low-class white population, politically Republicans or ideologically conservative.

It is interesting to notice that you don’t see these people jumped out against big government spending when it was headed by a white president spending trillions on two exorbitant wars, as if money spent killing people on foreign lands were more worthwhile than on health care for the underpriviledged in this country.

Obama has already made history as the first black U.S. president, winner of Nobel Peace Prize, one who presided over nuclear reduction summit for the world’s peace, pushed out universal health care in America. He will surely go down the history as one of the greatest American presidents. No movement can change this fact.

1, Apr 18, 2010

Outward Confirmity Without Inward Compromise

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:01 am

For most people, they follow the flow everyday, no matter where they are, no more no less, and naturally they will end up being one of the crowd. There is nothing wrong with it as long as you are happy with it.

For a person who is not content with being one of the herd, he must adhere to his inner voice, his goal, ideals, dream, pursuit, while maintaining outward confirmity.

I call this inward adherence as one’s personal agenda. It is a well laid out action plan, step by step, stage by stage, in order to reach your goal. It is the tenacious adherence to one’s personal agenda that eventually distinguishes one from the crowd. I told my children, “You must have your personal agenda, driven by your inner force and follow it religiously, if you dream of standing out someday.” Dream without action will fade away sooner or later.

1, Apr 17, 2010

Attention, Power of Focus, and Intelligence

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:50 am

Last week, my son forwarded me a blog entry by Jonah Lehrer on this topic.

Lehrer introduces in his blog a recent experiment by neuroscientists at Rutgers, which demonstrated that general intelligence is mediated by improvements in selective attention. The results of these experiments “provide evidence that the efficacy of working memory capacity and selective attention may be causally related to an animal’s general cognitive performance and provide a framework for behavioral strategies to promote those abilities,” and “that intelligence is really about the ability to control the spotlight of attention. After all, having access to facts doesn’t matter if we can’t focus on the facts, or figure out which facts are actually important. (Herbert Simon said it best: ‘A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.'”

Think about internet and ocean of information together with so many kids with study problems. It all boils down to one problem, not intelligence but lack of power to focus and to concentrate their attention for long.

1, Apr 16, 2010

Do Not Be a Good-for-Nothing Person

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:33 am

“He who cannot engage in important task but refuses to do thing he considers as being below his level.”

This is what I often tell my children. You got to start somewhere down below before you become the CEO of your dream. You will remain forever a good-for-nothing nobody if you aspire high but refuse to start low.

1, Apr 15, 2010

Versatility: A Big Help in Times of Recession

Filed under: Career,work — admin @ 12:56 am

Last day for tax return. We rushed through it the day before this last day.

This year our company let go of the same number of people as it did last year, plus some staff shifting among its satellite sites. As the result, I began working with a new colleague since last week. Normally, the rule of layoff is last-in first-out. This person told me yesterday that she joined the company after those who just got laid off but still had her job now. “It is because I can do both project manager and CRC job.”

In fact, she can do a lot more than this. She has been involved in staff training, project management, clinical research, meeting federal auditors, etc. Thus, she can be placed anywhere there is a need.

Unless you are the rare expert in one field, versatility, being able to play multiple roles, makes you more valuable to the company than your single-skilled colleagues and less vulnerable in times of recession.

1, Apr 14, 2010

The Rich Man’s War and the Poor Man’s Life

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:25 am

On Saturday of 4/10, while my daughter was having her art lesson, I was reading Time magazine at nearby HyVee grocery store. On 4/12 issue of Time, there is an article named “Coming Home: A Year After the U.S. lifted the Ban on Media Coverage of the Return of Dead Service Members, a Rare Glimpse into the Final Journey of a Fallen Soldier.”

The words of this fallen one is very thought-provoking. When his friend left the army, this soldier said to his friend, “What else could I do? I’m not going to bag groceries. I’m not going to wait on someone hand and foot.” Now rest in peace. He can serve no one on earth.

His words reminds me of what people said of American Civil War as being “the rich man’s war and the poor man’s life.” Isn’t it true with all wars? I am sure this fallen soldier would not go to war, leaving his wife and two children and a third one on the way, if he could acquire a decent professional job.

It is also sad when a man has no other skills to make a living but joining the army. Isn’t it also true that one’s choice of career is extremely limited by the level of skills and ability that he/she possesses?

1, Apr 13, 2010

Chewing the Old Bones: Who’s Responsible?

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:53 am

On the evening of 4/6/2010, I posed to my daughter the issue of young people chewing the old bone, once
posted on 3/5/2010, asking her, “Who, do you think, should be responsible for this problem?” “The adult children. They should go out looking for job after graduation instead of staying home, doing nothing.” said she.

I am glad to hear this answer. I know clearly in my heart that my children will not grow into one of these old-bone-chewers because I have made the point of raising them to be responsible and independent adults right off college. From this perspective, I would think the parents should be responsible for feeding and reinforcing the dependent mentality in their adult children.

Have you heard of this phrase? We will make efforts and attempts changes if we are in poverty. In other words, if parents cut off the economic lifeline, leaving the children no option but going out of the door and picking up whatever jobs that can feed them, there would not have been any lazy ones. On the other hand, if one is free from any want, one is not motivated to make efforts and earn his/her own living. You can further put it this way, these children are more hurt than helped by their parents’ wealth.

Between money and freedom, young people should treasure freedom and independence more than whatever they can scrub from their parents. Like an eagle, soar freely in the sky instead of nesting around old bones. I can never understand how some people are willing to compromise the sweet freedom in order to outstay their initial comfort zone.

1, Apr 12, 2010

Challenges Facing Parents and Public Schools

Filed under: Education — admin @ 1:57 am

Last Monday, 4/5, I heard of this news about Blue Valley school district board decision. The board, faced with a significant budget shortfall, “will save $1.8 million by allowing a slight increase in class-size guidelines. Student activity fees will be doubled. The district will save another $2.6 million through a variety of other budget cuts.” It has to cut here and there in order to trim $3 million.

The news reminds me of the result of a Saturday’s state competition on 4/3. I learned that in recent years private schools have been the leading teams going national.

With budget cut in recent years, I am not surprised to see the decline of public schools. Both parents and public schools across the board are facing unprecedented challenges in keeping their quality and competitive edge with shrinking budgets.

1, Apr 11, 2010

A 15-Year-Old Girl Sold Her 7-Year-Old Stepsister

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:22 am

Last Saturday, I read a piece of rather disturbing news. A 15-year-old girl, while babysitting her 7-year-old stepsister, pimped her out to a group of young men who gang raped this 7-year-old during a party in the Rowan Towers in Trenton, NJ. This is utterly disgusting.

A person who would sell her step-sister or anyone of that age to a bunch of bad elements must be wicked beyond hope. The question that first rushed to my head is: how could the parents entrust their 7-year-old daughter to such a bad character? Didn’t they know how unworthy this 15-year-old was? Under what kind of culture could it happen?

I knew wicked males who would plunge upon young girls are never in short supply, and I would expect a bigger girl protecting a younger ones. But in this case, the truly shocking part is what a teenage girl has done to her young stepsister. Now can a parent ever trust a big girl to babysit a small one?

Call me suffering from paranoia. I believe it is better to be cautious than to be sorry.

1, Apr 10, 2010

Do Something Different Instead of Baking Cookies

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:52 am

Last Saturday morning 4/3, the sun was nice and warm. I did not need to cook for anyone since I was home alone. I went out for a relaxing walk, enjoying what nature had to offer on that spring day. Wherever I went, I saw pleasant signs of spring, the trees with tiny flower buds, the attractive magnolia trees in our neighborhoods, the squirrels chasing each other, the birds busy with their nests, etc. I saw one of our neighbors selling something like girl scout cookies. This abruptly brought my mind back to the conversation that I had with my daughter a few weeks ago.

“Girl scouts always bake and sell cookies. They do this so much that when girl scouts are mentioned, people always think of baking and selling cookies, as if that’s all they could do. Do you know why?” I asked my daughter. “It’s because people like cookies,” said she. “I think this will prepare girls for their future role as mother and housewife or maybe that’s what they enjoy doing,” I said.

“What’s so good about cookies other than making people fat and sad? Why can’t we do something different?” I asked my daughter. “How about this — we grow Japanese maple trees from seeds, then sell them at your primary school. And we donate the money to school’s PTA? I think it will benefit the school’s PTA, good for the environment, and of course, it will be a nice addition on your resume,” I got excited over the idea. But she did not share my enthusiasm.

End of a brilliant idea.

1, Apr 9, 2010

Sam Waksal, Martha Stewart, Crime on High Level

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:39 am

Last Friday evening while talking on the phone about ImClone’s Erbitux, a monoclonal antibody, EGFR inhibitor, I thought of the book which I read last year. It was written by Alex Prud’homme, Cell Game: Sam Waksal’s Fast Money and False Promises–and the Fate of ImClone’s Cancer Drug. This is a very educational book, a revelation of a white collar crime of high order and a stark warning to those who let greediness get better of them.

Sam Waksal, the CEO and founder of this biopharmaceutical start-up, ImClone, was convicted of insider trading when they sold millions of their company stock weeks before it let out the news that the government rejected ImClone’s application for Erbitux.

Martha Stewart sold almost 4,000 ImClone shares the day before the FDA rejected ImClone’s application for Erbitux. She was eventually found guilty and sentenced to five months in prison, five months of home confinement, and a $30,000 fine for lying about the stock sale.

Thus ended a shameful chapter of an otherwise successful founder of a biopharmaceutical start-up. Don’t do any illegal even if it means you will go broke.
Sam Waksal, Crime on High Level

1, Apr 8, 2010

Regret Not When You Look Back…

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:14 am

On the day of last good Friday, 4/2, I was home alone with my daughter being out of town with her school, for the first time for her. She called back, asking if I was doing okay by myself. She said she tried to call me but the line was busy. Yes, I was on the phone first with a friend of mine, then with my relative in Beijing. It was such a comfort with her voice ringing in my ears.

The thought led me to some parents that I have known of. One of them used to complain of her child. “It is better not to have any children at all. Life would be so much wonderful if you didn’t have the trouble of having to raise them and you can do whatever you want without this huge responsibility.” She said this when her child was little and needed her care and attention. Now that when her child has become adult away from home and she has all the time for herself, she forgot what she once said. “If we were allowed to have more than one kids, I would have at least two or three.” Isn’t it so characteristic of some people?

I once said to a friend of mine back in Ohio, “On our life’s journey, you can go through it either with empty hands or with your hands full, with burden or without. Of course, you will have an easy time and enjoy yourself in your own way when you carry nothing all the way. Yet, toward the end of the journey, you will remain empty-handed if you have nothing on your hands and shoulders.” After nearly a decade when we met again, she only saw and envied the fact that I had earned my Ph.D, raised two wonderful children and had a professional job, but she had no idea how much efforts I had put into all these.

It is interesting to look back how we travel on our life’s journey, even after a decade. The sad part is we can never go back to re-do it differently. This is specially written for my children and their generation. I miss them a lot especially on that evening.

1, Apr 7, 2010

Layoff On the Morning of Good Friday

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:50 am

On the good Friday of 4/2/2010, the sky seemed to pour cats and dogs. My office window faces a path that leads to emergency room at SMMC. For some unknown reason, I saw more emergency medical cars with light and sound passing this way in the morning. I had a feeling of something foreboding coming.

This feeling was quickly confirmed during one of our monthly research meetings that morning, that is, two people in our department were let go starting that day. I felt sick when I thought of one of them who just had his second baby last year and was in great need of his paycheck. It is a totally business-driven decision. I thought of how he was joking around, cheerful and carefree. Everybody present that day seemed to get the message loud and clear because nobody uttered a sound after the announcement. It has been a few days after the announcement and I still have not got over the initial shock of the news. I feel sad for him as I realize this is the bad time to look for jobs and he can’t afford not to have one.

The message that I drew from this layoff reinforced what I always believe while holding any position for others. Hold fast to my own personal agenda. It could happen to anyone of us. Be prepared.

1, Apr 6, 2010

Parents Need to Do Much More to Protect Their Children

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:55 am

My heart sank sadly when I read about a 15-year-old girl, Phoebe Prince, committed suicide on 1/14/2010 in Massachussetts, as the result of extreme “verbal harassment and physical abuse” at the hand of school bullies.

Phoebe, recently moved to the area with her family from Ireland, was harassed on that day as she studied in the library at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts, apparently in the presence of a faculty member and several students, none of whom reported it until after her death. She was harassed where she went in school and on her way home. Most of the student body and school faculties were aware of the bullies against her, yet none of them ever stood out for her. Her parents contacted school authority asking them to intervene. Obviously, no one care about it.

The suicide was a violent yet helpless protest against not only all the verbal abuse and physical harm and threats poured upon her in a matter of a few months, but also the whole US high school culture. Over two months after her death, nine Massachusetts teenagers were charged for their part in the tragedy.

This incident reminds me so much of the gang rape that I posted on 12/19/2009. No matter how the justice will turn out, nothing can bring back this young life. The tragedy makes me think a lot about bullies in American high school, American culture, the role of school faculties, the need for parents to come out for their own children, etc. It is no exaggeration to say that U.S. high schools are ruled by laws of jungle with the nearly total absence of justice. If you don’t come out to protect your children, nobody will.

P.S.This news was carried in Time magazine, 4/12 issue.

1, Apr 5, 2010

The Prerequisite to Good Writing

Filed under: Writing — admin @ 12:46 am

I had a wearisome Sunday yesterday, driving to airport twice, first to send the nephew to New York at noon, second to fetch the other adult in the household from 8:50 PM yesterday to 2 AM today, plus driving my daughter to skating in between. I also did a lot of house cleaning yesterday, as if I enjoyed it.

On one weekend, the day after my daughter’s birthday, while she was skating at Ice Sport, I had a nice chat with the mother of another skater. When she talked about the writing skill of her little one, I thought of another parent who has the same issue with her child.

To be sure, this seems a common problem with many school students. They either don’t have much to write about or write as tasteless as tap water, nothing enlightening or even worth-reading. Their book report is like a retelling the story without any personal input.

Parents need to realize that one prerequisite for a piece of quality writing is good thinking. I remember when I was in primary school, after reading a book or watching a show, I was asked to write a report on it, not a pleasant thing especially on some hot summer day. Before taking up pencils, I was told to answer questions like these, what does the author want to tell his readers through the book? How does the author do it? Has he succeeded?

In a sense, it is up to the parents to guide the child forward with some thought-provoking questions, leading them to always go one step further and deeper, challenging them to think independently and differently. If they cannot think of anything else, how can we expect them to write well?

1, Apr 4, 2010

Knowledge is Power and Health and Much More

Filed under: Health — admin @ 1:53 am

The day before her birthday, I took my daughter out for dinner that Friday. She had fried potato wedges and something else. Normally I don’t get her fried things but an exception was granted to her on the eve of her birthday. Unlike French fries, these wedges keep potato skins. I saw at least two of these wedges have green skins. I asked my daughter if she knew that we cannot eat the green skin. No, she has not heard of anything bad about green potato skin.

Next I shared with her about potato having exposed to too much light, its skin turning green and that producing solanine, which is toxic. After that I thought of some cancer facts, that is, people at lower social-economic level with lower education have a higher cancer incidence rate than those above them. We already know the direct relationship between money power and the availability and affordability of health care. Perhaps knowledge also plays a large part in our physical wellbeings. In this sense, if people don’t know how to live a healthy life, they are hurt and killed by their ignorance and lack of health knowledge as much as their lean pocket.

Hence, learn and reduce our ignorance for our health.

1, Apr 3, 2010

Coming Attractions from Childen

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:18 am

(1) My daughter having read my posting on her birthday said she would make more improvements this year. So much delight has it given to me when I look ahead for these improvement.

(2) This year my daughter marked her birthday with her friend, just as her brother did with his friends. As they grow bigger, they spend more time with and get more joy from their friends than from their family.

(3) During last spring break, my son went to South Africa for a startup workshop. This year he was in California for an interview. I can’t wait to see where he will be next year.

1, Apr 2, 2010

First Time to Go out of Town with Her School

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:33 am

Friday finally comes. We had monitor visits from Tuesday to Thursday for three different studies. To be sure, these monitors are very nice and we get along beautifully. I always have interesting conversations with them, much more enlightening than anything that can happen in the office. Still, it makes me tired after a day’s engagement with them.

My daughter will go to Wichita with her school today, 180 miles away from home, about 3-hour drive. I gave her my cell phone, some pocket money, snacks, and helped her packed her stuffs in the morning. This is the first time she goes out on a trip like this. She is the only 9th grader and the youngest one in the team. I hope they can make it to the next level and can go to Chicago for national competition.

I remember my son went out of town for these competitions. He always called back, telling me what he had won so far. It seems like yesterday. Now it is my daughter’s turn.

Wish her best of luck.

1, Apr 1, 2010

Stress Hormones and the Spread of Cancer

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:10 am

“April Fool, but I am not,” says a little child.

When I was at another clinic last Friday, 3/26, I learned of a colleague who used to be the department manager but had to resign from the position due to her breast cancer. It was said that too much stress on that position had played a role in her disease.

This reminds me of some cancer data, that is, Native Americans have the lowest cancer incidence rate. Asian people, even with relatively higher social-economic level and healthy lifestyle, still see a much higher cancer incidence rate than Native Americans.

National Cancer Institute reports that, although “A direct relationship between psychological stress and the development of cancer has not been scientifically proven,” “Researchers have suggested that psychological factors may affect cancer progression (increase in tumor size or spread of cancer in the body) in patients who have the disease.” Well, has-not-proved does not equal to non-existence.

According to the 2007 issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, “Ohio State University researchers have shown that in cell cultures, the stress hormone norepinephrine appears to promote the biochemical signals that stimulate certain tumor cells to grow and spread.”

Stress directly threatens our bodies, life and all. Make it a point to reduce unnecessary stress in our daily lives, for your dear life and your loved ones.

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