The BP Oil Spill and An Example of Inefficiency at Work


The April 20, 2010 Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill, the deep-water horizon spill reminds me of a similar incident of inefficiency and frustration at work.

I was not able to login to a portal for a long time and I don’t really care to go there if I can help. On May 6, my colleague asked about a dictation from it, so I tried and failed again, using my old login info. So I emailed the customer service which is provided on the site, expecting a quick fix. I would not waste any minute if there was no quick fix. The site person got back to me immediately, which meant the person on the other end was not crazily busy. I was told to contact the IT support person who “handles all of the user admin for your clinics, you will need to fill out a heat ticket and she should be able to resolve the problem.” Forget it. I have a lot more better things to do than dragging myself through this hell of trouble. I would rather taking care of my own agenda than anything like this.

I am too familiar with the procedure of getting any IT job done. We are supposed to contact the manager who would fill out and send a heat ticket to the IT people. If the manager is not available or busy at the time, the process will take a few days and it really discourages people to go through. Last time I had login problem with my pc and had to borrow other’s pc for a week waiting for any solution, spending more time wandering around, decreasing productivity and wasting time. When I asked my colleague why it got to be this way, I was told that this was the only way the company can keep track of productivity of IT people, with the consequence of lowing productivity of those people whom IT is supposed to serve. Sometimes, you have to go through some detours to get a simple task done, even if the direct and fast lane is available.

Imagine what it would be like if such practice prevails in most of companies here in U.S. This fully explains why it takes forever to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I can understand perfectly why people are frustrated with Obama administration, that is, with his slowness in response to the crisis and his failure to see the urgency of getting the disaster under control. Why can’t Obama issue an ultimatum, asking BP to keep spill under control within a deadline? Failure to meet the deadline will grant the U.S. the right to do whatever is needed to get the job done. I can’t believe the supposedly most powerful country in the world, with the most advanced technology and the money to get the brightest heads in the world, cannot even stop the environmental disaster in a matter of a day or two. I think it more a matter of inefficiency than inability. The highest level of inefficiency!



No Plan, No Goal Mean Drifting to Your Default Place


Yesterday, my daughter and I talked about her summer plan. She already has planned to take summer courses. Still, I think it a good practice to set a goal and hammer out a summer plan and a timetable because summer time is not as structured as normal school year. A plan and a timetable can help you structure your time so that you get more things done.

People with no goal and no plan are most likely driven by habit and drifted to their default place whenever they have some disposable time. For some people, their default place is computer, either play games or watch movies or youtube or on facebook. For some others, their default place is refrigerator. I have observed that some people are likely to raid the refrigerator and munch away their time when they have nothing to do or nothing better than eating. Consequently, they gain weight instead of ability and brain power.

Unless your default place happens to be one that constitutes part of your plan and will lead to your goal, you are better off with a timetable to manage your time and a goal toward which your energy are fruitfully channeled.

For this reason, I told my daughter, a well-written summer plan is absolutely necessary in keeping one in good shape mentally and physically.



Teaching Profession and the Nice Summer Break


Every year, around late May when the weather is getting really summer-like, my mind keeps flowing back to those long lazy summer days during summer breaks, starting from my primary school years in the suburb of Tianjin. The aged dream of teaching in a college has come back again.

For a long time I have assumed summer is not for working but for a nice long break when we can go swimming or go chasing dragonflies or take an hour nap in the middle of the long day. I have figured out that you can have summer break only if you are a teacher somewhere. Thus, I have longed to be a college professor. But I gave up the position when I felt culturally handicapped and mentally constrained in a small no-named town in the middle of nowhere.

I keep convincing my children to take up teaching profession simply because of the long winter and summer breaks. You can have the whole summer for yourself. Imagine that kind of freedom! My turn has gone, though dream still lives. Now it is yet to be seen whether or not one of my children will be able to enjoy the bless of a long summer break.



How To Make Children Have a Productive Summer Break II


To be continued from yesterday’s posting.
Lastly, this is the key to a fruitful summer break. It is better to have the children write their own plan or at least to get the children involved in any plan involving them, making them feel that it is their plan not their parents’. Parents can encourage them to make and follow through their own plans and reward them if they have done so. If they are not mature enough for it, try not to make unrealistic plan on their behalf.

Parents should be aware that learning involves not just reading and math problems. When children go out of the country, they are exposed to a variety of new experiences. With their natural curiosity, they tend to come up with lots of questions on matters that we take for granted. If parents actively engage in conversations with them, taking advantage of opportunities, they can learn a lot more than what they do in classroom environment.

Again, looking back, I should have relaxed and enjoyed as much as I could while on vacation and should have realized that during their stay in China, the children at least had learned Chinese language, that they came to understand a little bit of Chinese culture and customs through watching TV, daily observations, social interactions and constant question-and-answers.

If we can put things in perspective, we will be able to see that nothing is more important than providing your little ones with one of the happiest moments in their childhood. When I recall my own childhood, the most fond and memorable moments are never associated with school and classroom. They always involved with doing something that I truly enjoyed, either walking home alone through deserted country road or taking apart clock or radio. Now I feel guilty and greatly regret for having failed again and again in providing these moments for my children.

P.S. today is the first day of the nice long summer break.



How To Make Children Have a Fruitful Summer Break I


On one lunch break, a friend of mine and I talked about kid’s summer plan over the phone. It is not easy to follow a good plan when you travel outside the country. I had my share of fights and frustrations when I took my children to China during several summer breaks. That was when they were in primary school. Looking back now, I can see why we had so many fights over their summer homework. I am mainly responsible for those frustrating moments.

First of all, they were surrounded by relatives whom they had not seen for a long time. The novelty did not wear out even after they left. The more people around them, the more difficult it is for parents to exercise discipline.

Second, for them, summer break meant a break from school and study, all play all day long, as carefree as anything. Hence they naturally resented and resisted fiercely when I proposed and insisted that they do some home-assigned homework each day.

Third, here comes the influence of American culture on our children. They always thought it not fair to them when all their friends and classmates had zero homework during either summer or winter break.

Fourth, I had not done a good job of reasoning with them, letting them sort things out on their own and accept extra work willingly. I have emphasized this slogan — extra work makes one extra smart, but the slogan did not work wonder in their young immature minds.

Fifth, I did not actually have a feasible plan. That is, I often plan to do a lot but am bitterly disappointed when my plan falls through in the end. My expectation should be more realistic.

To be continued…



Habits that Can Bring Your Health, Happiness and All


When I went through notes that I jotted down casually, I found these few words which I am not sure if I have posted before. Still, I would not let it pass without sharing it here. Because it is so short and sweet, not a big challenge to my limited brain.

Habits that can bring you happiness include,
(1) Laugh often
(2) Count your blessings
(3) Say thank you and really mean it
(4) Play your strength
(5) Do good whenever you can

Being happy is essential to your being health. Thus, these habits can also make you happy and healthy.

P.S. My son left early this morning. I sorely miss his youthful and joyful presence, his upbeat attitude, and his support and help any time I need. Wish him success in his summer venture.



Short-Term Gain at the Cost of Long-Term Loss


I read Time magazine, 5/3/2010 issue a few days ago. There is an article that reports “The Long-Term Effects of Spanking.” The result reveals that a spank on the bottom may be the quickest and most effective disciplinary measure, yet it makes children act out in the long run.

“Spanking remained a strong predictor of violent behavior.” Instead of spanking, the report suggests that parents use time-outs, which deprives the child of any interaction and gives him a total quiet moments by himself.

Nice suggestion! We all know physical punishment will hurt the children psychologically and emotionally in the long run and we should not resort to violence toward the weaker and younger ones. But still, many parents cannot contain their own temper and shortsightedly grab the immediate gain at the cost of long-term loss. Until parents can put things in perspective and exercise good control over themselves, the children will unfortunately never be free from physical punishment. Very often, it is the parents who are in more need of discipline than their children.



The Nature of Physician-Patient Encounters


On a Saturday, May first, a friend of mine came over in the morning, asking us to accompany her to a doctor’s visit as her English is not up to the task. She needs a physician to confirm that her muscle pain is job-related injury. She asked us to help her describe the incident so that it sounded convincing to the physician. Since she had muscle pain before, “What if the doctor finds out that it is not a new problem?” she asked.

“You describe what has happened on that day from your perspective. The doctor makes medical decision based on what he hears and what he discovers through examination. Nothing can alter what he observes and what he believes. What he believes is also influenced by any preconceptions that he might have,” I explained, not sure if the listener could follow it.

This touches the nature of the encounters between doctors and patients. Some patients are of few words, thus revealing little of themselves, while others might be full of words. But the doctors know not to take literal meanings out of a patient’s mouth. They always interpret what they hear and observe. Objective decision is never truly objective. So it is between a doctor and his patients, so it is true with any human communication. We think we have made ourselves understood. However, without further feedback, we can never be sure of that.



Sleep, Health and Longevity


I read this finding a few weeks ago from BBC news on health. It is a study carried out by UK and Italian researchers.

(1) “people regularly having such little sleep were 12% more likely to die over a 25-year period than those who got an “ideal” six to eight hours.”

(2) There is “an association between sleeping for more than nine hours and early death, although that much sleep may merely be a marker of ill health.”

“And getting improved sleep may not make someone better or live longer, … ‘But having less than five hours a night suggests something is probably not right. Five hours is insufficient for most people and being drowsy in the day increases your risk of having an accident if driving or operating dangerous machinery.'”



Positive Feedback to a Reject Letter Helps


I had been working at our central office before I transferred to research section at the clinic site. I did learn a lot about billing and coding while working there. But as I did not see much future there and was eager to learn something new, I wanted to move to the clinic, working with patients. So when I saw an opening at research department, I sent an application without really expecting an offer because I had zero experience in the area.

On Monday, May 14, 2007 4:57 PM, as I expected, the hiring manager emailed me, “I wanted to let you know we have chosen another candidate ….” At 5:54 PM on that day, I emailed back, trying to stay positive,

“Thanks for the update. Too bad that I miss this opportunity to get into the clinic, where I am sure I would be able to learn tremendously regarding the actual cancer treatment process. What would you suggest that I should do to prepare myself for any future openings in this area?”

The next day, she wrote back, “Don’t give up …, we are going to be shifting some things around and there will be another opportunity. I was impressed with your eagerness to try something new and think you have a skill set that lends itself nicely to the position.”

Indeed, a month after this exchange, another opening came up and I got it under this hiring manager. I was told later by someone there that the hiring manager did not think I was qualified for the position at all. But here I am with the job. I am sure thing would not turn out this way if I had not send positive feedback. I hope my children will always remember to stay and sound positive even if they feel down and low over experience like this.



Questions Testing Your Success After Graduation


This is the questionnaire that I mentioned on yesterday’s posting. There are 50 questions, too many to try my patience. I list below some interesting ones. The answers to the questions reveal the character, the ambition and thus the potential of the person.

(1) How many activities do you participate in universities?
(2) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
(3) How do you react when you receive a bad grade on a test?
(4) When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do?
(5) Before you go to bed, what’s the last thing you do?
(6) Why would you climb a mountain?
(7) How many hours a day do you spend watching TV?
(8) How would you feel when you don’t finish something?
(9) How well do you work with others?
(10) How do you prepare for an exam?
(11) How do you handle criticism?
(12) Why do you choose this college?
(13) After completing this test, what will you do?



High School, College and Life Beyond Part II


Continue yesterday’s topic…
While I was in Boston in August 2007, I was greatly impressed by the large Asian student body in that area. I learned about a quarter of them were Asian students. If that was the case, Asians must be hugely over-represented in American elite colleges and universities. Yet, outside campus, in the world of politics, economics and laws, we don’t see the same high Asian visibility. We have many Asian Americans going into laws, but we don’t have anyone like Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan; in politics, no Asians have reached even to the position of the former Secretary of State Condelezza Rice, though I am sure there are millions of Asians much more intelligent than that lady. For Black Americans, even though they are over-represented in American prisons and under-represented in higher education, they have stronger and more powerful voice in American politics. They even have their own representative in White House.

There is no doubt that children from Asian families work hard and study diligently in order to get into top U.S. colleges and universities, but what happen to them after they leave university campus? Are they mainly good at hitting books or taking exams?

Yesterday I bumped into a questionnaire on the internet which tests your success after graduation. There are certain qualities that people must possess in order to succeed after graduation. To be sure, ability to study well is not one of them. Does it suggest that most of Asian Americans are not equipped with these qualities? I share with my children this phenomenon, as I don’t know what to say. I hope my children can mark my word and keep in mind going to a good college is only a means to an end instead of an end in itself. What is their end? This is the same question as asking them what they want to do with their lives. It is up to them to decide.



High School, College and Life Beyond Part I


While chatting with my son randomly, he mentioned that some of the students at MIT coasted through each day, making you wander why they were there. He believes that if you are determined to be a starlet, it doesn’t matter which college you go to. If you want to be mediocre, even Harvard cannot stop you from falling there.

These words remind me of what a friend of mine once said. If you want to be successful, you will eventually make it no matter where you are and how old you are. Otherwise, nothing can get you out of the rank that you allow yourself to fall into.

I am once again reminded of the huge responsibilities of parents that go beyond college admission. It is far from being enough to be able to send the children to a prestige college. You are not automatically guaranteed to be a success by any college. You might be pushed to one of the top by your parents, but the ultimate question is by the time you enter the college, you should have a good idea of what you want to do with your live in college and beyond. From there, you will either rise and fly or fall and slide away your college years.



What Really Matters in the Grand Scheme of Things


Yesterday I had half day off. My son and I went to Target in the afternoon. As we left the store, he tossed the receipt to the trash can outside the store. “You don’t usually keep your receipts, do you?” I asked. “No,” said he.

“I don’t like spending time shopping round or return it afterward,” he continued. “You might save a little after spending some time, but in the grand scheme of things, does it matter that much? I mean you could put into good use that time.”

I was so glad to hear this. Indeed, only when you have too much time and too little resources do you care more about resources than about time.



A Blissfully Busy Sunday


Yesterday was a busy day. The two children got up early and ran two miles in the morning. My daughter had art lesson from 1 to 2:30 PM. After we got back home, we crammed down some food. Next the whole family drove to get our neighbor’s girl. From there, we went to ice sport for their skating lessons.

In the evening we were invited to a friend’s house, where we were once again spoiled by the good food and the hospitality of the hosts.

My son was busy either with his work or working with his sister. I am so glad to see them working together.



Seven Key Factors to School Success Part 1


In the book Enriching the Brain by Eric Jensen, the author kindly details “the seven golden maximizers” for excellent school performance. I think they make tremendous sense.

1. Physical activity
Exercise helps increase the release of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which supports learning and memory function and the repair and maintenance of neural circuits.

2. Novel, challenging, and meaningful learning
3. Coherent complexity (not chaotic)
4. Managed stress levels (not too boring nor too stressful)
5. Social support (at home, school, and community)
6. Good nutrition (balanced and healthy food)
7. Sufficient time (not rushed, plenty of sleep)



Calculating Time Saved Everyday


I dug this out of my previous note. I am not sure if I have posted it before. The calculation below is what I wrote to a friend of mine sometime in March. She was considering of moving to another office and asked what I thought of the move. The move will shorten the time of daily commune from 90 to less than 20 minutes. I calculated the amount of time she could save by the move.
70 minutes saved per day,
70 x 5 (day) = 350 min. per week
350 x 52 (week) = 18200 minutes, 303 and a half hours per year

I told her, “If you put to good use of these save 303 hours every year, they can benefit you in the long run. That’s why I choose to live as close to work place as possible. It is time save everyday plus gas saving.”

This is something I keep telling my children – it is better to spend more money on housing and live close-by than living far from work in order to save money on housing. Most people always think of saving money, but they don’t know that they can always make money if money is gone, but nothing can get back lost time. I will share with you some of my writings to my children on time saving.

P.S. my son came back this afternoon. From early morning, I canceled my daughter’s afternoon art lesson, cleaned the room, getting everything ready for his homecoming. As always, it feels my heart with immense joy to see him back. The whole house brightened up, filled with life with his presence.



Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Re-read with My Children Part 4


I once felt sympathetic for Dr. Jekyll, believing that he was gripped by the inner devil in the form of Mr. Hyde. Lately, I thought of the murder of Sir Danvers Carew, a respectful member of parliament by Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll’s reaction to this murder.

When he handed to his friend Utterson a forged letter of Mr. Hyde, he was cheating his long-time friend, which is unforgiving and despicable. On this thought, my sympathy for Jekyll evaporates in thin air. Jekyll the murderer is a crowdly villian and deserves nothing less than this horrible ending. Nothing comes from nothing. Jekyll has done numerous harm and damages to people and society. He is also responsible for Dr. Lanyon’s death. There is no escape that he shall end this way.

Remember the rule: bad deeds always yield bad return. Thus happily we see the bad guy meet his shameful end.



Character and Passion for the Law: What Obama Sees in Kagan


On Mother’s Day Sunday, while my daughter was at her art lesson, I was trying to get some garden work done. A Chinese neighbor called about her daughter’s high school. She told me that a Chinese boy at her church was not able to get admitted into any good colleges, not even by Wash-U. The only door opened to him was KU. With perfect SAT score, dozen of perfect AP scores, sport participation at high school, church community work, and plenty of other involvements over his high school years, he was fully confident that he could get into one of the best. What is missing here?

The next day, 5/10, when President Obama nominated the 50-year-old Elena Kagan as Supreme Court nominee, he said Kagan “embodies that same excellence, independence, integrity and passion for the law” as Stevens does. If these are the qualities that Obama looked into for the position, what distinctive qualities that admission officers are looking for when they go through tons of resumes? Other than academic excellence, they also look for persons with outstanding characters and a passion of some kind. What is strikingly lacking in resumes of some high school applicants is a demonstrated passion for something. You may be a perfect student, but they want someone who can do much more than study. You may peck at numerous activities, participating for the sake of participation, without getting thoroughly soaked in any of them, but they are looking for someone who show sincere interests, knowledge and deep involvement in at least one area.

If you have a dream, a goal to chase and have pursued it whole-heartedly, you have the potential for something great, even if you do not have perfect academic scores and have not got your feet wet in many areas. Remember you must let your character shine through your life story and let your passion scream out so that no one will forget you or wait-list you after he or she has read your resume.



A Mother’s Heart is Easily Content


Indeed, it is so easy to please a mom. A call from my son already makes my day without hearing him say anything, knowing busy as he is and he still thinks of his mom.

I received the following from a friend of mine the day before the great Mother’s Day. This is such a darling expression, without any embellishing. I bet his mom would be super-delighted if she read it.

P.S. When I translated the above writing to my daughter, I realized that a translation is in order. Here it is.

“I notcied many writings on Mother’s Day on the Internet. I am not sure which day it is. I call my mother roughly twice a week, talk over some trifles, dine with her over the weekend. I have never said to her, ‘I love you, mom.’ Deep in my heart, I don’t need any holiday to remind me, I know she is forever the one who loves me most in this world.”



The Thrifty Habit that Young People Should Develop


I always hold the view that it is a shame not an honor for young people, especially those still living off their parents, to spend money like water. Even after they have their own incomes, they should still keep their thrify habit and think of those without.

About two weeks ago, my daughter asked me to take her to Old Navy as she had learned that there was a store-wide deep discount. There she tried many pieces of clothes, some of which she liked a lot but gave up because they were way too expensive. We came back with four pieces of clothes for a little over $30.

Last Friday evening we went to Whole Food store as I had promised my daughter to get her hair care product. Inside the store, I saw my daughter standing in front of diary products for some time and then left without taking anything. I knew there was something that she liked and she used to ask for. So before we checked out, I asked her if she wanted to get that Kefir cultural milk smoothie. “Really? I thought you would think it too expensive, so I did not ask,” said she with a happy smile. “Go and grab it now,” I told her.

The relative who just left us thought that our children were very thrify compared to many young people that he knew of. I had not realized it until I saw some of the people he mentioned of. Count my blessings now.



Writings on Mother By Winston Churchill and Others


These writings came from renown people.
Mother made a brilliant impression upon my childhood life. She shone for me like the evening star.” — Winston Churchill

“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother and to become fully independent.” Erich Fromm
Mother is the home we come from. She is nature, soil, and ocean.” — Erich Fromm

“A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.” — Sigmund Freud

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” — Mark Twain
“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” — Honore de Balzac
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” — William Ross Wallace

I feel so much better now.



Happy Mother’s Day!


My son called at 7 AM this morning, wishing me Happy Mother’s Day — to me, the best gift a mother can get. My daughter greeted me with a hug and “Happy Mother’s Day” as I returned from the yard work. This constitutes a perfect day for me.

On the Friday evening of 2/19/2010, my daughter asked me to take her to the Border’s bookstore. Actually I enjoy going there, better than cooking and cleaning at home. After she had done part of her homework and practiced piano, I took her there for an hour as a break. I took up a book on mother or rather a collection of sayings on mother. Boy, people have so many nice words about their mothers! Here are some of them.

“A mother understands what a child does not say.” –Unknown
“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.” — Anne Sullivan
“Her children rise up and call her blessed.” Proverb 31:28
If a child lives with approval he learns to live with himself.” — Dorothy Law Nolte
“A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.” –C. Mermillod
Good parents give their children roots and wings, roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what is been taught them.” — Jones Salk
“Mothers of the race are the most important actors in the grand drama of human progress.” –E. C. Stanton
Never fear spoiling children by making them too happy. Happiness is the atmosphere in which all good affections grow.” — Thomas Bray
“… a good mother gives her children a feeling of trust and stability. She is their earth.” K.B. Hathaway

I am always impressed by the number of ways people give compliments to their mothers. Tomorrow I will post writings from famous people on mother.



Obama and Israel: The Dilemma of a Politician


While U.S. was baffled over Iran’s nuclear ambition, it goes desperately grabbing support from as many countries as possible, especially from the Arab world. Obama is smart enough to be aware of the fact that U.S. long-standing policy toward Israeli nuclear arsenal got to be changed if U.S. ever makes Iran and other Arabs obey.

Obama knows clearly that the Israeli arsenal buildup including some 200 atomic warheads are perceived as real threat by the Arabs and Muslims and the U.S. double-standard on this issue — keeping a blind eye to Israeli atomic weapon while hawking about Iran’s would-be ones — won’t be well-accepted Middle-East-wise. If U.S ever intends to reach out to the Arabs world and hopes to erase some of the ill-feelings in that part of the world, its policy on Israel is one key blocking rock.

Now here’s the true touchstone to his character — is he going to uphold justice and be a true peace-missionary as he did domestically regarding healthcare reform or is he a mere running dog for some wealthy money group? Will he ever challenge the America’s 40-year-old don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy toward Israeli arsenal? Interesting to see. Not difficult to predict the outcome in this money-dominant world.

Obama’s dilemma demonstrates the difficulties of being a successful politician and a person of integrity at the same time.



Stop, Reflect, and Learn from What has Happened to us and to Others


Early this year when the mother of the young relative was here with us, I mentioned to her the importance of having a certification on top of a degree in job-hunting. One or two certifications in his area of expertise would help him to land a job either here or in China. That’s how I got my jobs. They all thought it a good idea. It was then agreed by both mother and son that the young man would pursue diligently in both getting certified and getting a job. For the months that followed, he would at least accomplish something if he was not lucky enough to get a job. Now four months have passed and the young man has just left for China — no job, no certification.

There should be some accountability for what has been agreed upon. What would happen if the promise was not delivered by deadline? Now nobody cares to find out where things went wrong and why the young man did not follow the plan. Very often people simply rush by and let things happen without looking back. Since I was not involved in his education, I did not know what was going on and was not in the position to ask.

I am not making any judgment on anybody. I record this for my children because I don’t think it helpful in the long run if we let any undesirable results fall through the cracks without ever learning a bit out of it. Each time we fail something, we cannot just shrug our shoulders and say “Oh well” or “whatever” with a careless attitude. We got to confront ourselves honestly and learn things out of any failed efforts if we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes committed either by us or by other people. It is wise to always reflect upon events and learn to be wiser.



A Notorious Rich Second Generation



Last week my sister asked me if I have heard of fu er dai in China, the rich second generation. She further described how these children from newly rich families live a spectacularly useless and wasteful life; drinking and drugs, vices of all forms — contrary in every aspect to their parents’ lives.

This rich second generation children are so good at squandering wealth that they practically leave nothing for the generation following them. That’s why there is a saying that the wealth of one generation won’t go as far as the third generation.

This reveals nothing but an utter failure of the first generation parents in raising up decent children. No matter how much wealth they have amassed in their life time, they have failed as parents.



Plan and Project Management for Summer and Beyond


Last Friday evening I talked to my son over the phone about his summer work. If you work under some sort of sponsorship, the sponsor will expect some deliverable at the end of that timeframe. You know deadline often comes faster than you expect. Therefore, it is essential to have a good action plan. He told me the concept of milestone to mark the development of the company. I shared with him some of my past experience.

(1) It is a good habit to keep a work journal so that you can go back and see what you have done in case you need to find that out. When I worked as consultant prior to y2k, I needed to write a weekly status report, detailing the tasks that I had completed and the progress that I had made during that week. A daily work log made the task a whole lot easy.

(2) Always chop a task or a major project into small pieces and assign each piece into certain time range, making sure you meet your own deadline. When I worked on my dissertation back in Ohio in early 1990s, I made sure that I completed each chapter according to my steel-fixed plan.

(3) Another trick against procrastination is to impose a deadline on yourself, which is usually at least one week before the real deadline. This is a sure-proof against procrastination.

The above three mechanisms that I have employed before have helped me. I hope my children will get into the habit of using them. They will benefit from them for this summer and beyond.

P.S. the relative of ours left for China today. When he first arrived in 2006, my son was third year of high school. Now he is third year of college. Next year he will graduate from college. Four years have rushed by so fast!



Remember May 4 Kent State Massacre of 1970


40 years have passed since the Kent State massacre of 1970 and the killing continues, only on different lands. Every time I think of those young students, the best and the hope of the nation, killed most senselessly by Ohio National Guard, my heart is sick with a sense of hopelessness and injustice. The students were killed simply because they were anti-war protesters. What is wrong with that? So much for freedom of expression! So much for National Guard supposedly guarding the nation!

One victim, 21-year-old Allison B. Krause, her father being a Holocaust survivor from Germany. How could he have imagined that he escaped German Holocaust only to find his daughter killed in U.S. Another is 20-year-old Jeffrey Glenn Miller who transferred from Michigan State to Kent State the year before. His mother wrote a very touching piece of her son 10 years ago to mark 30 years anniversary. See http://www.peace.ca/mysondied.htm I am sure this would be the most horrible moment for any mother.

Alas, times have changed so much, not sure it is a good or bad thing, but we no longer see so many peace-loving rallies against the twin wars currently going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. I sincerely hope these young blood were not shed in vain but for the living ones to think and reflect.



Global Nuclear Abolitionists Protest in New York


My heart jumped up with excitement when I saw this picture. I can’t believe it happened in America, that someone in New York shares my peace-loving sentiment. It happened yesterday, the day after International Labour Day. Folks in war-torn countries, hang on there. There is hope after all.



Parents Anticipating and Preparing for What Will Happen Next


The other day I watched a Chinese talk show in which parents, children and some parenting experts together watch a scene where a girl went shopping with her parents. When her demand for a new toy was not satisfied, she made a terrible scene in public drawing huge attention until her parents yielded. Seeing the triumphant smile on the face of this girl, my heart went out to her parents who seemed thoroughly beaten, tortured, lost and utterly helpless.

I am sure most of the parents have this experience in which they grudgingly give in to their spoiled children. I never have such extreme cases, but I have my share of unpleasant moments, in which we went out with a cheerful mood with all the intentions to make it a pleasant experience, but out of the store a totally opposite one took its place. Each time after the experience, I told myself that I must learn something from this and I would never go to a store without a written promise from my child that we would not do this or that. But very often, the moment we plan to go out, I am in such an excellent mood that I simply forget all this.

It takes so much discipline and never-to-forget rule for parents to ever achieve any desirable result.



Celebrating International Labor Day


Today is May first International Labour’s Day. Just like March 8th International Women’s Day, America is an exception when it comes to any internationally marked day. It only oberves its own labor day.

Last week I talked with a colleague of mine on the folks that were recently laid off. I thought we could have avoided letting go of these people if we all either take a pay cut or take less work hours each week. It would be a win-win situation for both employee and the company.

If the company can manage to keep all these good people during economic downturn, it will save itself from the trouble and the money of hiring new people when things get better.

It makes sense from both humanistic and economic perspective. I can never figure out why we have to lay off people. Why can’t we think of some way to keep everybody afloat? Is it against American culture if companies manage economic downturn in a humane way?


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