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

1, Jun 30, 2010

Early Bird Catches More Worms — Graduation and Preparation

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:25 am

On 6/23/2010, I drove my daughter to Shawnee Mission NW High for summer class. After I dropped her, I saw a car wreck not far from the school on 67th street involving two high school students, a boy and a girl standing outside their cars, waiting for police to show up. The small white car hit with full force the tail of an SUV, nearly totaling the white car’s front hood.

The school starts at 7 AM. On the first day, we arrived a little after 6:50 AM, having to wait for a few anxious minutes outside school before we could finally drive to the dropping spot. We found that if we arrived 2 or 3 minutes early, we could avoid the anxiety and could save more time, reaching there ready and relaxed.

Everyday, as I drive out of the high school on 67th street, seeing the long line of cars piling up to Quivira, I was thinking, “They could have avoid waiting in such a long line if they leave home a few minutes earlier. Why don’t they do that?” Witnessing the car wreck right outside school further makes me wonder aloud.

For my children, you can apply this to other aspects of life, as you might already have heard of this saying, “Early bird catches more worms.” If you want to graduate from either high school or college miles ahead of your peers with overwhelming victory, you have to prepare for this moment years ahead. If you want to catch more worms than your peers, you must plan and start earlier than all of the crowd.

1, Jun 29, 2010

Shattering the Myth of Trust, Taking Care of Ourselves (4)

Filed under: Medical Accident — admin @ 12:32 am

It happened in Great Britain on December 19 2003 by a 30-year-old junior doctor, Helen Pike. She ignored warnings from two nurses and injected an overdose of insulin into 58-year-old Tony Wright. Minutes later Tony suffered a massive heart attack and died in the hospital’s intensive care unit 10 days later.

Prior to the fatal accident, the junior doctor had worked more than 100 hours in the week. Obviously, exhaustion from working the crushing hours at Leeds General Infirmary played the role in the death of her patient.

When the junior doctors have to work extra long hours, under stress, suffering from exhaustion, it is extremely hard to expect them to be constantly equipped with the heads clear and cool enough to make life or death decisions in a split second. The truth is you are at high risk of being a victim of medical accident, if you are under the tender loving care of such a doctor.

1, Jun 28, 2010

Shattering the Myth of Trust, Taking Care of Ourselves (3)

Filed under: Medical Accident — admin @ 12:19 am

Still from the book on Internal Bleeding. This is the case of Nurse-Kills-Patient-by-Administering-Overdose-of-Insulin. pp. 83-88

The patient, Geller, went to see her doctor for her chest pain. After elective cardiac bypass surgery, she was stable until one morning when the nurse heard a loud noise coming from her room and saw Geller “jerking violently on the bed: her head snapping back and forth, back arching, arm and legs thrashing. She was having seizure.” The patient suffered brain dead as the result and died shortly after life support was withdrawn.

“About an hour after the seizure, another nurse tidying up Geller’s disheveled ICU room noticed two different medication vials midst the syringes, … One was heparin, a blood thinner routinely injected in small doses through intravenous lines to make sure they don’t clot off. The other was insulin. The bottles were about the same size and shape, and their labels were also similar in appearance. Given the nature of Geller’s emergency, it did not take a rocket scientist to realize what had happened: Geller’s ICU nurse, intending to flush patient’s IV line with heparin two hours earlier, had inadvertently injected a fatal dose of insulin.”

Indeed, it didn’t take much to kill a patient. This reminds me of another killing case of insulin overdosing.

To be continued tomorrow…

1, Jun 27, 2010

It Takes certain Discipline to Exercise in Extreme Weather

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:17 am

To be sure, exercise itself is not comfortable comparing to sitting on the couch reading or watching your favorit shows. It is especially miserable when you go out walking under any extreme weather. Hence, we often walk in a mall or a big store, as we want to torture ourselves only this much.

During weekday, my daughter and I used to go to Neighborhood Wal-Mart for an evening walk. But ever since she met her classmates there, she refused to go there. “Have you ever seen a teenager walking with their parents?” said she. From then on, we started going to Target, bigger and farther from home. We went there twice last week.

On weekend, normally I get up late since I don’t need to go to work. Yesterday I decided to get up before sunrise, setting alarm at 5:50 AM, and take a morning walk outside. I felt so great walking in the cool morning breeze. I know I can always take a nap at noon, if I feel tired.

Later, I shared this with my daughter. We both agree it takes something extraordinary to kick yourself out of bed this early and move your feet out of the house. Spending your weekend lying on the couch in front of TV with something to munch might seem a cozy activity; but if you want to do something good to your body and do the right thing, remember this morning and keep it up.

1, Jun 26, 2010

A General With a Loose Tongue: Bad Habit Hit Hard

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:17 am

Below are some excerpts from General Stanley McChrystal’s interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

He was quoted saying he felt “betrayed” by the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, who last year argued against troop increases in a telegram to the White House that was leaked to the media. “I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before. Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so’.”

US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke is a veteran diplomat with whom the general would be expected to work closely. But the general was dismissive when he received a message from Mr Holbrooke on his BlackBerry. “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke. I don’t even want to open it.”

The general reluctantly attended a dinner in Paris as part of a mission to persuade the French government to maintain its efforts in Afghanistan. He was quoted saying “I’d rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner… Unfortunately, no one in this room could do it.”

When he was asked about Vice-President Joe Biden, and the general laughing as he says: “Are you asking about Vice-President Biden? Who’s that?”

One unnamed adviser says Gen McChrystal was disappointed after his first meeting with President Barack Obama.

Another unnamed aide dismisses Gen James Jones, the Obama administration’s national security adviser, as a “clown” who is “stuck in 1985”.

As the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, a striking high-profiled public figure, you would expect General McChrystal to behave with some political acumen and canniness and would think more than twice before popping out those flippant and dismissive remarks about top Obama administration officials. You would think he did this by accident. No.

First, he talked with an attitude. It is okay to hold a different view but the general should know better than airing his view through this channel. Second, what I see is an undisciplined habit of tossing out of his mouth improper words and comments without going through any mental filtering. He might blurt out inadvertently, but his listeners are never inadvertent.

If you are an ordinary citizen, you can get away with this casual blurting. But this casual habit will cost your position and even career if you are in a leadership position. To be a worthy leader in any field, your behavior must be exemplary in the eye of public. So it is true with good parenting. I wish my children can learn a lesson from the fall of general McChrystal.

1, Jun 25, 2010

Leaders — Six Fundamental Qualities

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:25 am

We are going to have another round of leadership workshop. Before that, I reviewed some of the handouts that I had last year. I found it especially relevant today for both of my children. In fact, these are pretty good qualities for anyone with the desire for constant self-improvement and self-evolution. Hence, my notes on the six qualities are out with readers today.

(1) Ethics
You need to have a clear sense of right and wrong. Define clearly your values and beliefs. Know what you will and won’t do to obtain your goals. You must be consistently ethical if you want to earn the trust and respect of your peers and thus be a successful leader.

(2) Empathy
Show that you care about thoughts and ideas of the employees and your co-workers. Listen to them. Learn about the strengths and ask how to use them to help them meet a goal that will benefit all. Finally, understand the concerns of the employees and take them into consideration.

(3) Curiosity
Keep learning. Life moves pretty fast; you need to keep up with it if you want to be effective. Use your knowledge to refine and reach your goals. Informed decisions are the only kind of decisions you should make.

(4) Vision
Look at the world a little differently from how everyone else does. Reach into the chaos and pull out order. Offer solutions. You should know where you want to go, and you should have the ability to make plans for getting there.

(5) Courage
As Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.” It takes courage to follow your dreams. Face your fears. Learn about them. Then master them.

(6) Communication
You must be able to express your interest in others and your total belief in your vision. Communication is the glue that ties it all together. Without that connection, everything else is nothing more than good intentions.

In summary, to be a leader, you must be ethical, curious, empathetic, and courageous, as well as a visionary and a strong communicator.

Alas, life is so great and beautiful when we imagine working with leaders with these wonderful qualities! Even better, we ourselves possess all these excellent qualities and make difference whenever we are!

1, Jun 24, 2010

Shattering the Myth of Trust, Taking Care of Ourselves (2)

Filed under: Medical Accident — admin @ 12:51 am

Another real life story also from this book, the famous case of chemo quadruple overdose. This time a patient died of a killing overdose of cyclophosphamide. 39-ear-old Betsy Lehman, a mother of two young children and a breast cancer patient, had an experimental treatment at supposedly prestigious Dana-Farber, one of the best in the country, part of the Harvard Medical School.

The experimental protocol required patients to receive a high dose of cyclophosphamide at one gram per day. The physician order writes like this, “cyclophosphamide 4 g/sq over four days,” that is, the patient is supposed to receive a total four gram per square meter, spreading out over four days. The infusion nurse, unfamiliar with treatment plan, interpreted the order as 4 g on each of the four days and thus gave the patient four grams per day for four days, totally 16 g., thoroughly killing all cancer cells together with the patient’s life in three weeks, leaving two young children motherless.

Now, even if patients have done due research on the safe dosage of the drug and known that the doctor has written the right drug and dosage, they still need to be extra cautious to make sure that the nurse correctly carries out the doctor’s order. The mistakes of a nurse can be fatal, as in Lehman’s case. Well, it is our lives and we just cannot trust anybody else to do the right thing. We have to learn to be smart patients.

P.S. my daughter commented, “Indeed, you cannot trust them all. They are humans, too and they make mistakes like all of us.” Indeed, the cost of their mistakes is too dear for any one of us.

1, Jun 23, 2010

Shattering the Myth of Trust, Taking Care of Ourselves (1)

Filed under: Medical Accident — admin @ 12:46 am

I have been reading this book by Robert Wacher and Kaveh Shojania, Internal Bleeding: The Truth Behind America’s Terrifying Epidemic of Medical Mistakes, 2004. It was a disturbing discovery. Yet, it is good to know all the dark side of fact so that we can be wise patients when facing untrustworthy ones.

A 42-year-old patient suffering from chest pain died from wrong medication. His doctor prescribed Isordil 20mg every 6 hour but his poor handwriting made it look like Plendil. His pharmacist sent him home with a bottle of Plendil, 20mg 4 times, totally 80mg per day. Tragically, the safe dose for Plendil is 10mg per day. Patient died of massive heart attack. pp. 67-68

Two persons that we normally trust to take good care of us, failed this time, the doctor and the pharmacist, both being able to cure and kill. If the patient knew he could not blindly trust these people and had done some research on the nature and safe dosage of the drug that he was supposed to take, the tragedy might have been prevented. I don’t know whom we can trust other than ourselves.

1, Jun 22, 2010

Second Year Anniversary of Momwrite

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:07 am

Early last month, while my daughter was reading my blogs, I threw in this, wondering aloud, “Sometimes, I think it a waste of time to write stuffs here, 30 minutes or so a day, they will be a lot if you add them up.” “Of course not,” she said. “I can even use the parenting tips on my children. ‘See what grandma wrote.'” She even plans to show my blogs to her children. That’s a very foreseeing thought. Her response is more encouraging than I expect.

Now knowing the “spiritual wealth” that I have tried to pass onto my children could reach to the third generation, I am more than ever motivated to keep it running.

Every time I write something that is meant for my son’s attention, I call him to let him know it.

In summary, I have been and will still be writing for my relatives, friends, my children, and now possibly my grandchildren. Isn’t that wonderful!

(1) Relatives and friends.
We often find time running faster than anything in the world, having no time especially for our dear friends. I miss meeting and chatting with friends far and near, old and young, the farther and older, the dearer. The site is always a portal where they can get an update and where I feel connected in my way.

(2) My children and their children
It may be years or even decades later before they ever come back to these postings. They will catch a glimpse or snapshot of what was going on at the time of the writing. I don’t expect them to understand the writer, though they will surely do years later, possibly. For now, this is one way to tell them how much I love them, now and forever.

1, Jun 21, 2010

A Wonderful Father in To Kill A Mockingbirds

Filed under: Father — admin @ 12:10 am

In the spirit of celebrating Father’s Day, I have to post an entry on a wonderful father, — Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the books that I have never failed to appreciate. Written by Harper Lee, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 1960. It has been half a century since its debut and it will definitely go down history as one of the powerful classic books. I like the main characters — the widowed dad and the 6-year-old daughter, Atticus and Scout Finch.

The story, being historically realistic, happened in 1930s in American South. The lawyer Finch is to defend a black man who is wrongly accused of raping a white woman. Knowing the danger and the threat from the white mobs that he will face, Atticus demonstrates an admirable courage when he takes on the role of defending this black man.

The readers are impressed by his strong sense of justice and the courage to fight for it. As a dad and a single parent, Atticus has given his children the value and a good role model that will shape the minds and influenced them throughout their lives. As a parent myself, I can relate it to myself when I think of the fact that my actions, conscious and unconscionce, will be observed and followed.

1, Jun 20, 2010

Be Good on this Father’s Day, Part 2

Filed under: Father — admin @ 12:08 am

Happy Father’s Day. To be continued from yesterday.
“Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

“You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

“Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to you for being a boy. It is not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

“And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bed-side in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

“It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.”
–END–

In the end, it is the little boy’s good-night kiss that brought about all the changes in the heart of a father. Alas, on this wonderful Father’s Day, how many fathers miss this simple expression of love from their children or need this to enlighten them?

1, Jun 19, 2010

On the Eve of Father’s Day, Part 1

Filed under: Father — admin @ 12:20 am

Quote from Father Forgets.
This is dedicated to all parents, especially to dads on the eve of Father’s Day. I read this piece long ago but it is so touching that I have never been able to forget it. It was written by W. Livingston Larned, later condensed in the Reader’s Digest. I hope every father will read this piece.

“Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

“There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

“At breakfast I found faults, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbow on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

“Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbkes. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stocking were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!”
To be continued…

1, Jun 18, 2010

Nomad, Travels, Joy and Responsibility of Life

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:11 am

On 2/20/2009, a Friday evening on the way to skating, my daughter asked me what nomad meant. “Nomadic people move from place to place without ever settling in one of them,” was my explanation. “I want to be a nomad. It is boring to settle in one place. I want to travel and see places,” was her answer. “Then how do you make a living?” I asked. “I don’t know,” out came the answer without thinking. The answer quickly threw me into some thought about rootlessness, responsibility, contribution, and source of happiness and the joy of life, but I did not say anything to her.

The whole piece of dialog was interesting, so I jotted it down on a scrap paper. A few days ago I dug it out and decided to record it here. From what I have observed, I can see the tendency among some young people to seek fun and joy while they are young and never worry about the time when they are not that young. Some young people of the rich second generation even expect their parents to foot the bill for them forever.

I wish life could be this simple, that is, we can have as much fun as possible while young and have somebody else take care of us when we are incapable of working. Meanwhile, I am sure she will be able to travel and see more places than her parents.

1, Jun 17, 2010

Murder the Business Partner for Insurance Money

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:37 am

On 5/28/2010, I read a piece of rather disturbing crime from bbc news. Vina Patel and John Cort were business partners of 30 years. “Cort had persuaded her they should increase their life assurance cover from £500,000 to £1.5m, claiming he had a serious illness,” and that their firm’s life insurance would protect the business in case of the death of either partner. After the insurance was doubled, Cort hired a hit man to kill Patel. Consequently, John Cort, 54, of Rutland Street, Leicester, was convicted at Nottingham Crown Court of killing Vina Patel so he could claim life insurance. Hit man Brian Farrell, 37, of Queensborough Terrace, west London, was jailed for a minimum term 27 years.

“The motive for Vina’s murder was greed and money.” Crimes like this always shocked me beyond comprehension. I was wondering, would it turn out differently if Patel had been more careful and had seen through Cort? How could she be a partner of Cort for so long and had not a tiny clue or any dreadful bad omen of what was heading to her way when he persistently urged her to double insurance payout upon the death of either of them? When Cort said that he was in poor health and that it was all for her benefit, was she dreaming that she would be the beneficiary upon Cort’s death if she agreed to his request of doubling the life insurance?

Many puzzles and questions were running through my head, with no satisfactory answer whatever. At least, I wish my readers will be more careful and think more than twice when they face similar business arrangement.

1, Jun 16, 2010

It is Helpful for Children to Have Options

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:39 am

On 5/27, during our monthly department meeting, a doctor presented a talk on breast cancer.
Toward the end of it, he touched on the options that cancer patients had at different stage of disease. “It is always comforting for patients to have options,” said the doctor. Indeed, it would be psychologically and emotionally devastating to feel trapped in a corner with no way out. Very often clinic trials offer patients such options when all standard treatments have failed.

Have options. The words keep ringing in my ears after the meeting has ended. Having options means having choice, trust, hope, and control. The practice can very well be applicable to parenting. Very often, instead of telling children what they should do, the children will get a sense of trust, responsibility and even freedom if parents give them options and allow them to decide which options they will follow. In fact, it is always a good idea to let the children make decisions when they are mature enough for this role.

1, Jun 15, 2010

Unfavorable Job Perspective for Recent Graduates

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:54 am

On 5/26, I read an article from yahoo on job prospective for this year’s college graduates. The article mentions the experience of a young graduate from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in history. He has sent job applications to 50 employers, without any luck so far. While keeping his search for something he truly wants, he has taken a minimum-wage job selling software that includes an occasional commission.

This experience reminds me of two people that I know of with similar experience. One has a bachelor degree in mass media from Central Mizzou ending up being a salesperson at Sear’s; the other with a bachelor in early education works as a non-skilled employee at our practice. Both of them started with the same intention as this history-major graduate, but stay in their initially temporary position permanently. The longer they are on their temps, the more challenging it is for them to leave it. It takes extraordinary efforts and will power to make the shift from their temporary one to something they truly enjoy and are trained for. Wish them good luck.

1, Jun 14, 2010

Another Good Habit: Greeting People Wherever You Are

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 1:45 am

Continued from the posting on habits, happiness and health many days ago.
I have discovered some little ways that can guarantee surprisingly good results. That is, greet people either at work or at home or anywhere you find yourself meeting people. This works like miracle drug in relaxing atmosphere, bringing good will, putting people at ease, and most importantly making ourselves feel good.

“Good morning, Dr. … How are you?” With that, I have noticed the genuinely pleasant smile on the face of people that I have just greeted. Your sincere greeting means you are not rude and haughty enough to ignore people passing by and that you are in excellent mood to exuberate good wishes to people around. After all, who would like to be around the grumpy and grouchy ones who are full of negative thoughts and complaints?

For my dear children, you should get into the habit of greeting people no matter where you are. Do it even at home in the morning. Don’t take it as unnecessary ritual or something like that. Even if it is a ritual, it has its positive function and results. Be a missionary of peace and good wish.

1, Jun 13, 2010

Where Will 99 Percent of Graduates Go?

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:04 am

Continued with yesterday’s posting on American education and elite society. I was reading SMS year book of this past year, the 2010 Heritage Supplement and noticed this interesting phenomenon. There are about 250 high school graduates from SMS who are heading for colleges this fall. Among them, one will go to Northwestern University, one to Washington University in St Louis, one to Cornell University, and one to Columbia University. They make up about 1% of the graduates, the rest 99% go to either JCCC or K-State or KU or anywhere outside the top rank. This is the crowd. This is the flow. Thus the rudimentory hierarchical structure is taking shape with a tiny 1% on the top, sitting far above the 99% mass of society. There will certainly be change in this structure, as some might drop from the top and others climb to the summit.

For my children, if you want to be one of the crowd, you follow the 99% of the folks. Otherwise, stand above 99% of your peers. While life is easy for one staying with the crowd, it is never easy to be one of the top one percent. The road to the top is especially difficult for Asian Americans as there are so many over-qualified applicants for so limited places in top-ranking institutes of higher education. Tough decision and rough road ahead.

1, Jun 12, 2010

American Education System and Elite Society

Filed under: College — admin @ 12:10 am

Some time last month I read an article sent to me by a friend of mine regarding American education. There is an interesting section on American society and its education. According to the author, the U.S. is an elite society, where a tiny minority of elite dominates and rules over the overwhelming majority. They make and enforce rules to, among others, perpetuate their dominance in society.

Top colleges and universities like Ivy Leagues are supposed to bring out country’s and world leaders; those of second ranking are to train high-level employees; grass-root technicians come out of colleges of third ranking; the rest are for ground-covers, rank and filers who work for others all their lives. The assumption behind it all is if you are motivated to make it to the top at the tender age of 18, you have the material in you to be the world leader in the future. The hidden agenda of American educational system is to bring up different groups of people who will willingly follow the laws of the land, support the status quo, and hold their assigned positions in society. This line of thinking smells of Marxism, the line of thinking reveals the origin of the writer.

For parents, the sweet part of American society is that the elite group is not a fixed and exclusive one. Instead, it is widely opened to all who are willing to work themselves up the social ladders. That’s how people like Obama gained his hold in the white house and how Sonia Sotomayor became the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and how American society undergoes changes toward a better and more democratic one, not there yet though. This is something that Asian parents should think hard when they push their youngsters to Harvard-level colleges.

1, Jun 11, 2010

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU All the Time

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:42 am

I read this article from yahoo! HotJobs on 5/23/2010. Though I am not sure if it is something new, I find it amazing some people go to any length just to keep a constant watch on their employees. So much for the trust. So much for the dignity and respect. Below are some of the ways that employees could be watched, according to this article.

(1) Reading your emails. All your emails sent through company email account are potentially exposed to your employer’s scrutiny. So be careful what you send there.

(2) Phone-monitoring. This is to keep track of your phone use, to whom you call and how much time you spend chatting over the phone during work hours. This is understandable. After all, who would pay you to chat with friends?

(3) A CCTV (closed-circuit TV) system is cheaply installed so that you can be watched all the time to make sure scandals like Clinton-Lewinsky won’t surface in your office. After all, it is your office not bedroom.

All these remind me of George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four published in 1949 and the Big Brothers hover over your head invisibly — something to keep in mind while at work.

1, Jun 10, 2010

Beauty and Talent Went Unrecognized

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 12:28 am

This was a real story. It happened during the morning rush hour on January 12, 2007 at L’Enfant Plaza subway entry in Washington DC. A violinist was standing there, first playing Bach, then Schubert, next Mauel Ponce, Massenet, then back to Bach to thousands of people passing the station. Throughout the whole 45-minute playing session, only 7 people stopped to listen, paying him totaling $32.

Upon completing, no one applauded and no one paid a slightest attention to this violinist, who turned out to be Joshua Bell, one of the best violinists in the world who just played one of the most difficult pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. At theater, people on the average pay over $100 for his performance.

It turned out that the whole activity was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. It is an interesting experiment, though the result was pretty much anticipated, except the explanations might vary.

1, Jun 9, 2010

Snail Dwelling and the Song of my Shabby House

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:03 am

On the first Monday of May I received a popular Chinese TV series on dvd from a friend of mine. She said I would learn something about China’s housing issue from this shows. Oh boy, it did open my eyes to much more than a housing problem in China.

Honestly, the show is depressing and the whole situation is rather foreign to me as I have resided in the States for over a quarter of a century and my family has never faced this problem before. Many issues touched in the show are beyond my humble comprehension. I simply cannot understand why people do this and that. Hence, I don’t feel qualified making any comment.

Still, I shared the show with my children together with my favorite piece below, not sure how much they can understand.

1, Jun 8, 2010

Stephen Hawking: A Life Worth Living

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:14 am

Yesterday, 6/7/2010, ABC aired Diane Sawyer’s interesting interview with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. The interview was short and great. My daughter and I felt inspired after watching it.

Hawking suffers from a motor neuron disease which is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and eventually becomes severely disabling and leads to almost-complete paralysis. Still, the disease has not in the least impacted his world-known achievements and lifetime accomplishments.

During the interview with Diane Sawyer, he told Sawyer that he had three pieces of advice for his three children.
One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.
Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.
Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away
.”

To me, these words are profound and meaningful.

1, Jun 7, 2010

Money Cannot Buy Things that Really Matter

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:53 am

We all know that money, though important, cannot buy things that really matter to us, home, time, sleep, knowledge, health, respect, love and life. Here it is again from a friend of mine. I want my children not to lose sight of big picture and essentials of life while pursuing success in life.

When you have money–
You can buy a bed but cannot buy enough sleep;
You can buy a book but cannot buy knowledge;
You can buy healthcare but cannot buy health;
You can buy a house but cannot buy a home;
You can buy position but cannot buy respect;
You can buy clock but cannot buy time;
You can buy sex but cannot buy love;
You can buy blood but cannot buy life.

1, Jun 6, 2010

“Don’t Bark. Be Good and Get back Safe and Sound”

Filed under: work — admin @ 2:25 am

This was first written on 8/5/2009 after I observed a colleague of mine yelling at me. She has a dog, which she kept talking about. For some funny reason, every time she yells, I think of her dog or a mad dog. Strange association.

“What did your dog say to you this morning before you leave for work?” I asked.
“My dog said, ‘Don’t bark. Be good and get home safe and sound,'” said she.

I imagined this dialog and was thinking of sending it to her, but I withheld myself. It has been nine months since she barked at our office. The experience is still vividly before my eyes. I seem to have an excellent memory for spicy event like this one.

1, Jun 5, 2010

A Little Tender Expression Goes a Long Way

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:21 am

It has been a month since the young relative left for China on 5/5. It was 4 AM when his uncle and he headed for the airport. Before he left, he gave his uncle a farewell hug, the first of its kind in four years.

I am not sure if it is an expression of gratitude or affection or sadness over separation or obligation. But one thing I am definitely certain, this simple tender expression has touched his uncle’s heart, to the point that he keeps mentioning it and feels somewhat sad over the young man’s leaving. He has been looking forward to talking to the young man over the Skype ever since he left. When the young man was living with us, he hoped the young man could go back and find a job instead of wasting time here. One hug seems to have changed his mind.

Sometime we are not aware of it when we give away expressions of good will or affection randomly or lightheartedly. In this case, the impact on the recipient surpasses the expression itself. For my children, be abundant in expressing your gratitude or affection when that expression is due. Don’t be as spartan as Spartans.

1, Jun 4, 2010

11 Rules and Tough Lessons for Young People

Filed under: Success — admin @ 12:53 am

These rules are worth reading for both high school students and their parents. They will take you somewhere better than you are now if you can heed them.

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2 : The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will not make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

These rules are said to be delivered by Bill Gates during one of his speeches at a high school.

P.S. 6/19/2010. Today I discovered the following: Truth: Bill Gates spoke before a group of high school students and gave them his eleven rules of life. But these 11 rules are not from Bill Gates. It’s an excerpt from the book Dumbing Down our Kids by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and directed at high school and college grads.

1, Jun 3, 2010

Your Passion, Your Degree, and Your Potential Earnings

Filed under: Career,College — admin @ 12:43 am

A few weeks ago an article on 10 lowest-earning degrees caught my eyes. It was provided by PayScale’s list. Here they are.
10. Drama (starting annual salary: $35,600; mid-career annual salary: $56,600)
9. Fine arts (starting annual salary: $35,800; mid-career annual salary: $56,300)
8. Hospitality and tourism (starting annual salary: $37,000; mid-career annual salary: $54,300)
7. Education (starting annual salary: $36,200; mid-career annual salary: $54,100)
6. Horticulture (starting annual salary: $37,200; mid-career annual salary: $53,400)
5. Spanish (starting annual salary: $35,600; mid-career annual salary: $52,600)
4. Music (starting annual salary: $34,000; mid-career annual salary: $52,000)
3. Theology (starting annual salary: $34,800; mid-career annual salary: $51,500)
2. Elementary education (starting annual salary: $33,000; mid-career annual salary: $42,400)
1. Social work (starting annual salary: $33,400; mid-career annual salary: $41,600)

My first observation is none of them are from science/math/computer fields. All are from humanity/social science.

Secondly, it is hard to combine a fat paycheck with what you are interested in. You may very well go ahead with music if that’s where your passion is, but you have to go extra thousand miles to excel in the field, to be one in a million like Lang Lang, in order to even find a decent job. If you are not ready to give your bloody best and you still want an extravagant lifestyle, you are better off staying away from the above ten degrees. By the end of the day, as always, it is your attitude and your efforts that count and that will determine where you will end up eventually, regardless of your choice.

1, Jun 2, 2010

Sleep Deprivation Kills

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:23 am

We know we spend one third of our lives sleeping. What happens to our body during our sleep? Does it matter what time we sleep? Here’s a real life story from a friend of mine. A 25-year-old working for Microsoft died not long ago. Before that fateful day, this person had been an all-nighter working — went back home at 6 AM the next morning, slept till noon and back to work again, and carried on like this for five consecutive days and never woke up again on the fifth day. The dead person, once having a strong heart, must have been killed by overwork. In fact, this is the third such case in this company.

No wonder doctors suggest that it is better to go to bed before 10 PM in order for the internal organs to repair and fix damaged cells. According to Chinese medicine, our internal organs purges toxic from our body during night time. Their nightly purging timetable is listed below.
(1) 9 – 11 PM — Immune system is active purging; light music helps
(2) 11 PM – 1 AM — liver purges toxic. It has to be carried out during our sound sleep moment
(3) 1 – 3 AM — gall bladder starts purging wastes
(4) 3 – 5 AM — lung works on purging
(5) 5 – 7 AM — colon is up at purging, best time for bowl movement
(6) 7 – 9 AM — intestines start working on absorbing nutrients; make sure you haver a hearty breakfast.

Don’t ask me why. I only know sleep deprivation shortens one’s life if it does not kill it right away. It is very detrimental to your body when you constantly burn midnight oil.

1, Jun 1, 2010

Don’t Turn Silver Spoon in Their Mouths into Silver Dagger in Their Backs

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:05 am

Happy International Children’s Day! How I miss those fun days.

Every wealthy Chinese parents should read this book, Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment, by Peter Buffett, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Instead of yielding to the dominant material culture and wasting his time wallowing in riches and wealth like many Chinese fu-er-dai rich-second-generation, Peter Buffett beat out his own path as a musician and then a writer, seeking out for spiritual fulfillment. He pursues his own passions, lives out his own dream, and has achieved his own accomplishment which no money and wealth can buy. See my posting on China’s fu-er-dai, 5/6/2010.

According to Peter, if children of wealthy parents allow the silver spoon in their mouths to control their lives, that silver spoon will become a “silver dagger in your back” and makes it impossible for any attempt at personal achievement. Thus, wealth ruins more than helps the next generation.

It is an absolute must for wealthy parents on this International Children’s Day.

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