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

1, Jul 31, 2010

The Rich Americans Love the Poor and the Needed Outside the U.S.

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:38 am

This is the most fitting topic for the 4th of July national holiday, supposed to be the most patriotic day. This article was carried on The Wall Street Journal, “Wealthy Give More Overseas, Less to Education, Religion,” 6/9/2010. Wealthy Americans care more about the underpriviledged people globally than those at home.

The giving to international aid see an increase of 6.2%. Domestically, donations to church, education, public society, and arts have declined greatly. It is heartening to see more money poured into environmental protection at home and international aid abroad.

It is an welcome sign to see the rich Americans becoming more catholic in heart and less parochial as the mainstream so soundly demonstrate.

The article reminds me of my son’s recent paycheck, one-third of which was given to Uncle Sam. I still believe donation to any charities is the best solution if any money has to be chipped off your paycheck.

1, Jul 30, 2010

It Is the Immigrants Who Make the Land Great

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:12 am

The following message was emailed around by one of my colleagues this week. Never mind about the ignorance and prejudice thickly exuded in the message. I don’t expect anything enlightened from the sender anyway.

I post it here to remind people of the anti-immigrant sentiment deeply rooted in the minds of not an isoloated few Americans. Have this in mind when you try to merge your youngsters into mainstream American culture and imagine how they will be holy welcome. You might choose to ignore this anti-immigration force, but this is the reality that we and our children have to be aware of and live with. Now enjoy.

If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you get shot.
If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.
If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
If you cross the Mexican borders illegally you will jailed for two years.
If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
If you cross the United States border illegally you get:
1 – A job
2 – A driver’s license
3 – A Social Security card
4 – Welfare
5 – Food stamps
6 – Credit cards
7 – Subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house
8 – Free education
9 – Free health care
10 – A lobbyist in Washington
11 – Billions of dollars in public documents printed in your language
12 – Millions of servicemen and women who are willing to – and do – die for your right to the ways and means of our @#$%—-ution
13 – And the right to carry the flag of your country – the one you walked out on – while you call America racist and protest that you don’t get enough respect.

Regardless of what they feel about immigrants, I have no doubt in my mind that the future and the greatness of this country lie heavily on the shoulders of millions of immigrants who believe in the dream and ideal of the founding fathers of the nations and continue to lead the nation in the world. Without them, to the valley and a steep downhill this country will dash into like a flash.

1, Jul 29, 2010

Einstein’s Five Maxims for Creative Excellence

Filed under: Career — admin @ 1:27 am

Here is what I read on one weekend many months ago. I wrote down the key points but forgot where I read it. Since the note was still scattered around my desk, I assume it has not been taken care of. Hence, I post it here.

1. Imagination is more important than knowledge.
2. Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. [This means you read too much of other people’s thought and got into the habit of thinking through others, losing your own creativity. I would assume a thinking head is better than no-brain one]

3. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. [I like this piece. Indeed, keep alive your curiosity and never get trapped in daily drudgeries]

4. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. [True]

5. The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. [This challenges your understanding]

1, Jul 28, 2010

It Takes some Tactics to Ward off Troubles

Filed under: work — admin @ 1:30 am

This happend on the morning of 6/7/2010 when a monitor wrote to me about two patients under xyz’s care, “Hi …, These are for xyz’s subjects that were screen fails. I have asked her to make these calls, but they are still outstanding. Would you mind trying? Thanks …”

It is a touchy situation as I am fully aware of the fact that xyz is not easy to work with and will be mad if I do what the monitor has asked me to. So, I asked my colleague what she would do in this situation. She read the monitor’s email and said, “Forward the email to xyz and let her do it. That’s what I would do.”

Oh boy, this would be the last thing that I would do because xyz would be wondering why the monitor asked me regarding her patients instead of asking her directly, as if my arms were so long that I had reached into the depth of her domain of control. What was going on behind her back? Were we gossiping about her? she would bombard me with endless questions. This is like begging for trouble for both monitor and me. Do I need troubles? No.

At first I was thinking of writing to the monitor, explaining to her my dilemma. Then I thought it better not to commit it in writing. You never know what the monitor will do with my email when I mean for her own reading. So I picked up the phone. Luckily she was on the other side of the phone at the moment. I explained to her why it was not proper for me to get involved, which she understands perfectly, given her own experience with xyz. I suggested that she email xyz and cc our project manager and even our department manager. If this won’t work, she should call our manager. Always go one level up instead of going horizontally when you try to resolve some issues. She appreciates my suggestion greatly and did what I told her.

After that, I shared this experience with my daughter, hoping she could understand this simple fact – when working with difficult persons, it takes some tactics to ward off troubles and enjoy happy endings.

1, Jul 27, 2010

Healthcare Providers: Myth and Reality

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:34 am

Random thought on healthcare professionals.

A couple of people have asked me at different moments about people at healthcare. I have worked at the clinic level, though not a clinic person, thus have heard and witnessed the attitude of doctors and nurses. I must admit that my previous expectation is better than reality. Most likely, I have been unrealistic in my expectation.

Money is often the ultimate motive behind our daily activities, regardless where we work. Make no mistake about this. Yet, we seem to expect healthcare providers to be more than someone being driven by profit, as if they were saints. Are we expecting too much? At least I am.

My children’s previous piano teacher was full of complaints about the attitude of the doctor who treated her husband’s cancer. “He talked without any compassion,” said she. I also witnessed some people at our clinic who are very single-minded in their coming to the clinic everyday. This doctor happened to work at our clinic.

Coming from the background where Dr. Norman Bethune was a household name, resulting from being strongly recommended in Mao Zedong’s article, “In Memory of Norman Bethune,” I have expected nothing short of a humanitarian figure with expert in medical science from our physicians. Imagine how distant I am from reality. Well, it gives such a cozy feeling to live way above the clouds.

I once told a friend of mine that she would be bitterly disappointed if she expected to see people like Bethune or like Dr. Elton Lehman in House Calls and Hitching Posts: Stories from Dr. Elton Lehman’s career among the Amish. To be sure, they are good professionals in their own way, only if we ourselves have not idealized them out of proportion.

1, Jul 26, 2010

Children Who Don’t Have to Worry About Anything but Study

Filed under: Son — admin @ 12:41 am

When my son was back home during the 4th of July long weekend, he told my daughter that kids who did not have to work after school were lucky. They had no reason not to study well. He talked about one of his friends at MIT who worked at his parents’ restaurant after school until he left for college.

There are actually many children who are like this friend of his. They must help around with their families and do not have as much time as they want for themselves.

Children who do not have to worry about anything but study should count their blessings. It does make children think differently when they realize how lucky they are in this aspect.

1, Jul 25, 2010

Notes on Leaders and Leadership Workshop

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:51 am

Two postitive moves at work.
(1) On 7/15/2010, one of my colleagues left for another company. I think she has lots of guts in taking this step. Changes often involve risks, uncertainty and the unknown. Most people, even if they are not happy with their status quo, would not venture into a new territory and meet the challenge by leaving the old familiar workplace. To me, she is more courageous than most of the colleagues that I see around me.

(2) On 7/20, during one of the leadership workshops, I had a nice chat with the organizer of these workshops. It is amazing to see how she has grown and developed all
these years from an unhappy receptionist to the current management position. Quietly she went to college after work to earn both bachelor and master degrees and moving up and up. Two features I find that distinguishes her from the rest of the herd are: 1) no small talk even if she is among the ordinary folks 2) tenaciously goal-oriented.

People at leadership workshop talk about company’s annual survey with disbelief. When I mentioned that these surveys were annonymous, a colleague said, “Really!” with a rather cynical tone. Some of them don’t come out with what they truly believe for fear of negative percussion. Imagine what it says about the culture of the company.

1, Jul 24, 2010

Don’t Disregard Study Environment

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:53 am

My daughter’s summer school schedule goes from 7 AM to 12 noon. During the first session, she returned home right after school and didn’t start doing homework until late in the evening. During the second session, her brother suggested that she go to the library right after school and try to get all homework done there. It helps her to focus on her work. It is also good to be away from refrigerator and other type of junk food.

It has been two weeks since she started going to the main library. Yesterday, on the way home, I asked her if she got more things done at library than at home. “Oh yea,” she quickly replied.

This reinforces the idea that I had before, that is, the environment and the atmosphere are the factor that parents should consider if they intend to develop a good study habit in their children.

1, Jul 23, 2010

Don’t Shortchange Your Children By Depriving them of Being Bilingual

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:14 am

While I was walking early on the morning of 6/27, I was listening to a book on confronting business reality. When the book hit the topic of outsourcing to China, I thought of some incidents related to Chinese language.

First, I learned of a Chinese parent talking about making his children learn Chinese. “They are going to work here in U.S. Unless they will work as Chinese interpreters, what’s the use of learning Chinese?” This is the first time I hear of such an excuse of not bringing bilingual kids in a Chinese family here in U.S. I have seen cases where Chinese parents painfully struggle to communicate with their adolescent kids in English, being shamefully looked down upon by the children whose only means of communication in their Chinese family is English. The children have every reason to shame their parents, because the parents’ English is so embarrassingly outlandish, after having stayed in the country for so many years.

Second, I heard some internet software companies started turning to China for outsourcing their developer job. It would be a big help if the company can communicate with the Chinese developers in Chinese. In other words, Chinese are gradually becoming both partners and colleagues of the American companies. How can one say knowing Chinese is not relevant to one’s job. You can say the same thing to people working at any fast food restaurant in KC but cannot speak Spanish because most of his colleagues speak Spanish.

Finally, language is an instrument. The more instruments that we have mastered, the better positioned we are in facing the global challenge. It is especially attractive when children can master this instrument effortlessly by simply growing up in this language environment.

I deem it a waste of resource, an opportunity lost and even an unfair shortchange to the children if their Chinese parents fail to bring up bilingual children. Alas, by the end of the day, it takes some wisdom to be a good parent.

1, Jul 22, 2010

We Like to Cheat Ourselves with Streetlight

Filed under: Human nature — admin @ 12:41 am

On 6/26, I shared with my daughter this famous streetlight story.

Late at night, a police officer finds a drunk man crawling around on his hands and knees under a streetlight. The man tells the police officer that he is looking for his wallet and he has been looking for it for a long time. The office also helps him look for it.

When the officer asks if the drunk man is sure this is the place where he loses his wallet, he says he has dropped it when he was crossing the street over there. “Then why are you looking for it here instead of over there?” puzzled officer asked. “Because the light is better here,” was the drunk man’s answer.

My daughter couldn’t help laughing at the story. Isn’t it true that we sometimes act like this drunk man, in that, knowing that’s not where the answer is, we still go ahead putting efforts into it? We tend to turn to places where light is better instead of where the truth lies. In so doing, we actually cheat ourselves by knowingly chasing something of no relevance, just because it is either easy or fun. Here’s something to think about while we laugh at this drunk man.

1, Jul 21, 2010

Leaderships — Four Different Styles

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 1:17 am

I am pretty sure I have written about leadership styles before, still I found it helpful to re-visit these styles for parents and for those who want to excel at work. I am not sure which style works best for parents, but I know children resent greatly against authoritative parenting style. By the way, parents are leaders, too. Here are four leadership styles.

(1) Authoritative style
An authoritative leader is one who exerts his authority and expects obedience. He is the parental figure. If you do what he says when he says it, you will be rewarded. If you oppose his authority, you will be punished. This type of leadership is becoming archaic, though still in existence. Most people won’t tolerate being treated like children.
–An authoritative leader never consult others before making the decision
–He does not listen to other people’s ideas when he presents his decision
–He expected immediate compliance and becomes irritated when someone questions his authority.

(2) Receptive style
A leader who has a receptive style has authority but chooses to discuss ideas and plans with his team before making final call. She practices active listening, and proactive leadership

(3) Independent style
An independent leader promotes independence among his employees. He allows them a large amount of autonomy and reduces his own role to that of an assistant. That is, he helps group members by making information more accessible, and he acts as the go-between for the rest of the organization. In essence, he is the point man. This style allows group members to focus on delivering a quality product in a timely manner. The independent leader has authority but prefers to exercise it as little as possible.

(4) Flexible style
When you have to change your style depending on the project circumstances or each group member’s ability to do the job, you should use the flexible style. That is, go with the flow.

Flexible leaders use a variety of techniques to get the best results for the customers and for each team member. You might need to coach one person, train someone else, let go of another, or give explicit instructions to a different person.

Personally, I prefer flexible style, but then this seems the most challenging one of all. On the other end, authoritative style is the easiest of all, both for leaders and parents.

1, Jul 20, 2010

An Unforgettable Conversation with a Nurse at Work

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:10 am

There is a nurse at our infusion room. For some unknown reason, she came to our office and initiated a conversation with me a few weeks ago.

“Is your son married?” she asked.
“No, he is only 21,” was my answer.
“People get married at that age. Where does he work?” was her next question.
“He is not working,” I was getting a bit annoyed at her question.
“What is he doing? Just stay home?” she further asked, getting more and more stupid.
“No. He goes to college,” said I.
“Oh.” she seemed to be surprised over my answer.

To her, going to college doesn’t seem an option for a 21-year-old. Isn’t that amazing!
“Did you ever work with a Chinese before?” I asked her.
“No,” came her answer.

No wonder she brought up so many not-wise questions. I have never met a Chinese here whose children do not go to college. Meanwhile, many Americans at our clinic only have an associate degree, not even a bachelor. Their children are no better than this. Now I should not be surprised to confront questions like the above. Still, I am not comfortable with the assumption behind her questions.

1, Jul 19, 2010

Parents Must Make Time for their Children

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:36 am

Last Thursday and Wednesday, 7/14-15, we had a monitor from California. She is really one of a kind, very unique and interesting. During our chatting, she asked me if she should adopt a baby from Haiti. “I got to do something with my life,” she said. “Well, you travel so much that you don’t have time for your baby. What’s the use of having children if you don’t have time for them?” I reminded her.

After she left, I kept thinking of my childhood and my children’s. One of the differences between the two is the amount of time that parents spend with the children. When I was a small child, both of my parents were very busy, either out of town or staying in the office until after 10 in the evening. They seldom had time for us, chatting with us, sharing their life experiences and observations with us as I do with my children. That explains why I was such a late bloomer, easily falling prey to bad elements and being used like a ridiculous puppet during my younger days.

Now the gravity has been shifted from work to family and children. The other end of extreme seems to be the case with today’s parent-children interactions, that is, too much and omnipresence of parents in children’s life. I have no doubt that both sides can benefit greatly from this close parent-children interactions, though it’s never good to go to any end of extreme. To be sure, children need their parents for all stages of their development. Nothing can take the place of real life experience. Be there for your little ones when they need you, even if it means postponing whatever you have on your plate. You won’t regret if you do.

1, Jul 18, 2010

Learn to Appreciate Truth, Kindness, and Beauty in Books

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:13 am

On 6/23/2010, my daughter was reading a novel for school. While talking to her about this book, I mentioned to her To Kill a Mockingbird. Most children of her age do not enjoy reading To Kill a Mockingbird. They gravitate toward books like Twilight.

I told my daughter it was high time that she appreciated the true beauty found in the books she reads. “The main character, Atticus, embodies so many fine qualities. Don’t you see beauty in all this? Beauty is not appearance. True beauty is found in people like Atticus.” said I.

Atticus exemplified kindness, compassion, and forgiveness when he makes an effort to be polite and kind to Mr. Dubose even though Dubose has not been nice to him and his children. He stands by what he believes and shows great courage when he stays at the jailhouse to protect Tom Robinson, the wrongly accused black man, from the white mob attack, even though he knows the danger and risk involved.

He uses Mrs. Dubose as an example of true courage to show his children that courage does not mean a man with a gun. Courage means you fight for what you believe is right, whether or not you will win in the end. What a great father!

Remember the song performed by Teng Lijun– “The story of the small town?” It includes all the truth, kindness, and beauty valued in life. I hope my children can reach a deeper appreciation of what people value in life.

P.S. I realize I sound so old-fashioned, like someone from your history book.

1, Jul 17, 2010

A Depressing Way to Start Life After College

Filed under: College — admin @ 12:22 am

I read an article on 6/1, by Ron Lieber, provided by The New York Times. “…a 26-year-old graduate of New York University, has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and affording the full monthly payments would be a struggle. For much of the time since her 2005 graduation, she’s been enrolled in night school, which allows her to defer loan payments… This is not a long-term solution, because the interest on the loans continues to pile up.”

It is so dreadfully depressing to start life with such a heavy financial burden. There are many cases like this. I don’t have the heart to spit out further unkind words toward those already unfortunate people. Still, I see this the result of ill-advice and unwise decision on part of both parents and the children.

First of all, always keep in mind this hard truth: education is an investment in money and time. You don’t invest heavily in anything that does not promise greater return. It is tantamount to nothing but high degree of stupidity if you think of college education as years of merry-go-round free spending partying life.

Secondly, don’t take on the attitude of borrow-and-spend now and let devil take care of the bills later. Don’t borrow in the first place, if you can help. If you have to, borrow as less as you can even if it means you have to tighten your belt and forsake new dresses and other forms of luxury. It is called delay gratification and not putting on the airs on borrowed money.

Third, work and study while you are in college. It enriches not just your purse, but also your work experience, so that you are ready to jump on some employment right after college.

Fourth, boost up your grade and apply for scholarship whenever there is a possibility. There are all sorts of scholarships. You just have to exhaust your search for it if you believe you are qualified.

There are always ways for you to get out of trouble. You have to rake your brain to come up with some solutions. Going into deep debt should always be the last desperate resort. You go there only if you are sure you can get a big fat salary to take good care of it after college.

1, Jul 16, 2010

Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence and Your Chance of Success

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:06 am

This is part of the leadership workshop that I attended from workplace. I can’t agreed more with what I have learned regarding the significance of emotional intelligence. Here are the notes from the lesson.

For many years, people have believed that your IQ determines your destiny. Not so according to a new behavioral research. The research shows that IQ provides, at best, a narrow view of human intelligence. Factors such as self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, zeal, self-motivation, empathy, and social deftness contribute greatly to an individual’s success. These qualities, termed “emotional intelligence,” often determine if people excel in life, relationships, and the workplace.

In nearly all cases, emotional intelligence determines a person’s up and down in life as EI contributes to an individual’s ability to self-motivate, self-control, and self-discipline, the key elements to success. This explains why some people with high IQ remain all their lives trapped at the bottom of the social ladder because they suffer from low EI.

Emotional Intelligence plays a significant role in impulse control and ability to delay gratification. Emotions override logic in highly emotional moments. Realizing the key role played by EI, parents with every good intentions now know not to ignore the development of a high emotional intelligence in their children.

Have a wonderful Friday.

1, Jul 15, 2010

Don’t Dwell on the Past

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:00 am

On 7/4, a Sunday, I touched on the topic of writing life stories and I asked my mom to write about her past. Last weekend, when I checked with her about her writing, I found out, well, it was not a good idea. Instead of bringing her happy memories, it left her feeling sad when she thought about the past with six of us in the house; now she lives by herself. “I don’t want to write about the past. I want to learn something new,” she said.

She is right. I have to admit that it is not advisable to dwell upon one’s past when one is near 80 years old and home alone. It can leave one feeling lonely, depressed, and wishing for days that are long gone.

Last Sunday, on the way back home from skating, my daughter asked for a kind of therapeutic oil. Since she just bought one not long ago, I told her if I bought this for her, it would be the last till the end of the year. She agreed with the term, so we went.

Also last Sunday, when I talked to my daughter about the flowers that I gathered for her grandfather, she asked, “Mom, you realize it’s fake,right?” I shared this with a friend of mine. He came back with these words — so true — “tk time for kids to know, there are flowers in our hearts that last longer and smell better than those you can see and touch…”

1, Jul 14, 2010

Tragedy Arising from Therapeutic Misconception About Clinical Trials

Filed under: Clinical Research — admin @ 12:15 am

The 36-year-old Jolee Mohr, mother of a 5-year-old, was a rheumatoid arthritis patient. She was otherwise young and healthy at the time of her death in 2007. She died three weeks after her participation in a clinical trial with trillions of genetically engineered viruses to ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

To say she died of this clinical trial is like blaming others for our failure. I would rather say two major factors are equally responsible: 1) the therapeutic misconception about clinical trials, that is, the belief that the trial will help her get better without fully understanding that it was only a Phase I study designed to assess toxicity; 2) patient’s failure to read important documents and the risk factors before signing.

When her doctor, Dr. Robert Trapp of the Arthritis Center in Springfield, Illinois told her about the gene therapy study, she had faith in her doctor of seven years. “You trust your physician. He’s your doctor. You trust him like you do your minister,” her husband said. It is your life and you should trust no one but your own research and instinct.

Even worse is the fact that Jolee Mohr signed a 15-page informed consent form (ICF) most probably without reading it and knowing all the risks involved. As her husband put it, “Knowing her, she probably didn’t read through it.”

The ICF warns subjects of “some scary possibilities” of the study. It said that the genetically altered viruses in the study — called tgAAC94 “could spread to other parts of your body. The risks of this are not known at this time… We have seen this type of spread in animal studies when tgAAC94 has been given by injection into the joint,” the form said.

More scary facts include — altered viruses can “damage the DNA in the cells of your body by inserting itself into your genes,” it went on. “If this happens, it could put you at risk for developing cancer in the future.”

And on page 9, it is clearly written that unknown side effects could result in “pain, discomfort, disability or, in rare circumstances, death.”

This informed consent form is an extremely important legal document. By signing on it, you agree to take full responsibility for whatever consequences it forewarns you and thus relieves any duty or responsibility of the other party in case something unexpected happens.

This “rare circumstance” in the form of the tragic death of a young mother is posted here, hoping readers can be wiser than Mohr when they face a similar situation.

1, Jul 13, 2010

Shattering the Myth of Trust, Taking Care of Ourselves (6)

Filed under: Medical Accident — admin @ 12:05 am

As I have been kept being shocked by what I read about medical accidents from this book, I feel compelled to share these with my readers so that patients will know they need to take extra care of themselves when they are with their doctors. After all, to err is human and we don’t want this kind of error made on us.

This chapter focuses on wrong limb. pp. 121-125. It happened on Feb 20, 1995 when Dr. Rolando R. Sanchez, a Tampa, Florida surgeon, amputated the wrong leg of a 52-year-old patient name Willie King.

King had suffered for years from diabetes. As the result, the nerves in his legs were beginning to deteriorate, so severe was his problem that on 2/17/1995 he agreed to amputate his right leg below the knee, a below the knee amputation (BKA), a common procedure for advanced diabetics.

The computer schedule printout had it “patient Willie King — a left BKA.” The heads-up floor nurse spotted the mistake and called the operating room. The nurse receiving the call made a hand-correction on the printout without correcting the error in the system. Hence further printout showed no correction at all.

The surgeon saw the original printout, was mentally prepared to cut off one leg, without further checking which leg that needed to go. Here he went and the patient’s left leg was gone.

We have to remember this wrong-limb chopoff horror so that we will do the check and remember to remind the doctor which one need work before anesthesia knocks us down.

1, Jul 12, 2010

Shattering the Myth of Trust, Taking Care of Ourselves (5)

Filed under: Medical Accident — admin @ 12:53 am

This is again from reading Internal Bleeding: The Truth Behind America’s Terrifying Epidemic of Medical Mistakes, by Robert Wacher and Kaveh Shojania. When I read the chapter “Did we forget something?” I found myself an utterly disbeliever over the description of a medical accident happened in mid 2002 — a retractor, 12 x 2 inches in dimension, left in patient’s abdomen after a surgery at Regina General Hospital. p. 135.

Then I went online to confirm the story. When I searched “retractor left in patient’s abdomen,” about 495,000 results came back in 0.38 seconds. Headed the list is “UPMC Patient Finds Retractor In Abdomen Month After Surgery –” This happened in 2008. “CT Scan Finds Device Inside Patient After Surgery,” reported by Marty Griffin, Feb 11, 2008 6:58 pm US/Eastern, Pittsburgh (KDKA) ― A CT scan taken of 57-year-old Daryoush Mazarei a month after his surgery showed a metal surgical retractor in his lower abdomen — a medical mistake even doctors call bizarre. A retractor is a 10-inch pair of tweezers used to pull back skin or hold something in place. The surgeon is supposed to hold onto it the entire time it’s in use.

As I continued with the reading, I realized “leaving a sponge or tool behind” inside the patients’ body happen more frequently than I used to think, making me wondering if patients have to take an x-ray to confirm nothing has been left behind after a surgery. How else can patients protect themselves against this kind of medical mistakes?

1, Jul 11, 2010

To a Wonderful Father, With Love

Filed under: Father — admin @ 12:28 am

A few days ago, I searched around trying to find a flower for my father. I know he loved flowering plants but I never had a chance to find out his favorite ones. July 11 of 1987 saw his early departure from this life. 23 years later, as I try to honor the memory of him by writing about his life, I realize once again how little I actually know of his life stories, his childhood living with his stepfather, his experience in the army, years in Korea, his journey from a remote country village to the capital of the country.

I knew my grandmother was an old-fashioned village teacher. She not only gave her son his elementary education but also inspired him to fly high. But again, much as I want to know the person who had once exerted tremendous influence on my father, this person remained as unknown to me as any stranger on the street.

Winston Churchill liked to wonder about the future, always asking what would happen next, in one year or 5 years, etc. During his senior years, he realized that he had had a very eventful life and there must be many people who would write about him after he passed away. “Instead of having others write about me, I am going to write about myself.” And there he was, out with three volumes of memoirs and much more, setting the fact straight for all who later attempted to write about his life.

I wish my father had left some writing so that we had a chance to get to know him. I wish he could see the flowers that I have gathered for him here.

1, Jul 10, 2010

Parents Permissiveness and Children Defiance Do Not Develop Overnight

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:48 am

I have personally observed many cases where parents talk and beg while children ignore and defy as if the authority were on the side of the children. To be sure, children defiance can make parenting a rather harrying and even devastating experience instead of what should be a rewarding and joyful one.

I would not blame children for being too recalcitrant. A child is never born this unruly. Like all habits, it takes some time, some try-and-error and even parents’ cooperation for this type of interaction to take form. I realize it is easy to say than to actually do it. Still, parents need to put into actions certain rules in order to hinder the development of any unpleasant defiant behavior.

(1) If you ask a child three times to do one thing. STOP yourself. Set a rule. Ask once next time.
(2) Never ever tolerate any disrespect from your child. If you catch it once, set it right loud and clear.
(3) Never raise your voice. If you cannot control yourself, forget any attempt at controlling your child.
(4) Never take any negative, conflict-ridden attitude.
(5) Finally, if you are genuinely at loss, turn to your child for help. Ask him/her what he/she would do if this or that happens. Trust me they are like freshman congressman, full of ideas and opinions.

If anything, parenting, first and foremost, means self-discipline.

1, Jul 9, 2010

The Risk of Nursing Career

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:24 am

On July 8, 2010, I read with a shudder an article on rising violence against nurses in the U.S. This is the first time both my daughter and I read news on this topic. Needlessly to say, we were more than shocked going through case after case of violence in healthcare. “A 2009 workplace violence survey found that nearly half of all non-fatal assaults in the United States were caused by health care patients.” “According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 500,000 nurses are victims of violent crimes each year; they are commonly subjected to being spit on, kicked, punched, and threatened.”

Rita Anderson, a 115-pound woman in her early 50s, an assistant manager of a New York hospital, was helping a 16-year-old, 300-pound female patient to use a bed pan. When she leaned over to lower the rails, “out of nowhere came a blinding punch to Anderson’s jaw,” breaking her jaw. Later, the girl said, “I’m sorry, but I was just tired of waiting.” Tired of waiting? Breaking the nurse’s jaw? It took Anderson 8 weeks to recover and eight week of lost work days.

Pontus recalls an instance when a nurse was walking by a patient’s room, who was calling for help with his urinal pan. As the nurse went to help him, “he smashed the pan on her head.” In another case, a nurse wastreating a patient who had just awoken from surgery, “the patient bit the nurse’s hand so hard the ligament was torn off the bone.”

Nurses working at the ER and the psychiatric units are the most unfortunate ones of all. Very often police who find people under the influence of drugs or alcohol drop them off at the ER. This is called “dump syndrome” which involves more than normal dose of violence. The increase in severity and frequency of violence is directly related to the growing number of police ER dumpings.

Here are some figures:
59% of health care worker injuries from 1995 to 2004 were caused by patients.
48% of all non-fatal assaults in the U.S are caused by patients
50% of Massachusetts nurses have been at least punched within the last two years
72% of ER nurses reported feeling unsafe in their workplace

I would expect 100% of ER nurses feeling unsafe. As many hospitals face the severe situation of nurse shortage, it is very likely that patients have to wait longer and act out their impatience violently. This is something to factor in when you consider jumping into the lofty career of saving lives.

P.S. on 7/5/2010, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed a law that will stiffen the penalties for those who assault nurses and other health care workers. The vote follows unanimous votes to approve the measure in both houses of the legislature.

1, Jul 8, 2010

Volunteer, Unemployment and Philanthropist

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:48 am

This is a report on on 6/15/2010, “1.6 million more Americans volunteered in 2009,” by ANN SANNER. “Americans spent 100 million more hours helping their communities last year, a new federal report says, and the number of people getting involved went up by 1.6 million to 63.4 million.”

You would think it is because of high unemployment rate of the nation, as if unemployment naturally leads to high volunteer activity. When people are out of job, they have plenty of time on hand and are in the position to help. But the finding runs against this assumption — “lower volunteer rates in states with high rates of unemployment and in cities with high rates of foreclosures.”

How do we explain this finding? My understanding is when you go out volunteering either your service or your time, you not only need time for it, but also need to be in the mood for such lofty-spirit activity. I would not think anyone in the mood for volunteer when he/she is consumed with worries and anxieties over job, childcare, housing or simply putting food on the table.

Realistically speaking, no philanthropist can afford any good-hearted charity work on empty stomach. In other word, you have to pad your own pocket and tummy, and put yourself in the mood before you see yourself a happy volunteer and a philanthropist, going out lifting up the spirits of your fellow human beings. For my children who have always been eager to help those in need, equip yourself with skills and resources first.

1, Jul 7, 2010

The House Once Full of Joy and Laughter

Filed under: Son — admin @ 12:50 am

It was a short and sweet three-day visit when my son came back for the 4th of July weekend. As always, I am so happy having him back home, happy to notice he has become more mature, yet still has this boyish feature around him, jumping and hopping like those days in Ohio.

When he was in high school, he was busy and seldom helped around the house. Now it gave me so much pleasure seeing him pitch in after each meal or clean up after him. Such a delightful change!

Around the house, nothing brought more laughter than this heavenly joy, the fun and the interactions between brother and sister and the genuine brotherly love and care he showered upon his sister.

Yesterday morning, around 5:20 AM, the whole family drove to the airport to see him off. Back we came and there he headed for Texas. Back home, seeing a magazine that he forgot to take with him, a feeling of quiet sadness inevitably crept in. I kept telling my daughter and myself, “Your brother goes there for a purpose, whatever that is, and we stay here for a purpose, too,” as if it would make us feel better.

Sometimes, as with thousands of Chinese who have made their way across the Pacific ocean to the States, separation is a painful necessity and always for a good cause.

1, Jul 6, 2010

A 8-Year-Old Girl Strangled by A 28-Year-Old Murderess

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:36 am

The 8-year-old Sandra Cantu vanished on March 27, 2009 after a surveillance video caught her skipping down the street near the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park. Her body was found 10 days later in a suitcase by farm workers draining a pond about two miles from her home.

Every time I read news like this, I thought of some hideous male criminal. I used to believe little ones are always safe in the loving hands of a female. Children are especially safe with kind-hearted church folks. Call this prejudice. This time I was aghast and speechless when I learned that this lovely little girl was raped and murdered by a 28-year-old woman, a Sunday school teacher at her pastor-grandfather Clover Baptist Church not far from San Francisco.

When you see this 8-year-old angelic creature, your heart is filled with nothing but love and the desire to protect this tender life. You would never imagine a woman could have taken away this precious little one in such a gruesome manner? What is going on with these crazy people? The perversity of this horrifying crime defies any human comprehension.

Now I have to pronounce this realization — your little ones are not even safe with a female, not even an association of some denomination.

1, Jul 5, 2010

The Near Desperate Economic Depression Everywhere

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 12:55 am

I found this article last Friday, 7/2/2010, by Chris Isidore, “The recession killed off 7.9 million jobs. It’s increasingly likely that many will never come back.”

The article cites the government jobs report issued that day, “The job losses during the Great Recession were so off the chart, that even though we’ve gained about 600,000 private sector jobs back, we’ve got nearly 8 million jobs to go,” said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of Economic Cycle Research Institute.

Even worse is the prediction that “We’ve entered a era where the United States will see more frequent recessions than anyone is used to,” Achuthan said.

The article reminds me of two Chinese college graduates here. Neither of them were fortunate enough to land on a job they desired. One of them went on to graduate school, the other went back to China to learn Chinese and hopefully will find a job in China. This brought to my mind the young relative who returned to China exactly two months ago and is still home waiting for a job.

The message is loud and clear to all of us —unless, you excel in your field, nowadays, job perspective is depressing, no matter where you find yourself.

By the way, I went through some of my early postings yesterday. It is almost embarrassing to visit these entries. I must have tortured readers miserably with those lengthy writings.

1, Jul 4, 2010

Write Our Life Stories Before They Become History

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:41 am

During one of my daily chats with my mom last month, I told her to start writing. “Just a little bit everyday, or whenever you want to write, anything from your childhood, youthful years, the army life, my father’s life stories, or stories from our childhood, or your observations today. Don’t force yourself and don’t make it a job as if you have to write. Write when you feel like.”

I told my mom she wrote for us just as I was writing daily for my children. “You would think that they read it, right?” asked my mom.

Of course, I am motivated by the thought that someday my children will come back to these writings. Yet, on a deeper level, I write because I have something to say, because I am writing about my life’s experience and I value whatever I have experienced. It is my life story, my living history. If I don’t value my life, how can I expect my children to do the same?
On 7/1, while at work, a friend of mine called. We talked about writing again. I encourage my dear friends to write any time they feel like. Their memories and experiences are like antiques or any collectibles, gaining value as time goes by. As a matter of fact, they are the best collections for our children.

Remember: write before you forget. Write before we become history.
By the way, happy fourth of July! We have one day off because of this.

1, Jul 3, 2010

Teaching More Than the Language to Chinese Children

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:34 am

On May 8, a beautiful Saturday, we went to a friend’s house for a dinner gathering. As usual, we parents were chatting over dinner table while the kids had their fun upstairs.

One topic that struck me as very interesting, that is, teaching Chinese to the next generation and enhancing parent-children relationship.

Many Chinese parents, in an attempt to assimilate their children into mainstream American culture, insist on English-only environment at their Chinese homes and thus deprive the youngsters the opportunity to learn Chinese while they were young.

I learned of the wretched experience of a Chinese father. He is one of those unwise parents, engaging in nothing but English with his daughter when the girl was little. Now his teenager daughter turns away from him because she cannot speak Chinese and his English sounds too outlandish, rudimentary and outrightly embarrassing to her. The combination of generation gap and cultural gap tears the two apart to an irreparable point. Now vainly the sad old dad cries over spilled water. It is not funny to witness the scene.

Their first home provides the only Chinese language environment for these ABC children. With a large part of their waking hours being exposed to English environment, the Chinese parents really don’t have much chance of raising bilingual second generation ABCs.

Here’s the key to keep in mind — if Chinese parents do not go out of way to teach Chinese to their youngsters, they not only deprive the kids of the chance of being bilingual but also run the risk of alienating themselves from their English-speaking children. Remember it is no use to cry over spilled water.

1, Jul 2, 2010

Mao Zedong: A Reality Check 1

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:03 am

Positive view on Mao Zedong
Yesterday was the birthday of Chinese Communist Party.
My children have asked me about Mao Zedong as they have heard many exceptionally bad things about him. If he were so bad, why were there so many songs dedicated to him? I told them to read for themselves and reach a conclusion from their own readings, as opposed to listening to what others have said.

I myself have read a lot about Mao. On the positive side, I agree with an article sent by a friend. That is, those who still cherish a dear memory of Mao believe that Mao had a genuine love for his people. This reminds me of the outstanding individuals in the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s, — the “I have a Dream” speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rose Park, those who bravely fought for de-segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. All these ordinary people helped to move forward American society, which vividly exemplified what Mao once said, people and people alone are the true force behind the advance of human history.

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