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

1, Oct 31, 2010

Find Your Intangible Assets IV

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:04 am

When I made some origamis for the children of some co-workers, I heard comments like this, “You are so talented. I can never make this,” etc. One doctor expressed the wish to learn. This is really no big deal for us adults, but it could provide some opportunities for children.

First, I remember when my son taught origamis at an elementary school’s kid’s club, about 7 years ago, and the seriousness on his adolescent face. With some fun skill like this, you have the opportunity to learn leadership skill at the little kid’s level or to render community service with senior citizens at some nursing home.

After learning how to make some origamis, a neighboring elementary school girl sold them among her classmates, one dollar each, earning up to $50, before she was stopped by her parents. I don’t see anything wrong with her activities. In fact, kids should be encouraged to earn with their skills and labor. They will feel proud and appreciate the money they honestly earn, much more so than if get them free from their parents. In the process of this, they will learn something valuable that no money can buy.

For adults, my origami has helped defeat the attack of afternoon drowsiness, and extended some good feelings, and much more.

1, Oct 30, 2010

The Qualities of a Leader: An Example

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:49 am

On 9/23/2010, during our monthly meeting, we invited the pharmacy manager of the company to give us a talk on chemo drugs. I knew who she was before but I had been wondering, young as she looks, at most early 30s, how she became pharmacy manager of our company. I am sure there are other pharmacy PhD holders with more experience than she is. What distinguishes her from the other pharmacy folks?

That day my question was answered. She is not just knowledgeable in her field. Much more than this, she impresses me as someone whose mind is far above daily pharmacy activities. She overviews the drug development history, sees the big picture, pattern of research, and the trend of future development.

What I see is the quality of a leader in her that goes above and beyond her knowledge of chemo drugs. This proves once more that it doesn’t matter which field a person is engaged and no matter how young she is, she can be a leader as long as she possesses the right qualities.

I shared my thought with my daughter after that.

1, Oct 29, 2010

Enjoy the Colors of the Autumn

Filed under: Nature — admin @ 12:10 am

Yesterday, 10/28/2010, after we got off the department meeting, as I turned onto Wornall Street, my eyes were pleasantly greeted by a large red splash glowing like fire under the blue sunny sky. As I drove closely, I began to appreciate the red color of the autumn leaves, next to it were the yellow ones.

I was tempted to pulled the car by the side and walked down the road just to enjoy the breath-taking beauty of Mother Nature. Life suddenly appears unbelievably beautiful. I wish I could capture the colors of the autumn. For now, I wish I had more time walking down the road to absorb it while they are here.

After I drove back to my office, I kept having these patches of colors in my mind. Then I decided to search for some nice colorful pictures of the autumn. The returns were overwhelmingly beautiful, but no single one image can do justice to the immense beauty I just witnessed. Hence, I have made my own collection and share with readers here.

My son called when he was at the airport, ready to depart for western coast for a job interview. The company will give them a welcome dinner in the evening. The interview will take place tomorrow morning. I wish him good luck.

1, Oct 28, 2010

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflict VI: Aggression vs Assertive Confrontation

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:03 am

During the workshop, we talked about the difference between aggression and assertive confrontation. People tend to associate confrontation with aggression, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It is much easier to be assertive if you confront a situation the first time you realize there is a problem and deal with it tactically.

If you fail to be assertive and avoid conflict by putting it off, the problem will never go away by itself. On the contrary, you run the risk of making it worse. The longer the situation continues, the more anger and frustration builds up inside you. Finally, you let it go, and direct that anger towards the other person.

To make sure that your communication remains assertive, be certain that you present facts as facts, feelings as feelings, and opinions as opinions. Don’t mix them up. Confronting a situation right away also reduces the temptation to refer back to previous incidents, which tends to shift the focus from prevention of a future occurrence to finding out exactly what happened in the past.

In one word, be assertive and timely so when you have to be this way and never let anger and frustration build up and eat you up. This applies to all sorts of conflicts.

P.S. I started working on two locations since this Monday, SW and SMMC. When I went back to SW, old friends greeted me with so much enthusiasm, which made me embarrassed as I could hardly remember their names.

1, Oct 27, 2010

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflict V

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:41 am

We learned from the workshop that sometime it is better to confront the person than to avoid her. We can stop some type of conflict from escalating through constructive confrontation.

Constructive confrontation can be a real challenge, but when it is done correctly, it prevents tension and minimizes defensiveness. There are three key elements to a successful constructive confrontation.

(1) Assertive: support your confrontation with clear, direct communication that isn’t blaming or condemning. Assertive communication describes your reaction to the behavior, and doesn’t make judgments about the person or the motives behind the confrontation.

(2) Current: confront unacceptable behavior when it happens. If that’s not possible, you can still confront the person shortly afterwards, but it is unacceptable to bring up incidents long after they’ve occurred. Referring to misdemeanors that happened a long time ago increases the possibility of conflict because both parties are more concerned about proving what really happened.

(3) Specific: when you confront unacceptable behavior, you need to be specific about what needs to change, or what you want to happen in the future. The other person should know exactly what is expected of him, and your words should not be ambiguous or open to individual interpretation.

Keep in mind these these elements when you have to confront someone with some unpleasant issues.

1, Oct 26, 2010

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflict IV

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:14 am

One of the ways of dealing with conflict that we learned is avoidance. This is part of the workshop that I had on 9/21/2010. I had not planned to write on this topic before, but something happened on that evening that made up my mind. Because I want my children to be free from this mode of behavior.

Life is full of conflicts and unpleasant encounters of diverse forms. You have to pick your fight, the one that is worth putting effort or running the risk of creating ill feelings. It would be an extreme waste of time and energy to split hairs over insignificant issues.

A typical example of splitting hairs.
“You did it. I remember it.” A said, over a very trifle matter.
“No, I have never done it. You remember it wrong,” B insisted and came up with some explanation.
“Yes, I remember clearly you did it the other day.” A raised the voice.
“OK, it’s so trivial. I don’t want to argue about it any more,” B gave up in disgust.
“I am not arguing with you. I just want to find out the truth. And the truth is you are wrong. You have done it.” A returned.
“Does it matter that much that I am wrong and you are right over this trivial? OK, you are right and I am wrong. I don’t care whatever and I don’t want to say anything anymore.” B’s last word on this.
“Yes, it does matter and you are wrong, whether or not you care. You have to admit you have done it…” A continued endlessly because A desperately wants two things (1) B is wrong (2) A must have the last word, as if that were the most important thing in A’s life.

This is the type of conflict that we should avoid at any cost.

1, Oct 25, 2010

Summer Schedule of 2005

Filed under: Son — admin @ 12:40 am

Yesterday, 10/24/2010, while I was searching for last year’s tax return forms, I dug out a paper in a frame written by my son on 5/25/2005, his summer schedule for that year. I don’t remember under what circumstances that he wrote it, but I do remember he did not follow it through exactly as he wrote. Well, it is better to have written it than otherwise. Before it gets lost, I record it here. At least, it shows us how some American children have their summer break.

6:30 AM — Wake up, eat
7:00 — Summer School (5 hr)
12:30 PM – Eat lunch
1:00 — Nap (1 hr)
2:00 — EPGY work (2:30 hr)
4:30 — Exercise (15 min.)
4:45 — Reading & SAT improvement (writing)
6:00 — Dinner
6:20 — Piano (30 min.)
6:50 — Research (70 min.)
8:00 — Swimming/Running/Shower (1 hr)
9:15 — Chinese (15 min.)
9:30 — Go to bed

1, Oct 24, 2010

Women, Shopping, Holiday Mart at Convention Center

Filed under: Women — admin @ 12:44 am

Last Friday, 10/22, was an eventful day for some people at least. The president of our practice made an important announcement throughout the whole practice at six or seven locations at the same time via teleconference at 7:30 AM, the first of its kind since its inception. As one doctor commented, “Sounds like the aliens are going to attack us.”

Last Friday evening, as my daughter and I drove past Overland Park Convention Center (OPCC) on our way to Whole Foods to get a pizza, we noticed the parking lot of OPCC was fully jammed and the additional event parking lot was jammed, too. “Look like the whole town has come over here,” my daughter commented. “There must be some fairs with tons of freebies tossing the air,” I said.

We went ahead getting our pizza, back home, had our dinner. Then we walked down to OPCC, since it is within walking distance from our house. It turned out to be the sale of holiday-mart, selling holiday season stuffs, whatever that is.

Instead of freebies everywhere, you have to pay for an entry ticket even to get into the mart. They were so many people there, making me wondering if we were back to the old economic expansion days.

As we were leaving OPCC, my daughter commented, “It’s strange that of so many people here, you don’t see a single man.” Very much true, but why?

We brainstormed for an answer. I am certain there is no certain answer to this phenomenon, still we can draw some conclusions from this fact.

First, women enjoy holiday shopping and men don’t.
Second, women have time for this while men don’t. Probably not.
Third, women like spending money while men don’t. Maybe not so.
Fourth, this might be one of the reasons why women are low achievers in all fields, art, music, literature, science and technology.

I surely hope my daughter will not become one of those holiday shoppers. We got to have better things to do with our lives.

1, Oct 23, 2010

The Pathetic Case of Shopaholics

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:09 am

This is from reading on 9/18/2010 an article on shopaholics carried in Psychology Today. There are three types of shopaholics.

(1) Emotional shopaholics, “Shopping brings me out of a depressed mood,” said one of them.

(2) Bipolar shopaholics. When certain people with bipolar disorder hit a manic high, the first thing they think to do is shop. “When I was high, I couldn’t worry about money if I tried so I don’t…”

(3) Obsessive shopaholics. If you feel an urge to buy the same top in eight colors or to replace your coffee maker monthly because you keep finding “better” models, you may be an obsessive shopaholic. They must shop to feel that everything is OK.

When you reach to such a deplorable state, obviously something must be wrong with your life or with your feeble mind. Either you need to have a worthy goal to reach or a meaningful engagement to make you feel worthy and proud. I surely wish my children and my dear readers never fall this low.

1, Oct 22, 2010

Read to the Babies, as Early as You Care

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:24 am

This is from my reading of Psychology Today on 9/18/2010. There is an article reporting a research on the factors that contribute to the success of high schoolers. There are three findings.

(1) Word perfect. Babies raised among books obtain an average of three years more schooling than book-free children. That mean babies should be read to as early as possible.

(2) Boys chase girls. Boys score low in class that girls dominate. I don’t have convincing explanation on it. Probably, girls tend to bring out their best when they compete with other girls. And boys lack of the drive to compete with girls.

(3) Clique here. Seniors with more close pals have high GPAs. This is very much understandable when classmates serve as study buddies and help each other to reach their common goals — good grades.

1, Oct 21, 2010

Find Your Intangible Assets III

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:08 am

I should call this entry: Never underestimate the power of your hobby. Back in Ohio when I was at Bowling Green State University working on my Ph.D, I met this case in which a Chinese boy whose English and computer skill were not one of the best. Yet he got a good offer.

What happened was during the job interview, the hiring manager learned that this boy was good at Chinese martial art and he himself was a martial art lover. So they spent a large part of the interview talking about this subject and continued the conversation long after the boy got into the company.

I believed the boy’s hobby had played a key role here. Of course, someone might call this a matter of luck. Well, luck favors those who are prepared. I often mentioned this story to my children, hoping they would eventually learn something from this case.

1, Oct 20, 2010

When It Comes to Your Money, Always Check It Yourself

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 1:10 am

On 6/9/2010, I stopped by a local bank on my home way from work. Normally I don’t check the deposit or withdrawal slips against monthly bank statements, as I trust them to do the right thing all the time. Last month while I was cleaning my bag, digging out all the deposit slips, for the first time, I checked one deposit slip with the bank statement that I just received in mail that day.

To my surprise, I could not find on the statement one few-hundred-dollar deposit that I made on 4/16. I was intrigued and was determined to find out why. So here I was in front of a bank teller, asking him to help me see where this deposit should show up. While he was reading my statement and my deposit slip, his face turned red. I could sense there was something not right.

It turned out that the money that I deposited went to another person’s account, by accident as I was told. I will never know how that has happened. My mind was running fast through numerous deposits that I have made over the last decade and who knows how much money have gone to some unknown accounts this way, when you would think you can trust all bank people to do the right thing all the time. Even if it is a pure accident, the loss is on me and I have no idea how much I have lost over the years.

I can see my old habit of trusting people blindly is hurting me financially. I am not sure if it is a blind trust or I have been too lazy to do a check myself, cheating myself with the belief that I should trust these bank people. The moral lesson is when it comes your money, you cannot trust the bank or anyone without doing your own checking.

1, Oct 19, 2010

Work or Play: Which Should Be First?

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:43 am

In the morning of 8/15/2010, my daughter told me she would practice piano, then learned some French. I knew she would ask me for something. Next, she asked if she could hang out with her friend in Town Center in the afternoon. I gave her okay, though I was going to say something about the quality of her piano and French. I did not say anything because I thought she knew better than otherwise.

For some little kids, they rushed through their tasks and often do a shoddy job because they can’t wait to get to the next stage — play. I always think it a good idea to get their work done before anything else. But now, I think differently.

For those children who cannot concentrate on what they should do and who do their homework with their minds on some computer game or watching TV or something else, they are better off have their share of play or fun time first. After fun, shut it off and switch to work, with nothing to look forward to after serious work.

Work and play, which should be first? Parents should be flexible in making this decision. I know I would not automatically consider work first. I would give them choice. If they choose work first, I would demand quality job before fun starts.

1, Oct 18, 2010

A Great Life for an Armless Young Man

Filed under: Success — admin @ 12:08 am

When life-changing misfortunate hit you, what will you do next? Do you allow it to break you or rise above? Your character determines your attitude toward it. In the case of Liu Wei, the armless 23-year-old performer, his misfortunate only made him tougher than before.

It is his character, stronger than steel, that wins him the first prize in China’s Got Talent show, held in Shanghai Stadium in August 2010. His life story provides the best material for a moving movie.

Long after I watched his show via youtube, I feel having a lot to say but no word seems enough to express how his accomplishment has touched us, challenged us, and made us think over our lives, our potentials, and what could have been achieved if we were as diligent as this armless young man.

Sometimes, we have this or that excuse for not having reached the level we aim at or we have this or that complaint. At moment like this, let this young man be our model and believe that nothing is as insurmountable as we initially think.

1, Oct 17, 2010

How Many Chances Do We Have to Win It?

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:54 am

The same topic came back to me yesterday when I sent my daughter to a test center for a high school test. The first time I posted something similar is on 4/29/2010.

There are many tests that people have to take during their career preparation years — PSAT, SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, etc. I told my daughter, “Instead of thinking I can always retake the test if I have not done well, like singing the tomorrow song and waiting for endless tomorrows, keep in mind ren sheng neng you ji hui bo?.” That is, how many chances do we have to make it in this world?

The trick is if you believe there is always the next time and always a chance for you to make up, chances are mentally you allow yourself not to give your best shot because you know this is not your last and best one and consequently, you don’t try as hard as you should. With this attitude, you will have to suffer a few losses before you finally pass the required test or live with the not-so-perfect scores.

As a result, you suffer the loss of time and potentially more damage to your career as your options are dwindling with the passing of the time. It reminds me of something from the Art of War — soldiers will show their best if they are positioned in a desperate situation, like having no way out except fighting forward.

1, Oct 16, 2010

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflict

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:42 am

Now we know the two types of conflict and that we should avoid affective conflict by keeping emotion out of it. Here are four methods in creating an environment conducive to cognitive conflict and keeping conflict constructive.

(1) Empathy
Show empathy for the other people’s idea before you oppose it. Try to remain positive when others question your ideas, but don’t reciprocate the empathy. Remember that such questioning is a necessary part of the critical thinking process. e.g. I understand why you …. but

(2) Focus on the issue, not the person.
Be careful to avoid personal criticism, sarcasm, and blame, even if the other person does not do the same. Instead, communicate a willingness to understand, and stick to the problem being discussed.

(3) Focus on interests, and not your position.
It is easy to react aggressively when you are being challenged. But if you are more concerned about whether you are winning or losing, you forget what you initially wanted to achieve.

(4) Focus on the future, not the past.
Resist the temptation to use past behaviors, incidents, or problems to prove your point, unless there is something positive to be learned from them, or an aspect that can be applied in this new situation. e.g. I think there should be some kind of contingency plan in the future for cases like this.

These four methods are so wonderfully useful for parents, too.

1, Oct 15, 2010

Two Types of Interpersonal Conflict

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:02 am

At workplace, people with different goals, ideas, and cultural and ethnic background provide the best breeding environment for conflicts of all sorts. There are two broad types of conflict–affective and cognitive.

Affective — focus on individual, is emotional, personal. It is based on feelings of anger, mistrust, dislike, fear, resentment, etc. Filled with sarcasm, personal criticism, trash-talk, puts-downs and even dirty words, it is usually destructive, particularly if it is allowed to escalate, easily precipitating into something out of control. We often see the eruption of this type of conflict in a family setting, typically between a parent and a headstrong teenager.

Cognitive — focus on issue, substantive, exclusively issue-related topic. Rational and not emotional. It occurs when people disagree over such things as procedures, opinions, and reasoning process. It can be constructive when it is dealt with correctly. e.g. “I think this would not be feasible since we only have one week before deadline.”

Sometimes, a conflict starts as cognitive, but slips into affective when people start focus on person instead of issues.

P.S. my daughter does not have school today, so I take today off.

1, Oct 14, 2010

Interpersonal Conflict, a Healthy Part of Daily Life II

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:01 am

Continued from yesterday’s topic.
There are some myths about conflicts. 1) conflict is undesirable, hence we should avoid creating it or avoid dealing with it. 2) Conflict is something you can avoid.

As a matter of fact, conflict is both unavoidable and a healthy part of our daily interactions, no matter where you are. What we need is a positive attitude toward conflict, seeing conflict as a source of information and an opportunity for growth and a chance of turning things for the better, not a problem to avoid or put off.

Check out this situation — when the child stays on the internet for hours without getting his homework done or he is watching TV shows way past his bedtime or he is a picky eater, no veggie whatsoever. Imagine the conflict when his parents try to intervene. For the benefit of the minor, in situation like this, parents must step in. Imagine what would happen to the child if the parents leave the child alone for fear for causing conflict! I know some parents give green lights to whatever the kids please, resulting in stinky spoiled ones.

In fact, these are conflicts of very rudimentary nature. The challenge is to learn how to handle that of more complicated kind of conflict, typically among adults or between parents and their teenage children.

1, Oct 13, 2010

Interpersonal Conflict, a Healthy Part of Daily Life 1

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:28 am

We had a course as part of leadership workshop on 9/21/2010. It was on conflict resolution. Prior to that we needed to take an online course, titled “Resolving Conflict with Communication Skills.”

As I got deeper into the course, I found it both interesting and instructive. Not because it works wonder for any workplace conflict, but it seems more fitting for any conflict in a more intimate environment like in a family.

The culture at our company is characterized by non-confrontation, strengthened by wide-spread passive aggressiveness and behind-the-back gossiping, with total absence of open conflict. Hence, though this course might make sense elsewhere, it seems out of touch with the reality of our company.

To me, the course throws some light on the conflict in a family. I am going to share my gains from it in a few postings.


1, Oct 12, 2010

“You Raise Me Up To more than I can be”

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:25 am

“You Raise Me Up To more than I can be,” was first given to us by Secret Garden from the album Once in a Red Moon, an award winning Irish-Norwegian duo, lyrics by Brendan Graham, first released in 2002. There is an obvious religious message from the song, with You referring the Lord who raises us up. Every time I hear the song, I think of parents and their role in raising the children to the level higher than themselves. Here’s the song for all parents.

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

1, Oct 11, 2010

Greed and Disgrace in Medical Research

Filed under: Clinical Research — admin @ 12:54 am

This is from Scientific American journal, posted on 3/10/2009, with the title “A Medical Madoff: Anesthesiologist Faked Data in 21 Studies — A pioneering anesthesiologist has been implicated in a massive research fraud that has altered the way millions of patients are treated for pain during and after orthopedic surgeries” by Brendan Borrell.

In the course of 12 years, “anesthesiologist Scott Reuben revolutionized the way physicians provide pain relief to patients undergoing orthopedic surgery for everything from torn ligaments to worn-out hips. Now, the profession is in shambles after an investigation revealed that at least 21 of Reuben’s papers were pure fiction, and that the pain drugs he touted in them may have slowed postoperative healing.”

Reuben’s studies led to the sale of billions of dollars worth of the potentially dangerous drugs known as COX2 inhibitors, Pfizer’s Celebrex (celecoxib) and Bextra (valdecoxib) and Merck’s Vioxx (rofecoxib), for applications whose therapeutic benefits are now in question.

Pfizer paid for a clinical study of Dr. Reuben’s on the perioperative use of celecoxib as part of multimodal analgesia for outpatient anterior cruciate ligament reconstructive surgery. Dr. Reuben reported in 2 articles published in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia that he had treated 200 patients in the trial — 100 with placebo and 100 with celecoxib — and achieved success with multimodal analgesia therapy. However, Dr. Reuben later admitted that he had not enrolled any patients in the trial but, instead, had simply fabricated the findings.

The question that people are likely to ask is why did it take 12 years before a “routine audit” revealed Reuben’s widespread data fabrication? Wasn’t there a red flag somewhere to catch people’s attention to Reuben’s research studies?

That’s why we need auditors, FDA, and whoever have sharp teeth to control, regulate in this lucrative business of research.

1, Oct 10, 2010

You Will Live Longer with Good Social Connections

Filed under: Health — admin @ 2:36 am

There is an article called “Being Social Improves Lifespan” carried on 7/28/2010. It recaps the result of a study. The report on this study is in the Public Library of Science Journal of Medicine. The key finding of the study is this — “Being socially active may significantly improve a person’s lifespan,” according to the study carried by Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith, Brigham Young University researchers.

Social connections, including friends, family, neighbors and colleagues, “improve the odds of not dying prematurely by 50 percent.” They consider life without these social connections is as dangerous to your health as smoking, alcoholic, no exercise and even obesity.

Of course, relationship of good quality is better than its opposite. By the end of the day, it is really up to each individual to form these good social connections in our lives. That’s why I keep telling my children, once they are out of home, form their own circle of friends and create a home away from home, no matter where they find themselves.

1, Oct 9, 2010

Unhealthy lifestyle will Haunt You Later in Life

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:05 am

On 8/3/2010, I read an article carried on The Wall Street Journal “Not So Young at Heart?” by RON WINSLOW. It is based on a 20-year study on over 3 thousand people between age 18 and 30. The study discovers the cumulative effect of and the risk of heart disease posed by even modestly abnormal cholesterol. In other word, higher cholesterol at an early age increased the risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.

The threat comes from high bad cholesterol. High LDL level boosts calcium accumulation in the coronary arteries and increase the chance of future heart disease. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries that leads to heart attacks and strokes, “begins early in life—as early as childhood”

If you think you are young and invincible, think again. Heart disease does not come overnight. “It accumulates in a way that damage lasts and persists into middle age.” Like a huge debt, your unhealthy lifestyle will come back haunting you in the decades to come.

A lifestyle consisting of regular exercise and healthy diet is the only trick to a healthy heart.

1, Oct 8, 2010

Establish Yourself Before Nesting

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:18 am

When I called grandma in Beijing to recap my weekend activities, she was saying something like this, “Hearing your list already makes me tired, not to speak of doing it.” She said this to me when my children were small and I had to work really hard to get many things done. I was good at making easy task difficult. But then I was young and never felt really beaten. Every time I look back, I see the hardest part has gone and I feel hugely relieved. I am sure many people like me have gone through similar experience, that is, there is nothing unique about mine.

Now the tide seems to have turned as it is my children’s turn to get busy, though not as crazy as I was in the old days, because they don’t have a family on their shoulders. Raising a family and trying to stand on your own financially at the same time is a hardship to say the least. I would advice my children against going this path. I wish they could complete their trailblazing and become somewhat established before they start the joy of a family. But then, it’s fine with me if they decide to switch this order.

1, Oct 7, 2010

Tyler Clementi, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, The Most Stupid Unintentional Killers

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:29 am

We all know what these two 18-years-old college students have done to bring about Tyler Clementi’s suicide. My daughter and I couldn’t get over the shock over the news. We talked a lot about it even days after the event. I don’t think the two unintentional killers were motivated by anti-gay prejudice.

Rather, they are simply foolish and selfish to the extreme and are the products of bad parenting. They have not learned to stop and think about the consequence of their stupidity. They relentlessly seek fun and thrills, no matter how vulgar and disastrous it is, at the expense of another fellow student.

I have seen more than once such brainless and cruel antics before. As my daughter put it, “Their parents are partly responsible, too. Because they have not taught their children not to take pleasure in publicly humiliating others.” I see the consequence of bad parenting in Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, one from an Indian family, the other from a Chinese family. Both cultures are famous for hammering “good” education into their children. Obviously, not good enough.

This once again brings into focus a key ingredient in successful parenting, that is, parents not only need to make sure that their children become learned individuals, but more important, they should help their children develop the capacity for love, sympathy, and human understanding.

Hence, you are a loser parent if your children are as stupid and selfish as Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei.

1, Oct 6, 2010

Smile – One of the Least Expensive Medicine for Our Health

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:18 am

We know smiling is good to your health and to everybody around. Here are some details on why we should keep that big silly smile.

(1) Smiling, real or fake, always makes you happy and positive.

(2) Smiling opens more doors to you and enables you to be well-viewed and well-accepted.

(3) Smile and the whole world smiles with you. You contribute to making a happy surrounding.

(4) Smiling puts on charm and beauty on you, coming in handy when you want to date someone.

(5) Together, all of the above will boost your immune system and make you a wholesome healthy person.

By the way, on 9/2/2010, I made an honest comment on U.S. troop pullout on NY Times site, very much similar to the one I posted on that day here. The site editor blocked out my comment. I wrote again, wiped out again. I smiled and forgot it.

1, Oct 5, 2010

How to Do a Good Job of Finding a Job

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:59 am

This is a continuation on 10/2/2010 posting on getting ready for job-hunting. Here’s the whole list of “21 Secrets to Getting the Job” by Karen Burns. There are some good points here. You have to realize it is a serious job to find a job. Don’t expect an apple pie dropping from the sky.

(1) Become a decent public speaker
(2) Have reasonable expectations
(3) Do a little PR
(4) Look happy.
(5) Bring your resume into 2010.
(6) Rehearse.
(7) Be upfront about being overqualified
(8) Nail the food part of the lunch interview.
(9) Mirror your interviewer.
(10) Smile during the phone interview.
(11) Don’t freak out about failure.
(12) Volunteer
(13) Blog it
(14) Scrap the functional resume.
(15) Try not to annoy your interviewer
(16) Find an outlet.
(17) Put yourself in the company of upbeat people
(18) Tweet
(19) Grow your network
(20) Change your resume-sending strategy.
(21) Ignore the unemployment numbers.

P.S. yesterday my daughter had no school and I took a day off. She asked me what we would do in the morning. Before long, it was 3:20 PM. We both realized time rushed by so outrageously fast.

1, Oct 4, 2010

It Takes Some Commonsense to Be Considerate

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 4:51 am

Last Friday, 10/1, while I was waiting for my daughter’s skating lesson, I had a nice chat with a friend of mine, which once again emphasized the importance of being considerate. Here are two points that I want my children to learn.

(1) Never argue with a driver. Remember your life is hinged on the hands of the driver. Anything unexpected could happen if the driver gets mad and excited beyond self-control during an argument.

(2) Give other person a chance to let off steam, if there is a legitimate reason for him to feel so. Do not focus on the way he expresses himself or attempt to illegitimate his expression. Remember it gives him an unspeakably ill feeling if he feels wronged and is not allowed to express it the way he is justified.

1, Oct 3, 2010

Steadfast and Consistent, you will Win in the End

Filed under: Success — admin @ 12:11 am

On 9/28/2010, my daughter asked me for the pictures of her cousin in China. As I remember he posted some in his blog site, I got hold of its URL and visited the site that evening. For some reason, the young man has not been diligent in posting his blogs.

This somehow reminds me of the tale of tortoise-hare-race. This is what I often tell my children. You don’t have to wait till you are in the mood or you have something worth writing. In wirting and in many other activities, being assiduous and attentive on the daily basis, even if the output is not as great as you would expect, steadfast and consistent, you will see the accumulated effect in the long run. This is especially true in vocabulary building.

I told my daughter while steadfast and consistent will help one reach one’s goal, one will lose the battle with only fitful and sporadic efforts.

1, Oct 2, 2010

The Crucial Role of Good Oral Communication Skill

Filed under: College — admin @ 12:09 am

During the weekend of 9/26, I read an article by Karen Burns entitled “21 Secrets to Getting the Job.”

To be sure, this is a very long list and most of them are not even relevant to me. What captures my attention is number one on the list — Become a decent public speaker.

“What better way to shine at job interviews, or in staff meetings, or at business luncheons than to express yourself clearly, confidently, coherently, and concisely? Speaking makes you visible. Speaking makes you memorable. Speaking can even make you look smarter than you really are…”

Rightly so! In fact, being a good speaker also benefits a person who is not in job market. A good speaker always feels good about himself, often with overblown ego and higher-than-sky self-esteem. Without ever practicing public speech, a person often finds himself unable to find his tongue in public or even fear of hearing his own voice.

That’s why I have emphasized to my children the importance of good oral and written communication skills, encouraging them to take either speech or debate class.

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