Obesity is More than Lifestyle and Food Intake II


Although I have not read any research to see if concentration of obesity and low social class overlap each other, just from the amount of attention federal government has been pouring onto it, I have no doubt that you will find a heavy concentration of overweight folks among low class. This is what turns a personal problem of weight into a societal one.

Consider this — if obesity concentrate among low social class folks, they need government assistance to take care of their obesity-related health problems — heart disease, diabetes, certain type of cancer, and even higher risk of senior dementia. Hence their weight issue becomes a societal problem, making deficit-stricken government as nervous as other societal issues.

Then again as with any issues that arise from some deep-rooted cultural values and in the realm of personal behavior, if there is no change to the culture of insufficient self-control and self-discipline among the dominant obese population, no policy and government funding can bring a change in people’s eating behavior, lifestyle and do away with obesity.

It might not be politically correct to direct attention to the individual level, but be it if it is a hurting truth. This reminds me of my posting on 7/22/2010, “We Like to Cheat Ourselves with Streetlight” — we know that’s not where the truth is, still we search there because the light is good.



Obesity is More than Lifestyle and Food Intake


The convergence of some seemingly unrelated facts set me thinking again on obesity, healthcare cost and social class. Here are these facts from Reuters health and science editor, Maggie Fox, 8/3/2010.

*More than 72 million U.S. adults, or 26.7 percent, are obese.
**Recent estimates of the annual medical costs of obesity are $147 billion
***Blacks were the most likely to be obese, with 36.8 percent of U.S. black adults having a BMI of 30
****More than 41 percent of black women are obese
*****More than 30 percent of Hispanic adults were obese.
******Mississippi had the most obese people.
*******Obesity is a societal problem, according to Dr. Frieden, CDC director.

“The federal government and some states have been moving toward using legislation to help people to exercise and eat healthier foods.”

To be continued…



Some Interesting Health News


On 12/11, while waiting for my daughter’s art class, I read the following from Time magazine. Some of them are known facts.

*Pathological web surfing triggers depression
*Heart disease is the leading killer of women in the US, each year claiming more women than men.

*To stay healthy, shake off the salt
*Bedbugs are on the rise. Some of the solutions include reducing clutter, sealing cracks and crevices, vacuuming often, drying the infected clothes

*50% extent of greater odds that people with strong social connections will live longer than those with weak ones.



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part IV


It seems we never have enough of this Tiger Mom topic, at least between my daughter and I. I told my daughter I wish I had a book like this 20 years ago so that both of them would have turned out more disciplined and resilient than they were now.

“Her two daughters were not born yet,” said my daughter.
“I mean I wish someone wrote a book like this 20 years ago,” I explained.

“Yes, I wish I had a tiger mom, then my piano skill would be a whole lot better than it is now. I will be a tiger mom when I have children, but definitely not someone like her.” she declared. She wants to be a nice tiger mom.

Next she asked me why I did not insist on her more piano practice when she was five years old. I was a bit surprised over her question. Then I am glad she is mature enough to realize that early discipline will benefit her in the long run.

An acquaintance of mine called Amy Chua abusive and should be sued because of that. Being a Chinese, she often acts more Americanized than Americans. I am not sure if her comment was an attempt to either cover up her sense of guilt for her inadequate parenting or excuse herself of her irresponsibillity.

Some Chinese parents are rather content over their children’s achievements when they compare their youngsters to American kids. This is a short-sighted attitude. Keep in mind, when facing a future of global challenge and competition, their proud cubs are no match to those from China. But here comes this Tiger Mom who has prepared her youngsters for the tough roads ahead in the world.

The more I think about my parenting experience and chua’s, the more I recommend this book on the strength of its parenting philosophy, the more I admire her for the sacrifice that she has done for her children. In fact, my daughter even suggested that we buy a copy.



China and India, Job and Economy in President’s Speech


The president is finally a bit realistic when he talked about the success of China and India due to their advanced education.
“…, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.”

“China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a ‘D.'”

He asks the nation to look ahead for a bright future.
“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

Talking is always easy and cheap.



“Limit Children’s Computer Use and TV Viewing Time”


I read a report on a study on 10/11/2010, “Too much TV psychologically harms kids.” People have been thinking on the same line for a long time. It is simply a commonsense for all responsible parents not to let their children indulge in too much TV.

“The study, published in the US journal Pediatrics, found that kids who spend hours each day in front of the TV or games console have more psychological difficulties like problems relating to peers, emotional issues, hyperactivity or conduct challenges, than kids who don’t.” “… the negative impact of screen time was not remedied by increasing a child’s physical activity levels, says the study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in Britain.”

“The researchers found that children who spent two hours or more a day watching television or playing on a computer were more likely to get high scores on the questionnaire, indicating they had more psychological difficulties than kids who did not spend a lot of time in front of a screen.”

Earlier studies indicate that “Excessive use of electronic media is not a concern if children are physically active.” But the latest findings indicate that might not be the case, and the researchers advise parents to limit their children’s computer use and TV viewing time to ensure their “optimal well-being.”

Enough has been said. Now time for action, that is, time for the parents to do what is good for their little ones, even if it means some unpleasant moments.



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part III


Amy Chua is nakedly honest in her book and in her open criticism of western parenting. I admire her courage and 100 percent honesty, which is as rare as giant pandas among Asian Americans. She is one of a kind in that she makes a battle cry instead of an insect humming, which is most of us do. Otherwise, how can people pay any attention to the humming of an insignificant ant. In fact, it is high time that someone stood out with a book like this. A huge thankyou to the author!

A psychologist might say the harsh standard would ruin a happy childhood and leave permanent wound in the hearts of the youngsters. Amy Chua challenged this assumption and their erroneous parenting philosophy, and put to shame millions of American parents by pointing out the undesirable consequences, which has yielded one of the lowest education achievement among developed nations.

She also makes people re-think what is good to the next generation and to the nation in the long run — a playful childhood, game and TV followed by a poor and a miserable adulthood or hard-working childhood followed by a rich and happy adulthood.

I accept her philosophy. In fact, I agree with the spirit of the book whole-heartedly, though I cannot go with her method of putting it into practice. Once again, her actions have been the direct consequence of her unique personality. Nothing is more stupid and narrow-minded than assuming that there is a tiger mother like Chua behind the success of every Chinese kid.



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part II


Below is a quote from the book, which I wholly agree.

“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something–whether its math, piano, pitching, or ballet–he or she gets praise, admiration, and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes easier for the parents to get the child to work even more.” p. 29

Talk about raising a happy child, my daughter agrees with the author that nothing makes her happy until she performs well at school or gets prize at competition or feels she is really good at something. She also knows clearly that only through the bitter hard work can one enjoy the sweet fruits of accomplishments.

Don’t we know this — no pain, no gain. As with anything in life, a carefree childhood can potentially mean a poverty-stricken adulthood, poor in body and mind or lifelong dependence on wellfare. Because of this, the country needs millions of tiger mothers who dare to set high standards for their children and enforce reasonable rules for them to follow.
To be continued…



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part I


If anything, Amy Chua, the author of the newly-published book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, certainly knows how to be controversial or make enemies out of her readers.

Honestly, I like the book and have read it, which does not mean I endorse every word of it. I applaud her parenting effort and her sacrifice of large chunks of her time, though I cannot be like her, not because I am any nicer than she is but because we are different in our personality. It takes both a cultural background and a unique character like her to generate her kind of parenting style. I have known many dedicated Chinese parents but have never seen one like her. She is one of a kind.

While some people see the harsh discipline that she employed in raising her children and dish out harsh words against the tiger mother, I see tremendous responsibilities and sacrifice that this Chinese mother has done for her children, which, sadly to say, are not often seen among American parents. I have to admit that I have not been as responsible in parenting as she has been.

American schools would not have yielded so many losers and dropouts if there were more responsible parents like Amy Chua. While she raised her children to a higher level of living, many American parents have kept theirs to the level of bare existence.

Some parents, under the excuse of giving their children a “carefree childhood”, are in reality finding excuse for their irresponsible and careless parenting. Shame on these lazy, irresponsible and selfish parents!
To be continued…



Why I Don’t Like Wall Street Jobs


On the evening of 12/11/2010, a friend of mine called from out of town. While talking about job perspectives for coming graduates, he told me that many graduates from Harvard and MIT, no matter what majors they had, ended up working in Wall Street for some investment banks.

While it is a good thing that they end up with something that yields big paychecks, I think Wall Street is the ideal place only for those whose sole purpose in life is making lots of money. If that’s not your goal in life, stay out of it.

For some reason, banks always leave my mouth with bad taste. I strongly advise my children against taking this route, mainly because I think it too empty to live through one’s life with no other goal than making money. One got to have some higher calling than money.

Secondly, for a beginner working there, he practically has to invest 100% of time into his work, leaving no time for self-development and career advancement. The worst part is he does not learn as much as he should if he were elsewhere. In the long run, this is a short-sighted choice.

Ask yourself what you want to do with yourself, what is your passion? what really makes you happy, other than possessing tons of money. Next follow your dream relentlessly.

PS. put thing in a long perspective, this is a question regarding what you want to do with your life. After all, one-third of your day will be spent at work. You don’t want to just spend your life making money, as if money were the end of all means.



Words of Wisdom on Shopping for Sales Stuffs


In the evening of 11/22, I explained to my mother over the phone about Black Friday. My mother told me what she thinks about shopping for stuff you don’t need. “If you don’t need these clothes and still buy them simply because they are on sale, you will have to serve them by storing them or taking them out after sometime even if you don’t wear them. You make yourself a slave of your possessions. You only have this much living space. The more you buy, the more crowded you will feel as they take up your limited space. Instead, it will make you feel good if you can donate whenever there is a need.”

I wish more people could hear these words of wisdom from an 80-year-old Chinese citizen. At least, I will make sure that my children keep them in mind when they are so tempted to shop unnecessarily.



Parents Need to be Careful in Delivering Praise


On 11/7/2010, Sunday evening, while talking to my sister over the phone, we touched the topic of being smart. I said I was considered the least smart in our family. My sister asked how I got the idea that I was not as smart as others. I said, “I just remember people often praised both of you and commented how smart you were. I am the one who was often scolded for getting into trouble. Compliment words were very foreign to me at that time.”

My sister said that it was not true. She admitted that obedient child often received more praise from adults, while troublesome ones received opposite treatment.

From this I thought of some possibilities. Probably when parents often praise one child in front of another, a message is sent to both children — the one who is not left out gets the message that she is not as smart or as worthy as the other one. I must be that unfortunate one and that how I got the idea that I am not as smart as my siblings.

Interesting to know. I hope parents can learn something from this.



A Thought on the Life of a Poet in Tang Dynasty



On 11/21, Sunday afternoon, on the way to the Whole Food store, I shared this following with my daughter. I asked her if it was a good topic for an entry here. “Yes, of course,” said she.

That morning I read a writing on a famous poet in Tang Dynasty, Bai Juyi (772–846) in his senior years, which was, to put it mildly, characterized by a lack of constraint in his dealings with women. I am sure this is not something he could brag about. And I am surprised that people still remember it.

My daughter knows Bai Juyi from the above poem and pipaxing. She was a bit shocked at learning this part of the poet’s life. Indeed, people might have this or that harsh words on the loose behavior in his life, yet his talent and his unsurpassed accomplishments, peerless in Chinese literature, earn him a unique place in history of Chinese poetry. All this enables him to shine through the thick dust of history and continue to glow for the thousands of years to come. History has always been rather generous to individuals of extraordinary achievements.

In one sense, you can apply the same to our daily engagement either at work or at school. You may be doing the same thing as everybody else, but it is your talent, special skills, outstanding character, if you so possess, that distinguish you from the crowd and that make you last longer than your mere transient presence. Otherwise, you are out of mind even before you are out of sight. Think of it when you go about your daily life.



Your Health, Your Care


On 10/30/2010, I read an article in Discover magazine, November 2010 issue, “Reckless Medicine” by Jeanne Lenzer.

There are some shocking news…
“A panel in 2007 by the prestigious Institute of Medicine estimated that ‘well below half’ of the procedures doctors perform and the decisions they make surgeries, drugs, and tests have been adequately investigated and shown to be effective. The rest are based on a combination of guesswork, theory and tradition, with a strong dose of marketing by drug and device companies.”

“Doctors are often as much in the dark as their patients when they implant new devices (like surgical mesh), perform surgeries or write prescriptions.

“According to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report published in 2001, more than 770,000 Americans are injured or die each year from drug complications, including unexpected side effects, some of which might have been avoided if somebody had conducted the proper research.

“A 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 87% of guideline authors received industry funding and 59% were paid by the manufacturers of a drug affected by the guidelines they wrote.”



Great News about Piano Practice


On 10/30/2010, while my daughter was in her art lesson, I was reading a magazine Scientific American. We used to subscribe it when my son was in high school. There is an article in November 2010 issue, “Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind.” This reiterates the benefit of music in our brain. Below is the key point.

If you listen to your mother and practice piano for an hour in the afternoon, these music lessons can produce profound and lasting changes that enhance the general ability to learn.

“Assiduous instrument training from an early age can help the brain to process sounds better, making it easier to stay focused when absorbing other subjects, from literature to … calculus.

“The musically adept are better able to concentrate on a biological lesson despite the racket in the classroom… They can attend to several things at once in the mental scratch pad calling working memory, an essential skill in the era of multitasking…”

For this reason, I hope my children will keep up their piano or violin practice even after they are out of school.



If Girl Scouts Can Bake Cookies, Why Can’t Salvation Army?


Last year Salvation Army started its holiday season donation drive earlier than previous years. I guess there are more hungry folks waiting to be fed. You could hear its asking-for-donation bell ringing outside the store in the midst of gusty wind. I met them outside HyVee on Saturday, 12/4/2010 while waiting for my daughter’s art class.

Sadly to say, I noticed not many people paid any attention to them. Some even seemed to make an effort to avoid them. I pitched in some, though I was very much tempted to tell them that they needed to be resourceful and efficient even when they are doing good things.

Normally people would not give out something for nothing. This is especially true during the economic downturn days when most people are short in cash.

In time like this, the Salvation Army should be innovative by adopting some new money-grabbing strategies? e.g. they can mobilize church folks to make crafts or bake pies and sell them outside a store. Look at the girl scouts who seem to be able to make more in a day than Salvation Army in a week.

No matter what you do, there are always better and efficient ways to reach your goal. Creativity and innovation are always a great asset.



Recession Should Change People’s Spending Habits


On 8/19/2010, I read an article by Phil Taylor, “15 Things You Shouldn’t Be Paying For.”

The recession seemed to have changed some people’s spending behavior. When people are running low, they try to get to places with less gas. I hope people can keep up the thrifty habits even after economy picks up. Here is the list of these 15 things.

1) Basic Computer Software; there are so many free downloads
2) Your Credit Report; you can always get a copy during a free trial period.
3) Cell Phone, absolutely. You don’t really need to keep up with the new products.
4) Books, of course — that’s why we have libraries. And no more books to crowd your room.
5) Water. It is also good for the environment when we consume less bottled water.
6) Credit Card. Why pay an annual fee for a credit card when there are plenty of free ones?
7) Debt Reduction Help. This is the last thing you should pay for, when you don’t have money to pay your debt. But I do know someone who hires an agent to manage all her bills.
8) Basic Tax Preparation. Do it yourself unless you have half a million to work on. I know some people are too hopelessly lazy to do it themselves.
9) News. Either go online and read or go to your local library or even bookstore. It is simply too old fashioned to buy news now.
10) Budgeting Tools; download free tools from the internet.
11) Pets. There are many lovely pets in animal shelters. You might have done a good deed by providing a home for one of them.
12) Shipping; look for free shipping deals.
13) Checking Account. Why pay for this when many banks offer a free checking account?
14) DVD Rentals. You can watch anything from the internet or get free rentals from insideredbox.com
15) Exercise. Nothing is more true than this. You can exercise anytime anywhere, with free air and free sunshine.

Actually, there are a lot more things that people don’t need to buy, especially during back-to-school days. The weekend before school started, I saw many parents shopping for school supplies with a list from the school. What happened to the old school bag and supplies that they used last year? Why do people have to get a completely new set of school supplies every year?



A Parent Gets What She Deserves


On the morning of Thanksgiving, I went to a Chinese family to talk to the adult daughter about her mother’s health issue. She came back home from out of town for the Thanksgiving break. The daughter’s attitude has been consistent: go back to China. After the daughter left, the mother said to me, “See that’s what she always says.” I told her it was actually a good idea that she went back to China and see doctors there since her English is not adequate. “No,” said she, “She wants me to move back to China and never come back! She thinks I am her burden.”

Now I understand why she would not tell her daughter about things that she should. I remember once the daughter said something like this to me. When the daughter was little and needed her mother, the mother was not there for her. The mother spent all her time earning money. Now the little girl has grown into a mid-20 years old woman and the need reverses, that is, it is the mother’s turn to need her grown-up daughter. But the daughter is not going to forget and forgive.

It is a pretty sad case. Yet, by the end of the day, you are the one who determine the type of repercussion from your previous action. Trust me something always comes back to us, like or not.



Develop Your Own Philosophy of Life and Follow it Through


On 12/2/2010, my daughter asked me about Lynndie England. This prompted me to think about the importance of one’s philosophy of life.

Lynndie England is famous for her role in the infamous torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad during the occupation of Iraq. The pictures reveal without any doubt a perverted mind. It is ridiculous to hear her self-defense and her all-out efforts to whitewash herself of any wrongdoings.

In a May 11, 2004 interview with Denver CBS affiliate television station KCNC-TV, England reportedly said that she was ‘instructed by persons in higher ranks’ to commit the acts of abuse for psyop reasons, and that she should keep doing it, because it worked as intended. England noted that she felt “weird” when a commanding officer asked her to do such things as “stand there, give the thumbs up, and smile”. However, England felt that she was doing “nothing out of the ordinary”.

“England maintains that she was goaded into posing for the photographs by her then lover and more senior fellow soldier, Charles Graner. ‘They said in the trial that authority figures really intimidate me. I always aim to please.'”

Lynndie England’s experience emphasizes the importance of developing and following your own philosophy of life unwaveringly. This includes, among others, a clear sense of right and wrong, no matter what others say. Do the right thing always. If it is wrong either morally or legally or whatsoever, do not do it, no matter what, even if you are under the highest pressure. At the very least, always follow the golden rule of “Do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you.”

A single bad deed never fails to boomerang, even though good ones might disappear like nothing happens. Lynndie England could have avoided this scandal if she had a clear idea of her philosophy of life and a tiny bit of sense of right and wrong.



Learn While Learning is Easy


I personally know some young people either in their early or later 20s, at my office or among my relatives. Every time I see some of them spend plenty of time either texting or aimlessly surfing the internet or daily commuting as if time had no value, I think of this Chinese saying.

Here is the main idea.
“When a child was young and learning was easy, he did not like learning.
When he grew old and learning becomes difficult, he realizes the importance of learning and wants to learn.”

As the new year and a new decade just started, I wish young people could keep this in mind — learn while learning is easy, so that when they look back, they will not regret for having wasted time.



The Power and the Damage of Unknown Phobia


It happened on 12/1/2008, over two years ago. I just dug it out from my work journal. I thought it was an interesting event.

On that date, I wrote to a colleague, offering to work on the patients that she was working on. She told me “We will let you know!” I don’t know who “we” are as I only wrote to her. She has never written back to me, even though she needed my help on getting some data out. I have noticed that she has tried to avoid working with me, keeping an interestingly polite distance and appearance, for some unknown reason. Let’s call it unknown phobia.

I have never worked with this colleague before, yet she has heard some gossips about me and was reluctant to work with me out of some unaccountable phobia. By the end of the day, it is not me but those with phobia and with closed mind who will suffer as the result.



Rules Should be Enforceable


On 9/22/2010, a Wednesday, the company issued some new policies. One of them deals with Personal Electronic Devices, like cell phone, MP3, radio, and stuffs that make sounds. To be sure, the new policy is rather stringent, to say the least, so much as that some people started talking about how to circumvent the new policy or find loophole for its violation.

This, of course, reminds me of the early 1920s Prohibition law on alcohol in the U.S. Any time you have something which is either too stringent or not feasible to enforce, you end up making people wonder how to break the law instead of how to follow it, which runs against the original motive behind the making of these rules and regulations. So is it true with any rules that parents create and try to enforce on the children. It takes a matured mind and understanding on the part of parents to lay out feasible rules for their children.

Examples of stringent rules on children include the following:
–No computer under any circumstances
–Zero phone chat with friends.
–No TV anytime

Here are a friendly version on these rules.
–No computer play before you finish your homework and after your bedtime.
–Limit chatting with friends to 30 minutes per call and twice per day
–Watch TV only on weekend after homework



A Parent’s Complaint


On 11/26, Friday evening, at a friend’s house, I met a mother who sounded like complaining when she talked about the fact that she only had one child. “It would be nice if we had two children. We would not have this empty nest when she left. All because of my daughter. She did not want a younger sister or brother when we asked her before. Now she is all alone and has to support the two aging parents by herself.”

The 24-year-old daughter was sitting by her mother motionless as if she were talking about someone else. I could see the daughter must have got used to her mother’s complaint and no longer feels anything.

When I told my daughter of this incident, she said the mother should not complain now. “How can you listen to the small child when she doesn’t know what is really good for her? When she is big and wants a sibling, her parents are too old to have one.” Interesting to hear both sides of argument.



Defense Budget Cut and “National Security”


On 12/30/2010 and 1/2/2011, I posted entries on US in the coming decade, enduring the dire economic consequence of its over-stretched global arms. I predicted the country would have to do some serious cutting here and there, a real European style austerity as part of its effort to fight the formidable burden of debt. On 1/6/2011, we learned US defense secretary Roberts Gates announced a $78bn military budget cut, to be achieved in part by scrapping a $14bn amphibious vehicle. The cuts over the next five years come in addition to $100bn in internal savings already announced. “As the biggest part of the discretionary federal budget, the Pentagon cannot presume to exempt itself from the scrutiny and pressure faced by the rest of our government,” Gates said

Here’s the irony about defense expense. After 911 attack of 2001, the US increased military spending tremendously in the name of protecting “national security.” After a gigantic military spending in which the US invaded other countries, did plenty of killings and bombings, with the two invaded countries like it is now, is America safer and stronger now than before? Do people worldwide love America more than before? Or the opposite is true?

I wonder when people will come to this understanding that a country cannot be safe and strong if it faces colossal national debts and a fast shrinking middle-class and a swelling lower class. I am sure there are some politicians who will jump out against the defense cut, always in the name of “national security” and at the cost of anything else.



A Better Way of Learning


On 10/24/2010, my daughter complained of her European History teacher’s homework. Instead of putting out questions for students to work on, the teacher asked the students to create their own questions and then answer them.

Immediately, I see the advantage of this approach. It can actively engage students in learning, better than handing them questions. In order to do a good job, the students need to think critically and creatively. The students learn much more than the subject matter itself.

When I was teaching sociology courses back in 1993 till 1996, I created a list of questions and asked my students to seek answers while doing reading assignments. I thought it a better way than simply giving out reading assignments.

If I had a chance to teach these students again, I would do as this European History teacher did. If I had a chance to work with little children about their reading, I would try this method, too. Because it is such a superior method of teaching!



Holiday Food, Events, and Fatigue


You would expect people to feel fresh and energetic after a long holiday break. Very often, the opposite is true. Hence, it is time to think of the ways to gain back energy and stay away from fatigue.

When you do not have the luxury of resting your tired feet on couch all day long, you have to actively fight fatigue. Specifically, engage in walking after work instead of clinging to your couch.

A study done by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) a few years ago found a proven link between physical fitness and mental health and well-being. The conclusion is exercise is deemed generally beneficial for the emotional health of people of all ages and both sexes. Other studies have yielded similar conclusion.

Better than this, research has found that as people increased their physical fitness, enhanced physical stamina and mental alertness, they also improved their self-esteem, feeling better about themselves and developing a more optimistic, energetic frame of mind.

Exercise is especially beneficial to those who suffer from chronic fatigue during daytime. These people will see an increase in their daytime energy level if they take regular exercise like walking.



“My Friends are my Estate”


My son left home yesterday morning, made a transfer at Dulles airport, arrived in Boston, then took a bus to New York, where he will work for a company for some weeks before spring semester begins. He stays with his friends who are two years of his senior, from the same school. Each time he goes to New York, he stays at his friends’. This reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “My friends are my estate.”

His experience made me think of my encounter with a college classmate early last year when I went back to China. To be sure, it had been ages since we saw each other. But for some reason, probably out of his legal profession, when I called him, he sounded cold and suspicious of my motive, as if I were going to ask him for some favor or to take advantage of his position. When we met in Massachusetts back in 1987, he was still a student, friendly as before. People change beyond belief!

I wonder what Emily Dickinson had to say about this type of people. Estates are easy to find, but not true friends.



Education of Heart and Soul and Development of Character



During the Thanksgiving week, I took up this book again as it is rather informative as how to get into a good college. According to the author, Gao Yanding, it takes a good design to complete the task of a child’s K to 12 education and good education is the must to one’s success. To be sure, he is a wonderful and dedicated father.

I give tons of credit to the author for such a large quantity of helpful microscopic details. Yet, I always have sensed that something is missing in the book, something about giving the child a wholesome education on his heart and soul, character and personality. No mapping is complete without taking care of this.

Consider these — what will happen if the child is not admitted into a good college? What will he do beyond classroom if he is in? How can we prepare the child so that he will be capable of meeting challenges, defeat, failure, frustration and obstacle inevitably awaiting for him in his life’s journey? What is the ultimate goal of all this schooling? etc.

I believe a child is successful if he is equipped with a high level of responsibility, an independent mind, a strong body and tough character, with due accomplishments, and the maturity and the readiness to face the world. Such a person is a success even if he/she has not entered a good college. Because these qualities will help him beyond the door of a college. Otherwise, he won’t go far even if he has mapped into Harvard campus.



Singing is Good to Your Overall Wellbeing


A day after New Year, I find it following spirit of the festive mood to post this topic on singing and health. While I was home during the last week of the year, I read an article by BBC health correspondent Dominic Hughes, “Singing your heart out this Christmas is good for you… Carol singers Singing along to some carols this Christmas will help your physical and mental well being.”

“…belting out “Hark! the herald angels sing” or your own unique interpretation of “I will survive” will not just lift the spirits – it’s good for your physical health as well.”

First of all, singing is an exercise of lungs, an aerobic activity beneficial to the heart, “increasing the heart rate and getting blood pumping round the body faster can all help our physical health.”

Secondly, singing lifts up your spirit, reduces stress and relaxes tension, brings joy to all and contributes to your longevity.

Thirdly, singing is like dancing. It is a form of self-expression which helps boost up our self-esteem.

There are many studies on the impact of singing on our body. We don’t need to dig into these findings to know these benefits. Hence, always keep a tune in your mouth and give it a joyful expression whenever you feel like it.



USA in the New Decade 2


Whether or not America will continue on its way out as the world power in this decade depends on how it deals with its current challenges — the wars, the deficit, economy, and its education.

Regardless of its ability to meet the challenges, there is no doubt that USA will continue attracting millions of immigrants with its ideals, economic opportunities, vast stretch of land, and material abundance.

During the gathering with friends on the New Year’s Eve, I mentioned some areas where America is ahead of the four BRIC countries. Such as, in area of jing shen wen ming –spiritual civilization, China still has a long way to catch up, if she ever does or if the USA does not regress with the loss of middle class.

While the immigrants to America are transformed in the process of assimiliation into American culture, they will transform American society and will definitely bring in new hope to the country. In them probably lies the hope of the nation.

The shrinking of middle-class in American society shrinks the consuming power as well as tax revenue for the government. Where do we get money for foreign war and foreign debts and domestic programs? With the pinching national purse, one would expect the US will take back some of its outstretched arms. It will be interesting to see if it will happen or what will happen by the end of this decade.

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