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

1, Apr 30, 2011

Take Charge of Your Emotional Life

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:06 am

Ten Steps to Take Charge of Your Emotional Life by Dr. Eve Wood. I read this long ago and had taken some notes. Last weekend, while searching something on old tax return forms, I found a scrap paper with these notes. I like the idea that when it comes to our spiritual and emotional life, it is often a matter of personal choice. And to a great extent, what we choose to believe and to go by decide the quality of our spiritual and emotional health. I am sure some of the readers have read it or part of it. Still, here it is again.

(1) Give thanks — write down three things you are thankful for each day
(2) Help others — practice small acts of kindness
(3) Forgive yourself and others
(4) Love and say it to someone you love
(5) Nurture acceptance, without being judgmental
(6) Study, learn, and expand your awareness, open yourself to the wisdom of ancient times
(7) Cultivate humility and do away with judgment
(8) Don’t criticize, communicate respectfully
(9) Look for the blessing in challenging, painful or difficult situations
(10) Always give the benefit of a doubt — assume the best of others until proven otherwise
(11) Exercise, dance, meditate or do yoga
(12) Paint, draw, sing, garden or write or any form of expression
(13) Feed yourself with good nutrition
(14) Surround yourself with people who believe in you
(15) Nurture hope — where there is a will there is a way. Don’t allow yourself to believe those who tell you otherwise.
(16) Ask for you
(17) Never give up

1, Apr 29, 2011

Exercise Good to Your Body and Brain

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:30 am

I read this article long ago on brain and exercise by Roni Caryn Rabin, out on 5/13/2008, “For a Sharp Brain, Stimulation.” I dug it out during a recent house cleaning drive. Here are some notes from this reading.

“… studies of older people who have maintained their mental acuity provide some clues. They tend to be socially connected, with strong ties to relatives, friends and community. They are often both physically healthy and physically active. And they tend to be engaged in stimulating or intellectually challenging activities.

“But some interventional studies that have introduced older adults to exercise regimens have reported remarkable results… Six months of exercise will buy you a 15 to 20 percent improvement in memory, decision-making ability and attention,” “It will also buy you increases in the volume of various brain regions in the prefrontal and temporal cortex, and more efficient neuronetworks that support the kind of cognition we examined.”

Regular physical activity may improve brain function, both by increasing blood flow to the brain and stimulating the production of hormones and nerve growth factors involved in neurogenesis. Animal studies have found that physically active animals have better memories and more cells in their hippocampus. Exercise also plays a role in countering diseases like Type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of dementia. Cholesterol and hypertension, which affect vascular health, also need to be kept in check.”

By now, you should know the take-home message from this article.

1, Apr 28, 2011

Parents with Teenage Children Need to be Less Self-Centered

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:01 am

I have been constantly amused and surprised by the stupidity of some parents, in that parents maintain a strong self-centeredness or parent-centeredness. For example, a parent would say, “I don’t like what you did” or “I don’t like what you said.” The parent said this as if the teenager cared what the parent liked or not.

Even though it is okay for the parents to express their like or dislike, parents should realize their responsibility is NOT to make the teen understand and accept what their parents’ like or dislike, BUT to develop in the teen the sense of right and wrong and consequently their own like or dislike.

Instead of telling the teen “It is wrong,” ask your teen children what they think. Remember it is what the teens think that matters, not what the parents think.

It was high time that parents understood that their like or dislike or what they think is no longer the center or the rule of teen’s behavior. It is time to ask what the teen children think. Nothing pronounces more loudly of the failure of our parenting if the children were unable to think for themselves by the time they turned teenagers or they were ready to leave for college.

1, Apr 27, 2011

Connection Helps You Stay Healthy Part 2

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:23 am

(a) Schedule some time — in the near future — to enjoy the company of someone who brightens your mood.

(b) Make a list. Think about people you want to contact regularly. Then, follow through.

(c) Volunteer. Working side by side for a cause may lead to a lasting bond.

(d) Join a group. Find something that intrigues you — maybe that’s a pottery class or a hiking club.

(e) Connect online. Few things beat in-person contact. But, you might also give social networking a try. It can be a good way to reconnect with old friends — and find people with common interests. However, be cautious — and, think twice before sharing any personal information online.

You call an old friend just to say hello. Rather than eating alone, you join a colleague for lunch. You hug your sister. As ordinary as they might seem, connections like these have real power. They can improve your life — and protect your health.

If anxiety or shyness prevents you from making friends, do reach out for help.

1, Apr 26, 2011

Connection Helps You Stay Healthy Part 1

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:09 am

On 3/3/2011, I read an article sent to us by our company’s insurance company. “Thrive with a little help from your friends,” by Arleen Fitzgerald. Here’s part of it.

Research shows that a strong network of friends and family can help you:

(1) Live longer. Men and women with close social ties are 50 percent less likely to die prematurely than isolated individuals, according to a review of 148 studies.

(2) Feel happier. According to one study, having satisfying relationships was a key difference between very content people and less happy ones.

(3) Be healthier. Lonely adults appear to be more prone to high blood pressure and other health conditions, such as depression and dementia, as well.

Here are suggestions made by the author.
To be continued…

1, Apr 25, 2011

Tiger Mom on Time’s 100 of the Year

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:06 am

On 4/23, a Saturday afternoon, on the way back from Leawood library, I told my daughter that Amy Chua being one of the Time’s 100 of this year. She said she had read about it from the Internet.

Later, on the way to her drawing lesson, my daughter commented that anyone on Time’s cover and on Time’s 100 list was rather phenomenal. “Yes, her book made her famous,” I said.

I am sure there are numerous parents who are successful in their own way. But in a way Amy Chua is unique because she has committed to writing so that her unique experience is known to all.

In our office, there is a saying, “If it is not written, it has not happened.” So it is true in our life. The passing of years and decades will dilute and wash away our past experience unless we write them down.

To be sure, writing is a diligent and very rewarding work. It will pay huge dividends in the long run. Just look at the short-term gain of Amy Chua’s magnus opus.

1, Apr 24, 2011

Participating in PurpleStride KC 2011

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:56 am

Yesterday, I participated in the PurpleStride Kansas City 2011 organized by Pancreatic cancer action network, which was a timed 5K (3.1 mile) run/walk & family fun walk, in the area around Gezer Park, 13251 Mission Road, Leawood, KS. The event raised over $85,000, with over 7,000 participants. While I was walking, a few things were turning around in my head.

(1) You cannot slack, otherwise you will be left behind. Sounds familiar? Yes, it is true not only at running field but also at school and at work.

(2) It is actually not that difficult if you want to maintain your current pace and simply follow the crowd. But you must make extra efforts if you want to always surpass the person right before you.

The person in front of me was my immediate goal and I tried all the way to pass them one after another, which is not an easy task. As with everything in life, getting ahead always needs extra will power and effort.

(3) Once you start, there is no turning back. I began to feel tired as I noticed a sign indicating one-mile and I know I must carry on.

(4) Over 80 percent participants were female and I have not seen an Asian face around– something to ponder upon.

I had a wonderful Saturday morning.

1, Apr 23, 2011

Old Rental Agreements and an Old Dream

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 12:06 am

While digging out old stuffs, I found some old rental agreements, which reminds me of what I once planned to do but never actually did it.

I kept all the old rental agreement thinking someday I would buy some apartment complex nearby a university and lease them to college students. I would use their rental fees to pay for the mortgage. I would need to learn how to create leasing agreement for my tenants. I started harboring this idea ever since I took accounting classes in 1993, back in Ohio.

One of them is from Dolley Madison Apartments in McLean, Virginia on 1/25/1997, 2-bedroom apartment monthly rent for $930. We lived there between 1/1997 and 5/1998.

The other from Corinth apartment in Prairie Village, Kansas, 2-bedroom for $603. We stayed there between 5/1998 an 7/1999. Another one from Jamestown townhouse, in Fort Wayne, Indiana back in 1994. We left Indiana for Virginia in January 1997 when my daughter was two months shy of two years old.

Well, these documents at least serve to witness a dream or a plan that I once had but never materialize. I don’t know exactly what stopped me from carrying out my plan, but I know my brain does not work well when it comes to accounting.

1, Apr 22, 2011

Still Water Runs Deep

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 12:01 am

On 11/18/2010, I went to work at our west clinic, over 22 miles from my house. Luckily I don’t have to go there every week. I had an interesting and unforgetable observation while I was there.

During lunch break, I went to the break room and noticed many girls sitting around a table, eating and gossiping. They talked about one of our research girls. To be sure, they were not of mean spirited gossip. I noticed the practice manager was among the diner there. I knew her before and knew she was a type of no nonsense person.

This time I was very much convinced of my previous thought of her and much more. Even better, she is a no-small-talk person, too. I observed her while other girls were chatting. For the entire course, she did not utter a word, totally out of the conversation while sitting with the rest of the crowd.

Either her mind was occupied with some issues or she found the small talk too trivial to jump in. Her silence among the chatting group left me a deep impression. For some reason her silent presence commands some degree of respect, at least from me. This might be one of a leader’s quality, so distinctive in a group.

A saying came to my mind that I learned long ago back in China, “Still water runs deep.” It seems a perfect description of her.

1, Apr 21, 2011

Animals, Projections, and Reflections

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 12:43 am

A friend of mine sent it to me last year. I made my selections according to the instruction. The result was amazingly accurate. So I saved it for later reference.

First, you are asked to arrange these animals according to what you consider important from most to the least: cow, tiger, sheep, horse, and pig. Second, you are asked to describe the following: dog, cat, rat, coffee, and sea.

The idea behind the test is this – once we attribute values to these animals, they are no longer animals in our eyes; they represent what we value. And our choice and arrangement are in essence a reflection of ourselves. Here are their representations.

Cow represents career, Tiger honor, Sheep love, Horse family, Pig money. Your description of these animals are indications of yourself, of dog indicates your personality, of cat indicates your spouse’s personality, of rat indicates your enemy’s personality, of coffee indicates your understanding of sex, of sea indicates your attitude toward life.

1, Apr 20, 2011

Obama Behaved Disappointedly in Mexico Gulf Oil Spill

Filed under: Presidents — admin @ 12:30 am

It is exactly one year ago when Gulf of Mexico was hit by BP oil spill on a huge scale. Many things rush to my mind when I think of this calamity.

First and foremost is the reaction and behavior of U.S. president. I can never get over the huge disappointment over this president and what it truly revealed about him.

With the loss of lives and the on-going gushing of oil into the ocean, we expected the president would come over to the scene, rendering comfort and condolence to the victims’ families and mobilizing all forces to stop the disaster. This is common sense.

Instead, he played blame game, doing nothing but trying to make BP responsible for everything the spill incurred. No matter who is responsible in the end, the damage to the environment and the loss of lives cannot be undone. As the president, he should lose no time to limit this damage.

The fact he did not come over to the scene immediately to be with the victims’ family reveals his callous nature toward human beings. He is just incapable of feeling anything! Such a cold-blood being!

The fact he failed to understand the need and the urgency in stopping the spill as soon as possible allows the spill to last way longer than it should. This fully exposes his pitiful lack of problem-solving ability in the time of crisis.

I am not surprised if he ends up being one-term president.

1, Apr 19, 2011

One of the Ways You Could be Victimized

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:21 am

On 10/3/2010, I received a scam from email. I don’t remember how many times I have been so fortunate as to receive offers like this. This time I decided to post it below so that people are alerted when they receive email like this.

I am Mr. Wang HongZhang, Chief Disciplinary Officer, People’s Bank of China (PBC). I got your email contact via the internet (Google search) and decided to contact you. I have an interesting/profitable business proposal of US $24.5million and this will be of immense benefit to both of us if only you are interested. Before the U.S and Iraqi war, a client of Bank of China, Mr. Khazeal Hamood Hasaab, a Merchant, made a numbered fixed deposit valued at $24.5 million (Twenty Four million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars), for 18 calendar months, at Bank of China, Tower Branch, 1 Garden Road Hong Kong. Upon maturity several notices were sent to him, even during the war which began in 2003. Again, after the war another notification was sent, but still no response came from him. It was later found out that Mr Khazeal Hamood Hasaab, his wife and two sons had been killed during the war (Basra).

After further investigation, it was also discovered that Mr Khazeal did not declare any next of kin in his official papers, including the paperwork of his bank deposit. He also confided, in the Chief Risk Officer, Bank of China (BOCHK), that no one knew of his deposit in the bank. According to the laws of my country, at the expiration of 6 years such funds are reverted to the Peoples Bank of China (PBC), where it will be deposited in the reserve of the Government, if nobody applies to claim it. Due to the fact that the fund has been in the bank for more than five years, provisions are being made for it to be reverted to my Bank (PBC). When the case was presented at my desk, I contacted the risk officer (BOCHK), who is a good friend of mine and gathered all the information that I have presented to you. Against this backdrop, I will like you, as a foreigner, to stand as next of kin to Khazeal Hamood Hasaab, so that we can receive his funds.

I will like to know if you will be interested in this project please. I will make more details available to you on receipt of a positive response from you. My official lines and email address are not secure as they are periodically monitored to assess our level of customer care in line with our Total Quality Management Policy, do contact me only at my private email address: —–@aol.com
Kind Regards,
Mr. Wang Hongzhang

One golden rule to remember: if it is too good to be true, it is not true.

1, Apr 18, 2011

A Piece of Culture, An Interesting Observation at Work

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:56 am

A friend of mine whom we met on the flight to Beijing during my last trip home told me how she became acquainted with a young IT professional in China. The ease with which Chinese people get on familiar term with one another emphasizes one of the cultural differences that I have observed at work.

When I was working at our central office back in 2005, a colleague of mine, a rather over-weight one, was on very good term with me. Once I observed that she gobbled down a huge piece of high-calorie cheese cake. I felt a strong urge of telling her, “Hey, stop it. This is not helpful for you to lose weight.” But I politely held myself back. It would sound rude and not nice, even if it was purely for her benefit.

When I saw a nice lady with a smoking habit having this nagging cough, I was concerned and would very much like to advice her to quit smoking. Much as I cared for her and was worried, I said nothing. Because it is considered an intrusion into other people’s privacy even if I have all the good intentions. Culturally, it is difficult or even impossible to shorten this interpersonal distance. It is always safe to be polite and keep a safe space.

With another young colleague, I was on good terms and felt being trusted, but still I would not say what I thought I should as her senior, simply because it was considered none of my business or an intrusion on her privacy. Under situations like this, I know I would be more direct if I were among Chinese.

1, Apr 17, 2011

One of the Most Painful Moment in My Job

Filed under: work — admin @ 1:00 am

On On 5/21/2010, a doctor came in about 9:30 AM, asking me about a clinic trial for a late stage lung patient. I gave him the fast fact of the trial. Then I printed informed consent form and went to room #11, where patient, aged 38, and her young son were sitting, crying. They must have just been told of disease progression and the poor prognosis of her disease. I felt sad for them, especially the boy.

I explained to them the importance of clinical trials and the available treatment for our patients that clinical trials had to offer. I could see she was too upset over the news of disease to listen to my wonderful explanation. I gave her a copy of informed consent, leaving my phone number, telling her to take it home, go through it carefully, do some research on this investigational drug, and call me if she had any questions. Before I left the room, I told the young boy to take good care of his mom. He nodded through sobbing. I felt like comforting them by giving them a huge hug, but then I didn’t.

I just experienced the most painful moment of this job — seeing patient cry, knowing too well their hopeless situation and yet, unable to do anything for them.

1, Apr 16, 2011

Experience of Marginalization at Workplace

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:51 am

On 11/10/2009, around 10:40 AM, the head of the practice came to our clinic and served as a tour guide for someone from outside. When he passed my office, he stopped right outside the door and introduced to that person something about clinic trial that I was working on. I could hear every word of it since it happened just by my office door. I knew he would definitely do it differently if an American were in my office. Normally, someone outside the practice would talk to me and view our office when they want to get information about our research study. This time, for some reason, it did not happen.

It might be because it would break his comfort zone to talk to someone he has never talked before, someone different from him. I used to consider him to be rather open-minded, as if he came from west coast. I thought he was at ease dealing with people at all levels. Obviously not.

The experience made me rethink of the concept of identity and acceptance. Some Chinese consider themselves thoroughly Americanized, so much so that they refuse to think themselves anything but Americans. Well, identity involves both objective and subjective sides. Chances are what you see yourself is vastly different from what the majority of Americans see you. I keep telling my children this hard fact — even if both of you were born and grew up in America, don’t cheat yourself into thinking you are always accepted as Americans here.

1, Apr 15, 2011

Get Into the Habit of Civic Communication

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:19 am

Our company offered Just Culture workshop last week, with concentration on communication between employees and patients and among employees.

The workshop intended to teach us how to carry on a caring, considerate and positive communications. Because sometimes negative communication shows up accidentally when people fail to pay attention to how important daily interactions are.

The question that bothers me is the fact the negative communication crops up at the moment when we are off guard, as if nasty words are lurking around somewhere in our sub-consciousness looking for a chance to surface. Does it reveal something about us? At least it tells me there is a need for such a workshop because somebody has not talked decently.

If we have got into the habit of being civic toward our fellow beings or keep our subconscious space clean, we will feel free, that is, free from any guard against ourselves and from the need for such workshop.

1, Apr 14, 2011

The Farewell Card to My Manager

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:09 am

Yesterday was the last day for my manager at our practice. She will pursue other opportunity with another big local company. Below is what I wrote in my goodbye card to her.

“Forgive me for telling you that you are an awesome person and have always been trying to do the right thing for others and for the company. Given time, I have no doubt that people will come to appreciate your fine qualities.

A new environment means new challenges and the unexpected happenings. No matter where you go, your fundamental belief and principles will be your strong support and will guide you and carry you through any challenges.”

This is what I once told myself. This is what I truly believe will help her in her journey ahead.

1, Apr 13, 2011

Belly and Dementia — the Fatter You are, the More Stupid You will be in Old Age

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:22 am

Well, I could put it in a nice way, but that won’t change the fact. A study published in the Annals of Neurology in May 2010 found a link between the protruding belly in middle age and the decline of mental power. The study involved 73 males and females, carried out by folks at the Boston University School of Medicine.

They not only found an association of higher body mass index with reduced total brain volume and one at high risk of senior mental deterioration, but also the strong correlation among people with belly fat. They found, independent of total body weight, an association between belly fat and decreased brain volume. Specifically, individuals with higher amounts of belly fat in their 40s were more likely to exhibit signs of cognitive decline as they got older.

“We have all heard how a beer belly can be bad for our heart, but this study suggests carrying excess abdominal weight could also increase your risk of getting dementia… This is not really surprising as a large stomach is associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes — all major risk factors for dementia.”

Yes, when you pour your energy on jamming good food down your throat, you deprive your brain the energy to keep going. Hence, the bigger your belly gets, the stupid you become. So pathetically true.

1, Apr 12, 2011

Our Experience Shapes Our Character

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:06 am

I remember during my middle school years, some people were quiet and shy. They were so timid and lack of confidence that they were even afraid of hearing their own voice when they talked. But as years moved on, some of them changed to their opposite.

For timid and shy people, very often, it is a vicious cycle,– the more they are afraid, the less courage they have to hear their own voice, the more tightly they zip their lips. If they don’t venture out of their own shell of shyness, they will live a life of self-imposed confinement, a life of limited experience, without bringing out their full potential.

I keep telling my children that one’s characters are neither static nor pre-determined. It is up to them to experience what the life has richly offered and to build a strong character and cultivate a more open personality.

1, Apr 11, 2011

Self-Control–Key Element in Parenting Part II

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:54 am

Don’t become despaired if your little ones lack of self-control. The research also yields some cheerful result. That is, self-control can be learned.

“Children in the study who improved self-control on their own as they grow older reported fewer health and criminal behavior problems than those who remained impulsive.”

The message to parents should be this — self-control is the key. While it is a piece of cake to teach your children self-control when you work with easy targets, the real challenge crops up when you have to face those headstrong, impulsive, extremely disobedient ones. I remember one parent commenting on a difficult case, “I’d rather live some more years than bothering myself with this recalcitrant child.”

If you are a responsible parent, you should do what is good for the children in the long run, even if it often means a hugely unpleasant moment. If it is a battleground, it worths the fight, for your child’s future.

1, Apr 10, 2011

Self-Control–Key Element in Parenting Part I

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:53 am

On 1/30/2011, I read a report on child behavior carried on Time magazine. It is called “Self-control: The Key to Health and Wealth” and I would add one more to proper parenting. Here are the result of the new research.

“A lack of self-control during youth may predict health problems, less financial stability and a criminal record by adulthood.”

The research shows “…kids who scored lowest on measures of self-control–those who were more impulsive and easily frustrated and had the most trouble with delaying gratification or waiting their turn in line–were roughly three times as likely by adulthood to report having multiple health problems and addictions, earning less than $20K a year, becoming a single parent or committing a crime than kids with the most self-control.”
Continued…

1, Apr 9, 2011

Enjoy Spring Beauty Before It Springs Away

Filed under: Nature — admin @ 12:02 am


The change of season always triggers a change of mood, not always for the better though. The little bird nest on the tree top, a happy scene, yet reminds me of so many empty-nest families.

On 4/7/2011, I was feeling like down in the blue valley then up to the summit when I received this exhilarating picture. Its tender green color and cheerful light symbolize a spring renewal and a coming back to life once again. I post the picture here to remember the transient joy it once gave to me.

Enjoy the weekend before it ends.

1, Apr 8, 2011

Don’t Raise a High Maintenance Kid

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:50 am

On 3/19, on the way to her drawing lesson, I told my daughter it was difficult to serve her. In Chinese, it means,

Next I gave her some examples, which she admitted and promised to improve in this regard.

I have seen some high maintenance kids who are very particular about the way their meals are served and the special way they dress, which must be followed to the letter. A friend of mine had to buy meals for their son because they could not cook American food for him and he would not eat Chinese food.

High maintenance not only means more expense but also implies a lack of flexibility, in that it is difficult for these kids to make adjustment when they land in a new environment. Hence, wise parents know better than raising high maintenance kids.

1, Apr 7, 2011

“Hold on to the best parts of our youth as the years go by”

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:18 am

On 10/13/2010, I read this article on yahoo site, written by Jessica Ashley. The message is loud and clear — to improve your daily intellectual performance and reduce the risk for dementia in years to come, you need to get started right away and develop good brain habits now. Here are these good habits.

1. The key is learning something totally new. Acquiring new skills as we age will help keep us youthful. “Utilizing previously unused areas of the brain as one ages can help slow down, stop, and reverse some signs of brain aging,” e.g. learning a new language, taking music lessons to play a new instrument.

2. Work your body. Data strongly suggests that regular aerobic activity improves human brain power immediately and could protect us from major memory impairment in the long term. Even walking for 45 minutes a few times a week can make a difference.

3. Feed your body, but only until it is 80 percent full. Whether you want to recapture or hang on to your youthfulness, you’re going to have to pay more attention to the food and drink you put into your body. Eating 20% less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food, consume more vegetables.

4. De-stress, and soon. Stress-free is a must if you want to live a longer and healthy life.

5. Keep playing the classic games, just do them faster. Our intellectual skills change as we age, but our deductive reasoning and our base of knowledge improve. The changes and the challenge are that our attention, processing speed, short-term memory, and cognitive flexibility often slow. Regularly exercising mental muscles can help us stay healthier over time. Work on games that challenge our memory. Time yourself with the goal of getting faster each time.

6. Be social, but choose your friends wisely. Many studies have suggested that “being socially isolated has health risks on par with those of cigarette smoking.” It is equally important that you choose “the right tribe” to spend time with people. “…If you dine with people who eat healthy food, you’re more likely to eat healthy food, if the friends you spend most time with play a sport, you’re more likely to join them.”

7. Take control of your life by taking control of your clutter. That is, “the physical, emotional, and cognitive toll possessions can have on older people” To be sure, it is a mental, emotional and physical challenge to de-clutter ourselves from years of accumulation. However, “if we take control of the possessions we keep and validate what the stuff we discard meant about who we once were, we will be better prepared to move forward into the next chapter of our lives.”

I have shared these with my relatives in China and wait for great results.

1, Apr 6, 2011

Six Ways for a Healthy Brain

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:06 am

On 1/27/2011, I read an article by Sarah Baldauf, “6 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.” I was strucken by its simplicity, which makes it nice and easy to remember for people of my mother age.

1. Physical activity
2. Weight control
3. Mental challenges
4. Social connections
5. Healthy diet
6. Chronic disease control

Neil Buckholtz, chief of the dementias of aging branch at the National Institute on Aging, notes that “high blood pressure in old age is a very strong risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s later on, but if you can keep the blood pressure down, that decreases your risk.” And a study published in the journal Dementia & Geriatric Cognitive Disorders found that people in their 40s who had mildly elevated cholesterol were at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. A sizable body of evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes and heart disease affect the brain and perhaps the development or severity of Alzheimer’s.

1, Apr 5, 2011

The Smart Ones Set the Fashion and the Crowd Follows

Filed under: Economy — admin @ 12:36 am

On 10/13/2010, I had a monitor from Michigan. She is so different from the mainstream culture in her spending habit. First of all, she said she always bought things from Wal-Mart or wherever is cheaper. “I never spent more than $25 on a piece of clothing,” she declared proudly.

The loveliest part is her strong feeling against buying any designer stuff. She lampooned those who chased designer clothes or designer bags. “I am not like those suckers who work their butts off to spend $700 on a designer bag.” She really sees through it all when she said, “Those designers can live in their majestic mansions and drive their limousines because of all these stupid suckers [who are] willing to dump in their hard-earned money for these designer stuffs. Those designers suck every hard-earned penny out of those suckers so that they have everything they want.”

Nothing is more true than this. Once the smart ones set the fashion, the opposite ones follow to the letter. That is how the rich get rich and the poor stay this way forever. Too bad there are too many people who fall for this schema. That is how the social order is well maintained.

1, Apr 4, 2011

Confucius on Filial Piety

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:06 am


On 3/23/2011, when I talked to my mother over Skype, I asked her what she was doing. She told me she was reading newspaper on Confucian filial piety. “What did he say?” I asked.

Next she explained to me Confucius’ own words which is shaded in blue. Here’s the translation.

Ziyou asked Confucius what filial piety meant. Confucius answered, “Nowadays people understand piety piety as being able to support the parents. You can keep alive dog and horse. Yet, without a loving heart, what is the difference between keeping dog/horse and keeping parents?”

Zixia asked Confucius the same question. He answered, “It is difficult to attend to your parents’ need with a smile on your face.” That is, filial piety means you cannot serve your parents with a nasty attitude or trying to make your parents feel misery by throwing at them dirty looks, as if you were serving prison sentence instead of fulfilling your filial duties.

1, Apr 3, 2011

Five Areas of Brain Exercise

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:49 am

I love reading about brain, especially about having a bright brain. On 2/22/2011, I read about brain exercise from internet. Both parents and children can improve their brain quality by engaging the following areas of brain exercise.

(1) Memory. Having a better memory can help you remember names, find locations, and recall important information more quickly and accurately. Scientists have even tied memory to general intelligence.

(2) Attention. Landmark studies have shown that attention training has a meaningful impact on your ability to perform well on tests, at sports, and in other visually demanding activities. Better attention can also improve your ability to filter out distraction, thus increasing your productivity at work and home. Kids with better attention in class always perform well academically.

(3) Speed. Think fast. Exercising your mental processing speed can help you think more clearly and quickly, improve reaction time, and increase alertness and awareness. Brain speed training can help you become sharper at work, school and throughout your life.

(4) Flexibility. Switch things up with flexible thinking. Flexibility training can make multitasking a breeze, help you articulate your thoughts better, and give you the discipline to resist temptation. Getting better at flexibility can help improve your precision, cognitive control, and even your creative thinking.

(5) Problem Solving. Better problem solving skills can help you make quick, accurate decisions, gain a better ability to make mental estimates, comparisons, and calculations, not to mention more efficient thinking overall. Problem solving represents a diverse category of cognitive skills and abilities. Brain training can help you exercise and improve these abilities.

1, Apr 2, 2011

Set a Goal to Beat Down Depression

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:40 am

On 12/14/2010, after my daughter and I came back from a local library and Whole Foods store, I received a phone call from a friend of mine. I think she called just to chat. She is also a PhD holder in science, currently a high-paid IT professional with a nice house and two children. She told me she felt an emptiness and lost, not knowing what to do with her life. She wanted to hear what I was doing or planning to do, etc. I was very much tempted to say, “You would not feel empty if you were one of those homeless folks at this bitter winter night.” But I refrained from saying anything to this effect. Because that is not the root of or the solution to the problem.

I am not sure if this is winter blues or the so-called mid-life crisis, but I am confident that one would not feel empty if one constantly sets a goal to pursue in life, not in terms of material possession as she is obviously not in need of, but something you want to do to give meaning to your life, whatever meaning you define, as long as it makes sense to you.

I want to share this with my children and my readers so that they will have something to think about when they find themselves in this color mood.

P.S. my daughter went out of town with her school team for a state-level competition yesterday shortly after school. If their team survives state level, they can go national.

1, Apr 1, 2011

Raising a Great kid is Like Growing a Young Tree

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:50 am

I once shared this with my daughter, which she agreed heartily. If a parent notices something not right in her child, like some undesirable habit or something in the child’s temperament or character or even bad behavior, she should make great efforts to help the child improve or make change for the better. If she does not do it while the child is young, it is like seeing a young misshaped tree without doing anything to set it straight. Imagine how difficult, if it is ever possible, to straighten a mature tree.

I have seen adults with hard-to-change bad habit or defect in personality, like too shy or awkward socially or too lonely to make friends, which hurt their career or their relationships, and from which they suffer most. I once had a colleague back in 1999, a smart one in his mid-30s, shy and quiet. I learned that both he and his big brother had a hard time finding a date. I could easily see why. I am sure early intervention would have raised individuals with a rather different life experience.

A parent would do her child a lifelong disservice if she fails to straighten up her young child.

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