On 9/3/2011, I wrote to a young relative of mine in China, “… a bad job is always better than no job. You don’t increase your value as an employee by sitting at home doing nothing, and you don’t want to let time go by without increasing your value.” The same can be said of writing.
All the time, I have asked my daughter to practice writing, say a short piece a day for 30 minutes. She is more a perfectionist than I am, and that takes time. I told her if I were a perfectionist, I would not have time for churning out day after day.
In fact, writing does not have to be perfect, especially when you always run out of time. I told my daughter as long as she keeps it up, a less-perfect writing is better than no writing and her practice will get her closer to her goal. Haven’t you learned “Practice makes perfect?”
Last Sunday I read The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo, 2011, while waiting for my daughter at Barnes & Noble’s. Here are some of the notes that I took from the book.
“The more diverse our experience and knowledge, the more connections the brain can make. Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some, these lead to novel ideas.” p. 83.
“…they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was they’ve had more experiences than other people.”
“If you don’t have diverse experiences, you don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” p. 83
On 10/18/2011, I received the Gravity Defyer Ballistic shoe that I ordered a few days ago. I told my daughter, “This is the most expensive shoe that I have ever bought in my entire life. So this is a record-breaking event.”
When I was at office, some people introduced to me shoes like MBT, Ecco, and Clark. I have never cared about brand name shoe like that, as talks like this often remind me of the shoes that a Chinese friend’s daughter once bought. That girl spent over $100 on a pair of sandal when you can get one for less than $10 a pair and she was only a high school student! Even worse, her mother showed me two pairs of that.
But a few days ago when I was flipping through Discover magazine, I noticed the advertisement of Gravity Defyer Ballistic sneaker. The thing that attracts me is its claim, that is, it could “relieve your foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain.”
Talk about all these pains during my morning walk when I have a full taste of them all! As an exception to my usual stinginess, I decided to treat myself well this time with a pair of pain-killer shoe. And they are on sale with free shipping.
The next morning, 10/19, I jumped out of bed as soon as the alarm rang because I was eager to put on my new shoes and run. That truly gave me a good start for the day. It seems I have got what I paid for, at least psychologically, if that counts.
First, the world witnessed the 1992 Rodney King beating by the police. Now the whole world is watching police using pepper spray on the harmless students. Both were done by the police who are supposed to protect the peace-loving people. Both were captured by video and shared globally, thanks to the advancement of technology.
Talk about social control mechanism like laws or almighty God, when the lord is not watching the police, the technologies step in. They can capture any wrongdoings and expose it to the world instantly. So, be careful of the omnipresent eye of technology when you are so inclined to do wrong to others.
It has been raining since last night. We got up at 4 early in the morning to send my son to the airport for his 6 AM flight to NY. He called home around 8:30 AM upon his arrival there, thus happily ended this Thanksgiving holiday.
It was a short visit from late Wednesday afternoon to early Saturday evening. As usual, my daughter was not happy to see her brother leaving. I said, “Just be thankful that we had him for the Thanksgiving. He is always busy. Plus the hardship on the way, with ear-pop, having to get up insanely early, and being so tiresome on the airplane.”
As always, we talked and I feel assured once again to learn of his plan and effort, unremitting as before. I told him it was terrible to stay put, be bogged down and become a lifer in one place.
The biggest challenge is yourself, a product of your habitual way of thinking and getting things done. The inertia dictates us more powerfully than in natural world. It is a challenge to surpass yourself and see if you can think differently from yourself.
It is always a renewing experience for both my daughter and me, knowing what he will be doing and what he expects of us. We just keep doing the same thing, though being so far apart.
I had a wonderful time yesterday with a friend family joining us marking Thanksgiving day. I indulged myself playing with their young children. They reminded me so much of the time when my children were this young and always surrounded me like they did. That time has gone forever.
I heard a lot of this year’s black Friday shopping. I remember some people at my office planning to start the shopping rush early in the morning.
For me, this year’s black Friday is no different from last year and the year before. I shall not buy anything that I don’t need, simply because it is cheap. I will spend some time with my children, especially my son who will leave for New York early next morning.
When I have some time and energy left, I shall continue cleaning the house today.
What is the purpose of school? Learning? Socializing? Getting ready for a job? I believe school is relevant to your future success at least in one aspect.
With the absence of other records of accomplishments, people normally judge you by your school performance, that is your grades. Hence, if you want to impress people with your smartness, do well in the test, as if you are as smart as your test shows.
Unless you have some publicly recognized achievements like having hatched a product like facebook, you are trapped in the position where the judgment of others does matter.
Personally speaking, I like school but harbour an opposite feeling for teachers. Because I once suffered at the hand of teacher’s tyranny and injustice.
I wish I had met a teacher who inspired, encouraged, and guided me through the course of knowledge transferring. But then, there is no direct test on this. Hence, teachers only teach what is on the test. Beyond that, not many teachers care.
It’s the season to count our blessings.
First of all, my son is coming home today for Thanksgiving break. I am greatly thankful for this.
We will have a family friends come over tomorrow. Gathering with friend always adds joys to the festival.
With so many people unemployed, I am glad I still have a job to occupy.
Seeing young cancer patients at our clinics, I have to feel blessed for being healthy.
Let us hope we can all stay happy and healthy.
To be sure, those occupiers deserve great sympathy as they obvously have no job to occupy and have plenty of free-flowing energy and time to spend on the street. There is no denial that their grievances are genuine. I feel even more sorry for them when cold winter is threatening.
Yet, it is misguided because from very beginning they have never been able to come up with a well-laid out program that contains a clear goal, feasible routes and concrete action plan to reach their goal. It is like setting out on a journey but have no idea of their destination. Things will take a downward turn when thousands of young hotheaded folks jump in, like headless flies.
So far, they have not touched anything deeper than the symptoms of the large scale social issues that pulled them together, that is, the widening gap between the rich and the poor and the jobless situation. Until they have worked out a good guiding program, the OWS will not get anywhere.
The take-home message for all of us is whatever we want to pour our time and energy into, if we don’t want to waste our lives, we must have a goal and a feasible action plan to reach our goal.
It was cold and dark when I got up yesterday morning. I hesitated for a while before I got up. I waited for sometime before I stepped out. By the time I was outside, it was very cold, no longer dark though.
I walked and ran for two miles without seeing a soul. In the evening around 6 pm when I took my daughter to bookstore, the store seemed empty.
After we got back home, I mentioned this to my daughter, “Why were there so few people at Barnes & Noble’s?” She was not sure why. I told her my early morning walk. “There were very few people because it was cold and people stay indoor as much as they can. That’s how winter fat is accumulated.”
Indeed, going outside in winter either for a walk or for bookstore seem to be an uncomfortable challenge to many people. That’s where a strong will power plays a key role.
During the last weekend of October, both my daughter and I read the 10/31/2011 issue of Time magazine. She made several comments on some of the articles there.
On this article “I Owe U: Student debt is on track to top $1 trillion this year. What happens when diplomas stop opening doors?,” the author lists many sad cases in which students incur tremendous amount of debts, yet upon graduation, unable to find a job or well-paid one to meet its debt obligations.
“OMG, how could one borrow nearly $170, 000 to study documentary filmmaking? You can’t even find a job with that major. How can you pay off your debts if you don’t have a job?” my daughter commented. The sad part is we have too many unfortunate cases like this.
While I applaud for those who chase their dreams and follow their passions, regardless of the cost, I lament the hard consequence of this impractical approach to life. I believe they are much better off chasing something practical if they cannot excel by a giant step in their dream yet not-marketable field. After all, one needs food and shelter and a decent human existence before anything else.
On 9/24/2011, I read an online article “5 Mistakes I Continue To Make in My Marriage,” by Gretchen Rubin, coming out on Thu Sep 22, 2011. Here’s the author’s list and my comments.
(1) Demanding gold stars. A typical elementary school behavior. Oh, how I crave appreciation and recognition! As if no praise means your work is unappreciated.
(2) Using a snappish tone. Have a very short fuse and become irritable extremely easily, as if you were talking to your parents who can always tolerate whatever nasty attitude you throw at them. Or expect your partner to tolerate or baby you as your parents once did.
(3) Not showing enough consideration. In other words, inconsiderate and selfish. I don’t care if I hurt your feeling as long as it makes me feel good to pour out whatever in my mind.
(4) Score-keeping. Afraid you do more than your partner does or you are at losing end of bargain game.
(5) Taking for granted either your partner or the kindness of your partner, or as if your partner should serve you. A revised version of entitlement.
As a rule, the only one who is willing to serve you whole-heartily without any complaint is your mother. Another golden rule: your partner is not your mother.
To be sure, a good marriage helps create great people, bringing out divinity in each other. A bad one brings out the beast in human. If you want happiness, do your share of good job and avoid the above five mistakes.
This is one of the articles that I read in March 2010.
I often hear in my office from these married wives — “It’s all girl’s night out” or “I will go shopping with a couple of my girlfriends.” They seem being excited over the idea of going out with friends. This is exactly what the article says — “There’s nothing like a friend’s company.”
We often take things for granted in our lives, even with friendship. Friends are not like family members. They have their own careers, obligations and commitments, responsibility with their own families. Very often, they come and go based on their needs.
Hence, it is more difficult for adults to develop and maintain friendship. And that’s why people begin to appreciate friendship more than ever after a decade or two into their marriage life.
For people of all ages, friendship is a precious gift that only we can give to ourselves by being a friend to others. Don’t go through life without it.
On 10/18/2011, we received a letter and a check in the amount of $997.67 from Hanovor Inc. Vancouver, BC, Canada.
The letter starts with this. “Congratulation! You have been
selected as a lucky winner of the $9700 cash prize… Please note this may be your final notice. Kindly contact Mary Grey at 905-xxx-xxxx for further details regarding your prize.”
“…it is a valid cheque, but it has NOT been activated and funds will NOT be made available to you UNTIL YOU CALL US to confirm you have received it.”
If it sounds too good to be true, it is not true. So I did a google search for “scam hanover.” Within 0.35 seconds, about 1,470,000 results came back. I searched it on FBI site and also found a handful of its reports.
I shared it with my daughter, hoping we both learned something from this. My daughter said jokingly “Oh, too bad I could buy so many clothes with this money.”
Yesterday I read an internal circulation with a list of employees who have hit 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 or 25 employment milestones. I know three people who have been with the company for 10 years, one hit 15 years milestone, another 20 years.
It is amazing that one person has made a leap forward from receptionist to managerial position in a decade, while most people stay the same throughout their employment years. It is very dreadful to picture myself doing the same thing when I hit 10-year milestone. I will make sure the horrible thing won’t happen.
The day before yesterday when I talked to my son over the phone, he revealed his intention of moving on to a new company with a new challenge. He has been with the current one for about four months. He thinks he has learned what is needed to get the job done. When the daily task ceases to be a challenge, it’s time to move on. For him, the job provides a platform for individual development, a stepstone to something better, and the preparation for a higher order…
I am a proud mom.
Thought for the day.
On the surface, the daily trip to the office is never as glamorous as an epic event. It can be very banal and mundane. It can wear away your life quietly before you notice it. For me, the trick is coming to the office everyday and thinking of the changes that I have in my mind and the day when I don’t have to come or I come as a different person. The terrible thing is stopping or forgetting to think.
For the majority of people, they face the dilemma of coming to work physically but not wanting to mentally, the need to be here and the reluctance of doing so. You seldom hear people talk with enthusiasm about their work, instead you hear people ask “Is it Friday?” on Monday morning and hence we have the restaurant TGIF — Thank God It’s Friday.
The challenge is to enjoy the process of doing or pretend enjoying without losing sight of the large picture and a bigger goal. I know it is so easy to say or think about it than the real action.
Last Friday, 11/11/2011, was Veteran Day in US. For some reason, I thought of those soldiers who gave their lives for what they believed to be the just cause or the cause of their motherland. They were, according to Jose marti, the glorious ones who had in their hearts the cause of their motherland. On the other hand, Marti believed, the vain ones are those who watch their names.
Throughout my education and socialization process, I was taught it was a shameful thing to seek personal glory. Individualism got a bad rap when we were supposed to strive for the cause of our country.
In spite of those early years of indoctrination, for me, seeking personal glory and rugged individualism still create a stir in my heart and motivate me to go above and beyond.
Be it vain or glorious, I see it a matter of interpretation. By the end of the day, only the life of a seeker is a worthy and glorious one, whatever interpretation one is inclined to give.
On 9/7/2011, I read a report by The American Cancer Society (ACS). It reveals that while the number of white Americans contracting cancer is decreasing, African Americans remain unchanged, still having the highest cancer rates in America. Even worse is the fact that they are more likely to die of cancer than any other ethnic group.
From my own observations, the main explanation is their low socioeconomic status. There is a heavy overlapping of race and social class in that you find a heavy concentration of blacks in both prisons and among low social class. Very often, a person from poor background postpones seeking medical help when she feels lump in her breast. By the time she shows herself at a doctor’s door, her disease is very often at a late stage and she misses her survival chance.
Another health factor associated with social class is ignorance, that is lack of knowledge of healthy living leading to many avoidable diseases. Once again, the lower the social order, the less likely a person is aware of healthy living.
Alas, how dreadful it is to be poor and sick at the same time! Pick one instead. Better still, be wealthy and healthy!
On 10/10/2011, after I got my daughter back from school, she took an hour nap while I prepared her tea and food. After she got up, I took her to Barnes&Noble bookstore on Towncenter, where she prepared for the coming PSAT.
The next day, 10/11, we did the same thing except we went to the bookstore at Oak Park Mall, where she could find PSAT practice book.
She was going to take this exam on 10/12. I told her taking this and other exams was like playing games. All games have rules. To play well, you must know the rule and go by it. A smart student is good at finding out the rule of the game and play to her advantage.
It happened before. It will happen again.
When I was sharing office with three other female coworkers in 2007 and throughout 2008, I was rather dismayed to have observed some extremely unpleasant events around me. My past workplaces have been primarily male dominant. This was the first time that I was in an all female office. Call it American culture 101. In fact, when I look back, I feel throughout my life, I have never been surrounded by so many females.
Here’s what must happen among these female coworkers. Whenever one of them was out of the room, the other two lost no time in gossiping about the absent one. The worst part was they all worn a super friendly mask when facing each other, fully exemplifying the concept of hypocrisy. Of course, they missed no chance backstabbing me whenever they got a chance. And I was always zen enough not to be disturbed by the goings-on around me.
Yesterday, I learned that two of them were going to hang out with our ex-manager, whom they were never tired of unfavorably gossiping about.
I try to find it amusing, but more often than not, I wish I could run away from this work environment.
In line with my postings on 10/5-6 on comfort zone and choice we make everyday, on 10/9, Sunday afternoon I was reading Amy Chua’s tiger mom book again while staying at Barnes & Noble’s with my daughter.
Chua also talks about choice, how many American parents allow their children the freedom to choose while Chinese ones choose for their children. On the surface, it sounds like Chinese families are so void of democracy and freedom.
On the deeper level, if you consider the harm and benefit of freedom to choose, you will be able to appreciate Chua’s parenting.
When people are free to choose between fun and work, play and study, very few will forsake fun and play and willingly take up the hard work. In our tendency to avoid hardships, adults and children are no different.
Parents help their children choose the road filled with hard work when the kids are young. Consequently, the children are more accomplished, self-confident, and capable and ready for the challenges ahead. They make this choice for their children because they are responsible parents and they don’t want to trash or shortchange their children’s future.
This is from a piece of note that I wrote on an index card long time ago. It is supposed to be an advice on dealing with people. It sounds a bit insincere, though they are totally true.
(1) Be a good listener (as if you are interested in it).
(2) Show genuine interest in others.
(3) Never hurt people’s feeling
(4) Don’t try to show others that you are smarter than them. Nobody is interested in it.
(5) Make others feel important (just to satisfy people’s vanity).
True great people never act haughty. Instead, they tend to be protective of the weak group.
Friendship means responsibility. Never view it as opportunity, though your act of friendship opens more doors for you.
Back in 2007, I read an article in Chinese on over-controlling parents. I have kept this article all the time. Now I am going to deep six it after this posting.
(1) Interfere in children’s play time
(2) Always tell children what they should eat
(3) Say too much over children’s dress
(4) Tell children how they should do their homework
(5) Bargain with children’s teachers about grade
(6) Teach children how to compete
(7) Frequently call children during day time
(8) Ask children to report the happenings at school in detail
(9) Peep in children’s privacy
(10) Have decided what college they should get into when children are in elementary school
If you find yourself possessing all of these controlling signs, I would suggest you go to see a psychiatrist for your own mental disorder. No mentally unhealthy person can become a sound parent.
On 8/4/2011, I chatted with a monitor from Wisconsin. She has two boys. Unfortunately, the first one is autistic. Even worse is the second one who is perfectly normal wants to behave like he were also autistic, doubling the amount of work for the parents.
I am sure the second child will grow up normal like the rest of us, only he has an autistic elder to emulate in his childhood and that definitely has a huge impact on his life.
This incident reminds me of the theory on birth order. What would happen if the younger one were autistic instead of the older one? Will the older one emulate his autistic younger brother or will he become mature early and assume some responsibility in helping his parents taking care of his younger brother? I have no doubt the result would be vastly different from what it is now.
Yesterday when I was at Barnes & Noble’s bookstore with my daughter, I met another Chinese parent with two boys, the elder one being first year of high school.
When talking about her children, she had a rather laissez-faire style, getting as little involvement as possible, allowing the children to develop freely.
“Have fun in high school. Enjoy your high school life,” she thus encouraged her child. “I don’t need the children to bring honor to the family. After college, they are on their own,” she said.
I was very impressed by her light-hearted and easy-going approach, a sharp contrast to Tiger Mom. Then again, she reminds me of a relative of mine who adopted similar parenting attitude when her son was young and had to continue providing for her son’s care many years after college.
On 10/4/2011, I chatted with a friend of mine over the phone during lunch hour. As always, we talked about education, my favorite topic. Not long before that, I read a white house April report on Latino children in school.
=> less than 50% of them are enrolled in pre-school;
=> just 50% earn their high school diploma on time;
=> half of those high school graduates are prepared for college;
=> 13% of them have a degree beyond high school
Consider these demographical facts:
=> Hispanics are the youngest and fastest growing group in US.
=> They make up 16% of the population now
=> The number will increase to 29% of the population by 2050.
Imagine the large army of future citizens trapped in low class because of their inadequate education!
People painfully offer many explanations and solutions to this problem, such as, language barrier, unfavorable immigration status, etc. However, none of them touch the essence of the issue. I might sound politically incorrect, but be it. The Latino education problem is inherent in their culture. No big change is possible without an overhaul of that culture.
The population comes with the burden of their culture. Asian population with similar language and immigration obstacles register much higher level of education because Asian cultures, be it India or China or Japan or Korea, all place education as their top priority in their families.
Here’s a sneak preview of coming attraction. With nearly one third of the US population being Hispanics by 2050 with their dominant culture and their lack of education, what is in stock for America to compete with cultures that emphasize education and churn out large pools of highly intelligent heads?
On May 30, the Memorial day evening, I took my daughter to Barnes & Noble’s. We stayed there till the bookstore closed at 8 PM, which was earlier than normal day. From there, we went to Target for a walk. After we got back, I said to her “I wish there were something to cheer me up.” My daughter said, “Work hard.”
For a long time, her words echoed in my head, with lots of happy associations. Even if I have not worked hard, the thought of “work hard” did cheer me up. Now I truly believe work is the best medicine if your illness comes from your mind.
I record it here for myself and for my children. Any time you feel down because of lack of accomplishments or goal not reached, the only remedy for this is “work hard.”
“Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.” Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx by Friederich Engel (1883)
It is so easy to forget this simple truth. Great civilization could not be developed without the abundance of material wealth. If a person or a nation is preoccupied with feeding his stomach and seeking shelters, he is left no time for anything else. This may explain why there is no similarly great civilization in Africa.
To create great art and music, one must first be able to rise above the need to scramble for bare existence. Without the extra material or the surplus time and resource, all remains empty talks.
Good sayings — I dug them out back in August, copied them down before I threw it away.
Kind words can be short, but their echoes are long.
Lucky is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
The most important part of communication is to hear what is not being said.
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.
The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.
On 8/23, I told my daughter that the least quality that a man is expected to possess is responsibility at work and at home. I have seen too much lack of it among male folks.
She asked me why I did not expect a woman to be responsible. I said, “A woman can do something that no man can, that is, giving birth. A man should keep in mind that she is at her weakest moment in her life and needs him most when she makes the greatest contribution to their family, at the moment of giving birth to his child. This is also the touchstone of a man’s responsibility.”
Moreover, stay away from he who believes giving birth is the only thing that a woman can do.
On 7/7/2011, I went shopping with my relatives in China. I was looking at gold jewelries and that made me think of life and gold-digging.
Life is a gold mire with very few gold nuggets buried among countless grains of sand. When we spend a large part of our lives chasing the endlesss grains of sand, our eyes get used to the sand and we are more likely to lose sight of the gold. Isn’t that horrible when our minds are locked in trivials and our visions are no farther than our arm’s length?
I keep reminding my children — don’t major in minor. Eye on the big prize.