A New Year Resolution from Office


On 1/10/2012, I saw this New Year Resolution at our clinic. I thought it funny, though it suffers from lack of specification. I add my comments in brackets.

(1) Lose weight (how many pounds)
(2) Exercise more (how much more, 3 times per week?)
(3) Drink more water (how many cups?)
(4) Quit smoking
(5) Go to bed earlier (how earlier?)
(6) Pay off credit cards
(7) Phone mom (how frequent)
(8) Remember birthdays (nice thought)



The Cut-Throat Fight Over Party Nomination Diminishes All


American politicians put on their most absurd show in Florida when two GOP front-runners are fighting over GOP nomination. The pettiness, the relentlessness, the desperate, the untrue nature and the exchange of slandering words all for the purpose of defeating the opponent have gone beyond the accepted manner of political campaign. I can’t believe their focus has been on attacking each other instead of on economy, the way to reduce nation’s deficit and issues that are more important than their mutual attacks.

It doesn’t matter who emerges it as the winner. The victory already tastes bitter and the winner has already suffered as the result because of the dirty means through which the victory is won.

The whole battle looks more like dog fights. It makes me wonder if it is worthwhile to go for the fight in the first place. Winner or loser, I doubt the persons going through this process will be judged favorably by history.



Keep the Momentum to Avoid the Onset of Inertia


Yesterday morning, my daughter and I went out for a walk. I told her one of my discoveries that I made during my daily morning exercise.

I found it was a lot easy to keep on jogging than stopping for a second and then resuming it. Once I stopped, I found it hard to resume it. She said it was called inertia. The strange thing is while I am running, I don’t find it hard to stop. In fact, I always welcome the idea of stopping. It seems inertia works only one-way, that is, you encounter resistance only when you move forward or move from rest to action or from an easy stage to a difficult one.

It seems our natural tendency is to slip into an easy stage whenever possible, just as water flows downward effortlessly. It takes some effort to reverse the inertia or natural downward movement.

For me, I have learned it is better to keep the momentum if you don’t want to encounter inertia and make an extra effort to conquer it. No wonder people say it is better to get all the degrees you want in one breath instead of taking a few years off.

P.S. we went to Nelson Atkins Museum of Art yesterday. It was a delighted experience.



Doctors and Monitors, Between Kings and Queens


Here’s a peep into the world that I live in. Among others, it consists of doctors and monitors, which I would not put down as the world of jungles because it is a more delicate and civilized one than that. To be sure, they all carry around in their manner a 1000 times enlarged image of themselves, not to be treated slightly. On Tuesday, August 16, 2011, two monitors were scheduled to come and meet the principle investigator (PI) for the study. Our doctor came over twice to see if they had come. The monitors were late for their appointment with our doctor.

Instead of giving them a chance to push their way around as they always do, as soon as I saw the monitors, I told them our doctor was waiting for them the whole time and now was with the patient. They missed their appointment and would have to make another one. That was final. They made a trip here for nothing! I felt a bit sorry but couldn’t help.

After that, I wrote to the doctor, “The monitors said they were sorry that they were nearly 15 minutes late for the appointment with you. I reinforced to them the importance of keeping their appointment with our doctors. I am sure they have learned their lesson.” To this, the doctor replied, “well done, thanks. you are right, part of scheduling an appt is so I can set aside time for them.”

Between doctors and monitors, I always stand by our doctors. As I have to see them everyday, I need to have a good working relationship with them. Plus, it is not a good practice to please outsiders at the cost of insiders.



Adversity: You Can Either Rise Or Sink


Samantha Garvey, once a homeless high school senior and living in a shelter, captured people’s attention when she became a semi-finalist for Intel Science competition. She was admitted by one of the top schools and was invited to attend State of the Union.

I think of thousands of well-provided kids and their lack of achievements. What matters in the end is not material conditions but the will to achieve.

In face of life’s adversities, one could either rise or sink. She has conquered this adversity and provided “an example of perseverance in the face of adversity.” I hope my children will remember this real-life story.



Technology, Addiction, Imagine Life Without Cell Phone


There are always some strange rules at our office. One is personal items like purses, cell phones, keys are not supposed to be out in the open. That’s how I often violate the rule by putting my personal items out in the open. For if I hide my cell phone somewhere, most likely I will forget taking it when I leave for home.

Last Thursday, when I told two of my colleagues that once I forgot my cell phone on Friday and the whole weekend was gone without the phone, both of them said it was horrible as they couldn’t imagine a day without cell phone.

Last Saturday, two friends came over in the afternoon. One of them just bought Sprint’s iphone and was eager to show me the various functions and features of her new phone. From the conversation, I have a sense that this friend of mine was very much addicted to her iphone. She told me I should buy this phone.

I did not tell her that my daughter took my phone with her to Manhattan since the day before and my life went perfectly all right without it. Cell phone became part of our life only a few years ago. It is amazing how quickly people become addicted to it and forget how life used to be without it. One more addiction to guard against.



Reading, Thinking, More Practice Prerequisites To Good Writing


Recently I have been involved with a lot of writing, either on the topic of writing or skill of writing or simple writing itself. I must say that I have never given so much thought on this topic as I have done lately.

You would expect me to come up with some quick trick or good tips. Unfortunately, when I think hard of the long path that I have taken, like reaching to the top in any field, there is really no shortcuts except 99% of perspiration.

However, I do realize there are some key ingredients in good writing: reading, writing, and thinking.

(1) Reading. Get in the habit of reading not for pure entertainment. Read to argue with the author and to figure out what is going on in the mind of the author. Are you convinced by his writing? Is he talking nonsense all the time?

(2) Write as often as possible. It doesn’t matter what you write and how good or bad you write. You won’t see any improvement until you practice writing at least twice per week or more often. I remember my father used to ask me to write a piece after each movie or book and I did it even though I resented it.

(3) Good writing comes with certain degree of maturity, mainly in thinking analytically and critically. Eventually, this analytical and critical thinking ability will lead to really good writing.



Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of Dragon


Yesterday was the first day of the dragon year. I went to work as usual without expecting anything out of ordinary. We had a site initiation meeting at another location. So I didn’t get to my office until 10 AM.

The first email came from a friend of mine from another clinic, wishing me happy new year and asking me how I would celebrate it. It simply warmed my heart when I heard from a friend whom I have not contacted for a long time. I also felt guilty when I thought how often I fail to remember friends especially during holidays. We had a few email exchanges like old friends, though it has been a long time since our last exchange.

In the evening, two friends called, making the day more like a festival. I let myself indulged in a chatting mood. Later, a friend came over for the same purpose, with some gifts. I was simply speechless, feeling even more unworthy.

Now, I truly feel that no festival is complete without a bunch of friends, who are thinking of you and sending you good wishes, just as a good friend of mine said “Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.”



Good Writing Skill Essential to Success in a Medical Field


Today is the deadline for my daughter to submit her application for a summer program. She needs to submit not one but six essays. She has been working hard to get them ready.

On 1/15, a local friend called, chatting with me about college major. She said her daughter’s writing was outstanding, thus she wanted her daughter to go into medical field. When I asked her what writing had to do with being a doctor, she herself being a doctor told me a good writing skill was very essential to being a qualified doctor. This is the first time that I learned of this.

On 1/16, Martin Luther King Day, a friend of mine called from out of state about SAT essay. Her child is confident with both math and verbal sections but not with essay. She asked for a sample essay that my children once did.

Now, I am more than ever convinced that one needs to write well no matter what one wants to engage. Writing helps raise you to a new level of consciousness and thus live a life worth living. By the way, I am still trying to figure the relationship between writing and being a doctor. Maybe I am not a doctor because I am not a good writer or something more fallacious than this.



Adventure, New Experience and the Young People


On 1/10/2012, I left home around 8 AM driving to KC Star in downtown area. As I was driving through the unfamiliar streets, though with a map, I had a rather uneasy feeling, not because of fear of getting lost but because the area looked totally strange to me. This uneasy feeling made me think of the time when my daughter was in New York.

Later that day, on the way to the main library, I asked my daughter if she had the same feeling when she was in New York. “No,” she said because she was with her brother and his girlfriend. She felt more excited than anything else.

I told her it was also because she was young, eager to have new experience and to taste adventures. Also, the younger you are, the more adaptable you are.

The familiar area seems to provide a sense of security or a comfort zone. As people get in age, it must be hard for them to break out of their comfort zone.



Lack of Patience When Talking With People With Foreign Accents


Last Thursday, 1/19/2012, I went post office to pick up a package that my daughter ordered online. There were plenty of customers with only one postal worker around. To make things worse, this one talks with a foreign accent.

I saw a young lady got impatient when there seemed to have a misunderstanding between she and the postal worker. The postal one seemed to answer a question that was not what the lady asked. “Oh, never mind, forget it.” With that, she left, looking more than upset with the postal worker. The postal worker looked hurt and red-faced.

I feel sorry for the postal worker, who actually speaks much better English than I do. I am sure with a little patience she has no problem communicating with her customers. Back home, I shared this part of experience with my daughter, hoping she could be patient when she talks with people with foreign accents.



When My Daughter Goes to Manhattan, Kansas


Today is Friday, the 20th. My daughter will go to Manhattan with her school for a state competition. If the team makes it, they will go to national this year. This morning, she took with her my laptop and cell phone, as her laptop is still at Apple store.

Yesterday evening, as I prepared her snack, she asked, “Mom, what would you do if I am not here?” Well, she must have seen me busy around her, attending her various needs when she is home and came up with this question.

It gives me a warm feeling that she has noticed this and cared enough to ask. Actually, she knows that I have many plans and many things to do. At least, she knows the house is in serious need of cleaning. Only I seldom have time for these small items and big projects.

Instead of going to her school right after work at 3:30 pm, here’s what I will do today:
(1) take a walk or jogging;
(2) sort through a pile of documents to see how much paper junks that I can get rid of;
(3) get ready 2011 tax filing documents;
(4) dinner, probably not?
(5) read;
(6) if I still have energy left, I might do some cleaning to get the house ready for Spring Festival.



Build Your Underpinnings, Spiritual and Emotional


Build your underpinnings, either spiritual or emotional or both that you can always find meaning, peace and comfort.

A friend of mine, who was married, without children and quit her job to join her husband, has found herself unable to get over the sadness over the loss of her mother in March 2009. She came over to visit us in July 2009.

She has since tried many mechanisms to pull herself out of this sadness. Recently she tried some church association. I told her to go for it as long as it helped. Whether or not she will be converted to Christianity is not the issue, at least this can be something that keeps her occupied.

I have no doubt her period of grief would be much shortened, had she had either children or her career or a strong belief. I believe a person needs some type of support system to tide over any crisis on his life’s journey, be it his children, career, church, or whatever that may play that function.

Build your own system before you are in actual dire need of one.



The Constant Battle Against Mental Decline


Every time my eyes are caught by some tips or tricks promising to keep our mind sharp in our senior years, I cannot help stop everything and take it down. On 1/11/2012, I read an article that offers tips to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. These tips look familiar to me as I read elsewhere similar ones. Still, I have to keep them here, for fear of forgetting them.

Exercise outside
Eat Vegetables and Fruits
Increase your Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oil)
Drink Vegetable Juice
Reduce Your Weight
Have good night sleep
Control Your Blood Pressure
Enjoy Activities that Stimulate Your Mind (take classes)
Drink Green Tea
Eat more watermelon.
No smoking
Drink apple juice
Eat cinnamon
Socialize (friends)
Protect your vision
Meditation
Take Mediterranean diet


Why I Want a Reflection after an Event


On 1/12/2012, Thursday, I talked to a young relative of mine, currently in Houston, Texas. He arrived in New York in mid July. He thought he could get into a graduate program upon completion of English training. Toward the end of the training in October, he was informed by the school that his GMAT score was not high enough. He needed to re-take it. So he did on 12/19, which did not meet the school’s requirement. At this moment he only had less than a month before his legal status expired. After a rather hectic rush and through a family friend, finally he was admitted by an university in Houston and arrived there on 1/11/2012, the day before spring semester began.

I asked the young man to write a reflection on the whole experience. He asked why. Obviously, he is not sure of the need and the reason for looking back, as he wants to put all this behind him so that he can move ahead with a fresh start.

To be sure, our narrative of our past experiences reveals our understanding of this experience as well as our explanation as why things have gone the way it is. Furthermore, a year or two later, when you look at your own narrative, you will surely have a new version of explanation and fresh understanding.

Other than making an effort not to repeat past mistake, a reflection will enable us to see how we grow and mature over time when we read our own narrative of our past experience. We might enlighten ourselves through our own writing. Specifically, become more mature and responsible — this is what I want to see in him through this reflection. This much I have for him and for my children.



In America Children Have Too Many No School Days


Today is Martin Luther King day. No school today. Our office also closes for the day.

Children’s attitude toward no-school day is a sign of their growing up and become mature. I remember my daughter used to be excited about any no-school days. She even expected a lot of bad weather days so that there would be more no-school days.

To her, it meant no homework, nothing but play. Even after I told her to work on some long-term projects during these no-school days, she still expected no school days somewhat to be relaxing, insisting no-school meant no work. Thank goodness, she has outgrown this attitude, a sign of being mature and responsible.

I used to complain a lot about American kids having too many no-school play days. I still think so. But then, if teachers leave children to the parents, it is up to the parents to make most of these idle days. After all these years of dealing with teachers and schools here, I have come to this conclusion: for your child’s education and his future, you really cannot count on any schools or teachers.



Old Postings and Memories of the Past


On 1/9, the day before I went to KC Star, I went through postings here, thinking I could better organize them and then archive the old ones. As I read some of them, the contents seem so familiar, as if I wrote them a few days ago. But when I looked at posting date, I was rather shocked to find them coming out either three or two years ago.

My mind was instantly filled with memories of sitting in HyVee grocery store, reading magazines, waiting for my daughter’s art lessons or chatting with some friends while my daughter was skating.

I remember vividly when I was in elementary school, I avoided touching old notebooks for fear of the memories associated with these old stuffs. For some reason, starting from very young age, I was keenly aware of the fact that the past would never be back.

Oh well, I still cannot believe we are already in year 2012. It is rather sad to realize that pretty soon the 2010 and 2011 postings will join those before them and become part of the historical past.

“Time and tide wait for no man” — the warning rings in my ear, almost automatically. Therefore, value today, enjoy every minute of what we have, cram more into our limited time as if we can stretch it longer.



Never Say Never; Never Give Up


To my children–

If you fail in a test,
If you lose a contest,
If you get a bad grade,
If you have not made it to the top,
If you were not happy with one course,
If you are given a need-improvement evaluation,
If you think so much depend upon but you didn’t make it,
Remember these words–
Never say never,
Never give up,
Resilient and
Keep trying.
The future is yours, as long as
You don’t give up, as long as
You always give your best.
You are never lost until you stop trying your best.

Life is a skyscraper,
Its bricks being the tests we face everyday.
Build it with the best-quality bricks, for
Life itself is the biggest test of all,
Graded not by any teacher but by yourself.



Urinating on Dead Bodies, Technologies Captured It Again


On 11/27/2011, I published one on police using pepper spray on the harmless students. Now technologies captured and shared with the world something equally shocking, if not more tasteless. It is amazing people never learn anything and never get better. I heard people offer this or that explanation or excuses on these stressed-out U.S. soldiers, as if they needed to relax before moving on to more killings. Didn’t they know that they might be the next ones lying there dead the next day and their enemies might learn something from them?

Many images rush to my head–enemies, human beings, the loved ones of the dead ones, war, soldier, young and stupid, fun, prank, respect, dignity, “moral height,” but none of them make sense to me. It represents much worse than the highest level of stupidity, brainless idiocy. I am speechless.



Grade, Hope and A Second Chance, A Teacher is more than a Teacher


When I was a teacher, I knew I was not just lashing out grades to my students. I thought of long-term percussion of my grading, knowing a bad grade would follow my students for all their lives. Some students never came to me, asking for a second chance. But for those who did, I knew they cared and I never refused them.

I talked to them, making them understand that I could give them a second chance but in real life they might not have the luck to meet people who are willing to give them this second chance, therefore they might end up having a bad mark in their record for all their lives.

I might not be a good teacher but in the long run, when students look back and reflect upon this, they will learn a lesson, heavier than a grade. I knew I was working with young people and they have a long way to go in their lives. Don’t we have the saying — “young and foolish”? I don’t want their youthful foolishness follow them all the way.

If a student thinks he were a loser because of a bad grade, he would give up trying and start heading downhill. What happens next is he will slip to the bottom faster than he has thought. I would do anything to prevent this downward movement.

The tragedy is not many teachers realize this downward triggering role that they can play in a student’s life.



Reflection, Know Yourself and Confidence


1/8/2012. It was already 8 days down into the new year and I was still pounding on my daughter for her 2011 year-end reflection. We had some busy days last December when my son and his girlfriend came back and my daughter went to NY with them. And that put a brake on many things.

I explained to my daughter the importance of this reflection. When you look back, over the past year, there must be something that makes you smile and proud of yourself and something you’d rather forget.

If you want to keep doing things that have made you happy or avoid doing things that has made you feel the opposite, this reflection will help you chart your future path with clarity, knowledge and confidence. I also want her to get into the habit of this kind of reflection.



Fun Time When a Child Is Not in the Mood for Study


Last Saturday, on the way back from Barnes & Noble where my daughter stayed for the afternoon working on Acadec preparation, I asked her a question. What would you do to a child if he, after throwing a temper, refused to do his work? She said “That sounds like me. Are you sure you are not talking about me?”

“Would you let the child play since he would not study and you might as well let him have some good time?” I asked.
“No, that sounds like encouraging the child to throw a temper, knowing the consequence would be play time,” she said.
“I would let him play because he would be in good mood after some fun time. Then you can talk to him and he is more willing to listen when he is in good mood.” I explained.
“That makes sense. After all, you still need to talk to him,” she agreed.

Another reason is this. The fact that you let the child play instead of punishing him for throwing a temper demonstrates your kindness and forgiving, which should in turn touch the child and creates a sense of guilt for having behaved badly, that is, if the child is good. Sometimes, punishment can yield opposite result. I would use it sparingly in good children.



The Decision to Get Into Medical Field


On 1/5/2012, a monitor from Portland, Oregon came. As usual, we chatted a little bit before we started getting serious on our work. We talked about jobs and college major. She asked me if my children would consider medical major. There seem plenty of jobs in healthcare.

I shared with her my view on going into medical field. During gatherings with friends, I heard some parents also talk about their children being doctors.

I believe becoming a doctor implies a strong commitment. It normally takes at least 11 years to get through the basic training and residence, not to speak of the huge sum of money to go into medical school. For one thing, without a real passion for it, it will be a real torture to go through such a lengthy period. For another, it would be a colossal waste if, half way or by the end of the long journey, you change your mind and change the direction to something unrelated to medicine.

I have tremendous respect for those in the medical field. Still I would not recommend this profession unless one is genuinely committed to it.



Writing Makes an Exact Man


“Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man”. Francis Bacon. I am sure readers will say “Here she goes again.” Indeed, I love these words by Bacon, though I am not sure if my understanding of these words matches Bacon’s original intention.

On 1/4/2012, a friend of mine told me she was going to keep a journal as part of her new year resolution. That evening on the way to Barnes & Noble’s I mentioned this to my daughter. Once again I emphasized to her the importance of good writing and the weight of constant practice, hoping she would pick up the hint.

I am not sure if I could survive the second round for the columnist position if I had not kept posting here. At least the speed has caught up greatly since the onset of the site. She agreed with my comment and was going to give it a try.

My son told me he was still working on his new year resolution. I am glad he is going to give it a hard thought. I hope he will have some reading and writing in his resolution. After all, don’t we all want to be full, ready and exact persons as Bacon defined?



Columnist, Good Writing, Something to be Proud of


On 12/19/2011, I saw on KCStar site a job posting for 2012 Midwest Voice/Editorial page columnist. I didn’t know when the opening was out, but 12/19 was the last day. So I spent half an hour and sent out the following:
(1) my short biography
(2) my contact information
(3) my political stands
(4) five future column ideas
(5) my writing samples

To my surprise, on 12/30/2011, I received an email telling me that I was “a contender among our finalists.” I needed to send a 600-word column. So they had it on 1/1/2012. Yesterday I was informed that I was the finalist. A pleasant surprise!

I am glad I have done something that my children will be proud of.



Friends Double the Holiday Joys


During the year-end holiday season, other than a few gatherings with friends and some phone-chats, text messages, some email greetings are specially heart-warming. On 12/22/2011, I posted one. Here’s another one. It is sweet and touching. I am not going to pass without sharing it here.



The Song of Do-It-Yourself


When you see something not done right or
When you see something broken or
When you see something done not your way or
When you see something that should be done but not done,
Instead of playing blame game or
Making others uncomfortable or
Showing your displeasure or
Finding out who did it or
Yelling at someone or
Gossiping around or
Simply being grumpy,
Do it yourself —
Be it at home or
At school or
At office, for
That’s the sure way to make you a happy person.



Teenage Years: Crucial for Your IQ


I have posted something on this topic before, probably with exact wording. Still, I think it worthwhile to be posted again as I can never overemphasize those brain formative years in one’s life.

The article appeared on BBC News, 10/19/2011 — IQ ‘can change in teenage years’ By David Shukman.

“Intellectual performance can both improve and deteriorate in adolescence. The mental ability of teenagers can improve or decline on a far greater scale than previously thought, according to new research.”

“… tests conducted on teenagers at an average age of 14 and then repeated when their average age was nearly 18 found improvements – and deterioration.”

If you fool around and waste away those precious teenage years –drinking, smoking, too much hanging out, rebelling against any authority simply for the sake of rebelling — when you finally wake up from the abyss of your stupidity, you will surely find yourself suffering from IQ loss for life, which is the cost of immaturity and teenage stupidity.

Scary but true. I wish more teenagers realize this.



“Life is an IQ test and a personality test”


Thus said Dr James Thompson.
I read it on 4/25/2011, “IQ tests measure motivation – not just intelligence” Dr James Thompson, senior honorary lecturer in psychology at University College London, said it had always been known that IQ test results are a combination of innate ability and other variables.

“Life is an IQ test and a personality test and an IQ result contains elements of both (but mostly intelligence)… If an IQ test doesn’t motivate someone then that is a good predictor in itself.”

Researchers from the US also confirmed that intelligence tests are as much a measure of motivation as they are of mental ability. They found that a high IQ score required both high intelligence and high motivation but a low IQ score could be the result of a lack of either factor. Incentives were also found to increase IQ scores by a noticeable margin.

This is an interesting observation as I am sure I won’t go far from bottom if IQ is purely a matter of intelligence.



Eat Balanced Meals for Your Brain


This posting is written for those who love good food, regardless of its ingredients. I read this one on 12/29/2011 — “Alzheimer’s: Diet ‘can stop brain shrinking'” by Helen Briggs.

“Diet affected tests of memory and thinking skills. A diet rich in vitamins and fish may protect the brain from ageing while junk food has the opposite effect, research suggests.

“Elderly people with high blood levels of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids had less brain shrinkage and better mental performance, a Neurology study found.

“Trans fats found in fast foods were linked to lower scores in tests and more shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s.

“They found those who had more vitamin B, C, D and E in their blood performed better in tests of memory and thinking skills. People with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids – found mainly in fish – also had high scores. The poorest scores were found in people who had more trans fats in their blood. Trans fats are common in processed foods, including cakes, biscuits and fried foods.”

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