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

1, May 31, 2012

Radio host, Seeking your own job opportunities

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:06 am

On 5/6, after I sent my daughter to her teacher’s home for a class party, on the way back home, I was listening to NPR interview of Ira Glass, host of This American Life and other NPR programs.

I was very impressed by the way he got his foot into the door of NPR 30 years ago when he was about 19 years old. He practically talked his way into getting a position for himself there.

This reminds me of a person who graduated from college majoring in radio broadcast, but was unable to find a job using his education. He ended up working as a salesperson and stayed there permanently. While listening to Ira Glass story, I remember how my acquaintance used to complain about the difficulty in finding a job with his major.

Thought of the day: Originally, there is no road. The first person ventures out and beat a path, then more people follow his footsteps. That first person is the most courageous and admirable one. Of course, also the successful one.

1, May 30, 2012

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Management

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:04 am

Before I read this from medscape, I thought there must be some pathological base for this chronic fatigue syndrome. In reality, very often the improvement on this condition is found not by medical treatment but by changes in behavior. Below is what the article suggests that people with CFS should work on.

(1) Develop a good sleep habit. Fatigue is often caused by not having a good sleep.
(2) Go to bed when you are tired
(3) Use bed for sleeping only
(4) Do not watch TV or use computer in bed at night
(5) Keep to a sleep schedule
(6) Avoid stimulant foods and beverage at night
(7) Read or listen to music if you cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes
(8) Avoid daytime naps (short rest periods are acceptable)

1, May 29, 2012

Hiring a lawn mowing teenager

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:12 am

On 5/26, Saturday afternoon, when I searched for lawn mowing services in our area, I found one offered by a 17-year-old boy. I called for an estimate. He came over, surveyed the front and back yard, then asked how much I offered.

I told him I was thinking of asking my neighboring teenager boy for $50 because he has a tractor. He said, “The thing I don’t like tractor is it cannot go through area around trees. I mow and trim the yard well.” He asked for $65. I knew there was room for me to bargain it down.

We were talking outside and it was very hot that day. I thought of my own children and would hope other people would treat them generously if they were in his situation. He is the same age as my daughter. So I agreed to give him what he asked.

Yesterday, he came over and started working at 9:50 in the morning and ended at 11:50. I think he is happy with the check for his two hours yard work under the burning sun.

1, May 28, 2012

Entitlement Mentality among some Children

Filed under: Education — admin @ 12:46 am

This is especially true with today’s children in China. Children with this mentality believe they are entitled to this or that from their parents. It is their parents’ responsibility to support them even after they become adult or graduate from college.

They become upset or frustrated or even mad easily if their wants or desires are denied by their parents. They also tend to have a hard time to delay gratification, having underdeveloped coping skills. To make them happy, they need to have it when they want it.

To be sure, with one child per family in China, parents can put all their money on this one child’s education. That is, if they have the ability and are willing to. By no means do they have to, especially after their child has graduated from college. Of course, by no means does this give the adult children the excuse to rely on their aging parents.

Like the entitlement programs in America, this entitlement mentality, more often than not, tends to yield undesirable consequences.

1, May 27, 2012

How I Killed An Annoying Program

Filed under: Technologies — admin @ 12:05 am

On 4/22, Sunday evening, while my daughter was walking downstairs, I worked on fixing some of the problems with  my laptop. For sometimes, the desktop background was changed automatically when I closed the laptop. This is rather annoying as I prefer dark background and the changed one is bright white. I had to change back each time it happened.

I know there must be a program that does the trick. I just need some time to dig it out and I did that evening. Here’s what I did.
(1) Open Command Prompt
(2) Type msconfig to bring up System Configuration window
(3) Go to Startup tab
(4) Check the programs that start to run upon window startup.
(5) Test any programs that have unfamiliar manufacturer to see the effect of their execution.
(6) Finally, I found the culprit.

Of course, I disabled that program from System Configuration window and also deleted it from my computer. After that, I felt a lot better.

On 4/29, I solved another pc issue. I have noticed that my cursor moves by itself without any user action. There must be some program that does the trick. So I searched, tested, and found a program which I used to trust. It is ATKOSD2, which comes with ATK Package by ASUS. It turned out ATKOSD2.exe could be a virus, trojan, spyware, and adware. So I deleted it and the problem disappeared.

1, May 26, 2012

Sharing the fruits of labor with a friend on a Sunday

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:11 am

On 5/6, my daughter went to study for one of her finals at Barnes & Nobles with a friend. The other adult in the house drove to Houston, TX to leave the car to my sister’s son there.

While I was home, a friend of mine came over in the afternoon. I eagerly showed her our backyard and shared with her the fruits in my yard — xiang-chun leaves and gold-silver flowers. I dug out a few gold-silver plant runners for her. She helped me trim the xiang-chun tree. I show her how to grow the gold-silver plant.

I had a good time in my backyard with this friend. It is so rewarding working on my yard. I wish I had more time and energy working on my yard.

1, May 25, 2012

Summer Schedule 2005

Filed under: Son — admin @ 12:41 am

This summer plan was written on 5/25/2005, exactly 7 years ago, when my son was 16 years old. I thought back then he had a much richer life than he does now – reading, writing, piano, swimming, running, Chinese, plus fighting with his sister, though for most part of that summer, he had not closely followed his plan.

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

I dug it out on 8/29/2011.

1, May 24, 2012

Going back to China and meeting old friends

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:58 am

I am going back to China to see my mother on 6/1. I bought the ticket on 3/1, applied for visa on 5/1, and notified my family of my schedule.

Normally, I plan ahead by telling some of my friends in Beijing. This time I will go to Shanghai in early June to meet two friends there and also will meet an old colleague of mine during this time-frame before she leaves for the States, also in early June.

There is one friend whom I have not seen for many years but have been thinking of every time I go back. She has become a very devout Christian and has devoted her time to church work in Beijing. She is one of the purest kind that I have known in my life. I am going to try to get in touch with her this time.

P.S. it so happened that a friend of mine here is leaving for China today with her two children. Wish her a good trip.

1, May 23, 2012

Never Check Email Before Going to Bed

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:30 am

On the evening of 4/12, right before I went to bed, I checked my office email, which was a mistake. After reading an email from a young relative of mine, I got rather upset and couldn’t fall asleep. Later I told my daughter, “Never check emails right before you go to bed. You never know who will write what.”

In my previous emails with that relative, I shared with him my parenting experience with my children and how American parents raise their children. Because he is an adult now and I was hoping he could understand it.

Unfortunately, he misunderstood my intention, thinking I was trying to compare my children with him. I know they are totally different in personality, growing up experience, and maturity.  It is like comparing apple with pear when they are of different kind.

I felt both sorry and upset, sorry that he misunderstood me. The argumentative tone in his email sounds rather upsetting.

1, May 22, 2012

Distraction, Information Overloading…

Filed under: Time management — admin @ 12:58 am

When I shared with a friend of mine my last posting on cellphone, she mentioned an important issue that we all face today, that is information overloading.

With the advent of Internet, information of all kinds come down on us like the flood. Without the ability to prioritize and to filter out useless information, we will always be plagued by time management issue and find it hard to get as many things done as we have planned.

My daughter read both of the postings. She agreed this is absolutely a challenge.

1, May 21, 2012

Cell phone, Distraction and Addiction

Filed under: Technologies,Time management — admin @ 12:11 am

I gave my cell phone to my daughter around last week of April before she headed for Albuquerque, NM. My son got his first cellphone also in April of his junior year in high school.

Before I gave it to her, I often checked and returned email using my cell phone during daytime as I cannot access personal email from office pc. After I gave it to her, I could not do it any more, which, at first, seemed a bit odd. But after a few days, I feel like “no big deal.” I haven’t missed anything when I postponed email checking.

In the past, there is absolutely no need for me to check email. I did it just because I could. In fact, without this possibility, I found that I have one less distraction now, which is wonderful for time saving.

On the other hand, I have found my daughter constantly interrupts her homework by texting or checking her cell phone as if she expects something. On 5/2, less than two weeks after she owns a phone, when I told her jokingly that I needed to borrow her phone for a day or two, she said resoundingly “No way.” I have noticed the changes that this gadget brought to her in such a short period of time.

My son used to shut down instant message and cell phone when he needed total concentration. We need a statement to ourselves so that we don’t give up control over our lives to any outside forces. Some type of mechanism needs to be installed so that we can guarantee that our time is not subjected to the whims of outside interruptions.

1, May 20, 2012

Reap and pay for what others sow

Filed under: Fun — admin @ 12:36 am

Yesterday morning, I drove with a friend of mine to Pendleton’s Country Market in Lawrence for its pick-your-own vegetables. It was about 30-minute drive. The weather was nice in the morning. This is the first time I went for pick-your-own activity.

There I saw a large stretch of land laying wasted. The vegetables are not well taken care of. There were about four people working there. Obviously they need more hands on the farm.

We spent some time picking snap pea. After picking about a pound of them, we decided to call it a day as both of us felt tired. I did not buy much for the trip. But I think I did learn the hardship of farm work. I wish my daughter came with us.

1, May 19, 2012

Hop off the treadmill before it grinds you up

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:48 am

Toward the end of last month, I read an article on how physicians can retire early. The article starts asking readers to exam the emotional side of retirement, which is just as important as the financial side.

If you have a great sense of worth and accomplishment tied up in your work, terminating your job completely may not work well for you.

Your financial readiness is the next thing you should consider. I was surprised that not many physicians are ready for retirement by the time they feel like to. Because they even have not earned enough or have not saved enough.

Don’t sell your stocks during recession. “The people who weathered the last recession the best were the ones who held tight to a diversified portfolio and continued adding money to it.”

Last, resist the urge to chase “can’t miss” investments, such as private partnerships that purchase real estate or invest in various types of businesses: restaurants, car washes, and the like. “Nine times out of 10 these things don’t work out.”

1, May 18, 2012

Time runs so fast and children grow up faster than we thought

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:05 am

Last weekend, while shopping at costco, I met an old colleague of mine back in Sprint. When I was there, she was single. Last time we met, she was a mother of two. Now she is a mother of four. Her boy has turned 5. Of course, she looks changed, too. I told her the age of my children, which, of course, surprised her. Because she remembers my daughter was about 5 or 6 years old.

She was preparing for her trip to China around the end of this month. After that, my mind ran back to the time when I worked at Sprint back in 2000 and when she was single, showing no interest in talks about children.

Over a decade has passed since that time, yet it all seems like yesterday when we worked together. I can’t believe time runs so fast and children grow up so fast.

Enjoy the moment while we can.

1, May 17, 2012

Focus on what we have, forget what we have lost

Filed under: Happiness,Life — admin @ 12:20 am

Last Thursday, 5/10, was my sister’s birthday. I called and wished her happy birthday. She told me she did not want to mark her birthday any more because she felt so old.

I told her not to think of what she didn’t have, in this case, her youth. Think of what she has now. Compare to those who were not lucky enough to live this long, we have to count our blessing. I told her about Andrew Breitbart who died of heart disease at age 43 and some of the patients at my work place who died in their 40s.

Sometimes, when we think of what we have, we might feel blessed and content. And no more complaints.

1, May 16, 2012

Exercise for Your Brain Health

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:55 am
I read the following on 4/27.
7 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise
1. It reverses the detrimental effects of stress
2. It lifts depression
3. It improves learning
4. It builds self-esteem and improves body image
5. It leaves you feeling euphoric
6. It keeps the brain fit
7. It may keep Alzheimer’s at bay.


1, May 15, 2012

Remembering Violinist Roman Totenberg who Died at age 101

Filed under: Career,Life — admin @ 12:08 am

5/8/2012 saw the passing of Roman Totenberg, a violin instructor from Poland.

What is remarkable about his life is his 9 decades of violin teaching career. He started teaching when he was 11 and he had a student who was 10, until the day before he died at age 101.

I told my daughter of his long teaching career. “The man must enjoy what he was doing,” she said. “Absolutely,” I said. “It must have given him tremendous joy doing what he loved everyday. I hope you can find something you enjoy and keep doing what brings you joy as long as Totenberg.”

1, May 14, 2012

Gathering on the Eve of Mother’s Day

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:49 am

Last Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, a friend of mine invited my daughter and me to her house to celebrate Mother’s Day. There was another family at the gathering. That was very kind of her.

At first, I didn’t want to go as I was afraid it would take too much time. My daughter will have some finals next week. When I told my daughter of this, she said we should go. So we did.

I met another Chinese mother who was more inclined toward natural science than humanities. I shared with her my writing on KC Star on that day, not sure if she understood it. I used to believe there was not much difference between science and humanities.

One needs to be more empirical and logical in natural science. With humanities, the emphasis is more on understanding and interpretation, which is very subjective and varies from person to person. But a clear thinking ability is needed in both fields. I think there must be a lot more than this.

1, May 13, 2012

Always remember to take care of the number one person, you!

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:44 am

On 4/24, I received an email from a colleague of mine back in 2005. She sent me this statement — “Always remember to take care of the number one person, you!” with an attached statement —

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born & how you become most truly alive!!!”

I think I read it before. It seems I read it as a Mother’s Day reminder. With this, I suddenly remember that number one person is myself. I will try to remember this on this special day for mothers.

P.S. my son called from San Fransisco this morning to say “Happy Mother’s Day.” Indeed, happy I am.

1, May 12, 2012

John Derbyshire being fired for divisive writing

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:45 am

The conservative columnist and author John Derbyshire wrote an article urging white and Asian parents to tell their children to avoid contact with black Americans they do not know.

He added: “If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.” And “if you are white or Asian and have kids, you owe it to them to give them some version of the talk. It will save them a lot of time and trouble spent figuring things out for themselves. It may save their lives.” Derbyshire was fired by the National Review for these words.

When I read these words, my first impression is how can people think this way and have the guts to write and publish it. Some people do not care about the impact of their writing on the public, as if black were all illiterate and couldn’t read. It would be terribly awful if you were a black and read about this? I still can’t believe someone could think and write like this.

P.S. my second column comes out today. I have posted it here around the end of April. But I forgot having done so. Can’t believe I am getting so forgetful now.

1, May 11, 2012

All About Cholesterol

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:38 am

Here’s what I learned about cholesterol
–It is found in every cell in the body.
–It is used to build healthy cells and vital hormones.
–It cannot dissolve in the blood.
–It is transported to and from cells by lipoprotein–HDLs and LDLs.
–You total cholesterol score = (HDL+LDLS+triglycerides)/5.
–High cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits in the blood vessels, decrease in oxygen to the heart, and increase in risk of heart attack or stroke.
–HDLs = good one, increased by weight loss, exercise, Omega3s and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
–LDLs = bad one, decreased by weight loss, exercise, Omega3s and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
–Triglycerides = decreased by cutting back on sugar, alcohol and saturated fats.

Desirable cholesterol level
–total <200
–HDL >40 for male >50 for female
–LDL <70-130 depending on risk factors
–triglycerides <150

Not overeating can improve your blood sugar
–Because you are eating possibly half as much food
–Eating when you are not hungry causes insulin to be released.

How to raise your HDLs
–it can take 6-12 months to see a difference in HDLs through walking
–diets, exercise and the way you are eating can improve it

Now it makes me feel so good after sharing with my readers.

1, May 10, 2012

A Roll of Applause for President Obama for Openly Supporting Gay Marriage

Filed under: Politics,Presidents — admin @ 12:27 am

I have to give President Obama tremendous credit for coming out openly in his unequivocal support of same sex marriage. It took a long time for him to take this step, as he knew very well the risk that he might run by supporting gay marriage, especially during this election season. The fact he finally came out openly speaks hugely about his character.

I appreciate his honesty and political courage. He has been consistent on defending equal rights for all. For all, he deserves respect and support of the majority of people.

In contrast, his political opponent, Mitt Romney is famous for being flip-flopping, changing position as frequently as one changes underwear. If Obama is characterized of being consistent, Romney is just the opposite.

The country should be proud for having the first President who stands for equal right regardless of sexual orientation.

1, May 9, 2012

Reading and Writing about President Obama

Filed under: Presidents,Writing — admin @ 12:41 am

Last weekend, I talked a lot to my daughter about a book that I was reading The Promise: President Obama, Year One, by Jonathan Alter. It is a very good book.

After that, my daughter asked me if I was going to write something on President Obama on midwest voices. I said no, because this is a republican state and more readers are against Obama. Unless I write something anti-Obama, I would invite personal attacks.

My daughter said, “This is a democratic country and you should be able to say what you believe without fear.” She is right, but still I will avoid as much as I can the unpleasantness of reading nasty comments, until I become zen enough not to care whatever.

1, May 8, 2012

The tide has change. France has chosen a socialist leader…

Filed under: Politics — admin @ 12:43 am

On 5/6, Francois Hollande, a socialist, was elected the new president of France. The country has not seen a Socialist Party president for 17 years, since the late Francois Mitterrand. Of course, one of the first thing that Hollande will do is to fight against German-led austerity measures, which is very similar to our Paul Ryan budget proposal.

Nicolas Sarkozy lost by 48.1% to Hollande’s 51.9%. The socialist victory in France is very symbolic. It seems to send a positive message to President Obama and seems to herald a change of wind in politics, with the upcoming of the socialist-leaning parties.

If Sarkozy was seen as “President of the Rich” and voters turned away from him, Obama can compare Sarkozy to his presidential opponent and label him as “politician of the rich” who is going to implement austerity measure by cutting deep programs that benefit the poor.

It will be interesting to see the impact of France’s new socialist president and the reactions of both parties here in U.S.

1, May 7, 2012

Perigee moon 14% bigger and 30% brighter as it passes closer to Earth

Filed under: Nature — admin @ 12:45 am

Yesterday morning, as early as 3 AM, I had the good luck of seeing this year’s perigee moon when I helped packing the car for another adult to head for Houston, Texas. It was absolutely bigger and brighter than normal one, making the night so unlike a night time.

At the moment like this, I wish I had a good camera or I could capture the scene or I knew how to use a good one. Too bad I didn’t, so I have to borrow one by Darryl Webb/Reuters.

1, May 6, 2012

You create your own happiness

Filed under: Happiness — admin @ 12:09 am

It was uncomfortably hot yesterday. My daughter went to a recycling center in the afternoon to do some volunteer work. I went to bank, then to a doctor’s office, then to Costco. The heat hurt my head and made me feel dizzy.

In the evening when I was driving my daughter to Target, my daughter and I had a conversation on happiness. Actually, it doesn’t take much for us to feel happy.

First, we are on top of our tasks or successful at our role. Second, we are physically fit, that is, in good shape, in a comfortable environment, not tortured by any extreme weather.

No amount of material possessions can make us happy if we are not as successful as we expect or not physically fit. That’s why there is a saying that goes like this: you create your own happiness.

1, May 5, 2012

“Resist the lure of celebrity and cultivate humility”

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:49 am

Early this year, I read from Time magazine an article, saying “For 60 years, Elizabeth II has been a model of propriety and duty. Five things Kate can learn from her.”

Of course, I was curious to know what these five things are, even though I believe Kate can very well just be her unique self, one of a kind, without the need to imitate anyone at all. After I read them, I think the first two are good advices to all people. Here are the 5 things.

(1) Resist the lure of celebrity and cultivate humility.
(2) Stay with your look and be consistent with her style; it shows confidence and reassures the public.
(3) Master your brief.
(4) Embrace the countryside and its pursuits.
(5) Support William without overshadowing him.

1, May 4, 2012

Customer Service, Conflict Resolution, Part III

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:19 am

This is the third and final part of the training. Here are some quotes from the training.

(1) I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.
(2) “The customer you lost holds the information you need to succeed,” The Loyalty Effect by Frederick Reichheld.
(3) Service recovery is treating the customer well when something goes wrong.

Openly expressed disappointment can be a gift to an organization because research shows that the trust of a person is strengthened if the problem is handled properly.

Conflict resolution steps:
Take the HEAT
ear them out –If somebody yells at you, you tend to get defensive. If you interrupt someone, he tends to get louder and madder.
Empathize –put yourself in customer’s situation
Apologize — say I am sorry when you should
Take responsibility for action.

1, May 3, 2012

Customer Services and Other Human Interactions, Part II

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:53 am

I like this customer service training because I have learned something that I can apply to other human interactions like parents to children.

Poor customer service is expressed through intonation, disrespect, showing slight, making customer feel less important by not having the full attention, and other non-verbal body language. On the other hand, good customer service means respect others by giving full attention, keeping eye contact, smile, caring tone, and self-introduction.

I remember sometimes my daughter gets upset when she talks while I am not giving her full attention. Now I know this is called not showing due respect.

Key principles of good customer service include:
(1) Maintain or enhance self-esteem — you get your self-esteem from feedback from others, other people contribute to it. You praise people for something specific in order to enhance his self-esteem. e.g. “How can we do without you?”

(2) Listen and respond with empathy –listening, response, eye contact, put yourself in other’s shoe. Validate the feelings of others.

(3) Involve the customer. Involvement means empowering, release anxiety, give them control or options.

The wonderful part is you can actually use these principles in all human dealings.

1, May 2, 2012

Customer Services: Four Types of Customer Reactions, Part I

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:43 am

On 4/10 I attended a training in customer service, a required one by our work place. I learned many interesting things there. First of all, customer can be defined as anyone we interact with. That’s a broad one. Here’s another one on customer satisfaction.

Happy customer Patron Praiser
Unhappy customer Walker Talker

They are largely four types of customer reactions:
(1) Patron – a happy customer but has not expressed this verbally
(2) Praiser – a happy customer who either sends a thank you letter or verbally expressed it.
(3) Walker – an unhappy one but says nothing about it, just walk away and never return.
(4) Talker – an unhappy one and let you know immediately of his unhappiness by verbalizing it.

At first, I thought the kind of customer reaction is more determined by one’s personality, the out-going customers being more verbal while introverts tend to be either patron or walker. I was surprised to learn that 9 out of 10 unhappy customers are walkers.

I think it is in the culture that people avoid confrontation and choose passive aggressiveness when they are not happy. In fact, you can see the same pattern of response in all human interactions, including within a family. The introverts tend to walk away without a word when they are upset, but the unhappiness is still there. The out-going ones will shout and yell and let the world know their unhappiness. Very interesting.

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