When I look back at my children’s high school years so far, I am more than ever convinced that these few years, age 14 to 18, are indeed the most transformative ones in a person’s life. Sometimes, they are the hardest ones for parents, too. I see it in both of my children, well, of course not complete yet as my daughter is in her 4th year now.
I have seen the unbelievable changes in them, the gigantic leap both mentally and emotionally, their enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem. They all reached a higher order of thinking and writing. I am glad to admit that both of my children are better writers than I am.
They are more resilient after experiencing some ups and downs, wins and losses in these years. They gradually find their goals and path in life and are working steadily toward it.
They have come to understand what they should value in life. By the end of high school, they are mature enough to stand on their own.
Alas, when that happens and when you finally and truly enjoy their company, it is time for them to leave.
A study, carried out at Rush University Medical Center, showed why it’s important to stay active and exercise. It included more than 700 dementia-free patients enrolled in its Memory and Aging Project at the center. The volunteers self-reported physical and social activity.
There was also a monitor and actograph on their wrists that tracked their activity for about 10 days. They were followed for 3.5 years; 71 of them developed Alzheimer disease.
The slow movers, those in the bottom 10% of activity level, were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer disease as the top 10% of exercisers, the ones that moved the most.
The results suggested that activity and exercise matter.
The other day we went to friend’s house. While chatting about the colleges that the children would attend next year, my friend expressed the wish that her child would come back home after college.
I was a bit surprised to hear that. I understand that it is only natural that the parents want the children to live close by so that they can often see the children, which means a lot to senior parents.
Yet, when we ourselves traveled thousands of miles away from home, crossing the Pacific ocean and leaving behind our parents and everything we grew up with, in order to build a better life, how can we expect the next generation not to do the same?
To be sure, I miss my son greatly. Still I encourage my children to venture out, seeking their own fortune, establishing themselves before anything else.
I must admit that of so many managers that I have experienced in my life, there are not many whom I truly respect. In fact, most of them are not up to the task at all. True leaders are rare.
Here’s one who is the most unprofessional and unethical. This manager used to gossip about me with other employees, behind my back of course. Can you believe that? Even worse, she included some of gossips in my annual evaluation!
I guess I must impress people as a harmless idiot, so they dare to do this kind of bizarre thing on me. I was so upset that I was contemplating of suing her for slandering, for ruining my reputation, for the psychological damage that her action has brought on me, and for the medical bills since I needed to pretend to be ill because of her. I am sure I have the ability to wreak havoc in her life.
But as a kind-hearted, peace-loving person, I decided to drop the issue and bury the hatchet. Every time I think of this incident, I cannot help wondering aloud: why am I so nice? I could have easily deposed her if not ruined her. I don’t understand why I let her out of this legal mess. Either I was not mad enough or I am really an idiot. I don’t have the answer.
Ten days ago I started, for the second time this year, to get serious about one of the promises that I made on my 2012 New Year Resolution. Gee, after a big chunk of the year has gone, right?
One of the items on my resolution is to pick up my German language so that I can read spiegel in the original. I included this also for the benefit of brain health.
Memory makes up a large part of our intelligence. In fact, a sure sign of mental decline is the weakening of our ability to retain information. Hence, a good way of preserving it is to try to learn something new and commit it to memory. I am glad I pick it up again and hope I will stick to the end of the year, not as long as it seems though.
On another related or unrelated matter, one of my relatives promised July of 2011 to pay for his cell phone with his earned income once he found a job. He found one not long ago and intended to keep his promise. Good for him!
On 8/15/2012, I read an article — “Economist Richard Duncan: Civilization May Not Survive ‘Death Spiral'” by Terry Weiss.
The article warns of the pyramid scheme, that is very sharp downward turn of American economy. “America’s $16 trillion federal debt has escalated into a death spiral.”
American lifestyle is sustained by a huge personal and national debt and by a colossal consumption of gas, water and electricity.
Totally unsustainable is US economy, energy, ecological resources, and the whole American lifestyle.
The article conveys a strong sense of urgency. Imagine what would happen if US dollar becomes worthless! It does you no good to keep telling yourself “This is impossible.”
We individuals have to diversify our savings in case the pyramid does collapse. Don’t put all your savings in the form of US dollar. We already know that we should not put all our eggs in one basket.
My son once said, “I am not easily entertained.” I am not sure what he meant, but when I pick a book to read, I am a picky reader, hard to please.
When my daughter was in elementary school, her teacher told the class, “Pick up a book and read.” As if reading anything is better than not reading. It is probably OK for the little kids just to get them into the habit of reading. But still, I would not advice reading indiscriminately.
I don’t just pick up one and read, as I will be upset if I find out the author is not smarter than I am. Yuck! What a waste of time! Don’t you feel cheated when you have jammed a book into your brain and found no nutrients whatsoever! Or feel offended when you find out the author tries but fails to manipulate your mind with his bias!
Read to think, to learn and to grow. A safe rule to follow is to always read one level above you.
This is a rough translation.
Life gives each of us equal proportion of everything. Don’t fight for more than your share.
There is a limit to how much happiness you are to enjoy. Don’t push your limit.
Don’t covet beauty that belongs to others.
Don’t become weary of your spouse.
Children are here to demand payment. Don’t refuse them.
Don’t seize power as there is no permanent absolute one.
Don’t try to shun responsibility.
Don’t attempt to hoodwink your boss as they can often outsmart you.
Don’t try to hoax the rank and file as they know right from wrong.
Count your blessings as there is no limit to one’s desires.
Take care of your own body.
Do your share of work and let others take care of their shares.
Don’t feel intimidated by temporary difficulties.
Don’t hoard money when you should consume it.
Enjoy your vacation instead of exhausting yourself.
Enjoy the colorful life instead of feeling bored.
Maintain your integrity instead of compromising it.
Appreciate the feeling that is pure and true.
Don’t forget to keep in touch with your best friends forever.
Seeing the massive negative responses to this famous Todd Akin statement, the Republican candidate Mitt Romney and many other Republicans lost no time in minimizing the damage by calling Akin to quit.
It is hard to imagine the storm would abate even with the stepdown of Akin, if he does. The GOPs will sooner or later face the quagmire of their own creation — the consistency in their stands on pro-life, abortion, and rape.
If anything, Todd Akin is punished for being consistent and his lack of flip-flopping. If you are a pro-life and believe abortion is killing, you should oppose any form of abortion. Allowing rape-pregnancy abortion seems to say this type of abortion is not killing, which runs against the belief of equating all abortion to murdering.
Sometimes, you give up something in order to gain something bigger. Some politicians, who want to keep total control on everything from economy to women’s uterus and fight battle on social, cultural and economic fronts, will end up losing the major battle, just like losing a whole water melon in order to keep a few melon seeds. This is something that Todd Akin accidentally taught us.
When I heard one of my young relatives in Houston planned to buy an ipad for his girlfriend using his first paycheck, I immediately thought of his mother, my youngest sister. Next I shared with him my thought on this matter. Of course, my lecture started with trite stuffs like his success, kindness, and loyalty being the best gifts that a man could give to a woman. I am even tired of hearing myself saying this.
I told him of one of the deepest regrets in my life. That is I had not made my first trip home earlier. I came to the States in 1984 and my first visit home was in the summer of 1987. That was also the time when my father passed away. I bought him a color TV, a big deal at that time. He was in hospital all the time and didn’t even watch it once. The regret still hurts me after so many years.
Had I known he would leave us so soon, at age of 57, I would have come back home in a year or two, bought the TV earlier, and spent more time with him. I could say I was young and stupid and not understanding the fragility of life. But that won’t change a thing.
I shared this with my young relative, hoping he could take my message. That is, pay your filial duty while you can. He and his girlfriend are young and still have a long way to go.
My relative said he did not like being told of what he should or should not do. He would do it only when he wants to, not when somebody told him to. Of course, what I suggested was not something that he wanted to do at this moment. I feel like facing a rebellious teenager who would not do it simply because he doesn’t like to be told to. Honestly, I felt a bit hurt. But I am sure things will improve, given time.
I share this with my children. The take home message is this — Adopt a more mature and open attitude. No matter who says it, do it as long as it makes sense. Listening and following other people’s advice do not belittle us at all. On the contrary, it reveals a broad mind, capable of accepting ideas and advices of others.
This is from Harvard medical school that I read on 8/11/2012. The article offers six ways to combine nutritional science, a jolt of common sense, and pure enjoyment.
1) Ditch whole milk. Not only does this reduce saturated fat in your diet, it shaves off calories. Switch to 1% or nonfat milk, and nonfat versions of other dairy products like yogurt and ice cream. Can’t bear to go cold turkey? Step down more slowly to 2% milk, then 1% en route to nonfat, if possible.
2) Harness the power of nuts (and seeds) Almonds, cashews, filberts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios pack plenty of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Although many nuts are high in fat, the fat is mainly unsaturated – a healthy choice.
3) Taste food before you salt it. For two days, don’t put any salt on your food at all. A short break can help reset your taste buds. Then, leave the salt shaker in the cabinet, so it becomes a bit of an effort to reach for it. Make a ritual out of truly tasting your food before you decide if it needs tweaking.
4) Pack lunch at least once a week. You can make sure that you’re not supersizing your meal. Plus, it saves you money.
5) Eat five (or more) vegetables and fruits a day. It’s a nutrient-packed way to fill your plate that is generally low in calories.
6) Plan meals that are delightful, delicious and healthy.
I sounded overly optimistic on my yesterday’s posting, as if I were not worried at all over my son’s decision to go on his own.
For the record, I do worry as I always do. There is no change on that part of me. Yet, I am more delighted and encouraged than worried and concerned. I try to see the bright side. And I believe you cannot expect to gain anything without losing something. In this case, he stands to gain everything at the cost of his job. Or you have to break your iron bowl in order to gain a gold bowl.
Still, I keep telling my son that he needs to prepare for any possible obstacles and setbacks, as the road to glory is always full of hardships, twists and turns. Keep alive your dreams, but never dream of smooth sailing in your searching for the bright future.
On 8/9/2012, my son called home. He told me one of his high school classmates was in New York, looking for jobs. She told my son that she would move back to Kansas if she couldn’t find a job in New York.
Of course, many people were surprised over my son’s choice. That is, quit his day job at the time when many people cannot find jobs. Once again, I shared with him my thought on this.
Most people seek stability and avoid risk, the so-called keeping one’s iron bowl. That’s why most people remain relatively stable and unchanged throughout their lives.
Yet, life is full of risks and adventures. No risk, no gain. The higher the risk, the higher the potential gain. Venture out on your own legs, even if you have to give up your current position. In the long run, you will be much better off after you try out yourself. You got nothing to lose but everything to gain. Go your own way and you won’t regret.
On 7/24/2012, my daughter told me of her finalist place in the essay contest. The next day I told a few of my friends. One of them asked me about essay contest. Over that weekend, a friend of mine called, asking what activities my daughter was engaged in.
Sometimes, the school offered information on contest but mostly the students need to do their own research on the Internet. My daughter was lucky in that she has a big brother who often fills in some information. This is how my daughter found all of her local and national contests.
Well, my ultimate message is this. Don’t wait for others to tell you what to do or show you how to do it. Get into the habit of finding out the answer yourself. Be proactive, starting as early as possible. Have initiative if you really want to rise.
Many years ago my sister told me she couldn’t start reading or studying if the room was a mess. Very often she started the day by cleaning the room to make it amenable for study. By the time she finished cleaning and finally sat down by her desk, she already felt tired and seemed to welcome a nap more than picking up a book.
I used to think she had something like a compulsory disorder or was a clean addict. But now, I see it differently. A boy that I know of always spends as long time as possible cleaning his desk before he actually starts his math homework. He is definitely not a clean addict.
“Productive procrastination,” so said by my daughter. Most of us have this tendency, that is, avoid or postpone doing something that we should do but we don’t like by picking up the lighter work which we don’t have to do. The lighter tasks can be seen as the excuse not to tackle the hard ones. This is the root of the problem. I have observed this in myself, my children and in others.
Alas, we can save tons of time if we can confront ourselves and handle the hardest task first, even if that is the most headache one.
This happened in China when I was meeting two of my former colleagues at China Daily. I cannot forget this because I was thinking of telling her but didn’t have the chance. Here it is, hoping she will read it.
She told me that her 22-year-old daughter was determined to remain single. That’s right, not marry at all. She said her husband felt like the sky was going to collapse and the two had a huge fight over this.
I would tell this to the young woman. Don’t make any resolution on this. Don’t artificially impose any unnecessary restriction on yourself. Let nature take care of its course.
If you find yourself being attracted by someone, let yourself go. Life is too short to deprive yourself of the joy that is naturally bestowed on you.
8/15, mooncake festival, according to lunar calendar. Not today, though.
Yesterday was the first day of school for my daughter, the start of a new school year. My daughter came back telling me she had a great time at school, seeing her friends again after a long summer break.
Yesterday evening I took her out to buy some stuffs, one piece of top and some snacks for school. We did not buy much and she was happy with less.
Before we went out, I showed her a piece that I wrote for midwest voices on Mitt Romney’s VP pick. After that, we talked about American politics, conservatives, liberals and the coming elections. She shows great interests here because of a course that she is taking this year.
When a child did not do well in a test, he/she already feels bad about it. The last thing that a parent should do is to add insult to injury by whipping out more lectures on the already beaten one.
“I told you to work hard, to over-prepare for the test. You wouldn’t listen. See that’s the result for not listening to me. Now you must admit that I am right.”
Such parent forces the child to suck in both his bad test result and the fact that he was wrong and his parent was right, and much more.
Really, there is no need for vindication or confirmation when the child is already suffering from the bad test score and already knows his defeat, unless the parent’s sole purpose is to prove that he is right?
Last Saturday, Mitt Romney announced his running-mate — Paul Ryan, which pushed himself and his party further to the right.
Ryan, being famous for Ryan’s budget proposal, is very keen on cutting taxes for the top 1% and undermining benefit for the most needed ones in the society.
Socially, he is truly conservative, anti-gay, anti-abortion even if it was the result of incest. Ryan is certainly on the route to push the country back to the 18th century. Isn’t it queer that he cares more for the unborn than for the underprivileged who happen to have been born?
The country is only restrained by the level of intelligence of the majority of people. On this, I am not optimistic. I shudder over the future of the country if Romney and Ryan ruled.
The closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics is taking place today. Normally I don’t spend much time in front of the TV. But once in four years I do allow myself and my daughter to watch the Olympic games for hours.
Those athletes, inspired by their dreams of glory, having gone through the toughest training in their countries, gave their best performances at the Games. I would not want to miss this excitement.
As I watched fierce competitions, I realized that the Olympics has been and is still today about competition for honor and national pride. The countries that have won the most medals, relative to their population, are very competitive, to say the least. We felt greatly inspired as we watched.
Yes, I started paying more attention to the blood pressure issue after I got back from China. Two of my childhood classmates are afflicted with hypertension, daily controlled by medicine right now. I learned that hypertension is one of those “silent killers.”
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital for good health. Keeping yours below 120/80 is the ideal goal for dodging a host of afflictions. Here are some of the steps that Harvard Medial School suggests.
Reduce sodium intake.
The medically proven DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it to 1,500—not easy, but doable—works even better. The DASH diet can lower your systolic pressure (upper number) by 10 points or more.
Monitor your pressure at home.
Checking blood pressure at home with an appropriate device can give you instant feedback on the benefits of diet and exercise and give you and your doctor a more accurate picture of your blood pressure. This is valuable, because some people experience “white coat hypertension,” in which blood pressure spikes higher than normal when measured at the doctor’s office.
Limit your alcohol intake.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. For men, the suggested limit is one to two alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80-proof spirits, a 5-ounce serving of wine, or a 12-ounce serving of beer. (For women it’s no more than one drink a day.)
Take more meds if you need to—but take the right ones.
Many people who are already taking one or two hypertension medications ultimately come into “control” (blood pressure below 140/90) only when taking three or even four medications. But they need to be the right drugs. Your doctor should combine medications that work to lower blood pressure in different ways. “Your doctor should pick medications in different classes that complement each other and won’t just be redundant,” Dr. Kormos says.
On 7/29/2012, I learned some fun fact about fat conversion and socializing, well in mice right now.
Researchers at Ohio State University identified a link between the amount of social interaction in a mouse’s environment and its weight. The study promises some new socially-based therapeutic strategies to fight obesity.
The study, published in Cell Metabolism, shows socially active lifestyle can dramatically speed up weight loss through the burning of fat in mice.
Fat can come in two types: energy-storing white fat, and energy-burning brown fat. The brown fat needed for weight loss is difficult to make. It is mostly found in babies, or in adults who have been exposed to extreme cold, where it is burned to keep them warm.
The study, led by Professor Matthew During, has found that relatively small changes in the physical and social living environment of mice can alter vast amounts of white fat to brown.
In contrast to the “couch potato” lifestyle of normal laboratory mice, experimental groups were housed in an “enriched” living environment – numbering 15-20 in large containers, furnished with running wheels, tunnels, huts, wooden toys and a maze.
This more physically complex housing for the lab mice not only increased the mental challenges posed, but also the amount of social interactions between individuals.
Professor During said that he was “amazed at the degree of fat loss that occurs.” After just four weeks in the enriched environment, mice had lost on average 50% of their abdominal white fat.
Wow, one more reason to become socialized.
We are all too familiar with the worrisome weight issue of the Americans. Still, I was a bit surprised when I read this one.
During the weekend of 7/14/, I read this piece of information on world’s heaviest countries on average person from Time magazine of July 9, 2012 issue.
World average pound per person: 137 pounds.
Some of the overweight countries are:
Egypt: 163 pounds
United Arab Emirates: 167 pounds
Croatia: 168 pounds
Qatar: 169 pounds
Kuwait: 171 pounds
The winner is —
The United States: 180 pounds!!
People living in desert heat countries spending more time in air-conditioned room have excuse for the extra pounds when they don’t have enough outdoor exercise.
But what excuses do Americans have, other than an unhealthy lifestyle in which overeating replaces exercise?
This is what I observed on my way back to China on 6/1. It’s been more than two months since then. I even forgot if I have written on the impression of Hong Kong.
I made two transfers on my way to Beijing, one in Chicago, one in Hong Kong. That was the first time for me to visit Hong Kong, not really a visit, just one-hour stay, enough to impress me.
As soon as I emerged from the UA plane, I saw a few signs, each direting to a destination. I quickly spotted the one to Beijing and sure enough there I even saw my name on the sign.
When I asked the man holding the sign for the direction to the gate of my next flight, he told me where to go and said “Hurry, you only have one hour and you need to get boarding pass, go through security.” His tone and expression conveyed a sense of real urgency.
Wherever I went, people worked at a super fast speed so that I rushed through everything in 20 minutes. I rated Hong Kong airport as number one in customer service. In comparison, people I met at Chicago seem to carry an cant-care-less attitude, as if they were telling me “It’s your fault if you are late.”
One of my co-workers has two granddaughters at about the same time, one from her daughter, the other from her daughter-in-law. As I watched the development of the two girls, I was amazed to see them going into different path because of different mothering.
While her daughter’s girl grows very much like her daughter who is very similar to her mother, my co-worker, her daughter-in-law’s girl grows like her mother, the daughter-in-law who is a teacher and a book-lover.
Even at this young age, I can pretty much predict that these two-year-olds will grow up more or less like their respective mother, one going to be home-centered, playing to the full the role of wife and mother, the other going to be more professional in addition to her role at home.
Talk about the power and influence of a mother in a person’s life!
This is from Harvard medical school. Lack of sleep can have serious effects on health, increasing the risks for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Sleep issues can plague us as we get older. “Later in life there tends to be a decrease in the number of hours slept,” says Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Many people turn to sleep medications in search of more restful slumber. However, these drugs can have side effects ranging from appetite changes to dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and strange dreams. A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that people who were taking hypnotic drugs had a higher incidence of cancer, and death, than people who didn’t take these sleep medicines.
But before turning to pills, here are eight tips for getting a better night’s sleep:
1) Exercise at some point during the day.
2) Reserve your bed for sleep and sex—not work or TV.
3) Keep the bedroom comfortable.
4) Start a sleep ritual.
5) Have a bedtime snack—but not too much.
6) Avoid alcohol and chocolate before bed.
7) Wind down before going to bed.
8) See your doctor about what’s keeping you up at night.
I received this message at work on 7/30/2012. For some reason, these words make me think a lot about myself and my children. Time is flying faster than our dull brains can catch up. Before we get used to the year 2012, half of it has gone. Yet, victory, however you define, is not in sight. Hence, be persevering.
On 7/31/2012, my son called in the evening. He was going to tell his boss the next day that the end of August would be his last day with the company.
I asked him why he gave the company a month instead of normal two-week notice. He said it would take more than a month for him to transfer over his projects. It would be more responsible if he could hand over his work smoothly to the next person.
I applaud for his courage and confidence to quit a good-paid job and go on his own. Meanwhile, I wish him good luck.
–Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
–Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. –Stay in touch.
—Forgive everyone for everything.
–What other people think of you is none of your business.
–However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
—Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
–Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
–The best is yet to come.
–No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
–Don’t overdo. Keep your limits.
–Your inner most is always happy. So be happy.
–Do the right thing!
–Call your family often.
–Each day do something good to others.
–Try to make at least three people smile each day.
—Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
–Don‘t have negative thoughts about things you cannot control.
–Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
—Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
–Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
–Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. This will ruin your present happiness.
–Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.
–Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
–You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
–Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
A friend of mine knows I like to collect nice words, at least like to be pampered by nice thoughts. So she often sends me something to warm my heart and soul, as if they are not warm enough. I can’t think of a nicer way to start August than presenting these nice words and thoughts here.
Tips for Better Life for 2012
–Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.
–Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
–Sleep for 7 hours
–Live with the 3 E‘s : Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
–Play more games.
–Read more books than you did in 2011.
–Drink plenty of water.
–Dream more while you are awake.
—Smile and laugh more.
–Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
–Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
–Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.