“What motivates you…” weekend reading


The tire pressure indicator light came up on the dashboard of my black highlander when I was driving to west clinic last Thursday. On the way back home that day, I stopped at a gas station to check tire pressure and fill some air, all by myself. Still, the light would not go away. So, last Saturday morning I drove to Firestone’s car care station at the corner and 95th street.

I was reading some magazines while they checked my car. After getting back home, I found myself missing bookstores. So I allowed myself to drive to Barnes & Noble’s, where I spent some time reading the magazine that I wasn’t able to finish at Firestone’s.

On March 2014 issue of Inc.com magazine, there is a short piece called “What Motivates You: Calling or Ego” by Shelley Prevost. Here’s part of it.

“Do you have a real vocation for your work or are you in business for egoistic reasons?
(1) Ego leads to burnout. Calling leads to fulfillment.
(2) Ego focuses on the result. Calling focuses on the process. Without a satisfactory result, your ego feels that all your work is pointless. A calling, however, comes from within. It can handle the stress of ambiguity.
(3) Ego wants to preserve the self. Calling wants to affect others. A calling may begin with the self, but it moves toward the needs of others. Author Frederick Buechner describes it as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.'”

I know ego and calling are two different sources of motivation, but I don’t believe in Prevost’s conclusion on them. I would say calling is more other-oriented and tends to last longer than ego. I also don’t think calling does not care about result as much as ego does.



When I have a second at office…


There are too much gossips going around here. It is so childish to indulge in this kind of stuffs around adults aged over half a century.

I have my earphone on just to insulate myself from this surrounding. Whenever I have a free second, I would spend it on two things: (1) improving my skills (2) exercise to keep fit.

This was written on 3/20. I was going to have an interview the next day, 3/21, hoping I could leave this rather unpleasant toxic work environment.



“When there is no target date, no goal, it targets to fail”


Today, 3/28, we had our monthly CTO meeting. Normally I only pay attention when there is something that strikes me as enlightening or that gives me some ideas on my personal agenda. Such moment came today when a newly appointed person talked about the problem with lengthy IRB approval period.

When she first came to this office, she asked her team “How long does it take for a protocol to be approved?” The answer was “I don’t know.” Next she asked “How long shall it take?” Same answer. What a typical bunch of idiots!

Of course, that’s not the way to run business. She commented, “When there is no target date, no goal, it targets to fail.” Well said! She then dissected the approval process to find out why it took so long. Under her management, the length of approval time has now been cut short by nearly half.

Don’t we need the same attitude toward whatever we target in our career?



Another Happy birthday song to my daughter


My dearest daughter, today is your birthday, the first one that you spend outside home.
I wish I were by your side on your special day.
I wish I could cook your favorite food in the morning.
I wish I could drive your around in the evening like we used to.
But of course, all my wishes were part of a past that is here no more.
Still, I hold the old wish that I had before —
I wish you are surrounded by friends far and wide,
Be as happy as you can be on this day and many days to come.



Volker Bertelman and his album “Abandoned City”


On 3/23/2014, while I was taking my lovely weekend morning walk and listening to NPR, the story of Volker Bertelman and his album “Abandoned City” caught my attention. After that, I couldn’t forget his words and feel that I must share it with my readers.

When they talked about experiment with prepared piano and why he did it,

Prepared piano: “…explored the possibilities of the prepared piano by wedging pieces of leather, felt or rubber between the piano strings, wrapping aluminium foil around the hammers, placing small objects on the strings or joining them together with guitar strings or adhesive tape.”

he said something like this, “it [prepared piano] leads to a lot of questions about myself.

Are you able to actually jump over habits? Are you able to actually work on a bigger scale than you normally think and feel that things that seem to be impossible are actually possible?”

That’s rather thought-provoking. How many of us think of questions like these in our every day life?



Happy Birthday, my beloved son!


25 candles

I miss you and I am thinking of you.
Have a wonderful day!



Spring Break for my daughter


Yesterday, 3/15, Spring break began at my daughter’s school. My daughter left for New York City to spend a few days with her brother. The bus left around 5 PM. I told my daughter to text me when she arrived there. Around 9 PM, I started checking for her message every other minute. It was around 9:45 PM New York time when I finally heard from her.

She walked from Port Authority to her brother’s apartment. Good thing there were plenty of people at that time in that part of the city. She got there in 10 minutes. I can imagine the excitement there. I wasn’t able to fall asleep after that.

Well, it is quiet here today when I had to get up around 4:30 AM to send another adult in the house to the airport to catch a 7 AM flight to China. It was not 7 yet, still dark, when I got back from the airport.



After a few round of interview…


One of the slogans that I set for myself for this year is –change 2014. That is, I was hoping the year 2014 will see some real change in my career. Actually I was determined to make some changes when I was preparing for my daughter’s college trip.

I did try sitting for a health IT certification exam last fall, but didn’t pass it. Since this year I have tried job transfer. After a few rounds of job interview and having entered the third month of the year, I still don’t have anything in hand.

Yesterday I went for an interview for an ETL developer position. I had some experience with ETL back in 2002. But with new technologies in recent years, I don’t think I am up to the task. I am not surprised if I don’t get the job.

When looking back, the only thing that greatly upsets me is the amount of time wasted on all these efforts. On the way back from the interview office, I was considering something else.

I will continue applying for other positions as I still want to try something else. But I will not waste time on preparing for the interview. Instead, I will set new agendas and follow them through.

Job application is something beyond my control. As the saying goes, “Man proposes, God disposes.”
So, why wasting time on something I cannot control. I will spend time on something that I can control and can see the positive result.



Gone is a middle school classmate of mine…


Yesterday, while I was in the office, I read an email from a middle-high school classmate of mine. It is about another classmate of mine who passed away early this year. I was shocked at the news. I quickly replied to all,

“It is very shocking, to the point that I had to stop everything to re-read it, making sure I was not mis-reading. Though I have never tried to get in touch with him since I left Tianjin over 40 years ago, I still retain the vivid memory of him sitting just in front of me, every gesture and whisper just like yesterday. The news of his passing simply doesn’t fit the healthy image that I have of him back in our teenage years.”

I still cannot believe folks of our generation start to drop off the road so early…
Value what we have today. Nothing matters as much as health.


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