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

1, Mar 31, 2015

More on JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 9:58 pm

Yesterday I had a long Skype chat with my daughter, during which I mentioned to her the books that I read recently. Of course, I recommended to her The Casual Vacancy.

I told her the book was a bit depressing. The more you think about it, the more so. It seems the only good person, the champion for the underprivileged in the novel, Barry Fairbrother, died at the beginning of the novel and no one carries on his cause after his death. Krystal Weedon, the 16-year-old girl whom Barry tried to raise out of her disadvantaged milieu, in the end died with her 3-year-old brother whom she loved dearly, the only touching love in the novel.

My daughter asked why Rowling wrote this depressing book. I told her it was an eye-opening book, very realistic. She should read it, even if it is depressing.

1, Mar 29, 2015

Reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 8:04 pm

I finished reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, a 2012 novel this weekend.

The novel begins with the death of Councillor Barry Fairbrother and ends with the funeral of a 16-year-old and her 3-year-old brother, a rather depressing way to start and end a book! The novel depicts two totally different worlds in today’s England: one that of middle class neighborhood, secure and affluent but not so full of love, the other ghetto-like place plagued by drug addicts, prostitution, and rape, but filled with a touching love of a sister toward her baby brother, which is the only genuine love in the novel. Bless them for not having as many gun violence as in the U.S.

The novel also pinpoints the vital part that the government can play in changing the life of ghetto people. It reminds me of Dickens’ novels and some inner city poor neighborhoods here in the U.S. Their living is so precarious that many are not able to live to adulthood as in the death of the 16- and 3-year-old, children of a drug addict.

Another theme is the dysfunctional relationship between parents and their teenage children in middle class families: Andrew Price vs his parents; Fats Wall vs. his parents; Sukhvinder vs. her parents;

The conflicts between these teenagers and their parents reach to the point that the teenagers hack individually the Parish Council online forum site and post rather malicious attacks against their own parents, all in the name of The_Ghost_Of_Barry_Fairbrother, resulting in one parent losing his job, another suffering heart attack, another becoming less normal. I wish many parents can read this novel and at least learn that there are unpleasant consequences for being abusive and disrespectful.

I must say the book is rather depressing. Still, it is an eye-opening must-read on many levels. I knew it would be a good one from Harry Potter’s writer.

1, Mar 28, 2015

Another weekend to-do list

Filed under: weekend activity — admin @ 11:20 am

3/28/2015, Saturday morning.
I went out as soon as I got up and drank a cup of water. It was rather cold today. I made sure I wore enough coat when I went out. I also carried a backpack with house key, cellphone, purse, a bottle of drink in case I was hungry and felt weak on the way, something to read on the way in case my mp3 player being dead, and a IRS refund check.

I walked to the Capital Federal Savings at the corner of 95th street and Nall. It’s less than 5 miles round walk. I felt it a long stretch but not that terrible and not tired after I got back.

After breakfast, I sat down to make a to-do list for the day:
1) Send out our Kansas tax return
2) Complete online my Missouri tax return
3) Complete online my daughter’s Massachusetts state tax return
4) Complete my daughter’s financial aid application
5) Practice ukelele
6) Write something about The Casual Vacancy novel that I have been reading this week, though not done yet. This is an interesting topic. This is something I’d like to do at least once a week.

1, Mar 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, my beloved daughter!

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:30 am

My daughter is in Boston right now. I hope she can do something special today with her friends. Good thing it is Friday. Here’s a custom-made one for her.
Happy20birthday
I hope I could give her a huge hug and whatever she needs on her birthday, but she is so far away from Kansas. I can only call her and wish her the best.
Love you always. Happy birthday!

1, Mar 24, 2015

Meetings everyday except Monday–Totally Unrelated to me

Filed under: work — admin @ 9:20 pm

We have meetings everyday this week, except Monday. I told my colleague how I dislike this strongly. She simply laughed.

Today, my colleague and I drove to Fairway to attend a site initiation visit meeting from the sponsor, which took nearly the whole morning. I felt tired after that and would like a nap, but of course I couldn’t.

Tomorrow I will have to attend one at Westwood for the so-called CTO Research Coordinator Monthly Meeting. On Thursday, I will go to Overland Park site for another monthly research meeting. Friday will be the CTO Monthly Staff Meeting.

The point is I feel totally unrelated when I am at these meetings. I really don’t care. I really don’t want to spend my time living out other people’s dream. They are unrelated to my agenda. I sit there with an obvious unconcerned look and a truly absent mind throughout the meetings.

1, Mar 23, 2015

Reading Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:32 am

After sustaining the perverted, sociopath, criminals, and the disgusting trappings of sadomasochism in Fifty Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, In Cold Blood, and ‘People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo’, I decided to give myself a wholesome break and turned to Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark written in 1915, as I remember fondly one of my favorite books, Cather’s My Antonia and really miss both the book and that kind of people.

But guess what? I ended up with a bit disappointment. Because I have been pre-conditioned to too many dark turns of events, I was somehow expecting all the time something evil cropping up or lurking somewhere, but no evil found; like when the young Thea Kronborg went to Dr. Archie’s office in the evening to make a call to a patient, like when she went to Chicago alone at that tender age, a country girl in big city, like when she was alone with Fred Ottenburg, as if the married Ottenburg was surely going to ruin her. I feel something like an anticlimax coming down when nothing of that kind happened. People are so nice and kind that they almost seem unreal. I am too down to earth to accept fairy-tale ending like this.

The plot is remarkably simple, Thea Kronborg, an artistically gifted girl from a religious Sweden stock in Colorado, is determined to develop her artistic potential, regardless of whatever obstacles, venturing out alone as a teenager to Chicago, New York, then to Germany, and eventually becomes an acclaimed opera singer in NYC metropolitan opera.

At some point, I was truly impressed by her dogged determination, her strong will, her steadfastness, like the first generation of immigrants. I thought it was a must read for my children. Here’s an example of “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Then I change my mind.

In the end, Dr. Archie, who went to New York to watch her perform, said to her “I’m afraid you don’t have enough personal life, outside your work, Thea.” This is what I was thinking toward the end. With that, I am not sure if she is truly happy, even with her tremendous success. Perhaps she is, according to her definition.

Similar to the protagonist in Cather’s My Antonia, Thea Kronborg, uprooted herself from where she grows up, is inextricably connected to her birth place. And, no matter how far she moves away and for how long, she constantly experiences an aching longing for the past she left behind, the one that exists only in her memory, Cather’s constant theme of nostalgia among people who are like Thea Kronborg, leaving behind a past but still keep it in their dream. This may be part of the appeal to me.

As Thea quotes Wagner, “Art is only a way of remembering youth. And the older we grow the more precious it seems to us, and the more richly we can present that memory…”

Still a beautiful one…

1, Mar 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, my beloved son

Filed under: Son — admin @ 12:53 am

My son and his friends are in France right now for his birthday. I am so happy for him. Here’s a custom-made happy birthday picture to him.
Happy26birthday

I am so grateful and feel heavenly blessed for having such a great son.
I love you. Happy birthday!

1, Mar 21, 2015

Another weekend by myself

Filed under: weekend activity — admin @ 10:34 am

Early this morning we drove to the airport to send another adult for the annual China trip. The flight was 6:30 AM, but I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep.

When I got back from the airport, it was only 6:30, too early to take a walk. So I checked wechat and found Jack Ma’s speech in English before audience like Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. I thought I would take a peek, then go out for a walk, but I couldn’t stop myself as I started watching. I felt a bit dazzled by his powerful speech. I will share this with my son.

After the video, I hurriedly went outside for my morning walk. It was 9 AM after I got back. I knew I got a lot to do today, though I’d rather go to a bookstore and stay there for the rest of the day.

Here’s my to-do list for the day:
(1) Write something on this site, as my children’s birthdays are approaching.
(2) Complete my daughter’s 2014 tax return.
(3) Complete 2014 state tax return for us.
(4) Complete 2014 Missouri tax return for myself since I work there and live in KS.
(5) Go to costco and other grocery store.
(6) Write a review on the novel that I just read, The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, written in 1915.
(7) Practice ukulele for at least 40 minutes.
Of course, sadly to say, no bookstore today. Maybe tomorrow.

1, Mar 10, 2015

Birthday trip to Europe

Filed under: Son — admin @ 10:12 pm

My son called today, telling me that he is leaving for Europe this Friday, 3/13/15, with his girlfriend and three other friends, totally 5 of them. It’s a 10-day trip. He will have his birthday in Europe this year. So delighted to hear from him!

Wish him a fun, safe trip!

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