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

1, Mar 31, 2016

If you think you are smart, that means one thing to others : contribute more

Filed under: children — admin @ 9:48 pm

I started teaching my son math in his early age so that he would excel over others at least in one field. Being outstanding in one field would give him a good feeling and boost his self-esteem.

When he indeed excelled in math and thought highly of himself in primary school, I told him this,
If you think you are smart and capable, that means one thing to others, that is, contribute one.

Other people won’t admire you and applaud your achievements as your mother does. The main thing that they care is how much they can give to them. If you cannot share a penny of your gain with others, your wealth means nothing to them. You may say sharing is all they care and all that means to them.

I am not sure if he could understand it at that time. As years go by, I hope my children still remember it and come to appreciate this.

1, Mar 29, 2016

Progress with my son’s work… what a delight!

Filed under: Son — admin @ 12:10 am

Last Sunday, five days after his birthday, my son told me that their product now has around 8000 users/customers. I was extremely excited about it, so excited that I wasn’t able to go to sleep for a long time that night.

Prior to this, I was worried about his company. What would they do if they don’t have enough users to generate revenue, especially when they run out of sponsors’ money? The three boys have given up so much for this. They did get some publicity after my son’s presentation at Money 20/20 in October 2015. It’s been a few months since their initial launch last October.

I know my son very well. I know he would not give up if this one didn’t work out. He would try another one. But he has worked on this one for about two years and I wish strongly that he will make it work this time. I think this is his fourth or fifth or even sixth startup, counting those he started during college years. I was worried especially around his birthday. I know his girlfriend is eager to get settled down. It will be five years after his college graduation. I know he has worked so hard all these years.

He keeps telling me not to worry. I should have listened to him. I am so happy for him that I kept thinking about it all day on Monday. I have to write it down here.

1, Mar 28, 2016

Life is a journey, guided by your dream, motivated by a passion

Filed under: Life — admin @ 1:28 am

On my children’s birthday, I wanted to share this with them. In fact, I also want to remind myself that life is a journey, guided by a dream and motivated by a passion to do something greater than ourselves.

A dream is a goal that you want to achieve. No matter what age you are at, never give up life’s dream.

Like Hillary Clinton running for American presidency, not once but twice, when she is on the way to be 70 years old next year. Some call it ambition. Others call it aiming high. I simply call it dream.

Life is full of unexpected twists, turns, obstacles and hardships. The passion to rise above and achieve greatness motivates one to learn, prepare and endure however it takes to get closer to our dreams.

1, Mar 27, 2016

Happy Birthday, my dearest daughter!

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 1:44 am

happy-21-birthday

My dearest daughter, far away from me now, I hope you are going to have another great day today. Do something special with your friends. Take some pictures and share with me.

Love you always.

1, Mar 26, 2016

Life is too short to not feel great…

Filed under: Life — admin @ 8:10 am

I have been feeling low for the last few days, perhaps because of weather plus the departure of a good colleague plus having efiled federal tax. Sadness always comes to me when I finished something.

However today this thought suddenly hit me while I was still lying in bed — life is too short to feel sad, too short not to enjoy every minute of it. I quickly rejected myself out of bed and started feeling on top of the world.

Always remember this when you feel sad again. Life means nothing less than enjoying every minute of it!

By the way, it is a rainy day starting in the morning. When the sun refuses to come out, be the sun yourself. Be the sun for yourself. I will go to bookstore and library. I need to finish Kansas state tax return today.

1, Mar 25, 2016

Cover letter for a job application

Filed under: Career — admin @ 2:38 pm

This is what I wrote when I applied for a position today.

“Nine years ago when I applied for my current position, it took the hiring manager a giant leap of faith to give me an opportunity to thrive and contribute. At that time I did not have any experience in research and in the world of healthcare. I have realized this is a huge trust not only in my ability to learn and grow but also in my attitude and work ethic. I have proved to be worthy of this trust. Today, I apply for this position, hoping to be conferred the same trust again.

While I cannot guarantee that I will be error-free in this position, I can guarantee that I will bring the very best of myself to honor this position.”

I know the hiring manager, so I basically tell her that this is a matter of trust. If she doesn’t give me the job, it means one thing to me, that is, she doesn’t trust me, which is the key. In the beginning of 2014, I applied for this position and was turned down by her due to the fact that I didn’t have nursing background. Then later that year she offered another person, without nursing background, the same job that she denied me.

As with everything, man proposes, God disposes. This is all I can do. I will do my share and let fate take care of the rest.

1, Mar 24, 2016

A gloomy day, made sadder when being alone

Filed under: Life,work — admin @ 6:32 pm

It is two days after my son’s birthday and three days before my daughter’s. In between their birthdays, I am thinking of them and missing them a lot more than before.

Strange it was a cold gloomy March day, with spark of snow in the morning. My mood is always impacted by lack of sunlight. I tried to find reason for this. This is what I read today — “Unraveling the Sun’s Role in Depression –More Evidence That Sunlight Affects Mood-Lifting Chemical in the Brain.”

To be sure, I had a busy day at work, with a morning meeting at OP and a diligent monitor to keep me extra busy. Still, I felt the day being heavily blanketed with an unspeakable sadness. It is the last day of one of the colleagues who came to share the office with me in January 2015. We have had a good working relationship. Plus both of us are book lovers. We talked more about books and our own lives than about work during her stay here. Being aware of the fact that today is her last day surely makes the day sadder. Tomorrow I will be alone in this office.

I have to philosophize the day. In our life’s journey, we don’t know who we will encounter or when our path will cross or when we will part our ways. The only comfort is leaving a place, knowing that we have treated all in our path with honesty and respect.

The real boost of the day is — bringing out the very best of ourselves wherever we are and feeling no regret when we have to say goodbye.

1, Mar 23, 2016

Skin care myths and facts

Filed under: Health — admin @ 11:23 am

This is something that I read sometime ago and I forgot when and where. Below is the whole thing that I have saved and am sharing it here, though I have to say that I don’t agree with the article 100 percent.

“Don’t fall for these skin myths

Think you know a lot about skin and skin care? You might be surprised at how much “common knowledge” about keeping your skin clear and healthy is simply not true.
Here, we debunk 10 common myths about skin.

1. The right skin cream can keep your skin looking young.

There are hundreds of skin treatments that claim to help you look younger or slow the aging process. For reducing wrinkles, the topical treatment with the best evidence behind it is retinoic acid (as in Retin-A). Many over-the-counter products contain retinoic acid, but it’s difficult to say if one is better than another. But the best ways to keep wrinkles at bay are using sunscreen and not smoking.

New information on treatments for both medical skin conditions and cosmetic problems is available in this updated Special Health Report on Skin Care and Repair. This report describes scientifically approved treatments for common medical conditions from acne to rosacea, as well as the newest cosmetic procedures for lines, wrinkles, age spots, and other problems. An explanation of the ingredients in popular skin lotions and cosmeceuticals is also included.

2. Antibacterial soap is best for keeping your skin clean.
Skin normally has bacteria on it. It’s impossible to keep your skin completely free of bacteria for any amount of time. In fact, many experts are concerned that the use of antibacterial soap could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibacterial soap is not necessary for everyday use. Regular soap is fine. Thorough and consistent hand-washing, not antibacterial soap, is what helps prevent the spread of infection.

3. Eating chocolate or oily foods causes oily skin and acne.
The truth is that an oily substance called sebum causes acne. It’s made and secreted by the skin. In fact, there’s no evidence that any specific food causes acne.

4. Tanning is bad for you.
Spending an excessive amount of time in the sun or in a tanning booth can increase skin cancer risk, especially if sunscreen is not used. Skin cancer risk is correlated with total lifetime sun exposure and frequency of sunburns. Excessive tanning can also damage skin, causing it to wrinkle and age prematurely.
But developing a light or gradual tan through repeated, but careful, sun exposure isn’t dangerous. As long as you’re taking precautions — such as using a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, applying it thoroughly and reapplying when necessary, and avoiding peak sun exposure times — a light tan with no burning isn’t a warning sign.

5. Tanning is good for you.
People often associate a dark tan with the glow of good health. But there’s no evidence that tanned people are healthier than paler people. Sun exposure does have a health benefit, though. Sunlight activates vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D helps keep bones strong, and may also lower the risk of certain cancers and boost immune function. Depending on how much vitamin D you’re getting in your diet, a lack of sun exposure could increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency.

6. The higher the SPF of your sunscreen, the better.
Above a certain level, a higher sun protection factor (SPF) has little added benefit compared with a lower SPF. Experts generally recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks out 97% of UVB radiation. It may be worth a higher SPF if you’re planning to be outside for more than two to three hours, especially during hours of peak sun exposure (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). But in most circumstances, a higher SPF may not be worth the extra cost.

7. A scar that is barely noticeable is the mark of a good surgeon.
The true skill of a surgeon is demonstrated by what he or she does between making and closing the incision. While surgeons routinely pay more attention to incisions on the face (using thinner suture, making stitches closer together, or avoiding the use of sutures altogether if possible), the appearance of a scar tells you little about the skill of your surgeon.

8. Vitamin E will make scars fade.
There’s little evidence to support this claim. Talk to your surgeon or dermatologist if you have concerns about the appearance of a scar. There are many options for improving the appearance of scars, including laser treatments.

9. Crossing your legs causes varicose veins.
There are a number of risk factors for varicose veins, but crossing your legs is not one of them. Heredity is one of the most important — an estimated 80% of people with varicose veins have a parent with the same condition. Other things that make a person prone to varicose veins include smoking, inactivity, high blood pressure, pregnancy, obesity, and having a job that requires prolonged standing. If you already have varicose veins, elevating your legs and using compression stockings may be helpful. But keeping your legs “uncrossed” won’t prevent or improve the condition.

10. Scalp massage can prevent baldness.
There’s simply no evidence that scalp massage prevents baldness, tempting as it is to believe.”

1, Mar 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, my great son!

Filed under: Son — admin @ 8:10 am

happy-birthday27
Today is the 27th birthday of my son. I created this to celebrate the day. I wish him a happy birthday. I hope he will do something special to mark the day.

I am so proud of you, the greatest son of all!

1, Mar 17, 2016

Do the right thing always, no matter what you do

Filed under: Life — admin @ 9:51 am

I chatted with a colleague of mine (sidekick) about doing the right thing today. She shared with me how she felt after going to the gym yesterday. Before that, she felt a bit reluctant, like “En, I don’t feel like going on treadmill today. I’m a bit tired. I’ll do it tomorrow, etc” But with a little effort, she conquered herself and did go. She said she felt great after exercise, even if she didn’t start this way. Her husband felt the same way.

I shared with her what I told my children. That is, do the right thing always because that’s the only way that makes you happy in the end. No matter what you do, either drinking or eating or smoking or exercise or gossiping or working, make no exceptions.

Sometimes, when we yield to our weakness we might experience a transient moment of pleasure like when we are over a buffet or when we indulge in gossiping about others or when we spend hours browsing aimlessly on the internet or when we drink or smoke or simply being lazy and skip our daily exercise. But what counts most is how you feel in the end.

1, Mar 15, 2016

Know what brain likes and what it needs to function well

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 12:18 am

I read this piece in Chinese a few weeks ago. Yesterday I translated it into English for my children and my readers here, hoping we all can benefit from this.

(1) Brain likes color. Color can help memorize things.
(2) Brain can focus well for only 25 minutes. Need a break after 25 minutes.
(3) Brain needs rest. If you feel tired, take a 20-minute nap.
(4) Brain needs high-quality fuel. Don’t feed it junk food.
(5) Brain needs water. It won’t functions well in dehydrated state.
(6) Brain likes challenges. Problem-solving enhance productivity.
(7) Brain has its own rhythm of the day. You can get more done during your brain’s prime time of the day.
(8) Brain and body often interact with each other. If your body acts lazily, brain will think you are not doing something serious. Pay attention to your posture while working on serious matters.
(9) Brain is impacted by smell.
(10) Brain needs oxygen. Get fresh air outdoor.
(11) Brain needs space. It helps brain if you work in a spacious room.
(12) Brain likes clean environment. Getting room organized helps brain to be more organized.
(13) Brain suffers damages from too much stress.
(14) Brain does not know what you can or cannot do. Self-talk gives hint to brain what you can or cannot do. Give positive self-talks!
(15) Brain is the same as muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
(16) Brain needs repetition to memorize well. More review, more memorized.
(17) Brain understand faster than your reading speed.
(18) Brain needs exercise.
(19) Brain puts things in their categories by using association. Association helps memory.
(20) Brain likes jokes and humor. You learn more when you are in good mood.

1, Mar 14, 2016

How to be a great employer

Filed under: Career — admin @ 8:15 pm

I don’t remember when I saved this article and where I read it but I remember that I am going to share it here for people like my son who is the head of his company. It is as well-said as it is rare in reality. I wish I could send this to the management team in my workplace. But I know better than that.

7 Proven Ways to Genuinely Connect With Your Employees
Communicating openly with your employees, recognizing them for good work, and giving them room to grow will vastly improve their engagement and your company’s bottom line, by PETER ECONOMY
What kind of difference would it make for your company to get every one of your employees excited about solving problems, making recommendations, expressing their new ideas, and taking care of your customers?

Every company today needs employees who are enthusiastic and who bring the very best of themselves to work. Companies need this not just from top performers but from every employee, every day, in order just to be competitive and survive, let alone thrive. The single element that distinguishes one company from another more than anything else is its people and the effort they exert.

The secret to unlocking this unlimited source of energy for your company is to build and strengthen the bonds between you and your employees. When you trust and respect your people–and really connect with them–they will respond with commitment and enthusiasm. Give these seven strategies for connecting with your employees a try and see for yourself how your organization will benefit.

1. Put people first.
All employees–no matter what their positions are or how well they perform their jobs–want to be respected and valued for their contributions. Respect comes in many different forms: respecting opinions, respecting time, respecting culture, and more. And respect is a two-way street. Employees also need to respect their employers and their own careers instead of viewing their jobs and salaries only as entitlements.

2. Create a safe haven.
In many organizations, bosses rule their employees through bullying, threats, and intimidation. Unfortunately, over the long term, fear causes employees to contribute less to their organizations and to disconnect both mentally (checking out, clamming up) and physically (absenteeism, resignation). Employees must feel safe when they take the initiative to try something new, whether or not the idea works. It’s your job to provide your people with a safe haven to bring forward their ideas, and to tell the truth–no matter how hard it may be for you to hear.

3. Break down barriers to information.
Information is power, and bosses have traditionally wielded this power by selectively granting information to employees or withholding it from them. Organizations today can no longer afford the practice of selective communication. Employees must be informed–through constant, complete, and unfettered communication by their co-workers, managers, and customers–about what’s going on in the organization and their place within it. Only when they have complete information can they and will they give all they have to their organization.

4. Create golden opportunities for personal growth.
Owners have an inherent interest in ensuring that their organizations get the biggest bang for their buck, that is, that revenue is maximized, expenses are minimized, and customers are consistently delighted with the products and services they receive. The granting of stock and other financial incentives is one way to develop a sense of ownership in employees. But there are many other nonfinancial ways that leaders can instill an owner’s mentality in the workplace, including giving employees real responsibility and authority to make decisions that affect their jobs and their work.

5. Undo the organization.
In the past, rigid, bureaucratic, and rule-bound organizations were the model of consistency, dependable results, and steady if not stellar profits. However, this old model of business is now officially extinct, and a new model of business–a lean model built on speed, flexibility, and the active involvement of frontline employees–has taken hold. When you give your employees the responsibility and the authority to do their jobs, you and your organization will be successful because you’re depending on them to do the right thing on their own instead of depending on policies and procedures that force them to do so.

6. Engage your people.
Although many organizations have spent a lot of time over the past few years developing and installing elaborate employee suggestion systems, few have made them a permanent part of the way they do business. Even fewer actually implement the good suggestions they receive. This is a mistake. Employees are a tremendous potential source of organizational improvement, and you should make it a point to regularly tap this wealth of ideas.

7. Make recognition a way of life.
Despite years of research proving the overwhelmingly positive effect of employee recognition on the bottom line, few bosses take the time to recognize and reward their employees for a job well done–and even fewer employees report that they receive either recognition or rewards at work. The amazing thing about this is that the most effective forms of employee recognition cost little or no money, such as verbal and written thank-you’s for employees who do a good job, and publicly celebrating team and group successes.

1, Mar 12, 2016

The relationship between meditation and wisdom

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 3:48 pm

I read this article last week “The Relationship between Mental and Somatic Practices and Wisdom” by Patrick B. Williams1, Heather H. Mangelsdorf1, Carly Kontra1, Howard C. Nusbaum1, Berthold Hoeckner. The article is 14 pages long. Below are the key points that I collect from the article. The main thing is meditation helps increase your wisdom.

The article “explore possible mediating relationships of experience and wisdom by characteristics thought to be components of wisdom. Wisdom was higher on average among meditation practitioners, and lowest among ballet dancers,…”

“Common themes [of wisdom] include the skillful use of knowledge acquired through life experience, lowered anxiety in the face of difficult life decisions, careful reflection on the mental states of oneself and others, and action based in compassion and pro-social behavior.”

“wisdom is characterized as a deep and accurate perception of reality, in which insight into human nature and a diminished self-centeredness are acquired through life experience and practice in perspective taking..”

“Experimental research into the malleability of wisdom suggests that wisdom is affected by training specific strategies for gaining knowledge, inferring insight from personal experience, and viewing difficult situations from a distanced perspective…”

“Meditation is a practice long associated with the development of wisdom in Buddhist and Taoist traditions. Meditation may influence wisdom in multiple ways, for example by increasing interpersonal skills and by decreasing general anxiety through increased emotional self-regulation.”

“Wisdom is often characterized by the ability to face difficult situations with lowered stress and anxiety, and meditation may train the sort of emotional self-regulation that leads to this quiescent mental state. In experimental settings, brief meditation training has been associated with increased optimism and reduced recall of negative words, suggesting that meditation influences affect by reducing the impact of negative thoughts and stimuli.”

“…the results suggest that practicing emotional regulation in the course of meditation training leads to a decreased focus on negative thoughts and stimuli.”

1, Mar 11, 2016

13 things you should STOP doing right now to become more productive

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 10:41 pm

I read this piece somewhere earlier this year. I thought of sharing them with my children but kept delaying until today. Then I forgot where I read it. I wish I could give someone some credit. Here are the key points.

Following are 13 things you should STOP doing right now to become more productive:
1. Impulsive web browsing
2. Multitasking–not to do
3. Checking email throughout the day
4. Moral licensing. This idea that we “deserve” to splurge on fancy meal after being thrifty for a week is called “moral licensing,” and it undermines a lot of people’s plans for self-improvement. Instead, try making your goal part of your identity, such that you think of yourself as the kind of person who saves money or works out regularly, rather than as someone who is working against their own will to do something new.

5. Putting off your most important work until later in the day
6. Taking too many meetings
7. Sitting all day with any exercise
8. Hitting the snooze button trying to delay getting up
9. Failing to prioritize

10. Over-planning–Many ambitious and organized people try to maximize their productivity by meticulously planning out every hour of their day. Unfortunately, very often things don’t always go as planned.
11. Under-planning– first determine what you want your final outcome to be, then lay out a series of steps for yourself. Once you’re halfway through, you can review your work to make sure you’re on track and adjust accordingly.
12. Keeping your phone next to your bed.

13. Perfectionism—More often than laziness the root of procrastination is the fear of noting doing a good job. “We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well … And that can take time.” The only way to overcome procrastination is to abandon perfectionism and not fuss over details as you move forward. Pretending the task doesn’t matter and that it’s OK to mess up could help you get started faster.

1, Mar 3, 2016

Preconception and expectations: How I Read Pat Conroy’s 2009 novel South of Broad

Filed under: Book — admin @ 11:09 pm

Preconception can channel one’s expectations. It can also narrow one’s vision. This is how I experienced when I was reading Pat Conroy’s 2009 novel South of Broad.

Before opening South of Broad, I knew that Pat Conroy writes in the tradition of southern literature. Hence, I expected the Faulkner ingredients in Conroy’s book, unearthly death, suicide of the best and the smartest one, promiscuity, incest, mental illness, unspeakable deviance, and the hollow aristocratic pride and prejudice of a dying world with undying people. It turns out Conroy’s book has all of them and much more. Wasn’t I right!

“… a priest appears in the room with his arm around the throat of a struggling, naked boy. The boy is beautiful and blond; the priest is handsome, virile, and strong. The boy tries to scream, but the priest stops him with a hand around his mouth. The boy struggles, but he is overpowered and raped by the priest, and raped brutally,…”

That rape leads to Steve’s suicide. Leo King, the protagonist and Steve’s younger brother, and his family “suffered a collective nervous breakdown” after they buried the boy. Another person, Leo’s father, dearest to Leo, died when Leo was 18 years old.

The twin, Sheba and Trevor Poe, were sexually abused as children by their father who, “started out as a run-of-the-mill pedophile; …had a bad habit of eating his own feces.” In the end, this is what the father did to Sheba, “…unrecognizable if you didn’t know her, lies the hideous, mangled corpse of the radiantly beautiful American actress Sheba Poe. She has stab wounds all over, even to her face and both eyes…”

Leo married Starla Whitehead, who suffers “borderline personality disorder” and also commits suicide. At the end of the book, events happened to Leo and to his loved ones turn into a “galvanic nightmare,” so much as that Leo’s life falls apart. He caves in to the black hole of depression, becoming suicidal himself. He has to check into a psychiatric ward to regain his sanity.

This is how my preconception of southern literature leads me to read out of Conroy’s South of Broad novel and how I remember the book.

For the record, I picked up this book because a colleague of mine recommended the author. Of course, after my reading, I went back to my colleague with this question, “What is it that you like this author so much?” She mentioned the heart-warming friendship of the group of middle aged folks when they flew out to San Francisco to look for one of their high school buddies–Trevor.

This is how the story goes. About 20 years after their high school graduation, Sheba, now a famous movie actress came back to Charleston, asking her high school friends to help find her twin brother, Trevor, whom she believes is dying of AIDS. Leo, Frazer, Molly, Niles, Ike, Betty, together with Sheba all went with her to San Francisco. They were there for about two weeks before they located and brought back their friend.

I was not impressed by this part at first. I tried to disqualify this as being too far-fetched. Partly because I was expecting deviant elements to live up to my self-fulfilling prophecy in south literature; partly because I was truly not familiar with the close-knit, inter-related small town life like Charleston.

I was reminded that such friendship was possible in small towns where people grow up together, play in the same high school football team; go to the same local college, and back to work in the same town. In this book, they become further inter-related through marriage, Niles marries Frazer, Chad’s sister; Leo marries Starla, Niles’ sister. Molly becomes part of the clan through marriage with Chad. Sheba and Trevor are friends to all of them.

No doubt that I was initially restricted by my own preconceptions and experience. That is, I didn’t grow up in a small community like this. Still, I cannot tell if the novel is a fictional rendition of the author’s overall cheerful sentiment about human society or realistic depiction of a small southern town life.

It’s been a few weeks since I returned the book to our local library. The characters and the tragic events are still vivid in my mind. The paradox that challenged me has remained unresolved. I cannot shake off the irony posed in the book about traditional society. That is, a close-knit community that has retained many traditional values and features is supposed to reach out to everyone and provide more channels of social, emotional and psychological support than modern society does, be it in the form of church or family or friends, so that people would not resort to suicide.

The irony in the book is, in the end, none of them works for Leo King, just as none of them ever works for his brother Steve who succeeds in taking his own life. When all else fails and when Leo became “the most suicidal client who has ever walked into her (Dr.) office,” he has to be saved by modern medicine and was signed into the psychiatric ward of the Medical University Hospital of South Carolina, a modern and rather dehumanized institution to a traditional society.

When I discussed this paradox with my colleague, I was reminded of the fact that in many small communities like the one in the book, people are trapped in this façade of their moralistic upbringing. They are nice and polite to each other, but they choose not to share with each other their dirty linen. They are more concerned with preserving the surface of their little perfect life than being psychologically healthy. I must admit that I have tread into an area that I am not familiar with.

No doubt this is another thought-provoking novel that I have read this year.

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