If you need a good laugh, read H.L. Mencken


On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. H. L. Mencken

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.

Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia – to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

A bad man is the sort who weeps every time he speaks of a good woman.



Introducing Zhongshi Chen’s Modern Classic, White Deer Plain


I wrote this great book review and published on Critical Flame.

I am not sure how large is the readership on this book review. It won’t make much sense if you have not read the original novel, White Deer Plain. Since there is no English version of the novel, only those who can read in Chinese can possibly read this, which makes readership even smaller.

Another discouraging fact is in this age of mobile technology, people don’t have time for long novel like this. They don’t have time for even short essays like what I posted on LinkedIn. The age of no deep reading. It is what it is.



Doing what you preach: teaching local Chinese kids, making Xmas ornaments…


I went to Blue Valley library today to teach a group of Chinese kids making Christmas ornaments, like the ones I posted on 11/17/2016. I remember the words that I kept telling my children when they were small, if you are smart and want to mean something to others, do one thing — help others. Whatever you know, whatever you have means nothing to others, if you don’t share with others, if you are selfish… I am glad that I have lived up to what I once preached, exemplify the virtue that I want my children to possess.

I only hope the children were teenagers or little ones with their parents around helping them. It took too long to get anything across with the little ones. I don’t think I have achieved what I had planned. I wish I have the virtue of patience. I’d like to work with teenagers, sharing with them both skills and ideas. But I guess by teenage years, kids feel like above doing things like this. They might not like listening to adults at all. That’s life.



Three salient features of Poor man’s mentality


I wrote this wonderful piece a few days ago. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments. Thank you.

People are likely to associate mentality of the poor with the real poor who have no plan of getting out of government assistance. But in reality this mentality is found not just among the real poor. It exists within many who are in the range of middle class. It is the mentality that traps people where they are for decade after decade, leading them to be surrounded by a pile of poor man’s junks.

Number one salient feature of this mentality is they don’t know the value of time, in that they value money more than time. They are willing to save money at the cost of spending extra time. They let time pass without gaining any tangible and intangible value. In a way, we all trade our time for money when we go to work every day. Very often, how much value we can extract from our time at office is not entirely up to us to decide. Some people have to take a day job for basic sustainability so that they can work on their day dreams as soon as the day job is over. There are always something that we can control in regard to our time. Here are some examples.

An IT guy who works in the neighborhood of Overland Park Convention Center lives north of the Missouri River. He spends an hour and half daily on the road. He told me that he would not be able to buy a large house like his in Overland Park. Never mind about the cost of daily gas and the stress on the road. I would say he exhibits the mentality of the poor when he tries to save money by squandering extra driving time every day. The thought process must be like this– while time is free, large house costs more. He would trade his free time for the costly house.

Influenced by this mentality, he finds it hard to part with his money and would grab anything that is free. Here’s what he doesn’t realize: the free time is not unlimited. With money, he earns, spends and can earn it back; but not with time. Always keep this in mind — time is the only thing in life that we have less and less.

It is because they don’t value the free yet limited resource that they don’t invest wisely their time to generate more values or assets. People waste something that is the most valuable one in life.

There is another case where a friend of mine drove us around the town in Los Angeles to find sale beef. For a ridiculously insignificant amount of saving, we spent like an hour checking in and out grocery stores. It even seems comical.

Number two of poor man’s mentality is to trade health for money. Like when people work strenuously or sit there for so long that they won’t stop until they are struck down by illness. They don’t know how to extend their life span by investing in some fitness activity or by stopping working when they should. Whatever they earned is not enough to pay their medical bills or to bring back their health and enable them to enjoy life. What a short-sighted idiocy!

Number three is to bring home sale items or free stuffs even if he doesn’t need them. Nothing is free. Everything he brings home takes up his time and space. Once again this mentality leads people to trade their time with some cheap or free stuff that they don’t really need, and later on they will have to spend some time to decide how to dispose it, like selling them at garage sale. Gradually they end up being collectors of poor man’s junks and their lifetime will be an endless cycle of junk collection and junk disposal. How pathetic!

My 85-year-old mother knows best. She keeps telling me, “Don’t bring back anything from America. They are all made in China. If I need, I can get it cheaper here. More important, I don’t need anything.” I know what she needs most. My time. Good luck on this.



Men, you don’t have to follow the masculine norms, it’s for your own mental health


I read this article today. I cannot say that there is a definite association between masculine norms and man’s mental health. But I can say for sure that the society-enforced masculine norms are unnatural. And anything unnatural is detrimental to our health. Take for example self-reliance. On the one hand, it is great that we are financially independent, that we don’t have to be seeking daily assistance; on the other hand, we are social beings. From time to time, we rely on each other emotionally, psychologically, and financially. It would be unnatural if a man tries to appear like a superman when he is not.

The title of the article is “Being sexist could harm men’s health, study suggests”

The article starts this way, “Men who have “playboy” attitudes and believe in power over women may face a higher risk for mental health trouble than men who don’t, a broad new research review suggests.”

The findings from the studies that involved nearly 19,500 predominantly white male participants include:
(1) “the more that men conformed to masculine norms the poorer their mental health, and the less likely they were to seek mental health services… men who adhere to masculine norms are generally in a worse state of mental health, and less motivated to seek psychological help.”
(2) “self-reliance was the trait most strongly associated with worse psychological outcomes.”
(3) “masculine norms was more likely to be associated with being lonely, hostile or having problems socializing than it was to a risk for depression.”

The study defines “masculine norms” as
— the desire to win;
— to retain emotional control;
— to take risks;
— to engage in violence;
— to exert dominant behavior;
— to participate in a “playboy” lifestyle;
— to be self-reliant;
— to elevate work to the highest level of importance;
— to retain power over women;
— to maintain a disdain for homosexuals;
— and to pursue “status.”



Christmas for the needy families


Our clinic participates in adopting a needy family during this holiday season. Below are the items that they need. It gives me a sad feeling when I go through the list. I think of my children and miserable I would be if I wasn’t able to provide them with what they needed when they were small.

Mom Age 32
· Wears size M Shirt
· Wears 12/13 Pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Coat Size Large
daughter Age 12
· Wears size L Shirt
· Wears 14 youth pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Favorite Color RED
daughter Age 2
· Wears size 4-5t Shirt
· Wears size 4-5t Pants
· Wears Shoes size 10 Toddlers
· Loves Disney Princesses, Peppa Pig & Mickey Mouse
· Favorite Colors PINK & PURPLE

Items that are needed/requested:
1. Coats
2. Gloves
3. Toddler Bedding
4. Twin Bedding
5. King Bedding (Earth tones/Black/White/Grey Preferred)
6. Sweatpants
7. Underwear (Size 7)
8. Shirts
9. Pants
10. Gift Cards for the Teenager (Target/Walmart/etc.)
11. Toys/Dolls for Toddler (Disney princess preferred)



The highest insult at workplace


I wrote and posted this one today while at work.

1. Unappreciative of Efforts
2. Lack Recognition and Respect
3. Constant Criticism
4. Expect Employees to Be Like Them
5. Hypocrisy
6. Delegate Too Much – or Not Enough
7. Micromanagement
8. Manipulative
9. Don’t Value Employees

What an awful list! Two years ago when I read Glenn Lopis’ article “9 Ways Leaders Insult Their Employees,” I thought who, in his/her right mind, would do these to his/er employees, like hypocrisy, manipulative? Get real! Not in my wildest dreams!

I have seen micromanagement. It is called super responsibility in my vocabulary. I have no complaint about it as long as the manager takes responsibility for whatever under his micro.

Many of the items in the list look like the same thing to me, like appreciation, recognition, respect and value. Of course, appreciation and recognition encourage people to keep doing what they have done. But what difference does it make if you are paid adequately? We are old enough not to crave for recognition, and we won’t do a shoddy job even if we are not duly appreciated. Respect? It would be nice if you are truly respected. But how do you know it’s genuine or not? I can live without it. What matters most is you are treated legally, that is, without any form of discrimination.

To me, the highest workplace insult for someone, who is the key player in a team and who should play the leading role in a project, is assigned a subordinate position and is told to play second fiddle to an outsider who doesn’t know what he is talking about and who interferes in whatever the key player does.

Readers, what is the highest insult that you have experienced at your workplace? Go to LinkedIn to post your comments.



The season of giving … share the joy of origami with patients, colleagues and all….


I made over 50 of origami ornaments and donated them to our clinic. These will be sold at $4 each and the proceeds from the sale will go to benefit some needy families during the holiday season. I felt like breathing a sigh of relief when I finally handed them over. It’s a few months in the making. I have realized that it takes more time on my part than simply handing out some cash. It’s not that I have more time than money but the fact that I wish to share with people the joy of origami. I am sure the joyful color will bring festivity to the season.

This is one of the reasons that I’d like to involve in teaching teenagers. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. No fear of spoiling the soup.
origami-ornament-home-door
origami-ornaments-office
the-joy-of-origami-ornaments



Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (designed for 文化村英文读书会 by 吕行)

1. Why do you think Coates decided to format the book as a letter to his son? Why is it effective? (Fun fact: the book wasn’t formatted this way until the book’s fourth draft!)

2. Coates praises Malcolm X for being “the first pragmatist I knew” (p. 36) and speaking like “a man who was free” (p. 36). Do you think Coates would describe his own writing in this book as such?

3. How does he differentiate between the racist individual and racism as an institution? Does he believe there is a difference? How does the moment in the movie theater with his son speak to both?

4. Who are the Dreamers? What does he mean when he says “The Dream is the enemy of all art?” (p. 50)

5. Coates claims that he has not spent his life studying the “problem of race” (p. 115) and yet many would argue that the problem of race is this book’s very focal point. Why is this an important contradiction?

6. What is “the black body?” (p. 35) Who are those who “believe they are white?” (p. 42)

7. What did Coates gain at Howard University that he feels other universities in America could not offer?

8. Describe why Coates felt more freedom as a foreigner in France than as an American. Why did he feel it was important to take his son to Paris?

9. How does he differentiate between the violence at home (in the form of corporal punishment) and the violence experienced by the black body outside of home?



Five categories of to-do list


When I was in school, weekend relaxation started Friday noon. When I work, weekend planning starts Friday afternoon when I am physically in the office but have mentally checked out. Sometimes I made such a long ambitious list for the weekend that it is even discouraging to look at it. Recently I found that I will be able to get more things done if I divide the tasks into different categories. I think for me there are at least 5 categories of to-do list for now.

(1) Office (I make this one during weekday, not on weekend)
(2) Sideline –books I’m reading, articles that I have saved and will read, pictures that I will take, writing topics;
(3) Friends and relative — my children, my relatives in China, crafts I promise my colleagues, friends I will contact, volunteer activities if there is an opportunity
(4) Family — grocery shopping, cleaning (endless), kitchen work, yard work;
(5) Personal care — walk and other exercise, daily mental exercise, memory training.



Reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


I remember a colleague of mine told me she couldn’t remember what was about in a book that she has read. Now that I have read novels and non-fictions one after another, I want to make sure that I will take home at least one thing from each of the books that I have read. I just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

The story is pretty straightforward. As the title indicates, A Little Life, it is about one person’s little life — Jude, though the novel starts with the lives of four college kids.
JB — artist, gay man
Willem — actor, gay man
Jude St. Francis — lawyer, gay man
Malcolm — architect, non-gay, got married
In the end, only JB survives. Willem and Malcolm died in a car accident. The four men were friends and roommates in college and continued being friends throughout their lives.

More than anything else, the novel is about the long-time impact of the traumatic experience that Jude had during his childhood. He was a foundling in a bag by a dumpster, picked up, raised and abused by monks in a monastery. One man (Brother Luke, a pimp) took him out of the monastery when he was 8 years old and turned him into a male prostitute. He prostituted till he was 15 years old. He developed the habit of cutting himself during that period and continued throughout his life.

Jude wasn’t able to recover psychologically and emotionally from his childhood trauma throughout his life, even though he was smart, very handsome, worked very hard, became successful lawyer, loved by everybody who knew him. He committed suicide at age 53.

I think the author’s message is one’s children’s trauma is like a lifelong psychological wound that is hard to erase, that is continuing cutting a person, that it is crucial that parents provide children with a happy childhood so that they can grow into healthy adults.

Some people might think there are plenty of people who haven’t had healthy childhoods and not all end up killing themselves. I agree with this view. There are always something that we cannot control in our lives, especially in our childhood, but once we are strong enough to protect ourselves and wise enough to make sound decision, we can be and should be masters of our lives.

Then again, I think people are different. In some rare cases, some people simply can’t rise above life’s traumas and adversities. Since I don’t have that kind of extremely traumatic childhood, thank goodness, so I don’t know what I would do if I were in Jude’s shoes. That’s why I try not to judge too harshly.



Plan for next year… continue good practice


When I started my current job in 2005 in healthcare area, I realized this was a totally new field for me and I had a lot to learn at this place. So I made a point of learning at least one thing a day. I even created a file named “What I learn Today” to record my learning. lol

I plan to quit my job at the end of this year. But I don’t want to get lazy and boring, and quit some of the practice that has benefited me for the past decade. One of them is learning new thing everyday, even if it’s not everyday, at least continuously.

With this plan, I have changed the title of this site to “Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day”

I hope my readers will learn and grow with me as days go by.



Employees as Customers: Loyalty, Trust, Empathy and Happiness


This is what I wrote today at office,

People might not see employees this way, but when an employee is considering changing jobs, it bears some similarities to a Sprint customer thinking of switching to AT&T or Verizon. Here are four places that show their similarities.

Number 1: accessibility. Because customer service cost money, some companies discourage customers to talk to the real person by making it difficult for customers to reach them. So, making customer service accessible is the first step to a good service. Similarly, a good employer will provide its employees with an avenue through which an employee can unreservedly share his work-related ideas and thoughts. I remember vividly when, back in 2013, my workplace hired an outside listening ear to hear what people had in mind. During the meeting with these outsiders without the presence of our manager, people were like horses being unbridled, vying with one another to have their voices heard. Because they don’t have such an opportunity as often as they wish. Such listening ears should be always available.

Number 2: same expectation. When customers called customer service, they expect customer service agents to treat them with due respect and make them happy and satisfied. When people go to work, they have the same expectation of their employer as the customers.

Number 3, same win-win situation. That is, if the company respects and treats customers decently, making efforts to make them happy and meet their need, customers will more likely to remain loyal to the company and to stick at it for as long as they can. This benefit both the company and the customers. It’s the same win-win situation between an employer and his employees.

Number 4, same empathy. That is, we listen to both employees and customers with the same empathy and same eagerness to help them out. Because we are dealing with human beings, be they customers or employers, we need the same kindness, sincerity and the capacity to understand and meet their need.

The thought for the leaders: if you think customer service is all about making customers happy, we can say the same thing about managing people.



People are different. It is unprofessional to Compare one Employee to Another


Today I wrote this one at the office. Enjoy!

There was one incident at my workplace where a manager told one person, “Look at what L is doing at her role. And what you’ve done?” The word made that employee instinctively on the defense. I was watching and at the time speechless at this unprofessional behavior from the management team.

It is unprofessional because we have our professional standards, in that one employee is not the standard for the others to follow. All the employees are expected to live up to their job descriptions, good clinical practice, FDA guideline, etc.

It is unprofessional because people are vastly different in their personal aspiration and their social, educational, economic, cultural, ethnic background. Each of us come to the office not empty-handed but heavily loaded with values, dreams, hopes, and everything up to that point that has made what we are. Our past defines our present. Some employees dream big while others are happy without any dreams.

It is unprofessional for a manager to say this because it is potentially pitting one against another instead of encouraging teamwork.

The thought for the management: as long as the employees live up to what is expected professionally, accept them as what they are.


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