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

1, Jul 3, 2017

An unforgettable meeting with an old friend

Filed under: Friend,Life — admin @ 3:01 pm

It’s been nearly two weeks since I came back from China. I was in China between 4/4 and 6/20. While I was in China, I had many gatherings with friends and old classmates. Some I met more than once.

I met up with Bin at 11:30 on 6/3/2017, our second meeting. We initially planned to meet at Fangjia hutong, but we changed the place because it was too crowded with a wedding activity. We ended up in a small coffee shop on Beixinqiao avenue, close to san-tiao.

Before saying goodbye, he gave me some advice. He said I am at the best time in my life–free from financial worries, free from parental responsibilities, free from physical constraints, free to do whatever I want to do previously but was held back due to this or that reason.

That’s so true! I keep asking myself this question: what is it that I want to do? I know I still have a lot to contribute and to share with. I have this or that plan. But what is it that I’m so passionate about? Teaching? But where? Writing?

In order not to waste time, I have been pouring efforts on Italian language since I came back.

Time is running out like crazy. I need to roll up my sleeves now. More on this later.

1, Jun 30, 2014

Be a friend to all who know you

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:51 am

Last Friday, a colleague of mine at my previous office wrote to me telling me that she had handed in her resignation and next week would be her last week. She is going back to school full-time now. I am so glad for her. I told her to keep in touch and update me of her progress. Below is what I wrote to her.

“This is the word that I am going to give you and this is what I have tried to follow, no matter where I go. It’s not easy, but trust me this is the only way for people to feel good:
Be a friend to all who know you.
Your friend.”

1, Aug 19, 2013

A gathering with some friends last Saturday

Filed under: Friend,weekend activity — admin @ 12:30 am

Last Saturday evening, the last Saturday before my daughter leaves for college, a friend of mine invited us together with some others to her house for a gathering. It was very kind of her.

There my daugher met another incoming college girl, also a Chinese. The girl will go to Princeton University. This is the first child that I met this year who has been admitted into the school of her choice. All others have applied but was turned down by all top-notched ones like Harvard, MIT, etc.

This further confirms that academic excellence alone won’t get you to the top. A student must do something extraordinary. Here are something that this girl has achieved while in high school,

National/Regional Aspirations in Computing Winner from National Center for Women & Information Technology
Presidential Scholar Candidate from US Department of Education

1, Aug 5, 2013

Saturday gathering at a friend’s house

Filed under: Friend,weekend activity — admin @ 12:38 am

Last Saturday, 8/3, we went to a friend’s house for a gathering. We talked a lot about college cost, current economy and job situation, especially for young college graduates.

To be sure, the situation does not look bright for the younger generation. Many of these college graduates, without a full time employment or having to engage in something unrelated to their education, got a long way to go before they can become financially independent, settle down, get married, have children and buy a house.

Let us hope the incoming college students will see a better economy when they graduate in year 2017.

1, Jul 27, 2013

Friends coming over last Saturday

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:17 am

Last Saturday, 7/20, we invited a friend and her parents to come over. Her parents came to visit their daughter from Hunan.

Last Christmas, she invited us to come over to her house. My children had a good time playing with her dog. So I thought of inviting her parents to come over for a dinner.

It was a pity that her mother cannot speak mandarin and I cannot understand Hunan dialect. Her father had a good time, though. My daughter baked an apple cake, which went down well with our guests.

1, Jul 2, 2013

A party at a friend’s house

Filed under: Friend,What I am doing — admin @ 12:53 am

Last Saturday, a friend of mine invited us together with 5 or 6 families to gather at her house as her parents were here and would leave soon.

One family is going to send their son to medical school, from there we talked a lot about the cost of going to college and beyond. My impression is most Chinese parents are willing to invest in their children’s future.

More than one people complimented my daughter’s Chinese. Some even asked where she grew up. They were surprised to learn that none of my children had gone to Chinese school, yet they all could talk like native.

We had plenty of good food there. Next morning we had to go extra miles to burn them out.

1, Jan 28, 2013

A friend’s facebook is all about his children

Filed under: Friend,Life — admin @ 12:55 am

Last Saturday, while my daughter was in Manhattan, I went out doing some grocery shopping. The weather was so warm inside the car that I felt like some time in June or near summer days, which once again brought to my mind memories that I hold dearly about summer, either driving my children to summer school or myself in a relaxing mood. Oh well, another illusion.

While I was searching for a plant that I just bought, I thought of going to facebook, where, for the first time, I went to a friend of mine just to take a peep at his latest career development.

To my surprise, his facebook site consists nearly all pictures of his sons, mainly the elder one who seems to be the source of great pride to his father. In fact, I did not see anything about his career.

I thought of the facebook sites of some of my colleagues here, which display the pictures of their children. Maybe this is what facebook is supposed to be. Or maybe at our age we don’t have anything to display other than the pictures of our beautiful daughters and handsome sons. Or maybe…

I don’t know why. I just think it interesting.

1, Oct 21, 2012

Graduation present to my friend, good old Confucius’ teaching

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 1:42 am

This is my attempt at translating Confucius teaching posted yesterday.

Confucius says “Isn’t it a great joy when you study and review what you study? Isn’t it a great joy when friends from afar come to see you? Am I not a gentleman when I don’t feel offended when others don’t understand me?”

Students should fulfill filial duty at home, exercise fraternal love outside home, be sincere and trustworthy, exercise benevolent love to all. Keep doing so and keep learning.

Zeng Zi said, “I do self-reflections three times a day: am I honest in dealing (or doing business) with people? Am I trustworthy among friends? Have I reviewed the teachings passed to me by my master?

Zi Gong asked Confucius, “When in poverty, I don’t behave servilely. When I am rich, I don’t behave arrogantly. How about this?” Confucius said, “That is good, but it is not as good as remaining cheerful in poverty and noble in wealth.”

1, Oct 20, 2012

A friend with two children and a full time job graduated from university

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 1:35 am

On 10/13, a friend of mine went out of town for her bachelor graduation ceremony. She graduated summa cum laude from the university. I am so proud and delighted for her as I think she has met a huge challenge in her life.

It is a challenge for her when she works full-time, being a single mom with two children. I sent her present, an imitation of ancient Chinese book, with the words of Confucius written on bamboo strips tied together with strings.

Of course, she loved it and asked me to translate it. Below is the original. I will post translation tomorrow.

1, Oct 8, 2012

Facebook, friends, connection with the strangers

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:18 am

Toward the end of September, to celebrate my birthday and to add some fun to my life, I made friends with three of my former and current colleagues via facebook, three of them in all.

When I posted the picture of my article on KCStar on 9/29, my daughter thought it useless, “How many friends do you, mom? Let’s see, two?” She meant her brother and her.

I said, “Actually, I have 8 now.” Lol… I know 8 is not a big number when some people have over 900.  If I reached out more, including readers of my midwest columns, I could make a larger connection.

I didn’t do it. Neither have I let people know my blog here. There seems some irony here when I befriend people via facebook but actually excluded many of my true friends in my facebook circle. When I think of it, it is actually no surprise, considering my introvert tendency. I would like to keep a public face and also a safe distance, meanwhile reserving a spot where I can remain anonymous and be my true self.

1, Jul 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July, celebrating a day off

Filed under: Friend,Holiday — admin @ 12:10 am

It is Wednesday and it is a day off work because it is 4th of July. A few days ago, a friend of mine asked us to go to her house today, but I called her yesterday to cancel it as it is terribly hot today.

My sister’s son in Houston told me last week that those Chinese who had been in the country for a long time had still not assimilated into the mainstream American culture. He went to some gatherings there and found no Americans in these Chinese gatherings.

He said he cared about being accepted by others and by the society. I didn’t try to persuade or argue with him. I think it takes time for him to be mature enough not to care how others think about him or whether or not he is being accepted by American society when he should concentrate on following his own path regardless of what others think. One can argue that the whole purpose of coming to America is the freedom to follow your own path, regardless of the environment.

For me, I am going to enjoy my day off today. I am happy as long as I accept myself.

1, May 26, 2012

Sharing the fruits of labor with a friend on a Sunday

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:11 am

On 5/6, my daughter went to study for one of her finals at Barnes & Nobles with a friend. The other adult in the house drove to Houston, TX to leave the car to my sister’s son there.

While I was home, a friend of mine came over in the afternoon. I eagerly showed her our backyard and shared with her the fruits in my yard — xiang-chun leaves and gold-silver flowers. I dug out a few gold-silver plant runners for her. She helped me trim the xiang-chun tree. I show her how to grow the gold-silver plant.

I had a good time in my backyard with this friend. It is so rewarding working on my yard. I wish I had more time and energy working on my yard.

1, May 24, 2012

Going back to China and meeting old friends

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:58 am

I am going back to China to see my mother on 6/1. I bought the ticket on 3/1, applied for visa on 5/1, and notified my family of my schedule.

Normally, I plan ahead by telling some of my friends in Beijing. This time I will go to Shanghai in early June to meet two friends there and also will meet an old colleague of mine during this time-frame before she leaves for the States, also in early June.

There is one friend whom I have not seen for many years but have been thinking of every time I go back. She has become a very devout Christian and has devoted her time to church work in Beijing. She is one of the purest kind that I have known in my life. I am going to try to get in touch with her this time.

P.S. it so happened that a friend of mine here is leaving for China today with her two children. Wish her a good trip.

1, May 18, 2012

Time runs so fast and children grow up faster than we thought

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:05 am

Last weekend, while shopping at costco, I met an old colleague of mine back in Sprint. When I was there, she was single. Last time we met, she was a mother of two. Now she is a mother of four. Her boy has turned 5. Of course, she looks changed, too. I told her the age of my children, which, of course, surprised her. Because she remembers my daughter was about 5 or 6 years old.

She was preparing for her trip to China around the end of this month. After that, my mind ran back to the time when I worked at Sprint back in 2000 and when she was single, showing no interest in talks about children.

Over a decade has passed since that time, yet it all seems like yesterday when we worked together. I can’t believe time runs so fast and children grow up so fast.

Enjoy the moment while we can.

1, May 14, 2012

Gathering on the Eve of Mother’s Day

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:49 am

Last Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, a friend of mine invited my daughter and me to her house to celebrate Mother’s Day. There was another family at the gathering. That was very kind of her.

At first, I didn’t want to go as I was afraid it would take too much time. My daughter will have some finals next week. When I told my daughter of this, she said we should go. So we did.

I met another Chinese mother who was more inclined toward natural science than humanities. I shared with her my writing on KC Star on that day, not sure if she understood it. I used to believe there was not much difference between science and humanities.

One needs to be more empirical and logical in natural science. With humanities, the emphasis is more on understanding and interpretation, which is very subjective and varies from person to person. But a clear thinking ability is needed in both fields. I think there must be a lot more than this.

1, Apr 17, 2012

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?”

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:13 am

I have bought an air ticket to China on 3/1, the day after a friend of mine told me of the ticket sale. I have been thinking of contacting my old colleagues in China Daily in Beijing. So on 4/5, I contacted two of them who are here in the States. I was hoping they would write back to me. But it seems I have lost contact with them, too.

This reminds me of a college classmate of mine with whom I lost contact for over 20 years. We seemed to share a lot in our personality. But for some reason, we lost each other again and again. So there goes another one.

While I make new friends no matter where I go, be it in China or in Ohio or in Indiana or in Virginia or here in Kansas, I still miss those who have been part of my life, especially in my younger years.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” — I wish not.

1, Jan 6, 2012

Friends Double the Holiday Joys

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:37 am

During the year-end holiday season, other than a few gatherings with friends and some phone-chats, text messages, some email greetings are specially heart-warming. On 12/22/2011, I posted one. Here’s another one. It is sweet and touching. I am not going to pass without sharing it here.

1, Dec 11, 2011

A Bachelor’s Life, Freedom and Independence

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 1:08 am

Yesterday I called my son, thinking he must be relaxing in his NY apartment. But from the background noise, he seemed to be in a large gathering. It turned out he went to Boston on Friday and will go back to NY today.

I can imagine he must have a good time back to Boston meeting his old friends there. Most important he really enjoys the freedom of his bachelor’s life and his well-earned financial independence.

My son reminds me of someone here in America, who has turned 27 and still lives with his parents. I bet he must have had too much good time at high school and has not earned enough freedom when he is approaching 30.

1, Nov 25, 2011

Black Friday: Day After Thanksgiving Shopping Fever

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:11 am

I had a wonderful time yesterday with a friend family joining us marking Thanksgiving day. I indulged myself playing with their young children. They reminded me so much of the time when my children were this young and always surrounded me like they did. That time has gone forever.

I heard a lot of this year’s black Friday shopping. I remember some people at my office planning to start the shopping rush early in the morning.

For me, this year’s black Friday is no different from last year and the year before. I shall not buy anything that I don’t need, simply because it is cheap. I will spend some time with my children, especially my son who will leave for New York early next morning.

When I have some time and energy left, I shall continue cleaning the house today.

1, Nov 18, 2011

Friendship: Your Gift to Yourself

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:22 am

This is one of the articles that I read in March 2010.
I often hear in my office from these married wives — “It’s all girl’s night out” or “I will go shopping with a couple of my girlfriends.” They seem being excited over the idea of going out with friends. This is exactly what the article says — “There’s nothing like a friend’s company.”

We often take things for granted in our lives, even with friendship. Friends are not like family members. They have their own careers, obligations and commitments, responsibility with their own families. Very often, they come and go based on their needs.

Hence, it is more difficult for adults to develop and maintain friendship. And that’s why people begin to appreciate friendship more than ever after a decade or two into their marriage life.

For people of all ages, friendship is a precious gift that only we can give to ourselves by being a friend to others. Don’t go through life without it.

1, Nov 9, 2011

Friendship Means Responsibility, Not Opportunity

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:55 am

This is from a piece of note that I wrote on an index card long time ago. It is supposed to be an advice on dealing with people. It sounds a bit insincere, though they are totally true.

(1) Be a good listener (as if you are interested in it).
(2) Show genuine interest in others.
(3) Never hurt people’s feeling
(4) Don’t try to show others that you are smarter than them. Nobody is interested in it.
(5) Make others feel important (just to satisfy people’s vanity).

True great people never act haughty. Instead, they tend to be protective of the weak group.

Friendship means responsibility. Never view it as opportunity, though your act of friendship opens more doors for you.

1, Jul 12, 2011

The Thought Meets Our Need

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:39 am

Today I am leaving for America. Last Friday, 7/8/2011, I went to a McDonald’s in Beijing to meet an old friend of mine whom we had not seen each other for 15 years. I saw something familiar and I was surprised to recognize him from behind after so many years.

We talked about cancer and cancer treatment, life and mortality. In reality, we all hold some thought dearly because that thought can satisfy our needs and relieve other negative feelings. It doesn’t matter what that thought is, real or unreal. In his case, while he realizes the inevitability of life, he tries to enjoy the process. For me, it is a different thought.

1, Jul 9, 2011

Adaptation to the Social and Cultural Environment

Filed under: China,Friend — admin @ 12:45 am

On 7/6, Wednesday noon, I went to have lunch with three old classmates, two of them back to kindergarden days.

One is now working in the ministry of foreign affairs; the other used to be there. While listening to their conversation, I was both bored and amazed by the intricacies of power struggle and the total submission of one’s individuality when working there. The one who left could not stand it.

It seems like serving a life sentence to work in that environment. I cannot imagine myself working in that place for long. I was a rebel in my bone when I was young but more inclined to seek peace with the outside world.

If I were put in that situation and had to learn the ropes and the tricks of surviving there, I might become adapted and adept at power struggle. Are we the products of our social and cultural environment or some intrinsic value of our own? I wish people could forever keep something of their own no matter where they are, without total adaptation.

1, Jun 26, 2011

Count on Your friends When You are Away from Home

Filed under: children,Friend — admin @ 12:32 am

Early yesterday morning, the whole family went to the airport to send my son and daughter off, one to Boston, the other to Michigan. Both had transfer in Chicago. After I got back with both of them being away, I felt like having a preview of what life would be like in two years. It is really scary.

This is the first time that my daughter left home alone. On the way to the airport, I kept pumping advices into her. Of course, safety is always my top concern. Next, take good care of yourself so that you don’t get sick.

This is what I kept telling both of them — you have your parents when you are at home, but away from home, you will have to count on your friends if you are in need of help. That means you must make some friends after you leave home. Create your own circles. Parents cannot be with you all the time.

I still remember when my 17-year-old son returned home from Russia, safe and sound, excited and full of words about his experience. Hopefully, through this experience, my daughter will make a big step forward in terms of maturity, independence, and responsibility.

1, Apr 27, 2011

Connection Helps You Stay Healthy Part 2

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:23 am

(a) Schedule some time — in the near future — to enjoy the company of someone who brightens your mood.

(b) Make a list. Think about people you want to contact regularly. Then, follow through.

(c) Volunteer. Working side by side for a cause may lead to a lasting bond.

(d) Join a group. Find something that intrigues you — maybe that’s a pottery class or a hiking club.

(e) Connect online. Few things beat in-person contact. But, you might also give social networking a try. It can be a good way to reconnect with old friends — and find people with common interests. However, be cautious — and, think twice before sharing any personal information online.

You call an old friend just to say hello. Rather than eating alone, you join a colleague for lunch. You hug your sister. As ordinary as they might seem, connections like these have real power. They can improve your life — and protect your health.

If anxiety or shyness prevents you from making friends, do reach out for help.

1, Apr 26, 2011

Connection Helps You Stay Healthy Part 1

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:09 am

On 3/3/2011, I read an article sent to us by our company’s insurance company. “Thrive with a little help from your friends,” by Arleen Fitzgerald. Here’s part of it.

Research shows that a strong network of friends and family can help you:

(1) Live longer. Men and women with close social ties are 50 percent less likely to die prematurely than isolated individuals, according to a review of 148 studies.

(2) Feel happier. According to one study, having satisfying relationships was a key difference between very content people and less happy ones.

(3) Be healthier. Lonely adults appear to be more prone to high blood pressure and other health conditions, such as depression and dementia, as well.

Here are suggestions made by the author.
To be continued…

1, Feb 18, 2011

Dreams Are Angel’s Wings

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:12 am

Dreams are Angel's wings
I received this writing on 2/15/2011 via email from an old friend of mine. It always strikes a cord with me when I read his writings, perhaps it is associated with something from a distant time and land that is deeply buried in my memory but present no more. Anyway, it is so beautifully written. Here it is, even though my translation has not been loyal to the original.

Dreams are feathers. They are angel’s white wings, enabling your soul to soar in the blue sky. Without your knowing it, your feathers of dreams could be plucked out, one by one, from you through your daily trivial routines, until eventually the day comes when you find yourself dreamless, carrying out daily business like everybody else. Hence, take care of your dreams. With dreams, you are an angel. That defines your uniqueness.

1, Feb 6, 2011

How We Celebrate Festivals in America

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:18 am

In China, festival is the occasion when people get together with their extended family members, grandparents, aunts and uncles. In America for most of Chinese who are far away from their extended families, they spend festivals with friends.

It has become a custom for us to either invite friends to come over or go to friends’ house for a gathering. When Spring Festival falls on weekday, the party will be held on the following weekend.

This year is no exception. Yesterday we spent the evening with a family friend and had a nice time chatting over self-cooked food. The topics over dinner table were politics, parenting, and Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn book, all of which were my favorites.

1, Jan 5, 2011

“My Friends are my Estate”

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 2:10 am

My son left home yesterday morning, made a transfer at Dulles airport, arrived in Boston, then took a bus to New York, where he will work for a company for some weeks before spring semester begins. He stays with his friends who are two years of his senior, from the same school. Each time he goes to New York, he stays at his friends’. This reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “My friends are my estate.”

His experience made me think of my encounter with a college classmate early last year when I went back to China. To be sure, it had been ages since we saw each other. But for some reason, probably out of his legal profession, when I called him, he sounded cold and suspicious of my motive, as if I were going to ask him for some favor or to take advantage of his position. When we met in Massachusetts back in 1987, he was still a student, friendly as before. People change beyond belief!

I wonder what Emily Dickinson had to say about this type of people. Estates are easy to find, but not true friends.

1, Dec 29, 2010

The Familiar New Concepts for 2011

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:42 am

This is the continuation of yesterday’s posting, which I call it “Not Really New Concept for the Year 2011,” as we have heard of something similar before. Still, considering how short our memories have become, at least mine been shorter than before, I think it a fitting topic as we approach another new year.

One focus: all focus on health
Two fundamentals: do not take things seriously
Three facts to forgets: forget your age; forget the past; forget grievances

Four must-have: no matter how strong or weak one is, one must have someone who loves one, good friends, a promising career, and a cozy dwelling.

Five dos: sing, dance, self-decorating, laugh and slim

Six do-nots:
eat before you feel hungry;
drink before you feel thirsty;
sleep before you feel sleepy;
rest before you feel tired;
have annual physical checkup before you feel sick;
go for your dream before you are old and regretful!

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