Thoughts and tips on New Year Resolutions


I have kept reminding my children of their New Year Resolutions. I even asked the young relative of mine here to work on his. It will benefit them if they can expect something bigger from themselves.

Here are some thoughts for you to consider if you decide to work on yours.
–find out specific ways of moving out of your comfort zone
–challenge yourself to think differently from yourself
–challenge yourself to find something new in your old way of life
–challenge yourself to learn something new everyday, be it a new word or a new skill, as long as you keep doing it everyday
–count one blessing a day and keep a record of your counting everyday
–if you set a goal for yourself, also break it into small feasible pieces, set specific deadlines for you to reach.

One final thought: refuse to be the same, day in day out, year in year out…



The end of a few months efforts


I felt extremely low in spirits after the test ended today, because I knew I didn’t pass it. The time-out screen suddenly screamed out when I still had about 10 more to go. The result confirmed my fear.

Either I didn’t manage my time well or I was too slow to go through this 100-question test in 120 minutes. Most of them are cases or scenarios that need resolution, which I couldn’t resolve in that time frame. Surely, I wasn’t able to read and think as fast as I was required to. Another big factor, I think it didn’t test what I have prepared.

I checked my cell phone after I got home and found some unanswered calls. My daughter called. I texted to my daughter and some friends about the result.

My daughter texted back. “I’m sorry you didn’t pass :(( Will you try again? At least you tried though! The time you spent studying wasn’t wasted either, because you learned something in the end.” A friend of mine also asked if I would try again.

Now I felt a lot better now. At least I tried, even though I didn’t pass it. Of course I have learned a lot.

That’s the end of all the efforts I made in the past few months. Now I need to shift gears and get myself in the mood for the coming holiday.



CPHIMS exam book arrived


Yesterday this book arrived home. I ordered it last week via Amazon as I was thinking of becoming Certified Professional in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CPHIMS).

The book consists of 49 pages of index card with 6 cards on each page, totally 294 cards. At first, the task seemed rather daunting. I told my daughter that I was going to study one page per day and take the exam by the end of two months. She thinks it feasible.



An experience with Belkin customer service call center in India


On 5/12, three days before I left for China, I bought a Belkin wireless router at Walmart. In the evening I tried to install it at home, but couldn’t connect it to the internet. A screen return says call xxxx for help. This I did.

The man on the other side talked with Indian accent, so strong that I found it hard to follow. Before doing anything, he asked for my name and phone number. After I gave it to him, he repeated it back to me making sure everything was correct. Next, he asked “Can I put you on hold for a second?” Sure, I said.

After a few minutes, he came back apologizing profusely. I thought it strange. He didn’t even know why I called and he didn’t even ask. What did he do with my name and phone number? This guy smells so fishy. Well, as long as he could help me get it work, I thought.

After I gave him my model number and explained to him my problem, he immediately told me that they no longer provide free support to this model, but he could help me out with a fee. “Are you asking for a fee for Belkin customer service?” I wanted to make sure I understood what he said. “Yes,” he answered.

So much for giving him my name and phone number! “Forget it. I can just return this Belkin router and get another brand. Plus, I will make sure people know my experience with Belkin customer service.” Before he could reply, I hanged up the phone on him.



March 20, 2013 Spring equinox day


equinox day March 20

This is from a friend of mine who nicely reminds me of the equinox.

According to wikipedia, “An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.

At an equinox the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e. declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point (RA = 00h 00m 00s and longitude = 0º) and the autumnal point (RA = 12h 00m 00s and longitude = 180º). By extension, the term equinox may denote an equinoctial point.”



Listening to recorded books lifts me up everyday


On 11/29/2012, I went to Leawood library with my daughter in the evening. I checked out many recorded books by Modern Scholars. My daughter asked me “Why do you borrow these? You don’t have the time for them.” On the way back home and also the next day, I gave her this explanation.

Yes, I do have the time for these audio books. I listen to them when I am walking in the morning and while working at office during the day.

Since I don’t have as much time as I want to read these books, these recorded books enable me to listen while doing something else. It is also good for my eyes.

Why am I interested in these books? It is more than learning what they have to teach. I have to relate this question to my job, which is, first of all, not something I am interested in. Secondly, it is not intellectually challenging enough to keep my mind occupied. In fact, it can be so boring that I am afraid of dulling my brain. I always feel like a fish out of water in that environment. Listening to modern scholars books seems to put me back to where I belong.

In fact, books always provide some kind of transcendental value to the readers, adding wings to their imagination, seeing beyond their vision or taking them away from their immediate environment.



It takes a huge amount of work to build a swimming pool


On 11/10/2012, Saturday morning, I went to a science seminar with my daughter at Union Station. The topic is on the process of building acquatics, that is, swimming pool. After that, I asked my daughter what she learned from it. She said nothing as she thought the topic is boring.

The lecturer, Kyle Cawley, first gave a rather broad stroke of the process of pool building. It consists of four phases:
1) Planning
2) Funding
3) Design
4) Construction

Next, he went through each phase in great details. He talked about design parameters: concept development, project schedule metric, construction budget and operation budget.

The design involves engineering design, civil layout, design code and regulations on health, mechanical design, pipelines and in and out pump system. With some all-year-round open outdoor pool, there is heating and cooling system. Of course, he presented some complicated design blue print.

The last phase– construction involves bidding, equipment review, testing, observation, and payment. He also talked about the construction materials like cement and steel.

I think the lecture is rather interesting. I have learned that it actually takes a huge amount of work before the actual construction of a seemingly simple swimming pool.



Some basic good design concepts, part III


Here are some details on the four basic principles that I previously mentioned.

(1) contrast — mark out something as different from the rest by using larger font size, or a different color (black/white), or central location to create visual attraction.

(2) Repetition — repeat visual elements of the design, repeat color, shape, texture, spatial relationships. This helps develop the organization and strengthen unity within a group of similar data.

(3) Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated, organized look.

(4) Proximity — group related items together. Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units. This helps organize information and reduced clutter.



Some basic good design concepts, part II


Here’s an example of a good contrast design on a business card, which allows the important information to stand out, attracting reader’s attention at the first glance. The important information basically answers the existential question: what is this?

This design presents the contrast of big versus small, center versus periphery. You can also use color contrast. Notice there is only one large size. The information in small size serves to further clarify the central information. You won’t have the same result if you have two large size.

Here’s the reason why I post this here. It shares some similarities to writing, especially short essay writing. You want to have only one central theme and everything serves this theme. Readers will be confused, not knowing what you are talking about if you play with several themes at once.



Some basic good design concepts, part I


On 10/2, after I had my annual physical check in the afternoon, I took up a book which I borrowed when I volunteered to be the editor for an oncology nurse newsletter.

It turned out I was not qualified because I was not a member of their chapter and would not have the insider news. But I cannot become a member because I am not a nurse. Well, forget it.

But I did grab a book on design — The non-designer’s design book. It beats the dummy book in its simple dumbness, fit perfectly people like me.

Here’s what I have learned from this book: the four basic principles of design: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. Told you it’s nice and simple.
More later…


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