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

1, May 29, 2009

Different Communication Style from Different Personality

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 12:25 am

It is our leadership workshop again, once every other week. I always walk out of the room feeling wiser than before. A big accomplishment. Prior to our leadership workshop yesterday afternoon, we were given a communication style inventory survey to reveal the style with which we communicate with others. During the workshop we talked about what the result meant. There are O.C.D.I styles based on 18 questions. Here are my score:
Open = 1
Close = 8
Direct = 2
Indirect = 7

Here’s their meaning — the different combination yields different communication style:
C + D = controller and director
• Commander
• Values getting the job done
• Decisive risk taker
• Good at delegating work to others
• Not shy but private about personal matters; comes on strong in conversation
• Likes to be where the action is
• Take charge, enterprising, competitive, efficient approach
• Fearless; no obstacle is too big to tackle
• Results Oriented

O + D = promoter and socializer
• Entertainer
• Values enjoyment and helping others with the same
• Full of ideas and impulsive in trying them
• Wants to work to be fun for everyone
• Talkative and open about self; asks others’ opinions; loves to brainstorm
• Flexible; easily bored with routine
• Intuitive, creative, spontaneous, flamboyant approach
• Optimist; nothing is beyond hope
• Celebration Oriented

O + I = supporter and relator
• Harmonizer
• Values acceptance and stability in circumstances
• Slow with big decisions; dislikes change
• Builds networks of friends to help do work
• Good listener; timid about voicing contrary opinions; concerned for others’ feelings
• Easy-going; likes slow, steady pace
• Friendly & sensitive; no person in unlovable
• Relationship Oriented

C + I = analyzer and thinker
• Assessor
• Values accuracy in details & being right
• Plans thoroughly before deciding to act
• Prefers to work alone
• Introverted; quick to think and slow to speak; closed about personal matters
• Highly organized; even plans spontaneity!
• Cautious, logical, thrifty approach
• Thoughtful; no problem is too big to ponder
• Idea Oriented

Obviously, I fall in the C + I combination. Not a lightyear away from the truth. Isn’t it nice to know that you are not a Commander, an Entertainer, a Harmonizer and have to be limited to being an Assessor? Not. I am more interested in learning how people with different styles interact or communicate with each other. How can close-indirect person interact with open-direct ones? Fight? Passive-aggressiveness? I learned that passive-aggressiveness is most practiced in health care field, with doctors being extremely o-d and others being the other end of the spectrum. I can already smell the gun powder at our work place. As far as I can see, Commander always rule over the rest of the world, not peacefully though. Fun to learn and to understand both ourselves and others.

1, May 25, 2009

Frost’s Poem, Promise to Keep, Miles to Go

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 1:00 am

I was on the verge of disliking Robert Frost’s poems when I first encountered them during my younger days, too serene and reflective, always carrying a sad taste, enough to spoil any of your good mood. But, strange enough, as those younger days are here no more, some of his poems keep re-surfacing in my memory. Amazing I have such a good memory for useless stuffs.

When I learned a friend of mine was leaving for China early this morning, I wanted very much to go, too. I even had dreams in which I was happily among my family folks, so real in my dream. But the line “But I have promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep” came up when I thought of my daughter’s summer school and my son’s summer job and my job responsibility.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of the easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

True, we all have promises and responsibilities to take care of before our eternal sleep under the long green grass. Still, I don’t think I can bring myself to like this poem. The poem makes promise-keeping as something that prevents us from enjoying the nature and whatever we want to enjoy. What a party-pooper. Now I hate this poem even more than before. So gloomy and unpleasant!

1, May 16, 2009

Reading, Writing, Gardening, Fun Activities Everyday

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 12:10 am

Last Friday evening my daughter skated till 10 PM, starting 5 PM. I was waiting outside the rink, feeling very cold. I had a very interesting conversation with a Chinese mom there. We found that our educational and career backgrounds were very much similar – both have had PhD, then switched to computer programming, then to something else – a full testimonial to the same degree of diligence that we both share.

She also has two children, older one being younger than my younger one, raised all by herself. She asked me what I did for fun everyday. Good question. My mind ran like a crazy rabbit, searching through my daily activities for anything that can be considered fun. I mentioned reading, writing, and gardening, which, I am sure, don’t seem like fun to her, since she is a very sociable person and likes to be around people. Also, my kind of fun seems so fruitless. I just realize that things that brings me joy really do not involved any real human beings.

This ties back to the distinction between introvert and extrovert persons and also to the value of reading and writing. Reading and writing are activities of mind, really with no practical value. But for those who care about their minds, reading enriches it and writing keeps it sharp and active. As a mode of communication, writing also relates ourselves to others, engaging dialogues, imaginative or intellectual, with readers.

Of course, writings also serve as an apology, as I am doing it now for my fun activity.

1, May 13, 2009

Blessings, Bliss, Joy and Happiness with what You Have

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 6:08 am

“How are your kids?” a doctor at our clinic asked. “They drive me crazy. How are your boys?” I asked. “They are pain, real pain.” All this reminds me of another co-worker who referred to her children as “headache.” So much for our sweeties! I am sure we parents all have occasions like those. Still, we love our youngsters. Don’t forget to count your blessings for their presence.

Ignorance is bliss. My daughter and I walked yesterday evening and talked about a fictional case, in which a wife is heavily depended on her husband for everything, so much so that the husband is crushed beneath the burden. In case like this, ignorance is a real bliss. Otherwise, the wife will be haunted with a feeling of guilt of her role in his expiration. As the saying goes, where ignorance is bliss, folly is wise. It is indeed a wise saying as long as we are not one of the folly.

My daughter and I often meet one of our neighbors on our evening walk. This neighbor, a stay-home-mom, has three children, the oldest being younger than my son and the youngest older than my daughter, two boys and one girl. The strange thing is she is always seen walking alone. I have never seen any of her children walk with her. “She must be a real loner,” I said to my daughter because she never talks to us even though she is our neighbor. Indeed, no wonder she is never seen together with her children. A light joy.

I became acquainted with a delightful young folk working at Sears electronics department three years ago. He went to Central Missouri for his bachelor degree in mass communication. At that time he told me his job at Sears was a temporary one, that is, before he landed on one that utilized his college education. Now he told me it was rather pathetic that his temporary job became sort of permanent. Then again, he is happy because at least he still has his job when so many people are without.

Indeed, there are so many ways to count our blessings — our health, family, ability to laugh out loud and humor it over, and least of all our job.

1, May 5, 2009

Notes on Extrovert or Introvert

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 1:22 am

During our first leadership workshop last week, we had a fun time talking about different personality type and their characteristics at work. I think it amazingly accurate. Here are some key features.

We were told of four pairs of them:
extravert vs introvert;
sensing vs intuitive;
thinking vs feeling;
judging vs perceiving.

We also read a little of Myers-Briggs type indicator:
People of extrovert type:
tend to talk first;
have many close friends;
don’t read much;
approachable;
enjoy going to meetings or parties;
finding listening more difficult than talking;
need affirmation from co-worker or boss about who you are and how you look.

Introvert type persons:
rehearse first;
enjoy peace and quiet and being alone;
great listener;
being called shy;
like to share;
wish you could get your ideas out more forcefully;
was told to go out more by your parents;
believe talk is cheap.

Extraverts get energy from outside, make decision mainly based on reactions of others while introverts are the opposite. I have a sense that introverts are described as a bit selfish or self-centered, which is so unfair. It is extremely hard to resist the temptation of finding ourselves among these descriptions and then live accordingly.

1, May 4, 2009

New Definition of Beauty: Everything True Is Beautiful

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 4:33 pm

The statement came from a high school friend of mine, well, to be exact, from his recent email.
Here’s a true story of love and out-of-love with a fictional name for privacy protection. Beverly and her ex broke for some times, then her ex came back and begged her to go back to The Way We Were like in 1973. Beverly, being a real kind-hearted but dead honest girl, kept saying, “I don’t have it [love] in me. I can’t [go back]. Yes, I loved you, but I don’t have it in me any more. I don’t feel the same. I cannot go back to the way we were. I can’t lie to you about how I feel.” In the end, she remained firm in her stand regardless of the dogged pursuit of her ex. I would appreciate Beverly’s honesty, which is beauty in itself.

I told my daughter to go back to her elementary school, doing volunteer work as the way to give back. It would surely make your old teachers smile. she said, “I’d rather volunteer with Humane Society or Wayward Shelter for lost animals, work with cats and dogs. I don’t work well with little kids.” Surely, they won’t smile back no matter how much you work with them. Still, I let her be. True to herself. A new version of beauty.

All this reminds me of the words of my long-time friend — everything true is beautiful. In other words, untrue = ugly, not exact though. In relationship, friendship, devotion, religious affiliation, communications, the key is true to yourself. Then you are a happy pretty true flower.

1, Apr 7, 2009

Food for thoughts on Procrastination, Organization

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Reading — admin @ 2:55 am

I read from a magazine on procrastination, “Procrastination hurt you physically, too. It creates stress, which will lead to headache, body sore, gastric problem, indigestion, either chronic or acute disease.” I never have this experience until I start dragging my feet and working on my tax return. I feel all kinds of illness assailing me at the same time. I am not sure if it is because of procrastination or the thought of tax return and the money that must be taken away from me.

I have read so much about organizing, mainly because I need it so badly or because reading about organizing is far less backbreaking than really doing organization around the house. This is why I love reading about it. Here’s what I read and I will start getting things organized when I feel like it.

Organizing is one of your strongest assets.” Indeed, it saves you both time and money when disorganizing equals to waste of money and time. Why? When you cannot find what you need at the moment, you lose time trying to locate things. If you thought you did not have it and have to buy a new one, when in fact you have it but just misplace it.

Being organized give you a sense of control.” What a good feeling! At least it saves time not to re-do things you have already done but forgot having done. OMG, I have done that too often! Thanks for being disorganized. It drives me crazy when seeing so many things cry for my attention, knowing some of them are already taken care of but cannot be thus confirmed. What a mess!

Organizing is the art of using your time and resource efficiently.” When you are organized, you can get things or file the moment you need them. I often get distracted in the middle of the work, taking my sweet time looking for something that I really need. Distraction and time inefficient — all because of my disorganization. How I hate myself at that moment.

The answer is simple: Simplify your life, get organized, free from distractions, better focus, time efficient. Try it whenever you feel like it.

1, Mar 23, 2009

Enjoy the Spring — Sow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 7:24 am

Last Friday, 3/20/2009, was the first day of spring, when the sun was directly overhead at noon on spring equinox. I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty at yard, as some of the vegetable plants started indoors this year were getting ready to go out.

My children can never understand the joy that I experience in gardening. It all started when I was at primary school. I don’t remember how I learned it, somehow I started growing hot peppers, green beans, and tomatoes from the seeds I saved. We never had money to buy toys or pots or anything above basic necessities. So I used broken woks, basins, and also made my own pots using leftover wood pieces tied with wires. The little plants did thrive under my tender loving care. I must have too much time and patience back then.

I admired those who could afford any luxuries. “I would be a happy child if I had …,” I used to think this way. Now when thinking back, I had genuine good times back then. It gave me so much joy watching little plants cracking out of the dirt and growing bigger, even though we were rather deprived at that time. I was a whole lot happier and more carefree than I am now, even though I can now afford a million more stuffs than before.

Gardening today often brings me back the cheerful childhood memory, adding sweeteners to whatever toil I have today. Call it nostalgia or whatever. It is perhaps only after you have it can you appreciate the time when you are without. Or rather, having it does not necessarily means enjoying it.

Enjoy the spring — sow your own fruits and vegetables, but not your wild oats.

1, Mar 7, 2009

A Happy Saturday Singing Poem

Filed under: Parenting 101,Random Thoughts — admin @ 8:35 am

On this Saturday morning, there is nothing more agreeable and relaxing than this small poem written by the same poet who wrote “If I were a lotus flower.” She wrote it about two years ago, before she turned 6. The poem reveals a lovely carefree child with a cheerful imagination, rendering readers a vivid picture and a feeling of immense happiness.

“Singing

I like singing.
When I am singing,
I think of a lovely bird,
Flying freely in the sky;
I think of a bright star,
Its shining eyes twinkling at night;
I think of a soft bunny,
Gently sitting by my side.
I want to loudly sing.
5/17/2007”

Don’t you want to sing with her?

1, Mar 4, 2009

Enjoy the Beauty of the Nature Amid Cat-and-Dog Competition

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 8:50 am

A friend of mine sent me a piece of literary work done by his 8-year-old daughter. I was stricken by the beauty naturally expressed in her writing and amazed at her ability to imagine and appreciate what we adults tend to overlook or dismiss as inconsequential.

I read to my daughter yesterday. She said it sounded so beautiful. I wish we could all appreciate the simple beauty that naturally provided to us even amid the most severe cat-and-dog competition.

“If I were a lotus flower,
I would clothe myself in white,
Releasing pleasant fragnance,
Holding the hands of mom and dad,
Dancing in the wind.

I would chat with the fish for a while
Or play games with dragonflies,
Having endless fun.

Suddenly I heard a child’s loud uttering,
“Ah, how beautiful and sweet these flowers are!
Come and look at them!”
With that, a group of children come over,
They are looking and voicing their admiration at us

Hearing this, I feel so pleased.
Thus ends a happy day.”
3/2/2009

1, Feb 28, 2009

Doodling or Note Taking Helps You Concentrate In Class or At Meeting

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 8:41 am

A wonderful habit! A wonderful finding on this wonderful Saturday morning.
While I was reading this article on yahoo!, I thought of my own experience and also inattentiveness problem of the 10-year-old boy at my house.

The article claims that doodling while listening actually helps you pay attention and enhance your memory. The research was carried out in the United Kingdom and published in Applied Cognitive Psychology.

“If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream … Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task,” said the researcher. A wonder pill! I was thinking of sharing this with my sister who can use this pill on her son’s hard-to-cure attention problem at school.

“In psychology, tests of memory or attention will often use a second task to selectively block a particular mental process,” said the researcher. “If that process is important for the main cognitive task, then performance will be impaired. My research shows that beneficial effects of secondary tasks, such as doodling, on concentration may offset the effects of selective blockade.”

I like doodling, in a better word, note taking, while at a meeting, a habit formed while I was at school. It might have prevented attention-deficit problem or might have helped me to write more. Up to now, I still find it hard to give constant full attention when a meeting is getting boringly long, thus starting taking notes. Old habit dies hard! It at least helps keep my eyes open and give due respect to the speaker. Now the benefit of doodling has been confirmed through research — a piece of good news to parents whose children are in need of giving attention in class.

1, Jan 20, 2009

Survive Negative Forces in Our Daily Lives

Filed under: Health,Random Thoughts — admin @ 8:36 am

Surviving through each day with a big smile on your face can be a challenge on some day at least. Seeing occasional clouds on people’s face, or being exposed to disrespectful behavior or hearing grumpy noises of discontent or complaints or being yelled at by a 10-year-old, feeling annoyed or irritated, or being stressed out or consumed with too much worries — don’t we once in a while have days like this? Lucky you if you don’t. I do. More than this, I have to deal with a crying boy almost on daily basis. Yes, you are right. I just had one of those days.

I have tried to think positively, trying to transform a whining cry or raucous exchanges into a beautiful serenade. Nice wish. I got it as long as the tune stay singing. I find it extremely important to stay positive for myself, my sanity, and those I care. I cannot allow myself to be bogged down mentally and physically by whatever negativities I happen to exposed.

I write this down especially for my children because I am sure they will be experiencing some degree of negative factors in the years to come, though not of the same nature. I am sure there are numerous writings and programs helping people to think positive. If self-directed mind-conditioning do not work, seek outside help. Mao Zedong once said, “Reactionaries will not go away by themselves. You have to wipe them out like you wipe away the dust.” Neither will be any negative forces. He did have some wise sayings.

Yet, it is so difficult for the sun to burst out when thick clouds amass their forces trying to block its light, so challenging for an angel staying angelic when being overwhelmed by devils or for a devil being devilish when being surrounded by angels. Your environment is very crucial in shaping you and influencing your mood. You have to stick to your goal if you cannot escape from your environment.

So far, by keeping my eyes on my goal and the big picture, I have pretty much preserved my sanity and insulated myself from negative forces surrounding me, well, most of the time at least.

The worst nightmare is to see oneself dragged down to the same level of the negative factors and chain oneself down there forever. The fear of that also motivates me to rise above and keep buoyant and cheerful. It can be an uphill battle, yet, keeping your silly smile and your humor, it is a hopeful one as long as we can fix our eyes on some positive image in our minds or the ideal self that we have for ourselves. It does work. Try it.

1, Jan 1, 2009

Year 2008 — Eventful and Unforgettable

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 9:18 am

This should have been written before the year 2008 ended, but as I realized it ended sooner than I thought, I had to put it out on the New Year’s Day.

During the year 2008

(1) My youngest child turned 13. She taught me many lessons on parenting teenager.

(2) A conflict between another adult and a minor in our house caused the adult to take a very drastic measure — expelling the minor out of the house, which was stopped by my son. Without his intervention, the child might be living elsewhere now. I hope the minor can forget this but I can never.

(3) In July a 10-year-old nephew came to live with us. Life is no longer the same for all of us after his arrival.

(4) I went back to China in November, first time for many years that I went back by myself.

(5) My own weblog finally went public in June.

1, Dec 31, 2008

Last Day of Year 2008

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 9:04 am

Yes, the end comes sooner than we thought. It is always this way if you don’t have the end in mind when you begin. Now looking back, you might be going through a whole spectrum of feelings —
–excitement over your achievements,
–frustration or despair over lack of it,
–sense of fulfillment for time worthily spent or
–feeling of guilt for letting another year gone by without any changes,
–a nightmare-like feeling toward an end,
–feeling like headless flies, being non-stop, non-productively busy,
–feeling of regret for not having done what you had long planned to do,
–counting your blessings for having been intact by economic downturn, or for having kept fit,…
Of course, some people might not feel anything at all, which is also excellent, because no feeling means no suffering, no experience and then no life.

Tomorrow is the beginning of another year.  To my children and to all youngsters with whatever goals they may aspire but often not strong on self-discipline to move toward them, I am going to say the same thing as I did this time last year — first and foremost, zero in on our New Year Resolutions, setting goals and new promises for the coming year.

Next, work out a detailed action plan to implement whatever you promise to accomplish. No concrete action plan often means empty promises and remain unchanged with each passing days and years until white hair sneak out, which we are all guilty of sometimes in our lives and don’t know how to be better than this.

The main reason for failure to materialize whatever we have promised is lack of self-control and self-discipline. Well, one step back, in reality, there are too many things — dreams, goals, ideal — that we failed to materialize as we grow old and sad. Hopefully, a plan and a monthly or quarterly check may work as a self-control mechanism.

My children know how nasty I could be when I am on their backs about writing their New Year’s Resolution.

So much for this joyful New Year’s Eve. Here’s my last statement for this year 2008

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Happy New Year!

1, Nov 27, 2008

Be Thankful Everyday

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 11:29 am

Today is Thanksgiving. It’s nice and warm outside. I get up early and think of a poem I read several days ago by Karl Fuchs:

Thanksgiving Every Day

The table is brimming with good things to eat;
We’re surrounded by family and friends; what a treat.
The feelings that fill us today can’t be beat;
It’s Thanksgiving Day, and it all feels complete.

But other days, sometimes things don’t seem so fine;
Those days are not polished and don’t seem to shine.
It’s then in our minds, we forget all the good,
And think of the things we would get, if we could.

On days when our thinking causes us dread,
If we could remember, it’s all in our head,
And not let our minds take our gratitude away,
Then we’d make every day like Thanksgiving Day.

Is it hard to be thankful everyday? Happy Thanksgiving.

1, Oct 23, 2008

Time Changes Everything Except our Minds and Souls

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Reading — admin @ 12:41 pm

I have devoted too much of my posting on Condi Rice lately. Now here’s another of my favorite topic — TIME.

Last week someone was listening to a Chinese children song on time.  It describes time as a magician who can change everything — season, appearance of our face, etc. When I go back to China and see folks whom I have not seen since my last visit, we expect to see apearance changes in each other. When my son came back from Boston, he said he felt he had changed a lot but he did not see much change in his high school classmates. I think he meant changes both inside and outside.

Indeed, time does do the trick of bringing changes in everything, including the chemical part of our hearts and heads, but we are the one who control how much changes and what kind of change that we want to take place regarding our mind and soul. Therefore, the saying “Time is a big equalizer” is true in a limited way.

If you want to bring changes inside you, time won’t be the key factor.  You need to take initiative.  If you don’t make efforts to increase your knowledge and wisdom with the same increase rate of age, you remain unchanged mentally despite of your changed appearance.

But sometimes, we want to keep something unchanged in our hearts even if changes occur to us outside.  I remember a poem goes like this,
          My heart leapt up when I behold,
          A rainbow in the sky.
          So was it when I was small;
          So be it when I am a man
          So shall it be when I am old.
The poet wants to remain young at heart even if he is old. Is it that what we all want?

1, Oct 22, 2008

Reading on Condoleezza Rice Part 3

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Reading — admin @ 7:24 am

During the days after Hurricane Katrina, while the country was horrified over the loss of human lives and the dire situation of poor black refugees, Rice went on a shopping spree at Ferragamo on Fifth Avenue for thousands of shoes. “Theater goers in New York City’s Great White Way were shocked to see the President’s former National Security Advisor at the Monty Python farce … as the rest of the cabinet responds to Hurricane Katrina.”

Her explanation was, “I probably had not fully understood that I had also kind of gone into this category of national leader, … that people expected me to be part of the solution for Katrina. I just didn’t get it, frankly.” pp. 266-267.

I am not sure if she is enlightened enough to understand this simple truth — it is not what people expect you to do.  It is what you expect yourself to do and to help as an ordinary human being, from your heart, when you see so many of your people suffer and when you are in the position to help, that is, if you have the heart for the suffering people of yours.  Even my children know to make donations when the earthquake hit Sichuan, China. Her lack of sympathy for her people in Katrina disaster is beyond my comprehension.

It shocks me to read about her attitude toward those underprivileged.  Rice talked about welfare recipients “taking advantage of the government and that they need to pull themselves up on their own.” Rice knows most of those welfare recipients are African Americans like herself.  One of her former colleague at Stanford commented on her, “That woman has a hard streak in her.” p. 107

The hard streak in her is the defect in her education — single-minded focus on success while lacking of cultivation in humanities field, the care of soul and mind, which result in her inability of understanding and empathy to think and feel how others do.  I would think this is a lesson for all parents who want their children to be full social beings, capable of both thinking and feeling.

1, Oct 21, 2008

Reading on Condoleezza Rice Part 2

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Reading — admin @ 7:39 am

Continue on the topic left from yesterday.  Rice became what her parents wanted her to be — succeed no matter what. She also turned out to be the exact product of their education — single-minded pursuit of success.

Her parents saw education as being instrumental to achieve what you aimed. “… you can achieve anything, you can do whatever you want to do, if only you get an education, …” p. 23  Rice was made sure to receive the best and highest education that could be obtain, music and French from very young, started learning to read at age 3, till she got Ph.D at the end.  Her French teacher was “struck … by John Rice’s full-time focus on the betterment of Condoleezza Rice.” p. 20.  Yet her parents did not have the intellectual ability to see education as being essential in developing a full-person, heart and soul, not simply an instrument to success.

As Rice put it, “I never developed the fine art of recreational reading.” p. 17,  whatever that might mean.  I would think she was saying she has not developed a love of reading for the pure joy, wisdom, insight and the mind-cultivating that reading is supposed to offer.

The result is Rice did have Ph.D, yet she does not have the intellectual depth to think and reflect.  “She may not have been an intellectual secretary of state like Kissinger or a master strategist like Baker, but she probably had more drive than either of them. The disciplined blaze of her life — … — suggested that she would throw everything she had into trying to triumph in the twilight of the Bush presidency.  It was obvious from Rice’s many metamorphoses that her real ideology was not idealism or realism or defending the citadels of freedom, … Her real ideology was succeeding.” p. 311

“Rice was never especially self-reflective, but she was always optimistic, and in June 2007, when she was asked to assess how she had performed as national security adviser, she gave an odd answer. ‘I don’t know. I think I did okay.'”  p. 310  These words are so revealing of her character, void of higher order of philosophical thinking.

Unlike former president Clinton and many other great persons, Rice has no enduring belief, no ideal. She has single-mindedly pursued one thing — success.  And she has succeeded for the sake of succes.

I strongly feel that there is something missing in her as I was reading her biography, something at first I cannot catch. By the time I read about her response to Hurricane Katrina, I came to realize the weak link in her education.  Yes, the kind of education is what I am interested in most when I read about Rice.  Blame me for being a parent all the time.

I will talk about this tomorrow.

1, Oct 20, 2008

Reading Condoleezza Rice’s Biography Part 1

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Reading — admin @ 7:53 am

I have been lately reading a biography on Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state on Bush junior’s second term, written by Elizabeth Bumiller, 2007.  On the one hand, this book is like all other books, having the bias of the author; on the other hand, it presents a mixed picture and message to readers like me, a parent who is reading and trying to find enlightenment on parenting.

One of the most striking fact that I will talk about is the role of parents in the success of a child.  Her parents “poured their hearts into the project of their lives: the teaching, molding, and polishing of Condoleezza.” p. 14.  Rice’s mother was “an intense, devoted mother. ‘Condoleeza was her world.'” p. 11.  While other kids were playing, the little Rice was made to spend her time on useful activities like reading and practicing piano.

It is no exaggeration to say that Rice would not have climbed this high without the exceptional dedication and stubbornly tenacious insistence of her parents in placing the interests and the success of their child before anything else. I would imagine our country’s prisons would be nearly empty if all parents shared at least one percent of Rice’s parents’ effort in their children’s education.  I feel very much dwarfed in comparison to Rice’s mom.

Rice is the living example of the saying — you reap what you sow.  She is the exact product of the upbringing of her parents, whatever that may be, which I will dwell on later.

1, Sep 7, 2008

The Spirit of Ah-Q is Still Alive and Much in Demand Today

Filed under: Random Thoughts — admin @ 9:34 am

Lu Xun, a Chinese literary giant created in his story Ah-Q Biography a rather despicable character called Ah-Q, an extreme “the kiss-up, kick-down type” that Rob Gifford described in his book China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power. More famous than this, he can always talk himself into feeling good even after being spitted and slapped in his face by his attackers. He always comforts himself as his being spiritually superior over his conquerors and can claim victory even after being soundly defeated and ruthlessly trampled under the foot of the conqueror. You can say he lives a life of self-created illusion and self-deception.

To be sure, Lu Xun had zero good word for this type of people. Instead, he thought it so pathetically characteristic of Chinese people of his time.

For some reason, I do not find this character so distasteful, other than the “kiss-up, kick-down” part.  Ah-Q simply tries to make himself feel good when he is unable to make changes to his fate and environment.  To some extent, when we compromise and reconcile, isn’t that what we try to do everyday, to a different degree though?  Don’t we have our own illusions to live by?  Here I hear people explain any misfortune as “God’s will,” or something better than nothing — a western Ah-Q.

Psychologically, we all have the need to be Ah-Q at some point of our lives. Again, to make me feel good, I would argue I have never been “spitted and slapped in his face by others” and thus have no excuse to feel otherwise.

Oops, does it have anything to do with parenting?  You can finger it out by yourself if that’s what you are wondering.

« Newer Posts

Powered by WordPress