Every time I visit my children's school or a public library, I think about how fortunate the kids are in this country. They have books -- lots of books -- to read. I marvel at how nice a library can be. So many books! I am surprised to see how many books each teacher has in her own classroom. All are available for students to use and read. How I wish I had grown up in this kind of environment where books are so readily available for everyone, rich or poor. But I didn't have the fortune as a child growing up in China. My parents were not rich enough to buy me books.
Lately, my 1999 Dodge Caravan has been acting weird. It really worries me. While driving to and from work this past week on highway, the interior light -- including the dashboard light -- suddenly flashed like lightning in a second. At the same time I could hear the automatic door clicking. The same thing happened a couple of times, maybe a year ago. But this time it happened with more frequency. I called a Chrysler dealership to ask what the problem could be.
9-1-1 We all know to call 911 in an emergency. Dialing 911 from any telephone will link the caller to an emergency dispatch center which will provide the caller access to police, fire and ambulance services. In most areas, dialing 911 on a traditional landline telephone automatically gives dispatch the caller's address. This provides emergency responders with the location of the emergency without the caller having to provide it. This is very useful in times of fires, break-ins, kidnapping and other events where communicating one's location is difficult or impossible.
When I called my parents this past weekend, my 75-year-old father sounded very upset. And I can understand why. Both of my parents have lived frugally through their whole life, first out of necessity, later more out of habit. They lived below their means and saved as much as they could. A few years ago, my brother took my parents' money and invested it in the stock market, with the good intention to make some more money for them. For several years, the interest rate kept falling and the stock market went up like crazy in China.
I firmly believe that our children's education is a joint venture and a shared responsibility done by students, parents, teachers and society, all working together to make a difference. Students Learning and getting a good education is important for each child. All students need the full support of their parents, teachers and society to reach their full potential.
Generally speaking, the news reports about China have been very negative in the U.S., and usually for good reason. Government corruption, pollution, religious prosecution, food and product safety problems illustrated by the recent recalls of tainted toys, pet food and baby milk power are just a few areas in the news regarding China. As a native Chinese, I really feel bad about all these problems. In my previous columns, I have talked about my life in China, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, about its hardships.
The 2008 presidential election is just one month away. Are you ready for it? I know some people are not. In fact, I am one of them. When my kids recently asked me for whom I am going to vote for president, I had to say, "I am not really sure." The truth is, I have not done much research and reading about the candidates. Lack of time, lack of political knowledge or lack of interest in politics can all be my excuses, but I know one excuse I cannot use is lack of information.
[Editor's note: This is the second half of a two-part column.] This is a continuation of my last column which ended with these words: "If you don't express yourself, you depress yourself. And to heal your heart, you have to open your heart." "To heal your heart, you have to open your heart" is a phrase I read in a book on meditation, This is a simple yet profound truth. Nobody is born with a heart that is closed. All of us were born with a completely open heart. Newborn babies and young children have open hearts that radiate love and innocence. An open heart is like sunlight.
[Editor's note: This is the first half of a two-part column.] Recently, I was on the phone with a friend whom I had not seen for more than 10 years. After listening to her talk for a few minutes, I realized that she was dealing with depression. She said she didn't want to get up, go out of the house and talk to people. Her heart was broken. She felt that everyone's life was better than hers. And she did not want to talk to others about her problems. I am not a doctor or psychologist, but I know that these are the symptoms of depression.
"I am bored!" I think most parents with school-age children have heard these three words many times in the last three months over summer break. Boredom is not a word in my vocabulary. I rarely feel bored. The only time I might feel bored, or to use a more appropriate phrase, "out of place," is when I am among people who talk about something I am not interested in at all. That's why whenever I hear my 10-year-old son Andy saying: "I am bored," I don't have any sympathy for him. For me, there are always enough things to do to not feel bored.