Muffin Songs @ Youtube

August 14, 2013

This little girl is SO cute…


Six Little Ducks by Raffi

July 21, 2013

My one-year-old baby Aria loves this song so much that she stops fussing whenever the music is on. Amazingly Raffi did not need the help of exaggerated gestures and background decorations, like Laurie Berkner Band – an evidence that really good music is by itself affective.

A real gem in the Triangle area

July 21, 2013

The Science Safari

I got my first light prism there…

So far the most inspiring book this year

July 21, 2013

So far the most inspiring book this year

Significance of Year 2012

December 9, 2012

2012 is an amazing year in my life.

In this year, I had a baby girl Aria. She is my angel.

Health is an important them. I had my first major accident, which hurt my ankle badly and cost me 3 months and $5,000. My gallbladder was surgically removed, and so did my umbilical hernia (I never had any suspicion of this problem before). Two episodes of cold struck me, and the first one even caused Bell’s palsy, which lent me a great experience to discuss in my neuro class. Finally, I was diagnosed with allergies to dust mite, dog fur, and tuna – Now I know what have caused my problems!

There were ups and downs in job performance. Good things were that, first, I can tell that my teaching has improved a lot, especially for speech science (yes, just like my fluency, I don’t need an external judge to tell me). Secondly, One paper was published and two were submitted or re-submitted (the one that is actually not my work). Thirdly, a 3-year contract was signed. Forth, finally it is time for me to go off-site training. This semester’s in-house training gave me some practice on child-raising, which is definitely useful. The not that good things included: First, two grant application were submitted and afterwards mercilessly denied. Secondly, someone thought it not good for me to fail students who came in without proper preparation.

Other things notable include that I finished the garage, almost single-handed by myself (with the help from Mr. Cheng the handyman), and I have started to set up a wood workshop there. I have re-built the big table to make a dining table.

“It’s a fucking miracle!”

November 24, 2012

I don’t know if there is another movie that is so moving and inspiring, and touches so many important philosophical aspects such as the meaning of life and work, the relation between body and mind, the ethics of life and death (or waking and sleeping), and the question of conscience and unconscious, etc.

This movie is the 1990 movie Awakenings, with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro as the leading actors.

I first watched it in 2005, the first year when I started the PhD study, and my advisor showed me this movie, obviously with the good intention of arousing curiosity and passion for neuroscience in me. My English was not that good that time, but it did not need much language to understand the story and feel the emotions of the roles. I was deeply touched at that time.

Years later, I read the booked on which the movie was based, Dr. Oliver Sacks’ Awakenings, a collection of stories about his work in the 1969 summer involving a group of severely mentally damaged patients. They were great stories, but the way Dr. Sacks told them was a little overacted and too wordy. So I skipped probably one or two chapters. I do think I grasped something important from the book, about the powers of love, family, music, and work, powers that could awake individuals in deep sleep, with some help from a good doctor and a transformative drug.

It’s 8 years since I first watched the movie. Tonight, I was again deeply touched by the movie. More than one times my eyes became wet, and in other times I laughed my heart out. One line can be used to summarize my feeling of the story: “it’s a fucking miracle!”

No windows 8

November 22, 2012

I have tried Windows 8 a few times. Installed it on my big laptop, on my Dell laptop, and on my Toshiba ultrabook last night. And I feel that I have to say NO to this version.

It is just too awkward to use. The UI is not intuitive any more. I have to google answer for a lot of simple actions, like “how to close an app,” “how to restart your computer,” and “how to search for apps in the apps store,” etc. There might be a steep learning curve and after a certain time it would not feel so painful to use Windows 8. However, I have already tried a few times, although each time I had to convert to Windows 7 in just a few days, and I have not gained the confidence of using Windows 8.

So I called Microsoft to ask for a refund. I am done with it. I will not try to waste more of my time.

Another deep consideration to support this idea is about the purpose of having a computer. Is it for productivity, for entertainment, or both? I have a big laptop dedicated for gaming and productivity, and this laptop should be used mainly for productivity, which requires fewer distractions. Windows 8, by combining apps and traditional programs, seems to be a weird combination of productivity and entertainment. The apps are very distracting, I have to say, which makes Windows 8 not a good product for productivity.

A touching moment

January 12, 2012

Today, I heard the heart beating of my coming baby.

Although I have known it for weeks that my wife is pregnant – both the pregnancy test both at home and at family doctor’s say so, and her pregnancy response has been pretty strong – I just had a little difficulty accepting the fact there is another life in her belly. It is still flat, and I could not feel any legs kicking or else. It is like consciously I know a baby must be there, and the baby must be so tiny at this stage, yet emotionally, viscerally, I could not feel the existence of my baby.

Until I heard the heart beating sound at the OBGYN’s exam room.

The beating is pretty fast. Probably 200 beats per minute? I vaguely had the impression that I read it some time ago, but  I have not checked it out at wikipedia. This is something that the exact knowledge does not count – who cares. The beating is there, announcing the existence of a life. This is the life that my wife and I created! At that moment, my eyes became welled. So happy now.

What I have learned/completed today

January 9, 2012

Life repeats itself. Tonight I again feel the urge to write something, to express, and to create something, instead of consuming – movies, games, books, etc. In other words, while many others are wasting their previous time creating nonsense stuff, or those scribbles on facebook, I have been intimidated to express myself. I don’t know why I have had this attitude of my life. I am a researcher, a professor, and to publish or perish is my motto. I had the courage and persistency to submit my work again and again until it published, even though I feel ashamed now by just reading it.

I have not lived a productive life. I have not been practical at all. By nature I am probably a little idealistic, perfectionistic. I read novels, watch dramas, listen to classic music. They are great when on has time and money; neither do I have now. I need to be practical, occupy myself with things that could be useful for my life, and let my offspring enjoy art and music.

So I will start from today and ask myself before going to bed, what I have done today? Have I got a productive day? Did I use my time wisely and practically? Have I worked for my relationship, for my job, and for my skills and knowledge?

I had time before that I focused on these issues and forced myself to lead an active life. Now I have to. I need to spend some time with family, walk my dog every day, exercise my body, learn English, teach and do some research,  and be productive. In other words, I want to work hard, and play hard. Cannot endure the half-assed effort for both work and play. They suck.

And not every movie I have need to be watched, not every album heard, not every book read. Skip something, and focus on things that are more important, and much better.

On watching TVs and movies

November 13, 2011


I have to ask myself, what is the purpose of watching TVs and movies? This question has been looming in my mind for some time, and becomes clearer every time I saw a movie or a TV episode that either lacks a taste, or cannot catch my attention, or cannot be understood. I am wasting my time! Not only by watching these movies and TVs, for I tend to sit over the whole thing even though the plot is so that you know who is the killer after the first scene, but also for the effort and time devoted to download and organize my huge collection of them.

My drive to analyze my daily movie- or TV-watching behaviors gets much stronger these days when I am listening to Steve Jobs, a biography wrote by Walter Isaacson.  For him, knowing the purpose is fundamental and he could not do anything without knowing the purpose. One example was his discussion with his wife about the purpose of the washing machine. The European machine washes better but takes longer time, and the American one faster but uses one more gallon of water, and the cloth lasts shorter. So which one to choose? The choice was seen, by Steve, as related to family value, e.g., to save time, or to save energy?

Looking upon my behaviors, I am embarrassed to see I am on the opposite side of Steve. I have been spending time downloading, burning, collecting, and watching movies and TVs in a habitual way, and I have forgot why, especially what I have collected already exceeds the amount that I can watch in a year. Why?

Probably because I have an obsession of collecting things. I collected a huge pile of pirated game CD/DVDs back home, and did not have time to play even a hundredth of them. I had a collection of VCDs of movies, and when DVDs were out, I changed them to VCDs. Because they were the same movies, I did not bother to watch most in my DVD collection.

I am not sure when this obsession starts, or why I started to have this obsession. Was it because of my family’s poverty during my childhood That I yearned for a lot of things but my parents could afford none of them?  Was it because that with my fluency problem I had to stay at home for the most of the summers and had to kill the time by reading whatever books I could get from the local small library? Or was it just my nature that when time matures it just shows up? Anyway, it is hard to say. And it does not matter when and why I started to have this obsession. The point is, things need to have some change. Yes we can!

Sir Francois Bacon indicated that there are various functions of reading, along with various manners of reading. So is watching TVs and movies. There are some movies and TVs that should be digested, some watched, and some just browsed and skipped. These various manners of watching them correspond to the different purpose for watching them.

Some are for learning, some for socializing, and some for entertainment. For learning, they are classic movies/TVs that have influenced the culture and language, or adaptions of classic novels/plays. For socializing, they are the popular movies/TVs for a certain time, and could serve as topics on the table. For entertainment are those that move me in this or that way. There are a lot others that cannot be counted as for either of these purposes, and they have to be phased out in my collection.