Friday, April 29, 2016

Time Stamps - Then and Now

Season after season I trim the bushes in my front yard and maintain their perfect ball shape. I take great pride in my work, and in my memory they have always been in the ball shape. Until one day, I happened to be glancing through some old photos and found a picture taken a dozen years ago in front of my house. The bushes were small and short, without much of a shape. They have grown in front of my eyes and I did not register!

Scanning through other photo albums I found two pairs of photos that resemble the situation of the bushes.

Nicholas and his mom walking together - he walked by mom’s side in a science museum in 2003, not reaching her hip yet; twelve years later he hiked with mom at Bryce Canyon, almost a head taller than mom.

My boys and I - we stood in front of a blue bonnet field in 2004 - Nicholas in my arm, and Justin under my arm; eleven years later they towered me on the trail of Bryce Canyon.

Photos are our visual time stamps.

Time marches forward steadily, but its passing is never fully appreciated, until we pause to look back.

Spring 2016
Summer 2003
Nicholas and Mom 2003
Nicholas (in blue coat) and Mom 2015
My boys and I, Spring 2004
My boys and I (middle), Winter 2015

Sunday, April 17, 2016

See America Slowly

The title is borrowed from a photo caption from the book "The Oregon Trail - A new american journey", which I just start reading. This week I took "see America slowly" to the heart and slowed down, took time to enjoy the surroundings.

The park at HQ

I visited my company's HQ numerous time,  I see that there is a beautiful pond in front of the auditorium. Every time  I went there for a meeting and left right after the meeting, I had never walked around the pond to experience it in person - only looked at it from a distance.

An island in the pond
This week I went there again for a corporate presentation "Tech Trend 2016".  There was an hour to go after lunch before the presentation began. Instead of checking emails etc, I walked toward the pond for my usual after lunch jog. There are much more than the pond - it is an on-campus park.

Reflection in the pond
The pond actually elongates several hundred yards to the east, with 6 large buildings around its perimeter. There are two islands in the pond, with bridges connecting them to the perimeter.

I walked slowly around the whole perimeter, looking around and taking pictures - the landscape, the trees, the moving white clouds and their reflections.  I noticed that there was another cafeteria on the east side of the campus, and more people dinning there than that in the one by the gym/auditorium. Few people takes advantage of this beautiful setting. It took me about 45 minutes to finish the half mile loop.  I walk around my campus after lunch almost  everyday, I pass by a factory,a  receiving dock, two test wells, .... all industrialized structures and share the road with 18 wheeler occasionally! I wished I had a park like this at my campus.

After the loop, I still had 15  minutes or so to spare, I sat under a tree on the center island to read a magazine I brought with me, I was totally immersed in the beautiful park.
The park at HQ

Klyde Warren Park at downtown Dallas

We went to Meyerson Symphony Center many times for concerts and every tine we left right after concerts. So we have been to the heart of Dallas downtown many times, but we have never really experienced downtown except viewing it from our car.

Jane's Lane
Klyde Warren Park is about a hundred yard away from Meyerson down the Pearl street. Lily and I went to the park on Saturday after listening to Nicholas' performance at Meyerson with his band.

food trucks by the park 
The park is a 3-block open green area in the downtown concretes over the Woodall Rogers Freeway, like overpasses. There is a small dog park on north end. It has a 0.44 mile loop walkway for jogging, and there is a playground to the north end. There is a stage at the center, and water fountains by its side. Besides the green area, two things drew our attention - food trucks and the play of bagpipes by a "Scottish piper".

Most visitors were near the food truck - it was lunch time - families with young children, old couples, young couples. Many of them don shorts to enjoy this cloudy and pleasant day - temperature around 75F.

Scottish piper
high rise in the distance, food trucks at roadside
The park is right by the Art District. We have been to Art district many times, in addition to Meyerson, we also went to Dallas Art Museum, Nasher Sculpture Center. It had been single focused trip previously, we went to the destination, and went home after the visit.  Looking at the map of the Art District, I realize that everything is within walking distance.

Next time we go to downtown for a night event , we got to get there much earlier to walk around a bit, and have a nice dinner there before the show, concert, opera or dance.

Slow down, there is much to enjoy !



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sanders and Clinton's Tax Returns

According USA Today, here are the numbers for Sanders and Clinton's 2014 Tax Return:

Sanders' Tax Return

Sanders and Wife's combined income $205K, Sanders and his wife, Jane, including charitable gifts of $8,350. They paid $27,653 in federal income taxes and $7,903 in Vermont income taxes in 2014. Their income is largely derived from Sanders’ Senate salary of $174,000 and Social Security benefits.

Clinton's Tax Return

Clinton released her tax returns, filed jointly with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in July. They show the couple earned just over $28 million in 2014 and $27 million in 2013, more than double the $13 million they earned in 2010, when she was still serving as secretary of state. The 2014 total included $10.5 million in speaking fees for Hillary Clinton, $9.8 million in speaking fees for the former president, and $6.4 million he earned from "consulting." In a statement, Hillary Clinton noted the family had given $15 million to charity since 2007. The tax returns show $14.8 million of that went to the Clinton Family Foundation.

Most of Clinton's income comes from TALKING  - $20.3M a year. That is $3476/hour for both of them talking 8 hours a day every day for year. Note that Hillary Clinton's one year speaking fee is 198 times of the median income of a 4 person household in US.

Clinton noted that they donated $15M for charity since 2007. The truth is they donated $14.8M of the $15M to their own foundation Clinton family. Guess who works at the foundation? Bill and Chelsea Clinton.

What a contradiction to "fighting for you"! What an irony!!

Closing

Voters need to compare what are said to what are done by the candidates, use their brains to digest numbers.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring Outing - by Lily

It’s yet another beautiful spring day, what’s special is that none of us is busy. So we decided to visit Oak Point Nature Reserve again, picnic, biking, and enjoying the nice weather. Nicholas grudgingly agreed, only with the lure of picnic and promise of computer game afterwards. Given any choice, he would rather stay indoors with a computer or some books. We loaded up the bikes and headed to the park.




Oak Point Nature Reserve has become more popular this year with the opening of the new convention center and treetop adventure service. We had picnic in the woods by the pond, the “prince’s” special order – Nashville spicy hot KFC along with veggies and fruits. A pair of cardinals chased each other around in trees. Looking toward the pond, some people were fishing, two old ladies were painting, and several families were walking or biking.




After a satisfying meal, we mounted onto our bikes and headed south. We took our usual route by the pond, through the bridges and underpasses, passing Bob Woodruff park, and all the way until reaching the 230 year-old tree. Along the way, I saw equestrians, runners, and dog lovers. The woods are in the shade of early spring green, fresh and tender. The field shares the same lovely color only being decorated with sprinkles of flowers. The creek is flowing, thanks to the recent rainfalls, clear and lively. I stopped at times to snap a picture or two, then got back on my bike and paddled as fast as I could to enjoy the soft spring wind.






At the end of our bike ride, I noticed a small smile on Nicholas’s face. Apparently he enjoyed his ride, soaked in the smell of nature and the warmth of spring sun. I couldn’t help but to think back how I was like when I was his age. I was as nerdy as he is now and never did much outdoor activities. Marrying the right person has changed my life style a lot, allowing me to enjoy things that I never thought I’d like and to try things that I never thought I’d be good at, all of which make my life full. Hopefully with Allan’s guidance, Nicholas will learn to live a full life too.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Authenticity and Conviction

2016 presidential primaries have been some interesting social phenomena.

A 74 year old senator from Vermont has a huge following of passionate millennials. How many mid aged parents can connect with their young adult children at this level? There must be something special about him.

There are many reasons for the appeal of Bernie Sanders to a large sector of the society - his ideal and policy proposals resonate with this sector of the society due to current  economic divide, burden of school loans, increasing reliance on government welfare .....

His dry humor - he joked that he had only one underwear when  he railed against billionaires; his conviction of democratic socialism - he has practiced it at a town in Vermont for 40 years! His doing as he says - when he criticizes the corrupted campaign financing, wealthy buying election .... he raised his campaign fund from millions of ordinary people ... natural in his demeanor, unwavering in his belief, and does what he preaches ... is endearing.   What a stark contrast to his challenger, who is stiff and arrogant, opportunistic - changing her position as needed, saying fighting for poor but taking quarter million dollar speech fee. She criticizes the corrupted campaign financing, while she goes to Hollywood to raise fund  $35K per person! she is fighting for herself. What a hypocrite!

I don't believe in what Sanders preaches, but reading and watching news pieces about him and his campaign, I start to respect this self claimed democratic socialist. I am rooting for him on the democratic side.

It is worth noting the equally interesting primary on the Republican side. A billionaire businessman, Donald Trump, saying outrageous things in his rallies, showing no manner in debates .... Like many people, I predicted last fall that he would fade by Christmas 2015.....  But he has been #1 on Republican side so far in this election cycle. Why?  Political correctness upheld by the media and liberals deprives American people of freedom of speech. His fight against "main stream" media, speaking his mind on national stage, is fresh and liberating.

Of the remaining 5 presidential candidates from both Democrats and Republican, I believe that Ohio governor John Kasich is most qualified to be our next president, a moderate, a nice guy with proven track record for running Ohio in his second term. It seems that he is unlikely even to be nominated by Republicans.  In a Democracy, most popular person wins, not most qualified.