VHALKYRIE   16,233
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VHALKYRIE's Recent Blog Entries

Shocked by a Friend's Cancer

Friday, April 01, 2011

I just found out a friend has lymphoblastic lymphoma. He has a very aggressive kind, and as soon as he was diagnosed, he was admitted the same day for chemotherapy. He's only 40.

One of the worst things about getting older isn't the wrinkles, it's the number of friends and family who start to get very sick.

I was recently wrapped up in some meaningless drivel, and this news feels like a splash of ice water on my face. Sometimes petty problems seem so important, until I get slapped with a reality check about what is really important.

My friend has only started his treatments, so I am hoping for the best. He is strong, and has a lot to live for. I'm just stunned.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEAWAVE 4/2/2011 2:18PM

    Sorry for the bad news. Thoughts and prayers are being sent to you and your friend.

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NEURONERD 4/2/2011 2:01PM

    Sending you and your friend my positive thoughts and prayers. Stay strong!

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LADYIRISH317 4/2/2011 12:44PM

    I'm so sorry this happened. Prayers coming for you and your friend.

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LILOATS 4/2/2011 10:35AM

    So sorry to hear about your friend. What a shocker. I will put you & him in my prayers. My sister just lost a close friend to cancer. It was too late when she found out that she had it. She only lived for 3 months. You Take Care & Help Make your friend as comfortable as possible during this time. Prayers & HUGS.

TONI emoticon

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THINRONNA 4/2/2011 3:57AM

    I am hoping for the best for your friend. I hope he has a good support system. I would imagine that having someone like you in his life to be very beneficial. Thinking about your last blog leads me to believe that you are a very life affirming person. Cherish every moment that you can! emoticon

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KELPIE57 4/2/2011 2:35AM

    Sending hugs and positive thoughts to you and your friend. Yes, it is a heck of a wake up call, isn't it!

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LAURETTA1966 4/1/2011 9:52PM

I just wanted to say that you and you friend are in my thoughts this evening.
I am send you postitve thoughts in that your friend beats this terrible disease.
You have said he is strong and has a lot to live for so that is important.

Again keep your chin you focus on the positive I am as well for you.

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Cherishing Life

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My heart breaks with Japanese earthquake tragedy. I am shaken and saddened. The morning the earthquake hit, everyone was just going about their lives. For even the most technologically advanced country in the world, lives ended abruptly. The buildings were intact after the quake, but the tsunami was unstoppable. We can engineer buildings to resist an earthquake, but there's nothing that can stand against a tsunami. Even people who received the tsunami warning didn't evacuate because they thought they were far enough in. The tsunami came 6 miles inland. 2000 bodies have washed ashore from that aftermath. It made me cry.

It made me think about my own life. How if it ended abruptly, what would people say? I hope friends and family would say that I lived a good life. I hope they would say I tried to do the right things, for the right reasons. I hope they would remember and speak fondly about my adventures to other places. I hope they would say that I wasn't afraid to live.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEDGEY 3/15/2011 1:19PM

    Living in an earthquake zone has us balancing prudent preparation and reasonable precautions while still trying to not worry excessively about what may or may not happen in our lifetimes. Throw a few volcanoes into the mix and you really have something.

We have stored water, keep a pantry, and have an evacuation plan. Beyond that, we try not to think too much about it. It's not like there is an earthquake forecast although we are fortunate to have excellent tsunami forecasting abilities.

It remains to be seen how Japan ultimately gets through this tragedy. I hope we all learn where the gaps in our preparedness lie and act to help ourselves and set up local plans.

My heart goes out to all those suffering and hope that with concerted effort, the situation is alleviated quickly.

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JESS0107 3/15/2011 11:44AM

    What happened to Japan is why we should live our life to the fullest because you never know what will happen at any point of your life. I hope you have a great day!

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/15/2011 11:33AM

    The force of mother nature can be frightening. The loss of life is staggering, but I think one thing that gave me chills was seeing the massive whirlpool that developed off the coast. It was swallowing ships whole. That's the power of water.

Japan was considered one of the best prepared nations for dealing with earthquakes. But, even with all the drills they've done, nothing can prepare a nation for something like this. It was just one natural disaster after another. And now, that might be compounded with a nuclear disaster.

People have asked whether or not the US is prepared for such a disaster. If what happened to New Orleans when Katrina hit is any indication of our preparedness, the answer is no. We are not prepared for a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. I hope California and the west coast is considering their own disaster plans. The fact is, there have been a lot of earthquakes recently. Think about it, Pakistan, China, Haiti, Chile, New Zealand... something is going on under the Earth's crust that everyone should be paying close attention too.

I've been looking at various charities and trying to decide which I'm going to donate to.

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My Cat is Fat

Monday, March 14, 2011

I have a fat cat. She has always been fat. When I got her spayed as a kitten, the vet put in capital letters and exclamation marks on her medical chart, "OBESE!!!!"

I've tried to put her on various 'diets' throughout the years. Diet food. I wanted to put her on 'catkins', but she refuses to eat anything but kibble.

She's a kibbletarian. Of course she is. She was born in Seattle. Darn hipster cat.

She has no concept of 'portion size'. If I leave a big bowl of food, she won't nibble on it all day. She'll scarf it all down in one sitting. I guess she's like her mom. If you put it in front of her, she'll eat all of it.

So I have to give feed her right sized portions at mealtime. Except the kibble must not be very filling. She's taken to stealing food from the other cat's bowl. The other cat has no problems snacking a little all day. She is skinny.

And fat kitty still doesn't lose weight. In a lot of ways, her weight problem mirrors mine. I can't lose weight with diet alone. I have to exercise. She needs exercise. How do you exercise a cat? She won't get on the treadmill. Do we get a dog to chase her?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 3/15/2011 7:53AM

    She was not a shelter cat. However, I think she may have been separated from her litter too young. Typical story, coworker brings in a box of kittens, she falls asleep in my arms and I had to bring her home! I never had a kitten before, so I didn't know she was too young. When I brought her home, I gave her a bowl of canned cat food, but she refused to eat it. I left it out thinking she would eat it when she got hungry enough. The next morning, she hadn't touched it. I think she was too sad from being separated from her litter and in a strange place. I gave her another fresh can then went to work. When I came home, she still hadn't eaten. I was terrified at this point. I went to the store and got kibble. I was relieved she scarfed it down. Because of that incident, I left lots of food out. I thought growing kitten would need lots of food. Except she ate lots of food. Hence, I took her to the vet and he complained she was obese. emoticon

I did manage to get her to eat canned food, once. It was a premium brand that had cube bites in it. She absolutely refused to touch the pate type cat food, even premium brands. She didn't exactly love the cubes, but I managed to get her to eat it with a half kibble mix. Then I went away for a weekend, left a big bowl of kibble, and have never been able to get her to eat the wet stuff again.

She has no medical issues, other than asthma (we have a kitty inhaler for her!). Though I am afraid because of her weight issues, diabetes is around the corner.

Comment edited on: 3/15/2011 7:54:55 AM

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JILLWILSON2102 3/15/2011 7:40AM

    I have no recommendations. All my cats have been nibblers so I can fill the bowl about twice a week and they are fine. Yep you have to be in control and give her the kitty light version of her kibble in the portion that is the right size - go figure.

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THINRONNA 3/15/2011 7:17AM

    We only have imaginary kitties at our house (helps with alergy issues) so I cannot help you at all on this one! We just give ours wings and they get lots of exercise...sometimes they go hiking to Africa too. That keeps them trim...I think...I can't actually see them. :)

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SHARONBAILEY913 3/15/2011 12:44AM

    I'm assuming you've had your cat tested for underlying medical conditions to explain her appetite and inablility to lose weight. I have a female cat that is very prone to get fat if I give her any canned food, so she is only provided with dry kibble and she doesn't overeat...not that she's skinny, but not fat either. You say your's won't eat anything except kibble; maybe you should provide canned food...she'll probably give in and eat just enough to stifle her hunger. Just a thought, good luck...maybe you'll get plenty of ideas from other members.

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PHEBESS 3/15/2011 12:39AM

    Did you get her from a shelter? When we first got our cat, she would over eat to the point of vomiting - the vet said this is fairly common among shelter cats, who may have not had enough food at some point in their lives. Kind of like some orphans who at first over eat and make themselves sick. It's more psychological than physical - we had to give our cat a lot of food for a while before she sort of settled down and quit over eating.

I don't know if that helps, but you might want to contact a kitty psychiatrist or something and just ask what they think. I know, it sounds weird - but it could be the issue.

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MILLISMA 3/14/2011 9:55PM

    One of my cats needs SparkKitty also - you can see her on my spark page. I have a bookcase that my little one can get up on that chunky can't so I can put extra crunchies up there since I have to control the food intake.

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VHALKYRIE 3/14/2011 2:48PM

    JMAYS831: I did try to leash train her when she was a kitten, but she was very stubborn. I couldn't even bribe her with food or catnip. She really hates the harness. She's a houdini cat who figured out how to escape from the cat harness! There's too many dogs in our neighborhood anyway, it would end badly.

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JMAYS831 3/14/2011 2:42PM

    get a leash and collar and take em out for a walk (or would that be drag????) Actually I did leash break a cat once and she enjoyed walking with me (but most cats won't get with the porgram)

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VHALKYRIE 3/14/2011 2:35PM

    ARCHIMEDESII: No, I haven't let her free feed in a very long time. I give her the recommended portions, and she still doesn't lose weight! She ends up begging for more a little while later, or steals from the other cat's bowl.

She's lost interest in the feather and laser pointer. She runs for a little bit, then gets out of breath, then doesn't want to do it anymore.

Comment edited on: 3/14/2011 2:45:46 PM

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/14/2011 2:23PM

    Hmm... well, if you have an obese cat (gee, that must have been embarrassing) then maybe you shouldn't be putting out a big bowl of kibble for kitty to eat in one gulp. You control the kibble spigot. So, instead of putting out a big bowl, then why not put out a smaller portion in the morning before you go to work. Then when you get home, you can give them another smaller portion if they're feeling a wee peckish.

For exercise, cats love those sticks that have feathers attached by a string. My cat used to love attacking them ! Try one some time.

I take it your cat doesn't have the Friday night crazies. You know, that's when they spend the evening chasing imaginary creatures. Don't ask me why, but every Friday night, my cat would act like a lunatic running up and down the house. Jumping on furniture, etc... What is up with you, cat ?

Well, unless Spark People has a Spark Feline section, you're just going to have to create a calorie log for kitty. eh-hem.


Comment edited on: 3/14/2011 2:24:37 PM

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VHALKYRIE 3/14/2011 2:07PM

    Well one challenge with exercising her is she has asthma. I didn't know cats could get asthma! If she gets too exerted, she starts hacking and wheezing. I'm sure it would get better if she would exercise more, but she would rather nap. Hah!

Comment edited on: 3/14/2011 2:37:30 PM

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PETUNIAPIG 3/14/2011 1:46PM

    Your cat sounds a lot like my husband and me!!

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SEDGEY 3/14/2011 1:33PM

    We used to take our cat(s) hiking, but that takes early conditioning.

Sign her up for laser tag? :D

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HITGIRL83 3/14/2011 8:26AM

  My cat used to go nuts for a soda straw. Drag it across the floor and he would lose his little mind. Also draw it up the wall and so on, so that your kitty will jump. Worked like a charm, especially since my kitty wouldn't go outside much. emoticon

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SAILSCALL 3/14/2011 8:02AM

    Wow - a stealing, fat cat. She has a problem. I'm thinking juvenile detention to straighten her out. emoticon

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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Review Part II

Friday, March 11, 2011

Now that I had a few days to digest, I have a few additional words to say.

My parents pushed me to do well because I was capable of it. The incident where my mom asked me if I wanted to clean toilets for the rest of my life was because I truly did slack off. I got the B, when I could have got the A. I did not try my hardest, and I was called out for it. But my parents never, ever called me 'garbage' or other names. They never called each other names either.

My dad thought it was important for me to have access to a computer when I was little. While computers are commonplace these days, it was rare when I was growing up. I was growing up just at the start of the home computing revolution. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer in their garage when I was 4 years old.

My dad was a car mechanic, then later an airplane mechanic in the Air Force. He told me on numerous occasions that if he had access to a computer, he never would have picked up a wrench. My parents didn't make a lot of money, but they bought me computers during a time when they were very expensive for a base model. My dad saw computers would be the future of the workplace, and he wanted me to have a head start.

Fortunately, I took to computing very well, even beyond just playing games. I dabbled with programming, digital art, and even video editing. I tinkered under the case to see what was inside.

Unlike Amy's daughters who were forced to play the piano, I was never forced to sit at a computer and write programs. I did have to get my homework done before I could play with it, though.

I understand and agree with the author that being pushed to try harder teaches confidence. I saw way too many of my peers being told it was ok if they didn't understand math, because math is hard. Their parents should have given them more problems to work on at home. When I was little, I got a bad grade in math on my progress report. My parents bought me math flash cards and workbooks.

I bristle at the notion ability to learn and excel is dictated by gender and 'natural' ability. One of the boys in my 3rd grade class told me I could never be as good at math as him because I was a girl. This lit a fire in me. By 4th grade, I had a near perfect record in math.

I agree with the author on the asian model of teaching versus the current American model. In asian schools, they teach achievement is based on hard work and practice, practice, practice. In Western schools, they teach excellence in an area is due to 'natural' ability. I prefer the asian school of thought. If you can never rise above your 'natural' talents, then we are all screwed.

I am not 'naturally' gifted at math. I had to work on it. There definitely were people I knew who may have been what you term 'naturally gifted'. They saw the patterns immediately and could work through them. Repetition makes things automatic. While I may have had to work harder than these prodigies to see the pattern, I could perform it as well as they could in the end.

In college, many of these 'naturally gifted' mathematicians struggled with the programming classes. I wizzed by in the computer science classes. Was it natural talent, or was it the many years when I dabbled with programming as a teenager?

The most important skill in computer programming is the ability to work through a problem, and have the confidence to fix your own mistakes. I have problems teaching people programming are who are actually very smart. The people who wizzed through school without having to try very hard are more likely to get frustrated and give up when their code doesn't compile, or it doesn't return the answer it was supposed to. Making a mistake that causes the program to crash makes them feel dumb, they put it aside, and are scared to go back to it. They don't like that feeling of 'this is hard'. When interviewing people for my teams, I'd rather have the person who is moderately smart with a 'I can do this' attitude than a genius. The geniuses can be some of the biggest slackers.

My recommendation to people who struggle with programming is more programming problems, more programming books. The number of people who have told me they want to learn programming and follow my advice is currently zero.

I once had a guy at work ask me how he could get started learning programming. I gave him a recommendation on a book that I liked that had practice problems to try. I told him to try the practice problems at home, and if he had questions, I'd be happy to help him. He derisively complained he just wanted me to teach, he didn't know why I was telling him to read a book. If he couldn't buy a book, read a chapter and try a small assignment on his own, then he was wasting my time. Every time he'd tell me he wanted to learn, I asked how far he got in the book. He told me he didn't have time.

When I was a teenager, I once blew up a motherboard. I plugged a cable on the board the wrong way trying to install a bigger hard drive (this is impossible to do on modern motherboards btw.) In many households, this probably would lead to being chewed out and maybe grounded. My dad was like, "Bummer. What happened?" I told him. "Oh that sucks. Let's get a new one and try again." I figured he must have blown up a gasket tinkering with his cars at some point in his past, and saw it as just part of the learning process.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 3/11/2011 6:19PM

    You bring up an interesting (and amusing) point, Karen! I chucked at the thought of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dueling for top concert pianist spot!! LOL!!

One thought that occurred to me is the author spent so much time teaching her children to play classical piano and violin, she never cultivated, or encouraged, their ability to create their own music.

Comment edited on: 3/11/2011 6:29:52 PM

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/11/2011 3:33PM

    Hmm... if Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had the Tiger mother as a parent, they might be concert pianists today instead of computer entrepreneurs and she would have made Bill Gates finish Harvard. LOL !

I think I'm going to have to push this book up the pile of things I need to read. Thanks for the great review. It's certainly a polarizing book.

Time to go play with my ipod touch.


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NEURONERD 3/11/2011 2:18PM

    After reading your blog, I thought you might find this article interesting.


Hard work and persistence is what has made me successful and I hope to pass these traits to my daughter.

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DDOORN 3/11/2011 1:55PM

    What a cool Dad! Great thoughts...thx for sharing! No question: a little effort goes a LONG way in bringing about results!


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THINRONNA 3/11/2011 12:05PM

    I had a little different experience growing up. I was adopted into a family of highly intelligent people...the kind of people who are finding cures for things or developing medicine. My uncle built a rocket in his spare time when he was in college that got NASA's attention...he was then featured in LIFE magazine. You get the idea.

They just kind of were lost with a person like me and assumed that I was not very bright. They knew that I was good at certain things I suppose but these things were not considered realistic to a successful life and therefore not encouraged at all. I was told over and over that I should not get my hopes up in life because I then wouldn't be disappointed. They assumed that if I was getting C's it was all I could do and if I got a B it was seen as a major accomplishment. The truth is that I did not try because it was not expected of me! So sad.

It turns out that they were wrong! I didn't figure it out until my last semester in college though when I really focused and made the Deans list. Then, years later I graduated literally at THE top of my class in culinary school and was chosen for the Alpha Beta Kappa society. I am no dummy...I am just not ever going to be a doctor!

You better believe I will be supporting my kids where ever their aptitudes lie! Parents have an obligation to their children to help them reach their potential with high expectations I believe.

You have written a wonderful blog. I have thoughts on those who want the knowledge but are not willing to go through what it takes to get it too... like you talk about, but then my comment would be too long!

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KAYOTIC 3/11/2011 9:54AM

    Great insights....being a minor "prodigy" myself I must agree with your assessment of that type of mind. I have struggled with the process of failure, and giving up rather than pushing through when things didn't come as easily as I was used to. I think a lot of the value of education is leaning that failure can lead to progress, and that giving up is really the ultimate failure.

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VHALKYRIE 3/11/2011 9:49AM

    PICKLEDGINGER2: Hoping for the best for your daughter. I have friends in Japan too.

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PICKLEDGINGER2 3/11/2011 8:00AM

  I, too, was blessed with wonderful parents. I hope I did well in that department, too. My children had lots of advantages. Today my daughter is in Tokyo. If you're watching the news, you know I"m beside myself with worry.

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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Review

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I'm out of it. I don't watch at lot of TV, so I had no idea this book was making a stir. I was looking to join a book club, and this came up as the monthly book.

In case you also live outside pop culture, it's about a Chinese-American mother who started writing the book with the thesis that the Chinese model of raising children is better than the Western way. Chinese parents raise well behaved, high achieving children. Western parents raise unruly, underachieving children. In the end, she has learned from both the Chinese way of enforcement, and the American way of 'finding their own path'.

I have a rather unique perspective on this. I am a product of both east/west cultures. My mom is Korean and my dad is American by way of Germany. I was raised in the US.

I'll get to the book part in a minute, but a little more backstory. My mom and I had a rocky relationship while I was growing up. We didn't understand each other, and we clashed. We also share very passionate, strong convictions. When I was little, my friend was in the Girl Scouts, so I wanted to join the Girl Scouts. My mom wouldn't let me. She didn't want me selling cookies. She didn't understand these strange American traditions. I didn't understand why she was ruining my life.

My dad was often in the role of mediator, especially in my teenage years. My mom and I would have a terrible fight, and she would go running to my dad and tell him to do something about me. I would go running to my dad and tell him to do something about mom.

I remember when I was 14 or 15, I was reading a book in my room. My mom calls my name and starts yelling at me in both English and Korean. I flew out of my room in a rage and started yelling at her, "WHAT?! I wasn't doing anything! I was just reading a book!" There was no answer from my mom. "Mom?" I go into her room. She was dead asleep. She was yelling at me in her sleep.

I laughed. I guess our relationship started to change a bit after that. I realized how tense things had become. Though my mom and I truly never became close or even really friends until after I was on my own in college. Now that I'm an adult, we get along great. And I realize that mom was right on a lot of things.

That is the way I think it should be. I've seen too many parents who won't discipline their children because they want to be their friend. A parent is an authority figure. They have to be able to make decisions their kids will not like. They have to wield a stick of authority and it's not a democracy.

I think that is really what "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" is about. Reading the reviews on Amazon, it's clear people are very offended. They call her abusive and extreme. I saw one reviewer say pushing excellence in school is a waste of time. High achievers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg didn't even finish college, therefore academics is useless.

Completely false. While these men did not graduate college, they had darn fine primary education. You can't write a computer program without knowing how to problem solve mathematics. You can't give a killer keynote speech without a basic English education.

I don't think the take away message of this book is to make your kids practice piano 6 hours a day to be successful. However, if a parent doesn't push their kids to excellence, no one will. It is not up to the teachers. It is up to the parents. I saw way too many of my peers growing up who were content in their mediocrity. They said school was a waste of time, it doesn't teach any real world skills.

When I was younger, I used to get teased and tripped in the hall for being a 'nerd', the high achiever in the class. I stopped raising my hand in class to answer a question after a while because I would get ridiculed for 'always having the answer' or 'teacher's pet' later. I always hoped that the teacher wouldn't call on me if no one volunteered, but they usually did. I longed for acceptance like all kids do.

My mom used to yell at me to do well in school. She was a housekeeper at a hotel. If I got a B on my mid term report card, she used to say, "Do you want to scrub toilets like I do? It's back breaking work, no one respects you. The hotel guests treat you like a slave. Go do your homework, and do better next time."

I would get angry that a B was better than almost everyone else in my class. It was a good grade, I should be rewarded. I cried how mean she was. If I was a teenager today, I'd probably be texting a friend "OMG mom ylld 4 B n eng!!!"*

For some reason, I worked harder for the A.

Recently, I saw a status message on Facebook from one of my former schoolmates. He said something to the effect that he was working 3 jobs to send his daughters to private school because he wasn't going to let them get a crappy public education.

I agree with him that our school district wasn't the finest in the country, but I did the best with what was available to me. I don't recall him being in any of my honors classes. I am glad that he is pushing his daughters to excellence. In private school, hopefully the culture will reward achievement, and his daughters will be among peers who compete with them for the top spot.

* In truth, my parents probably would not have allowed me to have my own cell phone. When I got my driver's license, I was only allowed to drive to school, work, and back home. I was not allowed to drive to movie theaters or joy ride with friends.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 3/10/2011 4:45PM

    You have a great voice on this issue. I don't know about the book as I am out of the loop on lot of things because I live over here but it is very interesting to read about your perspective on the subject. I think that perhaps, despite the struggles you had with your mom, you were very fortunate to be raised the way that you were. I have now seen two other cultures (the West Indies and here) and their views on education and I am amazed at the differences globally ...well as globally as I know about...in how cultures view the role of education and as well as the expectations (or lack of) put on children.

The book sounds interesting. Thank you for the interesting blog.

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VHALKYRIE 3/9/2011 12:42PM

    Some college degrees are better than others, in terms of earning potential anyway. An engineering degree is very hard work, and very high pay. A liberal arts degree is easier to get, and in many cases, make it very difficult to get a job after graduating so they can pay their college loan. The highest paid degrees: Petroleum and aerospace engineering. Lowest paid degrees: Child and Family Studies and Elementary Education.

My favorite subjects in school were math, science, world history, and philosophy. I chose the engineering path, which is grueling. I am about 12 credits from completing. Fortunately, I don't need to finish my Physics II course in order to do my job, but I do need to complete my degree in order to continue advancing my position. World history and philosophy is something I still enjoy as a hobby.

My parents didn't care what I did, or what major I chose, as long as I put hard work into it. They would have been proud of me, no matter what I chose to do, as long as I was doing my very best.

When I'm interviewing someone for a position, I always give them a problem I think is more challenging than they can handle. I'm more interested in seeing how they derive the answer and their attitude, rather than the actual solution. If they seem daunted or flustered, interview is over. If they give it a try, and are intrigued/having fun with the problem, they're hired. Kind of why "How would you move Mt Fiji problems" are popular among computer science interviews.

And yes, I have a reputation for being a very tough interviewer! But management likes it. I find good people.

Comment edited on: 3/9/2011 1:42:37 PM

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/9/2011 12:24PM

    My family made me take French even though I wanted to take Spanish in high school. Back then, if you wanted to go to college, you were expected to know French. Spanish ? That was for the students taking business classes. Needless to say, today, knowing Spanish would be much more useful than my ability to conjugate a French verb ! LOL !!!!

When I was in high school, back in the Dark Ages, we were pretty much divided into three groups. One group was expected to go to college and therefore took college prep type courses. the next group was expecting to go straight to work. so, they took accounting and business classes. And then there was vocational education i.e. the lowest tier. They were the boys (usually) who were going to be apprenticed to plumbers, carpenters, air conditioning, etc... they didn't need French, Spanish, art. You could see them puttering around the building fixing things.

anyway, my point, do you know who now makes the most money ? the person with the college degree ? Nope, it's the kids who took those courses in plumbing, electricity, air conditioning, etc... I can not even tell you how much I paid a plumber to fix a leaky shower !!! $300 for one hours work and parts !!!

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VHALKYRIE 3/9/2011 12:09PM

    BTW, if you read the book, my relationship with my mom was a lot like Amy and Lulu. Very heated and lots of defiance. When my mom digs in her heels, she doesn't back down. I am the same way. We are both tigers in asian astrology, too - lol. My mom describes it as two tigers fighting. This is said with great affection. So just like a cat fight, my dad would have to come in with the proverbial squirt gun and break it up - LOL!

Though my mom never made me play violin for 6 hours. Actually, I wanted to play the flute and they said no.

My parents were a lot more reinforcing than the author is portraying herself. While there was 'disappointment' if I got a B, there were congratulations for straight A's, and proud calls to my grandma. I never got money or other rewards though, other than a pat on the back. I think 'bribes' of money or material things is also a poor model of reinforcement.

Comment edited on: 3/9/2011 12:18:08 PM

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VHALKYRIE 3/9/2011 10:38AM

    Karen: I think the methods of 'depriving them of food' is a bit overhyped by the people who hate the book. She uses them as an empty threat. I know my parents used to use the "starving children in Africa" line on me. Her younger daughter Lulu was smart enough to call her out on it. At one point, Lulu is refusing to do what she wants so she throws her outside in the freezing cold and said she could stay there. Lulu defiantly stands there, and she realizes that she actually would rather freeze to death than do what mom says. She admits it was an empty threat, and her 4 year old knew it.

While many see the hours forced playing piano and violin, I see a mom actively working with her children. It is very high pressure. At one point, she relates a story that her daughter was so tense for a recording, she couldn't play it right. She got up to go get a coffee. When she got back, she found her daughter finished her recording perfectly in her absence when mom wasn't staring at her.

There is a lesson of 'on/off' here. Some pressure is necessary in order to succeed. Too much will self destruct. I think this has been very true in my life. I've gone through periods of my life that were uncomfortable and terrible. Worst years of my life. But I worked through it and survived. Now I'm not afraid of taking chances anymore. I'm not afraid of difficult problems or circumstances. I survived once, I can do it again. I solved one difficult problem, I can handle the next.

You can't play at Carnegie Hall if you don't love the instrument. You can't fake the emotion. If the love is there, it's there. Otherwise, it's empty. Compare a pianist's rendition of a classical piece, compared to a piece played by a computer. You can tell instantly the computer rendition is perfect, but it lacks something. It doesn't inspire you. A piano played by a human conveys the love of the pianist.

There's a quote where she says, "...there's nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn't." I think that is absolutely true.

Towards the end, the daughter Lulu does exactly what you say. She refuses to play the violin anymore. She plays tennis, much to mom's chagrin. But mom has learned something, and decides to support her. She tries to coach her with the tennis instead, and daughter says, "Back off! Don't ruin this the way you ruined the violin!"

Read the book all the way through, even past the middle parts that may seem rather 'shocking' and uncomfortable.

Would love to know your cousin's thoughts, and yours!

Comment edited on: 3/9/2011 11:40:00 AM

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/9/2011 10:28AM

    You know, that's an interesting observation. Whenever my niece and her mother (my SIL) get into a fight, my brother acts as the mediator.

I haven't read this book yet, only the WSJ review and the subsequent flurry of comments. It's going to be in my pile of things to read once I find a used copy. You know how I hate paying full price. LOL !!!

Anyway, there are good points on both sides of the argument. On the one hand, I don't feel that today's parents (necessarily) take the same interest in their children's education that my parents took in mine. When I was young, back in the Dark Ages, I had to present my homework to have it checked and to make sure it was done. And like lots of other parents, regardless of ethnicity, I was pushed to get good grades. I don't think this is specifically an Asian trait. Back in the day, immigrant families ALL pushed their kids to do better. All parents had fits when their children brought home a lousy report card.

The problem as I see it is that today, we don't have that same drive to do better than our parents. My parents drove that into me i.e. do better than we did. What happened to that ? I don't know, but somewhere we lost our drive to do better than the generation before us.

I think what bothers me about the Tiger Mother is the way she drives her children to do better by way of berating them, depriving them of food, forcing them to practice for long hours at the piano or violin, yelling at them, etc... in short, she's using punishment to push them to succeed and that's no good. That's a negative reinforcement instead of a positive one.

A parent should encourage their children to love to read, to love to play the piano and to love learning. I really wonder if her two daughters will be playing the piano later in life OR if when they hit 18, they give it up entirely. They aren't playing the violin or piano because it was something they wanted. It was something SHE wanted. She wanted perfect little Stepford children. She wanted bragging rights i.e. my child played at Carnegie Hall !

You know, as wonderful a degree from Yale or Harvard or Standford is, it's no guarantee of success in the future. Push your kids, but don't push them over the edge.

I'm still waiting to hear what one of my cousins says. She's reading this too. this may have to go closer to the top of my pile of things to read.

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VHALKYRIE 3/9/2011 10:19AM

    I should add the caveat there are sections where the woman DOES sound like a certified loon! I cracked up on the chapter where she and her husband got into a fight because he wasn't pushing Coco the dog succeed!

Excerpt: While he's always supported me in every way, he was worried that I was pushing too hard and that there was too much tension and no breathing space in the house. In return, I accused him of being selfish and thinking only of himself. "All you think about is writing your own books and your own future," I attacked. "What dreams do you have for Sophia, or Lulu? Do you ever even think about that? What are your dreams for Coco?"

A funny look came over Jed's face, and a second later he burst into laughter. He came over and kissed the top of my head. "Dreams for Coco - that's really funny, Amy," he said affectionately. "Don't worry. We'll work things out."

I didn't understand what was so funny, but I was glad our fight was over.

Comment edited on: 3/9/2011 10:23:13 AM

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ENKATRALALA 3/9/2011 9:38AM

    Thanks for the review. You have a very interesting perspective on this book, having grown up with both "western" and "eastern" parenting. I definitely want to read it and I think I'll look at the book differently after reading your review.

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PETUNIAPIG 3/9/2011 9:34AM

    Well said!! I completely agree!

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JMAYS831 3/9/2011 9:16AM

    hanks for sharing your point of view with us

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DDOORN 3/9/2011 9:11AM

    Thank you for sharing your stories...VERY impressed by how your relationship with your mother matured over time! Kudos to you both!

Usually when presented with polar opposites we can make a "stir" by claiming one extreme or the other is "the way" to proceed, however in reality we learn the value of integrating both positions into a sensible middle ground.


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