Week In Review – 26 Mar 2023

With the arrival of spring equinox this past Monday, weather in Washington DC is getting warm almost by the days. For those following the cherry blossom news this week is the peak period. Soon, the cold and dark winter that I loathed will be a distant memory.

So, one would guess that things are looking up for me? However, my acceptance of this transition has been reluctant.  Frankly, I am surprised by the rapid warm up here and confused by the snow in Los Angeles. What is the world coming to?

Besides the weather, a similar unpredictability looms over the economy. Both at home and around the world. Who would have thought the banks going under and the digital currency market crashing? Is this another bubble due to investors irrational exuberance?

While not understand a lot of these happenings, this much I do know. When the bubble bursts and the market crashes, it will not be pretty.  It is like watching China playing politics, I can only hope these people know what they are doing. Because we are all connected.

Stay safe & have a nice week

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Is It Irrational Exuberance Or Janet Yellen?

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The banking crises is spreading not only in the US but also the overseas.  What is creating doubt with the financial institutions and spooking the market?

A term coined by Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, is “irrational exuberance.” Which describes the investors’ enthusiasm and optimism are so buoyant that a bubble is created in the market that is out of sync with the fundamentals. And invariably, the bubble will burst and the  crashes.

Whether the irrational exuberance or fear, no one wants the market to crash. The housing bubble (2007) and the global financial crisis (2008) were the two classic examples. And it’s the Federal Reserve’s job to raise the interest rate, put a brake on the overheated market and avoid a crash, fingers crossed. 

Then comes Janet Yellen, current US Secretary of Treasury and former Federal Reserve Chair. Infinitely qualified on the subject matter than I. However, this week Yellen gave some confusing statements on the banking turmoil that sent the stock market into overdrive.

Maybe people are being irrational and reading too much into Secretary Yellen’s messages. But one thing is clear that neither helps to put out the fire.

Do you think a recession or something worse is around the corner?

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On Acceptance

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Part of growing up is our acceptance of life.

Early on, we learnt that the world does not evolve around  us, and we don’t always get we want. Acceptance of things, regardless we like them or not, is a given.  Things like our names, languages, places of birth, schools and other similar arrangements meant we had little control. 

As we become clearer on what’s important, so does the separation between our willing  acceptance and rejection. In a way, those are the easy parts. What in-between the two are the life’s proving ground. Where we get our scars, bruises, and bumps. 

To wit, we accept a job so to pay our bills, an education so to find a job, and listening to our parents/ superiors so to keep them from getting upset with us. And those acceptance do not always come easily, particularly on things we hold dearly.

Take emotional pains for example. Accepting them are hard choices we swallow. That’s why after the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, comes the acceptance as the final stage of grief after a loss. The process itself has meanings.

So don’t be surprised when you find yourself again at the crossroad in this journey. Life has been called the school of hard-knocks. And acceptance is our way of coming to term with the life itself.

In acceptance, what is the hardest part for you?


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Getting Warm In DC

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The temperature shot up to 82 degree (Fahrenheit) in Washington DC today. Thirty degrees above Monday’s (spring equinox). While a welcoming warm up, what follows this rise in temperature is the pollen count. After all the plants and animals have been waiting for the spring. Now it’s here, why hold back?

Conveniently for me, I’m keeping my mask on for the Covid and, a bonus benefit, the pollen at bay. Each spring, I go through this ritual of preparing for the spring allergy season. And this year is no exception. Except, wearing my mask feels pretty normal by now.

Also heating up are the Capital Hill hearings: Among others, the Tik Tok CEO faced a grueling reception on the hill with a hearing lasted more than five hours. Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary continued to answer lawmakers’ questions on the banking failures. Not to mention the House GOP’s effort to foil the Trump indictments.

Stay tune. The spring has only just began.

What do you look forward to in spring?


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China Playing Politics


After three days of pomp and circumstance, China’s president Xi, Jinping wrapped his State visit today with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Timing for Xi’s visit was extraordinary and explicit –   “strategic choice made by China based on its own fundamental interests” (NPR).

Political cloud – China wants to be viewed as a major player on the world stage. With the US and its allies behind the Ukraine in a deadlock with the Russia, China with its twelve point peace plan appears a peace maker and above the fray.

Ideological alliance – China is seizing the Ukraine war as the opportunity to push back against the US and the West in establishing “a new world order.” In other words, here is a consolidated platform for any anti-US countries to rally around without getting their fingers dirty.

Trade advantage – China is exacting more raw resources from Russia at bargain prices thanks to the Western sanctions. In return, Xi offers no weapons nor military aids other than the peace plan. Putin has little choice but “mortgaged the Kremlin to Beijing.”

In short, the strategic choice based on China’s interests is at play. Given there is no cost to China but everything to gain, what’s not to like about the deal (advantage China)? The question is how should the US respond in this international political chess?

What do you think is the next move?

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Sound Of Spring, Part 2

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Maybe it was my imagination, I heard the birds chirping outside of my window while meditating this morning. Yes, the Spring equinox was yesterday (20 Mar 2023). And I have this tendency for self fulfilling prophecy like feeling the car rides better after filling the air in the tires.

Then, I heard it again later. This time, it was in the afternoon. And the sound was child playing outside. To make sure I was not daydreaming, I looked out the window, and sure enough my neighbor and her son was outside drawing hopscotch on their driveway. Taking advantage of this warmer temperature we’re having.

Am I prepared for spring? Did I miss saying goodbye to winter?  As if someone flipped a switch, everything changed over night. Cautiously, I cracked open my window to let the air in. But to be sure, I will not put away my heavy coat just yet. That is until I forget about the frigid winter.

Are you ready for Spring (or Autumn)?

Part 1, here

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Our Spiritual Connection

Photo by Clint Adair on Unsplash

In my meditation of late, I have been searching for spiritual direction, or “purpose” in everyday parlance. Are we here by chance? What is achievable in our limited lifetime? And why bother? So on and so forth.

Touchy-feely as that may sound, I did come across the talk by Tom Chi on “Everything is connect, here is how” that offered a concrete explanation and shed some light to my questions. According to Chi, we are connected, not by chance, but by evolution [my words].

Each of us holds a colorful pallet that Chi calls “the pallet of being.” We inherit social capital and add to it alone the way. Inventions such as wheel, automobile, computer, and other tools illustrate our progress. And who knows what imagination will take us.

Because of this process, “the pallet of being” will be even more brilliant and colorful because what we bring into it. Bit by bit. One small piece at the time.  Holistically, what brings life and gives life through this connection is truly spiritual.

What’s your thoughts on that we’re all connected? 

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Week In Review – 19 Mar 2023

On our way to Spring, except this week was full of crises from flooding (due to atmospheric rivers), heatwave, bank failures. Even so, it  does not stop the March Madness from taking place.  I suppose life goes on, for now. Couldn’t help but conjure up my rambling thoughts.

For hundreds of thousands years, people have lived on this planet, have we been good stewards? Hmm . . . One thing certain is we’ve amassed amazing amount of social capital for ourselves. But the question is what have we given in return?

We all know that one-sided relationship never last. Are the crises signaling the trends to come? Time to escape the mother earth? Where will we or our future be? couldn’t help feeling a bit like the passengers on the Titanic.

Maybe I am alone on this thought experiment.  Should I just watch the March Madness and forget about the unpleasant news? What is the right thing to do? If you are confused as I am, the topic on mutual benefit may offer food for thought.

Stay safe & have a nice week

2023.03.20 update – U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives its grimmest warning on the immediate and present danger of fossil fuel burning.

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On Mutual Benefit

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In a nutshell, relationship exists because of mutual benefit.  Or  saying it another way, without mutual benefit no relationship will last. Common knowledge but not common practice. Why?

Challenge is each individual is unique. Benefit to one may not be so to others. It depends on the individual perspective. For instance, take the wonton soup – you may like the wonton, and I like the soup.  Mutual benefit arise from our sharing of the  soup. Getting to that end state takes work.

Important to note that, as illustrated in the above example, mutual benefit do not mean same or equal (as in  50/ 50) necessarily.  Assuming so trivialize the process and backfire on the end goal. Imaging if you and I both get half of the woton soup.

So key to reaching mutual benefit is to understand what other side desires and painstakingly work towards it.  A 70/ 30 or some other outcomes could be beneficial depending on the participants and how the agreement is reached.

We have migrants  who want to come into the country for a shot at the opportunity for a better life.  Instead of thinking they will take our jobs away, consume our foods, or steal our goods, why not give them the opportunity while supplement the labor shortage we have?  Couldn’t there be a mutual benefit?

How about other “polarized” issues such as race, gender, and other social problems we face in America? If we sincerely want sustainable solutions to these problems, the goal of mutual benefit should keep both sides at the negotiation table.

Do you believe in that mutual benefit can work?

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Social Capital Lost

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Often I hear retirees say that they don’t miss the work, but they missed the people. A statement I would support.

Social capital is a term I came across lately.  It is “the aspects of our relationships that produce benefits for us” (Forbes). Whether in formal meetings, bumping into someone in the hallway, or informal coffee room talks, the synergistic benefits we gained can not be overstated.

Unfortunately, when the Covid-19 pandemic sent and kept people working from home, social capital took a big hit (HBR).  Whether people know it or not. Arguably, advancement of telecommunication technologies such as Zoom and Net meeting contributed to the decline of the social capital as well. 

Supporters of the working from home favor the freedom and flexibility from the new arrangement. Good for them. But what the retirees and I missed are the shared experiences,  mutual respect, and genuine care for each other while working in person. Because we have lost our social capital.

Do you miss the social capital from working in person?

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