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I cannot believe 2010 is passing by. It seems to be the longest year in my life!

I am sure 2010 will be remembered in the future as one of the most important turning points in my life.

First of all, my daughter, Yunji Zhang, was born in January 26. That’s a life-changing event without question! I became a father! The first three months were absolutely tough. With sleepless nights and little knowledge of baby care, my wife and I almost panicked facing this little helpless creature in our life. Fortunately, my parents in law and my parents took turns to help us out in raising the baby. It’s great to have them around! Things are getting better everyday as my baby grows. She is now 11 months old. Very sweet character. She smiles and waves to everybody close by. She can stand up and babble “mama” and “baba” now. Absolutely adorable!

I was promoted early this year to manage a small team of performance engineers, responsible for performance testing, monitoring and tuning for a range of HR/Payroll/Benefits/Time and Labor online applications. Again, it’s a big change in my career since I have always been in software development field. This new role broadened my view in the full lifecycle of an application. I am now working more closely with Infrastructure, Operation and Technical Support organizations and leaning more towards the operational side.

We bought a town house in August and moved in November. My wife and I became a first time house owner in United States. We had mixed feeling towards the new house. It’s definitely more comfortable than our old apartment but it also requires endless time and effort from us to maintain it. We were excited at the beginning but soon got used to it. After a long wait and many debates, we finally bought all our furniture from IKEA, against the conventional wisdom. We simply love IKEA’s contemporary style and its price! Still fixing everything up and making arrangements around the house. It seems taking forever.

And I went back to school! I was admitted by the New York University Stern School of Business and joined their Langone Part time MBA program in September. It gave my life a totally different dimension.  Although I only needed to go to school at Saturday, I almost have to spend all the weekday nights studying, doing homework, writing papers, preparing for exams! Study became a crucial element in my daily life. I enjoyed the courses and the learning and actually did pretty well for the for the first semester. It’s a great opportunity to step away from the familiar life and get into something new and exciting. My professors and classmates are fascinating. Everyone I encountered had a wonderful life story. However, the bad part is the study took away a lot of my time from my family. I felt guilty that I couldn’t spend enough time to help fixing the house and raising the baby. Life is a art of balancing. Hopefully, I can balance everything better next year.

Last but not least, my wife and I finally got our green cards, after 9 years of waiting. Now, we can travel freely between China and United States. It’s a great milestone to fulfill our dream of traveling around the world! By the way, my daughter is an American since she’s born in United States. How easy is that!

In Chinese culture, 2010 is the year of Tiger. It’s the year of my zodiac sign since I was born in a Tiger year too. In Chinese tradition, it’s deemed as a tough year in life. I definitely felt the toughness, with all the life-changes packed together in one year. I felt stretched than ever. I have been through many emotional up and downs, mixing extreme happiness and extreme sadness. Joy, horror, surprise, self-denial, satisfaction, all kinds of feelings poured together. What a unusual year!

If there is just one thing I learned from the swirl of changes this year, that will be “knowing oneself”. Life is full of twist and turns. It’s so easy to get lost in the strong winds blowing from all directions. Without established values and a clear understanding of the direction to go, we will just be swallowed by the forces surrounding us. What really make us happy? What do we really want to do? What are the thing we cherish most in our hearts? What are the identities we don’t want to lose?

At least, I am a little more clear about the answers for myself now, at the end of this year. For that, I thank the year 2010!

Happy new year, everybody! Let’s welcome a fresh new start of 2011!

TomJerry

Serving in an IT department of a non-IT company, I learned over the years one or two things about our business partners, who are our best friend and patrons, at the same time our ultimate source of headaches.

Bittersweet Partnership

After all, my job is to help them to be successful in their fields, in Sales, Marketing, Finance or Service. In a sense, IT department exists only because our business partners need us. And we need them too, to define the requirements and specs, to decide about the business logics, to promote the products we developed, to sponsor our projects, to give us feedbacks for improvements, etc. So, it’s truly a partnership.

However, we constantly fight with our business partners. They want too much from us within unrealistic short time. We insist on an absolutely necessary infrastructure change they don’t understand and consider too risky. We are furious that they keep changing their mind about the requirements in the last minute. They are bitter about the delay of the new release. This list can go on and on.

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Lighthouse

Happy New Year!

I guess a lot of people are very happy to see the year 2008 passed by, just like myself. What a dramatic year! First we witnessed the house value dropping and foreclosures in the neighborhood, then the crisis of the subprime mortgage. Soon, the bad news crawled all over the financial sector. Investment banks, insurance companies, commercial banks, even big names like Bear Stearns and Leman Brothers burned down into ashes overnight. The darkness, like cancer, continued to spread into other industries, such as automobile and even high-tech. The stock market crashed. The unemployment rate soared. The words we heard most in the past several months are “great depression” and “bail-out”, not what we usually heard even in a bear market.

And the worst part, it’s not over yet. Although debating among each other, the economists agreed the economy won’t recover until the later half of 2009. And that’s from the most optimistic point of view.

With all the negative news, it’s very easy to feel depressed or stressed out in this unpleasant time.

Kind of like feeling depressed in the winter in the northeastern United States (where I am living), chilly, heavy wind blow, cloudy sky, crooked tree branches and yellow grass, no sign of life.

But, wait! We still got Christmas in winter time! Even the darkest nights were lightened up by the holiday lights!

Where can we find hopes and opportunities in the depressing days like now? Here are four directions to look:

Read the rest of this entry »

Wish every one a healthy, peaceful and happy new year!

May all our dreams come true in the coming new year!

Snowman Greetings

A 7.9-magnitude earth quake attacked Wenchuan, Sichuan Province in southwest China at about 2:28 p.m. Monday (6:28 a.m. GMT), May 12. It’s just 200 kilometers (124 miles) from my home town, Chengdu, the biggest city in southwest China.

I was waked up a phone call from my father in law Monday morning at my home in New Jersey. He briefly told me about the earthquake. It was quite a shock. Fortunately, my parents came to U.S. to visit me several weeks ago and they are still stay with me here in New Jersey. But, I still have many relatives back home in Chengdu including my 96 years old grandfather. We became very concerned and started to make calls to my relatives in Chengdu. The first half a hour was extremely tough since the communication channel seemed to be broken. Eventually, the phone was connected. On the other end, came the familiar voice of my aunt. She told us every one was all right. It was quite a relief to us!

My 96 years old grandpa is okay. He felt the earth quake also. But obviously he was not scared. When my aunt hurried home to see him, he was quite calm and still said to my aunt in a smile, “I think we just had an earthquake”. When my aunt urged him to leave the house, he simply reply, “Everybody has his destiny. You cannot run away from your destiny. I will stay in my bed to face it”. That’s the typical spirit of a “Chengduese”, calm and optimistic.

Two of my aunts are working in the hospitals in Chengdu. They are now handling a huge volume of patients from the towns close to the center of earthquake.

My parents and I have been watching the news closely as well as making frequent calls to my relatives in Chengdu. We can watch CCTV4, the official TV channel from central Chinese government, at home here in New Jersey. Looks like my home town will be all right and there won’t be more big earthquake coming.

It’s very sad to watch all the students and kids buried under the debris. We prayed for the people who died in this tragedy. Hopefully, the rescue team can save as much lives as they can. Fortunately, I saw our Prime Minister Wen Jiabao went to Sichuan just 5 hours after the earthquake. It’s very touching to see him working at the front line leading the rescue efforts. With him there, I am pretty sure the best efforts will be made to rescue people and settle the survivors. It’s also touching to see the soldiers were marching by foot to reach the impacted towns since the roads were totally blocked from all directions. I am so proud to have such a leader and such a good army with us at this tragic moment.

Unfortunately, I cannot participated in the big movement of saving lives in my home province. The only thing I can do here is to donate some money to the China Red Cross Fund to support the people in need and pray for them.

All the best to people who suffered in this tragedy.

My best regards to the courageous people who risk their own lives in saving the survivors in this earthquake!

If you would also like to help, here are some donation channels specific for this tragedy:

Wish everybody a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year!

In Chinese Zodiac, this year is the Year of Rat. It’s the beginning of the 12 Zodiac. So, this year will be a good new start for all of us. Rat is a smart animal in Chinese culture. We believe the Year of Rat will bring wisdom and success to our life.

May all of you have a happy Year of Rat!

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