26 Nov 2009


Don’t mistake me. When I said I changed my view last week, I meant whether Boss would be a merry VC, not my view on administrators. For the latter point, I still fully support Fuller Albright, who provided practical tips for clinical investigators:

"The first time you are asked to serve on a committee, be anything but efficient."
"Never make the mistake of proposing some new reform."
"The desk of the good executive should be clear; that of an investigator should be littered."

Following this line, I am glad that my academic career had a wonderful start.

After joining the Department, my first task was to pick up external examiners with VM. While we were waiting at the parking area, the neurologist mentioned that he never succeeded in receiving the examiners. Somehow they always arrived at a different spot.

Luck seemed to be on our side. When I was about to suggest splitting up to wait at another spot, a mini-bus arrived. Five smart and powerful figures came out. We greeted them, said it must be tough serving at the College examination, and brought them to our conference room. I smiled at VM. It was a piece of cake, wasn’t it?

After we had gone up to the ninth floor, one examiner spoke up, "The examination took place at the out-patient clinic yesterday." I was puzzled. "But this is the first day of the examination here. Do you mean the clinic of the other hospital?" "No, the surgical clinic was on the second floor, right?" he said. At this point, we finally realized that we picked up the surgical examiners.

I can still remember the loud squeak that VM made.

19 Nov 2009


I learned about the nomination of our Boss several weeks ago. My first reaction was “Would he be happy?”

I have no doubt that Boss will be a good VC. But whether he can be a happy VC is another question. Under Szeto’s influence, I could not see any fun administrating others. Moreover, the academic world will soon face the loss of a brilliant researcher. At the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1944, Fuller Albright, President of the Society, laid the rules for clinical investigators. One important rule was “Do not show too much administrative ability”. [J Clin Invest 1944;23:921-52]

A recent incident changed my view.

As a VC candidate, Boss attended meetings to answer questions from different parties. At one session, a group of undergraduate students gave him a present to ridicule the current VC and asked him to open it. Fearless, he declared, “Even if you disagree with the VC’s policies and opinions, as educated persons, we should respect others. I will not open this present.” The audience applauded.

Important values are never taught in classrooms. Boss has demonstrated how a teacher may make bigger impacts by setting up role models. We wish you happiness at the job.

12 Nov 2009


I have a dream. I always have a mental picture of me performing with Angelina. Franck’s Violin Sonata or the Spring Sonata by Beethoven would be my cup of tea. I did not expect the day came so soon.

Last Saturday, my girl sang in a kindergarten competition. We thought that was a good thing. She had to learn the importance of practice and the experience of facing an audience. To support her, I volunteered to play electric piano.

Of course, it could not be Schubert’s Lieder. We chose “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” instead.

At the competition, Angelina started twice but was interrupted by the adjudicators because they had not finished writing comments on the last contestant. She complained that the audience laughed at her, but I reassured her that we would just wait. Luckily, her performance was little affected. She sang beautifully.

P.S. As we were looking for the competition venue, my girl asked, “Have we got lost?” This is a trivial thing, but pretty much reflects what kind of impression I have made in her early years.

5 Nov 2009


After I stepped down from stage, the audience congratulated me on my Putonghua.

That was funny. I was almost the only speaker not using Putonghua as the mother tongue. You know what it means. No one has ever praised my Cantonese before. It is like watching a toddler throw a basketball. You say “good boy”, but actually mean it is kind of cute.

Putonghua is getting more and more important. I would keep practicing. Indeed, a taxi driver in Beijing asked if I came from Guangzhou. My Putonghua improved by 174 km to the north!

At least I did not suffer from serious misunderstanding.

A decade ago, YT participated in a project in northern China. This is his conversation in a restaurant:

Waiter: Do you want something to drink?

YT: White wine, please (喝白酒). (He meant beer - 喝啤酒.)

Soon the waiter returned with a big bottle of colorless liquid that could support combustion.

Waiter: How much do you want?

YT (waving his hand ferociously): Eight taels (喝八兩). (Though he meant he could not drink that - 喝不了.)

The rest is history.