Happy
Birthday,
My Love

Back Again

Life is back to normal again. My wife and I made peace—and love. I am tuning out on all the negativity around me and focusing on my kids’ activity. I still have lots of improvements to do, especially in the socializing department. If I can’t hide it, I might as well face it. I promised myself not to get into any more controversies. I kept reminding myself to stay out of people’s business even if they are in my environment.

I just need to get back to do things I enjoy the most. Spending time with my kids helps me letting go of the baggage. Reading helps me staying sharp. Writing journal helps me relieving my stress, but I have to be mindful of what I write now that I know some of the people reading my blog. As long as I think carefully before I hit the publish button, I think I will be safe. It puts a restraint on me, but now I am learning to be more generic in my writing than being specific. As long as I am not directing my subject at anyone, I think I can still write what I want to write.

I still have annoyances on my mind, but I can’t make them go away unless I decided to cut off all my ties. Part of life is putting up with shit you don’t like. I have learned to ignore them rather than to make a big fuss about them. If I can’t learn to adapt to them or to deal with them, I am just going to make myself miserable. Either way I am fucked.

Erin Lee Carr: All That You Leave Behind

In her debut memoir, Erin Lee Carr writes about her relationship with her father, David, who was a renowned journalist at The New Times. David was a lovely father who raised his twin daughters on his own until he got remarried. Though he had his flaws and dark moments, David always made time for his daughters and gave them advice when they needed him. Like her father, Erin struggled with alcohol and it got worse after his death. It’s a concise, bittersweet, and honest read.

Visualgui 2020 Iteration 1: Fine-tuning

Visualgui 2020 is not a new departure, but more of a fine-tuning from Visualgui 2019 Iteration 6. I am still obsessed with the book-reading experience with just one-column text on muted background color.

The biggest change is the typeface. The main text is now set in Fragen, by Lucas Descroix. I really love this new slab text face. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work with Descroix on Fragen’s Vietnamese diacritics. I am mot using a sans-serif complementary in this version.

I am also bringing back the huge display text on the homepage. Currently I am using Roslindale Ultra by DJR. It’s pretty much it.

Politically Free

As I was waiting for my sons to do their Cub Scouts activities, one of their leaders came up to me and asked what I was reading. I closed the book and showed him the cover of Pete Buttigieg’s Shortest Way Home. He showed no reaction; therefore, I asked him if he knew Pete Buttigieg. To my surprise, he didn’t.

I gave him a brief background of Buttigieg and told him that he’s the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. He didn’t seem to care; therefore, I wanted to find out a bit more about him. I knew he is Vietnamese-American and he was born in the United States. He told me that he is in his second year at NOVA community college. I asked him if he liked to read and his answer was not if he had to.

I was not making any judgment. In fact, I thought it is good for him not to get all caught up in politics. I wish I could zone out just like him. Following politics only stresses you out. You can’t make a difference. Most politicians, Republicans in particular, have been bought out by big money. They don’t give a fuck about this country. They only look out for their own interests as well as the big donors’ agenda. For the most part, money still rules this country. The more you know about politics, the more corruption you will see.

Niềm vui nhỏ

Chiều thứ sáu sau khi ra sở tôi lái xe đến chỗ Đạo và Đán tập múa lân và họp nhóm hướng đạo. Đến 8:30 tối thì có lớp dạy tiếng Việt. Thầy giáo dạy tiếng Việt có ba đứa con. Nghe đồn là ba người mẹ khác nhau nhưng tôi không rõ. Chỉ biết là mẹ thằng út bị tâm thần và khi hai người chia tay tòa án không cho thằng nhỏ theo mẹ mà phải theo ba. Là ba nó cho biết thế.

Mỗi chiều thứ sáu ông cha tay dắt tay bồng ba đứa con đi hướng đạo. Chẳng những thế còn xung phong dạy tiếng Việt cho đám nhỏ. Nói mấy tháng nay rồi mà thứ sáu hôm qua mới bắt đầu. Dĩ nhiên làm thầy mà thằng con ôm chặt làm sau dạy. Cả đám mẹ ngồi trong lớp vậy mà ổng quăng thằng nhỏ cho tôi.

Thôi thì cũng đành nhận vậy. Tôi cho nó ra khỏi lớp rồi dụ dỗ nó đi vòng trường nhìn những tranh vẽ của học sinh. Nó lớn hơn thằng Vương chắc bốn hoặc năm tháng. Thằng nhỏ rất dễ thương nó cứ dắt tay tôi đi tìm ba nó mà càng đi thì càng xa. Nửa tiếng đồng hồ tôi và nó cứ đi vòng trường. Không ngờ đó là những giây phút thật nhẹ nhàng. Tôi bế nó lên và hôn lên má nó làm tôi nhớ đến thằng Vương của tôi.

Và trong thời gian đó cho tôi cảm giác được là tôi không thể sống xa con. Tụi nó là sự tồn tại của chính tôi. Tôi may mắn và hạnh phúc khi được sống bên cạnh chúng nó. Nhất là thằng Vương bây giờ đang trong lúc rất dễ thương và tương đối dễ chịu.

Pete Buttigieg: Shortest Way Home

Buttigieg’s life exemplifies the America’s middle-class family. He grew up Christian, went to Harvard, served in the military, and became a politician to make a change for our country. He ran for offices in his hometown South Bend and became the mayor. Buttigieg is a good writer, but the pace is a bit slow. The memoir covers both his political career as well as his personal romance. The story of how he met Chasten is sweet and charming. If Buttigieg becomes president in 2020, he will be great for America. I trust his character and decency over the puppet occupying the White House right now.

Private or Public?

In the past few days, I am contemplating on the future of this blog. With the recent incident, I am not sure if this is still a good space to pour out my heart and soul. Contrary to my belief that not too many family and friends read this blog, I have found out the hard way.

Last year, I got rid of Google Analytics to meet the GDPR compliance; therefore, I had no idea who visits this site. When I logged into my Cloudflare account, I found out some stunning numbers. This blog receives 1,337 unique visitors in 24 hours. That’s 1,330 more than what I had expected for a day. It has 231,884 requests through Cloudflare a month.

Since most family members and friends interact with me through Facebook, I didn’t realize that they would venture into this space. I was dead wrong. Now what I write can come back and bite me very quick.

When I started this blog, I wrote mostly music reviews, books I read, and films I watched. As years went by, I wrote mostly about my personal stuff. It became a place for me to work out my emotions. It feels good getting all my issues down the page and knowing some strangers somewhere in the world would read them. I didn’t know it would hit close to home.

I have been blogging for 16 years; therefore, I still value this blog. I had written more negative thoughts than positive ones because those were my feelings. I don’t think my feelings are more important than anyone else. If that’s is the case, I tell them to their face than writing them down here.

I am not going to abandon this blog because I made a few mistakes here and there. This is where it all began. I am where I am today because of it. In the early days, it was both my personal space and professional career. I also met my wife through here. It means everything to me.

Having said that, I am thinking of making it private and offering memberships to only people who really want to read what I have to write. I will be more personal, but I probably won’t get into much trouble. Then part of my don’t like to have a closed website. I like the web to be opened. Yes, this is something I am still pondering upon. I just want to put out my thoughts.

Designing a Diacritic System

Thy Hà, a graphic and digital designer living in Melbourne, is working on her final research project titled Up? Down? Left? Right? for the Master of Communication Design at RMIT University. Her topic is about designing a diacritic system for the Vietnamese language. She shares the project on her website. I am happy to see more Vietnamese designers delving into Vietnamese diacritics. I also glad that her project is a response to my Vietnamese Typography. I would love to see the final product once she is completed.

Moment of Clarity

Today is my mother-in-law’s birthday. The kids signed the card and presented to her. Đán and Xuân bickered over the card. Out of madness, Xuân ripped the card. My wife was furious. She chewed him out. He ran toward me crying. I calmly explained to him, “You shouldn’t have done that. That was not nice. You need to control yourself.”

He seemed to acknowledge his action, but my wife continued to scream. He cried louder. I tried to console him, “It’s OK. Everyone makes mistakes.” Before I could go on telling him it is important to recognized his mistake, but my wife yelled at me, “It is not OK. You can’t hurt someone and just say it is OK.” She channeled her anger toward me.

Yes, I did make a mistake and I did own up to it. I apologized and made an amend to right the wrong. Apparently my remorse was not enough. I wanted to move on, but she couldn’t let it go. I was responsible for what I had said, but the words were not all mine.

Vũ Anh Tuấn & Đồng Lan: Ảo ảnh

Sự kết hợp giữa saxophonist Vũ Anh Tuấn và ca sĩ Đồng Lan đem đến những giai điệu jazz êm dịu và mới lạ cho những ca khúc trữ tình Việt Nam. “Phố đêm” là thành công nhất trong album. Đồng Lan hát khác hẳn với cách sến sặc chúng ta thường được nghe qua ca khúc này. Cô sửa lại giai điệu một chút cho thích hợp với nhạc jazz Latin. Cách solo của Vũ Anh Tuấn tuy ngắn nhưng đậm đà. “Xuân này con không về” tuy không thay đổi nhiều như nghe cũng rất thấm thía. “Khi người yêu tôi không” được swing nhẹ nhàng khá phê nhất là lúc solo của tay dương cầm. Phải chi cả album đi theo hướng này hay biết mấy. Đáng tiếc những bài nước ngoài làm loãng đi không khí Việt jazz. Vũ Anh Tuấn chỉ nên đảm nhiệm phần hòa âm và chơi sax. Phần ca thì nên để Đồng Lan thực hiện. Anh ca thiếu tự tin và phát âm tiếng Anh chưa chuẩn. Hơi uổng cho album này.