Vĩnh biệt Ba

Sáng nay ba thanh thản ra đi xung quanh gia đình và người thân. Tuy tôi không thể về gặp mặt ba lần chót nhưng cũng thấy được ba qua video khi ba trút hơi thở cuối cùng trước khi lìa trần. Khi hay tin ba bị ung thư tuyến tụy ở giai đoạn cuối vài tháng trước, tôi muốn về thăm ba ngay nhưng thời buổi đại dịch COVID chính phủ Việt Nam không cho vào. Tôi vẫn nuôi hy vọng là ba sẽ chóng chọi đến lúc Việt Nam mở cửa lại. Nhưng mỗi lần thấy ba đau đớn qua video, tôi bùi ngùi lắm. Thôi thì ba ra đi như vậy cũng nhẹ nhàng và đỡ đau thể xác.

Ba đã hưởng thọ hơn 80 năm cuộc đời. Con người trước sau gì cũng phải lìa xa cõi tạm trần gian. Tôi cầu mong cho hương hồn của ba được trở về cõi vĩnh hằng. Từ nhỏ, tôi đã xa ba. Người ở lại Việt Nam còn người sang Mỹ, ba và tôi đã sống giữa hai thế giới xa cách và khác biệt nhau. Bốn mươi mấy năm qua hình bóng của ba vẫn luôn trong ký ức, đầu óc, và con tim của tôi. Suốt cuộc đời còn lại của tôi vẫn thế. Ba sẽ luôn giữ một vị trí riêng trong tôi.

Tôi thành thật cám ơn đại gia đình đã lo lắng cho ba chu đáo cho đến cuối đời. Tôi thì chưa làm được gì cho ba nhưng anh chị sống gần ba đã thay thế cho tôi. Tình thương của anh chị dành cho ba khiến tôi kính nể và cảm kích. Anh chị đã làm tròn bổn phận của những đứa con hiếu thảo. Ba ra đi cũng vui và an tâm biết được các con của ông vẫn đùm bọc và tương tác lẫn nhau. Tình anh chị em như thế quý lắm. Tuy tôi không sống gần anh chị nhưng tôi rất hãnh diện và hạnh phúc được cùng chung một dòng máu. Chúng con cầu xin cho ba được nghỉ ngơi trong thanh bình.

Sally Rooney: Normal People

Sally Rooney’s coming-of-age novel explores the complexities of love, sex, heartbreak, class, and abuse. Marianne and Connell went to the same high school. They hardly spoke to each other in public. In private, however, they had unspoken intimacy. Marianne was confident in her own skin. Connell was popular, but had his insecurities. Despite their differences, they appreciated each other’s company. Their relationship went through different stages as they navigated life. Rooney’s writing is simple, poignant, and seductive. Even without the use of quotation marks around dialogues, the flow is never interrupted. It’s a damn guilty-pleasure read.

Nhóm Nhật Nguyệt

Sau khi biết được kết quả ai thắng ai thua trong cuộc bầu cử tổng thống năm 2020, tôi đã không còn hứng thú theo dõi chính trị nữa. Ngoài giờ làm việc, tôi đọc sách hoặc đưa mấy đứa nhỏ đi trượt băng. Cuộc sống nhẹ nhàng và giảm căng thẳng đi nhiều. Tôi yêu đời đến nỗi nghe nhạc sến cũng thấy tươi vui. Thú thật thì tôi không nghe nhạc sến mà là xem nhạc sến nhất là những bài được trình diễn sôi động, trẻ trung, và quá sexy của nhóm Nhật Nguyệt gồm có thành viên Minh Thảo, Ngọc Thuý và Mina Nguyễn.

Về giọng hát thì cả ba không ai nổi trội hơn ai. Đó cũng là cái lợi của nhóm vì họ tương tác cho nhau để đối phó với những con beat dồn dập. Nếu không để ý kỹ càng thì không thể biết ai hát câu nào. Tôi cũng chẳng thèm chú ý làm gì. Những bài nhạc trữ tình không có gì xa lạ. Những bài remix thì cùng lắm chỉ xoá đi những chất sến trong lời nhạc. Dĩ nhiên khi tìm xem nhóm Nhật Nguyệt thì tôi đâu muốn tìm đến những cảm giác bi đát.

Ngược lại với chất giọng của họ, mỗi người mỗi nét. Minh Thảo có cá tính. Ngọc Thuý thì nhu mì. Còn Mina Nguyễn thì khêu gợi. Chiêm ngưỡng họ lắc lư qua những bộ trang phục lộng lẫy đầy gợi cảm đủ sướng rồi. Chỉ cần mở YouTube lên, đánh vào “nhóm Nhật Nguyệt” và mở volume lên max là bao nhiêu phiền muộn cũng sẽ tan theo ba nàng tiên giáng trần này. Thêm rượu hay cần sa là lên chín tầng mây luôn. Đừng tin lời tôi viết mà hãy xem bộ collection mới nhất này nhé. Chúc các bạn một ngày trong tuần vui vẻ.

Visualgui 2020 Iteration 7: Roslindale

For the seventh iteration of my blog, I reset the typeface using the demo variable font of Roslindale, designed by David Jonathan Ross. Although this version of Roslindale is still a work-in-progress, David would send it to any member of his Font of the Month Club to try out. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity to test it out.

For big headlines, I wanted the ultra style to grab readers’ attention. For smaller headings, I used the bold display style. On mobile devices, body text set in text regular and text italic at 100% (16px). For large screens, I wanted to increase the size to 125% (20px). At this size, the text weights looked clunky and bulky; therefore, I changed to deck narrow regular and deck narrow italic. The deck style reveals less details at larger size. As a result, I am using six different fonts, but only needed one file. That’s the power of the variable font technology.

For code samples, I needed a mono font, but I hardly write about coding. It would be a waste if I had to include a font in my CSS, but would not using it much; therefore, I used Input Mono, also by DJR, for small details such as category, date, and pagination.

Lesson for Đạo

After taking a bath and brushing his teeth last night, Xuân asked me if he could play video games. I granted him permission, which was somehow automatically applied to his brothers. As they turned on their devices, I told Đạo and Đán to brush their teeth first before they could play. While Đán ran into the bathroom to get it done and over with, Đạo immediately released his frustration and protested, “You gotta be kidding me.” He did this every single time I asked him to do something and I had enough of it last night. I revoked his permission.

He threw a tantrum and said, “I hate you.” His sharp word was like a knife stabbing through my heart, but I stayed calm and quiet. I went into my bedroom to read. He brushed his teeth, stumped into my room, and dragged his blanket and pillows to his mom’s room. He came back and asked if he could play. I stayed firm and said no. He got more upset and accused me of singled him out and that no one loved him. I had to point out to him that if I didn’t love him or didn’t care about him, I wouldn’t have asked him to brush his teeth. There was no benefit for me to ask him to do it. My teeth wouldn’t get any cleaner or shinier if he brushed his teeth. He covered his ears and didn’t want to hear my explanation.

He said that I just wanted to make him unhappy. I asked him, “As a parent, what can I do to make him happy? Would allowing unlimited time for playing video games make you happy?” I explained to him the danger of addiction. The way he behaved when he was not allowed to play showed a sign of addiction. The fact that he hated me for not letting him play was a sign of addiction. Somehow explaining to him how game makers used psychology to get the players hooked got through to him.

He went downstairs to make me an ice cold cup of water because of all the talking I did. He brought back his blanket and pillows. He wrapped himself in a blanket, but reached out his hand to grab mine. We held each other’s hand and fell asleep. This kid can break my heart one minute and just heal it the next. I have nothing but love for him even when the love is tough.

Rebirth of the Soul

At the most critical moment of our time, the people of this great nation have risen up, shown up, and made our voice heard. America has chosen democracy over demagoguery, unity over divisiveness, decency over insults, facts over lies, and science over fiction.

President-Elect Joe Biden and the first woman Black-Indian-American Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, we are holding you to your promises. We need your strong leadership to restore the integrity of the executive branch, to put the pandemic under control, and to strengthen our commitment to justice for all.

From climate to China, economy to education, healthcare to healing, the Biden administration will face tough challenges ahead. Then again, the job of the president and vice president of the United States are not supposed to be easy. Critical issues cannot be resolved over Twitter. Biden and Harris will need a strong coalition to lead this country out of the damages created in the past four years. They will need people with not only qualifications in their fields but also compassion in their hearts.

This election has demonstrated that our democracy is still strong and resilient. Totalitarian, fascism, and dictatorship have no place in this free nation. The United States is still one of the greatest countries in the world. We need to come together to heal our wounds, revive our souls, and lift up our spirits. There are no red states and blue states. There’s only the United States of America.

Break out the champagne glasses, it’s time to celebrate “America the Beautiful.”

Warning of the Next Competent Authoritarian

Zeynep Tufekci writes in the Atlantic:

At the moment, the Democratic Party risks celebrating Trump’s loss and moving on—an acute danger, especially because many of its constituencies, the ones that drove Trump’s loss, are understandably tired. A political nap for a few years probably looks appealing to many who opposed Trump, but the real message of this election is not that Trump lost and Democrats triumphed. It’s that a weak and untalented politician lost, while the rest of his party has completely entrenched its power over every other branch of government: the perfect setup for a talented right-wing populist to sweep into office in 2024. And make no mistake: They’re all thinking about it.

Yes, indeed!

From President to Prisoner

Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker on “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose”:

Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses to Joe Biden.

The future of Trump will be dark and devastating.

Dear Mama

My own mama says I’m thugged out. Wait, that was what 2pac’s mama said. My own mama told me to tone down my English on Facebook. People are telling her that I am being too vocal. She’s worried about my safety.

I am actually not being vocal on Facebook. I write for my website first. I just reshare them on Facebook. Sure, I sprinkle a bit of profanities here and there, but they are just part of my style. I am not spilling out any hateful rhetoric. I am not the one who declares Civil War if Biden loses. I am all for empathy, compassion, and unity. Still, I apologized for making my mama worried.

She asked me if I voted yet. I told her I voted a month ago. I asked her if she voted and she said no. She asked me who I voted for and I told her Biden. She said China has bribed Biden and I should have voted for the other guy. At this point, I was just speechless. All of my conversations with her about him all these years meant nothing to her.

If she wanted to vote for him based on her own choice, I would respect her decision. She told me I should have voted for him based on what other people were telling her. She chose to believe other people over her own son. That has always been the case all my life. She loves me unconditionally, but she never places her confidence in me. It didn’t matter what her own son said to her. She would take anyone else’s words over mine. I am not mad at her. In her heart and mind, I am still her little boy and her first instinct is to protect me. I get that; therefore, I still love her no matter what. Her heart is in the right place even though her mind will never change.

For better or for worse, I can’t wait for this to be all over. I have some serious relationships to reconnect. I really miss drinking with my mom. I used to cajole her into sharing an Olde E and chicken wings with me. I swear—the fried chicken wings from Queen’s Six Pack must have been marinated with crack. They are so damn addictive. I have to get a fix every time I go back to Lancaster. I miss those snow days when she made bánh xèo (crispy Vietnamese crepes) and I made cognac and coke. We drank slowly and ate bánh xèo until we were drunk and bloated. I miss the good olde days, mama. I love you, mama, and I will never let anyone come between us—definitely not that orange motherfucker. Sorry mama, I have to cuss.

Our Last Hope

This is it, America. Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In this election, our values, our characters, and our lives are on the ballot.

America has been through so much in the last four years. Our principles, prides, and practices have been desecrated. From caste to class to community, we are further divided than ever. America is losing its soul. Four more years of division, dishonesty, and disillusion will put our nation in danger to the point of no return. The worst has yet to come.

I hope the outcome of this election will heal our country, strengthen our democracy, restore our decency, and save our lives. We need to bring back empathy, integrity, and civility. After this election, I hope America will come together to seal our cracked nation. The scars will never go away, but we will be stronger together. So let’s skip the civil war. Instead of fighting among ourselves, let’s fight against COVID-19. Instead of tearing down each other, let’s rebuild respect. Instead of spilling out the hate, let’s show some love.

After this election, I hope family members will come back together and friends will come around. Politics isn’t worth losing relationships over. I hope I won’t have to rant about politics again, or at least until 2024.

Before I shut the fuck up, I just want to say, go vote if you haven’t. Vote your conscience. Vote like your life depends on it. I am optimist that America will pull through this time.

Peace, love, and unity.