Replace Sliding Patio Screen Door

My spring-break staycation started with replacing the sliding patio screen door. The installation was quick and easy. I just followed this YouTube video.

Part

Grisham 36-in x 80-in Bronze Aluminum Frame Sliding Screen Door: $80

Vietnamese Typography Updates

In the last few weeks, I made some small updates to Vietnamese Typography. On the homepage, I added more random covers showcasing big, bold display typefaces with vibrant colors. I also added large display text throughout the pages to accommodate body text.

The significant update was the recommendation page. I decided to remove all open-source typefaces. When I first published this book, support for Vietnamese language was hard to find. Now the open-source community has stepped up its support for Vietnamese. Google Fonts now has a sizable collection of quality typefaces with Vietnamese. With the release of Fontshare from Indian Type Foundry, it seems like all of its typefaces support Vietnamese. I wish it had a language filter like Google Fonts.

Open-source typefaces are important and they are a great service to make graphic design and the web typographically better. Anyone can download and use them; therefore, I don’t need to recommend them. I would like to focus on typefaces from small foundries and independent type designers instead. A smaller selection also made it manageable for me. Looking at the current list, I need to showcase typefaces designed by Vietnamese type designers. That will be my goal moving forward.

If you’re a Vietnamese type designer and you have a complete typeface, particularly text face, I would love to showcase your work. It has to be commercial and not open source.

A New, Exciting Project Coming Next Week

Around this time last year, I designed an interactive webpage exposing the corruption inside 15 federal departments under Trump. That page led to a new project I am working on with talented artists and smart activists at the Mural Arts of Philadelphia. The new site will use creative illustration and thorough-researched information to reveal the hidden connections between COVID-19 and Climate Change. The site will launch next week. I am excited about it and can’t wait to share it with you. I hope you’ll read it, learn from it, and talk about it.

Watch this space.

Biden’s Success in Controlling the Pandemic

I haven’t written much about politics lately, but I am fed up with the ageism against President Biden and the mocking of his stuttering condition from Republicans and the Orange Idiot supporters.

Let’s take a look at what Biden had accomplished in less than 100 days into his tenure. He passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package, which included $1,400 stimulus checks, with no Republican support. His vaccine campaign is a huge success.

He made the commitment to deliver 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office. Not only he will meet that goal, but he has also doubled that number. Each day, 2.5 million Americans are vaccinated. More than 87 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Hating on Biden all you want, but he is cleaning up this crisis from the previous incompetent president. With substantial surges in new cases in Europe and Brazil, I can’t imagine what we would be facing right now if that clown were still in the White House. So let’s be thankful that Biden and his administration are putting the pandemic under control.

As more states are planning to make vaccines eligible to all adults by mid-April, I can’t wait to get my shot. It was so tempting to register as a smoker to get ahead, but I’ll wait for my turn.

Đạo and Đán Continue to Skate

Đạo and Đán took their ice skating tests on Tuesday. Đạo received perfect scores once again. He’s a careful skater who follows instructions and practices what he had learned. He performs the techniques with ease and he enjoys the lessons. He will be transitioning from Beta to Gamma next week.

Đán didn’t get perfect scores, but he did well. Unlike Đạo, Đán is an adventurous skater. He learns new techniques by doing them. He isn’t afraid to fall when trying out new tricks. He only does things he likes instead of paying attention to his instructor. He doesn’t seem to be interested in the techniques his instructor taught him. He can do them, but not with the finesse he invested in. He will be transitioning from Beta/Gamma to Gamma/Delta next week, but I am debating whether he should take private lessons instead of group lessons.

Xuân seems to enjoy his group lessons. He follows direction well. He is not as careful as Đạo, but he is also not as carefree as Đán. He will be good if he continues to take lessons.

I am reaching my limit at Gamma. I am struggling to do the techniques. I tried to practice today, but I was not in the mood. I ended up skating slowly and mindlessly. It was quite therapeutic, actually. I think I’ll bow out after this level. I am too old for jumping and spinning. I’ll get back to skating recreationally.

Bad Days at the Nail Salon

After the mass shootings at the massage parlors in Atlanta, I worry about the nail salons run by Vietnamese Americans. I have friends and family members work at the salons. I have also seen disturbing video clips of angry customers beating up the workers and destroying the properties. In her recent op-ed, Lý Trần recounts her bad days at the nail salon:

Like the time when, after a long day of work, a man brandishing a knife walked in, pushed my mother hard against the wall, the tip of the blade at her throat, and demanded that she empty her pockets, robbing her of the little money that she’d worked so hard to make. That was a bad day.

Or that time when a customer wrecked our salon, breaking nail-polish bottles, throwing chairs, and flinging acetone in our faces because she didn’t want to pay for the service she received. That was a bad day.

That time when, on the evening of the Fourth of July, after a long day of painting red, white, and blue nails for our customers, explosive fireworks were suddenly and violently thrown into our salon by a group of boys jeering racial slurs, our carpet catching on fire, and my mother and I scrambling to put it out. Since then, Independence Day, a day of supposed freedom, holds a different meaning for me. That was a bad day.

And those times when I had to stand by while a customer berated my mother, treated her like a subhuman servant instead of the kind and beautiful person that I know her to be. Those were bad days.

That time when, coming home from the salon, at the age of 13, I was sexually assaulted by a man who believed he was entitled to my body. That was a truly horrific day.

All the times we’ve been called racial epithets, denied our basic humanity, and feared for our lives in the presence of bigots.

The history of violence in these salons concerned me deeply. If we don’t #StopAsianHate, it is just a matter of time that some racist lunatics will shoot up the nail salons. Let’s be pro-active just in case someone has a bad day.

Ten Years at Scalia Law School

This October will mark my 10th year working at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School as Director of Design and Web Services. A decade in the web-industry timeline is eternity, but it still feels like yesterday when I took on this position.

In my first three months on the job, I single-handedly re-coded the entire website from scratch. I ripped out all of the HTML markups and CSS presentations and rebuilt everything from scratch. Our site was one of the first higher education websites that went responsive. In retrospect, I am glad I took that approach right from the get-go. In the past nine and a half years, our website has gone through many iterations instead of major redesigns. Because of the solid foundation I built from the beginning, our website stands the test of time.

In the last few weeks, we conducted a handful of user studies, in which we asked current students to share their experience using our website. We gave them a few tasks and asked them to do as we watched their browsers. They found our website easy to navigate and they could find what they needed. They provided us suggestions we can improve, but the feedback had been positive.

As CSS grid has become stable, I wanted to go back to replace complicated floats with grids, but the task seemed overwhelming. In the past five years, I have taken on new roles beyond the web, which included marketing designs and email newsletter. I could not dedicate my time to make the transition. Every time I looked at my SCSS file, I wanted to just throw it away and start from scratch. Unfortunately the site had grown so much in the last decade.

After our latest redesign under the new dean direction, I decided I need to tackle this issue. Now that I have a designer to help me with graphics and a developer to help me with day-to-day requests, I could focus on refactoring the CSS elements as well as cleaning up the HTML markups. Simply replacing float layouts with grid layouts make the CSS file much more cleaner and manageable. In addition to simplifying the CSS elements, I was able to get rid of tons of unused styles.

Although the work was entirely behind the hood, it made me feel great. I had accomplished something that I had wanted to do for quite a while. The overall visuals haven’t changed much, but the details have been hammered out. Because I have invested my time, energy, and effort into our website, I take great pride in my work and I treat it with tender, love, and care as if it is my own baby. I take the responsibility and the ownership of it. I expect my developer to do the same. I wanted him to put his care into it instead of just dashing off to complete the requests. Every piece of markup needs to be clean and no inline styles unless absolutely necessary.

I understand that we have to do things quickly, but doing so carelessly will come back and bite us in the long run. Our website has come a long way. The day of hosting it on a GoDaddy dedicated server is long gone. I am so glad that we had migrated to MODX Cloud with the help of the incredible MODX team. From the server side, our site is now fast, secured, stable, and in good hands. From the frontend side, the HTML markups and CSS presentations are streamlined. The design is still fresh and modern with exceptional typography.

If everything goes well, I will stay with the law school until my retirement. I only have about 20 odd years to go. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with the web industry in my 60s. That’s a scary thought. Then again, I have not kept up on the latest trend a decade ago. I am still doing fine thus far. I can’t see myself doing anything else besides web design and development, but I never know what the future will hold.

Every Website is a Gift

Robin Riddle writes:

So websites can be serious things; we can turn them into great wells for us to cast our anxieties into, or stress balls for us to relieve the pressure of our lives. But a website can also be a delicately wrapped bundle of words and colors, with the express purpose only to make someone you love smile.

I love Robin’s perspective on creating website as a gift for someone you love. Although I design websites for a living, I also enjoy crafting small pages for friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances. Let’s take a trip down to the memory lane to see what I had designed as gifts.

As far back as I can remember, I designed the very first website for La Salle University’s Multicultural and International Center, where I did my work study. It was a gift for Ms. Cherylyn L. Rush, my mentor and former supervisor. Ms. Rush is still holding down the spot 20 years after I graduated. I still remember the distinctive homepage, which was a collage of faces from different ethnicities. It was inspired by a poster Ms. Rush had on the wall in her office.

One of my favorite spots at La Salle was the art collection in the Art Museum even though I was clueless about art. As a design student, I knew if I could get this site on my portfolio I would have no problem getting clients and jobs. I approached the director and chief curator of the museum to let me redesign its boring website. I told her it would be my gift to the school. She was grateful to hand over the keys (FTP) to the server. I remember the site was color coded to showcase different rooms and collections.

When La Salle’s Digital Arts first launched, I wanted to get into the program even though I knew nothing about arts and digital. Without any design foundation, I dived right in. When most of my classmates were learning Photoshop and Illustrator, I took up Flash. The combination of animation, music, and graphics made Flash an ideal tool at the time. When DArt needed a website to promote its program, I was chosen to design it. It was a gift for the program that launched my career.

In the summer during my college years, I often visited the Upward Bound office at Millersville University. The program had a website, but it was outdated. I asked Ms. Doris Cross, the director of the program and my mentor, to allow me to redesign the site as a gift for the program that gave me the opportunity to pursue my career in design. I was into Flash at the time; therefore, I created a fun intro with music loops, text effects, and photos of kids in the program. When I showed it to Ms. Cross, she danced to it and called all of her staff members into her office to check it out. It was such a wonderful feeling to see my work made them smile.

One of my favorite websites I designed and still maintained is I Love Ngọc Lan. It was a gift to the fans of one of the beloved Vietnamese singers whose life got cut short by multiple sclerosis. Like many of her fans around the world, I loved Ngọc Lan’s angelic voice as well as her breathtaking beauty. Even though she had passed away 20 years ago, her music is still alive today.

A couple of years ago when Jim Van Meer, a dear friend and former classmate from the graduate graphic design program at George Mason, started his own agency, he tapped me to create the website for him. Thinkpoint Creative was a gift for him and a collaboration between us.

A few months ago, I designed and developed the Educational Partnerships for Success website for Ms. Joy Tiên who is my life-long mentor. Ms. Tiên and I go all the way back to the Upward Bound program. She has helped many immigrant kids like myself succeeded in our educational endeavor. This little gift is to show my appreciation for her compassionate work.

When I chose Vietnamese Typography as my thesis to earn a master of arts in graphic design, I wanted to make it freely available; therefore, I chose the platform I know best. I created this website as a gift to the type community so they can support my native language. I hope I had played a small role in the increasing support for Vietnamese in the type community.

I wrote Professional Web Typography as an independent study for my MA program in graphic design. I chose the web as publishing platform and as a gift to the web community.

For my personal projects, I created a webpage as a gift for my kids to celebrate the day they were born. It is also a place I can look up quickly when I need their birth dates to fill out forms. In opposite to celebrate life, I also created tribute websites to honor those loved ones I lost. I created a tribute site for my father-in-law when he passed away in 2012. He had stage-four lung cancer. I created a tribute page for my father when he passed last year. He had stage-four pancreatic cancer. A month later, I created a tribute site for my mother. She passed away after a brutal battle with COVID-19.

As Robin pointed out, websites can be made “to make someone you love smile.” I know my parents and father-in-law are smiling down on me from heaven.

Protect Ourselves

After reading about the rampage shootings that killed eight people including six Asian-American women, I was devastated. I needed to talk to someone and I knew the exact person to call. I reached out to my cousin who is a gun owner to seek his advice on how to get one for myself.

We talked for an hour. As he explained the laws and the mechanical details, I furiously took notes. From the sound of the gunshots to the smell of the gun smokes to the type of Glocks to the design of Critical Defense ammunition, the knowledge he passed on me filled with passion and enthusiasm. He often reminded me to “respect the gun.”

Although we have completely different perspectives on politics and policies, we have tremendous respect for each other. Over tequila shots and delicious Vietnamese dishes, we discussed openly about our positions during our late-night gatherings at our in-law’s annual family reunions. We could never convince each other, but we agreed to disagree.

Unlike him, I hate guns and I had never thought of owning a weapon, but I feel the need to protect myself and my family in this critical moment as violence against Asian Americans is rising and deadly. I urge all Asian Americans to do the same. If you’re qualified and eligible to own a gun, give it a shot. Asian-American women, in particular, need to protect themselves and guns give them the equal power in these life-and-death situations.

Let’s face the reality. Asian-American communities are one of the most vulnerable minorities in America. Even after eight lives were murdered, the cop said that the killer was just having a bad day. He was just a poor white guy with sex addiction. Get the fuck out the here. Sex is part of American culture as apple pie. From music to movies to media to magazines, sex is everywhere you turn to. In fact, most American men suffer sex addiction. There was an incident in which a writer at a respected publication caught jerking off during a Zoom staff meeting. Even a famous athlete had to seek therapy for his sex addition. For poor sex addicts, Pornhub is freely available 24/7. If you can’t control your sex addiction, get help. Don’t use sex addiction as an excuse to murder innocent people.

Let’s call the senseless killings for what they were—hate crimes. They were the results of white privilege fueled with sexism and racism. Until America can come together to #StopAsianHate, we need to continue to raise our voice and protect ourselves.

Asian-Americans Voice on Anti-Asian Violence

Jiayang Fan writes for the New Yorker:

A senseless massacre can be painfully clarifying about the state of a country. As the killing of George Floyd and countless other African-Americans have made clear, structural racism has become simultaneously mundane and pathological. The incendiary rhetoric of a racist former President combined with the desperation stoked by an unprecedented pandemic has underscored the precariousness of a minority’s provisional existence in the U.S. To live through this period as an Asian-American is to feel defenseless against a virus as well as a virulent strain of scapegoating. It is to feel trapped in an American tragedy while being denied the legitimacy of being an American.

May Jeong writes for the New York Times:

[T]he Asian woman became an object of hatred, and lust, a thing to loathe, then desire, the distance between yellow peril and yellow fever measured in flashes.

Việt Thanh Nguyễn and Janelle Wong write for the Washington Post:

Still, history tells us something important: The experience of racial discrimination does not happen for any group in isolation; white supremacy depends on pitting people of color against one another so they do not see their shared cause. Racial profiling does not stem from the same stereotypes for Asian Americans, Black people, Muslims and other groups, but it serves a common purpose — to define who is essential and who belongs to the nation. The case of Asian Americans shows the varied ways in which the boundaries of belonging are enforced through old ideas that circulate over generations. The best way to keep Asian Americans safe is for the United States to improve its economy and promote global equality for everyone, without fearmongering about the countries their ancestors left.

Jennifer Ho writes for CNN:

To be an Asian woman in America means you can’t just be what you are: a fully enfranchised human being. It means you are a blank screen on which others project their stories, especially, too often, their sexualized fantasies—because US culture has long presented Asian women as sexualized objects for White male enjoyment.

This happened when Chinese immigrant women first came to the US in the 19th century, kidnapped or bought for sale in China and shipped to America, or tricked into sexual servitude when the domestic worker jobs they were promised disappeared and the only job they could get was to have sex with men for money. They did not get to keep the money. That went to the men who bound them, sometimes in cages—forcing them to have sex with men. Many of these women died of disease, malnourishment, and abuse without being released from their sexual servitude –that’s the founding story of Asian women in America.

Christine Ahn, Terry K Park and Kathleen Richards write for the Nation:

Shortly after the mass killing in Georgia—including six Asian women—earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced the violence, saying it “has no place in America or anywhere.” Blinken made the comments during his first major overseas trip to Asia with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, where Blinken warned China that the United States will push back against its “coercion and aggression,” and Austin cautioned North Korea that the United States was ready to “fight tonight.”

Yet such hawkish rhetoric against China—which was initially spread by Donald Trump and other Republicans around the coronavirus—has directly contributed to rising anti-Asian violence across the country. In fact, it’s reflective of a long history of US foreign policy in Asia centered on domination and violence, fueled by racism. Belittling and dehumanizing Asians has helped justify endless wars and the expansion of US militarism. And this has deadly consequences for Asians and Asian Americans, especially women.

R.O. Kwon writes for Vanity Fair:

We’ve had to yell so loudly to even get national media and politicians to begin to believe there might be a real problem. I wept, as many of you did, the day last March when the previous president started calling it a “Chinese virus,” because we knew exactly what would happen as a result, the hatred those paired words would incite. We have been told this is new, that we haven’t really experienced racism, all while our entire existence in this country has been twisted, shaped, and contorted by forces like the 1875 Page Act, which halted the immigration of Chinese women on the stated pretext that they, we, were immoral. Were temptations. All while the Asia–ravaging forces of white supremacy, imperialism, and colonialism drove our people here, to this land our ancestors would not recognize.

May-Lee Chai writes for the LA Times:

The fact that Asian women are punished for the ways white supremacy hypersexualizes our bodies is not unfamiliar to me. I was 13 or 14 years old when white veterans first started coming up to me to tell me stories of the sex workers in Asia. When I complained to my mother, who was white, she would get angry at me, for complaining. “Oh, they like you!” she said. When I shared this story with other white women in college, they reacted with envy, “It’s not fair! They think you’re exotic.”

Pawan Dhingra writes for the Conversation:

There is a long history of suspecting Asian Americans of carrying disease into the U.S., which made it seem natural for people to avoid Asian American-owned businesses. President Donald Trump’s repeated public declarations that the “Kung Flu” virus came from China reinforced those feelings.

This race-based and erroneous assumption has resulted in Asian Americans having among the highest unemployment rates in the nation, though they had among the lowest before the pandemic.