Snowboarding and more

A Simple Request

Yesterday, I went to Breeze, one of my favorite Korean bakeries, to pick up a birthday cake for my son. After choosing a chocolate cake and paying for it, I asked the cashier if I could put some words on the cake. She handed me a piece of paper and a pen. I wrote down, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO XUÂN.”

She told me they can’t do the thing on the letter A. I said to her, “You can’t draw two connected lines,” as I held up my hands above my head to show her the circumflex. She said, “We can only do English words.” I replied, “99% of the text is English. I just need one tiny diacritic.” Again, she said, “No, only English words. We don’t want to mess up.” I thought to myself, “She’s Korean. She’s not even American,” but I insisted, “I already paid for the cake. It’s fine if it is messed up.” She still declined.

Five minutes later, she handed me the cake. I peeped into it and the text reads, “Happy Birthday To Xuân” with the circumflex on the letter a. With delight, I said to her, “That’s perfect. Please say thanks to the cake decorator.” With a bit of defeat, she replied, “Only this time. Not next time.” I smiled and replied, “Well, there won’t be next time because I won’t come back.”

If she can’t accommodate a small request, I don’t need to buy a cake here even though this is one of my favorite bakeries. I was not asking her to draw a complicated Nôm character. I asked for a simple diacritical mark.

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Snowboarding Down the Double-Black-Diamond Slope

I went back to Liberty to work on snowboarding down Upper Ultra, which is the double-black-diamond slope. Despite the warm weather, the conditions were decent. Upper Ultra was not only steep, but it had big moguls. The moguls made it challenging, but they also saved me from sliding down on my ass the whole way down.

I did about six runs on Upper Ultra. The first time I fell when I turned to my heel side. Fortunately, the moguls saved me. The second time, I fell on my knees. As I was reflecting on what I did wrong, I realized that I pulled my body back when I make quick turns. The third time around, I bent my knees and leaned toward my front foot. That was it. By just leaning forward, I could make my board turn quicker and maintain my balance.

I did several more runs and I didn’t fall at all. It felt great conquering the double-black-diamond slope in just a few hours.

Letter to My Sons #30

My Sweetest Xuânshine,

Yes, you are our sweet boy. You take meticulous care of your baby brother. You always play with him. You give him a bath. You even wiped his butt for him. In return, Vương adores you. He listens to you more than me. He comes to your defense when others mess with you. You get into heated arguments with him sometimes, but you never hit him. In fact, you don’t get physical with anyone.

I love your self constraint, but I am also a bit worried. That’s the reason your older brothers irritate the hell out of me when they don’t care to protect you. I can see that you look up to them and want to hang out with them, but they don’t want you to join them. They say I am biased, but I call them out when I see it. Until they figure out how to take good care of their younger brothers, I will always grill them.

Even though you have your sensitive side, you are a tough kid. You can always keep up with me and your older brothers in the sports we play. Thank you for keeping me company at the skatepark when your other brothers don’t want to join me. Thank you for skiing with me. You are a fantastic skier who can take on any terrain. I am also glad that you are trying out snowboarding. It is challenging at first, but you will love it once you get it.

With academics, you are a bit behind. It is my fault. We will get you the help you need to catch up. Once you can focus, you will do well. As you are getting older, you need to start paying attention. Happy eighth birthday, my Xuânshine. I love you with all of my heart.

Love,
Dad

Hooked

I missed the terrains. I wish I could just ski or snowboard everyday during the short winter. I loved these winter sports. My wife isn’t happy that I want to hit the slopes every chance I get. In addition to taking advantage of my seasonal Epic pass, which cost around $700, I am not getting enough time to hone my skills. Since I am skiing and snowboarding, I have so much too learn and I am obsessed with learning new skills.

My kids are getting bored with skiing and snowboarding because they are not picking up new skills. After hitting the double-black-diamond slopes, they have nowhere else to go. I encouraged them to learn carving, hit the trick terrains, or picking up new techniques, but they didn’t want to. In fact, they would rather sit in front of their computers then skiing or snowboarding. Đán, in particular, is such a fantastic snowboarder. If he puts his mind into it, he could go really far. Unfortunately, his mind is stuck on his PC. It is such a shame.

Having access to the slopes is a privilege not every kid could have. Last weekend, Đạo met up with his friend who wanted to try skiing for the first time. Her dad spent $600 for the three of them just for one day. The price included lift tickets, rentals, and lessons for her, her dad, and her brother. With skiing and snowboarding, you are either all in or all out. Imagine our family of six going for one day skiing. That’s $1,200. I can’t afford that.

At this point into the season, all of our passes are paid for themselves. I don’t even make my kids go anymore. If they don’t want to go, they can stay home and rot their brain on their devices. I don’t have any issue hitting the slopes myself. Even on the weekends when the lift lines were packed, riding single was always faster. In addition, the backside was always less crowded.

My obsession is creating a bit of a friction between my wife and me. She introduced me to this game and I am now all in. I made it clear with her before we decided to renew our passes. If we wanted to do this, I would need to hit the slopes as much as I could, even if she and the kids wouldn’t want to.

Cho hát lại từ đầu

Những ai theo dõi kênh YouTube hoặc trang Facebook của tôi sẽ thấy được gần đây tôi đăng lên những video clips tự mình hát. Lý do đơn giản là 20 năm qua tôi viết phê bình ca sĩ rất nhiều. Giờ đây phải đăng lên để người khác phê bình cho công bằng.

Tôi không ngại bị phán xét vì tôi đến với âm nhạc bằng trái tim. Tôi không biết gì về âm nhạc. Chưa từng học nhạc lý bao giờ. Tôi chỉ học qua một lớp đại học nhận thức nhạc jazz (jazz appreciation). Những gì tôi viết chỉ theo cảm nhận và cảm xúc riêng của mình. Giờ đây tôi đến với ca hát cũng thế.

Dĩ nhiên tôi yêu nhạc từ lúc còn bé nhưng nghĩ mình không được chất giọng hay nên không dám ca trước đám đông. Giờ vẫn rụt rè như thế. Thậm chí tôi không được tự tin để ca karaoke. Mỗi khi đi nhậu với bạn bè, tôi chỉ ăn, uống, và chịu bị tra tấn. Không phải ai hát karaoke cũng dở, nhưng khi tiếng nhạc quá lớn, quá ồn ào. Nhiều bài karaoke có tiếng đàn với giai điệu đệm theo tiếng hát để người hát không bị lạc giọng nên nghe chói tai.

Khi nhậu, tôi thích được thưởng thức tiếng hát được đệm với tiếng đàn guitar mộc mạc hay tiếng đàn dương cầm nhẹ nhàng. Những lúc anh Trần Viết Tân từ Canada qua Virginia chơi, anh thường đánh keyboard tự sướng và đệm cho những kẻ không biết hát như tôi mặc sức phiêu.

Sau lần cuối cùng gặp gỡ, nhậu nhẹt, và ca hát cùng với anh Tân vào những ngày lễ Giáng Sinh vừa qua, tôi lấy cảm hứng muốn hát theo phong cách acoustic, nhưng anh Tân đâu có ở gần đây để đánh đàn. Thôi thì đành nhờ vào YouTube. Tôi nghĩ mình đã phát minh được chữ mới karacoustic (karaoke-acoustic) nhưng khi Google thì chữ đó cũng đã có rồi. Tôi không thích hát karaoke, nhưng karacoustic thì OK. Có lẽ là karacoustic chậm hơn nên tôi có thể từ từ hát không cần phải vội vã chạy theo chữ.

Ngày xưa tôi rất ngại ca hát nhưng gần đây tôi có cái nhìn khác. Tôi xem ca hát như một môn thể thao giải trí. Cũng như skating, skiing, hay snowboarding, tôi đến với những môn thể thao này rất trễ. Lúc mới tập những môn thể thao này tôi cũng rất ngại ngùng. Bị té thì không đáng sợ. Chỉ sợ bị quê. Nhưng rồi nhờ chịu khó rèn luyện, những khó khăn ban đầu cũng vượt qua. Tính cách của tôi là mỗi khi làm chuyện gì phải bỏ công vào. Giờ đây trượt không giỏi hơn ai nhưng thỏa mãn cho chính mình.

Ca hát thì chẳng sợ nguy hiểm gì cả. Ca ở nhà rồi đăng lên mạng thôi đâu sợ ai ném đá hay ném cà chua. Ca chỉ để không quên chữ Việt. Ca chỉ để đỡ nhớ quê hương. Ca chỉ để thỏa mãn chính mình.

Cách thâu của tôi rất đơn giản. Mở tiếng nhạc trên máy vi tính, bấm nút thâu trên iPhone, rồi chỉ ca hát thoải mái. Không cần dùng microphone. Không dùng kỹ thuật (vì có biết kỹ thuật đâu mà dùng). Không để ý đến đúng hay trật nhịp. Cũng chả cần để ý đến cách phát âm. Tôi chỉ tập trung vào cảm xúc của chính mình.

Lúc trước mê ca sĩ Don Hồ nên cũng bài đặt hát nhỏ nhẹ như anh. Sau này mê danh ca Tuấn Ngọc cũng bài đặt lên cao như anh. Bắt chước cũng chẳng giống ai. Thôi thì tại sao không hát giọng thật của mình? Có dở hay tệ cũng là phong cách riêng. Giờ đây tôi phải tìm giọng hát cho chính mình từ tâm hồn.

Type Design Resources

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Jeremy Wagner: Responsible JavaScript

I was hoping to recommend this book to the people above my pay rate so they would understand why need to handle JavaScript responsively. An outside vendor is in the progress of redesigning our website and the site will be unusable with JavaScript turns off. It’s such a shame that we will be excluding some of our users, but I am not the one in charge. Even though I found the information useful, it is way too technical for the top decision makers. Nevertheless, Responsible JavaScript is a must read for web developers who care about progressive enhancement and inclusivity.

Back to Whitetail

Đạo, Đán, Xuân, and I went to Whitetail today because Đạo had a ski date with his female friend. She’s a nice who loves rock climbing. She was trying out skiing for the first time. He took her on Sidewinder. She struggled a bit but managed to get down.

The weather was quite warm and the snow is thinning out. The bases of my skis were scratched up because I went over some big rocks. Mother nature is not giving us cold temperatures. We have about a month and a half left to ski.

I was sharing a lift with two older women. They were talking about ski techniques. I asked one of them advice on carving. In order for my skis to bend and grip the snow, she told me, I needed to push my knee forward and toward the inside of my outside ski. She even gave me a demo after we got off the lift. It seemed to make sense. I tried it, but it still felt awkward. I need to spend more time figuring it out.

We had a fun day with the kids. I missed seeing Vương skied though.

I have been blogging about all of my ski trips. It is probably boring for my readers, but I wanted to document all of my skiing and snowboarding experience.

Today at Liberty

Since Sunday, I have been resting, taking Aleve for a few days, and drinking zero alcohol. The sesamoiditis seems to subside. I still feel a bit of a pinch. I went to Liberty this morning to ski. I didn’t want to take a chance with snowboarding. I am not sure if the boots or the way I put pressure on my toes caused the pain.

As I had thought, the ski boots would keep my feet in place. The bottom of my left foot didn’t feel any pain when I skied. I was able to ski down the double-black slopes without any issues. I even filmed myself skiing down the double-black slopes.

I skied for about three hours. I tried to learn carving on the blue slopes. My goal is to be able to carve on skis by the end of this season. I set that goal three seasons ago and I haven’t reached it. Snowboarding distracted my progress. I’ll get it this time.

Snowboarding and more