Ten Poems on Homeland Trees for the Young Souls

While browsing through the Vietnamese section in Fairfax County Public Library, I came across a children poetry book titled Cây cối quê hương (Homeland Trees). The book has ten poems selected among the best in the treasury of Vietnamese literature for children. The poems were compiled by Lê Phương Liên and translated by Hiếu Trần.

After reading a few poems on the spot, I have to include them in my samples for Vietnamese Typography. The beautiful, innocent, and poetic words lit up my soul and brought me back many childhood memories. For the kids, these poems will bring them closer to nature and help with their language development in Vietnamese and English.

I spent my rainy Saturday being stuck inside and whipping up a simple webpage. For typesetting, I combined Lang, designed by Stephen Nixon, and Gimlet Sans, designed by David Jonathan Ross. For visual presentations, I got the photos from Unsplash.

Enjoy!

Self Review for 2021-2022

It’s the time of the year when I dread the most. This year, I have a new supervisor and I also have to review the Web Content Specialist who is reporting to me. I am not good at writing review of my own performance, but I am just going to plow through it. Here we go.

Job Function 1

My main responsibility as Director of Design and Web Services is designing, updating, and maintaining the main law school website.

  1. The contents on the main school website are being updated on a daily basis. I work closely with our Web Content Specialist to make changes according to requests. We also make sure the contents are accurate and accessible.
  2. I make incremental rather than drastic changes to the design of the main law school website. The small changes improved the user experience without catching the users off guard. Redesign is in progress and it is being rolled out in components.
  3. Maintaining the backend server is the crucial responsibility in this role. Keeping the technologies up‐to‐date is essential in longevity as well as security. I implemented content delivery network (CDN) to speed up the site performance and web application firewall (WAF) to prevent hacking attempts.

Job Function 2

My second responsibility is maintaining a network of websites for the Scalia Law community. The WordPress Multisite is powering almost 50 sites ranging from intranets to centers to institutes to faculty members to student organizations to marketing sites. We let stakeholders updating their own sites, but we assist them when they need new functionalities or troubleshooting WordPress issues.

Job Function 3

As Director of Design and Web Services, I serve the Law School community with their websites, print marketing materials, and content updates. I work with outside agencies and vendors on their behalf to make sure they have all the resources (web servers, social media access, analytics) to do their job.

Accountability

  • I take full responsibility for my role in keeping our web presence attractive, up‐to‐date, accessible, readable, and secured.
  • I take my supervision responsibility to make sure we’re on the same page. For example, our HTML markups and coding must be cleaned, organized and readable. Our content on the web must be clear, accurate, and error‐free.
  • I take full accountability in all of my areas of responsibility in order to meet the mission and goals of the law school and university.

Collaboration and Civility

  • I work closely with everyone at the law school as well as colleagues in the University to provide the highest services to meet the Mason standards.
  • I am a team player and I always listen respectfully to others.

Self-Development

  • I always seek to learn latest web developments.
  • I continue to hone my writing skills.
  • I reach out to colleagues within our department or the university for projects we can collaborate.
  • I always stay on top of new technologies in my field.
  • I seek out new, exciting projects, which benefit the law school and also enhance my self development.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • As a minority member, I understand the important of inclusive and diversity.
  • I listen, respect, and contribute to diversity and inclusivity.
  • I have a strong and deep understanding of the value of diversity and models inclusiveness in working with our diverse staff and all members of the law school and university community.

Leadership

  • I encourage my web developers and content web specialists to reach their goals. In addition to the work for the law school, I encourage them to take on projects that will help them grow their career.
  • I provide leadership to the law school community in my areas of responsibility. I make sure that my goals for the school’s websites and print projects align with the goals and mission of the law school and university.

Mentors and Coaches

  • I am always opened to help others who need feedback on graphic design and web development.
  • I continue to update the web design and development blog to provide in‐depth documentation on MODX and all of the special features that I have implemented over the years.
  • I also encourage the staff who work for me to contribute to the blog, which allows them to improve their analytical skills.

Stewardship

  • I look for resources offered by the university before considering outside vendors.
  • I maintain confidential information related to work.
  • I maintain the highest integrity in his work and interactions with others and adheres to law school and university core values.
  • I hold myself to the highest ethical and professional standards and encourages and inspires others who work with me to do the same.

When You Hate Yourself for Revisiting Old Wounds

You revisit old wounds for the same reason
birds will come back to the places
their nests have been destroyed
The mind walks into the same room
because it wants to know how to fix
those floorboards, paint the walls,
turn this into a more habitable place
if it tries something different from the last time.
This is survival.
This is learning how to live through pain
once the skeletons have decided to walk out
of the closet and refuse to go back in again.
Call it the worst story you have ever owned,
a car crash within your bones
that you cannot stop staring at.
But the only way to understand pain
is to look at it and feel it
without turning away.
There is no shame in this.
Eventually, it will scab over and heal.

Nikita Gill

Speaking Spanish

Responding to Đán’s teacher about his interim report:

Dear Ms. B,

Thank you for your comments in Dan’s interim report. Last night, we talked to him about his unwillingness to speak Spanish in Spanish class. We’ve learned that his lack of confidence in Spanish has prevented him from speaking the language.

We encouraged him to do his best. All we are asking from him is to put in the effort. We’re also asking Dao, his older brother, to speak Spanish as well to give Dan more exposure to the language outside his class. Dan has promised that he will speak Spanish in class. Please keep us updated on his progress.

As for math, what is he learning and struggling with? We can’t help him with Spanish, but we can definitely help him with math. Please let us know what you are teaching in class so we can follow up with him at home.

Thanks once again for bringing up your concerns to our attention about Dan’s progress. We also appreciate your compliments. He is indeed a kind and thoughtful child. With your guidance and our collaboration, he will have a successful year.

Regards,

Donny Truong

yesterday & today

yesterday was wonderful
everything is new now
neighbors, house
i feel comfortable here
one step at a time
i find my way (sometimes)
the rest of the time is just learning
my morning routine?
wake up, go for my coffee, and
write in pencil on paper
today i wrote this
different from english
surely i will make a mistake
but that’s okay too
this is unusual, trying to
write vietnamese
i like it very much
patience
thank you, v

dipika kohli

Vương Turns 4

As the youngest boy in the family, he gets all the love and attention. Despite being home with his mom and grandmother most of the time, he isn’t shy away from meeting new friends. He is outgoing and he has such an infectious smile. He is articulate for his age. He knows exactly what he wants. He is also an independent child who likes to do things for himself without getting any help for his parents and brothers.

In contrast, he isn’t quite ready to put breastfeeding behind. He still latches at night time to get his fix. He is still potty training. He doesn’t wear a diaper until he needs to do the number 2. He would request a diaper instead of sitting on the toilet. I am sure he’ll get over these two things this year.

Now that he is 4, I can start cleaning up all the toys he no longer plays with. They have been piling up in the basement for a long time. In retrospect, I don’t see him playing with toys too much. He is a digital-screen baby. He isn’t picking up sports as fast as older brothers. He seems to like skiing. I can’t wait to hit the slopes with him this coming winter.

Getting the Band Back

My passion for ice skating has melted. I haven’t stepped into the rink in weeks. I miss it. I’ll get back to it someday.and continue to learn the jumps.

I have been rollerblading with my sons on a regular basis, thanks to Xuân. I am so glad that he has been asking me to take him to the skatepark. I am dragging Đạo and Đán along too. It feels like getting the band back together. The vibe is there. Xuân is getting his chops on the scooter again. Đạo is gaining more confidence. They both can drop in from high ramps. Đán is a natural skater. He dropped in with one foot. How crazy is that?

As for me, I haven’t learned new techniques. I am just taking it easy and enjoying spending time with my sons. It’s nice to get them off the screen and out of the house. They used to protest, but my wife made them go with me. It’s their benefit to have a routine and to get some exercise. I don’t set any goals or expectations. We just skate for fun. The skatepark is always free and usually not crowded. All we need is a good pair of skates, a helmet, and protective gears. We’ll continue to hit the skatepark as long the weather permits.

We can’t wait to go skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The boys have all the gears. Vương will be using his skis from last year. My wife got Xuân and Đạo brand new twin-tip skis. We rented a snowboard package for Đán for a whole season. I now have two pairs of used skis I had tuned up and ready to go. My wife can use one pair if she wants to. She just needs to buy the boots. I also bought a used snowboard to learn. I want to give it another try this season. I’ll learn it on my own from YouTube rather than getting lessons. We’ll see how that goes.

Change Speaks Vietnamese

Alessio Leonardi and Fontwerk make a huge Change with variable fonts and Vietnamese diacritics. A humanist, lively sans family, Change lends clarity with characteristics and familiarity with peculiarity. From hardness to subtlety, Change’s contrast covers both texts and displays. For Vietnamese support, its acute, grave, and hook above stack to the right of its circumflex. I am glad to have played a small part in making Change.

Tired

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two—
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.

Langston Hughes

Director of Design & Web Services

I updated my bio for on the Law School website

Donny Trương leads the Scalia Law digital experience with the focus on accessibility and usability. He takes the helm of the Law School content management system, MODX, to ensure security and scalability. He took the initiative to recode and redesign the main Law School website from the ground up with the mobile-first approach when responsive design was still in its early stage of adoption.

Trương has spent over a decade at Scalia Law building the brand, transforming the user experience, and improving the backend codes. In collaboration with the university information technology services, he heads the WordPress Multisite project for the Law School community. Since launched, the WordPress Multisite platform has powered over 50 sites ranging from research centers to economic institutes to student organizations to faculty personal websites. In addition to digital designs, Trương extends his creative services to print materials designing brochures, postcards, large-scale banners for the school departments including admissions offices, research centers, institutes, and events.

With more than 20 years of designing and developing web experiences, Trương has a deep passion for typography. When the web began to support typefaces beyond the system fonts, he could not find much resources for designing with web fonts; therefore, he wrote Professional Web Typography to fill the void. He also recognized the missing diacritics for Vietnamese in typefaces. As a result, he published Vietnamese Typography to expand language support in type design. Since the release of the web book, he has been working with type designers and foundries around the world to include Vietnamese diacritics in their type families.

Trương received an MA in graphic design from George Mason University School of Art and a BA in digital art and multimedia design from La Salle University. When not designing digital experiences, he enjoys ice skating, rollerblading, and skiing with his family.