Letter to My Sons #42

Dear Đán,

I wish I could take away all your blemishes. Then again, no one is perfect. As you have repeatedly pointed out, I have many flaws. I have learned to accept them as part of who I am. I can’t let them affect my life. I hope that you will learn to accept them as well.

Being the second born out of the four brothers is hard. You might feel left out, but I can reassure you that you are always on my mind. I think of you everyday. I have tremendous love for you and I want to be close to you. I am always available for you. You can come to me anytime. You can talk to me about anything. If you want to do something together, we can make that happen.

My only goal as a father is to provide you a happy, fulfilling life. If anything I can do to reach my goal, please let me know. I really wish we can spend some time together. I am down with fishing, shooting some hoops, or passing some ping pongs. Of course, we can snowboard together as well.

You have an incredible athletic ability. You picked up ice skating, rollerblading, and snowboarding with ease. I struggled to learn snowboarding and wished I had your skills. Through determination, I can ride the board now. I lacked the skills; therefore, I had to work hard. You had the skills, but your heart wasn’t in it. Talent without passion and hard work can only take you so far. Then again, we can just play sports for fun and to stay active.

As you are growing, I hope you will learn to balance your life and manage your time. Step away from your screen, reconnect with nature, and spend time with your loved ones, including your dad.

I love you, my boy!
Dad

Replacing the Bathroom Fan Switch

After replacing the bathroom fan for just three months, it stopped working again. The fan was fine, but the switch was dead. So the previous switch was made by Eaton only lasted three months. I hope it was the switch issue and not the electrical issue. Does any electrician or electrical engineer know why the switch had such a short lifespan? Could the cost ($0.85) be the factor? Switches seem to last for a very long time. Hit me know if you know the answer.

Letter to My Sons #41

Dear Xuân,

I am so proud of you for receiving this year’s Most Dedicated award in your swimming league. I am glad that your coach and your team recognized your efforts.

Because of summer school, you couldn’t practice with your team. Nevertheless, you went to the pool and practiced on your own. You competed in almost every meet and gave all of your best.

You won fourth place in the 25-meter freestyle in the Northern Virginia Swimming League Division Championships. Your time was 18.71 seconds. That’s an accomplishment.

Your time has improved tremendously across the board since you started swimming. You thrive and excel when you put your mind to it. You did it with skiing and scootering, but swimming is where your heart at. I hope you will continue to ski and scooter with me, but your mother and I will support you all the way in swimming.

Keep your passion alive. As long as you are willing to put in the time and the efforts, you will go far. I have faith in you. I have nothing but love for you. Do your things, my Xuânshine!

Love,
Dad

We Are Fucked

I had checked out of politics in the past four years. I hadn’t followed the news. I avoided getting into political discussions. It has been good for my mental health.

At this point in the presidential election, however, I can no longer ignore the race. We can’t go back to another four years of chaos and craziness under the authoritarian regime. Democracy was on the brink of collapse back then.

Now that Biden has dropped out, I am behind Kamala Harris all the way. I will vote for her if she becomes the nominee, but let’s keep it real. America is not ready for a female President. We witnessed that in 2016. Furthermore, America is not ready for an Asian-American President.

I hope I am dead wrong, but I am deeply concerned not only the President, but also the House and the Senate will lose. Then the Supreme Court will be filled with Republican Justices. Democracy will die this time if we can’t stop it.

The Democratic establishment has fucked up.

Letter to My Sons #40

Dear Đạo,

Thank you for spending two days with me. Even though we see each other everyday, it was a much needed quality time together for the two of us.

With four kids under the same roof, I felt as if I had neglected you; therefore, I was glad to have a chance to be with you. It meant so much to me that you were willing to spend time with me and I didn’t have to force you.

I am sorry for getting on your case about your school work, screen time, and sibling bickering. Because I cared about you deeply, I couldn’t stay out of your business.

The two days we spent together made me realize how much you have matured. My little Duke had grown up. You are sweet, kind, and understanding. I am proud of the young man you are becoming.

Our love for skiing keeps us bonded together. The past two days were some of the happiest moments in my life. I will always remember our time together.

Later on when you have your own life, don’t forget to take some time off your busy schedule to shred together. I hope to be able to keep skiing and snowboarding in my 70s.

I have nothing but love for you, son.

Love,
Dad

Big Snow’s Not So Bad

After yesterday’s disappointment at Big Snow, I was debating whether to come back for another two hours or not. I asked Đạo and he was cool if I wanted to go back. Since I already paid for the time slot, why not? It would have been the last time we were there.

Our time was 1:00 pm and we arrived at noon. We saw a senior gentleman already waited in line. He told me if I come back, the line would have been long. We set down our skis in line and waited. I had my book with me and it was a perfect way to kill time. He was right. By 12:30 pm, the line was long. I didn’t know if it was worth the waiting or we should just head home.

Since I snowboarded yesterday, I switched to skiing today. I tried to get my carving back, but then I decided to try the terrain park. To my surprise, I enjoyed skiing on the boxes and jumping on the hills. After an hour or so, Đạo got bored and went into the cafe waiting for me. I kept on going until my two hours were up.

The experience was not as bad as yesterday. The terrain park offered plenty of things for me to do instead of skiing down the hill in 30 seconds. The two-hour session was good enough. The four-hour was too much. I might take the kids back here if Big Snow offered 50% off again. $30 for two hours were reasonable. $60 would be a bit too pricey.

I can’t wait until Virginia builds an indoor ski resort in Lorton. It seems like nothing is moving toward that goal.

Big Snow, Big Disappointment

I heard about the American Dream mall and Big Snow, America’s first and only indoor ski resort, and always wanted to check them out. Since our camping trip was canceled and the admission price for Big Snow dropped from $60 to $30 for two hours, I decided to go at the very last minute.

Xuân couldn’t join me because he will have a swimming competition coming up. Vương wouldn’t go anywhere without his mother and he wanted to stay with Xuân. Đán would rather spend time with his PC than his dad. It’s so disheartening, but his choice. Only Đạo wanted to join me.

It turned out to be great because I hadn’t spent time alone with our first born in a long time. When we traveled in a big group, the bickering, arguing, and screaming were nonstop between the brothers and the parents. We are a chaotic family.

With just me and Đạo, it was so quiet and relaxing. We arrived at the American Dream quite early and our schedule for Big Snow was at 2 p.m. As a result, we wandered around the big mall. There was a train that took kids around the mall. It reminded us of when Đạo was a baby. When Ðạo got kicked out of the daycare for having a bit of a high fever, I would take him to the mall to ride the train. During the afternoon weekdays, the two of us were the only ones riding the train. The driver drove us an extra lap sometimes.

I took Đạo to the high-end section of the mall just to let him know how ridiculous the prices were. The Ferrari store had no price tag. We had to ask the sales associates. A kid about 10 to 12 years old asked about a leather wallet in a glass display case and the price was $520. The boy thanked the sales associate and walked out with his mom. Đạo dropped his jaw when he saw the $2,000 price tag on a Gucci handbag.

We walked around the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, but Đạo is too old for these rides. At 1:30 pm, we checked into Big Snow and changed into our skiing clothes. Đạo was skiing and I was snowboarding. As we entered the skiing area, there was a small tubing and learning center. The main hill was divided into a green/blue slope and freestyle terrain. That was it. We took the lift up and then skied down for probably about 30 seconds. I was working on my carving so I didn’t mind as much, but Đạo got bored quick. Nevertheless, he stuck with me for about 3 hours. We only stayed an hour for our second session. I got bored and tired as well.

I also booked another session at noon for the next day. I am not sure if we will come back or not. Since the booking is not refundable, we just have to use it or lose it. That says a lot about the resort. Big Snow, big disappointment.

Then again, I was so glad to spend some quality time with Đạo. He is such a sweet, caring son. I am sure even after he goes away for college or work, he will come back and spend time on the slopes with me. I hope I won’t be too old to ski or snowboard.

Eminem: The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce)

Eminem is back. At 51, he is still at the top of his game. His flow is still sick. His punchline is still sharp. His sense of humor is still twisted. He applies similar tactics that worked for him throughout his long career. He uses Slim Shady, his alter ego, to push his controversial, lyrical content. His usual targets include MGK, Ja Rule, Diddy, and Christopher Reeves—Em is still obsessed with the Superman actor. Em’s only heartfelt record is “Temporary,” in which he writes for his daughter when he’s no longer on this earth. He made the right choice to let Skylar Grey sing the hook instead of himself. Remember “Mockingbird?” I still can’t stand his singing even though I dug his storytelling. The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce) is not a new concept, but an enjoyable one.

A Free Inspection That Wasted Time and Money

I made an appointment with Priority Toyota Springfield last Friday at noon for an inspection on our 2018 Toyota Sienna SE. The service rep told me it would take 5 hours. He advised me to come early in the morning without making an appointment. I took his advice.

I woke up early this morning, packed my laptop to work remotely, and headed to the Priority Toyota Springfield. I arrived 10 minutes before 7:00 am, which was its opening time, and I was the first one in line. The inspection still took 3 hours to complete.

I was taking advantage of the free inspection, which was part of the deal for purchasing a car at Priority, but the wait wasn’t worth it. I should have just taken it to a gas station. It would cost me $20, but the waiting time would have been shorter.

While waiting, the inspector at the dealer informed me that the 2 front side marker light bulbs were out. Each bulb cost $3.26. The labor for screwing in two bulbs, which took 5 minutes, cost $70. These costs are just insane. I could have replaced the bulbs myself. Even with a free inspection, they still got me.

Next time, I will check all the lights first before taking my car to be inspected. Here’s the complete checklist:

  • Brakes
  • Headlights
  • Signal lights
  • Other lights
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Exhaust system
  • Tires
  • Hood latch
  • Emission control
  • Windshield
  • Windshield wipers
  • Other glass
  • Mirror
  • Doors
  • Seats
  • Seat belts
  • Floor pan
  • Defroster
  • Horn

Down But Not Out

It’s official. I fucking hate the summer. The heat and humidity make me lazy and guilty.

The house constantly needs improvements and tidying up. I am overwhelmed with the growing list of things to do, and I haven’t done much. My wife is chewing my ears off every single day.

The cars need fixing and maintenance. More mileage, more problems. They just never stop. I hate dealing with cars. I am just going to drive them until the wheels fall off.

The kids aren’t reaching their potential. With the exception of Xuân, they aren’t playing any sports. They spend way too much screen time. I am failing to get them off their devices.

The job is uncertain. I am not worrying about AIs replacing my job. I am worrying about blue eyes replacing my job. Five white guys have taken over my responsibilities. Nevertheless, I still have some roles to play until I become useless.

Fuck it. I am just riding it out. I will deal with each issue when it comes up. I am losing all the joys in life and I am wasting my time worrying. My time in this world is too damn short to be stressed out.

I am thinking of seeking therapy, but I am too damn cheap to pay for someone to talk to me. As a result, I am writing this here as a form of therapy. I just needed a space to get shit off my chest. I will be fine. Even if everything around me falls apart, I still have myself to depend on.