Fourteenth Anniversary

We’ve made it through 14 years. We are still working through our conflicts, but we are committed to be together. This family is much bigger than just the two of us.

After 14 years, I still am madly in love with her. I just can’t imagine my life without her and my sons. I don’t regret our journey together. It hasn’t been easy, but we are still on the same path. We both know what it takes to make our marriage work.

In our last heated argument, we didn’t even bring up the “D” word. We learned to make up after we fought. We learned to apologize when we were wrong. We learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We learned to communicate and compromise. I hope that she will not give up on me and we will do just fine as long as we keep it honest to each other.

She is a strong woman and she can handle anything throwing her way. She was not prepared to be a mother, but she is doing a hell of a job raising our boys. She never looked back. Our relationship went through ups and downs, but she kept moving forward. I appreciate that she makes the effort to maintain our marriage.

I hope we spend many more years together as husband and wife. We have made it through this far, nothing can break us apart. I am thankful for the 14 years together.

Another School Shooting in America

Nineteen children and two adults have been killed inside an elementary school. America, how do we keep letting these acts of gun violence repeating again, again, and again? When can we do something about this? How many more lives do we need to lose before we could for come together to solve this issue? Gun violence shouldn’t be a Democrats-vs-Republicans, gun-rights-vs-gun-controls issue. It should be a human-life issue. Please America, I am begging you to unite and to come up with a solution to prevent more Americans from get killed by guns.

The Nightmares

Last night, I dreamed of attending my cousin’s funeral in Vietnam. I was not sure what exactly the cause of his death. He had family members surrounded him and prayed for him. After the monks chanted for him, they cremated him right in front of us while he was taking his last breath. It was barbaric and disturbing.

Then it was my uncle who had terminal cancer. We went through the same ritual, but I protested the cremation process while he was still breathing. Then he turned into some kind of a lighting bug straight out of James Cameron’s Avatar. His wife and kids blamed me for not letting him reincarnated into a human being. I told them I can zap the damn bug so he could be reincarnated.

The dream was so fucked up that I woke up with a chill. How did I have this dream? I didn’t take any psychedelic drugs. All I had was a can of Grapefruit Smash, which contained one-and-a-half shot of vodka and seltzer water. Fortunately, I only get these kind of dreams once in a while. If I keep getting dreams like these regularly, I might as well not sleeping at all.

When I was about five or six, I had another weird dream that stays with me until this day. I was in a playroom full of kids. There were kids sliding down the slides. There were kids crawling around the floor. There were kids on the walkers. We are all just having a great time then the adults came in chopping off the kids’ heads. One particular kid on the walker had a neck like rubber. The adult tried to chop his head, but the ax just bounced right off. I still can’t get that image out of my head even today.

In retrospect, I wonder if it has a long-lasting effect on me. Whenever I see a surgery I would get blacked out. When a doctor cut my wife’s stomach opened to take out Vương, I got blacked out and hit my head on the ground. They had to take me to the ER room to had my head checked out.

A B+ is an Asian F

In his commencement speech, Việt Thanh Nguyễn joked, “A B+ is an Asian F.” As a friend and I made some jokes on Facebook about our failing grades according to the Asian standard, a friend of my sister chimed in:

I hope no one will be laughing when your kids bring home an F report card
It not ok to be failing when you know your kids can do better than failing it call a lazy

I could hear the conceited tone in her voice and I thought she had missed the joke. I explained:

In his speech, Viet joked that, “a B+ is like an Asian F.“ I had Bs in my report card and they were considered Fs in Asian standard. That’s the joke. Of course, if our kids gets F, that should be a concern. B+ is not a bad grade.

She replied:

i didn’t even accept the B+ just saying oh well that how my daughter is she where she is now

I followed up:

That’s great that your daughter could live up to your expectations. That is also the point Viet is making in his speech. Asian parents accept nothing less than A’s. A B+ is considered to be a failure. Thanks goodness, my mother didn’t expect me to get all A’s. I was an average Cs student and I turned out OK (I think). If she were to push me to get all A’s, I might have dropped out of school with severe depressions and suicidal thoughts.

She responded:

i have my own standard and when parents should know their children capable of more than what they are currently demonstrating

In retrospect, my grades weren’t so good and my excuses were my limited English knowledge. I did OK in middle school because I studied the tests by memorizing the study guides. In high school, my grades were Bs and Cs. Any classes that required class discussions and presentations, I failed miserably. Again, my excuse was English. I had no idea what the teacher and my classmates were talking about. I also took AP Calculus in my senior year and failed miserably. I ended up hating Calculus. Fortunately, La Salle had already accepted me before my final grades for senior.

Thanks goodness, La Salle didn’t require any math course, but I faced different challenges. La Salle required three or four philosophy courses. Again, I was like a muted student in class. I had no idea what my professors were talking about. I took a philosophy class on religion. We studied the Bible and I got as far as in the beginning God created Adam and Eve. I new nothing else after that. I ended up with a C in that class. In another philosophy class on sex, marriage, and religion, the professor knew my English was not so good. After flunking the first test, I was pulled aside. The professor made a deal with me. Each week, I had to meet him during his office hours to discuss about sex, marriage, and religion in Vietnamese culture. If I could do that, I no longer needed to take his tests or the final exam. I ended up with a B in that class and I thanked him til this day for his accommodation.

I had to withdraw public speaking, history, and biology because I was failing. I had to retake them in the summer at the Harrisburg community college to make up for them. In other general college courses, I didn’t even bother to buy the textbooks because I weren’t going to read them. Textbooks were expensive and I didn’t want to waste my money. I was struggling in all my courses, English in particular, because I didn’t know how to write essays. My English was horrible.

My plan to graduate from La Salle was to have a perfect attendance. I recalled some professor said that if we were to come to class everyday, we could guarantee a C even if we failed our tests. I took that to the heart. I never missed classes. I loved it when my professors took attendance at the beginning of every class.

In my sophomore year, I was heartbroken and miserable. I could have dropped out and focused on web design with the technical skills I had picked up on my own. It would have disappointed my mother; therefore, I stuck to it the whole way through. Even though I didn’t have good grades, I had enough credits to get college degree, which is a piece of paper that I had misplaced somewhere.

After four miserable years of college, I thought to myself I was done with school for good. I hated reading and writing. Then I started this blog and things turned around. I became obsessed with both reading and writing. I used to be terrified when I had to submit my writings to my professors and here I am pouring my heart out for the whole world to read.

After working at George Mason, I decided to take advantage of my tuition benefits. I enrolled into the MA program in graphic design at Mason’s School of Art. I figured even if I scored average, I could just get a master degree. I had nothing to lose. My first class was Advanced Typography. I didn’t know that the professor had a bad reputation. I had to do a tremendous amount of work in his class, but I didn’t learn much about typography. He didn’t care about legibility and readability. All he wanted to see was attention-grabbing display typefaces. I didn’t think it was the right way to teach advanced typography. I ended up with a B+ in his class. I didn’t feel bad about it until I received all A’s, an A+ for my independent study, in which I wrote Professional Web Typography, and another A+ for my final thesis, in which I wrote Vietnamese Typography. It all worked out at the end.

Based on my own experience, I don’t want to set high expectations for my children. I rather have them enjoying school and what they learn than chasing straight A’s. I don’t see the need for taking advanced classes at young age. They will have the opportunity to take them in college. As long as they do not drop out, I am happy with that. A B+ is not an F for me.

As an Asian parent, I wanted my sons to do well in school. If they can get A’s, they should, but it is not the end of the world if they can’t. My oldest son who is now in seventh grade should be able to get all A’s because he has the choice to redo any assignment and retake any test to bring up his grades. There is no reason not to do it unless he chooses not to. Of course, he chose not to and my wife had to constantly reminding him to redo and retake. If I had those choices when I was in seventh grade, I would have had straight A’s on every report card.

I might contradict myself, but own my advice is to do the best I can. I would do anything—retake the tests, redo assignments, take on extra credits—to get better grades. If I can’t A’s because I didn’t do well on my exams, I wouldn’t beat myself up. I would just suck it up and go through the process. At times, I felt like the dumbest student in class, but I didn’t care. My goal was to get that paper any means necessary. I would just keep moving forward and not giving up until I get that paper. A college degree is a college degree. They all the same.

A Father’s Pride

My friend showed me pictures of his cribs
And all I could show him was pictures of my kids
He said he got a brand new sports car
And all I got was my sons’ brand new report card

Base on Ye’s original lyrics

Advice From TypeTogether

The following passages are quoted from TypeTogether’s Building Ligatures: The Power of Type.

José Scaglione on type design (p. 18):

That type design is not an island. Type design is connected to languages, culture, history, and also to communication and design. Our history is written with typography.

Veronika Burian on type design (p. 18):

Type design is not about beautiful shapes. It has a reason, it has meaning, it is a part of our culture, our identity. And it will not disappear. It will change like every language changes. There will be new type projects and new fonts, but type design and typography will always be here.

Burian on why we need more types (p. 28):

Many people are unconvinced about the need to create new fonts, but letters are no different, at least from an artistic point of view, from other cultural interactions like poetry or music. Type design is a carrier of our culture and is subject to developments and trends, especially in this world of constant change. The number of individual elements – tones, rhythms, or letters – is quite small but they can be combined in nearly limitless ways.

Trends, technology, media, and even languages evolve. These changes require an appropriate typographic response that becomes an expression of contemporary culture; and each generation has their own expression.

Burian on modern times (p. 28):

One of the main engines pushing type creation forward is technology. Typography is mechanised writing, and as such it must advance together with printing presses, computers, communication devices, and media.

Scaglione and Burian on foreign language (p. 68):

Taking great care when setting text in a foreign language is a sign of professionalism and respect for the audience. Although Europe as a whole has strong cultural ties, its orthographies are still rather unique. Correct diacritics are part of playing nicely together on the international playground.

License to Fail

Việt Thanh Nguyễn gave a short, inspiring commencement speech at F&M college. He touched on failure:

Now, you have just spent four years of your life here, and probably many years before, trying not to be mediocre. I’m here to give you permission to fail. Your parents might not want to hear that. But you should listen to Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried,” he wrote. “Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Also kids, take note: “a B+ is an Asian F.”

Katt Williams: World War III

As the title suggests, Katt Williams discusses the war on disinformation. He breaks down the lies and the truths. He knows the truths are sometimes ugly and painful; therefore, he uses comedy to tell the truths. He was onto something until he spent half of his Netflix Special analyzing the pussy. Apparently, he is very passionate about the pussy and he isn’t shy away from sharing the types he liked. That’s Katt. He is still disgusting and charismatic as fuck.

Setting Up My Ski-Tuning Station

Last year I bought a pair of used Head skis for $50 and spent $75 on tuning. I also had to wait for a week for the service. With 6 of us skiing in the upcoming season, the tune-up alone will be expensive. I decided to take the matter into my own hands.

I am putting together a ski-tuning station in our basement since my wife bought the Demon Complete Basic Tune Kit. I had the table setup and bought a pair of WSD Tuning Vise. Of course, I learn tuning from watching YouTube videos. The guy from Adventure School gives enough details in his three-part series: sharping the edges, repairing the base, and waxing.

I am working on four pairs at a time. I am in the middle of fixing the base, but I ran out of Ptex candle. I ordered some more to continue the job. Scraping off the Ptex with a razor blade worked really well in addition to the stainless scraper, which should be used first than the razor blade.

I can’t wait to get to the waxing part. We are still looking into buying a pair of skis for Xuân and a snowboard for Đán.


Tuning Up The Honda Lawn Mower

I am transitioning the lawn-mowing responsibility over to Đạo now that he is 13. Two weeks ago, he did a decent job for the first time. Today he hit the curb and bent one of the blades. I tried to straighten it back, but it was impossible. I even took off the blades, but I couldn’t hammer it back either. I had to get two new blades.

While I had the blades removed, I might as well give the lawn mower a tune up. Other than changing the oil every year or two, I haven’t done anything to the lawn mower ever since I bought it about ten years ago. The Honda engine is unbelievably reliable. I bought it used from my brother-in-law after my brand new Troy-Built broke down after three or four years. My brother is allergic to grass; therefore, he couldn’t use it.

Ever since I took over, today is the first time that I gave it a tune up. I replaced the blades, the spark plug, the air filter, as well as the oil. The tune up was not that difficult at all. I just had to buy the socket to remove the spark plug. I also cleaned up all the dirt and debris. Now the machine works so darn good. I should have done these tune ups regularly.

I haven’t done anything to the mower because I was expecting it to die any day now, but the Honda engine is just so darn good. I looked at a brand new one for $600. It’s expensive, but it is definitely worth the investment if you are looking into buying one.

Parts for tune up: