New Category: Goodbye

The news of my homeboy Nate passing away shook me to the core. He had a massive heart attack. He was only 38 years old. I wrote about our complicated relationship. I wish I had reconciled our friendship before he left. I waited for too long.

I do not deal with grief too well. The recent passing of my parents devastated me and now one of my closest friends is gone too soon. The longer I live, the more I will witness deaths until it will be my time to go. Just the thought of that depresses me.

As I was writing about Nate, I went back to my blog archive and found that I had written many goodbye posts for family members, friends, colleagues, and the people I had known over the years. I was able to go back to 2010 with about 21 people, excluding the people I didn’t know personally like celebrities and politicians. That averages out to 2 people I have known die each year.

I decided to create a goodbye category to collect the tributes I had written. It is my own column of obituaries. Writing them down helps me deal with my grief and remember the people I had in my lifetime.

Replacing Flush and Fill Valves

We had a Korky fill valve that made incredibly loud, screeching noise every time one of us flushed the toilet. The sound got louder and louder to the point where I could not stand anymore. I will never buy another Korky fill valve again. I picked up Fluidmaster’s Universal High Performance All-in-One Toilet Repair Kit instead for $32.

The job took me an hour and a half instead of ten minutes or less as the product has claimed. I am not a handyman at all. What took the most time was detaching the tank from the bowl. The screws were tight and rusted; therefore, they were hard to come out. The rest was straightforward and there was no leak. I hated working with water because I always worried about the leaks. This job turned out well.

Getting Back Into Rollerblading

I am slowing getting myself back into rollerblading. I went to skate parks. I dropped into quarter and half pipes, but staying away from higher ramps even with a high ramp I had no trouble in the past. I don’t want to risk hurting my sacroiliac joint again and won’t be able to ice skate.

I want to step away from going down the ramps and develop more rollerblading techniques like 180-degree and 360-degree jumps, backward crossovers, the T-stops, and the hockey stops. I still have a lot to learn. I am going to pick up a few techniques from Flow Skate’s Shaun Unwin as well as Skatefresh’s Asha Kirkby.

I have my goals set out for me. Since these techniques are on flat surface, I can ask Đạo to join me. He doesn’t like skating down ramps, but he is good at picking up techniques. We’ll see.

My Law School Portal

I was assigned to design the landing page for My Law School Portal. The portal is powered by Blackboard. I was given a JSP file to work with. The only way to see how the page work is to upload the JSP file and refresh the page. The page has ton of JavaScript and CSS callings in the backend. I don’t know what are being used for. For the purpose of what I was in charged to do, I just added some custom CSS elements to create the page. It’s like killing an ant with a sledgehammer, but whatever works.

Goodbye Nate Thaing

Dear Nate,

I am deeply sorry that we didn’t have a chance to reconcile our friendship before you leave. I thought we still had plenty of time, but I am dead wrong.

You came into my life when my heart was broken. I lost a girlfriend, but I gained a best friend. You kept me from drowning in my own sorrow. You took me in when I was dead broke. I will never forget your kindness, generosity, and friendship.

When I was at the lowest point of my life, you were there for me. We didn’t have much money, but we had plenty of joy. Reminiscing on the times when we ate Queen 6-Pack’s chicken wings, sharing a 40’s Olde E, and listening to hip-hop puts me to tears. I missed those late nights cruising and pumping 2pac in our rides. I missed those cookouts that lasted into early in the morning. Your parents, brothers, and sisters treated me like a family member. I love them all. I wish we could go back to the good old days. I still have fond memories of our time together.

I wished I could forget the past and move forward, but there was one particular incident that cracked our friendship. You were just kidding around, but it still haunts me to this day and I couldn’t fully forgive you for it. Do you remember the day when we were hanging out at David’s house? It was my first and last time at his house.

David’s stepfather was a gun nut and he had rifles locked up in a case as well as guns laying around the house. You picked up a shotgun on the couch and pointed at my head. I looked straight in your eyes and pleaded with you not to pull the trigger. You must have known that the gun had no bullet in it and I assumed that the gun had no bullet in it, but I was dead serious when I requested that you do not pull the trigger. Then I felt a puff of air on my temple. You didn’t respect my request. You pulled the trigger. I tried to explain to you why I was upset, but you didn’t seem to get it. To you, it was a joke, but to me, my life was in your hands at that moment. We were cool again, but it was never the same when I felt that you had stepped over the line. I am sorry to bring this up, but it was part of our story.

Our friendship broke when you wanted to come hang out with me for the weekend. I would welcome you to my house anytime, but I was so sick at that time. I didn’t want you to hangout with a sick person who would spend the entire time in bed instead of going out drinking. Unfortunately you took it as I didn’t want you to come. I knew you were upset and I wanted to give you some time to get over it. Unfortunately, you had removed me from your contact. I tried calling you several times and leaving you messages, but you never replied.

When my mom contracted COVID, I was in Lancaster for several weeks. I drove by your parents’ house several times, but I didn’t knock on the door. I didn’t think it was a good idea to check on your parents and you when I was living with family members who had COVID. I told myself to wait until the pandemic over to rekindle our friendship. Unfortunately, time had run out on us.

Despite our misunderstandings, I have nothing but love for you. I should have taken a more active role in our friendship. I had my own grief to deal with, but that’s not an excuse. I shouldn’t have taken your love and our friendship for granted. Remember the Nas joint we used to vibe to? AZ rhymed, “Life’s a bitch and then you die / That’s why we get high / Cause you never know when you’re gonna go.” I still can’t believe you’re gone. Once again, I am deeply sorry. Rest in eternal peace, homie.

Vietnamese Typography Supports Dark Mode

I spent my Sunday night realigning Vietnamese Typography. I stripped the site down to just black text on white background. I am heading toward a much more minimalist approach with the focus on readability. I find colors a bit distracting, but I still use red for the hover state.

I also decided to give the site a dark-mode experience for those who prefer reading white text on dark background. To accomplish dark mode, I had to re-export all the SVG files and embed them directly into the pages instead of linking to them using the img tag. The process was a bit tedious, but it was worth doing since Adobe Illustrator improved its SVG export with responsive support and cleaner codes.

I still love this site very much even though it was published six years ago. My original intention was to treat it like a book: publish it and forget it. The site has moved beyond the book format as I continue to add new type recommendations for Vietnamese. The traffic continues to go up and I get more requests for reviewing Vietnamese diacritics. Vietnamese Typography remains one of my favorite projects and I am very proud of it.

Private Lessons for the Boys

I enrolled Đạo and Xuân to private lessons with a Japanese-American coach who competed in the Olympics and worked for Disney on Ice. I had observed her giving private lessons many times and her meticulous methods caught my attention. She didn’t just focus on the techniques. She made sure that her students had correct postures, forms, and hands.

I watched her giving Đạo a private lesson on Thursday and she showed him how to do forward crossovers, which he had learned a while ago. His form didn’t look too good. She showed how to lift up his chest, how to push his leg correctly to get the power, and how to move his arms in accordance with his legs. I appreciated her attention to the details. Even though she was strict on the forms, she had a friendly approach to teaching them. She didn’t make him feel intimidated. Đạo liked her coaching style too.

Xuân is still young and he has a solid foundation. It is important that he learns the proper techniques, forms, and postures. He started to cry when I asked him to go into the rink with her. He didn’t want to go in without me. I asked Đạo to accommodate him for a bit and five minutes later she completely put him at ease. After their first private lesson, he asked me when he could take it again. I said, “You were crying and now you want more?” He replied, “I was fake crying.”

She is a great coach; therefore, her rate is quite high. I could only let each of them do half an hour each week. Not only do we have to pay her fees, we also have to pay for the freestyle time on ice. She is no longer working at the Fairfax rink that we normally go to. We have to drive thirty minutes to a different rink. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely, if money isn’t a concern. When I discussed with my wife the reasons I chose this particular coach, she asked me my end goal for them to take private lessons. I just want them to learn proper skating techniques, to develop an appreciation for how our bodies perform on figure skates, and to enjoy ice skating.

My wife suggested twice private sessions a week if they are doing to do it. Hell no! I already am worried financially with once a week.

No Rollerblading In a While

I haven’t been to the skate parks since my last falling off the ramp. The pain in my sacroiliac joint is fading away, but I am feeling a bit intimidated to get back into rollerblading.

My helmet cracked when I fell the previous time and blacked out. If my head were hitting the ground instead, I don’t know if I could have survived. That helmet saved my head, but now I need a replacement.

I need to get back to the park to rebuild my confidence, but I will not get near the high ramps. I need to be more mindful of my age and my health. I am no longer a young man. The pain took way too long to subside.

I have been spending more time ice skating. The ice rink is much safer than the skate park. I don’t want to give up rollerblading though. It is still a fun sport I can do whenever I want and not have to wait for the rink to open. Maybe I just rollerblade on the bike trails instead of the skate parks.

Personal Blogs

My thanks to Tommy for supporting my blog. I appreciate his generosity and I am glad to hear that he enjoys reading this blog. This is definitely a motivation to keep me going.

As a blogger who blogs my life away, I really miss reading personal blogs. Even people I don’t know, I love to catch a glimpse of their life. They don’t have to be famous and they don’t even have to write about grand topics. I enjoyed something personal about their life that are willing to share to the public.

Whether blogging about their kids, emotions, or passions, they are invited the readers into their mind and I felt like I get to know them a bit. The other day, I saw a group of Vietnamese-American mothers who used to blog met up and posted their photos on Facebook. I was told that they are still blogging, but mostly in private. I wish they were still open to the public, but I am glad to hear that they are still blogging.

I am exciting to see my sons (Tinygui and Lilgui) started blogging. I hope they keep it up to practice their writing.

Summer Spending Spree

As a financial worrier, I am concerned about our summer spending spree, particularly on our kids. Xuân is continuing his academic tutoring for three days a week. Đán is taking private tutoring for reading and writing twice a week. Đạo is attending a writing workshop twice a week.

For sports, we already sent Đán and Xuân to a week-long figure skating camp. Đán will start the NHL/NHLPA Learn to Play program this Saturday. Yesterday, I signed up Đạo and Xuân for private ice skating lessons. I also am taking group ice skating lessons myself.

To offset these expenses, I am taking on freelance projects. I am currently working on only one website and the pace is slow as I am waiting for my client to do its part. My advising service for Vietnamese diacritics is going well. I have clients all over the world asking me to review their typefaces. I am really happy about those gigs.

As I am paying for all of these tutoring services and private lessons, I am thinking of offering my own services on web design, typography, and graphic design. Anyone interested?

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