Design Book in Vietnamese

I am thrilled to see a design book written in Vietnamese, but the unfortunate title sounds like a porn film: Emojism. Is it just me? Since the book is published in Vietnamese, I wonder why they didn’t pick a Vietnamese title instead.

Ricky Gervais: SuperNature

In his latest Netflix Special, SuperNature, Ricky Gervais pushes some hot buttons. In claiming inclusivity, he mocks obesity, Chinaman, and transgender. The trans community has already spoken up about the transphobic issue. The fat-shaming and racist jokes are equally offensive, but no one has spoken up. Gervais knows damn well he can get away with these three minority groups. The bloke is a damn good comedian, but he understands his limitations. In his next special, I dare him to take on Black Americans and see if he can get away with the N-word joke. If he stays true to his words as a comic, he shouldn’t have a problem with it. Until he could make fun of every group, he is not as inclusive as he has claimed. He only picks and chooses his targets.

Jennifer Haigh: Mercy Street

Jennifer Haigh’s novel aims to provide different perspectives on abortion; therefore, the book includes many characters. I could not keep all the stories straight. Claudia is the only character that I could follow. Haigh’s writing is excellent though. I love her take on white trash:

She can still remember the first time she heard the term white trash. She was nine or ten years old, watching a stand-up comic on television, and she understood immediately that he was talking about people like her. Her family drank cola with dinner, store brand. They ate off paper plates as if each meal were a picnic. This was not a whimsical habit, but a practical one: her mother sometimes couldn’t pay the water bill, and for a few weeks each year, there’d be nothing to wash dishes in. The per plates came in cheap hundred-packs and were so flimsy they used two or three at a time, and as a result they produced vast amounts of garbage. Behind the trailer, under a carport of corrugated plastic, their trash barrels overflowed with it. In summer the smell was overpowering: soggy paper plates and food scraps rotting in the can. As a family they were both an environmental catastrophe and a sanitary one, as poor people often are.

When Claudia heard the words white trash, that is what she thought.

I wish the storytelling was simpler and straightforward.

Wakefield Skatepark Renovates

On Wednesday I went to Wakefield skatepark to rollerblade around and to do a few drops before it would be closed for renovations. The skatepark has been in a bad condition for a while. Since it was built in April 2004, the woods are aging and the screws are popping off everywhere. A major renovation is a must. I will miss skating there over the summer, but I can’t wait for the new park to complete. The new design looks pretty sweet. In the mean time, I’ll just go to Van Dyck or other skateparks.

I still enjoy rollerblading. I try to skate at least 30 minutes a day. I still drop in and pump out. I try not to push the power stops too hard because my wheels have been worn quite a bit. I am learning to do fakies as well as jump turns on the half pipes. I have not worked up the courage to drop into the deepest end of the big bowl at the Powhatan Springs Skatepark. At my age, I no longer wanted to take the risk. I am just taking it easy.

As far as figure skating, I am still stuck on the flip and loop jumps after months of learning and practicing. I am starting to straighten out my landings, but I often landed to a stand still instead of checking out nicely. I still have a long way to go on both of these techniques, but I am in no rush. I am going to take as much time as I need. The ice rink is close to my workplace; therefore, I have been using my lunch hour to skate. Spending $15 for an hour public session is a bit too pricy, but the trade off is that the rink is usually empty. Sometimes there were only three or four skaters.

At home, I had set up my tuning station and I have been tuning up our skis to get them ready for the winter. I am taking my time with them. I just work on them when I have a few down hours on the weekends. I sharped the edges, removed burrs and rust, and repaired the bases. I am going to try waxing next when I have free time. Somehow I find tuning up skis satisfying, especially seeing the end results. Because I take my time with them, I do more thorough job in the details than the ski shops. They have way too many skis and snowboards; therefore, they have to plow through them quickly and their prices aren’t cheap. I can’t wait for the winter so we can take these skis for a run.

Correction on the Lexend Creator

After tweeting about my latest work for Everlasting Eye Care, I received the following praise and correction from Dr. Bonnie Shaver-Troup, EdD, Creator of Lexend:

Hi Donny, I loved the story of your “forever” friendship with Dr. Nguyen… nothing better than forever friends! I am thrilled to see you are using Lexend for your website. However, I am the creator of Lexend fonts and would ask if you would please correct your tweet. I am honored that you made the important decision to focus on both legibility and readability for Everlasting Eye Care. It would seem important, but many still do not know the importance of the fonts that we present. Kudos on both your design choices and content for the website! Lovely!

PS I love the wordmark that you created—it is beautiful. #beautifulartwork

I apologize for the wrong credit in my tweet, but the case study on my website is always correct. I assumed that Thomas Jockin was the co-creator of Lexend with Dr. Bonnie Shaver-Troup. It turned out that Dr. Bonnie Shaver-Troup had created Lexend in 2001 and Thomas only digitized her fonts for Google Fonts. It is important to get it right; therefore, I decided to delete the incorrect tweet and created a new one.

America Fails to Protect Our Children Again

Before picking up my sons from school yesterday, I went to the skatepark. I spotted three mothers sitting on the bench outside chatting while a half dozen kindergarteners were playing inside the skatepark with no skates. They must have enjoyed sliding down the high ramps more than the slides at the outside playgrounds. As I started to skate, I heard a voice saying something. When I turned around, I saw a little girl looking at me with disappointment on her face. I skated closer to her and said, “Hi. I am sorry. I didn’t mean to ignore you. I didn’t realize that you were talking to me. What were you saying?” She smiled again and said, “You look so cool. How do you do that?” I replied, “Thank you! I just practiced a lot.” As I skated up the ramp, she ran behind me and tried to climb up the ramp as well. As I dropped down, she slid down on her butt. She was smiling the entire time. Looking at the little girl, I just can’t imagine how someone would pull a trigger and murder innocent little kids. After the Sandy Hook massacre and the recent mass shooting took place in Uvalde, however, I no longer question the minds of the crazy motherfuckers.

What I don’t understand is that we simply watched our children getting murdered again, again, and again. All that we had to offer were fucking thoughts and prayers every single time. As one of the most powerful nations in the world, we can’t even protect our children in the environment where they learn. School is not a war zone. School is supposed to be the safest place for kids, and yet they get murdered repeatedly. Why haven’t we, as the United States of America, done anything to prevent this tragedy from happening again, again, and again? Shouldn’t we have some gun control or reform by now? No, because we are too damn divided. Republican lawmakers don’t give a fuck. They only cared about money and power. As long as gun lobbies send them financial support, they won’t make a change. Democrats have been talking about gun control every time a mass-shooting took place, and yet they have done a fucking thing about it. Talk is fucking cheap when they can’t turn it to action. We are all complicit because we haven’t done anything to prevent the preventable.

Will anything ever going to change or will we just continue to watch more kids getting murdered and continue to offer our bullshit thoughts and prayers. If we seriously give a thought or a damn, we have to do something about it. If we care about this country and our children, we just can’t let these massacres go on. Unfortunately, I doubt that anything will ever change because the truth is we are one nation under guns. We love our guns more than our children or else we would have laws in place to keep our guns from killing our children. I have lost my faith in America to solve this issue. There is no way to prevent this.

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.