Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stuff White People Say to Asians

One time someone pronounced my last name: N...nig..ger..wen.  True story!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

12 Years a Teacher

12 Years a Teacher (2002-2014)

Soundtrack by Nina Simone: Sinnerman 

(Run, Sinner, Run)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Lake Tahoe 2014

   Doanh,                    Phuong,           Thy,             (me) Dung,             Dien

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Go Dutch

          ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK.                   HUP HOLLAND HUP!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

OITNB-season 2

Hello, my name is Yung and I have a binging problem.

By the way my new nickname is Dandelion. Dandy Lion.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Monday, June 02, 2014

Top 10 Things you should not do after 50

  1. Kickball. My school Green Acres Gators just won the South Cobb Kickball Championship last Thursday. By the end of the game half of our team, or the 3 guys including me were injured with pulled muscles, various cramps, sprains, strains and automobiles. During the game one of our female players got hit in the face by the ball, tackled and knocked down by a 200 lb guy as she was rounding second base. Who knew that this little game played by elementary school children could be so brutally physical? Or that I was so over-the-hill out of shape even though I run every day. But it was all worth it because we won the whole thing.
  2. Parkour. Or try out for American Ninja Warrior. There is a reason why nobody over the age of 44 ever got to the Finals. Last year we watched the oldest contestant competed. I don't think Grandpa (age 51) even made it past round 2.
  3. Attempt the Split. Especially if you have not done one before. I thought I was pretty flexible.
  4. Skateboarding. Or Ripstikking. I got a RipStik and learned to ride it about 5 years ago after seeing my nieces and nephews in California. It was fun until you twist your ankles and bang your head against the sidewalk as the board goes flying out from under you.
  5. Join the Circus. Unless you're a clown. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing any clowns younger than 50. But it's a great gig if you like lots of make-up and baggy costumes.
  6. Date people half your age. This is not appropriate for anyone any age actually.
  7. Wear clothing with the word "Juicy", "Foxy", "Frankie says Relax" or anything Ed Hardy.
  8. Tattoos. Like cosmetic surgery, I don't know about this one. I might change my mind, one day.
  9. Take yourself seriously. Never ever ever. Evah.
  10. Lose your sense of humor.  Much easier said than done. It's been a rough 8 months for us. First, we were robbed back in September, the same month that my father passed away. My running streak of 1000+ consecutive days ended with a foot injury. A second burglary happened in January. We moved to our current place in February. Then, my brother-in-law, Kathy's older brother whom I've known for the past 22 years lost his life last month. Kevin was 46. He had an odd sense of humor and could be funny at times. I'll miss his over-the-top geeky laugh at his own jokes or questions/statements about nothing and everything. See, if anything I remember that much about him. It was only 9 days since he was admitted to the ER, diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, surgery, ICU and then the end. It reminds me again  how brief, fragile and precarious this existence on earth can be. Blink of an eye, gasp of breath, a slam of a door. A life short-lived. As I look back though, there was always some sort of comedy amidst all this tragedy.  We move on, we laugh it off because we're still here. I can't even begin to explain it. Maybe this whole post is my way of dealing with it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


A new study indicates that Americans are safe from the threat of gun violence except in schools, malls, airports, workplaces, movie theaters, streets, and their own homes. 
Also: highways, turnpikes, libraries, places of worship, parks, universities, restaurants, post offices, and cars.
Plus: driveways, garages, gyms, stores, military bases—and a host of other buildings, structures, and sites. 

National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre applauded the study, saying that it reinforced his organization’s long-held position that the United States does not need additional gun laws. “This study makes it abundantly clear that Americans are in no danger of gun violence except in these isolated four hundred and thirteen places,” he said.
He added that he hoped that the study would spark a conversation “about the root cause of mass shootings: people who recklessly show up at places where they could be shot at.” 

(Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, November 6, 2013)

Saturday, April 05, 2014



 Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with G*d, whatever you conceive him/her to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, 1927

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Can Cook It

Apply Yourself!
We've been binge-watching this TV show Breaking Bad over the past couple of weeks. Previously I've never watched it since it was popular for years.  Atlanta had some ice and snow recently. Only a couple of inches actually but it basically shut down the whole city for a few days. Schools and stores were closed. Roads and highways were not passable for hours on end. Nothing to do and nowhere to go. So besides running on the Silver Comet Trail behind our backyard, we stayed in and watched NetFlix off our Roku. This show is so well written and acted. It strikes a chord with me. Somehow. I'm becoming a fan of the main character: Walter White AKA Heisenberg. I've often tell my students to apply themselves in my art classroom. Yo, you can do it!  Yes, you can!  Must Tread Lightly... OK, must draw lightly (with your pencil.)

Some other uncanny similarities that I've noticed:
A) Heisenberg was 50 years old in the first season. I'm about to turn 50 (next year)  In lunar calendar, I'm actually currently fifty, according to my mother.
B) Mild-mannered public school teachers. Mr. White taught high school chemistry. I (Mister Win) teach art in elementary.
C) I have a brother who's a cop (San Diego PD SWAT. Walter's brother-in-law Hank was with DEA)
 D) I've been married for 16 years, just like Heisenberg.
E) We wear the same eye glasses, seriously?
F) Before I got married, we used to own a house just a few blocks from the biggest meth lab in the state of Georgia. Found out about it 5 years later after we sold the house and moved away.
G) Finally, we both have the same exact annual salary of $43,000. It was mentioned in one episode. I did my income taxes last weekend. $43,000 on the dot. No shit.

Is it possible that Vince Gilligan the creator of the show based Heisenberg on me? The mind boggles...

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Ain't nothing to it, but to do it!

New Year's Resolutions. It's that time again. I'm a simple man so I will make these clear, concise and achievable.
  1. Run/Exercise every day.
  2. Practice Art.
  3. Drink H2O.
  4. Read more fiction.
  5. Be Mindful
  6. Make many new mistakes.
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.

So that's my wish for you, for all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing. Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever."
Neil Gaiman, 2008

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Be Water, my friend

"Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.
Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless-like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes a teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. BE WATER, MY FRIEND."  Bruce Lee

Monday, December 09, 2013

Journey of One Thousand Miles

"Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, 'I've never seen anyone run like that before.' It's more than just a race, it's a style. It's being creative."  ~ Steve Prefontaine

Hit 1000 miles for the year today on my run at the Silver Comet Trail

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving for teachers

 The Danielson Guide To a Highly Effective Thanksgiving

Unsatisfactory: You don't know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn't show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via Facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt tells your uncle where to stick the drumstick and a brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Falcons. 

Needs Improvement: You set the alarm, but don't get up and the turkey is undercooked. 3 children are laughing while you say grace. 4 of your nephews refuse to watch the game with the rest of the family because you have failed to offer differentiated game choices. Conversation during dinner is marked by family members mumbling under their breath at your Aunt Rose, who confuses the Mayflower with the Titanic after her third Martini.... Only the drunk guests thank you on the way out. Your team loses the game.

Proficient: The turkey is heated to the right temperature. All the guests, whom you have invited by formal written correspondence, arrive on time with their assigned dish to pass. Your nephew sneaks near the dessert dish, but quickly walks away when you mention that it is being saved until after dinner. You share a meal in which all family members speak respectfully in turn as they share their thoughts on the meaning of Thanksgiving. All foods served at the table can be traced historically to the time of the Pilgrims. You watch the game as a family, cheer in unison for your team. Go Chargers. They win.

Exceed: The turkey, which has been growing free range in your back yard, comes in your house and jumps in the oven. The guests, who wrote to ask you please be invited to your house, show early with foods to fit all dietary and cultural needs. You watch the game on tape, but only as an video prompt for your family discussion of man's inhumanity to man. Your family plays Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon and is thus able to resolve, once and for all, the issue of whether Oswald acted alone.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jolene...Just because

Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Im begging of you please dont take my man
Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Please dont take him just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, jolene

He talks about you in his sleep
Theres nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, jolene

And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you dont know what he means to me, jolene

Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Im begging of you please dont take my man
Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Please dont take him just because you can

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
Hes the only one for me, jolene

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, jolene

Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Im begging of you please dont take my man
Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Please dont take him even though you can
Jolene, Jolene.

(written and performed by Dolly Parton- 1973)

And here's a different of version, sped up and performed by
The Sisters of Mercy in 1983  (BBC Radio 1)

And finally, the "Slow Ass Jolene" 2012. 
Slowed-down but still sung by Dolly Parton.
This might be my new favorite version.

Until I saw this from The White Stripes (2008)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Art of Learning

~Learning is a Creative Process~

It's quite simple, really. Learning is a creative process. Children must be free to explore, to discover, to enjoy their learning as they grow and develop. Once you start measuring their performance and assigning value to the outcomes of learning the natural process is disturbed, hindered.

That's the problem with the business model, the factory mindset. This is why it's best to keep government and corporate leaders as far away from the classroom as possible. They want to measure everything, compare children to one another, compare teachers. Punish and reward.

That messes with teacher's and student's heads and hearts, it takes their minds off what they were reading, exploring, creating and enjoying and starts to get them to think too much about their performance, the "products" of their learning.

Creativity is destroyed, love of learning and curiosity disturbed. Which leads to pretty lousy outcomes in the long run. It's a paradox, really. There's nothing wrong with business and government leaders wanting creative and skillful citizens, but if that's the outcome you desire it's best to support the natural process that leads to it.

Give schools the support and resources they need, encourage teachers and students to be creative, collaborative, engaged and to share a love of learning together. Figure out how to provide equal funding for every school in the nation, how to reduce poverty and unemployment, that would help a lot.

Take a trip to Finland, see how they do things over there. Read some of Maria Montessori's writing, Carol Dweck's research on mindsets, Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences or Csickszentmihalyi's research on flow. Check out James Comer's child development project and educate yourselves on what conditions lead to deep and lasting learning.

Do a bit of reading and research, then go back to your boardroom meetings. Work on improving your own critical thinking skills. Try to figure out how to encourage greater innovation in your companies, to reduce poverty and keep the economy from crashing.

But please, stop trying to test and measure everything so obsessively. It's the adults encouraging destructive business strategies in schools that need to be evaluated and educated, not the children.

~Christopher Chase
The Art of Learning

Happy Teachers will change the world- Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What the world needs

"The world does not need more successful rich people. What the world desperately needs are more successful Peacemakers, Healers, Restorers, Storytellers and Lovers of all kinds."

Dalai Lama

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Kids Who Die" by Langston Hughes

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

by Langston Hughes

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Verdict: Epic Fail in Floriduh

We don't produce anything except for, you know, oranges and handguns.
--Carl Hiaasen, on Florida (Floriduh)

These murderers they always get away.  Dexter

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gay Day

"By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you married."
Six Feet Under

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Win-Nguyen Situation

You say it like it's spelled: "Nguyen." 
The N and the G are silent and combine to form a W sound. 
As for the U, it sounds more like an E. 
Also, ignore the Y and the E. 

"Nguyen." What's the issue?

Monday, June 17, 2013

La Musica

  • Mary Margaret O'Hara
  • Eva Cassidy
  • Bjork
  • Cowboy Junkies
  • Natalie Merchant
  • 4 NonBlondes
  • Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians
  • Mazzy Star
  • Lucinda Williams
  • Tori Amos
  • Garbage w/ Shirley Manson
  • The Breeders
  • Morcheeba
  • Lorde
  • tuneyards
  • Nouvelle Vague

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's 1984 all over again

 I ❤ the NSA. I heart Big Brother!

FYI: My neighbor's car tag expired. He also cheated on last year's income tax returns.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stranger Than Fiction

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it."
Henry Ford

I've been thinking today. Yeah, it's been a while since I do that. Haven't written anything in weeks.

Today marks the conclusion of my 11th year teaching art in an elementary school. Eleven!  My previous career lasted for about 11 years. I worked as a sound designer but mostly a theatrical sound technician/ engineer. Also in 11 more years I will be eligible to retire with the rule of 80 (age + years of service.) This is also the 11-year anniversary of this blog. No kidding! I started this thing when I was working part-time at the library. I love the number eleven.  "...These go to 11!"

My first full-time job out of college took me to Portland Stage Company in Portland, Maine. Twenty  three years ago right?  I remember walking down the street a week after I got there, and as I was in the crosswalk I saw this girl named Cinnamon (there are not many people in the world with that name) passing by me. She was the director for one of the student shows we did at UC Santa Cruz. I was stunned momentarily so I didn't get to say anything to her. After all, Portland was 3000 miles away from Santa Cruz, the place where we last saw each other. I thought of  the song "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

The thing about working in the "theatre" is you get to move around the country frequently, no matter how good or how nice or how dedicated you are. Especially for actors and designers. My first summer stock theater job was at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin. It's a beautiful rustic charming outdoor theater up the hill in the countryside. One weekend before the season started I ventured down to State Street (equivalent of Santa Cruz's Pacific Garden) on the campus of University of Wisconsin at Madison.  Lovely liberal progressive city with tons of coffee shops (this was before the Starbucks explosion), record stores, used book stores, five big lakes and great parks. I spent hours walking up and down that street just watching people, browsing books and magazines and listening to street musicians and drinking tons of java. Espresso, cappuccino, mocha, latte... I didn't drink alcohol back then. I only started having a beer or a glass of wine after I started teaching in 2002. I think my fellow educators can understand that completely.

Anyway, back to Madison, Wisconsin.  I can still smell that coffee shop's aromatic caffeine fragrance to this day. Grunge just began in Seattle and Nirvana recorded Nevermind at a local studio (Smart Studios) owned by Butch Vitch before his days with the band Garbage. Didn't know who the heck this Butch Vig was and I was sure not a fan of Nirvana at the time because their music was being played on top 40 radio ALL the time. Eventually I subbed for a DJ one late Sunday night (12-3 AM shift) on the community radio station WORT-FM. I dug Madison, this city was kinda like the Santa Cruz/ Berkeley of the MidWest, but not as culturally diverse, if you know what I mean. Then one day I saw another UCSC student on the other side of the street. I never knew his name, I just know that I saw him previously at Porter College and once in a while at the radio station KZSC-FM. Dude with long curly hair, dark clothing and always wearing shades. Could be a generic Goth in any city, USA? Nah, this was definitely him. I was certain.  Oh yes, Madison Wisconsin. Nick names: 77 square miles surrounding by Reality. The People Republic of Madison. A Drinking City with a College problem. Home office of American Family Insurance-that damn catchy jingle I hear on the Tee Vee all the time.

The next theater was Baltimore Center Stage in 1992. I was an electrician/ assistant audio engineer. This was the place where I met my wife. Kathy was a stage management intern.  We're still together 21 years later. Or as I thought about it, three decades (90's, 00's, 10's), two centuries (1900 & 2000) and two millennia. I was there in Baltimore, "the city that reads," for exactly one year. Because the next season I was hired as a sound engineer for the Dallas Theater Center. The production manager who hired me was another UC Santa Cruz alumni, Ben Thoron. We knew each other and had some undergrad classes together at UCSC. Ben went on to get his MFA degree at Yale School of Drama. He is a couple of years younger than me. Ben is now the Technical Director at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, America's finest city. There is my point about a career in the theater.
Me and Kathy in front of Baltimore Center Stage-19 years later

It's true about "everything is big in Texas." I had enough of that state after one short year in Dallas, "the Big D."  Kathy and I got back together in Smyrna, a city just outside of Atlanta, the city too busy to hate. I did odd jobs, quit theater, and went back to college to get my teaching degree. I got my second bachelor's degree. This time it's a B.S. at Kennesaw State. Even graduated summa cum laude. We moved several times after that, more like another ten times. We got married, bought a house, sold it, rented condo, duplex and different houses. Craigslist. Don't judge. Hard to believe but I've been here in the South for 19 years now. The longest I have lived anywhere.

Oh, the UC Santa Cruz connection continues. Around 1998, when I was still working at the Tony award-winning Alliance Theatre in Atlanta I saw another alumna, Juliette Carillo who was just in town to guest direct a show on the Main Stage. I did remember seeing her in a production of West Side Story about ten years back at our school theater department. Her dad Eduardo was an art professor and did a mural for the set design. I just started the theater program after switching my major from computer science-but that's another topic for another day. I talked to her briefly in the green room during tech one evening. Professor Carillo has just passed away recently so she seemed touched that I remembered him and told her what I thought of his artwork and the groovy times we spent at the University of California Santa Cruz.

These days I work with children. And I mean the students. School is officially out for the year as of today. Here are some ways I say good bye to them:
  • See ya later- Alligator
  • After a While- Crocodile
  • Take Care-Teddy Bear
  • So Long- King Kong
  • Good-Bye- Butterfly
  • Let's Scat- Alley Cat
  • Out the Door- Dinosaur
  • Chop Chop- Lollipop
  • Toot A Loo- Kangaroo
  • Adios - Amigos!
  • That's the End- My Friend!

Sunday, May 05, 2013


Tramps like us, baby we were born to run barefoot.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

Quatro de Mayo

Breaking News:

Scott Hamilton just came out as the first openly straight Male Figure Skater in the United States.

Guns & The NRA

Dear NRA,

Thank you but no thanks.
I am not a scared, paranoid, insecure, unstable lunatic.
So I just don't need or want your guns.
Save them for your little friends.

Up yours yourself.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shame Shame Shame

Shame on You!
These 45 U.S. Senators.

"Nice gun. Sorry about your penis." Someone said on Huffington Post 
I understand the scared white guy mentality, but what's with the 4 women and the lone black dude. C'mon Man!