Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ted Mosby is not a Nice Guy


Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother is not a nice guy. Façade-ing as a good guy searching for true love, Ted went out and dated and slept with girls after girls for at least a decade, then after a number of years, now spends another decade to “share” all of his exotic experiences with his teenage children. “This is the story of how I met your mother”, he said. “I slept with this girl and that girl, etc. including your aunt Robin whom I still have a crush on”, he might as well have said. Oh and, I’ll briefly talk about your mother at the very end so that we won’t feel so bad.

At one episode, Ted’s friends (I think it was Marshall) pointed out how on each gathering occasion, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, Ted would invite his girlfriend at that time to attend, she would be in the group picture, and never to reappear in the next one. How sad is that? How can we enter another person’s life, be a part of it, and then disappear (or in this case, make them disappear) forever? But good ole Ted did that, over and over. If someone spends some time to do some statistics, Ted may have slept with more people than Barney, the supposedly Don Juan of the group. In another popular show, The Big Bang Theory, Amy asks Penny if sleeping with 30 would constitute her as a slut. Well, respectfully, is our Mr. Mosby a slut? Probably not. He is a guy and our cultural perceptions on guys are different. But he must be a real big jerk.

Or so I thought.

I had this girlfriend Jenny from high school. We would be together everywhere. We weren’t just dating, we were good buddies. Now I look at the group pictures I had at the time, among our friends I would see myself, and I would see her.

Then we broke up and moved on. Still friends though, because being high school classmates is not something you can easily erase. Years went by, and one day I found myself gotten married with Arwen, another person who I met in high school, Jenny and I’s old classmate. But I couldn’t invite Jenny to our wedding: she’s my ex. And I look at the recent pictures when we went out to spend time with the old high school class, Jenny is not in them. I suddenly realize that she wasn’t there simply because we no longer dated, just like how she were in the older pictures simply because we were dating. I date someone and they are allowed to be in the pictures; I break up with them and they are no longer included.

Good Lord, I am just like Ted.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

How to Make a Seed Storage Box for Less Than $1


My wife Arwen started gardening this spring so I have had various requests to make her stuffs. A storage box for her to keep and organize plant seeds was quite easy to make. This project took me less than an hour and cost me pennies.

What You Will Need:

- A regular shoe box
- Extra cardboard boxes or pieces
- Some basic tools such as a box cutter, a ruler, a pencil, scissors, and some tape.






Step 1: Marking the Dividers



Use your pencil to mark where the dividers will be. Because the goal is for the seed bags to fit the slots, I would use the actual bag to help me gauge to make use that I would leave enough space in each section. In my case, I realized that I could just divide the shoe box equally into 4 parts sideway.


Step 2: Placing the Dividers




Cut the scrapped cardboard pieces into dividers. Trim their edges so that they can be placed in the box just right. Adjust as needed.


Step 3: Taping

This is the hard part. We are taping the dividers so they will stay in place. Here I use duct tape because it’s strong. Tape it on both sides.






To make it look prettier, we can use packaging tape, or apply a layer of craft paper over everything. I am just a ghetto husband so this is good enough. : )


And there you have it! Different seeds can now be organized and put away niftily! Thank you very much for reading this, and I’ll see you next time!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chuyện Tôi Thời Trẻ (P. 6) - Chuyện Viết Lưu Bút

Dạo này tự nhiên tôi nhớ về thời học cấp Hai.

Có thằng bạn kia học chung cấp Hai hồi đó tên là Phi Công*. Hôm nọ tự nhiên cậu ta post lên Facebook cái gì đó rồi tag tôi vào. Thì ra là trang lưu bút tôi viết cho Công vài trăm năm trước. Nhìn lại những điều nhảm nhí tôi viết cho bạn khi ấy, lòng tôi cảm thấy quá thật bùi ngùi.



Ngày xưa đi học có trò viết lưu bút, cứ đến gần cuối cấp lại viết. Tôi viết cho nhiều người, nhưng chẳng bao giờ có một cuốn lưu bút cho riêng mình.Mấy thằng con trai bọn tôi cho rằng có lưu bút là trò của tụi con gái, mình có bị …khùng đâu mà làm. (Làm con trai nhiều khi cần có thêm lòng can đảm để có thể làm những việc cần làm.)

Viết lưu bút cho người khác thì tôi viết khỏe lắm, ai đưa cũng viết tuốt luốt. Viết từ lớp 4 đến lớp 11, nhưng cấp Hai là viết nhiều nhất. Hồi cấp Một thì ai cũng viết rập khuôn như nhau có một kiểu ghi hoài, y như điền sơ yếu lý lịch để nộp cho nhà nước vậy. Chứ lúc lên cấp Hai thì tôi nhận ra viết kiểu vậy chán òm, phải riêng biệt, phải phá cách, phải tạo được dấu ấn riêng để còn thể hiện được là mình yêu ghét người ta thế nào. Thế là tôi tha hồ viết lách, vẽ vời, đôi khi còn… dạy đời, đủ kiểu. (Hổng biết có ai đọc lại rồi chửi mình hắt xì hoài cũng nên!). Đến lớp 9 gần lúc tốt nghiệp, tự dưng vài thằng con trai mà trước giờ phê phán chuyện có lưu bút với mình, giờ tụi nó cũng móc lưu bút ra đưa mình viết. Ủa, vậy là sao? Đồ... phản bội(!).

Bởi vì tôi nghĩ rằng điện thoại, email sẵn ra đó, cần gì sẽ gọi nhau, nhớ nhau thì sẽ nhắn. Đến một ngày nọ khi thằng bạn thân Hắc Long* và tôi giận dỗi gì nhau sau khi tốt nghiệp, rồi khi tôi tới nhà nó làm lành thì nhà nó đã chuyển đi nơi khác mà không ai biết. Facebook có vài ngàn “Hắc Long”: tôi đã mất đi một người bạn. Lúc đó tôi mới nhận ra rằng ở ngay giữa thời đại social media này, con người ta vẫn có thể bước qua nhau và đánh mất nhau mãi mãi, rằng nếu có một chút gì đó của nhau, thiêng liêng và nhảm nhí, để lâu lâu có thể nhớ về nhau thì thật đáng quý.

Tiếc là lúc ấy tôi chỉ là một thằng con trai không biết khôn sớm, để sau này phải tự chửi ngu chính mình.

(Tên nhân vật đã được thay đổi).

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chuyện Tôi Thời Trẻ (P. 5) - Chuyện Gọi Mày-Tao


Dạo này tự nhiên tôi nhớ về thời học cấp Hai.

Ngày bé tôi được dạy là gọi “mày-tao” với bạn bè là không ngoan.

Thế là tôi không nói “mày-tao” bao giờ. Các bạn học của tôi lên tới chừng cấp Ba là chuyển qua gọi nhau “mày-tao” hết. Ngay cả mấy đứa cấp Một, cấp Hai hồi đó toàn xưng “cậu-tớ”, khi đi họp lớp gặp lại nhau tự nhiên cũng “mày-tao” cả. Hay là các bạn rủ nhau đổi cách gọi từ hồi nào mà không thèm rủ mình?

Nhưng lúc cấp Hai tôi lại gọi “mày-tao” với Đại Đường*, cô bạn ngồi bên cạnh mà tôi yêu đơn phương hết lớn. Đường nói với tôi là người ta gọi “mày-tao” với nhau khi họ trở nên thân thiết. Ô kê, bạn nói vậy thì mình biết vậy. Thế thì Đại Đường à, …mày làm bài về nhà chưa đấy?

Từ đấy tôi nói “mày-tao”  với Đường một cách đầy cố gắng. Mỗi lần viết thiệp hay tin nhắn (bằng giấy), đầu tiên tôi sẽ viết hết ra nháp trước, rồi sau đó gạch bỏ “cậu-tớ” và thay bằng “mày-tao” dù điều đó làm cho câu cú trở nên kệch cỡm hết biết. Tôi khờ mà, đâu biết được khi bạn bè thân nhau thì sẽ gọi “mày-tao”, và khi họ thích nhau thì lại chuyển từ “mày-tao” sang “cậu-tớ”. Tôi cứ gọi “mày-tao” với người ta một cách đầy khí thế, và trong lòng thì trách sao người ta mãi không thèm thích lại.

Cũng vì Đại Đường mà tôi chẳng nói “mày-tao” với ai khác. Giờ tôi đã già khú đế và khi gặp lại bạn vè cũ thì được đối xử đặc biệt. Các bạn sẽ gọi “cậu” xưng “tớ” với tôi một cách dễ thương, rồi quay qua nhau nói chuyện “mày-tao” tỉnh bơ và đầy duyên dáng. Nhưng mà thôi kệ đi, đâu có ai đến nói với tôi là lớn tới chừng nào thì gọi nhau “mày-tao” là ô kê đâu?!


* tên nhân vật đã được thay đổi.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Scythe is NOT a Good Weapon


Recently I realized that there are things in life that we would take for granted, from little to great.
In Matthew 13, Jesus presented a parable of the wheat and tares:

The Parable of the Weeds
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

And later on when His disciples asked, Jesus explained to them:

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

And here I realized one tiny detail: the harvesters are angels”. Jesus portrays angels as harvesters – reapers. So the angel of death becomes the grim reaper, the harvester of the souls, and that’s why his/her weapon of choice is the scythe. And that’s why it’s mind-blowing to me.

I realized that there were obvious questions that I never had asked. Why death is symbolized as the “grim reaper”? Why not “fate tailor”, “life burglar”, or “soul destroyer”? Why is the weapon the scythe and not something more efficient? Surely scythes never were among the dominant battle tools in the history of war! No king ever said, “Prepare for battle! Have the scythes ready!” But I never wondered why. Maybe not many people did.

But now I know the answer. Such popular image of death was inspired by a short parable that Jesus told 2,000 years ago to a group of ancient Israelite red-necks.

Maybe there are other things in life that we don’t ever question. And maybe for many of them, the answer is God.


“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Some warm-up sketch for the new year. Here's to a laid-back 2017! I'll try to blog more often this year.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to Prepare a Low-Budget Wedding Altar


For our wedding, my wife and I decided to have the simplest, smallest one we could possibly get. So I tried to decorate the altar myself. If you are someone who is un-crafty and low-budgeted, this post would be a good reference.

Step 1: Scouting

I always want to make sure of what I have to work with, and the ideas will have to be built upon that. Our ceremony is at a park and out spot looks like this:



At this point, I have to figure out where exactly the groom, the bride, and the minister are going to stand, and also which path the bride will be walking.

Tips:
  • Because we do it outside, I have to think of plan B which it will rain.
  • After figure out what path the bride will be walking on, I literally walk on it at the leisure speed and time myself so that the music’ length can be appropriately adjusted. (Her walk was 50 seconds by the way).
  • For the longest of time, the park was empty but our wedding took place during the Pokemon Go hype, so we had many weirdos wandering everywhere catching pokemons which was unexpected. Luckily we had some scary-looking guest who prevented any intrusion.

Step 2: Designing/Sketching



First I sketch roughly the altar to figure out what sort of things I want to do with the spot.

Now I measure all necessary dimensions and write it down on my sketch. This would be a very good reference for me as I won’t have to keep coming back to the park to double check something.

Deciding what decors to go with can be time consuming. I google quite a bit to see what an altar looks like, what I want and can do to achieve my vision the closest.

Now that I have what I need in mind, I go shopping. (It’s actually not that bad!)

Step 3: Shopping

My rough list:
  • Some wooden sticks
  • Some crafting strings 
  • Some crafting paper sheets in different colors
  • A lot of tiny flowers
  • Some bundles of flowers
  • Rose petals for the bride’s walking path
  • Stuff like tape measure, hot glue, a pencil, etc.
Hobby Lobby has most of what I need, but they carry good-quality but therefore pricier stuff. I got the plywood and the strings there. The flowers and the construction paper sheets I got from Walmart. I got 2 bags of rose petals from Dollar Tree for $1.00 each. They are perfectly good to be stepped on.






Step 4: Preparing

First I use the construction paper to fold cranes and hearts. You want to use the colorful ones that mirror the flowers. So no black or brown or grey. If you cannot find Origami instructions for cranes and hearts, you certainly can cut the sheets into shapes – whatever shapes you like! The sizes need to be somewhat consistent, however.


I want the cranes and hearts to spread out evenly so I “map” them all out on a piece of paper.



Now I link them together and to the sticks by strings and make them stick with hot glue. When I’m done, I hang them up and wait for the glue to dry. It doesn’t take much time to dry at all.



Step 5: Putting up Decors

Since the altar is outside, I cannot put up the decors until right before the ceremony. You’ll want to set out 45-60 minutes for this activity in case something comes up you would have time to react.




Results

Things go together quite nicely! Unfortunately I didn’t have time to take any picture of the finished altar :( Bummer! Here are a couple pictures during the ceremony so you’ll have some idea.




Though it was low-budgeted and simplistic, our wedding was still so blessed and she still said “I do” so I’d say Mission Accomplished. By sharing this humble experience, we sincerely that it would help new couples on their altar-preparing endeavor no matter what kind of resources are available. After all, what’s in the heart that counts.