Thursday, July 31, 2008


Last week, I spent several hours with colleagues at work doing nothing but just hanging out, having fun. I work for a small company, and there are five of us developing a company product. Couple times a year we get together after work having fun, you can call it a camaraderie.

We share jokes, concerns, ideas and whatever come to mind. We talked about health (yes, we're at that age). John showed us how he recently found a cure for his nerve pinching pain, which had been with him for several years. Standing with two hands on the back of a tall stool doing steps only with the front portion of the feet. "I try to do this when I go out for a smoke, or just stand thinking. I can do 200 to 400 reps. No more pain, baby!" he said. Gene told us about the several operations he had to eliminate the pain in his back. The last operation he had, the doctor removed the old titanium bolts and replaced with better bracket to separate the joins in his spine. We all laughed when we heard: "And I asked the doctor to give me the old bolts", Gene proudly said. Gene is a handy man, he built the pool bar, the outdoor grill, all cabinets in his kitchen, and load of furnitures in his house. I suspect most of big & small appliances he can fix them himself. But I have no clue on what he's going to use these titanium spine bracket bolts. John jokingly said: "So, you are the kind of guys who wants the used parts back when taking the car in for repair, huh?". "Hell, yes! Show me the proof that you have replaced the bad part.", Gene replied. Gene keeps those old titanium bolts in a glass jar, as mementos I think. The titanium bolts last pretty long, they are strong and rust proof. My guess is those bolts would last even longer than most of us.

Looking at my friends, they are all experts at what they are doing: programing. They have many, many years of experience. Coding becomes their second nature. Sure, we're old, but our skills are not rusting or slowing down. Like those old titanium bolts in the jar. They could be replaced by newer and better bolts, which perhaps can pivot & twist, but as for the functions of the old titanium bolts; they still perform well just like the first day they were installed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mixed feelings

Only few more days Bảo will head off to Japan for two long weeks. It will be the first time for him to be away from home that long. And I am here having a mixed feelings, half excited and half worried. I am excited for he will see the world on his own. He will make decisions without any coaching. He will meet and make new friends, young and old, without parents interference. He will conducting himself in front of strangers without parents observation. But will he make the right decision at every turn? Will he feel content and confident with new friends? Will others accept and love him for who he is? Yes, I am worried.

For one week duration of each, there were few times that Bảo went to camp, attend seminar, worked as internship away from home; and every time I had similar feeling. This time, the feeling is much deeper, as if it grows proportionally to the distance and duration of where he will be. The mixed feeling comes up not only with Bảo, it happened to me when Thuỵ spent a week at University of Virginia last year as well. I keep asking myself: have I done enough of raising him, teaching him right and wrong, preparing him for the world, arming him with knowledges, experiences, and skills for anything throwing at him? There are so many things to teach, to prepare, to train before time runs out. His birthday reminds me of one year closer to that day. The day that I no longer able to teach him. When his mind no longer listens to my words. The feeling of that day is closing in makes me edgy. I want to pack lot of things into one long lecture, as if it's my final lecture. Yes, I realize that he does not like to sit & listen to my long lecture; but ... you see, time is running out; so I thought.

Writing these words reminds me of a saying: "If you do not trust your child, then when can your child become trustworthy? If you do not feel confident in your child, then how can your child ever be self-confident?" I guess it's time for me to step back. It's time for me to have confidence in Bảo, for he will make the right decisions on his own. It's time for me to put my trust on him, for he will conduct himself wisely in front of his friends and public. People will accept & love him for who he is, because he has been surrounded with love and care; for he has been raised with mixed feelings: excited & worried coming from me. Yes, I trust that he will feel excited to explore & learn new things. Moreover, I am confident that he will also be careful on every step that he makes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Potstickers and dumplings

I usually mix up between the two names, so what is the difference between dumplings and potstickers? The difference is how they're cooked. Potstickers are pan fried then steamed. Dumplings are just steamed to perfection.

Here are few of my favorite dumpling recipes:
As you notice, I do not include Bobby Flay's recipe, just because it has duck instead of pork or shrimp! And to me, that's just ain't right. I am unfair, I know.

China, China, and China

Because the Olympic is going to be in Beijing, China the Travel Channel is showing lot of shows with the destination in China, yeah, for the whole week! Last night, the Samantha Brown's Passport to China was followed by Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations which is also in China. As usual, Anthony's is packed with wits and tongue-in-cheeks narrations. But bizarre enough, watching both show back to back, they remind me of Andrew's Bizarre Foods. In Passport to China, Samantha tried deep fried star fish from a back-alley-street-food stand, and then she tasted the duck tongues in a popular restaurant. Anthony had goat's stomach, goat intestines, goat balls, and boat load of other undignified dishes which you would not want to touch if he knows of their origins.

As usual, Anthony paints a beautiful China cuisine picture with words: "the mother of all cuisines". It was funny that when Anthony was presented with a dish, mushy gray substance; being hungry, and trying to be culturally polite as well as the host of the show he chowed it down quickly. With broad smile, he gave the regular thumb up: "It's good!" The gray substance is the left-over soy bean paste, after the tofu was made, these are the left over and many have thought of nothing you can make out of it. However, when the local guide explain in Chinese accent: "You can't find this dish outside of Beijing!", Anthony smiled happily. The guide then followed: "because, outside of Beijing, people give these to pigs." The camera switched back to Anthony's face, and you can see his smile suddenly disappeared. He quickly went for his local drink and I wonder whether to wash that still lingered after taste, or he wants to push the food back down.