Posted in Culture

Ethnicity Tag

Ahoy there! A month ago, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting a new follower, Stephanie @ Roses and Brimstone – A Little Heart with Extraordinary Passion! She wrote about her cultural background in a post called Ethnicity Tag which was fun and fascinating for me to read.

She was curious to learn where I came from and linked where she got her questions: 50+ Ethnicity Tag Questions. (Fortunately for you, I will not answer all 50 of them!) The site describes the distinction between race and ethnicity.

A few days ago, mom expressed to me how she was afraid of me “losing my heritage” (which I will describe another day). Since there are some new folks here, I thought this blog post would dive into a bit of that and perhaps share a little bit about me!

1.Which ethnicity do you belong to?

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I am ethnically American and Vietnamese, and classified as Asian. I was born in Texas in the United States. My parents and my grandparents are from Qui Nhon, Vietnam, a beautiful coastal city. My 23&Me DNA results shows that my ancestors are from China/Vietnam region. 🙂

2. Which food represents your ethnicity?

There is such a variety in Vietnamese cuisine. Rice dishes are a staple. Pho is a famous dish that many people in America have had a chance to try. I keep mentioning it in past posts. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do so!

3. Which ethnic language are you perfect in?

Vietnamese is a tonal language and are distinguished by three main dialects which can be classified by region: North (Hanoi), South (Ho Chi Minh City), Central (Hue). Around 80 million people in the world speak Vietnamese and is in the top 20 most spoken languages. It has many Chinese and French influences. It used to written in Chinese letters, but now uses the Latin alphabet.

I wouldn’t describe it as perfect, but I spent a good chunk of my life studying the dialect from South-Central Vietnam. I can read, write, and speak it. However, I would consider myself at a limited proficiency level in Vietnamese. I am most fluent in English and enjoy the nuances of the language. I enjoyed studying English literature in college.

4. Do you have any ethnic name?

I go by many names: Sally, Lisa, but my ethnic name is Sa! Vietnamese parents typically like to name their daughters after lovely flowers or beautiful sentiments. It directly translates to silky gossamer. Combined with other other words, it can mean a host of things. (ie- kieu sa = lovely)

5. Which phrase of your ethnic language is your favorite?

  • Bạn khỏe không (Ban Kwe Khom) = How are you?
  • Cảm ơn (kahm uhn) = Thank you!

    The following proverb is something I enjoy:
  • Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn. = A day of travelling will bring a basket full of learning.

6. Which clothes represent your ethnicity?

On special occasions such as Vietnamese holidays and weddings, I wear the traditional, gorgeous ao dai. I love the new modern styles that are coming out! If you want to view the glitz and glamorous side of Vietnamese fashion that’s trending, you can watch a renowned variety show called: Paris by Night.

Marriage gown

7. Which drink represents your ethnicity?

A few distinctive favorite drinks that I grew up with are: jasmine/green tea, coconut juice, soybean milk, grass jelly drink, sugar cane drink.

8. Which specific jewelry represents your culture?

Popular pieces are typically made of jade or gold. Images of dragons, Buddhas, crosses are common. Some of my favorite cultural pieces include: earrings, beaded peace bracelets, necklaces.

My favorite American pieces are Pandora charm bracelets or floating charm locket necklaces.

9. Which sport represents your ethnicity?

Vovinam, Dragon dance, dragon boat racing, cow racing, wrestling

Vietnamese Vovinam – martial arts
Dragon boat racing

10. Which ethnic song do I often listen to?

I’m a sucker for Korean dramas. They’re humorous, heart-breaking, or soul lifting. I just finished this Chinese drama remake called Meteor Garden. Though I have some qualms about the series, I enjoyed it. This beautiful song is not Vietnamese, but lately I’ve been listening to the entire soundtrack on replay.

Posted in awareness, Concepts, Technology, Volunteer Experiences

IBM World Community Grid

Hello everyone, hope you are well today! Inspired by a post I read on Tony Burgess’s post, “The Thing About: The Virus“, I thought about various efforts to help find a cure and treatment for COVID-19.

IBM’s World Community Grid allows anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet to donate their unused processing power to advance scientific research on various topics ranging from health, poverty and sustainability. I’ve been a member for several years. It’s neat when I take a step away to eat lunch or a jog, my computer is playing a part in helping perform calculations for AIDS research.

You can learn more about their current projects here: Active Research
You can learn more about their program here: About

Posted in Culture, Events, flashback, Music, Quotes

The Importance of Play: A Mysterious Lion Captivates

As we grow older, our playgrounds change – where do you go to play?

Shelley @ Quaint Revival
Created a word cloud with Background Image from Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Hello there! Hope you are all well and safe!

Shelley’s quote peaked my interest today. How often do we neglect this area of our lives dismissing play as being infantile and frivolous? Throughout history, many influential people asserted the importance of play.

  • Albert Einstein: “Play is the highest form of research.”
  • Mr. Rogers: Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.”
  • Johan Huizinga: “Culture arises and unfolds in and as play.”
  • Abraham Maslow: “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”
  • Roger von Oech: Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.

Play relieves stress by releasing feel-good endorphins. It improves connections with your relationships which can help ward off depression. Play helps increase vitality and helps replace negative beliefs and behaviors. For adults it can be something small like flirting with your partner, joking with your coworkers, or enjoying spontaneity with your relatives.

A Young Adult’s Playground

There are patterns which emerge in one’s life, circling and returning anew, an endless variation of a theme.

Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Chosen

A few days ago, I received a gift in the mail. As I unwrapped the box, I was stunned by the beauty of “Mysterious Lion”, a wooden Unidragon puzzle. I found out my thoughtful siblings mailed it to me as a surprise for my birthday. Mom called the night before and laughed when I told her I received a “toy”.

My eyes got watery. Unintentionally, the gift was rather meaningful and symbolic for me. VJ invited her readers to think about circling this week. For me, the invitation to play again was coming back full circle. I remembered the joy I felt to complete a puzzle as a child. Even though it’s been a while since I physically completed one, I was always attracted to things resembling a puzzle. Circling around the idea of solving a mystery.

My heart swelled a bit when my Facebook wall was flooded with lovely messages from local friends. It’s a strange sight to behold since I’m typically not active there. Since the quarantine however, all sorts of groups popped up to hang out. I had trouble choosing a non-profit to invite donations this year. So, I created a short video featuring non-profits that help the local community to drum up support.

Google Arts and Culture partnered with more than 2000 museums all around the world. I virtually explored some of these spaces and their exhibits. In the evening, I watched Verdi’s opera, Un Ballo de Maschera, a free nightly streaming at the Metropolitan Opera.

I had a very small gathering to celebrate in my cozy home. My roommates created a tasty meal of BBQ ribs, asparagus, mashed potatoes, ambrosia salad, chocolate cake with coconut-pecan icing. My boyfriend helped me build a desk as we enjoyed chatting with one another. My friend gave me hilarious t-shirts, Hawaiian floral hair clips, makeup which I’ll probably feature soon on Instagram.

Creating this banner made me feel pretty happy and features my bright personality. 😉 Sometimes it’s the little things that can bring a smile to your face. 😊

Posted in flashback

Happy Mother’s Day! Open Letter to Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! What a time to be a mom! I wrote an open letter to mom this year:

Dear Mom,

There’s really no one like you.

I mean, who else tickles my feet at 5am just to get a head start on the day? You tell me that there’s so much to learn, to explore, and to do! I’ve learned how precious time is and just how much can be accomplished within the 24 hours.

You are a beacon of strength and resilience with steadfast convictions, unwavering belief and faith in spite of fear. You are an outspoken straight shooter which used to fluster me, but at least I knew what was on your mind.

Your astounding generosity is shown in all the little things you do. All the meanwhile, you can be a mischievous prankster just to keep me on my toes. There’s never a dull moment! I miss your inquisitive interjections during movies we watch.

If you really wanted to do something, you don’t wait for other people to get on board with you. You just do it! A powerhouse. A busy bee. I’ll never forget the day when you wanted to go shopping, I didn’t get ready fast enough, and you actually left me in the dust. >_<

You and dad always believed that great opportunities don’t come everyday, so you recognize and seize them with every chance you get. You create opportunities by teaching yourself.

You always made me feel beautiful inside and out even when I didn’t always feel like it. You never let me rest on my laurels and always challenge me to reach higher for the stars. You taught me to experience things out of my comfort zone because that’s where some of the most rewarding things in life happen.

You inspire me even with all your imperfections. You’re a super heroine. Have a relaxing Mother’s Day, Mom. It’s okay to have some downtime. 🙂

Love,
Sa

Posted in Uncategorized

#Metaphorical Poem- A Dessert-filled Morning

Good morning everyone! Inspired from an episode that I watched from the Food Network Star, I created this metaphor to symbolize the all the great experiences that I have checking out your blogs. I wrote this poem back in January 2018, but it’s been sitting in my draft box for a long time.

Dverse Poets : Meet the Bar- Creating a Metaphor

Salted Caramel’s Blogger’s Coffee Morning

Blogs on WordPress
are the countless types of desserts
on the buffet of life
Matcha Green Tea Cake
Coconut Creme Pie
Sinfully Chocolate Brownie
Angel Vanilla Cake
Pistachio Nut Pudding
Sour Lemon Tart
Raspberry Kolache
Fortune Cookie
Sitting on a plate looking delectable
Various guilty pleasures
Some may delight the senses
You may be allergic to others
Blending in with your morning
tea, coffee, juice, or milk
Each one delivers a unique experience

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Posted in Uncategorized

Hack Into the Deadline – A2Z Reflections on Niches and Motivations

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

On the one hand, I like deadlines. Its existence spurs me to action.
On the other, I don’t like them. It forces me to make sacrifices and prioritize decisions.

What did I end up sacrificing this past month? 
Time with my blog 
Heart was willing. To-Do's ever so increasing. Energy was waning. 
Out of all things, why does it have to be something that brings me joy?
Life doesn't make sense at times.

This year’s A-to-Z blogging challenge was a bust! I truly wanted to explore these topics more in depth! In the past, I was very spontaneous with my prompts and wrote whatever I was in the mood for which was surprisingly quite successful.

A2Z Survivor? Hardly (at least not for April)! Below features all the topics I wanted to write about this past month. I’ll certainly save them for later! I’ll probably change this blogging challenge month-long sprint into a year-long marathon.

a - Axolotl 
b - Burj al Arab
c - Ciselure
d - Dogme 95 
e - Entremets
f - Fallingwater
g - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
h - Hanno the White Elephant
i - Isicathamiya
j - Juggernaut
k - Krampusnacht
l - La Tomatina
m - Michael Jackson's Manifesto
n - Neottious 
o - Orlov Diamond
p - Paisley Underground
q - Qasida
r - Rose Trellis Egg
s - Songkran / Shibuya-kei / Sagrada Familia
t - Trumpets of the Martians
u - Umbilicanimism (American Beauty)
v - Viking Metal / Venetian Mask
w - Wonky Pop
x - Xuan Calligraphy Paper
y - Yag (Carmen San Diego Fanfiction)
z - Zen Manifesto

On top of that, I started a separate blog about project management for school thinking I could juggle another challenge…simultaneously! That was a certainly a no-go. I did manage to write about how AI is helping Save the Ghost of the Mountain. A pat on the back for something launched!

These overall reflections of my recent A2Z experience leads me to think about a question that Dr. Tanya asked sometime back in February.

Do you have a niche?

– Dr. Tanya, Blogging Insights #18

Do you have a niche for your blog? If so tell us more about it.
I think it would be visual storytelling – I called my blog Culture Shocks to focus on sharing my reactions to new cultural experiences. I wanted to undergo great periods of growth, and jarring experiences would help me stretch outside my own boundaries and meet new people.

At the very least, it would attract those who relish in new adventures and seek novel experiences because variety is the spice in life. I figured I would have plenty of fresh content so long as I didn’t pigeon-hole myself as to how I conveyed these experiences to my audience.

Have you ever thought of niche-ing down and why?
Yes, plenty of times! I think it gives me great purpose to be intentional about the audience I would be writing for who is serious about reading your content. It would motivate me to write even when I may not always feel like it because I wouldn’t want to let them down. I actually found old blogs I wrote years ago before Culture Shocks:
2009 – Trash to Treasure Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects
2012 – Exploration into World Literature
2012 – Confessions of a Parapsychologist Assistant

At the time, I thought it was just easier having separate audiences for vastly different topics. I felt like if I could focus on a particular niche, then I might be more prolific. It’s difficult to write regularly for separate blogs and maintain different brand personas. Even while doing this challenge, I thought to myself, “Gee, wouldn’t it be easier to explore deeply about one topic rather than write from five categories?”

If you chose just one as your niche, how much would you miss writing about the others?
Too much! There’s times where I feel like a skimmer rather than a diver. Though I do wonder: If I chose a niche, perhaps I can tie those topics with something unrelated and find some point of commonality which can provide a new angle on an established topic.

After Dr. Tanya’s question, Fandango shared a provocative question that also made me reflect:

As a blogger, what makes you tick?

– Fandango, FPQ #67

What DID make me write today in the midst of my busy life? My last post was 2 weeks ago. I just finished working on a rigorous 3-month long project for work this morning. Safeguarding my sanity meant encasing myself in a bubble. My supervisor and CEO said to me, “It’s time to take a well-deserved break!”

I take such a deep breath, I didn’t realize how much oxygen I missed. I realize I blog when I want to chat about something, but I don’t really share in public. I can share random trivia tidbits without worrying about wasting other people’s time.

I look over to my left and my eyes fixate on my cute, whimsical owls, and my thoughts drifted into how I missed my whimsical blog. I once read a journal article titled:

The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus

Hiroshi Nittono, Michiko Fukushima, Akihiro Yano, Hiroki Moriya

I’m exhausted. I almost don’t want to stare at a screen. Yet, I miss the people in this community and want to stay close the proverbial campfire. While eating some ambrosia salad, I wrote this poem below with intertwined quotes:

Take a Deep Breath. 

Do you know the feeling that DEADLINES induce?
Future date unmistakably marked
Yet, why does it feel imaginary?
Why doesn't iit feel as real as The Present?

Deadlines just aren’t real to me until I’m staring one in the face.

― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief
Deadline looms around the corner
Like a shadow in a dark alley
Skin tingles. Hair prickles.
Its impending presence

…grind us to the lowest depth of subjugation…

– William Williston Heartsill, Diary of William Williston Heartsill (entry Mar. 1863)
Everlasting companions: Anxiety, Stress, Exhaustion
Gradually creep into one's well being
Despite Deep Breaths' attempts to squash its vitality,
Lassoing the infamous Trio proves quite difficult

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12
Calling in for reinforcements
Spiro-meters are important
To measure the shortness of breath, but to tackle it?
A Blessing Counter. A Kindness Barometer. A Playfulness Gauge.
Maybe, a flexible Salvidor Dali's clock
Or... a Clock that breaks quite often
So that you can take a break along with it.

Focusing on the act of breathing clears the mind of all daily distractions and clears our energy enabling us to better connect with the Spirit within.

– Author Unknown
Not ready to receive my comeuppance
Deadline taps me on the shoulder
Delivers the final pummeling blow
Just as quickly as It arrived
It was gone in a flash and left without a trace.

Breathe deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite.

– D. Antoinette Foy
Posted in Concepts, fiction, Nature, Photography

#A2Z – Director’s Dilemma of Dogme 95 (fiction)

“CUT!!!” Director Cavanaugh acerbic voice sliced through the air.

Buzzing with energy from the two cups of coffee he drank, he chewed on his pen cap as he witnessed an interesting snapshot on his screen. It was linked to an underwater videographer’s feed. A fish inside a jellyfish! Could he turn this bizarre moment into a symbolic story left to the audience’s interpretation and imagination? The fish’s expression says it all. The gears were turning in Cavanaugh’s head

Try as the little fish might to direct its own path, the jellyfish will inevitability drag the fish wherever it pleases. Realizing its loss of autonomy, the fish’s eyes bug out in horror!

Image Credit: Tim Samuel

Cavanaugh wondered if he was insane for trying out an ambitious experiment after a period of hitting the doldrums. He was inspired by some prize-winning photos in a BBC article that he was browsing.

Image Credit: Anita Kainrath, from Austria, won Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year with Shark Nursery, showing baby lemon sharks in a mangrove in the Bahamas.

He wondered if he can authentically capture a live stream story letting the animals share their own stories. He was fascinated by their behavior. He couldn’t direct the animals, but then it wouldn’t really matter since his name wouldn’t be credited. During his time in film school, he was intrigued by a film movement founded in 1995 by Danish director Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. They wrote a manifesto called Dogme 95. The “rules” were as follows:

The question is… can he stick to the rules?

Posted in Uncategorized

#FOTD- Rose Blossom & Easter Musings

#FOTD- 4-12-20– Yellow Rose

Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.”

SD Gordon

Happy Easter everybody! For me, it’s a lovely season commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his greatest sacrifice, his crucifixion. I loved seeing all the communities’ photos of cute bunnies, delicious meals, blooming gardens, adorable children, smiling selfies, decorative eggs, dancing, singing, beautiful spring fashions, hugs, and absolute pure joy flooding my morning!

This past Holy Week has been unlike any other. It’s been a period of reflection, finding the light within as darkness looms. Pope Francis shares, “Creativity of love can overcome isolation”. An outpouring of love from people of all backgrounds has been shared around the world despite social distancing.

Cybersecurity doesn’t take a break. Thankful for my new raise during my 6-month evaluation at work, I decided to give back by donating Doctors Without Borders as my time to volunteer has been limited. Health systems all around the world are taking a battering, and healthcare workers are working tirelessly around the clock. Thank you health heroes. Thank you supermarket employees, food service & utility workers, first responders, delivery drivers, who are also on front lines.

“May we be a people who learn to grieve deeply from within our souls and find comfort in knowing that of one thing I am perfectly sure, God’s story never ends with ashes.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Have a wonderful Easter! Enjoy the precious moments!

Posted in Culture, fiction, Quotes

#A2Z- The Ciselure Shop (fiction)

The chimes on the door clanged. A portly gentleman dressed in an olive-green tweed suit just entered Vpyshit’sya, a small shop nestled within a mountain village of Dzembronya, Ukraine. Novak took a burgundy handkerchief from out of his breast pocket, and wiped the dust off his gold rimmed glasses. He breathed a sigh of relief that he arrived in one piece as the foggy weather made safety of the travelling conditions questionable.

After taking a quick glance inside, he decided to walk around the shop quietly studying the craftsmanship of the metal pieces that were on display. He displayed a keen perspicacity in recognizing quality pieces. He heard about this shop as he chatted to the barman last night. Ukraine was well known for a variety of metal and wood carvings.

He was immediately enthused by the diversity of products he found: unique jewelry that was encased by glass display boxes, brass Viking shields that hung on the walls, intricately engraved kitchen knife sets, engraved metal wall decor.

He slowly found his way to the check out desk in the back of the shop. He noticed a young lady diligently working in the back room. Sophia’s family has been in the ciselure business for five generations. Her family taught her everything they knew, and precocious Sophia became a young master in the craft. She was inspired by a few techniques from a video she watched.

She was finishing up an jewelry box for an exhibit held at the Metal Working International Trade Fair in Kiev, the capital. She was looking forward to learning new things in metallurgy and the innovative tools in metal industry.

Novak cleared his throat, “Excuse me, mam. I was told that you can create metal designs for a wide variety of things.” Sophia broke from her trance, got up from her workstation, and walked towards the man. He took out a wooden box from his bag, and set it on the table.

“Careful now, there’s a golden pocket knife I would like to engrave for my son. It’s his birthday and there is something I would like to inscribe.” He took out a note for Sophia to read:

My son, take time to sharpen your skills, your tools, your resources, and you’ll be more productive. Much love, Novak

Image Credit: Pixabay

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