Tag Archives: technology

A Time Lapse of Time


A Conversation with My Head (Updated Version)

Dogs bark.

Chickens cluck.

Cows moo.


And how do you know that? You know because someone has told you so. You might know what the animals do, but you don’t know what to call their actions. If you think about it, someone would have to come up with names for these actions. Then by repeating them enough times, people believe that it is normal for animals to do these actions. Imagine hearing someone says:

Dogs moo.

Chickens bark.

Cows cluck.

What would you think? Perhaps like this: “Ey, you there!!! You get it all wrong. Dogs don’t moo, cows don’t cluck, and chickens don’t bark!” 

You think that person is wrong, because it is not right. It is not what everyone has agreed upon. But to some people, your normal seems strange. In this world, there is a small portion of the population that can’t hear, see, or speak.


 –you may ask.The mute doesn’t speak. The blind doesn’t see. And the deaf doesn’t hear.

Why say such obvious things?”

Because that means if the mute knew cows moo, they could say it. The blind can hear “mooooooooo” yet, could they have known cows do that? The deaf can only see the cows’ mouth moving, but they would hear no thing.

“What are you getting at?”

–Well, language is a way of communicating. It seems normal. It seems easy. But it is an extremely complicated and complex system. It’s not just sound. And it’s not for everyone.

Have you ever ask a child to describe something to you?

Or have you ever played the game Taboo?

Or have you ever walked into a very dark room, and try to navigate yourself without knowing what is in front of you?

Sometimes, language consists more than just words. They are actions, motions, guesses, and whole bunch of other things.

“You are boring!”

Okay, then let’s play a game with me. See if you can win. I will blindfold you, and then I will ask someone to give you something (maybe an object). You will have to describe it to me. I will guess what it is. No peeping.









Ready?–“Yes”–Okay, begin!

“Hmmm. I don’t know. This feels cold. Not too heavy. Uhm. Maybe plastic?”

–You need to be more specific!

“I’m trying. Let’s see! You can open it up. There is glass. A rubber part. Some buttons. Can you guess what it is? I think I know what this is.”

You can’t tell me. Your job is to describe, my job is to guess.

What do you think this is?





Okay, let’s move on to the next game. I am still blindfolding you, but I will walk you into one of my rooms. You will have to guess what room you are in, and try to navigate yourself out. I will be watching! Ready?

“Shouldn’t be that hard! Let’s do this!”






“Woa. This is dark. Ouch! I think I just hit a table. Wait! This isn’t a table. What is this. Hmm. Glass. Is it a mirror? Wait, there is something next to it. Fluffy, smell good. Is this your closet?”


No, no, you are not in my closet! You won’t even have space to move in there, let alone walking around. C’mon. Explore!


“I know what this is. This is small enough to be a picture frame. Hmm. Drawers. What are those? Sleek. Ahhh. Books. Must be your shelves. OUCH! I just hit something again. Seems like heavy metal. Table? Rough surface. Cold. Do you have a safe in here?”

–Nah. I don’t have much to put in a safe. I think a box under my bed is good enough. You are such a chicken. You only move a few feet and already whining.

“Why don’t you try this? It’s not easy to walk blind!”

–Now, you see what I mean about the blind. You can’t quit yet. Do a better job!

“Who said anything about quitting? I can hear a clock ticking. That clock is somewhere behind me. Ah, a rug.”

How do you know it’s a rug?

“Well, it feels soft on my feet, and not cold like when we were out there on the tiles. Plus, this doesn’t feel harsh like a doormat. What else you put on the floor that could feel like this?”

I don’t know, maybe my sleeping bag? It feels just like you describe. Anyways, so can you tell me yet what room you are in?

“I think so. It’s…”

What do you think the room is?






Now you see what I mean? Even for a person like you, when your sight is limited, you still had a hard time figuring things out yourself, let alone letting someone to understand you. You can speak. You can use words to describe what things feel like to you. You rely on me knowing the same things to figure out what you say. But not everyone is like that. Sometimes what you see is not what I see. You see blue, but I don’t see that shade of color because where I stand would get a different reflection of light. Language is not absolute. Like everything else. Nothing is absolute. So the next time, you hear me say I hear my dog moos. Don’t laugh! Maybe that’s what the dogs do. They moo. And somewhere in the course of history of language, we just end up associate “mooing” with cows.

You know, maybe. Just maybe. Like I said, nothing in this world is absolute.

A Month Without Sight

IMG_1199IMG_1189IMG_1192IMG_1190IMG_1191I couldn't see foodIMG_1193IMG_1194IMG_1197IMG_1196


IMG_1198food description


Here is the photo of the actual dish:

Bu'n mam

Bu’n mam


The photos are hand-drawn using Paper, and edited using Procreate and Art Studio.

Sound and Emotions

ATTENTION READERS: Below you will find a very boring introduction to the second version of sound object. If so, please go straight to where it says: “Start reading here…”! ENJOY!

This blog is my revision for the sound object of my portfolio. Like my peers have reviewed, this media object seems a bit different that what I have been doing for my other media objects (text and image). Thus, changing the platform to host this object is my hope to explain how this is playing into what I have been doing.

The first version of this was posted on Sound Cloud. It is a very good website to post and share music/audio recording. However, it doesn’t really give much space to elaborate on the background of one’s audio file. Since I didn’t know to put for the title of my first version, it was very generic. Without an appropriate title, one finds it hard to understand the purpose of the audio file since sound is quite abstract in its own right.

One of my peers have suggested to use WordPress to help audience understand better the purpose of the song. She mentioned that WordPress has the option to post audio object. Here is my second version:

You won’t find much difference between the two versions, except for minor enhancement and the cut-out of the clapping at the end. My reason to cut out the clapping even though it was a live performance is because I want the audience to focus on the song.


For my other media objects, I have always been focusing on having a physical disadvantage in perceiving information (e.g. loss of sight). For this sound object, I am doing something similar. However, this time I am focusing on social disadvantage rather than a physical disadvantage. Although they both seem to be the same thing, in my opinion.

How on Earth are they the same?–I am not saying they are exactly the same, but to hear something and not understanding what it means is quite similar to deaf. OR or or or………as this sound object is trying to prove, even if you can’t understand the literal meaning of the words being spoken/sung, you still could find yourself feeling something for the music.

Before reading on to the next section, please make sure you have already listened to the song completely.

This song was recorded live at Le Cat Trong Ly’s performance. She is a famous Vietnamese singer. Her songs are famous for thought-provoking, or good to listen to if you are in mood for contemplating about life.

Le Cat Trong Ly

I recorded this song at one of her mini-concerts. I wanted to show how the acoustic instruments are playing together with the sound of her spoken words to create the emotions/feelings that you have. As my peers have said, the song gave them the feeling of loss, or just a sad feeling in general. Are you also feeling the same way?

Below, you will find the lyrics of this song, and my best possible translation (or you could choose to use Google Translate). You might find the translation hard to understand, but that’s how her lyrics are. You could find her performance of this song on Youtube.

I hope after reading the lyrics, you could compare your feelings with those before. To see if the feelings are the same. Because we all know reading and hearing the same thing does not necessarily give you the same feelings.

Như Là (It feels like) – Lê Cát Trọng Lý

Như là người đến thưa tội Like one that has come to confess
Trăm tội, có tội chưa hay? Hundreds of sins, guilty or not?
Như là lòng hết mong đợi Like the heart that has long given up
Mong gì? Bất diệt nơi đây?! Waiting for what? Immortality in this place?

Như là mình đã chết theo thời gian Like I am dead with time
chết theo cơn mê này Long dead in this delusion
Như là mình đã chết đi tình yêu, vì u mê Like my ability to love is dead, due to illusion
Như là mình chết theo thời gian Like I am dead with time
Chết theo cơn mê này Long dead in this delusion
Như là lòng đã chết đi mùa xuân… Like the Spring has died in my heart

Như là lòng hết âm thầm Like me no longer being silent
Ơ hờ đêm hội mưa ngâu Negligent in the festivity of the rain
Như là lòng chẳng u sầu Like myself no longer feel sad
Vui buồn câu chuyện nhân gian Happy or sad about people’s stories
Như là mình đã chết theo thời gian Like I am dead with time
Chết theo cơn mê này Long dead in this delusion
Như là lòng đã chết đi tình yêu, vì u mê Like my ability to love is dead, due to illusion
Như là mình đã chết theo thời gian Like I am dead with time
Chết theo cơn mê này Long dead in this delusion
Như là lòng đã chết đi…Like I have been dead
Như là mình đã chết đi…Like I have been dead
Như là lòng đã chết đi tình yêu…Like my ability to love is long dead

A Month Without Sight

When I was around 10 years old, I had an acute problem with my eyesight. The problem was so bad, but too novel for the medical doctor I was seeing back then, he had no idea what to do. So he suggested to my father that I should be blind for about a month. The intention was that I would not be using my eyes, thus, they would get a chance to rest, and perhaps heal on their own. The risk was that I might stay blind forever. So it was 50/50 percent chance. The procedure was relatively easy: the doctor would use a special kind of eye-drop, and Poof! Sight was gone. It got my father thinking, then they all decided to do it when the summer came (no school, no need for me to use eyes). Note here, I had no say in this decision because I was 10 years old.

Dr. AppointmentAs a child, I was dreaded. But it was not so much about the probability of going blind forever. It was the idea of doing nothing during summer. Yes, the priority of a child was somewhat different from an adult, I guess.

Life without sight

Since I couldn’t see anymore, I started to rely on my other senses. Thinking back now, it was a very different experience.

Missing out the fun?

I was a big book reader. I loved watching TV. Then there was my beloved dog. But all I could do was to sit there and listen. I remembered hearing people chatting. I remembered feeling the stack of books and comics piling up waiting for me. I remembered the sound from the TV during my favorite shows. And I remembered my fluffy super cute dog wanting me to play with him. The first few days was depressing. But do you know what the best thing about being a child? You adapt fairly quickly to the situation. I still could touch my dog. I understood what was going on based on the conversations. The context wasn’t to see anymore. It was to hear. I didn’t miss any of my favorite shows. I still knew which characters were doing what and where.

I still had to go to summer school although I got special treatment. I didn’t have to do homework. I just had to be in class. But it wasn’t that much fun.

Talking to friends

Not all of my friends knew I had to go through the treatment. So during playtime, they would just come and talk. They asked me why I suddenly started to write dinosaur-size letters when copying down notes in class. Perhaps they wondered, too, why I didn’t have to do my homework. As a child, I didn’t know how to explain my situation. All I could say was, “because I couldn’t see.” And they would tell me, “go get new prescription” for my glassess. Easy.

However, the hard part was to recognize people from their voices. Not every kid is going to talk to you and announces his/her name before the conversation. On the bright side, they are kids. They don’t get offensive if they wave at you, and you don’t wave back. They just come running to you and ask why you are not replying.

Then there was problem with eating. Although I was not a big food lover back then, eating still was hard.

I couldn't see food

That was how I saw things during the treatment. Perhaps when I said “blind,” you imagined “darkness.” Not in my case. I still could see everything, but nothing. It was just a big blur. It was like you are short-sighted, and wear heavily prescribed eyeglasses. Then someone knocks off your eyeglasses. That is the closest thing I could think of for you to imagine.

Back to eating. Although relying on my other senses was good enough to get me pass through things, I think it would be a lot harder if I couldn’t speak. Since I couldn’t see my food clearly, I didn’t know what was in front of me. I sniffed things out to understand what it was. I was a very picky vegetable eater back then, and somehow, my parents thought this was a perfect time to trick me into eating the healthy ones I hated to eat. So, it went like this: if I would like eating that, they would pick it, put in my bowl. Then I would ask what that was, and they would explain.

Dad explaining food

Seems simple. But it wasn’t. When I sniffed it, it smelled differently from what they told me. And sometimes it tasted good, and sometimes, I knew I was tricked.

When the time was almost up, I started to get clearer vision of things. When I could see things absolutely clear, we went back to the doctor for evaluation. I was in the 50% chance of gaining back the sight. I was lucky. Although my eyes problem didn’t go away completely, the experience did teach me a thing or two. Yet, I didn’t even realize what it taught me until later on.

One of the problem that still persists is colors. I don’t see them the way a majority of people see them.

dr frustration

I can tell you that I see the difference in shadings, but back when my doctor re-evaluated the treatment, oh man, he was frustrated. I just collapsed any shade into the closest color I thought it was. Perhaps, as a kid, it was explainable. I didn’t have enough vocabulary to explain to the doctor the difference. Perhaps, with time, I would learn to describe the colors better. Nah, that was their conclusion. I really couldn’t see the colors the way you see. I describe them to you as I see them. I am not color-blind. I just see them in a shade or two different from you. But, now, I have learnt to adjust my answer to fit with what you see. However, when there is a new color that I have not registered in my brain yet, you will think I am silly for saying a different color name.

I have always been thinking back about this experience. It shows me that the world around me is built for a majority. There is a minority of people that couldn’t see, hear, or speak (besides other “disadvantages”). I used to think I was weird, but then I have learnt to consider myself as “different” (in a good way). I get to go through life a little bit different from you. However, thinking of all the others that are “different” permanently throughout their life, I don’t know if I could say the same. At least I could ask when I couldn’t see. At least I could hear when things were super blurry. Some don’t.

Lets me try something with you. I will show you a picture of my favorite dish. I will describe it to you. Then you tell me in the comment below if you want to try it, all based on my short description. I will do it my parents’ style.

This is what you see:

blur bunmam

The description:

food description

Translation (in case you need it): “It tastes like fish. You know. Like fish-sauce. Little salty. But sweet. The soup is very tasty. There is shrimp. Squid. BBQ pork chop. Fat vermicelli. You can eat with cilantro, salad, sprout, and a few other vegetables. You want spicy, but chillies in there.”

Tell me now if you want to taste this?

Wonder what it looks like when you gain your sight back?

Bun mam


The photos are hand-drawn using Sharpie pens, the app Paper by fiftythree, Procreate, and Aviary. Pictures are taken with Iphone.

Doraemon- The love that never gets old

Since I was doing a class on comics and their principles regarding form, content, and other visual elements; I am compelled to write about my all time favorite manga (Japanese comic) Doraemon, and the technologies that still relevant in today world.


I think comic still thought of a child thing. Yet, comic fans would disagree with you. There are deep themes, and many other fascinating things inside a comic that other literature forms couldn’t express. Given this manga series was first introduced to the public in 1969, the ideas in this series are well alive today. Doraemon never ages, and never dies–in all sense possible.

Doraemon was first translated, and published in Vietnam around 20 years ago. I felt in love right away the first time I picked up this one when I was around 5 or 6 years old. Author Fujiko F. Fujio is a genius. He has given kids to adult not only a great fun, memories, and also beliefs in the awesomeness of future technology.

Distance–something that the human kind has spent a great amount of knowledge, money, and time to research for the best possible technology that brings people close together: from a train, a plane, a mobile phone, to a possible kinetic machine not so far in near future (hopefully). Yet, physical distance still doesn’t get that much closer for people living half way around the world from each other- a twenty something hours of sitting on the plane, accompany by jetlag, custom lines, and luggages–nah doesn’t sound so good.

Yet, Mr. Fujio has thought of a better way for us all:

Doraemon kinetic phone

Doraemon-kinetic phone

Doraemon kinetic phone

Turning a child toy that is easy and cheap to make, he lets the imagination fly! Perhaps these imagination is what others deem comic as a child thing. But think about it! Everyone is a child in a big body. Imagination is what bringing forth reality. If the Wright brothers didn’t imagine they could fly, what would be the ground to push them to make the first airplane? Imagination–it’s all what matters.

He also has this great other door–it opens to every where you want to go to.

Doraemon door

Nostalgia, a wonder about what history was like, the worry about what future may hold–it’s all the things that occupy our heads from time to time. Worry free, why? Because Doraemon has this awesome time-machine that is hidden inside Nobita’s desk drawer.

Doraemon time machine

Doraemon time machine

Memory, or the ability to remember something is important. Nowadays, people are taking pills to improve their memories. They have intensive workshops that work on how to best remember things. The abundance of information made available by the world wide web, or everyday interactions doesn’t help us getting better. A familiar scenario is cramping knowledge into your head before a test. Well, there is a better way to do it – very natural, and easy, not time consuming (but you will need a big tummy)!

Doraemon memorizing toast

Doraemon memorizing toast

There are just a few examples. Truth be told, Mr. Fujio isn’t that all optimistic about these inventions either. Doraemon is a representation of technology. He is portrayed at a hero, with many awesome tricks in that little pocket he wears on the tummy. But, there is so much a hero could do. At the end of each chapter, you would see how he portrays the negative setbacks if one is too dependent or have excessive use of that technology. The great door would have glitch: the knob would stuck and you couldn’t go back to where you were. The time machines sometimes would have problems, and would required constant maintenance (sounds like your current car?). You couldn’t eat the toast forever. And that knowledge would be valid until your next trip to the restroom.

Doraemon is not just a comic. It’s a book of the promises technology hold for you. It’s the imagination. Or better, it’s a scrapbook of ideas for scientists, quantum physicists, doctors, engineers, or anyone. The series has become so popular in Asia that it’s part of a culture. Often enough, you would tremble upon Doraemon memes from the Asian community on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or other social networking platforms.

A meme on how Vietnamese people were so sad that their New Year celebration has ended, meaning going back to work, school, and everyday life routines.

The comic vocabularies also get infused into everyday language. For example, you would get  compliments referred to the characters from this comic.

I would encourage you to pick up this awesome series (the link will take you to the mangafox.me, where you could read it in English) if you haven’t heard of it. I promise you, it doesn’t waste your time. Indeed, I believe there would be so many things you will keep at heart as time goes by.