Happy 25th.

When it’s dark baby

There’s a light I’ll shine

And if you’re lost I’m right behind

‘Cause we walk the same line

 – We Walk The Same Line

In 1994, the duo Everything But The Girl released the album – Amplified Heart

It is my most favorite album ever. 

And on the album, the song that means the most is We Walk the Same Line.

It is a song about togetherness and light that feels so personal like it was written for us.

If you lose your faith, babe

You can have mine

And if you’re lost I’m right behind

‘Cause we walk the same line

Today, we celebrate our 25th anniversary.

And over this quarter century, there has never been anyone that I’d rather travel the road with.

We’re celebrating it at the opposite ends of the earth – Vonnie in Minneapolis and me on a plane to Hong Kong.

And if these troubles

Should vanish like rain on midday

Well I’ve no doubt there’ll be more

And we can’t run and we can’t cheat

‘Cause baby when we meet

What we’re afraid of

We find out what we’re made of

And here’s my promise to you – 

If you ever feel joy, I will feel your joy.

If you ever feel scared, I will hold your worry.

If you ever have a joke to tell, I will be there to laugh.

If you ever need caffeine, I will make a cup of coffee for each of us. 

If you ever need a hug, I will be there with open arms.

If you ever lose your faith, you can have mine. 

If you ever feel lost, I’m right behind.

And I know, you would do the same for me.

And if you’re lost I’m right behind

‘Cause we walk the same line

Here’s to loving each other and staying true.

That’s what we do – we walk the same line.

Happy Anniversary babe. 

The Money Launderers

A Lunar New Year Vignette in Three Acts

Act 1
My dad (to me): I’m writing you a check for grandkids hong bao (luck envelopes)

[Vonnie deposits the check and goes to bank to get crispy cash bills for the hong bao.]

Act 2
Us on New Years: Happy New Years! Kung Hei Fat Choy! Hey kids, here are lucky red envelopes from the family!

Grandkids: Xie xie. Thank you, thank you!

Act 3
[The next day.]

Grandkids: Uh, can I give you the cash so that you can, uh, venmo it to me?

Raging Beard

My daughter said, “This week’s Ted Lasso was weird.”

Back in high school, my best friend, Vincent Guzman, and I would nerd out on movies.

One movie that stood out was Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, a dark comedy set in night-time New York. It is an out of the frying pan into the fire story where one shitty thing after another befalls corporate hack Paul Hackett (marvelously played by Griffin Dunne), in a series of misadventures. It is hilarious in a “How can his night get more absurd?” type of way.

From Esquire

After Hours was a highly entertaining movie that I saw in the theater and I rented once or twice from the video store. Remember those things?

In the end, there is a happy ending, or at least a not a horrible ending. Dawn arrives and no one is the wiser for the life threatening, awakening escapade Hackett experienced in the underbelly of Gotham.

I liked it because no one else knew about the movie and I could be “cool” thinking that it was cool because no one else thought it was cool. It was by Martin “Raging Bull” Scorsese, but it wasn’t just a gangster movie. I think that Scorsese likes to make a comedy just to prove that his worldview isn’t solely about New York or the mob.

I haven’t thought about After Hours in years until my daughter forewarned us about the episode.

At least not until watching this week’s Ted Lasso episode.

It’s cool that she doesn’t think it’s cool. I loved it.

Additional Reading:

On Seeing

Ten days ago, I lost almost all vision in my right eye.

What started as a dark spot in the center of my vision, grew outwards until I functionally could not see.

If I stood in front of a car on the sidewalk, I would not be able to see the car.

It was scary and disorienting.

When I visited the ophthalmologist, he said “You have a detached retina.”

They take detached retinas very seriously. My retina, he explained while holding a cross section model of an eyeball, is like wall paper on the inside of a spherical room. The edge of the retina had a small tear leading to fluid flowing in behind the retina and detaching it from the back of the eye.

A black and white portrait of a Chinese man. He has a metal eye patch on his right eye. He wears a hoodie.
After surgery, with my eye patch.

“I’d like to get you into surgery today.”

Within two hours, I was hanging out in a surgery room ready for a vitrectomony.

The surgery went well.

In a vitrectomony, they replace the liquid in your eye with a gas bubble. The gas pressure pushes the retina back to where it belongs.

The bubble slowly gets absorbed over a period of weeks.

“It’s like a sling for your retina,” the doctor helpfully said.

Post-operation, it means two things, when I look out of my right eye, it’s like I’m wearing googles that have filled up with water.

Because of where the tear is in my eye, I have to be lying down on my left side for 23 hours every day.

(Fun fact: did you know that the image on your retina is backwards and upside down? So the tear that I see on the bottom left of my eye is actually on the top right of retina.)

I’m lucky.

My prognosis is good for restoration of most of my vision. I have great healthcare through my employer. My team at work has encouraged me to take time off to heal. I have paid medical leave. I have a spouse who cares for me. I have children that are self-sufficient.

Still, it sucks and I’m worried about my vision long term.

I never realized how much ones senses are interconnected. A loss of vision means a loss of depth perception. It means vertigo and occasional bouts of nausea.

I’m simultaneously grateful and grieving, which is not an unusual set of feelings that many have been experiencing lately.

Oh if you ever find yourself needing surgery in Oakland Kaiser, ask for the Snow White and Lightning McQueen room.

Wide angle photo of hospital room. There is a bed, IV and tv screen in the foreground and posters of animated characters on the walls.
Pre-operation surgery prep room

How to Host a Zoom Memorial Service

“When you treat people nice, people will treat you twice as nice.”

Roger Chan

Let’s be honest. You’re not prepared for this.

Who is?

Funerals have a way of entering our lives most unexpectedly.

You may find yourself having to host a funeral when it’s not possible to gather in person. Like we had to.

If you need to organize an online funeral or memorial service, here are some tips and suggestions for what we did.

Get your team of family and friends together to plan

Our "Task Force" used Whatsapp and Google docs to plan the agenda and to share information.

After you decide a date and time, send out a "Save the Date!"

People will want to know when the service is. We used evite, which has pivoted to virtual events, to invite people. Evite allows people to RSVP and will remind them when the event is about to happen. You can just send a calendar invite if you want to keep it simple.

Tip: Online events can confuse people in different timezones. Since we had family in North America and Asia, we had to pick a time that was good on both continents. Make sure that everyone knows when the event is in THEIR TIMEZONE. You cannot overcommunicate to people when exactly the event is if it is spread over more than one timezone.

Create a shared folder or album for photos and videos.

You’ll want to create a shared home for photos and videos of your loved one. We used Google photos and it was a heartwarming and heartbreaking to see new pictures pop up every day. The pictures were also the source of a slideshow tribute that we created. Invite friends and family, but don’t make it publicly shared.

Set up online public memorial site.

We used Kudoboard, but there are others like Forever Missed and GatheringUs. The memorial will be the place where you post an obituary and information about the deceased including info about memorial gifts or donations.

Tip: Minimize sharing personal identifiable information (PII) such as birthdate or date of passing in your obituary to reduce chances of identity theft. Don’t go overboard, but don’t make it easy for someone to steal your loved one’s identity.

Pick a video meeting system and make sure that key people can access and use it.

Our family used Zoom. Zoom is mostly a work and school platform and is not that familiar in Hong Kong and China. China is known to block certain online sites so always do a test with your family and friends. Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are good alternatives.

Make sure that you have the ability to share screen and record the session. Invariably, someone will ask you for the recording.

Also test, test, test that their Internet connection and computers can handle Zoom.

If they are on the program, offer family and friends the option of pre-recording tributes.

Zoom makes it easy to share recordings during the session, either as a video or audio. Doing it this way allows you to better manage the time people speak and to reduce any technology issues that might crop up.

Create a powerpoint that you can share afterwards

There will be information you’ll want to share such as where your loved one is buried, where to make donations, and other tidbits.


It’s never easy to plan a funeral, especially during a pandemic. This past year, we’ve been to an online funeral and we organized one.

If googling brought you here, rest assured, you will find a way to do it right and celebrate the life of your loved one. I wish you the best.

Uncle Roger, I miss you lots. I hope we did good.

Look a Little Closer, See a Little Clearer

Black and white closeup of a glass cutting tool.

This feels like a lazy post on my part, but two people I admire published essays that made me ruminate on the act of looking and paying attention.

From Eugene Kim

I am constantly amazed by what I’ve been seeing and learning and how ignorant I was for over four decades of things that were right in front of me


From Craig Mod

The point being: Looking closely is valuable at every scale. From looking closely at a sentence, a photograph, a building, a government. It scales and it cascades — one cognizant detail begets another and then another. Suddenly you’ve traveled very far from that first little: Huh.


I’m a photographer. Taking pictures is how I remember things.

Sometimes when I take pictures I have the picture in my mind already and I’m trying to make it real.

Other times, I take pictures of something before me that is so beautiful or magical I try to capture it with the lens.

But most of the time, taking pictures is my way of paying attention to the world.

To notice.

To remember.

To learn.

It doesn’t matter if the picture is “good” or “bad”. It doesn’t matter if I ever look at it again. Most of the time, I don’t.

Framing the photo, the scene, the subject, the moment is what holds it in the part of my mind that remembers when so often, the world can be fleeting.

The frame isn’t just for the camera.

The frame is for me.