20 March 2012


In this year, 2012 A.D., I will participate in a sport the name for which starts with "TRI" and rhymes with "ON".  Hmm, what can it be?  Triathlon?  But you cannot even swim 50 meters non-stop!  Sadly, it is true, no triathlon for me this year.  What I will do in 2012 is to run three marathons, or tri-marathon, get it?  Of course it won't be back-to-back races like Dean Kamazes’ 50-state streak.

For my hard work of completing 9 qualifying NYRR races and doing volunteering for one event (9+1) in 2011, I have guaranteed entry for the 2012 NYRR NYC Marthon, scheduled for November 4.  It cost an arm and a leg nowaday to run the NYC Marathon, but since I already did 9+1, might as well go through with it.  An item on the bucket list, that is what the NYC Marathon has become.

I subscribe to the mailing list NYCRUN.COM.  Early in the year, when I learned about the big discount on the Yonkers Marathon, I jumped at it.  Only $40!  How low can it go?  A few weeks ago, registration for the Brooklyn Marathon opened and even though the race will still be limited to Prospect Park, I signed up for it anyway.  It’s my home borough, I gotta support it.  The cost went up by $10 but at $80 it’s still affordable.

I would also sign up for the Rockaways Marathon too but it will be held a few weeks before the NYC Marathon.  I already spent so much money for the NYC Marathon, I do not want to take any chances with having a marathon done before the big one.  Like the Brooklyn Marathon, Rockaways’ was born just last year.  Hopefully it will be around next year as I plan to skip the NYC Marathon and use the money to run a few more races.

13 March 2012

Hong DDa

I like to take photo of witty vanity plates and try to decode the messages.  Some messages are easy to figure out while others are challenging.  At least to me.  It is all relative, of course.  For example, with the photo below, for someone growing up in an English-speaking country where Volkswagon already bombarded with ads for the cute vehicle, it is a dead giveaway.  LIL BUG must be short for LITTLE BUG, as in VOLKSWAGON BUG.  But what if the simple puzzle is shown to someone who is new to the English language?  Further pretend that the person is also new to Western culture.  How would he know BUG here refers to the car model and not to an insect?  Chances are the English dictionary he uses will not have the definition for LIL.  If he is from Viet Nam, he can be thrown off by the use of BUG. The original Volkswagon Bug was marketed in Viet Nam and the Vietnamese calls it xe con cóc or the Frog Car.

The topic of different interpretations reminds me of the hông đa in Viet Nam. The sharp-eyed reader may correctly guesses that the name refers to Honda. When I was in Viet Nam, some thirty-plus years ago, almost any motorized bike is referred to as hông đa. My guess is that Honda had a big section of the motorized bike in Viet Nam back then. Likewise, lam bách ta means any scooter, not just the Lambretta motor scooter. Lastly, GMC automatically means a truck, even the General Motor Corporation makes more than just trucks.

Having spent most of my life in the U.S., I easily associate the word Honda to cars and not motor bike. There's the Honda Accord and I even own a Honda Odyssey. Perhaps because my father used to drive a hông đa, I remember the words the most, even though dad's bike was not necessarily made by Honda. But then again there is also this short song parody that I know and remember well, even if I forgot a word here and there and had to ask my brother for help:

Chiều mưa rầm rầm
Tôi lái chiếc hông-đa đưa tiễng nàng ra đầu cầu
Vừa tới bếnh sông thấy một người mặc cái xà-rong
Đứng xa như đàng ông, đứng gần như bà-bống

which translates to something like

It was a rainy night
I rode the Honda to send her to the bridge
At the river bank there was a person wearing a sarong
Far away it seemed to be a man, but close-up it was a drag queen

Do pardon my written Vietnamese, it has been a while and I do not want to spend too much time correcting typos, if any. Does bà bống really mean drag queen? Let's hear it from some Vietnamese people.

07 March 2012


Back to that special issue of MADD magazine that was actually a parody of the King of Parody magazine, MAD.  So I had a few pages and Matthew Imbriano got the front and back covers.  Someone with the pen name "Jonesias" got the inside front cover.  I do not know who he was but given the topic, Chemistry, I suspect he was a Chemical Engineering student.  (I did not bother writing "he or she" because it was very likely that it was a guy.  In the Engineering School, ratio of women to men was 1:5.)

In case you are not familiar with the Spy vs. Spy series in MAD magazine, it was originally done by Antonio Prohías and features the Black Spy and the White Spy, always inflicting harm on each other via contraptions and booby-traps.

In the last post about MADD, did you figure out the message the Fold-In reveals?  "Go to a real school."  Without a dorm, a gym, or a campus, e.g. a pedestrian plaza for students to walk from one building to another without the worry of being run over by a city bus, Cooper Union was not the typical college experience to some.

04 March 2012


Another year, another Coogan 5K race.  I cannot remember why I signed up for Coogan 5K race last year.  Maybe it was because it was one of the few NYRR races that are not held in Central Park.  Or because I planned to explore the west side waterfront of Manhattan after the race, which I did, not exactly the waterfront but pretty far west nonetheless.  Or maybe it was the challenge of the terrain, very hilly, I was told.

This year I planned to have a post-race run across the George Washington Bridge and down the east coast of the neighboring New Jersey down to Newport to take the PATH back to New York.  It would be a great run except that it would take time.  It turned out my son missed the regular weekend swimming exercise last week so today we needed to make-up for it, even though we already had a session just yesterday.

With last year's Coogan, I had my fastest time up until then, 10:22 minutes per mile.  I beat that pace later in the year with the Jingle Bell Jog 6K (10:07) and the Ted Corbitt 15K (10:21).  I was on a roll and hoped that with the Coogan race in 2012 I would beat my finish time by a few minutes.  I managed to have a personal record (P.R.) alright, but by only 6 seconds, i.e. last year's finish time was 32:10 vs. this year's 32:04.  What is the margin of error on these things anyway?  Would an improvement of a few seconds negligible?  That only differences of a minute or more count?

I used to run these morning races on an empty stomach but since I discovered GU I do take them as "breakfast" to get a boost for the races.  I took one gel pack this morning, but perhaps not soon enough for the race.  The recommended time is 45 minutes before the race but I did it at 30 minutes.  Who knows, that 15-minute difference could have sent the necessary nutrition to my legs for a faster finish time.

There are a few good things about today's race, other than my meager P.R.  After finishing the race, a woman from behind told me that she used me as a marker, to push herself for the finish line.  Sort of like what I once referred to as stalk-running.  It was such a short race that I think I passed her at Mile 3 and there was only 0.1 mile to go, not much of a stalk really.  Still, I feel honored.

I had the good fortune of having my friend Mike come over from Fort Lee, just across the nearby GWB, to take photos for me at the event.  Brightroom was not at the event so even if you want to buy photos it is not an option.  NYRR photographers took some great shots of the event, but usually the people in the back corrals don't get any exposure, until now.  If you were in the 6000, see if you find yourself below.  If you find your photos and like it, look for a Chinese guy named Mike and buy him a drink at the Coogan Irish pub.

Wait wait don't tell me what Cooganized means.

More waiting.  I was so far back and it was so noisy, I did not hear the national anthem at all.

I was going to check-in the yellow hoodie but it was cold so I kept it.  Instead of fumbling with removing the bib from the official race shirt to put it on the hoodie, I just put the shirt on the outside... and looked kinda weird.

The #1 finisher, look at how that leg kicks back!

Almost there!  I think this was at Mile #3.

02 March 2012


As mentioned in earlier posts, there were other Engineering students who drew for the April's Fool issue of the Cooper Pioneer school newspaper.  I do not recall knowing any of them except for Matthew Imbriano.  He did the cover page and the back cover, which is a fold-in à la Al Jaffee.

Matt and I were Mechanical Engineering students and we had many classes together.  More than once he showed me his drawings, perhaps made during class or some other times that he was bored.  After all these years I cannot recall the details of what he drew but one drawing I remember very well.  It depicts Professor Chinitz, probably in a thermodynamic class, "holding" a quantity of energy in his hand, with the quantity of energy looking like a small energy ball often seen in Street Fighter or Dragon Ball.  I can draw decent pictures but am not so good at caricatures, or at least not from memory.  Matt was very good at drawing caricatures and the picture of Prof. Chinitz was very accurate.  I wonder if he's making a living with his talent, or at least still make use of it.