The Start of a New Year…

Today is Tết or Lunar New Year in Viet Nam. Having been born & raised here in the US, I’ve only experienced Tết in Viet Nam once as an adult. There was nothing like it. It was a memorable experience to enjoy it with my young cousins. Truth be told, I was a little envious of the wild excitement in their eyes and very grateful that despite whatever needs they were in want of, they had the joy and hope that the birth of a new year brings.

Any day can be the start of a new year…a day to make a promise, to turn over a new leaf, to dream big, to live the best life you can.


My first book of the year…

So sad… it’s end of August and I just finished my first book of the year.  Last year, regardless of how much I worked, I was still able to make time to read.  Somehow this year, I couldn’t get inspired to read more than the Buffy comics.  Very sad indeed, but my first book back (a David Sedaris) made me LOL from beginning to end.  Ah… I miss reading.  Ready for something hardier now!
On an unrelated note, as I was driving across 520 stuck in traffic, the thought occurred to me that having kids is a great way to avoid traffic.  You get to use the carpool lane!  I was reminded of a time a number of years ago when my then bf & I borrowed one of his nephews so we could use the carpool lane to get across 520.  His parents weren’t headed where we were going, but they needed to cross the bridge too.  Good thing they had two sons — one for each car.  We happily crossed the bridge, passing by all the suckers stuck in non-HOV lane.  After we crossed and headed up I-5 a bit, we pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway, where we opened the door and let the rugrat toddle back to his parents’ car.  We did bring the car to a full stop and let him out on the side furthest from traffic… safety first!

Philosophy on fundraisers..

The VNSF 6th Annual Benefit Event was last friday and it was awesome! In planning the event, it suddently occurred to me that I’ve been organizing this even for 4 years now!  Crazy how time flies.  I hope we’ve finally found our home because every year has been at a different venue.  =)
From the very first year I was involved, my goals for the fundraiser were simple:
  1. Revenue – that’s kind of the whole point of the event. =)
  2. Message – have people walk away with an understanding of what VNSF does and feel a connection to our kids
  3. Fun & memorable – make it an evening people look forward to going to because it’s different, fun and exciting every year. 

Here’s my self-assessed report card from the last 4 years:

2007 – 3rd Annual Benefit Event at Tamarind Tree

  • Revenue – B
  • Message – A
    small, intimate setting made it easy to capture the audience’s attention and we gave a good update on what we do and shared stories about our interview trip
  • Fun & memorable – B-
    The Wii Tennis competition between the top 2 live auction bidders for the Nintendo Wii game system was a hit and still talked about today.

2008 – 4th Annual Benefit Event at Burke Museum

  • Revenue – B+
  • Message – C
    We couldn’t get a captive audience and failed to really convey any meaningful information.
  • Fun & memorable – C
    No games.  But being at museum was memorable.  We also learned people like the opportunity to mingle, network, etc.

2009 – 5th Annual Benefit Event at ACRS

  • Revenue – A
  • Message – B+
    We were able to get a captive audience, but we didn’t really put together good content. =(
  • Fun & memorable – B
    The trivia game was kind of fun and a little engaging, but not very memorable.

2010 – 6th Annual Benefit Event at New Holly

  • Revenue – A-
  • Message – A
    We gave people time to network & mingle uninterrupted and then called for their attention in one solid block of time. The content was great – a good update on our programs as well as a slideshow w/ photos & quotes from our kids.  Great balance.
  • Fun & memorable – A+
    Minute-to-Win-it games to earn dessert for your table were not just fun to play but fun to watch!  They had a wondeful amount of controversy, which will sure t make the event memorable.

I’m not sure what I’ll do next year, but it’s sure to involve games. =)

How you know you’re addicted…

Signs that you’re addicted to Bejeweled Blitz…
  • you’ve clicked "play again" before you’ve consciously decided to play again
  • you’ve been playing your "last game" for the past 2 hours
  • the male voice that tells you you’re doing a good job holds a powerful meaningfulness over you


My mypressi – Day 44

Extraction #??


  • Coffee: 21 grams (3 Tbsp)
  • Grind: 3rd notch



Taste Evaluation:

  • MER: 3 out of 5 (a little sour)
  • This shot probably would have tasted better if it was not Starbucks roast… bleh.  I have another bag to go through and then I can move on to either Seattle’s Best or Peet’s… both of which I already have stocked in my freezer. =)

Next Time:

  • ~25g of coffee (2.5 Tbsp)

Since I’m at a finer grind, that has increased my extraction time and given me good color on the crema but now I’m slightly overextracted.  I think i’ll get better results w/ less grounds.  We’ll see tomorrow…

My mypressi – Day 4

Extraction #6


  • Coffee: 14 grams (2 Tbsp)
  • Water: double shot marker


  • Extraction: ~27 seconds (*)
  • Color: Light
  • #3 (
  • (*) Technical Failure: I ran out of nitrous on the first pull, so I had to reload twice.  The first reload seemed like a dud (but it might have been the very first cartridge I used on my first attempt that never went anywhere.


Taste Evaluation:

  • MER: 2 out of 5
  • Slightly weak latte

Next Time:

  • ~25g of coffee (2.5 Tbsp)

My mypressi – Day 3

Extraction #4
  • Mechanical: Pre-heated basket
  • Coffee: 21 g (3 Tbsp) – double tamped (once at 14g and again at 21g)
  • Water: double shot marker
  • Extraction Time: ~50 sec. (over-extracted)
  • Color: Light golden
Taste Evaluation:
  • MER (My Espresso Rating): 2 out of 5
  • very VERY bitter
Next time:
  • 14g of coffee (single tamp)
My setup:
+ elements are preheating
+ watching Farscape on Netflix
+ Rocky drinking is ready-made water 🙂

My mypressi – Day 2

Results from pull #3 and #4 (Should have taken a picture of #1 and #2 but oh well.)
This morning                                     This evening
14 mins – total prep and clean-up       7-8 mins – basically the time to boil the water
Extraction #3
   – Lowest "Fine" grind (same from first 2 extractions)
   – Double shot basket
   – barely has any crema at all, so not even on the chart.
Extraction #4
   – Middle setting between "Extra Fine" and "Fine"
   – Single shot basket
   – Light crema (the first image) = either I need finer grind or harder tamp.  hopefully it’s not a matter of low temperature because sadly, that’s just the reality of the mypressi.  I’m pre-heating 2 of 3 elements – filter handle and water bowl.  I haven’t been preheating the filter basket but I might need to move towards doing that.  It increases the potential of burning myself since I’d need to pick it up and place it into the filter handle.  I’m doing a fresh boil after everything is assembled, so everything is almost as hot as it can possibly get.
A couple of things I learned / need to try out tomorrow:
  • I’m filling too much water in the bowl
  • I’m going to preheat the basket
  • More careful measurement of coffee — 7 grams (1 tbsp) for single and 14 grams (2 tbsp) for double
  • Need to practice teh 30-40lb tamp.  I’m getting a clean, dry puck and a steady stream during extraction, so I think I’m tamping correctly, but I should probably use a scale and measure it
  • I should start timing my extraction times to see if I’m in the 20-30 sec range – I think I’m in the neighborhood w/ #4.

Next opportunity for another trial run will be tomorrow am.  I think I might be at the end of the life of one N2O cartridge… no way to tell though.