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Goodbye, 2022! What a Year! Here’s to Better 2023!

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It’s the end of the year, and time we reflect aloud on our personal highs and lows.

My 2022 has been, well, interesting. On the one hand, it’s like a lingering cold that won’t go away, figuratively and literally. On the other, it made us stronger. And we managed to create some good memories.

Let’s start with the highs. But before that, here’s a quick (trick) riddle:

Why are fish so smart?

My 6-year-old daughter insisted this riddle. “You must put it on your website, daddy! Pretty please?” she said. Make a guess and open the drawer below for the β€œacceptable” answer.

Open to see the β€œcorrect” answer
Because they swim in schools!
Disneyland Monorail
Here are the lady and the kiddos in one of the many Monorail rides that ferried us around Disneyland. It’s my favorite “ride” at the theme park.

We hit Disneyland for the first time!

It was my wife’s post-Thanksgiving idea. She wanted to do something special for the kids before the year ended — they deserved it, as you’ll find out below. Most importantly, for the first time in months, everyone in the fam seemed OK, health-wise.

So, one day she “casually checked out the tickets” and bought one for everyone in the fam for Thursday, December 22. Yes, just like that. Supposedly it was a good deal.

My wife is quite decisive when it comes to spontaneous vacation ideas, and I generally have to take care of the rest, as in trying to make things work. In this particular case, we were also lucky. The day after, all tickets for the rest of the year were sold out. None of us had been to Disneyland before, by the way.

Disneyland California is in Anaheim, part of the larger Los Angeles area, about 400 miles (600 km) from the Bay Area where we live. And I decided to be excited, too, since it’d be a road trip. “It could be fun!” I told myself.

I was not a fan of Disneyland despite never having been. After a dozen annual trips to Las Vegas to cover CES, I had grown tired of artificial and over-the-top visual, olfactory, and auditory stimulants. (Disneyland is basically Vegas for kids.) Still, I kept my mind open before the trip. “It’s for the kids,” the lady told me.

So, I bit the bullet and got new tires for my Model Y — the old original tires still had relatively good treads, but all had been plugged multiple times — and booked an Airbnb in Long Beach for that entire work week.

I planned to bring work with me, and maybe we could check out some local museums before we’d hit Disneyland on the 22 and go home the next day. In the grand scheme of things, everything worked out exactly like that.

But the devil is in the details, they say.

On the 22nd morning, we got up early. It took us 20 minutes to drive to the park. But that was just the beginning. As we approached the gigantic parking structure, we saw hundreds — maybe even thousands — of cars in front of us. All needed to pay for the parking, find a stall, go through an airport-like security checkpoint, then take a 10-min tram ride to the entrance. We finally got inside the park at around 9:30 AM.

Through the gate, I was immediately taken aback by the number of people and, most noticeably, the cacophony of sounds coming from all directions. Music, announcements, train horns, bells, babies crying, laughter, screams, etc. That’s not to mention the amount of flashing lights. It was epic.

The rest of the fam didn’t seem to notice, though. The kids were super excited; they didn’t know what to do with themselves. And the lady was too busy taking photos of them.

Disneyland photoPXL 20221222 182111455
Remember that stereotype about Asians and photos? It’s true! And at Disneyland, it’s true for everyone!

By my observation, at any given time, at least half of the park’s population was either taking a photo or having one taken. It gave me a headache thinking about the amount of storage and bandwidth used by that amount of content.

And with that, we spent the rest of the day taking the train and Monorail to roam around the park, but mostly we stayed in line and walked from one amusement ride to another. And there were so many of them.

The Monorail was my favorite. The ride was quiet, and the whole idea was fascinating. Apparently, it was the very first serious monorail system ever built in the western hemisphere, dating back to 1958.

We took many rides, some multiple times. The kids had so much fun.

My 4-year-old boy ended almost every ride with “Again!” — he’d want to redo it. And that wasn’t a bad idea since he didn’t want to walk and often asked me to carry him when we moved between rides. But you’re supposed to get the most out of your time and try as many rides as possible. It’s a huge park.

So, I spent most of the time either holding a baby, staying in line or both. Occasionally, I also needed to rush one of the big kids to the restrooms — which themselves were never readily available — and back. It was stressful at times.

By the way, if you ever go to Anaheim Disneyland with small kids, I’d recommend the Autopia and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage rides. They are fun for all ages and last a long time — they are worth the wait. The rest of the themed rides, though distinctive, were similar in one way or another.

Here’s a typical Disneyland experience for a parent with small kids, in my opinion:

You wander around, trying to figure out what to do. Then, you stand in line for a long time, from 20 minutes to an hour. When it’s your turn to get on a ride — say a rocket ship that goes around in a large circle — the best experience you’d have is when you see (or think about) the long line of those who want to be where you are.

By the time you’re done processing that pleasant thought, your ride ends, you land, and it’s time to walk to another ride or the beginning of the line for the same one, depending on your kids’ mood.

Repeat. No matter how many rides you’ve taken, at the end of the day, you still have this lingering feeling that you might have missed something.

Disneyland ride
Ahhh! We’re flying! Finally.

Long story short. Rides after rides after rides, we walked around a lot. By 6 PM, my legs hurt. As we sat down for pizzas with some friends, I noted that I had put in over 20k steps on my Google Fit app — an all-time high record.

After dinner, I suggested calling it a day, but the fam wanted to stay for the fireworks — scheduled for 9:30 PM. So we walked back to the park while munching on churros. There were a lot of folks sharing the same idea — the area was packed — but we managed to find a relatively good spot. Then it was a long wait.

By 8:30 PM, our 4-year-old boy fell asleep. We let him and woke him up for the show. (By “letting,” I meant I had to hold him while standing since there was no space for him to lie down.)

And the fireworks finally happened. It was a spectacle that lasted some 15 minutes. Everyone loved it.

I also enjoyed the show, but it didn’t make my legs feel any better. To make the matter worse, by the end, they released fake snow — some soap bubbles — on the crowd. Some of the bits hit my glasses. I tried cleaning them with my shirt, only to make the lens smeared. It was a mess.

But it was time to go home! So, yay!

Getting back to the car was an adventure in itself. Everyone had the same idea! It was an exodus of haggard parents and tired kids. We stayed a long time in line to get on the tram to return to the parking lot, and then the expected 20-min drive back to the rental place took an hour and a half due to traffic.

We returned past midnight, rushed to clean up, and went to bed. I slept like a baby that night.

It was an epic day. There was no other way to put it.

Disneyland 1st Visit Button
My Disneyland 1st Visit button — you can get it for free; just ask for it at any store around the park. I should have asked for the “last Visit” one.

The following morning, feeling my legs again, I got up, finished my work week, including composing a quick newsletter — it was the last of the year — and set the emails to start going out at 10 AM. After that, we packed up and headed home.

In the car, the family was energetic. The kiddos talked incessantly about what a “great time” they had and how they’d love to go back to Disneyland as soon as possible “because there are still many rides” they haven’t tried yet.

On the other hand, I daydreamed about our previous Hawaii trip earlier in the year. Sure it cost a lot more, and I did get sunburnt quite badly, but that’s the kind of vacation I want to redo. But deep down, I know my preferences are kind of optional.

As we were climbing over the mountain to get out of Los Angles, our big boy got car sick — or maybe it was some food poisoning from stuff he had eaten at the park the night before. We gave him a bag, but it was too late; he puked everywhere!

It took me a few minutes to find a good spot to pull over, and by then, our daughter had puked, too, because it “smelled so bad”. I didn’t blame her.

And then the baby started to cry. I didn’t blame him, either — nobody is happily covered in vomit. It was a disaster.

Model Y with Doors Open
This is us taking a pause on the drive home to clean up the car from the kids’ vomit. (Click the image for the exact location.)

As I was holding the little guy for the lady to change the kiddos and clean the car up. I pulled up my phone and noted that it was 11:30 AM, and then I saw a bunch of newly arrived messages in my mailbox — they were the responses to my newsletter that had gone out an hour and a half earlier.

And that brings us to the lows of the year.

Once we got the car cleaned up, the rest of the drive home was uneventful. And it was a good drive.

Oh, the hates!

I send out newsletter emails once or twice a month — sign up if you’re interested. Most of those emails are updates so that folk knows what I have been working on.

The year has been so hard that I managed to maintain just one newsletter a month in the second half.

Once in a while, possibly even often, I sprinkle in those emails my comments on social events or personal experiences. And that was the case with the one I had written earlier in the morning.

If you’re a subscriber, you already know what I wrote. If not, open the drawer below to view it. In any case, it wasn’t my best prose though it shows my sentiments for the year, which is applicable to this post.

Dong Knows Tech’s 2022 Christmas newsletter

Happy Holidays, everyone! And to many, Mery Christmas!

2022 has been a crazy year.

You might have heard of Elon Musk with his “free speech” Twitter endeavor.

You might have heard of Donald Trump and his super-hero trading card grift.

Or you might have heard of Putin.

Even worse, you might have had to take your loved ones to the ER or ICU due to RSV, COVID-19, or whatnot, all the while having put up with friends who go out of their way to idolize those I mentioned above. It’s nuts. 

But on the bright side, you’re alive and hopefully well. 

And then, Disneyland is open.

Disneyland is no Happiest Place on Earth, but at least, for a brief moment, you can make there be only love, fun, and fireworks, albeit for a price. (It’s mostly the fireworks, you can create the other two at home.)

And I’d take commercialized happiness over other types of shenanigans or war in a heartbeat.

With that, here’s our last no-nonsense update of 2022.

_____________________

[list of recent posts]

_____________________

Have a wonderful time with family and friends!

Here’s to a better 2023!

Dong Ngo

(This email was sent from an unmonitored account. Please use the Contact page if you have questions or suggestions.)

To avoid spam, my newsletter emails don’t come with a return address. As you might have noticed, they point to the Contact page. So, it takes more than hitting the “Reply” button to send me feedback. But folks do write back, which is generally nice. I love feedback, especially constructive criticism.

As I was standing holding the baby, I noted a dozen or so new feedback messages. Most wanted to send their well-wishes for the holidays. Others also expressed their subtle “disappointment” because I didn’t keep my “political” point of view to myself.

And then, there were a few replies in which the anonymous senders called me names and accused me of repeating “the left and Biden talking points.” It was pretty extreme, if it’s not so sad.

Here’s the thing: My message wasn’t political. I mentioned a few things that actually happened — stuff that bothered me.

And no matter what political stance, any level-headed individual should find them crazy. But even if they don’t, it’s not a big deal. It’s OK that we have different standards for craziness.

What’s truly sad (and crazy) is when somebody goes out of their way to express their hatred just because they voluntarily see or hear something they don’t like.

And that happened quite often during 2022. In March, I wrote a preview of the eero Pro 6E and subsequently got so many anonymous hate messages attacking my character, ethnicity, and intelligence, supposedly from eero’s fans.

To be clear, I don’t feel offended, scared, or intimidated by this behavior. I’ve been through enough in my life to know that what people say about others, first and foremost, shows more of who they are.

Most importantly, I have other things to care about — I don’t sweat the small stuff.

And 2022 has been challenging.

A year of extreme sickness

As you might have noted, we have three children.

A first grader, a pre-schooler, and a 13-month-old boy, who was born in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. With him, things have been tough — things would have been hard in the best of times. We are outnumbered.

Since late July, when the schools reopened, like the rest of our community, we’ve been sick or exhausted. Collectively, there was always somebody at home with a fever, bad headaches, constant coughs, or a runny nose.

Interestingly, none of us has ever caught COVID-19, likely thanks to the vaccines and masks.

Nikko in ERNikko in ICU
Our little boy the day he had to go to ICU and the day he recovered.

In October, things turned extreme. The little one had severe breathing issues early that month due to RSV. He was gasping for air, and we had to keep him in the ER overnight — that was the first time we ever needed to bring any of our kids back to the hospital after their deliveries.

After a couple of days, he recovered, and we thought that was it.

Unfortunately, the day after Halloween, it happened again, this time much worse. The little guy couldn’t breathe and was moved to the ICU immediately as we took him to the hospital, where he had to stay on a ventilator for a long time — he didn’t breathe by himself.

At some point, the doctor told us to prepare for the eventuality that he might “give up.” It was a terrifying moment in my life.

Fortunately, in the end, the little guy pulled through, and since Thanksgiving, he and our lives have slowly gotten back to normal. We had a lot to feel thankful for.

As a matter of fact, I’ve learned to appreciate every moment of seeing my little family in good shape. As long as nobody has to be in the hospital, things are OK. We can do it.

And since the big kids also had to suffer the consequences — we had to send them to friends for a couple of days, cancel many events, etc. — the trip to Disneyland was well justified.

The point is, as you read this, we’re alive and well. And that’s a good thing.

Thank you, and happy 2023!

Over the year, this website continued to get support from many of you. Your donations and subscriptions are getting close to covering the site’s hosting and maintenance costs. And that helps a lot.

On top of that, there are frequent volunteer proofreaders — all anonymous — who regularly report typos via the button at the top right corner of the site and give me writing suggestions.

Please keep in mind that your support is well appreciated. In return, rest assured there will never be nonsense or dishonest content on this website. That’s my promise.

The Ngos Xmas 2022 1
2022 was a trying year, but it made us stronger. And this is us the day before Christmas, finally all happy, healthy, and disease-free. We hope that will remain, and we wish you the new year 2023 the same.

With that, here’s to another exciting trip around the sun!

Happy New Year, Everyone! May 2023 bring us peace, love, and happiness!

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10 thoughts on “Goodbye, 2022! What a Year! Here’s to Better 2023!”

  1. I’m so happy to read that all is now well with your family. What a year indeed.
    All the best for 2023!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for your reviews and insight on technology, Dong! I can honestly say my technology setup has benefitted directly from your advice. My subscription to your site is money well spent.

    I’m glad the year is ending with you and your family in good health, and I wish you continued health and happiness in 2023!

    Reply
  3. Lovely story Dong!

    Your kid’s sickness really makes one appreciate the good moments in life more.

    Here’s wishing you and your family the best in 2023! πŸŽ‰

    Reply
  4. Lovely family Dong. Glad everyone enjoyed their time in Disneyland and that your little boy is doing well.
    I’m hoping, like you do, for a better 2023 for all.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for sharing your family’s Disney experience!

    Here’s wishing your family and Everyone a
    Very Happy and Safe 2023

    Reply

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