personal stuff

Top 10 (mostly wholesome) Animes to watch that is not made by Studio Ghibli

  1. Your Name – 2016 – directed by Makoto Shinkai

    A boy and a girl found themselves randomly becoming each other for a day over the course of a year (or two?). The plot gets even more complex and finely woven when they try to find each other in person.

  2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – 2006 – directed by Mamoru Hosoda

    A high-school girl acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own personal benefits. Little does she know that she is affecting the lives of others just as much as she is her own.

  3. The Place Promised in Our Early Days  – 2004 – directed by Makoto Shinkai and Yoshio Suzuki

    In an alternate postwar timeline, Japan is divided into the Union-controlled North and the US-controlled South. One summer, three middle-school students make a promise that they’ll cross the border with a self-constructed plane and unravel a tower’s secret, but their project was abandoned after the girl, Sayuri Sawatari, became mysteriously ill and transferred to Tokyo. Years later on the brink of another war Hiroki Fujisawa finds out that Sayuri had been in coma since then, and he asks Takuya Shirakawa to help him find a way to wake her up.

  4. Wolf Children – 2012 – directed by Mamoru Hosoda

    After her werewolf lover unexpectedly dies in an accident while hunting for food for their children, a young woman must find ways to raise the werewolf son and daughter that she had with him while keeping their trait hidden from society.

  5. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie – 2001 – directed by Shin’ichirô Watanabe

    A terrorist explosion releases a deadly virus on the masses, and it’s up the bounty-hunting Bebop crew to catch the cold-blooded culprit.

  6. Tokyo Godfathers – 2003 – directed by Satoshi Kon

    On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo find a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.

  7. Summer Wars – 2009 – directed by Mamoru Hosoda
    A student tries to fix a problem he accidentally caused in OZ, a digital world, while pretending to be the fiancé of his friend at her grandmother’s 90th birthday.

  8. The Boy and the Beast – 2015 – directed by Mamoru Hosoda

    When a young orphaned boy living on the streets of Shibuya stumbles upon a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by a gruff warrior beast looking for an apprentice.

  9. The Legend of Hei – 2019 – directed by Mtjj

    In bustling human world, various of goblins live peacefully with mankind. Luo Xiao-Hei, the cat demon, begins his journey of wandering because his forest home is destroyed. With sympathetic goblin partners and earnest human master appearing one after another, Hei is in the dilemma of which side will be his true attribution.

  10. A Letter to Momo – 2011 – directed by Hiroyuki Okiura

    Clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, young Momo moves with her mother from bustling Tokyo to the remote Japanese island of Shio.

personal stuff

Homemade Treasure Hunt

I am going out of town for about a week and decided to create a little treasure hunt puzzle to amuse the fiancee while I’m gone. Here is what I came up with:

Before I head out the door, I put a little sign on the drawers next to the bed that says “Look inside baby!” Opening the drawer, she’ll find a rubik’s cube that she has to solve.



Once she solves the puzzle she can read the message that says “Look for the thing I bought for your phone when you first moved here”.



Which is that little cute creature on the shelf winking.



Inside the little guy there is this piece of clue.

On the back it says:


She’ll have to figure it out it came from this soap box in the bathroom.


Inside the box is the next clue.


The cold place is the refrigerator …


Inside, the thing that doesn’t belong is the box of tissues (the previous clue was also written on a tissue from this box).


There is this clue inside the tissue box.


Which she should figure out points to a photo on this wall.


This photo in particular.


One the back of this photo there is this crude map :o)


She should figure out that the X points to those boxes above that cabinet in the corner.


Hidden behind those boxes she’ll find her prize.


Which is a pair of shoes she’s been eyeing but reluctant to buy because it’s too expensive 🙂



This is what the card says

This only took me a couple of hours to think up and implement.  But hopefully she’ll get a kick out of it! Heehee

personal stuff

The funny stuff my girlfriend says

We’ve only dated for about 3 months, and I am still discovering certain quirkiness about her.  But one thing that I’ve noticed from the start is that she loves to laugh.  She is easily amused, and laughs at almost everything, that is one of the many things I love about her.  She is so optimistic, like a ray of sunshine, it really brightens my day every time I hear her laugh.

At the same time, she can sometime make me laugh so hard I could barely breath.   For instance, tonight we just came back from an expensive Korean BBQ dinner, filled to the brim.  Full as I was, I still wanted to show her the Michael Jackson dance moves I learned earlier on youtube, which ended with me hugging my stomach, panting on the couch, looking like I was gonna throw up, while she was laughing her ass off and asking “Are you okay baby?”.

Then she said “Don’t throw up baby, that food was expensive!”

The both of us busted out laughing hysterically, realizing the absurdity of it.  We laughed so hard it hurted … I managed a “yea!  It was 153 kuai!” before another round of laughter hit us and we were rolling all over the couch hugging our stomachs trying to breath.

Another time, we had a couple of friends over for movie night.  One of the friends was getting sick, and was sneezing and coughing throughout the movie.  At one point, my girlfriend grabbed a half eaten tangerine that the sick friend had touched, peeled off a piece, and offered it to me.

“I don’t want it baby.”  I said, so  she plopped it in her mouth instead.  I said “Now you’re going to get sick because Jojo had touched it.  She laughed and said in a mocking tone, “well now you can’t kiss me because you will get sick too.”  She then moved as if to kiss me, and I covered my mouth with my hand.  “Mmno!”

“Come on baby!”  She made to try to kiss me some more but I dodged her until she finally gave up.

“Aww,” I said.  “Looks like we are not going to be able to kiss tonight.”

Then she said “I know baby!  You can put a condom on your mouth!”

It took us a second.  Then the image of me with a condom covering my mouth and she trying to kiss me was too much, and the two of us exploded laughing uncontrollably hugging each other for support.   We laughed for a few minutes straight!  I couldn’t stop thinking of the ridiculous image!  Our two friends were wondering what the heck was wrong with us.  I mean, we were like dying from lack of breath.

And the thing is, she is not even trying to be that witty.  Most of the times it seems she doesn’t realize what she had said until after she said it, and then realizing how absurd or funny it was, starts laughing like crazy at her own joke.  It’s really hilarious.  And I can’t help but to laugh with her, because it is so contagious.

Moments with fits of laughter are worth remembering, I am going to try to jot them down so I don’t forget.  Thanks to my hilarious girlfriend, the inadvertent clown, one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met even if she doesn’t realize it herself.

personal stuff work stuff

Why I Want to Teach English in China

This was the letter I wrote to the academy in China where I will teach English for 6 months starting in September.  The interview process took a few weeks over several Skype sessions, and I officially accepted their contract today.  I’m so excited!  But if you’re curious to know why I’m quitting a well paying job to do this, you can find out by reading what I wrote.  It’s kinda cheesy,  I know, but it worked!  😀


Why I want to teach English in China
Huey Ly

I love the study of linguistics, and have always found it easy to learn a new language.  Growing up in Vietnam, we spoke both Cantonese and Vietnamese at home.  My brother, sister and I would speak Cantonese with our Mom and Dad, and Vietnamese with our friends at school.  When we moved to the United States, English came naturally to us.  We were speaking English to each other within a few years of coming to America.

Language and linguistics, to me, is the essence of thoughts.  The collective sum of our experiences cannot be described and remembered without the use of language.  Advance thoughts and complex concepts cannot be formed, analyzed and processed without the use of language.  Indeed, to learn a person’s language is to be able to think as that person.  Language is more than a form of communication, learning a language can give a person insights into the culture of which it belongs to as well.

Furthermore, I love traveling and learning about the different cultures around the world.  Every city has its own characteristic, and the people living there seem to see the world in a slightly different light.  I want to be able to experience these differences, quantum leaping thru the heartbeat of each city until I’ve seen them all.  Learning about the language and culture of a place will bring me closer to that place, and eventually, the rest of the world.

And that is why I want to teach English in China (or Vietnamese, or any other languages for that matter).   It gives me the opportunity to share my love for languages with others, and at the same time help me learn new languages from the other side.  I plan to quit my cushy job as a software developer and travel the world in the next few years, teaching English and learning new languages as I go.  I plan to stay at least 6 months to a year at each location, but my schedule isn’t rigid.  I can stay longer or shorter depending on the situation.  Hopefully, by the end of it, I could say I’ve lived in all the major cities of the world, and picked up a handful of languages a long the way.

Thank you for your time and consideration.  I would love to join your institution to follow this dream.

Huey Ly
January 14, 2011


personal stuff work stuff

I Took the Strength Finder Test Twice

The company I work for have stacks and stacks of the Gallup Press’s Strengths Finder books.  Everyone that work for us have to take the test to find their top 5 strengths.  New recruits will have a print out of their strengths by the end of the orientation process, to be taken to their cubicles to proudly display it on their desks.

When we got acquired by Rackspace in 2007, this was one of the things we had to do as part of the HR transfer process.  I played along (I’m not a big consumer of self-help books).  There were reasons for me to believe that this test was a bit bogus, which I will get into in a bit.  But overtime, the results and philosophy of this process grew on me, and I’ve come to change my mind about it.  So recently, as Borders was closing its stores all over the country, I went into one and grabbed a couple of extra copies.  I gave one to my friend and kept one for myself, so that I can retake the test completely independent of the first test and see if the results match up.

Here’s how it works.  Each book contains a code that allows the owner to go to their website, register, and create an account.  It can only be used once, so you’d have to buy multiple copies of the same darn book if you want all of your employees to take it.  Once registered, the user can take the strengths finder test by answering a series of eHarmony-like questions.

The format imitates some personality tests I’ve seen in the past, where they offer two different statements that best describes you, and you are to pick which statement you’d lean more toward.  Here are some sample questions:

  • I am a sensitive person;  I am a logical person.
  • I get to know people individually; I accept many types of people.
  • My view of humanity guides my life;  My ambition guides my life.
  • I enjoy giving recognition;  I enjoy receiving recognition.
  • I enjoy relaxing;  I enjoy cleaning.

As you can see, some of these descriptions are pretty obvious in terms of what type of person would pick them.  But others are a bit more vague.  I mean, I enjoy both giving recognition and receiving them!  Some days I enjoy relaxing, other days I want to go clean things!  You can’t put labels on people this way because our moods change from day to day. Furthermore, the answers I gave became almost arbitrary.  When I came up against a vague question, I would randomly just pick a radio button, without analyzing it and making sure that it even matches my personality, because any answers could be correct depending on the day of the week and what was happening at the time.  So I became skeptical on how accurate the result would be going through these tests.

The first time around, these were my top 5 strengths:

  1. Connectedness
  2. Intellection
  3. Includer
  4. Strategic
  5. Input

If you want to get in depth with what each of those strengths mean, you can read the descriptions of a few of them on my About page.  But apparently, they were able to categorize the whole spectrum of human skills and capabilities into 34 different labels.  Another bogus flag went up for me.  It sounds almost zodiac-like!  Indeed, if you read some of the descriptions of these strengths, they read like a paragraph out of a horoscope.  For example, here is an excerpt from the Intellection strength:

This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings.  The exact focus will depend on your other strengths.  On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus.  The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think.

I mean, doesn’t that read like a horoscope entry describing people of the Pisces sign or something?  Also, many people will be able to identify with the above statement, going “Yea!  That’s me!”.  Furthermore,  I noticed they sprinkled their descriptions with these tidbids of general facts that makes you inadvertently agree with them.  Sentences like “The earlier time was a simpler time.  It was a time of blueprints.”  And “The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity.”  Yes!  Those statements are true!  So the whole paragraph seems to be more truthful and official.  Sneaky sneaky!

But despite my skepticism, I did eventually buy into the whole thing.  Yes, take the test with a grain of sand, but it can be useful in its own right.  Firstly, it forces the test taker to analyze his or her own personality, making that person spend more time thinking about what they are good at.  We often go about our daily lives without spending so much as a second for introspection.  But introspection is the ultimate catalyst for growth, and we should really do it more often.

Secondly, sometimes the person grows into the role.  The test says I’m an “Arranger”, so I’m just gonna go start arranging things!  Yea, more meetings! This placebo behavior did have its effect on me.  One of my strengths was “Includer“.  Most people I work with would go “Oh yea … you are definitely an includer” whenever they see my strengths.  Which really just means I’m friendly and sensitive to people’s feelings at certain times.  But it did make me become even more empathetic and making sure no one feels left out more so than before.

And lastly, they make great icebreakers and water cooler discussions, and provide a legitimate way to throw labels on each other and not waste too much time trying to actually figure out what a person is really like.  Yea, sarcasm.

So, all that said, let me reveal what I learned after taking the test the second time around.  I wanted to see how accurate (or precise?) this test was based on how closely the results of the two tests reflect each other.  To my surprise, they were pretty similar.  Here is the result of my second test:

  1. Intellection
  2. Connectedness
  3. Context
  4. Developer
  5. Input

As you can see, my top two strengths are still there, but swapped places.  Of the 5 top strengths, 3 of them still remain after the 2nd test.  The two that got swapped out were Includer and Strategic, which honestly I feel that I’ve care less about those traits recently.  I bet they’re still in my top 10 though.  And you can also argue that people strengths do change over time, as the environment or the experiences they went through slowly shape them.  An ideal test would be to force a subject to take the test once, wipe his memory of taking it, then make him take the test immediately after.  Regardless, the test doesn’t seem as arbitrary to me anymore after seeing these results.

So, for $24.95, this book maybe worth it for you if you’re into this kind of thing.   The analytical self-help setup adds a level of legitimacy to the process.  And it does help you think about yourself in clearer, more productive terms.  I know my company believes in its value, and on certain days, certain parts of my brain do too.

personal stuff

My Brother’s Old MySpace Blog

So I’m cleaning up my files and found a saved archive of my brother’s MySpace blogs.  I don’t know why I saved it 4 years ago, but it only took a few mouse-clicks and I figured what the heck.  Well, it’s 4 years later and he no longer uses MySpace.  He thought he saved the blog posts but can’t seem to find them now.   Lucky for him, I got them on my hard drive!

So, here ya go Vinny.  Your meager amount of blog posts from 2006-2007.  It may seem trivial, but it is a slice of your life.  Keep it safe, I’m sure it’ll give you some form of amusement when you’re an old and forgetful 80 year old man.

Vinny’s MySpace blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Beauty Tips
Time-Tested Beauty Tips (not really)

For attractive lips, botox.
For lovely eyes, lasik.
For a slim figure, go vegan.
For beautiful hair, get a wig.
For poise, don’t get up in the morning.

People, even more than things, have to be judged, criticised, and condemed.
Reminded and scold and scold and scold. Never throw out anybody, unless they’re worthless. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, beg and whine.  As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping yourself help yourself.

– Vinny “Sam Levenson” Ly


Monday, March 12, 2007
What turns you on?

So, I was thinking… isn’t it weird that female breasts turn men on, but not vice versa (or is this not the case?), then I got to thinking, is “what turn you on” a natural thing at all, or is it all programmed by society and experiences?

Bare with me here (hehe pun), what if young male kids were taught that say, EYES, or more specifically, irises, are “forbidden” to be viewed in public, because of their sexual nature, and all females go around bare-chested, but with their eyes covered either via thin veils or sunglasses or some such… would the male-of-age then see breasts as an ordinary thing, like seeing an ankle, and would pop a boner if they get a glimsp of say, the color of a pair of eyes instead?

I mean, I am almost certain it’s possible to see breasts and go meh and not be turned on, i.e. viewing a classical nude painting, or in the case of indigeous tribes in places like Africa where it is common for male and female to go barechested, because of the climate, for breasts to not be this “object of sex”, like as it is for the young pubescences male of the modern western world.

Let’s say in an alternate universe where this is the case, that the irises are to be covered for revealing them in public is a sexual taboo (for both male and female)… let’s think of the implications here.

– Kinky eyewears, half a lid, slightly see through, velvet goggles… mmmm …
– Strip shows involving a big screen with the camera focus on the eyes …
– “Hey buddy, my boobs are down here” …
– Kissing with your eyes open …
– Streaking will be… quite interesting …
– Looking into each other eyes will be foreplay …
– Playboy and Playgirl magazines featuring pages and pages of peepers …
– Jennifer Conelly, Angelina Joline, George Clooney  … sexy sexy sexy …
and on, and on, and on…

mmm… succulent eyeballs …

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why isn’t this a popular accronym?

I am going to start using it and hope it catches on right about …  nah, wgaf?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
On Intelligence

I just realized the other day that my two passions at the moment (and have been for a while) are… all things brain and all things space.

Space… well, I’ll get to that later.  Just know that I read a lot of sci-fi by the greats such as Sagan, Asimov, and C. Clarke, and although their works are fictions, their implications are profound and … quite plausible.  But again, later.

Now for the brain…

Amazon for the book “On Intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins.  It is an AMAZING read.  He discussed his theory of what it means to be intelligent and how he thinks the brain is built to support this.

Here’re the main things that really grabbed me, in bullet points pew pew style.

* The brain stores EVERYTHING in patterns via neurons in the neocortex, regardless of the source.  i.e. sights, sounds, tastes, touches, thoughts, motor memory, every senses, once they passed into the higher region of the brain, are stores exactly the same.  There’s no difference for the patterns representing a visual image, a song, or the feel of your butt on a hot pavement.  They are all just neuron signals.

* The brain processes and groups everything in a hierarchy, meaning… it will group things together in sets, such as a face has 2 eyes, a nose, and a mouth, cheeks, chin, etc.  An eye have pulpil, eyelashes, iris, color…  A book have chapters, which have paragraphs, which are made of sentences, formed by individual words, words are letters… and so on.

* The brain does not store exact patterns, it stores relationship between patterns.  i.e. The eyes are these far apart, this big compare to the rest of the face, this color compare to other colors.  This is how you can recognize the face of your friend even if you see her in profile, from faraway, in a dark room.  He called this invarient representation.  Not only that, it doesn’t just stored a pattern for a “concept”, it stores both spatial and temporal patterns for them, i.e. it stores both the physical attributes of the “object”/”concept” (spatial), and how that patterns change over time (temporal), such as the feel of a coin as you move your finger over it.

* Memories are stored as associative memory.  The brain is built so that if you give it a partial pattern, it can retrieve the whole pattern.  So you can hear a part of a song or feel a part of your sunglasses and will be able to instantly retrieve the entire song or the “concept” of your sunglasses in your head.

* And finally, he theorize that all that Intelligence is, is the ability to remember (from experiences), and to make predictions base on those memory and what it is experiencing now.  Your brain is constantly making predictions, like for instance it is predicting how this sentence will end with a period as you’re reading this.  And it will instantly notice if the sentence is weird in some w@y.

So basically, the brain is a memory and prediction machine.  That’s not what being a HUMAN is though, we still have all the excessive garbage such as emotions and hormones and taxes… only that “intelligence” is part of our attributes.

The brain doesn’t “compute” answers and solutions, it retrieves the solutions from memory, base on current facts.  This is why you can catch a ball thrown at you easily, or instantly recognize a face in a crowded room, while if you were to program a computer or a robot to do this, it would be extremely difficult.

That is all intelligence is… memory and predictions, and it makes a lot of sense, as least to me.  He does go a bit into how creativity and ingenuinity are formed.  He also gets into very deep technical detail on how the neocortex and the rest of the brain do all of the above, but I won’t get into that.  Read the book 😛

Neat stuff!

Now if only I can redirect myself to doing something related to these 2 fields for a living … I would be one happy man.


Friday, August 18, 2006
Oh Sh*t Bar

You know what’s a great invention?  The OH SHIT bars in car.  So simple, yet so … genius…ish.  It goes straight to your fight or flight response.  When something goes wrong, you look for things to hang on to.

I wish there were Oh Shit Bars in everything in life.  Your office, your bed, space at interval on the sidewalks, right next to the toilet…

Other Oh Shit medium would be nice too.  Buttons, switches, a big fricking siren you can activate.  Something that let’s the world, and yourself, know, OH SHIT,  THIS IS NOT GOOD.

Also, everyone should have an Oh Shit Person.  Somebody you immediately run to when you’re in a state of pure panic.  My Oh Shit Person is my twin brother.  He probably doesn’t know it.  Other Oh Shit People are parents, siblings, significant other, George W. Bush.

God too, don’t forget him, but he probably doesn’t give a ratass.


Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Wind Beneath My Wang

I cranked this out in 10 minutes a few months back in a moment of pure geniusness, and posted it in some of my favorite forums.  Because it’s such an awesome display of pure genioussey, and I am afraid that it might be lost to time, I’ll just re-post it here for keepsake.  Enjoy!

The Wind Beneath my Wang:
– By Vinny

It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on that place
It was content to let me shine, that’s its way.
But I am always a step behind

It was the one with all the glory
And it was the one with all the strength
But only a thing without a name … that’s so long
I never once heard it complain!!!!

Did you ever know that you’re my dildo!
And everything I’d like to be
I can fly higher than an eagle
If you are the wang beneath my wings

It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I’ve got it all here in my … err
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know
I would be nothing without you

Did you ever know that you’re my dildo!
And everything I’d like to be
I can fly higher than an eagle
But you are the wang beneath my wings!
You are the waaaaang beneath my wings…

Tuesday August 8, 2006

So my bro and I were doing our usual mindless rambling and musing while looking at

And we were like, KITTENS ARE SO CUTE!!!!  awwwwww.  Why can’t kittens stay cute for ever?  Our cat Ajax was absolutely adorable… for about 3 months.  Then poofed, no more kitten-cuteness.

So  … we thought, what if?!?!?  (that’s how genius-ness always come about btw, what if …), what if we start a kittens farm and a service called “Rent-A-Kitten”?

See, we just get a buncha horney cats, and we breed them and breed them and breed them, and get loads of kittens…  people can “rent” them for a few months until the cuteness is gone, then they can return it and get another.  Kitten cuteness all year round until the day you die!

Ok, so I know you’re asking …

What do you do with the kittens after they’re returned?

Well, some can be use for breeding … the rest we can harvest.  Give them a nice gentle perma-sleep (pc term), then we can stuff them for decorations or toys, farm their body parts like their fur for soft coat or intenstine for violin strings, lament their heads to be hang on dashboards, etc.

So, Lease-A-Kitten,

Coming to a personal hell near you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Impulse buy

Just went a bought a massage chair.  Quite expensive.  Impulse buy you say?  No, I been thinking about buying one for a while.  It’s all premedetiated.  Hopefully it’ll make my back happy.

I see it as an investment on my personal enjoyment… because … hell, if you can’t spend money on things that makes you happy, what’s the point?

… then again, you can say the same thing for every dumb decisions and purchases you have ever made … and that’s definitely frowned upon.  I mean, George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine?  Comon!!!

So, Massage chair?  Good.


personal stuff work stuff

Nostalgic Blacksburg

I made this video in the winter of ’09 before I left Blacksburg for Austin.   It’s only been a year, but those days seem so long ago.  I miss everyone there, thanks for being a part of my cherished memories.

On a side note … I figured out to convert a video to flash and embed it into a webpage without going through YouTube.  YouTube kept stripping the audio because of the song.  But the video isn’t the same without it.