Monday, April 24, 2017

April 2017

I think, for the entire duration of my whole life, this is the longest April ever.

Can't wait for all of this to end.

Four days to go.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The World According to Clarkson


Finished this giant book recently. I borrowed it from a local mini library in Bayan Baru...where I regard as my sanctuary.

The mini library was the source of almost all my reading materials as I am very short on cash to be spending on books. Plus I do not own a large space to accommodate all my books. In future, I hope to have a mini library in my own home to store all my stocks of beloved books.

Personally I am not very keen on Clarkson, as he was infamous once upon a while ago for deriding our national car Proton on his television programme. But upon reading his thoughts in writing, I think he is just that kind of person...a person who blurts out anything that crosses his mind. Can't blame him for that.

He also has a sense of humour...a lot of it to be exact. When Clarkson hates something, he hates it with every cell in his body, or in his own word "I hate you at the cellular level". I find this phrase hilarious and stupid, but that's just him.

I won't recommend this book, because it's too thick and too British-centred. But if you have nothing to do in the middle of the night and you can't sleep, this book is excellent. It will make you fall asleep faster.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Call

My father called me very late in the afternoon yesterday.

I was sleeping then, trying to recuperate from my flu. I wrapped up my work and went home early because my runny nose and frail body still bothering me.

I listened intently to my father's grouses (it was about the now infamous Fara..those who diligently monitor our local music scene might have heard about her). I never met her, I knew her through Ogy (Kechik) and how he was captivated by her. And I'm very sure she also knew about me.

I didn't want to meddle much into Ogy's private life. There are stories that were relayed by Ogy to me but was kept hidden from our family. I guess this is the brotherhood spirit.  

While keeping track of my father's story, I was distracted by a song which kept playing in the background. We do not own a radio, so it must be from the TV. Or was it coming from the phone? 

"Adik (Kechik) balik rumah ka?", I asked my father, because I was almost sure his song/voice was playing in the background.

"Balik...esok malam ada show kat Kulim. Tapi dia kluaq pi praktis sat," replied my father, and then he continued berating Fara.

With my phone still on my ear, I went out of my room and found out the sound was coming from my television. "Bukan Untukku" has been made the soundtrack of Akasia's (TV3's special slot for romantic drama, aimed primarily at women's audience) new drama.

There is a story behind this song. So I contacted Ogy (afterwards, after my father finished his call) and he confirmed it. He didn't seem excited, nor did he feel upset either.

All I can say is, almost 70% of what was being said of him (online) is not true. There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformations flying around in the cyberspace, some without even a tinge of truth in it.

If given a bit of a time, I'd like to write down everything that really happened to him. Maybe in the foreseeable future.

Time for dinner. My friends are waiting.       

Sunday, April 2, 2017

English is Weirdly Fun


I am down with a mild flu...it strikes at the most inconvenient of times. There's nothing much I could do about it, apart from periodically taking Panadol Soluble to ease my running nose.

Laughter is the best medicine, so they say.  The above sentence is grammatically correct, and it somehow brings a much-needed cheer to my currently dispirited state.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The End of C2 & C4

My beloved C2 and C4 will be eventually sacrificed tomorrow.

C2 and C4 are my monikers for two of my remaining experimental rats which are still alive. Both of them should be euthanised by the end of January, but I somehow managed to keep them breathing until today.

Our Quality Assurance (QA) is constantly bombarding me with a barrage of questions regarding the fate of these two little mammals, which I love very dearly. I understand her predicament that we should adhere to our facility's policy at all times, but I just couldn't find the heart to do it.

Our Study Director (SD) has finally had enough, and he had ordered C2 and C4 to be eliminated tomorrow. I am seriously considering releasing them into the wild...but the consequence is bleak as well...I was told they would meet with an even crueller fate. Being born and bred in lab, they couldn't survive even one day in the wild.

There's nothing more I could do. Farewell C2 and C4. You two will always be remembered.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Real Sunday

Today is the real Sunday, as opposed to yesterday's comical confusion. I had a sophisticated delusional sense of time nowadays...as every day seems to be the same day for me (for the moment, I work on weekends...that's why).

Tomorrow is going to be a hectic day, in fact it's going to be hectic for the whole week as critical phase of our experiment is fast approaching. Despite my tight schedule cramming me up into my office's corner, I managed to squeeze myself out (momentarily) just now to the nearest public library to find some leisure in the company of books.

There's no better way to free your mind from all the hassle of work than immersing yourself in a sea of books! I returned three books, received RM2.70 fine in return (I was late for nine days), then quickly setting my eyes on the shelf for any interesting book. 

My attention was fixed on one book...based on the title alone, I know it's going to be a good read. In all, I borrowed three books; one touches on the discussion of our religion, one revisits the dilemma faced by Malays, and the last one tells the story of Hang Tuah.

It's going to be a good read to distract myself from my work, I'm sure of it.

For movies, this is my updated version, published chronologically.





Have a good weekend. I'm off to finish my work.        

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sun-Not Day

It's Sunday, meaning, it should be a sunny day. 

But right across my office's window now, I could see dark clouds gradually clumping together.

It should start raining anytime soon, I'm afraid. Possibly a storm.

The weather is extremely unpredictable nowadays...just now, when I went out looking for a new water heater, I was treated with an outrageously blistering heat, enough to fry my outer skin if it were to be left exposed uncovered. 

That's why whenever there was a traffic light ahead, I prayed there would be trees alongside the street...so that I could take a shelter while waiting for the light to turn green.

My hands are currently tied with endless work...it's tedious and unfeasible, but currently it's the only way to get it done. We still do not possess a working and functional computerised system, so it all should be done manually. By me. Alone.

Personally, my mind is both fuzzy and numb...thinking about so many things at once. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock, un-doing every stupid thing that I've committed.

But that's not how the world works. The clock will continue clicking...time will continually moving. We are either ahead of time, or time will mercilessly leave us trailing behind.

It's getting darker, and windier. A windstorm is coming. Hope it will wash away this gloomy mood of mine I'm currently in.

P/S (25/03/2017 5.41 P.M)
Just minutes after posting this, I realised today is actually Saturday, not Sunday. I must have been confused by the raging interchange of the weather. Not in the mood to edit or change the title or content of the post, so I'll leave it as it is, with this Post/Script as the end note. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Work is Love


A stack of unprecedented workload is raining on me nowadays, so I don't have much time on cyberspace, let alone on Pancasara.

But I still try to find time catching up on my readings...because reading and writing are what make me refreshed and feel alive.

My colleagues are having pregnancies at the same time...so I have to cover their workload for the time being. I am surrounded by young and expecting mothers in my workplace, and all of them are expecting their first child. 

So it's quite a bizarre situation when they are discussing their tales of pregnancy, while I'm sitting right next to them, drinking coffee. As long as they are not feeling uncomfortable with it, I'm OK with it.

Many interesting things happened this week...the urge to jot it all down is sky-high, but I have to finish my work first (it's Sunday and I'm here in my office). Life is going well at the moment for me...there are bumps ahead, but I'll try not to think about it. Let's cross the bridge when we are there. 

It's no point worrying about problems that you have very limited control of...this piece of wisdom I gathered after watching Passengers yesterday. 

So for the moment, relax and enjoy your work.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Movies





It's been too long since I last updated my movie collections. I rarely had time to enjoy a good viewing nowadays, but whenever that rare opportunity surfaces, I'll give it a good shot.

This is my stack of recommended movies for viewing pleasures...best enjoyed by those who craved a good story line with sprinkling of actions along the way.

The Wailing in particular, is packed with heavy stuff. Good and evil are harshly intertwined in this dark tale of horror. The ending will leave viewers with more questions than answers.

I'm off to enjoy my weekend. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lesson from Ethanol

When helping my colleague to prepare disinfectant yesterday, I was ridiculed by her for not knowing how to prepare 70% ethanol.

It was not that I was ignorant; it was just a case of recollection. I last prepared ethanol myself almost two to three years ago and it had escaped my mind ever since. A little spark would help me refresh my weakened memory.

But no, it’s almost a capital sin for asking this little but significant question. Our custom dictates that it’s better to keep quiet and remain ignorant rather than opening our mouth and asking this supposedly silly question.

Throughout my learning years, and I perceive my whole life as a learning process, I regard knowledge as sacred. Every little thing that I have little or no information about, I will ask question and did a light reading. I did not assume something to be true unless after I gleaned a bit of information relevant to the subject first. Facts are very important to me and I hold it dear to my heart.

I noticed nowadays, our so-called experts are reluctant to admit that they were clueless about certain details pertaining to their subject matters, but they are quick to condemn other people who commit basic mistakes in subject related to their expertise.

Admit when you have no information or knowledge about something; it won’t lower your stature. Don’t deride when somebody is asking you a seemingly silly question; it won’t elevate your status.

Now hold on while I'm preparing my ethanol. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Better Tomorrow

Today is a lot of mess.

After (shamefully) skipping yesterday’s medical screening, I reported for work today with much derision.

It was a friendly derision, of course. And I didn’t take anything of it to the heart.

I had this fear of blood, or blood phobia, a strange kind of sickness, which greatly affected my chances of becoming a doctor during my youth (I was offered an interview to becoming a doctor by JPA back in 2003).

I never wanted to become a doctor by the way. I took biology in SPM just for the sake of learning. You were paid to study whatever subjects you wanted, so why dropped one important subject just because you wanted to be an engineer?

Biology is a beautiful field, filled with lots of intriguing truth of life. To sidestep biology is akin to ignore the bountiful knowledge of life sciences.

I was told I still have to attend the medical check up...much to my dismay. The last time my blood was withdrawn out of my body was in 2002, and I almost fainted. I remember one of my classmates looking at me, horror-struck, to see my face turning very pale.

All I know was that I was frightened to death as the blood was withdrawn from my left hand. 

That experience of horror still left a big mark on my memory up to this day.

For my next experiment, I was required to undergo a full health screening, complete with Tetanus jab and blood withdrawal.

So I could only run...but eventually, the truth hurts...I’ll have to face the needles.

On my way to IPS (Institute of Postgraduate Studies) of USM, I lost my access card.

My faithful plastic card holder was so old that it tore up at the bottom, resulting in my access card slipping away without me ever noticing it.

I searched the whole place twice without any meaningful result. It must be fated.

I already paid RM70 for the processing fee...and then I have to fork out another RM30 for the lost card.

Surely tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tales From School - Perfume

Written sometime between September and October of 2016, this out of boredom short story is one of my string of essays chronicling my life as a part-time worker in a school's canteen during my sabbatical.

It was a very enriching three months experience, the one that I would never forget. The rest of the remaining essays would be published periodically, if time permits - Pancasara

Perfume

It was nearing 10.30 a.m., and I was waiting for the school’s bell to ring. My task was done...I had prepared almost 50 plates of rice for the school’s secondary student. It was surely tiring but I had come to like this work.

The recess hour was preceded by lower secondary (form 1-3) before their seniors (upper secondary, form 4-5) were given permission to eat. A ten minutes cooling period gap was squeezed between the two, acting as a buffer. 

Each day, a teacher was tasked to monitor all the students. Usually he/she will carry around a medium-length cane with them, for punishing purpose. Any student who dared to flout the law (e.g. still eating outside recess hour) had the possibility to be canned, although that possibility was slim. A high-pitch yelling from the teacher in charge would usually do the job.

The recess hour was like a refugee’s camp. Students went out all starving as if they had never eaten for years. They cramped the canteen’s selling area, out-muscling each other to get to the food first. Early buyer had the chance to choose the biggest fried chicken, that’s why they fought their way to get to the front.

Usually there were four people staffing the canteen arena...Ciktie, Kak Ani, Fahmi and me. I kept watch of the rice and drink section. I served them whenever they wanted more rice, or when they wanted to buy can/bottle drink.

In this particular case, a group of students came to us midway through the recess hour. They came in a group, not a rare phenomenon as students always walked together in groups. There were three to five of them. Not a single one of them said anything other than asking for rice.

What struck me as weird was the scent that emanated the area as soon as they approached. It smelled very nice...as if every one of them was wearing a perfume.

Fahmi also noticed this odd occurrence.

“Pasaipa semua wangi? Hangpa nak mengorat Ms Lau ka?” he quipped with his usual wit (Ms Lau, the discipline teacher, was usually the subject of ridicule among students, mostly because she was a strict teacher, partly because she was still unmarried at forty).

They didn’t respond to Fahmi’s question. They gave a smile and paid the price of the food in complete silence. This further invoked my curiosity.

It was actually a good practice to put on perfume while studying. Imam Malik, one of the four main imams in Islam, was said to put on perfume when he was preaching to his students.

I was thinking, they might be following imam Malik’s lead to better capture what was being taught by their teachers.

This group of students was our hope for a better future.    

It was not after an hour later that I found out the real answer.

Taking a short break after I finished cleaning up the dishes, I headed towards the toilet. In a turn of event, that same group of students was being reprimanded by a teacher after they were caught red-handed smoking in the toilet.

That perfume functioned only as a red herring to cover their act. They were smiling and had finally broken their complete silence earlier after being repeatedly pinched by the male teacher. 

My high hope on them earlier was fast becoming a comedy. But who knows what they might achieve in the future?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Merbok 2

1. I came back from Terengganu on Tuesday, took EL (Emergency Leave) on Wednesday to fully recover from fatigue, and back to work on Thursday.

2. On Friday, I was again back on the road...this time for a much-awaited research expedition to Merbok.

3. I first came to Merbok in 2000, during a school trip. We visited Lembah Bujang. As a 15-year-old then, I was swept away by the sight of old monuments (candi) scattering across the area up to the top of the hill.

4. I made a promise (then) to come back to that area when I was older. That promise was realised last year.

5. I followed the first (Merbok) expedition last year on the back of an outsider's ticket. Fakhrul had a freak accident, injured his elbow and was unable to lift heavy materials. I was roped in to help with his project.

6. It was among the best decisions I'd ever made throughout my life. The expedition was a success, and I'd absorbed a great deal of experience over the entire course of the trip. A packed schedule refrains me from putting all of it into words ever since; but in due time, I will.

7. So it's the same case for Merbok 2...I still couldn't find the much needed time to properly put all that priceless experience into words yet. But in due time, I will. 

8. So for the time being, I'll just share this beautifully set-up net for insect trapping, which was erected just outside our lodging. I don't know why but this picture is so pleasing to my eyes.
9. So, until then.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kuala Terengganu

The Crystal Mosque of Kuala Terengganu. This is my second visit here, the first being on April 11, 2015. 
How time really flies.

I arrived from the east coast late night yesterday.

Heavy windstorm greeted me while I was in Grik, and it chased me all the way to Kulim and Penang.

Maybe the dark clouds were never tired of crowning over my head.

As if, they were enjoying chasing me ever since.

Even when I kept running, they never failed to locate me.

It was a weird four-day hiatus in Kuala Terengganu.

I was very happy there...with my friends, basking in the sunlight of the east coast, moving here and there looking for tasty food, watching people all around.

Laughing together.

But it was the person that I wanted to meet the most that ripped my heart apart.

I knew she was there...but with no news, a cut off communication, and a bizarre silence, I couldn’t comprehend her real intention behind her course of action.

Curiosity kills the cat.

Un-explanation kills me. 

A hurtful explanation is always better than a complete silence.

That’s why I always left people in black or white...not grey.

At least...to the people who I cared the most.

It was literally the end of a chapter for me.

Was it a failure?
Yes but no.

Was it a success?
No but yes.

I can’t answer that question specifically...because the answer depends.

It depends on how you define “success” or “failure”.

But deep inside, I know I’ve done all that I could.

So in the future, when my older self questions me,
“It could have been...”

I could reply to him,
“It was never a could have been...I did all I could”

I still have friends in Penang...but the one friend that I lost over the east coast, was the most definitive.

She may have gone, but the memories will remain.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Skills vs Stamina, Which Comes First?

I did a very simple experiment these past few months...to determine the single most important aspect in squash.

Some say squash is the most demanding sports in the world in terms of fitness. High level of fitness is greatly required to properly play this fantastic game.

I had doubt about this claim, although I admit fitness/stamina is crucial towards how far a player can move up the rank in squash.

I placed more importance on finesse, because to me, squash is about technique. I remember, during my younger days, watching in awe how (King) Kenny of Malacca beautifully control the ball and made his opponent move like a headless chicken around the court.

Kenny was the man who inspired me to take up squash seriously. I met him before I knew Fahmi, another squash's gem from Malacca. These two were the biggest impact that influenced my early life.

I had been playing squash without the aid of stamina last year (played one week, rested three weeks, played again, rested another month). The result was humiliating...I lost even to the young player who took up squash just recently.

So I tried a new formula...build up my fitness before I hold squash racquet again, by concentrating on badminton.

I played two to three times a week (badminton), sometimes until my body told me to stop. I also played ping pong sparingly (at least once a week) and watched my food intake. I tried regulating my sleep pattern to ensure that I sleep around the same time every night.

After a month and a half, today I picked up squash racquet and headed towards the court. I'm fairly confident that my level of fitness has arisen significantly, although the same could not be said of my skills. Skills and techniques improve and rot in tandem with practice...if you didn't practise, your skills and techniques will surely deteriorate with the passing of time. 

I played against Cyrus and comfortably won, which was strange. I used to struggle against him, but not this time. We played a total of five games, and I won all.

Next was Megat, my long-time friend when off court, but arch-enemy when inside court. Megat is now a coach for Penang under-12 category. I never beat Megat before, and this trend seemed to continue when I went down the first two sets against him.

But something strange was happening, as the match went on, I felt more and more comfortable moving around the court. As the match progressed, his point lead was narrowing, and I won the third set after levelling the score.

I strongly believed this miracle has something to do with my fitness level. I used to think fitness is second after finesse, but now after this experience, I think fitness is more important than finesse, at least in squash.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Where are the Women?

"Romeo died for love, Valentine died for love, Jack of Titanic, Samson from the Bible, Hercules, Achilles, and even Jesus died for love"
Where are the women?
As tomorrow is Valentine's Day, this amusing anecdote is again gaining momentum in the cyberspace.

I first read it last year, mentioned and elaborated passionately by a female editor of our local daily English newspaper.

She tried (a bit) hard to expose the fallacy of this passage, but in the end, she must have realised that there is no fallacy in the above statement...

...because it is entirely true (apart from Jesus, where we Muslims have different interpretation about his final moment on earth). 

Women always cry foul that they sacrificed a lot for love, but the truth is, as was proven time and time again over the course of history, men sacrificed a lot more than women.

Men even died for the women they love.

I do not celebrate Valentine's Day, but for one (especially women), just take a moment to appreciate men around you. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Time is Important; Facts are Sacred

I'm seriously considering elaborating my last post (The Last Lecture) into a full-length article, but time is of a concern. 

Nowadays, I rarely had time to do any extra reading on subjects related to my work, let alone putting down a complete write-up of a farewell speech, even though its message was overwhelming and its relevance was far-reaching.

For now, I'm just concentrating on my work, trying to stay on course on my work's schedule. I was given much leeway now compared to the yesteryear.

Out of boredom, I read a posting by a facebook page called PseudoScience Watch, in which they tried to expose a scam purportedly committed by a researcher.

What PseudoScience Watch intended to achieve was noble; they tried to expose the scammer. But in so doing, they inadvertently committed a grave mistake - they mixed up their facts.

First, they claimed a supervisor shall be the first writer in every journal's article, not the student. This is blatantly not true as it is a common practice for a post-graduate student to be the first author, with his or her supervisor as the corresponding author.

Second, they had the audacity to claim that only a certified medical doctor could conduct a medical-related research (P/S: This comment was made by a commentator, not admin). Visit any research institution related to medical/healthcare or any pharmaceutical company, hardly any medical doctor is stationed there. Most of the researches are conducted by chemists/biologists or even pharmacists.

Two of well-known examples are INFORMM (Institute For Research in Molecular Medicine) in USM and IPHARM (Malaysian Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals). Not even one medical doctor is currently working there, yet these two institutions are actively conducting research related to medicine/vaccine/drug.

PseudoScience Watch is a good page, but their young admins need to refrain themselves from talking about subject that they knew very little about. Facts are very sacred nowadays; once you lose your credibility, it's hard to get it back.

Correction 13/2/2017
I was made to understand that the second claim was made by a commentator, not the admin. For this, I apologise and have made necessary correction, although I left the accompanying comments for clarification purposes. 

The real comment by the admin was "only a certified medical doctor could prescribe drug to combat diseases in human body", which is factually correct.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Last Lecture

A month has passed since my last progress report presentation.

I woke up early today, in order to finish up my presentation's slide. I laid out the draft of my slide early yesterday's night, before leaving it unfinished to attend my weekly badminton's session.

There was nothing to present actually, as I had just completed my study. I summarised what I'd done for the last two weeks in a very basic slide.  

The prime focus this time was on what our ED (Executive Director) had to say. If everything went as planned, this was to be his final session as the top person in the institute.

I wished I could write down (here) everything that was delivered by our ED in his (apparent) final speech, but we were forewarned in an e-mail earlier this week to be careful of what we wrote in cyberspace.

"Once on the internet, it will stay in it forever" was the gist of the e-mail's message.

Although it was not directed specifically towards me, I felt the need to abide by the advice, more so as Ipharm was planning to make full use of social media in the very near future to solidify its position.

There was no question from the audience when I wrapped up my presentation, but ED and my current Division Director stopped me halfway as I was leaving the presentation's area.

ED asked me some familiar questions (to which I'd already answered, as recently as yesterday). I was fully aware that he was still not fully satisfied with my earlier explanation (not his fault as I withheld certain information from him).

The next ten days would be very crucial as we wait for the final confirmation from the ministry. The minister in charge holds all the card.          

Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Year 2017

So, I wrapped up my study today.

I successfully presented our findings to Ipharm's top echelon in today's monthly progress report meeting, albeit in a comically nervous manner (I'm always uneasy facing a crowd of people).

There are too many things in my mind right now, but for a moment, I just wanted to put it aside. I just want to have my much awaited holidays (I was working for two straight months without any days off).

It's 2017 already, and Pancasara will be celebrating it's 10th anniversary come this September. It's not easy to keep writing when no one even realises you even existed! So I will pat myself on the back for this unusual self-accomplishment.

Here's to a more productive and meaningful year of 2017!