>Minutes of Kuantan.

>Kuantan airport –> Hired Car –> Wira Automatic –> “Wah, tak ada Kelisa meh?!” Wira expensive lah –> Sesat –> Found hotel. Too early. –> “Yay! – a Starbucks nearby” –> Chamomile-Tea –> Facebook –> text my colleagues –> “Eii, mana you all??” —> “Sudah sampai” —> Makan –> Gossip –> My professor thinks meal too expensive —> taruh the restaurant: “Wei, though we are tourists, we’re not stupid lahh!” –> Colleagues checked in —> “creepy lah, your resthouse” —> Register as participant at Hyatt –> “Wah, nice swimming pool!” —> Short, but scenic beach –> East-Coast Mall –> “Wah, another Starbucks here. There’s only 1 in Ipoh” –> Eat laksa –> You balik your creepy hotel; I love my cozy hotel –> Alone. Scared. —> Watch HellBoy 2 pirated DVD —> Olympics –> Ter-sleep.



L-R: Starbucks in Berjaya Megamall, Chamomile-T, Extremely beautiful beach of Teluk Chempedak

Aiya, late! Snoozed 3 times –> Drive recklessly –> Lost –> Alas, Hyatt –> Papers after papers; presentations after presentations –> Boring –> Found out that ‘Yakult has human feces-bacteria’ –> Lunch –> Dr. Tan found me –> become his kuli –> Presented posters –> Car missing, friends ‘stole’ —> Swimming –> Pina colada by the pool –> Freestyle, thinking of Park Tae-Hwan –> Alone –> “So many ppl wanna tumpang my car arrr??? Please queue-up” –> Lost (again!) –> I forgo my Grand Dinner –> for Malaysia –> Watch Malaysia kena belasah in Badminton finals –> Dissapointed –> Alone –> “Should have just gone for the Grand dinner” ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

L-R: My poster; My new friend (she’s soo nice), Lunch ALONE.

Hyatt –> Dr. Ting’s presentation – My ultimate rival in research! –> Flirted with judges –> Later told me I win 3rd place (again! think AMC2007) –> Buy souvenirs –> Sleep in my cozy hotel –> Sleep –> Dream of Patrick, my doggy ๐Ÿ˜› –> Sleeeeeeeeeep –> Prayed that I don’t snooze next morning.

Airasia –> KL –> No place like KL. My home.
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>A scientist near you?

>

If you read the book “How Starbucks Saved My Live”, you will be surprised how some insignificant, everyday, routine, daily activities can change you into a better person. I could relate to that story, all the more, it happened in Starbucks right in the heart of PJ. My X’mas mood plus my daily dose of caffeine requires me to be in Starbucks at least once a week. No doubt by this time of the year, I yearn dearfully for my Toffee Nut Latte and the need to collect 17 stickers before mid-Jan to get my cute little 2008 diary.

So there I was on a Sunday afternoon after visiting an aikido friend in hospital for a fractured collar bone, ordering my ToffeeNut Latte and then filling up some Sudoku numbers. With my Prof.’s reminder haunting me (he haunts me daily by saying: read at least one journal a day), I took out two scientific journals and started reading (well, it was just browsing and flipping those pages). Not even a minute passed, I almost doze off. But I was kept awake by a really cute guy in front of me and it’s definitely not science at work.

All of a sudden, the guy beside me with a laptop pat my back and asked if he could join me at my table. I thought: “Hey, you’ve got your own table, don’t take mine! And you’re not that cute!” And I blurted out rudely: “Err…yes, anything?!”

He was a Singaporean, started working a month ago with our WWF saving tigers in Malaysian jungles. He claimed he has been in Malaysia for a couple of years doing research near Ipoh, Kelantan, Pahang checking out on snails. He’s a snails expert ๐Ÿ™‚ He couldn’t help but noticed that I was reading scientific journals. Ohhh come on, what are the chances of you meeting a guy who loves biology and …..err…..have an inclination towards snails!!! (weirdo) And yes, he passed me few of his papers, published in high impact-factor journals. And of course (sob!), I have none to pass to him. Malunya! Now I can see why NUS is such a great university, he’s just a master student for 2 years, and has published 4 papers (four!!!) in high impact-factor journals.

The rest of the day (and night) was history….. I had a great time, and it’s been a long time since I had some nice intellectual, scientific chat with anyone. Especially when someone is interested in your field too. Did he change my life (like the story in the book)? Indeed it has, because from today onwards I swear to publish at least one paper in a high impact-factor citation-indexed journal. What a great motivator.

P/S: I should go to Starbucks more and read journals there…you will never know a scientist is just right beside you.

>Writer’s block.

>

After attending a seminar on ‘Publishing for Postgrads’ last week, I think I need to revamp my whole Ph.D. research. It’s more like little changes here and there to cater for my publishing needs. To publish in citation-indexed journals is like…impossible (with regards to my research), but I think maybe I need to brush-up on my English and make it more professional/business-like. My grammar is quite good (chhe….!!), but I definitely write like a 5-year old! Many people do not realise that despite flawlessness in my spoken English (cheez….my scholarship interviewers were defeinitely impressed), I write English like a kindergarten kid – no ‘flowery’ words, no puns. And depite my hobby being reading (I read A LOT) and watching American movies (that’s how I indirectly improve my English), I still cannot write professionally. It’s like there’s a ‘barrier’ in my brain that…okay, seeeeee…..I cannot find the exact word to say it (sigh). I cannot express anything properly in writing! How to publish?

(come to think of it, blogging is also a form of publishing)…nevermind…

I also had this ‘writer’s block’ this month. I wanted to express myself but I just can’t. Not in words and not verbally too. Not sure about the science behind ‘writer’s block’ but I hate it. There’s soo many stuffs that I want to say – about my country, my life, my friends, my studies…but cannot pour out to anything and to anyone. Nm. After my publishing seminar at UPM, I went to Camerons. And there, I got hooked up with this lady from MARDI, who knows almost every farmer in Camerons. She’s an expert in this pesticide thingy, and she is tactful in asking pesticide questions when interviewing farmers (sensitive issue leh)….god, she knows like millions of languages…I just adore her.

When I was down from Camerons, I had ppl waiting for me to celebrate my birthday…not that I don’t like my birthday…it’s just like another day to me. Thanks all who celebrated for me. And just THREE DAYS in Camerons, I didn’t know soooo much have happen down at lowland Selangor. I didn’t know: “Pak Lah got married?!! Bird Flu in Sg. Buloh area?! Some landlord set-up hidden cameras to spy on naked tenants?!” Camerons is soo dead and un-cold (blame it again on global warming?) that you just don’t get any breaking news there. Nobody talks about anything, but vege, flowers, pesticide and contaminated water. Cameron folks just do their thing and forget about the world beneath them. But I believe that being ignorant about the world is good at times. Carefree.

(okay…er…err….er…I dunno what to write!)…Writer’s block syndrome coming back!!

Pui Wah came back from Taiwan to be with here family here for a month. Welcome back, Pui Wah!!! Glad you are back. We will meet up. Tell me about bird flu…or the chicken research you are working on (not!).

Hei, this SMART tunnel is not too ‘smart’ after all. Now, don’t tell me it’s to save KL from STORM floods and not FLASH flood?!!? So what is it EXACTLY built for, hah?! Also, there will never be an end to this flash floods in KL centre as long as SemiVallue still reigns his JKR throne.

>’Brave New World’

>My form 3 tuition teacher (Mr. Low, who lives on the same street as I ’til today) have always talked about 3 books that have to be read by everyone:

1. Alice In Wonderland by a Reverend (?! wow) Louis Carroll, also a mathematician & logician.

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell, an anti-Stalinism.

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I read Alice in Wonderland..like..years years ago…when I was still a kid. Well, I read it uncritically and thought of the story as boring and weird or ‘just-another-fantasy kinda story’. Now, it’s is the most mathematically profound (exaggerating..) book I’ve ever read!! (okay, because I DON’T read maths book!).

I’ve read Orwell’s Animal Farm also like….years years…ago whereby pigs, chicken and all sorts of domesticated animals playing politics right at your backyard. Hmmph…I actually totally forgot what it’s all about right now. Guess I’ll just go to UPM library to pick up this book and read it all over again…when I have the time.

At present, I am reading Brave New World. Well, it’s like a science fiction thingy (dystopian fiction, they call it) but it’s inconceivable that our world would be divided into two worlds in the future as ‘humans’ search for 1) stability and/or 2) freedom. Which world is utopian? Which world is dystopian? U decide. A ‘civilised’ world -where people literally worship the maker of their world (they depise God), nobody gets pregnant, nobody becomes old, everyone is squeakily hygiene, babies are hynotised to live in their unquestionable own castes when they grow up, little girls taught to be promiscuous, no families, kids asking “what is a ‘mother’?”, hormone therapy everyday, etc. etc, etc (nighmare!). In ‘civilisation’, stability is achieved. No clashing, no fighting, no wars. Everyone is made to understand their own role in their respective castes. No questions asked.

The dystopian world is the one we currently live in. Women conceive viviparous-ly, people do get old and fat, worships God, stinkingly unhygienic, wage war against one another, there is such thing as ‘family’ and ‘mother’ and ‘father’, and there is such thing as ‘romance’, etc. etc…..all those things you own/have today. In Brave New World – these are percieved as wah lau…’uncivilised’.

Come to think of it, I prefer THIS world – overwhelmed with abnormalities and oddities. Makes us more human, right!?

Remember the movie – “The Island” starring Scarlett Johanssen? Something like that lorrr…..but, of course, different plot la..

>Cellulite or no cellulite, that is not the question.

>

Never is a thousand years would i thought of going to a gym. I basically hate the thought of enrolling myself in a fitness centre because I heard that there are many ‘aunties’ there working out. Well, I don’t want to be labelled ‘Auntie’ marrrr. Another reason why I loathe fitness centres was because I knew it would be a dull thing. You are alone doing your stuffs, using the equipment. Nobody is your friend when it comes to fitness. All alone. I have always prefer pure sports such as swimming, badminton, and martial arts like Aikido because competition, contact and skills are involved. We make many close friends in sports. In short: not dull.

I went for my first class of aerobics. Wow, I thought I can do aerobics, because I presumed that my swimming and aikido would have made me fitter than any other ppl. Once the class got started, I realised that I was soooo lost! Lost & blur. People can just jump, leap, and dance and dance and dance non-stop for an hour, and here I am drinking a whole bucket of water and resting on the bench all the time.

Then, I tried bodycombat. Bodycombat is like kickboxing and dancing in synchro. Okay, I know Aikido, so I again presumed that I can do this like a piece of cake. I almost died. These ‘Aunties’ are 10 times better than me in terms of fitness. They kick-box (and shout kiai) like they have just murderlized someone in the hall. I can’t do kick boxing at all! I have no strength to continue. What more: I am suppose to climb Mount Kinabalu on 1st Feb.
Peak of Kinabalu
My Personal Trainer did not make my day either. He said that he has climbed Mount Kinabalu 3 times, and people like Ivy Chai will ‘suffer’ their way up. He assured me that in 2 weeks, I would be the fittest and the first in the group to reach the mountain. Okay, he make me do push-ups 30 times. I died. He made me run the treadmill and cycle to check my endurance. I died. I died in almost everything he asked me to do. I am not fit. Aunties with cellulite also can beat me. In 2 weeks, hopefully this will change for the better.

Gym is boring. Period. I have NO friends, no motivation. My personal gym trainer is my only friend and motivator. Almost everyone’s goal is either to be fit and toned (that’s my ultimate goal) or to lose weight (not my goal). Almost after every run at the treadmill, or after kickboxing or after aerobics, I will still return to the swimming pool in the gym to swim my favourite backstroke. And then, in the evening, I love a piece of good whacking, rolling, shomen and flips in Aikido.

>Thinking bac

>

E. coli is one of the most common bacteria, and what I meant by the word ‘common’ is that we can find it in our gut (it is basically harmless to human, animals), and we usually use it in genetic engineering, esp. in cloning purposes. However, the strain Escherichia coli O157:H7 is now being identified as the culprit in the recent outbreak of E. coli poisoning in the US. CDC has yet to establish the source from which the disease spread. It could come from the cheese, milk, or more probably vegetables like spinach and lettuces; some vegetables may have come into contact with feces of animals. The bacteria may even arrive on our food thru’ the fertigation system. I am not sure about the situation in The US, but it interest me a lot because I believed that last September, I was victimised by some bacteria thingy tooo……

It was Sept. 2006 that we had our annual aikdo camp near Betong, foot of Genting. Well, my boy-boy had already realised that our lunch was not fresh. He claimed that the pok-choy has this pesticide-laden-taste kinda feeling, and does not look fresh either. However, I went on gobbling up my lunch. Aha, upon returning to my house….the same night, I developed some nausea feeling; I felt sooo weak that I can barely wake up. The headache was soo bad. Pounding on my right eye socket. It was sort of like some migrain. I took a whole lot of Panadol, eventhough I know that was not recommended, but even the pills could not help. Next morning, in the lab, I was vomitted, and my lab stinked! Vomitting all out couldn’t help either. I thought throwing-up would have solved the problem, but it didn’t. The pounding on my head was sooo bad that i couldnt drive back home.

The next 2 days (!!) was hell. I had this appointment with an Australian company and together with my professor (I drove!). I was already shivering in the car. During the meeting, I couldn’t even concentrate. It was a shame, because the meeting was very fruitful, and imagine this – I didn’t talk much. Usually, I would be the one dominantly speaking in the meeting. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, my fever was soooo bad (my supervisor did not know), and freezing, I drove my supervisor back to UPM, ran straight for the toilet bowl and vomitted.

Many people who joined the camp also experienced the same problem. I heard that Kow sensei was also sick, Jong Yan and others too. I could have gone to the hospital, and that is, if Dr. House were there to diagnose me. Love him. Til today, I have no idea what triggered the whole thing or what was that bloody sickness all about. I implicated that the bacteria Salmonella typhi was the bloody cause of it. Typhoid. It was the most probable cause.

>Kuok and Oscar

>I was invited to the Kuok Foundation Award Ceremony which I ‘striked’ (lottery) after last month’s interview. I did feel like a lottery ticket because I found out the there were only 2 receipients this year for Ph.D. (out of MANY interviewees)! Another receipient was a girl from UKM, doing research on molecular medicine (cancer research), just a year older than I, and fast-tracked thru’ Ph.D. too. I think her name was Wong something something….sorry!

The son and daughter of the late Tun Hussein Onn’s was present, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Chye Kuok (manages the Shangri-La hotel business), datuk-datuks and my interviewers were also there!!! (Hisshamuddin Hussein wasn’t there – a set back!). I was glad I met with all of them, mixing with ‘big-shots’ was what I wanted all this while, because I’ve always believed in networking (think SIF!) as the way to grow further and succeed in live. I realised that their perspective of things are somewhat different and their advices came in handy. I am glad to be invited into this elite club of scholars!

Wong something something, GM of Kuok Foundation: Lynette Ng, and I


I went shopping after that, but shopping was also quite torturous because I have to button-unbotton, zip-unzipped my shirt a thousand times just to try on the clothings. My boy took me out to eat the famous pan-mee behind his office for dinner. The pan-mee was absolutely superb, but the price is mad! Sooo bloody, dead, freaking expensive for a small bowl of pan-mee. But my boy-boy pays for me, so I just eat only.

I thought this year was bad year for me. It wasn’t entirely afterall. True? True?

I want to dedicate this award to several people (like an Oscar speech): First, to myself for unbelievably convincing during the interview, My parents who are just soooo happy I could pay for their bills now that I have money, my supervisor who took time writing all those recommendation letters and dunno-what letters to Kuok, to Yeng Pooi who knows of someone from received the scholarship before (g00d luck in Taiping!), to Callie, Beatrice, Fee Yen whom I met last weekend (Fee Yen, manage my money well, k?) and my boy-boy who feeds me fat (with pan-mee) and love me fat too.