Friday, October 29, 2010

It's post #667. No wonder the post before this was rather satanic. 

Moving on now to another thing that is worth to talk about today. A rather interesting topic, I'd say. Today, I will introduce to all of you the discussion on 'whether or not I should study abroad', best discussed in lengthy but awfully entertaining writing I am certainly known for, though not by all but at least by some who have found this blog to be worth reading. 

There was a time, and then another time soon after that, and again, and then a few days after that, and so on, that people came to me and asked: "Why did not you continue studying oversea?"

Tricky question. Do I answer them with apologetic smiles, sad faces or lengthy arguments? Well I am not the type who makes faces when approached, so as expected I usually gave them a lengthy explanation that sometime I think how they would have wished that I was abroad at the time to save the trouble, and just how regretting they were for even having the slightest thought to ask a person, somewhat to be me, that "why did not you continue to study abroad?", particularly for my postgraduate studies. 

Let's take a look at my arguments:

There are two types of Master's Degree; one by course and one by research. 

Master's Degree by course means that anybody who applies for it will have to go through a series of long-hour lectures, do assignments, attend some tests, write endless reports and in the end go for examinations from which soon after that their overall performances will be graded accordingly to a point to decide whether or not they pass everything to earn themselves some Master's Degree. The good thing about this type of Master's Degree is that it is shorter in time to complete, but the people who have them might get in trouble soon when they apply for Ph.D, from which many universities do not accept students with Master's Degree by course because the students do not have any particular background in research. Ph.D normally is done by research, therefore essentially anybody who wants to apply for it has to have sufficient background in research, hence the need of a Master's Degree by research.

Master's Degree by research, which I currently am doing, is a type of study where a student will have a supervisor and co-supervisors to report to about any kind of research they are particularly doing. These supervisor and co-supervisors will assist in the research by monitoring the student's performance and progress with an aim to complete all the objectives of research in times. Research here means a lot of literature reading, simulations, experiments, calculations, thinking and every other respective technical skills in order for the student to carefully analyze and justify his findings, as well as to defend his findings before a panel of experts in more often than not the same field. Research takes long period to complete, usually more than  year but less than 3 years for Master's Degree. Normally there will be no classes to attend, and most of the time the students are left to hang around with vast knowledge database for them to mine the data into their own specific usage.

Now that's pretty much clear. 

My research is on biomass; carbonaceous materials normally derived from plants. My aim is to convert this carbonaceous biomass into combustible gas that can replace diesel and petrol in internal combustion engines. My research is done empirically (English: by experiments) and all I need is a lab, some tools, some machines, some delicate instruments and whatnots. And fund. Give me enough fun and I can design a 5-Megawatt gas-powered steam turbine for electric generation at an allocated time. 

I am an engineer. I was brought up for five years in an engineering school, fed with engineering knowledge and mingled with engineering people. I do things with purpose. I wear a shirt because I need to cover my body from weathering factors, that is my primary motive, and then the secondary motives follow: to impress, to improve looks, to cause stir in calmness whatsoever. 

Therefore, I stayed in the country because 1) my purpose is to get an M.Sc by research, 2) by producing combustible gas from biomass, 3) that can be done locally.

Sometimes, some very, very ignorant people out there looked down on me because I chose to do my M.Sc locally, in my previous campus where I obtained my B.Eng. What is the big thing of going oversea? What is there in oversea that these people look up high to? If I am there now, I'd still be doing research, I'd still need funds, I'd still need equipments and whatsoever. Could it be the weather? Or the quality of research? What do you mean by quality of research? A research's quality is determined from the performance of the researcher, not where it is done. 

There was this uncle who told everyone that his daughter obtained a Ph.D in medicine in just a single year. Yeah, right. What am I la, an uneducated, empty-minded bottle of used mosquito repellent? And who is your daughter la, Marie Curie is it?

And some of these oversea graduates are so arrogant with their oversea-produced degrees. As if they are Einsteins or something. 

I don't know what is the big prestige of going oversea. Unless if I was enrolling into the MIT or the Department of Engineering Science of Oxford, that is different story. Or if I need a particle accelerator, a nuclear fusion reactor, a volcano, Giant Magellan Telescope or a Hadron SuperCollider, then yes I will be abroad for a reason that we don't have all of them available here in Malaysia. But all I need are a gas chromatography instrument, mercury manometers, precision weight, volume & density device, a convection oven, Type-K and Type-N thermocouples, a scanning electron microscope, a highly-radioactive X-Ray Diffuser machine and other instruments that all are available as we speak, locally. 

Here in Malaysia, I am closer to my family. There are plenty of good food around, and I feel very much comfortable here. The people are nice and they treat me as one of them, well of course. It is easy for me to obtain things I need here and by knowing some key people, my works were completed rather quickly. I can have almost everything I need and both my purposes are fulfilled. End of the day, almost all Master's Degree holders are paid according to their qualifications not where they did their studies. 

I feel no shame to further my study here. No shame at all. The campus has been internationally-accredited and so far we are at the top of the list nationwide. My published papers are being read worldwide. One of my paper was also published oversea. So these examples show that there is generally no clear difference between studying locally and abroad, other than the weather, the culture and all other things non-academic except for some very distinctive research i.e. genome research and particle physics that are currently being conducted at an advance rate abroad but not here. 

And to this one particular guy who studied the effects of hydrogen injections in some delicate bio-chemical system by means of simulation modelling oversea, and showed off to some of my Master's Degree freshmen recently: Well boy, apparently an undergraduate student is doing the same thing here locally, by means of the good old experimental method. "I'm a genius," you said. "You people are idiots," you said. Well what do you know? An undergraduate student is doing exactly what you did, only that she is doing it empirically, producing more reliable, well-analyzed results and sets of data that properly responded to conditional climate settings and surrounding factors that none of which you introduced in your so-called oversea Master's Degree by research, you jackass. 

To those who are currently doing thy Master's Degree oversea, well carry on. This post is not meant to bash any of you, except those who deserve it at best. For instance, the self-proclaimed genius mentioned above.

Well there's this one turn-down for not having to study oversea: I cannot send my pictures to Utusan each time it's Raya.

Or can I?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

If there were days where irony happened in such a way that there was no way for me to easily contemplate on, then today could be one of them. 

First and foremost, my apologies for having this entire blog at a halt these past few weeks since I was practically caught up in so many things that constantly kept me away from making even a single post. Nevertheless, I happened to have some extra time today, from which I am going to spend on writing this one particular entry.

The day started as usual - I woke up a bit late today, precisely at 11.00am in the morning since I slept late the night before, or rather in the morning, at around 6.00am right after the call for dawn prayer was aired from a nearby praying center. I had my coffee and cigarette right after I got up, and I had them good, for I like my coffee strong and my cigarette bitter. Days went too quickly these days, perhaps I was just too busy with thesis writing and other technical errands that somehow needed my experiences in completing them. Other than a few postgraduate students that I was in collaboration with, I myself have to monitor some three undergraduate students who are currently doing their final year projects, from which I was given the task to assist them whenever possible. It has been weeks that I slept late, usually at the time when other people woke up from theirs.

In the afternoon I decided to give my lab a visit. I missed that place, actually. I used to spend my whole entire day in it, doing my own things and making my ways around the heavy machineries that most of them just lied at a corner with no particular business at all. But now I hardly went there, since I was in the race to nowhere - actually, it is going somewhere, really - writing my thesis, hence myself always at the computer in my room at all time. So I spent some time in my lab reminiscing the old days while waiting for my roommate who was then running his own errands at the top floor of the building. It has been a very busy day for the both of us, and we tried our best to give our best shots at almost everything we aimed for, and we did. 

Late in the evening, we both went to a nearby local coffee shop for evening teas and whatnots, before we were on our way back again to the campus. And then it happened. 

Just imagine just how at a roundabout inside the campus, there was this one particular car, a locally-made car, rushed into the roundabout without letting us to first pass, when we were at the time had our rights of way. He missed us by couples of inches, a dead-close distance from which if calculated, and was in my mind, should he have hit us, I was pretty sure that my roommate will be dead in just mere seconds after the impact, where I could be bleeding from broken hands and other significant types of road accident-related injuries.. 

And just imagine this one; both my roommate and I were very tired - we did not get enough sleep, we were working all day long, we just had our meals after one long day, and all we wanted was to have a pleasant ending to all of these by riding through one lovely evening. And that happened. 

Men's anger is like a pot of boiling water - sooner or later the water will boil regardless of the size of the fire that provides the pot with heat. Don't increase the fire unprepared, or you will have to end up surrounded and splashed with superheated steams.  

So what I did was that I pressed on the horn for almost a quarter mile while tailgating the bastard closely until he finally stopped to a halt next to the roadside. I pulled over and I saw two guys came out from that car. And what a surprise - a foreign student, from a certain type of nations that since long have contributed endless marks in the disciplinary records of the campus. How I know this for a fact? Of course I do. Been here long enough. 

Brawling tips: when you have a chance, don't ever miss it. Barbaric, undiplomatic and uncivilized? Right. We almost died back there, people.

In rage I went out from my car and wanted to hold out a class on one of the very important aspects in life for those two little kids, particularly on how not to getting a kick in the eye and a punch in the throat, by delivering them myself as included in my very own package, only to see that my roommate was already confronting the guy, screaming his throat off with red eyes and popping veins. My God, and I thought I was a beast. Apparently my happy-go-lucky kinda roommate was very much a devil himself. If you were the guy getting the screaming from him, I was and still am very sure your balls will drop and be lost instantly just before they reach the ground. FYI, my roommate is a 2-meter tall, 100kg worth of a monster. 

I made a wide grin. It really has been a while since I last got myself into some whacking, probably a few years back with a guy who, well, he just didn't know when to stop talking. 

The friend of the driver chickened out in 2 seconds and was trying to settle the argument but the driver himself just didn't know just when to shut the fuck up. This led to an even heated argument that I was pretty sure that if it wasn't for the gathering crowd, the kid would have already been walking back with a broken jaw and a misplaced backbone home that one bloody evening. He even told us that we were wrong for not giving way to him, and that he told my roommate to shut up.

Even a floater that does not have any earthly business floating in a septic tank knows that anybody in a roundabout deserves the rights of way. Even a genital wart knows that for a fact. 

The argument ended up with the kid refusing to apologize, but it's alright since this community is way too small to hide from. Sooner or later if he keeps with his attitude, he might get it from some other big guys out there who will happily send him back to the Creator in a return package. We have a good look of the kid's face and well, though we are pretty cool now, we are very sure that there will be days when we will meet again, and that time, perhaps more than never, he needs all the luck the world could ever give. 

Oh he needs them very much alright.

p/s: On a lighter note, thank you God for making me smile today. Give me more good news, for I don't want to stop smiling. And you, dear darling, you deserve all the pains. And I am very much enjoying watching you slowly die suffocating in your own pukes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Much to my own amusement, the campus made its way back to the peak of the mountain again this time around of the year.

The recent mischievous prank by some of the students who sent their pictures to the Utusan Malaysia, that I strongly believed was very loosely planned but somewhat made it through, sending their best of regards to homeland families and friend for the recent Eidul Fitr from a faraway land - Canada - from which it was made understood that the students were practically studying in what appeared to be the University of Toronto, when actually they were more or less at a huge 14, 800 kilometers offset from the said location.

Though University of Toronto or UT, does really exists, it also shares the same unofficial term that has been used since far back in time with Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP); a double entandre that somehow significantly addressed UTP as UT based on the modification of just how the word Tronoh (the location of UTP) to matching that of Toronto, where UT is precisely located.

I would have understood just how the picture got to pass the screening and made it to the nationwide news. 

Very simple actually. Put human factor in it closing to 0.9 as maximum allowable numeric, and more or less the result will support heavily the probability of mistake to be unwillingly done. Imagine the unsuspecting and fully-occupied Utusan Malaysia staffs who were directly responsible for the Eidul Fitr picture-message craps, having to deal with like a thousand or more photos of Malaysians in overseas who were in their best poses, commonly with snow, desert, light forest, huge buildings (i.e. Pisa Tower, The White House, that goddamn pole at the South Pole etc.) and whatsoever existing props that they could find around them just so that the pictures make sense, that is they are exactly located oversea, usually with those big, proud smiles while their bodies are kept warm in thick winter jacket and shawls et cetera. 

If I were them staffs, I might get pretty sick as well. 

The allocated pages for these photos were only two maximum, and this means the staff needed to cramp as many photos as possible, not including the lengthy messages these folks posted along with their images, addressing literally almost everyone they know just so that their names would appear in a national newspaper and later could make a paper cutting out of it and to be hanged at anywhere around the house, most probably at the most exceptionally visible points just so that when anybody gives them a visit they'll go, "aw your son held detained in North Korea sent you an Eidul Fitr picture message with you names in it and was selected to publish in the Utusan Malaysia". 


Therefore the staffs, based on common logic and natural sense, will make quick selections by loose screening method - take any picture with a lot of people in it rather than just one or two so that we can save some space for the single photowhores and their medical text-book worth of messages. The staffs' time was limited, it was the fasting season, and on top of all of it, pressures came from every way and any delay in processing could be the delay for the whole paper printing. To keep it short, the pictures were processed very loosely.

And walla, that's how UTP student made it into the Utusan Malaysia. 

I mean, dear God, we were once in Metro for beating the crap out of a local cobbler for cobbling bill that was hardly worth a hundred buck. So much for the pride. In the chase for the spotlight, just do it, from people whacking spree, French-a-girl show at a local bus stop at mid tropic afternoon, and now sending false information just as well. Next, we could be driving caravans made of hamburgers into unsuspecting pedestrians or make a quick flash show in the television just next to the Prime Minister during a live broadcast.

And will we be proud about it? The hell we will. It's pride, man! Especially the last part where the camera focuses at thy dangling sausage with some very familiar logos there. 

Of course la very proud! What, you think it's easy ah to get into TV these days? You kill a fella oso still not sure can enter TV or not, you know! If the police shoots you in the head ah, only your name comes out, face all they won't show one! Got hole in your head, how to show la? If they show you under black plastic with your mom rolling and crying ah, that also consider lucky you know! Like this better what? Put picture there everyone can see, can sanjung can kutuk all, so Malaysia what? Eh, One Malaysia!

But the overrated reactions, as I see it, are totally unnecessary. Relax, it was only a picture of some students who wanted to mark the day where they finally made it into the mainstream newspaper, and fooled the newspaper people too in that process, where I hardly believe that everyone in the picture even knew about their partial participation in making the intended false claim a successful one. I don't even think it will be a biggie, unless someone opened their mouth and made it a big scene, of course. Come to think of it, why would anybody bother about some who tried to be in the news by making false claims, other than to have a big laugh at it? Bringing the issues projected skyhigh was definitely unnecessary, to the point that UTP officials had to apologize for the totally irresponsible event. The bangings of the newspaper too, well, everyone'wants to be a hero. 

Everyone's a hero indeed. 

Unless if someone from UTP claimed to have found the curious method of measuring subatomic particles in relation to extended String Theory by introducing an unearthly component that changes the whole natural elemental configuration of any airborne atoms, or maybe a definite cure for death, then it's a different case. It's just a picture, big deal. Come on, swallow it up and move on. We're behind schedule in finding answers for science anyway.

Now if you can get yourself published in mainstream newspaper because of that, now that's a big fuckin' deal!

p/s: we live in a world where breaking a baseball bat with superduper boobs, farting loudly in public and going for a naked mile in the street are highly celebrated. If that is not pride then I don't know what is.