Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hi everyone!

It's been a while since I last updated about my garden. Some have been asking about it but I really didn't have time to update about it here. But now that I've done most of my works ahead of schedule, I spent some time photographing around the garden. 

Most of the trees are already nearly maturity. Some already are. I've began to see flowers blooming here and there and fruits getting formed overnight. 

Let's not talk so much and go through the pictures, alright? Enjoy!

The view of my little garden


Good news. The sunflowers are blooming. I went and looked at them a couple of times everyday. The neighbors were probably freaking out by now, seeing me going out now and then to check on the flowers and caress them like I'd do a lovely girl's cheek. But hey, they are my first sunflowers, what do you expect? It's like a new father getting his own newborn baby, you know? 

The bud of the sunflower

Top view of the sunflower bud

The blooming sunflower. Priceless. You can see the 
forming seeds already there


Behold, the easiest thing to grow in the garden. Sweet melody corn. No idea why it was named that way. Maybe because it sings out loud when its corn is ripe enough? No freaking idea. Looking at them now, the germination is taking place. The ears are coming out and all I need to do is to water them sufficiently and supply enough nutrients in the soil during the coming maize formation days.

The male part of the corn tree. 

 You can see the stigmata and whatnot in the image. 

 The maizes are already forming at the bottom, one maize 
for each plant.

 Young maize. With the hair and all. Cute. 

In the mean time, I am sowing more corns in the vacant beds 
next to the mature trees. Continuous cultivation. 

Lady's Finger

The most sexually-misunderstood plant. So far 8 plants have been cultivated successfully and now they are endlessly blooming flowers and producing first crops. The flowers are really pretty, though. They bloomed for less than a day time before they shrunk to transform into fruits. Awesome observation in nature's system. 

The flower of the lady's finger plant

Another flower with one fruit at the bottom

Flowers and flowers more.

This is the first fruit pictured around 2 days back. 

And this is what happened after 2 days! The first fruit is getting 
bigger while the once-a-blooming-flower is now a fruit!

 The feelings when I looked at these were priceless. All the hard 
work is fairly paid.

New flower buds of the lady's finger plant. Soon, these will become 
fruits too. There's a new leaf too there. 

 The new leaf coming out. Awesome sight.  

Another lady's finger's flower but from a different variety. This one is
 the local variety while the others above are the giant variety. 

Chinese Lettuce

One of the hardest to grow. Now look at them, all growing non stop to form a green bed full of green, crunchy and delicious leaves. I usually picked one or two of the leaves, washed them up and eat them raw. Seriously tasty. 

The mature lettuces 

Lettuces from the second bed which are still 
young and growing fast.

The third bed of lettuces. These are already mature 
for consumption.

One of the biggest lettuces in my garden. 

No pests were found and no insecticides were used. 
Wholly organic and safe as food. 

Top view of one of the tiny, young lettuces. 
Cuteness overload.

I feed them up with compost from my earthworm pit.
They grow healthily. Can't wait for them to grow 
up bigger and healthier!

Four Angled Beans

Or easily kacang botol. The creeping parts of the plants are already on their way to conquering a higher ground. I expect them to start flowering in two weeks time. I have five of these plants. They all grow under a recently-made rack for them to crawl up and form a canopy. Must be awesome when they finally do.

The four angled bean plants crawling around

One of the crawling branch has found the pillar of the 
overhead canopy frame. Time to conquer!

The overhead canopy made from some metal nets I found 
thrown away by the roadside. And my feet there too. 

Seedlings and Others

And now, my seedlings. I've begun to sow some of the new seeds I bought from Mr Iskandar, the owner of the blog Thanks to the sunny morning and rainy afternoons recently, the seeds grew up fast to stand on their own roots. 

The seeds of the red chili of 'Kulai' variety. 

My favorite plant. Peanuts! The seed has broken up into two and
strong leaves are coming out from in between.

Another peanut. The seed has been pushed all the way 
down in this one.

Habanero seeds. Habanero is the hottest chili ever 
discovered in the whole wide world. 

The chili padi seedling growing up fine. The seed cap is still there while 
the leaves are struggling to escape from it.

Eggplant! This one is the Thai variety that produces
 longer, creamier fruit.

First attempt of sowing durian seeds. No signs 
of growth so far. 

Five mulberry cuttings in a row. I've got to replace the last mulberry 
that died unexpectedly, so there goes, all five of them. The death of 
ye comrade shall be avenged! Grow, damnit, grow!

The growing eggplant trees, making their way up
 slowly to see the world at a higher elevation.

Saw this flower from my onion bed. Looked awesome.
Snapped a photo. 

Another photo. Looking good, buddies. 

The only giant peanut plant that survived following a storm a few 
weeks back. It's already flowering and soon the flower will 
find its way into the ground to form peanuts.

Lemongrass plants. I showered them with oil palm frond chips the 
other day as mulch to prevent weed to grow near them. Cheaper and greener
alternative than using herbicide.

My pearl grasses are really taking their time to grow. Peppered them 
with processed poultry waste and let them grow.

As usual, Sir Montgomery Scott accompanied me 
from the window. Lazy bastard.

And as usual, I toyed around with him. 
Montyyyyy *throws in the air*

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hey everyone.

Been a while since I last updated.

So how do you do? Anybody died when I was away? I've gotta say that I have been away for quite some time now. I have found myself in pretty caught up situations, blanketed with works, sandwiched by researches and dunked by both. But now that I've managed to steal some time from my otherwise full schedule, let's talk about what I've been doing since the last few weeks.

During my days as a master student, I was given the responsibility to take care of the biomass energy laboratory in UTP. This means that I was the more or less the research officer cum laboratory head for biomass energy research under the Hybrid Energy System mission oriented research division of the university. My responsibility was to make sure that the laboratory was kept at a satisfactory state in terms of cleanliness, housekeeping, tool storage, reactor conditions and everything else alike. There were three laboratories at three different locations under my supervision when I was the leader of ongoing research. 

But then when I was completing my master's thesis, I didn't have much time to take care of the labs so stepped down and handed over the labs to my colleagues. When I gave them the keys, I did not think, nor I ever did step into the labs anymore.

Recently, as I am now continuing my PhD in the same university, I took my first step into the lab after almost a year and dear good God's heaven the place looked like the set for some World War II movies. Either that, or it served well as a backdrop for some drug addict-infested abandoned warehouse or something. That was the first surprise. The second surprise was that there will be a visit by Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) officers in less than two weeks to come then, and when we talk about the people from the HSE, they are more or less the cops in plant operation and engineering practice. And while everyone was hyped about the visit and about the fact that the current biomass laboratory might won't make it if it was to be audited by the HSE (we were even looking at the possibility of losing the entire research building), I was juggling pencils and papers during the meeting, thinking about what to eat for dinner aka I was not interested at all. 

And all of a sudden, they appointed me as, again, the lab leader, keeper, coordinator and all the related ranks and titles combined, based on what appeared to be a mutual understanding. 

"Your first duty," one of the big bosses said, "is that you have to make sure that the laboratory passes the Tier 1 HSE audit at all costs and ways possible."

That was the third surprise. 

This was what I saw after my first step into the lab.

* * *

When I entered the lab for the second time (this time much deeper and closer to the center of the lab), the first thing I noticed was that the entire interior was peppered with dusts, probably from the countless indoor combustion experiments that showered the ambient air with suspended particles. The entire area was messy and, for some certain reasons unknown then, smelly. The smell, I try best to describe, was similar to that of some dead animals being crammed into a pail half-filled with water and left to disintegrate for at least two months. Locating the smell wasn't that hard, and I ended with three large piles of some gooey stuffs stored in ordinary plastic bags. 

Well it didn't take so long for me to realize that they were bags of semi-treated human waste samples. 

Gawd damn, man, the stench.

I did a few walkabout around the laboratory floor and into each of the rooms surrounding it, where every room had its own bowl of surprises at a climbing scale after one another. Overall, there were a lot of things to be done with the lab and there I was in the middle of it, not knowing where to start. 

So I decided to start with the logo first.

The result after one hour with Adobe Photoshop CS4

Then I came out with a Transformation Plan report for the entire laboratory where the transformation timeline, HSE conduct, risk analysis and budgetary report were included for the bosses' review and to show that I did some work here and there, just so that they won't lose their heads towards the HSE inspection day.

Once done with the documentation, I started working. Here are some of the photos taken before and after the transformation plan. I did them all alone by myself, by the way. 

* * *

The Oven Room

This room was previously locked so I had to break it open using a hammer. It was full with those decomposed oil palm fronds in as-received size and also in cuts. The air inside was stale since the only window of the room was closed at all time. I could say that the room had been left for months. So I cleaned it up and now it serves as an oven and balance room. 

The Flame Propagation Chamber Room

This room was previously used as a biomass storage room but I saw it as unsuitable. So I took out all the unclaimed biomass fuel and disassembled all the racks and remove everything out of the room. In return, using a 2-ton capacity fork trolley, I moved the almost 1-ton in weight flame propagation test chamber and placed it there. Almost broke my back anyway, lifting that thing up manually.

Outdoor Gas Storage Center

During when the USM peeps were occupying this laboratory back in the late 90's, it served as a chemistry lab. So usually one of this outdoor gas storage was built to keep the LPG tanks used for Bunsen burners out of the lab while in the same time able to supply the fuel gas via an underground pipeline. Today, the pipeline is no longer used. The storage space was abandoned and was not properly taken care of, so I cleaned it up with a broom. Using a gas tank trolley, I removed all 15 gas tanks that is around 300 kg each that were left scattered in the lab and stored them here. The relocation job was an absolute hell. It was not easy to lift a 300-kg gas tank with pressurized flammable, explosive and toxic gases stored within down the 10-inch floor elevation to the gangway and again lifted it up back to 10-inch elevation using nothing but human power, a battered gas trolley and a knowledge in physics. And then came the risks. If I had accidentally dropped any of the tanks, doom awaited. I could be projected straight to the moon and NASA has to go all the way just to fetch me up. But I made it in the end anyway, and my back didn't go straight for almost a week. 

The Combustion Area

The combustion area is just an experimental space dedicated for combustion. When I first came, there were PVC pipes, water pipes, 3-phase electrical cables, biomass residues, sands, some unknown materials and other things you don't really wanna know about. As usual, I took a broom and started cleaning up. Took me one whole day to remove all the stains and whatnot. 


The Computer Set

The computer set was bought during my time to assist data reading, recording and interpretation works but from the looks of it it had suffered a very long, dusty and hot vacation under those plastic covers. It was real sad, really. When it was under my care, I cleaned it up every week and keep it in good conditions at all time. So I took all the wires off and cleaned every and each piece of the entire set. Then I built a mobile desk unit using some junks I found in the lab and now the computer is in a mobile mode and can be moved around. When not in use, it can be stored inside the oven room to protect it from suspended particles in air. 

What happened to all the biomass?

This happened. I disposed them all by means of firing at around 1000-1300 degree Celsius inside one of the reactors. The biomass was no longer suitable for any experiment so might as well I burn all of it down in fire. 

Best Friends Ever

These two metal equipment were (and still are) my best friends in the laboratory floor. One of them is the jack crane with 2-ton lifting capacity and the other one is the fork trolley with 2.5 ton lifting capacity. I assembled the jack crane myself, and I don't even want to talk about how it went. It was seriously a really bad memory to even begin with. LOL. But yeah they helped me a lot during the transformation process of the laboratory.

I'm Now a Certified Amah

I had to become a real hardcore amah when it came to cleaning the tables. I scrubbed the entire tabletops with one Good Morning towel that I pow-ed from one of the shelves. You can see the differences before and after cleanup in the above image. If any of you people need some tabletop cleaning, call me. Price can nego. 


So I had to put up this poster just so that people in the lab will be aware that they have some real shits, no pun intended, around them. It freaked the hell out of some of our guys, though. Hopefully the biohazard materials are the worse thing even stored in my lab. I don't want any of my kids to turn into some kind of mutated monsters if they decided to store radioactive and heavily toxic agents in my lab soon. 

But to have a genetically-mutated turtle than can pull some ninja moves is kinda awesome, though. Never mind, you guys can store radioactive materials in my lab alright, I won't care.

So above is the current view of my lab after the transformation work was completed. Pretty neat, huh? Now everything is in order and the safety conduct in the entire lab has been improved. Great news is that the HSE Tier 1 inspection occurred this morning and the lab passed with flying colors! Alhamdulillah, all the backache and hard works were worth it!

* * *

I took this photo during the biomass disposal by firing, when the morning sun penetrated the thick smoke through the thick glass window and shone directly on this one blower. For some reasons, I love the photo. It's just...deep.

Don't you think so too?