Saturday, September 15, 2012

It has been a busy week.

I saw myself running up and down of both academic and management departments of the university in order to get a few things done for my study. In the same time, I was kindly asked to handle a laboratory session involving a number of sixteen years old students from MARA Junior Science College from all over the country, perhaps the selected ones, in what appeared to be a 3-day science camp in UTP, in which the main objective was to nurture these kids in developing the likes for the field of engineering, science and technology. Also in the same time I was expected to hand in the draft of a technical book I was writing for by the end of the week to the publisher for their in-house review, therefore concluding the week to be one of the busiest I have had this entire year so far. I had to double my work intensity, and as well my time. 

Overall, my work style was significantly affected.

Speaking of work style, I figure that I have a peculiar one myself. I am known to be pushy, most of the time unnerving, detailed, on time, fast (though I very much doubt it) and overall a perfectionist. In simpler words, I am a horrible person to work with -- precisely the reasons why I don't always work in or more than a pair. However this does not mean that I am a terrible team player. I have always worked in a team and still am, and my functions were delivered as defined by the team leader. Of course, most of the time the teams I worked with were mostly technical-based; only a few times I saw myself being involved with some teams from the Outer Ring -- political-based, non-government organizations, non-profit organizations and the likes. 

One of the most repeating problem I had with teamwork is that I could hardly work with interdisciplinary colleagues, especially those from the Outer Ring (the nerdy jargon we often used to describe people from outside the field of engineering). The problem is not them. The problem is me. If you remember, I previously claimed that my work style is strikingly peculiar. 

Let me break it down for you. 

I cannot handle delays, especially when they affect my progress, never mind slightly or significantly. I would probably understand if the delays are due to unexpected events. For instance, if I am in a team which objective is to erect an electrical grid tower, I would finely understand if the tower cannot be erected due to the state of weather and the speed of the wind. But I could really not tolerate if the reason why the tower cannot be erected is because the guy responsible in delivering it to site is late in delivering because he has other unimportant things to do, or worse, forgets to deliver at all. It is this kind of human procrastination that I am mostly annoyed about. There goes the strict dateline system straight into the drain. 

Also, I find it hard if someone meddles into my scope of work without the needs to, or simply to show some kind of superiority. In a team, everyone is given a specific task and a scope of work to work on, therefore, I don't quite acknowledge the fact why my task and scope of work being the interest of many others. I do believe the reason why I am given such task and scope of work is because I am trusted enough to be able to carry out the duties by myself without unnecessary interference of others. In a teamwork, I often stress this out during the first meeting before any work starts, for if this one single request is violated, I could simply cease my work and just walk out. 

I apologize if I do sound prideful and egoistical. Let me now break that down for you. 

The reason why I don't like unnecessary interference in my work unless with prime order from the supreme leader of the team is simply because I like to work in my own way. But this, let me assure you, does not mean that my performance will drop or that I will fail to, without any reasonable reason, deliver within the margins of the expected outcomes. Given an uninterrupted space and time, I sometimes will double the quality of my work results. Sometimes I would even go further than what is expected of me. 

I figure that you will judge me as an anti-social and arrogant. It's alright, for I guess that is up to your own ability in analyzing. 

My time in this world is limited. If my works are delayed by the foolishness of others or interrupted in any unnecessary way possible, I will only perceive this as a complete waste of time and since it is a complete waste of time then I will limit, if not entirely demolish, the section of my time dedicated on it. This does not only apply to strangers (often very strange indeed) I work with but as well as known associates and friends. I have walked out from many events due to this problem, where I was grimly accused as intolerable, unforgiving, nonsensical, foolish, selfish, self-centered and many other easily-borne criticisms. It was saddening sometimes, but I had to do what I did, and I stood still on my principles. And so to say, what is a man without principles?

Therefore, in order to protect others first and myself second from these kinds of frustrations and conflicts, I choose to work by myself and only get myself involved with a select few, although at times I did make wrong choices due to what appeared to be an error in judgment. Nevertheless, while working alone could be my primary choice, this does not close my door in accepting any invitation to work together as a team with some others (I am in fact currently involved with a few team-based organizations), and if I ever will be invited again I shall ensure the team an on-time delivery of expected results, as long as no one puts their nose into my given business. 

My point being is, let me work by myself and I will be able to pull out wonders; nose into my work and I'll walk out to everyone's wonder. 

Thank goodness my fellow colleagues, technicians and a band of related supervising academicians know and respect this simple request of mine, and I have never disappoint them in delivering my progress of work, including my main research, pet researches, the biomass energy laboratory, and the recently MRSM camp. And the outcomes of all these are pretty expected:-

Aced them all. 

Saturday, September 01, 2012


So here's the situation. I just moved into a single house with four rooms, two baths, two large halls and a wet kitchen near the campus. It's a real deal, I must say. The house is just spacious and comfortable to live in. Above all that, it also comes with a surrounding lawn. 

One thing about the lawn when I first came in was that, well, it wasn't really a lawn. There were weeds and shrubs everywhere. Although cutting them all down or poisoning them dead with pesticide could be a quick solution, they will grow back because the underground roots were not removed. So no point there. 

So I took a few pictures of the original condition of the lawn and post them below with descriptions:

 The front lawn with all types of weeds in there, even the thorny 'semalu'.

  The right-side lawn. Shorter shrubs, no weeds. 

  The backyard with some weeds and those crawling roots. The drainage system here was absolutely out due to the blockage these roots created.

  The left-side lawn. Speechless.

  The front lawn seen from another angle. When you step on the weeds, you can actually feel just how thick the layer was. 

  The front lawn overlooking the front porch. Notice the filled-up drain. 

So I went out to the nearby hardware and bought myself a hoe, a metal rake, a bamboo rake, a bamboo sweep and a pair of welding gloves. I prefer welding gloves due to their agility and protection against minor injury often associated with gardening. After all there were a lot of those thorny weeds in there and I didn't think that the common cotton-made gardening glove was protective enough against all that.

With those tools, patiently, I pulled out one root after another, starting from the front lawn, often in the evening after work. It took me around 6 weeks to get them all out. Could be done quickly if it wasn't for the fasting month. I removed all the big rocks and impurities i.e. plastics, metals et cetera away from the lawn, leaving only dirt and fine sand behind. 

This is how it looks like today:  

  The front lawn taken right before I left the house for Eidul Fitr last two weeks. You can see the hoe and the metal rake in the picture.

The amount of roots I pulled out from the ground. This was only a quarter of it. The rest was thrown at the back of the house.

  The septic tanks were not even visible previously. I discovered them only when I was clearing the roots from this ground. In the picture above, the septic tank is at the middle of the picture, right before that small sand pile there.

 Another look at the cleared lawn. I plan to plant the carpet grass later after the top layer has settled firmly.

  The left-side lawn as per today. Just cleared it out and I plan to plant some chilies and lemon grass and eggplants and ladies' finger and pretty much other local veggies suitable for this kind of rather-sandy land. 

  The backyard. I cleared the land and collected all the pulled-out roots at one place using the bamboo rake. The dry one was burned to keep mosquitoes away while I work here. 

  The front lawn taken today. Some shrubs have grown back here so I need to keep a watch. I weeded this place too yesterday so I'm just keeping this place clear for now. 

See, the septic tank is visible in here. I need to remove that tree on the rightmost side of the picture though. 

As to reduce the amount of dirt and sand being taken away by water streams during a rain, I planted these rather lovely-looking shrubs along the ridges of the drain to hold onto the ground and to act as a natural water filter.

 Currently working on this part of the land. Clearing the weeds out a foot after another. 

Some of the places required a handpick service. Here I have to pull the weeds by hand because it was more effective that way than using the hoe. The drain is pretty clean now.

 And here's the large pile of roots and shrubs undergoing natural organic degradation. I will use the rotted ones as fertilizer later on. 

One thing I learnt about gardening is that, somehow, it makes me happy. Probably because of the sweating and the joy of knowing that I've done much for the day to see obvious changes here and there. The neighbors sometimes dropped by and looked around the house, asking about how I did these all by myself and what my plans are for the land. I've made a lot of new friends while working on this lawn. I feel healthier, more energetic, less stressful, and most importantly, I feel happy. 

I'm gonna finish up weeding tomorrow and start with my chili babies. I've got to get some carpet grass soon as well. Maybe some flowers and garden decorations here and there. 

Because nothing feels better after coming home tired from work than to see a wonderful garden waiting for you.

And a wife waiting for you too at the gate. Woopsie!