Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kita ini banyak sangat mesyuarat.

Minum pagi, mesyuarat kedai kopi. Masuk kerja, bos panggil mesyuarat. Keluar mesyuarat dah nak tengahari. Periksa emel, dapat peringatan tentang mesyuarat waktu petang. Karang lepas kerja, mesyuarat kedai kopi dengan kawan-kawan sampai ke malam. Baru nak tidur, dapat SMS daripada bos berkenaan mesyuarat esok pagi. Hujung minggu, mesyuarat parti/NGO/rukun tetangga/kelab dan sebagainya.

Ada kalanya, kita bermesyuarat hanya untuk memilih hari, masa dan tempat untuk mesyuarat akan datang.

Dan selalunya bila ada mesyuarat, ada lah makan-makan sikit. Itu pun nak kena buat mesyuarat lain untuk bincang apa jenis makanan dan siapa yang kena uruskan makan-makan semua tu.

Kadang-kadang bila kita tak ada mesyuarat, bila kita talipon kawan/kekasih, dia balas pula, "maaf, dalam mesyuarat".

Masa di tempat kerja paling banyak terbuang dalam mesyuarat. Kadang-kadang benda yang tak melibatkan kita pun, kita tetap dipanggil masuk mesyuarat. Paling sakit jiwa, bila orang yang kena ada dalam mesyuarat tu tak datang, maka terpaksalah tunda mesyuarat sampai ke mesyuarat yang akan datang.

Punya banyak mesyuarat, sampaikan kita kena tanya kawan kerja kita bila dia soal sesuatu yang dibincangkan dalam mesyuarat dengan, "mesyuarat yang mana satu?"

Sampaikan dalam mesyuarat pun, boleh ada mesyuarat kecil lain di kalangan puak-puak berlainan di dalam mesyuarat tersebut, yang mana satu pihak bermesyuarat berkenaan pihak satu lagi yang juga bermesyuarat berkenaan pihak pertama tadi, di dalam mesyuarat besar yang disertai dua pihak tersebut.

Dan ini setentunya akan mengundang ketegangan antara dua pihak atau lebih, yang mana isu ini hanya akan selesai apabila dibincangkan bersama di dalam satu sesi khas yang juga berbentuk mesyuarat.

Sudahlah. Cukup sampai sini saja dulu. Dah lewat ni. Saya ada mesyuarat.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The one thing that the education system of this country has achieved is to produce the so called highly qualified graduates with no spare for comments on entirely everything.

While it is acceptable to give out opinions on certain things, it is also customary to keep the mouth shut at times. Despite this otherwise very easy knowledge and skill, it seems that it has become common that many people will point out many others' mistakes in public in return for credits for being somewhat sharp, insightful and knowledgeable. 

Often times the posts in Twitter and Facebook and other forms of social media slam on a certain individual or a group, both in polite and impolite ways. It is not very difficult to scroll down the timeline and see someone posting something saying that a certain someone is at wrong (the writer with hopes to be seen as all time right) and the likes. 

Ranging from certain issues, from love spats to trivial and repeating events, the political posts are by far the worst. When you see a political post in your timeline, chances are that there will be vulgarities and a whole handful of bashing from one side to another and in reverse. Strangely enough, some of these come from individuals who are 'highly' educated.

Let me recall this one phrase I learned back in the days: no wise man would call other men stupid.

Bear in mind that being educated does not mean one can belittle others. After all, just how high is highly educated? I am at the highest point in the pillar of academics, and still I have doubts to call others as stupid, bodoh, dumb, bloody fool whatsoever. Because it occurs to me that, the more I learn the more empty I feel. There is no end and barrier in knowledge. When I think I have gained enough, there seems to be more to dig for. 

Therefore, those who easily throw the word bodoh to everyone else, in my opinion, must be the most educated person ever. Such a person must posses a highly genuine and sophisticated amount of excellent far-fetched knowledge that no other, or only a few others, have, therefore he can easily call others as stupid, because apparently he is by far more educated than others. 

That point discussed, our education system must be so successful that everyone is calling every others as stupid. And these people who confidently call others as stupid, with presumptions that they are by all means, presumptuously, more educated than others, are my idols. Oh such confidence, such arrogance! 

Well, they are my idols, at least until I read and listen to their (often times negligible) piece of mind. In the end they become the living proof of the phrase 'empty can rings the loudest, empty man speaks the most'.

The only thing we're missing in our education system, is teaching and enforcing basic manners. Please, educators (and parents, who mostly clean their hands by passing the educating responsibility to educators these days, let's not deny it), despite this not featured among the important academic syllabus, please do something about this. Nurture manners in our kids, and make this country not only highly educated but fascinatingly mannered. 

Act now, or it will be too late. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I've always liked fire. I have the history of playing with fire (both literally and figuratively) since I was only a little boy. My master's and PhD studies are about fire -- combustion, technically. I have set a numerous things on fire, including myself for some reasons over the long, fiery years of my life. 

So one day I was lingering around the backyard and suddenly I had the urge to have an outdoor fire pit. This is pretty common. I've always had the most awesome and in the same the baddest ideas when I lingered around the backyard. One of these days if I linger a little bit longer there, it is possible that I might come up with a blue plan for a long distance artillery that automatically sets men in tight pants on fire.

Anyway, the fire pit I was thinking of looks like in the above image. But here's the thing: I'm renting this house so I can't pretty much build any permanent structure up. That explains why the observatory tower and swimming pool plans I had in mind were turned down long before they even get to the drawing board. For this pit, it has to be:
  • a temporary structure (so my land lady won't hack me down with saw for ruining her yard)
  • cheap (because I'm economical, like that)
  • able to serve its intended purpose as an outdoor fire pit.

So here's what I did.

* * *

First, I identified the suitable location for the fire pit. The place I chose below was next to a wall (my land lady's concrete fence for she lives next door, to be exact) and surrounded by my little curry tree and a lemon grass bush. The curry tree can stay but the lemon grass has to go.

Next, I cleared the land surface and levelled it with a plastic garden rake.

And then, I took some unused cement bricks at home and started laying them on the ground with a straight lumber to achieve a straight arrangement. For this fire pit, I decided to have a 3 x 3 brick configuration. 

And now the pit now took shape. Because I my perfectionist quality is bordering on psychotic, I needed to make sure that the geometry of the pit was within my requirement, so that involved with a lot of soil levelling, remeasuring, reconfiguring, relevelling and all those jumbled up not necessarily in that order. Just maddening, really.

Moving on. I removed all the bricks but before that I drew out the inner and outer outlines using the bricks as my guide. I didn't need the inner outline but I drew it anyway 'just to be sure'. Don't mind my obsession. The outline depicted the exact layout section to be removed, because I wanted a sunken fire pit instead of a raised fire pit. 

So you can now see how I dug up the area using a small hoe and a hand scoop. The entire yard is filled with sand (this was a mining place anyway) so digging wasn't that difficult. I started laying down the bricks and check for straight continuity and levelling.

There, all in. With the base ready, it's time to lay down the upper walls with more bricks. I didn't cement any of them together and wholly depend on the static friction at each touching surface of the brick to keep them in place and from falling apart.

First level.

Second level.

I took some of the sand that I dug up and filled it up in the voids around the structure. And then I raked them flat and level with the garden rake to give it a smooth finish.

There, the fire pit is complete. I found that solid wooden post at the bottom of the image lying somewhere around the corner of the house so I made it into a small bench.

I collected some woods and placed them in the pit and left them in the open under the sun for a few hours to keep them dry and smoke free when consumed in fire. 

* * *

So here are the results! Pretty neat, eh?

I went to the hardware store and bought a small light bulb and some length of electrical wire and created an outdoor lamp post. Need a cover for the entire setup though but so far they look great in action. The rustic wall and the ambient added up to its majestic value.

Here is the entire cost of the project:

Cement bricks: RM 0.20 x 40 unit = RM 8.00
Light bulb + socket + 3 pin plug: RM 5.00
Wire: RM 5.00 (10 meter)
Manpower: 3 sticks of cigarette and a jug of cold Sunquick (negligible cost)

Total: RM 18.00. 

The happiness it gives me? Priceless.

Waktu pagi, buat kopi, buka FB.

Scroll, scroll, scroll.

Seperti biasa, kisah-kisah tipikal harian keluar di susur masa. Gambar orang jalan-jalan, gambar orang kemalangan, gambar orang kena tangkap, kisah pemakanan sihat dan larangan makan yang tidak tahu hujung pangkal, gambar orang jual produk mekap dan menguruskan badan, dan tak kurang status-status meroyan berkenaan pelbagai hal kecil dan besar (yang banyaknya hal-hal kecil yang tak berbaloi dibincangkan pun). 

Buka tabloid harian. Cerita-cerita hangat yang ada kalanya malu bila dibaca. Cerita onar golongan terkenal dan golongan biasa. Juga ada kisah perbalahan politik yang tidak berkesudahan. Macam-macam cerita.

Dan ramailah yang memberi komen. Lebih panas sesuatu topik yang dimuatnaik, lebih panaslah komen-komen yang tertera. 

Perkataan bodoh, bangang, macai, cabar-mencabar, pelbagai jenis carutan menghiasi ruangan komen. Yang mana setuju, yang mana tak setuju. Berbalah sama sendiri. Betapa mudahnya melemparkan kata-kata hinaan kepada orang lain, hanya kerana mereka tidak bersetuju dengan kita. Sakit mata.

Kata orang, orang yang bijak pandai tidak akan menggelar orang lain 'bodoh'.

Saya tidak pandai. Saya masih lagi belajar, mencari ilmu yang kadang jumpa kadang tidak. Terus-terang, jumlah ilmu yang saya hadap setiap hari buat saya takut. Betapa kecilnya kepala otak, betapa besarnya lautan pengetahuan. Lagi banyak saya belajar, lagi banyak yang saya tak tau. Terasa jahilnya. 

Jadi terlintas di hati saya, sedangkan saya yang kini merangkak ke tahap teratas aras akademik pun masih lagi takut-takut untuk menggelar orang lain bodoh, maka saya fikir mereka-mereka yang dengan mudah dan yakinnya menggelar orang lain dengan pelbagai gelaran mestilah lagi pandai, hebat, berinformasi, beradab sopan dan lebih berfikiran jauh, panjang dan tajam daripada saya.

Itu belum lagi mengambil kira orang yang dengan lantangnya mengatakan bahawa si polan dan si polan ini adalah ahli syurga manakala yang si polan dan si polan itu adalah ahli neraka. 

Dosa dan pahala kita, ramai yang tahu?

Lihat, betapa ramainya bijak pandai di FB. Pakar sains politik, pakar ekonomi, pakar kebajikan, pakar kejuruteraan (yang ramai dalam bidang automotif dan aeroangkasa serta avioniks kebelakangan ini), pakar undang-undang, pakar perubatan dan pelbagai lagi jenis pakar yang tinggi arasnya. 

Sayangnya, tak ramai yang ada kelulusan dan pengetahuan asas yang diperlukan untuk memberikan pendapat dalam bidang-bidang di atas dengan efektif dan berintegriti. Kalau bercakap tak ada inti, siapa mahu percaya? 

Lebih sayang lagi, semuanya bangsaku sendiri. 

Orang lain dah jauh ke depan, kita masih bergaduh di sini lagi.

Dan bila ada cerdik pandai kita yang memilih untuk menetap saja di luar negeri, kita gelar mereka pengkhianat, tidak kenang budi dan lupa daratan. Tapi kita tidak pernah nak tanya diri kita sendiri, mungkinkah kerana orang macam kita yang mereka ini sampai pergi membawa diri? Eh mana mungkin, bukankah rakyat negara ini lebih bijak pandai belaka?

Maaf sekiranya status ini mengguris hati siapa-siapa. Saya kini kan sedang cuba menghabiskan pengajian saya. Kenalah berfalsafah serba sedikit. 

Sudahnya, saya tengok saja gambar gerabak dan lokomotif keretapi. Depa bising-bising juga, tapi kerja jalan macam biasa. Daripada bising bergegar dunia, buka kepala isi pun tiada.