Saturday, December 13, 2008

Congratulations Kak Melati

Let me introduce you to Kak Melati, Abg Rashid and their family. Abg. Rashid, Kak Melati and their family have been here for 6 years. Kak Melati was doing her PhD in Chemistry, while her husband was supporting the family with any way he can.....

I admire their family. I see them as a hard working Malay group, who would just say no to hard times. They have endured and gloriously came out of the hard times victoriously.

So after 6 years, Kak Melati is finally done. Congratulations to Kak Melati. She and her family will be moving back home to Malaysia. And after 6 years, they are also carrying some memories back home. So with all excitement, they've packed their stuff in boxes and were ready to get it shipped, while waiting for the day Kak Melati will stand up on the alter and receive her PhD title and cert.

I also offered my hand to help. It was a lot of boxes, and to carry these boxes from a third floor apartment into a truck and getting it unloaded to the shipping warehouse is a very challenging workout. The picture to the right is a picture of Abg. Rashid and I with the row of boxes behind us to be ready to be shipped. Yes, that row of boxes all belongs to Abg. Rashid and his family.
Any macho man will break his back carrying the boxes alone. Thank god for the help available.

After shipping the boxes, it was time to see Kak Melati walk proudly to receive her honorable doctorate degree. So we too some pictures with her, feeling proud of her achievement, and sharing her joy. Everyone was so proud of her, and we are all very happy even though we would miss her to see her going back home to Malaysia.

I also took the opportunity to try out her robe, and hope that maybe the robe will give me a positive aura to help me finish my PhD sooner. Everyday seems to be more challenging then the previous day. I just hope I will be as strong as her. And one day, will be able to wear the robe "tiga line" (the robe with 3 bars).

Congratulations Kak Melati......and have a good journey back home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

501 jeans....

I know I haven't been blogging. To my parents, I must say, that ma and daddy, "this is actually a good sign, it means I have been busy doing work." My current research requires a little funding to help buy some equipment. Particularly, the embedded motherboard, GPS module, and satellite transmitter are not cheap. So we applied for a grant through the interdepartmental grant award.....and hence I had to do a lot of work to get some preliminary data from our experiment and embellish the specification requirements. Alhamdullillah, my proposal for A Cost-Effective Sensing Platform for Aquatic Hypoxia Monitoring code name "SensorBuoy" managed to get the funding required and won the inter departmental award to buy my equipment.

But this is not what this entry is all about. It is about me buying a pair of jeans. Last weekend, I went to Macy's to find a pair of jeans for myself. I figured I need to buy more jeans, since being a student, I have never found the purpose or the need to wear a pair of slacks or dress pants. Well, that's the privilege of being a student, your attire is basically, jeans and t-shirt...and sometimes....shorts and t-shirt. Provided the weather allows it.

So I went to the Levi's section....looking for a pair of jeans. I was particularly interested in my fav. pair, the 514 straight cut-slim fit size 32. The one I have now seems to look nice on I decided to get one and tested it out in the changing room. I walked to the changing room, and took my pants off and tested out the 514...hmmmm, for some reason, the color doesn't suit me, and the pants was just too loose. So I put on my pants again, and went out to look for maybe a different cut. But as I was looking around, I saw a couple of the classic 501 button fly levis. I used to like the 501....and I still do. Although, putting it on would undoubtedly take you a few extra seconds more than a simple zip it up levis, taking it off is easy and for some reason gives me the weird feeling of satisfaction. So while im at it.... i took a pair of 501 size 32. I walked to the changing room again, took my pants off and put on the 501, and again the pants seems to just fall off. I figure maybe I lose some weight, I never noticed it because I have always used a belt. So again, I put on my pants, walked out of the changing room to take size 31 of the 501 jeans. Again, it fell right off. And I went in and out, until I reach size 29. Five times in and out of the changing this really I a size 29 now...? Damn....the last time I was size 29 was freshman in college.

I guess, I can go back to Malaysia, into my old wardrobe and get all my old pair of pants. So maybe I should not buy more pants.....:) Save money there....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya

I don't have time to update about raya di perantauan. But I will soon. For now, just a few pictures. After sembahyang raya at the masjid, we all gathered at Rumah Kak T and Abg. Rashid, we had a lot of food ..... prepared by Kak Tie and Kak Shima.
I didn't get any new baju raya, just brought the one I was using last year, and recycling it for this raya.

And over the weekend, the Malaysians here had an open house at Kak Izan's house.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Marvelous Adventures of the Amazing Dr. Rizal

Look, its a it's a bird, it's a plane, its's Dr.Rizal?....poing, poing, poing......
As I was day dreaming about the day I would finally finish my PhD. I dreamt about me having a Dr. title. I know, I can make better use of my time by actually doing some work and reading relevant papers, but even Superman have the right to dream....doesn't he? While berangan(fantasizing) having a Dr. title, I search the web to look for other Dr. Rizal's out there. What I found was there was not a lot of Dr. Rizal out there, which made me a little worried. Could it be people with the name Rizal don't really go far?

I did however found an action comic art about Dr. Jose Rizal my ancestral heritage, which I've blogged about not so long ago. The comic was called "The Marvelous Adventures of The Amazing Dr. Rizal". Apparently, the fictional comic is about a hero Character Dr. Rizal based on the real Phillipines hero Dr. Jose Rizal. I must respect the artist, Gerry Alanguilan and the Philippines people who support his work.

The artist really tries to understand Dr. Jose Rizal's character and try to immortalized him in his version of fiction based on history. We don't see this in Malaysia. In fact, our forefather, who helped build the nation are being questioned for their wisdom. Nobody actually takes time to study the characters of our Malaysian forefathers and try to immortalize them in a more superior form. Instead, we condemn them, like we condemn the tenacity and naiveness of Tok Janggut for being brave to go against the British, condemn the unfairness of Tunku Abdul Rahman for his wisdom to keep peace in Malaya and create a social contract between the three races which helped create the Malaysian constitution and an independent Malaysia or comdemn the cruelness of the still living Tun Dr. Mahathir for his shrewd mind to put Malaysia in the world map--is already being forgotten even before his death.

There are more heroes of Malaysia here, which are not mentioned, but the thing is, we Malays forget too easily of their heroic contributions towards Malaysia, and instead of trying to take their good characters and contributions and immortalized them, we slowly cover them in a veil of darkness and hate without knowing why. If this kind of attitude carries on, we would have no heroes that we can look back to, we will have no heroes that we can look up to and stand on the shoulders of giants like our forefathers, so that we can see further than what they saw. We can never reach above the horizons to see our future, and to reach our dreams. It will indeed make Malaysia fall into darkness and bring us further into a generation of hate and despair.

I do like the idea of Dr. Rizal being a hero. Better still, he kinda looks like me...hehehe, except for the mustache, and him being a bit chunky, he does looks like me. I mean the receding hair line is the closest resemblance. Anyway, attached are two more comic arts. Just to protect myself againts copyright laws here, and for your references, the artistic comic art belongs to Gerry Alanguilan and I got the pictures, here and here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dad with courage, mom with love.

This is a continuation from Family Visit (part 3)

From South Dakota, we drove back to Kent, Ohio on the 23rd, August and arrived back in Kent on the 24th. I was in a hurry to reach home for classes on the 25th. While being back home, I brought mom and dad shopping a lot. Mom and dad was particularly fond of the Outlet malls where mom got herself shoes from Hush Puppies, sandals from Crocs and handbags from Liz Claiborne. Dad got himself a really good deal on Samsonite travel luggage.

Also we had a chance to go to Cleveland. Particularly, to get more food. There is a really nice halal store here in Cleveland and many Asian stores that can help an Asian Muslim like myself go crazy stocking up on spices.
Mom wanted to have a gathering here for some of the nice Malaysian folks who have helped me out when I first arrived.

My small apartment is hardly a complete kitchen. I'm a bachelor so cooking is hardly a priority. Which makes a season cook like my Mom feel a bit uneasy trying to cook and entertain about 10 Malaysian's in Kent. So we also had to run to stores and get a few things like a nice serving bowl, a serving spoon, and a blender to blend the chilly. After all that, she was all happy as I helped out what I can to help her prepare the food. As always, Mom's cooking is the best.

So fast so soon, and they were already gone on the 31st. The night before, I helped them pack their bags. I was indeed sad, but always had problems showing it. Mom was emotional about it for a second, as my Dad remained calm and stayed macho.
Even all grown up, being independent for so many years alone in a foreign country, I know now that Mom never felt comfortable for me being away. I guess to her eyes, I'm still her boy. Undoubtedly, that's what a mother's love is, unconditional and always full of love. And I also realized, that Mom's strength comes from Dad's courage. I know he feels sad too, but Dad had always been good in showing a brave front, as he remain calm and assured Mom with his demeanor, that this is a parents sacrifice.

To Mom and Dad, thank you for coming and visit me. I miss the both of you a lot. I might not show it well. I guess like father like son, but I assure you, inside, I wish I could just keep my parents here in Kent. This entry can hardly utter the words of what I feel. Love you Mom and Dad, and come again next year yea....:)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Family Visit (part 3)

This is a continuation from Family Visit (part 2)

We also heard a lot of stories about the Devils tower. The devils tower is a unique monument. It is also the first
National Monument declared by the US. "Devils Tower (Lakota: Mato Tipila, which means “Bear Tower”) is a monolithic igneous intrusion or volcanic neck located in the Black Hills near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeastern Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River. It rises dramatically 386 m (1,267 ft) above the surrounding terrain and the summit is 1,558 m (5,112 ft) above sea level", wikipedia.

What interest me about the devils tower is that a lot of people climb it. Once I hit my ideal weight, I will join a climbing club here. Hopefully, I will find friends crazy enough to climb up Devils tower nie.:)

After all the adventures at the devils tower, we also went to Crazy Horse Memorial. Crazy horse is the Red Indian general who defeated General Custer. He was then killed in a treaty, stab in the back. Though, some records written by white historian claims he was accidentally stabbed.
Crazy Horse memorial will also be carved in a mountain like mount Rushmore, it has been 50 years now, and only the face part is done. Eventually, the mountain will depict the exact replica on the left.

Of course, we also had to visit the South Dakota Aviation Museum. Dad was happy here. He was excited to see the aircrafts that he had flown before and the kinds of aircraft he never had the chance to fly. We also learn a lot about the nuclear rockets that was installed during the cold war. We were given a tour of the missile silos and its history.

Family Visit (part 2)

This is a continuation from Family Visit (part 1)

Being in South Dakota, we just had to go visit Mount Rushmore. The picture to the left is the faces of the famous 4 presidents of the United States. From the left, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

We had a lot of pictures here, and also learned a lot about the history of America. I shall reserve what I think of their history, because it is full of violence, but I must respect, good or bad, they have never forgotten their ancestors that helped build their nation. Yang keruh (the muddy waters) they throw out, and they just keep the good values of it. Wish that Malaysian people will learn how to cherish our history and respect our elders for the contributions that our forefathers have given us. I guess without knowing our history, it will keep us in ignorance.

A long time ago, there was about 20 million of these native Bison in the land of the Indians. They were hunted by white hunters to make coats and boots. Today, known as S.Dakota, America, there are only about a thousand left, and they are in the endangered species. This is the land where the Sioux and the Lakota tribe Red Indians used to live, the black hills and the Bad lands. There is a lot of history here and we sure did learned a lot.

They call it Bad Lands because nothing green can grow up in the Bad lands. In the olden days, the US government tried to give the land by government vouchers, which cost about a dollar or sometimes free. They tried to make people come here and build farms. But all who came failed to produce any vegetation in the Bad lands. They did managed to bring people here anyways, when they found out that there was gold at the Black Hills close to the Bad Lands.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Visit (part 1)

Mom and dad came and visit me in Kent, Ohio. So I've uploaded some pictures. I arrive the airport, right on time, but apparently, their flight arrived much earlier, due to a tail wind, and they have been waiting for about 15 minutes.

So by the time I arrived, I saw dad waiting....
He looked tired and pissed off. Mom then appeared from the rest room and they both looked tired. So I wasted no time, took the bags and led them to the parking lot. I put their luggage in the trunk and drove ahead to my apartment. I'm sure they wanted to rest. We rested and they slept like a baby that night.
The next day, mom's friends, Auntie Marie Jane from Toronto came all the way to Kent to meet us. They drove 6 hours from Toronto, Canada. They met in a tour trip in Europe, and have been friends ever since through email. Finally, they met again, here in Kent. So we had dinner at a nice restaurant here in Kent. After the meal, we headed back to my house, to let them try some of Malaysian specialty, the Keropok.

The next day, we had lunch with Auntie Marie Jane, and her life mate at a Thai restaurant. After the meal, we continue a journey of 1200 miles towards South Dakota. It was a long drive, and it took us about 3 days to reach there. We also stopped along the way. Here are some pictures of the BadLands and me posing infront of the National Monument, Mount Rushmore.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dead Mechanical Clock

I am not a poet, but for some reason, I can't fall asleep but I have no motivation to do work, and i feel like writing poetry tonight.
Just one of those times....don't laugh
Keep in mind that this is my first attempt, my nephew emil does a better job in writing poetry. He's pretty good actually. So here's mine and it goes like this....

I hear it all the time,
---Monotonous tick and tocks,
Without feeling or without conscience,
---As I put on my socks.
Hoping that it holds the answers,
---But define me it does not,
Contemplating the sounds of a dead mechanical clock,
---It just keep me in an infinite knot,

Like a shooting star with uncharted path,
---Towards another space of darkness,
As wisdom takes me over,
---Nothing's here except the voids of loneliness,
It moves with reason like a sentient being,
---Fully aware and yet no signs of life,
It is undead but unmotivated,
---It tries with no reason to strive,

A sudden burst of movement,
---What was in order is now chaotic,
The ticks are now increasing,
---It makes no sense, it must be cryptic,
Moving in chaos its ready to break,
---It quibbles violently displacing with time,
Everything seems wrong and uncertain--
---An explosion is near just unsure if it is prime.

Once dead, and yet alive--
---Once it was right and in order,
Time progresses and maybe one day,
---A disarray of events fall together,
What once disappeared could reappear,
---In a different form of certainty,
What was once alive in an explosion,
---Can be calm and again deadly.

by Joey aka. Rizal

Monday, August 04, 2008

Police Image

I don't usually talk about personal feelings in my blog, not because I'm cold, or indifferent, but because when I vent out, the dark side of me surfaces, and it is not a pleasant one. I don't usually talk about politics because I know that I have friends with many different opinions and views, and I try very hard not to offend their beliefs.

What I will talk about is constructive ideas. Which might be destructive, but I will try making the best of it. As we now know, the people of our country are having problems in trusting the authorities. Particularly, the authorities that are meant to uphold the law and justice are now questioned for their veracity. The recent events in our country made the police looked bad. The "vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified" (quoted from the movie V). True indeed, that once, we respected the police, we consider them protectors and they were the heroes that would voice out the truth and yet today they vitiate and we stand flabbergasted as their actions seems to be full of debauchery, and nothing less than having venal arrangement with what the people perceived as villains.

The police image is definitely infected and what they need are new ideas on how to help their image, to help morale in the police force and get citizen support to help them in their investigations. The sad thing is, there are a lot of honest police out there, and they are being discredited for their hard work. When heroes are looked upon as villains, the law and order of things will break down. And so, thats why we must help remind the good police officers the reasons for them being in the police force. People should know about their sacrifices, and the media should help in giving credit to good man and woman working in the force.

Unfortunately, for the police, everything they do now cannot be right. If they issue a summon, people will hate them, and if they don't people say they are not doing their job. If they do investigations, they are abusing their power and if they act on a hunch, their are not being thorough. So how can the police fix their image.

The solution is a reality show for police.

What if the public knows what police are facing everyday? What if a hidden camera is set up to follow a traffic police everywhere? How sneaky drivers would offer bribes to them, and how they are trying hard to avoid such corrupt practices despite their poor living conditions with the salary they are getting now? This will immediately give credit to the honest traffic police, the heroes that help our streets save, and give the respect that they deserve. Of course they are corrupt traffic police everywhere, and we can't do much about it. However, we can give credit to those who have abstain themselves from the path of corruption.

What about other types of police? What if the media shows the challenges of police officers in narcotics are facing. The fear of being poke by a needle as they come to arrest drug addicts. The fear of being shot at by drug offenders high in cocaine. These are the things that the people might not know.......and the reality of things is that the police is earning less than comfortable income, support a family with small kids while his wife worries everytime he walks out of the door, for he might not come back alive one day.

Of course I'm being dramatic. But politicians are also very dramatic, and the media extol their actions as if they are heroes. As they make seemingly biblical proportion sacrifices infront of the media, they still go back to their nice banglo houses, and tinted black luxury cars. So why not the poor man and woman who serves our country with no intention of gaining political power, owning nothing more than a motorcycle and living in rundown flats like our police, fireman and soldiers too get the attention of the media? They are well more their sacrifices are real.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Swim Joey, Swim!!!

Ever since summer started, I've been eating less and exercising more. I've been trying to get my weight down to at least within the healthy range of my BMI (Body Mass Index). Right now my BMI is 26.2, which is bad, since 25.0 - 29.9 indicates an overweight condition. It's not that I'm self-conscious about myself, but considering that body weight only increases with age, I don't want to be overweight now and by the time I hit 50, being obesely overweight. So consider it as a future health investment and my target investment is a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9 which indicates a healthy weight.

So lately, to reduce weight, I've been doing cardio workouts. Nothing complex, I just run, like Forrest Gump, and you might not believe me when I say, that I can run...."like the winnndddd" (hehehehe....a phrase borrowed from the movie Forrest Gump). I ran on a threadmill at the recreational center. The recreation center here in Kent is superb and comes complete with all the facilities that students like me can use. The problem with running, and perhaps because I'm getting old, is that my knee starts to hurt if I ran everyday. So two weeks ago, when I heard my friend linuxlah worked out by swimming, I thought I would give swimming a try. So I got myself goggles and swimming trunk and went to the swimming lanes.

As I dipped into the water, the water felt nice and warm. And I submerged myself to get a good feel of the water and the water tasted a bit salty. What can you expect, people are swimming lapses here nonstop. Anyhow, I looked at the lane to my right where a fat old man was getting into the pool as well. And on my left, there was another old lady getting ready to swim. As they get themselves ready, I casually started my freestyle swim towards the other end of the pool. Being an aquarian, swimming should be natural for me. Or so I thought, never guess that I was so wrong.

Its been a while since I went swimming, and the other end of the pool seems very far away. At first I was freestyling with good considerable speed, then suddenly I felt my shoulders feel uncomfortable, and every time i raise my hand flapping, it felts heavier. Not to mention that my legs which should be paddling the water seems to be moving in an irregular motion sideways.
I then realised I was not swimming freestyle, I was just flinching in the pool. I had to stop and change styles to frog-style swimming, since I needed the time to think what the hell am I doing.

Then, as I regained my concentration, fixed my hands flapping rhythm with my paddling feet motion I continued my freestyle swimming again. I noticed then the old men on my right lane was woooshing away with considerable speed and full of vigor. Well, I thought at least its an old man, he probably have a lot of stamina for an old man. Then came woooshing on my left lane, an old lady passing me. Damn, I'm basically a lame duck who can't swim. By the time I reached the other end of the pool, I was gasping for air like there is no tomorrow. As for the old man and old lady, they have made their way finishing another lapse. Panting and breathing heavily, the life guard looked at me with extreme concern. I'm sure she is thinking that she has to keep an eye on me, since I can suddenly sink somewhere in the middle.

It's been 2 weeks now, and though I can't swim like a fish yet, I can say that I'm doing okay. At least finish a lapse or two nonstop. I try to swim as many lapse as I can for 30-50 minutes. I never remembered swimming to be this hard before, running is definitely easier than swimming.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Lately our research group submitted a demo paper to The 6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems, 2008 (SENSYS). As one of the authors, I am very excited about it. We can't submit a full conference paper yet, since our research is far from what we are trying to do, and all we can do right now, with our preliminary data and experiments is show a demo in this respectable conference.
The reason why I am very excited about it is because SENSYS is one of the leading conferences in my area. Albeit, it is just a demo, but unlike many other conferences, SENSYS actually publishes their demo and poster papers. Furthermore, looking at papers, demo and posters being accepted in the past, much of the accepted papers comes from big named schools. Similarly, the review committee are from well respectable schools and well known individuals in our research area. I'm hoping our research holds some kind of significance to the reviewers, enough to get our demo publish in this conference.
Getting our demo publish will get us a feedback on whether my research area is something of interest to the Embedded and Networked Sensors community. It will also get us buy in on our research ideas and be a stepping stone for us to get funding as well as getting our papers publish in the future.
I'm praying hard that this paper actually gets accepted, and the wait is making me restless.
There is a possibility of being rejected due to the high volume of submissions, and this particular conference has been known to be very competitive. In the past, out of the many demo papers submitted from all around the world, only about 20+ demos gets accepted every year. I am not looking forward to be rejected, but I'm trying my best to not get overly excited to minimize the disappointment. So I'm telling myself, if we don't get accepted, at least we got rejected from well known individuals in the area, and the fact that I've tried.
If, I'm lucky, and I hope I am, we will get accepted. Which will also give me a nervous breakdown, since I will have little time to make my experiments good enough for the demo and get ready to face the public on my research work in the conference by early november this year. The good side of things, I will get to travel. This year, the Sensys Conference will be at Raleigh, NC.
So knowing that I really need it, wish me luck....:)

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Mrxvt config

I've been using mrxvt for quite a while now. And I love it, it gives me the power of a light weight terminal like rxvt and still having multiple tabs to switch between terminals. But lately, when I ran mrxvt, i get funny deprecated warnings. It seems that my config (.mrxvtrc) file is already too old to be used.
Hence, I went online looking for the latest possible config file I can plagarize. I'm too lazy to figure it out myself.
Sure enough, the open source community has been good in sharing, and there is a ready template for anyone to play with. I got myself the config file and edited a few options.
I ran mrxvt and now its exactly the way I wanted it, with pseudo tranparency (you can have full tranparency if you want, but it will be too heavy for my old machine) that gives the glassy look effect and at the same time having the background tinted just enough for me to see my fonts clearly. Anyways, if you want to download the config file, you can download it at materm sourceforge website.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The tools of the trade

Being a computer scientist is not all about doing programming, staring at the computer screen, with an inch thick glasses, while eating junk food. There are a lot of tools, that the academic community and especially the scientific community use. Particularly, all of the research work needs to be published. And publishing a research work can be competitive, and you will have to write nicely formatted papers. The problem of publishing papers is making sure that all the formatting are pretty and the formula and graphs gets displayed nicely. Apparently, despite the amazing tool that Microsoft create, called the "Microsoft Word/MsWord", it is rather inferior when it comes to publishing good scientific papers. Formatting on word is incredibly difficult. For example, putting complex formulas would be difficult in MsWord. There is just not suitable math symbols to help you write the formula. Furthermore, divisions doesn't really work well. Other symbols like delta, omega, phi,psi, lamda, summation and all of the greek symbols are sometimes not exactly how you want it to look like. For example, trying to write the formula below on MsWord would hardly be possibly, I have not tried doing it on MsWord, but I would say it would be a challenge to write the formula below on MsWord.

Hence, the academic community, particularly scientist, use Latex. Latex is an amazing tool, it's not really user friendly, but it create documents beautifully, format it like a professional, and help you display graphs and formula just like how you would like to see it on scientific journal papers. There are not much of a choice, and I too am force to use Latex, learn how to use it, to help me write papers.

The other thing that I need to learn and use as a scientist is gnuplot. Now gnuplot as the name implies, is a plotting application. Gnuplot are particularly a command line application to generate beautiful graphs. The flexibility on gnuplot surely beats MsExcel anytime. There are still a lot of functions on gnuplot that I need to learn, but I'm getting a hang of it. Of course you can use excel to make plots and graphs, but there are some things that MsExcel is just inferior in trying to make graphs for scientific research.

To the left is a graph generated by gnuplot. This is also part of the data of my research.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Under Where?

Where is the post? Under there? Under here? Nope, not there? Then wear....over mean...underwear?
:) hehehe

Yes, underwear. This post is about underwear. Nope, not Victoria Secret underwear, but Boxer Briefs. Today I had a little time to go shopping at an outlet nearby. Particularly, I was looking for a swimming trunk. I had to go swimming and rotate from jogging to swimming. I just can't jog everyday since its making my knee hurt. Anyway, I walked into Banana Republic and noticed really nice boxer briefs. I just had to get a pair of it. Cause it really looks comfy, not to mention sexy.

Why do I need sexy briefs. Well, I don't need one, but it can be convenient to wear one at certain times. Here is an explanation why...
Imagine after working out, running or swimming at the gym and then you go ahead and take a shower. After the shower, you will take a towel, wrap it around your waist and walk towards your locker. As you walk towards your locker, you noticed the weighing scale. Of course, after burning some fat, you really are curious about whether you have lost some weight, right? But if you take your weight while you are wearing towel, the wet towel will add a few pounds, about 1 or 2. Most Americans here, are comfortable enough to just drop the towel and measure their weight naked. I however, am a bit uncomfortable of being naked in front of people I don't know. So what I would do is, get myself dried with a towel, put on my brief and then walk back towards the weighing scale to measure my weight. Now standing almost naked with a brief in front of people is not less uncomfortable, but surely better than standing naked as your ding dong hangs clear for people's viewing. Hence, the boxer brief is really a convenient thing to wear while taking your weight. Also, while you are at it, you might as well look stylist walking in the changing room, why not get a nice one to show it off.

Continue with my story.....Then I walked into the Calvin Klein outlet, where i saw another nice sexy brief. When it comes to brief, nothing beats Calvin Klein. Hence, I got myself a Calvin Klein underwear, but this one is not to show off, but for me to go jogging. Supposedly, this particular boxer brief that I bought is for active wear. The material is of a special kind, that would help evaporate your sweat quickly. It has ergonomic design with a breathable mesh to control moisture, tagless CoolMax waistband for extra comfort, particularly ideal for men with active lifestyle. So this avoid the wet pants look when you sweat like a dog. And in the gym, where there are a lot of people, you just don't want to make the person waiting to sit on the equipment you are using feel uncomfortable, especially when he sees your butt is sweating wet.

I thought about putting a picture of the model using the brief here, but I think some of you might feel uncomfortable. Though, I doubt most woman would complain, a men like me would naturally feel a bit yuck about it. But I can't deny the level of comfort it provides, of course i mean wearing one and not about looking at a model wearing one. I must warn you before opening the link below, it is a bit gay.
Here is a link of the Calvin Klein tech active trunk.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Work in Progress

Dear Readers,

I don't have a lot of readers, but I believe I have some family and friends who are wondering why I'm not writing. I'm sorry for being busy lately but I am in good health though mostly sleep deprive. I must say that I have been taking a sabbatical leave on blogging for maybe a month. Particularly, I'm busy trying to finish the requirements necessary to convince funding for my 2 research projects as well as another project I'm working on my own. So a lot of work is in progress. Will update soon. Have much to say, just no time to put it down.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Recently, I had the pleasure to experience a book called Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. This book is about a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. Indeed this book was very interesting, it tries to explain a lot of things that normal people don't even try to explain. It tries to quantify things that aren't quantifiable and using empirical facts to reach astonishing conclusion.

The book explores why conventional wisdom is so often wrong, where criminologist to real estate agents to political scientist bend the facts due to ignorance or plain selfish motives. However, knowing what to measure, how to measure the necessary data, can help us understand life and enlighten us from conventional wisdom.

Some of the questions answered in this book are:
  1. What do School Teachers and Sumo Wrestlers have in common? Do teachers cheat to have a better score for their Teachers Evaluation, similarly, are Sumo wrestlers they actually set up wresting matches? How do you find out?
  2. How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents? What kinds of secrets does this too group keeps from you for their own benefit. What does the real-estate agent mean by "well-maintained".
  3. Why does a car's value drops the moment it leaves the lot, and what do online dates cheat about and can you really trust what online daters say about themselves.
  4. If you think a drug dealer makes a lot of money, why does drug dealers still stay with their moms. Or why prostitutes earns much more than an architect. What does a drug dealer, high school quarterback and and an editorial assistant have in common. How the invention of crack cocaine mirrored the invention of nylon stockings.
  5. Where have all the Criminals gone? In the early 1980's, some criminologist and experts claims that the crime and violence in year 2000 would be a blood bath. But it seems that the prediction was wrong....what really happened? Why the 1960's a good time to be a criminal. Why capital punishment doesn't deter criminals. Do police actually lowers crime rates? Is a a gun more dangerous than a swimming pool?
  6. What makes a better parent? Why a good school isn't as good as you think? Eight things that make a child do great and 8 things that don't. For example, would your children do better in school if you were to bring them to the museum once a month?
The book was more a combination of philosophy, math and science and some of the results was amazingly surprising. For example, could you think of how abortion could help to reduce crime? Well it turns out that abortion was the reason why crime in the US dropped in 1995 onwards. And this is because, about 20 years ago, the laws prior to 1970 was against abortion, and so when a single mother fights for her rights to abort a child because she thinks she is not ready and would therefore be an unfit mother. She won the legal case and change the laws of abortion, and 20 years later the crime starts falling.....why is that? You just have to read the book to find out. I shall not spill the beans here....

The book made me think. Why is it that in such a conservative country like Malaysia, there are some people who still throw new born babies in the dumpster, which is far from our cultural and religious beliefs. Why does this happen? Are they afraid of being charge of wetlock? Or perhaps, its more than that....could it be that the social penalty is more unbearable. I guess it must be something attributed to the laws of abortion in Malaysia. I do not condone abortion, but what are people like you and me doing to help against this from happening. If unfit parents are force to become parents...what could possibly happen to their children...if not in the dumpster while being a fetus or eventual criminals in the future. But if our cultural and religious beliefs are against that, then our people, you and me, and hence the government that we choose, and the country that we live, should do something to address this problem. Because just by teaching them morals, won't really stop them. Particularly, social scientist in Malaysia should study, why people throw babies, what made them to act so callous. What could be a social, moral or monetary incentive to stop them from doing so. To know the answers to that mystery questions, a sufficient study and data gathering should be collected. Most mother's who feel that they are unfit are afraid to face the public due to all kinds of punishment the mother would be indignation, capital law punishments as well as being stoned to death in some countries. Sometimes, experts or so called experts hail their knowledge and put fear into local ignorant people (some call them sinners) who are claimed to be doom and damn. And so they act against their believe and start to act like animals. Can we stop this from there an avenue that will re-educate lost young souls from acting like animals? Or do we just ignore it, or face our cheeks the other way and call them sinners? What do you think?

Friday, May 09, 2008

I don't want to grow up

Last weekend, I saw an advertisement again about a garage sale somewhere close to my house. I never thought about going, but figured why not and just check out what was there. I didn't expect to buy anything but when I was there, I found Lots and lots of toys for sale.

Like a little boy in toys 'R Us, I was counting my money of what things I could buy. While in my head, there was this Toys 'R Us Jingle playing.....
"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys' R Us kid
There's a million toys at Toys 'R Us that I can play with! From bikes, to trains, to video games, It's the biggest toy store there is! Gee whiz! I don't want to grow, cuz baby if I did, I wouldn't be a Toys 'R Us kid!"

Anyway, I got myself a foosball table, a wall climbing harness, a Pirates of The Caribbean chess set, a set of dominoes pieces and a bunch of gambling chips. I don't know why I got them, not like I got anyone to play it with, but ever since I was a kid, I always wanted a foosball table, but it was always too expensive. But this time, it was selling for only 25USD. So I got it anyways, as a decoration in my gym/play room.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Who Killed the Duke of Densmore?

The idea of using interval graphs in detective stories was exploited in depth by Claude Berge in his novelette Que a tuZ le Duc de Densmore? (Who killed the Duke of Densmore?, Bibliotheque Oulipienne No.67). The story presented ideas of using Graph Theories to help solve realistic problems. However, getting this as an assignment can be far from realistic of getting a good grade. So anybody knows who killed Duke of Densmore, please tell me. I know the answer, but i can't solve it using Interval graphs or the academician style of explaining it in interval graphs. The question is as below:

The Duke of Densmore is found dead in the explosion of its castle on the Isle of White. The murder was committed with a bomb placed carefully in the labyrinth of the castle, which would require a long preparation in hiding in the mazes of the labyrinth. During his last years, the Duke had received eight visitors at his castle; each of them was brought first to the island and then back to the mainland by a motor boat. None of them recalls the precise dates or duration of her stay on the island, but each remembers with certainty whom else she had met on the Isle of White:

-- Ann saw Betty, Cynthia, Emily, Felicia and Georgia
-- Betty saw Ann, Cynthia and Helen
-- Cynthia saw Ann, Betty, Diana, Emily and Helen
-- Diana saw Cynthia and Emily
-- Emily saw Ann, Cynthia, Diana and Felicia
-- Felicia saw Ann and Emily
-- Georgia saw Ann and Helen
-- Helen saw Betty, Cynthia and Georgia

The testimony of each woman is comfirmed by the others and collusion between any two is out of question.

If you are a detective like Sherlock Holmes, and also happens to be a Graph Theory enthusiast, how do you find the killer. The killer must have stayed in the labyrinth once, or perhaps several times in order to prepare for her evil plan. Also, none of the suspects are giving false testimony, cause the Sailor who transported the suspects confirmed their testimony. However, the possibility of two people were at the same place and at the same time, but not see each other is highly probable. Any ideas?

There are a couple of ways to answer this question, you either need to be good at graph theory or have exceptional googling skills. I tried Googling, but can't find the exact solution I wanted.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Joey Balboa

I'm sure a lot of you have been inspired by the movie Rocky before. If you have not, maybe you should watch Rocky I, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa (last sequel for now). Yes, 5 sequels after the first Rocky in 1976. It was the most successful movie for Sylvester Stallone, won a lot of awards and one of the best UnderDog Movie ever made. On the left is a picture of the famous scene of Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and it has become a cultural icon.

I myself have ran up these stairs before, just to have the pretend experience of Rocky ... and replaying my childhood dreams overcoming huge hurdles like Rocky Balboa.

Well, sometimes, in life, we often give up, but we have to continue, like Rocky says, "It ain't about how hard we can hit, but how hard we can get hit, and keep moving on". Sometimes, we lie down too long and by the time we know it, our next opportunity is gone. So we have to always stand up and continue, before the count down is over. Time is limited and we have to be committed.

Speaking of which, I too have set myself into a time commitment. One of it, is to exercise more and work harder on my research. So, on the exercise part, I decided to utilize my extra empty room and turn it into an exercise room.

Yesterday, I went to pick up my exercise equipment. Someone was selling off their weighlifting set, so I decided to get it for 45 bucks.

So before summer ends, I'll be exercising to better myself and have my muscles toned....just like Rocky. My target, by the end of summer--and the background rocky theme song starts playing, tgh perasan nie--I will be Joey Balboa.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How I've Been Settling Down

It has been difficult trying to settle down. But I try my best to make this place my temporary home. In an attempt to survive for the next few years, I've been slowly buying cheap stuff when I can to occupy my new home. When I first arrived, I had to sleep on the floor. It was really cold, so I immediately got a comforter to keep me warm. It didn't work that well. But not like I had a better choice. I eventually had to resort to buying a brand new bed online, since my back was starting to take its toll.

Since I came in the middle of the year, finding an apartment was difficult. I didn't feel like staying in a sublet with someone, so I had to settle for a much bigger apartment, a 2 bedroom, though I only need one, there was no vacant one room or studio apartment. And I got the basement unit, which means, my window is as high as the surface outside. Which makes it a bit scary since people can see what's inside. So I got my shower curtains first to cover my windows. Thanks to Abg. Rashid, who helped donating some window curtains and Rice cooker for me to use later.

Like any immature adult, what I got first was a TV. I got a used TV for USD 150 by hunting through craiglist. The cable for the TV came a day after the TV arrived. The TV was nice, but, I still didn't have any furniture. And for weeks, I had to study on the floor, and eat on the floor. I also managed to get someone to deliver me the drawers to put the TV on. It was not in perfect condition, but the person was willing to get rid of it for USD 10. So I agreed, and after some clean-up, it didn't look that bad.

Finally, also from craiglist, I managed to get a dinner table. Eating on the floor really makes me feel depressed. So when I found in craiglist that someone wanted to sell their dinner table for USD 70, I wasted no time to get it. It was also in a bad condition, but after some manual fixing of tightening the screws, it was good as new. I also got some small corner tables from a second hand shop, for about USD 5 each.

While being here, whenever I can, I go and visit god's home in a Masjid near by. I must admit, sometimes I miss friday prayers at the Masjid, due to class,meetings with supervisor or just plain over exhausted, but I try my best to go when I can. And the people there are modern Muslims and I enjoy Kutbah, much more than the ones I can remember back home in Malaysia. The Kutbah here has a modern perspective to it, and encourages love and success in the present day lives. Back home, they talk a lot more about after life.

Being here for about 5 months now, I must say, I'm all settled. And the connections in the Masjid, with some of the Muslim brother's, has helped me settled down faster. I found out a Muslim family who was leaving the states and they were selling off their stuff. So I got some of their furniture, particularly, a 2 seat and 3 seat sofa, A TV stand, carpets and many more, and I got all that for USD 200, which was a pretty good deal.

With everything settled, I have no excuse but to concentrate on my research. This summer will be a new beginning. It will be a totally different challenge for me, as I try to finish up my prototype for my research, the view of the ahead journey looks like a very high ascending slope. I sure hope the view up there will be worth it, cause from down here, at the current moment, I'm sighing to myself with despair.....but still eager for the challenge. So family and friends, who care, come back to hear all about it from time to time.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Something lurking in the Dark

It was close to 3am, and the only thing playing on the tv was just an unpleasant ghost story screaming about something gruesome. I dare not look at it, not because I'm scared, but I just don't want an ugly bloody image running in my head before I go to sleep.

Its almost spring, and the air was slightly warm. As the temperature got warmer, there was no need for the heater to be up, and at 3 am in the morning, without the mechanical fan clanking and whining from the heater, it was awfully quiet. I tried to listen for any ominous threat. Not that I'm paranoid, but one cannot be too careful while being alone.

After turning off all the lights, I just realized how ridiculous it was to even be afraid or even let myself be slightly concern. So I just smiled to myself, and in my mind, a self monologue says,"hay silly, go to sleep, its late. You're not afraid, are you!!!! hahaha". And, convincing myself, I smiled, and replied my own monologue conversation, "Me, afraid, heck no....I'm Rizal, never been afraid, and never will". The monologue was not as assuring as I expected, but went to bed anyways. I tried to sleep, but the room was warm and it made me feel uncomfortable. So I went to the window, opened it to let the cool spring breeze in, I just can't sleep when it is terribly warm.

It was cooler now, and I feel much more comfortable. I was about to dose off, and slowly I can feel the world of concerns floating away. And just before I was off to lalaland, a sudden noise disturbed my sense of tranquility. I was awaken by some clanking noise right at the window. My eyes suddenly opened wide in the dark. I can't see anything, but I can surely hear something breathing, whizzing, and scratching at the window.

What could it be? My heart rate jumped, my senses heighten and my mind was imagining 1001 things per second, as images of unsightly things races through my mind. There was definitely something at the window, and I just remembered, that the damn window was opened. If there was really something evil there, it can surely get in, and I cannot risk that from happening. So I rushed to the window to close it , and like in the scary movie, as I pushed the curtains to the side, and I saw a pair of yellow eyes looking straight at me. "What the f***?" I jumped, and immediately I was taken a back from the window, as the curtains now block my view from what was a mysterious pair of yellow eyes staring at me behind the curtain window.

I must admit, the yellow eyes got me shaken, but I can still think logically. And my logic mind says I got to close the window, cause it was still opened, and I got to do that fast. So I immediately turn on the lights and went for my second attempt to close the window. I push the curtains to the sides, and now, there was nothing there. Damn....was I imagining it, or was there really something lurking in the dark.

I close the window while keep looking what evil things could possibly be outside. Nothing, not a sound, no floating yellow eyes, there was just a few branches that was hardly a threat. Again, my monologue says, "am I crazy....could I be imagining it". I close the lights again to go to sleep, but then, I can hear the whizzing, clanking and scratching noise again. I brave myself, but this time, I turned on the lights before pushing the curtain to the side, and this time....I was surprise.....

I was surprise to see this creature that lurks in the dark. I'm not sure what it was, but it didn't look harmful. Or at least, I didn't think it could harm me. I immediately ran to take my camera. I managed to take a picture of it before it ran away.

I'm not sure what it was. It looked like a rat, but it was far too big to be a rat. It was as big as a cat, or a small dog. It looked like a rabbit, but the ears were too small. It looked like a squirrel, but the tail was too short to be a squirrel. I'm not sure what it was, but it definitely looked curious, and was equally afraid of me, as I was afraid of him. After taking his pictures, he got afraid of the flashes, and ran away. I felt sorry for the creature, it was just probably hungry and just woke up from hibernation. I still wonder what this creature is called though....and what is it, what species....If anybody recognize this creature that was lurking in the Dark, please do tell me about it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Human Element

I live alone in my small tiny apartment, and I must admit, my best friend is the TV, where I get to see the world in many ways, bending the space-time continuum to go back in time in the History channel, and warp ahead of time in the Science channel. I also get to see parallel universe of how our lives could be different if we were to do things differently. Other than that, I also get to learn all kinds of knowledge, from mathematics, home science, humanities, philosophy, musicology, physiology, biology, humorology, ... and etc-ology, just an abundant source of knowledge besides google-logy.

An interesting idea in an advertisement on the science channel is that humans are still trying to understand the world that we live in--in all aspects of life. To understand the world better, we try to classify things, and study the things around us. Hence, we create the periodic table with all kinds of elements that exist in this world. However, we are still trying to understand what makes us human. And the idea in the advertisement says that if we try to include ourself, the human element (Hu) in the periodic table, we can probably see how we tend to interact in the world that we live it, and the things that makes us special and what makes humanity.

If we try to put the human element, maybe we can understand a lot of things. Particularly, the human element would have two types, or maybe 4 according to some. Man, Woman, Man trap in a Woman's body, Woman trap in Man's body. Having that thought in mind, i received a funny email. The email tries to put humans in the periodic table. The human element (Hu) that they tried to classify was woman. I find it interesting, because its one of the first attempt to put humans on the periodic table.

This attempt of putting a human in the periodic table is ridiculous but yet could probably bring a lot of insights. Like any scientific endeavors, it will receive much criticism, and I'm sure a lot would criticize the validity or accurateness of such claims. But I think it is probably a brave start for such discovery and may help evolve to a lot more of interesting theories.

I'm sure a lot of man will agree with me that woman are impossible to understand. So maybe this attempt of classification of the human element will help us understand more about woman.

On the other hand, i know i will get a lot of hate comments here....But for the sake of science, and the advancement of humankind, I'm willing to take the risk....:)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rizal's Shrine and The origin of my name

My cousin, Dr. Yusoff Abdullah shared a picture with me, after he found Rizal's Shrine in his adventures to the Philippines. Yeah, my Shrine...Rizal's Shrine. There is a Shrine for me.!!!!! Well, actually, it's not me. It's a shrine for Dr. JOSÉ PROTACIO RIZAL MERCADO Y ALONSO REALONDA. He died 30 December 1896, Manila, Philippines), patriot, physician and man of letters whose life and literary works were an inspiration to the Philippine nationalist movement. Rizal is a national hero of the Philippines. He was a genius, a linguist who can speak several languages, a physician, a writer and also very good looking and popular among the ladies. He got it all.....and his rebellious demeanor was mostly his charm, which made him a hero and brought the Philippines and the people of the land to fight for freedom from oppressors. He was killed by his oppressors who feared his influence, but instead of making the people of Philippines docile, his death immortalized Jose Rizal and raise and united the people towards independence.

A lot of people knew where his/her name came from. As for me, I had two names. Joey, my nick name that most of my close friends and family call me, and Rizal, my official name on my birth certificate. Though my family always had two versions of the story, the one that I really dislike was that when i was born, I was so small and wrinkled up like a joey(a baby kangaroo). The other version is that my name Rizal came from Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero. But how did Rizal came to be Joey. Well, since I'm half filipino, half of my family is still in the Philippines. So they gave me the name Joey. Joey, a common nick name for people with the name Jose. And that would make me similar to Dr. Jose Rizal.....I just hope one day, I'll be following his footsteps as well, getting my PhD and be called Dr. Joey Rizal.:)

Shakespeare said that "what is in a name, by which we call a rose. By any other name, wouldn't it smell as sweet." I know that a name really doesn't make a person. But I can't help to wonder how a name shapes a person's character, or is it by mere coincidence. Unlike Dr. Jose Rizal, I'm not a genius, not a linguist, not popular with the ladies and not very good looking. But I can't help to wonder, that I am also very rebellious. Had I've been born in the 1800s, would I have been the man going against the British? Would I be the writer, to state the obvious, unite the people and protest on ideas of equality and human rights. I can't help to wonder. What purpose do I have in life, and am I meant for greater things like Jose Rizal. I just hope that I don't end up dead before making a real impact in society. Everyman quest is to seek immortality. Leaving behind a piece of himself before his life ends. Wonder what my contributions will be ....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Chicago, Illinois

Here I was in the middle of Chicago City, at the Union Station(left). Standing and acting cool in front of the river thats flows to Lake Michigan. I found my way later to the Field's Museum(right), it was said to be the must visit place.

The museum had a couple of interesting artifacts, it was very huge, but an interesting exhibit that caught my attention was the Inside Ancient Egypt. It was said that after researchers in Saqqara, Egypt, excavated two of the original chambers from the tomb of Unis-ankh, son of the Fifth Dynasty ruler Pharaoh Unis. The mastaba (tomb) of Unis-ankh forms the core of a spellbinding exhibit that realistically depicts scenes from Egyptian funeral, religious, and other social practices. I put on my Dr. Indy Rizal hat and tried to decipher the heliographic writings on the walls. When I was younger, I always imagined to be the adventurous historian and archaeologists Dr. Indiana Jones.

After helping out pulling the large slab of stone from the pyramid's and discovering the secret of Unis-ankh and the book of the dead (me imagining again), i found myself hurrying off to search for another dangerous mystery. But I did, take some pictures before that. Here I am taking some pictures, with the Chicago City background. Think you can see Sears Tower behind me, disappearing in the clouds.

My other dangerous mystery was actually my growling stomach. I was told that a must try in Chicago was the famous Deep Dish Stuffed Pizza at Giordano's World Famous Stuffed Pizza.
I walk there and Giordano had already a bunch of people queuing up. I had to stand for about 30 minutes to try the famous pizza.
I had a great meal of cheese, tomatos, mushrooms and a really thick pizza. It was wasn't like amazing, but it was good. Good enough for me to save myself from hunger.:)