Monday, April 17, 2017

Mid April

Can you believe it’s mid-April? Where did time went?
It’s also Easter. Happy Easter Holidays!
Today marks the end of spring break, a 2-week break after last days of classes. I mostly spent my time learning Arduino, a microcontroller for the SensUs competition, which is scheduled in September in Eindhoven. A team of university students developing a Biosensor seems like a tall order, considering not everyone is putting in 100%, be it due to constraint and limitation of time, commitment or ability. I sometimes wonder if the hours spent in the lab at Rankine Level 8 is well-spent. 
I attended a 3-day workshop on Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) organised by Adam Smith Business School last week. It’s a Western scientific skill to influence and network. I feel that most of the elements are practiced in the East, but not as quantified. 
I would call it realistic psychology-networking skills. There are a few takeaway points:
-          - Deliverying powerful presentation
-          - Reading social situations
-          - Building rapport (mutual trust)

The first skill is to ‘match’ your counterpart. You could act and speak alike, following the pace, mimicking her/him. Humans are with energy, and you need to send and reflect it. We have 3 brains: The cognitive mind (divided into conscious and unconscious mind) and the sematic (our stomach brain / instinct). It is important to communicate with our counterpart’s 3 brains.
We will also have to understand a counterpart’s sensing preference, which is divided into audio, visual and kinesthetic. Most people are visual and/or kinesthetic.  
And there is a point on managing challenging people. Actually, the challenging thing is the inability of me to build rapport. It was interesting to meet students from around the world. A few friends concurred that NLP was at times unrealistic, and that at times, you need to fight fire with fire. I feel there’s some Buddhism and Confucius in NLD.  
Key NLP Principles are:
-          - You choose and control your own attitude. No one could make me angry. I make myself angry.
-          - Take responsibility of your results.
-          - There is no failure, just feedback.

In a nutshell, I think NLP encourages us to always be positive, or to always look for positives in a challenging situation, and to leave things in good terms. Make more friends, rather than enemies, because you never know what the future holds.
Overall, David Potter gave us a wonderful 3 day workshop.

Although I slipped off on Day 2 to catch Liverpool’s home game against Bournemouth.
I had to come, because I have never sat at the Kop End - Didn't manage to seat anyway
Only seating down during Half-time Break 
Still a fantastic but tiring experience at the Kop

During the week, Hiew was in town for a day-trip from Dundee. And I had the pleasure to for a free-ride. It was good to catch up with old friends. He’s also a friend I met through IET, 10 years ago, when we were still undergrads. How time has passed, but friends still remain. I remember the days we went over to UCSI for Transmitter Hunts and they came to Uniten for BBQ Night Out. 
It reminds me that nothing beats having sincerity and pleasant relationships with people around us. 
Vincent Van Gogh's at Kelvingrove Museum
That's my uni
George's Square
The statue in front of the Museum of Modern Art - The traffic cones wouldn't disappear! 
I admit I wasn’t productive for the past 2 weeks. Some pitiful revision on Power Systems 4 doesn’t look promising. I had just downloaded Past Year Exams for Energy Storage and Energy from Waste. And I have just realised the challenge of engineering exams! It's always a tall order, and I would need to start doing the hard work now.
End of May, my family is coming to town! As of now, I have completed all accommodation and logistics booking. We will have a road trip to Isle of Skye, tour around Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow in 12 days. Hopefully the folks back home will enjoy.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

End of March

Spent an unproductive day writing on Combustion, Gasification, Pyrolysis and Anaerobic Digestion. Slightly after dinner, Lancaster University’s Aurora Watch showed Red Alert for 8pm (never seen Red before), which got me jumping off my seat in excitement. At 9pm, it was Orange Alert, which is still highly probable. I immediately started charging my phone and camera, and by 9.30pm, was out on the streets, walking towards Western Necropolis. It’s facing north, and has a view across the horizon. A 40 min brisk walk came to naught, as the intensity dropped to ‘Yellow’. Still it was a chance worth taking. Besides, it was a nice weather for a late walk.

2 weekends ago, I was in Manchester and Liverpool for the weekend. Traveled down with a fellow Chevener from Vietnam - Binh. We had bumped into ShengJi's place for a Saturday night. Had a nice dinner at Pearl City, Manchester. Fantastic Malaysian cuisine. 
Old Trafford
The next day, we went to Liverpool, and visited Albert Dock. Personally, I highly recommend the Merseyside Maritime Museum, especially the Slave Museum Section.  

Free admission
Customary fish with curry outside Anfield
Liverpool played Burnley, and it was a game we barely scrapped through.
Coutinho's form hasn't been the same since his injury

Had a productive weekend though. The YPCC team, 21 of us, met at Teacher Building, Glasgow. It feels weird attending a YPCC meeting without long any flights, which means it’s really comfortable for me. The weather was great throughout the weekend. Discussions were great, while the team is growing in size and workloads. Saturday night’s dinner at Sapporo was terrific.
Last Saturday, it’s also when all clocks are changed to British Summer Time. It’s been around 2 weeks, where the day is visibly longer, where the sun rises by 6.30am. Just now, the sun set at 8.30pm. Summer is finally here!
Working hard
I am happy with the Ice-breaker 
Sapporo Glasgow, and met a Malaysian part time student there
The semester is also coming to an end (1 more assignment for Energy from Waste to go). March didn’t disappoint, with a balance of ups and downs. At times, group work were a pain, as different cultures, backgrounds and ideas make progress agonizingly slow. Being someone of 积极,and dislike last minute work, I learned how to be less 倔强. Well, it’s partly because I can’t control what is beyond my control anyway. It’s a shame, because I always wanted to produce quality work. Anything work doing is anything worth doing well.
April will be an interesting month. Final exam will start on the 28th, and ends on the 9th of May. There will be 2 weeks of spring break from now onwards. I suppose most of my time will be to have a wee look at the summer project, SensUs project and maybe starting some revision. 

Finally, people in the park

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


So it's Monday, and as I was walking to class, like everyday, passing-by Glasgow Botanical Garden, the first thing I noticed were the sprouting flowers, or daffodils on the green. This made my day. Looks like the "darkest days" may be over.

Well, the wind has been extra strong lately.

After months of winter, it's so refreshing and motivating to see life on the ground
Lately, I also made some nice food. Like what Bear Grylls always say - To eat is to motivate. 
All time favourite
Had an invitation from our Chinese neighbour
Had a visit from our sponsor - Cheerful counterpart
After class, I made a hike to Taggart Glasgow, to get some Land Rover parts for my mentor.  
Passed by what looked like a Boys' Brigade building, but there were no signs of people
I entered the showroom of Jaguars and Land Rovers rather confidently. 
I wonder how's the sales
 But to be pointed to a small room in the backyard.

Seems like the parts in Malaysia cost 3 times the price year, after factoring FOREX and DHL delivery!!!
A fortnight ago, my team and I made a field trip to Whitelee Wind Farm, and part of Campsi Fell (almost reached Stirling!). It was a fantastic experience. Being a power plant person, and learning about wind turbines and sustainable energy in Glasgow is enlightening.
There are > 200 wind turbines at Whitelee
Group 3
Local residence - Do not disturb them
Finally getting up close with these fur-ly friends
Major datelines are in a month's time. March will be exciting. I am catching Liverpool vs Burnley on the second weekend, and there's YPCC Meeting, in Glasgow! Hope the team will enjoy the stay. Hopefully the weather will be fantastic.

I am most probably half way through my UK adventure, and I am going to put in more effort.

I feel that success is for the taking, if I could continue working hard

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Less-Exciting and Challenging Times

Now is the most demanding period of my UK adventure.
The last 2 days were draining. Tomorrow will be another long day, while Friday will be a tough 3-hour engineering master-class. Thankfully, the morning class of Power System 4 is cancelled. Some much needed breathing space.
Yesterday evening, I was totally drained-out with the biosensor team. It’s been a long time since I felt lost in a group discussion. There was a moment where I was caught switched-off when my friends needed my input. Joining the biosensor competition was to move out of my comfort zone. How often do you get into a university team and develop a biosensor to sense the probability of heart attack? Working along side a team of doctors, medical engineers, and some students which I don't even know what courses is interesting. But like any voluntary group work, team dynamics and leadership is vital. We're currently still looking for our footing, but thankfully, it's taking shape.
It’ll require all my electronics skills (something I’ll need to re-discover after like 6 years).
Truth is, without Chevening, I could still be in my overall maintaining switchgears, transformers and generators in Singapore.
I think the whole point of coming back to Uni is to challenge myself, and it’s gonna worth every effort giving my best.
After the bio-filled discussion, I went for some quick groceries at Tesco Byres Road. It was almost 8pm by then. And guess what, I left my debit card at the self-check counter. To be this blur and inattentive is rare. (I didn’t know that after some 24 hours later.)
This morning, had Energy Storage class, with lots of Pumped Hydro Energy Storage schemes. Managed to hop by the Career Fair at GUU, and talked to an interesting power engineer from UK Power Networks (who do distribution). All are graduate schemes of 2 years, which I am eligible.
Had Power Systems lab at 2-4pm. Totally lost my bearings without my reliable Casio 570. My younger classmates are so much sharper and quicker. Simple maths are obvious, and I have total confidence in mine. But it just didn’t worked at times. Maybe at 30, it does makes a difference?

My birthday cake last month
Caught up with the Integrated Team for some group meeting for tomorrow’s presentation. Thank goodness for Cal and team, as I am not required to do the presentation. Left Uni at 5.15pm with Mart for the IET Talk on Tidal and Wave Energy at Teacher Building from 6pm-7.15pm. It was a full-house attendance, without the customary sandwich dinner (some technical error). I conclude that tidal and wave will need significant time, cash and effort to be what wind is today.
Before taking the subway back, I dropped by Tesco St. Enoch for some sweet potatoes and onions, and it was then I discovered that my bank card wasn’t with me. Pretty much suspected that I left it at Tesco Byres Street. So I calmly took the Subway back to Hillhead, and retrieve my bank card from the service counter. This only happens in the UK. 
Teacher Building
I am normally sharp and alert, but this 2 days has been really energy sapping, both mentally and physically. But I am relishing the challenge.
Maybe I had slacked a little in Singapore. I used to be really busy
It’s do or die till the end of April. And I am confident I could handle the expectations and pressure.
I just need the weekend to come earlier, and focus on the tasks in hand.
I don’t get how some friends can party and drink so often (they must be really smart and efficient). Most of my Cheveners mates found out that the grades here isn’t what was expected. It’s actually quite hard to score well. I think everyone lowered the targets.  

Lastly, it seems like I am the only PE in Malaysia that wasn't aware that the registration needs to be renewed yearly before 31st January. To be honest, I hadn't receive my certificate, and it's slightly cruel to fine me RM1.2k for the late renewal. Let's see how the appeal goes.

If there's one thing I learned in the UK, it's that life isn't always fair, and hard work may not necessary pay (immediately). But we should never give up, because when we give up, all is lost. Glad to know C&I essay turned out better.

Looking forward to better days ahead. (Need to complete 5 essays by 24th March!!!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


So my wonderful winter holiday has come to an end. It was a fantastic 3 weeks. I did only things that I like and am passionate about. After submitting the Creativity and Innovation assignment on the 16th of Dec, I really had, for once, a total, sumptuous and fruitful holiday. It was a perfect end to 2016.
First, I headed off to Portugal on the 17th, and came back on the 24th. Lisbon was a fantastic place to visit, with 500 years of culture and history. Faro was a nice town mimicking Melaka. It was low season, winter, but still, I had a full 6 days of sunshine. I also made friends during the travels. It was a fantastic learning experience.

Lisbon would be in my list of top 3 
And the sunset at Faro is one of the best I've seen
History, culture and legacy of the Portuguese 
Cabo da Roca - The most western end of continental Europe

After spending Christmas chilling indoors, I joined the Herriot-Watt gang for a 3-day road trip into the highlands of Scotland. Though it’s not the first time I see snow, or highlands, being to Nepal and Jiu Zai Gou in China, it still had me in awe. The Vauxhall car was a nice ride. Acceleration can be improved though.
Loch Ness
On New Year’s Eve, I went to Anfield, to see Liverpool beat Manchester City. The Main Stand Upper, a new expansion of the stadium, had a magnificent view. After the game, I went to Manchester for a count down, and bump into SJ’s cosy house. 
Finally, a game at Anfield
Nice fireworks in Manchester for New Year
On the second day of the year, I made a trip to Western Necropolis, to search for Sir William’s grave. The founder of the Boys’ Brigade is buried in one of the thousands of graves there. I need to thank my housemate for walking 40 minutes with me, apparently to film it. Unfortunately, the entire Glasgow was still in a shut down since New Year’s Day. Without any officers (I called Glasgow City Council, and they were off), we left. This year is the 60th Anniversary of 1st JB Company, which I joined at the age of 13. Congratulations 1st JB. You are one of the best education I could ask for growing up. One of the reasons I chose Glasgow is because of you.
I most of the week reading, arranging photographs, watching documentaries…
And suddenly, it’s 9th of January again. But this time, it’s year 2017, and I am 30.
It still feels weird, and it is vital to admit, it’s something different. I think it’s a milestone in life. A guy who reaches 30, should be a man, no longer a ‘boy’. I think I was really fortunate to enjoy my life thus far, being extremely lucky in various occasions, to travel, meeting mentors and making fantastic friends. For that, I am grateful.
I am not someone who makes resolutions, or bold targets in life. More of a ‘tried my best and let’s see what happens’ type. Somethings go well, others not so.
Last year this time, I just started my job in Singapore, and went thru some patchy periods of life.
Today, I am most probably living the time of my life. I know dreams do end, and we will eventually wake up, and face more downs than ups. But I am ready, and know where to summon the extra strength when the going gets tougher. 
9th of January is also the ‘declared’ birthdate for dad. It seems no one knows when he was born. He once said old people don’t tell you when you were born, so you won’t need to celebrate your birthday. I admit, it’s a day you feel peculiar and strange, as you were always celebrated on this day. Out of 365 days, you get some attention on this day.
Today was also the first day of Semester 2. Finally, a lecture on power system. Man I miss engineering classes. Hopefully, I could get some good scores this semester. 3 months of hard work ahead for me.  
Time to work hard again.
I am not the most emotional or sentimental of beings. But I still do appreciate and value genuine and sincere people around me, though I may not express explicitly. I know those who care, and I am glad to have you all.
Thanks for the best wishes. Have great year ahead.