Monday, May 22, 2017

21st May

Finally, on the last day of EPL season 2016/17, Liverpool finishes 4th, thus qualifying for next season’s Champions League. It’s only the second time in 8 years, that we have qualified. Last season we finished 8th (and lost the UEFA Cup Final to Seville).
I grew up watching Liverpool challenging in the Champions League, especially during the Benitez reign. Thankfully with Klopp, we finally have someone who is talented and proven like Benitez. I like reflect football in real life. An example would be it has finite time and duration - a game is 90 minutes, and this is similar to our daily life, be it doing a project, preparing for an exam or planning a holiday. At times this season, Liverpool weren’t able to either kill-off (weaker) opponents, or even to score against them. The Anfield game against Southampton a few weeks back, that ended nil-nil was an example. You can’t blame Milner for missing the penalty, as you had 1.5 hours to score a goal. The Anfield games against Swansea and Bournemouth, which I sat and watched at Anfield Road wasn’t spectacular at all. All these missteps contributed to the hype for the final day fixture, with Arsenal looking poise to pounce for 4th place in-lieu of Liverpool.
In fact, though watching online, I could feel the anxiety of the stadium, with news coming in from the Emirates about how efficient Arsenal was scoring goals. Thankfully, Wijnaldum scored a rocket just before half time, which totally changed the half time team talk and the stadium atmosphere. After the break, with 2 more quick goals, Liverpool were playing more relaxed, and less tensed. You could see the players were showing skills, and weren’t too disappointed when chances go astray.  
Of course, finishing 4th isn’t something to celebrate. It’s more of a commended progress made. You don’t normally achieve overnight success like Leicester.  
I feel this is the same with things we do in life. Take preparing for a paper in university. You have the whole semester to understand and digest subjects. If you can’t at least grasp the courses during the 11 weeks, what makes you think you unlock it during study week? For instance, 10 weeks was given to conduct a feasibility study of wind turbine construction. The recommendation or final report should’ve been out 1 week before the dateline. Or, if you are given a tasks to develop a sensor-prototype, which has a 9-month timeline, it makes no sense to spend 2/3 of the time scratching the surface.
Thus, I have learned not to be too concerned and insistent, especially on group work or group projects which I have no power to influence. It makes me look stupid at times. I will play my utmost part, and that’s it. I have come to believe that not all cultures are the same, and that my principles may only sound legit in where I am from.
Living in a foreign land, I have get accustomed to the role of the backseat. Ideas aren’t accepted, though it’s blatantly obvious.  
Most students indeed do last minute work. Some are pretty good churning out work at the death, and most of them get away anyhow. Maybe, people here are more process-oriented, rather than being outcome-based. And there was also an irking realization of the marking schemes of essays and ‘assignments’. Essays can be so vague and distorted, but still be valued from a lecturer’s point of view. Maybe these students have more critical thinking and analyzing skills. However, when it comes to exams, there is no favoritism or helping hand. You either know the topic, or you are dead. Everyone has a week of preparation, and 2 solid hours with our brains. The papers are crossed-marked by 2 lecturers. That’s why, I am grateful that there is still exams around. If not, my MSc. transcript will most probably be an eyesore. Exams are still the best way to gauge an engineering subject, especially when you have assignments being marked with our names on the front cover. Assignments are basically writing skills with the internet and books as reference. I thought Power Systems 4 was a challenging but doable paper. I can’t see how you could train a power systems engineer merely on assignments and essay. It was also a very very interesting subject.   
To do well in exams requires strategy and preparation, just like any football match. You have 90 minutes to perform, and once it’s over, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
It’s been 2 weeks since my last paper. I am reading well into ASEAN history, on people like Wiranto, Said Zahari and the Communist insurgency in Malaya from a British soldier's perspective. Interesting insights. Looks like it will be a pleasant summer with these books from the University Library. I hope to read on Pol Pot, Charles de Gaulle, Ho Chi Minh and Gorbachev. To read critically, I notice these books aren’t published in the host country. For example, Said Zahari, a political prisoner in Singapore for 17 years, published his book in KL.

The family is coming to town in a week’s time. As we grow older, family time together becomes more valuable. We will spend a few days in the highlands, catch a flight to Belfast, and then tour Edinburgh and Glasgow. Hopefully, they will enjoy the holiday. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

9th May

So my housemate gleefully showed me the military parade in the Red Square, Moscow. 72 years today, the Russian army defeated the enemy during WW2.
Today is also a meaningful day for me. I just completed Power Systems 4 exam, my last paper for the semester. It was really a pleasure learning from Dr M E F, who, as a guest lecturer from GCU, is most probably one of the best power lecturers in town. It was wonderful relearning power systems, fault current analysis, controls and generators. It’s the perfect postgraduate subject for someone from a power station.
Right after the exam, I headed to the library, and grabbed 2 books on South East Asia history (taboo in respective societies). Finally, the time has come to do some leisure reading.
Summer will be really exciting. I will have all the time in the world to the things I like, bar dissertation project, biosensor electronics and being a part time warden at the hostel. There are many seminars and workshops lining up.
The family is coming to at the end of the month, and I am looking at a short trip to Dubai in July (not sure if I could stand the heat).
There was no better way to end your semester with a bright and shining Glaswegian sun.
I’ve worked hard, and it feels good to have given my best shot.

The weather has been fantastic lately!

Like what Jurgen Klopp said after the Southampton game last Sunday, it’s not the end of the world. We should always continue working hard, and smart. 

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