And Then You Teach

05 September 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News, Teaching
 

When you were a child, you always imagined - no, been compelled to believe - that life is a series of consequent acts that scales up as you experience it. You would expect pieces of your future would fall into place like a linear jigsaw puzzle that solves itself as you grow older.

For example if you started out as a young technician perhaps you would advance into becoming an engineer and perhaps end your professional career as a top level manager or even a CEO of an engineering consultant firm. But on the other hand here I am at 43 and my jigsaw puzzle consists of a collection of discarded pieces from a hundred totally different puzzles.

Throughout my four decades (plus change) of life I have been a extremely short-lived manufacturer and seller of bookmarks, a helicopter technician, a translation company executive, an IT company marketer, a freelance writer, a research assistant, a freelance proofreader, a children books' illustrator, an IT executive, a freelance illustrator, an avionics company techincal manager, a graphic designer, a university translator, a comic artist, a photographer and a language instructor.

Two things: Firstly, my professional life is apparently a series of unfortunate, unconnected, unresolved events, much like a number of the RPG campaigns I have run. And secondly, two of the jobs in the list above are a lie as I have never worked in any of these two job titles. Can you guess which?

Instead of having to ride a bike on a remote road in the early hours of the morning only to face off with a entire family of wild boars once upon a time, I am faced with the following view en route to work now:

Atmospheric, no?

Instead of driving all over town in the middle of the night to get a piece of tech repaired by an engineer who is only in the country for a single night before I had to fly to another country with the tech, I have to meet these humans now and try to teach them stuff:

Pitter patter of... something.

I am still insanely vexed at how I have arrived here, teaching these university students English. Will I succeed? Will I instead produce a new generation of twisted thinkers?

IT'S OVER!

We'll find out if they come for me with a straitjacket before the semester is done.

Update: The report at the end of the first week of teaching has been posted.

 

Return Trip to the Hospital

04 August 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

After the last aborted attempt at FESS at the hospital, I have been waiting for five months for the next scheduled surgery, spraying mometasone furoate up my nose almost daily. Finally it was time to get this pair of nasal polyps out of my sinus cavity.

It should have been an easy in-and-out surgery.

Of course there were complications from all sides.

  • My application for a job as a Language Tutor here was accepted and I had been scheduled to report for duty the day before the surgery. I had to call the right person at work to find out the proper procedure. Thankfully postponing reporting for duty is allowed.
  • The Guarantee Letter (GL) that would allow me to be admitted to the hospital wards under the workplace was rejected by hospital admissions because the printout did not include my pay grade. So we had to pay first for a Second Class Ward. Because I was warded Saturday, I waited for two days before I was able to get them to fax a newer GL.
  • My blood pressure, although it fluctuated up and down, appeared to be on the higher side. (It was the reason why they admitted me two days early: to monitor my blood pressure.)
  • On my second night, I develop a bad cough with a lot of phlegm and its cousin sputum. Their colour over the night was yellow. The anaesthetist who consulted with the ENT department recommended postponing the surgery.
  • Finally, according to the blood taken from me earlier, my white blood cell count was high, probably caused by the infected upper respiratory tract - why I was coughing.
Taman Merdeka at night

The view at night from the Second Class Ward bathroom is nice.

So, I have been discharged for the hospital with no surgery done. More wasted time. I eagerly await the next date of my surgery to remove this polypoidal mucosa.

 

Selamat Hari Raya from the Department

30 June 2016 | Hisham | | Artwork, Recent News
 

Like last year I drew the workplace's Aidilfitri card again!

Click on the cropped picture below to see the full image:

Selamat Hari Raya

Thankfully I did not have to draw every single personnel like last year. Whew.

 

Worn Joints Are Worn

28 April 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

It started as a sore right toe, specifically its joints.

So I went to the doctor. After some questions, the doctor said, "WELCOME TO THE CLUB!" The doctor has the gout. So now I have the gout.

Nothing to do but to consume the meds and control my diet to decrease the pain.

Which I think might be a whole lot better than watching Showgirls.

 

Like Flying Polyps But Not Really

04 March 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

THEN

It was back in early October after Raya Haji vacation when I began to fall ill with fever, coughs and sniffles. I blew my nose at work and sprayed the toilet at the office with a bowl full of blood. That never happened before. I thought that such amount of blood should not be outside of any human body.

The pain was strong and constant. It speared up into the right eye and down into the right side of the mouth. The smell of blood from my nose and mouth was incessant. (My review of Andy Weir's novel The Martian might have been written when I was right in the middle of it as evident from the last paragraph.)

One quick visit to a clinic near home, and a doctor diagnosed just a nosebleed perhaps because of my vigorous nose blowing over the days. A second visit later in the week, and I was referred to the ENT Specialist Clinic at Hospital Tuanku Fauziah.

Endoscopy turned up one nasal polyps. A scheduled CT scan a week later discovered a second polyps. This was escalation. But by this time, I had expectorated a mass of blood and mucus (see end of entry) which had suddenly neutralised whatever that triggered the pain. A steroid spray was bestowed unto me to keep the polyps from flaring up again.

The removal of the polyps one way or another was then scheduled for early March.

NOW

It was now early March, and after 43 years of avoiding it, I finally had to be hospitalised for a major surgery.

I was to undergo a functional endoscopic sinus surgery, followed by a septoplasty - apparently I have a deviated septum and no one noticed over the years.

No Scrubs jokes here - I never watched Scrubs

Atok and Opah visited from Sitiawan to ensure Irfan would be okay at home and ready for school while Ain took care of me overnight in the hospital ward. So on the first day, I registered and I was assigned to a bed. It was a nice bed, but it had no inlaid diagnostic scanners, no automatic expert systems to inject me the right drugs at the right time, no wireless connection so I could access and read whatever medical data it has on me.

Apparently I was expected to just lie on the bed.

But I can't drive this hospital bed around

I had neighbours in nearby beds and later than afternoon Irfan visited me after school along with Ain, Opah and Atok. In the meantime, I spent my time reading the last half of Abbadon's Gate. That evening, after Atok, Opah and Irfan had returned home, it was just Ain and I.

Hospital food was awesome!

Hospital food here was not too bad. I would say I found it somewhat tasty. Who said hospital food was unpalatable? I hope that they had minimised exposure to the Phoebe protomolecules in the food, or my next x-ray scan will be quite mutagenically interesting.

 

Three Structures

24 February 2016 | Hisham | | Artwork, Hishgraphics.com, Recent News
 

It appears that I have upgraded the blog from Pivot 1.4 to PivotX 2.3.11 after many months - no, years - of fretting if the CMS which has been vaporware for quite some time would die on us without warning. It was either get left behind by technology, or to upgrade. Upgrading runs the risk of causing irreparable damage. Especially to the ones and zeros that made up this weblog's flat file database.

Last weekend, I made the plunge.

It took me seven hours plus change just to import the old database to the new and there are still issues to be resolved. For example, the URL of each entry used to be ^blog/pivot/index.php?id=(number). Now their URLs end with ^blog?e=(number).

I need to read up on htaccess code to allow all the multitude of links I have dropped all over the internet over the years to be redirected to their new URLs.

Later.

Now, I think the blog looks great although I see requirements for more tweaks - especially in the template code - in the immediate future.

Finally, here is a picture I drew a month or two ago just to enliven this blog post.

Is that lava or red spotlight?

Three structures in the distance.

 

Happy Birthday to Little Adik

31 December 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Yes, this is RafeHappy birthday, Little Adik who is now four solar years old.

He is quite the loquacious dude on Google Hangouts as the image to the right reveals.

I can't believe he's talking to me using text on the internet these days.

Maybe someday he'll be a writer, if he writes as well as his sister draws!

May he continue to communicate honourably and wisely throughout he future.

Verbally, visually or metatextually.

 

Yet Another Cousin Arrives

24 December 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

After our inaugural viewing of Star Wars The Force Awakens in Alor Setar, Cikma - who was very far along her pregnancy - was admitted to hospital for blood pressure that went through the roof. So first thing the next morning Ain and Irfan travelled to KL by bus to aid Cikma.

But before their bus cruised into the city, young Rania Sumayyah was decantered into this world. Both mother and infant were healthy upon her arrival.

Aunt and cousin, eh? Thankfully it's not Shub-Niggurath

Welcome to this universe, Baby Rania!

I missed The Force Awakens premiere? That's just nuts

Of course, Irfan is happy because he gets to meet with his cousins!

Irfan, Zara and Aiman go nuts at the hospital! No not really...
 

Lost in Translation

30 November 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

We had two weeks to spend in Kuala Lumpur because of my course. Let's get the unpleasantness out of the way first: I had the flu for two days in the first week, then three in the second. It was unpleasant not just because I felt like a popsicle all day but also because it was expensive, but I did not miss a day of class.

During the weekend that marked the midpoint of our adventure in KL, we spend the night at Kak Nor's house where Irfan played to his heart's content with his cousins! On Sunday, I went to continue the Modesty Blazing Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign, picking up where we left off 14 months ago when I still lived in the city.

Ain and Irfan bought a Corellian VCX-100 freighter which I put to good use during the game earlier.

Ghost

So the intensive translation course was pretty outstanding. Not only was it informative and useful to my work but the other attendees were all amazing people from various backgrounds, all coming together to learn the tricks of the translation trade. The instructors were practising translators with a truckload of information which they could recall at will.

The building we were in can see all the way to Taman Seri Rampai.

 

Set Course For The City

20 November 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

And so it was that the workplace booked me on a two week course. The course was to be held back in Kuala Lumpur. You know the city: Irfan's kampung. We drove southbound and spent the night in Sitiawan before continuing on to Kuala Lumpur after a breakfast with Irfan's Atok and Opah.

We stopped at Sekinchan at a restaurant where lunch was to be had on what appeared to be a kotatsu. A novel thing, and it helped that the food was delicious.

We arrived in the city and headed for Cikma's place where we rendezvoused with every sibling of Ain (and their family) where Irfan was reunited with his cousin Aiman once more.

Then after, we headed for the building where the course was held way across town from Cikma's place. Ain had discovered that the place had accomodations for course attendees and they were affordable. Because of a communication mix up among the staff there, we had to wait for someone to let us in through the inner security door which leads to the lift lobby.

But all was resolved soon. 

The best part about the accomodations is that it came with a library! There were loads of books that were translated from Malay to English and vice versa. I was soon to discover that I had not one iota of time to read any of the books because of the course workload.

I really wanted to buy that Epic of Hang Tuah book, which was translated from Hikayat Hang Tuah, but in the end I had to spend on other books. So we will return some day for the Epic of Hang Tuah

The room we were assigned to was very comfortable as the boy is glad to demonstrate for us in the photo below. I found the air conditioning unbearably cold though.

 

Today Is The Day

21 October 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

...when Griff (and Jason Scott Lee too for some reason) gets arrested.

NO PHOTOSHOP! I SCREENCAPPED IT MYSELF!

That is all.

 

15th Anniversary Pizza

15 October 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food, Recent News
 

Fifteen years since we that day Ain and I got married. We've had a number of anniversaries over the fifteen years. Fifteen years of juking and barrel rolling and Tallon rolling and drop kick Koiogran turn just to stay out of reach of blaster bolts from the rear. Sometimes, we would get it and it would hurt because it would mean I failed to keep my family from hurt and harm. Most of the time, we would pull through by the skin of our teeth.

 

This was the first year we celebrate our anniversary without anyone attempting to acquire a target lock on us. It was amazing. I felt like it was the first time I managed to get the ship out of the asteroid field and away from the savage squad of pursuing fighters. We were able to spend some on pizza without worrying about the cost killing us like before.

We spent the evening at Shala Pizza.

I got a little Pizza Supreme pan, while Ain got a burger. I did not get enough pictures because the phone ran out of juice.

Irfan had the one slathered with the BBQ sauce.

Even with the last 15 years of running on spit and chicken wire, with oil dripping from the ceiling and everything one step from breaking down into scrap, we kept on fighting the good fight. And we don't plan on stopping to. I would never have come this far if it were not for Ain at my side.

Love you forever, Ain.

 

The Haze Reaches North

05 October 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

The haze has crept up and enveloped the entire northern region of the country. The last couple of days has been abysmal. Visibility range has been lowered to about 200 metres. Even the night rains failed to scrub the air. Even worse is this cough I am experiencing which started when we went to Kuala Lumpur last month and took a turn for the worse on our way home from Sitiawan after Hari Raya Haji.

I joked once that our family motto is Lepas Satu, Satu. In Kuala Lumpur, after we get out of one crisis, it is customary for an even larger crisis to swamp us. I sincerely hoped that this is not one of those instances, now that we are on the brink of being able to live with a small measure of comfort.

 

Murky Depths of the Haze

15 September 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

It's been some time since I mentioned the haze on this blog. The last time I did it was 10 years ago.

In any case, the haze has returned as it is wont to do year upon year upon year. This time it returned with even more of a vengeance than the last. It's been weeks and the haze does not seem to be going away soon. It cast a murky shade of gray upon everything in Kuala Lumpur during the graduation weekend. The environs of The Mall near the PWTC - now upgraded and renamed Sunway Putra Mall - is thick with the stuff, like heavy mist except for the strong omnipresent smell and taste of smoke.

Maybe I should have just gotten the university to send me my degree by mail.

The day we headed back to Sitiawan, the haze seemed to be even worse. The view below showed how the PLUS Highway looked like upon passing the Jalan Duta toll plaza, heading out of the city.

The view along the LATAR Highway is usually a pleasant shade of green and blue. 

It was apparent that the haze would not let up even as we passed Sungai Besar and approached Perak.

I can't wait to get back to Perlis, which is further north, where the chances of haze-smothering is lower than the rest of the country.

 

A Bit Higher Than College Age

14 September 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 
Needs even moar people that matter in this picture

It is nearly impossible for me to form the words to explain and describe the experience of graduating from college with a Bachelor Degree in English Studies at age 42, on top of the multitude of experiences positive and negative I underwent in the last 25 years or so. I know I prefer to harp on the negative, but on the whole it has been gratifying. After all is said and done, I guess here and now having the family, friends and tools that I possess is where I am actually supposed to be.

A big thanks to everyone that pushed me in this direction.

 

Hi New New Office

01 September 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

After a week or so of having no office while hardware transportation was being carried out, I have finally moved into the new new office out in the boonies.

yopwaH!

It is a bit warmer than the old new ofice, but I do get fresh air. But only if I open the window. And only if there is no life-choking haze from the evil Malaysian agricorps burning the Indonesian jungles across the strait.

 

Bye Old New Office

14 August 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

This was the office I was assigned to in the last 8 months or so.

Now it has been cleared out - no more books and RPGs on the shelves - as the entire department is moving from town to deep in the boonies.

 

Almost Time for Aidilfitri

14 July 2015 | Hisham | | Artwork, Recent News
 
First we break the shell, then we crack the nut inside

Hari Raya Aidilfitri looms at the end of the week. Ramadhan is almost over.

Last weekend, I was tasked with making a Aidilfitri card at work. As seen in the image above, I am in the card climbing a coconut tree. In fact, everyone in the department is in the card.

Click here to view what everyone else is doing and magnify it for full visibiliy on Google Drive.

 

Betty Was Missing

12 July 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 
Sad rainy day

A month ago, Betty went out for her daily roams and never came back. The neighbours reported not seeing her. She was gone all throughout Ramadhan. We live close to thick tropical-grade underbrush. One possibility is that she might have come afoul of local wildlife - and I don't mean squirrels. After three weeks, I had accepted that we would never see her or hear her little mewlings again.

For weeks only Comel, the neighbour's cat, hung around about the house. Here she is trying to persuade me to let her drive us to town. Well, not without a valid driver's licence, missy.

 

But on Sunday, while Irfan was playing with Comel's owners from next door, his classmate came a-visiting bringing with him Betty!

Thanks to Irfan's sustained crowdsourcing efforts and detailed descriptions, his friend from school recognized Betty's markings and her collar at a housing area half a mile away! At first she was somewhat reserved, but ultimately she went back to her old self, napping in her old shoebox.

 

She also still enjoys car rides!

We are overjoyed by her return! 

 

What? A Nasyid?

09 July 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Way, way out from the left field comes a blog post about nasyid. I was assigned to sing in the department's nasyid group for an interdepartmental nasyid competition despite not having to sing in public since 1987.

Here is a screen capture of a video of our singing, which is linked below.

Oh noes disturbing the peace

We took a team photo after our performance.

Ain took the video, some photos and lent her support. The team ended up at fifth place out of twenty, which meant that my unholy, discord screeches were not strong enough to pull the team down.

Check out the video of the team's performance here. After 15 years of ekeing out a meagre living in the city, I am now starting to live in stranger - more enjoyable times.