Sunday, March 01, 2015

A Reminder of Responsibility and Good Habits

I had recently chanced upon this rather old article: What pushes scientists to lie? The disturbing but familiar story of Haruko Obokata

For those working in the Science field, especially those working on stem cells, the case of Haruko Obokata should be a familiar thing, for it was getting a lot of attention for the whole of 2014, from the publishing of Stap cells to retraction to investigation to the unfolding of the truth, which is now still on-going. This whole incident, costs several's career, many lab's research direction, integrity of science community and life of a scientist. 

However, I did not plan to direct my points in reference to this case alone since it was not a closed case yet. 

Many of us may be familiar with the mysterious chicken cell experiment scandal. That was one of the bigger ones that shook the scientific community involved because it was dragged for so many decades. 

All in all, these news and incidents, served well as a reminder for those of us who are working in the Science field - well, actually it applied to any other field, the role we play when we are pursuing our career and dreams. We should be aware of the responsibility we shoulder as we do the research, knowing that even though many of what we were doing may go into silence in the end of the day, but one could never know which part of it would be a keystone to other's research, or developed into something important and useful for the world. And when that happen, the truthfulness and the organizig of your research and data would be crucial to provide a solid research and platform. In this case, integrity was very important and the ethics of a researcher was inevitable.

Second point which I gathered, which would be useful to anyone of us, especially for me when I just started my path in Science, was the mindfulness and cultivating of a good habit. There may be lots of stories of how untidy a scientist's table could be or how the log books were always not as 'printed'. But, to do good Science, you must be concised, know what you're doing, organized and where things are - period. This might not come in natural to many, but if we are mindful about it, we could slowly cultivate the habit and it would lead to good character and research planning. This, in my opinion, not only applies to scientists, but many parts of our lives. It is true that tables and desk could be hidden under piles of papers and stuff after some time, but in my opinion, clutters are not the source of creativity or 'smart'. Most of the time, clutters are the result of people concentrating on their work so intensely, hence their result of wonderful work. Therefore, this one do really serves as a good reminder for me, to be organized when conducting my experiments and do good science.

All these are my two-pence worth of thought, from a person who are not very old, or wise, or very experienced. So, I apologize if any of these points were not well thought or written and I welcome opinions and suggestions.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Indonesia-Penang Trip XIII

2 June 2014

A Roadside Stall, A Cathedral and A Marketplace

After visiting the temples at a remote area, the drive went on to a more lived area with houses and market. We had our short snack at this roadside stall. After days of testing our GI system, Fanny finally reckoned that we might be strong enough to experience some real roadside food! So we went to this stretch of little stalls, which were no different from Malaysia's except most of them were covered with flies. It was a bit worrying but one has to try!

We were introduced one of the local favourite: jeruk. In Malaysia, jeruk meant fruits marinated or pickled to be sweet or sour. But here, it is actually a kind of citrus, or orange, with green coloured skin but really orangey flesh. Here is the stall owner preparing the drinks for us. Their specialty was to prepare the drink with coconut flesh at the same time.

In case you wondered, the beverage looked like this. It is very refreshing, with sweetness and a tiny tint of citrusy sourness. The coconut blend its milky sensation with it and resulted in a surprisingly tasty texture and taste. I will definitely miss this refreshment for a while.

On top of the menu, we had sate kelinci. Now, kelinci meant rabbit in Indonesian. So far, rabbits or hares that we ate in Malaysia were usually farm-bred, and I believed this one was hunted. The meat texture was definitely leaner and springy compared to the one in Malaysia. Perhaps it was more of a familiarity bias, I kind of prefer my hometown's rabbit meat. But still, worth a try.

This is our favourite dish at that stall, porridge. We were expecting a normal bowl of porridge, or at most, a Malay-style porridge, whatever that means. But what we ate proved us otherwise. It was fragrant and crunchy with the peanuts. The combination made porridge no longer a boring food.

In case you wonder, this is how the peanuts looked like. It was roasted so nicely that it was crunchy, not oily.

On top of those, mi bakso was ordered. When it is called Bakso, it almost always meant beefballs, so I did not manage to taste this due to my dietary limit. However, we did get to taste SioMai but a different kind. This one was not much preferred by our taste though.

We took our waiting time to actually examine the sauce bottles on the table, if only we practice such mindfulness to our daily life.

After the meal, we took a stroll back to the car while observing the few stalls near the one we had food. They sell different kinds of snacks, keropok and even onion-like plants that were lined at the bottom of their stalls. This was interesting as it reminded me of how Cold Storage selling herb plants...

Our transport was parked just outside of this cathedral, hence, we popped in for a visit.

The garden area was lined with statues along the path, depicting the story of Jesus. They were amazing as they should. We had a little exercise with the walk and had a little chat, which was wonderful for a trip like this.

After the cathedral, we walked further out into the main street to witness a local life kind of scenery. We passed by a house with this dog, which was heterochromatic. And, we passed by several stalls selling tempeh, one of the most prominent staple in Indonesia.

Alas, we stopped by a market place. It was not filled with people, probably because it was already quite late. We were very attracted by what we found there, really red and pretty little pumpkins...

And if you have noticed, these really dinosaur-green (not really a word) avocado. These were different avocados than those we've seen in Malaysia and Singapore markets. They were hugh, for first; and they tasted different, more buttery. What's more was that these were eaten when they were still this green, instead of brown-ish for those we had encountered.

Not surprisingly, us being us, we posed with the fruits, too excited to meet those lovely interesting fruits.

This is me, posing... with mini pomelos. I don't really fancy the taste, but I fancy the colours.

The Mak Cik was very kind to cut open some of the fruits to let us try. She must have been laughing at how tourists like us being so knowledge-less about local fruits. In the end, we did bought some from her...

In the same street of the market, there were some reared birds, in cages of course. they were quite pretty, but since I was not a bird enthusiast (at the moment), I know them as bird A, bird B and bird C. Thank you.

And so, on the way, I got a pair of flip-flop to replace my poor sandals. This was my first flip-flop and it was going to give me a kind of adventure for the next few days...

Thursday, February 05, 2015

What Does It Mean by 'I'm Fasting Facebook'?

Time flies, people. It was now first week of February, yes, one month just passed by. You may have completed a project; or wrote a book; or sang a song; or won a game; or had a yawn; no matter how much things you had done, it was one month used. 

One of the few things I did in January was fasting Facebook. Not that I hate Facebook, or was planning to stage a raging war against it, I simply had a few reasons that drove me to this motivation.

First, let me explain what it meant by fasting Facebook. In fact, it was not a total social media shutdown. What happened was, instead of swiping my phone and open the Facebook app, I will pause and ask myself if that action was necessary and beneficial, what was the purpose of my action. This did not apply to Facebook only, but to all of my social media app. 

Social media, in my opinion, was not just a trend or icon during our generation. It represented our social behaviour and was meant to help us improve our civilization. Hence, I felt a responsibility to not abuse such wonderful creation but to make full use and be a responsible netizen. There are so many useful and constructive things you could do through social media: spread good things, teach interesting information and connect with people upon important and handy subjects. 

However, one must be careful of the side effects of social media too. To me, it should not be a place for me to boast about myself and get some virtual recognition, which probably meant nothing in real. It should not be a place where I spend my time, just because I did not think through what I should be doing at that very moment. It should not be an excuse to ignore my friend's conversation over a gathering. And it certainly should not be a pillar, for me to rely my life on.

I, myself, was a person who was not very well equipped with social skill. My survival rate in the real world, would not have stand a chance at all. And it was really tempting, to dive into virtual world, because it was easier to talk to people that way, it was less scary to 'be' with a person, it was way more convenient to send things in text rather than requiring myself to talk, plus I could avoid all the eye contact, as much as I could. Trust me, this part of social media, was one of the stronger appeals to me. And I was there once, when I was in my teen. I was glad I passed through that stage, sometimes lamenting of the time I wasted on it - but again, without those period of time, I might not have realized the emptiness of all these.

Therefore, in this new year and coming years or whenever, I decided to be mindful over my usage of social media. I've even return to one of the app which I did not touch previously, Instagram. To fast is not to avoid, but to accept it with grace and with mind and will power, practising conscientiousness over it. I hope I would at least give it a try and make this work, and I hope you enjoy my little thoughts on this.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Indonesia-Penang Trip XII

1st and 2nd of June 2014

Supper, Rice Dumplings and Temple

That very night, we visited a supper house place. We get to enjoy a few local treats, which were rather sweet. This is pisang goreng, but topped with chocolate rice and condensed milk. Yes, this is how most of the sweet treat in Indonesia taste like.

This is my long-awaited IndoMie! Although the way they cooked it was not as I expected, it was still very nice, plus I can request for an egg on top of it. Nice!

Fanny had this dish, which she kindly shared. It was baked/roasted corn with condensed milk. Compared to our usual steamed corn, this is drier but with added sweetness from the condensed milk. It was a different kind of corn taste.

That day, we checked into our staying place in Bandung: Hotel Nyland Pasteur. It was a convenient hotel in the middle of the town with quite good service, except there's no elevator - but that doesn't matter because there was only a few stories. Beside the hotel, was this quite large river or canal which was just next to several other houses. So you can see how the walls were built to secure the foundation.

The very next day was actually Dumpling Day on lunar calendar. Our tour guide, Lucky, brought us these Bandung rice dumplings which his mother made. It was interesting because I didn't know this culture flow so far south, but anyway, the dumplings are different. These were a bit more plain with a little flavouring and meat in the middle of normal rice as opposed of glutinous rice used in most part of Malaysia. I would say the rice texture felt a bit like nyonya rice dumpling but the filling was different. My comment, this kind of dumpling can really fill your tummy.

The very next day, we continued our journey around Bandung. First off, we visited a temple, or rather, a collection of temples. It was a place where different types of Buddhist temples were located together. The place was high up and cool, with mystical mode like this photo:

Outside were these carvings of Buddha. Different kind of buddha according to different branch of Buddhism...

There were these golden coloured statues too...

And here is a more familiar kind where you see Chinese word. Yes, this is a more-chinese kind of temple where there was Guanyin inside. My most impressed part was this temple being very calm and cool and comfortable. I got my fair chance of sitting and chilling in the temple, though I was not sure if that was rude or not. I take it as a my quiet time with the temple...

Not to forget, this cockerel which followed us for quite a good part of our trip...

There were many familiar ones and also one with a row of Buddha in his different poses, each represented different stages of his enlightenment and meaning.

And we spent some time doing this fortune thing. You are to choose a cup and keep dropping the coin into several buddhist singing bowls situated around the temple, one each. And by the time you finished the last, you were to calculate how much you've left and get a piece of fortune paper from the counter for some wise advise. The nice part was that this fortune paper was unlike most others where they really tell of your fortune. Instead, it contained general wisdom which you should look out for in your life, which, in my opinion, was much more useful and subtle.

More group photos...

Not to mention, the good part about having so many different kind of temples together was the opportunity to witness different kind of art, based on the same religion, and their interpretations...

Look at this lovely dandelion!

We did spend some time around these two white elephants. Well, not the 'white elephant' but literal white coloured elephant statues holding the Dhama wheel. 

So, we decided to take a group photo in between these white elephants, literally.

Group photo again...

I would say that my knowledge was limited and hence there might be a lot of things there which I had missed or did not understand. Nonetheless, it was a great visit...

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