Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One step at time.

On Monday, couple of weeks ago, I did some experiments. I remembered it was two or three separate experiments I did that day. One after another, I found myself frustrated looking at the results. All my hard work from the previous week were in vain. If you must know, normally scientific experiments don't just take a day. It's normally a build up of small procedures of many days, before you get the final result, say after 3-4 days. So yeah, how can you not get frustrated after knowing on the 4th day that your experiment is worth nothing? Technically it doesn't worth nothing because we must hold the principle 'negative results are also results!' But still, I can't help but feel a bit down.

Then the next day I sat with my supervisor to discuss my results. She pointed what could have gone wrong and how I can improve my experiment. We also planned what experiments I should do for that whole week. Before I left her room, she asked me, 'Are you happy?' I answered nonchalantly, 'Yes, at least for this week -__-.' Then she said something that struck me, 'Sometimes it takes a week at a time'. 

Alhamdulillah, the next few days everything worked out fine, not excellent but fine. I managed to get decent results, enough to get me going. Her words can never be more true. I can't expect to get all good results. It's normal to find a glitch in carrying out experiments. That's what research is all about; it's not about getting excellent results all the time so that you can publish them *it's GREAT if yours turn out to be excellent ALL.THE.TIME*, but it's also learning from your mistake and improving/correcting them so you won't do the same thing the next time. I should be fine, I will be fine, InsyALLAH.

As a last note, I'd like to dedicate this song to myself *boleh ke camtu? haha* and also to others who are struggling in whatever you guys are doing. Remember, sometimes it takes one step a time.

Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you've always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste
But you just can't touch

You wanna show the world, but no one knows your name yet
Wonder when and where and how you're gonna make it
You know you can if you get the chance
In your face as the door keeps slamming
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting

We live and we learn to take
One step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It's gonna happen when it's
Supposed to happen and we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time

You believe and you doubt
You're confused, you got it all figured out
Everything that you always wished for
Could be yours, should be yours, would be yours
If they only knew

You wanna show the world, but no one knows your name yet
Wonder when and where and how you're gonna make it
You know you can if you get the chance
In your face as the door keeps slamming
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting

When you can't wait any longer
But there's no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It's your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time

Monday, January 23, 2012

Imam dan makmum.

I found this quote on Facebook, and it's so interesting I have to share it.

'Seharusnya lelaki tidak harus meletakkan piawaian yang terlalu tinggi untuk calonnya. Kerana jika IMANnya hebat, maka dia akan memimpin dengan baik, tidak kira siapa pun yang akan menjadi makmumnya. 

Yang harus cerewet adalah wanita. Kerana dia sedang memilih calon IMAMnya. Dan sudah pasti, dia mahukan calon Imam yang mampu membimbing dengan baik. Kerana memilih bakal Imam, lebih penting dari memilih bakal Makmum.'

Friday, January 20, 2012

Go green!

My weekly planner.
Also experimental plans, calculations etc.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's cookin'? - Ep 7


Lama pulak tak buat entry pasal makan. Dah lama tak cuba resipi baru :P

So, presenting to you......

Baked Penne Pasta with Mushroom

You need:

Penne pasta
Butter/Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese
Some thyme leaves


1. Melt butter in a pan (or you can opt to using olive oil instead, I used both in this recipe :P)
2. Saute garlic till golden
3. Add mushroom (I used chestnut mushroom. The more variety of mushroom you add the better)
4. Add thyme leaves
5. Cook until mushroom is tender
6. Add cream (or you can use milk instead, just cook a little longer till it thickens)
7. Add salt and pepper to taste
8. Then add al dente cooked pasta. Mix well.
9. Transfer half of the pasta into a baking dish
10. Sprinkle cheese
11. Add another layer of pasta and finally top with cheese (if you have breadcrumbs, add it at the top)
12. Bake until the top layer is golden 

Simple yet delicious!
*puji diri sendiri kejap*

Happy trying folks!

Friday, January 13, 2012

PhD Journey:The first three months


So it's been three months since I embarked on my journey to the west (no, not that Chinese TV show). I thought I'd share my experience so far.

1. I get a lot of 'Don't you have class today?' from people. No, I don't have classes at all. However it varies for people from different field. My friend doing PhD in Business has to attend classes like undergrads and she has assignments too! I go to my lab/office on a daily basis to do my lab work or on some days, I just go to read journals, plan future experiments and go on Facebook. I try to come 9-5 everyday, just like an average working person. PhD students share a room, have their own desks and like my school, they provide laptops to us students. This, again, varies from school to school. Ada yang dapat bilik sendiri, ada yang dapat desktop but not laptop.

2. No more assignments, and the best of all, no more exams yo!! Occasionally I have to do presentations and once a year, there'll be assessment to see if I could proceed to the next year of research. 

3. For these first three months, I started doing some small assays/experiments in the lab. Most of the time it's optimization experiments, where I optimize conditions for my experiment before I do the actual one. Agak-agak boleh faham tak? Huhu. For example, now I'm working with T-lymphocytes, so I optimized my Western Blot conditions i.e. how many cells to put in each lane to get a good visible band, transfer time, blocking time yada yada yada. Maaf orang luar bidang sains, harap boleh faham ye.

4. Here comes the not-so-interesting part - literature review! It's endless I tell you. When you read one journal article, it leads you to the next one, then the next one, then the next one it takes forever. One day you read about one particular topic, and suddenly while reading an article, you get a Eureka! moment and the next thing you know, you are on Google Scholar looking for another paper from a different topic. Well that's part of learning. You have to do a lot of reading in scientific research. Nak tahu background pasal your project, then nak tahu methods apa orang pakai, nak cari ways to improve the methods and the list goes on and on. My project revolves on these three things - T-lymphocytes, monoclonal antibodies, and glycolipid. Immunology kahwin dengan Biochemistry. Baru dua discipline dah berjuta nak kena baca, macam manalah orang yang buat multidisciplines tu.

5. Also, since I'm not super busy, I chose to attend as many short courses as possible. These short courses are organized either by the Graduate School or the library. So far I've attended Endnote course, some Microsoft Office courses, and some research methods courses. There are so many to choose from: statistics, presentation skills, academic writing skills, lab safety, language skills (they even have pronunciation class) etc. Some courses are pretty basic, like some of the Office courses I attended. However, I picked up some little tricks that I have never known before, like how to 'Enter' in the same cell for Microsoft Excel (LOL). My ex-boss is a Microsoft Office 'guru'. Man, that guy is like an Office expert. Serba tahu pasal features in Word and Excel. Sebab tu lah jugak I attend all these courses, I wanna be a 'guru' like him. Hehe.

I guess that's all for now. Now I'm entering my fourth month (ceh macam pregnant pulak, now entering second trimester haha), I need to be more proactive in terms of my lab work, have to plan and execute the plan, get all the small questions answered that'll eventually lead me to answer bigger questions. 

My first year assessment will be in June, hopefully everything will go smooth and silky

Permudahkanlah, Ya Allah!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two thousand twelve: R&R

No no, it's not Rehat dan Rawat.
It's Reflections and Resolutions.

Biasalah awal-awal tahun semua pun nak post pasal the year that has gone and the new year that has come.  Myself included. It's a good way for me to start writing again for I have forgotten how writing in here is actually a good mental therapy.

2011 was a pretty good year to me.

1. Started off with getting the offer letter from USM in December 2010 and spent three months after that looking for universities and PhD projects.

2. Resigned from my job at the most appropriate time in June and helped Mama with her business in July and August.

3. Embarked on my PhD journey at Nottingham in September.

4. Got my first nephew just last week.

5. Went through a series of heartaches *ayat nak gempak je kau*. Crushed on someone, and got crashed later.

6. Strengthen the bond with my girls.

7. Found new love. *ihiks*

On my way back to Nottingham from Birmingham Airport last weekend, I was looking at my nephew's picture on Facebook and then it hit me, how instant our lives can change, how time flies. I still remember the moment when my sister broke the news to me about her being pregnant, and now she's given birth to the cute lil boy named Raaid Riffqy. Then I reflect on how not grateful I am for all the good things that Allah has given me. I always complained to Mama that I don't have this and that. When I heard the news of someone getting married or having a baby I couldn't help being a little envious. I forgot that Allah has given me rezeki in another form. It might not be a life partner or a baby, but I am here halfway across the globe away from my family, doing my doctorate degree. Who knows those people whom I am envious of wish to be in my shoes right now. Manusia memang tak pernah puas. 'Grass is always greener on the other side' lah konon. I pray that I will be contented with what I have now and leave it to Allah to do the rest. Amin. Belajar bersyukur dengan apa yang ada, rezeki orang lain lain.

So for 2012, my resolutions would be..

1. To get married. 
Kidding! Baru je cakap biar Allah do the rest. Hehe. Actually it was in plan 4 years ago. My ex and I got together on 12.12.06 so we being 'gatal' planned to get married on 12.12.12 *sungguh tak matang*. Now dah tak jadi apa, bila fikir balik lawak lah pulak. After all 12.12.12 is on Wednesday, siapa nak datang majlis kau nyah?? But tell me siapa yang couple but not think about marrying that person, kan?  *Bila check calendar, sah tahun ni ramai orang kawin on 10.11.12 sebab hari Sabtu. Selamat pengantin baru in advanced lah ye!*

2. To be more disciplined. 
Doing a PhD is not merely about doing a novel research, writing that thick dissertation and attaining that 'Dr' title at the end. It is also about learning about yourself - how you manage time, plan your work, work-life balance, how to manage stress etc. I must admit I'm struggling with time management. Since there's no punch card or whatever system in placed, I could come and leave anytime I want. All this while, the one thing that keep me on the track is 'the stare and the mouth'. You know when you come in late, people give you this look macam you buat salah terbesar di dunia and when you leave early, you bump into someone and he/she would say, 'Is it 5 already?' Like seriously? But thanks to those people at least I try to come before 10 and leave after 4.30 :P But seriously I should and must do better than that so that I will finish on time, and reunited with my loved ones at the end of 2014. Amin.

I guess that's the only resolution for this year. Other than that it's same old same old, no need for a new year to be a better daughter, sister, aunt *this is new*, friend, and most importantly, a better Muslim. :)

Let's hold on to each other when the going gets tough, shall we?

Happy new year, everyone!