Friday, 28 December 2012


i wonder, if that which makes us invincible is not related to health...

... or wisdom...

... or wealth...

... or beauty...

... but arrogance, and selfishness, and inconsideration, and callousness. then would it not be simple to live in each moment, and extend that moment to an infinity, because as soon as the next comes along, we will have lived all there is to live of that prior moment? and therefore, the sum of all these moments is a definition of forever, that makes us invincible.

but this is an oversimplification, one that many choose to live with, where there is a more elegant (if somewhat more effort-laden) way of invincibility - that which requires the fondness of another, and of one's own.

but life is too short to seek eternal in the most sophisticated ways! so let us rejoice that immortality is just another construct. much like kinship or love or inner peace or competence.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

distraught draught

dilly-dally, dilly-dally,
daily subroutines;
the one who sicks when socks are off and eats salty saltines.

wishy-washy, wishy-washy,
willing all the time;
that random assonances will perchance end up in rhyme.

so distraught, this dapper dude, disposed of with despair,
that one might think there's nothing left to tinker with up there;
not 'bove his head! but in it's stead, with solemn, sultry meat,
of what he thinks, no, nothing else, but sickly sorrow sweet.

sit sipping sixpence worth of sap, or spirit, cider'd sleet,
intoxicating his last breath, indeed in need of heat;
though of that naught, and not too soon! this naughty nincompoop,
inebriated to last breath, and doing loop-the-loop.

in mind, in soul, in body, too, makes silly boys worries,
for fishing with foul female wiles, for fscking fantasies!
but coyly coated christmas trees, made cuter with cutpurse,
emotional - not coin or dew - ends up not care'd done worse.

pitter-patter, pitter patter,
petty monsoon rains,
which wish away with willowed wanes these ache'd and wicked pains.

for all to see, and none to know, the tired curse of court,
this dapper man sits in his words and sips the distraught draught.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

closing censure

for the longest time, i had held a fire, through rain and snow and darkest hour. but that the fire had long faded was oblivious to my eyes, so blinded with contention and hope.

but today, i have set my torch to the ground, and asked of it the whys and wherefores of its existence. knowing now that it has long since died, and an eternal flame is something to be won, not sought, i must start again in the search of that monumental turning point - man's discovery of fire (only this time, i hope it is not tainted with a stench odour and sickly blaze).

but not yet.
maybe the french will know of it?
maybe the americans?
but maybe, one day, it will be known by me.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

promethed land

we are all so lonely in a world so populous. until we meet the halves we were split from at creation, the ones we were destined to be with for an eternity and a day. or so the greeks would have us believe.

where has gone the everlasting virtue of affection and love? all has died except for the transience of lust and the temperamental nature of fancies.

pandora has succeeded, and all of women are knives and knaves. prometheus has failed, and all of men are imperfect and disgusting. and to laugh? is zeus, for he has squandered away the woman from which his dethroner is born, in a mythical place, for no man is worthy to seed him, and no woman is true enough to bear him. and that place is more sacred than all zion and makkah and holy lands abound - it is the one promised to nobody at all - the promethed land.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

mentera semerah padi

the incantation of semerah padi9

hey! let flow the embodiment of kersani1 steel,
that becomes mercury2,
and fills the veins of my haunch3,
that i may stand,
steadfast and dignified,
as a malayan warrior4 of old.

hey! ten pieces of betel leaves5,
that i clench together with,
cloves that beget you6,
thick sanguine blood,
that fills my veins,
that i may stride,
steadfast and dignified,
like a rooster that crows7.

wherever i may roam,
is where i settle and call home,
as long as i may ardour a task,
i shall perform to the best of my abilities8.

quoted in malay:

mentera semerah padi

Hei! kersani mengalir lah dikau
Menjadi raksa
Mengisi belikat punggungku
Agar aku bisa berdiri
Tegap dan segak
Bagaikan laksmana Melayu

Hei! sepuluh helai daun sirih
Ku gentas bersama
Bunga cengkih jadilah dikau
Darah merah pekat
Mengisi uratku
Agar bisa aku berlangkah
Gagah dan tampan
Bagaikan sijantan yang berkokok

Di mana bumi ku pijak
Di situ langit ku junjung
Alang-alang menyeluk pekasam
Biar sampai ke pangkal lengan

Aku seru mentera pusakaku
Mentera semerah padi 

translation notes:

1. kersani is one of those words that gets lost in translation. there is no specific word for it in english, much like how the eskimos have handfuls of words which translate into the same word, 'snow'. except that kersani in itself does not mean anything, but is somewhat an adverb to describe a type of metal that is commonly associated with malay rituals to strengthen themselves for battle, or to ward of dangers or curses. i am not entirely certain what metals or metalloids would come under the categorisation of kersani, but it seems to be more related to the 'spirit' and 'appearance' of the metal than the chemical composition.

2. to have a metal become mercury is an odd thing, even for song lyrics. i can only assume that this reference is not to mercury in itself, but the nature of a mercurial substance - fluid but congealing, possibly silvery, giving the impression of strength and endurance. i am more inclined to use the word mercurial, but the literal meaning is lost.

3. 'belikat punggungku' is a phrase hard to translate. belikat in itself, again, has no meaning, but can be taken to mean the substance, or a vein, or even an artery; while punggung literally means buttocks. the previous lines lead into this sentence, where a metal is used to imbue the writer with superhuman strength or fortitude, the metal in itself becoming part of the writer by flowing through his veins. additionally, the reference to his posterior goes on to lead into the next few sentences about being able to stand, and to be steadfast in the writer's task.

4. laksamana is actually a specific rank in the old malaccan empire, roughly translating to the position of admiral. however, i felt this unfit, as the stature of the writer is more a common warrior or even a conscript defending his lands rather than an admiral leading the ranks of a fleet. in addition, the term bagaikan indicates this a simile, hence a more figurative translation is more relevant than a literal one.

5. besides the fact that there is no specific collective noun for leaves (unfortunate, that if it were something else, i would be able to write, 'ten leaves of xyz'), i would point out the relevance of betel nuts in the malay culture. quite possibly a traditional centrepiece brought to malacca by the indians via trade, the nuts and leaves of the betel tree are commonplace amongst the elderly, where they are chewed for a distinctive taste, and for the red dye (though i have no inkling as to why you would want to dye your teeth red). in traditional weddings, it was once a symbolic 'offering', though i see this happening less and less, and is possibly now a dead cultural remnant, at least amongst the more modernised malays. interestingly enough, it is not featured at all in the indian wedding ceremonies (at least none of the ones i have attended).

6. it is uncommon to associate cloves with betel, the former being a mainstay in malay cooking. however, i have observed the elderly to chew cloves on their own (and having tried, the bitter taste is too strong for my buds). more commonly, cloves are one of the 'empat beradik' (literally, four siblings) of spices used in pretty much every malay dish - cloves (bunga cengkih), star of anise (bunga lawang), cinnamon (sticks) (kayu manis, literally 'sweet[ly] sticks'), and cardamom pods (buah pelaga). in addition, the following words of 'jadilah dikau' is an interesting choice. it would appear to mean 'to make you' or 'make yourself', but that has neither figurative nor literal meaning in the text. i only presume the writer to mean that he makes of the spices, and incorporates it by ritual into his own, hence granting himself powers similar to that thereof the kersani steel from earlier.

7. again, possibly inherited from hindu roots, the rooster is symbolic of strength, iridescence, the sun, and a plethora of other similar traits. animism being a mainstay of hinduism (though not a defining or even particularly prominent feature of the religion), has been adulterated with culture and other religions to form a melting pot of references which may still reflect their origins, or have taken on new meanings relevant to the malays during the malaccan empire (at this time, being predominantly islam).

8. the final verse is composed of two peribahasa or proverbs in malay:

'di mana bumi kupijak, di situ langit kujunjung' literally means, where i may step, there is where i uphold the sky. it refers to the life of a nomad, who calls home wherever he has to, wherever his travels brings him.

'alang-alang menyeluk perkasam, bar sampai ke pangkal lengan' literally means as long as (i am) delving hands into perkasam (which is a type of preserved or pickled fish), (i) may as well do so till i am elbow-deep in it. i never really understood this, for who would want to put their hands into such a thing? but we were all taught at an early age that this is to mean that, if you do something, you might as well do it right.

9. initially i was having trouble translating the title, for i wanted it to be near perfect in literal and figurative meaning. mentera and padi are easy to translate, respectively meaning 'incantation' and 'rice' / 'paddy'. however, 'sermerah' caught me off guard. i had thought it to mean relating to the hue of red, or 'as red as'. however, with a little research, it seems that 'semerah padi' is actually a place in indonesia (thank you film by p. ramlee).

p/s: i started off with this rough translation because this song is both literally and symbolically an epitome of malaysian literature and song. i know full well that i have not done the song and its writer (m nasir) any justice in my translation, but i figure, if am to even try to integrate some of my heritage in this blog, it might as well be something that i am damn well proud of. more iterations or even similar entries in the future, i hope!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

only in fiction

fact and fiction are detached, and for good reason. life never plays out like a storybook or a movie, particularly if they're good ones. life is all about the inconsistencies and flaws, shortcomings and caveats. more importantly, life is about how we deal with those things, and make life work anyway. a story, no matter how well written, is only as good as the ending, which is, though not always predictable, scripted and complete. the book never ends randomly, or without indication, and this stereotyping of a book is what gives us control over it, even as a reader - something entirely absent from living life.

when you read the last chapter of a book, you may not know how it will end, but you know it will, and therefore you can prepare for completion, closure, and even in the possibility of a cliffhanger leading on to another book, sit back and know for sure, that this is it. this is fulfilment. this is absolution. this is reward.

in life, nothing is so predictable. nothing is so comforting as a 'known'. and best of all, even the best arranged plans can still end in disaster, just the same way that the most ill-defined ones can end in an infinity of (undeserved) boons.

i like to draw parallelisms with love and rezki. or more accurately, i like to draw upon these themes and relate them in parallel to life. of my favourite books, these examples embody the hypocrisy of the themes, and i choose love here if only because i have been so besotted once that i can only justify its absence with a righteous self torture that would exalt me to the status of the heroic men that have love and lost, which is better than never to have loved at all:

1. severus snape. to have loved lilly potter, having barely known her - and to have sacrificed his all, to ensure that even the shadow of her existence is preserved, in the form of harry; even if this meant he would have to let live a shadow of james, who so undeservedly won lilly's heart. this perpetuates a common incidence in life - that all the jameses will go on to win the lillys, though them have been terrible douchebags in the very least of words, and all the snapes will fade into non-existence, some of which will harbour, cultivate and cherish their adoration for the women of all women, even and particularly to their deathbeds. i honour you, severus, your undeserved death and unrequited love, your unsung sacrifices and unknown hardships. i honour you, severus, especially if you hold that flame more dear than your own happiness, to the day that all is revealed, and your lilly? she doesn't even give a whim for your own, by not being able to, or not wanting to at all.

2. florentino ariza. to have fallen, and have one fall for you, even in the most smattering of existences, is your true reward, in bliss and in pain. i apologise that i cannot exalt you to the stature of severus, even if you had been more a fool for romance, even if you had never raised your hand in such contempt and unbestowed harshness; for you have been a hypocrite that has confessed to an unyielding love, yet succumbed to the pleasantries of the flesh, with woman and women and more. possibly the worst, though is that even if you were a slave to the temptations of men, and required in the most loose restrictions, a love for the senses, florentino, where has gone that uncapitulated surrender for true and truthful love? where has lived the heart of a true gentleman? where has gone, the singular promise, to yourself? to your heart? to your love, fermina daza? i honour you, florentino, your eventual place in love's embrace after all that is beauty and lustful has died and decayed. but i hate you so, for never having held on in idealism - but maybe that is the lesson to be learnt from and for life, that the book is so great not because of an utopian possibility, but because it has not been.

3. noah calhoun. for someone to have love and lost, it is only customary, even expected, to let go. i would not hold this against you, i would not not love you any less, and so would all the people of the world. but that you had held on - be it for desperation, or inability to move forward, or complacency, or apathy (that you knew you could not find any more). that you held on. that you wanted to hold on. this is your blessing, and your curse. and your reward? is death! sweet, irreversible and without the evil of a countenance in hand. death, and to be followed by your allie, if only in hope, if it was not known to happen, i could only hope for the same. i honour you, noah, for your steadfastness, though it must have been easy to have succeeded from the start. and i envy you, for your blessed rewards, particularly in untimely, but deserved death. i envy you so.

4. romeo montague. to love in a second, or to second for love in a heartbeat; to have your heart beat in love for only a second, or to love one's heart only second to your own's beat - that is all one craves from life, and all that one gives to deserve love. a high order, that not all attain, and for those that do, must have taken for years and decades and eternal lifetimes. but halt, romeo! for you have done this in but a heartbeat. three days! three days! of an immortal love, that transcended life, then feud, then living, then battles, then death. and lived longer in the eyes of men than does a love in some hearts. and must be asked, oh, so stereotypically, not how, but why? and i parse from my own heart, for in it is embedded:

oh, romeo, romeo, wherefore art thou, romeo?
deny thy father, and deny thy name;
or if thou shalt not, be but sworn, my love (and i prefer to paraphrase, be sworn by love),
and i shalt no longer be a capulet.

romance, forsooth! but only in fiction. and never would you find in real life. so, for this, i honour you, romeo, for your devotion and faith, though i grant you stupidity beyond reason that i do not envy in the slightest. but as with noah, i have envied for his demise, so do you, not because it has been also at the hands of your juliet, with poisoned dagger or drunk by hand, but because it has granted you greater gain. truly as starstruck lovers you have come to be, but i beg to differ, that for yours be fiction, my tale of lost love is by far and by worse, a tale of more woe than your love for juliet.

5. majnun. i recount here for the umpteenth time, the story of love that cannot be agreed with - for what love is defined as unreciprocated or even unknown to the other? certainly not a love by this humble's standards. yet, i cannot let this go, for a love that has persisted through a battering and mutilation and adulteration and scorn, and flourished evermore? this is a love i can only hope to attain, one that in desire i feel i have had, but in practice i know nobody can. except only for the most pious for their gods, and the most unbelieving for their logics - and maybe, the most foolish for their own, unknown, stupidity. and, perhaps, that is why love makes us do the most silly of things. but, majnun,

you pass those walls, those walls of layla's house,
and you have kissed them from the outside,
though your love is not for the walls themselves,
but for the one that resides within.

have you not considered, that perhaps, with only a sliver of doubt, that the one who lies beyond those unspoken doors - the one whose beauty surpasses that of angels and queens - maybe, that one does not love you? does not feel for you? does not care? not even in the slightest? i honour you, majnun, but not because of your love, but because you are so blind to disregard the folly of your pursuit. that you would seclude yourself from all reason to let your love blossom. but when layla does not know, so does not her heart, so does not her love, so does not her thoughts. and she is happy, married and have lived, while you carve, desperately, your last three verses of poetry upon her gravestone, as you die yourself. unknown. unrequited. unashamed. and most importantly, unloved.

i regret that five is far too large a number to continue with examples. but know that if i could write more of fiction, i would love to. but fiction, as we have said, is not life. is not reality. and for all the heartstrings that would be twanged for choired notes in love - none will even venture a fancy if any of these were to happen in reality - except the opposite, where one so much in love? in like? is a fool, deserving of nothing more than ridicule and ostracising slander.

and to that, i deserve no different. i apologise for this.

Friday, 2 November 2012

flight of the sin

trifling sins, oh paltry sins, without whom we are gods,
but in their presence even kings may live like vulgar sods;
of course, their faces, dainty, plain, and ugly all at once,
is never shown in mirrors, glass or by their carried stance.

but beauty, oh, you beauteous stray, that prances, pirouettes,
and whirls and twirls to devilled tunes, then sculpting silhouettes;
against a sky, so bright! so blue! with fired passion'd sun,
betraying yet your sinful smile, awaiting for the one.

this nameless beast, that seeks unveiling of a shadow's boon,
but waiting till the ocean's waves come high tide 'fore the noon;
instead, to find that cadenced tune still playing in the breeze,
that makes the world revolve reversed, and hell's over to freeze.

but matters not, for faceless shroud that's used to hide that sin,
which lurks beneath the scaly skin, and haunts the soul within;
oh, banish, thee! to far away! return not till the day,
that death takes hold, from these frail grips, and love has lost its sway.

pretend no more, oh sins of six, or seven - eight if may,
or double that, to sixteen still, that pales to chocolate grey;
revealed, thine face, so scarred and pocked! and marred with no respite,
i'll save you yet, with mind and might, i've not given this fight.

envy? lust? and avarice? with peppered pride to taste,
one's weakness through the quietude, has only beget haste.
forget not, though your acedia, too, that made you apathy,
these masks, of trifling, paltry sins, without whom you are free.

so let those wings of rainbow'd spate, let loose unworried flight,
and maybe, perhaps, fly on home, you'd wish, you'd want, you'd might.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

merry christmas, crying child

this is the story of a crying child. in reality, she did not cry all the time. in fact, she cried twice, maybe thrice for all who can remember, but in this story, the fact that the child cries is why she is the crying child.

it is only a week after her birthday, but christmas is in a month or so. nobody really can remember, because at her age, she has not yet learned to tell the times, and that is all we have to base the story on. one month till christmas, and the crying child asks her father,

'daddy, will i get a present for christmas?' and seeing as she did not get any for her birthday, one would be modest to assume that she would.

'i cannot promise that you will, but if you wait, we'll see,' said dad.

'okay,' smiled the crying child, for though she was yet young, patience is a virtue we can all learn from her.

a week passes, and then a fortnight, when the child has not heard from her father, and now asks her mother,

'mommy, will i get a present for christmas?' and seeing as she had asked now once too many a time, one would be cautious to assume that she still would.

'i cannot promise that you will, but if you wait, you just may,' said mom, and to add, she told the child, 'please ask not again, for it troubles me so that we do not have much money to spend, and you ask it for presents that we cannot promise upon you.'

'okay,' smiled the crying child, for though she was yet accepting, tolerance is a trait we could all do well to learn from her.

soon, christmas came, and went. then new year's eve was to pass. and months on end, till came valentine's day and it faded into near memory, without any present for the crying child. to keep her word, she never did ask of her parents that present, though she hoped very much that they would still gift her something when they could spare. her parents, however, chose to remain silent and feign oblivion and pretend, that if one were to think no present was given by default, then that is the arrangement that all parents have with their children.

not a day sooner, not a day late, the crying child asked her parents together,

'mommy and daddy, i know now that i could not have had a present for christmas. we cannot afford such luxury. but maybe if i am a good girl for another year, a present may be come this year?' her voice trailed off, unsure if question or request. but her parents, they remained silent at this query, to perhaps a deafness only resonant in the child's mind.

a year passes, or at least nearly a year. from the child's perspective, she could not yet tell of the times. a friend, and sister then tells her of what she could not hear and did not see (or possibly chose not to in her little mind):

'my sister, do not falter; my heart, do not cry. know that father and mother have not gifted you for christmas for their money is not theirs to spend.'

'of this, i know,' said the crying child, 'and so i am fine...'

but before she could finish, sister interjected '... then you should also know that their silence is begotten from that they have used what money saved for lavish gifts upon our neighbour - that though you do not know him or of him, there is where you present lies.'

the child, now deserving of the title she hold, cannot come to terms with this betrayal, accepts for what is, and goes to her room. therein, she lies; therein she cries. and till another will present her with whatever she may yet deserve, remains her eyes, her heart, her self.

merry christmas, dear crying child.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

illumina sequencing

kapow. mind blown.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

make today

a walking shade once asked the sun, 'of what is today made?'
and replied none, the sun but shone, as not a heed was paid;
so wandered still, the walking shade, in search of today's own,
until he came to icy chills that suffocate the bone.

though he had none, he thought he did, and so he shuddered so,
but yet he asked, for his answer, against the winds that blow;
'oh, gusty gales, from winter's heart, do you know of today?'
'and what makes it, i now must know, it's secrets that betray...'

before the shade could go on thus, the winds would howled reply,
we'll tell you this, but not until we've traded eye for eye;
'yes, surely so,' now cried the shade, 'whatever that you may,'
'as long as it is mine to give, i must know of today!'

with gleeful stride and sordid smile, the winds requested this:
a half-ounce heart, a one-part soul and then eternal bliss;
'oh, cruel, thee fate! how am i to beget any of those?'
'i'll never know what makes today, not ever, i suppose'.

but maybe in the stead of shade, you've seen the answer now -
what makes today is neither what, or who, or where or how;
and if you think it's made of when, then surely you're wrong too,
what makes today (and evermore) is nothing else but you.

Friday, 12 October 2012

science: then and now

if i have seen farther, it is because i have stood on the shoulders of giants. i believe that's what sir isaac newton said (though i paraphrase because i cannot be bothered to really look it up in detail right now). the caveat of this is that, for the more shoulders to stand on, the larger our range of views. and thence, to see beyond that becomes an infinitesimally more complicated process. exponentially, i should say, but for effect, let's say infinitesimally.

in any case, when i started becoming interested in science, the days were such that an experiment was 'simple and elegant'. hey, let's knock out this gene and see what happens. let's gather a significant number of statistics on an anomaly and see what the maths says. let's try putting x and y in a box for z time, and see what happens in the end. the world was new and exciting and enigmatic, and it was all in discovery to see even the slightest into the dark.

but, i reckon, 50 years from now, the argument will be just as compelling. oh, man, in the 2010's, they had it so easy, experimental design was pretty straightforward. just as how we would compare whichhunting in the dark ages as uncouth and unscientific to todays' methods, so will they with our LHCs and space voyages. i jump in arguments, but i am limited on time.

i suppose, it's all a state of mind - if you are gifted (or lucky) enough to be in the one that fits the age (and this being neither ahead or behind the times), you will be there, at the frontier, a giant of sorts, standing upon others. as for myself? i find that my time would have been in the 80's, possibly 90's. and now, the thrill of science is all too dull and delusioned for me to make much of. i would argue i should have gone into the arts, but we all know where that would end - somewhere unwell like a grotto or in my head.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

we all look back and laugh

a month from now you'll look back, child, and remember the words,
that every thing she said and did would seem just so absurd;
that promises were left unpaid, and words were left unsaid,
and all the things that could have been will then play in your head.

a year from now, where will all this have come and gone and passed?
should you remember still, young one, the dreams you held steadfast?
or will they have diminished, then, to unspoken desire?
and would the memory of wants evoke in you much ire?

a decade now, a ten years passed! would you still linger on?
would you with your rose-tinted shades still have the will don;
them though you've come to hate the very memory of past,
how would you see her then, dear child, will her ideal form last?

a century, a lifetime's worth of minutes, hours and days,
that could have been spent lounging in the sun's warm, hearty rays;
did you, instead, have waste for them, since you could not see clear?
did you forsake yourself, at  most, just thinking then of her?

i would not blame, if you were lulled into a sense of dread,
but know this now, all that you feel is made up in your head;
my little one, remember that you've had good will at heart,
you don't deserve this treatment's end, even if you'd to part.
and either which way comes to be, please hold your creed up high,
and let not her, her wily ways lead your ideals awry;
instead, have faith! utopian child, that you can yet roam free,
know that the grand scheme of things are that what will be, will be.

at least you'll say, a thousand years from now you'd given all, and not the paltry giving of a person half and half,
my child, you've but taken trip, a stumble and a fall, but once you've risen and looked back - you'll do so and you'll laugh!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

the widow's kiss

thou, scheming soul, of haunting lies,
of naked half-truths and foul vies;
who spoke of clear winds and vivid blue seas,
and acre-bound trees,
and honey'd blue bees.

and shadowed hearts! unpredictably wild,
that cannot be loved for even a while;
but sweetly gives scent of amber'd embrace,
that cold doth replace,
that hides with no face.

oh, murderous fiend, how subtle thine blade,
that purity killed in sunspotted shade,
by beaches, by leaves, by decrepit huts,
like deep flowing cuts,
no ifs ands or buts.

but cruel! but soft! but tender and disdain, how could one so light be heartened and vain?
with nothing but whispers in darkened ravines,
thou, scheming soul,
and shadowed heart,
oh, murderous fiend.

Monday, 17 September 2012

first time

for once, i thought of competence, of blatant self-esteem,
a sight for sore and cold-dried eyes, enhanced with a sly gleam;
but, smile, oh dear, that wicked smile, that cunning cheat you use,
and sway this heart a million whiles, and wiles, a wildly ruse.

and silence plead, in silence plead, worse than how this heart bled,
for knowing that your wound is worse, unless it's in your head;
for once, i thought deserving that i would, i could for more,
that all stopped short of turning up and begging at your door.

for one more chance, for once i hoped, i would and may find heart,
that feeds, and stops my poetry, though ever we're apart;
i never prayed for silly whims, i never played for empty wants,
for once, i'd wait for days and years, for moments and for months.

and all i did, for if you may, had asked was all i'd wish,
but voiced it none, my dearest one, oh, fragile hearted kiss;
an ode! a line! oh, matters not, for one, for two, for all,
i swore you this, again i do, from gracious leap and fall.

for once, i'd seen the callous soul, that frigid, lifeless heart, that sings behind a veiled blind smile, which quenches with a rhyme -
for once, i'd thought, that maybe love, that even though apart, that this would be the only once, the last and for first time.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

expiry date

i have been conducting more experiments on inducing bacteriophages in Moraxella catarrhalis recently. for those who find these words a bit outlandish, the theory isn't all that complicated - M. catarrhalis, or how we'll abbreviate it to for now, is a bacteria. though any bacteriologist (or biologist) will point out quickly, not all bacteria are bad for you, this one pretty much is. it causes a range of diseases, most notably ear infections (otitis media) in children, and lung infections (pneumonia) in the elderly. a bacteriophage is a virus that 'eats' the bacteria (phage being latin for 'to eat') in the sense that the virus infects the bacteria, and causes the bacteria to explode (the technical term is 'lyse') somewhere down the line. in essence, the bacteriophages (or phages, in short), infect bacteria the same way bacteria infect humans, the relationship being parasitic in nature.

induction here means i am trying to get the phages to lyse by manipulating the defence system. i've done this simply by exposing my to low concentrations of an antibiotic called mitomycin c. anyway, the whole idea is that under specific conditions, i can cause this induction to occur, and the phages will run rampant, something like if you were to shower your friends with flu virus, then take away their immune system. then hope the flu virus becomes so prevalent in the population that you can randomly pick a section of air and have enough virus in it to do whatever further experiments you want with the sample. not that i'm saying one would want to do such a thing to friends. but i'm just saying. sometimes.

in any case, the induction process was supposed to get me a high concentration of phage. but, as with all trials and tribulations of this world, science is no exempt. today, i have conducted a series of sub-experiments in order to determine what had gone wrong. kind of like how a computer technician troubleshoots or debugs codes. i think.

my conclusion thusfar it that i have been using samples of that have been kept in the 4C room too long. i find this rather... unsettling. that for the thousands of procedural and technical complexities of the experiment, my problem may have been simply that my samples had gone stale. this is both elegant and simple. but, there is more troubleshooting to be done, and only time will tell if occam's razor has struck once again! oh, thee, blade that cuts me deep.

Monday, 3 September 2012


when we were younger, the elder folk used to tell us that it's the simple things in life that are most enjoyable; that money doesn't buy happiness, and that if you learn to enjoy the mundanity in what chaotic lives we live in, everything seems relatively okay. what makes you get up in the mornings, and drive down to some god-awful job? is it so banal as paying the bills, or filling the days, or putting bread on the table? or could it be something simple as the figurative smelling of roses (or a literal in figurative saying, the smelling of coffee?). even the most majestic of reasons sometimes fall under this category, from a love one to religion (or at least religiousness) to dollar bills to that sweet retirement home in madagascar, something small and simple that keeps us toiling through the days.

i cannot attest to anything too grand, and for this i apologise. but, life is a constant detriment of ease and simplicities, so one must always try his very best to find the little enjoyments that make the stress of the world that much more manageable. of recent, here are a few things that do such:

1) keeping an empty bottle of peanut butter open on my reading desk at dawn, so that when i come home, the room smells amazing.

2) reserving the last piece in a block of amazing chocolate and keeping it stashed away in my work desk until i forget about it, only to serendipitously discover it while i'm stressed doing work. this is not really recommended if you're living in an area that's particularly hot / has an ant problem / etc.

3) reading just a bit in a foreign language every day, such that one day if i meet a greek person on the bus, i at least have something to say. maybe a german or a sri lankan, too.

4) sleeping in. this is amazing. sometimes i take the day off just because i can. i'm a horrible person that way.

5) chasing the little ducks around the pond until they can't waddle any more. they need the exercise. i nearly got in trouble the other day because mommy duck came to snip at my toes. i reckon this isn't much fun for the ducklings or the mother, but there is no malicious intent. i don't scare them too much. i think. i hope?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

it pains me

it pains me to see you torture yourself so indefinitely, where the answer is laid before you so plainly. i only pray that you see this before it is too late, that everything that you write, i have empathised with, have been through, am willing to suffer and bear with if you would let.

and i write in your style that you may see, that maybe, two people are not so different after all.

Monday, 20 August 2012

assumed birthright

what gives us the right to anything? to physiological needs, to psychological ones, to personal and interpersonal ones? what gives us the right to happiness? and what makes one more deserving than another?

how can one write or speak or contemplate and think, of happiness and self-actualisation and love and hope, when there are those whose most extreme of concerns is surviving the next day, or hour, or minute? when in mortal danger and with life against its odds, would we think of happiness and contention, or just making it through the current ordeal?

which begets, that if you (or i) worry about the most mundane of worries, as a broken heart or a dullness to the mind, or a lack of extravagance to life, then truly, we must be blessed for everything that is threatening and dire has already been sorted such that they no longer bother us.

indeed, how can anyone of any problem not fathom anything that is worse? and so, of presumed love, or lust, or monotonous hate - of bickering and of jealousy and vanity and fate - how can one worry so much about so inconsequential? we have all fallen victim to overlooking priorities, even those who are at the deepest end of forsaken. unless we are faced with death, or anything worse. which then begs the definition of what is worse than death? maybe, to some, to all, those things which we have just mentioned? and thence negating the argument?

maybe, we assume too much, that being in this world entitles us to things - many things - that others think leisurely and frivolous. what gives us the right to anything?

what gave me the impression that i was ever entitled, beyond that i am already blessed?

p/s: existentialism is such a humbling tool, i am glad that if all else fails, i still have it, particularly upon my deathbed.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

op ed

opinion pieces are the most frivolous and meaningless of the lot, because in this day and age, everyone has something to say but just like this sentence, nothing worth saying is said and nothing said is actually worth much, if anything at all.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

growing with curves

in the laboratory where i do my post-graduate, i am currently doing a series of experiments which involves generating growth curves for certain bacterial strains. this involves growing an overnight culture of the strains and then coming in early the next morning to start a 14 to 20 hour experiment that basically ends with enough time for me to come home, sleep, and if the next day is allocated for another set of growth curves, repeat the whole process again. now, i'm not complaining, because as tedious as it sounds, i do take a couple hours off to have dinner (i don't do lunch, though), and in all honesty, i only have to take hourly readings from a growing sample of bacteria. the time between is allocated for other things, such as reading up on the experiments, planning future ones, studying bioinformatics and doing the chores around the lab. all of these are not too taxing, except for the reading parts, which can become quite the headache, especially if left to accumulate.

however, it is unfortunate that, i always find a few hours' worth of time that i find free, and my mind strays to things that i want to do for leisure instead - blogging, reading a few books that lay dormant now upon my desk at home, and various other things - and i always find that my motivation is at an all-time low. it's easy to create excuses - blogging has become lacklustre in absence of a (my) muse. reading is all too redundant when it reminds me of work. and i find myself wanting to do something different. something other than watch a movie or a tv series, or play a game (which i find boring except for when i have lots of work to do, when suddenly pacman is the most exciting thing in existence).

i sigh for my lack of sleep, and i sigh even more for my lack of focus.

in any case, this is not a rant post, but a brief re-introduction for me back to blogging, which i can and will hopefully be able to indulge in more often once my growth curves are done (although, knowing how postgraduates work, i have no reason to believe the workload will get any lighter). additionally, it may be influential that it is a holy month of sorts as of now, and being the superficially pious person i am, i am trying to adhere to certain religious rituals and customs that i might normally not make time for. and once the month is done... i guess that leaves me more time to do other things, even though i shouldn't? who can tell.

hopefully i write of growth curves tomorrow - a sign that my mettle is not as fickle as my focus.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

equal or lesser than

when we're feeling vulnerable due to a failure, we often generalise to make it easier to feel sympathetic for ourselves. failed a job interview? down with corporate oligopolies. pay being cut? government choking the people. got dumped? men/women are all the same. couldn't break that high score? damn lag. always. and the other guy was cheating.

it's a natural response, but it takes someone outside the scene to look into the situations when all is going well, and try to answer the hard-hitting questions.

so when all is being neutral, look upon your neighbour, your father, your daughter, your cat and your anonymous brother in arms. and ask yourself, is he really the face of everyone? or is individualism the new, unblamable hypocricy?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

scientific breakthrough

the buzz word around the hipster science world right now is 'higgs boson'. or for the less scientifically articulate, 'god particle'. in 2004, when i was studying medicine, drudging through the lifelessness of physiology, anatomy and biochemistry, i would often escape into the elegance and beauty of physics, and one thing that caught my mind so enthrallingly was the large hadron collider and its postulated results. it is so unfortunate that now, when i hear so many people talk about these things which i used to struggle with (and still do, to a large extent, for i am not a physicist), i enquire to find that they have only a superficial, media-scraping mastery of the subject. which is to say, they know nothing at all, and just throw around obfuscating terms to seem intelligent.

as such, i have forgone the interest in striking a conversation relating to the higgs boson. when someone talks about it, i feign ignorance, all the while face-palming in my head at their lack of knowledge, and once they have talked of their (little) understanding of the field, they will have no choice but to change subjects. and therein lies sweet relief!

yes, i am being a nerdy elitist here. why? because these people deserve not to be acknowledged as 'smart' for being able to use google and hitchhike the latest trends. why? because ingenuity and the amazement that is science is only defaced and scarred by their hipster attempts to be cool (for nerdy is apparently the new cool). why? because the world does not revolve around being superficial, especially when you try to emphasise otherwise.


because if you really believed that i was ranting on about a scientific advancement that everyone has a right to see and feel and know and debate...

then you are missing the point.

that i am ranting because it is the only thing that i can understand.

because i don't understand you.

Monday, 16 July 2012

pictures i like

i stood in front of a gathering once. a class, if you may. and in my mind i imagined a simple picture. i told everyone, 'draw a picture with a tree'.
'a house, and an orange sunset, and birds upon the horizon.
'in it, there should be no persons, and no complexities of technology like cars and computers and phones.
'and be done in an hour'.

so, we all set out to draw, myself included.

of course, none of the pictures were the same. some were prettier than others. some were more vibrant, some were more memorable. but they were all essentially from the same idea. and this encompasses what is perception. we remember, and we see and feel and know of the important things. the big things. the momentous ones. but in between, we fill the blanks however we want. and there is so much room for artistic license that we often get carried away - that what someone fills in with a lake or a shade or the colour blue, another may have the total opposite (if there are opposites for those things).

and this has been my problem for so long.

p/s: i hate falling in like. it makes you vulnerable to the weirdest, most unreasonable things. and for me, letting go is impossible. it's been so many years. ten to be exact, maybe slightly more. and i still cannot imagine how i came here to be this way, but i still think that the future is devoid. how i hate this. and from it how i hate myself for it. though the painter is to blame for his drawing, maybe it is the person who seeded the idea who is to blame for it being an existence in the first place?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

he wrote

he wrote for lengthy abstinence,
he wrote for futures sought;
he wrote for future reference,
and did so without thought.

so dazzled are our common wits, to prance at rainbow suns,
and speak with narwhal and fox kits, and play with perfect puns;
but little do you know the rhyme behind a darkened sill,
to decipher such obtuse signs requires more than will.

beyond the door that locks itself, beyond the wind billowed,
a creature lurks that no-one cares for except for those that bode
well for themselves and for others, with intent pure as ice,
but, then, you see, in itself is this one's unruly vice.

because to write is not to have a creature to have read,
you'll notice it much simpler to eat loaves of garlic bread;
but -mmm- that smells so very nice, like oranges, you say?
what kind of spell is this, pray tell! that might, that would, that may?

that june and july, and august, too, and september, why not?
a writer can have writer's block, a reader can leave rot
so terrible a writing i must say can only source,
from desperation and from care, from like and from dull force;
you see, again, this is all much, too much for one so frail,
that even is a trouble for iridescent narwhale,
and silly sops, like wily wops, that care little for truth;
in fact, such arbitrary tales are vulgar and uncouth.

so, why, my man, why did he write? what did he seek to see?
i cannot tell for anything, not for the life of me!
but maybe God can shine and bless and all those fancy tries,
if one deserves to like, to lust, for -oh my, i smell french fries!-

now where was i, i've lost my thought, oh yes! of why he writes...
i cannot say, i may not know, except that wrong he rights.
but who can care? surely not you, nor reader, you or you,
i guess that's that -some ice cream here- and with that we are through!

he wrote for lengthy abstinence,
he wrote for futures sought;
he wrote for future reference,
and did so without thought.

Monday, 25 June 2012

lack thereof

i have not been writing lately, and i do not know why. i still find the time, and i still find things to write about, but i feel a lack of muse; a lack of motivation. is this what is writer's block, i wonder? perhaps it will pass soon, perhaps it never will. perhaps i have outgrown blogging as a past time, but perhaps i am just waiting for an inspiration, an inspirator.

on the backhand, i have finally set down and written a short story, which is hopefully on the lines that will draw towards me writing that novel i always wanted to. i wonder if i send it in (the short story), will it be worthy of publishing? it is crude and awkward and entirely detached and unsuitable, but maybe that's where we all start - unrefined and uncouth, until we have made so many mistakes that we arrive at something acceptable as to warrant (in this case) publication.

maybe time will tell, and now i embark upon finishing it! should i post it here, i wonder, chapter by chapter, to compensate for the lack of writing? or should i not bother, and have another draft?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

taming of the shrew

i believe that my life currently is this. but instead of being tamed, the object is doing... elsethings. my heart is dampened, but it is yet not broken. i still have hope for a farcical and meaningless relationship, that it may blossom into something that means more than life itself, but, as i  keep reiterating, the poet jalaluddin al-rumi said:

'to find love, one does not need to search externally for it, but merely dissolve internal barriers that bar its entry'

maybe, in time, this will dawn upon said shrew. but until then, i can only hope for first contact.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

but dove

long life lines in arabesque,
that intertwine and seethe of lust;
a glass of wine upon this desk,
that smells of sweat, of blood, of must.

another cry for help is heard,
but, oh, how placid is this bed;
ignored like filthy, stray blackbird,
do not let it get to your head.

so sing your song, that cheerful tune,
while neighbours die to smoke and flame;
they still gave you the sun, the moon,
and then themselves, they left to blame.

and court!
forget not that they court!
and promised all of life's good will,
with ice and frost they bravely fought,
but fire, comes he now to kill.

another cry for help is seen,
but, damn, these prawns, they taste so good;
ignored like fat, like bone, like lean,
drink that milk like only you could.

but love!
how could you blind such love?
the bitter taste of charcoal becks,
and marred that blackbird was a dove,
now slaughtered, cut above it's neck.

oh, mistake, so i have been told,
it's slaughter not, but sacrifice;
let body remain safe and whole,
the bill? you should not pay this price.

so let the neighbours take it on,
their tab is infinite like stars;
your jacket, sir, do take and don,
and leave in one of your fast cars.

but hope!
this hope, they gave, you too!
a gift so sordid while you part,
that dove died not from blood and dew,
but for you broke its fragile heart.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

foreign comprehension

languages are interesting things. even if one were to understand all the available languages humans have come about, would one really be able to understand the ideas behind written work? language extends beyonds the use of words for conveying ideas. languages are born of thought processes and ideologies, they are tainted with culture and limits of knowledge.

for example, notice how english has an ever-expanding and dynamic vocabulary, whereas, say malay has (relatively) not. or how some languages have feminine and masculine modes. or how japanese speech and grammar and choice of words depends on gender. or how rough the arabic language is, when spoken or written. these are only a handful of examples that i present based on the languages i know, and i'm sure there are a million more peculiarities associated with each and every language, that are attributable to how the language originated, is used, evolved, and is envisioned for the future.

this brings me to my particular dilemma. reading through the list of nobel laureates in literature, i find that, without understanding the native language, and having to rely on english translations, i am lost. i find the works lacklustre and begging for something more than the mere translated words can offer. and it is simple to use the term 'lost in translation', but really, there is something more to that. something i cannot ascribe. the 2011 laureate, tomas transtromer's poem reads, for example:

April and Silence
Spring lies deserted.
The velvet-dark ditch
crawls by my side without reflections.
All that shines
are yellow flowers.
I’m carried in my shadow
like a violin in its black case.
The only thing I want to say
gleams out of reach
like the silver
in a pawnshop.

why are the ideas of reflections and velvet-dark associated with april? is it to do with the fact that it is influenced by scenes in sweden? why shadows during summer, which is more associated (possibly) with the equinox, when shadows are at a minimum? why violins and pawnshops? who can say, really, even if we were presented with a dissection by the author himself. would it make sense?
to me, this poem is lost. i cannot appreciate it, much to my dismay. but i do not hold language responsible. i do not hold the author. and i do not hold the ideas behind his inspiration. 
in comparison, my poetry is simple, and discernible, but i wonder, if anyone read it, would they feel the same? would it be translatable and still lost? and would it even be comparable, in the first place? unlikely, but it is comforting to know that if anyone is responsible, it is myself, instead.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

mon soleil

réveiller, mon soleil,
et de tarir ces larmes,
with time that with space, that with heart will grow farther;
but time is a price that when paid laissez-faire,
is cheap, mon soleil, like this burden i bear.

what freedom is light, when darkness abound?
what paltry is like, till 'nother you've found?
but night is not endless, with dawn breaks the day,
tarir ces larmes,
réveiller mon soleil.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

best. drama. series. ever.

i never really understood relationships. parents and children; boyfriend and girlfriend; husband and wife; etc. even the most basic relationship between friends continues to puzzle me to this day. i think this enlightenment about my lack of knowing came when i first saw an episode of house, where the anti-hero (house) mentions to his best friend (wilson) that friends only exist because of a 'social contract'. i cannot remember the philosophy in its entirety, and the episode probably did not centre around this, but of importance is the concept that we are all predatory beings, and friendships are a mutual benefit, where we invest (emotionally, financially, temporally, and cognitively) in the hopes that one day, when we require cashing - out, that friend is bound by some moral value, or reciprocation, to return the favour. this is why morally bankrupt individuals can exploit the system, like parasites who feed when they need but feel no desire to extend their friendship beyond what is necessary, and some friends would quickly abandon all concept of relationship when the times get tough, or at least the outlook is bleak and there would seem to be no further use of said friendship. of course, even the most optimistic amongst us could argue for the flaws in this idea, but it is an easily-extendible one, that those who see past the simple use of friends are just more patient or play their hands closer to their chests. for posterity, in the episode of house, though he preaches so, house eventually ends up acting above and beyond his ideals, and though he will not admit it, the episode will go on to show that even the cynic in him is soothed by the need for his one real friend.

moving on, as all will quickly question the motif of this post, is the even more complex relationship between partners. most easily described as boyfriend/girlfriend, i am not quick to exclude boyfriend/boyfriend and the various variants of vagary-inducing relationships. semantics and generalisations aside, i cannot fathom the need for this, but let us pen it down to being 'human nature' - the need for another so special that (s)he / it warrants a whole new set of rules and relationship dynamics. having myself reached but failed to grasp any semblance of this, i cannot begin to explain the concepts that apply, but, just like the 'social contract' idea between friends, i would imagine that this rule does not yet break. but i am wrong. apparently.

in its simplest, i would hope that the very basis of friendships holds true (first and foremost) in a budding 'love' relationship; that the portends of mishap may be reason to abandon ship, but otherwise, we tread cautiously and hope that the increasing value of investment does not creep up upon us that we one day wake up bankrupt or in debt. debt so deep that we cannot exit the relationship any more - and this is what is defined as commitment. alternatively, some may want to invest entirely, and (god forbid) hope that the other does as well, and i must admit that i am guilty of such charge, though no longer. the individualist in me (and us all) should rise above this, for it is ironic that such reluctance to invest is perceived as a strength and only encourages the other to invest - a cat and mouse game that i will never understand.

and yet, going back to that basis, one would imagine that cradling and nurturing said investment would be an advantage in all situations, even though commitment is undesirable (though in most cases, imminent). and here, my theory falls flat, again... and i am confused as to why this is so. maybe when one develops a 'loving' relationship, one proceeds to test it. vigorously and unrelentingly, savagely and brutally, till it is battered and broken and unsightly and appalling, and then, should it survive like a mangy mongrel that nobody will want or care for, that is when we adopt it, full on, and without want for reciprocation (as love is blind, but also pure and expecting no reward *sarcasm here*). just like the most bitter medicines are the ones that work the best, the most thoroughly-tested relationships may last the longest? i suppose there is logic in this, but as a person of logic and wanting open lines of communication (as opposed to this whole covert operation of indirect testing, though i must admit, like a beautiful experiment, there is an aesthetic value here that i am yet to appreciate in its entirety), when does one relent? when does one abate, and finally settle? and most importantly, when does the testing stop upon oneself? how much more can one endure before it is no longer worth it? is patience the key to success, or a recipe for disaster? i cannot begin to answer all of these, for i am not even in the slightest way close to any of these checkpoints in a budding relationship. however, i can say this, i don't think i will want to put up with any of this. and, as the wise saying goes:

b*tch, please

if i wanted drama, i'll just go watch another episode of house.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

engineering a past-time

for the past couple of weeks, on my way back from the chemistry department at university, i have been conducting a small observational experiment. well, experiment here is a poor choice of words, but i had a hypothesis and some interesting results, so let's call it that for the time being. in any case, let me not spoil the fun by stating said hypothesis, but jump straight into some methodology:

the engineering department is located along the way home, and the brand new engineering students' common room is constructed such that it is rectangular has a long side that spans about half a football field. the tables and chairs are aligned in a couple of rows along the wall that is made of glass (or some other translucent material - architects and engineers feel free to educate me), and as i walk along the wall it is easy to peer into the room and observe what the students are doing. most, if not all will be on their computers and it's interesting to see what they do:

bear in mind the context of this, that most of the students are first or second year students (apparently the third years hang out where the cool kids do, elsewhere), of a mixed background - mostly males, but ethnicity-wise, it's quite diverse, and most importantly, this observation was done a couple of weeks before their semester finals!

though some of the students were indeed studying, who can blame them when i saw the following as most activities done:

1) lurking (this would include 9-gagging, channing (no link for obvious reasons) and the various forms of imageboards and forums. approx 72 students.
2) facebook-ing. approx 42 students.
3) 'lightweight' games, like flash games and emulated games. i reckon i would separate this from the 'real' games because if you're studying and needed a break, this would be more justifiable. plus you won't end up looking at your watch and go 'wtf it's been 3 hours now?'. approx 40 students.
4) watching movies or series. approx 35 sudents.
5) youtube. approx 22 students.
6) 'real' games. these would include some of the 'cool'er games out right now. off the top of my head i remember world of warcraft, star wars, a couple of mmos i don't recognise, starcraft 2, and best of all, a group of 5 guys hitting up a lan game of defense of the ancients. just so you know, they were chinese. just saying. approx 15 students.

obviously, this is just a cross-section of what they were doing. they may have been taking a break, they may have been finished with exams. who knows; no judgement. just saying.

and for the amount of students doing work? i'll let you guess!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


i read my old poetry. it is less pretentious than my later ones. how counterintuitive.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

don't waste your time...

... on someone who won't waste their time on you. this is a quote from a good friend of mine, which, though at the time didn't mean much to me, now resonates with a long, dulcet tone in my mind. the theme of this saying, i reckon, is that attraction is not an objective thing. it doesn't matter how you view your 'significant other' (or more relevantly, potential significant other), but how you view each other. one may be truly, madly and deeply in love with another, but not have it reciprocated. and that is all that matters. how one treats another should be mirrored in the relationship, and if it is not, then (s)he should consider the relationship failing, or even non-existant.

now, i post this that seems so intuitive only because, like myself many years ago, we fail to see the obvious nature of the statements until we experience and well empathise with them. i always like a good 'i told you so' when the dawning of what all this means finally emerges in your mind (and heart). it makes me giggle with glee to know that those before me had told me so, and i was oblivious, and now i get to say the same to others! oh, what little joys this world has to offer in others' pains, though the less they are in quantity, the more they are in magnitude.

stop wasting your time!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

the sprite experiment

currently involving myself in research has been somewhat taxing. but, to be honest, that's only because i spend all my 'free' time doing unnecessary things like reading and playing games and watching movies and sleeping. in any case, i have had a significant amount of time, in between waiting for bacterial cultures to grow and ultracentrifuge machines to do their thing, to reflect on my career path so far (or, as with most things in my case, the lack thereof). one thing that came to me recently is an old experiment design that i had for a high school project. it was a chemistry project, with the intention of exposing us to experimental design and method, and i have to say, it was an enlightening experience at the time. where most of the experiments were handed down to us and 'science' was a mere following steps and instructions on a drab piece of photocopied paper, the actual opportunity to understand scientific approach was much welcome. to some of us.

anyway, here is the experiment that i conjured. i cannot say if i think back of it as a good or terrible one - i guess it would be an okay experiment. my teacher at the time thought it was terrible, though!

objective: to determine the amount of H2CO3 and H3PO4 in a bottle of sprite.

materials: bottle of sprite (i think it's the 375ml bottle. i can't really remember), run of the mill lab apparatus e.g. beakers and pipettes and retort stands, universal indicator and pH meter!

introduction: the 'fizzy' drink, sprite is listed to have carbonic and phosphoric acid as its two major components of acid (with some minor ones, unlisted), which are responsible for the 'fizzy' taste. texture? something like that. carbonic acid exists in a state of equilibrium between the dissolved acid and gaseous carbon dioxide:

H2CO3 <-> H+ + HCO3- <-> 2H+ + CO3(2-) <-> H2O + CO2

phosphoric acid is not so effervescent, and we assume that it remains dissolved (along with the minor acids).

as most kids will know (and attest to, having pranked their peers), shaking a bottle of carbonated drinks vigorously causes it to become somewhat volatile. the best condition to hand a can of coke to your friend, watch them open it and get drenched in sweet syrupy silliness. this is an effect of the vaporisation of carbonic acid to carbon dioxide. in the closed space of a can or bottle, the gas, which takes up more volume for the same number of moles (or molecules) of liquid, causes an increased pressure to build up (since PV = nRT, where P is pressure, V is volume, n is number of moles, R is the universal gas constant 8.314 J/K/mol and T is temperature; increasing n causes an increase in P, all other variables being constant).

- a sample of the sprite is tested for pH value using the universal indicator and calibrated pH meter.
- one 'shake' of the capped bottle is performed, and the pH reading is taken again.
- the process is repeated for 10 'shakes', after which the bottle is shaked vigorously for 5 mins (lies) and a pH reading taken.
- the data are plotted on a graph with each point corresponding to a pH of each number of subsequent shakes (1, 2, 3, ...) and the final point is extrapolated to a point of infinite shakes.

so i remember the results were amazingly consistent. multiple runs gave a linear graph that tapered off at 'infinity'. and from this, we could estimate the concentrations of carbonic and phosphoric acid (plus non-specific acids).

this was a major flaw: how quantifiable is 'a shake'.

ok and other flaws as well. anyway. that was high school experimental design. at its worst. man, times were funny back then.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


the concept of a life after death is an intriguing one. where does it stem from? much like the presence or absence of a higher being, deity, God or flying spaghetti monster; there is no real way of (dis)proving claims of an afterlife. while it may be more pertinent to address the larger scope of the question, that is the existence of a great creator - a maha, if you will, the existentialism brought forward by even asking that question far extends the scope of my simple penning here.

so, let us focus on the concept of afterlife - if we cannot answer where it comes from, and proceed to argue of its existence, we should instead focus more particularly on its intent. in most religions that support the idea of an afterlife, i would think that the intent is simple: provide an extra-terrestrial means of retribution and reward, that people may behave more amicably and adhere to the word of God in this life. but this simplistic reasoning seems flawed and counterintuitive. if the hand of divinity is such that it is concealed until a judgement day, and reckoning is not swift and furious, what human can bend to the wills of a holy being, or at least learn to, while in life? it may be true that such a thing does happen on a lesser scale, and that we are too blind to see, or it is concealed from us, but intrinsically, i would think that human nature is very fleeting and impressionable. the pavlovian model and simple conditioning are, in fact, how we function on a daily basis, and on a larger scale how we lead our lives. if God were to smite a heretic down with the rage of thunder and lightning every time someone did something 'bad', we would all see a correlation and model our behaviour to avoid punishment. just like how my father used to get his leather belt out when we did something stupid. and to further the pavlovian analogy, even the sight or sound of said belt (or in God's case, thunder) would be motivation enough to keep oneself in check.

could it be that the conditioning has, in fact, been placed, but the loss of primary stimulus (due to at some point, efficiency of the response) has caused us to regress to a point before its implementation? if the torah, bible, talmud or quran are to be believed, then possibly so. hinduism and buddhist text beg the opposite.

let's move on to a different point. why does it matter that there is a promise of just reciprocation for sin or saintliness on earth, if there pre-determination in action? this may sound familiar to some who have read my blog before (all two persons of you) and are privy to the ongoing debate on exitentialism and fatalism that i (or we, as humans) constantly engage in. can puppets in a play be accountable for their actions, and is it just that justice is meted according to how the story goes or ends? what of the puppets that play no role in the play in the first place? should the puppeteer be responsible for every outcome, be it according to script or not? and who would assign him authority to pass out judgement as he sees fit? there are all superficial questions that barely scratch the concept of a fatalistic relationship between man and maker, but already i am divided in extending judgement as to who holds the 'final accountability'. if nobody is, and our actions are products of a meshwork of intricate, individual events, that leads to further questions on the complexity of life itself, and how that would influence any kind of afterlife. but, let's not open that new bag of worms.

which leads us to another consideration: why do we really care if the intent of reward and punishment is justified, if there is no causality? in christianity, we are all born with original sin, inherited from adam and eve, and our goal in life is to redeem ourselves from the sins of our fathers. in islam, we are born pristine, but our actions on earth have little to no consequence on our placement in heaven or hell - any person's entry into heaven is by grace of God as opposed to his virtues on earth (though would / should there be a correlation between the two?). in judaism... well that's just kind of an up-for-grabs situation where olam ha-ba is ill defined, and individual interpretation plays a more significant role than in other religions. all of these scenarios suffer from 'logical' flaws: how accountable are we if our sins aren't our own? how motivated should we be if effort does not reflect in gains? how sure can we be if we... just aren't?

for lack of a better word, a conclusion is in order. surely i jest? for how can we conclude on such a broad subject after writing a mere five paragraphs worth of rabble? i will not presume to conclude on the idea of an afterlife, though, instead i would conclude on the significance of the idea. the very existence of it. i think it boils down to faith - what does religion do for you? what does God do for you? what does the belief in God do for you? all these questions share the same answer with, why should the afterlife exist for you? and if you don't believe in it? then that is something you have a choice over (apparently, unlike where you place in the afterlife). does the belief or disbelief make you a better person? how do you judge that? and who judges that? and what are the repercussions of that (dis)belief? well, it would be your eternal life in the hereafter, wouldn't it? unless there turns out to not be one, in which case it is inconsequential.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

on art

oh ye, how cruel art thee,
that i may know of all these words;
but not enough to convey still,
about thine beauty's come to hurts.

that indescribable make thee,
elusive of a very song;
and falter at your beautied tress,
that makes me pine for thee so long.

so lost in hope that one day may,
find me words not inopportune;
that i may tell thy fleeting heart,
how learned to smile, to laugh, to swoon.

but pray never prejudice be,
that fore thine heart betrayeth truth;
how fibs be stead and fast as thee,
mar words and life be cursed uncouth.

mine flailing, desperate, grasping hands,
for perfect nouns alike thine soul:
but maybe never destined be,
thy know of this pining 'til old.

and even then, hast thou not seen?
how pretty words can misconstrue?
where failed my writ and wit are now,
i pray intent of art comes true.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

darkest star

i laid my back upon this bark,
of willow in this 'ternal dark;
and gazed up to the pitch'd black skies -
a night that doth betray these eyes.

would i were bold as sleepless scars,
that streak the night like falling stars;
thine shooting? false. like hopeless wish,
unrequited, this dazzling kiss.
and laid, thy bussom, heave'd - exhales,
that shake the seas of great narwhales;
for all the time through darken'd hours,
thy radiant vein of divine powers;
may crush this soul and flee thine heart,
that farther flares we drift apart.

so lift'd 'gainst that dimm'd, damned pitch,
yell cursed, cold and heartless bitch,
with raged, cruel, lips, but hold! 'tis life,
how could thine hate cut like a knife?
and still pellucid, 'posed like stars?
not mine, not thine, but both 'tis ours.

now focused, focused, eyes of mine,
through teary oceans dead with brine;
a shallow beacon clips the sky,
what close celestial firefly;
that merges into dark-like glim,
and reappears upon thine whim.
should i that such delicate love?
a gift from Gods and stars above?
ephemeral lines that give thee stead,
for this time 'morrow t'will be dead.

so cupp'd in clasp i hold thee tight,
my firefly, star, and guiding light;
that should i leave the to fly free,
what fool would hope return'd to me?

so set thy sail 'gainst gale'd night sky,
that northern star would fallen grace;
for city, throned in heart and eye,
that crumbles just to touch thine face.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

the colt that learned to fly

to be insipred by my muse

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

the cheetah cub and red fox

once upon a time, in the barren deserts of thar, lived a cheetah cub. nobody knew how she arrived there, for her kind is not indigenous to thar, and nobody gave much care for the whys and hows and wherefores of a simple cheetah cub. in fact, the neglect of the cub made it such that she would not care less of the world and its inhabitants, but instead divert her attentions inwards - to herself and the many questions that plagued her mind; mostly that of her own existence and purpose in life.

she scoured the desert each day, living off menial scraps and leftover carcasses, ones which nobody would care to finish but vultures, but they do not count for much as vultures are barely animals to begin with (not any more than they are shades of death). and in many years, she learned to make a living for herself, comfortable and safe, though never lavish or elaborate, and she would come into being as a cheetah that prided amongst little things, her own independence and self-sufficiency. this lead to the cheetah's growing an elaborate and beautiful coat of fur, one of golden mesmerising sleekness, dotted with obsidian rings of the finest and most perfect circles you have ever seen. and so, every animal in the land of thar begun to praise the cheetah for her infinitesimal beauty - but the cheetah would begin to realise that this praise stemmed from all the wrong reasons, and would not bow her head to any such compliments, but simply smile and run away.

one day, as the cheetah was drinking from a waterhole, lonesome and forlorn after a week's worth of failed huntings, she was startled by the appearance of an animal she had never met before. gazing up from its reflection across the stagnant waters, she stared bewildered and grieved, at a single red fox. tilting her head perplexedly, she inquired, 'who might you be, you across this drinking hole? i have never seen such a ragged and ugly beast. i do not think one such as you merits much in this world, and to share the same water that i would drink?... what makes you think you deserve so much?'

the red foxed continued lapping his drink, slowly, and without looking up, broke his sipping to simply say, 'i am a red fox'.

'indeed, i see that now. in fact, i knew this all along,' the cheetah responded haughtily.
'you probably did, and it did not occur to you. i should have introduced myself, and for that i apologise'.
'then you know your place well. maybe i shall allow you to drink with me a while'.
'you are too gracious. it is not common to find someone so exquisite, knowledgeable and kind-hearted altogether. indeed, today has been a most enlightening day, and i must admit it has fared me better than i normally do'.

the cheetah smiled and continued her drink. soon enough, the red fox had had his fill, and left the cheetah, who made night nearby the waterhole in hopes that she might see the fox again tomorrow. but that never came to be.

cheetah, burdened and troubled with many more days of hunger from inability to catch any prey, would soon find that her spirits were lower than they had ever been, and to this, she paid no tribute, for she was a strong and autonomous animal. there would need be none of self-sympathy, much less begging and pleading for food from whatever source.

on the fifth day of starvation, she would come across the very same red fox again, this time, him with a gigantic oxen killed - which is unusual for foxes who do not hunt in any manner similar to cheetah (or any other predator, for that matter). moth salivating but senses at attention, cheetah approached the feasting fox cautiously, with half a mind to chase him off and claim for herself the kill.

'oh, you startled me there! for a moment i had thought a lion was upon me and i would be dead in seconds, an additional meal to my new master along with my oxen friend here. but it is you, oh, beautiful cheetah. and now i am relief. pray join me in my paltry meal, for i cannot finish it myself, and it would be waste for the vultures to have after i am done, those pesky and plagued birds of nuisance.'

and all the while red fox was saying this, cheetah was stopped dead in her tracks, mere feet away from the carcass but seemingly a thousand miles away. with her sense of pride unnecessarily cut, she responded, 'do not think i would share such a wretched meal with you, one so similarly shabby and haggard - i only meant to surprise you with my cunning and stealth'.

'then you have done very well. i applaud you, and instead of offering you in alms, i would instead offer you in prize!'

and the mere play on words would soothe the enraged cheetah, who would then join red fox in a meal. and for twists of fate, cheetah then has a lengthy and attached conversation with red fox to find that though his food had been much to her satiety, red fox had more to offer in terms of his sagely opinions and advice. they feasted for three days on the same oxen - the presence of cheetah warding of vultures and lions and hyenas and jackals. but the third day would come to an end, where both would leave to find their way in life. his passing words to cheetah, red fox said, 'you are different from the animals here in thar. it seems you do not belong here, but you belong everywhere you may roam. and you are deceiving as well as surprising - your beauty surpasses your coat and extends to thought further than any animal i have met. and for that i thank you. i would bid you farewell, but this would imply an unnecessary parting. instead i say nothing and hope this is a brief hiatus, from which i hope to see you soon'.

'you use words kindly and excessively, but i feel nothing of the sort', said cheetah - though only she could tell how true the extent of her words were. 'i bid you nothing either,' and with that she ran off into the west, never to be heard or seen of for a protracted duration - at least from red fox.

but for red fox, that would be neither the end of his failing charm or imprudent efforts, to maybe see cheetah again, for he was smitten - not with a love for another being but that of an ideal and a hope. which is something hard enough to convey, much more put into words.

many years from then, red fox would meet cheetah again; seeing her in the distant sunset, a silhouette against a sinking sun, black and red and gold and yellow, like a fiery shadow in all majestic and fearsome beauty. and he ran. he ran and ran and dashed and scurried in her direction, if only to yell a 'hello!'.

but cheetah would have none of it, for she is a creature of fleeting emotions and ephemeral being. she is a being of speed and celerity and haste - something prided by cheetahs all over more than their beauty and strength and intelligence and wit. so, before red fox was in earshout distance, she sprinted, fast as she could, muting him and herself as the winds roared in her ears.

to this day, the deserts of thar are devoid of cheetahs, but if one listens closely, in the deepest, darkest nights, one can hear the set of four and fours, sprinting into the winds. and once in a while, one set would stop - cheetah pausing to give leeway for red fox to catch up, but before he ever could, she would start again in a new direction. so red fox, perpetually in chase, tired but never hopeless, pursues, till the end of time, and the indigenes say that this blur of red after a yellow bedim gives rise to the tint and hue of every sunrise and every sunset. and the day where he finally catches up, will be a day of ends, of despair, of heartbreak, so for the better of the world and safety of all animals, cheetah never will allow fox to see her again - out of vanity, out of pride, out of responsibility, and most importantly, out of whim.