Archive for the ‘flashbacks’ Category

November 12, 2018

afternoon bus

The smell of diesel and grease. The feel of blackened rusty metal. The odor of sweaty PVC seats. The roar of old English engine. The engagement of an aging transmission. The jerking of a cranky clutch. The rattling of plastic panes. The G in a speeding cabin. The chatter of school children. The sound of chiming bell. The look of tired conductor. The coarseness of recycled paper. The smoothed surface of metal plate. The hissing of pneumatic pumps. The sweat of laborers. The noise of defective buzzer. The cacophony of traffic. The gaze of innocence. The bake of the sun. The breeze of relief. The fading thoughts of uncertainty. The pang of hunger. The silent songs in my head. The city that I love. The sight of my home.

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March 19, 2018

a day in life…

A certain Monday in March.

Validation Senior Engineer, age 40.

0515: Wake up to the sound of my phone alarm. Sometimes I do it a few seconds earlier, before it beeps. Monday is a no-meeting day, so I wake at 0515. If it’s a meeting day, I’ll have to wake earlier.

0515 – 0545: Put the phone to charge, then off to take a dump and then shower. Dumping takes up about 80% of the time, shower takes just a short while. Put the shaving brush to soak and sprinkle some water into my shaving soap to bloom throughout the duration of the shower.

0545 – 0605: Shake off the excessive water from shaving brush and load it up with shaving soap, then give the face a good lather. Shave 3+2 passes. 1st pass with the grain, 2nd pass across, 3rd pass against, and final 2 with criss cross. Baby butt smooth shave.

0605 – 0635: Dress up and grooming, aftershave, deodorant and toilette. Then I’m off to make my first mug of coffee for the day. This is the time I spend on catching up my messages on the phone. I get anywhere between 20 – 100 messages every night. This is also the time my wife wakes up to prepare the ingredients to be cooked for dinner.

0635 – 0650: Off I go to work. Journey takes 15 minutes. Would be shorter if I take the direct route, but usually, I take the freeway route. Reason: Less gear change, and less stop. Longer distance but I get better fuel economy. The route is also flood proof. Guaranteed to make it to work.

0650 – 0655: Get a good parking spot. Most Company T asswipes have not made it to work yet. It’s at least a couple hours too early for them, ergo I always get the good spot. Walk from the huge ass carpark to the lab.

0655 – 0730: In the lab to setup my notebook. It goes to a docking station hooked to various probes. One of the probes requires a reset every time the OS goes for a fresh boot. This is the time I catch up on work emails. I get about 20 – 50 emails a day. Jot plans and priorities for the day on my scrap book. Redundant shit gets tossed out of the attention.

0730 – 0815: Breakfast at the cafe – at this time it is basically still empty. An antisocial colleague usually joins me but we do not usually talk a lot. This is also the time for my 2nd mug of coffee (free by Company T) and for me to catch up on my mobile game – Marvel Future Fight something something.

0815 – 0930: Back to the lab, on my first plan of the day – that is, to prepare for a management review slide that is going to be shared with some big dogs seeking for global support to run some shit in the factory. It requires some reference from a few sources of materials that keeps the shit tight, and simplified to a level comprehensible even by the dumbest cocksucker in a gay den. While doing the report, I occasionally pan back and forth between emails (distractions), making the whole process longer than it should have been (I usually take around 15 mins for a few slides’ worth of report).

0930 – 1030: 2nd objective of the day – to sort out the inventory mess that has been overdue. One of the lab compliance managers started tripping balls, and I’m getting aggravated in turn. Got to dig out some of the chip components off a server platform, and tally the figure with my self tracked record. The record is good, and all the parts are accounted for. The manager can go fuck himself from now on.

1030 – 1115: The server platform with the dug out chip components gets a new upgrade job, in preparation for a design-of-experiment that was committed to another team. The experiment will decide if the new software stack is able to support a bunch of old probes that were used in an older platform, in a desperate bid to save some funds from getting spent upgrading the software. The upgrade job requires inspection of the chips (with a lame ass magnifying glass, courtesy of my management’s stinginess), precision positioning in a novelty custom designed socket and some screw jobs for the platform to be rigged to a customized pan. One of the socket has some grime in it, took me some time to determine that the shit is harmless. The custom upgrade job is left incomplete to make way for lunch (which is more important than anything else).

1115 – 1230: Off for lunch. Any time later than 1130, all will be left are scraps and pieces. Way to circumvent the overcrowding situation is to shift the time a couple of brackets earlier. This is the time I socialize with my team members (not all of them). Also the time for me to whack my 3rd mug of coffee.

1230 – 1300: Back to the lab, I typically spend around 30 mins to dick around – catch up some news and private emails. Sometimes, to continue on the Marvel Future Fight game.

1300 – 1400: The custom upgrade job completes around this time. Before the design-of-experiment job can be started, a baseline has to be establish to ascertain that the platform is healthy with its current config. Hook probes to the upgraded platform (with old software stack). Expected to work fine. Includes a couple of firmware flashes with power cycles, a formatting and then partitioning job. It is an hour’s worth of script run. If installation has issues, it’d have taken longer to debug and get it right. But of course, my installation always works the first try. ;-)

1400 – 1500: Call in to a brainstorming meeting called by a supporting team. Some dudes in the board factory and chip factory need some guides to get shit done right. Much of it involves replying calmly to a series of paranoid questions by people who have no clue what they’re doing. In an honest world, this would have warranted a practice of what we learn in MMA and practice on those guys. I inherited a task from the brainstorm, that is to draft an IKEA like manual to those engineers lest they imagine everything wrong.

1500 – 1515: A colleague panics and requests for help on his server platform giving errors. I verified its power and confirmed that the regulator did not croak, much to his relief (there’s a history to this case). A quick diagnosis, outdated firmware. I drafted a procedure for him to follow for the upgrade, as I am tied to other more important shit that needs to be done.

1515 – 1520: Email updates. Send a cancellation for a meeting that is not going to happen on Wednesday. Shoot off a few emails on some follow up items from the week before.

1520 – 1540: Uninstallation of the current (old) software stack commences. While waiting for that to complete, get into discussion with another colleague about the IKEA step-by-step guide task that I needed to do for the factory folks – tentatively tomorrow. Need his help to hold some of the stuff while I take pictures. It’s a 2 person job. He’s fine with it

1540 – 1630: Uninstallation completes. A pang of laziness hits me, and decided to continue this chore tomorrow. Said a ‘fuck it lets do this now’, whips out phone and started documenting shit for the IKEA guide. Realize that I need to dismantle another platform’s contraption to be able to continue. Dismantled and summoned colleague over “We’re doing this now.” Completed 50% of the work and leave lab for home. Anytime later than 5pm, hell’s going to break loose and going to be caught in a jam.

1630 – 1650: Drive home. Take the similar freeway route, it’s simply the less gay way to drive. I receive an invitation from my friends to join them for a tea break, I have to decline.

1650 – 1740: Today we’re going to fry rice with 1 soup and another novelty dish (pork liver). This is uncommon because we normally dine with 1 dish if it’s fried rice. This is because we need something to fall back to if my daughter Regine doesn’t like the liver. The pot of soup’s already there, prepared by Emily from the morning. I just need to boil it for 2nd leg. For garlic fried rice, I dice a whole bulb of garlic as aromatics, add some diced long beans (by Emily in the morning), and some pork. Then I toss that wok with some rice wine and soy sauce, no egg. Wash the wok, julienne some ginger, sauteed with sesame oil. When the wok’s super fucking hot, add in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, wine and finally, the pork liver.

1740 – 1750: I still have time to clean up everything in the kitchen, and settle for a quick shower.

1750 – 1805: Leave home to fetch Regine from her daycare class, which dismisses at 1800. Being there at 1805 is advisable according to my inner self, as most annoying parents would have left the place with the kids, making the traffic easier and the whole affair less stressful.

1805 – 1820: Journey back home with my girl Regine. We’d talk about our days in the car, and discuss about the annoying things that her friends did at school. I occasionally dispense some advice that a parent is obliged to give (but never followed them myself when I was her age). At times, we’d discuss about the songs we hear on the radio too.

1820 – 1920: Catch up on my puter. It’s paying bills time, and also some travel planning shit that I’ve had going for sometime, for a vacation planned in November. While on the computer, I’ll have the Marvel Future Fight switched on to farm some of the important things in the game. Emily gets home from work around 1900.

1920 – 2000: Dinner time in front of the TV. We’d play awesome TV shows of yesteryears I downloaded from the internet for Regine. We’d done Fresh Prince, now we’re doing Malcolm in the Middle.

2000 – 2130: Usually I have a choice to either play a game (of a city building simulator that I am currently working on), or watch one of the hundreds of program I downloaded, or read a fucking book. I chose to blog instead, but something about the webhost that impedes the blogging plan – the mod_security rule is making me lost progress and unable to save the draft of this post. Drags for a couple of email exchanges before it gets fixed and this post posted.

2130 onwards: Plan for some light reading before calling it a day, tomorrow will be an even earlier start.

A day in life.

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February 4, 2018

bitter memories : tour bus incident

I introduced a favorite TV show of mine to my daughter Regine, Malcolm In The Middle. She enjoyed it very much needless to say, and the show sparked many interesting conversations between us. She asked if I have ever known kids like those rascals in Malcolm’s family who could be so impervious to consequences just for the sake of doing what they think is fun. It reminded me of myself when I was a kid, the escapades I had with my cousins around the Greenlane neighborhood… and the wretched things we did. I told her all about it (much to her bewilderment).

One of it was what we’d refer to as ‘the tour bus incident’. It happened when I was around 8 years old. I was with 2 of my cousins called Kelv and Dobby (both are brothers). If you remember the name Kelv, then you’re right – it is the same guy I’ve written about 14 years ago. Dobby was the guy I wrote about here. Kelv was 9 and Dobby was 6 back then.

My mom would go to my grandma’s house for mahjong regularly in the 80’s, and because Kelv/Dobby lived with my grandma, we got to spend a lot of time together during weekends. We’d go around the Greenlane neighborhood to terrorize stray cats, vandalize properties around the church, and whatnots. But one of our absolute favorite thing to do, was to climb into a locked school nearby and had the place all to ourselves. One day, while we were doing that, Kelv noticed that there was a tour bus parked outside the school compound that belonged to one of the tour companies nearby. So he did what he thought was the coolest thing – he broke into the bus. We followed his lead.

Well, it wasn’t exactly ‘breaking’ because the door was unlock so, he was just entering. And you know how exciting it was for us kids to be in a bus without adult supervision. We’d climb onto the driver’s seat in turns and fiddle with all the controls available. I don’t exactly remember what we did inside but, I remember us liberating a stack of tour stickers – you know, those big round stickers that are used by tour companies to tag their tourist clients – from the driver’s compartment, and pasted them all over the bus interiors. What’s worse, we used the stickers on the school’s gate, then on the nearby walls, and everything else we could stick on.

We had a field day with the stickers and eventually, it ended when we reached home, back to my grandma’s house. But one mistake that we did not think much about out of sheer excitement, was the trail of stickers we left all the way from the tour bus kind of made it easy for us to get caught. The bus driver who eventually found his bus got broken into and full of stickers, was fuming mad and he’d followed the stickers all the way to my grandma’s house like it was the yellow brick road to the emerald city. And before long, he was at my grandma’s front door knocking on the door (I had gone home then). Boy my cousins had it so bad with their parents, especially Kelv, being the eldest and responsible for the whole thing. He got his ass handed to him by his dad. I got away scot free because I did not live there, so… it became a story of dumbassery that I’d remember for the rest of my life. (yep, we felt bad for Kelv).

Coincidentally, I ran into Dobby when I was having dinner with my daughter 2 days after telling this take to her. I brought the incident into discussion, and Dobby started to laugh like a jackass. Then he reminded me of another incident that involved a fire and a fire engine… which would be a story for another day…

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December 28, 2017

2017 roll up

2017 saw our traveling fetish switched into overdrive and went right ahead as planned. There’s never one day I do not think about traveling and where to go next. I know of a few travel heads who provided sound advice and I am thankful for that. This year, we conservatively traveled to 4 places and they were: Bali, Hainan, Bangkok and southern Japan (which we just came back from last week).

There was another place that was supposed to be in the pipeline – a road trip to Samui island – but that had to be canceled due to an important development in our lives – my daughter Regine has hit puberty and now she’s contending with her menstruation for the first time in her life. It first happened in November, but that was just some light rain. When we were in Japan in December, it suddenly became a category 10 typhoon. It wretched my heart to see her struggled with her cramps, and it was a really scary episode for both Emily and I – even more so that it happened when we were traveling. Reminded me back during the time when we had to take care of her when she was still a toddler when she got afflicted with virus infection and a raging fever.

Anyway, now that the storm is gone for the month, we decided to give her some time to get her shit together and learn how to deal with this ‘taiyeema’ thing in the coming months. It’s going to be important for everyone of us. We’ll resume traveling the world once she has that under her control.

2018 will be an important year for all of us. Big change is coming, and we’re hoping that we can cope it well. Not about to share what’s what in the blog here but, this will serve as a memory point for me to remember what I’ve anticipated at this point of time in 2017.

Bring it on motherfuckers!

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September 7, 2017

the balcony

*long post, wrote this composite post in a few sessions.

The hot afternoon breeze combs through the patch of sun baked grass, and carries with it the smell of a long lost memory that was buried deep inside me. Not forgotten, just lost. It brought me back to the time when I was alone in my old single room flat, at the balcony which overlooked the biggest cemetery in Penang. When I was in my elementary schooling years, my mother traveled a lot, and I spent most of my time alone at home. In that home, the balcony was my special place.

It was about 8 x 3 feet small, with glazed brown tiles adorning the floor. Because the flat was so small, we had to put the fridge there too. Up near the ceiling, there was a shelving for my mom to keep her unused items. There was once, a family of sparrows nested at the shelving, and some crows came to feast on the birdlings. It was a grisly sight. Separating me from falling 8 floors down to the ground, was a railing made of iron rods, painted over with several layers of glossy paint. I’d peel the paint off some parts of the railing, revealing its history of colors from decades of my family’s presence there. It had been blue and red and brown, before it was grey. Hanging out of the iron rod railing, was a suspended iron rack made by my mom’s brother, who welded it up as a gift for her to put her plants. My mom would keep her potted plants on the rack for many years. Over the years of water damage and exposure to weather, the iron rack rusted very badly and flakes of rust would drop on our neighbor’s awning. But it still stood when we left the flat for another home.
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