Phoning It In

21 October 2017 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

In the last month or so, the battery life of my Samsung phone which I bought over 2.5 years ago shortened and shortened. I thought it was bad when it only had an hour of energy at full charge. In the end it only had about 5 minutes of life at full charge. I had bought a fresh new battery when I was at Langkawi in July and clearly I was swindled.

Spiderwebbed

Physically, the phone looked like it had been beaten up by school bullies.

Cracked Rear View

The battery looked pretty chubby in the end.

Do I look fat from this angle?

I needed to buy a new phone as mobile communications appear to be paramount at work.

 

The Star Wars Show Fan Art

31 August 2017 | Hisham | | Artwork, Recent News, Star Wars
 

The Star Wars Show crew asked for some fan art of the Star Wars Show from the Twittersphere, so being a Twitterspheroid (or a spheroid of some sort) I thought I would oblige them.

Click to Expand

Check out the full artwork on ArtStation here. Also, click on the image above to expand it.

So here we have Andi Gutierrez in an Imperial gunner costume, Anthony Carboni in some smuggler's outfit with CH-33Z in his arms and Pablo Hidalgo at the back with the Star Wars Sourcebook. I tweeted the image a couple of days ago (see Appendix A below) and then it was featured (for about 2 seconds) on the latest Star Wars Show on YouTube!

Here be the latest episode of the show:

Don't forget to check out the other fan art submissions (and the rest of the episode) in the episode above.

Click to Expand

The relevant screenshot of the video. Click on the image to expand it.

96-page Galaxy Guide?

Wonder what were Galaxy Guides 17-36.

Also in the original tweet was the illustration I drew laid out as the cover to one of West End Games' old Galaxy Guides. This fake cover sadly did not appear in the episode.

In closing, I surmise this was as close as I would possibly get to being on Star Wars in a semi-official capacity.

Appendix A: The Actual Tweet

 

A Nasal Epilogue

14 August 2017 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

After last week's surgery, I had splint and padding up my nose to hold things together as the parts within healed. The doctors gave me little bottles of saline solution and a syringe to douche my nasal cavity to cleanse it of blood, snot and other assorted blood-covered snot.

The tissue paper is to stop blood from dripping out

On Saturday, after my regular nose douche and a shower I felt something shift uncomfortably up my nose. The string taped to my nose which connected to the splint was slack. Something sharp and stinging had moved down my right nostril. More blood than usual was dripping down my nose.

We went to a clinic to get it looked at, but the doctor there referred us to the ER at the hospital. There was a referral letter and all. The ER doctor who attended me called up the ENT physician on call. The ENT doctor (who correctly guessed who I was over the phone) said that if there was no excessive bleeding, I can go home, but have to return to the ENT clinic for a check Monday instead of Thursday.

Emergency Department

However, the stinging pain in my right nostril disappeared Sunday morning. Did the splint move back into its normal position as I slept? Was the pain some injury that healed itself overnight? The reason will forever be unknown to me.

First thing Monday morning (well, second thing after breakfast), we were back at the ENT clinic at the hospital. The chief ENT specialist decided to remove the stuff up my nose and further explore their handiwork with an endoscope. I thought it would hurt more as they did inform me before the surgery that it might sting momentarily, but there was a slight pull and my nose was clear with minimal pain.

All appeared to be well.

I need to keep douching my nose apply the nasal steroid spray daily, to ensure the nose heals proper and to suppress polyps regrowth respectively. I hope all goes well as I have a class to teach on Tuesday which I could not postpone any more.

Finally, the spot on my right hand where the teddy bear-encased cannula was removed five days earlier still hurts for some reason. I wonder why...

 

Suddenly, The Emergency Room

12 August 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

... but upon my return home from my three-day hospital stay, I discovered that Opah Irfan had a high fever and could not sit up. She was extremely weak from illness. So, we took her to the Klinik Kesihatan downtown before it closed, leaving Irfan alone at home to do his homework.

When we arrived, Ain and Atok Irfan got a wheelchair for Opah.

No sign of Eriq La Salle

After a blood test, the medical personnel there discovered that Opah's blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature were sky high. The nurses there had to inject some insulin into her system.

Insulin time

Then, they called an ambulance to transport her to the Emergency Room of the hospital next door - escorted by Ain - while Atok & I returned home to get her medical records. What followed was a six-hour wait at the ER for the lab to return a new blood test to see if Opah needed hospitalisation. We took turns having dinner at nearby restaurants and staying by her side.

Fortunately, a hospital stay was unnecessary. Her blood was clean of any infection although her urine was.

We returned home just after three in the morning.

Back to the first pic

When Atok and Opah headed home to Sitiawan, Opah was feeling much better.

 

Finally, A Surgery

09 August 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

Atok and Opah Irfan came to visit last Saturday for a medical reason.

FIVE DAYS EARLIER

The photo of them above along with Irfan was taken the day they left for Sitiawan on the 12th. Several days earlier, on Monday the 7th, I was hospitalised and surgery was scheduled for the next day.

Not my stats

There I was, once more unto the breach. This was my fourth attempt at surgery. A FESS to remove what was left of a couple of polyps and a septoplasty to fix my right air hole which was apparently too small. The first attempt back in early 2016 was postponed because of high blood pressure. The second was postponed on account of getting sick while under observation in the hospital ward, and I missed a work excursion to Terengganu in vain because of it. I was unable to go for surgery the third time earlier this year because of a priority cancer patient who took my slot.

Still the two of us after 17 years

Ain sat with me at the ward while Atok and Opah ensured Irfan was okay at home with school and dinner and such. I prayed that this time there would be no problems.

Hey a faucet on my hand!

They stuck a cannula in my left hand at the ENT clinic before I went to the ward.

Soon, it was Tuesday morning and they wheeled me to surgery. I was first on their schedule that morning. Thankfully my blood pressure was within acceptable tolerances, so they carted me off to the freezing operating theatre, transferred me from the gurney to the table, put some thing that warmed my body up -- I was unable to see what they were as they were putting the mask over my nose and mouth.

I thought I heard them say something about unable to get medication through the cannula.

Then I remembered no more.

I'm still alive?

When I was under, the doctors did stuff to my nose. Four hours or so later, Ain took the photo above after I was wheeled out of recovery and back at my bed at the ward. There was blood on my teeth. I hoped it was not because of me biting any doctors when I was unconscious.

I brushed my teeth as soon as I could.

I think this is the kids' version

For some reason a new cannula was on my right hand. (The one on my left had disappeared.) Also, there were teddy bears. Teddy bears. It must have been some sort of bonus achievement.

Final selfie before leaving

I have some padding up my nose where they dug in. They also cut away some septum to enlarge the right nostril, which could explain why I get out of breath quickly back in school when I was running. (I never run these days. Not enough dogs up here to chase me.)

A string was taped to my nose. The doctors will pull on it to remove the padding next Thursday. I am not looking forward to that sensation.

Finally, I was released from hospital Wednesday afternoon.

To be continued...

Edit: A Nasal Epilogue

 

One Foot In The Shoe - Not The Other

07 May 2017 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

The human body is an amazing self-repairing machine. It consumes resources around it like oxygen, water and nutrients (usually shoved into pie hole) and allows me to ride this meatsack like John Cusack on John Malkovich.

However, entropy has begun overtaking this unlikely biological Rube Goldberg device I wear. The years have started to reveal cracks in the system. For example, gout is pretty fricking painful. I have known from an academic standpoint that gout can be painful but to endure a whole night of one's toe being smashed in by a sledgehammer at least three times a second is something I never thought I would experience.

I don't belieeeve it.

It took a needle with gout meds to reduce the pain to manageable levels yesterday.

I am just glad to have medical coverage now and very grateful that I did not gravely and acutely require it when we were freefalling without any back in the city.

 

Kangar Street Art Photos

04 February 2017 | Hisham | | Artwork, Recent News
 

I was busy all through to the end of 2016 that I was oblivious to stuff happening in Kangar. For example, I recently discovered an alley near the centre of town which had been adorned by colourful streetart apparently painted by schoolchildren from all over Malaysia.

I thought I would take a couple of photos for documentation's sake, because this must have been a really fun event for the attendees.

The title artwork as one enters the alley.

This one looks pretty lively.

It appears one of the artist is a student from Irfan's school.

 

Postcards Beyond The Edge

28 December 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News, Star Wars
 

"Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it, and eventually the confidence will follow." - Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher died earlier today. She was 60.

I did not think it would, but it did hit me harder than I ever thought it could. Because I am unsure why because I did not believe she affected me much as a child despite my being a Star Wars fan. For me it was always about the universe first. The characters, who had their own great story in that universe, came second.

So what did she imprint onto me at that pubescent age when I first saw Star Wars? It was probably something like this: if there was an older girl playing on the playground, I would want her to be like Princess Leia. If the boys run out of ideas, grab a gun and blast a hole in the wall. If I had an older sister, I would definitely want her to be like Princess Leia. So, unlike a lot of stories from many fans I had read, I never fell in love with Princess Leia, nor Carrie Fisher.

But I had a younger sister. And I believe subconsciously, I pushed her into becoming someone who I would love to play with on the playground. If assholes talk you down, look them in the eye in defiance.

I think - I believe - my sister Sila did grow up to be like this idealised version of her which I had in my mind.

It was only fairly recent that I learnt that the Carrie Fisher herself was as fiesty as her character Princess Leia. I marvelled at her acerbic wit and sharp tongue during interviews. I discovered how opened was about being bipolar. If anything, I wish I had been paying attention to her when I needed it. I think if I did I would have bounced back from the edge quicker.

Thanks, Carrie Fisher, for being an inspiration on many a level. Rewatching the films will never be quite the same from today.

Plus Gary's ears

Andi Gutierrez interviews Carrie and Gary Fisher during Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016.

 

The Clutch

16 November 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

The answer to that is the clutch disintegrated on the inside.

 

The Car Exhausts Me

03 November 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Usually car problems come not within a month or two of one another. For us. So far. Until now.

Friday

It was Friday afternoon just before Solat Jumaat when the car engine refused to start. After prayers, with the help of some colleagues, I got a nearby mechanic to see to our immobilised vehicle. It turned out that the battery - nearly two years old - was as flat as a paper miniature.

Saturday

Saturday was the lull in the storm. Little did we know that our car troubles for the week were not done yet.

Sunday

The car returned from a short jaunt to refill our potable water bottles and hissed at me. Since the thermometer was broken, we were unsure if it was the radiator. After it cooled down, I attempted to refill the radiator and reversed the car a metre or so, away from the puddle I made in my refill attempt.

A new unwanted puddle promptly appeared.

It was almost sundown on a Sunday. The car would have to be repaired the next day, and I had to cancel my morning class.

Monday

It took an entire Monday to fix the leak as it was leaking at a pipe that was connected to the engine. I also had to cancel my afternoon class.

At he end of the day, the coolant system was fixed.

But the mechanic pointed out that my front right tyre had a bulge. Frayed fibres were visible. It was the end of the day, so I could only replace the front tyres the next day.

Tuesday

I had a medical appointment first thing Tuesday morning. We wanted to have breakfast at the hospital but the cafeteria was shut down on account of their tender contract being lapsed. After the visit to the ENT clinic at the hospital, we looked for food before heading to the tyre shop. By lunch time, we had replaced both front tyres and the usable left tyre was made a spare, and all was right in the world.. until-

Wednesday

Upon our return from sending Irfan to school, the car scraped against a sharp jagged rock on the side of a small road near the back of the school... and tore a gash in it.

I had to cancel one of a replacement class from Monday. I thought I could replace the damaged tyre with the spare, but ultimately I could not - not without a missing metal bar I used as a lever to break the nuts' torque in the past.

So I walked to the nearby mechanic, who told me to walk even further to reach a tyre shop in Jejawi.

The mechanics drove me home, used their tools to break the nuts' torque and swapped the tyre for the spare so I could drive back to their workshop to buy a brand new undamaged tyre to replace the brand new severely damaged tyre.

Flat tyre

I tried to get things done as quickly as possible so I could make the afternoon class at Sungai Chuchuh.

After five days, a truckload of worries and many hundreds of ringgit (most of which we had to ask for monetary aid) the car crises finally ceased by the time it was-

Thursday

When will the next crisis be? Stay tuned to find out.

 

Driveway Apam Balik Station

17 September 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

One Saturday, our driveway became an apam balik station. Many visitors came to obtain free apam balik as dessert to go with their meal.

Free food in our driveway?!

The driveway had been converted because of the wedding feast held by our neighbour to commemorate the wedding between his son and daughter-in-law, and his daughter and son-in-law.

A twofer!

The cook revealed!

The previous day both Ain and I helped out with the preparing of the food. I helped cut up the beef into small pieces while Ain had her fingertips chemically seared off when she attempted to remove the skin out of a million metric tonnes (or so it seemed) of garlic.

Apparently deskinning a large amount of garlic can be painful to your fingers.

Close up on his work processes.

There was a meeting some weeks back and we had given them permission to set up the apam balik station here.

Across the street where the food was being served, an ais batu campur station had also been set up. But we are here today to talk about the apam balik station.

Close up on the results!

Despite this photo, Irfan was not as enthusiastic about consuming the apam balik as Yong and I were and we both enjoyed the little things greatly.

Guests!

During the feast, our friends from the nearby who were invited to the wedding also visited our house. It was a pleasant day for everyone.

 

And Then You Teach

05 September 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News, Teaching
 

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

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

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

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

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

Atmospheric, no?

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

Pitter patter of... something.

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

IT'S OVER!

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

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

 

Return Trip to the Hospital

04 August 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

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

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

Of course there were complications from all sides.

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

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

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

 

Selamat Hari Raya from the Department

30 June 2016 | Hisham | | Artwork, Recent News
 

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

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

Selamat Hari Raya

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

 

Worn Joints Are Worn

28 April 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

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

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

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

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

 

Like Flying Polyps But Not Really

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

THEN

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

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

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

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

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

NOW

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

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

No Scrubs jokes here - I never watched Scrubs

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

Apparently I was expected to just lie on the bed.

But I can't drive this hospital bed around

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

Hospital food was awesome!

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

 

Three Structures

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

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

Last weekend, I made the plunge.

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

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

Later.

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

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

Is that lava or red spotlight?

Three structures in the distance.

 

Happy Birthday to Little Adik

31 December 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

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

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

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

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

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

Verbally, visually or metatextually.

 

Yet Another Cousin Arrives

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

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

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

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

Welcome to this universe, Baby Rania!

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

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

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

Lost in Translation

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

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

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

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

Ghost

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

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