Friday, July 27, 2007

On The Train, July 25, 2007

It was drizzling when I walked towards the station and it has been this way for a week now. But I am not complaining only stating the fact.

I had to get home a bit early for the sport meeting at home. Without really conscious of the time my timing was perfect as when I got to my favourite waiting point the train showed up. The air conditioner in my coach was not working but we were lucky the weather would not necessitate it. If not we would be in a very hot container fro the rest of the journey home. Quite a number of people boarded at KL Sentral and it was like that up to Bandar Tasik Selatan. It got better at Serdang. Actually I was not as observant as I was typing and doing something else most the journey.

On The Train (work, stress and play), July 23, 2007

I had a conversation with one of my colleagues at the office one late evening last week. As any office conversations, maybe I am a very good listener, in the end the topic steered towards workloads and stress. I shared with my colleagues how I had learned to manage my stress and encouraged my colleague to do the same as it would do wonders with our lives. As it turned out I was tested to the fullest last week, and I would think this week as well, by work pressures piling in the office. I was almost defeated if not for few things that as if conveniently organized for me. On Saturday were the veteran team football practice and wedding reception in Puchong. Sunday were the Alumni Bowling Tournament in the morning and the PT veteran football game in the evening. So I had no time to worry about work during the weekend. Whatever it is we have to strike balance between the two. I know it is a cliché but we have to learn to really do it. The moment we walk out of the office we should cut us off from office works. Nothing is more important than your family and health.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cycling Alone at High Altitude, July 15, 2007

I inched closer to the window and pulled the curtain to look outside. It was misty and cold down the valley and made me had a second thought of cycling alone. Since the apartment was on higher ground looking down was really a pleasure creating nice feeling in me. I knew I made the right decision to come up here to rest after a week bout of on and off fever. That actually gave me more reason why I shouldn’t be out there cycling alone. My wife and Mar were still in deep sleep cuddled under the heated comforter as if announcing silently not to disturb them. I envied them for that as it was supposed to be me under the sheet but I was awake staring out. It was not really a complain though as I was really enjoying the view with nice feeling building up inside me even more after each minutes. Then, all of a sudden I decided to go down cycling. I do not know but at that time I just thought it would be a waste not to do it. I put on my gear, woke my wife to let me out and drove down to the park. The small parking area was empty but I saw few people walking in the park already. I immediately took out my bike form the back of the Ranger and cycled towards the hospital passing Mardi as a warm-up run. At that point I have not decided where to go but I figured the climbed to the hospital would be a good warm up to acclimatize with the thin air at that altitude. As I was climbing towards the hospital I only saw a lady and an Indian gentleman joggers.

Probably it was a Sunday morning or probably no body really gets sick in this nice cool place. The hospital was not like any other hospital that I had been to not only the architecture was like and English cottage it was really quiet with hardly any activities. I circled the lobby and sped down with cold air breaking on my face. While enjoying the speed down from the hospital I decided to cycle around the small town to check out all the nooks and crannies of the place. I started by turning right towards the new Century Pine Hotel to cycle around the field next to the school where I met a couple jogging. When I cycled out I saw a group of ladies sitting, I thought firstly were exercising, around reading. That was nice I thought the morning cool condition was indeed pleasant enough for them to do that. I wondered what they were reading. My eyes caught the clock tower in the park and it said 0815 but the morning was hardly breaking it seemed. I was beginning to really love the ride. I proceeded towards the heart of the small town. Wanting to absorb the nice feeling that was constantly growing inside me that I did not understand I cruised in enjoying the town. I turned left at the end and circle around the block where Maybank was and came out of the other side where I saw a small Sunday market was in progress. It was a small Sunday market but I knew I would check it out later. I entered the main road after that and turned left immediately to climb towards Heritage Hotel. Although most people I met ignored me as if I was a normal occurrence I still guessed I was the only one doing it in this town. From there on I kept on cycling in and out of corners and turns to explore part of the town that I took for granted before. In the end I found myself cruising down to where I started off and undecided for a while. I knew at that point it was about 5-6 kilometres from Tanah Rata to Brinchang and it was not the distance that I was worried about as I had covered more than that before. It was not the steep non-stop climb that bothered me really but whether my body was ready to cross the pain barrier after a week of uncertain sickness. To top it off doing it at the altitude of thin air. I was genuinely concern on how my body going to react. In the end I decided to do a Nike, just do it.

I began slowly as I had lost the momentum while I was on the thinking mode and got the bike to lower gear. It was not bad and I managed the first steep corner without difficulty. I looked up and in front of me was another steep corner that forced me to continue climbing without any let-up to stabilize my momentum. Cycling alone with that kind of condition was indeed a challenge as you do not have anybody to push or pull you up. I was perspiring inside but the cool high altitude air suppressed the flow of my sweat. I pressed on with my head up looking ahead and my confident grew after each corner and climb. It was really a wonderful feeling as well as relieve when I reached the top of the climb. I knew it was then steep down hill in front of me that coiled until the Smokehouse. I sped down breaking cool breeze along the way until I got to the edge of the golf course. It was then a long stretch of decent gradual incline interval but a short downhill before the steep climb into Brinchang town. I managed enough to turn left to checkout the unexplored part of the town. Still it was not an easy ride as Brinchang was built of a slope. The thought of pushing up further towards Equatorial Hotel crossed my mind as I harbour ambition to go off road within Sg Palas tea plantation. I knew and confident I could do it but I decided to turn back.

Based on the sign board at the golf course I realized there was an alternative road to bypass the major part of the climb going back to Tanah Rata. So just before the Smokehouse I turned left towards Kg Sg Sedia. Following my instinct I cycled through the kampong and emerged at the second steep corner on my initial climb. By all means it was not that easy going through the kampong as I had to negotiate a decent and the steepest climb towards the end. However it was a pleasant ride through as I discovered a couple of homestay places. Judging from the atmosphere and aura of the area I assumed it was a nice kampong. I even passed a kenduri in progress. After the steepest climb I cruised into Tanah Rata and did not want to stop.

I stopped at the parked Ranger and called my wife to ask whether they wanted to go out for breakfast or for me to buy for them. They decided it was still cold, it was already 0930, to get out and instead of putting the bike in the Ranger and drive I cycled into Tanah Rata to get breakfast. Getting a decent healthy breakfast at Tanah Rata was really a challenge for me. People in Cameron Highland either have Nasi Lemak or Roti Canai for breakfast. I stopped at the mini Pasar Minggu and bought a few kueh, stopped at the sundry shop to get newspapers and cycled back to the Ranger. This time I packed the bike in and considering what I had just bought would not be enough I drove back to town to buy Roti Telor and several nasi lemak. As soon as I got to the apartment it started to rain heavily.

Monday, July 9, 2007

On The Train (Flying Without Wings), July 6, 2007

The usual Friday evening commuters were on the train and I sat in front of a young couple with their baby daughter. Of course once in a while the baby got restless and I did not my mind as I love to see her beautiful face. As any baby her age she was an adventurer that would like to discover new things. I am not sure whether the ride was her first but judging from her reaction it was not. I still remember taking the kids on their first long distance ride. They could not sit still even a minute unless they were sleeping. As good as any baby she was playful and did not afraid of anybody. She will grow up to be a very confident girl. Of course talking about her reminded me about my own children and entertaining the notion that time was really flying passed me. All of a sudden Along had just celebrated his 19th birthday and Mar going to be five this weekend. In Along’s early years we shared a lot of things together good and bad, pleasant and discomfort. We got through all those unscathed and surely both of us would cherish the experience and moment. The song ‘When I See You Smile’ by ‘Bad English’ sums up the whole thing for me of the experience.

On The Train (Knowledge in Action), July 3 2007

The realization that we are actually in the fourth year of our project really surprised me today. From the inception and conceptualization of the idea, project scoping, RFP preparation, vendor evaluation to the current state of the implementation no wonder the sign of fatigue exist among the project team members. The faces in the project team changed overtime and the problems that we faced and currently facing came in almost several forms. Nevertheless most of us still believe in the project and the benefit that it would bring to the organization. We are still committed. The human dynamic and the learning journey that we are in now is something that I really want to talk about here. From the point of view of subject domain knowledge we have learned tremendously. Our contribution to the development of competency level of the subject matter I would say is at the highest level. We were involved through the entire value chain of the knowledge cycle. We acquire knowledge from different sources like reading, research, workshop, learning from the experts, benchmarking visits, on the job training. The whole bit of learning before, learning during and learning after. At the other end of the spectrum we also created a lot of knowledge to bring about collective organizational knowledge acquisition. The knowledge are embedded within our processes, systems, artifacts and collaborative mechanisms, like the taskforce, meetings, presentations and briefing, that we are part off. All these I believe, without us really account for them or even realization is valuable to the organization. Someone may ask what all these have got to do to the bottomline of the organization? On the surface probably no but on close scrutiny maybe worth the whole organization.

Mistakes and problems, issues if you term them as such, spread faster in the organization. People talked about them and would remember them better and would learn from them. Of course if we are not careful we created wrong perception. This is what happened to our project and hopefully the rest of the organization would indeed learn together with us. The pressure on us in our efforts to resolve the problems and be successful created an opportunity for us to be innovative and creative. By necessity the situation forces us to think and learn beyond what we know. In the end we learned in practice the idea of allowing room for ‘organized ‘chaos, if there is such a thing, to happen.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

On The Train (The worst train service in the world?), July 2, 2007

I was really pissed off with the missing Seremban train. My being pissed of was because of the David Cooperfield performance of the train as well as I felt my body was aching due to potential flu. The worse was waiting for me on the train not only the train was sardine can, yet again, but it was also a very hot sardine can. The aircon was pitiful only available in a third world country. With the current rapid development in these countries this aircon could be even second class there. The only consolation for me was that hoping the heat would sweat out my cold, but I knew I was asking too much. For KTMB even asking for the worst to be good, positive, also turn out to be even worse. That’s how ridiculous KTMB Komuter is.

I read an email posting, actually he posted it in the form of questions, from my friend that whenever he is out he never failed to get angry at the attitude of all around him. His examples were eating at restaurant or any eating places, his endless incompetent contractors, and us turning into another being when we were behind the steering wheel. It is the same thing with KTM Komuter. The incidence of missing train and bad aircon, just to cite two, is not new to them and at this rate going to be a permanent feature of their service.

Monday, July 2, 2007

On The Train (Knowledge is contextual), June 28, 2007

I was late again and again took the same 2209 train home. However, today the crowd was bigger. My bet is not because of them being late or most of them decided to go home late but one Seremban train went missing from the schedule. The other problem was that we got the train with the blue compact unpractical seats. I had to squeeze my self to be able to do my writing. It was a bit cramped for me.

Just after Serdang I felt really tired and there was no way I was going to continue to work at home. I decided I needed to be fresh for my presentation the next day.

Sometimes back I wrote about never commuting home with the same set of commuters that I travels with every morning. This could only mean one thing, most of them go home early and I am always late. Today was even more obvious as almost 90 percent of them I have never met on the train before. We even had a DBKL lady officer on board. As predicted the crowd only got thinner at UKM. Talking about UKM station I remember one incident yesterday with three lady commuters, I suspected out towners, attending a training program at one of the bank’s training institutes in Persiaran Institut Bangi. There have gone to MidValley and on the way home was given wrong information at which station to disembark. Of course in their case the nearest and easiest would be Serdang station and the second easiest would be UKM. If you do not know the train route and the stations a long that route you will give wrong information. In this case I was told by the ladies that, in trying to be helpful upon hearing that the girls would want to go to Persiaran Institut Bangi, the guard had a logical answer for a station would be Bangi station. The only problem Bangi station is actually located at Bangi Lama. So the three ladies disembarked with me at Bangi station on the last train wondering aloud as to why there wasn’t any taxi except for ‘teksi sapu’. I overheard them asking the teksi sapu and was surprise that the fare would be RM 30 and even more surprise to hear that their institute actually was further. They mentioned the fare from Serdang would only be RM 10. Luckily the teksi sapu man was actually honest enough and did not try to fleece them. Trying to help them I mentioned to them that they should have gotten down at UKM and it was indeed far to Persiaran Institut. Still not satisfied later they asked me again to confirm and I concurred. In the end rather then risking sleeping, or even worse risking their safety, at the station they went with one of the teksi sapu that I knew. This reminded me of a story of Dave getting down at the worst part of downtown New York because he thought the route would be shorter but could have jeopardize his health if not life. The same here knowledge sharing is contextual. There is no where the guard could have known that the Bangi station was not the right station had not somebody knowledgeable explain that to him or he himself had experience the ride and been to Bangi station.