Red Hot Chili Peppers, and all about being a PhD student

It has been a vivacious start to 2018, and I have been immersed in my studies over the last few weeks, teeing up for another set of courses this winter semester while putting the last touches on a research paper I intend to publish very soon.

Given my absence for so long, I was quite torn about what to post on my return but it didn’t take me long to realize that the answer sat in plain view. So today, I intend to provide all of you a brief glimpse of my daily life, and exactly what keeps me so busy. Let’s dig in.

We begin with the usual wake up call at 7 a.m in the morning, a goal which in the immediate outset of things provides for varying rates of success depending on the season. With winter, it is an issue of hustle, when the purpose of an alarm is lost over several snooze snippets, resulting in a hustle to get to classes on time. With summer, it is an issue of hassle, when the purpose of an alarm is moot, thanks to my bed bathing in sunlight in the early hours of 5 a.m. in the morning. Welcome to Edmonton!

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Much like the amusing contrast of my forgetful friend Bucky Barnes’ season oriented fashion and epithet, the ritual of morning alarms in my life is largely hyperbolic in nature. 

Now, assuming things do go as planned, I begin my day at the university around 9 a.m. in the morning, jogging along to my courses or engaging in research otherwise, with a finely conditioned but old package of a portable workspace aka my Lenovo G505s laptop. Ideally, I finish at 5 p.m. returning home to proceed with dinner, going to the gym, and engaging in my hobbies (writing, art, music) before heading to bed by around midnight.

Now, with that being said, we all know the obvious outcome: when it comes to life, things never go as planned…


I often relate my academic life to the act of cooking; I enjoy both equally. While I do love my Indian spices, I have no problem flirting with various cuisines from around the world. In the end, cooking is often about finding a delicate balance, and most importantly, maintaining it.

Unless I’m asking to be caught at the end of a Gordon Ramsay rant. 

It is the same with my studies. Not one to be attached to a single subject of interest, I’m a fan of interdisciplinary science; a notion that parallels my current research on “hot electrons,” but more about that another time. Ultimately though, it is all about discipline, organization, and a strong ability to multi-task.

Thankfully, I do not lack in any of these categories but that doesn’t take away the usual stumbling blocks that appear every now and then. In that vein, with my PhD, it is all about juggling my degree requirements while simultaneously building towards my goals. This largely revolves around  amassing a wealth of scientific publications, advancing my resume, cooking up original research, and last but not least, having fun while avoiding stress as much as possible. All in all, it is a business modeled around a philosophy of accretion. If you have the right balance, you’ve pretty much hit jackpot. Of course, this is not what happens in most cases, and so while I’m strung up like Anakin Skywalker dealing with an annoying Jedi Council,


two good friends of mine provide some much needed reminders and send me on my way,

Thus, I survive by running a strict diet of activities removed from my academic pursuits, and by this I mean indulging avidly in my long-term pursuit of becoming a writer/mangaka, not to mention catching up on all the reading and fun one tends to miss while at university.

Where does this cycle end? Truth is, in my case, it probably never will, and with time I’ve grown to enjoy it more than anything else. While the journey has its fair share of ups and down, at the end of the day, when I take a step back and think about it, my mind finds rest within the reality that it is no different from cooking a new recipe and making sure to have a healthy balance of spices (especially in the case of adding chilies, where one should only rub their eyes after having washed their hands…)

It took over an hour of suppressed pain before my eyes cleared up. 

Keeping with that attitude, I hope to add to my list of goals, a steady accretion of weekly blog posts. Winter break oversaw a rapid increase in viewer traffic on my blog,


leaving me invigorated with new strategies and topics to engage all of you, my wonderful readers in what I hope will be a wonderful 2018! So, until next week, toodles!


It Is What It Is…

Hello everybody! It’s been a busy week for me at the U. It’s great to be back in what is a break from a seemingly endless cycle of analyzing research papers mixed in with the occasional stupor of staring into empty space and contemplating the meaning of it all, in what is an effective cocktail of scientific education that is my PhD so far. In fact, the busy-ness of it all has molded into a slightly routine affair over the last eight years of my life in academia, and that’s exactly what I’m here to talk about today. Isn’t that great?

At the ripe age of 26, I already feel like an old man running through the wheeling seasons of the years. With each year’s passing, I bear witness and welcome the arrival of a fresh batch (and ready for the picking) of students jumping out of the proverbial frying pan that is high school and unknowingly (but optimistic nonetheless) into the fire that is university. At the same time, I bid farewell and sink into a boat of nostalgia on those good friends who continue onward in their singular adventures beyond university, and wherever they deem life should take them.

University, in many ways, can be likened to a pit-stop. It is not a necessary one, and for the ones who are offered the chance for it and take that opportunity, it may be a short or long-term visit. Some could even consider it to be a rite of passage while for others it may be a trial through fire or as my good friend Zuko would put it, an Agni Kai!


But beyond everything else, university is an experience. With every end that comes to pass, there is the beginning of something new right around the corner, and amidst a plethora of mixed emotions: laughter, sadness, anger, relief, melancholy, love…there endure the countless memories rendered complete in an unforgettable experience.

I’ve had my fair share of adventures over the last eight years, going back to 2009 and all the way to where I’m now in 2017, comprising my time at university. I can relate various stories in what would be a compendium of tales to share since then. But that would be too long of a story to tell so in my own liking as your “griot”, I will share what I can of what was (and to a certain degree still is) my life as a student at university.

YEAR 1: In search of “One Piece,” the grand adventure begins.

Embarking on an adventure was really what it was. I left my family, and set foot in Canada in 2009, beginning the first year of my studies at the University of Alberta. It all started with me getting lost on my first day of classes, and running about the streets trying to find my way to the right building, before eventually settling into a class only to realize it may not be the right one. An adventure that began with a misleading compass, but eventually finding the right pinch of curiosity to spur me onward to an endless horizon that sprang forth ahead of me in the dreams that I wished to seek. That was pretty much my first year: coming to terms with the fact that the journey was real.

YEAR 2: Facing my first COLOSSAL obstacle.

An adventure without any obstacle is quite boring, and as the second year of courses came around, I would finally face the first of my many challenges, mostly revolving around balancing my studies while working part-time. I would learn that the world is bigger than what I had previously thought. I would meet others of great intellect in my field, and at many times feel dwarfed by my own inabilities. But most of all, I would learn to never give up. No matter how colossal the problems felt in the heat of the moment, I would strive to be strong for the sake of achieving my dreams.

YEAR 3: Sinking In Self-Doubt


With the progression of every year, university grew into an endless stream of assignments, and I struggled to stay afloat. Bearing the brunt of my own personal struggles in an identity crisis that followed in the wake of a lost friend, I began to view the world differently. Where there were dreams and a never give up attitude, I began feeling the fatigue of it all, sinking into the tediousness, unable to connect with the original purpose that had brought me to university.

YEAR 4: Getting Back On My Feet By Letting Go

You can always count on family to be there for you when in trouble. I had my father on that day when I just needed to let go of it all, and while there wasn’t much to be said, I realized that the doubt that seemed to plague me was nothing more than an elusive catalyst that motivated me to keep pushing, and understand that there is nothing wrong with redefining myself and my dreams. I would soon find myself sitting in a packed auditorium of students waiting to receive my undergraduate degree. I can’t say I was happy. Things hadn’t gone the way I had hoped in the years prior, but the spirit still remained in me to keep seeking an answer beyond the persistent questions. University, in that manner, was as much about asking questions in class, as well as about myself, my dreams, and what really made me happy. I found my answers by letting go and taking a break.

YEAR 5: Trying Something New


Learning to let go was difficult, but I eventually got my way about doing it. Doing so, I redefined my road, trying something new in my life for a change. I found a partner to join in my adventure, meeting as we did in the crossroads. Moving forward to the future, I reassessed my dreams, thinking back to what I had lost and what I had gained through my experiences over the last four years, and finding new purpose in making my own path I decided to pursue graduate studies in a field and topic of my own interest.

YEAR 6 & 7: Reinvigorated Purpose


The following two years would pass in bliss as I engaged my Masters degree (which was VERY different from doing an undergraduate degree). There was a measure of intellectual freedom and space that followed with my graduate studies which was quite unlike the hectic lifestyle of my undergraduate years. I made the most of it. Of course there were ups and downs but for some reason things just didn’t seem as difficult as before. In retrospect, I could attribute this to the fact that I believed that nothing could seem to phase me worse than my own self-doubt, something that I had learned to overcome and master. With that being said, the road only stretched ever forward, inviting me to reach for the stars.

YEAR 8: From Our Last Summer To A Little Bit Of Everything


And so, I arrive at where I am now.  Finding a particular love in writing, I push forward to a bigger goal to be a science communicator, and toward a long-term goal in retiring as a writer and mangaka. I chose my PhD to be a platform for that dream, and in the grand scheme of things that is what motivates me. In this vein, university, FOR ME, has essentially been a proving ground of sorts to find my place.

My journey here is yet to end, with three more years ahead during which I hope to finish my PhD degree. I look forward to it. I say that not because the story will end soon but rather with the realization that as long as I keep pursuing my dreams, wherever they may take me, the journey is itself the destination. With that thought, I find my own resolve to put my all into what I love, reminiscing every once in a while happily on the memories of our last summer, and enjoying a little bit of everything that life has to offer.

Braving The Storm

It has been a while since my last post. I have been busy all the while braving the storm that has been my PhD studies. While I’m only three months into my new degree (and a good 3.75 years remain until its completion), not surprisingly enough, I’m swamped with work. Thankfully, it is the enjoyable kind that comes with a research topic of my liking.

Nevertheless, it has been slightly frustrating that I haven’t had the chance to post as frequently as I would have wished on the blog. 

But, the prodigal has now returned, and he does hope that he would be able to keep up with his blog posts as he deems it to be in the coming weeks. The brief respite that Halloween offered came with a sweet dose of playfulness as I carried out my annual responsibility in scaring the shit out of my girlfriend…
And deservedly getting my ass handed to me afterward. 

Winter is most certainly here as well, the first snowfall caressing Edmonton in what began as a slush soup of snow rain that alerted me of its presence most distinctly through the water that slipped through the newly discovered gaping hole in my shoe. With only a few more weeks to go before classes end for the semester, and the age of final exams to come, I hope to put up a good number of posts that I have kept waiting for too long.

I will begin with keeping my word on the anecdote I wished to write on meteor showers. The Orionid showers occurred just a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to the Geminid showers which will hit in December. Apart from this, I will soon be pulling my book, A Little Bit Of Everything, out of Amazon KDP Select so that I may distribute it through other e-book publisher chains online. The book remains available on Amazon, and hopefully the redistribution will allow for further promotions in the future.

Having closed a chapter of my life with the completion of the book, I’m also working hard on setting the stage for a trifecta of stories that I’m hoping to work on over the next few years. Two of these stories will take the form of comics, for which I have been diligently taking art classes on human anatomy, while the last will be a novel, which remains in the back-burner of ideas, and a whole load of brainstorming.

It is pretty much a blank slate for now, but the emptiness of it evokes the certainty of greater ideas and explosive creativity.

So, for now, I leave you all with this short update as I busy myself with another late night of catching up on my art practice and contemplation on my stories. I hope to have another post up by the end of this week! Until then, toodles!

Getting Fired Up!!

Hi everyone, here’s a quick update!

The last few weeks have been intense, and I’ve been quite busy. Having finally completed the proofreading for my second book, I’m now all set to move into the production phase, beginning with some illustrations.


All art begins with imitation, and as such I have spent the last week pouring over a compendium of images, and ideas I had contemplated for this stage. While progress has been slow (thanks to my perfectionist ideals), I look forward to getting the book out by this fall.

In the meantime,  I also recently finished the three-part series covering various facets on the phenomenon of climate change. The first entry was posted almost a month back on June 25, 2017. Little did I know then that in the days to follow I would successfully secure a research topic for my PhD addressing the very issue I was writing about on my blog. As of now, I have begun my “doctoral” adventures focusing on interdisciplinary research involving “semiconductor mediated artificial photosynthesis…”


In simple terms, my research will involve studying, and creating technologies to assist in the mitigation of steadily increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major global scientific challenge of the 21st century. Carbon capture is an important issue in the context of climate change as well as the looming global energy crisis; my research, will take inspiration from nature, namely the process of natural photosynthesis (the chemical reaction at the basis of life), and mimic the same behavior through electro-mechanical systems of higher efficiency, or “artificial photosynthesis.” If I were to exaggerate slightly, it would be the same as planting artificial trees that are consistently more efficient in helping recycle the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Having spent the last few days reading an assortment of research papers on this topic, and looking like this for the most part of it,


I’m hoping to put my brain to good use, and to a certain measure, come up with something awesome during my degree, so that one day I could celebrate like this,


Beyond all this research business, I still intend to keep up to date with my blog despite my busy schedule. In that vein, my next post will be a book review on Luc Ferry’s,


I’ve also decided to move along from my extensive summaries on Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden.” Instead, I will provide a rich synopsis of the remainder of the book, while skipping on the gory details. This way I can encourage you, my readers, to read the book itself while not giving away the majority of its contents.

So when all is said and done,  I’m fired up for what’s to come in the next few months.


The Pensive Reverie will also continually evolve as I intend to implement a few minor, but significant changes in its content organization. Once again, I thank you all for your patience. The next post should be up very soon!



I’m back!

Hi everyone!

I apologize for the brief absence. The last two weeks have been a hectic affair. It mostly involved me sitting in front of my computer, editing, and re-editing my thesis in what seemed then to be an endless cycle.

All of this contributed to a lack of sleep,


mixed with a great sense of pride, and achievement, as I submitted the final copy of my thesis to the committee today.


Of course, there is still the possibility of future revisions, but the major chunk of editing has been done, and as such it should hopefully be a cake walk from here on. I will be defending my thesis in four weeks, and will be busy with preparations for that particular occasion.

I’ve also begun making my plans for the next phase of my life after the completion of my Masters, which will involve a one-year transition period before I begin my PhD studies in Robotics. It’s an exciting prospect, and I can’t wait to get started.

I now have more time in my hands to play with, and provide for frequent updates on the blog. In my previous post, I’d mentioned that my next critical review would involve the subject of Electricity: Principles, and Applications. I’ve decided instead to tweak the subject matter, and will use my Masters thesis research on a device called the Single Dielectric Barrier Discharge (SDBD) Plasma Actuator (I admit, it’s a mouthful)  as a platform to discuss the topic. The review should be up on the blog by the end of this week!