Seeking the Optimum

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It has been one year with its fair share of hills and valleys, but I am truly grateful for every experience. So recently I’ve been thinking about something (and this is going to be a bit engineer-ish so bear with me). As engineers we don’t always seek the “perfect” solution. Most often than not, we seek the optimum because we understand that it’s not always one input variable that results in one output variable. Variables interact with each other positively or negatively, and some tend to offset the effect of others so the result isn’t always what we expect. Also, we always work within certain limitations (of budget, or size, or complexity, or computational power).

So let’s say we’re trying to design a building. Engineers seek to optimize the amount of sunshine going into a certain room. Why don’t we just maximize it? Put french windows across every single face of the room? The more natural light, the better the lighting during the day, the less we spend on powering light fixtures, right? But sunlight doesn’t enter the room alone. It comes in with heat. So the more light that comes in, the more heat accompanies it, and the cooling requirements in terms of A.C.s go up, so maximizing natural light indefinitely isn’t a practical option. In other words, we would need to optimize.

What does that have to do with situations in our life? This idea of optimization has made me think of how we always seek the ‘ideal’ situation, and we might get disappointed when reality doesn’t reflect our opinion of what’s ideal. But the moment we really look into it, we might realize that maybe it’s true our situation is not ideal, but it is the optimum for us.
Think about it and leave your comments below.


If Every Action has an Opposite Reaction

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In physics, one common question is, If every action has an equal and opposite reaction why don’t they cancel out? The main reason is because they are acting on two different objects.
In social dynamics, every action does not necessary have an equal and opposite reaction in the first place and even if it did exist they are both related to different people so the action (or reaction) force gets amplified or diminished based on individual factors like the person’s background, personality, etc…
For instance, you do something nice for somebody (action). You expect them to thank you at the same magnitude of the thing you did for them (reaction). But they don’t because of some reason, maybe they are not used to show gratitude or maybe they think whatever you did was their right. Whatever the reason does that mean that due to the lack of reaction you should stop doing the action?
Not necessary since your action should really be independent of their reaction (the two forces act on different objects or in this case- differpeople). Basically you’ll be held accountable by Allah (SWT) for your own actions, and not other people’s.


Photo credit; Newton’s Cradle by hellolapomme on Flickr

Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text “My Freshman Year”

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So this week’s writing challenge should be fun. “Detail a three to five step story or process, and illustrate each of the steps with something visual.”

I didn’t have to search hard for I once wrote a photo-story about my freshman year at AUS. Now the entire document ran for 22 pages, and consisted 10,000 words so I’m going to limit this post to just a few scenes. Also, the quality of the images isn’t superb as the images were taken somewhere between 2004-2005.

Part 1: The Beginning


When my parents first dropped my brother, SH and I at university, my excitement could not be contained. I thought everything about the university was fabulous. The room was clean, the domed university buildings looked beautiful and the picture of the huge greasy Whopper burger adoring a portion of the cafeteria wall was unmatched. The only nagging worry I had concerned my roommate. Why? I don’t want to elaborate, but let’s just put it this way; the only reason I’m still living with my family in the same house is because they are my family and they have to tolerate me.

Part 2: AUS stands for “Always Under Stress”


I started getting really depressed. Even though people thought I had so many friends, they were just acquaintances really. Things got even worst when we had a holiday because of the bereavement period after the death of Sheikh Zayed (Allah yir7amo). When we returned, we rushed through the courses and each class was extended for ten minutes to make up for the classes that we missed. They were only ten minutes, but schedules got extended so much that a not –so –extreme case was that my Caculus 2 2pm class began at 3pm. The workload was unbearably stressful.

Part 3:  Chemistry was my favorite

During the Spring semester, things were fine. Fine is an understatement. They were the bomb! I had so much fun seriously. During the entire semester, my favorite course was Chemistry 2. Once the professor announced the details of a quiz, and after he had already erased everything from the whiteboard and started with the new chapter, one of the students asked, “Sir, what chapter is the quiz on?”

He gave him one of his tiny smiles and said, “You need calibration.”

There were many stories, but overall, chemistry was my favorite.

Chemistry building
Chemistry building

Part 4: AH – the mic holder

I helped some of the Mass Com students with their movie projects because one of my friends took the Media Production course. I had helped her with her transcript. It was funny, because I added a line in the middle, and then later on, she came to me and said that the professor left her whole transcript and pointed out to my line saying he liked it. He was one of those really demanding professors. He kept on rejecting one of the student’s transcripts (The third friend in the next paragraph) until she made a comedy movie about how the professor kept on rejecting her transcripts…that he liked.

So anyhow, I worked for the movie as a microphone holder, on a Thursday, back in the dorms. It took so long, and I had to stand on my feet for the whole time so by the end of the shooting, my feet were aching. When someone else needed that friend as a microphone girl on Saturday I volunteered to replace her because she had so much work to do. It took so long and I had to return home to do my homework late at night. Then on Sunday a third friend was re-shooting her movie, because it turned out that her microphone was not working. Immediately I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer. This time, they nearly closed the Student Center while we were still inside – that’s how long it took. Then, on Monday my friend (the first one) was shooting the last scenes, starting from 3 pm. While the other two took place in the Leopards’ office, my friend’s took place in the new MCM studio in the Design Building. Later, on Wednesday, I joined them for a few minutes while they were editing the movies, and made sure everybody wrote A – the – mic – holder in the credits.
Then I went to watch the movies when they were being screened in class. I got introduced to the professor, and he told me to change to Mass Communication, and I was like, “No, thank you.” Even though they do have more fun and people say that Mass Comm. suits me better since I love writing…especially with professors who on their first day in that class, had said, “Welcome to the course, where to pass, you have to fail all your other courses.”

AUS MCM studio
AUS MCM studio

Part 5: The Engineering Buildings

I guess every building has its story; the physics building, the chemistry building, the design building. I think it’s about time I talk about the engineering buildings, since they will soon be my permanent residence. The school of engineering lies very far from the rest of the schools. It’s seems to be in a world of its own. There’s something very funny about the engineering buildings; no matter how many engineers the two buildings create, there are so many engineering flaws with them.

For instance,the least you would expect are working vending machines, right? Also, there always seems to be friction between the Electrical and Computer students, as Electrical claim to be more superior than the Computer students. Once, there was a power outage and the computers naturally went off. An electrical engineering student told a computer engineering student, “See? Without us, you people cannot work. “

The CMP student said, “Apparently some people are not doing their work properly.” Which was why there was an outage in the first place.

Part 6: Finally Finals’ week 

The semester was finally coming to an end. This was my calender during that semester.


During Finals’ week, by the time I started studying for my MTH 205, it was 12 am. For the first time in my life, I actually stayed up the whole night. I normally treasured sleep. Even during the international exams back during high school, I never lost sleep because of a final.  By 10 am the next morning, I was a walking zombie. On Sunday, again, I stayed up all night – for the second time in my life.I had NGN 111 at 8 am the following morning, and ECO 201 at 11 am. I came out of the NGN 111 (statistics) exam feeling aweful and making a mental promise that I was not going to stay up again, no matter what the final is, and no matter how little prepared I am. What happened was that in one of the questions, the answer was supposed to be less than 1, and yet I got over 1, so that hinted to me that there was a miscalculation. I had to repeat the entire question, and I was already tired, and couldn’t focus….overall, my paper was a mess. The ECO was challenging, but I was glad when it was over. Since I was still in my first year, a lot of exams were still being done in the Sports complex, and the picture below was one walk to remember.

A walk to remember:The walk away from final exams
A walk to remember: The walk away from final exams

Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text

Just Checkin’

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It is known that in general, girls tend to be more emotional than guys. Actually, some guys have what Hermione Granger would call “the emotional range of a teaspoon” so they can be pretty insensitive to what girls  feel. It partially explains why guys have a higher tendency to play girls than the other way round. They exploit the fact that girls would believe the three-word lies they throw, and then when confronted the guy could say, “Why do girls take everything seriously?”

Well, why do guys turn everything into a game?

One thing I personally like about engineering is how sometimes when you’re given  a problem to solve, you would also be given “another way to check your solution is correct.” So while answering a problem some people end it with a “Check” section, where they take the other method and confirm their answer is correct without having to go through all the steps of their calculations. The purpose of the “Check” section is to help you zoom out and look at the big picture, look at your overall answer, and try to figure out,”Does it make sense?”

So if we’re going to put the two ideas together, girls sometimes need to dissociate themselves from the emotions that drive their actions, and look at something with a level head and an objective mind, “Does it make sense? Is it logical?” Sometimes time would help with the dissociation process but not always. Sometimes the girl will remain biased as long as she is in the situation, which is where family and friends come in. They can sometimes provide a non-biased overview of the whole situation, remove the girl’s rosy shades, and let her look at the situation in all its beautiful – and ugly – colors.

So in other words, we sometimes need a “Check” section while facing the problems in our lives, where a third party provides input and answers questions such as, “Does it make sense? It is logical? How can I know?”

And this note is what happens when I am supposed to be studying for a final exam tomorrow.

Idea that inspired the post
Idea that inspired the post