Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Ring & The Crown

What a fitting & spectacular farewell. It’s finally over. 10 years after we first got a glimpse of a bespectacled young Harry Potter with a little lighting shaped scar on his forehead in that cupboard under the stairs at No: 4 Privet Drive, the Harry Potter franchise has finally come to an end with a big bang. The final movie ties up all of the loose ends that the fans were left to wonder about previously and brings a closure for all. The final movie features the trio’s (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) strongest dramatic performances in the entire series, finally producing the most convincing & compelling performances ever. In the midst of schools, adventures, magic & spells, lifelong friendships were forged and we have watched them grown from children to adults, both on screen and in real life. The trio have matured as actors and grown into their respective roles. There is a lot of action in this final film installment, but its strength lies in its emotional core – the story of bravery, love & hope in times of darkness & desperation.

The set designs are lovely and the film takes you on a journey of stunning visuals and showy special effects. The escape from Gringott’s bank vaults on the back of a beautifully rendered dragon, the stone knights that comes to life, the shimmering puddles of enchantments around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, Hogwarts buildings & bridges being flattened, Neville Longbottom slaughtering Nagini; that last Horcruxe with the Gryffindor sword and the relentless onslaught of attacks from the DeathEaters hell bent in getting in are all the breathtaking moments. Then there was the final kiss that everyone has been waiting for between Ron & Hermione. My only wish was that Neville should have been the one to kill Bellatrix Lestrange who murdered his parents long time ago.

All of the franchise stories were rounded off in such a succinct & perfect way for a whole decade, Harry & his friends have become part of our lives as we look forward to their many adventures and run-ins with the vile dark Lord Voldemort. So goodbye to Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Severus Snape, Reubeus Hagrid, Fred & George Weasley, Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore, Luna Lovegood & Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

i sing for your love

Chelsea FC players during a training session

Captain John Terry salutes the supporters after winning the game

Chelsea's new coach - the good looking Andre Villas-Boas

OK , so I have missed the one & only opportunity to watched The Reds play in Malaysia…but GOD have compensated me in another handsome way. Natalie got 2 FOC tickets worth RM108 to watch The Blues take on our very own Malaysian Team. You see, I’m a diehard fan of Liverpool while Natalie sings Chelsea! Chelsea! every day. We make a pact that Natalie will accompany me to watch The Kops played and I will accompany Natalie to watch the boys from Stamford Bridge in action. I cannot pass on this great chance to be in the stadium to watch a world class football team in action...even though I am not a Chelsea fan. And I was not disappointed. I had a great time :) It was truly rewarding. We got a good seating place in the middle section; directly facing the pitch. I cheered, I roared, I yelled, I jumped out from my seat, I clapped both of my hands, I did the Mexican Wave…every time a Malaysian player touches the ball. Seriously, I think I saw a different side of me :) so spontaneous and cute. I guess I can feel the energy, the crowd, the adrenalin rush, the excitement, the atmosphere, the vibration that prompted me for doing so. Being in the stadium is a totally different kind of feeling compare to watching the action on the TV. Seriously, our local boys did very well in defending their turfs, the goalkeeper was excellent in making many saves…and of course like a typical Malaysian team, they also didn’t create that many chances to score. I am sure all of the Chelsea diehard fans who came to watch the game that night were very disappointed with the 1 – 0 score line…since Arsenal have set the high benchmark by beating Team Malaysia 4 – 0 and Liverpool maul the team apart with a thumping 6 – 3.

The English giants Chelsea with star-studded players who are all millionaires failed to shine under their new & young boss Andre Villas-Boas. It was a dull affair with Chelsea rarely creating many chances. Unlike their rivals Arsenal and Liverpool, who handed the Malaysian national side a firm beating, Chelsea struggled to break down a stubborn Malaysian Selection side made up of mostly Olympic Under-23 players. It took a controversial goal by Didier Drogba in the 80th minute, from a free-kick, as the London side belatedly broke the deadlock. However, replays showed that the ball, which hit the goal post before bouncing off Malaysian goalie Mohamad Izham Tarmizia's back, did not cross the line. The referee was just doing Chelsea a favor. It will be embarassing if the Blues didn't win the game. And as for Fernando Torres, as usual...he has yet to find his form back yet. He is still firing blanks. Luckily he was sold off to Chelsea for 50million pounds, thus giving Liverpool the sufficient funds to purchase strikers Andy Carroll & Luis Suarez.

The only thing that annoyed me during the whole game was the racial abuse towards Chelsea’s Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun (a former Liverpool player too). The sour point of the match, however, was the constant booing of Benayoun - the first Israeli to play in Malaysia in the first-half of the game. Well, that’s because the Muslim-majority in Malaysia is an ardent supporter of the Palestinians and has no diplomatic relations with Israel. It’s very unfair because at the end of the day; he is a footballer, football is his rice bowl & his pride and he is not representing the views of his country’s government. I find them to be childish and intolerant.

So, when the new season of the EPL opens on the August 13th...I can expect Chelsea will be struggling to establish themselves in the game with the rise of Manchester United & Manchester City, with Liverpool’s new look and Arsenal’s credentials. Go Liverpool :) And I really have to made a trip to Anfield one day.

4 Seasons

Edward drop da’bomb and left the French on Wednesday :( We have a very good farewell lunch together at Pizza Hut and...yeah, I feel a little sad. I understand if the job is not up to our expectations, I understand that at times it is very hard to adapt to the system & the environment, I also understand how’s frustrating it is that when the seniors; employees who have been working for a very very long time with the French refuse to try new things, to move out from their comfort zones or at the very least to try to hear out on our side of justification in our actions instead of cancelling or totally blocking us out.

I hope with Edward’s departure…it will not be the start of a bigger wave of more people leaving the company. I hope it will not trigger a storm. I remembered very well during last year…during the reign of Snow Petrol…many people have left…one by one…Faye, Lisa, Alison, Patrick, Natalie, Matte-Marit, Elena, Jessie & Lyan.

I know that the job is hard but I look at it as an opportunity to work on the most fascinating cases, with the most amazing people, at the most challenging times, in the most fluctuating trends of our times. I have to look at it that way. There’s really no option isn’t it. If I didn’t look at it that way, how could I do it? I have my share of struggles too. Real life is never comfortable, but that’s how we live; by having challenges. It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.

I agree that although stress is necessary to give us that extra oomph in our lives, excessive stress is, however can be counterproductive. There will always be pressure at work and in our daily lives, therefore stress is unavoidable. But stress per se is not the problem. The problem only arrives when it gets out of control. Life is such that there are good days & bad days but the golden rule is to balance each negative thoughts with positive thoughts. And for that, I prayed and I thanked GOD everyday for channeling the positive energy into me so I can preserve, to think objectively & positively, to have that inner peace & calmess to overcome the every day challenges and obstacles.

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. And dance like no one’s watching – UnKnown.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

the tour

Yup, that is my country’s 6th Prime Minister meeting up with Pope Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside of Rome. Yes, it goes to show to the whole world that my country is a peaceful, moderate and multi-racial society where everyone gets along well with each other in our daily lives. However, if we look deep enough – I still find unfairness in the Allah issue (delays in moving forward the legal tussles over the use of the word “Allah” to also refer to the Christian God which has also stirred anger among the community), the seizure and desecration of the Bible in BM (Putrajaya had limited the import of the Alkitab from Indonesia, with the seizure of 35,100 copies of the Malay-language bibles), difficulties in obtaining approvals for the construction of Churches, removal of the Cross from Missionary School etc. I don’t know…voting for the government or the opposition in the next general election…there will still be no concrete solutions to these problems.

the chase begins. the chase continues. the chase ends.

Oh, this is so cool – Japan became the first country from Asia to win the Women’s World Cup :) How great is that! The Japanese girls beat Team USA 3 – 1 on a penalty shootout after both of the team had finished 2 – 2 in extra time. The Japanese defied the odds to lift the World Cup just 6 months after their country’s men had captured a record fourth Asian Title. Yes, we Asians tend to have a much shorter hands & legs, a smaller body frame – but with passion, determination, commitment, well-planned strategies & a strong will – we too can excel in everything we do. Japan has completed an astonishing run that overshadow any achievement made by an Asian football team at any level.

This is such good news for Japan as it battles to recover from March’s huge earthquake and tsunami that hit the country. The March 11th disaster in the northwest destroyed homes, left 21,000 people dead or missing and sparked a nuclear crisis; since Chernobyl in 1986. It has been a humbling event for everyone over the world. But I know that the Japanese will rise up to the challenge and build back their nation stronger than before.

Sometimes I wonder if we will ever stop getting bad news. I was completely shaken into perspective. Life is really short. We’ll never know when we would go for a holiday and wind up dead in a catastrophe. We’ll never know if a disease may suddenly strike us and change our lives forever. We’ll never know if there’s still “tomorrow”. This sentence has never felt more real to me than right now.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

a sing-off

Malaysian football fans cheer for Malaysia and Liverpool ahead of their friendly match

Liverpool's Charlie Adam (L) celebrates with teammate Joe Cole after scoring against Team Malaysia

Malaysia players celebrate after Shafiq Rahim (C) scored against Liverpool

Liverpool beats Malaysia 6-3 on Asian tour :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Liverpool in Malaysia

I was just this close…Natalie & myself have ask Singrid (since Singrid is buying for her whole family) to help us to buy the tickets for the Liverpool vs. Malaysia match that will be held tonight at the Bukit Jalil Stadium. Unfortunately, Singrid lost the tickets before she could even pass the tickets to Natalie & myself because she sent her car for a car wash (Singrid put the tickets at the driver's seat door side compartment) and only realize that the tickets were missing the day after. Singrid search for the tickets frantically...but Natalie & myself have confirmed that it has been stolen by those car wash people. I am really was just this close to watch my team played live :( now, I can only see and admire the lads via pictures provided by the media. I mean; events do come and go, but I believe that there are moments in life that we should NOT miss. And to me, THIS is one of them.

Next month will be the start of the new EPL season – the team have gone on a major shopping spree and bought new, young & most importantly English home-grown players (the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, & Stewart Downing) to add value to the team and to chase for Domestic & European glory. Neighbors Arsenal has make a purchase of Gael Clichy while Manchester United have signed up Phil Jones, Ashley Young, David de Gea and the possibility of Wesley Sneijder. Chelsea and Manchester City have yet to make any new, official and confirmed announcements yet. This new season is so going to be interesting and kick-ass all the way.

July Earth

Furniture Fair (1st July – 14th July 2011)
Forecast Sales: RM100K
Actual Sales: RM137K.
Oklah, better than nothing...but with these additional sales figures, still the sales graph cannot shoot up high. It's frustrating. All I can do is to continue to improve the business the best that I can and also as a person, which is what I intend to do as well.

There are so many changes going on in the company these days. First, 8 selected stores underwent a major revamping process. All of the permanent spaces have been shrunk. I was quite badly hit because all of my consignment counters area have become smaller, two have been totally removed from the selling floor and some have been move from the front section to the back section. The objective is to make more promotion spaces because the top management believe that 2 weeks of big & strong promotion at prominent spaces can generate double or even triple up the sales compare to the permanent area. Secondly, there is the new set of Golden Rules that is being implemented where it will dictates the location & type of display for mailer items. This is to ensure better visibility, more focus and standardization across all stores. Thirdly, a bi-weekly mailer have changed into a weekly mailer. I mean, it's obviously scary, change is always scary because all of these are big projects with a number of restrictions where as all this while, we have enjoyed complete freedom and control. Now, all of a sudden, the control is not in my hands but in someone's else. But I also feel very excited and I feel like I'm entering a new chapter and getting a fresh start because this will help to attract back the customers, snatch back our lost market shares, build back our price image, reinforce our bargaining capabilities with our suppliers and to increase our turnover...but there is still a little bit of doubtfulness in me because the results have yet to be seen. Of course, I also cannot expect to see tremendous growth immediately as well. For furniture, it has been’s not like food where it’s good to have rotation on a weekly basis. For furniture, it’s tough because customer behavior tend to be different. For the first week, most customers will come, see the furniture, touch the furniture, go back and think whether they need it or not, then they only come back on the second week to make a purchase. With a weekly mailer, customers will lost the opportunity to buy. Of course, with this disadvantage, I have also learn to improvise, by extending the PSP into another week and reminding the store team to continue to display the stocks at the selected TGs and podiums. Yes, I cannot judge it as a hindrance and give it a final conclusion that this plan cannot work but to give it a chance to see the final outcome to judge for myself. I’m ok with this entire new business module except for the consignment counters. Yes, I agree that we cannot let the suppliers run our business, but I also believe that, if we can have a certain level of control at the HQ level, it still will be an advantage to our side. We are not the expert in big furniture, therefore we need to outsource to those who are the specialist. My consignment counters are my point of blue ocean strategy. Customers can get everything under one roof. They buy their big & small furniture at one go, in 1 location. The big furniture compliments well with the knock-down furniture. They are like a couple. Look at the English recent catalogue...they are also copying me again. That proves, our consignment counter business can works. Nonetheless, since there’s so much of good positivity that is floating around and yet I still don’t feel so good about this decision...I guess I just have to wait and see.

Then there are the rumors of a new re-structuring plan of the organization chart that is going on…to be more honest about it, I’m afraid and I refuse to go down a road that I know that I can’t perform well...where I have to clean up the shit again and revive back the department. I'm tired. Or perhaps, I really enjoy being in a department that have all of the benefits & authority. Well, what it means right now is that I’ve to perform better where I am. I need to push my portfolio turnover to the max. This is where the large chunk of my investment lives. I am not going to let it to bother me though. I will just do my part.

The end of this month will mark my 3 years in this role. It’s all building up to get me to somewhere which I'm not really sure where is it about….and careers isn’t something that is tangible like the bowl on my lap right now. It only exists when I’m old and when I look back at what I’ve accomplished over the years. I hope this will takes me off to somewhere. I don’t know where I’m going but I’ve got a fair number of goals and objectives that I want to reach. At this point, however, I’m trying to define a bit more of what I want, as opposed to adapting to what other people want.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boot of justice

Bersih 2.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur – if they were given the Stadium in the first place to voice out their concerns…it would not have come to this. The Prime Minister said go to the stadium to rally…but the management of the stadium has turned down Bersih’s application to use the venue. Then the Information, Communication & Culture Minister said Bersih as an illegal entity would not be allowed to use any of the government stadiums…so where is the public going to voice out their concerns? Here cannot, there cannot. Where are they going to go? Sigh. I guess whoever have participated in this event can consider it a sucess because it got everyone looking up, be more aware, be more responsive and to start to make that important change.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Yang Terlarang

Bersih 2.0 July 9th Rally - All chairman & rally organizer Datuk S. Ambiga wants to do is to march to the palace to send a memorandum to the King seeking for a clean & fair election; independent of any political parties. Their demands included Cleaning up the electoral roll, Minimum 21 days of campaigning period, The use of indelible ink, Free & fair access to the media, Stopping corruption, Strengthening public institutions, Reforming the postal ballot system etc. Sounds reasonable right?
(Bersih is a movement that consists of a broad but loose coalition of groups, including non-governmental organizations)

Then things began to blow out of proportion because the Opposition parties began to show support for the rally while Perkasa and UMNO Youth decide to counter demonstrate to protest against the Bersih 2.0 rally. Perkasa wants to counter this because it thinks it suspects a hidden motive is behind it. It accuses Bersih of challenging the country’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, UMNO Youth protested that Bersih should have a meeting with the Election Commission instead of holding a rally. And of course our present government is very worried…what if the scenario of the Arab Spring type of demonstrations that forced out a string of powerful leaders like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak & Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and which is currently trying to chuck out Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi & Yemen’s Abdullah Salleh finding its way to Malaysia? So the Government have asked Bersih to rally in a stadium instead…and the stadium management refuse to grant any of the organizers any permits to rally…so where is Bersih going to rally peacefully? Instead it just makes the people feel ire towards the government.

Nonetheless, I believe that everyone has the freedom of expression and the right to protest – these are the basic principles of democracy after all. And I also believed that Bersih’s electoral reforms good intentions have been hijacked by other political parties for their own personal agenda. Yes, the Opposition has won big in the last 2008 General Elections…but that doesn’t mean that our system is perfect, there is always room for improvement.

Without the chaos, the anger, the police barricades, the rowdy protesters, the water cannon, the tear gas, the arrest – it would not be a success. So, it all comes down to that.

I’m struggling trying to understand the atmosphere that surrounds the coming general elections. I can understand why there are people out there that are so unhappy with the current government. I also can understand why people think that an alternative party is the solution to all the mistakes that the current government has made. Which government in the world has never made mistakes? Which solution to a problem doesn’t bring along with it a string of implications? Is fixing the “problem” really that simple? On the other hand, I do appreciate that an alternative party will give the current political system a shake -up. I like knowing that there are debates in the system. Arguments are good. That means decisions go through a comprehensive thought and argument before they are being made, and are not set by one sided opinions. We all know that no one person consistently makes all the right decisions by himself/herself. There is more check & balance.

So, who will I vote for? I guess I’m going to vote for the team that I believe can “work” for the residents. We don’t need promises and words. We need folks who CAN deliver. The team with the dreams and the heart and the precise eye for problems & solutions is wonderful and admirable, but if I think that they are not resourceful or strong enough to take Malaysia to the next level, the team won’t get my vote.

I have to admit that I don’t really care which party wins. To me, the fact that there is so much debate and awareness for this coming general election is heartening. It means that our people have woken up and are taking charge of their own destiny. That’s the most important thing we need for our country. We’re on to good things ahead.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything

Attended S’s engagement dinner last night. It was indeed a very pleasant surprise because all of a sudden S informed me that she is getting engaged and the wedding will be held in November this year. Prior to that, I have not heard that S is dating or seeing anyone. S was so beautiful last night. She was decked in gold from head to toe and her sari; drop dead amazing. Again, I love the Indian's culture of colors. S was happy…but I also could sense as this was an arranged marriage; arranged by her doting parents...where S and her fiance only dated for several months…I could feel that she was somehow rather unsure. But I guess for S…she knows what are her priorities and I know she placed her family above all else. And Jananee (a former high school friend) was in attendance as well. Offcially a doctor right now...medicine is a serious & hard field, don't let the TV series (ER, House, Private Practice & Grey's Anatomy) fool you...there are no glam to it at all.

As for me, I haven’t found my best friend and my romantic soul mate all rolled up in one yet. Let nature takes its own course…but for the time being I am happy as I am, I don’t need anything to confirm how happy I am :)

I know that I’m no longer a social butterfly these days…but it's not that I don't like people. It's just that certain events have made me poignantly aware of how short life is and that I shouldn't waste my time. Is it so wrong that I'd rather be alone than spend time with humorless people lacking in intellect, emotion, empathy or character? Ok, maybe I'm getting old. Recent conversations with friends are convincing me that this may be much harder than I have realized and there remains a fairly decent chance that I will die alone :) Which I hope not. Even though, if I do not have my other half with me in the future...having good companions is more than good enough. When I was younger, I meet up with vastly different kinds of men because I wanted to expose myself to a diasporas of individual personalities. Now that I'm older, I tend to find myself to be far more selective. Or maybe the proper word is discerning :)

Nick Hornby once said that it was no good pretending any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn't even speak to each other if they met at a party. A small part of me tends to agree with this sentiment. Especially at my age, the idea of being in a relationship with someone who shares my interests and similar perspective on life is warmly comforting. I tend to be very passionate about the things I love so there's a large part of me that wants to be with a men with whom when I read a great book, hear an amazing song, watch a deeply moving film or discover a new restaurant, I can run up to him excitedly and yell, "Look what I found! This is US!"

On the other hand, doesn't every couple start off by talking about all of the things that they have in common? And if the relationship doesn't last, don't you just end up thinking about all the ways you were so different? More importantly, isn't life much more interesting being with someone who not only has different interests but also brings a different perspective to life? When it comes to the subject of compatibility, I confess to being as confused as I have ever been :) We get together with people because they're the same or because they're different, and in the end we break up with them for exactly the same reasons. Now granted, there are many other aspects besides compatibility that are important to any healthy relationship. However, when you're single and thinking about whom you'd like to date, compatibility tends to take on a heavier weight.

I've always not been fairly good at meeting men. At the same time, I've always been fairly good at being alone. Maybe a little too good. While I am an avowed romantic who firmly believes that no man is an island, I also find myself thinking more and more at this age that perhaps the ideal goal of a relationship between two people isn't a merging of two individuals. On the contrary, maybe the healthiest long-term relationships accept that, even between the closest people, infinite distances exist and the key to happiness is to not only wholly love someone but also to be comfortable with the great expanse that inherently lies between you. Then again, maybe I just think too damn much :)

Bliss is within you, not outside of you

Staring out at the grass - I know that this is weird… but I do take this sort of Me Time activity (one of it) very seriously. I usually do it in the morning before I leave for work, while driving or when I’ve been stuck to the computer for hours on end, and at times I will try to find the opportunity to walk away to chill out for a bit :)

Deadlines are deadlines, and a couple of minutes aren’t going to kill or bring down the whole network of suppliers & stores. It only takes about 1-2 minutes to just stare out to the green for awhile, and just think about what I’m looking at.
Like Oh! Look at how green the grass is!
Look at the beautiful sunshine today!
What wonderful weather we have!
What an awesome puddle that is to jump in!

The birds are flying so freely!

The open space is so calm & soothing!
How lucky I am to just have this MOMENT and be IN IT :)

And besides, it helps to freshen up the tired eyes and keeps them healthy too :)

It’s a bit crazy I know…but it helps me to look at nature and to think of all that I have, instead of all of my impending deadlines and whatnot bla bla bla bla bla.
[Note: Staring out of the office window into the blue sky doesn't help as much; it's a bit depressing cos you feel you want to be outta there! But still it does help a little bit]

I always try to slow myself down these days and try to enjoy the moment. By having this Me Time, I feel very happy and peaceful. I felt balanced :)

And I have learned that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. The grass is greenest where it is watered :)