Sunday, November 30, 2008

Barclaycard

video

Somebody sent me this very interesting commercial for Barclaycard recently, and I liked it so much that I wish to share it with my readers. Watching this video makes me miss life in the UK!


In the SPL, Celtic continued its winning run by defeating Inverness CT 1-0; Maloney (29) scoring the solitary goal.

Arsenal has a crucial game that they just cannot afford to lose - but the worry is that they are facing mighty Chelsea at 1600 GMT today - which is just a couple of hours away. Can we take comfort in Arsene Wenger's words? "We are written off. You cannot say when you are 10 points behind that we are favourites to win the championship, but you can say as well the only way we can get back into it is to believe we can. That is why we want to go into this game on Sunday by believing we can beat them because we know we can. That is all you want your players to do." That mighty word "believe" can weave magic for Arsenal if they believe in themselves. And I believe they can do it! They must!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Words

If one drives along the Federal Highway, one cannot miss seeing the Selangor and Keadilan flags waving themselves proudly as one drives past Shah Alam. The Keadilan Congress is in session – November 29-30, 2008, that's why. I have been reading the many political blogs, more so, since the March 08 elections, and it always entertains me to read stuff that are either smart, stupid, or mundane (which is a polite word for those who are supposedly detached). Still it is noteworthy to mention that I have always found the Keadilan camp’s writings to be more sensible than the BN camp – people like Nik Nazmi and Elizabeth Wong, for example. Remember my earlier entry highlighting the stupidity of our politicians? Dare to venture a guess as to these politicians’ affiliations? I must hasten to add that I am not a member of any political party – so you cannot accuse me of being politically partisan.

But then again, stupidity is not monopolized by the politicians only. I cannot remember where, but I did recall being amused when I stumbled upon an instructive notice that tells of a label on a Superman Halloween costume that read: "Cape does not allow wearer to actually fly." Duh!
But certainly, there are stupid ads a-plenty. I remember radio stations gleefully torturing us with the lunatic and painful-to-the-ear Gintell i-So Shake to Shape commercial sometime this year. Also the aggravating and lame Chicken Rice Shop commercial and the annoying clucking. And on television, that awkward and awful Kolej SEGI commercial featuring Clement Hii. Now you know why they call it the idiot box. Enough said.

It is alright to be stupid – after all, we have the right to want to be different, the right to choose to be stupid. Who are we to judge others? But I digress. We also have ads that mislead, deceive, and lie. As you know, I teach Marketing – and one of my favorite examples of unabashed untruths that I love to cite is Newport’s “AIive with Pleasure” ad campaign. I mean if we know smoking kills, how can we discover pleasure and still stay alive? Double duh!

A 1999 Print Ad
And this intention to mislead, deceive and lie applies to politicians too. We have only to read the shenanigans and trickeries of the previous Selangor state government to understand why BN lost this state.

But again I digress. I had wanted to write about the power of the “word”, and how words can be used correctly and incorrectly to further one’s own personal agenda. We must exercise caution when we utter words because as much as they can inspire and motivate and prompt – there is also the negative side to them – when we speak, words can also incite and inflame and hurt.

Writer Ursula Le Guin did write: To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. (…) (A Few Words to a Young Writer)

By the way, the above from Ursula is an appropriate and fitting excerpt that I had spied on Elizabeth Wong’s blog (http://elizabethwong.wordpress.com/) on November 29, 2008, and which I had copied and I am now reproducing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Recruiting Now!

I have begun to earnestly look for teaching staff for ADP and the next 3 weeks will be filled with interviews and more interviews, and even more interviews. In fact, I am keen to recruit lecturers of all disciplines - this is how dire my need is. But I acknowledge this is not going to be easy since we have tried for many months but nothing came of it. Maybe, I will have better luck to land myself with a good catch of qualified lecturers. Let me qualify "qualified" - qualified in terms of academic qualifications and industry experience, as well as possessing that most important qualification of all: passion!.Many will say this is a tall order - but what the hell, I am game for this kind of challenge!
I just found out that Chee Hong is really into chess! Wow, that's great because it means that I can also start playing chess again. It's been years since I last played the game. It's funny but it seems that at HICT, I am re-discovering all those activities that I was interested in but have given up for reasons that even now I am not so sure why. Writing was one of them that I mentioned last month, and now, it's chess.

Mathew has reported that todate, we have now shipped out 536 of the "Out of the Blues" CDs. So far, the bulk of the sales can be attributed to the tireless efforts of members of two clubs: the Young Entrepreneurs Club and the Edith Cowan Business Club. Syabas to all of them! And I am sure we can still sell more!

A Serious Pose

This photo taken by Brandon (of course!), will be used in the powerpoint that I am developing for SNHU for our upcoming HICT Open Day & Career Fair. For a person who does not like to be in the limelight, and always keeps a low profile – this is a rare opportunity to see him in a pose. Okay, it’s a serious pose – but have you ever seen this guy smile? Rarely. He is always so seriously serious!

Stefani, who is an ardent follower of my blog will be having her (Engineering) exams soon – good luck, and please, once your exams are over – resume your blogging, huh? I enjoyed your selection of songs though… This plea also goes out to the other followers (e.g. Edwin), who have not been writing and posting that regularly – it goes to show that I do follow your blogs too. Didn’t The Love Doctor (a.k.a. Mathew) himself said yesterday that it’s getting harder and harder to blog nowadays? I mean, there are so many things we can write about – but really, what to actually write ah? And Brandon has eloquently stressed that he doesn’t believe in having a resolution list – sigh, that’s too bad. The guy with big dreams doesn’t want to commit himself! It’s so easy and convenient to point the finger at him, but what about me? Shall I or shall I not? We shall see…

In the UEFA Champions League, Arsenal redeemed itself with a lucky 1-0 over Dynamo Kiev, and Liverpool scrapped through by the same margin in the game against Marseille. Best forgotten is Celtic’s limp performances here, unlike in the SPL.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Penang Lass

It's been a hectic week since I am now involved with HICT's Open Day & Career Fair, and this has unavoidably put a temporary stop to my blogging. Anyway, I am determined to post something today, so I crept away to a quiet corner and started my blogging again by posting this entry. I read in today's New Straits Times (November 26, p 18) that reported a Universiti Malaya study which estimated that there are 500,000 active blogs in the country, and that a blogger, it seems, has an average of 2 blogs - so the number of bloggers is about 250,000. I cannot imagine there are so many bloggers in Malaysia, but I suppose it is becoming increasingly popular as a medium to convey anything and everything to the web community out there. I was mildly surprised to read that our Information Minister, Ahmad Shabery Chik has come out to say it would be unfair to impose laws against bloggers, as most of them exercise self-restraint and do blog responsibly. Do you mean to say that he is only aware of it now? Pardon me if I appear incredulous as I say this!
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Yes, I know there were matches last weekend, and yes, I missed those matches. Busy, ah. Nonetheless, it was a real grievous disappointment – what with Arsenal being on the receiving end again (an embarrassing 0-3 loss to Manchester City) and Liverpool was scoreless in their match against Fulham. However, I can always depend on the game that was played north of the border – and I am happy to report that Celtic beat St. Mirren 3-1 (Goals from Samaras, 64th minute; Nakamura, 66th minute; and Sheridan, 80th minute).



And the Saturday talk by Monti was RM40 worth of fun. By the way, for about 5 minutes, I was a 4-year old Labrador sitting by the fireside, in a "Let's Pretend" session. Very interesting - too bad I have no photo to show you...

I wish to give special mention to a Malaysian who deserves all the accolades she has been receiving over the years. Her stunning victory over Rachael Grinham at the Hong Kong Open last Sunday, capped a very successful year for Nicol David. She is undefeated in 2008, winning 10 Wispa Tour tournaments while regaining the two most important titles (i.e. the World and British Open). This World No. 1 is an extraordinary Malaysian who gives meaning to the word "excellence". Although I am not a squash fan, but Nicol's exploits are very special because she lets her racquet do the talking. How many people do you know who love to spend an awful lot of time making big talk but let themselves down because of "no action"? Also, perhaps more importantly, it is not just about her winning ways. She has won and she has lost. But when she lost – she did not give up, she did not surrender, she did not wallow in self-pity. But she picked herself up, she went into battle, and she stayed focused. Now, that is what true champions are made of! Indeed, she's one in a million, I daresay. And I don't give compliments to anybody that easily.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Stupid Politicians

Yesterday (November 20), it was a pleasant surprise to see non-HICT people at the Blackout Bistro. I was told they were Sixth Formers from Klang High School as well as Samsung staff - both groups having their lunch at the bistro. Obviously, word-of-mouth is spreading the word about this bistro, and we can now expect others to drop by and savor our "daily specials". Word-of-mouth is just one more tool in our advertising and marketing arsenal, and it can be a very effective tool, if we know how to use it.
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CD sales continue to be strong, and todate, we have pushed a total of 442 CDs. "Terrific" is the word to describe the sales. This just goes to show that the music industry itself is transforming - e.g. the conventional way of distributing music CDs is unlikely to show the same success that we are achieving now!
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On the local front, it is disquieting to see politicians persist in making racist diatribes - one cannot help but wonder if this is a growing sign of intolerance in our country, or our politicians are intentionally fanning the flames of racism because they have nothing intelligent to say or talk about anymore. Our politicians are more often than not, devoid of any intelligence, and this deafening cacophony of race-based incitements that we read in the newspapers are mouthed by our dim-witted politicians whose grey cells have shrivelled and shrunk and died a long time ago. It is worth remembering what our third Prime Minister, Hussein Onn said, "We are trying to build a nation out of diversity. If I can add a brick here and there, I will have done my duty". How many of us are consciously adding a brick here and there every day?
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And talking about our stupid politicians - do you remember the politician who suggested turning the Mat Rempit and their races into a tourist attraction? He insisted, "Many roads are closed for pasar malam. Why can't we close the roads for our Mat Rempits once a week?" And the female politician who, seemingly worried with the rising trend of effeminate males in universities reasoned that this was happening because there were more women in the institutions of higher learning. And the politician who exhorted Muslim women not to wear lipstick outside their homes lest they arouse men and cause them to rape the women! And during a heated argument over a leaking ceiling in the House of Parliament, another male politician made a sexist remark to the lady MP who had brought the matter up, by retorting: "Where is the leak? Batu Gajah MP 'leaks' every month too". To think that some of us had voted for these brainless imbeciles!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Go-getter

Dr. Paul Chan emailed me yesterday (well, actually on Monday night at 11:04 PM, to be exact), informing me that I shall now take over the ADP portfolio; and Dr. CP Lim has also communicated this decision to me yesterday evening. Now, somebody must quickly inform Lilian (she's Head of UOL and Acting HOD for ADP) – so that I can begin my work almost immediately. There's so much to be done, and it is an adrenalin-pumping challenge because we are going to massively build ADP numbers so that SNHU becomes a 500-strong student community at HICT. This means that we willl have to double our numbers that we have now. I will work closely with Katherine and her Marketing team, and with 2 new degrees, BA in Psychology and BA in Communication being offered from January 2009 – I would like to see student numbers quickly grow from the word "Go". Personally, I am looking at achieving this by April 2010. I remembered an Oscar Wilde saying: "I can believe anything provided it is incredible". Ambitious goal? Lofty desire? Incredible wish? Didn't Samuel Johnson said, "Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified"? Aah, yes, there will be many obstacles, and I will encounter many difficulties – but I will silence the naysayers and neutralize the dissenters. And some smart aleck will certainly ask, for what? "To follow without halt, one aim; there is the secret of success. And success? What is it? I do not find it in the applause of the theater; it lies rather in the satisfaction of accomplishment" – Anna Pavlova. Besides, I have never feared challenges, and I will achieve what is expected of me. Dr. Chan was right when he said it's all about attitude. And Victor Ong has real "attitude"!
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The Andy McDonough CD project is moving along quite nicely. As at yesterday, we have shipped a total of 247 CDs todate. Blackout Bistro continues to also do well, and we are seeing very healthy competition between the Wednesday and Friday groups - they are competing to see who brings in the most-est daily sales! Business students should learn from Henry Ford II: "Competition is the keen cutting edge of business...". The Performing Arts Club is starting to get organized. U.S. Mart will get a new lease of life very soon. Busy, busy, busy - "the busy have no time for tears", Lord Byron claimed. How true...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chess in the Office

Life is really unpredictable. Sometimes the people supposedly close to you – I am referring to colleagues in HICT – are the ones whom you suddenly discover you don't know them anymore. And worse, they may be envious of you! In an organization where "change" is a constant – some people may not cope with change very well because change does upset the status quo. When the new scenario means diminished "power" and/or "prestige" – this is all a matter of perception, really – it will lead to a degree of unhappiness, whether consciously or unconsciously. What am I talking about? Sorry, I was just blabbering away... Anyway, Life goes on, irregardless. Organizational life is like a game of chess. And, we employees are pawns moving along the squares according to the strategies decided by the "king" (Group President) and "queen" (Group CEO). Chess is indeed an interesting game, is it not? I should pick up the game again – it's being a long while since I last played a game of chess.

HICT organized their second Convocation & Awards Presentation Ceremony on Saturday (November 15). I just wanted to mention that overall, it went well – despite the behind-the-scenes last-minute rush – but one thing struck me. It was a rather subdued affair – the graduating students, especially the ADP students seemed, well ... unexcited. Except for little pockets of celebratory noise, it was like going to a slumber party. Sorry, this is my opinion. I thought the two masters-of-ceremony did great - they are Toastmasters after all.

And a weekend is not a weekend, if there's no football. So we witness a weekend of mixed fortunes for the teams that I am supporting. The headline on the sports page (New Sunday Times) said it all: "Reds win as Gunners crash" - Liverpool vanquished Bolton by a comfortable 2-0; goals courtesy of Kuyt (28) and Gerard (73). Dare we hope that Liverpool can win it this season? Let's keep our fingers crossed for Liverpool, and pray hard too, for good measure! Arsenal, on the other hand, faltered badly, by being miserably beaten 2-0 at home to Aston Villa. The Gunners succumbed to inconsistency, and paid dearly by being 9 points adrift from Table-topping Liverpool. Wake up, Arsenal! And in the Scottish Premier League, Celtic thumped Hamilton 2-1; Nakamura (39, penalty) and Hartley (86) providing the goals.


Friday, November 14, 2008

I Have A Dream

I did my Speech No. 2 yesterday at D'Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club, and my evaluator was DTM Peter Siew. A sample of his feedback were: a "very well rehearsed" presentation; an "attention-getting" opening; "logical" in terms of organization; and he underlined that "the humor part is the best". However, he did suggest that I could have incorporated some elements of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech "I have a dream" since my speech also carried the same title. True, but I could likewise, have told him that I was actually thinking of that Abba's song "I have a dream"!
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In any case, I did use one quote from Martin Luther King Jr., if it is of any consolation: "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step". And so, with this public commitment, I am really taking my first steps toward that dream, of emulating K Loghandran, if not bettering his record, on the world stage!
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Since "Open evaluation" is encouraged, there were others who stood up to give their input as well. Kenneth Shee (who had me laughing with his speech No. 3), said "I had the 'wow' factor when I speak"; and Karen Yen and Siew Peng both found my speech inspiring. In fact, the latter said it was a "stupendous performance". Aah... music to my ears! I got this photo from Uncle Foong...
I am just thinking... Maybe for my speech No. 3, I should make it humorous? That would be really interesting, huh?
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Oops, I forgot - I have promised myself to finish my 10 speeches before end May 2009!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monti & Body Language

This is already my second month of blogging, and I am still fascinated by this blogging phenomenon. So far, my blog contains my own musings, a hodge-podge of the stuff I do. I am not certain if all of this is interesting stuff, but they are personal and they do impact on other people too. I have incorporated a "hit counter", so I can see if this blog does attract its share of fans - I mean, it's good to know, kan?
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Another Toastmasters workshop is being planned for November 22, 2008 at Lafarge Malayan Cement, Damansara Uptown featuring Fong Muntoh a.k.a. Monti (who, for those who are clueless, is the other half of the comedy pair with K Loghandran). For RM40, we get to learn to "just let your body talk". It's always an absorbing proposition when the subject matter is on body language. And if it is presented by Monti, then we can expect peals of laughter or at the very least, knowing smiles that cleverly sneak in, in-between our attentive and serious dispositions. But then again, a 3-hour workshop demands our rapt attention for it is a serious topic about communications, after all. Anyway, I am looking forward to it.
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I understand that "Out of the Blues" has already passed the 200-CD mark in terms of sales - well, at least according to Mathew Varughese, President of the HICT Performing Arts Club. Isn't this great?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

Eating is a national pastime, is it not? We have so many diverse eating places in this country, and at any time of the day (or night), we are sure to see throngs of people partaking in food, delicious food! Obviously, we have what can only be described as a passionate thrill for food, because we seem to be eating and eating and eating. And one of the hidden places to really check out is Blackout Bistro – HICT's little gem of a hideaway in Level 5 of Klang Parade, where they serve popular fare at very affordable prices. And I swear, the food here is delectably delicious. Sigh. I hear grunts of doubt and snorts of skepticism. I had anticipated this, and so I present two photos of the fare that was served just last Friday. For your information, I ordered the two sets that morning and finished the plates clean in double-quick time!

Just looking at these photos, and they are already making me hungry (again)...

Another Great Weekend!

Some quick updates.

HICT students have pushed a total of 162 copies of the “Out of the Blues” CD as of yesterday (November 08, 2008). Sales have been encouraging, and in the absence of any publicity, except for a blog and simple A4-sized posters in the campus, it is just personal selling that’s yielding the sales.

On the football front, Celtic walloped Motherwell 2-0; goals that sealed the latter's fate came from Hartley (45) and McDonald (71).
Liverpool beat West Brom by 3 goals to nil (A double from Keane, 34 and 43, and Arbeloa, 90+3). And Arsenal defied all odds to beat Manchester United 2-1; both goals superbly coming from Nasri (22 and 48). Well, at least the two English teams have redeemed themselves, but these matches can be really nerve-wrecking. My heart was beating fast and furious, and I was frequently on the edge of my seat. It was worth it, though, but hopefully, there will not be too many matches like these… Still, it's good to see teams that refuse to meekly surrender, and even in the face of difficult odds, they can triumph. No such thing as rolling over and playing dead...



And finally the good news that the Shah Alam High Court has ordered blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin's immediate release from his ISA detention. Syed Hamid Albar should not be so cavalier about using this law for frivolous reasons! And with this plethora of good news, it sure was another great weekend for me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Out of the Blues

Andy McDonough’s CD finally came out, and we are now aggressively pushing sales. Just for the record, we have already sold 90 CDs even before they are released – a testimony perhaps to the power of word-of-mouth communication. As I have said earlier, it is a fund-raising, not-for-profit project that is also about letting students learn about marketing an actual product, in this case, a music CD. Readers may wonder why my blog focuses a lot about HICT – for one, I work there; but more importantly, at HICT, we are translating a lot of classroom teaching into real-life learning, and believe me, the lessons are priceless! How many Business Schools in Malaysia can boast of this? I am proud to be associated with all of these activities. Again, two groups of students are involved: SNHU and ECU students. It must say something about the quality of these programs when their students can put into practice what they are learning in the classroom! I don't know about you, but I reckon their Business lecturers are really first class!


Celtic produced a comfortable 2-0 win over Hearts; goals from Maloney (7th minute) and Caldwell (20th minute) – and restoring their lead at the top of the SPL table. After reporting disappointing results of late, this is a football moment to savour!

Last Tuesday, I met up with Dr. Paul Chan, and today, the announcement came about my appointment as Head of the Business School, HICT. Yet, I don't feel happy at this prospect even though Dr CP Lim and Katherine Poh have given me strong support. Call it male intuition if you like but already I can see hostile eyes that speak of unhappiness. I didn't ask for this position but now that I am taking it, I worry for myself. Sigmund Freud knows about hostility alright: "Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one another". But then didn't Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet said, "If we could read the secret histories of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility"? Still, I worry...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blackout on Wednesday, Halloween on Friday

Last Wednesday (October 29), we witnessed the official opening of Blackout Bistro – a student project at HICT. Chan-Low Kam Yoke (i.e. Mrs Paul Chan) graced this event, and although it may be early days yet – but I pronounce it a success. There are not many institutions of higher learning where you can find a bistro that is fully-funded, fully-owned, and fully-managed by students, and first-year students at that. Rather than just learn about entrepreneurship in the classroom (and mind you, these students have yet to take this subject!), they have instead dived headlong into it with gusto and Blackout Bistro is the outcome of the students’ brave entrepreneurial spirit. A core group of “freshmen”, studying on the 4+0 Southern New Hampshire University, USA (SNHU) and 3+0 Edith Cowan University, Australia (ECU) programs at HICT are behind this business project – but two persons who are leading this venture, deserve special mention: Tan Wei Wei and Toh Chin Hooi.


And on Friday in the same week – it being Halloween – HICT students put on a fab show they appropriately called “The Bloody Hell Show”, and it was a real blast! I must confess that it was awesome in every aspect: from the d├ęcor to the organization, from the emceeing to the performances. I was promised an evening of fun, and it came true! The other person I must also thank is Caleb for creating the right atmospherics. And among the wonderful acts that unfolded, Syea Chee had delectably stirred my senses with her pulse-racing, heart-pumping, eye-popping performance that was delightfully sexy. Yes, she did a belly dance! But truth be told, every act was really enjoyable! No matter how eloquent I am, words cannot fully describe the enjoyment that is this show. And that is why I am relying on photos to do the job for me – just 12 photos that hopefully, captured the best from this show! The accolades truly belonged to all these HICT students who were involved in yet another successful student project.
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Unfortunately, it won’t be a happy week because both Liverpool and Arsenal lost 2-1 to their respective opponents. These are defeats that are hard to fathom, and even harder to accept. Let us hope that the Reds in particular, "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat".