Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bidding Farewell to 2008

I came across this interesting piece of news in The New Straits Times yesterday (December 30, 2008, p 33) of how some enterprising organizers in New York hit upon a novel idea of bidding ‘good riddance’ to bad 2008 memories. New Yorkers were invited to bring their bad memories to Times Square on Sunday and feed them to an industrial-strength shredder. And so this article went on to talk about a Yankees fan Kate Anello of New York City who shredded a poster of the Boston Red Sox, the New York baseball team’s archrival. Another New Yorker, Kathryn Bonn shredded a printout of her boyfriend’s “Dear John” email. Others wanted to destroy bad grades, bad health, and bad financial news. Some wrote “the stock market” or “cancer” on a piece of paper and shredded it, while others shredded bags of actual bank statements and check stubs. It is said that “this is the perfect way to move on from a bad year, from a bad experience”. A fascinating concept that the organizers themselves are hoping it will become a New Year’s tradition. Maybe we should start something like this at HICT too? Well, any takers anybody?
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Liverpool is still making the news because they continue to bask in glory after the Merseysiders ended 2008 as Premier League leaders! I loved this quote from Liverpool assistant manager, Sammy Lee: “This is a very strong, determined and focused bunch of players and they have a real belief. It’s not arrogance but we’re prepared to succeed and not prepared to fail”. Go for it, Liverpool!
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And so, this is my last entry for 2008 - I am blogging. I am making speeches. I am enjoying work. I am alive! There's a sense of deja vu because it has been a good year for me, and here's to knowing 2009 will be another bountiful year. So, A Happy New Year everybody and may you work towards making all your resolutions become a reality... Hopefully, it shall not be those New Year resolutions that go in one year and out the other!

Monday, December 29, 2008

NTV7 Breakfast Show

I was searching YouTube for a video clip of the Toastmasters interview on the NTV7 Breakfast Show that was shown on November 10, 2008 – the two Toastmasters being featured were world-class speaker, K Loghandran (a.k.a. Logi) and Joseph Gomez, District 51 Governor (i.e. the territories of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei). Anyway, I found it and I wish to share it with everyone, especially those who are HICT Toastmasters, who had missed Loghandran’s talk at HICT in October…
video

I am also remembering another talented Toastmaster, Stephen Fernando, whom I have had the privilege to have met. I am intending to invite Stephen Fernando to HICT to give a humor workshop sometime next year. Wei Wei in her capacity as Vice President Public Relations (of our HICT Toastmasters Club) shall have to work harder to bring in the crowd.

With one week to go before the start of the new 2009 academic year, I have been busier than usual, preparing for my classes. I cannot quite recall now but I think I am slotted for either 5 or 6 subjects in January – and one of the subjects that I am hard-pressed to get ready the powerpoint slides is for Strategic Management. As of this morning, I am still doing Lesson 5. It is slow-going but when you insist on doing your own slides, it’s like that lah. But I believe it’s worth it because my students will benefit. Why? Because when I do these slides, I draw upon more than one source – for this subject alone, I am relying on 4 textbooks to put the slides together. OMG, it sure is hard work!

Back to football, and Arsenal managed to carve a narrow 1-0 win over Portsmouth, the solitary goal courtesy of Gallas in the 81st minute. Still, a precious 3 points in the bag for the Gunners – this win allowed them to overtake Aston Villa, and settled in fourth place. I don’t believe Arsenal is a contender for the topmost placing in the EPL but if they can stay within the top 4 places, they should be happy nonetheless. Nice to see The Star’s sports page carrying the headline today (December 29) that desribes Liverpool's feat: “Five-star show”! Tired of always seeing Man U or Chelsea grabbing the headlines – a nice change, indeed!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Logi and Monti

Remember Logi and Monti? To most people, they are comedians. To most of us Toastmasters, Logi or K Loghandran is a world-class public speaking champion who came to HICT awhile back, to talk about well, the World Championship of Public Speaking competition where he emerged as first runner-up. An achievement that all Toastmasters from this part of the world should be proud of. Well, coming back to my story… I was reading the Sunday People section in the New Sunday Times today (December 28), and I came across a photo of these 2 “funny” guys, on page R3. In fact, there’s a double-spread page of Malaysian personalities being featured here, and all of them were asked for their Wish List for the New Year. I wasn’t the least interested in what Tony Fernandes, Maya Karin, and so on have to say – but Logi and Monti, well, they made me sit up. Monti wanted to walk in the nude somewhere in Europe – I am not intending to even try to picture this – but Logi’s wish was something else… He wanted “to make a comedy film and to raise funds for it by collecting RM1 from one million Malaysians”. And he also hoped “more Malaysians will join the Toastmasters Club to improve their English”. Okay, I cannot argue with his second wish – after all, I am in the thick of the Toastmasters action already. But his first wish intrigued me. Malaysian cinema is still very unsure of itself – and except for the few critical successes from Yasmin Ahmad (e.g. Sepet; Gubra; Mukhsin) and the indie film-makers, we are really not, well… known. And when Logi talks about comedy films, the most successful comedies closest to home, that I can relate to, are from Singapore (e.g. Money No Enough; That One No Enough; I Not Stupid; Just Follow Law; Ah Long Pte Ltd – all Jack Neo vehicles). So, maybe it is about time we look at producing our very own English-language comedy films, and I believe, Logi can pull this off.

What I am suggesting is that perhaps we can take up this challenge to help Logi raise this RM1 million – and in the process, we promote ourselves and HICT. God knows, we need the publicity, and this is one sure way to get publicity on a nationwide scale. I am not suggesting that we raise all of the RM1 million, but if we can get the ball rolling and we can raise the first installment of say, RM250k – this will be a great beginning and in the process, we could ask for a role in the film (I can think of a few really funny people in HICT), credits (see our names immortalized on the silver screen), and maybe even, a share of the profits (why not?), etcetera, etcetera. For a start, we can mobilize all Toastmasters Clubs in the country to organize fundraising campaigns. Can you imagine? A few hundred clubs raising say, RM500, and we are on our way. I look at this strictly as a business proposition with some social marketing overtones perhaps. And I can think of no better person to lead this other than Brandon? Are you up to the challenge, Brandon? Shall we call it Project KL Movie?



In the SPL, Celtic bested Rangers 1-0, thanks to McDonald in the 58th minute – although to be fair to the latter, they dominated possession but unfortunately, couldn’t find the breakthrough. And in the EPL, Liverpool gave Newcastle a 5-1 walloping; the Liverpool scorers were Gerrard (31st minute); Hyypia (36th minute); Babel (50th minute); Gerrard (66th minute); and Alonso (77th minute penalty). This was Liverpool’s last match of the year and what a match to end the year! Liverpool is sitting pretty atop the table with 45 points! Liverpool haven’t been crowned champions of England since way back in 1990, and this season represents their best chance to pull this off! We all believe victory is possible, and nothing is impossible.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Books and Interviews

I am reading 3 books simultaneously: Kua Kia Soong’s “May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969”; Dean Johns’ “Mad about Malaysia”; and Nesa Sivagnanam’s (ed) “25 Malaysian Short Stories: Best of Silverfish New Writing 2001-2005”. Unlike the previous 2 books I was reading, these 3 represent “light” reading, and so I can be expected to finish them off in a relatively short period of time. For those of you who have yet to cultivate the reading habit, go ahead and find a book to read. Reading enriches. Didn’t Mary Wortley Montagu once said, “No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting”?

Todate, our Andy McDonough’s “Out of the Blues” sales have climbed to 600 CDs. It may appear that CD sales are slowing down – alas, this is true but we are confident that once the students are back from their hols, there will be another concerted push to fast-forward the sales momentum. I trust Mathew can look into this.

The interviews I am involved thus far, have not been able to yield the lecturers I am looking for – many of them do not have the right type of qualifications, or if they do, they are weak in knowledge-content, which is not too surprising, especially since many of them are from the local IPTAs. But of late, there has been more and more applications coming in – and this, I take it, is a sure sign that our Malaysian economy is on very unsteady ground, and the corporates and professionals are now seeking “safer” jobs such as teaching. But I am only interested to build a small core group of teaching staff, and that they are strong in the following disciplines: Finance, HRM, International Business, Marketing, Communications, Psychology, Law, and English. So are there anyone interested in the teaching profession? The biggest benefit is that you get to work with me, and that is, believe me, a real privilege and an honor! Okay, some of you may think that I am a vain pot, but really “the advantage of doing one's praising for oneself is that one can lay it on so thick and exactly in the right places” – at least that’s what British writer, Samuel Butler believed. I do too – besides, if you are as good as I am, why not trumpet it? Otherwise, who knows, kan?

On the football front, Liverpool must know that they could not afford to forfeit points, especially after both Chelsea and Man United won their last games. And Liverpool (what a relief!) did not disappoint – Bolton received a 0-3 drubbing in their hands; the scorers were Riera (26th minute) and Keane (53rd and 58th minutes). Sadly, Arsenal could only managed a 2-2 draw in their game with Aston Villa; and in this case, the less said the better.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blogging is Mainstream?

I was reading this Onn Yeoh article (p N47) in The Star today (December 25), and he was proclaiming an interesting fact: That like it or not, blogging has become mainstream. Okay, nothing really earth-shattering about it, but for us bloggers, we will have to sit up and pay attention, right? After all, it is right up our alley, and as active bloggers, we make up the statistics too. He even quoted tech author, Nicholas Carr as saying, blogging has entered a midlife crisis and likens it to “the state and fate of a literary form that once seemed new and fresh and now seems familiar and tired”. Don’t they know that the passage of time itself makes new becomes old, and fresh becomes familiar? I do not necessarily disagree with Oon Yeoh’s and Carr’s views that many popular blogs are today commercial ventures, bloated and geared towards selling ads.

(As an aside question: What is wrong with that? I say, if blogs can make money too, so be it).

Another tech writer, Paul Boutin is also mentioned. “Scroll down Technorati’s list of the top 100 blogs and you’ll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones”. Let us not forget that personal blogs are, by definition, individual – so unless the contents are something that can reach out to touch a significant majority of the world’s IT-connected population, I guess we won’t make it into this list. I have no pretensions – my own blog is very personal. Who is reading my blog? I venture a guess. My friends, my students, acquaintances who may be remotely interested in me (Hahaha, but somehow I don’t think so), HICT (if you care to know about HICT’s happenings), Toastmasters stuff (probably not unless you are like me – just starting out as a Toastmaster and my reflections can help you learn about the journey that we as Toastmasters must walk through), football results (only if you are interested in EPL and SPL football), and other trivial stuff which I may deliberately choose to write about. But this is just an educated guess. So, readers, tell me – who are you? Why do you read my blog? Nice to know, I guess. Hehe, now, I am curious!

Anyway, back to this contention that blogging is so mainstream now. I would argue that every activity that popularizes itself will become mainstream, sooner or later. Unless, of course, it stays as just a fad, but fads disappear as quickly as they make their presence felt.

Remember Nike? The company started out as Blue Ribbon Sports (renamed Nike in 1973 after a Greek goddess) selling athletic shoes, way back in 1962. It was catering to a niche market because this was before we mass-adopt the fitness craze, the healthy lifestyle; before we consider shoes to be a fashion statement; before we covet them like some self-important badge of social prestige. But today, can anyone consider Nike to be a niche company? A resounding and thumping No. Nike is the leading maker of athletic shoes, equipment and apparel, and their products cover a broad range of sports including basketball, football, running and so on. Wholly-owned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Cole Haan, which designs, markets and distributes luxury shoes, handbags, accessories and coats; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories; and Umbro Ltd., a leading United Kingdom-based global football (soccer) brand. In fiscal 2008, Nike had revenues of $18.6 billion (a 14% increase from 2007) and net income of $1.9 billion. And in terms of staff strength, Nike employs over 30,000 people worldwide; in addition, to about 650,000 workers who are employed in Nike contracted factories around the globe. So, Nike is a mammoth company serving a gargantuan market – hardly what you would call a niche player! [Source: Webpage http://nyjobsource.com/nike.html, accessed December 25, 2008].

My point is, we blog because we have a simple goal to begin with. We want to write and share our views, activities, interests, and opinions (what I call VAIO). It is our personal diary; a motley collection of our reflections, appraisals, and memories (what I call RAM).

Yes, Oon Yeoh cited some impressive statistics from Carr: 133 million blogs were identified since Technorati started indexing them in 2002. At least 94% of them have gone dormant; only 74 million blogs have any postings in the last 120 days; and get this – 1.5 million had any postings in the last 7 days. Well, listen Oon Yeoh. I am one of these 1.5 million active bloggers. And I would even argue that if the number of active bloggers has indeed massively dwindled, it can only mean that blogging has ceased to be mainstream, that blogging has reverted to becoming a niche activity. I mean, 1.5 million is just a drop in the ocean when we compare to the number of worldwide Internet users standing at 1.407 billion (according to Internet World Stats, at webpage
http://librariesinteract.info/2008/07/26/size-of-the-internet-2008/, accessed December 25, 2008), right? Hah! So c’mon, Oon Yeoh – try and answer this!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Are Replaceable

I have been informed that I must complete at least 6 speeches before I can even consider taking part in any Toastmaster competitions… well, except for the Table Topic competitions. Having done only 3 todate – the race is on for me to finish another 3 speeches by February 2009. My HICT colleague and fellow Toastmaster Arul was kind enough to get me all the details of the speeches I need to prepare – Speech No. 4 is “How to Say It” (selecting the right words and sentence structure as well as using rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas); Speech No. 5 is “Your Body Speaks” (using stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message); and Speech No. 6 is “Vocal Variety” (using voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message). I am likely to attempt to do these speeches in 3 different clubs this January 09 – and already the thought of doing 3 speeches is causing an adrenalin rush inside of me! It's gonna be an exciting month...

Even on Christmas Eve - there are many people still working. Good, because at HICT, there's much work to be done. For those who did not have the privilege of reading Dr. Paul Chan's "Replaceable" email dated December 18, I provide below an excerpt:

"The global economic crisis is worsening. More companies are bankrupt and the layoffs are increasing. There is mammoth unemployment. It is hitting Asia – S Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and definitely Malaysia.

New York has 165,000 highly qualified people who lost their jobs because of Wall Street. About 10,000 are highly educated Chinese who studied in some of the best B schools and were (repeat: were) holding well-paid jobs in some of the best known companies in the world. 10,000 of them (just from New York) are returning to China and Asia. These are PhDs, MBAs, engineers, financiers, bankers, IT experts who have some of the best exposures working in Fortune 500 companies. Their spouses are equally qualified - professors and senior staff of universities and research houses. Now they are coming home to Asia.

They can easily replace us. I cannot think of one position in HELP that they cannot take over. They are hard working, experienced, global-minded, and realistic with their remuneration. These are the people we want.

But wait a minute, there are also many brilliant Indians who are in a similar situation. They are also returning from the Silicon Valley and the investment banks. But they can't find jobs in India. So they, and others from India, are coming to Singapore and Malaysia and Asia. And they are also quality people, including Malaysians, who are leaving Singapore and Hong Kong to return to Malaysia.

We are nothing compared to these "gold collar workers." Companies are now replacing existing staff, who are average to mediocre or overpaid, with these returnees. I have never seen such massive movement of top quality people. No one is indispensable, and no one is not irreplaceable now.

Once upon a time we take things for granted, getting too complacent and getting even arrogant. They hold employers hostage. Not so now: this is a buyer's market. Caveat venditor."

Now, isn't this a sobering message? There are those who will even say that this is a scary proposition. When I say, work is becoming scarce, you'd better believe it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

So Close...

Arsenal scored first through Van Persie (24), and Liverpool managed to thankfully equalize through Robbie Keane (42) to give both teams a one-all draw. Both goals were beautifully executed, and I would award this match 9 out of 10 points for sheer entertainment value! While neither side earned full points, it was nonetheless a fair result. Still, I rue the fact that Liverpool was really playing well, but the goals just didn’t come…

In Scotland where really miserable weather prevails, Celtic, not unexpectedly, trounced Falkirk 3-0 (Samaras, 48; Mizuno 90; and McDonald 90). But Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan got it right when he said, “When opportunity meets preparation, then you get that today”.


This lesson can also be applied elsewhere. Just as we must be alert and be quick to exploit opportunities, we must at the same time, be prepared. I can also relate this to my work – I am preparing my team for the 2009 year ahead – so that the groundwork is readied for us to begin our assault on Klang schools to bring in the students for my programs.

And last but not least, here's me wishing everybody Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paul Chan's Email

It has been some time since I checked my emails, what with training sessions this week and all, but when I did managed to, this email dated December 17, 2008 from Dr. Paul Chan regarding the organization of the Open Day & Career Fair was most enlightening:

"Victor and all,
We recognize the focus, priority and tenacity you and your team demonstrated. I observe how you all work and I am glad that you are functioning as teams, not groups of individuals. Always keep in mind that matrix management and project leadership work somewhat differently from the conventional hierarchical model. This is mostly vertical whereas the other is more horizontal. Power and authority are somewhat distributed differently. When we understand this then there will be no conflicts during execution. Good luck to your recruitment. Paul"

While we can take comfort from his words of encouragement, I cannot deny that my job has barely begun - I must focus on bringing in the ADP student numbers...

Today, is the last day of a 3-day training session that I have attended this week, but this time, the topic was on "Learning Strategies and Psychology of the Learners" facilitated by Audrey "Experiential English" Boudville from HUC's Department of English Intensive Programme. Unlike Tuesday, where we saw the participation of only 10 staffers, today, 25 faculty members came. And from HICT, there are already 6 of us, with Arulkumar from Pre-University joining us for the very first time. With a big group such as this, today's session is bound to be lively and perhaps even rollicking and uproarious - and how true, it was all that and more! Besides, Audrey is one alluring lollapaloosa - she's bubbly, chirpy, upbeat, perky - you name it, she's it!

And what did I take home from today's session? The most important lesson was actually about Kolb's learning styles model and Experiential Learning Theory (ELT). Kolb's model and experiential learning theory are today acknowledged by academics, teachers, managers and trainers as truly seminal works; fundamental concepts towards our understanding and explaining human learning behaviour, and towards helping others to learn. We were also exposed to Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and VAK learning styles models, which assist in understanding and using Kolb's learning styles concepts. For those who are still blur, VAK is an acronym for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.

Someone had remarked that I talk a lot about the "other" club, but what about our very own HICT Toastmasters Club? So I have included here a photo of some of the members who attended our last meeting (i.e. October - this is also the month that I began this blog!) for the 2008 year. We had two special guests – Soh Fong Wai of Klang Bilingual Toastmasters Club and of course, Lee Wei Seong of D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club. Note that we didn’t organize any meetings in November and December because our students who form the majority of our membership are on a very long holiday break…

The next HICT Toastmasters Club meeting is scheduled for January 20, 2009. Jane, please organize...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Anyone for a Sloppy Joe?

For those of you who came to our HICT Open Day & Career Fair 2008 will know that Blackout Bistro opened its doors for this special event. We also welcomed a Saturday visitor who dropped by in Klang not because he was interested to find out about our (academic) courses, but that he was singularly focused on checking out the chow we are dishing out on that day. This food blogger gave Blackout Bistro the following rating:

Ambience: One star
Food Presentation: 3 stars
Food Taste: 3 stars
Service: 5 stars
Bang for Buck: 4 stars

For a more detailed report, check out his blog at www.foodposition.com

I am pleased that at least we scored well for service (thank you, Wei Wei) and "bang for buck" (i.e. value for money). We had two offers: nasi kunyit with chicken curry and/or Sloppy Joe hotdog. Personally, I did find Sloppy Joe genuinely appetising as far as looks go, and to me at least, it was also yummy - if we compare to, say, A&W's Coney Dog, this Sloppy Joe wins hands down, methinks!


Still, I have no quarrel with his opinions, and we will, for sure, be mindful of his observations, and make the necessary improvements. After all, we intend to view his review positively.

Christmas-y Toastmasters

Hmmmn, I forgot to mention that last week, I did my speech No. 3 entitled “Thin is Sexy – You’d Better Believe It” at the House of Pakeeza at Jalan 14/22, Petaling Jaya. It was hosted by D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club, and what was really odd was that I had a script but I didn’t have the time to learn it nor put in any practice. Instead, I depended on just speaking off the cuff again… I am thankful to have three friends (Shireen, Brandon & Mathew) who came all the way from Klang to give me moral support. Personally, I didn’t think the speech was that great although the trio thought otherwise. Such dear friends! And for D'Utama Advanced Toastmasters, this was their last meeting for the year, and so it had a very Christmas-y mood - how appropriate!

Yesterday (December 16), the price of petrol is trimmed by another 10 sen. Honestly, this very modest price cut is not going to make any appreciable difference to the liters of petrol that goes into our tanks. If the BN government wants to earn the goodwill of the rakyat, then they should consider a more significant downward adjustment because really, what can you buy with 10 sen nowadays?

The second day of academic training again focused on Teaching Methodology but zeroed in on the subject of Assessment and Alternative Assessment. It is timely that we re-visit this subject and I reproduce Nitko's (2004:13) definition of assessment as: "A process for obtaining information that is used to make decisions about students, curricula and programs, and educational policy" because I for one, really want to re-visit the way we assess our ADP/Diploma in Business students. To do this, we would need to look at various assessment techniques, what Dr. Andrew Poh likes to refer to as "a cocktail of assessment procedures" - which includes paper-and-pencil tests; formal and informal observation; homework, exercises, and research papers; projects and exhibits; performances; portfolios; oral questioning; and analyses of students' records.

This Sunday (December 21) will see Liverpool squaring off with Arsenal in a match that is important to both teams - both need the points to break away from the pack. Certainly, I would like to put my money on Liverpool and hopefully, they can deliver this time around. Patrick Vieira (former Arsenal captain and now with Inter Milan) was quoted as saying the Gunners can forget about winning the Premier League title if they lose to Liverpool. It's the same with Liverpool too, kan?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jump!

Today, I went over to Wisma HELP for academic training; today's session was on 'Teaching Methodology: Pedagogy & Andragogy" conducted by a Dr. Andrew Poh, a very engaging, even absorbing fellow. There were 13 of us altogether, this group of academics coming from different disciplines and interestingly, from different geographical locations – we had representations from Hong Kong, Myanmar, Canada, and Spain, besides those from Malaysia amongst this group of HELP "trainees". I had previously attended academic training when I was with Nilai Intrernational College, and the trainers then were from Universiti Malaya – looking back, I realize how outdated they must have been when they delivered their stuff, as compared to what I am now learning from today's facilitator. Now this only demonstrates how far Universiti Malaya has descended into the delinquent depths of mediocrity – so why should we be surprised if their rankings plummeted?!

By the way, Rymond from Marketing confirmed today that the final tally of applications total 44 for HICT's Open Day & Career Fair 2008. However critical we want to be, it was a decent effort overall.

Kelvin emailed me this story: Back in 1929 during the financial crash, it was said that some Wall Street stockbrokers and bankers jumped from their office windows and committed suicide when confronted with the news of their firms' and clients' financial ruin. And many people were said to almost feel a little sorry for them... But in 2008 the attitude has changed somewhat:


I thought this is really hilarious!

Sunday at HICT

Today's Open Day & Career Fair was better attended, and at the debriefing meeting, we counted something like 43 applications made over the 2 days. Whilst we didn't even manage to come close to our own targets that we have set for ourselves - nonetheless, we fared better than HUC, or so we are told. Still, it is a small consolation because the fact is, we did not achieve the crowd numbers that we anticipated, and neither did we signed on 300 applications. Valuable lessons can be drawn from here though...

As for my talk, it was attended by about 30 persons, and generally, I can say "Future Career Directions: Options After SPM" was well-presented, if I may say so myself. The talk from Toastmasters International on "Become a Communication Maestro" which came on next, saw 23 people attending. Foong Weng Tuck and Chan Siew Peng did this segment, and it was a nice surprise to have Dr. CP Lim on stage to also give her take on this topic. When these individuals speak, it makes me realy proud to be part of the Toastmasters movement - they were so eloquent.
And I am glad too that Blackout Bistro opened for business this weekend because I dearly missed their simple but tasty fare.

I should thank the following for being a great help this weekend: Shireen, Say Pin, Brandon, Rachel Tan, Wai How, Wei Wei, Chin Hooi, Iona, Mathew, Edric Ho, Arun Kannan, Edrickson Duane, Hassen, Pek Kuan, Aisha, E-Foong, Mike Cheang, Ivan, Siew Mei, Jacklyn, and Jane. They went out on a limb for me - thanks, people! Did I leave any names out?

Given how occupied I was this weekend, I had to forgo my football, and believe me, I didn't miss a thing! Both Liverpool and Arsenal persisted in disappointing their fans by giving us uninspired games. Likewise, Celtic. As a matter of fact, all 3 games ended in draws: the Liverpool-Hull match produced a lackluster 2-2 scoreline (Liverpool's Gerrard scoring in both the 24th and 32nd minutes); the Arsenal-Middlesbrough match was equally disagreeable, with a
1-1 scoreline (Arsenal's Adebayor scoring in the 17th minute); and Celtic and Hearts played to a one-all draw (McManus producing the only goal for the Bhoys in the 79th minute). I am so disappointed that I am not putting any photos of the games!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Suki is One in a Million

HICT’s Open Day & Career Fair 2008 was a "not so good" day – a small crowd in the morning, but it further dwindled in the afternoon. Let’s hope tomorrow is better. In any case, I have a speaking slot at 11:00 AM, and I believe it will be well-attended if we can base this confidence on the number of people who have registered to attend this talk. I am just hoping for a decent attendance. And I have also incorporated a talk on Toastmasters - so that should be equally interesting. Believe it or not, I have just completed my Powerpoint slides that will accompany my talk.

Thanks to Celcom, Suki, the winner of 8TV's One in a Million season one came to HICT to bring some much-needed excitement to our Open Day. I have not heard her sing before, but she's really good... And furthermore, I have to thank Wai How for capturing a photo of me with Suki. Okay, so the photo is not clear and sharp, but I don't care...



Since the last time I reported Andy McDonough's CD sales, we have seen sales surged forward to a total of 580 CDs todate.

I am not really that excited about the UEFA Champions League, but when my three teams are playing – I do sit up and take notice. It’s good to see Celtic gaining some redemption by beating Villarreal 2-0 at home; Liverpool also beating PSV 3-1; but Arsenal was beaten 0-2 to FC Porto.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

HICT Open Day & Career Fair

This weekend, a big event in Klang is unfolding… HICT’s Open Day & Career Fair! This is where I am really needing the help and support of all my readers and students and friends to spread the word about this event to everyone and anyone. Use the blogs, Facebook, Friendster, email, word-of-mouth and whatever means to publicize this event. More importantly, those who know someone who has just completed their SPM and/or UEC exams, should be encouraged to come and talk to me about doing the 4+0 Southern New Hampshire University degree programs at HICT. After all, we are offering 5 majors: Business Administration, International Business, Marketing, Communication, and Psychology – the last 2 being brand-new degrees. We are hopeful of getting a mammoth crowd to come because we have worked hard to tell the Klang community about this event. But the point is, we want to sign up at least 96 students for SNHU during this event. It’s always about the numbers, y’see. This target works out to 48 per day (8 hours daily actually), and if we break this number down further, this means we should aim to register 6 students per hour, or one student every 10 minutes. I certainly cannot do this alone, so, I need everyone on duty at the ADP booth this Saturday and Sunday to be focused, persuasive, and convincing. Well, to be honest, not just the people at the booth – but I am directing this message to all ADP students because together, we can make a difference! And I believe we can! Whatever it is, I am committed to work hard to yield these student numbers. For sure, it is a tough challenge to produce these results, but I am ready… As I have said in my powerpoint, study at HICT and bring America closer to you! Sure can wad!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Missing Glasgow

Of course, we cannot talk of Scotland, without talking about Glasgow. Glasgow – Scotland's biggest and most cosmopolitan city, and this is the place where I studied. The city had a vibrant arts scene, cutting-edge music, legendary nightlife, an exciting selection of places to eat out and much more. And this was in the late 1970s. Can you imagine what it’s like now? I am told that the city has really transformed, even the University of Strathclyde where I did my business degree, has undergone a massive change. For one, Balmanno Hall of Residence where I stayed for two years has disappeared. And suddenly, a flood of memories comes rushing back of my days of yore. Certainly, I must return to Glasgow one day…







I managed to locate the trailer of "The Water Horse" – I thought I should post it, since you will not appreciate the Scottish accent, until you hear it...
video

Monday, December 8, 2008

Missing Scotland

Finally, after a long hiatus, Celtic was defeated. Hibernian clobbered Celtic, 2-0. Well, not a result that I wished for – still it irks me that we lost by two goals. I am shaking my head in disbelief.
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Suddenly, I am reminded of Scotland – the place where I did my undergraduate study. I have missed Scotland terribly. Remember that 2007 movie, The Water Horse? The story of Angus who discovered a large mysterious egg along the shores of Loch Ness, and how he soon realized that the strange and mischievous hatchling inside was none other than that of the water horse, the fabled creature of Loch Ness. And with the water horse growing ten times its size every day, Angus found it increasingly difficult to keep his new friend a secret, and so the story unfolds…



I watched the movie more than once, and a major part of the attraction is the Scottish accent. It's... well, charming, even sexy. I am not sure how else you can describe it, but after having spent 4 years there, I just love it. According to eHow.com, polls have revealed that people believe those with Scottish accents are trustworthy and honest, and the fact that it also sounds pretty cool. And in fact, according to this webpage http://www.friendsofscotland.gov.uk/scotlandnow/issue-02/arts/scottish-accent.html, accessed December 08, 2008, it claims that Scottish is probably the best accent in the world. But perhaps this isn't so surprising when we consider the effects the Scots have wrought in the world of cinema. It asks, “Are there many women over forty who don't go weak at the knees at the sound of Sir Sean Connery's silky purr? Or many women under forty who don't have the same reaction when they hear Ewan McGregor's honey-dipped tones?” When you come to think of it, how very true! I can speak the Scottish accent too. For a start, all you have to do is to learn to roll your Rs. Scots are the only English speakers to employ the rolled R sound and do it regularly, particularly following the letters D, G and T. Secondly, collapse words into as few syllables as possible and drop the G from words ending in "-ing." Replace "not" with "nee." When you are speaking with a Scottish accent, tell someone that you "didnee do anythin' in Ednbrah" instead of saying you "didn't do anything in Edinburgh." And thirdly, familiarize yourself with Scottish slang and vocabulary. Always use the word "wee" when describing something small or young. "Aye," "bonny" and "lassie" are also commonly used and makes your accent seem authentic. Go on, try it…

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Barack Obama at SNHU

Since I am now totally immersed in the Southern New Hampshire University 4+0 programmes at HICT, it’s nice, I suppose, to trumpet here that Barack Obama received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from this U.S. university in May 2007 – I just obtained a picture of him with Dr. Paul LeBlanc, President of SNHU – courtesy of Vicky Teo, the SNHU rep here. I wish I can say that I have met him, but this will be too far-fetched, right? Oh well…


Another nice photo of the people who occupied Room 35 at HICT. The guy on the right is a real charmer… Hehe, I know him! No, no, no – the photo doesn't show Room 35, you dunce, this is HICT's library!


Okay, time for football - what with me keeping tabs on two games. A pleasant surprise greeted me because both my teams won. Arsenal whipped Wigan 1-0, Adebayor scoring in the 16th minute; while Liverpool triumphed over Blackburn 3-1; Alonso (69), Benayoun (79), and Gerrard (90+5) finding the net. The way to go, guys!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Land of Food Blogs

Zhongg Internet Digest (http://www.zhongg.com/linkfest/the-ultimate-list-of-malaysian-food-blogs/#comment-16959) has identified more than 65 active food blogs here in Malaysia – and this amply illustrates why eating is indisputably our national No. 1 pastime. Still, I hear from the grapevine that a food blogger (www.foodposition.com) has indeed heard about us, and is definitely going to drop by and check out what we have to offer at HICT's Blackout Bistro. Tan Wei Wei and Toh Chin Hooi: You’d better believe this… Although this place is closed during December – most students are on a long break – it will, however, open its doors for 2 days (13th and 14th) in December 2008 because the college is having its Open Day & Career Fair on those stipulated dates. Just knowing Rachel Tan is in charge of the kitchen, can create sufficient kinetic energy to push moving objects (e.g. hungry people) to head for this little charming place on Level 5 of Klang Parade. Simple but interesting food beckons…

I am thinking out loud here, but there are so many food blogs out there that many a time, it is difficult to quantify the given feedback. When someone says “the food is good” – just what exactly does he or she mean? I too am not certain. May I suggest that food bloggers should take a leaf from Michelin by awarding stars to restaurants offering the “finest” cooking? The Michelin Guide awards restaurants between one and three stars, and they are coveted. 3 stars means the restaurant merits a special trip; 2 stars indicate the restaurant deserves a detour; and 1 star means that if it's on your way, you should stop. I think this is a great suggestion, don’t you think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Ups and Downs of Petrol Prices

Today, as all motorists are already aware, a 10-sen reduction in the price of petrol takes effect - thus making fuel at pumps the cheapest since March 2006. This means that the petrol (i.e. RON97) is now at RM1.90 per liter. This is the fifth or sixth (?) reduction in price - but it is funny because to be honest, I don't quite feel the impact of these price reductions. It's all psychological of course because when the government increased the price in June of this year, it was a whopping 78 sen, but when it retreated, the prices came down by only 10 sen or 15 sen at a time! What many of us have forgotten is that when the petrol price skyrocketed in the first place, all other prices blithely soared soon after. And so our steep cost of living shot enthusiastically upwards from high to crazy high! Besides, the fact remains that this new price is still about 30 sen higher than global prices which stand at about RM1.60 per liter. Secondly, the next fact to consider is whether the government will allow petrol prices to continue to dip (not necessarily in tandem with the decline in world petrol prices), or whether it will peg petrol prices, so that we can build our reserves in the event that the economy goes into a freefall next year. But then again, if the government cannot even be trusted to spend our money wisely nor even work towards reducing, if not eliminating the scourge of corruption that plagues this country – what is the point? Hello, when's the next elections again?
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Rafa Benitez shot his mouth off yet again. This time, he had the audacity to say that fans should be happy in spite of the goalless draw Liverpool snatched against West Ham. What utter nonsense! What complete rubbish! What baloney!

Planning Speech No. 3

I am going for a different style in preparing for my speech No. 3 - I am not sure why I want to do this but I suppose I cannot just depend on forever speaking off the cuff. I mean, have you ever have to give a speech under impromptu circumstances? It is not only nerve-wracking; in fact, it is more than just accommodating butterflies in your stomach. No, they’re more like torpedoes bombing your gut!
So I am now writing out my speech and even rehearsing it - well, not 21 times as K Loghandran advised, but perhaps once or twice, or maybe even thrice. Even the subject seems quirky - I want to talk that "being thin and sexy is always in style", or something to that effect. This may be a naughty response to (fellow Toastmaster) Kenneth Shee's speech last month about the story of the fat man - I really don't know but what the heck, I wanted something that is fresh, a brand-new perspective, a divergent way of expressing myself. I wanted to experiment, to try out, and to see if it works just as well. So far, I am fleshing out ideas and committing words to paper. An interesting exercise, I must say. Let's hope this works out... Anyway, my speech is about getting to the point. And my point is about making a change in the way I do my speeches.
Also we all know by now that Liverpool has drawn its last game against West Ham, a sad 0-0 scoreline that is as uninspiring as Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Yawn. I am sure Life can be more interesting than this...?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Gunners Believe

Gallant Arsenal produced a stunning win over Chelsea - Robin van Persie volleyed twice into the goalmouth in the second half (59th and 62nd minutes) to give his team a much-needed life-saving boost. The photo below says it all... And Arsene? Somebody wrote this about him: "... a manager who knew he could not countenance defeat". Yep, that's him alright.



HICT Toastmasters did not have their November meeting for some forgettable reason, and they won't have a December meeting either because students are on a long break. So looks like I will have to do my speech No. 3 at D' Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club again...

For those who knew that I had wanted to do my M Sc in Marketing in November/December 2008 wil find out that I have not started... Sigh.

It is moments like this that I draw upon the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin who advised, "Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve". Okay, I know what I must do. And I am resolutely working on it.. I must get back on track...