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Monday, December 29, 2008

Toywiz Warehouse Clearance Sale 2009!

Hello everyone! This is really hot, so I thought I'd put it here, especially for those collector peoples, haha! ToyWiz is having a clearance warehouse sale on the 3rd and 4th of January! There's a lot up for grabs, even if you're not a kid. Here's why.

All the toys being sold are branded and are not cheap fakes, all original. There are going to be a lot of Star Wars figurines and the likes of our DC & Marvel comic heroes alongside Transformers, Spawn and a whole lot more!
It's going to be on the 3rd floor of Amcorp Mall from 11 a.m - 6.00 p.m
Brands offered are:

Takara Tony
Ban Dai (GUNDAMS!!!)
McFarlane Toys
Slideshow Collectible
Sota Toys
3rd Floor Amcorp Mall
(same row as Mc Donald’s, beside Koran Restaurant)

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Queen who Made My Day

Well, I have to say, being around The Curve on Christmas eve, particularly near the center or Cinileisure entrance was nowhere near meaningful for me, I will admit. I was hanging around for my parents to finish watching a movie then and I just walked around, just observing what was going on. The three things I saw were this:

1. People being obsessed with taking pictures with The Curve Christmas     decorations

2. Under 25 people buying that annoying spray, shooting around (getting     caught in crossfire is not amusing)

3. People wearing horns on their head (the irony of wearing that during     Christmas season, it makes me mad)

A few years ago, church did a musical during the Christmas season, about this exact kind of thing. Just doing stuff during the midst of Christmas without actually celebrating the reason for the season. I don't know why, people already felt it years ago, but this was the first time I really felt how largely cities have forgotten the reason for Christmas.

Well, for the uninformed. Very basically, Christmas is the time Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of the world, how would grow up into a man who would pay the ultimate price for all of man's sin, past, present and future by dying on a cross (the ultimate death punishment during the times of the Romans) as a sacrifice for everybody's sin. That is what Christmas celebrates in its fullest meaning, not the drinking on New Years eve and preoccupation of buying the perfect gift. There's nothing wrong with Christmas gifts, I like them, and Christmas is always a season of giving, just like how Christmas celebrates the birth of someone who gave his life for the sake of everybody else. It's just that every time, the actual meaning of Christmas is lost behind the materialism of the holiday season.

I went back home past 12 midnight, disappointed although not surprised by what I saw. My parents were asleep, I turned on the television, brushed through a few channels before coming across Queen Elizabeth II giving her annual Christmas speech on BBC News. I decided to watch.

This is part of what she said "At Christmas, we feel very fortunate to have our family around us. But for many of you, this Christmas will mean separation from loved ones and perhaps reflection on the memories of those no longer with us. I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life. Countless millions of people around the world continue to celebrate his birthday at Christmas, inspired by his teaching. He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served. We can surely be grateful that, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, so many of us are able to draw inspiration from his life and message, and to find in him a source of strength and courage. I hope that the Christmas message will encourage and sustain you too, now and in the coming year. I wish you all a very happy Christmas. "

It wasn't a very long speech, but that part, which was the ending of it was enough to encourage me, to lift me a little to know that I am not alone, but there are people together with me that do know the reason for the season, the remembrance of the most special man that ever walked the planet. I hope that many more people in the years to come will celebrate Christmas for that very reason.

Monday, December 22, 2008

First Time: MYEC, Tony Fernandes

I heard about this, only very recently from a friend of mine, Imran. I thought it would be good to go and hear what some of the successful entrepreneurs in the current Malaysian industry had to say. It was slightly last minute, because Imran only just came across it in TheEdge, that was just two weeks before the one day conference itself. The first 200 to register would get in free, but we were too late for that, so we had to pay RM 50 each, which reminds me, I still owe Imran RM 50.

Imran was really gung ho about because some of the speakers are really top guns. One of them which you all know is Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of Air Asia. But the people on the sheet that really impressed me is a man who is currently popular in the construction scene, particularly in Dubai, Dato' AK Nathan, of Eversendai Corporation Sdn. Bhd, he's in the steel industry, won a contract for Tower 2 of the Petronas Twin Towers.

            Burj Al Arab, Dubai (Dato' AK Nathan's group led this project)

Then there's Dato' Edmund Santhara, a very successful man, winner of an Ernst & Young award, CEO of Masterskill University College of Health Sciences. Basically, this guy owns the place you want to go to if you want to pursue nursing.

Dato' Edmund Santhara with other winners of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 (first from left)

If you've been paying attention to the names I've been mentioning, you'll notice that each and every one of them is Indian. I'm not being racist or anything, but I think that's quite a noteworthy observation anyone would have made at the conference.

As expected, the talks given were not from a technical viewpoint, but mainly what you need to be focused on or have as an entrepreneur. One of the things mentioned that was worth knowing was that, entrepreneurs should be more concerned about their cash flow than their account books. He cited that some top companies can predict triple earning from an investment based on the 'books' and have the banks chasing them just a year later.

Dato' AK Nathan came on and gave what I believe to be the foundation of the character of absolutely any working person, regardless whether you are an entrepreneur or not. He focused a lot on self-realisation, self-discipline, passion, being hardworking, self-development and the like. No one had taught him this but he had to learn all this through the hard way. He'd fallen three times in total as an entrepreneur, but his values have brought him more success and now is a respected construction industry figure in Dubai. He mentioned that his passion and drive for the business was what prevented him from quitting the industry when he thought he was finished.

One thing that was echoed throughout the conference had a lot to do with integrity. Right from Dato' AK Nathan, to Dato' Mohammed Izat and Dato' Mohd Shukor Omar, they always repeated, don't cheat anybody, be honest in your business. It's always interesting to hear that in corporate society when the public always sees or perceives all business to be about cheating and stealing to gain competitive advantages. But then again, those who cheat and steal fall pretty hard, you can see that from the fall of many American financial institutions.

Oh, one thing, food was provided throughout the conference. We had two tea breaks and lunch, so I think RM 50 was definitely worth it as a fee for the one day conference. On another day in another place, the price to see those kind of people could go above the RM 500 mark. I know I ate a lot that day, haha! It was pretty cool because we got to have lunch at the banquet hall and the tables were all set up nicely like a dinner event. An extra bonus was that our table wasn't full so there was more food for us, haha! The otak-otak, roast chicken and the fruits were the favourites during lunch.

I didn't stay until the very end of the conference, but I definitely waited until Tony Fernandes was up. I will admit he was easily the best presenter out of all of them, and I'm not saying this out of bias. Many of the speakers were interesting, but the first three names I mentioned in this blog post were still the best with Tony being the best one.

The most prominent speaker of the day

Obviously, one of the things that he pointed out was that he saw the opportunity for something new. A low-budget airline had never been given any thought in the ASEAN region. He mentioned a lot of people claimed his en devour was impossible, but I think all who read know this isn't true. Basically, he saw a market that people did not see. One of the main things I caught from him was this, when he said, "Serve the under served."

You know, when he said that, I just thought of this. There are so many high end products and services being offered by MNCs (multi-national corporations), and branding has placed prices incredibly high that can only serve a certain group of people. How about the rest of the people, the not so rich that also want something good? That was what Tony Fernandes saw and he fulfilled their desires and met that need. Remember, serve the under served.

Something else caught me, not by surprise but with enthusiasm. During his talk, he mentioned as a kid, he was a very stubborn boy. On those government type forms that require you to tick your race, either being Chinese, Malay, Indian or 'lain-lain', he would just tick Malaysian. He says that he's a very big believer in the Malaysian brand. He said, "Some people like to talk about global, going global. Do well here first, in Malaysia"

There's something else he said, which I think every prejudistic Malaysian needs to here, here's what he said, "You know, people talk about not being able to make it, or complain about not getting stuff because they don't have bumi connections, bumi this, bumi that. Look at me, I am a living example of someone who has made it, and there is no reason why others cannot. If you work hard and if you really want, you can be successful in Malaysia"

It reminded me so much when I saw Wyclef Jean saying to some Black children, "And listen man, I'm gonna tell y'all like this. Don't blame the white man for nothin. GET YOURS. You understand? I came to this country, I didn't know how to speak English. I made somethig of myself. I went to the library, English is like my third language. I just learned how to speak Enlglish. So the thing about that white man, yo, the white man responsible for that, white man ain't responsible for shit."

These two shared something in common with people who perceived similar fates

Anyhow, getting back on point, Tony pointed out several other things, highlighted some of his own issues, in a very comical way. He made some pretty funny jokes, one of them was this. You know, never name your airline after an animal, "Lion lah, Tiger (Singapore's budget airline), FireFly. You know, FireFly is a stupid name for an airline. You know the funny thing about a firefly? Those things only last ONE day!" and the room burst with laughter. He also mentioned in a light way that he's not exactly friends with SIA, haha.

Anyway, before I left, during Q&A, I was very fortunate to be the last person to ask Tony Fernandes a question (only two were allowed). I said this, "Dato' Tony, you know about what you said about as a kid about those forms, and you only ticked Malaysian, not your race or anything. I think that's really cool you know, so I just want to ask you. What do you think is the Malaysian Dream? What is it to you and why?"

I can't quote him exactly, but this is the gist of what he said. It had to do with the education system within Malaysia. It isn't about having Chinese or Tamil schools. He said, "What if we could have one school, where students learn the Chinese, Tamil and the Bahasa? Do you know how strong our Malaysian workforce would be? No one in ASEAN could touch us! We would be so strong because we could combine the strengths of the many races. You know this is one of the successes of Air Asia that I didn't mention earlier. You know, our staff, we don't treat each other as if we're segmented by race. You know they all get together, swear at me together and things like that. We're united."

Delegate pass & folder

I left soon after that, heading off with my parents to walk around Pavillion before heading back home after a long Sunday. It was definitely a worthwhile experience.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Detroit's Big Three

    Alan Mullaly of Ford answers a question at Capitol Hill
    From left: Rick Wagoner (General Motors), Bob Nardelli (Chrysler), Alan

Some of us may be aware of the current housing crisis in the USA, sub-prime loans, the 'gifting' of secured loans to people, many of which are unable to repay them. With that, about $700 billion is being spent to rescue the banks and the rest of the financial markets who are in trouble.
Another big pressing issue now is the automobile industry, with a recent highlight on the troubles of General Motors, Chrysler LLC and Ford. Not only are Detroit's big three in trouble, famous 'beetle-like' car maker VW is also seeking aid, several automobile are seeking financial help from their home countries.

Why this interests me all of a sudden was because one night at about 2 a.m, I happened to flip on CNBC, to see the congressional hearing of the three CEO's trying to convince congress to approve a $34 billion loan, higher than the $25 billion previously requested. I'd head about it, but never paid much attention, but since it was live, I decided to watch. It was a very hard pressing session for the CEO s, you could definitely see some of the anger and emotion from congress members as each of them questioned the CEO s. 

However, some of them were quite favourable to the big three, citing that inaction would worsen the situation and cost between 1.6 million to 3 million American jobs. A 50% reduction in operations alone for the big three could cost 2.5 million jobs. Some of them even cited that the big three should be given a chance at the money since the banks were bailed out under much less scrutiny and without even having to explain themselves at Congress. Several made clear their anger towards the bank but favour towards the automobile companies, citing that they had genuine intent of recovering.

Apparently the first week of negotiations was pretty poor, the big three came in private jests (is that a sign your company is poor?). Maybe they were just hurried to get on time, but not many might believe that. The second time around they drove hybrid cars with Chrysler's CEO driving his company's electric powered car. Interestingly enough, one congress member asked, "I know it's been very publicised that you all have driven here, are you going to drive back?" It was good to hear the CEO s answer promptly and even able to outline their driving plans as a signal of genuine intent to fix things.

The big three CEO's have all agreed to be paid only $1 a year if the loan they ask for is approved. UAW (United Auto Workers) union have also agreed to bigger concessions in the form of health care and salaries I think. Bonuses for the big three high level employees are also being cut under the proposal. They've also agreed to an oversight board to whom they can refer to during the recovery period to make sure they're working in tandem with the government. As said on CNN, a Car Czar is definitely a sure in. 

In second round negotiations (the ones I watched), Ford wants a $9 billion line of credit, neccessary only if GM and Chrysler fail because 75% of its supply chain is intertwined with theirs. All of them have admitted they will use a lot of this money to sustain operations and develop more fuel-efficient, hence greener cars for America. This highlights the weakness that previously, they've only really focused on fuel sucking SUV s that have allowed Honda and Toyota to significantly take over the smaller car market.

They need to make less of these... gas sucking vehicles

Anyhow, for the short term before the President Elect, Barrack Obama takes over, a $15 billion is set to be approved. Remember, initially they asked for $25 billion and Ford said the $9 billion requested is only if GM and Chrysler fail. With that, the amount is about right. Even with this 'bailout', a lot of jobs will still be lost, but at least not as much as 1.6 million.

Many people, even newscasters on CNBC and Bloomberg have hinted their support for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler LLC. Rick Wagoner (GM) argued no one would buy a car from a bankrupt company (warranty issues). Some argue that people today still fly on bankrupt airlines. However, I agree with this. It's one thing, to buy a $300 ticket on a bankrupt airline, because you'll still get to your destination. It's a whole lot different spending $25 000 on a car where warranty cannot be guarenteed. I'd rather buy from Toyota than a bankrupt American car company.

In my opinion, the big three should receive adequate federal assistance with conditions attached for repayment and corporate restructuring. In addition to that, with a hint of anger, it's some of those banks that should be left out to dry. AIG has a lot to answer for, insuring those loans...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Living in a Consumer Society (Grab all the money from the people Society)

So here I am, in the Malaysian capital for the last couple of days. Like most people would when they come back or go to KL, I hit the malls. I went to about three within the last two days, including today. I've realised that I actually want a lot of things, all of which are not very cheap things to get.

Just within the last two weeks, I've already thought of things I would love to have. I've put them in a sort of a pictorial wish list below (not in chronological order of priority):

Introduced to this recently, this album by  Search The City, would love to get an copy, although I suppose the only feasible way to do that would be online retail or getting someone (which I have none of) from U.S.A to get it for me.

Another thing would be a good pair of headphones. Every time I've bought one, they always die on me. First, it's the right side that's unusable that follows a period of time before you can't get anything out of it.

The next one's a book by Chet Holmes, The Ultimate Sales Machine. I've read through a bit at Borders and MPH. As the title suggests, it's about sales, improving corporate performance.

As needless as may be. I want a desktop because all of them 'pwn' any form of laptops, and yes the main reason I want one is to play high definition games. On my current laptop, even if move graphic settings one level up to Medium, Red Alert 3 will start lagging (sigh).

A clip on capo for my acoustic guitar. It's really annoying to have to spend time attaching a capo in between songs. Having one of these would be really neat. I've seen Daniel Tan use it so easily, hardly having to do anything to change to or from capo in between numbers.

The Origin of Brands by Al & Laura Ries, just one of a few books I'm interested to read about branding.

A new pair of Dennis Chambers Zildjian drumsticks. It's definitely one of my most favoured drumsticks. Drumsticks are definitely more expensive nowadays, whether it's Artist Series or not.

A drumpad to practice on. There's no way I'm ever getting a drum set (good cymbals cost fortunes), and even if I did, how can I practice within a neigbourhood without getting complaints. Even this small thing costs quite a bit.

The home jersey of my all-time favourite football team since 1994. As you know, since this jersey is produced by a famous sportswear and fashion corporation, the price is exactly  RM ridiculous.

A Macbeth tee, saw one I wanted in One Utama today. Why oh why does a simple Macbeth tee have to be priced more than an 8 GB flash drive? Maybe it's because the former Blink 182 and current Angels & Airwaves front man owns it.

 And to go along with that, a pair of Macbeth shoes.

An external hard disk with space more than or equal to 200 GB.

Well, that's at the top of my head right now. I'm sure there's more stuff I want, but for now, that's that on the list. Take a look at it again, I'm sure you'll agree buying more than two of any items in the list pinches you. For me, even buying one already makes me feel... man... losing cash, hahaha!

Out of the 12 items shown, how many of them are actually a necessity? Someone who knows me would probably think, well, it's not quite necessary for you I guess, but it's always nice to have. I'll say that I've eyed some of these items for a very long while, whereas others have only become recent additions to my wish list.

It's interesting isn't it. For some, buying comes so easily. Sometimes I really do wonder where some people get the money from to buy everything they have or go on the holidays they go on ever so freely. Some aren't even aware of their buying power but they can afford any brand they want (Example: babies that wear adidas/nike/puma shoes).

Then, there's those that sometimes have the struggle, to buy or not. Certain thoughts immediately come, such as, "If I wait long enough, will there be a sale on this item?" I hate the fact that so many times I come across the situation where I love the design or functionality of something, but the price tag puts me off straightaway. It's not just one or two items, loads of them! Even if someone (other than parents, heh, but depends too) buys it for me, it still would make me feel guilty about the price paid for it.

As of right now, I still have that guilt of purchasing. Macbeth shoes? Don't you already have shoes? A Macbeth tee? How many tees do you already have? You should know how the rest goes. It's likely that even in this season, I won't even get one of those items up there in that list. As much as I want each and every item there, it's not like I haven't lived without them. It does suck a little, or a lot, when you just can't get that nice thing you want.

There's one thing though. Being put in such a situation and being reasonable about it enables us to avoid being sucked into the consumeristic society, where buying now is everything. That's always been dangerous. If you've read newspapers this year, you would know that plenty of people in Malaysia are currently unprepared for retirement from a financial standpoint. Contentment is important, especially from a materialistic standpoint. I'll always want more, no matter what I have, but settling to live with what I have would always be better.

After the hiatus

I have to admit, I don't really feel like updating the previous post, hehe. It's been a really long while since I've blogged. I've been away because I've been kept busy by the ongoings towards the end of the semester. 

Nonetheless, I'm back in KL now for the semester break so I may blog a little more frequently now. The better internet access at home compared to UTP will also contribute to that. 

I have to say the last third of this semester somehow took a lot out of me, very much spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, whatever you call it. Even as of right now, still trying to pull it together but I suppose it'll happen soon enough when I can clear my head, haha. I think that has been my most challenging time in varsity thus far. It's been pretty obvious to some. Even one person said something I myself wasn't aware of, that I'd not been my normal self for the entire semester. It's just frustrating but that's just how it is.

Well holidays have started all right. On the very day I got back (Friday), I went for CoUZ's talent night, the first time in four years I think. It was pretty cool when I found out what my cell, Hearts United was doing. Six of them performed a step dance, you know like those ones you see in movies like 'Stomp the Yard' and all. They called themselves Heart Stompers, kind of a cute name if you think about it, hehe. You can check out one of their practices here

There was all sorts of stuff and some of it was just amazing man. There was this one guy, who's pretty good at doing tricks with this traditional Chinese yo-yo. I can't remember the name of the toy, but man, he is good! Really, really good! I think he was definitely one of the most entertaining of the night. Then there was this pair, brother and sister, both under 12, and they did a short comedy skit, that was just fun. It was good, because.... they were actually funny, heheh.  

Then there's one performance, and man, this is really funny. There was this chubby kid, I think he may be about 11-12 years old. He was dressed in something that looked like a eastern Malaysian tribal costume that exposed his..... abdomen (tummy). I was wondering what he was going to do. Then as he started, Crazy Frog music started playing and then..... he started SHAKING his tummy and man breasts! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my goodness, that was definitely one of THE MOST funnily entertaining performances, ahahahahahaha! I have to say, that kid has got some guts to go out there and do that. I know I don't. 

There were a lot of others but I think those few stood out the most that night. It was pretty rad too because Heart Stompers got 3rd place. Woot! So, my cell, Hearts United has RM 100 cash to splash on dinner or something, hehe. We haven't decided yet, or rather, Jeannie hasn't decided yet.

Well, other than that, had a short jamming session with Khye Shin at my place (Saturday), helped out a bit with American Dream, caught up on some stuff. It's always fun having that guy around, funny, and never too serious, I think we don't give a care for sensitivities between us which's always a nice quality to have for friends I think, makes conversations really open. I think we'll jam more before he heads of too Australia in February. Hopefully we can come up with some new material too. Always good to have him along with his Schecter guitar.

Went to Times Square today (Sunday)... hasn't changed much since I last went. I headed over to Borders though, found a couple of books I got myself into. I didn't stay to read long though, felt a bit tired and picked up a headache. Still, went to Low Yat just to see pen drive and external hard disk prices. I almost went to the Bentley's at Bukit Bintang, but just didn't feel like it then. From Berjaya Times Square, I took the monorail back to Sentral, headed on over to the bigger KL Sentral. I was supposed to take a KTM train from there to MidValley to meet my parents. And of all days to do this, I got on the WRONG LINE. Fortunately, I didn't get too far off from Sentral. Just had to reroute back, but wasted a lot of time. Headaches coming on don't help either. Guess I haven't really rested myself since coming back.

Back at MidValley, went to MPH, read an issue of Superman, two issues of Supergirl and one issue of SUPERDOG (it's very rare for me to see DC comics unwrappedin MPH, so that was a real blessing, hahaha). Can you imagine?? There's actually Superdog? DC comic fans may know this by heart already but for an average reader like me, that's really weird and random. Flipped through one of the pages to discover there's a video game for Mortal Combat vs DC Characters? Looks and sounds a little lame, lol. Anyhow, caught up with some Archie and Garfield stuff over there too. Archie, a timeless comic, I've never grown tired of it and Garfield, the ever so lazy inspiring cat, haha! The only one I really like that I didn't touch was Snoopy.

Anyhow, although tired with a headache, got back home in time to catch the second half of United vs City, tense game to the end as it always is in derbies, Ronaldo sent off for handball playing a corner. He claimed he heard a whistle, hence just blocking the ball from hitting his head because maybe he switched off concentration. Whether that's true I don't know, but I guess the referee only did what he saw was right. At least Ronaldo didn't waste 5 minutes to get off the field. Got pretty exciting during stoppage time when Joe Hart came out for the corner for a potential equaliser, but United cleared and broke away with Rooney shooting from the left wing just after the halfway line but Joe Hart did really well to get back just in time to knock it out for the corner. Well, at least United won one to nil in the end. The game was a very busy one with some tense pauses in between, but still,  getting the result. 

I guess the United vs City game summary kind of sums up my Sunday too.