Thursday, May 22, 2008

Champions Of The European Champions League Final - M. United

I'm standing on top of the world right now as my all time favorite team, Premier League Champions (for a second straight year) - Manchester United have triumphed yet again for the third time, as (Europe's elite club competition) European Champions League winners! Manchester United had their previous winnings back in 1968 and 1999 respectively.

At the end of their ninety minute play at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, Chelsea and Manchester United were still tied 1-1, in the first ever all-English final of soccer's Champions League history.

Manchester United striked first through Cristiano Ronaldo in the 26th minute of the first half, bringing his goal tally to 42 goals in the season. Chelsea equalized this right before the stroke of half time (45th minute) through their midfielder Frank Lampard.

This eventually brought this years European Champions League finals well into extra time play after having a goalless second half. Players from both sides were noted to be extremely lethargic as extra time progressed, and Chelsea well deserving of a win, missing a couple of good goal scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, tempers were running high as both teams were eager to find the winning goal in the match at this point, causing Drogba and Tevez to end up with a slight scuffle which saw Drogba being shown the Red Card in the final moments of the ninety minute schedule.

Now, the Champions League finals in Moscow would be decided through penalties between the two English sides. After seeing a suspense filled penalty shootout, where Cristiano Ronaldo took United's third penalty kick and missed finding the net, and for that moment, I thought that Chelsea had their greatest chance of capturing their first ever Champions League title, but luck was not on their side in the Luzhniki Stadium, as John Terry hit the post wide. Manchester United's keeper Edwin van der Sar became the hero of the match when he dived to bat away Nicolas Anelka's drive and sealed United's Champions League title for the third time in many years.

Final results - The rain-soaked penalty shootout saw Manchester United beat Chelsea 6-5 to win the European Champions League title in Moscow on May 22nd, 2008.

United will surely be celebrating this victory for a long time to come as its yet another prestigious trophy in their hands for this year alone, and not to mention the £85m in prize-money and commercial spin-offs that would follow-suit.

Today's Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea (which sadly hasn't won a trophy this season) will surely go down in books as being the richest match in the history of football.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Do You Believe In Luck Transfer - Part II

So let's begin from where we left off from part I - "I'm going to share with you an unusual story that was related by a friend of mine, who knew an acupuncturist who lived in a remote village. It's a story about an old man who goes to see this acupuncturist, well known for his vast knowledge of the human body."

This acupuncturist was also a good conversationist, engaging his patients in chatter to distract them from the many needles poking their body.

The old man, who was his patient, meanwhile, answered his questions like a dreamer in a hazy, semi-conscious state. The acupuncturist was in complete control of the entire conversation. Towards the end of the treatment, the acupuncturist declared that because of an act by the old man's father long ago, his family was now suffering a spell of bad luck.

The old man was at once surprised, because his father had actually done what the acupuncturist described - and in so doing, had sealed the fate of his descendants.

The old man's father, who had owned a fleet of lorries, had in the past, ordered his workers to remove a boulder from an abandoned quarry which faced his home. The father ordered that the rock be placed beside a large pillar at the main entrance to his home. By doing this, he hoped to force the lorry-drivers to slow down their vehicles when they entered the compound of his home. In that way, he thought, he would be minimising the danger of a careless or impatient driver damaging his house.

Not long after carrying out this seemingly trivial deed, the old man's father passed away peacefully in his sleep. However, the cause of the death, whether due to his old age or illness, could not be determined.

Now the responsibility of running the entire business fell into the hands of his sons but, somehow, things didn't go as what they had planned. Their business began to suffer and the company's debts escalated.

The son's tried to look for solutions for their many problems but eventually, the majority decided to throw in the towel and winding up the company was their only way out.

The now abandoned quarry across the road, was later reopened when another firm took over its operations under a new management team.

Surprisingly, the business picked up, after a short time for the new firm, and buyers for their rocks seemed to appear out of nowhere. The now-booming business, made the new owner a millionaire not long after that.

In conclusion to this story, we feel that the old man should have left the quarry alone. By him moving the rock to the front of his house, he had brought about a surge of negative energy from that vicinity into his own house. But in reverse, the removal of the rock brought about good fortune to the new quarry owner.

There are so many rags-to-riches stories out there for us to learn from. One such story - Where a poor man who makes good refuses to throw away or let-go with certain of his items, which he had been using for a long time or which had been of some use to him during his lean periods.

We even hear stories of self-made millionaires who hold on to their old cars jealously, although they now even own expensive new cars in their huge garages, simply because all these so-called old cars were at one time their only means of transport.

Of course, it could very well be for some sentimental reason as well, but, then again, many of them believe that the old "junks" may have brought them some good luck and success, thus will not part with them at any given price - for it would mean giving away their precious believe, they all call ... Luck!

So now, "Do you believe in luck transfer?"

Friday, May 16, 2008

Do You Believe In Luck Transfer - Part I

My million dollar question for the weekend - "Can luck be transferred from one object to another?" Scientifically though, it may sound totally absurd and completely illogical. It is no doubt a difficult subject for an individual to grasp and while there is some truth to it, it is often stranger than fiction to many.

But before we dwell further into this, could there be such a thing called Luck? Because I'm pretty sure there are still many who would like to say that there is no such thing as luck.

Strangely though, when you ask many of today's successful people about this subject, in turn they would make it very clear to you that they personally never really expected to achieve the level of success that they have achieved right now. So, in reality, what that goes to say is that it wasn't all due to their big picture intention-filled plan after all.

Take these examples for instance;
  • Bill Gates did, at one time, admit that his biggest part of his initial success was due to luck.
  • In an interview not too long ago, Donald Trump admitted to believing in the thing called luck.
  • America's first black woman billionaire, Oprah Winfrey, had said that she once figured that if she could make a million dollars in her entire life, she would then consider herself a huge success.
  • Keith Richards from the band - Rolling Stones, said that when they first started out, their ultimate ambition was to be the biggest band in ... London!
From all these examples available out there in the world, it becomes clear to us that sometimes the most extraordinary successes known overtakes the very individuals experiencing them.

Now back to our initial question at hand. I'm going to share with you an unusual story that was related by a friend of mine, who knew an acupuncturist who lived in a remote village. It's a story about an old man who goes to see this acupuncturist, well known for his vast knowledge of the human body.

So, do remember to check back tomorrow for "Do you Believe in Luck Transfer -Part II"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Farewell Amma

To be honest, this post ... would be the most hardest to complete, and might even be the most longest in my entire life. For it comes straight from my heart ... for someone very special, and she meant the whole world to me ... my dearest Amma (mother).

It has taken me a while to think over these last couple of months that has come to pass, with the recent loss of my Amma to cancer.

She was indeed the most loving mother any child could ask for - compassionate, sincere, kind hearted, forgiving, etc. Singled handedly my mom, Shirley, as all her close friends and acquaintances called her, brought up six children with pride and dignity. Never once, have I heard her complain or belittle her children to her friends. To her, we were her pride and joy ... children who would one day appreciate her for who we are today.

It was just about a year ago that I dedicated a post to honor my dearest mom on this very special day we all celebrate as "Mother's Day". Reading it once again, breaks me down to the point I wonder : "Did I do everything right, did I make her proud?"

I ask this same question over and over again, how long will this ripped out part of my heart last? I reckon, only God will have the actual answer to that. I've lost my Amma. She was cremated some two weeks ago, but I still can't get over of the fact of losing her, and cry every night silently in my room. I think about her all the time. In this life, she is gone, she is no more. I will never hear her voice again, or ever see her smile.

What I've learnt from this situation is that when a loved one dies, we experience various stages of grief. Basically there are four key stages : Shock, Denial/Anger, Sadness/Depression, and Acceptance. And trust me, there is no pre-set time limit on how long it might take a person to move through this stages, and the stages can recycle over and over again, throughout one's living life.

I found that spending every chance my family and I get to be with my dad (if there's an award for the most understanding and loving husband/father, my dad, will surely top that list, anytime!) over the weekends is important during this trying times. Friends tell me : "Nihal, you need time to adjust to a life without your mother, and this takes time. Allow yourself the time to experience the pain of losing your mom, and after awhile, you should be able to return to the things you enjoy doing." But believe you me, this is so damn hard to practice in real life.

I have learned a lot about the grieving process and have come to realize that eventually I will never get over the loss of my mom. I do not feel I will ever truly accept her loss, but have learned to acknowledge the loss of my Amma, and will try to move on with my life, and will make sure of keeping her a very part of it all.

I used to think that Mother's Day was just another simple holiday? The day where all the children were especially nice to one another so that our Mom could enjoy some "peace and quiet," and it's definitely a commodity which is in short supply in most of our mothers' lives nowadays. But I know that we treated our Mom as a "Queen for the Day" in those less-harried times.

Children — even when we've become adults — we need a way to express our love for our Mom. It was easy back then, when we were young and could easily fashion a statement out of some paper and glue. But sadly to some, It gets harder when their lives become filled with new duties and obligations. Being the youngest in the family like me, we're showered with all the examples and reasoning's the eldest always give. When we grow up, we need to find a new way to say "I love you", once you do this ... it is everlasting! Believe me ... I saw this in my Mom's face, every time I told her this.

Maybe it's just me, but Mother's Day will never be the same again. To me, this has to be THE day, if you're too busy chasing your financial freedom that other 364 days, a child needs to reflect on the sacrifices a Mom had put in raising them up, never once ever complaining, making sure there's food always on the table, and ultimately cherishing sweet memories and for that one day in your life ... if you could ... just say out loud, and raise your arm and give her that big warm hug that a Mom truly deserves, and you tell her with all your heart ... "Mom, I love you so much, you're the greatest. You have brought me up well!" This will surely send them a message that "I still remember all you did for me."

What I will miss though from my Mom's absence is : Her frequent calls to me, her regular stays at my house, her visiting my daughter at the hospital (take note, this is a lady who practically can't see anything beyond five feet away from her very clearly, and yet she's there after catching a cab, at the hospital ward, showing her support for her youngest grand-daughter), her charitable deeds (all her grand-children calls her 'Mother Mary' for this), her positive attitude towards life, and her missing the sight of seeing my daughter walk on her own, but mostly, ... I will miss her smile, her touch and seeing her enjoying her holidays, more so when she's always around her daughter, my only sister (she is indeed another Angel sent from heaven above).

Amma, thank you for who I am

Thank you for all the things I'm not

Forgive me for the words unsaid along the way
And for the times I forgot

Amma, remember all my life
You have showed me love, You sacrificed
How I've changed along the way

And I know you believed
And I know you had dreams
And I'm sorry it took all this time for me to see
That I am where I am, because of your truth
I miss you

Amma, forgive me for the times you've cried
Amma, forgive me for not making right
All of the storms I may have caused you
And I've been wrong

Amma, I hope this makes you smile
I hope you're happy with my life
At peace with every choice I've made
And I know you've believed in all of my dreams
And I owe it all to you ... Amma

And I will forever be your son (in this life and the next) ... this I promise!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ideas For Kitchen Cabinets

How does one get the best ideas in creating their dream kitchen cabinet or countertop?

Most designers will tell you, you can never look at too many photos of kitchen cabinets and countertops. Create a file of features you like; it's OK to make judgments based on appearance in this case. Select colors, styles, details, and configurations you love. Then, think about function. Imagine you're preparing a holiday dinner : What storage systems would make it easy for you to find your baster, roasting pan, and muffin tins? Picture your dinner guests perched on stools at your island bar : what type of countertop would be the most comfortable under their elbows - and the easiest to clean once they've gone home?

Of all the products you'll consider for your new kitchen or bath, cabinetry offers you the greatest chance to customize. You'll be amazed by your options : raised-panel doors for traditional settings; slab (unadorned) doors for a sleek, streamlined approach; glossy lacquered finishes that convey a contemporary European look. Choose from woods as familiar as maple, oak, and cherry or as exotic as wenge and anigre.

Discover a seemingly limitless array of colors created by stain, paint, and glaze. Add decorative hardware, glass inserts (available in a variety of textures and patterns), and embellishments such as corbels and legs. And remember, you'll want to outfit cabinet interiors with storage systems suited to your stuff and style.

New cabinets are an investment you probably will live with for some time. They will likely also require the largest portion of your budget - often as much as half - for kitchen products. Your first step when shopping for cabinetry is to weigh your budget against your desire for customization. Door styles, wood species, and storage options combine to create a one-of-a-kind kitchen, but also ramp up the cost. A professional designer can help you make choices that balance your budget with your vision of your future kitchen.

Here's some buying tips when shopping for cabinetry :
  • Collect pictures of kitchens that appeal to you to establish the overall flavor you're interested in before you start comparing specific products. Such a portfolio is an ideal starting point for working with a designer, who will ask questions about the pictures and plan a design based on your answers.
  • Study cabinets at home centers and showrooms. With displays that often mimic full-size kitchens, you can compare finishes, get a feel for what it's like to bend and reach when opening doors and drawers, and investigate the many accessories that boost storage and convenience.
  • If you're interested in glass-front cabinets, first decide what you'll store in them. Clear glass is best when you wish to put items such as a dinnerware collection on display and you want visual "open space". Ribbed and other types of patterned glass add a textural element. You'll still see what's behind these glass doors, but the effect is somewhat abstract. Frosted-glass doors are the best choice when you want to break up the monotony of wood doors while obscuring contents.
Shopping for cabinetry and countertops will likely be the most daunting - and priciest - aspect of creating your new space. But if you see things my way, you'll no doubt discover that it's also the most rewarding. Let the matchmaking begin!

Friday, March 21, 2008

History of Wharfedale

One of my greatest passions in life is to find time to sit down in my room, with a warm cup of coffee in my hand, and listening to a CD from my favorite all-time 80's band; a-ha. And thanks to a great pair of Wharfedale loudspeakers, these guys seem to be performing "live concerts in my room" on a daily basis, if you know what I mean. These loudspeakers communicate not just the music as it was recorded, but also the very essence of the performance! This inspired me to finally sit down and write a post on the History of Wharfedale.

Wharfedale was in fact founded in 1932, by Gilbert Briggs who built his first loudspeakers in the cellar of his home in Ilkley in Yorkshire, England. This quiet market town was located in the valley of the river 'Wharfe', hence 'Wharfedale', the unlikely setting for the birth of a brand that was to become synonymous with quality and technology wherever hi-fi was used throughout the world.

In 1933, a small factory was established in nearby Bradford in order to build the increasingly popular loudspeaker drive units. In the same year the Wharfedale Wireless Works won both first and second prizes in a national competition organized by the Bradford Radio Society. These were but the first of many awards that the company has since received. From this time, Wharfedale went from strength to strength, and, following a move to a larger factory, production reached 9,000 speakers in the year 1939.

During the war years the company concentrated on the production of transformers for military equipment, but in 1945 a new factory was found and loudspeaker production restarted with a staff of over 20. Production levels grew dramatically with loudspeakers being shipped across the world and in 1956 Wharfedale formed its own subsidiary company in the USA and the following year opened a massive new automated cabinet factory in Bradford.

Gilbert has built quite a reputation for himself for pioneering a hifi industry. His popularity extends to the books he has written which led him to stage an audacious series of concerts to compare live vs. recorded music. These concert demonstrations became very famous, using Wharfedale loudspeakers with either Quad or Leak electronics. It also led to the very close working relationship between Gilbert and Peter Walker of Quad that led to the next major development for Wharfedale.

In 1958 Gilbert Briggs, by then over 68 years old, sold the company to the Rank Organization; a major UK industrial group which also owned the audio electronics company Leak and also Heco; a German loudspeaker company. Rank made major investments in R&D and in marketing and distribution. Wharfedale continued to lead the loudspeaker world in technological developments with the introduction in 1960 of roll-surround suspensions and in 1961 the first use of ceramic magnets.

By 1988 Wharfedale Loudspeakers plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange and in 1992 the company changed its name to the Verity Group plc and purchased a number of other companies including Mission; Cyrus; Quad (all British hi-fi companies) and Premier Musical Instruments. The then managing director of Wharfedale led a management buyout and formed a new company; the International Audio Group which incorporated Wharfedale loudspeakers; Quad audio electronics; Leak high-end audio electronics and Airedale loudspeakers.

As for the man who started it all, Gilbert Briggs died in 1978 but his legacy and enthusiasm lives on in his products. Today Wharfedale is a truly international company with its Marketing and Design departments headquarters in Huntingdon, England.

So the next time you have a look at a Wharfedale loudspeaker, remember, you're getting a product which has a 75 year experience, one of the most advanced research and development programmes, and high quality control processes in the industry.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Build Superior Landing Pages

Imagine running a huge online marketing campaign for your site, complete with all the blog buzz, advertisements and search engine placements. You're expecting tons of traffic to hit your site, you think the job's done, well sadly, not quite. One very important factor many fail to spend time working on - Build superior landing pages. Definitely a very important tool when it comes down to any marketing campaign, if you ask me.

Landing Pages are basically the web page where the visitor reaches, after clicking on a link or promotional ad. Its a page where detailed information about a specific product or service that was mentioned in that link is displayed. At the end of the day, no amount of hardwork put into your marketing campaign will be worth much if there's no conversion! So, create that superior landing page and you're on your way to a very successful site.

Imagine this, your site now gets around 10,000 page views a month and you think, wow, that's a lot of traffic. But remember, that does not promise success, because you could lose all that traffic in matter of weeks if you don't have an equal balance of conversion ratio at your landing page. What do we mean by conversion - Once these visitors reach your landing page, naturally you need them to do something or rather, (like maybe, buy your product, subscribing to your weekly newsletter etc). Once the visitors carry out the desired action similar to this, you've then had, what we call, a conversion. And this ladies and gentlemen, is the sole purpose of having a good landing page. Learning how to optimize the page, is another trick in itself.

Before you begin developing your landing page, consider its real purpose. What do you hope your visitors would do when they reach there? Here are 11 pointers which should help you improve your landing pages :
  1. Consider it's main purpose.
  2. What is your goal? Do you want to sell a product, help people learn about a particular service, do want them to provide you feedback?
  3. Content is a vital part of a landing page. Know what to include in, and what not to.
  4. Provide detailed information about the said product or service, something which is relevant and focused.
  5. Avoid linking to other areas of your site, as you want them to convert on that one page, and not wandering off to other parts off your site whilst being entertained by your fancy colorful animations.
  6. Keep in mind who your audience are, make sure the information you provide meets their requirements.
  7. Make sure the look and feel of your landing page is consistent with your other marketing materials.
  8. Include the keywords or phrases which were used in your advertisement, and add them into your page title and headline.
  9. Keep the load times of your landing page under 5 seconds.
  10. Routinely update your landing page. If you decide to change your campaign, change your landing page as well.
  11. Make sure that none of the links in that page are broken or outdated for that matter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Find A Professional Designer

Find a professional kitchen and bath designer to help you navigate the ins and outs of this big undertaking. Doing so doesn't mean you have to hand over the reins. You're still in charge.

The Money
Using a designer does not have to be a costly endeavor. Many showrooms and home centers offer free design services if you purchase from them, and some designers will do an initial in-home consultation and budget estimate at no or minimal cost.

Free estimates and consultations are a good place to start, but don't automatically avoid a designer because of the fee. Consider how minor a kitchen designer's consulting fee is to your overall budget. Doing it right the first time is essential - and priceless. Kitchen and bath designers, are definitely important in my books and any renovation tip given by them is surely useful!

One major benefit : Designers often have access to resources and products that may not be known or available to you on your own. They can save you hours of legwork.

Going it alone is risky. DIY design, labor, installation, and products and materials from unproven sources invite problems that outweigh any cost saving.

The Hunt
Most designers tend to gain new clients through referrals, so seek those out too. Ask friends if they have worked with a designer or know someone who has. If you see a project you like that is similar to yours, contact that designer. You'll be one step further along in the process knowing the designer has done projects like yours.

If you're starting your search from scratch, check out designers with retail showrooms. When evaluating the showroom, ask yourself if it's well-designed or offers something innovative. The space will likely be indicative of what the designer can do in your home.

The Review
Be sure to interview potential designers. Look through portfolios, call references, clarify fees, and be sure the designer clearly comprehends your project goals.

Above all, find someone you're comfortable enough with to voice your opinion, even if it means rejecting some ideas.

See What's on Sale Today at

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Meaning Of Chinese New Year

"Happy Chinese New Year!", to all my Chinese friends and readers.

Since I have been on a long, long vacation (I somehow would like to think of it as such...) from my usual blogging behaviour. I figured since today marks the beginning of a new calender for the Chinese - the first lunar month in the Chinese calender, it would be a great day indeed to begin a new chapter towards my personal blog - Nihal's Anything n Everything. So, let's look at what this special celebration is all about and what's the meaning of Chinese New Year.

If we understand the Chinese culture, we would realize that the Spring Festival is the oldest and notebly the most important, if one compares it to other Chinese holidays. It's also a time for families to reunite, feast together and to wish good fortune to everyone. Preparations for the celebrations as I am aware, can take place a month before the actual day of the celebrations. This is done to ensure that it would be a auspicious and smooth transition from the current year to the new. That explains why my Chinese neighbour threw out half his house out to the garbage ... nah, I'm just kidding. But seriously, this is what they do - houses are swept and cleaned, from top-to-bottom to ensure that they do not carry bad luck over to the new year.

And we're quite lucky here in Malaysia as we have a strong influence of their culture present in our country, feasting with family and friends a like, at open houses have become a norm. And to be frank sometimes their meals can be very elaborate at times, not that I'm complaining, but this is definitely something I look forward to, every year!

Traditionally the ancient Chinese believed that the years would be in a cyclical form - Twelve Animal Signs, each representing a specific year in their calender, that would repeat itself over and over again according to a pattern.

A popular Chinese folk methodolgy has it that all these 12 animals had a quarrel one day as they were deciding who would be the leader to head the calender, since they could not find a solution to this, God decided to hold a contest to see who would be the first to reach the opposite bank of the river.

As soon as the signal was given, all the twelve animals jumped in and dashed across. Just as the Ox was reaching the shore, unknowingly the Rat had cleverly jumped on his back and quickly hopped off to come out first in the race. And as usual knowing the Pig, he being a lazy creature, to say the least, ended up being last. So now you know why the Rat is named as the first in the animal cycle, followed by the Ox and lastly the Pig, representing the last year in that cycle. With the start of this years Chinese New Year celebrations, we will be entering the year of the Rat.

Since you already know that I fancy the mystic's behind Feng Shui and all, Chinese New Year is no different. Even meals that are prepared during their family eve dinner has to mean something, take for example - nian gao, a kind of pudding cake made out of sticky rice, eat this and its said to help people advance towards higher positions and better prosperity for that year, step at a time. That's not all - jiao zi dumplings, looks like the gold ingots that were used during the Ming Dynasty as money, so a bite of this, is said to bring you the promise of wealth and prosperity. Noodles, yes, this is a must, the longer the better. The long noodles represents long life for everyone at the table. Not bad for eating a couple of cakes, dumplings and noodles huh ... Eat and you will have everything!

Gong Xi Fa Chai to the entire Chinese community and to the rest, happy holidays!