Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thoughts From Champions League Final 2009 - Part 2

I love sports. I enjoy watching and reading about sports. The artistic expression of human motions, displayed by men and women through their skill to perfection, or otherwise; the sparkles from the interaction amongst individuals as a team, attract my imagination and admiration. But what intrigues me most is the drama from the spirit of humanity going through the challenges of sports. For example, currently in golf, I'm waiting to see how Tiger Woods would reclaim his supremacy after his knee surgery (I'm quite sure he will); in tennis, Roger Federer after his fall of form (him, I'm not so certain). Football? The future direction of Ronaldo (who will most likely leave Manchester United), EPL's (or Ex-EPL's) Newcastles FC. Badminton? Our national team's perennial struggle to climb to the top, of course. Formula 1? The momentum of Ferrari with their recent revival in the just concluded Monte Carlo race, and Brawn GP ability to ride their spectacular waves of success at the top, etc.

I have no fvaourite team in the Champions League Final at Rome a few nights ago, it was an exciting and entertaining game of football to watch. I neither yelled in joy nor cursed in disappointment after the final whistle. But, when I watched Thierry Henry of the winning team dancing in celebration after the final whistle, I was pensive.

Thierry Henry started his professional football career in France, Italy and then England. It was during his spell in England with Arsenal football club that his star as a footballer (no, not soccer player) started to shine brightly.

Thierry Henry developed into a world-class footballer during his times in Arsenal. With Arsenal, he had won all major domestic club titles and set some impressive football records. Coupled with his successful international career, he has in his collection all the winner medals a footballer dreams to have, except one - the European Champions League.

He had his chance in achieving that in the Champions League Final of 2006 in Paris, when Arsenal played Barcelona from Spain. Arsenal lost 2-1 in the rain of Paris. Henry was 29-years old then.

In 2007, Thierry Henry faced a major crossroad in his professional football career. At the age of 30, the possibility of a downhill slide in form is looming. Finding him leading a young squad in Arsenal, dream of laying his hands on the winner medal of the Champions League remained elusive in the short term. In June 2007, when a decision was made, he left England for Spain after 8 years with Arsenal in pursuit of personal glory.

Thierry Henry didn't have a successful first year in Spain with his new team. But this year, his second, with a great team, Thierry Henry finally grabbed the coveted winner medal of Champions League. As I watched him dancing victoriously on the pitch after the final whistle, my eyes was gazing pensively on his shirts, in the colors of Barcelona FC.

The image of him holding the winner cup wearing a shirt of the football club that crushed his dream of glory 3 years ago was fascinating. My fascination of the competition was at its peak during the semi-final stage of the competition. When Arsenal had a chance to meet Barcelona in the final. The prospect of Thierry Henry playing against his old club, which he had no success with in this competition, in the final thrilled me to the tips of my hair. But, the greatest of irony did not materialise ... actually, the greatest irony would be Arsenal making it into the final and beating Barcelona to win the Champions League.

When Arsenal failed to qualify for the final, the whole world knew Thierry Henry made the right decision in 2007. When he wore the winner cup on his head after the final whistle in Rome, Thierry Henry knew his decision was fully justified - in terms of personal glory.

But to me, although he has all the winner medals that he dreamed of in his cabinet now, there's still something lacking in making him a football legend, even though he is undeniably a great footballer.

When he left Arsenal in 2007 for his personal glory, in my humble opinion, he has lost a very holy quality that would make anyone a legend - a holistic ideal. Mind you, I don't think he left without the blessing of his supporters, and he certainly left with the blessing of his then manager and mentor, Arsense Wenger. But chasing personal glory in sacrifice of a team humanized Thierry Henry. The decision swung him away from a potential legend to the worldly status of a great footballer.

If he had stayed, and never won the Champions League title, come close a few more times in winning it, I think he would be more of a football legend than what he has achieved now. Alan Shearer comes to mind - glory to the team before glory to an individual.

But still, congratulations to Thierry Henry to finally achieve his dream. I'm happy for him. But still, I just couldn't stop thinking about the significance of his decision in 2007 to leave his beloved Arsenal in the realm of team sport.

And that's when I think of my Part 1 post about my daughter's incident. Strange?


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thoughts From Champions League Final 2009 - Part 1

"No, I think you shouldn't raise your hand," I interrupted.

My nine-years old daughter came home with the story of how her class was given a collective punishment for being too noisy during one of her class. Apparently the mild-mannered teacher was too soft to control a bunch of noisy nine-years-old and the principal had to take over.

After giving a verbal lashing to the class, the principal decided to punish them for their misbehaviour. However, the pupils were given a chance to clear their innocence. The principal asked the one who didn't talk during the ruckus to put up their hand to avoid punishment. None took the offer, and all of them were punished.

"Well, did you talk during the class," my wife inquired.

"No, I didn't," the little girl replied.

"Then, why didn't you put up your hand?" my wife asked.

That's when I voiced my opinion.

My reasoning?

Firstly, it's not exactly a serious offense.

It's not a serious offence because ... nobody got hurt? Alright, maybe the pride of the teacher was dented. But in this case, being overpowered by a group of nine-years old? Anyway ...

Secondly, they are a group of nine-years old after all. The misbehaviour was probably out of cheekiness more than malice - it's a mischief. They were talkative, they were noisy, they were talking noisily, they were nine-years old, so what? Okay, they did it in front of the teacher, it's disrespectful and that's not good. They deserved the punishment.

The main point is - when the children were offered the chance to avoid punishment in such situation, should we encourage the child to raise her hand or stay quiet? My immediate reaction would be to remain with her mates.

Assuming I was right in pronouncing this misbehaviour as a "not-a-serious" offence, should we ask the nine-years-old to declare her innocence, as a matter of principle, and detach herself from her friends? Or should she remain quiet and "enjoy" the punishment together with her friends? Who knows, one day in the future, when they get together during a class re-union party of 10th or 20th anniversary, perhaps they'll look back and have a collective good laugh about the incident. It'll be like "Do you remember the soft teacher we had back in primary school and when the whole class was punished ..."

Poor Teach' ... But this post is not about the mild-mannered teacher ...


Y'know, I have had this subject at the back of my mind as my coming post for a few weeks. I didn't have the urge to put it down until three days ago - at the end of the Champions League 2009 Final at Rome between Manchester United and Barcelona ...

~ Part 2 ~


Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Answers to LIFE

What is Life?

Pick up the end called "Birth", pick up the other end called "Death", and it is everything that's dangling helplessly in between.

Where is Life?

It starts at one end of a spectrum marked by the blissful happiness and stops with the unbearable pain of sadness at the other end.

When is Life?

The time between when you fall asleep out of boredom in heaven, and when you wake up in relief at the same place.

Why Life?

It's a long journey between when you step aboard and when you alight, you would need some entertainment during the journey to kill time.

Who is Life?

Your mysterious tour guide in this journey.

How's Life?

Shit as usual.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Power Of One Dollar

He knew not where to go. From where he stood, there's not a clear path in front of him.

People were hurrying up and down the street. He felt as if he was the only one standing still in the busy street. "One week! That's the most I can do for you. You have one week to sort this out," the bank manager's words were still echoing in his mind. He knew he couldn't ask for more. For him, the manager had been more than helpful. He turned back and looked at the door of the building.

It was the same door that he walked out two years ago, punching in the air in excitement. Top of the world, he felt. With his loan approved, he could finally endeavour to materialise his visions for his business of three years. Amid all the potentials he envisioned, he saw clearly one thing on top, hope of a better tomorrow.

Within the next six months, his business grew in accordance to his five-years plan. He no longer had to sweat through the day. He had seven employees for that, around two brand new machineries. That numbers grew into twenty-seven and five within the next year. Orders were starting to stream in. Instead of trucks parking at his warehouse for loading, containers were blocking the entry of his car into his overused factory premises. Things couldn't have turned out any better.

Being a cautious man, he was not blinded by the exponential growth of his business. Every addition of workforce or machinery was carefully weighed against future orders; every order that arrive on his desktop was checked, double-checked and rechecked against every available credit risk analysis tool. With his conservative policy, he slowly built up a capital reserve. He was confident as his business strode forward. However, as cautious as he was, he failed to foresee the calamity that was coming his way, the speediness of its timing nor the size of its impact.

On retrospect, the fact that he was able to fend off the crisis for six months was proofs of the effectiveness of his conservative policies and his business acumen.

There he stood that day, trembling slightly. Fear had occupied him. Desperation had sipped into him. His mind felt heavy, as were his legs. Every step forward exhausted him like never before. His mind kept wondering if there was other avenue that he had not explored or something else he could do instead of wasting time walking in the street. If only the crisis had come three years late or five years early, he thought. Three year late, and his five-years business plan would have enabled his business to weather any storm. As faith would have it, the crisis arrived at a time when his business was just beginning to find its footing. If the crisis came five years earlier, he was confident he would not have any problems dealing with it too.

Five years ago, he was running his business small with two workers. He earned enough financially. He had all the satisfaction from work by producing a product of his own design. Despite being relatively new in the industry, he had come up with a product that drew praises even from the old timers. At that time, problems of any magnitude were managed with a flick on the nose and rolled up sleeves. Solutions were quick to arrive. What's the worst that could happen? With no obligation, he was ready to start all over again if necessary. But his mentality changed the day his son was born.

He could consume his meals with nothing but bread. He didn't mind doing without the tip of the technology gadgets. He still preferred his car of nine years for transportation. He winced at having dinner at fancy restaurants. But, he wanted the very best for his son in the future. That's when he started to think big.

But, he's not the kind that would look to the sky and complain. Fear found its way into him because he no longer carried the future of his alone - livelihood of twenty seven people he needed to consider. And it was this dependency on him that caused him to drag on instead of making drastic moves to counter the crisis the moments it surfaced. Desperation succeeded in growing within him because it knew that the moment he gave up, twenty seven families would suffer. His guts felt wrenched so tightly he was trembling slightly, a consequence of two sleep-deprived nights and a stomach with no proper meals for two days. His mind was so heavy with his responsibilities it was a mess. Having exhausted all avenues in the last two months, he could feel the wall at the end of the road coming at him fast.

As he strolled along the street, hands in his pockets, his eyes were aimlessly wandering around him. A sign at the window of a grocery store caught his attention and drew him into the store.

He walked out the store with a different expression. The desperate frown was gone, so had the aimlessly gloomy eyes. He was holding a lottery ticket in his hand. If Lady Luck smiled at him, he would be exchanging that ticket with enough prize money to solve his financial problems.

That was the 12th of January, 1998, six months after the financial crisis of 1997 hit Asia.

Eleven years later, he is still holding the ticket, with the number 5011742.

The ticket didn't help him sort out his financial problems in that fateful year. Lady Luck didn't smile at him that day. He went bankrupt during the financial crisis of the late 90's. That ticket, which he has kept for eleven years, had given him more than any amount of prize money could.

He still remembered vividly the calmness that swept over him the moment he exchanged his one dollar bill with the lottery ticket. He is a realistic man; he didn't place much hope on winning any prize money. He never had. But to his surprise, the moment he's holding the ticket, he could think again. Fear and desperation subsided. His mind was again calm and clear as a peaceful lake lying in the centre of protective mountains. Eleven years onwards, he has never forgotten the drastic reversal of emotion of the moment.

Eleven years ago, the night after having purchased the lottery ticket, he was able to go to sleep peacefully again, after a proper dinner. With his peace of mind, he managed to solve the problem of that week. But he failed with the following challenges in the coming months, and went bankrupt. He didn't earn any wrath from his employees. They knew what he went through and how he had kept their fate at the back of his mind. They left the company that year. But most of them came back to work for him again six years later, when he managed to rebuild his business into a considerable size again, and cleared his bankruptcy charges.

And today in the face of another financial crisis, he is calm. Fear and desperation are nowhere to be seen. He is better prepared now to face crisis of any kind in any size. For now, with the image of the peaceful lake in mind, he knows he has a weapon within him to ride any storm - the audacity of Hopes.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Who Dunnit?

Who killed Noi Taripsni? My beloved Noi Taripsni.

She was by my side the whole day until now. She was whispering into my ears when I woke up this morning. I was smiling all the time during breakfast when she was being funny. On the drive to work, she did the same thing and, with amusement other drivers were staring at me laughing in my car. While I was working, she gave an arousing performance for me and I was grinning sheepishly when no one was watching. I got all excited by her suggestive tease on the way home. I hurried through dinner, impatient for the much anticipated gratifying time I'll be enjoying. But, just when I need her the most, she's gone. Like a puff of smoke, vanished. Dead ...

I was left stranded. Fuming - after all the anticipation and waits, who took her away from me?

Eugitaf is the first name that come to my mind.

I didn't realize he was near until I found her gone. Suddenly, I feel his overbearing presence pressing against me, forcing his way onto me. Little by little, he invaded my mind and my body. I feel helpless.

But I only have myself to blame. Indirectly, I opened the door for him. Actually, I would have no way to resist, not after a hard day spent with his best friend - Krow.

Krow and Eugitaf go hand in hand, like nights follow days and the moon follows the sun. Stay with Krow long enough, Eugitaf will start haunting you, like a jealous lover. There's no escape. To different people, Krow appears in different shapes and sizes. But it isn't Krow that we are interested in, although there is no way to avoid him to get to our target - his attractive daughter - Yenom.

I've been courting Yenom all my life since I lost my innocence regarding how this world spins, and what it spins around. I can't get enough of her, although that's partly due to my own incapability. The more she teases, the more I yearn for her. The more I lust for her, the more I'll approach her father. The more I befriend her father, the more often I'll have the company of the major killjoy - Eugitaf.

However, Eugitaf has a less criminal intention against me, undesirable none the less. Especially on nights when I have special plans.

As he plays his trick on me, I start to weaken. My wall of defense crumbles bits by bits. The erotic tune he's playing into my ears is starting to have its intended effect. I'm slowly staggering towards the arms of his seductive mistress - Peels.

As she exposes herself piece by piece, I find myself drawn closer and closer towards her, like a moth to a fire. I know what she can do. The satisfaction she gives while I'm within her hold, I yearn. I know that after a night spent with her, I will be a new man, fully recharged to face another day. But on a night like tonight, I'll try to resist the temptation, as long as I can.

As the night goes deeper, I finally surrender, perhaps I had always known I would. I was staring at a blank screen anyway, regretting not taking notes when I have the chance. I'm going to throw in the towel and throw myself into her arms, giving myself unreservedly to her.

But before I go the way of the land of dreams and leave the land of creativity fulfillment, the question is still burning in my mind.

Could the real killer be Eugitaf? Or could it be S Senizal? Or maybe I never have her with me, and I was fooling myself all these times? Maybe she's just a dream I willingly let myself yield into? No, dream comes true. A fantasy, maybe?

But whoever it is, I guess the cause is less important than the consequence - I lost my Noi Taripsni tonight.

The name is insignificant. Read it forward or backward, it's still just a name.

After all, my Noi Taripsni will come alive again tomorrow and it'll be a brand new day.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Damn You!!!

"Yeah, F**k YOU!" - Recognise this?

"A**hole!!" - Ever done that?

"You piece of SHIT!" - What about this?

"Ahhh! Go to HELL!" - Familiar?

I used to have them up my sleeves. They would roll off my tongue readily during the moments, though not always out loud. But between then and now, I have fewer and fewer use of their services over times. It's not because I've toned down with age. It's not because I've resigned and given in. It's because I started to recognise them as what they truly are - hormones personified.

Our brains release a certain kind of hormones into our bodies according to the provocation we receive from our sensory contacts with the surrounding and people around us. And these hormones cause our body to react in a certain way. We like the positive bunch. They can make us live until 103, and be happy about it. It's the negative ones that we have to deal with. We might still live until 103 with them, but we might wish we had not.

I do nothing with the positive bunch. I don't query their presence. I don't probe their origins. I don't analyse their effect on me. I would embrace them, enjoy them, immerse myself totally within them and feel blessed by them. It's like reading a joke (or watching a movie) which has its punch line written all over the buildups. I'd keep reading without wondering how it'll end until I reach the punch line, and have a hearty laugh.

However, when the undesired hormones make their round in my body after a negative provocation, I would feel consumed, burnt, being done with. It ruins the rest of my day. I hate it because I don't like to waste any day - for that matter, any moment - of my life in a non-productive and negative ways. But, I have learnt how to deal with it.

I would go back to the basic and start feeling for my heartbeat, the very essence of my existence. My heartbeat defines my existence. Then I remind myself what drives a heartbeat. Emotions.

Anger hastens the beat. Calmness steadies it. Joy pumps up the rhythm. Tranquility slows it down. Jealousy confuses the tempo. Excitement races it to the top gear. Rage can drive it up a notch higher than top gear. Sorrow silences the sound. Peace calms it down.

Sure, the heartbeat can continue without emotions - loosely, that's the description of "vegetable people". Therefore: human, emotions, meaningful life, are one. Emotions will never go away as long as I'm a human who wants to have a meaningful life. There's no point having resentment towards the negative emotions and question their purposes in our lives. So, I would accept the negative emotions as much as the positive emotions. But how do I counter the poisonous effect they have on my being?


Having an understanding of the following sequence: sensory provocation - emotions - reaction, lays down the basis of my antidote.

I won't, and can't do anything about the sensory provocation. What has happened, happened. No point crying over spilt milk.

There will be instances where a reaction is warranted and justified, but that's a separate discussion.

The antidote applies to instances where a reaction to such negative provocation is non-productive to everyone, and yet I would still feel badly disturbed for the lack of it. The antidote is to diffuse these negative agitation boiling within.

In such cases, the knowledge that emotion is nothing more than the result of hormones wreaking havoc within us will be pivotal.

At this point I would like to break the flow with a joke.

A man found himself in amusement when he was in the toilet of a pub. He was watching a man holding a glass of beer, and poured the drink straight down the urinal. Bemused, he asked the other man what's he doing. The man replied coolly, "Well, I refuse, hics, simply, totally, utterly refuse, hics, to be the middleman, hics, between the glass, hics, and the urinal."

Therefore, under these negative provocations, I would just say to myself, "I refuse, simply, totally, utterly refuse to be the output channels of my negative hormones."

Do it often enough, and I find myself totally detached from the sequence of events and able to observe the happening as a third party. When I'm able to detach myself in this manner, I would be liberated from the holds of the negative emotions. I'm no longer the slave of my own negative emotions. I'm in control. I don't even feel the negative emotions anymore ... well, not that often anyway. After all, I'm just human.



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