Prayers Answered and Some Little Updates.

As some of you had heard, I has passed my JLPT Level 3. Although it's not really appropriate to reveal the score here, but I am happy to say that I received quite a high marks and what surprises me more is that I can score a few marks from Listening paper (which I still feel that I made a major careless mistake) but praise to Allah, I able to tackle the challenges smoothly.

And now, it is just a few weeks before departing to Tokyo and start the new phase in my life. Excited and nerve-wrecked, I realize that I will miss many things and peoples here in Malaysia and at the same time, wondering whether I can assimilate well into the Japanese society later. Being introverted, I am known as a person who not really talk much to strangers or new acquaintances and until now, I believe that is the major make-over I need so much to start making new friends.

On another note, some little updates I wish I could elaborate and post it here, but I keep procrastinating because of my daily workloads and my TOEFL preparations (I am scheduled to sit for TOEFL this Saturday):

1. I really can't wait any longer to watch Slumdog Millionaire, not just because they are the monopoly of Oscar trophies, but the cute kids and inspiring storyline. Inspire me, people.

2. Zara starts their final clearance and I really need to do some retail therapy on spring clothes. It is 7 degrees in Tokyo, and I reckon I need some layers instead of jacket. Previously I was drooling over trench coat, and I found a nice one from Armani Exchange (with a nice price tag mind you), but they ran out of my size so there goes my bargain list, another deferment.

3. I need luggage. Or suitcase. What ever you call it. What I have in my mind is the Globe-Trotter super-awesome luggage. But of course, I will only get it in my dream considering my current financial situation.

4. Still on bag topic. I love Monocle and its content including all their merchandise items.Their collaboration with Porter for bags is what I think a smart man will choose for travel(but they're actually too pricey). Pay a visit to their online shop.

5. I need a new chronograph. But put aside all the formalities, I think I opt for more casual design this time. What I have in mind is Bell & Ross military green watch. Better get one before I depart to Tokyo.

6. I will start applying for visa next week.

7. Panasonic Scholarship Office has arranged for us a visit to Japan Foundation on 18th March. Time to practice my rusty Japanese and bow.

8. I am thinking of being a member of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE, UK) but apparently my degree is not accredited by them.

9. I need a new reading material. Right now I am still reading Heat by George Monbiot but I think I need some fiction to turn me back to the world of literature. Haruki Murakami is on top of my list now.

10. Last but not least, still on books. I just finished A World Without Poverty by Dr. Muhammad Yunus and I was in awe, what an inspiring person he is. I wish there could be more people like him (especially Muslims) who can inspire people to the max rather than complaining and downgrading the moral values of the society.

11. I am currently hooked up with Anggun's latest album, Elevation. Seize The Moment not really sounds like her previous tracks but I admit I like her new experiment. Good job, Anggun!

More to come soon. But until then, give me some time to check out what it takes for me to prepare for my TOEFL.

The Mixture of Feeling

If somebody asks me what is my feeling right now, I would summarize my feelings into three words: worried, frightened and terrified. I am worried to death to wait for my Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Level 3 result, and the feeling has been intensified day by day. My scholarship is conditional to JLPT result which means I am only qualified to receive the scholarship if I passed the test. I admit I hate that conditional clause badly because it does interfere with a lot of decision I need to confirm right now, but after all, it is already stipulated by the sponsor, and being grateful as one of the nominees, all I can do is nod and wait for the outcome to reveal.

I am quite confident about the test actually. I really hope I could pass the test not just because it is the scholarship requirement, but because I have learned Japanese by myself for as long as I can remember, and passing the test would mark another life achievement to me. I didn't bother to register to sit for the test previously because I couldn't care less about it.

But being confident alone is not helping. This feeling is torturous. I simply hate it.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Life Fiction.

"You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could wear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go." -Capt. Mike

I cursed Google because I can't seem to google the right information as I want it to be. I cursed Blogger because I can't even open the site to publish not even a single post for Valentine or whatsoever. I cursed Youtube because I can't watch the Scrap Teacher drama because it was simply failed to load. And most importantly, I cursed Streamyx for snail-like connection speed in my office and Izzi for being so realistic to control the download speed for their so-called mobile broadband.

Enough cursing. When it comes to the end, I have to let go.

"Benjamin, we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?" -Ms. Maple

The weekend was a hurricane of things. My primary school English teacher passed away because of sudden high blood pressure attack. I remember her dearly since I was seven, because she is my ex-classmate's mom and I joined her English tuition class for UPSR (and that is the only extra tuition class I ever joined for my dear whole school life). It shocked me when I heard the news, of course. But I believe it will be harder to the sons and families since her husband also has passed away few years back. My former primary school classmate now an orphan and he is the eldest in the family of six. He hugged me and called my name even though it has been 10 years since we met with each other. I am sorry for your loss, Danial. And my prayer with your mom's soul, always.

"Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life. Some people get struck by lightning. Some are born to sit by a river. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim the English Channel. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people can dance." -Benjamin

The quotes that come within the paragraph of this post is from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I watched it and I loved it. I admit I am a huge fan of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. They are part of the league whom I adore and I like. And I admit what dragged me to the cinema hall last Sunday to watch it was solely because of both of them. But the beautiful wordings has give an extra point to my whole impression of the movie.

It has give me some sort of feeling to value the life from different perspective. From different view and angle. I looked back to the my whole 25 years of journey on this beautiful Earth and I know it might not as impressive as Mr. Button had, but I am forever grateful to God for every shower of blessings I have.

"It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you." -Benjamin

I wonder about what my journey will look like in the next five or ten years time. Will I succeed in my graduate school plan? Would I hold the Masters scroll? What would happen next? I can't answer that, definitely. All I can do is keep moving, stay breathing, continue struggling for all I believe I deserve to have and pray to God that is the best for me. I walked through my memory lane and saw my face when I was a kid, free and easy, and then see my face now in the mirror and I realize I am looking to two different person.

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." -Benjamin

I am on this journey to write the fiction on my own. The last chapter is about to coming to an end. And the next chapter will soon begin.

Rihanna Live in Kuala Lumpur: Rescheduled?

I was so excited and overwhelmed to groove Rihanna Live in Kuala Lumpur this Friday at Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil until my friend called me to inform that the gig has been rescheduled. From the organizer official website:


''Rihanna Live In KL' will be rescheduled to a future date. The replacement date will be confirmed by artist management within 2 weeks from now. Ticket buyers are advised to hold on to their tickets and wait for future announcement.

I even tried to call Axcess Tickets few times but my attempt was unsuccessful. Later I knew about the Rihanna injury after a fight with Chris Brown and some of the sources I read in internet reporting that the injuries are horrific.

As we reported, the photos show major contusions on both sides of the singer's face -- there is serious swelling and bruising. Her lip is split and her nose bloody. We have now confirmed there are bite marks on one of her arms and on several fingers.

And we now know this... Rihanna claims Brown struck her with his fists and that's what did the damage. There was no object used in the alleged attack.

Rihanna refused treatment at the scene, but before she left cops took photos. We're told the photos alone are "devastating proof of abuse."

And we've learned it was not Rihanna who called 911. Someone in the area heard her screams and called.
The recent update saying that Wringley (the chewing gum) has suspended Chris Brown from the commercial after police arrest on suspicion of attacking a woman (widely reported to be Rihanna):

Wrigley said in a statement it was "concerned by the serious allegations" made against Brown, who was booked by police on suspicion of making a felony criminal threat.The company said that while Brown should be afforded due legal process "we have made the decision to suspend the current advertising featuring Brown...until the matter is resolved."Brown, who was competing against Rihanna in a Grammy category, was a spokesman for Doublemint gum and his hit song "Forever" was part of that advertising campaign.Brown is also a pitchman for the long-running Got Milk? campaign, in which celebrities are photographed with a milk mustache. The Milk Processor Education Program said his participation was scheduled to end this week, as planned........Police said the woman "suffered visible injuries" in the incident, which started in a car and continued as both parties got out. Los Angeles prosecutors are considering whether to formally charge Brown, who could face up to three years in prison if convicted, legal sources said.

Albeit my overzealous reaction over Rihanna's coming down to our shore few weeks back and I really looking forward to the show, I am still hoping that she will recover and get well soon although I admit it will be quite predictable that the concert might be canceled due to the serious injury in her face according to the rumor.

But I really hope she's coming! Damn Chris Brown.

The War on Plastic

Nick Schonberger from Selectism had posted something about the canvas tote bag as the replacement for paper or plastic from grocery stores. As part of the campaign to use more recycled paper and a sustainable biodegradable world, all of us knows that plastic is a hell no-no. But to fully eliminate plastic in our daily lives would be bollocks.

I think the idea of cooler canvas tote as your grocery bag is awesome (although I haven't got any, shame on me). Remember the Anya Hindmarch's 'This is not a Plastic Bag' ridiculous queue for the free giveaway campaign? People loves fashion and cool stuff, and a bonus when it is free. But sadly the Anya Hindmarch campaign initially wants to promote the use of canvas tote as the substitute of plastic when you do your grocery shopping, not as your normal handbag. I've seen a lot of people here in KL use those totes as handbags, and still use plastic when they go to Tesco. The campaign has gone meaningless then.

Definitely the canvas totes are easier to handle, cooler and simply more fashionable than the normal grocery plastic bag. The plastics are annoying, unbiodegradable (although I read somewhere the biodegradable plastics is a great solution) and a mess sometimes (I remember my mom used to keep the plastic bags from grocery stores and use it over and over again).

There are a lot of cool design for canvas tote bag out there, and you can check some of the list here in Design Observer. I found one in which by Lovegrove and Repucci's. It is lime green in color, functional (you can crumple it in the size of a bomb; how cool is that?) and cheap (sells at USD16).

Shop your shopping bag now!

Akira Toriyama draws Ayumi Hamasaki

【リリース情報】2月25日(水)NEW SINGLE「Rule/Sparkle」発売決定!!

3月13日より世界に先駆けて日本で先行公開される映画「DRAGONBALL Evolution」全世界テーマソングの「Rule」と、
Honda ZEST SPARK CMソングとしてオンエアされて話題の「Sparkle」!
DVDには、「Rule」のMusic ClipとMaking Clipを収録!

映画『DRAGONBALL Evolution』(3月13日公開)の全世界テーマソングを担当することが決まったことで、


There you go. Manga artist Akira Toriyama has agreed to draw Ayumi Hamasaki as the character Goku from Toriyama's famous Dragon Ball manga for her new single cover, Rule/Sparkle (the single is also used for the soundtrack of the Dragon Ball movie). This is the second time Ayu uses cartoon or manga in her single image. The first one is from the single 'Connected' (the song from her I Am... album)

You can download the Honda Zest Spark CM here to listen to Sparkle (the song has been featured in the commercial). (the link belongs to Divine Ayu website)

I also had tried searching for Connected music video in YouTube but I cannot find a single one, maybe because of copyright thing. But it is available from other video source here. I love Connected music video (they call it PV-Promotional Video in Japan) because I think the anime element in that PV is so cool! I hope Sparkle PV by Mr. Toriyama is cool as well :)

Oh, Happy 10th Anniversary to Ayumi Hamasaki music career!

Japan's Panasonic to cut 15,000 jobs, shut plants

TOKYO (AP) — Panasonic Corp., sinking into its first annual loss in six years, said Wednesday it was slashing about 15,000 jobs and shuttering 27 plants worldwide, joining a string of Japanese companies making deep cuts as they cope with the global slowdown.

Plunging consumer demand, lower gadget prices and the soaring yen, which erodes overseas income, are battering Panasonic, the the world's largest maker of plasma display TVs. It racked up a 63.1 billion yen ($709 million) net loss for the fiscal third quarter compared to a 115.2 billion yen profit the same quarter the previous year.

The Osaka-based manufacturer of cell phones, batteries and camcorders also slashed its forecast for the fiscal year through March to a net loss of 380 billion yen ($4.2 billion), its first annual net loss in six years.

The last time Panasonic reported an annual loss was for the fiscal year ended March 2002, when a global electronics slump and massive restructuring costs contributed to 431 billion yen in red ink.

Since then, the company has been shedding money-losing businesses and focusing on key products such as plasma display TVs to turn itself around.

But the recovery couldn't hold up against the global slowdown set off by the U.S. financial crisis. Sales slid in a wide range of products, including flat-panel TVs, DVD recorders, microwaves, lamps and semiconductors, it said.

The planned job cuts at Panasonic — half of which will come in Japan — will come by the end of March 2010, and amount to about 5 percent of its 300,000-strong global work force.

Panasonic also will shutter 14 overseas plants and 13 plants in Japan by the end of March to adjust production and cut costs. The company has 230 production sites around the world but declined to give a regional breakdown.

"The company's business conditions have worsened particularly since last October, due mainly to the rapid appreciation of the yen, sluggish consumer spending worldwide and ever intensified price competition," it said in a statement.

Panasonic's decision to reshape its operations and speed up job cuts was positive, resulting in 300 billion yen in cost savings for the fiscal year through March 2010, said Koya Tabata, an analyst with Credit Suisse in Tokyo.

He also commended the company's relatively quick efforts to adjust inventory and reduce investments to boost profitability in coming months.

"But risks remain," Tabata said. "Panasonic is still expecting a serious sales decline to continue."

Sales for the October-December period dropped 20 percent to 1.880 trillion yen from 2.345 trillion, with overseas sales decreasing 29 percent, and Japanese sales down 10 percent.

The company, formerly named Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. after its founder Konosuke Matsushita, a pioneer in Japanese manufacturing, also lowered its sales forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, to 7.75 trillion yen from an earlier 8.5 trillion yen.

Panasonic will delay by a half year starting production at two Japan plants — one for plasma panel TVs to July 2010, and another for liquid crystal display TVs until January 2010, in response to slipping demand for flat-panel TVs, it said.

The latest restructuring measures will cost an additional 190 billion yen on top of the 155 billion yen Panasonic has already announced for the fiscal year through March.

Panasonic is just the latest among Japan's big-name companies to announce massive job cuts and forecast losses in coming months.

Rival Japanese manufacturer Sony Corp. is forecasting a 150 billion yen net loss for the fiscal year through March. The last and only time Sony reported a loss — the fiscal year ending March 1995 — the red ink came from one-time losses in its movie division, marred by box office flops and lax cost controls.

Sony is cutting 8,000 of its 185,000 jobs around the world, as well as an additional 8,000 temporary jobs not included in the global tally. It is closing five or six plants, about 10 percent of its 57 factories.

Hitachi Ltd., NEC Corp. and Toshiba Corp. are also all forecasting big losses for the fiscal year.

Panasonic shares rose 1 percent to 1,092 yen. Earnings were announced after trading ended.

Here comes another news of economic meltdown. I am seriously starting to worry about the status of my scholarship with the recent news from Panasonic. I do hope everything will go smoothly as planned and I can still pursue my studies in Japan. The communication between me and Panasonic HQ in Osaka seems okay and so far there is no sign that the current meltdown affect my scholarship. Ya Allah, please let it be that way.

From Panasonic HQ website, I found out that they're still sponsoring the F1 team and they're don't even pull off Ayumi Hamasaki yet from being Lumix Camera representative *sigh*. So, it means Panasonic still hold the corporate image strongly and I hope they're keep the same thing with the scholarship division (the scholarship is part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and there's no bonding or contract between the scholars and Panasonic).

I hope the 15 000 people who being cutted off from their job with Panasonic will stay strong and move on with their life. And let's hope this economic recession will end as soon as possible.