Sunday, December 28, 2008

Demise of one of the favourite shops in UK: Woolworths

Earlier this afternoon, we were shocked by the news of the dearly departed AlMarhum Yang DiPertuan Besar Negri Sembilan , Tuanku Jaafar Tuanku Abdul Rahman, (1922-2008) who passed away at 11.45 am Malaysia time at the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, Seremban. He was our university's Chancellor, having served this post for over 32 years. May Allah rests him in peace.

And although I have heard this news for the past few weeks, I could not help but to attach here an article from BBC of the soon to be defunct Woolworth:

Woolworths store closures begin

Woolworths store
Woolworths has had a presence on the UK High Street for almost a century

More than 200 Woolworths stores across the UK are about to close their doors, signalling the chain's final days on the High Street after 99 years.

Barring any last-minute rescue, the remaining 600 stores will follow suit by 5 January and 27,000 permanent and temporary staff will lose their jobs.

Branches in Prestwick, Liverpool, Llandudno and Gateshead's Metrocentre were those due to shot on Saturday.

The chain called in administrators last month amid mounting debts of £385m.

The rest of the branch closures will be staggered, with another 200 stores shutting on 30 December, 200 on 2 January and the remaining ones on January 5.

Closure countdown

Shop windows are displaying a countdown showing how many days are left before stores close.

In the meantime, shoppers are snapping up the last of the bargains from the closing down sales.

The shelves at the chain's Ipswich branch were virtually cleared as the store opened for its final day.

Teresa Stewart, 38, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, left with a box full of discounted stock.

"I've got so much stuff - there are so many bargains.

"I've got some school clothes for my children and various other bits and pieces. It's sad to see Woolworths go," she said.

The situation was the same at the branch in Chorlton, Manchester as goods were sold for up to 90% of the normal retail price.

One member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: "We started trading this morning at 70% off everything, then in the afternoon it went to 80% and now it is 90%.

"We have been told the more we get in the till the better it reduces the risk of us not being paid."

They said they would be open until 1730 GMT but if shoppers cleared out the shelves, they would close early.

At some stores fixtures and staff lockers were even put up for sale.

At the Notting Hill branch in west London, small posters advertised sections of staff lockers for £30 each, while a "very large safe" cost £300.

People could even take home the metal shopping baskets they were filling up with goods for an extra £1.

Shopper Debbie Anderson, 49, stocked up on pens, envelopes and a shower curtain.

She said she was planning to lay flowers to mark the branch's demise.

Staff will be entitled to compensation under the statutory redundancy payment scheme and will be retained for a few days following store closures.

Farewell sign in New Malden Woolworths
Staff at this store in New Malden, London said goodbye to customers

However, it is expected some stores in prime High Street locations will be reopened by other retailers who have expressed an interest in buying their leases, which could offer job opportunities to redundant Woolworths staff.

Last week Woolworths' administrators Deloitte said there was still interest in parts of the business but added it had "not come close" to finding a buyer for the firm.

However, it said a range of food, clothes and "value retailers" had made offers to take over the leases at about 300 stores.

Efforts would be made to put Woolworths staff who were losing their jobs in contact with these potential employers, Deloitte said.

The first round of Woolworths closures comes nearly 100 years after American F W Woolworth opened his first UK store in Liverpool.

Woolworths ran into trouble this year after struggling under the weight of its debt.

Its problems were compounded when it was forced to pay cash while buying goods from suppliers because trade credit insurers were no longer prepared to cover its suppliers.

Gloomy forecasts

The chain is the most high-profile UK High Street casualty of the economic downturn so far.

A number of other retailers have hit trouble in recent weeks, with the most recent being music and games chain Zavvi, which collapsed into administration on Christmas Eve, and the fear is that more could follow in 2009.

Earlier this week, official figures confirmed the UK economy is sliding towards recession faster than was first thought.

Revised data showed a 0.6% decrease in output between July and September - the worst since 1990 and bigger than the 0.5% fall first estimated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

And on Friday, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) - an independent group of economists - predicted the economy would shrink by 2.9% in 2009 - more than at any time since 1946.


One of my most frequent Woolies stops (famously known locally) is at Edgware Road, London. If I was looking for Pyrex pot (glass cookware range) or some on-sale chocolates or even discounted DVDs and Videotapes, I would definitely look for them in Woolies and compare them with other shops's prices (HMV, ASDA, Tesco, etc). I even bought some baby clothes for my nephews and niece there too. It is just so SAD to see it go knowing that it has been around for nearly 100 years since its first opening in Liverpool. London will not feel the same without Woolworths. I even one time bought a brolly in a rush there too. Some of their stainless steel , non-stick especially cookingware products are a bit crappy but if you are living on a modest budget, one would be thankful that they are affordable.

Adios, Woolies, you will be missed. You are now officially a history...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Seasonal Greetings and Christmas Tree

Having been in the UK for coupla years, Christmas has been the third most significant festive day to me, the 1st two are of course the Eid Fitri and Eid Adha. I still remember those christmas parties i have attended at our college and at my 1st hall, Claypond Village in South Ealing. It doesnt mean that I am committing myself religious wise to the celebration yet the festive moods were in the air.

Anyways, during our RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference, the Christmas spirit had already begun and they put up all those christmas decorations including one Christmas tree at Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa. Crazy i may say as they have begun as early as 1st December 2008 but I liked the ambience. And to commemorate some of the sweet moments during the conference, I took a picture with my old friend, Siti Shawalliah and our ex-lecturer turned colleague, Nornizar Anuar aka Kak Nonie in front of the Christmas tree on Day 1, 2nd December 2008 before our lunch break.

left to right: Manal, Kak Nonie and Shawal

One of those last moment of the conference just after the closing ceremony:

1st row: Assoc. Prof Dr. Siti Masrinda Tasirin, Dr. Jamaliah Jahim, Dr. Masturah Markom, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siti Kartom Kamarudin, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siti Rozaimah Sheikh Abdullah (all are the conference committee members), Prof. Dr. Sal Mynt (UniMap), Prof. Ir Dr. Wan Ramli Wan Daud (the chairman), Assoc. Prof. Dr. David Shallcross (Uni Melbourne, keynote speaker),Prof Masaaki Suzuki (Tokyo Inst. of Technology), Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Sobri Takriff (co-chairman)
2nd row: Dr. Renata Adami (Salerno Uni, keynote speaker), Dr. Nurina Anuar (committee member), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hossein Kazemian (Tehran Uni, keynote speaker), Dr. Manal Ismail (head of secretariat), Prof. Maria Natalia Dimaano (Uni of Santo Tomas)

I do miss the sight of those magnificent Christmas trees at Trafalgar Square, Knightsbridge and Whiteleys and those bright Christmas lights across the central london especially around Knightsbridge, Regent Street, and Oxford Street. And the moment when I first saw life reindeers in Bradford back in 1998. And that I loved receiving Christmas cards from fellow friends at Imperial too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

R&D powerhouse and Singapore flyer

This news article from Bernama is a good knock on Malaysia's thinking cap of the many MNC and GLC on the importance of the R&D and a good reminder to all the universities and research institutions in this country:


December 23, 2008 15:06 PM

Singapore Closer To Becoming R&D Powerhouse

SINGAPORE, Dec 23 (Bernama) -- Singapore spent S$6.3 billion on research and development (R&D) last year, putting the republic closer to establishing itself as an R&D powerhouse.

The republic's overall expenditure on R&D last year increased by 26.5 percent compared to the 2006 spending of S$5.01 billion, announced the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) that conducts the annual national survey of R&D in Singapore.

The agency said the unprecedented year-on-year increase by 26.5 percent was a significant jump from the 9.3 percent year-on-year increase in 2006.

As a percentage of GDP, the gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) rose from 2.31 percent in 2006 to 2.61 percent last year.

A*STAR said with GERD at 2.61 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), Singapore's R&D intensity was above the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) average (2.26 percent in 2006) and Germany (2.53 percent in 2006), and was approaching that of the United States (2.68 percent in 2007).

However, the agency said Singapore still lagged behind R&D intensive economies such as Finland (3.41 percent in 2008), Sweden (3.63 percent in 2007), Japan (3.39 percent in 2006) and South Korea (3.22 percent in 2006).

The agency also said the private sector spent more than the public sector in R&D last year when it spent S$4.23 billion compared to the latter's expenditure of S$2.1 billion.

A*STAR said the manufacturing sector, particularly the electronic industry continued to drive the growth in private sector R&D, accounting for S$2.98 billion or 70.5 percent of total private sector R&D expenditure.

Singapore's research talent base also expanded last year when the total number of researchers grew by nine percent from 25,033 in 2006 to 27,301 last year, with the private sector employing 59 percent of all researchers, the agency added.

It also said the number of reported patent applications had shown steady increase with a compound annual growth rate of 11.8 percent from 2000, adding that there were 1,739 patent applications last year.



This also happens in Singapore as reported in The Star. Mind you, this entry is not on Singapore bashing but to share with you that no matter how canggih the country can be, a few but rather significant glitches may still occur:

Tuesday December 23, 2008

Trapped passengers evacuate Singapore ferris wheel

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - More than 100 passengers stranded for six hours on the world's largest ferris wheel were being evacuated and given medical treatment in Singapore after the attraction ground to a halt on Tuesday.

The Singapore Flyer stopped working after a short circuit in one of the wheel's motor drivers cut its power supply, a company spokeswoman said.

The Singapore Flyer observation wheel seen in this November 30, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/Tim Chong)

There were 173 people, including many tourists, trapped inside the huge tourist attraction.

The wheel started turning again more than six hours later and passengers were ushered into ambulances, a Reuters witness said.

The spokeswoman for the Flyer said the stranded passengers were given water and food throughout their ordeal.

Standing at a height of 165 metres (541 feet), the Flyer started operations in the city state in February and is 30 metres (98 feet) taller than the London Eye.

It has 28 bus-sized capsules attached to a circular frame 150 metres (492 feet) in diameter. Each capsule can accommodate 28 people.

The Flyer is part of Singapore's drive to boost tourism revenues.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

Monday, December 15, 2008

Of cuteness and a World Leader

Does one's good looking trait help boost his potential to be the country's next leader?

Bemused? Have a look at some of these examples:

From left to right:

Pic 1: Tony Blair, former Britain PM, pic 2: Michael Howard, former Britain Shadow PM during Blair's tenure,

pic 3: US President elect for 2009 term Barack Obama, pic 4: Senator John McCain, Republican candidate for presidency who lost to Obama,

pic 5: Ousted Thai PM Somchai Wongsawat , and pic 6: Newly elected Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.

There are many other examples which inludes Bill Clinton era and so on. It is debatable of course whether looks could actually influence the voting numbers but it may be one of the reasons they became a leader. What say you?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mereka adalah queen yang telah dotdotdot

Strange isnt it when one man would feel totally offensive when someone likening him to a queen in a joking manner? No wonder la these people made us think they are one CLOSET poof. Like i give a 3825 innit? So they are muslims and some closet fairies, so what? They chose to be one, and they should be damn proud to stand out and be counted and not thinking just because we usik2 them here and there just a weeeeetle bit, dah melenting mak datin ala2 azwana issit? Dah la closet, sensittttippppp yaaamaaatttttzzzzz....! Grow up and rationalized. Some people memang suka mengusik and it takes like a LOTTA courage and sensibility to handle some naughty or sarcastic remarks.

(photo 1 from this website:

I guess these species are like that.

I dont mind you being whatever (batting on the other side and what not) as long as you dont mess with me. And i actually think its fun hanging out fag-hag like and that sort. They are MEN and although they are harmless to me they are damn well a good protector too just like any hetero men put it that way.

I have like quite a few gay friends meself , flamboyant ones, fairies, manly gaymen, queen-like ones and one bisexual who is now a hetero again. Do the math and that makes me a NON-homophobic person. Totally a no-brainer.

(Photo 2: Flamboyant man-doll in Georgian outfit, thats a bit of a queen fella)

(Photo 3: David Beckham, the flamboyant icon and he loves wearing his missus knickers)


And lagi satu species, budak2 awal 20an yang perasan COOL abiss laa by wearing all sort of terbukaksanasini style of clothes. Heelllloooo budak, stop being soooo bloody judgmental just because we people arent wearing the same clothes like u lot that we aint cool. Some budak2 melayu free hair memang la suka bagi this weird glare to those tudung people typecasting each and every one of them save for those who wears tudung and a lowcut jeans that shows off their butt crack no matter how unsexy their asses are. DOES ONE NEED TO PROVE WHO ONE IS ALL THE TIME? Learn this word budak2 ^&&^&^&^%@@: DISCREET. This is one of the reasons I took almost 2 years to feel at home and getting accustomed to the surrounding. And thats also why they have clubs in London that caters for different groups and then there is the 20 and below club too. Unfortunately there aint much around KL except for maybe those lounges at the hotels and tu pun kena careful otherwise one might think we are the makcik karaoke.

That is probably one of the reasons I missed out most of the KL nightlife (the after midnite ones).


On a lighter note, I am now narrowing down my choices on digicam and mobile phones. As I have been quite satisfied with Sony Ericsson mobile phone performance for the last 3 years, I am most probably will opt to replace my old Sony E to a new one. I was actually contemplating on Samsung models too but I dunno, I feel like inclined towards Sony E more. Digicam, I am still juggling between choosing Sony Cybershot series or the latest Fuji cameras. I had 2 fujis before , one the older zoom camera and the other one the 2005 digicam E550x and they are not that bad really. Like my PC choice where I have been sticking to Dell PC since 2002, I probably would like to renew my mobile under the same brand that I am currently using based on the satisfactory level. But for digicam, let see how it goes. I will of course be bringing my XD Fuji smart media card with me to learn if I could upload the pictures directly into my laptop using the card or I may have to ask the photoshop to save them in a CD.

But I seriously need a digicam now especially that I have one wedding reception in the afternoon and one annual dinner (by invitation, FOC) this Saturday. Being the "on my own" person, I'd like to get myself equipped with the necessaries and this include my own digicam. Simple as that. Cant really rely on other people to do the job and later on asking them to send those pictures by email or perhaps saving them directly into my thumb drive/external hard drive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some motivation needed here

Some quotes to bounce myself back on track and to gain the momentum and encouragement I need:

  • "One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful" -Sigmund Freud

  • "Great hopes make great men" -- Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) English Historian

  • "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." -- Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer
  • "Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past."-- Tyron Edwards
  • "Man has never made any material as resilient as the human spirit."-- Bernard Williams (1929-) English Philosopher

  • "The three great essentials to achieving anything worthwhile are:first, hard work, second, stick-to-it-iveness, and third, common sense."-- Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) American Inventor
  • "He who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything."-- Arabian Proverb
  • "It is a glorious achievement to master one's own temper."-- Anonymous

  • "When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen."-- Arland Gilbert

  • "The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."-- Chinese proverb

  • "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."-- William Arthur Ward

  • "We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic. " -- E. Merrill Root (1895-1973) American Writer
  • "Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve."--Mary Kay Ash
  • "He who has persevered (through hard works, determinations and efforts), wins" (man jadda wajada) -- Arabic proverb

Those quotes are just those few I found in my email inbox and Google. Care to share some of your favourite quotes here too?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brief entry

So many things to say, so little time....ok, more precisely , so little mood i have to break down all that i had in mind to write them down.

In brief :

  • Petrol price has to date made a total of 80 sen reduction since that horrible RM 2.70 sudden price hike. Good news? So far, it is.
  • RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference organized by most members of our department including yours truly went on VERY WELL indeed at Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa and a few of my old friends also turned up as participants. It was rather an overwhelming experience to me that left me with a fine line (or a mix) between euphoria and repression. For some, or should I say, most consolations came from many participants across ASEAN and Asia Pacifics who offered their sincere warm gratitude to me and 2 of them, one a professor from Phillippines and another one, a research engineer from Italy (who was also one of our keynote speakers) even mentioned my name as part of their acknowledgment in front of the audience.
  • Aidil Adha was a bit of a quiet celebration this year for me. Both my parents are performing hajj and we gathered at my eldest sister's place, which is just a 5 minutes drive away from our family house. Not much could be said. But I still did my morning solat sunat prayers, and that was my "highlight" of the day.
  • I missed MJ more and more. I hope he will get his viva date soon.
  • My old 2005 Fuji digicam broken as a result of major faulty at the telescopic motor that connects to the lenses. And to add to the disappointment, it occurred RIGHT before our RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference banquet dinner, on 2 December 2008. Good thing was, many took pictures with me and our trusted technicians managed to capture many moments too. So, I gather that I need to copy those photos into my external hard drive and later to be downloaded into my pc. I am thinking on replacing it with a newer Fuji model (it's about time!) or maybe I could try Sony Cybershot or some few other digicam models/brands.
  • I almost have never had this kind of situation where more and more people kept coming to me to request to take pictures with me than during the 2-day RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference. Did I just shot to fame? Or it was merely another way of them expressing their joy having able to participate at the conference through some constant correspondance with their mistaken for man conference head of Secretariat,that's me. That man part was all due to my peculiar name which made it sound a bit masculine to many.
  • I was made a Malaysian "mascot" ....ok...putting it in a nicer way, the Malaysian model gracing our TCE magazine since my international debut in 2007. That very photo of mine still graces the leaflet and registration packs across Malaysia for those interested to join the IChemE in Malaysia. I could see my smiling photo on the IChemE booth at our conference.
  • 15 November 2008 marked our very first reunion as a career people and many are married with family too for our KISAS ex-classmates. Not everyone turned up but the turnout was encouraging. Some came with their spouses, others even brought their kids along too.
  • Its the end of year Malaysia MegaSale, and so i need to buy a new digicam and perhaps and new mobile phone too (a Sony Ericsson walkman series) also over 3 years old. I have never bought any of those here in Malaysia. People have been advising me to go to Low Yatt Plaza for that reason and since I have never been there, maybe I should do my survey across that nationwide most famous "electronic gadget emporium".
  • I have made many new friends through blogging and some I have actually met and befriended in real life too apart from those old friends of mine. One of them is Makji Esah, met 2 months ago and she is far demure than her blog persona.
I had wanted to be more emotional here but I dont think it would do good anyway writing them in anger.