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Strategy and stuffs like that

A lot has been written about strategy and shelves of books have been published on this subject, especially so on business strategy. When I sit in a “strategy” meeting, it always annoys me when the participants do not know what “strategy” actually means, and started talking about visions and missions and stuffs, drawing up huge balance scorecards that has like two dozen items on them, draw up a humongous budget that will quickly be irrelevant in 2 months’ time, and talking endlessly on big topics using big and bombastic words, chic and trendy words etc. Sometimes it becomes unbearable.

Unbearable because I know after all these talks, nothing will come out of it and all it has done is to create big bureaucratic procedures and multiple reporting and tracking mechanism that does not really solve the problem or tackle the issue. Everyone has a good holiday, good talking session, good food, etc. except for the shareholders and owners who actually put up money to pay their salaries and expenses.

Not that I am any expert in strategy but for me, strategy has to be clean, straightforward and easy to understand. The actual tactical and execution part of it can be and is usually messy and detailed oriented but the strategy itself must be clear and straightforward, framing the issue at hand and tackle it head on. There is no need for high level language and busy looking charts.

During the course of my working life and studies, I have read numerous books on strategy but the one that I find closest to what I am thinking is this book called GOOD STRATEGY/BAD STRATEGY by Richard Rumelt. It is such a delightful book to read and it gives me the same sense of urgency, no-nonsense way to tackle challenges at hand. Roll up your sleeves and find a way to punch the opponent with your maximum force hitting their weakest spot. A good read and I recommend it to anyone interested in strategy.

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The Disappearing Act

All of a sudden, many of my friends stopped blogging. I have also stopped for quite a while, due to many reasons – the renovation of the house which took the major part of all my free time, then internet access at the new house, etc. etc. And yeah, did I mention Facebook?

However, recently I got inspired again reading my geeky friend’s blog which she kept up to date. Perhaps it’s a good thing to stay away from Facebook but then again, we would have interacted much more frequently if she posts on Facebook :p

Anyways, to cut the long story short, I will perhaps start blogging after getting inspired by her post where she described her “10 Highlights of 2010” post. I started to think of my 10 highlights of 2010 and had trouble doing so. 2010 has been quite a troubling year for me, both good and bad, and also the not so good. If there is a chart, I would have very much fallen in the culture scale, especially. But there are peaks in other charts as well. Perhaps I should do an account now, since I think I owe myself a new post in this new year or 2011.

So, here is my 10 highlights of 2010:

1. BOARDGAMES

Since starting this hobby in earnest at the beginning of 2010, I have pursued this hobby intensely which is very satisfying despite its negative effect on my health (due to all the late nights playing) and pocket (the games that I bought). I have made some great new friends and cemented old friendships which I treasure immensely. I play boardgames almost every weekend and have now in my collection more than 70 boardgames. Besides friendships, the other most enjoyable part of this hobby is the exploration of each new game. To be honest, it is this feeling of exploration and learning that kept me going back and getting new games. It’s like enjoying a book or music, the exploration, the joy, the experience. I love this feeling.

However, my Go suffered quite a bit, not entirely due to boardgames but also due to the house renovation. I have not played as many games as I would like and I think I didn’t improve at all this year. Perhaps I have even gotten worse in Go. As they say, you cannot have everything, can you?

2. New Home & Car

One of my major attachment in 2010 is the renovation of the new house that I bought. I have spent countless hours and effort in the renovation which took almost half a year to complete, and then after completion, there is still so many other things to add-on to it. The house is still not 100% ready as I typed this but it is more of a work-in-progress. And my dog Dolby is not giving me an easy time either. Taking care of him required a lot more time and effort that I initially imagined.

Also, as one other development, I have also been lobbying my company for a new car and eventually got it.

3. Best Book

I have not read as many books as I wished I had and I thought the best book I read in the year was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD. I was proven wrong when I read WHY THE WEST RULES…. FOR NOW by Ian Morris. This book completely blew my mind and gave me a superb perspective of the history of our human race. A superbly written book which reads like a historical novel. Very engaging and enlightening.

4. Best Concert

Hands down – Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra with the Birmingham City Chorus. Mahler sits in a very high place in my heart and mind and I think I have listened to enough of Mahler’s 3rd symphony to be able to spot a bad session. Contrary to my initial fear of MPO’s ability to pull of another Mahler (although they did a wonderful Mahler 9th – but that was under the special spell of Maestro Benjamin Zander), it did really well. I went with Philip and Alex and I was happy that they both like it. Mahler’s symphonies are not the friendliest music on Earth and it normally takes some “pre-education”, for lack of a better word, to prepare the listener for what is to come. But now I find this completely unnecessary as Mahler’s music spoke out directly. Of course, there are many, many layers to his music and thee a book-length studies of his works but ultimately, it is the experience in the symphony hall that counts. I remembered how my tears flowed during each of the three Mahler 9th session I attended. It just got you emotionally and all that studying and analysis went out the window. Mahler is great.

5. Best Thing That Happened

My parents came down to live with me.

6. Best Newly-Found Restaurant

I have finally found a place near my house that has excellent quality food and has a great price point. It is located in Mahkota Cheras and the name of the place is called, you guessed it, “Temptations”. The chef, Mr. Mohan, is one person who has the passion to sit down with his customers and explaining and sharing cooking tips with his customers. The decor is simple but relaxing. There is no pretension in the place at all. There is no need to because the food itself speaks volumes and the price truly affordable. I enjoy the sirloin steak in his specially made red wine sauce a lot. You can see a lot of creativity at work there. I will usually also have a mushroom soup made up of an assortment of wild mushrooms, well creamed and served with a freshly made garlic bread. I also love his chicken chop and his spaghetti are to die for. A creative chef, superb food in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere with a damn good price, and near my house. What a find!

That’s all for now… to be continued maybe….

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Board Games with Scott 024 – Die Macher

We shall be playing this monster this weekend. please watch but watch bit by bit. don’t sit and watch at one go or your brains may rebel. haha.

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Le Havre

This is the next game to play :)

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Board Games with Scott 046 – 18XX

Guys, we will be playing the 1856 version….. hopefully this weekend. haha. hope it is fun. if u like running businesses, investing and making yourself rich, maybe u will like this. haha.

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Mahler – Symphony No. 3 – Abbado, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra – Trombone Solo

Another excellent Mahler. The 3rd Symphony (which the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra will play this season). This video features the trombone solo and is one of the, if not the most, beautiful trombone parts I have ever listened to. Being a trombone player myself in the school Military band, I have never imagined then that the trombone can sound so good.

By the way, as I have said, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing Mahler 3rd. The quality, in my opinion, depends very much on the conductor as I have heard them play so beautifully under Benjamin Zander but so hellishly under “other” conductors such as… ahem, ahem………………

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Mahler: Symphony 5. Movement 1 (1/2). Rattle/BPO

Mahler rocks! Isn’t Mahler just great? And Rattle too. What a Mahlerian conductor. I love each and every of Mahler’s work but if a gun is pointed at my head, the 9th Symphony still gives me shivers and tears as I listen to it. Each and every time when I listen to it. That one is one piece of amazing music.

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Board Games with Scott 020 – Power Grid

This one too! Please watch so I don’t have to take so long to explain the rules to you!

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Board Games with Scott 045 – Puerto Rico

Guys, watch this. We are going to play this in the coming weekends!

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Sarah Chang: Mendelssohn Violin Concerto Mvt.1 Part1

This is so much better than the one I saw last Saturday, with Yossif Ivanov on the violin and Kees Bakels helming the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Something went wrong. The performance was uninspired at best. The funny thing is I have seen Kees Bakels and I have high opinions of him and Yossif played an encore piece that was really magnificent. Perhaps it’s just that the chemistry was just absent.

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Pi – Patterns – Go Board

eh heh heh.

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Learn Japanese: Hiragana Symbols

Haha, this is really so cute and makes learning hiragana a little bit easier!

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Turn Left Turn Right MV

The movie is not as good, but imho is good enough, as SOUND OF COLORS, also based on Jimmy Liao’s work.

There are two MVs in this video, of which I prefer the second song. And re the second song, there is a better version sang in Mandarin but me being a Gigi Leung fan (one time), here she is!

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Tian Mi Mi – Teresa Teng

A favourite song used in one of my favourite movies of all time, COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY (movie review by my geeky friend. Click link to read).

Here is my attempt to translate the lyrics:

SWEET AS HONEY

Sweet as honey, your smile is as sweet as honey,
Like flowers blooming in the breeze of spring,
Blooming in the breeze of spring.

Where have I, alas! where have I seen you before?
Your sweet smile is so familiar,
I just can’t recall it now…

Ah!… In my dream!

In my dream, yes, in my dream I have seen you before,
So sweet, your smile is really so sweet,
It’s you! Yes it’s you who are in my dreams!

(repeat)

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Tide of Iron – Wargame Video

Falling in love with this game more and more each day! Come play buddies!! Waiting for you all :)

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