Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moving Office

Just heard that there will be 7 new grad students next semester. One of which will be a new PhD student from Bangladesh who will be supervised by Prof. Yet another very bright student. How do I compare? Maybe it will be good not being his only student as well.

What has this got to do with moving office?

Well a little bird told me that I may be getting the opportunity to move to a bigger office downstairs. While that is something I have been yearning for since Day 1, I suddenly feel a sense of loss. I've really begun to feel for this place!

Loss of freedom. Loss of liberty to decorate the office door as if I am the only occupant (which I virtually am). Loss of easy accessibility to toilet. Loss of easy accessibility to supervisor office. Loss of space to sun my plants! Loss of easier accessibility to canteen. Loss of ability to call myself Harry Potter of Geog Dept.

What would I gain?

Gain of space. Gain of clean office that doesn't smell musky and dusty triggering my allergies. Gain of easy accessibility to pantry. Gain of company with people I get along. Gain of easy access to offices. Gain of easy accessibility from bus stop - less flight of stairs to climb.

I really don't know. I feel torn. But hearing that next semester 7 new people will squeeze in this small hole with me made me agree straight away. *sigh* I wonder if it's a wrong move.

Planning Ahead 2008

- IRB settled
- Local Fieldwork
- Local Field Work
- Visit Brastagi or Pekanbaru
- Local Field Work
- Finish ISM
- Oxford conference
- Thai Fieldtrip?
- Thai Fieldtrip?
- SEAGA Conference
- family visit in Germany
- Cameron Highlands / Indonesia
- Cameron Highlands / Indonesia
- Fieldwork / TA
- Fieldwork / Ta
- Fieldwork / TA
- Writing

Going to Oxford

Prof thinks I should go. Just need to ask for funding if I don't want a big hole in my pocket.

My sister thinks I should go. If I arrange to meet up with professors in Oxford, it'll be further worth my while.

I think this is a good chance to meet up with my good friend in UK. Only if he is free... now if he'll only come online...

So I guess this kinda means that there is an 80% chance that I will be going to Oxford next April. I will be giving Boston a miss. That's the American Association of Geographers conference.

What does the conference calendar look like?

April 08 - Oxford (Food Security and Global Env Change)
April 08 - Boston (AAG)
June 08 - Philippines (SEAGA)
August 08 - Tunisia (IUG IGC)
2009 - AAG
2009 - IUG IGC

I only get $2000 for my entire candidature. That means that I can probably pay for one international and one regional for my entire Masters and be done with it. I'm definitely going Philippines but should I go Tunisia? If I also go Oxford, then I will be extremely broke. Maybe I should skip Tunisia and only go for my "international" paid by university in 2009. I'm going to Oxford now mainly to learn. 2009 will be better time to mingle and get jobs, phds, what not.

Best not blow it all now in 2008.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Vegetables?

I guess this answers it all.
I love graphic visualization of data.

35% of our food consumption comprise of vegetables. Fruits are a fierce competitor but some how I do not feel that food constitutes part of the core diet. Of course if you don't eat fruits you will also get things like scurvy. However, fruits always feel like a luxury to me. I wonder if I can find books to justify this.

This graph was created using the AVA data on their website and it assumes per capita consumption using the population at the time. Therefore it assumes everybody in the population consumes pork when it doesn't. I'm just glad everybody consumes vegetables, even those carnivorous ones amongst us.

Why vegetables?

1) push for vegetarianism justified?
2) only food item consumed by all, no cultural or religious food taboos, only personal preferences variation
3) large percentage of our consumption by quantity and volume
4) large percentage of our import by volume but not by value as meat is more expensive to produce and consume. Understandably because they have to produce vegetables to feed the animals first before feeding us. Yet another reason to study vegetables - link to point (1)
5) large volume of perishable vegetables - does vegetables have to be fresh and therefore must have a nearby source? still need to be verified.

I'm still trying to pin down one hardcore objective in my research rather than flying all over the place but it's been hard. I've been greedy.


1) Do we really have an impact on vegetable productions in exporting countries?
2) Or do producing countries have more impact on us?
3) Does environmental degradation and change affect domestic population more than food-dependent importing countries like Singapore?
4) Who has the power in affecting the environment of agricultural production?
5) Do the different types of production method and external intervention make a difference?
6) Can adjusting consumption practices really improve conservation (environmental quality of farming area)?

1) Quantify environmental quality
2) Understand processes that affect environmental quality
3) Answer above questions through data collected from (1) and (2)

Monday, October 29, 2007

31st International Geographical Congress

Date: August 12 - 15
Venue: Tunis, Tunisia
Cost: 455 euro (students)
Accomodation: 39 euro (cheapest, single, breakfast included)
Deadline for submission: ??

Possible sessions:

C.T.2. The Actors, or the Strategic Approach to the Territory
While situating our reflection in a participatory perspective, this axis will deal mainly with the actors. It will allow us to discuss the role of the local actors, of the national State, supranational organizations, etc.
Special emphasis could be put on the strategies of the actors and on the modalities of their adaptation to the configuration of the territories.
Three axes for reflection are suggested:
- The categories of actors (State, locals, NGOs, social groups, etc.)
- The extent of involvement of the actors (concerned agent, decision-making agent, etc.)
- The strategies of the actors.

The last one is definitely my honors thesis.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My office space at Day 83

To combat the problem of ants in my office in a chemical-free way, I bought a pitcher plant. Unfortunately the species is an exotic but cultivated therefore no issue of poaching (I hope).

Now the plant-count on my desk stands at 2 and I created a "green corner" with Evie's gift from the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto right in the middle.

The desk is a little bit more tidy recently because I have been doing some housekeeping but before that it was stacked with papers - mainly reports from students that I am grading half way. Now these papers are on another unoccupied table! haha Consuming more resources through territorial expansion! Sad but true.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First teaching session!

So many firsts today but the most significant one is probably the first tutorial I taught on my own in my life in a university! I prepared the slides myself, prepared the class outline and syllabus. I even came up with the class activity. I am really one of those people that bring lots of things to tutorial to make it enriching for the students ala the PHD Comics girl. I even incorporated a survey into the tutorial so I can compile some data on environmental knowledge of students!

The first tutorial was really good. The class is really small so I got to talk to each of them. Blame it on first time jitters but then I got lost to the first tutorial. I forgot where it was and had to trouble D.P to help me! After the 1st tutorial, I was on such a roll that I forgot the next one is at 12pm instead of 10am! What a blunder. D.P had to help me call D.H on the phone at 10am. He was probably enjoying weather at home.

Nonetheless, all the blunders aside, the class itself was really good. Students in the first class discussed Vesak Day Operation No Release, Hopea Sangal and Bring your own bag day. I showed ICCS wordpress blog, changi website and operation no release poster and article on my blog!

I love how I have all my resources online. I think the students realized that as well. A quick feedback from the class saw that most of them enjoyed the class and learnt something new! Good enough for me. It feels just like a guiding session haha. It probably shouldn't but the guide instincts take over straightaway! What more, I'm talking about the same topics as when I am guiding! Even D.S says that it's probably a piece of cake for me. haha I won't say that but I will say that it's extremely enjoyable :)

Alright, time for the next tutorial! I better make my move now :)

Nature Conservation in Singapore

Just finished my slides for the nature conservation in singapore presentation, due for its inaugural screening tomorrow at 8am, during my first nature and society tutorial this semester.

Pretty excited. Uploaded the slides on google documents for my animal friends to view.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First Tutorial Next Week

This comics strip is really disturbing. It was first published recently, so close to my first tutorial session next week. It's almost like a foreboding premonition!

Argh! I prepared lecture notes, handouts with extra problems and I rehearsed the examples too!


Ok well I'm not an engineer so there's no way I did that but I really put in a lot of effort. I chose several case studies, and prepared a list of things I wanted to say in class!

I'll even bake cookies for them too! ... that is if I know how to bake.

Well, I haven't even really prepare the slides yet. Still busy marking their assignments. Now I'm just really disturbed by some comments about the article I'm writing for SEC. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Proof that GMO can harm environment?

Genetically Engineered Corn May Harm Stream Ecosystems
National Science Foundation
October 9, 2007

Graduate ECAs

This semester I've gotten involved in:

Faculty Applicants Review Committee
Department Ethical Review Committee

It may sound glam at first but all I can say is that all these ECAs are really bad for research health. Think I shall take the profs advice and try to stay away from these things in future semesters. If I can!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A mixed diet is still better than vegetarianism?

A report from Cornell University reports that "Diet with Some Meat Uses Less Land than Vegetarian Diets".
"Surprisingly, however, a vegetarian diet is not necessarily the most efficient in terms of land use," said Peters.

The reason is that fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland, he explained. Meat and dairy products from ruminant animals are supported by lower quality, but more widely available, land that can support pasture and hay. A large pool of such land is available in New York state because for sustainable use, most farmland requires a crop rotation with such perennial crops as pasture and hay.

Thus, although vegetarian diets in New York state may require less land per person, they use more high-valued land. "It appears that while meat increases land-use requirements, diets including modest amounts of meat can feed more people than some higher fat vegetarian diets," said Peters.

"The key to conserving land and other resources with our diets is to limit the amount of meat we eat and for farmers to rely more on grazing and forages to feed their livestock," said Jennifer Wilkins, senior extension associate in nutritional sciences who specializes in the connection between local food systems and health and co-authored the study with Gary Fick, Cornell professor of crop and soil sciences. "Consumers need to be aware that foods differ not only in their nutrient content but in the amount of resources required to produce, process, package and transport them."
But I think what they are describing is essentially a more subsistent agriculture and would not be suitable for intensive, high-profit margin type agricultural production. Therefore, a lot of what is required for this system to succeed is to critically reduce meat consumption and also to develop a better local food system. This all depends on the crop rotation with hay that is the practice in the temperate countries. I am not very sure how this works in tropical areas but many small-scale farms, especially some organic farms, breed animals like chicken and vegetable to create a close loop of animal dungs for fertilizer and some veg for feed while having diet of both.

Somebody should do a life cycle assessment comparison of various diets.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ecological Footprint of Asia

Marine ecological footprint of the live reef fish food trade
K Warren-Rhodes, Y Sadovy, H Cesar - SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin, 2004

Asia-Pacific Region 2005: The Ecological Footprint and Natural Wealth
M Progress, T Sustainability, C Profiles -

Ecosystem appropriation by Hong Kong and its implications for sustainable development
K Warren-Rhodes, A Koenig - Ecological Economics, 2001

Water Footprint

Books on ecological footprint and indicators

The new indicators of well-being and development / Jean Gadrey and Florence Jany-Catrice.
Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
HSSML Books HD75 Gad 2006

Sustainable development indicators in ecological economics
Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : Edward Elgar Pub., c2006.
CL Books HC79 Env.Su 2006

Impact of rich countries' policies on poor countries : towards a level playing field in development cooperation / Robert Picciotto & Rachel Weaving, editors.
New Brunswick : Transaction Publishers, c2004
CL Books HD82 Imp 2004

Quantifying sustainable development : the future of tropical economies / edited by Charles A. S. Hall ; associate editors, Carlos Leon Perez, Gregoire Leclerc.
San Diego, Calif. : Academic Press, 2000.
CL Books HC695 *Env.Qu
CL Closed Stacks (Loans Desk 3) HC695 *Env.Qu cd-rom

The business of consumption : environmental ethics and the global economy / edited by Laura Westra and Patricia H. Werhane.
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, c1998.
CL Books GE42 Bus

Sustainable measures : evaluation and reporting of environmental and social performance / edited by Martin Bennett and Peter James with Leon Klinkers.
Sheffield : Greenleaf Publishing, 1999
CL Closed Stacks HD30.255 Sus

Sustainability indicators : measuring the immeasurable? / Simon Bell and Stephen Morse.
London : Earthscan Publications, 2005.
CL Books GE140 Bel 2005

Handbook of ecological indicators for assessment of ecosystem health [electronic resource] / edited by Sven E. Jørgensen, Robert Costanza, Fu-Liu Xu.
Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis, c2005.

Environmental Indicators

Measuring environmental quality in Asia / Peter P. Rogers ... [et al.].
Published by the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University and the Asian Development Bank, 1997.
CL Books TD193 Mea

Community indicators measuring systems / edited by Rhonda Phillips.
Aldershot, Hants, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, c2005
CL RBR HN110 Com.C 2005

Development of environment statistics in developing Asian and Pacific countries.
Manila : Asian Development Bank, 1999.
CL Reference GE160 Asi.De

Indicators of sustainable development in industrializing countries / Peter J. Peterson.
Bangi : Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 1997-
CL Books GE160 Dev.Pe v. 1
CL Books GE160 Dev.Pe v.5

Kompendium perangkaan alam sekitar = Compendium of environmental statistics : Malaysia 2004 / Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia.
Putrajaya, [Selangor] : Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia, 2005
CL SMC HA1792 Mkp 2004

Ecological indicators [electronic resource]

Agriculture and biodiversity : developing indicators for policy analysis : proceedings from an OECD Expert Meeting, Zurich, Switzerland, November 2001.
Paris, France : Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, c2003.
CL Books S494.5 Agr.Ag 2003

Sustainable Agriculture

Agriculture and the environment : papers presented at the International Conference on Agriculture and the Environment, 10-13 November 1991 / edited by C.A. Edwards ... [et al.].
Amsterdam : Elsevier, 1993.
Science Closed Stacks S494.5 Sus.Iae

Environmental impact assessment : guidelines for agricultural development
New York : United Nations, 1990.
LAW TD194.6 Env

Measuring environmental degradation : developing pressure indicators for Europe / edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale.
Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : Edward Elgar, 2001
CL Books GE160 Eur.M

Measuring & modelling sustainable development / Ian Moffatt, Nick Hanley & Mike D. Wilson.
New York : Parthenon Pub. Group, c2001
CL Books HC79 Env.Mf

Ecological indicators for the nation / Committee to Evaluate Indicators for Monitoring Aquatic and Terrestrial Environments ... [et al.].
Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, 2000
SDE Information Resource centre QH541.15 Ind.Ec (long term loan?)

Urban sustainability indicators / Voula Mega and Jorn Pedersen.
Dublin, Ireland : European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 1998.
CL Books HT169 Eur.Me

Agriculture, trade, and the environment : discovering and measuring the critical linkages / edited by Maury E. Bredahl ... [et al.].
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press , c1996.
CL CLosed Stacks HF1379 Agr

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Presentations of the Week

Grad life is overwhelmed with presentations. I do not feel I have the ability to make good presentations any more. In fact, quality is dropping with every presentation I make. Diminishing returns.

My presentation skills were something I take pride in before but now, I am no longer sure about that.

Either way I have uploaded my presentations on Google Documents.

First was a research statement and literature review presentation for my Methods in Environmental Science module. I got a B+ in it because lecturers felt that I did not have a focus - too broad. But I agree and now we are working on developing an indicator instead.

Second was a talk on "Nature at Work" I gave the Industrial Design students from ID2221 who are doing eco-designs and biomimicry. It was a more general talk on places in Singapore and also the type of adaptations and cool relationships there are in nature. The presentation online is a practically image-less slide because the original file is 24MB and google documents only take 10MB. Just thought I'll store it for adaptation in future talks.

New books

Handbook of sustainable development
Giles Atkinson, Simon Dietz, Eric Neumayer (2006)
Northampton, MA : Elgar
Linc Link