Saturday, November 29, 2008

interview with wholesaler #1

I was really afraid of contacting wholesalers because the supermarket people were so mean to me. But today I conclude that I must have met one of the nicest wholesalers in the business. For so many reasons. The guy I spoke with is english educated. unfortunately he's not the son of the farmer but the partner. Oh well, nevermind. different perspective, same business. At the end, he actually entertained me for almost 3-4 hours and gave me a big bag of vegetables! Unfortunately there was a japanese eggplant in my goodie bag but it rolled out and I think it never came back in my bag again *cry* I really wanted to try it coz I would never have bought it on my own. sigh.

On the other hand, I think theirs is a unique perspective and is good to be so open. He says there are ways to get in without gahmen knowing and I wonder about that. He didn't tell me and I don't want to know but geez, I wonder if it's the same methods as I know. Unimportant though. But as ascertained, they are not interested in "domestic issues" and supermarkets don't care either. And best of all, we don't have the purchasing power apparently. Is not enough priority. Dammit I forgot to ask if they know the source is heavily degraded, would they still import from there. Shit. Maybe I should email him to thank him and then sneak in the question.

He say to treat him chicken rice and I definitely don't mind! Even better yet, I promise I will show him around Cameron Highlands. That is definitely doable. I think I can start a SG-CH tour agency O_O" Not that people feel the need for that right? Hmmm... who knows. Farm stay? :D

I don't want to say this but I wonder if his identity as a christian influences his decision making and makes him different from the chinese-educated wholesalers. I cannot say that until I have met other wholesalers. Is it an education thing or a cultural-religion thing? He speaks perfect english; and cantonese and hokkien and teochew and chinese. I'm sure he speaks malay too.

I don't have other to compare to I think but he definitely feels that it's an integral part of his business. Even the branding and the company name. Of course there is no other comparison other than to the US and again, religiosity I would definitely hesitate to comment on.

oh one important thing, i really don't like how these CH exporters disguise their names every each way. now SFL is called United SFL Plantations?! But they export specially to wholesaler #1. Wholesaler #1 doesn't do the auction deal because they do institutional customers but yet they still do home delivery so what's up with that? SH only supply them with cucumbers. Momotaro is expensive coz seed is expensive. Branding is important. Price can be 100% different pre and post packaging. I think consumer target is different too. the indonesian products because of the air/sea freight(?) are all very professionally packaged, with plastic and box prints. They happen to have the same branding too, unplanned. Their quality more consistent. The CH ones are totally unprocessed. Wholesaler must do QC and packaging. 90% of the ones he get from CH are unprocessed. But of course post-handling are done in CH only if direct to supermarket.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Publishing about yaoi

Was having dinner with M and he was absolutely amazed by the transnational yaoi phenomenon that i'm describing. he said that it can really reflect social change, common aspirations, the transnational phenomenon and how is it connected through the east asian countries, diasporas and beyond. Personally i think he's just disconnected from his homeland! haha

I'm definitely no where near changing my masters topic but this is definitely a potential in terms of just a random paper to publish. I was also very inspired by Anne Allison's presentation week(s) previously. There is much to be seen about the sociability and social change through manga as a text. Why do people read yaoi? Why do people publish yaoi? The mangaka never look outside of japanese audience but how did this become such a big thing in other asian countries and even south america! Looking at the fansub community is just mind blowing. Even for me, I'm already not very well versed in the chinese BBS but it's there alright. how how how did this happen? what do people like about yaoi? are there papers done already? I really should do a literature review.

But on a serious note, I think I need a collaborator for sure. Natalie Oswin? Anne Allison? kekeke What do I know about cultural studies or gender studies? Or japanese studies even? I'm deeply convinced that there's been a lot written already. Besides, this means that I need to continue my japanese language lessons. Also, what do I know about reading manga as text for insights into japanese society? this is out of my realm or am I just shortchanging myself? how many academics is a crazy fujoushi like me? lol

A quick search on google scholar reveals that there are much written on gender studies, communications, japanese studies literature. I just need to make this a geographical one eh? *Grin*

Note to self: refer to notes of anne allison's lecture on commons / multitudes for CJ paper.

I'm a "published" author!

While doing a name search for myself I found that I am actually on the National Library Board's database!

Bukit Timah : a heritage trail / [researcher-writer, November Tan Peng Ting ; photographer Ung Ruey Loon].

Author: Tan, November Peng Ting
Publisher: Singapore : National Heritage Board, 2007.
Format: Book
Physical Description: [48] p. : ill. (chiefly col.), map ; 23 cm.
Subjects: Bukit Timah (Singapore) Guidebooks
Singapore Guidebooks
Bukit Timah (Singapore) History
Bukit Timah (Singapore) Description and travel

Hmm how do I put this on my resume? lol I am planning to submit my CV for the PMO career talk but that means I've to update my CV soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vegetable prices rise 10-15% due to early rainy season

By Liang Kaixin, Channel NewsAsia
25 November 2008 2057 hrs

SINGAPORE : Vegetable prices have risen by 10 to 15 percent on average during the past month due to the rainy season.

The rainy season, which began a month earlier this year, has affected harvests in Malaysia, where half of Singapore's vegetable imports come from.

The rains have also affected chilli harvests in Thailand, Vietnam and other neighbouring countries.

Chilli prices have doubled to some S$6 a kilogramme, the highest in 10 years. - CNA /ls
I got to seriously think about working this into my interview questions with the wholesaler on thursday. how much is really from malaysia? how much from cameron highlands?

The Chinese news has more details. I love the chinese media in Singapore.

燃油价下滑 蔬菜价格居高不下
25 November 2008 2047hrs
梁凯欣 [video]












Wednesday, November 19, 2008

no guts for field work

i'm really not the cold call kinda gal. Yesterday i emailed one of the wholesalers via an email form (gah!) and im just wondering, what if they never reply? Should I call? I want to look for the boss but then I don't dare to call and ask for the boss. Gosh. What should I do? I really need to interview them. Help! I guess knowing the boss' dad doesn't work. :(

when do you think they will call me back? when should i start calling them? omfg nervous!

Please reply me soon! *pray*

Update @ 21 Nov 08 12:31PM
Still no reply from them. If by monday nothing happens I need to execute plan B. oh gawd... :( please please please email me back!

Update @ 23 Nov 08 10:00PM
I got a call from somebody from the company! Don't know if it's the boss or not but I can have an interview on Thursday! HURRAY!

Letter to a potential environmental geography undergrad

One of my professors got an email inquiry from a potential undergrad interested in conservation and a geography degree. She was interested to know how conservation and geography degree could be related and the prof ask a few of us "environmentally inclined" geog students to email her. I thought I'll share my long enthusiastic email. It'll probably apply to any students who might be interested in doing geography in NUS and interested in the environment!
"Well personally I would say that Geography comes closest to environmental studies in Singapore without becoming an engineer or scientist. Geography covers topics of human-nature relationship and issue amongst other things :) If you are more inclined towards the sciences, we also have physical geography that covers many aspects from hydrology, coastal geomorphology to biogeography. Personally I'm doing more environmental geography. Right now I'm actually doing my Masters and I'm researching on ethical food production and Singapore's ecological footprint, farmers environmental behaviour, etc :) For my honors thesis, I looked into social capital and networks in nature conservation.

What more, in NUS, there is also lots of opportunities to go overseas for student exchange and field studies. I did both. For student exchange, I went to University of California, Santa Barbara where I did geography and environmental studies and got even more exposure to different topics like environmental planning, etc. For field studies, we spend 1.5 months in Thailand where we get to do research in the field! I did that in my first year and learnt a lot about sustainable resource management by the ethnic minorities in the northern thailand highlands :) This is actually a module where you earn 8MC (equivalent of 2 classes in NUS) by having fun overseas doing really cool gungho fieldwork research haha :) So all this I got to do thanks to geography at NUS. They really encourage students and give them lots of opportunities to try many many things.

But at the same time, in NUS, you also need to do other modules from other departments and faculty. So this is where you can learn more by taking modules in biology or any other departments that you might be interested in. I did a lot of modules from biology to supplement my own understanding.

NUS also offers joint programs with University of North Carolina and the Department of Biology also offers a minor with overseas university for all students in NUS so you can do geography and the minor and it'll be just as good as any environmental studies or management bachelor program in the world :) In fact, in many universities, the env studies program is an interdisciplinary program where many of the professors are actually from geography!"

Update @ 21 Nov 2008, 1:08AM
I realize that this has been advertised on WildSingapore so it's going to be read by more than I expected. That's quite worrying because I don't think that this "letter" is neither comprehensive nor representative about geography, conservation-studies nor environmental geography. It's just a little bit about my experiences and mostly because the person was interested in Geography at NUS so my sharing was very biased. Absolutely PR. Of course there is more that I have not written. I often personally attribute most of what I learn not from my geography classes but to all the other activities and opportunities that I got through my time in university and this is not limited to Geography. From being with toddycats to writing my thesis, joining beachfleas, NHC and now TLW, my journey is still going on. Of course I've also been limited by Geography but purely my own fault for not becoming a physical geographer. I should be measuring things out there right now but I never did very well at that. Drats! So I've actually discovered what I'm better at and focus on my own niche. The self-discovery is still continuing today! I definitely can't claim to know it all already. It's quite true what they say, "the more you know, the more you realize you know nothing".

encyclopedia entry about vegetables

Today, got an email about a new publication on environmental issues (green energy, green politics and green food). Of course green food is right up my alley...

This publication is an online reference resource like an encyclopedia. There is a list of topics sent out and vegetables was still not yet taken! It just felt like such a sign to me. I just emailed the managing author with my research interest and tried very hard explaining why i have no publications to show for. Sigh. But I don't have anything else except one newsletter article for SEC and the many booklets I wrote for NHB. Ok, that hopefully counts for something.

The editor for NatureWatch has been chasing me to write something. I really should take the opportunity to write more for them! It's almost like a willing audience... C'mon gambarimasu monkey!

I really hope that the editor comes back favourably. It's really quite something to write on your CV that you were a contributing author for SAGE Publications!

Update @ 20 Nov
The managing author came back with monkey's first academic "publication" woohoo! well i mean she'll let me write so that's good yay! The down side (or maybe it's a good thing too) is that the topic is US-centric so I have to do extra research.

She wrote:
"Just to give you a little direction, you may want to cover ways of growing "green" vegetables, and the impact on the environment by farmers as they grow vegetables in non-green ways. Also, the stress should be a US focus as the audience is US students."

Gosh ok I really need to go read up now! Maybe Masao's wife can help give me a few advice. Hmmm Hope all goes well.

Commonwealth Scholarship

Just as I've given up hope on UK universities, the commonwealth scholarship for developed countries came under my radar.

"Applications for the 2009 Commonwealth Scholarship for students from the Commonwealth to study in the United Kingdom are now open. The Scholarship is for study at PhD level in the UK in 2009. Candidates may also apply for a “split-site” award for one year’s study in the UK as part of a PhD being taken in Singapore. We should encourage our best students to apply."

Details on the Commonwealth Scholarship may be found at this website:

After talking to Lucian today at lunch, I'm wondering if I should apply for studies straight away or just stick to my work plan. Cause for concern is that such opportunities and information may not be available to me once I graduate! :( Maybe I can tell pauline to keep me in the loop...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

field studies 2009

bumped into CGW outside the office just now and asked about field studies and i think i got myself drafted. i have been contemplating it ever since i got "liberated". i wonder if it would be a good decision though...if i were looking for job... or what if i had to finish my thesis or rewrite? omg. this means that i have to finish my thesis by APRIL. Hey that's an incentive to write faster. write faster then maybe monkey can go thailand and find a nice handsum thai boy! haha oh gawd im despicable. alright alright, i am going there because i miss thailand dammit. and also because if im really interested in working on becoming a southeast asianist i need to work on my field experience.

sometimes i really wonder what i'm up to. on the other hand my family wants to go hokkaido around that time of the year next year and they did invite me to go along... dammit. japan. hokkaido. thailand. cute boys. omg i cannot decide~ haha hope i can have my cake and eat it too. Slurp~

This would be my last chance to do field studies before i go overseas to do phd or start work in gahmen, etc. but i have to start applying for job in january. get a job for 1 year in civil service singapore or international orgs and then do my phd? must do my GRE in january too... after i pass my driving test! But I think I should write my thesis first before thinking about phd proposals...

When I'm in AAG in March I should definitely be ready to talk to potential supervisors for Fall Admission 2010.

February must be finished with my paper to submit to competition and maybe churn out something from my honors. damn im screwy

Must remember to email CGW at the end of the year to talk about this again.

where did all the cameron veggies go?

went to the supermarket just now to do some market research... literally
and lo and behold
all my cameron highland vegetables are no where to be seen!
replaced by genting highlands and thailand veggies!
wtf! so ok, thygrace and grace cup is a repeating feature
ok very very scary
what happen to my other big suppliers?
no kc kwang and sons? no freshever?
well zenxin is out and about so that means it's possible that the veggie is from cameron organic produce but COP is also reducing their exports to zenxin already. gawd i need to interview the singapore importers and this is freaking me out. sigh

This is bad for my research

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SALM certification

My new transcriber has been superbly efficient, churning out transcripts like a machine! *deeply impressed* Today she emailed to ask about "SHALAM", the Malaysian Good Agriculture Practices certification. Officially known as SALM (Skim Amalan Ladang Baik Malaysia). (DOA Website) So while at it, I also told her about SOM (Skim Organik Malaysia) and found the Department of Agriculture (Jabatan Pertanian) websites and some posters of the skims.