Archive for April, 2008

1 Marathon, 1 Night, 1 Month

Posted in Sports on April 29, 2008 by ahchen

First Half Marathon (Oct 2007)

Timing: 2:06:45

Training: 2 days

Pain Factor: 3 weeks of duck wobbling down the stairs

First Full Marathon (2 Dec 2007)

Timing: 6:56:09

Training: 1 week

Pain Factor: none physically, but egoistically, it was excruciating

Second Full Marathon (31 May 2008)

Timing: ???

Training: 1 month

Pain Factor: ???

With a morning running regime in place, hopefully I can clock a good timing without ruining my knees. And I have two 7-7-7 men to draw inspiration from, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dave Heeley.

They are the first two men to achieve the feat of running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Sir Ranulph has had a double heart bypass, and Dave is visually handicapped. Amazing stuff.

Catch Sir Ranulph below,

and watch Dave‘s compilation of runs here.


Career Advice in Manga, WTF?!

Posted in Career on April 27, 2008 by ahchen

I’m sure friends in NBS are sick and tired of receiving and deleting the never ending “spam” from Ms. TLL of CareerHub.

Just in case I get expelled from the school or something, I need to clarify that I appreciate CareerHub’s efforts in preparing me for the workforce and am considering setting up a special folder to archive future incoming mails.

I’ll definitely sign up for those workshops in due time, but meanwhile I’m more interested in “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko“. Read about it on Forbes during the exam period, and found the author’s concept really refreshing after viewing the video trailers below:

Daniel Pink – an ex-chief speech writer to Al Gore, collaborated with Rob Ten Pas – an award winning manga artist, to produce the first comic book on career guidance for undergraduate.

As an avid reader of Slamdunk and Dragonball in my younger days (btw you don’t have a childhood if you’ve no idea who’re Sakuragi Hanamichi and Son Goku, and that’s so sad…), I think manga business management books will take the printed world by storm.

By distilling key ideas from chucky paragraphs, and weaving them into a storyboard format, text-light graphic novels seems to be the way forward in our generation – a generation which is finding less time to gather information from the printed medium. Manga biz books are already being published in Japan, such as “The True Life of Carlos Ghosn” (カルロス・ゴーン物語―企業再生の答がここにある!), a series about the CEO of Nissan Motor.

Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen has created an excellent slidecast of the 6 key career advices in the book:

1. There is no plan.
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
3. It’s not about you.
4. Persistence trumps talent.
5. Make excellent mistakes.
6. Leave an imprint

During the school term, we’re usually too overwhelmed with assignments and projects to find time to think and reflect. Since summer holidays are here, do spend some time pondering about the basic and yet essential pointers dished out by Daniel Pink.

Off topic: Looks like Yeehung and Wookie can strike a potent partnership in the future, and have yet another thing in common between them. Me is you. Care Bear United manga anyone?

A Stickman Story of Conscious Consumption

Posted in World on April 27, 2008 by ahchen

Annie Leonard, an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, gives a fast-paced walkthrough of the Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal phases of the consumer goods life cycle in The Story of Stuff.

Informative and fast-paced, the video aims to raise public awareness of consumerism and global corporations with Annie’s passionate narrative and simple stickman illustrations. It’s an excellent presentation style.

However, the issue raised on dipping pillows in brominated flame retardants (BFRs) before selling them seems too extreme and frightening to ah chen. My 香香枕头 has been killing my brain cells all this while?!

Blogger Andy Brian did some research on BFRs after being freaked out by Annie’s claim, and so far there’s no concrete research findings to back up Annie.

From the perspective of a ex-NSF fireman, restricting the use of fire retardants is a tricky issue. On one hand we need to protect consumers from an industrial chemical, on the other hand we can’t compromise the fire safety of firefighters. You’ll only understand if you’ve experienced the heat. My *ahem* shrank when I was inside a burning warehouse.

There’re other areas of the video which aren’t well-supported and sound biased (covered pretty well by Andy), but given the time constraint of 20 minutes, it was a commendable feat in driving home the message of sensible and conscious consumption.

Capitalism has its benefits and rewards those who strive for their best, but it takes a narrow view of assuming humans are one-dimensional beings concerned with only the pursuit of maximum profits and utility. The Story of Stuff and China Blue both suggest that this system is in need of some modifications and tweaking.

Below is my favourite part of the clip. The animations depict the mindless rat race perfectly. Catch this provocative video in its entirety here!

Putting a Face on “Made in China”

Posted in World on April 27, 2008 by ahchen

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind whenever you see this label?

Cheap products? Inferior quality merchandise? Globalisation? Outsourcing? Human rights exploitation?

China Blue, a documentary with a title that seems more appropriate for a X-rated film, takes the viewer into a jeans sweatshop and provides perspectives from the factory’s boss and a teenage worker, Jasmine.

I shall leave you to explore the film’s webby for a thorough synopsis, information on the jeans business and some behind-the-scenes bites.

The documentary is almost an hour long, but ah chen guarantees it’ll be time well-spent. Considering the state of media control in China, Micha Peleg‘s efforts in producing the film is already worthy of support. Slip into the Levis’ you bought for CNY, and see how 17-year old Jasmine and her friends slogged to earn RMB$1 of your $100.

Edited: something’s funny with the embedded video, watch it here.

Ultimately I think we, the consumers, are the root cause of Jasmine’s working condition. I’m guilty of that. I want quality products at low cost, and I want my stock portfolio to yield a steady stream of dividends. Such expectations from consumers and shareholders keep the capitalism machine running, and 20years later, we’ll see documentaries titled “Uganda Blue” and “Haiti Blue” on PBS when companies shift their manufacturing bases.

So, are there any solutions for a more humane working condition for Jasmine? Allow me to finish “Creating a world without poverty” and see what I can pick from Muhammad Yunus’s brain. At the moment, Diana Saw, a Singaporean social entrepreneur is playing a part in alleviating the labour rights problem in developing nations. Do drop by Bloom Bags if you have the chance to go Cambodia.

I’m thankful that I chanced upon China Blue at Diana’s blog, Cambodia Calling. for I’m a more conscious consumer now. The next time I come across a “Made in China” apparel label, the least that I can do is to send my well wishes to the Jasmines out there.