Binge On History

In the past week or so, I've been binge-ing (is that a word?) on documentaries about history in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. 

Some of the information challenged my 'traditional' views on the area, while other bits made me want to find out more.

Certainly, all documentaries have some bias in them, depending on the angle and intent of the producer. The point, then, is to take in information from different sources and piece them together in a way that makes sense to me. 

A trio of things that struck me:

1) Historical figures are often portrayed in a good light by their own people's history texts. Accounts from other groups of people may shed light on their actual behaviours and deeds.

2) There is little consensus on historical information and what they mean. Interpretations vary according to the historian's culture, personality and mindset.

3) Events that once occurred are often very similar to situations today. It's no stretch to say that 'history repeats itself'.

A Class in the Business Canvas Model

Last Saturday (I realise it's been quite a few days), I attended a workshop on the Business Canvas Model.

Never having heard of it before, I went with an open mind.

What I learned was very useful for what I am doing now. It was a rather straightforward template which you fill in with information about your targeted customers, their behaviourial patterns (to help you determine what you should provide for them), how you intend to get the product/service you are providing to them, what your company does etc.

The facilitator (whom I happen to know from a previous meeting) was careful to remind us that many of the things we put down on the canvas template are assumptions until they are tested.

Even so, he encouraged us to try them out and make changes along the way. He emphasised the need to experiment and adapt because the market changes all the time and things are always moving. 

What he told me reminded me about microtrends - seemingly inconsequential small trends that, if you integrate into a big picture, can influence the outcome of an idea or direction.

Having had the opportunity to make some plans, I realise how much more planning and thought is required to get a business to work. That said, it's great to have guidelines to follow so I don't have to come up with everything by my own limited experience.

It's going to be busy these few upcoming weeks, what with major projects coming in and all sorts of events to attend. Gotta get that brain and body rested!

A Gem-filled Weekend and A Disgraceful Encounter

After 4 days of intense buying, negotiations, and contact-building, my cravings for colourful  gems have been temporarily abated.

I spent a fair bit of money, mainly for gems for my personal collection. There were some business-related expenditures as well, and the unveiling of the new project on The Gem Hunter page will be revealed soon as soon as the air clears up so I can take some decent pictures of the project.

It's always a bit more interesting to attend a fair on the last day, when most vendors will be willing to lower their prices so they make a little more profit, or at least recoup their costs. I didn't buy anything on the last day (Sunday), but I did want to walk around and take in information.

I ended the day at a Cambodian vendor's booth, one from whom I bought a number of things over the numerous times he has come to Singapore, in order to ask him to help me find a few items from his home country. He, nice as he is, willingly agreed, and we will continue our correspondence.

While there, I was appalled at the nasty, disrespectful behaviour of a few groups of middle-aged women. They were hard-bargaining and very rude towards the vendor, giving ridiculously low prices. One even gave less money than was agreed upon, insisting that she had none left, and walked off with the items.

While they were going about this, one or two of them even turned towards me, as if expecting me to agree with their unjust prices and approve of their disgusting, disgraceful behaviour. I never deigned to even acknowledge their presence, completely ignoring them instead.

Having some idea of the market for gemstones and jewellery, I knew that he likely ended up with a loss on some of the items that were sold. 

I am ashamed to say that these middle-aged women (they were certainly no ladies) were Singaporean, having heard the way they spoke. I felt bad for the vendor, and hope that he will not view the rest of local Singaporeans in a negative light.

Seeking bargains is one thing. Behaving as if you deserve rock-bottom prices at the expense of another person is quite another. Some Singaporeans like to complain about the uncouth behaviour of certain foreign workers in Singapore. Yet, are some of us so different ourselves?