Why Everyone Should Use Blockchain for Supply Chain Management

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Supply chain is a massive network wherein goods and services are produced, packaged and then delivered to the hands of the end-user. The components of a supply chain may include natural resources, ingredients, retail, customer, and return.

A cup of coffee, for example, is the end-product in a large chain of processes. It is coffee beans harvested in farms in Africa, grounded and packaged in a factory, then shipped to warehouses in the United States, and subsequently distributed to retailers for sell before being pressed and served to you in your local coffee shop.

As such, supply chain management requires managing complex and mind-bogglingly massive amount of information. Here are three ways Blockchain significantly increases efficiency for supply chain management:

  1. It makes information transparent.

Blockchain can trace and track each step in a product’s creation, and so, it is easier to see a problem when it occurs and to resolve it quickly.

 

  1. It minimizes corruption.

The information in blockchain technology is shared by every one and non-tamperable. Participants in the supply chain are accountable for their actions as opposed to the opaque transparency in our current supply chain where information is not shared among all the suppliers and procurement officers.

 

  1. It keeps track of all the transactions within the chain.

Blockchain makes it easy to keep track and verify the certificate of products regardless of the physical location of each party, and the complex logistics. This reduces effort and paperwork.

 

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The Concrete Jungle: A short story with Hong Kong as a character

Day time is structure. It is tall buildings, and sunlight that reflects off of windows of the HSBC office tower in Central. Buses roar and almost kiss the back of other cars in sheer proximity. A hundred people cross the street simultaneously. Sped up people; sped up lives. The financial heart of Hong Kong pulses in fast but steady beats-

Ah Wai pauses in his writing.

Would a heart that beats faster than average still be considered a healthy heart? Would it make sense biologically for a heart that beats fast to also beat steadily or should it be “erratically”? No matter. He’ll think about that later. It’s more important that he keeps the flow goin’.

If there were a witching hour in HK, nighttime would be it. The smog of pollution in the morning is replaced with smog of exhaustion inside noodle restaurants. The night is pitch black but underneath the neon lights, people sway to music with glasses and bottles in their hands like they would to witchcraft some thousands of years ago. Their faces are lit up in red, blue and green. “There is no time like the present”, says the static, million-dollar-view of Victoria Harbour.

“Just write about an undercover cop, bro,” His friend says half passive-aggressively and half exasperatedly, referencing the last movie that made substantial impact on Hong Kong’s film industry to the point that there is at least one TV series about an undercover cop per year.

“Or kung fu.”

“But I want to write a story about isolation in the city and a love with no expiry date.”

He turns back to his Macbook Air, slightly miffed at the interruption. He reaches over for his cup of coffee in distracted indignity but knocks it over the small, round table instead. The black coffee mug hits the ground with a thunk and its content almost splashes onto an office lady walking by. Their eyes meet briefly and for three seconds longer than average. He thinks she has nice eyes and she thinks he would be cute if he only parted his bangs in a 7:3 ratio. Then Christine remembers the members-only deal from Starbucks and Ah Wai hurriedly mutters an apology while attempting to clean up the reason for their meeting.

Christine fits right into the line of sharply dressed people. She only has an hour of break time and by the time she gets another chance to grab a discounted cup of coffee the coupon will have expired. So she washes the $10* fishballs on a skewer down with caffeine a block away from Starbucks and is careful not to get the extra spicy curry sauce on the Prada on her feet and the Gucci on her arm.

It is a Saturday afternoon and she has finished finalizing the details of her project after working overtime all night and then all morning. After all, how can she rest when promotion is so close? It is either him or her. What is worse than being bested by a middle-aged guy when she has two degrees and works twice as efficiently?

It isn’t until she turns the corner down onto Temple Street that she notices a jade stall decorated with the red and green of its products in the market. She thinks of her baby nephew and the tradition of buying small jade pendants for newborns. Christine pushes the thought that she is thirty-one already and the boyfriend…she doesn’t need one anyway. Too busy. She still has a long way to climb. She walks towards the stall. This is too old-fashioned, but she would splurge for the newest member of her family.

“Pretty girl,” the old lady at the shop smiles and gestures for her to grab a stool, “looking to buy jade for yourself?”

She shakes her head. She prefers to stand whenever she gets the chance. “It’s for my sister’s son.”

She prefers also to take “pretty girl” as a genuine compliment. Besides, what is beauty if not hard work and maintenance? In her line of work, first impressions matter as much to those outside of the company as it does to those within. She prefers not to think about the way coworkers are drawn to him and the way the new girl cowers before her before she even offers to teach her about the phone extension codes.

She ends up staying for the full duration of her break, digging through piles of gemstones and almost makes it back to work late. Who knew you could buy actual jade in a market like this one on Temple Street? Christine doesn’t know anything about the authenticity of the gems and doubts that any products sold here have been certified. Though there is a level of pride in the old lady as she recommends the various types of jewels to her, and a level of self-assurance in that she just knows her products to be the real deal. The next thing she knows is that the monetary reservoir she sets aside for the “extras” in life, like new clothes and shoes, is being slowly depleted and is cutting dangerously close to necessities like rent and money for her parents. Maybe she would feel as strongly for her company’s next product?

Fei jai, or Fatty, is loved by everyone– as they rightfully should. Fish. Meat. Sweat. Preserved food. Flowers. They are a scent medley that is distinctively “home” to him. Pink pepper from Ocean Islands in Dior’s Escale aux Marquises perfume, however, is not. And boy, is it the most exciting scent ever!

He pivots his head sharply towards the lady in a business suit as if his head is just an extension of his nose. The female is currently hunching over the tiny shop of the old lady who sneaks him snacks sometimes. Ah, that kind of human. The kind that goes into his territory for short periods of time, and not only do they smell of the outside, they would usually take the time to stare at him when others don’t. But right now, the mysterious scent calls out to him.

He gets up from the warm place over here, stretches, and is satisfied when tension is expelled from his muscles. Right then and there, he decides that she will be his, and so he steps out from the warmest place on Temple Street (he would know) and into a slightly less warm one. He prowls toward the lady with a purr and the intention to rub his cheek all over her ankle, but the lady deftly steps back from him as if she has practice doing that all morning.

“Fei jai, don’t get in the way of other people,” one of his humans, the one hacking away at various parts chides in his too-loud-voice. Fei jai’s ears flicker in annoyance. His human turns his attention to the female would-be-his-human. “Excuse me, the brat usually just sits around doing nothing. I’m not sure what’s up with him today!” He laughs boisterously as he swings a butcher’s knife and cleanly breaks off the spareribs of a pig.

“No problem.” She only manages to give a thin-lipped smile before hurrying off.

Fei jai makes a move to follow but meows in surprise as his other human grabs him from the back around his waist. His thin and short arms struggle a bit under Fei jai’s weight. The fabric of his second-hand school uniform is too rough and the belt buckle digs into his fur. Then, Little Human shifts his arms in a way that cups him perfectly and Fei jai is content to forget about the pink pepper and focuses on the now warmest spot on his street.

It is just like any other day in Hong Kong. Ah Wai decides to write a romantic comedy about two office workers and a love with a price tag on top after cleaning up his spilled coffee. Christine finds it surprising that she would find authenticity in a street full of copies. Fei jai has briefly fallen in love with Escale aux Marquises and just as briefly has forgotten about it. The concrete jungle resets itself in the afternoon and life goes on.

 

 

 

9 Things I’ve Learned From Teaching in Hong Kong

Teaching English is a common profession for people looking to work overseas. Depending on the type of institution you work at, this sometimes means you have to teach kids from kindergarten all the way to grade 12. Here are ten things I’ve learned working at a centre that provides mostly one-on-one tutoring lessons!

1. There’s a lot of learning on your feet.

Trinity GESE exams, inter-school speech festivals,  phrasal verbs…etc, what are all these!? Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up soon. Dig into resources, such as exercise books, past papers, and the Internet to navigate through this maze. Kids in Hong Kong are encouraged to participate in as many competitions as they can in the hopes that the more awards they can obtain, the better chances the children have at getting into high-ranking schools. Their English textbooks also heavily focus on grammar, which isn’t something someone who has studied at a predominantly English-speaking country would likely be exposed to.

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Phrasal verb= verb + preposition. For example, “look into“, and “look after” mean completely different things.

Do you ever pull out chunks of your sentences to study their individual meaning instead of focusing on the overall message? Yeah, me neither. 

2. Stationery is power.

So is the floor of the apartment you live on, apparently! The higher the floor you live on and the cooler the stationery you own, the cooler YOU are. This is especially apparent among younger girls, but it can also be observed in some boys. What do you mean you don’t have a Pikachu mechanical pencil purchased in Japan and a huge pencil case with more compartments than you need?

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Smiggle: A Smile Makes a Giggle. Memorize this to score some brownie points. 

3. They have exams every few months.

The six-year-old student who has holes where his front teeth used to be? He has just finished his Chinese exam and has General Studies, English, Putonghua, and Math exams coming up.

4. There is a ranking system for all the local schools in Hong Kong.

A Primary 4 student walked into class crying.

Me: “Hey… what’s wrong?”

P4: “I got 84% on my English test! My mom just yelled at me because it isn’t in the 90’s!”

The best schools belong in the “Band 1” category, the good schools belong  in “Band 2”, and the not-so-good schools are in “Band 3”. Almost all parents want their kids to get into Band 1 schools, believing that the better the schools their sons and daughters are in, the brighter their futures will be. Aside from getting stellar report cards, most children have to go through interviews for primary school, high school, and even kindergarten (that’s right).

However, there are differences in terms of curriculum between schools. For instance, Heep Yan Secondary School tends to base the grammar their students have to learn on the novels in their syllabus, whereas Ying Wa College is considered to be more of a traditional school with their set grammar textbooks.

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“Winning at the starting line” is a popular saying among Hong Kong parents who think that 1) they must start by getting their kids into a well-known kindergarten 2) they must make sure that their kids have all the help necessary to maintain or reach their As, and 3) sign their children up for extra-curricular classes early. 

5. The HK government urges parents to let their children play freely for “at least 30 minute a day”.

Ergo, many parents DON’T let their kids play freely for 30 minutes a day. The message, as broadcasted on the city’s major TV channel, continues, “academics are important, but childhood should be a time of happiness”.

I’ve had similar conversations on this topic with a couple of my students too.

Me, to my 5-year-old kindergarten student: “I’ll let you play once we finish this last worksheet, yeah?”

Throwing a tantrum, 5yo:  “I’m so tired, I just had fencing class and I always have Math or Putonghua [tutor] class after and then I have to do my homework! I have a lot and when I finish it’s so late and I never get to play!”

The same Primary 4 student as above.

Me: “It’s the weekend! You can take it easy a little bit right!?”

P4: “Of course not! It’s because it’s Saturday that I have a lot of [extracurricular] classes to go to!”

This brings me to my next point…

6. Assure your students that they aren’t their grades.

Yes, grades are important but so is their mental health! It may be counterintuitive for you, the tutor/teacher, whose success relies on the fact that they get the good results their parents have paid for. However, understand that most are under tremendous stress from school, parents and that some don’t even get enough sleep having to wake up at 6 a.m. just so they could catch the school bus.

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My boss says that one of the advantages of small classes is that you can talk to them individually and become a companion to them as well.

Well, I’ll like to think that I have succeeded in that somewhat if they ask me questions about puberty.

7. Believe the kindergarteners when they say they need to go to the washroom.

The fact that they absolutely cannot hold it in comes as a surprise to me since I haven’t had much (i.e. any) experience especially with teaching young kids prior to this job.

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Instead of trying to convince them to hold it in for “just 5 more minutes”, use that time to round every kid up and do a group washroom trip. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this.

8. Older kids have a Whatsapp group for their class.

“My friend got her cell phone when she was in Primary 1 [6 years old]!” my 10-year-old student stated heatedly at the unfairness of her situation.

They usually use the Whatsapp group specifically made for their class to ask each other questions about their assignments. Sometimes, their homeroom teacher is included in their chat too.

Of course, we must never forget to mention the constant meme spam.

I’m only sorry that this is an old one.

9. Most HK kids are brought up by domestic helpers and/or their grandparents.

Living in one of the most expensive cities in the world is not easy. Especially if you have children and have to pay for their school fees, swimming lessons, violin lessons, and Math classes…etc. Many parents are very busy working to make their ends meet. Hong Kong’s working hours are also notoriously long!

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In comes the heroes who would swoop in to make sure their kids get fed and chauffeured to all these classes on time.

Kids tend to be quite attached to their helpers and grandparents as a result.