Friday, December 16, 2011

i am back ...

I arrived back from the UK last Sunday. It was a hectic week there before I left, as there were so many things to do, both on the academic side as well as personal aspects. My data analysis seemed to be ok according to my supervisor, esp the stats and we discussed how they can be better presented in a paper. As well, there were other things to wrap up with the team related to the project for eg the submitted reports, posters, database, papers 1 & 2 drafts. On the personal side, I had some lots of packing to do. And some shopping, even to the last day as I had no time during the other days. I had to schedule my packing as a friend was coming to visit me on my last day there. So I told myself everything should be clear before she came! And I was able to accomplish it. Packing my stuff both in the office and in the flat was tiring and made me sweat, which was also ok considering that the weather was so cold, and getting colder. In fact there was a storm (strong winds and rain) as well as snow during the last few days!
Burning the midnight oil ... 

I had to leave some stuff with the uni.

During my stay there, from August to early December, I was able to complete the following: scoping and state of the system workshop reports, first paper draft on “A systems overview of four commercially important farmed seafood species with an export focus in Thailand” to be submitted to Reviews in Aquaculture Journal, information posters on “Sustaining the Shrimp and Tilapia Value Chains in Thailand”, analysis of data from scoping, integrated survey and SOS workshop related to sustainability issues, and, second paper draft with a working title of “Shrimp and tilapia value chain actors in Thailand: their perceptions on sustainability”. During this period I was also able to discuss with the rest of the SEAT project team in Stirling regarding the action research (WP9) deliverable protocols for Thailand, and specifically for my own PhD field research on sustainability factors identified from our field research. In addition, I continued to provide management and technical inputs to the Thai team for work related to other WPs. Now I am back in Thailand, with several work responsibilities both in project management and in the planning and implementation of action research work related to my PhD, such as: the impact of posters on various stakeholders, the causes and detection of, and means to reduce or eliminate off-flavour in tilapia, and developing approaches in integrating gender aspects in aquaculture research. 
It's surely good to be back, with the warm and sunny weather (no more layers of clothing and jackets), and delicious Thai food, among other reasons!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

things to do

what i need to do tonight, as tomorrow will be friday already!

1. work on the comments on the scoping report, including data formatting
2. data analysis re: statistical analysis of generational and sustainability perceptions data
3. complete the list of potential contacts for EU innovation newsletter for WL
4. draft a research protocol for action research on poster effectiveness for WP9
5. write more content based on data analysis and some discussion on draft of paper2

but my mind is now on preparing for my packing as i will be leaving next saturday!

messy work table at the flat!

have been doing lots of these!

... and this...

...and this!

Friday, November 11, 2011

one more month ...

a month more to be here ... now i am mentally organizing my activities as the count down starts. one of these days i really have to sit down and put the planning on paper as time will really be tight. another writing workshop coming up end of this month, and assessment of what i have achieved during my stay here - there are at least 6 expected outputs during the 4 months of stay. (status message, FB, 8 nov 2011)

Writing Workshop 2

Last 31 October to 3 November, we again spent isolated days in Thornhill for the 2nd writing workshop, for our paper 2. It was a bit different from the first one in terms of activities. We did not only read and write but also had sessions on database management and analysis. So during the four days, nearly 50% was spent on data analysis. On the first day our team had a meeting on the structure and contents of paper 2. This meeting was a continuation of previous meetings at the uni on this topic. We finally agreed on what research questions and framework we should follow in writing up the 2nd paper. We also had individual meetings and consultations regarding data analysis esp on the access database from integrated surveys and SOS workshops. It was tough for me coz I have just arrived on 30 Oct from a long trip across the Atlantic. So I was sleepy and sleepy ... I had to drink lots of coffee which I did not like at all. Our upstairs room was a tropical zone and the warmth and quiet were so conducive for sleeping! Somebody did make use of the sofa at the end of the room. I tried sitting there as well with a paper to read, and I dozed off a bit, the 7-minute power nap! It was quite effective.

Setting up our work stations

In action ... except the pet on the stairs...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Writing Workshop 1

During 6-9 September our supervisors organised a writing workshop for our team. The venue was in one of the farms in Thornhill, Stirling called West Moss-Side. It is about a half-hour drive from the university, and a very good place for writing as it is remote and so the atmosphere is really conducive for writing. There were no distractions such as the internet and noise from others. There was a designated room just for talking/discussion. We consulted with our supervisors individually to discuss about our papers.

We had a certain routine while there. We would start at 9am, then break for coffee/tea at 11am, lunch at 1pm, coffee/tea at 3pm, then at 5pm we wrap-up. I think we have been quite productive and hope we can follow the same routine even at the uni.

There will be two more writing workshops during our stay here and I hope that we can have quality output for our papers before we go back to our respective research sites.

A view from the loft where we were working (conference room).

Each of us had a desk to work on ... no talking, please.

My desk ...  

The view from where I was sitting ... during the first day it rained heavily.

Working ...

A nap on the nice sofa was also good ...

Various art pieces are on display in many parts of the house.

The yurts (tents) are for overnight guests ...

The farm grows cattle for meat. Organic only.

The farm house converted into a gallery and meeting venue.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August in Stirling

It was a hectic time getting prepared to return to U of Stirling for the period August to December 2011. I have documented some of my activities earlier in my other blogs, and even in my FB status messages.

I arrived here in the afternoon of 8th August. What remained of the afternoon was spent settling down in my rented room, which is one of 4 rooms in a flat managed by the university. That included setting up my internet connection in my room, grocery shopping, buying a pay-as-you-go sim card with internet, and obtaining bus schedules. The following day, Tuesday, was scheduled for a meeting with my supervisor, as well as with two other PhD students in the same project, who are from China and Vietnam. That meeting went ok, we agreed to have a weekly 1-hour progress meeting every Monday. There were some soft and hard targets set as well.

The main purpose to be here for four months is to finalise my first two papers which are outputs of the first two years of research. These papers should be in a format which could be submitted to a journal. So with all the field data collected during scoping and integrated surveys, as well as the nth drafts of my first and second papers, I have to condition myself to be a research student again, a learner in a university setting. The more than 1 year in the field out there in Thailand doing both field research and project management has somehow eclipsed my being a student. Of course, we keep learning, wherever we are.

So the days are filled with searching for published papers and reading them, updating the Mendeley reference database, exchanging information and ideas with project team mates and other students, and writing as well. But I still can't get away with being involved in the work back in the field. I still have to help out at least in terms of facilitating more of the field work that is still to be done.

It's great that the university has very good library and information facilities. They are really supportive of research being done and giving assistance to researchers. So we can find lots of new publications, and if can not be found, we can request from the Library through their Document Delivery Service. They will procure the papers for us, from the British Library.

In addition, the housework, the marketing, the cooking. Important about the meals. Keep planning for a variety of meals so food does not get boring. And that takes a lot of time. I've never cooked this much back home. This is part of student life here. The supermarket is one of the main features of student life in this university town. The other is the bus. Another is adjusting to the weather. I will talk about these later.

Now it is Friday, the end of the working week for most, but for us students I guess there are really no weekends. Just keep working, reading, writing. But don't forget the laundry...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

end of July

31st July, last day of the month. Tomorrow starts a new month. And the countdown seriously begins for me as I have to leave on the 7th. There are still lots to do but I can only do as much. That is the pitfall with working on your degree while also running a project, i.e. working and studying. So since a few weeks ago already our team had been working on the planning of work in the next few months when I am not here. Delegate, delegate ... provided one has good staff. Which I think we have. A few people but they can do the job. With the right motivation, good direction, clear instruction, and enough resources.

I have so far completed nearly all the work I was doing except for the SOS posters. Still working on the English version, which I plan to finish this coming week. And the Thai version will come later. 

The field work has already been assigned and delegated so that gives me peace of mind. But of course I could not really be totally cut from all the action. I will still be in touch with the team, that's just part project management.

So now I have started packing, trying to fit in all the stuff I have to bring. This is a dilemma as I am going to UK which has a totally different climate as here, different food and lifestyle. So whatever I bring has to support that difference. So hope that I can finish my packing by Sat so I do not have to rush and do last minute packing before I leave on Sun night.

I have my books to pack as well, and now I am thinking where can I put them them.

Will surely miss it here!

Team meeting to discuss work to be done in the coming months. I took this photo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

signs of the times

Busy times the past months, weeks and days ... thus blogging here has been irregular. I also maintain other blogs so my time is divided.

So now it is July 2011. Many things have been happening ... project-wise. Aside from my research work in the project, I have been busy putting together documents for visa application to the UK. I will be at my university there from Aug till Dec for consultation with my supervisors, data analysis, and writing up. And I am leaving in August, nearly a month from now. And there are still so many things to do.

In May we had a workshop with stakeholders, and I am still in the process of preparing the report, working on the comments of the first drat. Unfortunately, the worst thing happened. My notebook computer crashed. I lost a weekend's worth of work, as I was not able to save my file the night before. I was sooooo sleepy. The following day, my computer would not open. So until now it is a useless piece of machine. I hope I can go to the shop tomorrow to have it solved.

Monday, May 9, 2011

AFAF conference

Key & I were in China for the Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum held at the Shanghai Ocean University (new campus) during 20-24 April 2011. I presented our paper related to sustainability indicators which is part of my PhD research. I was not well during that time due to colds and allergy which manifested themselves as coughing bouts. My voice also changed. It started with exposure to cold weather and smoke and dust. I was praying that during my 20 minute presentation my voice will hold and the itchiness in my throat will not attack me while standing in front of an audience. My prayer was answered but it was mighty difficult coz my throat was strained as I talked for the whole period. It was difficult altogether during that week because there were a number of friends who also came whom I have not met for quite some time, for many years in fact. So it would have been nice to chitchat more with them. Besides the weather in Shanghai was too cold for me. So I think I remember that most of the time I was shivering and trying to protect myself from feeling cold. Even with a jacket and all gear I still felt cold because I came from a place which was sweltering hot (near 40s) and then in Shanghai the temperature was less than 20, plus the wind chill factor.

Before I left for the conference I bought a small laser pointer which cost 20 baht only, from one of the side stalls in a department store in Bangkok. Cheaper than buying it retail in China (50 baht +). It was useful for me while presenting. I just hope I did not make people dizzy by always flashing the red laser light and moving it around the screen :) Maybe it kept them awake as the presentation was in the afternoon!

As a member of the Asian Fisheries Society, I also attended the AFS General Assembly. It was held in the evening after all the sessions were done for that day. Before the meeting started, everybody had a moment of silence to remember Prof Yang Yi who was the former AFS President as well as one of the active fisheries professionals in the region. He passed away in 2009 and it was a great loss to the fisheries academic/scientific community. After that the Society officers presented their reports on activities as well as finances. Then we had to vote for new councilors to replace those whose terms are finished. There were some cocktails and snacks after but it was a pity coz the time was not coordinated well with the shuttle buses so we had to hurry to leave the meeting venue to catch our shuttle bus back to the hotel. It would have been great to mingle and get to know the other members more, for renewing old contacts, making new ones and networking.

There were just so many main and side events and sessions during the conference. Time was a constraint, added to that are side meetings with our own project team. Some other sessions I attended were the tilapia symposium, gender in fisheries and aquaculture symposium, and the ASEM-SEAT joint meeting.

After the Shanghai meeting, the project team proceeded to Zhanjiang to attend the State of the System Workshop organised by SEAT-SOU China and the Univ of Stirling.

Friday, February 18, 2011

SEAT-KU project website

Just did the website (Eng/Thai) for the project this afternoon. Check it out at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Status so far

The field surveys are still on-going in Thailand. We are now on the 2nd to the last week and we will finish by the end of February. Simultaneous data entry is being done from filled-in questionnaires, and is a tedious process. No one is full time in doing it but come March it should really be done full-time. Of course by the local team who will be back from the field. However not all will be involved with database entry as some will be working on metadata of contacts, while others will be doing field work with others. The methodology of this research as a whole is proving to be a bit on the difficult side, for various reasons. Especially dealing not only with the technical and pedagogical aspects but also with personalities and differences in ways of doing things from various perspectives. These are issues which we have to face due to the nature of this project - interdisciplinary, multi-cultural, multi-level, and all other multi's one can think of. In the meantime, work has to be done, no matter what. I was hoping that somehow things could ease up once the field surveys are done, but there will be no chance of that. At this time, I have already started to plan ahead for the next activities. However based on experience, sometimes even the best laid plans fail. Especially if work has to be coordinated and integrated with other activities and with other people who have their own limitations, preoccupations, priorities and VIs (---censored text---). So that is project management. The key is how to keep one's head above it all, to survive being trampled upon (di gid magpalupu), to still be sane at the end of the day, and to still appreciate each day as it comes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Since the last KII post

So between then and now we have had a few more KIIs to verify sample frame lists and revise them accordingly. The detailed sample designs for shrimp and tilapia have been uploaded to the KU-SEAT wiki page. The designs were revised based on the results of the KIIs.

And finally we were ready to start the baseline surveys in mid Dec 2010. We were 1 1/2 months behind schedule. There were so many reasons behind this but the main one was that the survey instruments were not ready way back in November. The process was such that it became a never-ending activity of commenting and revising and especially harmonising an instrument among 4 country sites as well as various work packages and interests and disciplines. But this is part of a process which had to be undergone in order to come up with an output wherein we could all say that all efforts had been done to make it as intersdisciplinary as possible, with just enough depth and breadth for a baseline survey. People had to be reminded time and again that there will be a more detailed survey following this one.

The team finished 2 provinces (5 clusters) for shrimp and 1 province (3 clusters) for tilapia before the year 2010 ended. When 2011 came, it was on to the remaining clusters (3 for shrimp in 1 province and 7 for tilapia in 2 provinces). We hope to finish the baseline survey by the end of February. We have to go back to the other previously surveyed provinces to complete the number of respondents as per sample design. The respondents were randomly chosen but some of them were not available to meet us when we called earlier. So there is a need to make a return visit and if they were indeed not available at all, we have to move down the randomised list to complete the numbers. The target is to interview 200 each for shrimp and tilapia producers.

As of 23 January 2011 we have already interviewed about 148 shrimp and 62 tilapia producers.

In the meantime that data is being gathered in the field, the Access database is being refined and after the first week of January we had the top copy of the country-specific database. So we started to input the data from the first batch of questionnaires. We were able to input 63 entries so far and at least 3 of us in the team are now familiar with it. However, as usual, changes have to be incorporated as the database needs to be harmonised among 4 country sites. So then the formatting and all others need to be revised and updated. So what do we do with the Thai database with the already 63 entries?

Right now I am in Fort Kochi with the other project counterparts from China (Wenbo),Vietnam (Lam) and Bangladesh (Ripon), and led by the Project Coordinator (Francis) from Stirling. We are having our PhD Research Retreat, with at least 4 outputs. So we are working on this database and any revisions to be made on the Thai one I have to do so that everything is in place before additional entries will be made. I just hope it's not too much revisions and work. It should be in place now before we continue with all the other remaining entries. I think that there should not be any more changes and additions after this week. Any changes each country wants to make should be added as country-specific codes or put in the comments section.

The other day each one presented the status of survey work in each country. Thailand is the slowest due to the delays and many other reasons. We hope to speed up the work but we are also dependent on potential respondents' availability mainly. But we will try. I think we have a good team, and we hope to get more local staff to double the time (if we can get them).

The reformatted database has just been given to me by Francis and now I must look at each table and check them and do the needed adjustments.