Archive for February 2010
The internet is filled with video clips of animal attacks and I have seen many good ones. There is the pelican eats pigeon (along w/ turtle eats pigeon and cow eats chicken), killer whales vs grey whales, battle of Kruger, lions kill elephant, a golden eagle throws mountain goat off cliff , and my personal favorites lion attacks hunters and tiger attempts on mahout. But I have never seen anything in real life. Until last week, when a pit bull goes after 2 deers. Here is the video clip, taken by me as we were hiding from the hail.
Running a bookstore makes me appreciate pricing a lot. The following process is created after much trials and errors (and is still evolving):
– I get the listed price as well as the price at which I buy the book.
-I calculate how much it costs by the time it shows up on the shelf. This is the hardest part since I have to include shipping,tax,wages,rent,utils,etc (average cost per book). Lets call this C.
-I gauge how hot the book is. Has it been sold quickly before? Will there be a popular translation or a new movie? I then multiply a hotness factor H to C (P=H*C).
-I ask my staff if such book is already available elsewhere. Government-owned stores are usually not as quick. If this is the case I include a rareness factor R (P=R*H*C). If this isnt the case (sometimes the big bookstores here buy from Singapore or use ocean freight and buy in bulk) then I make sure P is slightly smaller than the market price.
-The last step is to compare P with the listed price. If P-listed price is too high the customers will complain. This has happened before as the Vietnamese are very price sensitive. The key point is to find a book such that P is even smaller than listed price (but not by much). Then you can be sure the book will sell well and you will enjoy a nice profit margin. An example is the classic What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School (published by Alphabooks as Những điều trường Harvard không dạy bạn). We call books like this stellar performers because:
-It is a self-help+get rich book. Vietnamese love self-help+get rich books. Who doesn’t???
-Alphabooks does a good job in translating and marketing (ie we piggyback their effort).
-I buy it from the States at an unbeatable price.
-We are the only bookstore in Vietnam that carries the English title.
-It leaves the door wide open for upselling.
De Beers trong thập niên 80s chiếm khỏang 80% thị trường kiêm cương tòan cầu.Lúc đó, thay vì bán, nó lại giấu trong kho của nó hàng vạn viên kim cương ( trị giá ít nhất là 1.3 tỷ đô), tạo được cái gọi là artificial scarcity (tạm dịch là hiếm giả). Tại vì thị trường ít kiêm cương quá, giá kim cương nó mới cực cao như vậy.
Đọc chuyện này làm tôi nhớ đến bọn Việt Kiều Mỹ về Vn cua ghệ. Bên đây thì chả bằng ai, về đến Sg là lập tức trở thành hàng hiếm (mà thiệt ra là hiếm giả)
I wrote this 3 years ago. Man how it still rings true.
It is just like my taste in food. When I was younger, I was pretty much hungry all the time so I would just chow down whatver I got my hands on just to appease my growling tummy. It didnt matter that the food was fatty, cheesy, or downright unhealthy. Once in a while, I would suffer an excruciating episode of food poisoining, the memory of which still gives me the shudders to this day. The worst experiences, however, were with dishes that were expensive, took forever to cook, had a fancy name and a great presentation, but ultimately tasted, for lack of a better word, like shit. But I didnt care. I was young, poor and hungry. As long as I was full, everything was OK…
Now that I m older, wiser and have some money, I am much more selective in what I eat. Through experience, I have learned that good foods dont just come from fancy restaurants in Paris or New York. In fact, they could very
well be whipped up from some street vendor at some dusty corner in Saigon. I have learned to recognize at first glance if something would taste delicious or horrible, to be open-minded and willing to sample various cuisines from various parts of the world. After all each country has its own flavor, different from one another yet yummy nonetheless. More importantly, I m now in much better control of my hunger (or may be it is just that my metabolism has slowed down) which leads to a greater appreciation of good foods when they come my way.
Ps: I also grow tired of a dish if I have it for too long of a time…
Pps: There is one exception however. It is Phở 🙂
Back when I was living in beautiful Monterey Bay I often went on wetsand.com and whenever there was something big, I d drive down to Carmel or Ghost tree to a.take a break from the boredom of software engineering and b.witness one of the greatest spectacles on Earth.
It was insane. The air was cold. The water was freezing. Behind me was the dark cypress forest buried deep in fog. Ahead the monstrous 50 feet waves in a state of constant agitation, boiling with foams and seaweeds. And on the wave sometimes you d see a tiny speck of a man, riding down the abyss , screaming in absolute terror.
At that exact moment like no other I felt such awe for nature, and the courage of men.