Friday, July 31, 2009

4 More Weeks Left!!

I had a dream one morning about saying good bye to people at work. I was a bit shocked and almost woke up completely. I think this has been my best internship so far. It will be hard to say goodbye and leave. I don't even want to think about it. Leave the office indefinitely... unthinkable! I'm sure I'll see these guys again though. The geo community is really small so I'll probably end up working with or for them someday. It would be kind of weird if I end up working as a subconsultant for one of their projects. I've thought about that too. I had a sudden realization one day that it is not very farfetch to be going to a meeting and finding myself working for/with a former supervisor or coworker. It will almost definitely happen if I work in NYC or San Francisco.

I think a lot of the interns are leaving on the 14th. That's in 2 weeks! So soon. Yesterday, there was an intern event where we went on a site visit to the Fulton Street Transit Center. I realized that not too many of the other interns work on my floor, which I found strange since my floor is the busiest. Anyway, I don't think very many of them were actually interested in seeing the project. I think they just wanted to get out of the office. I wish I had worked on the project a little so I would appreciate seeing the site and be able to orient myself more. But all the design work for the project is done so it's just working with contractors and such. Anyway, I thought it was cool. The whole thing was scheduled to be from 2-5pm. We were done at around 4:40-ish and everyone left to go home. The only people who came back were the two guys that took us around, 2 interns (including me), and a new hire. The other intern came back because he was working on a project that is wrapping up for a submittal. I know this because I was working on the same project for the last 1.5 weeks. We got back to the office before 5pm. Couldn't believe all the other interns left! Didn't they have work to do?? Anyway, I got quite a bit of work done before being sent home. haha. I was being dumb and didn't manage to enter all the data before plotting everything. Working at this office makes me feel like I have a LOT more to learn, which is the way it should be.

Actually, this summer has made me feel much more enthusiastic about geotech. I really want to learn more and can't wait to take classes on this stuff. I think I would learn a lot more about the actual practice if I went to Berkeley. I would definitely be taking classes on stuff I did this summer which would be very satisfying. I doubt this will be the case at Stanford. I think Stanford's curriculum will be much more analytical and geology oriented. There seems to be a pretty good structural geology group. Anyway, I don't mind skipping out on the more "traditional" geotech stuff. I think I'll learn those on the job anyway. The analytical and geology stuff are stuff that are harder to learn on the job. People who have those skills and knowledge seem to be sought after.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Rain Was Chasing Me...!

Last Sunday, I volunteered at two different projects. The first one was in a park in Washington Heights, way up on 190th St. We were clearing brush. It was pretty humid out but there were lots of volunteers so we finished early. After this, I headed to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The entire way there I was feeling really sleepy. So sleepy that I was tempted to get coffee or something with caffine in it. I think it's the humidity. Anyway, I got there after spending more than an hour on the trains because both the A and the Q were making all local stops. I get to the Park and it turns out that the event was a lot smaller than expected. There were supposed to be over 70 vendors at this art festival but only 20 showed up because the weather forecast was scattered thunderstorms. And of course, it did not thunderstorm until after the event. So we didn't do very much. I mostly chatted with some of the other volunteers. That was nice, I guess. We helped with clean up and take down for a bit. Right at 4pm, when the event ended, it started thundering. The winds picked up. So we did everything really fast and left for the train station. The train was wet when it got to the station. The rain was coming from the south, heading north.

So of course, knowing of this impending rain, I stopped by Chinatown to get some rice. Luckily, I was in the store when a wave of rain hit. I managed to wait for it to stop and got on the subway again. When I got out of the subway though, it was pouring rain. It was raining really, really hard. I got out of the NRW stop and can see the apartment across the street. So I put on my jacket and walked across the street. Just crossing the street got me totally soaked. It was like swimming. Anyway, glad we live so close to this subway stop. It rained a lot for the rest of the evening. There were flood warnings.

Luckily, it didn't rain on Saturday at the Arup picnic. The place was very cute. Definitely a great camping place for little kids. Too bad we didn't have a kid to bring with us. We took some pictures which I will post soon.

This week at work started out kind of dull. But I think I need to stay late the next couple of days to finish up some drawings. Arg! They aren't even proper drawings, just figures in a report. Seriously, I don't understand all the fuss.

I met up with my Big Sis (freshman year!) from McCormick today for dinner. She's working for a structural firm in the city. Also did Course 1 and then went to Stanford. We talked a lot about school and work. Apparently she's worked at Arup too, same office, same group!! What a coincidence. I thought that was really cool. The group's changed a lot since she worked there... 3 summers ago. Anyway, it dinner was great.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This blog has been a bit dull lately. No pictures. Not much excitement. This is not to say that I am going to make this entry an exciting one. Just stating some facts here... Anyway, got out of work at 7pm today, along with the rest of the group. We all left in a woosh. Long day.

I went running yesterday. It was satisfying since I haven't ran since Sunday. I had to make a trip to the library on Monday and it rained on Tuesday. I almost did the entire loop that I ran on Sunday without stopping. Except I came out of the park too early. Oh wells, shouldn't push it. But I'm not sore at all today. So that's a good sign. I probably would have gone running today too but it was raining again.

Went out to lunch with the group yesterday. It's cool eating together. Sometimes the tunneling guys join us too. I wonder what it's like in the winter? Can't sit outside. I guess they just go out and sit inside somewhere. But that's not the same. You can only join the group if you don't bring your lunch.

I've been sitting at my old desk this week. It's so different out there. But now people come visit me more often because they have stuff for me to do. The only advantage of going back to my old desk is being in the middle of the civil group again and most of them are working on the same project I'm working on. So they can help me with the stuff, especially the AutoCAD parts of it. Seriously, no one in my group really knows AutoCAD. Really pushing my abilities with this software. Next week, I'm moving back to the middle of the group again. Playing musical chairs here because of vacations and work travels. I borrowed a wheely chair from someone who's on vacation this week.

Anyhow, looking forward to this company picnic on Saturday. Should be fun. Unless I get sick before then of course. All 3 of my roommates are sick. Sadness... I should boil more vinegar.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day of Volunteering

Completely exhausted from an entire day of volunteering at three different projects...

So the day started off at 6am. I got up and walked to the harbor where a Aquathon was going on. People swam in the Hudson and then (some) ran. I don't think there's a bicycling part to it. Anyway, the real volunteers were actually there at 5:30am so we (NYCares volutneers) showed up kind of late. The race started at 7:30am or so. I helped pass out bags for a while and then set up the after race snacks. Everything was pretty unorganized and chaotic. I was then asked to help out at directing traffic when the swimmers came back. Basically I stood at the dock, making sure the swimmers ran over the mat where a receiver picked up the signal from their chip. I'm glad I got to do that instead of taking off their chips or whatever the other people were doing. I got to see them come in. That was pretty cool. Only a handful of people had to be picked up by the boat. I wish I could have stayed longer to see the runners come in and such. I had to leave for my next project. But not before picking up a water bottle from one of their sponsors though.

The next project was helping the NY Parks with a park in Brooklyn. It took a long time and a lot of effort to get there. I went on three different trains and walked around in a few stations before I finally got there. I was only about 5 minutes late. The team leader wasn't there and didn't manage to get anyone to replace him. So a bunch of us were just sitting around when the park's volunteer coordinator came and picked us up. We bascially cleared vegetation around trails. So we had big cutters and gloves and cut down weeds for a while. The project was three hours long. We took a break nearly half an hour of break in the middle though. At that point (around 11:30am), I found that my hands were shaking from exhausion. I ate a sandwich and felt better but was definitely feeling very tired. After this project, I was sweaty and dirty.

I actually managed to make it to my next project sort of on time. I mean, I got to the area on time but went past the soup kitchen the first time around. The numbers on the street were very unclear. I have never volunteered at a soup kitchen before. It turned out to be pretty interesting. They served soup, sandwiches, fruit, coffee, juice, even had dessert. Most people there were elderly and really seemed to appreciate the hot meal. This brings me back to freshmen year when I volunteered for the first time at the Boston Red Cross food pantry. It's nice to help kids with homework, clear trails for a park, or staff a booth at an event. But when it comes down to it, that's all nice things to have. But food is essential. Everyone needs to eat. Helping to put food in the hands of people who can't afford it brings more satisfaction for me than any of these other things.

After this, I walked around Union Square and the farmer's market there. It's a pretty big farmer's market. I couldn't find the Trader Joe's and ended up getting orange juice and cheese at the Whole Foods. There are three floors to this Whole Foods. I don't think I will ever get used to grocery and drug stores with multiple floors. So inefficient. Anyway, the Whole Foods is huge. All the organic stuff you will ever need right there.

I returned some library books on the way back. I was completely exhausted when I finally got back to the apartment. I still managed to make a smoothie out of orange juice, banana, and papaya. It tasted great. And then I collapsed on my bed and napped for a while.

So all in all, it was a good day. I did quite a lot. When to places that I would have never gone otherwise. I mean, why else would I got out to the middle of Brooklyn? I kept thinking about all the new experiences I was gaining, all in the course of one day. I signed up for these projects online without really knowing what I'll be doing, who I would be working with, nevermind the people I will be serving. I'm just heading into an abyss. And yet everything works out at the end. I met some cool people, explored new places, and experienced new things. What more can I ask for?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Attempts at Exercising (End of Week 6)

Half way through my internship!! Man, I feel like I'm just getting settled in at work. Really getting to know people and such. Nothing particularly exciting at work this week. Well, maybe other than the fact that I spent the entire day trying to do a problem that really should have taken a couple of hours. Sigh, oh wells. At least now I know how to do these types of problems. I should keep a binder with calcs. So far I have uplift, liquefaction, settlement...

The sun was out all week so we have been sitting outside for lunch. It's always hard press to find an empty bench outside the office that would fit all of us. People are always taking up a bench by themselves. Yalu has been packing me sandwiches for lunch. It's been great. My coworkers were impressed.

The guy whose desk I took over will be coming back on Monday. He's going to be here for a week and then taking two weeks of vacation. Glad he's back but I had to move all my junk back. And I'll have to walk whenever I have questions. Such a hassle. Anyhow, everyone will be back in the office next week so it should be more interesting.

I went running in Central Park Wednesday and Thursday after work. I'm sooo sore. I wasn't too sore after running on Wednesday. I really shouldn't have gone on Thursday. I was in the Park for 10 minutes and was extremely sore by the end of it. It was really painful to walk today. I'm hoping I will be less sore by Sunday and be able to go for a long(er) run in the morning.

Ideally, I would go running tomorrow (Saturday). But I'm volunteering all day. When I say all day, I mean 7am - 4pm. I really need the hours given that I only volunteered 3 hours last month. Yeah, only 3 hours. Seriously slacking. I only need about 60 more hours. I can be done by the time I go home if I manage to volunteer about 8 hrs every weekend. I think it can be done. And I don't mind since it means I get to go to different parts of Manhattan. See things that tourists normally don't see. I think this volunteering thing has actually given me a good excuse to go and do random things.

It's been sweltering hot these past couple of days. The office is freezing cold, as usual. I hope it doesn't get any hotter. I'm sweating just sitting here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend at the library and zoo

Saturday was a disaster. I signed up to volunteer to walk seniors around Central Park. Seemed like a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Walking around Central Park and chatting with people. Except I didn't make it there. I took the bus the wrong way and ended up on the south tip of Manhattan, in the East Village. The East Village is pretty nice actually. There are some NYU buildings there and everything seems like a college town. Low-rise houses, bagel shops, university chemicals, etc. It seems like a pretty chill and nice to walk around neighborhood. But of course, I was trying to find my way back and didn't really enjoy the neighborhood all that much. I called the team leader for the volunteering event and told him I wouldn't be able to make it. Sadness. Anyway, I've signed up for more volunteering stuff this upcoming weekend. Hope those work out.

So I ended up spending some time at the library, got some books and Macgyver videos. I came back and did some reading. Yalu's mom came for the weekend. We went clothes shopping in the afternoon. I've been buying a lot of clothes lately. I think I'm doing pretty well on the work clothes front now. Yalu didn't manage to buy anything so we'll have to go back some day.

Sunday morning, we got up and went to the Bronx zoo. The trip was shorter than I thought. We got in for free with Yalu's ID and got tickets for the monorail. We had to wait quite a while for the monorail to start because we were the first train and they were still trying to get some of the animals to go on display (i.e. to awake up). It was a pretty nice day out. Not humid and not vey hot. So we had a pretty good time at the zoo, looking at all the animals. I thought the red panadas were really cool. So cute! Looked just like the shifu on Kung Fu Panda.

This morning (Monday) at work, I finished off the drawings for the project I've been working on. Well, they're not totally done yet but they should be by the time I go in tomorrow morning. Speaking of tomorrow morning, we have this call/seminar thing with the London office so we have to go in extremely early. They're doing it during their lunch time, which is 7:30am for us. Usually I'm still sleeping. Better be interesting. Anyway, it seems like I have a queue of people wanting my help with their projects. Don't know why they didn't hire two interns. The tunneling team doesn't have any interns. But they have a new hire. Our new hire didn't start today. So maybe Monday? I doubt he will take any work off of me though since they will probably want to have him work on one or two projects on a long term basis.

Friday, July 10, 2009

End of Week 5

Wow, what a week. I didn't manage to get out of the office before 7pm even today (a Friday!!). Everyone left in a woosh at 6pm. I, on the other hand, was going over drawings that I had just printed out. Each new drawing creates an enormous number of problems. I would much rather have a busy drawing than to make two drawings. Anyway, I'm still not finish, even though it would have been really nice to finish by today. I think I will go in early on Monday so I can finish up in the morning. I've been working on this project all week and ignoring everything else.

The group is getting a new grad soon. The supervisor wasn't very specific about when he would start. Just "soon." Not sure what that's supposed to mean. I hope it's not next week because he (the supervisor) is going to be in Korea (on business). I have no idea where he's going to sit. There's no space in our area. It would be really sad if he's going to have to sit away from the aisle that we're all in. It's so much better to be with everyone else. Now that I sit with them, I go out to lunch with them too. It's nice to socialize during lunch time. There's really no other time to socialize because everyone actually works when it's work time. Anyway, seating arrangement is definitely a thing to look out for when get a permanent job.

The weather's been really good this week. Not too hot or cold. Actually, the office is really cold all the time. We complain about this a lot. One of the guys said that Mondays are the coldest. Monday was indeed very cold. I started to bring both a fleece and a jacket. The jacket is for the occasional thunderstorms and the fleece jacket is for cold offices. Oh, and I also bring an umbrella too. That's why I carry a backpack to the office.

Speaking of backpacks, I think I need a new one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Week 4.5

I've been really busy these past few days. Yalu finally arrived last Friday and moved in. It took a couple of days and few trips to various hardware stores to make the house livable. I think we're all pretty settled in now. We had fun this past weekend going to Coney Island, buying lobster and crab in Chinatown, going to watch UP, going to Central Park, etc. Pictures of these things are coming. Yalu will probably put them up on her blog. Anyway, the weekend was still pretty chill despite all this.

This week at work has been extremely busy though. I left work the past two days at around 7:30pm. Actually, I don't think I've left work before 6pm since the first or second week. But the next few days will be pretty busy too since we have to finish up the submission for a project. I don't mind staying late to finish stuff. But it gets really tiring and most people leave by 6 or 6:30pm, so it gets lonely in the office.

There was an intern presentation today. We all talked about what we've been up to for the past month or so. It seems like all the managers are keeping their interns busy. But no one seems to be doing anything particularly interesting or innovative. Everyone's just doing little bits and pieces. It'll probably be a lot different when we make our final presentations at the end. But it seems like most of the other interns are focusing on one or two projects or working on the same stuff (e.g. CAD) for different projects. I, on the other hand, feel like I have this huge backlog of stuff I have to do. I think I need to spend some time clearing this queue before I take on urgent projects like the one I'm working on now. I think my coworkers are really starting to want my help on projects now, which is good. I feel like they're all waiting for me to finish with these drawings I have to do so that they can hand me more stuff.

This summer is so different from last summer. Last summer I left work at around 5:30pm everyday. It was a much smaller group too. This summer I'm so much more busy. I haven't left work before 6pm since week 1 or 2. I've worked on 6 different projects already vs working mainly on one project last summer. I feel like I'm learning a lot. But as a friend of mine pointed out, I really need to start quantifying things that I've learned. Think about the skills that I can put on my resume. And get a better feel for the discipline, learn the trade. I'm not at the point where I can hold intelligent conversations about geo-stuff yet. But hopefully by the end of the summer, I'll have a better feel for what's out there. Maybe even contribute something to brainstorming sessions.