Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday was the end of a week of craziness. Well, crazy as in I didn't get as much sleep or get as much work done as I would have liked. So I basically decided I wasn't going to do much work on Friday. I tried to do stuff in the morning but got stuck and just gave up looking at it. I had class and then went to Y2E2 where I chatted with some structural people. We were in the middle of talking about bars and different types of alcoholic drinks when a camera crew filmed and took pictures of us from outside the conference room we were in. The conference rooms in Y2E2 have glass walls. So ironic.

After they left to go to a review session, I went to bug my advisor again. We chatted for about half an hour where he told me about an international civil engineering conference that will happen at Stanford in the middle of June. So I should probably stick around for that. He said that the department has some money for its own students to attend the conference and that if I was going to be around, I wouldn't have to worry about the registration fees. I thought that would be a given but for some reason he found it necessary to tell me. I mean, I would've asked for it to be waived or something anyhow! He asked what my plans were for the summer and that if I wanted an internship, I should start looking in the winter. I was like, uh, at this point, if I wanted an internship, it's just a phone call or email away. Or I said something along those lines. He remembers the seminar I had just been to and said that they usually try to push their students to go to these ASCE things so that they can network. But I had asked about going to this previous seminar myself. I think he was impressed. I'm not so sure he's impressed by me dropping in unannounced every now and then but whatever, I don't want to make an official meeting just to chat.

After this, there was a small Halloween party held by the administrators of the department. There were lots of snack food and they raffled off bottles of wine. I think they were raffling them off at half an hour intervals so that people who drop by can have a chance to win. I chatted with someone in one of the environmental engineering who is working part time for the Arup SF office right now. She went to Stanford for undergrad so she's going to finish her Masters degree in 2 quarters!! We went to an ESW (Engineers for a Sustainable World) talk. The speaker is a Stanford MS grad who did Peace Corps in Honduras. He helped some communities build water infrastructure and talked about his experiences (successes and failures) there. He's still very involved with some of those communities. He was an undergrad at Cornell and worked with the AquaClara group while in Honduras. I almost went to Cornell just because of the AquaClara program. Almost...

Then I headed back towards the dorm and saw some people from Rains playing frisbee on Wilbur field (the field with the underground parking lot). One of the guys organized it and sent out an email but I knew I would be late because of the talk. Anyway, I joined them and met a few more EE people. They're a really big department here too. It was such a nice day out! The western sky is always red at dusk. We played for a while and then I invited them to come to Blume for the structural group's Halloween happy hour. There were four party size burritos! They were really awesome looking. Wish they had given some salsa to go on the side though. The burritos themselves were a little dry, I think because they didn't want the entire thing to get soggy. We also had cake for people whose birthdays were this month and during the summer. It was really good cake.

I went back with the EE people who I played frisbee with. I kind of wanted to stay to talk to the structural eng people but then I figure I'll see them around more than I would see the EE people. So I walked back to the dorm with them. I was pretty tired after all this. I didn't make it to the Rains Halloween party. I think I just played some games and watched a couple of YouTube videos and went to bed. I don't think I managed to go to bed before midnight all week so this was good.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pictures of Campus!

The building below is the "GeoCorner." It's one of the buildings on the corner of the main quad. I think there's a Math Corner and History Corner. I don't know what the other one is. The geology department is here and I have a couple of classes on the second floor. It's a pretty nice building overall. I think they're renovating the grad student spaces so there's no good place to hang out. The undergrad lounge is pretty nice though. The computers there are kind of dirty though...

This is not a very good shot of the Mitchell Earth Sciences Building. I don't have classes here but there is a computer lab where I print most of my stuff. The computers there are pretty nice. This building also houses the earth sciences library which I frequent a lot.

This is Wilbur field. It's actually an underground parking lot. The field is pretty big and it's to the right of this. The next picture is a shot of the field from across the field. It's a pretty nice use of space. There are usually people playing frisbee and soccer on the field in the afternoon. There are also BBQ pits. Things like this ensures that I will have a job when I graduate! haha.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I should have taken the shuttle!!

My alarm clock went off at 6am this morning. I had to be in downtown Oakland by 8:30am (at the latest) for an ASCE geotech seminar on liquefaction. So I got up way before the sun was up. I contemplated taking the shuttle but I decided I couldn't make it on the 6:25 shuttle and so I decided to bike. I had sort of decided to bike when I thought this through last night because it would give me more flexibility and there would be no waiting for the bus. Except:

It was super cold out. I wore a fleece and a windbreaker but my hands were freezing. And it was dark out. I don't like to bike in the dark. There were actually quite a lot of cars around since people were going to work, I suppose. At one point, I looked down this one side street that I've ridden down before and it was pitch black. Pitch black as in I couldn't see 10 feet into the street. There were no lights at all. And this isn't some dirt road. There's actually a lot of parking on that street. Of course, I did not ride down that street. It took me 20-25 minutes to get to the Caltrain station on my bike. I didn't expect it to take that long at all! It also took me a while to find the bike rack. After all this, I still managed to get there too early for the train I wanted to take. I ran into someone who I met during orientation at the train station as well. She's doing a masters in environmental engineering and she works twice a week at Arup! I could have had a schedule that allowed me to do this but I think I would die from missing office hours and not having time to study.

Anyway, I got to the seminar place just when it was starting. In retrospect, it might have been good to get there early in order to network. I never realized that these seminars are probably one of the best places to network. There were probably about 70 people there, all professionals working in the geotech field in the Bay Area. Crazy networking opportunity. I sat down in the back, looked around, and immediately spotted my former supervisor and coworker from PB. I was like, wow, this is way better than anything I had expected. I saw an empty seat near them and tapped my supervisor on the shoulder as I walked by. I think he did a double take and was really surprised to see me. They both thought I was still at MIT. He, having two degrees from Berkeley and an avid Cal fan, couldn't believe I turned down Berkeley. If that wasn't enough, I think he definitely shook his head when he found out I worked for a competitor over the summer. Anyway, it was good seeing them. We chatted for a while during lunch. I also saw the two geotech guys I met at the earthquake seminar I went to a few weeks ago at Stanford. I guess the geotech company is very small (and full of guys!). Anyway, I managed to network a little. Talked to a few people. Collected a business card. It was worth the effort, I think.

The bike ride from the train station to my apartment took around 20 minutes again. I was so tired towards the end. I managed to find a path that made me go slightly uphill. I chose this because it was on campus instead of on the road with lots of cars. There were lots of cars driving too fast for my comfort. I did manage to snag one of the extra lunch boxes before leaving the seminar though. Not that I need to think about food for the next few days since my parents brought over a ton of food.

Anyway, I'm going to take a nap now, before starting on some major homework crunching and midterm studying!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Homecoming Football Game!

This is my third Stanford football game! I went home Friday night and brought my brother and cousin over to Stanford to watch the football game. It took us quite a while to get to Stanford because the weekend Caltrain stopped at every stop. We ate at a dining hall that night before going to the game. I thought there would be more people since all the alumni are around for homecoming. But the attendance was about the same as for any other game. I probably didn't have to buy tickets ahead of time. Oh wells. It was a fun experience!

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Half way through first quarter!

I usually have a board that shows me what's due for the upcoming week. I think towards the end of senior year, this board held 2 weeks worth of assignments so that I can look ahead. Now with this quarter system, I think it's necessary to have a few more weeks written out. So of course, I did this for the rest of the quarter. I think I will be really busy until Thanksgiving. The red is stuff due and blue are events.

New desk setup! This allows me to use both the my laptop screen and external monitor. Why didn't I think of this before?? Notice the calendar of things due is right in front of me. I also have a minimum of 2 cups on my desk at any one time - one for tea and the other for water. The all important clock is sitting above my computer along with notes, paper, and books.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pictures and Conversations

It was an amazing day outside. Walking around there was no question in my mind as to why people live in this earthquake country. It's so beautiful out. I took some pictures around campus. But can't post them because I'm at home and don't have my usb cable for my camera with me.

Now that I've started to take pictures again, I took a quick look at some pictures of the past 4 years. Most of the pictures I've developed are in a box actually. They haven't managed to make it into an album. This is mostly because they I only developed a semester's worth at a time and half of them would be at home while the other half stayed with me at MIT. And sometimes I would put the special ones in frames or tape them to walls. So they're just one big mess that I need to sort out. I would like to have them in albums though because it would make flipping through them so much easier. Most of the pictures from my summer in Europe are in two albums because that summer was especially long due to the short English terms.

Four years went by really quickly. And now I'm counting the weeks of these quarters. I feel like I didn't manage to get to know some people in undergrad as well as I would have liked. This is partly due to time budgeting issues and partly due to me not asking personal questions and really trying to get to know people. I would like to think that I've improved on all these accounts. I think I just wish that my everyday conversations can be less academics oriented. Because in the end, conversations about psets don't really matter. And I've been getting better at making small talk. But there are definitely forms of small talk where the conversation topics are irrelevant too. One of my neighbors commented Americans can talk forever about nothing at all (he's from Japan). And I think it's true. I would like to have better conversations where I get get to know the other person instead of random chatting. Maybe I should make a list of questions to ask!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More pictures!

The start of this entry is a bit awkward but I just want to comment on this. There's a lot of guys in grad school, especially in engineering. And I mean a lot. I bet you my facebook guy:girl ratio has gone way skewed by now. How do you check this btw? I know it's possible to check... Anyway, it's just kind of weird sometimes to realize everyone around you is the opposite gender. I guess having lived in McCormick didn't help this situation either.

Anyway, I'm going on a camping trip with the School of Earth Sciences over Thanksgiving break! I'm excited. We're going to Owens Valley and going on hikes around the area to learn about geological formations. The area looks really beautiful and it would be really educational for me since I've never had the geology background as an undergrad. So it would be good to see some of these formations that we're always talking about in my structural geology class. Maybe I will see why there is this need to classify them physically.

I took some more pictures around my dorm today! I will get around to taking pictures on the actual campus at some point.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halfway through the quarter (almost)!

Quick entry before I go to sleep! I felt really bogged down by homework this past weekend. By the time Monday came around, I was totally unmotivated to do any more work. Mostly because things weren't really going anywhere.

But I spent about 4-5 hours today sitting in the Blume center cranking out the latest finite element homework with some people and we got through the entire thing. We're not really finished but there's just small bits and pieces missing. So I'm pretty happy with that. We're going to office hours tomorrow to get some answers to those questions. This finite element class is crazy theoretical. I don't think it can get anymore theoretical than what we're doing. We've literally just started on Chapter 2 of our book! I bet if I were to look at any other finite element book, what we're doing would still be in Chapter 1. We've barely begun to solve any problems. We spent a couple of weeks just learning how to define problems so that they can become finite element problems.

So far, I have to say that the structural geology class is the easiest one. If I just read the book, I will understand what's going on. The problem is finding time to sit down and work through everything in the book. It takes me a few hours to read through a chapter. I can't just read the thing either, I have to copy the stuff onto a notebook. This helps me learn but that's where the time consumption comes into play. Anyway, this is one class where I think I understand what's going on and can do the homework with fairly little difficulties.

I've started running again. I think I will try to run every other day. I think I will get too tired running every day. I might try to go swimming on some days. But the pool is far away and I hear they don't provide towels? Not convenient. Anyway, I've been running in the suburbs south of Rains. Part of the route I've been running involves dirt paths which I prefer to paved roads actually. On Monday I decided to add a little more to the loop I've been running to make it longer. Except, I managed to find the most steep route ever! It seemed like it was uphill the entire way and at some point there was a sharp descent. It took me almost 30 minutes to get through 2 miles. I also got a little lost but still... I think I will do the same route tomorrow but backwards. I hope that will go better.

I've stopped going to the classes that I've been auditing... I can still pick them back up but I don't know if I really have the time to do this. I got a little discouraged when I found out that the dictionary I got for Vietnamese has IPA for the English entries but not for the Vietnamese entries. Clearly I got the wrong dictionary! Language classes might be worthwhile though since they tend to cost a lot.

Speaking of things that are worthwhile to go to, there's an info session for Arup tomorrow. I certainly don't need to go for the information but might be a good networking opportunity?? Don't know... I'll see how my day goes.

Anyhow, this weekend should be fun. I'm planning to go home on Friday and bring my brother and cousin to Stanford on Saturday to watch the homecoming football game. I should go buy tickets soon. Next week will be a busy one. I have 4 homeworks due, a day long seminar on Tuesday, and a midterm on Thursday. The midterm is for finite element and it's the only midterm I have. My other classes don't believe in exams (no really, they're all based on homework). My midterm is open book, open notes, etc. So I think I should be fine... I'm used to working on problems with people though. Exams should just be one big team effort!

More pictures of the campus coming soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Highlights of Week 4

Weekends here are so fun even when it's filled with work. Yesterday I went with some friends (neighbors) to Costco and Ranch 99 (asian market) and stocked up on food. I think I have enough food for 2-3 weeks now! I had also gone grocery shopping on Friday but that was for mostly perishable foods. I went over to Mahalia's place Friday night for dinner because her boyfriend was visiting. We had a pretty nice dinner. I brought over corn, bread, and grapes. They were well received. I should get pictures of the dinner from them!

Friday afternoon, I went to the library and grabbed 5 or 6 books related to groundwater and modeling of groundwater problems. I'm currently going over one of the books and it seems to have a pretty good explanation of using the finite difference method for solving groundwater problems. This is why I'm blogging now. There's hope for this hydrology class! I think I will be well prepared for the computational poromechanics class that I am going to take in the spring. Actually, I think I will be well prepared to take on any other hydrology class after this...

Last Wednesday I went to see Rent in San Francisco! It was really good. We got there just in time. We sat down and the show started. We had cheap tickets so we were in the rear balcony. Really far up. But it was still really good. I think I would have been a bit lost had I not seen the movie before. It was really awesome to hear the music live though.

This entry is not going make sense chronologically. Recapping the highlights of my week. Yesterday, my "neighborhood" had another dinner thing. There are a lot of neighborhood events. There are a couple of graduate students who get money to throw these events. I think they have $5 per person per event. I met someone who is from Singapore and had gone to LSE for undergrad. We started talking about the differences in the English and American education systems. Pretty interesting conversation. The first years I met at Cambridge are graduating this year since their programs are only 3 years long. I think some of them will come to the US for PhD programs. It would be cool to see them again.

This morning I went for a run. I looked out side the window and there was fog! I thought about Cam the whole way. There were a few days in Cam when it was foggy the entire time. Here, the fog only stays for the morning. But over there, when the fog comes, it stays for 2-3 days straight! So strange.

Oh, last Tuesday, it was pouring rain the entire day. I walked to class instead of biking because I didn't want to get sprayed with water because my bike doesn't have fenders. Turns out those things are really useful if you don't want water and mud all over yourself. Walking wasn't all that much better but I had waterproof things and they dried out really quickly. I didn't get wet at all.

So yeah, I started running again. I think I will try to run consistently in the morning. I've been getting really lazy and getting up later and later in the morning. I don't have morning classes. But I just end up wasting a lot of hours in the morning. So I think if I wake up around 8am and go for a run, I would actually get some work done before going to classes at noon. I work better at night (less distractions) but it's not healthy to stay up that late. So we'll see how long this lasts. haha.

The quarter is almost half way over!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More pictures of the apartment complex!

So there's not too much in the way of fall foliage but there are a few red trees. There are better ones near the road but I haven't gone over there with my camera yet. I think I'll go take more pictures this afternoon just to take a break from studying.

There are also lemon, orange, and persimmon trees around here! I should grow my own herbs and veggies here. I think they will do pretty well. Start a vegetable patch outside my apartment. haha! just kidding. I think I want some potted plants though.

Pictures of my apartment!

I realized that this blog has been extremely picture-less for a long time. I got tired of taking pictures after coming back from Africa. But I thought I should have some pictures of my life at Stanford so here they are. Plus it's been really beautiful outside everyday. After spending a summer in NYC, living in suburbia is definitely a change.

So here is the view from my room. This is a picture of one of the apartments in the grad apartment complex that I live in. Notice the blue skies, green grass, and red roof. All the apartments in this complex are 3 story low-rises with a grassy courtyard in the middle. There is a beach vollyball court just to the left of this.

This is my messy room... It's especially bad since I took this picture on Friday (end of the week)

The kitchen is squashed in a corner of the living room. It feels very cramped but I guess it's functional.

Here's a shot of the living room. We have a couch, dining table (not shown), and e

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recap of Week 3

I got sick last week. I'm still recovering but feeling a lot better than last week. Last Monday, my stomach started hurting in the afternoon. My throat had been feeling a little bit irritated after eating a lot of BBQ the weekend before. And then of course, I decided to fry dumplings for dinner and then it just all went downhill from there. My throat started hurting a lot, had a slight fever, body ached, and was just generally not feeling well the entire week. So I spent a lot of time last week just sleeping. I skipped out on all my non-essential classes. I would get up in the morning, eat rice porridge, and go back to sleep. This would make me feel better in the afternoon. I was still able to do homework in the evenings when I felt more awake. Thursday was especially bad though. I went to Vaden but they said it wasn't strep throat and didn't give me any antibiotics. I even went back on Friday and another doctor claimed that I have the flu even though I really don't think my symptoms were indicative of the flu at all. I even got a flu shot a couple of weeks ago. Anyhow, I managed to keep up with classes and teach for Splash.

My brother and cousin came for Splash! I think they had fun which is good. I took them up the Hoover Tower during Sunday lunch. Apparently, it's free even for my guests. I mean, it's only $2 for adults and $1 for kids under 12 but still, it adds up if you have a big family or a lot of friends. I taught origami and stamp collecting again. I swear some kids are super spoiled and come from places where they always have everything they want. I had a limited amount of paper for my second origami class because the first one used them all and this one kid was like "is there any way you can get more?" even though there was clearly still enough paper for everyone. And then when we were folding this ring thing that needed 8 pieces of paper, she kept wanting to get more pink paper even though there wasn't any more. And some kids just can't wait for their turn to be helped. Don't they understand that they're not entitled to always be helped first?? The girl mentioned above didn't have the patience to finish making the ring and spent the rest of the class drawing on the board. While I'm at it, I feel sorry for some of these homeschooled kids. I'm sure they're learning a lot more academically than public school kids but they would not survive in a public school since they're used to having things done their way. You learn a lot of social skills by going to school. School is not just for academics. In fact, I think MBA students would admit that a big part of their motivation to do an MBA is to network.

So being sick and doing Splash all translates to being behind in studying. I've kept up with all the homework that was due but I didn't managed to do anything beyond that. I think grad classes have more outside reading and you're really expected to do more than just the prescribed exercises. I need to go to the library again and find some good reference books for my hydrology class. I am so lost in that class. The next homework involves coding. Not only am I not sure I understand the hydrological concepts, I'm not sure I understand the finite difference method that we're supposed to use to solve the problems. Not to mention my Matlab skills are still very limited.

Other news: I'm going to see Rent (the musical) in SF on Wednesday! Our dorm got tickets so a bunch of us are going. I'm excited. I saw the movie in LSC back in sophomore year and liked it a lot. I hear the musical is a lot better! And now that I've lived in NYC, things should make more sense. The New York Times make so much more sense now. Before I would just ignore all references to neighborhoods but now I have a much better sense of all the references.

This Saturday, the MIT Club of Northern California is organizing a bike trip. This sounds really cool but I don't know if I'm going to make it. I might have to do some major studying...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More about classes

I'm blogging again because I just finished everything that's due the rest of this week (Thursday and Friday)! Yay. Last week I finished all my work for the week around mid-day Wednesday. This week was going to be worse but then one of our assignments got postponed until Monday because the professor was getting ahead of himself. Anyway, I wanted to write about the 1 unit class I'm taking.

I'm taking a class in the geophysics department called Exploring Geosciences with Matlab. This class basically assumes you have absolutely no previous Matlab experience (which is great!) and teaches you to use the program. It's offered for 1-3 units so I thought it would be a really good idea for me to take it for 1 unit. I'm learning a lot of useful stuff so far. Except that it's not really helping me in my other classes. Apparently the "exploring geosciences" part of the course focuses on plotting thing. I guess that's mainly what geoscience people do: collect data and plot them. (Well, okay, knowing what I know now, this class would have helped in my hydrology class but more on that later.) Anyway, my finite element class also uses Matlab for computational assignments. But there's no plotting involved. That class uses Matlab to assemble finite element matrices and solve them. There's a Matlab class offered in the civil engineering department that I think is more focused on the analytical side of using the program. I just find it funny how these things work out. I guess I really didn't know what geologists, earth scientists, and geophysicist do and as a result I didn't realize how differently different disciplines treat a programming tool.

Now, this surface hydrologic response class. Honestly I decided to take this class because the professor is very funny and tells some great stories, and I was tired of trying out classes. I didn't feel like getting up to go to a 9am hydrogeology class to give it a second chance. And also, this hydrology class isn't offered next year while the hydrogeology class is. Anyway, it's now the third week of classes and I have no clue what's going on. I mean, I know what I'm supposed to be learning (which is a start) but I don't think I'm actually learning very much. This is one of those classes where the professor hands out a ton of notes and self reading is necessary in order to understand everything. So basically I need to put some serious work into that class. I also need to remind myself what Laplace and Lagrange things are.... All that aside, we got back our first assignment today and I got a perfect score, which is a big relief. I got to class a little late so I missed whatever commentary he had on the homework. Probably something like, "everyone who handed it in got a 100%." He would totally do something like that. I worked on that thing the entire weekend and basically ended up with something that looks really simple. So I was kind of worried. But I guess this means I'm not failing the class (yet) so there's hope. The next homework is less fuzzy (it involves math) and is due on Monday. So I'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Matlab and classes

All four of the classes I'm taking uses Matlab. I have a feeling that I will become very good at programming with Matlab by the end of this quarter. I hope I will anyway. When I took 1.00, I seriously did not really "learn" how to program. I just did things by example. As in, take the example and apply it to my situation. I do not understand 'for loops' for the life of me. I spent 15 minutes yesterday explaining to one of my TAs that I understand perfectly what's going on mathematically but just can't write the for loop. My brain just doesn't think that way...

I feel lost in a couple of my classes. I really need to sit down and read the material and go over stuff on my own. I can't learn anything listening to things once. I have to re-write all my notes in order for things to start to sink in. But my hydrologic response class goes pretty fast and it's getting to be a lot of material that I need to go over.

So of all my classes, the one that is remotely related to geotech is the structural geology class. But after attending a couple of week's worth of lectures, I don't think I like structural geology. The scale of things is always too large. Maybe it's just all these geology terms that I don't understand and I don't see the point of all this projecting coordinate system business. Another part of this class focuses on rock mechanics. I hope we get to do more of that soon. I was so happy when I got the rock mechanics book in the mail. I flipped through it and realized that it was an engineering book! I can't describe how happy I was to see an engineering book instead of all these math, geology, and hydrology books I've been reading lately.

Splash is this weekend! I need to find out where I can make copies and such soon... And since I'll be really busy this weekend, I need to do put in some major effort to do more work before the weekend. I still can't believe all my classes give weekly assignments. I feel like grad classes should give assignments every two weeks instead. I don't mind if they're harder. It's difficult to have time to go over stuff and do independent reading if we have to keep meeting these deadlines every week. We got an extension on one of our homeworks today since the professor was getting ahead of himself.

I'm going to an ASCE geotech seminar in a few weeks. The topic is advances in soil liquefaction. I'm excited since the topics seem really interesting and it will be a great networking opportunity. Hopefully I can repeat what happened last Friday (find out about a local geotech company, get business cards, and possible internship offer)! My department is going to reimburse me for the registration fee. Good things happen when you ask! Anyway, I have to miss a couple of classes but I'm sure I can get notes from other people and I think it will be worthwhile.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Week Two: The work starts to pile up

Maybe I shouldn't number the weeks. I think it was fine for the summer but for the academic year it's kind of scary. But it's easier to see what happened when if I ever decide to look back at these entries. Anyways, get ready, this is going to be a long entry. Maybe I should blog more often in the future??

Monday. I got my computer fixed. Well, the guy came and put in another motherboard, which works. The actual problem of seeing lines when the computer is plugged into the external monitor hasn't really been fixed. I still see the lines for some colors. But at this point, I don't think it's worth getting fixed anymore. Actually, right now I have my old computer plugged into the external monitor and there are no lines. Seriously, that old computer is a really good one. I probably could have gotten a cheaper new computer. Anyway, a good side effect of all this is that my old computer can now connect to Stanford's internet. So I have two fully functional computers again.

Tuesday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are really long days for me. I have classes from 12:15pm to 7pm. Not all the way through but I usually stay on campus the whole time. And I usually leave my room at around 10am so that I can go print stuff out, use the library, etc. I was kind of stressed on Tuesday because I haven't really made as much progress on all my homework for that week as I would have liked. After going to all my classes, I went to an ESP meeting. They seem to be doing pretty well. They have a couple of new people, which is good. I felt really hosed so I didn't volunteer for anything. After that, I met up with a couple of classmates to work on homework for my finite elements class. I think this class is very easy for people who have very good theoretical math backgrounds. I met up with Eleanor and Andrew today (Saturday), who are computational math PhD students, and they said the class was easy. They both took it last year and Eleanor got a perfect score on the midterm. Seriously people, this is supposed to be an engineering class. Why are all these math majors taking it?? There are two other people from my department who are taking the class and we got help from a second year PhD student who is also taking the class. She works in the Blume Center. The Blume center is where the structural and geomechanics PhD students' offices are. We had lunch with a couple of them afterwards.

Wednesday. I've been using the geocorner's undergrad lounge as a place to chill. I'm in that building a lot and they have nice couches in that lounge. I also discovered a microwave in there that I didn't know existed because it was tucked away in a corner. There was also leftover pizza from some event so I helped myself to some. In the afternoon, I went to an Engineers for Sustainable World (ESW) meeting in the afternoon. They work with NGOs in a couple of countries on specific projects. There is a class that you have to take in the spring to be on the team. They fund 2 people to go to the site in the summer for each project site. I think this year, the projects are in Mexico, Indonesia, and Kenya. But I'm not entirely sure how things. We sat through this 40 minute presentation where they didn't really explain the mechanics of the program. I hate it when this happens. You have to guess how the program works. I guess for people who've worked with the program forever, that part is just too obvious to explain. Anyway, the classes are in the spring so I don't really have to worry about them now. And I don't even know if I will have time to go on one of these projects over the summer. And it's just not satisfying to work on something like this and not go. I mean, you learn most of the stuff when you're in the field.

Thursday. I made it to one of the geosciences/geophysics seminars. It was pretty interesting. The speaker is part of a group that is trying to gather data on earthquakes and faults around the world in order to inform people about potential hazards. Even though I had a long day, it was more relaxing because I managed to finish everything I had due this week on Wednesday. So I was not as stressed out. After my classes, I met up with a friend to eat at one of the dining halls. The food was okay. I mean, it wasn't bad. Lots of choices. And it was all you can eat. The dessert was really good though. And I had a lot of asparagus. I really like asparagus but it's hard to find thin ones at an affordable price.

Friday. Friday is usually a really light day for me since I only have one class. But there was a day long Seismic Seminar hosted by the American Institute of Architects. I'm not sure there were all that many architects attending but they invited Stanford students to attend for free. I went because the first session looked interesting. I stayed for all but one of the sessions since I had class. The talks were somewhat interesting. What was really cool was that one of the sponsoring companies for the events is a geotechnical company. The company sent a couple of people to the event and I got to talk to them. Turns out they're a local company that's just down the street from Stanford. They're really small so they work on smaller scaled projects and do everything geotech related for those projects. One of the guys told me to contact them if I'm interested in an internship. This is really awesome because I think they are exactly the type of company that I would want to work for starting out to get some experience. I would be out on the project site getting experience at doing site investigations. Logging borings, rock cores, seeing piles go in, etc. I think it would be very valuable experience. I got both of their business cards so I will definitely keep them in mind. Networking was one of the things I had in mind going into the event. But this definitely exceeded my expectations.

Friday night. After the seismic seminar, there was a happy hour at the Blume center. There was a lot of food and drinks. It was good to chat with people and I met a few more people in the structures program that I hadn't had the chance to talk to. I left before it got dark and ran into some people at Rains when I was getting my mail. I went out to dinner with them. After dinner we went to a bubble tea place where I got sesame milk tea. It was pretty good and the cup was bigger than usual. We sat at the place for 2+ hours chatting. That place offers a ton of flavors and hot snacks. So it's a popular place to hang out and chat with friends. They were extremely busy the entire time we were there. There were high school kids, college kids, and families.

Saturday. I woke up at around 10am and called up a couple of friends about food shopping at the Milk Pail. The Milk Pail is a veggie and cheese market nearby. We've heard that it's a good place to shop so we took the shuttle there. The market was extremely crowded with people and loaded with all kinds of vegetables and fruit. Everything you could ever want. It was great. The produce was reasonably price. Some of the cheeses were expensive but I guess if you want high quality cheese, it's a good place to go. They also had a lot of freshly baked bread so I got a stick of baguette. Anyway, very good store. I like it a lot. Wish it was closer but it's still pretty convenient to get to. After this, I went to the football game for a little bit. It was against UCLA. Stanford won again! That's three games in a roll. Then I headed to Lyman (another graduate dorm) for their annual pig roast. It's nothing like steer roast. It's just more like another free food event. They had buns and sides to go with the pork. I chatted with Eleanor and Andrew for a while. I realized at some point that I hadn't told them I was coming to Stanford for grad school. haha, oopse.

After all that, I've been data crunching the entire Saturday evening. Hopefully I can get through this pset that I have due Monday sometime Sunday afternoon so that I have time to work on my other homeworks!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So much work already!!

Quick entry between classes. Feeling kind of stressed this week. Yesterday, I managed to finish all the psets I have due this week. But I haven't had a chance to start on any of the stuff due next week at all! This is not good especially since these grad level classes require a lot more time. I have to spend a lot of time going over material, reading the book, reading supplementary things, and then spend hours doing the homework. Three out of my four classes seem to give homework every week. I really thought that grad classes would give homework more like every two weeks. I think I prefer having longer homeworks but having them due every 2 weeks. If I have to go to a all day seminar or conference or in the middle of running an experiment for research, having stuff due every week is not good.

Anyway, in one of my classes, the homework is not very straightforward. The professor gave us a ton of data (from 20 years of research) and we're just supposed to do the best we can with them. It's kind of interesting in a way. I guess we get to choose what we want to look at and such. But it's stressful if you don't really understand everything that he did. Anyway, that's what I'll be doing this weekend. Hopefully I'll make some headway with it between now and the weekend.

Right now I'm sitting in on 2 classes. I'm not sure I have time for this. They're good classes and I want to learn the material. But I don't know if I'll have the time to even sit in on lecture, nevermind review the material. So... not sure what's going to happen to these classes. I can see myself abandoning them in the middle of the quarter. Kind of sad but might happen.

Ah, sorry for the lame entry. Had to vent and kill some time.