Saturday, February 20, 2010

Epic Week!

I started writing this on the Caltrain south, back to Palo Alto. I managed to get on the Baby Bullet, which is the “fastest” train available. It makes very limited stops. I’m so glad Palo Alto is one of these stops. Very old train though, bought from Japan in 1985. Very shaky.

I spent last weekend at home. First time home for Chinese New Year in 4 years. It was great. Felt like vacation. I only had 2 things due this week so I didn’t bothered bringing any work home. I wouldn’t have gotten to them anyway. We had a huge feast on Saturday. This concept of being home for the weekend still feels strange. Usually I’m only home during breaks so it really is vacation. So strange to be home in the middle of the quarter.

On Tuesday, I started working. Usually I work Monday and Thursday afternoons and all day on Friday. But Monday was a holiday. They had nearly everything ready for me when I got there. My desk and computer was all set up. The group has an admin. I think it’s because the group manager is a principal. But she’s not his secretary though because she helps the group out with project stuff as well. It’s sooo nice having an admin in the group. There are a ton of admin related things you have to take care of when you start. Last summer, I just asked people in my group and they would direct me to other people. It was such a headache to find the right person to ask things. I’m sitting really far from the group though. Kind of isolated. It’s worse than the start of the summer because I can’t even see the group. I’m around the corner and down the hall. Not a great arrangement. I need to hunt around for space.

There’s a lot more space at this office. I had thought that the New York setup was by design. People here have very low partitions too but they go around 3 sides of the desk and you can’t see your neighbors unless you stand up. And everyone has much more personal space so it’s hard to know what other people are up to. It’s even quieter. In New York, there’s only a partition in front of you. The other two sides are very small and you almost share desk space with the person next to you. It’s great when you’re working on projects together though since you can talk to people without getting up and just dump all the joint project stuff on that desk. Really miss the “talking to people without getting up” part. Oh yeah, the SF office has a dining area. It’s on the floor below me but that’s really nice. Especially for rainy days or when you want to eat together with people but don’t want to go out. And no more having to buzz in after going to the bathroom. That was really annoying. The bathrooms are also much more spacious. The NY office had these really cramped, almost airplane spaced stalls. I didn’t do too much on Tuesday. I did a little bit of stuff and mostly talked to people. Chatted with the group manager for a while. After work, I went to Oakland for a Geo-Institute seminar. They have dinner meetings or seminars every month. This month was PhD student presentations. I was late so I only heard 2.5 presentations. They were good though. I really liked the last presentation, which has to do with liquefaction.

After that, I took BART back over to SF. At this point, I had two choices: (1) take BART all the way to Milbrae and then transfer to Caltrain. or (2) get off at BART at Montgomery and take Caltrain from SF. I chose to go with the second option because I wanted to get food. The problem with this option is that I only had 20 minutes to get from Market St to Caltrain (after buying a sandwich) and it takes around 25 minutes to walk. The next train was in an hour so I ended up running and walking there. Very tiring but I managed to get there in time for the train. Unfortunately, the train hit someone at the San Mateo station. I heard the guy survived but the train was delayed forever on the tracks. We weren't allowed to move so they ended up transferring all the passengers to the next train. And this next train (south-bound) had to go onto the north bound tracks and then switch back over. Such a mess. So what I really should've done was to take my time getting to the Caltrain station and taken the later train instead. I managed to finish the first Sherlock Holmes short story, A Study in Scarlet, and worked on homework while waiting at San Mateo. If we had been any closer to Palo Alto, I would've called someone to come pick me up. But San Mateo is still a 20 min drive so I wouldn't have gotten back any faster.

Wednesday was a lot less epic. I think I was on campus from 11am to 9pm, working on homework. I think this is the first time I stayed on campus for that long this quarter. I've been spending a lot more time studying in my room this quarter.

Thursday I went to work again in the afternoon. I didn't managed to get on the rush-hour express trains. I think I will try to make the express trains from now on. They really are much faster. Although, I should be able to stay late on Thursday since I don't have classes on Fridays. It feels like a waste of time for me to only be in the office for exactly 4 hours. I think I will be able to work full days next quarter. I think that's will be much better.

Friday was a very productive day at work. The SF office only gets bagels on Fridays. No pastries. By the end of summer, I was too lazy to slice open bagels and join the battle for cream cheese, so I got the pastries instead. There's this one pastry that has chocolate swirls in it, really good stuff. But since there's a large dining area in SF, there's no battling for cream cheese involved. All the spreads are laid out on a large table.I think that the paragraph above was meant to be about work.... Anyway, I managed to do a lot of stuff on Friday without very much direction. I think the guy I'm working with is surprised, if not impressed. In actuality, I think most of it is because I'm working for the same company. I mean, they're seeing me as a new intern, meaning, someone who needs a lot of help to get started. But I've done the same sort of things before. I know how the filing system works and can find things on my own. Basically, I'm coming in with a lot more background than they know about. I went out to lunch with some of the people in the group and they paid for me. That was nice.

I caught the express back (where I started writing this entry). I took the Stanford shuttle to Trader Joes and did grocery shopping. Caught another shuttle back. Very efficient process. I didn't go too much out of my way doing this. I got back around 8pm and a friend called to see if I wanted to go for dinner. So I ended up going to a Japanese place in Menlo Park. The food was pretty good. I was exhausted afterwards from the long day and food coma. I watched a couple of episodes of Detective Conan before sleeping.

Need to do a lot of studying this weekend. Last midterm next week. Only 3 more weeks of classes left and then it's finals week!! The quarter went by so fast! I'm pretty sure I learned stuff this quarter but maybe not on the subject as with semesters. This topic of quarters vs semesters warrants its own entry.

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