Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Geologic field trip

I'm going on a field trip for my geology class to see sites where landslides happened. The last sentence of the reading for the field trip:

"An appropriate alternative use for this land would be a park for educational geologic field trips..."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bento lunches

This blog has some awesome bento lunches. I especially love the soy sauce container. See if you can spot it. It is crazy cute. I've subscribed to this blog!

Adventurous Friday

Yesterday (Friday) was a crazy day of fun (and subsequently no work). After my morning class, I went to a meeting for ESW. There are two students from Andalas University visiting us for three weeks. They are here to learn about what we do and for us to learn from them. I think this is a really unique opportunity. We're always focused on sending people to developing countries to do work and learn but rarely do people think about sending people the other way. I think there's probably more value in sending people from developing countries to developed countries. In the end, they're the one who will continue the work.

We had lunch together after the meeting. I find that I can understand very simple conversations in Indonesian. So at this point, if I don't learn the language, it's out of shear laziness. This language is so easy compared to other ones out there.

I went grocery shopping after that. I biked to Trader Joes but only managed to get meat. The vegetables there are expensive and there are not a lot of choices. I decided to go to the Milk Pail the next day because they have good and cheap produce. So much more variety as well. I decided to buy some cream top milk and muscat grapes. They're both amazingly good.

After groceries, I went to play capture the flag with some people in my department. We played in this huge jungle-like area off of Campus Drive. There were tons of trees and bushes. The dirt was super compressible and was full of holes from ground animals (?). Anyway, it made for a couple of interesting games. After we were all tired out from playing two games, we headed to the department happy hour. We had some really good Thai food. I stayed a long time chatting with various people. At one point, a few of us were discussing the varieties of durian and how to tell if they're ripped. And I found out one of the guys here has a twin brother who goes to UIUC. Oat, who also goes to UIUC and visiting Stanford for the weekend, came to that conclusion towards the end of the happy hour. Again, coincidences like this is always so funny and shocking at the same time.

By the time we were ready to leave, it was already way pass 9pm. My neighborhood at Rains held a block party scheduled for 9pm - 1am. I went to this party for a little bit but it was too cold outside. This party was attended by a lot of civil engineers. I knew quite a few people.

I'm cooking for some people later today. These dinners always go for a while so I'm hoping I still have some motivation to do work after that. Going on a geology field trip tomorrow. We're going to see some landslides. Hopefully it will be warmer out, especially while we're in Daly City.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Networking within a small net

Wow, another day of small-world-ness. I went to a GEER (Geo-Engineering Earthquake Reconnaissance) talk/dinner meeting for the SFGI (San Francisco Geo-Institute). They do reconnaissance trips after earthquakes in order to learn more about geology, geotechnical engineering, and hopefully find things that can help the engineering community. I arrived for the social chit-chatting before the dinner and after I introduced myself to two people, one of the asked me if I went to MIT. I was a little surprised (I wasn’t wearing a brass rat or anything), and said yes. Turns out he’s a friend of Xiumin’s! He said that Xiumin mentioned that she has a friend named Lucy. I also vaguely remember Xiumin talking about a friend who did his Masters at MIT. Such an interesting coincidence. I also remember seeing him at an ASCE event last month and had wanted to talk to him because he works at Geomatrix, a pretty big geotech firm. I didn’t get a chance that time. Very glad I did this time though.

The actual presentation was really interesting. The two guys giving the presentation went to Haiti on a recon trip with a team of geologists and geotechnical engineers. They spent 6 days in the country about 2 weeks after the earthquake. They basically went around looking at structural and geological features for damage trying to find evidence of faulting. Their conclusion was that the earthquake did not happened on the well known fault in Haiti but that it actually happened on a fault that has not been mapped yet. Very, very interesting, mystery solving trip. They’re still analyzing data from the trip to map figure out the actual fault that had ruptured. They also did a lot of simple geotechnical tests with hand instruments. I really wanted to ask them about that stuff to see if its feasible/appropriate to do in Padang this summer. But I didn’t get a chance because I was trying to get a ride to a BART station. I think I’ll email the guy though.

They are also talking about holding a geotech recon training sometime in the fall. That would be so awesome. I need to join this organization (GEER)! I wrote about professional organizations in a previous post. And I’ve always thought that I would get more involved later, when I have an actual job and settle down and such. But maybe not since I get really good deals at events as a student. Companies will pay for professional society memberships but usually only one or two, not the four or five that I would like to join.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meetings, activities, dinners, etc.

I can't believe it's still so rainy in May. I'm not sure is a very good weather predictor. But now I've gotten used to using it. One of the guys at work uses BBC. Maybe I should too. Only 2 more weeks at work. 5 days. woah.... time goes by very fast. I think this internship has been satisfying. I've been doing more and more actual work. Not sure if I will have time to work in the fall. I think I will have time to do something in the winter since I would only be taking 5 units worth of classes. Or should I just audit a whole bunch of classes? I really want to know what people are doing after they graduate. I think a whole bunch of people are graduating from my program after this quarter. Don't know where they're headed off to.

I think I need to get more involved in professional societies. I'm in a few: ASCE (GI), SWE, SEAONC (I think?). I think some people are very involved and sit on technical committees and organize events. I think it would be interesting to get involved in a technical committee. Not sure what that would entail. Pretty sure I don't qualify to do the work at this point. Anyway, I'll probably get involved in the Younger Member Forum(s) in the future.

Our visitors from Indonesia arrived today! Yay. There were all sorts of visa problems for them. At first they couldn't get an appointment at the US embassy until June but magic things happened and they are now here! I really need to get on top of this learning Indonesian thing. I sort of stopped because the lessons got harder. Very bad excuse, I know. But some of the lessons don't seem relevant to me. I also wish I had a book that focused more on the grammar. Maybe it's time for another visit to the library?

I told a friend today that I feel like I have too much social life. In addition to going to work tomorrow, I am meeting with a former coworker for lunch, and then going to a SFGI dinner after work. Hopefully, I can get back in time for the Thursday Night Thing at Rains. Then Friday, the department is having capture the flag and happy hour in the afternoon. Saturday and Sunday nights I'm having dinner with people. I will be cooking. This means I need to go grocery shopping sometime on Friday. Oh, and geology field trip on Sunday to some landslide sites.

Monday, May 17, 2010

B2B: a San Franciscan race

I ran Bay to Breakers yesterday! The course is 12km (7.45 miles) long. I managed to run the entire way because I was running with a friend. We had planned to take the Caltrain up to San Francisco but managed to get a ride. Normally, it is impossible to be in the city by Caltrain on a weekend at 8am. But Caltrain decided to run special services just for Bay to Breakers (B2B). The Caltrain was packed like crazy! I think they should've ran the newer trains because they have more room for standing. The trains were probably over capacity.

It was pretty chilly the whole day, around 50s and slightly windy. Once I warmed up, it was fine. We ran at a steady pace of 12 min/mile the entire way. I think I would've been able to speed up after I warmed up (2 miles) but after 2 miles, we hit the Hayes hill. That hill got pretty steep at the end. But we keep manage to hold a steady pace all the way up to the top. It was all downhill after that. Actually, at the end, I was kind of surprised at how fast it all went by. The end of the half marathon seemed to drag on forever. This race just had us exiting the park at the Great Highway and the finish was right around the corner. I spent a minute or two debating whether the big orange thing was actually the finish line.

Extremely sore today but otherwise, I think I'm doing fine. I felt fine cardo-wise. I think I was breathing only through my nose half the time. No panting or feeling short of breath at all.

There were a lot of crazy costumes. There were some middle school aged kids running as a centipede (tied together). They were cute. There were also many families. Definitely more diverse than the usual road race crowd. There were 33,000 people registered and probably around 60,000 people actually on the course. So crowded! We had were constantly dodging and passing people.

I ate a huge lunch when I got back and slept for a few hours before finishing up two homeworks while being bombarded by people on gchat. Getting up early for B2B was good because I have been getting up later and later on non-work days. This makes me feel tired when getting up for work, which I don't like. Only 3 more weeks left at work. 4 more weeks until the quarter is all over. These last few weeks always seem to drag by with no end in sight. It's worse this quarter since people at other schools are out for the summer, graduating, etc.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Small World

Last night, at a bubble tea and karaoke social, I met a friend of a friend. The world is so small. Or is it that my "social group" is getting smaller and well defined. Very interesting meeting.

I started reading Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historical Turnaround. It's written by Lou Gerstner, who "rescued" IBM in the early 90's when the company was about to collapse. It seems like there's this network of top American CEOs and they all know (of) each other. The guy writes pretty honestly about his days at IBM as an incoming CEO. He had a lot of good people working for him and I feel like they can all write their own versions of how they rescued IBM. At one point, he writes about how the technical team successfully moved their mainframe technology from bipolar to CMOS technology (I'm sure this means a lot more to CS techny people out there). If they hadn't been able to pull that off, their mainframe stuff, most of their profits, was dead. He dedicated a little more than half a page to this, and then goes on to write about the meetings with other executives. I was a bit appalled. Seems like the engineers are not appreciated even in a technology oriented company. Or is it that what he does, company restructuring, financial management, and customer relations, are what's actually important? I guess you can't have one without the other. But which one do I want to do? Can I have an engineering background, have a satisfying engineering career, and become a CEO? Or will I always be a technical advisor? Project engineer? Would I be satisfied being the head of my specialty (geotech) in a global company?

My group at work is getting a summer intern who is starting in a week (on the 24th). I was about to say that this has never happened to me before, having another intern come in as I was leaving. But I think this sort of happened at ebmud. Well back then, it was more like the group had 2 interns.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Squrriels, Grad Formal, and Meaning of Life

Woah, I really thought I blogged mid-week. Well then, highlights of the week. This past week was relatively okay since one of my professors was out of the country and we didn't have his class the whole week. We've been spending a ton of time trying to do the homework that's due tomorrow though. I'm still working on it... not used to having 2 assignments due on the same day anymore.

I finally succeeded in subletting my place! After a hundred or so emails I finally got someone to commit to the place. I got a deposit and everything. So it looks like things will work out. I relieved not to have to trade emails and such with people anymore. This renting business is hard work!

I saw the saddest thing Tuesday morning. First of all, I missed the shuttle I normally take by half a minute. I saw it leave. While on the next bus, I saw a squirrel laying in the middle of the road, clearly dead. It was stretched out, laying on its stomach, tail flat on the ground. This happens all the time on campus, cars run them over because there are just too many. But the sad part is that there was a 2nd squirrel in front of the dead one, looking at it and trying to figure out what's going on. As we were approaching on the bus, the squirrel turned to look at us and was confused as to whether he should run away or stay with the dead squirrel. So sad. Just like a scene in the movies, except with squirrels.

I think I need to eat more protein. This doesn't seem to be a common problem. Most people are trying to eat less. But I don't think I get enough, especially since I run. I am totally going to be in pain after Bay to Breakers. Haven't ran 5 miles in forever, nevermind 7.

Friday night, some of us went out to dinner with a 2nd year who's leaving. He just graduated and is moving to Portland for work. We were causing all sorts of trouble at the restaurant. I swear they wanted to kick us out! I feel like we should've hung out more during the past 2 quarters. And in June, a bunch of the structural people will be graduating.

I think I need to learn to cut down on the small talk. I tend to talk about useless things like the weather and classes all the time. These things really don't matter in the long run. We have discussions about life and society during lunches at work sometimes. It really interesting to see how people think. I think I need to take and apply.

Went to the grad formal last night. I think I was possibly the last person to book tickets online. The formal was Saturday night and I bought the tickets online Saturday morning. I checked the website 2 hours later and they closed the online registration. The venue had a lot of rooms and open space, which was nice. There was a center area with food and drinks, a ballroom where there were dance lessons, and a large room with music and dancing. I spent the entire evening running into people and chatting with various people. I tried out this ballroom thing but the lessons weren't all that great. It would've been better if I had taken the dance class this quarter but I really don't have time for it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

So much for getting work done over the weekend...

This weekend has seen no work done so far. Friday and Saturday have been big adventures.

Friday morning, we went up to SF and failed to get our visas. Long story short, the guy wanted to see our flights, which we did not have. So I think we're back to Plan A, which is to get the 30 day visa on arrival and figure it out from there. I feel like I should've made the trip to the embassy on a work day and tried to figure this out first. Oh wells...

After I came back, my soil berm team biked 5 miles to meet with the president of an architecture firm in Menlo Park. His office is out of the way and we couldn't get a ride. He didn't really like our big engineering solution that involved retaining walls and use of heavy machinery to get things done. He said he had imagined something more along the lines of a 5m high berm that a neighborhood can do for themselves with shovels. I like this idea a lot actually. I think in some parts of the town, a 5 m high berm would be sufficient. And it would not take up a whole lot of room. It would be easily done and would not involve big time engineering. Much more along the lines of what I imagine solutions for the developing world to be. I'm not sure the rest of my team likes this idea though. I think they like the huge engineering solution. They think I worry about useless things when I keep asking about available equipment in the country. I mean, I know Indonesia is much better off than Sierra Leone. But I feel like we're coming up with a developed world solution that is not going to make sense for a developing country.

On our way back, we stopped by the Menlo Park Caltrain for food. I was hoping that this one Japanese place I knew of would be open but we got there at like 2pm and they were not open between lunch and dinner. So we went somewhere else instead. Then we stopped by Safeway. Basically, we took a very scenic route back. I didn't do much after that other than laundry.

I went running Saturday morning. I really need to get back into shape. I think I'll run the Dish tomorrow (Sunday morning). I think my cardio is very good but really need to build those muscles. After that I went on a AAGSA dim sum outing. It was fun. Met some new people and helped out with food ordering. I biked over to Fry's electronics after that to pick up a couple of things. Came back and went with some friends to the shopping center where I picked up a pair of flip flops. I think I need a pair of good flip flops and/or sandals for this summer. One for everyday walking and another for meetings with important people. I'm not sure I'm going to keep the pair I got today. Not exactly 100% happy with them. I think I'm going to go to the REI in SF. I've seen that store many times and always wanted to go.

After all that, I rushed around and made some cookies for Mahalia's bday BBQ. I was going to make red bean mochi at first but didn't have enough time. In retrospect, I totally could've made them and just showed up later. Oh wells. I couldn't fine corn starch at the highly upscale grocery store at the mall.

I had wanted to go to another Indonesian movie night but didn't want to leave the party early. So I showed up to the movie night late and found an empty room. Maybe no one showed up? I just wanted to return a DVD that I had borrowed.

I finally did some reading after all of this but really haven't done much work all weekend. Very nice weather these days though. Everyone's been hoping that the rain would end. We've been having a couple of rainy days a week, between very sunny days. No rain forecasted in the next 10 days though. So maybe the dry season is finally starting?