Sunday, February 26, 2012

End of February

I found this Japanese restaurant that does 40% off their set dinner menu after 9:30pm. This works out very well for me because I usually go to the gym at around 7pm on Saturdays. On the weekend, I like to head out to the one in TST because their equipment is newer and the air circulation is better. The only downside about going on a weekend night is that there are too many personal trainers prawling around with nothing to do. I can't just go and experiment with the equipment because they're bound to come over to "help" me. Anyway, this Japanese place is pretty good. The price is decent after the discount. You get miso soup, kimchi, steamed egg, along with your choice of the rice with different kinds of sashimi toppings. I had a spicy salmon thing last night and it was really good. What am I going to do when I go back to the States and I have to make an effort to go find sashimi??

Last week was another crazy week at the office. I was just really tired by the end of the week and was not feeling very productive. It takes so much energy to keep track of what's going on when there are multiple things happening. I'm always trying to figure out what I owe other people and whether or not I'm the one holding up everyone's work.

I need to start clearing my place of the food that I've stockpiled. For example, I have Milo and this milk powder mix that I've stopped drinking. I have all kinds of coffee beans and tea. I even have flour. This stuff all needs to go before I move. I think it will be fairly affordable to hire a moving van and people to move my stuff. But it would just be such a waste of energy and effort to be packing away a box of crackers or something like that. I have a much better idea of what I want, now that I have a better idea of what HK has to offer. There's a part of the New Territories where you can get a 700 sq. ft, 3 bedrooms, for $3,000 HKD a month! That would be amazing. But it's way too far away. And I don't really want 3 bedrooms.

Didn't managed to go hiking this weekend. Maybe next weekend I will hike over the mountains to Shatin. One of my former coworkers asked me what my career plan was. Need to take advantage of everything that HK has to offer in case this whole thing is cut short very quickly. Things seem to happen very fast here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is it spring now?

I think I'm going to make it a habit (or at least try to) go hiking every Sunday until it gets too hot. I have a feeling that it will get too hot very quickly. I feel like I've missed winter somehow. I walked the Eagle's Nest trail today. It was a fairly easy walk and I took my time. There were a lot of nice rock outcrops that were great to sit on and snack. There were a fair number of other people on the trail, at least the part that was also a part of the Maclehose trail. I'm thinking about doing the part of the Maclehose trail that goes to Lion's Rock sometime soon. There's a rock that's supposed to look like a lion. There's also a trail that goes over the mountain and puts me in Shatin afterwards. I like ending up in convenient places.

I feel like my finger nails grow very fast. The last time I cut them was the last time I blogged, a week ago.

I got more fruit today. I think I'm going to continue this bringing fruit to the office thing and eating around 6-7pm regardless of whether we end up eating dinner at work or not.

This past week was interesting. My supervisor was really busy because one of the guys was on vacation to study for his geotechnical exam. He still came back pretty much every day to the office to help out and such though. I think he only ended up taking 1 day's worth of holiday. Anyway, I ended up having to do some of his stuff and unfortunately, on the day I need help the most, the guy I usually help out was sick. That was a really sad day. Don't know what I would do if they weren't around... On Friday, just as I was about to leave at 8pm (even turned off my email), my supervisor asked me to help out with this proposal for an internal research project. I was kind of annoyed because he had been talking about it all wee but just hasn't managed pass it off. The deadline was Friday night (London time) so we technically still had a few more hours. I finished the proposal after dinner. It didn't actually take very long and halfway through writing the first section, I had a pretty good feeling they will fund the project. Not sure when anyone would have time to work on this type of extracurricular activity though.

On Saturday, I went back to the office to look at topics for the PE exam. There are a lot of random topics. Some of them I really have no clue what to do with. I made a study plan and allotted 4 hours of studying time every week. I think that should be sufficient if I actually stick with the plan. I think I'll probably be all set with the geotechnical part. Nothing special there except maybe using US customary units and a random AASHTO criteria or two. So I actually think I allotted too much time in that category and will probably shift some of that to seismic and surveying.

I started re-reading the Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow series. I found out that there are new books out for the series and want to read them all again. I really like the Shadow series. I'm finishing up the first book now and for some reason, my Kobo has gotten really slow. I think I need to reset the thing after I finish this book. I hope it's not broken because I really like this thing. So light. I can even take it hiking and read on top of some outcrop on a mountain.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Typical Sunday

My scale says I'm too fat. So I'm starting a fruit diet. Or at least, make an attempt to eat more fruit and less of other junk. Having said that, I still need to finish the two tubes of potato chips that I bought recently. They are Pringles wanna-be's and not very good. Maybe I should give them away instead... Anyway, I bought a lot of fruit at the wet market today. I really enjoy going to the wet market. Things are so cheap and I feel like I'm getting very good value for my money there. I never spend more than $100 ($50?) and always end up with a heavy load of groceries.

After buying a lot of stuff and picking up laundry, I headed to HK Island again. I redeemed the last of my pasta Groupons. I have not bought a Groupon for a while. I think I was over zealous about them at first. Now I find it to be a hassle to go redeem them. Too much planning ahead involved. Of course, I can't waste a trip to the Island so I headed to Pacific Place to watch a movie. Festival Walk (where I work) and Pacific Place are the only malls with AMC theaters. You get 10% off at AMC theaters just for using a HSBC credit card. I got tickets for The Lady even though there were only front row seats left again. I even went there 2 hours ahead!

Pacific Place is too sterile and gloomy for my taste. There didn't seem to be very many customers. The mall is underground so there are no windows. Even the skylights don't let very much light in. Such an opposite feeling than that of Festival Walk. I'm so glad the designers of Festival Walk did with natural lighting in mind. I really dislike places without windows and outdoor space. I managed to find a very nice cafe, the Petit Cafe, on top of the mall though. It's a really nice little place with decently priced drinks and pastries. Both the indoor and outdoor seating areas are very nice. I'm so glad I found that place. I got a coffee, chocolate fudge brownie, and grapefruit juice. I'm definitely going back there if I'm ever on the Island again. Maybe after a hike or something.

The Lady was a good movie. It showed less of the actual political stuff than I expected/wanted. I wanted to understand more about the history and recent history of Burma. I did some cooking and cleaning after I got back. The weekend is so short!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wanted to share this: Very happy for you two!!

Had another very busy and intense week. I think my legs finally stopped being sore on around Thursday. It has difficult to have to go buy takeout for 6 people by myself on Monday. I somehow managed to walk down the couple of steps without spilling all the drinks. I had my doubts though. 

I think everyone on our floor looks at our team with a kind of awe because of how hard we work. Definitely not a good thing. There is a lot of stressful moments during the work day and a lot of unhappy complaining later at night. I feel like my ears and nose are not used to having glasses on them for so long each day. I don't know how we always end up being in a rush to push out submissions. This whole submission process is such a hassle. I guess it does make you appreciate the entire design process because your design gets reviewed by several external people who may look at your assumptions with different concerns and considerations. It's a very time consuming process to argue with the government engineers and working out a "compromise" on every little issue and then having to incorporate the comments and changes into your design. This week, there was some massive rescuing of submissions going on in our team. Apparently the turnover is very high for our team. 

One of the guys has been trying to get his project approved for months now and the last two days were epic. He was supposed to return his submission on Thursday afternoon but had to keep pushing it back until they finally settled on Friday morning. So he was in the office until 3 or 4am Thursday night/Friday morning. I wish I could have helped out more but I had my own submission to rescue and it didn't really make sense for me to jump in in such late stage. Anyway, they were still printing and running around Friday morning. I don't think the meeting went well and he had to bring everything back to the office to fix and returned it in the afternoon. I gave him a couple of hours of my time in the afternoon but he still got back late. The submission is still in limbo. Such a scary process if you don't know how to navigate it right.

I finished reading the Hunger Games series. I think the first book was the best. The second and third kind of dragged on in some parts. I mean, there's a lot of action but I still found that it got kind of dull as far as the direction of the entire plot. I guess I was expecting the main character to do more of the strategic work instead of unwittingly being a symbol of the rebellion. But I guess it provides depth for the main character and makes the story unique. There are a lot of loose ends that weren't tied up at the end though. Maybe the author is saving room for future works. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Another half marathon

The Lunar New Year holiday ended over a week ago and I haven't had a chance to write anything since then. This is because taking time away from work just means things get piled up. The past week has been very intense with me trying to save our submission and answering all of the comments. There are so many that the even though the guys let me work on the in peace (not working on any other projects at all), I still needed help with some parts of it. Anyway, we managed to get everything done for this round. Next week, we're taking the submission to another government department to get more comments. Hopefully, there will be less comments. Or at least, less comments for me to answer.

I feel like I can work a lot more independently now. But I'm still lacking in a lot of stuff, especially those that deal with what actually happens on site. I guess this whole checking process really brings out potential questions. It's the job of these government engineers to make sure that we (the designers) have written enough provisions on the drawings so that the contractors will do what we want done and that there are no misunderstandings when things actually happen on site. I feel like I'm learning a lot even though I haven't gone on site yet. I think the more I know about how the entire design and construction process works, the more I'll be able to predict the types of problems that might come up and solve them earlier on.

This past weekend was the Standard Charter Hong Kong Marathon, unarguably, the biggest road race in Hong Kong and probably ranks as one of the biggest in the world. Over 30,000 people participated in the 10K races alone. There are also half marathon and full marathon events. I did the half marathon, which has proved how out of shape I am. It took me longer to do this one than my very first half marathon. During my first one, my left leg started hurting and I was forced to walk parts of it. This time, I was just tired. I was short of breath at some parts of it. I can blame parts of it on the crowds and the heat (I got a bit sunburned) but it was mostly that I was out of shape. The route wasn't too bad, no crazy hills.

The road races here are pretty organized. They always give you a nice big plastic bag to put your stuff in and are pretty organized about the bag checks. They have scouts running them. But I feel like the sponsors don't provide very much in terms of food after the race though. Maybe there just aren't as many sports drink/snack companies all vying for a sponsorship spot. I have to say that Watsons provided a very generous amount of bottled water and sports drinks though. They trucked in water in those big bottles to pour into cups. The sports drinks were in pouches, which were way more than what we needed at each stop. Gatorade sponsors a lot of the races in the US and they just give out the powder stuff. I've seen one race where the water just comes out of the hose. But I guess people are not going to go for that here.

I had chocolate milk, some pineapple, and dumplings before napping. I woke up with a huge headache and after reading in bed for a while, I went for a sauna at my gym. Got a plate of salmon sashimi and a big chicken leg for dinner and am lying in bed again. I hope I can walk tomorrow. It doesn't seem too bad though. I've already told my coworkers that I will not be able to walk tomorrow and they're even expecting me to call in sick.

Nothing exciting planned for the upcoming weeks. I'm glad though because I need to spend some time cleaning and doing some other chores.