Sunday, May 27, 2012

So many changes in the past year...

Haven't written for a while. I think mostly because my life has been consumed by work, which has become more and more frustrating. All my "big brothers" who were in my team when I started have officially left. It so sad... I can't help but think how happy it was just a year ago with all three of them around.

I attended the HKIE Geotech division's annual seminar last Friday. Last year, I went the three guys in my team and we had a lot of fun. This year, I went there alone. I mean, I met up with Arup people at the thing but it wasn't the same. I feel like our group had people who liked to ask questions, discuss ideas, and not accept things at face value. Last year, we had a lot of discussions amongst ourselves during the seminar and I feel like I get more out of seminars this way. I do feel that I gained a lot in terms of technical knowledge this past year though. I used to feel like I couldn't get much out of seminars because the topics presented were either too specific or too general. Now I feel like I have enough background to read the papers, listen to the talk, and zone in on the useful stuff.

I went to another full day seminar on Saturday. This one was free so I felt like I had to take advantage of it. Both seminars were about tunneling and the use of underground space. The Saturday one was very non-technical, aimed at planners and architects. Of course, there were no planners in the room. I think most people in attendance was hoping for some technical stuff.

I met a friend of a friend today (Sunday) who had just arrived for work. She's working in finance and is looking for a place on the Island to live. We talked about possibly rooming together and went with an agent she had contacted to look at some places. The places we visited were all in the Mid-Levels. That neighborhood is really expensive. What you get for that price is just not worth it. We did see several places in her price range. And since her budget seems fairly big (compared to mine), I think she can find something decent in that area or nearby. It would be extremely convenient for me to live on the Island if I ever do go to CPS for site supervision. But I'm not sure if and when that will happen. One of the apartments we looked at had an amazing view of the site! The big windows look out onto the site and you can see the entire lower courtyard. I was very impressed. I probably should have taken pictures because I don't think you can actually find a better view of the site from a public space!

So I've successfully ignored everything at work for the past 3 days. That was a decent break especially since I've been going into the office non-stop for like 3 weeks (I can't even remember). I was super tired by the time last Thursday rolled around. I even slept in more than usual Thursday morning because I had the excuse that I had to bring something to a government office in the morning before going to work. But I woke up super tired and was really unproductive the entire day.

I've found that my least efficient time of the day is after lunch to around 5 or 6pm. I think I already knew this during grad school and therefore, had scheduled most of my classes or other active things during that time. Otherwise, I would just nap through that time. Work is not that flexible unfortunately. But I think I might switch my weekend work strategies though. I used to wake up late, eat lunch, go into the office, fight off sleep for a few hours, and then head to the gym at night. I might switch the office and gym times around next time I'm at work on the weekends. Not that I'm planning to work on the weekends a lot but just in case it's necessary....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend at the gym

Super tired. I went to the branch of my gym in Megabox (a mall) today and played around with their really nice and new equipment. Wish the Mongkok branch has the same kind of stuff. I primarily went there to swim. They have this very small open air pool. There were more people sunbathing than swimming. Looking at my gym log, I have gained 6lbs between last August and now. I think I should keep track of my weight better.

I walked around the mall afterwards looking for a good place to eat and hang out. I really dislike these malls that don't have windows.After walking around the whole place, I did find some nice balconies. The strange part was that the parking lot had more natural light than some of these stores. I should have just hung out in the parking lot. Ikea has a really nice outdoor sitting area. This branch of Ikea has a cafeteria and it was packed with people. I saw some old ladies who got pretty much everything on the menu and sat around a big round table. It felt like they were at dim sum. I didn't discover the outdoor area until late so I didn't take advantage of it. Next time. I'm going to file this under my list of "nice places to hang out in HK" list.

The weather got better this weekend. Last week was so stuffy that it was impossible to go outside. I couldn't find a good temperature to sleep in for a couple of nights. Last Friday morning, I gave up sleeping at some point and headed to the gym really early.

Saturday night, I walked around thinking about eating sushi in the Mongkok area after coming out of the gym. It was nearly 10pm and there were still really long lines at ALL the sushi places near Langham Place. There were so many young people all lined up. I couldn't believe how long the lines were.

And I finally watched the Hunger Games movie. It was pretty good in that I felt my pulse go up in the tense moments. The girl next to me cried when Rue died. I wish I hadn't read the books though. Ruins the movie. I swear watching the movie does not ruin reading the book because there's so much more in the book than the movie. But reading the book definitely ruins the fun of the movie. The trailers came up after the announced time of the movie so I actually got to watch them this time. There's an upcoming HK film called Floating City that I want to see. Looks really interesting. I should organize a Tuesday movie night event in the office. We work next to a movie theater that has discounts for movies on Tuesday nights. Sometimes it gets annoying though because we can feel the vibrations from the 3D movies!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mid week holiday

It's Labor Day in HK so we get the day (Tuesday) off. In the Mainland, they got Monday off as well. I guess the fact that we get a lot of Western holidays make up for these deficiencies? But I actually don't mind these days off in the middle of the week. It breaks up the week.

Work is always busy and I've decided that I'm going to try not to do office related stuff on the weekends unless there's something really urgent. Even though I can get the to-do list down a bit is not worth it. There's things that are "important" and then there are things that are "urgent". I find that I tend to make a lot of mistakes when I'm tired so I need to give myself time to refresh.

Last Saturday, I went into the office to write up my "experience report" for the PE exam. Hopefully my application will get approved and I will get to take the exam. I summarized some projects that I worked on and I've done a lot this past year! I've been trying out different ways to keep track of what I've been doing but haven't managed to find a good way. It seems like the experience reports for ICE and HKIE are much more involved so I should definitely keep better track of what I'm doing before I forget everything or move on to different projects.

On Sunday, I went out to HK Island just to hang out. I usually go out there when I have a lot of things I need to get done over there or meeting up with people. It costs nearly $20 HKD roundtrip to get over there and back. My usual commute only costs $3.20 so it's a pretty big difference. Anyway, there's a cafe I really like and blogged about before. I had an urge to go back. The cafe was pretty packed when I got there and finding a seat was difficult. I did managed to find a seat outside and sat there for a while. And then I wandered around the area for a while and then thought it would be a good idea to go on the tram. Except it was packed with people and the ride was very uncomfortable. I got off a bit before Causeway Bay and walked around the malls. I did a little bit of shopping for work clothes (bought 2 blouses) and then some Ikea meatballs. I really like these meatballs!

Monday was a bit hectic. My supervisor kept trying to push things onto me but luckily I was too busy so he had to find other people to help out. I would have been in serious trouble if he had actually been successful in his attempts. The bosses need to find ways to spread the workloads more evenly out there.

Today (Tuesday) I went back into the office to file my taxes. I really need a proper desk and chair to do real work. I had filled out forms on TurboTax a long time ago but found that I couldn't file until now. Now the forms are being processed! Yay. I also filled out the CA tax forms and they are waiting to be mailed. I couldn't figure out how to efile the nonresident forms. Looking forward to getting money back!

In other news, it's been extremely humid and muggy these past couple of weeks. Imagine feeling really stuffy sitting in a small room and going outside, only to find more mugginess instead of fresh air. The only respite is malls with air conditioning!

I'm taking suggestions for books to read and stocks to buy.