Sunday, September 23, 2012

2 more weeks!

The iPad is turning out to be a great tool for studying. I can "carry" scanned copies of notes and references around as well as videos. I had the hardest time getting it play Real Media files only to find out that the website where I downloaded it from now offers the videos in MP4. Sigh.. Anyway, I did a good amount of studying this weekend. Really need to hit the practice problems though. For most topics, I really feel like I need to review the basics before going to the practice problems because I just have no clue how to do them. I think I'm okay for geotech. I can just go straight to the problems and start doing them. Because at least I know where to look for the answers even if I don't really know the problem.

One more full week and then we have a 4 day weekend! It's the Chinese National Holiday + Mid-Autumn Festival. We only get one day for the national holiday. I think people in the Mainland get the entire week. Looking forward to getting lots of studying done during those few days. Also need to go buy some souvenirs for people. Any requests?

Last week at work was more sane for me because I got all my stuff out the week before. However, since we were concentrating forces on getting my stuff done, the other part of the project got neglected. We had outsourced it to the structures team upstairs but it turns out they are not very good. I know time is tight and the project is challenging, but it just didn't look like they had the necessary skills to solve the problem. We had to teach them a lot to get them going. Anyway, my supervisor was in a big panic because we kept having to push the deadline. Hopefully this upcoming week will be better since we should be done with getting drawings out for the tender. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New bakery

There are a few new stores near where I live because of the opening of the government housing towers. Found a new bakery that has really good marble cheesecake and chocolate fudge. Very dense western style instead of the fluffy Chinese style.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

3 more weeks!

written on 2012.09.08. not much has changed from last week...

Taking a break from studying for the PE exam. I just signed up for the seismic and surveying exams. The CA Board seems to be outsourcing the all the testing to third parties. They are using NCESS for the civil part, which a lot of states use and Prometrics (computer based exam taking center) for the CA specific part. I’m guessing it’s both a cost and management savings. Last time, the board somehow messed up and the exam takers ended up with 2 copies of the same test for the state specific part. Anyway, taking it with Prometrics is better because you get to choose the times of the testing. I’m going to take them on separate days instead of all on the same day. In the meantime, I really need to find time to seriously study. I’m sure I’ve learned all the topics in school but back then it was just learning for doing homework and taking tests. Now that I’ve been working for a little bit, I’m starting to understand how to apply all these concepts. It’s good to have this as a refresher because nowadays I seem to be doing a lot of multi-disciplinary stuff instead of just geotech things.

Haven’t had a chance to write for the blog in a while. This is because I’ve been too busy at work! Saw daylight at the office this past week again after a long night. We were in a big rush to push out a huge set of drawings to our client. I think we ended up in such a rush partly because I haven’t had time to go finalize the set of drawings for our real scheme. We have a couple of fake schemes that are all based on the real scheme. It’s so hard to do both coordination and detail design. I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not a manpower issue. Our client doesn’t have very many people working on the job either. But they seem to have a good separation between the guy who does design and the guy who does coordination. On our end, I do both. Well, we have a lot of packages and some of the design packages are being handled by other people. But the most difficult design packages always end up on my desk.

On one hand, it makes sense for someone who is handling the detail design to be doing external coordination because it’s more efficient. That person would have enough information to answer questions and don’t have to always go back and forth between different parties to get the right answer. But it’s a lot of work. I think my problem is that I need to really understand the entire design well enough so that I can push it out to other people to do the actual calculations. I really appreciate working on these challenging projects and I think I’m getting better at spotting the major issues to making the whole scheme work. But a lot of times I just don’t have enough experience to see the entire thing through and it’s only when I get down to the nitty gritty calculations that I figure out what I need to do.

Anyway, we have one more major submission this week. Things should calm down a bit after this one is out of the way. Answering questions about a design that is already been thought through is much easier than thinking a design through or trying to answer question about a design that hasn’t been finalized.

I have managed to find some time for fun stuff. Last Sunday, one of the project teams I’m on had a beach BBQ evening. They booked a BBQ place and most of us went to the beach early to enjoy the sun and water. There were a ton of people on the beach though. It was the last weekend before school started so there were a lot of families. The place that we booked wasn’t on the beach but somewhere behind the parking lot. There were a lot of mosquitos and was really hot. But it was still fun to cook everything over the fire. The place proves marinated meats and other things. It’s fun not to have to worry about getting enough food or washing up afterwards. I introduced the group to s’mores. No one has ever had a s’more before! Couldn’t find graham crackers at the supermarket though so had to use these crunchy waffle things.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I think I've been gaining weight again... Can't really tell because my scale ran out of batteries and I haven't gotten around to figuring out what batteries it needs so that I can replace them. I think it's really true that you can keep your weight down or at least at around the same if you just keep a scale around. I think my weight gain is mostly due to the high amount of stress at work, not enough sleep, and eating out too much. I also didn't used to eat very much for dinner because one of the guys who used to work in my group just didn't eat dinner or would just eat fruit. So I'm going to try to go back to doing that again. Eating apples all the time has lots its appeal though but I've recently discovered gazpacho.

Gazpacho is basically a fresh veggie soup. Some people say it's more like a salad because the veggies are not cooked. This means that things don't need to be chopped into small pieces. The number of steps to making something edible is cut down by two (extensive chopping and cooking). So I visited my local wet market again, after being absent from there many months and picked up some fresh groceries. 

I got tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, green onions, lemons, and blended them all with a dash of vinegar. The smell is amazing. But it actually takes a lot of veggies to make one bowl of soup. I didn't end up making enough soup for the whole week. We'll see how long this lasts and if this actually helps the weight issue. I think I need to get my scale working again.