Monday, May 27, 2013

Professional Engineer!

Exciting news from home: I passed the surveying exam and is now qualified to be a Professional Engineer in the State of California! Yay, I've been waiting for this moment for as long as I've know about the PE license. The official news from the Board of California is that they will mail out the letters confirming licensure on the 29th (Wednesday). I should be able to look up my own license registration 2 days after that. I can get my stamp made after I find out what my license number is. I've already changed my email signature to reflect the exam results. I can also upgrade my ASCE membership to a higher (fee) level.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Woke up this morning at around 3am by the loud noise of rain hitting my air conditioner. I really need to do something about this especially since my loft makes my bed really close to the AC unit. I checked the weather and there was a red rainstorm warning out. HK has three levels of rainstorm warning, going from yellow to red to black. When I woke up this morning to my alarm, the black rainstorm warning was up. This is almost as severe as a typhoon signal 8 warning. People are advised to stay indoors if possible. But buses and such still operate during a black rainstorm as opposed to the streets being completely dead during a T8. So I ended up having a really chill morning. Ate breakfast at home and watched the news.

Went back to the office yesterday evening and it seems like people are as busy as ever. I suppose I should enjoy my site experience while it lasts.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Short update

I am now back in Hong Kong after spending almost 4 weeks in the US. Now that I have an iPad and a smartphone, I tend to carry my laptop around less. I think this is why I blog less because it is harder to type without a keyboard. The past few weeks have been really crazy and I'm kind of just waiting for my life to go back to having a routine.

Boston trip was really good. I think I had a good amount of time visiting friends and catching up with people. It takes a long time just getting lunch and dinner with people. I thought I would have a lot more free time but that was not the case. I didn't really do much outside of meeting up with people and wedding preparations.

The actual wedding felt like it went by really fast, especially compared to all the preparations and all the effort put into it. Everything went pretty smoothly, which was great. The weather was nice too. It stopped raining and the sun even came out for the actual ceremony. We were all really worried about possible thunderstorms during the ceremony.

I think I will write about everything over the next few days. Right now, I'm still getting adjusted to getting back in sync with site works. My roommate moved in recently and we're still organizing the apartment. It's always the little things that need to be organized. We have too much of everything. So many plates and bowls, 3 bottles of the same vinegar, 2 big bottles of cooking oil, 2 bottles of olive oil, same conditioner, etc. But our place feels really comfortable. Looking forward to really living there.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

SFGI lectures

Going shoe and clothes shopping with a friend later today. Haven't been doing very much after my Stanford trip. I've been spending some time organizing files on my computer and helping mom with some little things around the house. Never seem to have enough time to do everything I want to do. I was hoping to do a few more productive things on this vacation. 

I went to the annual SFGI lectures on Friday. This was my first time. It's pretty well attended by the whole geotech community in the Bay Area. People go back year after year. The topics were not as technical as I thought they would be. The first one was about CPTs and I thought that was somewhat useful. The second one was about engineering for developing countries by a professor who basically started Engineers Without Borders in the US. His talk was interesting but I thought it was sort of all over the place. One of his main points was that there is money to be made by entrepreneurs who are willing to market low cost solutions to these 90% of the population. He really believes in a for-profit model. I definitely agree because a solution that is profit driven would carry a lot of incentive for success. It would be interesting to do something like that but it would be time consuming and risky. The third talk was about using geophysics to do treasure hunting in this mountain. I wasn't paying very much attention to that talk. 

The lectures were held at Berkeley. It was a really hot day and for some reason, they didn't have the AC on inside the auditorium. I really don't understand why because I was definitely falling asleep from the stuffiness. I stayed for the social and dinner afterwards and got a chance to chat with some people. The geotech community is definitely very small, much smaller than in Hong Kong. It seems like companies are doing okay in terms of getting jobs and projects. But definitely not as busy as the HK construction industry. 

I also met up with a friend in Berkeley who is doing is MS/PhD. We had lunch on Euclid street where there are lots of little shops and very walkable streets. I really miss that in HK. Nice, quiet streets lined with trees and small shops. Of course, it would be nice if the trees didn't trigger my allergies... 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Post exam

Finished my exam. Hopefully will never have to do surveying again. Felt that the exam was easier this time around but will have to wait until June to know the results.

Haven't done much last week. I want to get all my life stuff in order. Haven't had time to do much these past few months with moving and coming back. I don't foresee having very much spare time right when I get back to HK either. At some point, I need to finish up that research project for work. Way overdue now. Not sure if I should go into the SF office to run some models.

Just spent Monday and Tuesday catching up with friends. I was in SF on Monday morning and had lunch with the Arup geotech group. They seem to be doing well. There are a lot of construction in the city. It seems like the economy is definitely getting better and people are building again. There are a several high raises going up as well as other small projects all around the city. This is good to see. The excavation for the Transbay Transit Center is still going. They have reached the bottom in some places and are putting in the tie-downs. Very closely spaced struts.

After visiting Arup friends, I took the train down to Stanford and started eating a lot. I had a big lunch to begin with and finished that up with a drink from Starbucks. These mobile apps make things too convenient. I used their app to find a store and pay for my drink. I met up with a friend to have frozen yogurt at Yogurtland, which opened right after I left Palo Alto! They have an app too, btw. Then I met up with another friend for dinner at the dining hall. We went to see if there was any water in the lake and of course it was bone dry. Then I went to visit another high school friend who is living in Mountain View. There is so much more daytime here that I don't realize it's getting late. Used to the sun setting promptly at 6:30pm.

The next day I took public transportation back to Stanford and had breakfast, chilled with another friend, lunch with a former roommate, and then grapefruit with a fourth friend. So had a very productive couple of days. I don't want to go into all the details because that would take probably a few posts to cover. On the way back, I stopped by a Whole Foods and picked up things like steel cut oatmeal and Cliff Bars, among other things to take back to HK. I am generally okay with HK food but you really need to keep some things from home. I also ordered a few things from Amazon to take back.

This time around, I really felt like I am just out to do friendship maintenance. After being away for two years, I really feel that my HK and US lives are very separate. There is almost no overlap and the two groups of people are kind of like parallel universes that I jump back and forth between. But their lives go on without me and I think at some point, I need to choose which of the two "parallel universes" I want to really live in.