fun run

Thirty six minute for running 5 km. I’m sure that’s definitely one of my personal record. Since a little kid, I’m never good at running. In highschool P.E. lessons, I’m always one of the slowest few in the class. Running for 10 laps and around the school run was like torture to me. After so many years, out of totally unknown reason, I signed up for the Science World Fun Run sponsered by the company. The registeration for the run is free, include a free T-shirt and high-tech shoe tag for individual time keeping. I guess it’s partly due to peer-pressure. Not only Pat started running to keep fit and wanted to come, several other friends at work also signed up. I was so worried that I would be the slowest one again. Fortunately, not including the girls, I am still faster than Louis and Jackson. Pat’s time is pretty good, only about 100 meters slower than Jackson. In the first half of the run, I stay besides Pat, so it was not very tried.

On the second half, Pat let me “runs free” and I keep up without walking all the way until the finishing line. The final 1km is the toughest, even though I was able to see the dome at the end point, there still a long way to go. It takes some self control for my exhausting yourself too soon by dashing prematurely. I think in long run, psychology plays as an important role as the body. There are times that I wanted to slow down and take a break, it is the mind force myself keep running. Actually I feel happy finishing the run, partly is due to the sense of accomplishment, and partly is due to chemical released in my brain from the vigorous exercise. I am planning to take part in the 10km run next year. Maybe in a few year when I’m not that busy, I’ll really start training to run a Marathon. Complete a Marathon race is now official added to my life time to-do list.

Today is really a busy day, it has been non-stop after the fun run in the morning. Right after the run, went home took a quick shower, then go to Richmond to have the farewell lunch with George. The guy go back to HK for good and got a job offer in the HK science park. Then it’s the weekly dancing class. This week is learning cha-cha for the 2nd time. I can feel my moves are better than last time, still I have problem counting beats. After that, we have to help out Krispy Kream distribution in the church. The fund raising for World Youth Day is a hugh success, I can’t imagine we had sold over 300 hundred dozens of donut. We were so careless that we forgot to order a box for ourself. Luckily, someone didn’t pick up their donuts and we could take that box home. Now as I’m writing about donut, I can feel my hunger and I know it’s time for me to stop writing and have a donut.

haircut

I finally had my long due haircut this afternoon. I can feel my head is much more comfortable now, the hair is lighter and cooler, won’t get into my eyes all the time. I went to a man only salon that I had visited before. For the last few haircuts, I got dragged by Pat to company her to salon for both gender. I actualy like going to the man only salon. Not only it has computer and male oriented magazines in the waiting area, TV on each hair cutting station. The most important factor is that the hairstylist really understand the decision making process of man. All I have to say is the length and thickness I want, no need to answer weird questions about which style I prefer, or even worse had to pick a style from the magazine. Most man can only see the difference between having hair or not having enough hair. We don’t really care much about hair style, and would feel uneasy on questions about hair style because the lack of knowledge. Especially for male engineers, we really have a problem in making subjective judgments. I can never understand what makes one style better than another, unless someone show me statistics on the popularity of the difference styles. I had read some philosophy on aesthetics, I can understand beauty defined in classical sense, which is based on objective or utility values. Just the beauty defined by popular culture, such as hair style and fashions, doesn’t make any sense to me. Why one way or the other, they are all arbitrary decisions.

home sweet home

After a week long business trip, finally I can sleep comfortably at my own bed tonight. Saskatoon is really the most boring city I had ever visited, although I haven’t visited many cities really. I think I had left foot prints on all shopping area in Saskatoon, where isn’t that many. It took only half hour to drive the circular highway surrounding the city once. The flight back is pretty smooth. Although lack of meal provided, I like Westjet better than Air Canada. The flight is more comfortable. The plane has leather seats with individual LCD screen of live TV broadcast. Anyways, my brain couldn’t really function normal after a whole day of travel, it’s time to go to bed. The only thing I learn from this trip other than technical details related to the project is that I hate work travel. The evening is so boring and unproductive in the hotel, I guess it would help if I have a decent laptop. Moreover, I start to see the beauty in building a routine work and life schedule.

Saskatoon day three

Today is yet another busy working day just like yesterday. After work I went to tour the Campus of University of Saskatoon. The school buildings is nicely built, all outer wall are covered with bricks to give a similar look. There is also an exhibition of dinosaur fossils in the geology building. The collection is quite impressive, including a complete skeleton of a T-Rex. I was wandering in the campus looking for food, unfortunately all the cafe are closed in the summer term. As I keep walking, eventually I was lost in the maze of corridors between buildings and couldn’t navigate my way back to my car. That force me to do a very un-manny act, that is ask for direction. The student I met is really nice, he even walked me back to the parking lot. After that I headed towards the downtown area continue my search for food. The downtown mall has the exact layout of the Coquitlam center, even the shops are quite similar, the usual name brand stores. Since there was not hing interesting to see inside the mall, I head off to the street. I came across another used book store, which is as big as a Chapters, and naturally I went in and treasure hurt old books. Saw several interesting titles, but I have to restiate myself from buying any books or my luggage will be overweight. After got kicked out from the store when they are closed, I had dinner at the bar and grill at street corner. Food here in Saskatoon is cheap, about cost 20-30% less than Vancouver. Tomorrow I will be flying back to Vancouver, and definitely I won’t miss this boring town. Pat had asked me to take some pictures, too bad that I didn’t bring my camera with me. Even if I had my camera, there is nothing much worthy seeing in Saskatoon anyways.

Saskatoon day two

Got to work really early this morning, arrived in the office at 8:30a.m. That’s the time people go to work in Saskatoon. It has been a long day, full day of work, not as relax as in Burnaby. Close to the end of the day, Burnaby had a power failure and our servers are affected, so have to go home early. After work I drove around in town to look for gift for Pat and dinner place. I had pretty much seen every major shopping area in the city. The road is Saskatoon is pretty wide and straight, kinda like when I first came to Mississauga. There is one major highway called the Circle Drive goes around the city. I wish Vancouver had such a nice road system. I just had dinner at some local bar and grill, nothing special on the food. I’m glad that I successfully bought the gift for Pat, I’m sure she would like it, and I better keep it secret for the time being. I also spent quite some time in a 2nd hand book store and bought two old books. What kind of person am who will go to old book store in a foreign town? Anyways, the night is as unproductive as usual, watched several episodes of Science of Starwars in the Discovery Channel. I really have to revise my Germany before heading back home this week. I missed home, and it’s quite boring here by myself.

Saskatoon

Today is the first day of my Saskatoon trip. It’s also the first I am away on a business trip. I don’t really know why I got sent to here in the first place. It’s nice to have white board discussion about the testbench implementation with some expertise here in Saskatoon, but does it worth half a thousand to fly me here for 4 days, probably not. I guess it is because I’m the only one care to suggest having a in person meeting for the whole verification team and only one willing to come over. It’s quite an experience for me too, can pretend that I’m someone important by having dinner on company’s expense while reading the HBR. It’s fun the first time, probably not so that much fun if I have to be away from home every so often.

Saskatoon is a very small town divided by a river. I can see the city limit before my plane touch down. Luckily I insist to get a car rental or I’ll be quite stuck if I need to call cab on everywhere I go. The office is located within the University of Saskatoon campus, kinda reminds me the campus of Waterloo. Both campus have uninteresting modern building with a ring road circling the university. I guess the new tech park in Waterloo North Campus is similar to where the office here, with nice office building cater for the needs of small hi-tech firms.

Today is quite busy, after I had touched down and had a quick and late lunch, I rush to the office before everyone go home. Luckily I caught the guy I come to have get into business right away for 2 hours. When we come out from the meeting room, almost everyone had gone home. Since I have to stay behind and check my emails, so I end up have to turn off the lights when I left. The hotel is pretty nice, located in downtown Saskatoon, which is only a few blocks big and a river apart from the university. Unfortunately my room only got a parking lot view instead of the river view. The St. Paul Cathedral is right next to the hotel, I’d like to pay a visit if I can get up early enough.

Since I’m kinda bored here, I treated myself a nice meal at the hotel restaurant. The good thing is that I had brought my laptop with me, so I can still be connected in the evening. Using an aging laptop is not as pleasant than my 3 monitors networked computers at home, but at least I could keep myself from being insane. The connection fee is kinda expensive, $10 a day, so I gota the most worth of it and use as much bandwidth as I can. I had bittorrent installed and start downloading stuff right away. I feel sorry for my tiny 10GB harddisk in the laptop. It’s getting late and time for me to go to bed, let’s see what kind of adventure (or boredom) I will have in day 2 of my trip.

made in korea

Thanks to a popular TV series, Dae Jang-geum, Korean culture is the most trendy topic in Hong Kong as well as the Chinese community in Vancouver. The show is about the first female royal physician in Korean history. I had only watched about 5 minutes of the show in total, and couldn’t understand why Pat and many of my friends are so addicted to this show. Luckily the show is finally finished, so no more bombardment from the media. Inspired by the glorified cooking of this show, me and Pat went to try out the Korean royal feast yesterday, . The meal has about twelve courses and took almost 2 hours to eat, kinda like fine dining served in Korean style. The food is pretty neat, very different from other Korean BBQ restaurants we are used to. Out of all the dishes, the ginseng tempura is most extra-ordinary. The dinner is not very expensive, comparable to having 3 courses in any bar and grill restaurants in downtown Vancouver. Highly recommended.

identity

Often, Pat complains about losing her identity when going out with my friends, she is always treated as the girlfriend of Horace instead of an independent individual. Finally it’s my turn of having the identity of Pat’s boyfriend. Today is the wedding of Schola, a church friend of both me and Pat. The wedding ceremony is marvelous, one of the best I have attended. In addition to the boring Fr. Chu of CMCC, they have a guest priest, Fr. Chau, from HK. His homily is so good that kept me awake by fusing Chinese culture nicely with the gospel. He even made a chinese poem using the name of the newly wedded couple. In tonight’s banquet, I thought we will assigned to sit with the church people. It turn out we sit with the Maryknoll table. Pat is so happy that she can hang out with fellow Maryknoll sisters and can introduce me as her boyfriend. There were dancing in the banquet, unfortunately me and Pat are haven’t learn the steps of ball room style music played before it turned into clubbing style. After the banquet, we went to bubble tea with the Maryknoll group and two LSC old boys who are friends to the group. We had some good time, and surprisingly I met Verona there. Oh, by the way one of the old boys is a handsome dentist happens to be single.

move on

Tonight I am having farewell party with a friend leaving Vancouver for good, then the big group went to watch Starwars together. The line up is pretty long, even though we went almost 1.5 hours early, the seats are just so-and-so. In the gathering, I had met some old friends who had left the company. They talked about their career plans and I found I couldn’t join the conversation. I simply have nothing to say about my career, I know the job at PMC leads no where, and I don’t feel like talking about the plan after I graduate, since I still haven’t got my degree yet. Talk about something that vague in the future even makes me think I am just BSing. I am glad that my friends are able to move on to their next stage of life, but what about myself? Anyways, enough whining for the day, now switch the topic to something more positive.

I read this anecdote from HBR, which is quite inspiring and I planned to use it in the Toastmaster meeting. In WWII, a statistician Abraham Wald was appointed by the US air force to improve the survivability of the warplanes. From the data the air force had gathered, they found that the some parts of the planes get hits much more often. So the military naturally concluded they should reinforce those parts. However Wald come up with an opposite conclusion from the data, he figured that the part that hit least should be reinforced. His reasoning is that the data is biased, only planes had survived are included in the statistic. If a critical part is hit, the plane is already crashed and it won’t show up in the data. Therefore reinforce those heavily damage parts won’t give any improvement in survivability, as the pilots can still make it back to the base. Selective bias when reading statistics can be very misleading and give us a false sense of security.

chess

Since I have started playing chess, I think my skill had improved a lot over the past year. Although I still cannot beat Andrew, the grand master who had left PMC, I can slaughter Gordon most of the time if I don’t overlook some obvious blunders. What makes me different from a novice player is I no longer eager to exchange pieces, unless the exchange gives me a positional advantage. I learn how to setup traps and avoid the traps setup by the opponent. One thing I would like to improve is the ability to trade equal material with pieces of different values. My end game is still quite weak, many times I gave away my advantage by pushing the pawns too far, without giving them enough support from the king. The use of chess clock makes both Gordon and me play like a pro. He no longer do touch moves, he can even get me sometimes if I don’t pay good attention on the implication of his moves. There is no magic bullet in playing chess, study hard on the tactics, carefully plan your strategy and master mind your opponent is the only way to victory.