Thursday, September 30, 2004


Today the training classes were cancelled, only to be replaced with a full day of "Senior Management Presentations". This is when the entire management team gives various talks throughout the day to all of us graduates. The most interesting speech was given by the CEO of the company. He had so much passion for what he does, and that really sparked the motivation in me.

I remember leaving Canada, thinking to myself, "I'm going to be the best talent in this industry, and my line manager will not regret hiring me!" Pretty ambitious, weren't I? Somehow it fizzled quickly and I slipped in the mode that I'll do what it takes to get by. What had happened to me? Where did my motivation go?

That was until today. After hearing the CEO's speech, I felt that I cannot just "get by" and answer to my own criticisms. Surely I made a lot of promises to loved ones that I will try to be happy while here, but as many of you can see it really didn't happen. I'm still the miserable and depressed self, only to be worsened by the situation. I am going to do this for *MYSELF*. If this is what it takes to be the best, then bring it on!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I spent the whole day staring at the screens, trying to decipher the meanings of all the various colours and numbers. Today I found myself dozing off at the most inappropriate moments (for example, on the phone with a customer). Somehow I just blank out, and the next time I remember is waking up to my customer talking to me on the phone. What happened to my concentration span?!

Supposedly I was to have today "off" as it is our "revising day", but I was told to go into work instead. Ugh. Oh well, I wouldn't have been revising the material at home anyway, so might as well make myself productive.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Unwanted attention

I hate being misunderstood. Especially at this time in my life. Blah. Why can't people think past a certain misconception and see the truth behind it?

A seeminingly good night was ruined just because of that. I hate that. The only good thing was I met more Canadians tonight! Yay!

Party it up!

Last night I went to a social function hosted by the HR department in the company. It was at the London Dungeons, which is a bit of a weird place to start off with. It is basically a tourist attraction, sort of like Screamers in Toronto during Halloween. They have various figurines that depicts certain scenes of horror, and some "themed rooms". In any case, the only thing going for the place was that it was dark and "club-like". We were served food (which I was quite accustomed to, since it resembled what I used to eat as a student), and alcohol (which I was also accustomed to because it was all I could afford as a student). It was a good night meeting people, because it was the first time the entire graduate class got together.

In fact, I met this girl working in HR, and she's from Canada! How much fun is that? We spent the night talking about things we miss about the land of Tim Horton's. I also met this other associate who was also from Toronto. Seems like the brain drain from Canada is not only direct at the USA, but also other parts of the world..

Given that I had to work early this morning, I left the party quite early on. I heard some crazy things went down after the "official" part of the party ended, but it's probably all hearsay and I cannot confirm or deny anything that I didn't see with my own eyes. Ahh the gossips in the morning was classic - much like the gossips after a company Christmas party. (and those of you who know my theory on Christmas party would know.. and if you don't, check my previous blogs about Christmas parties).

Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Bit of Funny Reading

eBay Auction

Now that's some quality reading. I especially loved his amendment on why he chose the category to put this item in, and "So she had this friend, who I will call "Laura", because that was her name, who was very odd."


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Sarcasm or conceited?

I'm sitting in class right now, and I just heard the funniest dialogue between two classmates when the instructor was explaining the details of a particular structure, namely, a revolving line of credit.

Instructor : A revolving line of credit works much like a regular line of credit with a few...
Classmate 1 : Uh, excuse me, but what is a line of credit?
Classmate 2 : Yeah, what's a bank? Why are we here?

Okay, now that I wrote it out I realized that it was a "You had to be there" moment. Hope you found that as funny as I did (I couldn't stop laughing). So was classmate 2 being sarcastic or just plain conceited?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Learning to learn, again

I was handed a 23 page report to read for tomorrow's lesson, plus an engineering book to keep me company until next Monday. So right now I'm going through the report, highlighting like crazy and using up my only highlighter at home. Why am I still using up stationary after leaving school? Thank goodness I brought some over from Canada.

Now that I have been in my training programme for a few weeks, the groove and routine is coming back to me. I can now spent a considerable amount of time sitting in class, and pay attention to the lecturer. I vow to not complain about the instructors I had while in university, because compared to corporate trainers, they were a godsend. No, seriously. I never imagined I would say this, but it is true that professors at my university can actually teach! (despite all my groaning throughout my education)

My flat is really messy, and I have no time to clean it up. I really should start picking up after myself. Not that anybody else other than me will ever walk through that door, but coming home after a full 14-hour work day to a messy room just plain sucks.

Back to the report..

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Cooking at Home

It was raining sporadically today so it wasn't much fun walking around the West End. I had plans to buy a few hangers (because my wardrobe doesn't have any) but I couldn't find any that is both affordable and worth the money I pay for. I might end up going back to Ikea (so another hour and a half commute both ways) to get hangers. Ended up grocery shopping in Chinatown, and invited one of my classmates over for dinner.

Haven't really done much cooking at home since I have arrived, so I was a little bit on the clumsy side of things. Hopefully I didn't make a fool of myself tonight! I really do enjoy cooking though - just need a bit more discipline to force myself to eat more at home, and less outside. Plus it's more healthy for me anyway!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Value of Money

Last night was definitely one of the more active nights I've had in London. Started with a few drinks after the training programme (who can survive a full day of analysing a company's balance sheet and remain sane is beyond me) at a nearby bar. A few is an understatement. We averaged two pints every half hour, and we were there from 5pm to 8pm before heading off to dinner.

We arrived at a Turkish restaurant just south of the river near Southwark, by a classmate's recommendation. I don't even know what Turkish food is! Apparently it is quite similar to Greek (I guess they have the same climate and are relatively close to each other), and the favourite is lamb and chicken dishes. A few of us started with some Yeni Raki, affectionately known as "Lion's Milk", a traditional Turkish drink. It tasted a lot like Sambuca, with a slightly harder edge to it. Definitely not for the faint hearted! I ordered a Lamb Moussaka, which was done to perfection. A few of the starters were great also, gratitude to my Turkish classmate. The dinner ended with a nice cup of Turkish coffee. It was served in a cup smaller than an espresso cup, and the edge is a bit more pleasant. It does leave a strange after-taste in my mouth which I was not too fond of.

Towards the end of dinner, we realized that it was raining outside and therefore it limits the locale of our next event. We stopped by another bar to wait for the rain to slow a bit. Ended up ordering two full bottles of Absolut and getting a good deal on it, and drinking it all within two hours. A few other blokes showed up from the other class, and we ended up going to another club after the rained stopped. Another two hours and several rounds of drinks (and some craziness that's rated R), a handful of people left while a few ventured onto an all-night club for more craziness.

The total damage of the night? Let's just say I didn't pay for much more than my dinner. The places we visited tonight must have made a fortune from us. I start to wonder what that money bought me? Eight hours of temporary happiness and escape from my everyday problematic life? Not to mention that my generous friends paid for a lot of the entertainment, and I didn't dip into my wallet for those. My classmates spent more than I did, more frivolously, and without remorse. Does the value of money degrade itself when you own a large sum of it? I hope I never become like that if I ever make that much.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Mind is numb

I must have been out of school for *far* too long. Four months without rigourous thinking results in one numb-minded person at the end of a two-hour accounting test. It is not that it was difficult, just crunching numbers made my head spin. I am glad that I did not choose accounting to be a profession. No offense to those who did, it is just not for me. Glad it's over though - tomorrow we start another module. Hopefully it will be more interesting and engaging.

Went to the pub because the company was apparently paying for drinks. A couple of pitchers, a few boat races, and a lot of trash talking later I was ready to leave. Didn't realize I already spent three hours drinking with my classmates. Ah well.. it's good to get out once in a while.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Follow up on hockey

Congrautlations to Team Canada for winning the World Cup of Hockey 2004! Too bad I didn't get to watch the game, but I'm sure they played fantastic. The score being three to two, and the fact that each team only had ONE powerplay each leads me to believe that the game was highly skilled and less of the "NHL-type bullying" of bigger players.

Now, back to preparing for my morning presentation..

A Hockey Fan in Far Away Land

The puck drops in 5 minutes, and I am no where near a TV. In fact, I am preparing for my morning presentation tomorrow at the moment. It's a sad, sad day indeed.

This is when I am regretting the fact I chose to live closer to work than closer to the city. A bunch of interns are heading out to a bar tonight to watch the game, but I do have to be up at 6am tomorrow.. ugh. If only I were still in school - then I wouldn't be here blogging this.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Cardiff Re-visited

It had to be one of the more spontaneous decisions I have made since arriving here, but on Friday night a classmate from my training class asked me to go away on a weekend break with her. Without thinking too much, I agreed on visiting Cardiff with her. It was a city that I once visited when I did my internship term, but it was in the middle of winter. I heard Wales is quite nice during the summer months, so I decided to go see for myself.

Leaving bright and early on Saturday morning, we took a train into Cardiff Central. I quickly remembered the directions to the hostel I stayed at the last time, and booked us beds in a communal room. The first tourist sighting was the Cardiff Castle, and after going through the tour a second time around, now I have a much better appreciation for the artifacts left from centuries ago. (it is also because since then, I have visited many other castles/palaces and learnt how to appreciate them more)

After strolling through the Queen Street Arcade (shopping mall to us North Americans), we took a local bus to Cardiff Bay - the one tourist area I did not visit last time due to time constraints. There actually wasn't too much to see: Water, some buildings, some boats. Felt like I was back in Toronto near Habourfront. The atmosphere was nice though. We ended up sitting in a coffee shop right by the bay, sipping cappuccino and chatting away.. well, also being inside REALLY helps to stay away from the sporadic rain fall every 15 minutes. Dinner at a small local pub was a nice touch, and the rest of the night was drinking and talking about everything under the sun..

Sunday morning was a downer because it rained rather heavily throughout the city. Apparently I was snoring really loud (my Europe trip friends would DEFINITELY attest to that), and my classmate only got a few hours of sleep. SORRY! If there was anything I could have done to stop it I would, but it's not like I can control it. The whole day was just a combination of getting soaked, having a traditional Welsh breakfast (now I have had all three: Englsh, Welsh, and Scottish), catching the train back to London, and chilling at Borders for the remainder of the afternoon.

Found this rather interesting book:

Inside the book, they mentioned something I debated with a few people on numerous occasions.

State-dependent learning.. mmm.. does it really work?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Morning Presentations

So every so often (every five business days) I have to make a brief presentation in the morning with a few other colleagues, regarding the current state of the global economy. On top of that, we need to come up with ideas how the firm can take advantages of certain situations. Today was our turn again. After a bad start from last week (I won't go into detail, let's just say, I made a lot of other presenters look good), I was determined to ace this one.

Does anybody remember Murphy's Law? "What can go wrong, will go wrong?"

One of the 'comments' we received last week was that we were not thorough enough. "Fine, " I said, "this time I will make sure I dive into every detail, into every business that the firm deals with, and be exhaustive about all my ideas." I found out today that overdoing the 'suggestion' is just as bad as not following them. Our presentation ran 20 minutes too long, bored half (read: most) the room to tears, and the evaluator said, "First of all, that was way too long. I wanted to yawn but to be respectful I didn't." Oh that sounded great. So even though we had concrete material, thorough analysis of each situation, it wasn't good enough.

Not only that, but I caught a few spelling mistakes in the slides during the presentation as I flipped the powerpoint slides. Hopefully nobody saw them..

Blah. I'm going to bed soon. Today was a bad day.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Another Week, Another Training Session

I started on the core of my training last Friday - so it proved to be a bit more involved and now I'm happy with what I'm learning. I never imagined myself to say that I *enjoy* the challenge, but I indeed do. Certainly better than re-learning how to multiply a few numbers together.

Spent the weekend shopping for my new flat - yes, I have finally decided to take the one further from work for a bit more space, and cheaper rent. Not that much cheaper, but the landlord was nice enough to furnish the place for me! So (a) I don't have to shell out the cash for furniture and (b) I don't have to worry about moving them if I ever decide to move out. I'll post some pictures when I get all settled.

The downside is that I will have limited internet access and telephone contact for a while. My phone line is not installed until the end of the month (talk about efficiency here, sheesh), and I don't even want to get started with internet. I'm posting this from my mobile phone so it is getting quite expensive. I'll get back to my blogging once I get some regular access to the net..

Friday, September 03, 2004

Insanity by Numbers

Spent the last two days doing financial mathematics at the training centre. Now I must clarify one point - having an engineering degree does not mean financial math is easy. Sure, it's nothing but multiplying and dividing numbers, and simple statistics. (even if you look at a financial calculator, they often lack the scientific functions like sine or cosine!) The most difficult concept I had to face was only the limiting case of a binomial distribution (which happens to be a normal distribution). The challenging part, is understanding the concept behind the math and bare with the amount of number fudging that they introduce.

I don't pretend to be like Adrian, but I require a little more convincing than "We divide by n-1 because dividing by n makes the number seem a bit too small." It just does not quite sway me to say "Oh okay, I get it".

On the other hand, the first lesson in Rates Trading starts tomorrow. Hopefully it will be more uplifting than the past week..