Monday, November 28, 2005

Saturday Night Outing

It was the co-op's birthday on Sunday so a whole bunch of us from work went out to celebrate (it was actually the new grad's birthday on Saturday, so it was a dual-birthday celebration!). Went to dinner at Il Bordello, a surprisingly-good Italian restaurant near Wapping, and enjoyed a nice pizza with some good wine. Then we quickly headed off to Lab in Soho. After a few cocktails we went to yet another birthday party at Kabaret's Prophecy.

When we got to the club, they had already reserved a table and everything so we just sat around drinking. It was a member's only club, so the crowd is a bit more exclusive. After a few rounds, this group of people came in with cameras and this girl started posing for the cameraman. A few of us were thinking, "Wow, are they doing a porn cover shoot here or something?"

The girl wasn't bad looking, but just her poses and the way she presented herself was quite provocative. It turned out they were movie actresses from California filming in London (and apparently she was on the O.C. also...), and she was in London filming It's A Boy Girl Thing. I suppose she must've been really drunk, because she wrote her phone number down and stuffed it in my hand when I was leaving..

Ah well, not that I'd call but it's a nice ego-boost nevertheless! :D

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Unable to drive!? Me??

I went for my first driving lesson here tonight. Yes, I've been driving since I legally could back in Canada(and that's a long time ago). Thus, you must all be wondering why I'm learning to drive, let along taking lessons. To start off with, they all drive on the wrong side of the road (instead of the "right" side, hehe) here. Oh, and it seems that they have not evolved too much in automotive technologies in this country, so to have automatic transmission here is a luxury. I'm learning how to drive manual...

What I discovered tonight, is that after a year hiatus from driving, I can no longer maneuver a car. I had problems with just keeping the car straight and driving at a decent speed. Adding to that is a) night time b) manual gear box c) wrong side of the road. The result? Car stalling every turn, over-steering, almost hitting posts/cars parked on the street... it was a disaster!

Maybe my ambition to get my license by the end of the year is not as easy to achieve as I had originally thought.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Broker Dinners

Just making note of another broker dinner last night.. because as much as I go out with them for dinners or other events, I will not let myself forget that this is still really cool. Guess sometimes people lose sight after being desensitized to the glam, and once in a while I need to ground myself.

We went to Nobu (the new one, not the one near Park Lane) for some really exotic food and lots of sake. Actually, almost my entire department went this time. Half way through dinner, this new graduate throw an entire glass of wine over me... that was *NOT* cool. Oh well, I tried my best to stay calm and even laugh a little. Kept reminding myself that accidents do happen.. so does death and merciless beatings :)

Today was another write-off at work as I tried to stay awake..

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Train Thoughts

I was taking the train home after work and saw this sign..

Now that's one witty (and cheeky) sign! Sorta slaps you in the face if you were actually staring at somebody on the train.. and then avoiding eye contact whenever they look at you. Ah, we've all been there.

So have I ever really walked up and said something? No, and I think I'm a bit too chicken to do something like that. Maybe it's time to change that attitude?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fate?! Or just coincidence?

I am a believer of fate. I think everything happens for a reason, and with that reason I think life is already planned out in front of me. Free will is a lie - my decision to act on my free will was pre-determined. If I attempt to change my life by acting erratically, sorry, but that was also planned. There's no escape in my little philosophy.

Today was the first Saturday where I didn't commit myself to any social activities, so I decided to go for a walk and ended up at Ikea. (fine, it wasn't a walk, and I actually spent money to take the train to go there..) Funny thing is, I saw this couple waiting for the tram. We boarded the tram at the same time and I got off at the station where Ikea was..

On my way back, as I was getting off the tram, I saw them again getting off at the same time. This is not the first time I've had encounters like this... I wonder if it's fate, that I'm meant to see these people more than once.. or is this just a coincidence?

You must think I'm drunk, but I can assure you that my mind is as sound as ever.. I may be crazy, but aren't we all?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Breakfast Meetings

As part of the graduate programme, a few of us were invited to a breakfast meeting this morning. Actually it wasn't a meeting, more of a breakfast discussion panel. The topic was "What does it take to build a successful career in this firm?", and we had one hour with a few members of senior management to discuss with.

First rule of breakfast meetings: Do not think that you will actually get to eat. I made the mistake that I was going to be fed properly. Sure, there was a lot of food on the table. In fact, I filled my plate with fruit and crossiants and pain au chocolat and sandwiches. Did I end up eating any of that? Perhaps two pieces of fruit and half a crossiant. For the entire hour, I was expected to jump in and contribute to the discussion at any time. Having food in your mouth when you were asked to give an opinion is *not* cool. Not to mention all the crunching noises really distracts the room. To supplement that first rule, take plenty of drinks back to the table. You'll end up drinking a lot more than eating, trust me.

Secondly, come up with meaningful questions PRIOR to the meeting. You want to seem intelligent, but not a know-it-all or worse, a smart ass. There is a very fine line between those, and you don't want to even get close to the line. Don't just come up with generic questions either, because those senior directors have seen it all - they were juniors once too.

Just one more thing.. network, network, network. This is an opportunity to find out what everybody else does in your company. Okay, so the guy sitting next to you is not a director and can't get you promoted - he may very well be the person who will bring you onboard when he gets a juicy offer from another firm. Besides, better to have one more friend than one more enemy, right?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Educating Today's Youth

There was a small gathering at Sally's place last night (which turned out to be not so small after all!), complete with an outdoor BBQ and indoor hotpot. The most interesting part of the night was chatting with a few teenagers.. (as a side note, I cannot believe I have now left the realm of being a teenager myself and referring to somebody else as teenager)

Naturally, our topics of interest surrounded pranks to be played in school, gambling in soccer matches, online poker, and girls. We talked about betting strategies in poker, girls in movies and who's hot/not these days. Also gave them a few pointers in online betting and how to calculate simple odds, and spotting arbitrage opportunities. That turned them from "math and stats are so boring" to "hey maybe I'll pay attention in class". Isn't this what education is all about?! No, I don't corrupt people... ;)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The red cups are here!

Today I stepped into the Starbucks near work as part of my morning routine, and found that they've already switched to using the red cups... what? Is it Christmas already!? Halloween just passed literally two days ago and now they are already starting to fill our minds with Christmas and presents and sale and shopping.. mmm.. Which reminds me that I need to now save up for all that Christmas spending.

Come to think of it, I don't remember when I started drinking coffee (let alone from Starbucks). I still recall how I absolutely disliked the taste back in high school, and now I bear with it because of its "remedial power". Not to say that it solves the world's problems, but certainly provides a quick fix for my constant lack of sleep. I won't say that I cannot live without it, but it definitely makes lasting through 13-hour days a LOT easier!

Jump Board

Towards the end of the day, a colleague of mine asked if I had some free time after work for a quick drink. After evaluating my options between doing nothing at home or going out for some social time, I quickly agreed to meet him at the pub just around the corner from work.

Turns out that this colleague wanted some career advice. He actually works in the "backoffice", sort of a support staff but very vital to the business. Being as junior as I am, there is not much pull or advantage that I could offer to him. Instead, I gave him honest advice and what I have seen in the past year that I've worked at this firm.

This is not the first person I've seen trying to jump from being in the "backoffice" to a more business-oriented role. Either that, or they just jump from firm to firm every so often. The mean turnover rate in that department is somewhere between six to nine months. Is it that bad to work in that team, or do people just use that as a jump board to get better (paying) jobs?