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Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007

A Happy New Year!

I see fireworks in the air from my place over Sky Tower and the ships in the port are blowing their horns. Apart from that, it's a pretty quiet one. I managed to eat toshi-koshi soba in time, and I'm ready to face yet another (hopefully) challenging year!

The last day of 2006

I cannot believe it's already the end of 2006. There were lots of memorable moments... Got a paper published on Nature, applying for jobs, moving out of NIH and DC and moving to New Zealand. Saying good-byes to friends in the US. Seeing my friends and colleagues back in Australia first time in 5 years. Seeing my family for the first time in 5 years. On this very last day of 2006, I spent my time in the lab feeding our zebrafish... Yeah, it's my turn to do the weekend feeds again. It's okay, no big deal. I managed to try a new route to get home suggested by my boss; go through the Auckland Domain but instead of coming out to Parnell Road, went through to Lower Domain Drive then onto Stanley Road. It's a nice stroll, takes about 25 minutes to get home. Anyway. I wonder what 2007 holds for me. Year 2006 was a good one for me, and hopefully 2007 will also be the same. Now, I'd better go make that Toshi-koshi soba...

Friday, December 29, 2006

SkyTV

Some channels on my SkyTV weren't working too well for the last month or two. CNN, Prime and Disney Channel were choppy and showing mosaic patterns on screen. I've finally contacted Sky to get it fixed. After contacting Sky though, the problem were gone for a day and I was thinking of that Murphy's Law; when you call a repairman the problem corrects itself. But on the repair day the problem came back so it was okay (funny way of saying this but). The fellow who came around to fix it was the guy who installed it for me. He checked up the signal strength and quality, and they were both okay... So he just swapped out the decoder and the problems are gone and just like that. Meanwhile England got routed in 3 days and Wild Oats XI took the line honour back to back. Good stuff.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day Test

And of course another sports event to watch on a Boxing Day is the Boxing Day test. I really missed watching cricket in the US. I thought I could watch it once I got back to this side of hemisphere... Boy was I wrong. Australians should consider themselves lucky since it would be on the free to air TV. Here in NZ, I would have to get a sports package with Sky, which I haven't got yet. I've been tossing up whether to get one or not, and I haven't. Too late now, I just have to rely on the net for the updates.

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

It's Boxing Day 2006, and yet another round of Sydney-Hobart race is on. I wanted to keep up with it but Sky isn't showing any of this stuff... I have to rely on the web and the net. I've noticed that there is a tracking service using the Google Earth... For some reason it's not working too well, but at least I can tell who is in front. Yay for the Net.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Putting my bike back together

I have put off putting my bike back together for some time. It's Christmas Day, nothing much on telly to watch, nothing better to do, didn't want to go to work, so I decided to have a crack at it before my enthusiasm withered away. I greased up the ball bearings on the steering column, put the handle bar back on, put wheels back on (with great difficulties), put the seat back on and put a pedal back on then... Something is not quite right... Front brake is not working too well. I noticed that one of brake pad is gone. Sure, no problem, just have to get a new one. Then tried to shift the front to the outer cog, then the chain comes off. Strange, I thought. Then I looked down to find in my horror that the outer most gear is bent! No wonder the chain was slipping off from it. I'll definitely have to get this bike in a shop for an overhaul/repairs... I guess it's about time for that too, since I bought it 5 years ago and haven't sent in even once for a once over... Bugger.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thank god for...

The Net. I've been too busy feeding fish and doing stuff, I totally forgot that it's Christmas... I've just sent off bunch of e-cards. I feel guilty sending these but hey I guess they are better than nothing...

It's that time of the year again.

Time to track down the santa courtesy of NORAD.

Fixed

Looks like blogger template was causing the problem of my blog archives not being available... I've just updated it, and it seems to be working.

What the...?

For some reason, the links to blog entry archives are broken. WTF? It became non-functional after this thing went to the "new" version... Pretty darn annoying.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Waitomo and Rotorua tour

We went down on a day tour to Waitomo glow worm cave and Rotorua by Scenic Tours NZ today. It was... Well... Very unfortunate that it rained all day long. On top of that... The pick-up time was at 6:45AM. It's from Kingsgate Hotel in Parnell, which is just behind my apartment. I'm just not a morning person, and I struggle to wake up at that sort of time. Anyway. We managed to wake up early enough so that I can have shower and get ready, walked around the corner to get to the hotel, waited for about 10 minutes or so then we got picked up to go downtown. There we got on board a double decker for the tour. They served a morning tea on board then the first stop at the Waitomo cave. Pretty interesting it was, a limestone cave formed over eons. Caves were formed by dissolving calcium deposits in the limestone. It has two levels, a relatively dry upper level that has some large areas; the limestone pillars formation taking 600 years or so per inch. It absorbs sound because it's porous. The Japanese group behind us was singing "Cherry blossom" to see that sound do not reverberate in the cave. Then we went downstairs for a little boat ride to see the glow worms. Glow worms extend their "fishing line" to fish small insects that wandered in the caves. The insects mistake the light from worms as sunlight shining through the cave and get hooked by the worm. There were literally thousands of these little things on the cave ceiling. Quite spectacular. Pity we weren't allowed to take pictures. Anyway. After this ride, we went to the Agrodome to watch farming activities. On the way they served a lunch on board airplane style. My goodness it was difficult to eat as the bus went through twists and turns. Once we got to the Agrodome, we got on the little tractor to see little furries (and not so little as well). We saw ostriches, ducks, bulls, cows, stags, does and of course sheep. There were 70 million sheep in NZ but now it numbers (only) 40 million, still a lot more than humans inhabiting the islands. We saw the shearing, and an average shearer would shear 400 sheep a 9-hour day... They get paid about a buck 25 a sheep. Next stop was at the Rainbow Springs Nature Park. We went there to see the kiwis. Unfortunately for us the kiwis were taking a nap and we didn't get to see them, and we had to settle for watching other things. Bummer. We headed to Rotorua after this... Rotorua is located in a caldera formation with the diameter of 25 km and only 4 km of crust over the Earth's magma. We went to the lake there, but thanks to the rotten weather, we could barely see anything... We toured Te Puia to learn a thing or two about Maori and also to see geothermal activities. We saw mud pool and a geyser... And some Maori architectures. By the time we went through the area, we were chilled to the bone. The bus ride didn't help since they had the AC on... It took us about 2.5 hrs to get back to Auckland. I enjoyed the day out there, but I'm sure things would've been a lot better if the weather was better.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Waitakere and Wineries Tour

We went out to a Waitakere and Wineries tour by Auckland Wine Trail Tours today. We took the waterfall and wineries tour. First up, we went to Waitakere in the morning. Very nice. Took a look around in that region. Went to a beach with lots of iron in the sand. My father was telling me about this one; he was telling me that NZ Steel was utilizing this material as a starting point for their steel mill operation. Followed by visiting this pretty waterfall. I've been told that they filmed Xena and Power Rangers around here... Then we had a lunch at a Carriages Cafe in Kumeu. After the lunch, we went through three wineries; Selaks, Matua Valley and West Brook. I was a little worried that I might get intoxicated; so I paced myself, and I think I succeeded in doing so if I may say so myself. I just stuck to checking out the smell/nose followed by the palate but made sure to put just enough wine in the mouth to swirl around my tongue and spat out whenever possible. Apparently the best NZ wine are Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs but I don't really care for white wine... Though I picked up a few for keeping. I love dessert wine however, and I picked up a couple from the round in the afternoon (though I don't know if I'll ever find something as nice as tokay). On the way home, we picked up some strawberries from a local vendor. It was a good day.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World

We went down to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World today. It's an aquarium that was built at the site of former sewer. We caught a bus from opposite 8 Quay Street to get there. We saw some stingrays (and their feeding session), shark/fish tank, seahorses and a snowcat ride. It took us just about an hour to get through the exhibit then we walked all the way home... Another an hour or so. Then I conked out.

TestingTesting

War memorial museum

We went down to the War memorial museum down in the Auckland Domain. We went there after a heavy lunch at The Fishmonger. First of all it was not free unlike Smithonian... The ground floor exhibit I'm sure was of interest to some people but not for me. First and second floors were more interesting. The second floor was all war material from all wars New Zealand has been involved in. Zero and Spitfire were star exhibits. The first floor was all about life in New Zealand. Plants and animal exhibits were of interest here for me. After we were done at the museum, we went to Newmarket to get some stuff we need and headed home. I was exhausted!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bike pump

I had a good bike pump when I was in the US. I left it with a friend of mine when I left that country, and so I had to get one here. I went down to Bike Barn in Newmarket three times over the weekend; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And every time I went there, it was closed. I went down there today while waiting for my RNA probe synthesis, and finally(!) bought one... Forty bucks down the drain, but now I can put my bike together...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pizza

I just can't get it right... For some reason, my pizza dough isn't rising as much as it should. I followed a recipe, the dough rises fair bit, but it isn't doing so as much as I expect it to be. I wonder why... Must be something about here since the same recipe worked perfectly when I was in the US...

Pioneer DV-393-s

I sent a lot (and I mean a lot) of DVDs from the US... Obviously I wanted to watch these DVDs, and the problem for me was the region coding. So. I was looking for a DVD player that can play region 1 DVDs. Finally I found one; Pioneer DV-393-s. I bought one today, and yeah, it plays the region 1 DVDs. Great!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

French Market

I've heard that there is a French Market held every Saturday somewhere nearby... I found the info on the web. I've been meaning to go for the last few weeks but for one reason or another, I never got to do this... Until today. I managed to wake up early enough to have shower and a cup of tea then got changed and headed down to this market. It was small but nice. I managed to get a loaf of crusty french bread, some Kalamata olives, bunch of fresh basil and a dozen of size 8 eggs. I thought of getting some cheese to go with it but I refrained from doing that. When I came home, it was just about the right time for a lunch so I made slices of toast out of the french bread, as well as an omelette using the eggs I just bought and gave a go at that spiced tomato juice to go with it. It went down pretty well, and was very satisfying. I was ready for more shopping... This time, up in Newmarket.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sushi Train

Sushi Train opened down in Viaduct 3 weeks ago. I've been to the one in Adelaide, and I liked it. So... I had to give it a go. I've waited until things are sorted out (for myself) and finally I got to go there tonight. It was pretty good. The place was pretty empty, probably because it was a little early for dinner but too late for lunch. I think that's going to change though. The one back home was always packed. This place just has to get a rep for good sushi at a reasonable price. Anyway. I didn't stuff myself, just ate enough to feel good for myself. I'd better watch my weight after weighing myself the first time in a long time last night... Need to lose some weight.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finally

Finally (most of) my stuff is here. I'm just glad it's (almost) over. I just have to pick up one more thing; my bike. It was sent to QTC for treatment, and I'll have to find out if it's done or not. My boss has offered to drive me down there to get it. I guess I'll get a lift off from him (when he's not too busy).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pissed as

Well. My stuff still hasn't been delivered. Yeah. It was meant to have been delivered on last Friday. I made a mistake and papers necessary for the release of cargo from the holding facility didn't get to the courier on time. Ok. My mistake. We talked and the fella was meant to have gone down to Onehunga this arvo to pick it up. Well. The fella just called and told me that he can't make it in time. Instead he said he could go down there 7AM tomorrow... And I have a meeting starting at 9AM. I'll have to talk to the fella around 7PM to see if he can deliver the cargo before 8:30AM tomorrow morning when I have to leave home. I'm so mad...

Friday, November 24, 2006

It's just not my week...

I went down to Tappers Transport again to pay MAF inspection fee, as well as the storage fee. All the way down to Onehunga. Done. Then I went back to the lab and was doing some work in the lab. I started late, and so I was running late... I couldn't get to the centrifuge; the door was locked after hours. I guess I'd have to do spinning tomorrow. Then I found out that a gift I bought wasn't delivered on time. It was important, so I ordered some time back, but thanks to Thanksgiving season, it got delayed. Just great...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It just wasn't my day today.

Well. The title says it all. Today was the MAF inspection day. I went down to Tappers Transport Down in Onehunga (see inset)







It took me about 40 minutes on the bus from Khyber Pass Road to get there... I managed to get there on time, and then the inspection began. Almost everything were okay except for my bike, a pair of New Balances and a pair of boots. I just didn't see consistency there. I can see why the New Balances failed; shit all over the place. I didn't realize that I didn't clean them when I packed them. Sure. No prob. Then the boots. I didn't see any dirt on it. It had a couple of small grits in the grooves of the soles. They also examined my tools, and pulled out a pair of REALLY dirty leather gloves from my toolbox, and didn't even lift an eyebrow... WTF? Well anyway... Then the bike. Slight mud on the side of tires, as well as some on the frame. All three items were sent to a cleaning station. Wonderful. I will have to organize something to pick them up once they pass through. Looks like I'll get to do a driving first time in like 7 years. Better start looking for some rental cars and start practicing. Then the biggest problem of the day surfaced... I needed to pay the inspectors by cash or check. I thought I can use the EFTPOS facility at the holding facility. No. Cash or check only. I only had about 30 bucks on me at the time... So, the cargo ended up not released, I'll have to go back there early tomorrow morning just to pay the money... I had to call the courier to cancel and reschedule the pickup as well. Just great. After all this commotion, I took out the coke bottle from my bag, opened the cap and about to have a swig... Then it shot all over my face. Just wonderful. Truly. Things can't get any better than this. *snicker*

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The wok

I've finally found myself a wok. Yeah. I've been looking for this item for yongs since I got here in Auckland. There is no Chinatown here to procure such an item easily... Anyway. I found it in a Chinese grocer near Broadway in Newmarket. Great. It's on a small side, but I guess I can get a bigger one at a later time (if I can find it that is). I wanted to do some stir fry so I quickly did the seasoning then made my dinner... Great! Made stir fry ong choi as well as some other stir fry vegies with tofu. I expect to use this thing often =)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Big boys' toys

I went to see Big Boys' Toys at ASB Showgrounds today. I've seen/heard what sort of stuff is on display in US version. Big/fast cars, boats, motorbikes etc. Stuff you dream of but have little chance of actually owing them. I guess I was expecting a little too much in retrospect... I'm sorry, they charge too much for what little they had. Piss-weak really. Only couple of things were worth seeing; a Pagani Zonda C12 and a couple of Lamborghinis. The rest were so not worth my time. Whole heap of stuff was just tacky and bad taste. The place was full of yobbos and bogans. Lot of people sported either mullet or Beckham-nesque half-mohawk. I went there looking for class and found crass. Oh well.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remember remember (Part II)

It's the Remembrance Day. 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I remember a duty performed as The Bellringer at my old college on this date... Rang the bell for 11 times if I remember.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My stuff

Stuff I sent off from the US has finally made it to the port of Auckland. I had to send them off to Adelaide first because at the time I sent them I didn't have this job in my pocket (for sure). It took about 2 months for the stuff to get to Australia. My father managed to intercept the stuff before it went through Australian customs in Melbourne then it got re-directed from there to New Zealand. It took only about 5 days to get here, at the cost of about AUS$600... Not too bad. I just forwarded the bill of lading to the shipping company and waiting for them to deliver my stuff to my place. It's in the port just down the road from my place, probably less than a kilometer. Bugger I cannot go get them myself... Anyway. Finally I get to ride my bike (again)... Apparently I sent 4.28 cubic meters of stuff weighing at 480 kg. I carried all this stuff from my old apartment to the truck (almost) by myself (except for the last box which was too large to carry by myself). Jeez.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Remember remember (Part I)

5th of November. Gunpowder Treason and plot. I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot. Yeah, it's Guy Fawkes day. Yay. We can get fireworks here in NZ for this day. You can start buying the pyrotechnique a week or so before the date. I didn't bother stocking up however since I'm not too interested in launching the fireballs in the sky... I've done my share of that in Japan when I was younger, and I've done plenty of it. It's not quite the 5th yet, we still have about 2.5 hours before the date turns 5th, but I can hear fireworks being launched already. Anyway. There is a legislature movement here in NZ trying to ban the fireworks because resident tosspots have been rather liberal in firework use and generally being idiots, causing lots of damage. Fire fighters and emergency crews are the loudest complaintants, having to rescue idiots and victims from the fire damage. Part of me says go for it but other parts say just prosecute idiots harsher. I don't like to be told what not to do, especially by politicians I didn't choose, who are trying to cover their tracks in illegal spending in their last election campaign. You never know, I might change my mind in the future and do some fireworks myself...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I got a boyfriend!

Just kidding. And no, I'm not a poof. I don't go that way. Just got myself into doing this thing by looking at friends' blog entries. It's in Japanese, so for those who can't read... Sorry. For those who can, read on and you'll have to do this for yourself... Supposedly that's the rule.

And here it goes:

●好きなタイプを外見で答えよう!
あまり考えた事ないな。

●年上が好き?
別に...ただ、あんまり幼稚なのは勘弁して。

●財布はどんなのを使ってますか??
黒革のごく普通の男物。某海軍病院の酒保でゲット。

●携帯電話はどんなのを使ってますか??
モトローラ MPX220とLG KG245

●携帯ストラップは??
MPX220に白いストラップつけてます。
 
●手帳って持ってますか?
14年前に買ったファイロファックス...はもう持ち歩いていない。携帯がアウトルックと同期できるので、スケジュール管理はそれで。メモ帳はClairefontaineのwirebound。万年筆と相性がいいので気に入ってます。

●バッグはどんなのを使ってますか?
Timbuk2 messenger bag, medium size。

●[バッグ]の主な中身は??
筆記用具、携帯、弁当、MP3プレイヤー、日焼け止め、サングラス。時々ラップトップも。

●今はいてるパンツの色は?
そんなの知ってどうするよ。

●星に何を願う?
別に何も... 

●もしクレヨンに生まれ変わったら、何色がいい?
そんな事はあり得ないから何色でもいい。

●好きなスポーツは?
自分でするならスキーとマウンテンバイク。見るならクリケット、オーストラリアンルールスフットボール、ラグビー。
 
●好きな日
気兼ねせずに寝坊できる日。

●最後に観た映画は?
V for Vendetta、DVDで。 

●怒ってる時にどうする?
頭に血が上ってとんでもない事をわめく(事がある)
 
●夏か冬どっち?
絶対冬。スキーするんで。汗かきだし。

●最近泣いたのはいつ?なぜ?
昨日の晩。肩こりがひどくて頭痛がしてあまりの情けなさに涙が出た。

●ベットの下に何がある?
スペースがないので何もない... 

●昨夜何した?
肩こりと頭痛の痛みからじっと耐えていた。

●好きな車は?
スバルインプレザ。

●好きな花は?
真っ赤な薔薇。

So there you go.

Stiff shoulder

I couldn't sleep last night from a pain in my upper arms and shoulder... My shoulders were really stiff, and it got worse as the night went on. My upper arms got numb from pain... Probably from doing too much informatics. I'll take some time off from that today, methinks.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween

I thought people didn't do much on Halloween down under. When I was in Australia, we certainly didn't do anything about it. I thought it was more of an American thing. When I was in US, we did things; I turned up at the lab wearing costumes and going to costume parties and so on. When I got here in New Zealand, I was expecting a quiet night on a Halloween night... Well I was wrong. My door got knocked twice, really loudly. I ignored it of course since I didn't prepare for it; no candies for the kiddies. If it's kiddies, fine, but what if it's more "mature" (reads got old without maturing) people? There are so many fuckwits here in Auckland it's unbelievable. No way I would dare open the door on a night like this when these fuckwits think that it's just another excuse to cause damage. I'm expecting more damages though on the 5th of November...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bunt professional

I saw something interesting on my friend's blog entry and so I tried it out. According this website, I am a bunt professional. Whatever... And here's the full description. Briefly, apparently I was a doctor in my past life, and I'll be heading a committee for helping out NEET (not in employment, in education or training) in my next life. Well. What can I say. It's still pissing down outside, and no sign of easing. 'Tis depressing to think that I have to go out in this weather...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Got DSL

I was with Comcast cable internet when I was in US. For 50 bucks a month, it was all you can eat sort of deal. When I came here, I was appalled by the local Internet offering until... October 26th. I saw an ad for Xtra Unleashed. Yeah, it's also all you can eat for 50 bucks a month. I signed up immediately, and I have it now. So far so good. Finally I have the Internet at home...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Got SkyTV

There are only 4 free to air channels here in Auckland that I can see. Not only that... One channel is always black and white, and another channel I lose signal on a rainy day (which happens often as this place is always raining). Yet another channel is for informacial and music videos. I've had enough, and also I really missed my cable channels... Namely Cartoon Network, History Channel and Food Channel. Weather Channel had been useful always just before I left home. CNN was good in keeping in touch with the rest of the world... So, I got SkyTV. Basic package will give me all these channels. I guess that's good enough for me, and there is no reception problem (yet). I'll see how it will work out. I didn't get sports or rugby or movie channels but I'm sure I'll survive without them; but I'd love to have watched Kiwi-Kangaroos match... Which was on Channel 9 for free in Australia, and not for free here. Instead we got a netball test match between Australia and New Zealand. Quite frankly, I don't care much about netball but I didn't have choice. I just hope this will improve my quality of life here a bit more.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm an idiot

I wrote in this blog that I bought electricals. They got delivered on last Friday. Good. I now have a TV. Great. Then... I suspected something like this would happen, but... Well... Moved up the dryer upstairs to my apartment. No worries, it went into my apartment no problems. I took it out of the box and set it down. Then the washer came. I am an idiot for buying a 7.5 kg washer. Yeah. 7.5 kg. It's huge! Didn't look this big in the store, but now that it was in front of me at the doorstep of my apartment, it was. Truly. We had to take it out of the box to get past the first door into my apartment. Then it cleared the second door into my bedroom. Then it got stuck. It didn't clear the third door into my bathroom/laundry. Bugger. I ended up taking the door off the hinge (just 9 screws thank God) then moved the washer in. I tried to arrange the washer and the dryer side by side on the floor but there was no way I could do that without a problem or another. So I decided to wall mount the dryer. This is an uncharted territory for me... DIY. I went out to get an el cheapo impact drill, a masonry bit and masonry bolt thingy to secure the brackets for the dryer on the wall. I managed to make holes on the wall just right then started to put the brackets. Then I realized that I don't have a wrench to tighten the bolts... Bugger. I'll have to go get one now that I'm out of clean clothes so I have to do laundry and it's raining outside so I cannot air dry clothes so I must have the dryer working tonight...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Got more stuff

I went out to Harvey Norman in Mt. Wellington today to get 3 essential items; namely a washing machine, a dryer and a TV. I thought I wouldn't buy a TV here knowing that there are very limited numbers of free-to-air channels. However... I found out that SkyTV is only about NZ$35/month and has 3 essential channels for me; History Channel, Cartoon Network and the Food Channel. Anything else is just bonus; I guess I might watch CNN from time to time just keep up with what's happening in the rest of the world. Anyway. I bought a washing machine and a dryer combo for about 1000 bucks and a TV for 350 bucks. TV is smaller than what I had in US; by 6 inches to be precise, but I'm sure I'll get used to it... *sigh* I couldn't afford anything bigger since I haven't been paid a cent since I came here; I'm waiting on an IRD number (TFN in Australia, SSN in US) and until I get that number, they can't pay me... Oh well. I'll still have to get a few more items, but I think I'm nearing the completion for setting up a basic life here in the land of sheep.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Got stuff (tho more to come)

Since I moved into the new apartment (not really new, really run-down dump) I've been living close to the floor. Yeah. No tables, no chairs, no nothing. Not even bed (not exactly true I guess since I've been sleeping on a camping bed). But that changed on this Sunday. I got the deliveries! Got meself a bed, a table and a futon-sofa. Finally I'm off the ground. Even got meself a vacuum. Great. This place needs a once over, I found nail clippings all over, probably leftovers from the previous tenant. Fucking disgusting. The landlord needs to do better than this. He told me that place would be cleaned out before I move in, but I found plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. I guess I should never trust a realestate agent eh? I've got to get a little bit more stuff like a TV, a DVD player, a microwave, a washing machine, a dryer, a bedside, a tallboy, a desk and a chair (well not really a bit more but) and that should be it!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Too much of a good thing is wonderful

I believe in excess. Well. To a certain degree anyway. I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday. Must have been the stress from the move and getting my place set up and what not. It doesn't help that this place is damp. It showers so often it's not funny. Not having TV nor radio don't help either. I have no way of knowing the weather forecast... Anyway. I've heard that mussels are cheap over here, and I wanted to try it for a while but putting it off because of lack of utensils. Now that I have them, I just had to give it a go. I went down to the Woolies in Newmarket and saw... Live mussels. 3 bucks a kilo! I went batshit and got myself a kilo... It's cheaper than lemon per kilo! I got myself a few (well really a lot more than that) more necessities for cooking mussels then went home. I caught The Link bus to go home but I was so tired by this time that I caught a bus going in a wrong direction, taking me a lot longer to get home. After getting home, I rinsed the mussels, put them in a pot, poured in white wine to cover the base, put in chopped onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, chilli and a few slices of lemon then put on fire. It's good to have a gas stove... Anyway, about 10 minutes later my main dish was ready to serve. I cooked some rice and made a bowl of salad to go with it. It was wonderful, and it was the first cooked meal since I landed here. I felt like I'll recover from cold in a very short time. Too much of a good thing is truly wonderful.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Venti ain't Venti Part II

It's been a week and a half since I landed here in Auckland. There are shitloads of Starbucks around here (unlike Adelaide). They are all over the place. I just wanted to sample what it was like over here... So I dived in one of their premises and ordered a Venti Green tea frappuchino. Well. I think the Venti size is of American rather than Australian (at least it felt that way from the weight) but... The taste is... I suspected something was not quite right when they gave me the glass. It looked light green rather than more deep green. I think they mix in cream then put extra cream on top. So. It was very filling, and it's a lot sweeter than the ones served in Australia/Japan. Probably more of an American variety, or even sweeter. Yuk. My journey for searching a perfect Venti Greentea frappuchino continues...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Auckland Update

It's been almost a week since I landed on the shores of the land of sheep. I've managed to find myself a place to stay in the suburb of Parnell in Auckland. I'm moving there on this Saturday. It's a tiny run down one bedroom unit that costs way too much for what it is, but this will have to do for the moment. I'll see if I can upgrade in a few months. At least it's within a walking distance to my work. I also managed to find some money to open an account with a bank that offers a fairly high interest rate with no bank fees including account managing, EFTPOS and ATM access. I also got myself a mobile. It's a prepaid Vodafone, and thanks to the lack of competition in this country, I get to pay way more than what I paid in Australia. I'll be starting at my new job on this coming Monday. I went in the lab a few times now to see what's happening. I met my coworkers who seem to be all nice. I also met my new boss who seems to be a nice guy to work for. My computer's on order, and supposedly will arrive soon (I cannot do the work without this). That's all nice and well. Everything else are not so great... There is no IKEA, no Costco, no Target, and generally no competition here to drive the consumer price down. Probably the market is way too small for these guys to come here and compete. There are lots of Rice Rockets running way too fast, and motorists seem very hostile against bike riders that makes me worried since I plan to use bike to commute. I looked at broadband options, and they are abysmal. I thought it was bad in Australia, but it's worse here. I don't know if I'll even bother to get a TV since it's so not worth it; basically you need a cable or satellite, and what they offer is nowhere near as good as the one I had in US. Probably that's all good for saving money though... I'd better find something positive about this place before I get too depressed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Taking off

I'm in the International departures at Adelaide airport right now. I'm already through the customs and waiting for boarding. I still have an hour and a half before boarding, and the monitor doesn't show which gate I should be boarding... I guess I'll figure it out when the time comes. Anyway. I'm on the Internode wireless Internet now provided for free for just web pages. It's wonderful. Not a speed demon, but certainly nice to have an access, for free. I got my money exchanged to NZ$ already and I'm getting excited about this whole new venture. My new boss is meeting me at the airport, and I certainly look forward to starting the new job.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Manse@North Adelaide

Our family went out for a dinner before I head out to Auckland; you never know when I can come back here next time. My sister found this place The Manse in North Adelaide and that's where we went tonight. This place looked like an old house converted for a restaurant. It had a high ceiling and looked pretty upmarket. The price tag was also upmarket but not outrageously so considering what you get. More of that later. Anyway. When we went there though I noted strong smell of charred wood; the kind of not very well cured wood burning and churning out the tar, kind of smell. This did not go away as the night went on, and this did not impress me at all. We were sat at a round table, but it was rather unstable; leaning on it meant your side sags badly... Anyway. The food was wonderful. Considering the price you are paying for it, it better be. But still. We got the Grande Degustation thing, then got; 4 entrees, sorbet, a main, a cheese platter, a dessert platter, coffee and after dinner chocolate. All entrees and main were wonderfully done. The cheese platter was adequate while the dessert platter was a bit of a mixed funbag; I really enjoyed about half of what's there and the other half was okay to not so good. After 4 hours of dining though I felt stuffed, and left the place a very happy man (with a lighter wallet).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jimmy's Place@Dickson

Bunch of us including myself, Dr. NvS, his wife Mrs. CCvS, another of my friend RPL, his partner V and also one of my old friend C went out for a dinner at Jimmy's Place Chinese Restaurant in Dickson. I've been told that this place has fantastic seafood, so we went there... And it did not disappoint. I've never had a mud crab in my life, so this is one of the reasons I wanted to go there. We had mud crabs cooked in ginger and shallots with thick noodles, stir fried beef, chili prawns and steamed Chinese vegies. The dish were all great, I cut myself with pieces of crab shells but apart from that, it was all good. God knows when I'll be here doing the same thing with these friends, but hopefully sometime again near future.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's one for the money, two for the show...

Three to get ready, Now go, cat, go. As the old song goes.

Anyway. My good friends Dr. NvS and Mrs. CCvS are expecting... A twin! CC wasn't feeling too well; she's got this morning sickness thing. It looked pretty bad and she looked pretty miserable. They suspected it might be from having two little ones in her. Well. They went for an ultrasound session today, and found out that this is indeed the case. Congrats to both Dr. N and CC, I always wanted a twin brother myself... :)

Venti ain't Venti

A few entries ago in this blog, I wrote something about the different sizes of cups offered by Starbucks in different countries. After walking all the way to Civic today, I needed a bit of an energy boost. There is a Starbucks in Civic, so I decided to drop by to see how it is... Well. I was VERY disappointed. Sure they offer green tea frappuchino. It's been my favourite for a long time. I ordered one at a Venti size. They took a long time to produce one for me. It took yongs. Bad. Not only that, they made a raspberry crap for me... Worse. I had to ask them to make a proper one. This took more time, and I was so not impressed. There were so many people working for them (at least it seemed, compared to the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble in Bethesda) yet they took this long to produce a wrong drink for me. Anyway. This version of green tea frappuchino tasted more like the one offered in Japan rather than the one from the US; it tasted more strongly of the maccha green tea and less sweet compared to the one in the US. I prefer it this way. So it's good. They have only a thin straw which doesn't really suit for the use with frappuchinos; they get clogged too easily. But that's also okay... Then I suspected something more sinister; the Venti cup seemed smaller than the one from the US. I was emptying it a lot faster than usual, and at first I thought it must have been my thirst or something. But it felt strange; I normally get REALLY full on one of these babies, but I wasn't. It said it's 600 ml. Okay. So I looked up in the web to see what size it is in the US. Apparently it's 24 oz for cold drinks over there, and 20 oz for the hot drinks. 24 oz translates to about 710 ml while 20 oz translates to about 600 ml. So. Venti ain't Venti! I felt cheated after paying almost AUS$8 for this drink...

National Museum of Australia

I went to the National Museum of Australia today. I think it opened just after I left Australia 5 years ago. My friend Dr. NvS didn't like it because he thought the exhibits were not necessarily objective, and he thought museums should present facts as they are. Anyway, I took a bus down to Barry Drive, walked across ANU to get to the museum. It was a bit of a hike really, carrying my dSLR and other stuff. I spent about 2.5 hrs looking at stuff, and I found it actually interesting. I think it would be good for any tourist wanting to know a bit about Australian history. It covered fairly wide range of things starting with prehistoric stuff to local car industry to sporting legends; trying to show what Australian uniqueness is all about. On the way back I walked back all the way to Civic, and got a lift off from the good Dr. NvS. I'm pretty tired now...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Found...

There is a Starbucks in Adelaide, after all. It's located in Rundle Mall. I was pretty full since I just had a lunch at Cafe Buon Giorno in Rundle Street so I didn't order anything, but I went in to check something. In Japan Starbucks offer 3 difference sizes of cups; short, tall and Grande. In tye US they upsize the cups by offering tall, Grande and Venti. I was wondering what they offered in Australia... And they offer Venti! I didn't hang around long enough to check if they offered my favourite drink which is a green tea frappuchino. I'll do that once I got to Canberra.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Shockers

I didn't realize how much I rely on the Internet for everything. I used to use a Cable Internet from Comcast when I was in the US. It was pretty good really. Costed me about 50 dollars a month for it, but it had no cap, and though it was not the fastest out there, I was okay with the speed. My parents are still using a dial-up, and I pushed them to get something faster. They finally decided to get a broadband at home the other day, and I was pretty stoked. My father wanted to get a DSL from TPG, for he has been using this company for ages, and didn't want to change his mail address since he uses it for his business. That's fine. They offer DSL packages. Or so I thought... Well. TPG site told us that my father's phone number is in the DSL coverage. Good. We ordered the package, then waited... We were told that our line has a pair-gain, and it needs to be removed for the DSL. Fine. We were told that it may take up to 8 weeks (!) to do this, but it was done in a day. Good. Then we received our modem/router a couple days ago, and I set that up. We were told that it would take 3 to 5 days for the line to go active. Excellent. Then we got an email from TPG today telling us that we won't be getting a DSL connection because Telstra will not upgrade the local phone exchange in near future. Bad news. It's now a Telstra problem, and we will not get a broadband (or at least the DSL). I understand that this means no matter which company we go with, including Telstra, we won't get DSL. Bugger. It's rather strange because a house across the street from my parents' place has a DSL connection, and it's also using the same local phone exchange (in Brighton). WTF? When will this country emerge from the Internet stone age?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin

The crocodile hunter was killed in a freak accident today. RIP.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Kenji Restaurant

Today is the Father's day, and our family went out to Kenji Restaurant in Adelaide. It's located on the South side of CBD. My parents know the proprietors and apparently have told them that they would bring me there once I come back from overseas. So off we went. We would hardly go out for dinner since my parents don't go out for dinner often. This place offers more of fusion cuisine rather than the trad Japanese. I had grilled scampi with sea urchin as an entree (appetiser in Australia) then grilled lamb with yuzu scented yoghurt sauce as a main, followed by panna cotta with boiled rhubarb and macchiato as a dessert. The place and the food was wonderful. Not the cheapest place, but certainly was worth the money. Unfortunately... My parents usually have really early night, and today was no exception. Usually they hit the sack by 7 PM. This doesn't go too well with a night out for a dinner. We started dinner at 6 PM, and by 9 PM we were back home. A little too early for my taste. Anyway. It was a wonderful evening.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Planning the relocation

I wasn't sure if this entry belongs here or to the other blog, but I'll write it here... I was looking around for the flights from here to Auckland. I REALLY wanted to avoid VirginBlue. I thought of going over there during the last week of September so that I have a week to settle down then when the job starts in October, I can hit the ground running. Or so I thought. Well. Looking at the price of the flight, looks like I'll be using VirginBlue yet again... Air New Zealand would charge 500+ bucks for a one way ticket. Qantas would charge 450+ bucks. VirginBlue would charge less than 400. All these airlines didn't impress me at all. The pricing of the flights are misleading to say the least. They quote the price of the ticket, but it doesn't include any tax, surcharges and fees. Qantas I thought was the worst offender... Starting about 250 bucks they advertised their ticket. What they didn't say of course was the actual ticket would cost 450 or more because of tax, fees and surcharges. Anyway. Looks like I'll be leaving here on Thursday September 21st. I'll tell the guys in Auckland this, and hopefully I'll be able to settle down before the starting date...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Planning for a trip

I'll be off to Canberra from 9/9 to 17/9. I was going to do some paperwork as well as catching up with some friends that I haven't seen for 5 years. I'll see two couples; one got married last October and the other got married 3 or 4 years ago (I was living in the same college as all of them). I'm also hoping to catch up with other friends too. I was looking into flights then went with VirginBlue; I wrote in an earlier entry of this blog that I'll try to avoid this company but after seeing what's available (VirginBlue and Qantas, basically) I went with VirginBlue since I could get a round-trip ticket for the price of a one way ticket on Qantas... Bugger. I'll make sure I'll have everything I need for the flight before boarding this time. Anyway. After booking the flights, I sent an email to a person in my old lab at ANU asking if I could give a seminar there. I was expecting to be told that I'm too late for that. Surprisingly I was told that they booked a seminar room for me, as a part of regular departmental seminar series! Well. I'd better dust off that seminar I prepared for job interviews and polish it up a bit before I fly off to Canberra...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Brita rocks

I wrote a few days ago that I was going to get a Brita for myself and see if it can make Adelaide water tastes any better. Well. I got meself one yesterday and tested it out today. I filtered some water in Brita then tasted it... Tastes like water as it really should. Clear and refreshing. Then I tasted some raw tap water, Adelaide special... Yuck!!! Tastes like earth... Well it's difficult to describe, but I'd say it tastes more like the smell of earth coming off from roots of well grown lawn... Brita may not be able to remove the earth particles as some suggested (since I cannot verify this) but one thing for sure, Brita removed that shocking earthy taste from Adelaide water. I'd better go make a cuppa for myself now.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bank accounts

What's up with the Australian banks charging fees for just about everything? I have had an account with NIHFCU for the last 5 years, but they never charged a cent for anything, including checks and credit cards. Anyway, I got a mail from NAB telling me that starting on September 1st they are going to start charging fee for keeping an account there. Well. I won't take that sitting down. I closed accounts with them today then moved all my money over to Australian Central Credit Union. Apparently they won't charge fee for keeping accounts with them. I'll see how they will perform. Their internet-only saving account has an excellent interest rate, and I'm looking forward to its reaps and bounds...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Adelaide water

I'm back in Adelaide, and I have to consume whatever it has to offer. The food has been wonderful. In fact, I think it is much better than what they have in Washington DC. One thing I noticed bad is water. First time I had shower here since I got back here, I noticed the smell of earth in water. The water in Montgomery County you notice the smell of chlorine. I don't know which one's better, but it's definitely not pleasant to taste. Apparently water here contains some silt that couldn't be removed even by filtering through Brita, according to my parents. I'm getting one tomorrow and see for myself whether it is capable or not. Meanwhile I think I'll try to drink the spring water...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Long time no see

I've been away from Australia for a while. I am in Adelaide right now, and I happen to have a few friends here I still keep in contact with. One of them is someone I met in Bruce Hall at ANU 10 years ago. I was starting out as a PhD student while he was starting out as an IT/Engineering undergrad. Like myself, he was 16 years old when he started uni. He is now working in IT industry and I caught up with him tonight. I requested that I wanted to eat some decent Chinese food. He has booked a place in Chinatown and we went up there. We had tea-leaf smoked duck, braised mince chicken with eggplant, braised pork ribs and a fried whole barramundi. Yeah. 4 dish between two of us. We polished the whole lot except for a few pieces of pork. I am packing on weight since I came back here, and I really should be watching out for that. My regimen for shedding excess weight will begin once my new job in Auckland begins. We caught up in all the gossips etc for the last 5 years, and it was an enjoyable evening. He shouted the dinner which was very generous of him.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Paperwork woes

I have lived away from Australia for the last 5 years and hence there is shitloads of paperwork to do for me. To start off, I went off to Transport SA to change over my ACT driver's license to the SA one. I got my ACT license renewed in US, and it didn't have a photo on it. Even then it was accepted, and was renewed. This went off without a hitch, and I'll be receiving a new license in a couple of weeks. That's a good start. Next stop, National Australia Bank. I needed to do a couple of things with them; one is to close my VISA account, and the other is to do something about the status of my account and hence the fee being charged for this account. First task I achieved after a lengthy phone call at the local NAB branch in Marion shopping centre; apparently I didn't even rate for an actual personal to talk to. This lady on the phone tried to make me stay with NAB, but the conditons she was offering was a joke. The best she can offer was AUS$10K with 10.9% per annum interest rate. My Amex Platinum and Visa Signature are lot better than this. Even a free Visa Platinum from my main bank in US is better than this... I told her that and insisted that I'm quite through with NAB. Besides, they haven't sent me a replacement card for the last 4 years; says something about their service... I'll need to take a look at the other problem more carefully before deciding what to do with it. The last stop for the day was at the Medicare. I haven't updated my detail for the last 4 years, and I needed a new card. So I went in to get a new one, just to be told that I cannot get one since I am off to New Zealand in 6 weeks or so... This one was a real pisser since it was my fault that I told the lady at the counter that I will be moving again... Maybe I'll go to another branch and see what they can do, since my permanent residence is in Australia after all. Anyway, this pretty much wrote off my morning. Just great. I don't think I achieved much today. Oh, at least I got myself a new mobile...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The move back to where I came from

It's 22nd August 2006 local time in Adelaide, Australia. I have travelled far... I left Washington DC 2 days ago on calendar (1 day in real time though) around 7:30PM from Dulles. Took some time to get to LA. I had about 30 minutes between flights so I quickly dashed off to get a dinner. Shoved that down the throat in record time then got on the plane to Sydney. Well at least I went through the boarding gate. Then the bunch of guys from US Army standing by to rummage through everyone's carry on luggage. Yeah the uniformed ones. Incredible. On board I slept on and off, read some, ate a lot, and before I knew it, I was in Sydney. I spent about 3 hours before the next flight... To Adelaide. I flew United from Washington to Sydney then Virgin Blue from Sydney to Adelaide. UA was okay... Virgin Blue I'm afraid is less satisfactory. They are charging 3.50 for a Nescafe!!! At least on UA it's Starbucks, and it's free even on domestric flights. Not that Virgin Blue is any cheaper than UA. I didn't know if I could bring liquids on board or not, so rather than risking it I didn't take any with me. Virgin flight seemed to be very dry, and I was getting bloody nose. And of course they charge for absolutely everything, even water. In future I think I will try to avoid this company... I wonder if any other Australian airline's any better than this.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Packing

It's always a pain to relocate. I don't like it at all. One of the reasons is the packing. I've moved a few times in my life, but it always daunts me to pack things up. Sure it's a good opportunity to get rid of stuff I accumulated over time, but I still hate the process. For this move, I had about a month to prepare for. And you know what, I've been slack about it. I put it off so long that I ended up doing what I usually do; a last minute overnighter. They are picking up my stuff today, and I was done this morning at around 7AM. At least it's done and they'll pick it up sometime between noon and 4PM this afternoon. Thank goodness I rescheduled the pickup. It gave me an extra day, and I managed to make it in time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bistro Francaise

Again the usual bunch of us Drs YT, HC, KS and myself went out to eat some Korean BBQ... Well at least we set out to. Then we kinda got lost around in the Pentagon area. The objective was located somewhere near Alexandria but we were unable to navigate ourselves over there. So. We ended up going out to Georgetown to save ourselves a whole heap of trouble. Dr. YT picked Bistro Francaise as our target; he said he was interested to go to this place before. The place was pretty cozy and the menu was nice though not that nice to the wallet. We enjoyed ourselves though and that's important. Now I just have to get back to that writing and finish it off...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Prepping for the move

I've been preparing to move for the last few weeks. It's been going rather slowly... Because I'm still here and I need stuff to live. Anyway. I've gone through one of my closet last night; the other closet's already done. I found... Boxes after boxes. Contents for most of them I'd already have tossed out. Never thought I had this much shit inside such a tiny space. You never know... It's like TARDIS out of old Dr. Who. Never underestimate the capacity of a closet. Reminds me of closets of old Burgmann College rooms that has the same nickname for the same reason; you can pack more in than they appear. I remember they used to try cramming as many people in for making the record... Meanwhile I've sent out a list of things to be given away, and got a few responses. Good. I don't have to throw everything out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Paul Kee Chinese Restaurant

I had to go to NIH to help out with stuff I'm leaving there. I got some homework to do which is a bummer. I dropped by at Dr. YT's lab to see how he's doing. He's finishing off his grant application. Good for him. Anyway he and myself went out for a dinner after a while; not really a dinner for me since it's the first meal of the day... We haven't been to Paul Kee Chinese Restaurant in Wheaton for a while so we went back there. This place is pretty good; clientele are mostly asians, Chinese menu items on the wall and pretty reasonable price. We had some steamed jumbo shrimp, stir fried baby bok choi and 1/4 of soy chicken. They didn't disappoint as always, but shrimp was not shelled so we had to take that off before we can eat them. Now my hands smell like shrimp... It was a good meal though!

Third time lucky

We went out for another movie; this time it was Scoop. IMDb gave a decent rating, and the trailer looked promising too. Was it going to a third time lucky, or was it going to be a trifecta of bad movies? Well. The plot of the movie went like this; a journalism student gets involved in a major scoop. She fell for the investigative subject who killed off a prostitute he frequented. He disguised it as a part of serial killings of prostitutes at the same time other murders were happening. So, what did I think? I thought it was an okay film. Pretty straight forward, had a story to tell, and delivered the goods. I liked the cast, and the cast did well in acting. The only thing that bothered me a little was Hugh Jackman's accent; he's meant to be playing a British aristocrat but I thought his Australian accent came out a little strong around the middle of the movie. His accent became more English in scenes the character he was playing was more stressed.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

It's a sushi time

Drs HC, KS and myself went out for a bit of sushi action. We went down to Yosaku Restaurant down in Tenleytown. Apparently it's Iu (reads "doyo ushi no hi") today in Japanese calendar (actually it's nI "ni no ushi" meaning the second such day in the season). On doyo ushi no hi, Japanese eat eel to get stamina, hoping to go through summer without problems from summer heat. So we went down there in search of some Unagi (eel) action. We had a couple of appetizers then went on to get lots of sushi; usual sushi fare plus some fancy special Unagi sushi. It was all good. Hopefully the unagi gave us all the stamina we need to get through this atrocious heat of late. Apparently this trend in weather will continue for some time...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Two bad movies in a row

A challenge was issued to me by Dr. YM... She lent me an unrated version of Date Movie. She wanted to find out how long I can watch this thing before taking a break from it. She got it from Dr. YI who thought a comedy would be an okay thing to watch but just couldn't stand this movie. IMDb gave it 2.7 stars. Well. I wholeheartedly agree... It's full of shite. Alyson Hannigan tried her best to save this monstrosity but couldn't. It had some funny moments, all spoofs of other movies and toilet humour. Some of the toilet humour was down right gross, and no wonder two girls couldn't take it without a break or two. I managed to sit through this atrocity without interruption, but that's just because of the challenge. I would've fast forwarded, no, would've stopped watching, if it wasn't for the challenge. I hope Dr. YI kept the receipt so that she can get a refund for this crap.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Miami Douche

Went to see Miami Vice. One word to describe it would be "crap." The only saving grace was acting from Jamie Foxx. Thought it was a total waste of time and money. IMDb gave it 6.3 stars but I would've given lower marks. Maybe I expected too much from it after seeing a trailer for it. I gave up maybe after 30 minutes into the movie. It's full of bad dialogues and bad acting. The first love scene by Foxx I thought wasn't necessary in the development of the plot. I was expecting a lot more action, but there weren't that much of it. There was a story in the movie, but I think they tried too hard to cram everything in the movie and ended up not doing a proper job of storytelling. Who cares about loading/unloading of drug on/off the ship, really? There were just too many unnecessary scenes in this movie to make it a more painful experience. Bugger, really. At least we got discount tickets so it wasn't at a full price. Thank goodness for that.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bed time

Finally it's fixed. It's almost lunch time, or bed time, or both?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's still hot

I ended up not sleeping at all last night thanks to the heat. The temperature kept going up, and was hovering around 85-90F. AC guy came around an hour ago to take a look... Then he took off. I would imagine that he went off to get parts or gas or something to get the AC fixed. And of course it's still pretty hot in this place. Damn. Meanwhile I'm stewing in this heat.

Crazy ad

I love Fanta Grape. I got laughed at by my colleagues in the lab for this. But nothing prepared me for this one at youtube.com. I was laughing hysterically... Gotta love the Japanese. Meanwhile, AC at my place is still circulating warm air, and I'm having a difficult time doing anything...

It's hot hot hot

Aaaaargh!!! It's hot hot hot! My AC broke down last night. The fan is working, but the air is not cooled down!!! I went to the rental office to get it fixed, but the AC technician won't be back until tomorrow morning... Thank goodness for the fact that my apartment is located at a semi-basement level. If it was located any higher, I would be so dead. I had the blinds shut so that direct sunlight won't be coming into my apartment, so the temperature rise is kept minimum. Even then it's... Pretty darn hot.

I went down to the rental office for another reason. I am moving out of the apartment on 20th, and leaving the country. My lease is expiring at the end of August. I was thinking to pay for the August and just to let the lease expire. I got a mail from the rental office though telling me that I am terminating the lease earlier, and will have to pay rent for two more months. There is no way I'll pay for that, and I explained what is happening, and all seems to be well. Two jobs done for the day. Now I just have to get back to other tasks...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Procrastination

I was trying to get things done this weekend and ended up not doing much. I keep packing, I keep getting rid of stuff, I keep trying to write that darn Japanese article and I keep trying to do things I'm supposed to do. But in the end I came back to... Procrastinate. That reminded me of one of the great poster from demotivational series. Procrastination. Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now. I love them all.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Invited for a dinner

I just came back from a dinner at the house of Dr. AC, the PI from my neighbouring lab. He invited me over for a farewell dinner at his place. Dr. MM picked me up from my place around quarter past 6 this evening. His place is pretty nice in a nice neighbourhood in Rockville. He prepared some wonderful salmon with Indian herbs and spices, with the sides of sweet corn and green beans. His two kids running around and putting shows for us, and that was also nice. Afterward we had some dessert; ice cream, chocolate cake, strawberries and mangoes, as well as some tea. I'm completely stuffed, and feeling satiated. We talked about a lot of things, like how I used to be, how I got recruited, and how it will be at the next job and so forth. All in all, it was a wonderful evening, and I certainly enjoyed it.

Preparing to move

I'm moving back to Australia in less than a month time. I've started to pack my stuff to be sent back. It's a pain in the neck but I just have to do this. I've booked for a shipping today at WTX Global Logistics for seafreight. I told them that it will be about 1500 pounds of stuff over 24 boxes, probably about 8 cubic meters. When you think about it, 8 cubic meter is a lot of stuff... Probably I won't have that much stuff, but just in case. All in all, it will cost me about 2000 dollars from door to door including insurance. It's not too bad actually. I was expecting to pay a lot more. It will take about 45 days to arrive, and that's not too bad either. It will be picked up from my place on August 16th so I'll have about 2 weeks to pack up my gear. I'm almost halfway through packing, so I should have no problem meeting that deadline. They require down payment of 75% of the fee to schedule the pickup and I've paid that already. The rest of the stuff ie. stuff I'm not sending, I plan to give them away. Now I just have to wait for a go ahead for my actual position... It will be a bit of a waiting game, but it's expecting to come through within the next week or so.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Abysmal performance continues

Well. What can I say?

Drs. YT, HC, KS, MY, IY and myself went out tonight. At first Dr. HC and myself were to go out for a dinner. Dr. HC wanted to go out for some Thai food and he and myself were heading to the Medical center metro. We ran into Dr. MY and basically we dragged her into this... We went down to Bethesda, and went to Sala Thai restaurant to have a dinner first. Afterward we grabbed some frappuccino from a local Starbucks then headed to NNMC opposite NIH. We met up with Drs. YT and KS. Now, since I'm out of NIH, I don't have the NIH pass. I was little worried that I couldn't get in there. I managed to get in without any hassle however and that was good. There is a bowling alley in NNMC, and we played 3 games there.While we were playing the first game, Dr. IY showed up. I managed to win 1 game but the other two were again abysmal. Then we were joking around saying maybe we should go out and play some pool. Dr. IY took it seriously, and so we headed back to Champion's Billiards Cafe up in Rockville. We played a few games and my woes continued... I couldn't win any games. Mind you I had a great time both bowling as well as shooting pool. But I really should do something about my serious lack of form in both sports...

Friday, July 28, 2006

The great struggle

As I wrote in a previous blog entry, I am writing an article in Japanese. I am struggling to write this, as I find my Japanese quite inadequate. Essentially I have vocabulary of a 15 year old, and it is quite a stretch for me to write something academic in an acceptable form. It's meant to be a very short format just explaining the essence of my paper, but even then it's been most difficult... It's pretty frustrating, really. I'll be real happy when this is all over.

Meanwhile... mixi managed to fetch entries from my blog, so I am assuming that it was not on my end that was at fault. So that's good.

And on the job front. I contacted the guy whose lab I want to go early this morning, telling him that I got a solid offer from another lab. He wrote back saying that things are moving, and be patient... I'll be patient alright, but there is only so much I and others can wait... I am hoping that they will come through, as he has urged the collaborating company to speed things up for us. Well. They have a week, and that's all they are going to have. We'll see how things will turn out.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Farewell yet again

Drs KT, RY, MI and myself went out for a farewell dinner (for me). We went out to Addie's Restaurant in Rockville. The web page says it's in Rockville, but in reality it's just off from White Flint mall. This place is unique that it's a converted house. Not the cheapest of restaurants, but many reviewers said it's a good place to eat. We sat out on the porch in front of the joint, but there was a problem; bugs. Lots of bugs. They were crawling all over the place including my face, my legs and some of them were crawling into even bread! I ended up doing a lot of Aussie Salutes to keep them at bay, but it was a futile effort. In the end I gave up... It was pretty hot out there too. Supposedly 29 degrees Celsius, but felt a lot hotter than that. Anyway. I had an Angus steak (rare, as usual), a glass of nice red (Cabernet Sauvignon but wasn't that full bodied and quite sweet) then chocolate pekan cake and espresso as dessert. The food was pretty darn good, but it's difficult to get over the mozzie stings and the price... I didn't have any meal today during the day just because I didn't have much left in the fridge, so I was pretty hungry when I got to the restaurant. I wasn't expecting it to be this filling though. We had a great time (or so I'd like to think), and I'm full right now. I'm feeling pretty happy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yet another interview

I went off for another interview today... And it went quite well. I was already offered this position before this interview; it was just a formality. Now I have a week to decide whether I'll take this job or not. Unless the other one comes through with the goods, I have no choice but to take this one. I really want and prefer the other job but right now it's a vapourware. So I'll be writing the other guys to let them know the situation. Maybe this may help, and maybe not. I just hate to be hung dry.

Meanwhile... Mixi is misbehaving yet again. It has stopped updating my diary section. It's linked to my blog, but it's not being updated since 22nd. WTF is going on? I've swapped around addresses and all, but it's not helping. Blogger seems to be making invalid RSS, and that might be a problem. I changed the feed to livejournal, and I'll see if this works at all. Livejournal makes a valid RSS, and if mixi doesn't update the diary section, then it's their fault... I'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

First gray

I was looking at a mirror, and found a single gray hair. Pretty shocking really. I'm going bald as well. My teeth are chipping away. It's unbelievable.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Out for a movie

A couple of us went out for a movie. I've never been to Bethesda Row Cinema before, and it was quite an experience. First of all... the ticketing system. I didn't realize that there are ticket booths outside cinema, but in the lobby there are ticket vending machines. I actually liked them, since you could actually make purchase over the internet and pick it up there. The theatre is an art house cinema, and I always liked the atmosphere in these theatres. Never full of screaming kiddies trying to impress their peers; just adults enjoying good films. The theatre was opened fairly recently, and so it didn't have this run down feel to it that I often associate with such cinemas. We saw a movie called A Prairie Home Companion. IMDb gave a fairly high rating, so I thought it would be an okay film to watch. The movie was alright, had good actors and played pretty good. I thought it was pretty well done in fact; it had a story to tell, and it delivered nicely. The only negative thing I noticed was this sudden shifts/cuts during the film that I wasn't sure about. I don't know if those were when film rolls changed over, or intentionally cut or just plain bad editing, but they did distract me a lot. Anyway, I did enjoy this movie in a different way from my usual genre of films. I usually watch films that don't require brains, so I can actually relax. All films however should be about telling stories, and I hate the ones without. After the movie, we went out for a dinner at Union Jack's in Bethesda. I've never been there before, but I liked it. Maybe it's a little stretch to call it a British pub, but I could see they were trying. Maybe next time they can show cricket on TV instead of football. I just realized (by looking at their web page) that they have free pool tables all day on Sunday! Bugger! I could've practiced it tonight, after the abysmal performance last night...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

You are not safe

And so they are. I like Google mash-ups. I think it's a really cool idea; linking data from multiple sources/contents to create new service. I was browsing the web to get sober, and found this one. I guess it's one way of doing things... According to this thing, there is an offender in my apartment complex. Great. Some things you are better off not knowing. But for some I guess it's better to know. I'm more disturbed to know that there are so many of them out there... A lot of them are into kiddies... Jeez. One weakness I can see on this DB is that it displays only compliant ones; ones currently offending might not be represented on this mash-up. I dunno...

Rehab required

Drs YT, HC, KS and myself went out to play pool tonight. We went out for a dinner first at Jose's Grill to stuff ourselves with meat. Then we went out to Champion Billiards Cafe in Rockville to play pool. I was disappointed with myself for a poor performance. I couldn't even win a single game. I really lost touch, and I need rehabilitation really. Basically I got my arse kicked by just about everyone. Bugger. Basically Dr. KS was the champion... She's good. Very good in fact. In the end though we all had a good time (or so I think; I certainly did) and that's all it matters. I even got to drink alcohol in public for the first time in a long time. We should do this more often.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Woo Lae Oak

It's basically my last day at NIH. I'll go in tomorrow to clean up a little but basically this is it. To commemorate this occation, Dr. YT and myself went out for a dinner. He thought we should go out to Woo Lae Oak out in Pentagon City. We had mixed Korean bbq set (that supposed to feed two) plus cold noodle. BBQ was to be honest a little disappointment; probably better off ordering two servings of meat rather than going for this one as this was mostly vegetable. We stuffed ourselves on BBQ thanks to lots of vegies plus two servings of rice each. Then the cold noodle. They split this one in half for us. I managed to finish all for myself, but Dr. YT had a little trouble eating it as he was getting really full. In the end we were hurried off the premises as the place was closing down. I thought that was a little poor for paying that much of money for this food... Didn't even get to have dessert (not that I had much room left but).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Japanese language

II never thought it would be this difficult to write in academic Japanese. Sure I can write usual say hi sort of short letters in Japanese. No problem. But when it comes to the academic kind, I'm utterly out of depth. I found that out tonight. And here's why/how... I got a request from a Japanese journal to write a short article on an article I published (printed version is coming out on 27th!). Sure. No worries. Except of course... It has to be in Japanese. I gave a decent go at it tonight, and boy was it hard! I left Japan at the age of 15, and that's when my education stopped in Japanese. Everything has been in English instead since. So I have a vocabulary of a 15 years old. And they are asking me to write an academic article. It's a quite a bit of a stretch if you ask me. I think I'll be enlisting all the help I can get for this one, as they asked me to write minimum 2400 characters. From tonight's effort, I managed to squeeze out about 900... I have a long way to go... This is rather depressing. *sigh*

Escalators

I was carrying some stuff today, and was on an escalator at Medical Center Metro station. It's a very long one, and I found out the other day that it's one of the longest single escalator in the western hemisphere. In fact, the Washington Metro system has a few; ones at Wheaton, Bethesda, Adams Morgan and Medical Center are among the longest. The one at the Medical Center is 138 metres. For the last 5 years, I've been using this escalator in and out of the system. While I've been here, they installed a roof/cover over the escalators at the Medical Center station. When I came here, it wasn't there and I was thinking it was pretty stupid not to have one. During the winter, especially when it was snowing, salt is spread around to help melt the snow. It was wrecking havoc on the escalators and on some days all 3 escalators were out of action, forcing people to climb up and down on foot... Those were the days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

San Francisco Trip 3

Well. The final day. I managed to wake up early enough to have the complementary breakfast at the hotel. It was pretty good... Double omelette made to order, sausages, bacons, potatoes and bread... I pigged out as usual since this was a buffet. Then I took a shuttle to the airport. But let me tell you it was a bumpy ride! I was sitting in the back of the bus, and every time it hit a bump, I swear the tail section of the bus was lifting off. It was a pretty rough ride, and I got all shaken up inside. Not good after a huge meal. After seeing a long queue at United counter I was glad to have come early. I had to wait for my flight to leave for a while though since it was running late. The plane was there, but crews were flying in from another city which is delayed. We started boarding 30 minutes late, then I heard a crew making frantic phone call on the skybridge saying that there is no food/drink on the plane... They had plenty of time to do that while the plane was on the ground...

And then our plane got diverted to Pittsburgh. Apparently there is a thunderstorm activity widespread in northeast and mid atlantic region, and no planes are allowed in or out. It must be pretty bad if that's the case. The captain announced that we'll be stopping over in Pitts then wait at least an hour and see what's going to happen. I just hope I'll make it back to DC sometime today.

We just landed in Pitts. It's almost quarter past 7. Called Dr. YT for a weather update, and he told me... Weather's fine in DC. Then there is an announcement that air traffic over DC is reopened. We'll still have to wait though since there is an express flight 3 hours behind schedule. It will fly out before us. Our plane is being refueled right now. Apparently it will be a 30 minutes flight from here to DC. Maybe it's not too bad. I'll grab a dinner on the way home, maybe even in Dulles, I think.

Landed 40 minutes ago, and I'm on Washington Flyer coach now. I've had my dinner, and I'm okay... It took long enough. Hopefully connection from this bus to Orange line will be as smooth as the outbound trip.

Finally got home, and it's 11:30 EST... It's been a long day. 12 hours of travelling in total. I think I'll hit the sack.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

San Francisco Trip 2

I just came back from a long day of interview. It's been a wonderful day. It started off with... Waking up way too early by local time though it was pretty late by EST. In the end I ran out of time so I ended up not having breakfast. I was meant to have reported at the place at 8:30 but instead I ended up getting there at 7:30 because of hotel shuttle. The place doesn't even open until 8:00. I waited until 8:30 to actually start meeting people. I got to talk to a bunch of people including some senior managers. Then I gave a talk. Maybe it wasn't the best performance I've ever put on, but audience were all impressed and that was good. All the people I met were nice, and that was also good. Pretty much everything I saw I liked. Bummer they can't offer me a job because of my visa issue... But it was nice to hear that they would've hired me if it wasn't for the visa issue. Maybe in a few years perhaps... After all this commotion they treated me to a dinner at a rather fancy restaurant. It was all wonderful, and I am sure to keep in touch with them. I really had a good time. Now I'll have to face a long trip back to DC...

Monday, July 17, 2006

San Francisco Trip 1

I'm typing this on the flight to San Francisco. I'm off to San Francisco for 3 days for an interview with a company. My boss presented my data in a meeting somewhere in Europe, and a senior scientist from that company saw it, found out that I'm looking for a job, and she invited me for an interview. Talking about connections... I'll see what comes out of this little trip. At the very worst I'll get a free trip out to West on their expense, and possibly making some connections. Anyway, my flight is out of Washington Dulles International Airport, and I was meant to have an early start. My plan was to catch the Red line down to Metro Center, switch over to the Orange line to West Falls Church then hop on a Washington Flyer Coach. Well. I plan well and then execute poorly for this sort of thing, and today was no different. I was meant to have got up at 7, and leave by 8. That would've left me plenty of time to have brekky/lunch at Dulles. Instead... I left home at 9:20. By strokes of luck everything connected, and I was at the airport by 11:10. This was despite of the fact that the Blue line was delayed by track work, and also having to catch Washington Flyer that comes every 30 minutes. On the plane I just wanted to try to see if my toys worked; namely GPSMAP60CS. When it's placed right next to the window with the blind up then it can actually catch satellite signal, and measure speed etc. Currently we are flying at 850 km/hr... And obviously heading west. Duh. Then this lady sitting next to me got sick. She apparently reacted badly to orange juice UA served. There was a doctor on board, so she could be looked after. The flight was very smooth and I'd say it's a good start...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Farewell lunch

Bunch of people from my lab, the lab next door, the lab upstairs and the lab around the corner went out for a farewell lunch today for me at Cesco Trattoria in Bethesda. I chose it on several different bases; I wanted to go somewhere close by (ie. Bethesda), somewhere I've never been to and somewhere with good reviews. Cesco fits the bill perfectly; it's in Bethesda, I've never been there before and the reviews are wonderful. And it did not disappoint. I made a reservation for lunch yesterday for 18 people... And everyone turned up. Dr. JU and myself walked there while all the rest of the party drove there. We actually arrived around the same time as the rest, and so it was nice to do some exercise before a big lunch. Lunch menu was okay and I had a baby octopus salad as an entree, grilled fish of the day (mahi mahi) for the main course and almond cake for dessert. I still get it wrong at times about this; back home in Australia, an entree is an appetizer. Over here in US, an entree is a main course... Anyway. The food was pretty good and the atomosphere was excellent. Maybe it was a tad expensive for a lunch especially for students but hey our lab doesn't do lunch often so it should be okay... Except for one thing. Some people left earlier because they had work. That's fine. They left money, and that's good. But when the time came to pay the bill, it turned out that we were almost 100 bucks short! The people who stayed obviously paid their due; those who left earlier obviously covered only their own food, not tax nor tip. In the end, one of the PIs covered the difference, but that was so not cool. Anyway. I cannot believe it's been 5 years since I came here. Time flies like an arrow, really. I would hope that I have achieved something here, and contributed something to the science.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My days are truly numbered

I booked a flight back to Australia today... I'm off to Adelaide on August 20th. Then it just dawned on me; I've got shitloads of things to do, starting with the chores. I need to finish up and clean my desk and bench at work. I need to organize a move. I accumulated so much stuff over last 5 years, and have to sort them out as to what to bring with me and what not. I need to work out logistics of the move as well. I just got quotes for shipping; about 2000 bucks for 10 cubic meters of stuff. That's not too bad, and probably I'll go with that company. I need to figure out other mundane things like cutting off phone lines, cable, mobile and paying bills yet maintaining a line of communication. Jeez. I never thought... It would be this painful. It was a lot easier moving over here when I didn't have this much to do. I practically hopped on a plane out of Canberra and a day later arriving in DC. Oh well... I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and start doing all these things. On a brighter note, I got to talk to my parents for a while, and they assure me that Auckland is a nice place to live. I guess that's something I could look forward to.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Another week, another job interview

Another week passed at NIH (not much of it since I took half of it off). I get to go to another job interview. This time I'm off to San Francisco, in a week time. I'm not expecting much from this one at all except for a free trip out to the west. Flying out of DC on Sunday and coming back here on Tuesday. Hopefully it will be a pleasant trip, as the last few (long) trips I've taken have been rather disastrous. Last San Francisco trip I did was at the end of last year, and that was the worst travel experience I have ever had. It started to snow the night before the departure date, taxi didn't come on time, my flight got canceled, had to deal with a rude customer rep, I didn't fly out until 9 hours later, missed connecting flight at Dallas TX because half the American Airlines terminal was blacked out, and got to hotel 1AM PST, making that day 24 hr day... I'd better find something to keep me occupied while flying...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My IQ

I just saw a site for testing my IQ. According to this site, my IQ is 126. I guess I'm okay with that, apparently I'm not a total idiot though it's nothing to rave about. The questions get tougher as you go on, and the Last 4 questions were really hard... I basically ran out of time. I don't know though if this test truly measures your intelligence as I suspect this is mostly measuring your pattern recognition abilities... I really should have been out there watching 4th of July fireworks (instead of staying home doing this) but just couldn't be bothered going down to the Mall in this weather.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

Assateague Island National Seashore

Bunch of us decided to go to the beach. The usual suspects including myself, Drs. YT, HC and KS were rounded up and headed down to Assateague Island National Seashore way. Unlike our usual way of totally lacking planning, this time we actually left around 10AM to head down there. It should have been a 3 hour drive down there. Instead we got caught in a traffic jam at the toll gate of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and it took us 4.5 hours instead. This delay caused us to forego with lunch and instead we just snacked on some junk food we bought on the way. We spent about 2-3 hours on the beach. Dr. YT jumped right in the water after getting changed. I don't have bathers and I normally go to the beach to relax on the sand and so I spent my time accordingly; lie down and relax. Drs HC, KS and myself after a while did get our feet wet on the the edge of the beach but boy the water was cold! I guess that's the Atlantic Ocean for you. I didn't have sunblocker on hand, and I didn't think of it that much until later but I think I got even more tanned today.

After spending our time on the beach, we were debating on where to have dinner, and then decided to have it in Ocean City. We headed up there, walked around the beach front and explored the endless rows of shops and rides in the waterfront. We rode on the ferris wheel there, but it was kinda scary; the wheel was spinning way too fast for my taste, compartments were not enclosed, the one we were on it was listed slightly and in general in dodgy condition. Dr. KS was adamant that she would try this one ride where a cage containing a couple of people get shot off the ground. But I've seen this little film on youtube.com, and after seeing it... Well. I didn't want to take chances before dinner for losing appetite or emptying my stomach contents after dinner. The ride itself was a little too expensive for my taste as well. Anyway. We had our dinner at a restaurant called Little Italy on the shore. The food was pretty good in general and plentiful even for me, but thought it could use a little bit more salt. Driving back was pretty smooth, and got home in about 3 hours at around midnight. All in all it was a very enjoyable outing. I want to do this again some time in future.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fort McHenry and Crabs

Dr. YS bought a Scion tC. He wanted to take it out for a spin, and so myself and Dr. HC joined him to go somewhere. We decided to go eat some seafood up in Baltimore, and on the way visit Fort McHenry, the origin of "The Star-Spangled Banner." On this little trip I took an extra toy with me; a Garmin software called nRoute. I wanted to see how well it worked. Though the routing for this drive was simple, it contained some tricky maneuvers. Every time we deviated from the navigation, it almost instantaneously recalculated routing to get back to the destination. GPSMAP 60CS does an okay job in doing the same task but with nRoute it was much much faster. Additionally I didn't realize because I had muted my computer but it had voice navigation as well. That feature worked out really well. After arriving at the fort, we spent a few hours there walking around and watching some sort of historical society people doing some drills. We didn't realize until later that they were practicing for a military tattoo to be performed a little later on. That started around 5:45PM and we watched it until about 6:30PM. We left before The Old Guard performing military tattoo, which was a little bit of a bummer really. We left there because we were getting hungry, and wanted to go for the main purpose of this trip, the seafood. We chose to go to Al's Seafood Restaurant just outside of the center of Baltimore. I have read good reviews of this place, and it didn't disappoint. We had a couple of appetizers then a dozen crabs for 3 of us. It was a really messy affair, as we literally smashed our way through the crabs. Instead of tablecloth, they had butcher paper. We also had small wooden mallet each to break crab shell open. Every time we smashed crab shell open, bits and pieces of crab were flying all over the place. Good thing we weren't really dressed up for this trip. And I never thought crabs were so filling. We stank of crabs after all these shenanigans. I washed my hands numerous times but just couldn't get rid of that crab smell. Anyway we were all very much satisfied with this little diversion from our daily routine.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Heart Sutra

I got invited to join an SNS a while back. This SNS started to offer a new service yesterday. They developed a piece of software in which the users install on their computer and let it report what music the computer is playing (either on WMP or iTunes). The SNS then uses this information to take polls on the trends of music played by its users. I understand that these polls are linked to Amazon and iTunes music shop in order to generate affiliate type income for the SNS.

I frequent a BBS called 2ch; the biggest of its kind in Japan if not the world. There is a section called VIP news in this place. Users of VIP news like to have "fun" that ranges from tongue in cheek kind to down right malicious, often at the expense of unsuspecting victims. This time they decided to have a go at this SNS music polling system. They decided to use Heart Sutra by Ku-kai as a part of joke. The effort they put in for this practical joke was quite amazing; they created fake life story of Ku-kai fellow, put up web site, made song lists etc. Basically all they needed to do was to play Heart Sutra muted all day long on WMP. Now it's threatening to make it to the number one spot. I wouldn't participate in these pranks but don't mind watching them happening as long as they don't get too nasty; once they get nasty, they are not cool anymore.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Decisions decisions

My days here at NIH are numbered, and I need to find a place to go... My paper is out and the word is out there that I'm looking for jobs. Luckily I'm getting some good offers for positions. I've never been in a situation like this where I'll have to make a decision from a number of good offers, so I never thought this would be such a difficult decision to make. It's good to know that I won't be on a dole at least.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

WC2006 Australia-Italy

Well. What can I say. I was watching this game... Then when the first half was done, the power goes out. Great, I thought. I broke out my lantern, lit it, had shower, made lunch and ate it... Then the power comes back on just in time to see Italy being awarded a penalty kick they didn't deserve and winning the game in stoppage time. Would you f*cking believe it? What a bullshit. I guess that was the difference between these two teams; I'm sure they were equally motivated but one had experience and the other didn't. I guess it's Australian's fault not to score during regulation time but still I never expected it to end like that. No matter, it will be easier for Aussies to qualify for next WC now that they will enter Asian qualifying rounds instead of Oceanian one where they have to beat the bottom of South American team in a playoff...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Spontaneous combustion

I use a Dell Inspiron 6000 at work. It's been pretty good, and I got it 1/3 off using an online coupon. However what I saw on the Inquirer worried me a little. According to this article, a Dell laptop went spontaneous combustion. The reporter didn't say what model that was, but it's a little scary to have a problem like that. Good thing this fellow wasn't using it on his lap.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Celebration

In order to celebrate the publication of my paper, Dr. YT and myself went out for a dinner. We went back to Jose's Grill again. I wrote in a previous blog entry that it's off Georgia Avenue, but I was wrong. It is on Georgia Avenue. Anyway last time we came here, we saw people sitting at table behind us having some sort of platter of meat plus bowl of potato wedges and salad. We were wondering what that was and wanted to try it out. Tonight we had an opportunity to do so; we found our target item on the menu and ordered it. After waiting for almost an hour, it came out; a platter of roast plus salad and wedges. It was good and also plentiful; a blood sausage, two sausages, two ribs, some chicken (we thought it was chicken), and a steak. But we just couldn't finish it all. It would be just about the right amount of food if we had another person with us.

My paper

Got me paper out today in Nature AOP. I guess my five years at NIH was not a total waste, after all. I had a few papers out before this since I came out here, but this one is the best one. Pity it didn't come out earlier. I had all the data in this article at least a year ago if not before that. My time here is running out, and I'm struggling to find a new position after this place. I started this project probably about 1 year after I came out to US. Until then I was doing technology development projects as well as a cloning project. Tech development projects fizzled and the cloning project I couldn't publish because I couldn't convince the boss that it's not worth doing functional studies. That one I got "scooped" after sitting on it for 2 years. Anyway this project began when the boss came around and started talking about this fellow he met in a meeting. He was basically telling me that we can do in vivo studies of phenomenon seen in cultured cells using zebrafish. In order to do this he said "why don't you just make transgenic fish and shoot some pictures." It turned out that just making transgenic fish took 9 months. Imaging sessions took about 3 years. He tends to underestimate the efforts going into projects... After things were working for me, and when he gave talks at meetings he used to say that he did not believe that it was going to work... And I was thinking "you gave me something that you thought it was not going to work out?" Good thing it did work. I shudder at the thought that what if it didn't work out? It would've been a disaster.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sala Thai and Tara Thai

are two Thai restaurants in Bethesda. We had a visitor from Japan, and Drs KT, MM, RT, the visitor and myself went out for a dinner. We decided to go to Tara Thai in Bethesda. However... I was with Drs KT and MM, and we all thought we were going to Sala Thai though we all thought we heard Tara Thai. We knew there is a Tara Thai restaurant in Rockville but didn't know that there is one in Bethesda. This is when the confusion began. We waited in front of Sala Thai for quite a while but the other two didn't show up, even though we left NIH at around the same time. We didn't have the cell phone number of Dr. RT, so Dr. KT called the lab and tried to find that number but couldn't. Luckily Dr. RT did the same and she found Dr. KT's number and called. By this time we actually headed back to NIH to find either the number or the restaurant on the web ourselves. We headed back out to Bethesda straight away, and got to the restaurant. We had a pretty good meal in the end, talking science as well as gossips.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Catoctin Mountain Park/Cunningham Falls State Park

Drs YT, KS and myself went out to Catoctin Mountain Park up in Thurmont. We got there maybe around 11 in the morning. We ended up going to the neighbouring Cunningham Falls State Park though. I had my GPS with me and had it on. I wanted to try out this one thing; take a track data to display on Google Map. When we got there, we decided to go take a look at the cascading waterfalls. We went to the waterfalls via Cliff trail. Cascading falls were... Well. I guess you could call them falls... We scaled it up to the top and back. It looked a little steep from the bottom, but it really wasn't that bad. Dr. KS had a little slipping accident and had her foot wet, but apart from that we didn't have much problem coming down. We came back to the lake area via Lower trail from the falls. We hung out a little on the beach area of the lake and then decided to go for a boat riding. There are 3 types of boats available here; paddle boats, rowboats and canoes. We took the rowboat. The boat was... Hot! I thought I would have a burn on my bottom! This boat was sitting on water out in the sun for all day probably, and I bet this thing was hot enough to cook eggs on it. We spent some time on water being cooked inside out by both sun and boat. I think all of us have improved in rowing since the last time we went out to Black Hill Regional Park. It was a good exercise all over and I bet I'll have some soreness later.

All this physical exertion made us pretty hungry. We decided to give a go at an IHOP. I've been there once like 4 and a half years ago but the other two had never been there before. Dr. YT was a little hesitant in going to this place, and needed a little coercing. He doesn't care much for sweets, and our impression of this place was that it mainly served sweets. It turned out we were wrong, and that this place offers more savoury stuff as well but with one catch; they all come with pancakes, obviously. Dr. YT was okay with this place after having some pork chops though of opinion that potatoes instead of pancakes would've been better. Both Dr. KS and myself had some pancakes with eggs and/or sausages. I thought it was more expensive when I went there last time, but probably because I pigged out back then. With the amount we ate, the price was reasonable.

After getting home, I tried to see if I can display today's track on Google Map. It turned out it wasn't too difficult to do. I imported my tracks into Mapsource, saved it as a .gdb file then used GPSBabel to convert it to either XML or GPX format. Then I went to a GPS Visualizer web site, uploaded my converted GPX file then "draw the map" button and hey presto, I had my Google Map with today's tracks dotted on it. I signed up with Google Maps API so that I could display this map on my own site... I haven't managed to display this map in my blog however, but I'm working on it. Hopefully I'll be able to do so soon.