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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...