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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.