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Mikimoto was here.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well. It's the end of yet another year, and of course the beginning of a new one. I hope it was a good one for everyone, and hopefully this year will be a very good one again.




I had the usual end of the year soba noodles; topped with grilled nori, egg, ground sesame seed, chopped spring onions and a dash of chilli powder.




And grilled nectarine with melted brown sugar and Disaronno sauce, plus dusting of cinnamon and a bit of whipped cream as a dessert.

As to the so called "New Year Fireworks Spectacular", it turned out to be yet another disappointment. Pretty piss poor effort really, compared to what I will be seeing in a couple of hours on telly. But then again, it's the norm around here, isn't it?
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taiko

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Sale

I went to take a look at the Boxing Day sales. Well. I was not impressed. You could get these price from Amazon every day, or so I thought. I end up not buying anything since stuff I wanted were overpriced even after so called "massive" discounts. Yeah. Massive. My bottom. Might as well wait until either I absolutely have to get one to replace what I have because of wear and tear, or wait until I go overseas trip...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Daikoku Teppan-yaki Restaurant

So, bunch of us Dr. CH, his other half, myself, TS, AM and his other half went out for a dinner since it's a Christmas eve. Dr. CH organized the meetup, and we went to Daikoku teppan-yaki restaurant downtown on Quay Street. Well. I dunno. I never warmed up to the idea of teppan-yaki and tonight was no exception. People call this thing "Japanese", and that feels so... Foreign to me. The night started alright, we didn't have to wait for long before started. While waiting for a table, we just grabbed drinks from the bar. Then we sat at the table, and waited for stuff to happen. The salad came, and then the miso soup with this single tiny (I mean 5 mm cube small) tofu and a single piece of wakame that is probably 2 cm square with no negi anywhere to be seen arrived. Fine, it's just a miso soup. Sure thing. Then we waited... For a while. Then tonight's cook for us came to our table and started doing stuff. This is meant to be a little show while cooking; this is the part I always have had problems with this style of cooking. I don't like it much. And this guy who was cooking for us was not quite... Up to the standard. The fella kept stuffing up while doing the showey stuff. I wanted to tell the guy to drop the crap act and get on with the cooking. He was meant to light up a big fire with ethanol in a squeeze bottle; he kept pouring alcohol directly on his matches thus extinguishing the flame. Quite frankly, I was not impressed. Obviously the food is not too cheap in a place like this, and we pay for this showey stuff... I ordered Steak Bazaar with supposedly two different kinds of steak; I saw and had just one kind. Where's my fillet mignon? I'd say... Not enough food for what I paid. To make things worse, there were only 3 waitresses on duty and thus things went real slow. We had to wait ages before grabbing one to ask for our dessert... Damn.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Festive Season

So many events to attend. I went to the Faculty BBQ (outsourced to Mad Butcher), the Departmental Christmas party and another barbie at a friend's place. We had a little drinkie today for a little celebration in the lab. Some of us are going out to a dinner on Monday. When do we have time to get things done this month? The university will be shut down so no supplies will come in for some time... Oh well.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Scribefire

I'm trying out this Scribefire thing for Firefox to edit blogs. But I dunno... What's the point of using a web browser plug-in in editing blogs when I can easily log onto blogger.com to edit entries directly? Besides... All the tags I need to add by myself, instead of reading the list off from the blogger site... Oh well.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gundam Warriors

I've been a fan of Koei/Omega Force's Warriors series (Musou series). The first one I played was the Dynasty Warriors (DW) 4 on PS2. Then on to Samurai Warriors (SW), DW5 and SW2. I just got Warriors Orochi. It's an interesting concept but to me Koei just wanted to make some quick bucks before they moved the platform, but that's entirely another story...

Anyway. Gundam Warriors (GW) originally came out for PS3; I think it might have been one of the launching title even. It's a collaboration between Koei and Bandai, who owns the rights to Gundam series merchandise. The simple idea is that you do the Musou/Warriors thing but you are a character off from Gundam series on a mobile suit instead of being a historical character. I thought it sounded pretty good; I like both series (obviously). But if I remember it came out as an exclusive on PS3, and the companies were saying that it needed PS3's computational power to make this happen. I guess they were bullshitting since it is now out on Xbox360. So I popped the disc in and started the game. I thought the graphics looked good. Promising, even. Then... Well. There are few problems. First of all, attack/charge attack thing seemed (to me) completely changed, and really threw me off. Sure, it's entirely (well maybe not) new genre in a similar package (3rd person action) so maybe I should cut some slack and get used to it. Then... In SW/DW, you can get on a horse to go round places quickly. After all, you are a historical figure doing the hand to hand combat fighting thing. On the other hand, in GW... You are already on a 18+m tall mecha. And supposedly it can go around places. Well. I'd say not really. It can dash but keep dashing, and you exhaust the dashing gauge thing and it resorts back to walking and running... Can't go around places as fast as I want... Frustration building up some more... Then when you are surrounded by the mob, you can use charge attack, most often C3 in DW/SW to get rid of them relatively quickly. In GW however, the weapon doesn't have enough reach to do this on the initial go! Even more frustrations. The whole point of me playing the Warriors series is the action; one guy making the difference on the battlefield by slaughtering enemies by hundreds if not thousands in speedy actions and combos. GW has been a little disappointing in this department; not very speedy actions. I'm sure it's going to improve as the levels of pilots as well as the mechas improve as I play this game more. But the progress has been relatively slow, compared to previous Warriors series I played. In any case, I'll see how things might improve as I play more of this...


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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D

I've been using this Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D. It's a pretty handy thing to have. Small size is wonderful, is pretty light, the tablet thing is alright (not the greatest as it often is not very accurate) and when I bought it I added bluetooth, 60 GB hard disk and a large battery. All nice and well. It's been good for taking to conferences. The only drawback has been a relatively small memory (512 MB) and I think this was the reason why the machine felt so slow at boot up. I couldn't afford anything bigger at the time I bought this machine. 1 GB memory module was available as an option, but I remember it as about USD800 and also it said "made to order." Wow.

Then the other day I was looking up the web, and found this page. They are selling the 1 gig module for USD130! The online rep of this shop seemed to be good (I always check it before placing an order for the first time), and shipping and handling to the Land of Sheep was pretty reasonable (~USD20 for International FedEx). It took only a few days for the order to arrive (yay FedEx) and promptly I installed the new memory module. Did it work? Well. I am writing this on my P1510D so yeah it worked. Is it running faster? Definitely. Was it worth the hassle? Most definitely. One thing about Fujitsu machine is that it's relatively easy to upgrade memory and hard disk on them. This page described how to do this on a Loox P70R which is pretty much the same as the P1510D (in Japanese). My previous Fujitsu machine, a Loox T60D, was also like that; undo a few screws and there you go.

The successor to this machine, a Lifebook P1610, has already come out, but it has pretty much the same spec to what I have, except for a Core Solo processor and a higher res screen. I didn't think it was worth another USD2000, and now that I have the memory upgrade, I don't think I will be replacing this machine for some time... Now only if the price of SSDs come down...

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Vista

I liked what I saw when I loaded Vista Home Premium on my spare computer. So, I decided to load up my main computer with a copy of Vista Ultimate. I got an educational licence from this place. I guess rank hath its privileges. I upgraded it over my XP Home instead of clean install because I couldn't be bothered with reinstall and whatnot. The system appeared to go through ok... Then. The first thing I noticed was... Shite a lot of programs aren't working on this! Great. I'll have to get newer versions of software starting with my graphics driver. Wonderful. After I've done all that, I wanted to see how much Vista dragged down my system. People say Vista is slower... I just wanted to see by how much on my own machine. I used this benchmark proggie to see how bad Vista is for my computer (sorry, appears to be Japanese only). With XP Home at the highest settings I was getting 9900+ points. Now with Vista I get... around 7500 points mark. Wow. Talking about slowing the machine down. So much for a quad-core CPU. I might have to get another graphics card to do an SLI to bring the score back to where it was...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Party

I went to the lab end of the year/Christmas party at the bosses' place. As usual, they went overboard with food; the best stuff, in huge quantity. Appetizers were almost enough to make me full. Then the main course; steak and salmon came out. They were topped up with desserts; a chocolate cake, a lemon tart and a pie... We also did a secret Santa thingy. All in all it was a pretty good evening.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Australia votes 2007

Well. To me it's a garden gnome vs. ear wax muncher...



And looks like the muncher is going to be the next PM. It's about bloody time we get a new one...

Monday, November 05, 2007

More congrats are in order

I was chatting with one of my friend back from Australia. Found out that him and his wife are expecting their first child in next January. Also found out from him that another of our common friend is getting married. Congrats to all of them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vista!

No, not that kind. This kind. A while back, I put my surplus computer parts back into a functioning unit; a somewhat mediocre but something that should be enough to act as a media center/PVR. I tried to configure Mythbuntu since I didn't want to shell out big bucks for an OS. Well. At least I tried. But after finding out that I need to map freaking buttons on my remote that came with the TV tuner card, I gave up. Yeah. I used my wallet to solve the problem. I feel I was intellectually defeated, but at the same time, thinking about time wasted and saved, I'm sure I'm even. Now, I have to get a few cables so that I can connect the media center to my surround system...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's a small world

It's freakin' scary. I got back in touch with a guy back from my days in Adelaide; I used to live at the same hall of residents with him, and knew the guy relatively well. Since then I lost contact with him for about 10 years or so until the other day. Yay Facebook. He told me that he just got married. Sure. Fair enough. It's been long. Then I found out who his wife is. I happened to know the girl as well, but quite separate from the guy... Back from my days in Canberra. I lived at another hall of residents in Canberra, and she was on the same floor as I was. What's the chance of that happening? Congrats to both though.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mythbuntu

I had some surplus computer parts generated from my recent upgrade. What can I do with them...? Well. By just adding a case, I can make another computer out of them! And then why not throw in a DVD burner and a TV capture board to make it a media centre? So... I went ahead and bought all that, and somehow managed to drag the whole lot on the Link bus. It took me maybe an hour or two to put everything together that boots. What about software? I like Ubuntu, and I wanted to give a go at MythTV. I found out that there is a Mythbuntu, a distro based on Ubuntu that is optimized for use with MythTV. I downloaded it, burnt it on a CD then booted the surplus machine. It booted up alright, it installed alright but I just cannot configure it properly... The plan was to get it connected to my SkyTV STB using coax cable to the analog tuner on the WinTV PVR 150; SCART on my decoder doesn't seem to do S-VHS so there is no choice. But... It just isn't working. Tried a few things but to no avail. Network connection seems to be dodgey as well; update doesn't seem to work, though it is fetching weather forecast info okay. Remote is partially working but arrow keys and not much else; probably needs key mapping by hand or something. 10 years ago, probably I would've found all this as a challenge, and put in effort to make it work. But now? I got older, and got slacker. I don't find this fun anymore. If you cannot make it work, use your wallet; if you don't have money, use your brain; if you don't have brain, sweat it out, or so the Japanese proverb goes. I guess I am choosing to use my wallet... What a drag.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Upgrade

I've just upgraded my home computer... I'm just amazed how things got so cheap over the years. The first upgrade I've ever done was on an IBM PS/2 286 machine; increasing memory from 1 MB to whopping 2 MB! Enough to run that Windows 3.0... Those were the days! (on the reflection, no, not really) That was back in '89. It has come a long way since then, and my machine kept getting better. I went to 486 after that then to Pentium and Pentium II while I was at the grad school. I then went through a few Athlons while I was in the US. The other day though, I kept thinking about how my machine has become sluggish, and also a need for a retail therapy. So I've upgraded from an AMD Athlon64 3700+, 1.5GB mem and ATI Radeon X800 machine to an Intel Core 2 Quad, 3GB mem and nVidia 8800GTS machine. I just gutted my computer and replaced the guts of it. And oh my goodness it's fast. I mean, the previous set was no slouch, but... Anyway. I'm pretty happy with what I got, and hopefully this will speed up things like rendering stuff in Image/J... Well, I guess not just that program, but...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Nightmare returns

It's been a year since I moved in at my poxy little apartment. And it's this time last year I got struck down by that nightmarish creature from hell... My place got sprayed by an exterminator sent by my landlord, and the problem was gone for a year... Then they are back. I woke up with small insect bites! Yikes! They are back! It must be a seasonal thing... F*cking fleas. I'd better make another call to the landlord... Damn.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More unexpected windfall

Yeah. This time, it's from Auckland Energy Consumer Trust. Why should there be a dividend at all though? Doesn't this mean that they are charging way too much for electricity? I mean, 320 bucks per account... God knows how many there are in Auckland, but I'm sure they all add up to a significant sum. Considering I'm paying about 600 bucks a year, that covers more than half a year of my electricity bill!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Graduation Ceremony

A Master's student from our lab graduated today. Good for her, and all the best for her future. A former summer student that worked in our lab also graduated today. Both of them earned First Class Honours (though I must say I found it odd that Master's degree has "Honours" ranking here; I thought Master's is just Master's). Wonderful stuff.



I got to attend the ceremony as an academic staff member. I got to wear the nice clothes (a good thing once in a while; don't get to do that often as a lab rat), and my set of regalia (the hood, the gown and of course the floppy hat). I KNEW I was going to use it again when I bought my set all those years ago. It felt strange though since I guess I never really expected to join the ranks of academics on the stage at a graduation ceremony looking at new graduates and guests and whatnot. It was quite an experience; we didn't have to line up to get in the town hall (where we had the ceremony); just use the side door thank you very much. Then we get to the "prep room" where we put our garbs on and get ready for the action. They feed you there; I just had a Magnum; there were other choices but. Anyway, when the time came, all of us academics entered the hall in two columns after all the graduates and guests filled the hall. We took up the seats on the stage, and then... Pain. Yeah. My floppy hat is not exactly well fitting, and it was constricting my head. I really should get it altered. Then of course there were other discomforts. The place didn't have an AC, and with that many people filling the hall, plus with all the lighting for the photos and videos taken, the place got pretty hot. It didn't help that I was wearing the suit and the full garb. The lights were pretty blinding, really. Then you realize... Shit, can't scratch my nose, I'm being videotaped... For next couple of hours, we kept clapping as graduates after graduates received their piece of paper and the right to wear funny hats; floppy one for PhDs and mortarboards for the rest. Good for them, bad for our hands; they got pretty painful after a while. Couldn't even fall asleep, as we kept clapping our hands, as well as the fact that knowing this ceremony will be on DVD, recording everything including my little siesta if I did fall asleep on stage. Anyhow. After all this commotion, we sang the national anthem of the Land of Sheep, then wrapped up the whole shenanigans by exiting the hall in two columns just as we entered. I guess it was not entirely without merits, as people I knew got what they truly deserved after years of hard work.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

One Year Anniversary

It's exactly a year since I landed here on the Land of Sheep. I wonder though if I had made any progress. Sure, I have done some stuff, but nothing I can show the world. I guess I have sewn the seed for good things to come, and I just have to be content with that for the moment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The new Link Bus

I saw a flyer once a while back that Stagecoach was upgrading buses used in the Link service. The current fleet had buses with leaky window so that when it rains (and that happens often in this place) you get soaked if you are unfortunate enough to sit next to this window (usually just in front of the back door); I once saw moss growing on the windowsill. Other ones were also problematic; doors not shutting properly (and was forced to run with doors open), doors not opening so the passengers have to force them open, cable for signaling the driver to stop were too mangled, too stretched to work or plain simply not there and so on. Plus there was no AC on these buses. Sure, I don't think it's really necessary, but it would be nice, wouldn't it? So, yeah, they needed an upgrade badly. According to the Link Bus website, the new low emission buses (20 of them) were to be introduced back in May; they are 4 months late, but I guess better late than never. The new bus had two LCD panels for advertisement, with sound. It has 3 security camera pods (2 inside the bus and 1 on top of the front door) to keep an eye (or eyes?) on you; they show images from these cameras on the LCD panels onboard as well. There is no cable for signaling driver any more; instead, everything is button based, just like... In Japan. It seemed to me though the drivers weren't fully versed in the operation of the new buses; took a lot more time to get to work than the old ones...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Uneffing Believable

Well. Bullying has been a problem in Japan for a long time. People commit suicide from it. Unfortunately, it happened at the high school I used to attend all these years ago. The bastards are saying it was for fun, but it isn't. From the victim's point of view, he was extorted hundreds of dollars, and he saw death as his only escape. It isn't funny at all. I'd say hang the buggers. At the same time though, the victim I'm sure could have avoided suicide as well... What a waste.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mt. Ruapehu

I just came back from a little trip down south to Mt. Ruapehu, and I'm in a world of pain. My thighs, knees, arms, and all over the place... Anyway. A bunch of us went down there on Friday after work. We left Auckland about 7PM, grabbed dinner on the way at Burgerfuel (a chain of NZ burger joint). I've never had anything there before, but it was pretty good. You'd better get a great burger for the price they charge; mine was NZD9.50; definitely not cheap. After this little stop, we hit the road again about 8PM... Then headed down to a Southerly direction. The drive was alright except that we kept missing turns, and taking extra time. We were in a hurry because the reception for the place we were staying closes at 11:30PM... And yeah, we missed it. Luckily for us the guys in the second car made it before us, and so they got the room for us also. Anyway. We were staying at the Crossing Backpackers. I've never stayed in a dorm room in a backpackers, but this one turned out to be okay;probably because everybody else in the room were already asleep. After what seemed to me a short nap, we were up and on the go again to hit the mountain. I think I did alright for the first half of the day. Second half was just a world of pain... Just didn't have the strength to control both skis. I barely managed to get down to the bottom. We stopped at Chateau Tongariro on the way out to have a little drink to celebrate the end of the day; for making it one piece for the day. A guy can get used to this! Then drove to Ohakune to grab some dinner. We stopped at the Powderkeg at the Powderhorn Chateau. The atomosphere was great and the food was wonderful. It would have been perfect if they had a little bit more staff; dessert and coffee section was run by the chef himself... There were couple of Rugby World Cup matches I wanted to watch that night, the All Blacks taking on the Italians, as well as the Wallabies taking on the Cherry Blossoms. but they were on a little too late, and we were all knackered and so we hit the sack pretty early, like 8:30PM. This morning, we woke early, packed up, had our brekkie, and hit the mountain... Later than yesterday. But still. The morning run went okay, just like yesterday but my God my legs hurt big time. I called it a day around 3PM and waited the others to come down the mountain. Same drills from yesterday, we had our little drinks at the Chateau again, then hit the road to Auckland. The drive home was smooth, except for the signature downpour. We had a dinner at the designated driver's place, and we called it a day. All in all, not a bad way to spend your weekend.

 

 

 
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Monday, September 03, 2007

Once a Scout...

Always a Scout... I once was a Scout. A long time ago, that was. We had a place for our meeting. I remember camping at this place a number of times. I heard that it's history now.

 


Another one bit the dust.
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Sad news

Well. It's always sad when somebody I know passes away. I heard this morning that this guy once I knew died a while back. I had read somewhere on the web that this guy got drunk, fell off from a harbour cruise ship and drowned. I thought it might be him since the description fit; the name, the age and the job. I just got the confirmation. He was a bit of a tosspot, really. But then again, nobody deserves a premature end. The guy lived his life to the fullest in every sense. I guess nobody is invincible. RIP.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

"Pho" was not a Pho...

So disappointed. So bitterly disappointed. What am I rambling about? Let me backtrack a little. After dropping by at the lab, and walking around the CBD, I thought I needed a very late lunch. So, I decided to go back to the Food Alley food court yet again (I am intending to do all the stalls there, if not all the items). I saw a Vietnamese stall when I went there last time. I used to go out for Vietnamese pho a lot when I was in the US; I used to frequent Pho 95 along Rockville Pike with my friend Dr. YT, as well as Pho Hiep Hoa in Wheaton with people from the lab. I haven't had a pho for ages, actually since I left the US... And been looking for one since. So, I had to give it a go. It's two stalls down from that Indian one that gave me a real belly ache with chili... And so I ordered a pho and also some fresh spring rolls, also my favourite. When the pho came out... Well. I was expecting clear broth but it wasn't. What the...? In the US, pho joints gave us a plate of condiments; containing bean sprouts, herbs (often Thai basil) , lime wedges (or lemon wedges) as well as sliced jalapenos. I would put them all in plus some Hoysin sauce, mix around a bit and mmmmm yummo! Anyway, there was none of that here. They gave me birdseye only. So the heat level was a lot higher but nothing else. Mmmmm... Come to think of it, there was no coriander either. The fresh spring rolls were lacking as well; not very tightly wrapped so they were falling apart. No peanut sauce either... I think I'll just move on... And so my quest for that magical bowl of pho continues...

Mr. Bean does the drums

Found this little clip of Rowan Atkinson doing air drums. I thought it was very cleverly done. He looks pretty young in this clip though.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Sonic was young...

 

 


Hedgehogs adapt brush as mother, or so the story goes. Thought it was real cute. Could it be possible? Maybe.
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Lunar eclipse

Well. I was hoping to see the lunar eclipse tonight. But I don't think it will be happening. I mean, it's all thanks to the typical Auckland weather. It is pissing down outside right now. Yeah. Good one.

Edit-
Apparently I missed out on it... I hear when it actually happened, the clouds were gone. I didn't bother go outside since it was pretty cold... Damn! Oh well. Just have to wait for another 7 years.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cat Hot Pot

I love cats. I'm allergic to them, and I cannot keep them at my poxy little apartment (feel sorry for them, really) but I would have if the circumstances were different. Anyway. Found this little movie on the net titled "Cat Hot Pot". Thought it was cute.

Friday, August 24, 2007

House of Pain

I went back to the Food Alley down in Albert St. This time, I wanted to try out the Indian food stall I read about. I read that the curry is excellent. So. I went ahead and ordered my favourite Lamb Vindaloo. The Sikh guy manning the cash register warned me that it's hot; but I thought he meant hot for Kiwi, I love hot food, and so casually dismissed the warning. Man, was I wrong! I found that out myself a little later. Anyway. After waiting for a couple of minutes, I had my dish and a garlic naan. The Vindaloo was tasty, but packed a wallop. First mouthful was like, wow, it's hotter than I thought. I thought ah oh after the second mouthful. The third mouthful made me cry a little; first time since I had that deep fried battered chili at Udupi Palace in Takoma Park, MD. It's been a long time since I had food that made me worried for the ring of burning fire day after. I managed to go through the food, sweating profusely. After eating the whole lot, my innards felt like slowly burning. I was breaking out cold sweat; definitely not a good sign. I'm afraid the next time I visit this stall, it will be of something weaker... Like butter chicken. I managed to stumble my way back home, but it was pain every step all the way.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gentlemen, start saving...

I certainly will be. Why? Because... D300 is now officially announced! It's been 3 years since I bought my current camera, D70. It's been good to me, but I have wanted to upgrade it for some time. I thought of getting a D200, but decided not to. Didn't really want to get neither D80 nor D40x because it's like staying at the same level as D70. So, I waited for a successor to the D200. After looking at the specs, I'd say the wait was well worth it, and justified. Now I just have to save up that much to get it... Probably some time next year. I hope.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Zoomin

I use Zoomin in my blog to show places I go; just like the entry on Bolliwood. But... Is it blocking Firefox? I seem to only be able to see and access the maps using IE. WTF?

Bolliwood (Ponsonby)

I was helping out a student and her partner move today. It was a pretty bad day for moving, since the weather was not so great, and got worse as the day went on. After picking me up, we went by the lab to do a couple of things, then got down to the business. We went to the student's place first to pick some bookshelves and such. Then we went out to get this fridge he bought off the net. Looked real grotty but supposedly work; you get what you paid for, as he paid less than NZD130... It needs a once over before it can enter the house I reckon. We dropped the whole lot at their new place, then we went out to Bolliwood in Ponsonby for a lunch.



This place had a remote controller thingy on the table; it has multiple buttons for functions, such as "order", "drinks", etc. It's for calling out to waiters. By pressing the button you want, I guess waiters know what you want. Anyway. I ordered a Lamb Vindaloo with rice, naan and a Coke. Food came out pretty quick, and Vindaloo was spicy, just like the way I like it. It's only 10 bucks but the guys I was helping out cover the cost. After the lunch, it was his partner's turn. We picked up stuff from her place then dumped them at their new place. We went back to the student's place to get the bed and some more stuff, while the partner tidied up the place a bit so that we can put the bed in. By this time though it started really piss down. We had to wait a moment or two before we could carry stuff from the van to the house. All in all, it didn't go too well, as both people weren't as prepared as they should have been. They probably should've sifted through what they owned, just choose what they really want and throw the rest out; moving is a good time to get rid of things. They also should have packed things up so that it would have been easier to move; last minute stuffing of things into large bags do not constitute packing... Oh well. Hopefully I won't be making the same mistake.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Oh Yucky Don



Doesn't "Oyako Don" sound like Oh Yucky Don, which totally means something else? At least somebody I once knew pronounced it that way...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Food Alley (Albert St)

I read about this place Food Alley down in Albert Street.



Reviews were mostly favourable, so I had to give it a go... Tonight! Well. I walked down from Grafton looking for this place in the city. I ended up walking down Hobson Street which was a mistake; should have gone down Queen Street instead... Anyway. I read that it's grotty; I'd say it's on the cleaner side of such joints, particularly compared to the ones on Queen Street. The food court was larger than I thought. It has two floors; supposedly upstairs is quieter. I didn't get to check that out since I was already excited about the range of food available downstairs. After walking in circles a few times, and wondering what I really should get (range of food available was pretty good) I chose to eat Chicken Laksa, and I was not disappointed. It's actually the best Laksa I've had here in the Land of Sheep (the best one ever has been the one served at the Asian Cafe, Canberra). The stock was the thickest I've ever had, and the spice on the high side which wasn't a bad thing. It was actually hot enough to make me cough and sweat, which is a very good sign (for me anyway). It didn't look pretty like the one from Asian Cafe, but who cares about that in a food court? As long as it tasted good and got plenty of it then that's all that mattered. I think I'll have to come back here often to try out other vendors too.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Before and After

I had an unexpected windfall (namely tax return). So... I decided to do a bit of an upgrade.



Before (21")



After (40")


Finally. It's nice to be looking at a TV larger than my computer screen... It's ridiculously more expensive to get this thing here than in the US or in Japan... The markup, I found, was more than 3 times when compared after exchange rate considered. It's incredible. I wish Amazon.com would send LCD TV to the Land of Sheep, but it didn't. So I ended up paying for the premium. Considering that transportation doesn't cost too much more to send stuff here, I say we are being ripped big time...

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Spartans vs. Otaku @Comic market

Only for those who can read Japanese. 300 Spartans stood against thousands of marauding Otaku...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Optimus Prime

I like Transformers... And this guy Dr. Smoov rocks...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bye Bye Amstel

So it's the last day of our stay in Amsterdam. We went out to NEMO as we have planned... To find out that it really is for kids. We thought we could use our resources in a better way by not going there. But first of all, we had to get a brekky in one big hurry. We were fading fast. We found this joint diagonally opposite to Centraal Station and ordered chicken sandwitches only to find out that they are blisterlingly spicy hot. I like hot food, but It was actually hot enough to be unpleasant. So we ended up hogging them down anyway, and decided to go through the flower market. It was interesting, but. The Land of Sheep limits importation of bulbs anyway. Clogs were too heavy to carry around. Souvenirs I'm not interested in. So we ended up not buying anything. At least the place smelled nice with all these flowers. We walked through shopping districts but again, we knew we could get better deals elsewhere and hence didn't buy anything. Crap we have more time to kill before we have to go to the airport. So, we headed out to the History Museum. The exhibits were interesting, and again lots of models... I think this one was better than some other museums we went. Probably we should have come here instead of some other ones; with I amsterdam card, this place would have been free... In the end we didn't have enough time to go through all the exhibits in depth. We headed back to our hotel to get our gear, hopped on train from RAI station to Schipol. We killed more time by going through the shops there. There are a few things I was tempted to get but I didn't as they are electronics, and since we are going through Hong Kong on the way, I figured that it might be cheaper over there. And here comes the end of our little trip to Amsterdam... It always makes me a little sad to leave a place after a travel. Especially a city I enjoyed visiting, like Amsterdam. It was a good stay, and some time in future, I'd love to visit again...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Den Haag is The Hague

We had a day off after our little fish meeting. I tried to book for this day excursion of Netherlands to go through Rotterdam and The Hague; I said tried, because I couldn't book... Well. The tour operator needs booking at least a day before. I thought I did that; on Sunday. Well. I guess the office was not open on Sunday. Probably we should have gone to the office near Dam ourselves to see... And I never got that confirmation email from them. Bugger. So, we decided to do it ourselves. I wanted to go to Den Haag because of its history. The place is not unlike Canberra; it is a city to carry out capital function. Except that this city is not the Capital; that's Amsterdam. I find it a little odd, but it's probably from historical reasons. The place was chosen for political purposes because it was a village without much power; just like Canberra. We went there by catching a train from RAI; we changed train at Leiden. It was a pretty quick and cheap trip; 40 minutes each way, about 16 Euros for a return trip. Not bad. What is it with the English language for changing city names? Munchen is Munich, Wien is Vienna and Den Haag is The Hague. Oh well. Anyway. When we got Den Haag, the first thing we tried to find was an information centre so we can start doing a bit of sightseeing. But there is none at the Centraal Station! WTF? It turned out that we had to walk about 10 minutes to get to one. I'd say... Make one at the station since that's where most of tourists and visitors come through. Unless you go there, you cannot even get a map of the city. So we went looking for this place. Once we got there, we found out that everything I mean absolutely everything you get charged for. What you get for free in Amsterdam costs you 2 Euros. WTF? Not even a simple street map to orient ourselves? We tried our best to find free information but to no avail. In the end we had to buy one so we can get to places, but... It turned out that most of places are closed on Monday. I dunnot why, but they are. Anyway. We went to the Hall of Knights (basically their Parliament) which was across the street from the visitor centre, but the tour is starting in an hour's time. We just checked out where Mauritshuis was, headed off to a nearby cafe and killed time. I had an ice tea, but... It was carbonated! Jeez! I'm just not used to something like this. The tour of the Parliament went well, it's always interesting to see other country's political system for a comparison; Dutch Parliament has two chambers, in Westminster fashion, and the Queen Beatrix is the reigning constitutional monarch. Apparently the new Parliament House was built for a walk-through, but with all the security scares in recent times, it's now closed off. What a shame, but a necessary measure I suppose. I forgot to ask which Parliamentary chamber is more powerful though; I found it fascinating that different countries have different ways in dealing with deadlocks in their respective Parliaments. In Japan and Britain, the Lower House can push through a bill. On the other hand, it cannot be in Australia. New Zealand has only one chamber so it doesn't matter. The US seems to have a little more complicated system but a bill that passed their Congress may still be vetoed by the President anyway. So I tried to look this up for Dutch but couldn't really figure out, but it seems that the lower house has more power, as usual in this style of legislature. Anyway. We went through Mauritshuis; really liked stuff there, especially Vermeer paintings. After a quick pick-me-up energy injection at a local cafe, we walked up to see the Palace; we didn't realize that we just passed it... It was really that small. Compared to what I'm used to, that is. Even Governor General's residence would be bigger... We continued our sightseeing by traveling up on a tram to get to the International Court of Justice. This was the reason why I wanted to come here, to take a look at this compound. What a disappointment though after finding out that we couldn't enter the grounds... Oh well. We continued our journey through the city by riding the tram yet again to get to the beach resort suburb of Scheveningen. Pronounced "sukebe ningen" in Japanese, I wanted to see what "perverted person" looked like. I didn't know that it was just a suburb in Den Haag until I came over here. It was... Well. Another let down, I'm afraid. The place really reminded me of Ocean City, MD. The beach, the Promenade, people, the sand, the whole works. Plus doggie do-dos all over the place. Bad weather didn't help either. We just took the tram back to the city, and did one final thing; search for that salty licorice our grad student asked for. We found one after rifling through a local supermarket. He'd better be happy with what we scored after all this fuss. In the end, we were out of steam, and just took the train back to RAI, and called it a day.

Blue Man Group

I'm a bit of a bore when it comes to entertainment; I'll be fine with what I have thank you very much. Anyway. I was catching up with Dr. A. Chitnis at the European fish meeting. He suggested we go out for this "Blue Man Group" show. Well. I'd never heard of it, but I decided to tag along... Ticket wasn't cheap, but I enjoyed the show. It's a 3-man percussion show; 3 men with their heads painted blue. It's about mocking rock concerts in a very clever, intelligent way. The show is pretty interactive I mean with the audience. I cannot describe it properly here as this would just lose the context, thus not funny, and most of all, I would be doing an injustice to the show... But it was very very well done. I immensely enjoyed it, and thanks Ajay for suggesting to go out for this show.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Last minute sightseeing

Before the conference began, we had another half-day for ourselves. And so... We went down to Molen van Sloten to see a Dutch windmill; apparently there were 10,000 of them, but now there are only about 1,000 remain. This was a working windmill to drive an Archimedes' wheel to pump water. With much of landmass under the sea level, Netherlands required an intricate network of windmills and their pumps to keep water pumped out of the land. It was a very interesting exhibit. One thing though; what's the go with the fascination with the miniatures and models? It seemed to me that everywhere we went, there were miniatures to demonstrate things, be that how windmills operated or in fact any other topics. We ran a little late, but thanks to the tram and the metro, we managed to get to the conference in... Well, missed a little bit, but managed to get there anyway.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sight seeing continues

We went out at 8AM this time; I made it on time. Today, we went up to the Botanical Garden to kill time to have a morning coffee. That was because... All the things we wanted see opened at 10AM. The Botanical Garden opened at 9AM, and conveniently located closely to the Dutch Resistant Museum. When the Germans occupied Netherlands in WWII, Dutch people organized resistance to the occupation. Initially it was more of bureaucratic bottleneck in nature; but as the time went by, the Dutch began to bother the Germans in a major way. It was a pretty moving exhibit as it showed the bravery in the face of adverse conditions. Our next stop was at The Hermitage Amsterdam; small travelling collection from The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in Russia. They were showing artistic works from Persian region this time around. Well. To be honest, I wasn't too impressed; I'm not really into carpets and pottery. After lunch, we went down to the Tropenmuseum (Anthropology museum). I like this kind of stuff, but there just wasn't enough time to explore them fully. Oh well. Pity that was, but better than not seeing it at all, I guess...

Sightseeing

We got out around 8:30AM to see things around. I was late for the meet; a bad start. Anyway. We went out to... Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt (The Night Watch was wonderful), Van Gogh museum (Sunflower was wonderful, and his re-take of Ukiyoes were great), then to the Heineken Experience. When got to the Heineken Experience though we found out that it's 11 Euros with 3 drinks; I knew I cannot handle it, and so did the other two people with me and so we gave up on it. Instead, we went onto the Diamond jeweler. Now I know what to ask for a diamond if and when I ever get to do that... In between, I managed to get a local SIM card for my mobile, and got the first ever taste of V. It was a good day.

Leaving the planning to men...

And head for a certain disaster. 3 of us from Auckland met up in a foreign land of Dykes. What a disastrous start. Two of us took a cab to the hotel believing that the cabs here take credit cards; most of them seem to display that. Turned out that this one didn't. So my colleague had to be driven around the place to get to a Geldmachine... Then got overcharged. In the end we paid 40 Euros or so. Meanwhile our student colleague took a train from the airport down to RAI and she ended up paying... Less than 4 Euros. Well. No more cab rides for us. We wandered around the city almost aimlessly until we got ourselves oriented. It was pretty easy in the end, just base orientation on the Central station and the hotel, plus a tram line that runs between RAI and the Central station. The lunch was pretty small serving and costed us 26 Euros for not much. We managed to get this I amsterdam card. This is a guide book coupled with a discount card and a ticket for public transport. You can choose the duration of the ticket between 24, 48 and 72 hours. We did a canal cruise tour and Rembrandthuis before the time is up for the day. And we stumbled in the red light district without realising... It was interesting to say the least, but the lady in the window was somebody's mom and the sight was something best forgotten. We saw lots of coffeehuises with that distinct aroma. It didn't interest me at all for some reason. Probably because we were so dead tired. Anyway. The day ended with meeting up with a colleague of my colleague for a beer. We again stumbled around the city trying to find some food and a watering hole. With much difficulty we did this... I ended up having smoked eel as an appetizer which is supposedly a local specialty. It was not half bad. Then I had fried monkfish as a main. For this it costed around 30 Euros... Definitely not cheap... Oh well. We managed to get to hotel in one piece, and hit the sack straight away. One thing for sure, the daylight was long! It was very strange for me to see that the sky is still not quite dark at 10:00PM.

Second leg

Well. Changi airport was a bit of a disappointment; I've been told that it has free wireless Internet from a reliable source, but I couldn't get access to it. Maybe they stopped providing the service. So we spent a couple of hours doing jack in the concourse then at the sports bar til the next flight on Lufthansa. When we got to the gate, another surprise. Yet another security screen! WTF? My seat was at the very last row of the plane, but the cabin attendant was kind enough to re-seat me on a nearby row that was not occupied. I think she got told off by her supervisor for doing this as I had an aisle seat but then again... I already had the seat by then. Anyway. I'm writing this on the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt as I don't have anything better to do at the mo. Personal entertainment is definitely lacking here. I guess it's a night flight, but. I caught some sleep, as the plane took off around 4AM AKL time. I didn't fully fall asleep, more of a toss and turn, dozing off kind but after 8 hours of this I'm sure I got some rest... They are playing some crap movie but I'd rather know where we might be flying...

300

Finally I got to see the movie 300. It's about Leonidas and 300 merry men from Sparta plus sidekicks defending the entire ancient Greece. I wanted to see it on the big screen but didn't get to do that... And it didn't do justice to watch it on this tiny screen on the back of the seat in front of me. Made things worse by having a shithouse pair of airline headphones. Aircraft rambling was terrible... I'll make sure I'll carry my noise-cancelling earphone on the way back. Because of an earlier mishap, it's checked in with the rest of my luggage. How unfortunate. Even then, at least I got to watch it. I thought it was pretty good. Quite gruesome, but the fighting scenes and the mob scenes were very well choreographed. Special effects were quite well done as well. Anyway. They turned off lights after the movie, and so... I turned my lights on. You know the overhead kind. Then somebody else's light came on. OMG, WTF? Thank goodness it's only the personal equipment that is miswired.

First leg

So I am writing this on the flight to Singapore. They have served the first meal, which was a seafood lasagna. SQ rocks; the meal ends with icecream. It's wonderful. But. When I was going through the immigration, they actually checked the weight of my carry-on baggage. This has never ever happened to me before. WTF? Could it be because I was using the max size carry-on luggage? Probably. In any case. I've never been stopped for it until today. I was told to check more stuff in, as I had more capacity left over... I actually had two bags inside my carry-on, I pulled out one then moved all expensivue stuff from the other bag and checked this in. Thank goodness they didn't charge extra for it... That was a bit of disaster. Anyway. In the heat of the moment, I forgot that I had my mobile in the carry-on luggage, and checked it in. I hope it will be alright. Damn.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Busy packing

I'm off to overseas tomorrow... And not quite ready yet. I've packed all the essentials. Still need to pack a few more items. The plan is to get to the AKL about 11AM tomorrow morning for a 2PM flight. I hope for a good trip but weather forecast says it will be raining for the first half of my stay and the bad weather continues until I leave... Oh well. I'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jazz is dead...

I went to see Transformers tonight. I guess I was wrong in my earlier blog entry about things getting here a lot later than in the US for this movie opened a whole whopping week earlier than in the US. I was really looking forward to see this movie even though some sites on the web were skeptical about it, and I can understand why. Michael Bay directed the movie; usually a bad sign. Pearl Harbour was a bit of a disaster, really. Optimus Prime is based on Peterbilt conventional rather than a cab-over. I guess that's something to do with the fact that this body style is not very common in the US for this class of trailer-truck these days. Optimus is sporting this flaming paintjob. What's the go with that? Bumblebee is a Camaro instead of a VW Beetle. I guess a Beetle was not sexy enough for this movie. Jim Phelps is promoted to run the DoD. The list goes on. But... It was a great surprise in a positive way if you don't nit pick. It was a great visual feast and wow the special effects! When I saw that first attack of army base by Blackout, I thought of MechWarrior for some reason... Maybe they can make a movie based on that franchise. Anyway. Even then there were things that bothered me... Aside from plot holes large enough drive tanks through (or should it be a Devastator?) Like the cube thingy that is supposed to give life to mechanical things kept producing evil beings presumably Decepticons. Is it the default mode? Could this mean that the cube thingy (called Allspark, apparently) was evil by default? Where is the trailer section of Optimus that forms his legs when he transforms to the robot? Starscream got an upgrade from F15 Eagle to F22 Raptor which wasn't entirely a bad thing. And the product placement... I didn't think Lockheed-Martin needed any as they are the only company in the US producing the latest fighter jets... And all the Autobots were GMs... I guess they need all the help they can get to regain that number one spot. Barricade was a Mustang... Mmm love to own that car. Anyway, here's some of highlights in the movie:

Earth 1 Megatron 0 (frozen by the North Pole)
Blackout 1 US Army 0 (Electromagnetic pulse)
US Air Force 1 Scorponok 0 (Avenger)
Bumblebee 1 Barricade 0 (too gruesome to be shown in the movie)
Megatron 1 Jazz 0 (RIPped apart)
US Army 1 Blackout 0 (Grenade in groin)
Optimus 0 Megatron 0 (drew just like in the animated series)
Sam 1 Megatron 0 (Allspark infusion)

All in all, humans didn't do too badly against a mechanical race supposedly far superior to us. But then again, it's only a movie, and just like any movie aiming for franchising, it left enough room for sequels; Decepticon carcasses and debris buried by sea, hoping for water pressure to finish them off... Yeah, sure.

So in the end Sam the main character gets the hot chick and a hot car for all his troubles. Good on him. Section 7 guys lose their jobs. And the life goes on on the Earth. Oh well.

Tetsujin

Whose bright idea was this? Mind you, as a hardcore geek, and since it happened to be in my old hometown, I'd love to go and visit. But... I just wonder who financed it...

Bummer

Auld mug stays in the Europe for the moment. Hopefully not for long. But seriously... Why should a country that doesn't have any coastline be eligible for a ocean yacht race...?

Monday, June 25, 2007

So full...

A bunch of us from the lab (pretty much all of us) went out for a farewell dinner for a senior research fellow and a technician tonight. We went out to Annabelles Restaurant in St. Heliers.



I've been here before when I got here; the bosses took me out here on the second night I got here with an arriving summer student from Germany. I knew the food would be excellent, and it did not disappoint tonight. I got a lift off from my fellow research fellow (bad academic writing since I'm repeating words but anyway) straight from the lab, and got there right on time. I had seafood chowder as an entree, rib eye fillet as a main then sticky dates pudding as a dessert. Excellent food it was. Serving size was pretty generous for an upmarket restaurant in St. Heliers, and I'm pretty much stuffed now. Thanks to the boss, the dinner was on him. He takes good care of us all. It's wonderful. Now I just have to get back to a bit more work... Before going to bed.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New bank account

I've finally saved enough money to open an account for investment. Yay! With the interest rate soaring in the Land of Sheep, I should strive to find better returns. I should be buying a house instead but I need the down payment. I am hoping to get there soonest. The average home price in this little town has skyrocketed thanks to holes in capital gains law in this country. Everyone's investing in properties, and I don't know if I ever own one at this rate (but then again, do I want a house here? Nah...).

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Farewell party

One of the senior research fellow is leaving the lab to have her own lab. So, we had a farewell party at her place. She asked us to bring some nibbles, and I made up some fried wings (2.5 kg of it!), celery sticks, baby carrots and blue cheese dip. The party was... Very 90s. The music, the crowd, everything. I could hardly hear what people were saying because of rather loud music. I prefer to have quiet conversations over quiet music while nursing a quiet one, really. They had two cats in the household. I love kitties but by the end of the night my allergy kicked in, and had real difficult time. Felt like real crap for the evening, but at least my food was well received.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NZ tax

Finally I got the NZ tax paper for FY 2006 done. It was a lot less complicated than the US one. I put it off long enough, but in the end got it done in around an hour or so. As I expected they taxed me too much; you get taxed straight off from the paycheck in this country. No "estimated tax" business like in the US. I guess the assumption was that I get paid this amount on the paycheck throughout the FY. I started this current job in the October last year, so essentially I worked only half the FY but got charged the tax as if I worked for the full year. So I'll get some money back for the last FY, but the current FY I guess I won't have anything back... Unless I spend money on non-reimbursed work-related expenses... Oh well.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shrek the Third

A bunch of us from the lab went out tonight for a dinner followed by a movie. I got picked up by a grad student and his girlfriend then we headed down the Botany Downs way on a highway. There were two more couples, and we all met up at this Na Na Thai restaurant. They had funny names for their dish that I've never seen in a Thai restaurant. I had a "3 Alcoholics" dish with "hot"; you can specify spiciness. We shared around our dish, and it was all pretty good. Maybe I will ask for hot2 next time. Then down to the Botany Town Centre for tonight's entertainment; Shrek the Third. It was on at the Berkeley Cinema with a "Sumo" screen; just a very large screen. I wonder if it's any bigger than the one in Tuggeranong. Anyway. I enjoyed it very much. It's nice to go out once in a while like this...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Clean sweep

Congrats to Team NZ for winning the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series by clean sweeping the Luna Rossa. They will be challenging the Alinghi. Team NZ looked strong throughout the Challenger Series, and they might pull it off at this rate... The revenge will be sweet. Now I'd better hit the sack.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bombermen

I know the life in The Land of Sheep can be boring. Very Boring. But... According to this news article a couple of Kiwi cities came out the top of the world. For Googling the bomb manufacturing. I guess they had nothing better to do so... Let's blow things up... Sheesh.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A tragedy

Well. A power company cuts off power after a family didn't keep up the payment. As a result a woman on an oxygen generator died. What a tragedy. For what, NZ$170 or so. So much for a Kiwi generosity. The company is claiming it didn't know the medical condition of the woman and the family says otherwise. I blame it on a probable and unfortunate miscommunication between the two parties involved. The family asked the contractors not to do it, but the contractors were just doing their job. I'd imagine if they didn't do their job, it would be their job that would've been on the line. Maybe the family should've contacted the power company a lot earlier, perhaps? When I moved in at my place, within a couple of days I got 2 or 3 letters from the power company to establish an account with them and pay up, or else the power would be cut off. I'd imagine the family would have received letters also. Maybe they could've contacted the company in writing, leaving paper traces all over to cover the tracks. Telling contractors what is happening is not the same as informing the company... They needed to go a little higher in advance to get anything done. Especially when they were late in payment for the bill. But the media here is blowing up the story as usual, they really love the sensationalism. They were quick in blaming everything on the "big bad corporation", hopping on the bandwagon. So much for the neutrality of the media. I'd really like to know all the facts and what really happened without the dumb commentaries... Maybe I'm expecting too much from the media here. They would do anything to sell their publications. Anyway. The fact as far as I can tell is that a woman died, and this probably could have been avoided. Something like this leaves sour taste in everyone's mouth...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Consistency

Consistency is important. Yes. In order to have any coherence in the social structure, we need to have it. So it is important. The other day, I was watching telly; Cartoon Network on Sky. It said something about a show called Ben 10. It was claiming "All new". I had a strange sense of deja vu. Now, where did I see this? Oh yeah, back in the US, about a year ago. I thought it might be a new series of Ben 10... But it doesn't look that way. Yawn.

Also the other day (different from the above mentioned "the other day"), I saw this item, and just had to get one. I was looking for it since I left the US, but just couldn't find it. I got it about a year ago, soon after it came out, but when I left the US, I left it there.



A vibrating razor with 6 blades; 5 in the front, one in the back. I remember as a kid when two blades razor came out; it was touting the closest shave ever. It never changes. It's still claiming the closest shave ever. Then Gillette Mach3 with 3 blades then the Schick Quattro with 4 blades came. I remember old "The Late Show" skit where they produced a 10+ blades shaver. Some blades were there for "tickling beard to get in the mood", "completing paperwork" and of course "just for the ride" (after writing all this down, I found a YouTube clip for this... Just wonderful, this Internet truly is). I saw this Gizmodo analysis on the blade number; I thought it was hilarious. At this rate, we'll be producing that version in no time. I guess with each iteration, it gets better and better; we'll be scraping our skin off the chin pretty soon at this rate. Anyway, so finally it got here. About a year after its launch in the US. Yeah, I see a consistency here; things arriving to the land of sheep after a year gap. Just wonderful. But then again, maybe I should be thankful that it at least managed to get here.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Aaargh!

So busy! No time to do anything! Had to do PG teaching... Had to do some reports... Have to write up a grant proposal... When do I get to do my own work? OTH heard a good news or two today so that made my day. Before I knew it though the day's about to end. Sheesh.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More brisket roast

When I saw some brisket stocked at the usual Chinese poultry shop (in Newmarket), I had to get some... I got 2 kg of this stuff and went home to prepare it...



It got rubbed all over with liquid smoke oil (from Zarbo, Newmarket), dried garlic powder and dried onion chips then sealed in foil and spent the night in the fridge. This was before I started preparing for the dinner party last night.

Next day, I sprinkled some salt, black pepper and paprika on it then it went into the oven at about 150 degrees Celsius and spent some time (like 6 hours) there.

And this is the result. Looks wonderful, pretty tender, and tasted even better. Slow cooking rocks (for this type of dish).
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dinner party

I got invited to a dinner party. We were to watch a DVD, and since I was asked to make an appetizer, I made buffalo wings. I got the ingredients from the usual Chinese poultry shop in Newmarket and the rest from Foodtown. I just followed this recipe to make them. Good thing I have a deep fryer; it always comes in handy for any deep frying dish. I also made some blue cheese dip to go with the celery sticks and baby carrots. The dip came out a lot better than I expected it to be. It was wonderful though I went a little easy on the amount of butter to be used in the wings. The other couple that was invited made the main (lasagna) while the couple invited us made salad, vegies (baked mushrooms and tomatoes) and dessert (poached pear with custard). We had an intermission during the movie to have the dessert. We watched the movie "Saw". I thought it was going to be a lot more gory, but it came out just right. The movie was very engaging, and we all enjoyed it. We should organize another party like this... To watch the sequels.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Orange cake


Well. I just felt like making one... Got two oranges and made marmalade last night. Just peeled the oranges, removed all the white bits (called pith, I heard), chopped up pulp, sliced up peels (after removing all white stuff from the back) and cooked the whole lot in a cup of water with a cup of sugar for 15 minutes on the simmer then added and 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier and cooked for another minute or so. Cooled down to room temp, transferred to a plastic box and rested for overnight in a fridge. Then I made the cake by following the usual banana bread recipe, except for subbing the banana with the marmalade, and added more Grand Marnier to the batter. I'm a little disappointed that it didn't rise as much as I hoped it would... Must be my mixing technique. Anyway. After it came out of oven, it got doused with more Grand Marnier (just 3 table spoons though), smeared with the marmalade then dusted with icing sugar. I went overjealous with dusting, but I'm sure it's okay. I'll rest it overnight before bringing it to the lab. I hope they will like it.
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Crawlies


I heard this rustling noise overhead... Must be a bug, I thought. What could it be? A beetle, maybe? I hoped it wasn't a wasp like a while back... That was a bit of a mess. Anyway. I looked up to see this. A praying mantis. I didn't realize we had these guys in the Land of Sheep. Last time I saw one of this kind was back in the US almost a year ago. How time flies...
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Buddha

Which God or Goddess are you like?
Your Result: Budha
 

You are Budha. You are a very peaceful person, you love all who love you. You are a cheerful personality, and you have a great sense of humor. Congratulations!! You are Budha!!

God Zeus
 
The Christian God
 
Jesus
 
Goddess Sekhemet
 
Goddess Bast
 
You are your own God or Goddess
 
Satan
 
Which God or Goddess are you like?
Make Your Own Quiz


Good to see my Zeusness is pretty high.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

User ratings and feedbacks

While I was reading some articles on Google Reader, I saw this article about Aussie equivalent of Great Firewall of China. The argument for installing such a behemoth that is totally against the Aussie ethos IMHO was put forward by a teachers' union's boss to block an online teachers' rating site. OMG that was a long winded sentence, would've failed a scientific writing class.

Anyway. as pointed out by some in this Slashdot article, if they didn't want it to be noticed, they should've kept the mouth shut and ignored the site. But since they made noise about it, it got the attention of media, and down the road people like myself got to find it. I took a look at it, and sure enough, the school I attended was there... But obviously I don't know where my teachers are now (it's been 16 years since I left school; wow that's a long time) and so I can't even comment on that.

Anyway. I personally don't think it's such a bad idea. There are other sites to rate services you have received... Like Epinions. So why not rate your educator? You could even applaud teachers that are doing good work. However I can see a danger or two in this sort of site/system, like harming reputation of competent teachers through defamation, anonymous rating could be irresponsible, and so on. But it certainly is not enough to turn ourselves into self-censoring clueless mobs IMHO. Filter out (in you own mind) if you don't like it.

Cats

I love cats. Even though I'm allergic to them. I would've kept one if I was living in a house; they need space to roam. Anyway. I stumbled upon a Japanese site that choose a kitty cat pic for you according to your name (or any other things you can think of). According to this site, matching kitty's picture is this.

「mikimoto2k」のにゃんにゃん分析結果



猫画像の占い

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tax return

This time it's for the income earned in the Land of Sheep. Even though I've been here only a day over 7 months... I got an envelope from Inland Revenue today. It's the NZ equivalent to IRS. I just quickly browsed it through, and it looks a lot less complicated compared to the US equivalent. No separate Federal/State/local taxes. Thank goodness for that. And the paperwork is personalized... Well. Starting with the name, the address and even the landline number. I guess the Big Brother is really watching you. Further examination however revealed that... Well... I need to get a Form 1042S equivalent by actually requesting it. I don't know if they send it out as a default. What a pain in the butt. I've signed up on their website so that I can look at it online; after they send out a letter. I guess it will take a few days for it to get here; so it will be next week at the earliest. Meanwhile I will be procrastinating.

And I thought there was NO personal tax paperwork in this country, according to a colleague at work. I guess he was wrong. I've just done the US tax paperwork though... What a hassle.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

And the Aussies are

The World Champions. 3 times in a row. Yay Australila. Bugger I didn't get to watch the match. Maybe it's time for me to get that Sky Sport package?

Friday, April 27, 2007

GI

I felt really sick last night... Couple of hours after I went to bed, I woke up with nausea. Shite, I thought... Then basically torrents of fluid coming out of me from both ends. I was shivering hours afterwards and couldn't sleep much at all. Even then I had to come in to work to supervise my techs. I didn't know what it was until I talked to a colleague; it's gastro. I've never had it before, and obviously I didn't realize what it was. Anyway. It was not a very pleasant experience at all. It must have been the salad I ate last night... Damn.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And Australia is

In the finals of the World Cup. No not this kind or that kind. This one. When they got wiped out at recent Chappell-Hadlee series against Blackcaps I thought they weren't going this far... But they came through. All the best for them in the final against Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ANZAC day

ANZAC day is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand. Supposedly it's a day to commemorate the defeat at Gallipoli in Turkey. Back in WWI British sent Australians and New Zealanders over to storm the beach of Gallipoli. Unfortunately Turkish and Germans were defending the area well, and Aussies and Kiwis had to withdraw in the end. First time I learned of this day, I found it a little strange. Why commemorate the biggest defeat in your national history? Wouldn't you rather forget? Then I found out the significance of the day. Well, sort of. I was told by my friends jokingly not to tell I was a Japanese to a stranger on this day, for the fear of physical harm. JK. Of course the day is for remembrance for those who were lost in wars. Anyway. I saw it on telly the other day that more and more younger generation of people visit Gallipoli on this day. Pilgrimage, they call it. I don't know... To me it looked so manufactured, looked like just another "trendy" thing to do, hopping on a bandwagon. Sure, it could've started as a "paying respect" thing, but now the media is fanning the flame for all their worth. Who's leading that, I don't know. It's important not to forget, but it's also important to know when to let go...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ants

Bloody ants. Where did they come from? When I got home, I thought I saw something moving in my kitchen section... I didn't realize what it was until I looked at it closely. Ants. Yeah. Bloody ants. It's getting cold out there, and could they have sought a shelter in my home? Is it from my neighbour? I didn't see trails of them so I couldn't tell where they could come from. No matter, I didn't care. I squashed all the ones I could see, washed up whatever dirty dish I had in my sink, washed up the sink itself, stored all my food in the fridge and sprayed whatever I could within reason (I hate insecticide). Hopefully that contained the creepy crawlies. I'll go out there to buy more chemical weapon to fight these little nasty buggers tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Something hearty

It's getting a little chilly in the evening, and I felt like something hearty. What am I in a mood for...? Well. I just felt like having some pot roast. I mostly followed this recipe. I got my beef brisket from the usual Chinese butcher in Newmarket. I also got some potatoes and carrots to go from the neighbouring Chinese grocer. After getting home however, I realized that I didn't have some ingredients (namely parsnips and some herbs). So... I just went ahead cooking without them. I also subbed water called in the recipe with white wine (would've preferred red but). After cooking the brisket for almost 5 hours, I took the meat out (falling apart into pieces just by lifting it) and attempted to carve.





Potatoes and carrots came out very juicy, and the meat very tender. It was certainly hearty, and was pretty good. Looks like I'll be eating the rest of it for a while... Maybe I shouldn't have cooked 2 kg of beef. But no regrets though!
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Things you cannot get in the US

Things you cannot get in the US but can in the Land of the Sheep... Hmmmm. Are there anything? There are things you cannot get here but can in the US. Lots and lots of them. But in reverse? Hmmmm. Lemme think... Hmmmm... I know! I got it! It's... This!










Yeah! A refill for a toilet bowl cleaner! I don't know the current situation, but during my 5 years of stay in the US, I could never find one of these. I had to get the one with the holder all the time. What a waste of plastic. But then again, they probably didn't want to touch the holder that might be... Well... Splashed around.
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