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Saturday, March 31, 2007

US Tax paperwork. The saga continues.

My form 1099-INT is finally here. It didn't get lost in the mail thank goodness. I can finally finish off that thing. The bad news is... US tax paperwork is due on April 2nd... Oh well. I guess they will be receiving it a little later. Better late than never.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Crap weather

Before I came to Auckland... My friend Paul warned me of this. I'd get to see a lot of rain. He was not joking though I thought he was at the time... It was particularly bad today, pouring rain and gusty wind. A wonderful combo. Good thing all my boots are Gore-Tex lined. I almost put my rain pants on as well. Anyway. I'm getting a bad headache, and I think I'm calling it a day.

Monday, March 26, 2007

That little green monster

And no, I'm not talking about Oscar. I'm talking about Gachapin, the green juvenile dinosaur from "Southern Island" who is condemned to be forever 5 years old, featured on "Hirake Ponkikki", a TV program aimed at little children. I knew that this character was doing all sorts of antics like karate, rock climbing, motor racing and also went to the space on a Soyuz (for real!). I saw him doing figure skating today, and was laughing my head off. Not bad for a 5 years old... Not bad at all. And his sidekick Mukku (used to be an apprentice of Gachapin) reminds me of... Dr. AC. The hair, the voice and the over-action all sort of caricaturing the fellow...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stuffed and deep fried chicken wing

















I saw this on the web, and thought it looked yum. So, as usual I gave it a go on impulse. I got all my ingredients from this cluster of Chinese shops I frequent in Newmarket. To make these yummy looking things, I just followed the instructions except for some ingredients; subbed chinese cabbage on the recipe with just an ordinary cabbage, and added chopped chives. After struggling to remove the bones, I stuffed the stuffing, closed down the opening with toothpicks, smothered the whole thing in corn flour then deep fried them. Good thing I have a deep frier. It comes in handy all the time when I have to do a deep frying action. Keeps the mess within the handy device. I never thought they would expand like that while being fried though. Bits and pieces came out of the chicken wing "sack" but mostly stayed in one piece. After draining fat on a wad of kitchen paper, it got served like shown above, and it tasted pretty good (if I may say so myself). Anyway. The rest of the stuffing became a part of wonton soup on a later day. Wonton skin is such a versatile thing to keep in the freezer... But that's another story.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scored!









I went to the city in search of a book on Filemaker Pro. I need a little help with some problems I am having with the databases I created, and thought I might be able to find some good books on the subject. I went through all the major bookshops in the city; Dymocks, Whitcoulls and Borders. But no, there weren't any books on Filemaker. How sad is this? There were plenty of books on Access, MySQL, Oracle and so on, but they are not too useful to me for solving Filemaker problems. Well. Anyway, when I was walking up and down the Queen Street, I was handed the above items. Quick-eze
is an antacid made by Nestle. I thought it was amusing to think that maybe we all need it to neutralize whatever problems might be caused by other products from the same company... Handing out solutions while dishing out problems. I was handed 5 of them by 3 people. Maybe they wanted to get them off their hands so they can go have some lunch (it was about the right time). I also got myself a nice belated birthday present for myself, but I think I'll talk about it some other time...


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Friday, March 23, 2007

Tax time

I've just received a Form 1042-S. Yeah, it's time to do the tax paperwork for 2006. I should have received it a long time ago, but it went around places before it got to me, so I guess that's why it has taken this long... Anyway. I haven't received the Form 1099-INT yet, so I cannot quite complete the paperwork... I've requested one to be sent to me directly, and hopefully it will be here before too long.

When I looked at my 1042-S, the first thing I noticed was how little they withheld for the federal tax. Dollar to dollar, they are withholding about 3 times as much in this country... It's incredible. No wonder why my bank account feels empty... Another thing about tax paperwork... It's pretty obvious when you think about it, but I didn't think... Taxation systems are different in different countries. Back in Australia, I did one paperwork covering all taxation needs. In the US, you do separate paperworks for the federal tax and the combined state and local taxes. Here in NZ I've been told that you don't do much of paperwork at all. I guess I'll get to see that when the time comes. I just wonder though... What would you do if you spent some money that is job related yet not reimbursed? Surely that'll mean something for the tax paperwork?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Even more thing to cheer about

I just got a word from my good friend and colleague Dr. KT that he's getting married. He is getting married to Dr. RY. I've known both of the for a while; I'm sure they are good for each other. Anyway. Warm congrats to both of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Something to cheer about

Got a great news from my good friends Dr. N and his wife Mrs. CC. They are now proud parents of twin boys. Congrats to both of them, and wishing them many happy delightful years ahead with the kids. Then does it mean I'll be called an "uncle" by them next time I visit them? Hmmm. What a thought.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

That time of the year again

Yeah. It's that time of the year again. I just got older by one year. Yay. Great. I baked two cakes for the people in the lab; a baked cheesecake and a chocolate cake. The cheesecake was good. I couldn't find graham cracker base that I used to use in the US, so I substituted it with ready-made frozen sweet dough and baked it using a normal cake tin. The chocolate cake on the other hand was a disaster. It was gluten-free, I made it for a girl who's allergic to gluten. I got a gluten-free baking mix and substituted it for flour... Then when I started baking, I noticed that it was rising a lot more than I expected it to. It rose so much that it was oozing out of the cake tin! After it was done cooking, I let it cool... Then found out that it imploded on me. Yeah. the middle part caved in. I had to wrap the monster up in Gladwrap to keep it from falling apart. Okay, it looked horrible, but what about the taste? I tasted a bit, and... I don't think I want to have a second bite. I think it will have a one way trip to the bin. I apologized to the said girl for the appearance, but I think I'll need to apologize to her again for the taste. My colleague who shares the office with me brought in an orange cake, and that was pretty good. So for all of us we had 3 cakes (well 2 really) and there was enough to go around, which was good. I hate to see people go hungry.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

End of summer time

It's the end of summer time here in the land of sheep. I knew it was coming because the sun was setting a lot earlier than before... And the clock is back by an hour without me realizing it (just saw it on my computer) but really... Where was my summer? I mean, it was so cold! Almost every day I end up wearing a vest or even a jacket. I like cold and hate hot, so it's okay... But then again. It's nice I didn't have to have an AC for the first time in many years, and it's nice that temperature felt like it never went over 30 degrees, but... I hate to think of winter, if it's this cold in summer.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Paddy's

I should be out there nursing a Guiness... But nah, I'm out of steam and deciding whether to do a Kilkenny or not...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Back in NZ

After spending a few days in the land of OZ, I'm finally back in the land of sheep. 4 of us went down to Geelong, Victoria, for the 8th Australia and New Zealand Zebrafish workshop. It was good to be back in my home country as I don't get to do that often. I thought Geelong was an inland and landlocked city, but boy how wrong was I! Anyway. I flew out on Monday morning at 7:30AM Qantas flight to Tullamarine. That meant I had to get to AKL by 5:30AM. I got there around 5AM just in case... And I was glad that I got there that early. There were 15 check-in counters, and 2 were manned. Great. As the time went on, that number went up by 3, making the total to whopping 5. It took 45 minutes for me to check in. 2 of us were on the Qantas flight, and the other two were on the Air NZ flight. We met up after the immigration to have a brekkie. I had a chicken and brie panini and a Coke Zero... For 10 bucks. Thank goodness I'll be reimbursed for it, I thought. Our flight was smooth and uneventful. We were on a 747 which was surprising to me. I tried to catch as much sleep as possible and I managed to sleep almost all the way; fell asleep before take off and woke up just before landing. Awoke just once, enough to eat served brekkie. After landing at Tullamarine, some of us were going to go into Melbourne. The plan was to take a Skybus into the city, hang around then catch a train from Southern Cross Station to Geelong... But I got too lazy and we all decided to take a direct shuttle to Geelong, operated by Gull. After driving through a typical dry Australian landscape, we were dropped off at the Geelong railroad station. It was a stark contrast to what I see in Auckland, which is lush green. We thought there was a shuttle service from the station to the conference centre, but wasn't after all. We had to take a cab instead. The cab went through the major street of the town, to the botanic garden then to the conference centre. This conference centre, Geelong Conference Centre, is owned by Salvo. Yeah. It has all the amenities including swimming pool, pool tables and others, conference theatre was pretty good and the room was acceptable. One thing that was lacking was the Internet access that was supposedly available from each room... Anyway. We ventured out to get lunch. We trekked about half an hour to get to the nearest food. By the time we came back, I was exhausted, and had to take a nap before the first session... We had a plenary speaker from UK; Derek Stemple from Sanger Institute. We've published a paper together a while back, but it was the first time for me to meet the fellow. He was very nice, put in effort to meet people at the meeting and was impressive in his talks. He talked about muscle development as well as TILLING/Genome project stuff. Anyway. After the first session, we had a dinner at the conference centre. It was very good... Choice of a steak or a knuckle. I had the knuckle. After dinner, we had a mixer. But conference centre being operated by the Salvo, you can't have any alcohol on its ground. So. It was to be off site. Fine, I thought. We were told that it's 15 minutes or so walk away. Mmm strange, I thought. Took us 30 min walk to get to the nearest food in the daylight. But I put that thought behind and we all started walking... In the dark. Yeah. In pitch black dark. The conference centre is located in the botanical garden, and hence there was no illumination. We stumbled around and a tad bit more than 30 min later, we got to our watering hall. I got to meet a few people, but we were knackered and so called it a night after a couple of drinks. Second day went by without much happenings. I gave a talk at the very beginning of the day, it didn't go as well as I hoped because I was a little rusty. But I think I delivered what I wanted to deliver. In the end, I managed to get through the day to the end without much trouble. We went downtown for a conference dinner at the performing arts theatre. Everyone behaved (surprisingly) and didn't go out of control. I'm more used to seeing people getting too rowdy at these outings, but I guess having such a small crowd in which everybody knows everybody, you couldn't risk doing something too stupid. I had chicken thigh for a main and a glass of local shiraz. Third and the final day went by, nothing too exciting happened. After lunch, 3 of us managed to get a lift to Melbourne. We wanted to look around bookshops but basically didn't have enough time to do that. So instead we got to go to Myer, browse through then have some coffee. After that, we just took a cab down to the airport. We planned to take the Skybus but got too lazy yet again. The Qantas counter was again manned by two people... What's the deal here? Is Qantas trying to cut services without cutting the price? If so, they are doing a great job. I was watching and noticed that Air NZ was processing their queue so much faster. And it still is so much more expensive to fly Qantas or Air NZ compared to any of the US carriers, with probably not much better service at all. Enough bitching already. The flight back home was again smooth, except for an annoying fellow passenger sitting next to me digging his elbow into my ribcage a few times. What's the go with people who think that arm rest between two seats is theirs? Anyway. I got out of AKL about 1:30AM after going through customs and whatnot, and got home about 2:15AM. It took some more time than usual since I was sharing a cab ride. After getting home, I managed to grab something to eat from the fridge, and went straight to bed. Needless to say... I didn't go to work next morning.