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Mikimoto was here.

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.