Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs is a resort village with some geothermal pools and heaps of mountains about 2 hours' drive from Christchurch. One of the international interns at the lab had a bright idea to hint Katy, HITLab's own Wonder Woman, that he would like to see the place before leaving NZ, and five minutes later: house, you got rented. (a 4-bedroom house with a modern kitchen, separate fireplace room, pool table fitted garage and excellent view all around costs little more than 100 euros per day, everything included, and even less for longer-term lease.)

It's a pretty place for sure.

Me, Greg and a brisk walk up a hill to see some views.

Even cheap beer tastes nice outside.

Stayed there for one night, spent the evening soaking ourselves in 40-degree pools that smelled of rotten eggs. Couldn't bring my camera into all that steam, but this should give an idea of what the place is like (okay, so sans the snow other than on the mountain tops). All and all, I quite liked the village and things it offered. The place is like Queenstown without the brutally numerous tourists, and even though they offer plenty to do to the adrenaline junkies, it's quite possible to enjoy a few days' of calm, as well. Plus it's not quite as ridiculously expensive a place.

It's Monday. On Saturday I'll fly over to Australia. My time here is really getting short...

However, movies:

Went to see the new Harry Potter last week. Still not interested in the series. The whole movie was like a 2.5-hour collection of fan service (not that kind of fan service), the characters doing this and that, but the story not really going anywhere. If your dreams at night frequently involve any of the HP characters, you'll probably like it. Otherwise, very meh. (**)

Tonight I'll go see Drag Me to Hell, as it finally came to theaters over here. This is probably the first movie after Watchmen this year that I have any kind of expectations for, since people are calling it Sam Raimi's return to form after all those crappy Spiderman flicks. Lessee.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Home, Sweet and Sour Home

It's a good thing that I have a comfortable sofa, because I've been spending a lot of time on it.

Right now I still have 19 days left in New Zealand, and I'm trying to make most of it -- work-wise. For a week now I've been playing home office, partly because I can save more than 2 hours per day by not commuting between this place and my office, partly because I can, and partly because of the swine flu.

Because I can: Little by little my day rhythm has migrated so that today I went to sleep around 9 o'clock in the morning and got up around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Someone might ask, why am I doing this, why am I denying myself the sunlight? Got bitten by a bloodsucker? It's for two reasons, really. 

For one, I'm tired of having to listen to music quite so loud on my headphones to block away the background noise in the office. Some of the international crowd I'm holed up with just loves engaging in such sports as frequent hour-long skype/phone calls at their desks, or if that fails, listening to crappy music and singing along with it. I'm too much of a wuss to tell them to shut the fuck up, so I'll just stay home.

For two, this way I can stay in touch with the people I know online, as they tend to be awake, when the sun is radiating their side of the planet. From my point of view Finland and rest of Europe are up from 6pm to 9am the next morning, and America comes along a few hours after the sunset here. I sit on my sofa programming and chatting all night. That is what I do these da^H^Hnights. Through my internet connection I breath. Not a terribly social way of living, I realize, but chatting people up in a bar over a drink after another gets old quickly, and the girls don't look nearly as pretty as I thought they did, come the next morning.

Because of swine flu: It's making its rounds here and the number of infected people is approaching the figures required for truly exponential infection rates. Not terribly worried about it -- it's just a damn influenza -- but if I catch it, it'll make my life a bit difficult, as I'm supposed to spend a couple of weeks in Australia starting the beginning of August, and going there with any sort of flu would land me in an instant quarantine. Especially troublesome, since my flight to Finland leaves from Sydney on 16th of August.

One of my colleagues actually told me that his entire family got the flu, and he was the only healthy one *cough*, and how *sneeze* he had to be careful around the house *cough* those days to not to get it himself. Don't you just hate those martyr types, who come to work no matter how sick they are?

So, home office it is.

It'll be nice to move on soon, though. Next time I move to work abroad like this, I hope it'll be with someone, not alone. Gets boring.

Next up, Australia - plans, experiences, pictures!