Adventures with Rice Cookers


One of the staples appliances in any Japanese kitchen is the humble rice cooker. At any traditional Japanese meal rice goes without saying and likely comes without asking; as a result every kitchen needs a way to produce it quickly and conveniently. Your standard configuration rice cooker is basically a bowl, a heat source, and a thermostat – the thermostat regulates the heat and turns the cooker off when the cooking is done. So far, so good. But throughout the ages, inquisitive minds have wondered if this humble appliance can be used for greater things…

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Really That Bad? Mirage of Blaze

Mirage of Blaze title


You voted, we watched. This is the first instalment of what will likely be a series of articles conversations between Artemis and I about anime that have, for whatever reason, been deemed as worthy contenders for the title of Worst Anime of All Time.

To be clear, the aim here isn’t simply to bash unpopular anime but instead to have a genuine (yet hopefully still entertaining) discussion about what makes any given show work/not work, and whether or not it’s deserving of such condemnation. For this reason, we’ll be striving to look at each anime on its own terms and not comparing it with any other title, regardless of any similarities or associations. So sit back, enjoy, and feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions in the comments.


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Nanami and the Five Whys


One of the best things about teaching in Japan was that most of my students were quite young. Most of them hadn’t developed the reserve that Japanese people are known for, and once they got to know you they were often curious about the strange foreigner who looked and acted so differently. It was also amazing what you could learn from them, if you were paying attention: Honoka had beautiful manners, Rikuto taught me some useful phrases, and Koki-kun showed how to stand up for what was right. Nanami, on the other hand, taught me how to trouble-shoot procedures in business.

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Summer is officially over here in NZ, and we are starting to see the first truly autumnal weather of the year. As some readers will be aware, the pace of work has very much increased over the last few weeks, making it increasingly difficult to maintain this blog. Accordingly I am placing it on temporary hiatus. Hopefully things will stabilise in the next few weeks and regular service will resume after April.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and support, and I look forward to bringing fresh content soon!

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Warfighter: Middle Earth

This article does two things. Firstly, it shows the sort of academic language professional military people use. Secondly, it takes Tolkien in a direction I (or he, probably) had never expected.

The Angry Staff Officer

When I think of the six warfighting functions I always think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

What, you don’t?

Let’s be honest, one does not immediately think of fantasy or science fiction when conversations turn to Army doctrine. Most vignettes that are used to make the subject understandable to the lowly minds of company grade officers are either historical or situational. And while there is nothing wrong with this technique, are we perhaps overlooking a missed opportunity for providing a broader understanding of our doctrine?

Bear with me here.

Most of you know of my affinity for all things Star Wars, and how – as a military conflict with socio-economic and political undertones – it can actually be used to make doctrinal concepts more relatable to the average Soldier. Star Wars also has the benefit of being a significant part of American culture – more…

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Tastes of NZ


Way back in the mists of time, I wrote a couple of articles about both convenience foods and drinks that you might encounter in Japan. It’s been almost a year since I arrived back in NZ, but for some reason it has only just occurred to me that there might be ‘tastes of New Zealand’ which are not instantly familiar to overseas readers. In order to rectify that omission I went out and taste-tested several drinks which are Kiwi classics (and a couple which are not-so-classic). What do New Zealanders drink?

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2016 Stats


2016 is now receding behind us, and many of us have breathed a sigh of relief that the flaming toilet-bowl of a year is now comfortably over. With the recent inauguration of President Trump (or, as seems disturbingly possible, America’s last president) there are also many people who are casting nervous glances ahead. Still, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. WordPress, in the meantime, has decided not to send out summaries of annual activity, but I’ve put one together anyway (you’re welcome). So, what was 2016 really like..?

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Watson Watches: Retro Wrap-up Party



The time has come again – one year and six anime titles later and it’s time to wrap up the (retro) Watson Watches series. In this final post of the project, we look back on the shows I was forced requested to take a look at, and hopefully come to a few general conclusions based on my experiences. As a quick reminder, here are the specific shows Artemis chose for me over the course of these articles, starting from the late 90s and working our way backwards: Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, Sailor Moon, Ranma ½, Dragon Ball, and Rose of Versailles.

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Sunshine Blogger Award


Having recently been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Artemis, this week’s post will be on that subject. To be nominated for an award like this is a great honour, and it has left me feeling tremendously bucked up (which is several letters away from how I usually feel). So thank you for the nomination, and now let’s get to work.

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Watson Watches: Rose of Versailles


Welcome to the sixth and final main article of Watson Watches (the Retro Edition)! For anyone who’s just joined us and has no idea what’s happening, this is the follow-up to a series of interview-style articles published in 2014. The idea then was to expose me – who at that point was totally new to anime – to some specific titles and then ask me some hopefully interesting questions about them. The main difference this time around is that the shows Artemis has been getting me to watch were all released before 2000.

Just for fun, we’ve also been doing this in reverse-chronological order. Previously we tackled 1986’s Dragon Ball and for our last show, we’re going back further in time with Rose of Versailles, first released in anime form in 1979. As always, I  watched everything on my own without looking anything up, and the following questions were given to me afterwards.

Note: Although this is the last specific show to be discussed in this Watson Watches series, there will be one more post next month to wrap things up. We’ll be discussing my overall experiences with these older shows and how my opinions regarding anime as a whole may have changed as a result, so stay tuned!

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