Friday, 20 December 2013

Write an article for Imaginary Realities, volume 6, issue 1

Are you involved with text-based gaming?  If so, whether your involvement is in mudding, roguelikes, interactive fiction, gamebooks, browser games or maybe even something else, please consider writing an article for Imaginary Realities.

Imaginary Realities is an online journal which originally ran from September 1998 to December 2001, primarily focused on mudding.  It has been revived, and had published a new issue just recently, which you can find here:

If you’re interested in the older issues, you can also find them here:

Find more details about suitable article topics here:

Please email me before writing an article, to confirm that the topic you are interested in writing about, is both suitable and within our range of coverage at this email address:

Articles should be in the range of 1000-4000 words, and need to be received by January 31st, 2014.  Longer articles are possible for serialisation, with approval required.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Imaginary Realities volume 5, issue 1 released

Imaginary Realities volume 5, issue 1, is now available for offline and online viewing at:
It is downloadable in EPUB and PDF formats, for those with e-reader devices or e-book applications on their fancy modern doodackys.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Imaginary Realities update

Despite the one month delay, Imaginary Realities volume 5, issue 1, is due to be released in three days on December 13th.  You will be able to find it at the following address:
It will also be downloadable in EPUB and PDF formats, for those with e-reader devices or e-book applications on their fancy modern doodackys.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Imaginary Realities update

The other editors and I have decided to delay the release for perhaps a week or two.  The articles are looking great, and are all edited and proofread.  As this is the first issue, we want to make sure it is done right.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Imaginary Realities update

The first issue is looking pretty good.  It's almost ready for publication, but there's a slight hitch.  We realised that we needed to get the article authors to formally license their articles so we can actually use them.  The lack of any real licensing for articles in the original Imaginary Realities issues, has meant that the copyright situation is confused.  We need to get this right from the start.

In the best case, all authors will respond and license their articles suitably, and the not too bad looking EPUB e-book will be published on time.  As will the okay looking PDF, and the superbly retro-looking web site.  In the worst case, we may either have a two or three days delay in publication, or that delay and a few less articles.

If you submitted an article and are reading this, please reply to my email.  If you didn't get an email, please email me immediately, or check all the email addresses you've used to contact us.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Planting out bloody butcher corn

I bought lots of native american corn seeds. If the organic place in the North Island (Koanga) had it, I bought it. In this case, the variety is called Bloody Butcher, and is good for sweetcorn and some other uses. For some reason, I searched for and found a web page that purported to detail how "the native americans" planted their corn using their "three sisters" approach. That is, planting corn alongside beans and squash. But not researching things properly, what I didn't do was grow enough seedlings to plant out a patch. And as I understand it, you need a decent number of corn plants placed closely together, as this is required to ensure pollination.

Anyway, here are the mounds on the pre-dug 10' by 10' garden bed. Let's ignore the fact that it is slightly smaller than 10' by 10' because I mismeasured.

2013-10-27 - Planting - Corn - Bed Preparation

The plants go on alternate mounds. On one, the corn gets planted, followed by the beans when the corn is 4" high. And on the next, the squash (or pumpkins) get planted, at the same time as the beans.

As you can see below, I've planted the corn kernels where I didn't have enough seeds. The difference in growth, is probably going to adversely affect pollination, so I'm going to have to hand pollinate.

2013-10-27 - Planting - Corn - Seedlings and seeds

There's still blue hopi corn seedlings to plant out (which I also do not have enough of), and black navajo (not enough of, and still need to dig out a bed for these) as well. Anyway, this is a lot more fun that just blindly transplanting normal seedlings into the long garden bed, or the two raised beds. Next year, I'll do it properly, which should reduce the work required.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Wonka Nutty Crunchalicious

This is more disappointing candy.  It is just another case of some company churning out some gimmicky product that isn't particularly interesting in it's own right, and is just being bought because it's different from the old gimmicky products already out there.

2013-09-02 - Junk food - Wonka Nutty Crunchalicious - Package

Generic tasteless crunchy bits embedded in the sugary chocolate.

2013-09-02 - Junk food - Wonka Nutty Crunchalicious - Innards

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


The grass in my paddock has been getting too long - thigh high.  I get the northern neighbour to put some animals in there to graze the grass and get it down, but unfortunately as half the paddock is orchard, the long grass is most likely inhibiting the growth of the young fruit trees. I was wondering how I could deal with this problem.

Then I remembered that I was given a scythe several months ago, by someone who stumbled across it at a market.  It cost $15 NZ if I recall correctly. It looked pretty hard done by and rusty, and has a shorter blade than most I've seen online. I didn't expect it to be much use at the time.

2013-10-28 - Scythe - Profile

But after a quick sharpen with some sharpening doodad I bought at Bunnings, it worked pretty well. It won't do a full sweep, and generally requires several goes to do so. But it still does the trick. My push powered hand mower sure isn't going to do the job. Here's my berry patch scythed.  You can see the electric fence behind the stump, and beyond it the area the cattle grazed.

2013-10-28 - Scythe - Berries

It probably took me 45 minutes at most, to scythe around the 40 plants in the ungrazed section of the paddock. Not bad. I think I shattered a small piece off the end of the blade when it hit a stone, and it hit lots of stones which can't be good for it. It makes me want to buy a proper scythe, but I'll have to do some research on that.

Monday, 28 October 2013


This is a picture from the first bout of heavy wind, now over a month and a half old. That knocked out the power for a day or so, where I live. It also left a local bridge that I use blocked, requiring me to do a long detour.

2013-09-13 - Wind damage - Fallen tree

Pretty much every day, these days, has some strong wind. But about two weeks ago, there was another bout of bad weather. It started by in the space of ten minutes going from a sunny day, to dark and windy, to heavy hail, and finally back to a sunny day. I was by my garage shovelling potting mix and planting new seeds in new seed trays, so had to hurry to put some protection over my existing seed trays.

2013-10-13 - Wind damage - Hail - 01

The front lawn. The peach tree near the center of the photo, which had minor blossom on it, didn't get too badly damaged. It currently has lots of fuzzy buds on it.

2013-10-13 - Wind damage - Hail - 03

The eucalyptus tree part of the front lawn (Sunday).

2013-10-13 - Wind damage - Hail - 02

The eucalyptus tree part of the front lawn (Monday). This is after the second bout of wind.

2013-10-14 - Wind damage - Eucalyptus branch

There's an old apricot tree by my raised beds. I didn't think there were many budding fruit on it as it was, but after the wind, there are now even less.

2013-10-14 - Wind damage - Apricots

The power went off early in the morning, so I decided to drive into town and take care of some business. Unfortunately, my preferred route was blocked.

2013-09-14 - Wind damage - Fallen tree road blocked - 01

My second preferred route was also blocked.

2013-09-14 - Wind damage - Fallen tree road blocked - 02

And more power lines were down.

2013-09-14 - Wind damage - Power lines down

Thankfully the power came back on shortly before I actually left for town, and although it went off for several hours later in the afternoon, it's been on since. The eucalyptus tree blocks the winter morning sun, and it's not near enough to anything other than shrubs, to do much damage if more pieces fall off. Here's hoping for no more power cuts.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Imaginary Realities update

Around 7 articles were submitted before the submission deadline passed. They are in the hands of the editors, and once they're done, I'll prepare the published formats which will be released on November 13th.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Griffins Cookies and Cream Shrewsberry

I know from past experience, that the best kind of Oreo, is the Newman-O. And now I know that the worst kind of Oreo, is the Griffins Cookies and Cream Shrewsberry.

I've bought Griffin's flavour combination marketing gimmick nonsense before, and it is always a mistake.

2012-06-22 - Biscuits - Griffins Cookies and Cream Shrewsberry - 01
At this point, I should know that if it's Griffins, and it's not one of their older biscuits, then it's going to be a bland waste of money. They don't even look appealing! They look like some congealed blackish-grey chemical mixture..

2012-06-22 - Biscuits - Griffins Cookies and Cream Shrewsberry - 02
Why can't I buy Newman-Os in New Zealand?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Imaginary Realities submission deadline

If you want to get your article in for the November issue of Imaginary Realities (volume 5, issue 1), you have 10 days left. If you did not run your article idea by me, and are working on an article, then please do so to ensure you're not wasting your time. The next issue will be published in February 2014, so you can always submit your article for that. But keep in mind the plan previously discussed by the various interested people was to expand the focus to other forms of text games, like interactive fiction, roguelikes and some other weird shit I've never used myself. February 2014 is a long time away!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Griffins ToffeePop Collisions MallowPuffs

More marketing gimmick rubbish, that isn't worth buying.

2012-09-30 - Biscuits - Griffins ToffeePop Collisions MallowPuffs - 01 - packet
I should have known better, after the last time I bought this Collisions nonsense.

2012-09-30 - Biscuits - Griffins ToffeePop Collisions MallowPuffs - 02 - innards

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Old bridge pilings

I bought a bag of orchard ley from Koanga nursery. On the instructions, it mentions mixing it with sand and raking it into the ground. So, passing a local river, I stopped to appropriate some sand.

2013-08-15 - River bed - 01 - Support poles
Old bridge pilings
The ley is a 1 kg bag of seeds.  I've yet to plant it, mainly because I am a little confused.  Do I remove the grass and rake the seed and sand mixture into the soil?  Or do I just rake it into the grass?  As the raking is intended to prevent the birds from getting the seeds, and sweet Jesus do I have lots of birds here, I'm probably going to leave the grass and make them work for the seeds.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Old Bejing home occasion dishes

I don't know what the name of this place was, but the specials board caught my eye as I was walking randomly around Beijing. The sign at the top says laobeijingjiachangcai, which I vaguely interpret using my declining chinese reading skills, as saying "old beijing home occasion dishes."

2011-11-25 - Beijing restaurant - 01 - Store front

Here's a close up of the store front menu, where there was a special on crab for Friday.

2011-11-25 - Beijing restaurant - 02 - Store front menu

The service was nice enough, and there weren't many people there.

2011-11-25 - Beijing restaurant - 03 - Inside

The szechuan peppercorn bean dish was not the nicest I had tasted.

2011-11-25 - Beijing restaurant - 04 - Szechuan peppercorn beans

The fried crabs with spicy salt were okay, but nothing really special. They'd be a nice bar food I guess, with some beer to wash them down.

2011-11-25 - Beijing restaurant - 05 - Fried crabs with spicy salt

Unfortunately, I didn't photograph the receipt for this place.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Foggy weather

On one of the few days with seasonable winter weather, there was heavy fog that lasted over night.  It's quite nice to go running in, when I go in the morning.  Although when I do, it makes me think of the roving pack of wild dogs Liza had in her neighbourhood in Atlanta.  At least we only had double shootings and muggings at knife-point in mine.

2013-08-11 - Gate view - 01 - Foggy weather
Heavy fog out the gate.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Elephant garlic

Have I eaten elephant garlic? Yes. Do I remember what it tastes like? No idea. I think that I remember it as being pretty tasteless, and I wouldn't bother to have planted any, except I was given a packet.

2013-08-13 - Elephant Garlic - 01 - Packet front
Packet front.
2013-08-13 - Elephant Garlic - 02 - Packet back
Packet back.
It's in the ground beside my normal garlic, and took maybe two minutes to plant.

2013-08-13 - Elephant Garlic - 03 - Planted uncovered
I can always give it away.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Griffins ToffeePop Collisions Krispie

This comes under gimmicky rubbish that isn't worth eating. I was looking for some Krispie biscuits, which are an honest combination of sugar and coconut I believe. Unfortunately, the discerning shoppers had already bought all those, so instead I purchased these hoping they'd be similar.

2012-09-30 - Biscuits - Griffins ToffeePop Collisions Krispie - 01 - packet
I should know better than to buy this rubbish.

2012-09-30 - Biscuits - Griffins ToffeePop Collisions Krispie - 02 - innards

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Planting Rhubarb

I used to like eating rhubarb, but have always found it to expensive to eat.  In the local store nurseries, you can get a small chunk with an attached leaf, for around $6 NZ.  Instead I obtained a large chunk from someone else's plant, for free.

This bag with the chunk in, had been sitting in my warm shed, and a bud had been knocked off somewhere along the way. I wasn't sure if that would affect the plant badly.

2013-08-20 - Rhubarb - 01 - Unpacked
Unpacked, and worse for wear.
Planting this was the same process as planting a fruit tree.

2013-08-20 - Rhubarb - 02 - Hole
Ready to go in.
Cut the edges with the spade, slice off the grass, dig out the dirt, bung in the plant, and then replace the dirt and maybe do the border thing.

2013-08-20 - Rhubarb - 03 - Planted
It seems to have worked rather well, this is one of the more vigorous plants I have. Every day I can see more growth, whether that was a few additional buds, or the leaves on the larger bug growing larger and larger.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Qin Tang Fu restaurant in Beijing

These are old photographs that have been sitting on my camera for over a year now. My Chinese cardiologist didn't appear concerned about the shooting pains in arm, so on the spot I had decided to quit my job and go on a relaxing vacation before the stress of cleaning out an apartment and flying back to New Zealand.

One of the places I went was Beijing, and this food blog provided me with a good restaurant recommendation, in this post. I pretty much ordered the same things she did.

The restaurant, Qin Tang Fu, was thankfully within walking distance of my hotel. I would note that you should book hotel rooms online, as even though I bartered for a lower hotel room price, Motel 8 (I think that was it) had lower prices through online ordering. It wasn't as cheap as the Xi'an hotel, but then again it also didn't have the midnight call where you were asked if you wanted a hooker sent up to your room.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 01 - Store front

The menu was basically a book of pictures, and a laminated sheet with a marker. You'd mark the name of the dishes you wanted, and then give it to the waiter or waitress.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 02 - Menu and ordering checklist

The table had this mystery bowl on it. I wasn't sure what it was, whether it was to drink, or to wash my hands in. I waited a while until another table of young lads sat down, and saw one of them drinking, so I guess it is probably tea.  It tasted like floury water anyway.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 03 - Mystery bowl

Here's an inside shot of the restaurant.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 04 - Inside shot

It gets tiring looking at food, here's another inside shot.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 05 - Inside shot

I ordered the roujiamo (肉夹馍), which looks like a tastier version of a McDonald's McMuffin in retrospect.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 06 - Burger thing

Following the McMuffin, was the cold buckwheat noodles. These were also pretty good.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 07 - Cold buckwheat noodles

Then having visited Xi'an where I had previously enjoyed it, I bought sticky date pudding. The version I ate in Xi'an was so much nicer. This had obviously been pre-made and reheated.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 08 - Sticky date pudding

And given the low quality, it didn't doggy bag well.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 09 - Doggy bag date pudding

Here's the receipt. At 36 RMB, and around 4 RMB to the $1 NZ, that was around $9 NZ. Not bad at all.

2011-11-24 - Beijing restaurant - 10 - Receipt

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cider apple tree delivery

Most of my plant purchases are what I consider investments. I don't expect to be able to do anything with them in the near future, but the fact that they are in the ground means that eventually they'll be ready to do something with. And sooner, for being in the ground this winter, in the case of bare root trees.

This order was from Thunder Mountain Nursery in the north island. It was driven by an interest in having cider apple trees, so that's what most of them are.  I don't know if I've posted these particular details, so I'll cover it here.  They tend to arrive bundled together.

In this case, the order was:

  • Kingston black cider apple tree.
  • Brown's Eater cider apple tree.
  • Lady Finger Cider cider apple tree.
  • Yarlington Mill cider apple tree.
  • Italian Prune plum tree.
There was some logic applied in the choice of cider apple trees.  At some point I read that you need a variety of different trees, so that you can blend the apples.  So maybe one is sweet, another bittersweet, another bitter.. whatever.

2013-08-20 - Thunder mountain trees - 01 - Delivery
As delivered.
In the bag, the roots are I assume kept moist by either sphagnum moss or straw.  And it was straw in this case.

2013-08-20 - Thunder mountain trees - 02 - Packaging
Straw packing.
Here's a look with the trees taken out.

2013-08-20 - Thunder mountain trees - 03 - Unpacked
My current process is to fill buckets with diluted seaweed extract, and to soak the trees for 24 hours before planting.  But I've only recently become more disciplined in how I do this, and so I didn't do it for these.

Here is the planted row.  My evolved square edging is now my standard approach.  One problem with it, is that the grass tends to grow back.  I need to start sheet mulching, and I'd like to widen the edged space but there is one main problem with that.  The problem is that this is a slope coming downhill in my direction, as seen in this photograph.  So a wider edged area will allow the water to spread more.

2013-08-21 - Thunder mountain trees - 01 - Planted row
The planted row.
At this point, I am dreading all the apples I am going to have.  Even the idea of feeding them to the horses next door is starting to become appealing.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Stinging nettle

I was hoeing the parts of the garden that don't really matter the other day, and decided I would replant the stinging nettle that were littered throughout it. If I can grow enough, I should be able to eat it. And I should be able to stew it in a bucket and make a tea that I can use for gardening purposes. These are all things that I've read about and forgot the details of. Still, plenty of time to worry about those details at later stage..

Here's my current stock of replanted stinging nettle:

2013-08-21 - Stinging nettle - 01 - Replanted weeds
Grab by the roots
There's some larger nettle around, but it's growing in front of sheds where pesticides and fuels may have spilt in the past. I think I'll stick with safe garden nettle. Thankfully it's been in there for a week or so now, and it's still green, so the transplanting doesn't appear to have done any harm.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Dusty roads

I don't live that far from paved roads, perhaps two kilometres at most. For you two Americans who read this, that is approximately 9.94 furlongs using your arcane forms of measurements. What this means, is that my house is set just off a dirt road.

2013-08-06 - Farmlet - 17 - Dirt road

It has been a pretty dry winter. And every time a vehicle hurtles down the road in front of my property, if the ground is especially dry, it will raise a trail of dust. There's usually at least a light breeze that pushes the dust one way or the other, and on the day shown in the following two photographs, that way was towards my house.

2013-08-06 - Farmlet - 15 - Dirt road drifting dust

And as the vehicle went further down the road, the dust trail can be seen to be extended.

2013-08-06 - Farmlet - 14 - Dirt road truck dust

Apparently the solution for this is to have someone pour oil on the roads. As you go past most properties along the dirt road, you can see these dark patches.

2013-08-21 - Farmlet - 01 - Oiled roads preventing dust

It might just be worth doing too, I'll have to wait till summer and see how it turns out.