Cooking Experiment: Ginger Pork Shoulder

All temperatures are for a non-fan oven. For fan-assisted ovens, reduce by 20 degrees.

Pre-heat oven to 240c, and get the shoulder out of the fridge (you want it to be room temperature ish when it goes in, so give it 45 minutes if possible.

    Marinate (all ingredients are in amounts of “some, but not too much”, until it tastes a bit sweet and sour without being too salty. They’re roughly in most to least order)

    • Ginger beer
    • Oil
    • Worcestershire sauce​
    • Soy sauce
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    • Chilli
    • Brown sugar
    • Mustard
    • Black pepper

    In total, I had about 1 cup (200ml ish) of liquid, and probably would have got away with using about half of that.

    Put in dish fat-side-up, and score it. Drizzle the marinate over the shoulder, then rub coarse salt into the scores. Use what feels like too much, this is a big hunk o meat.

    Cook at 240 for half an hour. In this time a bit of fat might come out of the meat, but nowhere near all of it.

    30 mins at 240 – chop vegetables while you wait

    Reduce the temp to 200c, and add any roast veggies to the dish around the meat. Keep in mind that fat will keep coming out of the pork, so you only need to drizzle a little bit of oil on top of your veggies. Or, as I did because I had a decent amount of the marinate left over, get the existing liquid out and drizzle it over the meat again, this time covering the veggies too. 

    The softer veggies (pumpkin) need to be significantly bigger than your average roast spud size, so they don’t burn before everything else is cooked. Most of my pumpkin here is too small, for I am a stupid

    20 minutes at 200c per 500g of meat

    In my case that was about 80 minutes.

    Remove all the juices again and let them settle in a jug. Either store (for cooking another day) or use (in my case the potatoes needed another 15 minutes) the clearer oil that has settled on top by slowly pouring it out until you start to get some of the meat juices also pouring out along with it.

    The juices that remain in the jug can be used to make a cornflour slurry gravy by following this page


    Maybe “I like that he sounds like people I know” isn’t a great stance for voting on a president

    Imagine if your head of state tweeted like a teenager about important private conversations.

    Turnbull might be a flip-flopping git, but at least he handled these questions like an adult, and didn’t dignify this high school movie of a presidency.

    Trump criticises ‘dumb deal’ with Australia on refugees after fraught call with Turnbull

    Heart rate monitor arrived! – Xiaomi Mi Band 2

    I finally decided to get back in the gym last night. I think the recent yoga helped with the knee-based confidence.

    I got on the travelator (“treadmill”) and decided to stay within my cardio heart rate ‘zone’ (see this post). It was really shockingly accurate. Whenever I thought “shit me, I’m going a bit hard fer a fat lad”, I’d check the monitor and I’d be up at around 155-165, and whenever I’d start to think my breathing was slowing and I was showering my neighbours with slightly less sweat, the monitor would tell me I was in the 120s (my optimal zone is about 120-150).

    I only bloody went and did 5KMs! Which isn’t much for normal healthy people, but for my first time back at the gym in a couple of months, I was happy with it. And my legs feel surprisingly normal the next morning.

    I think there might be something to this heart rate zone business. We’ll see how I feel tonight.

    My Fatness, Pal

    Started doing MyFitnessPal again (the calorie-counting app mentioned in my list of apps). Might as well go all-in, since I definitely feel better when I do. I’ve set it to lose 0.75kg a week for now. I’ve managed to do it at 1kg a week before, so it should be easy enough. In fact, I feel like I went over-“budget” more when I had it set to only lose 0.5kg a week. Maybe having to be more strict meant that I was more conscious of what I was eating, and made better decisions. We’ll see how this goes, and go from there.


    Xiamoi Mi Band 2

    I also ordered a heart rate monitor in the form of a Xiaomi Mi Band 2. I did consider a better alternative (with GPS and a kind of always-on mode, where it’s monitoring calories, presumably thanks to some kind of witchcraft chip), but I figured I’d go with the $30 option first, to see how much I use it. The DDP Yoga app links in with bluetooth heart rate monitors to tell you whether you’re in the “fat burning zone” of having your blood pumping, but not over-working to the point where you’ll be exhausted before the workout ends. I’m not sure of the science behind it.

    This comment:


    from /r/fitness

    led me to this PDF (which I’ve archived on this site, just in case it gets taken down.)


    from the ACSM’s pamphlet professing the legitness of HRMs

    So, there would appear to be some science behind it, rather than it just being snake oil. Judging by comments on the DDP Yoga subreddit, DDP appears to be getting his “zones” based on age from this source. Apparently my max heart rate is 190bpm (if I hit 191 do I go back in time or just die? And how many minutes will I be able to last before my curiosity forces me to find out?), and for the right mix of weight loss and strength, I should be aiming to stay between 60-80% during workouts (114-152bpm). I guess we’ll see how realistic that is when the monitor arrives.

    BANG! DDP Yoga

    Today I still ate like a fatty.

    I did the DDP Yoga energy workout. It felt much more like doing yoga than yesterday. I bought a year of the app subscription for about 10,000yen. I’ll check out the normal Diamond Dozen video on the app to see if it’s just basically a warm-up (it seemed more like a slow explanation of each move where you do them once each). But it’s in the schedule as something I’m supposed to be doing. I guess it’s so I know the name of each position without having to crane my neck to look at the screen every time.

    DDP Yoga seems to be the physical basics of yoga pushed to a bit more of a workout by the constant reminders to move with dynamic resistance, ie. tensing your muscles and making yourself work for each pose/movement, rather than doing the minimum to get into each pose. I’m not against meditation (I don’t know much about it, honestly) but the only thing going through my head during yoga is listening to what I’m supposed to be doing and trying to balance. I think I’ll save me deep thought sessions for when I’m having a fancy bath.



    Exactly 7 months of health consciousness day 1 (2016/09/19)

    Some facts:

    • Before summer, I was going to the gym regularly, eating better, and was losing weight and feeling… taller. While travelling around the west of Japan, I carried heavy bags and sweated buckets. I expected to roll right back into the gym and keep going strong. I haven’t been to the gym since I got back in mid-august.
    • I’ve fallen back into stopping at combinis on the way to and from work. Knees hurt again, and I’m probably over 101kg again.
    • Kazu’s still in hospital, but both he and Mark have shown interest in getting back into walking regularly.

    So I figured I’d give blogging a go, along with keeping a record of attempting to get back into shape. I decided to do this exactly 7 months before we fly to Sydney (short ‘oliday with the in-laws), then on to Melbourne, where we’ll spend several months staring at job websites before deciding that maybe teaching English is great after all. I figured those 7 months would be a nice round number to see what kind of effect this sort of thing can have.

    large05I’ve done it before. I’ve stuck to dieting for months at a time. And with winter on the way (sod skiing on dodgy knees. That needs fixing, sharpish,) I reckon I can do it again. Plus, when kimchi nabe is our go-to winter tea (seriously, at least three times a week), staying happy and full on relatively low calories should be easier.

    Today I did day 1 of DDP Yoga. Or at least I think I did. It was just examples of each move and it only gets you to do each one once. Surely that’s not an actual workout? Regardless, it was good to do some stretches and get a mild sweat on. The thought of going to the gym and doing actual cardio and weights with this combination of moobs and shoddy knees was unappealing, so I thought I’d at least have a go at fixing the knees.

    That Digital Life – apps and services to Keep Your Shit Together

    I turned 30 last week, and I’m in a rather “get your fat arse in gear and do something before you move to Australia” mood. This means employability (ie. actually endeavouring to, y’know, have some), health, and upping my workload to be somewhat equivalent to a real 9-5 (being out of the house for work for 13 hours on 30th bifday seems like a good start on that front).

    Before I get started on my own efforts to Sort My Life Out, I thought I’d throw together a list of the things I already use to Keep My Shit Together. If anyone has any other suggestions, lemme know.

    Scheduling/time management/notes

    Google Calendar

    It’s multiplatform, and it uses the Google account that is constantly logged-in on my phone. The most basic way to write events down (AS SOON AS I KNOW ABOUT THEM), and set up a reminder that will show up on my phone or PC. I usually set a reminder for events a day or two in advance, because chances are I will have completely forgotten about their existence.

    The Android version has a widget which you can drop on the home screen of your phone, so I have plenty of opportunities throughout the day to happen across my upcoming events. I use a Chronus widget because it’s a bit prettier, but it does the same thing as the built-in Google Calendar widget

    Google Keep

    Post-it notes, pretty much. You can attach reminders to them, and also invite other people to collaborate on them. My wife and I use a shared checklist for groceries, so that any time either of us go to a supermarket, we can immediately tick off each item, and the other person will see it instantly.



    Goodbudget uses an envelope system, which took me a while to get my head around. You set budgets (food, rent, phone bill, etc.) and “fill” those envelopes on payday. Then every time you actually pay for something, you deduct the amount from that envelope. You can also have savings “envelopes” with targets. Using the web browser interface, you can set up recurring payments. You can also have multiple people logged in at once. It’s a really easy way for us to see how much money we’ve saved up for our move. Plus, just being aware of how much you’ve spent in a given month has made me much more mindful of the bigger picture (“if I buy another expensive thing this month, how long will it be until the budget hits zero again?”)


    Google Inbox

    It’s Gmail, but a lot better. Things get automatically sorted into categories, leaving you with just the important emails showing up as notifications. Promos, updates (“click here to reset your password”), social (“some bloke you’d forgotten wants to be your Myspace friend!”), and purchases (“your order has been shipped”) sit at the top of your inbox, but don’t create a notification in your phone (unless you tell them to), so email quickly becomes much more manageable.

    Google Hangouts

    It’s a chat app for Google accounts. It can do the things Skype does, and the things that WhatsApp does (free messaging over the internet rather than using SMS), and it also works on desktop seamlessly.


    Pretty much the WhatsApp of Japan. Lots of cute stickers, and growing in social features such as groups and photo album sharing, but really just a messaging app.



    It has a dark mode, and it lets you have multiple Twitter accounts logged in at once. Which is basically all I ask for in a Twitter. It does all the now-standard things, like showing you the full conversation in a chain of tweets.


    The vast majority of my friends are on it, and it’s where they make events, post photos, and share articles. It’s pretty decent. Maybe you’ve heard of it already though.


    I find it a lot less taxing to just scroll through a “Twitter of pictures”. This has decent options for sprucing up photos quickly and easily, and it lets you share directly to Twitter and Facebook as you upload. Easy.



    I mainly use the calorie counting features of this app (mainly as an eating/exercise diary and to give myself a conscience rather than to stick to a strict calorie count). It has a lot of foods already on there, and you can add your own meals.

    White Noise

    We slept in a big room with our niece recently. She slept with a nightlight app that also played the sound of “TV snow” pretty loud. I expected it to be really annoying, but instead I fell asleep quickly and woke up feeling energised and ready to go. The White Noise app (along with a Bluetooth speaker for my phone, otherwise there’d be zero bass) does the trick. You can layer sounds from a library on top of each other. At the moment I’m sleeping with “office murmur” and “rain on a car roof”, and it’s working well so far.


    I’m just now getting into this app, but it has a very pretty interface, and is basically intended to create new habits by giving you reminders. At the moment I have it telling me to make sure I drink water a couple of times a day, and reminding me to eat breakfast early at home (rather than decide I’m hungry on the way to work and end up eating convenience store crap).



    I started using Feedly when Google inexplicably stopped running their RSS reader (along with cancelling ways of categorising your YouTube subscriptions, Google have really tried to make it harder for me to keep up with websites/video channels in the last couple of years). You can categorise subscriptions, and save quickly longer articles to longform reading platforms, such as Instapaper:


    Instapaper is a clean, easy way of reading articles. It has Chrome plugins and Android apps, and I use it mainly as a way of quickly saving something to read later.


    Reddit is a news aggregation platform. Rather than subscribing to content creators (blogs/YouTube channels etc.) directly, Reddit is a way to subscribe to a topic (“subreddit”). You can also group subscriptions into multireddits, so I can say to myself “I want to read about films”, and in front of me pops up the current most popular links to stories about indie films, photography, sci fi, new trailers, film discussions, and every other subreddit within my Film multireddit.

    In the last 3 years, Reddit has become the first place I go to on the internet. If you take the time to explore and subscribe to the things you’re interested in, it really can become page after page of things you want to click on. Make sure you immediately delete the default subreddits from your subscriptions; they’re generally full of memes and people being shits to each other.

    Card Crawl

    Yeah, this is just a game, but it’s a perfect mobile game. It’s got the depth/progression of an RPG where you have to pick your loadout in advance, and are always unlocking new items, but it’s also very simple and doesn’t have fiddly controls or time pressures to play. You just drag cards around the screen and play a form of Solitaire where you’re killing monsters. It lands right in the middle of being mindless and in-depth. It doesn’t hog your attention and brainpower, but it doesn’t feel like a pointless waste of time, either.

    Being an adult for once: medium term future stuff

    ‘olidays are over! Back to work!

    Being in Australia with my probable future family-in-law, and being bombarded with less-than-subtle – but definitely appreciated – hints that I should move there, has given me a bit of a kick up the backside. As much as I enjoy my job and really do know how good I’ve got it, I’m probably going to need to start a career at some point. Y’know, in an industry. With room for promotions and stuff. And get mortgage. Urgh. That topic in itself is probably best left for another day.

    Anyway, I’ve been looking at eventually moving to Melbourne (at least another couple of snow seasons in Japan yet. Calm down, Me) the only way a chronic list-writer and unrealistic plan-maker knows how: research. And numbers. I need to trim the potential suburbs down to certain areas to at least narrow searchlight a little bit. Googling for “HOUSES MELBOURNE. ALL OF IT. THE WHOLE PISSING LOT” isn’t exactly efficient.

    Here are my criteria:

    • Transport. I know I’m going to be on a trainee salary when I first move over (the perils of moving somewhere to teach English before you really have any viable qualifications that lead directly to a future job), so I won’t be buying a car for a while. That means public transport. Plus, I fell in love with Aussie Rules football, and I’m almost certainly going to be making my way into the centre of the city to watch at least one game every weekend, so I need a way to get into town without it feeling like some cross-country slog. This also goes for things like the theatre and music venues. Since I stopped drinking, I have to actually do things to be entertained. Plus, so long as your house is connected to the transit system in some way, once you’re in the system it’s easy to get to all the non-residential areas you might want to visit.
    • A nearby market. I used to live in Preston, Lancashire. The best thing about that place (after Preston North End, obviously) was the market. Having a place where you know you’ll be able to find meat, fish, veggies, and cheese whenever you want it is something I only started to appreciate when I’d moved away from it.
    • Coffee. Oh, the coffee. The cafes I went to sold, without exception, excellent coffee. And most of them sold sandwiches and the odd hot dish that you would more expect from an expensive high street deli or fancy hotel restaurant than your average-looking, unassuming coffee shop. You pay for it, but just wandering into random cafes will see you ridiculously well fed and watered. So this almost doesn’t need to be on my criteria list. Are you in an inner Melbourne suburb? Yes? You’re probably less than 200m from a cafe good enough to become your “local”.
    • Green stuff. Since riding a bike in Melbourne is to have a death wish, and I really love having a local park (and let’s face it, I’m probably getting a dog), I’m going to have to find somewhere with some greenspace that’s relatively walk-able-to.

    Fitting these criteria as best I could into the ‘liveable cities’ data from 2013 (transit, food, trees, shops), I found that Footscray was the only central suburb that stood out. So on to the list it goes.

    Next, I’m looking at the Metro transit map for junctions. Where two or more different services to the town centre pass through one place, you’re going to have more regular/numerous trains and buses. I go as far out from the CBD as possible to junctions to avoid the inevitably higher central housing prices.

    Doing this added Clifton Hill, Footscray (again! Double added!), Burnley (as a Preston North End fan, this pains me), South Yarra, North Melbourne, and Camberwell to the list.

    I also narrowed the search to a more specific by a blunt radial distance. I know St Kilda is about as far out as my girlfriend would be willing to travel if she worked in the centre, so I used a map tool to create an artificial (and arguably arbitrary) boundary for myself.

    I also asked on a basketball forum (weird, I know, but there was a thread full of Australians on there, and it’s a forum I’m already a member of)

    You now have older suburbs that are closer to the city that use to have a poor reputation, which are now selling houses and land for 1m+.

    Melbourne is expanding rapidily and they’re forecasting that it will take over Sydney as our most populated city at some point.

    If you can find a nice neighbourhood, assuming you want the suburbs lifestyle, something attainable would be a home 35-40 minutes from the CBD. Our rail network from our suburbs to the CBD is pretty good, so wherever you go, be it north, south etc, you should be fine from a public transport perspective.


    Imo, the best places to live, assuming you want the burbs and not a 10km radius from the city, I would be looking at suburbs in the Northeast, East or South East. If you’re hipster, then head north of the city towards Brunswick, Fitzroy etc.

    South of Melb is really nice along Port Phillip, but expensive.

    I would stay away from the West…


    So, that gives me some things to go on. Now to start taking virtual Google Maps tours of, searching out local information for, and being flabbergasted by the house prices in, my little list of suburbs.

    • Footscray
    • Clifton Hill
    • Burnley
    • South Yarra
    • North Melbourne
    • Camberwell


    My Pointless E3 Precdictions

    Space Indaver

    Sony: “We and Steam had a bit of a fling with Portal 2. Since then we’ve been quietly booty-calling each other, and are finally ready to announce our wedding date. You know that in-home streaming that Steam does now? Starting next week, that will be on PS4 and Vita too. Here’s a trailer for Parappa. *drops mic*”

    MS: “We’re pleased to announce Localised Region Locking. Now people in rich neighbourhoods will be forced to subsidise the production of all 7 Halo sequels coming out next year! We give the people what they want.”

    Ubisoft: “Here’s an artist’s rendering of what we really hope The Division will look like. Fingers crossed, guys!”

    EA: “Mirror’s Edge and Star Wars. You won’t be boycotting a fucking thing, you turds.”

    Actual game predictions, since I should probably do those:

    • Last Guardian is a thing that exists, and if they’ve learned their lesson, will be due to come out this year. Realistically, will be out in 2015
    • Red Dead Redemption 2 or an HD remake
    • Uncharted 4 out this year
    • Project Beast is Demon’s Souls 2: Shadow Tower
    • Mario Maker will be cross-platform, and Nintendo’s answer to LittleBigPlanet, with some Warioware DIY thrown in
    • A GTA Stories game will come to Vita. And a “sequel” to Chinatown Wars on 3DS? Too much to ask for in one year?

    Books! #nowReading


    A really cool Twilight Zone-ish (or one of the weirder episodes of Star Trek) sci-fi story. Starts out as “lol isn’t Star Trek weird”, but becomes an interesting strange sci-fi of its own. Like with everything Scalzi writes, most of it is just stating what happens and a lot of talking, followed by “[name] said.” Tolerable in written form but the audiobook was pretty excruciating.
    Story: 4/5
    Writing style: 2/5

    The Name of the Wind
    Interesting magic system. Basically a more adult Harry Potter, but set in a world rather than a building. Really enjoyed it.

    Gallows Thief
    A whodunnit set in… Victorian?… London. Written by the guy who did the Sharpe books.

    Leviathan Wakes
    Doesn’t have the comedy of Whedon, but it’s the closest thing to a Star Trek/Firefly-esque “tight-knit group of space sailors in a rustbucket” in book form that I’ve found. Loved it.

    All You Need is Kill
    “Light reading” sci-fi that the new Tom Cruise film (Edge of Tomorrow) is based on. Groundhog Day and exo-suits fighting aliens. That is all. Fun and short.

    Now reading: Hounded
    Never read anything by Hearne before. The dog is adorable, and the whole thing feels kind of like it was written after Hearne binged on Buffy over the course of two weeks. In a good way.
    About a third of the way through and I’ve already added the sequel to my Goodreads list. So far: 5/5