May 11th, 2009


Nothing But Water

If we keep treating our oceans like this, soon there will be nothing left in them but water.

How we are emptying our seas

Imagine sitting on the cliffs of Dover contemplating the sea on a crisp spring day. Today your eye would be drawn by the crawling shapes of cargo vessels, ferries and fishing boats.

Wind back the clock to the seventh century, however, and the scene would be very different. Instead of shipping, you would watch the passage of great whales on their northward migration from African wintering grounds to Arctic feeding areas. At the season's peak, over a thousand whales might pass in a day.

Today few whales are sighted in the English Channel, because we have decimated their numbers by hunting.


Upside-down Tomato Update

So far, my upside-down tomatoes are all surviving. Some are doing better than others, though. Plant size makes a big difference in this project:

The smallest tomatoes (Romas and Yellow Pears) are doing the best. They were 2-4" when transplanted. They are now curled upwards around the milk jug spouts, jaunty little green hook shapes. Eventually the plants' weight will pull them downwards.

The medium-sized Black Prince is doing well. It was about 6-8" when transplanted. It is curving upwards but not as strongly.

The largest one is ... still alive. This is the Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato. It was about a foot tall when I got it, and the weather sucked that week, so by the time it was planted it was about 18" tall. That is too big for an upside-down tomato. Some of its leaves have died. It is trying to curve up but not succeeding very well.

So for anyone planning to experiment with upside-down tomatoes, make sure you get tiny plants. They should be just big enough to survive transplanting and have a good root ball. I think anything under 1" would be too small, and optimum is probably 2-4" as I found with the Romas and Yellow Pears.

Coconut-Lime Ice Cream

This is a variant of the coconut ice cream that I made earlier, and it was received with much enthusiasm.

Coconut-Lime Ice Cream

1 Persian lime
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups Chaokoh coconut milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar


Zest the lime to remove all the outer skin, either with a zester or a fine grater, catching the zest in a small bowl. Add 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes to the bowl of zest and carefully fluff together until well mixed. Set aside.

Cut the lime in half and juice both halves into a large bowl.

To the large bowl, add 1 1/4 cups Chaokoh coconut milk, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 1 cup half-and-half, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk together. Slowly add 2/3 cup sugar and whisk until dissolved.

Turn ice cream machine ON. Pour coconut milk mixture into ice cream machine. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Slowly add the sweetened coconut flakes and lime zest to the ice cream. Freeze for another 5 minutes.

Transfer ice cream to a container and place in freezer until set firm. Leave it in the freezer overnight so the flavors can marry. Serve the next day.


Persian limes are medium size and dark green with thin skin. They have a bright chiming flavor. If you can’t find Persian limes, Key limes should work; they’re smaller with an even higher note, so you might need two. Ordinary limes are large and look like green lemons, with a less sprightly flavor; start with half of one, then check the flavor and add more if necessary.

If you find that the coconut flakes clump around the paddle, try running the coconut flakes through the food processor to make them smaller before adding them to the ice cream.

This is not an ice cream that you can eat immediately; it’s good right out of the churn, but the lime and coconut really need time to blend together.

Life Not As We Know It

Here is a cool article about where life may exist in the universe, based on extremophile lifeforms on Earth.

A Scientist's Guide to Finding Alien Life: Where, When, and in What Universe

Things were not looking so good for alien life in 1976, after the Viking I spacecraft landed on Mars, stretched out its robotic arm, and gathered up a fist-size pile of red dirt for chemical testing. Results from the probe’s built-in lab were anything but encouraging. There were no clear signs of biological activity, and the pictures Viking beamed back showed a bleak, frozen desert world, backing up that grim assessment. It appeared that our best hope for finding life on another planet had blown away like dust in a Martian windstorm.

What a difference 33 years makes. Back then, Mars seemed the only remotely plausible place beyond Earth where biology could have taken root. Today our conception of life in the universe is being turned on its head as scientists are finding a whole lot of inviting real estate out there. As a result, they are beginning to think not in terms of single places to look for life but in terms of “habitable zones”—maps of the myriad places where living things could conceivably thrive beyond Earth. Such abodes of life may lie on other planets and moons throughout our galaxy, throughout the universe, and even beyond.

What if life turns out to be common ... but it's moderate surface life like ours that is rare?

Pimp a Friend: Lee Martindale

Today is Pimp-A-Friend day. LiveJournal is a wonderful place to connect with interesting people. Feature one of your Friends, with a brief description of what makes their journal worth reading, and share the joy. Readers are encouraged to visit the featured journal and/or reply to this message with recommendations of their favorite Friends.

lee_martindale is someone I met years ago as various of our interests overlapped. She does filk and folk music, speculative fiction, size-acceptance activism, and is accomplished in various flavors of martial artistry. Her LiveJournal follows suit. She also has another website where you can find her albums and books and other goodies. If you like people who are unapologetic about who and what they are, you'll like Lee.

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