Saturday, June 30, 2012

The 65th UFO Festival in Roswell

The UFO 1947 crash site
 The UFO 1947 crash site

Like every year, the City of Roswell invites UFO enthusiasts and skeptics alike to join in the celebration of one of the most debated incidents in history. The three-day event will feature guest speakers, authors, an alien costume contest, an alien pet costume contest, an alien parade, and more. All that in a New Mexican heat of 1o6 °F. 

The Roswell UFO Museum
The Roswell UFO Museum

65 years ago a UFO crashed on a ranch 30 miles north of Roswell. This event stirred a never ending controversy and gave birth to countless conspiracy theories. 

Aliens embrace!
 Visitor friendly alien on Main Street

Interestingly enough, the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) issued a statement claiming to have recovered a crashed "flying disk."  But after the Roswell Daily Record published a front page article about the event, RAAF changed its statement the next day and announced that the object was a mere  weather balloon and not a flying disk as  previously reported. This revised statement sparked immediate controversy. The eye witnesses were hushed up or simply ridiculed. 

The alien costume contest
 The alien costume contest

To this day many people around the world believe that there was a cover upon a grand scale.

And the winners are...
Winners in the kids' category

And while we may never learn the truth, we can at least have some fun. The festival lasts three days from June 29 till July 1. 

The coolest bartender ever!

The Roswell UFO Museum organized a number of talks. One of the more interesting is probably one that will be given on Sunday by Freddy Silva - a serious researcher of the crop circle phenomenon. You will also have a chance to meet a nuclear researcher Stanton Friedman, scientific UFOlogist Kathleen Marden, and Kevin Randle who studied UFOs for forty years, among others. To find out more simply visit UFO Museum site.

 Welcome to the Zone

Wishing all Roswell  visitors and citizens alike a great fun. Get abducted! - Dominique Allmon

A local brew. Worth taking home on this planet or elsewhere...


Friday, June 29, 2012

Life Is But a Dream

An elderly Zen Master, feeling that his time would soon come, devised a clever strategy to help his chief disciple achieve Great Awakening. He decided to drive the younger monk out of his complacency through an elaborate plan to "frame" him as a thief in disguise.

In the middle of the night, the Zen master would hide one of his valuable Buddha images and then cry "Thief, thief." The younger monks would all rush in, but there was no thief to be seen. Finally, after the third time, as the chief disciple ran into his room, the old master grabbed him and threw him on the floor, "Here is the thief. At last I have caught you red-handed!" The chief disciple was then denounced to one and all throughout the land.

The accused monk, once a teacher of a huge congregation, now completely disgraced and with nowhere to turn, his ego totally shattered, mulled over this flagrant injustice and at times even contemplated suicide. After several weeks of utter desperation, he suddenly experienced a Great Awakening: life is a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow. This is the very teaching he had been trying to impart to the novices for so many years! He then rushed back to the Master, who upon seeing him, stood up, greeted him warmly and conferred the succession upon him.

Source of the article unknown but greatly appreciated
Image source here


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Celestial Realm

Eighteen Disciples of Buddha by Wang Wusheng, 1984
 Eighteen Disciples of Buddha by Wang Wusheng, 1984

"Dogen, one of Japan’s foremost medieval Zen masters, wrote in the "Sansui-kyo" chapter of the "Shobogenzo" that “to view sansui (Chinese style mountain-water landscape painting), is to meet yourself before you were born.”

The self before birth is a self beyond time and space. Dogen, wrote that this self is a ‘formless self’ no one has ever seen. This yet unformed self is the essence of sansui. A depiction of something beyond time and space whose appearance is yet unformed.

A dark mass of mountains is not dead space but the very soul of the living mountains. The white sky in his photographs is not an empty sky  but a sky shown after the passing of a raging storm, now bathed in sunlight."  - Seigo Matsuoka in "Photographic Sansui"

Wang Wusheng was born in 1945 in the city of Wuhu in Anhui Province, China. He graduated from Anhui University's School of Physics. Beginning in 1973, Wusheng worked as a photographer for a news magazine in Anhui Province. He studied at the Art Institute of Nihon University in Japan beginning in 1983 and studied for three years at the Tokyo Arts University. Wusheng currently works as a fine art photographer in Tokyo. 

Peaks and Clouds, by Wang Wusheng, 2004
Peaks and Clouds, by Wang Wusheng, 2004

For more than three decades, Wang Wusheng has been captivated by the beauty of Mount Huangshan, also called Yellow Mountain. Located in the southern part of the Anhui province in northern China, Mount Huangshan has often been described as the world's most beautiful and enchanting mountain. Over many centuries, this mountain, with its seventy-two peaks, has been the subject of Chinese landscape painters, whose singular works are so haunting make it appear impossible for these mountains to exist in nature. Inspired by the legacy of these paintings, Wusheng has sought to portray Mount Huangshan in his own way, expressing his "inner worlds" through this scenic wonder.

Wusheng captures mist-shrouded granite peaks emerging from an ever-changing veil of clouds, sculptural craggy rocks on lofty cliffs and weathered, oddly shaped pine trees. He records the appearance of Mount Huangshan in all seasons and at various times of day. As one critic says, "Wang's pictures are gorgeous, but their beauty does not come directly from the natural scenery. Rather, the mountain's natural wonders have been transformed into artistic spectacles through the artist's commitment to the medium of black-and-white photography, his insistent pursuit of dynamic movement and metamorphic images, and his deep emotional engagement with his subject. His mountain peaks are often densely dark -a kind of velvet darkness that seems full of color."

Article source here

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tempus Fugit

The clock tower in Finale Emilia (near Ferrara) after an earthquake in the region of Emilia Romagna, Northern Italy, on May 20, 2012
The clock tower in Finale Emilia (near Ferrara)
after an earthquake in the region of Emilia Romagna,
Northern Italy, on May 20, 2012

We all run on two clocks. One is the outside clock, which ticks away our decades and brings us ceaselessly to the dry season. The other is the inside clock, where you are your own timekeeper and determine your own chronology, your own internal weather and your own rate of living. Sometimes the inner clock runs itself out long before the outer one, and you see a dead man going through the motions of living. - Max Lerner, American Politician and Columnist (1902-1992)


Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Lesson on Patience

Our lives are made up of ordinary moments. 
When we slow down and give them meaning 
they become extraordinary. - Dominique Allmon

Here is a touching story written by a New York taxi driver. Or so I was told.

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing," I told her... "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued in a soft voice. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

"What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.

They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" She asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Author Anonymous, but greatly appreciated 

P.S. It does not really matter whether this really happened or someone invented this story. It is such a great inspiration for all to profit. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1920
 Georgia O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1920

For several decades Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) was a major figure in American art who, remarkably, maintained her independence from shifting artistic trends. She painted prolifically, and almost exclusively, the flowers, animal bones, and landscapes around her studios in Lake George, New York, and New Mexico, and these subjects became her signature images. She remained true to her own unique artistic vision and created a highly individual style of painting, which synthesized the formal language of modern European abstraction and the subjects of traditional American pictorialism.

Georgia O'Keeffe at work by Anselm Adams, 1937

Her vision, which evolves during the first twenty years of her career, continued to inform her later work and was based on finding the essential, abstract forms in the subjects she painted. With exceptionally keen powers of observation and great finesse with a paintbrush, she recorded subtle nuances of color, shape, and light. Subjects such as landscapes, flowers, and bones were explored in series, or more accurately, in a series of series. Generally, she tested the pictorial possibilities of each subject in a sequence of three or four pictures produced in succession during a single year. But sometimes a series extended over several years, or even decades, and resulted in as many as a dozen variations.

 Georgia O'Keeffe in Glen Canyon by Todd Webb, 1961

By the mid-1920s, after an initial period of experimentation with various media, techniques, and imagery, O'Keeffe had already developed the personal style of painting that would characterize her mature work. During the 1930s she added an established repertory of color, forms, and themes that reflected the influence of her visits to New Mexico. For the most part, her work of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s relied on those images already present in her art by the mid-1940s.

Artist Georgia OKeeffe with Judith Searle at her home studio
on the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu,
New Mexico by Basil Langton, 1971

O'Keeffe's flower paintings have often been called erotic, which is not exactly wrong, but the emphasis is misplaced. It would be surprising if an artist with her passion for the transcendent did not make use erotically charged imagery. Reducing her flowers to symbols of female sexuality is however, a trivializing mistake, for the sexual particulars matter less in art with the aspiration that the vivid and more universal sensation of a joyful release into another world beyond the usual distinctions. O'Keeffe's interest in the scale of transcendence let her to violate certain boundaries. Not only did she make the large small and the small large, but she took serious chances with color, sometimes upsetting conventions of visual harmony in order to startle the eye into new kinds of seeing. She liked to stress visual edges that have metaphysical implications: between night and day, earth and sky, life and death. She was not afraid of the large, symbolic reverberation; her bones often seem strangely alive, the flowers of the desert.

Artist Georgia OKeeffe at her home
on the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu,
New Mexico by Basil Langton, 1971

Through her repeated reworkings of familiar themes she produced an enormous body of work that in intensely focused and unusually coherent. Some 1,000 paintings, an equal number of drawings and watercolors on paper, and just a few sculptures, have been documented in a catalogue raisonne of the artist's work published in 1999, and still others are unrecorded because they were destroyed by the artist.

Georgia O'Keeffe at her home on the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu,
New Mexico by Basil Langton, 1971

The subjects O'Keeffe painted were taken from life and related either generally or specifically to the places where she had been. Through her art she explored the minute details of a setting's or an object's physical appearance and thereby came to know it even better. Often her pictures convey a highly subjective impression of an image, although it is depicted in a straightforward and realistic manner. Such subjective interpretations were frequently colored by important events in the artist's personal and professional life. Their impact on her work was often unconscious, as the artist acknowledged late in life.

Georgia O'Keeffe at her home on the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico by Basil Langton, 1971

Georgian O'Keeffe continued to paint into the 1970s, her almost complete loss of eyesight and ill health during the last fifteen years of her life significantly curtailed her artistic productivity. Her eye problems began in 1968, and by 1971 macular degeneration caused her to lose all her central vision, leaving her, eventually, with only some peripheral sight.

Georgia O'Keeffe by Philippe Halsman, 1967

Yet even during these waning years O'Keeffe remained true to the spirit of her art through the life she led. For her, there had been fulfillment in an existence that almost totally revolved around her art. It was, after all, through painting that O'Keeffe filtered all experience.

View from Georgia's studio at the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico by Basil Langton, 1971

On March 6, 1986 O'Keeffe died in St. Vincent's Hospital in Santa Fe, having almost reached her goal of living to 100; she was 98 years old. At her request, there was no funeral or memorial service, though her ashes were scattered from the top of the Pedernal over the landscape she had loved for more than half a century.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501


Article source here 
Image sources: world wide web

Monday, June 18, 2012

Embrace the Future

Untitled, André Kertész, 1941

Although many continue to deny it, overwhelming evidence shows that life conditions in our world are improving dramatically in just about every domain for more people than ever before in history. If the prophets of progress coming to us from fields as diverse as economics, psychology, and technological innovation are right, then we may have a non-metaphysical, non-faith-based source of hope and possibility for salvation in our midst. And this “good news” is based upon our own extraordinary achievements.

This is not to deny that we have enormous problems to solve and unexpected disasters to face. It’s just that if they’re right - and I believe that they are - we have good reason to feel a lot better about ourselves and our collective future. Maybe this could inspire us not to fear the future, but to be even more deeply, spiritually motivated to create a better future - and in doing so, become unapologetically positive about our role as evolving human beings at this time in history.

By Andrew Cohen

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

You can’t look at a sleeping cat and be tense. - Jane Pauley

There is something very mysterious about cats. They make you do things you probably would not do for a dog. I could spend hours watching my cats play, groom or sleep... Simply to know that they are happy and safe fills my heart with peace and joy. 

Dominique Allmon 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Food Intolerance and Obesity

The Empty Plate by Irving Penn, 1947
The Empty Plate by Irving Penn, 1947

How hidden food allergies affect your weight

There are so many people out there struggling unsuccessfully with their weight. They try to exercise, try to eat healthy meals, go on diet and seem to be gaining weight in spite of their efforts. Something paradoxical is happening in their bodies and no one seems to understand where their problems stem from. They are unaware of the fact that intolerance to some foods they are consuming on a daily basis could actually be the cause of all the discomfort and obesity they are experiencing. A series of elaborate blood tests identifies the foods that should be avoided. 

There are two main types of food allergy:
  • immediate-onset or Type 1 food allergy (IgE)
  • delayed-onset or Type 3 food allergy (IgG)
Type 1 food allergy occurs when the body shows an adverse, immediate, often severe reaction to a food that was ingested. The response to allergens is auto-immune and can even be life-threatening. The body produces a specific type IgE antibodies to certain foods that it cannot tolerate. These antibodies attach themselves to the so called mast cells of the immune system. They are designed to recognize an allergen and to bind to it as soon as it enters the system. When allergenic food is consumed, antibodies that are on the surface of the mast cells recognize it and bind themselves immediately to it causing the release of histamine and other allergy-related body chemicals. It may take up to two hours for the body to react.

Type 3 food allergy, on the other hand, occurs when the body produces IgG antibodies in reaction to an allergenic food. The IgG antibodies attach themselves directly to the undigested food particles as they are entering the blood stream. Together with the allergen they form allergen-antibody immune complexes and circulate throughout the body. The immune reaction depends on the amount of produced IgGs. Immune system mobilizes phagocytes to ward off the reaction, but this process takes time and the symptoms may only appear a few days later. It is difficult to determine which foods are causing discomfort because the reaction is neither severe nor immediate. The reaction to food may take up to four days for symptoms to manifest. They can be vague and do not present an immediate threat to life. They can, however, cause a great discomfort and many unpleasant conditions, including systemic inflammation and obesity, and are often misdiagnosed or even dismissed by the medical professionals. 

Some medical studies have shown that there is a connection between inflammation caused by food intolerance and obesity. We may become inflamed and gain weight. An unhealthy, monotonous diet consisting of processed foods, too much sugar and fat and not enough fiber, as well as the use or abuse of alcohol, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, acid-blockers and other medication, may deplete or destroy the intestinal flora and cause inflammation. The lining of the digestive tract becomes abnormally permeable or leaky. Undigested food particles enter the blood stream. This causes overall immune reaction leading to systemic inflammation in the body and gradually, to obesity, by increasing the insulin resistance. With time a person may be reacting to as many as twenty to thirty different foods without knowing it. The symptoms may vary, but most common are the constant bloating, digestive disorders, water retention, weight gain, migraines, skin rushes, and congested nasal passages. And while the immediate allergy involves mostly foods that are rarely eaten, the delayed-onset allergy is reaction to foods we consume daily, even if they are considered healthy. Food craving may be a sign of a hidden allergy. The IgG allergy cannot be self-diagnosed. The allergens can only be determined by a blood test. 

If you are overweight or chronically ill, but your doctor was unable to determine the cause, the chance is that you may have the delayed-onset allergies to some foods you are consuming on daily basis. The simple advice to exercise and eat more fruit and vegetable may not be enough for you to lose the excess weight, as it is possible that you may be allergic to such innocuous foods as lettuce or cucumbers and will be gaining even more weight while consuming the otherwise healthy salad. 

IgG ELISA is one of the most popular and reliable blood tests to determine the Type 3 allergies. Depending on the lab, the blood sample of a patient may be tested simultaneously against 100 or more different foods. If the blood sample contains a particularly high number of IgG antibodies against a particular food protein, a person is allergic to this food and should avoid it until the body has healed itself and the immune system has been restored. 

After the testing and diagnosis, nutritional rotation plan will be devised and suggested to the patient. Foods to which a person shows the strongest allergic reaction will be eliminated from the patient's diet. All other foods will be consumed with a changing or rotating "schedule" so that one particular food in not consumed for at least four consecutive days. This seem to be complicated at first, but it becomes a routine after only a week. It allows a person to consciously create his or her own menu and to observe the changes in the body. It may also be necessary to restore the intestinal flora and and heal the leaky gut. The allergen-antibody immune complexes may disappear after a relatively short time when the rotation plan is followed rigorously and without exception. As the immune system calms down and the inflammatory processes in the body subside, a person may notice dramatic changes in body weight and improvement of the overall health and well being. The foods to which one was allergic once, may be reintroduced carefully and gradually to the diet plan. It is important to remember, however, that our menus should be as variegated as possible. There is no limit to your creativity and imagination.

By Dominique Allmon


*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Creative Commons License
Food Intolerance and Obesity by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Wounded Place

Smoke billows from the Little Bear fire near Ruidoso, NM
Smoke billows from the Little Bear fire near Ruidoso, NM

Such a tragedy! Only a week ago I was planning my next escape in the Ruidoso area which is much cooler in Summer than Roswell. 

Last Monday, June 4, however, a fire begun after a lightning strike on Little Bear in the Sierra Blanca and spread rapidly destroying more than 69,000 hectares of forest. 
An eighteen-year drought made the fire extremely difficult to contain. It took about 979 people, 53 fire engines, 8 helicopters, 12 bulldozer sand 9 water tenders to extinguish the raging fires. Increased humidity and more favorable winds helped the firefighters in their more than heroic action.

As the damage assessment begun, the Lincoln National Park authorities reported that some 35 structures have been destroyed by the fire. 

The entire White Mountain Wilderness and that portion of the Smokey Bear Ranger District south of NM 380 to the Mescalero Apache Reservation boundary, including a large area east and north of Ruidoso to the south boundary of the Fort Stanton Recreation Area are now closed to public. Consider this if you are planning a trip to New Mexico. 

By Dominique Allmon

For more information please visit the New Mexico Fire Information website

Monday, June 11, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

By Michael Shermer

Why is there something rather that nothing? This is one of those profound questions that is easy to ask but difficult to answer. For millennia humans simply said, “God did it”: a creator existed before the universe and brought it into existence out of nothing. But this just begs the question of what created God - and if God does not need a creator, logic dictates that neither does the universe. Science deals with natural (not supernatural) causes and, as such, has several ways of exploring where the “something” came from.

Multiple universes. There are many multiverse hypotheses predicted from mathematics and physics that show how our universe may have been born from another universe. For example, our universe may be just one of many bubble universes with varying laws of nature. Those universes with laws similar to ours will produce stars, some of which collapse into black holes and singularities that give birth to new universes - in a manner similar to the singularity that physicists believe gave rise to the big bang.

M-theory. In his and Leonard Mlodinow’s 2010 book, The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking embraces “M-theory” (an extension of string theory that includes 11 dimensions) as “the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe. If it is finite - and this has yet to be proved - it will be a model of a universe that creates itself.”   

Quantum foam creation. The “nothing” of the vacuum of space actually consists of subatomic spacetime turbulence at extremely small distances measurable at the Planck scale - the length at which the structure of spacetime is dominated by quantum gravity. At this scale, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle allows energy to briefly decay into particles and antiparticles, thereby producing “something” from “nothing.” 

Nothing is unstable. In his new book, A Universe from Nothing, cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss attempts to link quantum physics to Einstein’s general theory of relativity to explain the origin of a universe from nothing: “In quantum gravity, universes can, and indeed always will, spontaneously appear from nothing. Such universes need not be empty, but can have matter and radiation in them, as long as the total energy, including the negative energy associated with gravity [balancing the positive energy of matter], is zero.” Furthermore, “for the closed universes that might be created through such mechanisms to last for longer than infinitesimal times, something like inflation is necessary.” 

Observations show that the universe is in fact flat (there is just enough matter to slow its expansion but not to halt it), has zero total energy and underwent rapid inflation, or expansion, soon after the big bang, as described by inflationary cosmology. Krauss concludes: “Quantum gravity not only appears to allow universes to be created from nothing - meaning absence of space and time - it may require them. ‘Nothing’ - in this case no space, no time, no anything! - is unstable.” 

The other hypotheses are also testable. The idea that new universes can emerge from collapsing black holes may be illuminated through additional knowledge about the properties of black holes, which are being studied now. Other bubble universes might be detected in the subtle temperature variations of the cosmic microwave background radiation left over from the big bang of our own universe. NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) spacecraft is collecting data on this radiation. Additionally, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is designed to detect exceptionally faint gravitational waves. If there are other universes, perhaps ripples in gravitational waves will signal their presence. Maybe gravity is such a relatively weak force (compared with electromagnetism and the nuclear forces) because some of it “leaks” out to other universes. 

Even if God is hypothesized as the creator of the laws of nature that caused the universe (or multiverse) to pop into existence out of nothing - if such laws are deterministic - then God had no choice in the creation of the universe and thus was not needed. In any case, why turn to the supernatural when our understanding of the natural is still in its incipient stages? We would be wise to heed this skeptical principle: before you say something is out of this world, first make sure that it is not in this world.

About the author:

Mr. Shermer is also the founding publisher and a frequent contributor to Skeptic magazine. 


Image source here

Saturday, June 9, 2012

When Life Throws You Oranges...

...make an orange marmalade!

The original British orange marmalade is made from juice and peel of the Seville oranges, Citrus x aurantium, also known as bitter oranges. The peel gives the marmalade its distinctive bitter taste. 

In England word "marmalade" is used in respect to any citrus preserve. This is not necessarily the case in other European languages. In Portuguese the word applies to jam made of quinces. In Italian it includes preserves made of any fruit. In Polish the word marmolada applies to a solid, gel-like fruit preserve that, like the Portuguese marmelada, can be cut into slices and is usually made of more than one kind of fruit.

European tradition of making fruit preserves goes back to Antiquity. The ancient Greeks and Romans used to cook quinces with honey. Preserves of quince and lemon appear - along with rose, apple, plum and pear - in the 9th century "Book of ceremonies" of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. This culinary traditions spread to France and Portugal during the Middle Ages and reached England sometime in the beginning of the 15th century.

In 1524, Henry VIII received a "box of marmalade" from Mr. Hull of Exeter. We can assume that since the marmalade was in a box, it must have been the "marmelada"- a solid quince preserve from Portugal.

The first orange marmalade is thought to have been created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots, when he mixed orange and crushed sugar to keep her seasickness at bay. But it was not until the citrus fruit became widely popular in England in the 17th that the word marmalade would refer solely to a citrus preserve. 

I have never made a marmalade before because companies such as Frank Coopers and Fortnum & Mason provide me with a perfect marmalade to satisfy my cravings. But like with everything else, nothing tastes better than a homemade creation.

Here is a rather uncomplicated recipe suggested by Dan Lepard. It yields a medium cut marmalade with a tender orange peel to be enjoyed on a perfectly toasted bread.

  • 1lb 2 oz Seville oranges 
  • 2 fl oz lemon juice  
  • 2lb 4 oz granulated sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • Weigh the oranges and make a note of the weight, as this will tell you how much of the other ingredients you’ll need, to ensure the marmalade sets well. My basic ratio is: both the sugar and the strained liquid from the sliced and simmered oranges should roughly equal twice the weight of the uncooked whole oranges. So if you start with 1lb 2 oz whole oranges, after cooking you want to be left with a 1¾ pint of liquid once the peels have been strained out, and you need 2lb 4 oz of sugar. 
  • Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out the juice, as this makes chopping the peel less messy. Remove any pips from the juice, spoon any remaining pips out of the peel, place them in a tea cup and cover with water. Then chop the peel into shreds about ⅛ inch across and place these in a bowl with the juice and cover with water. Leave both overnight, as this will help the marmalade set well.
  • The next day, place the peel and water in a saucepan. Sieve the pips, place their soaking water (which will have jellied slightly) into the saucepan, then tie the pips in muslin and drop this into the pot. Bring to the boil then simmer for 2-3 hours, topping up with water so that the fruit stays well covered, until the peel is soft when squished between your fingers. Alternatively, cook in a pressure cooker for about 30 minutes.
  • Strain the juice from the peel and measure it. Whatever the original weight of fruit was at the beginning, you want about double that in cooking liquid. So if you started with 1lb 2 oz fruit, then try and have roughly a 1¾ pint of cooking liquid left. If you have more, boil it down in a saucepan to intensify it. If you have less, top it up with water to dilute it.
  • Then add the sugar (double the weight of the oranges), plus 1-2 tbsp brown sugar if you like to make the color darker. Add the strained peel, plus 2 fl oz of lemon juice for every 1lb 2 oz uncooked whole oranges used. Bring to the boil, skim off any white froth and pips that rise to the surface, and then boil until the temperature reaches 220F.
  • Meanwhile sterilize enough jars in the oven and have the lids washed and ready. When the marmalade reaches 220F, turn the heat off and leave for 10 minutes. Ladle the marmalade into a jug then pour this carefully into the jars, leaving just a bare ¼ inch gap at the top. Screw the lid on tightly and leave undisturbed until completely cold.  

If you are experienced enough you may want to try this recipe using other citrus fruits. Try kumquats or Bergamot oranges. You will be surprised.

By Dominique Allmon


Inspiration for this recipe here

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Best Is Yet to Come

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start. - Nido Qubein, American businessman and motivational speaker

Also of interest

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Key to Happiness

Remember. There are 
no keys to happiness. 
The door is always open... 

 Author unknown but greatly appreciated


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Good Advice

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. - Author unknown but greatly appreciated

When it's time to move on

By Lori Deschene 

At the end of my first long-term relationship in college, when it was clear there was nothing left to salvage, I told a mutual friend that I “had to make it work.”

The idea of moving on seemed incomprehensible. I’d invested three years. We’d loved each other, laughed together; hurt each other, grown together. I was young and I made him my everything. How could I possibly let go of us when my own identity was inextricably wrapped in our pairing?

The friend told me I talked as if we were married with kids. I didn’t have to make it work. There was no good reason to stay other than my resistance to the pain of leaving.

How do you ever know when it’s time to walk away from anyone? It always feels so much safer to stay - in a friendship, a romance, and especially a relationship with a family member.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea that love often means letting go. We can still have feelings for someone and recognize that the relationship is irreparable. Sometimes moving on is the best way to love ourselves.

It’s a choice to set two people free instead of continually reliving the same arguments, denying the same incompatibility, and opening the same wounds knowing full well they’ll only heal with time and space.

I’ve written many how-to posts about relationships. I’ve shared my thoughts of kindness, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness, and I’ve even offered suggestions for letting go.

But the truth is there are no simple step-by-step instructions for knowing when it’s time to move on. Surely there are signs. But the most important is that small knowing voice within that says something isn’t right, and it can’t be fixed.

It may never be easy to admit this. Endings always lead to uncertainty, and that can be terrifying.

But they also beget new beginnings, and new opportunities for relationships that don’t leave us feeling depleted and defeated.

How do we know when it’s time to move on? It’s when we find the courage to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that staying will do more harm than good.

We’re the only ones who can admit this to ourselves. And we’re the only ones who can change our lives for the better by finding the strength to walk away.

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha
She recently published her first book Tiny Buddha, Simply Wisdom for Life's Hard Questions

Friday, June 1, 2012

Quote of the Day

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. - Helen Keller