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Melanie Stone
Mistress of the Dorkness
Mistress of the Dorkness

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A woman’s place is in the resistance!
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We have fur babies now. Such lovey kitties.

The boys were starting to think I was a fibber saying we’d get cats... a friend tagged me in an urgent placement from a local shelter and I just couldn’t say no.
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I'm going to have to try this...
Sometimes (ok - OFTEN), people like to make a thing much more complicated and scary than it needs to be. Like dry aging beef, for instance.

Chuck steaks were a steal today, and I actually love the flavor of chuck steaks, but they can be a little extra chewy if they're not tenderized somehow. Now you could do the meat mallet thing, but that doesn't have the same effect as dry aging - bruises and breaks down the flesh to make it somewhat easier to chew, but it still doesn't feel tender. Sous vide is a great option for meltingly tender steaks, but it doesn't intensify the flavor of the beef like dry aging does.

This is my dry aging contraption - a little kids' toy crate with some elevation, a grill or grate to go on top so that your steaks get air on top and bottom, and some paper towels.

A couple of things happen when you dry age steaks:

1) You give the meat's natural enzymes a chance to develop and begin the process of breaking down the muscles, which makes them more tender. One of the enzymes that develops is glutamate, and that glutamate (think monosodium glutamate, as in MSG), just like it does in MSG, helps the development, and our detection, of flavor, particularly umami.

2) The water content in the meat reduces, thereby concentrating and intensifying the flavor.

And this results in a tender, juicy, and especially beefy tasting steak.

So assuming you have a well operating refrigerator, and while you can't create as precise an environment as a steak house has for dry aging, you can achieve much the same result at home by:

- patting your steaks dry,
- wrapping them up in a couple of layers of paper towel (a steak diaper, as a friend liked to call it), and changing it out every 24 hours or so
- setting them on a rack (so moisture doesn't collect on the underside), and
- putting them in the back of your fridge (where the temperature is colder and more stable)

for a minimum of 3 days.

We'll probably go 4 or 5 days with these (you could go several days longer if you like, particularly with bigger, thicker cuts) before we grill them over mesquite coals, and they will be tender, flavorful, and DELICIOUS. :)))

#cooking #homecooking #dryaging #steak
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Voyager 1

Launched 40 years ago, the Voyagers are our longest-lived and most distant spacecraft. Voyager 2 has reached the edge of the heliosphere, the realm where the solar wind and the Sun's magnetic field live. Voyager 1 has already left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space! A new movie, The Farthest, celebrates the Voyagers' journey toward the stars:

What has Voyager 1 been doing lately? I'll skip its amazing exploration of the Solar System...

Exit from the heliosphere

On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 took the first ever "family portrait" of the Solar System as seen from outside. This includes the famous image of planet Earth known as Pale Blue Dot. Soon afterwards its cameras were deactivated to conserve power and computer resources. The camera software has been removed from the spacecraft, so it would now be hard to get it working again. And here on Earth, the software for reading these images is no longer available!

On February 17, 1998, Voyager 1 reached a distance of 69 AU from the Sun - 69 times as far from the Sun than we are! In doing this, it overtook Pioneer 10 as the most distant spacecraft from Earth. Traveling at about 17 kilometers per second, it's moving away from the Sun faster than any other spacecraft.

That's 520 million kilometers per year — hard to comprehend. I find it easier to think about this way: it's 3.6 AU per year. That's really fast — but not if you're trying to reach other stars. It will take 20,000 years just to go one light-year.

Termination shock

As Voyager 1 headed for interstellar space, its instruments continued to study the Solar System. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University said that Voyager 1 entered the termination shock in February 2003. This is a bit like a 'sonic boom', but in reverse - it's the place where the solar wind drops to below the speed of sound. Yes, sound can move through the solar wind, but only sound with extremely long wavelengths - nothing humans can hear.

Some other scientists expressed doubt about this, and the issue wasn't resolved until other data became available, since Voyager 1's solar-wind detector had stopped working in 1990. This failure meant that termination shock detection had to be inferred from the other instruments on board. We now think that Voyager 1 reached the termination shock on December 15, 2004 - at a distance of 94 AU from the Sun.


In May 2005, a NASA press release said that Voyager 1 had reached the heliosheath. This is a bubble of stagnant solar wind, moving below the speed of sound. It's outside the termination shock but inside the heliopause, where the interstelllar wind crashes against the solar wind.

On March 31, 2006, amateur radio operators in Germany tracked and received radio waves from Voyager 1 using a 20-meter dish. They checked their data against data from the Deep Space Network station in Madrid, Spain and yes - it matched. This was the first amateur tracking of Voyager 1.

On December 13, 2010, the the Low Energy Charged Particle device aboard Voyager 1 showed that it passed the point where the solar wind flows away from the Sun. We suspected that at this point the solar wind turns sideways due to the push of the interstellar wind. On this date, the spacecraft was approximately 17.3 billion kilometers from the Sun, or 116 AU.

In March 2011, Voyager 1 was commanded to change its orientation to measure the sideways motion of the solar wind. How? I don't know. Its solar wind detector was broken.

But anyway, a test roll done in February had confirmed the spacecraft's ability to maneuver and reorient itself. So, in March it rotated 70 degrees counterclockwise with respect to Earth to detect the solar wind. This was the first time the spacecraft had done any major maneuvering since the Family Portrait photograph of the planets was taken in 1990.

After the first roll the spacecraft had no problem in reorienting itself with Alpha Centauri, Voyager 1's guide star, and it resumed sending transmissions back to Earth.

On December 1, 2011, it was announced that Voyager 1 had detected the first Lyman-alpha radiation originating from the Milky Way galaxy. Lyman-alpha radiation had previously been detected from other galaxies, but because of interference from the Sun, the radiation from the Milky Way was not detectable.

Puzzle: What the heck is Lyman-alpha radiation?

On December 5, 2011, Voyager 1 saw that the Solar System's magnetic field had doubled in strength, basically because it was getting compressed by the pressure of the interstellar wind. Energetic particles originating in the Solar System declined by nearly half, while the detection of high-energy electrons from outside increased 100-fold. At this point Voyager 1 was 113 AU from the Sun.


In June 2012, NASA announced that the probe was detecting even more charged particles from interstellar space. This meant that it was getting close to the heliopause: the place where the gas of interstellar space crashes into the solar wind.

Voyager 1 actually crossed the heliopause in August 2012, although it took another year to confirm this. It was 121 AU from the Sun.

Voyager 1 will reach the Oort cloud, the region of frozen comets, in about 300 years. It will take 30,000 years to pass through the Oort cloud. Though it is not heading towards any particular star, in about 40,000 years it will pass within 1.6 light-years of the star Gliese 445.

NASA says that

The Voyagers are destined — perhaps eternally — to wander the Milky Way.

That's an exaggeration. The Milky Way will not last forever.

But still: the Voyager's journey is just beginning. Let's wish them a happy 40th birthday!

My story here is adapted from this Wikipedia article:

You can download PDFs of posters commemorating the Voyagers here:
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Really interesting read...
Well, well. I’ve done many interviews but I never thought I’d be in FASHION Magazine! The article is serious though, about how we — as individuals, nation and species — are all-too easily poisoned by the addictive drug of self-righteous indignation. The writer brought in a number of interesting perspectives I had not seen or considered, till now.

But do go to the source… my original call for research into indignation addiction, which was republished in Barbara Oakley’s tome PATHOLOGICAL ALTRUISM.

This is a poison that can be especially ruinous in times like ours, when cynical oligarchs are deliberately raking coals to get us all riled up. Yes! There’s plenty to be angry about. But that has almost nothing to do with the thing we must seek calmly and rationally. Victory.
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