Packing Your Festival Essentials Even though Christmas is more than 7 months away, and is one of the furthest things from most Long Islanders" minds, but this cold and dreary weather this week has me thinking of happier times while wearing a sweater... Fishing is another popular pastime in Lorne. Beach fishing can be good but most anglers seem to prefer the Lorne pier where you can catch just about anything. Whiting and Flathead are a common catch and in winter you can get on to a school of Snapper. Squid can also be caught by jigging at the end of the pier. If you don"t have any luck there is no need to worry because the local fishing co-op is right near the pier and they do sport wristbands very good fish and chips.

KEN STRINGFELLOW: I love a couple bands I worked with recently--Oh, Libia! from Spain, who are like freaked out Apples In Stereo; and Hanggai, from Beijing, who mix Mongolian folk music with rock and indie sounds. The Black Weirdo Tour began in Austin, Texas where the group performed for the city"s annual, South By South West festival wristbands. Next on the list was a trip to California where the duo performed two shows. Now they"re here in Toronto for a 3 day performance set. It"s been more than a decade from the time when that first Funk Fest was performed, the event wristbands has blossomed into a 5 city annual event that attracts more than 10,000 people per city and is expected to invade a total of 15 cities by 2015. Funk Fest can be seen in Atlanta GA, Memphis TN, St. Petersburg/Tampa FL, Jacksonville FL, and now in Orlando FL. It may fall on any day during May depend on which calendar year. If you"re at Kuching during this period, visit the Buddhist temples, the place that the crowds are gathered on this special occasion. The rhyme does go into strange details about the horse, that most of it is made of hay or straw. Unless this is a metaphor for tangled hair it unlikely that this was a real horse, I should imagine... Maybe the rhyme came from a toy horse. The hay is described as "pounce" which I haven"t heard used as an adjective, and draw a blank.

Researchers harvest seawater rice in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Thursday.[Photo by Zhang Wei/China Daily]

New variety said to have potential for providing food to hundreds of millions

The country"s first seawater rice fields in Qingdao, Shandong province, were harvested on Thursday.

Of the four types of seawater rice harvested, the one with the highest yield reached 9.3 metric tons per hectare, much higher than expected, experts said.

The other three types yielded 8.2 tons, 7.4 tons and 6.6 tons per hectare, according to a report by a group of agricultural experts who measured the harvest.

"The planting of rice in seawater has seen its first success, and the planting area will be expanded next year," said Yuan Longping-who has been dubbed "the father of hybrid rice". Yuan led the research.

The rice was grown in two fields that were planted in April.

Seawater rice, or salt-alkali-tolerant rice, is designed to grow in tidal flats and saline-alkaline land and can survive after being immersed in seawater.

Yuan and his team set up a research center in Qingdao to develop seawater rice last year.

He said the seawater rice is vital to China"s food security. The world has 950 million hectares of land that is saline and alkaline, with Asia accounting for about one-third of the total. China has 100 million hectares of saline-alkaline soil.

Growing rice is the first choice to improve the quality of such soil, Yuan said.

"If 50 percent of the world"s rice paddies grew hybrids, rice production would increase by another 150 million tons, and 400 to 500 million more people could be fed," Yuan said.

Yuan"s team plans to develop a type of seawater rice that can be planted in 6.67 million hectares of saline-alkaline land around China, which they estimate could boost the country"s rice harvest by about 20 percent.

"Sea rice grown on saline-alkaline land has more mineral content than ordinary rice because seawater contains high levels of microelements," said Yang Hongyan, who works at Qingdao"s seawater rice research and development center.

"In addition, sea rice grows in a wild environment, is not contaminated by heavy metals and isn"t subject to plant diseases or insect pests," Yang said.