Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, March 19, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 14



 Mountain Views News Saturday, March 19, 2011

MESSENGER Spacecraft Enters Mercury Orbit

After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system and six 
planetary flybys, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft was scheduled 
to move into orbit around the planet Mercury on March 17. The 
durable spacecraft-carrying seven science instruments and fortified 
against the blistering environs near the Sun-will be the first ever to 
orbit the innermost planet.

“From the outset of this mission, our goal has been to gather the 
first global observations of Mercury from orbit,” says MESSENGER 
Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of 
Washington. “At the time of our launch more than six and a half 
years ago, that goal seemed but a distant dream. MESSENGER is 
now poised to turn that dream into reality.”

To move the spacecraft from its wide-ranging orbit around the 
Sun to an orbit around Mercury is a complex maneuver. First, the 
solar arrays, telecommunications, attitude control, and autonomy 
systems have to be configured for the main thruster firing (known as 
a “burn”), and the spacecraft, operating on commands transmitted 
last week from Earth, is turned to the correct orientation for 
MESSENGER’s Mercury orbit insertion maneuver.

To slow the spacecraft down sufficiently to be “captured” by 
Mercury, MESSENGER’s main thruster has to be fired for about 15 
minutes. This burn slows the spacecraft by 1,929 miles per hour and 
consumes 31 percent of the propellant that the spacecraft carried at 
launch. Less than 9.5 percent of the usable propellant at the start 
of the mission will remain after completing the orbit insertion 
maneuver, but the spacecraft still will have plenty of propellant for 
orbit adjustments during its yearlong science campaign.

After the burn, the spacecraft is scheduled to turn toward Earth 
and resume normal operations. Data will be collected by Deep 
Space Network antennas and transferred to the Mission Operations 
Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory 
(APL) in Laurel, Md., to be analyzed.

The maneuver - which will be completed at a time when 
MESSENGER is more than 96 million miles from Earth - places the 
probe in an orbit that brings it as close as 124 miles to Mercury’s 
surface. The spacecraft was scheduled to begin its first full orbit 
around Mercury on March 18, and the probe will continue to 
orbit Mercury once every 12 hours for the duration of its primary 

 “For the first two weeks of orbit, we’ll be focused on ensuring 
that the spacecraft systems are all working well in Mercury’s harsh 
thermal environment,” says APL’s Eric Finnegan, the MESSENGER 
Mission Systems Engineer. “Starting on March 23 the instruments 
will be turned on and checked out, and on April 4 the science phase 
of the mission will begin and the first orbital science data from 
Mercury will be returned.”

While in orbit, MESSENGER’s instruments will perform the first 
complete reconnaissance of the cratered planet’s geochemistry, 
geophysics, geological history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and 
plasma environment.

“The marathon cruise phase of the MESSENGER mission is nearing 
the finish line,” says Solomon. “We are extremely excited by the 
prospect that orbital operations will soon begin.”

You can contact Bob Eklund at:

Ask jai……

Ask jai is a weekly column that will strive to honestly answer your job search questions relating 
to job searching techniques, networking skills, resume writing and interviewing. The employment 
situation is getting better, however, it is still a challenge finding were the jobs are located and how to 
get pass the “gate-keepers”. As an Executive Recruiter I was privy to working directly with Corporate 
Recruiters and understanding their process in selecting which candidates to interview and hire. I will 
candidly answer your questions, possibly bluntly answering you questions, but I will be totally honest. 
My objective is to help you achieve your employment goal.

Sock the rescue!

 Many of the blogs that I like 
to visit daily have a section 
for posting comments 
about the preceding 
article or the subject of 
conversation. Some of the 
more mainstream blogs 
with larger audiences 
can attract hundreds of 
commenters depending 
upon the topic. I often find 
myself skipping the actual 
article and heading straight 
to the comments section to 
see what others have to say 
about something that may 
have been well covered in 
the news. On the technical 
blogs that I frequent, the 
most common trend is 
for commenters to share 
their personal experiences 
in relation to the topic 
at hand. Sometimes the 
conversations do devolve 
into bouts of partisan 
bickering (eg, Mac vs. 
PC, Linux vs. everything, 
etc). Most often these 
exchanges are all about the 
transfer and showcase of 
technical knowledge. On 
pop culture and celebrity 
sites, the camps usually 
divide themselves into for 
and against based upon 
the commenters’ personal 
opinion of the current celeb 
being discussed. On the 
political blogs I frequent, the 
comments section is a much 
different animal altogether. 
Politics and political 
discussions in general have 
a tendency to bring out the 
inner “soap-box hero” in 
many people and the online 
version of these discussions 
have the propensity to do 
the same on a much larger 
scale and for a much larger 
group of participants at one 
time. These blogs also bring 
out a certain type of online 
behavior that’s not usually 
found in other single-topic 
blogs and this behavior is 
commonly called “Sock 
Puppetry” in the online 
world. A “sock puppet” is 
an online identity created 
for an expressed purpose 
of allowing one poster to 
appear to be a different 
poster or multiple different 
posters and post views that 
may not be congruent with 
the true views of the poster. 
Often a sock puppet will 
post comments or reviews 
that support a product or 
viewpoint that they have 
a vested interest in while 
disparaging products or 
viewpoints that compete 
with those of their 
interests. Sock Puppets are 
distinguished from their 
close kin known as “trolls” 
by the fact that trolls most 
often post comments that 
are meant to inflame the 
participants or disrupt 
discussion altogether. 
Where trolls seek to disrupt 
or derail conversation, sock 
puppets attempt to influence 
the discussion by presenting 
themselves as interested 
parties with input relevant 
to the topic at hand. This 
can be an effective strategy 
for changing the tone and 
confidence of an online 
discussion group in the 
hands of a skilled operator, 
especially if they can escape 
detection by sowing the 
seeds of mis-information, 
fear, uncertainty and doubt 
where none previously 
existed. These tactics also 
have the benefit of existing 
online where information 
and viewpoints are often 
presented as true facts just 
because someone read them 
somewhere else online. As 
social media becomes a 
more dominant news source 
and place for discussion 
of matters big and small 
throughout the world 
(witness the latest revolts 
in North Africa and the 
Middle East), the ability to 
influence online discussions 
would be a valuable tool 
indeed to have on ones’ side. 
Apparently the US military 
agrees with this assessment. 

 Ntrepid, “online persona 
management service”, 
has been awarded a $2.76 
million contract to set up, 
maintain and monitor large 
numbers of “sock puppet” 
accounts in order to 
influence online discussions 
in areas of the world where 
the US would like to have its 
interests better represented. 
Head’s Up: Talk isn’t that 
cheap and it’s better left to 
the professionals.

Q: How do I get motivated to search for a job? I’ve been unemployed for a long time. I did finish High School and I have 
completed a medical billing program from a private trade school. I have never worked for more than a couple of months in a 
medical setting yet I would like to get a job doing what I was trained to do. Where do I go? Myra

Dear Myra: 

 The words money and survival have always been great motivators for me. I am making an assumption you are surviving financially 
and therefore not in a desperate need for a job ... at least not yet. And I hope you will never be in a desperate situation, either 
financially or to survive. To say all that … I am guessing you really want to find work in the field you love and for which you 
paid for an education. Fortunately for you, the medical and healthcare fields are the key areas to find employment. You did not 
indicate why you have only worked a few months, and how long you have been unemployed. I would strongly suggest you contact 
the school where you completed the medical billing program and ask for their assistance in finding a position. Trade schools are 
constantly contacted by employers searching for people to hire. Go on-line and do some research for jobs in your local area. Type 
in the browser Medical Biller and Healthcare as a few of your keywords. Contact all the hospitals and medical facilities in your 
area. Then contact Doctor, Dentist and other medical offices. Don’t forget to look for medical billing positions with Insurance 
companies (that could be another infinite number). Use the telephone to call and make contact with key decision/hiring makers. 
Send your resume and cover via e-mail. Register with all temporary agencies. I am sure Work-At-Home is possible as long as you 
have the technical equipment. Your resources and employment (how about the word “potential”) as a Medical Biller should be 
never-ending. To further encourage and motivate you I have reprinted statistical information from the U.S. Department of Labor-
Bureau of Labor Statistics :

Current and Projected Employment for Medical Billers:

2008 Employment 528,800

2018 Employment 609,600

Employment Change (Increase) 80,000

Growth Rate 15%

Employment is expected to grow faster than average (should this be in blue?). Automated and electronic billing processes have 
streamlined billing departments, but job growth is expected due to an increasing number of transactions, especially in the rapidly 
growing healthcare industry.

The following websites should be useful in further assisting you in your job search:

Medical Biller Associations websites:,,, and . A 
Medical Biller is a secure profession and obviously an excellent career path and job security. 

Everything you ever wanted to know about how to get a job ….but did not know who to ask. ASK jai. Send 
your questions to: or visit website www.resumeandcareerservicesc, or call 

At 48 years old (or 48 years young, 
depending on your perspective!) I have 
come to appreciate true friendship more 
than ever before in my life. I must say 
that I feel blessed to have obtained many 
loyal friends over the years, and for that 
I am very grateful. One thing that came 
to mind for me recently as I reflected on 
this fact, is that most of my closest and 
dearest friends are quite a lot different 
from me in many ways. Some are much 
older than I, and some are considerably 
younger. Many do not look anything like 
me; they are not the same color, shape or 
size and many come from very different 
cultures. Several of my dearest friends 
do not walk or talk like me nor do they 
speak my language, yet they know me 
intimately and love me unconditionally. 
“Where and how”, one might ask “could 
you have found such genuine friendships 
in people with whom you have so little 
in common?” The answer is simple: First 
of all, I am drawn to diversity when it 
comes to personal interaction with other 
human beings, and secondly, I spend a 
lot of my time hanging out with animals! 
Fortunately the humans and animals 
I spend time with are kind and open-
minded enough to accept me just the 
way I am, and I accept them in the same 
way, therefore friendship is, for the most 
part, inevitable.

Among my closest canine companions 
is one in particular that has made such 
a positive impact on me that I decided 
to write about her. I consider her an 
inspiration, and I think her example 
could help do away with one of today‘s 
most damaging urban myths about 
dogs. The friend I am referring to is 
an 8 year old little girl named “Chata“. 
Chata has a beautiful, shiny golden 
coat with matching smiling eyes. She is 
symmetrically near-perfect from one 
side of her body to the other. She’s as fit as 
a fiddle and healthy as a horse, with not 
an ounce of spare fat and plenty of tight 
muscle to fill out her petite stature in all 
the proper places. Her bone structure 
is striking with alluring curvature 
including a dramatically “to-die-for” 
slim waist (don‘t I wish!). Her senses are 
extremely keen, and her heart is bigger 
and warmer than that of any other dog 
I believe I have ever known. Chata lives 
quite the life of leisure, with her family 
of 4 humans including 2 small children, 
and a 2-year-old Chocolate Lab named 
“Charlie Brown”. She is amazingly aware 
of how lucky she is to have been adopted 
into a fabulous family who loves and 
cares for her beyond expectation. When 
Chata looks directly into your eyes, I tell 
you she melts your heart. She is truly a 
charm. One might then ask, “What kind 
of dog is Chata?” Chata is what is most 
commonly known as a Pit Bull, but her 
official breed title is American Pit Bull 
Terrier. So, are you surprised that such 
a sweet, loving dog could be a Pit Bull? 
Well, you shouldn’t be, and here is why.

Known for their intelligence and 
loyalty, American Pit Bull Terriers 
make excellent, loving and very 
protective companions despite the bad 
reputation they have gained due to 
the unfair press they receive. They are 
commonly confused with the American 
Staffordshire Terrier, and apparently 
in the eyes of the United Kennel Club 
(UKC), they are indeed considered 
to be the same breed, however many 
disagree. Some AKC (American Kennel 
Club)-registered American Staffordshire 
Terriers are dual-registered as American 
Pit Bull Terriers with the UKC. The 
AKC, on the other hand does not 
allow a UKC-registered American 
Pit Bull Terrier to be registered as an 
American Staffordshire Terrier. To be 
dual-registered, the dog must first be an 
AKC-registered American Staffordshire 
Terrier and then it can be registered 
with the UKC as an APBT -- but not 
vice versa. Having said all of that, I am 
an individual who would rather steer 
clear of canine breed titles and labeling 
altogether. To me, it is much more 
important that each dog be recognized 
as an individual, each with his own 
unique personality characteristics and 
qualities, the same way we strive to view 
our fellow human beings.

My beautiful American Pit Bull Terrier 
friend named Chata defies all negative 
rumors you may have heard about the 
personality traits and behaviors that 
are “typical” for her breed. She puts 
you at ease the moment you are in her 
presence, both with her body language 
and her eye contact. She respects others 
more than most humans do, in my 
opinion and she is a great “nanny” to 
her baby brother, Charlie. She displays 
humility by lowering her head slightly 
when you first greet her, then she begins 
her child-like writhing back and forth 
with her tail swiftly whipping from one 
side of her groin to the other. She lets 
out a tiny whimper now and then when 
she is really excited, as if to say “I am so 
glad to see you”. Contrary to what some 
people think about her breed, Chata 
is by far one of the most sensitive and 
loyal canine companions that I have 
ever known. As humans beings, we 
have learned to be very careful not to 
jump to conclusions about one another, 
regardless of color, race or creed. In fact 
there are laws that prohibit us from such 

Well, I say it’s high time that we learned 
to apply the same moral principals to 
the way we view and treat man’s best 
friend! Many rumors have been spread 
indicating that Pit Bulls are vicious 
dogs that are likely to attack, but in 
reality they are quite the opposite, and 
again let’s remember that each dog is an 
individual. It is well put in the old adage 
“You Can’t judge a book by its cover”. 
Yes, some Pit Bulls are not friendly, but 
that is true of every breed and the reason 
most likely lies in the fact that they 
have been either neglected or treated 
cruelly. The Pit Bull was originally bred 
to fight, (who’s warped idea was that?) 
but thankfully, breeding dogs to fight 
has since been outlawed. If we assume 
things about a dog based on appearance 
or breed, are we not breaking our own 
moral law as human beings to refrain 
from judging one another based on 
race or national origin? I say treat every 
dog with kindness, approach them with 
care, and respect them as you wish to 
be respected. If man wants the dog to 
behave kindly, man must be kind to 
the dog. After all, dogs are people, too. 
Thanks, Chata for being a charming 
example for your breed!

Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you had a wonderful time! I am 
writing this prior to the holiday, so I hope that I will have had a 
wonderful time, too. St. Patrick’s Day is probably the only day when 
there might be a run on cabbages and potatoes at the market. It’s a day 
to exhume that old Crock-pot you received as a wedding gift so many 
years ago, rinse off another year’s worth of dust and bug carcasses, and 
throw in some well-marbled beef. Everyone praises Crock-pots for 
their hassle-free ease. “Just turn it on and go about your day!” I don’t 
think I’d be able to go about my day knowing that a kitchen appliance might catch the 
apartment complex on fire.

Since I obviously don’t do the Crock-pot thing, I just had to do some light research to 
see how they’ve sexed up this mainstay of the 1970’s newly married housewife. As if to 
answer my question, the first image that popped up on the 
Crock-pot website was of four guys cheering (supposedly 
for some for some sporting event), with an “entertainment” 
triple Crock-pot set before them. It is essentially three little 
Crock-pots joined in a long base. I found this hilarious, 
since guys watching sports and Crock-pots were two of 
the things least likely to be associated in my mind. My 
husband, however, found the idea totally plausible, saying 
the little pots probably held cream cheese and Hormel No 
Beans chili (apparently something he used to enjoy in his 
college days).

Even if I don’t actually do the cooking, I love traditional 
corned beef, cabbage, and root vegetable meals. However, 
like fish and chips and shrimp tacos; corned beef and 
cabbage is one of those things that you have to have with 
beer. Similar to Oktoberfest, you could do wine, but just 
know that everyone else will be swinging a frothy stein. I’m 
definitely more of a wine person than a beer person, but I’ve 
learned to, if not love, at least like a few beers. As with most 
of my articles, here’s another huge, obvious disclaimer –I 
know next to nothing about beer! My comments are purely for your amusement and to 
make you feel more knowledgeable by comparison.

My first beer experiences were just about washing the stuff down fast enough to not 
grimace by letting the flavor linger on my palate. Like with other foods you don’t 
initially like, it is possible to acquire a taste for them if you pair them with something 
you already like. Here enters beer-able foods (pizza, barbeque, hot wings, etc.). At 
first I enjoyed Coronas, but my beer enthusiast friend discouraged me from drinking 
this “low-brow brew” in public. (So my husband and I occasionally enjoy a couple in 
private.) New Castle is good, and we discovered Dogfish Head Pale Ale after watching 
an interesting documentary about harsh competition in the American beer market.

Although I’ve only dared tasting it once, I am a frequent buyer of Black Goat Ale for 
my dad (name changed because he fears a run on the stuff). If you’ve never had the 
pleasure, this stout is the color of motor oil. Since I’ve never tasted motor oil I can’t 
stretch the comparison further, but my dad loves it. One beer creation I would like to 
try is “Guinness punch.” Originating in Jamaica, this cocktail combines Guinness stout, 
sweetened condensed milk, and spices. Hey, it sounds too weird not to be good! Who 
knows, maybe it even goes well with corned beef!