Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 24, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, September 24, 2011 


 NASA’s twin lunar Gravity Recovery And 
Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted 
off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 
Florida Saturday, Sept. 10, to study the Moon in 
unprecedented detail.

GRAIL-A is scheduled to reach the Moon on 
New Year’s Eve 2011, while GRAIL-B will arrive 
New Year’s Day 2012. The two solar-powered 
spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the 
Moon to measure its gravity field. GRAIL will 
answer longstanding questions about the Moon 
and give scientists a better understanding of how 
Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system 

GRAIL’s primary science objectives are to 
determine the structure of the lunar interior, from 
crust to core, and to advance understanding of the 
thermal evolution of the Moon. The lunar orbiters 
are nestled inside the top of a United Launch 
Alliance Delta II 7920H- 10C rocket, the most 
powerful Delta rocket in NASA’s inventory.

 “If there was ever any doubt that Florida’s Space 
Coast would continue to be open for business, 
that thought was drowned out by the roar of 
today’s GRAIL launch,” said NASA Administrator 
Charles Bolden. “GRAIL and many other exciting 
upcoming missions make clear that NASA is 
taking its next big leap into deep space exploration, 
and the space industry continues to provide the 
jobs and workers needed to support this critical 

“Our GRAIL twins have Earth in their rearview 
mirrors and the Moon in their sights,” said David 
Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA’s Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The 
mission team is ready to test, analyze and fine-
tune our spacecraft over the next three-and-a-half 
months on our journey to lunar orbit.”

The straight-line distance from Earth to the 
Moon is approximately 250,000 miles. NASA’s 
Apollo Moon crews needed just three days to 
cover that distance. However, each of the GRAIL 
spacecraft will take some 3.5 months and cover 
more than 2.5 million miles to arrive. This 
extended trajectory takes far less energy than 
the direct one taken by Apollo, but it also results 
in the longer travel time. The 3.5-month flight 
time is actually beneficial, as it allows more time 
for spacecraft check-out and time to update plans 
for lunar operations. After insertion into lunar 
orbit, the science collection phase for 
GRAIL is expected to last 82 days.

“Since the earliest humans 
looked skyward, they have been 
fascinated by the Moon,” said GRAIL 
principal investigator Maria Zuber 
from the Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. 
“GRAIL will take lunar exploration 
to a new level, providing an 
unprecedented characterization of 
the Moon’s interior that will advance 
understanding of how the Moon 
formed and evolved.”

JPL, a division of the California 
Institute of Technology in Pasadena, 
manages the GRAIL mission. GRAIL 
is part of the Discovery Program managed at 
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, 
Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver 
built the spacecraft. Launch management for the 
mission is the responsibility of NASA’s Launch 
Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in 

More information about GRAIL:

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

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 your questions, but I will be totally honest. My objective is to help you achieve 
your employment goal.

 Earlier this year, Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) Cloud Services platform 
experienced a major outage. This caused several major online services to be knocked 
out of service in what is being described by critics of the cloud computing model as 
a real “toldya-so” moment. More than likely, this entire episode was just a bad day 
for Amazon and not much more than that. Users looking for some of their favorite 
web sites at that time, however, were greeted with responses ranging from sluggish 
load times to outright “Site Not Found” messages for hours on end, and the technical 
staff that supports the EC2 organization scrambled for days on end to restore full 
operation to its massive system. 

 Because of the sheer size of Amazon’s cloud, the effect of this outage was felt across 
the internet, although the actual faulty sector of activity appears to be confined 
to the N. Virginia data centers in Amazon’s North American Zone. A visit to the 
Amazon Web Services System Health Dashboard ( 
confirmed that several key areas of the North America zone area experienced 
difficulty and users of the service had reported that calls to tech support for an 
ETA as to the restoration of full service were not answered with a definite time for 
restoration of services. While system downtime is hardly a new experience for most 
computer users, one of the main selling points of the cloud services model is that the 
redundancy built into the system would, in most cases, make downtime a thing of 
the past or at the very least, disruptive for as short a time as possible. The Amazon 
EC2 SLA (Service Level Agreement) found on their website guarantees an uptime 
of 99.95% (4.3 hours of unscheduled downtime in a year). Most users report much 
better uptime stats. Even when downtime falls within the contractually obligated 
terms, 4.3 hours can seem like forever, especially when that time translates into lost 
revenue, as might be the case with an e-commerce site.

 To those unfamiliar with how Amazon EC2 works and what products and 
services they offer you can find information about Amazon’s EC2 at the Amazon 
Web Services homepage ( In a nutshell, AWS offers 
the opportunity to rent computer services and storage space for individuals and 
businesses for the purposes of web hosting, program development, site management 
and other cloud-related services. “Instances” or virtual computers can be rented in a 
wide variety of sizes and configurations to fit individual user needs, ranging from a 
single-site, single-purpose micro-user to a full-blown program development team’s 
virtual server cloud offering online services to thousands or millions of users. 

 AWS also offers many other monitoring and web support features such as Site 
Monitoring and DNS Hosting. If you want a better picture of what “the cloud” is and 
what it has to offer, Amazon Web Services is a good place to start. 

Is it really important to include a cover letter with my resume when applying for positions? I’ve been told that 
no one really reads them. Rosalind

Dear Rosalind

 It is important! Employers do read cover letters submitted with resumes and applications. The cover letter 
completes the application process and demonstrates your professionalism. The letter should be no longer than 
one page and include no more than 4 short paragraphs. The first paragraph should state the reason why you are 
submitting your resume, what position you are interest in and how you found out about the opening. Discuss what 
you know about the company and why you would like to join their team. Include in the second paragraph your 
accomplishments or skills that you feel would add value to their company success. In the next paragraph explain 
why you are currently seeking a position, any gaps in your resume, relocation issues, if you are transitioning 
industries or professions. In the final paragraph include a request for an interview and state that you will follow-
up with them within the week. Be sure to include all your contact information in the cover letter.

I am signed up with several staffing agencies to help me get an administrative assistant position. It has been 
more than 2 months and I have not heard from any of them. I send them an e-mail once a month and they do 
not respond. I am getting desperate for job. I don’t want to make a nuisance of myself with them. What should 
I do? Barbara

Dear Barbara,

 I would suggest that you call them at least once a week. Find out the name of the recruiter who will be working 
with you and develop an on-going relationship with the agency. This will keep you on their active “radar” list 
of candidates seeking positions. Let them know that you need a job immediately, what type of position you are 
willing to accept, salary requirements, and if you are open to temporary, part-time or full-time positions. Staffing 
agencies receive thousands of applicants a month and you can get lost in the “human” process. Staffing agencies 
are financially compensated by employers and therefore are actually working to help employers find employees - 
not necessarily job seekers to find jobs. So, sign up with more than 10 agencies to get the results you are seeking. 

Everything you every wanted to know about how to find a job …. but did not know who to ask. Ask jai. Send your 
questions to or visit website 

KATIE Tse..........This and That

On the Road Again...

 What’s more fun than driving to work on an early Monday 
morning? Driving to work with a friend! One of my coworkers and 
I have been carpooling for a few months now. It’s a step towards 
greenness, short of driving electric cars or biking to work. We have 
the pleasure of each other’s company and conversation. And we 
save money on gas, which is our primary motive.

 A carpooling relationship is a delicate thing. (Not that I’m some carpooling sage, 
this being my first experience at it.) I’ve been at my job for several years now, and 
have some vague idea of where most of my coworkers live. But it’s not as if I could’ve 
walked in there as a fresh hire with a sign reading “Sierra Madrean in search of a 
carpooling buddy!” stuck on my forehead. Nor would it have been nice to question 
everyone as to where they live. Our carpooling relationship evolved over several 
instances when my friend kindly offered to drive me home when my car was on the 
mend. I am deeply grateful. 

 There’s also a necessary element of fairness in any carpooling relationship. You’d 
feel a bit cheated about splitting the bill at a restaurant if the other person ordered foi 
gras, Baltic caviar, and 50 year-old scotch, while you went for the half soup and salad 
combo. Similarly, it just wouldn’t be 
right to tie the carpooling knot with 
someone who lives much closer to 
work than you, or drives a little car 
with great mileage while you drive 
some gas-guzzler SUV or European 
import that demands deluxe 
unleaded petrol.

 In this respect, our carpooling 
relationship works out great! We 
both have light weight four-doors 
of humble origins. We’re also both 
unpretentious people. (Maybe I’m 
being pretentious by saying I’m 
unpretentious. Like how no humble 
person acknowledges their humility. 
Oh well...) My carpool partner has 
manual windows and locks. I have 
yellowing phone books and bags of 
empty cans and bottles, destined for 
the recycler, clinking around in the 
back seat, in addition to three months of grime on the exterior.

 In addition to fairness, carpoolers need to have compatible temperaments if they 
want the relationship to last. I don’t think I could take a daily hour next to someone 
with a “type A” personality. (I had enough of that during grad school.) However, it’s 
amazing what some people will do to save a buck. I once heard of two people who 
both lived in Upland, worked in downtown L.A., and started carpooling midway in 
their careers. Not only did they spend over an hour every morning and afternoon 
belittling each other’s clothes, house, and family over miles of congested freeway, but 
they filled the eight hours in between gossiping about each other. This makes me 
even more grateful for my friend who puts up with my clattering recyclables and bird-
attacked windshield. I hope the money those other two ladies saved was worth it! 

 *In case you missed seeing the inspirational and largely under-publicized film, 
“Forks Over Knives,” you still have another chance! The DVD and book (complete 
with recipes!) are available on Amazon for $14 and $9, respectively. Learn how a 
vegan diet can help stop or REVERSE “progressive” diseases such as diabetes and 
heart disease. Eating kale beats getting a triple bi-pass, so I highly recommend seeing 
the film! 

Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc.

Canyon Canine Dog 

Walking & Pet Sitting Services


For reasons far and away beyond 
my own understanding, donkeys are 
apparently among some of the most 
mistreated, abused and neglected 
animals on earth. To be completely 
honest, my mind has a difficult time 
wrapping itself around the fact that 
any type of animal abuse or neglect 
exists at all, but it happens every day. I 
guess it is an example of how humans 
can misunderstand the nature, needs 
and spirit of another animal species, 
and that ignorance somehow leads to a 
lack of compassion. The happy side of 
this otherwise seemingly grim donkey 
tail is the fact that there are many 
people who do indeed understand 
and appreciate the nature and spirit 
of the donkey, and for that I am very 
grateful. One group of individuals 
who have proven their love for the 
animals are now a part of a non-
profit organization fully committed 
to the health and welfare of otherwise 
neglected donkeys in America. Mark 
and Amy Meyers started their quest 
to rescue and nurture neglected 
donkeys as a backyard hobby over 
a decade ago. It all started with the 
purchase of their first one, named 
“Izzy”, whom they acquired as a pet to 
keep their horse company. Before long, 
they began to notice other donkeys 
residing in the rural area where they 
lived, that were obviously not being 
cared for properly and they did what 
any dedicated donkey lover would do; 
they purchased them one by one and 
nurtured them back to good health. 

Through this process, Mark and 
Amy gained an immense amount 
of love and respect for the animal’s 
peaceful inner spirit and beautiful 
physical traits. In time, after having 
purchased their 25th donkey, the 
Meyers decided it was time to 
establish an actual donkey rescue. 
Eventually, their efforts lead to the 
start of what is now known as the 
Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue 
(PVDR), headquartered in Tehachapi, 
California. Over the course of the next 
ten years, the Rescue grew into a multi-
facility non-profit organization with 
ranches located in 12 different states 
across the USA. Suffice it to say that 
Mark and Amy’s Devine dedication 
to the donkey, spread like wildfire! 
The ranch manager of the Tehachapi 
facility, Tracy Miller took the time to 
share some of his experiences with 
me in preparation for this article. I 
could tell by the tone of his voice that 
he could not imagine doing anything 
but caring for rescued donkeys. It is a 
lot of work, and there are times when 
he gets tired, but to him it is the most 
rewarding way to live his life.

The folks at PVDR recognize that 
the American donkey is one of the 
most misunderstood animals in our 
society, so a big part of their effort 
in changing the treacherous trend 
of mistreatment, is to educate the 
public and thereby hopefully help 
instill a stronger sense of respect for 
the animal. Many people confuse 
the terminology associated with the 
donkey versus other members of the 
horse family (Equidae), so to help 
clarify - “Donkey” is an English term 
derived from “dun” (gray) and “ky” 
(small) In America the term donkey 
is used to describe a domesticated 
burro (Spanish name for the animal). 
Domesticated about 1000 years ago, 
the donkey’s ancestral origin traces 
back to the African Wild Ass. A male 
donkey is called a “jack” and a female 
is a “jenny”. Like other domestic 
horses, newborn female donkeys are 
called fillies and males are called 
foals. A mule, on the other hand is the 
offspring of a jack (male donkey) and 
a mare (female horse). A rarer result 
of mating a male horse and a female 
donkey produces a “hinny”. And 
one wonders why there was ever any 

In addition to a lack of education, 
and most likely a reason way more 
to blame for the mistreatment of 
donkeys, is the fact that we have 
developed into an instant gratification 
society wherein the average citizen 
is focused more on earning money 
than truly sustaining life. In a frenzy 
to “succeed” it seems the human has 
forgotten how they ever achieved the 
“progress” that reaped for them the 
rich rewards they now enjoy. Without 
the “beast of burden” we so depended 
on during the “westward ho” era 
when people were moving across this 
continent, settling and propagating 
for the first time, where would they 
be now? We have suffered somewhat 
of a memory block, my fellow humans 
and I think it’s time to wake up and 
learn to re-appreciate how we ever 
got where we are today. In case you 
have forgotten, the donkey worked 
it’s “ass” off for the human to move 
onward and upward. Why not show 
a little appreciation and respect to the 
beast that has been so dedicated to us? 
First, educate yourself about what is 
happening to these peaceful passive 
animals in our country. While we are 
enjoying the simple pleasures of life, 
those who helped make it happen for 
us are suffering and dieing by the road 

Fortunately, the Peaceful Valley 
Donkey Rescue has managed to make 
a remarkable difference, by caring 
enough to rescue and rehabilitate 
as many neglected donkeys as they 
possibly can. The donkey performed 
willingly throughout history to allow 
the human to thrive, and now we are 
driving them out and destroying them 
at will. If this strikes a note for you 
as an American who appreciates the 
history of our county, then I hope you 
will let it burn in your heart until it 
spreads like wild fire! There are many 
ways you can help in the effort. The 
PVDR website: is 
very informative and user friendly. It 
took me only a matter of seconds to 
send them a tax-deductible money gift 
to help with the costs to operate their 
facilities. They also have a wish list for 
basic needs on the ranch such as water 
hoses, buckets, grass hay and sweet 
feed to name a few. PVDR’s annual 
fund raiser “Donkey Town 2011” will 
be held on the ranch located at 23500 
Sand Canyon Road, Tehachapi, CA on 
October 29 from 9am-4pm admission 
free! The event features live music, 
games & crafts for the kids, donkey 
info. & care clinics, and a donkey 
adoption fair. More details about the 
event are provided on their website. 
Let’s join the effort along with the 
dedicated donkey lovers at Peaceful 
Valley Donkey Rescue. I hope to see 
you there!