Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, May 26, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 11



 Mountain Views News Saturday, May 26, 2012 


On Tuesday afternoon, June 5th, 
everyone in the United States will 
have a chance to witness one of the 
rarest celestial phenomena known: 
a “transit of Venus.” Such an event 
occurs when the planet Venus 
passes exactly between the Earth 
and the Sun, and these events are 
incredibly rare. Since first predicted 
by the German mathematician and 
astronomer Johannes Kepler in 
the 17th century, only six transits 
of Venus have ever been observed. 
Weather permitting, the transit on 
June 5th will be the seventh.

Transits of Venus occur at regular 
intervals that repeat over a 243-year 
period. Intervals between successive 
transits are 8 years, 105.5 years, 8 
years, and 120.5 years. The next 
transit of Venus won’t occur until 
December 11, 2117.

Kepler predicted the transit of December 7, 1631, but died 
before the event occurred. The next transit, on December 
4, 1639, was observed by only two individuals, Jeremiah 
Horrocks and William Crabtree, from England.

In 1677 Edmond Halley (of Halley’s Comet fame) observed 
a transit of Mercury from St. Helena Island and realized that 
such events, if observed from many widely-spaced sites, 
could provide an exact geometric measure of the size of the 
solar system. His work led to several far-flung expeditions 
to observe the Venus transits of June 6, 1761 and June 3, 
1769. One of the British expeditions to the latter transit was 
led by Captain James Cook and sparked Cook’s discovery of 
Tahiti and Australia. Scientific results from these expeditions 
were mixed, but enough experience was gained to attempt 
observations of the next series in the late 19th century.

The transits of December 9, 1874, and December 6, 1882, were 
met with an armada of scientific expeditions equipped with 
state-of-the-art astronomical instruments. The U.S. Congress 
funded and outfitted eight separate expeditions for each event 
and placed overall scientific direction of these teams under 
the command of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Once again 
the results were inconclusive, but many of the instruments 
from these expeditions are still in the Naval Observatory’s 

The 20th century saw no transits of Venus; the next one 
occurred on June 8, 2004. By this time the size of the solar 
system had been well-established, so observing the Venus 
transit became more of an historical event than a scientific 


In California, this year’s transit will begin at 3:06 p.m. Pacific 
Daylight Time. Mid-transit is at 6:25 p.m., and the Sun sets 
at 8:02 p.m.—before the end of the transit. Do NOT look at 
the Sun without eye protection. If you have eclipse-viewing 
glasses left over from the recent solar eclipse, they will provide 
the needed protection for viewing this event as well. 
However, Venus will be a very small dot on the Sun’s disk 
and a bit difficult to see without magnification.

A better way to see the transit is to go to Griffith Observatory, 
which will be set up to show and explain the event. It will be 
open June 5 from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m., with viewing via 
the coelostat in the Observatory as well as telescopes on the 
lawn. Observatory staff will be giving talks and explanations 
throughout the event. Viewing filters and eclipse glasses will 
be available for purchase at the gift shop. Because of the large 
crowd expected, it would be best to check with Griffith for 
parking instructions.

Griffith Observatory information:

More Transit of Venus information and graphics:

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@MtnViewsNews.


 Sometimes inspiration 
comes from the most unusual 
places. I was in the ladies’ 
room at work and, for the first 
time, actually read the label 
on the inside of the stall door. 
I’ve noticed the sticker before; 
it has a picture of the door with metal layers 
peeling off like an onion. It was probably meant 
to impress us. And indeed I am impressed, 
because I certainly wouldn’t know where to begin 
if I had to build a bathroom stall door by myself. 
Anyway, this time I read the label. “Bonderized,” 
it said. I’d heard of bonded, as 
in, “The step-father bonded with 
his wife’s son during their fishing 
trip.” And then there’s bonded 
like, “The miracle of triglycerides 
was discovered when scientists 
bonded hydrogen to carbon; 
laying ground for margarine and 
‘Cheese Whiz’.” But “bonderized”... 
The first thing that came to mind 
was Bond. James Bond.

 Working from this definition, 
to Bonderize something means 
to infuse it with stealth, danger, a 
Scottish accent, promiscuity, or all 
of the above. A Bonderized drink 
is shaken, not stirred. Since Agent 
007 is known for nifty gadgets, dull 
or embarrassing housewares can be Bonderized 
to resemble something more fashionable. For 
example, you might cringe if your guests saw 
your nose/ear-hair trimmer lying in plain view 
on the bathroom counter. But if it looks like a 
remote control, they might think, “Ooh, I bet he 
has a TV or stereo system hooked up somewhere 
in here!” 

 The rest of the stall door sticker was worn 
with age, and I could barely read something to 
the effect of “Sanyware: Guaranteed life long 
quality.” I considered crouching down to get a 
better look, but was afraid coworkers would think 
I was weird for staying in there so long. Would 
someone recognize my shoes (nondescript flats 
from Payless)? Whenever I am in a stall next 
to someone whose feet aren’t moving, I always 
worry that they’ve had a stroke or something. 
Maybe I should bring my new, souped up phone 
and take a picture. It would be silent enough 
to not draw attention, but that particular day I 
had no pockets in which to conceal the phone. I 
worried that people would think I was a pervert 
or something. I considered asking one of the 
guys if their stall (assuming they had at least one) 
was “Bonderized.” No one at work knows I write 
for the paper, so I couldn’t say, “It’s for an article!” 
I’d have to come up with some plausible reason 
for taking interest in the gents’ room stall doors. 
I could see myself blundering, “It’s for a project 
I’m working on... about the relative durability of 
different metals... or 

 I looked up 
“Sanyware,” and it 
appears that they’re 
still operating, 
specializing in 
different stall 
arrangements and 
galvanization. A 
teacher friend told me 
of a bathroom at her 
school that was built 
during the depression 
by the WPA. “Peter 
Goodwall” evidently 
made sure that his 
tilework would be 
there for some time, because he engraved his 
name upon a floor tile --in one of the stalls. 
I’ve never designed or built a public bathroom, 
but perhaps if I did, I’d want to leave a lasting 
impression, too. Maybe I’d scrawl the rabbit at 
toilet eye level. I don’t know if I’d be bold enough 
to leave my name. I might just write, “This & that 
& the other.” 

 As if the idea of Bonderization wasn’t 
captivating enough, I then noticed the bottom of 
the sticker read, “To be removed after architect’s 
inspection.” Not only is this obviously a really 
old bathroom stall, but apparently it’s never even 
been inspected! I suppose the danger of using 
an uninspected stall adds a certain flair to using 
the ladies’ room. In that sense, it certainly is 

The Big Deal - Not Online

 Even if you had been on a desert island, without access to any form of media for the last week, it 
would be hard to imagine that by now you hadn’t heard the big news. 

 Well, if you have been “out there”, let me be the first to tell you that Facebook has gone public. 
Investors in the new publicly traded company now own some 421 million shares in the single 
company that has come to define the term “social networking”. Shares in the initial public offering 
(IPO) had an offering price of $38 per share. After trading at times above $42, the price closed at 
$38.23 Friday. Since that time the stock has been trending downward, closing at $31 at the time of 
this writing. 

 The company was valued at $104 billion at the opening of the IPO and raised $16 billion, making 
it the third largest IPO in trading history. Skeptics argue the company’s staying power and profit 
potential have been overhyped, while fans see it as the world’s must-own social media stock. It may 
take a while to know which side is right. 

 On the “buy” side of this debate, Facebook has unrivaled clout in its market, with roughly 1 in 8 
people on the planet using the site to swap photos and information and more are signing up every 
day. That’s a platform of activity that the company can monetize through advertising revenue and 
add-on services. 

 The negative view is that, while all that may be true, it may not justify the company’s current market 
value on Friday of close to $100 billion. After an extraordinary growth surge since its founding 
in 2004, Facebook is now gaining customers and revenue at a decelerating pace. If future growth 
doesn’t come in strong, the share price could easily go down rather than up. 

 The tug-and-pull between those views seemed evident Friday. There was enthusiasm enough to 
push the stock above its offering price, but skepticism was strong enough to keep it from soaring and, 
based on all that the public has endured at the hands of the “market” over the last 10 years or so, one 
would wonder how so much enthusiasm could be ginned up for this deal. 

 It turns out that this IPO really wasn’t really the first time that shares in the company had been 
bought and sold. Microsoft purchased Facebook stock in 2007 and the company had been traded 
internationally for little more than a year before the American offering last week. 

 As with most deals of this type, the insiders made the big money - and it was made during the first 
few hours of trading. Publicity and hype will keep interest and trading activities for Facebook stock 
at a high level for a while. After that, who knows?


 This past week in Sierra Madre was indeed a dog-
walker’s dream! The weather has been absolutely 
gorgeous, the trees are either bearing succulent 
fruit or budding with a variety of brilliant colors, 
and there are countless birds flying and squirrels 
scampering about from one tree top to another, 
everywhere you look. Let’s face it, living in Sierra 
Madre (especially this time of year) is more than 
a little bit of heaven. With nature taking its 
course in such a gracious way these days, I am 
pleased to say that I have experienced a renewed 
awareness and appreciation for my surroundings 
and for life in general. Let me put it to you this 
way; right now it would be a tough task for me 
to find a reason to complain, and after all who 
wants to hear it any way?

 One of the things that inspired me most in a 
relatively epic way this past week, was observing 
a couple of squirrels chasing each other over the 
branches of the huge avocado tree in my front 

 The fact is, I see squirrels nearly every 
day, running to and fro over the massive tree 
canopies and gallantly scaling the power lines in 
our community. I always enjoy watching them, 
but there are times when I get so used to seeing 
them, that I must confess I take them for granted 
and barely notice they are there. 

 For whatever reason, the two squirrels I 
saw scurrying about in my front yard last week 
reminded me of how fortunate I truly am and 
that life is indeed good! Those squirrels were 
having a great time. It was as though there was 
some kind of party going on in that tree, that only 
they had been invited to. They were somewhat 
startled when I emerged from the back yard gate, 
and approached their “playground“ but I stood 
very still and quiet for a moment, and soon they 
resumed their raucous routine of frolicking, 
chattering and flicking their big bushy tails. 

 As I stood there, spying like some kind of 
voyeur for several minutes, I thought to myself, 
“these little guys ‘get it‘!” Slowly but surely, I 
snuck closer and sat beneath the tree, watching 
those cute little critters balance and bounce 
on the boughs above me and before I knew it, 
I noticed that I had tears running down my 

 At first I couldn’t figure out why I was crying, 
until I realized how long it had been since I had 
spent that much time just sitting quiet and still, 
observing the activity of nature around me. I 
spend most of my time telling myself to “keep 
moving”, and “get things done”, but there is always 
more to do. As I attempt to stay mobile on the 
“treadmill” of life, I end up frustrated, ultimately 
forfeiting the freedom of the celebration. What 
good is that? It is a human way of thinking and a 
human way of life, not to mention it is my way of 
asphyxiating on tasks that may or may not really 

 That is not the way a squirrel lives its life. How 
can I let myself stress out over the simplest things 
in life when as a human I am in full control of 
my own schedule, I shop at a grocery store where 
my food is delivered to me, I don’t even have to 
take part in the pre-requisite farming, planting, 
slaughtering, and packaging process of what 
keeps me alive? 

 As a human, I have more advantages than 
any other creature on earth, yet I am capable of 
fretting and worrying in lieu of really living, the 
way squirrels do! The squirrel must forage for his 
own food, and when he is not foraging or hiding 
is bounty away for a later season, he is protecting 
the nest that he made of sticks and leaves, from 
predators and strong winds, yet he still finds time 
to celebrate life! The squirrel keeps it simple! 

 My dad was a missionary who held numerous 
speaking engagements throughout the southeast 
region of the US. As the youngest of 7 children, 
I got to travel with him quite a lot while my 
siblings were in school or working. I remember 
one of the acronyms dad used in many of his 
presentations; it was “K.I.S.S”, which stood for 
“Keep it simple, stupid!“ Although that may 
seem less than user-friendly or conventional in 
terms of semantics for a speech, the meaning 
is definitely clear. That silly sounding acronym 
somehow came to mind during my epiphany 
beneath tree and it was a very humbling moment 
for me. I believe that God speaks to us through 
His creatures and creations, and boy, did He ever 
deliver a message to me that day! 

 We all have responsibilities and commitments 
that may seem overwhelming at times, and we 
all have different ways of dealing with stress, but 
I feel it is important to take the time to be silent 
and observant, and enjoy the therapeutic virtues 
of nature. While the squirrel may seem like a pest 
to some, because it steals fruit from the tree, I say 
it can also act as a messenger, delivering a very 
important lesson from the Maker, to teach those 
of us who need to re-learn how to appreciate and 
enjoy life, simply like a squirrel!

Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc