Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 1, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 5



 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 1, 2012 

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt


Another view of holiday gifting By Christoper Nyerges

[Nyerges is the author of “Self-Sufficient Home,” “How to Survive Anywhere,” and 
other books. He can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or www.ChristopherNyerges.


Located in the city of Downey is the Rancho Los Amigos National 
Rehabilitation Center. Back in the late 90’s, I found out about this wonderful 
center through my friend, Peter Rosenwald, then Community Library Manager 
at the Duarte Library. Peter had invited me to a special event with special artists 
showing their techniques at the Duarte Library. I attended and was blown 
away by these artists who did not let their physical limits prevent them from 
producing such beautiful work by different procedures. Many were quadriplegic 
because of various accidents or illnesses. But they had positive attitudes and 
inspired all who attended. 

 In November of that year, I was privileged to attend their annual Art 
Exhibition in Downy. I saw Kenneth Younger again, (Marbling technique) 
as well as Robert Thome. I met SO MANY awesome artists: Fernando Sturla 
(Born without upper limbs), his wife Ligia, Ruben Rios, Ann Roth, Said Abdelsayed, Barbara Blake 
and hubby Bill, Cynde Soto and many more! There were paintings and crafts done by these talented 
people. The next two years I attended the Exhibition again, and after a while, a few artists recognized 
me-it was awesome!

 Several years passed, and I kept missing the Exhibition because it occurs in early November. 
This year, I made a call, and the next evening, my husband and I drove to Downey for the 17th Annual 
Art of Rancho Exhibition Festival. Many patients have found a new meaning to life by participating 
in the Art of Rancho program. This year, there were TWO rooms of art by 40 artists! One was the 
“Pediatric Exhibition.” It was so inspiring to see the young people’s work. One section had children’s 
drawings of Supervisor Don Knabe. He attended, and I had him pose in front of their renditions. 
Excitedly, I related to Supervisor Knabe my attendance at the Board of Supervisor’s Meeting last 
year pertaining to redistricting and seeing Robert Thome after ten years speaking to adopt the plan 
I wanted. I mentioned Robert was there that night, and the Supervisor told me the important role 
Robert had in the Artists Program. Ann Roth, Kenneth Younger, and Said Abdelsayed were also 
there, and I was thrilled to see them all again! On a very sad note, Ruben Rios has been in a coma for 
three months. There was a book for us to leave messages and I spoke with his sister and mom.

 The Art of Rancho is at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. I went to 
its website and found out how it began. For over 50 years, the Center has been providing quality 
care for persons with physical disabilities. In the 1950’s, Rancho Los Amigos made its transition to 
rehabilitative care with the waning of the polio epidemic, refocusing the team treatment approach 
developed to address polio on the rehabilitation of persons with disabling injury and illness.

 The Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center is internationally renowned in the field of 
medical rehabilitation and US News and World Report ranks it in the top US Rehabilitation Hospitals. 
It’s licensed for 395 beds, providing patient care services, rehabilitation and reintegration. Rancho 
provides for about 4000 inpatients and conducts 78,000 visits annually. The medical staff is composed 
of physicians and dentists representing the major medical, surgical and dental specialties required for 
the care of the catastrophically disabled. 

 While browsing their website,, I learned of two other special annual events, 
a Golf Classic Fundraiser in August, and their October Spinal Injury Games-Annual Wheelchair 
Festival, which had about 300 participants this past year, and included football, basketball, bowling, 
hockey, baseball, golf, power soccer and tennis. “This event gives patients an opportunity to push 
their athletic skills to the limit-an important part of the therapy process.”

 Recently, our Monsignor’s brother passed away, and the family asked for “donations to the 
charity of your choice.” After learning more about the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation 
Center, I knew where my donation would go. Please go to its website and learn more. 

 “Have you done your shopping yet?,” an acquaintance asked. I gasped, 
feeling the despair that descends upon me when I witness the scurry run-
around that so many folks engage in during the Christmas season. Giving 
is good, yes. Receiving is good too. 

 Like the ancient native potlatch where tribal members tried to outdo 
each other in their givingness. But have we moved too far from meaningful giving? Have we accepted 
the propaganda that the “Christmas shopping splurge” should somehow “save” the retail industry? 
Have we lost our resistance? Have we given in the fiction that it is socially necessary to buy lots of 
stuff (that we’d not buy otherwise) for people who we don’t particularly like, when we really can’t 
afford to do so? 

 The way to end the insanity is simply to end it. End the pointless buying.

 What are we celebrating, after all? Santa Claus-who-brings-us-toys day? The Winter Solstice? The 
birth of the Sun? The birth of the Son, Jesus?

 Most American Christians say it is the latter. So then why the gift splurge? Some say this is because 
the three Magi brought gifts to the promised One. The Magi gave symbolic gifts, nothing that was in 
any way useful to an infant. They did not exchange gifts among themselves. 

 Nor was this Jesus born on December 25. Recall, if you will, that animals and shepherds were in 
the fields, and it was the time of a census that required much travelling. It was definitely not in the 
dead of winter, as all historians agree.

 Let’s get out our encyclopedias and learn that the “birth of the Sun” celebrations were pre-Christian. 
These so-called “pagan” traditions were part of the holy days of Mithraism and other pre-Christian 
religions. Exchanging gifts was part of that tradition.

 In the early days of the new cult of Christianity that arose from Judaism, there was the desire to 
“hide” the new Christian commemoration of the birth of Jesus when others were also celebrating the 
birth of the Sun. Some credit the Roman Emperor Aurelian with this clever idea. Eventually, when 
Christianity was the official religion of the empire in the 4th century, no such hiding was necessary as 
nearly all the pagan holidays became Christianized.

 Still, our pointless profligate buying and giving is a relatively modern invention of the advertising 
industry. Gone are the days of making something to give to another – a cake, cookies, a wooden 
bowl, a pipe, a toy, a hand-written card. Gone are the days of personally handing a thoughtfully-
made or acquired object to a person, as both parties exchange the gift of their time, and Selves, to one 
another, as they examine the physical object. Or is such a day gone?

 It is only by our choice to be a lemming that we continue the mindless buy and gift command from 
our marketing masters.

 I’m not particularly concerned that most of the modern Christmas symbols can be traced back 
to the pre-Christian days – the wreath, the tree, the yule log, December 25, the birth of a saviour 
at the time of least light, the cards, and yes, gifting. What matters most is the level of thinking and 
thoughtfulness that we inject into our observation of what should be a High Holy Day. “Buying 
stuff” is anathema to this day. We don’t have to choose to be a part of the cattle drive at the local mall. 
Rather, choose something else. 

 Plan to be with close friends. Plan thoughtful songs to sing. Plan special movies to watch – I never 
get tired of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Plan thoughtful readings about the meaning of the day. And if you 
choose to give gifts, avoid the animalistic urge to wildly rip through the packagings of gift after gift. 
Make each one special. Tell the person why they were given the gift. Let them open it and examine it. 
Discuss how the gift will enhance their life.

 I remember a scene in the book “Less Than Zero.” It’s Christmas time and the author is at home 
when his father visits. The father 
is divorced from his mother, so 
he visits on holidays. As he sits 
there on Christmas, he pulls out 
his checkbook and writes a check 
to his son. The author – the son 
– lamented that his father didn’t 
take the time to at least write the 
check ahead of time, put it in an 
envelope, and include a note. It 
was just done rather casual. It was 
a classic “less than zero” moment.

 In this time of least light, when 
the sun is about to start on the 
path to more light and longer 
days, when so many of us are 
scrambling at the malls for “good 
buys,” we can choose to eschew 
“less than zero,” and choose 
instead the Light.



Reveal Most 
Quasar Outflow 
Ever Found

 Astronomers using 
the European Southern 
Observatory’s Very Large 
Telescope (VLT) in Chile 
have discovered a quasar 
with the most energetic 
outflow ever seen—at least 
five times more powerful 
than any observed to date. 
Quasars are extremely bright 
galactic centers powered by 
supermassive black holes. 
Many of them blast huge 
amounts of material out into 
their host galaxies, and these 
outflows play a key role in 
the evolution of galaxies. But 
until now, observed quasar 
outflows weren’t as powerful 
as predicted by theorists.

 Quasars are the intensely 
luminous centers of distant 
galaxies, and they get their power from huge black holes. This new 
study has looked at one of these energetic objects—known as SDSS 
J1106+1939—in great detail, using the X-shooter instrument on 
ESO’s VLT at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Although black 
holes are noted for pulling material in, most quasars also accelerate 
some of the material around them and eject it outward at high speed.

 “We have discovered the most energetic quasar outflow known 
to date. The rate that energy is carried away by this huge mass of 
material ejected at high speed from SDSS J1106+1939 is at least 
equivalent to two million million times the power output of the 
Sun. This is about 100 times higher than the total power output of 
the Milky Way galaxy—it’s a real monster of an outflow,” says team 
leader Nahum Arav (Virginia Tech, USA). “This is the first time that 
a quasar outflow has been measured to have the sort of very high 
energies that are predicted by theory.”

 Many theoretical simulations suggest that the impact of these 
outflows on the galaxies around them may resolve several enigmas 
in modern cosmology, including how the mass of a galaxy is linked 
to its central black hole mass, and why there are so few large galaxies 
in the universe. However, whether or not quasars were capable of 
producing outflows powerful enough to produce these phenomena 
has remained unclear until now.

 The newly discovered outflow lies about a thousand light-years 
away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of the quasar 
SDSS J1106+1939. This outflow is at least five times more powerful 
than the previous record holder. The team’s analysis shows that a 
mass of approximately 400 times that of the Sun is streaming away 
from this quasar per year, moving at a speed of 8,000 kilometers per 

 “We couldn’t have got the high-quality data to make this discovery 
without the VLT’s X-shooter spectrograph,” says Benoit Borguet 
(Virginia Tech, USA), lead author of the new paper. “We were able 
to explore the region around the quasar in great detail for the first 

 As well as SDSS J1106+1939, the team also observed one other 
quasar and found that both of these objects have powerful outflows. 
As these are typical examples of a common, but previously little 
studied, type of quasars, these results should be widely applicable 
to luminous quasars across the universe. Borguet and colleagues 
are currently exploring a dozen more similar quasars to see if this 
is the case.

 “I’ve been looking for something like this for a decade,” says 
Nahum Arav, “so it’s thrilling to finally find one of the monster 
outflows that have been predicted!”

You can contact Bob Eklund at

Artist impression of the hugh outflow ejected from the quasar SDSS J1106+1939