Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 20, 2016

MVNews this week:  Page A:10



Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 20, 2016 


Step outside as the stars come out, look southwest, and 
you’ll see an eye-catching pattern. For the next few days, 
bright orange Mars shines to the right of Saturn and the 
reddish supergiant star Antares. The three form a tall 
triangle that changes every night.

 Mars is moving leftward on its way toward passing 
between the other two. On August 23 and 24, the 
triangle shrinks down to a nearly vertical line of three 
shining points.

 After that, Mars will continue leftward and the 
triangle will widen again, now pointing in the opposite 

 Not that the three have anything to do with each 
other. Mars is the nearest of them, 7 light-minutes from 
Earth (79 million miles). Saturn is almost a dozen times 
farther away: 82 light-minutes (914 million miles). 
Antares, the lowest of the three in the sky, is about 550 
light-years in the background, or 3.3 quadrillion miles 
into deep space.

 Fainter stars of the constellation Scorpius glimmer in 
the area too.

 Notice that, being a star, Antares is the only one of 
the bright three that twinkles. That’s not the star’s own 
doing; twinkling is caused by the slight heat waves that 
are always rippling through in Earth’s atmosphere, 
mostly just a few miles from your eyes. Planets appear 
larger from our viewpoint, so the separate twinklings of 
each point on a planet’s face generally average out to a 
steady glow.

Meanwhile, the two brightest 
planets—Venus and Jupiter—are 
going through a dance of their own. 
They’re very low in the sky, due 
west after sunset. Look for them 
close to the horizon, somewhat left 
of where the Sun went down, 20 
or 30 minutes after sunset. If you 
have a very low view and clear air, 
you’ll see that Venus and Jupiter 
are drawing closer together every 
evening. Venus is the lower one. If 
the air is hazy, binoculars will help.

 The brightest of all the planets, 
Venus recently returned to the 
evening sky after spending several 
months as our “morning star.” We 
will continue to enjoy its presence as the “evening star” 
through the fall and winter months. 

 By August 24th, Venus and Jupiter will appear 
separated by just two finger-widths at arm’s length. On 
the 26th they’ll be less than one finger apart. Then on 
August 27th, they’ll have such a close conjunction that 
you may need binoculars to see that they’re two objects, 
not one!

 Again, looks are deceiving. The two planets merely 
happen to be along our same line of sight. Venus on 
August 27th is 13 light minutes from Earth (144 million 
miles), while Jupiter is four times farther: 53 light-
minutes away, or 592 million miles.

 Astronomers refer to such close apparent pairings 
as conjunctions, and this is the last of a recent trio of 
very close ones involving Venus and Jupiter. The other 
two occurred before dawn on August 18, 2014, and on 
October 26, 2015.

 For skywatching information and astronomy news, 
visit or pick up Sky & Telescope 
magazine. Sky & Telescope and 
are divisions of F+W, a content and ecommerce company. 
F+W also publishes SkyWatch (an annual guide to the 
night sky) as well as books, star atlases, posters, prints, 
globes, apps, and other astronomy products.

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




[Nyerges is the author 
of various books 
including “Extreme 
Simplicity” and “How to 
Survive Anywhere.” For 
information about his classes and books, go to 
www.Schoolof, or Box 41834, 
Eagle Rock CA 90041] 


 From 1977 until 1979, I was a squatter in 
an abandoned house in Los Angeles. The 
following is adapted from a book I wrote about 
that period called “Squatter in Los Angeles,” 
available as a Kindle book. 

 I had no regular job during this period, 
though I earned $5 each week by writing an 
outdoor column for a local paper. It wasn’t 
much money, but it seemed to add up when I 
got a check at the end of each month. It also got 
my name out there, and I began to get requests 
to give talks to local groups and to lead walks 
for schools. 

 Even though I paid no rent, I did have a 
utility and phone bill to pay, so I needed a bit 
more than $5 a week. I sought out part time 
work here and there which would still allow 
me to attend the various small classes offered 
by the non-profit during the week. I found 
work doing such tasks as roofing, framing, 
writing magazine articles. 

 I landed a part-time job doing typesetting, 
which also led to my writing for that little 
newspaper, the Altadena Chronicle, owned 
by Sue and Rich Redman. I thought I was on 
top of the world with that income and my $5 a 
week income from the local paper. I also ended 
up doing some framing and painting at the 
newspaper office when they remodeled. 

 In reality, I was on the edge of poverty 
financially, and yet I felt good, at peace most 
of the time, and loved to try new things and 
experiment. My primary source of mental 
stimulation was through my classes and 
involvement with the non-profit next door, and 
I believed this was the most important work I 
could do. In fact, there was no reason why I 
could not have gotten some full-time job like 
all my friends, or enrolled back into college 
full-time and gotten a degree that would 
enable me to earn a reasonable income. But 
somehow I convinced myself that -- for better 
or worse – my lifestyle was more important 
for the solace of my soul, and for the salvation 
of the planet. Still, my soul wasn’t always 
solaced by my “lifestyle” because I always had 
a nagging fear anytime anyone came up the 
driveway. Furthermore, I constantly wavered 
between confidence and doubt that my way of 
life had any effect whatsoever on the direction 
the planet was taking. 

 My time was divided between my work, 
my studies and research with the non-profit 
organization that brought me to Highland 
Park in the first place. I drove a Honda 90 
motorcycle at the time that got 100 miles to 
the gallon so my transportation costs were 
very low. 

 I derived great pleasure from experimenting 
and learning all the ways I could provide for my 
daily needs, and even my wants, using things 
that I made, grew, found on the property, or 
obtained from discards. Had I been married 
with children, I believe this would have been 
an impossible pursuit, for obvious reasons. 
But I was essentially alone. 

 I read Thoreau’s Walden Pond for the 
first time during this period, and found my 
state of mind frequently resonating with 
the basic themes in the book. Remember, 
Thoreau wasn’t a bum, or a drop-out, or an 
alcoholic. Actually, for that matter, he was 
no squatter either, for the land where he was 
given permission to do his “experiment” was 
owned by fellow writer and friend William 
Emerson. He built for himself a little house (a 
“shack” by most accounts), and did a lot of his 
writing there. It would be accurate to say that 
Thoreau – like me – was profoundly interested 
in the very meaning of life and wanted to 
discover the point of all the rushing about 
to get somewhere. Unable to discover these 
answers in his town, Thoreau built and moved 
into his little shack in the woods and learned 
how to grow the food that he ate, and found 
it nourishing and satisfying. Indians and 
trappers would visit and talk, and somehow 
through this unprejudiced intercourse, he 
found that all people were more alike then 
different, and a life lived for purely material 
reasons is a life wasted. 

 Now I found myself in a similar setting, 
though it wasn’t in the woods but a ruralish 
part of Los Angeles. I had no pond nearby, 
but I did manage to get over the Arroyo Seco 
which was as close to my personal Walden 
Pond as I felt I would get. 

 At night, thinking over the day’s classes 
and studies, typing up my notes and insights, 
I often ruminated over how life should be 
lived, and wondered why we take up so much 
time and waste so much of life on trivial 

 I did learn some years later when Thoreau was 
mentioned by the academics he was regarded 
as a brilliant intellectual who discovered 
the simple reality that was right in front of 
everyone. Be here now. Imagine. The kingdom 
is within. Which is why I naturally assumed 
that his own peers would have regarded him 
as a saint and savior. Wrong! I have actually 
spoken to descendents of Thoreau’s peers and 
they said that in the day, Thoreau was by no 
means universally respected. Rather, many 
regarded him as a bum, an outsider, someone 
who had rejected society to hang out with the 
Indians in the woods. I was starting to see 
that there were more 
parallels with me and 
Thoreau than were 
originally apparent. 

 So I did my best 
– though usually 
unsuccessfully – to not 
be seen as a freeloading 
bum who chose not 
to work and who just 
sat around listening to 
the birds and who saw 
secret messages in the 

Recently it has been rather hot around here. A 
little hotter than usual, in my estimation. I really 
don’t know if it is getting hotter or as I get older, 
I’m not able to handle the hot weather.

 Whoever invented air-conditioning needs 
to have a Nobel peace prize offered him (or 
her). I have been enjoying the luxuries of air-
conditioning inside while the outside is boiling 

 I was enjoying the A/C with all of its amenities 
when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage 
came inside literally sweating.

 “My goodness,” she said hardly able to get the 
words out, “it’s hot outside.”

 That did it for me. I did not need to go outside to 
check to see if it was hot outside, I did not have to 
listen to the weather report to see how hot it was, 
the wife said it was hot and therefore it was hot.

 I have learned after a gazillion years of marriage 
that life is a lot more pleasant when you agree 
with your spouse. I would not say this in public, 
but, she is not always right, but I will never tell 
her when she is wrong. Of course, I cannot think 
of any time right now when she was ever wrong. 
However, that does not close the book for the 

 Truthfully, I must admit that she has been 
right concerning the weather. It has been hot and 
everybody is complaining about how hot it is, 
even her better half.

 When she complains about it being too hot, it is 
too hot, guaranteed!

 Not only is it too hot, but the humidity has gone 
out of sight.

 “The air is so heavy outside,” my wife said which 
means the humidity is really bad.

 For the longest time I was also complaining 
about how hot it was outside. Then I had one of 
those, what do you call it, euphoric moments. You 
know what I mean, a moment when something 
bad all of a sudden has a good side to it. Well, I 
had mine.

 I found that being too hot outside is a great 
advantage, at least for someone like me.

 I did not realize this until the other day when 
my wife said something along the line, “Don’t you 
think you should go out and mow the backyard?”

 At the time, I was busily engaged in reading a 
book. I cannot remember what book it was but I 
did not want to stop where I was at and go out 
and mow the backyard. As I was reaching for 
my bookmarker to put in my book so I could 
come back and pick up where I left off, a brilliant 
thought exploded in my mind.

 I love it when a plan comes together!

 The conversation went something like this.

 “I would love to go out and mow the backyard,” 
I said with a deep sigh, “but it’s just too hot outside 
today.” When I said that I was expecting a little 
confrontation from the other side of the room. 
But I was greatly surprised.

 “Yes,” she said stammering a little bit, “it’s too 
hot to go outside and mow the grass.”

 That was it! I won this battle. I was so excited, 
this is probably the first time ever I won anything 
like this but I could not get back to reading my 
book. I wanted to break out into my happy dance. 
It is not every day that I accomplish something 
this significant.

 Then, not surprisingly, she wanted to know if 
I could help her go outside and do something. 
I rather forget what it was but I took it as an 
opportunity to try my new ploy.

 “That sounds like a wonderful thing,” I said as 
cheerfully as I could grind it up, “but don’t you 
think it might be just a little too hot to go out and 
do that kind of work?”

 I had no idea if this would work, but I was 
holding my breath.

 “You know,” she said rather slowly, “I think 
you’re right. It’s probably too hot for us to go out 
and work up such a sweat.” She then walked away.

 Talk about wanting to break into your happy 
dance! Did I discover something or what?

 Just this morning she said something to the 
effect that we needed to go to the store to get a few 
things. I was just about ready to open my mouth 
when she said, “And, if you mention how hot it is 
outside, you will be in deep, deep trouble.” And 
she was not smiling.

 “Oh, no, my dear,” I said as I got up out of my 
chair, “the weather is perfect to go to the store.”

 Obviously, there was no perchance of breaking 
into my happy dance; however, I did put on a 
happy smile.

 One thing I have learned and that is no matter 
how bad a situation may be, there is always 
something good that you can discover. Sometimes 
it’s rather difficult to find anything good in some 

 Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, 
discovered this sort of thing. “It is of the Lord’s 
mercies that we are not consumed, because his 
compassions fail not. They are new every morning: 
great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 Every cloud has a silver lining, and sometimes 
you have to really work hard to find that silver 


 Dr. James L. Snyder is 
pastor of the Family of God 
Fellowship, Ocala, FL where 
he lives with the Gracious 
Mistress of the Parsonage. 
Call him at 1-866-552-2543 
or e-mail jamessnyder2@ His web site is www.

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