Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, January 21, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 21, 2017 


After a two-and-a-half-hour descent, the 
metallic, saucer-shaped spacecraft came to rest 
with a thud on a dark floodplain covered in 
cobbles of water ice, in temperatures hundreds of 
degrees below freezing. The alien probe worked 
frantically to collect and transmit images and 
data about its environs—in mere minutes its 
mothership would drop below the local horizon, 
cutting off its link to the home world and 
silencing its voice forever.

 Although it may seem the stuff of science fiction, 
this scene played out 12 years ago on the surface 
of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The “aliens” who 
built the probe were us. This was the triumphant 
landing of ESA’s Huygens probe.

 Huygens, a project of the European Space 
Agency, traveled to Titan as the companion to 
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, and then separated 
from its mothership on Dec. 24, 2004, for a 20-
day coast toward its destiny at Titan.

 The probe was named after the Dutch 
astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), 
who discovered Titan in 1655 using a 50-power 
refracting telescope of his own design.

 The Huygens probe sampled Titan’s dense, 
hazy atmosphere as it slowly rotated beneath 
its parachutes, analyzing the complex organic 
chemistry and measuring winds. It also 
took hundreds of images during the descent, 
revealing bright, rugged highlands that were 
crosscut by dark drainage channels and steep 
ravines. The area where the probe touched down 
was a dark, granular surface, which resembled a 
dry lakebed.

 Today the Huygens probe sits silently on the 
frigid surface of Titan, its mission concluded 
mere hours after touchdown, while the Cassini 
spacecraft continues the exploration of Titan 
from above as part of its mission to learn more 
about Saturn and its moons. Now in its dramatic 
final year, the Cassini spacecraft’s own journey 
will conclude on September 15, 2017, with a fateful 
plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere.

 As the mission heads into its home stretch, 
Cassini team members look back fondly on the 
significance of Huygens:

 “The Huygens descent and landing represented 
a major breakthrough in our exploration of Titan 
as well as the first soft landing on an outer-planet 
moon. It completely changed our understanding 
of this haze-covered ocean world,” notes Linda 
Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

 Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at 
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, adds: 
“The Huygens images were everything our images 
from orbit were not. Instead of hazy, sinuous 
features that we could only guess were streams 
and drainage channels, here was incontrovertible 
evidence that at some point in Titan’s history—
and perhaps even now—there were flowing liquid 
hydrocarbons on the surface. Huygens’ images 
became a Rosetta stone for helping us interpret 
our subsequent findings on Titan.”

 A collection of the Huygens program’s top 
science findings is available from this ESA website: 

For more information about NASA’s Cassini 
program and the Cassini spacecraft, see: 


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




[Nyerges is the author of 
“Self-Sufficient Home,” 
“Extreme Simplicity,” 
and other books. More 
information about 
Nyerges’ books and classes 
is available at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, 


Most Sierra Madre residents are grateful for the 
recent rains, despite the many problems that it 
caused, such as flooding and auto accidents.

But we should never be complacent about water. 
Our period of no rain should bring home the 
lesson that this sprawling urban expansion of 
greater Los Angeles County, of which Sierra 
Madre is just one small portion, is an anomaly 
in nature with so many people residing here 
depending on so much of their water from lands 
far away.

While we get up to a quarter or so of our water 
from local sources, the bulk of our needed water 
comes from either the Colorado River or the 
Central Valley. We should all recognize that we 
live in a coastal desert plain, and we should have 
long ago learned to adapt our ways to a land with 
little water. 

There are many methods that genuine desert 
dwellers have learned when there was no choice 
but to adapt. Yet, today’s residents of Sierra 
Madre are lulled into a false sense of security 
since we’ve always been able to turn on the faucet 
and get water. We have built wasteful lifestyles 
around this presumption. 

There are many positive ways to become a part 
of this solution, ways that have been known for 

For example, how about capturing more of that 
rain that falls for use in your yard, and for your 
personal needs? It’s not hard, despite the fact 
that there are expensive methods that can be 
purchased for rain-catchment systems. 

As of this writing, I only collected 20 gallons of 
clean rain from this storm. First, I waited until 
the rain cleaned off the roof. Then I put out a 
bucket near the downspout so the bucket would 
fill quickly.

After the sediment in the water settled, I scooped 
it out and poured it through a cotton filter, filling 
my individual storage containers (recycled water 
and juice containers, both plastic and glass). 
These I use to make coffee and other beverages. 

Other water catchment buckets can be set out 
to collect water for fruit trees and the garden. 
This can be very simple, but the buckets must be 
covered once they are full so you do not allow 
the breeding of mosquitoes.

I’ve included many more details of this method 
in my book “Self-Sufficient Home,” which is 
available from Amazon, and also available as a 
Kindle book.

There is a woman who lives nearby, Carol 
Kampe, who has a rain barrel at the bottom of 
every downspout around her home. She uses 
large plastic barrels –the type that I’d seen used 
to import pickles into the United States. The 
entire lid can be screwed off to gain access to the 
water. The top had been modified with a screen 
to remove debris that came down from the roof, 
and a spigot was added to the bottom so one 
could easily use the collected rain water.

When I visited, Carol Kampe happily gave me a 
tour of her rain collection system.

It turned out that she had not one, but 10 rain-
collecting barrels strategically located to collect 
the most rain from the house and garage roofs. 
Two of the barrels were 65 gallons each, and the 
other eight were 60 gallons each. 

The rain thus collected is used for outdoor 
purposes only – watering her fruit trees and 
other plants in the yard.

“Generally, I have enough rain water in my 
barrels to last me until August,” says Kampe. 
This means that she is able to rely on the rain for 
watering her yard for approximately 2/3 of the 
year. She estimates that she saves perhaps $300 a 
month in payments to the water company.

“But I don’t do this for economic reasons,” 
Kampe adds. “I do it because we live in a desert 
here in Southern California. Water will become 
more critical as time goes on. So it is just a 
shame to waste all this good rain.”

She was living in her home just a few years and 
then purchased seven of the rain-collecting 
barrels. She has since added three more. The 
barrels were purchased for about $100 each 
by a company that modifies the pickle barrels 
into rain-collecting barrels. The company 
also provides hoses so that the barrels can be 
connected “daisy-chain,” so that the overflow of 
one barrel fills other barrels. 

Rain barrels are not light, and water weighs a 
little over 8 pounds a gallon. That means a 60 
gallon barrel full of rain water weighs in the 
neighborhood of 480 pounds. So when planning 
a rain collecting system like this, one has to 
recognize that the full barrel is not going to be 
moved. Other barrels can be connected to the 
barrel under the downspout so that the overflow 
can be collected in a spot away from the house. 

Also, Kampe is able to simply unscrew the lid of 
her rain barrels and scoop out water as needed 
for individual plants.

Emphasizing the need to save and conserve water 
where you have a desert and an ever-increasing 
population, Kampe echoes Santyana, pointing 
out that “anyone who doesn’t read history is 
doomed to repeat it.”

I do not like to complain 
(except on certain occasions when nobody 
is listening) but I am not too happy with the 
weather these days. I have never felt so cold 

Is it true that the older you get, the less cold 
temperature you can stand?

If it is not true, it sure is true with me. The older 
I get, the colder I get and there is absolutely 
nothing I can do about it. After all, how many 
sweaters can you wear at one time?

The other day as I looked at my thermometer 
I saw it had dipped below my meteorological 
expectation. I tried breathing on the 
thermometer to see if I could get the temperature 
to rise a little bit. And, because I have such hot 
breath, I was able to raise the temperature quite 
a bit, but as soon as I stop breathing, it plunged 
back to its depth.

It seems that when I look at the thermometer and 
the temperature is low I feel cold. On the other 
hand, when the temperature is high, I feel warm. 
I almost said hot, but the Gracious Mistress of 
the Parsonage corrected me on that once. I may 
feel hot, but, according to her, I sure do not look 
hot and the mirror in my bathroom collaborates 
with her opinion.

So, I am wondering if the temperature has 
anything to do with my thermometer. If 
someone, perchance, could manipulate my 
thermometer they could manipulate whether I 
am hot or cold.

Then a thought hit me square in the face.

All during last year, I heard how the Russians 
allegedly hacked into emails. I never really paid 
that much attention to the stories, but now, I am 
thinking a little bit different about that.

Anybody who wants to can hack into my emails 
because I have such a boring life that they 
probably would shoot themselves. However, what 
if they were able to hack into my thermometer? 
That is the $64,000 question!

I confess that I am not very savvy when it comes 
to technology. I can barely manage my emails; so, 
when it comes to technology I am as vulnerable 
as anybody else.

I am certainly not afraid of somebody hacking 
into my banking account because they would find 
it completely empty. Thinking about that, maybe 
somebody is hacking into my banking account 
and taking out all my money. If somebody is, I 
do not imagine it is I. Maybe I should have a talk 
with my banker just to see if anything fishy is 
going on.

A couple of weeks ago when my wife wanted 
to use her bank credit card it was declined. She 
contacted her bank and found out someone did 
hack into her account and bought something for 
$2500 out on the West Coast.

What bothered me was, I did not know she had 
that much money in her account. Maybe I ought 
to look into what it takes to hack into somebody’s 
banking account!

Anyway, the bank took care of it and she was not 
on the hook for that money.

This only proves if anybody wants to hack into 
somebody’s bank account, they would pick her 
over me for certain.

However, what if these Russians, or whoever 
they are, are able to hack into my thermometer? 
What if they are able to hack in and manipulate 
my thermometer to make it look colder than it 
really is?

If this is true, where do I go to report it?

What sorry soul would do something like this?

This has been worrying me for over a week now 
and I am as chilly today as I was when I first 
started worrying about this. Why can’t they hack 
into my thermometer and raise the temperature 
so that I feel warmer?

Out of deep frustration, I presented my theory 
to my wife, hoping she would have a little bit of 
sympathy for me.

“Are you,” she said sarcastically, “really that crazy? 
Why in the world would you ever think that 
somebody could hack into your thermometer?” 
Then she threw one of her sarcastic smiles at me 
and went back to the kitchen.

I was still in my chair thinking about all that. 
What if I am crazy? Is that so bad? From my 
point of view, crazy people are the only people 
that do not know they are crazy. Maybe I really 
am crazy. But if I am crazy, to paraphrase one old 
philosopher, I am in good company. Those crazy 
people really make a difference in this world.

Think of Thomas Edison when he told someone 
he was going to invent the electric light bulb. I 
wonder how many people thought he was crazy?

Can you imagine what his wife must have said? 
“Oh, Tommy, what in the world does anybody 
want with an electric light bulb? That’s the 
craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

If Thomas Edison was crazy, I sure am happy to 
join his ranks. And there are other crazy people 
all through history.

My problem, like many people, I judge things 
by their appearance, and, as we all know, 
appearances can be deceiving.

I think a good word from Jesus helps me out 
here. “Judge not according to the appearance, 
but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

Appearances can be deceiving because 
sometimes what I am looking at is not exactly 
what I am seeing.

The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family 
of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 
34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs 
Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail The church web site is

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