Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, April 8, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, April 8, 2017 


NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn 
since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of 
its remarkable story. On Wednesday, April 26, the 
spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives 
through the 1,500-mile-wide gap between Saturn 
and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale.

 “No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique 
region that we’ll attempt to boldly cross 22 times,” 
said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator 
for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA 
Headquarters in Washington. “What we learn 
from Cassini’s daring final orbits will further our 
understanding of how giant planets, and planetary 
systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly 
discovery in action to the very end.”

 During its time at Saturn, Cassini has made 
numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global 
ocean that showed indications of hydrothermal 
activity within the icy moon Enceladus, and liquid 
methane seas on its moon Titan.

 Now, 20 years since launching from Earth, and 
after 13 years orbiting the ringed planet, Cassini 
is running low on fuel. In 2010, NASA decided 
to end the mission with a purposeful plunge into 
Saturn this year in order to protect and preserve the 
planet’s moons for future exploration—especially 
the potentially habitable Enceladus.

 But the beginning of the end for Cassini is, 
in many ways, like a whole new mission. Using 
expertise gained over the mission’s many years, 
Cassini engineers designed a flight plan that 
will maximize the scientific value of sending the 
spacecraft toward its fateful plunge into the planet 
on Sept. 15. As it ticks off its terminal orbits during 
the next five months, the mission will rack up an 
impressive list of scientific achievements.

 “This planned conclusion for Cassini’s journey 
was far and away the preferred choice for the 
mission’s scientists,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini 
project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
(JPL) in Pasadena, California. “Cassini will make 
some of its most extraordinary observations at the 
end of its long life.”

 The mission team hopes to gain powerful 
insights into the planet’s internal structure and the 
origins of the rings, obtain the first-ever sampling 
of Saturn’s atmosphere and particles coming from 
the main rings, and capture the closest-ever views of 
Saturn’s clouds and inner rings. The team currently 
is making final checks on the list of commands the 
robotic probe will follow to carry out its science 
observations, called a sequence, as it begins the 
finale. That sequence is scheduled to be uploaded to 
the spacecraft on Tuesday, April 11.

 Cassini will transition to its grand finale orbits, 
with a last close flyby of Saturn’s giant moon 
Titan, on Saturday, April 22. As it has many times 
over the course of the mission, Titan’s gravity will 
bend Cassini’s flight path. Cassini’s orbit then 
will shrink so that instead of making its closest 
approach to Saturn just outside the rings, it will 
begin passing between the planet and the inner 
edge of its rings.

 In mid-September, following a distant encounter 
with Titan, the spacecraft’s path will be bent so that 
it dives into the planet. When Cassini makes its final 
plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, it will 
send data from several instruments—most notably, 
data on the atmosphere’s composition—until its 
signal is lost.

 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




[Nyerges is the 
author of “Extreme 
Simplicity:Homesteading in 
the City,” “How to Survive 
Anywhere,” “Guide to Wild 
Foods,” and other books. He can be reached at www.]

 Are you like me – a lazy gardener? I’m not really 
lazy-lazy – it’s just that there are so many things in 
life that require our attention. Still, I marvel at my 
friends who seem to have all day to create beautiful 
gardens with beautiful rows with wind chimes and 
special bricks lining the paths and vegetables that 
should be on the cover of some magazine. I admire 
such gardens, but I do not spend the time that it 
takes to create such showplace gardens, where you 
can invite friends and community to regale in your 

 Nevertheless, I seem to be the type of person 
who cannot live without a garden. A garden of 
some sort, even if all the vegetables are in pots and 
tubs in a tiny back yard. I insist on all organic, and 
I love variety. And wherever possible, I like to grow 
those plants that require the least amount of work 
for the return.

 Years ago, when I taught an “Integral Gardening” 
class at a local junior college, students constantly 
wanted to know why certain plants did not grow 
well in their yard. They asked about roses, petunias, 
lettuce, corn, broccoli, and on and on. In general, 
when they wanted to know why a particular plant 
did not grow well, I directed them to the Sunset 
Gardening book where they could analyze their 
plant. Or I directed them to the Rodale book 
which shows pictures of which bugs are eating 
your plants, and which leaf discolorations indicate 
which mineral deficiencies, or other problem.

 However, I always tried to impress upon the 
student two basic principles of my lazy man’s guide 
to gardening.

 One, wherever you live, look at your yard. Each 
plot of soil is unique because of the slope of the 
land, the way the sun and wind affect that land, the 
type of soil, and the types of trees already growing 
there, such as eucalyptus, for example. Observe 
what already grows well in your yard. Then, as 
you begin to plant various herbs and vegetables, 
you will observe that some do well, and some do 
not do well. Focus on those which do well. Those 
that consistently do not grow well in your yard are 
perhaps not suited for your area. 

 Second, rather than focus on the specific needs 
of individual plants, focus always on improving the 
soil. Quality soil is the basis of good agriculture. 
Add compost, add earthworms, use mulch, 
whatever it takes.



Over the years, I have encouraged those garden 
plants that take care of themselves. That means they 
are hardy, insect-repellant, and mostly perennials. 

For those of you who are non-gardeners, an annual 
plant means you plant it in the spring and it is dead 
by fall. A perennial means you plant it once and it 
is like the Eveready bunny-- it just keeps going and 
going, year after year. I love perennials, especially 
if it is a plant that I enjoy eating.

 When I first began gardening at my parents’ home 
many years ago, I grew Jerusalem artichokes. These 
are sunflowers which are native to eastern North 
America. They produce volumes of underground 
tubers, which are good raw, or cooked like potatoes. 
Unless you have lots of gophers, most anyone can 
grow Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes.

 Potatoes are easy to grow. I usually take potatoes 
from the store which have sprouted, and then plant 
them in a big mulch pile. They grow and grow, 
and when they die back,you dig into the pile and 
harvest the big potatoes. You keep the little ones 
in the ground and so the potato patch continues to 
grow, year after year.

 Onions are another easy crop which is easy to 
grow, and they are perennial if you only pinch off 
the greens and leave the roots for multiplication. 
In fact, when left in the ground, onion bulb 
multiply every season, and you can separate them 
to increase the size of your onion patch. You can 
eat some of the bulbs when you do this division. 
A benefit of onions is that they tend to be highly 
insect-resistant for the garden. Any members of 
this family can be grown likewise: onions, chives, 
leeks, etc.

 Swiss chard was one of the first plants I used 
to grow in my garden. Though not technically 
a perennial, the plant will readily produce seed 
and reseed itself if you leave a few plants growing 
each season. Though the subsequent seasons will 
produce smaller leaves, you can still create an 
endless source of the chard leaves.

 One of my favorite experiments in gardening 
was with New Zealand spinach. I originally dug 
up a small plant on the fringe of a beach near 
Malibu, and planted it in the hillside garden. 
This is a constantly sprawling perennial plant, 
and over the course of several years, it covered 
at least a thousand square feet in a succulent, 
edible groundcover. Unlike regular garden 
spinach (which is an annual), New Zealand 
spinach leaves can be harvested year-round, a 
little here, a little there. It is even tastier than 
regular spinach, and can be added to salads, 
soups, sandwiches, stews.

 My aunt and uncle in Ohio introduced me to 
the asparagus plant, which is a beautiful ferny plant 
most of the year, producing little red (not-edible) 
fruits in the fall. In the spring, the rootstock of 
the asparagus produces the young shoots, which 
you cut and eat. And guess what? Once you have 
a good productive rootstock of asparagus, it will 
produce shoots for about 50 years! That’s a great 
lazy-man’s garden plant.

 This just scratches the surface of the plants to 
grow in a perennial garden. If you have questions, 
please write to me c/o this paper.

Have you ever had serious 
second thoughts about 
something? Of course, I 
usually have severe trouble with establishing 
first thoughts. But once I have finished a serious 
thought I like put it behind me and go on with 

 For example. For years, people have been 
telling me how harmful drinking coffee is. 
Something to do, so they tell me, with being 
addicted to caffeine. Then, if I cannot give up 
coffee, I am to limit the number of cups of 
coffee I drink per day.

 This has always caused me great concern 
because I can never remember how many cups 
of coffee I have had in any given day. I suppose 
I could keep a tally and mark down every cup I 
drink. This in itself poses a serious problem for 

 When I am in a restaurant and drinking coffee 
and my cup is half-empty and the waitress tops 
off my coffee, is that considered one or two cups 
of coffee?

 What about my coffee mug at home? Does it 
hold one or two cups of coffee?

 By the time I have had my thoughts 
thoroughly stirred about the consumption of 
caffeine I read a health report informing us that 
caffeine helps prevent heart attack.

 If that is true, and I have no reason not to 
believe it, there will be no heart attacks in my 
family for the next ten generations.

 All that guilt I felt for years about drinking 
too much coffee has really been for nothing. 
Therefore, in a show of good faith, I plan to 
drink as much coffee as I jolly well please.

 Then there was the episode about chocolate. 
According to those people who hate other 
people enjoying themselves, chocolate is 
supposed to be bad for you. Or so they opined.

 For years, I have been secretly eating chocolate 
behind the back of the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage. She is one who takes these warnings 
rather seriously. Rather, I should say, she takes 
them out on me. For years chocolate was a 
forbidden substance in our otherwise merry 

 Then I read a report revealing the health 
benefits associated with eating chocolate. 
No wonder I am such a healthy rascal these 
days. The only exercise I have had for years is 
exercising caution in smuggling chocolate into 
our house.

 The good news is, chocolate is good for your 
health along with a steaming hot cup of coffee. 
I do not know what I enjoy more in life.

 With these two things in mind, I have had 
some cause to re-think my position on broccoli.

 My reasoning goes something like this. For 
years, people have been telling us that coffee 
and chocolate is bad for your health. Then, 
somebody discovers that these two things 
benefit our health.

 Now, for years, starting with my dear old 
mother, people have been extolling the virtues 
of broccoli. I cannot tell how many lectures I 
have heard explaining to me how wonderful and 
beneficial broccoli is for human consumption. 
I cannot remember the number of vitamins 
and minerals allegedly associated with this 

 When I was a young lad in short pants, I took 
one look at broccoli and determined it was not 
for me at all. Even I, at that point, understood 
the maliciousness of what some people called a 

“Eat all your vegetables and then you can have 
your dessert.” Which, to my mind, was second 
only to waterboarding. In fact, I think there was 
a period in my life when I would have preferred 
the waterboarding.

 “It’s good for you,” people kept telling me.

 What I want to know is how can something 
that looks like a miniature tree-wanna-be be 
good for a person?

 The first and last broccoli I have ever eaten 
took me three days to chew. Then, I had to 
brush my teeth for a week to get it all out from 
between my teeth.

 Now that I have become older, I have begun 
to rethink certain things in life. One has to 
do with the functional aspect of wearing 
suspenders. One unfortunate episode in the 
public mall was enough for me.

 And the other has to do with broccoli. Maybe, 
just maybe, I have been too harsh concerning 
what some people call a wonderful vegetable. 
Maybe, if I give it some further thought, I 
might discover that broccoli is not half as bad 
as I thought it was.

 It just could be that all these years those 
people bragging on the marvelous benefits of 
broccoli were right.

 Just as I was polishing up this second thought 
about broccoli to present it to my wife, I saw a 
newspaper article that said, “Tainted broccoli 
spurs big recall in West.”

 I knew it. I knew that broccoli; in whatever 
form you want to cook it, is tainted.

 Second thoughts can certainly be dangerous. 
I took this second thought about broccoli, threw 
it away and enthusiastically embraced my first 
thought and now broccoli is history with me.

 The Bible warns us to be careful about what we 
think. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are 
true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever 
things are just, whatsoever things are pure, 
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things 
are of good report; if there be any virtue, and 
if there be any praise, think on these things” 
(Philippians 4:8 KJV).

 I have more important things to think about 
than broccoli.

We’d like to hear from you! What’s on YOUR Mind?

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