Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, June 16, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page A:8



Mountain Views-News Saturday, June 16, 2018 

TABLE FOR TWO by Peter Dills

It often appears that only the noblest experiences of ones youth 
can defy the decay of time, those memories somehow ripen to 
perfection in those dream filled moments of innocence and all our 
lives when so much is lost, they alone are brave enough to achieve a 
place none other is accomplished, perpetually perfect in the greatest 
form of love.

I would like to invite you on a single night with a man that has left 
this Earthy realm many years before but dwells in a devote place of 
my heart.

My entire life has been an eight-course meal. In my late teens I 
had the distinguished position of discovering myself a bagger at the 
local supermarket, and later with references, I was able to move to 
Jurgensen’s Gourmet Grocery. I had long believed it all started there 
because at twenty-three I was pretentious about food. For most of 
my life I thought the love for my career developed in those markets, 
but I have come to realize that I was wrong. For many people in life 
the inspiration quickens from a famous athlete or religious figure, 
for others it is a musical master or the profound artist. How many 
times in life, if ever do we get a chance to break bread with those 
that inspire us? If I am allowed to claim a single prize in this life it would be this, I was gifted with the 
opportunity to observe, to ask, and lastly follow in the footsteps of single the person that holds that place 
in my life. 

Many of you know my Father Elmer Dills from television and radio, where he was seen and heard for 
twenty-eight years in Los Angeles. I had probably been out with my Father at least five hundred times over 
his life but as a fine wine his wisdom only increased in its depth. 

There was something sublimely special on this night, a night that took us to Madeleines (since closed) 
in Pasadena. It seems my Dad was a regular there and I heard him repeat their praise a number of times. 
“Table for three, please,” my father politely, asked. Being my daughter Lauren (the budding Critic) was 
accompanying us on this evening. Whenever I see courteous, well-behaved child; I know their parents 
are invariably decent people. Likewise whenever I receive a compliment, I know the honor extends to my 
parents. As the three of us were seated this evening there is no struggle for attention, no spectacle of ego, 
my father seemed the most understated critic in the world to me. I was struck by his courteous respect 
for each person in the restaurant. My Dad, the legendary restaurant critic doesn’t even demand a recital 
of the ingredients in the dishes he ordered that evening. He doesn’t push the waiter to see the sommelier, 
and I am brought to wonder, is this man a restaurant critic? I am waiting for a sign of pretension or at least 
the stipulation of a demand. But the evening all transpires as naturally as going to dinner with a group of 
close friends.

The waiter come to the table after the meal and asks my father, “How was the meal” and I know 99% of 
us when asked would give the response, “Fine, Thank You!” 

The restaurant critic is Solomon like in his decision, “The lamb chops were great!!!” 

“And the dessert was?” 

A shrugged of his shoulders said all that was needed. It was this variety of honesty and passion that 
made me to love the business of food. Today, I’m still found at a restaurant and I even get a crazy dream 
that I may one day own a restaurant. And when the soft candlelight waves in the passing of a waiter and 
the conversation of the restaurant is so rich it spills into my heart, my mind instinctively drifts to a place 
and the immortal strength of a picture and that floods my soul in a memory that can time has allowed 
me to touch. 

To my Father above - Happy Father’s Day, Elmer – I would have never traded sitting across from you 
for anything in this world.

Peter Dills, left, with his father, legendary television restaurant critic Elmer Dills. (Archive Photo)


NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence 
preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet 
could have supported ancient life, as well as new 
evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the 
search for current life on the Red Planet. While not 
necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a 
good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s 
surface and subsurface.

 The new findings—“tough” organic molecules in 
3-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, 
as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane 
in the atmosphere—appear in the June 8 edition of the 
journal Science.

 Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, 
and also may include oxygen, nitrogen, and other 
elements. While commonly associated with life, 
organic molecules also can be created by non-
biological processes and are not necessarily indicators 
of life.

 “With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay 
the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said 
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the 
Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, 
in Washington.

 “Curiosity has not determined the source of the 
organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s 
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, 
who is lead author of one of the two new Science 
papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, 
was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, 
organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical 
clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

 Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, 
there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the 
Martian climate allowed liquid water—an essential 
ingredient for life as we know it—to pool at the surface. 
Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a 
water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients 
necessary for life, including chemical building blocks 
and energy sources. 

 “The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from 
space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break 
down organic matter,” said Eigenbrode. “Finding 
ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters 
of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been 
habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic 
molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill 

 In the second paper, scientists describe the 
discovery of seasonal variations in methane in the 
Martian atmosphere over the course of nearly three 
Mars years, which is almost six Earth years. This 
variation was detected by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis 
at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

 Water-rock chemistry might have generated the 
methane, but scientists cannot rule out the possibility 
of biological origins. Methane previously had been 
detected in Mars’ atmosphere in large, unpredictable 
plumes. This new result shows that low levels of 
methane within Gale Crater repeatedly peak in warm, 
summer months and drop in the winter every year.

 “This is the first time we’ve seen something 
repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle 
in understanding it,” said Chris Webster of NASA’s Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, lead 
author of the second paper. “This is all possible because 
of Curiosity’s longevity. The long duration has allowed 
us to see the patterns in this seasonal ‘breathing.’”

 “Are there signs of life on Mars?” said Michael 
Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration 
Program, at NASA Headquarters. “We don’t know, but 
these results tell us we are on the right track.”


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: