Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Guest Blog by Dr. Tony Phillips, Science@NASA.gov
MARTIAN TRIANGLE SALUTE--Every time NASA lands a rover on Mars--or even makes the attempt--it is cause for celebration. On August 5th, the heavens themselves are aligning to mark the event.
Only a few hours before the Mars Science Lab spacecraft reaches the red planet and drops Curiosity on a hair-raising descent mission planners have dubbed the "seven minutes of terror," Mars itself will be put on a special show in the sunset skies of Earth: Together with Saturn and Spica (a blue giant star in the constellation Virgo), the Red Planet will form a "Martian Triangle" visible from almost all parts of our planet.
Go outside after sunset on August 5th and look west where the setting sun has just disappeared. As soon as the sky fades to black, a triangle of first-magnitude lights will pop out of the twilight. The vertices are Mars, Saturn, and Spica. Together, they form an equilateral triangle about 5 degrees on each side. This means you could hide the Martian Triangle behind your outstretched palm. It would also fit comfortably inside the bowl of the Big Dipper. The tightness of the triangle makes it extra eye-catching.
The three objects are very different: Mars is a small rocky planet relatively close to Earth; Saturn is a ringed gas giant halfway across the solar system; Spica is a massive binary star on the other side of our galactic spiral arm. Nevertheless, they shine with the same intensity as seen from Earth. On the scale of astronomical brightness, all three are ranked first magnitude. This makes them easy to see with the unaided eye.
For the full story and updates about Curiosity's mission, visit NASA's Mars Portal
Not long after the Martian Triangle follows the sun below the horizon, the real action begins:
At approximately 10:30 pm PDT, Curiosity's entry capsule will slam into the upper atmosphere of Mars raising temperatures around the heat shield to 2100 C--more than twice as hot as basaltic lava.
What happens next seems almost unbelievable. Because Curiosity is so much bigger and heavier than any previous rover, old ways of landing, such as air bags, wouldn't work. Mission planners had to come up with something new and unorthodox. Reporter Scott Gold of the LA Times described it this way:
"In the time it takes to drive to the grocery store, the spacecraft will change shape like a toy Transformer six times, slowing from 13,000 mph to 1.7 mph while using 76 pyrotechnic devices, ropes, knives and the largest supersonic parachute ever built."
At the end of the maneuver, a "Sky Crane" gently lowers the rover onto the floor of Gale Crater. If the rover survives the hair-raising descent and lands intact as planned, it will mark the beginning of an extraordinary mission of discovery. Bristling with the most advanced sensors ever sent to Mars, the one-ton rover will spend the next two years (at least) finding out whether one of the most intriguing places in the solar system ever offered an environment favorable for microscopic life.
Let's just say, it's a good reason to go stand outside under the stars.
After the Martian Triangle sets, go inside and turn on NASA TV for the Mars landing itself. The real show is about to begin.
For more news about Mars--as seen from your backyard and Curiosity's--visit science.nasa.gov.
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips| Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA
Monday, July 30, 2012
SISTER ACTS—There are few words that do justice to Greek cuisine. That’s why we’re cutting this intro short and suggest you go to the following sister-run culinary websites and see for yourself.
#1. www. Greekgirlscook.com
Featuring a recipe for Pastitsio
Featuring a recipe for Lemon, Oregano & Olive Oil Dressing
Top: Toronto’s [L-R] Betty, Eleni and Samantha authors of Three Sisters Around the Greek Table.
Lower: San Diego’s [L-R] Dena and Esther and never mind cousin John in the picture.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Guest Blog—By Caitlin Rother, a best selling crime author based in San Diego
When I set out to write Lost Girls, I tried to assure John Gardner's mother, Cathy Osborn, that she would stop being the target of blame once the book was released. I would be the one to take the hits. And as most people in San Diego who watched or read the news have witnessed over the past month, I was right.
I don't need to feel validated by being right, especially in this context. I just want to say that my determination to hold my course was fueled by my deep-seated belief that no matter what the blowback, I would not stray from my journalistic ideals, because I truly believed that my research and writing could foster much needed change.
Today, after a month that started out with personal and professional attacks and also resulted in a tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement from fellow authors, former newspaper colleagues and total strangers, I don't regret for a moment my decision to write Lost Girls, the story behind the rape and murder of San Diego area teens Chelsea King and Amber Dubois by sexual predator John Gardner.
I will say it again. I am sorry for the loss of Chelsea's and Amber's parents and I am sorry that they feel "deeply hurt" by this book, because that was not my intention. My intention was to honor their daughters' memory by working to prevent future victims from falling to the same fate.
Despite being described by some critics as greedy, repulsive, disgusting, and insensitive, I am choosing to focus on the polar opposite comments from supporters who described me as calm, rational, gracious and compassionate throughout these past weeks, not to mention in the sensitive way I wrote the book. I'm especially grateful for the positive and supportive emails and reviews from law enforcement sources, defense attorneys, prosecutors and government officials, expressing their appreciation and hope that the book will open some eyes.
Here's the bottom line: If it took me being a target of anger and controversy for people to read Lost Girls, absorb and process the red flags in Gardner's life as well as the multiple flaws in the system that allowed him to roam free and kill these two girls, then so be it. As a society, let's now take advantage of this anger and direct it toward fostering change and furthering public education to spark new legislation, changes in regulations or at the very least to create a new awareness of what genetic and environmental factors can produce sexual predators like Gardner. Let's do further study of the systemic holes I've identified so we can put some protections in place to protect ourselves -- and the predators from themselves, once they go into freefall.
In the end, I feel that the blowback has been worth the personal toll it took, that my goal of trying to spur lively debate has been met and for that I am grateful. I can only hope that people will stay fired up enough to keep the momentum going so we may find some answers to these difficult problems.
For me, this is my most important book to date and that's why I put so much time and effort into telling the story right, proactively addressing the needs of all the families involved, both Gardner's and the victims' -- because I knew this content would be so personal and so potentially inflammatory.
I'd like to add a couple of personal notes for the record: One, I am no stranger to tragedy or media scrutiny into my personal life, and perhaps that's partly why I'm so drawn to this genre. And two, I am not a mother, a point that a few critics jumped on to accuse me of ignoring how the victim's parents would feel about the book. That said, I always wanted to have children, one if not two, and I married a man at 33 with that very purpose in mind.
My husband, who was at one time a public figure -- the chief investment officer of the San Diego County pension fund -- fell from grace and was written up in the newspaper more than once. He was an alcoholic who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, the same disorder as Wayne Adam Ford, the other serial rapist killer I wrote about in my book Body Parts. While my husband was the CIO and I was a reporter at the San Diego Union-Tribune, he was arrested for stealing items from the gift shop at the Phoenician resort in Arizona, where he was attending a professional conference.
I learned after his death in April 1999 - from the police report that he hid from me -- that he'd been in an alcoholic blackout at the time of his arrest. He was not only an alcoholic but a compulsive spender of his personal money. But he was so ashamed of being a man broken by his addiction that he chose to let the public -- and the beneficiaries of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association -- believe that he was a thief so he didn't have to reveal his flaws during the civil service commission public hearing process. That decision cost him the job he loved so much, and perpetuated a downward spiral that ultimately took his life.
After being sober for a year and two 911 calls I'd made -- once to report him as a 5150 (deeming him a danger to himself or others) for making suicidal threats and once after he picked up a bat when I tried to take away his vodka bottle -- he relapsed one too many times. I told him our marriage was over, and he committed suicide several days after our last phone call, during which I asked if he felt as though he were going to hurt himself and he said no. He was severely depressed; he couldn't live with alcohol and he couldn't live without it.
And there, for the record, went my dream of having children. It was just too late and I decided it would be too selfish to have one on my own. When I spoke of his alcoholism and depression in his obituary, I received emails thanking me for helping to remove the stigma. I feel the same way now, as if I'm navigating some of the same waters by writing this book and dealing with all the questions about my integrity and motivations.
Maybe now people will better understand why I really write these books, that I personally do understand tragedy, and how I can and do empathize with the victims and their families. If I were trying to make money, believe me, I would've gone into a different field. But I think I'm right where I belong, doing what I love, because the work is so rewarding.
Ms. Rother has given permission to share this blog. It appeared first in the Huffington Post:
SUNDAY REVIEW—A new online literary review appearing exclusively on Pillar to Post (www.tomshess.blogspot.com).
Saturday, July 28, 2012
AMERICANA—San Diego based band Folding Mr. Lincoln will be on stage at Bird Park Saturday, July 24th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The free event is part of the North Park Community Association’s Bird Park Summer Concert Series. Weather has been wonderful for the previous three concerts (where has summer gone?), we suggest getting there early and stake out your turf. Bird Park is at the southwest corner of 28th and Upas Sts. in North Park.
Folding Mr. Lincoln is a wide ranging collection of musicians working with songs of Americana as its base. In its first album, “Within My Reach,” the band manages to take in sweet jangly pop, fiddle driven folk and Hammond drenched, country-tinged rock amongst its repertoire.
Completing the San Diego base group are husband and wife Nancy and Harry Mestyanek with Alicia Previn, Charlie Loach, Jeff Stasny and Greg Gohde.
Folding Mr. Lincoln’s second album of the same name received the 2011 San Diego Music Award for Best Americana Album. The band has an excellent website: www. http://foldingmisterlincoln.com/
Bird Park Summer Concert
Featuring: Folding Mr. Lincoln
Saturday, July 28th
Image: Folding Mr. Lincoln
Other Bird Park Concerts this summer:
Aug. 11—Whitney Shay & Shakedowns (R/B & Swing)
Friday, July 27, 2012
CHEERS TO WEST COASTER--A relatively new print monthly and social media site has found a niche in San Diego’s blossoming craft beer industry.
Beginning November 2010, two post college friends saw no immediate job opportunities on the horizon so they decided to launch West Coaster and www.westcoastersd.com from scratch.
Mike Shess, 26 and Ryan Lamb, 25 haven’t looked back.
The success of West Coaster parallels the boom of small breweries in the San Diego region.
Shess, a communications major out of San Jose State, but a San Diego native, interned locally at North Park News as a sales assistant and San Diego Magazine as a web tech. There he learned the importance of finding the best niche possible and how to run a media venture as a business first.
Lamb, also a San Diegan but with a degree from UC Santa Barbara, introduced his new business partner to the wonders of California craft beer when they were both in college.
Ryan has taken over the editorial department that includes many of the best craft beer and food writers in the area: Brandon Hernandez, Jeff Hammett, Amy T. Granite and Sam Tierney.
Details for West Coaster were born on various train rides and bars throughout Europe in 2010 as the pair hung out while Shess was involved in a year abroad study at the University of Madrid and Lamb was teaching English to grammar school age kids also in Madrid.
Both West Coaster principals agree that it is amazing how much craft beer news is generated out of the San Diego marketplace. And, this blog is focused on informing or reminding readers of the channels of news dispersal that West Coaster offers.
ONLINE EVENTS CALENDAR- The online event calendar is where it all started. Before printing the first issue of West Coaster, we visited many local breweries and asked how we could help keep the public in the loop. One of the main answers: event listings. So check out our calendar, and if you’re a local industry member, please help us by submitting events with this easy form.
WEST COASTER FACEBOOK- The WC Facebook is where we share news from local brewing industry pages, re-post SD beer stories from other bloggers, and upload photos albums from events. Recently, we added photos from Russian River Consecration Weekend at Toronado in North Park, Iron Fist’s tasting room expansion kick-off in Vista, Los Angeles’ Golden Road Brewing’s “SD Launch” at URGE American Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo, the “New Kids on the Block” event at The Handlery Hotel & Resort, Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle on the pier at Shelter Island (bistro not yet open), and industry night at Manzanita Brewing Company’s new tasting room.
TWITTER ACTION- On Twitter (@westcoastersd), we re-tweet beer releases, events and news from the local industry, and occasionally we have a beer ourselves.
INDUSTRY WATCH- The WC Brewing Industry Watch page helps you keep up with all the breweries opening around the county. Currently there are 53 licensed & operational brew houses in SD, with 31 more in various stages of planning. Just this morning we added Dean Rouleau’s (former San Diego Brewing Company head brewer) Prodigy Brewing Company to the planned breweries list. The next listing to move from the ‘planned’ to ‘active’ category will be Karl Strauss’ 4S Ranch Brewpub, soft opening to the public July 31. Please send additions/suggestions/corrections to WC Publisher Mike Shess via firstname.lastname@example.org
CRAFT BEER LOCATER- Our online directory is divided into beer bars, bottle shops, brewpubs, breweries, home brew supply shops and restaurants. From there, you can narrow your search by ‘amenities’ such as cans, growlers, kid-friendly, etc. We also print a directory and map on the back two pages of each issue.
IMAGES: West Coaster founders Ryan Lamb, left and Mike Shess in Spain; recent issue of Westcoastersd.com and a cool, cold craft beer on draft in a West Coaster glass.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
MEXICO CITY--Image above: Architect Michel Rojkind and Industrial Designer Hector Esrawe teamed up to create the Tori Tori Japanese restaurant in Mexico City, which features a funky perforated facade and a beautiful green wall inside. The clients asked the designers to create a modern take on Japanese tradition by developing an interior with a contemporary and cosmopolitan twist. The building's complex self-supporting façade mimics the natural ivy that runs along the property's retaining walls--from www.inhabitat.com
Read more go to www.inhabitat.com: Rojkind Arquitectos’ Tori Tori Restaurant has a Green Wall and a Funky Organic Facade Tori Tori Restaurant by Rojkind Arquitectos – Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.
INTERVIEW WITH MICHEL ROJKIND, Architect.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE—Keeping with the Pillar to Post theme of this blog here are three items that won’t raise your blood pressure and in one case perhaps lower it.
From National Geographic Daily News: “Dramatic New Maya Temple Discovered in Guatamala” Huge faces adorn newly discovered Sun God as Shark Man monument.
From Google: Google’s Nexus 7 Android tablet in 16 GB version is flying off the proverbial shelves. The seven-inch device offers a quad-core processor, a 1280x800 display and runs the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. To view Google’s first adv. for the product go to:
From Real Age via ShareCare. Now here is some news we all could use: What are some healthy late-night snacks. The aforementioned sites recommend the following from data provided by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics not to be confused with the Academy of Nuts to Diets (sorry).
Here are a few snacks that won't disturb your sleep or your healthy diet:
--Instead of potato chips, have some carrot sticks or fresh cucumber chunks.
--Seasoned, air-popped popcorn or a handful of nuts also make healthy, low-calorie evening snacks.
Craving something sweet?
--Try fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and melon.
--As an alternative to ice cream, fat-free yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit like pineapple can satisfy your cravings.
--Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day also can help curb the desire to indulge in the wee hours.
Image: National Geographic Magazine’s online site.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
ON THE GUACAMOLE EXPRESS—One of the joys of experiencing the culinary renaissance in San Diego’s historic North Park neighborhood is being able to stay within a few blocks of 30th & University and enjoy amazing San Diego style Mexican cuisine.
Yes, North Park is also known as being the best beer neighborhood in San Diego. Add some of the best Mexican food in the region with some cold craft brews and that’s one definition of paradise under the summer sun.
Carnitas Snack Shack
2632 University Avenue
Comment: Magic happens when an experienced chef applies his talent to creating CARNITAS TACOS (2 for $7). SD Home/Garden Lifestyles mag gave chef Hans its highest Silver Fork award in July, 2012 issue.
CARNE ASADA BURRITO:
3753 30th Street
Comment: Simply put they make the best carne asada burrito, period. Also, pollo asada ranks right up there as well. Go ahead try elsewhere, but you’ll come back to this place. Burrito magic is the reason Saguaro’s stays open 24 hours.
Comment: Best white posole with chicken I’ve tasted to date. Also, they have cactus on the menu.
3910 30th Street
Comment: Friendly, efficient, big menu, margaritas and Mexican beer work here. Sides of Guacamole and chips are excellent.
Sombrero Mexican Food
2201 Fern Street
Comment: Available all week with plenty of hominy included.
Juan Chou Tacos * Sushi
Comment: New addition to NoSoPark with quality Sushi and Mexican menus. Concept works just fine. Food is tops and someone has to make the best flan: they win.
Images: Carnitas Snack Shack culinary Superman Hanis Cavin is a great sport posing in “Avengers” costume to highlight San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles July 2012 Silver Fork Dining Awards coverage.
Photo: Martin Mann, SDHGL.
Although not in North Park, blog reader and friend Gary Payne says Emiliano's Mexican Food in the Allied Gardens area is "Acá se come bien!" (6690 Mission Gorge Road-619-284-2460--www.emilianosrestaurant.com/about-us.html
--This just in from New Mexico's Pat Minjarez: Caliente's Restaurant in Albuquerque (1930 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, 505-298-7988.
Just a bit outside of North Park but who cares: tasty is tasty.
Monday, July 23, 2012
DIALOGUE NOT DIATRIBE--BillMoyers.com is a new digital destination providing access to the continuum of Bill Moyers’ work in broadcast journalism, highlighting the current weekly series, Moyers & Company.
The site offers full streaming video and podcasts of Moyers & Company, online-only essays, analytical blogs, interactive features, as well as an extensive video library of Moyers’ past work.
For the first time, users can browse and view hundreds of Bill Moyers programs, such as the landmark series Bill Moyers Journal, and NOW with Bill Moyers, covering a wide range of topics including the economy, faith and reason, money and politics, war, media, and the arts.
Combined with dedicated platforms on Facebook and Twitter, BillMoyers.com invites citizens hungering for smart, civil discourse to dig deeper, think harder, and participate in the conversation of democracy. As Bill Moyers has said, “Our aim is dialogue, not diatribe, and we want you in it.”
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Note from Tom Basinski: Maybe one of the best-known author of detective novels is Raymond Chandler, who was born July 23, 1888. I’m no Chandler. But a few years ago the La Jolla Library held its “Imitation Raymond Chandler Contest”. I’ll let you decide if I should have won.
THE LADY IS A FAKE
Guest Blog By Tom Basinski--The noon heat cut sharp, making my throat feel as jagged as a young blonde’s after a date with O.J. Simpson. It was so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. Any kind of egg sounded good to me because I hadn’t eaten today. My stomach was as empty as the “Ethics” section in a senator’s handbook.
I walked along the crowded 1100 block of Prospect in La Jolla, trying to avoid the shoulders, or what passed for shoulders, of yuppie guys on their way to power lunches; young punks sporting suspenders and goatees, their hair greasy enough to lube a Packard. Good looking dames bounced and jiggled along the sidewalk yearning to be looked at, yet prepared to sue if they actually were.
I’m from a bygone era and it hurts. After work these guys gather at a joint called George’s. They sip micro-brews and white wine at nearly a sawbuck a throw. Some stand on the patio puffing Cuban-seed cigars the size of nightsticks. Punks, all of them. I down bourbon, straight, then drag on my cigarette, hat pulled low, surveilling the scene.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Business had been slow. The drought ended and I became busier than the guy who operates the “bleep” button on the Jerry Springer show.
I paused in front of Victoria’s Secret at Prospect and Herschel, admiring their products. A beat cop with a neck like a telephone pole suggested I move on. He remained behind to gawk and stare at the mannequins, undoubtedly trying to figure out, or visualize, the meaning of the “Panties Half Off” sign.
I went inside the Prospect Center and located my new client’s suite. After scaling some stairs I walked through the door that said “Weber Enterprises.” The receptionist sat behind a mahogany desk filing her nails. Her main job seemed to be filling out the tight, red sweater she wore. She was good at her job. She had the kind of body that could cause cardiac arrest in a Kenyan distance runner.
“Do you have an appointment, Mister….Marlowe?” she asked, looking at my business card.
“It should be right there in your appointment book,” I replied, eyebrows raised, fake smile, nodding at the book in front of her. My tone was insulting and condescending and fortunately she took it that way. If there’s anything I hate, it’s wasted sarcasm. My barbs are too valuable to be lost on the dull.
She picked up the intercom phone, turning away from me. “Mr. Weber will see you now,” she said in a voice as cold as the paws of an Iditarod sled dog.
Weber didn’t waste words. “I want you to find this lady for me,” he said, handing me an ad from an adult tabloid.
I studied the picture.
It was of a beautiful, sultry, pre-operative (no missing parts) transsexual with pouty lips.
Whereas I carry one .38, “she” had two.
Weber didn’t realize she was really a man.
“Apparently you want the girl who has everything,” I said. “This one does.”
Tom Basinski, a former policeman, DA investigator and true crime published author, lives in Chula Vista, CA, where he free-lances as a magazine and newspaper writer.
Originally published in The Star News, July 21, 2012 reprinted with permission of the editor. http://www.thestarnews.com/subscribe/
Chasing after Chandler
In honor of the author's birthday, former cop releases his take on the hard-boiled genre.
For an interesting history of the noir genre in crime writing click:
FOR MORE TOM BASINSKI GO TO July 8, 2012 in this blog.
SUNDAY REVIEW—A new online literary review appearing exclusively on Pillar to Post (www.tomshess.blogspot.com).
Saturday, July 21, 2012
When: Sunday, July 22nd (11am - 6pm)
Where: 25th Street, between B & C Streets
COMMUNITY NOTICE--The Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation and San Diego-based arts non profit SEZIO are teaming up to revive the Golden Hill Street Fair -- Sunday, July 22nd. The street fair will take over 25th Street between B & C Streets from 11am to 6pm, highlighting local musicians, artists, businesses, and brews. Made possible by the Economic Development Tourism Support Grant from The City of San Diego, the Golden Hill Street Fair is returning after a several year hiatus.
Our goal in organizing this community-focused event is to highlight neighborhood artists and musicians while bringing together community members and local businesses. There will be a main stage featuring 6 up-and-coming local bands, along with art activities including live screen printing and an interactive art wall. Stone Brewing Company will be curated a beer garden for 21+ guests, and local food vendors Alchemy, Giorgino's, and MIHO Gastrotruck will be serving quality grub.
This event will be FREE, and open to ALL AGES, so bring the whole family.
Below is the band lineup for the Golden Hill Street Fair.
5pm: The Donkeys - http://facebook.com/TheDonkeys
4pm: Cuckoo Chaos - http://facebook.com/CuckooChaos
3pm: The Tree Ring - http://facebook.com/TreeRingMusic
2pm: Little Deadman - http://sezio.org/news/Little-Deadman.aspx
1pm: Jeans Wilder - http://facebook.com/HiJeansWilder
12pm: Family Wagon - http://facebook.com/FamilyWagonMusic
Greater Golden Hill CDC - http://goldenhillcdc.org
Sezio - http://sezio.org
Contact: Zack Nielsen
Friday, July 20, 2012
WHO WENT & WHAT WE LEARNED—U.S. Astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969 and in 2009 NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbitor (LRO) provided detailed imagery of the Apollo landing sites on the moon. One image of the Apollo 14 shows a close up (200 meters on the moon surface) of astronaut footprints between the LM and scientific instruments. Each descent stage is about 12 feet in diameter and stands 10-feet tall. The latter easily casting a shadow on the surface. The LRO is currently in orbit 31 miles above the moon.
Apollo Astronauts (in order of arrival on lunar surface). Ages as of 2011-12.
1. Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 (will be 82 years old on August 5, 2012).
2. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 (82)
3. Pete Conrad, Apollo 12 (June 2 1930—July 8 1999)
4. Alan Bean, Apollo 12 (80)
5. Alan Shepard, Apollo 14 (Nov. 18 1923—July 21, 1998)
6. Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 (81)
7. David Scott, Apollo 15 (80)
8. James Irwin, Apollo 15 (Mar 17 1930—Aug 8 1991)
9. John W. Young, Apollo 16 (81)
10. Charles Duke, Apollo 16 (77)
11. Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 (78)
12. Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 (77).
SMITHSONIAN’S TOP TEN SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES MADE DURING APOLLLO EXPLORATION OF THE MOON.
1. The Moon is not a primordial object; it is an evolved terrestrial planet with internal zoning similar to that of Earth.
Before Apollo, the state of the Moon was a subject of almost unlimited speculation. We now know that the Moon is made of rocky material that has been variously melted, erupted through volcanoes, and crushed by meteorite impacts. The Moon possesses a thick crust (60 km), a fairly uniform lithosphere (60-1000 km), and a partly liquid asthenosphere (1000-1740 km); a small iron core at the bottom of the asthenosphere is possible but unconfirmed. Some rocks give hints for ancient magnetic fields although no planetary field exists today.
2. The Moon is ancient and still preserves an early history (the first billion years) that must be common to all terrestrial planets. The extensive record of meteorite craters on the Moon, when calibrated using absolute ages of rock samples, provides a key for unravelling time scales for the geologic evolution of Mercury, Venus, and Mars based on their individual crater records. Photogeologic interpretation of other planets is based largely on lessons learned from the Moon. Before Apollo, however, the origin of lunar impact craters was not fully understood and the origin of similar craters on Earth was highly debated.
3. The youngest Moon rocks are virtually as old as the oldest Earth rocks. The earliest processes and events that probably affected both planetary bodies can now only be found on the Moon. Moon rock ages range from about 3.2 billion years in the maria (dark, low basins) to nearly 4.6 billion years in the terrae (light, rugged highlands). Active geologic forces, including plate tectonics and erosion, continuously repave the oldest surfaces on Earth whereas old surfaces persist with little disturbance on the Moon.
4. The Moon and Earth are genetically related and formed from different proportions of a common reservoir of materials.
The distinctively similar oxygen isotopic compositions of Moon rocks and Earth rocks clearly show common ancestry. Relative to Earth, however, the Moon was highly depleted in iron and in volatile elements that are needed to form atmospheric gases and water.
5. The Moon is lifeless; it contains no living organisms, fossils, or native organic compounds.
Extensive testing revealed no evidence for life, past or present, among the lunar samples. Even non-biological organic compounds are amazingly absent; traces can be attributed to contamination by meteorites.
6. All Moon rocks originated through high-temperature processes with little or no involvement with water. They are roughly divisible into three types: basalts, anorthosites, and breccias.
Basalts are dark lava rocks that fill mare basins; they generally resemble, but are much older than, lavas that comprise the oceanic crust of Earth. Anorthosites are light rocks that form the ancient highlands; they generally resemble, but are much older than, the most ancient rocks on Earth. Breccias are composite rocks formed from all other rock types through crushing, mixing, and sintering during meteorite impacts. The Moon has no sandstones, shales, or limestones such as testify to the importance of water-borne processes on Earth.
7. Early in its history, the Moon was melted to great depths to form a "magma ocean." The lunar highlands contain the remnants of early, low density rocks that floated to the surface of the magma ocean.
The lunar highlands were formed about 4.4-4.6 billion years ago by flotation of an early, feldspar-rich crust on a magma ocean that covered the Moon to a depth of many tens of kilometers or more. Innumerable meteorite impacts through geologic time reduced much of the ancient crust to arcuate mountain ranges between basins.
8. The lunar magma ocean was followed by a series of huge asteroid impacts that created basins which were later filled by lava flows. The large, dark basins such as Mare Imbrium are gigantic impact craters, formed early in lunar history, that were later filled by lava flows about 3.2-3.9 billion years ago. Lunar volcanism occurred mostly as lava floods that spread horizontally; volcanic fire fountains produced deposits of orange and emerald-green glass beads.
9. The Moon is slightly asymmetrical in bulk form, possibly as a consequence of its evolution under Earth's gravitational influence. Its crust is thicker on the far side, while most volcanic basins -- and unusual mass concentrations -- occur on the near side.
Mass is not distributed uniformly inside the Moon. Large mass concentrations ("Mascons") lie beneath the surface of many large lunar basins and probably represent thick accumulations of dense lava. Relative to its geometric center, the Moon's center of mass is displaced toward Earth by several kilometers.
10. The surface of the Moon is covered by a rubble pile of rock fragments and dust, called the lunar regolith, that contains a unique radiation history of the Sun which is of importance to understanding climate changes on Earth.
The regolith was produced by innumerable meteorite impacts through geologic time. Surface rocks and mineral grains are distinctively enriched in chemical elements and isotopes implanted by solar radiation. As such, the Moon has recorded four billion years of the Sun's history to a degree of completeness that we are unlikely to find elsewhere.
Sources: NASA and Smithsonian Institute
Thursday, July 19, 2012
MEET THE BIRD GUY—Gentle Ben Zlotnick is no fly-by-night. This San Diego native is the real deal** when it comes to back yard birding environments and best options to attract a variety of wild birds. His next free seminar on specific plants, location of feeders, types of feeders and foods that attract and keep birds returning to your yard will be at Walter Andersen’s Nursery in Poway, July 21 from 10 am to 12 pm.
Ben, who operates Old Ben’s Workshop will be on hand to answer questions, help select the proper feeder, or talk about birding accessories all made by him and sold in Walter Andersen stores.
Lecture attendees will be offered three in-store specials:
Buy 1 Niger Seed packet get one FREE
Buy 2 Finch Socks get one FREE
Buy 1 Get One Free Humming Bird or Oriole Food.
Ben’s lecture at 12755 Danielson Court in Poway will begin after Walter Andersen’s Poway store’s regularly scheduled garden class at 9:30 am. Ask nursery staff for a schedule of garden class topics and dates.
** Benjamin Zlotnick
. San Diego Native
. College major in Ornamental Horticulture
. 42 years experience in retail management and banking
. Member of National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Audubon Society,World Wildlife Fund, and Environmental Defense Fund.
. Interest include wild birds, landscaping/gardening, and woodworking.
Contact Old Ben's Workshop:
PO Box 421505, San Diego, Ca 92142-1505
Contact Walter Andersen:
Walter Andersen Nursery was founded in 1928 by Walter Andersen Sr. It continues to be family owned and operated today.
Walter Andersen Poway Nursery
12755 Danielson Court, Poway CA 92064
3642 Enterprise Street, San Diego, CA 92110
Walter Andersen now to garden video’s on You Tube:
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
NEW BREWERS ON THE BLOCK—Editor’s note: The following midweek beer event is an example of how lava hot San Diego’s craft beer scene has boomed in the past two years. Most cities would love to have this many breweries operating in their respective city limits. But, in San Diego “The New Kids on the Block” is a craft beer tasting event limited to only a dozen or so of the newest craft beer producers that have opened in the past 24 months.
THE NEXT EVENT:
On July 19, from 6-9 PM, The Mission Valley Craft Beer Fest Team is presenting "New Kids on the Block". The one-day event showcases San Diego breweries that have only been open for 2 years or less. Beer tasting will be enriched by terrific music and insanely good food, says MVCBF’s facebook site. Tickets are $30 each for unlimited tastings from 12 of the newest and brightest and the five chef stations. Only 300 tickets will be sold.
VENUE: Handlery Hotel, Mission Valley.
Breweries on board (updated frequently):
Rough Draft Brewing,
Golden Coast Mead Company,
The Beer Company,
Latitude 33 Brewing,
El Cajon Brewing,
On the Tracks Brewing,
Monkey Paw Brewing and
Wet N'Reckless Brewing.
Chefs on board:
Matthew Morrison--Handlery Hotel,
Jason Long--Bangin Burgers,
Brad Lyons--Slaters 50/50,
Eron Baker--Baker Shake Foods,
Misty Burchall--PubCakes and
Karl Prohaska--Handlery Hotel
Tickets may be purchased online in advance. Previous MVCBF event sold out!
VENUE: HANDLERY HOTEL, 950 Hotel Circle North, 619-298-0511
Images: Top to Lower:
Day of event Image courtesy of www.Westcoastersd.com;
Slaters 50/50 Brewpub, Liberty Station, San Diego
Hess Brewing, Miramar and soon to be in North Park, San Diego.
Toronado, North Park
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
MID-CENTURY DESIGN—A lecture and self-guided tour of historic mid-20th century architecture in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego will be held Saturday, August 11. The lecture and tour will begin at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 3502 Clairemont Dr. in San Diego.
Noted historian Alexander Bevil and Clairemont resident will begin the lecture at 10 am with lecture and tour registration beginning at 9:30 am.
Tickets: $15 for members of Save Our Heritage Organisation, sponsors of the event and $20 per ticket for non-SOHO members.
Tickets may be purchased at the door day of the event or in advance in person by calling SOHO 619-297-9327 for box office locations.
Also, Tickets may be purchased online: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/260627
The self guided tour named Clairemont: The Village within a City will highlight more than 40 of Clairemont’s best Mid-Century modern buildings, including libraries, schools, religious institutions and residential neighborhoods.
Clairemont was one of the nation’s first and largest planned postwar communities.
At the end of WWII an influx of families began to settle in San Diego and the need for housing and recreation spaces was very clear. Clairemont met the needs of the growing families of the postwar generation to live the American Dream.
Images: Screen capture of actress Phoebe Cates, who appeared in the classic film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” a.k.a. Clairemont High. The film, reportedly inspired by San Diego's Clairemont neighborhood, also starred Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli.
Monday, July 16, 2012
TREASURE TO TRASH—A large midsummer garage sale not to miss is slated for this Saturday, July 21 (8 am to Noon) in North Park’s Altadena neighborhood. Organized by the Altadena Neighborhood Association, this year’s event includes more 40 households are participating. Many homes will offer bake sales.
For those not familiar with local San Diego boundaries, Altadena is an early 20th century tract of homes East of 32nd street between Upas and Redwood Streets.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
ODE TO MELANCHOLY--Editor’s note: This not-for-profit blog is dedicated to reacquainting readers with master works of art and literatureby republishing them from the public domain. See end of his blog for a commentary on this work.
“…The whole art of Kafka consists in forcing the reader to reread.”
–Albert Camus, “Hope and the Absurd in the Works of Franz Kafka”
THE JUDGMENT/Short Story by Franz Kafka (1883-1924). Translated by Prof. Ian Johnston and republished with his permission. It was a Sunday morning at the most beautiful time in spring. George Bendemann, a young merchant, was sitting in his private room on the first floor of one of the low, poorly constructed houses extending in a long row along the river, almost indistinguishable from each other except for their height and colour. He had just finished a letter to a friend from his youth who was now abroad, had sealed in a playful and desultory manner, and then was looking, elbows propped on the writing table, out of the window at the river, the bridge, and the hills on the other shore with their delicate greenery.
He was thinking about how this friend, dissatisfied with his progress at home, had actually run off to Russia some years before. Now he ran a business in St. Petersburg, which had gotten off to a very good start but which for a long time now had appeared to be faltering, as his friend complained on his increasingly rare visits. So he was wearing himself out working to no purpose in a foreign land. The exotic full beard only poorly concealed the face George had known so well since his childhood years, and the yellowish colour of his skin seemed to indicate a developing sickness. As he explained it, he had no real connection to the colony of his countrymen in the place and also hardly any social interaction with local families and so was resigning himself to being a permanent bachelor.
What should one write to such a man, who had obviously gone off course, a man one could feel sorry for but could not help. Should one perhaps advise him to come back home again, shift his life back here, take up again all the old friendly relationships—there was certainly nothing to prevent that—and in addition rely on the help of friends? But at the same time that amounted to saying to him—and the more gently one said it, the more wounding it would also be—that his previous attempts had been unsuccessful, that he should finally give them up, that he must come back and allow everyone to look at him as an eternal returned prodigal, that only his friends understood anything, and that he would be an over-age child, who should simply obey his successful friends who had stayed home. And then was it even certain that all the misery one would have to put him through had a point? Perhaps it would not even succeed in bringing him back home at all—in fact, he said himself that he no longer understood conditions in his homeland—so then he would remain in his foreign country in spite of everything, embittered by the advice and even a little more estranged from his friends. But if he really followed the advice and became depressed here—not intentionally, of course, but because of his circumstances—could not cope with life, with his friends or without them, felt ashamed, and had, in fact, no homeland and no friends any more, was it not much better for him to remain abroad, just as he was? Given these facts, could one think that he would really advance himself here?
For these reasons, if one still wanted to maintain some sort of relationship by correspondence, one could not provide any real news, the way one would without any inhibitions to the most casual acquaintance. It was already more than three years since his friend had been home, and he explained this with the very inadequate excuse of the uncertainty of the political conditions in Russia, which would not allow even the briefest absence of a small businessman, while it permitted hundreds of thousand of Russians to travel around peacefully in the world. But in the course of these three years much had changed for George. Since his mother’s death, which had taken place about two years earlier, George had lived with his old father in a household they shared. His friend had naturally learned about it and had expressed his sympathy in a letter with such a dry tone that the reason could only have been that the sadness of such an event is completely inconceivable in a foreign country. But since that time George had tackled both his business dealings and everything else with greater determination. Perhaps while his mother was still alive, his father’s unwillingness to accept any point of view in the business except his had prevented George from developing a real project of his own; perhaps his father, since his mother’s death, had grown slacker, although he still worked all the time in the business; perhaps fortunate circumstances had played a much more important role—something which was, in fact, highly likely—but in any case in these two years the business had developed very unexpectedly. They had had to double the staff, the cash turnover had increased fivefold, and there was no doubt that further progress lay ahead.
His friend, however, had no idea of these changes. Earlier, perhaps for the last time in that letter of condolence, he had wanted to persuade George to emigrate to Russia and had expanded upon the prospects which existed in St. Petersburg for George’s particular line of business. The figures were minute compared to the scale which George’s business had now acquired. But George had had no desire to write to his friend about his commercial success, and if he were to do it now belatedly, it would have looked really odd.
So George limited himself to writing to his friend only about insignificant details, the kind which pile up at random in one’s memory when one is thinking things over on a peaceful Sunday. The only thing he wanted was to leave undisturbed the picture which his friend must have created of his home town during the long interval and which he would have learned to live with. And so it happened that George had announced three times to his friend in fairly widely spaced letters the engagement of an unimportant man to an equally unimportant young woman, until, quite contrary to George’s intentions, the friend really began to get interested in this curious event.
But George preferred to write to him about such things rather than to confess that he himself had become engaged a month ago to a Miss Frieda Brandenfeld, a young woman from a prosperous family. He often spoke to his fiancée about this friend and about the unusual relationship he had with him in their correspondence. “Then there’s no chance he’ll be coming to our wedding,” she said, “and yet I have the right to meet all your friends.” “I don’t want to upset him,” George replied. “Don’t misunderstand me. He would probably come, at least I think so, but he would feel compelled and hurt and would perhaps envy me—he’d certainly feel unhappy and incapable of ever coping with his unhappiness and would travel back alone. Alone—do you know what that means?” “Yes, but can’t he find out about our wedding in some other way?” “That’s true, but I can’t prevent that. However, given his lifestyle it’s unlikely.” “If you have friends like that, George, you shouldn’t have gotten engaged at all.” “Well, we’re both to blame for that, but now I wouldn’t want things to be any different.” And then when she, breathing rapidly under his kisses, kept insisting “Still, it truly does upset me,” he really thought it would be harmless to write everything to his friend. “That’s what I am, and that’s just how he’ll have to accept me,” he said to himself. “I can't carve out of myself another man who might perhaps be more suitable for a friendship with him than I am.”
And, in fact, he did inform his friend about the engagement which had taken place in the long letter which he had written that Sunday morning, in the following words “The best piece of news I have saved until the end. I have become engaged to a Miss Frieda Brandenfeld, a young woman from a well-to-do family, who first settled here long after your departure and thus whom you could hardly know. There will still be an opportunity to tell you more detailed information about my fiancée. Today it's enough for you to know that I am truly fortunate and that, as far as our mutual relationship is concerned, the only thing that has changed is that in me you will now have, instead of a completely ordinary friend, a happy friend. Moreover, in my fiancée, who sends you her warm greetings and will soon write to you herself, you acquire a sincere female friend, something which is not entirely without significance for a bachelor. I know that there are many things hindering you from coming back to visit us, but wouldn't my wedding be exactly the right opportunity to throw aside all obstacles for once? But whatever the case, do only what seems good to you, without concerning yourself about anything.”
George sat for a long time at his writing table with his letter in his hand, his face turned towards the window. He barely acknowledged with an absent-minded smile someone he knew who greeted him from the lane as he walked past.
Finally he put the letter in his pocket and went out of his room, angling across a small passageway into his father’s room, which he had not been in for months. There was really no need to do that, since he was always dealing with his father at work and they took their noon meal at the same time in a restaurant. In the evenings, of course, they each did as they wished, but for the most part, unless George was with friends, as was most frequently the case, or was now visiting his fiancée, they still sat for a little while, each with his own newspaper, in the living room they shared.
George was surprised how dark his father’s room was, even on this sunny morning. So that was the kind of shadow cast by the high wall which rose on the other side of the narrow courtyard. His father was sitting by the window in a corner decorated with various reminders of his late lamented mother and was reading a newspaper, which he held in front of his eyes to one side, attempting in this way to compensate for some weakness in his eyes. On the table stood the remains of his breakfast, not much of which appeared to have been eaten.
“Ah, George,” said his father, coming up at once to meet him. His heavy night shirt opened up as he moved and the ends of it flapped around him. “My father is still a giant,” said George to himself.
Then he spoke up: “It’s unbearably dark in here.”
“Yes, it certainly is dark,” his father answered.
“And you’ve shut the window as well?”
“I prefer it that way.”
“Well, it is quite warm outside,” said George, as if continuing what he’d said earlier, and sat down.
His father cleared off the breakfast dishes and put them on a chest.
“I really only wanted to tell you,” continued George, who was following the movements of the old man quite absent mindedly, “that I’ve now sent a report of my engagement to St. Petersburg.” He pulled the letter a little way out of his pocket and let it drop back again.
“To St. Petersburg?” his father asked.
“To my friend,” said George, trying to look his father in the eye. “In business he’s completely different,” he thought. “How sturdily he sits here with his arms folded across his chest.”
“Ah yes, to your friend,” said his father, with emphasis.
“Well, father, you know at first I wanted to keep quiet to him about my engagement. Out of consideration, for no other reason. You yourself know he's a difficult person. I said to myself he could well learn about my engagement from some other quarter, even if his solitary way of life makes that hardly likely—I can’t prevent that—but he should never learn about it from me personally.”
“And now you have been thinking about it differently?” the father asked. He set the large newspaper on the window sill and on top the newspaper his glasses, which he covered with his hand.
“Yes, now I’ve been reconsidering it. If he’s a good friend of mine, I said to myself, then a happy engagement for me is also something fortunate for him. And so I no longer hesitated to announce it to him. But before I send the letter, I wanted to tell you about it.”
“George,” said his father, pulling his toothless mouth wide open, “listen to me! You’ve come to me about this matter, to discuss it with me. No doubt that’s a credit to you. But it’s nothing, worse than nothing if you don’t now tell me the complete truth. I don’t want to stir up things which are not appropriate here. Since the death of our dear mother certain nasty things have been going on. Perhaps the time to talk about them has come and perhaps sooner than we think. In the business, a good deal escapes me. Perhaps it’s not hidden from me—at the moment I'm not claiming it’s done behind my back—I am no longer strong enough, my memory is deteriorating, I can’t keep an eye on so many things any more. First of all, that’s nature taking its course, and secondly the death of our dear mother was a much bigger blow to me than to you. But since we’re on the subject of this letter, I beg you, George, don’t deceive me. It’s a trivial thing, not worth mentioning. So don’t deceive me. Do you really have this friend in St. Petersburg?”
George stood up in embarrassment. “Let’s forget about my friend. A thousand friends wouldn’t replace my father for me. Do you know what I think? You’re not taking enough care of yourself. But old age demands its due. You are indispensable to me in the business—you’re very well aware of that—but if the business is going to threaten your health, I’ll close it tomorrow for good. That won’t happen. We must set up another life style for you. But something completely different. You sit here in the dark, and in the living room you'd have good light. You nibble at your breakfast instead of maintaining your strength properly. You sit by the closed window, and the air would do you so much good. No, my father! I’ll bring in the doctor, and we’ll follow his instructions. We’ll change the room. You’ll move into the front room. I’ll come in here. For you there won’t be any change. Everything will be moved over with you. But there’s time for all that. Now I’ll set you in bed for a little while. You need complete rest. Come, I’ll help you get undressed. You’ll see. I can do it. Or do you want to go into the front room right away. Then you can lie down in my bed for now. That would make a lot of sense.”
George stood close beside his father, who had let his head with its tousled white hair sink onto his chest.
“George,” said his father faintly, without moving.
George knelt down immediately alongside his father. He saw the enormous pupils in his father’s tired face staring right at him from the corners of his eyes.
“You don’t have a friend in St. Petersburg. You have always been a jokster and even with me you’ve not controlled yourself. So how could you have a friend there! I simply can’t believe that.”
“Think about it for a moment, father,” said George. He raised his father from the arm chair and took off his nightgown as he just stood there very weakly. “It will soon be almost three years since my friend visited us. I still remember that you did not particularly like him. At least twice I kept him away from you, although he was sitting right in my room. It’s true I could understand your aversion to him quite well. My friend does have his peculiarities. But then you later had a really good conversation with him yourself. At the time I was so proud of the fact that you listened to him, nodded your head, and asked questions. If you think about it, you must remember. That’s when he told us incredible stories about the Russian Revolution. For example, on a business trip in Kiev during a riot he saw a priest on a balcony who cut a wide bloody cross into the palm of his hand, raised his hand, and appealed to the mob. You’ve even repeated this story yourself now and then.”
Meanwhile, George had succeeded in setting his father down again and carefully taking off the cotton trousers which he wore over his linen underwear, as well as his socks. Looking at the undergarments, which were not particularly clean, he reproached himself for having neglected his father. It certainly should have been his responsibility to look after his father’s laundry. He had not yet talked explicitly with his fiancée about how they wished to make arrangements for his father’s future, for they had tacitly assumed that his father would remain living alone in the old apartment. But now he quickly came to the firm decision to take his father with him into his future household. When one looked more closely, it almost seemed that the care which he was ready to provide for his father there could come too late.
He carried his father to bed in his arms. He experienced a dreadful feeling when he noticed, as he took a couple of paces to the bed, that his father was playing with the watch chain on his chest. He could not put him in the bed right away, so firm was his father’s grip on this watch chain.
But as soon as he was in bed, all seemed well. He covered himself up and then even pulled the bedspread unusually high up over his shoulders. He look up at George in a not unfriendly manner.
“You do still remember him, don’t you?” said George, nodding his head in encouragement.
“Am I well covered up now?” asked the father, as if he could not check whether his feet were sufficiently tucked in.
“So you feel good in bed now,” said George and arranged the bedding better around him.
“Am I well covered up?” the father asked once more and seemed particularly keen to hear the answer.
“Just rest for now. You’re well covered up.”
“No!” cried his father, cutting short George’s answer to the question. He threw back the covers with such force that in an instant they had completely flown off, and he stood upright on the bed. He steadied himself with only one hand lightly touching the ceiling. “You wanted to cover me up—I know that, my little offspring—but I am not yet under the covers. And even if this is the last strength I have, it’s enough for you, too much for you. Yes, I do know your friend. He’d be a son after my own heart. That’s why you’ve been betraying him for years. Why else? Do you think I’ve not wept for him? That’s the reason you lock yourself in your office—no one should disturb you, the boss is busy—that’s the only way you can write your two-faced little letters to Russia. But fortunately no one has to teach a father to see through his son. Just now when you thought you’d brought him down, so far down that your buttocks could sit on him and he wouldn’t move, at that point my son the gentleman has decided to get married!”
George looked up at the frightening spectre of his father. The friend in St. Petersburg, whom the father suddenly knew so well, seized his imagination as never before. He saw him lost in the broad expanse of Russia. He saw him at the door of an empty, plundered business. Among the wreckage of his shelves, the shattered goods, the collapsed gas brackets, he was still standing, but only just. Why did he have to go so far away!
“But look at me,” cried his father, and George ran, almost distracted, to the bed to take everything in, but he faltered half way.
“Because she hoisted up her skirts,” the father began in an affected tone, “because she hoisted up her skirts like this, the repulsive goose,” and in order to imitate the action, he raised his shirt so high one could see the scar from his war years on his thigh, “because she hoisted her dress up like this and this, you chatted her up, and that’s how you could satisfy yourself with her without being disturbed—you've disgraced our mother’s memory, betrayed your friend, and stuck your father in bed, so he can’t move. But he can move, can’t he?”
And he stood completely unsupported and kicked his legs. He was radiant with insight.
George stood in a corner, as far away as possible from his father. A long time before he had firmly decided to observe everything closely, so he would not be surprised somehow by any devious attack, from behind or from above. Now he recalled again this long-forgotten decision and forgot it, like someone pulling a short thread through the eye of a needle.
“But now your friend hasn’t been betrayed at all,” cried the father—his forefinger, waving back and forth, emphasized the point. “I’ve been his on-the-spot representative here.”
“You comedian!” George could not resist calling out. He recognized immediately how damaging that was and bit down on his tongue, only too late—his eyes froze—until he doubled up with pain.
“Yes, naturally I’ve been playing a comedy! Comedy! A fine word! What other consolation remained for an old widowed father? Tell me—and while you’re answering still be my living son—what else was left to me in my back room, persecuted by a disloyal staff, old right down into to my bones? And my son goes merrily through the world, finishing off business deals which I had set up, falling over himself with delight, and walking away from your father with the tight-lipped face of an honourable gentleman! Do you think I didn’t love you, me, the one from whom you came?”
“Now he’ll bend forward,” thought George. “What if he falls and breaks apart!” These words hissed through his head.
His father leaned forward but did not fall over. When George did not come closer, as he had expected, he straightened himself up again.
“Stay where you are. I don’t need you! You think you still have the strength to come here and are holding yourself back only because that’s what you want. But what if you’re wrong! I am still much stronger than you. Perhaps all on my own I would have had to back off, but your mother gave me so much of her strength that I’ve established a splendid relationship with your friend and I have your customers here in my pocket!”
“He even has pockets in his shirt!” said George to himself and thought with this comment he could make his father look ridiculous to the whole world. He thought this for only a moment, because he constantly forgot everything.
“Just link arms with your fiancée and cross my path! I’ll sweep her right from your side—you have no idea how!”
George made a grimace, as if he didn’t believe that. The father merely nodded towards George’s corner, emphasizing the truth of what he’d said.
“How you amused me today when you came and asked whether you should write to your friend about the engagement. For he knows everything, you stupid boy, he knows everything! I’ve been writing to him, because you forgot to take my writing things away from me. That’s why he hasn’t come for years. He knows everything a hundred times better than you do yourself. He crumples up your letters unread in his left hand, while in his right hand he holds my letters up to read.”
In his enthusiasm he swung his arm over his head. “He knows everything a thousand times better,” he shouted.
“Ten thousand times!” said George, in order to make his father appear foolish, but in his mouth the phrase had already acquired the deathliest of tones.
“For years now I’ve been watching out for you to come with this question! Do you think I’m concerned about anything else? Do you think I read the newspapers? There!” and he threw a newspaper page which had somehow been carried into the bed right at George—an old newspaper, the name of which was completely unknown to George.
“How long you’ve waited before reaching maturity! Your mother had to die. She could not experience the joyous day. Your friend is deteriorating in his Russia—three years ago he was already yellow enough to be thrown away, and, as for me, well, you see how things are with me. You’ve got eyes for that!”
“So you’ve been lying in wait for me,” cried George.
In a pitying tone, his father said as an afterthought, “Presumably you wanted to say that earlier. But now it’s totally irrelevant.”
And in a louder voice : “So now you know what there was in the world outside of yourself. Up to this point you’ve known only about yourself! Essentially you’ve been an innocent child, but even more essentially you’ve been a devilish human being! And therefore understand this: I sentence you now to death by drowning!”
George felt himself hounded from the room. The crash with which his father fell onto the bed behind him he still carried in his ears as he left. On the staircase, where he raced down the steps as if it were an inclined plane, he surprised his cleaning woman, who was intending to tidy the apartment after the night before. “Jesus!” she cried and hid her face in her apron. But he was already past her. He leapt out the front door, driven across the roadway to the water. He was already clutching the railings the way a starving man grasps his food. He swung himself over, like the outstanding gymnast he had been in his youth, to his parents’ pride. He was still holding on, his grip weakening, when between the railings he caught sight of a motor coach which would easily drown out the noise of his fall. He called out quietly, “Dear parents, I have always loved you nonetheless” and let himself drop.
At that moment an almost unending stream of traffic was going over the bridge.
JUDGMENT ON THE JUDGMENT--A mark of an excellent work of literature is its universality. When a work so captures the human condition that it can be interpreted and applied to most everyone, especially those who have dealt (or are dealing) with parental dementia, then it can be said that work is a masterpiece because of its universal appeal.
While I feel undiplomaed to enter the academic frey over the meaning of Kafka’s The Judgment, I nonetheless offer my opinion based on the fact his work inspired me to think of my own condition. That again is testament to a master writer.
Few agonies are more difficult to bear than living through a loved one’s dementia.
Yes, physically that is your parent. No one wishes a father or mother to suffer in their last years of life. When old age strips a family member of reason and memory that fragmented mind is still capable of speech. What is said is often incoherent but also it can be hurtful. A demented mind can spew cruelty beyond horror.
The easy way out is to shun them and walk away in anger. The courage to stay and care for that individual despite dealing with a mind that is dying while the body still functions is akin to what the main character in The Judgment is dealing with.
Dementia creates enormous—often unbearable--guilt. Do we as helpless infants have a moral debt to ease helpless parents into death as they nurtured us in to life?
The story ends not with suicide as many believe but with a man rushing from the house they share in the throes of agony. The hurt that issues from the mouth of dementia can only be erased by death, a death of the victim by natural process or by suicide of the family member unable to cope with the agony and guilt.
The suicide in The Judgment is the death of the relationship between father and son as the child chooses to run from the truth.
The Judgment by Franz Kafka is in public domain. This translation by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC (now Vancouver Island University) is not in public domain. It appears here courtesy of Ian Johnston.
SUNDAY REVIEW—A new online literary review appearing exclusively on Pillar to Post (www.tomshess.blogspot.com).