Making good Mondays is like making coffee -

The week is before us - like the coffee pot - waiting to brew. Making it good is a matter of choice, luck, creativity, patience and acceptance of the outcome.

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Active elements on this page: Occasionally I will publish a new blog post, but I write mostly at other sites.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Food for thought

(Image: courtesy of NASA.)

STS-123 Astronauts enjoy a meal during their current mission to work on the International Space Station. Today is the 13th day of a record-setting 16-day mission.

Left to right: ESA astronaut Leo Eyharts, Commander Dominic Gorie, Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan, Bob Behnken and Jaxa's Takao Doi.

In an interview from space, Commander Gorie told the audience that the Japanese meal brought along by Takao Doi was the tastiest one so far, the most appetizing. To quote:

"Japanese Space Food a Hit in Orbit" (Source:
When visiting someone's house - even in space - bring food. That was Japanese astronaut Takao Doi's motto and his country's orbital eats are apparently a hit aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Doi packed three types of Japanese noodles, some salmon and steamed rice for his crewmates aboard the shuttle Endeavour and space station. The 10 astronauts aboard the station and shuttle sat down together for a joint meal early Wednesday, where they sampled Doi's Japanese treats. (3/20)

Salty clues -- After the moon our next destination as humans will probably be the planet Mars. One of the most fascinating questions remaining is whether there was ever life on this ancient planet. "Mars salt deposit discovery points to a new place to hunt for life's ancient traces," from EurekAlert! (3/20/08). To quote:

Scientists using a Mars-orbiting camera designed and operated at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility have discovered the first evidence for deposits of chloride minerals - salts - in numerous places on Mars. These deposits, say the scientists, show where water was once abundant and may also provide evidence for the existence of former Martian life.

. . . Whether or not the Red Planet ever had life is the biggest scientific question driving Mars research. On Earth, salt has proven remarkably good at preserving organic material. For example, bacteria have been revived in the laboratory after being preserved in salt deposits for millions of years.

Sakes alive? If we think that there might be, or have been, life on Mars, then we naturally wonder whether life could exist in other solar systems. The presence of methane is the clue. "Key Organic Molecule Detected at Extrasolar Planet " from (3/19/08). To quote:

Scientists have detected the presence of an organic molecule in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet for the first time, NASA announced today.

The finding, detailed in the March 20 issue of the journal Nature, marks a breakthrough in the attempt to detect signs of life on planets beyond our solar system.

. . . On Earth, methane is one of the main components of natural gas and is produced by termites, wetland environments, waste landfills and even livestock.

Nuclear waste solution? Sometimes what organisms eat is amazing to us because it is so unexpected. FLORIDA SPACErePORT is a very news-rich blog written carefully and often by Edward Ellegood, who now works as a Space Policy Analyst in Cocoa Beach. Here's an obscure little piece about radiation that caught my eye. To quote:

Radiation-Eating Chernobyl Fungus, More Space Food? (Source: Doug's Darkworld)
Last year there was an exciting biological discovery inside the tomb of the Chernobyl reactor. A robot sent into the reactor discovered a thick coat of black slime growing on the walls. Since it is highly radioactive in there, scientists didn’t expect to find anything living, let alone thriving. This slime, a collection of several fungi actually, was more than just surviving in a radioactive environment, it was actually using gamma radiation as a food source. Samples of these fungi grew significantly faster when exposed to gamma radiation at 500 times the normal background radiation level. The fungi appear to use melanin, a chemical found in human skin as well, in the same fashion as plants use chlorophyll. That is to say, the melanin molecule gets struck by a gamma ray and its chemistry is altered. This is an amazing discovery, no one had even suspected that something like this was possible.

This discovery leads to some interesting speculation and potential research. Humans have melanin molecules in their skin cells, does this mean that humans are getting some of their energy from radiation? This also implies there could be organisms living in space where ionizing radiation is plentiful. Possibly this could also be used to create plants or mushrooms that could grow in space, serving as a food source for space travelers. Maybe these fungi could be modified and used somehow to clean up radiation contaminated environments. (2007)

There is much food for thought in the Space world news. Today's post is for the curious who have tastes that are adventurous.

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My topical post today at South by Southwest and The Reaction is about politics.

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References on Spirituality -- Favorites from my old collection

  • "A Return To Love: Reflections On the Principles Of a Course In Miracles" by Marianne Williamson. Harper Collins, 1992
  • "A World Waiting To Be Born: Civility Rediscovered" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • "Chicken Soup For the Unsinkable Soul" by Canfield, Hansen and McNamara. Health Communications, 1999
  • "Compassion in Action: Setting Out On the Path of Service" by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. Bell Tower Pub., 1992
  • "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain. MIF Books, 1978
  • "Finding Values That Work: The Search For Fulfillment" by Brian O'Connell. Walker & Co., 1978
  • "Fire in the Soul" by Joan Borysenko. Warner Books, 1993
  • "Further Along the Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • "Guilt Is the Teacher, Love Is the Lesson" by Joan Borysenko. Warner Books, 1990
  • "Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways To Regain Peace and Nourish the Soul" by Elaine St. James. Hyperion, 1995
  • "Insearch:Psychology and Religion" by James Hillman. Spring Pub. 1994
  • "Man's Search For Himself" by Rollo May. Signet Books, 1953
  • "Mythologies" by William Butler Yeats. Macmillan, 1959
  • "Myths, Dreams and Religion" by Joseph Campbell. Spring Pub. 1988
  • "Passion for Life: Psychology and the Human Spirit" by John and Muriel James. Penguin Books, 1991
  • "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hahn. Bantam Books , 1991
  • "The Heroine's Journey" by Mureen Murdock. Random House, 1990
  • "The Hope For Healing Human Evil" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1983
  • "The House of Belonging" poems by David Whyte. Many Rivers Press, 2004
  • "The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth" by M.Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1978
  • "The Soul's Code: In Search Of Character and Calling" by James Hillman. Random House, 1996
  • "The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought" by Jaroslav Pelikan. Little, Brown & Co., 1990
  • "Unconditional Life" by Deepak Chopra. Bantam Books, 1992
  • "Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 1994
  • "Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice" by Thich Nhat Hahn. Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, 1974

About Me

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A retired counselor, I am equal parts Techie and Artist. I am a Democrat who came to the Southwest to attend college. I married, had kids and have lived here all my adult life.