Daily Update: Monday, July 20th, 2015

Apollinaris and 07-20 - Apollo 11

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (died c. 79), and today is also the anniversary of when Apollo 11, the first manned lunar mission, landed on the moon in 1969. Today is also the birthday of one of the Assembled, another Matthew (1983).

According to tradition, today’s Saint was a native of Antioch in the Roman Province of Syria. Legend identifies him as one of the seventy-two disciples sent on a preaching mission by Jesus; after the Resurrection, he was a disciple of Peter, who made him the first Bishop of Ravenna. In this office for twenty-six years, he faced nearly constant persecution, and was personally beaten badly four times and otherwise mistreated upon being thrown out of Ravenna by the pagans; four times, after healing up, he returned. He and his flock were exiled for the final time from Ravenna during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source). On his way out of the city Saint Apollinaris was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured, and martyred by being run through with a sword. His feast day according to the old Tridentine Calendar was July 23, but the present General Roman Calendar devotes this day to Saint Bridget of Sweden, who is much better known world-wide. Owing to the limited importance of Saint Apollinaris’s feast worldwide, his liturgical celebration was removed from the General Roman Calendar (with his name remaining in the Roman Martyrology, the official list of saints) in 1969, but it was restored in the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal. The date of celebration was changed to July 20, the nearest day not taken up with other celebrations. He is the Patron Saint of Ravenna, Italy, and his aid is invoked against epilepsy and gout. Today is also the anniversary of the first manned lunar landing in 1969. Launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16, Apollo 11 was the fifth manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a Command Module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins), which was the only part which landed back on Earth; a Service Module (SM), which supported the Command Module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a Lunar Module (LM) for landing on the Moon. After being sent toward the Moon by the Saturn V’s upper stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered into lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into the Lunar Module and landed in the Sea of Tranquility. Broadcast on live TV to a world-wide audience, Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong and Aldrin stayed a total of about 21½ hours on the lunar surface. After lifting off in the upper part of the Lunar Module (leaving the lower part of the Lunar Module on the Moon) and rejoining Collins in the Command Module, they returned to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by the late US President John F. Kennedy in a speech before the United States Congress, “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” (At the time, my family was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and we were in our Shasta travel trailer. I was ten years old, and we all went that night to see the landing on a small black and white television set that another family in the RV park had; however, the images were so grainy that I gave up and went back to our Shasta to listen to the landing on the radio.) And today is also the birthday of one of the Assembled, another Matthew, who is married to Sheila, known as Chi-Chi (1983).

When I woke up this morning I found that we were under a Heat Advisory between 11 am and 7 pm, as the temperature was forecast to be between 95° and 99°, with the apparent temperature being between 108° and 110°. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading and posted to Facebook that today was the anniversary of the Moon Landing, and Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading; once at the casino I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions. Richard was at first on a Blackjack table; when they closed his table he changed Blackjack cards, then became the dealer on Mini Baccarat. I was the dealer on Pai Gow, with no guests between 3:15 am and 9:00 am. On my breaks I continued reading The Giver by Lois Lowery on my Nook.

After work we went to the Pharmacy, and I picked up my prescriptions. On our way home I finished reading The Giver by Lois Lowery on my Nook, and found that it is now the first book of a four-part series (all of which are available on Overdrive). Once home I read the morning paper, then took a nap; while dozing off I heard the lawnmower, and was wondering who was foolish enough to be mowing grass on a day forecast to be dangerously hot. It turned out to be Richard, but he took several breaks and drank about a gallon of water. I slept until 4:15 pm, then watched Jeopardy!; I then came to the computer to do my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Giver by Lois Lowery. And I am now doing today’s Daily Update, and have printed out our pay stubs and our accrued PTO balances, per the casino (which agrees with my records).

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor (died 1619). Tomorrow is also the birthday of Richard’s good friend Jack here in town, who is an optometrist (but not the one at the Wal-Mart Vision Center), and who is also known as Chookie. We will work at the casino for our Friday, and I will return to reading the other books I am currently reading. After lunch I will take a nap, and after Jeopardy! I will drive down to Lafayette to attend the Third Tuesday Book Club meeting at Barnes and Noble to discuss The Giver by Lois Lowery.

This Monday afternoon we have a Parting Quote from Klaus Schmidt, German archaeologist. Born in 1953 in Feuchtwangen, he studied Prehistory, Classical Antiquity, Classical Archaeology and Geology at the Heidelberg University and the University of Erlangen. In the 1960s archaeologists found what was then classified as an abandoned cemetery at Göbekli Tepe, a site about ten miles away from Sanlıurfa, Turkey. The hill had long been under agricultural cultivation, and generations of local inhabitants had frequently moved rocks and placed them in clearance piles, possibly destroying archaeological evidence in the process. In 1978 Schmidt came to Turkey to work on other sites; it was not until 1994 that Schmidt’s attention was caught by the report about Göbekli Tepe, and he began excavations there. A short time later Schmidt’s team uncovered evidence that the area was not used as a settlement. Schmidt suggested the possibility of the site being a burial ground with the dead placed along the hillside, and that the site could give potential insights into hunter-gatherer groups. In 1995 Schmidt purchased a house in nearby Urfa which became his base of operations. His excavation schedule was typically two months of excavation in the spring and two months of excavation in the fall. Göbekli Tepe includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE. During the first phase (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 20 feet and a weight of up to 20 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. In the second phase (Pre-pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. Topographic scans have revealed that other structures next to the hill, awaiting excavation, probably date to 14-15 thousand years ago, the dates of which potentially extend backwards in time to the concluding millennia of the Pleistocene. The site was abandoned after the PPNB-period. Radiocarbon dating as well as comparative, stylistic analysis indicate that it may be the oldest religious site yet discovered. In 2011 Schmidt was interviewed and revealed that roughly five percent of the site had been excavated, and that he was leaving major areas of the site untouched for later generations of excavators (died 2014): “The major discoveries as a result of work at the site are the realization that there must have been a very complex degree of organization in hunter-gatherer societies and that non-sedentary groups like those were building such monumental constructions. To build those gigantic circular arrangements would have required a certain degree of cooperation between groups as well as some organization to coordinate work like this. Coordinating and supplying larger groups of people might also be the key to the early motivation behind sedentism.”

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