Daily Update: Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Jazz Fest 2017

Alleluia! Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday, and today is also the date of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today is the anniversary of the date when my mother died (1985). And today is also the last day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for 2017.

The name of Good Shepherd Sunday for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Alleluia!) derives from the gospel readings on this day, which are taken from the 10th chapter of John. In these readings Christ is described as the Good Shepherd who, by dying on the Cross, lays down his life for his sheep. The World Day of Prayer for Vocations has been observed on Good Shepherd Sunday ever since Pope Paul VI instituted the Day in 1963. For 2017 the theme is ‘“Led by the Spirit for Mission”.’, and in his message for Vocations Sunday Pope Francis says: “there can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer” and he encourages this kind of profound friendship with the Lord, “above all for the sake of imploring from on high new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.” And today is the anniversary of when my mother died (1985), and I have been mindful of my mother all day in consequence. She died less than a month before her 56th birthday; I had gotten married in January 1994, and she was at the wedding, but she died long before I became pregnant with my first child (born in 1986). In fact, she was buried in the dress she had worn to my wedding. I have lived long enough to see that first child (my son Matthew) get married, and to see my first grandchild. What does all of this mean? I haven’t a clue, but howsoever long I do live (I’m aiming for immortality; so far, so good), I do hope I have, and will continue to have, a better relationship with my son and daughter than my mother had with me. Today is also the last day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for 2017. Although it has been going on since 1970, and since 1973 I have never lived more than three hours away from New Orleans, I always refused to consider going because I am not a fan of jazz music. In 2009 I finally went to Jazz Fest with Richard and the kids (including Callie); I had a great time, not least because we saw Neil Young, whose set ended just before a torrential downpour. (Everything we had with us, or was wearing, got soaked, except for the cellphones, due to my foresight in bringing several Ziploc plastic baggies with me.) This final day of Jazz Fest features Cowboy Mouth, Ellis Marsalis, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Patti Labelle, Kings of Leon, Blues Traveler, The Meters, and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

Yesterday before going to sleep I continued reading The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot by Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards. Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby on a very muddy track, and our #18 LSU Lady Tigers lost their second Away College Softball game with the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks by the score of 3 to 4, and our #11 LSU Tigers won their second Home College Baseball game with the #21 South Carolina Gamecocks by the score of 5 to 2.

When I woke up to get ready for work today I took the polish off of my toenails, and did my Book Devotional Reading. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in at the casino, Richard was on the Sit Down Blackjack table all day. I was on the second Three Card Poker table, then became the Relief Dealer for the Sit Down Blackjack table, another Blackjack table, and the $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack table.

On our way home from work we stopped at Wal-Mart and did the grocery shopping. Once home from work I ate my lunch salad and read the Sunday papers; I then came to the computer and did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts. Our #18 LSU Lady Tigers won their third Away College Softball game with the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks by the score of 4 to 2; this game concludes their regular season, and on Wednesday, May 10th they will play an as yet unnamed opponent at the SEC Softball Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our#11 LSU Tigers are still playing their third Home College Baseball game with the #21 South Carolina Gamecocks. And I think I will finish this Daily Update and head for bed, rather than going to play bingo again today.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Agathius, Martyr (died 304). We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will continue reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. After work I will make my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday and eat my lunch salad while reading the paper; I will then spend the afternoon doing whatever seems necessary.

Our Parting Quote on this Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday) (Alleluia!) comes to us from Colin Pillinger, English planetary scientist. Born in 1943 in Kingswood, Gloucestershire, just outside of Bristol, his father was a manual worker for the Gas Board. He graduated with a Bachelors in Science (Chemistry) degree from University College of Swansea (now Swansea University) in 1965, and three years later received his Ph.D (Chemistry) from University College of Swansea. Pillinger then became a Post-doctoral fellow at the University of Bristol Department of Chemistry. He was involved in the Apollo Space program for NASA and analysed the lunar samples brought back by Apollo 11. In 1974 he became a Research Associate at Cambridge University, and two years later became a Senior Research Associate, Department of Earth Science, at the University of Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1981. Pillinger received an Honorary Doctor of Science (Chemistry) degree from the University of Bristol in 1984, and that same year he became a  Senior Research Fellow, Department of Earth Science, at Open University. In 1991 he was appointed Professor of Planetary Sciences at the Open University. In 1993 he became a member of the International Astronomical Union, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Also in 1993 his work with meteors was referenced in the movie Jurassic Park. Between 1996 and 2000, Pillinger was made Gresham Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, a position once held by Sir Christopher Wren. He is credited with inspiring many people to take an interest in space science, particularly in Britain. He was responsible for training and supporting a large number of experts in the field as well as helping to unite the space science and industrial communities in the United Kingdom. In 2000 a main belt asteroid was named 15614 Pillinger after him. Pillinger’s studies on Martian meteorites could be considered as the basis of the bestselling 2001 book Deception Point by Dan Brown. In 2003 Pillinger was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to Higher Education and to Science. Pillinger is best known for being the principal investigator for the Beagle 2 Mars lander project, part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) 2003 Mars Express mission. It was Pillinger’s wife who thought of the Beagle 2 name for the project, based on Charles Darwin’s ship the HMS Beagle. The spacecraft was successfully deployed from the Mars Express on December 19th, 2003 and was scheduled to land on the surface of Mars on December 25th; Pillinger enlisted British rock band Blur to write a song to be Beagle 2‍ ’s call sign back home, and wrote the book Beagle – from Sailing Ship to Mars Spacecraft. However, no contact was received at the expected time of landing on Mars, with the ESA declaring the mission lost in February 2004, after numerous attempts to contact the spacecraft were made. A number of possible explanations for the failure were given by David Southwood, ESA’s Director of Science. The commission inquiring into the mission’s failure, however, apportioned some blame towards Pillinger’s management of the overall project as a contributing factor in the failure. In response Professor Pillinger highlighted a lack of support from key figures at ESA as a factor. A missing British Mars spacecraft was the subject of the 2005 Doctor Who Christmas Special. In 2007 he wrote Space is a Funny Place, and in 2010 wrote My Life on Mars – The Beagle 2 Diaries. He was the recipient of the Michael Faraday Prize in 2011. In 2014 a science destination for the Mars rover Opportunity on the western rim of Endeavour Crater was named Pillinger Point after him, in commemoration of his enthusiasm for the Beagle 2 mission. He patched up his differences with ESA and worked with the 2014 Rosetta Mission, which in November 2014 performed the first soft landing on a comet and returned data from the surface. Eight months after his death the UK Space Agency on January 13th, 2015 confirmed that Beagle 2 had landed successfully on Mars on December 25th, 2003. Images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) identified clear evidence for the lander and convincing evidence for key entry and descent components on the surface of Mars 5 km from the centre of the expected landing area of Isidis Planitia (an impact basin close to the equator). Imaging analysis appeared to show the probe on the surface and partially deployed, in the expected landing area, with objects that have been interpreted as being its parachute and back cover nearby. Although multiple interpretations of the image are possible, all involved, at most, incomplete deployment of the probe’s solar panels. Images suggested that one of the “petals” on which the solar panels of the lander were mounted failed to fully open, preventing deployment of its radio antenna and blocking communication. As the probe’s antenna is beneath the last panel, it would have been unable to transmit or receive in such a configuration, so it would have been beyond recovery even if its systems were still operational, which is not known. Possible failure scenarios include mechanical damage during landing, fouling the deployment mechanism, or obstruction of the panels by an airbag  (died 2014): “As an organic chemist, turned geologist, turned astronomer who uses isotopic analyses to unravel the origins of life, our planet, the solar system and the stars, I hope I have something in common with the versatile men who were early Gresham Professors. The subjects which I research already enjoy popular interest; by combining them to produce a story of life told from the genealogy of its elements, my aim is to appeal to the widest possible audience, using an interdisciplinary approach to attempt to unravel the time-honoured puzzle, where do I come from?”

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