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Arizona

This is the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham in Arizona. Did a few articles on it, and also on Kitt Peak National Observatory. Funny story about the Kitt Peak experience. Got a room for the night on their viewing program, when most visitors are banned from the mountain due to light pollution from cars. It was bitter cold and windy that night. They knew I was there for an article, and gave me a key in addition to my room key…the wrong key. When I met an astronomer I showed him the key, and he told me it was a universal key: opens all buildings. So I figured I had access to all astronomers on the mountain, and told the one who informed me about the key that I’d come visit him later, after dinner in the cafeteria used by astronomers and overnight guests. When in the cafe, I met two other grad assistants who told me they were working at the main 4 meter telescope, the largest on the mountain. I told them I hoped to interview them as well, and see them later. So after dinner I went to the first observatory and let myself in with the key. The astronomer and his student help showed me what they were working on, and I took notes to questions. After that I went to the 4 meter scope, and used the key to get in there, too. No one was inside, so I went to the elevator, thinking they were upstairs in the control room. The elevator door opened, and two security men were there. They asked me who I was, why I was there, and how I’d gotten in! I showed them the key, which they seized. Then we went up in the elevator to the control room, where the grad assistants confirmed they had talked to me. They called the head of security, who cussed me out on the phone, saying I was supposed to stay with the night viewing (tourist) group. He said he would now escort me off the mountain. I told him I had paid to stay there overnight, was a journalist, and if he wanted to do that there would be no article. So I was escorted to the tourist group viewing, instead. They were using a amateur telescope and talking basic astronomy, which I already knew. So I went to my room and left in the morning. Later, the LBT director drove me personally from the University of Arizona to Mt. Graham for a tour and interview. We were alone in the car for three hours, and when I mentioned the Kitt Peak incident, he chuckled and said, “I heard about that.” He used to be the director of Kitt Peak. He also was on the Hubble Space telescope development panel. Small world, big universe.

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Iron Man Homeless

Iron Man

He looks a bit like an Oscar, but Iron Man has forgotten who he is. Found wandering the streets of New York among the homeless after his suit was stolen, Tony Stark is now almost stark naked. And afraid. He couldn’t even remember his net worth, which was $12.4 Billion. Assuming he had money to pay his medical bills, hospital staff at Bellevue ordered a round of CT and MRI scans, psych tests, then put Tony onZoloft and Aricept. Nurses pitched in to buy him an Iron Man suit at Boys R Us in hopes that his memory will return. Along with his credit card numbers. They fed him a steak dinner in hopes that the protein and iron would improve his memory. He did mumble something about “where’s the beef,” after all. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to his doctors, Tony’s Malibu estate was being ransacked for gold jewelry. Several cars were stolen, along with several blueprints to be sold to China. Despite his high IQ, Tony remains virtually speechless about the Avengers whereabouts, or anyone else. JARVIS, his AI, has been contacted about his situation, but someone pulled most of its memory crystals, so it only recited the Taylor Swift song “Ready for It.”   

Avengers

In more important news, here’s a book written by a Harvard geneticist showing that iron in the diet is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Are they reporting this? Not really. Why? The meat industry has one of the biggest lobbyist groups in Washington, and owns the press, along with junk food and prescription drugs. The drug industry is bigger than the gun lobby, and makes more money. Their ads pay the salaries of network news shows and affiliates. So they CAN’T talk about this. Which is also why you may never have heard it. The facts: those countries which eat the least red meat have the lower rates for dementia and other brain diseases. Plus only in America do they add iron to cereals and flour products as “fortified.” It sounds good: fortified. But if you are over age 40, you are essentially being poisoned. “It’s a toxic dose,” says Estep. You know that sodium is needed by the body, right? Too much salt kills? (Stroke and high blood pressure result.) Well, too much iron kills too. “Many people over 50 get over 100 times the amount of iron they need.” In Japan and northern Italy people live longest, plus some places in China. What do they eat? White rice and beans, fish, vegetables, with no added iron in the flour. Next time you’re in the store, look at the label of cereals. Some say “100% of the daily allowance” of iron. That’s one cup. As if you’re eating no meat or anything else that day. Now watch the ads for the Baconator or the Whopper. The bun even has added iron. Happy? What about your grandpa and grandma, who will need your help to remember your name? 

Mario Batali

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Family Die

He died the moment he slipped down to this ledge. He hadn’t fallen yet, but time would weaken him. There was no way up, no hope of rescue. And now he was staring into the small crevice before him at something that was inexplicable. It didn’t register at first. It didn’t matter. He was a dead man now. He knew it. This was just a moment in time, his last moment, for however long it lasted. The realization of it made what he was looking at insignificant. His arms stretched into the hole, but there wasn’t room to climb in. His head would barely fit into the rock.

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The hole was deep. Maybe twenty feet, straight in. Above him, it was twenty feet to the edge of the cliff. Below, three hundred feet straight down. He had slipped, looking down. Slipped, his hands clawing the curve of sand and rock, while wondering about what appeared to be an opening. It had happened quickly. One moment safe, and the next. . .

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It was getting dark now. He was alone. He always hiked alone. People told him not to do that, but he liked being alone in nature. It was his nature.

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It was too late, now. There were no other hikers in the area. He had already yelled until his voice left him. No one had come. He thought back to other hikes. Not that he was trying to think, yet. The thoughts flashed by him, and he was observer to them, as if from a distance. Flashes of memory. Wisps. There was no self recrimination to his thoughts. He was past that, now. The moments of his explorations and meditations were behind him. This was the last such moment. This was the end.

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When acceptance finally came, he focused and considered what he was looking at. It was a stash of jewelry, covered in dust. A long string of pearls and necklaces. Gold or fool’s gold? It didn’t matter. There was no luster to it. The thought flashed by him that it must be real. No one would put costume jewelry in a tiny crevice twenty feet down a ledge no one could get to without a rope.

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The thought was distant, and he struggled to keep it. Wanted to grasp it, like a handhold that didn’t exist on the face of the rock. How much was there? Who had put it there, and why? The thoughts were smoke drifting away. He flailed at them, like he had struggled to get both hands to grip, before pulling himself up into this position. Other thoughts flashed too: memories of rock climbers he’d seen doing what seemed to be impossible. . . placing their hands into niches in the rock, using pitons, cleats, ropes. He had no such things, but even with them there would be no way to save himself.

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He stared at the stash of jewelry, the line of treasure. It was like a rope, in a way. He might grasp it in one final effort, were it connected to something, which it was not. He might hold on a bit longer, and yell again when his voice returned. He chuckled at this thought. The laugh was guttural, a rasp in his throat. He was staring at a “treasure trove,” as such hunters liked to say.

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Everyone was such a hunter, he realized, except him. Anymore.
His arms were getting weaker, now. The last sliver of the sun slipped out of sight down the horizon to his left. But there was no green flash. It was shades of gold, fading.

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Fading into shades of grey.

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© 2017 JLowe

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