Next week: our Adopt-a-Highway training and orientation! John P will present the program. We’d love to have everyone come — it’s required for anyone who wants to help pick up trash in our adopted stretch of highway (between Big River and Lansing St.). See you there!

Prez John Cottle opened our meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Prez John Cottle.

Prez John Cottle.

Thought for the Day: This one comes from George Carlin. “The longest sentence in the English language is ‘I am.’ Does that mean that the longest one  is ‘I do?'”

Our Guests today were introduced: Julie Masterson, Janis Porter, and Walt McKeown.

Happy Dollars:

  • Pete: happy to be back with us, and wishes us all happy holidays!
  • Erich: happy they let Pete out early… (huh?)
  • Dean: happy for the good start to our rainy season.
  • Donna: happy for the good turnout today.
  • John C: happy both his wife and Wilma are home!
Donna gives a Sunshine Report, and offers to serve as everyone's patient advocate.

Donna gives a Sunshine Report, and offers to serve as everyone’s patient advocate.

Sunshine Report:

  • Dean reports that Joe S is home fighting shingles. We all wish him a speedy recovery!
  • Donna reports that she is happy to serve as a health advocate for anyone in the hospital. She also reports that Wilma is home! She is back on her insulin pump, and is recovering at home.
  • John C. reports that Betty does not have to undergo another major surgery; she is doing better and will need to continue to eat small meals 6 times a day.
Dean shares a membership update.

Dean shares a membership update.

Membership update: Dean and Bruce are working on the membership directory, it will be out soon. Bruce reported results of the recent online member survey: (1) meetings should last 1 hr 15 minutes; (2) meetings should run from noon to 1:15; (3) lunchtime meeting time is the most popular response;  and (4) a quarterly alternate meeting could be held on either a Thursday evening or morning (these options tied in the voting). 24 out of 40 members responded; results will be updated when the remaining votes come in — so if you did not vote yet, it’s not too late!

Bruce presents our membership survey results.

Bruce presents our membership survey results.

Dean says that the club’s by-laws will be included again in the membership directory, even though they will soon be revised by Harold and others. Dean presented a booklet on how to propose/invite a new Rotary member, and offered copies to anyone who thinks they may want to invite a new member to join us.


  • We need to learn the words to “Oh Christmas Tree” for the tree lighting next weekend, Saturday, Dec. 13, at 5:00 p.m. at our beautiful Rotary Park in Mendocino.  Show up at 3:00 p.m. to help decorate the tree. This coincides with Second Saturday, so that local businesses can participate as well.
  • Jennifer paid a fine for her announcement: Fort Bragg Rotary is having their charter night tomorrow night. Raffle tickets are $100 each, for 13 dinners out in our area.  A few tickets sold during our meeting!

    Jennifer makes an announcement (and pays for it!).

    Jennifer makes an announcement (and pays for it!).

  • John announced that Betty is doing an Open Studio this Saturday, Dec. 6, with two other artists.  He passed out postcards for the event.
  • Donna announced that our student dictionaries are coming on Monday, and each will be personalized with inscriptions for the children receiving the books. Bruce, Guenter and John P volunteered to go with Donna to distribute them.

Today’s Program:
John P did a Finemaster series of questions regarding comets and such, that “any 9th grader should know.” We were all in trouble! John then introduced Walt McKeown, who is here today to talk to us about comets.  Walt gave a fabulous talk, full of slides with illustrations and facts. Some highlights are presented below:

Walt McKeown shows us Oort's Cloud, the source of the comets occasionally we see.

Walt McKeown shows us Oort’s Cloud, the source of the comets occasionally we see.

Where do comets come from? Particles from the Big Bang are floating about, and Oort’s Cloud is the ring of particles around our solar system, and the source of the comets we see. Halley’s Comet was first documented in 239 B.C., though it was not so named until the late 1600s. In early times, comets were usually associated with disaster. In the 1400s Tico Brahe identified comets as being outside the earth’s atmosphere. Newton predicted that comets are on an orbit governed by gravity, and Halley discovered that comets will repeat their appearances on a predictable schedule.

Oort’s Cloud is made up of planetary leftovers made of ices of methane, water and ammonia. They are in the furthest reach of solar gravity. There’s an inner cloud and an outer cloud, from which come short and long period comets, respectively. Short period comets come around within 200 years. Comets are made of lots of ice and gravel. As a comet nears the sun, the comet’s gases are blown out of the core, making the visible tail (the ice sublimates off of the comet). The solar radiation forces the gases backwards, so that a comet’s tail always faces away from the sun.

In July 1994, the Hubble Telescope observed a comet impacting Jupiter (Jupiter is 10x the size of the earth, and the comet was twice as big as Earth).

It is possible that the dinosaurs were made extinct by a comet striking the earth. What to do if we see a comet headed for the earth? Do we blow it up, or do we nudge it to change its orbit?  There is a lot of debate on this topic.

November 2014: we had a landing on a comet! Some key pieces of equipment broke on the lander, and it bounced into shadow on the comet where it won’t receive the sunlight needed to run the lander. We’re not sure what data we’ll get back from it.

Ultraviolet satellites have discovered lots of small, snowball-sized comets entering the earth’s atmosphere. These may have contributed to the formation of the earth’s oceans. There are amino acids on comets. Comets are the only things that travel between solar systems; they may be responsible for spreading life throughout the Universe.

The Q&A session was very informative. [Editor’s note: I’m sure I missed a ton of the details from Walt’s presentation — he had a full slide show and lots of info. I got what I could!]

Walt McKeown educates Rotarians about comets.

Walt McKeown educates Rotarians about comets.

Raffle winners: John I., and John P. both had today’s lucky tickets, and lucky John P. drew the joker and won $179! He promptly donated back to Rotary, for the Polio Plus program.

John P. draws the joker, and donates his raffle winnings to the Polio Plus program!

John P. draws the joker, and donates his raffle winnings to the Polio Plus program!