A Drive through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore, Maryland.


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On our way from Ellicott City, MD to North Brunswick, NJ we whisked down through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, a 7,200-foot-long, four-tube, 8-lane, bi-directional tunnel that carries Interstate I-95 traffic underneath the Baltimore Harbor, in Maryland. The tunnel crosses the Patapsco River, just south of Fort McHenry and connects the Locust Point and Canton areas of Baltimore City. It is named for the nearby Fort McHenry, the fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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The Fort McHenry Tunnel, the largest underwater highway tunnel, as well as the widest vehicular tunnel ever built by the immersed-tube method, opened on Saturday, November 23, 1985.

Opening day for the Baltimore Harbor 7,200-foot-long 8-lane Fort McHenry Tunnel, Saturday November 23, 1985. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

Opening day for the Baltimore Harbor 7,200-foot-long 8-lane Fort McHenry Tunnel, Saturday November 23, 1985. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

The following is an excerpt from “I-95 Drivers Get Remedy for Harbor Headache – Baltimore’s Fort McHenry Tunnel’s Debut Today is Expected to Ease Bottlenecks“, that appeared in The Washington Post, November 23, 1985.

“The new Baltimore is a nice place to live, but you would not want to visit – not if you are inching through the grimy Harbor Tunnel, that is. For interstate travelers, the dread begins miles away as they steel themselves for the maddening Harbor Tunnel bottleneck that often forms miles outside of Baltimore. But all that’s about to change. Travelers on I-95 who scarcely glimpse Baltimore’s restored town houses, its sparkling Inner Harbor or the growing downtown skyline will soon see a new side of the city as they whisk through its gleaming new Fort McHenry Tunnel. The new eight-lane tunnel – a massive $750 million engineering project 5 years in the making – will open today after a 3:00 PM ribbon cutting, lengthy ceremonies and special motorcades, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel crush. Dozens of state and federal dignitaries are expected to be on hand for the opening ceremonies today to claim credit for the largest underwater road project in the history of the Interstate highway system, one that came in under budget and almost on time.” 

The Fort McHenry Tunnel, is a vital link in I-95, the East Coast’s most important interstate route, Interstate 95, between Maine and Florida. At the time of its opening it was the most expensive underwater tunnel project in the United States, but that figure has since been surpassed by the Big Dig project in Boston. Soon after the Fort McHenry Tunnel opened, the nearby Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, a pair of two-lane road tunnels, southeast of downtown Baltimore, Maryland, and Interstate 895, which had opened to traffic in 1957, were closed for extensive rehabilitation.

The Fort McHenry Tunnel has 8 lanes in 4 tubes and is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) with operating speed of variable up to 55 miles per hour (89 km/h). Each tunnel is 26 feet (7.9 m) wide with
a tunnel clearance of 12.5 feet (3.8 m). The lowest elevation is at 107 feet (33 m) below harbor water surface.

Fort McHenry Tunnel – Project Plans

Plan View of Fort McHenry Tunnel Area

Plan View of Fort McHenry Tunnel Area

Profile View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Profile View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Typical Section View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Typical Section View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Here's what the east approach looked like when it was under construction in July 1983

Here’s what the east approach looked like when it was under construction in July 1983. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

One of the eastbound tubes under construction, March 1984, near the mid-point under the harbor, about 100 feet below the surface of the water. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

One of the eastbound tubes under construction, March 1984, near the mid-point under the harbor, about 100 feet below the surface of the water. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

Howard P. Foley Co. of Baltimore, was awarded the $47 million contract for mechanical and electrical equipment that involved the installation 48 9-foot-diameter ventilation fans to move up to 6.7 million cubic feet of fresh air per minute into the tunnel and to exhaust fume-laden air out of the tunnel – 24 in the west ventilation building and 24 in the east ventilation building. In each ventilation building, 12 of the fans are for supply and 12 are for exhaust. Each ventilation building is equivalent to a small power substation for converting the voltage of the power coming into the tunnel complex.

Since the entire tunnel has continuous signal, lighting and surveillance systems, the tunnel complex has a very large system of electrical systems, with many hundreds of miles of wiring.

Firefighting equipment is stationed throughout the tunnel, with water mains serving the hydrants. The tunnel has 28 pumps with a total capacity of 44,000 gallons per minute.

The first 300 yards of each inbound portal simulates daylight with high intensity lighting and white pavement, thus eliminating the “dark hole” effect on older tunnels and providing enough transition for the eyes of motorists to adjust from daylight to the lighting level inside the tunnel.

E-ZPass Tollgate

A part of the E-ZPass Tollgate (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The I-95 construction through the City of Baltimore received 90% federal-aid funding from the U.S. Highway Trust Fund, for design, right-of-way and construction, with the remaining 10% coming from state funds. Due to the projected high cost of the Fort McHenry Tunnel project, where even in late-1970s the state’s 10% share as estimated at over $80 million, the state of Maryland and the City of Baltimore requested the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) fund the whole 100% of the project’s cost, and to allow tolls to be collected via a toll plaza built immediately east of the tunnel, at a cost of $27 million, with the toll revenue designated to pay off the 10% share in installments. E-ZPass Tollgate at Fort McHenry Tunnel Toll Plaza. The 24 lanes collect a $2 toll from both directions of I-95. All lanes are EZ Pass compatible and allows commuters the ease of paying their tolls electronically. Some lanes are set aside for EZ Pass users only. This plaza is administered by the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Vital Facts about Fort McHenry Tunnel
Length 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
Highway class Freeway, built to Interstate highway standards
Highway route Interstate I-95
Water body crossed Baltimore Harbor and shipping channel
Total number of lanes 8 lanes
Number of tubes 4
Number of lanes per tube 2 lanes
Roadway width per tube 26 feet (7.9 m) from curb to curb
Roadway vertical clearance 16 feet
Speed limit Variable up to 55 mph
Toll facilities Electronic tolling plus cash lanes, toll plaza in Canton
Toll $2 for 2-axle vehicle, commuter discounts available
Pavement type Asphalt (bituminous concrete)
Administrative agency for design, right-of-way and construction Interstate Division for Baltimore City (IDBC)
Owner since opening Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA)
Design Prime Consultant Sverdrup & Parcel and Parsons, Quade, Brinckerhoff & Douglas (joint venture)
Initial estimate of cost total for design, right-of-way and construction $825 million
Contracting method Agency public bid contracting, 11 construction contracts
Construction Began May 7, 1980
Trench Tunnel Prime Contractor Kiewit/Raymond/Tidewater (K-R-T)
West Approach Prime Contractor Lane Construction Corporation
East Approach Prime Contractor S. J. Groves & Sons Co.
Mechanical and Electrical Prime Contractor Howard P. Foley Co.
Facility target date for completion Early 1985
Final cost total for design, right-of-way and construction $750 million
Funding method 100% Interstate highway federal-aid, with 10% to be repaid by state from toll revenue
Facility opened to traffic November 23, 1985
Traffic Volumes as of December 2005 Average about 118,000 vehicles per day, 9% large trucks

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The Chains of Saint Peter


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Saint Peter's chains in Rome

Saint Peter’s chains at the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome

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In a short textual passage In the Acts of the Apostles is the story of “The Liberation of Saint Peter” in which an angel rescues Saint Peter from a prison. This tale has given rise to theological discussions and has been the subject of a number of works of art.

English: Saint Luke the Evangelist. Russian Ea...

Saint Luke the Evangelist. Russian Eastern Orthodox icon from Russia. 18th century. Wood, tempera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Acts of the Apostles (Latin: Acta Apostolorum; Greek: Práxeis tôn Apostólōn), the fifth book of the New Testament usually called Acts, outlines the history of the Apostolic Age. The author of Acts is traditionally identified as Luke the Evangelist, the author of The Gospel of Luke because both books share certain repeating themes and were originally written in a refined Koine Greek. Some biblical scholars even argue that the two books were originally a single unified work. The prefaces in both books address Theophilus:

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. (Luke 1:3-4)

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2)

In the preface of Acts the phrase “the first book” could certainly mean The Gospel of Luke.

No one knows the true identity of Theophilus and there are several conjectures and traditions around this word. The Greek word Theophilus (θεόφιλος) also written as Theophilos means a lover of God, friend of God, (be) loved by God, or loving God. So, Theophilus could mean the name of the author’s patron, or perhaps a label for a Christian community.

It is likely that the narrative in the Acts telescopes events that took place over a time period and on a less dramatic scale. The Twelve disciples were not yet ready to proclaim publicly the Messianic office of Jesus without incurring immediate reprisal from the religious authorities in Jerusalem who had brought about Jesus’ death precisely to stem the rising tide in his favor.

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

The author of the Acts focuses mainly on the roles of Peter and Paul. Peter was the object of divine care for he was rescued from the prisons a couple of times. Here is the first narrative in the Acts of his escape from a prison:

Trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17-42)

Then the high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”

When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the Israelites, and sent to the jail to have them brought in. But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”

When they heard this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.”

Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them in, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

When they had brought them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders [did we not?] to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the men to be put outside for a short time, and said to them, “Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

They were persuaded by him. After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.

Herod Agrippa ruled Judea A.D. 41-44. While Luke does not assign a motive for Herod’s execution of James and his intended execution of Peter, it was due to Herod’s support of Pharisaic Judaism. The Jewish Christians had lost the popularity they had in Jerusalem (Acts 2:47), perhaps because of suspicions against them traceable to the teaching of Stephen.

Herod’s Persecution of the Christians (Acts 12:1–11)

About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was [the] feast of Unleavened Bread.) 

He had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists.

The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”

He did so. Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”

So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.

They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him.

Then Peter recovered his senses and said, “Now I know for certain that [the] Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

The bishop of Jerusalem, luvenalis, known in English as Juvenal, presented the chains used to bind Saint Peter in prison as a gift to the Empress Aelia Eudocia, consort of Emperor Valentinian II. She in turn presented them to her daughter the Empress Eudoxia, wife of Emperor Valentinian III. Eudoxia then presented the chains to Pope Leo I.

The chains are now kept in a reliquary under the main altar in the basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy. A number of churches are named after “Saint Peter in Chains” (Latin: Sancti Petri ad vincula, Italian: San Pietro in Vincoli), in Rome, in Pisa, in London, and in Cincinnati.

The Methodist minister and hymn writer Charles Wesley wrote the hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” based on:

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists. (Acts 12:7)

And Can It Be That I Should Gain?
by Charles Wesley

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me, who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all: th’ Immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left his Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite his grace!
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
Alive in him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

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The following artists have depicted this event:

Who Needs a Grill? Build a Hot-Box Solar Oven


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He “grills out” with a homemade solar oven, which heats up to 350 degrees. This solar oven gets hot enough to bake a killer batch of scones—and in the summer, it can whip up brownies in a brownout.

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WILLIAM GURSTELLE

By William Gurstelle

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Solar Cooker

No power? No problem.

This afternoon project will let you cook off the grid with a sun-fueled oven hot enough to raise some dough.

1) Find Parts

The project makes use of scraps (or full 4 x 8 sheets) of ¾-inch and ½-inch plywood. It also requires 4d trim nails, a 6-foot length of 1½-inch-wide flat wood trim, 36 inches of ¼-inch-square molding, a half-sheet of ½-inch rigid foam insulation, a half-sheet of ½-inch drywall, two white ceramic knobs, eight 3-inch mending plates, construction adhesive, high-­temperature flat black spray paint, heavy-duty aluminum foil, No. 8 bolts, washers and nuts and a piece of ¼-inch plate glass cut to 13 x 14½ inches, with the edges sanded smooth.

2) Build the Box

Construct an open-top box using ¾-inch plywood for a 14 x 15½–inch bottom. Use ½-inch plywood to make four 7-inch-tall sides. With a vise and pliers, bend the mending plates to 135-degree angles. Fasten two plates to each box side with 1-inch No. 8 bolts, washers and nuts. Cut pieces of rigid foam insulation to line the box interior. Glue the foam to the plywood using construction adhesive. Cut and glue drywall panels to fit on top of the foam. Paint the interior black.

3) Prep the Top

Nail wood trim over the edges of the foam and drywall. Cut the molding into four 9-inch lengths. Center the glass pane over the opening. Put the moldings around the glass perimeter. Nail them down to steady the pane. Glue the knobs to the glass.

4) Make Reflectors

Cut rigid foam to four 12 x 24–inch panels. Wrap the foam in aluminum foil. Bolt the panels to the plates.

5) Bake It Up

Prep food in a black enamel­ pot with a lid; set the pot in the box. Replace the glass. Prop up the oven at an angle so the sun and reflectors shine directly on it. Use an oven thermometer to gauge the heat.

Note: This oven does not bake as quickly as a regular one, but our scones, with butter and lingonberry jam, were still delicious. Wear oven mitts to handle the ceramic knobs—they get hot!

Re-posted from Popular Mechanics

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The Preacher and the Aged Woman


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Old lady with cigar

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During his morning walk on a pleasant Saturday, the preacher saw an aged woman seated on her front step, happily puffing a cigar. He walked up to her. “Good morning ma’am,” the preacher greeted her.

She looked up, smiled at him.

“May, I sit?” he asked.

Puffing the cigar, she moved a wee bit to her left and patted the space to her right. He sat beside her. For a few minutes, both sat silently just looking around.

“Do you walk daily? You look virile and healthy,” the woman asked.

The preacher felt flattered. “Yes. How about you?” he asked in return.

She smiled. “I don’t exercise at all,” she replied.

“Is it so. I couldn’t help but notice how happy you look. What is your secret?” he asked the ever smiling woman.

“My secret? It’s the cigars! I smoke more than a dozen a day,” she said proudly.

“Oh,” gasped the preacher.

“The extra big joint before I go to bed helps me to rise refreshed in the morning,” she added.

The preacher couldn’t believe his ears.

She continued, “Apart from that, I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every other day.”

“What do you eat?”

“I eat junk food all the time at fast-food outlets.”

“What do you do on weekends?”

“On weekends? I pop pills, have sex! In fact, I’m waiting for my date to turn up any moment!” the woman beamed happily.

“You are absolutely amazing ma’am! By the way, how old are you?”

“Only sixty-nine. I am sweet 69. I love being 69!”

“Isn’t it wrong for living so frivolously at your age?” the preacher inquired.

“What? Wrong?” She snorted. “You are a preacher, aren’t you? Have you not read your bible? Go and read: Ecclesiastes 8:15, Isaiah 22:13, and 1 Corinthians 15:32 where you will find whether what I do is right or wrong. “

On seeing a car approaching the woman got up and said, “Goodbye. Read your bible.”

As soon as the preacher reached home he picked King James lying on his study table. He hurriedly turned the pages of the bible and read:

… A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and be merry. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

… Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow, we shall die. (Isaiah 22:13)

… Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (1 Corinthians 15:32)

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Wish You a Happy Birthday James Sinegal, Co-founder of Costco!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Born on January 1st, 1936 into a Catholic working-class family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, James Wright’s mother placed him in an orphanage. At the age of 11, his mother and her second husband Giuseppe Siniscalli (who later changed his name to Sinegal) adopted him. James took his stepfather’s last name.

James Sinegal attended Helix High School in La Mesa, California and earned an AA at San Diego City College in 1955. He obtained a BA from San Diego State University in 1959.

In 1954, he started working as a bagger at FedMart. Enthused by the opportunities at this rapidly growing retailer, he worked his way up to executive vice-president in charge of merchandising and operations.

From 1977-1978, James Sinegal worked as a vice president of merchandising for Builders Emporium and from 1978-1979 as an executive vice president for the Price Company. From 1979-1983, he worked with Sinegal/Chamberlain and Associates, a company which acted as a broker and sales representative for food and non-food products.

In 1983, James Sinegal together with Seattle retailer Jeff Brotman, co-founded Costco, the well-known discount-warehouse store on Fourth Avenue South in Seattle. James Sinegal said: “… three decades ago, a friend and I had a big idea for a small business: a wholesale store that would provide our members with great products at low prices while treating our employees fairly.”

He also said: “Costco is able to offer lower prices and better values by eliminating virtually all the frills and costs historically associated with conventional wholesalers and retailers, including salespeople, fancy buildings, delivery, and billing and accounts receivable. We run a tight operation with extremely low overhead which enables us to pass on dramatic savings to our members.”

Five years later Costco moved to Kirkland, the origin of its “Kirkland Signature” private label name. Currently based in Issaquah, it has 592 warehouses, 155,000 employees and annual revenues of $78 billion.

In its mix of goods and services Sinegal initiated Costco’s first “warehouse club” to include fresh food, eye-care clinics, pharmacies, and gas stations.

Unlike other major retail chain leaders who delegate subordinates to do the task of inspection of their retail outlets, Sinegal, even though he was the CEO of Costco, traveled every year to all retail locations to inspect them personally.

On January 1st, 2012, President and Chief Operating Officer Craig Jelinek took the reins from James Sinegal as CEO of Costco. Sinegal remains on Costco’s Board of Directors. James Sinegal radiated his quirky blend of humble, sincere and spirited aura when he spoke about his successor:”It’ll be an upgrade. He is well-liked and smart and energetic and all the things that I used to be.”

“Fascination That Comes With Change” by Elaina Pasangha


 By Elaina Pasangha (Std 10)

Change is defined as a difference or alteration in something, be it the system, society or even one’s behavioural change. From the invention of the light-bulb to the launching of the first rocket, change has always bewitched us. Change has always incited fascination, in other words, ‘change has always demanded our attention.’

Not so long ago, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The world was gripped with amazement at this unimaginable feat. For years people sang praises and composed ballads proclaiming this never-thought-before feat, this remarkable achievement. But, a mere forty-three years later the launch of a rocket in NASA has become just another passing event not even big enough to be headlines.

Moving further back, when Henry T. Ford invented the first economy car, people were astounded, left spellbound. The first common–man car hit the road! A change in the perception that only royals could own a car was brought about. This change too, like all other changes, fascinated the world! Was man content with the change? No! With each passing day, he aspired for more changes. Change is the only constant. Today we have a one lakh Rupee car for the masses! Has contentment now come about with this change? Only time will tell.

Forget the ‘white’ areas of life. Even in the so-called ‘black and grey areas’, change has always demanded our attention. Many years ago, in West Virginia a mine exploded killing three hundred men, two hundred of whom were fathers. In order to honour these people a special day began to be celebrated all over the world, a day, commonly known as ’Father’s Day’. However, in this twenty-first century that is inhabited by a generation of heartless people we wonder if a commemoration is worth it for a mere two hundred odd fathers who lost their lives in that explosion!

The change that we see today is of an insensitive population. Are we that heartless? Have we lost our value for life? Has death become so commonplace that it feels odd if no suicide or murder is reported in the newspaper? The ‘behavioural change’ too continues to fascinate me is a ‘cold’ sense.

Is today’s rocket less fast or less complex than Apollo 1? It is most likely more complex and ten times faster than Apollo. But why, does it fail to capture our imagination?

Is today’s car noisier and less effective than Ford’s first car? Definitely not! It is faster, more effective, less noisy and more spacious than that breakthrough car, in other words, it is a class apart! However, it fails to capture our imagination. Yet it amazes none! Why?

Einstein, Newton and Edison brought about a change that was so fascinating that it changed the way mankind lived. However, the trinity is forgotten now.

Things do not change; we change. The rocket has not got any slower nor has the car got any noisier. Bill Gates’ achievement is not greater than that of Edison! Life has not become less important. We are all still God’s unique and beautiful creation. Even so, the fact that no electric impulse passes through us every time we hear something so ‘commonplace’ is not because of the change, but the feeling of change.

It is the ‘feeling’ of change that incites emotions, that incites excitement , that incites pain! Change is a mere adjustment or alteration. When we have finished adjusting to change the ‘change’ doesn’t go away, it is the stimulation within us towards change that alters and slowly fades.

When Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon or when Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norkay first climbed Mount Everest it was a change for human beings. This change immediately stimulated excitement within us. However, after the adjustment completed within us, this stimulus too, failed to sustain.

When those two hundred fathers died in the mine explosion, entire West Virginia was gripped with pain. But as human beings slowly adjusted their system towards this change, again sadly, the pain of death got less strong and maybe one day the pain might cease. Is this right? Is this what we really need?

Sadly, we are no one to answer. This mystery will always remain unanswered. People may live on Mars one day but they will never know why initial excitement slowly fades. People may have robots which do everything for them one day, but they will never realise why the robots have suddenly become for them, just another machine!

Maybe this is how we are created. Maybe this is how it was always meant to be. Or maybe, we just evolved and our systems have ‘changed’. I have no answers. Change may be good or change maybe bad but, as far as what is in your hand, don’t let the stimulus die out quickly. Be it happiness or sadness, pain or joy, let the stimulus stay on as long as it is appropriate, for otherwise we’ll always live wanting and finally die wanting! Change comes as change does, yet don’t wait for that change neglecting the present. This craving for change is just going to make you an unhappy individual. Sometimes, that want to change can even kill you. Be happy with what you have. Find joy and satisfaction in the smallest of things that exist presently around you. When the change that is inevitable and fascinating does finally happen, embrace it and sustain the stimulus. The world isn’t going to run away anywhere. Keep the stimulus alive! Hakuna Matata! It’s a wonderful world!

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Elaina Pasangha a student of Sacred Heart Girls High School, Bangalore, India won a national-level award for this creative writing at the National Essay Writing Contest conducted by the ICSE Board (Delhi) for all the ICSE Schools in the country.  

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Effects of Hurricane Sandy


A shopper stands between empty frozen food containers and half-empty shelves in the refridgerated section of a grocery store that was depleted ahead of Hurricane Sandy, in Alexandria, Va., on Monday. (Photo: Michael Reynolds / EPA)

Workers Shannon Alexander, left, and Don Bruce board up the windows of an Ocean City, Md., apartment building as Hurricane Sandy approaches the Atlantic Coast on Oct. 27. (Photo: Jose Luis Magana / AP)

Pedestrians walk past the boarded-up windows of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City N.J. on Oct. 27. (Photo: Wayne Parry / AP)

New York City police officers go door to door in a housing project to take note of which residents are ignoring the mandatory evacuation order as Hurricane Sandy approaches on Oct. 28, in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo: Allison Joyce / Getty Images)

Waves crash over homes along the shoreline in Milford, Connecticut on Mohday. The monster storm bearing down on the U.S. east coast, strengthened on Monday after hundreds of thousands moved to higher ground. (Photo: Michelle Mcloughlin / Reuters)

Water from the Hudson River spills over a wall, flooding the street in front of the train station in Hoboken, New Jersey on Monday. (Photo: Gary Hershorn / Reuters)

Floodwaters enter the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (former Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel)

Floodwaters enter the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (former Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel), which was closed on Oct. 29 ahead of Sandy. New York City shut all three of its airports, its subways, schools, stock exchanges, Broadway theaters and closed several bridges and tunnels. (Photo: MTA via AP)

Streets are flooded under the Manhattan Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn on Oct. 29. (Photo: Bebeto Matthews / AP)

People empty a flooded basement on West 23rd Street in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood during a blackout believed to be caused by rising river waters as Sandy made its approach on Monday. (Photo: Andrew Kelly / Reuters)

Power is out Monday night in Manhattan.  (Photo: Allison Joyce / Getty Images)

People look up at a crane that hangs precariously from the side of 157 W. 57th Street after wind damaged it before the expected landfall of Hurricane Sandy in New York City on Monday, October 29. US President Barack Obama urged residents to follow warnings from local officials as hurricane Sandy barrels toward the East Coast. (Photo: Andrew Gombert / EPA)

Sea water floods the Ground Zero construction site, Monday, Oct. 29 , in Manhattan.  (Photo: John Minchillo / AP)

A deluge of water floods the Battery Tunnel in Manhattan as superstorm Sandy moves across the NYC area Monday night. (Photo: Andrew Kelly / Reuters)

A street is flooded in the Financial District of Manhattan by Hurricane Sandy Monday night. (Photo: Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Rising water, caused by Sandy, rushes into a subterranean parking garage, Monday, in the Financial District of New York City. (Photo: Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

The inlet section of Atlantic City, N.J., as Hurricane Sandy approaches on Monday. Sandy made landfall at 8 p.m. near Atlantic City, which was already mostly under water. (Photo: Dann Cuellar / ABC Action News via AP)

Vehicles are submerged on 14th Street near the Consolidated Edison power plant, Monday, in New York. (Photo: John Minchillo / AP)

A Dare County utility worker checks on conditions along a flooded Ride Lane in Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Monday. (Photo: Gerry Broome / AP)

Damaged cars sit under a fallen tree from high winds in the Queens borough of New York on Monday. Hurricane Sandy began battering the U.S. East Coast on Monday with fierce winds and driving rain, as the monster storm shut down transportation, shuttered businesses and sent thousands scrambling for higher ground hours before the worst was due to strike. (Photo: Lenwood Gibson / Reuters)

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50 Adjectives of Beautiful: The Story of Lizzie Velasquez


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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“The stares are what I’m really dealing with in public right now, … But I think I’m getting to the point where instead of sitting by and watching people judge me, I’m starting to want to go up to these people and introduce myself or give them my card and say, ‘Hi, I’m Lizzie. Maybe you should stop staring and start learning’.”
- Lizzie Velasquez

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Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus defines the adjective “beautiful” as “physically attractive” and has a host of synonyms:

admirable, alluring, angelic, appealing, beauteous, bewitching, charming, classy, comely, cute, dazzling, delicate, delightful, divine, elegant, enticing, excellent, exquisite, fair, fascinating, fine, foxy, good-looking, gorgeous, graceful, grand, handsome, ideal, lovely, magnificent, marvelous, nice, pleasing, pretty, pulchritudinous, radiant, ravishing, refined, resplendent, shapely, sightly, splendid, statuesque, stunning, sublime, superb, symmetrical, taking, well-formed, wonderful.

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Medical journals and men’s magazines publish photos of women, but the pictures would be aesthetically pleasing differently because of their unrelated motivations. Though the journal is more revealing, the magazine has the allure.

Roget’s Thesaurus defines the adjective “ugly” as “unattractive” and has synonyms:

animal, appalling, awful, bad-looking, beastly, deformed, disfigured, foul, frightful, grisly, gross, grotesque, hard-featured, hideous, homely, horrid, ill-favored, loathsome, misshapen, monstrous, not much to look at, plain, repelling, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, unbeautiful, uncomely, uninviting, unlovely, unprepossessing, unseemly, unsightly.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Lizzie Velasquez, four weeks premature weighed just 2 pounds 10 ounces (1.190 kg), and she has a rare genetic disorder. She has no adipose tissue to create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. The doctors told her parents that their child would never be able to walk or talk, or live a normal life.

Only two other people throughout the world have a similar ailment. Lizzie does not have body fat and weighs a mere 63 pounds (28.58  kilograms). At the age of four one brown eye started clouding and now blind in that eye, she and has only limited sight in the other. However, the syndrome did not affect her two younger siblings.

Despite what the doctors said, she thrived. Though her body is tiny, her bones, internal organs, and brain developed normally. However, she has no fatty tissue to store nutrients and to have enough energy to get through the day she has to eat every 15 minutes or so.

When Lizzie was in high school, an 8-second-long YouTube video, now removed, dubbed her as “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” Some YouTube viewers called her “it” and “monster” and asked her to kill herself. The horrible comments stung Lizzie. Even so, she read each one and dismissed them saying, “they are just words.”

“Living with this rare syndrome I know first hand what it’s like to be bullied. But I will be the first to say there is hope and it does get better!” says Lizzie.

Despite an ailment that should have killed her before she was twelve months old, Lizzie, now 23 years old, is a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos.

During the past seven years, she transformed herself into a motivational speaker with more than 200 workshops to her credit addressing: uniqueness, coping with bullies, and surmounting obstacles.

Lizzie Velasquez
Lizzie Velasquez

She also writes. In 2010, she published her first book, “Lizzie Beautiful“, and released her second, “Be Beautiful, Be You“, on March 1, 2012.

“Some days life doesn’t make sense,” she writes in “Be Beautiful, Be You“. “You just have to change what you can, ask for help and pray about the rest.

“I feel really glad that I don’t look like the celebrities out there that are so beautiful,” Lizzie told Dr. Drew Pinsky in an interview on CNN’s Headline News. “There are a lot of stereotypes attached to that Not looking like a super model gives people the opportunity to know you personally,” she explains.

“I’m human, and of course, these things are going to hurt,” she said. “Their judgement of me isn’t who I am, and I’m not going to let these things define me.”

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Hail Columbia!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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On October 8, 2012, Americans solemnly celebrated Columbus Day, marked by parades and pageantry, and mugs of fake red blood splashed on namesake statues.

A few activists consider this day as a “day of celebration of genocide. ” However, most of these protesters are unaware that the customary holiday they are protesting against previously performed an invaluable function in shaping a nation of people capable of being attentive to their issues.

Even today, Christopher Columbus is a compelling icon of American nationalism His name, transposed as Columbia, evolved into a historical and poetic term for the female embodiment of the United States of America. The American people situated their capital in the District of Columbia and adopted “Hail, Columbia!” as their unofficial anthem.

The Italian immigrants who arrived in thousands, in the later part of the nineteenth century, noticed the reverence paid to their celebrated countryman. However, they faced levels of hostility and discrimination based mainly on views that they displayed ignorance, lethargic or adverse to labor interests, and often portrayed as crude, hostile, and inassimilable into the American society, and subjected to abuse on account of their Catholicism. Several American nativists deemed Italians racially mediocre – the disparity being visible by their swarthy skins.

In 1891, New Orleans witnessed a terribly violent occasion, the lynching of 11 Italians – the largest mass lynching in American history. It provoked an international crisis. An editorial in the New York Times declared the Sicilians “a pest without mitigation.” It also asserted, “our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they.”

The animosity towards the Italians prompted many nativists to reject Columbus and search for a racially acceptable discoverer of the New World. They found him in a Viking explorer known as Leif Erikson, believed to be the first recorded Nordic person to have visited the area that is now the United States, Baffin Island and Labrador around 1000 CE. The Norwegian immigrants eager to find acceptance of their own promoted the exploits of the Viking explorer recorded in the Icelandic sagas.

American nativists went crazy. Artifacts purported to be of Viking origin were duly unearthed, and Viking motifs began to ornament architectural structures. The renowned Harvard chemist Eben Norton Horsford in his “Discovery of America by Northmen: Address at the Unveiling of the Statue of Leif Eriksen, Delivered in Faneuil Hall, Oct. 29, 1887″ claimed for the Norsemen “the honor of having discovered America, five hundred years before Columbus.” He concluded that Leif Erikson had made landfall in Cambridge.

Leif Erikson

Leif Erikson

In 1887, a committee of assorted worthies, comprising Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Charles W. Eliot raised funds to erect a statue of Leif Erikson in the midst of the stately residences of Boston’s Back Bay.

Today, October 9, United States observe Leif Erikson Day, which does not associate with any event in his life. On October 9, 1825, the small Norwegian sloop “Resturasjonen,” often called the “Norwegian Mayflower,” arrived in New York with 52 emigrants from Stavanger, Norway. On this day onward began, the organized immigration from Scandinavia to the United States.

The campaign for Leiff Erikson routinely crossed over into an explicit denigration of Catholics and impugning Columbus. It seemed “necessary for the truth, as to the discovery of America, to be established immediately” an endorser of Norse precedence expressed lest accepting the claims of Columbus would steer Americans to “yield to the foulest tyrant the world has ever had, the Roman Catholic power!

After all, if America did not acknowledge its existence to an Italian Catholic, then there would be no need to accept his immigrant compatriots.

Historian Joanne Mancini says, “At a moment of increasing fear that the nation was committing race suicide, the thought of Viking ghosts roaming the streets of a city increasingly filled with Irish, Italian, and Jewish hordes must have been comforting to an Anglo-Saxon elite.

Such attacks certainly enjoyed a support for some time, but by the end of the nineteenth century, the anti-Catholic bigotry waned off. Leaders of the establishment promote a Columbus stripped of his ethnic and religious characteristics, as an icon for patriotic veneration.

Francis Julius Bellamy, Author, editor, and Baptist minister hit upon the idea of a national celebration of Columbus Day in the schools to mark the anniversary, “to assimilate these children to an American standard of life and ideas.”

For the indigenous American Indians, Columbus Day is a “celebration” of survival.

Diana King, a member of the White Earth Indian Nation in northern Minnesota and a teacher in the school system there says, “Columbus Day is a chance to teach about who we once were, what has become of us since Europeans arrived on our shores, and who we are today — a struggling but surviving people… I want teachers to teach more about Indian civilization just like they do with Egyptian or European history,”

“Our history did not begin with Christopher Columbus,” she added.

On October 14, 2013, Americans will celebrate the next Columbus Day.

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Did Chang Hêng’s Seismoscope (“Earthquake Weathercock”) Ever Exist?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .

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Earthquake

For more than eighteen centuries, people have used devices such as seismoscopes (“Earthquake Weathercock”) to study of earthquakes. The earliest known seismoscope recorded both the occurrence of earthquakes and the azimuth of their origins from the observer.

In the eighteenth century, there were schemes to record the times of earthquakes as well as the dynamics of the ground movement occurring in earthquakes. Significant progress resulted in the late nineteenth century with the development of instruments known as seismographs that produced records of ground motion in earthquakes as a continuous function of time.

The Chinese philosopher Chang Hêng, also called Choko and Tyoko, invented the earliest known seismoscope in 132 A.D. Needham says it resembled a wine jar of diameter six feet. There were eight dragon-heads on the outside surface of the vessel facing the eight principal directions of the compass. Below each dragon-head was a toad, with its mouth opened toward the dragon-head. The mouth of each dragon held an orb. Whenever an earthquake occurred one of the eight dragon-mouths would release an orb into the gaping mouth of the toad below it. The direction of the ground motion determined which of the dragons discharged its orb. Reports say the device detected an earthquake that occurred at a distance of four hundred miles from the site of the seismoscope.

However, to date, nobody knows about the inside of the Chang Hêng’s seismoscope. Seismologists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries speculated on the mechanism of the Chinese seismoscope. Most believe it must have contained a device similar to a pendulum as the main sensing component to trigger one of the dragons to spew out an orb. In 1886, John Milne, a British geologist and mining engineer who labored on a horizontal seismograph, suggested that the pendulum was a suspended mass – a common pendulum.

In 1939, Akitsune Imamura, a Japanese seismologist, figured that the Chinese seismoscope might have housed an inverted pendulum. Takahiro Hagiwara, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, constructed an inverted-pendulum seismoscope which worked pretty much like Chang Hêng’s. As per reports the Chinese seismoscope indicated the azimuth of the earthquake. However, Hagiwara’s device responded to transverse movement. It indicated a direction normal to the azimuth between the observer and the epicenter.

In 1959, Needham suggested that Chang Hêng would have calibrated his device empirically for its direction-determining capabilities. He states that knowledge of Chang Hêng’s device existed for more than four hundred years. Works enumerating the functioning of “earthquake weathercocks” appeared as late as the end of the sixth century. Later, however, the seismoscope disappeared from Chinese’s disciplines.

Currently several Chinese writers have questioned whether Chang Hêng’s seismoscope ever existed.

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