Klok beats the clock


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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If you are asked to perform 10 illusions within a span of 5 minutes can you take on the challenge? The handsome Dutch illusionist Hans Klok beat the clock by performing his fastest illusions in 5 minutes – faster than he ever did.

Dutch illusionist and actor Johannes Franciscus Catharinus “Hans” Klok was born in Purmerend, Netherlands on 22 February 1969. He began his career in magic as a teenager. By the time he was sixteen he had won awards in several international competitions. At the age 23, he was part of a touring show along with famous Dutch comedian André van Duin.

His debut in USA was in 1994, when he performed for the first time on the Las Vegas Strip, as part of NBC’s “The World’s Greatest Magic.” This was broadcast live from Caesars Palace to an audience of over 60 million people.

He then toured Europe and China for 10 years and appeared in Las Vegas once more.

During the opening ceremony of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, he enthralled around 500 million football fans in 152 countries, by making the 18-carat gold World Trophy appear out of thin air in a glass cage.

In 2012 he broke his own world record for the most illusions done in 5 minutes on the BBC show, “The Magicians.”

Hans Klok has also acted in films and TV:

2002 – Le plus grand cabaret du monde (TV series) in Episode dated 14 December 2002.

2003 – De D van dag (short drama – 22 mins)

2004 – Sinterklaas en het geheim van de Robijn (adventure, family film 115 mins) in whcih Hans Klok appeared as Bisschop van Zwitserland.

2007 – The 2007 World Magic Awards (family, fantasy TV movie 120 mins). Roger Moore appears as himself at the host of the show. The Hans Klok and Pamela Anderson team was fun to watch as well as the other performers.

2009 – De Dik Voormekaar show (comedy TV series). In Episode #1.10, Meneer De Bok hopes Klok will make his wife disappear.

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Back again to square one …


This is a sequel to the article “Big Brothers are watching you…” that I posted yesterday after installing Collusion the new Add-on for the Firefox browser.

Today morning I switched on my laptop, opened my Firebox browser and out of curiosity I checked Collusion and here is the screen image of what I saw:

So, even after I shut down and switched on the computer the following day, I find that the Big Brothers are still there stalking to watch my movements on the web.

Exasperated, I clicked the orange drop down tab “Firefox” at the top left-hand corner, and then clicked “Options”:

Now on the options page I clicked the ‘Privacy’ tab and I checked the box under Tracking – “Tell websites I do not want to be tracked” and then clicked “clear all current history” and cleared ‘Browsing & Download History’, ‘Cookies’,  ‘Cache’, and ‘Active Logins’.

ext I checked Collusion and I was elated.  This is what I saw – a clean slate.

Next I logged into WordPress Dashboard.

Then I entered the web page of “The Telegraph”

And here is the screen shot of Collusion while browsing ‘The Telegraph’.

Next I searched Google. After about googling 6 sites, I checked Collusion and was confounded.So, I was back again to square one.

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Big Brothers are watching you…


You all know that there are many Big Brothers watching every click that we make, hoping to make a profit by trying to sell us something we browsed through or bought, as if we are going to buy more of the same.

Earlier today an experimental add-on for the Firefox browser called Collusion was introduced by Mozilla that shows how companies are tracking us as we surf the Web.

I installed a fresh copy of Firefox 7 today and then I installed this add-on. I was able to see all the uninvited third parties who are tracking my movements across the web.  Collusion show in real time, a spider-web of inter action between companies and other trackers.

I closed the Firefox browser and after some time I opened it. I was shocked to see a hive of trackers tracking my every move. Here is a screen shot of my Firefox screen:

I advise you to install this add-on for your Firefox browser.

Pilgrimage to the Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Emmitsburg, Maryland


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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This is a sequel to my post  “GROTTO SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES – EMMITSBURG, MARYLAND” of February 16, 2012.

Our recent visit on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes on 11th February 2012 was an unforgettable experience for my wife and me.  Though it was snowing that day, we were  indeed happy to be there at this holy Shrine at Emmitsburg, where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church, had trod a long time ago.

Coriander Leaves and Kidneys


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Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The pair of bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a fist, are vital organs in our body located, one on each side of the spine, near the middle of our back, just below the rib cage. The kidneys perform many functions to keep our blood clean and chemically balanced.

Our body uses food for energy and maintenance. Wastes in the blood come from food that we consume and from the normal breakdown of active tissues, such as muscles. Every day, a person’s kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood and filter out about 2 quarts of waste products and remove excess water. The wastes and excess water flow to the bladder through two tubes called ureters as urine. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also called cilantro, koththamalli (in Tamil),  or dhania (in Hindi) is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. In the English-speaking world (except for the U.S.) the leaves and seeds are known as coriander. In American culinary usage, the leaves are generally referred to by the Spanish word cilantro.

Coriander is an excellent source of minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in many vital vitamins essential for optimum health including vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C and folic acid. By the way, vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant.

A study found both the coriander leaves and seed act as antioxidants, however, the leaves were found to have a stronger effect. Hence, Coriander like many other spices can delay or prevent spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants.

Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic (a substance or drug that tends to increase the discharge of urine) by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid.

The powerful anti-inflammatory capacities of coriander can help one deal with symptoms of arthritis. Coriander also increases HDL cholesterol (the good) and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad).

Cholesterol – the good and the bad

Cholesterol is not all bad. It is an essential fat. In fact, it provides stability in every cell of our body. The liver makes some cholesterol and some come from diet. Cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, so transport proteins called lipoproteins carry it to locations where it needs to go.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol 

The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol particles are less dense than other kinds of cholesterol particles. Each microscopic blob of LDL cholesterol consists of an outer rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol centre.

What Makes LDL Cholesterol Bad? It is just its chemical makeup. Here’s how high amounts of LDL cholesterol leads to plaque growth and atherosclerosis.

  • Some LDL cholesterol circulating through the bloodstream tends to deposit in the walls of arteries. This process starts as early as childhood or adolescence.
  • White blood cells swallow and try to digest the LDL, possibly in an attempt to protect the blood vessels. In the process, the white blood cells convert the LDL to a toxic (oxidized) form.
  • More white blood cells and other cells migrate to the area, creating steady low-grade inflammation in the artery wall.
  • Over time, more LDL cholesterol and cells collect in the area. The ongoing process creates a bump in the artery wall called a plaque – made of cholesterol, cells, and debris.
  • The process tends to continue, growing the plaque and slowly blocking the artery.

An even greater danger than slow blockage is a sudden rupture of the surface of the plaque. A blood clot can form on the ruptured area, causing a heart attack.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

The High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol particle is dense compared to other types of cholesterol particles. Each microscopic blob of HDL cholesterol consists of a rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol centre.

The well-behaved HDL cholesterol is a friendly scavenger that cruises the bloodstream. It removes harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease — but low LDL levels increase the risk.

Experts believe HDL cholesterol may act in a variety of helpful ways that tend to reduce the risk for heart disease:

  • HDL cholesterol scavengers and removes LDL cholesterol.
  • HDL reduces, reuses, and recycles LDL cholesterol by transporting it to the liver where it is reprocessed.
  • HDL cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls of blood vessels (endothelium). Damage to the endothelium is the first step in the process of atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes. HDL chemically scrubs the endothelium clean and keeps it healthy.

Coriander leaves offer great relief from stomach indigestion problems and the like. It also helps reduce feelings of nausea. Since it has strong antioxidant properties, it helps promote healthy liver function.

A friend suggested that consuming an infusion of Coriander leaves is a good remedy for kidney pain. This is the instruction my friend gave me to prepare a decoction using coriander leaves:

“Wash and clean a bunch of fresh coriander leaves thoroughly in water to remove the dirt and any residual harmful pesticides that might be sticking on them. Chop the leaves as small as possible. Put the chopped leaves in a vessel, pour filtered water and boil for 10 minutes. Filter after cooling using a sieve. Pour the filtered liquid into a sterilized glass bottle and store it in a refrigerator.”

She said: “Drink one glass of the liquid daily and you will notice all salt and other accumulated poison coming out of your system while passing urine. Also, you will notice that you feel healthier than before.

By the way, coriander can produce an allergic reaction in some people. So, please consult your physician before consuming the coriander decoction.

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Teach me how to pray …


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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I love listening to the mellow voice of my all-time favourite singer late gentleman Jim Reeves. My heart starts palpitating and tears flow from my eyes whenever I listen to his rendering of “Daddy my daddy teach me how to pray …”

One night a sleepy little boy knelt beside his bed.
He smiled and looked into my eyes and this is what he said:
“Daddy, my daddy, you‘ve taught me lots today;
So daddy, my daddy, teach me how to pray.”

“You brought me home a brand new kite, and you showed me how to fly;
And there ain’t no other kid whose dad can knock a ball so high;
I’d like to thank God for you but I don’t know what to say;
So daddy, my daddy, teach me how to pray.”

I had to turn and leave this room and he began to cry.
I didn’t want my boy to know but so did I
His best pal had forsaken him but what was there to say?
For daddy, his daddy, had forgotten how to pray.

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This song always makes me read the Gospel of Mathew 6:7-15 again and again.

When his disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, he tells them:

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Mathew 6:5-6)

And then Jesus presents them with an example of a communal prayer that stresses the fatherhood of God and acknowledges him as the one to whom all of us owe our daily sustenance, forgiveness, and deliverance from the final trial.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

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Music Makes the Difference…


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

Music - 02Music has a profound influence and plays an important part in our lives – makes us dance, dream, loved, laugh, and cry. Mostly, I love listening to the invigorating beats of the drums and other indigenous instruments of the Indian sub-continent, Sri Lanka, Africa, and the Caribbean.

To make a scene come alive, any music won’t do. For example a year back, T-Mobile made a spoof video of the Royal Wedding and most of us have watched it on YouTube. Last year, it was rated second most watched video in the UK on YouTube.

I saw the T-mobile spoof video of the Royal Wedding, in April 2011.  It was a spoof alright, and it made me laugh, but I felt something was missing.

A few weeks later I saw the same video but titled “Some Royal Wedding Punjabi Style” uploaded by salik6823 on May 5, 2011. And then two days later I watched “The Royal Wedding Sri Lankan Style” uploaded by MonkeyArtCreations on May 7, 2011 with the comment “This is what the Royal family would have done if Sri Lankan Papare music was played!!! :D”

After watching the versions with Punjabi and the Sri Lankan music I figured out what I was missing in the original version – the actors of the T-mobile spoof were lively but the original music score was not.

Watch the 3 versions and you decide.

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Well said Mr. Udaya Kumar …


Anti-nuclear activist Uday Kumar on Friday criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the his statement that the NGOs based in the United States are fuelling the Kudankulam nuclear plant protests, and asked the Prime Minister either to prove the charge or step down.

This is the report that appeared in IBN Live India.

“The Prime Minister should take back his statement. If the Prime Minister can’t prove his charge then he should step down. The Prime Minister is not an elected PM but a nominated one, that’s why he is insulting the people of India,” said Kumar.

“It is nonsense to say that NGO’s from the US and Scandinavian countries are funding the Kudankulam protest,” he said.

“The Prime Minister, who is the head of the country, can’t make such remarks. He has no sympathy. Lakhs of people are struggling and instead of acknowledging, he is accusing us of receiving money. We are not receiving money from any NGO,” said Kumar.

“His ministerial colleague Narayansamy said the same thing. Why can’t he produce some evidence to prove his charge? The Prime Minister insults the people of the country,” said the activist.

Hiting out at anti-nuclear activists for the first time and questioning the source of their funding, Manmohan Singh, in an interview in the journal ‘Science’, said, “The atomic energy program has got into difficulties because these NGOS, mostly, I think, based in the US, don’t appreciate the need for our country to increase energy. The local NGO-led protests have stalled the commissioning of two 1000 MW nuclear reactors.”

However, supporting Manmohan Singh’s claim, Iowa State University scientist Dr Sivramiah Shantharam said, “The Prime Minister is right on the dot. It is a very well known fact that international NGOs, both from US and Europe, who in alliance with local NGOs whip up trouble. All the frenzy was whipped up by them after receiving funding to create anxiety and suspicion about bio-tech advancements.”

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Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Emmitsburg, Maryland


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Above the lovely valley of Emmitsburg, Frederick County, Maryland, just 12 miles south of Gettysburg, situated high on the mountainside, where nature displays itself in all its picturesque and wild glory sits the wondrous National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes – a shrine which traces its lineage to the very beginnings of the spread of Catholicism in America.

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's (1774-1821) (Source: dailygospel.org)
Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s (1774-1821) (Source: dailygospel.org)

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Incredibly linked with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church, the Shrine is one of the oldest known American replica of the revered French shrine, dating to about 1875, two decades after the apparitions at Lourdes (1858), although the site had already been in use since 1805, when Father John Dubois founded it as a place of prayer and devotion.

This holy mountain sanctuary of historic importance to the Catholics of America has been devoutly tended throughout the years and attracts thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world for prayer and meditation.

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My wife Assuntha and I along with my son Subas, daughter-in-law Maria Ligia, grandson Rohan and my grandson’s godfather Joe Napoleon visited this holy shrine on Saturday 11 February 2012. It was snowing that day, nevertheless, we thank the Almighty for leading us to Emmitsburg, where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint had trod a long time ago on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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The Story of Our Lady’s Grotto

In the year 1728, a group of Catholics left St. Mary’s City on the St. Mary’s River, in Maryland, and travelled westward seeking peace and religious freedom. These Catholics were children and grandchildren of the early colonists of Maryland.

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Among the refugees of 1728, were the members of the William Elder family, forebears of Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati. They travelled to the west almost one hundred miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most portion in Georgia, then ending northward in Pennsylvania. They stopped at the first range of the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving the loved name, “St. Mary’s Mount” to its eastern prominence.

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Finding rest in a peaceful valley of “surpassing beauty,” which they called “St. Joseph’s Valley,” they took the land and built their homes. Here they were cared for spiritually through the years by missionary priests forced to travel in disguise because of the penal laws against Catholics prevailing during that time.

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The Elder farmhouse became known as “Elder’s Station.” Here Mass was celebrated and the dead were buried in the adjoining cemetery.

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Father John Dubois and the Grotto

In 1805, after the Revolution and the constitutional grant of religious freedom, Father John Dubois, a refugee priest from France, came to this area and settled. This priest, who later became Bishop of New York, was, in the year 1794, appointed pastor of Frederick by Bishop Carroll. His pastorate included all of western Maryland and western Virginia. Of all the lovely places he visited in this wild and mountainous country, he came to love most the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph.

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In 1805, on St. Mary’s Mount, Father John Dubois built St. Mary’s Church at the site of the present Grotto parking lot.

For over a century, this church was a beacon calling the faithful to Mass from the Valley and a reminder to them to keep the Faith. Numerous paths, traceable up to this day and all converging on the church, show with what fidelity the Catholics practised their faith.

To this very day the people of the Valley, now members of St. Anthony’s parish, exhibit a strong, living and very simple faith. Families have lived here for many generations. Very few move away. They are a happy people with a proud awareness of their ancient Catholic heritage. After all, very few parishes in these United States can claim that they have had uninterrupted priestly service for 235 years. Very few Americans can say that their forebears were taught by holy people. They are the spiritual children of Saint Mother Seton.

On the lower terraces, Father Dubois began the first building of Mount Saint Mary’s College and Seminary in 1808.

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Father Simon Gabriel Bruté

One of the holy founders of the Grotto, Father Simon Gabriel Bruté came to the Mountain in 1812. This remarkable priest, later first Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, combined in his person the talents and attainments of a scholar, theologian, master of the spiritual life, teacher, and pastor of souls.

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Father Simon Gabriel Bruté

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This spiritual enthusiast reveled in the beauty of the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph. Father Bruté brought to the Mountain and the Valley a program of holy activity.

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Remembering the orderly, cultivated hills of his native France, Father Bruté strove to “smooth the frown from nature’s erring face.” Springs were cleaned out, covered and named for saints; terraces and paths found their way up the rugged Mountainside to the. church and Grotto. They were constructed so well that we walk along them today and the stone walls remain. He attached crosses to the trees on the path between the church and the Grotto so that one might make the Stations of the Cross along this beautiful woodland avenue.

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On the left side of the Grotto parking lot. several hundred yards back in the mountains, behind the site of Father John Dubois’ church, is the famous Grotto, the most ancient shrine consecrated to Mary, the mother of God, in continuous existence in the original thirteen colonies, on which was begun in 1875 the first Lourdes Grotto in America.

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 “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”

A memorable devotion centered about the old Grotto was the annual Corpus Christi procession.

It was during Father John Baptist Purcell’s (later Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio) term as president of the college (1829-1833) that these annual processions at the Grotto over Father Bruté’s paths began, or at least began to be chronicled, and another charm was added to the Mountain.

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The lovely road lying between the site of the old church and the Grotto is still called the “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”

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Corpus Christi Chapel

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This stone chapel was built in 1906 on the site of the original Grotto discovered by Father John DuBois in 1805.

There is a legend that Father John Dubois, on one of his pastoral journeys, was attracted by a light on the mountain and found this spot, one of the loveliest in the world.

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Those of a more practical mind may surmise that Father John Dubois was seeking the source of the stream which flowed out of the ravine into the valley below.  Just what did the priest find on his day of discovery?

He climbed a steep ascent through a rocky ravine along a tumbling torrent, which was much broader and more unruly than at present, for its volume has lessened since the trees were cut down on the mountain. He came upon a lovely clearing, a masterpiece of natural beauty. Sharply sloping hills from almost every side formed a natural amphitheater where nature “displayed itself in all its wild and picturesque beauty.” In the center of this clearing, where now the stone chapel stands, he saw a mound, shaded by the branches of an ancient oak. Such huge oak trees are seen even to this day on the mountain, survivors of the woodsmen’s devastation.

In any event, Father John Dubois found the Grotto-site, a dell of breath-taking beauty, and there erected a rude cross.

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Grotto

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first Superior of the Sisters of Charity, dedicated to serving the poor, was the next holy person to love the Grotto. She came in the year 1809 to the Mountain where, before moving to the Valley, she and her little band of pioneer sisters lived for six weeks near the Church and the Grotto. Here her sister-in-law Harriet received the gift of Faith. And, after Mother Seton moved to the Valley, the Grotto was to her the most loved spot on the mountain. It is possible that Mother Seton first called it the Grotto, for we find this reference in one of her letters, dated May 27, 1810:

“If you could breathe our mountain air and taste the repose of the deep woods and streams. Yesterday we all, about twenty children and sisters, dined in our grotto on the mountain, where we go Sundays for the divine office.”

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Rosetta Landry White, called Mother Rose, who succeeded Mother Seton gives further details of this holy association with the Grotto:

About this time we walked to the Mountain Church every Sunday to sing at High Mass and assist at the sermon; there was no bridge over the creek in our way, therefore, when the water was high, we had to cross one by one on horseback; and when low, we passed over on the stones; as there was no clear road to the Mountain we often lost our way in the woods. We carried our dinner in a basket and frequently cooked our meat at the mountain; taking it from the frying-pan to place it on a piece of bread without a knife or fork, and ate it standing, as the Israelites of old ate the Pascal Lamb. We would then quench our thirst at a neighboring spring and ramble for a time around the Grotto, a wild and picturesque spot some distance from the Church, furnished with seats, covered with vines, wild flowers in luxuriance around it and a gentle rivulet flowing from the rock above. We thus amused ourselves until time for Vespers and Benediction after which we returned to our Home in the Valley. This was all pleasant enough in summer, although we had no umbrellas to protect us from the heat of the sun or the showers that sometimes surprised us. On coming to the creek in the rain, we would find there a horse sent from the Mountain by Father Du Bois, to take us across; the eldest Sister would remain standing in the rain by the old oak tree until we all has safely passed over; then taking her turn, she would sometimes continue her ride to the farm-house door. Our shoes would be heavy with mud and our clothes so wet that we would be obliged to change. We continue this Sunday journey to the Mountain.” – Mother Rose White’s Journal 1809.

The eldest Sister, mentioned by Mother Rose must definitely be Mother Seton.

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The first statue of Our Lady was placed in the Grotto in Mother Seton’s time. Truly Mother Seton loved this Grotto. It entered into her daily thoughts, conversations, and writings. In a letter to Father Brute, she prayed for “one only heart, clear for my thoughts as the stream of your Grotto.”

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Time-Lapse Starscape – Heavens in Motion


Temporal Distortion

Randy Halverson, who recently won a time-lapse video competition with one of his Milky Way clips (see the clip at the bottom of this post), photographed this sequence during the summer and fall of 2011 in South Dakota, Utah and Colorado.

“What you see is real, but you can’t see it this way with the naked eye. It is the result of 20-30 second exposures, edited together over many hours to produce the time-lapse,” Halverson wrote.

At 0:53 and again at 2:17, for example, meteors with persistent trails twinkle into view.

The night sky seems unchanging to the naked eye, but beauty is hidden beyond the limits of unaided human perception.

As Earth rotates, the sky moves, revealing astronomical events that only time-lapse photography — a series of exposures lasting for minutes apiece — can truly capture.

“There are so many things you don’t normally see that you can with time-lapse,” said photographer Randy Halverson, who created the video above.

Halverson’s work even attracted the attention of Bear McCreary, a composer who wrote the music for TV shows Battlestar GalacticaEureka and The Walking Dead. He scored Halverson’s for fun.

The surge in amateur popularity of time-lapse videos, caused in part by cheaper access to quality technology and video services, hasn’t gone unnoticed by Wired. Dim the lights, crank up the volume and watch some of our favorite clips in this gallery.

Tempest Milky Way from Randy Halverson.

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of what comes to my mind.

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