Tag Archives: This is life

Women in Western Art – A Video by Philip Scott Johnson


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Philip Scott Johnson used Abrosoft Fantamorph to create this enthralling video.  He uploaded the video on to YouTube on April 22, 2007 under the pseudonym . It was nominated  for 2007 YouTube Awards in the “Creative” category.

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN08 - Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist...

The background music being played is “Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007” performed by the French Americancellist, virtuoso, and orchestral composer Yo-Yo Ma.

I hope you like this video as much as I do.

If you are a curious cat like me, then visit Ms. Boni’s site to find the complete list of artists and paintings used in this video by  Philip Scott Johnson.

Women In Art from Philip Scott Johnson on Vimeo

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Fractions used by Ancient Tamils


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Myself .

By T. V. Antony Raj
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In our conversations, we, Tamils, use words denoting fractions very frequently without batting an eyelid.

A Tamil goldsmith will assure his client, “இம்மி அளவேனும் குறையாது (immi alavaenum kurayathu) meaning “not a fraction less”. Here, the word இம்மி (immi) is the Tamil word for the fraction 1/2150400 ≈ 4.6502976190476190476190476190476e-07.

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The word “aNu“, meaning “Atom”, is used very frequently by the Tamils to denote very minute portions or particles. In ayurvedic and sidda medicines the naattu vaithiyar (the country doctor) might give instructions to his assistant to add “அணு அளவு பாதரசம்” (aNu alavu padharasam) meaning “an atom sized mercury”. Here the word அணு (aNu) is the Tamil word for the fraction 1/165580800 ≈ 6.0393475572047000618429189857761e-09.

Now, I wonder why the ancient Tamils had such names for these particular fractions. The smallest fraction to be named being தேர்த்துகள் (thaertthugal) which is

1/2323824530227200000000  ≈ 4.3032508995084501477534881372607e-22

I am not able to fathom the underlying reason for the ancient Tamils to use such minute fractions and name them too. I read somewhere that the only place where such minute fractions are used nowadays is in NASA but I am not sure.

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Here is the list that I gathered of fractions used by the ancient Tamils:

1 – ஒன்று – onRu
3/4 = 0.75 – முக்கால் – mukkaal
1/2= 0.5 – அரை – arai
1/4 = 0.25 – கால் – kaal
1/5 = 0.2 – நாலுமா – naalumaa
3/16 = 0.1875 – மும்மாகாணி – mummaakaani
3/20 = 0.15 – மும்மா – mummaa
1/8 = 0.125 – அரைக்கால் – araikkaal
1/10 = 0.1 – இருமா – irumaa
1/16 = 0.0625 – மாகாணி (வீசம்) – maakaaNi (veesam)
1/20 = 0.05 – ஒருமா – orumaa
3/64 = 0.046875 – முக்கால்வீசம் – mukkaal veesam
3/80 = 0.0375 – முக்காணி – mukkaaNi
1/32 = 0.03125 – அரைவீசம் – araiveesam
1/40 = 0.025 – அரைமா – araimaa
1/64 = 0.015625 – கால் வீசம் – kaal veesam
1/80 = 0.0125 – காணி – kaaNi
3/320 = 0.009375 – அரைக்காணி முந்திரி – araikkaaNi munthiri
1/160 = 0.00625 – அரைக்காணி – araikkaaNi
1/320 = 0.003125 – முந்திரி – munthiri
3/1280 = 0.00234375 – கீழ் முக்கால் – keel mukkal
1/640 = 0.0015625 – கீழரை – keelArai
1/1280 = 7.8125e-04 – கீழ் கால் – keel kaal
1/1600 = 0.000625 – கீழ் நாலுமா – keel nalumaa
3/5120 ≈ 5.85938e-04 – கீழ் மூன்று வீசம் – keel moondru veesam
3/6400 = 4.6875e-04 – கீழ் மும்மா – keel mummaa
1/2500 = 0.0004 – கீழ் அரைக்கால் – keel araikkaal
1/3200 = 3.12500e-04 – கீழ் இருமா – keel irumaa
1/5120 ≈ 1.95313e-04 – கீழ் வீசம் – keel veesam
1/6400 = 1.56250e-04 – கீழொருமா – keelorumaa
1/102400 ≈ 9.76563e-06 – கீழ்முந்திரி – keezh munthiri
1/2150400 ≈ 4.65030e-07 – இம்மி – immi
1/23654400 ≈ 4.22754e-08 – மும்மி – mummi
1/165580800 ≈ 6.03935e-09 – அணு – aNu
1/1490227200 ≈ 6.71039e-10 – குணம் – kuNam
1/7451136000 ≈ 1.34208e-10 – பந்தம் – pantham
1/44706816000 ≈ 2.23680e-11 – பாகம் – paagam
1/312947712000 ≈ 3.19542e-12 – விந்தம் – vintham
1/5320111104000 ≈ 1.87966e-13 – நாகவிந்தம் – naagavintham
1/74481555456000 ≈ 1.34261e-14 – சிந்தை – sinthai
1/1489631109120000 ≈ 6.71307e-16 – கதிர்முனை – kathirmunai
1/59585244364800000 ≈ 1.67827e-17 – குரல்வளைப்படி – kuralvaLaippidi
1/3575114661888000000 ≈ 2.79711e-19 -வெள்ளம் – veLLam
1/357511466188800000000 ≈ 2.79711e-21 – நுண்மணல் – nuNNmaNal
1/2323824530227200000000 ≈ 4.30325e-22 – தேர்த்துகள் – thaertthugal

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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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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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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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Esther Vergeer – the world’s greatest Wheelchair Tennis player


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Esther Vergeer - 2012 Australian Open - Day 13

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Esther Vergeer born on July 18, 1981 in Woerden, Netherlands is the greatest wheelchair tennis player of all time. Since 2003, she has won every singles match she has played – around 444 matches in the last nine years.

In 1999, at the age of 18, Esther became world number one. She is now 30, and she still plays on. Between 2004 and 2006, she never lost a set – winning 250 in a row. During her career, Esther has won 39 Grand Slam titles – 20 singles and 19 doubles, as well as five Paralympics and 22 year-end championship titles.

Esther has been nominated six times including 2012 as Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. She won this prestigious Award twice – in 2002 and 2008.

Esther Vergeer - US Open 2007

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Esther Vergeer was paralyzed from the waist down in 1990 at the age of eight after undergoing surgery for a spinal defect and brain haemorrhage. Part of her rehabilitation programme involved playing sports, and she found she had an aptitude for wheelchair tennis and basketball, eventually choosing to concentrate on tennis from the time she was 17. She says that she no longer sees herself as disabled.

“At the beginning, I didn’t realize I’d be paralyzed the rest of my life. I was little and in pain and in hospital and all those things together made me think that when I got home and I didn’t have pain any more, I would be able to walk again,” she told Marianne Bevis of The Sport Review.

“But when I got back home, had to go back to school, play with my friends, it dawned on me it would be the rest of my life.

“In the beginning it’s hard, of course, everything I did I compared with before: It was easier when I could walk, it was more fun when I could walk, so it was difficult.

“I guess sports, and the people around me, made me realize that the world doesn’t end. Now I can do all the things that other 30-year-olds do so I don’t see myself as a disabled.

“I love this game more than anybody. It’s a lot of sacrifice, it’s a lot of effort, but I do enjoy that.

“My main motivation is the inner game: I just love the sport, I love the training, but then also the way I see that I can improve in so many aspects still.

“Then there’s the motivation of the Olympics: You have to set certain goals, and this year for sure I’ve set my goal – my mind – on the Olympics.”

Away from the court, Esther with her own charitable foundation continues to work tirelessly to encourage a new generation of athletes by organizing wheelchair sports clinics. She also continues to work closely with the Johan Cruyff Foundation and the Dutch National Paralympic Committee and is also a member of the Laureus Friends & Ambassadors programme.

I have posted below some images of Esther Vergeer – the world’s greatest Wheelchair Tennis player.

Esther Vergeer attends the Laureus Sports Awards at the Palau Sant Jordi on April 2, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain.


Esther Vergeer after winning Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award in 2008.

Esther Vergeer poses with the championship trophy after winning her women’s wheelchair final match against Korie Homan of the Netherlands during day thirteen of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

Esther Vergeer and Rafael Nadal of Spain pose for a photo during day two of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament at the Ahoy Centre Rotterdam on February 10, 2009 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Esther Vergeer poses with her award at the ITF World Champions Gala on day ten of the French Open on June 1, 2010 in Paris, France.

Esther Vergeer  with her trophy celebrates after she defeated Daniela Di Toro of Australia in her women’s wheelchair singles final during day fourteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Esther Vergeer poses with the Women’s Wheelchair Roll of Honour Award during the ITF World Champions Dinner at Pavillion D’Armenonville on May 31, 2011 in Paris, France.

Esther Vergeer celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Aniek Van Koot of the Netherlands in the Wheelchair Women’s Singles Final during Day Fourteen of the 2011 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Esther Vergeer (L) poses with the winners trophy after defeating Aniek Van Koot (R) of the Netherlands in their Women’s Wheelchair singles final match during day thirteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.

Esther Vergeer poses in the Winners Studio during the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards at Central Hall Westminster on February 6, 2012 in London, England.

An Atheist and an Agnostic in Paradise


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Swami Beyondananda.

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Recently I came to know about Swami Beyondananda, the cosmic comic alter ego writer, humorist, performer and uncommontator Steve Bhaerman.

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Steve Bhaerman alias Swami Beyondananda.

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This Swami, whose favourite yoga pose is ‘tongue-in-cheek‘, is the spokesperson for a new non-religion, FUNdamentalism (accent on “fun”). Says the Swami, “We are strictly non-dominational.”

By the way, do you know who or what the word ‘uncommontator‘ or the word ‘non-dominational‘ mean? Well, I don’t know, neither does Google.

One day in 1979, while Steve was pursuing a career as a teacher and writer, the name “Swami Beyondananda” flew into his head. As Steve tells it, “I got struck by enlightening during a brainstorm.”

Now, let us tune into the wisdom of Swami Beyondananda:

Whew, my head is spinning with all that hate! Well, here is a joke to lighten up everyone!

An atheist and an agnostic after dying to arrive in what they realize is paradise. When they arrive in Paradise, they are met by this benign, radiant beautiful woman who claims to be God ( or rather Goddess!) who shows the agnostic and atheist around.

They see all these beautiful trees, orchards, meadows, waterfalls and meet with many beautiful people of many different ethnicities with happy-faced children all hugging and loving each other with flowers in their hair singing

“If you’re going to San Francisco,
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…”

“Who are they?” ask the atheist and the agnostic

“They are the Children of earth, atheists and agnostics like yourself,” says the beautiful Goddess. They have come to paradise and obtained what they sought – eternal happiness, peace and harmony among all people,” says the beaming Goddess.

Finally, they arrive at the edge of paradise, a vista point where they see this deep, bottom-less huge pit, a cavern the size of the milky way with roaring flames! They see all kinds of people throwing bombs at each other, blowing each other up, hating each other, cursing each other, fighting each other, in other words, one big hate fest!

The atheist and the agnostic ask, “Who are they and what is that cavern with flames?”

“Oh, that is Hell,” says the Goddess. “Those people down there are hateful, intolerant, violent religious extremists, the believers, all the haters from planet earth, extremist Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Jains, Sikhs, Nazis and yes even republicans!!”

“Why are they so angry and hateful?” ask the atheist and the agnostic.

The bemused Goddess says, “Oh, they are just angry because they were lied to by their Gods as to who would be in heaven and hell!!”

The Navels of Adam and Eve


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj
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First of all, let me tell you that I am not a connoisseur of art nor do I pretend to be one. Do you see anything wrong in this drawing of Adam and Eve?

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Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)

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A few days ago I saw this same drawing posted in Facebook with annotations. I thank the person who posted this picture for opening my eyes to the world of art.

A few days ago I saw this same drawing posted in Facebook with annotations. I thank the person who posted this picture for opening my eyes to the world of art.

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Explain this - Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)
Explain this – Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)

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I couldn’t but exclaim “The artist was a dumb idiot.”

But the artist who drew the above picture was an educated person named Lucas Cranach the Elder.

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Self portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Self portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Lucas Cranach the Elder was a German Renaissance painter and graphic artist who excelled in portraits and in female nudes. He was the foremost member of the family of artists by that name active in Saxony during the 16th century.

From about 1501 to 1504 Cranach lived in Vienna, and his earliest known works date from this period. They include a portrait of a humanist, Doctor Reuss (Germanisches Museum, Nuremberg) and a Crucifixion (1503, Alte Pinakothek, Munich).

In 1505 Cranach became court painter to the electors of Saxony at Wittenberg, a position he held until 1550. He was a prominent citizen in Wittenberg, received a title, and became mayor in 1537. In 1508 he visited the Netherlands, where he painted portraits of such royalty as Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and the young prince who succeeded him as Charles V. For his electoral patrons he painted biblical and mythological scenes with decorative sensual nudes that were new to German painting. These works include many versions of Adam and Eve, The Judgment of Paris (1528, Metropolitan Museum, New York), and Venus and Cupid.

Cranach was a friend of Martin Luther, and his art expresses much of the spirit and feeling of the German Reformation. Cranach ran a large workshop and worked with great speed, producing hundreds of works. He died in Weimar, on October 15, 1553. Cranach’s sons were both artists, but the only one to achieve distinction was Lucas Cranach the Younger, who was his father’s pupil and often his assistant. His oldest son Hans Cranach was a promising artist but died prematurely.

Here are some of his paintings of Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Adam and Eve - 01b - Lucas Cranach the ElderAdam and Eve - 16 - Lucas Cranach the ElderAdam and Eve - 19 - Lucas Cranach the Elder

Adam and Eve - 17 - Lucas Cranach the ElderAdam and Eve - 05Adam and Eve - 18 - Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Other artists who spent time drawing the navels

Out of curiosity, I searched Google for images of ‘Adam and Eve’ by other artists and I was shocked to find that almost all the painters of the renaissance period including Michelangelo drew gracefully and spent time in drawing meticulously the navels of Adam and Eve.

To prove my point I downloaded many pictures and have posted some of them here. Like most of you, I am just a layman who admires the beautiful forms drawn by them.

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The Expulsion - Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone alias Masaccio - c 1425
The fresco painting “The Expulsion” by the Italian Renaissance artist Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone alias Masaccio – c. 1425.

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 Three centuries after the fresco was painted, Cosimo III de’ Medici, in line with contemporary ideas of decorum, ordered that fig leaves be added to conceal the genitals of the figures. These were eventually removed in the 1980s when the painting was fully restored and cleaned.

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Adam and Eve - 12 - Hugo van der Goes c.1470
The Fall of Adam and Eve by the Flemish painter Hugo van der Goes c.1470.

 

Adam and Eve - 03
Adam and Eve by the German painter Albrecht Dürer – 1504

 

Adam and Eve - 20 - Albrecht Dürer - 1507
Adam and Eve by the German painter Albrecht Dürer – 1507

 

Adam and Eve - 04
Adam and Eve by the Flemish painter Jan (Mabuse) Gossaert c 1525.

 

Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam by the Michelangelo c. 1542-45.

 

Adam and Eve in the Garden by Michelangelo
The Fall of Man by Michelangelo c. 1542-45.

 

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then, he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo’s design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.

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Adam and Eve - 21- Frans Floris De Vriendt - c 1547
Adam and Eve by the Flemish painter Frans Floris De Vriendt c. 1547.

 

Adam and Eve - 06
Adam and Eve, c. 1550. I was not able to get the name of the painter who drew this beautiful painting.

 

Adam and Eve - 14 - Hendrik Goltzius
Adam and Eve by the Dutch printmaker, draftsman, and painter Hendrik Goltzius c. 1600.

 

Adam and Eve - 07 - Cornelis Cornelisz Van Haarlem c 1622
Adam and Eve by by the Dutch Golden Age painter and  draftsman Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem c. 1622.

 

Adam and Eve by Domenichino 1623
Adam and Eve by the Italian Baroque painter of the Bolognese School, or Carracci School, of painters Domenico Zampieri (or Domenichino) c. 1623-25.

 

Adam and Eve - 09
The Expulsion Of Adam And Eve From The Garden Of Paradise by the French painter Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889]

 

Adam and Eve - 22 - Hans Thoma (October 2, 1839 – November 7, 1924)
Adam and Eve by the German painter Hans Thoma (October 2, 1839 – November 7, 1924) .

 

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Cooing, Crooning, Bawling and Hollering


Read downwards.

This what you would hear from a couple cooing and crooning behind the bushes. Obviously before marriage:

He:  Yes. I have been waiting all these days for this only.
She: Will you think of leaving me?
He:  No. Never. I will not even dream of it.
She: Do you love me?
He:  Yes. Today and forever.
She: Will you cheat on me?
He:  I would ratherI die.
She: Will you kiss me?
He:  Surely. What a happy instance this would be!
She: Will you scold me?
He:  Never. Don’t ever think of it?
She: Will you hold my hand and walk with me till the end?

Read upwards.
This is the same conversation that we heard afore, But now it has metamorphosed into a conversation after marriage.

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