What was the highlight of your weekend?

1) Pictures found on the Net this weekend:

a) Landscapes:

From the Christian Science Monitor



Clouds form a tropical storm over Havana during dawn over Havana, Cuba, on Friday.


Indonesia’s Mount Bromo volcano spews smoke next to the Mount Semeru volcano (in the background) as seen from Penanjakan mountain outside Pasuruan, in Indonesia’s East Java Province, on Tuesday.

b) Astronomy

The sands of time are running out for the central star of this the Hourglass Nebula. With its nuclear fuel exhausted, this brief, spectacular, closing phase of a sun-like star’s life occurs as its outer layers are ejected and its core becomes a cooling, fading white dwarf. In 1995, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to make a series of images of planetary nebulae, including the one above.


The spiral galaxy NGC 1512 is revealed via wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared. NGC 1512 lies in the southern constellation of Horologium, located 30 million light years from Earth. The galaxy spans 70,000 light years, nearly as much as the Milky Way Galaxy.

2) Athletes in the News 

We really must redefine what handicapped means.  I think being handicapped involves out brain more than our body.

a) Frenchman Philippe Croizon, became the first limbless person to swim the English Channel,  completing 21-mile crossing in under 14 hours.


From Sunday’s Guardian


The 42-year-old’s arms and legs had to be amputated after he suffered an electric shock while removing a television aerial from a roof 16 years ago.

He taught himself to swim in the last two years, and does so using prosthetic legs and a snorkel and mask.

Croizon’s father said his son had been helped by favorable wind conditions and had even had three dolphins swimming alongside at one point, which he said was a “sign of good luck”.

b) Esther Vergeer, of the Netherlands, won the women’s wheelchair US Open Tennis championship on Sunday, defeating  Daniela Di Toro, of Australia, 6-0 6-0.  Esther may be the most dominate athlete in any sport, she has not lost a match since 1999.


From a New York Times article about Ms. Vergeer


“Vergeer, 29, lost the use of her legs when she was 8. She had a risky surgical procedure for a spinal defect; it saved her life but left her paralyzed.

Vergeer went on to excel at basketball and tennis in her wheelchair. But after a few years she had to choose between the sports. She chose tennis so she would not have to rely on teammates who might not have the same killer instinct.

“When I became paralyzed, I wanted to show the world that I was still Esther, and I didn’t want people to see the disability,” she said. “So I was just trying to find something that I would be good at so that people would recognize that instead of the disability.”

Marc Kalkman, the national coach for the wheelchair players in the Royal Dutch Tennis Association, has known Vergeer since she was 12. He advised her to play tennis because it offered more potential for an athlete who was willing to push herself hard to get better.

“Her determination was unbelievable,” Kalkman said. “Her dedication was unbelievable. She was eager to learn from the best. Her mental toughness was already there from a young age.”

Vergeer said she had not decided what to do once her playing days end. She has experimented with other activities, like skiing and fishing, and she and her boyfriend recently bought a boat since she finds the time on the water relaxing. She also has a foundation that helps promote and organize wheelchair sports.

“I just want to improve myself,” she said. “The inner motivation is the best thing that you can have because nobody can touch that. I’m the only one who decides what my drive is, what the limit is and what the ceiling is.”