June 30, 2005

Marlon Brando - Lot 64

Marlon Brando's personal effects on the auction block.  From the Washington Post, Celebrity Yard Sale by Robin Givhan

A walk through the exhibition of actor Marlon Brando's belongings, on display in the main-floor galleries of Christie's auction house, is akin to Dumpster diving. Instead of emerging covered in the stench of last week's dinner, one stinks of tabloid voyeurism, impropriety and mortifying fascination.

Brando died last July at the age of 80, and his furniture, clothing, memorabilia and detritus will be auctioned off today. The grotesque cultural obsession with celebrity has come to this: Lot 64. A man's Gideon Bible, with his own personal scribblings in the book of Revelation, is up for sale. Here is the Good Book in which a man might have found solace from his personal demons; here is an emblem of his spirituality; here is the place where his soul might have found peace. Who will be the highest bidder? Perhaps the lady in the pink tweed suit inspecting the remains with a magnifying glass?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink

Hurrah for James Lileks

Hurrah for James Lileks.  Let's Not Let the Art World Politicize Sept 11 at Ground Zero

Let's make a deal. The internationalist demographic gets the theaters, the movie houses, the art galleries, the schools, the ateliers, the lecture halls; they're free to fill the air with as many Contradictions and Uncomfortable Truths and Provocative Reinterpretations as they like. But would it be too much to ask that whatever is built at Ground Zero simply recalls that horrible day, and honors the dead?

For some, yes. For some, the refusal to politicize an event is a political act.

For some, Sept. 11 has already become something more potent than a day of murder and fear: It has become a metaphor. It is something to be interpreted, filtered, parsed, a box of white bones that need the flesh of explication and context.

For others, for the Franklin Mint demographic, Sept. 11 was the day when a secretary looked out the window and saw the end of her days screaming toward her.

Build a memorial to her. Or build nothing at all.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 PM | Permalink

Nigeria Scammed

Since Nigeria became independent in 1960, its corrupt rulers have stolen some 220 billion English pounds, equivalent to ALL of the western aid given to Africa over the past four decades, and the same as 300 years of British aid to the African continent.

So if your Great Legacy is going to be a philanthropic one, be sure that you know where the money is going.

HT Harry's Place

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2005

Shelby Foote

Linton Weeks writes his appreciation of Shelby Foote who died at 88.

Maybe now the Civil War can finally be over.
He had his own internal conflict. He wanted to be known as a novelist but will forever be remembered as the author of a sweetly written, three-volume narrative history of the Civil War and as a television star because of his bourbon-voiced contributions to Ken Burns's PBS series on the war. His novels were good: His Civil War history was everlasting. 

His voice was extraordinary.

The New York Times describes it as a "drawl so mellifluous that one critic called it "molasses over hominy."

His mission was to tell what he considered America's biggest story as a vast, finely detailed, deeply human narrative. He could focus on broad shifts in strategy or on solitary moments of poignancy, like the tearful but still proud Robert E. Lee picking his way through the ranks of his vanquished army to surrender.

"He made the war real for us," Mr. Burns said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

June 28, 2005

A Soldier They Called "Pipes"

  Funeral Christopher Piper

Army Staff Sgt Christopher Piper, a Green Beret, who was killed in an Afghanistan bombing was laid to rest yesterday in Marblehead, MA. 

This photo of his son also named Christopher Piper doesn't show the Governor and the Senator who were two among the throng of several thousand that turned out to pay their last respects.    It also doesn't show the signs of the hate group from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas saying "Thank God for dead soldiers"  and "Fag body bags"

The Boston Herald reports in Love Trumps Hate in Marblehead
They were surrounded by dozens of uniformed and plainclothes cops and blocked from the public by the Boston Police Department Mounted Unit, which strategically pointed the backs of their horses toward the group.

-----------

Shunning the twisted rhetoric of a Kansas hate group, the town of Marblehead turned out yesterday to honor a fallen Green Beret in an outpouring of sympathy and patriotism not seen in decades in the historic seaside community.

With the thanks of a grateful nation, Requiscat in pace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink

Rural Europe dying

People die and so do cultures when there is no one alive left to pass on traditions.

It looks like rural Europe is dying.  In 25 years, Europe will lose 41 million people even with continued immigration according to the UN.  The countryside will lose a third of its population. 

"It's a triple time bomb," says University of Lisbon demographer Nuno da Costa. "Too few children, too many old people and too many of the remaining young people still leaving the village."

From Into the Woods.  Economics and declining birthrates are pushing large swaths of Europe back to their primeval state, with wolves taking the place of people. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 PM | Permalink

Shocked at his own behavior

Nobody writes obituaries like the English.

William Donaldson, who died on June 22 aged 70, was described by Kenneth Tynan as "an old Wykehamist who ended up as a moderately successful Chelsea pimp", which was true, though he was also a failed theatrical impresario, a crack-smoking serial adulterer and a writer of autobiographical novels; but it was under the nom de plume Henry Root that he became best known.
---
It was claimed that one of his more redeeming features was that while he hated pomposity and hypocrisy in others, he disliked himself even more.
This might have been so, had he not enjoyed hating himself so much: "The salient features about me are laziness, self-indulgence and sex addiction," he confessed, in his characteristic melancholy drawl. "I'm genuinely shocked by my own behaviour."

via Andrew Stuffaford, who, English himself, says it's "cracking" and "marvelous."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

June 27, 2005

Helen Keller

Born on June 27, 1880, soon to become deaf and blind, Helen Keller became a role model for millions.  Today is her 125th birthday and the American Foundation for the Blind is celebrating the life and legacy of this remarkable woman. 

No Pasaran has gathered some Keller quotes that begin to show why this woman is and was so universally admired and so many of her life lessons taken to heart.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.

As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.

Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.

When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

Blogging and Rediscovery

What a writer the Doctor is

How many gifts do we have, buried under a hardened armor, awaiting the gracious trauma of a shattered shell?

I've written a lot about business blogging and how businesses are changing everything.  What I haven't written enough about is how blogging is the way we are recording our experiences and our thoughts here and now for ourselves but also in a form that will last for generations yet to come.  What journals and letters were to the pioneers, blogs are to those who are colonizing cyberspace and marking their journeys.

Blogging is the way we find out what we think, what we value, who we are.   

The Doctor writes about
his year blogging .

I have always been a man of few words, preferring the quick quip to the thoughtful response–the right words always coming hours or days after the exchange. But writing: aahhh, there is a way to express your heart, to pour out your soul. The beauty of words, sometimes carefully chosen, sometimes flowing effortlessly from a source unseen, pounding out their rhythm and cadence, sometimes soft, sometimes stirring. Like music, they penetrate the spirit with power, deep speaking to deep.

I have learned to love great writers, and love to learn from them, in my own stumbling steps to imitate and emulate. And the web! Who could have imagined that a medium so poorly suited to reading–reading a book on computer an unimaginable chore–could prove so ideal for the comment, the essay, the quiet reflection, the fiery retort?  Fascinating to see this medium evolve in ways never imagined–fascinating even more so to watch society, culture, country, and world change as a result. It is not the medium which transforms the world, but the voices of those rarely heard before.
---
I am grateful to have this vehicle for catharsis, to formulate and organize thoughts otherwise scattered and incomplete.


Some time ago, I posted about Dr. Bob's remarkable essay, Dancing with Death, but then lost track of him.  I happily rediscovered Dr. Bob after reading Gerard Vanderleun's post on Let Us Know Praise Remarkable Bloggers.

Rediscovery is what you will find yourself doing if you keep a blog.
You'll rediscover what you thought last year and, in time, your family will rediscover a lot more about you.

If you don't want to publish your thoughts for  the whole word, consider a family blog that's password-protected or a private blog just for you.  The process of writing what you think, feel and believe, what you've seen, done and experienced will force you to be more reflective.  You'll think more deeply about what really matters and that will be a gift to you,  to your family and to the future.

Richard Lawrence Cohen
writes

Blogging is the best training in awareness of evanescence. I work on every post with as much sincerity as I would put into the same number of words in a novel. And there it goes.
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I have my archive, though. That’s my last resistance. I rarely enter my archive, but if it were lost I’d be heartbroken.

My hope is that one of my biological descendants will discover it and be inspired. It will help him or her do something really good, something that will really last. This great–grandchild will look back and send me a message of thanks.

Or there will be scholars who study the blogging phenomenon of the early twenty–first century. They may not even be human -- they may be artificial intelligences. Somehow they will hit upon my archive and include it among their sources, helping them learn what life here was like. So while I will never be widely known, I will always be known to about six readers.

This is my hope of resurrection

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2005

Alex and Afleet Alex

How much can a young girl with cancer have in common with a champion racehorse? 

Read this wonderful story about
Two Heroes named Alex

This is a story about a girl and a horse—two remarkable individuals who share the same name and a mystical connection that has inspired millions of people. 

Two days before her first birthday, Alexandra (“Alex”) Scott was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood cancer. Enduring chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, the little girl displayed courage and a positive outlook, captivating everyone around her. That alone would be an inspiring story. But that was not all that happened.

Enter the race horse.

Afleet Alex is a miracle. “He has kept his dying breeder alive,” wrote turf columnist Steve Haskin. “He has kept the mission and memory of a courageous young girl alive. He has kept the hopes of hundreds of seriously ill children alive. He has kept the great American dream of his workaday owners alive. And he kept himself and his jockey alive with one of the most remarkable feats of agility ever seen in any sport.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink

Crematorium in Israel

In the past 20 years, the practice of cremation has increased dramatically in the US.

In Israel, cremation is prohibited by Jewish law, so it was news when the first crematorium, called "Leaves of Fall" was installed in Israel

Crematorium in Israel

This serious breach is liable to undermine the belief in the eternity of the soul and the concept of kovod hameis, which have been firmly entrenched in the Jewish people since time immemorial and manifested in instances of great mesirus nefesh to recover and transport Jewish corpses under extreme conditions in order to provide a proper burial. One reporter wrote, "Despite the explanations I could not avoid the unpleasant associations [from the Holocaust period] at the sight of the flame blazing inside the furnace. It was not easy to watch the process."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

June 22, 2005

Death in Bath

The BBC's story about the Seventh Annual Great Obituary Writers' Conference is called Death in Bath, or a meeting to die for.

Of course, nothing will beat last year's conference when Tim Bullamore  was in the midst of extolling the glories of Bath, site of this year's conference, when the news came that President Reagan had died.  His presentation was ruined as the audience reacted to the news with surprise, confusion and uproar, so the hapless man grabbed the microphone and bellowed, "Reagan's dead and he'll be deader.  Let's go on with the show."  But I digress.

This year there was general agreement that obituaries are short stories with death the incident that shapes them.

To Dr Cory Franklin from America, a great collector rather than writer, of obits, it is the life-changing details of lives that he finds fascinating.  He quoted two recent examples. John Frankenheimer, the man who directed such Hollywood films as The Manchurian Candidate and The Birdman of Alcatraz, was the man who drove Bobby Kennedy to the hotel in Los Angeles in which he was shot dead.  As a result, Frankenheimer was plunged into a depression which he never got over, his career ruined.

Always more about life than death,  the obituary will reshape and reform with blogs, video and audio offering greater opportunities to tell everyone's life story. 

Why not tell it your story your way?  You may have many stories at different stages of your life that if you don't write down in some fashion, you will come to find that you forget them.  Maybe, this is the time to start writing down the stories of your parents before they die.

You can be creative as you want with the abundance of digital tools available now.  You'll probably discover patterns in your life you never realized, maybe even a deeper meaning and purpose when you start to think about what really matters

It's your life, you're the expert on your life and your Legacy Matters. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

June 21, 2005

Terri's Tombstone

  Schiavo Grave-2

Michael Schiavo says, "I kept my promise" on the tombstone he erected for his wife Terri without notifying her parents.

I haven't opined on the Schiavo autopsy because I found nothing surprising in it.  She was brain-damaged, but that we knew.  We don't know what caused her initial collapse and probably never will.
She essentially died of thirst because a Florida court refused to allow any further feeding by tube or liquids to a profoundly disabled woman.

The autopsy did not answer the moral question of what to do when a person has left no clear directions.  Who decides who must die and what are the criteria?

The moral question becomes more troubling when a persistently vegetative person may be "minimally conscious", a new state endorsed by the Journal of Neurology, when in fact there is more "there" there than we recognized. 

Joan Didion has done the most complete and fair-handed summary
in The Case of Theresa Schiavo with troubling questions for everyone on every side of this awful case.

What I find bizarre is the engraving on the tombstone.
"Departed from this earth, February 25, 1990," the date of her initial collapse.  The date of her death is "At Peace, March 25, 2005"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 PM | Permalink

But his turtles survived

Alas, political commentary is entering obituaries. 

"Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled."

Clearly this is a family written obituary because who else would list his surviving turtles, Heidie, Skinhead and Studley.  What this family never realized is how small and silly this makes the deceased seem.

The Anchoress in Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other guy to die quotes Will Smith '"...hate in your heart will consume you too."

Michelle Malkin says,  "Some people just can't seem to Move On ...even after they've moved on."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:48 PM | Permalink

Personalizing Funerals

An interesting article on the BBC on personalizing funerals
where I learned that one firm of glassblowers in London have produced an egg timer using a gentlemen's cremated remain!

What a way to remember that time's passing and life is brief.

Coffins are becoming a popular medium for expression. A coffin made from cardboard indicates one's environmental concern and there is an expanding market for these, for both burial and cremation. The surface lends itself to decoration with painting, collage or signatures that can impart a truly individual style.
Wooden coffins are sometimes painted, for example, in the colours of a football club. Coffins can also be shaped like boats, cars and planes or other items reminiscent of a person's lifestyle, occupation or hobby.
More conventional personalising can be achieved by presenting an eulogy, readings or playing music. Many crematoria (as well as churches) have an organ, and they also increasingly have facilities for playing tapes and CDs. There's even a top ten chart of favourite tunes chosen for services at crematoria.
Musicians can play during a service, at the graveside or at the gathering. Scottish pipers, New Orleans-style jazz bands and string quartets quite often perform at funerals.
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Horsedrawn hearses, many of them beautifully restored antiques, offer an impressive and charming way of personalising a funeral that's enjoying a significant revival.
Or if the deceased was a motorcycle enthusiast, you can have a motorcycle and side-car hearse.

Motorcycle funerals promise a dignified final ride and slow, fast and very fast funerals.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:02 PM | Permalink

June 20, 2005

The stuff of life is not stuff

Evelyn Rodriguez, one of my very favorite bloggers and a fabulous writer, in a post about her father says in a line I will never forget

"The stuff of life is not stuff."

The stuff of life is not stuff. Not the bigger house or the BMW or closing the next sales commission or jetting to the next overseas meeting. The stuff of life is in the precise unfolding moments with the people in front of you and the relationships themselves - the family that will play in that house or the son who will drive the car, the customer you'll share a drink with at the pub, or the taxi driver taking you to the convention in London. It's Father's Day.

I'm not saying to quit your job and run off to Varadero Beach. I'm saying don't postpone joy until the perfect fill-in-the blank - it's there right in front of you in every moment wherever whatever you are doing. If you wait to live, as Thoreau points out, the risk is that fire in you has long been snuffed out - unaccustomed to joy and thus unable to enjoy the fruits of your efforts - by the time you get there.

Don't postpone joy, it's right there in front of you.  Wise words from a wise woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

June 19, 2005

Remembering Good Fathers

Long a Jewish custom, ethical wills can be traced back to Jacob, Moses and Solomon.  In 1950 and 1951 Samuel Lipsitz wrote to his family one day on sheets of business paper, little knowing how treasured it would become by my friends Betty and Ernie Singer.    Every Father's day becomes an occasion to reread the letter and reflect on the memory of a good father who didn't depend on the wind, but wrote down what was important for his children to remember.

Dear children,

Somewhere among these papers is a will made out by a lawyer.  Its purpose is to dispose of any material things which I may possess at the time of my departure from this world to the unknown adventure beyond.

I hope its terms will cause no ill will among you.  It seemed sensible when I made it.  After all, it refers only to material things which we enjoy only temporarily.

I am more concerned with having you inherit something that is vastly more important.

There must be a purpose in the creation of man.  Because I believe that (as I hope you will some day, for without it life becomes meaningless), I hope you live right.

Live together in harmony!  Carry no ill will toward each other.  Bethink of the family.  Help each other in case of need.  Honor and care for your mother.  Make her old age happy, as far as in your power.  She deserves these things from you.  It was your mother, who always reproached me that I was not concerned enough about my children.  She always insisted that we give them more.  She would never visit a grandchild without a gift.  I often felt she was too devoted a mother.  Prove she was wise by being worthy of her devotion.

Carry your Jewish heritage with dignity.  Though you may discard trivial ritual things, never discard your basic Jewish faith.  You can not live out your years happily without it......

A woman once said to me, "Why should I write anything down.  I  tell my children that I love them when I'm alive".

I'm glad if her children grow up secure in her love even after she's gone, but they will be incomparably poorer than the Singers because their mother didn't take the time to think deeply about what she believed was important and to write down what she wanted them to remember.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:13 PM | Permalink

June 18, 2005

His and Her Brains

Sandra Witelson had the largest collection of brains in the world, some 120 of them, all donations from terminal cancer patients who also gave her a detailed profile.

She measured her brains.
She weighed them.
She cut them up and counted the cells.
She traced synapses, the junctures where impulses pass from one neuron to another in the hidden root cellars of the brain.
Wherever she looked, she discerned subtle patterns that only gender seemed to explain.

"We actually didn't set out to find sex differences," she said. "Sometimes as a scientist, you are doing one thing and you bump into something else."

Her findings — published in Science, the 
New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet and other peer-reviewed journals — buttress the proposition that basic mental differences between men and women stem in part from physical differences in the brain.

Witelson is convinced that gender shapes the anatomy of male and female brains in separate but equal ways beginning at birth.
On average, she said, the brains of women and men are neither better nor worse, but they are measurably different.

Deep Dark Secrets of His and Her Brains.

She was able to do her research only because people at the door of death wanted to do one more thing with their lives that would stretch into the future and benefit countless unknown people.

HT AmbivaBlog, You Think Like A Girl.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

Naked Conversation and Interview

Transparency is one of the things I love most about blogs.  You learn about the writer, what he or she cares about, whether they correct mistakes, how they respond to feedback, those little things which are everything when it comes to building trust.

Shel Israel  is one of those people I've come to trust without ever having met him, simply through his blog and emails.  Since I'm going to the  the Blogher conference at the end of July, I'm looking forward to meeting both him and Scobel, who will be attending and easy to spot in a room full of  women.

I first came across the Red Couch, now named Naked Conversations, when he and Robert Scobel posted chapter one, Blog or Die, in their new book, now title Naked Conversations, how blogs are changing the way businesses talk to customers.    The book itself is being posted chapter by chapter online for feedback in a remarkably transparent, real time experiment in publishing with each chapter only whetting my appetite for the whole thing.  Feedback, conversation and promotion all at the same time.  There you go, another reason for blogs.

I was pleased, honored and delighted to take part in an interview for the book when Shel contacted me.  I'm even more honored  and pleased that he's posted the interview even though it's not going to fit in the planned structure of the book. 

You will learn a lot more about me and what I'm doing and what I think about blogs, if you read the  Interview: Jill Fallon.    If you get the sense that I'd rather talk about other people than myself, you're right, so that's why you should read the interview.

cross-posted at Legacy Matters, Business of Life and Estate Legacy Vaults.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:56 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2005

Life's Change Agent

I wouldn't have read Steve Jobs' commencement speech to the graduating class at Stanford were it not for Divedi a commenter who pointed me to it.

My third story is about death. When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important thing I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctors' code for "prepare to die." It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next ten years to tell them, in just a few months. It means to make sure that everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope, the doctor started crying, because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and, thankfully, I am fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept. No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don't want to die to get there, and yet,
death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


It's a great speech, the best commencement speech I think I've heard or read.    I expect that most of the graduates will never forget it.  Such important advice is rarely given, after all how often do people tell you Remember You Will Die?    These days when death seems more like a medical failure than a natural and essential part of life, this can be a SHOCKING breach of etiquette.    Death has become what sex used to be, something embarrassing, something you don't talk about, something you deny.

The physic cost of denial is HUGE.  It means you don't know what's really valuable and important in your life.  It means you're not taking responsibility to see that those who depend on you are taken care of the way they should be.    It means you suffer under the weight of great blinders that are robbing you from the richness and abundance and beauty of life.  It means you are not the author of your life, deciding how to live it.  Instead you see through a glass darkly. 

Accepting the fact of your own mortality, that you could die at any moment, changes your whole life.  It means you're grown-up. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

James Joyce

June 16 is Bloomsbury Day. 

James Joyce:, I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.

Sheila O Malley has gone all out and you don't want to miss it. 

My favorite:

Nora Joyce (Joyce's wife) - after Joyce's death - was asked about which new writers she read. Here is what she said:

"Sure, if you've been married to the greatest writer in the world, you don't remember all the little fellows."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2005

Black Hands with a White Heart

   Hamilton Naki
His name is Hamilton Naki and his Legacy is indeed Great. 

An unrecognized surgical pioneer who died on May 28, Naki  is celebrated in The Economist where his remarkable story is told.

ON DECEMBER 3rd, 1967, the body of a young woman was brought to Hamilton Naki for dissection. She had been knocked down by a car as she went to buy a cake on a street in Cape Town, in South Africa. Her head injuries were so severe that she had been pronounced brain-dead at the hospital, but her heart, uninjured, had gone on furiously pumping.

Mr Naki was not meant to touch this body. The young woman, Denise Darvall, was white, and he was black. The rules of the hospital, and indeed the apartheid laws of the land, forbade him to enter a white operating theatre, cut white flesh, or have dealings with white blood. For Mr Naki, however, the Groote Schuur hospital had made a secret exception.
This black man, with his steady, dexterous hands and razor-sharp mind, was simply too good at the delicate, bloody work of organ transplantation. The chief transplant surgeon, the young, handsome, famously temperamental Christiaan Barnard, had asked to have him on his team. So the hospital had agreed, saying, as Mr Naki remembered, “Look, we are allowing you to do this, but you must know that you are black and that's the blood of the white. Nobody must know what you are doing.”

Nobody, indeed, knew. On that December day, in one part of the operating suite, Barnard in a blaze of publicity prepared Louis Washkansky, the world's first recipient of a transplanted human heart. Fifteen metres away, behind a glass panel, Mr Naki's skilled black hands plucked the white heart from the white corpse and, for hours, hosed every trace of blood from it, replacing it with Washkansky's. The heart, set pumping again with electrodes, was passed to the other side of the screen, and Mr Barnard became, overnight, the most celebrated doctor in the world.

In some of the post-operation photographs Mr Naki inadvertently appeared, smiling broadly in his white coat, at Barnard's side. He was a cleaner, the hospital explained, or a gardener. Hospital records listed him that way, though his pay, a few hundred dollars a month, was actually that of a senior lab technician. It was the most they could give, officials later explained, to someone who had no diploma.
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Stealing with his eyes
The lab was busy, with constant transplant operations on pigs and dogs to train doctors, eventually, for work on humans.
Mr Naki never learned the techniques formally; as he put it, “I stole with my eyes”. But he became an expert at liver transplants, far trickier than heart transplants, and was soon teaching others. Over 40 years he instructed several thousand trainee surgeons, several of whom moved on to become heads of departments. Barnard admitted—though not until 2001, just before he died—that Mr Naki was probably technically better than he was, and certainly defter at stitching up afterwards.

Unsung, though not unappreciated, Mr Naki continued to work at the Medical School until 1991. When he retired, he drew a gardener's pension: 760 rand, or about $275, a month. He exploited his medical contacts to raise funds for a rural school and a mobile clinic in the Eastern Cape, but never thought of money for himself. As a result, he could pay for only one of his five children to stay to the end of high school. Recognition, with the National Order of Mapungubwe and an honorary degree in medicine from the University of Cape Town, came only a few years before his death, and long after South Africa's return to black rule.

He was a man of purpose so his ego didn't matter.  He was never bitter at not receiving the money and recognition he clearly earned.  What a man.  What a legacy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 PM | Permalink

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

First Deep Throat, now Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  Secrets revealed.

I know, I know, you thought Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was really a cryptic reference to LSD.  I bet you also spent a lot of time playing Revolution 9 backwards trying to decipher the words and the clues that maybe Paul was dead.

Turns out Lucy was a real girl who grew up to be a real woman who died last week of breast cancer.

Lucy Richardson was a school mate of John Lennon's son Julian and often called to sit with him when he was feeling homesick and unsettled.  Julian drew a picture of her, drew stars in the sky and called it Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  So that's  what his father, John Lennon, came to call her.

As Lucy grew up, contact with the Beatles was lost.

She went on to work her way up in the film industry, becoming an art director on films such as Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush, Chocolat and last year's The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.

Lucy, who never married, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and endured a lumpectomy and gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  Last December she was told the cancer was back, and had spread to her bones.  She died on June 1 and was buried in Weybridg.

Her family sprinkled crystals on her grave to symbolise the diamonds of the song she inspired.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 PM | Permalink

Flying Angels

How the soldiers in the field pay respect to Flying Angels.  An email from Iraq via Hugh Hewitt.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2005

Beautiful painting

A Great Legacy comes to light. 

The painting that hanged unremarked for many years at the Cervantes Institute in Spain has been authenticated "without any possible doubt" as the work of the French painter Georges de La Tour  by the Prado Museum in Madrid.

                St Jerome

The painting is called "St. Jerome reading a letter." 

St. Jerome is a Doctor of the Church,  a lawyer who converted and became a monk in the desert before returning to Rome to become Secretary to Pope Damasus.  His principal life work over 30 years was the translation of the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew and Greek, called the "Vulgate" translation which is still in use by the Catholic Church today.  He died in 419 A.D.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 PM | Permalink

Jewish graves desecrated

Vandals wrecked 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester, U.K. 

A historic Jewish cemetery in Manchester has been desecrated by vandals who smashed 100 gravestones in a "sickening" act of anti-Semitism.
MPs called for the police to bring the "thugs" to justice after graves were broken, thrown on top of each other and pushed over, in an orchestrated "racist" attack.
The cemetery desecration is the 115th since 1990 and highlights a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain over the past five years. There were 532 anti-Semitic incidents last year, the highest since records began 20 years ago.
Staff at Rainsough Jewish Cemetery in Prestwich, where Holocaust survivors are believed to be buried, were shocked to find yesterday morning that an entire section of the cemetery had been destroyed.

Again I say such desecration is barbaric and beyond the pale

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

Blood Money

Rarely talked about, "blood money" is not an uncommon response to insurance money received after the death of a loved one.  Some won't ever spend it, others give it away, still others, like Kathy Trant, spend it foolishly.

When her husband died in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, relatives, friends and strangers opened their hearts and their wallets to Kathy Trant, donating millions of dollars to Trant and her three children.
The money was meant to compensate for the income Dan Trant would have used to support his family for years to come. But to Trant it represented blood money, money that couldn't make up for what she had lost.
-----
"It's blood money that I don't want," Trant said. "I want my husband back."
____

"The issue of survival guilt is a big one," said April Lane Benson, psychologist and author of the book "I Shop Therefore I Am." "People who lost someone on 9/11 feel a total lack of control for a long period of time. That's why they say, 'I might as well blow everything I have. I could be the next one to go.'"

-

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2005

Near Death Experiences

Researchers are beginning to probe more deeply into NDE (near death experiences.)

Van Lommel is a cardiologist in the Netherlands who led a 13-year study of the NDE phenomena. The results were published in 2001 in the British medical journal Lancet.
"NDE is not a rare phenomenon," said van Lommel in an e-mail interview. Yet NDEs are, to many physicians, "an inexplicable phenomenon and hence an ignored result of survival in a critical medical situation."
"Physicians must be open and must take the time to listen to patients without prejudice."
------------
Van Lommel noted that the effects of NDEs on patients "seem similar worldwide, across all cultures."
------------
Researchers were struck, van Lommel said, by how the NDE patients had been transformed.
Nearly all had no fear of death, believed in an afterlife, and strongly believed that what was truly important in life was "love and compassion for oneself, for others and for nature."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2005

When a Blogger Dies

When a blogger dies, he leaves behind a void in the blogosphere and many blog friends as well as a grieving family. 

I never read Bunker Mulligan but many did.

From Rishon-Rishon

It's hard for me to express my sadness and shock at the news of Bunker's death. It was past midnight last night when I visited his blog and found out. I wanted to respond immediately, but was too confused and overcome with emotion to do so. Never have I felt more strongly the adage that you don't know what you have till it's gone.

I visited Bunker's blog almost every day for more than a year, and he visited mine. We almost never communicated directly, even by email or comment. Yet we linked to each other, and inspired each other - at least he me. Though I know from my statistics that I have quite a few readers, I don't get feedback from many, and on certain topics that I consider some of the most important, I get even less. Bunker was one of the few who seemed to get the message.

For all that, the medium of the Internet is so incorporeal that my cyber-relationships have a dreamlike quality to them. I don't fully believe that they are real. Last night, when I learned of Bunker's death, I was reminded that they are. I will miss him.

The
Good-bye from Bunker Mulligan's blog

It is with a very heavy heart that we tell you that on the morning of 3 June 2005 Bunker passed away from a heart attack. Obviously, this sudden, unexpected event has had a tremendously tragic effect on all of us. But being the kind of selfless man that dad was, he would probably tell us not to make too much of an issue about it.

He was a loving son, father, and grandfather. He has set a high standard for us all to emulate, and there is no doubt in our eyes that God blessed us with the greatest dad anyone could ever have asked for, who was called home too soon. God has called back a great man, but dad will now get to play scratch golf for eternity.

He made many friends from this site, and he spoke of you often. We all greatly appreciate your contributions to his hobby, and especially his friendship. As he was fond of stimulating intellectual development, he enjoyed having the many diverse opinions that flowed across these pages.

Some of the comments to goodbye.

"I never met him, or spoke with him, except by email, yet I consider him a friend and mentor."

"I’ll miss him and reading what he had to say about things great and small."

"I’m glad that I had the chance to ‘meet’ Mike through blogging, and regret that I never met him personally."

I can’t even write anything yet, but I just wanted to ask that you please not take down this website. I’d appreciate it if you guys could leave it up so we could still come here and feel Bunker’s presence a little. That would mean a lot to me"

"I am very grateful to have “known” Bunker through his website; he was a true American and a very good man."…

"He will be missed by his faithful readers."

His family responds

So many people have responded both personally and over the blog in reference to Bunker’s passing that we, as his family, are overwhelmed and extremely grateful to everyone for all of your kindness, love, and respect for dad.

He was laid to rest on Friday at the Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.  Rest in peace Michael James Reed.

Deep condolences to his family and to his blog friends and readers.

Fortunately, his family was able to post the sad news on Bunker's blog.  Would your family be able to do the same?  How else would his blog friends learn?  Time to scribble a note to your Executor or to friend and leave it in your "Just in Case" file.  I've written a post on Digital Assets and a Letter to Your Executor which if you haven't read, you should.  Think about how grateful your family will be to hear from so many blog friends.  It's part of your legacy and Legacy Matters.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:58 PM | Permalink

Chips Not Ashes

How did this happen? Chips Found in Place of Woman's Ashes

Two daughters have sued a synagogue after they found a potato chip can in place of their mother's remains behind the locked, glass door of her niche in a mausoleum.

When the women visited Vivian Shulman Lieberman's niche in a Houston mausoleum a year ago, they found the cedar chest containing her ashes missing and a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips in its place.

The ashes are still missing, said Philip Hilder, an attorney for Lieberman's two daughters.
----
In July 2003, Marcelle Lieberman visited the niche. Harriet Mellow visited that fall.

They said they returned to the mausoleum together on their father's birthday, June 10, 2004, and discovered the potato chip can in their mother's niche.

A locksmith opened the niche and Houston police took custody of the can, which still contained potato chips.

"To their added horror," the lawsuit states, "Harriet and Marcelle learned that the can had been visible in the niche for at least six months."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:06 PM | Permalink

June 10, 2005

Scene from Your Life

What would a scene from your life look like? 

Why not carry a camera around with you the next few days and take shots of the ordinary things that capture you somehow in your home, neighborhood, city and town?

Then choose the photos you want to save and write a short description or story or reaction to the scene.

Want some examples?  Here from Toronto, London, Cincinnati, Osaka, Vienna, Brooklyn, Nova Scotia and more - all at Scene from My Life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:26 PM | Permalink

A bit of a runner

She refused to be slaughtered like the others.    She fought against death, regained her freedom in a "daring James Bond-style escape", swam to a small island and survived for weeks on daffodils.

Her Welsh name is Myfanwy - hard to pronounce unless you're Welsh, hard to forget when you think of her courage and spirit.

Myfanwy, is a ewe, a female sheep who refused to go along with the other sheep, has now been adopted as the farm pet, safe from the slaughterhouse.  Daring Escape

According to the BBC, her farmer Philip Robinson said,

"You get to know the problem sheep but she had not shown herself before. We decided to give her a reprieve - she's like a pet now, out in the field with the rams but you can't really get near her.

"She's a bit lively and a bit of a runner!"

I'll say.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 AM | Permalink

June 8, 2005

Disgrace at Ground Zero

What is God's good name is going on at Ground Zero?  This site of the greatest terror attack ever on America that changed our lives forever where extraordinary heroic actions by NYC firemen saved thousands of lives is about to become the home of the International Freedom Center.

Debra Burlingame calls it the Great Ground Zero Heist in the Wall Street's OpinionJournal.com (free but registration required.  It's worth it)

The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond. This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona.

The public will be confused at first, and then feel hoodwinked and betrayed. Where, they will ask, do we go to see the September 11 Memorial? The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation will have erected a building whose only connection to September 11 is a strained, intellectual one. While the IFC is getting 300,000 square feet of space to teach us how to think about liberty, the actual Memorial Center on the opposite corner of the site will get a meager 50,000 square feet to exhibit its 9/11 artifacts, all out of sight and underground. Most of the cherished objects which were salvaged from Ground Zero in those first traumatic months will never return to the site. There is simply no room. But the International Freedom Center will have ample space to present us with exhibits about Chinese dissidents and Chilean refugees. These are important subjects, but for somewhere--anywhere--else, not the site of the worst attack on American soil in the history of the republic.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:52 PM | Permalink

Pietas, a noble virtue

Today, I learned about Pietas, an ancient Roman virtue that teaches us reverence and gratitude for those on whose shoulders we stand from George Weigel.

Weigel, the biographer of Pope John Paul 11, writes "Is Europe Dying?"

By the  middle of  this century, if present fertility  patterns  continue,  60  percent  of  the Italian  people  will  have  no  personal  experience  of  a brother, a  sister, an  aunt,  an  uncle,  or  a  cousin;[1] Germany will  lose the  equivalent of  the population of the former East  Germany; and Spain's population will decline by almost one-quarter.  Europe is depopulating itself at a rate unseen since  the Black  Death of the fourteenth century

He calls it a crisis of civilizational morale for lack of pietas.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 PM | Permalink

Mrs Robinson

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Simon and Garfunkel

Anne Bancroft,  the ultimate Sexy Older Woman after playing Mrs Robinson in The Graduate died yesterday of uterine cancer at age 73.

She was every young and old man's dream of a middle-aged seductress.  The AP obit quotes her, "Film critics said I gave a voice to the fear we all have: that we'll reach a certain point in our lives, look around and realize that all the things we said we'd do and become will never come to be and that we're ordinary."

Arthur Penn, who directed her award winning performances on Broadway is quoted in the NYT obituary as saying,  "More happens in her face in 10 seconds that happens in most women's faces in 10 years."

She played the half-blind teacher Annie Sullivan to Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, her greatest acting triumph for which she won both a Tony and an Oscar.    The moment when she breaks through to the young blind and deaf girl with the meaning of water is one of the most thrilling moments I've ever seen in a movie.

  Ann Bancroft

The lights on Broadway will be dimmed tonight in her honor

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2005

Her Story

There are some fine examples of personal Legacy Archives at the Library of Congress. Pages from Her Story.

          Her Story

Ordinary women writing about their personal lives give us unforgettable snapshots of nine different times in our country's history.

Take this 15 year old Puritan girl

December 5, 1675.....I am fifteen years old to-day, and while sitting with my stitchery in my hand, there came a man in all wet with the salt spray, he having just landed by the boat from Sandwich, which had much ado to land by reason of the surf. I myself had been down to the shore and saw the great waves breaking, and the high tide running up as far as the hillocks of dead grass. The man George, an Indian, brings word of much sickness in Boston, and great trouble with the Quakers and Baptists; that many of the children throughout the country be not baptized, and without that religion comes to nothing. My mother hath bid me this day put on a fresh kirtle and wimple, though it be not the Lord's day, and my Aunt Alice coming in did chide me and say that to pay attention to a birthday was putting myself with the world's people. It happens from this that my kirtle and wimple are not longer pleasing to me, and what with this and the bad news from Boston my birthday has ended in sorrow.

Or Kate Dunlap, a  young wife traveling overland to Montana by horse team. 

May 15, 1864…The first emigrants saw hard times on account of bad roads, no grass and the great scarsity of hay. In the afternoon we drove on to Lewis, hoping to get hay but could not get any except we would put up bag and baggage at a hotel. We stopped at the Henderson House . I was relieved from cooking, it being the first time I had eaten at a table for two weeks...

May 18th …We arrived at Council Bluffs about 9 o'clock and the boys about 12 o'clock. We cant get across the river for several days. Hundreds of teams are waiting their turn, and frequently fights and confusion ensue. A sad accident happened to day. A little girl was josteled out of the wagon as it drove on to the ferry boat. was run over and killed. They had started from this place; They returned to bury their child.

Or Marianna Costa who organized textile workers, 1933.

...I didn't understand when the girls in the department I was in said, "We're going to go out." The chanting outside of the window, that's my first recollection. There was chanting outside of our work windows, and a big group of people. I guess they initially started by the Wideman plant. . . . and in Riverside you start in one place and you go down [and] you weave in and out. It's all dye plants. So that if you made your run you would call these people out and they would join in that line. And they'd go to the next plant and there was a bigger line. And the line kept getting bigger and bigger. The crowd instead of being one hundred was two hundred. Two hundred would get three hundred. By the time they got to our plant half the street was just a crowd of people. And they'd say, "Come on out. Join us. We're going to strike...


We are all witnesses to history and what we write about lives today can enrich and enlighten readers in the distant future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:43 PM | Permalink

Home Funerals

Death is a profound, mysterious and an all together natural event. 

Yet, unlike any other time in history, few people today have ever seen a dead body. 

For the most part, dying has been institutionalized in hospitals and after death care institutionalized in funeral homes.  Will home funerals provide an alternative to the latter as the hospice movement has done for the former? 

Movement to Bring Grief Back Home

His body, washed and dressed in his favorite clothes, lay in the master bedroom, cooled by dry ice and open windows, and surrounded by fresh flowers, burning candles, family photographs and mementos of his many years as a lawyer, civil servant and father of four. Like a small number of other bereaved in the Washington area and nationally, Judy Saul chose to care for her husband's body for several days at home.

Once the hospice nurse who came to certify the death had convinced the D.C. coroner's office that keeping the deceased at home was legal -- as it is in the District and all but five states (Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Nebraska and New York) -- Saul and a friend, Sally Craig, had prepared her husband's body with the assistance of Beth Knox, a "funeral rites" educator whom Saul had met two months before....

.....After three days of grieving, she felt ready to part with her husband's body. "To have him home, you really know the person isn't there anymore. That is the whole point, so that you get used to the idea. By the third night, I'm ready to see him go."

This kind of after-death care, its advocates say, offers a more humane and healing alternative to the standard American practice of handing the body over to a mortician for embalming and display before cremation or burial.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2005

The mum who died of fear

The legacy here is a shameful one.  Not for the mum who died of fear but of Essex social services who put the fear in her.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 PM | Permalink

Royal Blogger

The former King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, blogs with gusto.

Today at 82, he is Cambodia's lion in winter, cancer-stricken and undergoing treatment in China, his former place of exile where he still has a home. Yet he's as sharp-tongued and loquacious as ever. The man who grew up on cowboy movies has taken to the Internet with equal gusto.

He communicates with the world, dispelling rumors that he's gone to the next.

He recently blogged that his cancer has re-emerged from remission, but upon learning that a magazine was preparing his obituary, he told his readers: "Even today, Friday the 13th, I am not yet aware of my death. Maybe I am already dead. But I will continue to believe that I am alive."

via Ann Althouse

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:52 PM | Permalink

Honor Answering Honor

From Irish Elk, "Appomattox" - The Passing of the Armies.  I was so struck by this, I read it three times, each time more slowly.

On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!

What a powerful, honorable surrender.  Unless you have some contact with the military, you can not imagine the deep thrilling beauty of a perfectly marked moment, grave and solemn.

They were men of honor in those days.  If only in these bitter, partisan days  our politicians on both sides of the political and cultural divide could rise to the level of One Union.

I fear that such a rise to a higher level will not happen until a terrible tragedy happens.  The most likely will be an avian flu pandemic in the next year or two.  We are living On Borrowed Time.  And when that time comes, there will be no time for beautiful rituals.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 AM | Permalink

June 1, 2005

1000 bars

Everyone has their life purpose.   

Dan Freeman, aka the Barman, had a dream.  Some would say an impossible one.

Until he retired, it was just a dream.  Now, he's making it come true.

1000 bars in 1 year in New York City.

The rules are strict: no driving, only the subway or a bus, drink only at a bar, and only one drink.

With passion and flair, he's documenting his dream in A thousand bars.   

A hundred years from now, people will marvel at this personal social history of that great city.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 PM | Permalink

Widow can't use husband's sperm

In Australia, a widow can not impregnate herself with her dead husband's sperm without his written consent.

The 36-year-old woman had been married to her husband for more than eight years when he was killed in a car accident in July 1998.

Within 24 hours of his death, the woman, who can only be identified as AB, received permission from the Victorian Supreme Court - and the consent of the dead man's parents - to have his sperm taken and stored at a Melbourne hospital.

But yesterday, Justice Hargrave said the law did not allow the taking of sperm or ova from the dead for the purpose of reproduction if the person had not consented in writing to the procedure before their death.


In this case, the man, who was 29 when he died, had not given written consent for the posthumous removal and use of his sperm

Widow can't use husband's sperm

Yet another thing for young couples to think about before they visit their lawyer to make their wills.    Probably a good idea for American couples as well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:01 PM | Permalink