June 30, 2006

Bringing the dead to life

The BBC reports on the annual international conference of obituary writers in Bringing the dead to life.

The event has grown over the years and this year 45 writers from the US and Europe descended on the small New Mexican outpost for their eighth conference.

"We have helped lift obit writers from the shadows," says Ms Gilbert. As if to prove it, two documentary film crews were recording the proceedings.

There is no doubt obituaries are in rude health today. In the UK, a revolution took place in newspaper obits in the mid-1980s.

The Independent began using by-lines which led to more opinionated pieces. The Daily Telegraph's then obituary editor, Hugh Massingberd, introduced a PG Wodehouse-style irreverence and gossip into his paper's obits.

The other UK broadsheets upped their obits too as part of a circulation war. The result has been a qualitative improvement that makes obits as popular as the sports pages.

Any habitual reader of obituaries will tell you there's seldom anything morbid about the pastime. Obits are - more often than not - teeming with life, be it of a celebrity or common man or woman.

As New York writer and obit devotee Marilyn Johnson puts it, "a good obit is an act of reverence, a contemplation of this life that sparked and died, but also an act of defiance, a fist waved at God or the stars".
The star of the obituary has never been higher. BBC radio now has two programmes devoted to obituaries in addition to its news obits. When the Daily Telegraph underwent a recent cull of journalists, the obit department was spared since their output was among the paper's most popular fare.

Whether as a celebration or an appraisal of a life, obituaries tell a story, and people love listening to good stories well told. As Ms Johnson says, "It's a good time to die."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Telling What Happened

Lots of interesting links to help you with your Legacy Archives over at Family Oral History using digital tools.

Coney Island Voices, an oral history project
How the Veteran History Project was sparked by family oral history
Coastal Oral History projects that document life in North Carolina, Florida, California
How hard it is to ask "What happened?" yet the answers explain so much.

These posts serve as inspiration and later as a resource for your own.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

More on fantasy coffins

It's been a while since we visited fantasy coffins. In Ghana, rich funeral traditions continue.

Ghanaians say stylish goodbye with fantasy coffins.

  Fantasy Coffin Reuters Photo

Funerals are important social occasions in this West African country and elaborate, brightly colored coffins have become an art form.

Most customers give Mensah more time than Rockson but all want to give their loved ones a fitting send-off in a coffin that honors who they were and what they did.

Fantasy coffins shaped like Coca-Cola bottles, chickens, cars, cameras, birds and bibles are all on sale in Teshie.

First popularized in the 1950s, the coffins cost between $300 and $800 in a country where many live on barely $2 a day.
Most weekends, funeral parties are held across the former British colony. In some towns, large billboards advertise the time and place of the "homecoming" or "farewell," usually accompanied by a picture of the deceased.

Other people take out full-page national newspaper adverts, inviting all to the funeral, but the most vivid expressions of this commitment to saying goodbye are the fantasy coffins.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:33 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Kicked to death on a bus

A train conductor, on his way to work on a crowded bus in Antwerp, Belgium, stood up and told six youths who had got on the bus and began to intimidate passengers to calm down.

They began to beat and kick him. At the next stop thirty passengers got off. The beating continued until the gang pulled the emergency stop and got off, leaving Guido Demoor, father of two, to die.

From the Brussels Journal, Youths" Kick Man to Death on Crowded Antwerp Bus.

Apparently, telling kids to pipe down can get you killed in Belgium.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:16 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Emergency Coffins

From Holland comes EveryBody coffins, a modular coffin, requiring no tools, nails or screws, lightweight and packed in flat-packs.

Says Springwise, highly suitable for burial and cremation and better than bodybags when a large-scale disaster strikes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

Butch and Sundance, A Suicide Pact?

In San Vincente, Bolivia, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid were disabled in a gunfight. The next day, surrounded by troops , they knew there was no way out.

academics and writers have reconstructed their final moments from a police report filed in San Vicente by Inspector Timoteo Rios, who participated in the 1908 manhunt that ended the lives of the two fugitives.

According to the police documents, Parker shot Longabaugh in the forehead and then turned the gun on himself after they were cornered by an army platoon.

"Two shots and three cries of desperation" were heard during the night as army Capt. Justo Concha besieged the gunmen, says the police account. At dawn, Inspector Rios found Longabaugh "lying on the floor with a wound on the forehead and another in his arm and Parker sitting on a stool behind the door hugging a big ceramic jug, shot once through the head and several times through his arm."

In the end, no blaze of glory

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Dividing an Estate Among Half Siblings

The minefields of dividing an estate among different siblings.

"If you're not careful, it can cause people to be bitter for decades, it can ruin relationships," says Chris Dardaman, chief executive officer of Brightworth LLC, a financial advisory firm in Atlanta.

Tips on Dividing an Estate Among Half Siblings by Bridget O'Brian in the Wall Stree Journal

• Sit down with the entire family to discuss the estate plans. Each family needs to determine how specific to get on the topic of numbers, but at the very least such a confab can eliminate negative surprises. "You want, to the extent you can, to remove the emotional powder kegs," says Mr. Dardaman.

• Consider providing for each of your children -- from all marriages -- in your will. Such a move could eliminate or reduce the chance that one or more of the children would contest your will, says Mr. Nass. It's also helpful to write a side letter, or a note to your children, explaining why you've structured things the way you have and, perhaps, to assuage bruised feelings.

• You don't want bitterness between the families to turn into the adult kids fighting the widowed spouse, says Ms. Vasileff. Be sure the second spouse understands and is supportive of your plans.

• Consider an irrevocable insurance trust, a move that can help to avoid probate altogether.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Vietnam's cemetery for aborted babies

30,000 aborted babies buried in Hue cemetery

The cemetery was born from the initiative of a group of volunteers who wanted to celebrate the “sacredness of life” by giving the little fetuses a burial at least. Every day, volunteers go to collect victims from hospitals, clinics and even from garbage dumps, and then they bury them.

The cemetery is not officially recognized by the government, but it closes an eye to the practice, well regarded by Christians, Buddhists and Animists. Even members of the Vietnamese Communist Party have described the cemetery as a “sacred work of love”. Similar cemeteries have emerged near many parishes in Pleiku and in Ho Chi Minh city.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

The Firefighters' Memorial

The first large scale 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero, The Firefighters'  Monument at "10 house" can be seen at a wonderful interactive display the New York Times presents.

It's a 56-foot-long bronze bas relief that weighs about 7000 pounds.  Martin Rambusch of Rambusch Decorating Company, the firm that  designed and fabricated the monument,  narrates and describes the work and the monument.

  9:11 Firefighters Memorial

  9:11 Firefighters Memorial 2

Take back the memorial has more including this quote from Mayor Giuliani at the unveiling.

He later blasted city, state and federal officials for failing to build a memorial at Ground Zero nearly five years after the terrorist attacks… “Forget about the buildings, the office space - that should all come second,” he said. “The focus has to be on the memorial. Get it right. Future generations will respect us for that.”

While politicians continue to dicker over the Ground Zero memorial, firefighters quietly built their own tribute to their 343 fallen brothers. Money was raised by law firm Holland & Knight, which lost one of its partners, volunteer firefighter Glenn Winuk, in the World Trade Center.

Take Back the Memorial is doing yeoman's work in keeping the true aims of a non-political memorial, telling the story of that fateful day at Ground Zero in clear view.

You can sign their online petition or submit your own comments through June 27.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 PM | Permalink

Funerals Online

Well, it looks now as if you can watch funerals on the web.

Dead Webcast

When a Long Island man died this week, some of his extended family, scattered across the country, were unable to fly in for the funeral, which under Jewish custom was held within 24 hours.

But they said they felt a part of it anyway because they were able to watch it LIVE via an Internet hookup.

There is a time frame when families want to bury someone. So instead of delaying the service, out-of-towners, or the very sick, can still take part even if they are not there physically," said Kevin Gray, co-owner of The Star of David Memorial Chapel in West Babylon

I believe that, if possible, you should Always Go to the Funeral.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 AM | Permalink

"She was a grand old lady"

  Harriet, Darwin's Tortoise

Harriet, Charles Darwin's tortoise dies at 176, the world's oldest animal in captivity.

She was thought for more than 100 years to be a male and was called Harry.

She died peacefully of heart failure following a short illness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 AM | Permalink

Pathetic thief

Widow asks 'pathetic' thief to return flag.

A “pathetic” thief robbed more than a Marlboro woman’s patriotism, he ripped off an American flag dedicated to her husband’s World War II service and his bravery back home.

Edna Straw, 89, said her 8-foot by 4-foot old glory was ripped off this week by a heartless crook who has no clue it once draped her husband’s coffin.

Who would steal a flag? Pathetic is right. All the widow wants is for the thief to just leave it on her porch and go.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:40 AM | Permalink

The Love of a Dog

K-9 dog dies for love of partner
In Texas, Darby, a Grapevine police dog, escaped from a kennel and ran to his handler's home who was out of town for a few days. When the officer got back, the dog was in physical distress, probably from heat, and died after being taken back to the veterinary clinic.

At least Officer Hintz was with Darby at the end.

  Darby Dog Died For Love

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:37 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2006

Demons, Barbarians and Sadists

I have been distressed and horrified at the treatment of the bodies of Army Pfc. Thomas Tucker and Pfc Kristian Menchaca. They were found mutilated and booby-trapped.

The sources said the two men had suffered severe trauma. The bodies also had been desecrated and a visual identification was impossible -- part of the reason DNA testing was being conducted to verify their identities.

Not only were the bodies booby-trapped, but homemade bombs also lined the road leading to the victims, an apparent effort to complicate recovery efforts and target recovery teams, the sources said.

It took troops 12 hours to clear the area of roadside bombs. One of the bombs exploded, but there were no injuries.

Michael Yon in Brave Men and Demons

Our people who fight in these lands face an often savage enemy. How else to describe people who resort to barbarism to assert a claim to power for which their very barbarism declares them unfit? If cutting off a child’s head will get attention for thirty seconds, they’ll do it. If cutting out a child’s intestines and sticking a bomb in her belly to kill her mom or dad will send a message of fear to other moms and dads, they’ll do it.
there is a huge difference between Coalition forces and the wanton, sociopath terrorist with no vestige of honor, who knows nothing but destruction and has no plan for the future other than the subjugation of others while on the path to some psychotic pathology inured by tribal culture and carcinogenic beliefs that will, if left untouched, leave people living in mud huts and slitting throats of historical enemies for another thousand years, or, if slightly more science — minded, leave them seeking nuclear weapons to reach out and destroy the world.
Our people who have truly stared into the face of this terrorist demon have seen the ruby glow in its eyes. This is not a myth. This is not a politically contrived caricature, this demon is real. It usually stalks the easy prey — children, women in crowds, families focused on prayer, rescue workers responding to people in need. Some terrorists manage to get our soldiers.

Let our brave men be remembered with dignity and great honor, for they died in hell while fighting the devil himself.

Neo-neocon calls them barbarians and sadists

As one of her commenters points out, these barbarians have induced suicide bombers to destroy a home for the elderly, a pet market, the clothes market, a candy line and people wearing tennis shorts.

All to induce fear.

R.I. P.Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca and in glory for your bravery and sacrifice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 PM | Permalink

Your ancestors online

  Family History

New technology and cheaper storage are making it possible to digitize and index fragile historical documents.

The Wall St Journal reports today on New Ways to Dig for Your Roots Online. (subscribers only).

The preservation efforts are part of a massive global effort to digitize a variety of content for safekeeping and easy searching, such as Google Inc.'s effort to scan libraries of books. Online genealogy companies say that last year's devastating hurricane season, which destroyed several archives in the South, has also increased demand for partnership programs in which they digitize local archives in exchange for being able to offer the sources to the public through their sites.

If you haven't started to search for your family roots online, now is a great time to start.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

Out on a High Note

Musician's ashes buried in clarinet

Roger Busdicker went out on a high note. When Busdicker, often seen playing his ebony-and-silver clarinet, died last week at the age of 88, his daughters thought it befitting to have his cremated remains buried in the instrument.

"They just thought this was so proper, that their dad went into the clarinet," said Noreen Busdicker of Minneapolis, who's married to Roger's brother, Gordon. "What didn't fit in the clarinet went into the lining of the case."

Roger Busdicker toured with the Hal Leonard Orchestra in the 1930s and '40s before becoming a music teacher in Winona schools. He later co-founded and ran a sheet-music publishing company until retiring in 1985.

He never stopped playing though.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

June 20, 2006

Honoring those who gave their bodies

In Maryland, a special memorial honors those men and women who donate their bodies to science.

Those Who Serve Medicine in Death

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

Legacy Multimedia

For those of you who want to commemorate a special event but have no desire to create your own show, you can hire someone to do it for you.

Two women in Houston, Stefani Twyford and Isabelle MacCrimmon have started Legacy Multimedia to capture just what you want for your personal Legacy Archives.

Poke around their site to see what can be done either by you or by a professional

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2006

He Lost His Head

A man transporting his wife's severed head in a pickup truck crashed into an oncoming car, killing a woman and her 4-year-old daughter in downtown Boise, Idaho.

The impact of the crash tossed the severed head from the back of his pickup. The man, apparently on a suicide mission after killing his wife and making final arrangements, pleaded with police officers to kill him.

Prosecutors: Idaho Man on Suicide Mission.

Hat tip to Riehl World View, Head and Driving a Deadly Combination

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:53 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2006

Memory Holes

From a New York Times book review by Russell Shorto of

"Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War" (Nathaniel Philbrick)

Not long after the Pilgrims set anchor in the harbor they called Plymouth in 1620, the Wampanoag leader Massasoit paid them a visit near their makeshift settlement and made a wary offer of friendship.

It took several months for two of the Pilgrims to venture into the wilderness and return the gesture. When they did, they noticed circular pits alongside the trails, which, the natives told them, were storytelling devices. Each of these
"memory holes" was dug at a place where a remarkable act had occurred; every time Indians passed by these spots, they recounted the deeds.

The Pilgrims, Nathaniel Philbrick says in his vivid and remarkably fresh retelling of the story of the earnest band of English men and women who became saddled with the sobriquet of America's founders, "began to see that they were traversing a mythic land, where a sense of community extended far into the distant past."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:24 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2006

Blurb for your Legacy Archives

My Book, by Me in Fast Company

"Getting published" has always meant something special to us writer types; a book with your name on it says you've arrived. And now, thanks to the Internet, I'm a genuine published author. My publisher? Me.

is an online service that lets you create and publish the next great American novel.

It took all of a day, using a new online service called Blurb. Its approach is remarkably accessible. You choose a theme, page layout, picture and text sizes, and fonts from a range of options. The software is easy to navigate, if frustratingly slow at times. I uploaded image files from a CD, dragged pictures into place, and watched pages fill up with my original work.

For less than $30 each , you can publish your blog book, your dog book, your baby book, your treasured recipes, your travel memoirs and your digital scrapbooks.

Since I believe we should keep the treasures we love in two forms, digital and paper, this is good news.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink


It's a solar-powered, multi-media tribute right on a tombstone, call it a


  Serenity Tombstone-1

"The VIDSTONE Serenity Panel is the first personal memorial monument product of its kind. Utilizing solar-power technology and a weatherproof LCD panel it provides families the option of viewing a personalized video tribute right at their loved one’s final resting place. The VIDSTONE Serenity panel features a 5-10 minute multimedia memorial detailing the most precious memories of your loved one’s life. Their unique memories are no longer solely relived in your mind , but at your loved one’s place of rest. While nothing ever replaces the gift of life, memories can now come one step closer to forever being remembered and not forgotten with a Vidstone Serenity Panel.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:20 PM | Permalink

June 9, 2006

More on fantasy coffines

It's been a while since we visited fantasy coffins. In Ghana, rich funeral traditions continue.

Ghanaians say stylish goodbye with fantasy coffins.

  Fantasy Coffin Reuters Photo

Funerals are important social occasions in this West African country and elaborate, brightly colored coffins have become an art form.

Most customers give Mensah more time than Rockson but all want to give their loved ones a fitting send-off in a coffin that honors who they were and what they did.

Fantasy coffins shaped like Coca-Cola bottles, chickens, cars, cameras, birds and bibles are all on sale in Teshie.

First popularized in the 1950s, the coffins cost between $300 and $800 in a country where many live on barely $2 a day.
Most weekends, funeral parties are held across the former British colony. In some towns, large billboards advertise the time and place of the "homecoming" or "farewell," usually accompanied by a picture of the deceased.

Other people take out full-page national newspaper adverts, inviting all to the funeral, but the most vivid expressions of this commitment to saying goodbye are the fantasy coffins.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 PM | Permalink

Death of Zarqawi

As a rule, I do not rejoice in the deaths of people, but in this case, I'm making an exception.

I welcome the death of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al Queda in Iraq .

His death was announced by Iraq/'s Prime Minister "We have managed to exterminate Zarqawi."

President Bush said, "We have delivered justice to the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq."

"No person in the world has thad the blood of more innocent men, women and children on his hands ," said Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield.

A terrorist mastermind, he had moved closer to Baghad to focus efforts on the capitol to influence the western media, incite a civil war and destabilize the new Iraqi government writes Bill Roggio. Task Force 145, in a series of raids, had rolled up numbers of terrorists, and with tips from Iraqis including somein Zarqawi's personal network, were able to locate him for certain in a place that could be bombed without collateral damage.

What was found in Zarqawi's safe house in Bagubah - a pile of cardboard boxes containing nine human heads, some with their blindfolds on.

Christopher Hitchens writes
Zarqawi contributed enormously to the wrecking of Iraq's experiment in democratic federalism. He was able to help ensure that the Iraqi people did not have one single day of respite between 35 years of war and fascism, and the last three-and-a-half years of misery and sabotage. He chose his targets with an almost diabolical cunning, destroying the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad (and murdering the heroic envoy Sérgio Vieira de Melo) almost before it could begin operations, and killing the leading Shiite Ayatollah Hakim outside his place of worship in Najaf. His decision to declare a jihad against the Shiite population in general, ... has been the key innovation of the insurgency: applying lethal pressure to the most vulnerable aspect of Iraqi society. And it has had the intended effect, by undermining Grand Ayatollah Sistani and helping empower Iranian-backed Shiite death squads.

Dan Darling at Winds of Change traces Zarqawi's career prior to 9/11 , from his command of Al-Queda training camps in Afghanistan, including a nuclear lab focused on creating a dirty bomb, and overseeing
the operation of an Al Queda affiliate reaching into Germany, Russia ,Jordan and Syria, prior to going to Iraq where he became the leader of the "insurgency" determined to start a civil war to drive the Coalition out

Especially known for his beheadings, Zarqawi was responsible by his own account for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and many coalition forces and contractors, some of which are listed below with facts from the London Times online.

* The assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman, 2002

• The attack on the U.N. headquarters in August 2003, killing 23 including Sergio de Mello, the top UN envoy. The UN withdraws from Iraq.
• Car bomb in the Shia holy city of Najaf, killing 85 including a leading cleric in 2003.
• In 2004, a co-ordinated series of bombs and blasts killing 181 at Shia Muslim shrines in Karbala and Bagdad

* Nicholas Berg of West Chester, PA., in 2004, whom he beheaded personally and posted the video on the Internet.
• car bomb assassinating Abdel Othman, President of the Iraqi governing Council in May, 2004.
• car bomb killing 47 unemployed Iraqi men lining up outside a police barracks to apply for jobs. Sept 2004.
• Eugene Armstrong of Hillsdale, Michigan, Ken Bigley, of Liverpool England and Jack Hensley kidnapped and beheaded in Sept 2004
• Hostage Shoshei Koda of Japan beheaded and wrapped in an American flag. Oct 2004
* car bombs at a funeral procession in Najaf kill 60 in December, 2004.
* suicide bomber kills 125 in a crowd of police and national guard recruits in Hiillah.
• Triple suicide bombing in Amman Jordan kills 60 at a wedding.

Michael Yon, the famed free lance reporter and photographer in Iraq wrote Death Finds Satan's Second Most Favored Serpent

From a few who live in Iraq like Where Date Palms Grow in Baghdad.

The Bastard is DEAD!!.
I have never been more happier than when they caught the Rate in the Hole

I'm overjoyed. God willing, this will be the end of all terrorists. I hope Iraq can now begin to stabilize now that this pig is dead," said Qeysar Ahmed, a Baghdad shop owner, as he watched Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announce Zarqawi's death on TV.

Zarqawi's Death: A Report from Baghdad

Mid-morning local time the news broke, Abu Musab al Zarqawi has been killed. The celebrations on the street and the cheers at the press conference announcing this news may seem odd to some in the comfortable confines of the west....The reactions among Iraqis to the death of al Zarqawi is quite different than that to the similar demise of Uday and Qusay. The deaths of the brothers Hussein was met with a jumble of emotions among Iraqis in 2003: some saw them as leaders while most saw them as the homicidal maniacs they were. The reaction to the death of al Zarqawi is far more visceral, akin to ridding one’s house of a menacing rat.

A reserved Sunni intellectual who is quite particular in the language he uses summed up the feeling surrounding al Zarqawi’s death: “Goddamn that motherfucker for what he has done to Iraq.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink

Leaving a blood trail for police

Some people leave fingerprints, Adam Warner left his finger.

Over Memorial Day, Warner had himself a good time toppling some 53 headstones in an upstate N.Yl. cemetery until one fell on him severing his finger.

Police followed the trail of blood he left and arrested him for criminal mischief, criminal trespass and cemetery desecration.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:23 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2006

Does Ground Zero Deserve a Memorial?

It's been five years now, so where is the memorial to the fateful and tragic day asks Debra Burlinggame in Ground Zero.

They came and would not leave, an army of ironworkers and heavy-equipment operators, stopping only when the scent-trained dogs barked out a signal. They cut and moved twisted steel and steaming concrete, clearing an astonishing 1.8 million tons in a continuous convoy of trucks and a 20,000-barge armada. The last steel beam, covered from top to bottom with handwritten prayers and messages of hope from those who worked the site, was hauled away in a solemn site-closing ceremony that left grown men weeping quietly. "The Pile" was cleared in eight-and-a-half months. Only then did they go home, different men. Who will tell their story?

The answer depends on whether we believe we have a stake in a future we will not live to see. Today, a handful of people are considering how the history of 9/11 will be preserved for future generations. Will it be scattered all over the globe, eroded by small museums, cannibalized by private collectors, or simply lost forever?

Thankfully, it's not going to be housed in the lobby of a commercial office building like Mayor Bloomberg suggested, part of the Freedom Center and its exhibits on slavery around the world.

Thankfully, the New York Times editorial last fall that a 9/11 museum is not necessary because "most of us remember that day very clearly" has been ignored.

Thankfully, it will not be part of the Freedom Center with its exhibits on slavery.

The decision lies in one man's hands: New York Gov. George E. Pataki. It is that simple. Advisory councils, stakeholder meetings and a public comment period notwithstanding, if Gov. Pataki agrees with 87% of the respondents in last year's Zogby poll, stating that 9/11 was "the most historic event of their lifetime" that "changed the way Americans live and view the world," then he will step up and mark that history--or answer to those same people.

What Governor Pataki does will either be his Great Legacy or his great shame.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:01 PM | Permalink

The grand parties of Irish wakes imperiled

While the Anchoress has made plans for her wake, her husband has other plans.

What shocked me though was news that the E.U. has planned yet another edict to ban formaldehyde as an embalming agent which will kill off the Irish wake that's existed for hundreds of years.

Such a move would see the end of the age-old ritual of "laying out" the body while games are played and food and drink are consumed to the accompaniment of dancing and fiddle music.

Typically the body is bathed, dressed in a white garment and then laid on a bed or table. From that time on it is not to be left alone until the funeral, while relatives celebrate a life well lived.

Not to be missed is her Irish aunt's description of an Irish wake in Brooklyn about 1926

“For two days, every adult careened between tearful remembrances and roaring recollections. The children milled about, snatchin’ bits of food and playin’ games, stoppin’ by for swift kisses (or kicks) from their parents - two people took turns ‘watching’ each hour, in the livin’ room with the body, while the rest of us were in the kitchen or on the stoops, or in the street, sending him off in style. And didn’t everyone stop by! The policeman, the milkman - for the thing went on all day and all night - the knifesharpener, the ragman, the mailman! They would all stop in and pay their respects, and have a shot of the right stuff, in his memory!

The piano played, the songs were sung - I remember a donnybrook in the front, which seemed to include all the young men, poundin’ upon each other like mortal enemies, except they seemed to enjoy the bloody noses and raw knuckles - and when it was time for prayers, they’d come in, sweaty and respectful, they’d pray then have a drink, then head back out and fight some more! Wasn’t it lively - all that lovely life in the middle of all that death!

And the keening! The sound of the women howlin’ in grief…well, it didn’t seem sincere, but it had a lovely sort of sting to it - it reminded us that life is pain. And wasn’t I tired after a bit, so tired that I stood looking at the coffin and saw him move! It seemed to me his arm slid down and I went screamin’ into the kitchen telling them, ‘he’s movin’, he’s movin’, he’s not dead!’ And didn’t my uncle Francis say, ‘ah, he’s just wanting to join the party, child!’ and they all went in and apologized to himself for not spending more time with him, and brought a plate of food and laid it on his chest and put a glass in his hand.

It was mad. It was glorious. In the morning, we just stepped over the sleeping bodies on the floor or on the grass, and went out to play. When we returned, it was all on, again, until the funeral procession and the Holy Mass - at which everyone held their heads for fear they might fall off! And wasn’t it, after all, the sanest response to death I’d ever seen? When I die, I should have so grand a party!”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2006

A Death to be Proud of

Can you do something extraordinary as you die? Yes, Jack Francis did.

He was flying himself, his wire and another couple from Jackpot Nevada to Utah Sunday morning when he had a heart attack.

Nonetheless, he managed a perfect emergency landing on a highway in Utah, saving the lives of the three others before he died.

Heart attack pilot dies after safe landing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2006

Death by Balloon

A few miles north of Tampa, a luxury condominium complex advertised
using a giant8 ft helium balloon.

Yesterday, a couple was found dead inside after they apparently pulled it down and crawled in.

2 found dead inside deflated balloon.

The death of the two college students appear to be accidental.

While the county medical examiner says the cause of death won't be released for 6 weeks, the Compressed Gas Association said inhaling helium can quickly lead to brain damage and death from lack of oxygen.

Said Linda Rydman, whose daughter was found dead.

"It was more a fun thing they thought they were doing, You know how you blow up the balloon and suck the helium."
"I think she was mischievous, to be honest with you, She just liked fun, and I think it cost her."

Comforting thoughts perhaps for the mother who has yet to grasp the horror, but what a stupid way to die.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 PM | Permalink

Funeral protesters sued

Father of dead marine sues funeral protesters

The father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters from a fundamentalist Kansas church filed an invasion-of- privacy suit against the demonstrators Monday.

"We think it's a case we can win because anyone's funeral is private," Snyder lawyer Sean Summers said. "You don't have a right to interrupt someone's private funeral."

As good as the Patriot Guard Riders are and they are very good, lawyers can hit them where it hurts and make them pay.

Protesters from the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church have gone around the nation disrupting military funerals even the soldier they called "Pipes." yelling "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Fag body bags" and "Thank God for IEDs."

They believe that the military deaths in Iraq are God's punishment for America's tolerance of gays.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2006

Sick of bodies in elevator

residents of the apartment block say they have had enough of the bodies being taken down from the fourth floor in body bags in the lift. One resident, Gloria Sonny, 52, told the British Medical Journal: 'Almost every day the bodies of people who have chosen to kill themselves are taken down in the lift. It's horrid and I've had enough.

It may be the neighbors that close down Dignitas, the Swiss clinic that helps people kill themselves.

Neighbors of Swiss suicide clinic complain

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:26 PM | Permalink

June 3, 2006

The Red Will

When times change, it's time to review your will unlike the Frenchman, Albert Le Roy, a hardline Marxist, who left his money to his small village council "to prepare for communism."

It's quite split the small village who don't know what to do.

Village red-faced at butcher's late call to revolution.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2006

Mistaken ID

A shock for both families. Mistaken ID Stuns Crash Victims' Families.

"Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak," the VanRyns said on the blog.

Cerak's grandfather, Emil Frank, said news of his granddaughter's survival was a shock. "I still can't get over it. It's like a fairy tale," he said.

The coroner described an accident scene strewn with purses and wallets.
Four Taylor students and an employee were killed when their van was struck by a tractor-trailer that had drifted across a highway median. Those in the van worked for Taylor's dining services and were preparing for a banquet for the inauguration of a new president of the 1,850-student school.

Most of the crash victims had funerals with closed caskets. A month ago, an overflow crowd of more than 1,400 people turned out for what they thought was Cerak's funeral in Gaylord, Mich.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:39 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 1, 2006

Reunited after 150 years

The American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody Hawthorne were an extremely well-matched couple, rarely apart and in love until his death. He is buried in Concord, MA, not far from the Old Manse.


When her husband died, Sophia took it badly and moved to England with her children where they had lived when Hawthorne was in the diplomatic service. She died at 62 and is buried at Kensal Green cemetery in London.

  Sophia Peabody Hawthorne

Because her grave site needed extensive repair, the family decided to move her remains to rest alongside her husband's in Concord.

This month, after 150 years, the Hawthornes will be reunited,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink