August 30, 2006

Reflections on a Final Blog Post

Blogging will be slight as I take some time off to travel and visit family, attend a wedding and just enjoy myself in Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. 

My blog reading will be lighter than usual as well, but one I never miss is Ronni Bennett.  And not just because she often makes a kind mention and links to me and Legacy Matters

Fellow bloggers, go over and read The Need for a Final Blog Post

Ronni writes about the hierarchy of people surrounding us, all of whom  deserve to be notified when you pass on.  It's not morbid at all to think about how you want to be remembered. Thinking of others  and what you will leave behind is easier when you put on the mind of legacy.

I hope my upcoming  book Your Legacy Matters will give you some ideas and make it easier for you as well.

Much more anon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:04 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 27, 2006

Ode to a Lost Son

Uri simply had the courage to be himself, always, in all situations. To find his precise voice in everything he said and did. That is what protected him from pollution, corruption and the constriction of his soul.


Uri Grossman, serving on the front lines in Lebanon, was killed two days before the cease-fire and two weeks before his 21st birthday.
His father David, a leading novelist and peace activist in Israel delivered these remarks at Uri's funeral.

A Father's Ode to His Lost Son. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

Treasured Family Recipes

"Could you PLEASE, PLEASE send me your bread-pudding recipe from your original book -- my husband gave it to me years ago with a wonderful message comparing our marriage as a mixture of 'spices,' " wrote Elaine Acosta in an email message to Paul Prudhomme, owner of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter and author of eight cookbooks. "My house blew or floated down Hwy. 11 and I lost everything. I'm living with my daughter and son-in-law and their family and they want bread pudding, NOW!"

Comforting Food: Recapturing Recipes Katrina Took Away.

How many memories are contained in dog-eared, splotched, nearly illegible recipe cards mothers keep in battered tins on kitchen counters?

  Family Recipes

Food is how we keep our family traditions and culture alive.  I know I am flooded with memories of Floss when I eat ginger snaps made from her recipe.  One brother who had many sojourns in Asia always traveled with the recipe for her gravy.  Think about what family recipes you would be desolated to lose.

Every year my mother makes a special trip to Chinatown for raw peanuts, the essential ingredient for her renowned peanut brittle.  With a 50 year- old pressure cooker, now used only brittle, she makes batches of peanut brittle every year to give away at Christmas to the mailman, the newspaper delivery girl, the folks at her car dealer's and countless family friends.  After Thanksgiving, anticipation builds and mouths begin to water with the foretaste of the treat in store for them.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Ruth's peanut brittle.

Unlike the baker who kept the secret of his cinnamon cake and took the recipe to his grave, I've captured the secret of Ruth's peanut brittle, but I need a few more before I can make a book of it. 

Consider making some of your favorite, family recipes part of your Personal Legacy Archives.    Using Blurb, you can make a book of the best and give it away to relatives for Christmas.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2006

The Time When

The BBC has a trail website in development for sharing memories on line. 

The Time When 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

New Law Eases Taxes on Inherited 401(k)s

A big problem with inherited 401(k)s has just been solved with legislation signed yesterday by President Bush.

Heirs who aren't spouses can now roll over retirement accounts into their IRAs.

Wall St Journal Tax Report

Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the change will save taxpayers about $291 million over the next decade alone. But be careful: The new law is effective only for distributions made after the end of this year.

"In my 20 years of practice, I have seen dozens of families and tax advisers who would have benefited" from the new provision, says Robert S. Keebler, a certified public accountant at Virchow Krause & Co. in Green Bay, Wis. In most of those cases, a parent died, leaving retirement-plan money to a child who was forced, under the plan's rules, to withdraw money from the plan within five years -- and, in some cases, immediately, Mr. Keebler says in a new book from CCH, a Riverwoods, Ill., publisher of tax information.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:30 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 23, 2006

Striptease Funerals

Like many around the world, local villagers in the Donghai region of China believe that the more people who attend a funeral, the more the dead person is honored.

But never before have I heard of striptease send-offs to attract mourners.

Police crack down on striptease funerals.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:47 PM | Permalink

He put Australian wine on the map

If you've ever drunk Australian wine and enjoyed it, you have Len Evans to thank. 

When asked what his greatest achievement was, Evans replied, "To make people want to drink wine for the sheer fun of it. To show the enjoyment in wine. You know, wine's a bloody drink. It's just a lovely drink."

Steve Waterson pens a wonderful tribute to his father-in-law, Len Evans in A Man in Full

One summer evening 15 years ago Len Evans grabbed a good bottle of burgundy and led me out to his veranda for the would-be son-in-law conversation. As the sun fell behind the Hunter Valley's Brokenback range, we got to the part where he gauged my prospects. I was struggling with some banal career decision: one path boring but financially secure, the other much more interesting but relatively poorly paid. Seeking approval, I ventured that the sensible thing might be to go dull and safe. Len thought for a moment, turned to me and asked: "How many lives are you planning to have?"
---
Most of the time, the expression "living life to the full" is a platitude. Len turned it into a masterclass, and we were his students. His professional face was that of the wine man, and according to those equipped to judge, he had few rivals in the world for depth of knowledge. Fewer still could match his palate; none could equal his contribution to Australia's wine industry. But to celebrate that expertise alone is to limit him. To my eye, his greatest love was people. His adored wife Trish, his children and grandchildren came first, without question, but I know of no one who took more energetic pleasure in friends and strangers, entertaining them with wine, song, fine food and, above all, laughter.

Via Tim Blair, Len Remembered.

The obituary for the man who put Australian wine on the map

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:50 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Danger of Roadside Memorials

In Hawaii, a group of teenagers gathered Saturday night at a roadside memorial for two friends who were killed in a crash there the night before when a car plowed into the group killing two more.

Hauula Stunned After 2 Teen Mourners Die at Roadside Memorial.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

Princess Tatiana von Metternich

From the London Telegraph, the story of a remarkable life.

Princess Tatiana Von Metternich, who died at Schloss Johannisberg, her home in Germany, on July 26 aged 91, was the widow of Prince Paul Alfons, last Prince von Metternich-Winneburg; she was one of the most beautiful women of her day, highly cultivated and well known in international society.

Living in Berlin, Bohemia and later on the Rhine during the Second World War, she witnessed the effect of Nazism on Germany, was close to those involved in the unsuccessful plot to kill Hitler in 1944, and was forced to make a 600-kilometre trek across Germany to escape the Russian advance. This she described in her memoirs, Tatiana - Five Passports in a Shifting Europe, and the story of those times was later re-told in the memorable Berlin Diaries 1940-1945 by her sister, Princess Marie Wassiltchikov.

She was born Princess Tatiana Wassiltchikov in St Petersburg on January 1 1915, the second daughter of Prince Illarion Wassiltchikov, a member of the Russian Imperial Parliament, and his wife, Princess Lydia Wiazemsky.

Her childhood was overshadowed by the deaths of many of her parents' friends and relations, victims of the Revolution. She owed her departure from Russia to King George V, who sent a British warship to rescue his aunt, the Dowager Empress of Russia, from the Crimea. The Empress refused to leave unless those who wished to escape accompanied her, and the British fleet obliged by sending as many ships as possible.

Before sailing, the young Tatiana waited with other Russian children and their English nannies at Alubka, the grand folly of the Vorontzovs near Yalta, and sat patiently on a stone lion on the terrace. (The lion was still there when she returned with a group from Serenissima in 1982.)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Joe Rosenthal "Recorded the soul of a nation"

He didn't think that he had captured anything special when he sent in his film to the AP bureau in Guam but the photo published on the front page of newspapers across the land was a sensation and became the most reproduced photograph in history.

  Iwo Jima Rosenthal

Said the editors of US Camera magazine, "In that moment, Rosenthal's camera recorded the soul of a nation."

Other photos from the same roll and the story of the famous one.

Charges that this perfectly composed photograph was faked were disproved when color movies taken at the same time exonerated him.

Joe Rosenthal: Shot Flag-Raising at Iwo Jima

On Feb. 19, 1945, he landed at Iwo Jima several hours after the first wave of Marines had come ashore. Four days later, he and several other cameramen ran into Louis Lowery, a photographer for the Marine publication Leatherneck who had shot the first raising of the flag atop Suribachi. Lowery recommended that they hike to the peak for the view alone.

"The 550-foot climb took us a half-hour," Mr. Rosenthal told The Washington Post in 1945. "We had to sidestep Jap mines and circle the pillboxes the Marines were still clearing out." (The combat continued on Iwo Jima through March, ending with nearly 7,000 Americans and 20,000 Japanese dead.)

In the time it took for Mr. Rosenthal and his companions to scale Suribachi, Marine Corps commanders decided to replace the initial flag with a much larger one that could be viewed from offshore.

"The Marines on top were still looking for the best place to plant the flag when I got there, with my Speed Graphic," Mr. Rosenthal told The Post. "I'm too short to get the full picture, so they waited until I piled up rocks and sandbags" from a pillbox, or bunker, "and shot from the top of the pile. Then they stuck her in, in the face of a breeze. That's all there was."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Don't ever keep pit bulls

Shawna Willey spent thousands of dollars importing two Presa Canarios, she named Clara and Zeno, pit bulls from the Canary Islands, to join China, the pit bull she had for 8 years.

She loved them, gave them their own bedroom, cooked them separate meals and bathed them weekly. 

Last week, while bathing Xeno, the 120 pound dog attacked and killed her in front of her eight-year-old daughter.

Attraction to exotic dogs was fatal

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:33 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 21, 2006

The Last Days of Aaron Spelling

Dominick Dunne, one of the few people who knew him when he was poor  writes about the last days of Aaron Spelling in the current Vanity Fair.   

He had become a deeply unhappy man, living sick and isolated in the biggest house in town, cut off from nearly everyone, estranged even from his daughter, and fearful that he was being betrayed.  "There wasn't anybody sitting in there with him," one of his friends informed me.  "Just a maid with a vacuum cleaner, cleaning the room."

How sad is that.  Money can buy a lot of things, but not a good death.

Here is the N.Y. Times obituary.

Vanity Fair has not put Dunne's article online but there is a very good photo essay, Rare Scenes from 9/11.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Comic book legacy

His father was a pack rat but he left behind an immaculate collection of comic books worth more than the house he died in.

His father had indeed left his family a legacy -- a legacy that he had started to build when he was an eight-year-old boy in Washington. For reasons known only to himself, Davis Crippen soon decided to buy and save every comic book that came out, and he didn't let up for 15 years.

He got his mother to continue the purchases when he headed off for graduate work at the London School of Economics, and didn't stop himself until he was drafted into the army. By the time he was through, Mr. Crippen, who edited technical manuals for a living, had stashed away a gold mine.

Appraised at $2.5 million, the comics are now being auctioned in batches in Dallas.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

'Relief' when his son's body his found

Dead climber found after 17 years. 

The body of a climber has been found 17 years after he died in a mountaineering accident in the French Alps

News of the find came as a big relief to his father who arranged to have his son's remains brought home. 

A strange,  comforting, human response, reflecting the  obligation we feel to formally bury our dead.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 16, 2006

Darwin award nominees.

A thirty year old man who owned a tree service company was killed when he was sucked into a wood chipper while trying to shake loose a piece of wood that had jammed it.

Man killed in wood chipper

Another 35-year-old man, drunk,  was using a train track as a pillow when he fell asleep and was killed when a freight train rolled by.

Man hit in head by train is dead.

Both will be nominees in this year's Darwin Awards which are awarded posthumously to those who remove themselves from the human gene pool and, by so doing, improving it.

There you will find true stories that beggar belief like the man who drowned in a kitchen sink, the dope on a rope, and many more.

It is not confirmed that the last words of 8 out of 10 award winners were, "Hey guys.  Watch this."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Twain and Darrow

Clarence Darrow
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.

Mark Twain
I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:21 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Telegraph obits

From the London Telegraph come the best obituaries in the world

Jack Edwards,
Former PoW who campaigned on behalf of ex-servicemen and their widows in the Far East.


Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu

Queen of the Maori people who reigned for 40 years and earned the admiration of the Prince of Wales.

Rufus Harley

Musician who introduced the bagpipes to jazz and played with Dizzy Gillespie, Coltrane and Sonny Rollins

Lord Kilbracken
Peer who escorted Jayne Mansfield, gatecrashed Red Square and was Ephraim Hardcastle.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:44 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

What a way to go

Seven die in toilet accident

In Uzbekistan, a father and son were digging an overflow pit an existing outdoor facility when the sides of the original toilet collapsed and its contents engulfed the two men.  Five rescuers rushed to their aid but succumbed to poisons caused by accumulated gas

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:20 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Paul Newman's Legacies

After the movies and with the popcorn and salad dressing, Paul Newman gets it right. 

Paul Newman's idea in the 1980s to start a camp in Connecticut for critically ill children has grown into an international phenomenon with a ninth "Hole in the Wall" camp opening soon. The camps will host thousands of children, for free, well after the 81-year-old actor speaks his last line before a camera.

    "If I leave a legacy, it will be the camps," Newman says.

Newman couldn't possibly have imagined such an outcome when he and his pal A.E. Hotchner, stirred up oil and vinegar with canoe paddles in a barn back in 1980. 

They wanted to pass out bottles of homemade salad dressing during a round of Christmas caroling. As the pair explains in their book, ``Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good,'' Newman thought of selling the leftover dressing. That idea spawned the now ubiquitous Newman's Own brand of dressings, pasta sauces, popcorn and salsa, which have raised some $200 million for charities.

Announcing plans for the original Hole in the Wall Gang camp in 1986, Newman said it was made possible by salad dressing, ``and the people who buy the damn stuff.'' Newman has remained fuzzy on his inspiration, saying he just woke up with the idea.

Of course, those of us besotted for decades by Paul Newman's blue eyes, think his movies will stand up as a fine legacy themselves.

  Newman Photos

As will the Paul Newman stories.  Here's one I received in the mail from Phoebe Ann.

A Michigan woman and her family were vacationing in a small New England town where Paul Newman and his family often visited.

One Sunday morning, the woman got up early to take a long walk. After a brisk five-mile hike, she decided to treat herself to a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone. She hopped in the car, drove to the center of the village and went straight to the combination bakery/ice cream parlor.

There was only one other patron in the store: Paul Newman, sitting at the counter having a doughnut and coffee. The woman's heart skipped a beat as her eyes made contact with those famous baby-blue eyes. The actor nodded graciously and the star-struck woman smiled demurely.

Pull yourself together! she chides herself. You're a happily married woman with three children; you're forty-five years old, not a teenager! The clerk filled her order and she took the double-dip chocolate ice cream cone in one hand and her change in the other. Then when she went out the door, avoiding even a glance in Paul Newman's direction.

When she reached her car, she realized that she had a handful of change - but her other hand was empty. Where's my ice cream cone? Did I leave it in the store?

Back into the shop she went, expecting to see the cone still in the clerk's hand or in a holder on the counter or something. But no ice cream cone was in sight. With that, she happened to look over at Paul Newman. His face broke into his familiar warm, friendly grin and he said to the woman, "You put it in your purse."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

August 13, 2006

More fauxtography

More on what's come to be known as fauxtography and the gruesome use of dead bodies to seek personal or political advantage, a tactic beneath contempt professionally and morally. 

Photographer Alleges Unearthing of bodies  Brian Denton writes
--- i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one case where a group of wire photogs were choreographing the unearthing of bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and this itself is a bigger ethical problem.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 12, 2006

"No one ever taught me to grow old"

From the Newsweek  cover story on Billy Graham

To everything there is a season, says the author of Ecclesiastes, and for Billy Graham this is the season of coping with the toll of time. Getting around is harder; so is recalling familiar Scriptures. Yet rather than simply withdrawing into the shadows to enjoy a few richly deserved quiet years with his wife and family, Graham believes he may have been called to a last mission: to soldier on by faith, praying and pondering and sharing what he has come to see and feel and think in the twilight of his life.
--
All my life I've been taught how to die, but no one ever taught me how to grow old," Graham remarked one day to his daughter Anne Graham Lotz. "And I told him, 'Well, Daddy, you are now teaching all of us'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 11, 2006

George Chapman, R. I. P.

From the London Telegraph, George Chapman

George Chapman, who died on August 9 aged 85, was said to be one of Britain's most remarkable healers; for 60 years he treated patients from all walks of life, including celebrities and members of the medical profession, by going into a state of trance and allowing the spirit of William Lang to "operate" through him.
---
Chapman's "surgery" on his patients was carried out on their spirit (or etheric) bodies, from which the benefits were transferred to the subjects' physical bodies. Sceptics may have scoffed, but Chapman's supporters point to many astonishing healings achieved. He is credited with curing an inoperable and malignant brain tumour, among other cancers, as well as with improving various eye conditions and even lengthening a patient's leg. Chapman himself maintained that the purpose of his healing mission was to prove that there was life after death; the healings, he said, were secondary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

More on Waving the Dead Baby

A very young girl, either 3 or 5 depending on the news reports,  thought to have been killed by an Israeli military strike was taken to a hospital in Gaza.

Photographs of her grieving father carrying her to the hospital surrounded by armed guards wer sent around the world by the AP and Reuters.

At the hospital doctors, found no shrapnel and said the young girl apparently died after sustaining head injuries after a fall from a swing.

More death cult propaganda

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

Waving the Dead Baby

'Waving the Bloody Shirt' was a tactic used by Republicans in the period of Reconstruction following the Civil War to gain political advantage by implying that southern Democrats were responsible for much of the bloodshed.  Wikipedia entry

The shirt was often that of a black man, freed by the Civil War, whipped to death by southern Democrats, with the bloody evidence being waved by Republicans to win black votes says Michael Gaynor.

Today's equivalent of the bloody shirt are staged photos of dead children and young men being used by Hezbollah to inflame anti-israeli sentiment.    Gerard van de Leun calls it The Weaponization of  Children.   Videos and photographs have become as potent as machine guns and bombs in the War against Terror.

  Dead Baby Qana-2

Who does not feel sick at seeing a photo of a dead baby.  But who parades the same dead body back and forth, sometimes raising the body high above his head. He's called "Green Helmet." The EU Referendum explores here and here., a rebuttal here, update here and here and here with a summary at Qana Director's Cut.

On YouTube, you can watch Green Helmet acting as a cynical movie director, ghoulishly positioning a dead body of a child over and over again for the cameras.

Sadly, many of the mainstream media haven have becoming victims or complicit in spreading such propaganda.  Emotion, they feel, is vital to telling the story.  Few asked whether the photos were genuine.    Reuters, the AP, the Washington Post, Time and U.S. News and World Report have all been implicated.

A blogger, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs first exposed the Reuters photo fraud,  scoring a direct hit according to the Washington Post and shining when the news media get it wrong in US Today.

Reuters was forced to retract 920 photos by freelance Lebanese, undoubtedly Hezbollah,  photographer Adnan Hajj.

Zombie has a taxonomy of Reuters' photo fraud
1. Digitally manipulating images after the photographs have been taken.
2. Photographing scenes staged by Hezbollah and presenting the images as if they were authentic spontaneous news events.
3. Photographers themselves staging scenes or moving objects and presenting the set-ups as if they were naturally occurring.
4. Giving false or misleading captions to otherwise real photos that were taken at a different time or place.

So how are the mainstream media taken in? Laziness in most cases, in some parts, bias, in other cases, anti-Semitism.  I would also guess because the photos are so dramatic,  like the Pieta below.

  Nyt  Taylor  Hicks Photo-1

This beautifully posed photograph by Taylor Hicks of a young man supposedly killed by Israeli bombs, yet remarkably dust-free and still sweating with his hat tucked under his arm was published by the New York Times on July 27, 2006 until forced to make a correction.

Said the NYT
The man pictured, who had been seen in previous images appearing to assist with the rescue effort, was injured during that rescue effort, not during the initial attack, and was not killed.

Gateway Pundit  reports on Dead Man Walking

Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 9, 2006

Tibetan Buddhist Funeral Traditions

From Buddha.net

In Tibet, a Mahayana country, the day of death is thought of as highly important. It is believed that as soon as the death of the body has taken place, the personality goes into a state of trance for four days. During this time the person does not know they are dead. This period is called the First Bardo and during it lamas (monks) saying special verses can reach the person to them.

It is believed that towards the end of this time the dead person will see a brilliant light. If the radiance of the Clear Light does not terrify them, and they can welcome it, then the person will not be reborn. But most flee from the Light, which then fades.

The person then becomes conscious that death has occurred. At this point the Second Bardo begins. The person sees all that they have ever done or thought passing in front of them. While they watch they feel they have a body but when they realize this is not so, they long to possess one again. Then comes the Third Bardo, which is the state of seeking another birth. All previous thoughts and actions direct the person to choose new parents, who will give them their next body.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:05 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Gruesome Profiting from the Dead

A ghastly new industry in China.

China turns out mummified bodies for display

Inside a series of unmarked buildings, hundreds of Chinese workers, some seated in assembly line formations, are cleaning, cutting, dissecting, preserving and re-engineering human corpses, preparing them for the international museum exhibition market.
----
With little government oversight, an abundance of cheap medical school labor and easy access to cadavers and organs — which appear to come mostly from China and Europe — at least 10 other Chinese body factories have opened in the last few years. These companies are regularly filling exhibition orders, shipping preserved cadavers to Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Fierce competition among body show producers has led to accusations of copyright theft, unfair competition and trafficking in human bodies in a country with a reputation for allowing a flourishing underground trade in organs and other body parts.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 8, 2006

Eye Care Pioneer saved 2.4 million eyes

Govindappa Venkataswamy, 1918-2006

With 2.4 million served, the Aravind Eye Care System in India is in a way the McDonald's of cataract surgery: efficient, effective, influential and -- rare for health care in the developing world -- a clear financial success.

It began with one man, Govindappa Venkataswamy, an ophthalmologist who died July 7 at age 87 after a long illness. Dr. V, as he was universally known, created one of the largest eye-care systems in the world, catering largely to the poor in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. He was inspired, Aravind says, by the assembly-line model of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc -- learned during a visit to Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Ill.
--
Its rapid expansion over three decades was not built through government grants, aid-agency donations or bank loans. Instead, Dr. V took the unusual step of asking even poor patients to pay whenever they could, believing the volume of paying business would sustain the rest. Poor people with cataracts in Tamil Nadu can get their sight restored for about $40. If they can't afford that, it's free.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:51 AM | Permalink

Iditarod Legend, Susan Butcher

If you know what the Iditarod is, you can credit Susan Butcher.

She died at 51 in a Seattle hospital after a recurrence of leukemia after a recent stem-cell transplant.

Iditarod Legend Dies of Leukemia.

"What she did is brought this race to an audience that had never been aware of it before simply because of her personality," Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George said.

Condolences to her husband and two daughters.

R.I.P.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:53 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2006

Voodoo Death

"Studying Death is cheerful in a way because there are many things worse," said Dr. Martin Samuels, a neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who some people call the death doctor.

Scared to Death

He's concluded that

intense emotional reactions - including fear, anger, shock, grief, and even relief (or conditions such as brain hemorrhage) - can deluge the heart with adrenaline, causing cells to die and contraction bands to appear on the organ. In extreme cases, such a "nervous system storm" can trigger severe damage, leading to sudden death.

By focusing on the pathways between nervous system and heart, Samuels offers a single explanation for different types of sudden death 

that he calls "voodoo death."

The term "voodoo death" in the title of Samuels's paper is a reference to a 1942 article by the anthropologist Walter Cannon, who recounted how witch doctors frightened people to death in aboriginal cultures merely by pointing a bone or casting a "spell." In reality, Cannon wrote, it was the victims' own belief in the power of the bone to kill that did them in. Samuels believes the "voodoo" death thesis is relevant to today's medicine because the circumstances of brain-heart interaction are not well understood, and in stressful situations, these interactions can potentially kill anyone. "Everyone is at risk," he says. "But 99.99999 percent of people, under acute life-threatening stress, don't die."

Ken Lay died, and now Samuels can't help wondering if his heart collapsed from fright. "Not quite voodoo," one Massachusetts physiologist speculated in an e-mail to Samuels after Lay's death, "but close enough?"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 1, 2006

Zombie rave deaths

The theme of the all night rave party was "Better off Undead".  Many of the thousand who came were dressed as zombies.   

About 20 went to an afterparty that was breaking up at about 7 am when  Kyle Huff who left 10 minutes early only to return with  a can of orange spray paint which he used to write "Now" on the steps leading to the party.  He also came equipped with a handgun, an ammunition belt and pistol-grip shotgun which he used to shoot down and kill seven people before turning the shotgun and killing himself.

Seven people dead

Kyle Huff who came from Whitefish, Montana, wrote a suicide letter to his twin brother in which he

describes a "world of sex" he felt compelled to snuff out.

"This is a revolution brother," the letter says. "The most important thing to happen since man began...

"The things they say and do are just too disturbing to me to just ignore and try to live my life with," the letter continues, describing sex sounds that made him "freak out."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Pamela Waechter, R.I.P.

Raised Lutheran, Pamela Waechter converted to Judaism of her own accord, a few years after marrying Bill Waechter. 

A prominent and effective leader in the Jewish community, she was described as calm, balanced, positive, optimistic, a woman who believed in the basic goodness of people.

How ironic that in her death, she's become an American Jewish martyr, dying for  and as a representative of her faith, at the hands of a crazed, Muslim loner Naveed Afzal Haq who told a 911 dispatcher : "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."

Navad Haq ambushed a 12-year-old girl and pointing a gun to her head, gained entrance through a door locked for security at the Jewish Federation building in Seattle.  Once in he shot and seriously wounded 5 Jewish women and killed Pamela Waechter, 58.

One of the women wounded in Friday's shooting -- hit in the arm as she shielded her pregnant belly -- helped bring the crisis to an end by crawling into her office, calling 911, and convincing her assailant to talk to dispatchers, Kerlikowske said.

"She's a hero in my eyes," he said at a news conference.

I never knew that  Jewish tradition believes that messianic redemption will enter the world through the good deeds of women converts to Judaism, beginning with Ruth, the ancestor of King David.

Obituary from the Seattle Times

Pamela Waechter was buried yesterday. R.I.P.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:18 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Capuchin Catacombs

  Capuchin Catacombs Palermo

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, a museum to the Sicilian dead, date back to 1599 when the monks  first mummified one of their own.  They had outgrown their cemetery and had begun excavating the crypts below which is where I suppose they got the idea of mummification. 

Originally intended just for the monks, it soon became a status symbol to be entombed there.    Some 8000 mummies line the walls, dressed in their best.  It is rumored that Velasquez, the splendid Spanish painter, is among them.  The halls are divided into categories: men, women, virgins, children, priests, monks and professionals.

via Athanaisus Kircher Society where you can find many more photographs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack