May 23, 2007

As Soon As I Can

Sorry for the lack of posts. Sunday, I had a catastophic software failure on my computer. Since then, I'm scrambling to restore everything I had from various backups. I'll be posting soon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:36 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2007

Four Minutes at the Edge of Space

Many people want to have their ashes shot into space after their deaths.  James Doohan, better know as Scotty on Star Trek did.

In Aye, Aye Sir, I posted how he wanted to be beamed up to the final frontier.  And so he was.

But only for four minutes at the edge of space when the rocket which propelled his ashes and those of 200 others fell back to earth in New Mexico.

Wende Doohan, James Doohan's widow, told the Associated Press news agency her late husband "probably wished he could have stayed".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Remembering Daddy

Joan Didion wrote, "We tell stories in order to live."    We all tell stories.  It is how we storytellers make sense of our lives and what's happened to us. 

Stories are the best way to keep memories alive as Patty Digh knows and writes in Remember Daddy

Besides the loss, obvious though that is to any of us who have suffered the death of someone we love, the worse thing about someone so important dying is the very idea - the very chilling incomprehensible thought - that people will forget them.

By telling his stories, and passing them along to Emma and Tess - and to you - he lives on. That's my job. It is all we have besides small luggage tags with his handwriting, photographs, a red corduroy shirt, his Mickey Mouse watch. Let's pass stories along, shall we?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 19, 2007

The Chemical Sandwich of Doom

That's what Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist, calls photographs trapped inside those sticky magnetic photo albums that used to be so popular. 

Acidic cardboard covered in stripes of acidic glue on the back, smothered in a vinyl sheet that is so chemically volatile it stinks. Oy. Fortunately, this is one of the few hands-on conservation projects that's easy enough for non-experts to tackle successfully

Some other tips from Sally Jacobs in preserving one of a kind family photographs
1. You can't keep it all.  Be your own editor. Don't be afraid to lose the dreck. 
2. If it's worth keeping, it's worth treating right
3. The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory
4. Digital is more fragile than you think, "Scan your prints and print your digitals".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Beautiful Anachronism

From eclexys via The Practical Archivist

I would have loved to read my grandparents’ blogs, seen their photostreams, watched their videoblogs one by one. Beautiful anachronism, and wonderful to experience people whose genes you share, who live in another time that, in some ways, feels more like another place.

To hell with posterity. I love imagining even just one of my grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, or farther-off descendants, reading my blog and this long-ago person snapping into clearer, bizarrely intimate focus.

We’ve leaving voices to echo through time. That is, if bitrot doesn’t set in first. And that, to me, makes blogging somewhat less strange, and somewhat more beautiful.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:49 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

Mass Graves

There's a new day of remembrance set by the Iraqi government.  May 16 has been declared Mass Graves Day .

 Mass Graves

The International Herald Tribune
Traffic stopped in Baghdad's main streets and squares Wednesday as Iraqis observed a moment of silence to mark a new national day of remembrance for the victim's of Saddam Hussein's regime who were buried in mass graves.

The Iraqi government declared May 16 as Mass Grave Day to commemorate the day when the first such grave was uncovered near the Shiite town of Mahaweel, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) south of Baghdad.

Gateway Pundit
has many more details.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2007

Home buyer finds mummified body of former owner

Home-buyer finds mummified body of former owner on couch

A man making his first visit to a home he bought in a foreclosure auction found the former owner's mummified body sitting on the living room couch, police said Tuesday.

Coroners estimate the woman's remains had been there since 2001, when she stopped making payments on the residence in the coastal town of Roses in Spain's northeast Catalonia region.

The body mummified instead of rotting partly because of the salty seaside air in Roses, a Catalan regional police official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

The woman, in her mid-50s, was estranged from her children in Madrid, and no one had reported her missing. She was not identified by officials..

How very sad, to die unnoticed for 6 years and unmourned.

HT to Siggy.

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

May 13, 2007

A more complex Rose Kennedy

In the Boston Globe, The Rose We Hardly Knew reveals through diaries and letters a far more complex Rose Kennedy.

Rose Kennedy

"Well, I am just an old-fashioned girl," Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy would say when someone offered a cigarette or a drink. "I don't drink and I don't smoke and I have a lot of children."

12 years after her death, Rose Kennedy's recently released diaries, letters, and personal papers reveal a more complex figure than she sometimes styled herself. An educated, ambitious woman, she struggled to maintain a sense of individuality in a culture that frowned upon independent women, in a family that considered everything a team sport, in which the women were expected to suppress their ambitions for the team.
Rose Kennedy has been the victim of a kind of affectionate type-casting -- the self-effacing spouse, the proud and grieving mother at the center of, but not quite central to, the iconic family scenes. A face in the frame more than a character in her own right.

Turns out there are a lot of things you don't know about Rose you will learn in a slide gallery that accompanies the piece.
"She was an intellectual, she didn't spare the rod, she played through pain, she was precise with money,  she was image conscious, she was a woman of faith, she worried about Jack, she found peace later on in life."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 10, 2007

Preserving Legacies for Posterity on YouTube

The young and the old have the most free time to spend on the Internet, the young because they have no responsibilities, the old because their responsibilities are over.

I find it a very encouraging sign that more and more seniors are turning to the Internet to preserve their legacies, usually in written form, sometimes orally, often on blogs. 

Using YouTube for Posterity

With the spectacular success of YouTube, more seniors are preserving what they know in video form.  Take Paul Gordon, 92, who wanted to show off the piano he made or Bayle "Bubbe" Shere who has recipes she wants to share.  Then, of course, there's Millie who's been blogging and videoblogging for years now at My Mom's Blog thanks to her son Steve Garfield.

Seniors 65 are the fastest growing segment of people going online probably because everyone else is already there.  39% of all seniors have internet access and once they learn how easy the taping and uploading is, watch out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Plot to Steal Lincoln's Body

I never knew there was a plot to steal Lincoln's body and hold it for ransom back in 1876.

Stealing Lincoln's Body is a new book by Thomas Craughwell published by the Harvard University Press

On the night of the presidential election in 1876, a gang of counterfeiters out of Chicago attempted to steal the entombed embalmed body of Abraham Lincoln and hold it for ransom. The custodian of the tomb was so shaken by the incident that he willingly dedicated the rest of his life to protecting the president's corpse.

This rousing story of hapless con men, intrepid federal agents, and ordinary Springfield citizens who honored their native son by keeping a valuable, burdensome secret for decades offers a riveting glimpse into late-nineteenth-century America, and underscores that truth really is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 7, 2007

Recipes for your Legacy Archives

Since I putting together a book of my mother's favorite recipes complete with photos of her, the dishes and some of the handwritten recipe cards, this article by Ellen Claire Girardaeu stood out.

I can make a fine beef and vegetable soup because Mother wrote out the recipe in minute detail for me, and I can read.

The Perfect Recipe for Warm Memories

The handwritten ones are especially dear to me. They conjure the presence of the people who wrote them. Sharon's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, Bobbye Raye's "petticoat tails" (which I think is just a cute name for shortbread, but the recipe works, while most shortbread recipes don't), Joan's nuclear black bean salad -- all are in the book. But Mother's soup has pride of place.

It is hard to explain exactly how much finding Mother's soup recipe meant to me. Seeing her writing, reading the funny little asides that wouldn't make sense to anyone else and don't make much sense even to me, is like having her standing before me. Maybe the touch of her hand still warms the paper a tiny bit. All I know is that the recipe brings my mother to life for a moment, and that is enough.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Legacy of Pym Fortun

The legacy of the openly gay, charismatic, capitalistic, popular right-wing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn who was murdered five years ago  Sunday is examined by Pieter Dorsman in Dutch Martyrs.

When asked in an interview about death Fortuyn emphatically stated that you can influence the way in which you die and that most people more or less die the way they lived. Being shot in broad daylight shortly after another media appearance does indeed seem to reflect the controversies he caused while he was alive. His mother had presaged events almost four decades earlier shortly after JFK’s death by informing the young Pim that he might one day die as tragically as his political hero.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:28 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 4, 2007

Make a Voice Quilt

From Springwise, a great new idea.

Voice Quilt combines high-tech and high touch to make it easy for people to create highly personal audio gifts for friends and family.

The process is simple. Customers set up an account at They purchase phone time and issue an invitation to friends and family, providing them with the toll-free phone number they need to call to record their message. Phone time costs from USD 9.95 for a MiniQuilt (3-5 Messages, ½ hr), to USD 34.95 for a Community Quilt (40-50 Messages, 3 hrs). The customer then listens to the recordings and creates a playlist. Once the playlist has been finalized, the Voice Quilt is shipped to the recipient on a CD (USD 11.95), inside a wooden keepsake box (USD 79.95 – 139.95), or downloaded from the internet (no extra cost).

Founder Hope Flammer came up with the idea after her best friend’s husband became ill and lapsed into a coma. She accompanied her friend to the hospital every day to visit with him, speaking, laughing and playing his favourite music as if he were awake and participating in the conversation with them. Fortunately he recovered. “I came away from that experienced convinced that loving voices can make a difference,” Hope says. “Preserved for years to come, the greetings and memories of close friends can remind us of special times. A family story, a child's laughter, a best friend's quirky expressions... these are sounds that nurture the spirit.”

Voice Quilt’s strength lies in its simplicity. One person arranges everything online, and the others just dial in whenever it suits them: it's as easy as leaving voice mail. One to set up locally!

  VoiceQuilt Check it out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Gladiators' Graveyard

Gladiators' graveyard discovered in Ephesus in Turkey.

Two pathologists at the Medical University of Vienna - Professor Karl Grossschmidt and Professor Fabian Kanz - have spent much of the past five years painstakingly cataloguing and forensically analysing every single bone for age, injury and cause of death.
And the lack of multiple wounds found on the bones, according to the pathologists, suggests that they had not been involved in chaotic mass brawls. Instead, it points to organised duels under strict rules of combat, probably with referees monitoring the bouts.

But there was also evidence of mortal wounds. Written records tell us that if the defeated gladiator had not shown enough skill or even cowardice, the cry of "iugula" (lance him through) would be heard throughout the arena, demanding he be killed.

"But this (new find) is extremely significant; there's nothing been found in the world at all like it. They've really dispelled quite a lot of myths about gladiators and how they fought."

  Gladiator Crowe

Gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves or condemned offenders.

If a gladiator survived three years of fighting in the arena, he would win his freedom. Those who did often became teachers in the gladiator school; and one of the skeletons found at Ephesus appears to be that of a retired fighter.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 3, 2007

"Dead' Irishman wakes up in morgue

Dead man found breathing on his way to the mortuary

A patient who was declared dead by doctors on Easter Sunday was very much alive when mortuary attendants arrived in the hospital ward to remove his body.

Officials at the Mater hospital in Dublin have begun an investigation. The man’s family had already been told that he had died when staff realised that he was breathing.
"Needless to say, the hospital is very perturbed at what happened.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:25 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Funeral of a Martyr

Three weeks ago in Turkey, five young Muslims burst into a Christian publishing office, bound three Christians hands and feet to chairs, stabbed them repeatedly, then slit their throats.

"There were so many stab wounds that we couldn't count them," Hurriyet quoted Dr. Murat Ugras as saying. "It was clearly torture."

"We did this for our country," an identical note in the pockets of all five young men read, Channel D television station reported. "They are attacking our religion."

According to the newspaper Hurriyet, one of the suspects declared during police questioning, "We didn't do this for ourselves. We did it for our religion. May this be a lesson to the enemies of religion."

The deaths mark the first known martyrdom of Turkish converts since the founding of the republic.

Two of the victims were Turkish converts from Islam; the third was a German citizen.  Christians make up less than 1% of the Turkey's 71 million people.

Ben Witherington posts
a report by Dr. Mark Wilson of the funeral of one of the martyrs.

Recently Dindy [Mark's wife] and I attended a funeral here in Izmir. I have attended many funerals, but this was my first in Turkey. And it was also the first time I attended the funeral of a martyr. I have been teaching and writing about martyrs and martyrdom for many years. ... But such martyrdoms are personally and historically distant.
On Saturday, April 21, Necati's funeral took place on the grounds of an historic Protestant church in Buca, a suburb of Izmir. Necati had lived and fellowshipped in this city for many years, and was well known and loved. (He had portrayed Jesus in a Passion play in the past.) The sanctuary was too small to contain the crowd of around 500 persons who came from throughout the country to attend. So the service was held outdoors on a balmy spring afternoon.

As we entered the church grounds, people were given a picture of Necati to pin on their clothing. Therefore throughout the crowd Necat'is smiling face radiated forth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 2, 2007

Who remembers the 100 million victims of Communism?

May Day is an important holiday in the People's Republic of China and the former Soviet Union and in other communist and socialist countries where it is known as International Workers' Day.

  May 1St-1

I support Ilya Somin's proposal

I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes' millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century's other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so. I suggest that May Day be turned into Victims of Communism Day.

Along with Glenn ReynoldsThe Belmont Club and Dr. Sanity

The Distributed Republic has a May Day 2007  Day of Remembrance for those who lost their lives to an ideology that promised to free the workers of the world but did the opposite.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

"I can't believe my sinuses were that bad."

The real estate agent will never get over this. 

Owner lay dead while pair toured her home

A Janesville real estate agent can't believe she didn't realize that a form on the bed at a house she showed Monday night was a woman who apparently had been dead for two weeks.

"I've smelled death. I know what death smells like," she said. "I can't believe my sinuses were that bad."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 1, 2007

Anonymous Group Suicide

David Samuels explores the increasing popularity of group suicide by strangers who find each other using social networking sites in Japan, Let's Die Together

From 2003 through 2005, 180 people died in 61 reported cases of Internet-assisted group suicide in Japan. (No statistics have so far been made public for 2006.) All but two of these cases have proceeded according to a common blueprint: The victims meet online, using anonymous screen names, and then take sleeping pills and use briquettes, charcoal burners, and tape to turn a car or van into a mobile gas chamber.
“I just didn’t get it,” the reporter said. “How could you end your life with someone you’d never even met before?”

Some 2 million Japanese have purchased The Perfect Suicide Manual  with explicit instructions in 10 different methods .

Whereas in the West, suicide is generally seen as the needless act of desperate souls, or of the terminally ill, in Japan it is understood as a more or less rational decision that can be taken by perfectly sane individuals as well as by groups. Japan has a long history of families committing suicide together, as well as suicides by cults and militaristic groups, including kamikaze pilots, or samurai warriors who suffered dishonor and hoped to wipe the slate clean. What is shocking about the new suicide epidemic is not so much that it is a group activity as that people are choosing to kill themselves together with total strangers. The Perfect Suicide Manual has become the essential text of a decentralized death cult that takes orders from no one, and whose members meet on Web sites designed solely to support and strengthen their common intention to die.
Once online, it is easy for such groups to attract new members from the free-floating population of lonely, curious, or dissatisfied souls who exist in all times and places, and in all cultures. Instead of spending their time in prayer, or listening to sad music, or reading novels, or knitting, or taking care of too many cats, vulnerable and unstable members of society are socialized into virtual communities whose shared vocabulary and values become an antidote to loneliness, even as they propel their members toward death.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink | TrackBack