July 31, 2008

The World's Biggest Family Tree

He spent 30 years tracing his family tree all the way back to William the Conquerer.

Ah yes, Roy's scrapbooks. The 76-year-old has quite a few of them. He has just finished compiling what is thought to be the world's biggest family tree.

It takes in 9,394 relatives, including King Henry I and Alfred the Great, and stretches back 1,500 years, all the way to AD500 when Cerdic of Wessex (another of his ancestors) was on the throne.

Compiling it has involved three decades - Roy started in 1980 - of poring over old papers from rarely disturbed filing cabinets in county records offices, inspecting inscriptions on graves, and struggling to read old-fashioned script in parish registers and wills. The project has cost Roy £20,000.

That's 45 generations!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:24 PM | Permalink

July 29, 2008

Why do women hate photographs of themselves?

Why do women hate photographs of themselves?

Talking to my friends, I realise that most of us have hundreds of pictures of our children, our partners, our friends, but scarcely a single one of ourselves.

My friend Helen - slim, attractive and stylish - confessed to me recently that she is photo-phobic. “From looking at our photographs, you'd think my husband was married to the au pair. If I died tomorrow, my children would hardly have a single photograph to remember me by,” she says.
“Photographs aren't very representative of what we look like in reality,” she says. “It is just a record of one static moment. People are never completely still like they are in a photograph, and animation changes the way we look. In studies, people are often rated as significantly better-looking in person than in photographs, and that's because of personal qualities, such as confidence.”

Ironically, for all my dislike of cameras, I regret that I have so few photos as records of my personal history. I have scarcely a single picture of myself in my twenties, for example.

And oddly, when I look at old photos of me, ones that I loathed at the time I now think look fine. Where once I saw old and fat, I now see young and slim. So, tell me: why will I still be sitting at the PC deleting this year's crop as usual?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 PM | Permalink

Tombstone for a Horse

 Tombstone Horse

via Brits at Their Animal-Loving Best.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink

Grave Secrets

In London, a new exhibition reveals the hidden secrets of 26 disinterred skeletons.

A new exhibition, Skeletons: London's Buried Bones, looks at the secrets etched into 26 disinterred skeletons, from that of a gout-ridden man who clearly loved his pipe, to a bon viveur who died at the ripe old age of 84, to a pregnant young woman.

Here, we tell their extraordinary, and often disturbing, stories.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2008

UPS driver gets special funeral

UPS driver gets special funeral delivery

A United Parcel Service  driver in Crystal Lake, Ill., was delivered to his grave following his death by one of the company's vehicles, his wife says.

Judy Hornagold said the fact her husband Jeff's body was taken to the cemetery Saturday in his friend's UPS truck was a great tribute for a man who worked for the shipping company for 20 years, the Crystal Lake (Ill.) Northwest Herald reported.

UPS driver Michael McGowan was in charge of the very special delivery, which included moving his former co-worker's casket from a funeral home to St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Did Steve Fossett Fake His Own Death?

Despite the biggest search in America's history for the lost plane of Steve Fossett, it's not been found.

The London Telegraph reports

The lead investigator
Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Ryan of the US Civil Air Patrol has said Fossett, whose body or plane was never found, could still be alive.
She said: "I've been doing this search and rescue for 14 years. Fossett should have been found.

"It's not like we didn't have our eyes open. We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do.
Robert Davis, the lead investigator for Lloyd's of London which is facing a
£25 million payout said

"I discovered that there is absolutely no proof that Steve Fossett is actually dead. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I'm a man who deals in facts, and I don't really care if he is alive or dead, it make no difference to me.

"What I am interested in is the truth - and a proper criminal investigation of this man's disappearance was never undertaken by law enforcement or officials in the state of Nevada."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2008

"She saw her family fall to their deaths in front of her."

Can you imagine the shock of this poor woman who could only look on helplessly as her husband and three children fell 1500 ft to their deaths in the Italian Alps.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2008

Is Elvis in the Forum?

  1800 Year Old Elvis

The Roman Elvis was chiselled 1800 years ago, a marble arcoterion to decorate the corners of a sarcophagus, a stone tomb or burial chamber and will go on sale in October in London by the British auction house Bonhams.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink

Dying Boy 8 'marries' school sweetheart

Dying Boy 8 'marries' school sweetheart in last wish before telling mother: "I can go now."

An eight-year-old boy who had battled cancer for half of his life 'married' his school sweetheart - before telling his mother 'I can go now' and dying just hours later.

Reece Fleming refused to give in to leukaemia until he had fulfilled his wish of a mock wedding to his special friend Elleanor Pursglove.

The two children, who had been friends for years, had taken part in an emotional ceremony in Reece's front room in which he handed his 'bride' a red rose.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2008

Funeral Mass for Tony Snow

"And What a Life He Lived!"

The homily of Fr. David O'Connell, president of Catholic University.

What is the measure of a man? This question has been asked over and again from the beginning of time, throughout history, by all of those who share our human mortality. What is the measure of a man? It is a good question; it is an important question; it is an enduring question; it is an ultimate question when we face the death of someone we know and love. Someone like Tony Snow.

No one of us among his family or friends believes that Tony’s life was long enough. And, yet — in the face of its brevity — we respond in faith, we who are believers, that the measure of a man is not found, as the Book of Wisdom comforts us today, “in terms of years (Wisdom 4:8).” It is, indeed, our faith that reminds us: “the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time. He who pleased God, Wisdom writes, was loved (and) … having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord (Wisdom 4: 7-14).” For the believer, for people of faith, the true measure of a man lies in his efforts to please God.
The passing of anyone we love moves us to question: what is the measure of a man? And whatever your answer may be, whatever our answer may be, we can be sure that the measure of a man is not found in words or titles or length of days but, rather, in deeds done, in a life lived, in a love shared and in the beliefs that made it so. The Gospel of St. Matthew tells us today: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, clean of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the just" (Matthew 5: 1-12) … these are the measure of a Christian man. For Tony Snow, these were the ways he embraced his own advice to “live boldly” and to “live a whole life.”

When he spoke to our graduates last spring, Tony shared an especially poignant moment and profound thought about his latest battle with cancer. He reflected that “while God doesn’t promise tomorrow, he does promise eternity.”

For Tony Snow, that promise has been fulfilled.

Remarks of President Bush with special attention to his children.

For Robbie, Kendall, and Kristi, you are in our thoughts and prayers, as well. We thank you for sharing your dad with us. He talked about you all the time. He wanted nothing more than your happiness and success. You know, I used to call Tony on the weekends to get his advice. And invariably, I found him with you on the soccer field, or at a swim meet, or helping with your homework. He loved you a lot. Today I hope you know that we loved him a lot, too.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Relocating Graves for Personal Gain in Vermont

When a former Wall Street analyst from Greenwich, Conn., set his sights on a lush parcel of 150 acres here, he knew he wanted to live atop its highest peak, surrounded by panoramic views and rippling meadows studded with red clover, Vermont's state flower.

There was only this hitch: A short distance from the site where J. Michel Guite envisioned building a house was a white picket-fenced burial ground with the graves of a War of 1812 veteran, Noah Aldrich, his two granddaughters, and several stones presumed to be grave markers of other family members. Guite was concerned that the cemetery would trouble his children when they played in the tall-grass fields.

The cemetery, he decided, had to go. He gave notice that he intended to move three of the marked grave sites.

The move has inflamed this rural town, prompting a lawsuit, criticism in a local paper, a resolution at Town Meeting denouncing Guite's plans, and a protest banner in the July Fourth parade that said, "Let Noah Aldrich continue to lie in peace." In many ways, the bitterness and anger vented on Guite are about more than one man and reflects a mounting wave of resentment against outsiders seen as snapping up valuable Vermont land with little respect for its heritage.

'Let Noah Aldrich...lie in peace'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:56 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2008

Tony Snow, R. I. P. Great Legacy

Coming back from the weekend, I was shocked to hear that Tony Snow had died.  Of course, I knew he had colon cancer, but death, especially sudden death, is always shocking.  He was a good and decent man who became great by force of his character.  He will be missed by many but no one will miss him more than his wife and three children.  To them, the deepest condolences. 

  Tony Snow

There are a score and many more personal recollections online about the force of his character.

Yuval Levin writes about his "deep and intensely cheerful curiosity."

Bill Kristol marvels at his calm courage and cheerful optimism
His deep Christian faith combined with his natural exuberance to give him an upbeat world view. Watching him, and so admiring his remarkable strength of character in the last phase of his life, I came to wonder: Could it be that a stance of faith-grounded optimism is in fact superior to one of worldly pessimism or sophisticated fatalism?

President Bush said
It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day,” the president said in a statement from Camp David, where he is spending the weekend. “He brought wit, grace and a great love of country to his work. His colleagues will cherish memories of his energetic personality and relentless good humor.”

Gaghdad Bob says
The essence of his soul comes through quite vividly -- his decency, his passion, his generosity, his desire to help lift mankind. ....

I don't know why there aren't more people who are able to convey the joy, excitement, creativity, expansiveness, optimism, hope, compassion, decency, humor, spirituality, and love that animate conservatism. Maybe they just don't get it the way Snow did, and connect all the dots, both horizontal and vertical.

Mark Steyn on his grace, affability and generous advice.

An NRO symposium  on Tony Snow, Happy Warrior

Susan Estrich says Tony Snow was a Gem
Tony had a sweetness about him, a sweetness that, in the mean world that Washington and the media can be, sometimes led him to believe that everyone operated from the same place he did...

He was so earnest, so dear, he liked everyone and assumed the same about everyone else; he was honorable and honest, and assumed it about others.

Kurtz wrote an appreciation of Snow called As Good as His Words.

Here's a David Gregory interview with Snow talking about living and working with cancer.  Kathryn Jean Lopez says it's impossible not to cry to hear Snow talk about his family and the 'depth of happiness' that cancer made possible in his life.

New York Times obituary
Mr. Snow’s death was announced by the White House. When a recurrence of the cancer interrupted his tenure there, he chose to talk about it openly, saying he wanted to offer hope to other patients. His message to them, he said, was: “Don’t think about dying. Think about living.”
His snappy sound bites made Mr. Snow an instant hit among Republicans. “It’s like Mick Jagger at a rock concert,” Karl Rove, the president’s former political strategist, once said.
He also had a musical flair; he grew up playing the flute, taught himself the acoustic guitar and played in an amateur rock ’n’ roll band, Beats Workin’. When they performed at the White House Congressional picnic, Mr. Bush jokingly called them “a bunch of, well, mediocre musicians.”

Washington Post obituary
In his brief tenure as Bush's public advocate, Snow became perhaps the best-known face of the administration after the president, vice president and secretary of state. Parlaying skills honed during years at Fox News, he offered a daily televised defense of the embattled president that was robust and at times even combative while repairing strained relations with a press corps frustrated by years of rote talking points.
ABC News correspondent Ann Compton, president of the White House Correspondents Association, said yesterday that Snow was "the first press secretary who chose to use the podium as a way to argue the president's case -- not just in the president's words, but in his own."

There is a new, disturbing and completely uncivil tendency for some to make partisan remarks, often quite vile, when a person dies.  Ben Johnson describes some of them in "Goebbels With Better Hair."   No one is above criticism, but people who make crude and hateful remarks about someone who has just died should be shunned says Howard Kurtz.  Amen to that.  Fortunately, they are a tiny minority, but shunned they should be.

Better than any words about him are his own and none are better than his commencement address last year to the graduates of Catholic University.  If you read nothing else, read his address, "Reason, Faith, Vocation."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:40 PM | Permalink

Mona - The Angel of Iran

At Freedom of Iran, Amil Imani writes of the Angel of Iran who was hanged for teaching love.

She is called the Angel of Iran, because she lived her short life angelically. The demonic Islamist Mullahs, true to their nature, couldn’t bear an angel in their midst. On June 18, 1983, they hanged the young woman, barely past childhood, for refusing to renounce her belief: the belief in love, justice, and equality for all children of God.

Her name was Mona, a 17-year old Baha’i Character School (Sunday school) teacher. Her pupils loved the indescribably gentle loving teacher who taught them to grow up as exemplary humans with hearts brimming with the love of God, all his people and his creation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

Singing a happy song, the world's oldest blogger dies

Olive Riley began blogging at 108 to share stories from her life in the Australian outback, during two world wars and raising children on her own.   

She delighted in her notoriety because she said it kept her mind fresh.  She died singing a happy song as she did every day.

Ronni Bennet muses on the longevity of elderbloggers and leaves good advice for leaving a final blog post at the ready.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2008

Killed by a Folding Couch

In Russia, a woman upset with her husband for being drunk and refusing to get up, kicked a handle after an argument, activating a mechanism that folds the couch up against a wall.

The couch, which doubles as a bed, folds up automatically in order to save space. The man fell between the mattress and the back of the couch...The woman then walked out of the room and returned three hours later to check on what she thought was an unusually quiet sleeping husband.
Video on the television channel's Web site showed emergency workers sawing away the side panels of a couch to remove a man in his underwear lying headfirst between the cushions.

Emergency workers said the man died instantly.

Woman kills husband with folding couch

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2008

Chuckles the Clown

A classic from Mary Tyler Moore

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

Dying from Overwork

Ruling finds Japanese man died from overwork

A Japanese labor bureau has ruled that one of Toyota's top car engineers died from working too many hours, the latest in a string of such findings in a nation where extraordinarily long hours for some employees has long been the norm. 

The man who died was aged 45 and had been under severe pressure as the lead engineer in developing a hybrid version of Toyota's blockbuster Camry line, said Mikio Mizuno, the lawyer representing his wife

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink

July 9, 2008

John Templeton, R.I.P.

"I focus on spiritual wealth now, and I'm busier, more enthusiastic, and more joyful than I have ever been."

"The question is not is there a God, but is there anything else except God? God is everyone and each of us is a little bit."

"Work at being a humble person."

The above quotes are from John Templeton who died yesterday in Nassau, the Bahamas, at 95.

 John Templeton

Boston Globe/New York Times  obit
John M. Templeton, a Tennessee-born investor and philanthropist who amassed a fortune as a pioneer in global mutual funds, then gave away hundreds of millions of dollars to foster understanding of what he called "spiritual realities,"
In a career that spanned seven decades, Mr. Templeton dazzled Wall Street, organized some of the most successful mutual funds of his time, led investors into foreign markets, established charities that now give away $70 million a year, wrote books on finance and spirituality, and promoted a search for answers to what he called the "Big Questions" in the realms of science, faith, God, and the purpose of humanity.

Along the way, he became one of the world's richest men, gave up American citizenship, moved to the Bahamas, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and bestowed much of his fortune on spiritual thinkers and innovators: Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, the physicist Freeman Dyson, the philosopher Charles Taylor, and an array of prominent Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus.

Telegraph obit
Templeton boasted one of the longest and most successful track records on Wall Street. From its foundation in 1954, his Templeton Growth Fund grew at an astonishing rate of nearly 16 per cent a year until Templeton’s retirement in 1992, making it the top performing growth fund in the second half of the 20th century
The Templeton formula was simple in theory, though not easily achieved in practice.

He looked for bargains — shares selling well below their asset values due to temporary circumstances — and would usually hold on to them for five years or more until they reached what he considered to be their true worth.

He was one of the first to invest in post-war Japan, and one of the first to sell Japanese stocks in the mid-1980s before the bear market set in.

Templeton once described his speculative activities as a “ministry”, and saw the workings of the money market as part of God’s plan for His creation.
In 1973 he inaugurated the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, an annual award to remedy the Nobel Foundation’s omission of religion from its prizes.

A brilliant publicist, Templeton guaranteed that his prize would always be worth more than the Nobel, and arranged for the Duke of Edinburgh to present the award at Buckingham Palace, thus ensuring full press coverage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2008

Too much water

A middle-aged man collapsed and died of water overdose after drinking five times recommended intake.

He collapsed with a fatal heart attack after drinking vast amounts of water to relieve pain from a gum disease.

The divorcee thought he was being sensible by refusing to take painkillers and had no idea he was risking his life by drinking excessively.

He was taken to hospital last December after collapsing at home and doctors initially thought he was drunk on alcohol because he was staggering and slurring his words.

In reality the symptoms were caused by the excess water causing swelling in the brain.

Doctors put salt back into his body in an attempt to counter the effects of his huge water intake, but the following day he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 PM | Permalink

July 3, 2008

Frank Sinatra at top of chart for funeral songs

Other favorites chosen by mourners and noted by Centennial Park, the largest cemetery and crematorium in Adelaide, Australia:

#1 is My Way by Frank Sinatra
#2 Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Only two hymns still rank among the top ten  - Amazing Grace and Abide with Me.

Australians making odd choices for funeral songs

Among other less conventional choices were "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by the Monty Python comedy team, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," "Hit the Road Jack," "Another One Bites the Dust" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

Lying 'dead' in a morgue, priest makes sign of the cross

A newly ordained priest in a ghastly accident was among 10 bodies in a morgue when an attendant spotted him making the sign of the cross.

I resurrected from death after four days in the morgue

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2008

Top ten scientists killed or injured by their experiments

Top ten scientists killed or injured by their experiments

10. Karl Scheele died from tasting his discoveries
9. Jean-Francois De Rozier was the first victim of an air crash
8. Sir David Brewster was nearly blinded
7. Elizabeth Ascheim was killed by X-rays
6. Alexander Bogdanov killed himself with blood
5. Robert Bunsen blinded himself in one eye
4. Sir Humphrey Davy was a catalog of disasters
3. Michael Faradat suffered chronic poisoning
2. Marie Curie died of radiation exposure
1. Galileo Galilei blinded himself

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

The Elements of Furniture Inheritance

So just what do you plan to do with all the stuff you will inherit? 

Tyranny of the Heirloom

You love it; you keep it.  You hate it; you give it away.  You hate it; you keep it.

It seems " Ambivalence and guilt,..are central elements of furniture inheritance"

“It doesn’t go with anything in the apartment,” he says. “It makes no sense whatsoever and yet I’ve kept it because it’s both interesting and he loved it. I’m not crazy about it, my wife’s not crazy about it, but it’s one of the last vestiges of things he’s left.
This settee, she says, belonged to a well-to-do great-great-aunt named Nelly, who lived with her husband and 4-year-old daughter in Philadelphia in the early 1900s. The child died of typhoid. After her death, the couple closed the house and never returned. It remained closed for 35 years. How could Ms. Bryant ever get rid of the red settee? Get rid of the family furniture and you’re sure to lose the stories, she says; you’ll lose your history

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:33 AM | Permalink