July 31, 2009

A good death

The monk who died with a smile on his face

 Joseph Vatopedi Smiling Monk

This photo of Elder Joseph of Vatopedi, a monk of Mt Athos, was taken at his funeral.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:08 PM | Permalink

Martyred and Murdered

From TehranBureau

Photos and brief bios of some of the people who died in the post-fraudulent election showdown in Iran

Martyred and Murdered


This is the grave of Neda Agha Soltan shot on the street by a sniper, when all she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted.

Her death, captured on camera and shown around the world, showed the true face of the current regime and inspired some Iranian artists and poets.


40 Days Ago We Died

 I Am Neda

I am Neda

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2009

Last words of Coco Chanel

 Cocochanel Movie Tatou

I'm really looking forward to the new movie Coco Before Chanel by Anne Fontaine starring the extraordinary French actress Audrey Tautou.  It won't be in the U.S. until September 25, but it's being released tomorrow in the U.K,

With it, press articles and trailers to whet our appetite and my desire to see how this movie depicts the remarkable life of an extraordinary woman . 

The Woman who REALLY invented French dressing: New movie reveals a different side to Coco Chanel

Chanel lived till 1971, having spent her final years in her private suite at the Hotel Ritz in Paris.

Fontaine says: 'At the end, she felt a life without a husband and children was a disaster. She was very alone and the day she died, she went up to the concierge and told him: "In about three or four minutes, I'm going to die."

'She went up to her room and was dead five minutes later. She was so much of a control freak in her life that it was no surprise that she had that control in death, too.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Motorcycle dealer dies in motorcycle crash on way to motorcycle rally

Motorcycle dealer dies doing what he loves

Bruce Rossmeyer, whose empire of Harley-Davidson dealerships made him the company's largest dealer, was killed in Wyoming in a motorcycle crash, sources confirmed.

Rossmeyer, 66, of Ormond Beach, was traveling with a group of friends on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota.

Around 11 a.m., Rossmeyer was traveling with a pack of other riders on Wyoming Highway 28, between Lander and Farson. He was the last rider of the group and he was struck by an RV, which strayed into his lane, according to witnesses.

Rossmeyer was on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, one of the nation's largest biker rallies.

In Sturgis, news of his death shocked the many attendees who have arrived at the rally, said Woody Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip Campground, a Sturgis landmark.

"His death is going to change the entire motorcycle industry," Woodruff said. "You have movers and shakers and Bruce was definitely a mover and shaker. He made things happen. You lose someone like that and it creates a big void."

Rossmeyer is survived by his wife Sandy, five children, and many grandchildren.

Condolences to his family who must be deeply shocked.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:01 PM | Permalink

July 29, 2009

Letter to my children

Whittaker Chambers , an American writer and editor, was once a Communist party member and Soviet spy.  After he  renounced communism, he became an outspoken opponent and became most famous or infamous for his testimony against Alger Hiss ten years later, a U.S. State Department employee whom he accused of being a Soviet spy. 

In 1952, Chambers's book Witness was published to widespread acclaim. The book was a combination of autobiography, an account of his role in the Hiss case and a warning about the dangers of Communism and liberalism. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called it one of the greatest of all American autobiographies, and Ronald Reagan credited the book as the inspiration behind his conversion from a New Deal Democrat to a conservative Republican.

President Reagan awarded Chambers posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to "the century's epic struggle between freedom and totalitarianism.

The excerpts below is a letter to his beloved children, from the forward to Witness.

I see in Communism the focus of the concentrated evil of our time. You will ask: Why, then, do men become Communists? How did it happen that you, our gentle and loved father, were once a Communist? Were you simply stupid? No, I was not stupid. Were you morally depraved? No, I was not morally depraved. Indeed, educated men become Communists chiefly for moral reasons. Did you not know that the crimes and horrors of Communism are inherent in Communism? Yes, I knew that fact. Then why did you become a Communist? It would help more to ask: How did it happen that this movement, once a mere muttering of political outcasts, became this immense force that now contests the mastery of mankind? Even when all the chances and mistakes of history are allowed for, the answer must be: Communism makes some profound appeal to the human mind.
The revolutionary heart of Communism is not the theatrical appeal: "Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to gain." It is a simple statement of Karl Marx, further simplified for handy use: "Philosophers have explained the world; it is necessary to change the world."
How did you break with Communism? My answer is: Slowly, reluctantly, in agony. Yet my break began long before I heard those screams. Perhaps it does for everyone. I do not know how far back it began. Avalanches gather force and crash, unheard, in men as in the mountains. But I date my break from a very casual happening. I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. It was shortly before we moved to Alger Hiss's apartment in Washington. My daughter was in her high chair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the Hoor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear-those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: "No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design." The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.
The crisis of Communism exists to the degree in which it has failed to free the peoples that it rules from God. Nobody knows this better than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which it is indifferent to God. It exists to the degree in which the Western world 'actually shares Communism's materialist vision, is so dazzled by the logic of the materialist interpretation of history, politics and economics, that it fails to grasp that, for it, the only possible answer to the Communist challenge: Faith in God or Faith in Man? is the challenge: Faith in God.
My dear children, before I close this foreword, I want to recall to you briefly the life that we led in the ten years between the time when I broke with Communism and the time when I began to testify-the things we did, worked for, loved, believed in. For it was that happy life, which, on the human side, in part made it possible for me to do later on the things I had to do, or endure the things that happened to me.

Those were the days of the happy little worries, which then seemed so big
The farm was your kingdom, and the world lay far beyond the protecting walls thrown up by work and love.
Thus, as children, you experienced two of the most important things men ever know-the wonder of life and the wonder of the universe, the wonder of life within the wonder of the universe. More important, you knew them not from books, not from lectures, but simply from living among them.

via American Digest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:01 PM | Permalink

Shopaholic died under her purchases

Shopaholic died under her purchases

The body of an elderly shopaholic was found underneath a pile of clothing and other items after she died of natural causes, an inquest heard.

Joan Cunnane's bungalow was so crammed with purchases it took five visits to the house before she was found.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

Giving from Grief

In the Boston Globe, From grief comes giving

For six months now, Michael, Karen, and their daughter, Julie, have been without Lex, their blond, brown-eyed 22-year-old son, who died after a brain aneurysm on a Tiverton, R.I., beach in January.
A few months after Lex died, Michael decided that his family still had a lot to offer. All they needed was somebody to give it to.

What if these parents without a son looked for a son without parents?

At first, Karen was horrified: She worried her husband was trying to replace Lex. But Julie helped persuade her that this was a way forward, a way to avoid surrendering to grief.

“You make a decision to live or die,’’ Karen says.

And so the Iris-Samuel Rothman Scholarship was born. The Rothmans named it for their parents, not for Lex. They have more than enough reminders of him already.

The scholarship includes up to $10,000 in tuition and other assistance, but that’s not the main thing. In addition to the tuition help, the Rothmans want to be there for young men who might not have anybody else to turn to.
-A few weeks ago, they met Vincent Nguyen, a 21-year-old Vietnamese immigrant from Plano, Texas. Raised by his grandmother after his parents split, the aspiring doctor was alone in the world and heading to Columbia University. The Rothmans were immediately struck by the personal essay in his online application.

But from the very first, it was almost like they knew each other. Vincent needed the Rothmans, and they him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:55 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2009

The Great Convivium

This is the most moving, lyrical and funny encomium I ever read: The Great Convivium by Father Raymond De Souza, being the homily delivered at the funeral Mass for Richard John Neuhaus.

In our first reading the prophet Isaiah has a vision of the Lord's celestial mountain. In the translation we used we hear of a "feast." We used the RSV translation, because it is never a good idea to set the deceased to spinning even before he gets to his grave, which may well have happened had we used the lectionary of the New American Bible, against which Fr. Richard regularly inveighed. There is another translation. In the Latin Vulgate, the word used is convivium. Convivium might just have been Fr. Richard's favorite word

Convivium strictly means "to live together," but it connotes a banquet or feast, indicating that a certain supply of rich food and fine wine are, if not required, at least desired. Isaiah says nothing about cigars. But then Fr. Richard was not a sola scriptura man. Convivium is an essential part of the Christian life. We are not meant to be disciples alone. Convivium is what Fr. Richard created over his whole life, delighting in the company of others and the delightful things the Lord had made. He drew people together who might not otherwise meet -- Christians and Jews, evangelicals and Catholics, Canadians and Americans, clergy and laity, theologians and journalists, entrepreneurs and evangelists, distinguished authors and aspiring writers.
At the conclusion of every convivium, every symposium, every meeting, Fr. Richard would look ahead to the next gathering, which he would announce with the proviso, "should the Lord delay his return in glory."

The Lord will delay no longer; there is no more waiting for Richard John Neuhaus. He wrote, in what turned out to be his valedictory at the end of the February First Things: "The entirety of our prayer is ‘Your will be done' -- not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through time toward home."

We pray that Fr. Richard is now experiencing the fulfillment of that desire, which eye has not seen, ear has not heard. We close the eyes of our dear Father. Our eyes are blurred by tears. We are afraid that when they dry, we may not see as clearly without him to show us. We close his eyes and pray that they may open upon the glory of the Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, at the great convivium of all the blessed. Amen.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2009

John Barry, R.I.P.

New York Times  John S. Barry, Main Force Behind WD-40, Dies at 84

John S. Barry, an executive who masterminded the spread of WD-40, the petroleum-based lubricant and protectant created for the space program, into millions of American households, died on July 3 in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. He was 84.
The company says surveys show that WD-40, the slippery stuff in the blue and yellow aerosol can, can be found in as many as 80 percent of American homes and that it has at least 2,000 uses, most discovered by users themselves. These include silencing squeaky hinges, removing road tar from automobiles and protecting tools from rust.

Mr. Barry was not part of the Rocket Chemical Company in 1953, when its staff of three set out to develop a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for the aerospace industry in a small lab in San Diego. It took them 40 attempts to work out the water displacement formula. The name WD-40 stands for “water displacement, formulation successful in 40th attempt.”
Under Mr. Barry’s leadership, annual sales increased from $2 million in 1970 to $91 million in 1990. WD-40 reported sales of $317 million in 160 countries in its most recent fiscal year.

 John Barry

"You only need two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the tape".  Clint Eastwood says it best.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 PM | Permalink

"The crippling recession is even haunting the dead across the United States."

Bodies stack up as California counts cost of funerals

Bodies left unclaimed, cadavers stacked high in morgues and burial rates tumbling as loved ones cut funeral costs: the crippling recession is even haunting the dead across the United States.
In Los Angeles, the local coroner's office has witnessed an unprecedented spike in the number of corpses unclaimed by families who cannot afford the costs of a burial or cremation.

"The reason we are hearing from the families is the economic downturn," Los Angeles County Coroner's chief investigator Craig Harvey told AFP. "They tell us they don't have the means to afford funerals."

In the past 12 months, the coroner's office, which is responsible for handling bodies from homicides and suspicious deaths, carried out 36 percent more cremations than the previous year, jumping to 712 from 525. At the Los Angeles County morgue meanwhile, the cremation figure rose by 25 percent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

"The lights are going out in my heart"

A fugitive couple who stole a yacht apparently starved to death after it was damaged in a storm.

The story of their slow, agonising death was detailed in a vivid diary found on board.

Sharon Arthurs-Chegini, 46, wrote: 'The lights are going out in my heart.

We have not eaten for four weeks. I dream of my mum's steak and kidney pie, roast dinner and sausage and mash.'

An inquest in Truro, Cornwall, was told that the former interior designer and her lover Peter Clarke, 49, had enjoyed a 'champagne and cocaine' lifestyle beyond their means.

They stole the yacht, the Skipper VII, while they were on the run in Portugal after skipping bail for a previous boat theft from Mylor harbour in Cornwall.

Months later, the Skipper was found adrift off the coast of Senegal, West Africa, with their bodies on board.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2009

Six questions

Rod Dreher points to the documentary "Anna' where Russian filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov asked his daughter the same questions each year from the time she was six until she was 17 and so documenting her growing moral awareness and maturity.

For young parents, this is a great way to capture the lives of your children over time

Here are the six questions:

What do you love the most?

What do you hate the most?

What scares you the most?

What do you want more than anything right now?

What do you expect from life?

What does the homeland mean to you?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Home Burials

Advocates say the number of home funerals, where everything from caring for the dead to the visiting hours to the building of the coffin is done at home, has soared in the last five years, putting the funerals “where home births were 30 years ago,” according to Chuck Lakin, a home funeral proponent and coffin builder in Waterville, Me.

Home Burials Offer an Intimate Alternative

When Nathaniel Roe, 92, died at his 18th-century farmhouse here the morning of June 6, his family did not call a funeral home to handle the arrangements.

Instead, Mr. Roe’s children, like a growing number of people nationwide, decided to care for their father in death as they had in the last months of his life. They washed Mr. Roe’s body, dressed him in his favorite Harrods tweed jacket and red Brooks Brothers tie and laid him on a bed so family members could privately say their last goodbyes.

The next day, Mr. Roe was placed in a pine coffin made by his son, along with a tuft of wool from the sheep he once kept. He was buried on his farm in a grove off a walking path he traversed each day.

 Home Burial
Photo by Sebastian Hinds in the New York Times

“It just seemed like the natural, loving way to do things,” said Jennifer Roe-Ward, Mr. Roe’s granddaughter. “It let him have his dignity.”

Said another woman whose experience with providing a home burial for her mother surprised her.

“There’s something about touching, watching, sitting with a body that lets you know the person is no longer there,” Nancy Manahan said. “We didn’t even realize how emotionally meaningful those rituals are, doing it ourselves, until we did it.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2009

Henry Allingham at 113, R.I.P.

The oldest man in the world,  Air Mechanic Henry Allingham , British Veteran of World War I died on Saturday aged 113, in his sleep.

John Burns writes the most lyrical obit in the New York Times

An iconic figure to many in Britain, Mr. Allingham did wartime service including stints on land, in the air and at sea. In 1915, he flew as an observer and gunner in the Royal Naval Air Service, hunting zeppelins over the North Sea. He was aboard one of the Royal Navy ships that fought in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, in which Britain lost 14 ships and 6,000 seamen.

He transferred to the western front in France the following year, where he was a mechanic transferred by the naval air service to the Royal Flying Corps, again flying as an observer and a gunner in sorties over the battlefields of the Somme. In later life, he recalled his time in the Somme trenches as the most searing of all his wartime memories.

He described standing in water up to his armpits, surrounded by the smell of mud and rotting flesh. “I saw too many things I would like to forget, but I will never forget them, I can never forget them,” he said.
Snowy-haired and bowed with age, Mr. Allingham carried a wreath of poppies on his lap at the remembrance ceremonies last November. Insisting he lay the wreath himself, he was wheeled forward to the plinth of the Cenotaph, the memorial to Britain’s war dead near Britain’s Defense Ministry, and was assisted by a military aide in placing the wreath.

 Allingham Wwi Vet

For many years, according to family members, he buried his wartime memories, avoiding reunions and refusing even to discuss his experiences with his family.

But as he grew older, he relented, at least as far as agreeing to appear and speak in public. Even then, he continued to resist all efforts to depict him as a hero. On a visit to the Somme in 2006, he was asked how he wanted to be remembered. “I don’t,” he said. “I want to be forgotten. Remember the others.”
London Telegraph

With a clear mind until his own death, Allingham could recall the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Wright brothers' first flight, and seeing WG Grace bat at the Oval in July 1903 – when he scored 15 and 19 in each innings.
He would attribute his longevity to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women" then add that there had only been one woman for him – his beloved wife, who died in 1970.
His experience of the trenches came was when he was looking to salvage spares from the remains of aircraft that had been shot down. "We were moving forward at night," he would recall. "I was very apprehensive. It was dark. One of those nights you got where the night time seems to surround you. There were booby traps everywhere."

Suddenly his foothold gave way: "I fell into a shell hole. It was full of arms, legs, ears, dead rats – a lot of dead, rotten flesh. I was up to my armpits in water. I can't describe the smell of flesh and mud mixed up together. I turned to my left, and that's what saved me. It got shallower to the left, and I was able to lift myself out of the water. I lay there in the dark, not daring to move, cold and with my uniform stinking. I was frightened. I was scared. I was so relieved when it finally got light and I could move."

Despite such a gruesome experience, Allingham counted himself fortunate: "I think I had an angel hanging over my shoulders. I still do, I hope."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 PM | Permalink

Frank McCourt, R.I.P.

Frank McCourt,  author of the memoir everyone loved, Anglela's Ashes, died of cancer in New York, age 78.. 

Lyrical, sad and laugh out loud funny, Angela's Ashes won the Pultizer Prize and stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 117 weeks. 

 Frank Mccourt

Matt Schudel writes in the Washington Post

Mr. McCourt, the oldest of seven children, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where his parents had arrived from Ireland in the 1920s. But their luck soon ran out, and they moved back across the Atlantic when he was 4. They settled in his mother's native city of Limerick in a house with no electricity or running water. It was next to a public lavatory, where the entire neighborhood dumped buckets of excrement that often flooded the McCourts' floor.

"The [school]master says it's a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it's a glorious thing to die for Ireland," Mr. McCourt wrote in a passage laced with pathos and humor, "and I wonder if there's anyone in the world who would like us to live."
He had chronic conjunctivitis that left him without lashes on his lower eyelids. At 10, he almost died of typhoid fever and spent more than three months recovering in a hospital. It was the first time he had slept in a bed with sheets or had a full stomach. He also had his first encounter with Shakespeare, writing that it was "like having jewels in my mouth when I spoke the words."
Mr. McCourt's brother Malachy, who teamed with his brother in a two-man revue of stories and songs in the 1980s, said: "In reality, our life was worse than Frank wrote. Insane outbreaks of laughter saved us."

In a 1966 review, With Love and Squalor, Washington Post book editor Nina King wrote,

"WHEN I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

It takes a tough reviewer to resist quoting this paragraph from the opening page of Angela's Ashes, and it takes a splendid writer to fulfill the promise of those lines. I am not that reviewer, but Frank McCourt is definitely that writer. This memoir is an instant classic of the genre -- all the more remarkable for being the 66-year-old McCourt's first book.

New York Times

Critics, enchanted by Mr. McCourt’s language and gripped by his story, delivered the kind of reviews that writers can only dream of. But the book was ultimately a word-of-mouth success.-

It was “Angela’s Ashes” that loomed over all things McCourt, however, and constituted a transformative experience for its author.

Speaking to students at Bay Shore High School on Long Island in 1997, he said, “I learned the significance of my own insignificant life.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2009

Time Capsules

The Past is Alive in Time Capsules

Most of us want to be remembered, appreciated, and looked up to. We want a part of our past to be left behind for others to find and to ponder. The existence of time capsules has allowed us to do this.
there are those that are unintentional and wind up being discovered thousands of years later after they were placed in the ground

1939Timecapsulecupaloy 1

See what's in some famous time capsules at  the link.

Wow! There's an International Time Capsule Society

Via Neatorama

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 PM | Permalink

July 16, 2009

Major Victor Warren, R.I.P.

Ah, such men.  Another fascinating obituary from the London Telegraph, Major Victor Warren

Major Victor Warren, who has died aged 90, commanded an Indian mule company which journeyed by train from the foot of the Khyber Pass to Karachi, sailed to Iraq and then made a 600-mile march through northern Syria to Tripoli in Lebanon; finally, it landed in Italy to play a vital role in supplying forward infantry units with ammunition and blankets at the battle of Monte Cassino.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 PM | Permalink

" Hundreds of unidentified dead bodies are being held in Tehran's morgues"

Bodies piling up

The on-line Farsi-language newspaper, Nooroz, reports that hundreds of unidentified dead bodies are being held in Tehran's morgues. One of the few official organs providing information on the detainees is the office of unidentified dead persons, which has summoned some families to various morgues around the city to determine whether their loved ones are among the dead. Nooroz newspaper reports that those families, who find their sons or daughters among the countless corpses, are threatened and pressured into signing statements attesting that their family members died in car crashes or as a result of other ordinary, run of the mill accidents. Unless the families sign these statements, the cherished bodies of their loved ones are withheld from them.

One person who reportedly visited the morgue in south-west Tehran [which in the past had been used only for the storage of fruits and dairy products]reports to Nooroz that she was presented with an album containing hundreds of pictures of the dead and was told to try and find her child among these images. This woman reports that, as she was leaving the morgue, she saw hundreds of dead bodies piled on top of one another.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2009

Camouflage Angel

A model of a woman that we all should know about 

Camouflage Angel’ Spends Last Moments With U.S. Combat Casualties

The emergency-room trauma call and the medical staff's immediate action upon his arrival is only a memory to her now; sitting quietly at the bedside of her brother-in-arms, she carefully takes his hand, thanking him for his service and promising she will not leave his side.
He is a critically injured combat casualty, and she is Army Sgt. Jennifer Watson of the Casualty Liaison Team here.

Although a somber scene, it is not an uncommon one for the Peru, Ind., native, who in addition to her primary duties throughout the last 14 months, has taken it upon herself to ensure no U.S. casualty passes away alone. Holding each of their hands, she sits with them until the end, no matter the day or the hour.

"It's unfortunate that their families can't be here," said Watson, who is deployed here from Fort Campbell, Ky. "So I took it upon myself to step up and be that family while they are here. No one asked me to do it; I just did what I felt was right in my heart. I want them to know they are heroes.

"I feel just because they are passing away does not mean they cannot hear and feel someone around them," she continued. "I talk to them, thanking them for what they have done, telling them they are a hero, they will never be forgotten, and I explain my job to them to help them be at ease knowing the family will be told the truth."
"Angel" and "hero" are only two of the many titles Watson has been given since arriving at JBB; although she is appreciative of the kind words, she remains humble.

"I am far from an angel," said the sergeant with a smile. "I just do what is in my heart. I guess for me, I think about the family and the closure of knowing the Soldier did not pass away alone. To say I'm a hero ... no. The heroes are my guys who come in [through Hero's Highway]."

Reflecting on her time here, Watson said she is extremely thankful for the opportunity she has had to work side-by-side with the Air Force.

"The staff of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group has done an amazing job since I have been here," she said. "They are incredible. They have done procedures and saved the lives of the most critically injured Soldiers, and have been some of the most professional people I have ever worked with.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink

Death by rubbish truck

Too drunk to go home, a teacher passed out in a wheelie bin and was crushed to death in a rubbish truck.

A teacher who fell asleep in a wheelie bin after a pub crawl was crushed to death when it was emptied into the machinery of a refuse truck.

The body of Scott Williams was found among rubbish when the truck was emptied more than 24 hours later.

Mr Williams, 35, is thought to have climbed into the large communal bin - which is the size of a small skip - to sleep off an evening's drinking in Brighton.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:06 PM | Permalink

Murderers captured on surveillance child care cameras

Horrific murder of parents of 12 children (10 adopted) captured on film.

Byrd and Melanie Billings had a growing brood of adopted children with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities, and took care to make their nine-bedroom house a safe place for them, wiring it with surveillance cameras in every room.

It was those cameras that captured images of the masked men who shot the wealthy couple to death in a break-in executed with chilling precision.

 Billings Family

Authorities made three arrests over the weekend, but the mystery around town only deepened yesterday, when Sheriff David Morgan said that as many as eight people in all may have been involved and that the crime appeared to have “numerous motives,’’ though robbery was the only one he would mention.

“Mr. Billings was well-to-do. He was an entrepreneur and he opened his home to the community. You are asking me to speculate on a motive. That could have been one reason,’’ Morgan said, likening the killings to the 1959 slayings of a Kansas farm family that were chronicled by Truman Capote in the book “In Cold Blood.’’

The video from Thursday showed three armed, masked men arriving in a red van, entering through the front of the house, and then returning to the vehicle. Others dressed in what the sheriff called “ninja garb’’ went in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2009

John Bachar, Rock Climber

John Bachar, Rock Climber, Dies at 51

John Bachar, a rock climber who inspired awe as a daredevil, condescension as an anachronism and eventually respect as a legend, fell to his death Sunday from a rock formation near his home in California. He was 51.

After years of climbing without protection, sustaining his only major injuries in a car wreck, Bachar was confirmed dead by the sheriff of Mono County, Calif., where he lived in the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Bachar soloing near Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2007.

Photo by: Duane Raleigh

Statement by his family
The Bachar family is deeply and profoundly saddened by John’s death. His passion for climbing and respect for the mountain never ceased. He was know to say that if the mountain took him it would be the way he wanted to go. As sad as his untimely death is, we try to take some solace in that. .....

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2009

July 7 Memorial in Hyde Park "Exactly Right"

London Unveils Memorial to July 7 Victims

British officials unveiled a memorial of 52 steel pillars in a London park Tuesday - one for each victim of the July 7, 2005, attacks on the city's transit system.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall attended the memorial service along with families of the victims. The stainless steel columns stand 11.5 feet tall in central London's Hyde Park.

Former Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was in office at the time of the attacks by four suicide bombers on three subway trains and a bus, praised the design of the memorial.

"I think it's just exactly right. Often, it's very difficult to do something like this and get it right," he said.

The daughter of a woman who died in the bomb attacks on London's transit system says a memorial to the victims is "truly incredible."

 Hyde Park July 7Th Memorial

The July 7 memorial says what words cannot

We have become exceptionally good at revering our heroes and this latest effort is as utterly right as the Cenotaph, says Simon Heffer.

The dignity and appropriateness of the memorial in Hyde Park to the 52 people murdered in the London Tube and bus bombings four years ago speak for themselves. The concept of 52 tall, strong bars of steel towering above those who visit the memorial to pay their respects makes a statement about the indestructibility of the human spirit; it also proclaims a resilience against those who would, in one way or another, remove our freedoms.
Yet what the memorial also reflects is a tactful evolution of taste, and an appropriateness not merely to the suffering of the dead and bereaved, but to the spirit of the age. It can often be dangerous, in contemporary art, to strive not to be literal; it risks lack of comprehension on the part of the viewer and, in this case, displaying a lack of respect.

As a people, we are exceptionally good at memorials. Even before the wars and destructions of the last 100 years, we had perfected the art of the epitaph, with its combination of honesty and wit: they are to be found in almost every parish church in England. They accept death as a frequent visitor to the parish; but they accept, too, that life goes on.
It is here that one first notices the contrast between the British way of dealing with such a holocaust and that of other people. Understatement is almost always the key

Centopath London Wwi By Luytens

Lutyens's cenotaph in Whitehall is the ultimate incarnation of this outlook. Like the July 7 monument it was, in its time, devastatingly modern; yet piercing in its simplicity. Erected in wood for the first Armistice Day in 1919, the form proved so instantly popular that the architect was commissioned to have one built in stone for 1920. It reminds us that the grief provoked by nearly a million dead from Britain and the Empire was so immense that no extravagance of words, or sculpted gesture, could even begin to convey it, or the pointlessness of the sacrifice. The gently sloping lines and plainness of the stone have for 90 years embodied the scale of the loss. And three words were all that were needed to convey the nation's reverence for its heroes: "The Glorious Dead".

It is what seems to me to be the direct link in tone and expression between the Cenotaph and the July 7 monument that seals in my mind the utter rightness of the latter. The expression is of the eternal values of liberty, democracy and justice and their ultimate triumph over their enemies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 PM | Permalink

Secrets Swallowed

Joseph Bottom of First Things on The Judgment of Memory

Every memoir of childhood is necessarily overshadowed by parents, and I could find, were I to turn my mind that way, stories of my father's drinking, his pretension, his bounce.

But my father, being dead, is not here either to be triumphed over by my telling of those stories or to defend himself against them. The death of parents leaves their honor in their children's hands, and the cruel accuracies we might fling in anger against them while they are alive seem even more wrong to use against them once they are gone. “To the living, we owe respect; to the dead, only truth,” Voltaire once opined. It's a good line: high-minded, confident, sententious in the way only enlightened French philosophes could manage with any aplomb. But it also feels exactly backward, particularly about those we knew and loved. To squabble with our vanished parents about how they lived their lives seems more than a metaphysical nullity. It is, in fact, a moral failing.

If love is true—that is to say, a true thing: a really existing object to which the universe itself must bend—then there remains a place for reticence, and secrets swallowed, and the dead allowed to keep their darkness to themselves.
Memory may be our best tool for self-understanding, but only when we remember how weak a tool it really is: prone to warping under the narrative drive of storytelling, vulnerable to self-interest, susceptible to outside influence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 PM | Permalink

July 9, 2009

Death by chocolate

Police were last night investigating the death of a man who fell into a vat of melted chocolate.

Factory worker Vincent Smith II toppled into the mix as he was filling the eight-foot deep tank with hot chocolate.

Detectives said the 29-year-old was dumping giant chunks of chocolate over the side when he was hit by a mixing blade, causing a fatal blow.

Three co-workers at Cocoa Services in Camden, New Jersey, rushed to turn off the machine. But by the time they could get to the unconscious man it was too late.

He had been in the chocolate – which was at a temperature of about 120 degrees – for about ten minutes by the time emergency crews managed to pull him out.

My condolences to the family who must hard to deal with the jokes about the manner of his death that was really horrible

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:20 PM | Permalink

Dying with reverence and friends a gentle death

With Faith and Friends, Convent Offers Model for End of Life

For the elderly and infirm Roman Catholic sisters here, all of this takes place in a Mother House designed like a secular retirement community for a congregation that is literally dying off, like so many religious orders. On average, one sister dies each month, right here, not in the hospital, because few choose aggressive medical intervention at the end of life, although they are welcome to it if they want.

“We approach our living and our dying in the same way, with discernment,” said Sister Mary Lou Mitchell, the congregation president. “Maybe this is one of the messages we can send to society, by modeling it.”

Primary care for most of the ailing sisters is provided by Dr. Robert C. McCann, a geriatrician at the University of Rochester, who says that through a combination of philosophy and happenstance, “they have better deaths than any I’ve ever seen.”
“There is a time to die and a way to do that with reverence,” said Sister Mary Lou, 56, a former nurse. “Hospitals should not be meccas for dying. Dying belongs at home, in the community. We built this place with that in mind.”

Dr. McCann said that the sisters’ religious faith insulated them from existential suffering — the “Why me?” refrain commonly heard among those without a belief in an afterlife. Absent that anxiety and fear, Dr. McCann said, there is less pain, less depression, and thus the sisters require only one-third the amount of narcotics he uses to manage end-of-life symptoms among hospitalized patients.
Some days, Dr. McCann said, he arrives with his “head spinning,” from hospitals and intensive-care units where death can be tortured, impersonal and wastefully expensive, only to find himself in a “different world where it’s really possible to focus on what’s important for people” and, he adds, “what’s exportable, what we can learn from an ideal environment like this.”

Several priests have moved into this Mother House like Father Shannon.

He shares with them the security of knowing he will not die among strangers who have nothing in common but age and infirmity.

“This is what our culture, our society, is starved for, to be rich in relationships,” Sister Mary Lou said. “This is what everyone should have.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

In Chicago, cemetery raided

Employees at prominent African-American cemetery in Chicago are now being charged with stripping graves to resell plots and dumping disinterred coffins in a mass site at the back of the cemetery.

Every family's nightmare: Burr Oak Cemetery graves allegedly stripped for profit

R.I.P SHATTERED | Gross neglect that allowed grave desecrations is astounding

At one time, Burr Oak Cemetery was the only place black Chicagoans were sure they could bury their dead.

But on Wednesday, the historic African-American cemetery became the site of a horror story.

As many as 100 human bodies — someone’s grandfather, grandmother, father, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew cousin or friend — were removed from their graves and the plots resold.

“All of us who were working on this for the last week were pretty distraught,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told me.
Officers raided the cemetery, at 4400 W. 127th St, in Alsip, Wednesday morning. Five people were taken into custody.

Dart’s office was notified by the cemetery’s owners of “impropriety” about three weeks ago.

“We thought it would be straightforward financial theft. We found out that graves were being opened and remains were disinterred and removed,” he said.

Dart believes the scheme has been going on for about four years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2009

Died and ignored by the media

Relatives of Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Decry Lack of Coverage Amid Jackson Spectacle

The aunt of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan on the same day Jackson died asked why her nephew's death went virtually unnoticed while the King of Pop got memorial shrines across the country.

"Mr. Jackson received days of wall-to-wall coverage in the media," Martha Gillis wrote to the Washington Post. "Where was the coverage of my nephew or the other soldiers who died that week?"

Gillis' nephew, Lt. Brian Bradshaw, 24, died in Kheyl, Afganistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
He was one of at least 13 U.S. soldiers to die in Afghanistan since Jackson's death on June 25.

Bradshaw's mother, Mary, said she agreed with Gillis, saying the nonstop coverage of Jackson's death has become "totally ridiculous" and laughable.

"I can watch the news many nights and there's no mention of what's going on in Afghanistan or Iraq and there's boys dying over there,

 1St Lt Brian Bradshaw

"He had old-fashioned values and believed that military service was patriotic and that actions counted more than talk," Gillis wrote. "He wasn't much for talking, although he could communicate volumes with a raised eyebrow."

This photo and his  eyes are heart-breaking.  This death stopped me cold.  His aunt is exactly right.

I don't understand the lack of coverage of so many like Lt Bradshaw and others who die in the service of our country.  It is a wonder so many still volunteer and want to risk their lives and, if need be, sacrifice them for love of country and of us Americans.    These are the men whose brave actions go unheralded and whose deaths are unmourned save for those who knew him.

May you rest in peace, Lt Brian Bradshaw.  Condolences to his family

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2009

Unschooled in Transcendence

The Anchoress on Had enough Michael Jackson yet?

The Jackson death has been spectacle, spectacle, spectacle, a freak show long on performance and short on real feeling – not unlike Jackson’s concert extravaganzas – and that makes the non-stop coverage seem completely out of balance and, really, kind of insane. I wonder if that’s because people – who have been told (and told, and told) that this is a huge event in their lives – are simply responding to the prompts. The press says “this is huge; everyone will remember where they were when they heard the news…” and some people think, “well, then yeah, this must be really big. Life defining moment here!” But it all seems more than a little forced. If the cameras are out, people will always come and perform for them.

I wonder if some of this outsized attention to the death of a confused and possibly abhorrent song-and-dance man in a bad wig has to do with people’s need for something “transcendent” in their lives, if what we’re witnessing is a post-modern, post-faith world, unschooled in transcendence, seeking out something -anything- that will make them feel part of a thing “bigger than themselves?” If so, that may be evidence of an epic fail on the part of the faith-community – people of all faiths – a failure in modeling faith in a manner that attracts, rather than repels.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink

Caught and saved

 Man Of The Week

My man of the week, Construction worker Jason Oglesbee dangles from a crane as he stretches his hand to a drowning woman caught in a swirl of water at the base of a dam.  Her boat overturned and her husband died but not before he yelled to his wife to put on her life jacket.

I just told her to hang on tight. I won't let go,' Oglesbee recalled

 Drowning Woman Caught

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2009

Other oddities you may have missed in the Jackson news tsunami

Continuing on my Michael Jackson-free theme, here's some oddities you may have missed.

Two Mexican Midget Wrestlers Killed by Fake Prostitutes

Mexican authorities say two professional wrestlers found dead in a low-rent hotel in the capital may have been drugged to death by female robbers.

Autopsies are being performed on the two midget wrestlers, one of whom went by the name "La Parkita" — or "Little Death" — and wore a skeleton costume in the ring. The other was known as "Espectrito Jr."

Authorities say two women were seen leaving the men's hotel room before the bodies were discovered.

Prosecutor Miguel Angel Mancera said Wednesday that gangs of female robbers are experienced at using drugs to knock men out and rob them, but they may have used too strong a dose.

That may have been because of the wrestlers' small stature, although larger men have also died in similar crimes.

via Gateway Pundit

Woman lay dead in her flat for 5 years before anyone noticed.

It is thought nobody noticed Miss Purves was missing as her pension was paid directly into a bank account and bills were paid by direct debit.

Funeral descends into violence as family members brawl with snooker cues in row over dead man's property

Only hours earlier they had stood alongside one other at the local church to pay their respects.

But no sooner had Harry Gaughan, 69, been cremated than his relatives began fighting over who owned what.

It ended in a brawl involving a snooker cue as one family member attempted to measure the size of the back garde

German cemetery nixes sexualized tombstone for sex worker/advocate's grave.

The 77-year-old artist Tomi Ungerer's parting gift to his friend Domenica Niehoff was to be a gravestone featuring two ample pink marble boulders in homage to her famously top-heavy figure. But those responsible for the Garden of Women cemetery, resting place of Hamburg's most famous women, turned his design down, the paper reported...

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

Karl Malden, R.I.P.

Movie critic A.O. Scott in an appreciation of Karl Malden, A Character Actor of Intensified Normalness

Mr. Malden’s achievement as an actor was both substantial and modest. The paradox of great character actors is that they are at once adaptable and unmistakable, irreducibly individual yet able to be typecast. And Karl Malden, especially in the 1950s, was one of the best. No other guy could ever be the other guy the way he could.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink