June 27, 2010

"My life has not been something to write home about."

Only 19, he made the FBI's most wanted list as a domestic terrorist for his role in the  bombing a University of Wisconsin campus building which killed Richard Fassnacht, 33, and father of three, a physics researcher who was working late.

 Dwghtarmstrong-Obit

The blast inflicted millions of dollars’ worth of damage on Sterling Hall and surrounding buildings. Besides killing Mr. Fassnacht, it injured at least three others. The Army Mathematics Research Center itself sustained minimal damage.

Dwight Armstrong, campus bomber, dead of lung cancer at 58. 

After being on the lam for seven years, he was captured in Toronto.  In a plea agreement to which no contest to a state charge of second-degree murder, Armstrong served two 7 year terms concurrently and was paroled in 1980.  Seven years later, he was arrested in Indiana for helping operate a meth lab, found guilty, sentenced to ten years and released in 1991.

He ended up going home, taking care of his mother and driving a cab.    For 3 decades during the summer months, he operated a juice cart.

According to the New York Times obituary, he gave an interview to The Capital Times, a Madison newspaper in 1992

“My life has not been something to write home about.”

In that same  interview

Dwight Armstrong expressed qualified remorse for the killing, arguing that the bombing itself was a political necessity. “We did what we had to do; we did what we felt a lot of other people should have done,” he said. “I don’t care what public opinion is; we did what was right.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:33 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 25, 2010

Cashing in on despair

The penniless founder of Dignitas 'now a multi-millionaire'

The founder of controversial Swiss suicide firm Dignitas has become a  millionaire since setting up the group, a respected magazine has found.

Ludwig Minelli was virtually penniless when he founded  the Swiss firm 12 years ago but was worth more than £1million by 2007, according to an investigation.

Although assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, it is against the law to  profit financially from someone’s death. 
The investigation by Swiss magazine Beobachter says Mr Minelli is  'skating on thin ice'.

The report, headlined Unexplained Wealth,asks: 'How could a 77-year-old pensioner amass so much wealth?'

It says the former journalist, who is also a qualified lawyer, had no assets in  1998 but is now worth a fortune and owns a large house near Zurich.

Other posts on Dignitas

"It's Like Throwing Out Rubbish"  Dozens of urns containing human remains from Dignitas were found at the bottom of Lake Zurich.

Suicide on Demand for the Healthy is a "marvelous possibility" according to the founder while an employee nurse quit saying she was appalled at the way people were treated and the contemptuous behavior of her boss who was "cashing in on despair".  Minelli, she said, made the clients sign over all their possessions and sold their personal effects to pawn shops rather than returning them to their families.

Among the clients of Minelli who's  planning a Chain of Suicide Clinics are those who are not terminally ill but have conditions such as osteoporosis, epilepsy or mental illness.

 Despair

In Oregon, a psychiatrist wants to get into the "death with dignity" business where, for a fee, people can commit assisted suicide.  Only problem is that Stuart Weisberg's medical license was suspended for drug prescribing irregularities.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 PM | Permalink

Dead from a heart attack after receiving bill for his own cremation

Man dies from heart attack after receiving receipt for his own cremation service

AN elderly Indian man was so shocked to receive a bogus receipt for his own cremation service that he suffered a heart attack and died, The Times of India reported overnight.

Frail Than Singh, 70, was left aghast after reading that he had supposedly been cremated the week before.

But before the anxious dairy farmer could get to the bottom of what had happened he started complaining of chest pains.

Relatives rushed him to the hospital but Singh suffered a massive heart attack and died, The Times reported.

In a macabre twist, his body was subsequently delivered to the same crematorium in Ghaziabad, northeastern India.

Suspicious relatives called in police who believe his death was the result of a sick prank rather than an administrative mistake.

"The element of mischief is apparent and obvious," said senior superintendent of police, Ghaziabad Raghubir Lal.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

Wooden crosses too dangerous

 Woodencross Cemetery
Photo of a wooden cross in Holywell cemetery in the heart of Oxford, U.K.

Grieving families left distraught after council rules that wooden crosses are 'too dangerous' for cemeteries

A council is under fire for banning crosses from one of its cemeteries - over health and safety fears.

Families have been left distraught after North Somerset Council started to remove wooden crosses from its graveyards.

One woman has told how her mother-in-law's grave was targeted after she died of cancer in May.

Liz Maggs placed a 26-inch high wooden cross bearing a personal inscription on Rosemary Maggs' burial plot at the Ebdon Road cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, while the family waited for a headstone to be made.

But when Mrs Maggs, 43, returned to visit the grave with her husband Charles and daughters Zoe, 16, and Danielle, 14, just a few days later she found the cross had disappeared.

She reported it stolen to cemetery staff but they told her it had been removed because it did not meet council regulations.

Mrs Maggs, a carer, was told if she wanted the cross back she had to go and look in an alleyway at the back of the cemetery where items which had been removed from graves were stored.

The fact that the cross had been removed upset Danielle so much that she collapsed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2010

More remains found at Ground Zero

Remains of 72 people found this year at World Trade Center site

New York City officials say a renewed search this year of debris in and around the World Trade Center site has recovered 72 human remains.

The sifting of more than 800 cubic yards (612 cubic meters) of debris recovered from ground zero and underneath roads around the lower Manhattan site began in April and ended Friday.

The greatest number of remains – 37 – were found from material underneath West Street, a highway on the west side of ground zero. The new debris was uncovered as construction work made new parts of the site accessible.

The city began a renewed search for human remains in 2006. More than 1,800 remains have been found.

Some have been matched to previously unidentified 9/11 victims.

Imagine dealing with a funeral or memorial service almost 10 years after the attack on the WTC.  I wonder how those families feel about the mosque proposed just feet away from where their loved ones met their deaths.

Here's what Mark Steyn has to say
A mosque at Ground Zero. We think it symbolizes our "tolerance". They think it symbolizes our submission. Either way, the two most important sites of 9/11 - the scene of the greatest atrocity and the scene of the only good news of the day - will honor neither the victims nor American heroism. Lower Manhattan nine years on is, in its own way, a very telling memorial.

Here's what he had to say about the memorial planned for the site of the downed Flight 93

The memorial is called “The Crescent of Embrace”.

That sounds like a fabulous winning entry - in a competition to create a note-perfect parody of effete multicultural responses to terrorism. Indeed, if anything, it’s too perfect a parody: the “embrace” is just the usual huggy-weepy reconciliatory boilerplate, but the “crescent” transforms its generic cultural abasement into something truly spectacular. In the design plans, “The Crescent of Embrace” looks more like the embrace of the Crescent – ie, Islam. After all, what better way to demonstrate your willingness to “embrace” your enemies than by erecting a giant Islamic crescent at the site of the day’s most unambiguous episode of American heroism?

Okay, let’s get all the “of courses” out of the way – of course, the overwhelmingly majority of Muslims aren’t terrorists; of course, we all know “Islam” means “peace” and “jihad” means “healthy-lifestyle lo-carb granola bar”; etc, etc. Nevertheless, the men who hijacked Flight 93 did it in the name of Islam and their last words as they hit the Pennsylvania sod were no doubt “Allahu Akhbar”. One would like to think that even today one would be unlikely to come across an Allied D-Day memorial called the Swastika of Embrace. Yet Paul Murdoch, the architect, has somehow managed to conceive a design that makes a splendid memorial to the hijackers rather than their victims.
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Four years ago, Todd Beamer’s rallying cry was quoted by Presidents and rock stars alike. That’s all that’s needed in Pennsylvania: the kind of simple dignified memorial you see on small-town commons honouring Civil war veterans, a granite block with the names of the passengers and the words “LET’S ROLL.” The “crescent of embrace”, in its desperation to see no enemies and stand for nothing, represents a shameful modification: Are you ready, guys? Let’s roll over.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

Manute Bol, R.I.P.

Manute Bol, the Dinka tribesman who became a player in the NBA, died at 47 of an adverse drug reaction, the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. called Stevens Johnson Syndrome or SJS.

Anyone, at any age, can contract Stevens Johnson Syndrome,” Jean McCawley, the founder of the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation, said in a statement. “The biggest issue we see is a lack of awareness about adverse drug reactions. Even with the unfortunate passing of Mr. Bol, there have been many incorrect statements made about SJS.”

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome causes blistering of mucous membranes, typically in the mouth, eyes, and vagina and patchy areas of rash. According to the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation, almost any medication including over-the-counter drugs, such as Ibuprofen, can cause the disorder. Most commonly implicated drugs are anti-convulsants, antibiotics (such as sulfa, penicillin and cephalosporin) and anti-inflammatory medications. If left untreated, the disorder can lead to death.

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there is no mandatory reporting for allergic drug reactions, so there’s no way to know how many people contract Stevens Johnson Syndrome each year.

New York Times obituary

 Manute Bol-Obit-

Manute Bol, a towering Dinka tribesman who left southern Sudan to become one of the best shot blockers in the history of American basketball, then returned to his homeland to try to heal the wounds of a long, bloody civil war, died Saturday at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, according to Sally Jones, a spokeswoman for the hospital. He was 47 and lived in Olathe, Kan.
Enlarge This Image

After his N.B.A. career, Bol worked as an advisory board member of the Sudan Sunrise foundation.
The cause was severe kidney trouble and complications of a rare skin disorder known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, said Tom Prichard, who runs Sudan Sunrise, a foundation that is building a school near Bol’s birthplace in Turalei. Bol had been hospitalized since late May when he fell ill during a layover on a trip home from Sudan, Mr. Prichard said

A fine appreciation by the slacktivist  who writes

It was often said that Bol lacked the "killer instinct" that great players need. I suppose that was true -- even if it's a strange thing to say about the only NBA player who ever killed a lion with a spear.

Yes, Manute Bol really did that. As a teenager. He was raised in a Dinka village in southern Sudan, a place shaped by subsistence farming and herding. He killed the lion to protect his herd. With a freaking spear.

But what I think people meant about Bol's "killer instinct" was that he never seemed to take the game of basketball quite seriously enough. He hadn't chosen this game, it had chosen him. It discovered him in that Sudanese village and plucked him out of it, whisking him halfway around the world. All for the sake of a game.

Bol always seemed bewildered and slightly amused by that. Eugene McCarthy said that politics was like being a football coach, "You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important."

Manute Bol never seemed to master the second part of that equation. He always seemed to think we Americans were a little crazy, imagining that this game was such an important thing. It was never the most important thing to him. He had other priorities.

Those priorities weren't something he chose either. They were, for him, the unavoidable consequence of where he came from and the things that were happening there: war, slavery, oppression, genocide.
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he viewed basketball as a way to raise money and awareness to do whatever he could to help the people of his country. Manute Bol earned about $6 million dollars during his decade in the NBA. He spent it all on the Sudan -- backing peace talks and political movements, building hospitals and schools.

"I don't work for money, I work to save people," he said. "I can always make more money, but you can't bring back those that are gone."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 AM | Permalink

Their name is mud

Sometimes the idiocy of public officials is breathtaking.

Arlington Cemetery officials knew about discarded tombstones found in stream

Officials at Arlington National Cemetery were aware that discarded tombstones were lining the banks of a small stream on the grounds for more than a decade but left them in the mud, officials said Tuesday.

The headstones were put in place to support the bank, and officials apparently did not want to remove them for fear of damaging the stream, said Dave Foster, an Army spokesman.

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An Army investigation released this month found a "dysfunctional" and chaotic management system that led to the mislabeling of more than 200 graves and the dumping of at least four urns in a dirt pile. The cemetery's top two leaders -- Superintendent John C. Metzler Jr. and his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham -- were reprimanded and replaced.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2010

"Goose-bump" experiences in 9/11 families

ABC News looks at the eerie signs, premonitions, and sightings of the afterlife and finds that "goose-bump" experiences are common among the 9/11 Families who say they are touched by loved ones lost

Even more astonishing are reports of actual sightings. Monica Iken recalled waking up, to see her husband Michael standing at the foot of the bed.

"He was all glowing, and I just sat up, I said, 'Thank you for coming.' As quick as I said that, he left. But he was smiling. He was telling me he was there with me. It was not a dream. He was literally standing there," Monica Iken said.

"These kinds of things tend to happen with people when people lose someone very, very close to them," said Shear, who added that while there are rational explanations, she doesn't totally discount the possibility that the incidents might be something more. "Obviously, there's so many things that we just do not understand."  I

n the end, McEneaney and the others said they don't mind whether you believe them or not; the messages they have received brought them comfort they deeply needed. 

"It's not about death," said McEneaney. "It's about love and hope and loving connections that continue, even after death."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 AM | Permalink

Decades after they were missing

One man is passionate about doing what the government was unable to do - identifying MIAs from WWII.

Mass. researcher says he has ID'd 7 MIAs from WWII

A private researcher who has labored for years to identify the remains of U.S. service members declared missing in action during World War II says he has matched seven MIAs with the remains of unknowns and he expects to match as many as 19 more within a week.

Ted Darcy's list of five Marines and two sailors missing since the 1944 Battle of Saipan may not sound long. But his announcement Tuesday — the 66th anniversary of the battle's opening day — was remarkable, considering the military's average of confirming 72 such matches annually from all U.S. wars.

Darcy, a retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant from Fall River, Mass., has helped bring home three WWII MIAs since 1991 from burial sites in the Philippines, Hawaii and Newport, R.I. Now he is accelerating his work using computerized databases filled with information he painstakingly entered from two sets of government documents: those containing physical descriptions of MIAs and those containing autopsies of slain service members buried as unknowns.

He hands over his findings to the military, which then tries to verify his work.

It sounds simple, but the identifications are the fruit of 20 years' labor by Darcy, who says he's determined to bring home thousands of missing WWII fighters.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

Exhumation of Bobby Fischer

When the reclusive chess champion Bobby Fischer died in 2008, he left no will for his estate worth nearly $2 million.

But did he leave an unacknowledged child?  Does the child have superior claims to his former wife, the IRS, and other relatives who are now pressing claims?

The remains of chess champion Bobby Fischer are to be exhumed in order to settle a paternity claim, an Icelandic court has ruled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2010

German mummies

 German-Mummies

Wilfried Rosendahl / Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen Mannheim

Before cryogenics or deep-freezing bodies was invented, the Germans went Egyptian.

The Mystery of Germany's Aristocratic Mummies

When they died, Germany noble families of the 18th century did what the Egyptians had done before them: They had themselves mummified. As an increasing number of such well-preserved corpses are found, scientists are trying to find out why.

Baron von Holz had a difficult lot. During the Thirty Years' War, von Holz fought in the Swedish army as a mercenary, but he was not granted a hero's death on the battlefield. He was cut down, rather less heroically, at the age of 35 by either the flu or blood poisoning. And it was only in death, that his situation really improved.

His family dressed his mortal remains in precious calf-leather boots with nailed soles. The warrior was then laid out in a kind of luxury crypt under the castle of Sommersdorf near Ansbach, in modern-day Bavaria. In those vaults von Holz's corpse was privileged with an honor previously reserved primarily for Egyptian pharaohs: His body did not decompose.
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About 1,000 mummified bodies in German noblemen's graves have been discovered and cataloged so far. The vaults contain children as well as adults, their clothes are sometimes still in remarkably good condition. Often the tombs also contain burial objects: Combs, spices, coins, and in one case, a shaving brush.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:14 PM | Permalink

"just for fun" dead

Man Jumps From Bridge "Just For Fun," Dies

A Miami man is dead and another seriously injured after the two jumped off the Card Sound Bridge "just for fun," Thursday afternoon.

Jorge Suarez-Taupier, 24, died from his injuries and his friend, 20-year-old Isaac Morejon, barely survivde the plunge.
Card Sound Bridge is a toll bridge in Key Largo and is about 60 feet above the water.

Authorities said the two men were drinking beer and fishing befor they made the decision to spice up their evening by jumping into the water.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:07 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2010

'Once you have legalised voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow,'

You don't want to go to the hospital in Belgium unless you really have to be there..  It's murder

Almost half of Belgium's euthanasia nurses admit to killing without consent

More than 100 nurses admitted to researchers that they had taken part in 'terminations without request or consent'.

Although euthanasia is legal in Belgium, it is governed by strict rules which state it should be carried out only by a doctor and with the patient's permission.

The disturbing revelation  -  which shows that nurses regularly go well beyond their legal role  -  raises fears that were assisted suicides allowed in Britain, they could never be properly regulated.

Since its legalisation eight years ago, euthanasia now accounts for 2 per cent of deaths in Belgium  -  or around 2,000 a year.

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Last night, Dr Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing campaign in Britain, said: 'We should take a warning from this that wherever you draw the line, people will go up to it and beyond it.'

'Once you have legalised voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow,' he added.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 PM | Permalink

He posted his suicide note on Twitter

How little some people regard the gift of life and the grave seriousness of death.

South Korean man posts suicide note on Twitter

Police found the body of Lee Kye-Hwa, 27, a former disc jockey in a Seoul bar, hanging from a ferry dock on the Han river in Seoul early on Tuesday.

His family reported him missing on Sunday when he posted a short Twitter message in Korean.

"I'm going to commit suicide. To all of you, even those who shared the slightest friendship with me, I love you," he wrote.

"Investigators concluded he had committed suicide," a spokesman for Seoul's Mapo police station said, confirming the wording of the Twitter posting.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2010

Goading a man into jumping to his death

After the heart-warming story of Don Ritchie whose simple kindness has saved some 160 people from killing themselves by jumping into the Gap, it's agonizing to read how impatient and frustrated drivers  goaded a man into jumping off a bridge in England.

A suicidal man who suffered from an agonising skin condition leapt to his death from a bridge after motorists shouted 'jump', an inquest heard.

Paul Cowling, 59, told officers he wanted to kill himself because of the horrendous skin condition which he claimed health services refused to treat.

For seven hours emergency services spoke to him as he clung to the edge of Avonmouth Bridge, Bristol, on bank holiday weekend last August.

As a result of road closures traffic began to build up leading to 30-mile tailbacks.

PC John Clarke, of Avon and Somerset police, told the hearing of the taunts made by drivers.

'At some stage the northbound traffic was stopped. This was a great help in negotiating with Paul.
'But people started shouting 'jump you ****er' and 'jump you b******'.

'Tears were rolling down his face at that point. He had heard them and one of the shouts was re-enforced with a lorry horn sounding.'

What a difficult life he had, may he rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 PM | Permalink

Death by sofa, death by stuff

Only 23, Kelly McDaniel was by all accounts a model employee at the Rothman Furniture store in O'Fallon, MIssouri.

So when he went to retrieve furniture for a customer and didn't return, his manager went looking and found him crushed by a sofa that fell on top of him.

Afraid that if officials discovered the filthy condition of her house that it would be condemned,  Gail Andrews, 61, of Ft. Myers, Florida, didn't call emergency responders when her mother fell and Gail couldn't lift her.  The body was discovered 14 months later after days of searching, lying hidden under piles of garbage and furniture.    The house is now condemned.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:31 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2010

Simple kindness is surprisingly effective to stop someone bent on suicide

God bless this life insurance agent who has saved some 160 people from committing suicide.

Man saves scores of Australians at suicide spot

For almost 50 years, Don Ritchie has lived across the street from Australia's most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called the Gap. And in that time, the man widely regarded as a guardian angel has shepherded countless people away from the edge.

What some consider grim, Ritchie considers a gift. How wonderful, the former life insurance salesman says, to save so many. How wonderful to sell them life.

"You can't just sit there and watch them," says Ritchie, now 84, perched on his green leather chair, from which he keeps a watchful eye on the cliff outside. "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple."

Pretty simple too is his way - a calm demeanor, a warm smile and and an invitation to join him for tea.

A smile cannot, of course, save everyone; the motivations behind suicide are too varied. But simple kindness can be surprisingly effective. Mental health professionals tell the story of a note left behind by a man who jumped off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way to the bridge, the man wrote, I will not jump.

By offering compassion, Ritchie helps those who are suicidal think beyond the terrible current moment, says psychiatrist Gordon Parker, executive director of the Black Dog Institute, a mood disorder research center that has supported the council's efforts to improve safety at the Gap.

"They often don't want to die, it's more that they want the pain to go away," Parker says. "So anyone that offers kindness or hope has the capacity to help a number of people."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 PM | Permalink

Death by varnish

Artist dies after regularly spraying varnish on his paintings in a room without ventilation   

An award-winning artist died after a fall blamed on the effects of a varnish he sprayed on his paintings.

Govinder Nazran, 44, had used the product – Brasslac – in a confined upstairs room with the wrong protective equipment, an inquest heard.
His widow blamed the product for her husband suffering epileptic-type fits and  a coroner ruled his misuse of the product contributed to the tragic fall that killed him.

Father-of-one Mr Nazran, of Saltaire, West Yorkshire, died from head injuries  suffered when he collapsed at his home on Christmas Eve 2008.

He was seen staggering and twitching before the fall, in which he suffered fatal brain injuries.
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Coroner Roger Whittaker accepted the head injuries as the cause of death, but said:
‘The underlying cause was two-fold -  the chronic damage from the volatile solvent and the acute effect of the alcohol intake contributed to that final  fit and fall.’ 

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Whittaker stressed that Mr Nazran  had used the Brasslac incorrectly.

He warned: ‘People using this product and similar products must be extremely careful. They must read the instructions and take precautions.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 PM | Permalink

"Not everything has to be verbal"

A rabbi offers advice in Talking about Dying

“Just sit with her quietly and think about it. She’ll be going to another place, and you’ll be missing her. Not everything has to be verbal. Your thoughts and feelings will get through to her.”

Another approach, he says, is to write a letter. “Visualize the person sitting in a chair and read the letter aloud, even though you won’t send it. You can say things like, ‘Dear Mom, I love you and I care for you, and I want you to know how much I appreciate your life. I want to make our parting good for me and good for you.’”

“In my experience, this really works,” Reb Zalman added. “Your thoughts seep into her awareness, and you’ll get some response — perhaps not directly, but you’ll feel it.”
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He told her that people who’ve had near-death experiences report being “enfolded in unconditional love.” For this woman, Reb Zalman said, “that was a message of joy and hope.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

June 9, 2010

Catching up with Wooden, Linkletter and the Memorial Ladies

I've been too busy gardening to do much blogging so here are a few articles and posts I never got around to.

John Wooden's Love Letter to his wife Nellie.   

The New York Times obituary

John Wooden, a staid Midwesterner who migrated to U.C.L.A. and became college basketball’s most successful coach, earning the nickname the Wizard of Westwood and an enduring place in sports history, died Friday at Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since May 26. He was 99.
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Wooden was a dignified, scholarly man who spoke with the precise language of the English teacher he once was. He always carried a piece of paper with a message from his father that read:

“Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day.”
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Abdul-Jabbar recalled that there “was no ranting and raving, no histrionics or theatrics.” He continued: “To lead the way Coach Wooden led takes a tremendous amount of faith. He was almost mystical in his approach, yet that approach only strengthened our confidence. Coach Wooden enjoyed winning, but he did not put winning above everything. He was more concerned that we became successful as human beings, that we earned our degrees, that we learned to make the right choices as adults and as parents.

“In essence,” Abdul-Jabbar concluded, “he was preparing us for life.”

The National Memorial Ladies help given fallen national salute.

The number is probably around 1,700, but Cheryl Whitfield has never counted.

She doesn't know the number of times over the past couple of years she's donned her uniform of black vest and slacks, crossed her heart with a white-gloved hand as the flag-draped casket passed, or bent to squeeze the palm of an old soldier's widow, whispering a few words of consolation and gratitude for his service.

The Champions-area grandmother just knows, like many of the other 28 women who make up the “National Memorial Ladies,” what she does at the Houston National Cemetery is her mission, her calling.

“I want people to know these guys are not forgotten,” Whitfield says.

Art Linkletter was always a favorite of mine.  May he rest in peace.  The deacon has a clip that captures his charm.  Ann Althouse has another.

She recalls the tragic death of his young daughter who leapt from a window to her death after ingesting LSD.

Mr. Linkletter, rather than retreating from the attention, became a crusader against drug use and an adviser to President Richard M. Nixon on drug policy...
Oh, how we callow youths mocked the poor man who, having lost his daughter, wanted to spoil our good times. LSD became associated with the urge to leap from windows and rooftops — an idea that many took seriously but many others — e.g., everyone I knew — thought was hilarious. Some of us seem to remember a National Lampoon illustration picturing the daughter at her window gazing at a hallucination of Art Linkletter floating in the air and beckoning to her.  I hope we won't go to hell for laughing at things like that.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2010

Grave Matters

So what's it like as an undertaker?

Life and Death as a Mortician

"Sometimes I feel like the Grim Reaper," Steve sighs back out in the hallway. "It's giving me a complex."

While he's hardly death incarnate, he may be the closest living thing to it. If he's temporarily visiting a church, a parishioner is permanently leaving it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

June 2, 2010

"I haven't heard my father's voice since I was 4 years old. It doesn't exist [on tape]. It hurts not to hear him."

If you ever doubted the importance of your personal legacy archives, read Families with a Missing Piece

"I'd give up a year of my life for just half a day with my parents," says Jonathan Herman, a 33-year-old health-care executive in New York. He lost both his parents to cancer before he was 13.

When polled, 57% of adults who lost parents during childhood shared Mr. Herman's yearnings, saying they, too, would trade a year of their lives. Their responses, part of a wide-ranging new survey, indicate that bereavement rooted in childhood often leaves emotional scars for decades, and that our society doesn't fully understand the ramifications—or offer appropriate resources.
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When surveyed about how they processed their grief, adults whose parents died when they were young speak of touchstones. They were helped by looking at old videos with surviving family members, by listening to favorite music and by writing memories of their parents in journals. Some chafed at more-formal approaches; 33% said talking to therapists or school guidance counselors were the "least helpful" activities.
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After their parents die, some of the children might find it painful to look at these last photos of them enjoying life as a family. But Mr. Herman, who lost his dad when he was 4 and his mother when he was 12, says such images can be a gift later in adulthood. For years, he resisted watching the video of his 9th birthday. But he now finds it cathartic to see his mother healthy, hugging him and calling his name.

"I haven't heard my father's voice since I was 4 years old," he says. "It doesn't exist [on tape]. It hurts not to hear him." He admits he feels a touch envious of children who lose parents today, because they have so many more digital images to hold on to.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:54 PM | Permalink

Materialist explanation for near death experiences

The materialist explanation for near death experiences.

A 'cascade' of brain activity as people die could explain near death experiences.

Mysterious near death experiences may be caused by a surge of electrical activity in the brain moments before it dies, it has been claimed.

Doctors believe that a burst of brain activity occurs just before death and this could account for vivid "spiritual" experiences reported by those who come back from the brink.

The researchers suggest this surge could be why some patients who have been revived when close to death report sensations such as walking towards a bright light or a feeling that they are floating above their body.

“We think the near-death experiences could be caused by a surge of electrical energy released as the brain runs out of oxygen,” said Dr Lakhmir Chawla, an intensive care doctor at George Washington University medical centre in Washington.

“As blood flow slows down and oxygen levels fall, the brain cells fire one last electrical impulse. It starts in one part of the brain and spreads in a cascade and this may give people vivid mental sensations.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

Left to die on Mt Everest

British mountaineer, 28, left to die on Mount Everest after going blind as he made descent from 29,000 ft summit

-Mt. Everest

A stricken British adventurer was left to die at the top of Mount Everest after fellow climbers were forced to abandon him before they too became trapped.

Peter Kinloch, 28, was only 600ft into his descent from the summit of the world's tallest mountain when he suddenly began to stumble and complain he couldn't see properly.

Sherpas spent 12 hours helping him carry on through the freezing conditions.

But with his health deteriorating and having managed to descend only another 200 ft, his rescuers faced the horrifying realisation that they must leave him to his fate.
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It is thought his sudden loss of sight could have been caused by a brain haemorrhage.
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'Earlier during the expedition, while dining with the team, he had said that climbing Everest would be the realisation of a dream he had had for 25 years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:38 AM | Permalink