July 31, 2012

"Water is Life"

The Remarkable Legacy of  nine-year-old Rachel Beckwith

In anticipation of her 9th birthday, Rachel Beckwith informed her mom that she didn’t want  presents; instead, she asked friends and family to donate $9 to charity: water, so that kids her age in Africa would have clean water to drink.  She fell shy of her goal of $300, which is enough to give 15 people clean drinking water. But she pledged to do better when her 10th birthday rolled around.

Tragically, Rachel was killed in a car accident in Seattle just a month after turning 9.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.  It was just the beginning. 

The Deacon has the video and you will be 'moved, uplifted and humbled' when you watch it..

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2012

Incan child sacrifice mummy 500-years-old still has lung infection

 Incan Mummy 500-Year-Old

Incan mummy frozen after human sacrifice still has infection in lungs after 500 years - giving new insight into diseases of the past

A 500-year-old frozen Incan mummy known as 'The Maiden' was suffering from a bacterial infection when she died - and being able to 'diagnose' the disease could lead to new insights into diseases of the past.  The discovery could help defend against new illnesses - or the re-emergence of diseases of the past. The mummy was suffering from an illness similar to tuberculosis when she was sacrificed on the Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco, 22,100 feet above sea level.

The find - using a new technique of swabbing the lips and comparing the swabs with those of current patients - is the first time a disease has been 'diagnosed' in such an ancient body.  ‘Pathogen detection in ancient tissues isn't new, but until now it's been impossible to say whether the infectious agent was latent or active,’ says Corthals.
The analysis was possible because of the incredible preservation of the mummy, which is so well-preserved there were still lice in her hair.

The team swabbed the lips of two Andean Inca mummies, buried at 22,000-feet elevation and originally discovered in 1999, and compared the proteins they found to large databases of the human genome.
They found that the protein profile from the mummy of a 15-year old girl, called ‘The Maiden,’ was similar to that of chronic respiratory infection patients, and the analysis of the DNA showed the presence of probably pathogenic bacteria in the genus Mycobacterium, responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and tuberculosis. In addition, X-rays of the lungs of the Maiden showed signs of lung infection at the time of death.  The mummies were found in 1999.

‘The doctors have been shaking their heads and saying they sure don't look 500 years old but as if they'd died a few weeks ago,’ said U.S. archaeologist and expedition member Johan Reinhard at the time.

‘And a chill went down my spine the first time I saw her hands because they look like those of a person who is alive.’

It's thought that the children were chosen by the Incas for their beauty and sacrificed in a ceremony called a capacocha.

‘The Incas didn't do this very often,’ according to Reinhard.

‘The sacrifices were children because they were considered to be the most pure.’

They were not sacrificed to feed or appease the gods but, rather, ‘to enter the realm of the gods and live in paradise with them. It was considered a great honor, a transition to a better life from which they would be expected to remain in contact with the community through shamans (holy men)’.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2012

Personalized Head Urns

Personalized Heads as Urns

Cremation Solutions, a Vermont-based memorial products service, is taking the idea of a traditional urn and turning it on its head, using state-of-the-art facial recognition software and 3D printers to produce human faces as realistic monuments.

The company says it can design the urn to look like anyone - all it needs are photos that show the front and side of the face the customer wishes to use.
The heads stand on a marble plaque and come complete with a nameplate.  Each urn is built to order, and customers have the chance to approve the design before each one is sent out.

 Head Urn

There's only one word for it.  CREEPY.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:40 PM | Permalink

Shocking Death

Top scientist, 42, killed when he runs into fallen 11,000 volt electric cable while jogging in wheat field

James Kew was killed when he came into contact with the cable which completed an 11,000 volt electrical circuit with the ground causing electricity to shoot through his body

A leading scientist has died just two days before his birthday after apparently running into a high voltage electric cable while jogging with members of his running club.

 Dr Kew

James Kew, 42, who was a top biologist within the research department at GlaxoSmithKline, is believed to have died instantly following the incident at about 8.40pm last night near Debden Road in Newport, Essex.

Dr Kew was leading the Saffron Striders, based in Saffron Walden, through a wheat field when he came into contact with the cable which completed an 11,000 volt electrical circuit with the ground causing electricity to shoot through his body.

The electrical current was so high it caused the surrounding field to set alight in front Dr Kew's shocked running partners.

Dr Kew suffered severe burns and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Condolences to his family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

The 'Hardy Tree'

-Hardy Tree St Pancras London

Before he became a famous novelist, Thomas Hardy worked at an  architectural firm in London.

The Hardy Tree: an Earl Work of a Great Novelist

It was during this time that an older part of St Pancras Churchyard was designated for almost total obliteration in order to make way for a new railway line. The Bishop of London gave the contract for this work to Blomfield who passed responsibility on to his young student, Hardy. Yet these objects in the way of progress could not be cleared like slums. Even progress occasionally must respect what came before and the removal and relocation of so many middle class graves would almost certainly have caused an uproar if it was not done properly.

The coffins were removed from the site with circumspection and care and were reburied elsewhere (the Victorian English had a horror of cremation). There was no need to move the headstones. Yet although the graves were old and unvisited it would not have been respectful to simply dump the headstones in to the Thames.

The process would have taken a great deal of time and young Hardy, who was 25 when he was given this commission would have spent the best part of a year overseeing the work. Perhaps his experiences in St Pancras church yard later informed some of the bleaker passages in his novels.

Some of the headstones were placed in a circular pattern around a young ash tree in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, far enough away from the site of the railway for them never to have to be disturbed again. Over the decades the tree has, inevitably grown and parts of the headstones nearest the tree have disappeared in to its growth.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:25 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2012

Killed by addict who stole her handbag containing her husband's ashes

Widow, 79, died after being mugged by a drug addict for her handbag containing her husband's ashes

An elderly widow who died after she was robbed of her handbag containing her husband's ashes was allegedly set upon by a drug addict  desperate for cash to fund his habit.

Nellie Geraghty, 79, was found minutes away from her home with the strap of her handbag still firmly in her grasp having suffered a heart attack and serious head injuries form which she later died in hospital.

Drug addict Mark Royle, 37, wrenched the handbag from the 4ft10in lady and 'kicked, punched or stamped' her in the head causing severe damage, a court head today.

She was found lying face down in the mud battered, bruised and unconscious still clutching the strap of the bag that contained her husband’s ashes and over £100 in cash, Manchester Crown Court was told.
Mrs Geraghty was on her way to her regular luncheon club around midday when she was attacked around midday.  But the ‘active and independent’ lady only managed to get 100 yards from her home.  She died from 'a catalogue of injuries to her head and body' less than 48 hours later without ever gaining consciousness Peter Wright QC, prosecuting told the jury.

Her assailant is on trial today for her murder.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 PM | Permalink

"Less than one in seven CPR recipients live to leave the hospital"

What is the goal of palliative care?

Most of us do not want to die in the ICU tethered to tubes — not the quality of life we expect. Yet only 30 percent of us have made arrangements to prevent this from happening. Death and dying is a tough subject for us to broach. Be aware that very few of us will die in our sleep — most have a slow sometimes excruciating decline to death.

As we get older it  becomes important to have a family discussion about what to do if you’re incapacitated in the hospital with not much hope of recovery. Advanced directives such as Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), a Living Will, or Durable Power of Attorney are important decisions to make. Providers are trained to go to heroic efforts to keep patients alive even when all hope is gone.  This often results in severe pain and suffering. There have been many horror stories of the pain and suffering from brittle ribs broken during CPR.

I bet you didn’t know that less than one in seven CPR recipients live to leave the hospital (don’t feel bad, many doctors don’t know this). Other studies show that few elderly patients or patients with cancer live to leave the hospital after CPR. Despite the fact that CPR was developed to resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest, CPR is mandatory to rescue the terminally and critically ill, unless there is an advanced DNR directive. One in five people die in intensive care with the last few months of life being expensive, painful, and futile exercises in medical care.

Thanks to palliative care medicine, doctors as well as medical students are being taught the importance of saying the ”D”-word.  Palliative (or comfort) care differs from hospice care in that it can happen along with aggressive life-sustaining treatments. Palliative care teams of doctors,  nurses, and social workers provide patients and families with the information they need to make painful choices, including decisions to avoid overly invasive care.  What patients and their families want is for doctors to be clearer and more realistic about what’s going on.

The aim of palliative care is for patients to live as well as long as possible while preparing them and their families for death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 AM | Permalink

Fighting against 'Backdoor euthanasia'

It's come to this.  Terminally ill patients who fear being placed on 'routine' death pathway issued with opt-out cards by charity

A British charity now provides terminally ill patients with special cards saying:  'Please do not give me the Liverpool Care Pathway treatment without my informed consent or that of a relative.'

However, in a recent letter to the Daily Telegraph, six doctors who specialize in elderly care warned hospitals across the UK could be using the controversial practice as routine to ease the pressure on resources.  They added that in the elderly, natural death was more often free of pain and distress.  The group warned that not all doctors were acquiring the correct consent from patients and are failing to ask about what they wanted while they were still able to decide.

Here's why.

One professor and consultant to the National Health Service claims The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year.

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.  Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.

He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country. It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.
It can include withdrawal of treatment – including the provision of water and nourishment by tube – and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours.

There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP.

Professor Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Kent, was speaking to the Royal Society of Medicine in London. ...He said: ‘The lack of evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway makes it an assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway.  ‘Very likely many elderly patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP.  ‘Patients are frequently put on the pathway without a proper analysis of their condition. ‘Predicting death in a time frame of three to four days, or even at any other specific time, is not possible scientifically.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The Liverpool Care Pathway is not euthanasia and we do not recognize these figures. The pathway is recommended by NICE and has overwhelming support from clinicians – at home and abroad – including the Royal College of Physicians.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2012

Horror and Grief

 Grieving Tom Sullivan Aurora

This photo of Tom Sullivan realizing that his 27-year-old son Alex was not coming out of the movie theater alive sums up for me the horror and grief the families are living through.    An overwhelming tragedy was distilled into one human moment by the agony of a father who outlived his son.

Three of the men killed  - Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves - died like heroes using their bodies to protect their girlfriends.

 Victims Aurora

Pictured: The tragic six-year-old girl shot dead in Dark Knight massacre as America mourns 12 victims murdered in cold blood

Stories of the victims in The Daily Mail.  Every one's a hart-breaker.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2012

Expose of the grisly trade in body parts


Expose by the International Consortium of Investigative Journallists

Skin, bones and tissue for sale: How the dead are being used for grisly trade in human body parts

On Feb. 24, Ukrainian authorities made an alarming discovery: bones and other human tissues crammed into coolers in a grimy white minibus.
Investigators grew even more intrigued when they found, amid the body parts, envelopes stuffed with cash and autopsy results written in English.

What the security service had disrupted was not the work of a serial killer but part of an international pipeline of ingredients for medical and dental products that are routinely implanted into people around the world. The seized documents suggested that the remains of dead Ukrainians were destined for a factory in Germany belonging to the subsidiary of a U.S. medical products company, Florida-based RTI Biologics.

RTI is one of a growing industry of companies that make profits by turning mortal remains into everything from dental implants to bladder slings to wrinkle cures. The industry has flourished even as its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained and how well grieving families and transplant patients are informed about the realities and risks of the business. In the U.S. alone, the biggest market and the biggest supplier, an estimated two million products derived from human tissue are sold each year, a figure that has doubled over the past decade.

It is an industry that promotes treatments and products that literally allow the blind to see (through cornea transplants) and the lame to walk (by recycling tendons and ligaments for use in knee repairs). It's also an industry fueled by powerful appetites for bottom-line profits and fresh human bodies.

An eight-month, 11-country investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has found, however, that the tissue industry’s good intentions sometimes are in conflict with the rush to make money from the dead.

Inadequate safeguards are in place to ensure all tissue used by the industry is obtained legally and ethically, ICIJ discovered from hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of public documents obtained through records requests in six countries.  Despite concerns by doctors that the lightly regulated trade could allow diseased tissues to infect transplant recipients with hepatitis, HIV and other pathogens, authorities have done little to deal with the risks.  In contrast to tightly-monitored systems for tracking intact organs such as hearts and lungs, authorities in the U.S. and many other countries have no way to accurately trace where recycled skin and other tissues come from and where they go.

Since 2002 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has documented at least 1,352 infections in the U.S. that followed human tissue transplants, according to an ICIJ analysis of FDA data. These infections were linked to the deaths of 40 people, the data shows.

'We have barcodes for our (breakfast) cereals, but we don’t have barcodes for our human tissues. Every patient… should know. It’s so obvious. It should be a basic patient right. It is not. That’s ridiculous.' Dr. Matthew Kuehnert, the CDC’s director of blood and biologics

One of the weaknesses of the tissue-monitoring system is the secrecy and complexity that comes with the cross-border exchange of body parts.
Cadaver bone — harvested from the dead and replaced with PVC piping for burial — is sculpted like pieces of hardwood into screws and anchors for dozens of orthopedic and dental applications.  Or the bone is ground down and mixed with chemicals to form strong surgical glues that are advertised as being better than the artificial variety.

'At the basic level what we are doing to the body, it’s a very physical - and I imagine some would say a very grotesque - thing,' said Chris Truitt, a former RTI employee in Wisconsin.  'We are pulling out arm bones. We are pulling out leg bones. We are cutting the chest open to pull the heart out to get at the valves. We are pulling veins out from the inside of skin.'  Whole tendons, scrubbed cleaned and rendered safe for transplant, are used to return injured athletes to the field of play.
In practice, though, because the U.S. supplies an estimated two-thirds of the world’s human-tissue-product needs, the FDA has effectively been left to act as sheriff for much of the planet. Foreign tissue establishments that wish to export products to the U.S. are required to register with the FDA.

Yet of the 340 foreign tissue establishments registered with the FDA, only about 7 percent have an inspection record in the FDA database, an ICIJ analysis shows. The FDA has never shut one down due to concern over illicit activities.  The data also shows that about 35 percent of active registered U.S. tissue banks have no inspection record in the FDA database.

'On the way to the cemetery, when we were in the hearse, one of his feet — we noticed that one of the shoes slipped off his foot, which seemed to be hanging loose,' his mother, Lubov Frolova, told ICIJ.    'When my daughter-in-law touched it, she said that his foot was empty.'

Later, the police showed her a list of what had been taken from her son’s body.  'Two ribs, two Achilles heels, two elbows, two eardrums, two teeth, and so on. I couldn’t read it till the end, as I felt sick. I couldn’t read it,' she said.

'I heard that [the tissues] were shipped to Germany to be used for the plastic surgeries and also for donation. I have nothing against donation, but it should be done according to the law.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 AM | Permalink

Stephen Covey R.I.P.

 Stephen Covey

From Forbes, Stephen R. Covey, '7 Habits' Author, Dies At 79

A bright light has gone out today.  Professor Stephen R. Covey dies at age 79

Dr. Stephen R. Covey passed away at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center at 2:15 a.m. after suffering residual effects from a bicycling accident on the steep foothill roads of Provo, Utah in April. He has 9 children and 52 grandchildren and passed away surrounded by his wife, Sandra, and each of his children.

He was the author of the wildly popular “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” that was published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages. He was included among Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans in 1996. I feel comfortable abbreviating the full book name to ’7 Habits’ in the title because everybody and their dog has now written a book playing off of Dr. Covey’s original book.

Yes, he was the first, and he was original.
Dr. Covey and his famous book brought a new language to business….Many of his principles have become cliche, but even though they are commonly used in language, they still aren’t commonly used in practice.

From The New York Times, the Herald of Good Habits

Mr. Covey’s book sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, and also became the first audiobook to sell more than a million copies. After conferring with Mr. Covey over Thanksgiving in 1994, President Bill Clinton said American productivity would greatly increase if people followed Mr. Covey’s advice. More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies flocked to use a consulting company he had founded.

Mr. Covey was a bit baffled by his success. He said he was simply telling people what he thought they already knew: the efficacy of good behavior. All that people had to do was form habits out of their best instincts, he said, calling his seven nuggets of knowledge natural laws, like gravity. They are:

1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think “win-win.”
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the saw; that is, undergo frequent self-renewal.

“We believe that organizational behavior is individual behavior collectivized,” Mr. Covey said.
Stephen Richards Covey was born on Oct. 24, 1932, in Salt Lake City, and grew up on an egg farm outside the city. A promising athletic career was cut short by degeneration in his legs, causing him to use crutches for three years as a teenager.  In an interview with Fortune magazine in 1994, he told of his parents’ constant encouragement. “You’re going to do great on this test,” he remembered his mother saying as he went to sleep the night before a school exam. “You can do anything you want.”

He entered the University of Utah at 16 and earned a degree in business administration. He spent two years in Britain as a Mormon missionary before returning to the United States to earn an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He sometimes preached the Mormon doctrine on Boston Common.
After another missionary stint, in Ireland, he earned a doctorate in religious education from Brigham Young University. His thesis was on “success literature” in American history.

Salt Lake Tribune, ‘7 Habits’ gave business guru Stephen R. Covey fame, fortune
Management guru was praised as one of business world’s most creative thinkers.

Son Sean Covey said his father had been in Montana on a family get-together when he began to decline and was rushed to Idaho Falls, the closest hospital.

"Our family, all nine kids and our spouses and my mom, were able to gather together again to be with him for the last few hours of his life, which is what he always wanted," Sean Covey said in an email.
Lee Perry, a professor of human and associate dean at the Marriott School of Management at BYU, said he first encountered Covey as a missionary when his mother sent him quotes from a 1973 Covey book, "Spiritual Roots of Human Relations." Perry then took a class from Covey as a BYU undergraduate, and when he returned as a professor of organizational behavior, he occupied Covey’s old office.

"Steve was an original thinker but he was also was a great collector of ideas," Perry said. "His real genius was in taking a mixture of his own ideas, ideas imbedded in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and from other academics — primarily in organizational behavior — and creating this ingenious blend that resonated with people."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

July 17, 2012

Marian Cunningham, author of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, dies at 91. R.I.P.

Marion Cunningham, best known for writing cookbooks including The Fannie Farmer Cookbook dies at 91.   

From her obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle

Marion Cunningham, who championed home cooking long before Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart, and became a mentor to many of the nation's food giants, died Wednesday morning at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She was 90.

Mrs. Cunningham suffered from Alzheimer's disease and was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday after having difficulty breathing, said family friend John Carroll, who confirmed her death.

 Marion Cunningham

She is best known for writing cookbooks, including "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook," and teaching culinary classes, where her goal was to demystify home cooking.

Mrs. Cunningham, who spent her early adult years as a housewife with a penchant for cooking in her family's Walnut Creek ranch home, didn't enter into her professional food career until she was 50. Former Gourmet Editor Ruth Reichl later mused that Mrs. Cunningham had completely reinvented herself at midlife and never thought it even remotely remarkable.

"Not only did she know everyone and everything, she was the person you called when you had a triumph or when things weren't going so well," Reichl said, adding that she thought of Mrs. Cunningham as her adopted mother. "She was the person who kept us all together during the early days of the food movement."

Her metamorphosis from amateur to pro started in 1972 when Mrs. Cunningham, an agoraphobic and a self-described alcoholic who had recently quit drinking, let a friend prod her into going on a road trip to Oregon to take a cooking class with the famous Manhattan cookbook author James Beard. Despite her panic disorder, she forced herself to cross the Bay Bridge, leave California and embark on the two-week adventure.

That trip, which Mrs. Cunningham said was the first time she felt a sense of power and hope in many years, was the beginning of a journey that would change not only her life but the Bay Area culinary community.

Amazing how lives intersect.  I learned to cook using the The Fannie Farmer and for that I have to thank a woman whose name I didn't even know before today.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:58 PM | Permalink

Coming Clean in his Obituary

On your deathbed, you'll want to confess too and beg forgiveness from all those you've harmed and from God.

Deathbed confession of cancer victim who wrote his own obituary to come clean about his fake doctorate and how he once stole a safe.

Here is an abridged version of the obituary of Val Patterson published online in Salt Lake Tribune

I was born in Salt Lake City, March 27 1953. I died of throat cancer on July 10 2012…

I had a lot of fun. It was an honor for me to be friends with some truly great people. I thank you. I've had great joy living and playing with my dog, my cats and my parrot.

But, the one special thing that made my spirit whole, is my long love and friendship with my remarkable wife, my beloved Mary Jane. I loved her more than I have words to express. Every moment spent with my Mary Jane was time spent wisely. Over time, I became one with her, inseparable, happy, fulfilled.

I enjoyed one good life. Travelled to every place on Earth that I ever wanted to go. Had every job that I wanted to have. Learned all that I wanted to learn. Fixed everything I wanted to fix. Eaten everything I wanted to eat. My life motto was: 'Anything for a Laugh.'

Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say.

As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest.

Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail.

I didn't even graduate, I only had about three years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters 'PhD' even stood for.
For all of the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I'm sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work.

Now to that really mean Park Ranger; after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again.

To Disneyland - you can now throw away that 'Banned for Life' file you have on me, I'm not a problem anymore - and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this.

To the gang: We grew up in the very best time to grow up in the history of America. The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs, buying a car for 'a buck a year' - before Salt Lake got ruined by over population and Lake Powell was brand new.

TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives. We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody - we did a good job at that…

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments.

My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the 'thief' now - for stealing so much from her - there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

If you knew me or not, dear reader, I am happy you got this far into my letter. I speak as a person who had a great life to look back on. My family is following my wishes that I not have a funeral or burial.

If you knew me, remember me in your own way. If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 PM | Permalink

Grieving Dolphin

I know that elephants mourn their dead, but I didn't know that dolphins did too.

 Dolphin Carrying Deadyoung

In mourning: Dolphin photographed carrying the broken body of its baby in heartbreaking ritual

These are the heart-rending images of a dolphin carrying her dead baby out to sea. The pictures were taken by tourists in China's Guangxi Zhuang region, an area known for of its dolphin-watching tours.

The mammals' mourning ritual is rarely seen - and it is even more rare for it to be caught on camera.

The adult dolphin repeatedly lifted the dead calf to the surface, as if helping it to breathe. It was also moving the calf away from the shore, heading for deeper water.

A large gash was seen across the calf's belly, and it is possible the infant was killed by the propeller of a boat. Ironically, it may have been one of the many boats that take tourists out for day trips. 

Researchers have observed dolphins carrying or pushing stillborn calves or those that die in their infancy. The dolphins show distress and can stay with the dead baby for several days.

Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom have also been observed in whales, elephants, chimps and gorillas.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

If you were facing execution what would your last words be?

From Business Insider which has photos and much fuller explanations behind Famous Last Words Before Executions.

Anne Boleyn: "I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you."

Aileen Wuornos: "I’ll be back like Independence Day."

John Wayne Gacy: "Kiss my ass."

G.W. Green: "Lock and load. Let's do it, man."

Herbert Webster Mudgett: "Take your time; don't bungle it."

Robert Charles Comer: “Go Raiders.”

Gary Gilmore: "Let's do it."

Nathan Hale: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Benito Mussolini: "Shoot me in the chest!"

Robert Alton Harris: "You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the grim reaper."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2012

Heart-shaped tribute like no other

Love is… a heart-shaped wood: Devoted farmer creates memorial meadow to his late wife by planting thousands of oak trees

 Memorial Oaks Heart

A devoted farmer created this touching heart-shaped meadow as a tribute to his late wife - by planting thousands of oak trees.  Dedicated Winston Howes, 70, spent a week carefully planting 6,000 oak saplings after his wife of 33 years Janet died suddenly 17 years ago.

He laid out the fledgling trees in a six-acre field but left a perfect heart shape in the middle - with the point facing in the direction of her childhood home.
The labour of love has now blossomed into a mature meadow - a peaceful oasis where Winston can sit and remember his wife of 33 years.

His meadow cannot be seen from the road and had remained a family secret until a hot air balloonist took this photograph from the air.
Mr Howes, who owns an 112-acre farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, decided to seed housewife Janet’s legacy after she died from heart failure in 1995, aged 50. The pair were married in nearby Stroud in 1962.

He created with the wood using small oak trees next to his farmhouse in the months after her death - marking out an acre-long heart with a large bushy hedge. The entrance to the secret heart is only accessible from a track leading up to its tip.
'We plant daffodils in the middle that come up in the spring - it looks great. I go out there from time to time and sit in the seat I created.

'I also flew over it myself about five years ago.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2012

Looking forward and back

It is highly unlikely that you filmed yourself at 12, but Jeremiah McDonald did and we can enjoy his conversation with his 12-year-old self.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2012

Suicide by Tiger

Suicide by tiger: Man, 20, eaten alive in big cat enclosure after breaking into zoo at night

A man was killed by tigers at Copenhagen Zoo today after he scaled a fence and crossed a moat to gain access to the predators' enclosure.

The victim, who has been identified as a 20-year-old of Afghan descent living in Copenhagen, was savaged by three tigers after he broke into the zoo in the Danish capital in the early hours.

He was found dead surrounded by the Siberian tigers when staff arrived for work.

It is unclear why the man, entered the enclosure but police have not ruled out suicide as a possible motive.
According to Danish media the young man lived alone in a flat near his family in central Copenhagen and was just about to finish high school.

Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet spoke to the young man’s family and relatives earlier today.

‘We have cried all day’, a member of his family told the paper.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 PM | Permalink

“You want to do major heart surgery on an 84-year-old woman showing progressive signs of dementia? What are you, nuts?”

A much discussed article A Life Worth Ending by Michael Wolff writes about his mother who suffering from dementia, "immobile and incoherent.  And filled with rage."

He loves his mother, but her increasing diminishment and the difficulties of finding her a place to live apart from the hospital,  has him pleading for euthanasia.

But within the article are important lessons of things not done.  He ignored his mother's wishes and was carried away by the doctor's plan.

My siblings and I must take the blame here. It did not once occur to us to say: “You want to do major heart surgery on an 84-year-old woman showing progressive signs of dementia? What are you, nuts?”

And my mother protested. Her wishes have always been properly expressed, volubly and in writing: She urgently did not want to end up where she ultimately has ended up. She had enough sense left to resist—sitting in the hospital writing panicky, beseeching, ­Herzog-like notes, to anyone who might listen—but of course who listens to a woman who scribbles such notes?

The truth is you’re so relieved that someone else has a plan, and that the professionals with the plan seem matter-of-fact and unconcerned, that you disregard even obvious fallacies of logic: that the choice is between life as it was before the operation and death, instead of between life after the operation and death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 PM | Permalink

Nora Ephron's Funeral and Her Recipe for Coconut Macaroons

When you plan your own funeral in an Exit folder like Nora Ephron did, you can have the program include your favorite recipes.

Remembering Nora Ephron, Just as She Planned.

Of course there were recipes — different recipes in the programs the ushers handed out. One was for coconut macaroons. “Makes about 22,” it said.

Ms. Ephron had planned the memorial herself, filing the plans in a folder marked “exit.” The program turned out to be poignant at times and uproarious at times, and there were frequent food references — to her roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, for example, and to the collection of at least 10 kinds of jam that she kept in the refrigerator. And, according to her son Max, her resistance to having Thanksgiving dinner early in the day. “We always had it at 7, like civilized people,” he said.
The actor Martin Short called Nora Ephron “sudden, original and hilarious.”  And, he said, she was charmingly, disarmingly direct. He recalled her response when asked to do something she did not want to do — in this case, read a letter last year from the mayor at a Roundabout Theater Company tribute. “How could I ever say no to you,” Ms. Ephron told the person who had asked her to go onstage and read the letter, “and yet I am.”

Mr. Short also mentioned funny lines that Ms. Ephron dropped into conversation, like, “Hazelnuts are what’s wrong with Europe.”
A few minutes later, Delia Ephron said that line had originated with her.

She also said Nora Ephron had opinions. “Was there anyone in the world with more opinions?” Delia Ephron said. “The planet is practically opinion less now.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2012

What happens after death?

This video  presents the common theories of different religions is what exactly happens after we die. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:48 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2012

Short takes on some unfortunate deaths

Restaurant owner who died trapped in walk-in freezer suffocated within minutes after forgetting his cell phone.  Carbon dioxide from the dry ice killed Jay Luther in Nashville in two to five minutes.  The police responded to an alarm from the freezer, but didn't look inside!

Computer programmer, 42, who lost 100lbs after taking up cycling 2 years ago, dies after crashing into a tree during elite race. 

Nicoli Grossi, a computer programmer, had rediscovered a passion for exercise last year, according to his wife, and lost 100 lbs. He would cycle to work every day and take rides along the highway for hours at a time.  Married with one daughter and three step-children, Grossi, 42,  was wearing a helmet on the intense 155 mile Climb to Kaiser, considered to be one of America's ten toughest bike rides.  R.I.P.

Teenager wearing earphones killed by freight train as he walked on tracks because he didn't hear it coming.  Michael Maserang, 15 years old, honor student,  a good kid,  on his way to a flea market to buy some Hot Wheels for his collection,  did something extraordinarily stupid.  If you are going to trespass to take a shortcut by  walking on railroad tracks,  for God's sake, leave your iPod in your pocket.  Condolences to his parents.

The family thought their  pit bull dog was ''protective" and "friendly" but with one swift bite to the head of little 8 month old Tyzel McWilliams, he killed the baby.  The mother said, "…I  really had no reason to think to treat the dog and the baby differently."

A young patient who died of dehydration at a leading teaching hospital, phoned the police from his bed because he was so thirsty.

His mother Rita Cronin, a civil servant told Westminster Coroner's Court that staff tutted at her and repeatedly refused to listen to her concerns that her son hadn't been given vital medication.  At one point he became so desperate and upset that staff sedated and restrained him – and on the night before his death, his mother said, he was not checked on by medical staff, despite being in a room on his own.

Mr Gorny, who worked in Waitrose and was training to be a locksmith and shoe repairer, had survived a malignant brain tumor in 2008. The cancer affected his pituitary gland, which controls the body's mechanisms, such as fluid levels. Part of his treatment included a course of steroids to regulate the fluid levels in his body. These drugs, however, weakened his bones and he was in hospital for a routine hip replacement.

Doctors told him that, without regular medication to control his fluid levels, he would die….But, despite the repeated reminders and insistence by both Mr Gorny and his family, staff failed to give him the tablets and he became severely dehydrated after being refused water.

Pensioner sliced in two after being hit by landing plane as she took short cut across airport runway

An elderly woman was sliced in two when she was hit by a plane as she tried to take a short cut across a runway.  Sinangele Asuza, 78, was struck by a light aircraft on Monday as it came in to land in the town of Ermelo in South Africa's eastern Mpumalanga province.  Police said they believed she was one of three women who had scaled a perimeter fence to collect wood from around the airfield.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

Tsunami stones

The mystic stone at tsunami tide's highest point that saved tiny Japanese village from the deadly wave

This four-foot high stone may look unremarkable, but it is credited with saving the lives of the population of Aneyoshi when the tsunami struck Japan.  Carved into its weather-worn rock is a warning - 'Do not build your homes below this point!' - because they would be at risk from floods in a tsunami.  The villagers obeyed the ancient warning and the tiny community of just 11 houses and 34 residents were rewarded with survival at a key geographical point.

 Tsunami Stone

Aneyoshi, in the mountains of stricken Iwate Prefecture, bears a significant mark of the national natural disaster.

Just 300ft down the hill from where the stone sits is a blue line painted on the road. It marks the point in Japan where the tsunami water reached its highest point - 127.6 feet.

'The tsunami stones are warnings across generations, telling descendants to avoid the same suffering of their ancestors,' IItoko Kitahara, a specialist in natural disasters at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, told the New York Times.

It was a tsunami in 1896 which killed 22,000 people that first convinced the people of Aneyoshi to move to their hilltop retreat and remain there.  After a period of stability the population renewed itself and slowly began moving back down the hill towards the coast, but a then in 1933 another tsunami struck and left four survivors.  It was after that disaster that the stone was erected and the village credits that with saving the village from a tsunami in 1960.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 AM | Permalink

***The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh

At Funerals, Families Add Humor, Foibles to the Eulogy; Memories of 'Banana Head'

Catholic Culture It's Not Actually My Party

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

Momento mori Capuchin

From the London Telegraph's feature on The World's Most Fascinating Corpses

 Capuchin-Monastery Skulls

Capuchin Monastery - Brno, Czech Republic

Before the 18th century, these frugal souls (most of whom are monks) reused the same coffin when a brother died; after the funerary rites were over, each dearly departed was removed from the recyclable casket and laid on the floor.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 AM | Permalink

'Freedom Undertaker'

A Thief boasts that he has robbed the graves of famous composers and extracted their teeth and dentures for his gruesome historical collection of dental works

Ondrej Jajcaj calls himself a "Freedom Undertaker'  and describes how he robbed graves in a YouTube video.

Jajcaj revealed his identity on a website where he describes himself as a 'Freedom Undertaker' and takes viewers on a tour of famous graves in the Viennese Central Cemetery and shows where they have been opened.

In one video Jajcaj gives a tour of his collection of stolen teeth, claiming: 'Now, we come to the major pedestal. On the top are the teeth of Johann Strauss Jr. To the left there are dentures of his wife Adele Strauss.

'To the right, we have rubber prosthesis of Johannes Brahms. Here, I, as an amateur have managed to build illegal historical collection of dental works.'

The two composer’s graves were opened earlier this year and it was found they were missing their teeth, both real and false.

Austrian authorities decided to order checks on the graves of other famous composers buried in the same cemetery, including Beethoven, Schubert and Schoenberg.

When cemetery officials first alerted police about the raids, they decided it was not worth investigating and any crime fell outside of Austria’s statute of limitations.

That was before the disturbing videos went online.  Now they are embarrassed and hunting for the Freedom Undertaker.

 Ondrej Jajcaj Freedom Undertaker

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:32 AM | Permalink

The Kiss of Death


In Barcelona's Poblenou Cemetery, Eugene of My Modern Met, captures this magnificent sculpture and the story behind it..

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2012

"The modern world of scientific technique and human control is wholly inadequate in its response to death"

Jake Meador remembers his grandmother's death when he was only 7 because she chose to reject life-preserving medical care.

One of my favorite stories from my grandma’s last weeks is that after she decided to go off dialysis— meaning she would be dead within a week—one of her nurses loaded up a cart with nothing but fresh fruit and wheeled it down to her room. “Mary,” she said, “you can have as much of this as you want.” Fruit had always been my grandmother’s favorite but it’s strictly verboten for dialysis patients.

In his essay,  You have thought up the wrong word , he recounts a short story by Wendell Berry

All of these images and ideas serve as background for the story told in Wendell Berry’s Fidelity, one of the lesser-known but most touching and evocative of Berry’s short stories. Burley Coulter, one of Berry’s most beloved characters, is dying. Initially, his son and family do what everyone does in such a situation. They check their dying loved one into a hospital. But as they watch Burley dying, they realize their mistake and they realize that the modern world of scientific technique and human control is wholly inadequate in its response to death:

When they returned on yet another visit and found the old body still as it had been, a mere passive addition to the complicated machines that kept it minimally alive, they saw finally that in their attempt to help they had not helped but only complicated his disease beyond their power to help. And they thought with regret of the time when the thing that was wrong with him had simply been unknown, and there had been only it and him and him and them in the place they had known together. Loving him, wanting to help him, they had given him over to ‘the best of modern medical care’ – which means, as they now saw, that they had abandoned him. If Lyda was wakeful, then, it was because she, like the others, was shaken by the remorse of a kind of treason.

This is what Berry expresses so clearly and so perfectly in Fidelity: The fact of death (to say nothing of the grotesque mode of death it has created) demonstrates conclusively the philosophical failure of modernity.  We must eventually come to the end of our tether, the point beyond which our control is of no use, our technology rendered impotent. And when we come to that point, the naked lust of modernity is revealed as the dehumanizing system that it truly is. There are other resources upon which we must avail ourselves at such times: mutual knowledge, home (which must be an emplaced home, not simply a pleasant-sounding sentiment), tenderness, and the greatest of all, love. A system premised on control and exploitation can know nothing of these things.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:41 PM | Permalink

Dying on a Cruise Ship

What happens if you die on a cruise ship?

Holland America offers 100-day-plus "Grand Voyage" cruises, taking the retired and those with a phenomenal amount of vacation time across the globe. Due to the length of these cruises, the average age floats around 75 for passengers on multi-month cruises. When a ship is dominated by septuagenarians prepared for a long journey, a certain number of deaths from natural causes is likely.
Cruise ships are required to carry body bags, and maintain a small morgue. This morgue is not merely additional space in a ship kitchen's freezer area, but a separate area for storing the bodies of deceased passengers. Most ships dedicate more space than needed, featuring individual refrigerated units for six to ten bodies.

The bodies of deceased passengers are unloaded when the cruise ship stops at its next port, but only if the port country is willing to accept the body and issue a death certificate. This can be a very complicated process filled with plenty of paperwork left for those alive, when a friend or loved one traveling with them dies abroad.
In one bizarre case in 2009, an 87-year-old woman died thirty-six days into an 114-night Holland America trip around the world. (This extremely long cruise often sees multiple deaths: three passengers had died on the previous voyage.) The woman's son was accompanying her, and he dealt with the paperwork and arranged the cremation of her body at a nearby port. And then he stayed on board ship for the remainder of the journey, accompanied by the cremated remains of his mother.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:21 PM | Permalink

He faced execution twice and managed to escape both times

This is one of the most fascinating obituaries I've read in a long time.  In the Telegraph, Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld

En route to his execution in Auxerre, La Rochefoucauld made a break, leaping from the back of the truck carrying him to his doom, and dodging the bullets fired by his two guards. Sprinting through the empty streets, he found himself in front of the Gestapo’s headquarters, where a chauffeur was pacing near a limousine bearing the swastika flag. Spotting the key in the ignition, La Rochefoucauld jumped in and roared off, following the Route Nationale past the prison he had left an hour earlier.

He smashed through a roadblock before dumping the car and circling back towards Auxerre on foot under cover of night. He sheltered with an epicure. From Auxerre, friends in the Resistance helped him on to a train for Paris, where he evaded German soldiers hunting him by curling up underneath the sink in the lavatory. “When we arrived in Paris I felt drunk with freedom,” he recalled.

 Count Robert-De-La-Rochefauld

Cycling to Bordeaux to meet a contact who was to arrange his return to England, however, he ran into a roadblock, taken prisoner, and imprisoned at the 16th-century Fort du Hâ. His explanations that he had been out after dark on a romantic assignation were not believed and, in his cell, La Rochefoucauld considered swallowing the cyanide pill concealed in the heel of his shoe.

Instead he faked an epileptic fit and, when the guard opened the door to his cell, hit him over the head with a table leg before breaking his neck. (“Thank Goodness for that pitilessly efficient training,” he noted). After putting on the German’s uniform, La Rochefoucauld walked into the guardroom and shot the two other German jailers. He then simply walked out of the fort, through the deserted town, and to the address of an underground contact.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:22 PM | Permalink