August 30, 2012

Neil Armstrong couldn't afford life insurance

So He Used A Creative Way To Provide For His Family If He Died

When Neil Armstrong and the rest of the crew of Apollo 11 piled atop that huge rocket packed full of fuel in 1969 they were under no illusions that it may have been the last thing they ever did. Unfortunately, neither was anyone who might have insured their lives, and helped provide security for the astronauts families in case they didn't come home.

Back then astronaut captains made about $17,000 a year, NPR reports and a life insurance policy for Neil Armstrong would have run about $50,000 a year, or more than $300,000 in 2012 dollars.
Because some guys from the prior Apollo missions had gotten colds, and mild bouts of queasiness on  their trips, NASA had implemented a quarantine procedure before liftoffs.

So about a month before they were set to go: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin were locked into a Plexiglas room together and got busy providing for their families the only way the could — they signed hundreds of autographs.

In what would become a common practice, the guys signed their names on envelopes emblazoned with various space related images. The 'covers' would, of course, become intensely valuable should the trio perish on the mission. There now often referred to as " Apollo Insurance Covers."

And to ensure the covers would hold maximum value, the crew put stamps on them, and sent them in a package to a friend, who dumped them all in the mail so they would be postmarked July 16, 1969 — the day of the mission's success — or it's failure.

Fortunately, the trip went off without a hitch and all three men went on to live long, healthy lives and all remained alive until Neil Armstrong's death a few days ago.

The covers are still around, and not too hard to find. In 2011, Collectors Weekly pegged their average value at around $5,000.

-Neil Armstrong Postal Cover

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

Anorexic twins die in house fire

 Anorexic Twins

Famous anorexic identical twins die in house fire as troubled, tortured lives end just as they predicted

A pair of identical twins, who became famous through their desperate battle with anorexia, have died in a house fire.

Clare and Rachel Wallmeyer, 42, were killed after a fire broke out in their home in Geelong, near Melbourne, one perishing in the flames, the other succumbing to her severe burns on the way to hospital.

It was a tragic end to two turbulent lives, for the sisters had appeared on Australian TV several times to talk about the anorexia which had turned both into virtual living skeletons and a problem pair for their parents, social workers and the police.

In a poignant review of their lives they said in recent years that they had never been in love, never had a job and they believed that it was only a matter of time before they died – and they would die together.
In an interview with Australia’s 60 Minutes program me the twins gave a startling insight into their eating habits.

Said Clare: ‘Essentially, we don’t eat anything. We might have a piece of watermelon.’

Rachel added: ‘And Diet Coke we have, and coffee.’

They also revealed they took at least 20 laxatives.

Rachel said that Clare was the only person who remained by her side. ‘And at least we’ll die together.’

Clare said: ‘Being with Rachel…makes it somewhat easier to die.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:43 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2012

"Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him.”

Man posing as Bigfoot struck and killed by cars on highway

A man dressed in a military-style “ghillie” suit and apparently trying to provoke reports of a Bigfoot sighting in northwest Montana was struck by two cars and killed, authorities said.
He was trying to make people think he was Sasquatch so people would call in a Sasquatch sighting,” Schneider told the Daily Inter Lake on Monday. “You can’t make it up. I haven’t seen or heard of anything like this before. Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him.”


Big Foot impersonator killed in the act: Man trying to create Sasquatch sighting is run over by 15-year-old girl

A man who was apparently trying to make passing motorists think that he was Bigfoot paid for the ruse with his life when he was run over by two cars on highway in northwestern Montana Sunday night.

The Montana Highway Patrol said the victim, identified as 44-year-old Randy Lee Tenley, was wearing a military-style ‘Ghillie suit’ and was standing in the right-hand lane of U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell when he was hit by the first car Sunday night.

A second car rolled over Tenley as he lay in the roadway. He suffered massive trauma and died at the scene, The Missoulian reported.
Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, is the name given to the mysterious ape-like creature that some people believe inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

Scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot, usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid, and consider it to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2012

Hiker mauled and eaten by a grizzly bear in Denali National Park

The experienced hiker who took up close photos of a grizzly bear for eight minutes before the 600-pound beast mauled and ate him in Denali National Park

The hiker mauled and eaten by a grizzly bear in Alaska's Denali National Park this weekend was an experienced explorer who loved traveling to remote areas alone, his family said.

Wildlife officials believe Richard White, a 49-year-old scientist from San Diego, California, simply got too close to the 600-pound predator as he photographed it grazing on Friday.


He was an experienced hiker who had been to Denali before and took a bear safety course that is mandatory for all back country hikers in the Park. It includes instructions on how to avoid disturbing bears and what to do if attacked.

Mr White's death is the first known fatal bear attack on a human in the 90-year history of national park. Wildlife officials have worked to keep strict rules about human and wildlife interaction. Officials recommend hikers carry bear spray, powerful chemicals that work like the pepper spray police officers carry, which can stop a bear charge without permanent harm to the animal.  Other explorers carry powerful rifles, shotguns and pistols to protect themselves. Mr White carried neither. His only defense -- a safety whistle.

Park rules say hikers should keep a quarter-mile distance from bears and back away whenever they see one of the dangerous animals. Mr White was just 40 yards away when he was killed -- 10 times closer than he should have been, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
A  state trooper shot and killed the bear, a 5-year-old male grizzly on Saturday and investigators examined its stomach contents and to confirm it had killed Mr White.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 PM | Permalink

Neil Armstrong, an American hero with footsteps on the mood, R.I.P.

 Neil Armstrong1

Made ‘Giant Leap’ as First Man to Step on Moon, New York Times obituary

In “First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong,” James R. Hansen wrote that in Mr. Armstrong’s first year at Purdue, Charles E. Yeager broke the sound barrier in the rocket-powered Bell X-1. It was exciting but bittersweet for the young student. He thought aviation history had already passed him by.

“All in all, for someone who was immersed in, fascinated by, and dedicated to flight,” Mr. Armstrong told his biographer, “I was disappointed by the wrinkle in history that had brought me along one generation late. I had missed all the great times and adventures in flight.”
In “First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong,” James R. Hansen wrote that in Mr. Armstrong’s first year at Purdue, Charles E. Yeager broke the sound barrier in the rocket-powered Bell X-1. It was exciting but bittersweet for the young student. He thought aviation history had already passed him by.

All in all, for someone who was immersed in, fascinated by, and dedicated to flight,” Mr. Armstrong told his biographer, “I was disappointed by the wrinkle in history that had brought me along one generation late. I had missed all the great times and adventures in flight.”
About six and a half hours after the landing, Mr. Armstrong opened the hatch of the four-legged lunar module and slowly made his way down the ladder to the lunar surface. A television camera followed his every step for all the world to see. A crater near the landing site is named in Mr. Armstrong’s honor.

Mr. Armstrong and Colonel Aldrin left a plaque on the Moon that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

After leaving the space program, Mr. Armstrong was careful to do nothing to tarnish that image or achievement. Though he traveled and gave speeches — as he did in October 2007, when he dedicated the new Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue — he rarely gave interviews and avoided the spotlight.


The Economist obituary

He had an engineer’s reserve, mixed with a natural shyness. Even among the other astronauts, not renowned for their excitability, Armstrong was known as the “Ice Commander”. Mike Collins, one of Armstrong’s crew-mates on the historic moon mission, liked his commander but mused that “Neil never transmits anything but the surface layer, and that only sparingly.” In one famous incident, Armstrong lost control of an unwieldy contraption nicknamed the “Flying Bedstead” that was designed to help astronauts train for the lunar landing. Ejecting only seconds before his craft hit the ground and exploded, Armstrong dusted himself off and coolly went back to his office for the rest of the day, presumably to finish up some paperwork.
Unlike some of his fellow astronauts (two of whom became senators), Armstrong chose a comparatively quiet retirement, teaching engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He returned to NASA twice, both times to serve on boards of enquiry, the first into the near-disaster of Apollo 13, and the second into the disintegration of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. He spent his final years on his farm in rural Ohio, flying gliders in his spare time (it was, said the supposedly emotionless engineer, the closest humans could come to being birds).

Telegraph obituary

Neil Armstrong, the American astronaut, who has died aged 82, cemented a unique place in the history of mankind by becoming the first person to walk on the Moon; though his personal achievement was a product of the Cold War’s bitter technological and political rivalry, the successful completion of his mission proved a transcendent moment that captured the imagination of the entire planet.

It was a success that owed much to Armstrong’s clarity of thought and split-second ability to make life-saving decisions. During Apollo 11’s final, hazardous descent to the surface of the Moon on July 20 1969, his instrument panel was dogged by computer failures that would have justified aborting the mission. Having decided to press on, Armstrong discovered that automatic systems were steering his lunar module on to the steep banks of a large, boulder-filled crater. Sitting next to Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, he seized manual control and guided the craft to a graceful touchdown with just 20 seconds of fuel remaining. Moments later he announced to the world: “Houston. Tranquillity Base here. Eagle has landed.” The two astronauts, until then relentless in their pursuit of an objective that had been set out eight years and two months earlier by President Kennedy, paused to shake hands.
Armstrong did not have the time either to celebrate the safe landing, or to worry that he had fluffed his lines. “We could not luxuriate in those feelings,” he said in a rare interview with Alex Malley in Australia last year. Even President Nixon’s congratulatory call from the White House was “memorable but instantaneous. There was work to do. The checklists were all over us. We weren’t there to meditate.” During a moonwalk that lasted two hours and 19 minutes, the two men collected soil and rock samples, took photographs and video images, and planted equipment and the Stars and Stripes in the lunar soil, all the while bounding easily across the landscape, unhindered by the Moon’s minimal gravitational pull. Some 240,000 miles away, back on Earth, hundreds of millions watched on agog, following their progress on live television broadcasts.


Armstrong's family

We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.  Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits. As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.


Armstrong's words "That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," spoken on July 20, 1969, as he became the first person ever to step onto another planetary body, instantly became a part of history.

Those few words from the Sea of Tranquillity were the climactic fulfillment of the efforts and hopes of millions of people and the expenditure of billions of dollars. A plaque on one of the lander's legs that concluded "We came in peace for all mankind," further emphasized that Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin were there as representatives of all humans.

Neil Armstrong's television exist almost as quiet as his life.

By the yardstick of history, Neil Armstrong was among the most accomplished men ever to walk on the planet that he looked upon from afar one magical week in July 1969.
Armstrong’s determined effort to live a quiet, private life after his astronaut days also left TV at a disadvantage. There was relatively little tape on hand to roll from interviews reminiscing about his experiences, reunions with old astronauts or public appearances. No Armstrong chats with David Letterman. No appearances in music videos. There was the moon walk, and not much else.
Not so with Neil Armstrong. His death was like his life: strangely muted given the magnitude of his achievements.

Obama: Armstrong 'Among  Greatest  American Heroes

President Obama called astronaut Neil Armstrong, who passed away today at age 82, “among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time.”

“When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation.  They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable – that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House this afternoon.

“Today, Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown – including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure – sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step,” he added.

Remembering Neil Armstrong, a Man of Profound Skill and Preternatural Calm

The first man on the moon survived three near-fatal incidents and spent the rest of his life trying to avoid the spotlight.

Armstrong was a man of almost preternatural imperturbability. That, of course, is true of all of astronauts — especially those from the early era. He, like so many others, was a military pilot. In his case, the piloting included 78 combat missions over Korea, during one of which his plane was crippled by antiaircraft fire. He managed to stay airborne long enough to limp back into American-held territory before he bailed out. He retired from the Navy after the war and became a test pilot for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA‘s predecessor) and flew 900 different types of aircraft—all of them fit only for test pilots because no one could say with any certainty whether the things would perform as designed or would simply shake themselves to rivets once they reached flight speed.

It wasn’t until 1962 that Armstrong joined NASA — in the second crop of astronauts chosen after the glorious Original Seven. On at least three occasions that followed, the machines he flew tried to kill him.
He was only 38 when he walked on the moon, but he surely knew that if he lived to be 100 — or 82 as we now know it worked out — his life would forever be framed and defined by the 151 minutes he spent on the moon.

Armstrong’s America

First, there were the traditional small-town virtues of the Ohio town where he was born in 1930 and raised. That was where his father followed the career that’s the butt of every late night comedian, as an accountant, and Neil became what every liberal activist now despises, an Eagle Scout. But small-town didn’t mean small horizons then any more than it does now. Neil’s greatest dream was to fly, and he earned his pilot’s license before he learned how to drive.

Then there was the United States Navy, where Neil trained as an aviator and flew 78 combat missions in the Korean War. He always said those missions were far more dangerous than anything he did as an astronaut or test pilot; they were certainly more important in terms of shaping his outlook on life. The Navy taught him the importance of friendship, but also the discipline to deal with the pain when those friends crash and die. Combat “builds a lot of character,” he once told an Australian interviewer. “It builds a lot of backbone.”

It certainly did. Later when he learned people were hawking his autographs for money, he stopped signing them. When he learned his barber had sold a snippet of his hair for $3,000, he threatened to sue unless the barber gave the money away to charity (the barber did).

Neil Armstrong knew there were more important things to life than being liked. Today, of course, we live surrounded by a media bubble that teaches the opposite.
And Neil Armstrong was confident that someday, despite the end of NASA’s manned space flights, someone would “fly back up there and pick up that camera I left there.” Everyone who met him was always struck by the same thing, his humility. I think it was because he knew that he was no TV image Superhero. Behind all his amazing feats was something greater, an America that believed in character over celebrity, in accomplishment over image and solving problems instead of blaming someone else.

Neil Armstrong reflecting on the 1969 Apollo II mission to the moon

I was certainly aware that this was a culmination of the work of 300,000 or 400,000 people over a decade and that the nation's hopes and outward appearance largely rested on how the results came out. With those pressures, it seemed the most important thing to do was focus on our job as best we were able to and try to allow nothing to distract us from doing the very best job we could. . . .
…this was a project in which everybody involved was, one, interested, two, dedicated, and, three, fascinated by the job they were doing. And whenever you have those ingredients, whether it be government or private industry or a retail store, you're going to win.

The Best Speech Nixon Never Gave was written by William Safire in the event the astronauts were stranded on the moon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

Referee killed by javelin

Referee, 75, dies after being speared through the throat by a javelin at athletics meeting

A 75-year-old referee speared through the throat with a javelin at an athletics meeting in Germany has died from his injuries.

Dieter Schmidt had gone to measure the throw of a previous athlete when the javelin from the next contestant hit him in the throat and exited out of his neck.

Paramedics revived the victim at the scene and an emergency doctor escorted him as he was taken to the Dusseldorf's University Hospital, where he was operated on after losing a lot of blood from his main artery.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 AM | Permalink

15-year-old girl who was learning to drive hit and killed her mother

Horror as woman struck and killed by her own daughter, 15, during driving lesson

Tragedy struck in a church parking lot, when a 15-year-old girl who was learning to drive hit and killed her mother.

Kimberly Riggs, 40, let her daughter take the wheel of her car in the parking lot of the Newport Church of God in Newport, Kentucky, after they had attended church.

But when the teenager got behind the wheel, she mistakenly pressed down on the car's accelerator instead of the brakes and suddenly backed up the car hitting and knocking her mother to the ground.

Then the girl began driving uncontrollably in the lot, knocking down a fence and hitting the back of a home.

She then turned the vehicle around and hit her mother again, pinning the woman’s body against a fence.
Investigators have found that the death was accidental and the daughter will not be charged in the incident.

The teenager is described as still in shock and trying to overcome her feelings of grief and guilt.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Tragic death of a beautiful bride

Bride dies while posing for photographs in her wedding gown. She drowned after her dress got wet and dragged her into a river near a 'violently' rushing waterfall in Canada

Real estate agent Maria Pantazopoulos, 30, drowned after her dress got wet and she was dragged into the river near a 'violently' rushing waterfall in Canada.  Ms Pantazopoulos slipped and fell into the Ouareau River near Dorwin Falls, north of Montreal, on Friday afternoon. Her body was found about two and a half hours later.

The newly-wed yelled 'I'm slipping, I'm slipping, I'm slipping,' before falling off the rock she was perched on for her wedding pictures, according to CBC.

-Maria Pantazopoulos

Friends said she had been taking part in an increasingly popular ritual called 'Trash the Dress', in which brides pose for pictures while playfully destroying their wedding gowns.
Ms Pantazopoulos had commissioned the shoot following her June 9 wedding. Family friend Leeza Pousoulidis said: 'She’s a really fun girl, and she just didn’t want her wedding dress sitting in a box in the closet.  'She said "I want to have fun with my wedding dress. I want to have great pictures and memories of me in my wedding dress."'

Ms Pantazopoulos slipped while she was being photographed by Louis Pagakis, who told CTV Montreal that he did everything he could to save her.  She had her wedding dress on and she said, "take some pictures of me while I swim a little bit in the lake,"' he said.

'She went in and her dress got heavy, I tried everything I could to save her.'  'She was doing the photo shoot in about six inches or one foot of water when part of her wedding dress got soaked and became extremely heavy,' Mr McInnis told MailOnline.

'She started slipping and falling down when the photographer grabbed her but she was too heavy that he couldn't pull her from the edge.
Another person tried to grab her but also was unable to save her from falling into the river.

 Shoe Weddingdress On Rocks
The wedding dress and shoe of bride  who fell and drowned during photo shoot.

Maria Pantazopoulos

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2012

Can you inherit memories?

Doreen Carvajal went to Spain, to Andalusia, on the Trail of Inherited Memories

I still wonder how I ended up living in a former medieval bordello on the brink of a sandstone cliff on the southern frontier of Spain.
The other world worried about bills, real estate values, tourism, lost jobs, the immediate future. In contrast, I retreated into my quest, hoping to take new stock of my identity by reclaiming ancestral memories, history and DNA clues that I believe had been faithfully passed down for generations of my family, the Carvajals.

They had left Spain centuries ago, during the Inquisition. That much I knew. We were raised as Catholics in Costa Rica and California, but late in life I finally started collecting the nagging clues of a very clandestine identity: that we were descendants of secret Sephardic Jews — Christian converts known as converses, or Anusim (Hebrew for the forced ones) or even Marranos, which in Spanish means swine.

There are scientific studies exploring whether the history of our ancestors is somehow a part of us, inherited in unexpected ways through a vast chemical network in our cells that controls genes, switching them on and off. At the heart of the field, known as epigenetics, is the notion that genes have memory and that the lives of our grandparents — what they breathed, saw and ate — can directly affect us decades later.

Recent studies in Sweden explore the effects of famine and abundant harvests on the health of descendants four generations later. That is not exactly what I am looking for: I’m intrigued by the notion that generations pass on particular survival skills and an unconscious sense of identity that stands the test of centuries.

The French psychologist Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, now in her 90s, has spent decades studying what she calls the ancestor syndrome — that we are links in a chain of generations, unconsciously affected by their suffering or unfinished business until we acknowledge the past.

In the 1990s Dina Wardi, a psychotherapist in Jerusalem, worked with the children of Holocaust survivors and developed the theory that survivor parents often designated certain children as “memorial candles” who took on the mission of serving as a link to preserve the past and connect the future. The children of survivors who actively struggled against the Nazis, she found, had a compulsive ambition to achieve.
Reality is even stranger. Dr. Darold A. Treffert, a psychiatrist in Wisconsin, maintains a registry of about 300 “savants” who through a head injury or dementia acquire skills they never learned. Conceivably, he says, those skills, like music, mathematics, art and calendar calculating, were buried deep in their brains. He calls it genetic memory, or “factory-installed software,” a huge reservoir of dormant knowledge that can emerge when a damaged brain rewires itself to recover from injuries.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

August 21, 2012

Writing your own obituary to get it right

The self-written obituary: the hottest thing in dying    Boston Glob

Those who don’t want to write their own obit, but do want one done ahead of time, have started hiring writers to do the job. Whether self-written or commissioned, the pre-written obit can be a way for the subject to spare loved ones — who may not love each other — from having to interact, said Susan Soper, a veteran journalist who created the “ObitKit: A Guide to Celebrating Your Life.”

She recently worked with a client in his mid-70s who had been married twice and wanted to ensure that his whole life story was told — not just the part that one side or the other knew about.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:50 PM | Permalink

50 years after her death, the Marilyn Monroe estate earns $27-$30 million a year

Marilyn Monroe's estate earned $27 million last year and is looking at earning $30 million this year.  Her Facebook page (3.5 million likes) and her twitter account keep her in the public eye, 50 years after her death.

@MarilynMonroe, "tweeting on behalf of the Estate of Marilyn Monroe"—which, at last count, has 64,352 followers and is even verified.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink

Shocking sudden deaths

When I read stories like this, I am reminded yet again of how suddenly and unexpectedly death can come and what a toll it takes on

Nurse who helped save victims of the Batman massacre drowned weeks later on vacation with her son, 5, and husband

A nurse has drowned just weeks after she helped save the lives of victims in the Aurora Batman massacre in Colorado.
Jennifer Gallagher, 46, of Denver, died earlier this month while she was on vacation in Iowa with her husband and her five-year-old son.  She went swimming in West Lake Okoboji the night of August 6 and was reported missing the next morning. A family member found her body in the water later that day; it is not clear how she got into difficulty while swimming.
Pinson said Gallagher had moved from County Meath, Ireland, to Colorado in the 1990s and studied to become a nurse.  A devastated Pinson described his late wife as a ‘brilliant’ nurse who ‘loved treating people in bad situations.’  Gallagher’s siblings flew over from Ireland for her funeral and a mass was held for the mother-of-one in Ireland.

Brother, 27, and sister, 18, killed after massive bonfire explosion at her graduation party

An 18-year-old student who was celebrating her graduation on Saturday at her home died along with her brother after a bonfire exploded.  Savannah and Christopher Blewett, from St Clair Township, Michigan, were enjoying a party in their backyard with close friends and family.

Christopher, 27, poured a large amount of gasoline on a two-story pile of wood they had built for a fire and asked his sister to light it.
When she did, according to the Detroit Free Press, the gasoline exploded, killing them both and injuring four other people.
The blast was so strong, it shattered the windows of a nearby house and scattered wood about 100 yards away.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink

Can you bury your dead wife in the front yard?

Man, 73, fights to keep wife buried in their front yard after city orders him to dig her up

A 73-year-old man is fighting to keep his late wife in a grave yards from his front porch after city officials ordered him to dig up her remains.

 Man Buries Wife Frontyard

On her wishes in 2009, James Davis buried his wife, Patsy Ruth, outside the log home he built in downtown Stevenson, Alabama - even though the city rejected his request for a cemetery permit.

Officials are now trying to have her remains moved as they fear allowing a grave on a residential lot on a city's main street would set a bad precedent.  They say state law gives the city some control over where people bury their loved ones and have cited concerns about long-term care, appearance, property values and neighbors' complaints.

A county judge ordered Davis to dig up the remains of his wife and move them, but the ruling is on hold as the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals considers his challenge.  The decision - and fears of it setting a bad precedent - come even though downtown Stevenson is far from the bustling railroad stop it once was; it is so quiet people don't bother locking their doors.

Davis, who was married to Patsy for 48 years, said she spent most of her her final days bedridden with crippling arthritis.
Davis visits his wife's grave each time he walks out the house. He puts fresh artificial flowers on it regularly, and at Christmas he and other relatives hold a little prayer vigil around the grave.  He said his five children will bury him in the yard beside Patsy after he dies, and they and his 15 grandchildren will care for the property from then on.

'That's my perpetual care,' said Davis, referring to the city's worry about what the grave will look like after he dies.  Davis is adamant that he won't move the body, regardless of what any court says.

'If they get it done it'll be after I'm gone,' said Davis. 'So if they order her to be moved, it's a death sentence to me. I'll meet Mama sooner than I planned on it.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2012

Every parent's nightmare

Heartbreak for family of three-year-old girl who dies as window blind cord ensnares neck while she naps

A three-year-old girl died in a tragic accident on Monday after a window blind cord got caught round her neck.

Voxie O'Hara Hendrix Beckett and her two-year-old brother had been put down for an afternoon nap by their parents, Erik and Chesshuwa Beckett in their home in Sacramento, California.

As she slept Voxie became entangled in the cord which ensnared her neck, cutting off her air supply.

When Mr and Mrs Beckett stopped by the bedroom to check on their children they found Voxie's lifeless body, still wrapped up in the cord, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Horrified, they dialed 911 and a fire crew was dispatched to their home on the 5500 block of M Street.

Officers desperately tried to revive the young girl, performing CPR as they rushed her to hospital, but she did not survive. She was pronounced dead later that day at Sutter Memorial Hospital.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2012

Way too many funerals

This Is What 11 Years Of Funerals Does To Servicemembers

When I was a young officer, wearing my dress uniform, attending ceremonies was fun because it always seemed to be about celebration. For the past 11 years it has symbolized death and tragedy. Over the past 11 years I’ve been to way too many memorial services for my fallen brothers.

Last Friday I buried my 40-year-old brother in my hometown of Whitman, Massachusetts. My brother Brendan left behind a wife and three small children. In February of 2011 he was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his lymph nodes and brain.

After I stoically delivered my eulogy, someone asked me if I had ice going through my veins. I had some choice words to say but opted for a simple statement: “No, I’ve just seen a lot of death in my life.”

This was my fourth eulogy. One for my father, one for my blood brother, and two for soldier brothers.

People that have never been to war just don’t understand the death and destruction war causes. They don’t understand what these experiences do to us service members. But the war is only part of the challenge we face as service members. I was in Afghanistan at the time Brendan was diagnosed and was unable to be there for him. Fortunately our family, his friends, and nearly the entire 13,000 residents of Whitman rallied around Brendan and his family.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

Do you want travel to be part of your legacy ?

A new car, or priceless memories?  How more parents are leaving behind travel trust funds instead of an inheritance

Instead of leaving behind a big inheritance, people are now choosing to create travel trusts, with their last wishes stipulated in geographical terms.  Whether it's parents wanting their offspring to connect with their heritage, culture or religion, people are increasingly deciding that travel should be a part of their legacy.

'You could give them money and they could go and buy a new car with it, or you could give them this and they can use it to create memories,' said Jim Bendt, president of Travel Beyond of Minneapolis.
Instead of leaving behind a big inheritance, people are now choosing to create travel trusts, with their last wishes stipulated in geographical terms.

Whether it's parents wanting their offspring to connect with their heritage, culture or religion, people are increasingly deciding that travel should be a part of their legacy.
At a family dinner in 2000, her father-in-law, an academic in his sixties, announced that once a year, he and his wife would pay up to $800 per passenger if one family visited the other.

Four years later, he died unexpectedly, and so far, the money has been used by his children for five family celebrations, three in Israel and two in the United States.
For Mrs Liebman, the money from her late father-in-law has had a very positive effect.

In the past dozen years, the family has expanded through weddings and babies, and the interaction and shared experiences at the family get-togethers means, 'there has been a new level of connection made.'

'It was really money well spent,' she said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

"Government-run Chinese medicine has become a lethal enterprise"

George Weigel, Can organ-harvesters be Number One?  Government-run Chinese medicine has become a lethal enterprise.

Gutmann estimates that some 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners had their organs “harvested, their hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics.” An indeterminate number of Chinese House Christians and Tibetans almost certainly suffered the same fate. Something far worse than garden-variety human rights abuse is going on here, Gutmann concludes: “China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status … has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise (i.e., medicine) into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group” (Ethan Gutmann, “The Xinjiang Procedure,” Weekly Standard, Dec. 5, 2011).
Can a regime, no matter how powerful, become the world’s lodestar if it is morally corrupted by an utter disregard for the dignity and sanctity of human life? The 20th century gave one, negative, answer to that question; I suspect, and certainly hope, that the 21st century’s answer will be the same.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2012

The Soundtrack of Your Life

I loved this story.  A variation of six songs of me would be a fine addition to your Personal Legacy Archives

You Are What You Hear:  What Your Favorite Music Says About You

Think back over the soundtrack to your life. Those songs you heard in grade school and church, on first dates and at dances, in college dorms and convertibles, at weddings and graduations — it's all part of your musical makeup.

And today, the mysterious power of music seems to be even more personal and pervasive. With help from iPods, downloads, clouds and smartphones, we can literally "soundtrack" our lives any time, anywhere.

Six Songs of Me: Just why music matters so much to us …

In the 100 years or so since recorded music has been widely available, our lives have become suffused by it: we are born and die to music, we eat and shop and travel and make love to music, we work and play to music. Some of our most powerful memories are either of music, or are accompanied by music – and sometimes, even as listeners, we seem almost to become the music that we hear: "Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts", as TS Eliot wrote.
Philosophers have been puzzling for millennia over what it is about those organized but apparently meaningless sounds that we find so compelling, joined more recently by anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and neuroscientists. It's tempting to think that it might be something physical – something about the orderly patterns of vibrations – that gives music its compelling force, and right back to Pythagoras and the idea of a harmonic series, philosophers and scientists have chased this mathematical/acoustical explanation. But consider the vast sonic differences between the music of different cultures, or those within our own culture, and this soon seems pretty implausible. The idea that music might be some kind of universal language – attractive as it may seem when you see children and adults of all races and nationalities enjoying a concert in the park together – may run into difficulty when you try to get Gilbert and Sullivan fans to express any enthusiasm for dub step, or jury members of the Chopin Piano Competition to rate the traditional beiguan music of Taiwan.

Rather than searching for the holy grail of a mathematical or acoustical explanation, it seems more fruitful – and actually much more interesting – to think about the rich and complex manner in which music is embedded into social functions. This happens in micro social and macro social ways: music can make its appeal at the level of whole nations (national anthems at the Olympics remind us of that) and individuals. T

The Guardian is starting the project called Six Songs of Me where readers are invited to submit answers to the following.

What was the first song you ever bought?
What song always gets you dancing?
What song takes you back to your childhood?
What is your perfect love song?
What song would you want at your funeral?
Time for the encore.  One last song that makes you, you.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:33 PM | Permalink

August 9, 2012

Marine skydive scattering

 Marines Skydive Scattering

A fitting farewell: Marines honor fallen hero by scattering his ashes thousands of feet above Arizona during skydive

Thousands of feet up above the dry Arizona desert, a group of Marines pay tribute to one of their daredevil colleagues in the most spectacular of ways.

The six Marine Corps free fall instructors honored Sergeant Brett Jaffe by releasing his ashes mid air during a sky-dive.

It took place above the Phillips Drop Zone on the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona.

Speaking to Home Post, The Military Life, Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Marty Rhett said: 'It was an honor and privilege to take this Marine on his last jump and give him a proper hail and farewell.'

Sgt Jaffe, 41, was killed in a Jet Ski accident on July 15 at the Boca Reservoir in Northern California.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink

"Yes, he got his lawyer to write in "killer party" into his will"

Military Members Explain Their Wills

Over at Reddit, a servicemember posted about how he and a buddy each bequeathed one another $2,000 in their wills.
Sounds standard. Except, this two grand is bequeathed so that his friend  — pardon the legalese — "can throw a killer party to celebrate my life."  Yes, he got his lawyer to write in "killer party" into his will.
One redditor said that his wife gets his full Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, but with a stipulation. She has sixty days to leave the country, and is not allowed to return for nine months, and she's not allowed to stay in any one country for more than 30 days — in essence, forcing his widow to see the world after losing him.

Each member of the U.S. Armed Forces must write out a will prior to deployment. Each service member may also purchase into the Servicemember's Group Life Insurance, where a maximum $400,000 policy costs around $27 per month.  In the will, the service members indicate where they want all their worldly possessions to end up, as well as who benefits from the insurance payout.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

"86% of boomers named “family stories” as the most important part of their legacy—ahead of possessions and inheritance"

How to Give Heirs What They Most Want (It Won’t Cost Much)

An enduring legacy of the financial crisis has been a clear shift in personal values—away from materialism and toward relationships and experiences. Born out of need, this national (if not global) rethinking of what is most important has had remarkable staying power even as the economy has started to improve.

The latest bit of evidence comes from an Allianz Life survey, where 86% of boomers named “family stories” as the most important part of their legacy—ahead of possessions and inheritance. It appears that we care more about passing down our values and traditions than the contents of our Roth IRAs. Indeed, some 75% of boomers say it is not their duty to leave a financial legacy

That may be because boomers do not expect to have much of a nest egg to pass down–or that they believe they have lived such fabulous lives it would be a shame to go unremembered. But boomers also say they are not counting on an inheritance from their parents. Fewer than 5% say leaving money behind is their parents’ duty. This thinking has prompted Allianz to elevate “family stories” in the planning process, naming it as one of four pillars in a well-rounded legacy. The pillars:
  • Values and life lessons, including family stories
  • Instructions and wishes, including health directives and funeral arrangements
  • Personal possessions of emotional value, including pictures, scrapbooks and furniture
  • Financial assets, including real estate

This is precisely what what my upcoming book is designed to help you do.

It's called  Your Legacy Matters, 10 Steps to Taking Care of the Business of Your Life and Legacy in the Digital Age and Finding Yourself on a Mission of Love

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2012

Dr. Donald Liu, R.I.P.

Top children's surgeon dies a hero after he drowns saving the lives of two young boys drowning in Lake Michigan

Chicago is mourning one of its most talented children's surgeons today, after he died while trying to save the lives of two young boys.

Dr Donald Liu, 50, drowned in Lake Michigan as he went to help the children, who were struggling in choppy waters.

Dr Liu’s widow, Dr Dana Suskind, said the couple had been spending Sunday morning at a friend’s beach-side home with their children Genevieve, 13, Asher, 10, and Amalie, 7, when disaster struck.  After seeing the two boys in difficulties, the doctor went out to help before rescue workers could arrive. The stricken boys survived the traumatic incident and were safely returned to the beach, but Dr Liu perished after being caught in a riptide at around 10am.

Tributes have poured in for the father-of-three, who was surgeon-in-chief and professor of surgery and pediatrics at Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. 
In an email to medical staff, the dean of the University of Chicago’s Medical School, Dr. Kenneth S. Polonsky, wrote: 'Don’s death personifies a life that was devoted to saving children.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2012

Theme music for funeral homes

Songs in the Key of Death by Nicole Pasulka

America’s funeral parlors rely on one man to provide the theme music for your grandmother’s memorial service, the pop radio for your cousin’s wake. Welcome to “semi-spiritual” ambient music and the stuff of contemporary mourning.
Grief, for all cultures and within every tradition, has a space. Jews sit shiva and create a literal space—covered mirrors and all—for their lament, Catholics stay up for a week with the loved one’s body, and a number of cultures follow a body or coffin to its final destination. The organized and official “goodbye” is almost as universal as death itself. According to Dr. Jan Holton, an assistant professor of pastoral care and counseling at Yale Divinity School, “Church services and ritual create this transitional space that allows for the expression of grief. In a funeral, there is structure. You come through the suddenness or the long process of the actual dying, and on the other side is learning to live life without that person.” The funeral parlor can help with this in its own way. It is not home, but it’s homey. And here, like in church, music facilitates a momentary familiarity. It helps, in the words of Young’s Dodge Magazine ad, to “set the right tone.”
This is music for funerals. Just as Brian Eno actualized the idea of music “for airports,” David Young’s work makes sense once installed. Both acknowledge the power their music has in the background. Young doesn’t reimagine the funeral home the way Music for Airports manages to make the airport seem like a quiet, beautiful film. But simply, often through nothing more than song choice, key, or tempo, Young incorporates and distills the themes of the modern funeral. Eno himself wrote that his music “must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” The intense, focused listening practice is only one way to experience sound. As the rhetoric in Muzak and easy-listening promotional materials asserts, this air freshener of sound livens up the room and in doing so, makes us feel better about our cold, lonely, quiet world.
We are more sensitive and more numbed in these moments. A natural disaster or presidential election may go completely unnoticed when mourning a loved one, while the slightest gesture—a smile from a familiar-looking face in a crowd—can bring paroxysms of grief. Cutting back on stimulation, retreating away from anything that swells, or pains, or carries contradiction can be an act of self-protection or therapy. To play Young’s music at a funeral, because of its ability to either enable an exaggerated emotional response or be ignored entirely, is to choose not to choose. The best bet, as funeral directors seem to realize, is to opt for the “non-thing,” the music that melts into the scenery, so as to avoid the nothing—the silence that by our 21st century has come to signify death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

August 1, 2012

Maeve Bincy R.I.P.

I've read or listened to many of her books and always felt I was in fine company and just relaxed and surrendered to her storytelling.

Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has led tributes to popular novelist Maeve Binchy, who has died at the age of 72. The best-selling author died peacefully in hospital yesterday with her husband, children's writer Gordon Snell, by her side.

Binchy penned 16 novels and sold more than 40 million books worldwide during her career.

Mr Kenny said Ireland had lost a national treasure and offered his deepest sympathies, on behalf of the Government and the Irish people, to her family.

"Across Ireland and the world people are mourning and celebrating Maeve Binchy," he said.  "She is a huge loss wherever stories of love, hope, generosity and possibility are read and cherished.  Today, as a nation, we are thankful for and proud of the writer and the woman Maeve Binchy."

 Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy: The Irish novelist who shunned the dark side  Maeve Binchy found success by pursuing her sunny instincts, and leaving out the sex.

Maeve metamorphosed from the sometimes sharp reporter into a novelist whose take on life was sunny, warm, generous, even wholesome. Hemingway once said that a writer must find an inner truth, and Maeve found her success through a truthful pursuit of her own instincts.
When she presented her first book, Light a Penny Candle, to her publishers, they liked it, she told me, but were unhappy that it contained no explicit sex scenes. It was an established formula that there should be a bedroom scene every 19 pages in a modern novel. Maeve said, rather bashfully, that as she hadn’t had a very colorful sex life herself she didn’t really know how to write sex scenes, and if she made them up, they might strike a false note.

The book was a bestseller and made her name. Her approach to storytelling went down especially well in the United States. She told me about visiting some Midwestern town on a book tour where the ladies would approach her and say, “Oh Miss Binchy, we’re so grateful to have stories with no pornography and no profanity – I’ll have four copies, two for my aunts, one for the pastor’s wife and another for myself…” One of her greatest fans in America was Barbara Bush.

LA Times obit

"A hallmark of a Binchy book is a cast of characters Dickens would relish," Mary McNamara wrote in The Times in 1999, "all pairing and sundering, congregating and dispersing in an operatic minuet. Plots and subplots surface and submerge" in a story that invariably ends in "acceptance and growth."

Binchy considered herself a writer of escapist works popular with people going on vacation.

"I was just lucky," she told the BookReporter website, "I lived in this time of mass-market paperbacks."

The Daily Mail has a Biography of a Beloved Irish Writer In Her Own Words

I was lucky enough to be fairly quick at understanding what was taught, but unlucky enough not to be really interested in it so I always got my exams but never had the scholar’s love of learning for its own sake. And even though I was fat and hopeless at games, which are very unacceptable things for a schoolgirl, I was happy and confident. That was quite simply because I had a mother and a father at home who thought I was wonderful. They thought all their geese were swans. It was a gift greater than beauty or riches, the feeling that you were as fine as anyone else.

Maeve Binchy: Ireland's national treasure
  Maeve Binchy, who has died aged 72, was a skillful storyteller and a warm and generous person.

... no amount of high-minded tut-tutting could alter the fact that Maeve Binchy’s books were compulsive page-turners. In a survey of Ireland’s 100 bestsellers in the 20th century compiled in 1998, she took first, third and fourth places, with seven of her books in the top 100, outselling not only Yeats, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, but more recent writers such as Frank McCourt, Roddy Doyle, Seamus Heaney and Edna O’Brien. Her work also spawned two Hollywood films, Circle Of Friends, starring Minnie Driver, and Tara Road, with Andie McDowell.

The appeal of Maeve Binchy’s writing lay in strong characterization, good storytelling and heart-warming evocations of a cosy world in which good triumphs and community spirit always prevails. In a Maeve Binchy story, people — especially women — survive their troubles by sticking together and providing a shoulder to cry on.

Big, funny and warm, Maeve Binchy was the living embodiment of the novels that made her one of the world’s top-selling authors and one of Britain’s richest women, and her success was testament to the advice so often meted out to aspiring novelists — write what you know.

It was apt that she chose Édith Piaf's Non, Je ne regret rein as one of her favorite songs and she answered the question “Have you been lucky in life?” once with the splendid reply: "I have been luckier than anyone I know or even heard of. I had a very happy childhood, a good education, I enjoyed working as a teacher, journalist and author. I have loved a wonderful man for over 33 years and I believe he loves me too. I have great family and good friends, the stories I told became popular and people all over the world bought them. If anyone heard me complaining I should be taken out and shot!"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:22 PM | Permalink

‘Grace, I love you. Grace, I love you. I love you,’

'Grace, I love you, I love you': After months of not being able to speak, husband's last words to his wife before they died 16 hours apart

For months he had struggled to communicate, the power of speech fading with his life.

But hand-in-hand once more with the woman he had loved for 40 years, John Clark summoned his strength one last time.

‘Grace, I love you. Grace, I love you. I love you,’ the 86-year-old said to his frail wife, lying on a hospital bed, in Tampa, Florida.

Within 24 hours both had died peacefully.

-John Grace Clark

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 PM | Permalink