May 28, 2013

Some questions to ask your parents

From Quora, What are the best questions to ask one's parents (or other older relatives) before they pass away?

Here's a sample of what people said.

Go through the family photo album with your elderly relatives and ask them to identify every person and place you do not recognize, and WRITE that down (post-it notes that you can stick right on the photo are great until you can get better organized).
With a number of recent losses in my family, I've been startled to find out much I didn't know.  Here's how I phrase the query: Is there anything that if I were to find it out later, you would have regretted not telling me?
When my parents passed away last year (along with my sister) I didn't really realize how many things I would've liked to have known about them and their preferences and how much of their insight I would miss. When I'm faced with a difficult decision, I always think of what they'd do in the back of my mind and while that does help,
Ask about their first car-  what they bought, what they paid, where and how they got the money.  You'll not only learn about their taste in cars, but about how they view their financial world. 

Ask about their wedding- how did he propose, what did she wear, did they have a honeymoon?  This will link you to them through your own romances.

Ask about one of the worst times of their lives;  "one of" because few people get to be elders without going through more than a few horrible events.  The answers will inform you as to what really mattered to your parents, and why.

Get the recipes-  I cannot stress this enough.  It's beyond sad to say "My Mother made the best insert-food-here but I never got her recipe."  Ask for their favorite memory of each of their children-  even that sibling you don't like.
My grandparents are on the verge of death, and one of the questions I made sure to ask them was about marriage (see my answer to "what's the secret to a lasting marriage").
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 PM | Permalink

Venom against grieving family

A four week old baby died of whopping cough.  Anyone with normal feelings can understand how the family is grieving and suffering over the loss of their child.  Yet, unbelievably, this family has become a target for the anti-vaccination lobby.

Grieving parents speak out against anti-vaccination extremists

As Toni held her tiny baby, she couldn't comprehend the loss, or how they would survive the sorrow.

Little did they know then that Dana's death from whooping cough, and the media coverage that followed, came to represent a very inconvenient truth to the anti-vaccination lobby - and thus began an extraordinary campaign against this grieving family.

The couple has been accused of being on the payroll of drug companies; they have had their daughter's death questioned and mocked; they have even been told to "harden the f . . . up" by an opponent of vaccination.

"The venom directed at us has just been torture and it's been frightening, abhorrent and insensitive in the extreme," says Toni, who has not had the strength to talk about this until now.

May poor little Dana rest in peace and may her family find some consolation in the vast majority who have expressed their abhorrence at the lack of humanity shown by the anti-vaccination lobby.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:28 PM | Permalink

"He lived for sausages and—a close second—beer, and had the girth and rosy cheeks to prove it. “

A wonderful obituary in The Economist about a man who made a difference in the lives of untold numbers of Brits.

Bill O’Hagan  Bill O’Hagan, pioneer of Britain’s sausage renaissance, died on May 15th, aged 68.

THE best sound in the world to Bill O’Hagan was the slow crescendo of sausages sizzling in a pan; the best smell, the charred skins of the same; the best sight, a glistening heaped plateful of the same, with mash; the best taste, a succulent tongue-teasing blend of minced lean pork, rolled oats, fresh eggs, sea-salt, chervil and winter savoury, generously dosed with real ale. He lived for sausages and—a close second—beer, and had the girth and rosy cheeks to prove it. “Sausages? I love ’em!” he would cry, before the interviewer had asked one question; and twitching aside his striped butcher’s apron he would show, on his own plump anatomy, the best bits of a pig for his purpose.

British commercial sausages, before he arrived on the scene, were poor limp things, flaccidly pink, that would burst and stick in the pan (hence “banger”) and lie heavy on the stomach. They tasted of nothing much, and that was just as well, because they were composed of muscle, gristle, head-meat and tail, padded out with rusk, injected with 11 chemicals and stuffed in a plastic tube. “Bloody rubbish!” Mr O’Hagan called them, unworthy of the name of sausage, though post-war Britons, with their propensity to chew stoically on anything, liked them well enough. Doused with brown sauce they became a national dish, of sorts; together with flabby fish and chips eaten out of yesterday’s newspaper, and jam roly-poly pudding.

 Bill O'hagan

Mr O’Hagan was the man who, from the 1980s, started to change all that. First, he put proper meat into sausages. Second, he removed the bready filler. Then he took the chemicals and additives out, replacing them with alecost, tansy and woodruff, plants of the hedgerows, which were natural preservatives. “No nasties!” his flyers promised. Once the true nobility of the British sausage was restored (a nobility that needed no pricking, for a proper sausage never exploded), he began to play about with flavours, adding apples or brandy or blue cheese, or ginger, or coriander. He reckoned he had tried 2,000 variations, of which about 160 went into regular production. They included Pork, Banana and Honey, made at the request of children when he featured on a TV show.
His apogee came when the British Sausage Appreciation Society crowned him the best sausage-maker in the country. He had won his laurels largely as an amateur. For years he made the sausages in his garden shed, and he combined this labour of love with being a night editor on the Daily Telegraph, sweeping in to work in a black cape “like a ruddy-cheeked vampire”, one colleague said, with packed coolboxes of his produce to sell to hungry subs. At 4.30am, when he left again (many pints of good beer to the wind, and driving a decommissioned black cab, which he claimed was less likely to be stopped by the police), the boxes would be empty. Sausage-making at last took him over in 1988, when he opened the world’s first fresh-sausage shop in Greenwich. By 1991 he was selling 2m a year, and super-premium sausages had become the rage throughout the land.
Apart from that, there was no bitterness in his nature. He failed to make a fortune, but he thoroughly enjoyed himself. By tradition a British butcher is a jolly chap; and few could be jollier than a man whose life was devoted, first, to making the perfect sausage, and, second, to matching it with the perfect foaming pint.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:06 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2013

Cotard's Syndrome also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome

I had never heard of this before.

Man writes terrifying account of rare illness that makes him think he is dead even though he is definitely still alive

A patient has written a disturbing account of life with condition which makes him think he is dead - and how he spends his days in graveyards as it is ‘the closest I could get to death.’  The man, identified only as Graham, woke up nine years ago utterly convinced that he was no longer alive even though he was still breathing.

Doctors diagnosed him with Cotard’s Syndrome, which is also known as ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome’ because it makes people think they have turned into zombies.  But Graham did not believe them and kept insisting that his brain was dead because he had bizarrely fried it in the bath.

He lost interest in smoking, he didn’t bother speaking and stopped eating as there was ‘no point because I was dead.’Only through months of therapy and treatment was he able to overcome the condition and live anything approaching a normal life.

Cotard’s Syndrome is among the most rare diseases in the world and it is thought that it affects just a few hundred people at any one time.  It is linked to depression and comes in a variety of forms including some who feel that their limbs are no longer functioning.

Other patients with Cotard’s have died of starvation because they feel they don’t need to eat any more or burned themselves with acid as they want to be free from what they feel is dead flesh.

Writing in the New Scientist magazine, Graham, who is from Britain, tells how his doctors was baffled so referred him to neurologists Adam Zeman at the University of Exeter and Steven Laureys at the University of Liège in Belgium.

Mr Laureys said: ‘It's the first and only time my secretary has said to me: 'It's really important for you to come and speak to this patient because he's telling me he's dead.''
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 PM | Permalink

Letters to my sons

Words to live by  A dying GI writes letters to his sons.  An example of the great gift  parents can leave to their  children of any age.  You can imagine how these letters will be treasured for decades to come.

Lt. Col. Mark Weber prepared his family for the worst countless times during his 23-year Army career — but now faces a battle he knows he can’t win.

In December 2010, doctors diagnosed Weber, who had survived 19 years in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, with Stage 4 intestinal cancer.

Told he had only two months to live, the decorated soldier set out to write a farewell letter to his three sons, Matthew, now 17, and twins Joshua and Nick, 12.

“Along the way, I hope you’ll consult these pages as often and as casually as you would if I were still here and you could pick up the phone,” he writes. “These pages reflect observations and perspective rather than advice or instruction.”
* “We’re taught early in life that being afraid is something to be ashamed of. This is wrongheaded. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps us alive. When I went through the Army’s airborne and air assault schools and learned to jump out of planes and slide down ropes hanging from helicopters, I did not want to be sitting next to any trooper who wasn’t just a little afraid about what he or she was going to do.”

* “Strength is about getting something done, even when you have iron-clad excuses or reasons for not doing it. Your mom has a hard time seeing how she exemplifies this, but she has shown it to us every day.”

* “Everyone has things they don’t want to do—there’s no crime in that. But there’s a big difference between ‘can’t’ and ‘don’t want to’ when it comes to facing the path of comfort or the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge . . . I am proposing that ‘can do’ is often just one or two short steps beyond ‘can’t do,’ and the territory in between is fertile ground for personal growth and professional achievement.”

* “The value of noticing and caring about what is right in front of your face—simple, common social graces. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you,’ for starters, but also giving credit to others when and where credit is due, taking a personal interest in those you serve or who serve you, and ‘unplugging’ from gadgets and the churn around you in order to give a person your full attention. These are simple to talk about but harder to do, and they not only lead to success but encourage others to help you succeed or manage your failures.”

* “There is a time and a place for crying and laughing. And figuring out how to cry and laugh at hardship or death is as kill worth honing into a fine art when you’re young.”

* “Pain and suffering—self inflicted or otherwise—is not merely a rude interruption of your journey, but one of the very purposes of the journey.”

* “If I’m truly and finally proud of anything in my life, it is that I lived it in constant striving, continuous searching, and willing struggle, while conducting as honest an exploration of this world as I knew how to do.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2013

"He died in the most horrific way possible"

'He died in the most horrific way possible': Wife's devastation over her British soldier husband hacked to death by Muslim fanatic

 Drummer Lee Rigby

Serving his country on the dusty battlefields of Afghanistan, he risked his life facing Taliban bullets and roadside bombs.  Back in Britain after a gruelling deployment in one of the most dangerous places imaginable, Drummer Lee Rigby would have been thankful to have emerged unscathed.

But, four years later, on a supposedly safe London high street, the young soldier was brutally cut down in his prime, butchered by crazed Islamic fanatics wielding cleavers and knives.

In broad daylight, Drummer Rigby, 25, the married father of a little boy, was run over then hacked to death in front of horrified onlookers.

The pair, who were known to the security services, shouted ‘Allah Akhbar’ – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – as they mercilessly slaughtered the defenceless serviceman.

A statement released by his family said: ‘Lee was lovely. He would do anything for anybody, he always looked after his sisters and always protected them. He took a “big brother” role with everyone.

‘All he wanted to do from when he was a little boy was be in the Army. He wanted to live life and enjoy himself.

‘His family meant everything to him. He was a loving son, husband, father, brother, and uncle, and a friend to many.’

A brother in law of the soldier’s wife Rebecca, 30, said she was ‘absolutely in bits’.

Speaking from her family’s home in Halifax, he said: ‘He died in the most horrific way possible, it’s shocking and unimaginable.’

Murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby 'would do anything for anybody’

Family and colleagues pay tribute to loving father and talented parade drummer Lee Rigby, who served with distinction in Afghanistan .

Drummer Rigby’s colleagues from 2nd Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, described him as one of its “great characters”. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor, the commanding officer of the Second Fusiliers, led tributes to the “dedicated and professional soldier”, a talented parade drummer who performed outside the Royal Palaces and whose strong personality marked him out to work in Army recruitment.
“He was a real character. Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums. An experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus.

Horrific is right.  May he rest in peace

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:17 AM | Permalink

The Coffinmaker and handcrafted wooden caskets

I wish I could embed this beautiful and powerful video by Dan McComb on Vimeo, but I can't so you have to go here to see it

The Coffinmaker

The description:

Every year, Americans bury enough metal in the ground to rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge, says Vashon Island coffin maker Marcus Daly. His simple, handcrafted wooden coffins are an economical and environmentally friendly burial alternative. But Daly believes a coffin's most important feature is that it can be carried. Here's why.

"I think one of the most important aspects of the coffin is that it can be carried.  And I think we're meant to carry each other and I think carrying someone you love and committing them is very important for us . When we deal with death, we want to know that we have played a part and that we have shouldered our burden.  So, if we make it too convenient then we're depriving ourselves of a chance to get stronger so that we can carry on."

Watching Marcus Daly work is mesmerizing, so is listening to him.

"When I'm out here by myself early in the morning or in the middle of the night or something like that, I can get a sense of how work is love made visible ……. I'm building something for someone that people tend to think is a destination; they think of the grave as the end and I'm trying to illuminate that it's a doorway."

Handmade wooden caskets are beautiful, environmentally sound and far less expensive than caskets sold in funeral homes.  Apart from craftsmen like Marcus Daly, just about the only place you can find wooden caskets made with love are monasteries.

A Casket Cartel and the Louisiana Way of Death

This story begins 1,600 years ago when Benedict of Nursia founded an order of monks and instructed them to put bread on their table through the labor of their own hands. Following this dictate, the entrepreneurial brothers of St. Joseph Abbey—a century-old monastery in Covington, La.—opened a tiny business on All Souls' Day in 2007 to sell the unadorned wooden caskets that they have made for generations.

That's when their ancient ways collided with modern America. The monks had not sold a single casket before the Louisiana State Board of Funeral Directors—acting on a complaint from a government-licensed funeral director—shut them down. In Louisiana, the government had made it a crime to sell caskets in the state without a license. To do so, the monks would have had to transform their monastery into a funeral home, including building an embalming room, and at least one of the monks would have had to leave the order to spend years becoming a licensed funeral director. All of that just to sell a wooden box.

It didn't take a divine revelation to recognize that funeral directors were using the law, the government licensing entity they controlled, and their political clout to monopolize the lucrative casket market. Lacking the worldly guile of their adversaries, the monks put their faith in democracy, petitioning state legislators in 2008 and 2010. Each time, the funeral-industry lobby mobilized to kill the monks' common-sense reform proposals. 

They then went to court.  On March 20, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Benedictine monks of St. Joseph Abbey near Covington, La., have a right to sell caskets in their home state.

“Funeral homes, not independent sellers, have been the problem for consumers with their bundling of product and markups of caskets,” the 19-page opinion said. The “grant of an exclusive right of sale (for licensed funeral directors) adds nothing to protect consumers and puts them at a greater risk of abuse including exploitative prices.”

Saint Joseph Woodworks in LA
Abbey Caskets in Indiana

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:52 AM | Permalink

Killed by suicide jumper

Seven-year-old killed by suicide jumper who plunged on top of her from tenth floor apartment in South Korea

A seven-year-old girl was killed in South Korea when a man committing suicide by jumping off a building landed on her. The little girl was hit by the 40-year-old man’s body after he plunged from his tenth-floor flat.

The man, only identified as Mr Jang, is said to have jumped from his flat in the southern port of Busan on Wednesday evening.

In what is being reported as a suicide, Mr Jang hit his neighbour’s daughter as she emerged from the apartment building, SBS TV reports.

The girl, who was with her father at the time of the incident, was taken to hospital but pronounced dead soon after arrival.  Mr Jang died immediately at the scene.

What a tragedy for her parents and family.  May she rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 AM | Permalink

Richard III buried in hurry, squashed in a grave with his hands tied behind his back

The final moments of Richard IIIs burial revealed: King was squashed into tiny grave with his hands still tied by gravediggers 'in a hurry'

Richard III was squashed into a tiny, badly prepared ‘lozenge’ shaped pit with his hands tied as gravediggers rushed to bury him, a new paper reveals.
The University of Leicester researchers found Richard was casually placed in a badly prepared grave, which suggests the gravediggers were in a hurry to bury him.

The grave was too short for him and was 'lozenge' shaped, with the bottom of the much smaller than opening at ground level.  His head was propped up against one corner of the grave - suggesting the gravediggers had made no attempt to rearrange the body once it had been lowered in - and there were no signs of a shroud or coffin.

-Richard Iii Earliest Surviving Portrait

Richard III  was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, is sometimes regarded as the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of the play Richard III by William Shakespeare.
Because of the circumstances of his accession and in consequence of Henry VII's victory, Richard III's remains received burial without pomp and were lost for more than five centuries. In 2012, an archaeological excavation was conducted on a city council car park using ground-penetrating radar on the site once occupied by Greyfriars, Leicester. The University of Leicester confirmed on 4 February 2013 that a skeleton found in the excavation was, beyond reasonable doubt, that of Richard III, based on a combination of evidence from radiocarbon dating, comparison with contemporary reports of his appearance, and a comparison of his mitochondrial DNA with two matrilineal descendants of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 AM | Permalink

A photo he will treasure for the rest of his life

This photo of an unidentified man will be framed and prominently displayed for the rest of his life

San Francisco Giants fan catches foul ball with right hand while holding baby with his left

 Dad Catches Foul Ball

Go the link to see the video

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2013

Married 83 years, parted by death

America's longest married couple are finally parted by death… after 83 years

The world's longest married couple have finally been separated after 83 years - by death.    The accolade enjoyed by Steve Wrubel, 103, and his wife Vickie, 102, from Tampa Bay, Florida, came to an end on Monday morning when Vickie passed away.

 Married 83 Years

After the 102-year-old broke her hip two years ago and began to suffer from other problems due to old age, she was moved to a nursing home where Steve would visit her every day.  They would sit together in silence, holding hands, as they always did.

Her niece Jane Messing told The Tampa Bay Times the fuss made over their long marriage made her feel special. 'Like a princess,' Messing said.

The Wrubel's lived together in an adult living facility in Romeo, Michigan, until Vickie silently slipped away on Monday morning.

'They made a mark. They took care of each other. They loved each other and set an example.
'Thank God she and Uncle Steve were finally together at the end.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 PM | Permalink

Death by Killer Bees

Mountaineer found dead hanging from cliff in climbing gear covered in BEE STINGS…along with his loyal dog

A climber and his faithful dog have perished in Arizona after they appear to have been attacked by killer bees as he scaled a cliff.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office says that 55-year-old Steven Johnson, a counselor with some 30 years experience hiking and climbing was found dead, hanging 70-feet from the ground in his climbing gear in the Santa Rita Mountains on Monday night.

The cause of death has not been determined yet, but officials said that Johnson was covered in bee stings when he was found while his dead dog was discovered at the top of the cliff.

Johnson was last seen Friday when he went hiking, and friends became worried when he didn't go to work on Monday.

Sheriff's Lt. Raoul Rodriguez says Johnson may have disturbed bees by hammering a spike into the cliff.

Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said the 55-year-old man was found hanging from his climbing gear on a cliff near Mount Hopkins

'He had anchored himself to the wall as he was going down so he was actually anchored and he must have been attacked and was not able to climb back up or go back down,' said Rodriguez.

He said Johnson's dog had also been attacked by bees and was found dead nearby.

Johnson is described as a father, climber and friend, who was well-liked throughout the climbing community in Southern Arizona.
Once stung, the bee releases a pheromone that attracts other bees to attack - which is why most African bee attacks are in swarms.

Condolences to his family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 PM | Permalink

Mourners flee funeral as the 'deceased' wakes up in his coffin

Dead man 'resurrected' after waking up in the middle of his own funeral

Mourners at a funeral in Zimbabwe were stunned when the dead man woke up as they filed by his coffin, state media reported today.

Brighton Dama Zanthe, 34, was being laid to rest inside a coffin last Monday after he apparently died at his home following a long illness.
The transport worker's grieving family covered his body with blankets and made arrangements to transfer him to a local mortuary, according to a report in the Herald newspaper.

But the next day Mr Zanthe's friends and relatives scattered in disbelief when he started moving as they filed past to say their emotional goodbyes.

The dead man's boss Lot Gaka told the Herald of the moment he realised his employee was still alive.  He said: 'I was the first to notice Zanthe's moving legs as I was in the queue to view his body. This shocked me.  'At first I could not believe my eyes but later realised that there was indeed some movements on the body as other mourners retreated in disbelief.'

Mr Gaka, who runs a bus company in the midlands city of Gweru, told the newspaper Mr Zanthe had been persistently unwell before his 'death' last week. Zanthe's body had already been put in a coffin and people were preparing to conduct a body viewing procession so that his body could be taken to a mortuary.

'It was during the body viewing procession that he "resurrected".'  Another witness told the state-controlled newspaper how the family desperately pulled blankets off Mr Zanthe's body to try to revive him after realising he was still alive.

He said: 'Gaka later removed some blankets from Zanthe's body after we noticed some movements and this was when we all realised that there was still life. 'We then called an ambulance which came within seven minutes.  'It's really a miracle and most people are still in disbelief.'

The Herald, which is owned by Zimbabwe's government, reported that Mr Zanthe spent two days on life support after being rushed to the Gweru Provincial Hospital following the incident.  He was discharged last week and has since returned home.

The shaken family man told the newspaper he had only a hazy recollection of the event.  He said: 'This issue can be best told by people who came to my house to attend my funeral. 'I don't know what happened and I only remember being on a life support system in hospital.'

He added: 'Everything is history to me. 'What I can only confirm is that people gathered at my house to mourn but I was given another chance and I am alive. I feel okay now.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:27 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2013

Dribbling soccer ball to Brazil for the World's Cup, Man is Hit and Killed by Truck in Oregon

 Richard Swanson Soccer Ball

Father, 42, trying to dribble soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil is hit and killed by truck in Oregon just 14 days and 260 miles into his quest

A Seattle man attempting to dribble a soccer ball 10,000 miles to Brazil in time for the 2014 World Cup for charity has died after being hit by a pickup truck on the Oregon Coast just 14 days into his mission.

Police in Lincoln City say 42-year-old Richard Swanson was hit on Tuesday morning while walking south along U.S. Highway 101 near the city limits.

He was declared dead at a hospital. The driver has not been charged and is said to be cooperating.

Very sad.  May he rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2013

Relearning the art of dying

We need to relearn the art of dying

The taboo has simply shifted, however. As the door to the bedroom has been thrown open, access to the deathbed has been barred. No one seems to linger long there, conversationally or otherwise: too often, a death is treated like an embarrassing fact, a regrettable failure of life that is best hushed up.

As Dr Granger carried on talking, with admirable courage and lucidity, I began to feel that whatever tweets she felt able to send from her deathbed would be well worth reading, and might do the rest of us a great deal of good. She already has a blog, on which she discusses matters such as planning her own funeral, the vagaries of end-of-life care, and the irritations of the faintly bullying, upbeat language that people use when describing cancer patients. There, she writes with passion, humour and honesty, but without self-pity or mawkishness: none the less, when I got to the point at which she made comforting plans for her final hours – “I want Mum to read to me like she used to when we were kids” – it was impossible not to cry.

We are built to cling to life, unless that instinct is withered in us through long suffering, extreme altruism or despair, and so when we read about the deaths of other people, we are moved partly because we start imagining our own: the pain of leaving the people we love, and their confusion at our departure. Or we think of the helplessness of watching someone we love slipping beyond our reach. The notion of death is so mysterious and enormous that, in many cases, it seems easier just to lock it away, although it has a way of escaping and sneaking up on our peripheral vision.

Still, the option of pretending to ignore death (for a period of our lives, at least) has not been available to the bulk of humanity throughout history. In the 15th century, when the Ars moriendi, or “Art of Dying”, was written, the book desperately sought to popularise the concept of a “good death”, partly because – in the aftermath of the Black Death – an early demise was so frequent and lurid that some kind of etiquette guide was required. Both real-life accounts and novels were later preoccupied with the deathbed scene, which was, in many ways, the dramatic high point of a person’s life. It was their moment in which to forgive, regret, recant or curse, the final deal, the instant at which they revealed their essential self, and onlookers were unashamedly interested in it.

I can never think of the deaths of those I knew and loved, even those who were very old, without some small recurrent aftershock, some fresh sense of the overwhelming strangeness of their disappearance. The ritual of mourning and the ceremony of the funeral or memorial provides shapes for grief to stumble into, yet even those are designed primarily to comfort the living. What our society presently lacks – save for a few enlightened homes and hospices – is much structured means of comforting the dying, who are too often abandoned in hospital wards surprised by fear and pain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2013

Clothespin gravestone

Giant Clothespin Gravestone


The clothespin gravestone marked the grave of W. Jack Crowell, who owned the National Clothespin Company, the last wooden clothespin manufacturer in the United States (today it produces plastic clothespins and barrettes). Originally, Jack wanted a giant clothespin with real spring so children could teeter on it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2013

The Girl Who Refused To Die and Woke Up Just in Time

Just before Organ Harvesting, Comatose Patient Recovers

 Carina Melchior Refused To Die

Carina Melchior is a 20-year-old Danish woman who was plunged in the middle of controversy by two close encounters with death — the first in a car crash last year that put her in a coma; the second in a hospital, where doctors persuaded her parents to donate her organs and shut off her life support.

But Carina recovered, and she now is at the center of a storm of questions about the criteria for brain death, over-aggressive transplant agencies and the commodification of the human body.

What might have been played out quietly in an obscure Danish civil-law courtroom became a national cause célèbre with the airing early in October of a TV documentary called Pigen Der Ikke Ville Do (The Girl Who Refused to Die) that was viewed by 1.7 million people.

The documentary follows the Melchior family as they learn of the seriousness of Carina’s injuries, are told she cannot recover because her brain is dead, and are asked to donate her organs to people who need them.

Carina’s father, Kim Melchior, asks if there is any chance of “a small miracle anywhere.”
None, the medical staff at Aarhus University Hospital reply.

But a few days after being taken off her respirator, while hospital attendants are waiting for her body to shut down, Carina began to move her legs and open her eyes.

The documentary shows her awake and expressing confidence in her ability to recover, get her own apartment, begin work and resume her pastime of horse jumping.

“I will be working as a graphic designer and be able to ride Mathilde properly,” she tells the interviewer.
The hospital administration reacted with a mixture of embarrassment at their mistake and pleasure at the girl’s recovery.

“We are overjoyed that the young woman has survived and that she is moving on after the accident,” said chief medical officer Claus Thomsen.

The hospital has apologized for asking permission of her parents prematurely, while insisting that there was no chance that organ harvesting would have proceeded while the girl was still breathing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 PM | Permalink

Unhappy diners 'beat top Japanese chef to death'

Unhappy diners 'beat top Japanese chef to death'

 Japanese Chef Miki Nozawa

Top Japanese chef Miki Nozawa has died after apparently being attacked by two German men who were unhappy with the fried noodles from his restaurant on the North Sea island of Sylt.

The men, aged 36 and 50 are thought to have beaten 57-year-old Nozawa to death outside a strip club on the upmarket holiday island, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday.

Earlier in the evening the pair had eaten Nozawa's beef, vegetable and fried noodle dish, which they disliked and refused to pay for. They left his restaurant and headed to a nearby strip club, where they bumped into the chef.

Nozawa recognized them and insisted both give him €10 – a request that was not met well and as the argument escalated the trio went outside. It was allegedly there that the two handymen beat the chef so badly he had to be taken to hospital.

He died on Tuesday as a result of his injuries, Ulrike Stahlmann-Liebelt, state prosecutor from the nearby city of Flensburg, confirmed. She would not say whether reports that the men beat him until his entire left side was, as the Bild newspaper said, “one big purple bruise,” were true.

Rest in peace

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:15 PM | Permalink

Going to the Gallows with a Grin

Gallows used to hang bootlegger who SMILED as he faced death at one of America's last public executions in 1928 are discovered in an old barn

The gallows used to hang an infamous prohibition-era gangster in one of America's last public executions have been discovered in a dusty old barn.  Bootlegger Charlie Birger was hanged in the town of Benton on April 19, 1928. He famously went to his death with a grin telling the crowd who had gathered to watch: 'It's a beautiful world.'

He had been sentenced to death for ordering the murder of an Illinois town's mayor and was one of the last people to be publicly hanged in the state of Illinois.

 Birger's Last Stand


Charlie Birger, a Russian immigrant whose real name was Shachna Itzik Birger, was executed on April 19, 1928 after spending a year in jail.
According to the jail museum, he was a well-liked 'protector,' known for tossing coins to kids and even sharing his wealth among a few neighbors in the southern Illinois community of Harrisburg.

In the mid 1920s he famously went to war with the Ku Klux Klan who supported supported prohibition viewing alcohol as 'un-American'.
To law enforcement, he was known for for his bootlegging business, which he ran out of a speakeasy called the Shady Rest.

The business is what led him to be convicted in plotting the murder of Joseph Adams, who was the mayor of West City, Illinois.
Adams got into the middle of a turf war between Birger's gang and another group of bootleggers and as violence escalated, Adams wound up dead.  He was allegedly shot to death at the front door of his home by two of Birgers' men.

Birger was later arrested for plotting Adams' murder.
Some say Birger's smile on the day of his hanging could have been a result of the dosage of morphine he was provided just before he walked to the gallows.  Others claim, however, that Birger had actually declined the drugs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

Bill Murray recalls the last time he saw Gilda Radner

Old Love

“Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.

So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”

We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.

And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.

It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink

May 14, 2013

Young girl killed in India for her organs

British schoolgirl 'murdered for her organs' in India, family claim

Gurkiren Kaur Loyal's family said she was being treated for a simple case of dehydration when staff at a clinic gave her a mystery injection which took her life.

Her relatives said they guarded the eight-year-old's body, meaning her organs could not be taken in time to be used in transplant operations.

But she was then subjected to a "medieval" post-mortem, during which all her major organs were removed in a bid to hide the truth of how she had been killed, the grieving family claim.

It was only once her body was flown home to Britain that they discovered her organs were missing and only her eyes remained, the family said.
The Indian police and medical authorities made little attempt to investigate the death, they say.
Her mother Amrit Kaur Loyal said: "My baby was innocent and now I am devastated without her. Gurkiren was fine, she was chatting to us and planned to buy some gifts for her cousins. While we were talking an assistant came up carrying a pre-filled syringe and reached for the tube in her hand.

"I asked what was the injection for, but he gave me a blank look and injected the liquid into her.

"Within a split-second Gurkiren's head flipped back, her eyes rolled in her head, and the colour completely drained from her. I knew they had killed her on the spot. I knew my innocent child had been murdered."

Coun Kooner, a friend the family, said it was "highly probable" that she had been killed in a bid to harvest her organs.
There is reportedly a "lucrative underground market" for human organs in India.

In 2007, Ravindranath Seppan, of the Chennai Doctors' Association for Social Equality, admitted: "India's rich are turning to India's poor to live longer."

He said the commercial trade of human organs remained big business, despite having been banned in 1994.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:36 PM | Permalink

A botched funeral for Navy Seals leads to call for a congressional investigation

Navy Seal Team 6 were the special forces that hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011

Just 93 days later, 30 American troops, most of them members of Team 6 were among 39  killed in Afghanistan when the Chinook helicopter they were riding in was shot down by a Taliban fired rocket-propelled grenade in the largest single loss of life since the war in Afghanistan began.   

Last week, families of the fallen soldiers held a press conference to claim that the US government is as responsible for the deaths of their sons as the Taliban.

• Both Vice President Biden and President Obama broke protocol to reveal Navy Seal Team 6 as Bin Laden's killers and by so doing put a  target on their backs.    Protocol would require that they be referred to only as "special forces".

• These men were sent on a hastily planned mission intended to aid 47 Army Rangers in the Tangi Valley even though the Rangers controlled the battle zone

without special operation aviation but with a standard transport Chinook helicopter, without proper air support, i.e. no escort, without the requested pre-assault fire, but with Afghani forces inserted at the last minute who were not properly vetted.

Even more disturbing was their funeral.    It was a bizarre mixed Judeo-Christian funeral for the servicemen mixed in with a Muslim funeral for the Afghanis.

Military brass prohibited any mention of a Judeo-Christian God at their funeral, but instead invited a Muslim cleric whose prayer over the fallen has the families up in arms.  You can see the imam prayer here in this video.  I have copied the subtitles below>

“Amen I shelter in Allah from the devil who has been cast with stones. In the name of Allah the merciful giver. The companions of the fire (the sinners and infidels who are fodder for hell fire )are not equal with the companions of heaven( muslims). The companions of heaven are the winners. Had we sent this Koran to a mountain, you would have seen the mountain prostrated in fear of Allah, (mocking the God of Moses).  Such examples are what we present to the people; to the people, so that they would think (repent and covert to Islam). Blessings are to your God, the God of glory of what they describe. And peace be upon the messengers and thanks be to Allah the lord of both universes.(mankind and Jinn)”

Stephen Coughlin, an Islam expert, was commissioned to provide a 2nd translation. and he claims that the funeral rite that was delivered over the dead soldiers is “a standard funeral rite among Muslims.” Naturally, non-Muslims may be surprised by this claim, but the Islam expert expounded in detail:

“Even a standard prayer is actually a little bit offensive because … it comes from a book of the Koran or a chapter of the Koran that’s basically about defeating the infidels. And [in exploring the issue] I basically showed that there were two verses quoted in the funeral rite.
If you back it up one verse, it gives you the greater context of the fact that the people who are not Muslim are condemned to hell, by those prayers and so I basically showed that. So my point isn’t that the imam was deliberately inflammatory — my point was that it’s inflammatory even when they’re not trying to, because it goes to the issue of the fundamental and irreconcilable difference between Islamic orientation and a non-Muslim orientation.”
While they initially expected footage from the event to arrive (it is apparently standard procedure for military families to get video of funeral proceedings before the body is sent back home), they purportedly never receive it. But in January, a source that the family declined to name finally sent it to them.

The Vaughn family held onto the footage for a few weeks before watching, understanding that it would be an emotional experience for them. While Karen enjoyed the prayer that was seemingly offered by a U.S. chaplain — the one that came before the imam’s — she said that her “jaw literally dropped” when she heard the cleric’s portion of the address.

“We knew instantly we needed to translate this,” she said, noting that she contacted a friend who has experience with Arabic translations.

The family sat on the video for months, as the grieving parents considered how to proceed. Now, it appears they have come forward not only about the cleric’s alleged verbal offense, but also about other issues that were highlighted earlier today at the press conference.

“Our sons were subjected to a final act of betrayal by their government,” Karen Vaughn told TheBlaze of the prayer being read.

The families are now seeking a congressional investigation

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2013

"You gave me an opportunity to live"

Officer is reunited with suicidal man he talked down from from the Golden Gate Bridge eight years ago… to find he's now happily married with two kids

 Suicidal Man Golden Gate Being Talked Down

A San Francisco man who almost took his life eight years ago by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge has been reunited with the hero who saved his life.
Kevin Berthia was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005, when he heard the voice of California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs calling out to him from above.

Over 60 life-changing minutes, Briggs managed to convince Berthia, as he has done with hundreds of suicidal men and women, to climb back over the rail and give life another shot. Since that significant day Berthia hasn't looked back and is now happily married with two children.

And this week he was able to thank the man who made all that possible. The pair reunited as part of an emotional ceremony honoring Briggs and other members of the CHP known as the Guardians of the Golden Gate Bridge, whose job it is to gently talk people like Berthia down from the structure.

'It was phenomenal,' Berthia, 30, told Yahoo News about the reunion at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention public service ceremony.

'I didn't know what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react,' he said. 'But when I first saw him, he walked up me and I just shook his hand. It felt like I had known this man my whole life. The nerves weren't there. It was just two old friends being reunited.'

As he presented Briggs with the award, Bertha explained how grateful he was for Briggs' help and urged others to seek help, insisting they could too get better and life a fulfilled life.

'I didn't want him to try and stop me but now I'm glad he did,' he told the crowd. 'All I can say is that I am truly grateful. You gave me an opportunity to live.'

A resounding image of the man clinging to the bridge as Briggs spoke to him provoked an outpouring of support from the Bay area community.

After he received the award, Briggs said he was 'very humbled, honored and happy' to have the recognition for his team's hard work.

'I (accept this award) on behalf of the California Highway Patrol and police officers across this country who strive to do their best each and every time they receive a suicide call.

'During my career I've encountered numerous suicide attempts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Of those attempts, I've only lost one person. It's something you never forget.

'Kevin found the courage in himself that day to climb back over the rail, thus beginning a new stage in his life. Here, standing before us, is the reason we do what we do.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:38 PM | Permalink

May 10, 2013

"I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again"

Seamstress weeps with relief as she is rescued from rubble SEVENTEEN days after Bangladesh clothing factory collapsed killing more than 1,000 people

A seamstress wept with relief as she was pulled alive from the rubble of the Bangladesh clothing factory, 17 days after the disaster that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Nineteen-year-old Reshma Begum, who emerged almost unscathed, had been trapped near a basement prayer room and survived by scavenging for dried food in the wreckage around her.

She was discovered after rescuers heard groaning, moments before they were due to demolish a concrete slab surrounding the tiny space where she was entombed.

 19-Year-Old Girl Rescued Bangladesh

Speaking from her hospital bed in Dhaka, she said: 'It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again.'

She told police she had made contact with three other people under the rubble, but one by one they fell silent - rescue workers later recovered their bodies near from where Reshma was found.

The incredible discovery came as the death toll from the accident, which has become the world's worst industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, rose above 1,000. There are fears many more bodies are trapped inside.
'I heard voices of the rescue workers for the past several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention,' she told the private Somoy TV from her hospital bed as doctors and nurses milled about, giving her saline and checking her condition.

'No one heard me. It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again,' she said.

'There was some dried food around me. I ate the dried food for 15 days.
'The last two days I had nothing but water. I used to drink only a limited quantity of water to save it. I had some bottles of water around me,' she said.

It is unimaginable how horrific this fire and collapse has been.  How many grieving families.  More than 1000 people lost so we could have cheap clothes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:26 PM | Permalink

No F-words on headstones

Late rapper's family denied headstone inscribed with song lyric because it included the F-word

Sonny ‘Uno’ Santiago, 23, was a rapper who died in a car crash in February. Commissioners at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn this week unanimously rejected his family's request to inscribe his gravestone with a song verse that included a profanity.

The panel became aware of the language when the company inscribing the 3-foot tall memorial submitted drawings to commissioners.

The inscription read: 'You gonna remember the damn name, I give a f*** if I die with no damn friends, I got my fam by my side and that’s until the end.’

Pine Grove Cemetery regulations posted online state that ‘the cemetery office must approve all inscription work on monuments.’

City officials contacted the family about the inscription and they agreed to have the gravestone inscribed with a different, profanity-free verse from a song Santiago wrote.

Good for them.  I hope all other cemeteries take not of the regulations they should impose on themselves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 PM | Permalink

The Burial of Tamerlan

Nobody wanted his body. The Worcester police chief asked for assistance in burying the terrorist, the Boston bomber.  An anonymous individual stepped up and the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev was buried at an undisclosed location in the middle of the night.

Thomas L. McDonald reminds us that burying the dead is one of the seven corporal acts of mercy.  Tobit, and Tamerlan: The Dignity of Burial

Tobit was a righteous man. His story is told in the book of the Bible that bears his name….

Tobit is a man who performs many acts of charity, but the most dangerous is his burial of the dead, particularly strangers, and, notably, those who have been executed.
Touching the dead rendered one impure for a period of time. Although it was a necessary thing to do, performing the act for strangers is a profound act of charity. Indeed, Tobit is forced to sleep outside after performing the burial because he is impure, and he winds up blind as a result.
Some of the bodies buried by Tobit have been cast “beyond the wall,” where the unjust would have been thrown. It’s interesting to note, however, that the only place in the law where rapid burial is explicitly commanded is in the case of criminals who have been executed….
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

Sudden deaths of people who never imagined that they were going to die that day

Adding to the recent spate of sudden deaths of people who were just out having a good time are these stories, each one reminding us of our mortality.

A 62-year-old man dies skydiving with friend when his parachute malfunctions

A 62-year-old woman was out jogging in Littlerock, about 40 miles northeast of L.A. when she was 'mauled to death' by 4 pitbulls

A British Olympic champion, Andrew Simpson, was killed after his 50 MPH catamaran capsized while he was practicing for the America's Cup and he was stuck under its hull for 10 minutes.

They were on their honeymoon on Reunion Island, an overseas region of France located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius.  While his wife lay on the beach, a French man on his honeymoon went surfing when sharks attacked and killed him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

Death by Killer Bees

Mountaineer found dead hanging from cliff in climbing gear covered in BEE STINGS…along with his loyal dog

A climber and his faithful dog have perished in Arizona after they appear to have been attacked by killer bees as he scaled a cliff.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office says that 55-year-old Steven Johnson, a counselor with some 30 years experience hiking and climbing was found dead, hanging 70-feet from the ground in his climbing gear in the Santa Rita Mountains on Monday night.

The cause of death has not been determined yet, but officials said that Johnson was covered in bee stings when he was found while his dead dog was discovered at the top of the cliff.

Johnson was last seen Friday when he went hiking, and friends became worried when he didn't go to work on Monday.

Sheriff's Lt. Raoul Rodriguez says Johnson may have disturbed bees by hammering a spike into the cliff.

Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said the 55-year-old man was found hanging from his climbing gear on a cliff near Mount Hopkins

'He had anchored himself to the wall as he was going down so he was actually anchored and he must have been attacked and was not able to climb back up or go back down,' said Rodriguez.

He said Johnson's dog had also been attacked by bees and was found dead nearby.

Johnson is described as a father, climber and friend, who was well-liked throughout the climbing community in Southern Arizona.
Once stung, the bee releases a pheromone that attracts other bees to attack - which is why most African bee attacks are in swarms.

Condolences to his family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2013

Death by angry soccer player

Soccer referee dies after getting punched in the head by angry teen player he called foul on

A 46-year-old soccer referee who was punched by a teenage player during a game and later slipped into a coma has died, police said.

Ricardo Portillo of Salt Lake City passed away at the hospital, where he was being treated following the assault last weekend, Unified police spokesman Justin Hoyal said Saturday night.

Police have accused a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league of punching Portillo after the man called a foul on him and issued him a yellow card.

“The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call,” Hoyal said in a press release.

The teen, whose name hasn’t been released because of his age, has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault.

It was a Vicious punch

A police report said the incident happened April 27 at a youth match at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorville. As players jostled for position, Portillo saw the suspect – a goalkeeper — push an opponent with his hands.

Portillo issued a yellow card to the suspect and began writing the infraction in his official’s notebook.

After that, the suspect punched the referee on the head. Feeling dizzy, Portillo sat down and began vomiting blood, according to police officer Jason Huggard in his report.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:08 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2013

How Not to Die: The videos of Angelo Volande Angelo Volandes's low-tech, high-empathy plan to revolutionize end-of-life care

He decided to go to medical school, not just to cure people but “to learn how people suffer and what the implications of dying and suffering and understanding that experience are like.” Halfway through med school at Yale, on the recommendation of a doctor he met one day at the gym, he took a year off to study documentary filmmaking, another of his interests. At the time, it seemed a digression.

That man is Angelo Volande who may very well revolutionize the way you die.

Unless you are a doctor or nurse, you don't have much experience in medical end-of-life decisions.    So when it comes to medical decisions that must be made for a family member who is very ill and probably dying, most people would choose the medical care that is most life-prolonging. Of course, I want my mother to be feed even if it means a feeding tube.

But doctors who have lots of experience in such end-of-life decisions choose quite differently.  They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care that they could want.  But, they choose not to have 'heroic' and aggressive treatments.  They chose comfort care and quality of life.  As a result, they are far more likely to have a gentle and serene death.

Angelo Volande is bringing videos to those who are making end-of-life medical decisions so they will know what doctors know.

How Not to Die  Angelo Volandes's low-tech, high-empathy plan to rend-of-life care.

Volandes nods. “Here’s the sad reality,” he says. “Physicians are good people. They want to do the right things. And yet all of us, behind closed doors, in the cafeteria, say, ‘Do you believe what we did to that patient? Do you believe what we put that patient through?’ Every single physician has stories. Not one. Lots of stories.

“In the health-care debate, we’ve heard a lot about useless care, wasteful care, futile care. What we….have been struggling with is unwanted care. That’s far more concerning. That’s not avoidable care. That’s wrongful care. I think that’s the most urgent issue facing America today, is people getting medical interventions that, if they were more informed, they would not want. It happens all the time.”

I think he's right on the money with this.

Unwanted treatment is American medicine’s dark continent. No one knows its extent, and few people want to talk about it. The U.S. medical system was built to treat anything that might be treatable, at any stage of life—even near the end, when there is no hope of a cure, and when the patient, if fully informed, might prefer quality time and relative normalcy to all-out intervention.
What should have taken place was what is known in the medical profession as The Conversation. The momentum of medical maximalism should have slowed long enough for a doctor or a social worker to sit down with him and me to explain, patiently and in plain English, his condition and his treatment options, to learn what his goals were for the time he had left, and to establish how much and what kind of treatment he really desired.

The first film he made featured a patient with advanced dementia. It showed her inability to converse, move about, or feed herself. When Volandes finished the film, he ran a randomized clinical trial with a group of nine other doctors. All of their patients listened to a verbal description of advanced dementia, and some of them also watched the video. All were then asked whether they preferred life-prolonging care (which does everything possible to keep patients alive), limited care (an intermediate option), or comfort care (which aims to maximize comfort and relieve pain). The results were striking: patients who had seen the video were significantly more likely to choose comfort care than those who hadn’t seen it (86 percent versus 64 percent). Volandes published that study in 2009, following it a year later with an even more striking trial, this one showing a video to patients dying of cancer. Of those who saw it, more than 90 percent chose comfort care—versus 22 percent of those who received only verbal descriptions. The implications, to Volandes, were clear: “Videos communicate better than just a stand-alone conversation. And when people get good communication and understand what’s involved, many, if not most, tend not to want a lot of the aggressive stuff that they’re getting.”

Even now, after years of refinement, Volandes’s finished videos look deceptively unimpressive. They’re short, and they’re bland. But that, it turns out, is what is most impressive about them. Other videos describing treatment options—for, say, breast cancer or heart disease—can last upwards of 30 minutes. Volandes’s films, by contrast, average six or seven minutes. They are meant to be screened on iPads or laptops, amid the bustle of a clinic or hospital room.

They are also meant to be banal, a goal that requires a meticulous, if perverse, application of the filmmaker’s art. “Videos are an aesthetic medium; you an manipulate people’s perspective,” Volandes says. “I want to provide information without evoking visceral emotions.
Routine use, however, is far, far away. According to Volandes, only a few dozen U.S. hospitals, out of more than 5,700, are using his videos
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2013

Video shows why the proposed memorial to Dwight Eisenhower as designed by Frank Gehry should never be built

The current proposed Washington memorial to President Eisenhower designed by Frank Gehry is a de-constuctionist horror that even the family opposes.  George Weigel called it "ghastly"

Quoting biographer Steven Ambrose's description, “Dwight Eisenhower was a great and good man. He was one of the outstanding leaders of the Western world of [the 20th] century,” Weigel calls the proposed memorial an "historical and aesthetic travesty".

The present Eisenhower Memorial design, by postmodernist Frank Gehry, has virtually nothing to do with the Dwight David Eisenhower of history. Plans call for Ike to be memorialized in sculpture as a barefoot farmboy on the Great Plains: not the great wartime leader; not the soldier-diplomat; not the chief executive of the United States who presided over eight years of peace and prosperity. The Gehry conceit seems both obvious and entirely in tune with the postmodern deconstruction of history: There are no great men; there are no great virtues; there is no great striving; nor is there great accomplishment or great service to others. No one, visiting the Eisenhower Memorial as designed by Frank Gehry, would have the slightest reason to grasp the truth of the man himself, as Stephen Ambrose once described him:

As a soldier, he was, as George C. Marshall said at the end of the war, everything that the U.S. Army hoped for in its finest products — professionally competent, well versed in the history of war, decisive, well disciplined, courageous, dedicated, and popular with his men, his subordinates, and his superiors. His leadership qualities also included a high degree of intelligence, integrity, commitment to basic principles, dignity, organizational genius, tremendous energy, and diplomatic ability. As a man, he was good-looking, considerate of and concerned about others, loyal to friends and family, given to terrible rages (which he learned to control), ambitious, thin-skinned and sensitive to criticism, stubborn and inflexible about his habits, an avid sportsman and sports fan, modest (but never falsely so), almost embarrassingly unsophisticated in his musical, artistic, and literary tastes, intensely curious about people and places, often refreshingly naïve, fun-loving — in short, a wonderful man to know or be around. Nearly everyone who knew him liked him immensely, many — including some of the most powerful men in the world — to the point of adulation.

None of this is conveyed by the sculpture of a barefoot boy on the plains. None of it is conveyed by the other elements in the Gehry design: 80-foot-tall, nondescript cylindrical posts (they can’t even be properly described as pillars) holding up perforated metal “tapestries,” creating what Gehry himself once called a “theater for cars.” But what does a “theater for cars,” or any other kind of postmodernist knock-off of a Fifties drive-in, have to do with creating a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander who planned the invasion of Normandy, the president who ended the Korean War and who proposed “Open Skies” as a means to lower the temperature of the Cold War?

A new  video slams the unbuilt memorial for its $142 million cost and impermanent design.

The design for a proposed Eisenhower Memorial has inspired much heartache and anger among historians, architects, veterans and even the Eisenhower family, who say this wasn't the way they imagined a monument to the 34th president and D-Day commander.

The video, created by the National Monuments Foundation in Atlanta and shared with Whispers Tuesday, uses digital modeling to show viewers exactly what the unbuilt monument would look like, and the foundation says the results are troubling.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink