July 30, 2015

Compose a Keepsake Cookbook for the Mourners at Your Funeral

This is a wonderful idea

Heather King quotes from The essay “Funeral Cookbooks” by Alan Davidson, in The Penguin Book of Food and Drink

"There is a custom which I have met only in Thailand, whereby a person composes a small cookbook before her or his death, so that it can be distributed as a keepsake to the mourners attending the funeral.

The recipes, typically no more than a score, are likely to be those which the deceased especially enjoyed. They need not have been composed or used by the deceased, but often are. Sometimes they incorporate little anecdotes and attributions. . . .

The idea is attractive. With what better keepsake could one depart from a funeral? What other would equally well keep one's memory green among friends? If one is to issue some sort of posthumous message, avoiding anything egotistical or hortatory, is not a simple message about enjoyable food the best that could be devised? It is true that one could equally well compose a list of 'books I have enjoyed,' but that might seem didactic, even patronising; whereas a little bouquet of recipes arrives on a more relaxed note."

And then Heather offers her own recipe for Tuscan Rosemary and Pine Nut Bars which I will definitely try.

¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup (1 stick) utter, cut in 10 pieces
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary or1 teaspoon dried
1 cup flour

Spread pine nuts on baking sheet and toast, stirring once or twice, at 350 degrees until a shade darker and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully; pine nuts burn easily.)

Melt butter in microwave or in medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar, rosemary and pine nuts. Stir in flour to make dough; it will be stiff.

Pat dough evenly into ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and firm at edges, about 20 minutes. Cool pan on rack about 2 minutes, then use sharp knife to cut bars into 16 squares. Let cool in pan at least 10 minutes before removing with small spatula. (Store, tightly covered, up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month.)

16 cookies. Each cookie 105 calories….
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

July 29, 2015

The "Hold On, Wait Man" and his Great Legacy

A retired Japanese police officer has saved an estimated 500 lives in the past decade after devoting himself to preventing suicides.

Yukio Shige patrols the Tojinbo cliffs in Fukui Prefecture with a pair of binoculars, on the lookout for people who are about to jump.    The 70-year-old has come to be known as the ‘chotto matte man’, meaning the ‘Hold on, wait man.

 Shige Saved 500-Lives

Although a popular tourist site, the Tojinbo cliffs on Japan’s west coast have also developed a reputation as a notorious suicide spot. Mr Shige goes to the cliffs every day, accompanied by his three volunteers.Together, the team spot potential jumpers and try to talk them out of it.

His selfless mission was inspired by the tragic suicide of a friend, and he can clearly remember the day he got a call from the police to inform him of the death.

"They told me he killed himself. He rented a car in north eastern Japan and drove into the ocean,’... Odditycentral.com. I’ve seen so much grief. I don’t wish to hear any more mourning….If you stop and picture that scene; someone sitting and believing that their only option is to end everything, alone with their shadow, I truly feel that they want help….They want someone to step in and save them.’

But Mr Shige doesn’t just haul people back from the cliff edge. He has devoted his life to improving the lives of others and to persuading them that suicide is not the answer, and helps them get their lives back on track.

‘We take those that want our help to the six apartments we own, so that they can repair and rebuild their lives,’ he continued.‘We help them get their lives back. This is what I do.’

The first time that Mr Shige came into contact with a suicidal person was in 2003, and the experience shook him to the core. He was on one of his last patrols of his career, before he was due to retire, and he met an elderly couple who owned a pub and were struggling to cope with the soaring debt. They confessed to him their plan to throw themselves into the sea at sunset. But Mr Shige talked them out of their decision, calling a patrol car for them and taking them to a public welfare bureau. Despite his desperate attempts to get the couple welfare support, the couple were turned away and five days later they hanged themselves.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 AM | Permalink

July 27, 2015

Should we harvest blood from the dead?

Ross Pomery argues  yes in Real Clear Science

Scarcely a week goes by without news of a blood shortage somewhere in the United States. Summertime in particular sees supplies on the wane. With families on vacation and schools out of session, the American Red Cross regularly witnesses a dip in donations.  But with one simple change, blood shortages in the United States could be drastically reduced, or perhaps eliminated entirely. It's a solution seemingly out of Count Dracula's playbook: drain blood from the dead.

Unpalatable and macabre at first glance, the idea actually makes a lot of sense. Roughly 15 million pints of blood are donated each year by approximately 9.2 million individuals. Over the course of the same year, about 2.6 million Americans will -- sadly -- pass away. If hospitals were to harvest the blood from a third of those people, roughly 4.5 million liters would be added to the reservoir.

Contrary to what you might think, blood from cadavers is not only usable, but quite safe.

"For six to eight hours, the blood inside a dead body remains sterile and the red blood cells retain their oxygen-carrying capabilities," Mary Roach reported in her book Stiff.  In fact, as Roach further described, "For twenty-eight years, the Sklifosovsky Institute [in Moscow] happily transfused cadaver blood, some twenty-five tons of the stuff, meeting 70 percent of its clinics needs."

The idea has never caught on in the United States, however, primarily out of public distaste. Tampering with the body of a deceased individual frequently evokes ethical conundrums and moral aversions in the minds of many.

However, draining the blood from a body is hardly out of the ordinary; it's actually a regular part of the embalming process…..

….. staff might have to be trained in a more primitive technique. After obtaining familial consent and conducting necessary tests, a larger needle attached to a more voluminous tube would be inserted into the jugular vein at the neck. Then the body would be tilted downward so the blood flows out with the aid of gravity. Simple, effective, yet perhaps a tad morbid…

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds, and more than 41,000 donations are needed each day. Taking blood from cadavers could ensure that no patient is ever deprived of the life-giving blood they need.
Is this any different from organ donation?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:00 PM | Permalink

July 19, 2015

“When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down"



The quote from the lyrics of Laurie Anderson’s song World Without End is also the title of this sculpture by Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg via A Library That Plummets into an Abyss

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2015

Simulated Cremation

Bizarre thrill.  Tourists flock to experience real-life CREMATION in ‘death simulator’ at Chinese amusement park

The ride, called 'The Cremator', offers the morbidly curious to opportunity to find out what it might feel like to be cremated using a system of hot air and light projections.

The experience begins with a journey through the 'morgue', following which they are placed in a coffin and put on a conveyor belt…..They are then carried through a chamber filled with hot air, to simulate the flames used during cremation. Screams and shrieks echo through the chamber, and everyone who tries the ride comes out drenched in sweat. Although whether the sweat is from fear or from the extreme heat has not been made clear.

'I am never coming back,' said a number of women on leaving the ride, while laughing nervously. Another added: 'It was horrifying.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink

Why Nairobi

“That is probably the most alien, jarring thing about working in Africa: life is much cheaper. More to the point, death is very close to you. We're very removed from death here. Someone can die at 89 in their sleep here and it's called a tragedy. In Africa, I find that I'm often exposed to it. That's part of why I wanted to live there.”

James Verini, a freelance writer based out of Nairobi, won the 2015 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.

Via Brain-Pickings and  Longform podcast

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink