I don't expect to be reincarnated,
so I'll blog about dying and death (with appropriate irreverence) while I'm still alive.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ways to go

Here's a list of the 15 most common causes of death in the United States, provided by CDC/NHS, National Vital Statistics System. Pick a good one.

Percent of Total
1. Diseases of the heart 28.5
2. Malignant tumors22.8
3. Cerebrovascular diseases6.7
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases5.1
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries)4.4
6. Diabetes mellitus3.0
7. Influenza and pneumonia2.7
8. Alzheimer's disease2.4
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 1.7
10. Septicemia (blood poisoning) 1.4
11. Suicide1.3
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis1.1
13. Primary hypertension and hypertensive renal disease 0.8
14. Parkinson's disease (tied)0.7
15. Homicide (tied) 0.7

And for the entire world (from the World Health Organization):

1. Ischemic heart disease 12.6
2. Cerebrovascular diseases9.7
3. Lower respiratory infections (e.g., pneumonia)6.8
4. HIV/AIDS 4.9
5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease4.8
6. Diarrheal diseases 3.2
7. Tuberculosis 2.7
8. Malaria (tied) 2.2
9. Cancer of trachea/bronchus/lung (tied) 2.2
10. Road traffic accidents 2.1
11. Childhood diseases 2.0
12. other unintentional injuries (tied) 1.6
13. Hypertensive heart disease (tied)1.6
14. Suicide (tied)1.5
15. Stomach cancer (tied)

(burger photo from

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can there be a funny book about widowhood? Sure.

A female reviewer said that Barbara Barth's The Unfaithful Widow: Fragmented Memoirs Of My First Year Alone "is a book for anyone who has a void to fill in her life."

That's much too limiting.

No void is necessary, and the book is not just for females. It's a book for anyone seeking entertainment and anyone who might benefit from inspiration to keep going. It's also for everyone who likes dogs and soft-core dirty talk.

Barbara Barth is a master (mistress?) storyteller, with an uncanny ability to recall or recreate dialog. She is able to pluck humor from sadness. She shows proper respect for the past without being a prisoner of the past. Barbara demonstrates impressive resilience, strength and the ability to keep looking ahead despite widowhood, bad dates, and the death of a dog. Her unwillingness to accept cliche roles dictated by age, custom or gender are important lessons for everyone.

I don't want to concentrate only on the inspirational aspects of the book, because it is a LOT OF FUN.

I read the Kindle version on a bumpy train ride. I was tired and woozy. A lesser book would have made me turn off my iPad. With Barbara's book, I kept tapping to turn the electronic pages to see what happens next. The woman sitting next to me wondered what was making me laugh and she started reading along with me. I read faster than she did, and let her catch up before I turned the pages.

Although I didn't "get" the cover illustration (it's apparently a chick thing) and at times I thought I was overhearing a conversation that was meant just for women (number of bras owned, evaluating a man's butt), at other times I thought Barbara was talking directly to me.

Buy the book and hear what Barbara has to say to you. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

His dying words

The wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table one Sunday morning.

I said to her, “When I die, I want you to immediately sell all of my stuff.”

“Now why would you want me to do that?” she asked.

“I figure that you would eventually remarry and I don’t want some asshole using my stuff.”

She looked at me and said, “What makes you think I’d marry another asshole?”

(Thank you, Harry.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You know you're old when...

Here are some benchmarks of aging:

At age 5, you love playing on the floor. At age 50 you hate getting down on the floor because it's hard to get up.

At age 6, a nap is a punishment. At age 40, a nap is a mini-vacation.

At age 8, you need help with complicated things. At age 18, you provide help to others. At age 58, you need help again.

At age 10, you're insulted if a waitress calls you "honey." At age 30 it feels nice. At age 50 you call the waitress "honey."

At age 16, you hate needing a parent to drive you in the car. At age 60, it's nice to have a driver.

Around age 20 in rural areas or 22 in more developed areas, you first notice cops who are younger than you are.

By age 24 you notice teachers and bus drivers who are younger than you are.

By age 30 you notice doctors and clergypeople who are younger than you are.

By age 32 you notice elected officials who are younger than you are.

By age 35, store clerks and restaurant servers start calling you "sir" or "ma'am."

By age 40 you notice college presidents who are younger than you are.

By age 45 you realize that some people whom you always thought were older than you, are really younger.

By age 47 you start getting asked if you have a senior citizens discount card.

By age 50 there are heads of nations who are younger than you are.

By age 52 you talk more about the things you've done than about the things you want to do.

By age 55 you realize that that "new" restaurant has been around for 50 years.

By age 57 you start watching TV commercials you never cared about before.

By age 58, you realize that some of your contemporaries have retired--or died.

By age 59, some old friends don't recognize you--or you don't recognize them.

By age 60 you look forward to hitting 65 and collecting Social Security.

By age 61 you realize that you are not immortal.

By age 62 you stop making long-term investments for retirement.

By age 63 you attend more funerals than weddings.

By age 64 you start giving away more than you buy.

By age 66 you decide that wearing a hearing aid wouldn't be so terrible.

By age 75 you stop buying green bananas or any other fruit that needs time to ripen before eating.

By age 80 you don't give a shit what anyone thinks about you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This week is weird

Adapted from Wikipedia: In Jewish tradition, The Book of Life is opened on Rosh Hashanah (which started on the evening of September 8), when God begins an annual evaluation of everyone.

Those who will be allowed to live stay in the Book of Life. Others are deleted.

The ten days that start with Rosh Hashanah are known as the Days of Awe, and the Days of Repentance. This is a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur (which ends at sundown on September 18). It can't hurt for non-Jews to try it, too. You can also repent in February or August, or on every day. Off-season repentance may not buy you another year, but maybe it will help.

God is said to have two "books"-- a book of life and a book of death, and records who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year.

It is said that these books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. The actions that change the decision are repentance, prayer and good deeds (usually charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur.

A common greeting at this time of year is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

So why is this week weird for me?

Today I'm supposed to get the results of a prostate biopsy and will find out if I have cancer. Later this week I go to the hospital to get my kidney stones zapped, and the next day I see a cardiologist about my extra heartbeat. Life was much simpler when our ancestors got eaten by dinosaurs when they were teenagers.

I hope both the docs and God write good reports--for all of you, and me.

UPDATE (Friday 9/17): Some good news. I don't have prostate cancer and the kidney stone lithotripsy treatment went "very well." I'll be peeing blood for a while and have to pee into a screened funnel to catch crunchy stuff (pulverized kidney stones) for the lab to analyze. I have a prescription for Vicodin ( just like Dr. Gregory House) for when it hurts to pee out the crunchies. Blood and crunchies are much better than cancer.

(Photo from

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How come nobody's protesting?

Since 9/11/2001, there have been about 360,000 automotive fatalities in the USA. That's the equivalent of more than one 9/11 massacre each month.               

About 40,000 Americans die because of automotive accidents each year--an average of 114 per day! Only a tiny percentage of the killer-drivers are Arabs or Muslims.

  • Motor vehicles accidents account for more deaths than all natural disasters combined. In fact in the United States your chances of being injured in an motor vehicle accident is better than one in a thousand, in any one year.
  • If you are a male, than you are twice as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than if you are a female. Yet, if you are a female you are slightly more likely to be injured.
  • The ages of 16 and 24 are the most dangerous for both sexes.
  • Between the ages of 16 and 64 alcohol figures into over 20% of all fatal accidents, and between the ages of 21 and 44 almost 50% of all fatalities.
  • Between the ages of 16 and 44 the fatality rate has declined since 1975. The most significant decline being in the 16 - 20 age group.
  • About half of all property damage accidents result in injuries or fatalities.
  • Since 1966 the rate of fatalities by population has fallen around 40%, by numbers of drivers over 50%, and by numbers of miles driven by almost 70%. We are driving a lot more miles and driving is still safer.
  • As we are get older we are more likely to die as a pedestrian, but we are more likely to be injured the younger we are.
  • Approximately 15% of people who die because of motor vehicle accidents are pedestrians, bicyclists or other wise not in motor vehicles.
  • Over two thirds of people who die in vehicles are not properly wearing safety restraints.
  • Your risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident is almost five times more likely in Mississippi than in Massachusetts.
  • You are ten times more likely to die driving a motorcycle than if you are driving any other motor vehicle.
(photo from

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Un-Bucket List.
I'd rather be pushing up daisies than pulling up weeds.

The Bucket List is a terrific 2008 movie in which Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson play two old guys who leave a hospital's cancer ward to accomplish the things on their "bucket list." That's the list of things they want to do before "kicking the bucket," and includes race car driving, skydiving, climbing the Pyramids and a lion safari.

I don't have a bucket list. There's not much that I want to do that I have not yet done in 64 years--other than see a few countries, bungee jump from the George Washington  Bridge, know that one person who really pissed me off endures an extremely painful death, and maybe travel back to one amazing weekend in 1967. Oh, and it might be nice to re-grow the hairs that used to be on my head, arms and legs, and to be able to buy "Indian nuts." And to go though 24 hours without some body part aching.

This morning, in my miserable role as suburban husband and homeowner, I was once again reminded of all of the things that I ABSOLUTELY HATE to deal with, and presumably will not have to deal with after I croak.

So, here's the beginning of my UN-BUCKET LIST:

Pulling up weeds
Vacuuming algae from the pool
Cleaning a fish tank
Unclogging ice cubes stuck together in the freezer
Writing checks
Mailing anything
Packing to move
Picking up plastic peanuts
Mopping up
Hanging tools back up on the Pegboard
Searching for keys and eyeglasses
Trying to convince my Golden Retriever to drop a shirt or shoe
Making small talk, especially in a hospital
Being pressured to taste something I know I'll hate
Listening to Christmas music in stores
Listening to political commercials
Clearing a clogged toilet with someone else's shit in it
Airplane "food"
Sloppy "professional" painters
Restaurants with off-brand crappy soda
Bad bagels
Requests for my opinion when I don't give a shit
People who ask me what to do and then do something else
Returning things to Sam's Club without a receipt (Costco is MUCH better)
Returning empty bottles to get the deposits back
Taking bags of stuff to Goodwill
Taking crap to the municipal transfer station (i.e., the dump)
Sorting out papers for Income Tax
Sorting out mixed screws, nails and other small hardware
Picking up the wrong screwdriver
Buying a tool to replace a lost tool and then finding the lost tool
The Tea Party, The Palins, Joe the alleged plumber
Levi whatzizname, the almost Palin son-in-law
Old Communists
Blue laws
Cleaning out the car before paying to have it cleaned
Thinking about painting
People who don't show up, or call if they're going to be late
People who change their phone numbers more than once in a lifetime
Going shopping with my wife
Going shopping for my wife
My wife going shopping with me
My wife going shopping for me
Stupid names, especially names that are not pronounced the way they're spelled
Shitty movies
Shitty TV shows
Hearing sloppy speech ("So, I was like, 'how the fuck are you?'")
Negotiating anything
Bending over for anything
Women with PMS
Fat people in tight pants
Plumbers' butt
Un-dyed hair roots
People who insist that Apple computers are easier to use than Windows computers
Junk mail
Wearing a tie
Newspaper sections that I pay to receive, sort out, schlep for recycling--but NEVER read
Duplicate copies of Parade magazine. One copy is one too much.
The New York Post
Errors in newspapers, magazines and books
People who buy a bankrupt restaurant, spend six months and a million bucks redecorating, and then open and quickly go bankrupt. They could've done fine with new paint, menus and tablecloths.
Too-small napkins
Too-small beverage glasses
Overpriced eyeglasses
Paying 40 cents more for a medium cup of tea instead of a small one.
Waiting for a table in a restaurant
Waiting for a doctor
Waiting for people who are late (especially my late wife)
Waiting in line at the Post Office
Waiting for my turn to pick up a prescription
Waiting for anything
Waiting for anyone
Unavailability of clam chowder except on Fridays
Unavailability of Manhattan clam chowder--even in Manhattan
Too-salty potato chips
Intermittent malfunctions
Cars that won't start
Slow gasoline pumps
Gasoline pumps that require me to hold the trigger
Getting rained-on while filling my tank
Shoppers with full carts ahead of me on the supermarket express lane
Parking lots with too many handicapped spots and too few regular spots
Soda with no carbonation
Crab legs (They taste good, but are too much work.)
Conservative assholes on the radio
Liberal assholes on the radio
Stomach aches
Pains and problems that doctors can't diagnose or cure
Computer fuckups
Bad toupees
Gefilte fish
Bottled water from Dannon ("Yogurt water")
Most other soft cheeses
Tzatziki sauce (I eat gyros with tomato sauce.)
Dumb holidays that force me to pay employees to skip work and go shopping or get drunk
Trimming shrubbery
Medical insurance
Forgetting to do things
Forgetting how to do things
Forgetting names
Misplacing keys
Misplacing important papers
Cleaning the pool filter cartridges
Buying things that have to be returned
Wasting taxpayers' money
Crooks in pulpits and politics
Picking up broken glass
Tech support people who repeat my question but don't understand it
Under-cooked eggrolls
Exotic lettuce (i.e., anything other than iceberg or the stuff in Caesar salad)
Pizza with too much cheese
White "pizza" (if it doesn't have tomato sauce, it's not pizza, Goddammit!)
Pens that run out of ink too soon
Having too many of the wrong-size batteries
Having too many of the wrong printer cartridges
Printer cartridges that go out-of-date before using them
Getting phone calls from stock brokers, search engine wizards and insurance salesmen
Schlepping out the recycling bin
Restaurant kitchens with a huge selection of good ingredients, but nothing good on the menu
Citroens and other ugly cars
Our non-metric system
Converting Fahrenheit to Celcius, and vice-versa
Learning to use a new camera
Forgetting how to use a camera
Losing remote controls
Chinese restaurants that don't understand what NO SCALLIONS means
Doggie drool on a book
Picking up dog shit
People who are afraid of my big, friendly dog
Changing flat tires
Ice cream joints that don't make ice cream sodas
Forgetting what day it is
Late airplanes
Shoveling snow
Las Vegas water
Store salesmen who assume I want to bargain when I really don't want to buy the ugly piece of crap
Bad pistachios
Bad pickles
Bad pizza
Bad waiters
Too-wet coleslaw
Ice cream that has defrosted and refrozen
Power failures
People who are sure they won't like something that they've never tried
Senior moments (a.k.a., brain farts)
Forms that have to be filled out with a pen on paper, not on the web.
Forms that have spaces that are too small for the info that has to go in the spaces
People on the phone who ask for an account number a few seconds after I keyed-in the account number
People who misspell my name
Errors in take-out or delivered food
Misdirected mail
Rectal exams
Prostate biopsies with no anesthetic
Waiting for results of a prostate biopsy

I'm sure I'll think of more to add. Readers' contributions are welcome.