Friday, September 16, 2016

Oddities and Endings

Thought for the day:  What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? [W.H. Davies]

There's no end to the number of things in this world that are worthy of a little staring and studying. We can never know or understand it all in one lifetime, but that's no excuse for not trying. For not questioning. For not appreciating.

Today, we're gonna consider a handful of little-known facts that simply struck my fancy. Mental odds and ends, I guess you could call them.

If there's only one thing in your junk drawer, what do you call it... an odd or an end...?




[wikipedia]

This first one is about an ending. Everyone's familiar with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, but did you realize what a vital role engineers played that day? What sacrifices they made? Of the twenty-five engineers on board, not a single one survived. That's because they manned the pumps, and kept the electricity running for as long as possible, so the lights and radio remained operational... so others could escape and survive.

The disaster was not of their doing, but they died heroes, trying to correct the mistakes of others; knowing their own survival unlikely, they died so that others might have a chance to live. [ F.J. Blake, White Star Engineering Superintendent]

[Daily Knowledge Newsletter]
This one is more of an ending, followed by a shiny new beginning. In 1999, Australian Bill Morgan, 37 years old, was involved in a serious truck accident. While being treated in the hospital, an allergic reaction to a medication caused him to have a heart attack. A fatal heart attack. The guy actually flat-lined for fourteen minutes before doctors could revive him... only to spend the next twelve days in a deep coma. With no expectations of a recovery, doctors advised his family to pull the plug. But nope...  this guy wasn't done yet. He not only woke up, against all odds, but he was fine... all of his faculties were intact. With his new miraculous lease on life, he proposed to  his long-time girlfriend, and when she accepted, he bought a lottery ticket to celebrate. He won a new car. A Melbourne TV station, intrigued with his tale, asked him to re-enact buying and scratching off a lottery ticket for their news segment. So he did... and he won again. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Dontcha love stories with a happy ending and a bright new beginning?

[RIA Novosta]
This picture shows people lining up to get water during the WWII siege of Leningrad, a 900-day period of oppression and deprivation that lasted from September of 1941 until the spring of '44. Many people died during that time, and among them, nine Soviet scientists who starved to death while protecting... the world's largest seed bank.

Created in 1926 by scientist Nikolai Vavilov, Pavlovsk Station contained four hundred thousand seeds, roots and fruits, and was established with the goal of ending world famine. When the Germans took over their city in 1941, the Pavlovsk Station scientists starved to death rather than eat any of the food they were protecting, because they considered it to be their country's hope for the future.

The fictionalized retelling of this story can be found in the novel Hunger, by Elise Blackwell. It is also immortalized in the song When the War Came, by the Decemberists.

[wikipedia]
In 1947, boxer Jimmy Doyle challenged welterweight champ Sugar Ray Robinson to a title bout. Robinson initially agreed, but then tried to back out after he had a vivid dream in which he'd killed his opponent in the ring. The promoters stood to lose a lot of money if they had to cancel the fight, so they got a priest and a minister to convince Robinson that it was only a dream, and the fight should go on as scheduled. It did go on, but in the eighth round, Doyle hit the canvas, and never regained consciousness. He died seventeen hours later. Following his death, boxing rules were changed, so that fighters who suffered serious head injuries (as Doyle had in several previous bouts) wouldn't be allowed to fight again. The twenty-two year old had promised to buy his mother a house with his winnings, a promise he was unable to keep... but Robinson kept it for him. He donated all of his money from his next four fights to Doyle's mother. Robinson retired in 1965, was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in '67, and founded the Sugar Ray Robinson Youth Foundation for inner-city children in '69. Ironically, his foundation never sponsored a boxing program.

Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that's in rhythm, or you're in trouble. [Sugar Ray Robinson]

[Australian Red Cross]
Back to Australia for the last story. Meet James Harrison, AKA the man with the golden arm. When he was fourteen years old, he had major surgery, in which he received thirteen liters of blood, He swore that as soon as he turned eighteen, he'd pay it back by becoming a blood donor. He was a man true to his word. Matter of fact, he's been in the Guinness Book of World Records since 2003 for the most blood donated by one person. And his donations have saved more than two million babies.

That's because he has a rare antigen in his blood that can cure Rhesus disease. Research based on his blood led to the creation of RhoGAM, which is administered to women whose blood may be incompatible with their babies because of Rh factor. (Like me!) By donating on the average of every three weeks for fifty-seven years, Mr. Harrison reached his one thousandth donation in May of 2011. He reached 1106 as of June of 2015, and he's still going strong. Why? Because he still sees it as a duty and a way to pay it forward. What an amazing man. He gave the gift of life to millions of people. Including my children.

[David Gray/Reuters/Landov]






































                             On that happy feel-good note, I'll say adieu for now.

                           Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


70 comments:

  1. People like those bless all of us!!

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  2. What a great post today.
    Mr. Harrison, what a fabulous person and a hero. I teared up when I read about him and his connection to you and your children. Wonderful !
    I used to give blood when I could. It is the easiest way to help people in need.
    I don't have the special blood like Mr. Harrison but I am O Positive. And that is the most needed blood type. So I was always happy to donate.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

      My blood is B negative, which is kinda rare, but my outlook on life is B POSITIVE...

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  3. Some really lovely stories today. Thank you so much. My father had the RH factor in his blood and donated all his life. I have been banned and can no longer give blood but the youngest of my brothers donates plasma each fortnight and drives the blood bus to collect other donors.
    Love the story about Bill Morgan too. His luck was in wasn't it? After it was definitively out.

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    1. Even though my blood type is on the rare side, I can't donate anymore, either, because of all of the medications I take. Bummer.

      Your brother sounds every bit as sweet as you are. :)

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  4. Thanks, Susan, for introducing me to heroes --and reminding me of others. This is a memorable and instructive post that comes at good time. Your clear and positive outlook is a beacon, a most effective light, to all who wish for a kinder world.

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    1. Gee, thanks, dude. I think all of us would like to see a kinder world. Maybe someday...

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  5. Hi Susan - what an amazing collection of stories ... and reminding us we can all help. So glad your kids were helped through James Patterson. Also that Bill Morgan story, the seed bank, Titanic, and Sugar Ray Robinson events ... so fascinating to read about .. thanks so much for sharing. My odds and ends don't reach these levels ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary. I'm glad you liked the stories. Some stories just beg to be shared. :)

      Cheers back atcha.

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  6. I've heard about the blood donor man, I think it's a wonderful thing he's doing and hope he is able to continue.
    I'm unable to donate now, having fainted at my last few attempts. They asked me not to come back.
    I'm grateful too, to the scientists who protected the food bank seeds.

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    1. I'm glad you heard about the blood donor man. I imagine he is... and should be... a well-known hero in your country.

      I sometimes got light-headed when donating blood as a young, skinny gal with low blood pressure, but I never fainted. None of those factors are operative these days, but now the darned medications I take have removed me from the donor list.

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  7. Wow, so many fascinating facts! The one about James Harrison is so touching, and all the luck Bill Morgan ended up having is simply mind-boggling (in a good way).

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    1. Yeah, I thought all of these stories were fascinating. I'm glad you did, too. :)

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  8. Excellent way to end the week! I hope that guy who won big in Australia lived happily ever after :)

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, me too. I'm a real sucker for a happy ending.

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  9. Brilliant stories. Keep 'em coming!

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  10. I love all these stories! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Cool! I'm glad you did. It's always my pleasure to share stories like this.

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  11. Wow, that is a lot of blood. Awesome guy indeed. Damn, I wish I had 10% of the mojo that guy who won the lottery twice has.

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    1. I know what you mean about that guy's mojo. I wonder if it's lasted...

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  12. Fascinating stories. Thanks for sharing them.

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  13. The cat meme at the end made me laugh!

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    1. That cat has a very similar attitude to the one our cats carry around. :)

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  14. Wow, these are all amazing stories! It's nice to hear some good news for a change.

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    1. Yep, good news sure beats whatever we hear and read about most days.

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  15. you pull together quite a string of stories - truly odds and ends, not junk. Good stuff and happy Friday

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    1. You know what they say: one man's junk is another man's treasure. :)

      Happy Friday to you, too. Here's to a super weekend!

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  16. Some incredible facts there Susan. I certainly had never heard them before. Never thought about the engineers on the Titanic. Certainly never heard the Leningrad story or the other stories. Thanks for telling them to us. I liked the cat too.

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    1. I'm glad you liked the stories, Jo. It's always fun to come across stories like this, and to share them.

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  17. All of these stories are absolutely fascinating - and the only one I've ever heard of before was the engineers on the Titanic.
    The Bill Morgan story is really amazing.

    As for donating blood - I don't have enough to spare.....

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    1. That Bill Morgan was one lucky guy. I hope his good luck has continued.

      HA! You'd be surprised how much blood we can spare. :)

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  18. All incredible stories but the story of Bill Morgan takes the cake. If I read that in a fiction book I'd think it was too far-fetched to be believable! Wow.

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    1. I know! Truth really IS stranger than fiction!

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  19. Wow! Each one of those stories gave me goosebumps. What a brilliant collection of real life deeds.

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    1. Oh dear. Then you'd better put on a sweater, young lady! :)

      It's good to hear from you, kiddo.

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  20. Golly, gosh, I love the things you come up with. This post was especially good! Positives from negatives!

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    1. Thanks! It's always fun putting posts like this together.

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  21. I used to donate blood a lot. I have a type they need for babies (not like the Australian guy, just that they never had enough of it.) and they used to call me all the time. Now I'm on medication that won't allow me to donate. I've felt quite bad about that.

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    1. Don't feel too badly. A lot of us are in the same situation with taking medications. :(

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  22. Applause to all, and in particular, the Man with a Golden Arm. (So says the Rh baby.) The last time I tried giving blood, my veins were stingy; after 25 minutes I said, "That's enough." The time before, my blood pressure was too low. I think the universe is trying to tell me something!

    All these vignettes were fascinating!

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    1. Our family is mighty grateful to the man with the golden arm, too. :)

      I'm glad you enjoyed the stories.

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  23. Today's collection of stories is just the right thing to make me smile. And what a great guy James Harrison is - and what a cool connection you have with him!

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    1. Cool! I'm glad you found something here to make you smile.

      Yes, Mr. Harrison is a genuine hero for millions of people all over the world. What a legacy! And yep, it really is a small world, isn't it?

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  24. Wow, these are such inspirational stories. Especially in these times of so much strife, it's good to hear about the heroes.

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    1. We can never hear too many inspirational stories, and we need them to remind us that in spite of some of the horrible things we hear on the news, people are still capable of doing great and selfless things.

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  25. Susan, these are such great stories, I think we all need to hear/read some uplifting stories like these...

    James Harrison is a true hero with giving back and helping others endlessly...

    How wonderful Bill Morgan overcame such terrible odd... xox

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    1. Hi-ya, Launna. I agree. We can all use as many uplifting stories as we can find.

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  26. All those impressive facts and the stories behind them: thank you, and you must be an avid reader!
    I especially liked the brave Titanic engineers.

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    1. Dear Britta,

      I'm glad you liked the stories, and yes, I read waaaaaay too much. (if that's even possible...)

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  27. I didn't know that about the Titanic. What heroes! Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Hi-ya. Welcome back!

      That Titanic story is one most of us never even thought about before. Talk about unsung heroes!

      Greetings back atcha!

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  28. Amazing and interesting stories. I specially like the one about James Harrison. That's a devoted life to a cause.

    Jasmine x

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    1. Mr. Harrison definitely made a commitment to making a positive difference in the world.

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  29. Wonderful collection of stories, Susan. What a terrific way to start Monday. Wish I’d come here first rather than read the news. Fortunately, James Harrison left me with a smile. Thank you.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the stories. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot to smile about in the news these days, so I'm glad Mr. Harrison filled the bill.

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  30. Heroes and happy stories. I'll take it--the whole lot. Thank you for that. Here's to an amazing week to come, filled with cheese and inspiration!

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    1. A week filled with cheese and inspiration sounds like a winner to me, especially if I can throw in some good seafood or a steak. :)

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  31. Such amazing stories. I'm glad people like this are around. This was all new to me.

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    1. I'm grateful there are people like this, too.

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  32. Starved to death while guarding a seed bank?!?! That is.. man.. just wow. Crazy post, thanks for sharing! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. Isn't that amazing? Their convictions were stronger than their drive to survive. Such a rare thing!

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  33. Hmm...interesting to read this. I had no idea.

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  34. What interesting stories. I had to Google Bill Morgan, because that almost sounds like an urban legend, but it's not. The video itself is pretty incredible.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se8VM0j5B6A

    Also, my wife and her mother have both had premonition dreams before, and none of them have ever been wrong. Thankfully none of them have been about deaths.

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    1. I'm glad you checked the story. (Keep me honest.) I've seen a number of videos about Morgan, and he's simply gotta be one of the luckiest dudes ever!

      I've also had premonition dreams, and one was about the death of my grandmother. She died that same night. (And no, she wasn't sick, and she was only 63 or 64 years old.)

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