Matt Brundage

Archive for the 'death' category

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Robert Gaudin Greene, June 23, 1924–September 27, 2016

Robert Gaudin Greene

From the beginning, there were strands that once anchored me to my childhood. In government, it was President Ronald Reagan. In faith, Pope John Paul II (now Saint John Paul the Great). In sports, baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. In music, Brian Wilson. And in family, it was my late grandfather, Robert Gaudin Greene. It’s hard to explain, but their continued presence in my life served as a sort of willful suspension of time. In a way, I could keep telling myself, “Time isn’t really passing …” or “The world is just as it was …” as long as my childhood heroes — my strands — were still alive and thriving. As long as Papa was around, I was still but a child, an adolescent. But on Tuesday morning, another strand came loose, as my grandfather passed into eternal life.

His obituary:

On September 27, 2016 Robert Morgan Gaudin Greene, age 92, peacefully passed away in Rockville, MD. He was born on June 23, 1924 in Waco, TX, the 6th of 7 children, the fourth of five sons — the Martlet — of James Floyd Greene and Mary Louise Dupre. At the age of five, his family settled in Birmingham, AL where he attended Lakeview Elementary School, Ramsay High School, Birmingham Southern College, and Howard College (now Samford University). He enlisted in the US Navy in World War II, advancing to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. He served on the destroyer U.S.S. Hall, the hospital ship U.S.S. Consolation, and the gasoline tanker U.S.S. Patapsco. After the War, he settled in the Washington D.C. area and received a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Catholic University of America. He married the former Ellen Rowena Deckelman on November 8, 1952.

Robert Gaudin Greene weds Ellen Rowena Deckelman on November 8, 1952

Mr. Greene had a varied career starting as a Mechanical Engineer for the Bureau of Ships Model Basin and then to the U.S. Army Biological Laboratories at Fort Detrick. He served as the Patent Security Officer of the U.S. Army from 1973 until 1980. After 26 years of Army employment, he retired in 1980 as a General Engineer from Headquarters US Army Material Command. He was a life-long Catholic with membership in the Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary and Holy Name Society and was a founding member of St Elizabeth Parish in Rockville, MD. He attended Gaithersburg Community Bible Study for several years. Among his hobbies were fishing, crossword puzzles, Scrabble, antique clock repair, traveling, and being among family. He leaves behind his beloved wife Ellen, and 3 children: Theresa M. Brundage (Geoffrey) of Olney, MD, Paul V. of Rockville, MD and Kevin M. (Amy) of Elmira, NY, 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. He was pre-deceased by 1 grandchild in 1998. He is survived by a brother, Edward A. Greene of Chevy Chase, MD.

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “You never have to ask someone if they’re a veteran, because they’ll just tell you. And then they’ll keep reminding you again and again.” However, this saying in no way applied to my grandfather. Very rarely did I hear about his service in the Navy during World War II, or of his employment as a mechanical engineer with the Army during Korea and Vietnam. Papa was always perfectly modest about it, even considering the degree of reverence that society typically bestows upon WWII veterans — the quintessential members of the Greatest Generation.

My only recollection of his time in the Navy comes from his naval enlistment photograph, framed and still hanging in the hallway of his home. I’d pass by that faded photograph from time to time, pausing for just a moment to meditate on the man in the picture. I saw it again recently and it was like peering into a mirror.

Robert Gaudin Greene joins the Navy

From my earliest memories, I witnessed his seemingly unbounded intelligence and curiosity. For instance, he knew the binomial nomenclature of scores of flora and fauna. He restored old clocks and household appliances. For years, he kept his mind sharp by finishing the Washington Post crossword puzzle before breakfast. His copies of the dictionary and the Scrabble players dictionary are ragged and lined with his frequent notes and addenda. Yes, he edited the dictionary!

He retired at age 56, the year I was born. He lived a humble, mostly quiet life in retirement. Even though his lifestyle was never lavish, I still managed to get the impression that he never had to worry about money. As a child, having sleepovers at Grandma and Papa’s house was always a special time, always a calming experience. Papa was, in every sense of the word, a model grandfather.

Deep in my heart — that’s where the knot comes loose.

Robert Gaudin Greene

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage, 2007-2016

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage, spring 2008

April 2008: Sniff, in one of Annie’s favorite pictures

It is with immense sadness that Annie and I announce the death of our first rabbit, Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage. Sniff was born circa June 2007 and died on Friday night, September 2, 2016. He follows his adopted brother, Munch Dallas Brundage into paradise. He is survived by his human sister, Tanya, and his human parents.

We adopted Sniff from a very generous family who was trying to find a new home for their rabbit. We went up to meet them at a nearby mall, and they gave us pretty much everything: cage, food bowl, food, litter, chew toys, and a cute little bunny, wearing a purple vest with a detachable leash. We are forever grateful for their priceless gift. Sniff gave us tremendous joy for nine years.

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage, September 2007

September 2007: Sniff, a few days after we brought him home.

He was truly part of our family. Sniff was a mama’s boy. He would hop over to Annie for a petting and then Munch would follow suit. In his younger days, Sniff used to do his corkscrew hops around the family room. When we lived at the townhouse, he would hop over to Annie from the kitchen and he would circle around her feet, and play with her sweater, which was dangling from a chair. We used to take him for walks outside in his purple harness. Once, during the fall, we took him outside and he got scared of a falling leaf. It was hilarious.

Sniff never liked to be held, but he loved to be petted. He would put his head on Annie’s lap, and just curl up on her legs for a petting. Annie would scratch both sides of his cheeks and rub the top of his head. When we moved to the single family home, Sniff and Munch shared a bedroom and they would hop over to the master suite at night and sleep under our bed. That lasted for a while. After Munch died, Sniff had the bunny room all to himself. He would come over to the master bedroom whenever he heard us, such as when we were giving Tanya a bath, or when Tanya was drinking her milk on the bed. In whatever bedroom we’d happen to be in, Sniff would find us and tunnel under the bed. Tanya and Annie would go up to see him during the daytime, and also in the evening time until I get home. On the rare occasion that Tanya would be sick or cry in the middle of the night, Sniff would hop over and inspect the situation. Whenever Annie would go into Sniff’s room to visit him, Sniff would run circles around her, or flop down over her feet, asking for a petting.

Sniff and Munch used to have a little toy elephant hanging from his cage door. The elephant had this little bell attached to it, so we’d know whenever they entered or exited their cage. Sniff also had this other little metal bell toy. Whenever we’d put it in front of him, Sniff would pick it up with his teeth and fling it out of his way.

Sniff, July 2016

July 2016: Sniff, in his last outdoor photo session.

We would give him lettuce, kale, carrots, and dandelion leaves, but his favorite was kale. We decided to almost completely cut out kale, as we were afraid that he’d get kidney stones like his brother. On the rare occasion that Annie would give him kale, Sniff would smell it coming and get excited before it arrived. After Sniff started to have dental problems and had to get one of his incisors extracted, Annie started shaving his carrots, which were easier for him to gnaw. Recently, Tanya would go outside and look for suitable treats for him, such as dandelions, clover, and occasionally, dried leaves. Sniff used to love to eat dried leaves. I’d call them his bunny potato chips.

Sniff slowly turned into an old rabbit, and was actually on arthritis medication, Pepcid, and pain medication. Annie took Sniff to the rabbit emergency room on Friday afternoon, after he appeared listless and didn’t have an appetite. The doctor said that he had stomach ulcers and a low temperature. Sniff died shortly before midnight. We were planning to go see him the next day, and we thought that we’d be able to hold him at least one more time. Annie was even holding out hope that he’d bounce back and recover. It wasn’t meant to be.

On Saturday, we went back to the animal hospital to pick up Sniff’s body. Annie held him in her arms all the way home. We held a funeral in Sniff’s room. I said my Catholic prayers, and Annie said her Buddhist prayers. As before with Munch, we buried Sniff in the backyard, under a new rosebush just a few feet away from his brother.

Annie still goes up to turn the light on in his room when the sun goes down. Most of Sniff’s things are still where they’ve always been. It’s hard to break routine. We still half expect to see him hop over to the master bedroom, or to open his door and see him lying down in his usual spot on the carpet. We told Tanya that Sniff is in bunny heaven, reunited with Munch.

Sniff and Munch, July 2011

July 2011: Sniff and Munch, sniffing each other.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Munch Dallas Brundage, 2008-2015

Munch on the day we brought him home

July 2008: Munch on the day we brought him home

It is with immense sadness that Annie and I announce the death of our second rabbit, Munch Dallas Brundage. Munch was born circa May 2008 and died on Saturday afternoon, June 27, 2015. He is survived by his adopted brother, Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage, his human sister, Tanya, and his human parents.

Munch was ever true to his name and greatly enjoy meal time; his favorite foods were carrots, kale, and lettuce (in that order). We have seen him finish his own bowl, and then help himself to Sniff’s bowl as well. And of course, he loved to munch on hay throughout the day.

Munch used to do what we call “corkscrew hops,” where he would dash across the room, then leap up and twist his body in mid air. It was a riot.

Munch never liked to be held, but he loved to be petted. He was a very petable rabbit. He would start out in a “Sphinx position” with his two front paws under his chin — kind of scrunched up, but as you pet him, he’d kick out his two hind legs and go into full “long Bunny mode”, with his entire body sprawled out on the floor like a pancake.

When we first adopted him, he was so small that he was able to tunnel behind the shelves in our living room, but as he grew older, he was still trying to go through the same tunnel even after his increasing size caught up with him. For the longest time, he would still attempt to go through his old tunnel.

When Munch was young, he used to go up and down the stairs on occasion. It was the cutest thing watching his butt shimmy down the stairs.

Of the two rabbits, Munch was the laid-back one — in relaxed mode most of the time. Munch was content as long as he got his carrots and his grooming.

Sniff and Munch

April 2009: Sniff (left) and Munch

When we first moved into our current home, the rabbits got their own bedroom at the opposite end of the hallway from the master suite. They were always free to roam around upstairs. Sniff and Munch are not just rabbits to us — they are members of our family. I know that sounds clichéd, but we have to say it. They used to run down the hallway to the master suite, with their ears flopping up and down, like they were about to take off on a runway. We called it the Bunway. Bun-Bun Airlines. Once they got to our room, they’d tunnel under our bed, and used to sleep there — more so when we first moved in. Whenever we got up or disturbed them, they’d thump at us as if we were disturbing their space.

When Tanya was born, we moved the rabbits into the spare bedroom closest to us. The rabbits had previously enjoyed a bedroom with a walk-in closet (a hop-in closet), but now they had to settle for just a regular closet.

Earlier this month, Munch was diagnosed with kidney stones and kidney dysfunction — a fairly typical disorder for domesticated rabbits. On Friday night, we had to put him in overnight intensive care in Virginia, but we knew that the situation was grim. The following morning, the vet called to say that he was not doing well and that he might die in the ICU. The last thing we wanted was for Munch to die all alone without his family, and in a strange place. On Saturday afternoon, we arrived at his side. The vet made it clear that he would not last very long if we brought him home, and that he would be suffering immensely. We had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put him to sleep. We wanted him to remember that Mommy and Daddy were holding him as he drifted off.

We brought Munch’s body home and laid him in his room one last time so that Sniff could say his goodbyes. Sniff had his closure. We’re spending more time with Sniff, as he’s lost his companion. He used to be content to stay in his room with Munch, but lately, he’s taken to hopping around upstairs, looking for us.

On Sunday afternoon, we conducted an hour-long funeral. I said my Catholic prayers and Annie said her Buddhist prayers. We buried him in our backyard under a new rosebush, where we can see his grave site when we look outside.

Today, Tanya asked, “Where’s Munch?” Annie replied, “Munch died and went to Bunny Heaven.”

Tanya and the rabbits

November 2013: Our three babies sharing a snack. Left to right: Tanya, Sniff, and Munch (foreground).

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Weighty disconnect

At my heaviest in March 2008, I was 208 lbs, with a BMI of 27.4. By the criteria set forth by the World Health Organization’s CDC, I was considered overweight. And yet, during that heavy time in my life, no one commented on my weight or urged me to lose weight.

Strangely, the only critical comments I’ve received happened after I dropped a significant amount of weight and got back down to my ideal weight of 160 to 165 lbs. For the record, 165 lbs on a 6″ 1′ frame equals a BMI of 21.7, which comfortably falls within the normal range, according to the CDC. Furthermore, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine asserts that, by lowering my BMI, I had decreased my relative risk of death. At a certain level, this is just common sense, but it’s nice to see it proven with data.

My BMI, 2008 and 2012

Even considering my current BMI (21.7), I actually still have room for improvement! According to the same NEJM study, I could theoretically drop another 20 pounds and further decrease my risk. But oh, the comments I would get.

The irony of all this is that as I was decreasing my relative risk of death in 2009 and 2010, people began to get concerned for my health! Yet, during my twenties, no one said a word as I slowly packed on the pounds, became overweight, and was statistically likely to have a lower life expectancy.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Deer population control: the final solution?

Recently, Annie went walking in Sligo Creek Park and saw a sign announcing the ongoing deer population management initiative, which involves mass killing. The Montgomery County Dept. of Parks will be reviewing public comments through November 10th, and Annie felt compelled to respond.

The letter below is her response to the Montgomery County Dept. of Parks.

cute little deer While my husband and I understand people’s concern regarding the current deer population, we strongly oppose your plans for a mass killing of deer when there’s a more humane alternative available. We’ve found information about a protein contraception vaccine that has been effectively used in Gaithersburg and other areas[1]. We’ve also found information that supports the effectiveness and safety of this method and it shows a 60% reduction in the deer population[1][2]. The cost of this method is lower than what is shown on the reports cited on your website.[3]

From NIST: “Two-shot PZP vaccination programs, sponsored by the HSUS, have been more than 90 percent successful at blocking pregnancies for one year in white-tailed deer and wild horses in other areas of the country. In addition to its proven effectiveness, the PZP vaccine can be delivered easily by darts, cannot pass into the food chain, does not affect normal mating behavior, shows no side effects and allows a return to fertility when no longer administered.”[1]

Even if the contraceptive method has to be done annually, the deer population and the need for contraceptive vaccines will decline[2]. This is a better solution than the annual killing of these deer.

If deer have no natural predators, are we to reduce ourselves to the levels of animals and simply kill? What makes us different is that we have the ability to feel compassion. I’ve been in a car accident involving a deer; deer have eaten plants from my garden. However, I don’t see this as justification for a mass killing of these animals. Deer can’t come to public meetings, send emails, or protest for their right to live. It’s our responsibility to protect those who don’t have a voice and are being inhumanely treated.

Works cited

[1] Deer Immunocontraception at NIST
[2] Deer Contraception Works!
[3] Immunocontraception (Deer Birth Control)

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Communist chic

Cameron Diaz What really gets my blood boiling these days is the “Communist chic”, especially on clothing and apparel. Why has the wearing of the Soviet hammer and sickle, the red star (of both the USSR and China), or images of Che Guevara, Marx, or Mao become stylish?

First, let’s analyze communism/socialism on an absolute basis: 100,000,000 lives lost to democide. Communism, wherever it’s tried, leaves a trail of death.

And what of living conditions of the survivors?

The irony of this is that communism in practice, even after decades of total control, did not improve the lot of the average person, but usually made their living conditions worse than before the revolution. It is not by chance that the greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine.[1]

Throw in chronic political oppression, slave labor, and a basic lack of human rights (including fundamental property rights) and suddenly celebrities, actors, musicians, and Middle America are clamoring to be seen in Communist-themed apparel. Am I missing something here?

I’ve seen images of popular musicians and even television personalities wearing Communist-flavored shirts and hats; for the most part, there is no outrage! These people are subsequently lauded and with no mention of their disgusting logos.

Imagine, for a moment, if a celebrity were to wear, say, a Nazi or Hitler-themed shirt or logo. Remember that Nazi Germany was responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000 people — a number that almost pales in comparison with Communism. This Nazi-logo sporting celebrity would be instantly vilified and his career would be essentially over. Well-meaning people would discuss his sanity (a-la Charles Manson). Yet if that same person were to wear a hammer and sickle shirt, replete with red star and perhaps a Fidel Castro-style hat, he would be seen as yet another rational, sensitive, well-meaning liberal. Unbelievable.

Friday, 9 February 2007

New York Nanny State

Recently, you may have heard about the New York City Board of Health’s push to ban artificial trans fats from restaurant menus. Never mind the fact that trans fat occur naturally in meat and dairy products. Or that trans fats are “FDA-approved”. According to the FDA, a full 17% of our fat consumption comes from margarine. I personally got off the margarine train years ago, but I’ll willing to bet that there are thousands of people of the misguided opinion that margarine is the healthier alternative to butter. Just wait twenty years or so, and margarine will be good for you again.

So: liquid oils — made into solid fats by adding hydrogen — will be banned. But what about saturated fats, shown to be correlated to higher rates of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease? When will the Board of Health push to ban meats, daily, and cheeses, all of which are typically high in saturated fats? Soon, all we’ll have left to cook with is olive oil. Until they declare war on monounsaturated fats.

Sure, the Board of Health may be trying to act in the best interests of the public, but how far should legislation go? Consider this nugget of wisdom from Barry Goldwater:

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

Goldwater’s words strike a chord with those who believe New York is turning into the “Nanny State.” Additionally, the excerpt stands up like a fortress to the illogic of New York State Senator Carl Kruger, who has proposed legislation banning iPods and other such devices whilst crossing a city street.

Kruger says that while he is trying not to intrude upon personal freedoms of New Yorkers, it becomes difficult to leave the problem alone when pedestrians tune-in to an iPod/Blackberry/cell phone/video game only to walk blithely into a speeding bus or moving automobile to meet with near certain death.

Yes, Kruger may say that he is “trying not to intrude upon personal freedoms of New Yorkers…”, but he is failing miserably at his goal. Even without considering the personal liberty issues at stake in this issue, consider the holes in his proposal:

  • People with headphones cannot hear approaching cars or their horns. Neither can the deaf. Should deaf people also be fined for crossing the street?
  • People watching their stock quotes or playing a portable video game aren’t watching traffic. For that matter, nor are the blind. Should blind people also be fined for crossing the street?
  • Should we fine people for not looking both ways?
  • What if the music is coming from an old-school boom box not directly attached to the pedestrian’s ears? What if the pedestrian is listening to music originating from a street performer, a source he cannot readily eliminate without force or coercion? Would the iPod cops put the kabash on street performers in the best interests of pedestrians?
  • Should we fine people who put their hands over their ears as they cross the street?
  • Kruger has said that people can simply take the earbuds out of their ears as they cross the street to avoid the fine. But what if the pedestrian simply pauses the song, essentially turning the device off? How would the iPod cops know? And what would they do about those twenty-something interns wearing earmuffs?

Seriously, Kruger acts as if pedestrian deaths suddenly started happening after the iPod was launched in 2001. I hate to break it to him, but non-attentive pedestrians have been getting run over for millenniums. If this illogical proposal becomes law, expect New Yorkers to take to the streets. With their iPods and french fries, of course.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Saddam and Tookie

So Saddam’s execution is imminent after two and a half years of trials and less than thirty days after his appeal was rejected by Iraq’s highest appeals court. Contrast the efficiency of the Iraqi Criminal Tribunal with that of the California court system, which took over 26 years to execute that shred of human debris Tookie Williams.

Monday, 9 October 2006

Every child a wanted child

The catch-phrase “Every child a wanted child” makes me want to hurl. Instead of the concise retort “Every unwanted child a dead child” on my random thoughts page, why not the awkward but effective “Every child that manages to make it out of the birth canal without either being injected with a toxic saline solution, sucked out and torn limb-from-limb by a powerful vacuum, or having its brain sucked out by a catheter, thereby allowing the scull to collapse and the entire body to pass more easily through the cervix a wanted child.”