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Ben Online - typing, reading & reacting

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Raymond A Moody, Jr., MD/PhD - book review and personal postscripts

This book was originally published in 1975 and has had several revisions including the one I read, issued in 2000. Over 13 million copies have been sold. Dr. Moody, an MD/psychologist, heard many reports of "near death" from his patients. He started collecting the stories and published them. Later he studied the death beliefs of other cultures, from ancient Greeks to Tibetan writings. After obtaining a PhD he developed a way to induce "out of body" experiences without the trauma of sickness or an accident. He has published 7 books.


While reading this book, I suddenly remembered an "out of body" experience that happened more than 70 years ago. I don't think I ever told anyone of this, not even my first wife, who was indirectly involved. We were living in the large farmhouse, not the smaller house where I was born, so I may have been 11 or 12 years old. I was sleeping with my older brother. (I usually slept on a cot in the hall but that night we had visitors, a family with 3 children. Their two boys slept on a pallet in the hall and their daughter, later to become my first wife and mother of my children, slept on my usual cot.)

All at once during the night a large tube or pipe, spiral-wrapped like BX cable, appeared at the window screen. It was large enough for my body to enter, and bright on the inside with a bright light at the far end. It slanted up at about a 45 degree angle in a northerly direction.

Just as I was entering the pipe my mother touched me and asked, "Why are you crying?" I had a bad case of heat rash on my chest and stomach and had scratched my body until it was bleeding. My crying woke her. She covered me with cornstarch and that stopped the itching. It was not exactly a near-death experience but is still very vivid in my memory.


To go from childhood to my cynical present state of mind, I will share another story, originally told by my uncle. He was visiting his brother, who had a blacksmith shop in Cost, Texas (east of San Antonio). Standing outside the shop he overheard two old men sitting on the "whittling bench." Across the street was a vacant lot where a revival preacher had put up a tent and held two-a-day services. The preacher had just finished his altar call and the song leader was singing, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be."

"What do you think of that?", one old man asked the other. The second man shifted his chew of tobacco to the other side of his mouth, spit out a stream of tobacco juice, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and answered "He's gonna wake up one morning and find out he's dead'er than hell."

Sunday, December 7, 2008


On this blog I previously made several observations about the Kennedy Assassination including one saying he was not killed by a bullet fired from the 6th floor of the Book Depository building.

On November 16, 2008 the Discovery Channel showed the results of a test. A Lincoln convertible similar to the death car was used, and actors played the roles of the 6 occupants of the car. From a home movie they knew the exact spot on the street where the fatal shot hit the president. The Dallas police halted all traffic. A professional shooter sighted through a scope from 4 locations and determined that the Book Depository was the only location from which the bullet could have come. Then the team went to Australia, where a company constructed a plastic head that would shatter like a human skull. It was covered with plastic skin and filled with plastic similar to brain tissue. In the desert in California they placed the mannequin in a box the size of the inside of the car. A marksman was elevated the height and distance from the box of the 6th floor window. A fan was placed in front to simulate the speed of the car and a bullet similar to the death bullet was used. The impact caused the same destruction of the skull and the scattering of bone and brain matter was similar to what two men saw when they examined the car at the hospital.

The Discovery Channel program did not discuss several things. Were there three or four shots fired? From where came the bullet that hit Kennedy in the throat? From where was the bullet fired that hit Gov. Connally? Was the rifle planted on the 6th floor the gun that fired the three or four bullets? Why was so much evidence destroyed? About 30% of the public believed the assassination was a conspiracy.

On the next night PBS did a 90 minute discussion of the assassination. They added nothing new and said that Oswald acted alone.

Ben the Cook

Ben the Cook
Action shot from the 1970s



I recently made Tuna Helper, following the instructions on the box and adding margine, milk, etc. Priscilla and I had generous portions for lunch. When she asked about my recipe, I pointed to the kitchen table where the box was sitting...and only then noticed the unopened can of tuna sitting next to the empty box.

Well, we enjoyed our macaroni & cheese lunch and already have the tuna on hand to make another box of Helper.


I watched the TV news show "The Eyes of Texas" for years. When in the mid 1980s they announced the publication of a Texas cookbook I wrote down my grandmother's honey cookie recipe. I asked Priscilla to type it, and she mailed it along with several of her personal favorites.

When the book was published Priscilla's recipes were not included but mine was, with a special mention in the cookbook's introduction. I was invited to the signing in Houston, where I got all three of the main Eyes of Texas contributors to sign the front and while standing in line got a number of contributing cooks to sign their recipe pages.

Some might consider the description "somewhat chewy" an understatement. For those who are dentally impaired, I recommend soaking a cookie in milk or hot coffee before trying to chew it. The good news is, these cookies will keep indefinitely.

Eyes of Texas Cookbook introduction:
My great-grandparents August and Caroline Weiss operated the first cotton gin operated by steam, near Salem in Washington County, Texas. They were among the first German settlers in that area. Money was scarce; however, they always had bees and native pecans...consequently, this recipe was a favorite.

1 1/2 pints honey, warmed
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1 tsp. baking powder
Enough flour for a very stiff dough

Mix all ingredients well. Roll dough out on a floured board and cut with a cookie cutter, or drop the dough in a greased pan and flatten with a floured glass. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, with edges slightly darker. These cookies will be somewhat chewy.

Ben's Bio

I was born in Rose Hill, Texas in 1925 and at age 18 drafted into the Army. After my discharge I settled in Tomball, which although a small town had more opportunities than Rose Hill. I ran my own appliance installation and repair business for many years and in 1977 accepted a position as Plant Engineer and Director of Maintenance at Tomball Regional Hospital, where I worked until retirement in the late 1980s. In the 1970s I served two years on Tomball’s City Council, was elected mayor and served for six years during which major streets were paved and guttered, utility lines were extended, and a new jail and city hall were built. After retirement from the hospital I spent time on a genealogy project that included two trips to Germany to visit relatives and look up archival records. I have also gotten into writing, chronicling my WW II experiences and authoring Growing Up in Rose Hill, published by private press and sold as a fund-raiser for the Tomball Community Museum Center, where I have served as a volunteer, trustee and Chairman. I am still involved with the Tomball hospital as a weekly volunteer and serve as General Manager of Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM), a church-sponsored operation that provides food and other assistance to area families. I continue to be involved in writing about my childhood and personal interests, and I still enjoy woodworking and other handyman projects. My wife and I still live in Tomball and are not far from most of our 8 surviving children and 14 grandchildren.