The Last Year With Helga

The Last Year With Helga,
before 4.27.12 when she died.
(6th or 7th in the Series)

See term Helga.

She was doing great starting off at walking outside where we had installed a pipe guard rail along the neighbor’s fence. Her walking went up to a peak of 14 80 foot walks, 9 in morning and 5 at night. She and I were so proud of her work. Gradually as the year proceeded along with repeated UTIs it got harder and harder for her to walk. On cold days she walked in the house using a cane and made 4 or so distances of about 30 feet at best. Walking with a cane was much harder inside then outside as the railing gave more substantial support. I had read that post stroke people lived 5 years at most after such a massive stroke. I never told her that fact, but she was no dummy. I had an unspoken objective to at least get to that mark. We made it half way, and along the way learned a few things which might be of interest and even generalizable. Continue Reading →

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost with Comment

William Olkowski comments below about his favorite poem.

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Continue Reading →

Helga Martin Williamson Olkowski (1931-2012).

Helga Martin Williamson Olkowski (1931-2012).

Helga grew up in Detroit, MI in a Jewish family with a mother who escaped the Nazis, came to the US and married Dave Martin, a US citizen from a previous Diaspora from Germany. The family hid and sponsored other escapees at times. Helga tells of seeing the number tattoos on the arms of some of these people. The family joke (told by Dave, a kind and intelligent father, who specialized in Rabbi jokes) was about when Dave’s father was coming through Ellis Island he told his son that he was disappointed about how the family name got twisted into Martin. Originally, it was Moskevitz. As Dave tells it he said back to his father: “Where in the bible do you see the name Moskevitz? The jokes frequently showed how silly religions are. And further, the idea of creating the new state of Israel with its emphasis on a religion horrified Dave as it was clear that combining a single religion and a country would lead to trouble. And so it has. I only wish the religious crazies in this country would wake up to that idea. Continue Reading →

A Selected Collection of Quotes on Grief

A Selected Collection of Quotes on Grief

1. “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”. – Woody Allen
2. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~Winston Churchill
3. “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?” — Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
4. “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” — Jan Glidwell
5. “The pain passes, but the beauty remains”. –Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
6. “Grief is itself a medicine”. –William Cowper (1731-1800)
7. “Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.” — Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
8. “To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness” — Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
9. “Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose”– from The Wonder Years
10. “He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it”. — Turkish Proverb
11. “The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief — But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.” — Hilary Stanton Zunin
12. “There is no grief like the grief that does not speak” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
13. “Every one can master a grief but he that has it” — William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
14. “Love is a fabric that never fades, no matter how often it is washed in the waters of adversity and grief”. — Anon.
15. “While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” — Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
16. “Grief is a process, not a state”– Anne Grant (1755-1838)
17. “Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have… The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits”.– Shneidman (1980)
18. “Courage is being afraid and going on the journey anyhow”. — John Wayne
19. “Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys”– Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)
20. “And can it be that in a world so full and busy the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!”– Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
21. “Look well into thyself. There is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou will always look there”. — Marcus Aurelius (121-180)
22. “Mourning is love with no place to go”– anon.
23. “Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them”. — Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
24. “We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else”. — Sigmund Freud (1961)
25. “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o’er-wrought heart and bids it break.” — William Shakespeare (MacBeth)
26. “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing… not curing… that is a friend indeed.” –Henri Nouwen
27. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.” — Washington Irving
28. “Grief shared is grief diminished”– Rabbi Grollman
29. “At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; A wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.” — Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
30. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal”. ~From a headstone in Ireland

Selected from: From:



By William Olkowski 6.2.12/7.25.12

Well this morning I am going to take on my current main daily subject: grief. The take will be conceptual rather than emotional although the emotional is the stronger, especially right now. That’s because grief can overwhelm the senses including the so called sixth sense of conceptualization. Some people think the sixth sense is telepathy which is a lot of fun to think about. Fun is great, if you can find it, in yourself and others. But the evidence for telepathy is rather weak, if there is any good evidence at all. Continue Reading →

After Helga’s Death 5.2.12

Dear Friends, 5.2.12
How Am I Doing? Are you taking care of yourself?
Well, I am doing better than I expected a few days ago. Here’s a quick report from a nice peaceful reflective morning, a therapeutic hypertext with sporadic tangential rants. It’s 5 am and I just got up thirsting to write. The first ideas upon getting up are sometimes just great, certainly there is a clarity upon arising I wish I could get down on paper before the day gets busy and ideas are forgotten. But now I don’t have much to be busy about which is a new experience, another blessing. I get more undisturbed sleep now than anytime in the last 2.5 years, since the stroke. But I am alone now for the first time in 40 or more years, and that is a novelty, though I am without my dear friend. It’s a mixture of sadness if I go there, which I am avoiding. Sometimes it fights its way to my upper brain and then it’s a wallow. Continue Reading →



by William Olkowski

republished again today 11.21.14 previously 2.1.12

“Consider the Ant” is good advice. After all, as social experiments go, ant colony life looks robust. Ants go back, way back, when Insects started in or before the Cambrian Geological period almost 400 million years ago (mya). So they must have experimented and learned a bunch over the million of years, right? Well, from my view it’s a heartless social organization, not worth emulating. But one can learn from almost any bad idea. But then again their survival over this long period tells something we may want to learn from. Continue Reading →


Comment by William Olkowski

Originally I published this note (5.17.12) about body donation for the for-profit organization called Science Care. When my family buried my father it was a catholic tradition to have the body treated with embalming fluid, then have it displayed for a few days with a viewing by family and friends. I hated the whole thing but attended from California because my mother wanted it and paid for my flight back to New Jersey. After the sessions in the mortuary another tearful period occurred in the cemetery where the lead lined coffin (costing a pretty penny – for a impecunious family), it was lowered into the ground accompanied by music. It was like a movie I saw about burying an Egyptian king except it was in the 1990s. So when the time came for us, me and my then wife to face the facts of life we decided to not waste the bodies but to use them some useful way. The fact that the whole process would not cost us anything and would be done in a few hours after death was some of the incentive. I still carry the care with the phone number in my wallet just in case someone near me or even someone else should find themselves in the driver’s seat after my death. After Helga’s death they came within a few hours.  Continue Reading →


Comment by Bill Olkowski

I was so impressed by this talk that I want others to see the video and read the transcript that I thought it worth putting on my blog. see if you agree.

by Paul Stamets

Transcript downloaded from: Paul Stamets Talks on TED:

I love a challenge, and saving the Earth is probably a good one. We all know the Earth is in trouble. We have now entered in the 6X, the sixth major extinction on this planet. I often wondered, if there was a United Organization of Organisms — otherwise known as “Uh-Oh” –(Laughter) — and every organism had a right to vote, would we be voted on the planet, or off the planet? I think that vote is occurring right now. <!–more–>
I want to present to you a suite of six mycological solutions, using fungi, and these solutions are based on mycelium. The mycelium infuses all landscapes, it holds soils together, it’s extremely tenacious. This holds up to 30,000 times its mass. They’re the grand molecular disassemblers of nature — the soil magicians. They generate the humus soils across the landmasses of Earth. We have now discovered that there is a multi-directional transfer of nutrients between plants, mitigated by the mycelium — so the mycelium is the mother that is giving nutrients from alder and birch trees to hemlocks, cedars and Douglas firs.
Dusty and I, we like to say, on Sunday, this is where we go to church. I’m in love with the old-growth forest, and I’m a patriotic American because we have those. Most of you are familiar with Portobello mushrooms. And frankly, I face a big obstacle. When I mention mushrooms to somebody, they immediately think Portobellos or magic mushrooms, their eyes glaze over, and they think I’m a little crazy. So, I hope to pierce that prejudice forever with this group. We call it mycophobia, the irrational fear of the unknown, when it comes to fungi.

Continue Reading →



by Dr. William Olkowski 11.17.14

I looked into this process by attending a seminar up in San Raphael around Sept 2014.
Lots of treatment possibilities for all sorts of joint problems but alas no real detailed evidence, at least not enough for me to risk $5,000.

If Medicare would support this procedure in place of what they do support – which is knee replacement – the savings for medicare, even at
$5k per joint would be very large. This may be the path of the future, but now no support from Medicare. Stem cells are certainly worth the risk is you have the money. That seems to be the mantra of capitalism. Disease is a good money maker for those with money. <!–more–>

It may be important to follow the development of this technology however, – Regenexx is one start up that seems to be doing research. The earlier procedure they used was concentrated platelets. This involved extracting blood from individuals (hips) and concentrating the result and injecting them back into the specific joint(s). Through this process Regenexx learned that the extraction also provided concentrated bioactive tissue growth factors, which regulate natural healing process in response to injury and degenerative changes, by producing something they call Super Concentrated Platelets (SCP). Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are also attracted. The MSCs have been shown to differentiate into collagen secreting cells, bone forming osteoblasts, cartilage forming chodrocytes and more. Thus these cells can rejuvenate tissues damaged via injury, degenerative changes and osteoarthritis.

There is also a new development called PL-Disc, an alternative to back surgery and epidural steroid injections.

More information is available at

Reason, Religion and Ecology

Reason, Religion and Ecology
republished 11/15/14, originally published in Oct 2012

Reason is based on linking evidence to form a valid explanation. There is no evidence that a god exists. There are no answers to prayers, there is no supreme being ever seen or heard. The Universe may be infinite but no one knows for sure, but it’s much greater than any religion ever said. The big bang is only one explanation for how the universe was created, but its based on evidence. Astronomers and now physicists are finding evidence that may point to still other explanations. That’s the nature of science, theories explain facts until new facts are not explainable with the earlier theory. Science is a continuous discovery process. Religion, in contrast, offers no evidence, and assumes mythical beings exists who no one has ever seen or perceived. It’s a static view which cannot be challenged. Continue Reading →