Monday was my 46th birthday and likely my last. Anything awesome I should try after I die?

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First, some background. My name is Aaron Winborn, and I am a developer for Drupal, which is an open source content management system, used to make web sites. I also the father of two young girls, who bring much joy into my life, and married to a beautiful woman. You may have heard of her, her name is Wonder Woman.

Just over two years ago, I was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. In short, that means that my mind will increasingly become trapped in my body as the motor neurons continue to die, and the muscles atrophy and waste away, until my diaphragm dies, bringing me with it.

My hands and arms are already completely paralyzed, and I'm confined to a power wheelchair. My diaphragm strength is largely diminished, and I am using breathing assistance 24/7, and I am at imminent risk for respiratory failure.

Even if I am fortunate enough to survive another year, which is only likely if I opt for a tracheostomy, my chances of surviving much longer become increasingly unlikely, as pneumonia becomes a specter haunting the late stages of ALS. There is no cure for this awful disease. My family gets to take care of all my needs and wipe the drool off my face, until I die, and leave them to pick up the pieces.

But yes, there is a silver lining to this all, such as it is. Kim Suozzi made a similar plea to the Internet a year ago today, and came up with the brilliant idea of freezing her body in the hopes of a distant advanced technology being able to revive her someday. Her body now rests at liquid nitrogen temperatures.

I approached the organization responsible for raising the funds to help her out, the Society for Venturism, last November, and they agreed to take on my case as well.

But I am actually telling you all this in order to come up with a sort of reverse bucket list.

I've had a full life, with no regrets. I've done some travel, have lived in some cool places, like the Netherlands and London. I've made lots of good friends, and continue to do so. I've contributed to my debt to society, working hard throughout my life, as a teacher, a waiter, an open source software developer. I've worked with a few interesting characters, like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and even lived in a Buddhist monastery before I met the woman of my dreams.

But I'm not ready to hang up my jacket quite yet.

When I was ten, I came up with three things that I wanted to be when I grew up: a teacher, a writer, and an astronaut. I've been two of the things, which is not bad. As an aside, I once told that to some people, and was asked, "Oh, what did you write?" To which I replied, "I didn't say I've written anything."

Joking aside, I'm looking for some grandiose ideas of things to do after I've died, and have hopefully been revived. And by that, I mean the sky's the limit. Don't worry about whether something seems technically feasible. This is your opportunity to think big. Like, go skinny dipping in the methane oceans of Neptune.

I want to do so much more with my life, but it's not in the cards this go around. I've become a spectator in life, living vicariously through my daughters, and relegated to typing with my eyes at fifteen words per minute on a good day.

But I'm not complaining. I awaken each morning as I always have, excited to take on the day. This is just a way to do some more brainstorming, to come up with a list of things to do during the next century, should we be so fortunate.

Stay strong,


PS This question was originally banned from the Internet at


kavin's picture

Hydrophis belcheri

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Anonymous's picture


First of all, you and your family have my sincere sympathies. I can't image what you must be going through. I have two young children myself and the thought of having to leave them now is too painful to truly contemplate.

It seems as though your priorities are in order because of the obvious value and importance you place on your family. So I have a bit of a different suggestion for what you might do should you return to this earth after death. It seems that many people in our society do not share your priorities are are instead focused on money, material things, achievement, and so on. This might get worse in the future before it gets better. My suggestion for you is to work towards ensuring these priorities and the values they represent are important in the society of the future.

sbobet's picture

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BILL's picture



Tyler's picture

The Future

Hey cousin,

Three things for you to do in the future.

Number one: Please, please, please correct any mistakes that you find about this time period in the history books of the future.

Number two: Boldly go where no man has gone before. By this I mean try out anything similar to Star Trek that has come into being, i.e. holodecks, food replicators, transporters, warp travel, etc.

Number three: Should I luck out and still be alive when you are revived, come visit me and I'll fill you in on all that has happened while you were away.


AaronELBorg's picture

Wow. There are some great

Wow. There are some great comments in here. (some..)

But I think what we all really want to know is...........



Awesome post and heavy question.

I have no answer worth typing. Not after reading this, anyway:

[–]Stupidrestless 60 points 17 days ago

The tear will actually happen at the event horizon. So you will see the star being sucked in to the blackhole.

If that's possible. Then, yes, DO THAT!

Marcelo Moreira's picture

Strong man

Congratulations for your strength.

Vincent Keunen's picture

Come back and comment on this blog post

If you make it to that second life, use the archiving techniques available at that time to come back to your blog post and comment on your own post - but after death and rebirth.

That should confuse many people...


Enjoy the day: today is the first day of the rest of you life.


Jesse Chenhalls's picture

Thank you

I am not here to tell you something you should do, others better equipped than myself have done that. I just want to tell you thank you for what you did with Drupal. Your work helped me to make websites for poor churches that help and serve in the inner city areas of Long Beach, CA; Oakland, CA; and even Wyoming.

Thank you

Anonymous's picture

So you have come to the end

So you have come to the end of your 'worldly life' journey. Well, my friend; afterlife, the 'real life', awaits. With the grace of Allah, if you believe in Him (and you should, i suggest you research deeply about this), eternal life in heavens awaits you :)
Embrace it!

BTW, death is a natural part of life, humans will never be able to escape death. Ever.

See you on the other side!

Paul Fernhout's picture

Health Sensemaking

You could create Drupal computer software and related content so the world could collectively use its wisdom and experience to make better sense of health challenges? But why wait?

Here is a page with health information I have collected, as part of a related proposal I made to changemakers on "Health Sensemaking":

See especially the link to Dr. Terry Wahls, who overcame a diagnosis of MS with improved nutrition from lots of fresh vegetables, vitamin D, omega 3s, B-complex, and avoiding junk like processed sugar, refined starch, and food additives. Not the same disease, since MS apparently involves the myelin that is attacked, whereas ALS involves motor neurons degenerating -- but inspirational none-the-less, given Terry's doctors had otherwise written her off and she had been confined to a recliner and was otherwise fading fast. Human biochemistry is adapted to a life outdoors in the sunshine, with lots of exercise, lots of organic foods with lots of fiber, and so on. Humans are not adapted to a sunless life indoors, sitting in one place, eating processed foods.

From her web site: "For four years, secondary progressive multiple sclerosis confined Dr. Terry Wahls to a tilt-recline wheelchair. But by using Functional Medicine to create the Wahls Protocol™, Dr. Wahls has transformed her health and body: now she walks easily without a cane and commutes by bicycle. Dr. Wahls uses these diets and protocols in her primary care and traumatic brain injury clinics and is leading a clinical trial to test her protocols on others."

Again, a different disease, but just trying to say that sometimes the human body's capacity for healing can surprise us. Still, from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's members board (he's a family physician who focuses on superior nutrition) from a post he made at 08-22-2011, 10:36 PM: "I have had a some ALS patients over the years and they all report that they progress at a much slower rate and have their lives extended considerably compared to others with the same condition. I consider them successes, but they did not reverse their conditions."

Still, maybe that would be something good for you to consider? Every year longer buys time for a better cure.

If you want an even bigger challenge for the future along the lines you asked for -- come back and help build self-replicating space habitats so everyone can live in sci-fi places with great medical care like Blomkamp's "Elysium" and Banks' "Culture" and Hogan's "Chironia".

Anyway, to build on the point made by Anonymous in "ALS and the Quantum Computer", perhaps the entire universe is a computer simulation (search on "Simulation Argument")? Who really knows how it all fits together? Or what is really possible? In any case, as Valerie Harper said of her diagnosis of brain cancer, "I don’t think of dying. I think of being here now..."

Humor can also at least make things a bit better. Search on comedian "Brett Leake" (who has MS) also for some inspiration.

Good luck to you and your family in making the most of the time you have together.

Paul Fernhout's picture

Other options -- herbs, mercury removal, colorful fruits...

In looking at this further, if you Google search on "ALS herbs" and "Gehrig Herbs", there are some links you may find interesting. An expert on herbs is Dr. Andrew Weil in Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; he might have some suggestions to pursue in concert with your doctors. There are several herbs suggested to resist neural degeneration. Hard to know what to believe as some of the recommendations are on sites that sell herbs.

Search also on "gehrig fruit", to find a webpage about an Annals of Neurology study by Alberto Ascherio at Harvard, for an article with the text "Bright colored fruits and vegetables may hold the power to prevent or delay Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of U.S. researchers found.". And you can ask yourself, from the name of a related book, "What Color is Your Diet"? Which may be hard, because if anyone has a "right" to unhealthy comfort food, it would seem to be you and your family.

One thing that surprised me also were discussions about mercury fillings (and other dental infection issues) and neural degeneration. Could there be some common toxin like that or something else related to ALS? Search on "Mercury ALS" for those discussions. Could people with ALS be sensitive, say, to some pesticides used in farming? Some pesticides work by destroying the nervous system of insects. Search on "ALS pesticides" for related discussions. Note that even if you have mercury fillings and eat foods with pesticides, it is possible that overall superior nutrition may better help your body to deal with related challenges even if you don't do anything about the challenges themselves. For example, the body does have biochemical pathways that excrete mercury, so the question might be, why are those pathways not working correctly in some people with ALS?

Still, I don't want to provide false hope, and likely all of these won't do much beyond perhaps slow the degeneration (if they work at all). Just making sure you have considered these options, even if they may not apply for you. There are multiple ways to approach diseases by trying to understand root causes, and mainstream medicine often ignores some of these basics, since there is no profit in telling people basic advice compared to selling drugs and procedures. As Dr. Joel Fuhrman says, we all have weak links (and strong ones) from genetics; whether those links get pulled on tends to be a function of diet and lifestyle.

Following those sorts of links has led me to the story of someone who kept ALS at bay for ten years (although eventually succumbing to it). Here is a sample page from his blog on mercury and ALS:

About Joe Wions from his blog: "In 2003, I was forced into early retirement by ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease), from a successful career as a management consultant. Facing the nightmare that my life was about to end prematurely, I began to contemplate the horrors of a difficult demise, abandoning my family, financial ruin, and other emotionally crushing issues. It took about a month to shake off the depression, and get busy. Since traditional medicine offers no cure or effective treatment, and the expectation of certain death, I began exploring alternative medicine and healing practices. Along the way, I have experienced miracles of friendship, community, personal insight, courage, strength, and healing. As a result, I am now a member of an elite group – the less than 10% of PALS (persons with ALS) who have survived 10 years or more. I intend to keep exploring and learning until I heal completely, or until medical science finds a cure. I am currently seeking help to publish a book about my experiences. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire and motivate others with difficult challenges to find creative, productive and satisfying ways to persevere."

Even as he has passed on, maybe the information he left behind there may be of use to you?

A decade is a long time these days in medical research. Not saying that would work for you though. Just stuff to explore, the same way Joe Wions did.

It's ironic to think off all the knowledge about what works and what doesn't work to treat or prevent disease may be locked up in NSA computers if they indeed record all our conversations and emails with our doctors and relatives about medical issues (as well as anything else) -- but ironically that knowledge is not accessible for improving medical care because such organizations focus all that trillions of dollars of technology and innovation on preventing having historically thousands of US Americans killed by terrorism instead of preventing annually over a million US Americans killed by disease.

Anyway, I guess it may be hard to improve over Google these days for background medical research, if you kind of know what to look for in the first place from years of trial and error. And it is also hard to sift through the junk and scams from the gems -- very hard (why I think sensemaking tools could help with that). There is a funny Dilbert cartoon about "The Google Health Plan" somewhere. That is indeed where a caring competent medical professional may come in handy -- if your doctors listen and are always self-educating.

So, it looks like it is possible to at least manage the ALS disease for a decade, in some cases, with some combination of nutrition (including colorful organic fruits), herbs, perhaps removing toxins like mercury or pesticides, and similar approaches. Although, which is the right approach may be hard to figure out. Hopefully you have good doctors to help with that. MDs like Terry Wahls, Joel Fuhrman, Andrew Weil, or similar doctors may be able to help you in doing that.

TheSpiceIsLife's picture

Read: Brave New World then take magic mushrooms

If you're going to put yourself in suspended animation / stasis / cryo, or you know you are going to die... Seriously, read Huxley's 'Brave New World', then take a good handful of magic mushrooms.

Anonymous's picture

Donate your organs if it's

Donate your organs if it's possible. You may be able to save someone else after you die. I think saving a life is the most beautiful think one can do.

Basil's picture

I appreciate your existence,

I appreciate your existence, your journey and your strength. When you've passed, try to remember the suggestions on this list. It'll be very funny to you how what seemed like the wildest, most exciting thought is dwarfed by the simple & absolute love and beauty. And if thats not the case, then start banging women in antarctica and work your way up as recommended. :)

Lelala's picture

Watch the...

..."Bucket List"

Made in 2010, if i recommend correctly.

Before that, spend time with friends and family.

Rob's picture


There has to be some incredible sights in the Jovian system. Jupiter itself with its churning storms and ten hour rotation. Io's sulphur spewing volcanoes and the thick sea ice of Europa. It has to be worth a look! Say hi from me.

Anonymous's picture

A possible cure for ALS

Hi Aaron,

I know this may be a long shot. However, I have met Keshe in person and have also see people testify his treatment, so I must at least let you know about this. Keshe claims that he has treated ALS patients with his plasma technology. Here is the link to the video testimonial ALS (the video is missing and the web site is a bit buggy but I am sure you can contact the foundation to find out more)

and his Health technology is explained here

Good luck!

Ricki's picture

Embrace the Singularity

Aaron, "typing with your eyes" is magic to a man born just a few decades ago. Rebuilding your mind from a frozen brain and uploading it to a cyborg to bring you back sounds like magic to us, doesn't it?

It will happen: science will give us all eternal life. Be confident the Singularity will come! Do a mind travel from the time we were bacteria floating on hot seas to here, now, typing with our eyes. What is this path about? Genes want out of their biological constraint: they want to evolve from hardware to software, from gene to meme, and live forever.

Any answer we may give to your question is short because the future you will have what we now call super powers. You'll be able to do anything that you can imagine!

Be brave man! We'll meet again :)

Matt's picture

You never know

Ceaselessly nag the distant descendants of all the developers who bailed on their #D7CX pledges.

Aromatizador varetas's picture

Reply to comment | Aaron Winborn

Greetings I am so happy I found your webpage, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on
Bing for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don't have time to look over it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the superb work.

Hamish Campbell's picture

Things to do when you're alive again

Let's be a little more ambitious. Just a few:

1. Sail the pressure gradients of Jupiter's atmosphere. Or the sun's atmosphere, because you can.

2. Build a matrioshka brain, use it to simulate a new universe. Points for developing sentient life.

3. Split your concious self into multiple copies, send them on millennia long trips to other solar systems / galaxies / whatever. Compare notes on the meaning of life on their return.

4. Create a work of art from the dust from a nebula. Extra points for timing it's creation so the light from the piece reaches an developing species in time for them to see it with a telescope.

5. Figure out what's on the other side of the Milky Way's black hole.

Health information management salary's picture

Reply to comment | Aaron Winborn

Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in truth was once a amusement account it.
Glance advanced to far introduced agreeable
from you! By the way, how could we keep up a correspondence?

Anonymous's picture

ALS and the Quantum Computer

ALS and the Quantum Computer

Recent advances in ALS understanding may one day provide treatment for ALS.

A new computer paradigm has arrived?
Will ALS be modeled using the Quantum Computer?

"Absent quantum computing, eventually the laws of physics will prevent any further improvements in computing and Moore's Law will end"

Will 23andMe/Google end ALS via D-wave?

NASA, Google and Lockheed have bought a D-wave computer

Building quantum algorithms depends on matrix algebra.

Salman Kahn has a very interesting beginners spoof on Matrix movie.

Deep Learning

Unsupervised learning algorithm - Excellent videos on Neural networks and image edge detection. This algorithm could eventually be used to model proteins and read microarrays. Google uses to classify images and voice.

Both Google and Baidu are using this kind of algorithm.

Would Quantum computing systems (Dwave) be the next step?

Quantum computing - Really advanced tutorial

Good general book on Quantum Computing

Will Quantum Computers ability to scale allow us to model ALS at the molecular level? Will ALS be understood?'s_algorithm

Anonymous's picture

Ill just leave this

Bill Jackson's picture

Iron Lung assist

When Polio myelitis was common, they had many people breating on the so-called iron lung.
This was a device to draw an external vacuum on your chest for a few seconds and they cycle to a positive pressure, and your lungs would draw in and exhale normally and speech was more-or-less normal. The people were supine on their backs, and visiting nurses turned them and prevented bed sores by massage etc.
This was 100% assisted, they had zero volitional breath control.
There have been a few recent advances in the understanding of your disease, one hopes relief is coming, if you can endure.
Some iron lung images.

while there is breath....

James's picture

Drive. Get someone to drive


Get someone to drive you through some of of the beautiful areas of canada and the US.

eric m's picture

supplements for ALS

Hey Aaron,

It sounds like you are far along in your ALS and I'm sorry to hear that. I did some research on ALS and looks like there are some supplements you can consider taking as well as switching to a ketogenic (fat/triglyceride based diet).

Check this thread on longecity (and you can learn more about cryogenics there)

Also try doing a google search " als" etc

People there are very knowledgeable.

Anonymous's picture

I suggest that you practice

I suggest that you practice meditation and other techniques which were once believed to assist in attaining enlightenment. Obviously, you must do this before you die. Once you're body has passed on the physical plane of existence, your only chance at doing anything will be on the spiritual (or astral) plane and beyond. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as an afterlife, but the odds of surviving death are better for those with strong spirits. These are obviously just my opinions and assumptions based on what I've read and been taught. For more ideas, Alan Watts is a good place to start. As for a post-death suggestion: follow the light. Best of luck to you and all of us.

5arx's picture

Things to To

  • Ride the highest/fastest/scariest/lamest rollercoasters in the world.
  • Make sure you've seen all the movies in a good list of the Top xhundred Movies.
  • Eat a little, teeny bit of poo - just to see what it tastes like
  • Repeat with: human flesh/live sushi/insects/snakes/whatever your taboo is
  • Set something up, something good that helps people who aren't in your family or friend circles. Something, no matter how small, that will keep doing good after you are gone.
  • Spend the rest of the time with your family, especially the kids.

Best wishes to you and your family. Your bravery and stoicism humbles us all.

Peace & Love.

&quot;code generator itunes&quot;'s picture

Reply to comment | Aaron Winborn

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
you can be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back in the future.
I want to encourage one to continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

kt's picture

Venus and history

Ok, if I understand you right you're not looking for techniques for finding salvation or peace, you're looking for cool ideas. So:

1) I've always wanted to visit Venus. What a weird planet! Hot and cloudy and acidy. Go there.

2) Bring some present-day music with you (somehow) and try to explain to the future why Katy Perry was popular in our day. I guarantee it will be hilarious. Also, try to bring some present-day music that you think could really communicate across time.

3) Explain to future people stupid phrases that they use and no longer remember the meaning of. I'm thinking things like "keep your nose to the grindstone" and "beyond the pale", a milling term and a term from back when we had pales (fences) surrounding our settlements, respectively. I bet there are going to be a lot of funny computer phrases that no longer have a context in the future.

4) Be in two places at once, a human embodiment of the Banach-Tarski paradox.

5) If you make it to the future, I'm expecting that there will be a lot of technology manipulated by our brain waves. You'll have a bit of a head start in some ways. Partake in that fully, but then be there to give future-people a perspective on how different human lives have been, what they've lost and what they've gained.

I'm imagining this in part by analogy of what I'd want from someone appearing from 1800 or 1900. They would get to do all sorts of cool things: fly in an airplane, use Facebook, look up their relatives online... ok. When you look at it that way, some things that are unremarkable to us would be really exciting to them (yay! Facebook! Jacuzzis!) but... on some level who cares, once they'd had the experience? What they could provide that would be really interesting to me (a future-person in this scenario) is perspective -- an understanding of how people and societies and tech have changed or remained the same.

Tonino's picture

Hi Aaron. Ask Jesus Christ to

Hi Aaron.

Ask Jesus Christ to heal you (He can do it, there might be a case for asking it, and many precedents of Him doing stuff like that even in these days), and if he doesn't decide to do so, then to plan your trip over that line.

I am pretty sure He could be your best travel agent for that zone..

Best wishes to you and yours,

Julien's picture


Hey Tonino, I was about to give the exact same advice. Thanks for making the jump.
I've read some books about modern day miracles that Jesus did, and even in my own church I've heard about people being healed from tumors and other things, right after prayers.

Hi Aaron:
There is always hope in Jesus Christ. And it's not just a religious thing. It's very real for me and millions other normal people like you and me.
So my advice is this: Just find a Christian church who believes in miracles (evangelical, pentecostal, etc). Ask them to pray for you.
If you doubt, just look at the countless testimonials on YouTube from people being recovered and delivered by Jesus.

I say that with all my heart, and sincerely believe that there is still hope for you. Nothing is too complicated for the creator of the universe. I will pray for you.

Peace, and Thanks for your contributions to Drupal.

Julien's picture

Reply to comment | Aaron Winborn

This post is priceless. Where can I find out more?

My site ... design interior (

Anonymous's picture

LMAO I hope you guys are

LMAO I hope you guys are being sarcastic.

> Christian church who believes in miracles (evangelical, pentecostal, etc). Ask them to pray for you.


Anonymous's picture

Tell everyone its going to be ok

Isn't this what we all want to hear anyway.

Pete's picture

Go then, there are other

Go then, there are other worlds than these.

Acai Ultra Lean's picture

Reply to comment | Aaron Winborn

When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a
comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a

Anonymous's picture

Laughter is best medicine.

Laughter is best medicine.

&quot;unlimited&quot;'s picture

Reply to comment | Aaron Winborn

Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if
you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my
newest twitter updates. I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

Anonymous's picture

After you've died, bang as

After you've died, bang as many hot women as you can. Start in Argentina and work your way up.

Anonymous's picture



Anonymous cow's picture

Have fun!

And see you soon!

Anonymous cow's picture

Have fun!

And see you soon!

Ofazomi's picture

Happy Birthday - No Suggestions.

My heart goes out to you and your family as you complete the final leg of this life. Having thought about a whole number of things I am curious about, I decided it better to find out for myself when the time comes. Please enjoy your ride.

David London's picture

coconut oil and magnesium chloride treatment

See the posting a year ago by a fellow with ALS and the great progress he has made with this self help therapy and his charting the before and after over a few years.

Anonymous's picture

You have nothing to loose...

If I were you, and while you can, take the time to repent to the one and only Creator (a.k.a Elah / Allah / YHWH / God). You have nothing to lose by doing it in your head as a thought. It takes a minute and you don't even have to explain yourself to anyone.

Just. Do. It. Now. Please. You will thank me *later*.

5arx's picture


Somebody delete this fatuous comment already?

Anonymous's picture

In Another Life


Why not catch a ride on a ship with one of NASA's / Harold White's souped up Alcubierre warp drives and see what it's like to live for a few years on a planet with 2 or 3 times the gravity of Earth. I bet, after an adaptation period that'll be a bit of a drag, you come back home able to jump higher and lift more weight than anyone else alive.

Should you not be too foggy-headed when coming out of it, I'd also suggest you write down what dreams you had in cryo once you wake back up. I'm certain they'll be unlike anything else you've experienced to date... you may well live a whole other lifetime while you sleep. Perhaps someday you can tell your grandchildren about it, while they watch their grandchildren laugh and run and chase 22nd century fireflies over the grass.

The Society for Venturism has chosen me as the recipient of its charity for this year, to hopefully offer me cryonic preservation when the time comes. And this month, Longecity, an excellent forum for the discussion of issues related to extending the lifespan of humans, has offered up a matching grant of up to a thousand dollars to help out! So help out! Please.