Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 26 February 2002

The stuff I've been working on in my day job is finally starting to work. I made a little experimental fix that seems to have actually made a big improvement, so that was fun. I'm still working long hours though. That'll only last for another couple of days, I hope.

I did a couple of critiques for the Clarion 2001 critique list. One other story besides mine got submitted to the local writer's group, so did a critique of it.

I went back and reread the critiques I got on the insurance story. I haven't had any time to actually work on it though. In the meantime, I've come up with a large chunk of an idea for another story. I may do that first, if it gels into an entire idea before I'm in the middle of the insurance story rewrite.

The news lately has featured a lot of stories about a crematory in Nobel, Georgia that apparently has been dumping bodies on their wooded grounds, rather than cremating them.

People are understandably outraged. As a legal matter, I guess it's just fraud (taking money and then not performing the service), but desecrating bodies is a pretty universal taboo.

I have a unique perspective on the matter, though.

I once heard about someone who had made arrangements for a fairly ordinary, modest funeral and cremation but then ended up dying someplace exotic. Because he had left instructions, his widow ended up having to spend vast amounts of money and go to great effort to repatriate his body, just to have it cremated as he'd directed, instead of just having it cremated where it was and repatriating the ashes.

The lesson I took from that story was that any plan made for dealing with dead bodies could end up being inappropriate to the circumstances. So, I suggested to Jackie that (if I die before her) she should (from highest priority to lowest):

  1. Do whatever she wants. If circumstances are such that a big expensive funeral would help her, it wouldn't bother me any. If she wants to donate my organs, that's fine too.
  2. Do whatever is cheapest. If I die away from home and it's cheapest to cremate me there, do that. If it would be cheaper to just bury me there (wherever there is), that'd be okay. If someone else is paying to repatriate my body, that's okay too.
  3. Don't bury me in a hermetically sealed steel coffin. They seem to be big sellers at funeral homes, but I find the idea of being sealed in a box until a quarter-inch of steel rusts away creepy.
  4. If there's no good reason to prefer one thing over another for reasons of convenience or cost, I'd really like to have my body eaten by vultures.

As far as I know, there's no good way to arrange for a sky burial in the US. Trying to arrange it would almost certainly be a lot more trouble than it would be worth (at least to me after I'm dead). So I was intrigued by just how close the service provided by that crematory in Nobel, Georgia came to being a sky burial. It's sad that the closest an American can get to a sky burial is a fraudulent cremation.

I don't suppose this scandal will make it any easier to arrange one in the future.


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