Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Some Stray Thoughts Inspired by Recent Personal Events

First, I give my traditional apology for being out of circulation for an excessive amount of time. My reasons will become clear in this post.

On Friday, March 10, at 5:17 PM PST, my cousin Wendy Valdez (nee Jiminez) died. The specific circumstances are not important at the moment, and I will not go into the details. Suffice it to say that it was a shock that affected my entire family and a number of friends profoundly. Wendy will be missed by all who knew her.

I have lived a life that has shielded me from mortality for the most part except for the last few years, and not with the intervention of overprotective parents. My family is long lived, and my friends have been lucky. This has not meant that I haven't contemplated death, both my own and those of the people around me. My cousin Jeff (Wendy's brother) and I have been discussing the matter since we were old enough to understand the concept. When we were teenagers, we swapped our desires as what we would like done with our remains. At the time, I had two alternatives, presented here in order of preference:

1) My body should be cooked up and served at my memorial service.
2) Barring that, it should be carted into the mountains, unembalmed, and left in a shallow grave, subject to the natural forces of decay.

In subsequent years, I have rethought both, but the essence is the same. Cannibalism has its own complications--medically, socially, and emotionally (for some people)--so that's a wash. Option 2 is out for various legal reasons.

However, I have since formed strong feelings about the matter that I am much better able to articulate.

A traditional burial has numerous problems. It involves embalming, which is a largely outdated practice. It takes a body out of the natural cycle of decay for a very long time. It invokes additional expenses that I see as unnecessary--my family doesn't need to go to extraordinary expense simply to memorialize me; I'm gone, they're alive, and I'm not going to know the difference; my family could use the money more than I can.

Cremation is the option that a lot of people in my position take. It's cheap; it's easy to imbue the death with the necessary significance by spreading the ashes in some meaningful place. Virtually every atheist I know opts for this path, and I can see the reasons. However, I have a major philosophical objection to the whole process.

The chemical processes associated with all living things produce a lot of complex organic molecules. This is, in some ways, the work of life. We build proteins, amino acids, ATP, sugars; all of these things are transferrable, in whole or in part, to the various bacterial and animal life that are the forces of decay. Cremation reduces all of this complexity down to a pile of relatively common molecules (mostly carbon) and two things that are relatively plentiful in the universe: heat and light. Heat is the ultimate destination of all the energy there is--it's the end product of entropy, and, if many cosmologists are correct about the value of the cosmological constant, where everything is ultimately going to end up. Why help it along? Why not rage against the dying of the light? Nothing cheats death forever, but we can at least contribute the the team's effort--help the cause of life hang on just a little longer.

But how? It seems like lawmakers and the mortuary industry conspire against such an end. The answer for me (barring an "accident" transporting my body by private airplane over impenetrable wilderness or international waters), is the Body Farm
, a forensic anthropology lab that essentially gathers data on the process of natural decay in order to facilitate criminal investigations and further the sciences of physical anthropology and archaeology. This has the added bonus of contributing to the body of scientific knowledge in a field that I know and respect (my mother is trained as an archaeologist, which is where I lost a lot of my squeamishness about human remains).

Anyway, it's all food for thought--and worms.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Job Search

I wish I could say I've been busy.

Anyway, being a freelancer has meant that I'm pretty much always looking for a job. But you all know that. But I don't know if you know exactly how amusing it can be.

One of the biggest pain in the asses is the amount of people willing to do my job for free and the number of people looking to not pay people like me. As you can imagine this leads to some frustration when you see under 'compensation' things like:Copy, Credit, Meal. Which leads to posts like this guy's:

Skilled DP & editor with gear, a couple of awards & broadcast credit seeking landlord, health insurance provider, car insurance company, utility company, grocery store, etc who accept "exposure," "screen credit," or "DVD copies," as legal tender. Don't miss the opportunity to provide these services to me, since one of these ridiculous, poorly thought out projects by some pathetic "idea person" wannabe trying to sucker me out of services (since they apparently can't be bothered to learn these skills themselves) is bound to pan out! Think of the bragging rights possibilities!

Under compensation? " Basking in the sunshine of my love. "

You also get to see things like this every once in a while:

Sexy Backups ltd is looking for females with a small buttocks problem interested in modeling our amazing new low rise padded boyshorts. The photos are for our website. When you wear Sexy Backups they look exactly like normal low rise boyshorts so it will not look like you are wearing padded panties. There is nothing else like Sexy Backups in the world. They are a new invention.

Or this:

Outie Bellybutton Models -- If you have an "Outie," please read this

Girls... Ladies... Women... Ages 12 to 32...

If you have an "Outie" bellybutton, please respond for paid modeling gig.

No modeling experience necessary. Amateurs and first-timers are encouraged.

Under 18 will require permission of parent or guardian, of course.

All ethnicities welcome.

This is NOT an "adult" job.

Thank you.

Sometimes I want to call just to have these people show me the finished product.

At least one goal has been accomplished, my work (or at least the search) is interesting...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sandwich Idea

Boot chains. Sort of, like a cage for motorcycle boots. Racing boots have little studs on the outside of their boots, I think a little metal cage for the soul of a riding boot would be handy, certainly lengthen the life of your footwear, which can take a beating on a motorcycle. I suppose that you could put a little flint in there or something so you can drag your feet and make sparks. But really, it's for boot life.

This might already exist, I just didn't know how to look for it.