Exploring funeral options, shipping alternatives, and Halloween cut-backs.
Fancy custom funerals - Have you planned your own funeral yet? Either to leave one final unique imprint on the world or just save your family the fuss and bother. CBC had an interesting article (link) on some of the variations people are designing, such as giving mourners Sharpie pens so they can leave a final message on the coffin, or setting up as a casual drop-in with card tables and bowls of chips and shared remembering. Maybe you have a favourite bit of music or poem. Or you were a Rocky Horror fan. You could even get cremated and have the carbon pressed into diamonds - $50k for 3 carats. If you suspect not many people will show up to mourn you, just arrange for some Moirologists ahead of time. In the UK, they’re only £45 an hour (link). How about a parade, a New Orleans-style event, with a jazz band and a horse-drawn hearse? There’s lots of flexibility and choices now, and the old school imposing downtown funeral homes, classical style with tall columns, are being replaced by smaller places in an industrial park - tasteful, but very a la carte to tailor-make as much or little as is wanted.
It’s up to you, go wild! Although, you won’t be around to check the details unless you’ve planned a haunting.
Green shipping - A NY Times article talks about (link) Green Ships as a solution to the pollution of container shipping. Cargo shipping produces nearly 3 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions - not huge, but it’s there. By green they mean powering those ships with methanol, rather than the usual heavy and very dirty bunker oil. Supposedly this will produce 100 fewer tons of greenhouse gas a day. Methanol is produced from a variety of sources, such as natural gas or corn, but all have their own carbon footprint (link). Or we could go old school and sail. Not the 19th-century clipper ships, which were pretty to look at but did not have a lot of room for freight. I found a number of large-scale prototypes online, basically large container ships fitted with high-tech sails, or even a giant kite in front. But there are problems with being dependent on the vagaries of the winds. Avoiding storms, or even surviving them will be harder, but shipment timing is even more critical - we’ve seen how dependent our just-in-time economy is on scheduled deliveries.
Or we could ship less. We could produce more things locally - be it food or widgets. We could reduce our consumption - just look at the growing storage unit industry, for all that ‘stuff’ we just had to have. We could repair and reuse some of what we have, although cheap fast production often means things that can’t be disassembled and fixed easily. Or they are just too complicated - try lifting the hood of your car, does that even look like an engine? I have a 2008 Mazda, with low ‘mileage’, and in great condition, and leave it up to my good local garage to change the tires or adjust the carburetor.
Shrinkflation in the candy bowl - According to an article by CBC (link) those ‘fun-sized’ candies, aside from being more expensive, are just a little bit smaller than last year. Not that any of us are likely to still have any left over from last year, I’m sure those treats got packed in school lunches or munched on the drive to work. Aside from the normal shrinkflation in all foods, there are a few specific culprits. Not only are cocoa prices at record highs, due partially to heavy rains, but El Nino is forecast to bring warmer temperatures. Poor for cocoa growers, and pushing cocoa futures prices up. Sugar prices are high too, with the current Vancouver Rogers Refinery strike - plus the ‘normal’ supply chain delays.
Do you still give out candy? Back in my day, long long ago, people just made up their own little bags of candies or were one of those special places that made their own treats, like candy apples. We knew - and trusted - all our neighbours. Then that changed, so packaged candies were safer and more convenient. But the streets, and lawns, were still filled with kids in their homemade costumes, screaming from a sugar high. Mind you, up north, with Halloween usually a little bit darker and a little bit colder, many of our costumes involved a warm snowsuit. Except for downtown, in the many bars - all the adults dressed up and the skimpier the better.
Even when I had kids of my own, out in the ‘burbs, door-to-door was common. I enjoyed seeing the neighbour’s kids all dressed up, and of course praised whatever they were. And held out the bowl, saying ‘Help yourself’. It was interesting to see their reaction, most were quote cautious - especially with any parents in earshot warning them. “Don’t be greedy, now”. Kids would often make a quick stop at home to empty their bags, then head out for more. Then in the quick breaks between clumps of costumes at the door, I would check the haul for treats for me.
Then more parents just had Halloween parties for their kids - safer but not as much fun. And then we had a lockdown. I’m in an apartment in a high rise now, so it’s quiet in here but I’m sure the side streets will see some action.
BONUS - Here’s a spooky story I did back in 2002, called Southern Hospitality (link). I may tweak it later, and some others, for publication, but enjoy it here as is.