I can only imagine what the hospice nurse must have been thinking.
It was an early October evening in 2017, and I was camped in the gigantic, overstuffed leather recliner that I had delivered the previous week.
One of the problems with buying furniture online is you don't truly get a sense of the dimensions in relation to your space. I don't know what made me think ordering a piece of furniture this way was a good idea. Read the rest
A startup based in Seattle says they plan to offer an alternative to human burial and cremation in Washington state, now that it's finally legal. Yep, human composting. Read the rest
At least 145 coffins have been discovered underneath King High School in Tampa, Florida. Apparently a citizen researching area cemeteries advised the school district that in the first half of the 20th century, there was an African-American graveyard on the site. So far, ground-penetrating radar revealed 145 coffins just a few feet below the surface. From Bay News 9:
The pattern of the findings matches historical records for a "potter's field," or pauper's field, called Ridgewood Cemetery, the district said.
"Hillsborough County Public Schools remains committed to respecting the individuals who are buried there, and their families," officials said.
This is just the latest of several "forgotten" African-American cemeteries found in Tampa in the past year.
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A company in South Korea will give you a funeral for free, but you have to be alive while it happens. Read the rest
I spend more time than I probably should wondering when the luxury condo trend will finally come for the dead. Real estate is expensive, and there's lots of valuable land in urban areas that could be used for yet-another fancy steel-and-glass skyscraper used to hide foreign money—if it wasn't for the cemeteries that currently take up all that space. I even have a half-finished short story in a notebook somewhere riffing on the classic Stephen King scenario of towns built on Native American burial grounds, except it's just luxury condos built up on the corpses of, well, everyone.
But I was thinking too far ahead. Because I didn't stop to think about what happens to those graveyards now, as flooding and earthquakes and more extreme weather disturb the soil under which our loved ones have been laid to their eternal rests. As a recent article in Scientific American gruesomely details, coffins are already body-surfing through the streets of Louisiana during storms:
The caskets and their surface vaults are sealed airtight, so pressure builds inside them when a hurricane or flash flood covers them in water. Moisture weakens the vault seal, and eventually the water begins to bubble with dead air—the tell-tale sign a casket is ready to pop out of its grave, Hunter said.
“You hear the bubbles, you see the bubbles, and you know that seal is weakening because of that immense amount of pressure. And then the lid comes off,” he said.
The visual of bubbling coffins popping out of the ground is scary enough. Read the rest
A family visited the Bragg Funeral Home in Paterson, New Jersey for a private viewing of their deceased relative Doris Chapman. When they opened the casket though, it wasn't Champman inside but someone else wearing Chapman's clothing. And the funeral home employees didn't believe them. The family plans to sue. From KCBD:
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The family says that no matter how many times they told the workers that the body was not Chapman’s, they were told otherwise.
"They kept on insisting that was my grandmother, that things do happen, the body does change…we couldn’t believe it, but we had no choice but to believe it for the moment,” (Geralyn) McNeal says.
“We thought that the funeral home knew best. They were telling us that she was not ready, ‘She won't look like this when we're done,’” says Chapman’s niece Valencia Coney.
The family says that Chapman’s body was in the casket the next day for the service. They say that at least one funeral home employee admitted to the mistake.
A domestic rooster killed a 76-year-old woman on her rural property in Australia. The rooster pecked the woman, twice puncturing her skin, and she died. Unfortunately, she had preexisting conditions that caused her to bleed out very quickly. The physicians published the unusual case in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology. From the abstract:
The decedent’s past medical history included treated hypertension, hyperlipidemia, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and varicose veins... Two small bleeding lacerations were present, one of which was located immediately over a perforated large varix. Death was therefore due to exsanguination from bleeding varicose veins following an attack by a rooster. This case demonstrates that even relatively small domestic animals may be able to inflict lethal injuries in individuals if there are specific vascular vulnerabilities present.
image: Dgrady3 (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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Over at OK Whatever, Jessie Schiewe tells of people who have looked up family addresses on Google Street View and found ghostly images of their dead loved ones in the midst of their everyday lives -- mowing the lawn, grabbing the mail, washing the car. From OK Whatever:
...For most people, finding dead relatives in Google Street View can be a great comfort. The father-in-law of a Reddit user called lovelyriver2929 was elated when he discovered his late-wife standing in front of their home in one of the photos taken of their address.
“He goes and looks at it sometimes,” she wrote. “He loves it because it was just her doing something completely normal on a completely normal day.”
For some people, it’s a reminder of what their loved ones looked like before they got sick, when they were still healthy enough to go outside and wash the car or mow the lawn. Sometimes these are even the last known images to be taken of a person.
“My grandpa died in 2017 and no one had any pictures with him from recent years. He only took photos when he was holding babies, and all us grandkids are in our teens and 20s,” one Reddit user wrote. “But I did this same thing and found a Google Street View photo of him mowing his front lawn from 2016. It was really good to see him doing something he loved to do and was always doing when he was here.”
And then sometimes, the ghosts vanish. Read the rest
Ken "Popehat" White (previously) has expanded on his excellent Twitter thread about Jeffrey Epstein's suicide in jail, and just how (shamefully) normal it is for prisoners to die in custody due to indifference, overwork, malfeasance and sadism on the part of prison authorities.
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Phoenix's Biological Resource Center advertised that it would collect your relatives' remains and dispose of their body parts for medical purposes, cremating the unused portions and returning them; it was founded by the aptly named Stephen Gore, whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school diploma and who learned the processes by which he dismembered and preserved the bodies in his care "from books or the internet."
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I'm all for stainless steel straws of the sort that we sell in the Boing Boing Store. They're an environmentally-friendly way to stop yourself from making the idiot-stick move (unless you need to use a straw, due to medical issues, then we're cool) of using one of the 175 million plastic straws that end up in landfills each year. If you opt for a metal straw, fair warning: don't pop it into your drink until you're seated and ready to sit and sip.
From The Boston Globe:
A British woman was impaled by a metal straw after falling at her home, a coroner said in an inquest this week that warned about the dangers of metal straws. Such straws have surged in popularity as cities, states, and even countries have banned single-use plastic straws.
The woman, Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60, who had a disability, fell and sustained a traumatic brain injury in November when the 10-inch straw pierced her eye, according to the coroner’s report.
“As a consequence of the fall, a stainless steel straw that was in a glass Kilner-style cup Mrs. Struthers-Gardner was carrying penetrated her left eye,” the report said.
Sadly, Mrs. Struthers-Gardner, died as a result of her injury.
Now, here's the thing and, don't ask me how I know, but you could very easily do the same thing with an OG plastic straw, so long as one end of the appliance has an air-tight seal. Are the odds as high of a plastic straw will fucking you up like stainless steel can? Read the rest
Bangkok's Death Awareness Cafe takes its design cures from a mortuary, complete with funeral wreaths and caskets. Patrons sip cappuccinos, read death-related "inspirational" quotes on the walls, and then climb into the coffins to consider their ultimate fate. Sounds, er, fun? From Rumble:
Despite the macabre appearance, owner Professor Veeranut Rojanaprapa says there’s a deeper meaning behind the eatery - improving society by encouraging people to reflect on their life.
He said: ‘’We’re concerned about a big problem in Thailand. The problem of corruption, the young mothers and criminal gangs.
‘’After a study, we found out that the root of the problems are greed and anger. When people are greedy, then they are corrupt. When they are greedy, they have prohibited sex. When people are angry they do harmful actions.’’
Buddhist followers believe that if people are aware of death they will be less greedy and do more good in the world.
(UPI via Weird Universe)
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Actor Keanu Reeves answers one of life's greatest questions in the way only Keanu Reeves can. Read the rest
Actor Luke Perry, who died last month following a massive stroke, was buried in a mushroom suit. According to his daughter, Perry had requested that upon his death he wear Coeio's "Infinity Burial Suit" that the company describes as "made up of of mushrooms and other microorganisms that together do three things; aid in decomposition, work to neutralize toxins found in the body and transfer nutrients to plant life."
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💋In December I went to San Francisco with two of my best friends. One of them, had never never been to California, so we went to show him the Redwoods. I took this picture while we were there, because i thought, “damn, those mushrooms are beautiful.” Now, mushrooms hold an entirely new meaning for me. Any explanation i give will not do justice to the genius that is the mushroom burial suit, but it is essentially an eco friendly burial option via mushrooms. All i can say is that you should all look into them at coeio.com or just by googling “mushroom burial suit” . My dad discovered it, and was more excited by this than I have ever seen him. He was buried in this suit, one of his final wishes. They are truly a beautiful thing for this beautiful planet, and I want to share it with all of you.
On Friday, the Washington state legislature passed a bill legalizing the "recomposition" of human remains, defined as the "contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil." If signed by Governor Jay Inlee, the bill will become law next year. From CNN:
Katrina Spade is the CEO of the human composting company, Recompose, and told CNN affiliate KIRO-TV she is hoping her company can be one of the first to build a facility for the practice...
"(The) body is covered in natural materials, like straw or wood chips, and over the course of about three to seven weeks, thanks to microbial activity, it breaks down into soil," she said.
While the dead body is being broken down, Spade said families of the deceased will be able to visit her facility and will ultimately receive the soil that remains of their loved. It is up to the family how they want to use that soil, Spade said.
"And if they don't want that soil, we'll partner with local conservation groups around the Puget Sound region so that that soil will be used to nourish the land here in the state," she said.
image: "Vision of a Future Recompose Facility" by MOLT Studios
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In the year 2,000, Susan Potter, then 72, donated her body to medicine. After Potter died, scientists froze her corpse, sliced it into 27,000 slivers thinner than a human hair, photographed each slice, and created "the world’s most advanced virtual cadaver using the highest-quality imagery of an entire human body in existence." Not only is the virtual cadaver an incredible accomplishment but so is National Geographic's story about Potter and the lead researcher, Dr. Vic Spitzer Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Simulation at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Why? Because National Geographic followed this incredible story of the Visible Human Project for almost two decades, from before Potter died through the completion of the simulation. Watch the documentary above. From National Geographic:
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Are you interested in working with us before you die? (Spitzer) finally asked (Potter). Are you interested in giving us more than just your body—in giving us your personality and knowledge?
Spitzer wanted to videotape her while she was living and record her talking about her life, her health, her medical history. Your pathology isn’t that interesting to the project, Spitzer told Potter. But if I could capture you talking to medical students, when they’re looking at slices of your body, you could tell them about your spine—why you didn’t want the surgery, what kind of pain the surgery caused, and what kind of life you led after the surgery. That would be fascinating.
“They’ll see her body while they’re hearing her stories,” he explained, adding that video and audio of her would make her more real and introduce the element of emotion to students.
GIF: John Keats, 1785-1921.
Enjoy this beautiful, creepy, ethereal short ambient ambient video loop by Bill Domonkos, a filmmaker, GIF maker and stereoscopist. Read the rest