As Retold by Sam Aurelius Milam III
I don't recall where I heard this story, but it bears repeating. I extend my thanks to the original author.
A member of the U.S. Senate died unexpectedly and arrived at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter was nonplused. "I'm sorry," he said, "but we weren't expecting you until tomorrow. Your cloud isn't ready. However, I can temporarily find a place for you Down Below and have your cloud ready by tomorrow."
So, they zipped down the Celestial Elevator and were met at the door by the Devil, who was a dapper fellow in a tuxedo. He escorted the Senator around the Grounds of Hell and she was greatly impressed. There were lovely parks and broad peaceful meadows. There were picturesque woodlands, little cottages, and in the distance, vast and mighty mountains. The blue sky was dotted with pretty little clouds and every breeze carried a whiff of lilac, or roses, or some other lovely scent. The senator spent the night in one of the cottages and, the next day, she returned to Heaven. She spent the day sitting on her pink cloud. She didn't have anything to eat or drink. There wasn't anything to do. Eventually, she called for St. Peter and said, "You know, Pete, I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but I think I'd rather be in Hell."
So down the Celestial Elevator she went. When she arrived, she beheld a vast, burning plain filled with howling barefoot people, plucking red-hot chunks of brimstone with their bare hands, and dropping them into burning bags. When the bags were filled, hideous demons dumped them and forced the screaming people to start over again. Any who refused were sent to an even worse place. The Senator demanded to see the Devil. When he appeared, he was tall, covered in stinking flames, and armed with a pitchfork. "This isn't what I expected!" wailed the Senator. "This isn't what you showed me yesterday!" "Yesterday," said the Devil," we were campaigning. Today, you voted for us."
|A Radical Proposal, The Warrior's Repose
Our country is mired deep in problems. Although many are now being addressed and solved, there's one that's been completely hidden from view. Some people see it as a taboo subject, but the problem has gotten so serious it can no longer remain buried. I speak of our country's cemeteries, both public and private, that are quickly running out of burial space. Some are frightfully overcrowded already, and the situation grows worse by the day.
Sure, more cremation of remains could alleviate the problem. So could a substantial increase in the number of above-the-ground entombments in high-rise mausoleums. Both methods are hot topics these days, especially the former. For the vast multitudes, however, such disposal or interment of remains is utterly unacceptable for religious and/or personal reasons, such as aversions to temperature extremes and fear of heights.
Yet the primary way of burial in our country, with the deceased laid in a casket that is buried flat in the ground, is the source of the trouble. I, therefore, propose a radical idea: let's continue burying people underground, but standing up!
Before you rule out vertical interment as repugnant, ridiculous, or undignified, consider the following: if the method is adopted, right away a large area of land will be freed up. Three people could be interred in the same space that one occupies today, meaning a tripling of all remaining cemetery space!
Additionally, taking less space should cut the cost of a cemetery plot to a third of what it is today. That, however, may prove unrealistic economically. There'd be no incentive in it for cemetery owners to accept the new plan. If we allowed them to sell their one-third normal-size plot for, say, half the price of the regular-size one, owners would be increasing their profits from the same amount of land by 50 percent. Now that's capitalism, and owner's would certainly go for it.
This whole concept would make family plots affordable again, too.
Also, a small but significant advantage would come from the ease in digging a new vertical grave. It could be bored out quickly with an auguring tool, saving much labor for gravediggers and expense for cemetery administrators. And after burial, less dirt would have to be removed to exhume a body when required.
Actually, this idea of being buried standing up isn't new, but quite old. It was the preferred burial position for warriors in some ancient societies. Not many years ago, the poor and indigent were buried standing up in 'potter's fields', a name given to cemeteries for such people, for the same reasons that this idea is being proposed now: saving space and reducing cost. This went on for a long time without complaint from anyone, but was stopped, apparently for humane reasons, as if the deceased cared. Maybe now, however, it's time to bring back this efficient idea for burial regardless of a person's economic status.
There is one minor caveat if this burial method is made the norm: care must be taken so that the deceased isn't buried upside down. Though it is assumed that this makes little difference to the deceased, family members and friends can get quite exercised upon learning of this topsy-turvy happening.
Of course, the problem could literally and figuratively be easily turned around. Moreover, it could be avoided in the first place by the simple expedient of marking in large letters on the head of the casket 'This End Up.' Or the situation could just be allowed to stand as it is. After all, who's to know but the gravediggers and cemetery sextons?
Perhaps a small demonstration project ought to be tried with vertical interment. Some folks could be buried standing up next year to see how well people, those still alive that is, take to the idea. If they don't, they could then chip in the additional money required for a regular-size burial plot for their loved one. By the way, the little, flush-with-the ground tombstones, the only kind more and more cemeteries are allowing, would fit in well with this new type of burial.
Because of severe shortages in available burial land and high-priced cemetery plots in general, this is an idea whose time has come again. Why don't you start the ball rolling by being the first on your block to say, "I want to be buried standing up like a warrior!"
Or, we could store the coffins standing upright in warehouses. Exhumation, when necessary, would be a breeze and, what difference does it make if there's dirt between them?
|Letter to the Editor
It seems that many of the most vigorous advocates of liberty are either incarcerated, or living in dire poverty. Why do you suppose this is, and what might be done about it?
Sir Donald the Elusive
The cause is obvious. Anyone who insists upon living according to the fundamental principles of liberty being presumed innocent, refusing to bear the burden of proof of innocence, insisting that an accuser bear the burden of proof of guilt, insisting on remaining silent (not providing any information at all) will be punished in one way or another. You can demonstrate it to your own satisfaction by trying to enforce those principles the next time you encounter a demand that you violate them applying for a job, getting through a "security" check, filing a tax return, dealing with a traffic cop, and so forth. As to what can be done about it, my advice is to position yourself first and then just do it insist on living according to the fundamental principles of liberty and accept the consequences. That's what I've been doing for the past 15 or so years. Just be sure to position yourself first.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
Limited Perception While I lived on the farm in Idaho, we usually had a couple of Holsteins in the pasture. One day after finishing some chore, I went through a gate from the pasture back into the yard. As I closed the gate, I glanced back into the pasture and saw one of the Holsteins watching me. I got the strangest impression that it was thinking, "Amazing! They walk right through fences!" It occurred to me then that creatures who can walk through walls, presuming of course that such creatures exist, might be similarly amused at us, staring at them as they close the portals in the walls. Maybe we can't understand the portals in the walls any more than that Holstein could understand the gate in the fence.
Some Benefits of Being Old
Calls to 911
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by Don G.
Caller: Yeah, I'm having trouble breathing. I'm all out of breath. Dang ... I think I'm going to pass out.
Dispatcher: Sir, where are you calling from?
Caller: I'm at a pay phone. North and Foster. Dang ...
Dispatcher: Sir, an ambulance is on the way. Are you an asthmatic?
Dispatcher: What were you doing before you started having trouble breathing?
Caller: Running from the police. So don't send them.
Dispatcher: Nine-one-one. What is the nature of your emergency?
My thanks to the following: Sir James the Bold, Sir John the Generous, SantaClara Bob, Lady Jan the Voluptuous, Sir Donald the Elusive, Joseph, of Northridge, California, and Terry, of San Leandro, California.
Uneasy Student Pilot
Dear Uneasy Student Pilot
Try to come in low.
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Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor