Tuesday, September 12, 2017

hail mary full of grace; watch this stuff dissolve my face

A few things that caught my eye in the last couple of weeks because they put me in mind of previous blog posts. Basically where Electric Halibut leads, the rest of the world eventually follows, even into areas they'd be better off keeping well out of.

So, here's an interesting article about death and the options for clearing up and disposing of its physical consequences, specifically your foetid reeking carcass, lying about seeping noxious fluids into the carpet and generally causing a nuisance. Several previous blog posts have addressed this tricky and sensitive issue with varying degrees of insensitivity, from speculation about using dead people for food to ingesting them in a slightly different way to some slightly more considered thoughts about how ludicrous and wasteful our current arrangements are and what alternatives might be available.

Well, here's a new one: alkaline hydrolysis. As this fascinating article explains, your mortal remains can now be reduced to their component molecules by a process involving nothing more sinister than your corpse being pushed into a giant steel cylinder and liberally marinaded in caustic chemicals for a couple of hours. The resulting residue comprises some powdery bone fragments which you can presumably bag up and take home if you wish to and some soupy liquid which is apparently benign enough just to be flushed down the drain. Obviously that sort of eco-friendliness potentially comes at a price and I don't know how noxious the production process is for the body-dissolving chemicals, or how well it would scale to industrial levels of demand. But the end product is certainly more space-efficient than just burying people, and there are some tremendous buzz-words like "resomator" and "cremulator" to get to grips with. In fact "crem u l8r" is probably how they sign off their texts when arranging the disposal of a loved one.

In a bizarre echo of this post from a couple of years ago, a cricket match between Surrey and Middlesex a couple of weeks ago was abandoned after the arrival of an arrow on the pitch. Technically this one was a crossbow bolt, but it still seems to have been fired from some distance away with little heed to where it might come back down to earth. All good fun until someone loses an eye, of course, and this arrow (unlike mine) seems to have remained fitted with its flesh-piercing metal tip, so it could have done some damage if it had hit anyone.

Lastly, the glory-hole spillway at Lake Berryessa, as mentioned here, was in action for the first time in around eleven years earlier in 2017. Back in the technological Dark Ages of 2007 no-one would have imagined being able to fly a remote-controlled drone out over the lake to have a look down into the mouth of the maelstrom, but of course these days that's as easy as you like, and here is the resulting video. I joked in the original post about inadvertently swimming or boating into the hole and being killed; of course it inevitably turns out that someone has actually done this: Emily Schwalek in 1997. On a happier note, during the decades-long periods between overflowings the outflow tunnel is good for all sorts of other adventures for the intrepid explorer armed with some rope and a skateboard.

So once I've run it past my legal team my will is going to be changed to specify a new method for the disposal of my remains: caustic resomation/cremulation followed by the loading of the residual particulate matter into a small pouch that can be attached to a crossbow bolt and fired in a glorious arc into the foaming mouth of a glory-hole spillway in full spate. What a way to go.

No comments: