The Edge Effect

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Niche Marketing to the Deceased Geek

Today at lunch Christina and I came up with a brilliant plan that is going to make us gazillionaires that the rest of you will resent and hate with the envy of a thousand green-burning suns.

Yeah, I'm in St Louis right now hanging out with Christina, it's quite nice. But back to the story...

Among other things, we were talking about the ethics of burial archaeology and donating bodies to science. It came up that we are both planning to donate our bodies, but they are unlikely to be used by archaeologists. Beyond that, the kinds of data that archaeologists want to get from burials can't really be produced by any number of donated bodies.

That's when it hit me. Set up a special cemetery and mortuary company specifically for people who would like to donate their bodies for future study. It would certainly be a niche market, but the possibilities are nearly endless. The entire cemetery would be maintained specifically for archaeologists (and students in related fields) to excavate in the future. No legal problems and no ethical qualms because the interred people would have signed waivers and statements of understanding.

For a nominal management fee, a person donating herself to the project would make any number of choices including how long they should remain buried, special embalming treatments to selectively preserve types of tissue, special treatments to reproduce prehistoric techniques, presence of grave goods, depth and soil conditions around interment, what type of study they would like to be exhumed for, etc ad infinitum.

In addition, each body would leave behind an extensive file documenting physical condition, lifestyle, injuries, cause of death, and extremely detailed life-histories.

This certainly doesn't replace the data that archaeologists like to gather from prehistoric burials, but it would have some applications. Taphonomic studies would certainly be the most likely, but with some creativity other questions may be answerable through this project. In one to five hundred years, there may well be questions about bodies exhumed from 20th century cemeteries. My cemetery would provide an ideal control. In other cases, archaeologically known burials may be reproduced in the 21st century and excavated in the 23rd in order to test our understandings of how they were made.

Probably the main advantage in a half millennium will be that the various nationalities, ethnic groups, and other social segments represented in our current society will be distant memories. Excavating standard burials of these folks may still be taboo, but my cemetery project will undoubtedly include many people buried exactly as they would have been in any other cemetery. Having left explicit instructions that they don't mind being exhumed by archaeologists though, the 25th century scientists will finally be able to excavate the kinds of burials that intrigue them.

Surely this plan still has some kinks to work out. Heck I haven't even come up with a snappy name yet. But I think it's sure to take off as a big thing. In fact, I'd be quite surprised if in addition to the gazillions of dollars this makes me I don't also get some medals and awards for being so brilliant.

Since you guys are my friends and loyal colleagues, I'll let you in on the action. I'll hold an IPO later in the month and you all can bid for part of the action. I suppose I'll start somewhere around $5000 per share of the business with around 100,000 shares available. That's a real steal in 2006 dollars and it'll get you in on the ground floor before this thing takes off.

If you want to get a head start, you can go ahead and send me a box of cash or wire it to my paypal account.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Turkey Hunting

I hate to brag (sort of), but I'm feeling pretty self-satisfied right now. Bowling last night was a huge success.

I had three games in the 130s which was quite nice, but not overwhelming. Then in game four, I finally joined the Turkey Club. I was a probationary member before, because I had gotten a turkey but it was with a different group and nobody on the usual team witnessed it.

Frank was there last night so now it's official. Not only did I get my first sanctioned three-striker, but I went on to bowl a fourth consecutive strike. I also had several other strikes and spares in the fourth game bringing my final score to 222!

Make no mistake, this was a total fluke, that's nearly 60 above my previous personal best. But that doesn't mean I'm going to sit back and not pretend that it represents my skills. I really think the key was that I was a little buzzed and they finally switched the music from Brittany Spears to real rock n roll for the last game. Now if we could just get them to play good music every night...

By the way: The picture is apparently a turkey-shaped Jell-O mold on a bed of pomegranate seeds. Mmmmm..

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Eleven Bones

For maximum cuteness check out today's Daily Puppy. The Colonel is so cute it makes me want to type baby talk.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

King of Handymen

I haven't been posting much lately since I'm spending most of my spare time at the new house. There's a ton of work to do down there and I'd like to get most of it out of the way before we have to move out of the apartment on July 31.

One of my big projects lately has been to get the laundry machines installed. The washer was no trouble, but the dryer was a huge problem. First, the existing connection was just a 3/8" copper tube coming out of the floor with a valve at the end. It turns out that copper tube isn't code for a dryer hook up since it kinks easily when moved and will easily rupture creating a gas leak.

Yeah, I found that out the hard way.

Since the "crawl space" at the house is only about 18" high under the laundry, I had to cut a big hole in the floor to get to the tube under the floor. Big thanks to Patrick for loaning me a reciprocating saw, it's really an awesome tool.

Anyway, after a week of playing learning by trial and using fittings that I hadn't ever seen before, I finally got a code-approved gas service installed behind the dryer.

Of course, in the process I had disconnected the pipe that goes from the back of the machine into its burner. So it was time for open-dryer surgery. Luckily in a past life I worked in a maintenance shop where I worked on large appliances pretty regularly, so this wasn't a huge problem.

This week I finally got the dryer all put back together and gave it a whirl. Sadly there was no heat. So I once again dismantled the dryer, took apart all the guts, and basically performed a dryer tune-up. I did find one bad electrical connection, but it shouldn't have made a difference.

So I put it all back together and... nothing. Dammit!

As I was getting ready to dismantle the dryer once again and considering throwing it away and buying a new one I noticed something odd. It seems that the cycle I was using to test the dryer was not "Timed Dry" as I had originally though - it was in the same place on the dial as timed dry on our old dryer. It was in fact "Timed Fluff," which if you read the fine print means "no heat."


So it turns out that the dryer works great and all the connections are fine. It was just a matter of not paying attention. For this I think I deserve a special crown or something. At least a merit badge.

I think the real key was that I finally broke down yesterday and did laundry at the laundromat after putting it off for over a month hoping to do it at the new house.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Situation

I'm glad the dog park is finally a probably-maybe-definitely-kinda-sure-thing, but c'mon another meeting?! The Ann Arbor dog community has been trying to get a park for a decade now. It's just a few hundred feet of chain link fence and a couple of trash cans. It really shouldn't be that hard.

In fact, I suspect that there are more dogs in Ann Arbor than there are people who play tennis regularly. That - plus the fact that people will use a dog park on all but the most terrible weather days but a tennis court is only usable about eight months out of the year in Michigan - suggests to me that dog parks should be at least as highly prioritized as tennis courts.

Yet according to the Ann Arbor City Pros Plan, the City maintains the following Park facilities:

Parks 146
Acres 1918
Turf acres 564
Buildings 48
Ball Diamonds 82
Tennis Courts 63
Playground areas 70
Picnic Areas 53
Swimming Pools 4
Artificial Ice Rinks 2
18-hole Golf Courses 2
Hiking/Nature Trails Many
Canoe Liveries 2

Total facilities for dogs = 0
Fine for off-leash dog on public property - up to $500/dog

None of this is intended as a slight against tennis players or any other non-dog activity. My point is simply that a very large portion of the city wants facilities that are relatively inexpensive to build and maintain, fairly small for a city with so much parkland, and add value to neighborhoods.

If there were a contingent of jai-alai or cricket players the size of the dog contingent, it would make sense for the city to put a little money into those facilities. In fact, I know a group plays cricket informally at Pioneer High School, but they don't incur $500 fines and possible death by organizing informal games on unused baseball fields or parking lots.

Playing Frisbee with Sadie should NOT be a crime!

At Last!

The Ann Arbor News ran a front page story yesterday proclaiming: At Last, a Dog Park for Ann Arbor. Yes indeed, it looks like Ann Arbor is finally going to catch up with cities like Saline, University City Missouri, and Beatrice Nebraska and become dog-friendly.

But first there has to be yet another meeting about this. It is tomorrow evening at 7:00 PM at Bryant School, please come if you want to support the Dog Park.

Dog Park Meeting
Thursday June 8
7:00 PM
Bryant School

Thursday, June 01, 2006

PB Baby!

Wednesday night is bowling night in my little world. Last night was kind of a disappointment since only one other person showed up, but it was a good night for my game. I bowled a 166 in our third game. That's a new personal best for me, and not by just a little bit. I had previously bowled 155 several times but couldn't seem to break it.

So yeah, I'm feeling good about my skills today.