Friday, November 12, 2010

Time Warner Cable in the Capital District

I've been a customer of Time Warner Cable and its' predecessor for several decades. The number of television stations have increased along with my bill. I was alive for the breakup of Ma Bell, the creation of Baby Bells, and the introduction of bundles services-- cable plus telephone plus internet access all in one bill. I was a part-time toll collector when a bunch of folks were traveling up the Thruway installing fiber optics.

Not all of the news is good. There is a disturbing connection with Comcast-- a company whose policies I hate. Time Warner Cable uses dynamic I.P. addys in order to prevent regular customers from having access to creating a business class website without proper payment. This switching regularly causes fluctuations in the signal coming into my home. With the advent of an option to buy faster download times, my non-turboized net speed has suffered significant decreases. Additionally, the installation of higher-speed cabling to local hospitals have left some of us complaining that our phones cut out briefly at irratic intervals.

This customer is not entirely happy. And yet, I don't want The Dish. My choices for high speed internet access are severely limited by geography. That is to say-- non-existent at the current time. Until something better comes along, I choose to remain with a less-than-stellar performer.

sapphoq reviews says: Time Warner Cable gets a D- in my grade book

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Atheism by Kerry Walters

Atheism: A Guide for the Perplexed by Kerry Walters. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2010. Paperback, 195 pps., incl. Works Cited and Index.

I had two professors who used a book they'd written for the textbook of college courses they were teaching. One was a man who taught Phonetics. I loved everything about that book, from the soft red leather cover to the typeset used on the pages to the subject matter. The other was a creative writing instructor. I did not find his book to be as worthy. I judged that book to be as stilted as the writer-- not terribly creative and more concerned with pumping up his false ego. It was with these past experiences that I picked up Atheism: A Guide for the Perplexed written by a college professor who also uses it in undergrad courses that he teaches.

Atheism: A Guide for the Perplexed is designed to make atheism accessible to the average intellectual. On that level it succeeds admirably. It is an easier read than Richard Dawkins, cites numerous philosophers and theologians in its' pages, is careful to define what is meant by key words, and distills the framework of both worldviews into easy-to-follow ideas.

Where the book fails is in Kerry Walters' constant apologies for the outspokeness and brashness of Dawkins and other "New" Atheists. Those theists who are turned off by Richard Dawkins' take no prisoners style are unlikely to convert to atheism anyway. I see no reason to apologize for Dawkins just as I also see no reason for a theist at an A.A. meeting to apologize to the sole atheist in the room before sharing her spiritual experiences.

Apart from the constant mention of Dawkin's presentation, I enjoyed this slender volume. I came away with a deeper understanding of Aquinas' Five Proofs for the existence of God. I also gleaned from its' pages the multifactorial nature of a decision to believe or not to believe. And finally, I was able to identify the commonality vs. causality concerns inherent in a naturalistic historical narrative of religion itself.

Atheism: A Guide for the Perplexed is unlikely to win any converts from the fundamentalist crowd to non-theism. Nor will it suit the reader who possesses only a rudimentary understanding of logic and discourse. Although I do not agree with Kerry Walters' final supposition of where the atheists and believers may begin a constructive dialogue, there was much in this book I found to be informative.

sapphoq reviews says: cautiously recommended.

Drowning Anna by Sue Mayfield

Drowning Anna, Sue Mayfield. New York: Hyperion, 2001. Small size hardbound, 316 pps.

Set in England, Anna is a new arrival at school where she is befriended and then shunned by most of the other girls in her class. She is outright bullied. No one lifts a finger to help. Hints of anorexia and then a full-fledged suicide attempt take place before Anna's mother determines that her daughter needs her intervention.

sapphoq reviews says: It may be that anorexia and self-injury express themselves differently in England than they do in the U.S. Stateside, anorexia is usually attributed to a sick rebellion against controlling parents; and cutting to trauma whose purpose is to make the cutter feel more or go numb. I give this one a clear miss.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti. New York: Random House, 2008. Paperback, 345 pps., inc. reader's guide.

Ren is stuck in a Roman Catholic orphanage for boys run by some priests. With one hand amputated, he is passed by when the boys are lined up as prospective parents drop by to bring home a kid. He is almost at the age where he will be sold to the Army. Then a mysterious relative shows up.

Ren leaves behind the only home he has ever known and joins his "uncle" on various escapades involving thievery and trickery. There is grave robbing also. Eventually he finds out who his parents are and he finds a true home.

The Good Thief is set in New England sometime in the 1800s. The author's familiarity with New England and its' history moves the story along to a successful conclusion. There are a couple of drunks in the story who never do quite sober up, a doctor, some nuns, local villagers, and a murderer. This book has an unusual take on the orphan-finds-love theme. Blood and guts also abound. The story is well-told and enjoyable.

sapphoq reviews says: recommended.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

White Oleander, Janet Fitch. New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1999. hardcover, 390 pps.

White Oleander is a real gem of a book. Ingrid is a poet of some note in the coffeehouse crowd who becomes a cause celebrite after poisoning an ex-boyfriend and landing in prison. Astrid, the narrator, is her teenaged daughter and an artist in her own right. Astrid lands in the foster care system. She suffers through a variety of placements. She makes it out through to young adulthood with her muse intact.

I don't have experience with the foster care system myself but I have a couple of friends that do. They were foster mothers in Vermont-- mostly to boys-- over the space of several years. White Oleander caused me to question my own perspective of the boys' experiences as foster kids.

In spite of being an Oprah's Book Club book (sorry, fans-- I'm not), I liked this book. The language was lyrical and colorful. The dialogues and the characters were believable and well-rendered. The author tackled a tough subject and came out shining. Additionally, White Oleander the book cleared up a few things that I had missed in my prior viewing of White Oleander the movie. The book was not a fictionalized collection of morose reflections on the temporal relationships experienced by foster kids nor was it a catalogue of traumatic events that foster kids can experience. There is both heartbreak and true joy in this book.

sapphoq reviews says: highly recommended.

Italian Neighbors by Tim Parks

Italian Neighbors, Tim Parks. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1992. Hardbound, 272 pps.

Tim Parks and wife moved to Montecchio near Verona in Italy. Native Londoners, they had never encountered fog like that in their adopted town. From the lizards who enter their living space via French windows to the lemon trees and continuously barking dog outside, Tim Parks and wife adapt to their new landscape. Now they are three, as wife has given birth to a baby boy.

radical sapphoq says: This is a dull book. Not recommended.

Secrets of the Talking Jaguar by Martin Prechtel

Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, Martin Prechtel. Boston: Element books, 1998. Hardbound, 283 pps.

Secrets of the Talking Jaguar was a captivating book. The author was lead to a Mayan tribe where he lived for the next 13 years. The local shaman taught him the ways of the tribe as well as old folk medicine. This book is full of fantastic stories about Prechtel's adventures. He married a native 17 year old who produced a baby boy. At the end of the book, the family had to migrate to the States, as the local Guatamalan regime was against anything that could be construed as communistic interest.

sapphoq reviews says: Mr. Prectel's claim of special shamanistic knowedge was troublesome. Still, the book sucked me in and I'd read the whole thing in one sitting. Secrets of the Talking Jaguar is full of unverifiable claims and this bothered me greatly. Not recommended.

The House on mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros. New York: Vintage Books, 1984. Small hardcover, 110 pps.

The young narrator of The House on Mango Street has much to say and a cool style of saying it. This book made me feel like I was instantaneously in on Esperanza's intimate thoughts. She tells about how it is to live in a small brick house on Mango Street. The rhythms of everyday living come alive under the author's craft. I felt like I was there.

radical sapphoq says: Written in an easy to read style, any Hispanophile is bound to appreciate The House on Mango Street. I read it in one sitting. Highly recommended.

Freedom's Landing by Anne McCafferty

Freedom's Landing, Anne McCaffrey. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1995. Hardbound, 277 pps.

A University of Denver student is captured along with a bunch of other people and taken to another planet. She, other earthlings, and aliens from other places are held as slaves. When Kris escapes, she is rounded up along with other troublemakers and dumped on a different planet thought to be uninhabitated. Folks keep getting dumped there, some go rogue, and some die. Freedom's Landing concerns itself with the initial setting up of the colony which the settler-slaves have named Botany. There is of course a swank alien dude with whom Kris becomes enamoured and a few troublemakers on the side.

Place plays an important role in this particular book. The place settings are integral to the plot and I like that in a story. Interspecies love is also something that I like (and something that Anne McCaffrey explores in other books of hers as well as in this one).

sapphoq reviews says: Folks looking for either fuzzy science or hard science in a science fiction novel are not going to find it here. Folks who are interested in the building of relationships during hard times will. Highly recommended for science fic afficiandos who appreciate well done interspecies romance born in the middle of the hardship of settling in a hostile environment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Happy Isles of Oceania by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux, The Happy Isles of Oceania. New York: Mariner Books, 1992. Large Paperback, 528 pps.

I've been curious about the dots of land in the Pacific west of Hawaii ever since I read J. Maarten Troost' The Sex Lives of Cannibals. I was delighted to discover Paul Theroux' account of his trip through Meganesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Hawaii. As he paddled his kayak around nooks and harbors, Theroux frequently listened to c.d.s of various artists. He met locals and tourists, slept out under the stars and in slovenly motels, recorded local stories about cannibalism, cargo cults, and missionaries.

Theroux wanted to go to the island Tanna specifically because the Jon Frum cargo cult was flourishing there [N.B. and is to the present day]. The followers of Jon Frum believe that he will return in a future February in order to rescue them from the ministrations of the missionaries. On the day of his return, the rich white people will be forced to leave Tanna. The missionaries wanted to rescue the natives from such evils as cannibalism. The natives yearned for rescue from the missionaries.

The Happy Isles of Oceania was a fascinating in-depth account of many islands and peoples. The mention of related literature left me with a desire to seek some of it out, the cargo cults' description resulted in my own interet-related. the foibles of the misguided missionaries and the remark that humans tasted like pork had me laughing out loud. Folks who relish the dream of a tropical paradise will do well to read this account of traveling throughout the Pacific in a kayak.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. paperback, 243 pps., incl. biography.

Dear Oliver Sacks,

You are the person I would most like to have tea with on a calm uncluttered California afternoon sitting on your veranda sharing the silence that embraces both of us. You are my hero. You remind me intensely of my humanity-- my intense unwavering humanity-- in the midst of dealing with the professional robots who would rather work to reduce me to deficits and lapses that they can pigeon-hole into stereotypes. I suppose that dealing with the authentic self that is me and more than me is riskier. I am not at all gracious nor grateful for their "help." I have lived quite well over the past six and a half years without their "insight, wisdom, knowledge." For like you, I have learned and relearned that the clinical without the human being is dead, empty stuff. I am weary of these professional robots who cannot hear me when I tell them that my brain damage did not kill off my memory. My memory ranked in the 99th percentile when tested at the rehab hospital six months after my motor vehicle accident. My ability to multi-task has bit the dust, my vision and perception are somewhat skewed, and I've been told that I am now highly distractible. But my memory is intact and I do not need the professional robots to extoll the virtues of writing things down nor of following a written checklist.

Oliver, if I can be so brazen as to refer to you by your first name in this blog post, you declared to the world in this book that the oft-cited axiom that the brain-damaged have only the concrete at their [our] disposal simply is not true. I needed the concrete during the first several months of living with my rearranged brain. I had to teach myself to write in sentences again-- I did this through the internet-- and when I was able to read, I turned to factual books rather than the fantasies that I previously had enjoyed. But brains do heal somewhat and after a time I was able to revel in the abstract once again. You have taught me to focus and build on my strengths rather than to batter away at my difficulties which in fact may not be ameliorable. Oliver, I am so sick of people blindly repeating the phrase, "The brain re-wires itself!" They don't really know what they are talking about, do they? Some of my wires re-connected but not to where they were originally. Dirt roads replaced freeways. Others grew but didn't connect anywhere, thus my central nervous system tremor is one of the prices of recovery. I have named my post-head injury brain Briella. Briella-- still brilliant but a bit sideways. Now I can describe who I used to be in halting unsure words. For a time, I could not even do that. I had to learn my self over again. You remind me not to leave my self behind. For indeed, we are more than our pathologies, labels, problems, diagnoses. So much more!

When I re-read this book, I found again a reunion with friends. I could love Rebecca and Mr. MacGregor and the others. I touched them through your pages. I held my breath as I witnessed Madeleine J. reaching for a bagel. I watched transfigured as she sketched and then made models of what she perceived through her treasured hands, once thought of as "lumps." I was there in your office as you helped Dr. P. put on his shoe. How fortunate your patients are to have had you! I recognized bits of my own difficulties in some of their stories.

Thank you, Oliver Sacks for writing about your patients in such a humane accessible way. My world is a brighter, kinder place with you in it. I take my tea with a bit of lemon sometimes, but no milk or sugar or honey. I'll be up sometime after lunch. Looking forward to it!

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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. New York: Mariner Books, 2008. large paperback, 496 pps.

I've been engaged in reading as much Paul Theroux as I can get my hands on over the last several months and am now just pausing long enough to write the reviews. Ghost Train is the repeat of a trip which Theroux took as a younger man in The Great Railway Bazaar. He left from London (now on a second wife) and trained his way through to India (this time with a detour around Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan), The Far East, Japan, and back via Russia. He also had to take an occasional bus and a couple of plane flights. Along the way, Theroux mixes with the local folks, stays in hostels and hotels, and reads. As in his other accounts of his travels, Theroux has a gift of mixing history of a place with literary works and stories told by people he meets along the way.

Theroux is quick to point out what has changed and what hasn't. Several Indian cities have become meccas for IT, manufacturing, and call centers. The call centers themselves I found interesting. The Indians who work there take on American sounding names and are tutored extensively so that they "sound" like native speakers rather than like Indians. Often it is a college graduate making less than 4000 U.S.D. a year providing customer/tech support India relies on cheap labour in order to be competitive. In India, Theroux comes across many people who dislike Bush 43 especially in relation to the war over in the Middle East. There is abject poverty in India also which he describes without romance or rancor. There are bits also about Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. There are riots and bombing in Ceylon. Over in Thailand, there is a movement among fundamentalist Moslems to establish their own country in the south. Everyone certainly seems to be fighting these days, that is for sure.

Theroux also recounts bits of history while he is visiting Myanmer (Burma), Cambodia, and Vietnam. The behind-the-scenes decisions of politicians (Bush 43, Nixon in particular) were a fascinating glimpse into some of the background behind military actions. He describes in detail his tour of the killing fields, the genocide commited upon the orders of Pol Pot and exactly who helped that corrupt murderer to attain and stay in power. India, China, and Russia all continue to support Pol Pot (each for their own reasons). Theroux also talks about Vietnam and how the Viennese are faring these days. Although he leaves out the prison terms being bantered around for such offenses as e-mailing a relative in the U.S.A. from an internet cafe, he does address the war in Vietnam quite well.

There are throngs of people in the larger cities in Japan. Theroux takes some time there to go cross country skiing in the less populated north and to enjoy the use of two bathhouses before setting off for a final train trek through Siberia and China back through Poland and Germany to England. On the trains themselves, berths (sleeping compartments) are almost always shared and food bought at train stations from the locals is usually safer than what is offered in the dining cars. There is a bit of reflection in this book not present in his earlier journey across Asia. I enjoyed in particular Theroux's musings on invisibility and ageing.

sapphoq reviews says: This book comes highly recommended to the armchair traveler who likes a true sense of place along with an interweaving of history and a sprinkling of literature.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First a lousy poem

No apologies for merging with the stillness,
no regrets for eating the sun.

No tears for a broken heart,
no recompense for a broken brain.

No recognition or awards for greatness,
no publicity for mediocrity.

No affection for privacy panels,
no love for ignorant neighbors.

No sympathy for Georgie Reyers,
no condemnation for Lucien.

No reason will be given for this lousy pretend poem,
no explanation for sudden clapping of hands.

sapphoq doing "more"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shambala Meditation

At a friend's urging, I attended a public meditation session held at a Shambala Center. Shambala Centers are located worldwide and they offer public meditation sessions, meditation instruction, and classes in buddhism.

After shedding my boots and leaving them in the vestibule, friend and I waited in "the waiting room" for another meditation session to end. The waiting room was pleasant and well-appointed with a comfy couch and chairs, literature and magazines related to Buddhism, a selection of herbal teas, and some fresh fruit. The session before ours ended. I was temporarily startled by the presence of my shrink, who bowed to me and left with the others.

We entered the meditation room. There was an option of chair or cushion. I chose cushion and sat, arranging my jacket next to me. There was a small altar up front which I liked. The group leader for that session began with a small explanation that teachers were available if anyone wished, and an overview of the next 90 minutes. First the sitting meditation, then a walking, then a sitting. Then a sharing period where folks could say what they wished-- as long as it wasn't in direct response to what another had shared. And a five minute sitting meditation to finish.

During my sitting meditation, I was taken back to the Grand Canyon and the flight of small birds among the cliffs and sparse vegetation. I practiced gently stopping these thoughts and letting them go. It wasn't forced and I was much relaxed. The walking meditation was a tad more difficult. I was concentrating on the idea of not falling-- as walking without shoes remains a difficult thing for me. It was with relief that I sat back down again at the leader's direction. I will not share the discussion here, nor who the other attendees were. I will say that the sharing was deep as the strictures of others' potential responding to what anyone said were observed. After the five minute ending meditation, we adjourned to the waiting room for herbal tea and fruit.

Two folks discovered that their wallet and daypack were missing from the vestibule. That made me at once glad that I had elected to bring my jacket inside the meditation room with me. When a third person discovered that her bicycle was also missing, it was realized that this wasn't a case of "the janitor moving these things to the lost-and-found box." I felt badly that a thief had entered the vestibule during the meditation session itself and taken these things.

The meditation experience itself was charming, however the theft gave me pause. I am hesitant to return to that particular center. I watch lots of crime shows on teevee. My imagination flashed pictures of us tied up in the meditation room and being ordered to hand over our money and jewelry, being held up with a loaded gun in my face, stolen cars from the parking lot. I am considering starting a womens' meditation group around here.

And one more thing: I am fairly certain that I cannot be a Buddhist. There is nothing about me that is passive in nature. I am too programmed to fight back and I understand the necessity of war in our current world. Until I lose the feeling of wanting to butcher those who planned 9/11, I will remain as I am-- a happy atheist with discordian and pastafarian leanings.

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Shambhala website:

Taking Off Pounds Sensibly

After gaining five pounds in two weeks, I decided that enough was enough. My weight gain has been steady since early adulthood-- at least 10 pounds a year. Gathering up my courage and my bulkiest clothing off I went to a meeting of TOPS, or Take Off Pounds Sensibly.

I was warmly greeted, given a membership packet, had a before picture taken and measurements taken, then shown to the weigh-in room. I registered at 213 pounds, the heaviest I've been in my life. My first reaction-- these people are crazy!-- quickly melted into "What I've been doing hasn't worked, so I may as well try this." I am an O.A. drop-out and the purveyor of many fine diet ideas, none of which have worked for me. (I cannot afford the more expensive commercialized programs around).

After weigh-ins, the main meeting began. First the KOPS folks stood up to recite a pledge-- KOPS stands for Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly, followed by the TOPS folks. Then we had roll call. We could announce whether we gained, lost, or stayed the same weight that week. Folks clapped for the maintainers and losers, chanted "tomorrow starts another week" for the gainers. At my name, I announced that I had gained five pounds in two weeks.

After the roll call, there were the raffles-- for the biggest loser, for those who lost, and for the KOPS folk. Then, a member did a presentation. And finally the 50/50. The meeting dispersed with lots of friendly goodbyes. I was given a telephone list for support. A couple of the members who have seen me walking with the dog greeted me. "Now you know where your friends live in your neighborhood," one of them said. There were smiles all around. For the first time, I felt hopeful about getting to a healthy weight and being able to maintain that weight.

Yes, I did go back the next week. I was indeed the biggest loser there that week-- seven pounds. Hooray for me! As I continue to strive to adjust my relationship with food, I am confident that my goal of getting down to a healthy weight is doable. And I feel pretty good about that.

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Website for TOPS:

Saturday, January 09, 2010

James Cameron's movie Avatar

Yes, I was among the throngs of folks who have seen the movie "Avatar." We went yesterday. There were three choices-- a regular screen, 3D, or 3D with iMax. The time slot that fit in the best with our plans was the 3D showing so off we went. We sat halfway up in the bleeder section and put on our special plastic 3D glasses. As it was a Friday afternoon, the theatre held maybe 12 people in all. After returning a stale popcorn for a fresh bowl (to discover that the freshness of the popcorn did not improve the flavor much), we settled back to a long line of previews and a few which included 3D movies in the offing.

The movie Avatar was full of 3D effects-- many of which appeared to be happening in front of our noses. I enjoyed the forest on the planet Pandora. I especially liked the very realistic looking ferns, the giant-sized fiddleheads, and the white jellyfish-like seed pods floating in the air that were being released from the mother tree. Ah but here I am getting ahead of myself.

Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, twin brother of a dead scientist named Tom. Because Jake's D.N.A. "matches" that of his dead twin, he is recruited in Tom's place to go to the alien planet Pandora and act as the human control for an avatar which looked somewhat like the cat-tailed natives of the planet. The plan was for the human controls to lay in isolation pods and have their "nerves" (nervous systems?) connect with the "nerves" of the artificial avatars who would then go off to explore Pandora and befriend the primitives. The indigenous race on Pandora lived smack dab in the middle of a site where it was determined that a mother lode of the element Unobtainium lay. The mother tree of the tribe also grew there and her roots were described as forming neural networks with the roots of many other trees on the planet in a number exceeding those connections in the human brain.

The plan hits a snag when Jake (who is paraplegic possibly acquired during his career as a Marine) revels in the avatar's ability to walk and so Jake the avatar escapes and goes native. Going native involves falling in love with one of the savages after she teaches him the local lingo. Jake the human neglects to shower and has to be cajoled into taking enough time to eat. There is a showdown at the end of course. The natives triumph over the bad humans who are sent packing off to their abused home planet Earth.

I especially enjoyed the performance given by Stephen Lang as Colonel Michael Quaritch. The Colonel is pure Marine, driven to fulfill the mission assigned to him. His acting was most convincing to me. I found myself hating his character halfway through the movie. Sigourney Weaver was less convincing as Grace Augustine, the scientist who comes to believe in the Mother. She started off with a bang as a bitch who had little to no use for Jake Sully. The script had her too quickly deteriorate into a gentler kinder human sort. I have to believe that her unconvincing transformation was a fault of the writer, rather than of her own fine acting.

The movie Avatar borrows heavily from other science fiction pieces, notably from Asimov's Foundation series with this whole business of a planet being seen as a living, breathing Gaia (yes, you folks who believe that, your belief is rooted in stories). Also present was shades of Anne McCafferty's Dragonriders of Pern and also influences by David Brin. The science in this science fiction piece was notably lacking. The one thing that I especially did not care for was how the group mourning scenes were portrayed-- the natives sat cross-legged moving their upper torso in ever-expanding circles. I was also perturbed when once again an atheistic bitch scientist yields to the throes of religiosity, a theme that I watched in some other movie portraying the world ending whose name escapes me at the moment.

The most significant thing about the movie "Avatar" was the decision that I made after seeing it. I've decided to donate my whole body to science and not just any organs needed for transplant. I figure that if there are any gods hanging out in the afterlife, they will have to deal with my lack of a corpse in a creative manner. Folks here on earth need my body more-- whether it's my retinas, heart, a kidney or two, skin. Or perhaps my earthly remains can help teach some future surgeons how to make those precise cuts. After watching the aftermath of the death scenes in Avatar, (yes those funky scenes where the natives sit cross-legged while moving their upper torsos in those ever-expanding circles...) I figure that our remains are wasted by being allowed to rot in expensive boxes in cemeteries. And cremation does not allow for full use of the shells we leave behind.

While it's nice I suppose for some people to have a spot to go to in the middle of a wide expanse of lawn in order to remember me, I would prefer to be the eyes for one who can now see or the new skin for a burn victim.

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