Friday, September 16, 2005


It occurred to me that I can plan my own memorial.

I am a weird, creative, unconventional person who likes a joke, often at the expense of accepted custom. And yet I am also a calm, conventional person who likes the familiar customs.

I wanted to have a weird memorial, but one which didn't frighten or offend my more conventional friends and family. There was a tension.

Wednesady night, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. This doesn't happen often. Then the idea hit me, and I cried a little, quietly, in bed, not because it was sad, but because it was so beautiful.

I didn't want my sobs to prevent my lovely wife from sleeping, so I went to the computer and typed these notes.

I love high-power rocketry, the hobby. The beautiful idea is that if I die, my remains will be cremated into ashes, and one of my buddies in the hobby will launch my ashes into the air at several hundred miles an hour, scattering them from an altitude of several thousand feet, under the supervision of my sister.

I'll have to create detailed procedures for how to handle contingencies, such as a "cato" (motor failure) that destroys the rocket. That will be fun.

Pasted on the inside of the ashes bay will be a picture of my lovely wife and children, waving to me. My ashes will pass this picture as they leave the rocket to be scattered across the Earth.

All of this is doubtless illegal.

The goal is to scatter my ashes forever. But the rocket will be recovered by parachute as usual, to be given to my lovely wife and children as a memento.

Before the launch, at my more conventional memorial, certain friends and family will have the option to donate a hair from their head, or a tiny clipping of hair (less than a square centimeter), to be mixed in with my ashes in the ashes bay in the rocket. I'll be symbolically joined with these people when the rocket releases me at apogee.

One of the steps will be this dialog that I'll write into the launch procedures, to be delivered at the time the rocket altimeter is switched on:

Sister: [Sweetly] We love you brainhell. Enjoy your final frontier.
Rocketeer: [Curtly] All right you little bastard, we're going to give you a wild ride.

Creative, loving, respectful, unconventional, disrespectful, and fun.

Cool, huh?
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