The Hotel for the Departed, a City of Mausoleums & a Coffin-Making Class
In the age of transcontinental traveling, it’s not easy to be buried in your hometown. Unless you choose to live where you plan to die. But for your grieving loved ones, nothing like a hotel to send you off in style. Better yet, why not build your own coffin? Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun. Like our ancestors, we angst about what to do with the deceased and imagine those we’ll leave behind will surely grieve over us. By then, though, the great absentee of this party – us – won’t care one way or another.
We build crypts, enact rituals and come up with ways to memorialize the lives that were, so to transcend, or rather forget, the natural fact that once we’re born, we’re ever closer to the end. But even as we’re off and running towards oblivion, there’s still a lot of candles to light up.
Granted, there are those who truly couldn’t care less. Others never saw a life they didn’t want to murder. And yet, another class of hopefuls spend their waking hours, and loads of cash, trying to outlast the unrevealed count of the days already allotted to their name.
For when that moment comes, regardless of who you’ve been so far, monk or gambler, pious or psychopath, well, it will come. Regardless. The only thing that it’s up to you is whether you’ll ease into that night, or resist. Word of caution, though: it won’t make a damn difference. CITY OF THE DEAD
Creeped out yet? Let’s climb an ancient mountaintop, where each family has its own mausoleum. From the distance, the remote village of Dargavs looks like a collection of medieval white houses, popping up at the tip of one of the five ridges of North Ossetia, Russia.
It’s only once you get closer, after a trying three-hour trek through steep hills, that you realize that the structures are actually stone crypts where locals have been burying their loved ones for centuries.
The ‘city’ is an ancient Ossetian cemetery and each family knows (more) _________ Read Also: * Grace Ushers * A Life, Abridged * Spooky Rites
10 Years Ago Today, Recovery From the Monster Tsunami Got Under Way
The day after Christmas, 2004, a giant wave came crashing on the beaches of 14 Asian countries, taking a quarter of a million lives with it, and leaving indelibly tragic memories on its wake. But the day after, survivors and volunteers from all over the world fought back. Nothing will replace those gone with the receding waters, or their earthly possessions lost to the flooding. But tsunamis and tragedies do happen all the time. What not always survives is the courage to move on. And that was exactly what took place at those places and time.
There were worldwide ceremonies marking the first decade since the equivalent of a small city got wiped out of the face of the Earth. Neither those who perished will be forgotten, nor those left behind will ever get used to their absence. But they will light candles and carry on.
It helps that much of what was destroyed has since been rebuilt. Emotional wounds take long to turn into scars, but just like in Japan, reconstruction is truly remarkable. No one’s wasting time waiting for the next wave. And when it does come, they’ll beat it all over again.
Ah, nothing like being nostalgic about old times, when we were a mere few hundred million of human beings being mean to each other. Specially now, when we’re officially seven billion doing all we can to ruin the ground where we run with scissors after each other.
One would be hard pressed to find takers for a one-ticket back to medieval times, though. Dreamers notwithstanding, most of us wouldn’t survive a day amid the carnage that marked the conquests of new worlds we are so enthralled to read about in our heated homes.
Even the type of complain a typical citizen would air to the local authorities would make us all sick. And we haven’t even mentioned the food. A FEAST OF GAME
Talking about food and reading, literature has been a great guide for us Continue reading →
The Earth Shook & the Waters Came. Nukes Blew Up & Thousands Got Killed
It happened a year ago tomorrow. At 2:46pm local time, on a Friday afternoon, the biggest earthquake to ever hit Japan shook the floor of its Pacific coastal sea and the entire country for six long minutes, while gigantic tsunami waves covered 10 miles inland with debris of every boat, building and vehicle it found on its lethal wake. Even before the powerful aftershocks started, 15,000 had already perished, while over three thousand remain missing. The worst natural disaster, however, may have also caused the worse man made disaster: the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi complex of six nuclear plants, which may have doomed by radiation thousands of Japanese citizens and miles of once fertile land for generations to come.
Even after a year, it’s impossible to determine the exact extent of the devastation of this tragedy, both uncontrollable from the point of view of nature, and utterly predictable, if experience and wisdom had prevailed years before it happened. Still, for years to come, the Myiagi earthquake will remain a cautionary tale for our losing bet against the dangers of nuclear power.
For if Japan has already started the process of reconstruction and Continue reading →
If you enjoy reading obscure tech blogs or following fringe Web sites, chances are you know about Dr. NakaMats, a Japanese man who may be the world’s most prolific inventor. Then again, the most original invention of this very popular man in his country, and virtually unknown anywhere else, may be his own public persona.
Chances are, you may have in your home one of Dr. NakaMats‘ inventions. He’s said to have had a hand on the digital technology that made possible CDs and DVDs, floppy disks, the Casio-type of watches, the taxi meter, and many others.
Not all that successful, which is not uncommon for inventions, and many have been challenged, like the karaoke machine.
Whatever credit he may have, though, what’s surprising is the Continue reading →
As the world pulls its collective hair watching dozens of workers struggle to contain the radiation from Japan’s leaky plants, scores of scientists around the world lose sleep over the damage caused by nuclear crisis past. While the Fukushima disaster has already surpassed the combined radiation produced by Chernobyl and Three Miles Island, other, less well known nuclear disasters may better guide us out of this dangerously overheated, seawater soaked, plutonium infused mess.
Over at the New Scientist magazine, for example, technology features editor Sally Adee revisited an over 20-year old case that resonates Continue reading →
Word by word, you could have read this headline in the 1970s and the 1980s: Commercial Whaling Will Drive Whales to Extinction. Thirty years have passed and the story hasn’t changed much. Despite an official, global, U.N.-sanctioned ban on whaling first established in 1986, the practice of hunting, killing and profiting from the slaughtering of whales continues as bloody and senseless as ever.
Iceland now, as then, leads the nations breaking the law (yes, Continue reading →