Posted – August 8th. 2017 by Richard T. Mindler, Jr.
Here is a little something from January 13th. 2011.
Posted – August 8th. 2017 by Richard T. Mindler, Jr.
Here is a little something from January 13th. 2011.
Radio signals are a form of electromagnetic wave, and as they are the way in which radio signals travel, they have a major bearing on RF antennas themselves and RF antenna design.
Electromagnetic waves are the same type of radiation as light, ultra-violet and infra red rays, differing from them in their wavelength and frequency. Electromagnetic waves have both electric and magnetic components that are inseparable. The planes of these fields are at right angles to one another and to the direction of motion of the wave.
The electric field results from the voltage changes occurring in the RF antenna which is radiating the signal, and the magnetic changes result from the current flow. It is also found that the lines of force in the electric field run along the same axis as the RF antenna, but spreading out as they move away from it. This electric field is measured in terms of the change of potential over a given distance, e.g. volts per metre, and this is known as the field strength. Similarly when an RF antenna receives a signal the magnetic changes cause a current flow, and the electric field changes cause the voltage changes on the antenna.
There are a number of properties of a wave. The first is its wavelength. This is the distance between a point on one wave to the identical point on the next. One of the most obvious points to choose is the peak as this can be easily identified although any point is acceptable.
The second property of the electromagnetic wave is its frequency. This is the number of times a particular point on the wave moves up and down in a given time (normally a second). The unit of frequency is the Hertz and it is equal to one cycle per second. This unit is named after the German scientist who discovered radio waves. The frequencies used in radio are usually very high. Accordingly the prefixes kilo, Mega, and Giga are often seen. 1 kHz is 1000 Hz, 1 MHz is a million Hertz, and 1 GHz is a thousand million Hertz i.e. 1000 MHz. Originally the unit of frequency was not given a name and cycles per second (c/s) were used. Some older books may show these units together with their prefixes: kc/s; Mc/s etc. for higher frequencies.
The third major property of the wave is its velocity. Radio waves travel at the same speed as light. For most practical purposes the speed is taken to be 300 000 000 metres per second although a more exact value is 299 792 500 metres per second.
Although wavelength was used as a measure for signals, frequencies are used exclusively today. It is very easy to relate the frequency and wavelength as they are linked by the speed of light as shown:
where lambda = the wavelength in meters
f = frequency in Hertz
c = speed of radio waves (light) taken as 300 000 000 metres per second for all practical purposes.
It is also interesting to note that close to the RF antenna there is also an inductive field the same as that in a transformer. This is not part of the electromagnetic wave, but it can distort measurements close to the antenna. It can also mean that transmitting antennas are more likely to cause interference when they are close to other antennas or wiring that might have the signal induced into it. For receiving antennas they are more susceptible to interference if they are close to house wiring and the like. Fortunately this inductive field falls away fairly rapidly and it is barely detectable at distances beyond about two or three wavelengths from the RF antenna.
Posted By: Richard T.Mindler, Jr.
May 9th. 2017
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Labor Day is on the first Monday of September every year. It was originally organized to celebrate various labor unions’ strengths of and contributions to the United States’ economy.
Labor Day is a day of rest or the last chance for many people to go on trips before the summer ends. For students, it is the last chance to organize parties before school starts again. In some neighborhoods, people organize fireworks displays, barbecues and public arts or sports events. The American football season starts on or around Labor Day and many teams play their first game of the season during Labor Day weekend.
Labor Day is a federal holiday. All Government offices, schools and organizations and many businesses are closed. Some public celebrations, such as fireworks displays, picnics and barbecues, are organized, but they are usually low key events. As it is the last chance for many people to take summer trips, there may be some congestion on highways and at airports. Public transit systems do not usually operate on their regular timetables.
The first Labor Day was held in 1882. Its origins stem from the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers. It became a federal holiday in 1894. It was originally intended that the day would be filled with a street parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations. After the parade, a festival was to be held to amuse local workers and their families. In later years, prominent men and women held speeches. This is less common now, but is sometimes seen in election years. One of the reasons for choosing to celebrate this on the first Monday in September, and not on May 1, which is common in the rest of the world, was to add a holiday in the long gap between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
Read more about Labor Day.
Posted By: Richard T. Mindler, Jr. 2-01-16
Washington — Drivers who hit the road during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend spent less for gasoline than at any time in nearly seven years, and industry experts predict that prices at the pump haven’t bottomed out yet.
The national average price of gasoline has dropped 7.6 cents in the past month to $1.89 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks real-time national gas prices. That is the lowest price per gallon since March 2009.
Gas price declines were posted in 48 states, with pump prices in only Iowa and Nebraska starting the week off higher.
“Motorists can expect gasoline prices to continue to decline in most areas over the next week as gas stations continue to pass along decreases in wholesale prices,” writes Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head petroleum analyst.
A glut of crude oil on world markets has been pushing down the price of oil products, including gasoline. By some estimates, the US inventory of crude oil is at its highest level in 80 years.
“Major producers are currently delivering 2 [million] to 2.5 million [barrels per day] more than demand, so the question is how long they can continue to overproduce at that level,” HSBC group chief executive Stuart Gulliver said Monday at the Asia Financial Forum in Hong Kong, as reported by Reuters.
The amount of excess oil sloshing around world markets is expected to increase as a result of the United States and the European Union lifting sanctions on Iran on Saturday. Those sanctions had cut Iran’s oil exports by about 2 million barrels a day. On Monday, crude from North Sea sources hit $27.67 in early trading, Reuters reported – the lowest price for Brent crude since 2003. US crude was also near its 2003 lows.
In the face of continuing excess crude supplies, average US gasoline prices for 2016 are expected to fall for the fourth consecutive year. The US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that the retail price of regular gas will average $2.03 per gallon in 2016 and $2.21 in 2017. That compares with $2.43 a gallon in 2015.
In a report earlier this month, the EIA said it expects monthly retail prices to hit a seven-year low of $1.90 a gallon in February before rising in the spring.
GasBuddy projects the average US gas price for the year will be $2.28 a gallon. This would mean that collectively, consumers would be on track to spend roughly $17 billion less on gasoline than they did last year. And consumer spending on gas in 2015 was already $134 billion below gas costs in 2014.
Mr. DeHaan cautions that “forecasting gasoline and market fundamentals are a delicate blend of art and science.” Factors that could change the consumer-friendly forecast include a decision by major OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates to cut production of crude oil, problems that take major US refineries off-line, and supply disruptions during the hurricane season.
Whatever the national trend, gasoline prices vary based on local market factors. As a result of a price war, Michigan became the first state to report gas prices below $1 per gallon. One station in Houghton Lake, Mich., was selling gasoline over the weekend for 78 cents a gallon, while another posted a price of 95 cents, GasBuddy reported.
Consumers clearly benefit from lower gasoline prices, since less of the average household budget goes to fuel costs. AAA estimates that Americans last year saved an average of more than $550 per driver, when compared with 2014.
But gains for consumers are offset by the impact that falling oil revenues have on the budgets of energy-producing states like Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Employees and shareholders of energy producers and suppliers, including firms like Chevron and BP, have also been hard hit.
As the year progresses, consumers should not expect gasoline prices to fall in a straight line. An Environmental Protection Agency-mandated annual transition from winter blend to summer blend fuel will produce rising prices this spring, writes DeHaan of GasBuddy. But the peak average price in April or May will be in the $2.70 per gallon zone, he says, versus the 2015 peak of $2.82.
The annual peak price also will vary widely by location, GasBuddy predicts. The peak daily average in Houston, the oil industry hub, is expected to be in the $2.30 to $2.50 per gallon range. In Los Angeles, the range is predicted to be $3.75 to $4.25.
|See you all next time… Richard T. Mindler, Jr.
Posted By: Richard T. Mindler, Jr. 01-01 -16
Radio signals are affected in many ways by objects in their path and by the media through which they travel. This means that radio signal propagation is of vital importance to anyone designing or operating a radio system. The properties of the path by which the radio signals will propagate governs the level and quality of the received signal. Reflection, refraction and diffraction may occur. The resultant signal may also be a combination of several signals that have travelled by different paths. These may add constructively or destructively, and in addition to this the signals travelling via different paths may be delayed causing distorting of the resultant signal. It is therefore very important to know the likely radio propagation characteristics that are likely to prevail.
The distances over which radio signals may propagate varies considerably. For some applications only a short range may be needed. For example a wi-fi link may only need to be established over a distance of a few metres. On the other hand a short wave broadcast station, or a satellite link would need the signals to travel over much greater distances. Even for these last two examples of the short wave broadcast station and the satellite link, the radio propagation characteristics would be completely different, the signals reaching their final destinations having been affected in very different ways by the media through which the signals have travelled.
There are a number of categories into which different types of radio propagation can be placed. These relate to the effects of the media through which the signals propagate.
In addition to these categories, many short range radio communications or wireless systems have radio propagation scenarios that do not fit neatly into these categories. Many mobile communications systems along with wi-fi and cellular systems for example need to have their radio propagation models generated for office, or urban situations. Under these circumstances the “free space” propagation is modified by multiple reflections, refractions and diffractions. Despite these complications it is still possible to generate rough guidelines and models for these radio propagation scenarios.
There are also a number of other, more specialised forms of radio propagation that are used in a number of instances:
It is also necessary to understand the differnet areas of the atmosphere, or other areas that affect radio propagation and radio communications signals. Read more about Areas of the atmosphere that affect radio propagation
There are many radio propagation, or radiowave propagation scenarios in real life. Often radio signals may travel by several means, signals travelling using one type of propagation interacting with another. However to build up an understanding of how a signal reaches a receiver, it is necessary to have a good understanding of all the possible methods. By understanding these, the interactions can be better understood and it is then possible ti understand some of the reasons why mobile radio communications systems, or two way radio communications systems work in the way they do..
See you next month right here at Click here 🙂
Follow me on Twitter ~ http://twitter.com/rmindler
Richard T. Mindler, Jr. 12-01-15
We’ve officially entered the hard months, the “dark ages” as the midshipmen at the Naval Academy say: the time of the year when the sun disappears and the pale complexions of your friends remind you that you had better take your vitamins or else you’ll have a cold to go with your pasty look.
I dread winter each year because many of my depression busters require sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. What does a guy who goes to the beach and gardens outdoors all year for sanity do in the winter? Lots of things. Here are a few of them:
1. Watch the sugar.
I think our body gets the cue just before Thanksgiving that it will be hibernating for a few months, so it needs to ingest everything edible in sight. And I’m convinced the snow somehow communicates to the human brain the need to consume every kind of chocolate available in the house.
Depressives and addicts need to be especially careful with sweets because the addiction to sugar and white-flour products is very real and physiological, affecting the same biochemical systems in your body as other drugs like heroin. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, author of “Potatoes Not Prozac”: Your relationship to sweet things is operating on a cellular level. It is more powerful than you have realized….What you eat can have a huge effect on how you feel.”
2. Stock up on Omega-3’s.
During the winter I’m religious about stocking in my medicine cabinet a Noah’s Ark supply of Omega-3 capsules because leading physicians at Harvard Medical School confirmed the positive effects of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule on emotional health. I treat my brain like royalty–hoping that it will be kind to me in return–so I fork over about $30 a month for the Mac Daddy of the Omega-3s, capsules that contain 70 percent EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). One 500mg softgel capsule meets the doctor-formulated 7:1 EPA to DHA ratio, needed to elevate and stabilize mood.
3. Give back.
Gandhi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression.
4. Join the gym.
Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to sweat. We have centers today called “gyms” where people exercise inside! Granted, it’s not the same–watching the news or listening to the soundtrack from “Rocky” as you run in place as opposed to jogging along wooded paths with a view of the bay. But you accomplish the goal: a heart rate over 140 beats a minute.
5. Use a light lamp.
Bright-light therapy–involving sitting in front of a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux–can be as effect as antidepressant medication for mild and moderate depression and can yield substantial relief for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I usually turn on my mammoth HappyLite in November, just after my least favorite day of the year: when Daylight Saving Time ends and we “fall back” an hour, which means that I have about an hour of sunlight to enjoy after I pick up the kids from school.
6. Wear bright colors.
I have no research supporting this theory, but I’m quite convinced there is a link between feeling optimistic and sporting bright colors. It’s in line with “faking it ’til you make it,” desperate attempts to trick your brain into thinking that it’s sunny and beautiful outside–time to celebrate Spring!–even though it’s a blizzard with sleet causing some major traffic jams.
Personally, I tend to wear “black”everyday in the winter. But the result is that I appear as if and feel like I’m going to a funeral every afternoon between the months of November and March. This isn’t good. Not for a person hardwired to stress and worry and get depressed when it’s cold. So I make a conscious effort to wear bright green, purple, blue, and pink, and sometimes–if I’m in a rush–all of them together!
7. Force yourself outside.
I realize that the last thing you want to do when it’s 20 degrees outside and the roads are slushy is to head outside for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s much more fun to cuddle up with a good novel or make chocolate chip cookies and enjoy them with a hot cup of joe.
On many winter days–especially in late January and early February when my brain is done with the darkness–I have to literally force myself outside, however brief. Because even on cloudy and overcast days, your mood can benefit from exposure to sunlight. Midday light, especially, provides Vitamin D to help boost your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. And there is something so healing about connecting with nature, even if it’s covered in snow.
8. Hang out with friends.
This seems like an obvious depression buster. Of course you get together with your buddies when your mood starts to go south. But that’s exactly when many of us tend to isolate. I believe that it takes a village to keep a person sane and happy. That’s why we need so many support groups today. People need to be validated and encouraged and inspired by persons on the same journey. And with all the technology today, folks don’t even have to throw on their slippers to get to a support group. Online communities provide a village of friendship right at your computer.
9. Head south.
Granted, this solution isn’t free, especially if you live in Maine. But you need not travel like the Kennedys to transplant your body and mind to a sunny spot for a few days. I try to schedule our yearly vacation the last week of January or the first week of February so that it breaks up the winter and so that I have something to look forward to in those depressing weeks following the holidays.
10. Take up a project.
There’s no time like winter to start a home project, like decluttering the house or purging all the old clothes in your kids’ closets. When a friend of mine was going through a tough time, she painted her entire house–every room downstairs with two different colors. And it looked professional! Not only did it help distract her from her problems, but it provided her with a sense of accomplishment that she desperately needed those months, something to feel good about as she saw other things crumble around her. Projects like organizing bookshelves, shredding old tax returns, and cleaning out the garage are perfect activities for the dreary months of the year. You can also clean out your Facebook and Twitter accounts, it does wonders to boost your spirits!! 🙂
11. Challenge yourself.
My mood can often be lifted by meeting a new challenge–an activity that is formidable enough to keep my attention, but easy enough to do when my brain is muddied. Learning how to record and edit video blogs, for this dude who loves technology, turned out to be great fun. Friends of mine get the same boost by joining Jenny Craig and losing the 25 pounds of baby fat, or exploring a new hobby–like getting off the couch. I try to stretch myself in a small way every winter–whether it be taking a an IQ test, researching the genetics of mood disorders, or trying to build myself a website. It keeps my brain from freezing, like the rest of my body.
12. Light a candle.
If I counted up all the minutes I’ve spent staring into a flame, I wonder how many years of my life that would be. Certainly more than the hours I’ve spent brushing my teeth or combing my hair or whats left of it. It would probably even surpass the combination of bath and shower time. But I just feel better if I stick my face in a hot glowing body of flame.
I hope this helped you even if just a little bit. Happy December and we are always moving forward to Spring, remember that. Get your garden visualized in your head and buy some seeds now to keep spirits high. 🙂
See you next month and follow me on Twitter.
Later my friends…rtm… 12-2015
Richard T. Mindler, Jr.
Behind the palm-fringed beaches and the dazzling draw of Disney, a food revolution is quietly taking root in Florida’s backyards.
Locavores are infiltrating suburban neighborhoods, planting vegetable patches in schools and advocating passionately for sustainable agriculture. With each farm-to-fork bite the message is spreading: slow food is more convivial than fast; local is more friendly than global; and fresh, organic ingredients simply taste better than the rest.
With Florida’s food industry contributing $100 billion to the state’s economy, it comes as a surprise that Florida placed in the bottom 11 states of the 2014 Locavore Index. This despite being the country’s biggest producer of citrus and harvesting the majority of the continent’s winter vegetables. But what’s the reason?
At the turn of the 20th century one in three Americans worked on a farm and ate locally grown food. Now only 2% do and those that left for the cities also left behind the food that they ate and the culture it was embedded in. Reconnecting with this fresh food culture is the focus of a new generation of farmers, fishermen and chefs who are determined to get Florida produce back on local plates. Take a mouthful of sea and sunshine with this round-up of some of the most exciting fresh Floridian fare.
Nowadays American shrimp accounts for less than 10% of all shrimp consumed in the US. Not so at Dixie Crossroads (dixiecrossroads.com) where wild-caught East Coast shrimp are a passion. Family-owned by the Thompson’s in conjunction with Wild Ocean Seafood Market (wildoceanmarket.com), this Titusville institution is almost single-handedly preserving the traditions of Cape Canaveral’s shrimping boats. Tour the Wild Ocean docks and watch crews unload mounds of West Pink, brown, Royal Red and rock shrimp and then head to Dixie Crossroads for tasting plates. There is an extraordinary diversity of flavor and texture: from the firm, springy lobster-like taste of rock shrimp to the velvety sweetness of the rare Royal Red.
Part snorkeling, part treasure hunt, and a great family-friendly food adventure, some of the world’s best recreational scalloping can be found in Florida. Between July and mid-September, when the summer heat bears down on the glassy Gulf waters, families flock to Cedar Key, Suwannee, Steinhatchee, Crystal River and Homosassa with their snorkels, fins and dipping nets. Book ahead for a bed at the limited number of fish camps and you’ll be well rewarded. The annual crop of scallops is thriving in the shallow turtle grass. The limit is two gallons per person (or 9 liters) and adults need a fishing license to harvest. If you don’t have your own boat, local captains like William Toney (homosassainshorefishing.com) and David Jefford (lureman.com) charge around $300–350 for a half-day trip, while group scallop tours run by Majestic Manatee Tours (majesticmanateetours.com) charge $75 per person.
Few topics in Florida generate as much controversy as the subject of its state pie. There are countless recipes, but few truly adhere to authentic ingredients, which means bona fide key limes; the yellow (not green) fruit of Citrus aurantiifolia from the Florida Keys. Part of the problem is that the Keys lime crop was decimated by a hurricane in 1935 so now key limes are only grown domestically. Getting your hands on them isn’t always easy, but for a classic introduction you can’t go wrong at Mrs Macs Kitchen (mrsmacskitchen.com) where everything (crust, filling and cream) is homemade. MA’s Fish Camp (masfishcamp.com) offers a richer, more tart filling and a meringue topping, as does Blue Heaven (blueheavenkw.com). But, for a treat, head to Lazy Days (lazydaysrestaurant.com) where you can indulge in the creamy, sweet tart with your toes tucked in the sand.
The process of making bottarga (sun-dried, salt-cured, pressed grey mullet roe) has long been a tradition in the Mediterranean where it is considered a delicacy akin to caviar. But the waters around Cortez abound with some of the largest, finest grey mullet in the world, much of which has been undersold to Europe for years. That was until Seth Cripe and Ed Chiles set up the Anna Maria Fishing Company (cortezbottarga.com) in 2007. Now they hand-make bottarga much as it was thousands of years ago; using hand-thrown nets, the mullet roe is harvested and salted within a few hours of landing at the dock. The result is one of the finest tasting bottargas in world, with a subtle seashore flavor that accents seafood and pasta dishes as well as providing a delicious pizza garnish. Buy it online, or if you’re in Cortez stop by the Star Fish Company (starfishcompany.com) to dine on locally caught smoked mullet with a side of grits.
Small and mobile, food trucks live or die by the quality of their food and the denizens of Miami are a critical, cosmopolitan bunch. To sample the latest culinary trends on four wheels, head north of the city to the Young Circle Park in Hollywood, where the city’s food trucks gather like a herd of gastronomic wildebeest every Monday from 5:30pm. They include Purple People Eatery (@purpleppleatery) offering gourmet bison burgers, Jefe’s Original Fish Tacos & Burgers (@jefesoriginal), Don Mofongo (@DonMofongo) serving Caribbean food, and many others.
Once a dark hole of national chains and overpriced theme-park fare, Orlando is embracing the locavore movement with a passion and today it is easy to find creatively inspired and delicious locally sourced food. Ravenous Pig is the cornerstone of the trend with a menu that includes burger with truffle-oil fries, the state’s seafood specialties and quirky twists on classics. Other favorites include K Restaurant, run by field-to-fork star chef, Kevin Fonzo, and Cask & Larder, which focuses on Southern fare such as crawfish grits. To pack your own picnic, head to East End Market, a two-story food hall full of small-scale producers and food entrepreneurs.
Chef Steve Phelps is a leading light in Sarasota’s locavore scene, which he strives to exemplify in his aptly named restaurant, Indigenous. Nor has his work gone unnoticed: the restaurant received Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Award in 2012 and Phelps himself garnered a James Beard nomination for Best Chef: South in 2014. Aside from its locally sourced ingredients, Indigenous stands out for the ‘Hook to Fork’ section of its menu, featuring fish from St Petersburg-based seafood provider, Sammy’s Seafood (sammysseafood.com). Each fresh-caught fish from Sammy’s comes with a TRACE card allowing diners to research their fish from their smart phones. This way sustainably minded locavores can learn the date and catch location of their fine fillet, as well as the method of each catch (hook, line or spear) and the captain that brought their dinner aboard.
Apalachicola Bay supplies 90% of Florida’s oysters, and is one of the last places in the US where the salty bivalves are harvested by hand by oystermen in small wooden boats. Get that straight-off-the-boat experience at one of the town’s raw bars. Up the Creek Raw Bar is one of the best with a variety of toppings that will make even oyster newbies come back for more. Outside of town on the 30A, the Indian Pass Raw Bar has been serving the area with fresh oysters for over 100 years. Inside it’s a basic affair: grab a beer from the cooler and take a seat at the shared table, if you can find a spot. The menu, posted above the bar, is simple: oysters three ways (raw, steamed or baked with Parmesan cheese), crab legs and a handful of shrimp dishes. It’s one of the true classics of Old Floridian culture.
Posted By: Richard T.Mindler, Jr.
Over time, I’ve learned quite a few kitchen hacks that come in handy every now and then.
And when it comes to food and cooking, my all-time favorite kitchen hacks are those that are quick, easy, and accessory-free — like this hack that helps to double the amount of juice you get from your lemons.
But the hacks I use most often are those that help cut my kitchen preparation time in half. And when it comes to preparation, I have to say that peeling garlic is one of the most frustrating tasks.
Sure, there are tons of nifty gadgets and tools that can help do the job — but wouldn’t it be better if you could find the perfect solution in your very own kitchen?
Luckily, we here at LittleThings have found the answer, and all it requires is your microwave and 20 seconds.
I personally think this microwave hack is genius, and I can’t wait to try it out next time I’m using a couple of cloves for a roast dinner.
Watch the video below to see just how easily you can peel your garlic in mere seconds the next time you’reyou be trying this out at home?
Writing a comedy article about death is a lot like starting a sexual relationship with fire: Finding a happy place in the midst of the pain is not nearly as easy as you want it to be, and the smell of burned pubes will bring tears to your eyes. But let it never be said that I shied away from a challenge. Not that anyone challenged me to write this, but it occurs to me that death is a universal experience and something we can all share, for better or worse. I can write articles about crazed Australians, sex toys, and vengeful goats until the cows come home, and there will always be a segment of the audience that stares at the words on their screen with a clueless kind of detachment, wondering if maybe I’m off my meds.
But death … that is something to which we all relate. And, by and large, something about which we rarely laugh. But why for? As the only part of life beyond the living of it that we all have in common, it should be as easy to laugh about as anything else. And it need not be mysterious and confusing, as we have so often made it. It only seems confusing because none of us reading this have done it yet. Not officially, anyway. Getting choked out by a lady you gave $400 to on a trip to Bali doesn’t count.
There are a lot of things no one prepares you for when it comes to death because no one likes to talk about it, really. So for the benefit of those who have yet to really face mortality, and those who are second guessing how they dealt with it in the past, here are some helpful observations from an Internet comedy writer you’ve never met, the closest thing modernity has to a thanatologist.
If you use Twitter on a regular basis, you’ll notice a curious affectation of people when it comes to death. The moment a celebrity dies, the news surges across Twitter like a tiny, morbid tsunami, and you can watch it all happen in real time. At the beginning of May, Chris Kelly of the ’90s rap group Kriss Kross died, and the subject was trending on Twitter for two days. Thousands tweeted their condolences to whomever they think it is who reads their Twitter feed who might be checking up on how we respond to pseudo-celebrity deaths and then the rest of us arched an eyebrow and went back to playing Xbox.
Kriss Kross had a handful of hits in 1992. That was over 20 years ago. Two really big singles and something about missing a bus. Between then and now, few if any people probably had any idea what the two guys from the group were up to, and they were mostly a footnote to history as the goofy kids who wore their clothes backward in one of the lamest attempts at creating a fashion trend ever.
If “Warm It Up” touched your heart in some way, if you lost your virginity to the song, if it was playing when you overthrew the puppet regime that was destroying your little island nation, whatever, then it’s totally understandable that you might feel something at the loss of one of the musicians behind it. And it’s totally OK if you never even heard of Kriss Kross and you still offered up a message of sympathy for his family just because you feel for the loss of human life in general. But by the same token, you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t feel bad. Did that make sense? It better, or you’re going to feel so bad.
“Start feelin’ bad or I’ll tell ya about my prostate!”
There’s a kind of weird social pressure when someone dies — either on a grand scale as it relates to a celebrity, or on a smaller scale when it’s someone in your own circle of friends and family — that makes it seem like you need to express remorse and sympathy, and it gets pretty awkward if you don’t actually feel those things. If it’s a family member, shit gets downright ugly if you seem to not particularly care. But it happens, and it doesn’t always make you a monster.
The thing not a lot of people appreciate is that sometimes you don’t care when someone dies; you weren’t that close, or maybe you just didn’t like the person. “Don’t speak ill of the dead” is a carryover from a bygone era, but some people are scurrilous shits, and being dead doesn’t change that. If you’re a rancid doucher in life, don’t expect everyone to be sad when you finally kick it. In fact, some people might secretly be happy you’re gone. Are a lot of people unhappy that the Boston Marathon bomber got shot? Probably not — he didn’t engender much goodwill over that last week. I’d go so far as to say that the man was a straight up turd gargler.
Someone dying is often tragic, but feeling like you’re being forced to pretend you’re in mourning when you’re not is pretty tragic, too. So even if you need to put up a front for the benefit of others, go ahead, but don’t feel bad about not feeling bad. Again, unless you’re a sociopath, but I suspect you’re still not going to feel bad anyway.
Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images
I learned when my grandmother died some years ago (and have heard of enough similar situations in other people’s lives to assume that this is a sadly common state of affairs) that some relatives will take this opportunity to flex great, billowy wings of clusterfuckery and flutter around you like a dick moth trying to clutch a flame made from your dead relative’s estate.
If you’re lucky, you come from a family that is based on love. I have heard of these things and once saw one in a movie from the 1950s and it seemed hokey yet somewhat comforting. If you are less than lucky, your family is a thick goulash of love, hate, tolerance, envy, jealousy, exploitation, and shitheadedness. A death in the family brings this to a boil that can end with lawyers and fights over how drunk Grandpa was when he made out that will.
Nothing ruins a death quite like greed, and it’s an unfortunate part of the aftermath that of course no one will cop to ahead of time. But the day after the funeral, when you notice that the attic has been cleaned out and all the valuable antiques have gone missing, you’ll realize that someone in the family is way more dickish than a lifetime’s worth of terrible Christmas presents had led you to believe. And even if it never gets to be as drastic as straight-up robbery (I like to think some of you come from families that don’t rob each other. Tell me it’s nice. Is it nice?), there’s still a high likelihood of arguments over funeral costs, the odd family knickknack, that tea set Grandma promised you when you were 12, and a dozen other things that make everyone bitchy for no good reason.
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The government and private business both hate nothing more than you. They hate you. Specifically you, reading this article and wondering if I mean you as an individual. I do mean you. The government hates you, your bank hates you, the insurance company hates you, the IRS hates you, I can’t even begin to imagine who out in the world does not hate you. Like I don’t hate you, I kind of like you more than a friend, but any big institution, forget it. Hate.
This hate will become abundantly clear in the weeks following a death that you have been forced to deal with as next of kin. You’ll get a bill for the deceased from someone whose business is run by a flatulating anus of a brain-dead half quat who will proceed to make your life miserable for weeks on end before it gets sorted out.
There are numerous stories of piss-poor customer service out there for dealing with deaths, from AOL telling a person their dead mother would have to call and cancel herself to Verizon billing a dead man because a death certificate isn’t good enough to end service unless a PIN number is provided. They’re not all as drastic as this, but many are a result of large businesses choosing to have their call centers manned by sleepy baboons and people for whom Lysol is a morning pick-me-up.
“Customer service is job one! Wet shit dribbling down my calf is job two!”
While it seems logical to those of us who can eat a meal without missing our mouth with the fork more often than not, for some reason death just doesn’t factor in debt collection in the world of business. The people who man the phones are trained to believe that you are a lying sack of scum-sucking toilet brisket, and they really don’t care what you say if it’s not confirming how much you’ll pay and when you’ll pay it. You could be on fire while you’re on the phone and screaming in pain, and a bill collector will just try to work out a system of communication consisting of one shriek for full payment, two shrieks for partial payment.
This is extremely jarring when you first encounter it and apt to be quite upsetting for most of us, because the last thing you need is someone billing a dead loved one for services they no longer require, but few businesses advertise their inability to apply common sense to everyday occurrences, and that’s why most of us get blindsided by this douchebaggery when it happens. But at least you know about it now if you hadn’t heard of it before, so if it does happen to you, feel free to tell the assholes you’re on the phone with that Felix Clay says they need to secure their own head in their ass and make themselves into a shithead tumbleweed so they can roll on out of the building and never return.