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Diatribe: Drive-Thru Funeral Homes.

5I hate funeral homes.  Growing up in the Midwest, I was familiar with funeral home only as a venue where families would host a “wake”.  It was an old European custom for mourners to stay awake and keep watch or vigil over their dead until they were buried while expressing condolences to the family of the deceased..  Unbeknownst to me, in other parts of the country these funeral home gatherings were known as “viewings” and have evolved into social events that combine paying respect to the deceased, offering condolences to the family and showering them with food and love during their time of grief.

Just as traditions have changed over the years, so have funeral homes.  Some have added kitchens and banquet halls.  Others large restroom facilities and most have enormous parking lots.  Paradise Funeral Chapel in Saginaw, Michigan has added a drive-thru window.

“You may find people who are afraid of funeral homes, now they can view their loved ones from the convenience of their car.” – Ivan Phillips, Owner, Paradise Funeral Chapel.

Last Sunday, Paradise Funeral Chapel unveiled its new drive-thru facility.  As cars pull up to the drive-thru window, curtains move back after a sensor in the ground detects a vehicle’s weight.  The drive-thru offers protection from inclement weather and comfort for the disabled.

I find this practice to be morbid, macabre and undignified.  It seems to me that anyone who would drive up to a window for a glimpse at a corpse is certainly not doing so out of respect or sympathy but out of ghoulish curiosity.  Are they driving thru to offer condolences or to get a peek at the body?

“The funeral industry is changing rapidly. So my intent was to bring something here that was accessible to the community.  We wanted to provide convenience and accessibility for our customers for the times and days they don’t want to get out of their vehicle.” – Sharise Phillips, Manager, Paradise Funeral Chapel.

Paradise Funeral Chapel isn’t the first funeral home to offer drive-thru services and it, surely, won’t be the last.  Many funeral homes offer live stream services via the internet so that friends and family who are unable to attend in person can be a part of the grieving process from afar.  I imagine this can be a wonderful service but, to me, the concept of “making it convenient to grieve” is borderline obscene.

I, for one, will not allow a deceased loved one to be displayed in a drive-thru window.  Anyone who visits a funeral home to pay respects to my dead relative has to get out of their car and come inside.  If you’re disabled or the roads are icy, a phone call and some thoughtful words will be graciously appreciated.

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Ovation: Dating Naked: The Wedding.

NAKED_DATING_08_06_14_WEDDINGI’m one of the lucky ones.  I found “true love” many years ago.  I found it in a time when you had to know someone who knew someone they thought would get along with you or you had to, physically, go somewhere to meet someone.  Back then, people would meet at school, at work, at church, at a club or through mutual acquaintances.  There was no such thing as online dating so you couldn’t meet people in your bathroom drinking a smoothie with your hair up and petting a cat.  You couldn’t meet someone using an app on a smartphone and, with the exception of The Dating Game, you couldn’t meet someone on television.  You certainly couldn’t meet someone on television while you were naked!

Times have changed.  Last summer, basic cable channel VH1 brought us Dating Naked, a dating program featuring two different contestants who each go on three dates each episode … completely nude.  The series has averaged about one million viewers per episode in season one (the final installment airs on September 25th) and a second season is scheduled to begin next summer.

Having watched a few seasons of The Bachelorette and finding myself disgusted by the premise of Married At First Sight, I was surprised to find that I truly enjoy watching Dating Naked.  The singles who sign up to participate in the process are serious about the commitment.  All of the participants appear to be extremely confident individuals with big personalities and I can see where they might sometimes have difficulty in finding a mate who can share their enthusiasm for life without feeling intimidated.

VH1Throughout Dating Naked’s first season, six couples formed.  One of the couples will be the focus of a special episode Dating Naked: The Wedding on Wednesday, September 18th.  While not a legally binding ceremony or, technically, a wedding at all, during the special Alika Medeiros (a 36-year-old yoga instructor/sexual healer) and Ashley Fonda (a 27-year-old artist) will exchange “vows of love and commitment”.  And they’ll do it completely naked.  The couple met and made an immediate connection last May in Panama where then quickly bonded over their spiritual connection and new-age views on love.

“I definitely feel that being naked drops a lot of the façade and boundaries in-between each other. You have nothing separating you from the other person … so it definitely brings you closer to somebody.” – Alika Medeiros

Of course all the naughty bits are always blurry … so don’t get too excited.

I think it’s wonderful that these two found each other.  Their personalities are so unique that it’s easy to see why they haven’t bumped into a soul mate in the produce department of their local supermarket.  Signing up for the adventure that is Dating Naked appears to have worked for this couple.  Of course, the cynics among us can always wonder if all of this is just about ratings.

I’ll be watching. Will you?

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

Diatribe: Deadly Texting Driver Receives Only Probation.

Misti Risner

Misti Risner

Texting while driving is a very serious problem on highways all around the world.  With more and more frequency, laws are being created and courts are making rulings that impact drivers who are distracted by smartphones and other electronic devices in an effort to keep us safe from one another.  I, personally, cannot text and drive … particularly during my commute to and from the office, where there is a portion of my journey during which I receive no cellular service … because I don’t wear my reading glasses when I drive.  I will confess to picking up my glasses and my iPhone when I’m stopped at a red light every once in a while but as a matter of practice I never text while my car is in motion because I simply can’t.  I consider myself fortunate that I can easily avoid the distraction.

On March 17, 2013, Misti Risner of Lawrence County, Tennessee, was driving an SUV eastbound on Highway 64 at about 5:30 p.m. when she failed to stop and ran into the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle pushing it into the westbound lane where it collided, head-on, with another vehicle.  Two people, Clyde and Carmie Newton, on the motorcycle were killed and two others in the westbound car were injured.  Authorities reported that the time stamp on Risner’s cell phone showed that she had posted a message to Facebook while driving, only minutes prior to impact, and that there was a partial message that she had been in the process of typing.

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A Grand July indicted her in July of last year on two counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of vehicular homicide.  She chose to enter guilty pleas for one count of reckless endangerment and two counts of criminally negligent homicide … lesser charges.

On Monday, August, 25, 2014, when her case came before a judge, her defense team requested that Judge Jim T. Hamilton grant Risner “Judicial Diversion” mean that she remain on probation throughout her sentence.  The prosecution, representing the family of the deceased couple who were also in attendance in the courtroom, requested that the maximum sentence be considered while indicating that their main request was that probation not be granted.

On Tuesday, Misti Risner was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment and sentenced to only four years of probation.  Incredibly, Judge Hamilton indicated that, if Risner stays out of trouble during that time the charges will be wiped from her record!

Clyde and Carmie Newton

Clyde and Carmie Newton

Apparently, the judge chose to treat the death of Newtons like any other traffic accident when, in my opinion, it wasn’t an accident at all … Ms. Risner didn’t accidentally use her cell phone to post on Facebook.  But when she did, the death of two people was the result.  Texting while driving in Tennessee is against the law.  Killing people while texting while driving should be REALLY SUPER against the law.  The message that this judge has sent to the community is WRONG.  The family left behind by the victims is devastated and they are on a mission to stop others from texting and driving.  We all should be.

There are people in the United States prison system serving life sentences for shoplifting and selling marijuana yet Misti Risner will serve only four years probation and have a clean record after being found responsible for the death of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde and Carmie Newton.

Are you outraged by Misti Risner’s sentence? Or do you think the judge was right … it was just another traffic accident?

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

09/11/01 Never Forget

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Ovation: Grace Karaffa Fights For Chapstick On Her Playground.

Grace Karaffa Photo by Bob Stuart/The News Virginian

Grace Karaffa appears before the Augusta County (VA) Schoool Board on 09/04/14.
Photo by Bob Stuart/The News Virginian

I’m an addict.  I’ve always been an addict.  I’ve got a Chapstick monkey on my back.  I’ve been hooked on the waxy lip balm for as long as I can remember.  I’ve always carried Chapstick in my book bag.  In high school marching band, I kept a tube in my trombone case.  At home, there’s one tucked in a kitchen cabinet, another hidden in the bathroom and one on my nightstand in case I need a fix during the night.  At work, there’s one on my desk and a back-up in a drawer.  There’s a Chapstick in the glove box of my car.  At this very moment I’m looking at jar of Carmex and I can feel the tube of Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm in my shirt pocket.

I’m an addict.  I’m addicted to Chapstick.I can relate to fifth-grader Grace Karaffa who, when she felt her lips drying and cracking on the playground of Stuarts Draft Elementary School in Augusta County, Virginia, asked her teacher if she could have some Chapstick to soothe them.  Grace received a firm “no” along with an explanation of school policy that Chapstick has been deemed too dangerous for kids.  Apparently, the school district has determined that Chapstick is considered an over-the-counter medication and, hence, off-limits to students.

“I was told I couldn’t use it. Then later that day they [her lips] started to bleed so I asked for Chapstick again and I was told that it was against the school policy for elementary kids to have Chapstick.” – Grace Karaffa appearing before the August County (VA) School Board

Young Grace, a Chapstick addict in the making, wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  Grace is fighting for Chapstick on her playground.  She collected more than two hundred thirty signatures on a petition that she presented to the school board last Thursday night to ask for a policy change to allow students to use Chapstick.

“Chapstick allows the human body to heal the lips themselves and protects them in any weather from drying out.  Please school board, allow us to have Chapstick.” – Grace Karaffa appearing before the August County (VA) School Board

No chapstickThe school board noted that Chapstick could be allowed if a physician asked for a student to use it but only if it was applied by a school nurse.  One of the reasons for the policy, it was explained, is concerns about elementary students sharing medications.  Apparently, Grace’s request was “taken under advisement” and the school’s administrators will communicate with the girl’s parents.

It sounds to me like Grace’s lips will be bleeding on the playground this winter.  But good for her for putting into action some of the things she might have learned in social studies.  I believe she deserves an ovation.

If we add Grace Karaffa’s situation to last month’s suspension of a teenage student for saying “bless you” in school after a fellow student sneezed, the list of seemingly absurd zero-tolerance policies in public schools seems to be growing at a rapid pace.

My advice to Grace Karaffa, after decades of Chapstick addiction experience including dozens of cherry flavored tubes left in pants pockets as they go through hot cycles in the clothes dryer (avoid this at all costs!) would be to tuck a tube in your sock when you leave the house in the morning, shove one in the bottom of your book bag, another into that inside pocket of your coat and one in your pencil case.  You can sneak it on by covering your mouth as you pretend to yawn or sneeze.  It’s a skill that might take a little practice but will come in quite useful later in life.

Trust me … I know Chapstick.

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

Diatribe: An Open Letter To Janay Rice.

An Open Letter

Dear Janay,

I’m sorry that you think the media is causing you “pain” just to get ratings, but let me tell you what I think is really happening.  You see, what your husband did to you in that elevator is not cool.  It’s not “ok”.  You love him and all, and you’ve forgiven him and chosen to move forward with your relationship and that’s your business, but the message that you’re sending to all the women who are getting beat up by their men is that “if you love them it’s ok”.

It’s not ok, Janay!  It’s never ok!

Your husband is a role model to nobody-knows-how-many kids who think want to grow up to play football and get rich … just like him.  Do you really want all those boys to grow up to be men who think it’s ok to punch their wives and knock them unconscious?  To think that women will stick around because if they really love them it’s ok to get beat up once in a while?  As the wife of an NFL player you, too, are a role model to young women.  Are you intentionally sending the message that you have to take a few punches for love?

Janay, you cannot blame the media for the fact that your husband has lost his job … you can only blame him.  The media did not punch you in the face, knock you unconscious and drag your limp body while allowing the proceeding to be captured on video.

The Baltimore Ravens and the NFL both have businesses to run.  Wife-beaters are bad for business.  Ray Rice is a documented wife beater.  Had you chosen to press charges he could, possibly, be in prison.  Perhaps they should have fired him sooner and they want their customers to know that they’ve finally done so.  This could explain why you find the media entrenched in your lives.  Releasing your statement on Instagram certainly added fuel to the fire.

It’s very difficult to feel any sympathy for you, Janay, as you whine about the “pain” this experience has caused your family, because you get to go home to a mansion and count your money while other abused women feel real pain in shelters across the nation.

As Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said just this morning, “There’s no question in my mind the emphasis that we have on spousal abuse in the NFL and the lack of tolerance for it.  It’s intolerable and it will be adjudicated accordingly.”  Domestic violence is a very serious issue.

I’m relatively certain the Rice family will quickly adjust to Ray’s early retirement.  Surely, you’ll be able to get by on savings.  And there’s probably a room or two in one of your homes where you can avoid the media for a while.

DiatribesAndOvations.com

Domestic Abuse Hotline

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Like this post? Follow the blog and get involved in discussions! Find “Follow via Email” on the right side of the page.  There’s also an opportunity to follow on Twitter and/or LIKE our page on Facebook so you won’t miss a daily post.  Click on buttons at the end of each post to share on other social media sites, too!  Thanks for reading!

Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

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