August 2008


Our cruise is nearing the end, with stops in Skagway, Alaska and Prince Rupert, Canada left on the itinerary.

With any luck, our flight will go as scheduled and we’ll be back in Florida on August 31st.

So far we’ve seen the majesty of our northern land, with stops in Ketchikan (the kayaking was awesome – I’ll post pictures soon!) and Juneau, the state’s capital.  And last night we drifted by the Dawes glacier, a magnificent river of ice snuggled between two equally impressive mountains.

My companions (Mike, Karen and Jo) are flying in a helicopter as I write this.  As I am not a fan of heights or, for that matter, flight, I’ve stayed behind to identify the bodies.

I’m sure they’ll return soon with fascinating stories of landing on another glacier and walking along it’s mass.

I’m safely tucked away on the ship, which I have almost to myself, as most of the passengers are riding the gold rush train or visiting this small town.

So I’ll “see” you again in a few days.  And since I don’t have any more essays scheduled to auto-post, you’ll have to wait until next week for more of my scintillating writing (he said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

NFDA 2008 Floorplan With Food by you.

Here’s the latest static floorplan of the 2008 NFDA Convention Expo, as provided by the NFDA on their website.  (The red sections are my additions).

The most interesting and surprising part is the addition of the “New Directions Café” at the back of the hall.

Last year, the most traveled “cheap” booths were the ones by the food.  Why?  Because people stopped for a meal of fast food and spent their time looking at the booths that skirted this area. 

This year, the food is setup behind some booths, but just off one of the main walkways, so there’ll be a lot of interaction with those visiting the food area for a snack and the vendors situated around the cafe.

Our location, on a major aisle between the general session and the food area, seems ideal.

We’re gearing up for an awesome show, with meaningful interactions with funeral directors.  And I’m confident that our 10% off convention-only special will encourage our visitors to place their order at the show.

On a related front, I’ve been having chats with the new NFDA convention coordinator about participating in a pre-convention teleconference for vendors.  The 1-hour session will feature other vendor-related guests and focus on important details for exhibitors regarding the NFDA expo.

More details as they become available.

eHow | How To Do Just About Anything

The website, eHow, bills itself as a resource that teaches “how to do just about anything.”

I recently found an article titled How to do an Online Funeral, but a user named Pianistic.

The article is simple and straightforward, with a few tips that should be relatively obvious to any thinking person.  Things like, have someone videotape the funeral, seem simple enough.

And while this article didn’t do much for me, it got me thinking about how funeral directors interact with their community.

Posting articles on eHow is free and the writer retains copyright of the materials offered.  Why not write a few eHow articles about important funeral planning details and connect with your community?  You can add a link on your website that points to your eHow articles.

Better still, the articles can do immediate good, while also helping you build a portfolio of important information to share with your clients.

Click here to visit eHow.

Minister Cathedral by vgm8383.

Here’s an interesting story:

The Archdiocese of Louisville and a priest are being sued by a Nelson County funeral home director.

Ron Rust, a funeral home owner in New Haven, says a new church policy will interfere with his business coordinating funerals. The Rev. Jeffrey Leger, pastor at St. Catherine Church, has a new policy that funeral directors must work with him when planning services at his church.

The story, reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, doesn’t explain a whole lot more, except to say that the Mr. Rust is asking for damages because the new policy will hurt his business.

When I wrote the article, Thou Shalt Not Use This Firm, I was discussing this very issue:  a minister who doesn’t like you or wants to exert more control.

But that doesn’t mean you sue him!

I imagine it’ll be a long time before the Archdiocese recommends Mr. Rust’s funeral home to their parishioners again!

I recently wrote My First IP Relay Call! and shared that I felt the call was a scam.

Joe (who didn’t further identify himself) shared this:

Ip-relay is not a scam. It is a unique product the deaf people can make a call with the help of an operator.

The deaf person just happen to be looking for a casket. Although, he/she shouldn’t hang up on you which left you off on a different impression.

Although, the ip-relay is a call people don’t get on daily basis and it is normal for them to reply unsure and label them as a scammer.

It is but non-deaf people such as a teenager kid loves to mess around with ip-relay making a prank call.

I enclose you an information on ip-relay. I hope you will find this helpful.

http://www.ip-relay.com/about.html

Then, one of our constant readers, Marcella, commented:

Don’t you think you’re being a little reactionary, Tim? “This is a lot like the scams we’ve seen via email….” No it’s not. The phone call wasn’t long enough for you to assess that.

As a hearing person with Deaf friends, I am familiar with TTY use and relay calls, as well as the shorthand that often goes with them. To me, this call seems like a valid call from a Deaf person — a quick call to find out whether you are the kind of business they need.

I hope that funeral directors don’t read your post and adopt a negative attitude toward relay calls.

Deaf people need funeral homes just as hearing people do. And, as we all know, a large percentage of *all* people are uncomfortable contacting funeral homes — they may not know how to phrase their questions or even what questions to ask.

If there’s a chance that an email or phone call you receive is from a Deaf person, it can be helpful to keep in mind that, as with any language, ASL does not translate word-for-word into English. If anyone reading this wants more info about working with Deaf people, you can start with NAD.org (National Association of the Deaf).

BTW, Tim, back in January 2007, you posted about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), saying you would be researching whether funerals homes are required to provide sign language interpreters. I’d love to know what you found out.

After reading these two comments, I immediately thought that these two readers believed that I either A) don’t know that IP relay is a real service, used by real people or B) jumped to conclusions because I have a bias against deaf people.

Then I calmed down and re-read the comments.  And then I re-read my post.  And then I understood.

Before describing the IP relay call, I should have quoted the email that I get almost every week, that starts out with “do you sell casket?”

The email then goes on to say that they are looking for a funeral home to help them because someone has died in Africa or another foreign country.

I get this email at several accounts at one time, which tells me either the sender is a scammer or really, really, really needs ANY funeral home to help them.

And since I don’t run a funeral home, I doubt it’s the latter.

Interestingly, many times I’ll get the same message, almost word for word, from separate email accounts and with different spelling (but same words) from different email accounts.

Truth is, funeral service is an inherently local industry.  People who call for your services will know where you are located and, hopefully, will know whether you are actually a funeral home.

So, to clear things up, here are the things I left out:

1.  I don’t run a funeral home.  My number is not listed in any phone book or on any website as a funeral home.  I cannot help anyone (even a legitimate IP relay user) bury their loved one. 

2.  There was no introduction, just “do you sell casket?”  Economy of words from a grieving deaf person or scam?

3.  I love deaf people.  One of the guys on my football team is deaf and he texts me all the time.  In fact, his grammar is just as good as mine, probably since he uses a computer and, occasionally, IP relay.  Do some people shorthand IP relay?  I guess so.  However, I’d still encourage caution.

I haven’t changed my mind about IP relay, although I should remind you that this kind of call is a perfectly normal way for some of your potential clients to contact you.  Yes, my experience mirrored the spam/scam emails I get weekly, but you should, at least, listen longer to decide whether the caller has a legitimate reason to call you or is trying to scam you.

As for the question that Marcella, my faithful reader, posed:  I still haven’t gotten an answer to the ADA question I posed a while ago.  But when I get back from my trip, I’ll work on it.

I’m sitting, right now, in the Microsoft Visitor’s Center in Redmond, Washington with Anna Copley of past sponsor, The Funeral Site.

It’s awesome!  The complex (a small town, really!) is huge.  How big?  We’re in building #127 right now.

Obviously, we’ve arrived in Seattle.  We’ve had a scenic, non-touristy drive around the city and had lunch at a really good restaurant on the water.

After we leave the Microsoft campus, we’re heading to Jimi Hendrix’s grave.

Gotta do at least one “funeral” thing today!

By the time you’re reading this, I’m in the air (hopefully!), on the way to Seattle!  That is, of course, if Tropical Storm Fay doesn’t wreak havoc on Central Florida and delay my flight.

Anyway, now that I’m safely off the ground, there’s a few serious things I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.

JUST KIDDING!!!

No, it’s just time for a vacation, so we’re off to a weeklong Alaskan cruise.

Jealous much?

I’m going to take the time to get my book in final order – lotsa editing to finish – and rest up for a very busy Fall season.

First, football starts again in just a few days.  No, not my flag football team, which, luckily, ends this week with playoffs on Thursday.  Yeah, I won’t be there, because of this trip, but the cruise was planned first and rain delays forced the playoffs to go two weeks late.

What I’m excited about is college football, which I love dearly!

Plus, our little company has the NFDA Convention coming up in October, which means a whole mess of cot covers to get on the shelf to prepare for the rush.  I plan to sell 100 of these things at the convention (many will be shipped out, but an order’s an order) and that means we’ve got to be ready.

If that weren’t enough, I expect to roll my book out at the expo and I have a speaking gig for Order of the Golden Rule at a conference in November.

To top it all off, I’m very active in Michael Holland’s campaign for the Eustis City Commission, so my plate is quite full.

A vacation seems to be in order.

We’ll spend a few days in Seattle, where my friends Anna and Dave, from past sponsor The Funeral Site, are going to pick us up from the airport and give us a tour of the city.  What better way to see a place than with local tour guides!

On Saturday, we’ll board the Norwegian Star for a leisurely trip into Alaska, with stops in Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and more.

So while I’ll try to post from the road, I know I’ll be kinda busy.  That’s why I’ve scheduled a few posts to automatically post in my absence, and I’ll beg your forgiveness for any other lapses.

I promise, I’ll bring back some good pictures!

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