February 2009

Eustis Fire Display 2009 #5 by eustisfire.

In addition to the blog, my company (selling cot covers!), preparations for the Georgia Expo next week and all the plans for the 126th Annual GeorgeFest in my little town, I’ve also been prepping a display for the Eustis Historical Museum and Preservation Society.

Headquartered in a turn-of-the-century house built by one of the town’s fathers, the Eustis Historical Museum gathers memorabilia and artifacts from the 126+ years of our area’s history and presents it throughout rooms in the spacious home.

I was recently elected the 1st Vice President of the society (I wasn’t busy enough, I guess) and I spent a few hours talking with my fellow officers about future plans.  We’re testing out one of those plans here, by letting the fire department – something I know well – become the first “swing exhibit” at the museum. 

If this display, which is tucked into a back room, does well, we have plans to kick off June with an exhibit of local wedding dresses throughout history, complete with days where locals can renew their wedding vows in the Unity Bell Clifford Gazebo (on the grounds) or in the front parlor.

We’ll host an “opening” for the fire dept. exhibit in a few weeks.  If you’re in town, I hope to see you there!

Eustis Fire Display 2009 #1 by eustisfire.


Larger view

I just finished reading an interesting article about a funeral home in Minnesota and the effect that cremation is having on their business.  You can read the full article on the Minnesota Public Radio website here.

While the article touches on how many people are choosing cremation because of new economic realities and the way the funeral director they’ve interviewed is weathering the downturn, the article fails to discuss the long-term ramifications for the industry.

I believe that cremation is a game-changer for the traditional funeral industry and that many firms will have to re-think their entire pricing models to make their businesses operate on cremation income.

Traditional burial is called by its name because that’s what drives it:  tradition.  Other than those who fear fire, most people aren’t afraid of cremation as an option; they simply choose burial because “that’s what the family’s always done.”

So what happens when grandma can’t afford a big funeral and there’s a choice to be made?  What happens to the “tradition” when the patriarch or matriarch of a large family decides, for economic reasons, to choose cremation?

In my experience, “grandma’s getting cremated” means everyone else in the family is now free to be cremated.  Cousins start asking the cemetery how many sets of cremated remains can be buried in a space in the family plot.  At the memorial service, family begins discussing how much easier it was to plan a cremation (and cheaper) and, if you’re invited, you’ll hear five people say how much they’d rather have a party than a funeral.

While I don’t advocate battling cremation, I do think we, as an industry, have to realize that consumers are seeing the benefits of cremation, benefits to their wallets and their families, and they’re making the easy, less-expensive choice.

The current economy just gives them another excuse to make the decision sooner.

What are we doing to show our relevance to grieving families?  Does our community know that cremation isn’t just direct?  Do your neighbors and friends know that cremation is just a cheaper disposition than burial, not a completely new thing?  Do they know that you can still provide them with viewing, services and closure?

From our friends at Kates-Boylston Publications:

Funeral Service Insider’s Annual Compensation and Casket Surveys Now Open

WALL, N.J. – Funeral Service Insider recently opened its annual compensation and casket surveys, and the publication is asking funeral home owners and funeral directors to take some time to fill them out.

“Our Casket Survey and Compensation Survey issues are two of our most popular issues,” said the newsletter’s executive editor, Thomas A. Parmalee. “Given the downturn in the economy, funeral service professionals are especially interested this year to find out how casket sales and pay levels are being affected. The more responses we get, the better.”

While answers from the survey are tabulated to help portray what’s going on in funeral service, no one is quoted by name unless they give the editor their permission.

To complete the Annual Compensation Survey, please visit http://tinyurl.com/dzruo8

To complete the Annual Casket Survey, please visit http://tinyurl.com/8z3vuu

To view a sample issue of Funeral Service Insider,
visit www.katesboylston.com/fsi or call 800-500-4585 to subscribe.

2009 African-American Heritage Parade by you.

Every year, my friend Carla Mitchell goads me into driving a car in the African-American Heritage Parade.  In 2007 and 2008, I drove my own convertible.  But since I sold it last year, I had to borrow this beautiful Mercedes-Benz to make the trip.

Riding with me are Patricia Moore (left) and Miss Eula Belle Douglas (right).

Patricia is one of the three founding members of the Eustis African-American Heritage Festival.  Against the protests of the other two founders, she pushed hard for the inclusion of a kick-0ff parade.  After they dropped their resistance, the parade made it’s debut and has been a fitting beginning to a day full of music, food and fellowship for the past 15 years.

This year, Patricia withdrew from helping with the festivities because she’s battling cancer.  A hospice nurse by training, Patricia knows all too well how important it is for her to spend time with her family and friends, as her diagnosis is terminal.

Without her knowledge, the committee made her the grand marshal and sprung it on her at the last minute. 

The night before the parade, the committee held the annual Black Achievers Banquet and honored 12 area African-Americans for their efforts to better themselves and their community.

Ms. Eula Belle Douglas, known around town and “Godmomma” for the number of children she either raised or babysat in over 53 years in Eustis, was one of the honorees and rode in my car with Ms. Moore.

I enjoy driving in the parade and seeing all the excited children, eagerly anticipating candy and the festival to follow.

Plus, the food at the festival is AWESOME!!!

A provincial goverment press release from Nova Scotia, Canada:

A change to provincial regulations for vehicle warning lights will allow the lead car in a funeral procession to use a purple flashing or revolving light on a highway.

“The regulations were amended in response to requests from funeral directors to have purple lights on the lead vehicle in a funeral procession to alert other drivers to the presence of the procession,” said Brooke Taylor, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

While drivers in a funeral procession traditionally turned on headlights to differentiate the procession from other highway traffic, this practice is less effective with the widespread use of daytime running lights.

The rules in the Motor Vehicle Act for funeral processions have not changed and apply whether or not the lead vehicle has a purple light. Drivers are prohibited from interrupting the funeral vehicles by driving through or into the procession, except at a traffic signal.

An increasing number of provinces allow funeral procession vehicles to display flashing purple lights and use is relatively widespread in the United States.

The amendments support government’s priority to keep communities safe.


     A change to provincial regulations for vehicle warning

lights will allow the lead car in a funeral procession to use a

purple flashing or revolving light on a highway.

     Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Brooke

Taylor says the regulations were amended in response to requests

from funeral directors to have purple lights on the lead vehicle

in a funeral procession to alert other drivers to the presence of

the procession.

     An increasing number of provinces allow funeral procession

vehicles to display flashing purple lights and use is relatively

widespread in the United States.

Media Contact: Lindsay Mills
              Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
              E-mail: millsle@gov.ns.ca

One of my customers and a faithful blog reader, Jodi Clock, cornered me at the 2008 NFDA Convention and told me I had to make a pet removal cot cover, so long as I made her one first.

Well, Jodi, here’s the fabric I’ve found so far:


I think it’s appropriate for most pets, like dogs and cats.  Might even work for a badger, squirrel or ferret.  I like the dark blue background, as it will ward off stains and dirty handprints.  What do you think?

Anyone else doing enough pet funeral business that they need a cover for those clients?

I’ve promised Jodi first dibs, so if she wants one with this fabric, we’ll make hers first and start on the rest later.  I’m thinking of offering this pattern with a sheet made from our FluidBlocker lining fabric to place over the cot pad.  Of course, that’s just an initial reaction.  What features do you think would be important for a pet removal cover?

I was just re-reading some old personal blog posts I wrote around the time I started Final Embrace for the funeral industry and found this interesting tidbit about podcasts:

For the longest time (roughly three months and two days) I didn’t understand podcasting.  I just figured it was some really technical new medium that only the well-connected internet users were experimenting with.

Then I heard a podcast.  To be fair, it may have been one of the worst podcasts ever made, but it was my first, so I use it here as the example.

Turns out that podcasting is nothing more than someone talking into a microphone about crap no one else cares about.

Let me get this straight:  computer technology has evolved to such a point that we can now carry with us the ability to listen to boring people pontificate on subjects about which they have only cursory knowledge while we ride the bus?

I’m confused.  I thought that was why they invented the transistor radio in the SIXTIES!  But it’s even worse.  At least with ad-supported radio, you have to possess at least a sliver of talent.  But  today’s podcasting makes any idiot with a microphone a “star” of their own show. 

The internet is turning into ham radio.  Have you seen the people who operate ham radios? 

I have little hope for the future of this planet.

Those of you who have been lurking here for any period of time will probably know that I’ve done my share of podcasts (seems I wised up, eh?) but you haven’t seen many lately.

And why is that?

Laziness and a lack of time to sit at a computer and record my conversations with folks.  And also because my video camera is such a pleasant companion that I’d much rather get audio AND video for the same amount of work.

Still, I think podcasts have their purpose and I’ll be posting more soon.

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