Dispatches From The Dead

TO WIT

March 29, 1992|By DAVE BARRY

Today on Consumer Quadrant we are pleased to announce an exciting new service for those consumers who expect, at some point in the future, to be dead. We found out about this service through an advertisement in Yankee magazine that was sent to us by a number of alert readers. It states:

"Just think . . . You passed away months ago . . . and yet on every occasion that is important to those you left behind, and on their birthdays, they receive a beautiful card expressing your warm and loving thoughts to them."

The ad had a coupon that you could fill in and mail, with a dollar, to a company called "Cards From Beyond" of Fairport, N.Y. We did this, and Cards From Beyond sent back a tasteful brochure describing the various cards that you can arrange to have sent to your loved ones on specific annual occasions after you expire, for $25 per card per year. There are cards for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and anniversaries. Our personal favorite card is the "Happy Birthday" model, which features the following message, which we are not making up:

"On this special day in your life, take joy in the fact that those of us who have gone on before would give anything to be in your shoes."

What a happy birthday reminder that would be. Perhaps, to add to the festive mood, everybody could gather round your loved one and sing:

"Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday dear [name of loved one],

And don't forget that [your name] is still dead!"

We think that Cards From Beyond is a needed service, and we'd like to see it expanded into other areas. For example, we'd be very interested in sending Letters From Beyond to the Sears Appliance Repair Department. We have been trying for the bulk of our adult lives to get an appliance-repair person to come to our house, and we'd like to continue trying after our demise by means of an annual card that would say:

"Although 'tis true that we've been processed

By the undertaker

We'd still be grateful if you'd come

And look at our ice-maker"

Some other services from beyond that we'd be interested in are: Betting on Football From Beyond, Claiming Flagrantly Bogus Tax Deductions From Beyond, and Ordering Takeout Chinese Food From Beyond.

Speaking of appliances and death, one question that people ask us constantly here at Consumer Quadrant is: "Is it possible to generate electricity using dead hornets?" We are pleased to report that the answer is: yes. We have here an article from the Feb. 2 Chicago Tribune, mailed in by alert reader Stephanie McGrath, which states that scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered that hornets have a special kind of skin that can convert sunlight into electricity.

"Researchers find that they can hook up a circuit of hornets to produce electricity to run small appliances," the article states. There's a photograph of a digital clock attached to wires that scientists have connected to six dead hornets.

This is exciting news, because unlike ordinary flashlight-style batteries, which are designed to start losing power rapidly the instant you pay for them, hornets represent a natural and renewable energy source that could provide major benefits for all of humanity, including campers:

First camper: Darn it! Night has fallen and my flashlight batteries are drained!

Second camper: Don't worry! I'll just reach into this hornets' nest here and . . .

Hornets: Bzzzzzzzz

Second camper: Ouch! (slap) Oww! (slap)

First camper: Yow! (slap) Ohhh!

Swedish Bikini Team: Aieeee!

Second camper: Well, that was extremely painful, but I've rigged up a simple 10-hornet circuit here, and as soon as morning comes and sunlight strikes their skin, we'll have light!

First camper: Woog. (dies)

OK, so maybe we need to work out some "bugs." (Ha ha!) But the important thing is that you, the consumer, are benefiting from the amazing new concepts that regularly spew from the minds of inventive people. We at Consumer Quadrant promise to monitor these developments and keep you informed just as long as we're around. Even longer, if you want to sign up for our new service, Columns From Beyond.

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