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The Greenest Way to Die

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We're a bit morbid here at mentalfloss lately (Miss C and her corpses; me and my serial killers), which today I've decided to just embrace and get on with it. To that end, I think we've all pondered at one time or another the best way to dispose of your body after you've shuffled off this mortal coil, and to my thinking, none of them sound very good. I could list the ways, but I really think Monty Python does an admirable job in their famous, gross-out "Undertaker" sketch:

With that in mind, you'll be happy to know that there's now an alternative to the nastiness burning, burying, "dumping" or eating your dead, (as outlined in the above sketch), and it's greener, too. Cremation uses somewhere on the order of 250 kWh of power, and is anything but emission-free; most burials in the western world involve a big clunky coffin sporting plenty of metals that aren't going to break down anytime soon; it's essentially littering! But the awesomely-named Magnus Hølvold over at Ecogeek just turned me on to a new way to die: resomation.

Basically, we're talking liquification. (I couldn't find a picture; you're welcome.) Here's how it works:

Within a tank called a resomator, the body is immersed in a 1:21 solution of potash lye and water. Gas-powered steam generators build up pressure within the tank as the temperature rises up to around 170 degrees celcius. Thanks to the pressure (and despite what the general news media would have you think) there is no boiling, only a chemical reaction that completely liquefies everything but the bone ash in our bodies. When the tank is opened, only the bone ash and any implants or prosthetics the person had remain.

If that still sounds gross and unpleasant (kinda reminds me of that scene in Silence of the Lambs ... oh, never mind), consider this: what results from the process, bone ash and amino-acid-rich person-liquid, is absolutely pollutant- and byproduct-free; a nutrient-rich soup perfect for fertilizing plants. Also, whatever expensive prosthetics the body in question had hiding in their knees or hearts can be removed and re-used, as they'll be undamaged by the process. And the whole shebang uses less than 100 kWh of power. (Above: bone ash. Below: a schematic of the resomator.
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For more info (and bookings!) check out Resomation Ltd.

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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