Monday, March 26, 2007

Cremation, "Car Talk" Style

Car Talk is the weekly radio show by automobile mechanics/engineers/entertainers Tom Magliozzi & Ray Magliozzi ("Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers"), of Boston, Massachusetts (the "Car Guys").

This focused -- and sometimes funny -- question & answer exposition about cars, car repairs, or car junk, offers much to professional advisors and consumers alike, as heard throughout America on
National Public Radio. The show is described by Wikipedia, here.

This is an
example of the kinds of issues introduced on the show by the Car Guys:

I have two brothers. One is in auto sales.

The other brother was just sentenced to death in the electric chair for murder.

My mother died from insanity when I was three years old. My two sisters are prostitutes and my father sells narcotics.

Recently I met a girl who was just released from a reformatory where she served time for smothering her illegitimate child to death, and I want to marry her.

My problem is: If I marry this girl, should I tell her about my brother who is in auto sales?

Their reach extends not only through their radio show, but also from their extensive, eclectic, educational Car Talk website (which does not bear any Circular 230 Disclaimer -- so, rely all you wish).

Over the years, many professionals -- accountants, attorneys, bankers, charitable giving officers, financial planners, and IRS income tax auditors, to mention a few -- have attended to the sage on-air advice delivered by the Tappet Brothers, who speak freely & unrehearsed.

For example, Tom & Ray have provided such needed guidance as:

  • How to make the donation of an automobile to a local public radio station and thereby achieve an income tax deduction:
    • "Why not donate it to benefit your local public radio station? Thanks to the Car Talk vehicle donation program, you can now clear out your driveway, support your local public radio station and get a tax deduction — all in one fell swoop. Interested — or know someone who might be? Check out the full scoop, below. And thanks — for supporting your local NPR station, and for listening to our lousy show."
  • How to adjust a vehicle's two outside mirrors properly to attain a full field of rear vision & thereby avoid accidents from the "blind spot" (and, therefore, premature death) -- Developed with Allstate as one of many safety & good driving tips listed in their website's "Car Talk Safe Driving Zone":
    • "For years, we'd been setting our side-view mirrors so that they gave us a view of the back corner of our cars. This is the way it's been done for generations -- from grandfather, to father, to us! But we finally discovered something very interesting. The back corner of the car never moves. It always stays in the same exact place. So there's really no reason to keep an eye on it."
  • How to calculate the cost of a vehicle acquisition -- in conjunction with Cars.Com
  • How to value a used vehicle -- with values provided by Kelley's Blue Book
  • How to deal with vehicles -- with information or links provided on topics of buying, selling, or owning
Previously, some more personal material was discussed or posted by the Car Guys relevant to elder law or eternity matters, including:
I believe that the closest the Car Guys got to personal commentary about a funeral was their reading & posting of an obituary for English Professor Louis Casimir, Jr., who taught at Bucknell University (before, during & after the time I studied there as an undergraduate English major). Louis died in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, on February 5, 2004.

This past weekend, however, the dynometric duo revealed their expertise on car-related cremation arrangements. On March 24, 2007, their radio broadcast
began with the rendering of advice on advance funeral arrangements, from their specialized Estate Planning Department.

On-the-air they answered a written inquiry by Sanjay Shah, of Venice, California. See: Something Sanjay in the Air:

On this week's Car Talk, Tom and Ray open things up with a macabre question from a Hindu car enthusiast with a flair for afterlife planning.

    End of the Road?

    Hey guys,

    I have a macabre question. I'm both Hindu and a car enthusiast. Hindus customarily get cremated when we die.

    I'm putting together my will and would like to require my ashes to be deposited into the gas tank of my favorite car. Then, I want the car driven down my favorite river road in California. This is how I want my ashes poetically spread.

    My question is: Will this also poetically destroy the car? If so, I need to make sure the car is then driven directly to a Pick-N-Pull.

    Thanks guys.

After first suggesting that the car could be cremated too, the Car Guys confirmed that there would, indeed, be serious problems with such a special additive to gasoline.

Ashes in gas likely would clog the fuel filter first. Those ashes not trapped by the filter then would likely plug up the fuel injectors. The cremation car would sputter to a dead stop.

So, yes, a tow truck would be necessary if a long drive towards eternity would be contemplated.

But Ray offered a viable, creative alternative for Sanjay's advance funeral directions.

Instead, he suggested, the ashes could be placed into an open urn placed on the back seat of the car (with the rear windows open), or affixed
somehow to the outside of the car.

Then, when the car would be driven on the "river road", the rushing wind would "suck the ashes out" to
be "better distributed" over the entire countryside.

Brother Tom disputed that this method would
not carry out Sanjay's original wishes. Ray responded by saying that he didn't write the original letter with that request. He was trying to suggest something that would work.

You can hear the Tappet Brothers play taps to cremation ashes as a fuel additive
here, using Internet Explorer and RealPlayer on a multi-media computer: Segment One: Show Open: Ashes To Air Filter: Sanjay's Last Wish.

* * *

"Don't drive like my brother."

-- Tom Mazliozzi

"And don't drive like my brother."

-- Ray Mazliozzi

* * *

Update: 03/27/07:

Attorney Charles R. Goerth, of Exton, PA, commented & expanded on my posting, by way of his personal law blog, on March 26, 2007. See: "How best to dispose of your mortal remains".

Update: 03/31/07:

Attorney Sam Hasler, who writes the Indiana Civil & Business Lawyer blog, noted this posting in his entry "Final Resting Place a Gas Tank?", dated March 30, 2007.