Kicking the Bucket and Buying the Farm

I recently saw an article citing the origins of some of the most common phrases we all use. It got me wondering about the origins of some of the euphemisms we use surrounding death. Although a little gruesome one could argue they aren’t as graphic as most nursery rhymes. I found several phrases at and and picked two to highlight.

The phrase “kick the bucket” can be traced back to 1785 in reference to dying. The connection may have been in relation to hangings when the bucket that the victim (or criminal) was standing on was kicked out from beneath them. In addition, the wooden frame used to hang animals in England as early as the 1500’s was also called a bucket. It was not unusual for an animal to kick the bucket during slaughter.

The phrase “bought the farm” may have numerous origins as well. A 20th century phrase, it refers mostly to people who die in an accident or military action. In reference to a military plane crashing, the term bought the farm was coined as the owner of the farm could sue the government for compensation, usually enough to pay off the mortgage. Thus, the pilot bought the farm with his life being paid as the price. It was also used by servicemen killed in action whose family received a payout from insurance, again, usually enough to pay off the farm, or the mortgage.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Alex Trebek won’t be asking these questions on Jeopardy anytime soon, but it’s still fun to know.

Die Hard Soccer Fans

What separates a soccer fan from a die-hard soccer fan? A grave location. The German fans of the Bundesliga Club in Hamburg, Germany can be buried within ear shot of the stadium they loved. With room for up to 500 graves, they are arranged in a semi-circle on three ascending terraces to resemble a stadium. How did they come up with this idea? Why, at the request of the fans. They kept inquiring about having their cremated remains scattered in the stadium after death, and even asking if they could be buried in caskets on the field behind the goals. And what does the entrance look like? It’s a concrete replica of a soccer goal, of course.

Here’s the 5 minute video of the story:

Note that the German funeral home displays caskets in their front window. I’ve never heard of window shopping for a casket before!

Presidential Funeral Trivia - On Abraham Lincoln's 200th Birthday

In Celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Birthday this month, and President’s Day, Here are some little know presidential funeral facts:

  • Andrew Jackson’s parrot had to be removed from his funeral because it kept swearing!
  • The only two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th Birthday of our country.
  • Abraham Lincoln gave the eulogy at President Zachary Taylor’s funeral.
  • William Taft’s funeral was the first to be broadcast on the radio.
  • Andrew Johnson requested to be buried wrapped in an American Flag with a copy of the US Constitution under his head.
  • The only two presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery are JFK, and William Taft.
  • Dwight Eisenhower was buried in his uniform in an Army casket.
  • Dying on April 15, 1865 Abraham Lincoln was not permanently buried until September 26, 1901. To end potential attempts to steal the body, his coffin was placed in a cage 10 feet deep encased in 4,000 pounds of concrete. His beloved son Willie is buried with him.

Cyber Monday

You’ve probably heard of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when “crazy” people get up at 4am to get a good deal on a present, (the rest of us are in a “Turkey Coma” at 4am the day after Thanksgiving). So, Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving when people go back to work and shop for the great on-line deals.

There’s even a website dedicated to helping you plan out where you’ll shop on Monday, It gives the scoop on the deals of over 500 companies and what their on-line deals will be on Cyber Monday.

One of the companies listed,, believe it or not is selling caskets with free shipping on Cyber Monday. We really need to take the phrase, “Now I’ve heard it all” out of our vocabularies. If Costco can sell caskets I guess can too, but here’s some things you should know. Two of the caskets are rated with 5 stars, I find that hilarious, obviously the occupant didn’t rate it… or did he? Here’s the actual text from one of the five star rating reviews, “This is a nice casket very plush and it does not feel cramped inside, lots of leg room. I highly recommended this product.” It takes 2 days from the date of order to deliver the casket, but they don’t deliver on Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays. And here’s the interesting part, caskets aren’t exempt from their return policy. I looked high and low on the site, read the fine print of what you can and can’t return, I went as far as “add to my basket”, but can’t find anything that says you can’t return a casket. You can’t return underwear to but you can return a casket. Does anyone else find that odd? Gross? Wrong? Pick an adjective.

So have fun shopping at work on Monday, and visit and even, just be sure to read the return policy on everything you buy, and make certain there is one.

The Olympic Spirit

As a person who normally goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 pm, the Olympic schedule is taking its toll on my sleeping patterns. Every morning I walk the halls of the college needing toothpicks in my eyes as I look for my co-workers who are as big of fans of the Olympics as I am. I usually start the conversation with, “Did you see……last night?” Part of me hopes that they did so we can revel in the memory together, and the other part hopes they didn’t so I can describe in second by second details how exciting it was to watch history being made. One of things I really enjoy about the Olympics is the athlete profile stories that are shown just a few minutes before the competition begins. It’s amazing how many of them mention a loved one who has died in their list of inspirations.

The announcers are still reciting their recollection of Misty may-Treanor, beach volleyball sensation, scattering her mother’s cremated remains in the sand court in Athens four years ago. The rumor is she has scattered another vile in the sand in China. I guess that’s one way to see the world, albeit you don’t know it and aren’t enjoying it.

Then there’s the amazing story of Track & Field athlete Lopez Lomong. He escaped death in Sudan as a child, but his parents thought he had died even though they never found a body. They erected a grave site where they could go to mourn him, only to find out years later that he had survived.

And other headlines read , “US Team Plays for Grieving Coach” , “Hungarian Canoeing Champion Dies at 36” , and Hope Solo, Olympic Soccer player talks about her father’s death and how she never really dealt with it.

It’s amazing how the living seek the approval of the dead. Just because a loved one is lost it doesn’t mean that they lose their hero status with us, we still wonder if they know what is happening in our lives, and if are they proud. I’m reminded of the movie “The Sixth Sense” near the end where the mother knows her little boy sees dead people. He tells her, “Grandma told me the answer to your question is, “Every day.” He said, “What did you want to know, Mom?” Crying and barely able to speak she said, “Is she proud of me?”

Tips on Saving Gas -- And Your Gas Money

Here in Denver, we are paying over $4 a gallon now, so I thought I would share a few tips of saving gas that were recently forwarded to me. I know a lot of you are paying even more. And while this may be off-topic for this blog, it’s a situation that is affecting us all -- metaphorically, we’re all dying at the pump these days...

I have heard a lot of these before but never knew the reasons behind them. I adapted this list from an unnamed worker for Kinder Morgan Pipeline in San Jose, CA.

• Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold.
Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the
temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.

A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

• When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see
that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.

• One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves a zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.

• Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up--most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

• Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
‣ Sunoco
‣ Conoco
‣ Sinclair
‣ BP/Phillips
‣ Hess

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy as each is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.

Some Interesting Facts About Arlington National Cemetery

We’ve been reviewing a series of brochures that are provided by the government on end of life issues. As Memorial Day has just passed it is timely to review the requirements to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

First here are some interesting facts about Arlington:

• Almost 4 million people visit annually.

• It is not the largest National Cemetery, just the most famous. (The largest is Calverton in NY.)

• There are more than 290,000 veterans and their dependents buried on 624 acres of land.

• There are veterans buried at Arlington representing every war the United States has fought.

• The other 129 National Cemeteries are run by the Department of Veterans Affairs; Arlington however is administered by the Department of the Army.

• At the current rate of approximately 27 funerals daily, M-F, the cemetery should be able to accommodate ground burials up to the year 2060.

So, who can be buried at Arlington?

• Any active duty member of the Armed Forces (except those members serving on active duty for training only).

• Any veteran who is retired from active military service with the Armed Forces.

• Any veteran who is retired from the Reserves is eligible upon reaching age 60 and drawing retired pay; and who served a period of active duty (other than for training).

• Any former member of the Armed Forces separated honorably prior to October 1, 1949 for medical reasons and who was rated at 30% or greater disabled effective on the day of discharge.

• Any former member of the Armed Forces who has been awarded one of the following decorations:
‣ Medal of Honor
‣ Distinguished Service Cross (Navy Cross or Air Force Cross)
‣ Distinguished Service Medal
‣ Silver Star
‣ Purple Heart

• The President of the United States or any former President of the United States.

Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and who held any of the following positions:

‣ An elective office of the U.S. Government

‣ Office of the Chief Justice of the United States or of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

‣ An office listed, at the time the person held the position, in 5 USC 5312 or 5313 (Levels I and II of the Executive Schedule).

‣ The chief of a mission who was at any time during his/her tenure classified in Class I under the provisions of Section 411, Act of 13 August 1946, 60 Stat. 1002, as amended (22 USC 866) or as listed in State Department memorandum dated March 21, 1988.

• Any former prisoner of war who, while a prisoner of war, served honorably in the active military, naval, or air service, whose last period of military, naval or air service terminated honorably and who died on or after November 30, 1993.

• The spouse, widow or widower, minor child, or permanently dependent child, and certain unmarried adult children of any of the above eligible veterans.

The widow or widower of:

‣ a member of the Armed Forces who was lost or buried at sea or officially determined to be missing in action.

‣ a member of the Armed Forces who is interred in a US military cemetery overseas that is maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

‣ a member of the Armed Forces who is interred in Arlington National Cemetery as part of a group burial.

• The surviving spouse, minor child, or permanently dependent child of any person already buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

• The parents of a minor child, or permanently dependent child whose remains, based on the eligibility of a parent, are already buried in ANC. A spouse divorced from the primary eligible, or widowed and remarried, is not eligible for interment.

• Provided certain conditions are met, a former member of the Armed Forces may be buried in the same grave with a close relative who is already buried and is the primary eligible.

This brochure is full of helpful information and answers questions I wouldn’t have even thought to ask. It is 30 pages long, and professionally published. However, the same information is available on-line at as well. Just click on “Funeral Information.”

Funerals to Die For

Recently the CBS Early Show aired a three part series titled “Funerals To Die For”. The first part was a fantastic montage of the personalization going on in funeral service. From a Harley Davidson hearse, to the showcase of “Big Mama’s Kitchen”, the funeral industry was painted in a positive light. There was no horror story, or sad events which lead to the series; it was just an informative and enlightening look at the current state of funeral service and all it has to offer its families.

The second portion of the story was almost shocking. If you think Americans are a death denying society, then the South Koreans are 180 degrees opposite. This story highlighted how in South Korean people are staging their own death as a means to appreciate what they have today. Complete with climbing in a casket for a full 15 minutes while their “funeral” takes place, dirt is even thrown on the closed casket!

The third segment aired a story about a man who starred in a film about his own life in part to find out what people thought of him before he died. He had the same concept as the South Koreans, but accomplished it without climbing into a casket while alive!

The most thoughtful part of the series is that it was presented as a way for people to appreciate their lives and all their blessings today. Why wait until you die and let your family look back for you? Take a few moments right now. What would be in your video? Who would you like to see in it? What do you think they would say? What would you say to them?

To watch one or all of the stories above click here

Be patient, you’ll have to sit through a 30 second non-optional commercial on each video before you get to the actual story. But if you have a few minutes, it’s definitely worth your time.