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Web channels messages from beyond the grave

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Todd Michael Krim got on a London-bound plane in Los Angeles in March 1999, perhaps in a mild stew over how he was possibly the only young Californian in his cul-de-sac who was not yet a dot.com millionaire, and found destiny.

Or at least turbulence.

Greater than average turbulence, is the way he described it. To an avowed nervous flier, greater than average turbulence suggests one thing and one thing only: unspeakably violent death, comin' right up.

"As anxious thoughts of my possible impending death raced through my mind," he would later write (as opposed to those soothing thoughts of one's possible impending death), "I began to think about my family and friends whom I may never again have a chance to share my personal thoughts and feelings with. I also thought of my dog, Jini, and realized that I never made arrangements for someone to adopt her."

And that wasn't all. As Krim's aircraft pinballed through the atmosphere 7 miles above the Atlantic, he began to realize just how darned inconvenient sudden death can really be. Sudden death is, like, so rude. Not only had he never discussed his funeral preferences with his family (flowers or donations, etc.), but what about those long-lost friends who might not learn of his watery end for months, even years?

Why, it was just so intolerable. Death had to be put in its place.

So that's why we've got finalthoughts.com, Todd Michael Krim, president and CEO, the Web site where you can make sure even long-lost friends will learn of your passing while it still packs all of its emotional wallop, where you can actually list the folks you'd like to be your pallbearers (Let's see -- Sylvester Stallone, George W. Bush, Montreal Expos bullpen hammer Ugeth Urbina and The Three Tenors), and where you can tell your mother where you left the Arby's coupons.

In fact, after inspecting this Web site and seeing how orderly, reasoned and thorough the Internet has made the emotional and practical details of unexpected death, I have to say I feel much like Alice Kramden when Ralph told her that if he were elected grand high exalted mystic ruler at the Raccoon Lodge, both of them would be entitled to burial at the Raccoon National Cemetery in Bismarck, N.D.

"Well, now that I know that," she said, "I don't know whether I want to live . . . or die."

Not only can finalthoughts.com arrange it so that you can e-mail people from the grave (you choose a "guardian" who knows your password and sends out your messages after you're dead), you can now spend the rest of your life free from angina-triggering thoughts like, "Just once before I DIE, I'd like to tell that STUPID WITCH up the street that I hope her DAMN DOG SWALLOWS AN ICE PICK!"

All in due time, now. You can e-mail that from the grave. Think of the arrangements you can make.

"Fred, I'm dead. Don't know how it happened, obviously, but I was hoping for one last favor. I probably got drunk, fell down the steps and put my head through the wall or something, but could you arrange my corpse so that it looks as though I was strangled during rough sex? Take me to Nicole Kidman's house maybe? Thanks Fred, you're the best."

With privacy ensured by finalthoughts.com, we can only hope that no one takes advantage of the site's alleged state-of-the-art security measures. Hope no one's out there now tapping away at something like, "Dear Myron, I'm sorry to say that I no longer found life worth living once I couldn't complain incessantly about Lynn Swann not being in the Hall of Fame. I thought I could it handle it, Myron, but when Maz got his ticket punched for Cooperstown and I realized that I can't even bitch about that anymore either, well, it was too much.

"P.S. You think Jack Lambert would be one o' my pallbearers?"

You can apparently register as a member at finalthoughts.com for the popular price of $29.95, and that right there is a strong indicator that this service is the equal of anything pitched on late-night TV, where just about everything that isn't $2.95 a minute is $29.95. What's more, there is no limit to the number of people you can e-mail from the dead, so you can look forward to being far more productive and candid from the grave than you ever were from the office.

"Dear Dubya, Good news; I'm dead. No more cheap shots."

Gene Collier's e-mail address is gcollier@post-gazette.com

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