Archive for March, 2006

At a party recently. Happened across a friend with whom the Mister and I sometimes do outdoorsy activities.  “So,” says I, “How’s the wilderness treating you these days?”  He says I should really ask the guy standing next to him, who had just returned from wildnerness survival training.  One of those eco-adventure vacations I guess.  The guy, by way of launching into his story, says, “So, do YOU know how to build an igloo?”


I hesitate for a moment. He isclearly proud of his survival skills, in particular building igloos, and I don’t want to burst his bubble.  I haven’t even thought about igloos for years and years, but how often do I get to say this at parties?  NEVER.  It is probably my only chance. 


“In fact, I do know how to build an igloo.”


It’s one of those quirky things that my Search And Rescue Leader parents taught me back in the day.  I actually haven’t built one for about 20 years but I went through the steps with my dad on the phone and he confirmed that I had it right.   He sometimes still builds igloos for snow camping because they are warmer than tents.


Here’s how, in case you’re wondering.

  1. Pack down snow using your feet and the backside of your tiny backpacking snow shovel.  I think about 10 x 10 feet will do for a one or two person igloo.  The well-packed snow needs to be a couple feet deep so when you cut the bricks out they will be nice and thick.
  2. Pack down a separate area where you will build the igloo.
  3. Use your backpacking snow shovel to cut out squares from the packed snow.  Actually, they should be more like trapezoids– all the sides should angle inward slightly so they will fit together in a gradually smaller circle. 
  4. Put the bricks in a circle.  Then you just keep building upwards in slightly smaller rings until you have built a dome.  If you’ve done it right, the last brick will fit perfectly into the final opening at the top.
  5. dig a little tunnel to get in and out of your igloo.

I guess they have special tools these days just for building igloos– this picture comes from a product review of such a one at





So, there I am at work, waiting for my burrito to heat in the microwave, and the electronic mail scale nearby captures my attention. I ask myself: “How much does my hand weigh?” I put my hand on the scale. the numbers fluctuate so rapidly that I suspect I am putting more pressure on it than just gravity.

I hold my wrist and plop my hand back on the scale. It registers anywhere between .5 lb to 1.5 lb. I let go of my wrist and it goes up past 3 lb. I ask myself: “Am I weighing my whole arm?” But I’d expect my arm to weigh more than three pounds.

Problem: how can I accurately weigh my hand without cutting it off? A question for the ages. for the sages. for the microphages. Maybe not that last group, they just eat bad things and don’t care about my hand one way or the other.

I asked google how much a hand weighs and it came up with many other interesting questions: how much does guilt weigh? how much does the sky weigh? how much does a prayer weigh? How much does a paint job weigh? No answer to the original question.

You Are Animal
A complete lunatic, you’re operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you’re downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
“Kill! Kill!”

I wonder if that came up because i described my appearance as “unkempt”? Which one are you?

Ash cross

Lent started Wednesday. On the count of three, let’s all consider our messy naked births, our impending deaths, the wimpy carbon-based construction of our bodies. The hapless species we belong to: getting some things right by great effort, and others by accident, at our wits end about the rest. How hard we try: let’s put all our big ideas and talents and efforts into this sack over here, and look for a minute at what’s left over. Let’s let Jesus take a look at it too; he will be kind.

This strikes me as a good Lenten song. Neilson Hubbard, from his most recent album Sing Into Me. Here’s his website:

And here’s the song, which should work with Windows Media Player:Nothing Without You

One, Two, Three, Go!

In a way, I don’t mind getting gray hair. It’s like naturally produced glitter, and I enjoy thinking of myself wandering the highways and byways with a head of hair that will give you a flash or sparkle when you least expect it.

I am, however, deeply perturbed (can one be deeply perturbed? Or is perturbation by nature a rather mild experience?) by the tensile strength of those wiry buggers. It doesn’t matter how many other hairs are trying to weigh it down, if it is newly growing in or freshly broken off, it will find a way to jut straight out, sometimes as much as 2.5 inches in the air.

Its very nature makes me want to destroy it. It stands tall, proud, a little less than straight because even in straightness it will not conform, like an artist or revolutionary in a totalitarian regime, rising from the masses and shining alone in the light of truth. Like any regime, my response is immediate and uncompromising: the hair must be mown down! Plucked from among its brethren and sent somewhere where it will never be remembered! Down with upstarts! Let the sorry fate of this hair be an example to the rest.

You can be a little unusual, I tell my hair after crushing such a strand into a bent snarl and flushing it down the toilet in full view every remaining strand. Be any color you like, be a little shorter or longer than your neighbors, convert to Veganism. It’s all the same to me, I say. But beware– should you stand up from amongst them, should you try to assert your own will in a way that makes me notice– you, too, shall be destroyed, and in an even more gory, public way than the last one was! Let this be a lesson to every hair among you.

What our President’s hair would look like if he did not do likewise with his own unrulies (I rest my case):
Gray Hair