Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lincoln 1865

The day raced past before I could get organized enough to write a post, but I wanted to write about Mr. Lincoln. It was 143 years ago in the theater box shown here that Booth struck out one of the lights of American history.

I learned the usual school-kid history and it really turned me off to anything historical. Time passed and I've developed a revived interest in the past. It started with Angel in the Whirlwind, a book I recommend to those interested in the American Revolution. It gave a realistic picture of George Washington in context - so much more interesting than the drivel fed to our schoolchildren. A few years living in metropolitan Boston, and my interests advanced to the American Civil War.

I find so few people understand that war - it is so easy to get lost in the distraction of state's rights and completely fail to see the real reason for the war. Even Lincoln took a while to come to grips with it, but in his wavering he gives us such deep insight and reveals the truth. All men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Every time a commentator talks about "original intent" as a valid interpretation of the Constitution, I remember Lincoln. It was a rail-splitter from Kentucky and Illinois who showed us that we must not be satisfied with the insights and limitations of the founding fathers, but each generation must add its own brilliance to enhance the luster of the gift they gave us.

The Constitution is one of the great documents of history, but it is only a diamond in the rough. It is an on-going challenge to us to develop and improve the spirit and intellectual quality of the original document lest it become a quaint and curious aged bauble. If the party of Lincoln is to be a true party of conservatives, they must rediscover the struggle to preserve and defend the Constitution, they must watch over it and guide it to new greatness instead of smothering it in uncertainty and blather. To lock one's self to some concept of original intent is to regress to the antebellum mindset.

Lincoln sacrificed his life for the rights of others. Let us hope we are sufficiently strong to continue to fight for the rights of all men and women.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Dome Sweet Dome

We live in the shadow of mounains - when the sun is low in the sky and the clouds are missing, anyway. To our east is the Cascade Range through which cuts Stevens Pass. Because we don't have enough to do, someone invented skiing and put a ski resort in Stevens Pass. It's nice, but not crazy enough, so we go snowshoe hiking there. Lovely, hilly, with great views. It's nice, but not crazy enough, so I took a class in January and built an igloo in March. I would have built the igloo in February, but there was so much snow in the mountains that avalanches closed the pass and I couldn't get there. Building an igloo is nice, but not crazy enough, so I slept in the igloo with my co-builders.

We had a great time building the igloo and camping out there in the wild. We were fortunate that it was cold that night - I'm guessing around 20F or -7C for a low temperature - and that our igloo didn't drip.

There's a secret hidden in the picture. If you look closely at the photograph, I'm looking at a particularly bright spot, a hole in our igloo. For a number of reasons - just assume that they are good reasons and not merely poor construction techniques - we accidentally left a small hole near the top of our dome. Under normal conditions, an igloo dome should be intact so as to contain as much heat as possible. It's supposed to be warmer inside the igloo than outside. However, as we had three full-grown adult men in this igloo, there was plenty of excess heat. As a result of our little hole, we had a constant draft all night. I believe this kept our igloo from overheating and drip-drip-dripping on us all night. (Note to experienced igloo builders - another of our construction, uh, innovations was to forget to smooth the inside of the dome to eliminate drip points.) It was cold, but we wrapped up tightly. The other benefit of the hole was to help release the pressure of the combined snoring of three full-grown adult males and I think this helped protect eardrums. (There's no physics or medicine behind that statement, just a personal awareness of the power of the adult trachea.)

The blue is a little exaggerated. I used the "snow/beach" setting on the camera to adjust the exposure. The texture of the blocks is really there, and there's a distinct blue glow inside the igloo, but it's not quite what you see here.

Photo taken about 7:30am at about 4000 feet near Stevens Pass, Washington, in mid-March, 2008.