The O List


Jan 10, 2001
Outside Magazine

Thing  Hard-to-find Map  Way To Go (4,3,2,1 resurrection now)  Answer to Everything (duct tape)  Airlines
My Favorite Thing
By Jack Handey

It's not that much to look at. The nubs are completely worn off in some spots; the wooden prongs are swollen and warped, and the springs are so loose they can barely pull the magnets apart. And yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Every time I slip it out of its flannel tote bag, oil it up, and fasten down the straps, I feel like a king.
Like many of the best things, it's old. And rare—only a few thousand were ever made. Most of them, of course, went down with the Titanic. A few were mistakenly turned into bird feeders. And the rest have been avidly sought by museums, collectors, and "sportsmen."

I found mine many years ago in a run-down little shop in Asbestos, Colorado. The white-haired proprietor was bent over a table repairing it, and even with the rubber tubing, French grommets, and other parts scattered all over, I knew I had to have it. The old man sensed the light in my eyes and told me to come back in a week. I came back in two weeks, because, I don't know, I was busy or something, and paid the then princely sum of $58,000, plus my watch.

Since then, the shop has been bulldozed down, the old man has died (from a bulldozer), and Asbestos, Colorado, has changed its name to Aspen. But I still have my prize.

People ask me if it still works. That's like asking a Canadian if he likes puppets. It works like a dream, and not the kind where you wake up screaming.

Nowadays you can buy a modern, mass-produced version. And I admit, they're stronger, lighter, and much, much easier to turn off. But there's something about the originals that makes you want to hang on to them, at least until somebody makes you an offer of no less than $45,000.
Jack Handey is a former Saturday Night Live writer. His latest book is The Lost Deep Thoughts (Hyperion).
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Need a map of the trail system in Torres del Paine National Park? MapLink's got it. A topo map of the Okavango Delta? No sweat. With more than 100,000 titles, including domestic, international, and the complete USGS topographic series, this map importer, distributor, and wholesaler is the place to turn for tough-to-track-down maps and atlases. Fast, friendly service, too.
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. . . 4, 3, 2, 1 Resurrection Now!
By Mary Roach

The adventurous spirit does not go gently into a spunbronze memorial urn; he longs to be scattered on the winds, the farther and higher the better. The desire to find the best way to go seems to predate both the airplane and the crematory furnace. According to City of the Silent, a Web site dedicated to mortuary culture and cemetery history, inventor James O'Kelley devised a small rocket in 1901 called the Navohi that, powered by the gases of the decomposing corpse, shot the remains into the sky where they "would disintegrate into the atmosphere."

Modern-day altitude records are held by The Eternal Ascent Society of Crystal River, Florida, which, for $595, will fill an oversize balloon with helium and your cremated remains, and let it go, whereupon it will rise five miles, freeze, expand, and shatter, dispatching you "into the jet stream, into heavens all over the world." If they can steer clear of international airports, there is nothing to keep your loved ones from buying their own oversize helium balloons and doing it themselves—provided they request an extra-fine grinding of your earthly leftovers, lest, as one cremation professional put it, "a toe joint comes down on somebody's picnic."

More earthbound types will want to check into Canuck's Sportsmen's Memorials Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, which will seal your remains into the sporting equipment of your choice: basketball, ice ax, duck decoy, shotgun shells, etc. One woman had her husband sealed into his tackle box and dropped into the water at his favorite fishing spot. Company founder Jay W. Knudsen Sr., refused only one request, that of the widow of a disc jockey. He wouldn't say what she wanted the remains put into, but it's safe to say it wasn't a duck decoy.
Mary Roach wrote about Antarctica in August 2001. She is at work on a book about cadavers.
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The Sticky Fixer Upper
It was Siberia in the summer. Black clouds of mosquitoes darkened the sky. We were pushing our bicycles through a hot stretch of a 700-mile-wide swamp. The bugs became so bad we were forced to don our rainjackets and rainpants. Still, the fierce little devils found their way in. There was only one solution: DUCT TAPE. We taped our jackets to our wrists and our pants to our ankles and carried on—for a month.

Another time, on the Tibetan plateau during a windstorm that lasted a week. Sand was blowing straight through the tent zipper. Grit in our sleeping bags, in our food, in every orifice. The solution: duct tape. Taped right over the tent zippers.

Or deep in the Rockies in the dead of winter when a ski binding broke: Taped the boot directly to the ski. I would no sooner go into the wilderness without duct tape than I would without a knife or a lighter.—Mark Jenkins
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Singapore Airlines

Enjoy the free-flowing champagne, travel socks, and pre-meal hot face towels. Satellite phones and inflight e-mail capability (new this fall) keep you in touch with the earthbound.

Thai Airways International
Asian elegance at 37,000 feet: fresh orchids for the ladies, spicy Thai food, and smiling flight attendants who change outfits several times over the Pacific and urge their passengers to drink plenty of water.

Virgin Atlantic Airways
The hippest lounges in the stratosphere, TVs on the back of every comfy seat, plus goody bags packed with lip balm, aromatherapy potions, and a rubber duckie (for washtime in the loo). Fab accents, too.

Swiss Air
Every meal served is made with organically grown ingredients (even the coffee's PC)—and hey, they're the punctual Swiss!

Ethiopian Airlines
Head and shoulders above any other airline in Africa—brand-new planes, very reasonable fares, excellent maintenance, and an almost spotless safety record.
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