How-To: The Loopy Logistician’s Leatherman Haircut

One cool evening in Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo, a colleague asked me to cut her hair. I was flattered that someone had seen in me the same natural artistic ability I had long seen in myself but which I failed to make noticed by those around me; at the same time, I must admit to feeling confused at the request, having never cut anyone’s hair in my life (unless you count shaving my own head, or snipping off locks of my at-the-time toddler sister’s hair, after we got chewing gum stuck in it).

Being a logistician, when in the field my Leatherman multi-tool is never far from reach. Scissors, on the other hand, were at least ten meters away (this is equivalent to about six seconds at my average walking speed, recorded on several occasions as 6 km/h). The mathematics of convenience (aka laziness) clearly dictate that the Leatherman was the correct choice to cut my colleague’s curls. Of the many options available to me, I chose to use the serrated saw blade, having as logic the basic idea that cutting a loaf of bread is far easier with a serrated bread knife than with a non-serrated meat knife. Whether hair is more similar in nature to bread or a roast was a question that only occurred to me later on.

Rock Your Hair

Instructions: For the simplest and fastest Leatherman haircut, get your client’s hair in a ponytail, and ask him or her to hold around the base of the ponytail. You grab hold of the other end of the ponytail of hair with your non-Leatherman hand. While maintaining the ponytail fairly taut by pulling it away from your client’s head, begin sawing back and forth at a quick pace, without applying any downward pressure; the saw will carry itself downward as it cuts through. When finished, dispose of the newly shed locks or pass them on to someone in need.

Preparing for the Leatherman haircut
Cutting hair with a Leatherman saw

It worked!

Leatherman haircut complete

Not only did I manage, in less than ten seconds, to cut my colleague’s hair, but we were able to provide a hair piece for another colleague who, like me, no longer has a full head of his own hair.

Finding new use for the waste resulting from a Leatherman haircut

Stay tuned for the next Loopy Logistician’s Leatherman how-to: the Loopy Logistician’s Leatherman Martini!

The Leatherman saw used to cut hair

The Santa Beard

On Christmas Day 2011, Santa Claus sat in my parents’ home eating a small piece of the last remaining bit of their wedding cake from 31 years ago. The cake tasted exactly like the hallway of an apartment building that hasn’t had its carpets changed or cleaned since the days when you could smoke inside.

Santa eats 31-year-old wedding cake

Aside from the question of why anyone would voluntarily eat such a thing, you’re probably asking yourself why Santa was in my parents’ home. Let me try to explain:

On June 8th I left Canada, relatively clean-shaven. On June 18th I shaved again in Germany, then flew to Côte d’Ivoire the next day to work for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). A month later I decided to shave my head, but keep the facial hair. A month after that, I did the same.

At that point, seeing my beard and moustache in the mirror each morning, I had to laugh at how ridiculous I looked. Also, I had to come up with a legitimate excuse to keep this farcical facial hair. The first thing that popped into my head: a Santa Claus beard. So, every month thereafter I shaved my head but not my facial hair. From mid-October to the end of my contract in late December, I didn’t even both shaving my head anymore. I think many of my colleagues didn’t believe me when I told them about this Santa beard thing. With 6 months’ worth of facial hair, I think some of them were really starting to worry about me.

6 months of facial hair

On December 23rd I landed in Vancouver. By 4pm the next day I was sitting in a comfy chair at Studio D Hair Salon in Vancouver.

Studio D Hair Salon, Vancouver

Donna went to work on my beard, first bleaching it twice to get it to turn blonde:

Bleaching my beard at Studio D Hair Salon
Bleached beard

After the two rounds of bleaching, it was time to shampoo the crap out of it, then putting purple toner in to remove the remaining bits of yellow and turn it as white as possible. Given that my beard was seriously dark brown, it was really impressive to see it change!

Donna brushing the purple toner in

Once the toner was in, it was time to let Donna enjoy Christmas Eve, so I said goodbye and went home to let the toner sink in a bit longer:

Donna at Studio D Hair Salon, Vancouver

When I got home, I shaved my head and washed the purple toner out, leaving me with a relatively white Santa beard with which to scare the next generation of my extended family at our family party on Boxing Day.

End result: Santa Chris

Of course, some members of the next generation saw past the beard (maybe the eyebrow piercings gave me away?) and knew I wasn’t Santa. That didn’t stop them from yanking on the beard, insisting it wasn’t real (or, in the case of one of them, insisting that while the beard was real, I had not grown it myself).

Smart enough to see past the beard

[Hair – Not the Musical] + [Ping Pong]

When I left Thailand for my trip to Burma, I decided it would be fun to find out what would happen if I didn’t shave the entire time. I stopped shaving about ten days before leaving Thailand, and only cleaned up my act on February 27th, the day after landing in Sweden.

Rock Your Hair

Just for fun, you can see what I looked like on February 26th in London, on the 27th partway through cutting my own hair, and several hours later when I had spent enough time making my flatmates laugh and finished the job:

I lived in this apartment in the Luthagens area of Uppsala for several months in 2008, and only found out during my second stay there in the fall of 2008 that there was a ping pong table in a common room elsewhere in the building. At that time, when I went with my flatmate Olov to play, we found they had converted the ping pong room into some kind of chapel.

Luckily, they changed it back to a ping pong room by the time I returned at the end of February, 2009. During my short (one month) stay this time, I made good use of the table.

One of my flatmates, Olov:


Olov’s friend, Martin:

My friend Namiko, who studied with me in New Zealand and came to visit for a few days:

My friend Opiyo, who studied with me in Uppsala a year before, visited me for a few hours after returning from a stint in Afghanistan:

I also took a few photos outside my apartment building, which I’ll post in a couple of days.

Mosquitoes and Hair

Every day in Cameroon I try to remember to take my drug cocktail. Multi-vitamin pill to make up for a diet that’s not very well-rounded, calcium pills because I can’t drink my daily litre of milk here, glucosamine sulphate pills to help rebuild the cartilage in my left knee, and a doxycycline every day to prevent malaria (as a general antibiotic, it also lessens my chances of getting stomach bugs and stuff).

As always, while in Cameroon I told myself and have told my friends here that I will not get sick. There is only one thing I considered to be a potential problem: malaria. The reason for this is that I tend to get more mosquito bites than the average person whenever there are bugs looking to bite. Let’s look at the photographic evidence on my two legs below the knee, from 2-3 days of working on the construction site:

It may not be possible to see every single bite in these photos but, as you can see, I counted them with my pen. I’ve seen people with more (a Canadian acquaintance who I randomly bumped into on the street in Auckland looked like he had measles but had just arrived from Fiji where the mozzies got him a few hundred times, and a Canadian volunteering here with the hospital got a couple hundred bites from a few nights in a village nearby), but it still wasn’t pleasant having 24 bites on one leg and 17 on the other. I had about 20 more on my arms, one on my ear, and one on my eyelid, which was really weird.

Working on the construction site meant sweating a lot, so Bran, a Welsh volunteer, convinced me to shave my head to save the hassle of getting cement dust out of my hair (I did a lot of chiseling) and always having sweaty hair stuck to my forehead. Victor, a volunteer from Nigeria who lives in my house, has an electric razor so he volunteered to help us out for free rather than going to a barber.

Bran before:

Bran during:

Bran after:

Me before:

Me during:

Rock Your Hair

Me after:

A few days later we took another trip to the beach to relax.

We played around with the volleyball a bit, and I was careful not to bust my knee again. Someone even managed to catch me on my own camera as the playground bully, spiking the volleyball right at Evelyn’s head! Although it wasn’t on purpose, it sure looks like it! She was fine, though, really :-)