The Good NEW Days: We’re on AllTop!

The email last night that put me into respiratory arrest began,

Your site has been added to

If you’re not familiar with AllTop, it was launched last year by Guy Kawasaki; it aggregates scores of  RSS feeds on one single topic into a clean, easy page, grouped by site and displaying the 5 most current headlines for each site. Your site gets reviewed before it is included, and upon inclusion gets aggregated onto this “digital magazine rack.” This spares readers of having to fiddle with RSS feeds, while still getting fresh updates on their topic of choice.

So how did I land myself in such esteemed company? Not by myself! I definitely had some help! This is where “The Good New Days” part comes in.

Have you ever caught yourself disillusioned and thinking, whatever happened to the “good old days,” when community meant something? When neighbors helped neighbors? When both strangers and friends extended a helping hand, with no expectation of anything, without being asked, and gratitude as their only reward?

The answer is, nothing happened to it. Here in the ‘Net community, it was those very gestures that landed Thirsty in Suburbia on AllTop. Thanks, Thanks, Thanks, Dr. Michael “Aquadoc” Campana of WaterWired, The Institute for Water and Watersheds, American Water Resources Assocation (AWRA), and a host of other places where super-smart water people gather. Although we’ve never met, he was a “neighbor” who repeatedly helped me with no expectation of benefit to himself. It is people like him that make these the Good NEW Days and the ‘Net a place where community still means something. And I am so very grateful.

Now, regular readers of WaterWired know that A-Doc closes his posts with a quote. So in his honor, I impart some words of wisdom for him:

“Watch out who you’re hanging around with! Don’t you know you’re judged by the company you keep?” –Anonymous

Post-Festival Fate of the Metheun Tree

Sometimes I’d just stare and think…I wonder what’s become of her? Just a couple months ago we wrote about plastic bottle holiday trees, including this recyclarific example from the 2008 Methuen (Massachussetts) annual Festival of Trees. And now that the holidays are over, we sadly assumed she had been shredded to bits and cruelly bundled in a recycling center or worse, buried alive in a dank, smelly landfill.

So imagine my excitement to see her again while browsing Flickr, under the heading I WON THIS AT THE METHUEN FESTIVAL OF TREES.

This must be this the same tree, I think, but she sure looks different in the morning without her lights! So I send a message to the owner to inquire about her fate… “I’m curious… what happens to it now?”

The happy response: “We have decided to move it to our pool area and keep it as a conversation piece.”  She always loved being by the water, and now she’s a bathing beauty. And possibly headed for another adventure as a emergency rescue flotation device. Ah, life’s funny.

Headline Let-Down: Aussie Metered Toilets?!

You know the feeling, you see a tantalizing headline and bolt upright in your chair; like today, when “Doomsday Jim” (this blog’s eyes and ears “down-under”) sends a link to this:


Wow! I read further on  

Householders would be charged for each flush under a radical new toilet tax designed to help beat the drought.

This is groundbreaking! Naturally, I am envisioning something like this:

Let’s read more! How shall they implement and administrate this exciting innovation?

The reform would see the abolition of the property-based charge with one based on a pay-as-you-go rate and a small fixed annual fee to cover the cost of meter readings and pipeline maintenance…As nearly all of (the homes in) mainland Australia’s cities and towns already have water meters, introduction of a volumetric charge, such as that used in the City of Bellaire, would not be difficult to implement.

Oh. Charges based on volume. Just like they do it my suburb. I’ve shared my belief over the years that the headline and lead-in should be 5% of the word count but 95% of the labor. This is yet more proof of the truth.

Unnecessary footnote: Photo is a faked-up photoshop job by the author. To my knowledge no such metered toilet exists.

Go Gross: Winning Hearts & Minds with Yuck Appeal

One sixth of the world, no access to clean water. 2 million people, dead of waterborne diseases. Every year. Year after year.

Blah blah. Why doesn’t everyone get it? Why are relatively few taking action? Well, we marketing-types live and die by a basic tenet: make your message relevant to the audience, their lives, their world, or risk being ignored. So, Western-worlders, we’ll help you relate better by viscerally putting skanky water into your world! This one, from Wordvision, had me running through the house, slightly nauseated, yelling “WHERE IS MY CHECKBOOK, I NEED IT NOW!” Now that’s persuasive marketing. From,

In our world we have easy access to toilets. Supposed we take those toilets out of your world? Say, in your favorite 4-star? You can almost smell this spot, and I don’t mean the food. From,

Earlier this month, Bill Gates released a container of mosquitoes at the elite TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference to make his point about disease and malaria. Now that’s relevancy to audience! “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around,” he told the big-shot gathering. “There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” (He waited several minutes before assuring everyone the roaming insects were malaria-free.)

Disaster Dignity: Water Emergency Week Day 5

Have you considered that in an emergency, your bath water might “save you from great embarassment?” Kobe, Japan’s website shares real-life experiences of citizens who were victims of the devastating Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake to encourage people to start thinking about disaster contingency plans. Here, Nada Ward, age 24, writes…

On the day of the earthquake, my husband was on a business trip and there were just two of us, myself and my child. I was so terrified by the seemingly never-ending after-shocks that we went to take shelter in our next-door neighbor’s house. Because I was under such stress, I had an upset stomach and went to use the toilet. There, something happened that I had never dreamed of. I could not flush the toilet. I did not know what to do. My neighbor’s wife brought me a bucketful of water from the bathtub.

In their household, they always used to leave their bath water in the tub undrained so that they could use it for washing or in case there was a fire. I was saved from great embarrassment because of this.

The 1995 Kobe quake left nearly one million homes without water and power. Electricity was completely restored in a week but it took over two months to fully restore drinking water. So there, shower-loving Americans, take a bath instead and don’t pull that plug just yet. Especially you folks near the fault lines.

h2o mp3: When Water Comes to Life – Cloud Cult

A sweeping, vaguely cinematic alt tune that’s hard to classify but oddly hypnotic, from a band who’ve earned their “green” stripes. Lyrics:

And when they burn your body, all thats left is sand crystals, two tiny handfuls, all the rest is water, water, water; All you need to know is you were born of water, you are made of water, you are living water, water, water

Play the track

Download When Water Comes to Life – Cloud Cult
Low-fi 64 kbps Mp3 file for sampling.
Like it? Support the people who make music. Buy this track at iTunes or

In the Future, Business Leaders will be Closely Supervised

I rarely read or write fiction. Why bother, when the real world produces rich stories like this, my nomination for best punch line in a news story in 2009. From News 10 in Rochester, New York,

It was a school fundraiser that some parents say went to the extreme. Drinking fountains at Canandaigua Academy were turned off during a school dance and students were told they had to pay for bottled water.

About 300 students attended that dance on Saturday. It was sponsored by a school club, the Future Business Leaders of America. The district says they were selling tickets to the dance and water to raise money for club activities.

The group asked for and received permission through a building use request form to shut off the two water fountains where the dance was being held. Once they were turned off, signs were posted on them directing students to a table where the club was selling bottled water for one dollar each.

The rest of the story is here, proving we still need much education on the evils of bottled water AND ethics.