March 31st: The Annual Day of Readiness

Just a few minutes of preparation today and you’ll be tactically ready for a schadenfreude-filled April Fools Days tomorrow! It’s one of my favorite “holidays” especially if the prank involves water. Here are some classic gotchas that almost everyone in the civilized world has heard of, but continues to fall prey to year after year.

I can’t believe my own mother did this to me. More than once. The ice-laden cereal bowl: put some water in a bowl and freeze overnight. Serve up your victim the next morning with their just enough of their favorite cereal and milk to disguise the ice. Works especially well with anyone who’s “not a morning person.”

Leave it to Martha Stewart to file this prank under “good things” with the attendant beautiful photo:
Turn the kitchen sink into a blue lagoon with nontoxic dye pellets, designed to tint children’s bathwater. Unscrew the cap on the faucet, and set a couple of the colored tabs inside before replacing it. When the water is turned on, the burst of color will be short-lived yet shocking.

I’ve been humiliated by the sink-sprayer stunt at least a dozen times in my life. (It would surely be more were it not for modern pull-out faucets.) Just looking at this photo fills me with resentment towards both of my brothers, but not to the point that I can’t enjoy this video!

From comes these instructions for gelatin-laden toilet water, which seems like way too much labor given the simplicity of the plastic wrap varation. (What about gelatinized bottled water… now that sounds promising!)

Select your victim and location wisely. This will make a mess and may irritate certain people. Be careful. Estimate the amount of water in your toilet bowl. Buy gelatin mix. If you estimate your toilet bowl hold 5 cups of water, then buy 5 packs of clear gelatin mix. Boil the appropriate amount of water. If your toilet has 5 cups of water, then boil 5 cups of water. Pour the gelatin mix into the boiling water. If you boiled 5 cups of water, then pour in 5 packets of gelatin mix. Pour the mix into the toilet. Wait a few hours for the mix to solidify. Since the bathroom is not as cold as your fridge, the mix will take longer to harden and will not get as hard as it would in the fridge. Wait for your victim. When attempting to use the toilet as usual, your victim will find the “water” inside has slightly solidified and will then splash back anything that goes in.

And to close, the classic favorite. I love this trick because it’s hard to pull on females but easy with men. That is, the ultimate girl-power April Fools Day tradition. It is practically guaranteed that I will inflict this on my son and that he will fall for it. Again. Just like last year, and the year before that. (Do you think he’ll grow up to resent this?)

Blown Away by Colorado Tap Water

In a previous post, I declared that you’ll never have to call a bomb squad to detonate your tap. Now, it appears that might be false!

Apparently, if you live too close to natural gas your water can become flammable, as happened to a couple in Fort Lupton, Colorado whose home is within a half-mile of eight natural gas wells.

According to this story at,

Jesse and Amee Ellsworth say that one of these wells (no one knows which) has been contaminating their well for six months now, and that they can light their water on fire. Testing done in the basement, bathroom, and near the well has shown explosive levels of the gas. But only recently, they say, did the companies decide to take any action—and only then at the urging of the state’s oil and gas commission.

I just can’t get enough of this video from MSNBC! Just think, in the event of a boil order they’d be sittin’ pretty!

First You Swim and Then You Die

And then you “swim” again. The ironically-named goldfish Lucky has come to his end at a pink-toilet watery grave, but not before receiving a proper eulogy and sendoff from little Maya before the final flush. The off-camera Mom is having a hard time dealing with the death, apparently!

h2o mp3: Portland Water: Michael Hurley

Here’s one just for our friends at the Portland Water Bureau (who we admire for blazing new trails in innovative public information and communications for water utilities!)

Michael Hurley is a singer/guitarist who has been making critically-acclaimed folk for over four decades. Portland Water is from the album Long Journey, released in 1976. (Hurley is reportedly a current resident of Astoria, Oregon.)

The Portland water they swillin’ cold
and it swills my body but not the soul
Oh the call up to Portland on the public telephone
They said it sure is rainin’ here in the state of Oregon

Play the track


Download Portland Water – Michael Hurley
Low-fi 64 kbps Mp3 file for sampling.
Like it? Support the people who make music. Buy this track at iTunes or Amazon

Museum-Quality Water Bottles in Bulgaria

This installation on the facade of the National Gallery of Bulgaria was short-lived but striking. For just over two weeks, from March 7-24, 2009, the display created by the Bulgarian artist Stephan Simov no doubt inspired many double-takes on Battenberg Square. (Since 1946, after the abolition of the monarchy, the National Gallery has occupied the former royal palace of Bulgaria in the capital city of Sofia.)

Thanks, Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr, for sharing these beautiful photos!

Heads in the Cloud: Transboundary Waters Visualized in Total

Duh, why didn’t I think of that? While creating the “word clouds” (original post here) for the World Water Day Synchro-blog on Transboundary Waters, it never occured to me to do one big “mega” cloud. It did though, occur to John Fleck as in a request for ” a single word map of the sum of all the posts.”

Great idea! Following, all nine blog posts in one big cloud. The cloud represents the 100 most prevalent words used in all posts collectively, with their frequency represented by size. FYI, the #1 word “water” appeared 152 times. (If you’d like a closer look, you can download a zoomable pdf here.)

This word cloud includes posts from John Fleck, Kwandongbrian, Chris Brooks, Noah Hall, Ole Nielson, Michael Campana, Daniel Collins, Kim Hannula and Abigail Brown and was created on

Kitchen Culture: The Microbial Kind


Before you blame the public works establishment for your funny-tasting tap water, it might be a good idea to look in the mirror. Or in the kitchen faucet, actually. Maybe you’re at fault, by neglecting to disinfect your faucet aeration screen regularly like responsible folks do!

(What? Well, of course I…OK, I’m lying, I don’t.)

From this story on the kbs radio blog, think about what might be lurking right in your kitchen faucet:

That metal aeration screen at the end of your kitchen faucet reduces water flow, which is good for the environment, but not so much for your health: Running water keeps the screen moist, an ideal condition for bacteria growth. Because tap water is far from sterile, if you accidentally touch the screen with dirty fingers or food, bacteria can grow on the faucet, explains microbiologist Kelly Reynolds, PhD, an associate professor of community environment and policy at the University of Arizona College of Public Health. Over time, bacteria build up and form a wall of pathogens called biofilm that sticks to the screen. ”Eventually, that biofilm may even be big enough to break off and get onto your food or dishes,” she notes.

Now armed with this knowledge, here’s one more thing to add to your bottomless to-do list: (What? Yes, I definitely will. Just as soon as I finish this post, for sure!)

Once a week, remove the screen and soak it in a diluted bleach solution – follow the directions on the label. Replace the screen, and let the water run a few minutes before using.

About the disgusting photo: From the real-life case of ertiepie on flickr, who

“got a new Britta filter for the kitchen faucet. this is what i discovered when i took off the old aerator/filter. yes, all the water we’ve been drinking at the apartment was being filtered through that…no, i won’t be cleaning it any more cuz we got a fancy new Britta on-faucet filter. Our water doesn’t taste all mineral-y or icky anymore, hurray!”

Visualizing Transboundary Waterblogging

When Daniel Collins over at Cr!key Creek suggested that water bloggers get in sync for World Water Day to write on the theme of transboundary waters, I was in an uncomfortable spot – I usually leave the tough topics to the smarter folks in my midst.

In the spirit of diversity in expression, though, I thought I might instead contribute a visual take on the issue. Following are “word clouds” for each of the World Water Day blog posts on transboundary waters. (This is for those of us who have to have a picture drawn for us!) The graphics represent the 100 most prevalent words used in the post, with their frequency represented by size.

I’ll continue to update as more posts become available. Happy World Water Day!

John Fleck (Inkstain) New Mexico, USA

Kwandongbrian from Korea discussing rivers crossing the Korean Peninsula’s DMZ.

Back in AZ, USA, Chris Brooks (Watering the Desert) focuses on the Colorado River, shared by seven US states and Mexico.

Noah Hall of Great Lakes Law lays down the law on management of the North American Great Lakes, from his home in MI, USA.

Ole Nielson from Denmark takes us to the Levant, via his blog Olelog, with a discussion of the Jordan River.

At WaterWried, Michael Campana (OR, US) stressed the importance of groundwater in transboundary water resources.

Daniel Collins at Cr!key Creek (New Zealand) looks for a big picture with the Tragedy of the Commons.

Kim Hannula writes about some realities of living upstream in Colorado, USA, with its world-famous body of water law.

UPDATE, March 23, 2008:

Abigail Brown of Water for the Ages (OR, USA) reviews an online film about the transboundary trials and tribulations of the Nile basin and its 10 riparian nations.

h2o mp3: New World Water: Mos Def

Here’s one for World Water Day on Sunday. The music of hip hop artist Mos Def is often politically charged and socially aware, and certainly earns its “parental advisory” designation. New World Water was recorded in 1999, so that places him well ahead of many of the “opinion leaders” too. (You might have seen the full lyrics recently on Aguanomics, here.)


Tell your crew use the H2 in wise amounts since
it’s the New World Water; and every drop counts
You can laugh and take it as a joke if you wanna
But it don’t rain for four weeks some summers
And it’s about to get real wild in the half
You be buying Evian just to take a fuckin bath

Play the track

Download New World Water – Mos Def
Low-fi 64 kbps Mp3 file for sampling.
Like it? Support the people who make music. Buy this track at iTunes or

To Those Who’ve Received: Time To Give Back

It’s World Water Day this weekend and like most special days, a gift or thoughtful gesture would certainly be appropriate! For those of us with the incredible good fortune to enjoy plenty of clean, safe water, here are two good “give back” ideas recently brought to my attention.

1. No excuses about the recession or being broke, because this won’t cost you a dime. All you have to do is click! The ONE DROP awareness campaign will be raising awareness for the global water crisis and World Water Day across blogs, Digg, Twitter, Facebook and many other networks in an comprehensive social media effort called Ripple. Get all the details here:

Right now, DO THIS TODAY! Friday March 20th is ONE DROP’s rally event on Digg: DIGG FOR WATER. The idea is for as many supporters as possible to “digg” the cause and get some world-wide-web attention for urgent global water issues. (ONE DROP is an NGO launched by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté that aims to provide improved access to clean water in many poverty-stricken parts of the world.)

2. The Fill The Glass campaign at GlobalGiving benefits international water-related projects and this campaign hopes to raise funds for 10 grass-roots water projects that you can view on their website

You get to pick the specific project/s you wish to support. But don’t expect any easy decisions, as the choices include:
Supplying critical water for a Hatian Hospital
Health care and water for 7,000 Gambians
Improved water access for rural Ethiopians
Clean water for Sudanese war refugees

Projects that raise over $10,000 between March 9 and March 30 will receive additional funding from GlobalGiving. Easy! Just divert some of those bucks you’ve saved by sticking with tap water!