Look Closely: Water Transport is Booming

Boston.com’s “The Big Picture” has gained a devoted following for its dramatic, superb photography presented thematically, somewhat like a digital version of the much-missed Life magazine. The Big Picture feature on Robots included this photo by Cherie A. Thurlby for the Department of Defense. The photo depicts,

“An Explosive Ordinance Disposal robot places an explosive device next to a suspicious package during a demonstration conducted by members of the Special Operations Command Central Command Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit for participants of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference 72, at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, Oct. 21, 2006.”

But wait a minute, we’re having a closer look at that “suspicious package” and of course we notice something of particular interest to us…that Emirates bottled water must be da bomb! (I should mention that you’ll never have to call a bomb squad to detonate your tap. At least I hope not.)

h2o mp3: Cool Water: Fleetwood Mac

Classic old cowboy tune about hallucinating in the desert. (FYI–the “Dan” in this song is our lone hero’s mule!) Cool Water was written in 1936 by Bob Nolan and has been covered by dozens of artists, including Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Slim Whitman, Bob Dylan, even the Muppets! This version is from 1982 by Fleetwood Mac.


The shadows sway and seem to say
tonight we pray for water,
Cool water.
And way up there He’ll hear our prayer
and show us where there’s water,
Cool, clear water.

Play the track


Download Cool Water – Fleetwood Mac
Low-fi 64 kbps Mp3 file for sampling.
(Sorry, no purchase links–this track not found at iTunes, Amazon.com or other sources.)

It’s Spring, and Water Marketers Send Their Love

We might love our tap water, but that’s not to stop or slow the relentless bottled water branders from absconding with the power of love to move the water and the wallets.

While I was in California in January, I picked up this interesting number in a organic food store near Carmel. The brand is “Aquamantra” (here, in the convenient “Mini-Mantra” size) and the concept seems to involve invoking positive self-talk while drinking the water for a spiritually uplifting experience. And a solitary experience, too, given the high probability for public ridicule. (It’s water for Stuart Smalley! “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, I am Loved! glug glug.”)

If that’s too intense for you, just go for this straight-up approach that bridges the language barrier with the language of love, seen in Vietnam and shared by silveroses69 on Flickr. Lovely!

One Latte with Change, Please.

Suddenly, they’re everywhere. Jaw-dropping “water footprint” numbers are marching through mainstream media channels, but I have some nagging problems with most examples I’ve seen. One, they usually gloss over how the numbers are calculated, which invites skepticism. And two, outside of the broad advice to “save water” there are rarely concrete suggestions of what we’re to do about it. And third, is the ending missing? What about the water cycle? Aren’t all those molecules still around, somewhere?

One stat burning the wires over the past several months: one cotton t-shirt = 2,700 litres of water. Aside from the fuzzy math, what’s being suggested here? Wear rayon? Crash diet? Go shirtless? What? And don’t even go there with the “organic cotton” platitudes. This particular article from www.wendmag.com concludes,

What’s the bottom line when it comes to cotton? Before you buy that cotton t-shirt, keep in mind what your water footprint is, and who and where the production of your purchase is really going to affect. Because ultimately, that water could be used for other things.

Huh? That reminds me of when my parents would admonish us to clean our plates because “children were starving in Africa;” we, of course would reply, “well, let’s send this food to them!” Many “water footprints” strike me as dumb and dumbed-down in the same way. Your not buying a t-shirt will not directly benefit the water-deprived of the world. And by oversimplifying a complex system, we encourage disbelief or worse, apathy.

My bottom line? Too much “GEE WOW,” very little “WHAT NOW.”

I think this video from WWF does a better job of avoiding the insinuation that we all deny ourselves latte and thus save the planet. It’s the bigger point that we need to rethink how we produce and consume just about everything, in our personal lives and businesses. But is it working? If you’d like an idea of the challenge in selling this concept to the broader public, have a look at the comment section for this video.

Create, Destroy, Repeat: A Natural Process

How would it feel to spend months creating this, only to see it destroyed by the natural shifts of the seasons? To the artist John Ceprano, it would feel perfectly right that the works are created by man and dismantled by nature.

Every spring and summer since 1986, John Ceprano has created these stunning sculptures rising out of the river bed of the Ottawa River at Remic Rapids in Canada. The sculptures are constructed entirely by hand using heavily fossilized, color-laden rock that is unique to the region. Before the next spring arrives, the sculptures collapse and vanish in the harsh ice and storms of the cold Canadian winter.

And the next spring he begins again. What has motivated him to rebuild and re-create each year for more than two decades? In his own words,

…At that time, I began Transcendental Meditation providing a perception of balance in all things, natural and man made. It is also the guiding process for the rock sculptures: BALANCE, HARMONY AND PEACE. The TAO balances and harmonizes the space so that everything fits together naturally, as if being there forever. Meanwhile, the Buddhist principles allow the “letting go” each winter season when the sculptures are dismantled by the river and ice.

Nice Photos! Photo #1 From RougeEtNoireon Flickriver.com,, Photo #2 from Watawa Life, and Photo #3 from Ullysseson Flickr.

Attention Conspiracy Theorists: NASA Water Recycling

Ordinarily, I’d post this photo of Vietnamese bottled water “purified by NASA’s award-winning technology” strictly for our amusement. (from the Picasa Web Album Hoi An, Vietnam by Mark)

But it reminds us of something we read on Engadget in the summer of 2007:

NASA drops $19m on Russian toilets
for American asstronauts [sic]

Super-good pun headline notwithstanding, our radar is up. NASA…millions of dollars…Russians…mysterious bottled water in a deprived country with scant government oversight of foodstuffs… Coincidence? Judge for yourself, but I am adjusting my tinfoil chapeau.

The July, 2007 Engadget story notes:

So apparently NASA has agreed to purchase toilet technology from the Russian company RSC Energia for the tidy sum of $19 million, to be delivered to the ISS in 2008 in preparation for a crew upsizing from three to six members. The previous system required that urine tanks be transferred to cargo ships and burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere, but the new toilets operate like a waste treatment center on Earth, collecting and reconstituting urine as drinking water — an unpleasant concept for a number of our readers, but a welcome relief for thirsty astronauts. The toilets are similar to normal models, though they employ leg restraints and thigh bars to hold the “user” in place, and high-powered fans to suck, um… waste into the commode. The system will be installed on the American side of the station, while the Russian-side will remain as is, resulting in extremely long lines to use the “good” bathroom.