Dam That Nuisance Hudson River!

The Bronx is up and the Battery’s… um, where? From the March 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix, a billion-dollar proposal (in 1934 dollars!) that should have even modern-day developers and speculators indulging in insane profiteering daydreams.

If this plan seems a bit over the top, the article notes, “Engineers uniformly agree that there are very few problems which can successfully defy the determination of civilization to conquer.” Dam right! (At the www.blog.modernmechanix.com, you can read the original 5-page article here.)

PLUG up the Hudson river at both ends of Manhattan . . . divert that body of water into the Harlem river so that it might flow out into the East river and down to the Atlantic ocean . . . pump out the water from the area of the Hudson which has been dammed off … fill in that space . . . ultimately connecting the Island of Manhattan with the mainland of New Jersey . . . and you have the world’s eighth wonder ”the reconstruction of Manhattan!

That is the essence of the plan proposed by Norman Sper, noted publicist and engineering scholar. It is calculated to solve New York City’s traffic and housing problems, which are threatening to devour the city’s civilization like a Frankenstein monster.

Evian, The New Fountain of Youth

Tough times in the bottled water business call for tough tactics–like selling the age-old quest for eternal youth. Evian’s new ad campaign tells us to “live young (TM)!” Who knew that the mythical Fountain of Youth, that legendary spring that restores youth to those who drink from it, was right there on my grocer’s shelf all along! I thought Evian water was expensive, but compared to botox, plastic surgery or Satan-soul-selling, it’s a live-young (TM) bargain!

This new fountain of youth reveals itself in the form of jaunty hip-hoppin’ roller-skating babies. I still refuse to buy the stuff but let’s be honest, these wee-ones on wheels are irresistably, adorably funny.


Where’s the breathless press release, you ask? Why, it’s here, informing us that stunt-skating tots are “the ultimate expression of Evian brand values, including origin, health and youth.”

And it gets better!

“To Evian, youth is not a matter of age, but a mindset – a youthful mindset that is optimistic, believes that everything is possible, and is curious and eager to discover the world – much like that of a child,” stated Jerome Goure, vice president of marketing for Danone Waters of America, the exclusive importer and marketer of Evian in North America.  “The babies in this campaign exemplify this attitude and the celebration of adding life to your years.”

Wine Cheaper than Water? Crikey!

Stock-up time! We heard it through the grapevine… there’s a wine glut in Australia to the point that wine prices have been driven lower than some bottled waters. Where are we headed here? Maybe the 21st-century religious miracle will be changing wine into water! (Last fall, we posted here about cheaper-than-water alcohol in the UK.) According to www.news.com.au,

Major wine retailer Dan Murphy’s is currently selling cleanskins for $1.99 a bottle – cheaper than some bottled water – due to the oversupply crisis that has led to some vineyard owners leaving grapes to wither on the vine.
The unprecedented meltdown in the Oz wine biz has also precipitated a fire-sale of unprofitable vineyards. Australia’s biggest winemaker, Foster’s, is selling 31 of its vineyards across the country. Winemakers pow-wowed at an emergency meeting and concluded that 20% of vines needed to be phased out in the next three years to correct imbalance. 
Strong export sales led to over-optimistic outlooks for Australia’s wine industry and a doubling of vine-producing areas over the past decade. But forecasts of more than $3 billion in export sales by next year have been dashed by overseas competition, an excess of cheaper wines and the global financial crisis.

Celebrate Freedom with New Federal Regulations!

Isn’t it moving to watch those inspiring fireworks displays casting their electric reflection over lakes and waterways? Don’t you love the way they rain down, casting their colors towards…wait a minute. What’s in that stuff raining down into our waterways and seeping into our groundwater?

Most of the fireworks we’ll see during July 4th Independence Day celebrations will contain perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer used to make explosives, rocket fuel, matches, fireworks and other products. Several states have now set limits for its presence in drinking water and the EPA is investigating further regulation of this chemical.

Never fear, though because the American Chemical Society has announced a new chemical formulation that can be used in place of perchlorate in the manufacture of fireworks. In addition to reducing perchlorate use, the new materials burn cleaner, reduce smoke and cut down on the use of heavy metals in fireworks, according to the ACS.  (via WaterTechonline.com)

In a press release (joyfully titled “Green” fireworks may brighten eco-friendly Fourth of July displays in future) the ACS suggests new federal regulations to limit perchlorate in fireworks, because such regulation would overcome fireworks manufacturers’ resistance to using the expensive new formulas which are not yet cost-competitive with perchlorate.

Which is a rich irony, isn’t it, considering the “death to tyranny” origins of this day! (All fireworks, including little tiny sparklers, are already unlawful in my ‘burb, and surprise, opressive heavy fines are involved.)

h2o mp3: The River Hymn – The Band

This weekend, pack a picnic, head to the water’s edge and enjoy this song. The sentimental, nostalgic lyrics will have you drifting back (and wishing for) a simpler time.

The Band was active from 1967 to 1976 and again from 1983 to 1999. This track is from their 1971 album Cahoots. Although they never achieved mass success and appeal, they earned admiration from music journalists and other musicians and the group holds a place in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and achieved a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

The voice of the rapids will echo
And ricochet like an old water well
Who’d ever want to let go
Once you sit beneath its spell
It’s dark and wide and deep, towards the sea it creeps
I’m so glad I brought along my mandolin
To play the river hymn…

You can ride on it or drink it
Poison it or dam it
Fish in it and wash in it
Swim in it and you can die in it
Run, you river, run

Play the track


Download The River Hymn – The Band
Low-fi 64 kbps mp3 file for sampling.
Like it? Support the people who make music. Buy this track at iTunes or Amazon.com

Man and Beast are Crazy with Heat

They say heat can drive man and beast crazy. We’ve got our heat and water worries in this ‘burb, but as of now we don’t have to worry that a steamy hippo might get stuck on our water tower, or that a survivalist pig hops into our pool.

From katv.com, Little Rock, news of a pool party with ham dip! (All actual photos under the close guard of the Associated Press.)

A swimming pig NOT from the Associated Press

An 800-pound hog that survived on its own for a week after a truck flipped while on its way to a slaughterhouse has surfaced in a swimming pool at a home near the crash site.

LeAnn Baldy, whose house is only yards from Interstate 430, said Monday she noticed her pool was suddenly overflowing and then saw the immersed pig, which was having a drink in the pool.

About 90 hogs were in the trailer when it overturned where I-430 meets I-40, and about 60 survived. Officials said they thought the last of them had been caught.

Baldy says she found a farmer to take in the pig. A spokesman for Odom’s Tennessee Pride says it can’t use the hog in its sausage products because no one knows what the hog had been eating in its week on the lam.

You know we watch out for what’s hot and hip. This covers the best of both worlds! From a story and photo gallery on metro.co.uk,  

An overheating hippo was so desperate to cool down that he climbed over the side of a 3m (10ft) water tower for a nice long soak.
However, after happily splashing around for a while, the mammal found it could not get out of the pool and was well and truly stuck.
Luckily, a farm worker noticed water spilling over the side of the concrete container and spotted two enormous nostrils poking out of the tank. He immediately rang for help and, within hours, rescuers arrived at the farm in Alkmaar, just outside Nelspruit in South Africa.

Equipped with a hydraulic crane and a cage, hippo hunter Chris Hobkirk and his team from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Association set to work. In a four-hour operation, they drained the tank and used poles to gently nudge the hippo into the 3m-long (10ft) steel cage before winching it to safety. 

Imagine a Water Factory

In the future, we won’t worry about water scarcity because by then, our advanced technology will enable us to manufacture it! Farfetched, yes, but this fantastically surreal piece by Como, Italy artist Giuseppe Marcesa, “Water Factory” should remind us to tame our technology-to-the-rescue mentality.

I asked him what he was thinking about in creating this piece; he says, “I just was thinking about foolish people thinking to solve problems when it is too late. Another example is cancer, instead to think about the way to avoid it, we spend money and time to research to solve it when we got it!!!”

Well said, and well imagined, too.