Time For Spring Housecleaning

A clean house is a happy house, and a good scrub and update on this site’s back-end is long overdue! We’ll be taking off the week of April 26th from posting to take care of spring maintenance. Don’t forget about us, we’ll be right back next week!

Fake Ice: Now That’s Cool!

artificial ice vintage postcard

This charming little postcard from cardcow.com made me smile, especially the sight of the gaggle of children so excited to see the arrival of their “Pure Artificial Ice.”

Silly people, don’t you know there’s no such thing as fake ice? What? There is?! While it wasn’t delivered by the Standard Fuel and Ice Company, synthetic ice has actually around since the 1960s as a real ice alternative for skating. Unlike genuine ice, the fake stuff doesn’t require cold weather or refrigeration equipment. It requires… just one word… plastics!

The first application of plastic ice substitute for ice skating was in the 1960s using materials developed by DuPont in the early 1950s. Today, the technology is still in use from big rinks down to the garages of the hockey-obsessed.

synthetic ice

SuperGlide Plastic Ice via globalsyntheticice.com

h2o mp3: Dope in the Water – Steve Anderson

We’re tickled to present you with a world premiere of sorts! The parody song “Dope In the Water” (sung to the tune of “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple) was written and performed by Steve Anderson, Water Resources Analyst at Clean Water Services, Portland, Oregon. This is of course a timely issue since the release of the 2008 Associated Press study that claims at least 41 million Americans may be getting a bonus of drugs and pharmaceuticals in their water supply.

Steve Anderson

The song (which is awesomely hysterical, in my opinion!) came to the fore as part of a forum discussion about the use of humor in public communications. The bottom line: no clear consensus. Some communications professionals believe in the power of humor to communicate, some are mildly uncomfortable with the risk and others believe it is often misleading to a misinformed public.

I think everyone knows where I stand! As I wrote on the discussion thread,

I think the point of the song is to change behavior and to promote the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals, which in turn, reduces the treatment burdens. This is the part that the public can control, and thus, an effective message to send.

So thanks, Steve, and we hope lots of people are humming this when they refrain from bad habits that add “Dope in the Water!”

Play the track

Dope in the Water – Steve Anderson

Download Dope in the Water by Steve Anderson (mp3)

Lyrics

We flush them down our toilets
We wash ‘em down the drain
We take ‘em when we feel bad
We take ‘em for the pain
They come to us in the sewers
We’d treat ‘em all but we can’t
When they show up at the headworks
They pass right through the treatment plant

Dope in the water
Hormones in the creek
Dope in the water

And what about them birth control pills?
At the outfall where the effluent swirls
Makin’ changes in the wildlife
Little boy fish look a lot like girls
And then we have our Prozac
Discharged by the very best
Don’t know how the fish like that
At least I guess they’re not depressed

Dope in the water
Hormones in the creek
Dope in the water

My coffee in the morning
Can keep a fish awake at night
Painkillers might make ‘em feel good
But you know it just ain’t right
Cosmetics and perfumes, well
Just add to this witch’s brew
It’s high time to figure it out
Just what the hell this stuff can do

Dope in the water
Hormones in the creek
Dope in the water

DIY Upside-Downy Tomato Planter

You’ve seen it on TV and you want one, right? Here’s how I made a DIY tomato planter (aka “topsy turvy” planter) out of PET trash and recycled objects around my house.

1–This bulk-size container is just the right size and has a nice wide-mouthed opening.

2–I used a hole-saw drill bit to make a opening in the bottom of the container. (even with the hole saw, this wasn’t easy…it was surprising thick!)

3–Next, measure equal thirds around the top opening and drill holes with a regular drill bit to attach a hanger.

4–This step is probably optional, but folks around my ‘burb wouldn’t appreciate trash hanging from my home, so I spray painted it to make it look nicer. (It might be functional too, as I don’t think direct sunlight would be good for the plant’s roots.)
UPDATE: This puzzling picture is not trick photography, just a bad crop job! The container is mounted on a stake in the ground to facilitate the painting. (Thanks, Wayne!)

5–Then, I attached an old chain hanger to the three holes in the rim; you could use wire, sturdy twine, even some old coat hangers if that’s what you have.

I don’t think we need yet another “how to” on how to get the plant in there; let’s just say that getting the plant through that hole reminded me of childbirth! Tip: wrap the foliage in a snug tube of newspaper to help work it through the bottom with a minimum of effort and damage. Or, just buy a smaller plant, which is what I wish I’d done!

The finished product: NOT seen on TV, but available for no easy payments of $0.

Bottled Water Brand Heads For the Blue Ocean

Familiar with “Blue Ocean” marketing strategy?” That’s when a business tries to hit the growth and profit jackpot by finding or creating an uncontested market space—in effect, wide-open “Blue Ocean”—rather than getting beat up and bloodied trying to succeed in crowded market segments with a lot of competition for customers’ money and attention.

I think the marketers behind Activate brand must have read the book! (The product is from Rising Beverage Company in, no surprise, Los Angeles, CA.)

With countless brands fighting it out it with variations on the “enhanced” formula, Activate actually brags that they’ve taken all that junk OUT. Who NEEDS nutrients that “deteriorate sitting in water.” GONE. Minerals? OUT. Let the others ionize their brands. Activate DE-ionizes. You’ll love it, cool consumers, because you’re not like everyone else, I know. You’re different. You’re PURE. You don’t follow the crowd. You follow the hip people, leisurely paddling around their exclusive blue ocean space by themselves. (It doesn’t float with me!)

The Value of Water, Explained by Two Grannies

Those witty folks at Yorkshire Water UK are at it again, with time with a kooky campaign centered on two thrifty Grannies. “Edna and Mary” urge us to “Look ‘ow much you get for your money!” and are backed by a spot on the telly, their own corner of “t’interweb,” and of course, Twitter and Facebook.

It’s a wide stream of slapstick silliness surrounding know-it-all Edna and disheveled Mary. But grounding it all is the fact that Grannies everywhere will definitely be paying a lot more for water in the future. It’s no joke that many people don’t comprehend the huge (and escalating) costs and complex infrastructure required to deliver the cheap, clean tap water we take for granted. From the video’s YouTube page,

Research has highlighted to us that nearly 40% of our customers don’t know what they get for their money when it comes to their water bill. It’s important to us that our customers understand what they get for their money so we’ve launched this latest campaign to explain where your money goes.

The website is loaded with campy jokes and stereotypical dialogue which sometimes goes a bit too far; despite this, the two frugal frumps are a gateway to a lot of valuble, concise information, like “How do we spend your money?” or “how we collect and treat your water.”

YouTube commenters have quickly piled on with the expected criticisms, mostly on the theme of you’re wasting the public’s money on this stupid campaign and advertising.

A mentor of mine once told me, “If you’re not being criticized, you’re not making progress.” He was right.

Embedded video below or view on YouTube here.

The Devil Made Them Do It!

This could explain the presence of certain contaminants in our water! You can muster your own evil wit to write a wicked caption or ID these frolicking fiends on this 1906 antique postcard. (If you’re tempted, add them in the comments!)

I wonder if “Miss Harris” of “Primley Hill” was properly shocked when she received it; it’s now available to collectors of strange ephemera from cardcow.com for a smidge under twenty bucks (despite the visible $2 price penciled in on the back!)