Even NASA Deals With Crappy Infrastructure

Considering that the Space Shuttle Discovery weighs 4.5 million pounds at lift off and employs 2 solid rocket boosters, 3 main engines and 2 orbital thrusters, it’s insane to imagine that it was held back by a break in a 24-inch water line.

A water pipeline broke near the Kennedy Space Center launch complex on September 8th, closing the facility’s visitor center and delaying a planned “rollover”–the move of space shuttle Discovery from its hanger to the building where it is to be be prepared for its November 1st mission to the International Space Station.

NASA Webcam photos of the water main break via spaceref.com

The gushing pipeline break left the Kennedy Space Center without potable water or working restrooms, so non-essential personnel got the day off while tourists headed to the visitor center were turned away. A quick fix ensued and the Center reopened in the afternoon after water was restored to all locations except for one administrative building. The Visitor Center reopened the following day.

Hope they had a pallet or two of astronaut water around! Why, one can’t even have Tang without water!

So now, you too can enjoy the same inconveniences that the astronauts enjoy! Water main breaks occur, on average, 700 times every day in the US and Canada. (Also, see our CRAPPY INFRASTRUCTURE rss news feed below for “breaking” news around the clock.)

No privacy when taking care of your “private business”

Photo submitted by "Ryan" to consumerist.com

Hold it right there (literally!) if you care about protecting your privacy rights!

“Ryan” has  shared this sign with consumerist.com and the site notes  “at a certain Goodwill, you need a license to pee.”

This should put all you seat dribblers, clog causers, trash-can missers, countertop water-splashers, TP thieves and stall sharpie writers on notice. At Goodwill, we know who you are. We know where you live. Prepare for the consequences.

Public Art and the Beauty of Sewage Treatment

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with mandatory public art funding. Sometimes the results are seriously wonderful and sometimes they’re seriously silly…money well-spent, or money mis-spent.

Wooden walkway, mountains and outfall: Image of the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution control plant by photographer-in-residence Robert Dawson (Robert Dawson via mercurynews.com)

This public art project in my view is seriously wonderful. Noted environmental photographer Robert Dawson has spent the past year as the “photographer-in-residence” at the San Jose/Santa Clara sewage treatment plant, a $65,000 project made possible by a city public art ordinance which sets aside 1% funding of selected capital improvement projects for public art.

This is a fantastic proposition as this plant, one of the largest such facilities in California, serves 1.5 million people who’d probably like to have a look at they’ve paid for, as well as what they will be paying for over the next couple decades as the facility embarks on a major 15-year renovation.

A strange conundrum for those who must convince the public to fund large water projects is the fact that most of the infrastructure is invisible to the public (until a pipe bursts). Out of sight, out of mind. Public art is a wonderful way to illustrate that there’s a lot more involved in this process after the dirty water goes down one’s drain.

Many believe that what’s needed to fix crumbling water infrastructure is more money and more engineering. For starters, I think we could use more artists.

Read more about this project and view more photos at mercurynews.com, via Aquafornia
See more of Robert Dawson’s portfolio, which includes the fantastic Global Water Project and Water in the West.

UFO H2O: It Came From Outer Space?

I’ve been looking at strange bottled waters for years so why have I never seen this one? Government cover-up, I’ll bet! Available right now on eBay is UFO H2O, which according the seller’s description was “bottled in 2004 by ‘The Alien H2O Company’ and sold at the Roswell, NM UFO Festival, site of the supposed 1947 alien UFO crash!” (Some connection to Dr. Who? Or Astronaut Water? You tell me!)

What’s better, we’re told that the bottle says “Preferred by Aliens thruout all galaxies.” Guess that proves there’s water on the moon, Mars and wherever else! Especially since the seller’s disclaimer states, “Sold as Novelty Souvenir and not for Human Consumption.”

Jump right on this one for $4.95 plus $2.95 shipping. Unless of course, this listing mysteriously disappears…