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Real News: Spurring Weed growth with Water

Did you ever experience an “Onion Fear” moment? When you suspect you’ve been humiliated and hoodwinked by a “news” story that’s actually a journo-joke straight from The Onion?

Onion-fear struck by the forth paragraph as I read this item:

WEED WATER FOUNTAIN SCULPTURE UNVEILED

The water fountain sculpture unveiled Thursday on Weed’s Main Street is the latest installment in a beautification project that is changing the face of the city.

Read more

its so dry drought flag of california

Drought Jokes: “It’s So Dry…” California Edition!

its so dry drought flag of californiaCalifornia is facing its worst water shortage in decades. This is somewhat funny, both “curious-funny” and “ha-ha funny” because the state’s severest drought in modern history gives us an excuse to unleash some lame Cali-focused “It’s so dry…” jokes.

California’s so dry…that leaks are the new status symbol.

California’s so dry…the fastest growing crime is employee theft… by pool boys.

California’s so dry…a sprinkler store opened on Rodeo Drive (and have you seen those Prada canteens?!) Read more

Occupy Water Tower: The Revel’s in the Details

Water Tower Stand-Off; photo via napa.patch.com

News overload! We’re all scanning the headlines. Hundreds of them, sometimes, in a single day. And only a few select, tantalizing, provocative links ultimately earn our coveted click-through.

What a shame. Because if you scanned right by this item, well… you missed some amazing details.

Man ends water tower occupation after six hours

You can read the whole story now if you like, but how about I make it really easy and clip just the best funny, sad and ironic details?

The broad scenario: In Napa Valley, California, Adrain Madrigal, a mentally disturbed hispanic man, “occupied” the top of an old tannery water tower for 6.5 hours before being taken into custody.

Six stunningly incredible details:

  1. Throughout the day, Madrigal could be seen climbing in and out of the water tank through a hatch. Why it’s amazing: Cartoons as reality–the old “escape hatch” move, a classic Looney Toonie setup!
  2. A helmeted, rifle-bearing SWAT agent made efforts to reach the man, but he repeatedly evaded them by moving to the other side of the water tank, using a pivoting ladder that is attached to the very top of the tower.
    Why it’s amazing: More Looney Tunes fun–a modern-day Bugs Bunny evading the shotgun-toting Elmer Fudd via swinging ladder!
  3. Threw a heavy metal can filled with rocks at officers on watch below. Why it’s amazing: Premeditation! He must have actually prepared by carrying rock-filled cans to the top of the tower.
  4. Authorities initially tried to persuade Madrigal to come down, offering him cigarettes and tacos. Why it’s amazing: Don’t know exactly why. It just is.
  5. Six hours into the standoff, with the sun going down, he began shouting for “agua.” Why it’s amazing: He’s on a water tower! The irony! Not to mention the fact that he took canned stones to the top, but forgot to bring along water, tacos and cigs.
  6. Madrigal came down from the tower around 5:50 p.m. after repeatedly asking authorities at the scene for water. Why it’s amazing: Could this be the start of the oft-predicted water-centered conflict and conquest? Yes, it is obvious that political authorities with access to water are using it to oppress those without! Right now, right in California!
  7. Madrigal may be the same person a manager found on the property Tuesday, who said he was looking for a job. He was told to return early the next day. Why it’s amazing: Occupy Water Tower. Wake up people, it’s not about tacos and cigs. It’s about jobs and water. And that’s a fact. 

Water Tower Graffiti: If you can’t beat ’em join ’em

Painting class numbers on Fallbrook CA water tower

Work begins to drop the zero and add the one. Photo by Tom Pfingsten for the North County Times

Why can’t we all just get along? Rather than stir up conflict with naturally-rambunctious teens, perhaps more authorities should take a cue from Fallbrook, California. There, for more than three decades, the Fallbrook water utility has avoided trouble with potential teen water-tower defacers in what has become an annual ritual, painting the numbers of the current high school graduating class on the Rattlesnake Water Tower. (Sidenote, the tower was supposedly named in honor of the hundreds of rattlesnakes discovered as it was built.)

The annual tradition is rooted in a bit of youth mayhem that began 1974, according to this Fallbrook Trivia page:

One night in June of 1974, members of the senior class snuck up to the water tower and painted a big “74” on it. Shortly thereafter it was painted over by water district. Not to be outdone, the class of ’75 took their turn at the water tank the following year. To the chagrin of the water district, it became a tradition for all graduating classes to paint the year of their class on the tank.

It was a hassle and I’m sure, more than a little expense for the water district to keep painting over the “Graffiti” every year. Eventually, they gave in and just began painting the number of the next graduating class themselves. A tradition that continues today.

Fallbrook Class of 2011, your time has come at last! From a story in nctimes.com, as this school year begins the zero has now been changed to a 1:

Compared to previous years, like the turn of the century in 2000, when two nines became two zeroes, Tuesday’s assignment was easy —- the district only had to convert the second digit, a zero, into a one.

In an interesting side story, the organizers of the Class of 1989 10th Reunion pulled off a spectacular nostaligia-fest for classmates by repainting the tower in their class numbers just for their reunion weekend. Now that’s a superb party decoration! Photos of the entire merry process can be viewed here.

Water Tower Before and After: Making the memories real for the Class of 1989 Ten Year Reunion

Yosemite February Fire Fall: A Hot Photo Op

It’s a good thing I read Aquafornia or I might never have known about the odd, rare and spectacular illusion known as the Yosemite “Fire Fall”… which actually involves no fire whatsoever.

Left, Horsetail Falls-Yosemite, by dlr9000 on Flickr

In Yosemite there is an almost non-existent waterfall called “Horsetail Falls.” During the last two weeks in February if conditions are perfect, photographers and spectators can witness what appears to be molten lava spilling over the Falls, but what is, in fact, an illusion caused by the angle of the sun.

“Perfect conditions” means first, sunlight in a clear, perfect sky (despite the clouds and storms that are common in Winter.) Second, there’s just a two-week window; the setting sun is positioned correctly ONLY during the last two weeks of February. Last, there must be water trickling over the falls.

Those with luck and patience will be rewarded with spectacular photos such as these. Hot to try? Learn a few of the basics here.

By howardignatius on Flickr

By daleberts on Flickr

Inventors Imagine a Water-Grabbing Fog Farm

This week a study revealed that California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering the state’s treasured coastal redwood trees.

And that’s not all! It potentially endangers these old and passed-over ideas, too, as detailed in a June, 1931 Inventions feature in Modern Mechanix. (Fog Drip May Hold Key to Drought Relief”)

Especially curious is this drawing which illustrates a novel idea:

Inventors in California once proposed to set up a tall screen of wire netting to catch fog near the coast and to store the water in reservoirs, from which it could be piped to adjacent farmlands. This beautiful plan was knocked in the head by a cold-blooded meteorologist, Dr. W. J. Humphreys, of the Weather Bureau. Humphreys showed that a screen 250 feet high—the cost of which would doubtless be prohibitive—would provide irrigation water for a strip of land only about half a mile wide back of it. However, the scheme may still have possibilities, and inventors are continuing their investigations of the odd phenomena in various parts of the world. Their findings have proved interesting

Following are the article’s first two pages, but you can read the entire thrilling feature here!

10 More Weird Water Items for Sale on Ebay

The Thirsty in Suburbia Super Water Flea returns! Following are 10 more hand-picked examples of rare, unusual and weird water-related merch just waiting for your winning bid. (The Sept. 2009 edition is here.)

1. You always knew water tended to be political so how about this one that’s “the right drink for the conservative taste”? This “Goldwater” can was made during  the 1960s Barry Goldwater U.S. presidential campaign. The seller notes, “the can has some rust on it.” Currently, one bidder with $2.00 on the board.

2. This represents “the greatest sensational mystery ever attempted in this or any other age.” Just try finding that someplace else for under twenty bucks. The Houdini In the Water-Filled Torture Cell poster is available at the Buy-It-Now price of $16.98.

3. With a little lovin’ care, this Halsey Taylor vintage water fountain could be the centerpiece of your properly sustainable mid-century modern hipster hangout. It is sold “As Is” and there are no returns! You can Buy it Now for just $44.98, but don’t overlook the $79.98 shipping charges. But who can put a price on Cool, really?

4. Get rich quick! Did you know making money with bottled water is as easy as filling in the blanks? The description for the Bottled Water Company Business Plant bundle notes “Stop struggling to write your business plan by using the professionally prewritten sample Bottled Water Company business plan included in the Bottled Water Company Business Plan Bundle…” Just $39.95 with a “30 day money-back guarantee.”

5. As crazy as things are getting out in the Wild Water West, who knows, this could be worth something someday!

This is a common stock certificate from the Southern California Water Company issued August 12, 1952 to one “Stirling, Morris and Bousman.” Even if it is worthless, the nice engraving of pipes and tanks will surely console the buyer. Maybe you? It’s a low risk at Just $8.29 and impulse shoppers, it’s “Buy It Now!”

6. While this is a classic gag, you DO need special supplies, and here they are! The New colored Tap Water Prank Gag Practical Joke is yours for 99 cents and $1.95 shipping. A cheap thrill! Just “insert one of four colored tablets into your faucet stem and watch as the water gets UGLY. Comes with 3 colored tablets and spring.” When April 1st rolls around you’re going to wish you’d jumped on this one, so plan ahead now!

7. Speaking of planning ahead, here’s your Halloween ace in the hole! Check out the HOT price ($258) on this Water Droplet costume. (Last Halloween, we priced a similar one for $1,279 and it didn’t even have awesome googly eyes like this one does! The seller notes that this giant water drop has a POLYFOAM head, which is important because,

“We use the advanced machine to manufacture POLYFOAM head, it is only one piece, it is stronger and enough hard to avoid to break when it meet strike accidentally, User head can be protected very well, but paperboard or foam head was produced by different  paperboard or foam pieces, they was usually agglutinated by the bad gluewater, this kind of head is not very firm, and very easily to turn into fragment, At the same time, the gluewater do harm to the User, It makes the User headache or feel unhappy.”

8. Get back to nature and start livin’ off the land with this old timey Rare Crank Water Pump, SBP St. Louis. The seller says it is in “very good condition, the crank turns freely & turns a chain with small tin cups to lift water up.” So if you’re dreaming of getting off the water grid, this could help you git yer groundwater on…err, up. The starting bid is $699 but the shipping is “free.”

9. Another item for those suffering an unusual obsession with vintage pumps. As if the internet’s not bad enough, this DVD covers Myers Vintage Water Pumps Catalogs from 1905 -1940. F.E. Myers Pumps was established in 1870 and the Myers’ brothers developed the first double acting hand pump. The DVD reproduces 7 vintage catalogs, featuring a huge treasury of information and illustrations for all types of water pumps, windmills, etc for home, farm and commercial use.

10. This is a new copy of a vintage Water Hazard golf sign. It measures 6″ x 12″ and it all-weather metal. Of course you don’t have to use this for something golf-related. Use your imagination, you can come up with something inventive, can’t you? It is listed with a starting bid of $4.99 with $4.95 for shipping.

Water Towers, Merry and Bright: Part 1

Water towers and Christmas lights are a natural combo so again in 2009 we’ve rounded up some fantastic festive towers decorated for the holiday season! (See the 2008 collection here and here.)

Beautiful dusk light accents this starry blue tower in Fresno, California by Matt (mistergoleta) on Flickr.

By Robb_Wilson on Flickr, we love this charming Charlie Brown-ish water tower spotted in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California, where old railroad cars and engines are put out to pasture. This time of year, Robb says, “parts of the area are dressed up for Christmas.”


From the Mount Washington, Ohio 2009 Tower Lighting Ceremony by Rich Richmond on Flickr, who when contacted about including his photo in this feature said “I had no idea anywhere else was crazy enough to light up a water tower!”

TacSat Tim on Flickr took this photo of the Mannheim Water Tower during the annual Christmas market while stationed in Germany after returning home from Iraq in in 2006 (it was his first Christmas in Mannheim with his wife.) “Der Wasserturm” was built in 1889 and is a local landmark.

Not an real water tower, but charming nonetheless! =>tim<= on Flickr took this photo of a light display depicting a water tower with rail cars at the Midwest City, Oklahoma Holiday Lights Spectacular.

In Full Surround! L.A. Mass Freak-Out over Rain

It almost never rains in Southern California, but when it does… “We’re going to have a mass panic on our hands.” Comedian Mark Iverson’s movie parody, Rain: H2O…NO pulls out every widescreen cliche you can think of for this hysterical “trailer” that captures the high drama of Los Angelenos freaking out as the storm clouds gather.

This was posted to YouTube last May, but we missed it until, thankfully, the L.A. Now Blog at latimes.com brought it onto our Doppler radar.