Waterblogged.info’s New Year’s Resolutions!

Like the “Fifty things to do before you die” lists, New Year’s resolutions are driven by a nagging, narcissistic dissatisfaction that feels an awful lot like guilt. But the “fifty things” lists are more ambitious than the typical beginning-of-the-year vows to go to the gym five times a week and organize your iTunes library. They’re usually based on the premise that you’re, if not affluent, at least comfortably middle-class, and are convinced that no life is well lived until one has, for example, scaled K2, jammed on a violin over the Hungarian minor scale with a blown-away Yo Yo Ma, taught English to the grateful inhabitants of Lesotho, made perfect soft-boiled eggs at several different altitudes, and impressed residents of Beijing with flawless Mandarin.

Of course, the must-do lists of the billion or so poor of the planet are no doubt less ambitious but more immediate: Get access to clean water before I die, eat before I die, get decent medical care before I die, etc. Everything’s relative.

This year, I’ve decided to come up with a hybrid of the two sorts of list, water related of course: Ten New Year’s Resolutions to Do Before I Die. Rather than just bore the reader with my self-involved and possibly grandiose goals, I’ve linked each item to a compelling–and in some cases fascinating–bit of information about everyone’s favorite sugar-free beverage.

  1. Collaborate with Dr. Peter Gleick to put a stop to the gargantuan, insane, destined-to-fail desalination project moving relentlessly forward in Southern California.
  2. Help Matt Damon move mountains.
  3. Get myself appointed Obama’s special peace envoy to broker settlements to supposedly imminent water wars.
  4. Work feverishly with NASA scientists to figure out how to efficiently transport moon water to Earth.
  5. Save the salmon!
  6. Fish for Asian carp in the Great Lakes.
  7. Work with Willie Nelson to develop an iPhone app version of his home water-from-air system.
  8. Jet-ski the Golden Age Lake!
  9. Join up with Food & Water Watch. (This may be the only attainable goal on this list.)
  10. Not go for months without posting.

Waterblogged.info’s first coloring contest (with prizes)!

Waterblogged.info thinks outside the lines

Waterblogged.info thinks outside the lines

A second-childhood vibe prevails at Waterblogged.info as we kick off our second century of posts. We’re once again all tingly with a childlike sense of awe about water and its wonders and–like the good kids we are–we want to share.

So, break out your crayolas, pastels, color pencils, oil paints, watercolors, gouache, egg tempera ( duh, not tempura, but food coloring of any ethnic variety is encouraged!) paintbrushes, q-tips, eyeliner pencils, airbrushes, paintball guns, or painting/drawing software and enter Waterblogged.info’s first coloring contest! You may even win a prize*!

The good people at the Groundwater Foundation (we’ll let them explain themselves) have created a Kids Corner chockablock with resources to bait-and-switch blissfully innocent children into learning about groundwater, water science, and conservation.

We downloaded their PDF of the water cycle coloring sheet, converted it to a jpeg, and uploaded it to the Waterblogged.info Coloring Contest Gallery!

How to Enter:

  1. Click on the coloring-sheet image or here to get there,
  2. Download the image,
  3. get all creative on it, (Analog methods like coloring with real crayons or paints obviously requires scanning. You could use an online image editor like Splashup.com, which looks like fun!)
  4. sign it, and
  5. finally, upload your masterpiece to the gallery by attaching it to an email message addressed to . (Sorry, encoded to avoid spambots. Replace “at” with @ and “dot” with “.”)
  6. Let us know you entered by leaving a comment on this post.

The first ten entrants will win a Water Cycle in a Bag that will somehow bear the Waterblogged.info logo! Our panel of water experts and art aficionados will pick a grand prize winner, upon whom we will bestow either a copy of the Groundwater Foundation’s Rainmakers: A Photographic Story of Center Pivots or Alternet.org editor Tara Lohan‘s recently published Water Conciousness.

We can imagine some stick-in-the-mud out there thinking, “Hey, Waterblogged.info, this all strikes me as kind of childish.” Hey, dude, it’s childlike, not childish, OK? So, nyaa-nyaa-nyaa-nyaa-nyaaaaaaa!

But if your inner child has run away from home and you insist on being all grown-up and uptight about the water cycle (and maybe want to impress your date by casually dropping hip hydrological terms like sublimation and streamflow), click on the image at left to go to the U.S. Geological Survey’s information-drenched Water Cycle page. You’ll be glad you did, and we’ll be glad that you’re not here spoiling our fun.

*Void where prohibited.

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Ten cool water contaminants! (with bonus pollutant thrown in!)

Common contaminantsCaveats, full disclosures, frank admissions, and shamefaced confessions: This is a list of eleven, not ten. All of these contaminants may or may not be in a specific community’s drinking water. Check with your local water department, which may or may not try to change the subject. The artwork is © Stella Marrs, P.O. Box 2273, Olympia, WA. 98507, and was purchased at Modern Times Bookstore, in San Francisco, during Waterblogged.info’s annual team-building holiday shopping excursion. Unfortunately, this list is by no means exhaustive. Check here for more pollutants! Water is blue, but not that blue.

Waterblogged.info’s performance evaluation:improvement needed!

The Waterblogged.info team sat in stunned and uncharacteristic silence as our obviously exasperated editorial director went over our performance evaluation, point by point, explaining why we not only failed to get the overall Exceeds Expectations rating that we fully anticipated–leading to a raise and water-cooler bragging rights–but instead got spanked with an unexpected and embarrassing Improvement Needed–leading potentially to the door.

improvement-needed2.jpgAfter the ritual humiliation, the boss leaned back in his chair and put his fingertips together–in that condescending manner that he thinks signals authority and reason but only manages to piss us off–and said, “Look, you accepted this job. You’re the one who committed to taking on a blog about water, for god’s sake, and refused to focus on one manageable aspect of it like other focused blogs, and instead insisted on pwning water, whatever that’s supposed to mean. You’ve fallen short. You’re dropping the ball.”

“You bury the lead by starting almost every post with irrelevant fantasies, you post much too infrequently, you’re disrespectful to elected officials, religious beliefs, and other blogs, you blithely dismiss potentially life-saving innovations and take pointless potshots at journalists, you don’t live up to commitments, your posts are often way too long, you overuse italics for emphasis, your writing style is somewhat turgid, your general attitude is flip, you’re a bunch of grim, gloomy Gusses, and–he paused for what he imagined to be a dramatic effect–you don’t appear to have a value proposition.”

Oooh, so that’s where this is coming from, his constant missed opportunities to monetize the blog, we thought, stung mainly by the critique of our writing style. Turgid? Is that what we now call writing in complete sentences that are rich with clauses–dependent and independent–packed with punchy parenthetical asides, studded with adjectives and alliterations, and enhanced with erudite references to such historic luminaries as Aristotle? Turgid our collective asses.

britney-spears.jpgHow about if we just skip words and post pictures of Britney Spears wasting water by taking overly long showers? we thought defiantly, as he blathered on about blog stats. That should get us some hits!

Whatever. We didn’t demean ourselves by being defensive and pointing out the efforts we’ve made to chronicle and elaborate upon some of the biggest water-related issues of the day. And our attempts to be a repository of the best water-related resources, such as here, here, and here, and our success at writing accurate and thoughtful posts about global water problems, (and here and here) even though we have to go to a demanding day gig, thanks to the absurdly low compensation package at Waterblogged.info. We know we’ve only scratched the surface, but we’ve really just gotten started. Developing a comprehensive, worthwhile site about a complex topic takes time and patience, we told ourselves supportively.

So we accepted, lying down, the performance program that the editorial director has “suggested.” We committed ourselves to at least three posts weekly, and three new “Getting Serious with Waterblogged.info” specials in the next three weeks. And we will stop gratuitously dissing other sites, being a smart-ass, and begin pruning our prose and looking for ways to grab more eyeballs. And, as Jane says, we’re gonna start tomorrow.
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Ten not-so-fun facts about water

My first post was a light-hearted icebreaker. We’re getting serious now:

1. Fresh water is disappearing — fasteverywhere on the planet, except Iceland. There’s a lot of water in Iceland.

2. Water is the new oil. (I made that up, but so did a couple thousand other people.)

3. Canada is the new Saudi Arabia, maybe. (The catch is they have to waste immense amounts of water to pull it off. But apparently no worries there. See the next item.)

4. Speaking of Canada, a future water war between the two biggest water hogs on the planet (the other being the U.S., of course) is not entirely implausible.

5. Dams may not have been such a great idea after all. Especially this one.

6. There’s a lot of water in Greenland, too. Too bad a lot of it is melting into the ocean. (See also this.)

7. The fact that Greenland is melting provides business opportunities and ummm. . .creative solutions.

8. “Conservation may be part of new plan for Colorado River.” (This from a headline of a June, 2007 article in a Vail, Colorado newspaper. This about a river that brings water to seven states and Mexico. This during a seven-year regional drought. Conservation may be part of the plan for the Colorado River?)

9. Oh wait, this at least gives the above-cited insanity some context. It doesn’t make it any better, but it gives it context.

10. When Rivers Run Dry, a book by water expert Fred Pearce, is an authoritative and frightening look at global stupidity. Read it so we can talk.

Bonus: Groxie is a cool site with a series of posts that amounts to a primer on water conservation.

Ten fun facts about water

Waterblogged.info–your future go-to site for up-to-date water-related information,–proudly kicks off its inaugural post with ten fascinating facts about water, shamelessly lifted from Wikipedia:

1. It really is blue. No, really.

2. It’s the only common, pure substance found naturally in all three states of matter.

3. It’s one of only a few substances that is less dense in its solid state, ice, than its liquid state. This is a good thing, if not completely understood.

4. In 1742, Anders Celsius defined the Celsius temperature scale with the freezing point of water at 100 degrees and the boiling point at standard atmospheric pressure at 0 degrees. The scale was reversed in 1745 by Carolus Linnaeus after Celsius’s death. It is not known whether Linnaeus said “duh.”

5. In some specific circumstances, hotter water freezes faster than colder water. This is called the Mpemba effect.

6. Hydrogen oxide and dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) are two scientific names for water. The ominous sound of the second name, particularly its acronym, was the genesis of a hoax that led some innocents to call for the the banning of water, because, among other threats, it causes erosion and drowning and is a chief component of acid rain.

7. Water can react as an acid or an alkali, and also has an acid name, hydroxic acid, and an alkaline name, hydrogen hydroxide. Don’t memorize them; neither are widely used.

8. This may come as a shock, but pure water has a low electrical conductivity. Naturally occurring water always has impurities; even in tiny amounts these salts enhance water’s conductivity.

9. Ice is a general term for the 14 known solid states of water. Why ice is slippery is still a matter of scientific controversy.

10. Ninety-seven percent of the earth’s surface water is contained in the immense bowls of saline soup we call oceans. (Water, water, everywhere and all that.)