17 April 2014

Three Idiots and a Hero; True Stories

Portland Oregon:

The Portland city water authorities have decided to dump 38,000,000 gallons of treated water from an open reservoir. Sadly, the water is polluted.

Why, you might ask, is the water polluted?

Because some guy pissed in it.

No, this is not a joke. Someone saw a guy urinating through a fence into the reservoir. So they’re going to empty the reservoir.

Since the pollution standards of the EPA are metric, let’s all get on the same page here. 38,000,000 gallons equals 143,640,000 (or so) liters.

Adults urinate four times a day, about 500 mL at a time, for a total of 2 L a day. So for that guy to put out 0.1% of the amount of liquid in the reservoir, he would have to piss in the reservoir exclusively for 393 years.

The amount of urine put into the reservoir in this one little whiz was one part in 286,000,000, or about 0.0034 mg/l.  (milligrams per liter).  This assumes that urine has a specific gravity of 1.0.  Since Portland threw away 143,640,000 liters of water, I’d say that the specific gravity assumption is indeed “close enough for government work.”  (I almost said “pissed away,” but refrained.)

OK, so the fellow who used the reservoir as a pissoir polluted the water to the tune of 0.004 mg/l.

Let’s say he had been pissing benzene. The EPA standard for that is 0.005 mg/L.  That’s the same as the standard for carbon tetrachloride.

You can load water up with arsenic to the tune of 0.01 mg/l; barium, 2 mg/l.  To really pollute the water, the guy would have had to pee 287 kg of arsenic.  Or 143 kg of toluene.

But 0.5 kg of pee?  Darn, that guy has some polluted urine.

God bless the Oregonians for keeping the public safe.

Wait a minute - open reservoir.  Do they let birds fly over?  Oopsie.

Washington, DC:

GM put defective ignition switches in some few million automobiles. The switches may lock up while driving, freezing the steering wheel. There have been numerous accidents, lots of injuries, and some deaths.

GM went bankrupt in 2009. And so it’s asking the Bankruptcy Court to invalidate any injury claims which arose before the bankruptcy. That sounds fairly dirty, but that’s what bankruptcy law is all about.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is one of the politicians all in a lather: “The company should simply do right by these victims and establish a compensation fund that will make them whole.”

Maybe that’s the moral thing to do. This evening, I don’t know.

But one thing I do know is that there is no compensation fund which exists that is going to make these people whole unless it involves a time machine. If someone can go back and un-wreck these people, then maybe they can be made whole. The accidents may have caused money problems and money can fix those. But permanent injuries? Dream on, money doesn’t work.

Other than the fact that the dear Senator has a nonsensical conclusion, I’m not going to throw out any more opinions.

It would just be nice to see anyone in government think clearly.

London, England:

A hair salon in London has posted a photograph of Kim Jong Un, the maximum grand pontiff of North Korea. Okay, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, even though it’s not democratic and not a Republic.

The salon posted a message along with the photo: “Bad hair day? 15% off all gent cuts through the month of April.”

Kim Jong Un’s white sidewalls and fuzzy top represent what is commonly deemed a fairly unattractive haircut.

Okay, moderately funny little joke. I remember when I was a kid driving past a tombstone company.  On the sign was a picture of a tombstone with the word “Khrushchev.” I thought that was pretty funny at the time. Now, it would be fairly dull and I’m not sure I’d give the hair salon sign more than a minuscule uptick from one side of my mouth.

On the other hand, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has made a demand of the British Foreign Office to “stop the provocation.”

Now that would be funny if North Korea didn’t have the odd nuke laying around.  You have to wonder what the Bad Hair Boy will  do if he ever gets a rocket that works.

And amidst all of the idiocy:

One of my buddies e-mailed me today and reminded me that 28 years ago this month, he and I ran an emergency call together. It was a rollover of a fire engine, and a friend of ours was killed, thus widowing another friend of ours.

This was an extremely chaotic scene until we figured out that there was not much we could do. My buddy Tom was chief at the time but he was so close to the victim, Bill Van Gilder, that he passed the scene to me.  That wasn’t a big deal -  Mostly, I just tried to chase rubberneckers away, including a state police helicopter which insisted on landing on my scene to “help out.”

Bill was a big, strong guy with a big, strong and loving heart. He was a volunteer doing dangerous work for his neighbors.

Why can’t the nitwits in government pay attention to the important rather than the trivial, the stupid or the fluff?

Just wonderin’.

There are a lot of us remembering our brother Bill tonight.


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