Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Bottle Millionaire?

If you ever go out to Arizona, one of the chief attractions that you want to see....is the Grand Canyon.  Now, there is this interesting aspect of traveling around Arizona....your need for water.

I spent almost four years living there, and came to realize early on, that you always needed a bottle of water with you in the car.  Even in March....temperatures around the state hang near 90 degrees already.  Even up at the Canyon area....temperatures in July can be fairly close to a hundred degrees.

This week, the folks who run the park at the Grand Canyon....decided that they had a problem and they had to fix it.  There were too many plastic bottles around the roads and parking areas.  So they've banned the sale of water in plastic bottles within the park.

There will be around a dozen "water-stations" placed within the Canyon park area.  You can drive up....pull  out your plastic bottle that you have with you, and refill it.  This is being done....to force you into changing your habits (at least the park folks think this).

It's a curious thing.  I read on and checked various sources.  The concessionaire business in the park can still sell Pepsi, Coke and Mountain Dew (in bottles or cans).  They still offer Lipton Ice Tea, and forty-four different diet, pretend-to-diet, or almost-diet drinks.  And you can still apparently buy lots of coffee in small or large plastic cups.  Just no water in bottles.

It's an odd change to the way folks arrive to see the Canyon.  When you go back to the 1800s and how just about everyone had a canteen that they dragged around with them and they all sipped pretty lousy-tasting water (mostly because the age of the canteen, and the general source of water in the first place).

We have become accustomed to Wal-Mart water, Piggly Wiggly water, Alaskan glacier water, Canadian water, almost-Sulfer-Springs water, purified water, gaseous bubbles water, French glacier water (my favorite), diet water, and even peachy-tasting water.  I'm guessing that the Canyon folks just won't be able to offer this variety at their various water-stations, and folks will be dismayed.

So in the weeks to come....this guy is going to open up a water shop about a mile outside the Grand Canyon park....called H20-Plus.  He'll sell one hundred and sixty-eight different varieties of water, all in plastic bottles.  Folks will buy it by the case....because of the sign out front...."last stop for real water before the Canyon".  My guess is that the Canyon management folks won't notice much of a change with fewer bottles laying around roads and parking lots.  They may cite statistics or just smile to say it's a evolving thing, but no matter what....their plan will be a success.  And the water dude outside the park?  He'll be a millionaire within two years....just selling stupid fizzy water glacier water, in plastic bottles.

Only in America.

The Snow That Never Came

Ever since the mini six-hour blizzard that Washington DC suffered in 2011....everyone is hyper in the region about the prediction for snow.  Our little miniature blizzard from last year was an awkward episode.  It was never supposed to reach DC, but it did.  The temperature really wasn't much below 31 degrees, but the snow came down in such abundance and turned into a huge amount of slush.  So when the government did agree to send folks home by 2PM, it was already too late.  Some folks didn't get home until 10PM that night.  Sadly, there probably wasn't more than three or four inches that fell, and in Alaska.....folks would just laugh over a situation like that.

So today, the weather folks came up with this awkward snow prediction, that sounded fairly similar to the 2011 episode.  By 10AM, they had decided to let folks do liberal leave or work from home.  So around lunch, a huge herd of folks just packed and left their government offices in DC.

I didn't even find out about the liberal leave policy until almost 1:30 in the afternoon.  I checked the weather temperature, and we were still around 37 degrees.  Nothing made sense about this at all.

When I finally left around 4PM....I came to find a steady drizzle, and the temperature was still around 37 degrees.  Still no snow.  The weather guys were talking about real snow to the southern valley region of Virginia and up into Maryland.....but the entire mess had missed us.  The eighth of February will be forever noted for the mini-blizzard that never was, and not much else.

My Job

This is a true story.

I work in the bowels of the Pentagon, in deepest part of the basement....next to the bedrock.  I work in a vaulted area which has the regular entry doors, and this extra set of double-doors as a back entrance.  You only open up the back-entrance when you have pallets of equipment to bring into the area....otherwise, they stay shut all the time.

Normally, up until the last week.....when we opened the double-doors.....we called up the Pentagon security guys....Gus, Joe and Betty Lou.....who just asked us to spell our names and noted the time we opened the alarmed back-door area.  This week, they decided to shift us over to a closer security detail....which is made up of all US military folks, who are pretty hardcore dedicated to the idea of protecting "something" (it could be a tent, a merry-go-round, or nuclear plant.....they take it all pretty serious).

So I've got a pallet of stuff that has arrived at the door and I need to open it....to bring it in.  I called up the new number and "Sarge" answers.  I let Sarge know that I'm in such-and-such room and that I'm opening up the door.  There's a pause here....because I'm expecting him to ask for the spelling of my name.

But no, Sarge comes back....asking me who ordered me to open this door.

I'm from Bama.....so I'm pausing here for about ten seconds....thinking of this question as trick situation.  I finally answer...."well, I ordered myself to open the door".

I can tell that Sarge wasn't expecting that, and it took him about ten seconds to grasp what I meant by that. So then he asks...."why are you opening the door?"

I'm pausing again, thinking that this is trick question number two, and then answer...."well, to get to the other side".

I'm getting the impression that Sarge is not happy with my answers.  He comes at me now with rapid fire questions....name, organization, rank, favorite NFL team, best NCAA bowl game, etc.  I eventually help him fill out a half page of various topics and answers.  Then he finally says that I have his approval to open the door.

After I finished up my business....I called the same number and got junior Sarge, who just wrote the room number down, and thanked me.  Maybe I was just lucky.....I'm not sure.  I know that we really need first class protection in the Pentagon and am fairly proud of the folks who walk around....prepared to take on any threat without question.  But bluntly, I don't them want asking too many questions in the performance of their jobs.  And if they start asking stupid questions.....it's pretty good odds that I'm just not going to answer them the right way.