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Posts Tagged ‘infrastructure’

This video’s a little older yet I’ll bet modern t.p. manufacturing methods are remarkably similar. If nothing else, it’s strangely relaxing to watch.

My grandma, who grew up in the Midwest during the Depression, said that the Sears Roebuck catalog was something you ordered from, read voraciously, and wiped with. Yep, it hung on a hook in the corner of the outhouse. When you were done reading it, you cleaned with it.

This man says that he’s solved America’s toilet paper crisis…

What do you know… Grandma would be tickled pink to know the toilet paper of 80-some years ago is making a comeback.

***BIG CAUTION!!*** Please do not flush anything other than human waste and regular store-bought toilet paper. Even though wipes and other products marketed as flushable may go down the toilet, they do not break down like toilet paper. This can and does cause sewer backups, which are especially unsanitary considering that COVID-19 can live in feces. We don’t need this virus erupting onto our lawns and streets, then draining into our streams, ponds, and lakes. Most storm drains do not go to a treatment plant, but directly into our waterways.

You can read more about the dangers of wipes in my older posts, Those Wascally Wipes and The Truth About Wipes.

Just before I posted this, I found that The Moron Brothers, a bluegrass comedy duo from Kentucky, has come out with yet another hilarious social commentary– and it mentions the Sears catalog!

Success is like toilet paper, it only seems important when you don’t have it.

Richard Jeni

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.

A.A. Milne

How many bridges do you see in the above photo? This is the bridge across the Sammamish Slough in Kenmore, Washington, known simply as the slough in localese.

As you drive to or from Kenmore on 68th Avenue NE, which is called Juanita Drive NE just a bit farther south, you pass over a mundane looking concrete structure at the slough. Unless you’re stuck in traffic and thinking about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, you might not give much thought to the fact that you’re on a bridge.

There are three bridges in the above photo. You can’t really tell this from above. But you can from down below.

It is not very safe to go under the north end of the bridges. But you can access their underbellies from the boat launch on the south side of the slough. At least for a few more days. The West Sammamish River Bridge Project begins next week.

The bridge that carries southbound traffic is being replaced. This will affect traffic on this route, which is commonly used by those avoiding tolls on the SR 520 bridge, for two years. It is being replaced because the structure was built in the 1930s. It’s old.

This is the southbound bridge, the one that had weight restrictions placed on it a few years ago. The northbound bridge was built in the 1970s, and it’s been deemed suitable to stay for a while.

Didn’t I say three bridges though? You’re looking at the third in this photo. As the Depression-era southbound bridge is torn out, what remains of the original 1917 bridge will be destroyed as well.

The 1930s bridge was built in the footprints of the 1917 bridge. I’ve asked around to find out if there are plans to preserve any of this for posterity and I do not believe there are. I was told that the 103 year-old pilings will probably fall apart when they’re pulled out. (Have you tried kicking one? You’ll shatter your phlanges.)

The Vintage King County Facebook page has a photo of the Kenmore bridge construction from way back. They actually have many fascinating photos of bridges. This site is so rich in local history that I need to issue a strong warning to anyone who likes to peek into the past– exercise self-control. You can become so enraptured by browsing the photos at Vintage King County that you’ll stay up all night eating Cheetos while your eyeballs bleed.

All of these photos were taken from the south side looking north. Last time I was under the north side we called the King County Sheriff because of a body sticking out from under a wadded-up tarp. I assumed the person was asleep or unconscious, but we didn’t know if they were dead or lying in wait either. There was zero movement and the upper half of their body was covered. There have been encampments and questionable activity under there for some time.

This is still embedded in the ground and probably has been for over a century. But it too will go the way of the dodo. By the way, if you really want to geek out about bridges, Bridgehunter.com is like the Spatula City of bridge websites. Here are some examples of other 1930s bridges.

This is what I tell myself in antiques stores: look up! You often find the most intriguing relics when you elevate your eyes. In this case we can see where the 1970s bridge and the 1930s bridge meet. From above, this isn’t nearly as noticeable.

Standing here felt somewhat sci fi, like a factory fight scene in Highlander, so I had to tweak it a little for effect.

Here again are the Disconnect of Diplomatic Ties to Germany era bridge, the Depression era bridge, and the Disco era bridge. The middle bridge, the one that will start to disappear just days from now, has the most character.

The vandals with their spray paint have decorated the north side many times. Funny part is, no one knows what the heck they’re trying to say.

The ’70s side is really just a big slab. It is the very definition of utilitarian. Perhaps it felt modern and exciting when it was constructed.

The anchors and cables and such on the ’30s side are intriguing. I couldn’t quite figure out why everything was placed where it was. I’m not an expert on seismic retrofits either.

I am intrigued by this coffee can on a shelf feature. If you know what it is, please leave a comment below.

Yep, I know. I can’t stop taking these past, present, future pictures. But can you name another place– anywhere– where you get to see parts of bridges from three different time periods at once?

Any civil engineers reading this? I’d love to have you break this down for me. Trusses, caps, …? I have many questions about how things are joined together at this point. The picture doesn’t quite capture my conundrum. You’d really have to be standing there looking at it. And you only have a few more days to do so.

Hmm… how this takes the weight it does is amazing.

This is exactly why I need to take the tripod along with my point & shoot. I was standing on the metal walkway over the river… not exactly a stable platform. The river has been full and muddy because of the recent deluge.

I kept returning to this spot. It was like the structural incarnation of Gary Numan’s The End of Things:

Are you the end of things come calling?
Are you the answer that I’ve wished for?

Everything’s so cold, the air is so still
And there is nothing here but me
If I belong here, and this is mercy
Then there is no place I’d rather be

Sammamish Slough ducks are the friendliest I’ve ever met. These three followed me all over as I was taking the photos. They’d get out and walk around me, probably hoping I had some people snacks. I learned too late in life that bread isn’t good for them; there are better options. I wonder how many cases of duck diabetes I caused in my childhood.

Say goodbye to the tufted totems, the mud that undoubtedly contains all manner of treasures… The only way I would have been allowed to poke around in it was to get a prohibitively expensive right-of-way permit from the city.

Bridges don’t just carry people. They carry other pieces of our infrastructure. This contributes to why modifying or replacing them is so complicated. Many agencies are involved.

Looking west. Just around the bend is Lake Washington. This is a busy place in the summer. Today it was me, a local, and the ducks.

Teds or Feed or whoever you are, no one knows what you mean or cares.

Let me take a long last look…

If you are between 9’0″ and 9’4″, it doesn’t matter. Duck.

It’s just metal. But I couldn’t help but notice its resemblance to a broken Paleo-Hebrew mem, which meant water.

How many people walk by and don’t even know what this is?

This too shall pass. A few more.

Besides the ducks, cormorants like to hang out on the slough as well. Once again, shoulda brought the tripod… I was guilty of talking while attempting a zoomed in shot as well.

Good bye, old bridges. I hope I can grab a piece of you before they haul you away for good.

He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dûm his wisdom died.

Tolkien

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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“That’s not a water tower,” you say. You’re right. On the north side of Highlands Park in Kirkland, Washington are five curious monuments on top of a hill. They are the footings of an old metal water tower that had been removed by the mid-1980s.

X marks the spot where the legs used to stand. There are four such blocks, each of which has weathered differently. You can see where large metal bolts were sheared off on either side of the X.

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Block two…

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Block three…

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Block four.

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The center block lacks the distinctive markings but has a different shape.

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This is what the tower used to look like, courtesy of the Seattle Times, who was recently asked to find this photo by a local resident. Thank you to Kari Page at the City of Kirkland for sharing it.

Highlands Water Tower Seattle Times.jpg

Further north, on the lush green hillside of Holmes Point, resides an old wooden tank on the south side of the northern leg of Holmes Point Drive. Confused? That’s okay. I’ve hesitated to mention this for years because of the damage people could do to it. Nature has already taken a heavy toll.

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Last I knew, King County owns this property because someone stopped paying taxes on it and it didn’t sell at auction because… you can’t build on it. It was the headquarters of the Inglewood Park Water District.

The Inglewood Park Water District served 40 homes in the Holmes Point area for a while and was operational in 1972 according to a local resident I spoke with who bought her home nearby. She was the secretary-treasurer for the association and still has many of its records.

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This wonderful lady said the water came down the hill from the St. Edward Seminary to that lot—the seminary is the centerpiece of the St. Edward State Park. The shed is a pump house and the taller structure was the water tank.

The Inglewood Park Water District paid a neighbor’s two teenage sons to put chlorine in the tank every month and called it “blessed water” because it came from the seminary.

In time people started hooking up to “city” water (presumably the Northshore Utility District’s, which provides water in that area today), so their water district disbanded. Evidently there was $6000 in Inglewood Park’s account at that time and it went to someone’s mother’s estate.

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Now time is eating away at these delightful old structures as they are gradually absorbed into the surrounding environment. The most excitement they see nowadays is the daredevil skateboarders who cruise down Holmes Point Drive at breakneck speeds.

One went by as I was taking these photos and did some sort of disco/flag semaphore signal move as if to say, “look at me!” I expected him to veer off the road and take out a tree, but his curiously contrasting skinny body and oversized helmet whizzed off around the corner like a space alien rushing to get to their battlestation.

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For many of us, clean water is so plentiful and readily available that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider what life would be like without it. -Marcus Samuelsson

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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King County No Flush

On September 9th, Dr. Oz featured the truth about “flushable” wipes on his program.

Dr. Oz – Wipes Part 1

Dr. Oz – Wipes Part 2

Some of you will recall my post on this topic from last year, Those Wascally Wipes, in which I discussed how most wipes don’t break apart like toilet paper does. This is why wastewater treatment agencies across the globe are telling people that only the three Ps should go down the toilet– pee, poop, and (toilet) paper.

Two days prior to Dr. Oz’s show, Bloomberg featured an excellent piece on this topic called Flush-Defying Wipes Bedevil Cities as Sewers Surrender by Henry Goldman. It begins:

The ancient Greeks used clay and stone; the Romans, sponges and salt water. Americans made do with rags, newspapers or mail-order catalogs until 1890 when the Scott brothers popularized toilet paper on a roll.

Only in the past decade have grownups seized upon moist “flushable” wipes similar to those that clean baby bottoms, a product that has become a prized asset in a flat market. Accelerating sales are demonstrated inside the world’s sewers, where tons clog equipment. From New York to London, the hygiene fad costs governments millions of dollars a year.

Since visiting a sewer treatment plant in this episode, Dr. Oz now recommends moistening toilet paper rather than using wipes to clean up after doing your business. Even so, there’s a statement and links to videos from one of the major wipes manufacturers, Kimberly-Clark, on his website. While Kimberly-Clark says that only some of their wipes are flushable, unfortunately people who’ve seen Dr. Oz’s show are trumpeting online, “don’t flush wipes– except for Kimberly-Clark’s.”

The wise thing to do is not flush any wipes at all whether or not they claim to be flushable on the package. They’re not going to break apart as well as toilet paper regardless of the brand. Many contain plastic. They might be flushable in the sense that they make it past your toilet, but then they can clog up pipes and the treatment plant. To protect our aging infrastructure and the environment, we shouldn’t flush wipes. Wipes can and have contributed to major sewer overflows– and all that unsanitary waste and garbage can go right into storm drains and then straight to ponds, streams, and lakes.

Besides the resources mentioned in my other post, JWC Environmental tracks some of the damage wipes do on their No More Wipes page. It’s worth a look.

The bottom line is that if you choose to use wipes, please make the simple decision not to flush them. They can go into the garbage just like everything else that doesn’t belong in the toilet. If we can’t stop putting things into our sewer system and septic tanks that don’t belong, we’ll soon need little WALL-E robots to follow us around and clean up after us. Then WALL-Es might evolve into Cylons and as Cylons they’ll invent Skynet… flushing wipes just doesn’t lead to a good outcome any way you look at it.

I, for one, will feel very stupid if, a thousand years from now, archaeologists find that our society perished in a catastrophic sewer overflow triggered by our swanky hygiene habits. Yeah. D’oh.

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If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen? –Steven Wright

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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World Toilet Day

Thank you to intrepid WordPress blogger T.V. Raj for reminding me that November 19th is World Toilet Day.

This is not a joke nor is it meant to be crude. Sanitation is a monumental issue for billions of people. See CNN’s piece on World Toilet Day and World Toilet Day.org for more information. (more…)

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From United Utilities, UK

From United Utilities, UK

This is a song that every toddler should learn along with Twinkle Twinkle, The Wheels on the Bus, and Mah Na Mah Na:

Our infrastructure might depend on it. (more…)

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