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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't Flush!

Life in Jackson, Mississippi has been a bit dirty the last few days. If you don't live in the area, be sure to catch up on the latest dealing with our bursting water main problem! I am happy to report that my water has almost returned to its normal clear and sparkling self. (I'd put it at a beige right now.) The biggest inconvenience for me involves the toilet. Mine is still down for the count!

By the way, have you ever thought about how many words there are out there for the facilities? Americans use the restroom, the john, the washroom, the bathroom, the can, the powder room, and the comfort station. The British, on the other hand, prefer to visit the toilet, the lavatory, the WC (water closet), the loo, the bog, or the karzy (Allen).

It turns out that many of our pipes here in Jackson are made of cast-iron. While they make repairs on over one hundred water main breaks, our work crews will slowly replace these old pipes. Did you know that cast-iron pipes were used for the first time at Versailles? They were not in general use because the weight of carriages passing caused them to burst (Daumas 455). This little problem was fixed later on!

It also seems that Jackson is not alone in its colorful water. the period from 1855 to 1860 the water supplies of large cities continued to be of dubious quality. London's was reputed to be the worst-even after filtration it retained a yellowish color. Paris water was taken from the Seine at Chaillot, downstream from the river. Water from this source was 'heavily saturated with loathsome matter' (Herve Mangon) (Daumas 458).
I have never had "loathsome matter" in my water. Really, we're not doing half bad!

Daumas, Maurice, ed. A History of Technology and Invention: Progress through the Ages, volume 3. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1979. Print.
"toilet" Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage. Ed. Robert Allen. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Mississippi Library Commission. 13 January 2010.

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