O Canada, We Hold Our Pee for Thee

A few days after the Canadian men’s hockey team won the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympic games, the city of Edmonton’s water utility published an incredible graph of water consumption. Since up to 80% of Canadians were watching the game, it stands to reason they would wait for a break in the action to use the bathroom.

Also, it being a gold medal game, there were no commercial. So how did that look? It looked like this:

Then the Globe and Mail took notice, and found out that “Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator reported a 300 megawatt increase in power use just before the game started as people fired up their TVs.”

That caused the City of Toronto to take a look at its own water usage during the game:

(The Torontoist blog has a post with a full-size graphic.)

They look about the same, don’t they? Seems like Canada is full of people with patriotic bladders. Which goes to show what a relief Sidney Crosby’s goal was, in more ways than one.

The Glass Is Half-Full, But Only if You’re Wearing Underwear

Part of my day job involves updating our company’s intranet home page, and I had a short announcement to post. I had a headline in mind, and thought the perfect thing to accompany the announcement would be a photo of a glass of water that was exactly half-full (you know, to allude to the old pessimist/optimist routine).

I had all the tools I needed to do my own: glass, water, digital camera, Photoshop. But it takes time and a place to shoot and all that. Besides, our company does a fair bit of design work for brochures and other publications, and we have a subscription to a stock photo collection for just such a purpose.

So I logged in, and there were photos of glasses of water:


Not quite what I was looking for, so I kept searching.


These are close, but a little too generous with the water. (And why do the ice cubes look like creatures from the X-Files?)


You’ll find many a model in a state of Zolofted good cheer, and some exuding faux-sensuality, but I drilled, baby, drilled, and I couldn’t find a photo of a half-full glass of water.

In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a single pessimistic image in a stock photo gallery, which is to say there are no half-full glasses. There are empty glasses, and there are full glasses, but there are no half-empty or mostly empty glasses (I suppose because that would be, like, a bummer).


I did find this weird little dude, waiting patiently for the designer searching for a photo of a child executive with kidney problems and conjunctivitis.

Then I saw this next image:


Not sure what I’m supposed to think about this one. “Nothing says refreshment like a pubescent boy in tighty whities”? Yeesh! I immediately logged off and went to go shoot my own photo.

It’s World Water Day! (Maybe)

World Water Day is either today (Mar. 20) or Saturday (Mar. 22). (Apparently on the United Nations website, the dates are a bit, um, fluid.)

Here in the US, we waste water like it’s going out of style. But according to the United Nations Secretary General, in the developing world a child dies every 15 seconds because of thirst or water-related disease.

This week at thousands of participating restaurants, you can donate $1 for the water you’d usually get for free (find a directory of them on the Tap Project website). Or you can donate directly to the Tap Project, which supports UN clean-water programs.

For every dollar raised, a child in need will have 40 days of clean drinking water.

P.S. – This is a repost of the sustainability tip I put in my company’s newsletter. Just FYI.