I recently returned from a trip to Scotland where I attended a meeting of international researchers in the field of water supply and drainage (what we typically call "plumbing"). It was fascinating to attend this meeting, where 40 countries were represented and a total of 26 technical papers were presented. Fortunately for me, the meeting's official language was English.
As a proud American, I was disappointed to see how far behind we have fallen in plumbing research and the design of plumbing piping systems. This is especially apparent in the area of DWV and storm drainage. Most of our plumbing is based on research conducted more than 60 years ago. Very little of the recent advances in piping systems has made it into our plumbing codes. Furthermore, of the systems that have made it into our codes, the majority of the plumbing industry has rejected these advances.
The meeting had numerous papers on the various problems in plumbing in other parts of the world. Water conservation, drain line stoppages, failed plumbing systems, collapsed piping and unlicensed plumbers seem to be universal throughout the world. These are not just problems in the United States.
Down The DrainA speaker from England presented one of the most interesting papers to the group. Mind you, this was a Ph.D type. He epitomized the statement that we are two countries divided by a common language. When he started mentioning certain products, I knew I was in a foreign country. His paper was on the subject of substances people throw down the water closet, besides human waste. Some of the substances the English throw down the toilet include "cotton buds" and "nappies." If you are like me, you are probably asking, "What is a cotton bud and a nappy?"
After a few minutes, the speaker provided the translation of the words. A cotton bud is a cotton swab or Q-tip, and a nappy is a disposable diaper.
Imagine, in the UK people are routinely throwing these and other objects into the water closet. Their surveys indicate that people don't like having bins (wastebaskets) in the bathroom. The speaker described the various items that are fouling up the sewage treatment systems. In addition to the cotton buds and nappies, they are flushing every conceivable feminine hygiene product, paper towels, tissues, syringes and condoms. We listened to graphic descriptions of all of these products. There were even wonderful photographs of how they foul up the sewage treatment facility.
To solve this problem, they have been trying all sorts of public awareness campaigns, but the response has not been great. So they resorted to modern technology in an attempt to educate the public. They developed a computer game!
The name of the computer game is "Catch the Jobby." We needed a translator again. A jobby is the slang term they use in the UK to describe the solid form of human waste, as in poop. The computer game was É different to say the least. There is a toilet (water closet) with the seat in the up position on the bottom of the computer screen. From the upper part of the screen, items fall out of the sky into the toilet - jobbies, tissue, syringes, used condoms, cotton buds, nappies and tampons.
There is a container located above the toilet that is used to catch the items falling from the sky. The object of the game is to catch all of the items you are not supposed to throw in the toilet by moving the container above the toilet, while letting the jobbies go by.<
What Jolly Fun!And here we were, cracking up about this game. A question was raised as to whom this game was designed for. The speaker said they had distributed the game to grade school children and it had been well received. Everyone in attendance was then offered a copy of the game (to be sent at a later date).
I jumped at the opportunity. Every year, I try to come up with a gift to present the readers during the holidays. Not being a rich man, it is difficult to buy each of you a present. So I thought the next best thing would be to offer you a copy of "Catch the Jobby."
Imagine sitting around the tree on Christmas morning, enjoying the fire burning in the fireplace and playing "Catch the Jobby" on the computer. See how many cotton buds, nappies and condoms you can stop, and how many jobbies make it through to the toilet. I am sure it will be fun for the whole family. After all, how many other educational plumbing games are out there?
The trick is getting you a copy of "Catch the Jobby." So I am going to drive the Webmaster for PM crazy by asking him to arrange for "Catch the Jobby" to be downloadable via the Internet. As soon as I receive a copy from England, I will ask PM to post it. All you need to do is click on www.PMmag.com, and presto, "Catch the Jobby" will be yours for the asking.
While you're enjoying your own personal copy of "Catch the Jobby," remember to have a Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas, and the very best of a Y2K. May your next year be more prosperous than this last year.