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And now for my second tale of local government information and intrigue from Tacoma, Washington.
I live in a 1920’s era house, and I have to admit that sometimes the first spurts of water out of the tap are slightly rusty (nothing to worry about, the plumber assures me, as if anyone would believe that). But in this past month, I noticed that the water had a slightly tinted look to it, even after I’d let it run for a while. It wasn’t anywhere near as cloudy as the tap water I’d seen in Vancouver BC last year when I visited that city during a boil-water advisory. No, this tinted water looked a little off, tasted fine, didn’t seem to kill me, and froze right up into sort of mod-looking ice cubes. Normally, I’m skiddish about such things, but I didn’t think too long and hard about my not-quite-right water. I was thirsty, so I’d been drinking it anyway.
I was suprised to see in last week’s mail, mixed in with the Val-pak coupons, cable TV come-ons, and various unwanted bills, a blanket-mailing to all Tacoma residents from the Tacoma Public Utilities water management superintendent. The content of the letter said basically, hey, the water’s yellow, we know about it, it’s a normal seasonal occurence, and it happens when naturally-present iron and manganese pass through our treatment process. Problems or concerns? There’s a phone number I can call. I didn’t call it, because I felt satisfied with the information, but I’m glad the phone number is available.
Mass mailings direct from government, aside from those related to taxes or elections, have always interested to me. Here at work, we have agreed that the nuclear fallout shelter designs from FEMA, delivered en masse to American doorsteps through the early 1980s (as near as we can figure), are some of the most seductive. By far our favorite is Home Fallout Shelter: Snack Bar, Basement Location, Plan D. I went trolling about on Worldcat, the open web, and Google Books, looking for a digitized copy from a .gov or .edu. Found one on a web site called Millionaire Playboy(TM) which I approached with trepidation; it appears that Millionaire Playboy(TM) is a commercial outfit that reviews and sells kitsch to the pop culture and video gaming communities. Why have these folks beaten us to the digitizing of these government classics, which they’ve no doubt gotten from a federal depository library (or from some hopeless collector with a worse hoarding impulse than mine)? (Scroll down to the bottom of this off-putting Mr. Stinkhead column and you’ll see a bunch of them.)
I’m signing off for the day. The web has wearied me. I’ve rambled too long, when all I wanted to tell you about was my yellow tap water and how my local public utility gave me the resources to learn more about it.