Tag Archives: Los Angeles

water usage rates

I was born in L.A. in the 80s, during a bad drought. My parents drilled it into my brothers and me to conserve, conserve, conserve our water. I took baths with my brothers, my mom let her lawns go yellow and dry, and I got yelled at by my dad whenever I washed my hands for longer than a few seconds. And we never got to play in the water during hot summer months.

I also remember there was a public service announcement ad which ran on tv during my childhood that flabbergasted me. In it was a simple animation of a kid in a bathroom brushing his teeth and letting the sink faucet run water all the while. Right outside the bathroom was a small pond with a fish in it, and the running sink drained the pond nearly dry. Even now I don’t understand. What in the world do people need to run their sinks for when they’re standing around, brushing their teeth?

Currently L.A.’s water resources are running low, impacted both by low rainfall the past few years and an expanding population.

With all this history, I like to be aware of how much water I’m using.

So when one issue of National Geographic came, it didn’t have the usual Nat Geo map insert but an advertisement by Dow for something called Blue Planet Run 2007. Dow also included some numbers about water usage.

(2007? Wow, it took me a long time to get around to writing this entry!)

Some facts (or claims?) they list about water usage:

  • A shower can use 25 to 50 gallons of water.
  • Leaving the water running while brushing your teeth can waste up to 5 gallons. [GRRRR ARRRRGH]
  • The average full-tub bath takes 36 gallons.
  • One flush of toilet uses as much water as the average person in the developing world uses in a whole day.

That last factoid was something I already knew. It makes me feel guilty sometimes when I flush the toilet. With just one simple flick of the toilet handle, I essentially toss out clean water, about the same amount of water that some other people have to walk miles for, carrying buckets of water back home over a number of trips, in one day. And I flush multiple times a day! But then I remember back to when I was a kid and learned the rhyme, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.” (Shudder.)

The other numbers made me curious, what were the flow rates of my family’s faucets? Over the years we’ve bought different faucets and installed water limiters on a couple of them. So exactly how much water came out of these fixtures?

My procedure was to turn on the faucet full blast and see how long it took to fill a four-pint container. (Equal to half a gallon.) This isn’t entirely scientific because I didn’t repeat my procedure enough times to get a good range of data. But I’m not doing this for science, it’s just out of curiosity. (I’d say my numbers are accurate within two more or less seconds.)

The results:

  • kitchen sink, which is the newest faucet in the house, 20 seconds
  • my bathroom sink, the oldest faucet, also has a water limiter, 23 seconds
  • my brother’s bathroom sink, the second-oldest faucet, had a water limiter but my brother switched it out, 20 seconds
  • my parents’ bathroom sink, newer than the previous two faucets, it’s upstairs so my mom thought the pressure difference would influence the time, 21 seconds.
  • the shower in my parents’ bathroom, 32 seconds
  • the bathtub in my parents’ bathroom, 4 seconds
  • the hose outside, 2 seconds

Basically, the faucets all run about the same rate except for my faucet being a tiny bit slower. (My mom was kind of upset with the new kitchen faucet, because the lower flow takes her more time to fill the sinks to wash dishes. I never timed the old faucets to compare.)

According to Dow, 5 gallons would be wasted from our faucets if we brushed our teeth for 3 minutes and 20 seconds. That’s a healthy duration; dentists recommend about 3 minutes. But that’s if the water is running full blast, both hot and cold. Nevermind why someone runs the water while brushing their teeth, why would someone run the water full blast?

Moving on, our shower runs a lot more slowly than anything else in the house. It’s a water-conserving shower head, most likely. But this just further proves my point about why I don’t use the shower: it takes forever to rinse the shampoo out of my full head of thick hair. Double that time now, too, since I started using conditioner.

(Ideally I would like a shower head with variable rates of water flow, from high enough to rinse out my hair within seconds, to turning off the water without having to touch the handles which I’ve adjusted to exactly the temperature I want. :P But my brother likes the shower head we have, and he uses it most often.)

The rate of water flow from the bathtub faucet by itself doesn’t mean much. Regardless of how high or low the water flow rate is, the tub is going to be filled to the bather’s liking. But what I did do with the information was time how long it took to fill my bath, then multiply by the rate of flow to find out how much water I use in my bath.

What I found out was that I obviously don’t turn on the water full blast when drawing my bath. It’s somewhere more like 50% to 75%, which takes 5.7 seconds and 4.6 seconds, respectively. Not too drastic a difference, but for the sake of simplification I’ll go with 5 seconds to fill half a gallon. At that rate, and about 3 minutes and 10 seconds to draw my bath, I use 20 or so gallons.

(Yes, I draw very shallow baths. I don’t like showers and love baths, but not at the expense of “36 gallons,” according to Dow’s average. Don’t worry, I’m an environmentalist. I suffer for Mother Earth.)

A 20-gallon bath would be less than Dow’s numbers for a shower, but my shower head is water conserving. A 15-minute shower in my house would use up only 15 gallons. We could take a luxurious 20-minute shower and still only use about 20 gallons!

Of course, if I have to spend those 5 extra minutes rinsing out my hair, and cursing the shower head all the while, I don’t see the point. (Yes, I suppose I did go through all this data gathering to justify why, in L.A., I choose water-hogging baths over water-saving showers. *grin*)

I gathered the last datum just on a whim. I’d measured every other water fixture in our house, why not the one outside, located at the very source? (That being the water main.) I expected it to be about the same as the bathtub, I mean the hose isn’t all that big. But surprisingly, the tub faucet’s flow rate is twice as long for the same amount of water!

What could I extrapolate from this information that would have some significance? We don’t use the hose to water the gardens, but we do use it to wash our cars. Aha! So at 2 seconds to fill half a gallon, or 4 seconds for one gallon, letting the hose run while washing the car for say 10 minutes would use up 150 gallons. 150 gallons! That would provide enough water for 100 people in third-world countries!

Don’t you appreciate having running water in your home so much more now? Doesn’t it make you want to use it wisely, so we don’t run out of clean water in the future? I sure hope it does.

playing catch-up (not catsup)

Quick post, since I haven’t updated in a while and I don’t want to be overwhelmed with whatall I haven’t talked about whenever I do get the time to actually write out a post nicely.

Saturday went with Mum, C, and Noelle and her family to Japan Expo. X) It was fun. This year we watched a bit of dancing (last year we watched a bit of kendo [?] and the year before that we watched nothing). Mum thinks it was from the north. Interesting. I have no concept of north and south in Japan. Well maybe extreme south, like the islands or something. I just know Tokyo vs the country.

I bought lots of stuff. :o I brought my $90 of allowance that I hadn’t collected during the school quarter, and I think I left with about $20. *shifty eyed* (I’d planned a MasterCard-type post, nevermind how overplayed that is, but since I’m so brilliant [I’d planned another post with the title “how brilliant am I?” *snicker*), I brought my camera and laptop home over the weekend but forgot the cable, then brought my camera back to school and left my laptop home [I was only going to be there for two days], then I brought my camera home but I forgot the cable! So the list of all the stuff I bought will have to wait until next week.)

Afterwards we went to J-town and went to the Curry House. *drooool* I had a seafood curry. Shrimp, scallop, and squid. :o I had squid! I dunno which white lump it was, but it was all good. XD Went to the Kinokuniya there. First time there. It’s big. o_o It had Kera and most of the Gothic & Lolita Bibles (just didn’t have the first issue). I would have bought one, but I wanted to buy something at a store later (it ended up not having anything good though, boo).

Even when we were there, I was glad I didn’t live in L.A. hahaha! Yes, it’s bad enough on the Westside, traffic-wise, but it’s home. I couldn’t live in SLO. There’s nothing there. SLO and Downtown L.A.: nice places to visit, wouldn’t want to live there. (Oh wait, I technically do live in SLO.)

Um, Friday night when I drove home with C, we left at 2:50 and hit traffic in Santa Barbara, then got through Ventura and hit traffic going up to Calabasas. We got home about 7:30. *was dead* I wanted to stop at the outlet mall at around 6 so I could buy dinner (I was hungry ;.;) but C didn’t want me to. grrr. So to prove to him why I didn’t want to drive, and to prove to myself I could do it, I drove. I know I don’t make sense. :) When I’m angry, I’m contradictory. (And C thought we were near the Getty when we were near Lost Hills. HAHAHA not on your life bub.)

I got off the 101 at Ventura Blvd. Was gonna drive down Beverly Glen (wheee!) but C saw Sepulveda and asked to go there. From there I got on the 405 since it looked good and got off at Santa Monica, to Westwood, then home. My odometer read only 196.6 miles. Weird.

But Tuesday night it was really nice (except for the thick fog in Santa Maria o_o), we left at 8:15 and got home around 11ish. I was a lot less tired after that drive. XD Noooo traffic. Well except around the 101/405 interchange. But it wasn’t bad at all.

Hm. Monday went to class and lab and in lab we worked on HTML. I just halfheartedly worked at the exercise then I started reading web standards stuff. XD Which reminds me, I have to make a webpage before Monday. meep.

Tuesday, lecture lab lecture. First lecture had a quiz. Hope I did all right. *furtive glance* Lab, turned in project (for future reference, I can’t stand white matting). Uh, after that … I tried catching up on the notes I haven’t rewritten, but then I read my friends list on Livejournal and I got sidetracked ’cause someone posted a link on the Something Positive feed to funny cat pictures, which I spent about maybe 2 hours looking at and saving pictures. XD;;;

Yesterday … I didn’t really do anything. And that’s it.

Natalie Portman and heels

I’d always wondered why Natalie Portman wore heels. It would seem like a person like Natalie Portman, who is empowered and seeks knowledge and … I don’t know what else, would be against something so opressing and … not exactly demeaning … as heels.

I’m not totally against heels. I’d wear 2-inch heels if I ever found shoes I liked that were comfortable, and wouldn’t cause me to hurt my back or tendons or anything (if worn for a long time). But I won’t go higher than that. It seems stupid to me. Ruin parts of my body, just to look “better” by other people’s standards?

Take Sarah Jessica Parker. She hurt her ankle somewhat recently because she wears heels all the time, causing her tendons to weaken, so when she was running (in heels) there was just no strength to keep the pace. Seriously? She’ll give up the ability to run just for a few inches? I like to think that I can run, if I ever need to. (Living in L.A. … maybe I’d need to run from a gang shooting. Or a crazed driver. You never know.)

But then I read this article, where she says she feels like starting a revolution against heels. Yay! I’m not totally wrong about her! (Then one wonders how much say certain celebrities have in presenting themselves to everyone.)

(I say heels are oppressive and somewhat demeaning, only because my Ethnic Studies professor likened Western style of beauty to the burqa worn in the Middle East. She meant how women feel they need to dress in specific ways. But I think American women have more of a choice in the matter. We don’t have a group of people with guns ordering us to dress a certain way. Although I kind of agree with what she said, mainly because whenever I look in shoe stores I can’t find many nice non-killer heeled or even unheeled shoes.)

Neil Gaiman weekend

I know I’ve been lazy in updating this lately and even now with a really cool update I’ve been putting it off/forgetting about it. But I’m forcing myself to write about it now. (Maybe I should just write about weekends, or something. I mean, specialness over the weekends. Or going to the mall if something really interesting happens. Or something. I’m willing to not have records of the more mundane stuff. But this weekend was just really cool and I’d rather write this entry now than not have it later in life [and hopefully my online logs won’t disappear >.>].)

So! Friday I got Mum to go with me to the Nuart to see Mirrormask! (I didn’t know Big Auntie’s house was there. o.o) We saw the theater and there was a line and I was freaking out thinking what if we can’t get in??? but haha we got in ($14.50 for two matinee tickets) and sat down and yeah it was a tiny cozy cool theater. ^^ And the theater wasn’t that full. I mean, much much more full than Charlie or March of the Penguins. But not like Star Wars (second weekend?) or H2G2 (first night?) Probably about 40 people there, maybe (I’m horrible at estimating), and there were bunches of teens there! Hee! (Normally wouldn’t be excited about that because, well, immature, but hey, it meant that they HEARD about it! XD Goooo Neil and Dave!) It was a really cool fun inventive interesting visually appealing movie and Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) was great and the guy she hung with and YEAH! I loooooved seeing Dave McKean’s stuff in motion. XD So cool.

Mum liked the movie. She said she woke up the next morning thinking about the movie. hehe! Yeah, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘Did I have a dream about Mirrormask?’ (I couldn’t remember. ;.; But it was a nice dream. ^^)

Saturday (non-Neil Gaiman, even though there was a signing at Vroman’s, just didn’t feel like standing in line for hours just to get him write his name in the book; I probably would have liked a doodle in my book, but he only doodles in the first 100 or so books, so meh) went to K’s again and this time we took out a tree in the way back on the right. Well. The men did. The women and boys cut up the chopped down stuff and crammed it in the green waste. Got home at 6:30. Probably could have made it to the signing but we were so sticky and tired, didn’t wanna go anywhere.

Sunday at 1:15 got ready to go to the West Hollywood Book Festival got there about 2 minutes before he started talking. We stood behind the seats, a little to our right. Then he came out in his leather jacket and sunglasses and sat down and he took off his jacket (it was warm, but not completely unbearable) and he was wearing a black t-shirt. XD And he looked in our direction for most of the talk! (Although I think he was looking at the Death/Daniel/Dream cosplayers.) And yeah. He talked. Yayfun! Mum said she understood half of what they talked about. I’m glad. She asked me a few questions about him after that. heehee. Saw the Golden Apple place where he was gonna sign. They had some of his stuff there. Saw the Sandman Companion. And other comics of his that I don’t have (yet). Sandman has new covers. o.o I like the old Dave McKean covers better though. *pout*

What did he talk about? Umm, a little about writing Anansi Boys, a little about Anansi Boys, a little about writing, a little about some Genie (??) account that he had 1989–1992 (“So you’re a proto-blogger.” –Heidi McDonald XD), a “tiffle” sound (pfa?) he would make while writing (found out while writing on Beowulf with Roger Avery), the little coffee (?) place in the midwest he wrote Anansi Boys in for 6 months (he left after someone recognized him and an employee said they’d be keeping an eye on him; “‘Oh, there he is writing again—no wait now he’s looking out the window.'”), about his daughter and her graphic novels course at college, stuff. ^__^

After that Mum drove down … some street past Santa Monica that starts with the letter B. Then on to Mulholland and we looked at all the big houses. heh. Mum got annoyed at all the cars (BMWs and Lexuses) that were tailing her (“35?! I’m barely going 30[mph]!”)

Then we went to Waldenbooks so I could buy Anansi Boys with a 25% off coupon and YAY I got a FIRST EDITION!!! XDDDDDD *points at the words first edition on that information page* But it’s already kind of curling (from the sun? air?) :( I don’t feel like taking it with me to class anymore. *hugs protectively* I haven’t even got to “the bad thing” in the middle of the book yet either! (Something Heidi brought up at the talk. She said she had to put the book down and walk away. o.o Neil Gaiman said he was surprised by it too, and didn’t write for four months after that. ^^;)

So…yeah, that’s it. The book isn’t really like American Gods, it’s funnier, not as, well, dry (I like AG, but still, it’s … not Neverwhere or Good Omens, definitely). Although I just read this part where he visits the old gods, and it’s kind of like AG. ^^;;

That’s it. I’m late getting to bed again. ;_; (10:11)