How ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’ Came to Be

by Christopher Paul on April 21, 2016

I never knew the song came from a quick poem written by the guy who invented a form of 3D movies. I never thought the song was about smoking marijuana; I thought it was a story about the a child’s imagination getting lost as he grew up into an adult. Maybe I was being a little to literal.


How New York Gets Its Water

by Christopher Paul on April 15, 2016

How New York Gets Its Water  The New York Times

Everything is bigger in New York City and it’s water system is no different. The New York Times has a fantastic article that looks into where New York gets its water, how it gets to the city, and how they monitor the health and safety of the water that 9.5 million people drink.

The city gets its water from a series of watersheds which feed three reservoirs through an aqueduct that is 1,100 feet below the Hudson River. Gravity moves the water along 92 miles.

The city constantly monitors the health and safety of the water:

Field scientists are constantly monitoring temperature, pH, nutrient and microbial levels.

Last year, robotic buoys recorded 1.9 million measurements, and field scientists collected 15,500 samples from reservoirs, streams and aqueducts upstate for analysis.

All of the data is fed into a centralized computer system, which also takes into account advanced weather forecasting to make determinations to predict the quality and quantity of water that day — and even six months into the future — at each reservoir.

It’s later chlorinated and other chemicals are added to raise pH levels high enough so lead doesn’t contaminate the water. To make sure contaminates don’t get into the system after it’s treated at the plant, more tests are done in the city itself.

Scientists collected 31,700 water samples in the city last year. More than 383,000 tests were performed on them, either at the sampling stations or at a laboratory in Queens. Scientists looked for E. coli, which could indicate sewage contamination; Cryptosporidium and giardia, common culprits of stomach illnesses; and other bacteria.

They also checked for toxic metals like lead, organic contaminants and unregulated chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a toxic chemical associated with the making of Teflon.

If you’re still worried about lead getting into your water, it’s recommended you flush the system for 30 seconds to two minutes. Water sitting in pipes leads has the greatest risk of contamination.

Finally, New York has the best tasting water and that’s because the minerals found in the limestone of the Catskill Mountains have low levels of calcium which can taste bitter.

via Kottke

There’s a New Verse to ‘Yakko’s World’

by Christopher Paul on April 13, 2016

I loved watching Animaniacs as a teenager when it was on TV. I was in high school and found the humor well suited for adults and children alike. I wasn’t the only fan, it seems, because a lot of people were happy to see it on Netflix at the start of the month.

One of the most memorable scenes for me was ‘Yakko’s World’ which I’ve embedded above and the ‘Presidents’ which is embedded below. With the show being aired on Netflix, the actors who voiced the characters are touring (something I’d like to see) with a new verse to ‘Yakko’s World’:

…starting this year, Mr. Paulsen, 60, plans to reunite with the voices of Wakko (Jess Harnell) and Dot (Tress MacNeille) on tour to perform many of the show’s memorable songs, including Wakko’s list of American states and their capitals and a recollection of all of the U.S. presidents. This time, the voice actors will be backed by a full orchestra, as they were with the Colorado Symphony in 2014.

History buffs might be glad to hear that Mr. Paulsen will perform a new verse of “Yakko’s World,” which was written before the Soviet Union broke up, in 1991. The song has been frequently nitpicked for its omissions and shortcuts, and the new verse will add any nations formed in the past 25 years.

NY Times via Patrick LaForge

How to Land a 737 Without Pilots

by Christopher Paul on February 12, 2016

Just in case this happens, Tim Morgan writes on Quora on what to do if you’re in an airplane and both pilots are unconscious.

I’d like to think I’d be calm enough under pressure to do this but I don’t know.


Best Longform of 2015

by Christopher Paul on December 16, 2015

Well, it seems another year has gone by and I’ve not written anything here. I do hope to pick it up again in the new year. While I’m dusting off my publishing workflows, I’ll leave you with a link to Longform’s Best of 2015.

There are ten categories with the best five articles in each. They also list their favorite 10 articles and the top ten from their reader’s poll and most clicked. Hopefully, you’ve read most of them by now. But if you need to top off your read later service with good reads, you’ll have almost 80 to choose from.