The Adventures of Me & My Shadow #10 in CA & NV 3/5/98
Hi every one! I had a nice visit with Elton, Jinny and the boys Allen & Ryan. Allen put me to work helping him on a project he was working on for the architect class he is taking. It was to design and build a chair. Now that sounds simple enough but the teacher added some rules and Allen must have had a nightmare to come up with his design, it was like no other design I have ever seen. To make it worse, the teacher said not to use any upholstery on it. It was made of aluminum and wood, we got enough of it done for me to check it for comfort and I was really supprised. It was pretty good but some upholstery would have helped, my bony old butt needs a little upholstery. I wish him luck and hope I can see it when it is finished.
Since starting my travels in the motorhome I have learned some valuable lessons. First, I learned that the best oranges in the world come from a neighbors yard in Sarasota, FL . Second, I learned that spending a lot of money on fancy lamp poles don't get you smooth streets. Third, I learned that being a county commissioner in Texas don't get you a decent road past your house. I also found that there is enough hot air in Texas to get a museum airborne, I didn't see it but I did see a sign pointing to where it was. Forth, I learned that I should not ask an Aerospace engineer to tell me how to get from Fountain Valley, CA to Lakewood, CA. This engineer is a brother of the commissioner in Texas so I should have known. I had asked Gertrude & Gus to find the best way to get to Lakewood from Fountain Valley and they both said to take I 405 to CA19 going north. I was telling this engineer this and he said "no I should exit to I 605 to go north". He said he used to go this way every day on his way to work. Well I thought that I must have misunderstood Gertrude & Gus, this engineer must know what he is talking about, he lives here. When I headed up I 405 and got in the correct lane to exit to I 605 and was waiting for Gertrude to tell me to exit and she didn't say a word. Next thing I know I'm headed north on I 605 and Gertrude is mad at me so I pulled off and turned her off and asked Gus what to do and he said "get back on I 405 where I was supposed to be", I zoomed out on the map and there it was, plain as day, the best way to go to where I wanted to go was on I 405. I got back on I 405 and made it up to Bob & Terry's OK but they were not home yet. I went to Michelle's and she wasn't home either I went back to Bob's and found them home this time. It was here the next day that I learned valuable lesson #5, Don't let an accountant fix an electric lawn mower. Now I'm sure that Bob is a good accountant. He is in the army reserves and he is already a Major so he must be a good army officer. He must be a good lover as they got married last August and they are expecting this August. He is studying law but that won't teach him how to fix a lawn mower and a good lawn mower fixer he is not. He told me that he has to keep fixing his lawn mower but he had to go to a reserve meeting the next day, I told him I would check it out. Well after looking at it I figured that if he had fixed it one more time it would be beyond salvage. I found out that it must be about as old as he was and they no longer listed parts for it. So I got my tools out and went to work on it, happy to know that I was needed. He mowed the lawn with it the next day and it stood the test. I told him that if it stops again not to try to fix it but to call me.
Every one had to be back to work Monday so after a nice visit over the weekend I headed north to West Covina in the rain in rush (should be called slow) hour traffic as the storm was forecast to get worse and it did, but only after I got up to Bessie's.
Bessie told me she wanted to take me to see the movie "Titanic". I had not seen it so we went. It was a great movie and I thank her for taking me, however the next day I found out why she took me. She had a list of things for me to do. Bessie you don't have to take me to a movie to get me to work, just give me the list, it's my pleasure. She had a bag of oranges from her daughters back yard ready for me when I arrived and it was just in time, I was down to half a grapefruit from the bag that I had gotten from Ron & Connie. I also picked a bag of kumquats from a tree in her backyard, they are a small orange like fruit that tastes like it might be crossed with a lemon. It's on the bitter side, you eat the skin and everything but the seeds. If the price is right I can stand the bitterness and I sure can't beat the price. When I got to Doug & Di's they tried the kumquats and liked them so I traded some for some lemons from their tree and learned lesson #6. A lemon tree has thorns, I sure didn't know that. Doug has been working 10 hour days 7 days a week for the phone co. I suppose it was because of El Nino, he was getting tired but also getting rich. Had a nice visit over the weekend and headed to Las Vegas.
The trip to Las Vegas went well, I could see snow on the mountains to the east of Riverside at the higher elevations. The road stayed at the lower elevations so it was no problem, I can see snow at the higher elevations north and west of Las Vegas. I was feeling some vibration in the front of the motorhome on the way up here and on inspection it looks like I had better get a new set of tires on the front wheels before I go much further. This RV park is the nicest park I have ever been in, level concrete sites, clean toilets, paved roads, phone hookups, beautiful landscaping and the price $12.50 per night is lower than any other. The only problem is the air traffic. most of the traffic taking off from the airport is overhead much of the time. I can't complain about the price of gas. Less than a buck most places, Had to go to the Naval Base in San Diego for $115.9 the lowest price there. All places in LA area it could be found for less than a buck but price range in each area was about 20 cents. Lowest price here looks like $108.9 but haven't been around much.
Now in talking to the Space Shuttle engineer down in Fountain Valley, he told me that he had engineered the toilet on the Space Shuttle. I got to thinking about toilets and the lack of gravity and realized that this could be quite an engineering challenge. It could be complicated even more when the astronaughts showed up without external plumbing. I never found out just how he solved all the problems but it started me reminiscing about how the toilet has evolved in my lifetime. I'm sure that some of the younger generation might find this subject interesting and unbelievable but you older ones will say "been there and done that" you have to agree that up to now not much has been written on the subject. I will now take you from the 1930s up to the space shuttle, where you will have to talk to this engineer to get all the details on it.
First there was the out house, the two hole unit, there were a few one hole and a few three hole units but most of them were two hole. That means that you could have company while you went to the toilet. Along with the outhouse there was the Sears Roebuck catalog, it was brought on because of the depression and hard times, if you were having trouble putting food on the table, toilet paper was a luxury few could afford. A page or two from the catalog could get the job done but when there was nothing left but the slick pages it could take up to five or six pages to get the same results. There was also the corn cob, now this was the perfect tool for the job, one pass was all it took, however the cobs would fill the hole up faster and the toilet would have to be moved more often. Now you know where the expression "ruff as a cob" comes from.
The 1940s came, I got to do some traveling and I discovered different styles of toilets. Of course there was the flush toilet similar to what we see today, some of the early flush toilets in public rest rooms had the tank mounted high on the wall with a chain coming down to pull to flush the toilet. I discovered the toilet on the train where I could look down through it and see the railroad ties going by, this one didn't need to be flushed. The military aircraft had the waxed paper bag that was put down into ( for lack of a better word) a potty chair and when finished was thrown overboard.. The fighter planes had the relief tube (a funnel on a hose) under the seat, it worked good for those of us with external plumbing. If you felt a few rain drops after a plane went over you could have been mistaken. I have not yet learned what they use for some of the fighter pilots today who don't have the necessary fixture to use the relief tube. The navy ships had the stainless steel trough next to the hull or outside wall with a constant stream of salt water running through it and discharging out the side of the ship. It was best to stay out from under this discharge with the small boats. This trough had one by six inch slats across it and could seat ten or more sailors. I recall one time I was sitting there doing my duty and a sailor up stream wodded up some toilet paper, set it afire and dropped it on the fast moving water, it singed everyone down stream but no real damage was done. A trip to the south pacific and on the islands I discovered the latrine. This was a throwback from the outhouse. An inclosure with a shallow ditch around the interior of the wall and a two by four to hang your rear end over. There was a splash guard going down from the two by four that prevented you from filling the back pockets on your lowered pants. There was no roof over this structure so you didn't waste any time there when it was raining. Then there was the over water toilets at the Halavo Seaplane base. A catwalk about twenty feet long to a row of seats. They were about like the ones in the two hole outhouse but here there were ten to fourteen holes, no walls or roof, just a hand railing to keep us from falling in the water. This system worked pretty good most of the time when there was an offshore breeze. It was a different story when there was an onshore breeze. Then the solids came into the beach ( because salt water is heavier than fresh water all of the solids floated). This is where I learned to swim and I was on the beaching crew for a time (putting the wheels on the flying boats so they could be pulled up on the beach) so you can get an idea of the problem.
In 1952 I was in Naples Italy and I discovered the Bidet. It was another fixture in most rest rooms, it looked like it could be a urinal, it was about as tall as a commode but was longer and had no seat. On close inspection I found a handle that turned a fountain on that squirted cold water up in the air. I suppose it was to save paper, after you finished on the commode you could squat down over this thing and wash the only part of your anatomy that needed washing, but with cold water? I haven't been back again to see if they still have them. I would have tried it if they had warm water and a towel to dry my self with. In 1955 I got to Japan and found a very unusual toilet, I won't call it a rest room as it was no place to rest. All there was there was a concrete floor with water running across it. There were stepping stones and two places to put your feet while you squatted down and dropped your load down a hole in the floor. For a long time Japan used human waste as fertilizer, I don't think they do today. In 1976 my motorhome was built with a recirculating toilet. Some water is put in it, a deodorant is added and the water is recirculated to flush it till it is full. A valve is opened to dump it into the holding tank and the cycle is repeated. It works OK but I don't see any new RVs with this style toilet today.
Today we have the toilets that know when you are done and flush automatically. The engineer above has in his toilet a vent fan that comes on when you walk in the door even if you are just going to brush your teeth. His brother, the Texas commissioner has his vent fan switch so you can reach it from the throne, just in case you forgot to turn it on before you sat down. It looks to me like someone would come up with a gas sensor under the rim of the commode that would turn on the fan and flush the toilet at the first whiff of a fowl odor. I guess I'll have to start working on it. One more thing, there was always a paper shortage at all of the above, so if you didn't bring your own you had to improvise, this can be quite a challenge.
Now I hope that the engineer will fill in the last paragraph and let us know how the toilet on the space shuttle works.
Till next time, Dallas, or Dad if it Fits.

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