Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fill Soda Bottles Up All the Way, You Cheap Bastards

I mean wtf? As usual, I'm the one who has to give voice to what I'm sure is an unspoken, private complaint of millions. My whole life I've looked at that empty neck in the coke bottle, and my passing thought has always been: "Hmmm, I'm sure there's some good reason for that." But no, there is no good reason. The bottlers are cheap bastards, and they'll keep giving us progressively emptier and emptier bottles until we just refuse to take it anymore.

Have you ever thought about how much money you've spent on ATM fees over your whole life? A lot, right? Wouldn't it be nice to have all that money back? Well imagine how much soda you've lost to this 90%-full bottle bullshit over the years? Imagine a truck pulling up to your house with all that missing soda. You'd be sitting pretty, friends. You'd be set.

What are the purported reasons for the empty neck? So the soda can breathe, like a fine wine? So a freshly opened bottle won't spill as easily?

"Well come on Rowsdower, it's a carbonated beverage. It's physics. It's about the pressure building up in the bottle, especially when agitated. Don't complain about things you know nothing about."

Oh yes, of course! The carbonation. Wouldn't want to fill up a soda bottle all the way with all that pressure building up. I take it all bac... wha? Wait a minute.... what's this?

The same shit with bottled water? But I thought it was all about carbonation? Ahhhh, so that was just a pile of BS? I see. You cheap, cheap bastards.

Wouldn't it be nice to open a bottle of soda and see the fizzy, quivering surface right there at the top? To know you've gotten your full $1.25's worth? Look at Gatorade, people. See the way it should be done.

Now as long as we're talking about bottled water, I want to spend just a minute discussing some of the claims made on the water bottles about their purification process.

I always like to look, first of all, at where the bottle is maintaining the water comes from. And for the record, I trust something like "Bottled from an Idaho Municipal Water Source" about ten times as much as I trust something like "Bottled from the finest protected natural streams in the United States and Canada". Sometimes it's just "Bottled in Roanoke, Virginia" which tells you virtually nothing, although you can pretty easily assume it means somebody's tap. But my general rule of thumb is to trust the water that proudly claims that it's from a municipal source, and not to trust the bottles that get all vague about crystal streams and leafy glades and babbling brooks and sylvan glens. There's something ugly in that sylvan glen. Something they don't want you to know about. I steer clear of those waters.

But the latest trend is for the water to admit that it's bottled locally from the tap, but then to claim that all kind of purification rituals are performed on it, returning it to a pristine H2O state. I am deeply suspicious of this.

To understand my suspicions you need to understand the sorry state of Las Vegas tap water. For those of you who don't live here I'll break it down. We are serviced by the artificial reservoir Lake Mead - water diverted from the Colorado river. This wide open pool of standing water is pumped into our homes, and when the water is pumped out as sewage.... it gets a sewage treatment plant once-over..... and is dumped back into Lake Mead. Now recycling sewage back into drinking water might be okay on the international space station, but this is America's fastest growing city. If you actually drive out to lake Mead to look at our drinking supply, it's an alarming sight. People bathe in it. There are watersports. Jet skis zip around. Blue smoke pours out of outboard motors. Makes you thirsty, doesn't it?

By the time this reclaimed sewage has had the jet ski treatment and is pumped back into our homes it's been generously dosed with foul-tasting chemicals to make it safe for drinking. Which is a long way of saying that Las Vegas tap water sucks. It tastes like a children's pool.

So along comes a bottler like Niagara, claiming that they've purified our tap water. Suuuuuure.
The bottle says that they treat the water with:
1. Carbon Filtration
2. Reverse Osmosis
3. Microfiltration
4. UV Treatment
5. Ozonation

A list like this sets off all my warning bells. A name like "Reverse Osmosis" sounds too technical. It sounds like a name designed to pacify you into thinking that it's some really robust purification technique, when it fact all it means is that they've hired a person to blow on the water. If reverse osmosis means "blowing on water to make it colder" I am not going to be surprised. Okay, let's look it up....

Here's the scoop. Reverse Osmosis means "filtering". It's a screen that you push the water through. The water goes through, solid particles don't. Ah. How does that differ from... microfiltration? It doesn't. From wikipedia: "Microfiltration is not fundamentally different from reverse osmosis"

Ozonation and carbon filtering involve introducing carbon and ozone to the water to soak up bad things like bacteria. I have nothing to say about this.

Niagara water does taste pretty good, so maybe I shouldn't complain. But I can't shake the suspicion that purified Las Vegas tap water can't be much better than Kevin Costner's purified urine that he made on his Waterworld trimaran. The whole enterprise just seems wrong. I'll stick with my Idaho municipal water, if it's all the same to everyone.

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