This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Lunar Landing, “One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind.” It also marks the rare occasion of a stuffed toilet in outer space. The International Space Station (ISS) is experiencing plumbing issues with one “John” down and one holding down the fort.
This past Sunday, while relaxing after a hard day of cooking, cleaning the pool and food shopping, I happened to be channel−surfing when a tiny item caught my eye. One of the two toilets on the ISS backed up, leaving a record 13 people up a ship without a bog.
I don’t know about space travel, but I do know from backed−up toilets. Long ago when we were looking for a house, I had only three items on my wish list − two toilets, a room for myself, (preferably in another country) and a nice sunny kitchen. Well, one out of three ain’t bad.
My husband chose location, so we wound up buying a fixer−upper with an outdated bathroom with dicey plumbing. With only one toilet, three people and old pipes, we made many calls to Denny the Plumber. Most of the calls, unfortunately, were late at night. With ankles and fingers crossed, we would pray for an early return call. Denny always called back, but not always early.
He’d arrive with his power snake, shake his head tsk−tsking, and begin to unclog our lines. He would have us up and flushing, faster than you can say, “How much for the house call?” In fact, he came so often that we qualified for multiple visit discounts. I wonder how much a house trip to the moon and back would run?
Even with the discounts, after a while, we decided it was cheaper for us to invest in our own professional style snake and unstop the clogs ourselves. No more crossed fingers.
But back to the space toilets.
According to published reports, Mission Control told the crew to hang an “Out of Service” sign until the toilet can be fixed. Since they don’t know how long it will be before this multi−million dollar “John” will be up and flushing again, a NASA rep stated that if repairs fail, Apollo−era urine collection bags are on hand. With all these genius minds at work, don’t you think that they could come up with a better plan?
I don’t know about you, but if I were one of the lucky 13. that would not make me feel very confident. In fact I’d be getting my space suit on, along with an extra roll of Charmin and a tether line and be prepared to take a little walk on the dark side of the station, if you know what I mean.
Not for nuthin’, but instead of investing billions into a mission to Mars, maybe NASA should invest in a “Launch a Port−A−Potty mission.” This way the next time it backs up, there’s a back−up not far behind. “One small clog for man − One big flush for mankind.” JDelbuono@
©2009 Community News Group
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