Saturday, July 11, 2020

Biggest Thrill in Johnson County

What's "the Biggest Thrill of All" in Johnson County?

According to Merle Haggard ("Okie From Muskogee") Muskogee is:

A place where even squares can have a ball.
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
And white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all.
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA.
[I'm Proud to be an] "Okie From Muskogee"

To which, of course, the west coast hippies felt they had to responded with:

We don't throw our beer cans on the highway
We don't slight a man because he's black
We don't spill our oil out in the ocean
'Cause we love birds and fish too much for that

And I'm proud to be a hippie from Olema
Where we're friendly to the squares and all the straights
We still take in strangers if they're Haggard
In Olema, California, Planet Earth
"Hippie from Olema"

I've always found just being in the Olema area kind of thrilling. Apparently the hippie lyricists either assumed that was so obvious to everyone it didn't require mention, or whatever thrilled Okies probably would be more disruptive than supportive of Olema's aura of peace, love and bliss.

All of which brings us back to The People's Republic of Johnson County, and what might I be thinking is its "greatest thrill of all."

Want to guess?

Give up?

Why it's the outflow from the Coralville Reservoir after heavy rains. Take it from an old, retired former U.S. Maritime Administrator, this is our landlocked equivalent of taking a ship through the North Atlantic in the wintertime, as pictured.

Exhibit #1, which I'm about to show you, is a video taken yesterday, July 10. Why is the date relevant? Because if you're the kind of Johnson County citizen who recognizes her or his responsibility for knowing how much water the Iowa River is bringing through Iowa City, and how fast it is coming, you check the United States Geological Survey report each morning to find out. You know that number can change daily, even hourly within a day.

And what was the number yesterday? 9,000. Nine thousand what you ask? It's 9,000 cubic feet a second, I reply. And just how much is that, you persist?

As you can imagine, it is difficult to keep and measure water that is cube-shaped. But that's why, as with COVID-19, we must rely on the scientists at the USGS for our answer. And if you would ask one of them they would be happy to tell you that if you had their powers to make a one-foot by one-foot by one-foot cube of water you would discover, when you measured it, that you had 7.49 gallons of water.

Thus, if you had the patience to create 9,000 cubic feet of water you would have (quickly multiplying 7.49 by 9,000) 67,410 gallons. And how much is that, you ask? Well, if you and those living with you use about 100 gallons a day (check your water bill, it's probably around that much each month) that would be 36,500 gallons a year.

In other words, every second yesterday the amount of water flowing out of the Coralville Reservoir into the Iowa River was almost twice the amount of water you use in a year.

Here is a video of what that looked like yesterday afternoon for 38 seconds chosen at random. So how many gallons was that. Right!!! See, I told you it wasn't complicated. It was 2,561,580 gallons. That's what you got, didn't you? Isn't this fun? Doesn't it remind you of your cruise in the North Atlantic last winter? Isn't it exciting? Don't you have to agree it really is Johnson County's "greatest thrill of all"?

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