Jerry Seinfeld had a stand-up monologue in one of his shows about how our ability to put the man on the moon became a rallying cry for dissatisfaction with the limitations of modern society technology. You know, as in “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t get our dang restaurants to hold the tomato on an order like I ask!” or something equally inane. He said that Neil Armstrong should have said, “This is one small step for man, and one giant leap for every malcontented SOB in our country for decades to come!” I’m not getting what he said exactly right, but you get the gist.

In a lot of public restrooms, in lieu of a faucet the sinks have a button. You push the button and some water comes out as the button comes back up. If you need more water, you push the button again. More water comes out, the button comes back up.

When Clancy and I lived in Deseret, our apartment shower-head and/or pipes became clogged. Over weeks the water deliver became increasingly less forceful until it, as I put it, started moving less water than a rat terrier urinating. Then it stopped altogether. Until they could fix it, we had to use gallon water jugs to take our morning showers. It took her four and me two. She was more vigorous about washing her hair than I was and she had more hair to wash. You’d dump yourself with maybe 2/3 of a gallon to get yourself wet, lather down with soap, then finish the bottle washing the soap off. Then you’d do your hair, then maybe another round on your body, then again in your hair to take care of the shampoo, then your hair again for the conditioner.

It was slow, but it got the job done. Frankly, it got the job down better than those damnable low-flow shower heads.

I think that both Married With Children and Unhappily Ever After (one of the most tragically underappreciated family sitcoms in my lifetime) both had an episode with the main plot being the family becoming smugglers from Canada. If I recall, the Bundys smuggled toilets and the Malloys shower heads. Canada, in the show if not in real life (it seems unlikely that our environmental regulations exceed theirs in just about any respect), hadn’t banned low-flow toilets and shower-heads. There was an increasing demand because Canadian showerheads and toilets refrained from being so pansy-ass.

So yeah, count me among those that say “screw the environment and let my toilet FLUUUUUUUUUSH!!!!” Who doesn’t hate having to flush two or three times to get everything down or see it get clogged in circumstances where you suspect that a real toilet wouldn’t have. And what can you do with a shower-head that’s too weak to get the shampoo off your darn head?

But does it really have to be either-or? I mean, the environmentalists are right that flushing so much water is often unnecessary and having the shower at full blast while you’re standing away from the water soaping yourself down is unnecessarily wasteful. So how come, instead of the government regulating our water-expending apparatii somewhat useless, we haven’t instead come up with a solution?

For example, why must there be one strength of flush? Why can’t we have one flush that assumes that there is no solid waste matter, but then when there is have a “mega-flush” that loads some extra water into the toilet to prevent clogging and then swooshes it all down with a manly-man flush? If we can put a man on the moon…

For showers, we can use the aforementioned public restroom sink button. When we need some extra power with which to get the shampoo out of our hair or the soap off our bodies, we press the button and get some extra force. Because we have two faucets, it’s kind of difficult to easily change the force of the water without changing the temperature. If the power of the shower can be dictated by the showerhead (in addition to the faucets), surely there can be some sort of filter we can put before the showerhead to slow it down except when we press the button.

We can, after all, put a man on the moon.

Category: Coffeehouse

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6 Responses to The Two Flush Solution

  1. Webmaster says:

    I don’t see why it “couldn’t” happen. You might consider patenting the idea!

  2. Barry says:

    I still haven’t understood how anyone can “waste” water. It’s not exactly a non-renewable resource. I know last year there was a drought in the southwest and people near where I live were asked to conserve a bit. Georgia (US) residents were in even more of a conservation mode. But still…really? Seriously? Full-flush toilets and long showers are going to have any kind of actual environmental impact? I find it very hard to believe any lasting short-term or long-term damage was being done by either of these.

  3. trumwill says:

    Web, one reason it couldn’t happen is that my idea wouldn’t need with current standards. It might have been a golden idea before the “low-flow” craze.

  4. trumwill says:


    I know out west that there are often water shortage because more people live there than nature necessarily intended. As for the rest of the country, I assume that there is a reason for it… though a quick google of ‘why we shouldn’t waste water’ didn’t yield immediate information. Maybe it has to do with wastewater treatment?

  5. Linus says:

    I can’t speak for the eastern US, but out west, water is a huge problem. Aquifers are drying up, and rivers like the “mighty” Colorado are down to a trickle by the time they enter the ocean. As usual, the problem is sustainability – in many parts of the west, we use more water in a year than falls as rain, so we draw down the aquifers that took a long time to fill. We have to keep drilling deeper wells, and if we don’t cut our use, big parts of the west will either have pipelines feeding them or they won’t be habitable any more.

    Even though I’m a crazy, left-wing environmentalist, I’ll agree that there are plenty of low-flow shower heads that are disappointing. HOWEVER, there are also plenty that work just fine, making up for the lower flow rate with somewhat higher pressure. Just like with compact fluorescent light bulbs, there are companies out there that sell purely on price (look! they’re environmentally friendly! and cheap!), and quality suffers. Return anything that doesn’t work for you, and try something else. Just don’t give up – decent low-flow fixtures are out there.

    And Will, dual-flush toilets do exist: and

    Toilet envy is an odd thing indeed.

  6. trumwill says:

    Ahhh, well, all the good ideas really are taken. On the toilet front, I know what kind of toilet I’m going to get when I get a house. On the shower-head front, I still like my idea. It seems like we really only need the force for a short part of the shower but turning up or down the flow is complicated.

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