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Jason Bourne Fixed Our Leaky Urinal

August 8, 2016

We moved to a new building. Well, it’s not new new. It’s “new to us” new. And even with that, it’s been remodeled. So, it’s more new than old, but it’s got a new coat of paint. Like a “new” car that had a previous owner, there are a few things that show its age. In our case, it was a leaky urinal. Not that kind of leak! Just a small leak from the water pipes coming into the top of the urinal. 

It wasn’t a serious leak. A single drop every minute or so. And mostly it just collected on the porcelain top before slowly dripping down the side and leave a slightly uncomfortable damp spot on the floor. It’s part of the reason I hate working with water when I do remodeling. That annoying drip over time can cause huge damage. 

But, this isn’t my problem. There are people who get paid to fix these things and make sure that we aren’t dripping water to the 4th floor from our bathroom on the 5th floor. But, I did think what could be done in the mean time? Was it possible to mitigate the seriousness while the building maintenance people were getting to it?

There’s a new Jason Bourne movie coming out this month. Jason Bourne is a super-spy, assassin who had a world-class case of amnesia. I’ve enjoyed the movies. Matt Damon, the actor who plays Bourne is fun to watch. And of course, it’s the fight scenes that make the movies so entertaining. As part of the press tour leading up to the new movie release, the actors and director are giving interviews. During one of these interviews, they addressed Jason Bourne’s fighting style. It was described as “Treadstone-style.” 

Treadstone was the name of the secret program that trained Bourne and his fellow spies. The fighting style was designed to incorporate whatever was at hand. He fought a bad guy using a book. Another time, he showed how deadly a towel was as both an offensive and defensive weapon. Somewhere in the really REALLY big universe, Douglas Adams was smiling. In the new movies, we watch Bourne break a chair and turn the broken chair leg into a deadly weapon. He’s McGyver, if McGyver had ever figured out he could build actual weapons instead of Rube Goldberg mousetraps. 

I remember one time when someone accidentally locked us out of one of our conference rooms at work. The room sat empty for a couple weeks since no one could find the key. Finally, I was sick of it and had my tallest engineer pop the ceiling tiles and use a loop tied in a mouse cord to reach over and hook the door handle. We then disabled the lock. It wasn’t the perfect tool, but it was the right tool.

 As a backyard mechanic, it’s nice to have exactly the right tool for a job. But, if I had to wait for the perfect tool, I’d never complete most projects. You use what you have. Buy tools with a lifetime guarantee. That way when you break them because you used a screwdriver as a pry-bar, you can replace them. 

To fix the leaky urinal didn’t require anything as advanced as a screwdriver. All it took was a little understanding of physics. Everyone knows that water only runs downhill. Everyone is wrong. Trees manage to pull water from the ground to the highest part of their branches. They use a principle called “capillary action.” The water flows from one small space to the next. When those spaces are in a tree trunk, the water “flows” uphill. I’ve oversimplified it here, but trust me, you can make water flow uphill if you give it something to climb. 

In the a case of our urinal, all the water needed to “climb” into the bowl was a ladder; otherwise known as a paper towel. 

The water “climbed” the paper towel then drained into the urinal. No more puddle on the floor. I figure if Jason Bourne was a plumber, this is exactly how he’d fix a leaky pipe. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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