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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Shower Puzzle

There is a dilemma in East Africa. In most places water is a scarce resource. A lot of draught going on, many dry regions. And if there is water in some abundancy, *clean* water is the problem. So you have to be conscious about the amount of water you use.
That's where the dilemma comes in. If you take a shower, you don't want to waste a lot of water. No half an hour zombieing under the waterfall of warm water. Just functional. Turn off the tap when you can and do stuff that does not require water.
But here it comes.
You'd like to have a warm shower, not a cold one. So you open the warm water tap. The one with a red mark or a H (hot). For this story it does not matter if you are taking a shower on a primitive camp site or in a top-end hotel. You let the water out of the warm water tap flow until you feel it's getting warm. But it's not getting warm. Is there no warm water? Does it take a long time before the warm water flows through all the ducts to your shower? Or is it the wrong tap? There is no logic in a Hot and Cold tap. The Cold tap could be the Hot tap. So after some time, you close the Hot tap and open the Cold tap. Then you wait. Again. The Cold tap might be the Hot tap. The puzzle is about when to close the Cold tap again and do try the Hot tap again, since it might be the right one for hot water. But you don't want to waste too much water. How much water should you waste before you can conclude what is the Hot tap or that there is no warm water after all? Especially it's getting embarrassing when there is a guy shoving wood into an oven that heats a small oil drum of water to get you warm water. He is working. You are waiting for warm water. And the water might not be heated yet...
I have not figured out the optimum of the Shower Puzzle. So far I managed to shower reasonably warm. On the occasion cold (at the coldest place: the edge of the Ngorongoro crater).

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