April 1, 2003


            Since by now you have been victimized by the first meter reading of the season, it’s time to provide a little education about the process. Here’s a glossary of terms:

Nutation: The sensual swiveling, oscillating motion performed by the measuring element of a common type of water meter. The name of that particular part is the “nutating disk.” Its motion is caused by the passage of water through the “nutating chamber.”   Nutation is translated into rotary motion to increase the numbers on the meter register.

Autonutation: The act of swiveling, etc. without water going through the meter. Most of the meters on our system perform autonutation a great deal of the time, or so we hear.

Aeration: The injection of air into the water system to provide that fuzzy, milky effect and to expand the volume of water as it passes through a meter. This reduces the need for auto- nutation as a source of additional revenue.

Multi-jet: Another type of measuring element used in water meters. Several jets of water strike a turbine wheel which makes it turn, which makes the numbers increase. Not nearly as much fun as a nutating disk.

Turbo-jet: A variation of the multi-jet much favored here at Up The Creek, due to the accelerative nature of the jets. The turbine wheel requires special bearings to cope with the added speed. Self nutation and aeration are not necessary with this type of meter.

Motometer: A specialized meter only used in cases where autonutation, aeration, and turbo-jets have failed. The additional revenue generated must be balanced against the cost of electricity needed to make it go.

Neomathics: An academic discipline first introduced by Douglas Adams in his book Life, The Universe, And Everything. It has been adopted by the Up The Creek billing center as the standard method for computing water usage. It works this way: say this month your meter reading is 200,000 gallons. Say last month your meter reading was 190,000 gallons. Subtracting last month from this month, using neomathics, your water use for one month is 155,099 gallons, resulting in a bill of $1,229.10. To simplify, we would allow you to round off your check to an even $1,300.

Recipreversexcluson: The core component of Neomathics. A detailed explanation of this term would require several textbooks, but it can be roughly defined as a number which equals anything other than itself. Meter readers are thoroughly trained in the use of the reciprevers-excluson. The best examples are obtained while sitting in the shade of a nice cottonwood filling out meter reading cards, rather than going through the tedious business of actually reading the meters.

All Fools Day: Today. Or every day around here!