Thursday, December 24, 2009

Midnight Visitors

'Twas the night before Festivus, and all through the bathroom,
despite wearing my pants,
I looked on the floor to see dozens of ants.

This, sadly, dear readers, is my tale of Christmas woe. Where is the joy, you are saying? Where is the spirit? Well, let me tell you.

This all started yon about two weeks ago, when it rained, and when it rains in the Bay Area, or at least in the East Bay for sure, it means the ants need somewhere to go, and where they usually go is your house. Or it certainly is mine. It started off, as it normally does, with a few little ants roaming around in my bathroom. I thought, no chance are they going to set up camp here. What are they going to eat, my dead skin cells? Perhaps yes.

Because, for whatever reason, decided to move in. I woke up one night to find not a pile of gifts, but that the miniature six-legged elves had in fact decided to lodge themselves somewhere in my walls probably, and were traipsing their way blithely through my bathroom, to and from my closet. Don't ask me what was on their little anty minds. I have no idea. I just wanted them gone.

So I put down some ant traps that had worked for me before. Nothing.

At that point, I was just glad that they weren't in my kitchen, though I can't say I enjoyed stepping over them in order to take a shower. At least they weren't IN my shower. Two days later, they WERE in the kitchen. And they looked something like this:

Only, in fact, it was worse, because even once I got them off the counters, they kept coming back, and they were also swarming around two of the lower drawers. Again, don't ask me why. There was no food in the drawers. But I did have to move all my tupperware.

I was just about at my wit's end. It was a Sunday, and I was having guests over on Monday night for a Holiday party. If I didn't get rid of the ants, I was pretty sure I'd have to tell people not to come. But I was determined. I posted a desperate plea on FaceBook, and got a lot of responses, recommending many of the treatments mentioned in this article.

One thing that kept coming up was Borax. Well, I didn't really know where to get Borax. What I did was I went back to the hardware store and got some kind of liquid ant killer I'd seen before and decided to try it. The guy I talked to said it was "the best." Well, it didn't look like much to me. You cut out little squares of cardboard and drip the stuff on, then leave it around near the ant trails for the ants to find it. When they do, they eat it, and then take it with them back to the nest and feed it to their babies. Shortly thereafter, they all die. Theoretically, they kill the queen, too, and then you're set.

Trouble was, I had so many ants, I kept seeing these big ones that I was sure were queens or something, but probably they were just males. I don't know that much about ant biology. All I know was I kept killing them, and they were only getting worse.

But I had hope when I saw them taking the bait - literally. They were circling around the drops of liquid like cows at a water trough. A friend came over later, and brought Combat traps, and I put down a few of those for good measure.

As a bonus, when I checked the label on the stuff I bought (Terro), it said the active ingredient was Borax. So I bought Borax without even knowing. Sweet! And I think it was sweet, because even though they didn't list the other ingredients, I think it was probably either sugar water or corn syrup. I didn't taste it to find out, though.

Anyway, I went to bed with a massive ant trail in my bathroom, and a burgeoning collection of them in the kitchen, and woke up to - practically nothing! There were a few wandering about confusedly in the bathroom, and two or three by the kitchen garbage, and that was it. It was a Festivus Miracle!

I hopped about and clapped my hands, and danced with little Timmy, and said, hooray, we can have our Holiday Party after all! Well, maybe not quite. But I did have my party as planned, and all went very well.

Until the ants started to move back in today. Sigh. Well, at least this time I'm ready for them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sign Me Up!

This week's post was submitted by Agent KGB in Boston. It's a post from Interbent that features "Humorous and Unclear Toilet Signs and Directions." Like the one above. The list reminds me of this one I saw in a bathroom in San Francisco early last spring.

There are also some Dada-ist looking signs, some highly suggestive, some alien-friendly, some, apparently, just for fun, and I really like the generic guy-on-toilet-seat-with-laptop - in a red circle with a slash mark through it, of course. And don't forget the Extreme Pizza bathroom for the "Extreme costumer only." So I'm guessing they only allow people who make or wear costumes in there...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Google my Arse!

Intrepid Agent HoJo detected this gem of toilet papetry on the Huffington Post recently. It was listed under "Technology." We're not sure if that's because it bears the name "Google," or because toilets and related accoutrements are clearly tech-related. We're going with the latter.

Originally posted on a Vietnamese blog, this label choice is a marketing strategy I have not encountered before, and if I have, certainly not in such an egregious form. I'm guessing that the developers for this product sat around a board room table and decided that by slapping the name of a highly successful technology-oriented company on their TP, they could generate a boatload of sales. Or perhaps some other kind of load? I couldn't resist...

I am also guessing that Google and their lawyers will be after this company soon, if they are not already.

But my favorite part about this piece are the translations of the Vietnamese text, which you can read on the original post from Huffington, and also the "100% Virgin Pulp." I think that would definitely appeal to the Catholic masses.

(Photo via Huffington Post)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

World Toilet Day

Today is - are you ready? - World Toilet Day! I'm not making this up. It was founded by the World Toilet Organization, which I am also not making up. But this is serious business. (So to speak.)

The text from the WTO page reads:
"World Toilet Day is a global day of action to increase awareness for toilet users' rights and to advocate a better toilet environment. This day is marked by individuals, toilet associations, and other advocacy groups across the world to bring attention to a cause that truly affects everyone on earth."

And if you go to the World Toilet Day Website, they'll give you two reasons we should have it.

#1: Because 2.5 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation, which risks their health, strips their dignity, and kills 1.8 million people, mostly children, a year.

#2: Because even the world's wealthiest people still have
toilet problems - from unhygienic public toilets to sewage disposal
that destroys our waterways.

Get it? #1 and #2? These people are awesome. They even advocate more toilet stalls for women.

Now this is one cause we can really "get behind."

(Image - A WTD Press Conference in Ghana, courtesy of WTO)

Thanks to Agent RC for alerting us!

Monday, November 16, 2009

In One Door and Out the Other

I just spent a week in Massachusetts with my family, and catching up with old friends, and experiencing Ye Olde New England Bathrooms. One interesting feature of one of these bathrooms was the one belonging to my good friends Agents D and K. They are in possession of a large bathroom with a claw-foot tub and the convenient (or not) feature of two doors, one on either side of the room. Here's the view from the kitchen door:

And here's the view from the living room:

So, basically, if you want to use the loo, you have to first go in one door, walk across the room and lock the other door, then walk back and lock the first door. Well, I guess it depends which door you walk in first, but you get the idea. Unless you want to live dangerously, in which case the only door you probably really need to close is the one leading to the kitchen, since the other door opens onto a little vestibule with no other access, and not the living room itself.

We discussed possible reasonings for this set-up. They pointed out that the house used to be all one house and was divided into four apartments. So most likely, this room was not originally a bathroom (it may also have been built built before there was a lot of indoor plumbing.) There are, however, very old-looking locks, of the round, turny kind that I used to have in the room I lived in in Maine. It's like a round, brass knob that sticks out, and you turn it one way to get the bolt to go out, and the other way to draw it back in. It's usually situated somewhere above the knob.

Their guess was that the room may at one point have been a walk-in closet. But then, why the locks on both doors that could only be manipulated from the inside? So you could lock yourself in the closet? Hm... It's possible it was always a bathroom of some sort. Or a small bedroom. Or maybe the locks were added later. Maybe it was a bathroom, and the people who designed it were just too lazy to walk around to get in from the other side. Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing I do know is that I am not particularly fond of the bathrooms with two doors. It's enough to monitor one door to make sure it's locked and no one walks in. But then when there are two, then it really doubles the chances of this occurring, and that's not really a great thing, in my opinion. Or you just have to have to think a lot, because it would be so easy to just wash my hands and walk out the one door, completely forgetting about the other.

I've seen several two-door bathrooms on the West Coast, so this set-up is not limited to New England. And in fact, in those cases, the bathroom was accessible only by walking through someone's bedroom, which was kind of odd. I'm sure it's handy if that's your bedroom, but I like a little separation of personal space when I'm visiting someone's house usually.

Anyway, since Agent K has such a spectacular bathroom, you should really think about buying her new book, Life in Violet. It's a novel, set in New England, about a girl named Violet. I've so far only read the first line, but that was enough to tell me it was good! So you should go buy it, and then read it while you ponder the value of two-door bathrooms.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Maine Attraction

In honor of the fact that a good friend of mine has recently moved to Portland, Maine, and a new friend, Agent Brian, has just relocated from Portland to San Francisco, we have this post from Agent Steve, our other Maine man. Here he is, in his own words:

While showing off parts of Maine to some people “from away,” I decided to treat them to the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. Besides showing them a little bit of Down East, it was a good stop to stretch our legs, admire Robert Indiana’s EAT sculpture atop the Farnsworth, watch people scarf down lobster and most importantly, find a public bathroom.

We didn’t have far to look. Before the fun rides, before the carney games and before the enormous tent of crustacean gobblers, in fact just twenty feet beyond the oddly unoccupied entrance booth were a slew of port-a-potties, including the first handicapped-accessible I’ve ever seen (I don’t get out much). Happily, it was only the second day of the festival for the warning sign within seemed dire. Sign notwithstanding, I’m pleased to report the facilities were clean and included functioning hand sanitizer dispensers. In retrospect, the placement was perfect: not next to the eating tent and quite close to the rides that spin you around.

That is a serious looking warning!

And we agree with Steve. "Handicapped accessible" portapotties are far superior to "regular" portapotties. Every portapotty should have that much space to move around in. And we, too, are big fans of the hand-washing stations we've seen at some porta-pottied events recently. Thanks, Steve! We'll be thinking of you and that tasty Maine lobster. Mmm...

All photos: Agent Steve

Monday, October 12, 2009

MacGyver Freestyle Portapotty 200

This image comes to us from Agent Dave, via There, I Fixed It. It is unclear to us whether this homemade Throne was actually used, or just assembled and photographed to get up on the website. But still, it's a nice image. And maybe could give you all some ideas for when you're roughing it and/or your plumbing system craps out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hamster Potty

This is Pork Chop, my hamster, who never ceases to charm me with her curious antics.

A few weeks ago I went to Petco and purchased myself a Hamster Potty. Yes, you heard me. A hamster potty. How could I resist? It was only $8, and the picture of the hamster on the box was just so darn cute. Plus, I figured, hey, why not, if it saves me some bedding material (note: I use recycled fiber bedding. Very green. Well, actually, it's brown, but the package is green...). Anyway.

On the side of the box, it says training your hamster to use the potty is as "E-Z as 1-2-3." According to this article, it's more like "1-2-3-4-5-6." But I'm not sure Pork Chop got either memo.

Anyway, I set the thing up and then waited so that I could see which corner of the cage she likes to "go" in. Wouldn't you know it, she decided she likes to use the corner that's underneath her little climbing tube, where it would be impossible to fit the litter box doohicky thing. So when I changed the bedding, I just decided to put some of the soiled material into the litter box, like they said, put it in a nearby corner, and see if it worked.

Well, first she was curious. What's this new thing in my cage? Then she tried to eat the litter. It didn't take her long to find out she could crawl in, being that it is precisely hamster-sized, and then she proceeded to dig.

She ignored the soiled bedding and decided it was merely a fun place for her to explore. Pretty soon it looked like this:

I came home later in the day to find her just hanging out in the "potty" like it was her new front porch. Ah, Pork Chop. The designers obviously did not take into account your creative hamster mind. So much for "E-Z" hamster potty-training. But if nothing else, at least my little Pork Chop has a fun new place to hang out...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coffee Time

This past weekend, Agent B and I, along with friends Lisa & Robb (aka Agent Double-L) did a fundraising ride for the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (or BORP). Essentially, we rode along with hand-cyclists and adaptive cyclists of all kinds for a 25-mile tour of the Sonoma wine country. It was a beautiful ride, but an incredibly hot day, with temperatures topping out at around 100 degrees, Fahrenheit. Luckily, due to a glitch in some hotel booking, we ended up staying at the oh-so-posh Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa, where they do these neat little foldy things with the towels.

They also have something I've noticed in other hotels in the area, which is this bowed-out shower curtain rod. I'm not really sure what the purpose is. I suppose that if you are a more rotund sort of person, this could afford a little more comfort in the shower, but I can't say I saw a lot of very large people about the premises. (They also had a gym and a pool/spa.) I did wonder if the curtain rod had something to do with that annoying thing where you turn on the water and the force of it pulls the inner curtain, which is lighter, into the area where you are standing, which now has less air pressure due to the force of the water, which means that you have to fight the thing off while trying to shampoo your hair. That didn't happen to us, so if that was the purpose, it worked. But the crowning glory of the bathroom was definitely the coffee maker!

That's right. Normally, I would not think to involve my breakfast beverage with the toiletry unit, but there was something very charming about the whole set-up. There was actually sort of a divider between the toilet/shower area and the sink/mini-kitchen, which made it seem a bit more sanitary. I have to say, it was a little odd to brew my coffee in the loo. Nevertheless, I got a little bit of a kick out of it. Hey, at least the sink was near by. And I assure you there was no Austin Powers 2 type business going on.

So anyway, the ride was great, despite the heat. And of course, the wine at Trentadue Winery was delicious.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Celestial Bodies

This next installation of "toilets in space" comes to us indirectly via Agent Double-L-Awesome (and her facebook page)...

While the rest of us were mourning national tragedy, something else happened on September 11th, last Friday, when announced that an unusual glowing trail in the night sky was, in fact, a large amount of water from human liquid waste being ejected into space from the shuttle Discovery.

The amount of water ejected, according to the report, was approximately 150 lbs (or 68 kilos). The reason it was so much was that they were not able to eject any water during the 10-day visit to the International Space Station, due to external experiments taking place on the station's structure. (Also, if the ISO's main toilet was still broken, then there were probably more people using it).

When the waste water is released, it immediately freezes into tiny bits of ice, and then the heat from the sun causes it to sublimate and vaporize. Meanwhile, the light catches it and makes it look all pretty.

Space enthusiasts who watched the shuttle guessed as to what the strange trail formation was. One (Abe Megahed, who took the photo that you see), got it right when he wondered if it might have been a "massive, record-breaking urine dump?" Indeed, it was.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cheap Chic Wedding TP

Well, it is the end of the summer wedding season, heading into the fall wedding season, with a nod to all those out there who have just become engaged. Of course, in this economy, everyone is looking to save a little cash. And if you are getting married, probably all the more so. What cheaper way to get a wedding dress than by making one out of toilet paper? Every year, since about 2005, Cheap Chic Weddings has held a toilet paper wedding dress contest. The winner takes home $1,000 for their efforts, although, from the looks of it, I'm sure a larger sum than that should be in order to adequately compensate their efforts.

Here is the winning dress from this year's contest:

Pretty impressive! (Photo credit:

To see the runners up and get a look at the winners from previous years, go to the contest page.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Roughing it

California has some of the cushiest campsites I've ever been to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Especially since there was no natural water near by. It's just that I don't remember anything more than a portapotty at the campsites we used to go to when I was a kid - that's if we were lucky. (Oh, and by the way, yes, I did walk to school in 8 feet of snow. Uphill, both ways.) But seriously. I was quite impressed with the facilities at the Juniper campground on Mt. Diablo, where I camped with some friends recently. In this lovely structure you see above, there are a fair number of flush toilets, with sinks and mirrors and, yes, toilet paper, in the units. There were the two outdoor sinks, one of which had warm running water. And - AND! - There were showers.

They weren't showers like you would have in your home, so much, but they weren't bad. They were the Navy type showers, or like the kind I encountered in a hostel in France last year. You hit the button once, and you get about two minutes of continuous water before it shuts off automatically. So that way, you can douse yourself, soap up, then rinse off, without wasting too much water. (Hint: if you keep hitting the button, the water keeps running :). Only major downside is, there was no way to adjust the water temperature. So it was great when I came down from a hot hike to the summit of Mt. Diablo in 95-degree weather, and the water was just a little bit cold. But not so great, I guess, if you were hoping to get a warm shower in the morning.

Now, the only problem with this brilliant watering facility was that it was a fair hike from the campground where we were stationed. There was a faucet for cold water, to use for cooking, etc. And, at the top of the loop, there were two "long-drop" style outhouses. A long-drop is basically a permanent porta-potty. It looks something like this:

I might have mentioned there were two. In fact one of them was "out of order" due to state budget restrictions. I suppose it's good that that one was out of order and not, say, the shower house. I manged somehow to not use the long-drop, and toughed it out with long walks, but in case you're wondering, the entrance looked like this:

And inside it looked like this:

At least the scenery looked like this:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Green in the USA

So while we're on the subject of San Francisco museums, let's take a trip across the street to the new California Academy of Sciences building. My friend, Agent JeM (because of her initials) took a trip there recently and discovered that their green practices are not limited to the living roof. But while their website mentions their use of hand dryers in place of paper towels and avoiding anti-bacterial soap (They didn't say, but I'm assuming they have some other kind of soap in its place), they don't say anything about dual-flush toilets.

But that is exactly what Agent JeM found. Upon entering the bathroom stall, she was intrigued by this flush handle she saw, which is, quite literally, green. While most of the world (including Europe, Asia, and Israel) uses dual flush toilets - that is, a toilet that gives you the option to use a larger or smaller amount of water, thereby saving water when there's not much to flush - these toilets are not so common in the United States. Though I have seen them, this is the first one I've seen that incorporates the mechanism into a standard industrial-style flush toilet.

What I love most about it is the instructions posted on the wall. The drawing is pretty self-explanatory, but in case you have trouble reading it, it says, above the diagram: "UP for #1 (liquid waste)" and below the picture: "DOWN for #2 (solid waste)." Everybody got it? Now, to save the planet!

Kind of Blue

Last week, I stopped by the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park to check out the Tutankhamen exhibit. The King Tut exhibit is located on the ground floor (i.e. the basement), down a long stretch of shallow stairs. Before getting in line, I decided to use the ladies' room around the corner. Now, the DeYoung museum is a pretty spare building. The exterior is a boxy shape, made of indented copper. The interior, being an art gallery, consists primarily of flat white walls and large, undecorated windows. The women's bathroom on the ground level, by contrast, is this shocking blue-green turquoise, offset by pink and yellow flower arrangements.

In this shot above, you can see how many stalls there are, which is both brilliant and reassuring. There is nothing worse than going into a public restroom in a well-trafficked place and finding only two stalls to accommodate all five thousand of the women who need to use them at the same time. In this case, there was almost no one there. So I took these shots. Then I took this one of my water bottle, since it was nearly the same color as the tiling:

Unfortunately, in my excitement to see the artifacts from King Tut, I managed to leave my water bottle right there on the counter where I left it. So far, it's not been returned to the museum's lost and found.

So if you see anyone carrying this water bottle around San Francisco, will you kindly ask them to give it to you so you can return it to me? Thanks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nice "Plumbing"

Nuns and small children, avert your eyes! The rest of you can "check out" this interesting bathroom sink

installation in a men's room of undisclosed location. This image was sent to us by Agent Dave, and is interesting to say the least.

It's a clever idea, if not slightly disturbing. What I'd like to know is, what did they put in the women's room? There may not be a ladies' room if this is, as many surmise, a bathroom in a gay men's club. But even so, I'd have to say that while some gay (or other) men might appreciate this arrangement, not to mention some women, I'm not sure the same would go for a similar sculpture using female anatomy, even for Lesbians. Though it might. I don't know.

For some other odd and possibly disturbing urinal, toilet and sink presentations, go here. I'm a fan of the flower urinals myself, but this page is basically x-rated. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home Economics

Last weekend, I had occasion to consider the odd layouts of some San Francisco apartments. After a fun night of bhangra dancing, I crashed at a friend's place in the Sunset, where they have one of those odd arrangements involving a very small room with only a toilet and a light switch, while the sink and bathtub are in another room altogether. In her case, the two were separated by a small air shaft, with windows on each side. I've also seen it where the rooms are across the hall, etc. Don't ask me why they do this. I guess it means someone can still pee if another person is taking a long time in the shower. But then I wonder why it isn't more popular.

But the real inspiration for this post is the apartment of none other than Agent B! This apartment is a four-bedroom arrangement with a long hallway, and two bathrooms off said hallway. Since there are, typically, two men and two women living in the house at any given time, they have divided the bathrooms by gender, and designated them with signs.

Whenever I go for a visit, it's always a question: use "his" bathroom, or use the "girls'" bathroom? I generally opt for the ladies' room. Not that both bathrooms aren't clean, as you can see.

But notice that the toilet seat is up - way up - in the boys' room, and down - way, way, super down - in the girls' room. Now if this arrangement doesn't solve one major point of contention for all members of the household, I don't know what does.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dream Bathroom

Have any of you ever had a dream about toilets or bathrooms? I have. I have occasionally experienced them just before I wake up, only to find I have to pee like the dickens. Easy interpretation! In fact, I was told long ago this is why we dream of having to use the bathroom. But I was also told that it's not possible to do so in your dream, unless you are doing it in reality (very unpleasant), and this is not the case.

Just last night, in fact, I experienced a dream in which I successfully used a toilet and thankfully did not wake up in a puddle of warmth. I did have to head to the loo post-haste, however.

For some additional interpretations on what a dream about being in or using a bathroom can mean, there is an article about it here. I especially like the Freudian interpretations! But what it all comes down to is interpretation, period, since only you can know exactly what it means for you. And hey, maybe all it means is that your bladder is full and it's time to get out of bed - NOW!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Interactive Toilet Training

While Agent Dave and I were exploring Sausalito, we came across an Art Gallery that manages the estate of Dr. Seuss. While I drooled over the cast-resin wall mounting of the Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn and a tiny bronze statue of the Lorax, one of the Gallery agents calmly informed us that we couldn't take pictures due to copyright restrictions. But if your child likes Dr. Seuss, they might also like this Interactive Toilet:

I'm not sure that it looks *exactly* Seussical. Maybe a print of the Lorax and some tufts of hair on the back would improve the look. But it's still a nifty idea for an $18 project by a student for an Architectural Robotics class.

According to the YouTube video, they are not planning to market it. And it might even seem a little bit scary. But, judging by this website, some kids can use all the encouragement they can get to use the Potty. Maybe a little hi-five is not so bad.

It might also help the kids when they go to Japan, as they will be ready for the use of washlets and hands-free dryers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Yesterday, Agent Dave and I made an excursion to Sausalito, CA, where we stopped at this restaurant for a lovely outdoor meal. Afterwards, I asked for the Ladies' room, expecting the usual in-the-back-of-the-restaurant deal. Not so much. The host guy told me to go "Up the stairs, and to the right." Well, these were the stairs:

And at the top of the stairs, was this fountain:

Evidently, the restaurant was connected with a hotel above. And the bathroom was very nice. As you can see:

I especially love the ceramic tile detailing and the different sized mirrors under an arch. The lighting made it pretty nice as well. A nice place to refresh after a long day of bike-riding!

Monday, August 3, 2009

TP on film

The TP Blog had a moment of stardom last week in San Francisco. Walking up to the Embarcadero with Agent AshW, we noticed a scene of what appeared to be quite a lot of destruction. I was thinking: it's not even a weekend, why is there a street fair?

As we walked along, we noticed carts full of folding chairs on the other side of the police tape, and a film crew with big lights and fans alongside approximately 50 ambulances and a helicopter with no blades.

A crowd was gathering, and a sign in complicated legalese stated that all onlookers were allowing themselves to be filmed on camera as "extras." This was also announced several times by various people with megaphones. Nobody moved. I wondered how many people in the crowd were camera-shy at dinner parties, but perfectly willing to go on film if it meant being seen on national TV.

Turns out this was the filming of a new TV series for NBC about Paramedics, called "Trauma." I guess their pilot episode involved a staged tanker explosion on the Bay Bridge. Exciting!

This, we were told, was season one, episode two.

So Ash and I stood in the crowd as they gave us ad-hoc acting advice ("Remember, you're watching something serious. Don't laugh and smile."), and told the fake actor police officers to keep the crowd in line ("Don't lean on the police tape, that's a prop - stop smiling!").

I remember there was a fairly tall guy in front of us with greasy curls of hair protruding from his baseball cap. When he turned his head, I noticed he had unusually long nostrils. I couldn't figure out exactly what it was about him that seemed so shifty. But at one point, I looked down, and realized that he was holding a slightly squashed, individually shrink-wrapped roll of toilet paper behind his back.

Most of the time, he kept the TP under his blue windbreaker, but occasionally it would peek out, and I would wonder, what exactly is he carrying that around for? Possibly he went on an emergency TP run, and happened to stop to watch all the action. Heaven knows you wouldn't want be caught on camera, watching a medical emergency, with a roll of emergency toilet paper in your hand! But for some reason, despite his height, he seemed determined to stand at the front of the crowd, and therefore was compelled to hold the offending roll awkwardly behind his back, rather than just stand behind everyone else, where he could have put the toilet paper anywhere he very well pleased. Sigh. Oh well. People are strange.

When AW and I saw the toilet paper, we exchanged glances. Then she took a few photos of the set before the "police officers" and crew told us to stop snapping pictures.

Ah, a day in the life of a movie star extra! Welcome to our national television debut. And now, when you see the second episode of Trauma, season one, you'll know what that guy in the blue jacket is holding awkwardly behind his back...Sorry. You got busted!

{Photo: Agent AshW}

Friday, July 31, 2009

Toilets in Space!

Astronauts have to put up with a lot. Weird space suits. Freeze dried ice cream. Extreme temperatures. Not only that, when you're on the space station and your toilet craps out, you're pretty much sh*t out of luck.

That's what happened on the International Space Station (ISS) recently. And if you're superstitious, you might even think, that's what they get for putting 13 astronauts on one space station. Mission Control even told them to hang an "Out of Order" sign on the door. I bet the astronauts are pissed. But hey, I guess this is just a reminder that astronauts are people, too.

And since they are people, and they probably digest food and liquids, this means they need to evacuate every once in a while. And thanks to Prince Phillip's inquisitive mind, we have this lovely article to tell us how it's done.

Thing is, when you're on the space station, and the toilet is broken, you can't exactly just head out to the nearest McDonald's. But they do have the Shuttle Endeavor's facilities, which almost certainly are more cramped and uncomfortable than the ISS one looks to be:

And if they all crap out, then they reportedly have "Apollo-era" urine collection bags on hand. No mention of what to do with No. 2. But that sounds great. I'm sure they're real happy about that. There is also another back-up toilet on the Russian side, and that will be nice if the Americans get to use it, since, earlier this year, a Russian apparently got upset at not being able to use the US toilet due to "billing and cost issues." Sigh. Even when you get into space, you can't get away from it all.

Photos: NASA/BBC

{Thanks to Agent B for submitting the story from Slashdot!}

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nappy Time!

The author of this Wired Mag blog post is right: cloth diapering has come a long way since the early days. Just look at that photo! That rainbow of scrunchy, fuzzy-lined nappies just about makes me want to go out and have a baby just so he or she can sport some of these stylish duds. Or these, even more stylish.

Of course, I remember when my brother was born, back in the 80's, because I was six years old at the time. And my mom, being the green, crunchy mommy that she was, subscribed to a cloth diapering laundry service. I think it was called "Didey-Dee" or something like that. Anyway, we had the special covered plastic stinky bin for all the used diapies, and every week, the truck would come by to pick up the soiled naps and deliver stacks of cleaned, folded diapers.

I am even sure that I changed some of these diapers, helpful six-year-old that I was. My mom showed me the special way to fold them, and then pin them in the front (I think she did the pins). We had those big safety pins with the plastic, colored heads. Some of them even had bunnies and chicks on them. And then she'd put the big, plastic outer shield on. In all, it was a pretty bulky affair, but that's what we did.

I also remember the day my brother peed on the wall. But that's another story...