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...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Handy Dandies

This was so ridiculous, we just couldn't resist. Agent Dave (who didn't know he was scouting for us) unearthed these fashionable gems: Handerpants! The, um, underwear for your hands!

Featured on Archie McPhee, they also have their own website, detailing their many and varied useful attributes, including "distracts enemies." I'll say. Probably distracts anybody!

At first, this had me thinking, what dastardly deed are my hands going to be doing for which I would need handerpants? Then I realized, they are just so freakin' stylish, the way they're constructed with that blue-and-white wristband and the seams that look just like the seams on real men's underwear!

Dave suggests they should come in "boxers." I think they should expand to patterns, like plaid and Superman. But I also think a little Hello Kitty and some flowers and stars are in order. Everyone knows girls love to wear pretend girly-decorated boys' underwear. This will go over great with the high school crowd! And check out the brilliant video they made, as a tribute to Billy Mays. You'll be so convinced, you won't know how you ever lived without them!

At $11.95, we think the TP blog could totally rock these. And don't forget your Handerpants ringtones!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Restaurant Bathrooms

Blog posts like this one in the San Francisco Chronicle are all about why the Toilet Paper blog got started in the first place. Okay, well, sort of. Maybe it got started because I was blogging about toilet paper in France. Hey, I'm not the only person who noticed that the French like pink toilet paper! (If you click the link and watch the video, skip to minute 1:40, and note that pink TP is at the top of his list)

But before there was French toilet paper, there were many, many experiences in restaurants, bars, etc., both foreign and domestic, and what this Chronicle writer says is true; whether or not the status of the bathroom is an actual indicator of the kitchen's cleanliness, it certainly does say something about the level of respect the restaurant owner has for his or her patrons.

On the other hand, if the wrap stand in a back alley in Germany has awesome doeners and the staff are friendly, I'm happy if they have a bathroom AT ALL. Then again, it being Germany, that bathroom was pretty clean, even if it was a closet. So that's a bad example. But you get the idea. Point made, I guess.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pitt Stop

The TP Blog is a big fan of when toilets make it into high-profile national media. So here we have Brad Pitt featured at the urinal in Wired Magazine's cover story on modern etiquette. The story - and image - were then picked up by NPR's Digital Culture section. I think this just goes to show how important the bathroom scene is to us, especially when it comes to rules of etiquette.

What I find perplexing in this photo is not Brad on his Blackberry, but that dude in the plaid suit next to him. What exactly is he doing? Futzing with the zipper? Shakin' off the tree? Who knows. But how embarrassing, for him. Maybe Brad was just checking his text messages so he wouldn't have to look and see what that guy was doing, since, obviously, someone was performing bad etiquette when they took the urinal next to the other guy. So much a no-no that it's the ICBE's logo.

{The International Center for Bathroom Etiquette}

There's a lot of other stuff in the Wired article, not just celebrities on toilets. For example it IS acceptable to text message someone while having a conversation. It is? I guess so. I've done it. But I always excuse myself when I do, because I know I'm not giving full attention to the other person so I feel it's slightly rude. Hey, maybe rude is the new black of polite society. I guess that makes me old fashioned.

But even though we now have photographic suggestive evidence that Brad does, indeed, relieve himself every once in a while, everyone knows female celebrities do not. For example, there was the famous Ashton Kutcher/Demi debate a while ago, wherein they had an online Twitter exchange about how to hang the toilet paper roll. About that same time, Ashton Tweeted once that his wife was about to go pee. Demi promptly corrected him and forced him to recant, subsequently stating that she neither pooped, farted, nor peed. Ever. And there you have it. Boys can pee. Girls, well, you'll never know. We gotta keep some of the mystery.

Friday, July 17, 2009

TP America!

Our friend Michelle {Agent M} has sent us this patriotic post, just in time for the 4th of July - well, okay, July anyway. Same month!

Anyway, it's a very interesting history of toilet paper, compliments of CNN and Mental_Floss Magazine.

In short, it is the story of how what was once an embarrassing personal product that people were afraid to buy becoming not only a household staple, but a global indicator of cultural development. And a useful way for kids to decorate trees during Halloween. We've come a long way, baby?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scary Paper

Speaking of Japan, here's a novel idea: print your toilet-based horror novel on a roll of toilet paper!

Japanese horror novelist Koji Suzuki is the author behind the story that eventually became the Hollywood blockbuster "The Ring." His latest novella, aptly titled "Drop" takes place in a public toilet whose bowl is possessed by an evil spirit.

Suzuki partnered with Hayashi Paper Corp. to have his story printed in blue (with spatters of red) on toilet paper rolls, instead of going the normal book-publisher route. {Just goes to show, I suppose, how much the publishing industry is truly in the toilet.}

What I love is that it solves so many problems at once. You get handy reading material for the bathroom. It's cheap (a roll will cost you just under $3, or £1.40), plus, you don't have to worry about what to do with the book, once you've read it.

And if you get scared reading about a possessed toilet bowl while you happened to be sitting on one, you can relax because you get to have the last laugh when you use it to wipe your bum. Only downside: may only be available in Japanese...for now!

{Photo courtesy of Telegraph UK/AP}

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Handy Helper

Whatever your home or business office needs, this little guy has got you covered. Aptly named the "Butt Station," and looking like the cute, sleek designs I saw in shops all over Italy, he (or I guess she) dispenses tape like toilet paper and holds a pencil in his mouth. That's to prevent him from biting his tongue.

Always getting his business done, I'm sure he'll be useful in helping you with yours. Or, if nothing else, he'll provide an amusing distraction and/or conversation piece to get things rolling with that cute office mate down the hall you've been dying to talk to. That is, if s/he doesn't avoid you for the rest of your life after seeing this dude on your desk.

Geekily Eco Toilets

Here is a toilet recently featured on EcoGeek. {Once again, a stellar submission from Agent Double-L.} The idea here is that, after using the loo, you wash your hands in this little basin that sits on the back of your toilet. The water helps refill the tank for the next time you go to flush.

This is not, as many people will be quick to point out, an exactly new idea. Toilets like these have been common in Japan for many years now, because of the way they save space. I've never been to Japan, but we had a very small bathroom in an old house I grew up in in New England, where the sink was basically in your lap. An arrangement like this might have been useful. (More on Japanese toilets later.)

This site sells attachments that you can affix to your own toilet, without having to replace the entire apparatus.

But I still say that, even though I like the idea of saving water and reusing and all that, I feel awkward about a) straddling the toilet seat to wash my hands, and b) washing my hands in the same place where I just relieved myself. Even though I know that, technically, the water is clean, still my inner sense of hygiene calls for some, if nominal, degree of separation.

There could be other ways to use grey water for toilet flushes, however, such as collecting rain water, or shower water. Rainwater might have worked well for my friends in Boston, although, I could understand if they weren't feeling particularly like they wanted to save water right now, after being saturated for the entire month of June. Let's hope they see some summer weather in July.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Moon Paper

When I first saw the opening page of this book on my friend's facebook page, with the subcaption, "Your inner grammar nazi may faint after reading this," I thought it was just a hilarious example of bad writing that made its way past a publisher.

But oh, it was so much more...

As I traveled to the Amazon page to find out what sort of publisher would print such a collection of words (Xlibris - beware!), I found some very amusing information. Perhaps more hilarious than the actual text of the book itself were the user "reviews." Out of 67 reviews, 53 people gave it a 5-star rating. Five people gave it 4 stars, and only 7 gave it one star.

One of those one-star reviewers pointed out that the first page of the book made it to Digg due to its hilariously painful use of grammar (or lack thereof). Many 5-star reviewers claim it is god-like or messianic in it's eschewing of traditional grammar principles.

So I know what you're thinking: What does this have to do with toilet paper? Read on. As I read through the reviews, which were just as bad as the writing in the book, I found this gem from a "J. Salmeron":

Reading this book made me realize two things:
1. There is a God.
2. The Author is his prophet.

Since I know how those 2 statements may sound a little incredible, let me ellaborate.
While feeding the homeless, I found that among the things they were going to use as toilet paper was this book. Since the cover attracted me, I decided that I should just remove the excrement stains and read it. That was probably my best excrement-related decission to date.
The homeless gathered around me as I told them the tales of the moon people, and as I showed them the incredibly detailed and realistic cover picture. Even the grumpy and erratic one (that we all call "cracky") joined in.
That day the homeless and I started a new religion ("The Moon's People Temple"), and we're planning to go to Guyana and start a new promised land ("Moonstown").
We shall prevail!

Aww. It almost makes me choke up. It's so beautiful!

(Note that the cylindrical spaceship resembles a toilet paper tube...)

Image courtesy of