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}