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: