Monday, December 27, 2010

A Pretty Penny...

In honor of Holiday Travel, this post is dedicated to that supremely annoying, no-frills Euro airline, Ryanair. Because if all goes according to their plan, soon one of the "frills" they won't have is a toilet on the airplane that you don't have to pay for. That's right. Ryanair is hoping to charge £1 or 1 Euro for passengers to use the washroom. That's because they want to knock out the two restrooms in the back to make room for either more seats or for "standing room only" areas on commuter flights.

If they even happen, these changes would not take place until 2012 at the earliest, according to a Guardian article this past July. First, of course, the company has to pass some pretty high safety standards - but that's all having to do with the standing room issue. No one seems to be investigating the "safety" of having but one on-board restroom for an entire plane full of people with nowhere else to go (so to speak), and on top of that, charging for them to use it.

According to Ryanair, the goal is to discourage passengers from using the toilet at all. They are expecting people to use the restrooms at the airport before and after, and therefore not on the plane itself. I suppose that, flying around Europe, that is almost a reasonable request. Your flights aren't going to be more than a couple of hours long. But I can tell you that, as a person with not the hugest bladder in the world, using the loo right before I get on the plane does not guarantee that I won't have to an hour or even a half hour later. Sorry guys! Which leads me to believe that the people inventing this crazy system are all men, with enormous bladders, who believe that women who can't "hold it" are somehow weak or incapacitated. Yeah, and some of those women might even be pregnant. Great. So now you want to charge us for having a slightly different organic set-up than you, and then tell us it's our fault. No thanks, Ryanair!

But it's not only women who object to this policy. Ben Dickson of the Random Perspective has written a clever article on the topic. And there's an entire Facebook page devoted to "Links on 'Don't pay to use a Ryanair toilet - piss in their seats for free.'"

My advice? Don't take Ryanair. At the end of the day, they're not any cheaper than most other airlines - sometimes more expensive. And my experience is that they are just generally obnoxious and a pain in the neck. If you want cheap, pleasant travel from here to there in Europe, fly Easyjet. At least they haven't forgotten that, while people do enjoy saving money, they also don't like to be treated like cattle. Cattle that can somehow hold their bladders indefinitely at will.

{Photo courtesy the Daily Mail}

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Aeroport Toilets Genovese

Our brand-spanking-new Agent MMR has done some excellent reconnaissance work (unawares at the time) in the Geneva International Airport, when he was there in August of 2009. He was so impressed with the urinals in the men's room that he took a photo. "Unlike the toilet sequence from Trainspotting ('The worst toilets in Scotland'), these were clean, sanitized low flow urinals at Aeroport Internacional de Geneve," he writes.

I really like how there is one placed at a lower height. I guess for the kids and/or shorter individuals. But I'm wondering what are the horizontal bars on the tiles above each unit? Are they flush bars? Or do they somehow serve the function of getting you to stand closer, thereby improving your "aim"? Somewhat like the fly painted in the inside of the urinal, perhaps? That's pure conjecture on my part...

"Note that it was actually at the Amsterdam aeroport where the sanitary seat cover was a mechanized sleeve that spun around the toilet seat itself, relieving you of the somewhat tedious task of placing one over the lid yourself while [dancing anxiously] and then forgetting to knock out the center."

Now, unfortunately, there is no picture of the mechanized arms for seat covers, but that's something we'd really like to see!

{Photo: Agent MMR}

All Thai'd Up

Here's a little post from Agent NH:

"I wish I had taken a picture, because I saw a completely illogical bathroom the other evening. It was at Osha Thai on 2nd Street in SF, if you want to check it out. The women's restroom, when you enter it, looks like a one-person restroom, with a toilet, sink, etc. But then, tucked back around the corner, is a stall with another toilet in it. How does this ever work? I'm really curious about what design process led to that solution!"

We, too, are very curious. Maybe there used to be another stall? Maybe they had extra space, and thought, why not add another toilet in the washing-hands area? And is it even possible to lock the outside door? Or maybe it's just handy when you and a friend adjourn to the powder room together. One day perhaps we will go and check it out, and then we'll be able to offer you some first-hand pics. Or maybe our Architectural Agent NH will do us a nice little diagram ;)

{Top photo from Yelp, below, from the Osha Thai Website}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

World Toilet Day!

So, in case you missed it, World Toilet Day was last Friday, November, 19th. BUT you still have time to make a video about poo for this contest, run by Water for People. Well, they say make a video about poo. But it's really a video about toilets. All the stuff the TP blog is really about: toilet failure, toilet success and toilet innovation!

The World Toilet Organization ( has more info on World Toilet Day here. (Not to be confused with International Toilet Paper Day, which is August 26).

Meanwhile, get out your cameras/recording device of choice. The deadline for your poo-filled , toilet-happy video is December 2, 2010.

And if you are looking for mugs to hold your coffee, various containers for other liquids, or a tote for all that solid food you're going to eat, all to help you keep going back to the toilet again and again, you can shop the Water for People store here. Oh, and they have pens, too. So I guess you can keep a record of it.

Thanks to Agent BP for alerting us to this contest!

{Image via}

Friday, November 5, 2010

PSA of the Day

We already love the Oatmeal, purveyor of clever, quirky comickery. We also love actual Oatmeal, but that's a different story. We love it that much more when the big O decides to tackle public toilets! Namely, those annoying, flimsy seat-cover things that give you the illusion of a sanitary toilet-going experience.

Of course, why should we say it when Matthew Inman says it so well?

I will say this. When I moved across the country the to San Francisco area, I noticed those seat covers in public bathrooms a lot more. They must have them in Boston, I just don't remember them being a common fixture. Or maybe I just didn't grow up using them. I cringe to think of the nastiness I must have encountered unawares as a small child. But now I realize there are many more options, besides the awkward hover, which tends to not be conducive to actually relieving oneself. A clean toilet seat is always appreciated. Or, like the saying my friend's parents had on the wall in their bathroom, "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat, and wipe the seat."

I think a portable cloth seat cover with non-slip coating on the bottom would be quite useful. You could fold it up, put it in a carrying case, and take it home and wash it. At least you'd know it was only your bum that touched it! By the way, if you're reading this, and you think that's a good idea, consider this idea copyrighted. (Which means if you go and produce it, then I will expect some of the profits! There it is, in writing, just like my lawyer says.)

Or, if you like the Oatmeal's idea, you could always just bring your own spray cleaner to the bathroom with you, if you feel that strongly about it. Well, enjoy!

And you can thank us later...

{Thanks to new Agent AP for bringing this to our attention, and all credit for the images to The Oatmeal!}

Monday, November 1, 2010

House of TP

Okay, so Halloween is just over - joyous celebration of fear, candy, costumes, and the time-honored tradition of TP-ing your neighbor's house. Just stepping out the front door to find your trees, shrubs and lawn all covered with TP? Start planning now to get back at your neighbors and/or their kids with this (very detailed) Wiki How-To from Wired magazine. They cover everything from planning and preparation to throwing technique, to the perfect finish. And, oh yeah, legal issues. So get ready. Get your TP game face on...

Go forth and conquer!

{Link thanks to Agent Double-L 7 (who didn't know she was scouting for us), and the photo courtesy of Wired mag.}

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Food Expert on Toilets

I was listening to NPR one day this year when a rerun of this episode of "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell me" came on, featuring Michael Pollan answering several questions about Japanese toilets.

Michael Pollan is, well, Michael Pollan. He lives in the Bay Area, and he tells an embarrassing story in this clip about getting caught buying some Fruity Pebbles for his son in the Berkeley Bowl. If you don't know Berkeley Bowl, it's about the crunchiest grocery store you can imagine in the crunchiest town you can imagine. And Michael Pollan, writer of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "The Botany of Desire" defends local, organic food consumption - you get the idea.

You have to listen to the end of the clip to hear the part about the toilets, but it's well worth the listen. In the process, they discuss Twinkies and Ring Dings, etc. And they actually say, in the course of the interview, that the scriptwriters of "Wait, Wait" discussed what kind of topic they were going to address, trying to figure out a subject Mr. Pollan wouldn't know much about. Since he deals mostly with food, they went with - well, the opposite end of the process.

But Pollan does say, at the end of the interview, that they gave him a good idea for a sequel. So we look forward to sharing with you Pollan's discourse on "what comes out the other end."

A full transcript, with audio, is available here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sink it to me, Baby

Leave it to a Japanese designer to come up with a sink/urinal combo apparatus that atually looks attractive. AND it saves space. We already have a toilet+sink combo for the average tiny-sized bathroom. Now we have something for space-challenged public men's rooms, so they hopefully don't end up with something like this.

Here's how it works:

Relieve yourself in the lower portion, then, without even having to walk across the room, wash your hands in the upper bit, and the water from hand-washing clears away the remaining liquid waste. Pretty good, right? It's logical AND ecological.

Only thing I'm wondering about is, why the glass-bottomed sink? Is there really a need to see through to what you're doing? Don't most guys look around and try to at least act distracted while they're at the urinal, for fear of accidentally looking where they shouldn't, while they do their best not to talk to anyone? Guys, you can help me out here. My urinal etiquette is pretty limited. On the other hand, you might have the issue of "aim," so from that angle, it could be useful. Or else the designer, Mr. Yeongwoo Kim, just thought it looked good in glass.

Now if you really like glass bathrooms, you should check out some of these designs.

{Thanks to Agent B for this week's topic. Images courtesy of Geekologie}

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Kind of Doo-Rag

Agent Iguana shared with us this discussion of "Pee Rags" from Ask Umbra of The Grist. It is certainly a worthy cause: reducing waste.

But the TP Blog is going to admit that it takes us one big mental leap to get over the idea of using cloth nappies to clean ourselves, saving them in a bucket, then washing them and using them over again. Maybe it's not so much the gross factor of keeping bits of your own waste in a container, then putting them in the washing machine, where you presumably wash the rest of your clothes, and reusing them - though that is certainly there. Maybe it's just that it's more reminiscent of what you do with baby cloth nappies (ok, diapers, if you don't like the Britspeak). It seems a bit like "adult diapers" to us. Granted, diapers that you don't actually wear. But reusable, cloth-based, "pee-rags" no less.

But about that "ick factor," I remember on one occasion, I visited a friend's home, and we spent some time with her parents. Something was apparently wrong with their plumbing system at the time, and her father had decided that not even toilet paper could go down the toilet. So he'd set up a bucket, just like Umbra says, in which to place the used toilet paper. I found the idea pretty much heinous and refused to participate. I also decided to "hold it." Call me squeamish, but, well, when I'm not in the woods, I prefer not to leave my "issues" out in the open. It feels a little overly personal to me.

On a practical level, it seems hard to think of all the trees you are saving when you are trying to figure out a way to cover of the smell of what you're using.

However, this article does have a useful analysis of tree-salvage vs. water usage, which is helpful, at least in getting a grasp of just how much energy your toilet paper does use. Not only in trees, but in energy production, as well.

So, knowing that, I think I might try to use less toilet paper. But I am not yet a convert to the pee-rag solution. Thanks, Iggy!

{Photo courtesy of the Grist}

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When you really gotta "glow"

Agent Dave has found us this glowing treasure from, based in the UK. All right, so it's too far to get a truckload of glowing toilet paper delivered to your doorstep in one of their lorries - but if you live in England, you can!

Gadget No. 1016: It looks like normal loo roll, it feels like normal loo roll and it can be flushed away like normal loo roll, but this neat invention contains phosphors which give off a soft green glow when exposed to light.

Hm, sounds shady to, glowy? I really cannot vouch for the safety of this product. I, personally, feel a bit uncomfortable about shoving a wad of glowing tissue paper "where the sun don't shine" because I figure it doesn't shine there for a reason. So I think I'd prefer to keep it that way.

However, you could always use your glowing TP roll to shed some light on your sudoku puzzle:

{Photos courtesy of GadgetShop}

Monday, July 26, 2010


These 3 photos come from a list of 15 unusual ways to solve problems. I'm not even sure what all of these problems ARE. Some of them just look like people doing random stuff with implements and ladders, and oh yeah, duct tape. That one of the patch of duct tape on the flap of the airplane wing would be a little disheartening to see. I imagine that a passenger shot that while on an actual flight. Now we KNOW that the economic crisis is getting serious when airlines need to use duct tape to fix their wings! But I digress. Let me see if I can figure out what all these issues were...Okay:

1) Aliens landed at this campsite in the middle of the desert and stole the knob off this faucet for "research purposes." Then some unsuspecting camper got fed up with no water, decided to use their house key to solve the problem, and thought they were super clever about it, until they got home and realized they had no house key.

2) Got no toilet paper holder? Tired of pesky people stealing your TP roll? Just get yourself a couple of eye-screws and a bike lock. BAM! Problem solved!

3) How stupid are those useless gel wrist pads? I mean, they're all squishy and great, but they *still* put your wrist at a pretty bad angle for mouse work. Heck, I usually hold my wrist ABOVE the wrist pad to get comfortable. But look at what this guy does! What great ergonomic posture! He is SO not getting carpal tunnel syndrome. And the bonus? If someone broke the bike lock on the TP in the rest room, he is totally prepared!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heaven & Hell

On a more serious note, it is easy to take our toiletry for granted. It is easy to be amused by a funny sign in the restroom, because the restroom is going to be there, isn't it? But you know, try camping for a few days, and you'll get a lot more excited about indoor plumbing.

Heck, just last weekend, I went out river rafting and was glad to see a toilet when I returned - and that was just for a day! They even had permanent latrines at the landing site, but, well, you know, being in nature, I wanted to "connect with nature." But I digress...

It is interesting to me how many times I hear toilets, bathrooms, and their various accoutrements compared to "Heaven," while their lack, or malfunction can be compared to "Hell." A faulty plumbing system? Definitely Heck. A handheld bidet sprayer? Heaven, according to this guy.

But there really are people in the world (quite a lot of them) who do not have access to sanitation facilities, and this is actually quite a public health issue. It's the reason the World Toilet Organization exists. Might sounds like a funny name, but it's really not, when you think about it. You know how bad it is when you just "gotta go" and you can't find a restroom? What if that was your life? All day, every day. It would be quite different.

Agent HoJo also recently sent us this Blog Post about the toilet sanitation crisis in Mumbai. "Toilet Heaven" is a street corner with multiple double-decker toilet facilities. "Toilet Hell" is, well, just about everywhere else, apparently.

The fact that even our poorer citizens in the US can practically take toilets bathrooms and toilet paper all for granted shows just how wealthy a country we really are, even if we complain about lack of government services and economic downturn, etc., etc. I think possibly to much of the rest of the world, we look like a bunch of whining babies. Of course, we do have citizens who live on the street, who don't have access to adequate hygiene facilities. Living near San Francisco, I see it all the time. It's a pretty sad phenomenon.

So the next time you go to use a toilet, before you complain about the bad lighting or bunched up hand towels, or a lack of seat covers, take a moment to just be grateful. Be grateful that you *have* a toilet that is at least relatively comfortable. And think about someone who a is a little less fortunate.

{Photo courtesy the Polis Blog}

Out(back Steak)House

This one makes me laugh! Intrepid Agent AshW, is staying in NC for the summer (with Agent HoJo), and snapped this one in a local Outback Steakhouse. It's a sign pointing toward the restrooms, of course...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Melt Your Heart Out

Here is a lovely one from Agent Ash W in Colorado. She sent us this pic of a sign next to the mirror in the ladies' room of the Melting Pot in Littleton, CO. How did she know I love fondue? Now, I wonder what it said in the guys' room - "Offer her (or him) the last strawberry"?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Use the Tube

Our awesome Eco-Agent IGA has come up with another fair use for toilet roll tubes after you've used up those last scraps of paper that stick on with the glue so that you have to pick it off in that annoying way. In her own words:

Reuse tip x2! Use old toilet paper cores to save gift ribbon to use again. Simply tape one end of the ribbon to the paper core, wrap around and tape the end to the ribbon.

Et Voilà! As an added bonus, not only does it keep your extra ribbon bits from getting tangled in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, AND keep TB tubes out of recycle bins/landfills - it looks pretty!

Thanks, Agent IGA! {Photo credit: I.G.}

Addendum: There are some toilet paper tubes that don't like having ribbon wrapped around them, and they make faces like this.

Update: Our agent wants to be called "Iggy," so we'll call her "IGGS" for short. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mission: Restroom

The TP Blog is a little "back-logged" right now with some awesome posts and submissions that have been coming in that we just haven't posted because of time and life and this and that. But Agent M sent in a link today to "the best task force ever." Check it out: the San Francisco Recreation and Parks department has a Restroom Task Force.

Or at least they did. It looks like they were getting a lot of "business" done in 2009. There's so much information on the page, it's hard to know where to start! Hm...Do I go with "Draft Restroom Taskforce Report Appendix A" from June 12, 2009, "Restroom List," or the "Restroom Design Feedback page?" So many choices! Personally, I'm kind of interested in the "Restroom Cost Comparison by Capital."

But this is serious business! I mean, someone's got to make sure that our public restrooms are working and cost effective and structurally sound.

However, I like to think that the "taskforce" was doing their survey of public toilets in black suits and ties, with earpieces and hidden cameras. Perhaps parachuting down from helicopters, armed with plungers. Now *that* would be an awesome taskforce.

Friday, May 14, 2010

TP for Yoo

Some people really don't like John Yoo. I don't like Yoo either. (heheheh) But seriously. If you walk around Berkeley, you will see "Arrest John Yoo" signs stapled to telephone poles. (They could have said "Yoo should be arrested," but they didn't.) And one man made a very special protest, which, in view of toilet paper and the amount of energy he put into it, is practically a compliment.

I guess some people believe Mr. Yoo has trampled on the United States Constitution with his legal practices and rendered them something of a waste product. So one artist from LA decided to have our country's founding documents printed on rolls of toilet paper and deposited them in the bathrooms of the UC Berkeley's legal building, Boalt Hall. He then took the rolls of toilet paper that he removed and left them in a pile in the Dean's office (where Yoo works).

So it was sort of like a one-two punch (in the nether regions). Or it was supposed to be. But to have someone go to that much trouble and expense on your behalf seriously is almost like a compliment. In fact, at first when I watched the video, I thought it was propaganda *for* John Yoo. Not so much. Though I don't think he printed Yoo's face on the TP.

But you can watch the video and see for yourself:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tiny Toilets

Today, Agent HoJo has helped us to discover Apartment Therapy's list of the Best Small Toilets of 2010. Complete with sexy-haired women in stiletto heels, this listing showcases some of the newest, bestest toilet technologies that will let you get a loo into a tiny space and/or utilize a tiny amount of water for the flush. And really, who can't go for that, on this eve of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day?

Some of these designs are quite lovely as well (even without the model!). Personally, I like the two Caroma models at the bottom of the list. That second one is especially cool-looking. The first one, too, though I think what I really like about it is the shiny purple tiling on the back wall, with matching toilet roll cover.

Images via Apartment Therapy

Friday, March 12, 2010

CSI: San Francisco Bathroom

I had occasion recently to visit the bathroom at CSI: San Francisco (otherwise known as Congregation Sherith Israel). The synagogue's building was built in 1904, just before the big SF earthquake of '06. And it survived (whew!). In addition to a beautiful painted dome upstairs, with an organ and some lovely stained-glass work, they also have this nifty ladies' restroom on the ground floor.

As you can see, there is a whole powder room before you even get to the bathroom part of it. Above, you can see the make-up/touch-up area, with a big mirror, curlicue chairs, and bottles of lotion.

There is also a huge couch, a chair, full-length mirror, and fresh orchids. Not too shabby. The major bonus of this set-up, though, is the fact that, when the line gets long, you just wait in here, instead of standing around in the hallway.

In the next room, which is not as big, there are sinks, a stained-glass window, and a baby changing station, cleverly located near the heating unit, which is a good thing, because these big old buildings are hard to keep warm.

In the third section, there are toilet stalls. And the architects somehow managed to cram a significant amount of them into a fairly small space. So even though it's a little cramped, there's enough for everybody. And the doors are even on automatic springed hinges, so they stay open when they're not locked - no guessing or checking under the door to see if someone is in the stall.

I think the details in the whole bathroom are just lovely, like these charming and oh-so-unnecessary embroidered cases for the tissue boxes. Kind of makes you want to blow your nose and wipe that little tear forming at the corner of your eye because it's just so beautiful.

They also have a very nice "modern" bathroom in the building annex next door, but you know, I think this one just has so much charm. It reportedly has had its attention, back in the day. And, as I hear it, the men's loo is not nearly so special. In fact, given that, I think this one makes up for those tricked out men's rooms from the America's Best Restroom competition. No pool tables or shoe-shine stations here. I think the building designers knew where the priorities were when it came to restroom facilities. And I'm all about the powder rooms, so this is going down as one of *my* favorites.

Check it out if you're ever in the area!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Detective Toilet Cam

I love Law & Order. Specifically, I like Law & Order SVU. It's not sketchy, I swear! Oh, and I write a blog about toilets - #$%@&! Crap. Well, whatever. It's not sketchy. But those two things are both, admittedly, potentially sketchy. And what do you get when you combine two potentially sketchy things that I like to do? *Magic*

Witness Exhibit A - Law & Order SVU: Year Five, Episode 25 (last episode). They really went out with a "bang" that year. I haven't even watched very far past the intro, and I had to stop and write this. So there won't be any spoilers. Unless you want to be surprised by the intro, in which case, STOP READING!!

The show begins with - and this is where the TP part comes in - a perp who installs a mini-cam into a public toilet. I know, I know, gross. Even I think it's gross. I am not here to commend the installation of waterproof cameras in public places where the sun don't shine. It's just not OK.

What I do commend, however, is the wanton use deadpan toilet puns in the script. For instance, the squad Captain calls the installer of the camera the "potty perp." And the intro, which often ends with a clever one-liner, did not disappoint. Since the high-tech gadget was a wireless transmitter, set up to stream the illicit video directly to someone's computer, Detective Stabler (Chris Meloni), observed that they would be looking for the "guy who downloaded the most crap."

Ah, writers of L&O SVU, I <3 you.

UPDATE: Of course, as you might expect, the entire episode becomes more sordid after that (if you can imagine). The potty-cam turns out to be just the entrée to the "real crime," and after about 10 minutes, we don't see that guy again. But it all starts with technology getting into the wrong place, as it were. So, not to inspire paranoia or anything, but if you do happen to be in a public bathroom and you see a miniature camera pointing at you, maybe try and find a different stall. Or at least be decent and cover the thing up.

That's our public service announcement for the day.

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Last night was a first. Not the first time that I've dreamed of toilets and bathrooms, but the first time I dreamed about *blogging* about toilets and bathrooms. So I'm going to write about it.

As I remember, in the dream, I found myself waiting in line multiple times in a ladies' room. Once it was at a wedding reception, and once at - I don't know what it was, I forget. Somewhere where there were a lot of people. Anyway, in both cases, I was waiting for inordinately long periods of time while groups of four or five girls would hang out and talk and put on makeup and check email on their phones all in one stall, while I was waiting there having to pee. I could see all this because there wasn't really a door on the stall, just kind of a curtain thingy. Plus, it was really just obvious.

So, for one of these (the wedding reception, I believe), I went in and told them what was up. I said that they had to actually pee, or clear out. And so they did. It was great. Badass bathroom confrontation.

And after that (in my dream), I thought to myself, "I really have to blog about this," i.e. the women in the stalls using their phones and whatnot. So here I am. I'm blogging about it. Except that it didn't happen in a real restroom that I can remember. But it might...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Modern Vomitorium

Here is the latest toilet post from the FAIL Blog, via Agent B, which stands for "Barfolomew" today.

As a urinal, this contraption is clearly FAIL. Either you'd have to have exceedingly long legs and a rather short torso, or you'd have to be a midget given to action spy adventure activity and prefer to take a whiz while grabbing onto handle bars with your feet half-way up the wall. Somehow I just don't see those two things requiring an entirely separate and otherwise useless device in a public restroom.

However, if this is indeed not a urinal but the modern equivalent of a vomitorium, then it is not an epic FAIL but an epic SUCCESS! Because it requires not that you get your face near some nasty toilet bowl, nor do you have to spew chunks down the sink, where it stops up the drain, and that is just nasty.

But what I'm wondering is, where would a bathroom have to be to require such a device, dedicated solely to the issuing of material from the front end, not the back end? A bar? A sports arena? A hospital? An office building? This place looks like a hotel. And even though I see handles on the wall, I don't see anything with which to hold back your hair. But I guess that's what friends are for...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Best Restroom

A while ago, at a birthday picnic in the park, someone {Agent A} shared with me that there was such a thing as "the country's best restroom." Turns out this is a contest held every year sponsored by Cintas facilities services. The description of why they created the awards sounds a lot like what The Toilet Paper believes about the value of public restrooms - that they should be awesome!

Last year's winner was the men's bathroom at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee (pictured above). It's an art deco bathroom, with leaded glass tiling and - a shoe shine station? Yes, because it was a men's room only.

Here is a pretty clever article about a guy who checked out the hotel bathroom and various other "Nash Vegas" experiences. I don't quite have the full story on why the men's room is so cool that they have to post a sign outside that says it's okay for ladies to take a peek if no one's in there. And they regularly give tours to women who visit.

I remember Agent A saying something about the fact that, since it was last renovated in 1930, and the bathroom is right off the hotel's Oak Bar, I guess the bar at the time was a men's only spot. I think even the word "speakeasy" might have been said, which seems likely, given that the hotel itself was built in 1910. But it's not in any of the published articles that I found. Maybe they're trying to cover something up. But anyway...

The winner for 2009 was the Shoji Tabuchi theater in Branson, Missouri:

Pretty fancy, right? This one does include a Ladies' powder room. But the men get a hand-carved mahogany billiard table in case they, you know, want to shoot pool while they are waiting for an open urinal. Why do the men get to have all the fun in these bathrooms? But I guess I can't complain. It's better than this men's room.

For the ABR hall of fame, go here. And we can't wait to see which decorative loos are nominated for 2010!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Downsizing Stinks

Today, a columnist at the Toronto Sun announced that the newspaper will soon be undergoing toilet downsizing. Due to building renovations by the owners, employees of the paper will no longer be able to roam six stories of building in order to find a good place to "go." The columnist quoted our friend and toilet science colleague Dr. Michael Sykes over at the ICBE about the etiquette of using the loo in close quarters with colleagues. Sykes says, “There’s work life and personal life, and by personal life I don’t mean what movies you’ve seen."

True enough. But I don't get a lump of fear in my throat when I think about going to the loo in close proximity to my colleagues. Well, I guess I do a little bit. It's always a bit harrying to see your boss coming in or out of the ladies (or men's) room. I once was walked in on by my boss on the first day of work, due to a faulty door lock. That was a trial by fire. And ice-breaker of sorts. But I don't get nervous about it because everyone has to do it. At some point in the day, you will, inevitably, have to find a place to relieve yourself, and so I balance discomfort at being around people you know with convenience and shortest distance traveled.

I'll take shortest distance traveled any day. Unless the bathroom itself is located in an uncomfortable spot, like, say a lobby. But I will say, having one bathroom for an entire company can certainly build a sense of community.

Anyway, if you want to read the full article, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Day at the Outhouse

And now for our next installment of outhouse romance, compliments of Awkward Family Photos.

We're not sure what the inspiration for this photo was. Maybe they thought it would be both quaint and suggestive to have the guy happily watching as his fiancée appears to be entering the outhouse. And does anyone else think it's creepy that he's standing with his face right by the window?

But in all seriousness, I owe my existence in part to an outhouse. I kid you not. My great-great grandfather came to America, and while he was staying with relatives in upstate New York, he fell in love with his next door neighbor, whom he saw walking every day to the outhouse in her back yard. I like to think it was less of a creepy thing and more of an unavoidable voyeuristic event because he lived on the second floor and everyone had outhouses in those days. But the bottom line is: I owe my life to a toilet.

Now if that's not awkward, I don't know what is.

But maybe these "romantic" photos are not so off-base after all?

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Romantic Engagement

This one we found on Awkward Family Photos. It appears to be a couple who has just become engaged, and are celebrating this romantically by smooching between charming "his" and "hers" porta-loos. What a way to begin their life of intimacy in true love and total lack of personal privacy. Compliments of U.S. Waste.

But those are some pretty cool-looking porta-potties.

Thanks to Agent K.

Friday, January 15, 2010

This Toilet is Crap

Virginia's Toilet / Virginia Gardiner / The Bathroom Reinvented / Dwell from gary nadeau on Vimeo.

Literally. It's a toilet made of poo. We think that's the ultimate in self-reference. But that's just the introduction. This student is out to create waterless toilets, to save the world from excess flushing and transform poo into something useful.

Who knows if it will ever catch on in the Western world, but we think she's onto something. If nothing else, we feel a kinship, because she, like us, realizes how useful toilets are. but you probably haven't heard this much about poo since you were three.

We discovered this video on the World Toilet Day Facebook page. Follow the link for more information.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Musical "Chairs"

What you are looking at here is the iCarta iPod toilet paper holder. That's right, straight from the Macworld 2007 showroom floor to your sophisticated, musically-enhanced bathroom, this lovely item promises to "enhance your experience." Of what? Sitting on the toilet, we suppose? Brushing your teeth? Dancing around after a shower?

You'll notice that the two arms on the front fold in, so it doesn't technically *have* to be a toilet paper holder. That's more of an extra bonus. Like what else would you want your iPod dock to do, besides play music and charge your iPod? Darn things. Might as well make them do something useful, right?

This guy puts them all over his house, apparently, including at least two in the loo, it seems. The grammar here is a little off. I still want to know what s/he means by, "The high tech is a terrific pink for a house." But, as s/he points out, while the four integrated high-performance speakers are "moisture-free" that doesn't mean your iPod is, so he says he has to be careful when "taking a hot shower." Always recommended.

This one is from my dad - we'll call him Agent P (for Padre). And it's befitting of him, since he's always the one to know all things gadget. And this post is dedicated to Agent C in Mass., who recently suffered the loss of her iPod. RIP.