Tuesday, 26 February 2008

God is everywhere... even in the bog

A godly father, sitting on a draught
To do as need and nature hath us taught,
Mumbled (as was his manner) certain prayers,
And unto him the devil straight repairs,
And bodly to revile him he begins,
Alleging that such prayers were deadly sins
And that he shewed he was devoid of grace
To speak to God from so unmeet a place.

The reverent man, though at first dismayed,
Yet strong in faith, to Satan thus he said:
Thou damned spirit, wicked, false and lying,
Despairing thine own good, and ours envying,
Each take his due, and me thou canst not hurt,
To God my prayer I meant, to thee the dirt.
Pure prayer ascends to Him that high doth sit,
Down falls the filth, for fields of hell more fit.

- Sir John Harington, 1596.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Dirty Bombs

There's nothing worse than walking into a toilet and finding pee on the seat. Or so I thought until Thursday.
A friend walked into the toilets at her work and discovered not one, but two poo pellets on the seat.
I have a number of questions about this.
  1. How do you manage to poo on the toilet seat?
  2. How does that poo end up all the way up the back of the seat?
  3. Finally, how do you not notice the poo on the seat and then CLEAN IT THE HELL UP?

My friend, being a fellow Toiletiquette Fiend, gathered a large wad of paper and cleaned up the offence. It's a strange day for humanity when one healthy adult has to clean up the poo of another healthy adult.

I really do find it incredible that people are terrified of their own effluence. Once their waste has exited their body they completely dissociate themselves from it. "No, this is not mine, this was never mine. This mess has nothing whatever to do with me," and out they walk as though nothing has happenned. I probably wouldn't find this so mind-boggling except that these same people seem to be perfectly happy to have OTHER people, complete strangers, touch their poo. Surely that's a fetish.

Back when I lived in a hostel, the plumber had to come round once every 6 weeks to unblock the sewage. There are some women who can't bear the idea of wrapping up their dirty tampon and putting it in the bin. They would rather drop it straight into the toilet and pretend that it didn't happen. They would much prefer it if a strange man would come around, gather up all their dirty tampons and put them in the bin for them. What an odd, odd world.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Loo Users Lose Out

This is just the sort of story I find so disappointing.
Bloody vandals have forced the closure of toilets.
Maybe it's worth paying $US30,000 a year to have vandal-free spaceship toilets.

Spaceships, Toilets & Tycoons

I was absolutely stoked to discover that there's a Toilet Tycoon. Well, not quite. Louis Herrera is a self-proclaimed toilet expert. He is also the president of Public Facilities and Services, a company looking to sell amazing self cleaning, polite, music playing toilet contraptions at amazing prices to less than cluey US city councils.

I have major problems with robotic restrooms. I tried using one once in Newcastle, NSW Australia, and found the experience so horrible I wouldn't try one again. Automated toilets are unnaturally cavernous rooms in which you feel like you are being watched. I was worried that when I flushed, the room would start its self clean mode while I was still in it. There's also the problem of locking. I simply don't trust a "lock" that is merely a button. I want to have some physical control over the locking mechanism of my toilet. And I certainly don't want my toilet to have the ability to override the lock and open the door after a designated time. The whole thing just isn't... civilised.

These automated public conveniences are turning up all over the US and are already in place in cities in Europe and Australia. At $US250,000 a pop, they're not cheap, which I could forgive if in being automatic they made cost efficiencies in yearly upkeep. But they're still about $US30,000 a year to maintain. Installing a 'normal' public toilet would cost about half this to install (and would have more cubicles)

In Portland Oregon, USA, City Hall opened its ground floor toilets at nighttime for the use of homeless people. The trial will cost about $US111,600 for one year, and while people might complain about the inordinate cost considering the number of users (the same amount of money could buy a "coffee and a bagel at Bentos Coffee and Cookies, across from City Hall, for 50 people a day") I think that this still represents a thoughtful community response. Spaceship toilets are simply unappealing, and they turn the act of relieving oneself into an awkward sanitised experience.

One opponent of the City Hall toilet scheme, Commissioner Randy Leonard, (who opposes it based on its location) has another idea: he'll be building some of those spaceship toilets for himself. He also found the $US250,000 price tag just a little too coarse to swallow. His plan is to build the toilets at a reduced cost, even getting down to "ten grand a pop". That's such a remarkable difference from the price the Herrera mob are quoting that I wonder if its feasible. However, if there's anything I've learned about local government it's that anything is possible. And Leonard thinks that if they perfect their "ten grand a pop" toilets, they'll be able to sell them on to other councils. I surely hope so; you're not quite a tycoon if the local council has more power than you.