Saturday, 30 August 2008

Saturday Skiddie 30.08.08

Hi all and welcome to this week's Friday Flush Saturday Skiddie.

An artist in New York is bringing his style to the streets - toilet stall style. Ricky Syers has been walking around dressed as a janitor carrying a toilet with a man inside. Pretty cool stuff, really. And being an enterprising American chap, he is now selling advertising space on his toilet.

I love it when people find innovative ways to raise money (like the couple who cycled to raise money for a toilet for their church), and in Kansas this week The Flying Pig Studio and Gallery is auctioning 40 decorative toilet seats to raise money for new restrooms.

Plans call for the restroom to be named "Bowl Plaza" with buildings shaped like toilet tanks and entrances resembling a toilet seat. A walkway will look like an unfurling roll of toilet paper.

The town of Madrid, New Mexico has unveiled its first public toilets. Up until now, visitors have had to make do with portable toilets. One lucky resident was even presented with a key to the new restroom.

The man who was struck with a toilet cistern lid in Canada last week has unfortunately died. Second-degree murder charges have been laid against the attacker.

New Zealand Olympians have been suspended after photographing a fellow athlete on the toilet. Swimmers Cameron Gibson, Dean Kent and Corney Swanepoel were expelled from the Olympic village and may face further penalties. I think this seems a little harsh - but then again, I haven't seen the photos, and they are supposedly of one of the youngest members of the team.

And finally, New Delhi college student, Shahana Sheikh, has prepared a report highlighting the dearth of toilets for women in the Indian capital, prompting the High Court to take direct action.

"One day during my internship with CCS [Centre for Civil Society] I saw a woman cleaning a public toilet at Yusuf Sarai. It struck me that though she was cleaning the toilet, she herself couldn't use it since it was meant only for men - like most public toilets in Delhi. I decided to find out the real status of public conveniences in the city," Sheikh said. "People talk about feminism all the time but nobody thinks of a need as basic as a toilet for them despite the fact that our chief minister and mayor are both women," she added.

That's a wrap for this week. I'm going to go lay myself down and dream about a walkway unfurling like a roll of toilet paper. *sigh* What happiness.

Friday, 29 August 2008


This week's Friday Flush is going to have to be a Saturday Skiddie, cos I've already had too many beers and I have to get up in a few hours.

See you all tomorrow folks, with plenty of toilet news, including New Zealand Olympians, women's toilets in India, and a toilet seat auction.

Where else can you get your weekly fix of bog news but right here, at The Bog Logger!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Friday Flush 22.08.08

Just a quick flush today cos I'm practically running out the door.

A man in Canada is in a critical condition after being hit with a toilet cistern lid. What an ignoble way to go. Wasn't there some famous general who was killed when he was struck by a roof tile? Does anyone know if that's true? I'm sure I heard it in a history lecture once upon a time.

The hunt is on for New Zealand's finest loo and entries are now open. Toilets are judged on all the usual criteria - cleanliness, signposting, appearance, amenities offered - and also, oddly, car parking.

Americans are apparently multitasking on the toilet; they're checking their emails and listening to music. 88% use at least one electronic device in the bathroom! The survey also found that women tend to spend longer in the bathroom than men. Recent efforts to curb water use in the shower has had little effect, with people spending just as much time in the shower as they did 4 years ago.

An incredible strike across all of Scotland by local government workers has disrupted many services. The strike, over set pay increases being below inflation levels, means that schools, which will be left without janitorial staff, will not open, as well as forcing the closure of art galleries, sporting facilities, cemeteries and public toilets. I encourage you to read the article, and especially the comments that follow it. You'll learn more about Scottish politics in five minutes than you ever thought possible.

And finally in this very brief flush this week, in Macedonia, government ministers who do not provide enough toilet paper for their staff could face fines of up to E1000.

Have a good weekend! I'm off to Sydney on this fine cold rainy day.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The positive side to losing 5 million bucks

It’s old news now, but in case you didn’t know Seattle has finally offloaded its troublesome spaceship toilets (see previous posts here and here and here).

The 5 toilets which sold for $US12,549 cost Seattle $5 million – and most articles are painting it as some spectacular failure. But the $5 million includes more than $500,000 for cancelling the contract early, as well as installation and removal costs. The city did get 4 years of (questionable) service from the facilities so the amount lost isn’t as massive as it first looks, particularly as it will be saving on future contract costs.

It’s now time to look at the positives. The old toilets cost $3.75 per use to run and used 2 to 4 times more water than an ordinary toilet. This is a real opportunity for Seattle to go green and install toilets (or ‘restrooms’ as those Americans quaintly call them) which use solar power, dual flush systems and motion sensors for lighting, like at Michigan State Park.

Now, over in New York (over? Down? Up? My US geography is shite. Is there a map here somewhere?), their spaceship toilets seem to be going along nicely. The fact that they cost 25 cents might help, as might the fact that they’re run and maintained by an advertising mob and are situated in good neighbourhoods with no other facilities. Toilets are all about location, location, location. As the hot dog vendor in the Gothamist article astutely observes, his “neighbourhood is not good for that type of thing”. Bad neighbourhoods is when good toilets go… bad.

Actually, charging a small amount for using toilets is a great idea. I’ve always been a fan, as long as the toilets are up to it. If you’re ever in Zagreb, the toilets at the train station are awesome. Sure, the woman who takes your money is surly as hell, but the toilets are clean, there’s always plenty of loo roll, and the whole experience (except for the surly woman) is really pleasant. Totally worth the 4 Kuna.

As my dad says, give someone something for nothing and they’ll treat it like it’s worth nothing.

Hopefully the man who bought the Seattle loos gets what he paid for.

To Dig, or Not to Dig?

It’s an age old question and one that I often ponder. Do I dig a hole for a toilet? Or do I not dig a hole for a toilet? What to do, what to do…

On the one hand, I might find gold.

On the other, I might get buried alive.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Friday Flush 15.08.08

I recently did a study of female toilet users in pubs, trying to get an idea of what women like and don't like about public toilets. I was surprised that one of the things that came out top of the list was hand dryers - most women prefer hand towels. Dryers often don't work, take too long, and only one person at a time can use them, meaning that most people just dry their hands on their trousers. Dyson New Zealand has possibly addressed some of these problems; they unveiled the Dyson Airblade this week at Auckland airport.


Dyson airblade


Dyson claims the dryer (or is it drier?) is the "fastest, most hygienic hand dryer". It works by blasting a "high speed sheet of air, which gently squeegees your hands dry". That sounds kinda sexy. You can see it in all its sexiness at their very sexy website. It took the engineers an incredible 3 years to develop this next step in hand-drying technology. The Airblade was actually released in 2006 but I'm unsure how high the uptake has been. It's certainly the first time I've heard of it.


Ho Chi Minh City's attempts to "work towards a civilized urban lifestyle" have been hindered by a lack of suitable sites for public toilets. Residents are concerned about having toilets built in front of their houses - but presumably they don't mind if people urinate in the gutter. The stigma attached to public toilets needs to be mollified by designing buildings that aesthetically complement the districts - but with only a month to build them, I'm not sure if that'll be possible.


No such problems finding sites for toilets in Pune, India - they've installed 110 toilets in their homes. Friends of Shelter Associates (USA) has constructed toilets for sex workers, people with disabilities and those living below the poverty line. Another fabulous NGO doing great work in this International Year of Sanitation.


It's not very often that I wished I lived in Canada - but OH MY GOD they have a toilet festival! Organised by Oxfam, the festival aims to raise awareness about water and sanitation issues in developing countries.


I do however very often wish that I lived in the UK because it's the only place in the world where you could hold a From Looe for a Loo challenge. Bob and Chris May cycled 300 miles from Loo to Dymock to raise £1500 for a toilet at St Mary's church.


Toilet blog Where's the Toilet? has given an incredible 9 out of 10 to the toilets at Raffles Beach Singapore. This is a much pleasanter story about toilets than one usually hears about Singapore.


And finally tonight, a German toilet collector (that is, a German who is a toilet collector, not a collector of German toilets) spent £1,800 pounds for a rare toilet - only to discover that he had purchased a tiny replica. What do you do with a collection of toilets? Maybe you open a toilet museum. No, too obvious. How about a toilet restaurant?


(I never thought I'd add 'food' as a category on The Bog Logger).


And that is, folks, The Bog Logger signing off on this gorgeous half-way-through-the-Olympics Friday.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Friday Flush 08.08.08

An auspicious day, according to the Chinese, and with the opening of the Olympics today, Beijing can be proud to boast that it has 5,333 public toilets and 8,000 toilet attendants.


Topping the list of most useful items in this week's flush is The Woon Box, an all-in-one toilet, kitchen and shower. Sounds like my last apartment. Oh, those wacky Dutch.


The Woon Box - cool, no?


In England, a Morecambe man has been banned from every public toilet in the UK after an attempted sexual assault. Don't be alarmed if he knocks on your door asking to use your loo; he is a man of previous good character.


The development of an iPhone application which locates toilets in Australia by using the National Toilet Map has been scuppered by government bureaucracy.


Okay, so this next story has a lot of problems for me. First of all, it involves Christian motorcyclists. Like, what? Secondly, the Christian motorcyclists are meeting at the Kum and Go. Okay, now in my country, that word just there, that K word, kum, that's totally dirty. Usually it's spelled with a 'c' but still, dirty. And thirdly, and why it's making it onto The Bog Logger, is that these Christian motorcyclists are meeting at the Kum and Go (whatever that is - I'd rather not know) to go on a 'toilet paper run'. They're doing this for some organisation which doesn't receive government funds or denominational support, nor, apparently, toilet paper. Oh, those wacky Christians. Read the full story here and let me know what it's about. Cheers.


That's all for me today. It's almost time for the Opening Ceremony.




Birds nest? Looks more like a glowing toilet seat to me.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Faeces: public enemy #1

When Val Curtis wanted to effect some real good, she turned to the powers of evil.


Dr Curtis, an anthropologist, decided positive action needed to be taken to stop the millions of unnecessary deaths from diseases caused by dirty hands. Handwashing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by about 47% and the risk of respiratory infection by 23%. So Dr Curtis turned to the organisations who know better than anyone how to convince people to do something - marketing companies.


She knew that over the past decade, many companies had perfected the art of creating automatic behaviors - habits - among consumers. These habits have helped companies earn billions of dollars when customers eat snacks, apply lotions and wipe counters almost without thinking, often in response to a carefully designed set of daily cues.


Read the whole article for a truly creepy and unnerving understanding of what it is that makes us do what we do every day without thinking - and who is controlling our habits.


dirty hands


Ghanaians had no problems washing their hands when they could see the dirt, but didn't think it was necessary to wash after going to the toilet because they couldn't see the germs. Employing freaky manipulative marketing tactics, Dr Curtis's team produced a public health campaign which sold disgust, and it worked - a 13 percent increase in the use of soap after the toilet and a 41 percent increase in soap use before eating.


Dr Curtis's team has managed to use the 'powers of evil' to effect real good in Africa, and I think that's brilliant. Clearly other campaigns hadn't worked so the team turned to something radically different. Other campaigns had attempted to blame the mother for their sick children, without properly educating them or changing their habits. In her 2003 article "Talking dirty: how to save a million lives" Curtis points out that handwashing may be at least as effective as some vaccines under development, and eminently more reachable by most people.


There are of course serious concerns about multi-million dollar peddlers of questionable health products intruding into the public health sphere. There is a risk that it can all go horribly wrong a la Nestlé, but if Dr Curtis's Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap manages its campaign effectively, then the risk should be minimised.


Dr Val Curtis is an interesting cookie. Her research interests include the evolution of human behaviour, the role of disgust and its relationship to hygiene and morality. Her research suggests that disgust evolved to protect animals, including humans, from disease and helps explain the peculiar history of hygiene - and that the cues which signal disgust can be manipulated. Clearly, she is a woman who is researching new avenues to change old problems, and I admire that.


Diarrhoeal diseases are the forgotten killers of children. Every year about 2 million children die from these neglected diseases (WHO Report 2002), the equivalent of a full jumbo jet every 2 hours. However, there are ways to prevent these deaths, and one of the best is also one of the simplest: washing hands with soap. (International Journal of Environmental Health Research: 13, S73 - S79 June 2003)

I wouldn't want to be the Aviation Minister with statistics like that!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Tesco toilet update

Ah, so the reason that Tesco's meat processor Brown Brothers' shitty toilet practices have made it into the news (you might need to read that sentence a couple of times to make sense of it) is because the union has staged a protest at the Lanark Tesco. I probably should have read this before posting my Friday Flush.

Anyhoo, here's a quote that pretty well sums up the whole issue:

As part of a wider campaign to ensure the equal and fair treatment of meat workers, the union are urging Tesco to stop Brown Brothers from subjecting their workforce to a toilet break policy where workers are forced to clock off to visit the toilet.

The staff are also officially expected to provide medical evidence in order to be excused from the system.

A union spokesman said: “The policy means presumably that women in the early stages of pregnancy or simply having their period would have to get a doctor’s note to evidence the reason why they need to use the toilet more often than usual.”

Friday Flush 1.08.2008

Bringing you all the loo news you can handle, and some that you can't - just in time for the weekend!


Sheffield artist Jacqui Bellamy has been snapping photos of women in the toilets of nightclub Razor Stiletto "queuing, chatting, putting on make-up etc," and will be showing her series at The Forum Bar as part of its Wednesday night live programme. They look like an interesting lot, those Razor Stiletto people, so if you're in the area check it out.


The Toilet Thinker


You might remember the story of Pam Babcock, the woman who sat on a toilet for two years. Her boyfriend, Kory McFarren, was charged with mistreatment of a dependent adult. Last month he pleaded no contest to the charge, and this week he was sentenced to 6 months in jail, but was granted probation after Pam asked for leniency. Good on you, Pam. Clearly, both Pam and Kory have some social and mental problems that they need to work through, and I don't think jail will help ol' Kory at all.


These six Brown Brothers have to take off their hats and gowns before peeing


This one's actually an old story, but it's popped back up in my news feed and it's quite awful. Brown Brothers meat processor, which supplies meat to Tesco in the UK, demands that employees clock off when they go to the toilet. This so obviously discriminates against women, particularly menstruating and pregnant women, that I'm agog! The restrictions are part of a pay deal that tries to streamline toilet break times - and look, I totally get it that it takes workers 20 minutes to go to the toilet because of all the gear they're wearing, but seriously! This is the 21st century! Can't we come up with a better solution? It's not the fault of the workers that they have to wear a spacesuit - why should they pay the price? And more importantly, why do women have to pay a higher price?


Not so much toilet news, as toilet humour - Dave TV has a list of the 10 oldest jokes in the whole world ever - and I have to say I don't think I find them particularly funny. Maybe I need to scrub up on my ancient history or something. Anyway, they're here. I do like this quote from Dr Paul McDonald, who wrote the report:

What they all share [...] is a willingness to deal with taboos and a degree of rebellion. Modern puns, Essex girl jokes and toilet humour can all be traced back to the very earliest jokes identified in this research.


Unfortunately, Qantas is back in the news - this time because the pilot refused to allow passengers out of their seats during a delayed landing. One passenger was forced to pee in a sick bag. Look, people, the pilot is trying to look after you. And look, pilot, why not let people pee? Come on. Let's all start talking to one another, instead of just complaining.


No toilet! 


A bus driver in Dublin has brought to light an interesting predicament for bus drivers everywhere - where do drivers go to the toilet on a long shift when there are no terminuses? I hadn't honestly thought about this; it's a similar problem to what the meat processors in Tesco are facing. People need to pee and shit, and their jobs don't always allow them to do this comfortably. Employees have the right to a clean private toilet with running water and soap - but not necessarily access to it when it suits them. This seems grossly inappropriate - why have a toilet if you can't bloody use it?


And lastly, in entertainment news, Kiefer Sutherland has revealed why you never see his character on "24", Jack Bauer, going to the toilet:


whenever they cut to the White House, Jack is taking a pee. And he’s also getting something to drink and eat.


And that's a wrap for this week... or a fold... or a scrunch...