Korean toilet unclogger

[Video Link] This Korean toilet unclogger looks neat, but looks risky. I would be nervous about it bursting. Maybe the plastic film is too strong for that to happen. You also have to make sure the seal is perfect, otherwise you run the risk of getting squirted with dirty toilet water. (If you are grossed out by dirty toilet water, don't watch this video.)

Man "seriously injured" by exploding toilet

Michel Pierre of New York received serious shrapnel wounds to his face, arms and legs when the toilet exploded in his Brooklyn apartment. From AFP:

'The 58-year-old information technology specialist is now so fearful that he uses a rope to flush the toilet from behind the bathroom door at a safe distance.

"Those fears are part of his damages," said his lawyer Sanford Rubenstein. "Clearly toilets are supposed to flush, not explode." Three other tenants were also injured by what the Daily News website dubbed "the porcelain bomb."'

Air pressure in the pipes, or something.

How the Russians pee in space

I don't know if I can fully define human nature, but I'm pretty sure it includes a prurient and/or practical interest in how one uses the bathroom under strange circumstances. Thus, the various videos you've seen over the years explaining how astronauts use the toilet on board the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Until a recent visit to Seattle's Museum of Flight, however, I'd never seen how cosmonauts do their business — an issue with increasingly broad reach, now that Americans and other international space voyagers are being ferried into the heavens aboard Soyuz.

The Soyuz toilet does not look much like the ones on board the Shuttle or the ISS. Those are recognizably toilets, for one thing. The Soyuz sanitary unit is more akin to peeing into a soda bottle in the back seat of the family station wagon — if that soda bottle were hooked up to a vacuum cleaner.

This video — kindly shared with us by The Museum of Flight — was filmed in 2009 by NASA astronaut Michael Barratt. It features the urination demonstration talents of spaceflight adventurer Charles Simonyi and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. Please note that this video only demonstrates how the "part Number 1" works — and even that really only seems to apply to gentlemen cosmonauts. As best I can tell, women apparently just pee into something akin to a compact diaper or sanitary pad. (Fun!) As for "part Number 2", here is how it was described in a 2007 NASA publication written by James Lee Broyan, Jr.:

For fecal collection, a porous bag is placed in the receptacle. Once defecation is complete, the bag is removed, placed sequentially in three bags, and then placed in a wet trash compartment. Based on personal conversations with АСУ trainers, urine collection is acceptable but fecal use is avoided if at all possible with the crew using diet restrictions and preventive measures prior to flight.

• Read the 2007 NASA publication comparing different space toilet systems. Apparently, part Number 2 has also been used by female cosmonauts to dispose of menstrual waste.
• Read a description on the RuSpace site, which gives a little more detail on part Number 2.
• Watch the video at YouTube

Thanks to Ted Huetter at The Museum of Flight!

Biblical toilet rolls roil Scandinavia

A toilet paper maker has apologized for Biblical quotes, including the words of Jesus, which it "inadvertently" included on novelty wipes marketed in Scandinavia. "Bible verses do not belong on a roll of toilet paper," said Bishop of Tunsberg Laila Riksaasen Dahl. [Globe and Mail]

Pubic hair stuck to a urinal forms a treble clef


A redditor called Frankie842 snapped a photo of a public hair stuck to a urinal in a near-perfect treble clef. I once experienced something like this, back when I was roomming with Possum Man. We'd cooked a pot of spaghetti and we tried the technique of tossing a strand against the wall to see if it would stick. It landed in just this configuration and we left it up on that wall for years after.

1 in a million chance musical pubic hair (imgur.com)

How to: Use a squat toilet

In 2007, my husband and I were privileged enough to take a month off and travel around Europe. Given that we spent most of our time in Western Europe, there really wasn't a whole lot of cultural confusion, with a few notable exceptions*. Chief among them, the squat toilets we stumbled across at a very inconvenient moment in Italy. "Inconvenient moment" here defined as "actually having to use the bathroom."

My friend Frank Bures is a travel writer and he understands the squat toilet problem all too well. Frank is, after all, somebody who has traveled extensively in places where squat is all you got. In a piece from 2006, he shares some hard-earned advice on squat toilets. How I wish I had read this before my venturing into small towns in coastal Italy.

Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth is probably the world’s foremost expert on excretion, a real Buddha of Bowel Movements, and she’s not afraid to get into the details. “My technique when I’m teaching volunteers about to go abroad,” said the author of How to Shit Around the World from her UK office, “is that when you’re learning, you need to take everything off below your waist: socks, shoes, pants, underwear. Then squat over the toilet. Pour water over your bum, and with your left hand, just whittle away with your fingers and try to dislodge any lumpy bits while pouring water. And that’s actually not too unaesthetic, because any mess that goes onto your fingers comes off in the water.”

What to do: Most important: Cultivate the right mindset. Relax, pretend like you’ve been doing this for years. Remember, using your hand is (according Wilson-Howarth) actually more hygienic, not less, than using toilet paper. “You get good bacteriological cleaning with just rubbing your hands together with soap under running water four times,” she says, and cites a study which says you don’t even need soap. “It can be ash or mud, just rubbing your hands together under water with some kind of washing agent. Even dirt from the river bank will give you good bacteriological cleaning.”

Read the rest at WorldHum

*Another notable exception: Andouillette sausage is not the same thing as andouille. You've been warned.

Image: Squat toilet, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from jiahungli's photostream