I spent the first two weeks of my quarantine shitting in a portapotty in the parking lot of my building. It wasn't great — but hey, at least it was always stocked with hand sanitizer.
The contractors I'd hired to renovate my bathroom were not so good on timeliness or communication before the pandemic started. And it only got worse from there. So I drove 300 miles in late March where I could at least be with my pregnant wife, and where at least I could shit indoors.
I returned home the other day to find that the bathroom still wasn't finished (though at least I could shower and shit now). Disappointed, I began to unpack my things, and ended up listening to this new NPR Short Wave podcast, which strangely made me feel better. It traces the history of indoor plumbing — including the uphill battle of trying to get people to understand that no, actually, a centralized sewage system will be better for your sanitation, and you shouldn't worry about the shit from other peoples' shit infecting your home. It goes on to explain how things such as porcelain/tiling and first-floor "powder rooms" actually served utilitarian purposes, making it easier for people to distance themselves from potential disease carriers, or clean things off after hosting guests with uncertain medical histories.
To be clear, I'm not sure why this made me feel better about my frustrating bathroom contracting experience. Or the deadly virus that continues to rage just outside my doors. Read the rest
From Nature.com (emphasis added):
Here, we describe easily deployable hardware and software for the long-term analysis of a user’s excreta through data collection and models of human health. The ‘smart’ toilet, which is self-contained and operates autonomously by leveraging pressure and motion sensors, analyses the user’s urine using a standard-of-care colorimetric assay that traces red–green–blue values from images of urinalysis strips, calculates the flow rate and volume of urine using computer vision as a uroflowmeter, and classifies stool according to the Bristol stool form scale using deep learning, with performance that is comparable to the performance of trained medical personnel. Each user of the toilet is identified through their fingerprint and the distinctive features of their anoderm, and the data are securely stored and analysed in an encrypted cloud server. The toilet may find uses in the screening, diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring of specific patient populations.
tl;dr — Data gathering for toilets using biometrics of your anus. Got it? Okay cool.
The article itself is paywalled, as far too many academic articles are, but one Twitter user shared screenshots of this screening, diagnosis, and longitudinal monitoring technology:
Other pages explain:
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We performed 410 fingerprinting [Ed note: butthole] trials from 10 participants … Among 11 participants, two video clips of the anus per participants were acquired from 7 participants, whereas one video clip of the anus per participant was acquired from 4 participants … As an input, individual frames of the anus from participant 1 were used for identification purposes.
is a portable gadget that turns a plastic bottle into a bidet. I can't vouch for its efficacy but it seems like a useful alternative to wiping your bum, especially as toilet paper has become a high-value currency. Apparently CuloClean supplies are also running low but it seems like you could make one yourself that would at least approximate this $9 gadget's utility. From CuloClean:
You can easily regulate water intensity by exerting more or less pressure to the bottle. This way you will get perfect results, better than using toilet paper or wipes.
(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)
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Facility is a new print magazine about bathrooms. The first issue, published last year, contains articles about the the architecture, politics, and culture of restrooms. One feature in the magazine is also available online: a a list of bathroom codes for restrooms at various cafes, stores, and restaurants. Most of the codes are for New York City restrooms because, the editors write, that's where they "live and piss" but the list will grow as readers contribute. Here are a few from their list:
Starbucks at North Seventh Street and Bedford Avenue: 22222
Sweetgreen at North Fourth Street and Bedford Avenue: 1284
Downtown to uptown:
Shake Shack at Broadway and Fulton Street: 6063
Pret A Manger at Broadway and Cortland: 3535
Tompkins Square Bagels on 10th Street and Avenue A: 4552
Bloomingdale’s Outlet at 72nd and Broadway: push 2 & 4 at same time, then 3
Blue Bottle on Ninth and Broadway: 1478#
Areis Building at 2366 Eastlake Ave East: 01230
Peet’s Coffee & Tea at 1225 Ventura Blvd between Laurelgrove and Vantage Aves: 4516*
From a recent Eater interview with Facility co-founder/editor Erin Sheehy:
Eater: What inspired you to start Facility?
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Erin Sheehy: At some point we realized that bathrooms were an interesting way to frame a lot of the subjects that we care about, including public space, cities, gender, queer histories, and the seemingly mundane but endlessly fascinating details of people’s daily lives. (Plus I, for one, love to talk about bodily functions.) Our first issue includes an interview with some plumbers, an essay about fluorescent lighting, a history of delousing at the El Paso-Juárez border, an exploration of the laws that led to sex-segregated bathrooms, personal stories, artist projects, and more—we even have horoscopes!
Porthcawl in Wales will install public toilets with systems to prevent people from having sex inside including an alarm, doors that spring open, and a water sprayer. It seems the possibility of false alarms makes this a real, er, shitty idea. From CNN:
Movement sensors inside the toilets will respond to "violent" activity, while weight sensors will be installed to detect the entrance of more than one person, triggering the deterrent measures. The toilets have also been designed to prevent rough sleepers taking shelter inside: If a user remains in the toilet for too long, a warning message will play, while the lights and heating will switch off.
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Last week, an employee of a Starbucks in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco, found a tiny digital camera hidden in a bathroom air freshener. At the time of the police statement below, they hadn't determined whether the camera had wireless connectivity. This particular Starbucks is a bustling hangout for kids from the nearby middle school and high school. Gross. And it probably happens in public restrooms more than I'd care to imagine, which is never.
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The City of Victoria, British Columbia rolls out public "peeosks," essentially urinal-shaped garbage cans, on weekend nights near downtown bars. From CHEK
The six “peeosk” urinals are part of the City of Victoria’s Late Night Program to help ensure “that everyone has a safe and enjoyable night out....”
(Kyle Massey, owner of a new vape shop,) worries the open-air urinal not far from the store’s entrance will hurt his business.
“If they’re going to do it, maybe they should have an enclosed outhouse instead of a urinal like that,” he said.
The City also seems to be unaware that women urinate. Read the rest
New York Times reporters Andy Newman and Ana Fota took one (and sometimes two) for the team by visiting subway station restrooms across New York City. It was a shitty job, but someone had to do it. I guess. From the New York Times:
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Norwood-205th Street, Bronx
The cracked concrete floor of the men’s room looked like it had not been mopped in years. But on the plus side, on the frigid day of our visit, the room was toasty hot.
So hot that someone had wedged takeout Chinese food between the scalding radiator and the wall, possibly to keep it warm — a full container of shrimp-fried rice and brown-breaded nuggets.
“That’s no good,” said the station supervisor, S. Hope, when we brought it to his attention. “That will melt and catch fire.” He threw it out.
In the women’s room, fire safety has apparently been learned the hard way. “No storage within three (3) feet,” read a sign on the floor beside a radiator covered in burn marks. The radiator was working fine, though. The environment was reminiscent of the tropical monkey habitat at the Central Park Zoo.
(Mr. Hope said the bathrooms are cleaned three times a day.)
The main door to the women’s room has a peephole to let you see who’s in the hall. But it does not lock. “People hert people,” reads graffiti on the door.
The women’s room offered another unexpected sight: a man, standing at the toilet. He apologized on his way out, but offered no explanation.
In a recent scientific study on overactive urinary bladder syndrome, researchers used the term "latchkey incontinence" to describe "the loss of urine that occurs when one arrives home and puts the key in the lock of one’s front door." From MEL Magazine:
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According to Jamin Brahmbhatt, a urologist in Florida, peeing is a much more complex dance between the mind and body than you might think. “The ability to control how you urinate requires a balance between the muscles and your nerves around your bladder and your urethra working in synch,” he explains. “Some of these functions happen automatically, and some require manual control by the muscles that you naturally control. So when urine is filling up inside your bladder, your bladder naturally expands. When you go to the bathroom, your sphincter around your urethra will relax and your bladder will start to squeeze. This process sounds simple, but it does require the muscles around your urethra, which we call your pelvic floor, to all work and synch.”
He continues, “To keep your bladder healthy, I recommend my patients empty their bladder before they start having extreme ‘got-to-go’ feelings. There’s only so much the bladder can tolerate, and this process gets more complicated with the presence of a prostate, which naturally grows as men get older. All these processes can also be affected by diabetes, strokes, infections and many other medical problems.”
Smart toilets that analyze urine and poop in the bowl have been demonstrated for years, but now Rochester Institute of Technology engineers have integrated multiple kinds of biosensors into the toilet's seat. The WiFi-enable systems tracks EEG, blood oxygen levels, and the heart's pumping force. From IEEE Spectrum:
If the monitoring system works as expected, the device could help catch early signs of heart decline and decrease the number of hospitalizations for heart patients.
To test their seat, the team gathered blood pressure and blood oxygenation measurements from 18 volunteers in a laboratory who were instructed to sit on the seat but not urinate, defecate, or talk. Urination and defecation can shift readings since they put minor stress on the body, says Conn. While the system currently operates with algorithms that analyze signal quality, in the future Conn also plans to incorporate algorithms to identify and reject those inevitable bathroom moments from the data set.
But even if a person is fidgety on the toilet and the system fails to record a clean signal, there is always the next time. “If you’re not going to pick it up in the morning, you might pick it up at night. People are going to continuously use this seat,” says (researcher Nicholas) Conn.
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Reddit user marc_urzz posted this photo of the fantastic sink in his step-uncle's bathroom. A little web searching then led me to the tenor horn urinals below. It would also be fun to use a trumpet as a shower head! What instrument would make a good toilet?
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It doesn't matter what tech you opt for – composting toilets, incinerator toilets or, as we have in our rig, a john connected to a holding tank – if you live in an RV, sooner or later you're going to wind up handling your own waste.
The first time we dumped out tanks, it didn't go so well.
We hadn't quite started living in our old 1991 Triple E Empress just yet. At the time, we were busy downsizing our lives to fit into the motorhome, and my wife was enrolled in a week-long wilderness first aid course, in Canmore, Alberta. Normally, she would've had to spring for a hotel. But screw that, we were RV owners! We opted to parking-lot-surf for five days instead. Outside of a few frustrations that came from getting to know the Empress' heating and electrical systems, it was a comfortable week that made us feel like we'd made a good choice in buying the rig as our new home.
The Empress was an early example of the large class A RVs that you see on the road today. It was five feet shorter than our current rig, and has no slide outs. Despite its 35-foot length, things were a little bit more cozy at times than we would have liked. The Empress came with basement storage compartments. It was one of the reasons we chose it. Between my wife's dive gear, extras from our apartment that we weren't sure of whether we'd need or not, and the hardware I need to do my job, there wasn't much storage space to spare. Read the rest
Mr. Friendly is a waterless public urinal that integrates a video screen to show you ads while you pee. This is just begging for "gamification." From the Dutch manufacturer:
Mr. Friendly Toilet (via Neatorama)
Every gentleman knows that a toilet break is a moment of relaxation. This is when we have “time on our hands”. We seize that perfect moment with our unique Mr.Friendly urinal. Sponsors of environmentally friendly urinals are happy with that moment when they can display a nice video to introduce themselves.
As a location holder you can also use the built-in display. Communicate your message at a unique moment.
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In 2002, Eric D. Page was granted US patent #6681419B1 for a "Forehead support apparatus" enabling men to rest their head (the one atop the neck) while standing at a urinal. The device includes a "mounting member," which contrary to what you might think is actually a fitting for attaching it to the wall. It's also suitable for the shower. From the Abstract:
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A compressible head support member is attached to and extends from the wall and said mounting member. The head support defines an elastically deformable or resilient forehead support surface which is spaced above the floor and from the wall a distance sufficient for the user to lean his forehead thereagainst and be supported while using the commode or urinal.
Bidets have never caught on in the United States, perceived as a fixture meant for posh hotels an prissy home bathrooms. Of course they're quite the norm in Europe, Japan, and other regions. But not only are bidets more sanitary than toilet paper, they're actually much more eco-conscious. From Scientific American:
Justin Thomas, editor of the website metaefficient.com, considers bidets to be “a key green technology” because they eliminate the use of toilet paper. According to his analysis, Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every year, representing the pulping of some 15 million trees. Says Thomas: “This also involves 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce the paper and 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching.” He adds that manufacturing requires about 17.3 terawatts of electricity annually and that significant amounts of energy and materials are used in packaging and in transportation to retail outlets.
To those who say that bidets waste water, advocates counter that the amount is trivial compared to how much water we use to produce toilet paper in the first place.
This non-electric Greenco Bidet is $25 on Amazon and has many adoring fans. Read the rest
The public bathroom at Beijing's Temple of Heaven Park now has a toilet paper dispenser outfitted with a camera and facial recognition technology to prevent toilet paper theft. From the New York Times:
Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a machine dispenses a sheet of toilet paper, precisely two feet in length. If visitors require more, they are out of luck. The machine will not dispense a second roll to the same person for nine minutes.
At the Temple of Heaven Park, one of Beijing’s busiest tourist sites, many people said on Monday they were pleased by the new machines.
“The people who steal toilet paper are greedy,” said He Zhiqiang, 19, a customer service worker from the northwestern region of Ningxia. “Toilet paper is a public resource. We need to prevent waste...”
I agree with park visitor Wang Jianquan, 63: “The sheets are too short."
"China’s High-Tech Tool to Fight Toilet Paper Bandits" (NYT) Read the rest
This Spokane mother of 12 is sick of Target's WICKED pro-Sodomite agenda. Come for the speech, stay for "God's judgment is coming on this nation... and Target!" Read the rest