My life on the road: shit fountains and dump stations

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

Video toilet displays ads while men pee

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:

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.

Mr. Friendly Toilet (via Neatorama)

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Men: Rest your weary head while urinating

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:

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.

(Weird Universe) Read the rest

Washing beats wiping: bidets save trees and water

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

Anti-theft toilet paper dispenser with facial recognition technology

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

Angry religious people wander around Target yelling about bathrooms

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

DIY smart bathroom mirror

Smart bathroom mirrors with Internet connections and integrated displays have been fodder for futurists (including me) since the early 1990s at least. Google engineer Max Braun decided to build his own from a two-way mirror, display panel, and Amazon Fire TV Stick running an Android application package for the UI. He posted about the project on Medium:

To the right of where my face would be we have the time and date. To the left is the current weather and a 24-hour forecast. Below are some recent news headlines...

Other concepts I’m playing with are traffic, reminders, and essentially anything that has a Google Now card. The idea is that you don’t need to interact with this UI. Instead, it updates automatically and there’s an open-ended voice search interface for anything else.

"My Bathroom Mirror Is Smarter Than Yours" (Medium)

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"America's Best Bathroom" is a small town's public toilet

The small town of Minturn, Colorado won the 2015 America's Best Bathroom Contest put on by Cintas, a company that handles restroom cleaning and supplies among other things. Minter's Town Planning Director Janet Hawkinson was involved in the design of the restrooms, inspired by the entrances to gold and silver mines. From the Denver Post:

The two restrooms, one for men and one for women, sit a few feet apart and feature fabricated wood pieces — 320 different pieces total — on the sides where they face each other to mimic an adit, or an entrance to a mine in honor of Minturn's rich mining history. Inside the bathrooms, walls are painted turquoise and copper and feature steel butterflies on the ceiling. Conception, design and construction were all done locally.

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App for subscribing to a network of clean NYC bathrooms

For $25/month, you can soon have access to a network of guaranteed clean bathrooms in New York City through a new app called Looie. The service launches in July with seven bathrooms at cafes and restaurants in TriBeCa. Read the rest

Bathroom fixtures made from chocolate

The chocolate bathtub, bidet, toilet, and sink in this $133,000 fixture collection will last for six months at room temperature or until eaten. At least they hide the dirt. Read the rest

Tactical guide to male urination

Last week, I snapped a photo of this excellent sign in the children's restroom at San Francisco's Brightworks/Tinkering School. (Click to see it larger!) Combine those instructions with the above video that Maggie previously posted from Brigham Young University's Splash Lab, "Urinal Dynamics: a tactical guide," and I'll be a master pisser in no time! Read the rest

"Hammock" bathtub

The Vessel is a hanging bathtub. Designed by SplinterWorks, it's constructed from carbon fiber and empties out the bottom into a floor drain. Sadly, it does not swing. "The Hammock Bathtub" (Homes & Hues, via Neatorama) Read the rest

Combination sink/urinal reuses faucet water

Latvian designer Kaspars Jursons designed the Stand, a combination sink/urinal, to address water shortages. The water flowing from the tap as you wash your hands also flushes the toilet. ""It is more suitable for hygiene than just a urinal and then guys who don't wash [their] hands," Jursons told NPR. The look reminds me of the Penal-Ware Comby, a stainless steel, suicide resistant toilet/sink combination designed for prisons. Unfortunately, that device doesn't use the sink faucet's water to flush. Read the rest

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.

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