The International Space Station will be outfitted with a new toilet later this fall. The current commode is based on 1990s technology used on the Space Shuttle. From Space.com:
It can be clunky to use, particularly for women, and it is "sensitive to crew alignment on the seat," sometimes resulting in messes, according to [a new NASA review of the waste management system].
So NASA has tried to keep the aspects that have gotten positive reviews while trimming mass and volume and making some design changes, like adjusting the shape of the seat and replacing the apparatus that compresses the waste.
Another change mimics a feature of the toilet on the Russian side of the space station, where astronauts simply hook their feet into toe bars, rather than the thigh bars used on the American equivalent to anchor the astronaut in the microgravity environment.
"Development of a Universal Waste Management System" (NASA) Read the rest
It's been four years since Cory posted a supercut of video game bathrooms, but the industry hasn't been slacking since. Curious Reviewers posted a series collecting the typically revolting, sometimes deluxe, always weirdly spacious virtual pissoirs of videogaming.
Here are the three episodes, in reverse chronological order. Note that many of the clips show nudity, violence, grossness and other things you might expect to find going on in ludological lavatories.
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At least all we heard was the flush.
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The case at issue concerned the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that prohibits unwanted calls to cellphones by use of an automated system. Challengers say one provision violates the Constitution. Lawyer Ramon Martinez, representing political groups challenging the law, was pressing his point when the offending flush occurred.
Martinez did not seem fazed or publicly notice the interruption.
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
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!
Do you blow several kilograms of rock-hard spherical poop at a time? Have you ever found yourself extruding five pounds of thick gelatinous candy from your rectum? Does your ass blast hundreds of acorns? Metcraft's High Abuse Stainless Steel Toilet is for you.
This is the greatest hits video of a High Abuse Metcraft Stainless Steel Toilet, HET Model using 1.28 gallons of water.
Still considering whether the slow, menacing on-screen crawl of the text "12 Inch Chocolate Longjohn Doughnut from Lamar's" qualifies this post for the "Star Wars" tag. Read the rest
Two years ago, I informed you of the fully-functional golden toilet created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, then available for use at the Guggenheim. The installation, currently on tour, was stolen last night from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. One man was arrested; police are hunting for the rest of the gang—and for the precious pissoir.
A gang broke into the Oxfordshire palace at about 04:50 BST and stole the artwork, Thames Valley Police said.
The working toilet - entitled America, which visitors had been invited to use - has not been found but a 66-year-old man has been arrested.
The burglary caused "significant damage and flooding" because the toilet was plumbed into the building, police said.
The toilet was previously assailed by a yarn bomber.
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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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"I had no money for the toilet when (Lola) ran underneath and we realised it opened on her way back out," said the woman who originally posted the video from Ayr, Scotland.
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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.
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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As Halloween approacheth, perhaps it's time to tour the world's most troubling and terrifying toilets, courtesy of Phil from Toilets With Threatening Auras. Read the rest
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
Toilet snakes are reaching epidemic proportions in some parts of the world, but no more than in Mike Green's bathroom. Read the rest
Toilet aficionados and sewer connoisseurs never settle for boring bathroom fixtures. For a cool $16,500, you too could impress your guests with a venus fly trap urinal, just like Oto Cadsky. 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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Inspired by the $6,000 Alexa-controlled toilet at CES, Jonathan Gleich hacked together his own one-tenth the cost. The base of this smart throne is the Brondell Swash 1400 Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat, available for $650 from Amazon. The other components are a $46 auto flusher, $23 infrared link, and $17 Adafruit Feather HUZZAH microcontroller.
Gleich posted directions to make your own over at Instructables: "Alexa Controlled Toilet"
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