Archive for the ‘oddities’ Category

Lavatory Experiment

I have a really hard time believing this, but it’s apparently true. All Nippon Airlines is asking its passengers to make sure they’ve voided their bladders before boarding flights.

I fully understand that full bladders weigh more than empty ones, even if the difference doesn’t really amount to much even when multiplied by the number of passengers on a flight.

I also understand that the reduced weight would save some small but perhaps measurable amount of fuel, and that the lower use of the lavatories would be a good thing just in terms of waste management.

However, exactly how many people does ANA think are just bursting to use the loo on an airplane? Is there something even close to alluring to those locker-sized dumping grounds?  And who, in these days of needing to get to the airport two hours early, doesn’t avail themselves of the facilities while waiting the interminable period between check-in and boarding?

I guess I’ve been being green all this time without knowing it.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that airports tend to have some of the best-designed public restrooms around. So I’m all about using the good ones.)


Restroom Atrocities/Oddities: Holy Discontent

I’d like to think that Church Restrooms would be a different breed.  True, I don’t feel compelled to use the Cowboy Hat when I’m there.  But that speaks more to my level of comfort with the potential germs I might encounter than the design of the restroom.  Because churchgoers don’t have nasty wee-beasties…right?

But shouldn’t churches have the *best* restroom designs? Even divine designs?  Unfortunately, houses of worship are just as likely to fall victim to the tragic neglect of thought so common in restroom design. For instance:



Now really, I know we’re supposed to be kind and loving to each other, but are we really supposed to be able to put our arms around each other while relieving ourselves?  There is simply no circumstance in which it could be even remotely appropriate to have full occupancy here.  There’s not adequate spacing for a proper stance, there’s no partition, and there’s not AN ODD NUMBER OF URINALS!!!!  How can you not allow for the buffer urinal?  It’s simply ungodly.  Repent, unnamed restroom defiler designer!!!

I say stand back and see if you can hit both.  And don’t act like you weren’t already thinking it.  Doesn’t that narrow corridor look like a shooting range?

Moving on…

Sometimes an idea seems considerate, and you’ve got to give the designers credit for thinking of others.  Notice I said you have to.  I don’t.  At my church, they’ve got these handy shelves in the stalls, above the urinals, and at the sink.  Check it out:

Bible ledge or platform for toilet tank diving?

Bible ledge or platform for toilet tank diving?

The shelf is a nice idea.  Say, for instance, you walk into the stall and remember, “Oh, I’m carrying a Bible!  How I wish I could set it someplace instead of holding it while I…(well, you know).”  And like magic, there’s the ledge!

Only it’s four inches wide.  So unless you’re carrying a pocket-sized Sword, and have decided that in this case, the pocket just isn’t an appropriate place to stow it, you’re pretty much out of luck.  Unless you have a water bottle to counterbalance it as it’s cantilevered over your head as you squat.  Just watch out that you don’t hit it on the way back up.

I’m sure the designers thought, “We can’t make this ledge stick out too far, or someone may scalp himself on it!”  Understandable.  But unless the stall is equipped with a bidet, there’s a handy-dandy thing called a TP-dispenser that’s almost always the perfect size for setting a typical Bible.  Unless it’s one of those blasted circular ones.   (Which, BTW, don’t install those.  Give us a flat surface for to be settin’ somethin’.)

I didn’t take a snap of the ledge by the sink, but it’s the same situation.  And no excuse about somebody cracking his skull on it.  Nice idea, poor implementation.

Now, your mission:  Try not to think about where that Bible you’re borrowing from somebody in church has been.

Restroom Oddities: The More They Overthink the Plumbing…

Today’s post is about excess.   One of the interesting restaurant chains in my area is McMenamins (or as I like to call it, McM&Ms).  I won’t bore you with the history of the place(s), because you can just read about it yourself.   Suffice it to say that their restroom designs could provide me with Oddities until the Last Day.

I should point out that, near as I can tell, all McMenamins locations feature some of the worst restrooms in existence, violating just about every Rule I’ve ever thought up.  In fact, I thought up more than a few of them while observing the abominations I found there.  I’m not trying to pick on them, because they are entertaining restrooms if nothing else.

Let’s start at Imbrie Hall.  There’s no defending this kind of urinal, but you’ll find them at most McM&Ms locations:

Floor Urinals, woo!

Floor Urinals, woo!

Nothing seems particularly strange here, although I’d point out the obvious courtesy of providing the left-handed gent (of which I am one) the opportunity of left-handed flushing at the left-hand urinal.  It’s clearly the left thing to do.  But note how the feed pipes for each urinal converge.  Then look up, and you’ll see this:

Plumber Job Security

Plumber Job Security

Yeah.  Staying with the urinal-theme, the Grand Lodge has this gem (hat tip, Mr. H):

Hold On to Something!

Hold On to Something!

I suppose this one is allowing you to keep your options open, but I’m not really sure that’s what it’s about.  I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to grab both handles and make motorcycle sounds while relieving yourself.  At least that’s the trend I’m hoping to start…

Lastly, we have a rare Ladies’ Room capture from the Olympic Club (hat tip, Mrs. K):

Choose, But Choose Wisely...

Choose, But Choose Wisely...

The thing is, amidst all that confusion, can anyone spot a soap dispenser?  All these faucets and no way to wash?  Perhaps Mrs. K can confirm…

Anyway, this has been your tour d’overkill.  Hope you enjoyed it.  This sampling was taken from three locations, of the probably fifty or more in existence.  Feel free to send me shots of the others if you’re so inclined.

Restroom Oddities: Odditory Refreshment

Having recently traveled, I thought I’d share an Oddity.  It’s the Sea-Tac Airport’s “Talking Fountain”:

Now, a few thoughts about Airport Restrooms.  Really, they’re some of the best-designed restrooms in existence.  For one, they rarely have doors, so your main Source Of OPB (Other People’s Bacteria) is taken away right there.  Of course, I’m not expecting most workplaces to go doorless (due to the lack of ambient “cover-noise” featured at airports).

The one thing the Airport Restroom has over the Workplace Restroom is anonymity.  You will probably never see these people again.  So throw off your Workplace Restroom Inhibitions and be as obnoxious as you want to be (and by obnoxious I mean oblivious that Other People Are Present).  Or just walk away without washing (I’m testing you here…you should be outraged).

Of course, Murphy would predict that one of your fellow restroom denizens will be seated near you.  Which is why I also recommend using a restroom that’s not right next to your boarding gate.

Oh, and one more thing.  I know from personal and recent experience that it’s really difficult for a grown man and his seven-year-old son to share an airplane restroom.  There was no repeat occurrence of said phenomenon.  Once was enough.

Restroom Oddities: High Knees, Please

My sister the doula sent me this gem.   Rather than requiring you to read it and then absorb my mockery of it, I’ve decided to go commentary-style and provide my editorials throughout (in italics).

Dear Doula, the MiracleStep will be on the Tyra Banks show Dec. 18th (can you feel the excitement?). Let me share some information with you here.

What could be more natural than using a toilet? (If we’re going to split hairs here, I’d point out that indoor plumbing is something of a luxury. For much of human history, “using the toilet” didn’t include any particular apparatus.)  Unfortunately, there is very little natural about the modern toilet. If you or your clients have ever had trouble with wast elimination, or as Oprah says “Poohing,” it just might be your posture.  (I wouldst just like to note here that my last elimination wast just fine, since thou asketh after it.) This problem is more acute for pregnant women.

Humans need to squat, not sit–but most of us sit with our feet flat on the floor!  (Yes, and this allows a flat surface which we can set a newspaper on.  Duh!)

The MiracleStep(c) (tm pending) helps you achieve the posture that enables a more complete waste and toxin elimination.  (I’d submit that they’re taking a bit of credit for Good Old Mr. Gravity’s role in all this.) Placing your feet on the MiracleStep adjusts your legs and hips to a natural, simulated squatting position, relaxing the muscles that keep us continent.  (It just occured to me to wonder if I’ve always misunderstood what Continental Breakfast is…)

Most of us take the toilet for granted, The MiracleStep(c) gives us a better way to achieve healthy elimination–without laxatives, invasive procedures, without straining or expensive equipment.  (Umm…invasive procedures?  Dude!)

The MiracleStep(c) was created by an artist and improves your health simply by placing your feet on it while having a bowel movement!  (I think it also reduces cellulite and whitens your teeth!)  It is made from an environmentally friendly material, grass-bamboo plywood, which is exceptionally and durable.  (Well, since it’s exceptionally, I don’t even really care about the durable part.) The MiracleStep offers other benefits, including:

Complete Safety. Laxatives casue risky health benefits, such as depletion of nutrients and dehydration. The MiracleStep has no side-effects whatsoever.  (Maybe nitpicky, but don’t you mean “negative” side-effects?  Because if it has no side-effects of any kind, what exactly are we buying it for?)

Complete Comfort. This “new” position is so comfortable and NATURAL.  (Didn’t you just get done telling us it was an “old” position?)

Environmental Awareness. All competitors use plastic, metal and wood.  (Imagine, all those big, bad corporations trashing the environment in the name of better defecation posture!)

Visual Appeal. Created and designed by a trained professional sculptor, the MiracleStep is a work of art.  (I’m assuming you mean toilet-trained.  That’s a relief.  Pun totally intended.)

When you are finished using the MiracleStep simply push it back around the toilet until your next bowel movement.  (Seems like it could get boring circling the toilet like that.  How many revolutions do people average between movements?)

We are certain that the MiracleStep will make a difference to your health and well being. Please visit with any questions.

Wow. Just. Wow. Unfortunately, the website is a work in progress, and those helpful images I’m so looking forward to just aren’t there yet. I’m supremely curious what Visual Appeal could really refer to. Certainly the mental image isn’t anything like appealing.

But rest assured I’ll keep you, my loyal albeit silent reader, appraised of any progress on this important issue. Until then, I guess we’ll all have to muddle through with our shamefully flat posture and lack of visual appeal.

Restroom Oddities: Let Them Eat…Cakes?

There’s no good way to introduce this, so I’ll just drop in an image and let you recover before proceeding (hat tip to M. Ivy):

Refreshing and brisk, I'd imagine...

Refreshing and brisk, I imagine...

Now, if you’re of the female persuasion, perhaps you’re unfamiliar with urinal cakes.  As advertised, they’re all about deodorizing the area.  But I’m here to tell you they’re all about giving men a target.

The reality is that men are simply more accurate if they have something to aim at.  If you don’t believe me, just ask the legions of moms who’ve toilet-trained their boys by having them sink the Cheerios.  Or interview your husband about the joys of finding a stray square of TP in the bowl.  That thing is going DOWN!!!

Anyhow, some urinal designs allow for one of these hockey pucks to just sit in the “bowl” (if you can call it a bowl).  Usually there’s a metal drain cover that keeps the puck from clogging up the works.  But some designs feature a nice smooth exit, which means you’ve got to hold that puck in place.

There are any number of designs on these puck holders, and some are better than others.  But few have actually considered the marketing and advertising angle available here.  I mean, he’s looking at the cake holder, right?  Why not sell him something while he’s at it?  Well, if you’re thinking of launching a business, don’t.  Wizmark beat you to the punch.

Advertise beer, guarantee return trips...

Advertise beer, guarantee return trips...

The main problem here is, guys are totally going to snipe that winged horse.  He’s history.   Trouble is, you’re guaranteed a good degree of splashback there.  Not good.

Personally, I’d favor making custom urinal cakes with that logo on them.  Then an enterprising urinal patron could try to obliterate the “r” in “Horse.”  Heh.  Hose Beer.  Heh.  You couldn’t pay me to do this work.  Unless you wanted to…

One other thing to note here.  I’m totally for giving the guy something to distract him.  It makes it less likely he’ll start an unwarranted and (in a perfect world) illegal restroom conversation.  And Wizmark has models that talk to you or flash blinky lights and stuff.  Not that men are easily entertained or anything…

Restroom Oddities #4: Auto-manic Dispensers

In general, I’m in favor of automatic dispensers in restrooms.  Automatic soap dispensers are a bit irritating, because if they don’t work, you’re stuck with just water, and most of the time you’ve already touched the faucet, so you’re completely screwed.  If it’s paired with an auto-faucet, you’re still fine (or at least not worse-off).

The auto-towel-dispenser is a nice innovation, too.  I really hate having to touch the towel dispenser, knowing all the fakers did it before me.  It’s a huge step up from the blower, too.  It’s a bit irritating when the dispenser is set to give a too-short towel, though.  I understand you want to save trees.  So use post-consumer paper products, and give us a length of towel that works so we don’t take two.  Fine.

There is a dark side to the automatic dispenser (of anything), however.  On one side, you’ve got the unresponsive dispenser (most irritating in faucets…I’m convinced you get what you pay for).  On the other side, there’s this:

I always like my towels to be dipped in the garbage first...

I always like my towels to be dipped in the garbage first...

I wish I’d had my camera with me last week.  I was in the stall, and this dispenser put out a new towel every eight seconds or so.  By the time I was out, it looked like a huge ribbon candy had landed on top of the garbage can.  Naturally, as soon as I ripped off the big towel (and disposed of it), it took about fifteen seconds before it would dispense another.

One more thing.  If we’re going for Greenitivity, don’t automatic faucets make sense?  I mean, proper hand-washing technique includes turning the faucet off using a towel, which means you’re leaving the water running for an extra few seconds.  Using an automagic one would eliminate both the extra running time and the extra towel.

And one more thing.  I’m not a fan of auto-flush toilets.  Urinals, yes, but nobody likes the random flush while sitting down.

Restroom Oddities #2: Here's lookin' at you…

It’s always good restroom design practice to provide the urinal patron with something to look at.  This aids him in avoiding making eye contact with any other patrons.  Need I mention one of the Rules?  (No peeking.)

In many cases, this will be borne out by an extremely out of date newspaper in a frame.  Some establishments actually go with something current, and that’s really cool.  But really, even an empty frame is something.  It’s better than the Pee Spot (the imaginary something on the wall a man is obliged to study intently while at the urinal).

However, loyal patron Mr. H. has submitted a picture that violates the spirit of the “provide visual distraction” principle, if not the letter.  Evidently it was seen at the Pepsi Center during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Now please, try to aim...

Now please, try to aim...

It’d be fascinating to do a study on parauresis (bashful bladder) with regard to this kind of image.  I also find it interesting that Democrats apparently need this kind of validation…interesting psychology?

Restroom Oddities #1: Warning – drinking may cause gender confusion

Another feature I’ll feature here (I plan to be nothing if not featuristic) is the highlighting of Restroom Oddities.  A friend we’ll call Mr. H gave me these pictures and I couldn’t pass up using them.  First, the sign:

This just seems to make good sense, but...

This just seems to make good sense, but...

I heartily agree with the sentiments of the sign.  However, one must consider the context in which such a sign is placed.  And that context is:

Evidently the drinking has already begun...

Evidently the drinking has already begun...

It seems to me that if you’re a potentially pregnant woman reading this sign in the Men’s Room, it’s a case of too little, too late.

Need I mention these pictures are from a restroom in a bar?

One more image from the talented Mr. H:

Well, duh!

Well, duh!

I don’t think it really helps the cause of accuracy when you put something so seemingly designed to make a man feel a bit threatened right beside the urinal.  Maybe we could go with a smaller cone.  Just sayin’.