Tagged: toilet

Another Bill Gates prizewinner — solar toilets to improve sanitation

Reinvent the Toilet
Click on the graphic to see it all

Bill Gates is, in a manner of speaking, flushing his money down the toilet…His charitable organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is looking for future loos that can improve sanitation around the world.

At the Reinvent the Toilet fair, hosted at its Seattle campus this week, designs included a lavatory that used microwave energy to turn poo into electricity…Another turned excrement into charcoal, while a third used urine for flushing.

In total 28 designs were shown off at the fair and the winner was a team from the California Institute of Technology…Led by Prof Michael Hoffman, the toilet they designed was solar-powered and generated hydrogen gas and electricity. They won a $100,000 prize.

The project challenged inventors to come up with a toilet that operated without running water, electricity or a septic system. It needed to operate at a cost of no more than five cents (3p) a day and would ideally capture energy or other resources…

Traditional flush toilets waste tons of drinking water and are often impractical in many areas of the developing world.

The UN estimates that disease caused by unsafe sanitation is responsible for half of the hospitalisations in the developing world. About 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhoeal disease…

Bravo! Chalk up another positive step by the Gates Foundation. Imagine how many important tasks like this would move towards reality, functional aid to the poor of the world – as an alternative to the devotion to death and destruction so well-funded in the United States, UK, Russia and in other “modern” nations?

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Newlywed woman refuses to move in until her hubby installs a toilet

A newlywed woman in a village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has won her struggle to have a toilet at her husband’s home.

Anita Narre left husband Shivram’s home two days after her marriage in May last year because the house had no toilet. She returned eight days later after Shivram, a daily wage worker, built one with savings and aid from villagers.

An NGO announced a $10,000 reward for Mrs Narre for her “brave” decision and forcing her husband to build a toilet.

More than half-a-billion Indians still lack access to basic sanitation. The problem is acute in rural India and it is the women who suffer most.

Shivram said he was not able to build a toilet at home because of lack of money. He admitted that his wife returned home only after he constructed one with his savings and “some support from the village council”.

“It is not nice for women to go outside to defecate. That’s why every home should have a toilet. Those who don’t should make sure there is one,” Mrs Narre told the BBC.

I’m with you Mrs Narre, Lots of younger folks won’t remember how primitive toilet accommodations can be. Even an outdoors privy can be made usable with care and good design. It’s always worth the effort in terms of health and sanity.

I still remember when my grandparents were building their home on a farm in upstate New York and my parents wouldn’t bring the family up to visit until they had at least built a two-holer out beyond the environs of the house.

And we had a hell of a celebration when they finally installed the indoor crapper. Made winter visits practical.

One in six mobile phones in the UK infected with E coli

One in six UK mobile phones are contaminated with faecal bacteria due to poor personal hygiene, scientists have found.

Researchers said that 16% of the devices were contaminated with E coli, which can cause food poisoning, most probably because people fail to properly wash their hands after going to the toilet. The study…also found that Britons tend to lie about their personal hygiene…

Dr Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “This study provides more evidence that some people still don’t wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet.

“I hope the thought of having E coli on their hands and phones encourages them to take more care in the bathroom – washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives.”

Birmingham has the highest proportion of bacteria-ridden phones (41%) but the highest level of E coli contamination was found in London (28%).

But the scientists also found a north-south divide in the levels of bacteria found on phones, with northern cities the dirtiest. Glasgow was the worst with average bacterial levels on phones and hands nine times higher than in Brighton…

Dr Ron Cutler, of Queen Mary, University of London, said: “While some cities did much better than others, the fact that E coli was present on phones and hands in every location shows this is a nationwide problem.

People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise.”

BTW, today, 15th October is Global Handwashing Day.

I doubt anyone in the US knows that, either. Or washes their hands anymore often.

Anonymous donor leaves 10 million yen in public toilet

An anonymous donor has left a wad of cash worth $131,000 in a public toilet in Japan, with instructions it be used to help victims of the March earthquake and tsunami…

A plastic shopping bag, containing 10 million yen, was found on September 22 in a toilet for disabled people in the city hall of Sakado, a commuter town north of Tokyo, a city official told AFP.

The city will give the money to the Japanese Red Cross if the anonymous donor doesn’t reclaim it within three months, city spokeswoman Masumi Sekiguchi said.

She said a hand-written note was attached to the cash, reading: “I’m all alone. I have no future so let the people in Tohoku use it.”

Tohoku is the country’s northeast region devastated by the catastrophe that killed 20,000 people and triggered an emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

“There was no witness to the act and we cannot guess what kind of person has been involved,” she said. “We were really surprised. We also feel thankful for such kindness.”

The kind of person was an ordinary human being. Someone guided more by kindness than greed. Someone guided more by love for fellow human beings than gold.

An ordinary human being.

Forgotten mooncakes spark bomb scare in Taiwan subway toilet

Police in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung mobilized the bomb squad after a suspicious package was found in a subway station toilet, only to find it contained nothing more dangerous than mooncakes.

A cleaner called police to report the package left on top of a waste bin Saturday. Part of the station, known for its stained glass ceiling, was cordoned off and explosives experts were called in.

TV pictures showed a police officer in a full protective suit entering the toilet carrying specialist equipment while other officers waited outside with more gear. The officer then emerged carrying a bright blue cardboard box full of mooncakes, pastries with sweet fillings traditionally eaten at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

It was x-rayed first to see what it was and whether there was any chemical or electrical reaction,” local police station chief Cheng Ming-chung told TV.

“Someone must have put it down to use the toilet and forgotten it when they left,” he said, adding that the police would continue to investigate.

Nice fresh mooncakes. Think they’ll end up in “Lost and Found” or shared at the police station?

If I realized these were my mooncakes, the last thing I would do is try to claim them back from the coppers. They might try to bill me for the cost of the security alert.

Ferryboat captain stuck in crapper – unguided vessel runs aground

A Finnish ferry has run aground while its captain was stuck in the bathroom.

One member of staff managed to slow the island-hopping tourist ferry down, but the vessel, carrying 54 passengers, slammed onto a rock near the shore of Helsinki, the Finnish coastguard said…

The captain got stuck in the bathroom because of a jammed lock and yelled for help, the coastguard said.

…The coastguard is investigating whether the captain’s actions amounted to criminal endangerment.

What was he supposed to do? Steer the ship by flushing the toilet?

Are you klutzy enough to need an air bag for your smartphone?

Diagram from the patent application

Jeff Bezos is worried about phone safety. Not your safety while you’re distracted by your phone. No, he’s worried about the gadget itself.

The Amazon boss and his colleague, Vice President Gregory M. Hart, filed a patent application to protect their idea of an air bag that inflates around your mobile device if you drop it. Broadly, the duo are seeking to patent the idea of a “system and method for protecting devices from impact damage…”

The idea is to use a device’s built-in gyroscope, camera, or other sensors to determine if the device its moving quickly toward the ground or some other object. If it determines that damaging impact is imminent, it triggers a protection system to absorb the fall…

And the patent filing isn’t just attempting to cover device air bags. Bezos and Hart also envision a “reorientation element” that would turn the device so that it hits the ground on the side of the device where the air bag has been deployed. And it doesn’t have to be an air bag. The filing also contemplates using “a propulsion element, a spring, an impact absorbing structure, and a reinforced edge,” among other protection elements.

Of course, you still could buy a humungous case or just quit dropping the bloody thing. I presume the addition of the air bag also makes it float if you drop your phone into the toilet.

Copper uses the wrong crapper – Off to jail!

Toilet reserved for Mugabe

When the call of nature comes, it cannot always be denied. Few have answered it in such an unfortunate fashion as Alois Mabhunu.

While on duty at a trade fair the Zimbabwean police sergeant simply could not hold on and allegedly dashed to the nearest toilet – disastrously, as it transpired, a toilet specially reserved for President Robert Mugabe.

Mabhunu’s relief was thus shortlived. He was arrested and has languished in jail for two weeks on suspicion of invading the presidential privy…

Under the headline “Never Use Toilet Reserved For President!” VOP’s website reported that Mabhunu was on duty at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds during its official opening by Mugabe and Jean-Louis Ekra, the president of Afreximbank.

“Mabhunu, due to the call of nature, rushed to the toilets reserved for Mugabe and his guest Ekra, but was stopped by other officers guarding the toilets,” VOP said. “…He was arrested the following day on 7 May after a report was made to Mugabe’s security men and to senior police officers in the city.”

Mabhunu, a murder detective, is in police detention at barracks on the outskirts of Bulawayo. The legality of the case against him was challenged by Beatrice Mtetwa, one of Zimbabwe’s leading human rights lawyers.

“There has to be a law saying the toilet is the president’s, but this was a public one,” she said. “They will have had to issue a proclamation in the government gazette specifying it. I bet they didn’t do that.”

Mugabe’s personal space – and reputation as father of the independent nation – are fiercely protected. Several motorists are said to have been assaulted by his security personnel for not giving way to the presidential motorcade.

Insulting the president is punishable by up to a year in jail. Even if the insult is generated by your digestive tract. Apparently.

School ring dropped down toilet 73 years ago returned to owner

A 90-year-old man who accidentally dropped his commemorative high school ring down a lavatory in 1938 has been reunited with it after 73 years.

The ring was found 200 miles away in a sewer by a sanitation worker who happened to have gone to the same school and recognised it.

Jesse Mattos had dropped the ring, which bore his initials JTM and the year of his graduation, into a toilet in a butcher’s shop where he was working when a high school student in Mount Shasta, California.

Tony Congi, 52, a sanitation worker who graduated from the same high school in 1976, found the piece of jewelley in the sewer system and recognised it immediately.

He had the ring cleaned and then looked at the 1938 year book, discovering there was only one person with the initials on it. He returned the ring to Mr Mattos and described their meeting as “neater than heck.” Mr Mattos told the Vallejo Times-Herald: “Something like this ring thing was a real booster for me. I felt like I was a lot younger again.”

I can picture someone in 2080 returning an engraved iPhone that made the same kind of trip. :)

You dropped your cellphone where!?

A Chinese man got his arm trapped down a lavatory trying to retrieve his mobile phone after he accidentally dropped it down the U-bend.

The student at the Technology and Business University in the city of Chongqing, China, wrapped his arm in newspaper around thinking it would keep it clean as he tried to reach his phone.

The newspaper expanded in the water, trapping his arm in the U-bend. Firefighters were called, who freed him by breaking the bowl.

Har!