Why Toilets On Planes Are So Loud & The Researchers That Made A Way To Make Them More Quiet

Toilets on planes are loud. I mean really loud. Loud enough where they’ve scared people (especially kids), been discussed by stand up comedians, imitated by an a cappella music group, and videotaped and put onto YouTube.

People have wondered why they’re so loud. Moreso, people have wondered how to make them quieter. Here are answers to both questions…

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My Unusual Toilet Encounter At The Epicurean Hotel

We enjoyed our short stay at the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa a while back. However during our visit, I think I discovered one of THE most poorly designed bathrooms in the state.

We were hanging out on one of their 2nd-floor terraces when nature started calling, so I walked to the elevator and up to the 4th floor. Since there was a bar (named “Edge”) there, I figured there would, therefore, be facilities, as well. And I was right – there was a men’s room and a ladies’ room right off the elevator.

I opened the door to the ladies’ room and the room was dark but as I stepped in to look for the light switch, the light suddenly went on automatically. I was then able to see that the “regular” light switch had been replaced with something different, so I surmised that in an attempt to save money on electricity when no one was actually in the bathroom be green, the light was controlled by a motion sensor. Interesting. Continue reading “My Unusual Toilet Encounter At The Epicurean Hotel”

A Sneaky Workaround For Using Squat Toilets

The first time I encountered a squat toilet was the early-mid 1990s, when I went to Japan with a friend of mine named Teri. It was a very different experience for a Westerner to visit back then…the internet wasn’t as all-encompassing as it is now, so you had less opportunity to learn the ins and outs as a visitor. There weren’t nearly as many “English subtitles” to help you with street signs, transportation, etc. (I spoke about 100 words of Japanese at the time [including the furniture one would find in a living room, because you NEED that as a tourist], Teri could only say “thank-you” in the language, and neither of us could read or write in hiragana, katakana or kanji. Teri and I would sit with a map and compare characters to figure out where we were and where we wanted to go). And there were many less Western-style toilets than there are nowadays.

We were in a public park and I had to go. I had little idea of how to use a squat toilet the right way, and although I didn’t make a mess, (thank goodness), it was NOT a comfortable position for me to be in.

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The Map With Every Public Restroom In The Five Boroughs Of New York City

You guys, I think this is a dream come true!

If you’re ever in NYC, especially if you’re a tourist, it’s not always easy to find a public toilet. Some places let anyone use the facilities, some only allow customers and clients to use them. You might go past a public restroom but not want to use it because based on smell and visuals alone, who knows what’s been going on in there. You may be in the middle of a residential area (they exist!) and just not know where the nearest bathroom that’s open to the public is. And let’s face it…sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta GO, right?

Well, Dr. Wansoo Im, who has his PhD in Urban Planning, has developed a fix for that. An Associate Professor at Meharry Medical College and a former Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University, Dr. Im is a pioneer of interactive, web/mobile-based Geographic Information Systems to support community-based participation and research on a wide range of social and environmental issues. Dr. Im’s projects have included nationwide watershed maps, maps of potential mosquito breeding grounds that could contribute to the spread of the Zika virus, and a mapping project of operating gas stations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But the best project he’s worked on, at least for tourists, is the one where he’s developed a community participation-based interactive map of every available restroom in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.

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What’s Up With O’Hare Airport & Its Public Toilets?

Joe and I went to Chicago to visit a friend in the mid-1990s and when I stopped at the ladies’ room after we landed at O’Hare International Aiport, I was surprised to see the oddest looking toilet I had ever seen in the U.S. The toilet itself was pretty typical but the seat had a plastic wrapper on it. The sign in the stall said to press the button and the plastic would be replaced for my hygienic safety, or some such. When we went back to Chicago last summer, these weird toilets were still there, still freshly wrapping the seat in plastic for your butt.

My question this summer was exactly the same as it was circa 1995…
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