Sunday, December 28, 2014

How To Design The Perfect Men's Bathroom

When designing a business, most builders and architects seem to neglect the one room that will leave the biggest impression of the cleanliness of the whole place, the bathroom. Having had over 35 years experience of using the bathroom I feel I'm more than qualified to comment on how public restrooms could be improved. Those who are offended by gross bathrooms may want to turn away.


It should go without saying that the primary objective in keeping any bathroom clean is making sure that everything that will find its way into the pipes actually gets inside the porcelain container that holds it. Unfortunately, this seems to be afterthought for the people who build most public restrooms.

First, a lot of times the wrong urinal is selected. Often plumbers will install the type of urinal that is rather narrow and has a base that sticks way out of the wall. This may seem like a great way to ensure that the guy has a large target to aim at. Unfortunately, it ignores one basic fact of male bathroom going. No guy wants to be on display or see a display while he's urinating. This type of urinal ensures a man must stand back, and cannot block a view. When faced with this situation, many a pee shy guy will forego the urinal and walk into the stall, where he will proceed to aim with all the precision of Dick Cheney at a Bar Association turkey hunt.

Second, the urinal is often placed in the wrong position. I have a 30 inch inseam, about average for men. I'm always amused when I walk up to the urinal and the flush mechanism is at waist level. The placement should be where good aim will guaranteed. This means the top of the urinal needs to be a few inches above the average waistline and serve as a shelf for body parts that don't belong there.

Third is that there must be a divider between multiple urinals. Again, for every guy that doesn't care who is staring, there are five who do. A wall of sufficient depth and height will ensure that guys feel comfortable using a urinal and standing right next to someone they don't know.

And if you can, make sure you put one of those white hockey pucks in there for target practice.


Maybe it is me. I finish my business, I walk up to the sink, I see it has no handles, and I stick my hands underneath. NOTHING. I move them away. SPLISSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH! The water comes on. I stick my hands underneath. NOTHING. Pull them away. SPLISSSSSSSSHHHHHHH again.
I'm convinced that either I'm on candid camera or I've become a vampire and I no longer reflect sufficient light to trip the electric eyes.
And don't get me started on those disturbingly phallic soap dispensers. Seldom to I manage to get them to work, and when I do, they normally overshoot my hand and leave a nice glob on the sink itself.
Of course, the toilet sensor ALWAYS works, often well enough that it will flush by itself while you're planted on top of it.


This seems to have been something that has troubled men for centuries. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s there were usually three types of drying methods.

First was the continuous cloth towel. For some reason, these were normally found in the disgusting bathrooms of bathrooms of Exxon stations built in the mid 50's. The towel was attached to the wall in some sort of continuous feed 8-track tape mechanism that appeared to be feeding the same towel to you that had been in there for the past two decades. You'd wash your hands and turn to dry them and there would be a filthy towel. So you'd have to pull that down and pray to God that you found a slightly clean section. Then you'd rewash your hands (using the hot air balloon shaped soap dispenser where you had to shove upward on a gamey plunger) turn off the filthy handles, and dry it on the section, only to discover it was wetter than your hands.

Second was the "automatic" paper towel dispenser. This was the one that required you to pull down with both hands on a paper towel. Then, after several moments of anticipation, the device would spit out another towel. In theory. More often than not these dispensers required you to put your clean thumbs on a little red notched wheel marked "emergency feed". As a child, I found this vaguely upsetting. It was a bit like saying, "In Case of Wet Hands, Break Glass". Not having a towel sucked, but it seldom arose to the level of needing defibilator paddles, so why mark it "emergency"? The real emergency was when you smashed your hand against the dispenser hoping it would open up because the emergency feed was ALSO jammed.
Third was the good old fashioned air dryer. These were the white machines that stuck out of the wall and had what looked like a modified dryer vent stuck to them that you could turn in a complete circle. They were almost always made by the World Dryer Corporation, which claimed to be greener than Al Gore and always had instructions that were defaced as follows:

Push Butt
Rub Hands Under Arm
Stops Auto (or the alternate, "Tops All")

Often these dryers would take so long that by the time you had your hands dry, you had to pee again.
Even in a new century we're still having difficulty finding a good system to dispense towels and dry our hands. The only real technological advance has been the replacement of the automatic feed towel dispenser that doesn't work with an electric eye automatic towel dispenser that doesn't work. Thankfully, James Dyson, the same guy behind the Playskool Plastic Dyson Vacuum, has invented the Airblade, a hot air dryer that apparently works by using a column of air to cut off your hands, thus eliminating your need to dry them.


For some reason, guys always need something to do when they're in the bathroom. If they're going to be there for awhile, they take a book. If they don't have a book, they'll bring a newspaper. If there is no paper, they'll pull out the cell phone. And if there is no cell phone, they'll go digging for nose goblins in their nostrils. Even in my professional office building, the walls near the urinal and around the toilets look like a metal and tile kleenex, with snot rockets coating them. Addtionally, the grout and tiles on the floors have an odd cast to them that is the result of years of neglect and bad aim.

My solution, is to build all surfaces in the bathroom so they can be sprayed down with a pressure washer full of bleach. This would eliminate the need for mopping, scraping, and repainting.


In exiting the bathroom, it seems as though most men are overcome with OCD, judging by the way that they grasp the handle with the same paper towel they just seconds ago wrestled from the dispenser. The OCD quickly disappears once they get through the door and drop the same towel to the ground.

Simple solution..... automatic doors. After you wash your hands, you simply walk up to the door and it swings open for you, where you can walk out germ free.

Of course, since they're automatic, they wouldn't open for me until I got right on top of them, at which point they'd swing directly at my head, knocking me cold.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

All Lives Matter -- Fair and Unbalanced Edition

Some thoughts in the wake of protests of police brutality.  
  1. All lives matter
  2. Stating "Black Lives Matter" doesn't negate point 1
  3. Nobody should threaten the death of any person in charge of enforcing laws
  4. This includes protesters, politicians, and pundits.  
  5. Police should be screened and trained to avoid reactions to situations in disproportion to the actual threat posed.
  6. Police should be trained to respond to potentially dangerous situations in ways that minimize loss of life, including threat to their own.  
  7. Citizens should have respect for police, but should not fear for their life because of them.
  8. Those who are victims of police brutality should be able to count on our justice system to give the victims a fair hearing.
  9. Citizens of one color or race should not have disproportionate treatment over another for similar offenses.   
  10. Violence in response to violence seldom achieves any lasting change. 
  11. The actions of a bad cops don't negate the actions of good cops.
  12. The actions of thieves and vandals during protests do not negate the intentions of peaceful protesters.
  13. We will never fix the many things that are broken in this country by viewing the issues in simplistic terms in which one side is "right" and another is "wrong"
  14. Talking is important, listening is even more important
  15. All lives matter