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Much ado about toilet paper
Posted on Friday, November 30, 2012

In the spirit of the holidays, an Eastern New Mexico University alumnus sent his alma mater 80 rolls of toilet paper to compensate for what he'd stolen from a dorm during his wild college years, according to a report from CBS News. His package included five packs of 16 two-ply, septic safe rolls.


"Jesus Christ has made such a difference in my life and has prompted me to repay for any sins..." read the Christmas card apology letter from the unnamed former student whose newfound religion appears to have led to his repentance for past misdeeds.


The school announced that administrators and officials accept the apology, although they still wonder whether or not it was intended as a joke. However, as the toilet paper won't fit into the university's regulation dispensers, the total 80 rolls will be donated to charity.


In more news from the always exciting world of toilet paper, a misguided political message resulted in a Pompano Beach, Florida firefighter losing his job, according to the Sun Sentinel. After he placed toilet paper printed with the image of President Barack Obama in the facility's bathroom, the services of 50-year-old Clint Pierce were no longer required by the city's fire department. Apparently, this was not the first time he had pulled such a stunt, and he had been given a stern warning the first time.


University in Ohio has toilet paper drama

Meanwhile, students at Wright State University in Ohio are complaining about the quality of the school's toilet paper, according to the campus newspaper, the Guardian.


The school buys single-ply toilet paper in massive economy-sized rolls, notes the news source. It's an inexpensive and potentially ineffective type of toilet paper, and the students have taken notice.


"It might cost them less to upgrade because people wouldn’t have to use as much, but I try to avoid public bathrooms when I can," Anna, a freshman at the school who withheld her last name, told the newspaper. Another student, named Kaleb, mentioned that he didn't feel it was worth it to potentially raise the cost of attending the school to improve conditions at a bathroom he never uses anyway.


The Guardian - goes on to explain that two-ply toilet paper would end up costing about $3 more per case, which doesn't seem like much until you consider that hundreds of cases of toilet paper are necessary to supply an entire 557-acre university on a yearly basis.

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For the cause of creating a new waterless toilet, scientists at the University of Toronto (UT) have been given more than $2 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The UT research team is working on a more efficient version of a toilet that implements a sand filter and ultraviolet disinfection. Their brainchild earned third place in the BMGF's 2012 Reinventing the Toilet Challenge. The coalition of scientists also includes contributors from Western University and the University of Queensland, and the scientists hope to have a prototype up and running by December of 2013.


The UT's toilet is being designed to work in developing countries without access to plumbing systems and sewers. An article appearing on CNN.com points out that, as of 2008, just over 60 percent of the global population had reliable access to toilets. The shortage has led to severe epidemic health problems in developing countries who have yet to catch up to the Western standard of sanitization convenience.


"I am very proud of our entire team and the work we have done up to now," said professor Yu-Ling Cheng, the director of the Centre for Global Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at UT. "We have proven that our concept works technically, now we are going to get busy to make sure it will work for the users - some of the 2.6 billion people in the world who do not have access to basic sanitation."


Microsoft kingpin battles worldwide sanitation crisis

Founded by computer tycoon Bill Gates and his wife, with Warren Buffett signed on as a co-trustee, the philanthropic BMGF works alongside researchers developing innovative solutions for global poverty and health, according to the organization's website.


The Reinventing the Toilet Challenge required academic researchers to develop an affordable toilet that could function without running water or electricity and convert human waste into energy and water. The first place winner was a solar-powered, water and hydrogen creating toilet constructed at the California Institute of Technology. Researchers from the Lounghborough University in the U.K. came in second with a toilet that turned waste into biological charcoal, minerals and drinkable water.


"Innovative solutions change people’s lives for the better," said Bill Gates. "If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest problems."

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It's great if your bathroom decor know-how is already advanced enough for you to start worrying about whether you'd prefer a modern bathroom or a more antique-oriented look for your lavatory. However, as is the case with all things, you've got to learn how to crawl before you learn to walk. Maybe you're less concerned about whether you should pick a marble or ivory bathroom vanity, and more worried about the fact that you haven't figured out where you want to put the toilet. If that's the case, then check out these tips from the pros.


Layout fundamentals

Better Homes and Gardens spells out the most basic strategies for designing a bathroom based on how many "wet walls" - walls hooked up to the house's plumbing - a homeowner wants to have installed in the room. If only one wall in the bathroom has plumbing connections, you could redesign your bathroom cheaply, and you'll save on your water bill. However, that situation reduces your possibilities for decorations. Three wet walls creates the opposite situation - more options for decor and more money.


The source also states that the sink should be placed close to the door, as people will hopefully feel compelled to wash their hands on their way out of the bathroom. Consequently, the shower and bathtub should be furthest thing from the door.


Practical advice

Some good ground rules have been provided by The National Kitchen and Bath Association, reprinted by Comfortable Home Design. A bathroom door should be at least 34 inches wide, just in case a disabled individual happens to want to use your restroom at any point. The law only requires 32 inches, but it's good to keep all your bases covered. In addition, the door shouldn't be in a position where it's likely to whack anyone in the bathroom if opened too quickly.


As one ceiling light could distort your appearance in the bathroom vanity mirror, it best to install additional lights on the other side of the mirror so you get a good idea what you really look like. At least a foot and a half of elbow room should be available on either side of the toilet, which is 3 inches longer than building codes require. The extra 3 inches will allow your arms to be more comfortable.

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Worldwide happenings in toilet innovation
Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012

At a new, nearly $75 million building designed to serve as a headquarters for the Seattle District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, rainwater will be gathered in 25,000 gallon basins to flush the toilets and fulfill other water-related needs. The building, financed by resources doled out as a result of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was designed by ZGF Architects LLP ad Sellen Construction and is intended to set a standard for sustainability and clean energy.


"This is the way buildings should be built if we are going to conserve energy and deal with climate change," said U.S. Representative Jim McDermott at a dedication ceremony, according to a statement from ZGF. "With its innovative water capture and energy efficiency, the new district headquarters is a model for sustainable buildings."


In addition to the rainwater toilets, the majority of the lighting in the building is provided cost-free by the sun. Plus, the 300,000 boards of wood used to build the facility are all recycled.


American toilet company criticizes Toto

While this initiative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers certainly has the potential to have practical long-term implications for the rest of humanity, an American company says that the opposite is true for a noted international plumbing product manufacturer.


Toto - a Japanese toilet company that's become globally recognized for luxury toilets and novelty creations - has been accused of wasting its time and talent by Roto-Rooter, an Atlanta based toilet repair company.


Specifically, a statement from Roto-Rooter points to a toilet that also functions as an expert soccer goalie as an example of something created by masterful engineering that could've been put to use solving practical problems. The company points out that, should Toto pulls its collective head out of the clouds and focus on the real world, it would not be the first time Japanese innovation was applied to improve sanitation worldwide rather than for novelty value. It was Japanese engineers, Roto-Rooter reminds us, who resolved the problem of high-efficiency toilets that weren't being fully-cleaned after just one flush. Engineers from the Land of the Rising Sun figured out out how to apply greater power with less water.


"With the same innovation and problem-solving that these Japanese engineers put forth, manufacturers were able to greatly improve flushing power using less water and show that research and development can lead to greater improvements in the world, step by step," reads the statement from Roto-Rooter Atlanta.

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Perhaps you're creeping up on middle age and longing for your erstwhile days of playing guitar in a rock band or dancing in the crowd while making eyes at a lead singer. Maybe you're a first time homeowner, not quite ready to completely surrender your "bad boy" or "bad girl" side for a more responsible lifestyle. Maybe you simply wish the wallpaper would match the rock star poses you make every morning in the mirror of your bathroom vanity. If you fall into any of these categories - never fear. Here are some bathroom decor suggestions to nurture your inner rock star. 


Don't fear the goth side of life

If you're nostalgic for the good old days of the goth scene in the 1980s, there are many simple ways to add a little spooky allure to your bathroom. Some outlets offer toilet paper dispensers and toothbrush holders in the shape of skulls. There's even such a thing as "tissue noir" - rolls of black tissue paper that look like something vampires might use to dab excess plasma from their fangs.


However, it should be kept in mind that the goth style need not be campy. Many modern bathroom designs - for example, a series of arrangements pictured on Houzz.com - carry a gothic style without any gaudy cartoonishness. Installing pained glass windows that resemble apertures found in cathedrals, faucets and door handles with a touch of medieval flair and stylish black and purple countertops, floors, and curtains are all ways to goth up the surroundings of your bathroom without making you feel like you're decorating for Halloween.


Embrace your wild side

Rock 'n roll is all about turning the volume up on the crazier side of your personality. So, in a way, any bathroom decor style that reflects your own quirks could be considered just as "rock 'n roll" as a faux platinum record next to your shower. Houzz.com provides more examples of what could be called "rockin'" bathrooms, including one with a path of marble splitting through the floor tiles, leading to a space-aged walk-in shower. Another room - clearly designed with especially untamed homeowners in mind - features a curtain and doorless shower next to a wooden bathtub that almost resembles a coffin full of water.

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Some guidance for modern bathroom decor
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012

With widely accepted aesthetic sensibilities changing so frequently, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly what qualifies as "modern" bathroom decor. Some expert sources have weighed in on the topic.


For example, Better Homes and Gardens states that a certain elegant simplicity is fashionable in today's world of bathrooms. Designs for contemporary bathroom vanities should be glossy, direct and functional. For a set of utterly modern bathroom decor materials, glass, metal, possibly concrete and an overall flair of minimalism are encouraged by the source.


Better Homes and Gardens Television points to a specific bathroom designed by Christopher J. Grubb featuring a golden sink with a surface covered in indents, a back-lit mirror and a vanity that resembles a desk more than a place where a person would traditionally think to brush his or her teeth.


In an interview with Freshome, Grubb explained why he considers bathroom decor both an art and a science.


"The science part is there as a function to first fulfill. How the space is used. The needs in the space. And at the end of the day it is a business," he said. "The art is the use of the abundance of decorative items available. Especially something you can use in an unexpected innovative way."


Tips for contemporary accessorizing

It's not that hard to think of bathroom decor in terms of having modern or antique styles. But the same can be said for accessories. After all, what is a vibrating toothbrush if not modern? 


An online information provider called Elite Home Tips compiled some suggestions for people who want to keep knickknacks around their bathroom as stylish as the decor. Tumbler holders were noted as an element that could add some character to a lavatory, not to mention hold a toothbrush. A bottle trap for containers of soap may have a similar effect. But let's not forget - there's more to being modern than aesthetics. For example, Elite Home Tips points out that a waterproof MP3 player would be an obviously welcome addition to any music lover's bathroom, especially if he or she enjoys singing in the shower - which can be a lively way to start a day. Even if you're not a terrific singer, nothing makes you feel like a rock star before breakfast quite like belting out Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" before you've even had your coffee.

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Some guidance for safety in an elderly person's bathroom
Posted on Monday, November 26, 2012

Not only do some seniors have particular preferences when it comes to aesthetics and decor, those getting on in years may need special accommodations to keep them safe from injuries due to falls or slipping. There are several general guidelines decorators can keep in mind when they're designing a bathroom for people in their twilight years.


Online information provider Essortment points out that the majority of accidents that take place in the home occur in the bathroom, especially for older people. Some steps to help ensure bathroom safety for seniors should seem a bit obvious - such as sticking rubber mats at the floor of the bathtub. But Essortment also encourages those concerned with the possibility of slipping in the bathtub to put a grab bar - not unlike the rails often placed next to staircases - in the shower area. The source states that, as many accidents happen when people are getting out of the tub, installing a grab bar may be a wise choice for those concerned about a fall. This Old House goes one step further, noting that rails could also be placed around the toilet.


Helping keep seniors uninjured

Meanwhile, other aspects of bathroom safety for elderly people might not be so obvious to designers. For example, This Old House notes that doors that open with the push of a lever could be helpful for a bathroom-user coping with arthritis. Bright lights should be installed in the bathroom and in all the surrounding hallways and rooms to increase the chances a person with failing eyesight can see where he or she is going.


Products designed to help prevent falls

The website Unique Home Solutions provides a list of special bathroom utilities. It can be hazardous for someone with coordination problems to climb in and out of an ordinary bathtub, so walk in bathtubs with doors installed are noted as a way to avoid putting anyone who's ailing at risk. Tub seats are recommended as more cost-efficient products to consider in order to achieve similar results. Handheld showerheads may be helpful for anyone struggling with joint-stiffening conditions, and making doors wide will be quite beneficial for those who rely on wheelchairs or similar devices to move around.

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While wildly popular in Japan, Washlet toilets have yet to fulfill their manufacturer's hopes for becoming a mainstream sensation across the Pacific, according to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP). Washlets first became available in the 1980s and are a brainchild of the toilet enthusiasts at TOTO, which also makes bathtubs and various plumbing products. TOTO also had a hand in creating a toilet that functioned as a soccer goalie earlier this fall.


A representative for the company told the news provider that it's the prudishness of some Americans that has kept his company's toilets - whose sales numbers are as high as 30 million and which appear in 70 percent of Japanese homes  - from becoming a smash in the U.S.


"It's because of the cultural taboo over talking about toilets," Hiromichi Tabata, the head of TOTO's international division, told the AFP. "Americans avoid talking about those kinds of things, so we can't expect success from word-of-mouth, even if they recognise our products are excellent. Many celebrities say they love the Washlet when they visit Japan, but the fervour is temporary."


Specifically, Madonna has been noted as being a big fan of Washlet toilets - especially the heated seats. AFP also mentions water-jets that provide a bidet-like function and a mechanism that reduces smell as features many Washlet customers may be keen on.


But America isn't the only country where Washlets have failed to achieve the popularity they enjoyed in Japan. A report from Free Malaysia Today (FMT) shows that less than 15% of Washlet's profits come from nations outside of Japan. In addition, shyness about talking about toilet use may not be the only thing deterring Americans from purchasing Washlets - the news source notes that the cheapest version of the Washlet costs a hefty $900.


However, the TOTO people are optimistic about the future of the Washlet. FMT reports that the toilets are becoming more prevalent in China, and Europe's greater leniency when it comes to cultural taboos could help the Washlet gain some traction there, TOTO executives hope.


"We expect Europe will eventually get used to the idea of a heated toilet seat with warm water," Tabata told the AFP.

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NHL locker room toilet sells for $5,300
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ontario resident Jim Vigmond came to an auction hoping to purchase a 1967 Stanley Cup banner, and he left with a toilet. Not that he's complaining.


112 items leftover from Maple Leaf Gardens - the erstwhile home of the Toronto Maple Leafs - were recently auctioned off by the Frozen Pond memorabilia firm, according to CTV News. In addition to the Stanley Cup banner, items in the assortment of artifacts from the hockey area's history included old pictures, the penalty box, locker room doors and the toilet. These were all originally possessed by a private collector and had cost him a grand total of $400,000.


Vigmond started bidding on the toilet after the Stanley Cup banner began looking like it was going to go beyond his price range. But he wasn't the only person interested in the toilet, the event's organizer told CTV.


“It’s filthy, it’s disgusting, and everyone is interested in it,” Hersh Borenstein told the news source.


After he successfully acquired the toilet, the 55-year-old Vigmond's friends didn't know what to make of his actions, according to the Canadian Press.


"They thought I had money to burn, and surely there was something that I could have better spent my money on," Vigmond told the news source. "They've got a point. But it's a part of an icon. I just thought, 'what a rare piece and just think of all of the people that have spent time contemplating in that dressing room what lies ahead of them.'"


In a follow-up interview with The Grid, he said his wife has requested that that the toilet be buried in the backyard of their home. However, he plans to add it to a sports memorabilia and cigar smoking room, where it will be placed near a directional sign he also bought at the auction. His major concern, he told The Grid, is what he'll do to keep intoxicated house guests from assuming the historic toilet is connected to any plumbing.


When asked if he was excited about the prospect of sitting on a toilet that had been touched by the backsides of so many famous athletes, he responded to the source with a resolute affirmative. While confirming that he would smoke a cigar and sip on some aged scotch, he declined to answer whether or not he plans to wear pants.

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If an adolescent is fortunate enough to have generous parents, they may enjoy the luxury of his or her own private bathroom. Or, perhaps parents have designated a bathroom for themselves while one or more of their children share a bathroom vanity in a different section of the house. Homeowners who prefer that every room in the house remains attractive and well-kept may wonder how to go about furnishing their teen sons' or daughters' bathrooms, as well as the best ways to keep it tidy while respecting their children's privacy.


Cleanliness hints

This problem won't apply to every parent - many teenagers pay more attention to their personal and environmental hygiene to their elders. Other teens may allow scraps of hair to gather in the shower drain until the thought of using the bathtub feels repulsive, and may reuse the same towels until the towels are so dirty they negate the point of showering to begin with. It's wise to remind young adults to take care of their surroundings, but leading by example can be just as effective. Demonstrate how it can be simple, quick and beneficial to maintain a bathroom and help set your teen on the path toward a respectable lavatory situation.


Decorating for the ever-mercurial adolescent

Some teenagers frequently alter their lifestyle and aesthetic sensibilities - pretty much because teenagers are a notoriously finicky lot. For this reason, the website Freshome advises parents to avoid bathroom decorations that will be tricky to exchange for other accessories. Because they're easy to remove and replace, the website recommends towels and rugs of various hues. Letting teens picks out their own wall hangings and posters might help make them feel at home in their space, but apply the same boundaries for appropriate decorations you would use for their bedrooms. For example, if you don't happen to feel glamour shots of the Jersey Shore cast should be on display in a child's bedroom, the same holds true for the bathroom. 


Home and Garden Television gets a little more specific with their guidance for teen bathroom decor. The television station's website states that teens might be able to appreciate colorful tiles, walls painted with lively colors and eccentrically shaped bathroom vanities and mirrors. If a teen happens to have a "punk rock" disposition, he or she may enjoy a shower curtain adorned with skulls and other imagery associated with popular rock music.

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UK organization recognizes top public bathrooms
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2012

For the past quarter decade, the Loo of the Year Awards (LOTYAs) has honored what the organization calls "away from home" toilets across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the rest of the U.K.. In commemoration of this year's anniversary, the 2012 LOTYAs ceremony will take place at the St. John's Hotel Solihull. Chuckles are scheduled to be provided by funny woman Shappi Khorsandi.


While promoted by the British Toilet Association, the LOTYAs are independently organized and have been implemented to "encourage the highest possible standards in all types of 'away from home' or public toilets," according to the organization's website. Distinctions are granted to outstanding public restrooms in 58 categories, such as public restrooms in a supermarket, coffee shop, night club, water and theme parks, cinemas and bingo halls. But really, any public bathroom can be nominated - a preexisting category doesn't need to have been established.


After a certain bathroom is nominated, a LOTYA official will arrive with no prior warning and judge the facilities on criteria such as decor, hygiene, air quality, security and a handful of other topics.


Emphasizing the importance of quality public restrooms, the LOTYA proclaim that the responsibility for making trips to public restrooms optimal experiences falls to us all.


"Everyone has a shared responsibility to make this happen," write the organizers. "Toilet providers, managers, washroom suppliers, contractors, staff, visitors and customers - all toilet users."


A few 2012 winners revealed by the media

While the official ceremony has yet to take place, a news sources have leaked the identities of some of the winners. A somewhat ironically named pub called the White House at the Thurnby Lodge in Leicester, England received the LOTYA'S platinum rating, according to Northcliffee Media. In addition, the King of Wessex pub in Bathurst, New South Wales received a very respectable gold star rating.


"Staff at the pub work hard to ensure the toilets are in first-class condition at all times," manager Robin Smith told the news source. "It is great that this has been recognised by the inspectors."


In addition, the Swindon Advertiser notes that a pair of pubs in the Southwest England borough - the Dockle Farmhouse and the Sir Daniel Arms - were both bestowed gold star ranks.

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World Toilet Day scheduled for November 19
Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An international coalition of organizations including the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the World Toilet Organization have declared November 19 the semi-official World Toilet Day (WTD).


The day is intended less as a celebration of goings-on related to toilets and more of an awareness campaign. According to the WTD website, approximately 2.5 billion people in the world, most of whom reside in Africa and Asia, do not have regular access to toilets. The organization also notes that diarrhoeal diseases have had catastrophic impacts on many developing countries. Furthermore, from a historical perspective, better sanitation through the implementation of toilets has coincided with better health and productivity in Europe and North America.


The advocacy group encourages others to promote WTD by spreading the word about toilet shortages and the importance of sanitation and hygiene. People can volunteer to host an event or promote the day by wearing WTD stickers. It also couldn't hurt to use social media to spread the good word about WTD.


“Can you imagine not having privacy when you need to relieve yourself? Although unthinkable for those living in wealthy parts of the world, this is a harsh reality for many," said Saskia Castelein, the advocacy and communication officer at the WSSCC. "In fact, one in three people on this globe, does not have access to a toilet. The World Toilet Day Campaign aims to raise awareness, inspire action, and make sanitation and hygiene for all a reality in the 21st century.”


Sanitation expert speaks to Thailand news source

In light of the upcoming World Toilet Day, an English-speaking Thai newspaper spoke with Junya Jarayopas, an infection control expert, who advised readers on how to avoid exposure to germs when using the toilet.


"Wiping out all the germs is an absolutely impossible mission even if you use the world's best toilet cleaner," he told the news source.


While getting rid of every single germ in a bathroom is basically impossible, with good hygiene, like hand washing before and after using the toilet and regular clearing, Jarayopas said most people don't really have much to worry about.

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Toilet theme park exists in South Korea
Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A bird's-eye-view shot on Cnet depicts a giant toilet, situated in the middle of a lush green environment. As much as that image may take a person aback, it's really nothing to freak out over. It's just the Restroom Cultural Park in South Korea.


The massive potty is a monument to the late Sim Jae-Duck, the former mayor of Suwon who - according to sources - dedicated his life to toilets. Legend has it that he was born in his grandmother's.


"Humans tend to do most of their intensive thinking while sitting on a toilet," city representatives muse on the Suwon website, according to the report from Cnet. "As can be seen, restrooms are no longer a place to finish up urgent business and quickly leave. It has evolved into a place where you wash your hands, primp yourself and keep your mind and body neat."


According to the news source, Jae-Duck succumbed to prostate cancer in 2009. Before that, he created the World Toilet Association, penned a book called "Happy to Be With You, Toilet," and built the toilet-shaped mansion which was eventually converted into the Restroom Cultural Park.


A BBC story shows that many bronze statues of people posed in squatting positions are on display around the theme park. In addition, visitors can also enjoy several toilet-themed art displays.


A representative from the Restroom Cultural Park by the name of Lee Youn-Sook, told the BBC that even though most people only want to focus on the eating aspect of digestion, ultimately, we all have to think about the toilet sooner or later. But, as opposed to considering toilets crass, she said our time on the toilet is something all cultures and people have in common.


A Guardian report describes the theme park by stating that it includes a bowl-shaped exhibition hall, and is possibly the first museum or entertainment facility in the world dedicated to defecation and urination. Visitors can see the toilet where Jae-Duck was reputedly born on display, and the luxurious, privacy-minded toilet he used during his living mayoral years. Back in those days, he used his administrative clout to improve restroom facilities for his fellow countrymen. 


According to the news source, South Korea considers Jae-Duck, not Thomas Crapper, the real patron-saint of toilets.

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Remodeling your bathroom can enhance the appearance, comfort and water-efficiency of one of the most important rooms in the house. While it takes a little time and effort, at least you can be grateful that you don't have to change the bathrooms for an entire office building.


An article appearing in the Denver Business Journal noted that bathrooms in office buildings are among the smallest rooms, yet they're vitally important, and a large amount amount of exactitude is needed to ensure bathroom must-haves such as shower panels and bathroom faucets are correctly installed. The news source reported on the problems a construction company had when setting up new bathrooms at the $623 million Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Leaks can be a particular problem for hospital bathrooms, according to the news source.


"There’s a precise slope you need to have in order for the water to draw back into the room, or the shower, rather than going out into the room," Bain Farris, the president and CEO at St. Joseph's, told the Denver Business Journal. "Leaks at home are annoying. Leaks at hospitals cause bugs and infections."


In light of these issues, the Business Journal notes that St. Joseph's hired Eggrock Bathroom Pods, a company near Boston, to install the new bathrooms.


Remodeling trends for around the home

Luckily, remodeling a bathroom in an ordinary household isn't as tricky as redoing the lavatories of a hospital or office building. Reporting on the hottest current trends in the world of bathroom remodeling, MSN reports that big showers, extra lights, steam baths, improved ventilation systems, putting walls around the toilet and including entertainment devices such as televisions and small refrigerators are currently all the rage. Multiple bathroom vanities - so two members of the household can both enjoy their own personal storage space and mirror - are also growing in visibility.


"People want luxury in their bathrooms," Barb Friedman, the president of an Oregon-based remodeling firm, told MSN. "They want to feel like they're going into a spa."


The news source also reports that steam baths have become more popular in recent years, in light of how being completely surrounded by steam can reduce stress. These devices are often capped off by a sloped ceiling designed to reduce condensation, a floor drain, a vapor-tight door and a seat, so people can enjoy their steam without having to stand up the entire time.

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Decorate your bathroom like a celebrity
Posted on Friday, November 9, 2012

Say what you will about trying to emulate famous people, but really, we'd all like to be a little bit more like our favorite celebrities. Perhaps mimicking their chosen style of bathroom decor isn't the first attribute that jumps to mind when it comes to living more like a favorite actor or musician, but it certainly doesn't seem like a bad place to start.


What they certainly wouldn't have in mind is the bathroom George Clooney used during a humanitarian outreach trip to Chad. In an interview with MSNBC Dateline, Clooney pointed to a shabby toilet, which could only flush if a bucket of water was poured into the tank. In addition, the shower consisted of a nearby hose. Needless to say, these were not the luxurious accommodations the Ocean's Eleven star has grown accustomed to.


So, maybe Clooney's not the best famous person to look toward when seeking good bathroom decor advice. However, Elle Decor has provided an insiders perspective into more glamorous celebrity bathrooms - including the cast concrete bathtub and stone styles placed in the bathroom of Transformers director Michael Bay's mansion in Miami. Meanwhile, Meg Ryan of Sleepless in Seattle fame has shown an affinity for antique bathroom furniture, while Friends star Courtney Cox has arranged a white oak bathtub, custom pendant lights, and an upholstered velvet chair and ottoman, according to the magazine.


Some celebrity bathrooms don't exactly appear as fancy as one might expect. For example, Elle's picture of the bathroom at Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker's Hampton estate relies on a consistent but simple theme of blue shower curtains, cupboards and floor tiles. A pair of sinks are separated by the cupboards, making the feel of the room a bit retro. Possibly because, as a touring musician, he's used to hotel bathrooms, John Mayer's master bathroom does resemble the provisional yet classy element of a high-end hotel bathroom, with Carrara-marble tub tiles and Armani/Casa towels. Million Dollar Baby heroine Hilary Swank, on the other hand, had million dollar ideas for the ambiance of her bathroom, which Elle reports includes travertine walls and floors, plus a walk-in shower that doubles as a wall-sized mirror.

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Making your bathroom environmentally friendly
Posted on Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some people pay special attention to things they can do around the house that may help preserve the planet. Recycling paper, plastic cans and aluminum bottles makes a good start. But there are also plenty of ways to turn your bathroom greener in the environmental sense.


On Oprah Winfrey's official website, tips for reducing your bathroom's carbon footprint include using recycled toilet paper and making sure the toilet lid is closed before flushing in order to avoid spreading bacteria all over the room - which would mean extra cleaning. Apart from toilet paper, no cleaning tools used for bathroom maintenance need to be disposable, so rags and cloth towels are preferable to paper towels. Nontoxic, certified green cleaning liquids are also recommended, especially if the companies provide refillable containers.


You'd be amazed at the amount of water you can save by taking very minor steps. According to Oprah, six gallons of water a day can be saved by simply turning the water faucet in the sink off while brushing your teeth. In addition, men who shave each morning should have as much rinsing liquid as they need with a plugged sink half-filled with water.


Oprah also provides an interesting bit of advice when it comes to soaps and cleaning fluids. If a product is difficult to say three times fast, the website says, it should be avoided. For example, "antibacterial" products may contain endocrine disruptors, which could potentially harm your skin and aquatic wildlife once the chemicals reenter the water supply.


In addition to conservation techniques and earth-friendly products, the Mother Nature Network encourages installing ceramic tile on the bathroom floor and walls. The substance is resistant to moisture damage and is thought to be environmentally-friendly.


The online information provider also mentions that purchasing a new, more efficient toilet might be a good way to cut down on the amount of water used during every flush. Low-flow toilets can help with water conservation, but a broken, leaky toilet will probably be wasting water, especially if it's an out-of-date model.. According to the Saving Water Partnership, up to five gallons can be used during every flush of a toilet sold before 1994. Newer toilets, the organization says, use less than two gallons per flush and could save a household as much as $125 per year when they replace an old toilet.

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Bathroom tips for a bachelor pad
Posted on Wednesday, November 7, 2012

While this generalization certainly doesn't apply to single men with the sensibility to maintain their living quarters, some bachelor pad bathrooms are not very well kept. Especially when younger men are sharing an apartment, it's not unheard of for tiles, bathtubs, bathroom vanities and toilets to be covered in grime, mildew and hair, trash cans to overflow and a constant lack of toilet paper, because the roommates were all either too broke or lazy to go to the grocery store.


Needless to say, many women will run screaming upon the sight of such conditions. To help its readers avoid such a scenario, British style magazine AskMen published some hints, so young males can keep their ladies from fleeing in terror and, as an added plus, have nice bathrooms.


The information site notes that the bathroom often receives the least maintenance out of any room in the house and is also the quickest to start looking filthy. But there's more to making a bathroom tidy than simply scrubbing. For example, washing and sometimes replacing the bath mat and shower curtain could add some crispness to the environment. It also helps to look behind and underneath counters and tubs for discarded, empty shampoo and body wash bottles.


The major problem when it comes to keeping a bathroom tidy is it can take a deceptively long time, but only if regular cleanings are put off for too long. Instead of letting the gunk build up for weeks until you have to spend an entire afternoon scrubbing and washing, consider spending about 10 minutes a day swabbing up a certain part of the bathroom. Especially if the floors are tiled, sweeping a bathroom floor can be a quick way to create a cleaner atmosphere. You may need to let cleaner sit in a toilet bowl for a bit, but scrubbing a toilet shouldn't take much more than 10 minutes, depending on the last time it was cleaned.


But those are really just the basics of having an optimal bathroom. Bachelors looking to impress women, or who just want to become classier could invest in some modern bathroom decor if their circumstances allow them to do so.

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Enhancing the atmosphere of your bathroom
Posted on Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Going out for dinner means you don't need to cook in the kitchen. If you wanted, you could sleep on the sofa and avoid using the bedroom. But there's no way around having to use your bathroom at least once a day. So, doesn't it make sense to ensure you'll always enjoy the experience as much as possible?


One major downside to many people's bathrooms is the clutter of toiletries that can amass around a sink. Even a frequently cleaned sink can look messy if there's no organized spot for combs, bottles of hand soap, toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste and other grooming necessities. In a recent advisory article, GateHouse News Service said that instead of keeping toiletries on counters, people should stash them underneath their bathroom vanity or on shelves.


It's also important to remember that just because a bathroom is small or could use a fresh coat of paint or new tiles, it doesn't mean it isn't worth adding some sunny ambiance to the lavatory. Some people have gone the route of hanging humorous posters or postcards on the walls. A favorite comic strip from a newspaper, or even a proverb from a fortune cookie could serve as a special decoration for the bathroom mirror. State Journal-Register recommends an embroidered or textured shower curtain - or color coordinating the mats on the floor as well as the towels hanging on the rack.


Lastly, let us look at a little discussed but crucial element to any excellent bathroom experience - having worthwhile reading material on hand. Magazines are generally the preferred type of literature to keep nearby the toilet.


Although there are some sanitation concerns that come along with leaving a stack of magazines next to the toilet, the director of the clinical microbiology services at Columbia University Medical Center told Fox News that people who regularly wash their hands don't need to be worried about spreading bacteria.


"Let’s say you pick up a magazine and you’re reading it for a while - your hands are clean, if they were clean before you got on the toilet,” she told the news source. “You’re not going to be transferring much bacteria to your hands if you wash your hands afterward."

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Much was reported about the several days citizens of New York City spent without electricity following the onslaught of the tropical cyclone known as Hurricane Sandy. But the storm also knocked out the Big Apple's plumbing infrastructure, and left many areas without running water.


NBC news reported that emergency water stored in bathtubs and bottles by New Yorkers anticipating a damaged infrastructure should still be safe to use for days, according to experts.


Martin Makary, a gastrointestinal specialist from Johns Hopkins University, told the news provider that as long as it hasn't come into contact with sewage, water doesn't necessarily need to be sterilized to be safe to drink.


However, as many water pipes ceased to function during the storm, some citizens had to rely on their emergency water to make their toilets flush. Brett Sherman, a West Village resident, told NBC that she was only able to keep her toilet flushing with water she had set aside in her bathtub.


"A lot of the toilets in buildings like that don't have tanks," she said to the news source. "You can just take a bucket of water and pour it in and it flushes. We discovered that. But can you imagine that going on in hundreds of buildings?"


One could make a case that, in this way, remodeling your bathroom with a larger bathtub might be a good idea if water ever needs to be stored up in the case of a blackout and water failure And the extra space for a luxurious soak in a nice bonus too.


Long hours for NYC plumbers

Meanwhile, a report from the Washington Post states that some plumbers based in New York City have been putting 16 hour shifts into hurricane recovery efforts. Some plumbers the news source spoke with said they've gone through three pairs of boots since the natural disaster occurred.


A few others told the Post that all the extra business has been a silver-lining around the catastrophe.


"Our business is up probably 30 or 40 percent," Moe Haislip of the John C. Flood plumbing and electrician company, told the news source. "Our regular customers are calling to make sure their equipment is working properly, and then there are a ton of new customers calling with emergencies or needing repairs. We’re staying busy around the clock."

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Student protests dorm bathrooms
Posted on Friday, November 2, 2012

Although some college students are provided luxury dorm apartments with private bathrooms where they can lounge in the bathtub or use the toilet in peace and privacy, others are not so lucky.


One unfortunate soul who must share a bathroom with an entire floor's worth of co-eds is Jackie Hendry of the University of South Dakota. In the Volante, the student-run newspaper, she recounted some of her ghastly experiences in the facilities.


"Imagine stepping into the only shower stall with enough water pressure to actually rinse the shampoo off your scalp, only to discover that you are surrounded by horrors on all sides," she wrote in her op-ed. "You look down in dread, and see what at first glance looks like a dead mouse. It is, in fact, much worse: a hideously large clump of scum and wet hair from an untold number of the stall’s previous victims."


However, having grown up as an only child, Hendry admits that some of her revulsion relates to not being used to sharing a bathroom with anyone at all, much less more than a dozen other college students. That doesn't mean her disgust isn't justified or hasn't been expressed by others, though.


Tips to survive communal dorm bathrooms

Hendy is by no means the first college student to be horrified by the conditions of her dorm bathroom. Other current and former college students have taken to the internet to provide guidance, to help navigate the sometimes disgusting terrain.


Although floors in dorm bathrooms are typically cleaned daily, the humor site Campus Basement implores those who shower in a dorm bathroom to wear flip flops or another type of waterproof footwear to protect against bacteria. It is also noted that the cleaning staff will almost always be at work when a shower is needed, so it's best to count on bathing either very early in the morning, very late at night or immediately after the bathroom cleaning has been completed if your timing is good enough.


Although, for many situations where access to a bathroom is necessary, students might be better off finding a different location.


"It’s best to just learn to love living in your own filth, and use the bathroom as infrequently as possible.You’ll be much happier that way," wrote the College Basement guide's author, named Kevin Slack.

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Some tips for improving the ambiance of bathrooms
Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2012

When heading to the bathroom to wash up, or perhaps read a magazine for 10 or 15 minutes, everyone prefers to be in a pleasant looking environment. Some people might assume that updating one of the most important rooms in the house has to be a huge drain on time and money, but this is not necessarily so.


An ABC affiliate based in San Antonio, Texas, KSAT, recently reported on some specific aspects of bathroom decor that people might want to think about when refurbishing their bathrooms. In addition to putting some time into polishing the existing grout and bathtub, the news provider states that simply installing new bathroom faucets could make the rest of the room feel newer. KSAT's recommended styles include brushed nickel, chrome, oil-rubbed bronze and steel.


The station also explains why having a toilet with a modern design can impact the rest of the room for the better - especially if your toilet is so outdated that it's starting to leak or malfunction in some other way. Sometimes, getting a new toilet is less expensive than hiring a plumber to resolve an existing toilet problem, however KSAT encourages people to hire someone who knows what they're doing when it comes to the toilet installation process.


Mobile technology and bathroom decor

If individuals feel they need more help or guidance redesigning their bathrooms, they should know, as Apple has famously stated, "There's an app for that."


Business2Community compiled a review of its favorite mobile applications dedicated to home improvement. Home Design 3D helps users map out a room's dimensions and figure out how furniture can be rearranged in order to create a blueprint.


"It's a great way for the indecisive bathroom renovators among us to try out different plumbing fixtures before they make a commitment," wrote blogger Lucy Clark on Business2Community.


The news provider goes on to point to Bubble Level, which turns a smartphone into a bubble leveling device. There's also HandyMan DIY, an information resource for homeowners looking to embark on renovation projects on their own, and the ID Wood app. The latter is said to feature an extensive amount of information of different styles of wood, so homeowners can decide which they prefer for a new cabinet or other type of wooden furniture.

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