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Opinion writers weigh in on smart toilets
Posted on Monday, December 31, 2012

Some people were certainly excited by news that Lixil - a Japanese company that describes itself as a "link to good living" - had produced a series of toilets with futuristic features that integrate with smartphones. These products are expected to hit the international market in February. However, an opinion writer from the Indonesian newspaper The Jakarta Post found Lixil's Satis toilets to be a prime subject for mockery. Specifically, he took issue with the Satis' ability to "talk" with users.


"I don’t know about you, but I greatly prefer answering the call of nature in non-intelligent items," wrote Nury Vittachi. "A receptacle of utter brainlessness, dumb as a typical YouTube comment-writer, would be ideal. There are times in life when witty commentary is not required."


Most likely in the spirit of sarcasm, Vittachi went on to say the best parts of the Satis toilets would only benefit the whims of "deeply evil people." For instance, commenting on how the Satis lets users keep a digital diary detailing their toilet use, he said that function would be useful for posting unpleasant updates on social networking sites. Furthermore, a Satis' voice functions could be reprogramed to make accusatory, pained exclamations at the user.


CNET blogger Amanda Kooser thought of similar mischievous tricks one could pull if they had control of a Satis, although hers weren't quite as crass. She noted that a user could use remote control of their toilet to surprise unsuspecting users with the bidet, or make them think the bathroom was haunted by moving the seat and flushing from a distance.


Meanwhile, Popular Science writer Dan Nosowitz offered a sunnier perspective on the Satis - which links to Android phones via Bluetooth. He wrote that, someday, he expects virtually every component of daily life to be controlled via mobile devices. He was particularly impressed by how the Satis raises its seat and flushes with a tap on a smartphone's touchscreen and includes a stereo so you can listen to your favorite hit song while you do your business.


However, some people might find the Satis's current price tag a bit out of their range. Rocket News 24 reports that this "Cadillac of toilets" goes for 380,000 yen - or, the equivalent of more than $4,500.

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The writing's on the (bathroom) wall
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012

Scribbling humorous messages on the walls of public bathrooms is a time-honored, worldwide tradition. While some people abuse this custom and write shocking, obscene messages that are often unfunny or mean-spirited, it's not unheard of to catch a glimpse of a genuinely amusing limerick.


While we certainly don't encourage readers to use public toilet stalls as their own personal billboards - that makes life more difficult for already hard-working custodians - news sources have collected some of their favorite bits of graffiti.


msnNOW on bathroom wall poetry

"Since writing on toilet walls is done neither for critical acclaim, nor financial rewards, it is the purest form of art - discuss," reads one especially thoughtful bathroom wall message highlighted by msnNOW. The source explains that while professional advertisers spend countless hours trying to think of ways to make their advertisements stick out in viewers' minds, bathroom wall scribblings are sometimes the most memorable sites we'll see during the course of an average day.


Another example MSN points to is a haiku about waking up in the morning, which is simply the word "no" repeated 18 times. At another bathroom that lacked a mirror above the sink, someone wrote in large black letters, "YOU LOOK FINE." Other bathroom wall messages have multiple writers correcting each other's grammar, while possibly the most direct thing written on a bathroom wall noted by MSN simply reads, "I wrote on this wall. Take THAT society!"


Bathroom graffiti goes to the next level

Many people may not realize that entire websites are dedicated to collecting pictures of the funniest bathroom wall ramblings they can find. While some favorites of FromTheBathroomWall.com are somewhat crass, others are quite witty.


"Satin Rulez!" wrote one genius, around a pentagram star sometimes linked with Satanism. "Well...It's a nice fabric and all, but I don't know if it rules..." responded another passerby. On a different wall, someone wrote a seemingly complex algebra equation. Next to it appears the clearly frustrated retort, "I was told there would be no math!"


But, ironically, the most important lesson readers should take away from this examination of bathroom wall graffiti shows up a ways down the FromTheBathroomWall website. Some presumably well-intended person wrote "WWJD" - meaning What Would Jesus Do. Later, someone wisely noted, beside the abbreviation, "He wouldn't vandalize bathroom walls."

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Leaky sinks and stylish sinks
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ever wonder why it's oftentimes difficult to stop your bathroom faucets - specifically in your sink - from leaking? The Boston Globe's "Handyman on Call" advice column recently answered a question from a reader addressing this exact subject.


Reader Larry Onie asked why his antique-style sink and wall piping occasionally leak, but not always at the same time. He also wondered if the peeling paint on his bathroom walls could in any way be connected to the issue. Expert Peter Hotton suggested that the problem may be related to the drain, not the source of water, and uprooting the pipes probably wouldn't be necessary.


As for the paint, Hotton agreed with Onie's plumber that installing a skim-coated Blueboard ceiling may be the solution.


Stylish bathroom sink ideas

While some people tend to underrate the value of sinks when it comes to bathroom decor, one should never underestimate how much your sink can add to the aesthetic value of your bathroom. Houzz.com provides several example of classy modern and antique approaches to sinks.


Sinks with somewhat oversized circular basins can create different vibes for your bathroom, depending on the style you choose. For some examples, Houzz points to a bathroom decorated with European and Asian customs in mind. The sink itself enhances the cultured, international flair and is elevated over the vanity counter, with one large faucet hanging over its left. Meanwhile, a large, metallic ovular sink in the source's "Village Apartment NYC" bathroom adds some retro-futuristic, minimalist charm to a knowingly kitschy bathroom arrangement. Meanwhile, the "His Bathroom" displayed by the web source turns down the kitsch and turns up the minimalism with a small, white porcelain sink with a deep bowl, perfect for shaving.


Larger sinks: hardly utilitarian, certainly not uncool

You don't normally think of a bathroom sink as "quirky," but a huge white and off-green sink with a pair of faucets adds some tastefully zany appeal to the "Washington Street Remodel" bathroom on Houzz.com Part of a San Francisco home, in a small way, the sink certainly adds to that city's bohemian reputation.


Other interesting sink ideas come in the form of long rectangular sinks, which could be great for anyone who's bathroom has plenty of extra space for expansive decor. Or there's the "Poured Concrete Sink" featured by the source, which is almost long enough to resemble a bathtub, and could be perfect for anyone looking to recreate the atmosphere of a spa in their personal bathroom.

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Ways to feel like royalty in your home bathroom
Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Just because you're not a movie star or a wealthy aristocrat doesn't mean there's no way to share similar experiences in the bathroom. Perhaps you can't, at the moment, afford an opulent modern bathroom vanity or a spa-like tub installation, but here are some thoughts on how to pamper yourself without draining your bank account.


Luxury soap

Typical store-bought soap might be able to get you clean, but as it fails to provide much of a sensory rush, generic soap can leave your morning shower feeling a little bit routine. Meanwhile, there are many types of luxury soap that may make you extra-excited to wake up in the morning. WiseGeek explains that luxury soap adds to the bathing experience by merely generating more lather or a particular scent. For those looking to add some pep to their morning regimen, the source points to the energy- and alertness-enhancing effects provided by some citrus-based luxury soaps. There's also organic soap out there for those with allergies to chemicals sometimes found in synthetic cleaning products, and seaweed soap is said to act as a natural preventive treatment for acne.


Towel heaters

Speaking of morning showers, it's a damper on many people's mornings when, after a hearty cleaning, they walk out of the shower and are immediately chilled-to-the-bone. PlumbingSupply.com notes that some towel heaters run on electricity, but no more than the average light bulb. If keeping an electrical appliance in your bathroom strikes you as a potential safety risk, there are also hydronic towel warmers available. These run on the hot water already flowing through the pipes of your bathroom. 


Toilet paper holders

What's interesting about toilet paper holders is that they might be the simplest bathroom accessory of them all to recreate according to your own imagination. The Old House provides instructions for readers aiming to make a "Twig-style" holders from wooden dowels available at many hardware stores for about $1. Those proficient in metal work may be able to construct all kinds of homemade metallic toilet paper holders with the same quality and designs offered by luxury outlets.


However, some bathroom accessories go a bit over-the-top when it comes to luxury. For instance, The Consumerist reported on U.K.-manufactured "Cashmere" purple bathroom tissue. This toilet paper was advertised as a "little luxury," but the source found it, apart from its purple coloring, indistinguishable from ordinary toilet paper. A report from the Telegraph notes that Cashmere toilet paper doesn't literally contain cashmere but oil found on cashmere goat hairs.

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Decorating your bathroom for Christmas time
Posted on Monday, December 24, 2012

Some individuals can't get enough of the Christmas spirit. If you're one of these, you've probably adorned the Christmas tree in your living room, streamed tinsel around your hallways and decked the outside of the house in an elaborate lights display. But if you've already decorated most of your house to match your holiday glee, you might be asking yourself: "How should I Christmas-ize my bathroom?"


Wreaths

This may seem a bit obvious, but the mirror above your bathroom vanity could make an excellent location for a Christmas wreath. The Learning Channel (TLC) website includes this simple idea on its list of top bathroom decor ideas for Christmas time, along with ideas like placing a tiny scented holiday tree or poinsettia plant on the sink counter.


Christmas shower curtains and washcloths

Some people might second-guess the practicality of setting up a shower curtain or buying a bunch of Christmas-themed washcloths, when they'll only be seasonally appropriate for about a month-and-a-half each year. But, as TLC points out, designs for washcloths and shower curtains don't have to be overtly Christmasy. Red, green and white washcloths make sense all year. For that matter, who's to say some people wouldn't prefer to make some of their Christmas decorations permanent fixtures in their home?


Temporary garnishes

Those throwing a Christmas party might be interested in quick ways to give their bathrooms some yuletide cheer. StyleSheve.com offers suggestions that range from buying Santa-themed toilet seat covers to bathroom carpets meant to resemble Santa's signature red outfit. But the website also provides more down-to-earth ideas, like placing pine boughs and Christmas tree lights on the bathroom shelves.


Transplanting Christmas decorations

You could even consider using decorations designed for other parts of the home in your bathroom. Many people are left with at least a handful of ornaments that wouldn't fit on their Christmas tree. Perhaps stringing those up along the edges of the bathroom mirror could quickly and simply add a festive touch to the ambiance of your bathroom. Even something as small as a snow globe or, as StyleSheve mentions, a snowman-themed light could have similar effects.

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This week in toilet news
Posted on Friday, December 21, 2012

It's been a comparatively eventful week in the world of portable toilets. Here are the three biggest port-o-john news stories that emerged from across the the U.S. 


Portable toilets pilfered

A trio of presumptive master criminals - a 36-year-old, and two brothers of the ages of 21 and 19 - have been arrested in Chenango County, Connecticut on third-degree grand larceny charges for the theft of four portable toilets.


According to ABC affiliate News Channel 9, the stolen commodes are worth $3,000 total.


The news source does not mention if the alleged criminals planned to sell the toilets, or who would want to buy them.


Spokane provides toilets for homeless residents

Meanwhile, on the other side of the U.S., city officials in Spokane, Wash., have installed three Honey Bucket portable toilets in their downtown area. Members of the city's homeless population will have a private place to relieve themselves.


According to the TV station KREM, this was done following complaints from nearby businesses that homeless people were "going" on buildings, or basically wherever they felt like nearby 4th Avenue, under the I-90 highway.


Homeless people who spoke to the news source said they plan to make use of the new toilets, but question whether or not three toilets are enough to cover the needs of every nearby homeless person.


Florida eighth graders not thrilled with emergency toilets

In the event of a weather disaster that would force students to remain inside their classrooms for extended periods of time, emergency toilets have been implemented in the Pasco County school district in Florida.


The Tampa Bay Times describes these as white plastic buckets with seats, although they come equipped with toilet paper, hand wipes, bag and latex gloves, so at least users will be able to clean up afterwards. Nearly 2,250 have been distributed throughout the district, with another 552 waiting in a warehouse to be doled out.


Some students who spoke to the news source said they thought these toilets might be a practical idea. Others were too grossed out to consider the possibility of relieving themselves in the presence of their classmates.


"It's a terrible idea," 14-year-old Justin Anahory told the news source. "No, I'm not going to use it."


"Never. Unh-uh. I would just hold it" said Sydney Steele.

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Update your bathroom for the future
Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2012

With new innovations in modern technology popping up with perpetual frequency, why let your bathroom remain trapped in the past?


It's not a stretch to say that someday in the not-too-distant future, you'll be able to check your email via on your modern bathroom vanity while it brushes your teeth for you. Until then, here are some futuristic ideas of accessories and items you can add to your bathroom.


Speaker showerhead

Based on findings that the majority of smartphone-wielding Americans bring their portable devices into the bathroom with them, one bathroom accessory company has created a showerhead that doubles as a bluetooth-operated wireless speaker, according to the San Francisco Gate. The device syncs up with music on a smartphone, and operates on batteries. That sounds like a worthwhile purchase for those with an affinity for singing in the shower - especially if they own a waterproof smartphone.


TV vanity mirror

Meanwhile, PC World compiled a list of bathroom accessories its writers found interesting. At the top of the list, there's the Eclipse Television Mirror. When it's off, it's invisible. Once it's switched on, the two-way mirror operates like any other TV...Except that it appears to be floating in your mirror. This could be a tremendous invention for those who don't like shaving their beards without simultaneously watching cartoons.


TV bathtub

This one seems a little more obvious, but no-less technologically advanced. PC World reports that Saturn Bath Company in Korea has begun manufacturing a waterproof bathtub/television set combination. It might not seem practical to catch up on your favorite shows while you're brushing your teeth. However, during an hour or more of relaxing in the tub filled with bubble bath, why wouldn't you want to watch a favorite movie without having to fear electrocution?


A bidet

Bidets aren't exactly "futuristic" by themselves - they've existed for hundreds of years. However, some come equipped with remote controls, and  many believe it's only a matter of time before they gain widespread popularity in America, just as they have in Europe. Wouldn't you want to be a ahead of the curve?


SmartFaucet

Um, remember a few paragraphs ago when we said you wouldn't be able to check your e-mail on your bathroom vanity until the future? Our mistake. Turns out, the already-existing SmartFaucet from iHouse allows you to do exactly that. PC World says it also changes the flow and temperature of water to your personal tastes via facial recognition technology.

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The strange bathroom adventures of celebrities
Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the set of the upcoming horror satire Scary Movie 5, a clogged toilet in the trailer of famously beleaguered actress Lindsay Lohan caused the plumbing to shut down across the set, according to a report from Wetpaint Entertainment. In addition, page 6 quotes an anonymous source who claims that Lohan flooded her trailer by running the shower nonstop.


"Lindsay clogged the toilet in her own trailer while she was there,” another unnamed source told Wetpaint Entertainment. “And because the toilets in the other trailers ran on the same connected system, the others stopped working, too. No one could go to the bathroom."


According to the New York Post's write-up of the incident, Lohan was uncomfortable with the script - which called for her to play herself in a self-parodying, amorous bedroom scene with former Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen.


Lohan and Sheen have both received quite a bit of media attention for the sometimes bizarre events of their personal lives. Lohan has experienced well-documented legal and financial problems. Meanwhile, after he was fired from the Two and a Half Men in 2011, Sheen became infamous for flaunting a decadent lifestyle and implying that "tiger blood" flowed through his veins. He also yelled "winning!" a lot. 


Off-beat bathroom decor ideas from celebrities

There's a chance you don't feel inclinded to emulate many of the choices Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan make - but Complex.com has collected eccentric, neat ideas other celebrities have used to spruce up their bathrooms.


(In fairness to Lohan and Sheen, their bathrooms aren't included in Complex's list, so there's no way for us to judge their taste in bathroom decor. For all we know, it's impeccable.)


A multi-colored bathtub with a tile scheme that resembles a disco ball could seem garish in the home of almost anyone - except for the mansion of Beyonce and Jay-Z, where it fits right in. Kanye West set up a stylish fish tank beside his bathtub, while music mogul Russell Simmons has a solid gold toilet installed in his lavatory.


But the most overtly "novel" bathrooms noted by the source belong the Osbourne Family - which has an unrelenting pink motif - and Mariah Carey, whose bathroom features a Hello Kitty theme uncharacteristic of most 42-year-olds.

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A brief history of the toilet
Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One of the most taken-for-granted inventions in the history of human existence, the earliest designs for what became the modern toilet appeared in 1596, according to a historical summary compiled by Victoria Plumb. The source explains that it was Sir John Harrington - not plumber and entrepreneur Thomas Crapper, as many people erroneously assume - who first conceived of a non-flushing water closet that failed to become ubiquitous among British society at the time. The sewer system had yet to be invented, so Harrington's innovation was mainly a more luxurious version of the same backyard outhouses most people used.


According to the official historical website of Thomas Crapper, Harrington's invention was called the "Ajax" and had a bowl and a seat similar to modern toilets. Thomas Crapper, however, did register nine patents related to improvements to the old water closet idea during his lifetime.


However, several other inventors contributed to the toilets over time. For example, Discovery tells us that the S-shaped water-piping that connects toilets to the outdoors was the creation of Alexander Cummings. Meanwhile, flushing devices were the brainchild of Joseph Bramah, and an efficient siphoning system was patented by Joseph Adamson.


As the legend goes, Crapper Brass & Co. water closets had become very popular in England during World War I. When American soldiers joined the battle, they began referring to toilets by their brand name. Hence, Thomas Crapper's legacy became rooted in toilet-related slang terms.


Indoor bathrooms become all the rage in the roarin' 1920s

Early water closets were portable - meaning those who could afford them sometimes placed them in a dressing room specifically set aside to relieve themselves - but there wasn't any reason why the wealthy couldn't set their water closets up anywhere they felt like, according to Victoria Plumb. But as indoor plumbing grew into favor in the late 1800s, it only took about 20 years for indoor bathrooms to become mandatory in American building codes.


Strangely enough, the concept of a systems of pipes and aqueducts wasn't anything new around the time indoor toilets become en vogue. One of the first known people to apply a city-wide water distribution system were the ancient Romans. PBS points out that the cleanliness immediately noticed by visitors to Roman cities would not have been possible without their then-inventive methods of irrigation and distribution.

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Smartphone-controlled toilet debuts in Japan
Posted on Monday, December 17, 2012

In the land of The Rising Sun - where a motorcycle toilet and a toilet that doubles as a master soccer goalie have been unleashed on an unsuspecting population - a new commode with special features that are remotely controllable via smartphone has been announced by the company Lixil.


According to GeekOSystem, these Satis toilets will be available for sale in spring and will be able to play music and flush with the touch of a button on users' Android phones or Bluetooths. People will also be able to open and shut the toilet's lip and keep a "toilet dairy" that will monitor the frequency and style of toilet use. Then, based on this information, you can calculate the expected portion of your monthly water and electricity bill attributed to what's been happening on the commode.


"Hopefully this will catch on in America," commented GeekOSystem writer Glen Tickle. "Or at the very least, someone please invent a way for me to flush public toilets with my phone instead of having to do that thing where you push the handle down with your foot."


Japan is the Land of Toilet Innovation

For some mystical reason, Japan has pushed the envelope for futuristic toilet technology like no other nation. Many of the most bizarre sci-fi-style toilets have been manufactured by the company TOTO. The minds behind the popular Washlet toilets - which feature heated seats, courtesy noises, and other practical features - also created a motorcycle that runs on, according to TOTO's official website, livestock waste and household wastewater instead of gasoline. Because TOTO designed the seat of the Toilet Bike Neo to resemble a toilet in order to make a statement on environmental conservation, some have mistakenly assumed the bike runs on human waste. Not unlike TOTO's soccer goalie toilet, the Toilet Bike Neo does not actually function as an ordinary toilet.


Contrary to what you might first assume, the thinking behind the "Toilet Bike Neo Project" isn't based entirely in novelty or sheer ridiculousness. According to the news provider Tofugu, these motorcycle toilets were designed to save fuel in light of 2011 earthquakes and tsunamis that led to the deactivation of many Japanese power plants. TOTO johns from the The Toilet Bike Neo Project may also include eco-friendly LED lights and, more mysteriously, the ability to talk.

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A survey of 2,000 residents of the United Kingdom shows that more people in that nation are concerned with making their bathrooms environmentally sound than researchers expected.


A follow-up report from General Idea explains that while less than 5 percent of study participants cited limiting water use and recycling as top priorities when it came to their homes' utilities, it's still a higher percentage than were worried about the financial equity of their home. Even fewer respondents said they were worried about whether they could move into a more affordable home. In light of the U.K. economic crisis, General Idea stated that the prevalence of environmentally-based anxiety is significant.


Contrary to some stereotypes about how seniors think about "green" issues, 52 percent of study participants over the age of 55 stated that their homes' carbon footprints were a major concern.


More ideas for making your bathroom greener

These people and others may want to look at tips provided by Mother Nature Network (MNN) and others on how they can change their bathrooms to save water, wood pulp and other natural resources.


The source says conserving water may be the easiest, most straightforward thing an aspiring eco-friendly bathroom user can do. For starters, turning off the bathroom faucet while teeth are being brushed will conserve 240 gallons of water a month. In what may be troubling news for people who like to take long, luxurious baths, MNN states that showers use less than 15 percent of the water that generally goes down the drain at the end of a bath.


However, if you can't live without the occasional bubble bath - and, really, who can? - you might be able to make up the difference by installing an Environmental Protection Agency-approved low-flow toilet. The Learning Channel goes a few steps further, encouraging readers to implement low-flow shower heads and limit time spent in the shower to less than 10 minutes.


In addition, MNN recommends purchasing environmentally friendly soap for individuals with strong enough immune systems to handle exposure to a little bit of additional bacteria. The source goes on to explain that synthetic materials present in some inorganic soaps may be detrimental to safe sewage management.

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Bathroom news from across the nation
Posted on Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's amazing how often bathrooms and related bathroom accessories show up in the news. Here's a summary of the most zany stories that have popped up on news junkies' radars within the past few days.


Restaurant owner extracts revenge on Yelpers via bathroom tapes

Meanwhile, adding some hyperbolic and humorous ambiance to public commodes, a San Diego restaurant has begun broadcasting spoken recordings of Yelp reviews in its bathrooms. Craft and Commerce co-owner Arasalum Tafazoli told the news source Eater.com that despite the negative tones of some reviews of his restaurant that popped up on the user-generated content site Yelp.com, he and members of his management team enjoyed reading these diatribes aloud.


They appreciated "the Shakespearean qualities of some of these reviews," he told the source. He also observed that some reviews contained "such a level of melodrama."


Those washing their hands at the bathroom vanity at Craft and Commerce will be able to hear a recording of someone reading the words of a Yelp user such as "Amy M." recounting an experience at the eatery.


"Biscuits were, IMO, teeny weeny!" the voice says, according to Eater. "We couldn't have used all the dipping sauces on them if we used them as spoons! What's the deal guys?"


Toilet paper becomes pop art

Meanwhile, according to the Times-Picayune, a pair of New Orleans avant-garde artists constructed an assembly line where project participants constructed fake toilet paper rolls out of cardboard. Cardboard makeups of various household items - including laundry detergent bottles and sacks of cat litter - were also on display.


The news source explained that the performance at the May Gallery may have been intended as a commentary of corporate greed, consumerism, labor exploitation and waste. A Times-Picayune critic who was present at the display had difficulty making clear sense of the intended symbolism.


Public bathrooms in Wisconsin plagued by thefts

A so-called "Backpack Bathroom Bandit" has been pillaging automatic flush valves from public bathrooms in Wisconsin, according to NBC affiliate TMJ 4.


The news source reports that detectives throughout the southeast region of America's Dairyland have been getting calls about stolen motion detection valves since late September. The news source spoke with an Arby's regional manager, whose restaurants have been hit particularly hard.


"At first I thought it was a prank but when he hit another store we knew something going on here," Eric Peterson told the news source.


The police said that, in total, $30,000 worth of valves have been stolen from restaurants and community colleges.

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Keeping the bathroom pleasant for houseguests
Posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When you've got friends or relatives staying in your home for any period of time, you'd probably prefer that they have an enjoyable experience using the guest bathroom. Steuben Courier points out that many individuals find themselves in this position during the holiday season, when older or far-flung kin may be stopping by for a few days or more. Here's some guidance from the pros to make your guests feel so welcome, they'll later want to move in.


Make sure your bathroom sparkles

This is harder than it sounds - it's easy to see why you should clean the toilet and the surface of the sink and empty any garbage containers. But it's also more than worthwhile to scrub the tub and try to clean out any grime that's gathered between tiles. Bathroom cleaning supplies should be available at many supermarkets and hardware stores. Furthermore, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that if there's any minor blemishes in your bathroom - a cracked tile or a malfunctioning door lock, let's say - the arrival of a guest may be a good excuse to boot those jobs up your list of priorities.


Think ahead for your guest

Home and Gardens Television (HGTV) hit the nail on the head when it advised readers to fill guests' bathroom vanity with amenities they may have neglected to bring along. Small soaps, toothpaste, a toothbrush and shaving supplies could spare your guests the hassle of trying to find an open drug store in a potentially strange town. It's also good practice, if not simply polite, to provide clean bath towels for your visitors. It might not be totally necessary, but HGTV recommends buying a whole new set of towels and washcloths for your guests' comfort.


Be mindful of the needs of seniors

If your houseguest happens to be in his or her twilight years, it's important to remember that special safety considerations should be taken for older folks. If any of your bathroom mats are of the plush or slippery variety, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution encourages you to remove them and implement mats with firmer grips. In addition, while it might seem like a bit of a to-do, it could be worth the peace of mind to install a grab bar in the shower. These devices are meant to reduce the chances of an older person experiencing a falling accident.

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In an interview with the Inter Press Service (IPS), World Toilet Organization (WTO) founder Jack Sim discussed his reasons for starting the organization and his future goals for reversing the world-wide toilet shortage.


The news source relates that upon his 40th birthday, the former construction executive realized he had to do something meaningful with his life. He decided to focus his attention on improving sanitation. In addition to starting the WTO in 2001, he also founded the Restroom Association of Singapore in 1998.


"The toilet was completely neglected in Singapore. I realised it was the same all over the world," he told the IPS. "People felt very embarrassed. Now I’ve broken the taboo and legitimized the subject through 12 years of effective advocacy. I am proud to say I have broken the taboo surrounding the subject of sanitation."


He went on to explain that 50 to 80 percent of worldwide diseases could be prevented through proper sanitation and appropriately-timed hand washing. He also stressed the need for toilets that are maintained by a government or private owner and can't be stepped in or washed away by torrential rain. It's also important to keep flies away from toilets, he said.


Sim's adventures in toilet advocacy

Although the philanthropist prides himself on his attempts to remove the taboo of discussing the toilet shortage, The Huffington Post reports that he hasn't always been successful.


In early 2012, Sim tried to get a noted Bollywood actor to star in a film decrying the global toilet shortage. She passed on his idea, possibly because the script called for her name to be spelled out in a river of feces during the opening credits.


However, his successes outweigh his failures, according to the news source. Thanks to the WTO's efforts, areas in need can purchase open source toilets that only cost $32.


But there's more to the sanitation crisis than simply helping the poor, Sim told the news provider. He expressed concerns that the global environment would suffer if everyone in the world used as much water as Americans. The solution for that, he feels, is more environmentally friendly toilets.


"[We should] design new lifestyles that are environmentally sustainable that effectively becomes a global trend," he told the news provider. "We need to make simplicity 'cool,'  in the same way we make toilets sexy."

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Electronic toilets on the rise in India
Posted on Monday, December 10, 2012

In light of the severe shortage of toilets in India, a program called Suchi@School has installed more than 130 electronic toilets in 35 schools across the Indian city of Ernakulam, according to a report from TheHindu.com.


Meanwhile, the Times of India reports that the use of electronic toilets has been championed by the former minister for rural development, Jairam Ramesh. These commodes convert the results of a typical run to the bathroom into biological charcoal, minerals and clean water. It is hoped that eventually, electronic toilets will turn human waste into electricity.


A picture on the website shows the toilets resemble pink and yellow contraptions with cartoon figures painted on for decoration. Ernakulam is part of the state of Kerla, an area that is far better off when it comes to toilet availability than the rest of the nation. The news source explains that 91 percent of homes in this area of India have access to toilets, as opposed to the less than 30 percent throughout the rest of the country.


A government administrator TheHindu described as P. Rajeev told them that the funding for this project came from the Local Area Development Fund.


More toilet innovations in India

According to CNN, the Indian toilet shortage has gotten so bad that 60 percent of the people in the world who defecate in the open live in India. The news source reports on statistics from the World Health Organization, stating that 635 million citizens in India are forced to resorting to open defecation due to lack of toilets. Lack of plumbing and drainage is the major issue - CNN states that out of about 8,000 towns in India, only a few more than 150 have sewage treatment plants.


Some Indian government officials see electronic toilets as the solution to India's toilet problem - however, other members of the Indian government are pushing harder for more widespread use of bio toilets. The Times of India report that the representation from the nation's Defense Research and Development Organisation were impressed by toilets innovated in Antarctica. These bio toilets turn human waste into scentless water.


The Times of India also reports that the government railway system has been taking heat for emptying toilets along the tracks. As trains cross many bodies of water, the Environmental Ministry as expressed concerns about contamination.

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Zany ideas for bathroom gifts
Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012

During the holiday season, many people aren't expecting to receive a present meant to be used in the bathroom. Although it might sound tacky to show a loved one your affection by presenting him or her with bathroom accessories - such as hands free soap and toothpaste dispensers, heated toilet seats or a bathroom cleaning robot - the folks at Roto-Rooter don't think any of those are silly ideas. In fact, the company states that most people are in their bathrooms for 30 minutes a day, while at least 25 percent of the U.S. population is in the can for more than an hour on a daily basis.


"People are spending more time than ever before in the bathroom," said Paul Abrams, Roto-Rooter director of public relations. "Trends in home design and mobility of electronics have made the bathrooms of average homes spa-like retreats where a stressed homeowner can unwind with a tablet, music and more."


According to a release from the company, Roto Rooter's suggestions for holiday gifts are meant to be amusing and useful. Predictably, the bathroom-cleaning robot is the most expensive, but the waterproof notepad is only said to cost $10. The other suggestions include racks that keep towels warm, a LED showerhead, a waterproof iPod dock, fogless mirrors and a book titled Chilling Tales from the Porcelain Seat.


Bathroom gifts that could backfire

That said, it's important to keep in mind that some holiday gifts designed to be used in the bathroom might send the wrong message, as noted by a roundup of poor gift-choices from The Huffington Post. Unless it's on his or her list for Santa, it's probably a bad idea to give a close friend or family member a bathroom scale. There's really no way to interpret an un-asked-for scale, except as an indicator that the gift-giver feels you need to lose weight. The same goes for personal hygiene products such as deodorant and soap. At a time of year when you should be making those closest to you feel special, by giving one of them a gift of deodorant, you might as well be calling that person smelly.


The news source also advises against gifting holiday-themed bath towels. While these towels certainly wouldn't be considered insulting, gifts that only make sense to use during the holiday season do seem a little impractical.

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What to expect for fashionable bathroom decor in 2013
Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2012

News sources are speculating on what will prove to be the most popular trends in modern bathroom decor in 2013. People who are hoping to keep their powder room up with the times may want to take heed of these taste makers' predictions.


Blogging for BoldSky.com, media expert and bathroom accessory enthusiast Tauseef Hussain wrote that sleekness and efficiency will be in this upcoming year when it comes to contemporary bathroom vanities and other washroom decor fare. Right down to soap holders, towel racks and toilet paper holders, hip homeowners will be looking for bathroom accessories that are simple yet elegant and stylish. Other aesthetics that will either come into or continue to be in fashion include natural tones in tiles and wood and more water-saving faucets, shower heads and toilets. That doesn't mean classy bathrooms will start to feel rural or antique - they'll be aiming for the unfussy yet luxurious atmosphere of a home spa.


"The ultimate way to tie together the latest bathroom design aspects for 2013 is by following the growing trend of creating your very own spa-like experience within your home," Hussain wrote.


More experts weigh in on future of bathroom decor

Noting that a current and comfortable aura in the bathroom may help the price of a house go up, Lushome published the top 15 styles of bathroom decor it predicts will be all the rage in 2013. While some aesthetics fall in line with the expectations voiced on BoldSky - more environmentally friendly plumbing, for one - other choices would add more camp and individuality to a bathroom.


For a few examples, the source says that wall tiles featuring various mosaic designs rooted in exotic, ancient or futuristic fashions may become more prevalent. It also points to colorful Art Deco spins on bathroom vanities, wallpaper and mirrors, which could come into vogue, especially for bathrooms designated for use by younger people. "His and Her's" sink arrangements, as well as splitting the bathroom into a pair of joined but separate rooms for added privacy, is listed as a bathroom style we should expect to see more of.

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Toilet malfunctions were deemed the worst thing that could happen at a party by a survey conducted by Delta Faucet. At the same time, about 10 percent of respondents said they make sure their plumbing is working correctly before having guests over for social gatherings at their homes.


"Of the more than 40 percent of homeowners who said they had a plumbing problem while entertaining, only a third knew about the problem prior to the party," said Mike Roberts, a director of product marketing at Delta. "That leaves a lot of homeowners subject to a very unpleasant, and potentially embarrassing, party incident."


Chip Wade, who redesigns homes for families that have outgrown their living quarters on the Home and Garden Television show Elbow Room, mentioned that many guests in a home could strain pipes by forcing the plumbing fixtures to withstand more flushes than they normally do.


But there are other steps you can take to ensure that your bathroom is prepared to accommodate house guests. Apartment Therapy recommends stocking up on toilet paper and clean towels. It also couldn't hurt to place fresh flowers on a window ledge. A safe distance from the flowers, an unobtrusive reed diffuser or incense candle could be lit to make guests more comfortable. 


Meanwhile, an expert provided some bathroom cleaning advice to Oprah Winfrey's website for a report on the steps homeowners should take to be ready for company.


"The bathroom is the one place your guests are going to be alone," Debra Johnson, training manager at Merry Maids, told the source. "Concentrate on the sink and the toilet - Make sure there's extra toilet paper out. You want everybody to be able to see it and have access to it."


Keep in mind that sometimes it's the little things that count. For example, some people forget to take out the trash in their bathroom, as powder room trash containers tend to be smaller than trash cans placed in the kitchen. However, some guests might be grossed out if they accidently knock the trash container over, and see a pile of used tissues leftover from a cold you had three weeks ago.

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Social media belongs in the toilet, says study
Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012

If you're uncomfortable with the idea that your favorite people to follow on Twitter may be relieving themselves as they compose their witty observations, the following may hit you as distressing news.


Findings from Nielsen and NM Incite show that nearly 30 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 check up on their social media sites - such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus - while they're using the toilet. The researchers also expect the number of people tweeting or messaging "FB" friends while using the lavatory will go up in upcoming years, as the number of people using social media sites has risen almost 40 percent this year alone. In addition, use of smartphones to connect to the internet rose about the same percentage, while more than 15 percent more people are using tablet devices.


"Social media is truly everywhere in people's lives," Deirdre Bannon, vice president of social-media solutions at NM Incite, told the Detroit Free Press. "It is so ingrained and has touched every facet of everything we do all day long. We are literally taking our phones with us to the bathroom and connecting on social media."


Only about 15 percent of 35 to 44 year olds who responded to the survey admitted to social networking on the commode, and the rates of men and women who use their toilet-time for social networking came out about even. This research included information from more than 200,000 people collected during the summer of 2012.




South African summit calls for environmentally-friendly toilets

Meanwhile, IOL News reported on a World Toilet Summit in Durban, South Africa, which took place in early December of 2012.  Pieter Lemmer, a director at sanitation product manufacturer Calcamite, told the news provider that most people flush about 25 liters of water a day. That combines to more than 9,000 liters annually, not including water used to clean hands or bathe.


In light of this, the World Toilet Summit housed a competition for innovative toilets, along the same lines as one sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this year. The news source reports that numerous vendors showcased environmentally-friendly toilets that functioned without water or chemicals, some of which had odor-eliminating features. Solar powered toilets that harnessed the heat of the sun to decompose waste were demonstrated at the summit as well.

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Some wise choices for bathroom reading
Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012

In recent years, the publishing industry has taken some substantial financial blows due to the rise of the internet, alongside portable devices such as tablet computers and smartphones. But there's one place where paper still reigns - the bathroom. Of course, anyone can use an electronic gizmo while on the toilet. However, dropping any electronic device in water could lead to the destruction of the potentially-pricey gadget, or your personal electrocution. So, let's consider some analogue reading choices....


Magazines

Some people look at the $6 or more price tag on many magazines and put them back on the shelves, but if you can't afford one of the glossies, keep in mind that many magazines and alternative weekly newspaper are available for free. The advantage of magazines is you can pick one that suits your individual interests. Irreverent 20-somethings might enjoy the international news and crass humor found in Vice Magazine, while those more interested in home decor and improvement would likely prefer Better Homes and Gardens.


Books

While the content in magazines is generally designed to be easily digested, books often take a bit more concentration to properly absorb. If you're picking out a book for bathroom reading, think about selecting a quick paperback read instead of a challenging, lengthy book - mostly because it might be a little awkward holding a giant tome in your lap while you're using the toilet.


Comics

You might think comic books appeal to a small segment of the population, but that's only partially true. While most mainstream comics deal with guys in spandex punching each other, some graphic novels visually depict romance stories, historical fiction, horror and other genres. It might be worth scanning the internet or a nearby hobby store to see if anything appeals to you.


The labels on your medicine and soap bottles

Ever been curious about the ingredients on that gooey stuff you washing your hair with every morning? Want to check to see if there's any real difference between your body spray and deodorant? If you plan to be in the bathroom for a little while, this could be an ideal time to settle your curiosity.

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