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A location that formally housed a public toilet block has now become the site of an award winning public building in New South Wales, Australia. The site, which many residents considered an eyesore, is now home to an innovative and striking new building

Awards

The building constructed on the former toilet site is the Waterloo Youth Family Community Center, designed by architecture firm Collins and Turner. At the New South Wales Architecture Award ceremony, the building was given the Sulman Medal for Public Architecture. The award is considered the highest honor attainable at the ceremony. The building also received an Sustainable Architecture award due to its innovative and economically friendly design, according to ABC.

One of the factors leading the building's award was the fact that public leadership, the community and the private design firm all were able to work together and achieve great results. Commissioned by the City of Sydney, the building represents a group effort between several different groups.

Helen Lochhead, chair of the public architecture jury, described the building as combining "social sustainability, but environmental sustainability and turns something which was a real black hole in the local park into something which is a magnet and an attractor."

The building

The Waterloo Youth Family Community Center is open to the public and features a bold design of sharply angled steel. This modern structure, featuring large, sharply angled steel and wire fencing, is what caused it to be so highly praised by members of the public architecture jury who considered it to be edgy. 

The building still uses some of the elements left behind from the toilet block as its base, though much of the plumbing has been removed, and the remaining part has been changed enough to be nearly unrecognizable to its former use.

The Center will hold youth programs and meetings. It is the base of a program called WEAVE (Working to Educate, Advocate, Voice and Empower) a charitably group that works with youth in the Waterloo area. The program first operated out of one of the employee's cars and eventually found its way on to the former toilet block. Once the City of Sydney commissioned the new building, the organization stayed.

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Two Japanese companies have created fascinatingly bizarre, toilet-themed objects. The first is The Heart Company's candy called "Moko Moko Mokolett" which features a candy liquid that can be sipped with a spoon from a plastic toilet. The second is a toilet-themed motorbike made with a porcelain seat that runs on bio-fuel.

Candy

The strange candy treat features plastic toilets available in four different colors. To enjoy the candy, the user first assembles the tiny plastic toilet. After that, simply add the package of candy powder into the miniature toilet tank, along with water. The powder reacts with the water and forms a bubbly mixture that then fizzes through the tank into the toilet bowl, and the user can enjoy this oddity with a provided plastic straw. To make the toilet candy even more enjoyable, the kit also comes with stickers that can give the device a smiling face, according to LaughingSquid.com.

Motorbike

While the bike is not available for purchase, the Neo bike is fully functional. The three-wheeled 250cc engine runs on a fuel made of animal waste, though the bike has yet to be produced for consumers.

The most eye-catching feature of the bike is its seat, which is a padded toilet. Though the toilet is not operational, it emphasizes the fact that it was designed and created by a toilet company. The machine was in development between 2009 and 2012, and was revealed at a showroom near Tokyo in the summer of 2012, according to Metro U.K. The manufacturer of the strange contraption released statements clarifying the use of the toilet seat.

Manufactured by Japanese toilet company TOTO, the bike was made to showcase the power of natural fuels and the company's commitment to the environment. It runs on a bio-fuel that is made from refined and fertilized animal waste created in Shika-oi Town in Hokkaido and Kobe city by another company.

According to a statement from the company, "the Neo rest seat does not function as a toilet, and has been created for promoting TOTO's environmental efforts. TOTO has set up the project to inform everyone about what we have done in the past, and what we will do in the future."

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Sony's latest smartphone, the Xperia A, has an ability that many mobile phone owners wish theirs had: Water resistance. The new phone can reportedly withstand being dropped in the toilet and having drinks spilled on it, a feature that many of other pricey technological gadgets lack.

Water resistance

Though the phone is unable to withstand being underwater indefinitely, it can be submerged for 30 minutes before it becomes irreparably damaged, as long as its port flaps are closed. Sony hopes that the phone's hardiness will make it a popular seller. and has used the waterproof aspect as a selling point, according the Forbes. Though not as tough as phones marketed to construction workers and other laborers, this model still has the advantages of a large, high definition screen and web applications that other, sturdy models don't.

A quote from the company given to the source states: "Don't worry if you drop it in the bath or the toilet. It will still work after 30 minutes submerged in water." Though the company doesn't encourage putting the phone in water, many people have tried otherwise and it continues to function.

This is a vast change from many other phone models, which were fragile to humidity. According to information from the phone's blog, nearly a third of phone owners in the U.K. had experienced water damage to their cell phones. Nearly half of this damage came from accidentally dropping the phone in the toilet. Once the new phone is thoroughly sanitized, it's completely ready to go. The company hopes that this will put the phone ahead of its competitors.

Competition

In Japan, where the phone has been available since May, the Xperia has outsold competitors. It has even eclipsed sales of Apple's iPhone, which still dominate the U.S. market as far as single phones go. While Sony hopes that the new phone will outsell the popular Apple product, some analysts doubt whether this will be possible.

People in the U.S. have a strong brand loyalty to Apple, even though some of its products are expensive and don't come waterproof. In addition to the Xperia's waterproofing, it is also dust resistant, so it may be more convenient for people looking to tote the gadget outdoors.

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A new toilet design that more adequately handles human waste could help save millions of lives at risk from contamination. Engineers from The University of Missouri have designed a new toilet that has now been backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is generating funding to help bring the design to more than 2 billion people.

Sanitation

In many parts of the developing world, the lack of access to clean water and hygienic toilets can cause serious illness. Each year, billions of people, often children, succumb to illnesses brought about by these conditions. Many others are affected by sicknesses that hinder their growth. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation estimates that roughly 2.5 billion people in the world lack sanitary conditions for waste management.

The Foundation seeks to install newer sewage systems that don't require the infrastructure of developed countries. Though effective, the sewer and septic tank systems installed in America, Europe and across the First World are extremely expensive to implement, and the amount of land and resources that would need to be devoted to install them are not available in many countries. Instead, the Foundation has laid out plans to sponsor a new type of toilet system that would require less money to install, and could service more people.



In order to sponsor the development of these new systems, the Foundation launched its 'Reinvent the Toilet Challenge' in 2011. The event calls for designs and plans from the world's most cutting-edge research bodies. This year, a team from the University of Missouri gained sponsorship for their design, which turns waste into carbon dioxide, water and heat. Doug Hendry, a postdoctoral fellow in chemical engineering at the University, explained the process to the Wayne County Journal-Banner.

"The best way to describe supercritical water oxidation is a combustion reaction, which is burning, similar to what happens when you throw a log on a campfire. he difference is we do it in supercritical water, which is at high temperature and high pressure."

The process generates enough energy to sustain itself, and can potentially power separate machines as well. The water can even be used for showering, washing and drinking once the filtration has been performed. Eventually, the system will be able to clean enough water to provide service to 1,200 people per unit.

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As part of the nation-wide Total Sanitation Campaign, Indian women are being urged not to marry when who lack indoor toilets. The publicity campaign is intended to encourage rural Indians to install proper plumbing fixtures as part of a movement that seeks to make the entire country more sanitary.

Sanitation

Due to lack of proper facilities, many people in India simply relive themselves outdoors, which encourages the spread of disease and can put women in danger. The government has begun initiatives to introduce more sanitation into the lives of rural Indians.

Ad campaign

In one of the ads of the campaign, famous Bollywood actress Vidya Balan plays the role of a woman praising a friend for leaving her husband's home after discovering that there was no indoor toilet.

The ad is based on real life events that happened in 2011, when a woman named Anita Narre left her husband's home after two day due to the lack of a toilet. The woman's husband then built an indoor latrine and the woman returned home. Soon after, the event became well-known throughout the state, and is considered to be responsible in part for the country's new surge in sanitation, according to Women's News.

Building latrines

In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the government provides assistance to people seeking to build toilets. After Narre's story became famous, many people wanted to build toilets in their homes in order to be more sanitary, and the local government provided help. Narre's husband used the same system when he built his toilet.

There are many mass weddings in Madhya Pradesh that help families avoid the costs of hosting their own lavish weddings. The ceremonies are very popular among poor Indians, but a caveat to the system was added this past year: All grooms must submit a picture of themselves in their home near their toilet. If this proof of plumbing was not provided, the men could not participate in the mass weddings, The Sun notes.

According to one official, the photos are mandatory because "We were asking for affidavits from grooms to confirm to us they had toilet facilities at home, but they could easily lie and deceive us." 

The movement has been very successful in getting people to install indoor toilets. Approximately 1,500 couples constructed new toilets in order to be married.

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Singapore, the city-state with the world's largest population of millionaires, faces a consistent water-shortage issue. In order to provide fresh, potable water to its citizens, government officials have been investing more and more in technology that makes waste water from the toilet potable.

Water shortage

Though Singapore is a very wealthy city-state, it is also very small. The entirety of its borders is roughly equal to the size of Hamburg, Germany. This severely limits the amount of water that can be taken from reservoirs and natural sources. While there is a large amount of water in underground reserves, the land in the small island is so expensive that it's not economically feasible to get it.

George Madhavan​, of Singapore's Public Utility Boards, said, "In bigger countries, lakes and rivers provide the fresh water supply, and there's enough space to collect and store water. But Singapore is so small, it can't take advantage of those options."

Singapore also gets more than two meters of rainfall each year, higher than twice the world's average, but this only accounts for 30 percent of the thriving country's water needs. Desalination of sea water, though effective, is also too expensive to be used nationwide. In order to supply its citizens with fresh water, government officials had to look elsewhere.

Recycling water

The most cost effective and efficient method of producing water in the country is now recycling waste water. In order to produce massive amounts of fresh water, Singapore uses a system called 'NEWater.' The four NEWater plants in the country already provide a third of the nation's water, an impressive 430 million liters per day. The country expects half of its drinkable water to be NEWater by 2060.

Though other countries like the United States, Spain and Israel use recycled drinking water, none do to the extent that Singapore does. The country has quickly become a leader in producing a resource considered a shrinking commodity by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon among others, according to The Straits Times.

The actual process of changing toilet water into drinking water is not taken lightly. The water is filtered several times to remove any waste matter, as well as bacteria and viruses. Through reverse osmosis, the water is filtered again. Finally, it is subjected to ultra-violet disinfection. The final product is exceeds United Nations Purity standards, according to Deutsche Welle.

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Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks covered the house of the team's coach in toilet paper to celebrate the team's victory over the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup on Monday. The series lasted six games, with the Blackhawks winning the sixth game in its final moments.

Toilet papering

Fans eagerly threw toilet paper all over the trees and yard of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to celebrate the team's victory on Monday night. The coach took the event in stride according to reports, signing autographs and talking to fans even as his yard as covered in toilet paper. Many pictures have surfaced from the event and the day after, including photos of Quenneville cleaning up his yard.

Fans who paraded around Quenneville's house took to Twitter and other social media to send pictures of their celebratory mayhem. The coach had all reason to take the event in stride after leading the Blackhawks to their second title under him in three years. He also had every reason to expect the toilet papering: the same thing happened when he brought the team to victory in 2010 against the Pittsburg Penguins, securing the Stanley Cup for Chicago for the first time in 49 years, according to Yahoo News.

Tradition

Like many sporting events, the Stanley Cup playoffs have a number of traditions associated with them. While covering the coach's house in toilet paper is only limited to Chicago, many other events are practiced across the country.

The Cup itself has several events associated with it. Starting in the 1930s, it became common for the victorious team to be presented with the trophy on the ice, where fans could watch. This actually did not become a mandatory part of the celebration until the 1950s, though it is now closely associated with the Stanley Cup, the Bleacher Report notes.

Though superstition forbids players from touching the cup until it has been officially won, they are able to have plenty of fun with it once it has been. Every player on the team takes the trophy for a victory lap around the stadium after the game is over, and s given a day to have it during the off-season. The cup has been used as a cereal bowl, a beer cooler and even a dog food bowl by the players and team management who get to spend time with it.

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Schools in Chicago are facing such severe budget cuts this coming academic year that some will be forced to choose between laying off teachers and cutting back on such necessities as toilet paper. In response to this, many parents and concerned Chicago residents have rallied to gather toilet paper and other supplies in order to help these schools provide for students.

Budget cuts

Despite the closing of 49 Chicago public schools, budget cuts still call for many cutbacks for those remaining. While some schools have been forced to lay off or fire teachers, aides and secretaries, this sometimes isn't enough to meet the huge budget reductions. Some schools have had their budgets reduced by over $1 million, while the Taft High School has to trim $3 million from its spending, according to The Daily Kos.

One teacher told the source that she often had classrooms overcrowded with nearly 40 children. She had to regulate the use of outdated textbooks and even ration toilet paper. While the teacher explained that class sizes had reduced and materials had become more readily available, the introduction of a new 5-year plan to reduce budgets had hit hard. Many schools did not have the money for any janitorial supplies, including toilet paper.

She told the source, "The question is at what point is a budget beyond ridiculous?  The personnel cuts increase class sizes, textbook funds are slashed, and we have no money left for the basic health needs of children.  In the end, the drastic school-based budgeting is creating systemic failure."

Protest

On June 18, many parents and activists decided to hold a small rally to gather toilet paper and other supplies. In order to drive the point home, the event was held in front of the Chase Auditorium, where Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was holding an event to gather support for the 5-year plan, NBC notes.

The plan for the protest was never to actually cover the venue with toilet paper, but to draw much-needed supplies and attention for the crisis.

The group of activists also created their own online persona, including a Twitter label: #CPSwipes. A video of a student going into one of the bathrooms to find no toilet paper has also gone viral on the internet.

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After a woman working in a Bangladesh factory claimed to have been attacked by a ghost, a massive wave of panic swept through the workers, who rioted and refused to work. Police were eventually able to disperse the riot, and the workers will soon return to the factory once it has been spiritually cleansed.

The attack and aftermath

The incident began when a woman used the bathroom and felt sick afterward. She then claimed that her sickness was caused by a ghost attack, though did not say that she had actually seen the apparition. This claim was enough to rile up more than 3,000 factory employees, who would not return to work until the ghost had been removed from the toilet.

Some of the workers even took to vandalizing the factory before they were controlled by police. A riot also took place, but was controlled by police with tear gas, according to Live Science.

In order to calm the workers down, owners shut down the factory for several days, while holding ritual prayers. Whether or not the panic was truly caused by a ghost, the prayers effectively combated the symptoms.

Mass hysteria

This situation and others like it is often considered mass hysteria. Mass hysteria, officially known as mass sociogenic illness, occurs when people convert their stress into physical symptoms. This syndrome spreads from one person to another and often results in panic. Sometimes, like in the factory in Bangladesh, the panic can turn into strikes and riots.

The contagion will often spread through groups of people who are in the same workplace or school and undergo routine stress. A loud and cramped factory in Bangladesh is a place where mass hysteria could easily happen, especially considering that many of the workers, often part of the Muslim Bangladeshi population, incorporate ghosts and other supernatural phenomenon as a part of their religion, Live Science noted.

In Southwest Asia, there have been many similar incidents to the above in recent weeks, which involve workers all feeling similar symptoms of a mysterious illness. Some of this is attributed to the mindset of workers and factory owners after the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh this past April that killed many workers.

An article in the British Journal of Psychiatry states that "Mass sociogenic illness is an under-appreciated social problem that is both underreported and often a significant financial burden to responding emergency services, public health and environmental agencies and the affected school or occupation site, which is often closed for days or weeks."

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A ruling from the Colorado Civil Rights Division will allow Coy Mathis, a transgendered girl, to continue using the girls' toilets in her school. Once the 6-year-old Coy reached winter break this past December, her school said she could no longer use the girls' bathroom, so her parents decided to take action.

Legal case

When the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed Coy's parents that their daughter would no longer use the girls' bathroom after winter break, the Mathis' felt their daughter's rights had been violated. With help from the Transgender Legal and Defense Education Fund, they made a complaint to the school board. Coy's parents removed her from school and filed the complaint that February.

Though Coy was still able to use staff and gender-neutral bathrooms, her parents felt that she was still being discriminated against. This sentiment brought the favorable ruling from the Civil Rights Division. Steven Chavez, the division director, made comments in the ruling regarding this, saying that not allowing Coy to use the girls bathroom created "an environment rife with harassment," according to NBC news.

He also wrote that the district showed "a lack of understanding of the complexity of transgender issues," during the trial by referring to Coy as a male throughout the Proceedings.

Coy's schooling

When just 18 months old, Coy decided that she felt more like a girl than a boy. By the time she was four, she felt that something was wrong with her. Once enrolled in school, Coy decided that she wanted to be labeled as a girl and treated as such. Her classmates and teachers were instructed by her parents to treat Coy as a female.

The Mathis' decided to take their daughter to a specialist when she began showing concern over her gender, and the specialist revealed that Coy had gender identity disorder. The only solution prescribed was to let Coy live as a girl, NBC news noted.

Controversy

Some of the school's representatives still felt that their initial decision to bar Coy from the girls' bathroom was correct. Though the situation would likely not be an issue until other students noticed that Coy was still biologically male, the school felt that it would become difficult to mask as Coy became older. The presence of a transgendered student using the girls' bathroom was also forecast to make other students and parents uncomfortable, though the Mathis' still view the ruling as a victory.

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Flight 931 from San Francisco to London faced one shortage that was not considered likely to happen: Toilet paper. While other amenities were stocked, it seems that the United Airlines staff neglected to restock toilet paper.

Unpleasant surprise

The situation was not totally clear to passengers and staff until one of the on-board lavatories ran out of toilet paper. Instead of transferring paper from one bathroom to another, the staff improvised and used cocktail napkins. Though the move saved time, many on board the plane were still upset.

Photos of the makeshift dispenser crafted by crew members out of cardboard and duct tape quickly found their way onto the internet. According to the Consumerist, passengers found obvious humor in the printed napkins, which read, 'Fly by the tips of your fingers.

Though the shortage of toilet tissue was known before the flight was going to take off, the airline chose not to restock on the item. If they had, the flight would have been delayed and passengers could have potentially missed connecting flights upon arrival in London. Airline officials apologized for the lack of toilet paper in a statement provided to The Consumerist. The airline did not have time to restock before getting to San Francisco and then flying to London.

"We did not have the correct amount of paper products onboard United flight 931 prior to takeoff from London Heathrow. Rather than delay the flight, our crew chose to operate as planned," read the statement.

Unfortunately for United, this news comes  on the heels of an unfavorable customer satisfaction survey. The company placed part of the blame on its recent merger with Continental Airlines, notes ABC.

Running out

While the supply shortage was certainly inconvenient for many on board, it's not the first time flights have run out of essential items. It's typical to run low on particular beverages or foods during a flight, but one flight gained particular notoriety for having to stop for fuel and then asking passengers to pay in cash.

The flight happened in the summer of 2012, and the mishap was the result of a plane being rerouted from Beirut to Damascus, where airplane fuel can only be paid for in cash. Luckily for the passengers, France Air wound up footing the bill in the end, according to CNN.

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Germany's autobahn toilet fees cause stir
Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013

The autobahn, the German nation motorway, features toilets that, unlike many countries, require a fee to use. While these fees are small and can be used as a partial rebate in the rest area's shop, new developments show that many who use these bathrooms are not cashing in their rebates. German truckers have also been facing regulatory changes in their abilities to access these bathrooms.

Fees

Through a simple rebate system, many people who visit the bathroom while on the autobahn effectively for .20 euros. There is a 70 cent cost to use the facilities, but .50 euros of each of these tickets can be used toward a purchase from the station's store, according to The Local. However, only about 80 percent of these coupons are cashed in, creating large profits for Tank und Rast, the company that operates these rest stops.

Cumulatively, the losses for Germans and other drivers on the motorway equal about 7.5 million Euros, according to German newspaper Die Welt. While many simply throw away the tickets or don't have time to use them, they are valid for there years. Some of the tickets are even sold on eBay for those looking to undercut the cost of their bathroom breaks.

Members of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club, Europe's largest auto club, have criticized the move. Other gas stations in the area want to charge 50 cents for the bathroom and give out rebates for 70 cents toward the shop, encouraging customers to purchase items.

Truckers

Germany's 1.5 million truck drivers may see increased paperwork in their days if new legislation passes. Because truckers have to pay the same fees that other drivers do, they are credited with 5 Euros per day to cover expenses. Legislators now say that many truckers don't even use these bathrooms and are just pocketing the extra money. The solution would involve truckers keeping a log of the number of times and the length of visits to the bathroom for three months of the year, according to the German Herald.

A tax official stated, "The flat rate harks back to a time when there was a collection plate and no chance of a receipt for toilet usage - now the system is automated and there are receipts - and we want truckers to justify their claims."

Needless to say, the move has come under criticism from other tax representatives as well as truckers.

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Recently released research from both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The University of California, San Francisco revealed that thousands of Americans go to the emergency room each year for toilet-related injuries. 

The numbers

A 2008 CDC study staggering numbers of bathroom-related injuries treated at hospitals: Over 200,000 people over the age of 15 were treated in hospitals for nonfatal, bathroom-related injuries. The data reveals that women are 72 percent more likely to injure themselves than men in the bathroom and that the likelihood of injury rises with age.

The bulk of these injuries result from slipping in the tub or the shower, but there are still approximately 33,000 injuries reported each year that are focused solely on the toilet itself, according to the study.

A new type of injury has been increasing in recent years, according to the study from The University of California. The number of people who are taken to the hospital for "crush" injuries from toilet seats has grown by about 100 per year between 2002 and 2012.

These injuries generally involve a badly timed closing of the toilet seat, resulting in damage to the genitals. Between 2002 and 2012, there were 13,175 total genital injuries reported.

Victims

The majority of people being injured by toilet seats were found to be young children who were toilet training. Children aged seven and under accounted for nearly 100 percent of "crush" injuries. Fortunately, most of the injuries sustained were not likely to have permanent ramifications.

"The vast majority of these injuries were treated in the ER and then sent home… My sense is that it's just a very traumatic and unpleasant experience to go through, but it would be important to know that there is no damage that happens to the penis or patient," said Dr. Benjamin Breyer, lead author of the study, according to Reuters.

Breyer theorized that some of the injuries might be related to increased sales of heavy wooden or ceramic toilet seats, which he suggests would better be avoided by people with potty training children in the house.

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Parasites found in ancient toilet
Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013

The ruins of a system of toilets used by crusaders in the Mediterranean have been found to be infested with parasites. The findings suggest that the sanitary conditions of the toilets were far from ideal and allowed for cross contamination between food and waste, which created this issue, according to The International Business Times.

The history

The island of Cyprus has been occupied by several different populations throughout the past thousand years. At the time the castle was built, the island was owned by the Franks, who purchased it from the English around 1200 AD. Soon after the Franks took over the island, they built the fortress Saranda Kolones. Soon afterward, the island was struck by a massive earth quake, thus destroying the fortress entirely, except for the toilets.

Perfectly carved for human use, the toilets featured half-moon holes in a long bench for sitting. The waste would then go down from the toilets into a primitive sewer system, which was part of what allowed the parasites to spread.

Analysis

Two researchers from the University of Cambridge, Evilena Anastasiou and Piers Mitchell, decided to dig a little deeper into the ancient waste and see what they could find. Luckily, the remains of waste in the toilets were still able to be used. The duo was able to rehydrate the human waste and run it through an incredibly fine micro-sieve in search of parasite eggs. Each egg was smaller than a tenth of a millimeter.

The results revealed that many of the crusaders suffered from two of the most common parasites: Whipworms and roundworms. While whipworms can cause certain infections, both worms are better known for competing with their host for food. When in high enough quantities, the worms harshly reduce the ingested nutrients from the food people consume, making them sick and possibly starving them.

The researchers wrote "In these circumstances [it] is quite likely that medieval soldiers with a heavy parasite load would have been at increased risk of death from starvation during famine episodes such as long sieges or expeditions when supplies ran out," according to Live Science.

These parasites would easily spread from human to human due to poor hygiene and sanitation in the bathrooms. The study of leftover waste in ancient bathrooms provides researchers with more detailed information about the health and diets of ancient people, though it's certainly not for everyone.

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A study by the University of Michigan has found that only 5 percent of people wash their hands properly after using the toilet. The study observed over 3,700 people by using discreet means in public restrooms, and the findings were surprising.

Results

While many people who used the public restrooms did wash their hands, only 1 in 20 did so well enough to actually kill germs. Ten percent of people didn't wash their hands at all while a third used no soap. Of those who did wash, the vast majority of them only did so for about 6 seconds. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing for at least 20 seconds to ensure that the germs are killed.

Carl Borchgrevink, the study's lead author, said in a statement that "These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate."

The study, originally published in The Journal of Environmental Health, showed evidence that women were generally better when it came to washing their hands. While only about half of men washed their hands with soap, nearly 80 percent of women did. Additionally, 8 percent of women did not was at all, and 15 percent of men opted out.

The cleanliness of the bathroom also encouraged patrons to wash their hands, while facilities with dirty sinks seemed to discourage them, according to the study. Bathrooms with proper signage encouraging hand washing seemed to urge more patrons to wash thoroughly. The rate of washing saw a decline in the evenings, as people were more often out eating and drinking, and became more relaxed.

Proper hand washing

The CDC provides information on the correct process of washing hands. While it's common knowledge that hands should be washed after using the toilet, the agency also recommends washing before preparing or consuming food, treating any cuts, touching garbage or any bodily fluid. Many diseases can be spread through poorly-washed hands that come in contact with food.

One of the keys to washing hands properly is to make sure the entire hand is covered in soap, from the wrist to the fingertips. It's also important to wash under nails and between fingers to be especially thorough. The organization also suggests humming the "Happy Birthday" song to ensure that enough time has passed before rinsing.

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Venezuelans use smartphone app to find toilet paper
Posted on Monday, June 17, 2013

For Venezuelans, a few material necessities have become hard to find in recent months. While some basic foods such as flour and sugar have been increasingly hard to come by on supermarket shelves, one item has trumped the rest in terms of demand: Toilet paper. Luckily, a young software developer has set about providing a solution for those with smartphones.

The app

Supply me, or Abasteceme as it's called in Spanish, is an app that uses Google Maps and information supplied by users to track down toilet paper and others goods. It was developed by Jose Augusto Montiel, a 21-year-old  chemical engineering student, and is available to download for free. Taking only a month to create, the app has been enormously popular among Venezuelans in need of these goods. Since its release on May 31, the app has been downloaded over 10,000 times, according to The Associated Press.

App users identify stores that have a supply of a certain good, and the establishment is then marked on Google Maps. This method of information gathering is often referred to as crowdsourcing. While the app allows people to track such goods as cooking oil and eggs, it has been used largely for toilet paper.

"From what I've seen so far, it's mostly toilet paper, followed by flour," the developer told the source.

Montiel is sure to delete stores from the list when they have been reported to run out of toilet paper. He plans on creating versions of the app that work for Blackberry phones as well as the iPhone. He developed the app mostly by himself, but had some help from his sister to design it.

Venezuela's shortages

First launched in Montiel's native Caracas, the app has since been used all over the country, most of which is lacking in many basic items. The shortages have sparked debates among business owners and politicians who blame the government for the lack of goods. In response to the demand, the Venezuelan government has announced a plan to import 50 million rolls of toilet paper to help meet demand, according to CNN.

Alejandro Fleming, the Venezuelan Minister of Commerce, said that residents of the country began panicking when the story was reported in the media and they began hoarding these goods, exacerbating the situation. Residents deny this, saying that the shortages are more serious than that.

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US senate uses toilet talk in election ad
Posted on Friday, June 14, 2013

In an increasingly bitter battle for a Massachusetts Senate seat, one contender has decided to take the battle to the toilet. Gabriel Gomez, running for the seat as a Republican, has aired a commercial in which he sarcastically claims that his opponent, Rep. Ed Markey, leaves the toilet seat up, among other terrible things.

A war of words

Both campaigners have been especially raucous in their claims about each other over the past months, even going so low as Gomez calling Markey "pond scum" over an incident with a digitally altered photograph showing the challenger alongside terrorist Osama Bin Laden. With such a bitter race, it's no surprise that someone would bring up the commode.

Gomez's ad starts with a sarcastic defamation of himself. A voice-over states that "Gabriel Gomez is a very bad man. He kills old people. He hates women. He even leaves the toilet seat up."

The ad uses real footage from an attack ad aimed at Gomez. The ad featured elderly people struggling with bills, but the Gomez's satirical response then flashes to a toilet with the seat. A harsh, red arrow emphasizes the seat, which the ad sarcastically suggests the hopeful senator left up.

From there the ad changes direction, but this type of nastiness has plagued the entire race, noted CNN. Though this ad used humor to try to distance itself from the previous mud-slinging, it still shows how low the two men will go to get their seat.

The announcer of the video states that "Congressman Markey must think we're stupid," and that the senator embodies "everything that's wrong with Congress."

A harsh race

The men are campaigning for a special election for the U.S. senate seat on June 25. The seat, formerly held by John Kerry, was left open when he left the Senate to serve as the Secretary of State.

The race has become the center point of much political activity, since the seat has the potential to be very influential, even drawing a visit from President Barak Obama to support his preferred candidate. As the campaigning draws near a close, the remarks from both candidates have heated up significantly.

The two men met for their second debate on June 11 and will have another before the actual election.

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Voting closes on 2013 in toilet paper wedding contest
Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2013

The top three finalists of the 2013 Cheap Chic Weddings Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest will be announced soon, as the public voting for the event has now come to a close. The contest has been happening for several years and involves crafting a gown out of Charmin toilet paper, the sponsor of the contest. The three finalists will be flown to New York City to be judged by Kate Pankoke, former contestant on Project Runway and owner of her own bridal boutique, on June 6, according to the event's webpage.

Susan Brennan, one of the contestants, recently had an interview with the Detroit Free Press in which she discussed her own style and her dress. Brennan, a cheerleader for the Detroit Pistons, has won the contest for the last two years running, which includes a $2,000 prize this year, according to the source. Brennan is no stranger to fabric design - she graduated from Michigan State University after studying textile and apparel design. Every year, the 27-year-old, two-time champion sets out to do something different.

This year, Brennan's dress features an exciting new element - it's actually two dresses. In its first form, the dress is a long, elegant wedding gown incorporating large floral swirls and delicate, patterned grooves along the back. The dress took nearly 11 rolls of toilet paper (and no small amount of hot glue and patience) to make, but that's not all. The entire bottom of the dress is removable, revealing a fun, shorter skirt hiding under the traditional wedding garb. "This year, the biggest part is that the long skirt portion of the dress is able to come off," Brennan said of her design according to the Detroit Free Pess. "You undo a couple little closures ... and you're ready to dance."

The first annual toiler paper dress contest was held in 2005, and the event has been going strong ever since. As the years go on, the entries become more elaborate and stylized, though that's not the say the entires for the first year aren't impressive either. Showing the top 10 semifinalists of each year, the event's page shows the huge amount of talent and work that goes into crafting these highly-absorbent gowns, which are often complete with trains, bouquets, vales and jewelry all crafted from toilet paper. It truly makes one wonder about the possibilities of such a simple, ubiquitous product. 

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Even though he was playing the world's strongest man, Henry Cavill, the actor portraying superman in the upcoming "Man Of Steel," claimed to have trouble accessing the toilet when in his costume. The new outfit, a far cry from the original underwear-over-tights that superman has worn for the past 75 years, has been replaced in the newest version of the film with something more like chain mail, and this made going to the bathroom no easy task.

Tight squeeze

In an interview with E! News, Cavill said: "There was no fly. There was no zipper. So it's just one of those things where you got to wait for the right time."

The actor reported that it took him about 25 minutes to get out of the newly resigned suit, time which can be hard to find on the set of the movie. Still, Cavill had no regrets about donning the costume, even with its inherent bathroom issues.

"It's a Superman suit and as much as it may feel uncomfortable at points, you get over it. You get to play Superman," said the actor.

The special privilege of playing one of America's most beloved and iconic action heroes seemed to be enough for Cavill to play through the pain. Though just wearing an inconvenient suit wasn't the only issue the actor ran into while playing the hero.

Cavill also had to go through a strenuous exercise regiments to become as muscular as audiences have come to expect Superman to be. He had to go through periods of gaining muscle and then becoming lean again very quickly, all of which he did in dedication to his role.

Feeling super

Cavill also described the first time that he put on the suit. He told ABC News that he felt "a genuine physical energy, almost visual energy, which [the suit] has."

Bathroom troubles aside, that's one fine way to feel when you put your work clothes on in the morning. Hopefully he didn't have too much trouble getting to the toilet. Cavill's costar, Russell Crowe, who plays the superhero's father, also had trouble going to the bathroom.

The movie premieres in American theaters on June 14, so be sure to watch and see if anyone on screen particularly looks like they need to pay a visit to the bathroom.

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Calf gets head stuck in abandoned toilet
Posted on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An unfortunate Australian calf has become something of an Internet celebrity after getting its head trapped in an unused toilet. The incident took place in Bringelly, New South Wales, when the bumbling bovine stuck its head into the abandoned commode while searching for a green pasture.

Safely removed

Luckily for everyone at the scene as well as the calf, the toilet was safely removed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the organization that was called after the calf's head remained lodged in the toilet for a few days. Residents had attempted to remove the toilet, which restricted the cow's ability to eat and move freely, but were not successful, as the distressed animal did its best to avoid them.

It seemed the toilet had been stationary for quite some time, as enough grass had grown through it to attract the young cow.

Donna Morgan, a local official, eventually was able to remove the toilet from around the cow with careful use of a saw after the animal was tranquilized. She said that the toilet was one of the strangest places she had ever heard of an animal getting stuck, according to the Southwest Advertiser. The animal, though it suffered from some minor irrational as a result of its stay in the toilet, is expected to make a full recovery.

"We believe that the toilet was left outside as rubbish and that the calf became stuck in the bowl by trying to eat the grass which had grown up through it," Morgan elaborated to the news source.

She used the situation as a prime example showcasing the importance of keeping the grazing and paddock areas of small farms free of debris. Items, such as toilets, can be harmful or potentially deadly to animals that may find themselves stuck.

An Internet celebrity

The cow's picture and story have been circulating around the Internet to great acclaim. The popularity of this odd choice of residence for an animal isn't uncommon either, as readers tend to love learning about creatures finding themselves in odd situations.

In addition, the cow has also been the target of many terrible puns published in reputable periodicals. The Telegraph gave the story the headline of "Poor smelly moo stuck in a loo​," while The Huffington Post wrote that "There's a calf in Australia who may be understandably flushed with embarrassment..."

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The water in public restroom toilets has been shown to have more bacteria than both the ice from restaurants and many handbags, according to new studies. The results are likely shocking to many readers, but, at least in the case of handbags, there are a few steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of bacteria present. In the case of the restaurants, it may be better to just skip the ice.

Neglected ice machines

British newspaper The Daily Mail recently conducted research on the top ten favorite U.K. fast food restaurants, and the findings were not pleasant. Ice and toilet water samples were taken from the restaurants and compared, revealing that locations of the fast food chains McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Cafe Rouge and Nando's all had disturbingly high levels of bacteria in the ice. A few of the samples were even high enough to be considered a hygiene risk, though they were not immediate health threats.

The findings were chalked up to the fact that the toilets were likely cleaned more often than the ice machines.

"It is easy to forget ice can carry bacteria because [restaurant workers] think it is too cold for germs, but that is far from the truth," Melody Greenwood, an employee of the Health Protection Agency, told the news source. 

Several of the restaurants claimed that they would revamp their cleaning procedures.

In the bags

In what may be a shocker to some, but old news for others, handbags also contained high levels of bacteria.

A report from Initial Washroom Hygiene, a company that manufactures various cleaning products, found that the handles of many ladies' bags had more bacteria than a typical toilet flush. Like the restaurant ice, this is most likely due to a lack of regular washing. A few other items also had high levels of bacteria that were found in bags, such as cell phones and hand cream dispensers.

Some of the blame falls on the material the bags are made of, which is often spongy enough to support bacteria, while other theories point to women leaving their bags on the bathroom floors and other dirty places. People should consider not leaving their bags on the ground and clean them every once in a while with a good, strong anti-bacterial wipe.

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Several new restaurants in London have gone down the toilet, but eager food fanatics still can't wait to get inside. These restaurants have capitalized on a new form of real estate in London, a city where space is at a premium.

Turning bathrooms into restaurants

When the prices go up, restaurateurs and other business owners must find new spaces. In London, there used to be many public underground toilets that have fallen into disrepair in the past decades. Many of these underground toilets have been decommissioned and are now available at bargain prices. 

Tom Sellers, a young chef growing in fame, will be opening one of the most anticipated restaurants of 2013 in a former bathroom. The new establishment, called Story, will serve a variety of gourmet foods in an area that used to be a public restroom. While it may seem odd, this practice has been growing in popularity.

Going with the flow

While Story isn't trying to play up its role as a former bathroom, one other restaurant has been embracing it. The Attendant, a play on the bathroom attendant, has taken its roots as a former public toilet to heart. The bathroom that the coffee shop is based on was first built in Victorian times in 1890. Co-owner and operator Pete Tomlinson decided to keep as many of the former vestiges as possible, including the urinals.

Each former bathroom stall has been converted into a seat for patrons, and vintage hand driers still hang on the wall. Though the space is underground, Tomlinson was undeterred by the lack of natural light, comparing his new establishment to a similar cafe that might be found in a mall.

"I think you will always get the odd person that is put off by that, but, again, that's why we had to work so hard to create and make it into something really exciting and nice," said Tomlinson, who is very excited a about his idea, according to CBS.

Similar properties have been selling in London recently as well. One former bathroom sold for nearly $1 million just for the space alone. Another was converted into an apartment. Even outside of the city, the trend is catching on: Many establishments have been opening underground all over England. With so many empty spaces underneath cities all over the world, it's a wonder people didn't start doing this earlier.

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Toilet accessories stolen from Brooklyn bathrooms
Posted on Monday, June 10, 2013

Two bars in Brooklyn, N.Y., experienced a rash of thefts involving items in their bathrooms. One bar had a high-end wooden toilet seat, arguably the best part of its bathroom facility, stolen during a busy night, while the other, a soccer-themed establishment, saw the disappearances of some of its trademark goal-shaped urinal cakes.

The first bar, called Lighthouse BK​, saw its wooden toilet seat disappear. No one noticed that the item went missing until the restaurant was being closed down for the night. Assaf and Naama Tamir, the brother and sister who own and operate the establishment, were baffled and confused when they saw that the item was missing. Other than wondering why the toilet seat was missing in the first place, they also wondered just how someone got it out the door without anyone noticing.

Assaf asked his sister if she knew about the missing toilet seat at the end of the night, but she had no idea. She told The Brooklyn Paper that the toilet was "was missing in action." Luckily, the small and questionable theft left the actual toilet undamaged, though there was certainly some psychological harm done. The staff of the restaurant was able to get a new seat installed before the dinner rush the next day, though this curious caper remains unsolved.

Banter Bar, the soccer-themed establishment, is no stranger to items walking out of the bathroom. Its goal-shaped urinal mints, meant to improve the air quality of the bar's bathrooms, have been stolen before. The devices cost about $20 and are mainly installed to give patrons the opportunity to have some fun while reliving themselves. Chris Keller, the owner of the bar, expressed confusion and frustration at the situation.

"We have to put in cameras and watch everybody pee," he said in an interview with the New York Daily News."What are you going to do with it? Who has a urinal in their apartment?"

One resident of the area, familiar with the bar's tendency to overflow with drunken soccer fans, said "That is so disgusting. It's very strange, but it seems to me like a typical soccer guy thing to do."

While no one knows why the cakes were stolen, the bar hopes that it won't happen again.

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Stolen fund raising toilet returned
Posted on Thursday, June 6, 2013

A purple toilet placed in people's yards as a fundraising tool and practical joke has been returned to its owners after a brief stint as a petunia planter. The toilet was being used by the Flushing Squad Relay for Life in Olean, N.Y., and was enjoying a successful run as a charity tool before it disappeared.

Traveling toilet

The toilet was used as a prop for the American Cancer Society to help raise money. For a donation, it could be placed in the yard of a friend or neighbor, and another donation would cause it to be moved once again, noted the Olean Times Herald. The purple toilet, which is non-functional, by the way, began its journey in the yard of Olean Mayor Linda Witte, who played along with the good-humored publicity stunt. The funds raised from the toilet were going to support the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life on June 15. For a while, the toilet traveled from yard to yard and the charity gained money, but then tragedy struck.

The toilet suddenly went missing. Many in the neighborhood suspected unruly teenagers to have taken or moved the purple toilet, but it turned out it to be a misunderstanding. A neighbor of someone hosting the toilet thought that the commode was a piece of abandoned construction equipment and knew exactly what it had to be used for: planting petunias. Unaware of his crime, the unidentified man kept about his business until news of the incident, reported widely in the town's newspapers and radio programs, reached him. He then returned the toilet and, given the nature of the unintentional crime, was pardoned by the mayor for his accidental theft.

Charity toilet

Using the purple toilet is one of many ways that the American Cancer Society recommends raising funds. According to the organization's website, "For $25 the Relay team will put a purple toilet on the yard of a person you choose. That person will then have the opportunity to 'flush' someone else ..." and so on down the line. Insurance for never getting the purple toilet is available as well for those who may not be as excited about the prospect. The site recommends the toilet as a great use for birthdays, anniversaries and for use as a fun gag gift any time of year. Understandably, the site also recommends leaving a letter explaining the toilet to the recipient.

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