Thursday, October 11, 2007

You're within the boundaries of Alabama!

Ladies, gentlemen, and that guy who lives across the corridor from me and stares at me as I leave for work every morning. This post has two parts to it. The first is... well, a post. Yet another piece of my random ramblings about something that popped into my head. The second part features The first ever Lord of the Things Contest. Here we go!

WARNING: This post deals with the same topic that this one dealt with - micturition. If you're mentally going, "Ewwwwww, yucky!" or are in general not comfortable with the topic, I would suggest not reading any further. Reading this post further, I mean; don't drop reading altogether. Feel free to read a novel or a newspaper, if you want. (Make believe worlds and
death/destruction/illogical politics are just so much better, aren't they?) And please do come back to my blog sometime in the not-too-distant future. If you were to boycott my blog altogether, I'd lose 20% of my readership. 25% if I don't count myself.

I'm sorry, I tend to get carried away.

REVISED WARNING: This post deals with urination. In some detail. If this pisses you off, tata bye bye have a nice day.

Men all over the world are faced with a perplexing problem - how exactly does one use a urinal? I've managed it fairly well for several years now, but what precisely is the technique? Where, in a urinal, does one aim? Into the back wall or into the base? And how, by GOD, does one avoid splashing? (Especially onto 65-35 polywool mix formal pants where the droplets just stay on top and don't soak through yet refuse to be wiped away, leaving a faint yet unsettling smell... a friend's experience, of course, not mine. Definitely not mine.)

These are critical issues, ones that we men worry about day after day. Social ettiquette restricts us from sharing our anguish, so we cover our crippling anxiety and insecurity by loudly cracking crude jokes about farting and the human anatomy.

<- SIDELINE: Bilingual Adult Joke ->
Courtesy Dbabble. If I find out who posted it, I'll let you know.
NB: If you don't know German, ask someone to translate. Or try this.
A lady is walking down a dark street in Berlin. Suddenly, a man jumps out of an alleyway, wearing nothing but a long trench coat. He whips it open in a single fluid moment.

"Eww! That's gross!" says the lady. And the man smiles broadly and replies, "Thanks!"

<- End of Sideline ->

Back to my rant about urinals.

Anybody who has spent a fair amount of time in front of one or more urinals will appreciate some fundamental facts about their design. The designers seem to have had the right idea - the walls of the urinal are curved in a manner that any liquid hitting it should experience streamlined/laminar flow, thereby gracefully flowing down the wall and into the drain. Logical? Yes. Except that it doesn't work! Time and again, at over 50 cities in more than 15 countries all over the world, my friend has been experienced the splashback effect.

What makes the situation worse is the cumulative effect of several users being splashed. User 1 does his job, gets splashed, and thereby leaves a little memory of his visit on the ground in front of the urinal. Unhygienic and selfish chap that he his, he doesn't wipe it up or assumes others will either
a. Appreciate and enjoy this spontaneous, brotherly sharing of body fluids
b. Mistake it for a part of the floor pattern

User 2, naturally, can't be expected to clean up after User 1 (unless it's his job to do so - but let's leave such complications out of the story). User 2, now has to take aim from further back. As one can imagine, this does not help the situation. User 3 and User 4 follow suit. While some like yours truly are comfortable with and can handle the distance, not all are as gifted, leading to one heck of a mess. All of which could have been avoided if only the urinal didn't splash so to begin with.

If you're looking for alternatives, check out this patented Anti-Splashback design. I'm sure it's very scientific and all that, but the thought of peeing into something that looks remarkably like a human ear gives me the shivers. And if it were to give me the shivers during the act itself, well... so much for the objective of an anti-splash session.

One design that I would like to see more of is a Saxophone-like one. Just look at the structure... isn't it perfect?


Apologies to Mahesh - he loves his sax


Peeing down rather than straight (or up), and having it conveyed further away from you is sure to minimize the splash. Plus it's less icky to consider peeing into a musical instrument than into someone's ear. (Unless you're the kind of person who likes indulging in that sort of thing. Again, let's leave such complications out of consideration.)

The chaps who designed the urinals at Schipol airport in Amsterdam came up with a cool way of attacking the problem - make the pee-er pee properly! Each urinal has a fly drawn on it. Yes, a fly. And no, I'm not going to crack a joke about the appropriateness of this in the current context. I'm guessing any guy coming up there would see the fly and think, "Harrrumph! Let's see if I can get the b@#$@%!" and proceed to aim straight at that spot. I know I probably would. It's a guy thing. Why restrict oneself to just urinating when one can urinate and make a sport of it? Anyways, I'm guessing that achieves two things
a. You're shooting at the best point, from an engineering/fluid mechanics point of view, in the curvature (locus, focus... there's some technical term that's relevant here) to get minimum splash.
b. You're concentrating on ensuring a steady stream, minimizing the human tendency to be wayward and somewhat directionless when not having much to think about.

It's high time the world woke up to the problems half it's population faces thanks to either lousy design of urinals or inadequate training/awareness of how to use them. And it's high time we stopped focusing on making peeing more pleasureable and concentrated on making it more efficient.

My limited research on the topic (Google gives 2,040,000 search results for 'How to use a urinal', including this very useful beginners' guide) doesn't seem to provide any definitive answers in the context of splashing... I'd welcome your inputs on this critical issue. (I would have called it a burning issue, but then we all know that can be treated with medication.)

The first Lord of the Things Contest

It gives me great pleasure to announce The first ever Lord of the Things Contest. If you've actually suffered through the entire post above, you truly deserve to participate in this contest.

Question: What's the funda behind the title of the post?

Post your answers as comments. The first person with the correct answer wins!

I haven't decided what the prize will be, but depending on your age, gender and sexual orientation, you could be the proud recipient of a Genuine AC/Kaka branded passionate kiss or enthusiastic high five. At the very least, I'll feature your blog's link prominently on my blog (yeah right, like that's going to increase your traffic!)

(Disclaimer: Prizes could vary considerably from how cool and/or desirable you imagine them to be.)

Hap-pee?

12 comments:

Hcl-Get said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
praveen said...

The above post is from yours truly...

Praveen

praveen said...

Oh sorry dude The comment posted above is meant for different blog...here is my shot for your post ..Take it

I think you are pointing your fingers to this case

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=485&invol=88&friend=usatoday


I hope the prize will not be anything near to urinal or things relating to it...

What a tough contest....
Derek O'Brien should contact you at the earliest

AC said...

Huh?! No way, this is nowehere near as complicated or involved as that! I'm a simple guy with a twisted mind... a litle lateral thinking is all that's required!

And please... not Derek!

Arjun/Srikrishnan Ganesan said...

ur(You're)+in+AL(alabama)=urinal
HA

No hug or kiss. thanks!! you can give the gift to Ranga - who will happily accept it on my behalf

GB Rocks

Anonymous said...

Ewwwww..yuck, but LOL - Nandu ( the things sisters do for brothers! )

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chaim said...

Oh, man. This was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. I laughed out loud repeatedly.

I am not sure how to solve this problem, but it's one that has given me pause on several occasions.

Here in the states, one can occasionally find trough-style urinals at baseball parks and older concert venues. These are long troughs at which, well... multiple men stand at together and pee in in unison. It does not offer the privacy of a urinal, but it also does not create the splashing problem.

Unfortunately, any anti-splashing design is unlikely to be adopted quickly and/or on a wide scale due to the cost associated with replacing the millions and millions of fixtures.

And, I'd also like to add that no matter how ingenious a design might be, nothing will prevent the male public from peeing on the floor in public restrooms. The problem has almost as much to do with aim and intent as it does with design.

AC said...

GB does rock! Congrats! I guess you had the advantage of knowing through close experience how my twisted mind works :)

AC said...

Chaim, it should be possible to have the trough style urinals, but with partition stubs as in normal urinals to provide privacy, right?

And I agree completely with you on the other two points - adopting any new design is likely to be a loooong and expensive task which the people in charge would rather not undertake unless asolutely forced to. And that requires concentrated efforts from all us males. We must wake up to the fact that splashing isn't helping anybody (except bloggers with time on the hands!) and must unite to fight for better urinals!

But yeah, at the end of the day, men will be men :)

Abhi! said...

Damn. I figured the funda but too late to comment. GB dog!

AC said...

:)