Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Talk about bad luck.

Most people or let's say a lot of people anyway, are buried in a traditional manner, traditional being coffin in the ground or cremation. However, there are those among us who opt for whatever reasons to be cryogenically frozen in anticipation that science will find a way to revive them and they will live on. Why one would want to live on after living a full life i.e. well into one's senior years, is worthy of a thought of two but anyway...

So in France two founders of the cryonic movement, a married couple, opt to have their bodies frozen after death in a freezer. They die and as requested their son respects their wishes and for twenty-two years, they are kept frozen stiff (in the true sense of the word) in a freezer. There is no information provided in which section they were stored but anyway...

Somehow the freezer broke down - maybe wear-and-tear...who knows and we're all aware of what happens when you defrost frozen things. Once the internal temperature of the freezer rose to above the desired temperature level of -65C (85F), the son opted to cremate the couple. The husband who died of a stroke at the ripe old age of 84, was a doctor and spent decades anticipating his death, believing that if he was frozen and preserved, scientists would be able to bring him back to life by 2050.

Let's say for argument's sake that this was possible and plausible in that cryogenics and futuristic medicine would allow people to continue their life span. What quality of life would he (and his wife) have had coming back to life at 84? Why would anyone want to?

It's one thing to preserve a wedding bouquet but I'll pass on being put on ice.


Sunday, March 26, 2006


Everyone uses the bathroom facilities and although there's no strict rules of conduct as such, the World Toilet Organization based in Singapore, has drawn up some toilet etiquette to help people conduct themselves in a socially acceptable manner.

For the record and for people interested in this area, the WTO's activities include:
- Research & development (i.e. Benchmark Toilet Research, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore)
- Conferences (i.e. World Toilet Summit, World Toilet Forum & Expo)
Training academy (i.e. World Toilet College)
- World Toilet Day, 19 November of each year
- Emergency Disaster projects (i.e. tsunami affected areas of India / Sri Lanka etc)

According to the organization in as far as using public bathrooms, maintenance and cleanliness must be upheld to encourage people to use them. In fact to encourage proper usage the group has provided some guidelines.

"Do not flick water on the floor after washing your hands. Instead, dry them with the hand dryer or hand towel available."
Problem is many of us upon discovering the paper towel dispenser empty and the hand dryer not working are guilty of flicking and/or shaking, which frequently results in the 'wipe-them-on-the-clothes' action. However, flicking is definitely the better option since a flick makes less mess but relegating to flicking in the sink is even better.

"Flush the toilet thoroughly after use."
The suggestiion is for "full flushes" and not a quicky-'half-flush' to eliminate the dreaded, "re-appearance"

"A hand basin is only meant for hand washing. Thus, it shouldn’t be used to wash other materials."
In other words - it is not recommended to use the sink to do the family wash after returning from a week camping trip in the wilderness. Mind you, I don't think anyone would object to a quick rinse of a bra...or a pair of socks...a dish or two... You know - light stuff.

"When using the toilet paper, just pull the exact pieces so that they would not litter the floor."
This is a little tricky and requires some mathematical skills and calculations. Would one sheet suffice after a meal at a Mexican restaurant? What about those that stick to the bottom of a shoe? Do they count?

"Vandalism is a common problem in public toilets and it often makes the toilets appear unsightly. Thus, one shouldn’t vandalize the toilets and should uphold the clean image."
This means none of that "for a good time, call Cindylou" messages.

"For guys using the toilets, do aim properly at the urinal so as not to dirty the floor."
Where else does one aim? On the ceiling?

"Ladies should not set their foot on any part of the toilet bowl so that the toilet bowl will remain clean for the next user."
Does this mean inside the bowl? I mean, why would a female (or male for that matter) want to insert a foot in toilet water? Maybe what is meant is to stand on the seat to ask a person on the outside to pass a sheet or two (but no more now!) in cases of an empty dispenser or empty toilet roll. How is it that there is no mention of this in their toilet update?

"Do not choke the toilet bowl or the hand-washing basin. They are only used for their purposes and not the other reasons."
Choke the toilet bowl? As in putting my hands around the pipes and telling it: "you are a baaaad toilet bowl!" I have to admit to hitting the soap dispenser on occasion in an attempt to extricate some liquid but I've never really felt the urge to do anything violent to the sink.

Now you all know how to act properly while in a public bathroom. Pass it on.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Don't even bother asking me how I come accross these stories. I just do. Let's just say that I scan through a lot of newspapers from around the world to seek out the "unusual" aspect of a story. It has to be noted though - well it doesn't have to but it is weird - that my searches seem to flush out toilet stories.

This story caught my eye since it involves the elimination of public toilets due to monetary considerations. In other words, their funding got cut back to the easiest place to make cuts is in the elimination of toilets! I mean, who's going to care? Upwards of a million toilet users a year - that's who! How can one put a price on the anxiety of seeking out a toilet on a full bladder?

Anyway, negociations are still on going to find a solution. Solution??? Just open up the toilets, people!


Saturday, March 18, 2006


Once again I'm angst-ing bordering on hyperventilating. The cause of my anxiety is bees. Not just any bees but African Killer Bees that are slowly making their presence felt in North America.

I've been keeping track of their slow but sure migration since first reading about them in the 1960's. These are bees with a big - accent on the big - attitude. Look at them the wrong way and they attack in a swarm.

In the way of background information a while back in 1957, twenty-six queens of a particularly mean race of honeybees originating from Africa, escaped from the site of a genetics experiment in Brazil. The bees were part of a scientific experiment to cross breed the angry bees with your subdued, ‘you-don’t-bother-me, I-won’t-bother-you’ domestic bee types to see if they would produce more honey. More honey, ergo, bigger profits. As is the case in many scientific experiments, things got out of hand and the mean bees known as apis mellifera adansonii, have been making their presence felt…in a big way.

Over the years there have been reports of their arrival at the Texas/Mexico border and there are reports of them in California. Having watched the movie, "The Swarm" featuring their arrival and impact on your average every day people, I knew there could be trouble ahead.

The latest buzz is they're heeeeere and are making their presence felt this year in Florida. I mean, in Florida for heaven's sake where people go for their winter escape and to relax on sandy beaches! So far and according to what I've read the baaaad bees can be calmed by smoke. There is always the question or issue of who in their right mind would smoke them out? They are also known to swarm only when crowded. How do these bees define crowded? One person standing directly in front of them?

There are some studies that indicate the Brazillian interlopers hate high pitched sounds. Now this could be their downfall. Perhaps - just perharps - they could be controlled with...say...heavy metal music and bands! Or even better, playing Barry Manilow songs in the vicinity of a known hive! One full dose of "Mandy" and they could be gone forever!

Word has it that they can't stand cold weather. I know exactly where they're coming from. Amazing how our typical Canadian winter that lasts six months of the year is looking better and better.

Monday, March 13, 2006


In Lahore you don't tell anyone to go fly a kite anymore.

They've banned kite flying in Lahore, Pakistan. It's kind of a downer for the Lahorians since it's Spring festival time there and they celebrate the season of re-birth with a kite flying festival. I mean, what's a kite flying festival without...kites? It's an enforceable law and local police arrested 800 people over three days. For their own safety, of course.

While kite flying might seem like a passive, fun activity, it appears that it has caused a number of deaths due to kite strings being re-inforced with wire or glass fibre. I mean - since when did kite flying turn into a deadly sport? What happened to plain, old string? There are always a few people that spoil it for the masses. Some avid kite flyers strengthen their kite strings prior to dueling(?) with opponents in a game that requires cutting another's kite string. Furthermore, more than a thousand people were detained for the infraction of flying their kite, while others were arrested for firing celebratory gunshots into the air and playing loud music.

Gun shots? As in owning fire arms? Real bullets that can kill people?

One wonders how the police would react to a youngster flying a string version.

"Hey sonny girl/boy - you stop that illegal and banned activity right this minute!" a police officer would tell a kindergarten girl/boy who was flying a home-made kite, "or we're going to have to make an arrest!"

The zealous police officer who would be doing her/his job and following the letter of the law, would probably grab the kite out of the youngster's hands at which point the kid would probably break down sobbing her/his heart out.

"Do not cry, child,", the officer who might be experiencing pangs of guilt would probably attempt to calm the probably hysterical child, "you do not want to be arrested, do you? We would have to take you away to jail in handcuffs..."

At that point to make the child understand the gravity of her/his offensive act, the officer would whip out a set of cuffs and dangle them in front of the child.

"Then you would have to be finger printed and held in a waiting cell with lots of baaaaad people until your parents came to bail you out. You wouldn't want that, would you? Of course not and that is why we have to take your kite away from you."

The festival by the way has been celebrated for centuries with kite flying and roof top parties.

Seems to me that there should be a provision in their law whereby kites be classified as dangerous or an innocent children's diversion.

Talk about taking the joy out of what is and/or could be a fun activity...

Friday, March 10, 2006


Ever dreamed of owning a castle? You know…drawbridge, tower, turret, a moat…the usual castle-y stuff. There’s one for sale for people willing to do a little home renovation. Correction: a lot of renovation.

However, the castle in question, Llanwit Major Castle located in southern Wales, needs some work.

A lot of work.

The perk to owning this castle is it’s ready to move in. In fact nobody has lived in there since the 18th century, which means that there’s wall-to-wall dust bunnies, everywhere. Could also be a dampness and mildew problem too since it no longer has any roof and some of the walls are worn away, which would present a problem for painting and wallpapering.

Other than that – it’s a handyman’s fixer-upper!

The new tenant should also be aware that the castle is protected by law and its owner would be required to apply for Scheduled Monument Consent from the Welsh Assembly before starting the repairs. This seems like a reasonable request since it just wouldn’t be proper to add – let’s say – an awning for the tower. Or enlarge the moat and turn it into an in ground pool for summer parties and barbeques. Chances are the Council wouldn’t agree to turning it into a theme park, either, although this idea does have some merit. Boat trips around the moat…bungee jumping from the turret…lots of promise there.

One last thing and it’s a minor inconvenience really, but the castle is reputed to be haunted but given the repair challenge, that’s a minor problem.
The castle is expected to bring in between 5,000 and 15,000 pounds, or $10,000 and $30,000 at auction, a veritable steal! Has Donald Trump heard about this?

Sunday, March 05, 2006


So tonight is the Academy Awards. Can’t speak for others but this annual event is a two bags of micro-waved popcorn event in our household. Depending on how boring the show is we might indulge in a glass of wine at some point, which begs the question as to whether red or white wine would go better with popcorn. Perhaps a Zinfandel…or a Chardonnay…

Anyway, the real problem is what to wear for the gala affair. Somehow, jeans and a tee shirt just don’t seem appropriate given the formality of the occasion.

The really big issue for me, anyway, is whether to watch the show live or tape it since there is a special with Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS. For the uninitiated Dr. Dyer is an inspirational speaker and a personal favorite of mine. However, if I don’t watch the award show live, then I’ll end up reading the results in the morning newspaper and the surprise element will be gone. Not to be overlooked is the excitement of passing judgment on the various stars and rating their choice of gowns/designers that require live commentary.
Decisions, decisions…

As a writer who wrote a film script a while back that is gathering dust on a shelf, I’ve always pictured myself in the audience, dressed in a stunning one-of-a-kind designer dress. My hair of course would be perfect as would my makeup. Perhaps my image will be broadcast accross the world when they pan the audience. Of course I would wave and throw a kiss to people back home.

I’ve also wondered what happens when one has to answer ‘nature’s call’? Can one just get up and leave? Or, perhaps one raises or waves one’s hand and tries to get the attention of a passing usher. What happens if there is no usher around? Are there bathroom contingency plans for bathroom emergencies like a full bladder or loose stomach?

Like many people… Okay some people, I’m directionally-challenged. What happens if one goes to the bathroom and can’t find one’s seat again? Does one just keep wandering around aimlessly asking people the location of one’s seat location?
Perhaps under certain circumstances such as having to use the bathroom, the show organizers keep a few spare seats in case people lose their way.

And that’s why I’ll probably never attend the Academy Awards in person: bathroom issues.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


So how's the bathroom these days? Is it sweet smelling? Sparkling clean? Soap bar perhaps a bit grimey? Dust bunnies in the corner or under the tank?

For most people keeping their bathroom clean while important for hygienic purposes, isn’t something that keeps them awake at night with worry. However for businesses attempting to take home the first (and only) prize plus entry in “America's Best Restroom Hall of Fame,” there’s no compromising when it comes to keeping their toilet a flush above the rest. Some would even go as far to say the challenge bowls them over.

A bathroom supply company is sponsoring an on-line poll to seek out the cleanest bathroom in the U.S. They’ve narrowed it down to five bathrooms located in a Rhode Island seafood house, a Michigan bistro, a New Jersey casino, an Illinois airport and an Ohio restaurant.

Sponsored by a company who just happens to be a manufacturer of restroom supplies, the contest was initiated to spotlight businesses that kept “exceptional hygiene with style” in their toilet bowls.

Seems that the organizers do research but don’t actually try out, presumably as in sit on the nominated seats or perform a finger test, before narrowing it down to the five for the on-line poll. It would be too difficult since nominations can and are made by anyone.

It could be a big job if you'll excuse the pun.

The nominees, probably flushing with pride, submit photos and information about their business, after which the photos are posted on the sponsoring company’s web site. Presumably, there will be no photographic images of soiled toilet paper on the floor or close ups of stall doors containing messages like “For a good time, call …”

Perhaps the organizers might consider expanding this challenge to Europe where some "facilities" are relegated to a small drain in a cement floor, period. Another addition worth considering for organizers is the addition of a golden plunger, as an added incentive.

If I sound a little anal regarding bathroom facilities, blame France for traumatizing me possibly for life. A recent visit to that beautiful country with its delicious baguette and scrumptious food caused some over-eating at a small and quaint bistro and a trip to la toilette. It was the type of bistro advertised in those colorful travel folders with a serving bar and small tables with white tablecloths. Strolling through the bathroom door it was obvious immediately that something was amiss: there were no toilets! Assuming perhaps that I had entered the wrong door, I exited and verified that there was indeed a drawing of a lady. Once that was established I re-entered and made a complete circle of the room. A few times. Many, many times but no toilette. Instead the room was wall-to-wall tiles with a slight slope in the middle and a small drain. Once again exiting the door and cornering the waitress , I enquired as to "ou est la toilette?", she pointed to the door I had exited. Using the Stanislavsky method to communicate, I shrugged my shoulders a few times and pointed to the door.

"No bathroom-o" I told her. "You know...'le pee-pee' room?'

Finally, upon realizing my desperate situation since I was twisting my legs and hopping up and down while talking, she motioned me to follow her and together took a promenade down the street about a half a block to yet another restaurant operated by the same owner of the bistro that had a "real" bathroom with real toilet.

By the way the winner, which will be chosen in April, gets a plaque with the title of “"America's Best Restroom Hall of Fame."

Have they heard about this in France, yet?