Friday, June 23, 2006


Heads up - or down as the case may be.

It never ceases to amaze me how serious toilet issues are in some parts of the world. There is the Toilet Summit, the Dry Toilet Conference, National Toilet Repair Month, all apparantly a flushing success.

Obviously, toilets make for big business and some people take their bathrooms very seriously. In Singapore for example, which has a reputation for clean washrooms, fifty toilet cleaners have been upgraded to the (?)new position of "restroom specialist." In fact they will be taking a 3-day session for the cleaners after which they will be known to all as specialists.

This leads one to wonder (at least I do) what's involved in becoming a "specialist" and the content of the courses. One can only speculate of course:

- toilet brush swirling 101, where recruits will be taught how to grasp a toilet brush by the handle and instructed the correct way to clean bowls, counter-clockwise

- toilet seat 'damp washing' 104 where cleaners will be instructed to rinse their cloths under running (not dripping) water and ring them out 20 times (not 21 or 19) until it is classified as damp. Wet seats do not encourage comfortable usage

- toilet paper roll replacement 201 whereby recruits are instructed as to replacing toilet paper rolls with the end facing the wall. Always. Without exception.

- stall washing 306

There is no information regarding graduation ceremonies but word has it that the grads are flushing with pride.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


As a former dog owner whose pooch rarely listened to or obeyed commands, it suddenly occurred to me that the problem could have been a failure to communicate. Although it's a long shot since she wasn't the brightest spark in the universe, still it is a possibility.

Take the story of three police officers working out of Avon and Somerset who were forced to learn Dutch since the 3 dogs they recruited don't respond to English. Seems that the officers travelled to Holland to select the dogs, after being unable to find good quality animals in the U.K.

Now if I was a British canine, I would be furious and highly insulted! The inference as I view it is that British dogs aren't up to par when it comes to assisting in police work. This also leads one (me) to speculate as to how this "search" was conducted. Were ads placed in newspapers?

"Wanted. Three dogs. Must like cops. Reply to P.O.Box..."

Or maybe it was strictly a "do-you-know-anybody-that-has-a-large-ish-dog" type calls to friends.

I mean - c'mon! I absolutely refuse to believe that somewhere in Great Britain there aren't any German Shepherds that could fill the bill!

Anyway... There was a communication problem (to say the least) and dog handlers at the force's dog section in Bower, Ashton, Bristol have had to adapt. Their handlers who care for the Dutch dogs - two German Shepherds and a Malinoi - can now fluently communicate Dutch commands.

Wonder what the dutch word for fire hydrant is?

For a photo of the officer and his Dutch-speaking/barking colleague:

Saturday, June 10, 2006


"So what happened to you recently, Eleanor, that has you all worked up?" that you ask... It's restaurants that don't serve toast. Two slices of your plain, ordinary, run-of-the-mill toast.

I mean - is it a lot to ask?

Remember the film "Five Easy Pieces" when Jack Nicholson asks the waitress for toast and they have a short but oh so memorable discourse as to what she could do with her solution to the issue? I know where he was coming from!

It's 8 o'clock in the morning at a delicatessen style restaurant located in a major Lost Wages casino. Being that I'm not a big breakfast eater (not a good thing to be in a city that believes in over-size everything), I stick to toast and tea. Look up at the menu, spot toast and relate my order to the waitress. She stares back at me and there is this over-whelming sense that this simple word "toast" is gonna present a problem.

"Toast?" she responds as if it's a dirty word.

"Toast" I reply, "with strawberry jam but if you don't have strawberry, I'll settle for what you have."

"You just can't have toast," she tells me, matter-of-factly, as if she's used to telling people this for years.

"Why not?" I ask, wondering if they've run out of bread.

"Just toast?" she repeats again, as if she could have misunderstood the nature of my request.

"Just toast!" I emphasize the 'toast' for her edification.

"We don't serve just toast," she finally confesses.

I glance again at the menu. She turns to look at the menu.

"Says 'toast' right up there. See? Right next to the two eggs, bacon and sausages. Clear as day. Toast! That's what I want. And jam of course. Oh and with two pats of butter - or magarine."

There is silence between us for approximately five seconds as we stare at each other. It's a scene out of a western movie where the camera shows an extreme close up of eyes, squinting, in an attempt to indicate the internal resolve of the two gun fighters to win.

"You can't order toast," she says softly. "My boss told us we can't serve that anymore..."

"And why not?" I jump in.

"You hav'ta order a meal," she finally explains, like it's a big load off her mind. "Why don't you order the two egg any style special that comes with toast?"

"But I don't want eggs!" I state matter-of-factly, through clenched teeth. "All I want is two slices of white toast...lightly browned, with two pats of butter and jam. Period!"

There is yet another five seconds of silence between us.

" can always leave the eggs!" she suggests, as if she's come up with the perfect and logical solution to end world hunger.

There was a sense of defeat knowing that the waitress was just following her bosses orders and had no intention of disobeying them for me or anyone else. So I ordered a bagel---black seed, lightly-toasted with three pats of butter.

It's like life and whether or not you see the bagel or the hole - and picking black seeds out of your teeth all day.