How men should urinate in the bathroom

I find that generally, ladies’ bathrooms are cleaner than the men’s bathroom. Ladies’ bathrooms are also more crowded because women tend to chat and hang around in the bathroom, primping themselves, but men are very succinct when they do their business. Come in, do what you need to do, leave. Kind of like a commando raid.

However, I look at the floors in the men’s room and I usually feel ill. It’s a muddy collection of footsteps in yellow fluid.

At home, I like to keep the bathroom clean. I like the bathroom floor to be dry after I use the bathroom. My motto on bathroom use: “Cleaner than when you arrived” which roughly can be interpreted as, if one uses the bathroom, one should use it cleanly, in fact, the place should be cleaner and tidier than when you first arrived.

I keep the toilet seat down after I use it since I’m the only male in the house (two females, three, if you include our nanny who works days). Before we acquired our nanny, I spent last year cleaning our bathroom at least once every two weeks.

Muddy bathrooms are like itchy spots in the middle of your back. They are really hard to reach and they are incredibly irritating. I keep looking at the floor in angles, detecting puddles which are hard to see especially if it’s clean water. Muddy puddles are easier to see but since I want to practice prevention, if I see a muddy puddle it means I failed in being vigilant; I’d just stepped in a puddle, making the water muddy.

Men’s bathrooms are smelly, dirty and unhygienic solely because of the way our…equipment are designed. Many guys don’t realize it, but when they drizzle, there’s a little tinkling in the opposite direction. If they aren’t careful, they may have actually sprinkled on their pants already (but the urine spots are so few and small, they usually dry up and aren’t noticed).

In Indonesia, some urinals have become positively draconian. The management attached clear plastic shields that look like those bulletproof shields a machine gunner turret has, with a little notch that makes room for our equipment so that we will tinkle into the urinal, and not on to the floor. I think the measure is too much, but I do feel for these folks. I keep checking the floor in front of urinals for little yellow puddles and when I see spots I shoot a mental thought at the previous user, “Boor!”

The tiny backspray is almost undetectable because the man, from his point of view, can’t look under his equipment and see if his drizzle is spraying a little in the opposite direction. When men take out their little friend, the lips of the tip of their equipment are stuck together because for a long time it’s been stuck in the pants. When we urinate, the gummed up lips are like putting your hand in front of a garden hose: instead of a nice, clean, steady stream, the garden hose is spraying everywhere.

So it is with us when we tinkle.

I have a solution for this.

I like leaning forward when I tinkle, so that from the side, I’m a little like the bow of an archer. I try avoid touching the ceramic of the urinal or toilet so that it will not stain my pants (in case there are fluids or brown stains there). Then I grasp the head, and with my two pointing fingers, make my equipment talk. I mean, I widen the lips of the head to unstuck the lips. This helps reduce any backspray, and I can tinkle fairly assured I won’t wet my pants or spray on the floor.

Does it work? Well, after urinating, I check the front of my pants. They are dry. I check the floor for droplets. No drops. So far, the system works for me.

Be polite. Keep the men’s bathroom clean. Don’t wet your pants or piddle on the floor. Do a little ‘talking’ to make sure the little guy’s opening is free and clear to urinate.


Wanted: More Powerful, Efficient Robots

DARPA (the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) wants to make robots last longer (currently they can live 10-20 minutes without a power cord). This can be useful when sending robots in hazardous situations (like defusing bombs, rescuing people in a fire, cleaning up nuclear waste).

If you think even further, efficient, intelligent robots can free most people from jobs we don’t want to do, like menial, repetitive work, the kind that drives Foxconn employees to riot and commit suicide because of the subhuman conditions they have to endure manufacturing iPhones and iPads.

Hopefully, the unwanted labor can be shunted to robots, and people will be left doing creative and uplifting work, work people want to do, instead of work people have to do because they have to make a living to support themselves.

However, as any science-fiction enthusiast knows, the more powerful and intelligent we make robots, the more likely they can achieve sentience, which, to some people, makes them qualified for human rights. And their forced servitude, without compensation, will be tantamount to slavery. So naturally, we have to give them equal rights and citizenship, and all those robots will be competing with us for jobs (and they might be more tireless, powerful and efficient at it than us).

Leaving us again without anyone but ourselves to do the gruntwork.

TED Videos are a marketplace of ideas

Forget about HBO, or Hollywood, or Disney. I can live on a diet of TED videos 24/7 (and anime, let’s not forget anime).
What makes TED unique isn’t just the diversity of what it cover; it celebrates ideas, and all the ideas behind all human activities. TED celebrates the why. It’s standup for the intellectuals. And the intellectuals who have stood up for TED are deities, in my book. According to TED blogs, they have a new HD player. Now, you have material worthy of the retina screens in your new iPad and those new Macbooks, and the new Samsung and LG OLED screens when they become available.

Farewell to my students

Lego for Girls, Hacker-style!

Last year, Lego released the “Lego Friends” set, aimed at girls, to expand its market to the other 50% of the population. It was widely panned because its  concept of women were stereotypical. So one female hacker, Limor Fried, decided to make her own playset featuring herself in an open source hardware developer workshop. You can see the article here: Limor Fried’s Lego for Girls Playset.

If she gets 10,000 votes, Lego will produce her playset! So head on over to Lego Cuusoo to vote! Or, if you don’t like her idea of a girl’s playset, Lego challenges you to think of something that will stimulate the young minds of boys and girls!

The Science of Avengers

Did Avengers get the science right? Copernicus (aka Andy Howell, astrophysicist at UC Sta. Barbara) brings in a review of the Avengers from a scientist’s point of view. Avengers fares pretty good, actually, compared to other films (unlike his review of Star Trek, in which he points out several major mistakes no self-respecting science fiction movie with time travel and starships should make).

You can tell he’s a physicist, because he hardly covers the possibility of the Hulk (he just accepts it, on faith, like a priest) or of Captain America (He says it’s not interesting. Enhancing a human being is not as interesting as stars and black holes?).

He also doesn’t cover the SHIELD Helicarrier’s cloaking device. In James Bond’s “Tomorrow Never Dies” (who stole the idea from Masamune Shirow’s “Ghost in a Shell”, they use video cameras to project on an object what is behind it, theoretically rendering it invisible, but that doesn’t work well on moving objects or objects as large as an aircraft carrier. There are other possibilities I found in Wikipedia.

That still leaves a lot to Geek Out on, like the Cosmic Cube, Thor’s lightning striking Iron Man (Why should Stark be surprised? It’s a Faraday Cage!) and how much energy would it take to lift the Helicarrier?

Here are Copernicus’s reviews on the science of the Avengers:

The Science of The Avengers Part 1

The Science of the Avengers Part 2

The Science of Thor

and as a bonus, Copernicus also links to io9’s video on the possibilities of creating superheroes (the portion regarding genetics starts at 5:43 in the video):

io9’s The Science of the Avengers

Large Hadron Collider…in Lego!

I have seen many things in Lego. Batman, the entire Star Wars Saga, an inkjet printer (made by Google founder Larry Page). Well, if pop culture can be rendered in Lego, they might as well do something educational, hence the Large Hadron Collider!

Created by a physicist at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, Sascha Mehlhase spent $2,600 of customized bricks and 33 hours to assemble 9,500 bricks into a model of the ATLAS detector, one of the seven particle detectors in the LHC. The ATLAS detector is 25 meters in diameter. Its Lego counterpart is .6 meters tall. The scale is 1:50, or perfectly life-sized for a Lego figure.

Now, if only someone can render the entire 27 km length of the LHC in Lego.

The article is here and they apparently have more pictures here

While we are on the subject of Lego (can you sense that I have a lifelong love for this toy?) here are 6 inventions made of Lego that actually work! I see a twin-lens camera, a robot arm and a 3D milling machine. Go Lego!