Dadblasted American toilet strikes again

Last night I checked into my Hotel Room in Hong Kong. Upon opening the  bathroom door I noticed the dreaded brand name “AMERICAN STANDARD” on the porcelain. A quick look under the lid reveals my worst fears: An American style toilet. NOOOOO! God no! Not another one. I hate these things to the extent where my skin crawls just thinking about them. I’ve seen them in the USA, Canada and now Hong Kong.

How do you know you’ve got one? Easy. The waterline before flushing is high. Very high. Almost up to the brim of the bowl. On first sight one may think it’s blocked, but it’s not. They’re all like this.

Before I get bogged down with the details, let’s just take a few minutes to discuss the issues with such a hazardously high waterline:

Problem #1: Standing. Guys like to stand up while urinating and naturally this generates minor splashing. Because the bowl is always in a state of near overflowing, naturally some of that splash is going to leave the bowl and end up on either the urinator, or the floor.

Problem #2: Off-putting. Watching all of that water slowly turn *ahem* yellow isn’t exactly a good feeling. Aside from the obvious, you tend to sit there thinking about how you’re going to be forced to waste gallons of water after flushing, just to take a leak.

Problem #3: Sitting. Once again, this is a problem for guys. When you sit, things hang down. Water is down. Not nearly far enough down either. I’ve observed that the high tide line seems to vary from unit to unit. Sometimes you have a full inch of clearance, other times, nope.

Wait! I’ve barely started ranting about how incredibly freaking stupid these toilets are! Let’s move to the next area: The Flush.

The first flush of one of these is a real surprise. You thought you knew how a toilet was meant to flush, but no. These things have a dazzlingly complex flush process which simply blows the mind. Upon pressing the lever the following happens:

1: The Bowl begins to drain out of the incredibly tiny, easily blocked hole at the bottom, swirling either clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on which hemisphere you’re in.

2: As the bowl drains out some water starts to flow down from the sides. There also appears to be a “Jet” of clean water at the bottom pushing the dirty water out.

3: Once the bowl is fully drained it then begins to fill alllll the way up again.

Wow. Considering that the flush lever has no mechanical connection to the bowl. How the hell does all of that work? That is one hell of a feat of fluid dynamics. I’ve spent a lot of time studying these things trying to understand what on earth is going on during flush but remain stumped.

Because the design of these toilets is so incredibly braindead, they’re highly prone to both blocking and flooding. Lets imagine this scenario: You’ve just flushed it and weren’t happy that it all went down, so you hang around and let the Cistern half fill, then flush it again. Oops! Even though you haven’t blocked it, you now have a flood on your hands and you had better run as you’re about to be standing in toilet water. Because the design is so astoundingly crap, the “Jet” of water needs to be sufficiently strong in order to push the existing water out of the bottom of the bowl. Because the cistern was only half filled, the pressure was less. Your bowl is already full and now there’s another half a cistern full on the way with nowhere to go except around your feet. Now there’s a trail of loo water running out of the bathroom, under your Hotel room door and out into the hallway. Crap.

Blockages? You bet. The whole flushing mechanism is so astonishingly ineffective that almost nothing can be flushed down it without some level of blockage.

American Standard? They can keep it.

Darn those pesky digital cameras

After looking at this amusing page, I’m once again filled with the feeling that digital cameras *may* have actually ruined the original pleasures of the average snapshooter. Boy do we take a lot of crap photos these days or what? We don’t even have to care before we take a picture. Why even bother making an effort to make it look good, when this free media permits us to produce crap pictures all day without feeling bad about it?

There was once a time when we only had 36 shots on a roll, which cost us money each time we took one. We were forced to care about the pictures we took. The satisfaction was far greater when they turned out well, and the heartbreak far stronger when they flopped.

Maybe there’s no difference after all.

Evening with Trey Ratcliffe: Man behind the (HDR) empire

I recently turned up to a photowalk by the infamous Trey Ratcliffe (Seen here on the night) commander of the great stuckincustoms empire. His work attracts either adoration or disgust. Nothing in between. My opinion: Does it really matter what his style is? He’s got an army of many thousands of followers lining his pockets. He must be producing something worth looking at to achieve that kind of following. Who wouldn’t want that?

A nation in search of a new identity

For a long time now it has been apparent that New Zealand no longer wants to identify its self with the British and its monarchy. With years of mumblings about changing the flag and the odd murmur about becoming a republic, it appears that we are destined for change.

But what will our new identity be? To me it appears to be blunderingly obvious now: Sports. The other day I came across this article.  Yes, our planes are going to be ‘all black’, Just like our passports have recently become and our flag is likely to become in the near future. Notice the term I used there? “All black”. I don’t need to tiptoe around the matter of the All Blacks being our de-facto flag carrier (Air New Zealand is only playing second fiddle in this match) but where are they carrying that flag to?

I’ve lived in Europe for nearly 3 years now and one thing that could not be more apparent is this: No one cares about Rugby. Oh, wait, yes someone does care, A bunch of antipodeans in a Walkabout bar on a Saturday morning. Yes, sure, a lot of European countries have Rugby teams but really, no one watches it. It’s all about Football here (Or Soccer, whatever you may call it). I don’t even need to mention how insignificant Rugby is in the USA.

So it appears that we have chosen an identity that only matters in the antipodes (think Tri-Nations). Okay so we have some other sports teams too with “Black” in the name but no one outside of the antipodes has heard of them either. Oops. Why are we so worried about proving ourselves on the world stage by wholly and entirely branding ourselves with our sports teams? I don’t know. I understand the mentality but that doesn’t mean I agree with it.

Okay so all of this might be a bit cynical but I ask: Who was black first? The All Blacks of course.