Peru Poo Two

Peru Poo Two

OCTOBER 8TH
This is one of the other bathrooms in the apartment we stayed in. As you can perhaps see despite my inferior photography skills, it was substantially nicer than mine. Still, given that I had needed to unblock the loo, it was probably better that my bathroom was in an out-of-the-way corner of the apartment.
Interestingly, the flush on this was different to that in what I shall perhaps overly-affectionately refer to as “my bathroom”. The latter was similar to what we are familiar with, with a flush from just under the rim of the bowl, whereas this one pushes the jet of water from the bottom of the bowl. Further, there was no set amount of water per flush – it stopped as soon as you stopped pressing the handle. I did not try to see what would happen if I kept the handle pressed until the toilet overflowed. This system has the advantage that it seems a little better at moving along whatever is lurking at the bottom of the bowl, but it seems incapable of dealing with that last little sheet of paper that remains floating on the water’s surface.

This toilet was located at a bus station in Lima, and damned right I wanted to use it before embarking on an 18 hour bus trip to Arequipa. It wasn’t a particularly glamorous toilet – no hook to hang my coat on, for example – but nevertheless, there was a queue, which moved along pretty speedily.
Apparently, you are supposed to bin toilet paper in Peru, rather than flush it. See how this diagram conveniently exhibits both methods. The claim is that Peruvian toilets and sewage system can’t handle the toilet paper, but I don’t believe that, and will continue to flush.
Binning toilet paper is all well and good if you’ve only used it to dab yourself dry, or to wipe after a dry and traceless shite, but if you have a runny-stool-covered quarter roll of paper, no one’s going to want to have to sit beside that stewing in a bin beside them.
I stumbled across this impressive site which lists what one ought to do with one’s used toilet paper in every country of the world.

The toilet on the bus was not actually so bad – rather like an airplane toilet. Fortunately, I chose a moment when the bus was stopped at a light or something to make a pee, because the journey was not smooth, and I nearly fell down the aisle when the bus took off again as I exited the bathroom. I do not know how others managed to stand straight enough to urinate into the tiny toilet. It was requested that the loo only be used for urination, but with our seats at the very back of the bus, beside the loos, we were fairly certain this was not adhered to.

This next loo was in the bus station in Arequipa. You can actually see some of my pee there in the urinal. I didn’t particularly think you’d want to see that, but there was no obvious flush mechanism. Who knows, perhaps this will help us break into the German market.

We made our way to our apartment, and were greeted by this rather decorated toilet. Obviously I blocked it. I think if I ever design a toilet, it will feature some sort of bar or blade above the waterline, so that any particularly large stools will be split in twain on the way down, and will then flush easier. It would also diminish splashback. This toilet was not so difficult to unblock – a couple of bins full of water (the only convenient receptacle I could find was the bin in the bathroom), the blockage finally made its way onward toward the local river, or the water supply or whatever. The inconvenience of dealing with the blockage was not great, though I did feel some guilt over all the water I was using, in this sun-scorched, arid town. Still, needs must…

Anyway, I fortunately subsequently contracted diarrhoea, so the toilet has not been blocked by any of my many subsequent visits. I was laughed at for packing a roll of toilet paper in my luggage, since everywhere we would stay would have some, but it has come in useful. I also purchased some baby cream in a local supermarket to aid with absterging. At least, it seems to be like baby cream which is suitable for arse-wiping. With unfamiliar names and an unfamiliar language, I could not be entirely certain what manner of unguent I was buying to apply to my anus – a dangerous enterprise. I first tested some on the skin of my arm, and suffered no disastrous consequences, and it is now some eight hours since I first applied the lotion to my arse and I am not yet in agony, so I remain cautiously optimistic in that regard.
The diarrhoea inspires less optimism – I have decided to bail on the rafting trip down the Chili river which we have booked for this afternoon, and it remains to be seen what happens tomorrow, when we are due to take a 10-hour bus-trip to the city of Cusco, with its promises of altitude sickness. If the diarrhoea has not cleared, I fear I may have to opt to stay in Arequipa for the week, leaving my brother and father to go on ahead, and foregoing my chance to see Macchu Pichu.

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Peeing on Three Continents.

Peeing on Three Continents.

OCTOBER 1ST
I peed on three continents today.* It all started with a bleary-eyed piss in the disabled toilet of the Galway Coach station. I like the toilets there – they are relatively clean and, presumably correlated, accessible only through a 40cent turnstile, keeping out the proletariat. The regular coin-accessible toilets were closed for cleaning, however, meaning I had bought a bottle of Sprite for change and for naught.

Upon exiting the bathroom, I stumbled onto a bus and ended up in Dublin Airport. They had a toilet there too, so I peed in it. It was an underwhelming experience. That isn’t even my poop smeared on the bottom of the toilet bowl. The first soap dispenser, tap, and hand-drier all failed to work, but not in any spectacularly dramatic or entertaining fashion.
Inspired by a tweet** from the wonderful Hannah Fry, I did download the BBC Four Pandemic app, which sought to study how quickly a virulent disease might spread. To do my part, I promptly boarded a flight to Peru, via Canada.

I refrained from using the facilities on board either plane, because I was trying to remain hydrated. I do not know if that is how hydration works. I wish I had studied a more practical science than maths. Some of these equations would be significantly more useful if you knew what values the variables represented.
The first public bathroom in Toronto I tried to use seemed to adhere to America’s policy that cubicles in public bathrooms need to be very public indeed – a regulated minimum of a two-inch gap between the door and its frame, so that you can see if the person using the toilet before you is circumsized, and walls that begin at the knee, so you can show off your new shoes to the entire row of cubicles.
The second bathroom was better – note the proper wall, and the rail for parkour.

Eventually, my father, my brother and I made it to our lovely Airbnb in Lima. Here is one of the three bathrooms:

It was a little small, and lacked a sink, but it was the one beside my bedroom. Sadly, after over a day’s travelling, it was unable to meet my demands, and so, very sleep-deprived, I found myself faced with an issue even Your Man on the Can’s How to Unblock a Toilet‘s recommended first course of action was unable to rectify. In the end, I added some warm water*** to soften the stool overnight. In such instances, a little dish-washing liquid can sometimes help to lubricate the sides of the bowl, but in the event that a caretaker or plumber had needed to called, I didn’t want to risk having to explain, without any Spanish, why the blocked toilet was full of suds.
In the morning, it still would not flush, so I found something long and disposable (an empty kitchen roll holder) and broke up the blockage therewith. That did the trick, and the toilet flushed without further ado.

When my father noticed what I was doing, he advised that, in future, using some of those antibacterial baby wipes, as opposed to normal toilet tissue, would reduce the quantity of paper needed, and thus reduce the likelihood of blockage. Of course, I already knew this, and it had not been the paper causing the blockage, but it was good to hear that the apple had not fallen so very far from the tree.

Somewhat related – if any of you have somehow not yet come across the fantastic Bristol Stool Scale story, I highly recommend, without even a hint of reservation:
A Daily Mail article.

 

Love,

Your Man on the Can

Addendum:
The Pandemic app’s “survey” was uninspiring, though I am curious to see what results are yielded. Most disappointing of all, perhaps, was that the “Distance travelled” options only ranged up as far as “100+ km”. What a waste of an almost 12000 kilometre trip! ūüė¶

 

*I am relieved that I had no cause to use an incontinence pun there.
**A message posted to all of one’s followers on the social media site “Twitter” – a bizarre platform which somehow managed to survive and maintain popularity from 2006 to 2019, despite its sole “advantage” being an imposed 140-character text limit, which the majority of its users circumvented by posting multiple messages at once, or half an unhelpful sentence followed by a hyperlink. It served as a useful source of anti-epigrams and a soapbox for infinitely-recycled opinion on the one topical news item du jour.
***Closer to boiling than is recommended, in fact, but I added it very slowly and carefully so as not to risk cracking the ceramic.

 

 

Eco… eco…… eco…………

Eco… eco…… eco…………

Okay, so the log of the American trip fell through, but that was largely because I failed to stay regular, and then just lost momentum. Henceforth, I shall aim to make one deposit here a week. Largely because I’m putting in a serious effort to get rid of these Knight’s Atari t-shirts, and I want there to be something relatively recent on the site. Would you like a tshirt? Write us an article or do us a doodle or something.

Anyway, this weekend just gone, I stayed in a small ecovillage in Tipperary. It takes four trains to get there from Galway, where I live, so it’s not somewhere you’d just pop by. My reason for being there was that Knight’s Atari’s very own Jorge, of “Cooking with Jorge” infamy, was getting married to a lovely lass, from whom Jorge is probably keen to hide Knight’s Atari’s existence. The wedding was lovely, went with only one major hitch, etc. More importantly, there was a compost toilet in the ecovillage. I didn’t use it, because I had a perfectly satisfactory loo in my room, which had this amusing poster on the door:

However, I thought that you, dear reader, might be interested in the composting toilet. It was located far away from any dwelling, probably with good reason. There were a stack of black bags behind the shed – presumably full of “compost”, but I did not venture close enough to confirm that. The idea behind composting toilets is, for those of you with little imagination, to indirectly recycle your poop into food. Humus, specifically. So if you think that stuff people dip their carrots in tastes like crap, you could be right. Composting toilets generally use very little water, which is important in places where water is scarce, like Ireland. An average toilet flush uses about six litres of water, and involves passing along an intricate system of sewers and pipes like Super Mario, before finally being flung out into the sea. So there is certainly some logic to instead storing your poop in a bag and using it to fertilize your lawn.
                                                                                                  
This particular composting toilet was of the sawdust variety – where you add sawdust to your deposit to help aerate the store, increase the carbon to nitrogen ratio, and reduce potential odor. There was, indeed, no smell in the loo, though I suspect this was more through a lack of use than anything else. I would imagine the novelty of a composting toilet wears off fairly rapidly, and then you end up using it just to make a point. And personally, whenever I try to bring a political agenda into my defecation, I find it detracts from the relaxation of mind and sphincter that should generally be associated with pooping. Some people seem to persevere though.

                                                                                       
So the floor is dusty and covered in sawdust, but the facility seems relatively hygienic apart from the lack of soap and a sink, and apparently an occasional lack of toilet paper. They have also helpfully nailed the toilet seat shut, because we’ve all had those days, when you’re genuinely concerned about whatever you’ve just dropped down the toilet trying to crawl back out.
                                                                                                
Just as I was exiting the facility, I decided to take a peek behind the door, and what did I see?

Another toilet!
Sitting directly facing the other one. While there is a small chance that they only have one toilet available for use at a time, to allow the compost room to breathe, or that the two toilets can perhaps be used simultaneously as urinals, it is far more entertaining to imagine two dedicated ecovillagers sitting there, staring into each other’s eyes as they did their bit for the environment. That requires true devotion. I have given it some thought, and I cannot think of one person with whom I would wish to be in that situation – not even ScarJo* or Stevie Wonder**. Who would you sit and shit with?

Someone I mentioned it to speculated that the second toilet was for use in emergencies, but I can’t imagine being ensconced on the throne and hearing someone yell “I’M COMING IN – I’VE GOT AN EMERGENCY!!”, or the succeeding events, would endear me to anyone.

I have not rated a toilet in a while, but…

Lighting: Natural light only.
Ergonomics: Poor
Aesthetics: Excellent
Capacity: 1 or 2.
Privacy: That depends.
Cleanliness: 36
Phone signal: Okay, considering it was Tipperary.
Post-use feeling of righteous superiority: Excellent.

In conclusion, would not recommend except as a potential date with that really hot smelly vegan chick from your yoga class.

*Scarlett Johansson – 21st century actress of unspeakable beauty. Famed for such roles as Natasha Romanoff in the Avengers series of movies, Molly Pruit in the third and worst of the seventy-six “Home Alone” movies,¬† and most notably, kicking off the career of co-star Bill Murray, with the opening shot of her arse in the otherwise unremarkable “Lost in Translation”.

**21st century musician – famous for his odourless flatulence.
Nice shoes…

Nice shoes…

Another door, but I visited no facilities today to which I will not return, so you’ve missed nothing. This brief remark is on the obscenely large gaps under cubicle doors in America. The gaps between the door and the frame are also extra-large, which is good news for all of our readers, who are perverts. I feel that comma is appropriate.
Our Berkeley accommodation last year, had, for some reason, a cubicle which you could see right into if you stood at the urinal beside it. I’ll try to locate a photo.
I should possibly have included something here for scale, but you’ll have to trust me – this is a really big gap. I always thought they were ridiculous, until that time last year when I could not unlock the cubicle I was in. Had brute force not eventually worked, I would have had to call for help or crawl…

On Hooks

On Hooks

Not all my photos will be of doors – but these highlight an important issue which many people seemingly forget when kitting out their toilet cubicles. The first picture is a loo door in Dublin Airport, the second in Heathrow, and the third in San Francisco. The third picture is less satisfactory than what I was trying to photograph, so I will focus on the first two pictures. Can you spot the difference?
I’ll give you a minute.

Well done!
Yes, there are at least two bags on the hook in the right picture, while in the other, those same bags are presumably balanced on my head, because that hook isn’t going to hold anything with any degree of reliability, and especially in an airport, your bags must go absolutely everywhere with you and there’s piss on the floor.
Some loos provide no hook at all, and are unworthy of review.

Home Is Where The Fart Is

Home Is Where The Fart Is

This is it.
On the other side of that door lie seventeen days of latrinal uncertainty.
Here I am, in the comfort of my own bathroom, the lock on the door purely symbolic, preparing myself for a voyage and a lack of reliable bathroom breaks.
For your pleasure and disgust and erudition, I will once more turn my hand to chronicling some of the pit stops during my travels. It has been a while, but perhaps it is like learning to ride an elephant. I regret not keeping a better log of last year’s sojourn across the ocean; the bears, the breasts, the fire, the blockages, the great escape…
Perhaps, if I risk falling short of my 150-word quota, I will share these anecdotes with you.

For now, I sit here and ponder the same question every traveller must before embarking on a long journey ‚Äď when did I last poop?

– Your Man on the Can

The redheads and the chess pieces.

The redheads and the chess pieces.

Author’s note: This is an old puzzle. I am only resurrecting it because the amazing Hannah Fry has tweeted a request for a chess-player, and I am not going to see my maths phd and decades of chess-playing go to waste simply because of a 140-character word limit and my inability to be epigrammatic. If it turns out to be an April Fools’, I shall be most disappointed.

Author’s side-note: Apologies to you dear readers, and to Kevin and Isabella, for my prolonged absence, which I may well resume presently.

Three young redheads*, cavorting naked in the moonlight one evening, were captured by a group of perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs. The redheads watched in horror as the leader of the perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs selected two knights and three pawns from his set. He ordered the other perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs to tie the captives’ hands behind their respective backs. He then set the redheads standing in an equilateral triangle with edges of almost arbitrary length 10 metres, to prevent whispering or wiggling and gesticulative hints between the captives. He explained, as he placed one of the five chess pieces standing on each of the captives’ heads, that if any of them dropped their chess piece then they would all be killed. Further, they would each be asked what chess piece was on their heads – a simple multiple-choice question, in effect, where one correct answer would lead to instant freedom for all three. One of the redheads asked if there was to be negative marking, which reminded the leader of the perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs that yes, in fact, an incorrect answer would lead to the redheads all being summarily executed whereupon their skins would be converted into lampshades for the table lamps which the perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs had recently won at a table quiz**, which had ironically turned out to be about tables and left the participants feeling a little bitter – hence the capturing and threats of death and so on, which they would not under normal circumstances condone.

And so, without further ado, the first redhead was asked what chess piece was on her head. She looked at the chess pieces on the heads of her friends*** and hadn’t a fucking clue, and burst into tears because she was an emotional sort. It was a wonder that she managed to keep the chess piece balanced on her head at all. The second redhead was then asked what chess piece was on her head****. She asked what would happen if none of them answered, and after a moment’s contemplation the leader of the perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs conceded that he hadn’t considered that eventuality, but that she could rest assured that he would conceive an equally heinous yet tedious fate for them all. So after briefly attempting to twist her head at some odd angle and rolling her eyes up into her skull in an effort to see through it to the chess piece, the second redhead conceded that she did not know what chess piece was on her head either. The final redhead had lost her glasses, which was just typical of her, and she was unfortunately yet¬†intriguingly effectively blind¬†without them. So while she had seen the pieces when they were selected, she could now barely distinguish the other girls’ blurry arses from their blurry elbows, nevermind which sodding chess piece was balanced on their blurry heads.¬†In any event – she didn’t actually know what the chess-pieces were called, having never made her way to the chess club meetings whilst she was at university. Scarlet for her mother for having her, eh? But after a moment’s thought she was able to work out what the piece on her head ought to look like. She described the piece to the leader of the perverted chess-playing homicidal maniacs, who, being an honourable sort, let the other two girls go, but was so infuriated at the final redhead‘s ignorance that he clubbed her slowly to death with a copy of a small publication about mathematics, chess, and toilets.

The moral of the story is, obviously, go to chess club – Wednesdays from 8 in Smokey’s*****.
The question is: what piece was on the final redhead‘s head, and how did she know?

* These ladies’ hair colour has remained unchanged for the past four years – we do not pander.

**For the benefit of our international readers, a table quiz is what the Irish call a pub quiz. Why, I do not know. But yes, in answer to your inevitable question, we did actually host a pub quiz where all 107 of the questions were about tables. It was unforgettable.

***In truth, they were not actually friends at all, and had never even met before being thrust together as part of this sick, perverted fantasy.. eh.. puzzle..
Life’s funny, eh?

****The problem may call for some suspension of disbelief. Primarily, it must be assumed that the redheads in question are intelligent. Pretend they’re expert logicians or something like that.

*****For the benefit of our international readers: Smokey’s Cafe, National University of Ireland, Galway, Galway, Ireland.