Saturday, February 21, 2009

Urinal Review

The simple device was patented by Andrew Rankin on March 27, 1866 and since that day it has gone through a copias amount of changes, both functional and artisitc.  If you've been out of the house to relieve yourself then you've seen at least three different types of urinals.  Everyone knows that peeing standing up is wonderful and urinals make it easier than toilets.  We'll take a look at the basics and then dabble into the extraordinary.  If you don't have to pee by the end of the article, then you might want to get your prostate checked

The Three Musketeers

Standard Urinal: You know him well, the most popular type of urinal in America.  Billions of uses each year and millions of happy patrons.  After 150 years of urinal history, this has become the most common and effective variety.  It's simple and useful, limiting splashback with the deeper bowl and keeps things fresh with a urinal cake at the bottom.  Where would we be as a country with out old reliable?  

Wall-to-Floor Urinal: My personal favorite.  Since childhood, my eyes light up every time I see one of these deals when I feel the call of nature, though I'm not quite sure why.  Without a doubt there is a higher chance of splashback due to more porcelain surface, but you also have more surface area and can zig zag it from waist level to the ground.

Trough Urinal: The final of your basic three is on the way out in terms of popularity.  Often seen in old ballparks and stadiums, this set-up has no limit on patrons at a time, which can be very dangerous.  The later in the game/evening, the closer men seem to get and the more dudes per trough there are.  Advantages of troughs can be their ability to take you back in time.  Being shoulder to shoulder with some drunk guy at the ballgame makes you feel like you've transported back 30 years or so.  Disadvantages are obvious in the fact more streams per bowl are going to result in a higher chance at a splashback.  Getting your own pee on you can gross you out, but some other guys pee on your trousers?  That can be a one-way ticket to Vom Town.

Everyone Else

Waterless Urinal: You'll see these oddballs at some national parks or green buildings and offices.  My first experience with one left me confused as I searched for a handle, laser, sensor, button or knob and couldn't find one.  It was after a minute that I gave up and went to wash my hands as a janitor walked in with some tools.  He piqued my curiosity and I waited around to watch him unscrew the round object at the bottom of the bowl and replace it with a new one.  The stench that arose when he removed the item was rancid and if not for my strong interest, I would have not been able to take it.  Apparently, the piece that contains some of the smell needs to be replaced every week for medium traffic and twice a week for heavier usage.

Port-a-Potty Urinal: Small, plastic and off to the side of the small toilet area it often smells disgusting.  It can be advantageous because you don't have to look down the hatch of the toilet with the blue water and poo.  

Kiddie Urinal: Often seen in elementary schools and family restaurants, these guys are kind to children and midgets as they don't have to do the tippy-toe, matrix pee maneuver.  Peeing in one as an adult can make you feel like a giant, which is sort of fun from time to time.

Nature's Urinal: By this of course I mean a tree, or any other outdoor cover for that matter  For as long as there have been trees, men have been peeing on them, because we can.  It's just fun to walk outside, unzip and handle your business.  One of the fairer sex's main weaknesses if you ask me.  

Fire Hydrant Urinal: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention man's best friend and his favorite place to pee.  Stereotypically (and often in reality) dogs pee on fire hydrants to mark territory and assert themselves.  While there just don't seem to be as many hydrants around today as there used to be in old movies, I guarantee if you see one, at least a dozen dogs have peed on it.

Public Urinal: They exist in China and parts of Europe, but definitely weird this American out.

Mile High Urinal: I have a personal record I'd like to share with you.  I've never peed on a plane.  Not once, not ever.  I've flown from New York to London, Paris, Spain, Dallas, Tampa and Jacksonville to name a few places and I have just never done it.  This whole thing started out accidentally, really, I just didn't have to pee when I was in the air, but when I made it to Europe, I thought to myself, "Wow, if I didn't pee on a seven hour flight, how in the world can I ever pee on a two hour flight?" I estimate I've been on 100 or more flights and still never unzipped on any one of them.  This story was told just to let you know, this is one urinal I will not be using.

**If there are any ladies still reading, pat yourself on the back.  I know you've been thinking this article is only for men, but hold on a second and take a look at this:

Female Urinal: What?!  That's right sister, get your stand and pee on, you deserve it.  Although it's not yet made the transition to America, the female urinal is creeping over this way, originating in the Netherlands and making it's way to England.  Be on the lookout, I think it will start to gain popularity at places hippies frequent, Phish concerts and such.

Flushing systems

You've got your handles, your push buttons and your motion sensors.  On the less traditional side you have laser-equipped, and timed.   You'll sometimes see ice in the bottom of the bowl.  Ever wonder why?  Me too.  There are a variety of reasons, according to this article.  The two strongest reasons to fill up the head with ice chips are to reduce splashback and raise the level of sanitation as the lower temperature is not kind to bacteria.  In addition to that, it actually is sort of a  flushing mechanism as the warm pee melts the cold ice and the resulting water washes down the yellow stuff.


For more pictures of urinals and the like, check out this crazy blog.


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