Posts filed under ‘toilet’

Bill C, Birthday Hero

This morning I had a very nasty dream.  I was involved in a woman’s crew team (I think this is an hommage to my colleague, Kim Elliott) and for some reason the team had a dispute and I retired to a public ladies room.  There, I found an extremely clogged toilet, a “dirty potty” one may say.  Apparently I felt somewhat responsible for the toilet’s state because I started to plunge it (I doubt I would have taken the initiative otherwise).  The plunging effort was far from successful and quite messy.  The more I plunged, the more messy the situation became.  Water and poop was getting everywhere– it splashed on my pants.  It got all over my copy of Catch-22 (which I was reading before falling asleep) and it was even getting in my hair.  Suddenly, Bill knocked on the front door, the beagle started arooing and I woke up. 

I can not thank Bill enough for getting me out of that mess.  What a well-timed gift.

March 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

The Dirty Potty

And speaking of cleaning that needs to be done…. 

This evening, Ann and I took her two children to Deerfield Bike Path.  Before we left, Ann used our downstairs restroom.

“Mama, ” Penn said, “You’re using the dirty potty?!?”

Ann asked if he had used it before.

“Yes,” he said, “It’s disgusting!

Hmm… I guess that’s not a good sign when a five-year-old, who once crawled on his hands and knees under a public restroom stall attempting to see “Vicky’s pee”, designates your bathroom as “The Dirty Potty”! 

P.S.  When he’s old enough, I need to show Penn the films “Trainspotting” and “From Dusk Till Dawn”.  Suddenly, my potty will look pristine! 

P.S.S.  Anyone else remember any disgusting toilet scenes?  I can organize “The First Annual Dirty Potty Marathon” for his 17th birthday! 🙂

March 14, 2007 at 12:51 am 4 comments

Hitchcock and Stem Cell Research

Part of Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliance was his ability to work around, and even work with, the censors of his day.  The Production Code which guided the U.S. film industry was particularly strict — it kept toilets off-screen for nearly three decades!  Using his creativity, Hitchcock was able to find ways to work with the restrictions and continue to tell the stories he wanted to tell.   Leonard J. Leff provides numerous antedotes and examples in his article “Hitchcock and the Censors” for the August 1999 issue of World and I.  I’m just sharing a few.

The Production Code prohibited prolonged kisses.  A kiss could not extend for more than three seconds.  In Notorious, Hitchcock got around that by having Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman do a series of short kisses.  In between, the characters spoke softly, they caressed, they embraced.  To the audience, the scene was intimate.  The scene was moving.  At three minutes long, they were watching what was “the longest kiss in the history of the movies.”  But in actuality, no single kiss extended past the three second limitation.  The scene complied with the set rules.

In Rear Window, the censors would not allow the ballet dancer, Miss Torso, to appear topless.  So Hitchcock showed her doing the opposite of undressing.  He showed her trying to clasp her bra on.  The clasp fails, the brassiere falls to the ground and the character quickly bends to retrieve it.  All the audience sees is her bare back, but the nudity is assumed.

In Rebecca, the censors barred Hitchcock from showing an unnatural attachment (aka lesbian attachment) of the housekeeper to her mistress.  Hitchcock complied.  Instead he had the housekeeper show an unnatural attachment to her mistress’s undergarments.   From that gesture, the housekeeper’s affection for her employer was successfully communicated to the audience.

Finally, the famous shower scene in Psycho.  To the viewers, this was a brutal and horrifying scene.  My own mother struggled with showers after seeing the film.  But the scene wasn’t graphic at all.  In fact, there is not a single shot of the knife puncturing the skin.  There are three quick shots of the knife touching the stomach, but that’s it.  The vicious violence of the scene comes from Hitchcock’s editing and his anticipation of what he could get by the censors.

This week, news on stem cell research has reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock.  Like the Production Code did for Hitchcock, the Bush Administration’s restrictions on new federally-funded embryo stem cell lines provide a limitation, an obstacle, to the researchers.  Just or unjust, that was the hand dealt to Hitchcock and the hand dealt to the researchers.  Just or unjust, both Hitchcock and the stem cell researchers used creativity to work around the restrictions they faced.


Discover Magazine’s #15 on their Top 100 Science Stories in 2006 was aptly titled “Stem Cell Setbacks Inspire New Methods“.  It summarized a number of the recent “workarounds” in the field:

In the face of these setbacks, many scientists have focused on new methods of creating stem cell lines without destroying embryos. Traditionally, the process involves plucking the inner cell mass […] which destroys the embryo. In March however, German researchers—working in a political landscape even more restrictive than our own—reported turning sperm-producing cells from adult mouse testes into something very much like embryonic stem cells. A week later, U.S. scientists claimed to have done the same with human cells. In June Italian scientists announced the first human embryonic stem cells derived from parthenotes—embryo-like structures formed when an egg starts to divide on its own, with no sperm involved.  […] In August Japanese scientists reported yet another method for making “personalized” cells without cloning: They treated mouse skin cells with four gene products active in embryonic stem cells and got the skin cells to revert to something much like the stem cells. In September a European team reported coaxing human embryonic stem cells from an “arrested” IVF embryo—one that had stopped dividing before it reached the blastocyst stage and thus died a natural death.

Then this week, an additional announcement revealed Wake Forest researchers had found stem cells in amniotic fluid:

[Researchers at Wake Forest University and Harvard University] reported they were able to extract the stem cells from the fluid, which cushions babies in the womb, without harm to mother or fetus and turn their discovery into several different tissue cell types, including brain, liver and bone.

There are those who cite the censors as unknowing collaborators to Hitchcock’s films, encouraging the director to exercise the subtly he mastered so well, encouraging him to add more mystery and suspense to his tales.  There are those who believe film making lost something once filmmakers could show more.  Hitchcock himself once asked, “Are we missing some other stimulus that went with those earlier [, more restrictive] days?

I suppose, as expertise grows, we’ll be able to tell if the “Less is More” concept applies to stem cell research.  Could the restrictions one day actually be cited as an inadvertent collaborator to the science?!? Time will tell.  And time will tell if these new approaches will be considered brilliant “classics” that are studied and mimicked for generations to come…. or just a costly detour.

Spite would have me root for detour.  But hope, hope has me pulling for Hitchcock.

January 14, 2007 at 4:15 am 9 comments

The Best Seat in the House

Tonight is my last night at the Hotel at Old Town in Wichita.  I’m really enjoying the hotel.  Some of the amenities I haven’t quite used– like the full fridge, dishwaster and stove that reside in my room.  But some of the items, I really find fascinating.  Tonight, I walked through all the floors of the hotel just to look at and read that captions about the historic photographs hanging on the walls.  My walk was accompanied by the sound of a fountain in the lobby and the soothing, live piano music they have every evening until 10 PM.  The workout room is top notch here and empty– which makes it even better! 

There has been one item that is a bit baffling.  That’s the placement of the television.  The TV is in a nice hutch enclosed by doors.  Pretty typical.  But, these doors only open 90 degrees and they don’t slide back into the hutch.  As a result, if you aren’t at the right angle, one of the doors is in the way.  The last couple of days, I noted the issue while laying in bed.  Luckily, all I really am in the market for is listening  to Law and Order, so I just roll over and listen away. 

From the bed– the left door obstructs the view.

This evening, I picked up a meal from a local restaurant so I could enjoy a new episode of King of Queens.  I cleaned off the table/desk and discovered that now the other door was obstructing my view.  No biggie.  I ate where I was at and could still get the gist of Doug Heffernan’s antics.

From the table/desk.  Now the right door obstructs the view.

A little while later, I had to go to the restroom.  A perk of staying alone is you don’t have to close the bathroom door.  It was then that I discovered the toilet was exactly the right angle to see the TV.  You were a little farther away– but neither door was in the way.

From the toilet— the angle is just right!

I gotta wonder.  Was this by design? 

December 21, 2006 at 12:04 am 1 comment

Toilet Stall Deadlock

A few years ago, I had a whim.  I wanted to write a book that explained database concepts in the terms of toilet, bathroom and excrement analogies.  For deadlock I had this example:

The bathroom has two stalls, each occupied by a person who needs to take a dump.  Person A is patiently waiting for the other occupant to leave before they release their bowels (and any accompanying sound effects).  Little do they know– Person B also needs to take a dump and is waiting for Person A to finish!  So both people are sitting on toilets, stifling urges and waiting for the other one to depart.  

Unfortunately that was the only example I came up with and as amusing as I may think it is, it doesn’t quite constitute a book.  But I did get to smile and think about it this morning when Derek and I ran into a deadlock* (the database type) this morning. 

We were trying to track down an Oracle issue, so we got into SQL*Plus and inserted some records into a particular table.  When we went to the application, our changes were not being displayed.  Worse even, when we tried to make changes to the same table through the application it hung indefinitely.  Oracle folks, know what we did wrong?

That’s right– SQL*Plus commands do not commit their changes until you close the tool or you explicitly type in commit; 

Our changes through the SQL*Plus tool were still in limbo so when the application went to make the its changes– it found itself patiently waiting for SQL*Plus to release the table so it could have the same privacy coveted by our bathroom goers.  SQL*Plus was lingering open, so our application waited and waited and waited… until Derek and I finally caught on.

Even if it doesn’t make for a book, perhaps one day you’ll run into some peculiar behavior with your Oracle database and SQL*Plus.  Out of frustration, you step away from your desk and take a trip to the bathroom and when you plop down on the seat– maybe you will recall this post and realize what is going on.  🙂

*Okay, so it isn’t an official deadlock because the SQL*Plus isn’t waiting for a resource the application has— but the segue was close enough me!

October 4, 2006 at 11:54 pm 1 comment

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