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bear by san

March 2017



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me and a troll

the same four chords with different faces

So today I climbed a mountain.

Okay, not very much of one. Just a little bit. But it was lovely, and easy enough that I found myself feeling confident that I'm in shape for Kilimanjaro if it ever does shape up that we can go (ashacat and I are currently planning to try to do it for our fortieth birthdays).

Today was a hike on Rainier with medievalist and mac_stone, an absolute highlight of the trip. My first volcano and my first rainforest, all in one. On what may have officially been the most beautiful day of the year. We hiked about eight miles, all told, which means (DUN DUN DUN) that on day 902 of my walk to Mordor, I have passed Rauros Falls and the Breaking of the Fellowship, and furthermore, I have embarked with Merry and Pippin and the orcs on our way to Isengard. Thus making this icon even more appropriate to the day.

I've been thinking about worldbuilding and crappers. Some of this is from the Seattle Underground tour, which makes no bones about just how much the modern... face... of Seattle has been shaped, as it were, by the demands of sanitation. And some of it is because of the trip that stillsostrange and spouse and I took to NYC earlier this year, which--we were joking--turned into a tour of the Toilets Of Manhattan.

We started off having lunch with Amanda's editor, the charming and talented Dongwon Song, at what he described as a noodle joint for homesick expat Japanese, which had thoroughly amazing restrooms. They were large truncated cones with eight-inch-thick walls, suitable for withstanding zombie attacks. Spotlessly clean inside, they each had a small table with a chair and a reading lamp... and the kind of toilet that comes with pictographs. (I was especially amused by the lonely, dusty, slightly ratty role of peach toilet paper hanging beside the throne--I can only presume, for the convenience of cowardly gaijin).

From there, we wound up at the Slaughtered Lamb in the West Village, which Amanda selected for the werewolf in the window, and which offered the opposite extreme of toilet: cramped, grimy, careworn, and too small to turn around in.

Which led to me thinking about that most basic of mod cons, and what it can tell us about a setting. I've used a lot of different potties in my life, and they all tell you something about the place you find them--from portajohns to marble edifices....

Telling details.

In the meantime, I should go. Miles the Cat wants me to play fetch with him now.


Um, you do know that the "history" provided by the Seattle Underground tour is complete crap, right?
*g* Depends on which... bits we're talking about.
I can't judge the Seattle civic history but the information they provide about Thomas Crapper and his supposed role in the invention and naming of the toilet is unsupported. http://www.snopes.com/business/names/crapper.asp

I wish I could join you for some of this week's hilarity... sounds like you're having a ball. I should be there for next Friday's party, though.
I thought everybody knew that was an urban legend?

Anyway, as far as I know, the motivation for raising Seattle was, in fact, flooding and sanitation.
Hmmm...crap? But isn't that just what you were talking about? she asked.

ETA: gotta change to my new old icon *g*

Edited at 2009-07-03 05:42 am (UTC)
Realized it's been awhile since I popped by. *grin* All the hiking sounds great; sounds like Seattle weather is behaving for you.

Also, icon loff!
Hey there. I miss you! <3
Any lavatory that has an article on which you can actually sit is a plus. I am rather too used to the 'starting block' approach, leading, conversely, to visiting students crouching on the seats and breaking them. We usually had to give a rather delicately phrased 'how to' handout to people from various parts of the world.

Do not get me started on the Chinese pole, or on my friend A's experience in the lavs of Calcutta bus station where he was directly aided in the recycling process by a large snuffling entity (it was dark) which turned out to be a friendly pig.
Squatting toilets may be healthful exercise, but I think I wouldn't mind missing out on the pig.

...great scam that pig has running, though.
I like this idea of building a world from the sewers up!

Far more realistic than this american-constitution-rhetoric of civic institutions coming from top-end proclamations and rolling down through belief into practice...
There is, I believe, a book about London sanitation which traces the whole thing from the start to the sewer projects of the 19th century. Of course, I forget the title and author, whihc is a whole bunch of help.
At my end of history, there's the tendency to build cities near rivers for access not only to drinking water but for a means of making sewage flow away. Where you live in relation to this process depended on status...And then there are middens, which need space downhill of the settlement and which get moved regularly (recycled as fertiliser for fields). As the cities grew, the night soil business grew up and was very lucrative -- I have a vague memory that some of the night soil merchants were anti-sewer campaigners. Early viking age villages used to cycle over a small area, so that the inhabitants would live on one site for a number of years, until it became noisome and the adjoining fields lost fertility. Then the village would be relocated onto part of the field site and the old village site would be ploughed up and planted. Of course, I'm sure you know all this, but it's a fascinating topic. Oh, and in many places, people in theory go out into the fields to crap, but if the weather is bad will instead pop behind they neighbours' houses. I think Sir PTerry has a character who made his immense riches selling night soil but even he hasn't yet tackled urban poo wars.
Two of the most impressive loos I've ever seen are both in Taipei. On the 85th floorkl of Taipei 101 (whose title I believe is currently "tallest inhabited building in the world") are two restaurants. One of them, Diamond Tony's, which serves Italiawanese food, has a side window in one stall that lets you look out over the city, and a full-length window (that IIRC slopes inward at the bottom) behind the sink so washing your hands makes you feel vaguely like Superman.

The other is in the flagship Eslite bookstore on Xinyi Road; fancy Japanese toilets are not uncommon in apartments here, though rarer in commercial establishments, but this is the only one I've seen where the toilet lid raises as you walk into the stall.

Of course, once outside the cities here, you'd better be limber enough to deal with squat toilets. When the in-laws visited, it turned out to be a Very Good Thing that my MIL has been going to yoga class for some years.
It's great for the glutes, though.
One of my Pieces Of Wisdom I have shared with my young friends who are 12, 13, and nearly-15 is that you can tell how nice a pretentious restaurant really is by how nice their bathroom is. Among other things, this puts you in a position of realizing that you are judging snooty restaurants, you are not inviting them to judge you.

Also I think they like the idea that they will be going to fancy restaurants as a matter of course when they're grown up.
In the meantime, I should go. Miles the Cat wants me to play fetch with him now.

Wait a sec, what? He was here, on the other coast, just a minute ago. I knew cats were cool, but I didn't realize that they could enage in spatiotemporal translocation of that magnitude on a whim! Maybe *that's* why he's so hard to find some times...

(The cat I'm sitting for the summer is in fact named Miles. Amusing geek pet-naming synchronicity.)
A friend in Kansas City has a cat named Miles, so there's one in the middle too.
The last couple of England trips have featured a surprisingly large number of garderobes and monastic plumbing setups.