This and That

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I once watched a documentary titled “Connections”. Each week the host, James Burke, would take us on a fascinating journey establishing how history, science, and modern technology are connected. One thing would lead to another and I found it one of the most compelling ways to learn history. My own life has proven to be a series of connections and having one thing lead to another can be an entertaining way to stimulate learning in kids of all ages.

Upon hearing a curious commercial on the radio, we took to the Internet in search of the advertiser’s website. Unfamiliar with this handy little device, their commercial had been effective enough to have us browse the P-Mate website and watch their video advertisement. All in good taste, the video was informative, however, comical. Have you guessed it? It’s a disposable cardboard device that enables females to stand and pee in the woods. Not an outdoor enthusiast you say? Surely, you’ve had the displeasure of using an unsanitary public restroom. Supposedly the P-Mate is ideal when hygiene is lacking. The price seemed a little spendy to me, considering other testimony of a woman who vowed that a fast food French fry box works just as well. Also, my decisive 10 year-old daughter “E” claims she wouldn’t use it anywhere. She considers the woods, as many girls do, undesirable even on the longest of hikes and is known for traveling hundreds of miles refusing to use a public restroom, unless it meets with her standards. But, this article is not an advertisement for the P-Mate or any of its competitor’s products. It’s about one thing leading to another and how we can enjoy learning that way. Next stop was related videos.….toilets.

What we learned after watching the P-Mate video was that toilets and specifically toilets in other countries are quite interesting. Some places have troughs to straddle, while others’ commodes are quite sophisticated. The Germans and French have fully automated self-cleaning toilets. When activated, one model has a seat that folds down, similar to the way an ironing board folds down out of a closet. Clean paper automatically lines the seat. With a wave of the hand, it starts to flush including the liner. For cleanliness, another type sprays water on the seat as it completely swivels 360 degrees. On the streets of Paris can be found a roomy coin operated restroom. Instructions say that one has 15 minutes to take care of business without explanation as to what happens if you stay longer. Perhaps you’d get a shower because after the reporter exited, the door locked, water was heard spraying, which was followed by the sound of blow-drying. Not only do the Japanese make some nice cameras, they make some very technical toilets. They have several features, and as Grandpa Davey would say, these are toilets with a cockpit. One example of their sophistication is that at the push of a button a heater warms the seat, which I’m sure, would make one mighty comfy on a cold winter’s night.

Learning is fun! Don’t stop at reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Open your mind and see what you’ll find.




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