One of the nice things about Germany is clean public bathrooms. But most come at a price, ranging from fifty cents to one Euro. In most places, an attendant wipes each stall after each use. In some, the toilet wipes itself.

It’s change you can believe in. But you need exact change. (More)

First our thanks to last week’s guest lecturers. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, Professor of Topofclassclownistics JanF finished her two-week Digging Deeper series on alternative energy in Energy Tradeoffs: Renewables. Then HEMMED Lab Director JanF offered a three-day series on America’s sagging industrial base. Both were excellent series and are well worth reading.

This Thursday, Professor of Bathtublueberrywhisperology addisnana will begin a three-day series on Beliefs and Behaviors About Change. We doubt that this will involve German public restrooms, but just in case….

Note: We currently have no Morning Feature guest lecturers scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday (December 14th and 15th). We also have openings this week for Furthermore, Midday Matinee, and Our Earth. If you are already a BPI Author, you’ll find a list of openings in the Authors Notepad section of your Dorm Room. To reserve a slot, type in your user name, topic, and the date you want. I will remove your note when I add you to the Schedule. If you are not yet an Author and would like to contribute at BPI, please contact the BPI Webmistress.

Also: Please share your stories of offline political activism in Things We Did This Week.

So about those German bathrooms. Yes, they really do have a few bathrooms that clean themselves. The toilet seat is flexible, and when you insert your coin to lock the door the entire seat rotates through a cleaning block at the back. But most German public facilities are cleaned the old-fashioned way: an attendant darts around with a spray bottle of cleaner.

At the Cologne train station, the restrooms had a team of attendants. Drop a one-Euro coin in the slot, step through the turnstile and to the left if you’re female or to the right if you’re male, and an attendant points you to the next available stall, which another attendant has just cleaned. The turnstile requires exact change, but there’s a change machine on the wall beside it. I hadn’t realized there was an inverse relationship between bladder pressure and the ability to distinguish currency. One man hopped from leg to leg while trying to push a 2€ coin into a slot that accepts only 1€ coins. It would be a good place to film a reality dance competition.

Most restaurants have just one restroom attendant. Many have just one restroom. In those you hand your coin directly to the attendant, so you don’t need exact change. On the other hand, the dances were less entertaining.

Yet another of life’s tradeoffs.


Happy Monday!