Will Fatberg Hunting Be The New Glamping?


It’s always good to learn a new word every day, and today’s word is fatberg. A fatberg is exactly what it sounds like–a giant mass of fat. In this case, a giant mound of fat blocking up one of the world’s largest sewer systems. So what does a fatberg look like? Watch this video to find out, but don’t blame me if you can’t ever bring yourself to eat a kebab again.

The fatberg in question was discovered in Kingston, southwest London. A congealed slab of oil, fat, food and other trash such as cleaning wipes, the 15-ton monstrosity was the size of a double-decker bus and had reduced the main sewer line to only 5 percent capacity, preventing locals from flushing their toilets.

They should be grateful. Thames Water officials say if they hadn’t caught it in time, the toilets would have started backing up and raw sewage would have spewed out, a bit like that barbershop scene in the remake of The Blob.
The brave workers at Thames Water have slain the fatberg with high-pressure hoses, but more fatbergs may be lying in wait to attack innocent toilet sitters. Now’s your chance to help. Many cities offer sewer tours. Brighton has one, as do Paris and Vienna. The closest thing you can get in London is tracing the underground Fleet River, which was used as a sewer for much of its history.

What the world really needs are overnight sewer camping tours where each person is equipped with a high-powered hose. Brave adventure travelers could venture forth into the Stygian darkness, ready to do battle with malevolent fatbergs. Forget glamping, you overpaid bank executives, and give something back to society for a change. Go hunting fatbergs!

Five toilet paper alternatives for the road (or if you live in New Jersey)

toilet paper

Trenton, New Jersey, has a serious problem. The city government is in a fight with their paper goods supplier over prices and the city’s buildings are in danger of running out of toilet paper. What can they do for their voters in need? Installing bidets would be more expensive than simply paying the high cost the government contractor is demanding. Luckily, there are some other alternatives used in foreign lands that can help keep New Jersey clean. They can also help you out if you’re caught short while on the road.

Left hand
This is the most popular cleaning method around the world. You wipe your butt with your left hand (reserving the right for eating) and then wash your hand. It’s easier on your tender parts than scraping it with paper, and it’s guaranteed to stop you from biting your nails. While this makes sense hygienically and environmentally, for me it’s one of those five local customs I just can’t follow.

Newspaper
Newspapers offer an abundant supply of paper that can be cut up and stored in the bathroom. It’s a bit scratchy, but I can attest to it working just as well as toilet paper. When I was working in Bulgaria in the poverty-stricken early 90s, most Bulgarians didn’t want to spend extra money on toilet paper when they already had a newspaper. It was common practice to cut out photos of unpopular politicians to give them special treatment.Leaves
Another scratchy, yet environmentally sensitive, option favored by campers who don’t want to portage out their dirty paper. Make sure to pick large, relatively green leaves. You don’t want dry, brittle leaves that break while you’re wiping. That will leave you using the hand option whether you want to or not. Learn what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like before you try this.

Snowballs
If you like snow camping, you’re probably already familiar with this one. Make a compact snowball somewhat smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s best to make it oval in shape with a ridge to provide easy access into your crack. Like with leaves, this is better than bagging up dirty toilet paper and carrying it with you until you reach civilization.

Sponge on a stick
This was a method used by the ancient Romans. A sponge is absorbent and soft, making it a perfect material for cleaning your nether regions. The Romans washed their sponges with vinegar and reused them. Check out the photo below from the ancient latrine at Housesteads Roman Fort to see how it was done.

If these five alternatives don’t appeal to you, you can always do…

Nothing
The father of a friend of mine didn’t use anything to clean his backside. How this man ever got a wife I’ll never know. The poor woman cleaned his skivvies in a bucket rather than put them in the washing machine with the other clothes. Yes, he smelled. Get a sponge on a stick or some leaves and clean yourself!

toilet paper, Housesteads

SkyMall Monday: You Go Girl!

gadling skymall monday you go girl toiletGoing to the bathroom on planes is never pleasant. In fact, doing your business anywhere in public can be nerve-wracking. Many public restrooms smell unpleasant and are filthy. Beyond that, there’s the embarrassment caused by the sounds emanating from our behinds and the ensuing odors created by the gastrointestinal festivities. There’s nothing more awkward than emerging from the stall after a particularly loud and aromatic session to find people at the sinks visibly traumatized by the experience. That’s why we only go number two at SkyMall Monday headquarters. We have a soundproof bathroom built two miles below ground inside a mountain. For those of you who didn’t have your facilities designed by a military contractor, SkyMall has just what you need to keep your bathroom business from becoming a public fiasco. The next time you have to use a public restroom to evacuate your bowels, be sure to bring along some You Go Girl!For those of you who think that women neither pass gas nor defecate, it’s time to grow up. All manner of things come out of women’s bodies and some of those events are more odoriferous than others. Unlike men, women do not celebrate the size, shape and pungency of their fecal trophies. In fact, women feel great shame when their number two is loud and noxious. That’s why they need a concealer.

Think that noises made by bodily functions are normal and healthy? Believe that we’re all mature enough to handle naturally occurring events without embarrassment? Well, while you suffocate in a port-o-potty, we’ll be reading the product description:

Reduce bathroom anxiety on airplanes, restaurants or at work with You Go Girl. Just pour a packet into the toilet before use to mask embarrassing odors, dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Biodegradable, phosphate-free formula is safe to flush, and each packet is small enough to carry discreetly in your purse, day bag or pocket, so you can feel confident taking care of business away from home.

Toilet splash is the 84th leading killer of women in public restrooms*. Eliminating this damp scourge is worth the $12.85 for a 10-pack.

Like you, I was baffled by how such a product could not only eliminate odor, but also dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Thankfully, the company has produced an informational video. Even more thankfully, that video utilizes computer animation. I trust that you will see the brilliance of You Go Girl! Of course, men do not need this product. Our farts sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd and smell like fresh baked apple pie.

* Maybe.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

1,000 year-old turd goes on display

The Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery has a truly crappy new exhibition.

A 1,000 year-old piece of feces has people lining up to visit the English museum. It was originally found in 1991 and dates to Anglo-Saxon times. When it was recently put on display, curators were surprised at its popularity and now plan to make it part of its permanent display.

The turd has mineralized and has no smell. Mineralized crap, scientifically known as coprolites, are actually not that rare. Dinosaur coprolites are found quite frequently, like the one pictured here from Canada. For a time in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, coprolites were even mined for their high phosphate content. Human coprolites are less common and are important for what they can reveal about ancient diet and parasites.

The Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary. It traces local history from the age of the dinosaurs up to the present day. Artifacts include a beautifully preserved Celtic mirror, a Roman city wall, and a medieval backgammon game that is the world’s oldest complete set.


Photo courtesy United States Geological Survey.