Gents Toilets Mystery

The gents toilets on the first floor of the building where I work is a complete mystery to me.

That’s not strictly true. I know where the stalls and the urinals are. I know how to make the taps – little push-button ones – work. I know that the hand dryer to the right typically warms up a lot faster than the one on the left. I know to check that there’s toilet paper first (because there frequently isn’t) and that I can liberate some from the overstocked disabled toilet down the corridor if I need them. I know all this.

What’s got me confused is the automatic lighting. Whenever I enter the room, the lights come on.

There are no sensors on the door, so far as I can see, and there is no optic sensor that could have spotted me (the only optic sensor I can see sits above the urinals and regulates the flush, so it doesn’t waste water when nobody’s in there – but the lights always seem to come on before I’m far enough into the room to be within the line of sight of this sensor). There is an optic sensor inset into the ceiling of the antechamber between the corridor and the toilets, but it can’t be this that’s responsible for the lights because I’ve tried to trigger that one (without entering the toilets themselves) and it doesn’t seem to do anything. There doesn’t seem to be a pressure sensor or anything. And the most mysterious bit of all: if you hide in the stall where a sensor might not be able to see you… or if you stand very still… the lights still stay on until you leave. I’m pretty sure it’s not activated by sound, as the car park can be pretty noisy sometimes and I’ve never gone to the toilet, that I can remember, and found the lights already on when I got there: I always see them flicker on.

Yes, it’s true: I’ve spent the afternoon so far playing hide and seek and musical statues with myself in the gents toilets. But I’m of an inquisitive mind and this is a mystery that needs solving. Perhaps there’s some kind of concealed optic sensor, or infrared tripwire grid across the entire floor (I’ll try standing on the seat of the toilet for awhile, later). Maybe there’s a body heat sensor of some variety. Maybe there’s a little imp hiding in the wall cavity with a remote control. Maybe it’s entirely random. Maybe I’ll never know.

I’m going to go to the toilet again…

All Ready For NaNoWriMo

Well, here goes nothing.

Words written: 0 / target: 50000

As many of you already know, I’m participating this November in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month contest. The aim is to write, from a standing start, 50,000 words in 30 days. So… about 1,700 words a day. There were days that my dissertation got a lot more than that out of me, but then: I wasn’t working full time as well as helping with a million and one other projects when I wrote-up my dissertation. And in the end, that came to under 30,000 words.

In answer to the inevitable questions from those folks who can’t understand why I’m engaging in this ludicrous idea: no, I don’t expect to write something publishable; no, I don’t expect even to reach 50,000 words; yes, I’m going to give it a bloody good shot. I’m being joined in this challenge by several folks in Aber, including, I’m lead to believe (although some of these seem a little uncertain), by Sian, Paul, JTA, and Jimmy. A little bit of healthy competition as we try to keep our WordBars filling up will probably do me the world of good. Let’s see how far we can get.

When I say “All ready for NaNoWriMo,” of course, I am lying at least a little. I have only the vaugest idea of a story and no idea where it’s going, two characters: both underdeveloped, and no way of tying together all the ideas in my head. And I’ve written nothing down. This could turn out to be an inspirational benefit, or a self-destructive nightmare. But we’ll see, either way.

Anyway; better get ready to get to it. Damnit; why does Civilization IV have to be released in November, too…

Soup On Your Head

There are some very strange tags on Flickr, the photo sharing service, such as this one which was revealed to me today: Soup On Your Head. It’s pictures of people… with soup on their heads. And that’s it. Damn weird.