Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stop Using Toilet Paper; Get a The Blue Bidet

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

bluebidet toilet paper bathroom bidet photo

People find the idea of going without toilet paper a bit shocking, but lots of people around the world do it, and there are good technologies available now to replace your toilet or add on to it. It is cleaner and healthier, and counterintuitively, saves a lot of water. Making a roll of toilet paper uses 1.5 pounds of wood, 37 gallons of water and 1.3 KWh of of electricity.

A lot of these bidet style toilets are expensive, as are may of the toilet seat add-ons. The Blue Bidet is only US$ 69, C$79 when I saw it at the local Home Show in Toronto.

Peter Gallos explains the Blude Bidet from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

Peter Gallos tells me that it can be installed in under half an hour. They make a cold water model that just uses the line that supplies the toilet, and a version that uses hot and cold water but needs a more elaborate installation. I wondered if our 40 degree F water would not be a bit of a jolt to the butt, but he says it is such a short blast that it isn't a problem. TreeHugger Justin tried one earlier and wrote in his post Bidets: Eliminate Toilet Paper, Increase Your Hygiene:

After using a bidet, most people find cold water is fine, and not particularly shocking on one's rear. Occasionally, a few sheets of paper are needed to dry oneself. To avoid this, you could get a air-drying bidet that would eliminate toilet paper entirely.


Interestingly, Blue Bidet does not say that they are eliminating toilet paper, just cutting its use by 75% and using the remainder to dry yourself off. Perhaps it is too hard a sell to say you don't need any. I will give the thing a try and let you know.

More on the Blue BIdet in the USA and in Canada

Nine New Gran Turismo 5 Screens Released

By Nicolas Ravasi

Sony has released nine new screenshots of Gran Turismo 5, now confirmed to being released around March 2010. Check the official screens below

To see more screenshots of the game, check our gallery in our database entry

You Built What?! The Shopping Go-Kart

You Built What?!
A grocery basket that can blaze down the aisles at 30 mph

Basket Case Builder Charles Guan hasn’t been pulled over yet. “I’m going on karma,” he says. John B. Carnett

Who needs brakes? When you’re converting a junk-stuffed shopping cart into an electric joy-ride-mobile, they’re the last thing you worry about. MIT undergrad Charles Guan’s LOLriokart—the name is a mash-up of Web and videogame-speak—grew out of his membership in the MIT Electronics Society, a student engineering club. With no plans to build a vehicle, he looked around the club’s shop and spotted the shopping cart, some discarded wheels and an electric engine normally used in high-performance golf carts. He cut off the shopping cart’s wheels, stripped out the basket underneath, and designed mounting plates for the motor, batteries and electronics.

Machining metal wasn’t new to Guan, who has built a number of robots as well. But trouble started when he got to work on the specialized electrical components, especially the controllers that manage the current flowing from the battery to the motor. “I managed to blow up my circuit a good four times before getting it to work,” he says.

Guan ultimately did decide to add brakes, and now he has a set that works. Initially he tried cannibalizing the kind used in kids’ electric scooters, but his 250-pound rig fried them on the first go. He’s found in test drives that collision risk is minimal anyway. “When you’re driving something this weird,” he says, “everyone tends to stay away from you.”

Taking Charge: Guan juices up the batteries overnight using a low current to avoid overcharging them. John B. Carnett

How LOLriokart Works

Time: One year
Cost: $300

That was Easy: The big red button directly in front of the steering wheel is an emergency fallback that cuts power to the motor. John B. Carnett
Guan controls the rear-wheel-drive LOLriokart through a custom-made steering system. The batteries, motor and drivetrain sit at the wheel line and weigh 160 pounds, giving the cart a low center of gravity even when he’s riding inside.

Guan found a set of nickel-cadmium batteries donated for a solar-car project at MIT. They had been lying around for years and were partially dead because of internal crystal growth, so he used a variation of a process called zapping: He hooked each one up to a lead-acid battery and pumped it full of current, frying the crystals and revitalizing the batteries. Guan has already done a test run of six miles, and he calculates that the cart could travel nearly twice that. An hour of charging with a high current can revive the batteries, but he prefers to charge them overnight with a low current.

According to Guan’s math, given its weight and motor power, the cart could have gone 45 mph. That seemed a little risky, though, so he switched in a smaller motor sprocket, which cuts the rate at which the chain turns the rear axle. Using a go-kart throttle, he can vary between a gentle walking pace and 30 mph.

Guan had been stopping Fred Flintstone–style, jamming his heels onto the pavement through a gap in the bottom of the cart. Once, his quick footwork helped him avoid being hit by a train. But he recently installed some mountain-bike disc brakes—mostly to cut down on shoe wear.

Creating a Monster: During an early test in the shop, the cart sprang to life and a wheel burned a hole in the floor. John B. Carnett

It's Madge-Ic! A New Album Has Us Tracking Madonna's Many Faces

Admit it: Somewhere along the line in your fashion-obsessed life, you spent a few hours Vogue-ing in the mirror and trying to decide if your hot-pink bustier and lace gloves were a bit "much" for afternoon band practice. But with Madonna's latest and greatest hits album Celebrations dropping into our ever-grateful lives today, we couldn't help but take a few hours to properly pay homage to the world's hottest 50-year-old...ever. Whether she's the laid-back earth mum or Marc's latest Vuitton goddess, Madonna's many forms continue to inspire us. Herein are our picks of Madge personas. Seriously, can this Kabbalah mom rock a leotard or what?

1. Girly-Grunge (1983-84)


It all started with fishnets, bracelets, big hair, and blue shadow. Back then, the emerging mistress of club-kid grunge floored us with her piled-on, lacey getups and giant bow headbands. From "Lucky Star" to Desperately Seeking Susan (those studded boots...damn!) this after-dark renegade look nearly feels fresh today.

Above, from left: image from The Boston Globe; image from Madonnalicious; image from Madonnalicious.

2. The Material Girl (1985)


The first swing of the pendulum came when Madge ditched the scrappy-chic look for something way more Hollywood. Here, Madonna revealed her ultra glamorous side by sporting some satiny prom queen dresses and a super styled blonde coif. Talk about get rich quick!

Above, from left: Photo from Absolute Madonna; image from Madonnalicious; image from Madonnalicious.

3. More Blonde Ambition (1990-91)


"The Blonde Ambition" tour saw Madge putting her real-life fashion passions on stage. Costumes for this tour were designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and featured a variety of couture undergarments, including THAT cone bra.

Above, from left: image from Madonna Gallery; image from Madonnalicious; image from Madonnalicious.

4. Dick Tracy Glam (1990)


In 1990, Madonna starred in Dick Tracy alongside legendary lady's man Warren Beatty (remember he also made that cameo as her awkward real-life man-friend in Truth or Dare). In a case of life imitating art, Madonna was snapped in gender-bending man-tailored suits and alternatively feminine 1920s gowns. We love!

Above, from left: image from Daily Mail UK; image from Absolute Madonna; image from Madonna Gallery.

5. A Lot Erotic (1992)


Taking a cue from the corset, the Madonna of the early '90s became a bit more risqué. This was the era of role-play, leather, bondage, and the much talked-about release of Sex, a book she masterminded with photographer Steven Meisel.

Above, from left: image from The Maranista; image from People; image from Madonnalicious.

6. Evita-Chic (1997)


Madge has definitely taken some scrapes for her acting, but no one can deny that she was nothing short of amazing in 1997's Evita. Who else could go from nipple tassels to 1940s chic in the blink of an eye?!

Above, from left: image from Madonnalicious; image from Madonnalicious; image from Madonnalicious.

7. Gothic Earth Mother (1999-2000)


Following the birth of daughter Lourdes was a brief and well-noted flirtation with all things spiritual. The new mum combined henna hands, Indian saris, and gothic dresses, and, yes, the world followed suit.

Above, from left: image from Sympatico; image from Madonnalicious; image from Madonnalicious.

8. American Cowgirl (2001-2001)


Sometimes you just can't question the queen, and if Madonna tells you it's cool to be a cowgirl then it probably is. Suddenly we found ourselves giving in to a desperate need for old Levi's, our boyfriend's Western shirt, and some sweet beat-up cowboy boots.

Above, from left: image from The Fashion Guru; image from Absolute Madonna.

9. Leotard Mania (mid-2000s)


Now, if you had such a killer physique in your 40s after having two kids, you might want to prance around in a tiny piece of Lycra, too. It's actually amazing how many times a spangly one-piece has popped up in Madonna's wardrobe, but what we love most is how she always manages to combine elements from her favorite past looks. Or are they our favorite past looks?

Above, from left: image from People; image from Hitz Only; image from Madonnalicious.

10. Red Carpet Madge


Cut to now, and the hailing goddess of reinvention has certainly grown into her designer duds. Starring in a campaign for Louis Vuitton and sporting some serious Balmain in her newest clip, Madonna still has her finger directly on the fashion pulse.

Above, from left: image from Fashion Indie; image from Nitrolicious; image from The UK Telegraph.

Tarantino Promises Kill Bill Vol. 3

Now that Inglourious Basterds is out of the way and headed for almost inevitable Oscar nominations, Quentin Tarantino

is planning his next move. What is it? Kill Bill Vol. 3.

Bad Taste caught Tarantino on Italian television where he went out of his way to lure the interviewer into asking him about the possibility of a third Kill Bill and then announced that yes, it’s happening and “The Bride will fight again.”

Of course Tarantino projects never happen quickly and sometimes the stuff he talks about never happens at all. But he seems fairly adamant about getting Kill Bill Vol. 3 done, even if it takes time. He says, “Kill Bill 3 will probably come out, I gotta wait a couple of years, but I want ten years to pass from the second one to the third one.”

So why ten years? Tarantino explains, “Two reasons. One, I think me and Uma needed a ten year break…. And the second one, I loved the character a lot. I think she deserved ten years to relax. She deserved ten years of no fighting, she deserved ten years with her child Bebe, just of peace. I put her through a lot those first two movies, I want her to have a nice, peaceful life for ten years. I want her to set up her store, and have some peace. But after ten years we’ll make her fight again.”

The original Kill Bill Vol. 1 was released in 2003. That could mean Kill Bill Vol. 3 in 2013 except, even though he mentions needing a break from Uma, QT says he only has to wait a couple of years and the ten years he discussed seemed to be related more to the timeline taking place inside the film than the one taking place out here. Kill Bill Vol. 3 could show up at any time.

Watch the full interview on Italian television via the embed below. It’s long, in Italian, and for most of the interview Tarantino seems utterly confused by what’s going around him until, that is, he starts pimping the Bride’s next film.

The Classiest McD's Worldwide...You'd Be Surprised

Best McDonald's

Top 10 List

By Nick Clarke

© McDonald's

We all get that craving for a burger -- or two -- at some point. And choosing the right spot to grab your grub often depends not only on the quality of the food, but also on the quality of the locale. While they haven't exactly been known for being the most stylish of restaurants (that plastic Ronald character sitting on the bench waiting for unsuspecting children always kinda creeped us out), McDonald's remain the burger joints of choice for many Americans thanks to their trademark 100% pure beef hamburgers and other drool-inducing options on the menu.

And as the world looks to designer cars, clothing and even gadgets, McDonald's is entering the world of modern, sophisticated design in ways we never would have associated with "fast food." Collaborating with well-known designers and architects, the McDonald's dining experience has been taken to a whole new level with some uber-chic locales around the world -- and we have the top 10 right here.

Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

New York, USA

Designed by New York-based Studio Gaia, the Big Apple’s signature outlet recently underwent a dramatic makeover with the implementation of the firm’s "Urban Living" theme -- a concept designed specifically for city locations. Outfitted with a range of luxurious custom seating, including loungers, banquettes and bar stools, the new-look McDonald’s encourages diners to come in and relax in the same way they would in, say, a Starbucks. There’s even Wi-Fi internet access so that city workers can crack open their laptops and get to work while they munch on a burger, with no time wasted between mouthfuls. Other features include circular pendants hanging overhead, a wooden feature ceiling, light wood flooring underfoot and dramatic black-and-white streetscape images affixed to the walls. More high-end restaurant than fast-food chain, this outlet really does put the sex in the city.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Porto, Portugal

While turning an architectural marvel such as Porto’s Café Imperial into a McDonald’s outlet may be something of a controversial conversion, it doesn’t take away from its sheer beauty. The former coffee house is classified as a national monument, so the chain has retained some of the building’s original features, such as the logo and stained-glass windows, while adding its own touches, including a rather imperial-looking McDonald’s sign and dazzling chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Holborn, UK

In 2006, McDonald’s enlisted French interior designer Philippe Avanzi to roll out a modern design concept across a number of its European stores; our favorite is London’s Holborn branch, which has truly embraced the "less is more" strategy with cool, contemporary interiors that mix replicated high-end design furniture -- including Arne Jacobsen chairs -- with sumptuous materials such as leather and timber.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© Ray Reiss

Savannah, USA

Sustainability and McDonald's don't usually go hand-in-hand, what with the chain shipping food across the globe in carbon-producing trucks and planes, but one branch that can't be criticized for its earth-destroying ways is a particularly self-righteous outlet in Savannah, Georgia. Dubbing itself "the chain's first green restaurant," the property features large windows that permit daylight to reach 75% of the interior (reducing the need for both electric lighting and heating), as well as bike racks to encourage customers to cycle to the restaurant, preferred parking for hybrid cars, waterless urinals, a white roof to reflect heat, and a cistern that harvests rainwater for irrigation. With its LEED gold certification, this branch proves that McDonald's can do green as well as its signature red and yellow.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Edinburgh, Scotland

Lounging back on sumptuous leather seating with dark wood coating the walls and trendy neon strips embedded into the paneling, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Edinburgh branch of McDonald’s on Princes Street as a stylish internet café or cool coffee house. But it’s not -- it’s yet another high-end property serving up Big Macs and fries, and we can’t think of a nicer place to pile on the pounds (though there are a number of salads to choose from, for those watching their waistlines). Other features include real-wood veneered solid-core fire doors with bespoke engravings, as well as Corian surfaces, tables, toilet cubicles, and vanity units.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Los Angeles, USA

The Echo Park branch of McDonald’s might easily be L.A.’s most popular restaurant. Yes, they’re calling McDonald’s outlets "restaurants" these days -- at least, specific ones. Not only is this space significantly more stylish than many of its L.A. counterparts -- with light wood, floor-to-ceiling windows and silver arches instead of golden ones -- but the outlet also takes pride in its communal feel. La Mesa Grande (the big table) takes center stage, crowned by a ring of 14 video screens displaying a tailored McDonald’s channel, flanked by 10 bar stools. Glass and stainless steel halogen lamps also hang overhead, while popular tunes blast out of the surround sound system.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© André Lapalus

Paris, France

Paris prides itself on its fancy fare, but that’s not to say you can’t find a tucked-away McDonald’s outlet on any given street. In fact, Paris has just as many McDonald's as London -- with only a third of the population. Testament to the capital’s forbidden love affair with McDonald’s is the branch on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. With fresh food images throughout the modern, almost futuristic design, this McD's is all about quality and high expectations. From leather curved sofas to bar seating, this McDonald's is as chic as the patrons who strut in on their Louis Vuitton heels and Armani soles. Paris is, after all, a fashion capital, so why wouldn't their McDonald's reflect that?

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Hacienda Heights, L.A.

You can always count on L.A. to bring a bit of a celebrity fad to the table, and that's exactly what the Hacienda Heights branch has done with a feng shui design that incorporates leather seats, earth tones, bamboo plants, and water trickling down shimmering glass panels. Situated close to a Buddhist temple in a predominantly Asian area, the theme couldn’t be more apt, with Zen-hungry customers lingering over long lunches.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Budapest, Hungary

An abandoned train station may not be the most obvious choice when it comes to picking the location for a McDonald’s outlet, but that’s exactly what this branch in Budapest is. With oversize windows, antique lighting and a colonial ceiling painted a soft blue color, you half expect to hear the thundering roar of a train as it approaches its platform. Outside, the building is clad in beautiful red brick and enclosed by wrought iron gates.

Pub. 09/29/09
Best McDonald's
© McDonald's

Oxford Street, UK

Oxford Street is McDonald’s UK flagship location, so it makes sense for the chain to flog its trademark burgers and fries in a super-luxurious setting. Having enlisted the help of London-based SHH Architects & Design Consultants, the outlet boasts a contemporary interior scheme that would put top bars and restaurants in the capital to shame; features include a color palette of white, yellow and red -- all lit with a stark lighting concept -- retro-style seating, saucer-shaped lighting overhead, and patterned mosaics and modern graphics coating the walls. A "bar" dining area also appears, as do TV screens, and wi-fi internet access.

500-carat diamond found at S. African mine

Chicken-egg-sized stone may be among world's top 20 high-quality gems

Image: 507 carat diamond
Petra Diamonds/ho / EPA
Petra Diamonds Chief Executive Johan Dippenaar holds a white diamond weighing 507.55 carats, which was excavated at the historic Cullinan mine in South Africa on Sept. 24, 2009.

A diamond’s journey
From the mines in Africa, to polishers in India, to retailers in the West, follow a diamond's global path to market. (Enhanced with audio)

JOHANNESBURG - Petra Diamonds Ltd. says a diamond the size of a chicken egg has been found at South Africa's Cullinan mine.

The diamond may be among the world's top 20 high-quality gems. It was discovered Thursday at the mine northeast of Pretoria, South Africa.

Johan Dippenaar, the company's chief executive said in a statement Tuesday that the 507.55-carat gem was of "exceptional color and clarity."

No value has been given yet for the diamond, which weighs just over 100 grams.

The mine also produced the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan, at 3,106 carats in the rough. That finished stone is set in Britain's Imperial Scepter as part of the Crown Jewels.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

7 Abandoned Architectural Wonders of Modern Asia

(Thanks in part to contributions by urban explorer and photographer Jon Dubar)

Abandoned buildings, properties and places take on remarkably different aesthetic character and are treated differently from one culture to the next – particularly in Asian nations where beliefs about the cultural role of architecture or the whims of a dictator can vary greatly. From South Korea to North Korea, Cambodia to Thailand and Azerbaijan to Hong Kong here are seven amazing oriental and subcontinental abandonments from the Near East to the Far East, from skyscraper hotels and pod cities to shopping malls and amusement parks and everything in between – fascinating remnants of past buildings and ways to see how the other half lives.

24 Haunting Ghost Towns & Amazing Abandoned Cities – Click for More!

1) The Lawless Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

(Images via MirageStudio, DoobyBrain, MissMeneses and StanleyNG)

In the rogue ungoverned Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong things were so tightly packed that trash blocked off parts of buildings and many occupied apartments literally never saw the light of day, almost as if the place were naturally becoming overgrown. Like something straight from a William Gibson novel, there were no police or building codes – there was no law. For nearly 50 years this slice of Hong Kong was allowed to exist and grow independently due to a legal technicality. After the Japanese left following the second World War squatters swarmed to fill the space, with the population at 10,000 people (living on seven acres) by the early 1970s – a combination of dissidents, outlaws and both organized and disorganized criminals. Professionals who couldn’t get a license set up shop, criminals hiding from the law thrived, and the self-organized community grew to 35,000. Then in 1993 everything changed – no one wants to deal with this lawless place anymore and it is promptly destroyed and turned into a park.

2) The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea

(Images via: Pbase, NomadLife, MyNinjaPlease and Vanibahl).

The Ryugyong Hotel in the capital city of Pyongyang, North Korea, was supposed to be a record-setting testament to the power, pride and ingenuity of one of the most totalitarian and self-insulating nations in the world. The building, meant to be a core monument to the strength of North Korea, was added to city maps and stamps before it was even half-built and was all set to be the tallest hotel in the world. At first the project simply ran out of funding, then as the low-quality concrete of which it was built began to sag and crack the sobering reality began to set it: the structure would need a massive overhaul to ever be completed. Now it goes unmentioned by tour guides, absent from maps and stamps, a symbolic blight towering on the capital city skyline.

3) The Pod City of San Zhi, Taiwan

(Images via Cypherone and Yusheng)

Rumors abound regarding this legendary abandoned pod city (aka ‘UFO town’) of San Zhi, Taiwan, which was supposedly built by the government of Taipei to be a luxury resort for expensive holidays on the water. Built in the 1970s or early 1980s the modularity of the designs has raised retroactive suspicions that perhaps these stacks were intended to be built vertically over time. Theories on the abandonment of this massively strange undertaken range from poor insulation in a difficult climate, the dissolution of business partnerships, the failure of a regional real estate bubble or even that so many workers died during construction that the place was abandoned as haunted – unable to be destroyed out of a cultural taboo on interfering with the homes of spirits and lost souls. See it from above using Google Maps.

4) The Abandoned City of Agdam, Azerbaijan

(Images via SeamlessTerritory and Lofiversion)

Once a capital city with over 150,000 people Agdam, Azerbaijan has been variously treated as a ghost town, a no-man’s-land and a military buffer zone in a troubled area of the world. In the 1990s it was vandalized and largely destroyed during Armenian occupation, its buildings looted and gutted and its mosque completely covered in graffiti. Currently considered part of Armenia this husk of a city sits in the heart of an area that is at the core of conflicted set of nations from Russia in the north and Georgia in the northwest to Armenia and Iran in the soutwest and south. It also sits at the curious geographical intersection of Europe and Asia, ambiguously defined as being part of both or either one of these continents. Given turmoil in the region it is unlikely to be rebuilt anytime soon – if ever – and its citizens have been displaced in all directions with little likelihood of returning home.

5) Bokor Hill Station in Phnom Bokor, Cambodia

(Images via Theo Wright, Klein Matt and Lenchik)

Bokor Hill Station is located on the mountain of Phnom Bokor, Cambodia and accessible only by a long trek across an overgrown dirt road to an elevation of 3,000 feet. At the top? The remains of a 1920s French retreat that has been deserted since the second World War including a hotel, casino, church, police station, post office, royal residences and other support structures. And today? The damage from mortar shells can be seen in shattered windows, crumbling staircases and decimated walls. The Khmer Rouge removed everything of any value – including the very wiring in the walls of the buildings. The ruins were later taken over by the Vietnamese in the 1970s before they were finally and permanently abandoned, though land mines in the area remain a danger to visitors who stray from the beaten path. Originally built due to the relatively temperate climate and wonderful views to the coast the area still boasts great sites from waterfalls to jungles and a vast array of wildlife.

6) Opko Land Theme Park in Opko, South Korea

(Images via Jon Dunbar)

Once a thriving amusement park Opko Land in Opko, South Korea was abandoned after a young girl was killed in a tragic accident while on one of the ride’s. Though the park was shut down and deserted the family of the unfortunate victim was never compensated for their loss. Most of the structures remain more-or-less intact including roller coasters, bumper cars, a pool building and various smaller rides. The top image above was taken from the highest point of the roller coaster – an ambitious location to seek out and shoot from given the partial disrepair of so much structural elements in this abandoned amusement park. One would think they would go all the way and destroy these buildings before some adventurous building infiltrators and urban explorers hurt themselves.

7) Chiang Shopping Complex in Chiang Mai, Thailand

(Images via Tupsumato)

The Five Chiang Shopping Complex is a beautiful series of interlocked wooden structures that once constituted one of the most magnificent malls in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a city which (including sprawl) has nearly a million inhabitants. The city attracts many tourists each year who are drawn in part to local handcrafted goods such as umbrellas, jewelry and woodcarving – some of which is evidenced in the wooden decorations, balconies and terraces of this deserted shopping center. The complex was an international joint project that fell victim to conflicting political opinions and a depressed Thai economy and now sits remarkably intact but closed, locked and boarded and utterly unused. However, the local guards are reportedly quite friendly and a few kind words can let you slip past and get some essential background questions answered.