Maybe the question was not about public urinal types, but simply home toilet bowls.
When a boy, I had this quarrel with my mother.
I used to aim the porcelain side or back, because (a) I thought it was less noisy than to splash the water (especially if I woke up early and the family was still sleeping) (b) I also thought it would make less drops outside the bowl.
(And Cecil seems to have made my point. Thirty years later ! Thank you Cecil.)
My mother insisted that I should aim the water: she considered piss would bounce on porcelain but be absorbed by water. And she accused me of splashing all around the toilet.
Experimentation (yes, a scientific mind begins young) lead me to no clear-cut conclusion. I seemed to do not much harm to the floor, whatever the method.
In the end I found out it was my father who had some aiming problem. Seems my mother had it more natural to educate her boy than her husband…
I consider it extremely bad form to stand up at a toilet period. Especially in a private home. There may be ways to minimize splashes… (at filthy gas station rest rooms I flush FIRST, creating a vortex and bubbles out of which no splash can escape)… but there is NO WAY to control those periodic accidents when a sticky penis first squirts pee sideways or in two streams before settling into a strong downward flow. I don’t stand up in other people’s houses, and I get ‘pissed off’ when they stand up at MY toilet and soak my floor [and magazines and towels and walls …]
A propos of not very much, but following on from the “give fellers something to aim for” idea, I’ve recently notived an ingenious development in urinal enhancement technology and marketing.
At a football stadium I frequent in London, the urinals have stickers on them. These stickers, naturally become targets. When the higher temperature, er, let’s just call it liquid, hits the heat sensitive stickers, they change and reveal the advertising slogan.
Genius. Minimising splashback, while getting your message across. Hats off to the bloke who invented that.
I, too, am thinking that Cecil bailed out on a complete answer by failing to address the appropriate methodology for approaching traditional toilets.
Years of experience and thoughtful deliberation have taught me to aim near the back of the water, just short of the porcelain. This seems to avoid the deep-water splashing and noisiness phenomenon while also mitigating the splash-back of a direct hit on the porcelain.
And so far as having something to aim for in urinals, I’m especially fond of the ones that have those little fans, which enable the user to try to make them spin as fast as possible. In a man’s world, everything’s a game.
When I was in college, the fraternity house had a small “Virginia Tech” sticker in the back of the urinal (I went to Va. Tech). Now THAT gave you something to aim for. Maybe nowadays people are putting little pictures of Saddam Hussein, or President Bush, or whoever. (I’d personally aim for Tom Daschle.)
I’ve actually thought about this before, and my conclusion was that aiming anywhere on the back wall of the urinal will cause some of it to bounce back at you. Yuck. But (and Cecil mentions this in his column) if you can get the right angle on the porcelain the stream will just run straight down the urinal with no splash. How? Stand slightly off center and aim at the sides. Some urinals just aren’t shaped right for this, but most have a flat side at about 90 degrees from the back—and approximately parallel to the direction of the stream, making it easier to get a sufficiently oblique angle.
As for private toilets, that’s more of a dilemma. For auditory reasons I don’t like aiming for the water (hadn’t even really thought about splash in that case; I just don’t like the sound); so I aim for the porcelain just above the water line. But then, no matter how, er, tightly-controlled the stream is, I feel like there is always a tiny bit that goes astray and lands on the edge of the bowl. The seat’s up, so it’s not unsanitarily gross, but it’s still gross. (Honestly, even if we aimed for the water, I think there’d still be some making it to the edge.)
I think more private homes need urinals. Not only would it be more sanitary, it’d save a lot of water on flushing.
A few (more-or-less) related observations from the international scene:
I recently visited Japan and noticed a trend in some public restrooms. The urinals have a shallow “auxilliary” trough on the floor, below the lip of the urinal, to contain the results of splashing. I found this deeply disturbing. It draws attention to a problem that we all know exists, but never talk about (except on SD). The trough makes you confront the fact that you’re incompetent at an activity you’ve been engaged in since you were born.
Also in Japan, on many of the trains they have urinal-only restrooms the size of a phone booth. The door has a window whereby any passers-by can see your full frontal backside. (The urinal is arranged so that you face away from the door.) Of course, when peeing you wouldn’t normally be showing any backside, but still, any “gyrations” are clearly noticeable.
In France, I once used a portable roadside multi-urinal. Instead of port-a-johns, they have these multi-urinals. From the top, it looks like a big plastic asterisk. You stand in one of the “V’s”, facing toward the center, and pee into a hole in the plastic. There’s no backside coverage at all, with or without a window. Again, the “arms” of the asterisk hide the naughty bits, but the “dance of urination” is clearly visible.
On the other hand, visitors from Japan or Europe to the U.S. are appalled that our stall doors/walls don’t go all the way to the floor. In those countries the stalls are completely enclosed, and may even be separate rooms.
On the other (third) hand, at public restrooms in Japan and Europe, female attendants come in to clean at all hours and everyone just goes about their business.
Interesting what different people see as disgusting in different places.
Speaking of disturbing parts of toilets, has anybody ever used one of those “water closets” (you know, a “sit-down” toilet) with the shelf that sticks up out of the water? The one like this that I used was in Belgium, but I understand that they are common in the Netherlands. For those unfamiliar, a column of porcelain rises up from the bottom maybe 8 inches out of the water to form a shelf maybe 4-5 inches wide.
Now, I never got the opportunity to use this toilet for a number two, but I wonder: is this shelf so you can admire your handiwork after you’ve deposited it? If not, what is its purpose?
The Germans hit the nail on the head with their public roadside toilets. I used a few that only had a vortex shaped floor with a covered hole in the middle and two pedestal foot-shaped protrusions on either side of the hole. No instructions necessary. You stand in the only possible place you CAN stand, and either stand upright and pee, or squat like a cave man and make your deposit to the covered hole. TP was in a lidded enclosure. When you leave, and the door clicks shut – the hole opens and the entire room flushes! No worrys about splashes there.
I’ve never in my travels seen a porcelain platform sticking out of a toilet. THAT is creepy.
“the entire room flushes”. That’s great. Sort of like the traditional toilets in China, where you put your feet on little treads and then do your business into the slot-shaped hole beneath you. My (7-year-old at the time) son looked at one of them and said “Er… I can hold it.”
One sure cure for the problem is to go out doors to “check” something like the AC compressor, termite detectors, or etc. Or just hike a leg and “mark your territory”. Of course this is best done at night and in poorly lighted areas since daylight, whether natural or artifical, would likely draw unwanted attention. But, what the hell, there won’t be any shiney tile or porcelin fixtures to splash with pee. And if it happens to be winter with snow on the ground as you can practice your “penmanship”.
The dreaded shelf toilets appear to be found in at least Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. The best quote: “The odd shape of the toilet incorporates a shelf that rests above the waterline and acts as an examination table, as it would appear the Dutch pay more attention to their meals after they eat them than when making them.”
Waterless urinals are one way to avoid the issue of splashing in the water. Also a new water-conservation trend, I suppose. Here’s a US manufacturer: http://www.waterless.com/
Don’t know about splash-back, though, because from the photo it looks like the rear wall is flat, not parabolic. However, they claim that the waterless design will “improve restroom hygiene”:
"No-FlushTM urinals improve rest room hygiene: Urine itself is normally sterile, 0% bacterial. Fecal matter is 95% bacterial, and may include pathogens.
Microbes, bacteria and viruses thrive in moisture, but they die when dried. There are surface areas in water flush urinals that are constantly damp where bacterial growths appear. These growth colonies are seeded by fecal material carried in air-borne droplets and aerosols that were produced by the turbulence in flushing the rest room’s toilets. When the rest room urinals are themselves flushed they in turn create aerosols containing the new-growth bacteria, and inject still more microbes into the rest room atmosphere.
Installing No-FlushTM urinals with predominantly dry surfaces and no flushing actions lessen rest room visitor exposures to airborne bacteria."