Thursday, May 15, 2008

Urine It to Win It (Redux)

This work business -- at least returning to a 40-hour week -- sure makes it hard to keep up with everything as before. Not surprisingly, the last post here was on the day I began my new job. I guess I forgot to keep up because I was overwhelmed with finally having an office with a window.
Or maybe I am getting up early, working 10 hours a day so I can keep one day a week to myself, and staying up too late following five fantasy baseball teams. Anyway, here is my new contact info, followed by some thoughts about a new environment:

Ira R. Allen
Public Affairs Specialist
Fogarty International Center
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B2C29
Bethesda, MD
Yes, this is the famed National Institutes of Health, whose two most striking physical features are its campus-like setting in the midst of suburban congestion and its prison-like security installed after 9/11 in case a terrorist thinks he could thwart an institution that combines the worst of government, hospital and academic bureaucracies. Lotsa luck.

One of the things about this job is even though I am technically an employee of Kelly Services, it would be considered bad form to continue some of my more trenchant musings about the head of the executive branch of government. I don't need to anymore, given that 80-plus percent of the American public agrees with them. Here, though, is what an anthropologist has found as a model for the current bureaucrat in chief.

The other interesting thing I found was the paradox of the men's rooms. There is one very close to my office, which is great now that I have, to quote the commercial, a "growing problem. The first day, I walked into it and was befuddled by the apparatus on the wall where a urinal ought to be. It wasn't like anything I had seen before. I didn't know whether to stand in front of it or sit in it.
"It" turns out to be a "water free" pissoir that claims to save 40,000 gallons a year per unit. Big unit! For more information, feel free to go here. (groan)
Yet here is the paradox. I was in an older building on campus today, and it has a men's room where it looks like a servant might have lived in the century in which this edifice was built. It had regular old-fashioned urinals, but the soap? Individual containers of a pumpable antibacterial soap -- which as everyone but the brains at the world's largest biomedical institution knows can cause more illness than it cures.

Not to worry. A recent study showed have also shown that if no one else is in the men's room about one-third of users don't bother with the soap and water at all.

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