Why do so many urinals have stickers of flies in them? Although I don’t see them everywhere, I have been seeing them more frequently over the past couple years. And while we’re sort of on the topic, why do flies love shit so much? And when a fly lands on you or your food, what are the odds that it had shit on its feet (or whatever fly feet are called)?
— Mike, College Area
Fly feet are more like fly claws. No fly Nikes to fit them, I’m afraid. Flies are just junk junkies, trash tweakers, poo poppers. They love it, they eat it, they can’t live without it. Any smelly stuff will do for a good meal, and of course what they step in they transfer to the next surface. And that might be you. As for flies’ penchant for urinals, you can pee around the world and find bugs in the bowls. It’s been a global phenomenon since attention was drawn to them in Amsterdam’s airport years ago.
As any housewife with three boys and a husband will tell you, the most evil part of the house to clean is on or around the toilet. Sticky, smelly, never stays sanitary. So though I have no proof, my guess is the urinal flies are just exaggerations of solutions that mothers came up with a long time ago. New moms of young boys learn this ancient wisdom in secret tribal circles at the feet of the matriarchs. Float a Cheerio on the water in the bowl and boys will earnestly try to sink it or pee in the hole. In either event, clean-up is so much easier.
The universal problem, of course, is a man’s (or boy’s) genetic inability to pee and aim at the same time. Even when sober, bad aim means more splashing. More splashing means a sticky urine shower everywhere. Apparently there is a sweet spot in urinals that, when hit perfectly, directs the stream down the drain, not all over you or the floor. A sweet spot like a Louisville Slugger has a sweet spot. Luckily, all you need to do to get men to hit it is to put a target — any target — on a urinal’s sweet spot. It seems to be inbred in men to chase, attack, drown any target you provide. Amsterdam ran its own experiment after the fly urinals were installed and found that clean-up was 80 percent easier once men had a target. I have no idea how the Dutch reduced the situation to numbers, but apparently the janitorial crew was 80 percent happier post-flies.
Amsterdam and many other airports have urinals with flies manufactured into the glazed surface. Do-it-yourselfers can buy stick-on toilet targets in various forms: boats, classic targets, soccer balls, baseballs, tires, butterflies. (Yes, butterflies. You can break up into discussion groups later and bat around your ideas about urinal butterflies.) If men and boys keep their eyes and other body parts aimed at the target, things are peachy. We also came across references to some of the extremes mothers have gone to in order to avoid the frustration of urine-soaked floors. Cat litter is one desperation move some have adopted.
You guys have no information on how water finds its own level. PLEASE GET SOME. IT’S FOR A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT!
— Loser, via paper airplane
Googling has now officially replaced thinking. A student is merely the passive device through which a teacher’s question is transmitted to the web, where an answer magically appears. Heck, I didn’t do my own homework; I hate starting now doing somebody else’s. But you were nice enough to say “please” to a disembodied etherbeing who doesn’t even have the power to send you to bed without dessert for not saying “please.”
So, okay, you want something eye-catching but is still scientifically relevant. Gather up a garden hose, a clarinet, a bagpipe, five-inch PVC sewer pipe, a megaphone, a flute, and a large glass globe with a hole in the top and bottom. Plug up each end of the hose; make holes in the hose for each of the items you collected, so they attach perpendicularly to the hose. Pour water into one of them...say, the megaphone, then stand back and observe the level of the water in each object. Well, I guess the glass one is the only one you can see, but trust me, the level in each object is at exactly the same level as the others. Straight as an arrow. Trust us. Add more water, levels change but they are still in a straight line down the hose.
There, you’ve proved that water seeks it own level. Gravity never sleeps and the pressure on all water in all objects is equal. Water pressure on the walls of each object is equal. You might only get a B or C on this, depending on how your teacher responds to your “trust me” plea. Transparent things would be much better, but not as much fun.