David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
What a Waste!

June 29, 2015 

I am still having difficulty focusing on newsworthy topics for this blog.  Between my parents' deaths and the constant monotonous redundancy of higher education news, inspiration has been hard to come by.  The only real hope is the truly inane news story, the kind of thing I am more likely to find googling "weird news" than "higher education news."  And yet today both have given me something good to digest (so to speak).

What can humans do with their waste?  And I don't mean their Poland Water bottles or their cell phones. I mean their human waste.  Let's enumerate the festival-like atmosphere surrounding current projects with our excrement:

Number One:  The University of the West of England has set up booths at the Glastonbury music festival that will allow attendees to light up the urinal with their pee.  Here's a short version summarizing this idea.  For the truly twisted, read a longer version here (with a video that, I assume, streams; I wasn't going to touch that). To try and really keep this short, in essence, the urinal turns the pee into a biofuel that lights the actual urinal. 

I pity the fool that was first to use it, probably standing (I am assuming the first person is a guy, the gender more likely to embrace an opportunity like this) in the dark, desperately trying to start his flow of pee.  (Although, as I can attest from my weekend drive across the Ohio Turnpike, make the festival goers wait 45 minutes {miles} to get to the next rest room, and you might be able to light the stall even from a distance!).

However, if I pity that fool, what emotion do I generate for this woman described in the University's press release?

"This year PhD student Bethany Fox will collect samples of waste shower water from the Festival, to scope out the potential for the water treatment plant to be deployed next year.  The team need to verify the suitability of the current filtration system and adapt the unit, if necessary, to deal with the detergents in shower water. In addition to the on-site sampling, 6,000 litres of waste shower water from the Festival will be collected to be used in trials over the coming year."

Talk about someone giving her all for science.  Or, actually, talk about the rest of us giving her our all for science.

Number Two: Meanwhile, elsewhere at Glastonbury, human poop was being collected, as 'humanure."  More than 250 loos (gotta love the British language) are converting the human waste into compost. I don't have a lot of the details on this story; I refuse to pay for a subscription to England's The Sunday Times just to find crap.  However, this brief blurb tells me enough to be worried: the humanure would be used for hanging baskets.  I don't think so for me.  I don't need some football hooligan's composted Newcastle-imbued, bangers-and-mash-steeped, faeces, hanging around my house.

How fortunate for all of us that musical genius, and cultural chronicler, Pete Townsend, famously pictured in post-urination of a monolith on the cover of "Who's Next,"  was at the concert.  He was heard yelling "F*ing Crap" at the concert.   The casual observer thought he was complaining about the sound.  Almost assuredly he was complaining about the smell.  His hearing may be gone, but his sense of smell is better than ever.

I suspect that about now the festival is considering changing its name.  The Netherlands this year had a music festival called DefQon1. I suggest they beat Glastonbury to the punch with the Def-e-cateon1 Festival.  The motto for the festival is easy: "I attended Def-e-cateon 1.  I may have destroyed this guy's farm, but I contributed to the environment."

I think the bands, artists and songs are easy to predict:

The Cars, "Let's Go."

REO Speedwagon, "Keep Pushin'."

Coldplay, "Yellow."

Pearl Jam, "Even Flow."

Joe Jackson, "Be My Number Two."

Bob Dylan, "Blowin' In The Wind" with a segue into "Sweetheart Like You" ("what's a sweetheart like you/doing in a dump like this?")

Ben Folds Five, "Song for the Dumped."

Jackson Browne, "The Load-Out."

Lynyrd Skynyrd, "That Smell."

Robert Plant, "Big Log."

J. Geils Band, "Piss On The Wall."

Some artists might want to slightly tweak their songs to better match the Festival atmosphere:

Green Day, "Wake Me Up When The Septic Ends."

The Who, "Pinball Whizard."

Madness, "Out House."

Rod Stewart, "Urine, My Heart."

Jethro Tull, "Aquadung."

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, "The Stool on the Hill."

Guaranteed to bring down the house and 6 months later to bring up the flowers.