World Toilet Summit: A Flush of Excitement

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1. Shy Bladders of America Unite!
If you think public restrooms in America stink, you're not alone. A new group, the North American Restroom Association, is fighting for better bathrooms — and more of them.

"The truth is, our country is far behind when it comes to public bathroom rights," says NARA co-founder Steven Soifer, a professor of social work at the University of Maryland.

"In places like Japan, there are public groups that make sure there are cleaner, safer toilets in shopping centers, bus stations and airports. Why can't we have an advocate group like that in America to steer people away from nightmarish situations?"

NARA is planning to help host the 2006 World Toilet Summit in the United States, which would be the first time such a meeting would be held outside of Asia.

In the meantime, Soifer's organization is trying to build public support and corporate cooperation on its Web site ( with message boards so that Americans can rate the good and bad restrooms in their neighborhoods, in the hope of one day building a database of star-rated toilets open to the public.

"If you had a bad experience in a public restroom," he says, "we want to know."

2. Portable Toilet Door Handles
Here's a new travel accessory no germophobe should be without: the Wakmah portable door handle, the latest gizmo to minimize contact with unsavory public restrooms.

This lightweight plastic knob, which fits in your pocket, is equipped with a powerful suction cup to pull open a heavy door without your fingers touching a door handle where countless slobs may have laid their grimy hands.

Of course, when you and your Wakmah handle get home, you may want to strap on some rubber gloves, scrub that thing thoroughly and douse yourself with disinfectant.

3. Tomorrow's Toilet: TV Medicine Cabinets and Tanning Showers

Want to watch TV while you're brushing your teeth? Thanks to the magic of flat-screen technology, bathroom mirrors are now available with built-in TV screens — just don't blame anyone at ABC if you cut yourself shaving while watching "Good Morning America."

Gracious Home, a high-end home store in New York City, began offering TV bathroom mirrors starting at $2,700 earlier this year. Where do you insert your DVDs? You may not want to know.

Don't worry if you find yourself spending more time in the bathroom. By the end of the year, Gracious Home plans to offer a device that will allow you to get a tan while you're taking a shower. Coppertone shampoo can't be too far off.

4. New Scale Tells You More Than 'You're Getting Fat'
Any lifelong dieter will tell you that bathroom scales lie. The scale says you're getting fatter, but you know you're just retaining water.