Hartley: Urine — it’s not just for breakfast anymore | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: Urine — it’s not just for breakfast anymore

Hartley Todd

I would like to stress, before this vile column begins, that it is not my fault. If it were up to me, we’d be using this space to have a rational debate on the pros and cons of having a giant KFC bucket appear in your yard.

But no — apparently the world wants to talk about pee.

It all started three weeks ago, when my wife sent me an email, the subject of which was: “for a future column?” It was a link to a story on Treehugger.com about how some British scientists have figured out a way to power cellphones with urine, and it was admittedly worthy of a column.

It had some great quotes, including this one from an engineer named (seriously) Ioannis Ieropoulos: “No one has ever harnessed power from urine to do this so it’s an exciting discovery.”

The idea of urine powering a cellphone is inherently funny because I would have no idea where to pee in my phone — unless there’s an app for that. I’d also have a hard time doing it, for philosophical and physical reasons.

And obviously, the idea of urine powering a cellphone is inherently funny because I would have no idea where to pee in my phone — unless there’s an app for that. I’d also have a hard time doing it, for philosophical and physical reasons.

It was a great premise for a column, but I still thought it might be hard to get 750 words out of it. People usually don’t want to read that much about urine — or so I thought. In any event, I didn’t use the pee-phone idea for a column that week.

After I’d written and submitted the column I wrote, my wife asked me what the subject was, and I told her it was about a guy who got dumped, tried to sleep in a tree, slept in the bushes at his ex’s place, got beat up by an ex-Marine and got sprayed in the face with bear mace.

“Oh,” she said. “You didn’t use the urine-powered-cellphones story?”

I could tell by her tone that she was a little hurt. The pee-phone story was important to her. She’d been excited about being the one to find it, and she sent it to me because she’s always looking out for me. It bothered her that I’d dismissed her show of affection, like a cat that pees on a pillow when you’re not sufficiently thankful for the dead mouse it left on your bed.

I needed to make amends, but I still didn’t know how to make pee-phones a full column. I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. I was all set to delve into the giant-KFC-bucket mystery for this week’s column, but then, out of the blue, the night before my deadline, along comes a story about how Chinese scientists are using urine to regrow teeth.

Wow. If that’s not a sign from above, I don’t know what is. That’s the world just opening up her heart and showering me with her love, giving me a way to make things better with my love, all through the transformative power of pee.

Buoyed by the pee-teeth story, I did some research on other uses for urine and learned that three schoolgirls in Nigeria invented a backup generator that runs on pee. I learned that if you harvest the urine of menopausal women, you can extract an important medication for infertility. I learned that if you pee on your compost, it makes it better fertilizer. And I learned that people have been drinking pee for thousands of years.

That just shows how stupid I’m really with; I thought the only positive use of urine was for peeing on someone’s leg or arm if they get stung by a jellyfish.

This was certainly column fodder now, this flood of new info on liquid human waste. This opened itself up to comparisons with George Washington’s choppers and thoughts on why Nigerian kids are kicking our kids’ asses academically. The pee-teeth story even involved stem cells, which are always a good subject for debate in the hands of a guy who writes columns about pee. This was a no-brainer. This was a column that would just pour right out of me.

But then I stopped, and being my morally righteous self, I asked myself if it was right to devote so much editorial real estate to such an icky subject. I pride myself on my impeccable social graces, you know. In the end I reasoned that showing my loving wife how much I appreciate her was worth grossing people out, so I used her pee-phone story as the basis for this week’s column.

Happy National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, honey. Keep those urine-related column ideas flowing.

Todd Hartley is No. 1! To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://www.zerobudget.net.

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