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Tom Keating's notes from the aisle: Part three

November 03, 2010
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PHILADELPHIA — A three-header hydra meeting requires choosing among concurrent sessions, yet conventions are for contacts more than content. So, I chose to learn more about building codes, specifically the plumbing code.
The International Code Council (ICC) bookstore in the Exhibition Pavilion opened at 8 a.m. and I was there — not for the flying urinal tie, though I was tempted — but to review the ICC Plumbing Code 2009 with Commentary.
The staff was experienced, knowledgeable and very helpful. For too long, when I have heard local school system "buyers," hired architects, project managers, contractors or even city inspectors say, "it''s according to code," I imagined Canon Law and felt inclined to genuflect, a tradition long unpracticed.
I found several sections on urinals in schools and moved on to American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) or World Toilet Summit (WTS) panels until late in the afternoon when I attended a three-person presentation on "Global Guidelines for Practical Toilet Design." It was not like watching paint dry, though unreadable PowerPoint slides shown backwards or read by speakers continue to be deadly.
The difference between codes, standards and guidelines are essential. These broadly written guidelines on toilet design have engaged the talents of multi-country writers and may help mitigate future sanitation difficulties. Just try thinking about "global guidelines" and then the meaning of words, which is often scoffed as semantics, became very important. For example, consider that a toilet "should" or "may," which might be an early draft choice, yet eventually presented the sentence may read "shall" or "must."
Or, weigh whether signing a proclamation would help promote these guidelines. And, didn’t I sign the Belfast Protocol in 2005? Where is it? What did it do?
Enough for now. Many members of the American Restroom Association speak tomorrow, as do I — the last day, the last panel, the last speaker. Now, speaking of words and their use, let’s watch election returns.
Dr. Tom Keating, ASPE correspondent and speaker
To read Keating''s thoughts from yesterday and Monday, click here and here.
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