Pissing and shitting
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The chance that a reference is made to pissing during flight approaches one, the longer a paragliding forum exists. The corresponding threads often propose technical methods and equipment to address this issue, but somehow never seem to address the fundamental cause of the problem. Men has been made to piss with both feet on the ground. It is one of the principal design features of men. You simply can not neglect this evolutionary inheritance, or correct it by putting all kinds of technical stuff around or in your private parts.

We do not fly as naturally as the other birds. For example, we have hair and clothing instead of feathers. Some pilots secretly use feathers in their clothing, hoping it will make them fly better than the other pilots. Though this helps in keeping them warm at high altitude or in winter, it does not make them fly. Clothing is our main handicap when trying to relieve ourselves in the air, since it blocks the two output ports that are needed for this. This blockade is enforced by the harness we are strapped in, making it extremely difficult to get out of our clothes while flying. This is all very safe and comfortable, but not very handy.

A seagull effortlessly dumps its surplus weight on any passer-by, much to its delight it seems. We humans, also known as an intelligent species because of having a much bigger brain than the simplistic seagull, can not. Knowing this principal design restriction (or should I say failure, considering the seagull), the solution to the pissing problem is obvious: land! Landing means you can relieve yourself in accordance with your design. I prefer to land after two to three hours of flight and rest a bit. And to piss of course. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity and need it 30 minutes after taking off again.

Since there are not a lot of toilets around in the mountains, you probably have to adapt your behaviour a little bit. For those who are unfamiliar with the subject, the rules for relieving yourself are simple:

Considering the amount of sheep and chamois shit you are likely to step in when landing on a mountain slope, adding yours won't make that much difference. What does make a difference though is the paper work. All excrements will eventually be processed by nature. Nature thrives on excrements. It is a fundamental part of the system. It may be hard to imagine for someone far removed from nature, reading this while enjoying a little break at the office, but without shit the world would grind to a halt within days. Nature is so hungry for shit that your excrements will have been processed naturally in a few days to weeks. Money has the name, but shit really makes the world go round.

Toilet paper however is not as easily processed, since it was not incorporated in the design of the (original) system. And because it is not mother nature's favourite, toilet paper can can linger for years before it is digested by the environment. Anyone who has ever slightly gone off the beaten path when walking the sentier Martel (just next to the path, behind the bushes), probably agrees. Sheep and chamois do not wipe their bottoms with toilet paper. Neither should you, unless you take it with you to dispose of properly. You and nature are better off using natural resources such as grass and leaves, which nature is able to process adequately. This also has the advantage of saving weight and space in you backpack. Besides that, there is probably no reason to wipe your butt if you eat healthy anyway.

Some places are more suited for relieving yourself than others. When looking for a place to sleep, you probably would not want to find a turd in the middle of the only place on the mountain slope that is fit for sleeping. Likewise, you probably also belong to the majority that does not like to see a big brown boat floating by when swimming in an otherwise crystal clear lake. So please, do not relieve yourself near/in/under rivers, lakes, paths, shelter, picnic spots, recreational areas, private properties, crops, bus stops, bridges, balconies, et cetera.

As an example: some male pilots (yes, it is probably you!) often relieve themselves where you do not like them to. They act like those overly active male dogs that need to spread their urine all over the place, because it makes them feel more important than the other dogs that just did the same a little while ago. Trees, fence posts, car wheels, bikes, or your leg are their favourite places to leave a message.

I know it is an important means of communication for them, but that does not make it easier when they are pissing against my backpack or glider. It is even harder observing male pilots displaying a similar behaviour on take-off. There should not be any need for pissing off someone in order to communicate, when you have a far more sophisticated brain and vocal cords than a dog. Sadly, this is not the case.

There are few trees on the Chalvet take-off that provide shelter from the sun. This is fortunate for top landing, less so for parawaiting. On a good (i.e. sunny) day, the sun can really exhaust you even before you get into the air (or ride the car down if you are the shuttle bunny that day). So, some people prefer to wait in the shade of those few small trees just behind take-off.

Apparently needing something to mentally hold on to, male pilots often piss against the two nearby (small) trees just before taking off. Trees where people picnic in the shade. The same shade that shields a mother with her children from the sun as she waits for her husband to take-off. Most of the pilots that need to piss just walk a few metres extra to where the thorny bushes start. The ones who do not, spoil it for the others that day. Or even a few days if it does not rain for a while.

And Chalvet is not the only place. On Planfait, the north side of the take-off area is a smelly place during high season. Why don't you gentlemen pissing pilots get lost in the woods just a few metres further, so that people on take-off can get some fresh air in the shade?

As a final example, people do not like to be caught shitting. So, they prefer to shit in sheltered places such as bus stops, caves, cabanes, (unguarded) refuges, sheds, garages, et cetera. Imagine sitting at a breakfast table, discovering that someone has been using it as a toilet. Or going to bed at night and finding someone's message between the sheets. Or finding shelter during a thunderstorm, only to step out of the rain into the shit. Please think of this before you follow primitive bodily reflexes.

Most villages in the Alps have adequate public facilities for relieving yourself. They may not be that clean all the time, but people that have no fear of jumping of a mountain, should not be afraid of using them. Unfortunately, most are though.

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2009-12-15