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Mesquite bathroom wrecked by teenage motorist
Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To say the Birmingham family of Mesquite, Texas, may require a new bathroom vanity would be a substantial understatement.


According to a report from an NBC affiliate station, a speeding 17-year-old driver crashed his red Ford Mustang into their home on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 27. No serious injuries were reported, but the home's bathroom, bedroom and living room were all reduced to rubble.


The news report said that Susie Birmingham had exited her house only about a half hour before the accident occurred.


"I had an angel," she told the news provider. "I was just shocked [in] disbelief that it could do this much damage."


Although extremely distraught about the state of her home, she expressed substantial gratitude that the teenager driver survived the crash. However, she and her husband said they're not sure yet whether or not to press charges against him.


Ohio college bathrooms defaced by inspirational messages

Not all damage to bathrooms is accidental or unintentional. Some of it might even be well-intended.


The BG News, the Bowling Green State University newspaper, recently published an article examining how some students are apparently scribbling encouraging slogans and messages on some of women's bathrooms at the college.


"When it starts getting negative, I don’t really like it," sophomore Darien Perrin told the news source. "I just feel like if somebody is in a bad mood, if you see a quote while in the bathroom, it could lift your spirits a little."


Anna Estrada, the manager of the campus custodial staff who also spoke with the news source, recalled being pained to wash a large mural off a bathroom wall. She suspected the project took quite some time and was probably the work of an art student. However, she noted that most scribblings on the bathroom walls are a minor annoyance custodians see as part of their jobs to remove.


After noting that paper used to be posted on the bathroom walls so students could write messages without inconveniencing the custodial staff, the news source recited a conversation with Country Jones, a freshman who felt such mini-bulletin boards could be on the walls in more bathrooms.


"I feel like it's a form of expression, but if you're just blatantly writing on the stall, it's just wrong," she said. 


Estrada mentioned that the messages and scribblings she's seen in the men's bathroom are typically contain fewer words and are often a bit more disgusting.

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Major news source providers advise on bathroom upgrades
Posted on Monday, October 29, 2012

The Boston Globe recently offered tips on how to remodel a lavatory so that its decor is more up to date with modern bathroom vanities, based on findings from a Consumer Reports article. The news source notes that many people are focusing on bathrooms and kitchens as major renovation projects, while bathrooms are often difficult and pricey to effectively reimagine.


The information sources states that, while duel sink arrangements have been popular, one sink combined with extra counter space may make for a less expensive situation due to the decreased cost of a single faucet. Framed mirrors instead of mirrored walls, and soothing colors like blue for wallpaper and tiles are also recommended, while dark green is discouraged. Yellow has grown in popularity, according to the news source. Having a large shower - 4 by 6 feet in area - can make for a more comfortable bathing experience. Furthermore, going even larger with a 5 by 7 foot bathing space eliminates the need for a shower door, as showerheads may not be able to splash that far.


The news provider also notes that keeping the toilet out of sight has become fashionable. It's said that the john can be located behind a half-wall or in its own "room within a room," and an extra bit of furniture can be used to block the toilet off in lieu of a literal wall. 


More guidance on bathroom remodeling

Another article from U.S. News says bathroom remodeling can bring about a more than 60 percent return on investment, if done correctly. But it takes effort.


"A lot of folks, when they buy a home, don't want to have put a lot of work into it," Paul Wyman, a real estate agent with the Wyman Group in Indiana, told the news source. "An outdated bathroom requires a lot of work."


Increasing a bathroom's size is rarely simple, however that's the first thing experts speaking to U.S. News recommend for making a bathroom more attractive. A contractor, Dennis Gehman of Gehman Remodeling in Pennsylvania, told the news source that a fresh coat of paint, a new toilet or new shower accessories won't mean that much if the floors, walls, shower and other porcelain accommodations aren't up to optimal standards.

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Are office bathrooms behind the times?
Posted on Friday, October 26, 2012

Recently, Bloomberg BusinessWeek published an article noting that, although many home bathrooms stay up to date with modern bathroom vanities and other luxuries common to the current times, most office bathrooms haven't quite kept up with the trend.


The new source says that, apart from accommodations of the handicapped and, perhaps, some water pressure control mechanisms to save water, office bathrooms have mostly remained about as comfortable and efficient as they were in the 1980s, which, in this regard, isn't much different from the 1950s.


"You’ll find more custom bathrooms in someone’s home," Florian Idenburg, an architect whose team designed an opulent bathroom at a New York fashion house, told the news source. "It’s a place where people don’t want to spend an extensive amount of money—and it’s also something that needs to be easy to clean. Some of this is driven, I think, by people wanting to spend the least time cleaning it."


According to Bloomberg, landlords who own many office buildings are not required, and therefore generally don't want to spent the money, to make washing facilities attractive to office dwellers.


However, the bathrooms at Derek Lam, which Idenburg helped design alongside associates from the SO-IL architecture firm, is mentioned by Bloomberg as being unusually modern office lavatories. A few of Google's offices are said to have suave bathrooms, as are those at the San Francisco web startup Airbnb. It seems that individuals who need to work in an environment where they can enjoy a pleasant bathroom experience should consider maneuvering their careers toward the web.


Women's Health provides instructions for office bathroom etiquette

Many men, when some benign circumstance leads them to enter women's bathrooms with permission, are surprised to find it in about the same condition they're accustomed to seeing men's room. Which means most of the rules provided by the magazine Women's Health for office bathroom etiquette should apply to men as well - apparently both genders could use a crash course in lavatory manners.


Putting the toilet paper down at a distance within arms length of the toilet is mentioned as a good practice, and if anyone notices that a stall is out of paper, they should make a point to replace it before the next person comes in. The magazine lists more rules, but perhaps the most important is to always remember to flush.

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A worldwide examination of recent bathroom catastrophes
Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012

It was pretty much the worst case scenario for anyone who's ever been on his or her way to use the toilet.


On Tuesday, October. 16, a 58-year-old Harlem man, who is not named in a report from the New York Post, was in critical condition at St. Luke's Hospital after plummeting from his second floor apartment after his bathroom floor fell out from under him.


"He told me, 'Felipe, I think I'm going to die,'" 19-year-old Felipe Pena told the news provider. Pena responded to the victim's pleas for assistance, along with two construction workers. "I said, 'No, no, no, if you die, how are you going to get the money when you sue the (expletive) out of them?' He was lying on the floor full of blood. He said 'Hold me, Felipe.'"


Speaking to the Post, a representative from the Department of Buildings (DOB) said that, due to a renovation effort, the only things supporting the floor at the time of the incident were rotten beams. The DOB was looking into whether proper permits were in place for the construction. 


As he was being taken to the emergency room, the victim berated the building's super, claiming that he had repeatedly told the maintenance worker about the excessively wet floors in his bathroom, according to the news source.  


Man dies after public bathroom implodes in Ghana

As disquieting as that story from Harlem is, a downright terrifying scenario unfolded in a Ghana suburb in late September, according to the Daily Guide.


As at least six men engaged in their natural businesses in a 28-seat public restroom, the facility collapsed, trapping them in a chasm of septic muck. A neighborhood rescue team managed to dig five of the victims out of the mess, but they were unable to rescue 55-year-old James Kojo.


The news source goes on to quote Charles E.A. Koomson, coordinator for the National Disaster Management Organization, who said potentially dangerous dilapidated public facilities such as the one that ended Kojo's life should be torn down, and government agencies have designed regulations for new public restrooms.


According to the Daily Guide, methane gas emanating from septic pits has been known to occasionally result in these collapses. The government sources told the news provider that new restrooms will be designed without the cesspit directly connected to the facilities.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 7, we will finally know whether President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be the next leader of the free world. However, most of us still won't know first hand what kind of bathroom accessories can be found in the presidential lavatories. According to the White House History Museum's website, the famous building contains 35 bathrooms.


A look into the history of White House bathrooms

Beginning with the inauguration of Franklin Pierce in 1853, the master bathroom on the family floor probably contained a wooden toilet and porcelain sink. In addition, its decor included wallpaper designed to resemble wood and faux tile cloth floors. Less than a decade later, when Abraham Lincoln was president, running water from the Potomac River was being shipped in to create what was then considered a very high tech amenity.


A brief historical overview from the website Plumbing Supply notes that plumbing in the White House was still a major on-going concern until a major renovation in 1902. As the White House is considered public property, the Senate hasn't always approved as much tax money for renovations as one may think would be afforded to luxurious living quarters. For example, Harry Truman supposedly mandated a major overhaul of the building in 1948, upon noticing his bathroom floor was beginning to give way to the bathtub.


As for the number of bathrooms, the White House historical website notes that the family quarters only contained a pair of bathrooms before 1900 - one for the President's personal use and another for his family members and guests. In 1902, silver faucets, handles and white porcelain were installed in both presidential lavatories.


The weight of William Taft alters the course of bathroom history

In 1909, the country elected its fattest President of all time, William Taft, who got stuck in the normal-sized bathtub and needed help getting out on at least one occasion. In light of his difficulty fitting into the bathtub, he ordered a 7-foot long, 41-inch wide tub be placed in his master bathroom. A picture on the White House Museum website shows that four men could fit comfortably in the tub. Every following president up until Dwight D. Eisenhower may have taken baths in the massive apparatus until, well after Taft's exit from office, it was replaced with an updated accommodation in 1952.

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Normally, when headlines indicate that unpleasant odors emanating from toilets caused illness, we may jump to a conclusion quite different than what recently occurred at Tegel Airport in Germany. Apparently, someone went too far while cleaning one of the terminal's bathrooms.


According to German/English newspaper the Local, on the morning of October 12, 53 individuals reported experiencing severe nausea and eye pain and had to be treated for minor injuries. Firefighters who arrived at the scene incurred similar symptoms after exposure to what was later revealed to be too much ammonia.


The problem was so bad that Tegel officials had to close down the building's lobby and Terminal A to keep more people from getting sick.


"Since around 7 am police officers from the forensic department have been at Tegel testing the air quality," said police representative Martin Dams, quoted in the newspaper. "A high level of ammonia was measured early this morning."


A safer way to clean a toilet

To keep a john pristine, it isn't necessary to pour in so much chlorine that anyone who comes near the bathroom becomes ill. You might not even have to use a potentially dangerous chemical. ApartmentTherapy.com encourages readers to try cleaning their toilets by pouring orange Kool-Aid, still in its powdered form, in the bowl and leaving it overnight. The website says that the citric acid in the Kool-Aid helps get rid of especially difficult-to-remove stains. Meanwhile, TipNut says rings around toilet bowls can be done away with by applying a mix of lemon juice and borax to dirty areas, and allowing the mix to soak with the stain for two hours.


Coca Cola, supposedly due to its citric acid content, can also be used to clean a toilet by pouring a can into the bowl and letting it sit for an hour before flushing.


The Learning Channel website provides some more traditional tips for toilet maintenance. Readers are instructed to keep a long-handled brush on hand, although disposable brushes are said to be more effective for cleaning purposes. Denture cleanser works about as effectively for cleaning as Borax.



Meanwhile, a website titled Do It Yourself says that pouring one or two cups of white vinegar into a toilet can help reduce or eliminate rust strains.

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Arizona woman lives in fear of exploding toilet
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2012

After she viewed a Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) advisory that showed just how badly her toilet could injure her, Marcia Jenkins of Sun City, Arizona, might as well have been living in a horror movie.


The agency's warning revealed that the next time she flushed her toilet, she could be maimed.


“The lid is coming off, going to the ceiling, crashing down, breaking, and it’s horrifying,” Marcia Jenkins told KTVK, an independent TV station in Phoenix, about her reaction to the CPSC's warning. “It's all written on the recall card and [it] scared the bejeebers out of me!”


This CPSC warning was due to a potentially malfunctioning high pressure water conservation device called the Flushmate III Pressure-Assist Flushing System installed in her john. According to the news source, the CPSC recalled more than 2 million Flushmate IIIs in June after it was reported that an excess of 300 of them had exploded.


Flushmate thoughtfully contacted Jenkins and advised her against flushing. However, when she asked them what they would do to rectify the problem, they told her she would have to implement the repairs herself.


"We are striving to exceed our customers' already high expectations of us and have voluntarily announced, in cooperation with the CPSC, an at-home recall repair kit," a representative from the company told the news program. The company went on to say it hopes everyone with a potentially explosive toilet uses the repair kit.


However, after realizing that Jenkins had complained to the media, Flushmate hired a plumber to rectify her problem.


Beware old Flushmate IIIs

Even though only 304 Flushmate IIIs exploded, the CPSC recalled well over 2 million units of the product, all manufactured between 1997 and 2008. That's not including the more than 9,000 units of the water conservation devices recalled in Canada.


A statement from the agency notes that, when a faulty Flushmate goes Chernobyl, it may cause the toilet tank to bust, sending broken shards of porcelain flying and potentially causing cuts or other injuries. Anyone with a Flushmate III installed in their toilet should shut down the water flow, find another toilet to use and check to see if the product's serial number can be found in the recall.

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Adding a second bathroom sink - a good idea?
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2012

In the process of remodeling her bathroom vanity, a woman identified as "Laura" asked plumbing advice columnist Ed Del Grande of the Seattle Times whether a second sink and medicine cabinet would make a good addition to her restroom's decor.


"If your existing plumbing is in good shape, a licensed plumber should be able to 'twin' in a second lav sink. I’ve done jobs like this," wrote Del Grande in response. "As long as the second sink can be installed according to local codes, it can be a very nice addition to any bathroom."


Noting that Laura wrote that the bathroom she's remodeling also happen to be the only one in her house, the expert emphasized the practicality of having two sinks available. He wrote that he's frequently gone to use the sink in his bathroom, only to find it occupied with someone's soaking laundry.


After soaking dirty cloth items in a sink, it might be advisable to give it a thorough cleaning afterwards. Readers Digest has provided a set of instructions to make sinks as clean as they can get. Scrubbing, as opposed to a simple wiping with soap and water, is recommended for sinks after they've been used more than 30 times - which likely means once or twice a week for most households. Placing paper towels soaked with bleach along the surface of the white porcelain counter could add to its sparkle, however this process will fade colored surfaces. In addition, using vinegar is noted as an effective method for removing lime deposits.


To get clogging substances out of sinks, Readers Digest recommends mixing one cup of baking soda, one cup of salt and a quarter cup of tartar cream. Pouring a half a cup of this mixture into the sink and then a quart of boiling water should help keep substances flowing smoothly through pipes.

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Regardless of a person's political or religious feelings toward the notion of transgendered people, it should be easy to see why individuals who've changed their gender identity may experience some complications and confusion when attempting to use toilets in public bathrooms.


Maybe "complications and confusion" don't do the transgender community's dilemma justice. An article recently appearing on the Daily Beast points out that transgendered individuals are sometimes subjected to violence and harassment during trips to the men's or women's room that the rest of us take for granted.


"People get stopped and asked if they’re in the right bathroom. People are attacked. There is a kind of gender policing going on," Jack Harrison of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told the Daily Beast. "It can be really hard to be out in the world."


Harrison's organization has released a study that shows that more than one-quarter of surveyed transgender individuals were blocked from using a public restroom at their school or college, while more than 20 percent encountered a similar situation at work.


To help combat this issue, Harrison developed TranSquat, a mobile application with which transgendered people can use their smartphones to scan whatever area they're in for the closest available gender-neutral bathroom.


New York State community college installs trans-friendly bathrooms

In other news pertaining to bathrooms designed for use by anyone, regardless of whether they identify themselves as a man or a woman, Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York, has dropped the gender-requirements from five of its public bathrooms.


"Anybody can go into those bathrooms. They shut the door and they're used by themselves. And they're for anyone," vice president of schools Betsy Penrose told WNYF, a Fox New affiliate. 


Upon hearing news of the single-use washing facilities on their campus, students interviews by the news source sounded mostly supportive of the initiative.


"I think it's really cool," said Harley Gilbo told the news provider. "I think its a great way to avoid conflict for people who are transgender or don't know where they are."


WNFY described one student it spoke with as "not entirely sold on the idea," but as uncomfortable as she may be, she confirmed that she would not hesitate to use one of the gender-neutral bathrooms if no other toilets were available.

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Apparently, some Seth Rogen fans are either very passionate about the fight against autism or are way too interested in the actor's private life.


At the Too Many Stars fundraiser event at the Beacon Theater in New York City, the star of irreverent comedy hits like Superbad and Pineapple Express auctioned off a chance to join him for a trip to the men's room to a pair of fans who bid $18,000 each, according to Hollywood.com. To put that in perspective, another bidder paid $22,000 to hang out for two days on the set of critically acclaimed drama Breaking Bad, while the chance to spend a wholesome night with Saturday Night Live alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler was auctioned off at $36,000.


At least Rogen and the two high-bidders went to the bathroom for a good cause. The news source says proceeds went to organizations for autism education and family services.


But Rogen's track record shows that he's hardly concerned with bathroom vanity. As reported earlier this year by the Belfast Telegraph and other sources, Rogen once relieved himself in an empty Snapple bottle while waiting for a meeting with controversial former husband of Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise.


"It's true...he was meeting with people like me and Judd Apatow, to kind of, I think, get a sense of the comedic landscape at the time, so me and Judd had a few meetings at his house," the news source reports the actor said during an episode of Howard Stern's radio program. "I showed up early, he had a very long driveway and I didn't want to go in [to use the bathroom]."


The moral of the story, is if you've ever had a difficult time finding a bathroom on short notice, there's no need to be embarrassed. Rich and famous people have the same problem all the time.


In fact, WetPaint entertainment compiled a list of notable entertainers who've admitted to relieving themselves, out of necessity or accident, in places other than toilets. Black Eyed Peas songstress Fergie once urinated on herself by accident mid-concert in 2005. Katy Perry admitted to the Sun that she urinates in a bucket as part of her pre-concert warm-up ritual. Likewise, Lady Gaga started that she periodically pees in a trash can whenever the toilet is too far away, and self-styled bad girl Ke$ha urinates, well, pretty much wherever she feels like.

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Nothing's worse than when, soon after purchasing a sleek, portable modern gizmo that takes phone calls, goes online and can provide any number of other conveniences through downloadable applications, you accidentally drop or knock your smartphone into the toilet.


A new study from Squaretrade indicates that this scenario is quite common. Almost 10 percent of all mobile-tech gadget-damaging episodes reported to the electronics warranty company happened via an accident involving the toilet, while more than 15 percent occurred somewhere in bathrooms. Presumably, that leftover 5 percent of accidents involved the shower or the sink.


In addition, almost 20 percent of damaged smartphones incurred their mishaps in living rooms, while more than 20 percent occurred in kitchens. Not surprisingly, more than 40 of all smartphone accidents overall involved water, which was either spilled on a mobile device or the final destination of a fall from its owner's hand.


An older study from SquareTrade estimated that damage to mobile devices have cost Americans almost $6 billion since 2007 - more than double what the U.S. annually spends on toilet paper. Accidental damage to a smartphone, the organization says, is 10 times more common than theft or permanent misplacement of a smartphone.


Worst case scenario for when a smartphone meets a toilet

As part of a write-up compiling particularly bad scenarios involving damaged or destroyed smartphones, ABC Action News reciting the tale of a photography producer whose iPhone 4 was dropped into a toilet by her 1-year-old offspring.


"I'm trying to pull it out before the phone is 100% damaged, trying every tool known to man as fast as possible," the producer, identified only as "Amber," told the news source. "The 1-year-old is jumping all excited at the show, screaming because she wants to play with me in the toilet."


After buying a new smartphone, due to her lack of eligibility for a replacement, the producer said she opted to shell out for a $90 waterproof case. This decision may have been spurred by the fact that this was the second smartphone Amber had lost due to a water-related mishap - the first involved getting pushed into a pool.


ABC notes that if a smartphone or an ordinary cell phone does fall into the toilet, giving it a thorough drying with paper towels and plunging it deep into a container of dried rice may bring it back to life after several hours of submergence.

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In light of Global Handwashing Day, which occurred on Oct. 15, 2012, perhaps it's time to keep an eye on whether or not our coworkers are respecting the sanitation of work sites as much as they should be.


According to research provided by Swedish bath tissue company SCA, nearly 60 percent of survey respondents confessed that they can remember seeing people leave a public bathroom without so much as running their hands underneath bathroom faucets. In addition, more than one-third said they've seen coworkers neglect to wash their hands after using the restroom at their place of business, and one-fifth reported noticing food-service workers declining to wash their hands after a trip to the loo. The problem, these findings show, was much more consist among men than women.


"The average human hand has millions of bacteria, many good, but also sometimes some that can harm health. In addition, we can also carry viruses from touching surfaces that are contaminated," said Allison Aiello, a University of Michigan associate professor of epidemiology and an associate of SCA. "While over half of SCA's survey respondents believe that handwashing is important, there are still clear gaps in the relationship between beliefs and practices."


The pulp and paper manufacturer also released other statistics that may not be quite as troubling, although they're certainly still worth noting. According to SCA, only 40 percent of study participants attested to washing their hands after a sneeze or a cough, and more than half said they don't bother washing their hands after they use public transportation, handle gym equipment or pick up money.


For the best hand-washing results, the company recommends using warm water, enough soap lather to last 20 seconds and a thorough rinse. Especially at public restroom, it's advised that a paper towel be used to turn off the potentially bacteria-infested faucet handle.


In this way, by SCA's estimates, people may lessen their chances of becoming infected by one of the 840,000 germs most people encounter by touching 300 publicly used surfaces every half hour.


The Mayo Clinic echos these warning from SCA. The nonprofit healthcare organization states that washing hands takes little time, but does individuals a great service in disease protection. When soap and water aren't around, Mayo recommends the use of an alcohol-based sanitizer, as long as it contains more than 60 percent alcohol, and moist towelettes to wash away possible bacteria.

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Banks and cell phones outnumber toilets in India
Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012

Depending on how you look at it, the current condition of India may reflect poorly on human priorities.


According to a report from the Hindustan Times, more than 1,200 accounts have been opened at the Central Bank in Badagon Jagir, a village of 300 homes. Meanwhile, half of the small town's population either don't see a problem with or don't have a choice except to relieve themselves outside due to a lack of toilets.


The news source goes on to cite Figures-2012, which tells us that at least one member of almost 60 percent of Indian households has a bank account, while fewer than 50 percent have a sanitary place to go to the bathroom.


Arguably, that's not even the most surprising statistic in regards to India's imbalance of modern technology and basic sanitation. Almost 50 percent of Indian homes have a TV, while less than 45 percent have running water. Meanwhile, almost 65 percent of Indians have access to a cellular phone. 


"India lacks the culture of sanitation. Even if you go to a decent restaurant for a good meal, you will find the toilets are invariably dirty," Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of social service organization Sulabh International told the Indo-Asian News Service.


Recently, an opinion op-ed was published in The Times of India, which said that the writer felt that union minister Jairam Ramesh muddied the argument in favor of more toilets when he pointed out that it's easier to find a place of worship than a place to comfortably sit on the throne in his nation. The writer, after stating that Sulabh International has made great strides in its quest to design cost-effective toilets, goes onto say that he feels it's reductive to blame churches and private companies for the lack of toilets, when public sanitation should be a government concern.


However, the Indian toilet shortage is more than a sanitation crisis. It's also doing significant economic damage to the second-most populous nation on Earth. Citing research conducted by the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program, Bloomberg reported that the direly unsanitary conditions cause enough sickness and death to annually drain more than $50 billion from the nation's economy. Almost half of that relates to diarrhea in children less than 5-years-old.


"For decades we have been aware of the significant health impacts of inadequate sanitation in India," said the program's team leader Christopher Juan Costain, according to Bloomberg. "This report quantifies the economic losses to India, and shows that children and poor households bear the brunt of poor sanitation."

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When most people think of bathtubs, they associate the image with relaxation and cleanliness. Some people enjoy lighting an incense candle, filling the tub with bubble bath suds and letting their cares drift away.


Then there are those who prefer to attach wheels to their bathtubs, and go hurtling down grimy hills. It takes all kinds, as the saying goes.


According to the Foothills Focus, an Arizona weekly newspaper, twelve bathtubs will compete in a downhill bathtub race at the Cave Creek Wild West Days festival on Nov. 3. Two-to-four person teams - with at least one racer pushing the bathtub while another steers - will fly down the Cave Creek Road, after launching the race at a starting line next to Big Earl's Greasy Eats. Participants will be charged a $40 entry fee, and individuals under the age of 18 are not permitted to race.


But just as sportsmen in other nations participate in slightly altered versions of the same sport, bathtub racing is a slightly different style of competition in its country of origin. Canadian bathtub racing involves strapping a boat motor to the back of a customized bathtub, and blasting around the water in a predictably rambunctious manner.


According to a website known as Canada Cool, The International World Championship Bathtub Race began in 1967 in British Columbia, where almost 50 competitors embarked on a nearly 40 mile water-race all the way to Vancouver.


Now a highlight of a summer festival in the Canadian city of Nanaimo, participants, nicknamed "tubbers," travel from as far as Australia and are said to spent at least $3,000 each tricking out their bathtub for the wild ride. At the conclusion of the 2012 race, Errington native Clint Heilne made the best time, finishing the race in one hour, 19 minutes and 52 seconds, according to the organization's website.


Although the notion of a bathtub race may seem silly, the regulations for entry are surprisingly detailed. In order to qualify for the World Championship Bathtub Race, tubs must be at least 3 feet, 6 inches long. They can be made of any type of material, but the driver, engine, safety equipment, gas tank and additional fuel has to weigh at least 350 pounds put together. The organization that runs the Nanaimo Marine Festival also separates bathtubs into classes, and has an entire set of different regulations for engines and safety.

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It's every parent's worst nightmare... Well, maybe not quite "worst." But parents in a Western New York town are still none-too-pleased that that their kids at Cattaraugus-Little Valley Elementary were not dismissed from school, even though toilets were overflowing in many of the school's restrooms, according to a CBS-affiliated television station.


The station, WIVB, reports that the problem stemmed from water pressure rising beyond the point that pipes could sustain. Flushing caused the toilets to overflow, hence the closing of the bathrooms.


"I mean, as a parent you send your child to school expecting them to be safe and well cared for, and for them not to be able to use the restroom for an entire school day is ridiculous," local parent Miranda Kendrick told WIVB.


Kendrick went on to say that she felt the school should have been closed so that officials and workmen could fix the problem. However, superintendent Jon Peterson said that kids were allowed to use the bathrooms that still functioned properly.


"At the time, was it a big deal? To me, it didn't seem that big of a deal," he said to the news source. Furthermore, he explained that the schools get its water from too far away for them to fix a problem like this any more quickly than they did, later that same day.


English town shut down public johns due to high cost

The kids at Cattaraugus-Little Valley may have had to walk further, or even down less-familiar hallways to find a bathroom on that horrible day. But they should all be thankful that they're not among the homeless in the Amber Valley borough of Derbyshire, England.


The Derbyshire Times reports that, due to expenses, a council voted to close the last 10 public toilets in the borough, in order to save an estimated 60,000 pounds per year. The municipal government is offering incentives for local businesses to open their bathrooms up to the public, but the chairman of the Ripley Chamber of Trade told the news source that what shops and restaurants are being offered isn't worth the hassle.


"There are small villages throughout Derbyshire that have toilets - but then in a town with 24,000 people, we will have none," David Clark told the Derbyshire Times. "We as a business are not set up to provide that service. We don’t want a queue of people using our facilities."

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Advice for keeping a bathroom beautiful
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nobody likes doing their personal maintenance business in unattractive surroundings. Hence, more than a few sources of news and information have provided expert opinions of how to arrange bathroom accessories to make sure your lavatory is a room you want to visit over and over again - as opposed to a room you visit because you have no choice.


Lisa Schmitz of the Kansas City Star writes that vanity lighting overhead should distribute illumination equally, so as to avoid making anyone with bad skin or a better side feel unattractive when primping themselves in the mirror. She also recommends having a window in the shower, as the sight of foliage helps to start the day on a fresh note. Although, it might be advisable to ensure that shower windows are situated somewhere that makes them difficult to look into from the outside. It's said in the article that lining the walls with small tiles may be a good choice, although such decorations could start to look grimier if placed on the floor.


The proverbial queen on homemaking, ex-convict Martha Stewart dispenses her own brand of trademark homespun advice on the subject through her website. Spending a mere minute a day rubbing scouring powder into the bathtub after a shower, she writes, will prevent scum and minerals from building up. Cleaning the shower walls with a squeegee is also encouraged, following every use. Warm water and mildly abrasive cleanser should be applied to the tub after the use of products like shampoo and body lotion.


Air circulation - through open windows, fans, air conditioners and dehumidifiers - is crucial for avoiding the amassing of mildew growth and moisture, states Stewart. Furthermore, half-a-cup of baking soda, followed up with a half-a-cup of white vinegar, should help keep pipes from clogging up with grease, oil and hair. To unclog  a shower head stuffed up with minerals, soaking the device with white vinegar by placing it in a plastic bag full of the liquid should do the trick.


Meanwhile, the Barcelona newspaper ARA released tips on how to make a bathroom appear larger than it actually is. Apart from recommending specific styles of tiles, accessories and faucets, the news source noted that a mirror's knack for making a room appear larger by visually doubling it can do wonders for enhancing the illusion of space.

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India besieged by toilet shortage, open defecation
Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012

During this baffling, emotionally charged and inarguably entertaining electoral season, whether you're a liberal or a conservative, odds are you're hopping mad about something either candidate has said or done.


Sometimes, being an American can get irritating. On the bright side, as least you can always find somewhere private to use the bathroom. 


Millions of residents in India have more practical, down-to-earth worries than whether or not Mitt Romney will cut funding for Sesame Street, or if Barack Obama was actually born in Hawaii or Kenya. The shortage of toilets in the highly-populated South Asian nation is making life less comfortable for public officials and private citizens alike.


"A toilet, and a clean one at that, is terribly important, especially when you are on the move and need to go to one urgently," Sita Ram told the Indo-Asian News Services. Ram is an office assistant for Jairam Ramesh, a rural development minister who recently stated that more resources should be put toward new toilets instead of temples.


"Whenever I travel to my village in Rajasthan, I use the toilet before boarding the bus, and then when I get home. The few ones along the roadside are terribly dirty."


The news source also spoke with the founder of the social service organization Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, who stated that numerous temples are available for worship throughout India, however public restrooms are not visible anywhere near most of these facilities. Meanwhile, the general secretary of All India National Federation for Indian Women stated that women forced to relieve themselves in various locations outdoors are sometimes the victims of sexual violence.


According to numbers from the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals cited by the Indo-Asian News Services, almost 100 percent of Indian villages have access to wireless networks for cell phone use, while more than 625 million of the nation's residents - almost half, according to the World Health Organization  - are forced to defecate in the open due to lack of access to toilets. 


According to the New York Times, Indian government officials announced an initiative to put an end to the nation's public defecation crisis within 10 years. In late September of 2012, prominent Bollywood actor Vidya Balan became a spokeswoman for the issue, and went on a media tour to strongly discouraged her countrymen from relieving themselves anywhere that isn't in a toilet.


"We have to inspire more and more people to make our country open-defecation-free," she said during a press conference attended by the Times.

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Toilet bandits run amok across U.S.
Posted on Friday, October 5, 2012

In the opening scene of the action/comedy classic Pulp Fiction, Tim Roth's character, Ringo, explains to his girlfriend why looting a diner full of customers in broad daylight seems like a much better idea than robbing a bank.


"Nobody ever robs restaurants. Why not?" he muses. "Bars, liquor stores, gas stations - you'll get your head blow off sticking up one of them. Restaurants, on the other hand, you catch with their pants down. They're not expecting to get robbed. Not as expecting, anyway."


It would seem that one or more hooligans have applied the same logic to stealing toilets in fast food restaurants and have embarked on a multi-state crime-spree.


Seriously. Who would ever think to steal a toilet?


"It had to be a professional because there was no water on the floor," Alicia Leyva, a Dairy Queen night manager, told KATU Portland, an Oregon ABC affiliate station, the morning after the toilet disappeared from her place of employment. "There was none. You would think the water would have went everywhere." The news source spoke to a plumbing supplies salesman who confirmed her suspicion.


KATU also says a pair McDonald's franchises in Longview and Woodland, Oregon, have also reported their toilets mysteriously vanishing. By the news provider's estimates, scrap metal from disassembled johns could be exchanged for as much as $200 apiece.


Meanwhile, toilet theft has become a crime epidemic in Sioux Falls

In an eerie possible non-coincidence, virtually identical crimes have transpired at a Hardee's, Taco Bell and McDonald's in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as reported by KSFY, another ABC-owned television station. In addition, $6,000 worth of commodes have been pilfered from five Burger Kings in Sioux Falls, the largest city in the Mount Rushmore State.


While police have no suspects in custody as of yet, the Argus Leader spoke to a police source who said law enforcement has a lead on culprits. Spokesman Sam Clemens told the daily newspaper that the cops have gotten their hands on a surveillance tape of two suspicious men standing beside a restaurant's bathroom, just before an employee discovered the toilet's piping had gone missing.


“There are probably more out there,” Clemens told the Leader, noting that police currently know of 14 toilets that have likely been heisted.

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The bathroom bucket list
Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012

Your bathroom at home probably looks pretty good. It's got style, substance, panache and maybe even a water-saving, eco-friendly toilet. But with a little perspective, you'll soon realize that your bathroom can't even begin to compare to some of the finest hotel accommodations out there. So if you're a bathroom decor junkie and a lover of all luxury loos, check out this bucket list of must-see hotel commodes.


The Hotel Majapahit Surabaya in Surabaya, Indonesia

Indonesia's second largest city has a lot to offer,  not least of which are the bathrooms of the Hotel Majapahit Surabaya. The Presidential Suite's bathroom is, according to Concierge.com, a throwback to a more luxurious period in the region. The hotel itself is 100 years old, so it's not surprising that alongside all the expected modern conveniences, the Hotel Majapahit Surabaya offers the kingly incentive of pre-scenting your toilet for you. Pick from jasmine, lavender or even vanilla! Not to mention, the source reminds, the enormous elevated whirlpool bath that looks out over the quiet and beautiful North Garden. Or the gold-plating that covers just about every bathroom fixture other than the toilet paper.


The Tshukudu Bush Lodge in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa

The source also suggests this particular hotel bathroom for the traveler hoping to catch a safari-worthy view and lounge with the lions from their bathtub. Take a panoramic soak, enjoy the grassy plains and indulge in a little rustic R&R.


The Ritz in Paris, France

Located in the 1st Arrondissement, not far from the Louvre and squarely settled on famous Place Vendome, The Ritz Paris has long been known for its opulence, which is probably why celebrities and dignitaries have made it their preferred locale for ages. TravelAndLeisure.com reports that for those travelers who demand gold-leaf gilded swan-shaped faucets, this is the place to stay. Why not pull that bell cord and order a martini from your bubble bath?


The Four Seasons Hotel in Firenze, Italy

With marble bathtubs that would make Michelangelo proud, these bathrooms are surely the epitome of European luxury. If the ceiling's antique frescoes don't draw you in, the source reports that perhaps the local perfumes by Lorenzo Villoresi (using century-old methods) will.

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Mixing various schools of design can really bring a number of spaces to life, from the living room or bedrooms to a house's kitchen. But it can be hard to imagine such a mash-up of style in the bathroom. Bathrooms, for one, tend to be smaller than most other spaces. Most style mixing might end up leaving your space feeling too busy or overwhelmed. But there's one pairing that's so good in a bathroom, you'd expect it was designed specifically for your space - the modern Victorian.


Although you'll find styling like this easier when you start with Victorian accents, it's not difficult to add some of these to a modern home. But if you're living in an older house, consider some of these suggestions as to what to keep and what to add. It's sure to kick out all the stuffy and bring in a solid dose of the stylish and new.


What to hold onto

First and foremost, hold onto your wainscoting. One of wainscoting's original purposes was to conceal leaks or water damage in the walls from early plumbing, which is why it's often so prevalent in the bathroom. But luckily, it also looks good and happens to be about as iconically Victorian as an interior designer could ask for!


You'll also want to hang onto your tub, and, depending on your taste, any Victorian-style mirrors or frames you have in your bathroom. If you have Victorian-style light fixtures - sconces, a chandelier - keep those too. Meanwhile, tear down all wallpaper and drapery and consider redoing your vanity and sink.


What to add

The first thing you'll want to do is inject a little color into your space. Paint your wainscoting and the wall above a pair of complementing hues. While you can go with a deep brown or leave the earthy wood hue of the wainscoting as it is, choosing something lighter or brighter will go a long way toward accentuating the modern design in your new bathroom. Avoid the busy look of wallpaper at all cost, instead focusing on clean, vibrant colors. You may even want to paint your tub!


If your toilet is in need of a replacement, now's a great time to do it. Rather than something on par with Victorian water waste, why not go with an eco-friendly option? You'll almost certainly want to have a new bathroom vanity installed as well!

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Liven up your bathroom with some controversial style
Posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Does your bathroom feel a bit too pristine? Are you looking for a few ways to liven things up and maybe stir up some controversy? While it's probably not a great idea to renovate or remodel a shared bathroom without giving your family or housemates a heads up first, there's no reason why you can't instill a spark of debate or (light) debauchery in your loo. Consider these mostly friendly and occasionally dispute-inspiring choices for your home's restroom.


Go with some graffiti

As everyone knows, one the best features of public restrooms is the graffiti. While this is potentially the worst feature of a home restroom - usually the fault of a 5-year-old with a crayon - with a little guidance and style, you can turn your bathroom wall into the sweetest and coolest graffiti center there is. Using decals or specialized wallpaper, designate a framed area in which guests who stop by the bathroom can leave a quick message or just sign their names. Hang a Sharpie nearby for exactly this purpose - but make sure you remind them to wash their hands before picking it up!


Stock up on some banned books

Grab yourself a basket for the back of the toilet or install some shelving, then head out to the used bookstore and pick up some cheap, controversial classics. From Catcher in the Rye to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or your favorite banned book series, keep some of these around to add character and provide some reading material if the need occurs.


Print out a few tweets and get on Twitter yourself

What better place is there to raise some hell than on Twitter, where you're limited to 140 characters and 90 percent of your followers are sure to misinterpret what you write. Why not post that day's most trending controversial Twitter topics to the back of the bathroom door? Whoever's reading it is sure to fire up his or her iPhone and get in on the debate.


Keep things classy

Of course, with all this edgy content in your bathroom, you'll want to keep things at a relative level of decorum and class for stylish contrast. That's precisely what your fixtures are for! Consider investing in gorgeous new bathroom faucets or a stylish vanity to bring out the best in your space.

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Proving that it has better debates to cover than those between certain presidential nominees and incumbents, National Public Radio (NPR) has returned to the bathrooms for a piece on what the source terms "Poop talk."


The question on hand for Shots, the NPR health blog, is whether the modern toilet has become the bane of hemorrhoid and constipation sufferers across the United States. According to the source, some architects and doctors are saying so, putting forth the suggestion that squatting is ideal when it comes to getting your business done in the restroom.


The blog piece gets into the various biological grotesqueries and fascinatingly precise (if slightly nauseating) geometrical angles a bit, but more interesting is the small cultural movement that squatting has spawned. But it's certainly not ideal for everybody, or even most people.


"For most people, the modern toilet doesn't cause any problems," Rebekah Kim, colorectal surgeon at Virginia Hospital Center, told the source. But she does suggest to her own patients with loo problems that they get a stack of books or a stool to rest their feet on while visiting the bathroom, allowing them to adopt a semi-squatted but seated position.


"Squatting on a stool can reduce the amount of straining on the toilet," she said, which may in turn mean fewer hemorrhoid problems. Although the studies haven't yet been done, it's a budding opportunity for those with a passion for, well, "poop talk."


Differences in bathroom techniques have long been a topic of conversation, and rarely do culture and health not overlap and argue a bit. Consider the bidet - a paper-saving and freshening bathroom fixture (or toilet attachment) that makes logical sense but has failed to catch on in America.


Across the world, there are as many cultural mores and rules for dining as there are for bathroom usage - and that's assuming you can find a traditional bathroom. A number of eastern countries may adopt the squatting position, but that's out of necessity rather than cultural convention.


At the end of the day, perhaps the only truly healthful option in bathroom maintenance and activity is sanitation. It won't necessarily help you avoid hemorrhoids or keep you regular, but washing your hands before you leave the restroom is a luxury that the denizens of plenty of nations don't have. And don't forget to use soap!

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