Saturday, April 24, 2010

No More Highway Pitstops in New Jersey

Yikes! I fear reading articles like this as I often have to pull over for pitstops while driving longer distances. Ok, so if you missed the news, the New Jersey Governor is shutting down highway restrooms to save a few bucks and patch the budget. I'm all for cut government spending but this one hits a little bit too close to home. I'm sure there are better ways to save money than to force commuters, tourists, and other travellers with urgent needs to use the bushes. I mean, think about the traffic incidents that might cause.

Here's the full article, copied from Bloomberg news:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to shut the last two rest-stop bathrooms on non-toll roads in the most densely populated U.S. state after this year to save $270,000.

“We just don’t have the money for the bathroom facilities,” Christie’s transportation commissioner, James Simpson, told members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee today during a hearing on his department’s $1.24 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The bathrooms scheduled to close under Christie’s plan are on Interstate 80 at the Pennsylvania border and Interstate 295 at the Delaware border. Parking areas at the rest areas will remain open for truckers under Christie’s plan, Simpson said. The closings will eliminate 18 maintenance positions, according to the department’s written response to questions from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.

“Lavatory and tourism facilities will now be closed on all of the state’s non-toll roadways,” the response says.

Drivers will still find bathroom facilities on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Those are two of the busiest toll roads in the U.S., according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Christie, a Republican who took office Jan. 19, last month proposed a $29.3 billion budget that includes $10 billion of spending reductions to help close a $10.7 billion deficit. The legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, is holding hearings on the proposal. A budget must be approved by July 1.

Simpson told lawmakers he is hoping to coax federal officials to give the state an exemption that would allow a private vendor to operate a cafe at the sites where the rest rooms are scheduled to close Jan. 1, enabling the bathrooms to stay open.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dunstan McNichol in Trenton, New Jersey, at dmcnichol@bloomberg.net

Monday, April 12, 2010

Turkish Squat Toilet

Growing up in Europe, I was always told that these squat toilets were called Turkish toilets. After all, I saw and used these when I vacationed in Turkey. However, after I been travelling the world I've seen these in many other places, like in Vietnam. Now I'm on the quest to find out if the Turks really invented this toilet or if someone else did? Whatever the case, they are cheap and strengthens your legs.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Pay to use airline lavatory

Ever heard of Ryan Air? The low cost European airline that sells you a dirt cheap ticket and then charges you for everything.....literally.

Their latest fee is outrageous. They now want to charge you to use their lavatory. If you fly with them on their shorter routes you will have to pay around €1 ($1.50) to use the loo.

According to CNN, "The carrier said it is working with Boeing to develop a coin-operated door release so that when nature calls, passengers would need to deposit the change before being able to use the facilities."

Is there any economic sense in this? Will there really be a return on investment by paying Boeing to come up with a solution, the purchase payable doors from them, and then charge a frickin euro? Are they really going to save money? I'm sure people will avoid using the toilet so now the airline spent all that money on the doors.

Really! Use some common sense and don't go money pinching every day. Sooner or later it's going to bite you in the arse.

IBS, Anxiety, and SSRI anti-depressants

If you have followed this blog you know that I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a very common condition in today's stressful society. It is so commonly diagnosed, and misdiagnosed, because there is nothing really physically wrong that the doctor can point out and say "this is what's causing your ailment". IBS is a group name for a bunch of different conditions related to the gastro-intestinal tract.

Anyway, I've gone through every physical exam available and have also tried a bunch of medicines and treatments. Nothing has been working very good. I'm on lomotil now, which is a pretty decent cheap drug. However, it only works half of the time.

Last year my gastroenterologist suggested I try an SSRI, which is an anti-depressant. I'm not a supporter of heavy drugs and try to avoid medicines as much as possible so at that time I said no. Then after more research and some time to think about it I gave it a try.

I started with Paxil, which is quite common but after only a couple of days it made me very naseous and sick to the stomach. It also made my mind numb. I stopped that and then got prescribed Zoloft, which is the most prescribed anti-anxiety/anti-depressant in the world. It seems to be better as I had no nasea. However, my mind felt somewhat numb though.

Well, I'm both happy and sad to say that these SSRI meds are doing nothing to help my IBS so I can check off those as well. I'm sad because I was hoping this would be the end of my IBS symptoms. However, I'm also happy because I didn't want to get stuck taking these heavy meds.

So, I'm still on the quest to become free from IBS.