How to: Use a squat toilet

In 2007, my husband and I were privileged enough to take a month off and travel around Europe. Given that we spent most of our time in Western Europe, there really wasn't a whole lot of cultural confusion, with a few notable exceptions*. Chief among them, the squat toilets we stumbled across at a very inconvenient moment in Italy. "Inconvenient moment" here defined as "actually having to use the bathroom."

My friend Frank Bures is a travel writer and he understands the squat toilet problem all too well. Frank is, after all, somebody who has traveled extensively in places where squat is all you got. In a piece from 2006, he shares some hard-earned advice on squat toilets. How I wish I had read this before my venturing into small towns in coastal Italy.

Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth is probably the world’s foremost expert on excretion, a real Buddha of Bowel Movements, and she’s not afraid to get into the details. “My technique when I’m teaching volunteers about to go abroad,” said the author of How to Shit Around the World from her UK office, “is that when you’re learning, you need to take everything off below your waist: socks, shoes, pants, underwear. Then squat over the toilet. Pour water over your bum, and with your left hand, just whittle away with your fingers and try to dislodge any lumpy bits while pouring water. And that’s actually not too unaesthetic, because any mess that goes onto your fingers comes off in the water.”

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Help fund a new multicultural SFF publisher for kids

SF author Mary Robinette Kowal sez,

Once upon a time, someone starting a new publishing house would either have a personal fortune or would seek large private investors. Crowdsourced fundraising allows the masses to chip in for projects they believe in.

Tu Publishing is worth getting behind. It is a small, independent multicultural SFF press for children and YA and they are raising money for startup costs right now. I've had the opportunity to correspond with Stacy Whitman, the force behind it, in my role as SFWA secretary and she's sharp, knows the industry and is passionate about YA and SF.

The catch is that the fundraiser only has four more days to go and they only have 40% of their total.

"Fantasy and science fiction, mystery and historical fiction--these genres draw in readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Publishing to publish genre books for children and young adults that fill this gap in the market--and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers. By focusing on multicultural settings and characters in fantastic stories, we also open up worlds to all readers."

Tu Publishing: a small, independent multicultural SFF press for children and YA

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