Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Man's best friend can only take so much




California schools get bathrooms-in-a-box for emergencies

Staff members assembled the kits to use during long-term classroom lockdowns
They are now fixtures in every classroom in Turlock, California.
Teachers returned from winter break to find a bathroom-in-a-box on their desk, complete with toilet paper and all the accessories, marked For Lockdown Only.
Staff members assembled the kits to use during long-term lockdowns like the four hours Patterson High School students spent in their classrooms last fall when fights broke out on campus.
Shielded by their classmates, Patterson teens used trash cans as toilets until police allowed students and teachers outside.
The incident spurred school superintendents across Stanislaus county, to discuss ways to make sure history did not repeat itself.
Hence, in Turlock, the emergency toilets. Maintenance workers put together 701 of them over the winter break, enough to supply every classroom in the district that needed one. They cost $20 each, or about $14,000 total - the equivalent of nearly 200 high school textbooks.
"It's a small price to pay for personal dignity," said Patricia McGuire, a district assistant superintendent.
Most lockdowns last just minutes. But some can last hours, like the two-hour lockdown experienced by several Turlock elementary, middle and high schools last fall.
School violence is only one reason to keep students in their classrooms. Police will tell administrators to lock down a school if they are chasing a criminal suspect or making a raid nearby.
Sixth-grade teacher Melanie Chancellor still remembers what it was like three years ago to be locked inside her Crowell Elementary classroom for almost two hours.
"I had kids who needed to go," Chancellor said. "So I was like, 'We all have to hold it.' It was hard on the kids."
Chancellor eyed a spot next to her desk where she plans to set up her emergency lavatory. The toilet comes with a plastic seat, steadied by steel legs, and a plastic bag in lieu of a toilet bowl.
Last Monday, Turlock High teenagers looked quizzically at the plain cardboard box that housed their classroom commode. Their teacher had offered extra credit for whoever guessed what it contained.
A student began to read the contents: a roll of toilet paper, disposable liners, a tarp (to create privacy in the corner of a room), chemical packs, hand sanitizer wipes, disposal liners and, of course, a folding toilet.
Then came the laughter.
The students, understandably giggle and some were embarrassed about the thought of relieving themselves among their peers, claimed they could wait. Under any circumstances.
But when you gotta go.

Australia Offers 'Best Job in World' On Paradise Island

SYDNEY — Position: Island caretaker. Duties: Lazing around Australia's Great Barrier Reef for six months. Salary: $105,000.
Unemployed, take heart — the aforementioned job ad is for real. Billing it the "Best Job in the World," the tourism department in Australia's Queensland state on Tuesday said it was seeking one lucky person to spend half a year relaxing on Hamilton Island, part of the country's Whitsunday Islands, while promoting the island on a blog.
The "island caretaker" will be expected to stroll the white sands, soak up the sun, snorkel the reef, "maybe clean the pool" — and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.
The winner, who will stay rent-free in a multimillion-dollar three-bedroom beach home complete with pool and golf cart, must be an excellent communicator and be able to speak and write in English.

Dog just wants to play ball