Friday, January 18, 2013

Squatting with Author Sean McLachlan, Christine Rains’ The Dragonslayer, Ninja News and Mini-Alex, and How to Use Google Reader

Today I have the honor of hosting my buddy Sean McLachlan, author and traveler, in what may be the most unique guest post ever. For those of you about to embark on a vacation overseas, you need to pay attention. Take it away, Sean!

A Beginner’s Guide to Squat Toilets


Alex let me take over his blog today to talk about something dear to my heart—adventure travel. There’s a lot to get used to when you’re on a road trip to Ethiopea or visiting Iraq. Strange food, strange customs, learning a few hundred words in the local language, all are challenges to adapting to your new surroundings.

One adaptation I had to make early on was learning how to use a different type of toilet. The squat toilet is more common worldwide than the seat toilets we’re familiar with in the West, and it takes a bit of getting used to.

The easy part for guys is peeing. Good aim is all you need. Avoid the temptation to write your name—an Iraqi bathroom is not a snowdrift.

For more, um, solid affairs, you need to squat. Drop your pants or hike your skirts and do a deep knee bend. You’ll find that things fall into place much more quickly than if you’re sitting on a Western toilet. It’s also more hygienic. The only thing that touches the latrine are the soles of your shoes. No need to practice your origami skills in making a toilet paper seat so you can use the gas station bathroom.

Traveler’s tip: drop your pants enough to keep your change from pouring out your pocket, but keep them high enough that they don’t touch the floor.

Once again, aim is essential. You’d think people who use squat toilets every day would develop a marksman’s ability to hit the bull’s-eye, but you’d be wrong. The area around the bowl often looks like a dog walkers’ park. At the border post between Iraq and Kurdistan, one outhouse had gotten so bad that I couldn’t even enter. Filth piled on filth as one patron after another was forced to squat ever closer to the door, until I swear the last couple of people who used it must have squatted outside and left their mark on the threshold.

There are disadvantages to squat toilets even when they’re used properly. You won’t get much reading done, and elderly and infirm people often need to be helped. Still, the squat toilet is found in the majority of countries and if you want to travel beyond North America and Europe, you’re going to have to practice your deep knee bends.

Sean McLachlan writes for the travel blog Gadling and is the author of numerous history books. He also has a novel out titled A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri. Learn more about him at his Amazon author’s page and blog.

Sean, think I will be checking out the toilets before I travel now, thank you! 

The Dragonslayer

1303 – The Dragonslayer (The 13th Floor series, #3) by Christine Rains
Paranormal romance
Release date: February 13th, 2013

On the rooftop of neighboring building, dragonslayer Xanthus Ehrensvard fires at his target, Governor Whittaker. How he missed the shot, he doesn't know, but fleeing the scene, he picks up an unwanted passenger. Gorgeous reporter Lois King saw Xan's face, and she believes it's the story to make her career. Except he can't let her walk away knowing what he looks like. Xan has to show her the Governor is a bigger threat to the world than he is.

Xan knows dragons never went extinct. They evolved with human society, taking on mortal forms, and slithered their way into positions of great influence and power, just like the Governor. But it's no easy chore proving to someone that dragons still exist, and even more so, they're disguised as famous people. Xan must convince Lois or find another way to silence her. An option, as he gets to know her, he likes less and less.

After all, dragonslayers are no longer celebrated heroes but outlaws. Just as the dragons wish it. But this outlaw must make a plan to slay the dragon or risk its retribution.

Find Christine here: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Ninja News

Michelle is celebrating two years of blogging and Elise one year with the “She Said What?” caption contest. Congratulations, ladies – it sounds like fun!

Suze, over at Subliminal Coffee is hosting False Start Fridays the last Friday of January and February. If you're a writer and have shelved material that sparked a beginning but stalled in its orbit -- an unpublished short story, a lone chapter, an outline, some ideas sketched somewhere on the infamous napkin -- dig out your buried treasure, dust it off and let her know you're ready for an encouraging audience for it in all its false start glory!

Misha Gericke at My First Book is holding a monthly Word Master Challenge. This month – “How Not to Write a Novel Beginning.” In less than 300 words, write the WORST beginning you can possibly write. The funnier and more creative you are, the better. Post your worst beginning by the end of January and enter the direct link in the Linky List on her blog. Winner and new theme will be announced on February 8.

Andrew Leon is holding a Great Chocolate Contest! Write a short story based on the Imagination Room (found in his book, House on the Corner) and submit it to him by February 6. The winner will receive a box of the best chocolate in the world.

I realized I hadn’t taken Mini-Alex anywhere, so I took him outside to show him something that gives me great joy – a dead lawn. Why? Because when the grass is dead, I don’t have to mow it!

And that’s my “Celebrate the Small Things” for VikLit.

Hopefully Mini-Alex will attend a Super Bowl Party in a few weeks…

Google Folders

First, if you’ve never used Google Reader to follow blogs, you’ll need to go there:

All the blogs you’ve followed through Google Friends Connect will appear there. To organize them into folders, left click on the little arrow (that will appear) at the end – you will see an option to create new folder. (And once you’ve created folders, the names will appear and you can just add the blog site to the folder.) And when you follow blogs that don't have GFC, you can just copy their address and subscribe directly in Google Reader.

How you organize them is up to you! I have one (very large) folder titled “Buddy” that are blogs I check every day. I also have specialty folders for movie and book blogs. The remaining bloggers I place in folders for different days of the week. (On Saturday, in addition to my Blogger Buddies, I visit those in the Saturday folder.) I also have folders for new followers and after a few weeks, I move them to the appropriate folder.

That’s how I am able to keep up with my blogger buddies!

If you have any questions – just ask!

Any questions for Sean about squat toilets? (Or was that more than you ever wanted to know?) He’s traveled the world, so you can ask about any country or culture! Excited about The Dragonslayer? Ready for some contests or False Start Fridays? Think I need to take Mini-Alex out more often? And any questions about using Google Reader?


  1. Enjoyed your post as usual, now about Google Reader is this the same as Google Plus, as you know I have had trouble in this area, I can't get a link to my followers so some come to your post from Monday to get a comment to me,
    I as you know I don't know that much about pc's and have been up half the night trying to fathom it out, I deleted the Goggle plus but it's still there,

  2. I am so enjoying seeing Christine all over the blogosphere this week! :D

  3. I have moved around Europe and the U.S. more than fifty times since I left Oirland 24 years ago this month - and I am soooo happy to report I have only seen (not used!!!) a squat toilet but once or twice.

    (To be honest, I thought the Oirish for "Google Reader" was "toilet bowl.")

    Funny what you learn as you get older :)

  4. I'm eating, so I'm afraid I did not read Sean's post!

    After you mentioned using folders once before, I've been using them ever since and they really help - I still get way behind though :-(

  5. Squat toilets might win as the most original post I've ever read. lol It was nice to read something different.

  6. It was very amusing to read about the squat toilets. ;)

    Google Reader is an important tool to me too (as the iGoogle with cool gadgets).

  7. Thanks for the google folder instructions!

  8. lol at squat toilets. When I travelled a lot I experienced quite a few. I actually found I prefered those loos better than the seated ones simply because I didn't have to touch anything! lol.

    Yay for Christine! I love the cover!

    Oh! Oh! I see my blog in your list in Google reader :)
    (I knew it was there, but it's nice to see it hehe)

  9. OK, I'm going to show how nerdy I am. FYI many women in the US squat anyway. Usually the seat is down but that leaves a splash effect. Here in Mexico, women leave the seat up to squat. Yeah, I know...who cares? But all you women who squat, try it.

  10. Sean's post cracked me up. Thanks for that!

    I'm so intimidated by Google Reader - maybe I should make that a New Year's resolution - to organize myself and use it. ;)

  11. Love Sean's post! I've been lucky enough to use them a couple times.

    Yay! for Christine the book sounds fantastic! I love the name Xan.

    Thanks Alex for the info on Google Reader, I've not used that before. Sounds like it will make me much more efficient.

  12. I totally get the toilet story. When I was backpacking through some less known areas of Europe in my 20's we ran into these. I remember walking in and walking out with a look of horror on my face-so I was told. My friends thought there was a roach in there. (It is the only thing I'm deathly scared of). They went inside and came out with the same expressions. LOL
    Thanks for the post on Google Reader. I need to reorganize how I visit blogs.

  13. Those toilets make me feel like a lazy American. Looks like the workout while taking a pee. Lol

    Google reader is frustrating me lately, well the phone app is, at least. I'll have to work on it this weekend. I feel so behind.

  14. Yvonne, you need to go into your Google profile (not Google+) and adjust the linkage there. Then people can click on your icon and find your blog.

    Mark, you are so not right. And that's a good thing.

    Sean, you are welcome!

    Annalisa, glad they help!

    Brinda, be funny if it was my most popular!

    Lynda, yours is first in my Buddy folder!

    Leigh, more than I ever needed to know...

    Kimberly, give it a try.

    Kathy, it helps.

    Ciara, I imagine the first time is a surprise!

  15. Fantastic guest post, Sean. I shudder a bit thinking what some of those places must smell like. What's your favorite place that you've visited?

    Alex, thank you so very much for helping with my cover reveal! As for Mini-Alex, maybe there's a take your ninja to work day? Have a great weekend.

  16. It's been great to see Christine everywhere this week, I love her writing.

    I have to admit, Sean's post makes me want to stick to the US, Europe, Canada, etc. These toilets seem like a complete nightmare for women!

    Thanks for the Reader tips. Hope you and mini-Alex both have a great weekend!

  17. Thanks for mentioning my blog again!

    I love the sound of The Dragonslayer. :-)

  18. Thanks for mentioning my blog again!

    I love the sound of The Dragonslayer. :-)

  19. Sean, I must say... WOW, that's it... just wow.

    Alex, I must look into this Google thingy... I am afraid I guess of making things easier. Yeah, I am a loser... big wink!

    Nice post at first I thought the photo was you... with a Wilson-factor [home improvement-style]... it has been great chatting with you on that thing, you that we have been talking about. bigger wink!

  20. Thank you for your celebration contribution (it was nice of you to go back and edit it in - thank you v. much) Viklit

  21. Thanks for the blogfest shout-out Alex!
    Is it my imagination, or does there seem to be a sudden increase in bloghops for the next 2 months?? I suppose everyone is trying to get in early, so as not to clash with the A to Z during April...

  22. I managed to avoid the squat toilets in my far!

    Congrats, Christine! The story sounds exciting.

    I couldn't live without my Google Reader and folders. :)

  23. Lynda: Considering the state of some of the public bathrooms I've been in, I think all public toilets should be squat toilets!

    Em: Now THAT'S something I didn't know!

    Christine: My current fave place to visit is Ethiopia. Nice people, great coffee, good food, beautiful women, and lots of historic sights. I've written two series on Ethiopia:

    Not sure where I'm going next. Probably Estonia and then Lebanon. Stay tuned!

  24. Michelle: there seem to be a million bloghops all of a sudden. I'm getting pickier about which ones I do to try to connect with people of similar interests.

  25. Thanks for the user-friendly tutorial, Alex.

    Question for Sean: How tall are you? I'm very short. Thus, the squat toilet thing is extra tricky. I have to develop a high level of skill to manage not to touch the toilet. Any suggestions?

    Happy Friday, Alex, Sean, and all.

  26. Good Lord Sean, you just described my biggest nightmare!! (Also, the main reason I refuse to go camping with The Husband: lack of top-notch, sanitary toilet facilities.) You are a brave man.

    I love little Alex. May he always rock on! Seeing that brown grass made me a bit nostalgic- it reminded me of when I lived in CA, and we were always restricted in watering our lawn. It pretty much stayed brown year-round.

    Thanks for posting the Google reader info- as usual, I hadn't quite figured that out!

    Have a great weekend Alex!

  27. So glad to know about Sean's book-- sounds like one I would love to read. Adding it to my list. Thanks!

  28. I think in Celebrate the Small things you had to put something you were happy you did the past week and what you have in there is a wish for the future, hahaha.

    Thanks very much for the Google lesson. I needed that!

  29. I would love to see mini-Alex take a world tour, especially now that he knows how to use a squat toiled. My mother-in-law gave us a book called "Shitting Pretty" which is all about fun travel bathroom experiences. It's hilarious. Thanks for the Google reader tips. Now I see how you can visit so many blogs so fast.

  30. I've had to use the squat toilet many times. They're a lot more common in France than most people think. I've learned over the years to roll up the hem of each pant leg BEFORE going into the stall. As for the normal public toilets, I have mastered the bum hovering posture. Great topic today guys!!! :D

    And thanks Alex for the shout out! And nice to see mini Alex out and about, here the grass is covered with snow.

  31. Squat toilets. Now there's an interesting early morning reading topic! :)

  32. I am both terrified and fascinated by the concept of the squat toilet. I haven't had to use one yet, but I'll keep these tips in mind if ever I should be desperate and traveling in a foreign country.

  33. Good to know! I'll file that away for future use. :)

    I love folders in Google Reader! Definitely keeps me organized.

  34. My takeaway is that we should replace all school and public restroom toilets with squat toilets to work on the collective core and combat the obesity problem.

  35. Christine, you're welcome, and taking him to work would be funny. And embarrassing!

    Julie, I don't want to use one either.

    Misha, you're welcome!

    Jeremy, not I! Next week, we unveil the surprise...

    Vik, so sorry I forgot!!!!!!!

    Michelle, you're welcome, and I think you are right.

    Laura, I couldn't either.

    Jaybird, then I'd never have to mow!!! How to keep it from raining...

    Al, it was more of what I was happy for not doing!

    Shell, that made me laugh!

    Elise, you're welcome, and we were supposed to have snow today. Didn't happen.

    Charles, especially if you're in the bathroom.

  36. On the one hand the squat toilet sounds like a great idea, but I envision pants slipping down into it and...ick! But, it's all a matter of what we're accustomed to. If I'd been raised with squat toilets no doubt I'd think American toilets icky, too :)

    Thanks for the warning in case I travel that way!

  37. I hear nothing but good things about squatting toilets. And that how not write an opening thing sounds awesome. I probably don't even need to write anything new - just send over something from one of my existing stories.

    You're one organized guy, Alex.

  38. Squat toilets!!! I had to do a clothed demonstration so my children understood. Hilarious. =)

    Happy friday!!!

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Great posting. My son lived in a country with squat toilets which he says is a bigger challenge when you add alcohol! On your Mini Me and dead grass- Amen!

  41. I'm loving the GoogleReads thing. Thanks!!!

  42. I have experienced squat toilets (I think mostly in Turkey). It took some getting used to. I agree, this was a most unique post. Thanks for the google reader info, Alex. Very helpful.

  43. Squat toilet tips, that too after a heavy dinner. Never mind ;)

    Thanks for the google reader info. I will try it. Btw..which folder have you put me in ;)

  44. My origami skills are quite good. So is my ability to hover.

    I used Google Reader now but I need to re-organize my folders.

  45. I've never used a squat toilet. After that report, I hope I never have to. :)

  46. I have used a squat toilet . . .oddly enough in Paris, France . . .in a public toilet area. They don't call them restrooms or bathrooms overseas, because you aren't supposed to rest or take a bath in a public toilet. :-)

    Take Mini Alex out more!!!

    And I forgot my Small Things post until the last minute too! Glad I'm not the only one . . .

  47. Squat toilets sound scary, though I'll probably have to contend with them if I travel to some of the places I've wanted to see for a long time, like Armenia and Japan.

    I'm wondering if they have any accommodations for the disabled or injured. Obviously someone in a wheelchair or with a broken leg won't be able to squat.

  48. Super Bowl Parties are so fun! Yay for that!

    I love your system of Reader Folders. I had no idea you could do that, but I plan to organize immediately. I always wondered how I could visit all my favorite places without forgetting someone new. Thanks for sharing this awesome tip:) I hope your weekend is amazing.

  49. Thanks, Al.

    And, yes, definitely more mini-Alex. :)

  50. So glad I now know how to use a squat toilet! ;)

  51. Joshua, good idea!!!

    MsHatch, that IS ick.

    Rusty, no! Your stuff all rocks.

    RaShelle, you now rock at squat toilets!

    Gossip, I can imagine...

    Rachna, you are in my Buddy folder, of course!

    Tyrean, the bathroom is where you take a bath. And we both forgot!

    Carrie-Anne, I guess someone helps those people.

  52. Sean McLachlan Very funny, I loved his words about the bathrooms.

  53. Squat toilets would destroy what's left of my arthritic knee.

    I'm bookmarking this post to come back to for the Google folder instructions. Thanks.

  54. I'm adventurous when it comes to trying different ethnic foods, but not when it comes to bathrooms. I tried to use one of those in Paris. Couldn't do it!

  55. A dead lawn is indeed much easier to maintain!

  56. Mini-Alex needs to travel far and wide. You could have a contest, "Where in the world is mini-Alex?"

    The Dragonslayer book sounds amazing, what a great concept!

    My parents have done multiple missionary trips with Campus Crusade for Christ's International School Project, and are very familiar with the squat toilet. My mom has a collection of pictures. I'd think the only advantage would be stronger thighs...

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

  57. Thanks for the plug!
    And I may have to do that My First Book thing. The cliches are already piling up.

  58. You know... I bet the rest of the world has stronger thigh muscles than we do... teehee.

    Christine's book sounds great! Love the premise!

  59. Swat toilets! I have a story about my strange encounter, but there's not enough space here, so sorry, no story. Haha. Don't you just hate it when a commenter does that!

    Great stuff on the Google thingie. I'm going to give it a try. Thanks, Captain!

  60. LD, it would be challenging for some.

    LG, just ignore!

    Tina, I need to go somewhere first. And strong thighs are a plus.

    Andrew, you're welcome.

  61. Great tips about squat toilets Sean! I especially liked the bit about origami! Congrats to Christine on her new book, and Happy 2nd Blogaversary Michelle! Thanks for the Google Reader info Alex! Julie

  62. I could not get used to the squat toilets on my recent trip to China. Maybe because it was so cold and we were so bundled. I looked for the ones with a picture of the western toilets.

    Thanks for the tips on organizing your blogs, Alex. I just check for now through my blogger dashboard, but I might try your suggestion some time.

  63. The squat toilet has me scared to travel now. Do they have toilet paper in those foreign countries? Or are you expected to bring your own. Imagine getting the feces of other people on your shoes...ugh. I guess I'd need to man up if I'm gonna make it outside our borders.

    I think I'm in shock LOL.

    I'm so jealous of little Alex that it is 80 degrees where you are (so hot I guess you have dead grass). Here it has been in the single digits for more than a week with choking red air quality (inversion) and no end in sight. It's supposed to continue into next week.

    North Carolina shall henceforth be known as "The Land of eternal summer."

  64. There's so much in this post, I don't even know where to begin.

    Congrats to those with new books, blogaversaries, contests, and new things.

    Kudos to Sean for introducing me to something new. I love learning new things, even about toilets.

    And yay to Alex for bringing this all together.

    Happy Weekend!

  65. Women have been squatting over dirty toilet for years. I'm just surprised at how little they look!

  66. Those toilets are murder on the knees.

    Google reader is the only way I can keep up with so many blogs. The one part of my life reasonably well organised.


  67. Joylene, now I want to know!!!

    Natalie, I follow so many, the dashboard is just impossible.

    Michael, it's actually the dry, cold weather that has sent the grass into hibernation. When it's hot and muggy, you can actually hear it grow. However you can call us the land of next to no winter.

    Carol, as only I could do!

  68. Hilarious! Alex, thanks for hosting Sean.

  69. Everytime I'm faced with a squat toilet I always think NO FAIR!! So much easier for guys!

  70. haha, worst novel beginning sounds fun. Now with these squat toilets I'm rethinking my desire to travel...

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  71. Don't know what I would do without my Google reader. Indespensible! I have a version on my iphone and ipad as well!

    Have a great weekend! :)

  72. So excited about Dragonslayer - sounds intriguing! And thanks for the intro to Google reader. I had problems with it- but think this should help me figure it out.

    I remember the first time I encountered a squat toilet was when I had a strapped up knee... took some figuring out!
    Have a lovely weekend
    Laura x

  73. My grandparents have a squat toilet in their house in Japan. I learned to use it from a young age. It quite easy to get used to but you need an open mind about it. I do like having a place to sit though.

  74. Robyn: I'm six feet. The trick is to have what a certain Congressman called a "wide stance." helps iwth the balance. Also get done quickly before fatigue sets in.

    Shell: I wish I'd known about that Shitting Pretty book! I have a ton of stories I could have submitted.

    RaShell: Glad to hear I contributed to the education of your children. Um . . .

    Gossip Girl: I've used squat toilets under the influence. A harrowing experience.

    Tyrean: I live in Spain and every talks about the toilet or "Los servicios". They think it's funny that we find the word toilet to be vaguely obscene.

    Michael: Most of the world uses water and the hand. I bring my own paper because there's only so much acculturation I'm willing to do. A Pakistani friend put it to me this way, "If you're covered in shit, which would you rather me do--wipe you off with paper towels of hose you down." Impeccable logic. I'm still not doing it.

  75. Some interesting books! Google Reader is an essentail part of the Google Blogger experience. Can't do without it.

  76. Congratulations, Christine!

    Alex: Does Google Reader make it faster to check blogs and can you comment through it?

  77. Johanna, at least half of the time.

    Laura, hope it helps.

    Clarissa, I remember those.

    Isis, much faster, but you still have to click the link to get to the blog to comment. At least it's a direct link.

  78. Squat toilets are a pain in the ass (HAH!).
    BUT! Squatting is actually the way you should be *ahem* pooping. Western toilets make it much more difficult and can actually injure you.

  79. Sean, I think Europe is about as far as I want to go...

    Alex, Thanks for the Google Reader info - I copied it into a document and will read later.

  80. Wow. I had no idea. My husband travels to some non-touristy countries for work - I'll have to ask him about the toilet situation.

  81. Whoa, Alex. You DEFINITELY get the prize for the most unusual post. LOL I think I'll stay here in the good ol' USofA.

    "...write the WORST beginning you can possibly write."
    Or go to the very first draft of my very first WIP and simply copy & paste. hahaha xD

    Thanks for the lesson on Google Reader folders. You rock! :D

  82. Learn something new every day! Never knew about squat toilets. *must travel more* :-) I definitely think Mini-Alex needs to get out more....maybe dinner this weekend. Thanks for the information about Google Reader! Have a great weekend!

  83. If I weren't such a germaphobe, I'd go hug my toilet after reading that! LOL

    Also, I love that mini-Alex got to do a little traveling of his own this week. He looks so happy. :) Thanks for the lesson on Google Reader!

  84. Hey, I did what you said to set up the list in Google Reader. I'm feeling organized now. Thanks!

  85. Squat toilets, huh? Well, there's a bit of information I hope I won't need in the immediate future . . . though thanks for the tips!

    Really cool to see mini-Alex again. :)

  86. I have used these squat toilets in France too. Easier for you guys, I hated them and today would NOT be able to use them anyway. The one in your picture looks quite sophisticated compared with some I've visited.

  87. Hey Sean! It's great to see you here! I guess I'm lucky that Egypt uses western-style toilets except in the very oldest buildings. Maybe it's because they were occupied by France and then Britain for so long.

    Christine's book sounds wonderful! I wish her great success! :-)

    Yay for Mini-Alex's field trip! lol

  88. I'm not sure about the squatting thing, but it was interesting to read about. Nice to see Sean. :)

    Congrats to Christine.

    Google reader is very handy. It's what I use now.

    Glad mini Alex is getting out.

  89. Gwen, hope it helps.

    Melissa, I knew it would be unique! Sean came up with something good.

    Tracy Jo, I'll take him somewhere.

    Tonja, glad it worked for you!

    Jo, that is scary...

  90. I keep meaning to organize my google reader with more folders.
    Yes, please take Mini-Alex out more. He's so cute.
    Really too much info about toilets but I read it anyway because I was horrifically fascinated.

  91. I found Sean's article fascinating, but I'm wondering what that says about me. :)

    Each of Christine's 13th floor series sounds more fascinating than the last one.

    A few links to check out. I have noticed that half the time I go to my blogger page to check out other people's blog, it won't even show me a list. Haven't used reader much.

    Have a good weekend.

  92. Hard to believe it's more hygienic. I would think less. Hmmmm. Good to know.

  93. I had to use one of those toilets when I was hiking up Mont Blanc in Switzerland. There was no other alternative but nature. Talk about an awkward experience.

  94. Wow, Sean this is good to know!

    Alex, take mini Alex to work and the movie theater-he would get a kick out of visiting both places! ;D

    Off to dragons, captions and chocolate-most intriguing!

    Happy Friday Captain!

  95. Son of a gun. I've read like a bazillion blog posts by now, and this... THIS is the first time I ever read anything about the fine art of using a squat toilet. Now, I hope I never have to USE one.

  96. Well, Sean managed to help me reduce the number of 'must visit' places on my list! :)

    I can't imagine not using Google Reader - it's a life saver!

  97. Thanks, Sean, that was enlightening. Great photos of a unsavoury subject.

    I also want to read about your latest trip in Tangiers.

    As for mini-Alex, may he travel farther next time . . .

  98. Greetings human Alex,

    Yes, it's me, Penny the Jack Russell and Britain's next 'Paw Minister'!

    Sean gives a fascinating insight to the variety of human type toilets. My human mentioned the communal stand up toilets in France. Especially those in Carcassone, where "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves", was filmed. And no, not in the public communal toilet, before you ask. This comment has almost reached the...bottom.

    Lots of links, me thinks and a lot to take in, what with my 'pawlitical' campaign in full swing.

    Google Reader is great when the darn thing actually loads up on my computer.....

    To you and all your starstruck fans, I bid thee a good weekend.

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and Britain's next Paw Minister!

  99. Squat toilets...OMG I just imagine slipping and falling face first. Yikes!

    Good news all around and I just might be asking you a few questions about Google Reader.

  100. Bad knees and the whole idea of squat toilets will now make me ask one more question before I consider travel beyond Europe.

    Mini-Alex should be rockin' the big game!! We expect lots of pics of him at the Super Dome (or a reasonable facsimile there of).

    I will have to study this thing you call Google reader. Up til now I have just used the follow function in blogger.

  101. As I read about the squat toilets, I was thanking my lucky stars I wasn't eating anything. LOL!

    Thanks for the info about Google Reader. I currently go the email notification route but your way sounds much more efficient and organized.

  102. Squatters! Being Indian, squat toilets are my nightmare when I visit India. There are some more... creative toilets there too (some that are actually pretty cool). Toilets can tell a lot about a culture, I guess.... :)

  103. Okay, that was THE single most disgusting post ever! Blech! How do people do it? Why would they even want to like that? Totally gross. Made me kinda stumble through the rest of the post.

  104. Lexa: I love the old European buildings in Egypt. Alexandria and Cairo have tons of them. Most were crumbling when I was there in the early 90s. Hopefully they've been fixed up.

  105. My boys are loving my dead lawn as much as mini-Alex is :)

    I don't think I'll be traveling through Iraq in the near future - if ever. I need the comfort of my western toilet.

    Thanks for the google lesson. I read blogs through google reader, but haven't tried to organize beyond just what pops up. I read as much as I can in a couple days, then delete the rest. Sometimes I feel blogging is a full time job in itself.


  106. Great post about the squat toilets! These had been a topic of conversation at my work recently. One of the girls had just travelled through an Asian country. I am so glad we are Westernized, here in Oz!

    Thanks for the insight info on how you are so organized, will have to give it a go!

  107. That's quite enough toilet talk, thank you!

    I've not tried Google Reader. Will try to work it out.

  108. drastic beginning, from eww! to oooo! love christines latest - she is to writing like you are to blogging - fast and good!

    great prompts, must check out!

    and folders are an extra step...if someone gets put in a folder i might forget about them...but i do like to organize, will inspect closer!

  109. Dear Mr. Cavanuaugh and guest blogger Mr. Mclachlan, Many thanks for that gripping explanation regarding a subject most would be too timid to broach.
    The advent and persistence of such a device (and the obvious absence of toilet paper)is all the proof I'll ever need to know that men do indeed run the world.
    ~Just Jill

  110. Susan, like a car accident - you just have to look.

    JL. I've noticed the dashboard does that, which is another reason I use Google Reader.

    Ella, he would dig going to the theater!

    Susan, and it obviously caught your attention!

    Gary, Penny will be very busy with her campaign the next few months.

    Melissa, fire away!

    Chuck, he'll likely be in my Super living room. And try the Reader - what a difference!

    Melissa, I can't imagine following 1700 blogs through email!

    Nancy, hopefully it got better...

    Donna, it can be a full time job, especially on Mondays.

    Tara, thank you!

    Jill, those men are crazy though - I still need the paper!

  111. Interesting information about toilets, very informative and yucky stuff, but best forwarned, I say!

    I will also be checking out the google reader. I still haven't figured out how to put my favorite blogs on the page, but I'm slow to get this stuff right.

  112. This was definitely one of the more informative posts I've ever seen lol. I've never seen a squat toilet...I need to get out more. I am your newest follower sir.

  113. I have very bad memories about the squat toilets we occasionally found in small out-of-the-way towns in France back in the knees may never be the same.

    Great tips for the Google Reader, Alex. As you know, I'm working on the blogroll/reader cleanup this week so all good ideas are welcome.

  114. Squat toilets. I am even more grateful for my normal toilet at home. That... just doesn't sound pleasant at all.

    I am excited for Christine's newest book - love the cover!

    Write an awful book beginning, I could definitely do that one!

  115. Thank you Sean for a most enlightening post! I'm glad I read this after breakfast. I've just developed a much deeper appreciation for our large porcelain toilets.

  116. Yes, I like the idea of ​​publishing the worst start to a novel. Greetings.

  117. Okay...even if they are supposedly more sanitary, I found the whole idea of squat toilets to be fairly disgusting, especially given what Sean said about people's aim. And I was eating when I read that post. Bleck.

    In other news, all the upcoming blogfests sounds like lots of fun. And my husband loves our dead lawn!!

    You should definitely bring mini Alex out more often, i'm sure he enjoyed getting some air!

  118. Try being a girl in a skirt in Turkey with one of those toilets!

    However, I have a story that's the reverse. One of my students from Saudi Arabia slipped and wedged his foot in an American toilet. Yes. Fire department, paramedics etc. etc.

  119. Yolanda, you mean in a blogroll?

    Optimistic, thank you! And I warned everyone it was the most unique post ever.

    Patricia, it's good to be organized.

    Tamara, he did like the cold air!

    Lee, that is really original.

  120. Ugh, a squat toilet doesn't sound like any fun to try to use.

    Love Christine's cover for The Dragonslayer!

  121. Wow, that's some serious, good travel information! Not that I may ever need it, but it is still very good to know. Who knows what the future holds for me in the form of travel.
    And Alex, I think I might start using Google Reader to get organized for my blogs. I have trouble with Blogger and not being able to follow any more blogs (or so it says) and I can't open up the manager to remove ones that have been inactive for over a year. I've contacted them, but you know how that goes. This just might be a good solution. Thanks!

  122. Ugh! Squat toilets were some of my least favorite things about traveling in the Mid-East -- and I was Victor's age at the time with good knees!

    Thanks for clueing me in on the worst beginning Challenge.

    The ghost of Mark Twain said my eyes started to glaze over by the second paragraph about Google Reader! It wasn't you. It's my cyber-challenged mind! LOL.

  123. Thanks for the tips on Google Reader! I wish the free wordpress I'm on supported it:-( I'm still on there though--it will be on my bucket list to get organized like you:-) And LOL at mini Alex--my hubs feels the same way!

  124. Mini Alex strikes again, he looks set to rock. I'm considering Misha Gericke Word Master Challenge, funny really, I guess we've all got those stories we never quite finished.

  125. This week was a bad blog checking up week for me. But now I'm doing the rounds commenting on all the blogs I missed commenting on. So hi Alex, I'm still with the living.

    Wow those squat toilets have me thinking outdoor toilets are not such a bad thing. Sorry but all that squatting. You'll either have strong knees or a really bad back. Best of luck Shawn.

    Seriously, Dragon Slayer is everywhere this week. And I might try that False start fridays thing but I have to check my blog schedule to be sure. Wow Mini-Alex is living the life. Keep strong little guy. You are such a nice organized man Alex, best of luck and keep on chugging and blogging.

  126. Mel, you can follow a lot more blogs with Google Reader.

    Roland, no glazing!

    Jamie, as long as you have a Google account, you can use Google Reader no matter what blog platform you use.

    Sheena-kay, I try to stay organized.

  127. I've never encountered a squat toilet and hope not to.

    Thanks for all the book and blog news.

  128. Hi Alex .. when we went to Agincourt as a family ... the squat toilets were monstrous! Not funny ... and there are plenty of them throughout Europe ...

    Elise's little Alex is quite delightful .. enjoy the Superbowl party ...

    Google reader .. thanks for that info .. and how you handle us all!!

    Cheers Hilary

  129. Hey Alex, Had to stop back and tell you that I just went through my blog list on Google Reader and put them in folders. I was so overwhelmed by the list and think this is going to help so much. Really appreciate the tip! It is below zero in MN today...good day to stay in and organize! Hope you are warmer and that you didn't forget to take mini out. :-)

  130. As for squating toilets, I had my experiences when we lived on Okinawa in my early twenties. I'll never forget my first trip to a park. I walked in the women's restroom and walked right back out. "There are only holes in the floor," I said. My hubby smiled. "Well, here's what you have to do..." O_O

    I'm not organized when it comes to reading blogs. I'm reading them through Blogger at the moment. I really need to play around with Google Reader and see if I can figure it out. Thanks for the tips.

  131. When I was in China, the toilet on the train was a hole in the floor. And the aim of my fellow passengers was no good -- but you'd expect as much on a moving train, right?

  132. Hilary, I'd be afraid of falling in the big ones.

    Tracy Jo, that's good to hear! The organizing, not the extreme cold. Hope you can stay on top of blogs now.

    Candilynn, it makes a difference. Give it a try.

    Milo, I guess we could cut them some slack.

  133. Haha - that guest post was quite...informational. :) Thanks for the weekly round-up.

  134. Thanks Alex, for putting me in the buddy folder. I hope a little of your warmth, energy and sweet nature rubs off on me.

    Btw..I find mini Alex very huggable :)

  135. I appreciate your tutorial with managing Google Reads... I actually subscribe to certain blogs that way. Your note teaches me how to keep things organized.

  136. So many new good books and blogs to read, so little time! But I'll make note of Dragonslayer. It's always a good idea to take Mini-Alex out and about and let him see more of the world, and let the world see him.

    And yes, I've experienced the challenges of the foreign squat toilet -- in very clean, modern Switzerland, of all places.

  137. Thanks for the lesson on Google Reader. It will come in really helpful. I must say, I've never experienced squat toilets, but now if that's what's available, I won;t be too freaked out. Haha. Hope you've had a great weekend!

  138. Hi Sean and Alex, Unfortunately, I am more familiar then I like to be with squat toilets from living in China for 5 1/2 years. One tip, you need strong quad muscles or it becomes a mess rather quickly.

  139. Hi Sean and Alex, Unfortunately, I am more familiar then I like to be with squat toilets from living in China for 5 1/2 years. One tip, you need strong quad muscles or it becomes a mess rather quickly.

  140. Rachna, you've always been there!

    Cynthia, I couldn't do it without the folders.

    Helena, at least they were clean.

    Sydney, and have a good sense of balance.

  141. Love your choice of T'Pol - haven't watched the Stargate series though, so I may have to check them out.

  142. I was a little mystified by the whole squatting thing in a restaurant in Venice - one of the restaurants had a squat toilet. Being a Brit, I didn't want to be a bother so I just didn't go until I was back at my hotel!


  143. I have nightmares about public toilets...I laughed at Sean's great descriptions of traveling toilets. Sounds like a great story-have to check it out. Also, thanks for the info on google readers. I use my blog role- but love the idea of organizing my folders. I do that on twitter and it really helps. Have a great day- best:)

  144. You don't have to mow dead grass.


  145. Just spent the morning building folders in gooogle reader thanks to your post here...let's see if it helps me get more organized.


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