Friday, September 28, 2012

The "Who Knew?" News

This week as I was looking around for odd news stories, it has become obvious that nothing is shocking any more.  The odd, random or "couldn't happen" type of news stories are now commonplace.  There is, of course the possibility that I have become terribly jaded and nothing shocks ME any more.  I prefer to think that odd is "in" and everything is caught on camera now which makes nearly every silly move reportable by the media.

So today, I picked out a few news items that I selected just for their educational value.  These are less about stupid crime and more about things that I wasn't aware of...up until today.

Sign of the Times

I didn't realize that there were no street signs in San Jose, Costa Rica.  This hasn't been a huge problem for me as I have never traveled to Costa Rica but my son has several times and never mentioned being lost.

Still for the people that are currently in San Jose that have been wandering aimlessly for extended periods of time... there is Good News!

San Jose municipal workers announced last Thursday that they will be installing 22,000 street signs on the street corners in their city.  The city of 1.4 million have long relied on a very informal system that has been tolerated by the locals but causing problems for visitors and the post office.

The current system of asking for directions and using land marks to describe how to get somewhere has worn out it's welcome.
"My current home address is 200 meters north of the Pizza Hut then 400 meters west, but in a few months, I will be able to give a proper street name and a number," San Jose Mayor Johnny Araya said during a ceremony where the first street sign was placed.

Other popular landmarks residents use to describe how to get somewhere include the McDonald's restaurant chain, former President and Nobel Prize-winner Oscar Arias' house, a famous fig tree that has long since died and the site of an old cattle shed turned gas station.
Many streets will be named after illustrious political and intellectual figures from Costa Rican history.
Araya hopes the plan will reduce economic losses caused by undelivered, returned or re-sent mail, estimated at $720 million a year by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2008.
Almost one-quarter of the country's mail never reaches its destination, a spokesman for the Costa Rican post office said.
Postal codes were introduced in 2007 to help matters, but no one uses them because they do not know how to find them.
Costa Rica embarked on a street-naming crusade about 30 years ago, but the signposts were never installed. This time, funding from two different banks made the $1 million project possible.
Once the signage is up, Araya intends to undertake a campaign to encourage use of the new system, which is expected to encounter some resistance.

"I don't think it's going to work", 29-year-old taxi driver Manuel Perez said. "If a tourist tells me to take him to a hotel in whatever street, I'm going to say 'you're speaking to me in Chinese,' because I don't know where that is. I need a landmark."

As someone who is "directionally challenged", I can't imagine trying to find my way around a city of 1.4 million people without streets having names.  I guess it wouldn't help to ask a postman for directions. 

Information When You Need It

Clearly, I am getting old.  Old enough that I didn't know that there were vending machines for pregnancy tests.   In all fairness, to my's been a "little" while since I was worried about drinking and pregnancy. (well to's been awhile since I worried about ME drinking and getting pregnant)  But for those of you out there that do worry, help may be as close as the restroom at your favorite bar.   

The first pregnancy test vending machine has been installed in Pub 500, a Mankato, Minnesota bar located south of Minneapolis.  Before ordering up your adult beverage you can go to the ladies room and get a test kit for $3.00.  Healthy Brains for Children, a local nonprofit, created the machine in an effort to reduce alcohol related birth defects. The owner of the bar is on board with the groups efforts and doesn't make any profit off of the machine.  

See me not making any jokes here!   I just found this interesting in a weird sort of way that you would take your pregnancy test at the local pub.  How handy is that! You can celebrate or NOT by just leaving the room and walking over to the bar. 

 Another kind of Sign

We have all heard the stories about there are more rats than people in New York City?  You haven't heard that??? Really.  OK, let's catch you up to speed.  I have attached a link that you can click on if you are really into knowing how prolific these little buggers are. 

Rats Love New York City But That Doesn't Mean They Are Welcome

No one really knows how many there are but various studies indicate that there are somewhere between one rat per person up to about 12 rats per person in the city.  Last January the transit workers, who were fed up with the number of rats in their work place, ran a contest called Rate My Rat   where contestants could take a picture of the nastiest rats and upload them to a website.  The winners could win a month long transit pass.  
Now that you are caught up to the fact that NYC has rats, there is a new effort to rein in the herd.
One Manhattan resident has had enough of rats taking over his neighborhood.  Joseph Bolanos, president of the West 76th street Block Association decided to call attention to the problem. He has been installing signs.
 The move may be a bit flippant, but Bolanos said he thinks the signs could bring attention to the issue plaguing his streets.

 Mr. Bolanos is not alone. After receiving hundreds of complaints in recent days the Borough's President Scot Stringer and a city councilman, Gale Brewer created the Rat Academy.   Speaking at the Rat Academy, a seminar that was designed to educate residents  on ways to reduce the rat population, Manhattan's Borough President  Stringer said " The rats on my block, they don't scurry anymore, they walk right up to me and say "Good Morning, Mr. Borough President." (talk about politically correct rats)

 Very creative way to market your rat problem.  I love that the rats are evolving so well that they now say "good morning".  Very cool to have such polite rodents.


Chubby Chatterbox said...

I've gotten lost in San Jose, Costa Rica, several times. I don't know if signs would help since i don't read Spanish.

Cheryl P. said...

Maybe it wouldn't help but it couldn't hurt to have something to match a map to. We got horribly lost once in Munich, Germany by getting on the wrong train going to Dachau. Only one of us sorta, kind of spoke German but we could match the visual of the words to the maps. We only had to follow the various platz's and strasses to get back to Berliner Strasse 93 to get back to the hotel. I do have a pretty good understanding what the locals were talking about when they kept saying Dummkopf .

Jo-Anne said...

There are no street signs in San Jose, Costa Rica what the hell I don't get that good thing I don't go there, yeah the locals may be fine they know their way around others would be lost.........

Cheryl P. said...

I totally agree. It may work for the local but can't say that is the best thing for the tourists. I am not keen on asking for directions and trying to figure out landmarks. I guess they are on the track though of taking care of all of that.

Nicky said...

You can tell there is no snow in Costa Rica. Try directing people without street signs in a country where there's snow 6 months out of the year - "Yeah, just turn left at the 12 foot tall snowbank and then three 6-foot tall snowbanks later, turn right and then right again at the 12th snowman on your left. Mine is the 4th igloo on the right, the one with the white roof.

Aleta said...

I'd love to go to Costa Rica one day, but I'd need the street signs :) I don't mind the landmarks, but street signs are the confirmation I would need.

I was just in NYC this year. I didn't see rats and ewwwwww, so glad too!

Cheryl P. said...

I am with you...that wouldn't work in a snowy area. Here in Kansas we don't get the amount of snow you get but it wouldn't work here either. If someone said go down to the Walmart and turn at the Target, we would have to say which ones????

Cheryl P. said...

I, actually love NYC and followed your blog with great envy. I have been there for a few years now and would love to go back.

I have never seen rats either but I know there are rats in all urban areas with underground sewers. I wouldn't want to look too closely because you would, no doubt, find some.

In the articles the block manager said you could actually hear them at night. ICK

Linda R. said...

I really can't imagine not having street signs. I also can't believe how far behind I've gotten here.

As for you NYC - love it! On my few and brief trips there, I've not seen any rats, fortunately! Don't.Like.Rats.

Cheryl P. said...

I have enough problems finding my way around even with signs. I was doing the happy dance when GPS came out.

I, totally agree with you about NYC. I love visiting there. Have only gone a couple of times but had so much fun. I guess the rats don't like to hang out with the tourists.

meleahrebeccah said...

As someone who is "directionally challenged", I can't imagine trying to find my way around a city of 1.4 million people without streets having names. I guess it wouldn't help to ask a postman for directions.

I would NEVER be able t o navigate my way around with no street signs! OMG!

Um… WTF? Vending machines for pregnancy tests? I can't decide if that's smart or insane!!

And I can only shudder at the mere thought of a RAT.

Cheryl P. said...

Now that I have my Iphone crutch with it's GPS, I can usually get where I am going but I don't see how it would work without street names.

I thought the same thing about the pregnancy test machine. I guess it's sort of a good thing but I have to think some of the chicks using it shouldn't be having sex or drinking or drinking before/during/after having sex.

I am not sure I actually have seen a rat (other than in a cage). It would creep me out.