Saturday, June 29, 2019
Last week I talked about some of the more common items people steal from their hotel and motel rooms. This week it's the most bizarre things people have stolen from their rooms.
People have probably been pilfering from hotel/motel rooms for as long as hotels and motels have existed. Whether it's a small souvenir or something bigger, such as a plush robe, theft by guests has cost the hotel industry big bucks over the years.
While most people steal the common items, some don't stop at stealing the small things. Instead, they go for the gold. This list will probably have you shaking your head in disbelief.
It is very odd to swipe pillows but hotel guests do. Who would want to own a pillow that likely thousands of others have slept—and drooled—on? Hotel pillows typically cost enough that hotels do care when guests take them home. Some hotels have even started implanting trackable microchips in hotel linens.
If a guest steals a pillow or two, the hotel will usually send him a letter to the effect of, "Hope you're enjoying the pillows," along with an invoice. If the guest returns to stay in that hotel again, some hotel managers let him know what website he can go to and buy hotel linens.
2. Grand piano
A head shaker. Acting as construction workers, the thieves simply wheeled it out the door. It turned out that three people had strolled into the lobby dressed in overalls and had wheeled the grand piano out of the hotel and down the street, never to be seen again.
Apparently it was a while before anyone noticed them missing. When one hotel checked the security footage, they saw a guest walk through a busy reception area struggling under the weight of a television set, yet no one batted an eye.
4. Stuffed boar head
In the billiard room at the Hotel du Vin in Birmingham, UK, one guest tried to steal a stuffed boar's head. He was caught, much to his chagrin and embarrassment. A few weeks later, some of his friends came back and bought the object from the hotel as a wedding present for him. The hotel donated the money to charity.
A couple staying at an American Holiday Inn asked for a room near the parking lot. Next, they emptied the entire contents of the hotel room into a conveniently located U-Haul. They stole the bed, the furniture—everything that wasn't (and likely some things that were) nailed down.
Guests did the same thing at a Forte Group hotel in Bath, UK. They parked their vehicle underneath the room's window and passed the things though. The carpet, bedding, tea pot, and toilet seat were missing when they left. Yes, even the toilet seat!
6. Hotels offered guests amnesty
According to The New York Times, New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel announced on Facebook in 2012 that it was launching an amnesty campaign directed toward those who had stolen or "accidentally packed" items from the hotel. They promised forgiveness to those who returned the stuff.
A psychotherapist who lives in San Diego returned a silver coffee pot to the hotel with a note explaining that her mother and father had a one night honeymoon at the hotel in 1938. They didn't have much money and that one night at the Waldorf was a very big deal for them. She went on to say that her father stole the silver coffee pot and every year on their anniversary, he took it out and served coffee in it.
7. Sex toys
Yes, you read that right—sex toys stolen from a hotel room. The Residence in Bath, UK, used to rent sex toys to guests, no available information on hygiene. Guests often stole the toys, and they were almost always caught. A hotel staff member said he would call them up to explain that they had been caught. A rather long silence would inevitably follow.
If you've ever stayed at one of the economy type motel chains, you know glamour isn't what they offer. Televisions and hairdryers are often nailed to the wall to prevent theft. But it seems that guests found other things to steal. The no-frills hotel chains reported that thousands of guests stole carpeting, mirrors, light fittings, and yes, even the shower curtains.
9. Room number
Who in the world would want to steal the room number from the door of their hotel room? Someone staying at the Franklin Hotel in Knightsbridge, UK, apparently. The guest unscrewed the number from the door and made off with it. The hotel general manager said no one notice it missing until they found the next guest wandering up and down the hallway looking for his room.
Mayfair is an affluent area in the West End of London, and the four-star Chesterfield Hotel is a popular spot to stay in the area. Someone stole two busts from outside the hotel's entrance. It's almost unbelievable that the person who stole them got away with it. Even stranger, the busts were returned the following morning in the back of a cab. [sounds like a college fraternity prank]
Luxury hotels typically spend a fortune on fresh flowers to make the lobby impressive. And people love the flowers. They love them so much that they steal them. Again, it's hard to imagine someone just walking out of a hotel with one of those huge floral displays. It looks like the hotel employees need to be a bit more watchful.
12. Pet dog
What kind of person would steal someone else's pet? At one hotel, it was reported that guests stole the hotel owner's dog. There isn't any information on whether the owner recovered his pet. Hopefully, it was a case of the dog getting out one day and eventually finding his way back home.
13. Famous artwork
At Hong Kong's W Hotel, a guest stole a piece of Andy Warhol artwork worth $300,000 which was never recovered. In addition, guests at Hong Kong's Shangri-La stole chandeliers, and someone took an entire minibar from the old Parkroyal in Kuala Lumpur. At the old Crowne Plaza in Bangkok, guests frequently stole showerheads.
A guest at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., stole an entire marble fireplace. There are no details regarding how he got it out of the hotel, but he really upped the ante when it comes to being an audacious thief.
16. Concorde model
A housekeeper at a Best Western hotel reported a seriously strange theft. The guest swiped a 12-foot model of the Concorde, the British-French turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner that operated until 2003. How on earth did no one notice that on its way out?
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Lots of jokes abound about the things people feel compelled to steal from hotel and motel rooms when they check out. There's even the unconfirmed tales of people changing their name to correspond with their newly acquired monogrammed bed and bath linens.
There are items in your hotel room that the hotel is happy to have you take—free souvenirs, mementos of your trip, a keepsake from a special occasion.
And then there are the items that at the least can result in a hefty additional charge on your credit card and possibly even something as serious as criminal charges.
Pens and Pencils: Stationery, pens, pencils, and the postcards in the room are yours to take. Every time you use them, it's free advertising for the hotel.
Towels and Linens: Towels are the top item to disappear from hotel rooms. Hotels and motels have literally millions of towels disappear each year. But to also take the bed linens? Just how big does your suitcase need to be to have that much extra room in it?
Lotions and bathroom items: All those little bottles of shampoo, hair conditioner, body lotion, and soaps are there for you to use and take with you whether they've been opened or not. They're the perfect travel size and take up very little room, not to mention that they're sized to meet the airline 3 oz. rule. However, of late some hotels/motels are changing from these little individual bottles to dispensers attached to the wall. You still have the availability of having the product to use but not the bottles (whether opened or new/unused) to take with you.
Laundry Bags: We've all helped ourselves to the plastic laundry bags in hotel rooms to use for dirty clothes and a still damp swim suit. No problem there. However, if the hotel uses cloth or canvas bags, you can expect to see a charge on your bill.
Docks and Clocks: It's safe to assume that a room's clock radio and iPod dock are not there for you to take home with you. Boston's Onyx Hotel takes a simple approach. "You can take anything you want from the room, but we'll charge your credit card for replacement."
Robes and Umbrellas: It can occasionally be confusing, but most hotels will bill you if the robe goes missing. Some hotels will provide package rates that include such items as monogrammed robes, slippers, branded totes, books, and even bottles of premium liquor. But beware, those complimentary items can come at a steep price as some of the package rates can be as much as twice the regular room rate.
Gideon Bibles: Bibles have been a long time amenity in hotel rooms. Even though they are slowly being edged out, Gideon International still places more than ten million copies in hotel rooms annually to replace those that are taken. They claim they're happy to have people break the eighth commandment.
There have been lots of strange items taken from hotels over the years. The following are some true tales.
A woman from San Jose, California, took the "C" from the coat check sign in San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel and was pursued through the hotel by men in blazers shouting, "Madam, the 'C'…give us the 'C!'"
A Geneva lawyer admits being caught by a receptionist of a Hamburg hotel while trying to make off with "an entire display of apples in a rather large fruit bowl from the hotel lobby."
A huge piece of blown glass by Dale Chihuly was once stolen from a table in the lobby of The Alexis hotel in Seattle.
Bill Babis of 70 Park Avenue said the most outrageous things stolen from the chic hotel were the thermostats.
So the next time you're tempted to slip a little keepsake from the hotel into your suitcase you might want to ask yourself if it's really a freebie or if you'll end up paying more for it than if you had bought it at a store.
Check back next week for part 2, a look at the most bizarre items stolen from hotels.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
It's kind of bizarre to think that some of the smallest living things on Earth can make a display that you can see from space. In August of 2012, NASA's Aqua satellite captured some remarkable images of a massive phytoplankton bloom surrounding Russia's Novaya Zemla island. These particular plankton contain plates of a calcium-containing mineral that give them a bright blue color, and when they gather in massive numbers they make an incredible visual image. Temperature and salinity conditions have to be absolutely right to trigger this phenomenon, so capturing it this clearly is pretty amazing. [pictured above]
Hundreds Of Sunken Ships
Much of the ocean is resistant to satellite photography because we don't have cameras powerful enough to penetrate those depths from space. However, there are still amazing things to be seen in the shallows, such as the ghost fleet of Mallows Bay. At the start of World War I, the United States needed to quickly build transport vessels. In April of 1917, 1000 ships were ordered to be built. By the end of the war, the boats had become obsolete and eventually they were sunk to the bottom of the Potomac River at Mallows Bay. From space, the ship graveyard is a striking and amazing sight.
A Marijuana Farm
If you're doing something illegal, it used to be sufficient to put up a fence and keep prying eyes out. But when the eyes are in the sky, things change. Spotting marijuana growths from small planes has been common practice for quite a while. But the owners of a massive marijuana growing operation in Switzerland found that out the hard way in 2010 when Google Earth satellite images revealed their pot fields. Police in Zurich discovered the two-acre field by chance while looking up the address of area farmers, and quickly moved in for the bust. Sixteen people were arrested and over a ton of marijuana was impounded.
The people of the ancient world did some things that still confound us today. One of the most perplexing is the practice of creating geoglyphs—massive drawings in the earth that are too large to be comprehended from the ground, but show up clear as day from high above. The Nazca lines of southern Peru are the most famous. In 2014 archaeologists happened across a completely new set of geoglyphs in Kazakhstan. The drawings, which depict a number of different geometric shapes, have yet to be explained.
A Hidden Rain Forest
It's well-known that the truly wild areas of the planet are dying at a rapid rate, but satellite imagery can often reveal hidden oases that mankind hasn't managed to ruin…yet. That happened in 2005, when scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens were going over Google Earth images from Mozambique. At the top of Mount Mabu, isolated by steep slopes, was one of the largest untouched rain forests that scientists had ever seen. Villagers had used the site to hide from the civil war that rocked the nation, but aside from that it was on no map and not recognized by the government. Three years later, an expedition found previously undiscovered plants and animals there.
Lost Egyptian Pyramids
One of the most frustrating parts of the archaeologist's craft is having to guess about ancient civilizations buried beneath the surface. Egypt, with its constantly-shifting sands, is especially tough. Thankfully, satellites equipped with infrared cameras have changed the game completely. In a 2011 survey of the country, heat-sensing photography was used to reveal the shapes of seventeen lost pyramids, as well as thousands of other buildings buried beneath the desert.
A Methane Hotspot
Satellites don't just take photos of things we can see with the naked eye. Their advanced sensors allow them to record wavelengths we can't perceive. That's how we found an enormous packet of the greenhouse gas methane hovering over the American southwest. The Four Corners area, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet, is a hotbed of natural gas extraction. Scientists believe that the methane was released as a side effect of that industry, and claim that it's equivalent to the entire greenhouse gas output of Sweden.
A Meteor Crater
One of the coolest things about satellite surveillance is that it allows us to see things that would be virtually invisible from the ground. Case in point: the crater from one of Earth's most recent meteor impacts, a scant 5,000 years ago. Measuring just 150 feet wide, this tiny hole in Egypt was first noticed in 2008. But it wasn't until a team analyzed Google Earth images in 2010 that they realized what makes it unusual. The site is what's known as a "rayed crater," featuring lines of lighter-colored rock emanating from the impact area. These craters are common on the Moon but typically eradicated by erosion on Earth, so it's an advantage to science to find a new one.
A New Species Of Hominid
One of the most fascinating discoveries in the history of paleontology—a completely new hominid species that fills in information about the evolution of Homo sapiens. In 2007, South African professor Lee Berger was using Google Earth to examine caves around the so-called "Cradle of Humanity" area of South Africa when he started to notice a pattern. Following it out, he marked 500 other sites that he thought had the potential to produce fossils. The next year, he started to explore them on foot, and one gave up an incredible find: the first bones of Australopithecus sediba, a species that some believe might be the missing link between man and ape.
A Mars Lander
Let's look away from Earth and cast our attention to our nearest planetary neighbor for a look at a mission gone wrong. In 2003, the European Space Agency launched a mission to Mars that involved landing an unmanned craft called the Beagle 2 to take samples and return data. Unfortunately, after launch the ESA lost contact with the Beagle and it vanished into space. A dozen years later, NASA staff operating the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's cameras spotted an anomaly on the planet's surface. Upon investigation, they realized they had found the long-missing Beagle 2. The craft's solar panels had failed to open, resulting in mission failure, but it's been sitting on Mars this whole time.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
Allergies are caused by the body's defense system overreacting to some substance it comes in contact with. We're all familiar with the allergies to everyday things such as mold, pollen, specific foods, and animal dander. There are 40 to 50 million Americans allergic to these common bad guys. But you'd be surprised at the uncommon allergies people can develop.
Here's a list of 9 (in no particular order) weird and unusual allergies.
1) Water Allergy
Water is absolutely mandatory for our survival, but there are those rare people who get the hives from water. The hives and itching usually go away in 15 to 30 minutes and antihistamines will relieve the symptoms.
2) Exercise Allergy
This type of allergy has only been officially reported in medical journals about 1000 times since the 1970s. Of course, unofficially is a different story…at one time or another I imagine most of us have professed an allergy to exercising. :) In mild cases the result is hives. But in more severe cases it can lead to anaphylaxis, a dangerous condition where the blood pressure drops suddenly and there is difficulty breathing. This is the same type of reaction as severe food allergies and is treated as a medical emergency, usually with injections of epinephrine.
3) Sun Allergy
Solar exposure can result in hives with the itching and stinging symptoms relieved with antihistamines, but not prevented. Sun allergy is very rare. The hives appear within 30 minutes of exposure to the sun and will clear up within minutes of getting out of the sun. Needless to say, avoiding the sun can prevent this reaction.
4) Electricity Allergy
Those who claim to suffer from electro sensitivity say they are sensitive to electric fields generated by products such as cell phones, microwaves, computers, and power lines. The symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears and fatigue among other complaints. The experts say this is one type of allergy that you don't have to worry about because it doesn't exist. There have been several studies done and almost all of them have come up empty.
5) Shoes Allergy
A poison ivy-type rash on your feet after you've worn leather shoes could be allergic reaction to the chemicals used in the leather tanning process. This type of allergy is known as contact dermatitis and can be diagnosed with a patch test. Contact dermatitis is somewhat of a catchall term for a common skin condition resulting from contact with many possible irritants. The solution to shoe allergy? Wear socks or shoes made from something other than leather.
6) Allergy to Money
Another type of contact dermatitis can be an allergic rash on your hands after handling coins. The culprit would most likely be the nickel metal in coins, also an alloy found in the manufacture of jewelry, zippers, and eyeglass frames among other things. The best treatment is to avoid the substance. Good luck with that one. :)
7) Allergy to Touch
This is known as dermographism and is another form of hives. The literal translation is skin writing and was named because with this type of allergy a person can write his name on his skin using nothing more than the pressure from a fingernail. That pressure on the skin causes an itchy hive reaction. This reaction can also be the result of tight clothing or even toweling off after a hot shower. The resultant itching can be controlled with antihistamines.
8) Cold Allergy
This allergy is very rare, but potentially dangerous. It can be life-threatening if a person with this allergy is suddenly exposed to extreme cold, such as diving into very cold water. This can cause a massive release of histamine, which can severely drop the blood pressure. Handling this kind of allergy is to focus on prevention such as avoiding exposure of large areas of skin to the cold.
9) Allergy To Pollinated Fruit
Millions of Americans have allergies to pollen and some of them could also experience a type of allergy known as oral allergy syndrome. This happens when someone allergic to pollen eats a fruit that contains the same protein as the pollen. This is a cross reactivity and can happen between such things as ragweed and bananas, grasses and tomato, and birch trees with apples, plums, or peaches. The symptoms are itchy mouth and throat and sometimes swelling of the lips and will go away if you swallow or spit out the fruit with treatment usually being unnecessary.
Saturday, June 1, 2019
The silver-haired 55-year-old suddenly trading in his life in the suburbs for something he considers more exciting—his sensible car and wife of 30 years for a Harley motorcycle and 21-year-old girlfriend—is certainly the stereotypical image of midlife crisis.
Obviously every period of doubt or depression that occurs in middle age is not connected with the panic about getting older. But how do you know if what you are experiencing is actually the anxiety of midlife crisis or not, especially in today's youth obsessed society?
I recently read an article about ten warning signs that say you might be going through midlife crisis, and I'd like to share them with you.
1) You have a growing sense of regret over unattained goals.
2) You have new feelings of being self-conscious around more successful colleagues.
3) You now place a new emphasis on remaining youthful when the effort previously seemed unimportant.
4) You desire to spend more time alone than previously, or with certain peers who could be characterized as youthful or as those who are comfortable in their own skin.
5) You have developed a new tendency to abuse alcohol.
6) You place a new importance on acquiring unusual or expensive items when the same purchases were previously considered frivolous or impulsive.
7) You are experiencing a sharp increase in self-criticism with a corresponding decline in self-compassion.
8) You now obsess over your physical appearance in areas where you previously didn't pay that much attention because everything was okay.
9) You place an unusual amount of pressure and stress on your children to excel in a variety of fields.
10) You enter relationships with younger partners than previously considered viable.
Even though midlife crisis is usually and traditionally associated with middle-aged men, it certainly applies to women, too. Now, where did that 25-year-old bronzed stud of a lifeguard disappear to (she asks as she slowly rakes her gaze across the men on the beach)?