A Travel Tip: One that You May Not Want to Use

I read the following advice, regarding bed bug prevention when visiting hotels, in several articles recently (this is just a portion of their recommendations):

When arriving at the hotel
•Pre-arrange for early hotel check-in so you can have more time to inspect for bed bugs.

• Here’s where your flashlight comes in handy! Inspect all the nooks and crannies of your hotel room, especially around mattresses, box springs, upholstered chairs, drawers, headboards, carpets, closets, and wall hangings. Indications of bed bug infestations include dark fecal spots, dried blood spots, eggs, and of course bed bugs – dead or alive.

• If possible, look behind your headboard to better inspect the bed as well as the headboard itself. (Bed bugs often reside in bed boards as they can remain there for longer amounts of uninterrupted time – without having the cleaners change the sheets daily like they do on the mattresses.)

• Pull the sheets off the mattresses and inspect all edges and folds in both the mattress and the box spring.
*Note: For a first-person story of a hotel bed bug encounter, blogger Oz Gal provided a creepy one.

I laughed when I read this advice--imagining what other curious items hotel guests are finding behind their headboards, under the mattresses, and beneath the box springs during these self-initiated critter inspections.

In my policing days, searching around these areas in hotel rooms was usually an adventure; one best performed with durable protective gloves and on an empty stomach. 

I found shotguns, handguns, shell casings, narcotics and equipment, and plenty of other disgusting things hidden that I have blocked from memory.

Here are two recent examples of what can be found in a hotel room:

Example #1 (the remains of a missing person)

Example #2 (the potent toxin Ricin)

I'll close with a thought: I believe that some of the folks who fear a bed bug infestation and search their hotel room as recommended may in the end preferred to have just found the annoying little reddish-brown insects.

Found in the Basement

This week's Missing Person Monday post involves two dead bodies that were likely never reported missing.

The following story was forwarded to me by Guest Blogger Crime Buff

The case is interesting, but I thought one aspect was especially curious: It is difficult to imagine that a chief of police would be harshly criticized after promising a "vigorous investigation" related to two dead infants who were recently discovered: 
..."We'll put detectives on this case for the long term," (Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie) Beck told The Times.
"We'll try to reconstruct the circumstances based on what the coroner tells us, based on the history of the residence and based on science. We have many more tools and technology available to us than before, which may allow for identification of the victims and closure to any family members."
Why is the chief facing the heat?

The article on the case reveals additional details:
Found with the Remains: Ticket Stub to the 1932 Olympics
(LOS ANGELES) The two women who found the remains of two infants in a MacArthur Park apartment building said they were so scared after opening the first bundle inside an old steamer trunk that they called police before opening the second.

Building manager Gloria Gomez and tenant Yiming Xing were checking out the contents of three trunks in the storage room, which used to be a ballroom, in the basement of the elegant 1923 structure Tuesday in the 800 block of Lake Street.

The trunks had been given to Gomez by the building's owner after no one claimed them. Gomez and Xing said they opened the first two trunks, but they were empty. The third was locked and after a considerable struggle were finally able to break the lock with a screwdriver.

"We got all excited because the first thing we found was a crystal dish,” Gomez said.

They also found clothing, aged photographs, old postcards and books. Both Gomez and Xing thought the items may have belonged to a very wealthy woman. On some of the documents was the name Jean M. Barrie.

At the bottom of the trunk were two black leather satchels that looked like doctor's bags. Gomez opened one and found a small parcel wrapped in newspaper, which she handed to Xing to open.

Xing took off the pages of a 1935 Los Angeles Times and found a white sheet, which she unwrapped.

“I saw something not very pleasant and very unusual,” she said. “It didn’t have any shape to it. But it seemed like a dried-out body.”

...Scared to open the second bundle, they called the police. When LAPD officers arrived, they opened the second satchel and made a similar discovery. The skeletal remains inside the second bundle were larger than the first and wrapped in the pages of a 1932 Los Angeles Times.

Xing described the second one as dried like a mummy with brown hair and a full skeleton...
I am sure that detectives are hoping the coroner will provide some specifics after the autopsies are completed.  Certainly, this may not even be a criminal matter considering that the infants could have perished of natural causes. 

Interesting that the Times' reader comments are overwhelmingly against the chief's announcement of  a "vigorous investigation" in this case. 

They argue that assigning investigators to a couple of 70+ year-old cases (or apparently very old cases that is) is not a wise investment of resources.

Why am I cautious rather than recommending anyone join the side of the vocal readers?

Though, it is reasonable to argue that the chief's aggressive investigation statements involving an incident from so long ago is not how police should be spending their time, I would want to read the coroner's reports before dismissing the LAPD efforts as a waste of time. 

Just because something looks old and is found with 1932 items, does not necessarily mean that it was not cleverly arranged to appear early 20th Century in origin--when the bodies are really from 2002.

In any event, it is sad to think that the bodies of two infants sat forgotten in a basement for so long.


Photo credit: LA Times.

Mike's New Car

The destructive power of kids never ceases to amaze me. 

Last year (but can't seem to find the post to link it), I described how our youngest child fed pennies to the apparently hungry DVD player in our family vehicle. 

The repair guy had a laugh, but said that he had quite a time removing those coins from our system--$90 worth of a challenge. 

The latest round of devastation by the youngest centers around the family mobile once again. 

Reenacting a scene from the Pixar and Monster's Inc. short Mike's New Car, the wanna-be-thespian ripped the vehicle rear-view mirror off of the windshield. 

Even more unfortunate, a chunk of glass came down with the automobile part leaving the windshield's integrity, well, questionable. 

The total damage caused during this episode of fun was over $200. 

With the escalating costs incurred during each damaging event, I am tempted to provide the little guy with a rocket propelled grenade launcher and let him take a shot or two at our vehicle as a proactive next step.

Even with the potential damage, I may win the round as opposed to leaving our son to his own creative and destructive devices.

Retro Works for Scammers as Well

A retro scam targeting your personal information is becoming popular again:
..."The scam works with a phone call in which the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court and says a warrant is out for your arrest because you failed to report for jury duty," Engel said...

"You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says he'll need some information for 'verification purposes' -- your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number," he added.

"This is when you should hang up the phone," Engel added. "It's a scam. With this information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts."

As a rule, court officers do not solicit confidential information over the phone...

Is this where I knock on wood and confess that I have never been called for jury duty?

When it does happen, my policing background will result in me getting a quick boot home for any criminal trials.

My Marine Corps father is now too old for this duty, but got called multiple times to serve on juries. He told me that he was always removed from consideration after officials learned that he was military police and prison guard during his time in the service.

Either that or he went into one of his infamous "everyone is guilty of something so these cases should be decided much more quickly" speech during a coffee break at the courthouse or something, and the officials could not have gotten rid of him faster.

Have you ever been summoned for jury duty?

Time to Go Back to School?

You know it is time for the kids to go back to school when you witness the following...
OLDER SON: Dad, I'm bored.  What are you doing?

SLAMDUNK:  Well, I am about to set some ant traps up in the laundry room to battle our unwanted summer visitors.

OLDER SON: Neat.  Hey Sissy? Sissy?

His four-year-old sister, "Sissy", appears from another room.

SISSY: What?

OLDER SON: Wanna watch ants crawl into the bug traps Dad bought?

SISSY:  Sure.

OLDER SON: Ok, you get the flashlights and I'll pull two chairs over.

I wasn't sure whether to offer them popcorn or not.

FYI: Dont worry about those two, school starts this week for the older boy and next week for his sister.


Photo credit is here.

Dating 101 F

Thanks for all of the kind words while I was away. 

The older boy and I packed as many activities as was humanly possible into the trip to Dad's house in South Texas, and returned tired but content.  The ocean temperature in the Gulf of Mexico was a balmy 86 degrees--much warmer than my son was used to experiencing.

No missing person post today, but I hope to have something on a case next Monday.

Instead, I offer this...

When taking your date to a professional baseball game, it is wise to stay alert so that you can grab any baseballs that fly into the stands--especially if she is not looking. 

I mean that is unless you want to be an Internet video sensation who is ridiculed internationally for making quick movements AWAY from an incoming foul ball that strikes your girlfriend, or Sara Saco-Vertiz in the following case, in the arm.

The guy, Bo Wyble, explained his actions in that:  "The ball was coming up and I was going to catch it and it was in the lights and I lost track of it."

Major League Baseball authorities won't allow the video to be disseminated outside their site, but you can go here to view the incident.

Bo Wyble did retrieve the baseball after it impacted Saco-Vertiz's (the girlfriend) arm, but kept the souvenir for himself.

Who said chivalry is dead?

Needless to say, I was not surprised to hear that the pair is no longer involved in a dating relationship.


The photo is from FSN.

Out of the Office

I'm taking a two-week blog vacation to focus on a family issue and take a short trip to South Texas.

I still hope to visit your blogs during that time, but won't have any new posts until August 23rd.

Thanks for your patience. 

ASPS Fundraiser and a Laugh

Writer and Blogger Theresa Milstein over at the Substitute Teacher’s Saga is hosting a contest to raise funds for research to cure a rare form of soft tissue cancer called ASPS that primarily inflicts children and young adults.   

The small foundation benefiting from her work, Cure Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma International, supports ASPS research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

It is a worthy cause, and Theresa is offering a gift card to one winner. 

The rules for her effort can be found here.

I only have a short post today.

The following is not meant to advance any stereotypes or offend any blonde-haired members of my family or the general public--it is for amusement purposes only...

Have a good weekend everyone.

Who is Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

Yesterday morning, I read an article about police officer deaths.

Citing multiple studies, the article stated that one particular cause of death for police had risen from around 26% of the total fatalities in 1982 to 54% in 2007.

What is activity is putting officers at greater risk?  Shootings? Stabbings? Heart attacks?

None of the above.

The cause of death contributing to more loss of life is traffic fatalities. 

Specifically, experts believe the problem resides with police officers not wearing seatbelts:
...Up until 2000, Sheriff Magazine reports, in its May-June 2010 issue, that law enforcement traffic deaths were at about the same rate as the general population, but since then the trends have diverged, with the rate for the general population falling and the rate for officers rising markedly.

So is it that police are less trained or more reckless? Are they more likely to be involved in high-speed chases? Or does it have anything to do with the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria?

A "click it or ticket" double standard?

Likely, none of the above.
The interesting finding from the federal government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS): Officers themselves aren't buckling up. A surprising 39 percent of officers killed in car crashes since 1996 didn't have their seatbelt fastened. And younger officers might not be doing any better; those aged 20 to 39 account for 69 percent of all fatal crashes, according to Sheriff.   
According to the FARS analysis, says Sheriff, 42 percent of fatal law-enforcement officer deaths involve a single-vehicle impact with an object off the road—with the front of the vehicle in 48 percent of crashes. The majority of crashes occurred on a dry, straight, level stretches of roadway.
And 24 percent of fatal crashes involved the ejection of the occupant—indicating the seatbelt wasn't fastened...

Look, there are times when it may not be prudent for an officer to wear his/her seatbelt.

For instance, the officer is involved in a vehicle pursuit and the offenders indicate that they are going to bail from their vehicle and run or confront the pursuing officer.  Then, the precious time saved not having to mess with unhooking a belt to access a weapon and/or initiate a foot pursuit can be critical for the officer.

I did laugh at this retired officer's comment that he "refused to wear them" for safety concerns.  I think he means that he furtively chose not wear a seat belt and was fortunate that none of his supervisors noticed it--lucky as well that a drunk driver did not crash into his vehicle at 70 mph. 

In any event, many police agencies mandate by policy that officers will wear seatbelts while operating or riding in agency vehicles.

Requiring officers to use safety belts makes sense for two reasons. 

First, the public expects it.  If an officer is going to write tickets for seat belt ordinances, he/she best be seen leading by example.  Officers driving on patrol without buckling up looks bad, and does detracts from public relations.

Second, police drive fast as a part of the job.  Since research has consistently shown that seatbelts save lives; the argument for protecting police officers involved in vehicle collisions is no different than with saving any other driver: buckling yourself reduces the chance that you (the driver or passenger) will be launched at a high rate of speed from a vehicle at impact. 

The problem of officers not wearing seat belts should be an easy one for administrators to correct:

Mandate their use and then have supervisors enforce the rule.

The "refusals" by officers will be short-lived, and soon seatbelt wearing will be part of their conditioning.

The resulting effort sure beats reading recent stories like these from Houston, Las Vegas, and St. Louis.  


The photo was used from here.

Blogging Interns: And Did Iron Man Wear Underwear?

When I started this blog, I thought it would be simple. 

I'd write a daily post, and then go about my life.

Wow, was I naive.

I am not sure when I understood that writing is only a part of blogging; that research, planning, promotion, responding to comments and questions, and then reading the insightful work of other bloggers were all important aspects of the blog process.

Before long, I realized that a blogger has to make decisions.

Am I able to recognize each comment with a personal message via email or on the blog?

How many blogs can I read daily?

What if I run out of stories about stupid things that I did?  What will I write about then?

Ok, I knew that my life is a unending spring of goofy stories, so the well running dry was never a serious consideration.   


Somewhere along the way, I joked to the Mrs. that I needed an intern.

I sure could use an energetic young person to research and plan posts, alert me when content on other blogs was relevant to my interests, locate potential writing opportunities, etc.

The Mrs. reminded me of the famous Seinfeld episode involving do-nothing Kramer when he had secured the services of a student intern from New York University.

This episode is called The Voice, and here is an excerpt:

Scene: At Monk’s Cafe; Jerry, George and Intern Darren are seated--Kramer is on the way.

GEORGE: Well, Play Now is through playing. They turned the heat way up in my office. They tried to sweat me out.

JERRY: (Looking at Intern Darren) Do you have to write all this stuff down?

DARREN: Well, Mr. Kramer is in a meeting with Mr. Lohmase and he didn’t want to miss anything.

JERRY: So, how hot did it get?

GEORGE: I don’t know, 120, 130…Then they sent some guys to sandblast for 6 hours. Tomorrow they are putting in asbestos.

JERRY: I guess you can take anything, but actual work.

GEORGE: Bring it on!

(Kramer walks in)

GEORGE: (doing the voice) Hello-o-o-o Kramer!

JERRY: (doing the voice) Wel-l-l-c-o-m-e!

GEORGE: (doing the voice) La la la.

KRAMER: Sorry I couldn’t get out of there, what did I miss? (asking his "intern")

DARREN: Well, after ordering, Mr. Seinfeld and Mr. Costanza debated on whether or not Iron Man wore some sort under garment between his skin and his iron suit…

KRAMER: Uh huh…

GEORGE: (Interrupts) And I still say he’s naked under there!

JERRY: Oh that makes a lot of sense.

GEORGE: Oh, shut up!

DARREN: …Then Mr. Seinfeld went to the restroom, at which point Mr. Costanza scooped ice out of Mr. Seinfeld’s drink with his bare hands using it to wash up (Jerry is taking a sip of water and looking mad) then Mr. Costanza remarked to me, "This never happened." (Jerry then spits out the water).

(George is looking angry)

I promise that I will not subject a blogging intern to discussions about whether Iron Man wore underwear or not...

Kidnapping Hoax: But You Should Have Known That

You are shopping at the local K-Mart, when you see a struggle occur in the parking lot. 

Three young men, bind another man's hands, toss him into the trunk of a vehicle, and then flee the scene in the car. 

So, you do the right thing and call 911 to report a possible abduction. 

This could be the only information that authorities have in relation to a missing persons case.

Smart decision?   Reasonable decision?   Right?

Not according to nineteen-year old prankster Aaron Coutumas:
WHITEHALL, Pa., July 28 -- A Pennsylvania teenager says it should have been obvious (emphasis added)  to anyone that the YouTube stunt he and three pals filmed in a store parking lot was no kidnapping.

The four were pulled over by police in Whitehall during the weekend after a shopper called 911 to report a person being tied up and thrown into a car trunk in the parking lot of the local Kmart.

It turned out the alleged kidnappers and the kid in the trunk wrapped in plastic wrap were all on the same team and had been working out a stunt to be posted online.

"We were laughing the whole time," Aaron Coutumas, 19, of North Whitehall Township told The (Allentown) Morning Call. "I couldn't keep a straight face. I thought it was obvious we were goofing around."
Obvious huh.

Just because you and your friends were laughing during the incident, the public was supposed to understand that the kidnapping was not real? 

I hope Mr. Coutumas is told one important aspect about violent criminals: their behaviors can be unpredictable.

These folks may smile, laugh, sing, or exhibit other odd behaviors while committing crimes.

So, trying to blame the woman who called 911 for your troubles not only makes you look like more of an ignoramus to the world than you already do, but is not the best comment for a judge to read--you know, the one who will be presiding over the disorderly conduct charge that resulted from this incident.

This callous attitude offers evidence that you are not repentant for your reckless behavior that put a number of people's lives at risk.

The above article concludes with this:
...The Morning Call said Wednesday Coutumas and friends were the only ones laughing. The witness and police took the matter seriously, as did the boys' parents, who had to show up at the scene and claim their Internet auteurs.

"They weren't happy," Coutumas said. "No parent would be happy seeing their kids on the curb with seven cop cars around them."
Not only would no parent be happy after seeing their kid on the curb with police around them, but think about what mom and dad might have seen had they showed up earlier for the felony takedown of Coutmas and crew: I am sure it included multiple shotguns and handguns being pointed from close range at the jesters, our defendants eating pavement and being handcuffed, as well as a detailed search incident to the arrest.

No, all of that messiness would have made the parents much more "unhappy."