Saturday, December 19, 2015

Attention Holiday Shoppers!

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Click the “Give as Gift” button on Amazon to send a copy to someone else’s Kindle.

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Remember, the low pricing ends on New Year’s.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Enclosed Spaces: ISDP December 2015

Given our tendency to revel in the lugubrious, we got quite excited a couple of days ago when we spotted this headline in Newsweek: “Using the Human Microbiome to Predict Time of Death.” Could it be that science had finally made the link between increasingly toxic farts and imminent demise? Is it possible to gas oneself to death?

Alas, it turns out that author Sena Christian doesn’t have a firm grasp on the English language. The title should have been “Using the Human Microbiome to Retrodict Time of Death,” as the story is about researchers attempting to refine time of death estimates by analyzing the microbes present on and in a corpse. Despite our disappointment, the new study reported by Newsweek (“Microbial community assembly and metabolic function during mammalian corpse decomposition”) has lots to recommend it to ISDP fans.

This month’s curated assemblage of the olfactory macabre includes two new nominees for the 2015 Norman Bates Award™ but, as we shall reveal, there were nearly three!

Tammy Conner

Tammy Conner of Jacksonville, Florida, earned her NBA nomination by allegedly killing her married boyfriend back in June. Conner is reported to have shot the man and left his body in the enclosed porch of her house. She sealed the house windows with plastic sheets and placed some air fresheners and cleaning products near the body. According to a video report aired by CBS Channel 47 ActionNewJax, cell phone records place Conner was at the house for some days after the crime was committed. That’s good enough for the Nominations Committee to put her on this year’s list!

Next up is 45-year-old Leon Edward Collier of Little River, South Carolina.
Horry County police officers responded to a third-person call of a suicidal man at 4250 Pinehurst Circle around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The caller reported that the man at the residence was threatening to harm himself and making comments that he “may have hurt his girlfriend,” according to a police report.
After forcibly gaining entry to the house, police officers smelled a foul odor. This led them to a closet where they found the decomposing body of Mr. Collier’s girlfriend hidden under various items. We give the Horry County police officers credit for following their noses, and we give Mr. Collier a nomination for the 2015 Norman Bates Award.

We thought we were in Norman Bates Award territory for a third time when we found this headline: “Suburban Man Hid Roommate’s Body in Suitcase.” But when his girlfriend/roommate died of a drug overdose, the suburbanite in question, 23-year-old Alexander Acevedo of Midlothian, Illinois, hid the suitcase containing her body in the storage area of his apartment building. ISDP fans will already have predicted the consequences [Valid use of “predict”!—Ed.]:
Assistant States Attorney Jordan Matthis said a resident of the building in the 14500 block of Keystone Avenue flagged down a police officer Thursday after she smelled a foul odor coming from the building’s storage area.
By moving the suitcase out of the apartment, Mr. Acevedo got himself charged with “concealment of a death” and also took himself out of the running for the Norman Bates Award. (Why? Because competition rules require the nominee to have lived in close proximity with a dead body.) Photos and crime scene details are available from the indispensable Daily Mail.

Always Trust Your Nose™

There’s a romance to being on the road, and nothing testifies to the great American tradition of vehicular self-sufficiency better than the RV. And nothing speaks better to trusting and caring for the needs of the motoring public than Walmart’s policy of allowing RVs to overnight in its parking lots. An inevitable result is that Walmart, through no fault of its own, features in the occasional ISDP incident. A new example from Florida:
An elderly man was found dead Monday inside a camper in a parking lot near the Hallandale Beach Walmart after someone on a lunch break reported a foul odor to police, according to Hallandale Beach police spokeswoman Sonia Quinones.
Quinones said the man had gotten lunch and went back to his car to eat when he smelled something from two parking spots away.
Always Trust Your Nose™, Part Deux

Warehouse staff at a heating company in England discover that two crates supposed to contain boilers are crawling with maggots and emitting a foul smell. They find a decomposing body inside each crate. What prompted the discovery?
“People had been complaining about a foul smell for about a week but it got worse so some staff went to investigate.
About a week? How bad does it usually smell at Ferroli Ltd.?

None are so blind as those who fail to smell . . .
Paramedics were called about 2 p.m. after a gardener noticed an unresponsive man in the back seat of a black Cadillac SRX, which was parked along the curb of Ferris Road, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Jauch.
The unresponsive man in question, who had been reported missing, was dead, evidently as the result of a gunshot wound. Accounts do not mention that the gardener noticed a smell, therefore this cannot qualify as an ISDP incident. However, the body had been there for at least two days. The previous day it had been ticketed by a parking officer for the El Monte Police Department, who evidently didn’t notice an odor (or the body for that matter). And then there is this:
A neighbor was quoted in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune as saying she walks a route that passes that intersection daily and noticed the Cadillac on Dec. 2 [two days previous] about noon. The resident said she recalled a foul odor when she passed by the car but wasn’t sure if it came from the vehicle or the storm drain next to it.
Storm drain, dead body, whatever.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Big Savings on What the Nose Knows

Looking for a digital stocking stuffer? Now is the time to grab the Kindle edition of my book What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life for the unprecedented low price of $2.99. Perfect for your science-obsessed cousin or the in-law who just discovered the joy of fragrance.

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