Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Bodhisattvas of San Diego

The sentient beings of La Jolla have awakened. They have jumped from their surf boards and stepped off their yoga mats, to tread the path of preparation. They seek to right a great wrong.
Stench entrenched: deodorizing Cove will require time, money and bureaucratic buy-in
Yes—through a great act of dharma, they will deodorize La Jolla Cove. To achieve this stainless state, they must pass through the many stages of bhūmi, known from the Steelydana Sūtra by their Sanskrit names
City Park and Recreation Staff
Recreation District Manger
Deputy Director of Developed Regional Parks
San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
California Department of Fish and Game
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
And what is the source of this stench? What misery do the Bodhisattvas of San Diego seek to transcend?
the foul odor caused by pelican, cormorant and sea lion waste at La Jolla Cove

Why? Why do the Enlightened Ones hate nature so?

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Church of Ecology Asks: Are You Without Sin?

Answer truthfully:

Did you thoroughly rinse that empty bottle of Louisiana hot sauce before you tossed it into the recycling bin?

Did you drain every drop of Lightly Sweetened Cherry Pomegranate Tea before putting that Snapple® bottle into the blue bucket?

Are you totally, absolutely, 100% sure?

Because if not, you may be responsible for an eco-catastrophe in Attica, New York, a little burg about 30 miles east of Buffalo. That’s where Hillcrest Industries collects recycled glass and grinds it up. The colored stuff is sold as a sandblasting agent, and the clear stuff becomes beads in the reflective paint used for road markings. Hillcrest started taking recycled glass about two-and-a-half years ago. They now have a pile of it estimated at 60,000 tons.

That’s right: 60,000 tons.

And all it takes it a few lazy bastards like you leaving some foam at the bottom of a PBR and BOOM! the Hillcrest pile becomes an enormous bio-reactor wafting a putrid stench over the hapless souls of Attica.

Matt Surtel of The (Batavia) Daily News has been all over the story:
“Once the warm weather came and we were able to open our windows, then we’re really affected by it,” said Julie Huber, who lives on Georges Drive with her husband Jeff and their family. “There are days we can’t open our windows because it smells like rotting garbage.”

“It’s terrible,”
[Attica Trustee John] Perry said. “Some days, depending on how hard and where the wind’s blowing, it’s horrendous. I’ve got calls from some people who say it’s making their kids physically sick and nauseous.”
Hillcrest Industries is baffled by this totally unexpected malodor problem. Really, who could have predicted that the dregs in 60,000 tons of glass bottles would, you know, smell bad? The company has hired an environmental consultant; they’ve tried a deodorizing chemical, a venting system, a blower system, and another odor-counteractant product. As Surtel reports, “it’s a trial-and-error process.”

Attica residents have held town meetings to complain, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued the company a violation notice. Meanwhile, Hillcrest has announced it will bring in no more recycled glass, and will grind up the pile it currently has on hand, a process that it expects will take 18 months, and which residents say is too long.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

Other than being movie stars, what do Tilda Swinton and Mark Wahlberg have in common?

What’s that you say? Fragrance promotion? Well, you’re WRONG!

Swinton did lend her name and image to Like This, by Etat Libre d’Orange. And back in the day Marky Mark appeared in Calvin Klein commercials for . . . underwear, not cK ONE. (Sorry, Sanja Pekic.)

Care to guess again? Who said “third nipple”? Yes, we have a WINNER!

[Google the pix yourself, this is a family blog—Ed.]

We’re obsessing on supernumerary body parts because we just found a bizarre new paper by Robert Henkin at Washington, DC’s Taste and Smell Clinic, and some folks at GWU Med School. They took orbitofrontal brain MRIs from 220 consecutive patients in order to measure the size of the olfactory bulbs. Remarkably, they found that 11 patients had duplicated OBs, and one even had them in triplicate.


Does doubling your bulbs double your smell? Apparently not. One patient with an extra set was a congenital hyposmic. And bulb diameter was smaller in people with extra sets.

Still, we imagine being double-bulbed would make a great conversation starter. Or an interesting character for the new Bond film, The Man with the Golden Nose.
“The problem is, 007, we have no picture of her.”

“A pity.”

“All we know for sure is that she has a certain remarkable physical endowment.”

Bond leaned forward. “And that would be . . .”

“Her olfactory bulbs. She has two sets of them.”

Bond looked blankly at Q, then reached for his trilby. “That’s very helpful, sir.”

“I thought so, too. You’re booked on the 6:00 p.m. flight to Zürich. Miss Moneypenny has your ticket.”

The old man was already relighting his pipe as Bond closed the second door.

“What are you staring at, James?” said Moneypenny from behind the typewriter.

“Have I ever mentioned that you have the most well-developed olfactory lobes?”

“I’m sure you say that to all the girls, James. Here’s your ticket. Now be on your way.”

The study discussed here is “Morphological changes of olfactory bulbs and grooves: initial report of supernumerary olfactory bulbs,” by Lucian M. Levy, Andrew J. Degnan, Salil Sharma, Linda Kelahan, Robert I. Henkin, published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography, 36:406-409, 2012.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is Lady Gaga 2.56 Times More Popular Than Justin Bieber?

That’s what industry buzz about Fame implies.
While Gaga and executives declined to comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that the scent would achieve net sales globally of $100 million in its first year on counter, with at least 30 percent expected to come from U.S. sales.
The Bieb’s women’s fragrance did $39 million last year at retail. Thus the title question.

Since we’re doing the math, consider these tidbits:
While executives declined to comment on advertising and promotional spending, industry sources estimated the warchest at about $30 million globally in the scent’s first year.
While Coty declined comment on Gaga’s compensation, industry sources estimated that Gaga has been guaranteed a minimum of $15 million in royalties in a three- to five-year deal.
Now, using only your pencil, calculate Coty’s net sales if Fame sells $100 million, as predicted.

Next, calculate Coty’s net sales if Fame sells only a Bieberesque $39 million. Check your work. Is it possible to have negative net? You betcha.

Julie Naughton at WWD has the new Lady Gaga Fame promo photo (above). The comment section is not kind.

Our favorite quote-o-matic CEO, Bernd Beetz, issues this magnificent non sequitur:
“Absolutely everything about this launch is innovative, from the bottle, to the juice, to the lady herself . . . She’s zeitgeist in a bottle.”
Wha? Juice is to innovative as zeitgeist is to bottle? No, wait. Juice is to bottle as zeitgeist is to innovative? Can we get more time to work on this one?

Steve Mormoris, Coty Beauty’s SVP Global Marketing, waxes so lyrical about the Gaga scent that he becomes almost incoherent:
The juice’s structure is also unusual, Mormoris said. “It’s unique because it’s not pyramidal with a top, middle and bottom note,” he said. “It has a trampoline structure — notes are rising at different rates that are quite random. Some accords will come out if you rub it, other accords will come out later. It has random propulsion and doesn’t have a classic linear drydown. We call it push-pull, and it will smell different on different people. There is a different volatility for different notes, and they’re of differing strengths. They work together harmoniously, but then they undergo metamorphosis on the skin, so you’re constantly surprised.”
So . . . the notes of Fame emerge at random, yet they work together harmoniously. The structure of Fame is not pyramidal or linear . . . it’s up-down like a trampoline, but also push-pull.

It’s sort of like zeitgeist in a bottle.

Monday, July 16, 2012

500,000 Tons of Sewage Sludge a Year . . .

[Kings Co., Calif.]

. . . coming to a 14,500-acre mega-composting site in Kings County, California.

What could possibly go wrong?

UPDATE JUNE 17, 2012

This also sounds like a lot of crap:
“This is a top-notch, Cadillac system,” said Ajay Malik, supervising engineer with the L.A. [Sanitation] districts. “We have addressed the concerns about this project.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

ISDP July, 2012: Non-nosey Neighbors Edition

I Smell Dead People came to life, so to speak, on a Friday the 13th. We have posted our obsessively curated collection of dismal decay on the same date ever since. The fact that today is another F. the thirt. brings an Uncle Fester-like smile to our fat face. And this being an unusually hot summer, the July edition is brimming with morbid stories, each of which begins with a sniff of “foul odor” and ends with a call to the coroner’s office.

Our strict editorial standards at ISDP require that the deceased person in question be discovered initially by smell. Thus if little Bobby Doe hasn’t heard from his Aunt Agatha in a week and asks the local police to check in on her, the game is up—even if the investigating officer detects the strong odor of decay upon approaching Aunt Agatha’s front door. So this story from The Manhatan (Kansas) Mercury is a close call. According to the headline—“Police, fire department called in for smell”—we are talking ISDP. And the lede looks good too:
Riley County officers and the Manhattan Fire Department, including a Hazmat crew, responded to 1025 Humboldt St. Wednesday for a neighbor’s report of a bad smell, which apparently resulted from an earlier unattended death at the address.
But it’s followed by this:
Lt. Josh Kyle said officers found the body of Catherine Post, 64, in her Humboldt Street residence on June 5, after police were notified by post office workers that Post had not been picking up her mail, a former daily habit.
Kudos to the civic-minded folks at the post office, but their call robs the MFD Hazmat crew of an ISDP nod.

Last month’s report about the body found in a black Cadillac Escalade in West Hollywood grows more strange and more Hollywood. The victim has been identified as Steven John Simmons, age 33. Now Los Angeles police detectives are searching for his brother.
It was unclear why Simmons was in West Hollywood, but he may have been visiting his stepbrother, Jacob Anthonisen, who lives in West Hollywood and ran the posh nightclub and art gallery “The Peanut Gallery,” which attracted celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan last month, according to Anthonisen’s Twitter feed.
Today’s edition delivers three Norman Bates Award™ Nominees. First up are a pair of sisters who live in Pittsburgh: “Two adult sisters found living with mother’s decomposing body after neighbours complain of foul smell.” According to the UK’s Daily Mail, both daughters are mentally disabled in some way. One of them made a fuss and had to be taken from the residence in restraints. More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“The stench ... was overwhelming,” [McKees Rocks police Chief Robert] Cifrulak said. 
Her daughter, who authorities say is developmentally disabled, told officers that her mother was OK and that the two watched a movie on Tuesday. The late woman had another daughter, also developmentally disabled, who lived in the home. Both “talked as if their mother was still alive,” Cifrulak said. 
[A neighbor] said he had noticed the smell for the last two weeks or so but thought it was trash. According to the medical examiner, the mother had been dead for “at least four days, but likely much longer.”
Say Aunt Agatha, what’s that smell? And where is Uncle Fred? Our anonymous second Norman Bates Award™ Nominee comes from L.A., specifically from the unincorporated town of Rowland Heights which is off the Pomona Freeway a few miles east of the 605.
Coroner’s officials haven’t identified yet the elderly man whose body was found in his Rowland Heights home where it has been for about eight months. Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations and investigations for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, said the autopsy could be completed as early as Wednesday, but that the body was “severely decomposed,” making an identification more difficult. [...] A family friend or relative visited and smelled a foul odor, according to Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. Hernandez said the man’s wife told the visitor he died and was in the bathroom. Authorities found the body in the downstairs bathroom, the lieutenant added. He said the couple lived by themselves in the 2-story house and that the man’s body had been there for eight months. “No neighbors called to report a foul odor,” Hernandez said.
Eight months! The widow could be a contender.

Cathy Locke of the Sacramento Bee reports this particularly depressing case:
The Placer County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of an infant whose body was found Thursday afternoon along a street in an undeveloped subdivision in Newcastle. A woman was walking on Green Hills Court about 4:55 p.m. when she reported to a deputy who happened to be in the area that she had seen a trash bag off the side of the road and that it had a foul odor. The deputy checked the bag and found the body, which was described as that of an infant, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.
My Old Kentucky Home, Part Deux

From Karla Ward at the Lexington Herald-Leader: “Simpsonville couple found dead in apartment had not been seen for weeks.”
The bodies of a Simpsonville couple were found in their apartment on Friday, and authorities believe they had been dead for at least a month. A tenant of the fourplex where David and Donna McGee lived on Maplewood Drive had complained to the landlord about a foul odor, said Jeff Ivers, Shelby County chief deputy coroner. The landlord entered the apartment and found the body of David McGee, 53, in the living room, then went outside and called police at about 3:40 p.m. The body of Donna McGee, 52, was found in the bathroom. The husband and wife both had medical problems, and foul play is not suspected
From Texas: “Deceased homeless man found in Central Laredo neighborhood.”
Police say construction workers at a nearby project called officers when they noticed a foul odor around 11 Thursday morning near Urbahn and Guadalupe. They told police a homeless man who frequently asked for money or food had not been seen in a few days and feared he had died.
This story from New York got a lot of play:
A 7-year-old boy and two adults who had been shot to death were discovered by officers on Tuesday inside a Brooklyn apartment in what detectives are investigating as possibly a murder-suicide, a police spokesman said. 
The officers answered a call around midnight of a “foul odor” emanating from a second-floor apartment at 749 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. 
After gaining entry two hours later, they found the bodies of a woman, a man and the boy. The three victims were each shot once in the head, the police said, adding that a firearm was found at the scene.
The victims were a 51-year-old woman, her grandson, and her 44-year-old ex-con boyfriend. Strangely, the timing of the 911 call about “foul odor” varies from one account to the next. This from FOX:
Police said they received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday of a foul odor coming from Apartment 2A.
And this from the WSJ:
Neighbors smelled a foul odor emanating from apartment 2A at 749 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant around 11:50 p.m. Monday and called 911, police said.
Back to Southern California for an item by John Asbury at the Press-Enterprise:
Riverside County homicide detectives are investigating the cause of human remains found in a canal Sunday afternoon, July 1. Residents reported a foul odor from the canal at 1:40 p.m. in the 3300 block of La Rue Street in Jurupa Valley, sheriff’s officials said.
And then back East for a case in Connecticut:
Watertown police are currently investigating a double homicide in the Oakville section of the town. According to police, neighbors of the home on 347 Falls Avenue noticed a foul odor coming from the home earlier in the day. After neighbors began investigating the smell on their own, they called the police. Police went into the home and found a man and a woman’s body with blood on the ground.
The victims were a 58-year-old woman and her 26-year-old son. According to the medical examiner, both died of multiple stab wounds. The Falls Avenue house was already a bit notorious:
Neighbors also told News 8 that it was “like a Jerry Springer show” at that house, with yelling, fights and the police being called. However, the house has been unusually quiet since last weekend.
Meanwhile, arrest warrants have been obtained:
Police said they are now looking to speak with Claude A. Turner, 36, and Elizabeth Swiderski, 26, both of Watertown, who police said had possession of the [victims’s] car before the two people they spoke with on Sunday night [who were found sitting in the car].
The investigation continues to focus on Turern and Swiderski.

There is no dignity in an ISDP death:
Half-Naked Woman’s Body Found A body was found around 7 p.m. Sunday after a woman smelled a foul odor coming from outside her window. Authorities report that the body of a female was found in the 600 block of Carrol on the south side of San Antonio. The victim was discovered without clothes on half her body. Investigators believe that she was either dragged or dumped in the area.
Sounds like IDing the victim won’t be difficult.
The woman had a tattoo on her chest, another on her lower back, and one on her left wrist, police said. She also had two piercings on each side of her face.
And indeed, it wasn’t:
The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office has now confirmed what a grieving family has known all along—a woman’s body found on the Southwest Side is that of 27-year-old Jennifer Gonzales. ( . . . ) Relatives identified Gonzales through tattoos.
Long-time readers know that neighbors sometimes (not unreasonably) rationalize the telltale foul odor as garbage, kitty litter, or backed up plumbing . . . anything other than what it really is. In this case, from KPTV Fox-12 in Portland, Oregon, the bad smell of neglected cats delayed the discovery of a murder victim.
A woman found dead in an apartment on Southeast Belmont Street was the victim of a homicide, police have learned. ( . . . ) Police were called to Southeast 14th and Belmont at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Officers don’t know how long the body had been there. Neighbors said they noticed a foul odor coming from the complex over the last week, but they just assumed it was because of someone’s pet. 
“My boyfriend was on the second floor a few nights ago and said something smelled really bad,” said tenant Jennifer Gill. “He talked to a detective today who said it was definitely the body that he was smelling.” 
FOX12 obtained an e-mail sent to tenants Wednesday afternoon, from Star Metro Properties Inc. 
It says the company received a complaint about a foul smell coming from the apartment on Saturday, but a worker didn’t check it out until working hours Monday. 
According to the e-mail that worker entered the apartment, and didn’t find the victim. Instead, finding cats without food, and feces and urine throughout the apartment. 
Monday night another call was made to the management company, but it wasn’t until Tuesday, a worker re-entered the unit, finding the body and called police. 
“That’s a horrible thing, and someone needs to be held responsible for the murder, but also for the fact she was left there so long,” said resident Mattie Sleeth. “It’s not right, and the family shouldn’t have to think about that. 
Portland police said the woman is in her 30s, and they’re still working with the medical examiner to determine her identity. 
As we say here at ISDP, if it smells like someone died you’re probably right. Always trust your nose!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life Imitates Art

From South Park:
“San Francisco I’m afraid, has disappeared completely up its own asshole.”
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The B in BART doesn't stand for “bathroom,” but it smells like it could at the 16th Street Mission Station.

Commuters wrinkle their noses as they walk across either of the two street-level plazas at 16th and Mission streets, where loiterers have few qualms about using the plazas as an open-air restroom, neighbors and officials say.

BART retrofitted and redesigned the plazas in 2003 and 2006 to make them more aesthetically pleasing. The hope was the community would take ownership of the plazas and crime would drop. But, after a brief honeymoon period of cleanliness, the old crowd and habits came back, BART board member Tom Radulovich said.

Sustak called the plaza improvements “a waste of money.”

“They just spent $4 million to make a fancier urinal,” he said.
Sheesh. They just can’t get this right.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hey, Who’s Up for Sniffing Some Elemental Flourine?

This guy, apparently.

Via Katharine Sanderson at
Fluorine gas is so reactive that any naturally-occurring whiffs cannot exist for more than a few fleeting seconds. At least, that has been the conventional wisdom for more than a century.

Now, chemists have proved that a smelly rock is the only known place on Earth where fluorine exists in its elemental form, F2.

The rock is antozonite, a calcium fluoride (fluorite) mineral that is dark violet or even black in colour, also known as fetid fluorite or stinkspar. Needless to say, this rock stinks. The pungent smell is given off when antozonite is crushed, and chemists and mineralogists have argued over the origin of the stench since the early nineteenth century.

[Dr. Florian Kraus’s] first task was to smell the crushed rock — and he immediately recognized the stench: “A fluorine chemist knows at once how fluorine smells,” he says.
OK, but that’s not so helpful to the rest of us.

From the opening lines of the paper:
Elemental fluorine, F2, is the most reactive chemical element. Great experimental skill and special equipment are necessary to handle it safely.
So Kraus does what any rational scientist would do . . . he inhales some!
We compared the smell of crushed “antozonite” directly with authentic F2 gas and unambiguously confirmed that the odor of the mineral corresponds to F2. The smell of F2 is decisively different from that of O3, Cl2, HOF, HF, OF2, and XeF2, which were also smelled in direct comparison. [Dude!—Ed.]
We look forward to muddling some antozonite into our next mojito. So what if there is a little uranium or thorium in it? That’s what gives you the five-hour energy!

The article discussed here is "Occurrence of difluorine F2 in nature—in situ proof and quantification by NMR spectroscopy,” by Jörn Schmedt auf der Günne, Martin Mangstl, and Florian Kraus, which appeared in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, July 4, 2012.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebrity Mélange: Bon Kristen Jovi Stewart Jennifer Taylor Lopez Swift

Bon Jovi . . . Avon . . . yadda yadda.

Kristen Stewart . . . Balenciaga . . . yadda.

Taylor Swift . . . yadda yadda.

Jennifer Lopez . . . yadda x 18

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bloggers Come and Go, Talking of Jean-Claude Elleno

A week ago, Pat Borow of Olfactarama published a valedictory post in anticipation of her blog’s upcoming fourth anniversary. She cites waning enthusiasm on a personal level, rather than changes in perfumery or the blogosphere, as the reason for her decision. She’s not interested in “keeping on just for the sake of keeping on.”

I respect her decision. On the other hand, I will miss her thoughtful and well-composed commentary and reflections. Pat intends to write occasionally on the aesthetics of smell, taste, books, art, and life. I’ll keep checking in.

Started: July 20, 2008
Ended: June 21, 2012
Posts: 264
Blog run: 3 years, 11 months
Flux density: 5.6 posts per month

The winding down of Olfactarama got me thinking about other smelly sites that have left the scene. I thought I’d take a look back at their trajectories.

Rita Long’s blog TheLeftCoastNose featured her quirky but useful zero to five star rating system for perfumes. She turned off the spigot for good in May, 2010, after less than a year of blogging. The reason? She literally moved on—from San Francisco to Buenos Aires.

Started: Sept 27, 2009
Ended: May 8, 2010
Posts: 81
Blog run: 8 months
Flux density: 10.1 posts per month

Ray Matts, an acquaintance of mine from the fragrance industry, started his eponymous blog in 2010 and posted there for a year. He’s on Twitter now and pursuing other fragrance projects.

Started: Sept 25, 2010
Ended: August 30, 2011
Posts: 11
Blog run: 1 year
Flux density: 0.9 posts per month

Aimée L'Ondée is the nom de web of the lady from Austin, Texas, who wrote at MossyLoomings. She closed the doors on June 26, 2011, leaving this note:
I might as well admit it: as my reluctant and sporadic posting suggests, I have lost the will to blog, folks. I still love perfume, and love reading all my fellow perfumistas' clever and fascinating perspectives on perfume. I love reading about new discoveries and vintage treasures, but I think I may have reached a saturation point in my own life with perfume, and writing about it in this format isn't the joy it used to be.
Started: February 6, 2008
Ended: June 26, 2011
Posts: 90
Blog run: 3 years, 4 months
Flux density: 2.3 posts per month

Life is short, blogging is hard. Hats off to all who set up their tent at the carnival. We’ll miss you, even as the big show rolls on.