December 29, 2010

"The worst thing I ever smelled was a 40-yard dumpster full of shrimp shells fermenting outside of a cannery in Kodiak."

"I came very close to losing my lunch. You could actually see a heavier-than-air fog of ammonia rolling out of the top of the bin, but I wasn't allowed to puke. I worked for the company that picked up all the cannery offal and recycled it into useful products. I actually deserve some kind of eco-medal."

Said Tyrone Slothrop at 8:33 PM in the comments on my post mocking the notion that it's romantic to roast lobster on a stick in your fireplace. That made me 1. wonder what's the worst thing I've ever smelled and 2. realize I'd never smelled anything truly awful. I remember one time, back in the 70s in NYC, we bought some expensive cheese at Dean & DeLuca, and it smelled exactly like shit. We thought we were sophisticated. At first. When we ate it. Then we thought we were stupid. And we stopped eating it. But if you want to compare notes with Tyrone Slothrop, you've obviously got to come up with something that smells worse than shit.

***

Don't criticize me for writing a blog post on this subject. Do you realize that I'm not allowed to work today? I'm literally forbidden by the state. There was something I wanted to do too!

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene says: "I think furlough day is tomorrow??" Oh, that's true! It's Wednesday. I keep thinking it's Thursday. Okay, then. I'm all about transforming the syllabus!

89 comments:

donttread2010 said...

Bourbon Street/New Orleans about 6am Saturday has a certain 'wang' smell...

Irene said...

(I think furlough day is tomorrow??)

tooclass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

and 2. realize I'd never smelled anything truly awful.

Putrescine, butyric acid, most thiols...but the "ick factor" no longer etc, arries any weight here.

El Presidente said...

Cadaverine or the Mummer's Parade in South Philadelphia.

garage mahal said...

A dead anemone ranks, or reeks, right up there. 2nd worst had to have been a bucket of minnows I forgot about in the garage from the last day of ice fishing the year before. Wow.

Quayle said...

Korean bundeggi (silk worm larva) smells horrible and tastes even worse.

chickelit said...

wv = "readnex" I just had to share that because the possibilities seemed endless.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Summer. Upstairs one room apt. Dead for one week. Well fed dog in the room with no way to go out.

You get the picture.

Not as bad as the stench that comes out of Washington though.

Fritz said...

A friend lost a croaker on my boat one Saturday in July. I didn't find it until Wednesday. That was pretty bad.

TosaGuy said...

The WI state furlough is stupid and a rip-off to the taxpayer.

Sure, the employee loses a bit of pay, but that employee works less. Also, smart management for gov't offices would have staggered the furlough days and kept offices open for the public who pays the bills. Instead, the public is inconvenienced while state employees get three-day weekends.

Also, the base wage remains unchanged going into the next bargaining year -- resulting in only a bienium's worth of savings instead of future savings by resetting the wage growth curve.

The world of the Wisconsin state employee is going to change significantly beginning January 3. Those of us who pay those salaries and benefits from our declining wages won't feel any glee that those employees are getting a bit of hurt, but we won't feel remorse for you either.

And finally, with no offense to our gracious hostess because I am sure she ignores such stupid rules, salaried professionals work to task and not to a timeclock.

Irene said...

(Good thing, because I've been working all day!)

wv: exink, the scent of a leaving skunk.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sure, the employee loses a bit of pay, but that employee works less."

Not really. You just catch up on some other day. Your work load doesn't change.

Ann Althouse said...

"And finally, with no offense to our gracious hostess because I am sure she ignores such stupid rules, salaried professionals work to task and not to a timeclock."

The thing is, we're required to fill out a form and sign it, saying we have not worked. I'm not going to perjure myself!

EDH said...

A similar dumpster of fish and lobster rendings was once left by a neighboring fish market outside the window of Bryan Ferry's (of Roxy Music fame) dressing room trailer one hot summer day.

A major league flip-out ensued, but he had a point. You can't have the lead singer gagging, especially one who tries to project an air of sophistication like Ferry.

"Slave to Love - Gack!"

wv - "rasty" = as in really nasty

Ann Althouse said...

But I will, one way or another, do all my work. I don't really have any less work. Just less pay. I understand the reason for doing it with a furlough. It protects benefits. It's different from a pay cut, even though it takes a while to figure out why.

Ann Althouse said...

But I will, one way or another, do all my work. I don't really have any less work. Just less pay. I understand the reason for doing it with a furlough. It protects benefits. It's different from a pay cut, even though it takes a while to figure out why.

Palladian said...

Rotting octopus.

Creed's "Love In White" perfume.

Justin said...

Bottom of a busy sanitary sewer manhole in the middle of summer, 13 feet down from the fresh air.

Ann Althouse said...

"Slave to Love"... ha ha... I like that song. It takes me back to a very angst-y time of life. If you go to the link, it begins with a commercial that's actually kind of cool... for Reese's peanut butter cups. Which will not enslave you. Probably.

Big Mike said...

Glad to see you commenting Irene. Wasn't it you who had been taking Avistan? Did your doctor find something else you could take?

TosaGuy said...

University profs are their own animal in the state employee system. My experience in the course of my job with most state bureaucrats is that they have simply slowed down the amount of work they do....even though their work is time sensitive. There are notable exceptions, I have known some to work on a saturday/sunday because stuff had to get done. I know this because I was working those same weekends talking to them on the phone.

Irene said...

Hi Big Mike, thanks. I pop in now and then.

Yes, I was on Avastin as part of a clinical trial. That ended, so no, I am not back on it.

EDH said...

I remember one time, back in the 70s in NYC, we bought some expensive cheese at Dean & DeLuca, and it smelled exactly like shit. We thought we were sophisticated. At first. When we ate it. Then we thought we were stupid. And we stopped eating it.

Wasn't that a Cheech & Chong routine?

#1: Unh, what's that?
#2: Unh, dunno. Look like dog shit.
#1: Enh? Feel.
#2: Unh, feel like dog shit.
#1: Smell.
#2: HUH?
#1: SMELL!
#2: Unh, smell like dog shit.
#1: Taste.
#2: Taste???
#1: Taste!

(tasting sounds)

#2: Unh, taste like dog shit.
#1: Must be dog shit. Good thing we no step in it.

Foobarista said...

In the world of icky sea-critter smells, some nasties I've smelled:

1. A bunch of sea-lions on the beach. Very photogenic, at least until we develop smell-o-vision.

2. A dead whale. Eeeuw.

3. Jellyfish rotting on a beach after a storm.

4. Dried shrimp heated in the microwave and driving everyone out of the office.

KLDAVIS said...

Durian, probably...but it's been quite a while. More recently, andouillette...looks like Han Solo slicing into a tonton, smells like a baby got into a block of Roquefort and tastes only slightly better.

Calypso Facto said...

We have a generalized state employee furlough for the same reason we have a burgeoning Federal debt: politicians and bureaucrats unwilling to make specific cost-cutting choices. It's a lot clearer in the private sector where lean times mean "cut specific costs or find a new job in short order".

Furloughs haven't really affected the schedules of any of the UW professors I know, other than re-arranged office hours.

EDH said...

Oh, that's true! It's Wednesday. I keep thinking it's Thursday.

Me too. I put the trash out a day early today.

edutcher said...

Try a bag with old doggie pads.

Ann Althouse said...

Don't criticize me for writing a blog post on this subject. Do you realize that I'm not allowed to work today? I'm literally forbidden by the state. There was something I wanted to do too!

Oh, come on, Ann, be a rebel. Show your inveterate Americanness. Did Betsy Ross say, "His Majesty really will really be angry with me for working on this flag"? Did Dolly Madison say, "I should just save my own beautifully-rounded ass and forget about the Constitution"? Did Meade say, "I really shouldn't flirt over the Internet with that lovely law professor"?

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl... (sorry, got a little carried away)

Big Mike said...

Glad to see you commenting Irene. Wasn't it you who had been taking Avistan? Did your doctor find something else you could take?

Ditto. Always good to see you here. Hope you're feeling well.

Fred4Pres said...

Is furrlough day like being an Orthodox Jew, in that you have to have a non state employee turn on and off lights and stuff like that?

wind.rider said...

Shells collected during a diving outing, par boiled then left for ants/bugs to 'clean' out as they are prepped for sale to shell collectors.

Worst. Smell. Ever. Worse than coming up on a plane crash site in Southern Alabama during the summer three days after the craft hit and was shredded (including the four passengers) going through a thick stand of trees during a rainstorm that made everything nice and damp. Picking the parts out of the trees was not fun.

Fred4Pres said...

furlough day = Sabbath

Fred4Pres said...

wind.rider, that would be a terrible smell-visual memory.

MadisonMan said...

Squid waste on a hot roadway.

Don't drive over it, if you can avoid it.

Re: Furloughs. They lose money when they furlough me. My pay comes entirely from externally funded grants, and the salary is written into them. Not sure what happens to the unspent salary. Each furlough is about $300 I won't be spending -- that's $2400 over the course of the year. So the state loses out on taxing my salary, and it loses out on sales tax.

What I've heard lately is that more furloughing will not be dealt with kindly by funding agencies that are paying salaries and expecting work to be done. In CA, furloughs for grant-funded people were curtailed because NSF kicked up a stink.

Lem said...

Years ago there was an area of the Meadowlands here in Rutherford NJ that you had to really try hard not to drive off Route 3 when you drive by.

It was a terrible smell.

Lem said...

Is somebody going Galt?

Word is the incoming House Budget Committee Chairmen Paul Ryan from Wisconsin is an Ayn Rand fan.

Scott M said...

I was a retail manager circa 1997 and had an old woman come up to me to ask me some questions about a gift for her grandson (it was a sporting apparel store). Her teeth were a wide spectrum of funky colors and I could plainly see some...thing filling the space between her tongue and her jaw. Moist, green, furry...disgusting.

Then the breath hit me. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was all I could do not to throw up in her face. I did tear up with the stress of maintaining composure though.

Rancid is not a descriptive enough word for how awful that breath was. To this day I have no idea what that was in her mouth.

rhhardin said...

Ammonia on snow, this morning.

Charlie Martin said...

Clearly, cheese that smells like shit is not a good idea.

Cheese that smells like dirty sweat socks, however, is on the right track.

bwebster said...

As you may (or may not) know, the LDS (Mormon) Church has a extensive networks of farms, canneries, ranches, and other food-raising and food-production properties, used both for the Church's internal welfare system as well as for humanitarian donations to organizations and countries. Most of the work done in preparing this food for distribution is done via volunteer labor of the Church members themselves.

Well, when I was in high school in San Diego in the 1960s/70s, San Diego was a big tuna fishing port, so the Church would buy up tuna and can it. And I can tell you that no one liked to go down to the cannery and can tuna, especially during the summer. I can remember rolling a trash can full of tuna scraps and bones out to an outside dumpster sitting in full sunlight, raising the lid, and nearly spewing on the spot. Also, I had a pair of old tennis shoes that I used just for the cannery, because once I had worn them there, I couldn't get the smell out.

San Diego Mormons were generally quite happy when the tuna industry moved away from San Diego. :-) ..bruce..

Calypso Facto said...

Nitrogen spread in liquid manure form, maybe, rhhardin, but not anhydrous ammonia (which gets injected).

Irene said...

rhardin and calypso, manure spreading is in the news here.

AllenS said...

I'll bet that Horned Frogs which have been chewed all to hell by Badgers and then left out in the sun of California, would smell pretty bad.

Paul Brinkley said...

I grew up on a farm in Texas. By age 14 I was a tractor jockey, moving round bales from the field, where the baler had rolled them, into the storage lot. This typically took a few weeks, as it was maybe two hundred bales. In the winter, so it got kinda cold, but not freezing, as it was Texas.

From time to time, I was obligated to care for any cows that were having trouble. One year, we had one in our south pasture lay down and not get up. Otherwise, she seemed okay, so we brought food and water to her every so often. Unfortunately, as cows do, she produced a lot of - well, I could probably have called Guinness and gotten credit for the world's largest chip. And still we had to keep bringing food and water out, both in black rubber tubs, which we had to place near her head, by hand.

It gets worse.

I kept having to carry round bales past her and her giant chip; I'd put that pasture off as long as I could, and I think I should have instead gotten it out of the way early. Eventually she succumbed to whatever was wrong with her; I could see her head resting on the ground, and when I came up to her, trying to make noise and hold my breath at the same time, she didn't respond like she usually did.

There was nothing for it but to secure a chain around her neck, hook it to the tractor, and tow her body to a corner of that pasture. A cow's head is heavy; getting a chain under it in the winter takes too long to hold your breath.

About a week later, we'd finally filled the storage lot with bales, and still had some to get off the field. The backup storage lot turned out to be generally close to the place where I'd towed the body, now getting picked apart by buzzards and microbes. Circle of life. As I was moving any given bale into the lot, lining it up with the ever-growing row of bales before it, and carefully setting it down - a round bale weighs a large fraction of the weight of that tractor, and there's no seat belt or even a roof; you can't hot rod these around - occasionally the wind would shift and I'd get a noseful of that decomposing cow.

I don't know what was worse; actually smelling it, or the anticipation while carefully setting each bale down.

Calypso Facto said...

Spreading manure in the Madison area now (and having it all wash downstream in the coming rain) will definitely make the Madison lakes smell like a dumpster of shrimp shells come July, Irene.

AllenS said...

My smelly farm story--

I used to fill my hay wagon as full of bales as I could, and drive it into the pole barn. Then I'd pick up the rest using the pickup truck. Some days later I took the wagon to the barn to unload. Half way through I picked up a bale that stunk so bad I could hardly breath. I had to carry it away from the barn, which took a couple of times so I could catch my breath. A week later it wasn't so bad, so I broke it open. I had baled a bull snake.

Matt Brown said...

My wife works for the University of Illinois in Champaign, so she knows all about furlough days.

Penny said...

Smell reactions vary person by person. For example, the smell of a skunk doesn't bother me in the least. On the other hand, institutional smells invoke a gag response in me.

Do you remember the smell of the janitor's bucket and mop in grade school? No matter how many times they changed water, it always smelled like another layer of kid vomit they were rubbing across those linoleum floors.

Then of course there are those hospital odors, like at mealtime, the smell of hospital food mixed with the smell of death.

Calypso Facto said...

Penny said: Smell reactions vary person by person.

Wiki said: "Thus, it is now believed that most people produce ... odorous compounds after eating asparagus, but only about 22% of the population have the autosomal genes required to smell them."

Belkys said...

a badly coked lamb. If you made the wrong cut urine will spread to the meat

c3 said...

Paul Brinkley;
I've had a similar experience except the in utero dead newborn was human. Everyone involved in the delivery was quietly heaving (except the patient who was only semi-conscious and delirious)

Penny said...

Speaking of institutions yet again, but this time as it relates to public employers convoluted thinking about furloughs.

Furloughs are short term solutions to short term financial problems.

When the financial crisis hit two years ago, who of right mind could possibly have seen that as a "short term" problem? Private industry has long ago laid off good portions of their workforce, yet government entities are still fussing around with furloughs.

Does anyone think that state employers used this past two years to get a plan in place for releasing people from their jobs using union rules? They had plenty of time to dot "I's" and cross "T's", yet I would lay money down that nothing of the kind took place. Many will use that as another two year excuse to not do what is long overdue.

This behavior SMELLS.

Penny said...

Calypso Facto, funny! I have that gene.

Never have let it get in the way of eating asparagus though.

damikesc said...

I worked at a restaurant and our septic system backed up into the bar and back of the house area ... in the midst of spraying the assorted gunk from dinner that night off of the floor. Olive Garden gunk is nasty on its own --- this was a stench I cannot describe.

It ate through shoe leather.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Wow. I am greatly honored.

Of course, now I have leave to talk about the Bio-Dri (fish guts recycling) firm. I was a mechanic. There was a space underneath the delivery bin where I had to go to grease the screw conveyor bearings. We called it the Maggot Room. From July to September you could go in there and see the floor actually ripple with millions of maggots, by the light of a single bare bulb. Didn't smell too bad, though, because the slurry dripping from the ceiling was mostly fresh salmon slime. We also processed herring during the early spring. The canneries removed the roe and discarded the fish. It was so oily it would gum up our massive grinders, and the dried, unground fish meal would be put into huge piles. In a warm snap, spontaneous combustion would set in. The pile looked normal on the outside, but if you dug in you would find something that looked like s peat fire that gave off clouds of ammonia gas. It was the closest I've come to being tear gassed.

ricpic said...

Years ago there was an area of the Meadowlands here in Rutherford NJ that you had to try really hard not to drive off Route 3 when you drive by.

The infamous Secaucus pig farms.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Continued

One day on my lunch break I went to pay my electric bill. The power company was several miles from the plant. I was wearing my work coveralls. I heard somebody in the back office say, "Close the window! That Bio-Dri smell is coming in again." Of course it was yours truly providing the olfactory delight. Good times, good times.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Worst smell ever.

We had a freezer full of chicken parts and chicken livers. We lived on a ranch at the time.

The chest freezer was in an outbuilding about 50 feet from our house. One summer the power went out and we didn't notice it for, God knows how many weeks!!. Summer in the foothills above the Sacramento Valley, the temps are in the high 90's to low 100's for days on end.

The chicken had turned to a purple green yellow sludge. The guys who opened the freezer all lost their lunch and you could smell it for almost a mile. It is impossible to describe. Worse than the dead cow on the back of the ranch that blew up like a giant balloon and popped with a disgusting whoosh of ick.

We dug a huge hole in the back of the ranch we were living on. You couldn't approch the building without wearing a bandana soaked in perfume or aftershave. We chained the sucker up, hauled it several miles away and gave it a burial with the backhoe

I'll bet it still stinks after 30 years.

ironrailsironweights said...

August 2006. A family vacation in Las Vegas. My stepdaughter and I took a break from the casinos, drove into the Mount Charleston area, and hiked up to Cathedral Rock. On our way back to the car, via a slightly different route, we were walking along the road when we were nearly asphyxiated by a stench that was far too horrible to describe in words. It was emanating from a small building that, according to signs, contained pit toilets. What was especially disturbing is the fact that when we were almost overcome by the stink we were at least 100 feet away from this building of horror. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would have been like inside the toilet building.

I strongly recommend the Mount Charleston hike for summertime visitors in Las Vegas. The view is spectacular, and it's usually at least 20 degrees cooler than on the Strip. Just be careful to steer clear of the donicker building.

Peter

virgil xenophon said...

I'll throw in the smell of Kimchi setting in 110-120 degree Vietnamese heat for a few hours..

traditionalguy said...

Allan S...The Horned Frogs will be merciful to Wisconsin, and arrange purple Oxygen tents to revive the Wisconsin players who pass out while chasing the much faster TCU players. Hopefully that can prevent brain damage, and these big and slow Wisconsin players can come back as the fastest Big 10 guys again next year.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

The worst thing I ever smelled was hundreds of rotting bodies in north-central Peru back in the early 1990s.

There was a virulent cholera epidemic at the time, and the Sendero Luminoso had come through the town about 48 hours earlier. Please don't ask why I was there.

Let's leave it that it was rainy season, and with hundreds of bodies decomposing in the mud it was the cholera I worried about. Dead bodies aren't all that infectious unless they've died of something like cholera. The ones who'd been shot, or hacked to death were no big deal.

Merely removing my boots to sleep at night would have been potentially fatal on account of all the Vibrio in the mud. I washed my hands in wood ashes and what little isopropyl remained, and I cleaned my teeth with bottled soda water. And the smell, that smell, was everywhere.

Obviously, I survived, but I'll never forget the smell. The Sendero are gone these days, so it was worth it.

mrs whatsit said...

The worst smell I've ever experienced was that of the Pine State Byproducts Rendering Plant that used to foul the air all over Portland, Maine, Casco Bay, and the nearby islands until it was finally shut down by half-asphyxiated officials sometime in the 1980s. There are no words for the stench. You'd roll up all your car windows, driving through the city, and still gag; if you were on the ferry in the open air out on Casco Bay, there was no escaping it other than to try to hold your breath for the 20-minute trip across the bay.

There were stinky paper mills around that part of Maine back then, but the rendering plant made them seem downright fragrant. When the wind was right to smell the paper mills in the city, people would say, "Smells like money to me." Nobody ever thought the rendering plant smelled like anything good -- except, perhaps, its owners.

virgil xenophon said...

Bart Hall/

I take it you were a contract guy for The Company? Or did/do our SF types range that far afield down there?

Cedarford said...

Helped bring in a "floater" we found one time, and the body was "venting" as we tried to put a tow rope on it. Three of us, two inc. myself threw up gagging on that smell.
Back before cell phones.
Nowadays I'd just call "the Heroes" of law enforcement and tell them a floater is there at X,Y GPS coordinates.

I also learned the word saponification from that experience.

I'm not hungry anymore.

Kensington said...

I'm pretty good at dealing with bad smells, in general, but the funk of fermented New York City homeless guys on the MTA will still make me flee a subway car.

I've never smelled a dead body, though, and I hear that can be quite awful.

Oligonicella said...

Vulture puke. They'll lighten the load for an escape.

buck smith said...

Balikpapan Indonesia. Raw sewage, petrochemical waste and dead fish baking in the equatorial heat.

Joe said...

Worse smell:

Either mondongo (stewed tripe) or a three-day-old dead dog on a street in the Amazon.

chuck b. said...

I once got an extensive private tour of a pulp mill in Eureka, CA that I only remember now as a two-hour succession of horrible, sickening smells. I didn't vomit though, and people worked there every day so it couldn't have been that bad.

Later, I became a bench chemist and worked with many stinky substances for >10 years. Exposure is minimized with good lab practices, but some exposure is inevitable. I have a strong personal intolerance for pyridine, the smell of which creates *angry feelings* in me. That's the best way I can describe it. Otoh, I'm largely insensible to most mercaptans. So I got to do lots of sulfur chemistry over the years.

chuck b. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck b. said...

Wet alfalfa. Ugh!

Robt C said...

When I was about 12 I thought that if I put a dead critter in a mayonnaise jar and sealed it with wax, said critter wouldn't rot due to lack of oxygen.
To test my theory, I put a mole my cat had killed in a jar and buried it (the mole, not the cat). I dug it up about 6 months later and sure enough, the mole was still intact. Hypothesis correct!
Then I unscrewed the lid. I flew back like Charlie Brown missing the football. Holy shit, what a smell. To this day (many, many days later), I recall it much too vividly.

Youngblood said...

The smell of a rotting corpse is the worst smell I've ever personally endured...

The taste, on the other hand, is delightful.

(Badum-dum... CRASH!)

Thank you, thank you... I'll be here all week.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

You wanted to work today, hmmm? Then you're obviously not one of those "less productive" members of society I've heard about. They've gotta be out there, destroying the wonderful workplace, I know it:

Some reeely, reeely smart people told me so,...

Penny said...

"The taste, on the other hand, is delightful."

Nothing like a man with a hearty appetite, Youngblood.

Perhaps I shall venture to Whole Foods tomorrow. Buy enough for a crowd of two.

Beth said...

donttread2010 - not anymore! Our new garbage contract has the Quarter smelling fresh and lemony.

Beth said...

Coming back to New Orleans after the floods introduced me to smells I cannot describe.

The most immediate were garbage cans full of crawfish shells left out for three weeks in 100 degree temperatures. Then there were the refrigerators full of rotted meats and seafoods and vegetables and dairy products. Scrubbing the pool of blood - I had ribs in the freezer - from the floor surrounding my fridge was really special.

Then, and this lasted for months upon months: traveling through the areas that flooded, one lived with what we called The Smell. It combined all the above smells with the odors water leaves behind in wood; add to that mold, and chemicals, rotting textiles, and Death.

Methadras said...

Vilex is the worst stuff I ever smelled. It's like the smell of skunk but a thousand times worse. It took me at least a month just to get the smell out of my nose. Horrible stuff.

AllenS said...

It's too bad that sometimes life sucks. Obviously, it's even worse when it also stinks!

John said...

Penguin rookery.

Chip Ahoy said...

These many smell-related anecdotes have left me spellbound.

Jennifer said...

Offal trucks leaving the chicken plant I worked for, in North Carolina mid-summer smell pretty bad. Live receiving didn't smell fantastic either, but a truck full of chicken squick sitting in the hot sun for hours was hard to beat.

Class factotum said...

smart management for gov't offices would have staggered the furlough days and kept offices open for the public who pays the bills

TG, I have not figured that out either. Why not tell the employees of the DMV that they have to take their furlough days but they have to be staggered like vacation days? But to have the DMV closed on a day when other people usually have off and want to renew their licenses (like the Friday after Thanksgiving) is ridiculous.

They closed the marriage license office in Milwaukee last summer on a Friday and a guy almost didn't get his license. Of course, the way that office is run is already idiotic, but closing a marriage license bureau? On a FRIDAY? For dumb. (They could solve some of their problems by mailing the license to the applicants for only a dollar instead of the $10 or $20 they want to charge.)

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/70084597.html

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Okay Professor here's mine.

The NYC gutters in Chinatown, in August, right where the street meets the curbs, after a light summer rain, in the alleys and small side streets that are behind the restaurants and seafood shops is the most putrescent, disgusting aroma in all of New York City.

One small drop under a microscope would reveal the biological wonders of the Universe. (and make you wonder about eating in those quaint little Chinese restaurants ever again)

Kelly said...

The worst thing I've ever smelled was the small dead animal decomposing somewhere in my car's ventilation system. We never did find it, so now there are small animal bones somewhere in my car's ventilation system.

former law student said...

In California, the state office charged with reviewing blueprints for (fully funded) school additions and remodels is shorthanded because of budget cuts, and is the only factor delaying construction -- without their signoff hundreds of workers are idled.

The argument for having this group is to prevent taxpayers' funds from being wasted, of course.

Megaera said...

Old-hand morgue attendants swear by a smear of Vapo-Rub on the upper lip to mask some of the really bad stuff they get into, and even the modern toned-down version has worked reasonably well for me when I was forethoughty enough to have some with me. ... Oddest bad/good smell encounter I had in a while was a 911 call a couple Christmasses back, 3am, dispatched for a 3 year old, possible poisoning, that was all the info we had. Peds cases are the worst, we're racing through the dark, the duty medic and I are both reviewing protocols, getting stuff ready, we hit the door of the house running and Stop. Dead.

It was the most profoundly amazing smell, just like a physical presence, something palpable. And the parents, with the kid on his mother's lap, (he was laughing like fun), geeze. He'd gotten into the presents, and emptied a bottle, a whole bottle of perfume, all over himself. Red. It's astoundingly strong, Red is, even in the tiniest amounts, sickeningly, overwhelmingly sweet, ... it achieved stench level in that house in a nanosecond. Sounds funny, I know, but perfumes have essential oils in them which are toxic, and we had no way of knowing what, if anything, the kid might have actually ingested. So we grabbed him and the mother and hustled them into the truck (neutral, well lighted and --above all -- less Red-reeking, and started stripping off his clothes and taking vitals. His father brought clean clothes, and we did vitals every 5 until we were reasonably convinced the kid hadn't taken anything in. (The parents didn't want to go to the hospital in the first place, they thought we could pump his stomach, which we couldn't -- we're not a mobile surgery, but if he'd showed any signs of toxicity we'd have convinced them to go) and eventually we turned them loose with the caution to keep him under observation and call us back immediately if he changed in any way, which they promised to do. Thankfully, he'd been pretty good for a kid his age, really stoked by all the excitement and not crying at all. Mercifully.

Then we went back to the station, took the truck out of service, and went into full-bore decontamination. We all smelled -- REEKED -- like a whorehouse. We stripped to the skin, showered, washed hair, and we still smelled like we'd bathed in Red. We parked the truck outside with an industrial blower in it, and the smell had permeated the fibers of every item in the ambulance, seatbelts, equipment bags, straps, upholstery, sheets, blankets, everything. We went to our second-line truck, in our backup uniforms, and ran our remaining calls straight-faced, but it took some effort. The first house we wafted into on a wave of residual Red the homeowner, who had fallen and broken his wrist, gave the medic such a languishing look that even I was startled, and when we rolled up to the intake desk at the ER the charge nurse snapped that she could smell us before she could see us, and one or all of us needed to Take It Down a Whole Lotta Notches before coming back to Her ER. I explained, and she laughed like hell, but we still got complaints doing reports in the EMS room, which was small and not well ventilated.

I can still pick up the smell of Red at about a half mile, and it still makes my stomach heave.

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