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February 8, 2007

The best place to hide money: conversation with a burglar


James Thornburg sent me this link earlier this week.

The part I liked best — why are we not surprised? — was this:

"And my question of whether the skid mark underwear would be a good place to hide money?"

"He laughed. 'I haven't heard of that, but I doubt I would have touched something like that had I seen it.'"

So there you have it.

As long as your burglar isn't a joehead, you're money.

As it were.

At long last, the meaning of "hide in plain sight" becomes transparent.

Here's the interview with a burglar.

    The Best Place To Hide Money: Conversation With A Burglar

    I had quite the interesting conversation this weekend with a person who happened to be a former burglar. It was great timing because I was wondering if something like the skid mark underwear for hiding money would really work. I also figured that if you wanted to know the best place to hide your money from a burglar, a former burglar was the person to ask.

    I started off simply and was not surprised by the answer to the question “where is the best place to hide your money?”

    “At the bank,” he said with a sly grin.

    When I rephrased and asked where the best place to hide money and valuables in the house would be if you had such items there, I was taken a bit by surprise by his answer:

    “It doesn’t matter how clever you think you are or where you hide it in your house, if I have enough time, I would be able to find where you stash your valuables,” he said bluntly. He then explained that what was much more important than the actual place where you hide your valuables is that you understand a burglar’s motivations. Basically, he has two:

    1. To steal your money and valuables
    2. To get out of the house as quickly as possible with these goods

    When you begin to think of it from this perspective, how you should hide your money changes a bit. Obviously, you don’t want to leave all your money in the places where the burglar will first look: dresser drawers, drawers by phones, desks, closets, a safe (if not bolted down), boxes, jewelry boxes, purse, etc.). That being said, you also don’t want to hide all of your money too well for the following reason:

    “If I can’t find money and valuables in the normal places I usually find them, I would continue to tear the house apart until I found something. Remember, the first rule is to to steal money and valuables. We’ll keep looking until we find something.”

    Your best strategy, then, is to actually leave some money in obvious places for the burglar to quickly find (the same applies if you keep all your money in the bank). This can not only save your other stash of money, but may actually keep the burglar from destroying your place as he looks for where you have hidden your money. If they believe they may have found the cash that you have in the house, they are much less likely to keep looking (remember, they want to get out asap). In the end, if you hide all your money well, you may win a moral victory in not letting the burglar find the money, but you’ll likely have much more damage done to your place that will end up costing you more in the long run.

    The next obvious question was “How much money should you leave for the burglar to find?”

    “It depends on the area where you live. If you are in a upscale community and only leave $100, I would assume there is more and keep looking. In a different part of town $100 would convince me I found all the money that was there and leave.”

    When it comes to hiding valuables, his suggestion is to mark an envelope in an easily accessible drawer or with files by your computer with “Bank Safe Deposit Box” on the outside and a list of items on the inside. This will tip off the burglar that your most valuable items are stored at the bank and will discourage him from tearing up your house looking for them.

    So the question of where is the best places to hide money still hadn’t been answered?

    His number one recommendation for money was in toys in a young child’s room. As he explained, young children don’t have money, they have an abundance of toys and most parents don’t trust a child around money. Therefore, parents will rarely hide money there. In addition, when money is hidden, it is usually hidden away neatly and securely — a child’s room is rarely a neat place making it an unlikely place for money to be hidden. Plus with all the stuff in a child’s room, it is not someplace that a burglar can search quickly and get out (rule #2).

    If you have a safe, it should be professionally bolted down so it can’t easily be removed. If you leave some token money for the burglar to find in the places they normally look for money, then anyplace you wouldn’t normally consider a place to hide valuables will usually keep those valuables safe. The underside of trash cans, inside laundry detergent, inside false packaging (but only if the packaging appears real and is in the appropriate place — “When you find a Campbell’s soup can in the bedroom, you have a pretty good idea there is money inside”) were some examples he gave.

    And my question of whether the skid mark underwear would be a good place to hide money?

    He laughed. “I haven’t heard of that, but I doubt I would have touched something like that had I seen it.”

    You also need to be smart about where you hide the money. He related one time a person had left wads of money inside the empty battery areas of electronics around the house. The problem was that although he had not found the hidden money at first, the electronics themselves were worth money and he took those to sell. Only when he got home and was checking that everything worked did he find the hidden cash. The person hid the money well, but not in a good place.

    One last tip from a personal finance angle — if you do hide money someplace around the house, make sure that your significant other (or someone close) knows where your hiding place is. If something unfortunate happens to you and nobody knows where your hidden stash is, it’s unlikely that they will be able to find it if a burglar isn’t able to find it. Worse, it could very easily be accidentally thrown away depending on where it is hidden.


[via Personal Finance Advice — pfadvice.com]

February 8, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Spider Spud — A bookofjoe World Exclusive™®: The picture they refuse to let you see


From Tuesday's (February 6, 2007) USA Today item:

    Spider-Man will sprout a Spud in March

    Spider-Man has yet another humble alter ego: Mr. Potato Head. In a marriage of superheroes and super carbs, the Spider-Man & Friends Spider Spud is leaping into Toy Fair, the annual industry trade show, two years after Hasbro's Darth Tater showed that bad guys could be cute, too. The web-slinging tuber, who will be introduced Friday in New York, comes with Peter Parker paraphernalia for his transformation, including ears, eyes and glasses. Spider Spud will be available in March, two months before his counterpart returns in Spider-Man 3.


The only place in the virtual world you can see Spider Spud is right here, above.

Hasbro is keeping Spider Spud under wraps until tomorrow's official introduction — security is even heavier than Apple's before one of Steve Jobs's product unveiling extravaganzas.

But my crack research team had other ideas.

So last night I sent them on an all-nighter, deep into the labyrinth of the web — as it were — to find me a picture of Spider Spud so I could bring it to you.

See, the USA Today item in the hard paper version had the photo you espy above — but they omitted in the online story.

So off went my team.

And guess what?

They came back with nothing.




They're all gone now — fired on the spot.

But I digress.

See, here at bookofjoe World Headquarters™ it's kind of like William Gibson's vision of the future, in a Bizarro World sense, to wit: the technology's not all here, because it's not evenly distributed.

So I have a crummy digital camera, a cheapo Epson printer, no fax, and no scanner.

Anyway, earlier this afternoon the penny dropped — and believe me, when it falls inside my head, there's a lot of reverberation.

But I digress.

joe, why don't you take a picture of Spider Spud and then put it up to lead your post?


I called my crack photography team and told 'em to get over here instanter.

The result of their hours of labor appears above, and below in its unedited form, as taken in our alfresco (baby, it's cold outside — 22° on my thermometer right this yoctosecond) studio.

Why is Spider Spud all wrinkled?

Because, if you must know, Mr. Stupid here (don't you ever call me stupid — it's Mr. Stupid to you) crumpled up the page with the picture after I finished reading it Tuesday, then put it outside in the trash.

So a major retrieval operation was required before undertaking the rest of the nonsense above.


And that's all I have to say about that.

February 8, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who's that girl?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

February 8, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Crust Cutter


What took them so long?

From the website:

    Crust Cutter

    Crust cutter keeps finicky kids happy by removing the "yucky" part of bread.

    It's so safe and easy, even a child can do it.

    Just place on top and push down to cut.




"Even a child can do it"? — music to my ears.

$6.98 (Bread included? What do you think?).

February 8, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'Shadow of a Doubt'


Things are seldom what they seem....

So the wonderful line* goes.

But then, how are we to manage?

We do our best with approximations and half-truths, I suppose.

Above and below, the best movie I've seen so far this year — and I've been on a tear lately, watching one every evening for the past several weeks.

Alfred Hitchcock directed; Thornton Wilder wrote it; Dimitri Tomkin scored it; Joseph Cotten (the most underrecognized actor in Hollywood history) and Teresa Wright starred.


They don't make 'em like this anymore.


February 8, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scariest tights of the year


They appeared in this past Sunday's (February 4, 2007) New York Times Magazine feature on "this season's face-off between the sybarites and the cyborgs."

The model in the photo above is Du Juan; the lethal leggings are by Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga, available at Balenciaga's store at 542 West 22nd Street in New York City 212-206-0872).

Gotham not where you're at?


No problema: there are Balenciaga stores in Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Seoul, Osaka, Taipei, Kuwait City, London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Honolulu and Istanbul.

February 8, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gradual Clearing - by Amy Clampitt

Late in the day the fog
wrung itself out like a sponge
in glades of rain,
sieving the half-invisible
cove with speartips;
then, in a lifting
of wisps and scarves, of smoke-rings
from about the islands, disclosing
what had been wavering
fishnet plissé as a smoothness
of peau-de-soie or just-ironed
percale, with a tatting
of foam out where the rocks are,
the sheened no-color of it,
the bandings of platinum
and magnesium suffusing,
minute by minute, with clandestine
rose and violet, with opaline
nuance of milkweed, a texture
not to be spoken of above a whisper,
began, all along the horizon,
gradually to unseal
like the lip of a cave
or of a cavernous,
single, pearl-
engendering seashell.

February 8, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hack your car — Or, do you know where your OBD II port is?


Didn't think so.

You probably don't even know what it is.

I sure didn't until this past Sunday (February 4, 2007), when I came upon it in Anne Eisenberg's New York Times Business section article, which follows.

    These Back-Seat Drivers Are Moving Up Front

    How's your driving? If you’re ready for a blunt, detailed answer to that question, computer-based gadgets selling for $200 or less will provide it.

    The devices plug into a car’s engine control computer and keep track of any bad behavior you might display behind the wheel — lead-footed acceleration that wastes gasoline, for example. Some of these devices display the data immediately on a gauge, so you can watch your car’s miles per gallon fall when you speed up. Others store the facts on a computer chip, to be downloaded later and put into charts where, for example, all extreme braking is shown with bright red lines.

    Two of the electronic back-seat drivers were recently updated to keep even closer tabs on the behavior of both engine and driver: the CarChip [above] from Davis Instruments of Hayward, Calif., (www.davisnet.com); and the ScanGauge II [below] by Linear-Logic of Mesa, Ariz., (www.scangauge.com). Users who have the patience to study these displays’ revelations may soon find themselves easing up on the gas pedal, not only to improve their fuel economy but also to add fewer molecules of carbon dioxide to the earth’s atmosphere.

    The CarChip that I tried (Model E/X with Alarm, $150 to $199) monitors a driver’s speed every second and has an alarm that can be set, for instance, to ring whenever the car is going more than 70 miles an hour.

    The CarChip does not display its data while recording it. Instead, it accumulates the information and then downloads it to a Windows-based computer by way of a U.S.B. connection. The findings can be displayed on a screen or in a report, color-coded to show errors like jackrabbit starts (solid blue lines).

    The ScanGauge II ($169.95) does not download its data.


    It shows the numbers it collects instantly, on a small monitor. The digital readout, for example, shows throttle position, coolant temperature, intake air temperature and many other details of interest not only to those who want to conserve gasoline, but also to those who like to know exactly what’s going on under the hood.

    The gadgets plug into a socket, typically under the dashboard, that mechanics use to check a car’s emissions system. This port has been installed in most cars and light trucks in the United States since 1996. Before buying either of these gadgets, make sure your car has this diagnostic socket, called an OBD II port. The manufacturers of both devices have information on incompatible vehicles at their Web sites.

    Installation is simple, but there is a small complication: First, you have to find the port. It is supposed to be within three feet of the driver, but that’s a fairly large range if you are lying on your back with a flashlight, peering under the dashboard on the driver’s side, inspecting the fuse box (nope, wrong place), and finally starting over again on the passenger side (there it is!).

    You can avoid such time-wasting searches by going to the National OBD Clearing House Web site, maintained by Weber State University in Ogden, Utah (www.autocenter.weber.edu/OBD-CH/vehicleoems.asp). Find your car model on the list, click on it and get the exact location of the port — in my case, “under the passenger’s dash next to the center console.”

    Once the port is found, the devices plug in easily. The CarChip, about the size of a 9-volt battery, begins flashing immediately and logs data until you pull it out. The software that transforms the data into neat reports comes on a CD and installs quickly. The model I tried, the E/X, keeps track of data for up to 300 hours of traveling and then automatically begins overwriting the older data.

    The CarChip provides a wealth of information. It can tell you when the ignition was turned on and off and the time and date of each trip. That is why some people use these devices for keeping an eye on others’ driving. Fleet owners, for example, put them in vans to monitor the driving habits of employees; anxious parents use them in the cars of their teenage children.

    The CarChip can be moved from one vehicle to another. Patrick Barrett, director of transportation services at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, has about 100 CarChips that are popped in and out of the more than 430 sedans and vans used by the university. Drivers are told that the vehicles may be equipped with a data recorder.

    The chips offer a relatively inexpensive way to keep an eye on the driving habits of people who use the university’s passenger vans and cars, Mr. Barrett said. In addition, they have helped with the occasional diagnostic problem.

    For instance, one person complained that the engine was stalling when it pulled onto an Interstate highway, he said. But the chip showed that the driver had not let the engine warm up enough. Instead, Mr. Barrett said, “the driver pushed the pedal to the floor and expected the car to perform.”

    Like the CarChip, the ScanGauge II starts logging data immediately. It has a cable that runs from the plug-in to the console, about the size of a stick of butter, which displays the data. The display panel can be attached to the dashboard with Velcro — two pieces were enclosed with the model I tried. One screen shows trip data, including fuel economy and the distance the car can cover before the fuel tank is empty.

    Rees Roberts, who lives in Racine, Wis., uses the ScanGauge II with his Prius 2006. The Prius already has a gauge that shows miles per gallon, Mr. Roberts said, “but its maximum readout ends at the 99-mile point.” The ScanGauge II, in contrast, has a gauge that goes up to four digits. “I can tell at any instant when I’m getting 150, 200, or even 250 miles per gallon,” he said, referring to instances when gliding downhill on the Interstate, for example.

    Mr. Roberts is interested not only in his fuel economy, measured in miles per gallon, but also in the fuel rate, measured in gallons per hour. “That rate depends on your lead foot,” he said. “If you are soft on the accelerator, you might get .4 or .5 gallons per hour. Accelerate, and you’ll see it go higher, to 1.5 or 1.7 gallons per hour.”

    The potential savings are not minor, experts say. “Driving habits, including speed and rate of acceleration, have a great impact on fuel efficiency,” said Eric Kaufman, technical integration engineer for fuel economy at General Motors in Milford, Mich. “Driving slower and accelerating slower will improve fuel economy.”

    Mr. Roberts said that his monitoring of his driving habits had led him to make changes. “I drive differently now,” he said. “You watch the gauge, and you learn the behaviors that work, so that you get better and better at conserving gas — and reducing emissions.”

February 8, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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