Thursday, December 31, 2009

Like hand sanitizer for your insides.

The headmaster of a culinary school told me that if you were to eat wasabi with every meal you would never succumb to food poisoning. That's because it acts as an internal antibacterial agent. So when my husband came back from the restroom at Roca in London, England and told me a wait staff didn't wash their hands according to North American health standards -- soap, water and Happy Birthday -- I was indifferent. Yes, the Hygiene Hunter said, "Let's order pork sashimi." That's because I am a good pupil. I very much enjoyed the food at this Japanese restaurant despite my significant other's keen eye. Hit & Miss.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hail the white glove.

Shopping along Old & New Bond Street in London, England during the holiday season is particularly magical with its display of twinkling lights, evergreen floral displays and sale signs. The most magical window of all was Sotheby's with their homage to white gloves. The write-up in the display window explained that at the end of the sale the technician hands his white gloves to the auctioneer as a sign of respect for the latter's accomplishments.

I just like the fact they wear gloves to handle precious objects like the Romanov Heirlooms. Gloves can offer you a layer of protection, but they shouldn't give you a false sense of security. Personally, I still use a tissue to navigate my way through this world. That's just me. If you wear gloves remember to consider what you've touched and what you're about to touch next -- heirloom or not. Hit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The downside of a pristine bed.

I'm not a morning person to begin with. Provide me with an immaculate bed, Frette linens and drizzle and the sites of London will just have to wait until at least 3 p.m. Believe it or not, so does champagne. Convent Garden Hotel's aromatic lavender infused Sleep Well mist is also to thank. I guess there can be an advantage to a soiled bed -- like not wanting to sleep in it -- ever. I've often heard people say a hotel is not worth spending money on because "You're only going to sleep there." Duh-huh? Hit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Always nervous.

Even when I check into a hotel I have stayed at many times before, I still have butterflies in my stomach. No, not because I eat them for breakfast -- that would be insect cruelty. As the Hygiene Hunter, I am obligated to execute a room inspection. Think of it as a program function I can't turn off. Some people don't want to know what lies beneath. I have to know. I arrived at my favorite hotel in London, England yesterday. The Covent Garden Hotel oozes charm. And, you don't have to share your rider with them twice. Plastic lined garbage bins? Check. Liquid hand soap? Check. Extra tissue? Check. Pillows? Clean. Mattress? Spotless. Male escort? Not this time. I'm with my husband. Hit.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ha. Ha. Ha.

On the day of the year when virtually all stores are closed I ran out of dishwashing liquid. I am nearly as fond of DL as I am toilet paper, paper towels and champagne. My mother said not to worry. She told me she had some Ajax at home that she could give me. My children became true believers on Christmas Day. They now know I've been telling them the truth all along. For context, read my "Blame it on my mother." post. I was delighted to see Ajax is now available in liquid form.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh my.

Just because I didn't find a rat on Halloween doesn't mean I wanted one for Christmas. Thank you Anonymous for thinking of me though.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another present.

This is a gift from Debbie and it's not for sharing. In that way it's better than chocolates. Although you could always hide those. Without question, I prefer soap and water to hand sanitizer. But when it comes to soap you may be surprised to hear I have my quirks. Communal soap must be liquid. Bar soap should have your name on it. If it has my name on it and you touch it -- you eat it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An early Christmas present.

My friend Mark was thoughtful enough to think of me when he came across X3. This hand sanitizer foams and kills germs and bacteria with benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol. That makes this a non-drying formulation. It's also said to be fragrance free, non-toxic and non-irritating. I tried it and it didn't remove a layer of skin like some hand sanitizers do. It must be effective because it's used by police officers. I guess the next time I'm being frisked I can relax just a little knowing the officer's hands are germ free -- assuming he/she sanitized before and after.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The wrong address.

My goal was to finish my Christmas shopping this weekend. Alas, while I may be hygienically superior, I am directionally challenged. So instead of being cradled in the bosom of Holt Renfrew -- Canada's best department store for fashion -- I found myself in one of Canada's most tragic neighborhoods -- Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. With the Olympic Winter Games only 52 days away, the City of Vancouver is focused on making this area more visitor friendly. Personally, I find the area more sad than scary. I would, however, advise that you watch where you step. While waiting for a taxi I bided my time admiring the HH in the doorway of this dilapidated building. I can't decide if it stands for Hygiene Hunter or Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pretty garbage.

I just love how tidy this collection bin in San Francisco looks. It makes me want to feed it chocolate bon bons. Do I have a volunteer to open the lid?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Missing ingredients.

I was going to make one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes last night when I realized I didn't have any eggs and I didn't feel like going out back to the chicken coop to collect some. Since I was in a mood to create, I decided to try a recipe for hand sanitizer blog reader Anita sent me. I had all of the ingredients necessary except for isopropyl alcohol. I was tempted to substitute this ingredient with vodka, but then thought better of it and just drank the vodka. Cheers Anita for thinking of me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I had to ask.

After reading the first three books in Daniel Edward Craig's Five-Star Mystery series I was curious whether he as a hotel professional had ever encountered a dead body. Here's what he had to say.

"I've experienced every imaginable situation as a hotelier, except for murder -- fortunately, that part is pure fiction. However briefly, people live in hotels and therefore employees witness every aspect of life, from birth to death and everything in between. There have been a few circumstances in which guests have died while staying at a hotel where I worked, due to anything from suicide to a heart attack, but rarely does a guest die in a room -- he or she is usually taken away by ambulance and dies in hospital.

If a guest dies in a room, depending on the circumstances, the room is given an extra thorough cleaning and put out of order for a few days, and no future guests are the wiser. This reminds me of an incident I heard about years ago at a hotel in Miami Springs, which I referred to in my blog about bed-and-breakfasts. A guest complained at checkout about an unpleasant odor in his room. It turned out to be a dead body."

I always reject rooms that have an off smell. In addition to my already complex room inspection, I also perform a visual inspection under the bed, behind the bed and in any crawl spaces. Fortunately for me the worst "body part" I've come face-to-face with in a hotel room has been ... cue the trumpet ... toenail clippings! ... on the carpet by the head of my bed! It gets worse. In that circumstance, I was sequestered for jury duty, there was no phone in my room and our floor guard already determined I was a princess. I told him, "No, I'm the Hygiene Hunter." I had to sleep with the toenails.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A mystery gift.

There's nothing I love more at Christmas than receiving a new pair of flannel pajamas and some great books. In my opinion, this combination is the perfect way to avoid doorknobs during the holiday season. Even your own. Seriously, I would never open the door in flannel -- front or back.

The books on my gift-giving list are those written by Daniel Edward Craig -- former hotel VP and now author and hotel consultant. The first three novels in his Five-Star Mystery series fall into the category of I'll-only-put-these-books-down-when-my-dog's-bladder-0r-mine-makes-me. We have a plot, a witty writer and and an insider's perspective into the hotel industry. The following excerpt is one of my favorite parts as told in the first person by novel character Trevor Lambert, director of rooms, in Craig's first book Murder at the Universe. This is not a plot spoiler.

"For me, the hotel is anything but erotic. It's my place of work and no sexier than a cubicle, a corner office, or a cash register. A bed in which a different person sleeps every night, sweating and drooling and doing God knows what else, is not terribly appealing. People come to hotels to recover from illnesses, to visit sick people, to attend funerals, to fire employees, to close down offices, to do drugs, to escape reality, and sometimes to kill themselves. To me, a hotel is about as sexy as a hospital."

This is why an exceptional cleaning staff is so important and my tips are so useful. In Murder at the Universe, Trevor struggles to find the killer of Universe GM Willard Godfrey. Trevor returns in Murder at Hotel Cinema and Murder at Graverly Manor. These books are available through Chapters Indigo in Canada, Amazon in Canada/USA and Midnight Ink (US Publisher).

Monday, December 14, 2009

A dual purpose Christmas tree.

Not all artificial Christmas trees are created equal. I believe mine is superior because not only does it not shed needles, in a pinch, it could save the day if you have a bottle to clean -- just remove the ornaments first. This Bottle Brush Tree was designed by Juno Prey, professor of the Bauhaus Design School in Dessau, Germany. It was also made in Germany. For me this concept is as exciting as snow before a dog defaces it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I can't believe I'm saying this.

Talk about viral marketing. While I'm pleased that hygiene is top of mind courtesy of H1N1, I must admit I'm tired of seeing hand sanitizing dispensers everywhere -- restaurants, hair salons, church pews. On the one hand, it's there if you need it. On the other, it feels like crass commercialism. It's like we've lost the true meaning of hand washing. For me, these dispensers are becoming as annoying as overplayed Christmas songs. Anyway, I prefer carrying my own so I don't have to touch a communal one

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A must once a year.

Yesterday I went for my annual physical. My new doctor made the mistake of asking me if I had any concerns. Clearly, she isn't reading my blog. Where to begin? Doctor: Is the exam table sprayed down between patients? Are stethoscopes cleaned in between patients? Was the person in the exam room before me contagious? Do you ever swab your doorknobs? Do you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water while singing Stairway to Heaven in between patients? Is there a woman on this planet who can pee into a cup without peeing all over her hands? Why didn't health boards realize magazines and toys in health clinics and hospitals were a bad idea long before H1N1?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clean on the inside.

With the help of the Raw Fairies in London, England I plan to be .1% of the population who will not eat beyond their means during the holiday season. This way I can hopefully fit into some fabulous odd-sized Boxing Day sale rack find. A Size 2 has a way of making you regret inhaling that gingerbread house, those egg nog shooters, a stuffing sandwich with gravy, the Christmas tree along with all of the ornaments and yellow snow.

When in London, the Raw Fairies are my go-to-food source. I love their food because it tastes delicious AND is truly good for you. As opposed to some raw restaurants that give the movement a bad rap and can often leave a mleh aftertaste in your mouth and your teeth on the dining table.

The following is a recipe courtesy of the Raw Fairies. You'll feel fantastic after drinking this suitably festive colored drink.

Green Smoothie with Spirulina and Chlorella:

For eight 250 ml smoothies:

1250 ml filtered (or mineral) water

7 medium organic bananas

4 organic kiwis, peeled and cut into pieces

2 large handfuls of fresh organic spinach

1 tablespoon organic spirulina

1 tablespoon organic chlorella

Blend all ingredients in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender until totally smooth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An early Christmas present.

From the Raw Fairies to me. From me to you. Let's get into the Christmas spirit together with something other than an Egg Nog Latte. I avoid touching doorknobs in an effort to stay healthy. I also chose to fortify my body from the inside out. Tomorrow, I'll share some goodness with you from the Raw Fairies -- a London, England based raw food delivery service. Just like Christmas Day, I'm going to make you wait, but only for 24 hours as opposed to 18 days.

Monday, December 7, 2009

An open letter to my son.

Dearest Zachary:

Why did it have to come to this? I was prepared to deal with a drug habit, a knocked-up girlfriend, even grand theft auto. You, however, choose to rebel by picking up a sliced tomato that fell on the floor and eating it -- right in front of me.

I know. I know. I have only myself to blame. You are the son of the Hygiene Hunter and we live in an altered reality, a safe haven, a bubble where bleach flows from the taps. I know. I know. I am just like Henry VIII who created hyper-sterile living conditions for his beloved son Edward. I know. I know. If only I would have hugged you and your sister more often as you were growing up. As you can appreciate, that would require touching. Blah, blah, blah.

Seriously, now how can I sleep at nights worrying about whether or not you're eating off public floors?


Your mother,
Hygiene Hunter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's right with this picture?

I apologize in advance, but I don't remember this adorable dog's name. I do, however, remember his manners. I met him at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco. What impressed me most about him was he kept his saliva where it belongs -- in the privacy of his mouth. He managed this despite a hot day, food scraps on the ground and being in the presence of a bitch. According to some, that would be me. Two-legged creatures who create obstacle courses on pavement with their phlegm should take a cue from him. Yet another reason not to wear outside shoes inside.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A hotel after my heart.

Ask and I shall receive. Not only were there new pillows in my hotel room as requested, but they were still in their respective plastic bags -- with the "Not to be removed" tags still intact. Yeah Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph, Canada! I slept so much better knowing no one else has sweated or drooled on the pillows I was sleeping on. I cut the tags off and kept them as souvenirs. See, I'm actually not that hard to please.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How thoughtful of her.

Same flight. Different aisle. Do you still think I'm crazy for wiping down armrests on an airplane with hand sanitizer?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How thoughtful of him.

On a red-eye flight, while others slept, I tip-toed around the plane looking for hygiene infractions. Even when people are sleeping they're only thinking about themselves, not other passengers.