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The Hotel that Takes Money Laundering Seriously

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Money is dirty. You’ve been hearing that since you were knee-high to a grasshopper and your mom had to stop you from putting coins in your mouth and up your nose. Turns out, mama didn’t know how right she was: the flu virus can actually survive on money for up to 10 days. And you’ve probably heard the crazy statistic that 90 percent of U.S. bills have cocaine on them.

Lucky for all of us, then, that the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco is doing their part to make the world of currency just a little bit cleaner. For the better part of a century, neat freaks at the Westin St. Francis have been fastidiously scrubbing every single coin that comes into their possession. Rumor has it the practice started when a high society lady complained that her perfectly white gloves got dirty after she was handed some change at the hotel.

The St. Francis has employed the same coin cleaner, Rob Holsen, for the past 20 years. By his calculations, he’s washed about $1.5 million in cash since he was hired. Back in the day, this kind of money laundering was a full-time job. These days, it only takes about 10 hours of Holsen’s time every week. The washer before him, Arnold Batliner (pictured), was so legendary that the Mayor declared a day in his honor when he retired in 1993. The hotel still celebrates his birthday with cake every year. Batliner's grand total, by the way, came to somewhere around $14 million.

In case you want to give your cash the St. Francis treatment at home, here’s their recipe for cleanliness: a burnisher filled with water, some birdshot to knock the big pieces of grime off of the change, and a good scoop of Borax soap. After three hours (three hours) of washing, the money is sorted out from the birdshot, dried off, put into rolls, and redistributed to cash registers around the hotel.

Alas, the treatment is reserved for coins only. Unless the Westin St. Francis decides to start washing and ironing bills, you’ll still have to deal with drugs on your paper money. Sorry!

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Take a Rare Glimpse Inside the World's Largest Seed Reserve
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Getty

Since 2008, the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen has been home to the world’s largest seed storage facility, known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The 11,000-square-foot facility contains nearly 865,000 seed samples—many of which are crops—and functions as both a reserve in the event of a catastrophe and as a backup for other seed banks around the world. Countries can send samples for preservation and access the reserves as needed (the effort is funded by Norway in conjunction with the organization Crop Trust). The vault was opened for the first time last year in light of the destruction caused by the Syrian War.

Access to the fault is notoriously limited, but AJ+ has a glimpse inside on its YouTube page. It’s a rare look at a place that isn’t known for its looks, but holds some of the planet’s most beautiful and valuable offerings.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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This Infographic Explains the Difference Between Perfume and Eau de Toilette
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iStock

Ever wondered why you can't smell the perfume you dabbed on earlier this morning? Maybe it's because you aren't actually wearing perfume. Instead, you likely applied eau de toilette, cologne, or another type of fragrance.

These sprays contain different concentrations of fragrance oil dissolved in solutions of alcohol and water. Scents with a heavier amount of oil are stronger, they're more expensive, and they also last for longer periods of time. Even the most discerning shopper might not know whether to opt for parfum or eu de parfum when perusing bottles of Chanel No. 5 at the fragrance counter—or even realize there's a difference. 

If you'd prefer to smell like a few roses instead of a field of them, it's handy to know the difference between perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, cologne, and eau fraiche when you're out shopping for a new scent. Lifehacker recently ran this handy infographic by Real Men Real Style, which breaks down the strength of each fragrance along with how long it lasts. Use it as a guide to purchase the perfect product for you.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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