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Ripples #105
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Ripples #105

Ripples art--small

Ripples art--smallAn Encore Presentation of the
Top 10 Ripples Items of All Time

Dear Reader:

As Ripples’ official muse, spokesperson and alter ego, I regret to announce that this is the column’s final installment. Ripples wants you to know he has greatly enjoyed compiling, writing and editing the column for the past four years; he hopes you have enjoyed reading it.

He thinks now is the right time to move on. His final words to you, at least for now, are (to paraphrase the late, great Roy Rogers and Dale Evans): “Happy watershaping to you, until we meet again!”

Below is a retrospective of some of Ripples’ favorite items.

On Ripples’ behalf,

Lenny Giteck


‘Death Ray’ Fries Guests at
Luxury Las Vegas Hotel Pool

First there was the incident at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at the end of August, in which some 100 people were treated for breathing difficulties after large amounts of chlorine leaked into the lazy river at the hotel’s pool area. Approximately 1,500 sunbathers and swimmers had to be evacuated, with 26 taken to the hospital for treatment.

Now comes word that a number of guests at the ultraluxurious Vdara Hotel, in the massive City Center complex, have been seriously burned by sunrays reflecting off the hotel’s concave, glass-sheathed façade. The effect can raise the temperature of the directed rays by 20 degrees — which certainly could do some damage considering the city’s already scorching summertime weather. Indeed, the phenomenon has actually melted plastic bags in the Vdara’s swimming pool area.

Notes a report from Yahoo News: “The building’s concave design creates a sort of magnifying-glass effect. The hotel’s designers reportedly anticipated that ill-situated humans might experience some discomfort courtesy of the building’s blinding glare, so they placed a film over the glass panes of its many windows. Obviously that didn’t quite do the trick.”

Now, Yahoo News says, the hotel is positioning large umbrellas in the pool area “while designers try to come up with another remedy.” The rather overblown term “death ray” (thankfully, no deaths so far) was coined by hotel employees to describe the phenomenon.

To view the façade of the hotel and an illustration of how the offending rays work, click here. [Source:]

Waterpark CEO Gets Down and
Dirty with AFR on National TV Show

Face it, AFRs (Accidental Fecal Releases) are a fact of life whenever a large number of human beings — especially very young ones — spend a lot of time in water. They may not be as common as AURs (Accidental Urinary Releases) or IURs (Intentional Urinary Releases), but AFRs do take place and must be dealt with in a mature and professional manner.

When an AFR needs to be cleaned up, the unpleasant chore usually doesn’t fall to the CEO of the large chain of waterparks that owns the site. That’s exactly what happened, however, when Kim Schaefer, CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, appeared in an episode of the hit CBS series “Undercover Boss.” (She was the first female CEO featured on the program.) Great Wolf reportedly is the largest group of waterpark resorts in North America, with $330 million in business, 12 facilities and more on the way.

Schaefer appeared on the show under the guise of a longtime homemaker reentering the workplace — and as such she supposedly was also the subject of a reality show being filmed. (Hence the cameras following her around.) Kelly, one of her young and completely unsuspecting underlings, instructed her to pick up some floating poop from a pool.

She handled — literally — this and several other difficult workplace situations with grace and humor, although not always with flawless success. Schaefer came away from the experience with a deeper sense of humility and even greater understanding of, and appreciation for, her staff.

To watch the complete “Undercover Boss” episode on, click here.


Partying Prince Harry Falls (or Jumps)
Fully Clothed into Nightclub Pool

You remember Prince Harry — the other one, the younger brother who developed quite a reputation as a wild party animal whose judgment was not always up to British royal snuff. One episode that comes to mind: the time he dressed as a Nazi for a costume party — apparently never having been told about the devastating impact of the Blitz on Britain during World War II.

Then there were the photos that went viral on the Internet not long ago: They showed Harry cracking up uncontrollably behind his 90-year-old grandfather Prince Philip, who appears to have passed royal gas at an inopportune moment. Other members of the family — all of them lined up on a balcony — managed to keep relatively stiff upper lips despite the noxious attack.

In any event, Harry recently was partying at Veneranda, an open-air nightclub in Croatia, when he either fell or jumped into the establishment’s swimming pool. According to the Web site, following his fully clothed entrance into the water “a bare-footed and soaking-wet Harry then hauled himself out of the pool and carried on dancing with fellow clubbers.”

The report continued, “An onlooker told the newspaper [that] Harry ‘seemed really tipsy’ and was untroubled at being the center of attention. ‘Everyone thought it was really funny and Harry was laughing his head off.'”

The 26-year-old prince continued dancing right on the edge of the pool, allegedly lost his balance again and went into the water for an encore performance.

Photos: To see photographic evidence that British royals ain’t what they used to be, click here. [Source:]

Mystery: Did a UFO Drain an
Argentine Swimming Pool?

According to a report on the Web site, the 16,000-gallon swimming pool at the Hotel Maykel in Justiniano Posse, Argentina, was inexplicably drained completely dry in less than a day.

After being notified of the strange occurrence by the pool maintenance man, hotel owner Lilo Garcia was astonished to find that not only was the pool completely dry, there was no water on the surrounding deck. Said Garcia: “I don’t understand, because when we drain the pool to clean it, such an amount of water takes a day and a half to drain. We flood the patio and the water runs down the street all the way to the canal. But this time there was nothing! Not a single drop of water anywhere around.”

The possibility of theft by earthlings is being discounted because it would have taken five water trucks to drain the pool, and no such vehicles were observed. Nor did it appear to be a case of cracked plaster, since the maintenance man conducted a thorough examination and found the shell to be completely intact. Indeed, the pool was subsequently refilled and held water perfectly well.

“So,” asks, “who stole the water?” Or as Ripples would put it, was this a genuine Close Encounter of the Wet Kind? And if the extraterrestrials were so thirsty, why wouldn’t they drain a Coke or 7UP factory instead? Or a Starbucks? Or a liquor store? Could it be that on their planet, chlorine is considered a tasty and refreshing treat?

Ripples awaits further evidence that may offer answers to these and other questions.

Photo: To see an artist’s rendering of what the possible alien H2O heist on may have looked like, click here.


Roosters Sacrificed in India to
Secure Swimming Pool Safety

According to, a rooster is ritually sacrificed every Monday in Coimbatore, India, to make a corporate swimming pool safe for bathers. Contractor M. Saamithangam is quoted as saying, “We have to be careful as a lot of people, including children, use [the pool].” Apparently, sacrificing a female chicken would not provide quite the same water-safety mojo.

If you’re thinking that Coimbatore is some primitive, backwater village cut off from the 21st century, think again. It is a major metropolitan area — the second-largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, according to Wikipedia — with a population of more than two million and advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors.

Needless to say, Indian animal rights activists are not pleased with the fowl ceremony, which describes as a “medieval ritual.” As a Solomonlike compromise, Ripples suggests that instead of sacrificing live animals, voodoo pins be inserted into a rubber chicken, which would then be swung 10 times over the practitioner’s head in a clockwise circular motion.

True, despite repeated attempts using this rubber-chicken voodoo technique, Ripples has not been able to grow more hair on his head. Still, it’s worth a try for the sake of pool safety — or to put it another way… it couldn’t hurt.

New Book Reveals 18-Month JFK
Affair Started in White House Pool

A recently published memoir by now-68-year-old Mimi Alford claims she was involved in a long-term affair with President John Fitzgerald Kennedy — and that the relationship started in the White House pool. The title of the tell-all book: Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and its Aftermath.

According to Alford, she was a 19-year-old intern in the White House press office when she was invited by Dave Powers, a close aide to JFK, to go for a swim in the pool. The following excerpt is from the Web site

The water was as warm as that in a bathtub — as I learned later, the temperature was always set at 90 degrees to soothe JFK’s chronic back pain. I was treading water with Fiddle and Jill [two female White House employees] when the president himself walked in. “Mind if I join you?” he asked.

He was remarkably fit — flat stomach, toned arms — for a 45-year-old man. After sliding into the pool, he floated up to me. “It’s Mimi, isn’t it?” he said. “And you’re in the press office this summer, right?’ He asked what I’d been given to do, and I told him. “Well, nice to see you, Mimi,” he said, and floated away toward Fiddle and Jill.

According to Alford, she lost her virginity to the president later that day after Kennedy invited her on a personal tour — a very personal tour — of the White House residential quarters. The affair developed from there.

Interestingly, swimming in the White House pool continued to play a role in the relationship. Writes Alford: “Our affair, which lasted until his death 18 months later, began in earnest the following week. All that summer, I’d swim with the president, race back to my desk and then wait for a call to come upstairs.”

Of course, the fact that our 35th president was not exactly assiduous in upholding his marriage vows is yesterday’s news — but the specificity of the revelations in Once Upon a Secret probably will shock nonetheless. Still, like most Americans of a certain age, Ripples remembers the horror of November 22, 1963 — the day JFK was assassinated — with absolute clarity. Nothing revealed since then about Kennedy’s human foibles has tarnished his memory in Ripples’ mind, and it is doubtful that anything ever will.

Learn more: To read the complete excerpt published by, click here.
Video: To watch an interview with Mimi Alford conducted by “Rock Center” reporter Meredith Vieira, click here. [Source:]


British Freestyle Record-Setter
Guilty of Pool Peeping Tomism

James Mackay, a 28-year-old British swimming champion, has been convicted of using mirrored swim goggles to spy on a woman in a pool changing-room cubicle, the Web site reports.

Mackay — who set the British 800-meter freestyle record in 2004 and is married — was accused of spying on the same individual on three separate occasions. He reportedly positioned the goggles in a way that enabled him to see what was taking place on the other side of a partition.

The peeping Tomism took place at Abbey Stadium in the town of Redditch, near Birmingham. According to, the facility is home to “a brand-new 25-metre…swimming pool, a newly refurbished fitness suite and a 5-court, multiuse sports hall providing a wide range of activities.”

In the Daily Mail report on the sordid affair, Mackay’s victim, who was not named, was quoted as saying:

‘I was taking my swimming costume off and put my towel round me, and then I heard the door next door. I saw this flash of blue flippers he had moved next to me. I then noticed the goggles. They were at an angle and looking into the cubicle. I felt uncomfortable but I thought I was being paranoid.’

Once she realized it was not all in her head, she photographed the goggles and lodged a complaint — effectively cooking Mackay’s goose. Mackay was brought before a magistrate and found guilty despite his protestations of innocence. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 8.

Given the easy availability of pornography on DVDs and the Internet — or so Ripples has heard — it’s difficult to understand why Mr. Mackay had to go to such lengths to be titillated. One is reminded of a line in the Woody Allen movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors”: “Human sexuality…it’s such a mystery.”

By the way, the name Redditch may ring a bell with longtime Ripples readers: Back in February 2011, the town council approved a plan to use waste heat from the local mortuary’s crematorium to heat the adjacent community sports center. Or to put it another way, the center’s swimming pool — among other things — was to be warmed by the burning of dead people. The proposal raised considerable controversy at the time, but after the system was put in place, the facility won a prestigious award for environmental awareness.

Clearly, Mackay’s behavior was extremely disrespectful to the deceased.

German Cop Stops BMW Convertible
Converted into Rolling Swimming Pool

Four young men ran afoul of the law when they were stopped by a German motorcycle cop who spotted them driving through the town of Eibenstock in a swimming pool. To be more precise, they were rolling down the road in a BMW convertible that had been converted into a small pool.

The interior of the vehicle was sealed with “synthetic material” (probably vinyl), sported narrow wooden decks on the sides and was filled with more than 500 gallons of water. When the BMW rounded a curve, water splashed out — which alerted the police officer that something was amiss.

The article on the German Web site went on to note:

In addition to the driver, the officer also found two young men sitting inside in bathing suits and a third sitting on the trunk, dipping his feet in the “pool.” The car reportedly only had one functioning gear, but could travel at speeds of up to 25 kilometers per hour (15.5 mph). The vehicle was also lacking a license plate.

The occupants managed to flee the scene, but the individual thought to have been the driver was later apprehended and tested for alcohol use. According to, it is unclear whether there is any law in Germany prohibiting driving a swimming pool on public streets.

Although Ripples is not an expert in the German language, he surmises that BMW can stand for either Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works) or Besser Mit Wasser (Better with Water).

Photo: To learn more and see a photo of the drivable pool, click here.


Kim Jong Un Supervises Swimming
Drill for North Korean Naval Officers

Although Kim Jong Un, the pudgy, 31-year-old strongman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has never been known as a particularly inspiring specimen of male physical fitness, he recently supervised an arduous swimming drill by North Korean naval officers.

According to official government Web site, “Marshal” Kim was satisfied with what he saw. The site reported:

Kim Jong Un met the commanding officers prior to the start of the drill and told them that the assessment of their swimming ability was of weighty importance in rounding off the combat readiness of the navy and remarkably bolstering up [sic] the combat capabilities by making the training more intense just as the anti-Japanese guerrillas did in Mt. Paektu.

The drill involved a 10-kilometer swim — 5 kilometers out to sea and 5 kilometers back. Regarding successful execution… uh… completion of the drill, Kim said that “modern warfare requires the commanding officers to be prepared not only politically and ideologically and in military technique but physically.”

Given that “Great Successor” Kim is Supreme Commander of the North Korean armed forces, Ripples foresees many pool laps in his future. Or maybe not.

To learn more, click here.

The ‘Facekini’ Becomes a Big Hit
With Female Chinese Swimmers

Although “facekinis” aren’t a new sartorial innovation for ladies at China’s beaches and swimming pools — they’ve been around for at the last five years, according to an article on — their popularity has soared of late.

Simply put, a facekini looks a lot like a ski mask (the type favored by burglars, serial killers and other assorted miscreants…oh…and skiers), but it’s made out of a material much more swim-friendly than hot, scratchy wool. Since facekinis are available in a myriad of colors, they are considered a fashion statement of sorts.

The primary reason Chinese women have taken to this now-trendy garment is to avoid getting a tan — reportedly a much less-prized look in Asia than in the West. Proponents say the facekini also offers protection against mosquitos, jellyfish and predators of the human variety — such as men on the prowl who make unwelcome approaches at the beach.

One purveyor of facekinis even claims the head covering can help ward off nonhuman sharks: “Fingertip Melody 234 (指尖旋律234), one of Taobao’s facekini vendors, says bright orange masks can help drive away sharks ‘because they fear this color the most.'” No scientific proof of this claim is presented in the article, however.

Some of the most perceptive comments about the facekini come from the reader feedback following the article. A sample:

[ ] “As an open water swimmer/triathlete and skin cancer survivor, I get the appeal of sun protection and jellyfish sting prevention. They look funny, but if it keeps you healthy and safe doing an activity you love, then I understand the appeal.”

[ ] “If I have a daughter I know where I’m moving! Prob. cuts down the chance of boys coming around by a lot.”

[ ] “Cheap way to cut down on plastic surgery costs.”

Of course, this being the Internet, there are more than a few less-than-kind comments:

[ ] “Vain morons.”

[ ] “They look like Nacho Libre.” [Note: “Nacho Libre” was a 2006 comedy with Jack Black. The commenter probably is referring to the masked lucha libre professional wrestlers of Mexico.] [ ] “I guess us Westerners just laugh cause they look so weird.”

[ ] “I might go in public in a bathing suit again if I could be disguised as a horror movie character and no one knew whose cellulite they were looking at.”

[ ] “They look like frikkin’ burn victims. Good god [sic]! What a stupid idea.”

Ripples, always a proponent of “live and let live,” responds to that last comment: “If some people want to look like burn victims at the beach or pool, that’s no one’s damn business but their own. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, troll!”

Images: To see what facekini-wearing women look like, click here. [Source:]

And with that, Ripples says for one last time . . .
Happy watershaping to you!

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