Monday, January 16, 2006

fyi It's Just the Key to Your Room


Pointer to article:,10801,107701,00.html?source=NLT_AM&nid=107701

Kobielus kommentary:
Fascinating discussion. Most mag-stripe hotel key-cards “contain only a room number, a departure date and a ‘folio,’ or guest account code -- although other data may be stored on them as well.” So, essentially, the key-cards are a credential/entitlement token tied to an identity and account maintained by the service provider (the lodging establishment) for a limited-duration facility-access grant. The property management system (PMS) links the identity (the customer name, address, credit-card info) to the access grant (the room reservation) and provisions and deprovisions the credential/entitlement token. The doorlocks enforce the entitlement grant (without the need to communicate with the PMS) by requiring the presence of a guest account code and comparing the departure date with the current date (presumably, tracked through a clock in the lock). The lodging establishment needn’t (and rarely does) encode your name/address/credit-card on the key-card itself, because billing for your use of this limited facility-access grant is handled through the PMS.

All of which reminds me of another great urban myth as regards hotel rooms: that the bed, dressers, desks, TVs, phones, and other surfaces are slathered in dried (invisible) semen stains. We’ve all heard this. I’m assuming it’s just a myth. It sounds like nonsense. Where did this myth originate from? How is it sustained? Who tests for this? Assuming it’s true in some cases, is it a general phenomenon across all rooms in all lodging establishments of all grades and in all states and countries? More important, is there any greater prevalence of dried semen in hotel rooms vs. people’s own bedrooms? People clean their own bedrooms and launder their own sheets far less frequently than most hotel/motels do theirs. Has anybody done any comparative studies?

Are people subconsciously worried about telltale DNA stains they leave behind in strange places? They should worry more about flaking skin and fallen hair shafts. We leave those DNA traces everywhere and never think twice about them.

Just as telling: The other peoples’ hair that can be found embedded in the carpet next to ours. Semen stains alone only tell half the story.

What story? Make up something. I’m sure you all have good imaginations where this sort of thing is concerned.