Emails leading up to the release of Maid Appleton

With the rights to the website in place, and working frantically as often as I could in my spare time, I was making headway.

But how should I release it? I didn’t want to just say “hey, check this out!” and send a mass email. I had to create suspense and intrigue; enough to keep people engaged but not so much that they felt like they were wasting their time.

As I continued working a few things started lining up. It was early 2003 and in April a couple of things would happen.

  1.  April 13 would mark the anniversary of the “death” of Maid Appleton, or the loss of the original juice box
  2.  I would be travelling back East to spend time with a friend
  3. April 15 – Tax Day

I decided to use all of these together and create a series of emails that would inform people of the unveiling of a big “secret”. Some people knew I would be spending time with a female friend back East and so they might think some relationship reveal might be coming. Only Tom knew the date of death of Maid Appleton since she was with him when it happened. I was relying on the fact that he wouldn’t remember it as it had been a year before. The last would be to hope people would think it was something to do with Tax Day.

The only problem was Tax Day is on the 15th and Maid Appleton died on April 13. There was a difference of 2 days. The way around this would be to release “Email # of 15” instead of “Day # of 15”.

Within each email would be a “hint” or a reference to some travel that I had done. Of course I would realize what was going on, but I figured no one else would have any idea.

Click a link to see each of the 15 Emails I sent out leading up to the announcement release of

Spurred to Action: Buying Maid Appleton

The story of how Maid Appleton came to be has already been explained. What few people know is how the site came to be.

After the juice was loose and I continued traveling, I wanted to make the project more permanent. I thought of making a website although I had no idea how to make one.

When I visited websites I liked, I would right-click and select “View page source” to see how the site was built. I’d then copy/paste that code and modify it to make my own website. Needless to say it was a very tedious process, but I learned a lot.

Now that I knew how to build a website, I needed to buy one. I had no idea how to do that and I kept putting it off, figuring the price would be cost-prohibitive.

Research proved that it wasn’t all that difficult, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or of the time commitment or any number of other variables.

Then, one night I had a dream. I was talking with a leader from church and a group of people when they started inquiring what everyone had done that weekend. People named the various things and when it got to him he said “I bought a website”. That piqued my curiosity since I was was wanting to do the same thing. I asked him what the url was and he said “”.

My heart sank and I woke up panicked. I felt like if I didn’t buy the site then obviously someone else would, so I got out of bed, logged onto my computer, and bought the domain name.

With that done, I had forced myself to put it together. I started the process. Now I just needed a way to release it to the world in a creative way.

Creating Maid Appleton’s Obituary

On Sunday 14 April 2002 at 2:44 p.m.,  I received the following phone call (click phone to play).

1194986412424524297phone.svg.thumbTom was obviously devastated. So was I.

I knew we needed to create an obituary to celebrate her life. I wrote a few drafts and never having priced an obituary nor wanting to ruin my chances of getting it published, I looked up a newspaper in Dallas, Texas. I submitted the following obituary via an online form and waited for a reply with pricing details.

Maid Appleton, 3, born in Houston passed away unexpectedly in Maine on April 13 of cancer. Doctors originally said she wouldn’t live past Dec. 15, 2000 but for 484 days she proved them wrong. Her unconquerable spirit and love of life will be missed. Preceded in death by her parents she is survived by her sisters Tasha and Syder as well as Tom Britton and Collin Johnson. In lieu of flowers or donations please live your life to its fullest so that Maid’s death isn’t in vain.

The reply came and the price was north of $300.00. (I don’t recall how much, but the current rates at the Houston Chronicle are $11.81 per line).

Wow! I don’t think I went overboard and having received that quote I did some quick mental math and figured if that was a typical rate then some people easily spent thousands of dollars on an obituary.

It’s big business and it makes sense if you think about it. When grandma or grandpa die, who is going to balk at paying that much? Their posterity wants it/needs it. Think of the children. The grandchildren. Heck, even think of the great grandchildren. They need, no they want to remember g-pa and g-ma.

How can you succinctly sum up their lives in a few paragraphs when they’ve accomplished so much? You simply can’t. Therefore people will probably pay what is asked of them, even in what is likely a dark hour, even if it was expected.

But Maid Appleton was fairly young. She didn’t have offspring. She hadn’t even really had a full life yet. She was robbed of that full life, yet it still needed to be celebrated.

I whittled the obituary down, looked up the Houston Chronicle’s submittal policy and submitted it.

With a day I had an email with a price quote. It was around $100.00. Not bad.

I called them up to go over the obituary and confirm that it was correct. I supplied the credit card information. We were so close and then the representative said, “okay, now all I need is the funeral home information and once it’s confirmed, we’ll go from there.”

“What?” I asked and started to panic. I continued, “no one ever told me about that.”

“Oh, it’s common procedure. It’s to prevent people from submitting fake obituaries,” came the reply.

“People really do that?” I managed to ask incredulously, while frantically thinking about how to remain calm and not blow my cool.

“Oh yeah, before we had this policy, people would break up and to get back they’d call in a fake obituary, or if kids did something bad and their parents disowned them, the parents would put out an obituary. Then people would get calls with someone on the other end freaked out.”

“That’s horrible. I can’t believe someone would have the audacity the submit a fake obituary. What is this world coming to?” If only he knew right?

“I know. It’s sad.”

“Hmmm,” I responded, “well, as you can see this was a young child and as a friend of the family who is helping them during this tragic time, I am unfortunately unprepared and don’t have the funeral home information. Let me get with the family to get it and I’ll be in touch. Is that okay?” I hope I pulled it off.

“Sure, that’ll be fine,” he replied and we ended the call.

Crap! I didn’t know what to do. Because some pranksters out there have performed all sorts of obituary tom-foolery, I was about to pay the price. I’m sure Maid Appleton was spinning in her grave on some beach somewhere in Maine.

Then I got an idea. An idea so crazy that it just might work.

For work, I had gone to Puerto Rico. I worked with a girl (Vanessa) at a dealership. During my week there, I hung out with her and her friend Brendaliz one night. After finishing my one-week travel assignment there a buddy and I went to the Dominican Republic for a vacation. After the vacation, we stopped back in Puerto Rico and hung out with Vanessa and Brendaliz for the night.

They both loved Maid Appleton and Brendaliz (a marketing graduate) suggested I take it further and contact them.

One thing I learned about Puerto Rico while there, which was my first time, was that some people had a very strong command of the English language but with a Spanish accent, whereas, others seemed to have no English-speaking ability whatsoever. I found it really odd.

I decided to use this to my advantage.

While at work the next day (and supposedly contacting the family to determine how they wanted to go ahead with the obituary) I contacted Brendaliz and asked for a huge favor.

I explained the whole obituary situation and asked her to get me the name of a popular cemetery/funeral home there. That was the easy part and took her no time at all.

Now the hard part. I told her I would need her personal cell phone number and that for the next few hours she would need to answer the phone and answer as though she were the funeral home. I also told her to speak English well enough so that she would be understood (which would be no problem) but with enough of a Spanish accent that any questioning wouldn’t go on for very long. I told her not to act too surprised or taken off-guard by any questions as this is common procedure and as a funeral home you are accustomed to it.  In addition, I told her to not answer any questions too quickly and if necessary put them on hold and email me (or use messenger) to tell me what was going on and how I could help overcome any doubts that they might have.  I explained putting them on hold would probably be normal/natural as you would have to look up the file. If they asked any other questions to probe for truthfulness, I told her she could comment that it was very sad as it was a small child who died.

She was scared and I was scared too. I convinced her well enough that she agreed to it. I then called the Houston Chronicle and gave them okay to run it and gave them her phone number.  For the next hour or so, we kept emailing/chatting about any progress.

Initially when I told her about this she was okay because everyone at her office was at lunch and she was the only one there. But after awhile their lunch ended and they came back. She was worried how it would look if she was taking personal calls at work and answering “Thanks for calling such-and-such Funeral Home, how can I help you.”

Time went by and still nothing. I never got a phone call either saying there were problems or asking for another phone number or email since it was outside the U.S.

It was getting later and later, to the point that I was now officially off the clock and even though I only had a five-minute drive home I didn’t want to go “dark” for that time, since of course that is when they’d call. She also needed to leave work.

We agreed to a brief separation and I told her I’d be back online as soon as I got home.

It was a mad dash home and perhaps the fastest I’d ever logged on.

When she eventually got back online she hadn’t heard anything. I explained maybe the person had to go or maybe it was forwarded to a group who specialized in calling.

I profusely thanked her and told her to do the same thing in the morning and to be on the lookout for one of three Houston area codes.

We then hung up for the night.

I was stumped. I had no idea what to expect.

The next day came and Tom and I went to the store on lunch to check out the newspaper.

Lo and behold, here is what we found in the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday, May 22, 2002:


It worked! It was published. I contacted Brendaliz to see if they contacted her later that night. They never did. I believe it is their policy to weed out those who would have the audacity and the nerve to trivialize death. But I also think that when they inform callers of that, those who are faking it bow out quickly and are never heard from again. It’s possible that they saw it was a number in Puerto Rico and have a no-call policy outside the U.S. Perhaps, they just looked up the funeral home online to make sure it existed and once they saw it they were good.

I have no idea what went on (or didn’t go on) but at least the obituary was published.

Maid Appleton would be recognized.

But the obituary story doesn’t end there.

All obituaries stay up on for a certain amount of time at which time they are lost forever. A few days or a week before that deadline I got the email informing me of such. We now had another decision: (A) let it expire or (B) pay the fee to have it online forever. I think we each gave the same look “online forever”.

We paid the fee and now you can see the original obituary and the comments here.

Meet Maid Appleton

Maid Appleton was born to travel.

This site is specifically for that reason…that everyone may see where she has been.

Look, taste, learn, share, and enjoy!!


This Site Is Intended For Those who Love to Drink Juice as well as those who love to travel. Got Comments? Email Me Here


When looking around the site, keep in mind the following color code.


   Places visited   

   Places NOT yet visited   

“Old” and “New” Names

While growing up, whether it was while traveling with my family or while learning geography, I was always curious about why a number of places had “New” in the name, but none seemed to have “Old”.

As I had the opportunity to further travel for work and pleasure, the listed “New” and inferred “Old” became more apparent.

In case you are wondering how many instances of this there are, wonder no more. I’ve created this handy table to help out.


Old vs. New

A list of places by their "Old" and "New" names.
"Old" NameLocation"New" NameLocation
BraunfelsCity north of Frankfurt GermanyNew BraunfelsCity northeast of San Antonio, TX, USA
BraunschweigCity in state of Lower Saxony, GermanyNew BrunswickProvince in Eastern Canada
BrightonCity in England, U.K.New BrightonNeighborhood on north shore of Staten Island, NY, USA
CaledoniaNorthern part of Scotland (today)New CaledoniaSouth Pacific
DelhiNorthern IndiaNew DelhiNorthern India
EnglandCountry in EuropeNew EnglandRegion in USA comprising Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
GloucesterCity in Massachusetts, USANew GloucesterCity in Maine, USA
HampshireCity Southwest of London, EnglandNew HampshireState in Northeastern USA
Hyde ParkPark in London, EnglandNew Hyde ParkArea in Long Island, NY, USA
JerseyIsland in English ChannelNew JerseyState south of New York in Northeastern USA
LondonCity in EnglandNew LondonCity in New Hampshire, USA
MexicoCountry south of USANew MexicoState in USA that borders Mexico
WindsorCity west of London, EnglandNew WindsorTown in New York, USA
YorkNorthern EnglandNew YorkState in Northeastern USA
ZeelandSW of South Holland in the NetherlandsNew ZealandSouth Pacific


If you have any editions, send us an email and let us know!!

Biggest Maid Appleton Regret

Although it started as an in-office joke with the hiding of a juice box between co-workers (actually between employee and supervisor) Maid Appleton’s travels took off very quickly. I worked in a high travel position, where at times I was on the road 90-95% of the time. My supervisor, although not as travel-bound, also had plenty of travel opportunities.

At times co-workers served as travel companions as we ended up in the same city or at the same site for work, but for the most part it was me and Maid Appleton.

Over the years people have asked if I have any regrets doing it.

First and foremost I have no idea why I’d regret placing a juice box in my carry-on and taking it with me. The people asked me as though the purpose of my travels was for the juice box and therefore it was a waste of money. But since I was traveling on the company dime, why would there ever be any regrets.

But at some point, in fact almost at the point of it being “too late” did I realize I had one regret: not having a digital camera.

I’ve never been an “early adopter” for most things since I think they are over-priced. Digital cameras was one of those things. A roommate I had in the late 1990s was into technology and he had a digital camera. It was one of the newer ones and although at the time it was probably sophisticated, it was still early enough that I recall common consensus being that film cameras were still the best. My roommate echoed these sentiments. As such, I stuck with my tried-and-true film camera. But something was happening.


In the mid to late 1990s digital cameras became common among consumers. By the mid-2000s digital cameras had largely replaced film cameras, and higher-end cell phones had an integrated digital camera. By the beginning of the 2010s almost all smartphones had an integrated digital camera.  –Wikipedia


Unfortunately, as technology advanced my mindset was stuck on my roommate’s initial evaluation. After each trip I’d drop my film off at Walmart to be developed while I was preparing for my next trip. This happened from late 2000 to the end of 2003, when my traveling job came to an end.

From 2003 to 2007 I made additional trips and still had the film camera.

Then in 2007, due to equal parts tired of paying for film developing and tired of getting back blurry prints, I dropped $656.48 on a digital camera (which is still the camera I used for Maid Appleton). I probably spent that much in getting film developed (and that is probably not an underestimate!).

When the first photos came out on my camera, the reality of what happened or didn’t happen over the years hit me hard. It was disappointing and frustrating.

I’m sure anyone who has ever had a film camera can agree. You take a photo and since you can’t immediately see the result (unless you have a Polaroid) you decide to take another one “just to be safe”. And sometimes at the end of the roll you get an extra photo or your worried that it will ‘eat’ the last one. So you put in a new roll and the first photo is a fail-safe backup for the last roll. So a 24-exposure roll can theoretically be a 12-exposure roll. When you go to get it developed you still have to pay for all 24 exposures, even if they totally suck. Well, that’s what I did. I guess my options were to refuse to pay and be photo-less or pay and at least have something.

Digital cameras changed all that. The only limits were the memory cards.

I don’t feel like I’ve wasted any time on the Maid Appleton project. But I’ve wasted a lot by not having a digital camera.

I have no idea if I’ll ever make it back so some of the places I went during my high-travel days, but I could have had so many better photographs if I had only listened to people, done better research, and got out of my head the idea that my roommate that “film is still better than digital”.  That was true for a time when digital first came out, but digital quickly surpassed film.

And I missed it.

For some of my earlier visits, maybe 2 or 3 photos were “good enough” to use on the site, whereas in recent years I took 1,000+ photos on one trip to the Dominican Republic. I have my pick of photos I want to use.

That is my only regret. Not getting a digital camera sooner.

But, my mistake can be your gain. If you see photos that are extremely blurry, consider taking a juice box to that location and taking a better photo. In some cases, there’s no way you can fail. In other cases, it might be a near-identical photo of what I have except that it shows the passage of time in the photo.





Life-extending surgery on Maid Appleton

Initially the juice box was brand-spanking new. The outside was properly formed and the Tetra-pak lining was intact. But as with all things, wear and tear started to take place. The box started leaking.

We had a decision to make?

Do we (A) continue with the original box and if so, how do we further preserve it, or (B) do we abandon the original box and get ‘stand-ins’ and therefore have multiple back-ups.

We decided on “A”, continuing with the original box.

Tom came up with the idea to use plaster-of-paris to preserve the box. With the method in place, we now just needed to do the surgery.

Here are the steps in the plasterification surgery.

  1. Remove the existing juice (or blood or life-force) of Maid Appleton. This was preserved.op1

  2. Mix the existing juice with the plaster-of-paris to preserve her original life-force.op2

  3. Insert the plaster-of-paris into the original juice box.op3

  4. Use common household items to form the juice box in place until it hardens.

  5. After the plaster-of-paris sets, continue the traveling adventures with Maid Appleton.


With the operation a success, Maid Appleton now had a solid, cement-like core. She was impenetrable to outside forces. Nothing was going to stop her now.