If you thought that reading the terms and conditions on your next travel purchase is enough to keep you out of trouble, meet Thomas Hanko.
Q: I recently paid a $2,060 deposit to rent a home in Aruba through VRBO. Before I was sent a copy of the lease, I realized that the rental didn't have enough room for our party of 10, and I notified the owner that I wanted to cancel.
Q: I booked a round-trip ticket from Buffalo, N.Y., to Chennai, India, on Continental Airlines, just before it merged with United Airlines. I used Expedia to make the reservation. I completed the one-way trip but due to a family medical issue, I had to cancel the return. I called Expedia and…
"I think she's one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world," confessed Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC, as part of his announcement that his network is making a miniseries about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with Diane Lane in the starring role.
Q: Are these paintings by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) of any value?
Q: While traveling through Pennsylvania on a college tour with our daughter, my husband and I made a reservation for two nights at a Super 8 through Hotels.com
"My rival in this race," President Obama announced early in 2007, "is not other candidates. It's cynicism." Sadly, it's now evident cynicism won.
Q: Can you comment on these antiques that have been handed down through the family? I also need the name of a reputable appraiser in my area.
Q: I recently attended a job fair in Marietta, Ga. Because I was unsure of the number and date of interviews I would have at the event, I decided to book a room for one night at the Hyatt.
If Tom Wolfe were writing "The Bonfire of the Vanities" today, he'd need a scene in the Grand Havana Room in New York City. It's an Olympian den fit for what Wolfe called "masters of the universe," the super-rich gods of finance who today go by "the 1 percent."
Rand Paul is the most interesting contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And I mean that in the broadest sense.
Q: I made a reservation at the Comfort Inn in Troutdale, Ore., this fall, and received a confirmation number. At that time I was told that the hotel was in the process of being sold and would become a Holiday Inn Express and the reservation would be honored.
Q: I have about 200 Madame Alexander dolls (with boxes) to sell. How do I find doll auctions in my area?
President Obama wants to make government "smarter." Who could disagree with that? Whether you're an anarchist, a Leninist or somewhere in between, everyone can agree that Uncle Sam could afford a few more IQ points.
Q: Several years ago, family members aged 91 and 95 died and left me a lot of things that I have no idea regarding value. Can you give me a clue? I'll pay for your appraisals.
Q: I recently had to have jaw surgery, and my doctor recommended that I cancel a planned flight on Delta Air Lines. I submitted a request through my travel agency, but it refused to refund the ticket because it had a policy that tickets are nonrefundable, except in cases of illness or death.
You just can't out-gloom an environmentalist. The Atlantic invited some luminaries to answer the question "How and when will the world end?" Some contributions were funny. Others simply plausible - a volcanic eruption from underneath Yellowstone National Park is frightfully overdue.
Q: Any info on my vase marked, "Made in Japan"? It seems to be clay and is 11 1/2 inches tall. Note that the surface is not smooth.
Q: I recently applied for and received a co-branded credit card from Chase and AARP. The card had an introductory offer of 5 percent (cash back) for the first six months of card usage. I used the card and earned 201,780 points. Every single charge was legitimate, and I have receipts. Further…
When your grandmother gets some bad news, do you tell her: "Well, at least you have your abortion rights"?
For an activist, Kathleen Glueck is exceptionally polite. When speaking, she reflexively checks her tone, careful to not monopolize a conversation.
Q: I am currently sitting on a deck overlooking a park at a hospice facility while my mother lies in her bed taking a morphine nap. She will die in a couple of days.
Q: This old oak rocker was painted black. I had it stripped. How can I sell it? It's marked "Wisconsin Chair Co." and "1896."
OK, young'ns, here's your chance. In two consecutive elections, you've carried Barack Obama to victory. You voted for Obama by a margin of 66 percent to 32 percent in 2008, and, despite a horrendous economy for people your age, by nearly that much again in 2012.
Q: My mother bought this folding bed in the 1970s. It's marked "Bednet," but I can't find any info online. Is it a Murphy bed?
'Why are there no libertarian countries?" In a much-discussed essay for Salon magazine, Michael Lind asks: "If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century i…
Q: I got this fireman's trumpet, badge and bell at an estate sale and would like to know what they're worth. I was told the bell was used going to a fire.
Q: I recently rented a car from Budget in Ontario, Calif. When I returned the vehicle, a representative claimed that I scraped the bottom of the front bumper on the passenger side of the car.
The U.S. government is trying "to create a database of every 'phone' call ever made."
Q: I was given this three-handled cider jug by friends in England long ago. I was told that it's very old. There are no marks, but I think it's unique because it is flawless. Any info?
Q: I recently prepaid for a rental car using Priceline's "name your own price" option. I was given a car through Avis - or at least that's what I thought.
'This war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands."
Q: Any info on this antique lamp I bought at an estate sale? There was no information furnished with it. I thought it was pretty. It's 27 inches tall, not including the chimney.
Q: My husband rented a car from Hertz in Madrid last summer. The car broke down while he was on his way back to the airport, and he had to abandon it by the side of the road in order to make his flight back to the States.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Q: I found three vintage sports pennants from the 1940s, but I can't find value for them. There's a reference book on pennant prices, but who wants to spend $18.95 for something you use once?
Q: I'm trying to help my sister get a refund on her daughter's nonrefundable airline ticket. Her daughter went to Spain in January as an exchange student. Her return was scheduled for May 29.
Of course the president deserves some of the blame. Yes, it's extremely unlikely he ordered the IRS to discriminate against tea party, pro-life or Jewish groups opposed to his agenda (though why anyone should take his word for it is beyond me). And his outrage now - however convenient - is a…
Q: Many years ago, we bought a Japp's potato-chip can at a flea market. Does it have any value?
Q: I have a concern that I tried addressing with a specific Days Inn and with Wyndham, which owns Days Inn, but have not received a response. I recently stayed at the Days Inn in Fernandina Beach, Fla. I made a reservation for a nonsmoking room and was given a smoking room when I checked it.
'Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference - at this point, what difference does it make?"
Q: We were recently scheduled to sail on a seven-day Carnival cruise to Mexico. A few minutes after we boarded in Long Beach, Calif., I had horrible kidney pains. I couldn't walk, and felt as if I was going to pass out.
Q: I bought some beautiful paintings in Germany decades ago. I need to assess personal property for insurance purposes and all I can give my agent are rough guesses on their purchase price, which I think is far less than today's value.
Is the American body politic suffering from an autoimmune disease?
Q: We read in your column about a Yuan Dynasty porcelain that sold at auction for $1.3 million. My relative lives in Taiwan and collects porcelains. He believes he has a Yuan item. How can I authenticate his claim and determine its value?
Q: I saw a small Pairpoint "puffy" lamp with lilacs, flowers and butterflies on the 8-inch shade. The base is tree-shaped brass. What is the price range for this fine specimen?
Q: I recently booked two tickets through an online travel agency for my husband and me to fly to the Philippines. When I got his ticket, I noticed that "Jr." was missing from his name. I went back to the site and saw there was no space provided where I can put a "Jr."
Q: Your column carried a photo of a Ben Franklin-signed deed that sold for $13,200. We have a document signed 1811 that grants land in Ohio to a family member. It's signed in two places by President James Madison and once by Secretary of State James Monroe. Is this of similar value? Should w…
Q: My fiancée and I are planning our wedding in Jamaica this summer and are using a travel agent to book our guests and us. We're also using the travel agent for our honeymoon at a different resort on the island. We will be in Jamaica for two weeks. There are about 40 people booked at this t…
Are Brad Paisley and Rand Paul the bravest men in America?