Friday, August 31, 2012

Older, Wiser, Weirder

We all have heard the adage "wisdom comes with age", haven't we?  How about the more subtle quote of Robert Frost, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ?

There are actually a number of  quotes that support the idea that we gain wisdom as we grow older.

When I can look Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange - my youth.
~Sara Teasdale

So...If I have gotten the gist of all these quotes, when my youth and vitality are shot to hell,  I can cling to the one positive thing that is keeping me afloat and that is that I will be wiser than I was when I was young and had a rockin' body.  HMMMM...I am not sure that is an even trade off.

So in my effort to be coldly wise, I have learned a few new things. I don't suppose there are any adages concerning "great wisdom comes from surfing the net".

One of the things I learned today.

Whales and Waste

I was reading  an article about a boy in England that could be considerably richer thanks to finding a solidified piece of whale vomit he found lying on the beach. While the chunk looks like a yellow-brownish rock, it is, in fact, a valuable piece of ambergris. Ambergris is an expensive ingredient spewed out by whales that is used in perfumes.

Charlie Naysmith found the loaf-sized rock at Hengistbury Head off the the coast of England and after researching his find, his family realized that it could be worth as much as $63,000.

Ambergris is a waxy, bile-like substance that builds up in the intestines of sperm whales, apparently to ease the passage of hard material such as squid beaks through a whale's digestive tract. It's often characterized as whale vomit, and although that's fine as a family-friendly description, the stuff is more widely thought to come out of the whale's back end rather than its front end.

The scent of ambergris is what makes it so valuable. The substance has been used as an incense, fragrance, flavoring, remedy or aphrodisiac in many cultures, going back to ancient Egypt and China. Herman Melville devoted a whole chapter of "Moby Dick"  to a discussion of ambergris and how highly prized it was in 19th-century society. "Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale!" Melville wrote.

Fresh ambergris smells like fresh whale poop, but after seasoning and hardening in the ocean it takes on a more delicate odor.  It is sometimes compared to the smell of tobacco or old churches. According to Christopher Kemp, a biologist who has written a book about ambergris called Floating Gold, says "the problem with describing the smell of ambergris is that it really only smells like ambergris

Well, before you go out and try to find a whale that has left some rather valuable poop on the beach, it is illegal in some parts of the world to sell it due to endangered whale laws.  Charlie is a lucky boy as there are no restrictions in England.

Speaking of Poo

Fort Collins, CO- The maker of Fat Tire beer says it's using a reserve water supply because the water in northern Colorado's Poudre (pronounced POO-der) River has become tainted by the wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of acres in June.

New Belgium Brewery objected when it was told it would soon have to go back to using water from the river.  The company says if that happens, it would kill the flavor of the beer and make it undrinkable.

 So if they go back to getting water from Poudre pronounced  Poo-der River, the beer is going to taste like Sh**.  How appropriate.

Winners and Losers

 Atlantic City casino is suing 14 gamblers who raked in more than $1.5 million in winnings after realizing that eight decks of cards had not been preshuffled and kept producing the same sequence of cards, over and over.
The gamblers kept raising their bets -- from $10 a hand to $5,000 -- and scored 41 consecutive winning hands of baccarat in April, the Associated Press reports.
As the payouts mounted, Golden Nugget Atlantic City flooded the area with security teams, convinced that someone was cheating, but were unable to figure out how.
In the end, the casino let nine of the gamblers cash out $558,900. The rest still have $977,800 in chips.
In its lawsuit, the casino cites state gambling regulations requiring all casino games to offer fair odds — to both sides. (really?  Would the casino be griping if the odds had been in their favor?  Seriously??)
The casino's lawsuit argues that the gamblers and the casino both began the game believing it was legal and proper — until the players kept winning repeatedly.
Benjamin Dash, a lawyer for the gamblers, counters that his clients did nothing wrong and deserve to be paid.
"The Golden Nugget appealed to gamblers to come in and play games licensed and sanctioned by the state of New Jersey," he says. "My clients did exactly that, and then were denied their winnings. There is absolutely no law in New Jersey that would permit the Golden Nugget to declare the game illegal because it failed to provide shuffled cards."
The casino also asserts in its lawsuit that Gemaco Inc., a Missouri playing card manufacturer, acknowledged it had provided a defective shipment of cards that were not preshuffled.

Are you wondering what I learned that would make me "coldly wise" from this story? I learned if I ever start winning big at a New Jersey casino, something is flags go up...can't happen without a  mistake being made. 

One last story...

There is a Difference Between
Being Wise and Being Crafty

 New Mexico corrections officers say an inmate escaped his jail cell by breaking a window bar with a razor blade and a Popsicle stick but changed his mind once he got outside.
Carlos Garcia told police it took about five months to break the bar on his cell window at the Lea County jail with those materials. He also used plastic, newspaper and more Popsicle sticks to fashion a fake window.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that Garcia changed his mind and climbed back into his second-story cell using a bed sheet.
"He said that sometimes he does crazy things, and he kind of acted like he didn't know what he had done," Stone said. "But then he admitted to doing it."
Garcia has been moved to a maximum-security ward at the state penitentiary. He is serving time for two murder convictions and other crimes.

Even if I make it to 100...I am not sure that I can make a window out of Popsicle sticks, newspaper, and least not good enough to fool corrections officers. When he said he sometimes does crazy stuff, was he referring to the murders, the jail break, or the climbing back in the window after the escape?