Instead of doing real, productive work, I often find myself pondering half-baked philosophical questions that if answered would certainly propel us no further toward our ultimate destiny — unless our destiny is to ponder goofy philosophical questions.

Lately I’ve been wondering about opportunity in the classical philosophical forest question format: if an opportunity arises in the woods and no one is there to seize it, is it still an opportunity? Well, it most certainly is, as we define opportunity as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.” However, it is a lost opportunity.

Sadly, the world is awash in lost opportunities, simply because we were not aware that they existed. In a small way I am here to remedy this sad situation, to let you know that I have 150 gallons of used vegetable oil that a certain spouse has expressed her desire that I somehow dispossess — the used oil, not the spouse. Obviously this constitutes a problem for me, but what is my predicament is also your opportunity. With the holiday gift-giving season coming, surely you can think of a few people on your list that deserve a hundred gallons or more of used vegetable fryer oil.

How did I come to collect all this vegetable oil? Some of it came from my donut operation (which is another story) and some came from a restaurant as the only compensation I received in exchange for a year of extended slave labor. It happened because I’m a dreamer. I dreamed that I would set up a small operation in one of my sheds where I would chemically (or magically if you aren’t scientifically inclined) transform the oil into biodiesel or home heating oil or, failing that, tiki torch fuel.

No matter, the oil is mine and I am willing to give it up to someone who is more of a doer and less of a dreamer, someone who can seize an opportunity even if it has arisen here in the Maine woods.

I would of course like to sell it but as the price of petroleum has dropped, so has the market for used vegetable oil, to the point where I will accept a pledge to donate to any legitimate environmental cause in place of payment.


Yes, am in trouble here, but all trouble is relative, as Samsung, that South Korean maker of dishwashers and cell phones is going to have 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7 phones to dispose of if everyone who is using one in the United States turns them in after the total recall they issued in September. It makes you wonder what Samsung’s spouse has to say about that.

Of course people continue to use them because they’re great phones and there is only a very, very small chance that they will burn down your home or explode in your pocket. People also continue to use cars, which are far more likely to hurt you than a Galaxy Note 7, and that’s why the airlines won’t let you carry-on your car or a Galaxy Note 7 on any domestic or international flight.

People will be turning them in because Samsung plans to annoy owners with a pop-up every time the screen is turned on and with a software tweak that will limit the battery to 60 percent capacity. This should also cut down the force of any explosion by 40 percent which, as Martha Stewart would say, “is a good thing.”

Again, all this is a problem for someone else but also a great opportunity: 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7 phones contain about 92 thousand dollars’ worth of copper, 182 thousand dollars’ worth of silver, 393 thousand dollars’ worth of palladium and about 1.3 million dollars’ worth of gold.

I think I could design and build a mechanical/chemical process to recycle the phones and recover the elements for under a million dollars and keep the other million for lunch money — but then again, I’m the guy who dreamed I could turn vegetable oil into biodiesel in a reasonable amount of time. A guy can dream a lot but can only do so much.

Contact me if you want the vegetable oil, and I guess you’ll have to contact Samsung if you want the phones. The chance to get your hands on this much oil is indeed an opportunity that you shouldn’t let slip away.