“Tell me, O Muse, of that resourceful man . . .” Homer, The Odyssey Book I

That’s what this country needs, resourceful men. And women. Take this fellow Odysseus, or Ulysses, as he’s sometimes called. He wasn’t some WWF muscle-head; he used his wits to get the job done. This is the guy who built the Trojan Horse. Oh, there were lots of so called “heroes” in the Trojan war. There was Achilles, famous for his tendons, and Ajax, known far and wide for his foaming cleanser. But it took a wisenheimer like Odysseus to outsmart the Trojans and win the war. Later on, when he was sailing home, he and his men were captured by a cyclops. But he was clever enough to pull the wool over the eyes, er, eye of Polyphemus, the cyclops, by popping him limits headlight and then telling him his name was “Nobody.” So when his neighbor cyclopses asked him what all the ruckus was about,  Polyphemus said “Nobody poked me in the eye.” And they all said, “whatever.” See that’s a classic – and classical – example of the kind of real life savvy that, . . .  OK, hold on a minute, I’m being told that the Odyssey is actually fictional. So forget that example.

Homer, The Odyssey.   Ulysses (Odysseus) killing the Suitors of his wife Penelope on the island of Ithaca

How about Magellan? He was the first guy to circumnavigate the globe, right? Wrong, he was killed in the Philippines. It seems that the majority of his crew starved to death crossing the Pacific because nobody knew how big it really was. So when Magellan made it to dry land he thought he was about the coolest sailor ever. He proceeded to get in a fight with some native tribesmen and figured, “I’m Magellan, nobody can mess with me.” Unfortunately there was a guy with a spear who hadn’t heard how cool he was. So the man who actually ended up piloting the ship that circumnavigated the globe was one of his subordinates, Juan Sebastian Elcano. Never heard of him, right? The king of Spain gave him a coat of arms and everything. Three years later he signed on to lead a similar expedition and died on the Pacific crossing. You know, I guess neither one of those guys was too swift. So never mind about them.

The real “resourceful man” we should be celebrating this time of year is Willis Haviland Carrier. No, he didn’t invent the aircraft carrier as some of you vo-tech grads are thinking. Over a hundred years ago, Carrier was working as an engineer in a factory in Buffalo,and as part of his long range career plan – to get the heck out of Buffalo – he started tinkering with refrigeration techniques.  Next thing you know, boom, he invented the air conditioner. When you think about the great inventions in history – the electric light, movable type, Playstation 4, the chill strip at Rock Bottom – you have to rank A/C right at the top of the list. Without it, no one could live in the Sun belt. The whole state of Arizona would have to pack up it’s car and drive back to Buffalo or Detroit or McKees Rocks with the windows open. So, any time you’re feeling kind of cool, let your muse tell you about Willis H. Carrier, that resourceful man.

Comments – DickVerbo@hotmail.com

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