Monday, July 26, 2010


I remember on my first trip to Atlantic City, David A. gave our group $10 to put on the roulette wheel - I think number 32. We did and, amazingly enough, he won. $350 bucks. Which, amazingly, we gave to him. Needless to say, no future roulette single number bet has ended the same for me which is why I don't consider betting on roulette a sound gamble.

But I know what the limit is for a bet as potentially foolhardy as that roulette bet is: $20. I am, generally speaking, willing to throw away $20 for the chance that it wasn't thrown away. Let me explain.

Vanilla beans are expensive. $2-$5 a bean expensive. Even if you are, say, a popular restaurant owned by a famous chef, you're still paying about $.60 per bean. Companies outdo each other in the marketing departments trying to dream up new copy to justify the price of vanilla, but in the end, you still wince as you cut into one for something as pedestrian as vanilla ice cream or pound cake. So, about five years ago, I asked the internet to help. And help the internet did. It found me a company that had at least gone to the trouble of getting SSL who was selling vanilla beans: 100 of them for $20. So, one of four things could happen: 1. The company takes my money and I never see anything in return; 2. Something arrives in the mail, but it isn't a vanilla bean, it's probably a monkey turd; 3. It's a vanilla bean all right, but it tastes like ashtray; 4. Through some blip in the universe, these people have found a way to sell me a vanilla bean for $.20.

It was 4. I STILL HAVE some of those beans (though I think now they're a little too brittle for delicate application). I was swimming in beans. I made vanilla extract with tons of beans and then because I had so much vanilla extract, I started handing it out as gifts with, you guessed it, a vanilla bean tied to the side of the glass. I don't know how these people did it and I don't much care. It was a $20 gamble that paid off huge.

Which is why this morning when I was sniffing around for some yarn for an upcoming project and I found said yarn, albeit in a discontinued color, for 1/5 the retail price, I bought it. The company wanted $20. Now, it is possible I'll never see the yarn, or the yarn will have goat's blood on it, or some other such calamity. But it was worth $20 to find out. Because if it's legit, I've saved myself $80 on this project. And if it isn't, I guess I'll make up the difference on my next order of vanilla.

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