We often find our treasures in unexpected venues


It’s been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.Texas Christian University professor Jeff Ferrell embodies that axiom.
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Ferrell has somewhat adopted the persona of a modern-day Robin Hood, as far as his habit of taking from one source and providing to another. The difference — and it’s a pretty big difference, mind you — is that he does not take from the rich. No, Ferrell takes from the, well, trash.

The sociology professor sifts through Dumpsters on a fairly regular basis, and gives the majority of what he finds to friends or those in need, according to a Reuters story. He said he has filled a tool shed with everything from screws to power tools, gets all his soap and office supplies from the trash and keeps a list of his friends’ shoes and clothing sizes so he can get them “gifts” when he comes across formerly-discarded treasures.

“I think it’s appalling on the level of just sheer waste and full landfills,” said Ferrell. “I think it’s also profoundly disturbing given the level of need in our society.”

There is no doubt that we are a wasteful society. A new iPhone comes out and half of us discard the perfectly-good ones we already have just to get the new phone. We cook more food than we’ll ever eat, switch out wardrobes as quickly as fashion trends tell us to do so and toss out containers and other items that could be completely useful in the future if we just washed them out when we were done with them. In this “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” society of ours, it has become “what-is-new-that-can-do-something-for-me.”

That being said, I would rather dip my head in a vat of honey and shove it in a bee hive than crawl into a Dumpster. I would rather have Bob Bertram bellydance for me on my birthday than crawl into a Dumpster. I would rather have Harry Steele ...

But I digress. None of us wanted to really know where I was going to end up with the Harry reference.

Regardless, even though I personally would not want to go to the extremes that Ferrell is going, you have to admire the message he is imparting on his students regarding waste. We can make all the legislation we want regarding recycling and other environmental initiatives. There truly won’t be any change in personal behavior until we effectively teach people the gravity of their actions. Still, I went back and read this story and came to one overriding conclusion: Eww.

Of course, there are other instances when people discard items on purpose. And that purpose sometimes is a positive one.

We’ve all seen the people ringing the bell at a Salvation Army kettle around the holidays. You know, those people standing outside the store when you are walking in and you busy yourself with your cell phone to avoid making eye contact because you don’t happen to have any change in your pocket? Yeah, those people.

Well, a Salvation Army employee in the Kansas City area was recently going through one of the kettles and found something wrapped in paper. Officials from the Salvation Army told Reuters that the employee originally thought he found a piece of garbage in the kettle until he opened it and found a 3/4-carat diamond staring back at him. The Salvation Army took it to an appraiser, who told them that the diamond was cut about 100 years ago, and had a value of $2,000.

Not a bad nugget to be donating, huh?

Maybe the smarter move for the sociology professor would be to go searching in Salvation Army kettles for lost treasures. Actually, the more I think about it, that would probably be frowned upon by basically everybody, huh? Never mind.

Of course, the entire Salvation Army fundraising effort is based on the spirit of giving, and one man in China jumped into that spirit in a different way as he prepared for his son’s wedding.

Zhang Cheng originally wanted to go the more traditional route and hire a band for his son’s wedding, according to a Reuters story, but went a different direction by hiring two strippers, instead. Word got around the village pretty quickly, as one might imagine, and hundreds of people stormed the wedding hoping to get a glimpse of, well, a glimpse, according to the story.

Zhang was arrested the next day, according to the Global Times, though the newspaper did not say on what charges. I’m personally voting for “soliciting nudity in a nation that can not afford married people to get excited.”

I’m also thinking that word got around the village via Twitter, but my follow-up joke is far too inappropriate for the paper.