Fish Eyes, More on Mushrooms, Estate Sales

Hey, Matt: Why is it that when I am swimming in the ocean or a pool and I open my eyes underwater it’s all blurry. Fish, birds, and marine mammals seem to be able to see clearly enough underwater. When I look from the surface it is clear or look through a glass into water I can see fine (snorkeling). What gives? — Aquaman in OB

I’m not sure why you figure you should be able to see underwater just because a trout can. They have trout eyes. You have people eyes. You can’t breathe underwater the way a trout can, but you don’t question that. So, let’s adjust our basic thinking here and travel back, back, back to that physics class you slept through.

Remember the old spoon-in-the-water-glass trick? Above the waterline the spoon is in one place, below the waterline it’s in another? The classic light-bending demonstration. Light waves bend when they move from a medium of one density to a medium of another. Okay? Okay. People eyes are designed to focus light coming through the air and into their eyeballs. Trout? Through water into their eyeballs. So, when people eyes look through water, things are all fuzzy and out of focus.

Imagine you’re hanging around the beach, digging the chicks. Your corneas and optic muscles are doing their jobs. Focusing on a nearby beach beauty calls for a corneal curve of a particular degree. Then you spot a jiggling jogger near the water’s edge. Optic muscles adjust your cornea to bring details of the distant cutie into sharp focus. Light waves bouncing off the ladies have passed through air, hit your much denser cornea, which then bent them just enough so when they pass through the final lenses inside your eyes, pictures of the fine females register sharply on your retinas, zip to your brain, and make you a happy man.

But it’s getting hot. Time to hit the surf. Open your eyes underwater and light waves bouncing off the lovely honey swimming by are moving through water, much denser than air. When the light hits your almost equally dense corneas, your optic muscles can’t bend your corneas properly, the internal lenses can’t make up the difference, and your retinas register an unfocused bunch of rays and a blurry beach beauty.

So, what have we learned today? If you’re not a trout, don’t compare yourself to a trout. You’ll always come up short.

Good News About Dusting Your Mushrooms

From Mr. Mushroom, Steve Farrar, comes an addendum to our discussion a few weeks ago. At that time, the questioner was aghast at eating something grown in horse manure, though we assured him it was steam-pasteurized manure, which might not have been quite the answer he was hoping for. Anyway, the fact that we confined our discussion to common household button mushrooms spurred Mr. Farrar to educate us on the secret lives of the fancy kinds, whose stalks never touch anything as common as horse poop, apparently.

“Other cultivated species such as maitake, shiitake, oyster, shimeji, and enoki are grown without the use of any manures at all.… Commercially, these mushrooms are grown on a mixture of sawdusts, brans, meals, spent brewers’ grains, etc., that are generally sterilized (autoclaved) with steam and pressure prior to planting or inoculating.… Right here in San Marcos, certified 100 percent organic Maitake, King Trumpet (king oyster), and beech (shimeji) mushrooms are grown in a very high-tech, robotic facility.… Due to the sterilization (as opposed to mere pasteurization) of the growing media, the absence of manures and soils in the growing media, the extremely hygienic production methodologies, and the sealed packaging of the mushrooms, it is not even necessary to wash or rinse these mushrooms before using them.”

Can You Buy an Estate at an Estate Sale?

Okay, okay. My snide answer about the difference between an estate sale and a garage sale has ruffled lots of garage-shoppers’ feathers. Maybe I’m so cynical that I figure anybody with a Big Wheel, a kiddie pool, and four boxes of stained T-shirts to sell might buy himself a preprinted “Estate Sale” sign and nail it to a phone pole just to lure bargain hunters to his lawn, hoping for fine-looking goods. That’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who would do that. According to several experts (I guess), an estate sale can be quite a formal affair, involving lawyers and paperwork and everything. It’s the disposal of a dead man’s goods. Maybe the dead man only had a Big Wheel, a kiddie pool, and T-shirts, but when they go on sale it’s an official estate sale. “Garage Sale,” “Yard Sale,” and the like — well, that’s a Big Wheel sold by somebody who’s alive. My apologies to those involved in the great estate-sale business.

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That's a pretty good definition, "it’s the disposal of a dead man’s goods". The man doesn't necessarily have to be dead, however. He may just be moving into a care facility. In any event, when I hear the word "estate sale" I immediately think "they're selling all his stuff".

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