That Fills The Bill

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My recent host and hostess were not interested in money.

I took along a few foreign bills, and odd coinage, to show them.  There was some vague interest in the mis-cut American $1 bill, the somewhat rare American $2, and some chuckles over the ‘Slick Willy’ Bill Clinton $3 fake bill.  The lack of interest may have been because he’s a soldier who has been posted all over the world, and seen much of these firsthand.

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The interest ramped up when I showed the collection to her younger son and his girlfriend.  We played a game of, ‘You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.’  Only partly because his step-father is a soldier, he has amassed a promising collection.  Going through my catalogue, we found a British Armed Forces, £1 occupational scrip which Rants might have been interested in.

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He kindly offered to let me take any of his bills and coins, because he merely keeps them, not mounts and displays, as I do.  He had 16 or more countries’ bills.  I could have asked for all of it, but restrained myself to three countries that he had duplicates of.

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As luck would have it, they’re all from the same general area of the world.  The Indian 10 Rupee, and the Sri Lankan 20 Rupee, are both paper, and printed about the year 2000.  The Singaporean $2 is newer, and made of polymer plastic with all kinds of security features that prevented me from taking a photocopy of it.  I did my usual money laundering, and washed and ironed them.  Singapore had a hard fold in the center, which even mild heat wouldn’t flatten completely out.

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Pawing through his coins, suddenly I had British King George V looking up at me from a large coin.  I knew it wasn’t Canadian.  Might it be from England – or Jamaica – or Australia??  Turning it over, I was amazed to find that it was a 1919 Newfoundland Half Dollar.

Newfy 50 TailsNewfy 50 Heads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I explained to him that Newfoundland was the 10th province of Canada, but didn’t join
Confederation until 1949.  Until then, they had their own coins and bills, minted and printed in England.  I have long wanted at least one Newfy coin to add to my collection.  Not produced for almost 70 years, I had long ago given up much hope of finding any.

Since he didn’t even know what it was, and it plainly meant something to me, he insisted that I take it.  A caring mother has obviously raised a kind and generous child.  Before I left, BrainRants gave me a quarter-sized United Arab Emirates 1 Rial coin, which he didn’t obtain while he was serving in the army, but rather, he found it, going to work on the bus, in cosmopolitan Washington DC.

Rial

I have many other foreign bills that I will publish pictures of in a post one day, as soon as I work off the procrastination.  Till then, I am always happy to have you visit.  Come again, y’hear!   😀

Where’s Willy

No! That title isn’t for a porno-lite blog post.  There are people and websites that allow you to track the movements of certain currency bills.  I mentioned this a couple of years ago, and it happened again recently.  The son received a 5-dollar bill with whereswilly.com on it.  He graciously donated it to my blog-theme account for the mere fee of….a different 5-dollar bill.

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“Willy” is/was Sir Wilfrid (not Wilfred) Laurier, whose stern face graces the Canadian fiver.  The smaller local university began as Waterloo Lutheran University.  As they expanded, and outgrew the religious connection, they took ‘Willy’ as their mascot, and became Wilfrid Laurier University, so that W.L.U. remained W.L.U.  (Saves on paperwork.)

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I accessed the website, and entered the bill’s serial number. When I submitted the short report of where I (the son) got it, and its physical condition, I got a webpage which showed where it had originated, and how long/how many miles/kilometers it had been on the road.  If you can read the fine print, Americans are invited to play this game by visiting “Where’s George?”

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I was the first one to report this bill since its originator set it loose 174 days, almost six months before. As you can see, (but probably not that map) it began its tattooed journey in a town in Quebec called Listuguj, 1185 KM (750 Mi.) east of here, almost to the end of the Gaspé Peninsula, across the river/bay from New Brunswick.  How and why did it get from there to here?

When I found that it started in a Quebec town, I wondered why it didn’t say, “Ou est Willi?” That was explained when I investigated Listuguj.  I thought that it might have Polish or Czech founders, but it’s actually a treaty M’iq M’aq Indian enclave.

Have any of you got bills like this and/or played this game?

2017 A To Z Challenge – F

Challenge2017

I’ve been caught – found out – laid bare. It gives me no solace to know that I am but one member of a large enough group who are also exposed, that there is a word to describe and identify them.  For the letter

Letter F

I am skipping the WOW, and using the A To Z Challenge to present the latest, and most applicable word, Forgettery

Definitions for forgettery

a faculty or facility for forgetting; faulty memory:
a witness with a very convenient forgettery.

Origin of forgettery

1860-1865

Forgettery is a humorous formation based on forget and (the pronunciation of) memory. The phenomenon is very common in ordinary life, such as that panicky moment when you cannot recall the name of your dinner partner or where you parked the car in the mall parking lot. It is a little surprising that such a useful term entered English only in the 19th century.

My life has been one long series of Forget-Me-Nots. One of my ways of ensuring that I remember something is to repeat, repeat, repeat!  One scientific study said, 35 times – and it’s mine.  It’s a good thing that I like to read.  I scanned school texts over and over….and over.  I understood the concepts, but you only get marks if you remember to write them down.

I describe my situation as ‘Trigger-Memory.’ It’s a long trail of the equivalent of a string tied around the finger.  My days are full of reminders.  A sour cream tub lid, wedged into the top of my boot on the shoe rack means there’s a plate of leftovers to be taken to the daughter.  An empty pill bottle sends me to the pharmacy.  An empty cat-food tin on the end of the counter has me bringing more up when I go downstairs for some Pepsi.

Out of sight, out of mind – or, as the Chinese translate, ‘When you’re blind, you’re also crazy.” If I don’t see it, I forget it. My office desk was always a bit of a mess, because I dared not put anything away until I’d successfully dealt with it.  Lists, notes, memos, reminders – thank (insert the name of your favorite real or imaginary deity here) for electronics.  Now it’s all on the computer….if I can just remember where I cached that file.

Have you ever walked into a room, and wondered why you did? I’ve walked into rooms, and had to look around to remember which room I’d walked into.  Use it, or lose it. As much as for my Asperger-type inability to make and hold friends, my lack may be because I forget people as soon as they walk out the door, and people get upset if you do that.

Once upon a time, I forgot to pick something up, probably food for a special meal. I got from the wife, that expression that every marriage gets at least once.  “If you loved me….you would have remembered.”  I pointed out that the forgetting had impacted me even worse than her.  If I can’t remember for myself, I sure won’t remember for her, no matter how much I love her.

Would she say, ‘If you loved me, you’d be an Optical Surgeon, and make lots of money?’ With the tremor in my hands, somebody would lose an eye.

If I forget to read your posts for a week, (or a month) or forget to leave a comment, please forgive me. I’ll remember eventually, probably triggering my memory when I’m looking up another odd word, like syzygy….now what does that mean, again?   😳

Coins Of The Realms

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My coin collection started innocently and modestly enough, with a few older Canadian coins. Then, as described in my ‘Penny, lira, etc.’ post, I was tricked into collecting foreign coins. Slowly but steadily, over the (many) years, I’ve added coins to both groups, till now I don’t count my coins, so much as weigh them occasionally.

I have almost 600 foreign coins, from over 100 countries around the world, some of which no longer exist, as well as numerous Canadian and American coins. The five binders shown above include Canadian and American coins, as well as bills, and total just over 47 pounds.  I store them on a closet shelf, next to the wall, directly over the support bracket, so as not to collapse it.

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Clamshell 2 x 2s come in various sizes, for various coins. They are folded over a coin and stapled shut on three sides, then the unit is inserted in a plastic sheet with 20 pockets.  Soon after I got started, I received some helpful tips from a couple of old collectors/dealers.

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I buy mounting sheets with reinforced holes, because the weight of 20 coins can tear unprotected sheets. If you’re collecting sequentially dated coins, and one always follows the next, they are inserted into the sheets and forever remain there.

If I get another Spanish coin, I might need to now give Portuguese coins their own page for enough room. My coins can move around.  One dealer advised me to trim the bottom corners of the 2 X 2s at 45°, so that they would slide into the tight pockets easier.  Clipped bottoms and unclipped tops seem ‘unfinished’ to me, so I trim all 4 corners, creating little square ‘malls’ among the coins on the sheet.

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Staples holding the 2 X 2s closed, protrude in small bulges at the back, causing an already bulky assembly to take up even more room. I have a special pair of pliers, with which I crimp them flat, ensuring smoother insertion and retraction, and less volume.

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The arrangement of my foreign coins in my catalogs resembles a giant M on a world map.  They start at the bottom of South America, work their way up past Panama and the Caribbean, and throw a quick wave at the USA and Canada with a couple of odd/special coins.

They cross the Atlantic, through England, Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands, and work their way across Europe. They then dodge the rocket attacks in the Middle East and flow down the body of Africa.  Returning, they trudge eastward through Russia and China, and down through South-East Asia, to Australia and New Zealand.

My foreign coins have taught me much about geography and history. Separate regions are arbitrarily jammed together to form the likes of Czechoslovakia.  Countries are split apart, like Germany, or India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  World economy, and that of individual countries, changes coins from gold and silver, to brass, steel, nickel and copper, all the way down to aluminum.

My little digital camera will not take good photos of individual coins, but I have some bright, flamboyant foreign bills/notes I hope to show you later. To some of you, these are not ‘foreign’, but merely coins of your realm.

Old Stuff – Part 4

Nun

As the youngest of nine Catholic children, the wife’s two oldest siblings, through no fault of their own, both became nuns. The eldest rather vainly insisted one day, that she was not 20 years older.  Careful calculation revealed it was only 19 years, 11 months and 17 days.

Not being terribly Catholic, I knew that priests moved from parish to parish as needed, but thought that nuns more or less served where they enrolled, or were sent where needed – and left there. Watching these two women over the years, I was amazed at the frequent-flyer miles they racked up.  Join a convent, and see the world.  If I’d known that there was this much free world travel, I’d have become a nun.

They both became School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND). The younger of the two was a better administrator, so she got more trips.  She was sent for two years to Le Pas, Manitoba, to organize a school district for Aboriginals, although that was more cruel and unusual punishment than reward.  She went for six months of missionary work to Ecuador – in our winter.  She flew to Rome, to the Vatican, where she met the then-Pope, and spent six months with a world-wide think-tank group.  She was brevetted to Mississippi for two years to reorganize their Catholic school system.

After several years of break-in period at a local Catholic girls’ school, the elder sister went to work at the Mother House in the Hamilton Diocese, which administers most of Southern Ontario. Not exactly world travel, it’s only an hour’s drive away and, if nuns owned cars, she could have commuted home each evening.

She returned after a couple of years, and worked as an aide at the Catholic School Board offices. Finally she was awarded a real trip.  While her younger sister, the Sister, spent six months in Ecuador, she was parachuted into the jungles of El Salvador.  She returned to Canada, and spent another couple of years at the Hamilton Mother House.

She so impressed upper management with her rigid, assertive attitude, that they offered her a five year post as a house mother to about twenty teenaged Catholic girls at an upscale private school in London, England. These were the privileged daughters of ambassadors and minor foreign royalty.

The boarding house, along with its convent and school, were hundreds of years old. With solid stone outers, there wasn’t much need for interior repair and redecorating.  The dining hall had gorgeous oak wainscoting on the lower halves of the walls.  Oxidization and polish had turned it almost black, but the grain still glowed beneath the shine.

The same oxidation eventually deteriorated the plaster walls and ceiling and it was finally decided to redo them. The Sister watched in dismay, as the glorious wood was pried off the wall and thrown away.  As the tradesmen worked, suddenly something fell from between the wood and the wall, and rolled almost to her feet.

When she examined it, it was a very thin coin. At first, she thought it might be something one of the girls had inserted, a toy, like Monopoly money.  A closer look revealed that, as thin and worn as it was, it was a real coin.  It is still a prevalent practice around the world to add a coin to a new building or addition for good luck.

Knowing that I collected coins, she held it until she returned to Canada and gave it to me. Study reveals that it is an Edward II, short-cross, silver sixpence, minted between 1547 and 1552 – Eddie didn’t rule very long – back then coins often weren’t dated.

From the wear on it, it probably didn’t get hidden till near 1600, but it gives you an idea how long ago the building was erected. Because of the wear, it’s worth ‘only’ about $25 today, but would have had about that level of buying power when it was minted.  Someone was serious about this one.  It was more than mere pocket change.

At over 450 years old, it’s the oldest thing I own. I’ve also included a few photos of my older, 1850 – 1900 Canadian coins, including a couple that were minted before the government got around to producing coinage, and allowed individual banks to issue their own.

For those who can’t see the detail, Tails side first;

Pre-1858 Bank of     Bank of Upper    Two-headed 1965
Montreal token        Canada token      Churchill commemorative
one sou.                      one penny            crown

Edward VI                 Hanover                Victorian penny
short cross               love token              186?
sixpence                   penny equal

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Dangerous Addiction

philosopher

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – “to relax,” I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka.

I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She just glared at me and then stalked out and spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “Archon, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking here at work, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”

“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently, and she began to cry.

I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library!” I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors…. they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Porky’s.” Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

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To that I say, “What the hell, one little thought can’t hurt you.” Careful brother, one little thought can lead to another.

 

The Perks of Atheism

Reblogged this on Archon’s Den. I thought it was humorous, yet serious, and needed to be said. It constitutes my masterful research, rather than merely lazy plagiarism.

True Falsehoods

A discussion group put together a list of their favorite things about being an atheist. I really liked some of their answers, and wanted to share. Responses range from funny and inappropriate to thoughtful and poignant.

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Flash Fiction #101

Fix

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Marler Morrill

The Fix Is In

Knock, knock.

Psst, Edgar sent me. I need a little something.

Don’t know no Edgar, man. Maybe Clive next door can supply you.

Knock, knock.

Guy next door says maybe you can give me something to make me feel good.

Sure, man! What you need, some allegory, a little bit of alliteration??

Nah, guy. I’m Jonesing for a story-line for a 100-word Flash Fiction.  Can’t score one myself.

Why don’t you write about how it resembles going up a dark, dead-end alley, like a junkie desperately looking for a fix?

Great idea!

Dime bags of inspiration are now twenty bucks.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Easy Money

American money

There was a mean boss in a factory.
The boss liked to watch the workers.
He wanted the workers to work hard.
One morning the boss came to the factory at nine o’clock. A man was drinking coffee.
The boss came back at nine thirty.
The man was still drinking coffee.
The boss was angry. “How much do you make a week?” he asked the man.
“Three hundred dollars.” the man said.
The boss gave the man three hundred dollars.
“Take the money and get out of here!” he said.
Then the boss asked another worker: “What was that man’s job?”
“He doesn’t work here”, the worker said, “He came to pick up a package.”

***

A Rabbi, a Hindu Monk, and a lawyer are driving down the road when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
Spotting a farmhouse they walk over and tell the farmer they need a place to stay the night while they wait for a tow.
“I’ve got room in the house for two of you but someone’s gonna have to sleep in the barn.” says the farmer.
The Rabbi says, “I’ve no problem with that, I’ll go.” He leaves.
Five minutes later there’s a knock on the door. The farmer opens the door and the Rabbi is there.
He says, “Sir there is a pig in that barn; in my religion pigs are unclean, I cannot sleep under the same roof with a pig.”
The Monk speaks up and says, “I have no problem with pigs I’ll go sleep in the barn.” He leaves.
Five minutes later there’s a knock on the door. The farmer opens the door and the Monk is here.
“Sir there is a cow in that barn; in my religion cows are sacred, I cannot sleep under the same roof with a cow.
The lawyer responds, “I’ll go sleep in the barn, I’ve got no religion.” He leaves.
Five minutes later there’s a knock on the door. The farmer opens the door and the pig and the cow are standing there.

***

A: Why are you late?
B: There was a man who lost a hundred dollar bill.
A: That’s nice. Were you helping him look for it?
B: No, I was standing on it.

***

Becky: Simon, your father is a teacher but you can’t read and write.
Simon: So, your father is a dentist but your little brother Bill still has no teeth.

***

An art collector is walking through London looking for a Christmas present, when he notices a mangy cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a shop. He does a double take when he notices that the saucer is extremely old and very valuable, so he walks casually into the store and offers to buy the cat for two pounds.
The shop owner replies, “I’m sorry, but the cat isn’t for sale.” The collector says, “Please, I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I’ll pay you twenty pounds for it.” And the owner says, “Sold,” and hands over the cat.
The collector continues, “For twenty quid, I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat’s used to it and it’ll save me having to get a dish.”
The owner says, “Sorry, but that’s my lucky saucer. So far this week I’ve sold sixty-eight cats.”

Pint Sized

Pint

Always fascinated with the details of English word usage, I recently read a post titled Euphemisms. In it, a young female explained how the seemingly innocent words of many of the nursery rhymes we tell our children, had a much darker meaning when they were first composed.

She apparently had a real vendetta against royalty and religion. Her first story was about “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”, who was Queen “Bloody” Mary, trying to return now-Protestant England to the Catholic Church.  Her garden grew well, because it was fertilized with the corpses of the many that she had tortured and executed.

The writer claimed that “Three Blind Mice” were three noble men(sic) who plotted against Mary. She didn’t have them blinded, or mutilated (their ‘tails’ cut off), merely burned at the stake.  But, in reality, there were only two who plotted, and only one was a noble, the other, an Anglican Bishop.

“Goosey, Goosey, Gander” is about Catholic sympathisers hiding priests from Protestant torture and death squads. The line about grabbing them by their left leg was because priests were identified when they put their left foot forward as they genuflected.

Already cynical, she lost my belief when her mix of fact to fiction became too thin on the “Jack And Jill” story. This is word history, not political history, and something I’ve researched.

She stated that it referred to the execution of Louis XIII and Marie Antoinette. When Louis (not Jack – or even Jacques) was beheaded, he lost his ‘Crown.’  When Marie was guillotined, her head ‘came tumbling after.’  She didn’t explain why English commoners would make up rhymes about French monarchs.

This little rhyme is all about governments getting more tax income by screwing with sizes. It was something citizens were complaining about 400 years ago, and they’re still screwing us today.

A “Jack” was a leather mug, in which inns and taverns served 12 ounces of beer or cheap wine. Taxes were paid on how many ‘Jacks’ were dispensed. Suddenly, by Royal decree, the size of a Jack was reduced to 10 ounces, and taxes on beer and wine went up by 20%.

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Taxes were often paid in ‘Crowns’, silver English coins. Soon both barkeeps and the drinking working man were going bankrupt (broke).  When the Jack fell down, he/it broke his ‘Crown’.

The Gill – or Jill – was a quarter of a pint, the amount of a shot of harder liquor. The Incredible Shrinking Jack trick had worked so well that the government tried it again.  A gallon had been 160 ounces, therefore a quart (quarter gallon) was 40 ounces, a pint was 20….and a quarter-pint Gill, was 5.

The gallon was reduced to 128 ounces, a quart to 32, a pint to 16. The 5 ounce Gill became 4 ounces, the tax on liquor went up 25% with the stroke of a pen, “and Jill came tumbling after.”

A later government restored the gallon/quart, etc. sizes, but the results can still be seen. The UK has ‘Imperial’, 40 ounce quarts, but the US never changed back, keeping their 32 oz. version.  The US has a Fifth (of a 128 oz. gallon = 25.6 oz.) of booze, where Canada insists that it’s a 26er.

When I was but a mere child, dairies delivered 40 oz. quart glass bottles of milk to the house. When glass yielded to cardboard cartons, the international conglomerates who now provided cow juice, did so in 32 oz. American quarts, without changing our cost.

In 1971, when Canada went metric, no-one really knew anything about metric sizes. Containers were now (34oz. approx.) liters.  Cost went up, but uncertainty kept complaints down.  40 oz. glass pop bottles became 1-liter plastic containers – at the same price.

To lull the population into happily accepting metrification, the Canadian government actually solicited poems from citizens, extolling the beauty and benefits of the Metric System. They were disappointed by the low turnout, and definitely did not publish the one that said;

When things go Metric,
Prices rise!
Surprise, surprise,
Surprise, surprise!

The Portuguese lady selling bread at the Market continues to shout, “Three bags for $5.” The old loaves of bread suitable for making trencherman farmers’ sandwiches are now so small that they’re barely big enough to make petit-fours.  The hamburger and hot-dog buns remain the same size, but the bags which used to contain a dozen buns, first slipped to 10, slid to 9, fell to 8, and, hopefully, have bottomed out at a ridiculous 7 per pack.

The only thing that I have as much left in my wallet as I used to, is lint.