What A Buzz

coffee can

You Know You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee When…

  1. Juan Valdez names his donkey after you.
  2. You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
  3. The only time you’re standing still is during an earthquake.
  4. You can take a picture of yourself from ten feet away without using
    the timer.
  5. You lick your coffeepot clean.
  6. You spend every vacation visiting “Maxwell House.”
  7. You’re the employee of the month at the local Starbucks and you
    don’t even work there.
  8. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
  9. You’re so jittery that people use your hands to blend their
    margaritas.
  10. You can jump-start your car without cables.
  11. All your kids are named “Joe.”
  12. Your only source of nutrition comes from “Sweet & Low.”
  13. You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.
  14. You’ve built a miniature city out of little plastic stirrers.
  15. People get dizzy just watching you.
  16. When you find a penny, you say, “Find a penny, pick it up.
    Sixty-three more, I’ll have a cup.”
  17. The Taster’s Choice couple wants to adopt you.
  18. Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
  19. You’re so wired, you pick up FM radio.
  20. Your life’s goal is to “amount to a hill of beans.”
  21. Instant coffee takes too long.
  22. When someone says. “How are you?”, you say, “Good to the last drop.”
  23. You want to be cremated just so you can spend the rest of eternity
    in a coffee can.
  24. You go to sleep just so you can wake up and smell the coffee.
  25. You’re offended when people use the word “brew” to mean beer.
  26. You name your cats “Cream” and “Sugar.”
  27. You get drunk just so you can sober up.
  28. Your lips are permanently stuck in the sipping position.
  29. You can outlast the Energizer bunny.
  30. You don’t even wait for the water to boil anymore.
  31. You think being called a “drip” is a compliment.
  32. You don’t tan, you roast.
  33. You can’t even remember your second cup.
  34. You introduce your spouse as your “Coffeemate.”
  35. You think CPR stands for “Coffee Provides Resuscitation.”
  36. You have too much blood in your caffeine system.
  37. The barista asks you how you take your coffee, and you reply, “Very, very seriously!”
  38. You find sleep a weak substitute for coffee.
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I Have Poor Relatives

Shabby Man

Once upon a time there was a poor little boy from a poor family. His Father was poor.  His Mother was poor.  The maid was poor.  The cook was poor.  The butler was poor.  Even the chauffeur was poor. One day, he went to his father and asked if he could have a pony.  His Father said no, because they were too poor to afford a pony.  The poor little boy went to his piggy-bank, took out enough money to buy himself the pony, and put the rest back….

We are often so busy with our own lives, that without really obvious clues, we think that everyone is pretty much like ourselves. It takes an observant and analytical mind to notice the struggles of those at the bottom of the financial, pissed-on trickle down ladder.  I am distressed that a $180 pair of distressed designer jeans looks just like my four-years-old $24.95 Wal-Mart pair.

This is why politicians, who are already being paid far too much to do a job that their predecessors did without pay, as a Public Service, feel free to waste millions – Billions – of our dollars, and still fraudulently pad their office budgets and expense accounts.  They have no idea, and don’t care, what it’s like at the bottom of the pile, and it’s been this way since long before Marie Antoinette offered to “let them eat cake.”

It is just as illegal for a millionaire to sleep under a bridge, as it is for a homeless man to do so.

I recently had a conversation with a friend. It seemed that both of us were keeping an eye on family finances – total income vs. expenses – only I think that he was doing it at a much higher level than I was.  I’ve never asked how much he makes.  It’s none of my business, and doesn’t affect our friendship.

With his experience, training, intelligence and education, I suspect his annual salary is somewhere north of $100,000/year. His talented wife probably makes half of that.

With my learning disabilities, and poor short-term memory adding to my tendency for procrastination, I’m lucky to have accomplished what I have during my life. About 15 years ago, before I retired to live on Government and company pensions – with a bunch of overtime, I grossed $44,000, but the wife had been ‘downsized.’  Earlier, when I made $38,000, she added $19,000.

This is not a whine! I’m still doing better than a lot of people, including the little guy who busks in the cold, outside the local grocery store.  As an engineer, Jim Wheeler says that it is not worth his while to stop and pick up a penny.  I still grab the occasional one or two from the ‘Need A Penny/ Leave A Penny’ tray at the corner store.  People abandon them because the Mint has stopped making them.

I always check the reject chutes of the coin-counting machines in stores. Sometimes I find Canadian coins, as well as foreign ones which I add to my collection.  It’s quick and easy to eyeball the change chutes of vending machines.  I’m not too proud to (discreetly) stick my finger in the few payphone chutes that still exist.  The last time I did, I found $2.  It’s all relative.  $2 to a millionaire is nothing, although Bill Gates (or his minions) cashed a check for 39 cents.  $2 to someone who is eating cat food (We don’t.) means a lot.

Having pets is a wonderful experience. I would not want to get rid of any that we have, but the wife wants even more.  I cannot convince her that, between food, treats, litter, and vet bills, each animal costs us about $1000 a year.  I would sooner have that money to pay down our still-existing mortgage, or use it to take enjoyable trips, while we are still physically capable of doing so.

Some people waste money, too often MY money!  Some people scrimp and save, show restraint and fiscal control, and budget their money to get them the most they can.  I’d be patting myself on the back, but I’m busy crawling around on the floor, trying to find that quarter I dropped.  I’ll be back up at the computer in a couple of days.  Please come back again then.   😉

Gimme That Old-Time….Everything

Always eager to be “right up-to-date”, in 1981, a large theme park was built at the north end of Toronto, called Canada’s Wonderland.  Year by year, more rides and attractions were added.  I saved up my pennies, back when we still had them, and by 1987 was able to visit for a day.

A few years later, the owners did as many Canadian business people do.  They sold out to the Americans, and the place became Paramount Canada’s Wonderland.  Like Military Intelligence and Business Ethics, this makes sense only if you squint your eyes a lot.

Back when computers were only a gleam in most people’s eyes, there was a booth with a computer.  It was loaded with tons of basic facts, and, for the lordly sum of $1, it would provide a laminated sheet, showing what things were like on the day you were born, and compare old prices to (then) new.

27 years later, I ran across it during a flurry of spring cleaning, and I’ve scanned and included it, so that you can have a double chance to compare, what things cost, first in 1944, and again in 1987, so that you can really miss “the good old days.”

Time Capsule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this was an even older newspaper sheet from my home-town weekly.  Printed April 1, 1981, it gave replays of local things which occurred 10, 20, 50, 100 years before.  From twenty years earlier, in 1961, there was a story about me and nine others from my little sharpshooter rifle club.

Apparently we went to the next small town for a challenge shooting match, and beat their ten-boy team quite handily.  Our informal little rifle club had officially become the Junior Conservation Club, but somehow, in the article, we were listed as the Boys’ Athletic Club.  We were many things to many people, but one thing we weren’t, was athletic!

Something For Nothing

Damn, am I ever a cheap-ass old skinflint.  The lessons of childhood were well learned and, now in old age, not easily forgotten or ignored.

I was born just as the rationing of the Second World War was ending, to parents who had lived through the Great Depression of the ‘30s, with a mother who was Scottish.  You know how copper wire was invented??  Two Scotsmen, fighting over a penny!

Most of the men in my hometown worked at one of the four factories.  Most of the women stayed home to care for the kids.  My mother became an exception, but, most families had just about the same income.  Sure, there were merchants, and real estate and insurance brokers.  The preachers at six Protestant churches did better than most of their flock.

We weren’t dirt-poor, as many other families in town were, because my mother practiced some basic birth control.  We only had two kids in our family.  On one of the paper routes I had, there were two families, living side-by-side in two shack-y houses, much smaller than ours.  One house had seven kids and five dogs.  The one next door had seven dogs and five kids.  There’s not a lot of disposable income left after feeding and clothing a mob like that.

I’ve written that I keep my eye open in places where people might drop money.  The hundred-dollar bill I picked up at a Meijer store was an exception, but I find bits of money all the time.  I had to take a bus the other day, to pick up the car from a repair garage.  The bill for the car was almost $350, but I was thrilled to pick up 20 cents off the floor of the bus.  A bill like that only happens every six months or a year, but I find money all the time.  By the next time the car needs to go in, I will have found a good chunk of what the next bill will be.

I am not exactly embarrassed, but still somewhat surreptitious about checking payphone coin returns.  It’s really interesting how many times people try to place a call, get no answer, and rush away without retrieving their quarter.  About coins lying in coin-return slots of pop machines, or snack vending machines – I can’t be the only one who notices them, but I’m often the first to notice them.

I don’t walk or bike-ride as much as I used to, but still pick up any beer bottles or cans that I see.  Not only do I clean the neighborhood, but I make a dime apiece refund on them.  Liquor and wine bottles are also worth 10 cents each, but, with the usual bureaucratic genius, you buy them at the Liquor Control Board store, but have to take them back to the Beer Store for refund.

The daughter watches when she’s out on her power wheel chair, as does the grandson.  I recently cleaned off the shelf I use in the basement to store them.  More than a year’s accumulation yielded $8.00.  I’ll add it into the fund to buy more American cash from the bank, towards our next trip south.

The supermarket a mile to my north has been selling the Toronto Sun newspaper as a loss-leader for 4 or 5 years.  $1.50 paper for 50 cents Monday to Thursday and $1 on Friday.  Recently that went to a buck, every day.  If we’re out for a doctor’s appointment or other shopping, it’s well worth stopping in.  If we’re not, does it cost 50 cents in gas to save on the paper?

The head-office of the store three blocks to the south used to give cash rebates to charities who collected cash-register receipts.  About a year ago, with great fanfare, they stopped, cutting off Boy Scouts, the Library, and seniors square-dance groups, but quietly continued for selected groups, including the Humane Society.

About once a week, I put a harness on the dog, and walk him over to pick up a paper.  I tie him to the outer of two garbage containers on one side of the entrance, and check inside it.  People often exit the store, and immediately throw away their receipt.  Then I check the one right beside the door, and enter the store.  I check under, and in the return chute of the coin-counting machine in the entryway.  Coins often drop and roll just under.  One day I got 40 pennies that were fed in too fast.

I buy my paper at the newspaper/cigarette/lottery kiosk at the front.  Cash register amounts can be significant, but these customers are often in a hurry.  I check for receipts in the waste-paper basket where dead lotto tickets are thrown.  On my way out, I often go through the opposite doors, and check the big garbage pail over there.  On my walk today, I brought home $245 worth of receipts….and another beer bottle.

Then the daughter phoned.  They have a Blu-Ray player on sale.  Would I go over and pick up the last one in stock?  By the time I got home, I had picked up another $250 worth of receipts.  The rebate is 1/5th of 1%, so that’s one can of food for an abandoned cat.  I have a wad of several thousand dollars worth, which we’ll turn in at the pet-food store, the next time we go in.

We have five rain-barrels from which we water shrubs and flowers, when we have a hot, dry spell in the summer.  The cost of 250 gallons of water from the hose is probably pennies, even if Canada doesn’t officially have pennies anymore, but there’s more nutrients, and less harmful chlorine in rainwater – usually.  A local woman also waters her plants from rain barrels, but had all her pretty flowers die.  Turns out, her busy-body neighbor was worried about mosquitoes breeding, so she poured in chlorine bleach.  Toting the water around gives me something to fill my time, and some exercise to keep me (relatively) strong and limber.

Triviana T’ree

Please keep hands and feet inside the blog.  Do not attempt to exit until the post has come to a complete stop.  The following are a few thoughts which whirl through my head, there not being much between my ears to slow them down.

I was at a supermarket with the wife today.  At the end of one row, there was a plastic box with a sign saying “Seasonal Recipes, Try One.”  I took one of the sheets, and, sure enough, there was a great recipe for Barbecued Snow, another for Sweet and Sour Snowballs, and instructions for Baked Icicles, promising that they’ll come out soft and juicy.  For anyone needing basic ingredients, we’ll be happy to ship them to you.  I have a distribution system stretching from KayJai, in the east, to NotesToPonder in the west.

We had a couple of severe wind storms come through the Region recently.  Several trees in LadyRyl’s compound, and others in the neighborhood, lost large branches, or were toppled.  City and private crews have been cleaning up.  Smaller limbs go through a chipper, and larger stuff is cut and piled.  Free mulch and firewood!  All you can haul away.  One tree, about a block from Ryl’s, left a stump beside the road, almost three feet across, and six feet high.  Slowly but surely, someone has been turning it into the bottom of a Totem pole, a most handsome-looking Eagle.  I’ll grab a photo, and add to a post later.

In an ongoing contest to prove which one of us is dumber, I asked MapQuest.CA to find me a place near SightNBytes, in Newfoundland, Canada.  I was presented with Newfoundland, Tenn., U.S. bloody A!  It’s about three miles down the road from a maximum-security Federal prison.  “Do not stop!  Do not pick up hitchhikers!”

I’ve written about being (almost) smarter than the old, wooden, two-legged clothes pins.  I met their Mensa relatives recently.  Made from the heavy, recycled plastic that is used to produce some patio/lawn furniture, these things are claimed indestructible, and cheap at 39 cents each.  I guess everything old is new again, as more women (and men?) hang laundry on clotheslines.

Did you drink cherry Coke when you were younger??  Does anybody besides me still drink it?  My favorite fire-water is actually Pepsi, but, it’s like “Kleenex.”  It’s all Kleenex unless someone specifies otherwise.

I was introduced to cherry-cola at about the age of 15, back when restaurants had soda-fountains.  You could pay a little extra for a shot of the cherry soda syrup in your “glass” glass of draft (draught, for Canadians, especially KayJai) cola.  For at least 20 years, as supermarket choices expanded, I’ve been buying bottles of cherry syrup, and adding it to many of my glasses of Pepsi.

Coke sells Cherry-Coke in cans.  I’m not sure that Pepsi does.  Pepsi does sell cans with a touch of lime, that son, Shimoniac, likes occasionally.  Partly to control my weight, I often don’t want 12 ounces, and custom-mix a small glass, from a 2-liter bottle.

A little over a year ago, BrainRants mentioned Sriracha sauce on his blog.  I’d never seen or heard of it.  Less than a month later it showed up at my supermarket.  At first, it was expensive, and rare, $6.99 a bottle – liters – to satisfy Canadian packing requirements.  Soon, most stores carried it, and the price went down.

Suddenly, it was as common as water, and less expensive.  My store had a giant, end-of-aisle display, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of bottles in an 8-foot-high pile, clearing at 99 ¢/ea.  I first saw a small store in Charleston, SC, which sold nothing but a wide range of hot sauces.  We recently got the first in our area, at the Farmers’ Market.  The wife treated me to an order of poutine today.  (All questions about What The Hell Is Poutine??! faithfully answered)  I drizzled some Sriracha on it.

I went to put in the ¢ sign above, and realized that electronic keyboards no longer have them.  They have the dollar sign, but not the cents.  This happened long before Canada decided to eliminate the penny.  The wife threatened offered to teach me how to add it to my text, but I feared it would be cheaper and easier just to hire a performance artist to go to each of your houses and put it in.  Silly me, it’s not hard at all.  Two different ways, press alt 0162, or control, slash, c.  Now I gotta write more about cents.

In my continuing acquisition of interesting names, I met a knife-maker at the Detroit show named Bobby L. Toole, not O’Toole, merely Toole.  I haven’t researched just how rare the name is, but I’ve never heard or read of another.  While the name may be white-bread, Irish, the holder definitely isn’t.  Being politically correct, I will not mention the joke about him being a Masai-man, so black you could melt him down to make hockey pucks from.

Another maker with a name almost as handsome as his knives, was Doun T. Rose II, whose father had as much ego and as little imagination as Efrem Zimbalist Senior.  I gotta kick my standard transmissioned research up into second gear, to find out about him and Bobby.  He claimed that Doun is a Scottish name, and it’s always interesting to see what my skirt-wearing ancestors were up to.  You know why Scotsmen wear kilts??!  So the sheep don’t hear the zipper.

I put this post together Saturday, August 24th.  I don’t mind (much) that they’re playing football.  I’m not surprised to get back
from Canadian Tire, where Halloween costumes are available for sale, but Saturday’s paper had the first picture of someone playing hockey.  Summer, oh Summer, where hast thou gone?  Probably hiding behind my snow shovel, bah, humbug!

Round And Round

I got a 1940 nickel in change today.  Actually, the wife got it, and immediately turned it over to me.  Damn!  The thing’s older than I am, and in much better condition.  Did grandpa die, or did someone have their coin collection raided?  It obviously hasn’t been in constant circulation.

The word nickel, meaning a five-cent coin, came from the fact that they were originally stamped from the metal, nickel, when it was not popular for industrial and electronic uses.  Canadian ones have been made of brass, during WWII, and now only nickel-coated steel.  There’s a giant, twelve-sided, 30 foot diameter, 2 foot thick replica, built of nickel-containing stainless steel, sitting at a Sudbury, Ontario mine.  It was erected in 1951, to commemorate two-hundred years of digging nickel out of the ground there.  Google “Big Nickel.”

While shopping at one store, I thought about buying my Toronto Sun at another.  I pulled all the change out of my pocket, and almost fainted.  I had, not one, but two, American quarters, one a “State” quarter, although not one I needed for my collection.  I must be getting old, not to have noticed American money.  I always used to check my change.  I immediately placed them in our “going to the States” can, when I got home.

With the wife’s worsening mobility and allergy problems, I do a bit more of the day-to-day shopping, and therefore end up with more change, which I get rid of, buying my newspapers.  There was a time when I could tell you exactly how much change I had in my pocket, and what coins made up the total.  Apparently, no longer!

Canada recently stopped stamping and issuing pennies.  The Federal Government was good enough to use my tax dollars, to print and supply signs to stores, explaining what would happen.  Silly me, I thought it would be straight-forward.  If a bill being paid in cash, ends in one or two, or six or seven cents, it would be rounded down.  If it ended in three or four, or eight or nine cents, it would be rounded up to the next nickel.  It’s not like every store has a different system, but there’s lots to go around.

Canada leads the world in the use of debit cards; so, many of these charges involving cents are irrelevant.  Debit or credit card payments are always exact amounts.  The term cents is mathematical.  Pennies are the physical things the government doesn’t make anymore.

Stores will still accept pennies if you offer them, although one woman fellow-shopper told me of a clerk who insisted, “We don’t take pennies anymore.”  “You’d better call your manager then, because they remain legal tender for the next 6 years.”  Some clerks will still give pennies in change, if they have them in the till.  Most stores do the round-up/round-down thing.

The Real Canadian Superstore rounds down, anything below the next 5-cent level.   My $1.50 newspaper, with 8 cents tax, costs me $1.60 almost anywhere but there, where it’s only $1.55.  If I use one of the self-checkouts, I have to insert the $1.60, to get the machine to finalize the sale, and then it refunds me a nickel.

Pennies have largely disappeared from commerce.  A couple of Canadian banks have instituted coin recovery schemes, by setting up pinball-sized automatic coin-counters in their lobbies, similar to those found in many grocery stores.  The grocery store no-arm bandits have a lower pay-out than Vegas slot machines, quietly eating nine cents of every dollar, and returning only 91%.

The ones in the banks pay out 100%, which they hope you then deposit with them, but getting sequestered coins back in circulation (or, out of circulation, in the case of pennies) is the name of the game.

The crazy cat lady used to have a glass umbrella stand, filled to the brim with pennies.  The last time we visited, it was empty and forlorn.  She admitted that she had rolled all of her pennies and turned them in at her bank.  Next time I see her at the Farmers’ Market, I must see if she’ll admit how much they totalled.  It must have been about $100.

I still find the occasional penny.  I had accumulated five in my pocket, and got rid of them at the grocery store on a bill that ended in 80 cents….and looked down and picked up another one off the floor.

The grandson meets young people who somehow think that pennies cannot be spent anymore.  Several other young lads where he works use them to play penny-toss, but don’t bother to pick them up when they’re finished.  The other day, he picked up more than a dollar’s worth, abandoned at the edge of the parking lot.

Canadian or otherwise, what do you think of the demise of the Canadian penny?  Are you Americans ready for it to happen in your country?  What do the Brits want to get rid of, aside from the Euro?

Funny Money

Canada has plastic money!  Well, we’re getting plastic bills.  We have joined other countries like Australia in making our bills from polymer.  Things will be different but, with other countries leading the way, problems should be minimal.

The first bill changed over, in 2011, was the $100 note.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually see too many hundreds.  Last spring, the Mint released the new $50 bill.  I’m a little more likely to see a fifty, but I haven’t got a new one yet.  Since these two denominations give the most bang for the buck (see what I did there?) they were the ones most often counterfeited.  While it was technically illegal to do so, there were many businesses which refused to accept the higher denominations.

Finally the Mint has got down to the man on the street, and released the new twenty.  I took $200 from an ATM last Saturday, to go to the farmers market, and got ten of the new bills.  Canada leads the rest of the world in usage of debit cards.  Butchers and bakers inside the market building have card readers, but most produce vendors outside still insist on cash, especially the Mennonites.

The ten and the five will be changed over this next year.  Canada did away with one-dollar, and two-dollar bills some years ago, replacing them with pocket- and hip-destroying coins.  I will wait to see, both from personal experience and general public reaction, just how good an idea this was.  The new bills are 25% more expensive to produce, but are expected to last two and a half times as long.  The Mint also says they are ten times as difficult to counterfeit.

First of all, unlike paper bills, they don’t fold well.  New paper bills are hard and slippery, making them difficult to handle and count.  This slowly changes as the paper fibres are roughened up.  Sadly, this is what makes the bills deteriorate.  The new plastic bills are hard and slippery, but I don’t expect them to ever soften up.  Sales staff are already familiar with their potential problems.  My egg vendor lady admonished me to be sure I handed over just one.  I always stand in front of the surveillance camera at an ATM, and count my bills, before I leave.  I will just continue to do so, to ensure that I get what I paid for.

The new bills have an irregular strip of clear plastic, three-quarters of the way to the right of the bill.  Within this strip are holograms of the Queen’s face, the tower of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, and the value of the bills several times, some reversed, so that it can also be read from the back.  The value of the bills is also in micro-printing on the bills, and there are raised dots for the blind to read in Braille.

The symbol for twenty is six dots, like on dice.  This is repeated three times on the bill.  The conspiracy theory nuts are already out in full force, claiming that the six – six – six arrangement of Braille dots, proves that this is the Devil’s money.  Some of the more gullible and hyper-Christians are refusing to accept it.  All the more for the rest of us.  Let them carry tens.

While I agree with some of the Mint’s decisions, others are more questionable.  They saved money by changing the one and two dollar bills to coins, but ruin our pants and purses.  It’s possible to think you’re low on cash, when you still have twenty or thirty dollars worth of pocket change.

With at least six months notification, almost no establishment modified their bill-readers to accept the new money.  Trains, city transit and hospital parking machines all refuse to accept the new bills until they’ve been reprogrammed.  Way to go, guys.  Thanks for getting out ahead of this problem.

The Mint has stopped stamping out the Canadian penny, but they will remain in circulation for years.  A musical artist in New Brunswick wrote a song to mourn its passing, and put the image of several pennies on his album cover.  The Mint sent him a nasty note telling him that the rights to all images of Canadian money belong to them.  He’d have had to pay usage fees if he sold more than 1200 copies.  The Mint eventually backed down, when the David and Goliath story hit the newspapers.

The Toronto Sun printed a story about council cronyism, where friends were getting two-dollar-a-year leases.  On the cover of a newspaper with a million distribution, they placed the picture of two toonies, the Canadian two-dollar coins.  I wonder whether the Mint had the nerve to send them a letter.

Now there are rumors of the demise of the Canadian nickel, and maybe even the dime.  If they do that, they also want to eliminate the quarter and make twenty-cent pieces.  There’s even talk of a five dollar coin.  I begin to understand why England, having already switched over to decimal coinage, is refusing to accept the Euro.

A penny for my thoughts on Canadian money, or I could just go with my usual fee.