Friday, December 23, 2005


As part of the big cleaning and packing drive, I lugged the massive pile of coins on my dresser over to a local coinstar machine. I'd been lured by the promise of no-fee Amazon gift certificates. Unfortunately, however, this appears to be a bait and switch, since none of the machines in Nashville will actually do it. Having already schlepped many tons of coins over to Kroger, I went ahead and paid the fee to have them counted. To my astonishment, I discovered that I had almost $250 in change sitting around my bedroom. Even with the fee, I still cleared around $220, which isn't bad for 20 minutes work!

It was also fun to look at what the machine kicked back. Besides some severely-mutilated US coinage, there were things with a more interesting history. To wit: coins

  1. Deutschmark, probably left over from the exchange program trip I took to Germany in Summer, 1992. Perhaps a collectors item now, since Deutschmarks no longer exist!

  2. 50 Pfenig coin. Another collector's item.

  3. Random token with no cash value. Probably from Chuck-e-Cheese or somwhere of its ilk.

  4. Token from Buttons Arcade in Syracuse, NY. In college, I took a course called "Literature and the Working Class." To begin a discussion about class in America, the professor divided us up into groups and sent us out into the community to observe people and take notes. Our group decided to go to Buttons, an arcade in a seedy dying mall in North Syracuse. Pretty sure this token came from that trip.

  5. MBTA T token from the Boston subway. From one of my many trips to Boston. I should hang onto this to use in a few weeks when I arrive in Boston.

  6. 1776 coin. Don't know where this came from. I think it might have been part of a solicitation for some magazine published by the History Channel.

  7. 100 Pesos from Argentina. My dad's sister used to be married to a guy from Argentina. After living in Montana during the 1970s, they moved to Argentina during the early 1980s, and lived there for the rest of the decade. (Which is why my cousins all speak fluent Spanish.) This coin probably came from one of my grandmother's trips to visit them. Interestingly, claims that 100 Pesos are worth roughly $33 US dollars. But I suspect that the currency has been revalued since the 1980s, so I doubt this little coin is really worth that much. Maybe one day I'll get to go to Argentina and find out.

  8. 2 Mexican Pesos. Left over from my trip to Mexico in Spring, 2004. This side shows the eagle on the cactus eating a snake, which is the Mexican national symbol. The other side has nifty little prehistoric-looking heiroglyphs around the edges.

  9. Another German 50 Pfenig piece.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray

I'm in a foul mood today. Not entirely sure why, but here's one possibility:

I keep trying to actually finish projects and check them off my neverending to-do list at work. Lately, every time I take what I've done to someone, they come up with five more questions or action items that I simply must take care of before I can make the thing go away.

I just want to yell "Don't you know that I'm out of here in three weeks? Can't you let me just finish something for god's sake?"

Did I mention I'm in a foul mood?

Also, I had a phone interview for a graduate fellowship/assistantship in Boston this morning. I'm not even sure I want the danged thing. It has lousy hours, doesn't pay real well (although it does pay for a big chunk of tuition), and requires doing more of the frontline techy stuff I'm trying to escape. At the same time, I'm totally qualified and will probably be crushed if they don't offer it to me.

I won't know how I did until January when they make a decision. But talking about myself for 45 minutes to complete strangers has a way of pumping a healthy dose of self-doubt into my bloodstream.

Did I mention I'm in a foul mood?

Oh, yeah, and it's freakin' sub-zero in my office right now. I can't feel my fingers. I feel like I'm in a Jack London story.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Move update

Yeah, umm, well, that whole decorating thing hasn't really happened. Somehow in the last week it finally hit me that I really only have two full weekends between now and when I'm packing the truck. (I am flying up to DC next Saturday, and am going to stay there all week, telecommuting part of the time. After that, back to Nashville for two weeks, and then off to Boston.)

I now have most of my books and assorted other things packed up in boxes, and am slowly working through the rest of a long to-do list. I got glasses made. (Mandated by the fact that my old decrepit ones finally broke.) I keep bringing home new loads of personal papers and junk from my office at work, then trying to sort through them. I made cookies for the office party. I sent an obsolete U-matic video tape from college off to be transposed to MiniDV. I painted a shelf that I started stripping in 2000 and then never finished. I ordered bubble wrap and other packing stuff online. I inquired about my dental benefits and verified that I can make a dentist appointment after I leave in January. I arranged for the replacement of the malfunctioning computer monitor. I returned one poorly-fitting pair of shoes that had been sitting around for months. (I highly recommend for shoe purchases -- they have tons of shoes for hard to fit feet, and a easy return policy.) I returned another pair that had begun unraveling after hard use in Spain, and Propet is going to replace them for free. (Also highly-reccomend Propet shoes. While I had trouble with this pair after hiking around Spain, I have another pair of sneakers that has been great. And all their shoes have a "thousand mile guarantee," and good customer service to back it up.)

That's just the stuff I can remember off the top of my head. There are a million more things that have to happen between now and February 1. Ack!

Despite all that, sometime before I leave I'm hoping to find time to go down to Murfreesboro and learn how to print photos. While I've been an amateur photographer for years and have recently spent more time and effort improving my skills and equipment, I've still never actually done old-school printing. (I was introduced to darkroom work while in college, but only got as far as developing. There was less need to print at that point because we were already able to scan from negatives.)

I ran into a old friend/retired photojournalist at a party recently, and she offered to teach me the process in her home darkroom. She still remembers the first time she saw an image materializing out of nothingness on phoograhphic paper, and wants to share the experience. I really hope I can find time to do this. (Admittedly, printing photos this way is quickly becoming an anachronism, but it's still appealing to me.)

Just started reading "Better Off by Eric Brende, a meditation on a life with less technology. The author, an MIT grad student, conducts an experiment in simple living by spending 18 months in a (sort of) Mennonite community with no electricity. Very interesting -- may have more thoughts on this later.