The falling leaves, and other parts

Alexander Hamilton was the most significant immigrant in early US history.

maple treeYou can blame Jaquandor for much of this post. A bit ago, he linked to this lovely poem about an old maple tree coming down.

I don’t think I pay attention to the trees, or nature generally, enough. A few months ago, a huge branch fell from our tree, a maple as it turns out, in the farthest part of the back yard. The massive branch, too heavy for me to move, barely missed the shed, but it turned into an accordion our compost container.

Just recently, the branches have been removed, and the tree is now clipped, but still massive. The last time said the tree was trimmed, we were told it may need to come down altogether in a few years if the clipping doesn’t help it regenerate. That’d be too bad, for it provides great shade.

Meanwhile, nearer to the house, an oak tree has sprung up. It wasn’t even there when we moved in in 2000, and we didn’t plant it, but it is thriving nonetheless.
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Also, Jaquandor did one of his random Wednesday Conversation starter questions. To wit:

“Should we get rid of the dollar bill in favor of a coin?
“And what changes would you make to US currency in general?”

Yes to the dollar coin (which Americans seem to have rejected). This still bugs me. The US Mint continues to make the Presidential dollar coins, four each year. 2015 brings Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, which I’ll buy in November from a vendor at thrice face value because they are no longer distributed to the banks.

Take Jackson off the $20 bill and put Harriet Tubman on it.

Leave the damn $10 bill alone; Alexander Hamilton was the most significant immigrant in early US history, he was a founding father, I attend what was his church (albeit a different building), AND they’ve made a cool, hip hop Broadway musical about him. (The junior senator from our state agrees about Hamilton and the $10.)

Someone else suggested getting rid of the penny, which cost way more than its face value to mint; I’d be good with that as well. Canada has one dollar and two-dollar coins, as well as no more pennies, which pretty much ensures that the United States will maintain the status quo.
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When I visit Blogger blogs to make comments, usually for ABC Wednesday, I HATE the setting by which one has to verify one is not a robot by picking all the steaks, or salads, or whatever. The pics are small enough that it is really a hassle.

And it’s worse when the instructions are in, e.g., French. I had to pick out the “boisson”, which, oddly, I remembered from high school French as some sort of drink, but still.

I also hate the ones that ask me to do a math problem, and the word numbers are in, German. I guessed it was four plus two, but it’s likewise a pain.

I am a collector

Yes, sometimes, I would manually calculate BA and ERA, because it was fun.

Chuck Miller wrote a piece about collecting, which inspired this.

Stamps

My actual stamp collecting was only for a year or two when I was eight or nine, but I have my great aunt’s book of stamps from around the globe. It’s a fascinating tome, mostly unfilled, but it tells an interesting story of the world from the period before World War II.

There were times, particularly in the 1980s and I was doing mail order when I would keep an interesting stamp that came in, but it was in no particularly organized way, and I have no idea where they are today.

Coins

I used to collect pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars. I knew about the mints in Philadelphia (P) (generally unmarked in the day) from Denver (D) and even San Francisco (S). But the theft of the half dollar coins in my childhood soured me.

I was getting the Presidential $1 coins, but they are so unpopular with the general public, they are only available to coin dealers. So last year, and again this year, I capitulated and spent $2.95 each for a P & a D for each $1 Presidential dollar, starting with Chester A. Arthur. Ticks me off that Americans haven’t taken to the dollar coins, because I love them.

If I see a wheat penny (1909-1958), I throw it into my Mickey Mouse bank that I’ve had for decades.

Baseball cards

From about 1960 on, I was collecting baseball cards. Most of them were from a company called Topps, but I also had some that were on the back of boxes of Post cereals, e.g. I remember some gold and red cards, but no longer its provenance.

What I do remember is reading the backs of the cards to read each position player’s AB (at bats), number of H (hits), 2B (doubles), 3B (triples), HR (home runs) and the BA (batting average.) Pitchers were measured by W (wins), L (losses), K (strikeouts), BB (walks), IP (innings pitched and ERA (earned run average). Yes, sometimes, I would manually calculate BA and ERA, because it was fun.

Unfortunately, I had left my cards at my grandmother’s house when I went to college, and kept them in this olive green container, which was stolen in the great theft of 1972.

Subsequently, I bought a couple season sets of Topps cards in 1986 and 1987. Alas, they were in the damp basement of my current abode, and they’ve stuck together in a mass i just can’t bear to look at. Maybe a few are salvageable.

Hess trucks

I described this collection here. Not much more to say except it remains on my annual Christmas list. My friend Mary still has some earlier ones I’ll buy when I can afford to.

Comic books

I wrote about the origins of my collecting in this narrative for Trouble with Comics. In college, I was buying my new comics, first at an inconvenient convenience store in Highland (NY), then at the Crystal Cave, in New Paltz, one of the first true comic shops. But in addition to the store and mail order, you could buy comics at garage sales and the like.

In the 1980s, I was buying virtually all the Marvels, plus almost all the “independents”, such as Pacific, First, et al. Not so much DC, though the stories not so tied to the universe, such as Warlord, I’d get. Once I left FantaCo in 1988, and wasn’t getting a discount anymore, I cut back, getting most Marvels, but also the weirder stuff.

By the 1990s, it wasn’t that I hated comics, but I hated the comic market, with innumerable #1s and even #0s. So I sold my collection in 1994. It wasn’t until this past summer that I came across a cache of comics I bought in 1993 and 1994, unread. So maybe it WAS also that comics themselves had lost their luster for me. I also found, only this summer, a magazine box of Savage Sword of Conan, and the Hulk, and Marvel Preview, which I had meant to sell two decades ago, but somehow missed.

Almost every year the first Saturday in May, I go to Free Comics Day, and it’s like visiting a place I used to live. I pick up random items.

I do still have books of comic art: Elfquest, Groo, the original Dark Knight saga, Swamp Thing, and those Marvel Masterworks, among others.

Enough of this; next time out, books and music. A LOT of music.

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II on stamps and coins

No living person can appear on US postage or money.

Because it’s been 60 years since she ascended to the throne in the United Kingdom, there have been a number of commemorative coins and stamps issued with the image of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. But long before that, QEII’s image has been showing up around the world.

I came across The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, as they appear on World Banknotes, which is an interesting evolution of the Queen, now in her ninth decade.

Her portrait was first featured on coins in 1953 issued in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Fiji, Jamaica, Malaya & British Borneo, Mauritius, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Whether or not she is wearing her crown depended on the monarchy’s relationship with the country.

Someone asked: How many countries coins has Queen Elizabeth II been on? The best answer seems to be from Sap, posted 1/27/2010, from which I will note here (since the permalink doesn’t work):

* circulation coins used to have Queen’s portrait but no longer do so today
# only commemoratives have featured the Queen’s portrait

Australia, Bahamas*, Belize, Canada, Cyprus*, Dominica#, Gambia*, Great Britain, Grenada#, Jamaica*, Kiribati#, Mauritius*, New Zealand, Nigeria*, Papua New Guinea#, Saint Kitts & Nevis#, Saint Lucia#, Saint Vincent & Grenadines#, Seychelles*, Tuvalu, Uganda*, Zambia*, plus Fiji (“a Republic and expelled from the Commonwealth but still has the Queen on all its coinage”). This doesn’t even count the various former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean (including current Guyana), Hong Kong, and what is now Malaysia and Singapore, all of which had had QEII on the money in the day.

Check out a timeline of the Queen’s appearance on Australian coins.

As for postage, you find useful Queen Elizabeth II: A Portrait in Stamps (Paperback) By Fay Sweet. The description of the book: “Since her accession to the throne in 1952, the Queen’s image on UK stamps has become one of the most familiar and reproduced icons of all time. This book illustrates the reign of Her Majesty as celebrated on Britain’s stamps.” Here’s a List of British postage stamps. This commercial vendor has a detailed QEII section.

In Canada, there is have been annual definitive stamps bearing the Queen’s likeness. I couldn’t find as definite a piece about QEII on stamps as I did for coins, but I expect a large overlap.

All of this is very, well, foreign, to me, since no living person can appear on US postage or money. There will postage stamps commemorating former Presidents a year after they die. The FDR dime and the JFK half-dollar were both issued in the year following their respective deaths (1946, 1964, respectively).

ABC Wednesday – Round 10

Presidents Day – coins and candidates

We may have other chances at a candidate born in the fifties, but Paul will certainly be our last chance to select a Depression baby.

 

They blew it. The US Mint is dropping the $1 US Presidential coin. Well, not entirely. Those entities that sell them to collectors will receive some, but I can’t, in good conscience, BUY a $1 coin for $3 or more. Lost history, plus a chance to drop the dollar bill missed. Plus they ended the public run with an assassinated President, James Garfield, and dissed poor Chester A. Arthur, who would have been released this month. Hey, if you happen across any of them, post-Garfield, please let me know.
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I was looking at the 2012 Republican field for President and realized that I should be supporting Ron Paul!

I jest about that, but if Ron Paul were somehow elected, he would have a quality that no other U.S. President has had: he would be born in the 1930s; his birth was in 1935. We’ve never had ANY President born in the 1930s, OR the 1950s, for that matter. Barack Obama was born in 1961, both Bush II and Clinton in 1946, both GHW Bush and Carter in 1924, and Reagan, Ford, Nixon, and Kennedy all in the 1910s.

Looking at the potential field, some of which never got traction, and others who dropped out, we have, besides Paul:

Newt Gingrich, Buddy Rohmer 1943
Herman Cain 1945
Willard “Mitt” Romney 1947
Rick Perry 1950
Gary Johnson 1953
Michele Bachmann 1956
Rick Santorum 1958
Jon Huntsman 1960

We may have other opportunities to select a President born in the fifties, but Paul will certainly be our last chance to pick a Depression baby.

Lists of best and worst Presidents tend to engender partisan debates. Here, then, is Salon’s Who’s the worst president of them all? It’s really difficult not to have Buchanan in the bottom three, at least.

Richard Nixon’s Watergate grand jury testimony. Watergate was a pivotal moment in both my life and the country’s.
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A little off-topic: This year is the 100th anniversary of “Melody in A Major” by Chicago banker Charles G. Dawes, later Vice-President under Calvin Coolidge. You might recognize the song, with lyrics added decades later, as It’s All In The Game.

Dollar Coin Gathers Dust

There is only one way to get Americans to use dollar coins, and that is to do away with the paper dollar.

A couple of months ago, ABC News, following up on an NPR story, did an “expose” involving the US unused, and purportedly unwanted, dollar coins.

“Passed by Congress in 2005, the Presidential $1 Coin Act ordered the mint to make millions of coins to honor every dead president, but not even Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., one of the co-sponsors of the original bill, uses the legal tender.” It goes on to explain that these coins are being stored, at no small expense, in warehouses, which does appear to be a waste of money.

Implicit in the ABC News story was that the obvious solution is to get Congress to get the Mint to stop making the coins.

Well, that’s one way to look at it, but I would suggest something else, which is in step with this coin expert:
“As for the U.S. circulating dollar coins, virtually everyone agrees that there is only one way to get Americans to use them, and that is to do away with the paper dollar. Doing so would also save a lot of money since dollar coins, like other circulating coinage, lasts for decades, while paper bills have a much shorter life span. Many people seem reluctant to give up their paper dollars because they do not want to carry around dollar coins, but unless you have a lot of them in your pocket they are really not that heavy. They weigh about the same amount as a quarter, and most of us have no problem carrying quarters in our pockets or purses. I am sure we could make the adjustment if we had to.”

Using the Presidential dollar coin would have some other benefits. Americans might actually learn who their Presidents were. Moreover, I think the notion that “nobody wants them” is self-fulfilling. Except for one branch of one bank, I cannot regularly FIND the new releases of the Presidential $1 coin around Albany. If more people actually saw them, they would use them, and might even collect them. They’ve worked in every vending machine I’ve tried.

As I understand it, when Canada got rid of its dollar bill in favor of a coin – the Loonie – back in the 1980s, there was some resistance. But, as I noticed during our family visit to Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario last month, it’s no longer a big deal.

WAIT…

I have late word that the United States cannot get rid of its dollar bill because it would be a threat to its freedom. Frankly, I’m not sure what that means. Maybe we’re all Stonecutters who are resistant to “foreign” things such as the metric system, even as we drink our two-liter bottles of Pepsi.