Compensations

Wed, Sep. 17th, 2014 09:11 pm
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
After a really tough day at work, after a day of not feeling particularly special in any way and feeling a little despairing, I shared a good meal with a good friend, and then came home to discover a Presidential Merit Award from The Elongated Collectors in the mail. Completely unexpected. It's a certificate and a beautiful elongated Kennedy half dollar engraved with the following:

--------------
Presidential Merit Award
"...ask what you can do..."
You didn't ask, you just did
Thank you from TEC
--------------

I nearly burst into tears right there.

The certificate says:

As President of The Elongated Collectors, I am pleased to present this award to
Janna Silverstein
in recognition of her service as TC Governor in charge of the annual Design Contest. She has done an outstanding job on the Design Contest, and brings an informed opinion to many items of discussion, thus saving us time and potentially money.

Signed,
Nancy Wooten, president
scarlettina: (Five)
1) LJ and post-writing: I'm getting lazy about my LJ posts, posting a lot of "5 Things" lists and not going in-depth. Bad me. But I've got two in-depth posts brewing that I hope to add this weekend: one on the Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films, which I saw last night with [livejournal.com profile] varina8 and one on all the evangelizing going on online about self-publishing and about writers who can't bother themselves to take an interest in the success of their own work.

2) Light-fixture shopping: Today I'm going light-fixture shopping. It should be fun, but I also admit that I'm a little intimidated. What if I get the wrong thing? What if the people in my life disagree with my choice of light fixture? What if . . . what if . . . what if? My plan is to photograph the room where the fixture will go, measure said room, and to engage the help of knowledgeable sales people wherever I go to look at fixtures. I may be intimidated, but I won't let that stop me. I'm laying groundwork for larger work to come.

3) Craftiness: I knitted a thing. Well, I knitted a scarf. I did it with a knitting loom, which somehow made it easier and more sustainable for me than using needles. It's a pretty thing in brown and pink. Will I knit another thing? Not sure, though I have a mild, incessant urge to go yarn shopping. I fear it.

4) Smashed penny stuff: I find myself once more on the Board of Governors of The Elongated Collectors. As such, I am the administrator for the club's annual coin design challenge. Members submit designs and the board selects a winner, said design to be turned into a smashed penny and distributed to the club. I really enjoy this event. My greatest regret, especially this year, is that as the administrator I can't submit a design. Why do I regret it this year? Because the theme is celebrating science and science fiction! :: sigh ::

5) Cats: Zeke and Sophie are both happy and healthy. But I am required by Their Royal Highnesses to rise from my bed at stupid-early in the morning, even on a holiday weekend. This makes for a cranky [livejournal.com profile] scarlettina. I may go back to bed for a bit before I actually go out to face the day.

Tradition!

Sat, Oct. 26th, 2013 11:02 pm
scarlettina: (Gaudens $20 piece)
I have other things to post about (like the department retreat and today's delightful concert) but first I want to post about the package I received from my brother and sister-in-law. I am virtually certain that my gearhead friends (among them [livejournal.com profile] jaylake and [livejournal.com profile] autojim) will recognize the tradition I'm about to share, but it's new to me.

So I got a package from Steve and Michele. Inside, besides the Mary Kay cosmetics I'd ordered from M, was a big red bow (unassembled) to put on my car to celebrate its newness and an envelope full of loose change to throw on the car's floor. I was . . . baffled, so I did what any good netizen does: I Googled "loose change in car". Here's what Wikipedia tells me:

There is a practice in New Jersey and New York of tossing a few coins onto the floor of a newly purchased car as a sign of good luck. This practice originated as a practical one. Because of the area's many toll roads, many drivers would carry change in their cars. The friends and family of the new car owner would throw coins onto the floor of the new car so if they driver ever ran out of his own money, he could always reach down and find some extra money on the floor.

Good New York girl I may be, but I was completely unfamiliar with this tradition. I shall have to scatter the coins on the car's floor tomorrow before I hit the road!
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
Today on Facebook, a penny-smashing friend of mine told me that she remembers how upset I was today 12 years ago. She remembers my posting the smashed-penny email list about the events of the day. It reminded me of the editorial I wrote for TEC News, the elongated coin club newsletter I was editing at the time. I used it for the issue of the newsletter that I published immediately after the event. I've dug out that editorial to share here:

Editorial Impressions: On collecting, sentiment and history

In June 2000, I went home to New York City to visit family and friends, and to get together with TEC member Egon Pavlis and his wife Margo. Egon, Margo and I met in the grand concourse at the bottom of the World Trade center, then took the speedy elevators up to the observation deck to take in the view and press some pennies. It was a beautiful day: warm, sunny and clear. We each smashed as many coins as we could, took some pictures and then departed for dinner.

I have fond memories of that day. It was the last time I was in New York and, consequently, the last time I’ll ever go to the WTC Observation Deck. I recently found the pictures I took: a picture of myself with Egon, Margo and myself with an elongating machine; a picture that faced north, showing all of Manhattan. I’ve looked at the ECs from that trip a lot lately. I owe that visit purely to my enthusiasm for this hobby and to Egon and Margo’s willingness to change their plans so we’d all be in New York at the same time. Until September 11, I thought of that day as just a fun day meeting new friends. Now, that memory is a treasure, something I’ll tell about in years to come the way my mother told me stories about her teenage years during World War II. It feels like it was a different time.

Many of the longtime collectors in TEC see their collections as an investment, and rightly so. These coins, their art, their rarity, have a value that is clear and significant. But many collectors come to the club as souvenir hunters first, unaware of the secondary collectors’ market or of the colorful history of the hobby, preserved by the Smashed Penny Museum. Souvenirs, like those I gathered on my visit to New York, can have an emotional value that can’t ever be quantified financially. Sometimes in our zeal to add to our collection, we lose sight of the fact that most ECs are reminders of some kind: of a place we visited, or of a historical event we remember or wish to commemorate.

ECs are also travelers through time. Think of the penny smashed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in your collection. Now think about how that valuable antique came to be: At some point, someone--maybe a little boy and his father--were at the Columbian Exposition, experiencing the wonders coming to be at the end of the 19th century. That EC was pressed, probably on an Indian Head cent, as a souvenir of a wonderful day. Now, more than 100 years--two World Wars, several major police actions, the falling of the Berlin Wall and the democratization of Russia--later, it’s a collector’s prize, but once it was a treasured memento.

Recently, on the elongated coin collector’s e-mail list, one subscriber scolded others for seeing ECs purely for their financial value rather than as sentimental keepsakes. We each have our own reasons for collecting elongated coins, and each of those reasons is a valid one. No one can predict which coins will be more valuable than others. I’m sure that at some point, coins from New York’s World Trade Center will become coveted collector’s items, and their value will be legitimate: the dies were lost in a historic catastrophe that touched the entire world. In the meanwhile, I’m going to keep my WTC ECs safe, mementos of a time and place that will always be important to me, and to the nation.
scarlettina: (Default)
Morning business
The original plan for yesterday (Friday) was to go to the Musee D'Orsay in the morning and then spend the afternoon at the Catacombs. What we realized when we rose was that we were pretty much out of groceries (we've been eating breakfast in the apartment each day to save a little cash), and had to do something about that. We also decided that we really wanted to attend a concert at Notre Dame the night before we depart Paris. All that being the case, we reorganized our plans a little bit, and I headed out early to Notre Dame to beat the crowds and take care of our business.

In the early hours, Notre Dame is quiet and feels more like a church than a tourist destination, which pleased me. I arrived at about 8:30, purchased a couple of tokens from machines in the chapel, and then settled down in a pew in the back to journal while I waited for the gift shop to open so I could buy the concert tickets. Sitting there in the twilight of the church, I got to watch as the place slowly came to life, with early mass and the rising tide of tourists who began to first trickle and then stream in. Elizabeth arrived shortly before 10 AM, and then at 10, when the gift shop opened, I purchased tickets for the concert. We then headed out for the day.

Breakfast was at a local cafe; acceptable food, nothing special. And then we went shopping. We acquired some of our needs at the local Carrefour, a small chain grocery for basics. We then went back to that series of shops I patronized a couple of days back for bread, meat, wine, and cheese. It was E's first visit to these places, and I could see she got a kick out of the experience. It makes us both feel pretty competent, completing transactions like this mostly in French and coming away with delicious things to eat. We acquired a loaf of rustic bread filled with hazelnuts, some ham that E particularly wanted to try, some chevre with basil, and a bottle of wine. We took everything back to the house and then got a start on the day,

Musee D'Orsay
By the time we finally headed toward the Musee D'Orsay, it was around 11 AM, a slower start than we originally planned, but it was very much needed. We're within walking distance of D'Orsay, as we are to the Cluny, so we marched over, taking in the city as we did so. The weather was lovely, a vast improvement over the rains we had the previous two days, so the walking was a pleasure even with our travel-sore feet.

Once inside, we took a moment to orient ourselves with a map and to prioritize what we wanted to see. The building is beautiful, a renovated train station, with all the lovely architectural features preserved in amongst the museum's more recent renovation for modernization. An enormous, elaborately decorated clock presides over the central alley of the museum from above the front door. The arched ceiling is checkerboarded with floral rosettes, and the arching lines are echoed across the whole building. The floor plan is really smart, offering galleries that are of limited size, with ample seating outside of each for patrons to rest their feet before moving on to other exhibits.

We chose to visit the Impressionists first. The introductory description to the hall where the history of Impressionism is presented in its glory quotes Gaugin as talking about "the right to dare to do anything." It's such a powerful idea--the right to do anything, especially from a man in an era in which such an idea was revolutionary, an era when each person had his role and was expected never to veer from it. And it was with that idea, the idea of breaking free, that the visitor is sent in to trace the origins of Impressionism, its full flowering, and its evolution into post-Impressionism and beyond.

Of course, I was nearly inarticulate with excitement at the prospect of being in the same room with the works of Vincent Van Gogh. I've loved his work since I was young, and so getting to see "La Meridienne," "La Nuit etoile" (not the Starry Night that appears on mugs and calendars the world over), and his self portraits among other works was just magical. What I wasn't prepared for was how the light just shines out of these works. Also--the thing you can't get from photographs--is how Van Gogh used texture not just to express the texture of what he was illustrating but as a way to capture the light in a room to augment the light and color in the work itself. These works are a little like shallow sculptures, like reliefs, using the ambient light to augment the illustrated light. It was also striking to see the difference between the two self portraits: one from 1887 and one from 1889. The earlier one shows him more robust, but with dark circles under his eyes; the latter one, a better-known work and more familiar to me, shows him older, thinner, with harder lines in his face, washed out from the more vivid portrait when he was younger.

I was taken with George Seurat's piece, "Cirque." It portrays a circus scene: a woman in a yellow dress standing on the back of a white horse in the ring, with a man in a brown suit looking on, a clown with fiery red hair in the foreground, and an acrobat flinging himself into the air in the background. Ever since I discovered my family's connection to the circus I've been fascinated with portrayals of same, and this was no exception. I was put in mind of some of [livejournal.com profile] ladyjestocost's portrayals of jesters. The motion here, the elongation of the figures, the stylized portrayal of the audience was all so striking.

The many Renoirs I saw were beautiful, but I was struck as I never have been before by the deadness of the eyes of the people in his art. The Manets and Monets were uniformly lovely. And every time I see something by Camille Pissarro, I'm drawn into the work. He's one of my quiet favorites. I've seen enough Gaugin, pretty much for a lifetime.

I discovered the works of an artist called Maximillien Luce about whom I want to learn more, as well as someone named Pierre Bonnard, whose portrait "Le Chat blanc" pleased me with its portrayal of a white cat with tabby markings rubbing up against a tree. Its elongated legs and sly glance toward the viewer made me smile. I was also fond of a picture called "Degas et son modele," a portrait of the artist working with a veiled young woman.

From the Impressionists, we went on to view some Symbolist and Orientalist work, about all of which I want to learn more. I was particularly taken with "Elephants of Africa" by Charles Emile de Tournemine. I was delighted by one painting that included a portrait of a woman who looked like one of my officemates.

Other works of note for me included Manet's "Olympia," the painting of a nude woman reclining and looking directly at the viewer that caused riots in Paris when it was first shown; Whistler's "Study in Gray and White" (known more widely as "Whistler's Mother"), a painting much, much larger than I expected it to be, and far more dynamic visually as well; and "Repasseuses" by Degas, two women at work, one of whom holds a bottle while yawning extravagantly, unaware of her viewers.

Of all the places we've been so far, marvelous as they have been, I've loved the D'Orsay best of all. It includes work from a period of time (1848 - 1915) that I find endlessly compelling. (It also made me want to visit the Frye Museum in Seattle again, full of works from a similar period of time.) If there's any opportunity to spend more time there, I hope I can. It's an amazing place.

A country-style dinner
We met [livejournal.com profile] mistymarshall at the museum. As stated earlier, our original plan had been to hit the catacombs in the afternoon, but our whole schedule got shifted. We stayed at the museum until it closed, completely entranced by the exhibits, by which time we were all hungry and ready to sit. Misty recommended a restaurant called Au Vieux Paris d'Arcole, a place that specialized in French country cuisine that she's been to many times. Over on Ile de la Cite just around the corner from Notre Dame, it's a small place with rich decor--and every single thing we ordered was delicious. We shared a dish called Odette's terrine with pate as an appetizer. Dinner for me was a steak with mushroom sauce with "many vegetables" (two broccoli florets, two kinds of potatoes, and a tablespoon of sauteed peppers--oh well. I continue to live in hope). I decided to forego dessert, but my tea came with a square of chocolate that was enough for me.

In a strange turn, at the end of dinner, after I put sugar into my tea and tasted it--simple Earl Grey--it tasted salty. Naturally, I returned it to the the waiter. Turns out that the restaurant cubes its own sugar, and had just cleaned the cubing machine with salt. They provided a fresh cup and fresh sugar cubes. We all had a moment: they cube their own sugar! Where in the US do they do that? It was a strange, entertaining moment.

We ended the day with another trip to Shakespeare & Company, where Misty and I got into a . . . passionate discussion about when Paranormal Romance became a marketing category in the US with one of the booksellers, and where Elizabeth picked up a number of books. The trick, or perhaps I should say the treat, with Shakespeare & Co--a tightly-packed warren of books on a huge variety of subjects--is finding books that you can't find in the US. For me, this wasn't a huge attraction, because I'm not looking for anything in particular. I feel a little disappointed in myself that this place isn't more of a thrill for me somehow, but its closeness and constant crowding make it a little too much for me. And while there is a certain treasure-hunt attraction in poking through the shelves, for some reason it just feels exhausting to me right now. I left without purchasing anything. We parted company from Misty and headed back to the apartment.


General notes and observations:
--The front door of our building is very heavy and scrapes the floor as we open and close it. It makes sounds like you'd expect to hear from the heavy, ancient door on a crypt in an old movie: scraping, clanking, and crunching when it shuts, with a crash and clasp when the lock engages.
--The steps in the building stairwell are wooden and narrow. Each time they turn, they are shaped like segments of a fan, even smaller than the usual steps. Their depth is also kind of uneven. All of this combines to make the trip up and down an exercise in balance, vertigo, and coordination.
--Turns out that we're within walking distance of the Monnaie de Paris--the French national mint--but its museum is closed for renovation through 2013. It does have a shop, but--and this may come as a surprise, it being me--visiting the shop isn't a huge priority. I'd like to go, but we have other things to do and see here that are more important. If there's time, I may still try to go, but I'm prepared for not being able to do everything I want to do; our time is limited. Still, we'll see.
scarlettina: (Peace Dollar)
In case you ever wonder why I'm a sometime numismatist (that's "coin collector" to you lay peoples), check out this article about America's rarest coin, and the history and mystery behind it. This is the stuff that bestsellers are made of (and also, maybe, a fantasy story . . .). You can't hold this particular coin in your hand, but you can purchase modern versions with the same obverse design from the Mint.

A little more coin trivia: The coin discussed in the article was sculpted by Augustus Saint Gaudens, who also created my favorite American coin, the Peace Dollar (see my icon). He is also the artist who artist James Gurney is discussing on his blog today (tip of the hat to [livejournal.com profile] jaylake who originally linked to the Gurney piece).
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
[livejournal.com profile] skidspoppe is living in Hungary these days, teaching and enjoying living in Europe. One of the ways he's enjoying his time there is by smashing coinage. This weekend in the mail, I received a smashed forint from St. Stephen Bassilica in Budapest. And what is shown on this Hungarian elongated coin? A relic: a severed hand. This is a first for me: a disembodied limb on a smashed coin. It's unsettling, but the forint makes an awfully nice elongated coin, doesn't it? Lookit that pretty golden color!



At some point, I should post about some of the ECs [livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell brought me back from Australia. Some of them are really cool and interesting.

Delaware squish

Sun, Aug. 29th, 2010 09:48 am
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
National Public Radio is currently running a series of stories about I-95, the north-south highway that runs along the east coast. This week's installment is about the new travel plaza in Delaware (I stopped at the old one a number of times growing up on family road trips and school field trips). And at the very end of the 10-minute story (which is very good indeed) Liane Hansen, the NPR reporter, disappointed by a glaring omission at the location, shows her colors: she's a penny squisher!
scarlettina: (Gaudens $20 piece)
By Saturday morning, I was actually a little tired of the convention. I was beginning to be aware of how much the trip was costing me purely in required spending (i.e., meals and incidentals) even without having spent all that much money on the bourse--and since the budget was tight, it was hard to enjoy the bourse without much in the way of financial freedom. That was just...hard. And I still hadn't done half of the sight-seeing I wanted to do. I had several tasks I had to attend to at the show before I felt my time was my own. I had to drop the auction money and accounting with the club president. I had to check in with a couple of dealers, exploring possibilities for business with TEC, and I wanted to visit one particular dealer in antique coins.

It was at the ancient-coin dealer's table that I got caught. )

But there was still sight-seeing to do. )

My day ended on Boston Common. I'd signed up to take a ghost-story walking tour. For 90 minutes, I and a group of fellow tourists followed a historian through the Common and around nearby streets as she told ghost stories and ghoulish anecdotes about the early--and latter--days of the city and its restless dead. I'd have enjoyed it more had I not been as desperately footsore as I was. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the stories (of characters like the Boston Strangler, Jolly Jane, Burley Grove, and of the ghosts of the Central Burying Ground and the Omni Parker House Hotel).

That ended my day, and I hightailed it back to my hotel via a cab. I couldn't take another step...and yet I faced one more day of walking on my abused feet.

At this point, I need to defend my kvetching about my feet. I was careful about packing for the trip, brought my walking shoes and good socks with me. And yet, for all this, I still ended up with a couple of really painful blisters. Perhaps it's time for me to buy new walking shoes. ::sigh::
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
Friday was Meeting Day for me, the day on which all of the TEC meetings were held: Board of Governors Meeting, General Membership Meeting, Fellowship Meeting. The festivities started extra early for me because I got up early to print out the auction catalog I'd created on Thursday, and enjoyed some unwelcome adventures getting it taken care of. Still, I was at the Board meeting at 8 AM. This meeting ran long; a majority of our board couldn't attend in person, which meant reading their reports aloud. It, um, took time. It bit into the General Membership Meeting by about a half hour. With only an hour assigned for the Membership Meeting, this sort of put a crimp on planned activities. In the end, the Membership Meeting consisted mainly of all in attendance introducing themselves, and then the distribution of freebie packets to attendees. This last bit is always a favorite activity and always well-received. I came home with some very special stuff, including a coin designed by perhaps the youngest designer-roller in the business right now, a special elongated featuring the TEC mascot (an owl) dressed in the Red Sox uniform pressed on a Mercury dime distributed exclusively to those in attendance, making it an instant rarity.

The Fellowship Meeting was intended to be a pizza party/trading/getting-to-know-you kind of event, but due to the morning's time over-runs, it transformed into a pizza party/auction. Every item donated for the auction was sold, and I came home with some lovely items: a penny booklet filled with hard-to-get baseball coins, a Doctor Who penny, and a set of commemorative Space Shuttle pennies engraved and rolled by one of the past masters of the field. Because we were short-staffed, I ended up recording all sales and gathering monies. I wrote up a report for the Board members not present and delivered everything to the President when it was all done. I took the opportunity to auction off a couple of Jay Lake elongated coins for the Clayton fund. We only raised $10, but it's something. I still have some Lake coins and may run another fundraiser for thos who missed out the first time.

I concluded the day with my friend OP and a friend of his by walking along the Charles River from Exeter Street into Beacon Hill at sunset. It was lovely, clear, and cool, though a little humid. Sunset on the river was beautiful. We had dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Phoenecia. OP is Israeli, and he was happy as a clam. He and the waiter spoke in Arabic a bit; I got by with my paltry two or three words and just enjoyed the food. Pleasant evening. I went to bed exhausted, realizing that the bulk of my walking in town was ahead of me, and a little concerned that I may have overdone it that night.
scarlettina: (Peace Dollar)
Yesterday morning, I met my friend OP for breakfast. We chatted about elongated collecting, about some issues related to The Elongated Collectors, and then we headed down to the bourse. I checked in at the TEC table and foiund our 82-year-old president about to hand-write a catalog of the items donated for our auction. I quickly volunteered to catalog items in an Excel spreadsheet instead. I took the donations and sped off to my room to create said spreadsheet; printed it out this morning for use at this afternoon's meeting.

After I returned the items to the president, I wandered off to visit the competitive exhibits. There were only three exhibits specifically focused on elongated coins; other exhibits included them in one fashion or another. Some of the general exhibits were quite interesting--the one on coins featuring cats was a favorite though, now that I think about it, I suspect this one was a repeat of something I saw a couple of years ago. There were creative entries featuring clipped coins and strike errors. There was a beautiful exhibit featuring wampum and a squash blossom necklace (similar to this) made of American coinage. Must get a photo of that item, now that I think of it.

I then attended the Token and Medal Society meeting. There, as I was hoping to, I ran into my buddy DS from whom I learned most of what I know about American tokens. he's a collector, dealer, and a banjo player. We left the meeting after the club business was complete but before the lecturer got too far into his lecture about neoclassical medallic art (mostly Napoleanic); the guy was a terrible speaker. Instead, DS treated me to lunch, we caught up a bit, and then wandered over to the most prominent token dealer on the bourse floor. I acquired a few nifty elongateds along with one extra-nifty, unpunched NYC subway token (and therefore an error!). I was strong and didn't buy the big fat book o' token collecting that I've wanted for a while now; I had to exercise financial restraint (I did more of that this morning and it was difficult).

The evening, the lovely evening, was spent with [livejournal.com profile] clea_s and her husband J. I want to write about it in some detail but I need to run off for an event now. Watch for Day 2, part 2 later....
scarlettina: (Peace Dollar)
Arrived in Boston two hours later than planned, a result of flight delays. As usual for the Sheraton Boston, my room was not ready (this is the third time out of three), so I checked my bags and headed over to the Hynes Convention Center.

It was strange to be attending a convention at the Hynes and not see people in costume. Well, I guess it depends upon the kind of costume we're talking about. Let me talk about that, and other stuff that I did )

My plan for today is to spend some time at the TEC table representing the club, to visit the Money Museum exhibit on the bourse, attend a meeting of the Token and Medal Society, and go see the competitive exhibits. Later this afternoon, I'll be meeting [livejournal.com profile] clea_s for a reunion 30+ years in the making (we haven't seen each other since I was in junior high school). I'm looking forward to that quite a bit.

At some point, I may post an entry about tomorrow's TEC meetings (a board meeting, a general membership meeting, and a fellowship meeting). I need to get my thoughts in order before things begin.

In health news, my back is still spasming. And yesterday, while heading to Brookline, I took a tumble on the street and bruised my palms. I credit the latter to exhaustion and an unfamiliarity with the terrain (curbs here are higher than I'm used to). I credit the former to stress of all sorts. But none of it is stopping me.
scarlettina: (Are we there yet?)
Breaking spines: Had dinner with my friend GS WINOLJ last night. She asked to come back to my place so she could visit the kitties; long as she was there, I thought I'd show her the two anthologies in which I had stories published last year. What does she do, first thing? She takes one of the two books, the only copy I have, looks at the table of contents, then opens the book and breaks the spine. I saw it happening in slow motion and actually leaped at her to stop it. I didn't even think about the reaction. She broke the spine of the copy I'd read cover to cover without breaking the spine. Who breaks the spine of a book deliberately? A book that isn't theirs? I was so angry. She said she didn't even think about it and she didn't know why she did it. She said she'd replace the book. [livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell said his copy is still intact and that if he can find it, he'd trade me mine for his, bless him. Really, though? Who does this? ::sigh::

Coin collecting: This weekend is the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association coin show, an annual event that I missed last year for the first time in a very long time. I really want to go to the show, but I don't really have the money to shop. I'm trying to decide if I should just bag the trip entirely, if it would just be too hard to go and not add to the collection while I'm there. The exhibits are always fun, and it's fun seeing the dealers I know. Sometimes the presentations are interesting. I dunno. I need to think about it.

Envy envy envy: [livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell is planning some major travel. I certainly can't afford to go to Australia. Wish I could go with him to Florida to see the shuttle launch (I totally supported him when he initially talked about taking the trip, knowing I couldn't go myself) but that's not really doable either. I'm delighted for him, but I'm envious of him, too. I hope things get better this year financially. ::sigh::

A lot of sighing: Yes, there's a lot of sighing going on around here. It's mostly the money thing. I'll get through; I always do. I'd just like to be in a position where I don't have to remind myself over and over again that that's the case. My attempts over the last couple of days to think about alternate sources of income have been distractions, really, and I know it.

Bright spot: The one bright spot on the horizon is that a week and a half from now, I'll be off to Oregon for a weekend's writing retreat. That will be a goodness. It will be inexpensive, it will give me some time to devote to my writing, and I'll get to visit with friends. Must bear this in mind, and be hard-working and productive over the next ten days or so. That way, when I leave the house, I'll feel virtuous and deserving, and will be able to enjoy the time away with a clear and happy conscience.
scarlettina: (Default)
The bourse
The bourse,
originally uploaded by scarlettina.

Yesterday I drove south to Portland for the ANA National Money Show. It's sort of the spring version of the show I attended in Baltimore last summer. I could only make it for one day, but I really crammed in all I could. As previously noted, I came home with some lovely treasures: some antique elongated coins, some tokens, and my prize of the day--a beautifully chopped trade dollar. I'll post pictures of some of the coins sometime tomorrow when I have time to photograph them properly along with explanations.

I love treasure-hunting on the bourse (that's the dealer's room you see in the picture). It's fun because everyone is looking for something different. It's like walking through a very specialized museum that allows you to occasionally take an exhibit home. I enjoy talking to dealers--most of them are friendly and interested in talking to someone who is passionate about what they do. Some of them are grim businessmen present just to earn their nut for the weekend plus whatever else they can get. I tend to think that they're the ones who raise the bar to entry when it comes to coin collecting. They're the stone-faced guys who never crack a smile, the ones who often project a sense that unless you're one of the boys, you're beneath their attention. They make it tougher for the newbies. And then there are the guys in between who will stone-face you while you shop and try to chat them up a little, then show their hand at the end of the transaction by cutting you a deal. I dealt with one of those guys this weekend. It was an interesting encounter. I'll probably do business with him again, but I'm going to work to make him smile next time, because I suspect he's got a nice smile if he'd just loosen the hell up.

I met some penny-smashing buddies for lunch. We left the show to go eat at Red Robin, to trade elongated coins, and share hobby gossip. Lovely to see Carolyn and Travis after several years' hiatus. Looks like we might try to set up another PNW penny-smasher's meet this spring.

If I have any regrets about the show, it's that I missed Friday's presentation on coins and currency of the Civil War and Saturday's meeting of Women in Numismatics. I just couldn't get there Friday for the former, and I wasn't crazy enough to attempt to get up early enough on Saturday to get to Portland by 8:30 to attend a 9 AM meeting for the latter. But there will be other occasions; I'm certain of it.

See more pictures at the Flickr set.

After the show, I headed over to [livejournal.com profile] jaylake's place. We went out for Greek food and then spent the evening catching up. I headed out this morning, making the obligatory stop at Powell's where I picked up a beautiful copy of Moby Dick for almost nuthin', a copy of Water for Elephants, which I've been wanting to read, and a silly, girly note pad to keep next to my laptop when I need to keep track of little things.

The only thing that put a damper on the fun was discovering a leak in one of my tires. I don't know if it's serious enough that it will require replacement. Will be looking into that this week. But this wasn't enough of a damper to ruin the afterglow. It was a terrific weekend.

And now, back to the rest of life.

PS: Watched the premiere of "Kings" tonight, the new alt-universe drama on NBC starring Ian McShane, and it's awfully good. If you didn't catch it tonight, catch it online. Really worth the watching.
scarlettina: (Gaudens $20 piece)
...but it's in the recent tradition of the US Mint kicking up the dust around US coinage.

"In 2009, the United States Mint will mint and issue four different one-cent coins in recognition of the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birth and the 100th anniversary of the first issuance of the Lincoln cent."

Of the four designs you'll see at the link above, I'm only really happy with the third and fourth. At least this set puts paid to the constant rumors of the demise of the American cent, unattractive though some of these new designs may be.

Perhaps it's my preference for more classical design in coinage. I still think that American money is, generally speaking, some of the ugliest in the world. My favorite American designs come from earlier eras, the Peace dollar, for example.

I think the coin that's had the second most interesting run (after the dollar coin) is the nickel, because I don't think there's been but one design clunker throughout its issues. It's mostly been graced with terrific designs: the Indian head/buffalo and the liberty nickel, for example. The modern nickel is a sturdy, handsome design. And though I wasn't fond of the full portrait nickel (the clunker in my opinion, though it's not really that bad), I loved this Jefferson nickel design, which came and went in the blink of an eye, though I think it was the handsomest of the new designs issued in the last few years.

And while I'm on the subject of coins, I should note that in 2009 the Mint will be issuing 6 new quarter designs, commemorating Washington D.C. plus America's five territories: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I guess they felt left out. I need to decide if I'm going to collect these or not. I still haven't finished my state quarter collection quite yet. ::grumble::

Anyway, that's today's numismatic news. Back to your regularly scheduled programming....
scarlettina: (Hug)
My right shoulder and neck are still painful. I don't know what's going on there. Today, despite the impending heat, I'm going to try applying a heating pad to relax it, and more Advil.

I've been thinking about taking a day trip to Friday Harbor, or maybe making it an over-nighter. Any Seattle locals have any recommendations for what to do or see? Should I take my car or not?

I've been dipping my toes into coverage of the Olympics. Michael Phelps' performance is astonishing. I can't imagine what it must be like not only competing at this level but being subject to such intense media glare. What diving I've seen is, as always, breathtaking. The weather's been so lovely and I've had so much stuff to take care of that I haven't been watching as much of the Olympics as I usually do. I am, it seems, less inclined to watch TV than usual right now. I can't see this as a bad thing (though Project Runway is still my one reliable weekly appointment).

It looks like I've got a trade set up with a British smashed penny collector to acquire the Doctor Who penny I posted about a few days ago. She's also got the Millennium Center set for me along with some other coins as well, as I'll be sending her a package and will be receiving a big package in the next month or so. Yay!

Merlin starts his blood pressure medication today. The dose is tiny--a quarter of a pill. Should be interesting.
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
DO, whom I met at the ANA show, asked me if I'd post pictures of my collection of Jewish-themed elongated coins. They're relatively hard to find and I always snatch them up when I find them. Anyway, no point in only one person seeing them, so I thought I'd post a link to the photo-set so that anyone interested might get to see them, too.
scarlettina: (Pennysmasher)
This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands.

I was cruising PennyCollector.com this afternoon and discovered that their location list includes penny machines in Cardiff. Now, as some of you may recall, I was in Cardiff last September specifically to visit locations related to Doctor Who and Torchwood. Weirdly, I did not bother to check PennyCollector.com about whether or not there were penny-smashing machines in the city before I went. Well, turns out that I should have. At the Doctor Who Exhibition (though I didn't see it) there apparently was a machine providing a smashed penny with a TARDIS on it. And apparently there's machine at the Millennium Center also, with four really cool designs.

I feel like an idiot, having missed these. I've written to my penny-smashing cohorts to see if anyone has extras for trade, and I've posted to the LJ Doctor Who community to see if there's anyone in Cardiff willing to make a trip for me. I suspect I'm out of luck but a girl can hope.

Oy.
scarlettina: (Gaudens $20 piece)
Spent about two hours at the show yesterday, pre-departure. Spent part of it working the TEC booth, part of it trolling the Budget section of the bourse looking for coins with which to experiment. The idea of experimentation was planted late Saturday when Ray suggested I take some wooden nickels back to my room, soak them in water overnight, and bring them to the booth Sunday morning to see if we could elongate them. I followed his instructions and brought them, wrapped in plastic to preserve their soaked state, to the booth Sunday morning. Well, two of them shredded. One of them rolled. We did, however, have to snip them so they were narrow enough to put through the machine and even then, the results weren't impressive or interesting enough to really preserve. Ray said he'd stretched wooden nickels before, but it just wasn't working very well yesterday morning.

The coins I found to experiment with I chose mostly for aesthetic purposes: an 8-sided Maltese quarter (IMHO, Ray didn't set the machine to enough pressure to roll the thing out as effectively as he might have), a Guernsey four doubles with a flower on it, an Irish coin with the a hen and some Gaelic on the back and, my favorite, a Greek coin with a beautiful phoenix rising from the ashes on it.

I spent 12 hours trying to get home yesterday. The flight from Baltimore to Philly was fine; the flight from Philly to Seattle was delayed two hours, switched gates and vehicles, and then they still had the nerve to charge people for dinner and movies. I'd eaten in the airport. Their big compensation? Free soft drinks...because on August 1, US Airways started charging for soft drinks on flights. Travelers, take note.

I'm going to take a little time to think about my conclusions on the trip and the convention before posting them here, so I expect there to be one more post about ANA before I move on. I'll also be writing a little piece for [livejournal.com profile] davidlevine and [livejournal.com profile] kateyule's zine Bento, which will include some new material in it, too.
scarlettina: (Gaudens $20 piece)
Between the time I last posted yesterday and the banquet, I mainly trolled the bourse and chatted people up.

Book: One interesting development: Ray practically gave me what is the most expensive reference book on elongated coins, a 1,000+ page encyclopedia on elongateds from 1960-1977. It's a hard-bound, self-published thing written by a guy named Angelo Rosato who, during my time as editor of the elongated collectors newsletter, demonstrated -- as a result of his creation of this monster -- a sense of entitlement and self-importance that has rarely been matched in my experience in any field. In the wake of those experiences, I swore -- despite an interest in owning the book -- that he'd never get my money for it. (He typically charges around $300 plus shipping.) Ray sold me his personal copy for a song, and paid for the shipping to my home. The thing's a cinder block and I'm not sure where I'll put it, but it will be used.

The Young Numismatists (Sounds like a Discovery Channel series, doesn't it?): I haven't talked about the kids beyond generalizations yesterday, but I wanted to be sure that I did. The kids here -- the serious ones, the Young Numismatists, or YNs as they're called -- are a scary, impressive bunch. Ranging in age from about 14-18, they are typically very intelligent, scarily articulate, and far, far more knowledgeable than most casual collectors (like myself). They feel like a different tribe than kids in the SF community, though I think they're distant kin. After talking to these kids, my thoughts have been that a) their parents are doing something right, letting their kids follow their passion, b) they're all respectful, smart, and self-confident, and c) they're all probably school valedictorians and class presidents including, I'm pleased to say, the blond 15-year-old girl with a clear sense of popular-girl style who won three major awards for her exhibits yesterday. She was atypical of the otherwise male, slightly nerdy bunch of YNs I met.

Women in the community: The aforementioned YN was good to see. Prominent female numismatists are pretty thin on the ground here and, with very few exceptions, are over 60 with little or no computer savvy or idea of how to do outreach. I found myself hoping that the female YN (whose name I totally missed) got to meet some of the younger women in the community, otherwise she would probably feel pretty conspicuous -- and I'm sure she did when she had her picture taken with the other exhibit award winners, all of whom were men 45+ years of age except for her. Myself, I missed every single Women In Numismatics event at the show, which I really regret. It was a result of the challenges of programming, everything scheduled against everything else. Very frustrating for me. Interestingly (and a little scarily), the new president of the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association (PNNA), a woman a little younger than me, told me last night that she wants to talk to me about running for the board of directors of PNNA, as she's the only woman, the only member under 60, and the only one with any tech savvy at all. I made no promises except to listen (I learned my lesson with the chorus). We're supposed to have dinner sometime after we get back to Seattle.

The banquet: Most of us have attended banquets of some sort or other, so I don't need to get into excessive detail here. The most impressive thing about this gathering was the economy with which its proceedings were handled. We were in and out of the banquet hall in less than two hours, including speeches and awards (and nearly 15 awards were given). Dinner was steak and a crab lump cake with potatoes au gratin and a chocolate dessert I can't even describe except to say that it was delicious. With the exception of the 14-year-old YN with us, I was one of the two youngest people at the table; everyone else was 60+. I did some networking -- habit more than a requirement, as there's not a lot I want or need in this community except to enjoy myself. And yet I find myself spending a lot of time with pretty prominent folks in the field -- and I don't know how or why it's happening! I have some decisions to make about how much I want this all to be a part of my life because I can see that just the fact of my interest in the field at all is creating a space for opportunities to be presented (see above re: PNNA). I need to decide if they're opportunities I want or not. In any case, I'm glad I attended the banquet. It was a pleasant way to spend the evening. The food was good.

This morning, I have to run one errand at the convention center and then I have to prepare for my departure. I haven't gotten out into the city the way I wanted to, but I shouldn't be surprised. This is the way of conventions, regardless of type.

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