Dumping Coins

Washed and ready for refilling

Washed and ready for refilling

For many many years, since I was a kid, I’ve kept a coin jar for collecting loose change. Piggy banks are boring, you can’t see what they hold inside! Coin jars rock. You can see your hoarded coins accumulate and shake them around hunting for the right coin to suit your needs. My jars sit in my closet, and each day I add whatever silver is in my pocket to the smaller of the two jars, and segregate pennies into the larger jar. The silver jar sees a lot of traffic, both in and out, as the whole family would routinely fish for quarters to help pay for a day’s lunch or bus fare. But the pennies just accumulated. Once in the jar, there’s never any real reason for a penny to come back out. Until today.

Today I acted on a notion that I had since the start of the year, that maybe it’s time to dump the coins, turn them into more practical funds, and give each jar a fresh start. So here’s how that went.

First, upon hearing of my plan, daughter Colleen asked if she could first help herself to quarters from the silver jar. I dumped the jar and gave her some time to hunt and gather quarters as I bagged the rest of the coins. She managed to scoop up $11 in the process. The remaining silver and all of the pennies, now dumped into plastic bags for transport, headed to the local grocery with me for tallying in the Coinstar machine. Now back in the day, I remember the burdensome chore of getting paper coin rolls, carefully counting out all of your coins and rolling them, and then having to write your bank account number on every single roll, just so you could deposit them in the bank and make some use of your excess coinage. It was a lot of work and hassle, and that’s probably why I haven’t bothered in so long. Coinstar machines will sort and tally your coins for you, and then you have three options; receive a cash voucher (after a 10.9% fee), or without fees you can get the full amount on a gift card, or donate the full amount to charity. But I was in this for the cash, and figured the fee was worth it.

I'm not certain, but I think this is a LOT of money somewhere!

I’m not certain, but I think this is a LOT of money somewhere!

Here’s my tally:

$ 6.50 – 26 Quarters
$25.90 – 259 Dimes
$ 7.50 – 150 Nickels
$21.79 – 2,179 Pennies
$61.69 Total
$ 6.72 Service Fee
$54.97 Cash


There were a few coins rejected by the Coinstar machine, all legitimately so. They were 10 Japanese Yen, 1/2 Swiss Franc, 1 Czech Koruna, and 2 Irish Cents.

I did a bit of shopping with my newly flush wallet. And then at home, I gave both of my coin jars a nice scrubbing, and filled them each with my newly acquired change totaling $1.33. That was after spotting I had a commemorative issue Virgin Islands Quarter which was removed for placement in one of our state quarter collection folders.

The idea occurs to me too late for this year, but in 2015 I’ll plan on starting the year with empty jars in order to tally exactly how much pocket change I accumulate in a year. That will be exciting won’t it?? Stay tuned! (and hope I remember).

Tracking Beers with Untappd

Chris on UntappdI will be the first to admit that I frequently demonstrate symptoms of OCD. It’s not crippling, or anything weird, but I frequently like to count and categorize things. In some cases it can be useful, for example it has added to my success and enjoyment of constructing my family tree. Other times, it serves no purpose at all other than to satisfy my own curiousity. That was the case when I spent a day  counting and categorizing my t-shirts, just so I could understand the big picture of my t-shirt collection. Or when I  took a photo of myself (almost) everyday for a year in order to make a short movie..

I also love technology and gadgets. And in the age of the iPhone, I’m a fan of many apps that allow me to check-into locations, track my runs, sort my music, and find my friends.

For the last two years, one app in particular has especially caught my imagination, bringing my love of tracking the mundaneness of daily life crashing into my love of gadgets, with another of my loves, beer. That app is called Untappd, and it’s a must have for any curious beer lover with a smart phone. For me, using Untappd has greatly enhanced my appreciation of beer. It has driven me to explore a broader variety of styles, visit breweries, bars and other places to imbibe, seek out new ‘distinct beers’ that I’ve never had before (at least since I started tracking them), to enjoy all of that socially with other beer loving friends on Untappd. Sometimes this quest for unique beers can be daunting. My wife rolls her eyes at me at every restaurant visit, as I quickly compare their beer offerings with my history on Untappd, looking for something new. And she has spent countless extra hours waiting for me as I peruse the beer section of the grocery store, like an indecisive kid at a candy counter. Once, when I brought home a six-pack of some very sub-par beer from the store, she asked, “I thought you loved good beer, why would you buy that?”. And she again rolled eyes as I explained that I needed to drink bad beer in order to be able to appreciate good beer, and besides, it was one that I had yet to check into on Untappd.

When Untapped added the ability to post photos with your beer check-ins, my worlds collided again. I’m well known for being my own favorite photo subject, and what better to join me in a picture than the beer I’m currently drinking and checking in? And having recently collected 500 such beer self-portraits, the occasion called for another movie starring me, straightforwardly titled 500 Beers.

All this beer drinking has also led me to revisit the hobby of home-brewing that I dabbled in for a few years in the mid-90s. The enjoyment of sharing your own home brew with friends is better still when it can be shared via Untappd. So get to know me, and if I have any to spare I will happy share with you a truly unique beer check-in courtesy of Casey’s Brews.

Chris Almost Everyday 2012

Late in 2011, my brother showed me a cool iPhone app called Everyday. It’s a tool for creating time lapse movies from a collection of photos of the sort that you’ve probably seen online, like this one by one of the app’s developer’s Noah Kalina, or this one by the mysterious ClickFlashWhirr (who is much better looking and better able to stay still than me), this great one of a Pacific Crest Trail hiker, and this one of a hike and growing beard in China.

Anyway, so the app makes it easy, and I enjoy movies of this sort, so I thought I’d have a go at making my own. I made it until mid-February before I missed a day. It was about 1:00 am in the morning and I realized I missed my shot. From that point forward I took a more relaxed approach, trying to remember to get my photo every day, but not worrying too much if I missed one or two here and ther. In the end I captured 292 photos over 367 days (2012 was a Leap Year! And I included New Year’s Day 2013 to end the movie).

Beginning in October, I decided to let my beard grow through the end of the year. My beard had many motivations; partly a hiking beard, an Election mojo beard, some reason you’re not supposed to shave in November, an experiment to see what was left on top of my head after almost two years of wearing a close shave, and an opportunity to be Santa. My wife suffered horribly during these three months as my face became her nightmare. I had promised all along that it would be gone by New Year’s, but I never said it would go all at once. Trimming it bit by bit at the end of the year was one of the funnest parts of this effort.

It’s a lot to see, cramming 366 days into 30 seconds, and there is much there you can easliy miss. The individual photos are all posted in this Flickr set if you’re interested in a closer look at any of them.

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