• Member Since 4th May, 2013
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Estee


On the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Vs. Cynicism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon page.)

More Blog Posts962

Jul
12th
2020

Pardon me while I hold the American economy hostage to my whims · 5:13pm July 12th

(The opening of this blog is going to be rehash for the long-timers, and I apologize for repeating old material. Trust me: we're going somewhere with this.)

So I've got this coin jar.

As the running joke goes, I'm not rich --or comfortable -- or conventionally poor... and I could keep going for a long way from there. (Also, since the last story saw a group of new followers come in: this is my Patreon, this is my Ko-Fi, and those will be the only links to either in this blog.) This means I need to find ways of stretching out my income. Where there's reward programs, I'll be there. Wherever you'll find free online contests, I might chance an entry. Where there is extreme couponing, I will be nowhere near it because it requires spending actual days in gathering, plus there's all that driving and seriously, you burn more on printer ink than you save. But where there are slick deals, I might occasionally show up.

(For the record? I have won a few things in such contests -- and most of them were useless. A basketball backboard went to my car mechanic's kids. Baseball tickets came during a medical crisis, limited-time airline tickets went to my mother because I couldn't afford all the costs on the destination end, and my never-ending supply of free movie passes doesn't have an open cinema to work with. Also, I once won a Surface 2. It came with a single, unfixable glitch: it would download any app of your choice -- and would never install any other. Resetting to factory specs just let you choose a different single app. I gave it to GroaningGreyAgony, where it serves him as a notetaking paperweight to this day.)

And yet, despite my lack of wealth, there are times when I like to pretend I have money. This means doing the little things, like buying meat. I can even make large purchases: I just need to budget carefully over a long period of time. That's how I save up for conventions. Every month which sees me reach my maximum number of Patreon post charges (five) also has me put aside a certain amount for that long-term goal -- and that money is saved as coins.

So why coins? Well, with the interest rate crash on basic savings accounts, I'm not exactly forfeiting much in the way of earned extras by keeping it out of the bank. But the main reason is that coins have inertia. Paper money is easy to spend. A debit card is handed back to you. A large jar of coins is the fiscal equivalent of dwarf bread. You can be on the verge of total bankruptcy with nothing more than the contents of that jar to your name, and you will somehow find a financial solution to your problem which does not involve wrestling that thing down two flights of stairs and into the trunk of your car oh-dear-gawds-I-have-to-lift-it? There has to be a reason to spend coins, and it had better be very close to the last one.

If I find lost change, it's mine now. (If I see someone drop a coin, I pick it up and -- give it back to them. Scavenger's code of honor.) A penny knelt for is merely a penny, but gathering every penny on up you see for a year is a PlayStation 5 and no, I'm not joking: I tracked my totals when I was originally saving for a Kindle HDX. It adds up.

Change gained from normal spending goes in the jar -- as long as it's a dime on up, because nickels and pennies just occupy too much space. Prior to the pandemic, I would take all pennies and nickels to the bank once a month, dump them into the free-for-account-holders coin counter, and exchange the total for quarters. And of course, if I'm at the bank and it's after pledge collection day, it's time to pick up my coin rolls.

The last few months have made that a little more complicated.

Like most banks in the U.S, mine has closed its lobby. Services are limited to ATM and drive-up: the former doesn't dispense coins and they won't send rolls through the latter because dense metal weight bouncing around a pneumatic tube, that's why. Ever since the lockdown began, I've been scavenging fresh coin rolls by going to those few banks which still had lobby service and were willing to spare a roll to someone who didn't have an account there. Dropping coins in the jar is currently a three-bank, twelve-mile process. But I kept my Everfree Northwest savings on pace and track, right up until the convention was cancelled.

And as for pennies and nickels? No lobby, no access to the free coin counter. I won't use Coinstar as anything other than a 'Oh, look: someone left behind two dollars. In Canadian dimes.' source, because their current charge for counting is a very insulting 11% of your total. Fortunately, self-pay stations exist and don't complain when you ask them to take seven nickels, just before they spit back a quarter and dime. As opposed to the cashiers who supervise them, because I have been told that using physical money is bad for the machine, so I should really stop that or face the store penalty of something or other. And yet none of my offers to call the police on their behalf have been honored. Go figure.

Bottom line: big jar of coins. Also five people just unfollowed me after reading through some of that, but mainly big jar of coins.

So today I was in one of my local Asian groceries. I needed three things and because the pandemic likes to encourage travel, was only able to find one. A single glance at the long register lines sent me to the customer service desk, which will ring up one item if you ask politely. $1.49 total and in the name of dumping pennies, I gave over $5.09: downshifting copper into part of a dime.

Then I saw the sign.

DUE TO THE NATIONWIDE COIN SHORTAGE
WE ARE ASKING CUSTOMERS TO FAVOR PAYMENTS OF DEBIT, CREDIT, EXACT CHANGE, AND CHECKS
PLEASE HELP

...'nationwide coin shortage'?

I took my $3.60 back with no accompanying glare, politely said that I hadn't seen the sign until it was too late, and headed for my car. And... all the way through the rest of my shopping, all the way home... I just kept thinking about it.

A coin shortage? Well... the majority of bank lobbies are closed, and that's where a lot of small businesses pick up their change. Sure, there's coin delivery services like Loomis, but good luck getting on their route and they don't exactly do it for free. As for coins being spent -- people have been staying home. You don't use metal when you're shopping online. There's only so many coins you can spend in any one physical trip, you can't use the free counter at your bank because you can't get into your bank, and Coinstar is now skimming eleven percent off your total on any exchange into bills: that's enough to convince a lot of people that they're better off waiting. Plus... well, are the employees of the U.S. Mint considered to be essential workers? Maybe the machinery of production has slowed.

It's easy to see coins going out of the economy and not being cycled back in. They still exist, mind you... they're just not being spent.

When I got home, I checked the news feeds. And sure enough, there's a real problem.

So here's the thing about shortages: the more people know about them, the worse they get. Humanity has a natural hoarding tendency to begin with: when you tell someone that they may not be able to get access to something, the typical first response is to run out and strip the shelves so that everyone else will be in trouble, but you'll be fine. We've seen this throughout the early stages of the pandemic: masks, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and of course toilet paper was a rerun. (My mother, in innocence and dementia, asked me to get her some rubbing alcohol...) Stories of the coin shortage are just starting to reach the public. Anyone who has to regularly deal with toll baskets and laundromats will be pushing the Gotta Get Mine button, and I fully expect a mini-run on whatever banks are still open to the public, plus whatever car washes left their bill breakers accessible to the street.

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get my coins for next month's savings, assuming this ear infection goes away and I can get to five post charges. (We will not talk about the ear infection just yet.) I'm guessing that if this keeps up, August is going to see a severe drop in the number of banks willing to sacrifice a roll or two for someone without an account. 'With' is probably going to be in trouble.

But...

...the thing is...

...there's already a coin shortage...

...and here I am with this water cooler storage tank which was repurposed into a big coin jar...

I confess. For a period of roughly two minutes, my fantasies went full supervillain.

"Bwah-ha-ha! I don't need your Number One Dime, not when I have a full box of them to hold over the world! So what am I bid for this humble roll of quarters? And you said -- ten dollars. Really. Henchwoman, shoot the stupid one. Thank you. I'll start the bidding at fourteen. If you were thinking about asking 'fourteen what?', you can't afford it. Also, I have more bullets. Yes, we're a little low on pennies and nickels to offer at this time, but don't worry: I have Task Force McPhee on it. Also, anyone stepping into the drivethru lane of any fast food restaurant between the hours of one a.m. and five a.m. will be killed, because all of that territory within a fifty-mile radius is mine. Please note that your upcoming pennies may be slightly red-stained. This is no way affects their value. Now here I have a roll of half-dollars. Don't worry: none of your customers may initially know what they are, but the bank will! Oh, running a little low on bidding budget, are we? That's all right! I'll just take metal for metal! Give me gold."

...okay, gonna need a little help getting the hench part set up, but the rest is just a matter of putting in the effort...

Seriously: should I peek at eBay right now? Sure, there's people selling rolls of silver dimes at a premium, but we're talking about American psychology: it won't be all that long before the standard stuff goes up with an attached surcharge. Someone said 'shortage' and the last time that happened, people were loading up their garages with hand sanitizer so they could auction it off to a desperate public at ten times the original retail. (The public occasionally objects.)

So it's really easy to see people freaking out over this. Raiding coin-op laundromats, making a run on banks, feeding vending machines a $5 and then hitting Return... all followed by trying to resell the results. I'm predicting that someone is going to try it, because a nation which has been trained to pay 11% of a total for counting coins can probably be made to fork over that much extra to get them back.

There's a national coin shortage in the United States, at least in the sense that coins have been temporarily taken out of the economy and haven't gone back in. A sign told me, I'm telling you, and it might get worse from here. The biggest problems are going to be for those places which genuinely can't operate without them: arcades -- yes, they still exist: shore and tourist towns -- and laundromats feel like the primary small business drains. (The primary suspect has been out-teched: the majority of American penny-through half-dollar slot machines no longer pay out in physical money, simply printing out scan slips which you take to a cashier.) Toll collectors hand over a lot of change every day, and a real shortage might force more states onto a scan-tag credit system. Other businesses? Worst-case, everyone gets forced to round down to the nearest whole dollar for a while, because rounding up costs you customers. Also, if you walk into a supermarket, pick up a single $0.89 can of soup, and expect the cashier to round down, you can be shot at no penalty, because no one likes a jerk.

Maybe you'll want to pick up a few rolls on Monday, just in case. Those of you who use coin-heavy services probably should. Of course, that can accelerate the shortage, so the rest of the group might want to leave them for the stores. They'll get into circulation eventually, one way or another. A shortage of this kind is just the product of what's hopefully a one-time combination of circumstances and with a little luck, it'll be self-correcting. It has to be self-correcting, because trusting those in charge to take care of this is a longshot and no, this is not a conspiracy to get us into a cashless society. Why would those who run such conspiracies want to get rid of untraceable tender? How did you think conspiracies paid for things? With a computer-monitored trail?

But no matter where it came from, or how it'll be resolved... here I am, during a nationwide coin shortage, with a really big jar of coins.

:raritystarry: :pinkiecrazy: :twilightsmile:

For your convenience, I also accept payment in yachts.

Report Estee · 731 views ·
Comments ( 44 )
Estee #1 · 3 weeks ago · · ·

Also, here's a cute duck quacking for just under five minutes.

Fluttershy's talent has been noted to include selective deafness.

The primary suspect has been out-teched: the majority of American penny-through half-dollar slot machines no longer pay out in physical money, simply printing out scan slips which you take to a cashier.

I'm honestly surprised. I figured the visceral, psychological thrill of having money come out of the thing was part of what kept people pulling the lever.

In any case, next time I'm in a store, I'll be sure to bring some of the coinage cluttering my nightstand. Goodness knows it could have a more useful home than there.

(Also, what are the benefits like when henching for the Dread Numismatist? Asking for a friend.)

I'll be your evil henchwoman if you need one

SO 2020's next trick is going to be a great depression.

So I've got this coin jar.

Oh no.

Estee #6 · 3 weeks ago · · ·

5306955

If I had to guess, I'd say the cause of coin-payout death was overwork. Any decent (read: not at the back of a gas station) casino will have slot attendants: their job is to monitor the health of the machines, doing spot repairs and posting Out Of Order signs as needed. And these days, they also change the paper and ink in the mini-printer, because just about every slot machine has one.

Here's what they used to do.

Every machine, whether with physical or simulated reels, would have an internal coin well, which was for payouts only: intake money was held separately. The nickel machines could usually store about $200 -- four thousand nickels. Quarter machines generally held $400/sixteen hundred to $1000 for the very uncommon big rig. And those machines were rigged to pay out in coins first. Once you entered the era where computer-generated reels were possible, inserted & won money was stored as 'credits' in the machine's bank (because it's easier to lose 'credits' than cash): even when you won, you didn't get anything until you hit Cash Out or unless you hit something big enough that it had to pay out immediately. In particular, some machines had credit limits: for a quarter machine, anything which took the slot over $1200 stored got spat out as coins on the spot. And of course, any truly large win was a hand-pay: bills directly counted out to the player by the attendant, who would probably be thinking about how this recovered 1% of their total losses.

Here's the problem.

A typical quarter machine can store, say, $400 in coins. For a machine using those coins, only a single win (rather than cumulative smaller ones) of $1000 or more is a hand-pay.
The credit meter runs up to $1200.
Guess what happens when the player tries to cash out.

Right. Slot attendants would be dispatched with huge bags of coins. Over and over. Ever try to carry $400 in quarters? I'll save you the math: a single roll of quarters weighs eight ounces, so that's twenty pounds. Guess what happens with the $1000 reload. Oh, and then there's the nickel machines. Try to imagine what happens to the poor soul who has to reload the high-capacity nickel slot. Also, you are moving cash through a casino, so now every slot attendant has to be accompanied by a security guard. There's no time to maintain or fix machines because you're mostly reloading them. Smaller payouts still drain the hopper, so every machine is going to need service eventually. By the way, every casino has a down hour which shifts across the gaming floor in a wave, emptying out bill taker units. This also requires security. And when you're emptying out the intake coin hoppers, a forklift. No, I am not joking. Miniature forklifts driving around the casino floor, because that many coins have the rough mass of a small tank and can do about the same amount of damage if they fall on your foot.

Let's toss this in. The average age of a casino nickel slot machine patron is just under 'deceased'. So let's say they've having a really good day. The casino hands out coin buckets so you can take your winnings up to the cashier station. The patron loads up their $1000 in nickels into multiple buckets, stacks them on top of each other, and now enters the third event in the Casino Olympics: reaching the cashier without dying. How much does a thousand dollars in nickels weigh? Well, let's see. One nickel masses five grams. A thousand dollars would be twenty thousand nickels. So we're looking at one hundred thousand grams. Being carried by a senior, in multiple flimsy plastic buckets, which are probably balanced on top of each other, with the coins inside shifting as they try to maneuver through casino aisle traffic, none of whom is looking out for them.

And now we're going to play the game which always pays out: How Much Is The Ensuing Lawsuit Worth?

So while the jingle of coins landing in the payout tray likely has a psychological hook, keeping the actual coins flowing just required too much manpower, along with quite a bit of time in court. The changeover to printers only had to happen once and after that, well...

...let's face it: the ink costs just about as much as all those employees anyway. But at least you're no longer paying for upkeep on a forklift.

(Cannot discuss in public. Use Double-Secret Channel. You know the one. Yes, that one. The other one was compromised.)

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

I will totally hench for you.

I've *BEEN* a convenience store clerk. When they're busy, they don't want to bother. Go in at 2-3 AM when they've got the time to deal with this and they will cash in $1-$2 of pennies for you. Or buy, say, a loaf of bread or can of soup, etc. & pay in pennies.

Stack them up in little piles of 5 (so they are easier to count). Do NOT do this when there are other customers around, they don't want you slowing things down.

Here in Phoenix, they've opened up the lobbies of fast food places to take out. (+ you can't go through the drive through window on foot -city ordinance, I think). If they're not busy, they'll let you cash in pennies. Or, you can buy a burger & pay in pennies.

And this is a prime example of why I follow you.

Excellent stuff. I'm eager to see your Lord Humungus impression. Now we just need a supply of leather chaps, questionable helmetry, and rejiggered hot rods.

5306945
Quack, damn you.

This means doing the little things, like buying meat.

Are you not able to get SNAP/EBT/Food stamps? Those are a lifesaver for me.

Meanwhile, I haven't used actual cash in like, a year.

I'm not sure about your area, but around here the Coinstar machines don't take a percentage when you get a gift card, allowing you to keep everything. Not so useful for groceries, but you can get an amazon credit that way.

I've lived through (technically I still do but... :twilightsheepish:) a coin shortage due to the metal used to mint the coins becoming rather rapidly more valuable than the coin's face value. In the city I live that became a problem fast, as buses back then only took payment in coins*. The eventual (~3 to 5 years after the problem began :twilightoops:) solution was to implement the equivalent of Oyster card**, initially with none of that there multi-hop journey shenanigans :ajsleepy:, but nowadays you get 50% fare discount on the second hop, 75% fare discount from the third hop onward for up to 90 minutes after beginning a journey. 3-5 years later (1 year after all coin ticket machines were removed from buses), the goverment began to mint coins again! (depressingly low quality coins, mind you, but coins nonetheless :unsuresweetie:). The secondary solution (as a cousin of mine living in another country with a similar problem once told me 25% joking 75% serious) is to use candy as currency :pinkiehappy:. (Yes, coin-operated machines are a rare sight round these parts, but not only due to these reasons :twilightsheepish:).

*: Bus and money transport companies were selling the coins back at a markup (and quite possibly straight to the smelters); dunno what the markup was, but considering long after that stopped being a problem I saw a supermarket openly advertising that they would buy coins at a 5% premium, I'm guessing those companies applied a 10-15% mark-up.
**: Cue "The GOVERNMENT is EARNING INTEREST on my USD 10 BALANCE!" complaints from day 1, when it was still not compulsory for passengers :facehoof:.

I was about to espouse on the virtues of using a five gallon jug for coin storage then realized you were already doing it. I haven't met an object I couldn't move through brute force and/or ingenuity and even I would hesitate to try and move that.

5306945
I believe there is a comic or a post somewhere someone made about if you could understand what animals were saying. The cute, relaxing sounds of birdsong?
"HEY YOU, GET AWAY FROM MY TREE"
"U want sum fuk?"
"No fuk me look my crest is big"
Etc.. poor Fluttershy.

Estee #17 · 3 weeks ago · · ·

5307073

Same here: no charge on gift card conversion. I was talking about a straight coins-to-bills count. However, some of the local supermarkets are starting to phase out their Coinstars in favor of a new brand. And that brand? Theirs. They offer no gift card conversions, charge roughly the same counting fee, and keep it.

I was waiting for that one. If the skim is enough to eventually pay for machine and maintenance, then you reach the point of turning a profit while no longer giving over part of your floor space to Not Making Money. And among the chains to so far resist this urge is Walmart -- which has 80% of the gift card options disabled, because why would they offer the chance to support a competitor?

All of this, BTW, made me think of a con for the Flim-Flam brothers. Traveling casino. All machines rigged to -- make sure the player breaks even, or even wins a little. But they only pay out in tenth-bit coins. Lots and lots of tenth-bits. And after staggering around for a few minutes under the weight of overloaded saddlebags, it just seems so sensible to hit the exchange counter and turn them into something more compact. Why, the fee charged for that service is hardly anything at all...

5306955
Modern slot machines do try to replicate the experience digitally, to some degree. Many have elaborate jackpot screens with images of coins raining down and plenty of noise, and almost all replicate the sound of multiple coins falling into a metal tray as they print out your voucher after you choose to cash out of the machine that you’re playing (which gets vaguely insulting when your remaining balance is 6 cents or so...)

Only tourists pull the lever though... if the machine even still has one.

5307125
That's a great con actually, and they wouldn't even have to rig the machines to make it work (they probably still would, because that's just how they are). Even better, if they don't rig the macihens, they wouldn't actually be doing anything illegal, just unethical.

5307134

*nods* Currently, the sticking point (other than writing a boring 'Ooooh, economics!' story) is finding the way where they don't get away with it. Equestrian gambling law probably centers around 'no rigging the equipment to make players lose, no magical interference'. The existence of foreign currency already allows for exchange rates & fees. So legally, this has them happily diving through the exact center of a loophole: completely untouched.

I suppose they could try to push their luck: giving out a few counterfeit bits in order to increase their profit margins, or having that one high-limit machine be the guaranteed loser in the tent. But as long as they keep themselves under control and have enough ponies unwilling to carry the weight, it's a workable scam.

Of course, for friendship to save the day, we just have Our Heroines come in with bags of bits and make the exchanges for free. Brothers exit muttering. But that won't happen in every town...

5307150
Well, we've seen they have a tendency to pull cons even when it's unhelpful to their goals (The friendship university), and we've also seen the girls ruin them for just being unethical (the holiday dolls). It's like they just can't help themselves but to try and cheat ponies any way they possibly can, and with the way your setting is built, it's quite possible that they can't.

If you want to to be more of a farce, you could try telling it from their POV, with the main six showing up for completely different reasons, but they assume it's because of what they are doing, and their attempts to hide it from them ends up being what ruins them this time around.

5307123
You might be thinking of Estee's story "Auk-ward…":

A pony who walked through a forest which was filled with birdsong would hear music. Fluttershy could do that -- when she concentrated enough to block the words. Do that and she could direct her avian friends into a chorus so perfect that nopony ever suspected the nature of the actual lyrics, which typically went "Have sex with me! Yes, me! Don't think about having sex with him! I have the best nest! I lay the most eggs! Look at how bright my feathers are! SEX!"

5306970
Actually, one of the big reasons why they shifted away from coin payouts is that people kept finding ways to gimmick the machines to make the coin hoppers spit out coins whether they were supposed to or not. They'd find ways to snake a wire up into the mechanism from the coin tray and energize the motor even when no payout was supposed to occur, or get a mirror up into the coin-counter mechanism to block the sensor so when they did win, it would miscount the number of coins dispensed and keep running longer than it was supposed to, or any number of other schemes. By going to a printed payout voucher system, it's been made pretty much impossible to gimmick the machine into paying out more than it's supposed to, since you can't fool the machine into thinking it's supposed to print a voucher (or that it hasn't already printed one) just by shorting a couple of terminals or blocking a light sensor.

5307214

I can believe that people figured out means of setting off the hopper. I'm having trouble with the image of people doing it in an actual casino, because that is the surveillance state. Yes, it's functionally impossible to pay attention to every camera screen, but the person jamming wire into the dispenser slot feels like he's going to call some attention to himself.

Which isn't saying I don't believe you. Just that this feels like it would be a two-person operation at minimum, because you'd need another body to either block the camera view or create a distraction.

As for getting at the printer... that's reaching the point where you might as well just hack the machine and tell it to create a win. Which requires hacking the machine, and it's a fairly safe guess that they're closed systems: under most circumstances, they speak to nothing but themselves. Linked progressives need to communicate with each other, and there's a feed from any player rewards system panel to a central processor -- but the win/lose program has to be blocked off from all wifi, and the direct line should only be accessible when the machine is opened.

It ain't foolproof, but someone would need to invent a whole new means of fooling.

5307228
Oh, it's definitely a lot harder to do now than it used to be, but you'd be amazed at how often people got away with it and for how long. The most successful ones would case the casino for several days beforehand and specifically look for machines in spots where the camera coverage was poor -- and yes, it was often a two-man operation where one acted as both lookout and blocked the view of the machine from other people on the floor, especially as the camera systems (and the machines themselves) became more sophisticated. There's a whole documentary on Youtube about one of the more infamous machine-skimmers who got away with this for years, and siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least) in the process.

As for hacking the new machines -- you're correct; they don't communicate over standard WiFi, and certainly aren't on the public internet or "the cloud." They use proprietary protocols over hard-wired connections, encrypted out the wazoo.

For your convenience, I also accept payment in yachts.

If I could, I would. You're certainly more than deserving.

5307228
Ah, here's the documentary I was thinking of:

For your convenience, I also accept payment in yachts.

Interviewer: Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight one of the country's leading skin specialists — Raymond Luxury Yacht.
Raymond: That's not my name.
Interviewer: I'm sorry — Raymond Luxury Yach-t.
Raymond: No, no, no — it's spelt Raymond Luxury Yach-t, but it's pronounced “Throatwobbler Mangrove”.
Interviewer: You're a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you.
Raymond: Ah, anti-semitism!
Interviewer: Not at all. It's not even a proper nose. (takes it off) It's polystyrene.
Raymond: Give me my nose back.
Interviewer: You can collect it at reception. Now go away.
Raymond: I want to be on the television.
Interviewer: Well you can’t.

5306961

That's okay, it's already depressing everyone else, it ought be sharing in the depression...


I'd laugh like it was a joke, but we've already started to hear about the numbers of people the lockdown is actually killing; not the virus, the LOCKDOWN itself and the stresses it is imposing. There's gonna come a point where the "cure" will be worse than the disease if it goes on for long enough...

this made me think of your story where Celestia and Luna decided to make a new type of coin.
but they made the mistake of asking an eccentric ARTIST to design it...
https://www.fimfiction.net/story/410325/mint-condition

5307150
And now I'm imagining Snowflake carrying out his winnings... without bothering to exchange.

Up here We the North have gotten rid of pennies. But to make the coin lovers happy we now have one dollar and two dollar coins called respectively loonies and twonies (I kid you not!)

The end result is that your average jar of coins can contain a lot more in total dollar value. A water cooler jug full would be a serious amount of cash!

5307380
Snowflake sees an uptick in his contract work, blocking out half-bell periods where he just hauls your winnings at standard fee, plus 5% of your winnings.

5307383
To clarify, the loonies and toonies (which is how it's actually spelled, for two errors in total) were around long before we discontinued the penny. We also still mostly use quarters for coin-related things, although the laundry room in my apartment complex shifted over to cards something like a year ago and in the current crisis I'm very glad it did. (Well, I say "current" but like most countries we handled things better than the US did so we've mostly moved on to the "loosening the restrictions slowly enough that we don't end up with too much of a second wave" phase of things)

I read the italicized part in Flintheart Glomgold's voice until the part about the killings. Blofeld or Goldfinger from the early Bond films would work, too.

5307228
This reminds me of an old Transformers episode. Several Autobots were stuck in deep space and had to make their way home. All of them but Smokescreen were in some kind of stasis and were being held by some intergalactic gangster who ran an alien casino. Smokescreen cheated one of the slot machines by doing precisely that -- running a wire from his arm to the machine, making it pay out. The jig was up when one of the gangster's lackeys found out about Smokescreen's "secret connection" and unplugged the wire, making him lose.

5307408
You know, he could get work as a bouncer just about anywhere.

The problem is that nobody carries coins with them because they are heavy, bulky and noisy. So if you aquire change from a transaction, you take it home and place it in storage until you have enough to deposit. I have a half gallon jar that's about 2/3 full of coins, which is not quite enough to make me want to sort it yet.

5307150
The canon brothers did end up running a "legitimate" casino, so something like that could be a good way for them to safely channel their tendencies.

5307416
One and a half errors: I didn't know that "toonies" was officially spelled with two "o"s. I saw it spelled "twonie" by someone at some point a few years ago I guess it stuck in my memory. My message didn't specify that pennies were dropped before the dollar coins were introduced, but I can see how someone might get that impression from my post above. My bad, either way! Thanks for clarifying.

5307119

If you're still in a coin shortage and exceptionally desperate, I have a small glass full of twenty-pence.

They were sitting on the base of a car wash's pay-for-vacuum mount.

Yes, this was an American car wash.

...look, I had to go shopping today, and I came back with an English five-pence, a Jamaican penny, and a Cayman Islands quarter. I am a magnet for this sort of thing. If I lived in Russia, I'd probably be turning up U.S. dollar coins every other day...

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My Canadian coin count is now over $30. (No toonies.) Still completely useless.

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I watched the relevant section of the documentary last night (and thankee), meaning up until the gang raids came in. One of the things which stood out: I didn't know there had been a pre-camera era. The machine riggers still had to be careful about physical eyes on them, but there was a period of years where no one had any concerns about remote monitoring. And even so, some of the tools were so large that I had a hard time picturing how they could be used without drawing attention. I'm guessing a lot of those hits took place during the dead hours and even then, the user had to develop sleight-of-hand skills on the magician level.

Otherwise, we really are looking at offense vs. defense: create something which breaks the machine, the manufacturer eventually closes that loophole, create something else... And letting people buy their own slot machines turns the game into Learn How To Crack Your Own Bank Vault At Home.

(I did notice that one pair basically got caught because they insisted on cashing in their coins before leaving. If they'd just carried the metal to the parking lot, they might have lasted longer.)

One bit left out of the documentary: there was nothing there about having to pay any of it back. At a guess, they did get him for what they could prove had been emptied, but estimating his lifetime take would have been a wash -- with no way to prove that guess in court. Oh, and I use 'documentary' a little loosely. It's just slightly comedic when the narrator is talking about a scene set in the 80s as the actor walks past a bank of high-resolution monitors.

I do think The March Of Progress (and not wanting to March While Carrying 50lbs Of Quarters) was a small part of it. But I'm fully prepare to admit that those slot raiders forced both issue and speed. Technology progresses fastest during warfare, after all. And let's face it: those raiders are now almost completely closed out. There's only one real vulnerable access point left on the machine: the bill scanner. If they can make a fake which the machine will read as real, then they can load up and cash out. But if they can do that, they're probably 90% of the way to being counterfeiters anyway.

CCC

Around here, every major shop has been rounding down to the nearest ten cents for years.

Oddly enough, they still have prices that end in ".99" a lot of the time.

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Oddly enough, they still have prices that end in ".99" a lot of the time.

It has to do with the human brain being so profoundly stupid that its first impression of 59.99 is that it's closer to 50 than it is to 60. There's a reason we're letting computers do most of our math for us.

CCC

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Oh, sure. But if they're going to round down to the nearest ten cents at the till anyway, then why not go and make it 59.90 from the start?

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I actually ran across a Half as Interesting YouTube video about it a while ago.

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