money

I think most of us try to be nice people. We try to do nice things for our friends and loved ones, but what about random acts of kindness for people we don’t know. Most of us really put those things on the back burner, so to speak. It is probably a sad thing that there has to be a day set aside for random acts of kindness, but maybe we all need a reminder once in a while. There are always people who are less fortunate than we are…no matter how bad off we think we are. Most people think that random acts of kindness need to include money, but that isn’t so. The needs of those around us are not always monetary. Sometimes, people simply need a smile at the right moment, because they are feeling down. Other times, money is the need, of course. I think the key is to be aware, and to listen to your own spirit when it comes to hearing about the needs of those around you. If you feel led to do something for someone, act upon that leading, using the appropriate amount of caution of course, because not everyone is nice.

Sometimes random acts of kindness should be anonymous too. I think that applies to most of the time. There is no need for recognition with random acts of kindness. In fact, that is the point of a random act of kindness, to remain anonymous…and even if they see you, they don’t have to know your name. All they have to know is that someone cared enough to do something nice for them. The thing that I always find to be true is that invariably, the person you choose to do something nice for, really needed to know that someone cared right then. We always think that we could not possibly know who needed our help, but I think that there are always telltale signs…even if it is just a feeling we have inside.

I suppose that sometimes, a random act of kindness can bless someone who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t need any such act of kindness. Maybe there is nothing lacking in their life. Still, can a kindness shown ever be wasted? I don’t think so, because who could need a random act of kindness more than someone who thinks that they only have themselves to count on. We all know people who “don’t need any help” from anyone. To me, that is the saddest of all, because, as the saying goes, “no man is an island.” So today, if you have the chance to, show someone a random act of kindness, and maybe it could become a habit for every day.

We have all heard of the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany regarding the Jewish people. And many people might have seen the movie called Schindler’s List. When the movie came out, I did not have a real interest in the old war movies, but I really should have in this one, because it is not your typical war movie. The movie documents the actions of a member of the Nazi Party, who saw something that was morally wrong, and did something about it.

Schindler wasn’t what would be considered a moral upstanding citizen to the Christian way of thinking. He married Emilie Pelzl at nineteen, but was never without a mistress or two. When his family’s business went under, he presided over the the proceedings, and then became a salesman when opportunity came knocking in the form of the war. Schindler was never one to miss a chance to make money. He saw opportunity in Poland, so he marched in on the heels of the SS. Soon, he was deep into the black-market and the underworld..making friends with the Gestapo officials along the way…softening them up with women, money and illicit booze.

It was his newfound connections that helped him acquire the factory in Krakow during the German occupation of Poland, which he ran with the cheapest labor around…namely the Jewish people from the nearby Jewish ghetto. Schindler was a hard man, and didn’t care much about others, but somewhere along the line, something changed. When the Nazis decided to liquidate the ghetto, he persuaded the officials to allow the transfer of his workers to the Plaszow labor camp. I’m not sure what they workers thought of that situation right away, but in the end, to saved them from deportation to the death camps, for which they were grateful.

By 1944, Hitler had become more and more crazed, and all the Jews at Plaszow were to be sent to Auschwitz, but Schindler couldn’t bear to see his workers murdered by Hitler. Schindler decided to take a huge risk, and bribe the officials into allowing him to keep his workers and set up a factory in a safer location in occupied Czechoslovakia. Miraculously, they agreed to let him have his workers, probably thinking of the factory’s production, and not the fact that these Jews would not meet the horrible fate awaiting them in the death camps. So, Schindler gave them a list of his workers, and of course, that is where the name of the movie came from. By the war’s end, Schindler was penniless, but he had saved 1,200 Jews. And that makes him a very rich man, indeed. In 1962, he was declared a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official agency for remembering the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler died on this day, October 9, 1974, and according to his wishes, he was buried in Israel at the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion.

Whether you consider Valentine’s Day to be a highly commercialized day, geared toward getting the consumer to spend a bunch of money on silliness, or you see it as a day set aside to celebrate love, everyone who has loved ones in their life, has to deal with it in some way. Perhaps deal with it is a poor choice of words, but there are those who feel like that is exactly what the day is all about…and they have loved ones too. Of course, those same people feel like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the others are the same commercialized money trap. I don’t really get that. Why not have a day here and there to celebrate the people who have blessed your life? After all, where would your life be without those wonderful people in it. Sometimes, I think people take their family so much for granted, that they forget how blessed they truly are.

I get that we are all busy. In fact, that is one reason why we should embrace these days. They remind us to take a moment out of our busy, hectic lives and remember the people who are always there for us…through thick and thin, and I don’t mean just our spouse. Our parents have given up many things to make a better life for their kids; our siblings basically guarantee that we always have friends; our kids, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong…at least when they are little. We have all of these people, who show us so much love, and then we complain about having to buy them a little box of candy or flowers!! What does that say about us?

There are also marriages and families that are a little bit more unconventional, who do things like dinner, or handmade gifts, and in reality it is not the gift that counts, but the thought…the sentiment…the love. And most of all, it’s about showing how much they are loved, because after all, it’s the love that matters. And since it is the love that matters, why not show it.

Airplane hijacking isn’t a new thing in our day and age, and usually the hijacker is extremely dangerous and often has plans to crash the plane, but there have been, in times past, some hijackings that weren’t “so bad” in the grand scheme of airplane hijacking, anyway. Sometimes the hijacker really just wanted to use the plane to get them where they wanted to go, planning to release the hostages upon arrival. Of course, hijacking isn’t really a good way to get to your vacation destination, or any other reason for your travel, because you are likely to get shot or arrested for your seemingly innocent attempts.

Nevertheless, on November 24, 1971, a hijacker calling himself D.B. Cooper commandeered a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 shortly after takeoff. He showed a flight attendant something that looked like a bomb, and informed the crew that he wanted $200,000, four parachutes, and “no funny stuff.” The plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where authorities met Cooper’s demands, which was common back then, and evacuated most of the passengers. Cooper then demanded that the plane fly toward Mexico at a low altitude and ordered the remaining crew members into the cockpit. At 8:13 pm, as the plane flew over the Lewis River in southwest Washington, Cooper parachuted from the plane. The airplane’s pressure gauge recorded the jump. Wearing only wrap-around sunglasses, a thin suit, and a raincoat, Cooper parachuted into a thunderstorm, with winds in excess of 100 mph and temperatures well below zero at the 10,000 foot altitude where he began his fall. The storm prevented an immediate capture, and most authorities assumed he was killed during what they deemed a suicidal jump. No trace of Cooper has ever been found, despite a massive search of the area, and FBI posters, with age analysis.

In 1980, an eight year old boy uncovered a stack of nearly $5,880 of the ransom money in the sands along the north bank of the Columbia River, five miles from Vancouver, Washington. There was no trace of Cooper’s remains in the area. The money was given back to the boy, and he sold some of the bills as souvenirs. No more of the money has ever been found, on the ground or in circulation. More than four decades later, three amateur scientists working for a group called Citizen Sleuths, think they may have found evidence that would narrow down Cooper’s identity. They believe that he had to be an aerospace engineer or a manager. The scientists said they have been analyzing particles found on a clip-on necktie that Cooper left on his seat…number 18E…before jumping out of the plane. To the naked eye, the piece of fabric was a nondescript black tie from J.C. Penney. But, to the modern-day scientists, the tie was an “incredibly fortunate” piece of evidence in the investigation, because ties are not washed often, so DNA could remain on the tie, and with modern DNA testing, maybe they will be able to figure out who D.B. Cooper really was.

When we think of train robberies, most of us think of the Old West, and bandits on horseback, riding up along side the train, and jumping on. Then, with guns pointed at everyone, they robbed the train, and left the same way they came in. In fact, I think most of us thought that the days of robbing a train were over, and maybe that played to the advantage of the outlaws, because on August 8, 1963, a group of 15 thieves and 2 key informants pulled off one of the most famous heists of all time.

The leader and mastermind behind the heist was Bruce Reynolds, who was a known burglar and armed robber. He was an avid “fan” of the Wild West railroad heists in America, so he decided to see if he could pull something like that off in England. Reynolds and 14 other men wearing ski masks and helmets held up the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England. The gang used Land Rover vehicles which had been stolen in central London and marked with identical license plates in order to confuse the police. Unlike the Wild West gangs, this gang used a false red signal to get the train to stop, then hit the driver with an iron bar, seriously injuring him, in order to gain control of the train. The thieves loaded 120 mailbags filled with the equivalent of $7 million in used bank notes into their Land Rovers and sped off to their hideout, which was the Leatherslade Farm in Buckinghamshire, England, to divide their loot. The robbers had cut all the telephone lines in the vicinity, but one of the rail-men left on the train at Sears Crossing caught a passing goods train to Cheddington, where he raised the alarm at around 04:20.

As often happens, the media reports on these things, and before you know it, they are viewed as folk heroes by the public for the audacious nature of their crime and their flight from justice. The first reports of the robbery were broadcast on the VHF police radio within a few minutes and this is where the gang heard the line “A robbery has been committed and you’ll never believe it – they’ve stolen the train!” I’m sure that added to the charm felt by the public, because seriously, who but an eccentric, would steal a train. As always seems to happen, 12 of the 15 robbers were eventually captured. They received a collective 300 years in prison. One of them, a small-time hood named Ronnie Biggs, escaped from prison after just 15 months and underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance. He fled the country and eluded capture for years, finally giving himself up in 2001 when he returned from Brazil voluntarily to serve the 28 years remaining in his sentence…a rather odd thing to do, considering the fact that he had successfully escaped. The two Land Rovers used in the robbery were discovered at the thieves’ hideout. A car enthusiast still owns one of them today, and considers it a collector’s item.

As a little kid, my grandson, Caalab Royce, like most kids was a typically goofy kid. He always had a great sense of humor, and loved making people laugh. He didn’t even have to try to make jokes, it just came naturally…and it still does. Caalab loved long hair, and even as a little baby, he carefully played with my hair every chance he got. As a little bit bigger boy, he caught the attention of everyone at church when he would climb up on the chair whenever we stood to sing, and started to play with my hair. It really was the cutest thing, and very endearing. Caalab was the kid who always loved to come to his grandparents house to spend the night. He stayed with us longer than any of the other grandchildren. It did make it hard to have him and his sister, Shai move away when their parents, my daughter Amy and her husband Travis moved to Washington.

Now that Caalab is a grown man, turning twenty today, he is proving to be a wonderful man. As his mom said, he is getting really good at adulting. Amy tells me that Caalab has done very well at doing all of the things that adults should do…paying his bills and never borrowing money, going to work on time and doing his job, and being a responsible adult. Caalab and Shai, his sister, got an apartment together about six months ago, and they have been exceptional roommates and friends. I remember how much they fought when they were little kids, and even as teenagers, and I wondered how well they would do as roommates, but I can proudly say they have been stellar roommates. Shai has even told me that Caalab has become a very clean adult. Most kids, and especially boys, are messy, and some never get out of it, but Caalab grew out of it, and Shai is very thankful.

Caalab, Shai, and their parents, Amy and Travis have started bowling on a league together. It is really the first time Caalab has bowled very much, and they had a great time. Caalab ended the year with a 127 average, and that is really good for a new bowler. Bowling is a traditional sport in our family, so it’s fun to watch the next generation coming into their own in the sport I grew up loving. I know that they will have a great time. In everything Caalab has done in his life, I can say that I am extremely pleased with all of his accomplishments. He is a wonderful young man, and I am very proud of him. Today is Caalab’s birthday. Happy 20th birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

During the Civil War, money was made out of silver and gold. People would not have trusted any other form of money, but having enough silver and gold to make that money wasn’t always easy. The Northern states needed money, and they knew they had to make it, but Congress and others were concerned for the economy. If the government made money without silver or gold to back it, wouldn’t it eventually doom the economy? Most of us would call that counterfeit money, and yet our government is still doing this at times, more than we want to think about. Nevertheless, if you are part of the government, or even just someone who understands how such money can effect the economy, you might very likely be against something like the Legal Tender Act that was passed by the US Congress on this day, February 25, 1862.

This was a huge step. Prior to this time, the money was real money. It needed no proof that its value was real, the people using it could see that for themselves. The United States didn’t have money that was basically an I.O.U. before that time. The problem was that they also had a war going on that cost a lot of money, and with people fighting the war, there were a lot less people to go out and look for gold and mine silver. It was a big problem, but the Civil War was extremely costly, and it had to be financed. The government had to face the fact that the supply of gold and silver was depleted. The Legal Tender Act was not a decision they came to lightly. They discussed every other option, including bonds. Once they settled on paper money, the Union government printed 150 million dollars in paper money…called greenbacks. The Confederate government had been printing money since the beginning of the war, which proved to be folly in the end, but I guess if the south had won, it would have gone the other way. Nevertheless, the bankers and financial experts predicted doom immediately, and many legislators worried that the money might collapse the infrastructure.

The greenbacks did not sink the economy. In fact, they worked very well. The government was able to pay its bills and, by increasing the money in circulation, the Northern economy actually improved. The greenbacks were legal tender, which meant that creditors had to accept them at face value. Life went on, but there were repercussions from the new money. In 1862, Congress was forced to pass an income tax and steep excise taxes, designed to cool the inflationary pressures created by the greenbacks. In 1863, another legal tender act was passed, and by the war’s end nearly half a billion dollars in greenbacks had been issued. The Legal Tender Act laid the foundation for the creation of a permanent currency in the decades after the Civil War.

us-currencyWORLD CURRENCY NOTESHave you ever wondered why US money is green…or mostly green, while the money of so many other countries is very colorful? How did paper money come about anyway? Actually, paper money has been around in the United States since the beginning, off and on anyway. Printing paper money has been a controversial practice over the years. In 1861, as a means of financing the American Civil War, the federal government began issuing paper money for the first time since the Continental Congress printed currency to help pay for the Revolutionary War. The earlier form of paper dollars, dubbed continentals, were produced in such high volume that they soon lost much of their value. Devaluing our money has been a long standing problem with paper money. It’s simply too easy to print more money than we have gold to back.

In the decades before the Civil War, private, state chartered banks printed the paper money. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a wide variety of denominations and designs. Apparently, there was no real decision on how this should look. I guess they weren’t really worried about counterfeiting at that time. The bills that came out in the 1860s became known as greenbacks, because their backsides were printed in green ink. This ink was used as an anti-counterfeiting measure used to prevent photographic knockoffs, since the cameras of the time could only take pictures in black and white. I guess that counterfeiting had become a problem in the earlier years after all. And as we all know, the new scanners continue to improve the possibility of counterfeiting, making watermarks and security strips necessary too. And they have also added color to the money these days.

In 1929, the federal government decided that the paper money was too expensive to print, so in an effort to cut costs, they shrunk the size of all paper money. At the same time, they standardized the designs for each denomination, which made it easier for people to tell the difference between real and counterfeit bills. The new, more compact bills continued to be printed in green ink, because according to the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the ink was readily available and durable. They also thought that the color green represented stability. Today, there is some $1.2 trillion in coins and paper money in circulation in America. It costs about 5 cents to produce every $1 bill and around 13 cents to make a $100 bill, the highest denomination currently in us-currency-security-stripus-currency-watermarkcirculation. Don’t ask me why the difference, I would have expected them to be pretty much the same cost to manufacture. The estimated life span of a $1 bill is close to six years, while a $100 bill typically lasts 15 years, which makes sense to me, because we don’t use the $100 bill nearly as much. The $50 bill has the shortest average life span, at 3.7 years, and I would have expected the shortest lifespan to be the $1 bill, because we us those all the time.

Valentine's DayA lot of people think that a day like Valentine’s Day is simply a commercialized day to get people to part with their money, and maybe to a degree it is, but why not have a day to celebrate love. Our world seems to get more and more filled with hate every day, so maybe we really do need to had a day to celebrate love. A person doesn’t have to have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife to celebrate love either, because your valentine could just as easily be your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or friends too. All it takes is to have someone you truly care about. In fact, it’s even ok to have multiple valentines too. In my family, it has always been tradition for our parents to give valentines to all the kids and grandkids, and my sisters and I have continued the tradition. Our kids and grandkids always had a valentine, because after all love takes many forms, not just romantic love. They can even be from brothers, and sent on a day that isn’t even Valentine’s Day.

When I look back on all the years of valentines from the time I was just a little girl, through the grade school Valentine heartsyears, to boyfriends, and on the my family, I must say that other that valentines from my husband, Bob, none were a sweet as those to me from my parents, and I hope my children feel the same way. I guess it’s like most of the boyfriends, that never measured up. You think that certain things are so important, like having a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. As a teenager, that seems like the most important thing, and if you don’t have one, you feel like the loser of the year. Nevertheless, later on in life, you realize that all those years, all those boyfriends…or the lack thereof, meant nothing. Those boyfriends weren’t the ones who stayed with you. Their gifts were nothing more that cheap glitter, even when placed next to the smallest, most inexpensive gift from the one who really loves you and has chosen to spend the rest of their lives with you. Just the gift of self from someone who really loves you, boyfriend or husband…well, it makes the others look like dirt, even if they cost more, because cost has little to do with it.

Beyond the romantic valentines, comes the family valentines. Those family valentines, even if they cost just Valentine from her brotherpennies…or nothing at all…are worth really, solid gold. Drawings done by your babies in pre-school or Kindergarten, are simply priceless, because they come from the best that is in your children, and they portray the love they have for their parents. When they are grown and out of your house, those little echoes of their younger years will be beautifully enhanced by things like valentines drawings done when they where little more than babies. Valentine’s Day is for lovers, it’s true, but some of the sweetest valentines are those that cost nothing, but are worth millions because they were sent with more love that anything that was purchased. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!! I hope your day is filled with true love.

Dalton1Jesse JamesAs the railroad spread across this land, and payrolls began coming in by way of the railroad, a new breed of criminal showed up on the scene…the train robbers. At first, the train robbers got away with it, because no one had really given much thought to the possibility of such a thing happening. Gangs like Jesse James…who was best known as a bank robber, but was also one of the early train robbers, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, the Dalton Gang, and the Reno Gang terrorized the railways, stealing the payrolls of crews working on building the railroads and towns in the west.

With the advent of train robberies came a need for a solution. Enter the train police. At first the railroads would arrange for a posse to go after the robbers, but eventually they realized that the posse was too little too late. They had to take affirmative action. So they put the police on the train with the money. I’m sure that more violence came from that action, but the robbers probably didn’t get away with it as often as they had been.

I think that in many ways, we have almost romanticized the train robbers, but in reality, they were like any other criminal. They would kill for the money they were after. The police were under as much pressure as the police these days. You can’t face a gun as a regular part of your job and not have some degree of fear for your life. These men were the law, and they were pretty much on their own. They couldn’t call in the state police, or the police from the next town over. Those were too far away…especially with the distances the trains traveled. The railroad police were the only thing standing between the robbers and the money.

wildbunch_posse1900_Uniform_RR_Police2Theirs was an important job too. Every time the train was robbed, peoples lives were affected. Without the payroll money, the workers couldn’t support their families, and that caused more problems. The workers were angry and then desperate. I don’t think police work would be for me, but I have to wonder if police work was harder back in the old west, or now, with the terrorism and gang issues…or if police work is police work, no matter what era it is.

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