Friday, April 29, 2005

Living in a backwater city like Buffalo, where we're generally quite a bit behind the curve in things like technology, fashion, and the like (to say nothing of economic growth, where we're still waiting for the dot-com bubble to lift us from the doldrums), I'm always thrilled to read an account of how someone who has spent his life in places like New York City, Boston, and now Washington, DC, is just discovering something we've had up here for years.

So, I laughed to behold as Matthew Yglesias discovered the CoinStar machine.

Personally, I love the CoinStar machine. Most of the grocery stores around here have them (including, yes, The Store), and I now use it fairly regularly. I've never really liked spending change, for some reason; I just don't want to stand at the checkout and dig through my pockets to see if I can come up with three quarters, a dime, and two pennies. I'd rather just hand over whole bills, get out of there, and then dump the day's accumulation of change into a bowl when I get home. I've done this for years, and when the bowl would get full enough, then I'd go to the trouble of rolling it up and cashing it in somewhere.

Enter the CoinStar machine, which lets me dump the contents of the bowl into a hopper and wait as the machine counts it out and gives me a receipt for the total (minus a nine-cent-per-dollar transaction fee, which I'm more than happy to pay to get out of spending large amounts of time counting and rolling coins - - I'm often more than happy to exchange a bit of money if it saves me a bit of time). Back in the fall, I used my accumulated change to buy our digital camera, and just the other day I used my most recent accumulation of change (over $160 by the time the bowl was full) to splurge on some DVDs I've been wanting*. The next accumulation will likely go to helping fund a trip we're taking in July.

* For those interested, my DVD collection now includes all three Lord of the Rings films in their extended editions (I'd already owned The Two Towers, but still needed Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King); the tenth anniversary edition of The Shawshank Redemption; the special two-disc issue of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; a two-disc set of The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers (the versions from the 1970s, directed by Richard Lester); the five-disc Errol Flynn Special Collection (actually, I bought that on Amazon); and Braveheart. And there are a few more that I still want to grab - - The Clone Wars, Cousins, and (I'm almost embarrassed to admit this) two Clint Eastwood movies that I like immensely as guilty pleasures, Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can. (Don't laugh. Those movies rule. You've got bare-knuckle fighting, an incompetent motorcycle gang, an orangutan, old-style country music from before the "rockabilly" types took over, and a foul-mouthed Ruth Gordon. Those two movies have it all!)

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