Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm from the government and I'm here to track you

You have entered 76,710 Bills worth $225,999
Bills with hits: 6,324 Total hits: 7,190
Hit rate: 8.24% Slugging Percentage: 9.37% (total hits/total bills)
George Score: 1,223.44
Your rank (based on George Score) is #303
(out of 52,593 current users with a George Score. [99.4 Percentile])
Your State Rank in Florida is: 21 out of 7,562 [99.7]
Your initial entries with hits have traveled a total of 3,311,913 miles.
They have averaged 468.7 miles per hit and 182.00 days between each hit.

I actually had a customer refuse two marked bills today. She said that she lived in a heavily Hispanic area where most of the people would have refused the bills. We’re talking about a five and a one, both marked differently. I should have asked where she lived, but I doubt she would have taken it well. I ended up giving her six unmarked singles since I had no unmarked fives. (No, they weren’t entered.)

I don’t get out much, but there are a few active georgers in the area and I have yet to hear of any neighborhoods where marked bills are refused outright. I’ve had stores and restaurants refuse them, but never whole communities. I imagine out there somewhere is a city that has banded together against Where’s George. They have ordinances against stamping bills or purchasing certain kinds of stamping kits.

And people say I have no life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More on SunPass

You have entered 76,029 Bills worth $223,504
Bills with hits: 6,252 Total hits: 7,107
Hit rate: 8.22% Slugging Percentage: 9.35% (total hits/total bills)
George Score: 1,222.14
Your rank (based on George Score) is #309
(out of 52,303 current users with a George Score. [99.4 Percentile])
Your State Rank in Florida is: 20 out of 7,550 [99.7]
Your initial entries with hits have traveled a total of 3,262,741 miles.
They have averaged 467.1 miles per hit and 181.34 days between each hit.

I’ve been talking to people about the SunPass and I got a response about it from the State of Florida. It looks like the best option is to plan trips so that I’m not taking toll roads. If I find myself approaching a toll booth, I’ll have to get off at the last exit and reenter later on, which could be tricky.

There are a few other arguments against a SunPass. First, you have to maintain a balance. It looks like you have to start with $10. Before you run out, you have to arrange to put more money on it. (And yes, there is a cash-only version of the SunPass. I’m not sure where you pay, but it’s not at a toll booth.) It’s just one more thing that I have to worry about.

Speaking of things to worry about, I also have to worry about bringing it with me. Since I’m single and tend to drive only the one car I have access to, it’s not an issue. I can just hide it somewhere in the car. My parents have one and have to remember to take it with them if it’s in the other car.

Having the option to pay cash makes things pretty simple. You don’t have to worry about bringing the SunPass. Yes, you have to worry about bringing cash with you and not running out of it, but I’d think that if you don’t have cash, you might have other issues.

It’s pretty sad that in terms of driving, I’m coming of age on a cashless road system. I don’t want a SunPass.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cash-free toll booths

You have entered 76,012 Bills worth $223,431
Bills with hits: 6,231 Total hits: 7,082
Hit rate: 8.20% Slugging Percentage: 9.32% (total hits/total bills)
George Score: 1,221.79
Your rank (based on George Score) is #316
(out of 52,495 current users with a George Score. [99.4 Percentile])
Your State Rank in Florida is: 24 out of 7,549 [99.7]
Your initial entries with hits have traveled a total of 3,255,349 miles.
They have averaged 467.6 miles per hit and 180.97 days between each hit.

I read an article today that Florida expressways are going cashless. I find this disturbing on several levels. First (and most obviously) because I can’t pay cash. I kind of like being able to get cash into circulation and toll booths are a great way to do that. Someone else gets the bill and takes it somewhere you might not be going.

Cash is universal. Everyone has access to it. The plan is to get people to use a transponder. Florida’s is called the SunPass. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t operate by the same standard that other states’ transponders operate, meaning that people from other states can’t use their transponders.

What do tourists do when they come to a toll booth? According to the article, people renting cars can pass through and have the bill sent to them. I’m not sure what locals will do. Right now, there are only certain toll booths that will be SunPass only. I’m hoping that there will be some warning so that you can exit before the toll booth.

This could be an even bigger issue if you’re borrowing a car. Suppose I use a neighbor’s car. Is it fair that I could go through all sorts of toll booths and have him fined for it? Should I be forced to find toll-free routes to avoid this? Lending out cars just got a lot more complicated.

More basically, why should I be forced to get a transponder? What if I don’t want to? Do I have to get off before the toll booth and get back on? I just don’t like this. I’m going to ask the Florida Department of Transportation about this and see what they say.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lots of news

You have entered 75,903 Bills worth $223,290
Bills with hits: 6,218 Total hits: 7,064
Hit rate: 8.19% Slugging Percentage: 9.31% (total hits/total bills)
George Score: 1,221.51
Your rank (based on George Score) is #315
(out of 52,405 current users with a George Score. [99.4 Percentile])
Your State Rank in Florida is: 23 out of 7,547 [99.7]
Your initial entries with hits have traveled a total of 3,245,665 miles.
They have averaged 467.2 miles per hit and 180.97 days between each hit.

I got to thinking the other day how it might be interesting to be able to compile the series and serial numbers for later entry in to Where’s George. I’ve heard that it’s possible to use film to record images of bills. Since the series and serial number letterings are consistent, it shouldn’t be hard to have the computer compile them into a list for me to copy and paste into the entry form.

I’m not saying that it would work or would even be allowed. I’m just saying that someone out there should be able to put something like this together. (Not that I’m endorsing it, but if you have done this, please let me know how it worked out for you.)

One thing that’s been bothering me is what I’ve come to call semi-sequential bills. I went to the bank last week and got 50 $5 bills which seemed to come from nearby straps. The letters and the first five numbers were all the same, but the last three numbers were different. They were all close, as if they were all within close proximity.

I think that when the bank processes them, the bills get mixed up. This makes it harder to enter; if they were all sequential and had no gaps, there’s a trick I could use to enter them. This tricks is useless with random bills. (Actually, the trick is useless with $5 bills, but it’s still easier to have no gaps.)

On an unrelated note, I’ve had two hits on twos in the past ten days, seen here and here. It’s nice to get them, but they’re pretty rare. A woman at the gas station north of Aventura Mall collects them, so I may not spend them there as often. Notice that both of these have gone unreported for over a year. I think that people either collect them or deposit them in the bank, which is not good. I spend two-dollar bills so that they will stay in play for as long as possible and get a lot of hits.

I also have to other unusual hits, here and here. Both were initially entered 35 days apart, but seemed to end up in the same place. I don’t know if they guy was holding on to them, as some people do sometimes, or if he found them together. I don’t mark my twenties, which means that he’s probably entering everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s allowed to enter them at work or swap them out of the register.

On a rather strange note, I seem to have ‘found’ $75 at the casino the other day. I usually put $25 into the machines at any time, then consolidate the tickets later on so that I can keep track of how much I won or lost. Thus, each ticket would have come from $25 or $100 in play.

I figured out that I had brought $500 to play. Somehow I ended up with five tickets from $100 in play and three from $25, meaning that I had put $575 into the machines. I think that I must have put three tickets together instead of four, meaning that some of the tickets had come from $75. I have no other explanation. I’m sure that I started with $500.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Looking for jobs in all the wrong places

You have entered 74,642 Bills worth $219,784
Bills with hits: 6,105 Total hits: 6,938
Hit rate: 8.18% Slugging Percentage: 9.30% (total hits/total bills)
George Score: 1,219.46
Your rank (based on George Score) is #316
(out of 52,565 current users with a George Score. [99.4 Percentile])
Your State Rank in Florida is: 22 out of 7,529 [99.7]
Your initial entries with hits have traveled a total of 3,177,894 miles.
They have averaged 466.4 miles per hit and 179.70 days between each hit.

It’s official. The store that I work at is closing. Ritz Camera filed for bankruptcy (on my birthday, no less) and, as a result, several hundred stores are closing, including the one in North Miami. Before you start hitting me up for information, I don’t know exactly when the store is closing, I don’t know if I’ll be transferred to another store, and I cannot cut you any special deals.

This will definitely put a dent in my ability to enter, mark and spend. I’m hoping that I can get another job. If I can’t, I would hope to be transferred, but there’s a lot of competition for a few spots. If I can be transferred, all will be well assuming I don’t get transferred to Naples. I do not want to commute across Alligator Alley. (I already have Collier County, anyway.)

A long, long time ago, I wrote in this blog how I was looking for a new job. I may have to do that again. I suppose that it all comes back to having money to enter and spend, so it’s still somewhat related to Where’s George. I’d prefer not to have to worry about it.

In better news, I got two hits, here and here, in the same ZIP code from bills that were entered months apart. It’s interesting how two bills can be entered (and presumably be spent) something like four months apart and find their way to the same place within an hour of each other. I suppose that it’s statistically inevitable that as you enter more bills, stranger things will happen. It’s just a matter of time.

On the Interesting Names category, we have Pennsylvania Furnace, PA. New York has a lot of interesting names, but I’ve found other good ones around the country. I wonder how they got Pennsylvania Furnace. Is that like Hell’s Kitchen? Is it really hot there? Or do they have a lot of bakeries. Maybe I’ll have to go there one day.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

270 counties

You have entered 74,269 Bills worth $218,775
Bills with hits: 6,056 Total hits: 6,885
Hit rate: 8.15% Slugging Percentage: 9.27% (total hits/total bills)
George Score: 1,218.62
Your rank (based on George Score) is #308
(out of 52,105 current users with a George Score. [99.4 Percentile])
Your State Rank in Florida is: 22 out of 7,518 [99.7]
Your initial entries with hits have traveled a total of 3,134,022 miles.
They have averaged 463.2 miles per hit and 179.04 days between each hit.

It seems like not that long ago that I had hit 860 counties. Now, I’m at 870. What’s frustrating is that I haven’t picked up any county bingos for a while, despite being one county shy of several states. I’ve also been ten counties shy of Florida bingo. I still need Bradford, Calhoun, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Union and Wakulla Counties. (As I mentioned, three border Alachua County.)

I’ve often wondered what would happen if I got every county in the country. I’d have other milestones, like countries, Canadian provinces and bills entered, but I don’t know if it would be as much fun. It seems kind of obsessive to worry about getting every ZIP code in the country, especially considering that some are extremely difficult to obtain. (Consider that some exist only within the confines of a post office branch.)

Speaking of ZIP codes, I have a bill that has four hits in the same one. The funny thing is how close together they are in time. The last one didn’t even take a day. It would be nice if it would travel around a little, maybe even picking up a few neighboring ZIP codes or counties. I wonder if this happens a lot.

Then, there’s the hit in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. I really don’t mind the foreign hits. I have to wonder how they all end up there. Some foreign countries do use American currency. (I’ve been told that Mexican tourist spots are very receptive to American currency.) I think there are some cases where people bring bills to other countries to do the user a favor. In other cases, it’s possible that they don’t convert all of their money before they leave the United States. When I figure it out, I’ll post it.