Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Save a tree (or a shrub)

You're probably wasting paper.

Microsoft word documents have a factory default margin of 1" on top, and 1.25" on the sides. That's a pretty good setting for nice looking documents, but it leaves a lot of unused white space.

Penn State University did a study showing that shrinking document margins to 0.75" increases the printable area by 19%. SEE HERE. This means that an average 100 page document could be reduced to 81 pages.

How much would it save? For Penn State, they could save 45,000 reams of paper, and an annual cost of $120,000. From an environmental point of view, this saves 45 forest acres, and reduces the impact of the resource intensive paper industry.

It sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Please print this out and give a copy to everybody you know.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fiscal Policy

I was digging through some papers today and came across an old envelope, postmarked 1958, with my mother's name on it. I opened it to find three interesting US 1875 treasury notes.

These are an example of "Fractional Currency" issued by the treasury from 1862 until 1876. During and after the American Civil War, there was a huge shortage of coins. People didn't trust the solvency of their governments, and tended to hoard metal coins. This made it difficult to buy things because merchants couldn't make change for small purchases.

After a few unsuccessful ideas, like the wooden nickle, the treasury came up with the novel idea of sticking uncanceled postage stamps on a blank sheet of paper. The consumer could exchange it for its equal value in postage stamps at any post office. This worked so well that they began printing actual notes with portraits from the stamps on them. They printed in dominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50¢.

The 10¢ bill above has the portrait of William M. Meredith, Secretary of Treasury from 1849 until 1850. Meredith was famous for...nothing much. His main accomplishment was in undoing the work of his predecessor. Some time during the past 130 years the portrait was enhanced by an unknown private citizen (probably a rebel).

Although the value of these bills has increased since their issue, they are still not worth very much. Values range from $9 to $30.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The wall

Drawing from the Great wall at Badaling. This view was after about a 45 minute hike uphill from the road. There's a tower just behind me where most people get tired and turn around.

That day there was a group of young men visiting the wall wearing identical "Legends of Kung Fu" tee shirts. They were horsing around, just like you'd expect from a group of teenagers. Judging by some of their stunts, I'd guess that these were extras from the Beijing "Chun Yi: Legends of Knung Fu" show. I regret that I didn't get any pictures.

© 2008 Raoul Rubin