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When Will They put a Woman on a Dollar Bill?
I went to the Post Office today to buy US dollars for my forthcoming Readercon/Marshfield Hills/Martha's Vineyard/Boston trip. (It's going to be a packed 7 days.) I don't think I've seen a dollar up close and personal since 2004, and just now they look strange and unreal in my hand. Especially the $10 bills - were they always beige? I have no memory of US notes as anything other than a uniform colour and size - a particularly unfortunate arrangement for those with poor eyesight, it seems to me. If I squint a little, Alexander Hamilton begins to look strangely Puckish, and the words beside him read "The Wee People." All very Artemis Fowl.

This may be a stupid question, but it would be useful to know: will I be able to use my bank card in America to get money from an ATM? In Ireland and the continent this is no problem at all, but America may be different, advanced technology or no.

Technological blind spots are odd. Back in the mid-'80s my Vineyard friend and I used to joke about setting up an import-export business. I would send electric kettles to the States, and she would fill up the empty ships with screen doors. Has the US discovered the joy of the electric kettle yet? We still have no screen doors.

[personal profile] lady_schrapnell once mentioned that when she lived in Tucson she didn't buy a clothes drier, unlike most of her neighbours, because - well, baking hot climate most of the year plus space for a washing line, and all. "In six months, you'll want one like all the rest," she was told. She didn't - but it says something about what's perceived as a necessity (or even useful) in different places. Contrast Japan, that ultra-gadget-minded country, which still hangs its clothes out to dry if we may judge by the cartoons - despite having a rainy season.

And - to round this off - when Vineyard friend's father visited us in Cambridge, also in the mid-'80s, he was surprised to find that pelican crossings not only showed the green person walking, but beeped the while. "Is that for the benefit of blind people?" he asked, somewhat incredulously. We explained that it was, as were the nipples in the paving stones at such crossings, which give them a distinctive feel underfoot. I think he found these features eccentric rather than admirable; but I wonder whether they've crossed the Atlantic in the intervening decades?

This might be something that varies from state to state, but they've had noisy crossings in California for decades. They give bad impressions of different kinds of bird for each road if it's around a cross-roads - cuckoo one way, tweet tweet tweet the other, IIRC.

That's rather sweet! (At least, from 6,000 miles away.)

will I be able to use my bank card in America to get money from an ATM?

I certainly had no problem using my Lloyds Visa debit card in ATMs when I went to New York recently. What did throw me for a while (though I should have remembered it from a previous trip to New Orleans) was the fact that in the States the majority of ATMs are stand-alone machines inside shops, rather than being the 'hole-in-the-wall' type provided by the banks which is more common here.

Just realised I failed to explain why this threw me, which was simply that I struggled to find one for the first couple of days, until I figured out that I needed to look out for something different from what I was used to in the UK.

(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-07-02 08:42 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Since I've never had trouble using my bank-card in Europe, I suspect you'll be good. (Though you may want to let your bank know you'll be traveling, so they won't be startled and worry about theft.)

Electric kettles, yes, though they are not yet universal -- we learned to want one from visiting my brother-in-law in Basel. We also like our bread-machine and rice-cooker -- enclosed devices that let us not turn on the house-heating stove are Good Things. (It took us several years after moving into our current place in Tucson to hook up our existing clothes drier -- except for the six-week season of erratic thunderstorms (just starting up this week), we didn't feel the need, and even now we line-dry as much as possible.) Sounds at crosswalks and textured ramps at curbs are spreading -- not yet universal, but busy corners are being steadily converted as local budgets allow.

And yes, our currency is an international embarrassment.

---L.

That's a good tip about letting the bank know - thanks!

(no subject) - drasecretcampus, 2013-07-03 05:48 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Oh, how I wish your trip were three months later!!! I will be in Boston and Martha's Vineyard in October, sigh. Another opportunity missed.

Well, I'll look forward to your report.

It may be more of a running commentary, if I remember to bring my laptop! For what it's worth I always envy you your MV reports, too.

I didn't have any trouble getting cash in the US with my card (can't remember now whether I used my credit or debit card). However, I think you will be charged a fee. Regarding kettles, the hotels certainly didn't have them. (And despite what they said, the coffee makers do not work for making tea!)

On my second trip, I took a travel kettle, but what with the lower voltage and the altitude in Boulder, Colorado, tea making was somewhat tedious and not as satisfactory as at home.

Since I only really like green tea, which shouldn't be made with water at 100 degrees C anyway, that wouldn't be much of a problem for me - but I can happily make do with coffee for a week!

(no subject) - negothick, 2013-07-02 09:55 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-07-02 09:59 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-07-03 12:33 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - lnhammer, 2013-07-02 10:20 pm (UTC)(Expand)
I'm still not sure what a 'pelican crossing' is even after passing the driving test, but yes, our walk/don't walk signs do beep. :)

You can get electric kettles in the US, though they're not standard. I am still trying to convince Britain of the use of screen doors. And screen windows. People here just stare blankly at me when I try to explain. Tumble dryers, however, are standard.

And not that they're often in circulation, but the women are on the dollar coins. The old version has Susan B Anthony, the new version Sacagawea.

When I was growing up we had a stream at the bottom of the garden, and on summer evenings when we left the door open for coolth the ceiling would be black with gnats and flies. A screen door would have been a godsend; but we didn't waste time pining for one as we had no notion of their existence.

(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-07-03 08:02 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-07-02 09:33 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-07-03 08:00 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-07-03 12:38 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-07-03 12:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - wellinghall, 2013-07-03 07:07 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-07-03 08:00 am (UTC)(Expand)
The beige-ish and pink-ish US money ($10 and maybe some other bills?) is fairly new, an anti-counterfeiting measure. Unfortunately, it muddies the contrast-- people with low vision find it measurably more difficult to distinguish the denominations. The one-dollar bills are the same as ever; there's a law on the books saying they can't be altered.

I didn't know about that law - it explains a lot. I wonder why it's there?

What grrlpup said about the US currency. It's been remodeled slightly over the last decade or two. The only amusing part of following US currency is watching for the changing signatures as new Treasurers and Secretaries of the Treasury take office and their bills slowly make their way out into the public. The new Secretary of the Treasury created some controversy because he had a signature which, honest to ghu, looked like this, though in his new office he is trying to do a little better.

There has been much fuss lately about US ATM cards not working in Europe because they only have magnetic stripes, not chips. I don't know if that's important the other way around. If your card has a chip, does it also still have a stripe? Does it have the name of a network like "Plus" on it? Then it should work.

I'm not sure what strange_complex means about the majority of ATMs in the US being stand-alone machines. We do have lots of these, but we also have lots built into banks, too. Maybe there's more of the stand-alone machines in NYC than elsewhere. I never use stand-alone machines. They're easily hacked, and they often charge ridiculous fees. Ask your bank about their fees (you can get hit both ways with these) and whether they have any reciprocity agreements with any US banks, esp. ones operating in Massachusetts. (US banks are interstate now, but the prevalence of different ones varies tremendously by location.)

Thanks for the advice. My cards have both strips and chips, I think, but I shall play it safe and bring plenty of money wrapped in a five-pound note.

It seems that Mr Lew was suffering delusions of being a Slinky.

(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-07-02 10:14 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - wellinghall, 2013-07-03 07:07 am (UTC)(Expand)
You'll be in my neighborhood! Hurrah hurrah. Waving from Dorchester.

*waves back*!

(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-07-03 02:45 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Pelican crossings? Not zebra?

Zebra crossings are different. They don't beep or have green figures - merely flashing Belisha beacons, indicating that pedestrians have right of way.

I still think of pelican crossings as newfangled innovations, although Wiki tells me they came in in 1969 and are already being phased out in favour of puffins (don't ask).

(no subject) - lamentables, 2013-07-03 07:56 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - wellinghall, 2013-07-04 07:37 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-07-04 07:39 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - lnhammer, 2013-07-03 02:44 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-07-03 02:50 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - drasecretcampus, 2013-07-03 05:53 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - drasecretcampus, 2013-07-03 05:54 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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