Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I like measuring things. Always have.

Not just length, but also direction, weight, temperature, slope, pitch, blood glucose, body fat, ...

It doesn't take much of an amateur psychologist to make something of that, I suppose.

I was thusly reminded again recently when I was reading
Susanna Moore's The Big Girls, where a primary character compulsively measures her surroundings with a ruler, recording the results in a notebook. I don't do that recording at least, I guess, but close.

It isn't just the process that intrigues me: I am especially pleased with various measuring tools -- especially when there is good "gizmo factor."

A while back I bought an inexpensive small digital scale. Pocket size. Tenth of a gram accuracy. Grams, ounces, pennyweights, troy ounces.

Began weighing all sorts of things.

One of the more interesting things to weigh turned out to be coins, which pretty much provided the final impetus to get me into active coin collecting.

I also started collecting scales, finding a variety of small inexpensive scales that don't take up much space and let me weigh coins and other small things in various manners.

The most classic scale design is the basic balance scale, with two pans hanging from the ends of a beam.

Balance. Again, it probably doesn't take much insight to see the appeal for me there.

I also began a small collection of scale weights.

They are mostly intended to weigh things on balance scales, but do I use them that way? Nah. Mostly I weigh things on the digital scales -- more fun to see what things weigh in various measurement systems by just pushing the button. Also less responsibility - the digital scale just does what it does, while with a balance scale you are responsible for adding and removing different size weights until balance is achieved.

It seems like what I weigh most is the various weights in my weight collection. Multiples and fractions of grams, ounces, grains, scruples, drams, pennyweights, tikals, and more to come, I hope.

I like seeing that the weights weigh more or less what they should weigh. That they fulfill expectations. Most of them aren't real accurate, but apparently for many purposes, they didn't need to be perfect. Ummm, could be some more of that psycho stuff.

And yes, I've finally got some scruples. Who would ever have guessed that you could buy them off the internet?

Monday, October 8, 2007


Sometime in that interim when I was having trouble posting, I got myself into coin collecting.

Occasionally in the past, I had flirted with the incipient interest, but was frightened off by imagined ramifications of my obsessive compulsive tendencies with what I read about how collecting was done, and a lot of the prices I saw.

In the meantime, I've gotten a bit better at steering my obsessions, even if controlling is still too strong a word, and came to understand that most of what one reads about coin collecting is written and published by folks with an economic interest in developing the high-end market. Those folks want you to complete a category, and desire the most pristine condition coins, because that's where their profits are.

I prefer coins that show they have been used - a well-worn old coin might have been in the pocket of someone in in my reading or an old picture. Doesn't seem so likely for rare coins or unworn coins, even for a fictional character.

So I've been having fun with coins mostly out of the boxes of rummage coins that most dealers have for a dime or so each, as well as getting multi-coin lots off the internet, which tends to keep the cost down - sometimes way down if you are willing to risk lots of duplicates.

I've sorted my coins into cheap little folding clear plastic boxes, so I can still handle them, while being able to find specific coins or groups without getting frustrated. But I still want a bulk bunch of coins for simple play -- similar to a button box - so that is where the excess duplicates go.

The autistic side of my coin collecting is that I like to line coins up and put them in order by date or denomination or size or whatever. With both a sorted collection, and a jumble, there will be plenty of available variations on that play.

In my more intellectual moments, I enjoy the linkages of coins to geography and history - both have been longtime interests (together more often than not) that have become harder to indulge, and coins seem to be filling my need for an easy, tactile way to extend that enjoyment.

Good fun.