Where’s George?: an update

Today is exactly seven months since I first posted about my Where’s George? hobby.  T his being a “W” week for the Pagan Blog Project, it seemed an apt day to check in about that.

Some of my marked Georges

When I started tracking currency, I thought it would be a good way to help keep myself mindful about money.  On that score, I probably did not need any help.  I am, at my core, a thrifty person, and keeping a lot of small bills around shows me just how thrifty I am.  I would probably be a more successful Georger if I were a bit more willing to spend money!

Along the way, I have been frequently reminded that money is part of a system, and it’s a system humans neither created nor fully understand, much less control.  When we talk about the weather, we implicitly understand that this is something we can guard against, but that our efforts to influence it will probably always have mixed, and limited, results.  With money, because we designed the bits of metal and paper, and because we thought it would be a neat idea to give one thing and receive another, we largely operate under the mistaken assumption that we control the system and its rules.  Ha!

As I’ve grown more comfortable with the site, I have become more individualized in my marking style.  Visible in the picture is a round, brown mark; that’s my signature stamp, a custom job to identify my bills.  It’s a star of Vergina, the symbol worn by members of my temple and many other practitioners of Hellenismos as a symbol of our path.  Money that I use in my money hunter spellwork just gets that stamp, because some Georgers are uncomfortable hitting bills that have political or other messages on them.

There are social groups on the WG? site, including a few small ones that cater to Georgers of various religious persuasions, so I started a Pagan Georgers group.  Thus far, I remain its only member, but I am unconcerned; the Catholic Georgers, which has been around for over four years, boasts only 17 members, so even having one Pagan is a disproportionately high number.

If you’re a Georger or are interested in the hobby, don’t be a stranger:  comments are open.

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project, a yearlong exploration of spirituality.  This specific post is brought to you by the letter W.

Nudiustertian blessings

Laughing gull flying near Eastern Egg Rock Island, Maine

The day before yesterday I was deep under the influence of Poseidon and Hermes.  My wife and I were on a trip which was characterized by incredibly lucky timing, and our travels had led us to a remote island off the coast of Maine, inhabited by unusual sea birds including, as our tour captain put it, four kinds of terns:

  • common tern,
  • Arctic tern,
  • roseate tern, and
  • intern.
I don’t write the jokes, I just share the pain.
In the days leading up to our puffin cruise, we always seemed to beat the rush and make really good decisions based on intuition alone.  We’d pick a place to eat, get seated, and watch the room fill up around us after our orders were taken.  The traffic would be backed up for miles — going the other way on the highway.
Without a particular plan in mind, we had perused seasonal tourist attractions and hit upon visiting Boothbay Harbor, because that’s where you go to see puffins in the USA.  I knew from my research that we were in the area during nesting season.  We didn’t know until we’d arrived in town and found a place to stay that the cruises only go out three times a week, but sure enough, the following morning was one of those days.  We got our tickets that night, did the restaurant thing again, and managed to get on board the next morning before the boat got packed with other tourists.
The captain and Audobon volunteers spent much of the trip out to this nesting island preparing us to be disappointed.  While breeding pairs of puffins on Eastern Egg Rock have risen from one in the late nineteenth century to over a hundred now (after thirty years of hard work by the Audobon society), these are small birds, and can be hard to spot despite their toucan-colorful beaks.  They weigh about ten ounces, have dark backs and wings, and can blend in with the waters and rocks.  The captain urged us all to scan the horizon and shout if we saw one of the penguin-shaped birds.
No one shouted.
As we neared the island, two puffins flew by, perhaps in greeting.  With the engines quietly idling, we approached the craggy rocks, and a sight that stunned the seasoned puffin professionals.  “This is probably the entire population of the island you’re seeing in the water in front of us,” the captain said over the PA.  “I’ve taken three tours a week here for ten years now, and I have never seen this many puffins at one time.”
They swam.  They flew by the boat.  They gathered on the rocky shore, where they care for the eggs laid in deep burrows.  Other birds, laughing gulls and terns of all four kinds (the half-dozen interns on the island all waved to us), guillemots and species of Eastern Egg Rock swam and flew by, unconcerned.
At one exciting moment, a tern hovered off the stern like a giant hummingbird as it took a bead on a fish beneath the waves.  After nearly a minute of floating two feet above the surface, it dove down, speared the hapless ocean-dweller, and flew away with its catch.
We got glimpses of harbor seals and harbor porpoises, and a pair of Wilson’s storm petrels flew by the boat a few times.  This bird breeds off the coast of Antarctica and spends its life traveling the world’s oceans.  They are not rare, but the chances of seeing them from land are remote, since they are pelagic (a nice word with Greek origins).
While we left the coast behind, and with it this onslaught of Poseidon-inspired signs, our trip continued to be smiled upon by the god of luck and travelers.  The nudiustertian morning (there’s that word again), I decided we ought to see fireworks that night, and gave it no further thought.  As we drove, I aimlessly checked in on Foursquare, and scored myself a mayorship.  That was enough to attract the attention of my sister, a very rare user of that service, who let me know we were five minutes from her home.  She and her husband made us a lovely dinner, offered to put us up for the night . . . and brought us to the local fireworks show, which is traditionally held on July the third, so as not to compete with the big affair in Boston.
I love my gods.

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project, a yearlong exploration of spirituality.  This specific post is brought to you by the letter N.

Where’s George?

I decided to sign up over at Where’s George, the currency tracking project which is one of the oldest residents of the internet.  Fifteen years in, I decided it was a pretty good hobby for me, because I could count every buck that passed through my hands.

In a magical sense, it’s important to use energy with intent, and counting every dollar definitely helps with intent.  To put it in the business vernacular, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.  Seeing the number of bills I enter into the WG? database is another tool to help keep me mindful and my money manageable.

Of course, that’s not the purpose of the site, not at all!  Where’s George? is a currency tracking project, so in time I will be able to see how the money I spend travels after I part company with it.  I’ve already had one “hit” on a bill that I put in the system, and it bodes will for that little bill:  it was picked up by a toll collector who goes out of his way to give the WG? bills in change to people with out-of-state license plates.  The dollar could be in for an exciting trip, and I hope it gets found again sometime.

NPR profiled Where’s George on the occasion of its fifteenth anniversary, and it spurred me to finally check the site out.  I’ve seen a few “wilds” over the years, but never went out of my way to enter one.  I didn’t know that you don’t need to sign up in order to update a bill’s history; that’s only necessary if you want to enter new bills into the database.  So I went whole hog, making a profile and buying a rubber stamp for about ten bucks.

Those rubber stamps are tricky, it turns out.  For the first couple of years, site owner Hank Eskin sold Where’s George stamps, but stopped doing so when it was suggested that he was advertising on US currency.  Good luck finding anything about rubber stamps, marking bills with the site’s name, or anything that hints as to how the project actually works.  That sort of info is available on other sites, of course, and you can buy a rubber stamp through any company that makes that sort of thing.  Try Google.

So when I have a few dollars and decide to enter them, it’s with dreamy enthusiasm about where those bills will end up next.  I don’t know if I’ll learn anything or actually improve myself, but not knowing is half the fun.