Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

6/3/2014

The Destruction of Money

Filed under: — stan @ 9:30 pm

A few weeks ago, I signed up for yet another tour with the Obscura Society – L.A. This time, it was a tour of the Federal Reserve in downtown Los Angeles. This is where they handle distributing cash to all the banks in southern California, and all the way to the casinos in Las Vegas. So even though they don’t actually print money there, they do handle astoundingly large amounts of it. And in addition, this is where money goes to die. As the cash passes through there, bills that are too worn are shredded.

We saw the room where they sort the money, picking out counterfeit bills, and putting the stacks of bills into the machine that inspects them. Apparently, the machine automatically detects and shreds the worn-out bills, and the shreds are just blown up a pipe into the ceiling to some sort of trap up above.

They showed us the carts they move money around on. Each cart holds something like 460,000 bundled bills, so a cart holds anywhere from $460,000 to $46,000,000. After we’d worked that out, they showed us the vault. It looked like the last scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, only with carts full of money instead of wooden boxes. At that point, I ran out of zeros to count with. That vault had to have held a couple billion dollars in cash. Yikes. No wonder security at the building is tight.

At the end, they had us fill out a little survey and gave us each a small bag of shredded money to take home. It was a unique little adventure.

Towerthon – Addendum

Filed under: — stan @ 10:10 am

After my first time doing the Towerthon in 2012, I made up the stair chart for the building, and I used that to estimate how far I’d climbed that morning. And my estimate came out to be just a bit under one mile. And this is where I got the idea of doing the two-hour Vertical Mile.

This became a bit of an obsession for me the next year. I made a couple of attempts at practice sessions at the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles, and I finally managed to do it one evening.

Of course, in the end, the joke was on me. In that at the 2013 Towerthon, George had gone in and measured the steps at the building, and it turned out that they were about 3/8 inch taller than my original estimate. And that 3/8 inch multiplied by the 8,602 steps I’d climbed actually meant that I’d done the mile that first time. But because I’d thought I’d fallen just short, it became an all-consuming obsession.

Along the way, a few other people tried doing the Vertical Mile, and the idea sort of took on a life of its own. Even to the point where the 2013 Towerthon made up special shirts to be given to all finishers who managed to climb over a mile. And this year, they did that again. In this year’s building, 22 climbs made a mile. And my friend Leland managed to do it. This was his first time doing the Vertical Mile, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that apparently my name as become associated with the idea. So once again, I’m glad to have contributed something to this insane little sport of ours.

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