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My Ten cents' worth.

Monday, February 04, 2013   by: David Root


It’s bright and sunny, today, and I suppose I should be outside enjoying it — perhaps cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (except, I don’t own any), or just going for a walk.

Perhaps I should head down to Bellevue Park and take a few runs down the bum slide?

But… although warmer than this morning, it’s still somewhat cold out, and I prefer to be indoors and warm. So, I sit here glancing occasionally out the window, trying to gather my thoughts and create a new column.

Regular readers — and perhaps even occasional readers — will have noticed there have been considerable gaps between my columns over the past few months. My “reasons” tend to be more “excuses’ than anything else. 

While I have been busy on other things, the biggest “reason” has been chronic procrastination. In fact, I would have offered that as an explanation sooner, but… 

I will admit that I have started a few columns that never got finished; some because they were more rants than anything else, and either I came to my senses and abandoned them, or decided that it wasn’t a topic worthy of a thousand word missive.

In other cases I was somewhat compelled to write about a particular topic, but just couldn’t seem to pull enough material together.

Either way, here’s a few thoughts that have been rattling around in my head, lately.


Sunday would have been my mother’s 73rd birthday. I’m not sure how she would have felt about that. She embraced 50 with a true joie de vivre, much to my father’s dismay.

She even slapped a sticker on the back of the car that read FIFTY IS NIFTY.

Two years older than her, my father did not want their ages announced to the rest of the world.

I suspect that she would have treated 60 and 70 in much the same way… and facing 75 would likely not have been at all disheartening for her. She was one of the original “50 is the new 40” sort of person, and age was a badge of honour, for her.

It’s hard to believe that this year, in September, will mark 20 years since she passed away. November will mark the same anniversary for my father.

Of course, that gives me much pause for thought, as I am now in my 53rd year. While my health is not failing, and I have started trying to take better care of myself, cancer shows no mercy. Both of them were in reasonably good health, too, until struck by cancer in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

Penny for your thoughts

Today marks the day the penny is withdrawn from circulation in Canada.

I say, “YAY!”

I find I have too many pennies filling my pockets. My eyesight not being what it once was, if I do not have my reading glasses with me it is difficult to sort through a handful of coins to find the correct change to pay for a coffee.

What surprises me (or perhaps, it really isn’t that much of a surprise) is the reaction from some people, especially those convinced that retailers are going to be ripping-off customers.

Folks, even if retailers do not follow the rounding suggestions, and round everything up to the nearest nickel, you’ll only lose FOUR CENTS.

And that’s not four cents per item; rounding applies to the TOTAL only, and ONLY if you’re paying cash.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things, with (let’s say) 10,000 customers making purchases at Walmart in a typical day, that amounts to [drum roll] $400. Per day.

Yes, $400 IS a lot of money, to me or you. With the average purchase at Walmart being in the neighbourhood of $150, not so much. That’s $146,500 per year. The average annual store revenue is $16.5 million.

Of course, any increase in profit is welcome, but a retailer would have to be operating on the scale of Walmart to realize any significant increase.

Your local pizza place or corner store or coffee shop (even Timmie’s) isn’t going to make any significant gains by rounding up.

Some comments have me shaking my head. I recently read online (can’t recall where) where someone suggested that the government hold off “until everyone who was familiar with the ‘old system’ [with pennies] is gone.

Really? How does that make sense? We heard the same argument during the transition to the Metric System. Unfortunately, the government heeded that advice — or to an extent, anyway. We now have 391 ml cans of vegetables, and meat prices that are advertised in both pounds and kilograms.

I still hear people say they “can’t figure out the temperature thing.” That was thirty years ago.

The problem is that if the government waits, while we wait for everyone who knew how to count pennies to die, young people are being born and are learning to count and use money.

There will never be a point where “everyone” who knew the old way is gone, as has proven to be the case with the Metric System.

No, this is the best way. No more pennies; prices rounded for cash transactions. Get it over and done with.

Not to mention, it is saving us money. It costs $11 million per year to produce pennies, or 1.6¢ each. They are worth more melted down for their copper content (98%) than their face value.

Keep in mind that $11 million dollar expense is cumulative. Five years from now we will have saved $55 million.

And, as hoarded pennies are redeemed, some of the cost will be recovered.

People thinking of emptying their penny jars, take note: Canada’s currency laws state that you can only spend 25 coppers at a time. Don’t lug a bag full to the grocery store and expect to be allowed to count out 14,000 of them to pay for your purchase.

Even rolled, merchants are under no obligation to take more than 25. If you want to cash them in, head to the bank. And bring them rolled.

Winter driving

Yes, I know… I have mentioned this before, but…


Aside from obscuring your vision, and the visibility of your vehicle to other drivers, if you are pulling out from behind a snowbank with a foot-and-a-half (there’s that pre-metric hold-over) of snow on your roof, how will people see you coming?

I watched, recently, as a woman came to a stop behind a line of vehicles at a red light on Great Northern. The entire roof of her car was covered about 12 cm deep in snow. The moment her car stopped, all that snow slid forward and covered her windshield and hood.

Rather than get out and sweep it off, she merely turned her wipers on. The wipers struggled to shift the heavy, wet snow (it was the one warm day, last week), and she drove off looking through two portholes.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, many of our local streets are considerably narrowed by snowbanks. The City has been out almost every night cutting banks back, and in many cases removing them completely.

Still, many roads that would normally be two lanes in each direction are not, any longer. Goulais avenue, last week, had about 30 cm of the right lane showing, the rest being snowbank.

Also, lane markings have disappeared under the hard-pack. It would seem that too many drivers are not able to adequately estimate where the lanes might be.

Use a measure of caution when on the roads. Leave room for others. Take your time — take extra time, even — and get there safely. Expect intersections to be slippery, for stopping and starting-off. If you think “there’s time to pull out” and you’re relying on a quick start, wait for a better opportunity.

Bon Soo

As you will know, I am not big on “winter fun.” Still, Bon Soo is a great winter activity, very family-friendly AND (despite the grumblings of a few) very affordable. A $5 button gets you into a whole list of activities, most especially the bum slides.

I enjoyed the opening ceremony, more so than ever because Mustang Sally performed with alumni Johnee Rae Whalen. The kids did an fantastic job, especially given the temperatures that evening.

So, if you like winter, buy a button and take in some Bon Soo events. It is “the greatest snow on earth.” And really, whether you like winter or not, Bon Soo is something of which we, as Sault-ites, should be well and truly proud.


But… that’s just my opinion.











Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Norm 2/4/2013 6:02:07 PM Report

Your quite a character Sam, in a good way though.
Just Curious 2/4/2013 6:36:06 PM Report

Norm,,,It's "you're".... and Dave,your columns written this way are more fun to read than a three page rant on any one subject. But again,that's just my opinion...:)(Is that plagerism)???
Norm 2/4/2013 10:49:34 PM Report

Thanks JustC, I see lots of younger people using your, it's shorter, lazy and wrong.
Spellchecker 2/5/2013 5:53:50 AM Report

Heaven knows I've tried but it's a losing battle.
Spellchecker 2/5/2013 5:56:16 AM Report

JC, it's 'plagiarism'.
Spellchecker 2/5/2013 5:59:02 AM Report

Sam and Norm, did you see my little Nettleton's Lake comment on your last article? It went in just before this one was posted.
Norm 2/5/2013 7:06:31 PM Report

Never seen that, but I know that lake very well Spelly.
right wing 2/6/2013 10:02:34 AM Report

Here ya go Spelly....

Spellchecker 2/4/2013 12:59:47 PM Report

Nettleton's Lake, I used to hitch-hike the gravel trucks up Goulais Avenue to go swimming there with my chums. Louis Tonon would always give us a lift. Fun days in the late 50s and early 60s.
right wing 2/6/2013 10:09:21 AM Report


My sister was a camp councilor at Nettleton's lake.
As I lived in the area we enjoyed many good times at and near the Lake.
"The field" became a place for many of us to meet in our youth, have a fire, play some tunes, sweet talk the girls and drink some beers.
Another favorite spot was Maki Lake.
Just Curious 2/6/2013 12:43:58 PM Report

Norm and Spelly; The way these kids spell when they text,it's a wonder they can spell at all. I watch my son(42) texting and he gets a whole sentence out in 6 or 7 letters..:)
Spellchecker 2/7/2013 8:17:07 AM Report

JC, the way we're going, we'll soon have an illiterate population.
Sam C 2/8/2013 9:40:30 PM Report

rw... *counsellor*
right wing 2/11/2013 10:48:59 AM Report

Sam, only pennies prior to the 90's have a high copper content.
From 2000 on the penny is 94% steel with only 4.5% copper and the rest nickel.
Not worth the energy it would take to melt them.
Sam C 2/11/2013 2:31:03 PM Report

Thanks, rw... I knew that, but somehow it got left out of the text.

Still, it costs more to make them than they're worth.
right wing 2/11/2013 2:34:58 PM Report

Getting rid of the penny was well past due.
I took a pile of them to Habitat for Humanity.
They have had a penny drive on for some time now in an effort to raise enough to build a house.
That is one massive pile of pennies....
IB-fine 2/23/2013 2:37:27 PM Report

Totally agree about people who don't brush off their cars/trucks/vans Dave!
I don't know how many times I've been behind someone causing a blizzard to those behind them as they are too lazy to get the snow off their car/vehicle. And how most of them can see if beyond me!

They do have extending brushes for those with trucks/vans as they seem to be the worst for not doing this. I had to buy one for my car as a regular length brush won't get all of the snow off the top. Take a few minutes while the car is warming up and brush off your vehicle for heaven's sake!
I don't want to get into an accident because you were too lazy to brush yours off!
right wing 3/2/2013 9:06:12 AM Report


Anybody there.....

Time for a new column....

Just an idea but how about you do one on what is going on in Sudbury with the Sudbury police using crime stoppers and urging motorists to call in erratic driving behavior....Seniors are on the bandwagon claiming they are being targeted.
It has opened up a real can of worms....CBC radio has done a segment on the whole issue... whose responsibility it should be to tell aged Mom or Pop it is time to hang up the drivers license, family or the law.

just a thought......
Retreaded 3/9/2013 12:10:10 PM Report

this is old stuff
Norm 3/12/2013 3:55:04 PM Report

Where`s David? Well, it is a good break for everybody.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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