Jewish World Review Jan. 28, 2003 / 25 Shevat, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Signs our economy is on upswing | Number two sign that the economy may not be all that bad:

According to a Reuters story, a robber in California refused to take $1 bills when he held up a bank.

It wasn't like the guy waved off a couple of bills; he turned up his nose at $600 in $1 bills offered by the cashier at the Union Bank branch in San Juan Capistrano.

Robbing a bank these days is apparently like placing an order at a fast-food restaurant. "I'll have a double bacon cheeseburger and hold the singles." As robbers become more discriminating, banks will be obliged to provide additional services. Robbers may someday be able to choose between a stack of fives, a stack of tens, a stack of 20s or a mixture of all three. A box of $1 bills will be available at the teller window in case the robber needs to mop his brow or light a cigarette.

To avoid unnecessary confusion during the robbery itself, which can be dangerous for all parties concerned, banks may want to advertise the fact that robbers must accept a minimum of $300 in singles before they will be permitted to cart off higher denomination bills. More prestigious banks might pump their image by advertising "$50 Thursdays" for those robbers too busy to mess around with the small stuff.

I am sorry to see the dollar bill sink in prestige to the point that bank robbers will no longer accept it. When it comes to the point that people won't bend over to pick one off the ground, we'll know that things have truly gotten out of hand.

Number one sign that the economy may not be that bad:

Officials in a small Washington state town hope to attract tourists by building a giant, multi-million-dollar lava lamp in the center of town.

Officials of Soap Lake are looking for investors, and high on their list is Paul Allen, multi-billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp., who funded several other unusual projects, including a rock 'n' roll museum in a blob-colored building next to the Seattle Space Needle.

The giant lamp, the vision of ponytailed architect Brent Blake, would be approximately 60 feet high, 18 feet in diameter and weigh 60,000 pounds. Catwalks would surround the lamp so (paying) visitors could gaze through the 5-inch-thick glass and watch blobs of colored goo slowly rise and fall.

The giant lava lamp just might tip the balance for people for whom the Grand Coulee Dam was not reason enough to drive all the way to eastern Washington. The lamp might also revitalize downtown Soap Lake, as the kind of people who groove on lava lamps also tend to groove on substances that give them a powerful appetite.

The giant lava lamp is such a terrific idea that it's even got its own Web site, While I am personally not in the position to donate millions to this project, you may well be, so it's important you act now, before it's too late.

Also, unlike the bank robbers of San Juan Capistrano, the folks behind the lava lamp project will gladly accept dollar bills, which is another point in its favor.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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10/02/02: Japanese turn eyes to computer haikus
09/27/02: Oh, no! Bosses want to know what's on your mind
09/24/02: An airbag, humanity's salvation?
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08/30/02: A charming idea from a brutal, whacked-out, megalomaniacal dictator-for-life
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07/16/02: Hasbro should consider new inaction figure
07/11/02: Decline in trash-talking is harming our mental health? Well, #@%&!
07/08/02 Americans retain right to fork tongues
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© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune