Thursday, July 30, 2015

Making change...

Making change...  Via friend and fellow retiree Doug W.:

Doug adds:
I remember visiting a small town in Russia in 1995, where the young clerk in a bakery got out her abacus to figure out the total and give us change. I marveled at the time that almost nobody in the USA could have done that even with a calculator. It's probably worse today.
I had a similar experience in Estonia, a year or two earlier.  I was driving in a fairly remote area near the town of Soe, just west of the lake Võrtsjärve, in farm country.  At a crossroads there was a little store, where I bought some food for my picnic lunch on the shoreline.  The clerk in that store used an abacus to total up my order and to calculate the VAT on a little handmade wooden box I also bought.  At the time I had no idea how to use an abacus, nor did I know that there are several kinds of abaci.  I've since learned how to use a Chinese abacus, but the Russian variety I still don't know much about.  The clerk's abacus was quite crude – roughly turned wooden beads strung on pieces of rusty wire in a heavy, primitive-looking frame...

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