Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2010 April 14

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April 14[edit]

Bank cheque present etiquette[edit]

I have a tricky etiquette question. It’s not really reference desk fodder, but I know of no better place to ask.

Close to 2 years ago, I gave a member of my family some money for an important birthday. I’m not in regular contact with them, I know little about their lifestyle or interests, and I had to travel interstate to the party, so all in all I thought a small token gift plus some money was the most practical option. The money was in the form of a bank cheque. They seemed very appreciative when I gave it to them. So far, so good.

A month or so ago, I got a letter from my bank, saying the cheque had never been presented, and the funds were being returned to my account. Now I have a problem.

I’m loath to discuss the matter with the person, for fear of embarrassing them. They may have mislaid the cheque or it may have been accidentally destroyed, and I can understand them not wanting to contact me to ask for the money again. Or it may be sitting in a bottom drawer waiting for them to get around to banking it (which would be fruitless now, but they don't know that); or they may even have been offended by it. These last 2 are much less likely, but you never know. What if they finally bank it, and discover the cheque has been cancelled in the meantime? They may well think it was of my doing, and I’ll then become the Indian giver from hell, in their eyes.

If I just send them the money again, that’s also likely to embarrass them. I could do it under cover of a letter where I acknowledge these things sometimes happen in even the very best of families, and it’s no big deal. But maybe they never wanted the money to begin with, and deliberately chose not to bank it. Better to know this before I do anything. But that involves asking them if there was a problem, and if there was but they didn’t want to talk about it, then I’m creating a new problem by forcing the issue. And you know me, I never force issues. :)

Or maybe they'd go "What a godsend, I really need that money. I’d completely forgotten about it. Thanks so much for letting me know. How quickly can you get it to me?"

Or maybe they’d totally forgotten about it, but don’t need it at all.

But whether they need it or not is really beside the point. I gave it to them, I wanted them to have it, and nothing’s changed as far as that’s concerned. I feel that I should at least suffer pangs of guilt if I’m going to get to keep the money. Silly, I know, but that’s me.

Maybe I should just shut up, do nothing, and treat it as a windfall gain, on the principle that it was their responsibility to bank it before they had a chance to lose it. And it was, as I say, almost 2 years ago now and nothing’s been said. But that still feels pretty mean and penny-pinching to me.

If I don’t make some attempt to either get the money back to them or at least discuss it with them, it’s almost tantamount to never having given it to them in the first place. That’s certainly so in monetary terms. My gestures of travelling to be at the party and handing over my present can never be erased, though, and maybe that’s all that really matters in the end. “It’s the thought that counts” (he rationalises).

So, what, if anything, to do, and how to go about it, or not? I’d appreciate any helpful perspectives on this. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, maybe not. -- (JackofOz =) (talk) 00:07, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't think you should do anything. The check won't be honored by the bank if they do ever present it - and that's not your fault. Perhaps they don't need the money - maybe "the thought was what counted" - maybe they think you need the money more than they do - or maybe they simply forgot all about it - maybe they were so amazed that you gave them money that they framed the check instead of presenting it! If you really feel bad about it - wait until the persons' next birthday and buy them something extra-special. Gift-giving is about the moment...if it drags on, forget it. SteveBaker (talk) 00:14, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
We need another ref desk, called "Dear Gabby" or some such. :) In my opinion, you're overthinking this. If it were me, rather than playing any guessing games, I would simply give them a friendly call or letter and advise them that a check you gave them 2 years ago was never cashed, that the bank has nullified it, and ask them what they want done about it. I don't see why it would be all that embarrassing - probably just a good laugh. If nothing else, it's an excuse to contact them, assuming you're on good terms with them. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:37, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Steve. I don't think you have any further obligation. If you had given them some other sort of open voucher, say a book token, and they had not used it, for whatever reason, you would not have thought about it. When one gives a gift it is behoven on the receiver to take care of it if they want to use it. When you gave the gift it no longer was your property or responsibility. OK, I understand your kind concern, but life is not a perfect process and as Steve suggests there will be another time for you to rectify the situation. Richard Avery (talk) 07:44, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Jack, you've got no duty to do anything about it. If you want to re-send a cheque, I wouldn't expect anyone to be embarrassed by a note with cheque attached saying "bank told me cheque wasn't cashed, in case you've misplaced it, here's a copy". I personally would tend to resend the cheque if it was for a younger relative, but forget about it if it was for an older one. --Psud (talk) 08:01, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
And if the significant birthday was a 21st or lower, I (as a 32 year old) would definitely resend the cheque. (but I'm probably overly sentimental) --Psud (talk) 08:03, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I would do nothing. If ever in the presence of the person again I would mention what subsequently transpired. That would include even being in the phone presence of the person, but more applicably in face to face presence. I wouldn't make a special phone call to address this. Only if on the phone for some other reason or no reason at all would I eventually mention it. And if in the company of the person at some point in the future, I think it would be an appropriate topic of conversation to bring up. Bus stop (talk) 08:54, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

If the bank cancelled the check, then its due to procedure, in this case is highly likely that if they try to cash the check their bank can see that it has expired. Joneleth (talk) 16:00, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

I am missing why they would be embarrassed over their failure to deposit the check. Personally I'd mail them a replacement with a note that the bank had notified you that the original check had never been presented and is no longer valid; though I agree with the above that you have no duty to do so. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:40, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
It was, as I say, a bank cheque, not my own personal cheque. They could never have cashed it as such; it needed to be deposited to their account, and the funds would become available within a few days, unless they chose to pay a fee to have it cleared quickly. Typically, when one deposits any sort of cheque, it's stamped and accepted by the teller, and the first time the customer knows there's any problem is when they receive a letter from the bank saying the cheque they deposited last week has been cancelled. I'd hate for that to happen to me. I might realise that it's just a time issue, because all cheques become what's known as "stale" (i.e. not worth the paper they're written on) after a certain period. But it's still unsatisfactory, because I deposited the cheque in order for the funds to be transferred to my account, and that hasn't happened, and unless I contact the giver, it's not going to happen.
Had it been my own personal cheque (theoretical since I haven't used personal cheques for at least 5 years), the funds would never have left my control to begin with, until such time as the cheque was presented, which normally would have been within a short time after giving it. But because it was a bank cheque, I forked out cash for it at the time - and now, 2 years later, the funds have come back to me. I'm that much better off now than I was a couple of weeks ago. And I feel I shouldn't be.
Look, I think it's very unlikely that the cheque would still be in their possession after all this time, so the above scenario isn't going to happen. If it happened to me, there's no way I'd be getting in touch with the giver, and I'd just put it down to experience. The most likely thing is the cheque was left in their pocket, it went into the wash and was pulped, 2 years ago, and it's been long forgotten. This person has been on at least 3 overseas holidays since then, so it's not as if they're exactly skint. That was never the issue. I gave this money away, so to me it's not my property any more. Yet I have it back - but not because they gave it back. I didn't steal it off them, but it feels not much different than if I had. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 21:12, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Baseball Bugs and with Comet. Good excuse to be in touch with them. If I were in their shoes (and I have been), that is what I would most appreciate. If another cheque goes astray, you just forget about it. Kittybrewster 21:50, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I think gifts don't matter. The proper perspective in which to put gifts are as things of secondary importance. Did you give it to him? Did he see it? Did he recognize its identity? Did he read the amount of money inscribed on the piece of paper? Were there pleasantries exchanged over occurrence? I think it has to be said that all of the preceding is the essence, and all that transpires subsequently is of secondary importance, from the perspective of you, the gift-giver. Yes, you have questions. Yes, you want to know what happened. I don't think it is out of the question for you to contact them now about it. But I think subterfuge should be employed. I think you would want to pretend that there is a primary reason why you are contacting them, made up, of course, and then only as an afterthought would this subject be brought up. I don't think focus is welcome on a tender moment that is over. It is easier for you and easier for the recipient that any inquiry about that un-cashed check be relegated to a minor afterthought. But hey, maybe I'm thinking about this too much. Bus stop (talk) 21:54, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Me too, Bus stop.
Thanks to all for your valuable insights. I will take them all into account when I decide what, if anything, I'm going to do. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 09:14, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I thought of a possibly-humorous way you could do this. If you happen to have a carbon copy of that check, and if they do this kind of thing in Australia, you could create a fake version of one of those "missing persons" mailings (they also used to put them on milk cartons) and send it to your friend, with a picture of that check!
And in case you think I made that up, no, I got it from a comic some years ago (don't ask me who) who said that he got a small carton of milk on his plane flight, and on it was a picture of his luggage. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)


Does anyone know where I can find solutions (direct solutions not hints) to ? Joneleth (talk) 11:26, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Oh my, thank you for turning me on to this game. --jpgordon::==( o ) 19:53, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

De Javu[edit]

Recently when experienceing Dejavu I have found that if I am quick I am able to remember forwards, so that I will be able to know what is going to happen in the next 3 seconds or so. Is this a normal reaction to the phenomenon? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:34, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, in my experience, but we call it predicting not 'remembering forward'. You are not remembering anything, it just feels as though you are. Caesar's Daddy (talk) 15:21, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Humans are habitual creatures, we have often been in the exact same situations before that we are in now, if the current situation feels close enough to a prior one you get such strong predictions about whats going to happen that it feels like a memory. Joneleth (talk) 15:56, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Btw, the letter split is déjà vu, literally meaning "already seen". -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:34, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Happens to me all the time. I think it's called déjà entendu, but google search has been made tough as that seems to also be the name of a popular album. AlexHOUSE (talk) 18:28, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Dunno, but déjà entendu should mean you've "already heard" it, literally.-- (talk) 20:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

what kind of economy china is?[edit]

what kind of economy china is? wheather it is mix-economy, marx... or what??? and wheather there where any other econonmy policy in china before 1970? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Spatel4patel (talkcontribs) 14:26, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

If by "China" you mean the People's Republic of China, then we have an article on it: Economy of the People's Republic of China. We also have an article Economic reform in the People's Republic of China that explains how they're different now than they were before the 1970s. If you mean some China other than the PRC, then check the disambiguation page Economy of China. Buddy431 (talk) 14:41, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I think it's a safe bet that anyone asking about Taiwan will call it Taiwan (or maybe Formosa). An exception would be people from China, and they aren't likely to post such a Q here, as they already would know the answer. StuRat (talk) 15:50, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
What would people from China call it? Or do you mean people from Taiwan, who might call it "Republic of China"? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 13:30, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
People from China probably call it "that treasonous breakaway province of ours". StuRat (talk) 20:03, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
As far as I know, people from China call Taiwan 'Taiwan', believe it or not - simply because that's the name of the place. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 20:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That's strictly true only for the geographic entity, which is probably sufficient for most people. The name of the state that governs that geographic entity is Republic of China, but it gets called other things too, such as Chinese Taipei. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:59, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Exactly. I'm saying that the place is called Taiwan, and all of the Mainland Chinese people I know (whether they agree with the place being a separate political entity or not) call it Taiwan. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 17:17, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
But people often go too far, and refer to "the Taiwanese Government" or "the President of Taiwan". There ain't no such things. There is a Taiwanese government (with the name Government of the Republic of China), and there is a Taiwanese president (whose title is the President of the Republic of China). -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:39, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Sneaker type shoes with "either" composite, or "steel-toes......[edit]

I work and stand on my feet 8-12 hours a day. We are required by OSHA to have toe protection on our shoes. In the past, and even now, steel-toed shoes were the most common option for toe protection from heavy objects.

Some shoe manufacturers now advertise "composite" toe protection. I understand that there are astm standards for shoes that meet OSHAs' reqirements.

My questions are: A. What are ASTM requirements? B. How do they compare composite to steel-toed shoes? C. What composite toe shoes meet ASTM standards. D. What shoes manufacturers offer composite toes shoes that meet standards; and do they provide that information to potential buyers?

Thank you R.K.Click (email address redacted) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:04, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Please don't use all caps. StuRat (talk) 17:37, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Is it legit to reduce the volume level of the above post by transmuting to lc?--BandUser (talk) 00:12, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes it is, and I have done just that. Astronaut (talk) 11:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I've removed your email to prevent people from spamming you. Hopefully someone will be by to give you a more complete answer, but I can provide you with something regarding question 3. The key thing to most safety footwear (in terms of OSHA regs) is to simply see the rating for the shoe/boot. For example, in Canada, footwear is given a rating by the CSA and this rating system works the same for composite and steel. In my particular workplace, I'm required to wear "green tag" CSA-approved footwear; what material that footwear is made of makes no difference - just the rating. To answer your 4th question, I would say that virtually all safety footwear manufacturers will have lines of composite safety enhancements. Even the old-style steel "shank" that used to be required for construction and many other high-risk activities has largely been replaced with a rather neat composite layer which bends like rubber but blocks punctures better than steel. I would contact a nearby safety footwear store and ask them to send a rep over to talk to you or your company. In my experience those guys necessarily have a great understanding of local regs and can walk you through any odd corners. Matt Deres (talk) 17:23, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Spending a day in Kraków...[edit]

I have done some queries on the Deutsche Bahn website on how to get from Kraków to Spittal an der Drau, and found a perfectly suitable train: it leaves Kraków at 10 PM, and arrives in Vienna at 6 AM the next day. Then I have to change trains once again in Villach, and I'll arrive at Spittal an der Drau before noon.

The problem here is that I have to check out from my hotel ten hours before the train leaves. What am I supposed to do in that time? I will be carrying the bulk of my luggage in a big backpack, with only my essential documents and my camera in lighter packages. Can I leave the backpack at Kraków railway station in some sort of storage locker for ten hours and then come pick it up later? JIP | Talk 18:04, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

There are storage lockers as well as a reliable luggage storage service. I don't know how much they cost, but surely not a lot. I think there is some kind of a tourist information facility at or near the station to provide you with a map, and if not, there is a fixed map nearby to guide you to the Old Town, Wawel and Kazimierz for a walk. If you need any more help or info regarding Kraków you may contact me directly via my talk page. Cheers! --Ouro (blah blah) 18:38, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I spent a couple of days in Kraków in September 2009. I found the Jewish history in the Kazimierz district interesting and had a wander around the Old Town with the Market Square at its centre (the Sukiennice was closed for renovation, though it might have since reopened). There is also an extensive tram & bus system if you want to see something a little too far away to walk. In the evening, I had no trouble finding places to eat and there are plenty of bars. I particularly enjoyed the candle-lit bar/restaurant "Dawno Temu na Kazimierzu" at Szeroka 1 in Kazimierz. Astronaut (talk) 19:03, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Kraków is a beautiful city well worth spending time visiting. If you have time, you might try to spend an additional day or two there. There are lots of interesting sights and some nice places to eat and drink. Marco polo (talk) 19:32, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Before you carry you backpack to the train station, you may wanna ask at the hotel, if they have a storage room or lockers where you can leave your bags even after you check out. If they do, it may be even safer and perhaps also free of charge. — Kpalion(talk) 21:06, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes to the above, your hotel should be willing to keep your bags after checkout. I'm a Pole living in Australia most of my life. I have been to Krakow twice in the last 8 years, on each occasion with different Australian travelling companions. The Highlight of both trips, still most fondly recalled by my companions was a trip out to Wieliczka Salt Mine. Krakow and wawel are really fantastic examples of a medieval town, but the salt mine is quite unlike anything you are ever likely to see anywhere else in the world. I highly recommend it. By far the easiest way to see it is to find a local in Krakow to drive you out, from memory a couple of years ago I paid someone AU$60 to take us there and bring us back after the tour, which only takes a couple of hours. From memory the drive was about 30 minutes. So it won't take up the whole day, you can still go back to town and see some more stuff.. There are busses which are a lot cheaper, but trying to figure out which bus to take and where to get off and where to go wasn't very easy. So if you have the money it's really worth findng someone with a car, we had no trouble, there was several people hanging around the station offering their services.. Obviously just take basic precautions like ask to see ID and don't give the whole fee in advance and don't leave stuff in their car, but in general i think it's pretty safe. If you really don't want to get out of town, I recommend going to see the Wawel Cathedral and St._Leonard's_Crypt which are quite awesome. There is also a fantastic medieval armoury exhibit there if you are into that kind of thing. Vespine (talk) 23:01, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Not wanting to contradict Vespine, at the same time agreeing that a trip to the salt mine in Wieliczka is definitely worth it - but it will take longer than a couple of hours. It's best to plan an entire day or at least for it and not hurry through. Wieliczka lies 20-30 miuntes outside of Kraków and there are literally kilometres of walkable corridors underground there. Plus, take time to stop for photos and listen to the guide, take in the atmosphere and lick the walls ;) --Ouro (blah blah) 06:59, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I want to have my own bussines but i don't have much money, which is easier and cheaper?[edit]

i want to build something commercial, right now i don't have much money because i'm a foreign exchange student(Mexico) and i don't have much technical skills and i dont want to pay someone to build a website for me because it cost too i want to build something easy and simple because of my lack of technical skills so which is easier and cheaper to build: a comercial website,a social network,a comercial forum or a comercial blog. I'am not working right now so i have free time.thank you —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:17, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

The very same question was asked a few days ago. Do you need additional advice beyond the answers supplied then? Astronaut (talk) 19:49, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:53, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Then you are going to have to ask a specific question. We already answered your earlier paragraph. What exactly do you need more help with? Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:30, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
In the current business climate, to make easy money you need either to be a genius or to be lucky enough to hit on the right idea that hasn't already been exploited. If I could advise you on this, I would already be making my fortune! If you have no technical skills in website design then you should probably look elsewhere for a good use of your spare time. Very few people make money easily. Dbfirs 21:34, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
No pain, no gain. If you don't have skills - or the money to pay people who have skills - then your only chance is to learn some skills. The Internet is simply jam packed full of places that'll teach you skills - check out our very own Wikiversity, for example. You mentioned building a web site - OK well, if you have an hour to spare, here is my one hour guide to learning enough HTML to make yourself a web site. Nothing too fancy - but it's very good start. The problem here is that you need to start...just hoping someone will tell you how to make money is crazy. But it's perfectly possible to make a boatload of money from a good idea - the trouble is, you have to have the idea! But with even the simplest of web skills - and a clever idea - you can make a lot of money. For example:
  • The guy who had the idea to make a 1000x1000 pixel image and put it on his web page - and to sell advertising for $1 per pixel. It's at and we have an article about it: The Million Dollar Homepage...the idea "went viral" and he sold all million pixels (and therefore made a cool million dollars) in a matter of weeks! Of course there were copy-cat pages everywhere within no time - and you can find them everywhere - but none of them are making serious money from it because the market is tapped out - it was a one-time idea.
  • One red paperclip - the owner of the site needed someplace to live - and he had a clever idea. He started with a red paperclip and offered to trade it with someone for something else (a fish-shaped pen as it happens)...which he offered to trade for something else (a designer door knob!) which he traded for a camp stove...which he swapped for a generator, an "instant party", a snowmobile a trip to Yahk, British Columbia, a van, a recording contract, a year's rent, an afternoon with Alice Cooper, a KISS motorized snow globe, a role in a film...and finally a two-story farmhouse! So for very little work and a clever idea, he got a free house! Again, there have been a million copycats - none of them got beyond the "junk office equipment" stage.
But those ideas have been taken - you can't make them work a second time. So, if you could come up with a really clever idea - you possibly earn a million dollars or get a free house...but the snag is that we can't guess what that idea might be - that's something you have to dream up for yourself. SteveBaker (talk) 01:15, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Merchant Marine Engineering Officers[edit]

In 1896 the US Congress passed a bill making Licensed Engineers Officers of equal rank and status with the Deck Officers. What was the name and number of this bill, and which section of the United States Code is this in? This bill included the Navy also. —Preceding unsigned comment added by SherwoodNM (talkcontribs) 22:41, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Haven't found the bill yet, but the US code is Title 46, Part 10 Zoonoses (talk) 12:57, 15 April 2010 (UTC)