It's still Tuesday 6th January, when I work way my down my inbox and open up an email from contributor (175).
It would - I think - be fair to say, that he is the contributor that has been the one that has made me sit up at my computer when I've been reading my eMails and say "Oh My God!" out aloud, and thus has so far become the most memorable.
It actually started a few days ago, when he first sends me an email, and I immediately notice that his email address end with .mil in the domain name. ".mil" ? I think to myself - what on earth is that?
I soon find out - it's a US military address! I discover that he's a soldier in the US Army, and he found my page after reading about it on iPodlounge.com, and from that he sent me an email! And the best bit?
He's currently in Baghdad, Iraq, serving on duty as part of the forces that are there at the moment.
At first I think it might be a wind up, so I check the email headers, and I think it's legit, but I wouldn't put it past some of my friends to send me a fake email for a joke.
But he's real! And the very next day he replies, sending me a picture of himself standing in front of the Hands of Victory monument in Baghdad, which is pretty good proof I reckon!
He says that iPodlounge is one his favourite sites, he checks whenever he can (god know what sort of internet access they have out there, but there is obviously one that he uses!) and found there he found my site and my quest for 50p's.
Unfortunately, he explain, the US military firewall prevents him from accessing PayPal, so can he send me a US dollar instead?
I mail him back, and and we swap eMails again for a couple of days, and we generally get chatting. He tells what it's like being out there, and says that with his next message he'll send a picture of him somewhere with his iPod (oh yes, he's an iPod owner and he has it with him!) and him holding a US dollar bill, and an Iraqi Dinar note.
The next day, I get two emails from him - One is a PayPal payment from him - he's managed to find access to it after all, and the next has some photos attached to it which completely blow me away.
Here here is, with his iPod and the notes as promised - but he's by the hole in ground where Saddam Hussein was captured last month! And it's for real! And another one with his iPod in the hole itself!
He says: " ... shows me crouching by the hole where Saddam was captured. I'm holding my 3rd generation 30GB iPod with a 100 Dinar bill and a US dollar. 'The hole', as we call it, is at a farm outside the town of Ad Dawr, which is near Tikrit."
He goes on to say - "I've certainly enjoyed this project of yours. We don't have too many fun things to do here in combat so this turned out to be a nice distraction from a normal day.
After doing this for 10 months anything new is a welcome distraction. Now that I have a new digital camera I may take a few more iPod photos of scenic Iraq. If I take any really good ones, I'll email them to you".
And finally - "I would be honored to have one of the photos, posted on your website."
What can I say? Well, after some though, how about this - I'm honoured that you took the time to find my site, email me, take photos (by 'the hole' !) and send them to me.
Also, leaving aside the issues completely about the liberation/invasion of Iraq (call it what you like) - as obviously this is not the place to have a discussion about that, I find it quite humbling that I sit here in my cosy warm room at my PC, just asking completely strangers for money, and there you are - thousands of miles from home in a hostile environment doing a job which I know I could never do, taking the time to email me and contribute. And for that, thank you!
Tony Chung (176) from Ipswich here in the UK PayPal'd me 50p, and included a photo of himself (right). Thanks Tony!
His nominated tune is Christina Aguilera with "The Voice Within", which I think I do already own somewhere as an extra track on a CD single that I've got of hers...
Then I find that contributor Leanne (#81) has sent me another 50p via PayPal on behalf of one of her work colleagues - Antony Ranger (177) who emails me the next day, nominating "Beginning of the world" by his brothers band Tourist. Cheers Antony - you've also just helped bump up New Zealand in the country statistics as well!
Word just in as well has it that Antony (or 'Ants' as he's known) is single, and is on the lookout for a lovely English lass who enjoys the outdoor life - skiing, mountain biking, oh and salsa dancing as well. Any offers ladies? Look at that lovely smiling face! How could you turn him down? I have his email address if you want to get in touch... (I don't charge commission for my dating services)
On Wednesday 7th January, I get to work and find an envelope containing two 50 pences, one from Paul Evans (178) and one from his colleague Nelson Wootan (179). Paul is the Business Development Manager and Nelson is the Managing Director for PopTel Technology a web solution company who are based in London. Thank you guys! - it's much appreciated.
When I get home there are NO new emails waiting for me! :-(
But I do realise that I've overlooked one from yesterday! Apologies to you James Cridland (180) for not putting you up here sooner. What can I say? I've had a lot of emails this week! And he's very kindly sent me 50p. He's also an iPod owner himself and says that his has been uniquely engraved by his cat.
He doesn't nominate a tune, but I'm more than happy to plug the fact that he works on the website for UK station Virgin Radio here - which just happens to my regular station of choice. You can hear it over the internet too - why not give it a try?
I get another email from contributor George (#172), who is now attempting to help my cause some more, by posting this discussion forum on the Apple website - thanks George!
It's Thursday 8th January, and I come into work and get an email from my colleague Steve Pacheco, who's sending me 50p in the internal mail, "Providing I put an R'n'B song of his choice on it". Haven't got a problem with that Steve! But it hasn't turned up yet, so I can't officially count it.
Two that I can count though are the ones that turn up into todays mail. Contributor Shaun (#3) in my office has turned into the postman it would seem as I always forget to check the in-tray on my way in, and so all this week he's the the one that's been collecting mail for me and putting it on my desk.
So there's one from Alan Barnard (181), and he wants me to do a plug for Enfield Town Football Club whom he supports, although he's also a fan of my club Tottenham as well! (For non UK people, I should point out that it's quite common for people to support two teams! One a 'big name' Premier League club, and another small local side who probably appreciate your support more than the 'big' team does!) So no problem, and thanks for your 50p Alan which I note is a rare 2003 dated one!
The other letter in the mail is one I'm expecting from John Scott (182) from Ilford, Essex who nominates "Requiem" by Morrighan, which is available at their website www.morrighan.com His 50p is also an extremely rare year 2000 one, thanks you mate!
It is at this stage of the day that I need to give a mention to guy at work in the office next door to me. Step forward Kwadwo Afirifah-Mensah (aka "Kwady"), who since learning of this 'quest' of mine has taken great interest.
He pops by each day to see me, asks how it's going and says things such as "I can't believe people are just giving you money!", etc.. and then we end up have a playful conversation which usually goes along the lines of:
Me: "So... will you give me 50p then?"
Kwady: "No way man! Do you think i'm stupid?". (Well...)
Me: "But you're obviously interested and entertained by it all, Isn't that worth 50p"
Kwady: "Oh I'm interested, but I'm still not going to give you any money"
But - today, I make progress (of sorts). He says that if I get to 500 people and £250, then he'll buy me a pint of beer (Appx. cost - £2.00) to help me celebrate. Cool! So now the target of five hundred people will bring me an iPod and a pint of beer! Cheers Kwady.
The other bonus out of this, is that overhearing the conversation that I have with him today is another work colleague - Colin Cochrane (183) who after having the whole tale explained to him decides to contribute - although he also hands me some work (the piece of paper in the photo) to do at the same time. Thanks Colin!
That night on my email at home, I have no new contributors :-( , but contributor #62 Paul Durrant has sent me a link to the Royal Mint website which has statistics on the number of 50p's that were made in each year. So in my statistics page, I should eventually get some ones dated in the year 2000.
Special mention before I sign off for the night has to go to George Pilkington (Contributor #172) who's now emailed me lots of times, and he seems to be getting almost more excited about this 'quest' than I am!
He tells me that he's sending me some extra dosh .. this time the contributors being his wife and children, and one of his pets by the sound of it! I'll know next week when it turns up.
Oh, and he's also sneakily put another posting on the official Apple Forums (the last one got taken down) at: discussions.info.apple.com Thank you again George!
Friday 9th of January, brings two more 50p's in the mail at work. Firstly is one I've been expecting for a couple of days from John Bravin (184) who's out in Brussels, Belgium and yet he somehow had an English fifty pence coin with him which he kindly posted.
I've had to dig out his email from a week ago, to find the list of song nominations that he gave me .. that's right - plural! He says I can choose from:
Lottery winners on acid - Crimea (sweet lyrics!)
Iggy liggy lo - Rusty & Doug (a great 3 minute bluegrass song)
Juanita - Emmylou Harris & Sheryl Crow (sad suicide song, but the vocals are to die for)
Heaven - Psychedelic Furs (for the guitar solo)
Hmm, after careful consideration (e.g. shutting my eyes and stabbing at my monitor at his list with my finger) I'm going for Juanita, as I do like my sad songs...
Second is one that actually comes in the internal post from colleague Steve Pacheco (185) who nominates the Whitney Houston song "It's not right, but it's ok", which is quite funny because Steve knows how much I hate this tune. He's also an iPod owner too.
It'd be fair to say that I'm not a R'n'B fan at all - Pop, Rock, Indie, Dance - fine .. but soul music and R'n'B just doesn't do it for me. But I'm having to uphold my word, and I will have to get a copy of the tune and put it on the iPod. Thanks Steve! You b*stard.
Then one of my fellow tube geeks Jono - Jonathan Bennett (186) finally gets in on the act (cheers mate!) and send me 50p direct to my bank account.
Oh and he wants to nominate the tune "Caffeine" by Faith No More. (He later complains like a big girl upon reading this page that I've called him a tube geek, so - sorry Jono. I meant to say "One of my nearest and dearest loving friends whom I have known for almost 15 years" - is that better? :-))
And it's Jono who, working for ZDnet that must of told one of their columinsts - Rupert Goodwins (left) about what I'm up to, as I'm suddenly alerted to the fact that I am officially a geek! It's official! Rupert has included me in his weekly round up that he writes ... have a look for yourself and that brings Friday to a close.
Hello. It's the weekend, Sunday evening and I've just realised that I haven't updated this at all over the weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th January). Well, all I can tell you is that I've got more emails from people promising 50p's in the post (but I'll believe them when they turn up), and also on Saturday I actually turned down the chance to receive £2 worth of 50p's, because they would have come 'via' people, and instead I said 'no' because I'm going to make the effort to go and meet up with those people concerned in person this week and collect the money directly from them and get a photo at the same time.
So more will come this week, and in fact by the end of next weekend I'm predicting that I'll be at the 200 contributor (40%) and the £100 mark! Check back and see...
And welcome to the start of a new week. It's cold. It's raining. The south of the UK where I live has a 'severe weather warning' with winds strong enough 'to do structural damage'. So if you come visiting to my website in a few weeks time and find a "Please contribute £1 to buy Geoff a new house fund", then you'll know why.
Anyway, it's Monday 12th January and iPod-money-collecting wise, things take an immediate turn for the good when I get to work and find that George Pilkington (#172) has been good to his word and has sent me five more 50's worth in a form of a £2.50 cheque "Five P's (that's Pilkington!) in a pod!" he says - one for each member of his family.
His wife Kate (187), his three children Adele (188), Rachel (189), and Carmel (190), and one from his pet, Walter the Worm (191) which lives in the Waste Buster. Waste Buster? I hear you ask, Ah yes .. I find out what George gets up to when he's not busy sending me money - he develops Waste Busters for the Recycle Works Limited company. Thanks you to all the Pilkington's though (especially Walter!) for your contributions.
At home in my inbox I have one PayPal'd contribution from Alex Dekker (192) in Newcastle here in the UK. He says "No idea if you deserve this 50p or not!", but he gives anyway. He nominates the tune "Don't stop" by Kings of Abyss, and points me in the direction of his website for me to grab a photo.
"Pick one where I look wasted, as that would be the most truthful representation of me" he says. I like your honesty Alex! I hope I have chosen well, and thank you for your 50p.
And welcome to Tuesday the 13th January where I must have a massive rant about my local piss-poor train company South West Trains (because it took me over two hours to get into work this morning, when it should have been nearer 50 minutes). I've been a commuter on their services from various stations (Guildford, Worcester Park, Surbiton and Epsom) into London Waterloo for over 11 years now, and I can state without a doubt that their service now is worse than it has ever been during all of that time.
Still, whilst I sat on a train going nowhere this morning, I fantasised about a day in the future where they might install wireless networking as standard inside their trains, so at least in those moments whilst your stuck due the weekly signal failure you might be able to at least browse the 'net, check your email, or like I wanted to - update my 50 pence website.
When I eventually get to work though, it heralds another 50 pence piece in the post. Hello and thank you for Wendy Blundell (193) who has sent me a lovely note nominating the Ben Folds Five, "Philosophy" as it's a favourite track of hers. Also, I note that (I presume deliberately) the 50p piece that she's sent me is a special edition 'Public Libraries' one, dated from 2000, and celebrates 150 years (1850 to 2000) of public libraries in the UK. Thanks Wendy! I'll add that as a picture to my statistics page when I get to two-hundred contributors. (Only seven to go..)
I've had book ideas before, and have actually written many pages, but the biggest hurdle I've found is getting a book agent to take on your idea who'll then talk to publishers... so if anyone knows of a friendly book agent...
I must also give mention to an ex-colleague of my office here Kerrie, who I only found out the other day runs her own various websites, and she's given me a plug on hers. Plus she's promised that she, her husband, and her three year old daughter have all posted 50p's to me in the post .. !
But before that, my emails at home reveal that someone that visited Kerrie's site, Stacy Latocha (194) and her husband Marc (195) from New York have kindly contributed 50 pence each via PayPal. Thanks guys! They also contribute a song each - Tomber la Chemise by Zebda, and Cherry Pie by Warrant. Ok! I grabbed a photo off of their website - hope this one is ok!
And before I sign off for the night, there is another one of those mystery emails that you get on PayPal, where is says "Please do not reply to this email" - which means I can only thank Joshua Kahn (196) by writing about it here, and can't ask him for a song nomination or where in the world he lives... but thank you.
Ah! Later though he does mail me back, he's in Tübingen in Germany, picks Blur's "Universal" as his song, and it turns out that he too is an iPod owner. Thanks Josh!
I get nothing in the post when I get to work on Wednesday 14th January, which is a shame because I was expecting some. They'll turn up. Have a little faith, Geoff.
I do though however get one solitary contribution in my email via paypal when I get home that night - so hello and thank you to Alford Wallace (197) who is in Springfield, Missouri - nice one! He doesn't nominate a tune initially, so I mail him back and he choses "You raise me up" by Josh Grobanhough, thanks again Alford.
So hello, and thank you Hywel Williams (198) who (like me) also knows a thing or two about the tube, and has an excellent website here full of 'lost' stations and other happenings underground that you probably didn't even know about.
Amusingly, he sent it in the internal post system, taped down to an old Sky Digital viewing card. "I decided it was a bit risky simply sticking 50p in the mail by itself, so I've disguised it by sticking the coin to a completely useful piece of plastic that I no longer require :-)".
Not a a fan of Sky then Hywel? :-)
So I go home at the end of the day, getting the train like I normally do, and as I walk out of the station I see some people that I recognise also walking out - they must have been on the same train as me!
Firstly there's contributor Phil (#104) and his sisters husband Adrian (#76), and Phils dad, John.
I chat to them, and it turns out that they've been up in town for the day, but are now meeting their respective ladies and Phil's sister at the chinese restaurant just across the road from the station.
And there they are! Adrian's wife Sarah (#77) has spotted us, and before I know it I'm being dragged into the restaurant despite my protestations, to meet a chorus of "Can we give you 50p's please Geoff!" and I'm saying "You don't have to! Don't feel like your obliged.. I can't stop anyway, I've got to get home... I can't just take your money and run can I?".
To which their mum says "We don't mind Geoff, it's you...", and before I know it they've made me (!?) get my camera out of my bag, and Adrian's starts taking photos as I get three 50p's - one off of their dad John Newson (199), one off of Phil and Sarahs sister Wendy Newson (200), and one off of their mum Eileen Newson (201) who's more than willing to contribute it would seem.
And that's it! I leave them to enjoy their meal, I thank them profusely, and then walk home in the rain.
And it's only on the way walking back does it suddenly occur to me that that's just taken me past the 200 contributor point.
I'm at 40% complete, and I'm into three figures on the money total - over £100! Hurrah!
And the best bit is that now I'm at 200 people I get to update (as promised) the statistics page! So Wendy, and to your parents, and the whole Newson clan, thank you all very much!
50 pence : iN Da Pod
The contributors are listed here in groups of 25 to make the pages easier to manage and read through. Click on aby button to jump to that group.
Statistics - We collected a whole bunhc of stats and figures abuot the 50p's collected, here they all are ...
iN Da Pod : The Movie - A video we made about the whole thing
50 pence (iN Da Pod) - Hear Geoff 'rap' in this rather silly 50 cent cover/spoof we made
Gold Coin Contributors - Some people went out of their way to help me get more 50's than just their own
The Tunes Chosen - My favourite music out of all the tunes chosen by the contributors
The iParty - After it was complete, I held an iParty an invited as many contributors along as possible.
The iColour Competion - At the iParty, we had the fun iColour competition - getting people to design their own iPods
What I did with the 50p's - As when I bought the iPod I actually used my debit card