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Where/how did the "G" get to be the name for a thousand dollars? And how much is "a ton of money" worth at today's going rate?

-- Frank P., Loma Portal

Perfect question to start the new year, which around here has been dubbed the Year of the Buck. The elves went to see the 007 movie and came back all stoked about this product-tie-in thing. Just what we need to goose the cash flow around here. For the last two weeks, they've been out hustling sponsors to drop casually into our answers. Doin' pretty well so far. So how much is a ton of money worth? Well, here come the elves on a Diamondback Joker BMX bike with the Dia-Compe brakes. And they appear to be carrying an 18-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck storage tote. As they haul it inside, they wipe their ripple-sole Nike Air cross-trainers carefully on the Ever-Kleen sisal doormat. Hey, time for a break-- a case of Mountain Dew, a box of Low-fat Kibbles n Bits, and Gorton's Lemon-Butter Grilled Fish Fillets. Somebody pulls a pack of Camel straights out of the waist of his Spettro Energex Lycra Spandex shorts, and they all light up. Whoa...look at the digital readouts soar on their Polar Wireless Heart Monitors.

But back to work. Out of the tote, we take a Franklin Mint Limited-Edition Princess Di doll, a jar of Beano, a stack of ones, and a coffee can (Folgers) full of pennies. We count out 50 singles with the aid of an Acme Brand Rubber Finger. On our Pelouze Model Y-50 scale, they weigh half an ounce. Eight dollars in pennies weigh five pounds. Whipping out our Cassio calculator, we figure that a ton of pennies is worth $3200; a ton of ones is $3,200,00; a ton of 20s is $64,000,000.

"G" is short for "grand." Fifty Gs, 50 grand, same thing. "Grand" because a thousand is a large amount. Dates from the 1880s, used first by bettors on the ponies.

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