Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your computer as a coffee warmer

I just realized that the exhaust vent of my computer can help keep my coffee warmer. Seriously! The cup, which I have placed right next to the computer, is hotter on that side.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Fair

This is number 90 for the Tennessee Valley Fair currently running. It used to be called the TVA&I Fair, which stood for Tennessee Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair. A lot of people used to get TVA&I and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) mixed up. Additionally, the aspect of looking at agricultural and industrial advances sound passe, so I am sure that at some point it was easy to change the name.

Last week I attended the kick off and happened to sit with a table of long-time friends. We reminisced over our favorite rides and activities. For us kids,the fair was magical. Sure, there was other entertainment, such as Rebel Railroad (on the same location as Dollywood is now) and over in North Carolina there was Ghost Town and Tweetsie Railroad, but all of it was very low-key. There were no Splash Countriy or Six Flags to compete. Disneyworld had not been built, and nobody I knew had gone to California to Disneyland.

The competitions in the current fair are frozen in time, which is part of the charm. I didn't make it over to the Jacob building this year, but last year they had tobacco competition. hmmm. Maybe they should have switchgrass next year. Of course, they may already have.

This week I helped staff "Senior Day" sponsored by Mercy Health Partners. This gives us, social service and healthcare professionals, an up-close opportunity with a lot of East Tennessee elders. For those over 65, admission was free. While many agencies had informational booths such as we did, people came for the free entertainment--the one-armed juggler, "Barney Fife," a homegrown version of "The Price is Right," bingo, and; of course, some locals dishing up some familiar country tunes. Since this is a regional fair, many groups in vans came from counties as far as Monroe.

As I had been before, I remembered to pack my lunch. Unfortunately, 2/3 of the food offerings are fried. This is so different than when I grew up. Churches would have their own sites, with cooking tents and plenty of seating. One piece of family lore is that my aunt almost frostbit her finger trying to scoop ice cream as rapidly as was the demand. Once in a while my mother would feel ecumenical and we would buy a cookie from a Baptist.

Last week my sister wrote on her Facebook that she had attended the Minnesota State Fair, which reminded her of going every year to the fair here in Knoxville. I have a correction: We only went to the fair every other year. The alternate year we went to Holiday on Ice. Remember, mother was thrify!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good advice from our secretary of energy

I heard Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, on NPR's Morning Edition today. He had some very practical approaches to saving energy and resources, something different from what has now become mainstream as the green movement.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I signed up for U-Promise at least eight years ago. The main way that U-Promise makes its money is that it facilitates bonuses from purchases to be deposited into a 529 account for college.

I am not the best member of U-Promise, because I don't buy much stuff on-line. Instead of my account balance leaping ahead with major on-line purchases, it moves forward at the rate of a glacier (before global warming). Most of my credits are $.02/.04 here or there from one percent on my orange juice or window cleaner purchase. Once in a while it lurches ahead as one receives up to eight percent on some restaurant purchases, and there are a few registered that are downtown. I tried to sign up my daughter as a friend/contributor, but somehow that hasn't worked. (I am sure that it is a matter of tweaking it, but whoever remembers when she is in town?)

The main source of credit I deposit is through participating in an affiliate survey program, E-rewards. I make a whopping $2 on average for a survey. Those do add up.

Also, I am out of the college-funding business. If my two 20-somethings want to go back to school, it's on their dime.

So why do I participate? It's a passive participation. I'm already signed up, so when I just happen to make a purchase of a U-promise partner, I get credit.

BUT BUT BUT the best reason is that I don't really have to put the money into a 529 account. I can cash it out. Under the option "Redemption is easy," I follow the "get check for college expenses." These cash-outs are distributed quarterly. I am looking forward to a $75 check in the next cycle. REAL money!