Saturday, December 31

December 31, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN

One of the last places on earth to welcome in 2017 will be Baker Island, an uninhabited atoll in the Pacific about 2,000 miles from Honolulu. Now a U.S. national wildlife refuge, Baker Island was once the property of the American Guano Company, which mined it for guano (better known as seabird poop) that was used for fertilizer. It’s still a home for seabirds, reptiles and the occasional scientific research team, and because it’s so close to the International Date Line on the Western Hemisphere side, Baker Island will mark the start of 2017 just about 24 hours after Tarawa, Kiribati, one of the first places on earth to see in the new year.

The NCAA Hobey Baker Memorial Award is presented to the year’s outstanding male player in which collegiate sport?
A) Basketball
B) Ice hockey
C) Volleyball
D) Water polo

Previous answer: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” is the opening line of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four.”

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Thursday, December 29

December 29, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN

The world’s oldest national park is Bogd Khan Uul Strictly Protected Area in Mongolia, which became a protected area in 1778 — about 100 years before Yellowstone National Park. It was a nature preserve as long ago as the 16th century, possibly even the 12th century. Situated south of Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar, the park encompasses the sacred Bogd Khan mountain, a former monastery from the 18th century and the Khurel Togoot Astronomical Observatory.

Which country is landlocked between Spain and France?
A) Andorra
B) Liechtenstein
C) Swaziland
D) Switzerland

Previous answer: Yellowcake is produced during the processing of uranium ore.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

House Rules for Cleaning Silver in the Dishwasher

December 29, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

 

I grew up being fearful of the oddest things. I wasn’t bold enough to question why; I just did as I was told. Here’s one: Never, ever put good dishes or silver flatware in the dishwasher. Ever! I didn’t know what would happen if I did, but you can be sure that my fear of the unknown made certain I didn’t come close to finding out. That is, until my rebellious years.
Once I had my own china and silver, I figured I wouldn’t go to jail if I violated this particular “thou shall not!” I was reminded of what I’ve learned about putting silver in the dishwasher recently when the following question showed up in my inbox.
Dear Mary: I have a set of silver flatware that I use daily. I notice that after a few times through a normal dishwashing cycle the pieces become very tarnished. It is not a particularly good set; it’s just a set for daily use. Do you think the dishwashing detergent is the problem? — Anne
Dear Anne: Your silver plate or sterling silver pieces can go in the dishwasher and come out beautiful as long as you follow a few specific guidelines. Case in point: I have a small pie server, and it is one of my favorite things. I love it for its size and the way it feels in my hand. I use it daily, and it goes in the dishwasher every evening (by itself in its own little compartment so it isn’t touching any other type of metal). Since I inherited it many years ago I have done nothing to it but use it, clean it and enjoy it.
As for your flatware, I’m going to guess that what you see is not tarnish but rather a reaction that occurs when silver comes in contact with other types of metal during the dishwashing process (rule number three below).
First, it’s important to know that when it comes to silver, cleaning and polishing are not the same thing. Polishing should be a very occasional activity, while cleaning is something you do after every meal. The dishwasher is an excellent way to take care of cleaning.
Tarnish is the result of sulfur in the air reacting with silver. If you have silver pieces that are very tarnished, you need to give them a good polish (Simichrome Metal Polish and Hagerty Silversmiths’ Spray Polish are both highly regarded for fine silver care). Once polished, frequent use is the best way to prevent tarnish buildup.
Here are good house rules for how to clean silver in the dishwasher (care of silver plate is the same as care for sterling).
RULE 1. Only solid flatware and pieces in the dishwasher. That means no pearl handles, items with glue joints or weighted/reinforced items.
RULE 2. Rinse off immediately after use. Don’t let food sit on silver, as it may cause corrosion or pitting.
RULE 3. Don’t let the silver pieces touch any other type of metal, including stainless, which will leave marks that are very difficult to remove. (It will require a good silver polish like those mentioned above and a lot of elbow grease.) You can put silver in the same dishwasher load as stainless, just in a different flatware compartment. Never allow the two materials to come into direct contact.
RULE 4. When washing silver in the dishwasher, stick with a normal or delicate cycle, not heavy-duty scrubber or high-temp sanitizing options.
RULE 5. Do not use dishwasher detergent that contains lemon, citrus or phosphates.
Now that the silver is clean, use it and enjoy it!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 28

December 28, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN

The fluted ring-shaped Bundt cake pan was introduced in 1950 by the Nordic Ware cookware company of Minnesota in response to a request from the local chapter of the women’s philanthropic group Hadassah. The ladies wanted an updated version of the baking pan traditionally used for the tall, yeasty, ring-shaped cake called kugelhopf — or gugelhopf or kugelhupf — which originated in Germany — or Austria or Alsace. (Spelling and origin are up for debate.) Sales really took off when a Bundt cake recipe took second place in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off. Bundt cake has been a winner ever since.

Yellowcake is an oxide produced during the processing of what type of ore?
A) Gold
B) Iron
C) Tungsten
D) Uranium

Previous answer: Pepsin produced by the stomach helps digest protein.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

How a Simple Solution Changed Everything for One Family

December 28, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

There are two main types of illness: acute and chronic. An acute illness doesn’t last very long. It goes away either on its own or in response to treatment, such as taking medicine or having surgery. A chronic illness or condition is ongoing. It affects your health over a long period of time, possibly your entire life. That’s the kind of situation EC reader Gina’s family was dealing with. Then lo and behold…

Dear Mary: My husband and both of my children have chronic skin problems. One doctor diagnosed them with eczema, but curiously nothing, including prescription medications, has brought lasting relief. We have spent a small fortune going from one dermatologist to another and buying all of lotions, potions and other medications prescribed. Not once did any of these professionals suggest they might be allergic to laundry softeners. When I read your column “Laundry Softeners are the Problem, Not the Solution,” a lightbulb went on.
I’m a serial softener user. For years, I’ve used liquid softener and dryer sheets. How could I have not thought about this? It made a lot of sense that they could be allergic to this stuff. I wasted no time getting the wool dryer balls you recommend on your website. I gave up softener products cold turkey and began using the dryer balls instead. I was like a crazy woman washing and rewashing clothes and bedding. I got 3 gallons of white vinegar to make sure I had enough to add to every rinse cycle.
Within two weeks we began to see a change. The horrible skin issues began to calm down. After the third week the change was amazing. As I write, I would say my kids and husband are finally free of this awful situation. As embarrassed as I am that I never considered this might be the problem, I am more grateful and happier than you can imagine. Thank you so much for all you do to improve our lives. That column changed our lives, and we are forever grateful. — Gina
Dear Gina: What a wonderful story. I am so thankful we connected and that you’ve hit on the solution to the problem! I love my wool dryer balls because they really work to soften without any chemicals, scents, perfumes or other stuff we used to think we couldn’t live without. And just think how much money you won’t be spending on softener products! And all those lotions, potions and other medications, too.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 27

December 27, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN

The Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” begins on the second morning after Christmas and contains an uncharacteristic error on the part of author Arthur Conan Doyle. A goose’s crop figures into the mystery — the crop being an internal sac that’s part of a bird’s digestive system. Many birds have crops: pigeons, quail, vultures, chickens and turkeys among them. Unfortunately for this story, domestic geese do not.

Which digestive enzyme produced in the stomach helps digest protein?
A) Bile
B) Chyme
C) Pepsin
D) Ptyalin

Previous answer: John L. Sullivan is considered the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight boxing champs.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

How I Book Cheap Travel

December 27, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

I’m on my way out the door, headed for California. What could have been a very expensive trip is going to be so cheap that even I am amazed.
This is a last-minute trip, so I did not have the benefit of booking well in advance. In fact, I only had five days advanced notice of this trip.
FLIGHT: My first choice in air travel is now Southwest. I try to keep all of my flights with the same airline to build up frequent flier miles. That usually works pretty well. I’ve found that it is a very competitive airline in most cases. The cheapest round-trip fare for flights that fit my schedule cost a whopping $742. Gulp! Granted, I knew I wasn’t booking 21 days in advance, but still. So, I started the search over. I was pretty sure I’d made a mistake. But no, it really was the best price. I put the reservation on hold to give me time to shop around. Most airlines will do this for 24 hours.
I went straight to the Kayak website (which searches thousands of flights of different airlines and gives results, lowest price first) and input the same itinerary. Within 30 seconds it had pulled up many options for the same date, time and destination. The cheapest: $146 round-trip including all fees and tax on Frontier Airlines. Realizing I was about to spend $596 less than the other itinerary, I booked it immediately but not through Kayak. I went on the Frontier Airlines site and booked direct using my account so I got the rewards.
I never book through Kayak or other similar sites because if I need to make any changes or something goes wrong with the flights, dealing with a third-party travel site to rebook can be a nightmare. I use Kayak as an information site. Knowing that the Southwest ticket on hold will simply expire if I do nothing, I go ahead and do nothing.
HOTEL: I don’t even go to specific hotel sites anymore. I rely solely on Priceline (and choose the name-your-own-price option, not the Priceline discounted hotel rooms). I find this to be so easy to use. I input my city of choice, and the site returns a map with regions of that metropolitan area. First I select the region where I want to be. Then I usually chose the three-star hotel (I know that Courtyard by Marriott, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Country Inns — my favorites — are all considered three stars in Priceline’s world, and that is my favorite kind of accommodation when I travel on business).
Next, I name a price. Here’s the tricky part: Priceline hints that I’d better input $70 per night or more if I have a prayer of my deal being accepted. Phooey! I know better. Fifty dollars is my target (knowing they will add tax and other fees on top of whatever price I name), so that’s the amount I bid. Of course, I got a pop-up message from William Shatner that I must be out of my mind with such a low offer and that I need to rethink and increase my bid. I laugh as I hit submit. Ten seconds later I get “Congratulations, your offer has been accepted!” That’s when they reveal which hotel I will be staying at. Bingo! My most favorite hotel for $59 per night, all inclusive.
CAR: My first stop in finding a rental car is the Hertz website, where I am a gold member (I have no idea why, but somehow years ago I qualified for this dubious privilege.) I want to get an idea of the going rate, so I input my itinerary, indicating I will need this car for just about 24 hours. I choke when I see the lowest option for an economy car will $82 inclusive for one day. Once I recover from the shock, I decide (as I always do, because this happens routinely) that if Priceline is good enough that I can name my own price for a hotel, it’s gotta be great for a car. And yes it is.
My boldness now surging, I go straight to Priceline rental car name-your-own-price option, which is a little tricky to find, and opt for a full-size model for — get this — $20 a day. Poor William. He’s very put out with my low bids. And do I care? No! All it takes for him to see things my way is about 10 seconds! Yep, I got the car, too. With fees it cost $29 for one day. When Priceline reveals which rental car company I’ll be dealing with, I am tickled pick to see I’m getting this steal of a deal from good ol’ Hertz!
BONUS: As I receive email confirmations for each part of my travel itinerary, I forward them to my TripIt account. It’s free, and is it ever slick. I simply add a new trip, and TripIt takes all the confirmations and builds my itinerary in chronological order, every detail included. The app makes sure I have every detail at my fingertips, including driving directions, estimated drive times, updates, etc.
They don’t call me the queen of cheap for nothing. If there’s one thing I know how to do (and love doing), it’s booking my own business travel. It gives me great practice for when I book personal travel. Because I make it a point to join every frequent flier/point program out there, no matter how little I pay for hotels, airfare and cars, I get lots of points and miles. And as a reward, Harold and I get fabulous vacations that are mostly paid for with all of the points and miles I rack up during the year.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Monday, December 26

December 26, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN

Thomas Edison tested his motion picture cameras by staging and filming boxing matches at his studio in West Orange, New Jersey. In June 1894, Mike Leonard and Jack Cushing went six rounds “full of hard fighting, clever hits… body blows and some slugging.” In September 1894, champ “Gentleman Jim” Corbett squared off against hopeful Peter Courtney. (Corbett claimed all rights to the film. When Edison sold and profited from it, Corbett sued him.) Other boxers that Edison filmed included Bessie and Minnie “the boxing Gordon Sisters” and the boxing cats of “Professor” Harry Welton’s Cat Circus.

Which legendary fighter is considered the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight boxing champions?
A) “Gentleman Jim” Corbett
B) John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry
C) Jack Johnson
D) John L. Sullivan

Previous answer: While deer antlers grow, they’re covered with a protective skin known as velvet.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Know Thy Dishwasher

December 26, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

I would like to thank Josephine Cochrane of Illinois. I’d like to, but I can’t. She’s been dead for more than a century. But if I could, I’d thank her for inventing the first commercially successful dishwasher. Personally, I’d give up just about anything but my dishwasher.
I’ll admit to being a stickler when it comes to properly washed dishes, glassware and utensils. If they come out spotted, gritty or cloudy, I’m not happy.
If your dishwasher is not turning out beautifully clean, cloudless, spotless, sparkling dishes, pots, glassware and flatware — without you hand-washing them first — don’t assume the dishwasher is broken. If it runs, you can make sure it runs well. And you can stop that prewashing
Years ago, before we remodeled and sold our home in California, I’d lived with a well-used low-end plain-wrap 18-year-old dishwasher. All was well until I began to notice that it wasn’t. Dishes came out feeling gritty, glasses were streaked and cloudy, and food remained stuck to flatware. Ugh. It was really bad. I assumed my Tappan had lived out its useful life and deserved to be put down.
At a total cost of nine bucks and a crash course in dishwasherology, I had good ol’ Tappan working like new in no time, and I didn’t resort to pre-rinsing. I still refuse to pre-rinse.
DE-GRUNGE. Just like a car, a dishwasher needs routine maintenance. From time to time you need to get rid of the lime scale, soap scum, iron and grease that builds up in your dishwasher — much of which is hidden in the hoses and other out-of-sight places. It needs a monthly acid bath. You can do this with unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid, Tang powdered drink mix or a product called Dishwasher Magic (about $6 for 12 ounces).
All of these products contain citric acid. Unlike the drink powders, Dishwasher Magic also kills 99.9 percent of germs and extends the life of your dishwasher while improving its cleaning performance. If you use the drink powders, fill both detergent cups with Tang, or pour one package of the lemonade powder into each of the cups. Run the empty dishwasher through a complete cycle. If you opt for Dishwasher Magic, follow the package directions. I credit Dishwasher Magic with giving my old, old dishwasher another six years of life.
WATER TEMPERATURE. To effectively clean dirty dishes, a dishwasher needs water heated to 140 degrees F*. And the water must enter the dishwasher that hot. If you raise your water heater temperature, beware of the potential for water hotter than that to scald in sinks, showers, bathtubs and your washing machine. (You can get scald-protection devices for sinks and tubs, like those used for children.) The single most important factor for getting good results is hot water. If your dishwasher is newer, it may have its own in-line water heater. Check your manual.
DETERGENT. It’s difficult to beat the line of Cascade powdered products, but Costco and Wal-Mart store brands come pretty darn close. Make sure you use fresh powdered automatic dishwasher detergent. It loses its ability to clean properly when exposed to humidity and air. Never store your detergent under the sink. And unless you are a heavy user, don’t opt for the largest box of detergent.
DO NOT RINSE. Scrape food to remove all the chunks, but don’t pre-rinse items for the dishwasher. Automatic dishwasher detergent is highly alkaline and needs the acidity of the food to reach optimum cleaning action. Besides, rinsing wastes time, energy and water.
RINSE AGENT. A rinse additive like Jet-Dry improves the sheeting action of water and leaves dishes sparkling clear, but it can be pricey. Hint: White vinegar is a reasonable substitute. Fill your rinse additive dispenser with straight white vinegar. Occasionally toss in a cup of white vinegar with the last rinse.
SAVE WATER. It takes 6 to 10 gallons of water to run your dishwasher, compared to the 9 to 24 gallons you would use doing dishes by hand. So give yourself a break, and let your dishwasher do the job Josephine intended it to do.
*Caution: Water hotter than 120 degrees F can scald children and elderly adults. If your dishwasher does not have its own heating device, take proper precautions by installing anti-scald devices. Or consider installing an in-line water heater for the dishwasher.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

 

 

Saturday, December 24

December 24, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN

Reindeer and caribou are the only members of the deer family in which both males and females grow antlers. The two animals are closely related, but they’re not identical and they’re classified as separate subspecies. While neither caribou nor reindeer have been known to fly (except in Christmas stories), they both happen to be excellent swimmers.

What name is given to the protective skin that covers deer antlers while they grow?
A) Chamois
B) Moss
C) Parchment
D) Velvet

Previous answer: The California Perfume Company (which was headquartered in New York) , was renamed Avon in 1939.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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