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Impeachment inquiry hearings

By bizgrrl, Wed, 2019/11/13 - 11:03am

It begins.


Live on C-SPAN

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Snow!

By bizgrrl, Tue, 2019/11/12 - 7:34am

Our first snow is 3 weeks earlier than last year. Looks like about an inch. Will it be gone by noon?

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Automated answering services suck

By bizgrrl, Tue, 2019/11/12 - 6:43am

Voice prompted phone systems are driving me crazy. It's bad enough when you call a company that you have to go through the automated systems to get the help you need. But, now, instead of pressing a number for what services you need, the phone systems want you to speak your response. Not a number but a word or sentence. I'm pretty sure they don't have the nuances of different dialects. Thus you have to repeat yourself often to get the desired result.

Also, I love it when they start out saying the options have changed. Then they go into options for their address, directions, or website information. This takes up my time to actually get to the service person I need.

My call is very important to them? Really?

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Retrofit self-driving system into your car

By bizgrrl, Fri, 2019/11/08 - 6:41am

Ghost is developing a kit that will allow privately owned passenger vehicles to drive autonomously on highways. And the company says it will deliver in 2020. A price has not been set, but the company says it will be less than what Tesla charges for its Autopilot package that includes “full self-driving” or FSD. FSD currently costs $7,000.
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The kit will let human drivers hand control of their vehicle over to a computer, allowing them to do other activities such as look at their phone or even doze off.
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While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could potentially step in, Ghost’s approach, like Tesla, hits a sweet spot of non-regulation. It’s a space, that Hayes notes, where the government has not yet chosen to regulate.

What could possibly go wrong? Heh.

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Why is Marsha Blackburn so full of hate?

By bizgrrl, Fri, 2019/11/08 - 6:29am

mbsocial_20191108.jpg

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha... Do you hate us so much you have to lie and take away needed services?

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Social Security changes for 2020

By bizgrrl, Thu, 2019/11/07 - 9:20am

... the Social Security Administration also announced that the amount of income subject to SSA taxes will be increased to $137,700. This is a 3.6% increase from the $132,900 of income... in 2019."

The cost of living adjustment for Social Security will be 1.6% in 2020. This is 43% percent less than the cost-of-living increase of 2.8% that was received this year, 2019.

However, the cost of living adjustment has been even less in the near past.

Historical cost of living adjustments: 2.0 in 2017, 0.3 in 2016, 0.0 in 2015.

"The average retiree will receive a bump of $24 to their average monthly Social Security benefits."
...

... the trustees for Medicare projected the standard monthly premium in 2020 for Medicare Part B, which would increase by $8.80 per month from $135.50 to $144.30 per person. This alone would eat more than a third of the 2020 Social Security cost of living increase."

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Large fresh vegetable recall

By bizgrrl, Mon, 2019/11/04 - 1:05pm

Mann Packing Co., Inc. (Salinas, CA) announced today the voluntary recall of a series of vegetable products sold to select retailers in the United States and Canada. The voluntary recall is a response to a notification by the Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency of a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. To date, public health officials have not reported any illness associated with these products.

The fresh vegetables are packed under various brands, e.g. Del Monte, Kroger, HEB, Mann's, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Sysco, Trader Joes.

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Downtown office space at 37 cents/sq foot

By bizgrrl, Mon, 2019/11/04 - 6:51am

One of the TVA towers in downtown Knoxville has been nearly empty for years. It would appear the towers are owned by TVA/the federal government.

Knox County is talking about leasing office space in the TVA towers. At 37 cents/sq foot. Downtown office space appears to be going for around $1.25/sq ft.

The University of Tennessee is talking about sub-leasing office space from Knox County in the TVA towers. At $1.00/sq ft. Wow! What a markup.

Hmmph... Are our federal tax dollars being wasted? Well, not wasted, manipulated maybe.

On the other hand, "The space would require tenant improvements at the cost of approximately $125 or less per square foot."

So how does that work out, 37 cents plus $125 (or less) per square foot? Of course the $125/sq ft will be allotted through multiple years.

Oh, and as of right now there is some controversy over security access to the building for the public.

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Foothills Craft Guild Fall show

By bizgrrl, Thu, 2019/10/31 - 4:56pm


TENNESSEE SHOWCASE OF FINE ARTISANS

* NEW WEEKEND & LOCATION *

Friday, November 1, 2019: 10am-6pm
Saturday, November 2, 2019: 10am-6pm
Sunday, November 3, 2019: 10am-4pm

TICKETS - Per Show Day Adult Tickets: $7 CASH or $8 CC. Available at the door

Knoxville Expo Center
5441 Clinton Hwy
Knoxville, TN 37912

This event is usually held at Chilhowee Park, which is a better location in my opinion. Hopefully there will be a good turnout at the new location.

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ACA health insurance open enrollment starts Friday, Nov. 1, 2019

By bizgrrl, Thu, 2019/10/31 - 5:19am

You can enroll in or renew ACA health insurance plans from November 1 to December 15. Plans can be previewed now.

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Using a debit card can be risky

By bizgrrl, Wed, 2019/10/30 - 6:01am

From WATE, Debit cards don’t offer a lot of financial protections and using them can be risky.

As we've been saying for quite a while...

How to pay without using your debit card?

Another reason to not use your debit card

Don't use a debit card for purchases

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TANF funds (block grants) go unused, in Tennessee and elsewhere

By bizgrrl, Sun, 2019/10/27 - 6:19am

TANF is the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Core TANF activities include Basic assistance, Work activities, Work supports & supportive services, and Child care.

TANF Spending in Tennessee - $730 million in unused block grant funds for poor working families

Tennessee receives $190.9 million each year through the federal government's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Last year, Beacon found the state spent just $71.1 million of that money, or 37% of the annual block grant amount.

News Channel 9, Chattanooga, alternative source for TANF unused funds in Tennessee.

In 2018, it was reported that Ohio had "$500 million in unused funds from the program’s block grant."

Earlier this year, Mississippi Today reported that "Welfare dollars help fund college scholarships for children of middle-class families."

Thus, do block grants work? Is this the way to go with Medicaid?

FY 2018 Federal TANF & State MOE Financial Data

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Did Trump dis the NASA astronauts?

By bizgrrl, Tue, 2019/10/22 - 5:16am

He didn't like their response? I'm pretty sure it wasn't bad timing on his part.

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Democratic presidential candidate debate, Oct. 15, 2019

By bizgrrl, Wed, 2019/10/16 - 5:05am

I didn't watch this time. A few things I read about:

1) Impeachment was discussed early on in the debate. The only part of the debate I did watch. I was surprised how a few of the candidates did not seem to think there was enough for impeachment.

2) Warren still doesn't say how going to pay for Medicare for All/Single payer healthcare.

3) The winners were Klobachur and Buttigieg.

4) Biden and Harris still not doing so well.

5) Warren was attacked more because she is reportedly the front-runner.

6) Sanders health is great even though he recently had a heart attack.

7) Ellen and George W. Bush's friendship was more important than climate change, housing, immigration.

I'm sure (or hope) there were some important topics discussed. But, unless I'm willing to watch (or read a transcript) the three hour debate, which I am not, I'm dependent on media reports, such as they are.

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Federal Reserve dealing with "messy episode"

By bizgrrl, Sun, 2019/10/13 - 6:18am

"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York added $82.7 billion to the financial system Friday, using the market for repurchase agreements, or repo, to relieve funding pressure in money markets.
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The Fed began offering repo loans last month after a shortage of available cash in the financial system led repo rates to climb as financial companies scrambled for overnight funding."

"Unlike its postrecession bond-buying campaigns, often called quantitative easing, or Q.E., the new effort is not monetary stimulus, the Fed stressed. Instead, the central bank is trying to keep money markets in check after a messy episode in which interest rates for repurchase agreements — essentially short-term loans between banks and other financial institutions — spiked in September. The run-up spilled over into money markets, pushing the Fed’s policy rate temporarily above the range that policymakers were targeting."

"Messy episode"? Heh.

"Mr. Powell and his colleagues have repeated, time and again, that the current balance sheet expansion should not be confused with quantitative easing.
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“When it swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s hard to prove your intentions aren’t fowl,” Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics, wrote in research note.

At the September meeting, the Federal Reserve policymakers lowered the "overnight lending rate by a quarter percentage point."

"The U.S. central bank has lowered borrowing costs twice this year after having raised interest rates nine times since 2015."

"Since the [Federal Reserve September] meeting, economic data has increased fears that trade tensions are spilling over to the broader economy. U.S. manufacturing activity tumbled to a more than 10-year low and service sector activity fell to a three-year low in September. Consumer spending, which has been driving U.S. growth, has also begun to moderate."

Is it that we are learning too much, but don't know enough? Maybe it is that we should go about leading our ordinary lives and hope for the best. My only problem is I don't have much confidence in Federal policies right now. The Federal Reserve is supposed to be independent of the President and his cohorts, but are they acting in that manner?

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America's commute times continue to rise

By bizgrrl, Tue, 2019/10/08 - 6:29am

The average American commute grew to just over 27 minutes one way in 2018, a record high...

The average American has added about two minutes to their one-way commute since 2009

All told, the average American worker spent 225 hours, or well over nine full calendar days, commuting in 2018.

The shift is being driven in large part by an increase in the share of workers with long commutes.

People with long commutes tend to pay more for gas, typically get less sleep, have more fat, and are less happy than people who don't, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

Here is a ranking of "the top 50 worst commutes in the country, using data from the 2017 American Community Survey."

Nashville is the only city in Tennessee to make the top 50, at number 26. That's a good thing. Florida has seven cities/metro areas on the list. Orlando is 18th on the list. There is a lot of tourist traffic competition in Central Florida. Amazingly enough, one thing I learned while living in the Orlando area is to drive slower, unless you have escaped the congested metro areas.

News Channel 5, Nashville, had a report last year indicating that "more than a quarter of Nashville employees surveyed say they have quit a job over a bad commute..."

I know a lot of people commute to/from Blount County/Knox County for work. There are a couple of hours in the day when the traffic is slow and heavy. Otherwise, it is a pretty easy commute. When we lived in the Orlando, FL, area I traveled from the north side to the south side for work. It was only 20-25 miles but took forever, 45 minutes or so. Many times I chose to drive the 2 and 4 lane roads versus the interstate. At least there was movement and you could stop for coffee, food, shopping along the way. On the interstate you could get stuck with no movement and no readily available access to exit. Many times I do the same here in Knoxville.

I do wonder, and have for years, if there shouldn't be more effort to have some sort of bus system running between Knox and Blount counties for commuters. It might have to be customized for the patrons, e.g. commuter parking, small buses/vans, more frequent service during morning and evening, then less frequent during the day.

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Knoxville Mayor election - last day to register to vote

By bizgrrl, Mon, 2019/10/07 - 8:18am

City of Knoxville Mayoral and City Council election.

Today - Monday, October 7, 2019, is the last day to register to vote.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, early voting starts for Knoxville local election.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, is election day.

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Streamlining government-move them to Kansas

By bizgrrl, Mon, 2019/09/30 - 5:18am

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said last week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plan to relocate several hundred of jobs from Washington to the Kansas City area is "a wonderful way to streamline government." Speaking to a group of fellow Republicans in his home state of South Carolina, he said it's "nearly impossible" to fire federal workers but added that many will not move to "the real part of the country."

I've spent a fair amount of time in the Kansas City area with Kansans. I think it is more of a East coast vs West coast vs Middle of the country thing. Some business partners tried to get us to move there, from Florida. Took me on a tour of the area. Yes, very nice. No way I would move there. Can't drive to the Atlantic coast in 8 or less hours from Kansas. Can't drive to many places on the East cost in less than 8 hours from Kansas.

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TN RealID driver license

By bizgrrl, Thu, 2019/09/26 - 1:46pm

We got our RealID driver licenses today. It wasn't as bad as we thought it might be. Used the Maryville drivers service center. Took about an hour. Got there about 5 minutes after they opened, there were already 36 people in line.

We were prepared. Used a kiosk to sign in and pay with a credit card. Could have used a Debit card. However, we could not use the same credit card for both of us, thus had to have two credit cards. Don't know why, but the card was rejected for the second person.

Had to have at least 4 documents, proof of citizenship or legal presence, proof of social security number, and two proof of residency documents. We had unexpired valid U.S passports. If you are a woman, have been married (and divorced), and don't have a valid U.S. passport, it's a little more complicated. You'll need your birth certificate, marriage certificate(s), and divorce decree(s), if applicable. For proof of residency we used our existing driver licenses and a utility bill. There are many documents you can use for proof of residency, but I'm hesitant to provide credit card statements, mortgage bills, etc. since they make copies/scan in all of your documents.

Everything was quite efficient. Of course, we now have to wait to receive the driver licenses in the mail. We received a paper temporary license that we must keep with our old licenses.

There is only the one drivers service center in Blount County, on Home Ave. in Maryville. According to the website, there are two in Knox County, one at Strawberry Plains Pike, way East Knoxville, and one at Montbrook Lane in West Knoxville, near Gleason Drive. I wonder if the West Knox location is on the bus line.

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Climate and the land retreat

By bizgrrl, Tue, 2019/09/24 - 6:33am

By the end of the century, 13 million Americans will need to move just because of rising sea levels, at a cost of $1 million each, according to Florida State University demographer Mathew Haeur, who studies climate migration.
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The U.S. government’s philosophy has been that local officials are in the best position to decide what needs to be done. Consequently, the effort has so far been ad hoc, with local and state governments using federal grants from the last disaster to pay for buyouts designed to reduce the damage from the next one.
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This year, HUD made available $16 billion for climate resilience, its first dedicated fund to fortify for future storms. Nine states, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, will decide how to use it, whether to build sea walls, put houses on stilts or move people out of the way. The money is a fraction of what’s needed, and the process is moving at the speed of government.
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A FEMA spokesman said the agency supports the voluntary acquisition of flood-prone structures and provides the grant funding, but the prioritization of projects happens at the local level first and then by the state acting as the recipient.

The agency [FEMA] believes each county floodplain manager and local official knows the needs of their communities best and are responsible for land usage and permitting.

Goodness, I don't know which is worse, putting FEMA in charge of funding or local officials. One thing I do see from local officials is they are many times worried about increasing growth, thus tax revenues, not planned growth. What can be said about FEMA? Not completely sure they know what they are doing.

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