Archive for September, 2008

US Forest Service Fall Color Hotline

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

For many of us, autumn is the favorite time of year. The heat of summer is waning, the days are getting shorter, and there's just a different quality to the light outdoors. And then there's the colors.

While New England and the northeast are famous for their fall colors, there is a wealth of wonderful fall foliage all over the country. To get the latest information on where things are happening, call the Forest Service Fall Foliage Hotline at 1-800-354-4595. Just follow the prompts for the region you're interested in and start planning your trip now. Information is updated weekly, so be sure to call back often.

You can also visit their website for more fall color resources.

Help a soldier phone home

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Cell Phones for Soldiers is an organization founded by two teens in Massachusetts, dedicated to helping service members stationed overseas stay in contact with the folks back home. Through fund raising activities and money made through recycling old wireless phones, they provide prepaid calling cards so that service men and women can phone home. Each recycled phone buys about an hour of talk time, which is a whole lot more useful than just keeping that old phone in the junk drawer.

There are designated drop off locations for phones, or you can print a postage-paid mailing label on their website. They're a bona fide 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so your donation may be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law (check with your tax advisor for specifics).

They also have a sister site in Canada, with donations there going to help out Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

Remember all your appointments with MemJog

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Are you busy? Well duh—who isn't? With a full schedule to stay on top of, it's easy to get confused and show up for meetings an hour late, or make important phone calls an hour early. If you're not sitting at your desk, your calendar probably isn't available to you. Reminders on Outlook are only useful if you're sitting there watching them pop up.

MemJog is a free service that sends reminders to your mobile phone. Create an account, make sure your phone works with the service, and start entering reminders. Now you've got no excuse for missing important events.

While they include a lot of cellular carriers in their list of supported systems, they don't include everybody (Virgin Mobile is missing), and they're not completely up to date (they're still talking about Cingular).

While MemJog is free, remember that you carrier may charge you for SMS text messages.

Get realtime traffic information

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

One of the biggest pains-in-the-neck about modern life is the commute. Unless you just camp out under your desk, you've got to get from home to work, and then get back home at the end of the day. Some days are good, some days are bad, but you just can't avoid that drive. If knowledge is power, here's a trick that may just make you a bit more powerful.

Sign up for a free account at Now you have access to a wealth of knowledge about current traffic conditions. Not only that, but you can access it in the way that makes the most sense to you. Before you leave on your trip, open your browser and consult the web site. or you can have updates sent to you via email or you can subscribe to an RSS feed. If you're already out in it, you can always phone for an update—either send a text message to TRAFC (87232), or phone 1-866-MY-TRAFC (1-866-698-7232)—to find out about what's happening right now. is a free service and covers many major metropolitan areas.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Everybody deserves to be able to live in a home free from violence and fear. A strong home is the foundation of a strong society. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in this home.

If you or someone you care about is afraid of their partner or their relationship, you should call The National Domestic Violence Hotline. They have advocates available 24/7/365 to offer support and help with crisis intervention, safety planning, and referrals to appropriate agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. A call to 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) (or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY) puts you in touch with help in English or Spanish, or 170 other languages through interpreter services.

The Hotline handles over 16,000 calls each month. Even if you don't need to take advantage of their services, you might consider making a donation to their continuing effort to make a difference.