Courtesy of savvy shortcut website for modern living, Lifehacker, here are the top ways to stay warm this winter for less dough.  Some involve constructing genius DIY doohickeys, others tweaks on classics.

I like the machine that cycles absorbed solar heat through 180 empty cans of your favorite beverage.  Well, I’d let someone else actually “make” the device.

And powered longjohns?  Interesting and doable, but I’ll leave that one to the experts.

Here’s our next tip for help in finding your next great read!

EarlyWord is the place to go to keep up with the latest in book news – what’s moving up the bestseller lists, award nominees and winners, forthcoming books with buzz, what book is being made into a movie. The emphasis is on connecting libraries to the publishing world, so you’ll also find reports on books that are showing a lot of reserves at a cross-section of libraries across the country, but this blog is packed with interesting and helpful information for any book lover.

The co-founders of EarlyWord – Nora Rawlinson and Fred Ciporen – each have strong ties to both the publishing and library worlds, but the tone of this blog is far from stuffy or academic. There’s a lot of humor and opinions but no snobbishness. Frequent postings – often 2 to 3 a day – keep things lively and current. With the end of the year approaching there has been a lot of information on award winners and “best of the year” lists with links to reviews for the big winners.

There are also links galore to all things book-related – publisher catalogs, book awards of all kinds, lists of “best” books from various publications, best seller lists, coming soon and previews, movies based on books (both finished films and those in various stages of production) including links to trailers for these movies. The “Consumer Media, Book Coverage” section will point you to that book you heard about on NPR last night, or the author Jon Stewart talked to last week.

Count on EarlyWord to entertain and inform – and to steer you to some great new books.

Awww, my stomach. Just rehearsing. But normally that’s the morning-after lament of the serially psychotic that go after doorbuster sales. In case you’ve been a devotee of online bargains using great portals like fatwallet.com, you’ll notice there was a steep uptick in the amount of great posted deals starting a couple weeks ago. The reason for this being, retailers depend heavily on this time of year to bring their ledgers into the black and have a strong 4th quarter. They need more time. As far as they’re concerned, it started the day after Halloween.

Here is an excellent write-up the Argus did, hitting all of the key points with a few tips.

So if they’re bumping Black Friday up, does that mean we can engorge our stomachs a month early as well?

If you’re willing to get a jump on chili season before the hooded sweatshirts come out, you can save a mint due to the glut of local tomatoes.  Just walk into any break room across this great land of ours and nab the bag of tomatoes labeled “TAKE…PLEASE!”    Cut them up and dump them into a pot on top of browned meat of your choice and an onion.    Add half a bag of dried beans you soaked overnight.

Congratulations, you’re eating for a week for no money and didn’t get carpal tunnel opening a dozen tin cans.

It turns out that second only to Christmas, computer manufacturers depend bigtime on back-to-school demand to fuel the sales of computers.  Well, according to major player Intel, the kids (or cash-strapped moms and dads) didn’t want near as many as anticipated and they are stuck with a surplus on their hands.  If you’re willing to wait a month or so, this soft demand might mean an excellent deal if you were on the fence about a purchase.

Sure they give you a sweet deal on a phone when you buy one.  They’re not counting on you being a big-picture person.  Over the life of the contract, each one of those little amenities or extra services really add up.  There’s a huge markup, additionally on those accessories, i.e. junky headsets that make you look like a pretentious fool or schizophrenic in a public place and only cost 30 cents to make…

Or in this case, charging dock.  Not only does this free one you can make yourself look sweeter, it stays on the outlet and off the floor/countertop.

Anyone have a shampoo bottle?

Here are a few more ways to save significant amounts of money from the new book by Jeff Yeager called Cheapskate Next Door.

-Cut pieces of foam insulating board to fit windows in the winter and put them in at night or when you’re away to save a fortune on heat.

-Save big money on a car rental by helping auto transport companies relocate vehicles.  Lay down a deposit and they’ll provide a vehicle and tank of gas for approved drivers.

-Over a lifetime you’ll save about 5,000 gallons of gas and $30,000 or more by driving only cars with manual transmissions.

-Dry cleaning is a $9 billion a year business in the United States, loaded with toxic chemicals.  According to an article in Consumer Reports, “Dry-cleaning isn’t the only way to safely clean garments labeled dry-clean only, and other methods might even do a better job.”

Here are a few belt-tightening culinary tips from the new book The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager:

-Order only tap water with your meal when you go out to eat. Beverages are typically marked up 300 to 600 percent. Ordering water only will save you about $800 a year.

-Put box-wine into premium label bottles and no one will know the difference. Check AccidentalWine.com for for up to a 40% discount on premium bottles with cosmetic packaging imperfections.

-If you use a crock-pot once a week for eight hours, it will only use 30 cents of electricity a month, making cheap, tough cuts of meat fork-tender.

-Choose to host brunch, giving everyone their own quart-size ziplock bag and a serving tray of tasteful omelet ingredients.  Add a couple of eggs and boil all for fourteen minutes for perfect custom omelets, saving you $100 over a sit down dinner.

CouponMom.com proposes “cutting your grocery bill in half” with downloadable coupons and a state-by-state grocery coupon database. Owner Stephanie Nelson estimates her regular site users save $2,000 per year.

In the early 1980’s, the local Oscar Meyer plant pulled up its ramps and closed the killfloor. However, the storied tradition continues the last week of July as squealing tons of undulating meat pack Brady Street in the name of “fun.”

All of which, it turns out, got seeded ahead of me for the 36th Annual Quad City Times Bix 7. Apparently an answer of “0” on the registration for prior Bix finishes funnels one into the pile with certain species of mold, molasses, and garden slugs. Silly me, I forgot to pack my salt shaker!

That being said, I can’t really complain about the finish. It’s a number that reflects an outdated engine being fueled by aggression and liquid-cooled by a torrential downpour.  As a reward, it’s time to hang up the $120 shoes that cost 17 cents in foam rubber and Malaysian labor in exchange for a world where one doesn’t walk down steps like Frankenstein.

In retrospect, I learned an awful lot about this little subculture those sweltering Thursday nights and that timed monsoon morning.

-The finish-line beverages they serve to simultaneously carbo-load and rehydrate you are especially refreshing at 930AM.  What better way to celebrate the legacy of young Beiderbecke?

-The people that live along the route are a special breed of patient, compassionate, and proud.  Your selfless hose work and ice cubes every Thursday night are a testament to the human spirit.

-Antagonizing people whose bodies are in oxygen deprivation with a lit cigarette is not funny. Seriously dude, you have a problem. That problem, incidentally, is that you’re plagued by erroneously finding your schtick amusing.  Your sidewalk privileges are revoked effective immediately.

-Don’t respond with an impudent tone when it’s suggested you double-knot your laces prior to the race.

If you’ll excuse me, I have a one-floor elevator ride to catch.

In case you’re wondering, it has a grade of 7-9%.

I know a few masochists taking part in the area’s premiere social/sporting event, the Quad-City Times Bix 7.

It was my hope this post will collect new knowledge, as well as construct a semblance of personal commitment resulting from the embarassment of not not taking the plunge and registering.  I started writing several weeks ago before the registration price went up, after this brave young lady was randomly chosen to draw the world’s spotlight for a shot at a small fortune. There would be no jackpot victory with any kind of Ed Froehlich advantage thrown thus beginner’s way.

The nadir of six months of accumulated self esteem occurred at the first of four Bix at 6 events, designed to fine tune the mettle of participants.  Methinks these events were designed out of necessity, as this footrace is clearly the magnum opus of convicted Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele.  However, by the looks of the participants, these training runs are more recess time for human gazelles than the potentially injury-prone.

The Bix 7 is what is it means to be a Quad-Citian.  It started as a Prohibition-era cornet playing phenom of dubious repute, became a little jazz festival spawned out of civic pride in the 70’s, and then blossomed into a monolith that almost eclipses our little burg.

However, given the Bix’s history and global renown, there is a surprising dearth of information out there when Google searching for “tips”, “strategy”, and “advice” outside of the sagelike wisdom to drink water and prepare for hills…for real people, that’s embarassing.   It’s 2010 in the age of global GPS and I sadly have to straw poll my neighbors for data.

Advice would be great, as there are hills, and there are HILLS.  Lower-case hills are what are alive with the sound of music.  Bix 7 HILLS are acts of hatred borne of a sadist’s wicked imagination.  They are the hills your grandparents walked up both ways to get to school in the snow.  As I sat there at the base of on mile 3 profusely swearing, I felt like Medic Wade in Saving Private Ryan.

So here are some techniques developed by a pale, sickly amateur, since over several decades of accumulated experience no one has posted any truly prescriptive course advice on the Internet.

1- Run the four Bix at 6 practices.  They are free, and an excellent value because of the safety personnel and water stations.  If you go in there half-cocked, you will have a rude awakening.

2- Take Brady excessively  slow so you have something left.

3- Take two waters at the turnaround and nurse off the second’s cup of ice, also pop 4 GU Chomps

4- Drink a water before the race and eat a bunch of rice at lunch and a couple bananas in the afternoon (can’t rightfully say if this helped, but it didn’t hurt).  Fine for 6pm, not sure about how this would work at 8am.

5– Fire off a rallying soundtrack at about 1.5-2 miles left as you pass Arlington or Davenport street as a reward for making it back up the cruel ascent.

6– Yes, you do need to prepare for hills, but where, what, why and how safely is what no one is covering.  Do a few circuits at Longview Park Rock Island’s bike path in your off days.  Sidewalks are for people paying attention.  Don’t be the person with the MP3 player oblivious to vehicles making turns.  Pedestrians have an obligation to be courteous that comes with their right of way.

Bix at Sixes 1-75:38 2-74:41 3-72:13 4-74:31 (Extreme humidity, for which I am told there is no known cure)  Not exactly a Kenyan pace, but it’s as far into the red as I can push this old jalopy.

With one week left, shin splints and knee pain are signs this bag of bones is betraying me.  Progress toward this foolhardy goal ebbs away with every day of inactivity.  Finish line “refreshments” and 35 dollars spent in vain are the only thing that will rouse me out of bed next week.  The forecast for running through a 7-mile sauna isn’t helping matters either…