By early next year, the Geneva School District will have entered a new world in terms of how students pay for lunch. It's just the start of what's likely coming for all of us at some point in terms of how we pay for a lot of things.
Starting at the high school in the fall, and eventually throughout the whole district, students will pay for lunch with PushCoin accounts.
PushCoin is the brainchild of Anna and Slawomir Lisznianski, whose startup company in Geneva has garnered some notice throughout the alternative payments industry.
Without going heavily into the technology details, students basically pay for meals by placing their fingers on a scanner at checkout, which matches students with their previous scans. It automatically links a student's transaction and pulls the payment from a PushCoin account set up by his or her parents.
At the same time, PushCoin sends the parents an email about how much was spent and what was bought, including the calorie count and other nutrition facts.
Ultimately, the district wants this to be a better way to pay than a student fumbling around for cash or using a debit card that runs up extra costs for the schools.
Schools have a problem collecting small amounts of money in cafeterias or at fundraising sales because of associated fees, Slawomir Lisznianski said. Using the digital wallet concept of PushCoin eliminates much of that concern.
"We have eliminated the need for the school district to need vendors for a website (related to lunch payments), or for credit card fees or for point-of-sale vendors," Lisznianski added.
PushCoin will donate the finger-scan hardware and tablets needed for the system.
Anna Lisznianski likes the fact that the PushCoin account can be adjusted to indicate any lower fees or free lunch programs for certain students because no one else in line knows how much or under what other guidelines a student is paying.
A student using a subsidized program can sometimes be a victim of ridicule. "We are hoping it can stop some of that bullying," Anna said.
Mostly, it's the start of a brave new world in how we view money and how we use it to pay for things. It's already possible to pay for things with digital currency, or by tapping phones, wristwatches or bracelets with computer chips against scanners. And we're seeing things like Google Glass, making it possible to pay for stuff with eyeglasses. How many of us will jump into this fray at some point is hard to predict.
But we know students in Geneva are just about there.
Disappearing ball trick: My tales of woe on a golf course are so long and ridiculous, one would have to sit and listen to me ramble on for an hour. No one in his right mind would ever do such a thing.
But I've got another to add to the list after a couple vacation days of golf in Wisconsin.
My ball was sitting on the edge of some thick, tall grass off the fairway and I took a mighty swing -- and hit the ball maybe two or three feet at the most right into thicker grass. And lost my ball. Has anyone, in the long history of this game, ever done that? I didn't think so.
Time to horse around: The Tri-Cities Exchange Club is all about helping prevent child abuse, but its members will turn their attention to horses next weekend.
Club members will help work the ticket booths and perform other tasks at the annual Festival of the Horse and Drum at the Kane County Fairgrounds.
They are picking quite a show at which to help out. Horse lovers will certainly enjoy this event, but it should interest just about anyone who enjoys different cultures, history and an array of colorful costumes.
Back to shuttles: The parking nightmare for the Geneva Metra station began in earnest last Monday as work on adding another level to the commuter parking garage began. With the garage out of the picture for about six months now, commuters who don't have reserved spots in the lot right next to the tracks will scramble to get what is left in the parking area near the government center.
Others can grab shuttles from the First Baptist Church lot at 2300 South St., or the baseball field parking lot east of the Public Works Department at 1800 South St.
Getting shuttled to the Geneva Metra station actually is old hat for commuters who have been taking the train to work for many years.
I am sure many recall that prior to Geneva having a parking garage, and the La Fox and, later, the Elburn stations opening, every commuter in the central Fox Valley area converged on the Geneva station.
It meant that shuttle buses had to be set up at the First Baptist Church.
I wasn't taking the train daily in those days, but on those occasions I did, parking was impossible before the shuttle option was available. It usually meant parking in the nearby neighborhoods and getting a ticket.
Some more tires: Seeing a new commercial building going up has been a fairly rare sight since our rugged recession, so it is easy to forget what is actually going up when you drive by a construction area.
If you go to Costco in St. Charles along Randall Road, you've surely noticed new construction taking place in front of it. That's going to be a new Discount Tire location.
Take that canteen: The summer is getting away from me and I haven't even had watermelon yet. But in tribute to this wonderful berry -- yes, it's a berry -- I'll pass along this cool bit of trivia from the Kane County Farmer paper. Watermelons are about 6 percent sugar and 92 percent water. Because they are a great source of electrolytes, early explorers used watermelons as canteens.