Tuesday, January 30, 2007


So often one hears, "You get what you pay for" and "If its too good to be true, it usually is." So, it is with pleasure we offer this post to you, today.

Unclaimed property? You think you might have riches waiting for you but someone forgot to tell you about it? Those emails keep telling you that you, indeed, have millions waiting to be claimed by a distant relative that died without leaving an heir. All you have to do is pay them, up front, a finder's fee of ten percent of the treasure they have uncovered for you. Look it up yourself. According to the state's website the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) administers the Unclaimed Property Program for the state. To check for such assets as uncashed payroll checks, stock and bonds, safe-deposit box contents, insurance proceeds or refunds and bank accounts, search for your name here. In recent years, DSL has received an average of $25 million per year and has returned approximately $8 million per year to owners. All unclaimed money is held in the Common School Fund, and earnings from the fund are sent to all Oregon K-12 public school districts. All states run a similar program, so there is no need to pay a fee to anyone to find these riches for you. You do have to prove you are the person and your connection to the amount that is being held for you (i.e. an old utility bill to show you lived at the rental where the deposit has been waiting for you).

With a FAFSA filled out the government puts together a financial aid packages for anyone going to college. Whether you are 17 or 70 (or younger or older) the Free Application for Federal Student is the place to start regarding how to pay for it all. You may end up with a package consisting of all grants or one consisting of all loans. Most people are provided packages with a mixture of grants and loans. You decide which offers you are going to accept. APPLY NOW, the earlier the better to get the best chances of grants (which you never have to pay back) or great student loans (which you pay back AFTER you leave college and are provided at a very, very low rate). If you decide not to go to school that year your package is discarded, you are not penalized at all. You must apply for this package each year whether or not you accepted it the year before.

The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation is another source of potential money for education. Their website states, "Our Mission is to create scholarly (educational) and scholarship (financial) opportunities in which participants of all levels have a fair and equal chance to participate and be successful." Developed and administered at Nova Southeastern University, the Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation (CKSF) awards scholarships to students through Internet-based quiz competitions. CKSF reward students for demonstrating what they know. There is no essay writing or long applications to complete. Students receive scholarship awards based on common knowledge and basic education curricula. The primary focus is to have an objective competition that rewards students who have well-rounded, practical knowledge, and not necessarily those with the highest academic standing.

If you don't have enough spam and are looking for extra cash for fun shopping you might try e-Rewards. Members can earn rewards, by taking online surveys, from a variety of well-known companies including American Airlines®, BLOCKBUSTER®, Borders®, Continental Airlines®, Delta Air Lines®, Hertz®, Hilton®, Northwest Airlines®, US Airways®, Zales®, and eBags® and other program partners. If anyone participates in this program, please let us know either here or write it up and publish it over at NCO. A writer over there, TH, has an idea to use a rewards system based actually on bartering using Clatsop County bucks. Looks interesting, it would be nice to have the local municipalities take hold of this idea and run with it. If they don't, TH will be waiting, patiently, for his time to come and run with all of his great ideas.

For anyone looking for something totally free there is The FreeSite.Com. This site has links to everything from freeware to kitchen appliances to dating services to sweepstakes. A safer bet, unless you like the spam, is to try our local Freecycle. It's an effort to keep our special unused and unwanted things out of landfill and putting them into the hands of people who want or need them. All items accepted, but they must be given away for free. For all of Clatsop County you can sign up here, and you can also sign up for Astoria's own freecycle.

Do you have any other freebies that have worked for you?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Makes the River Run?

Roll on, Columbia, roll on
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

One only needs to look at the Grand Canyon to get a glimpse of what a river is capable of doing. The power generated by a millinea of roaring water, eating away at granite and stone, was coveted by man and with little regard for what he was doing to the whole eco system that it supported he took it, river by river by river. And the ecology of each spot was ravaged, the chain of events taking place devastatingly apparant to any with a discerning eye to see it. The discord of an eco system so out of balance it is evidenced by salamandars evacuating quicker than rats from a sinking ship.

There are violent uprising and changes in the earth’s movements throughout its billion+ years of existence and throughout that time creatures, great and small, have come and gone. Usually at a very gradual pace nothing has quite equaled what takes place when humans enter the equation.

A dam displaces water without creating another eco system of transference. Without using biodegradable materials, without allowing things to decompose and add to the silt and the rot of the river to grow and sustain further life then all that can possibly take place is permanent planting and restocking of a fish population that has no hope of sustaining its own multigenerational life. The problem has never been over fishing, it has been the wiping out spawning grounds, of breeders and broodstock and fishfood and healthy waters for it all to live in. It has been the deliberate manipulation of a species in trade for the all-mighty dollar.

And while we can weep for our fish it doesn’t end there. With each fish that doesn’t come back to the river, that doesn’t spawn, laying its eggs or fertilizing with milt, that doesn’t die with its stinking carcass sinking to the bottom of some isolated shoal, that is one less spot on the river that is not fertilizing life. It is not nurturing the ecological system that feeds all of this area and makes it rich in everything that we hold dear whether you like fish or have never had a piece of that rich, moist, delicacy with its slightly gray underside, caress your tongue or not. The fowl of the air, the plants in the fields that are eaten by you or the beef or the deer that you call dinner are sustained by that biomass in the river. And we are about to lose it all.

In exchange, someone, somewhere is about to make some moey. In return we will get to pretend for a little while longer that we have fish while someone makes pretend we have fish programs that are saving our salmon. They don’t tell you how these salmon will procreate without their spawning grounds or without a healthy river in which to do it, however they are sure if there could just be a few more limitations put on the fishermen then the whole species could be recovered.

We have sustainable energy. We have the wind, we have the sun. We have hemp, we have soy. We have geothermal power, we have biofuel. We need to close down our dams and take stock in our energy needs. We need to understand what our river’s purpose is. How we can live WITH the river as well as the life within it and the lives it sustains outside of it.

Vote wisely for those who understand that a dollar saved today, in finding cheap energy, may cost us ten dollars tomorrow in paying for the consequences of that short lived bargain. This is not the time to bring in corporations who preach one thing but do another and whose track record is opposite of what they promise or they have no track record at all. Our salmon are dying on the river and don’t let any con job tell you they are being poached! Aside from a new recipe, alongside an egg or two, the only poaching that occurs with salmon on the Columbia happens when someone steals a bad idea for a project from one corporation to the next.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ollie'll Fix It

In the movie 'Intolerable Cruelty' you see how "spinning the truth" can get to the point where the last person standing is spun (and maybe even perceived by many) as the one who is telling the truth. Now, it seems, that is where it appears the port is headed.

What we find most interesting, however, is that over three years ago (maybe even longer) on at least two of the local forums people were calling for an investigation of the port and its books. However, the people's complaints, concerns, frustrations and fears were pooh-poohed and ho-hummed while people with [supposed] "wiser" outlooks and more [imagined] "credible" names were given preferential treatment, their veiws and guidance given [undeserved] credence. What is the price tag of this folly? HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of the taxpayer's dollars in fines alone, not to even go into what it will cost if lng companies are not blocked.

The college bond was voted down and the college board wants to know why. They hired a consulting firm to do surveys of the people in the county to figure this out and quess what they discovered? Will, let's look at Astoria Rust, NorthCoastOregon.com, KAST's open forum, Astoria Citizen Forum, and our own forum. OH! For free we see that those voting against it are doing so because they don't like the locations and think the plains or airport hill would be a better location and one they could support or vote for, however, a donation from Nygaard makes them leery. Now, wonder what the ten of thousands of dollar survey says? Oh! It says the bond failed because of the site the board was pushing ... So, where's our cut of the money?

People write in to the forums. Especially now that we have such a nice cross section of them. There's not just one catering to a specific group but four diferent open forums plus NorthCoastOregon's wonderful version of news with commentary. Any person who really wants to take a pulse of our dried salmon community can begin by doing it for free, online, any night of the week. Clatsop County has come a long way from the times when the one forum was limited to the Daily Astorian's limited and short lived version.

The local forums are Astoria Rust, KAST CoastWatch, Astoria Citizen's, Dried Salmon (connected to this blog), and the online news source and commentary NorthCoastOregon.com We must say that these have the best and worst of the local people and that is really wonderful! While our local flavors range from the expected lutefisk to lefsa, smoked salmon to clovered honey, soon the conversations throw out a roasted asparagus or coffee and the savory aromas permeate the keyboard, making it easy to add in the spice of a Hispanic salsa peppered remark and flaming a Pad Thai comment aimed at a commisioner or a district attorney. A good civil servant sits at the table until the Baklava is served and splits the bill, having enjoyed a good conversation with new friends. A few flounce from the table early, not even bothering to leave a tip for the hard working wait staff.

Come visit and contribute, your voice is waiting to be heard!