Monday, August 9, 2010

100 Posts - And Moving to a New Blog

The New Blogged Word has been a wonderful experiment. It has taught me many things about blogging and exposed me to people all over the world.  Along with the first incarnation (The Blogged Word) it was my first blogging property, but after 99 posts, this 100th post seems appropriate to announce a new project.

One of central themes experts preach is to blog about your passion. The (New) Blogged Word was a starting point, but over time, I've continued to search for that one passion that I could get excited about.  I have another key project in the works, but OREGONative is a natural evolution as someone who is... well... an OREGONative.

You'll get perspectives on the Ducks (sorry, Beaver fans), Blazers, Winterhawks and more.  I'll pretend to know what I'm talking about regarding politics and weigh in on issues related to the environment, renewable energy and anything else that surfaces. There will likely be some occasional commentary on a certain blogger's countdown to retirement.

So change your bookmarks to the new site and please join me at the OREGONative.  Help me look at the Pacific Northwest and beyond through the eyes of an OREGONative!

Monday, August 2, 2010

$1 Off at Taco Del Mar

Taco Del Mar's Mondo Burrito is a favorite of mine.  $4.99 of burrito bliss!

Here's a coupon for $1.00 off any combo meal or a burrito - you know which one I'll choose...

Click on the image, print the page and enjoy burrito bliss!

Valid through 12.31.10.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Best Patriotic Song Ever

Ray Charles.  America the Beautiful.  Enough said.

Happy Birthday, America!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Credit Card Compromised

It is quite ironic that after a long absence from updating The New Blogged Word, the topic today falls immediately on the heels of an identity theft topic.

No, at least at this point, it does not look as if our identity has been stolen, but we did have our credit card number compromised. We have our cards, but when checking our balance through the automated phone system today, we found over $17,000 in charges!

A quick call to our credit card provider began the process of clearing things up. Flights, travel services in Istanbul and England, utilities, and dozens of other random charges.  The charges had been taking place for days and continuing today - during our call - when the agent deactivated our account.  New cards, with new numbers are on the way.

This caused me to look for some resources on Amazon, just in case I needed to dig deeper. Much to my chagrin, I found an enormous collection, at the time of this writing, 849 results, related to Identity Theft Resources!

Whether you buy a book from Amazon, or subscribe to an identity theft prevention service, be very careful about your credit card use. Something as innocent has handing it to a waiter, who takes it out of sight to process, may be just what you don't need!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Identity Theft Precautions

Colleagues shared this at work recently and many of these suggestions make a lot of sense. The sad part is that not too many years ago, we didn't have to worry about, nor did we even think about, these kinds of things. I've been using some of these myself, but see some new ones I'll add to my defenses.

I hope you find them useful.  Feel free to add any of your own techniques!
  1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
  2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED" or "PLEASE CHECK I.D."
  3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "MEMO" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
  4. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, get one and have all mail sent there. Mailbox theft is growing!
  5. Never have your Social Security Number printed on your checks. You can selectively provide it based on the circumstance. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
  6. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopies safe. Always carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.
  7. If you have access to your email via the Internet, scan and email yourself the contact information copied above. If you're traveling and disaster strikes, you can access all of this information just by locating the nearest Internet cafe.
These are great precautions, but if your personal identity information has been compromised, here's some things to do to help limit the damage:
  1. Common wisdom is to cancel credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
  2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one.)
  3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. A dangerous application for credit made over the Internet in your name can be stopped in its tracks with this alert on your accounts. This requires the agencies to contact you via phone to authorize new credit.
Here are the critical contact number you'll need:
  • Social Security Administration (fraud line) 800-269-0271
  • Equifax: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374   800-685-1111
  • Experian (formerly TRW): P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013   888-397-3742
  • Trans Union: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022   800-888-4213

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Memorable Merchant(s) -

Usually, when I share experiences in Memorable Merchants, it is pertaining to a single merchant.  Today, it makes sense to focus on a group of local Gresham merchants that are trying to make a significant difference in our community.

Try Local First is a coalition of local business groups, launched by the Gresham Chamber of Commerce to urge East County citizens to support our own quality of life by supporting local businesses.  To their credit, check out the Try Local First banner in the rotation at the bottom of their home page.

The coalition's premise is based on a simple economic concept:  spend money locally, and the money stays in the local community longer and does more good than dollars that are sent outside the area, state, or country.


If you are an East County business owner - get involved.  If you are an East County resident, look for the Try Local First placards in local businesses.  At a minimum, look to our local merchants FIRST every time you shop.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Memorable Merchant - ShedRain Umbrellas

How often do you use a product for 14 years, have it fail (wear out, actually), inquire skeptically about the so called "Lifetime Warranty" and be taken care of without a single question asked?

Yes, I'm amazed, too.

ShedRain is a third-generation Oregon company founded in 1947. With a name like ShedRain, what else does an Oregon company make? Umbrellas, of course! And quality ones at that. Remember the 14 year statement?

When my wife's umbrella finally gave up, I called to find out about the Lifetime Warranty. Helpful-Warranty-Manager-Brandy said bring it in and they would take a look at it. So I did. Again, without any questioning, she cheerfully accepted the umbrella for inspection. Brandy indicated that within a week or so, she would have a decision on whether it could be repaired or if they will need to replace it.

Replace it? Again, I point out 14 years!

Friends and family are likely tired of the frequent story I tell about my first visit to a Les Schwab Tire Center years ago with a nail in my tire. When I tried to pay for the repair, they said "no charge." When I asked why, they said that it looked as it I would be needing tires in the near future and that they would appreciate it if I thought of them. Are you kidding? Since that day, I've never gone anywhere else.

From this day forward, I will never buy an umbrella from any manufacturer other than ShedRain. I suggest you do the same.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Free Pastry Day at Starbucks March 23

Starbucks is bringing back their "Free Pastry Day" on Tuesday, March 23.  Simply print this coupon, take it to a participating location and "nosh!"



PS: Click on this small thumbnail image to display a larger image to print.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gresham Rotary Wine Raffle!

The Gresham Rotary is ready to go with this year's Wine Raffle, Dinner, and Auction Event!

Friday, April 30
6:00 to 10:00 PM
Persimmon Country Club
500 SE Butler Road
Gresham, OR 97080

This is the 7th annual event with a dinner, silent auction, and wine raffle.  A good opportunity to have some fun and help a very good cause at the same time.  Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provide humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 31,000 Rotary Clubs located in 167 countries..

This is not a formal event, but it's a perfect time for me to wear one of my bow ties!  There's wine tasting, great food, and the auction -- simply a fun night.  $50 per person.

The Wine Raffle is a hoot.  Tickets are $5 each with prizes being:
  • 3rd Prize:  10 bottles
  • 2nd Prize:  25 bottles
  • 1st Prize:  50 bottles
The Silent Auction usually holds a great variety of items on which to bid.  Some are small; many are significant.  In the past, they have had in the neighborhood of 40 items.

Can you tell why I'm excited? I'll be there... Will you?


Sunday, March 14, 2010

If This Doesn't Motivate You...

...then you're not "motivate-able!"

Tennis buddies: it's almost time!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Wine for Seniors

There is a new wine being developed just for seniors.  Vintners in California's Napa Valley, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Grigio wines have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an "anti-diuretic.”

It is an extraordinary breakthrough that has not only the wine industry, but the medical community taking notice.

The wine will be marketed as… Pino More.

(Sorry – couldn’t resist.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Golf Back in the Gresham-Barlow School District

Recently, I received the following press release from the Gresham-Barlow School District. I'm happy to say golf is back! (And I'm also happy to say the fundraising golf tournament mentioned was a blast!

Gresham-Barlow School District News
January 12, 2010
Gresham-Barlow School District Reinstates Golf

Community-driven fundraising throughout the school year allows district to bring program back for 2009-2010 school year.

The Gresham-Barlow School Board reinstated the district's high school golf program after a series of successful fundraisers brought in $15,600 to pay for the program. The sport had been suspended for the 2009-2010 school year as a part of the school district's efforts to reduce the co-curricular budget.

"I am pleased our student athletes will have the opportunity to participate in this co-curricular program in spite of our budget challenges," said Superintendent John Miner. "The community support that has been shown for our students is truly appreciated."

High school golf coaches Ron Jones, Tom Starr, Jeff Nielson, and Scott Shields led the fundraising efforts. Student Tommy Schmitz, who plays on Barlow's golf team, raised almost $8,000 through a golf scramble fundraiser he conducted.

Golf is the second sports program to be reinstated. At the beginning of the school year, a community member anonymously donated $21,000 to restore the water polo program. The district was forced to reduce its co-curricular budget by $500,000 this school year due to reduced state funding. A majority of the cuts came at the middle school level. Cuts to the co-curricular program were part of an $11 million reduction to
the district's entire budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How NOT to Use PowerPoint

I ran across this recently and couldn't resist sharing it. From someone who lives in the PowerPoint world, and has seen all the bad juju that comes with poor slides, this is hysterical.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Safeway Grounds United Airlines

Today was the first day that I did not swipe my Safeway card when picking up my regular Starbucks purchase.  Effective February 28, Safeway has canceled the long-running United Airlines frequent-flyer program tied to their Safeway Club Card.

In a recent announcement, the move was to focus on reducing prices for ALL shoppers. Not a bad move.  Safeway has been higher priced on many items for years.  Me?  I pick up a few things along with my Starbucks purchases as needed.

It was only to get the miles.

For years, Safeway has awarded to Club Card holders who sign up for the United Mileage Plus Reward program 125 miles for every $250 spent on qualifying merchandise.  Will that get me to Fiji?  I think not.  Does that make me feel like I'm getting something for my loyalty?  Absolutely!

The irony in removing a frequent flier program actually runs contrary to the "frequent buyer" mentality.  I don't expect to buy my odds and ends there any longer since there is no benefit.  My wife does almost 100% of her shopping at Fred Meyer where there is a direct gift card rebate quarterly - and she gets gas discounts.

Starbucks recently initiated their Starbucks Rewards program, seeing the value in rewarding loyalty as McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, and now Burger King continue to provide competition.

In a competitive grocery environment, Safeway may believe they are becoming more competitive, but I would argue they are looking in the wrong places.  I can go on and on about process improvement, lean operations and the like - areas where real and significant costs can be engineered out.  Sure, it costs Safeway to "buy" the miles United awards, but that is a coveted benefit I will miss.

I would speculate that after a recent request to have Club Card holders "renew" their participation in the program, they may not have had a large number take that action.  Again, asking a participating member to "renew" when they can see who are members and how many use the program, seems misguided.  They simply don't get it.

I do see one benefit, though: my wallet is now one card lighter!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gresham-Barlow Phone-a-Thon February 22-25

The Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation is a group of tireless volunteers and donors who give of themselves year round for the benefit of our District's students. They have been strong partners and supporters of the Gresham-Barlow School District since they were founded in 1994.  Now, they need your help to help them continue their work.

In the press release that follows, you'll see the formal announcement of the 2010 Phone-A-Thon taking place February 22-25.  This year's "Learning to Read" campaign continues their focus on providing additional support for reading skills in the elementary grades.

How the Phone-A-Thon works:

High school students make outgoing calls to members of our community requesting donations.  With the Gresham Outlook and Gresham Ford sponsoring the event and covering all costs, all donations received from the high school students' phone calls go entirely to the reading programs.

All costs?  What costs are there?

The students making the calls are all part of various high school activity groups.  The Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation provides a small grant to each of the groups who field calls as a way to support their activities.  Combine this with some refreshments (after all, we are talking high school students!) and other supplies, and you can see that it takes some money to make some money.  With the generous sponsors who are covering those costs, every "telephone dollar" supports reading.

If you are in the Gresham-Barlow School District attendance area, please give what you can when you receive the call.  Every dollar helps.  If you are a New Blogged Word reader and are outside the District - or even outside the United States for that matter - you can donate to the Foundation at

By the way, donate $50 when you receive the call and get a free oil change from Gresham Ford.  Where else can you get a more than 50% return on your investment?  (Not to mention the support you'll be providing.)



Gresham-Barlow School District News
February 9, 2010
Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation's seventh annual Phone-A-Thon to raise funds to help students become better readers

February 22-25 the Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation will hold a Phone-A-Thon for the Foundation's "Learning to Read" 2010 campaign. During the four-day event, students from the district's high schools will call parents and community members asking for donations to the campaign. Donations will be primarily used to provide support for elementary students learning to read. The event also provides a fundraising opportunity for high school student groups.

Last year, parents and community members in the school district raised $40,000 for the reading campaign. The Gresham Outlook and Gresham Ford are sponsoring the event. Individuals donating $50 or more will receive a certificate for a free oil change from Gresham Ford. Community members can visit the website to make a pledge.

The Gresham-Barlow School District serves more than 11,000 students in grades K-12. The Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation was formed in 1994
to assist the schools of the district in providing the best possible educational opportunities for its students.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

America Can't Get Enough of Sully

It's been a year since Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger acted calm under pressure, relied on his training, showed leadership acting as a team with a very capable co-pilot, Jeffrey Skiles, and successfully put US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River in New York after a bird strike during takeoff.  "Cactus" 1549, as the air traffic controllers called it, had 155 passengers on board and except for a few bumps and bruises - and quite a scare - were no worse for wear.

In this Associated Press photo, many of the members of that short flight gathered Friday to commemorate the event's anniversary.  And who (rightfully) was center to the proceedings?  Sully.

Captain Sullenberger has been on the speaking tour, he has written a book and others have written about the event, and has become something of an icon.

In these days of irresponsible Hollywood types that get press for extreme misbehaving (the topic of another RANT! some day), Sully is a breath of fresh air.  The right kind of media topic we can enjoy seeing plastered everywhere.

My favorite example of what has come out of this event is a computer reenactment of the flight, complete with bird strike and air traffic control audio.  Exoshpere3D is a "visualization" company that used the released information from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report.

I can't stop watching it. Take the time to allow it to load in HD and watch in full screen mode. If you are a pilot or have even a slight fascination with our our air traffic control system works, you may not be able to stop either.


Way to go, Sully!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Starbucks Responding to Incentives

It has been a while since I posted a Memorable Merchant, but I was so pleasantly surprised recently during a Starbucks visit, I had to dust it off.

While hanging out waiting for the girls to finish shopping a while back, I ran across a brochure talking about a relatively new program called My Starbucks Rewards.  Although I'm a loyal Starbucks customer, I did not know about this until now since my regular visits are at my local Safeway Starbucks kiosk and not a physical store. The current program is a nice evolution to something actually started in the past.

In the past, Starbucks had various forms of rewards programs that included the use of their Visa card to track purchases. Believing that one credit card and a debit card are all the plastic I need, along with no doubt countless other customers, Starbucks saw the wisdom in not requiring a proprietary Visa and combined the program.

They did it right.

Now (and long overdue,) Starbucks is tracking purchases via registered gift cards, using the typical "frequent flier" model:  the more you use it, the better the rewards.  The only change in my habits is the use of a gift card (and regular re-loads.) Three levels exist:
  • Welcome (black; beginner): free drink on your birthday; 2 free continuous hours wi-fi access
  • Green (5 stars earned): Black level rewards; free beverage customization (syrup and milk options/soy); free refills on brewed or iced coffee; free beverage with whole bean purchase; free trial offers
  • Gold (30 stars earned): Green level rewards; free drink every 15 stars; personalized gold card; personalized offers and coupons

You can get more details here.

Being someone who is always in the hunt for "miles," I appreciate getting credit for my purchases. It is interesting though (and a testament to Starbucks' dominance in the past,) that they are only in the recent past, becoming "competitive."  As recent as only a couple of years ago, they told Safeway to stop the "buy 7 and get one free" promotion as part of the Safeway Club Card.  The message: we don't need to entice people to drink our brew.

That has changed.

My economics professor in college, Dr. Ted Scheinmann, used to say, "people respond to incentives."  I quote him often since it is not only his, but the overall basic axiom of economics.  Starbucks originally (and for some time) had people responding just because they could afford expensive, but very enjoyable drinks, in very pleasant environments.  As competition has tightened from the likes of McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts (another good thing for consumers from an economics point of view,) Starbucks has needed to employ Dr. Scheinmann's axiom to keep customers responding.

It's working for me.  Since the sign-up via Blackberry from the "shopping" Starbucks, I have seven stars.  I'll be Gold in just 23 more.  Safeway kiosks aren't equipped to deliver the "rewards," but my everyday purchases count as stars.  At my pace, that's only about a month. 

Dave is "responding to incentives."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Memorable Merchant: New Choice Health

I know, you're thinking I'm going to pitch the merits of some insurance company.  Blah, blah, they paid everything, blah, blah, blah.


I learned about New Choice Health today from a podcast on NPR's Planet Money.  NewChoiceHealth, Inc. is a leading online comparison shopping marketplace built for the sole purpose of providing healthcare consumers a way to save money. Consumers can easily locate medical facilities and compare medical procedure costs for common procedures such as MRIs, CT Scans, Mammograms, and more.  You can shop nationwide or right in your own local market from over 20,000 medical facilities for over 400 of the most commonly performed medical procedures.

The podcast's topic was related to health care and why hospitals charge so much.  That's a big bucket and a topic all by itself for another time.  The part that struck me was the ease at which the average patient (consumer) can shop for medical services using

First some background about the founder.  From their About Us page:

"Brad Myers is a medical cost expert and a founder of Brad has over 24 years of broad experience in the healthcare industry with extensive knowledge in medical cost informatics, healthcare insurance, managed care, clinical laboratory, and health and life insurance. It was his passion that drove him to bring price transparency to healthcare consumers through the web site It’s a simple message we are trying to bring to consumers, "shop and save!"

Being a "50-something" I decided to select an example of something near and dear to my... well... er... um... heart.  Here's a partial look at a search done for a colonoscopy in the Portland, Oregon area and the dramatic differences in pricing:

As I said before, the overall cost of health care is a topic for another day.  But I need to make an important point.  Many of us are fortunate enough to have insurance coverage, and our out of pocket costs for a procedure like this is small, relative to the published prices.  Because of that insurance, we simply don't have a good feel for what something costs.  Frankly, I was shocked to know the cost - and the range of costs.

For everyone thinking about any sort of medical procedure (even you, "Perfect Specimen John,") shop around.  You will likely save yourself some money.  For those procedures covered by insurance, the more we take action to reduce costs, the more competition there will be, and the lower costs will become.  Economics 101 - yet another topic for another day.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Other Blogs

Recently, I added two badges to my sidebar, sharing my other blogging properties.  There was a period of time recently where all of my blogging activities ceased.  As I've refocused on my existing blogs - and have begun designing a new one - I have taken some steps to promote them by making them more visible.  In this case, it's creating their own badges.

The Ultimate Blogging Toolkit is a place where I've been documenting my experiences blogging.  As the badge indicates, it is a place for Free Blog Reviews, Blogging Resources and of course, Rhetoric.

Energication is a relatively new effort, tying into my past experience as a school board member.  Here, I attempt to connect the many aspects of renewable energy to their application in our schools.  Making the critical nature of renewable energy sources, the science behind them, and the impacts to our society relevant to students and educators at all levels is the number one priority.  This Welcome post provides the best background and Energication To Date provides an easy way to start at the beginning and walk your way to the present.

I hope you enjoy my other projects.