Sunday, August 14, 2011

Step-By-Step Residential Solar – We’ve Decided to Make the Move

“Solar Project” is a new topic in the OREGONative. It will follow our pursuit of a solar system for our home – from decision to installation to watching the meter turn backwards!

Something interesting is happening all over America. As a partisan divide has deepened in Congress and Americans seem to be agreeing on less and less, we still overwhelmingly agree that as a nation that we should be using more solar power.

A January 2011 Gallup Poll revealed that 83 percent of Americans (including 93 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans) support additional incentives for solar and alternative energy. We ranked solar incentives as our #1 legislative priority, ahead of withdrawal from Afghanistan and overhauling the tax code. A March 2011 CNN poll indicated that 88 percent of respondents believe the U.S. should use more solar power, ranking it #1 among energy choices.

However, while support for solar is growing, some nagging misconceptions are still holding us back. Many businesses and homeowners assume solar power is too expensive without even checking into it. Some people think they will have to pay a premium to go solar, but never bother to find out if that's actually the case. Others don't realize that a solar installation increases a home’s value, as two separate 2011 studies from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown.

Solar still provides less than 1 percent of America's electricity, but we can take encouragement from another phenomenon. Less than 3 percent of American adults had high-speed Internet at home in 2000, but just ten years later, more than two thirds of adult Americans have high-speed access. Solar power makes too much sense not to become a mainstream source of electricity.  If solar adoption rates achieve only a fraction of high-speed Internet growth, the United States will be in a much better place during the next decade.  My wife an I have just decided to contribute a step to that journey.

We’re going solar!

As part of this new “Solar Project” topic in the OREGONative, we will follow our pursuit of a solar system for our home – from decision to installation to watching the meter turn backwards!  You’ll learn about our nervousness, our debating, our discussions with neighbors, and our exhilaration when we finally made the decision.

My hope is that you will be surprised by what you learn and enthused at the same time.  You’ll learn how quickly we adjusted our purchase vs. lease strategy when we “saw the light.”  Most importantly, you’ll learn just how inexpensive it can be to add value to your home and virtually negate your entire electrical usage.

This may seem like we already know it all.  Not so!  We’ve learned a lot recently – enough to know that it’s right for us.  We expect to learn a lot more as we progress, and I will be sharing that with you here in the OREGONative.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Just Want My Paper

Really? Disassembling the morning paper delivery?
I recognize that it takes advertising to support local newspapers and periodicals in general. The subscription fees don't come anywhere near close enough to covering costs and creating a reasonable profit.  It is advertising that makes up the difference.

In today's digital world, it's often cheaper to subscribe to the magazine (and allow the publisher to cite circulation numbers to advertisers)  to get the digital version or app cheaper - then just recycle the magazine.  The newspaper is an ecological guilty pleasure, since the rest of my news consumption is via Blackberry, Google News, and Flipboard on the iPad.

I get all that.

But what really frustrates me is when the need to generate revenue impacts the simple tactile enjoyment the morning newspaper brings. Here's a shot of today's delivery of our local Oregonian newspaper. Notice the "shipping container" in which it came.  Do we really need to distribute samples this way?

Daily, the light weight plastic bag in which the paper is delivered is OK with me, in spite of the recent rhetoric about one-use plastic bags.  These serve a purpose by keeping the paper from simply going into the recycle bin on rainy mornings. They are easy to remove and the local grocery stores recycle them.  Quick removal, and the paper is mine.

This morning, it was more of the inverse of "some assembly required." It took careful separation of sealed edges to make sure the paper wasn't overly impacted and the samples didn't fall out in front of a pre-coffee customer.

Kinda ruined the moment.

The first "open" of the morning newspaper is the best part of reading it.  With it placed in your lap and fanning section after section, glancing at the front pages.  Guess I'll flip through Flipboard this morning instead.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011 Safeway Golf Classic Returns - Volunteers Needed

The 2011 Safeway Classic Golf Tournament is back to celebrate its 40th anniversary.  For its 9th consecutive year, the Police Activities League of Greater Portland is involved.  Their work to support at risk youth is impressive.

The Safeway Classic Pro-Am is Wednesday, August 17 through Sunday, August 21.  It will be held at the beautiful Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course. They are asking the public to volunteer to support the event.  In addition to a uniform polo shirt, you'll get free parking, snacks, beverages and for those working day shifts, tickets for lunch.

The Portland community is known for its volunteerism and philanthropy.  Go ahead and get involved, enjoy a great tradition of golf, and extend your support to a great local organization.

Here's a link to the Safeway Classic site, where volunteer information is provided along with how you can get involved.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Rotary Club of Gresham Drops Balls for Good Causes

This video previews the excitement that is expected on Monday, July 25th at Persimmon Country Club in Gresham, Oregon. The Rotary Club of Gresham is having their 1st annual Golf Tournament to raise money for Mt Hood Hospice, Adventist Hospice and Gresham Rotary Foundation.

As part of the tournament, there will be a ball drop from a helicopter on the 18th fairway. The rules are quite simple for the golf ball drop:
  • The green will be set up with a regulation sized cup
  • If a ball goes in the cup, the winner splits the pot
  • If no ball goes in, there will be a drawing for $1000
The Rotary Club of Gresham is hoping to sell 1000 balls at $10 each, 6 for $50, or 13 for $100. At the time of this post, there are currently over 300 sold.
Hurry - ball drop sales end Friday July 15th!

The Rotary Club of Gresham does wonderful things in the community, helping hundreds of people annually.  If you would like to support this part of the tournament, please leave a message below and you will be placed in touch with a Rotary member.

There are still openings for the golf tournament!

If you want to play in the tournament, it is $125 for golf, cart, and a BBQ lunch with prizes.  They are currently at 28 foursomes and would like to fill the maximum available 36.

Have some fun, support a great cause, and play some golf at the same time!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hats Off to Drobo - In Spite of Not Winning

I'm sorry to say that my entry in the "What I would do with 100 Drobos" contest didn't win.

No matter - there were quite a number of outstanding winners who will do very good things with their winning Drobs.

This bears a significant salute to the good people at Drobo.  Sure, this was a promotional campaign.  However, the fact remains: they gave away a large number of Drobo devices.  These devices went specifically to the vote winners who cited the most noble ways to use them.  I bow to that altruistic camaraderie.

Thank you all for your voting and for your support of Click. Buy. Help.  Your continued loyalty is helping the non-profit organizations who are benefitting from your online purchases every month.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Help Click. Buy. Help. Win Drobos for Charity

Hurry! Voting ends June 17!

What is a Drobo? Click Here to Find OutClick. Buy. Help. is dedicated to helping non-profit organizations earn commissions through the purchases made by their online supporters. If you are reading this post, you may already know that. What you may not know is that Click. Buy. Help. is employing a slightly different strategy for helping its member organizations. If successful, we'll have the capacity to help not only the current members, but many, many more in the future.

Enter Drobo. Drobo? What the heck is a Drobo, you ask?

Drobo is a simple, safe, and expandable disk drive storage system that works with both Mac and Windows systems for the ultimate in file backup security. Huh? What does that have to do with helping non-profit organizations earn new sources of revenue?

The good people at Drobo are running a contest to identify the best uses of 100 Drobo storage systems. This post is my entry and if I win through voting (that's where you come in), each Click. Buy. Help. organization will win one. We don't have 100 organizations (yet), so there may be some distribution details to work out. However, that is a great problem to have.

"What" I Would Do With 100 Drobos

It's not so much "what" I would do. That I've already made clear above. Each of my non-profit groups would be a recipient. Instead of "what", the more important aspect is "why."

This is a crazy world in which we live. Charlie Sheen is offered $3 million to endorse a "Sugar Daddy" web site and teachers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money (out of relatively meager annual salaries) each year to buy school supplies and sometimes food for students. There is so much need in the world, and a growing inability to satisfy it.

Non-profit organizations generally struggle to make payroll, turn over every stone looking for donors and work very, very hard for every dollar raised. The last thing that should happen to them is to have the lifeblood of their recurring donor data disappear due to a single hard drive failure. Just as bad (maybe worse) would be to loose all of their prospecting data that would allow them to grow their donor base. As important as payroll and other expenditure records are, those pale in comparison to fundraising data.

The Drobos will prevent any steps backward, when the steps forward are so hard to take!

I started Click. Buy. Help. because I missed the "cause-based" work after retiring from my local school board. It is this longing to help support the good work non-profits do every day that drives me. It is what keeps me in my den most nights furthering the work of Click. Buy. Help., hoping to engage yet another organization so they can begin earning commissions. This is the "why."

"Why" Do I Want 100 Drobos?

Sure, I want one of the 100. It is a great piece of equipment and I would certainly put it to good use in growing the reach of Click. Buy. Help. to securely support even more non-profit organizations. But the real reason is selfish. I want the sheer exhilaration of presenting a Drobo to each of my organizations and hopefully, having one to give to each new organization that joins.

Please help me do that.

Please help me be selfish.

"How" Can You Help?

Thank you for asking! There are six key ways you can help:
  1. TIME: Volunteer with a local non-profit organization.
  2. TALENT: Don't just pass the mirror test - actively engage in their operation and provide them with the benefit of your skills and background.
  3. TREASURE: Select an organization that aligns with your personal beliefs and donate any amount you can.
  4. TALLY: Vote for this story on the Drobo site as your favorite plan for using 100 Drobos (this post will be updated with voting instructions once submitted to Drobo.)
  5. TRANSACT: Buy a Drobo. But do so while helping one of the Click. Buy. Help. non-profit organizations. The links below take you directly to a basic Drobo model on Amazon. Each link will track the commission earned on that sale and benefit the non-profit organization shown. You can learn more about each organization by visiting their individual pages - the links are available on the left side nav bar.
  6. TELL: Be sure to let everyone you know that they have an opportunity to help a non-profit organization. No purchase necessary. Just vote.
You can vote here, on the Drobo site. BE SURE TO ENTER THE CLICK. BUY. HELP. SUBMITTER CODE OF 790589. Enter your email address and you could win a Drobo yourself! You can only vote once, but they are giving away one per day.

If you would rather just send an email, drop a note to and be sure to indicate the submitter code of 790589.

Drobo Links to Amazon

Archbishop Howard School
Courts for Kids - Brett Wilkerson
Courts for Kids - Simmons Family
Courts for Kids - Tanzania
ISV - Zack Guerrero
Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue
Schoolhouse Supplies
St. Luke School
Trillium Charter School
Westview Girls Lacrosse

Thank you for your support of these fine organizations.

My request from Click. Buy. Help. is just as simple: Read. Vote. Drobo.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Things Your Burgler Won't Tell You

I don't normally read the chain letter "please forward this along to everyone you know" emails, but this was was different.  Read closely, and you'll see some very interesting perspectives about how easy it can be for the bad guys to get the best of us.

These are actually some great tips that I never would have thought of, so I am passing it along for all of your protection. One of these tips could save you or someone close to you.
  • Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.
  • Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.
  • Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste. And taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.
  • Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.
  • If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.
  • If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.
  • A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.
  • It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.
  • I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)
  • Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.
  • Helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.
  • You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.
  • A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. See the Fake TV Burglar Deterrent product to the left. What a simple and safe way to make it look like you're home.
  • Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never ever look like a crook.
  • The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.
  • I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.
  • I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?
  • I'm not going to divulge this one, since I still need a job when I get out.
  • I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.
  • Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address. LET YOUR FRIENDS KNOW IN ANOTHER WAY LIKE EMAIL OR A PHONE OR TEXT MESSAGE!
  • To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.
  • If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.
The email I received claims this information came from convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky.  Security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book “Burglars on the Job”.

If you don't have a gun, here's a more humane way to wreck someone's evil plans for you. (I guess I can get rid of the baseball bat.)

Wasp Spray

A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. An interesting strategy - it might be of use.

Burglar tips and tricks don't often present themselves in ways that could prevent a break-in or even worse. Personal protection is important. Protect yourself by setting up a deterrent or with some spray defense.  Better yet, read about what burglars do on the job and be ready to defend yourself through crime prevention.