Face it, summer travel is going to be expensive

The temptation is to suggest you cancel your vacation plans now.
Why?
Iraq’s internal collapse has oil prices spiraling again. Whether you are traveling by land, air or sea, it’s going to cost more. Not just for transportation, but for everything.
Here’s the latest from The Wall Street Journal.

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A half-day unclaimed property seminar is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon on, Wednesday, June 25 at the Jackson County Community Justice Building, second-floor conference room, 1101 W Main St.
Uncashed payroll checks and abandoned financial accounts that a business or organization holds for an unreachable party are considered unclaimed property. New reporting tools and information will be shared with seminar attendees
Get more information and register online: http://www.oregon.gov/dsl/UP/Pages/index.aspx, or call seminar coordinator Carolyn Harris at 503-986-5290.

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The latest Gallup research shows, roughly one in five Americans (21%) view the economy as excellent or good, while more than one in three (35%) say economic conditions are poor. The findings are much in keeping with a relative blasé.

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Ask not for whom the siren whines, it whines for me

The sound of sirens provides a constant backdrop to everything in the nation’s capitol.
Whether it’s fire engines and ambulances, Capitol, D.C. and Secret Service police, or motorcades, scarcely five minutes pass without the whine or bark of sirens.
The last one I really never heard because D.C. Rescue Co. No. 1 was coming for me.
I was stuck in an elevator on the 11th Floor of the Capital Hilton, not particularly in a hurry to go anywhere, no sense of claustrophobia. But there I was suspended high above Washington, four blocks up 16th Street from the White House.
I had gone to our room, adjacent to Elevator #2, to grab my wife, Melissa’s, purse while she printed out our boarding passes for our return flight to Portland. In retrospect my big mistake was walking into an elevator when the door was already open. The doors quickly shut behind me, I pressed “L” and unlike the two or three dozen previous times, nothing happened. I tried another button with the same result. Open Door, Shut Door, none of the buttons worked.
The Alarm bell worked, but no one responded to the cheerful door bell ring-ring. I heard voices outside, so I tapped heavily on the door hoping to be noticed — forgetting I was in Washington and avoidance is the usual response.
That left the final option, the Emergency Phone. I tried to open the red box, but realized after a few seconds it merely required pressing a button.
“Hello, may I help you?”
“I’m stuck in the elevator next to Room 1152 (my room)”
“Is there anyone else with you?”
“No”
“Are you OK?”
“Yes, I’m fine; I’m just stuck in the elevator.”
“We’ll get someone right away.”
I talked to a couple different people after that. My greater concern was to let my wife know where I was.
I later learned the call went out to the elevator company for assistance and then to D.C. Rescue No. 1.
I stretched a bit, but didn’t really want to plop down on the floor. I was in violation of Rule No. 1 in our house, always have reading material in event of being stuck in a waiting room, traffic or whatever. I was also without my iPhone, so there was no Tweeting or Facebook activity — a present-day reporter’s nightmare.
After 15 or 20 minutes from entering the elevator, the firefighters arrived and went to work.
“Sir, are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine; has anyone spoken to my wife?”
“She’s here with us.”

Firefighters from D.C. Rescue Co. No. 1


While there was no worry about life or limb, it still posed a challenge for the Rescue Co. No. 1 foursome. There’s a bank of five elevators, which I still consider highly efficient. Working in the shaft next to mine, two firefighters worked outside my door, filing and pounding. Two were dispatched to the 14th Floor, and were operating through an opening in the shaft.
“This is a piece of junk,” opined a firefighter. “We’re going to have to blow the doors.”
The scene from “Iron Man” where S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson told Pepper Potts to stand back while a small explosive briefly crossed my mind.
Firefighter parlance, I later learned, had no connection with my thinking.
About 40 minutes after I stepped into the elevator, the doors burst open as firefighters, a security guard and Melissa awaited my exit.
We posed for the obligatory picture, thanked the crew, they packed up and headed to the lobby. Just another stop for them, but a good story for me.

Firefighters filing and banging on elevator doors.

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What you won’t see in the Mail Tribune police log

These are trying times for many, including petty thieves.
If thieves sweep out the change from your ash tray, don’t expect to see that. Neither would a couple six-packs of beer nor a sack of groceries warrant the Mail Tribune’s attention.
But I couldn’t help be drawn to a couple of items on the Medford Police weekend log.
Apparently a thief in need of of quick manicure stole acrylic finger nails in the 1600 block of North Riverside Avenue.
Then there was the poor schmuck on the 300 block of Plum Street whose poop scooper was nabbed Saturday night. Hopefully the perp carries a plastic bags so he can make good use of his new find.

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Oregon income tax bite, fifth highest in USA

Oregon ranks No. 5 on the Tax Foundation’s list of average state and local income taxes collected from individuals — and it manages to accomplish such dizzying heights without local income taxes. (We prefer to call them fees.)
According to the Tax Foundation, on average, state and local governments collect $918 per person from individual income taxes.
Oregon tilts the scale at $1,426 per capita.
New York collects the highest, coming in at $2,289 per person. Maryland follows, with $1,823 per person, and Connecticut is next with $1,806.
Tennessee ($30) and New Hampshire ($63) collect the least per person because they have narrower formula, some taxing only investment income.

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The Capital Press, Oregon’s primary agricultural daily, takes a look at Harry & David.

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So many choices, so much viewer indifference

You get the idea a-la-carte cable and satellite options are getting closer when seeing findings such as Nielsen’s upcoming Advertising & Audiences Report.
The average U.S. TV home now receives 189 TV channels – 60 more than six years ago. However, Nielsen found viewers consistently tuned in to an average of 17 channels. Do the math and you get the idea there are politicians ready to make hay.

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Umpqua Community College’s Southern Oregon Wine Institute has once more scored with the Walmart Foundation and American Association of Community College’s Job Ready, Willing and Able initiative.  
UCC will receive a three-year, $180,000 grant for its Grow Our Own: Job Readiness for the Southern Oregon Wine Industry project, which seeks to provide mid-level training to unemployed workers in the region.
In 2008, UCC received its first grant from the Walmart Foundation and AACC to develop hybrid instruction and the wine incubator program, which led to its designation as a mentor college.

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Southern Oregon Angel Conference wrap

The winners at today’s Angel Investor Conference:

Nouvola of Portland captured the $215,000 investment for launch-ready companies. It’s the third investor competition win for the company founded by Intel Alums in the past six months.

In the Concept competition, Gro-Volution, spawned by Oregon Tech grads, will boost the ability of its customers to grow produce year-round.
Gro-Volution $2,500 in cash and $9,500 worth of in-kind services from: CFO Solutions in Ashland, which handles financials for start-ups; Pneuma 33 from Bend, a brand and marketing consultant; the Board Room, of Grants Pass, which will provide six months’ free rent; and Rogue Community College, which will provide a seat in its next six-month course for entrepreneurs at Avista Center for Entrepreneurship.

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Southern Oregon Angel Conference 4.08

Concept companies:
First up Daryl Ackley with Ackley Counseling & Employment Services.
Hopes to develop staffing agency for people with disabilities.
Need expertise to develop technical and expansion.

goTime Video, Brandon Kirkland: I don’t want to see the moment, I want to remember the experience.
Present solutions fall short in organizing videos.
Record videos and save to an album, it’s kept in the cloud.
Company within $20,000 of going live. Easy to save a share videos

Gro-Volution, Eric Wilson: Most of food eaten in Oregon is brought in from outside. The solution is make farm in freight container, using aeroponics (growing food in the air), reducing costs and spoilage. One individual should be able to operate 10 systems.
The competition is Freight Farms of Boston. Able to produce one acre per year in system with $450,000 sales in three months.
Gro-Volution can produce more in its 320 square feet because it is using three dimensions. A marketable prototype costs $50,000. A crowd-funding video is in the works. Provides lower buying point because of reduced spoilage.

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Southern Oregon Angel Conference 4.07

Rogue Rovers, light duty, electrical vehicle for specialty farm work, presented by Melissa Brandao.
We want to take large-scale technologies and apply to small-scale farm vehicles.
Rover is an all-electric vehicle coupled with farm-dog technology.
Started in Hood River, but have moved to Ashland.
The Rover sells for $10,000 and Farm-Dogg is provided on a monthly subscription basis. It collects and passes along data.
Rogue controls smooth and cool, because electric.
Competition is gas-driven ATVs.
Rogue Rover allows to control data faster and contain costs.
Potential sales of 250,000 units for specialty farms.
Marketing strategy through local dealers, perhaps license the product.
What kind of training and testing, OIT is involved in the development.
Farmers are more sophisticated than used to be, using unmanned aircraft. They are flexible and willing.
We would assemble in the Rogue Valley. There isn’t a lot of complexity in the vehicle.
Data collection: Yield estimates
Haven’t registered trademark, but will go after Farm-Dogg

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Southern Oregon Angel Conference 4.06

Intel alum Paola Moretto is with Nouvola, a Portland performance testing and analytics cloud-based system.
Impact 1-second delay on e-commerce translates to $2.5 million loss of revenue.
Traditional IT software companies old solutions for new technology problems.
Extremely time-consuming process, hire expensive performance testing engineers to come up with solution she calls “test and pray”
What Nouvola does is analyze and improve before deploying technology.
Nouvola taps into a market growing 40 percent annually and will be at $200 billion by 2016.
We want Nouvola to be part of the integrated development.
Launched last October and customer base has grown 200 percent
The company has one the Bend Venture Conference in October and won Angel Oregon this spring.

Not a price point, it’s completely different model. Companies have never penetrated this market. Open source stress-test players have part, but don’t do the whole thing.

Previous funds have gone to innovations and new analytics

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Southern Oregon Angel Conference 4.05

InStove, a non-profit organization from Cottage Grove, produces 60- and 100-liter stoves.
Presented by Adam Creighton.
Fueled by biomass for use in third-world countries.
Margins on products are 30 to 55 percent.
Stove-factory-in-a-box method has been tested in Nigeria.
The for-profit part of the company supports the non-profit organization.
For 30 years the technology was available, could be replicated, and is virtually unpatentable. But the brand has a big head start.
Our brand in a few years could be acquired.
Every stove has been sold. You can’t attract working capital for a non-profit.
Products manufactured in Oregon and vendors are from Oregon. The stoves cost $950 for 60-liter and $1,600 for 100-liter stove.

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