Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Winter doldrums lead to the Internet

Baby, it's cold outside!

2//3/16 Chatterbox

Betty Kaiser

I am a true Capricorn. I get up most mornings with a mental list of what I am going to do, where I am going to go and whom I am going to see. I make lists and check off the finished projects at day’s end. I like to be busy and productive. So what changed me this year?

This winter I have been more interested in being a slug than a worker bee. None of the items on my many lists have been crossed off. Interior woodwork has not been painted. Photo albums have not been dated and organized. I did get one desk drawer cleaned out but have not tackled even one closet. I have not even been tempted to go outside and weed around the tulips that are popping up.

As a rule, I am never bored but you might say that currently, I have been lazy to the point of boredom. I’ve even been considering the pros and cons of joining social media to jolt me out of my bear like hibernation. Maybe I need some of that  “face time” everyone talks about. It seems that I’m that only one that hasn’t joined “an electronic form of communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content.” Sheesh! That's a mouthful!

Frankly, this kind of communication (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) just isn’t appealing to me. I obviously stand alone in my thinking as all of my kids, grandkids and friends are currently profiled on Facebook. If they’re not texting one another, they’re posting friends, or sending messages, status updates, videos and photos via social media. In turn they receive notifications when others update their profiles. Why?

My friends tell me they do this to keep up with what their grandkids activities. My grandsons’ parents tell me the same thing. The grandsons aren’t talking. In fact, I don’t believe that I have ever seen my grandsons actually have a voice-activated telephone conversation with their friends. Why should they? They can knock out a 25-word text faster than I can find my cell phone in my purse!

Knowledgeable sources say that Facebook is the world’s most popular social media site. If I read my facts correctly, every month the site has over 900 MILLION visitors. That is mind boggling when you consider that the population of the United States is only about 320 million people (give or take a few thousand).

Still, this whole business of baring ones soul on social media doesn’t interest me. But Facebook is tempting. Everywhere I go, people are saying, “Did you see it on Facebook?” Magazine/newspaper/radio/TV ads request that you “Like us on Facebook.” It’s like a mysterious club and I’m not a part of it.

Now I may not be a joiner but I don’t like to be left out either. So I investigated the pros and cons of social networking. The pros are many and compelling: the ability to meet new people, re-acquaint with old friends and distant family members; bragging rights when something good happens and bringing awareness to social causes.

The cons are worrisome. The biggest is probably the privacy issue.  Ironically, this newspaper columnist with a blogspot can’t quite see herself sharing daily activities to friends and family that could be broadcast around the world. On the other hand, my life is pretty boring. Who would care if I shared what I had for breakfast or that a gorgeous gray squirrel is eating out of our bird feeder?

Some cite that Facebook is addicting and therefore time consuming. Others object to the advertising and everyone distains those users who are hateful and spiteful. Peeking at one page, I was appalled at the angry dialog over a difference of opinion. It’s just not my style.

Ultimately, I once again said “No” to Facebook and started looking around for a less public way to spend my time. A segment on  “Good Morning, America,” caught my eye. Perhaps you have seen their on-going episodes of  “Free Money.” i.e. “Unclaimed Money” that may be waiting for you and me to find. Now that’s interesting!

Depending on the source, it is estimated that over 90% of Americans have some sort of unclaimed funds or assets available. Every state in the Union, the District of Columbia, Canada (and more) have unclaimed funds and assets that have they are holding because the owner has forgotten them or the recipient is deceased.

Typically these funds were originally held in bank accounts, insurance companies, tax refunds, safety deposit boxes, etc. After an extended period of time, if the funds aren’t claimed, they are turned over to a government agency until the recipient can be located. Filing a claim is a free public service. The trick is finding the money.

In Oregon the Department of State Lands handles unclaimed money and property. According to the website, every year in Nov. as much as $40 million in property belonging to individuals are added to the Oregon Unclaimed Money base.

To find out if you have any money waiting you can start here at If you’re a lifelong Oregon resident try:

Every state is different in where unclaimed money is handled. So if you previously lived in Calif. unclaimed property is the responsibility of the State Controller’s Office:

Now, a warning:  Be sure that you don’t fall for a fee scam. Look for the name of the state government in the link and the search will be free of charge. And be sure to look in all states of former residence.

At the end of this day I didn’t make any new friends nor did I find any free money for the Kaiser family. I did, however, stay warm, learned something new, watched the weeds grow and finished this column. Mission accomplished. Now back to normal.

FYI: I do welcome your comments and now that I've figured out how to access them maybe we can start dialoging. I'm a little slow at this computer stuff :(

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.