Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rags To Riches With A Simple Search

Now here's a story that will really warm your heart. Seth has been a friend of mine since high school so I've known him now for over 30 years. He had a strange childhood as his parents divorced at an early age and only his mother raised him. His mom worked all the time to support the family of 3 kids so she couldn't really be there for him and he certainly never had a father figure to teach him the manly things in life except for a few chords on the guitar. This did leave Seth with a love of music but it plagued him the rest of his life. He always thought he could make a living in music, but of course that never happened. Consequently, he led a life of many mistakes. Over the years he developed emotional and medical problems that led him through 3 marriages. There was always a money problem that seemed to add if not end every relationship he tried to start. He went from job to job trying to find something he could be happy with but everything seemed to take him to a dead end since the only thing he really wanted to do was make music. Then, Seth met Betsy almost 12 years ago and finally found someone that understood him with his musical dreams and wanted to stay with him no matter what.

The two spent the years together but slowly everything started deteriorating again. This time it was mostly money. Seth was never happy at his job and it left Betsy to make most of the living. Seth tried many different things at home to try and contribute to the financial part of the relationship but things suddenly turned for the worst.

Seth was on the way home one day from some little job he had found when he needed just to get away and stopped for a few drinks. One thing led to another and Seth was arrested for DUI. Betsy knew what this was going to cost and it was about the last straw. But she hung on; hoping something good would come out of the situation.

Well, things went from bad to worse. Seth lost his drivers license and couldn't find a job close enough to home to get to everyday. Their financial situation got staggering. This included more medical problems, utilities being turned off and their home being put up in foreclosure.

Then about the time all seemed at it's darkest; I ask Seth to take a look at a new website I had created called and to let me know what he thought. On the site he found a link to search for unclaimed money. There was not a lot left to do and they had a total of about $30 left in the bank after paying the power bill so Seth thought why not, couldn't hurt. So he typed in his name and clicked the search button.

Within a few seconds a list came up with 63 different people with his same name and a total of over $246,000 in uncollected funds. Seth told me he remembered thinking that someone out there had a lot of money waiting and it sure would be a blessing if just a little of it was for him.

Well, to purchase the list it cost $19.95. He almost couldn't bring himself to spend most of their last few dollars on a pipe dream, especially since there was not much food left in the house, but he did it anyway.

Seth got the list and started calling the contacts. Then, the forth name on the list, was all it took. Seth found out that his Great Uncle Truman had died a few years back and had owned some land. It was only 16 acres but the location was the key. It was purchased after his death by some shopping center developers as commercial property and today there was a mall standing on it. Truman had remembered Seth from years ago when he had come to visit him when he was very sick and had told him that his farm land would be worth something one day and that that he was going to give him a piece of it.

Well it was more that a piece. Truman apparently had a falling out with the members of his family and had left the entire parcel of land to Seth. A few years later the developers purchased the property and put the money in a trust fund for 20 years or until the owner came forward.

To make a long story short, of the $246,000 dollars in the list, $210,000 of it was all Seth's! The land had been sold for $13,125 an acre. What really got me; Seth didn't even have to go and get the money. He was sent a cashier's check and received it 8 days later by a private courier service. All he had to do was fax a birth certificate and a driver's license and the deal was done.

So today, Seth and Betsy are doing great of course. They paid off their credit cards, caught up all the utilities and brought the house payment current. They also purchased some musical equipment and are making music together.

It seems a little absurd that anyone could have some money like that just sitting and waiting on them. But saying something like "Stranger Things Have Happened" sure made a lot of Seth's friends go to and see what might be out there for them. I really hope to hear from them too!

© 2008 Jonathan Hopkins - May Be Re-Published But Not Edited

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Economy Chicken or The Economy Egg?


I'm going to set aside talking about PeopleProbe tonight because I have some pressing thoughts on my mind. You might say I'm just venting. I'll bet there's a lot of people that feel like venting right now. I highly recommend getting yourself a blog, so you can vent too!

Our economy is in a mess. Gas shortages, job loss, Wall Street problems, 100 year old banks closing, going out of business sales everywhere and at the same time prices for goods and services are going through the roof. The middle class is disappearing and now you're either going to have a sack full of money, or you're going to have nothing. Tell me something I don't know, right? Our elected officials tell us that it's all caused, by the other cause. In other words, one problem is causing another, then another, all the way back to the problem that caused it all in the first place. But which problem is that? What came first, the economy chicken... or the economy egg?

It's almost like back during the Cuban Missile Crisis. At the time, I lived in northern Alabama near Redstone Arsenal where Nasa built our rockets that were to one day carry our atomic warheads into battle. My parents were certain if weapons of mass destruction were fired at the United States from Cuba, Huntsville Alabama was sure to be a target. So the officials came to our schools and trained us on what to do in case of atomic attack. They said, "If you hear the warning horn, just get under your desk, and everything will be alright!" They built the desk a lot better back then than they do now but of course, this was only our leaders trying to give us assurance in what they knew was a hopeless situation. If a WMD had hit us, there would not have been enough left to talk about anyway.

Today in our economic times, all I'm hearing is this same pending doom, hopeless situation, faith and hope strategy. Save gas, save water, save power. Cut back here, cut back there. A few months back our President gave us an answer to save money. He said that when we weren't home, turn off the air conditioner. Of course since he doesn't have the problem, he wouldn't understand that it would take the same power if not more to cool the house back to a bearable temperature when you get home.

So let's say we do cut back on everything. Everybody gets together and cuts back on "Everything". All of the consumer products that we choose or must use everyday. Now we've created the next problem. We have more jobs lost because of manufacturing and services cut backs from the lack of sales and business. Then distributors and factories start closing and the whole process gets progressively worse. With sales down everywhere, less taxes are now being paid for government programs we need so the people with these positions are out of work too and again, the situation gets even worse. So, what is the answer. Well, I have an idea. In fact, it's already been done before and for the life of me, I can't figure out why our educated leaders have not addressed this nightmare in this particular way. Have we not learned from our past mistakes and achievements?

Sometimes an answer is so simple that you can't see the forest for the trees. Now I know there will be skeptics that will say this will never work, but hear me out for a minute. The fact is, it already has. This is nothing new. The United States and many other countries have done this, and history tells us they may even have to do it again one day. In fact, it's one of the great philosophies our country was founded upon.

So let's begin with one if not probably what we see as our biggest problem and we'll see that it's not a problem, but actually our greatest asset. Unemployment. Today there are about 10 million people unemployed and the numbers are growing each day. Seems like a legitimate problem. But I don't see it as a problem, I see it as 10 million people that have plenty of time on their hands. We just need to find them something to do. In a growing economy, everybody is so busy doing their own thing, it's hard to find people to do the things we need to get done. Such is not the case here, and without question, we have plenty of things we need to get done.

Here's how it was done before, just one example. Again, when I was a kid growing up in northern Alabama, my Grand Parents told me how bad it was when they were young. Going through the depression and World War II must have been far worse than anything we as Americans have experienced at this point in our history. They also told me what President Roosevelt did to get the economy jump started and get things rolling again. In north Alabama, he simply created jobs. For one, he created the Tennessee Valley Authority. At first this was nothing but a series of dams on the Tennessee River to create electricity. So jobs were created to build the dams and and jobs were created to keep them running. Then more jobs were created as the TVA expanded into what it is today. The result... more people had money, more money was spent, more taxes were paid, businesses in the area flourished and more jobs were created to run these businesses. The demand for more products increased so industry started moving in again and even more jobs were created. A simple idea, but it worked!

I'm tired of hearing rumors that America needs to be at war to have a thriving economy. That we must put people to work building weapons to create jobs. We don't need strife and pestilence to grow, we need dreams and positive direction. In the early 1960's, President Kennedy gave us a dream, "Let's beat the Russians to the moon!" I wish you could have seen what happened to Huntsville Alabama. Nasa started hiring, business and industry moved in and commerce and production increased in every aspect. Huntsville rode this gravy train for many years. Then the flip side came. We made it to the moon, and our dream was over. Congress cut back on funding and Huntsville turned into a ghost town. Most all the support groups and industry moved out. Businesses closed and there were empty office buildings and homes everywhere. Then, the Shuttle Program came along and everything started all over again.

OK, maybe the economy does need a $700 billion dollar bandage right now, but that's certainly not going to heal the wound underneath. I think at this point we don't need leaders that say we're going to put America back to work, but leaders that tell us how and when. Every single state in America needs something; a program, a business, a structure, a bridge, an industry, a homeless shelter, something. Let's take some of these trillions of dollars and go to each state and find out what each needs, create the organizations for these needs and put our unemployed back to work doing these jobs. History tells us that the rest will take care of itself.

Let's see what will happen. First, these people will now be able to pay their mortgage and that will help the banking system. Next, they will be spending more money, paying more taxes, consuming more goods and using more services. In turn local business will increase at not only retail, but wholesale and manufacturing levels. This will of course create more jobs, goods, services, taxes and we'll all be on our way to a nice inflationary economy again, which we all know at this point, is a much easier problem to deal with! This country was founded and thrives on creativity and development, not cut backs and reduction.

One area we might start with would be to rebuild some of America's bridges before another one falls. I wonder how many of them are still structurally sound or are we just hiding under our desk again. And how about solar energy. Funding in this area for the job force would solve a lot of problems. Did you know that enough energy comes from the sun every day, to run the entire earth for a year. If solar panels were installed on your home, in the daytime your power meter would actually run backwards! At night it would turn the normal way so that over a 24 hour period your power consumption would be basically zero. So far the only thing stopping most people from equipping their homes with solar has been the cost. But, putting people to work in this industry would bring the cost down and also reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Some would be pessimistic and say that a plan like this would take years to reach fruition. I would have to to be optimistic and say that our economy could actually turn on a dime. I saw it happen in Huntsville. Yesterday the Dow Jones Average dropped 777 points. Today the market flourished almost 500 points just at the very thought the House of Representatives "might" pass one simple bill. Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Fear and cutbacks are not the answer. Goal setting, growth, progress, expansion and fresh new ideas and dreams are the paths to monetary happiness for us all. Let's find the things that need to be done, allocate funds to projects that improve our way of life, create positions of employment for these projects and put America back to work.

I'm sure I'll get a lot of comments on this one, and I welcome them all.

© 2008 Jonathan Hopkins - May Be Re-Published But Not Edited

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Tragedy Prevented

Brock had used one time to find out who the owner was of a cell number he had found in his briefcase. It had been scrawled on a napkin and must have been there forever because he had totally forgotten where it came from. After finding out about through a search online, he had found out that the number was from a client that he'd worked with several months prior. After using the website that one time, he had forgotten about it.

Until it was his turn to take the kids to the park. Jesse was a four year old with limitless energy and Laura was a thirteen year old that had just started begging her dad to allow her to wear fingernail polish. Their mother and Brock's wife had a meeting and it was his day to spend time with the kids. In the middle of running around the slide to catch Jesse and keep him from putting a frog on another little girl, Brock had a phone call. It was an important client that couldn't wait, so he told Laura to watch Jesse and he went to the bench to answer the call.

The client was particularly rattled and kept Brock on the phone and distracted longer than he'd planned to be. He rifled through his briefcase to find papers that he could reference for the client in order to explain a point and by the time he got off the phone, half an hour had passed. Of course, he had glanced up at the children, but seeing that they were still there and playing, he hadn't worried.

On the way home, Laura became upset. Brock tried to find out why and was absolutely floored and outraged when he did find out. While he was on the phone, a man had come to the fence on the other side of the park. He had called Laura over and talked to her for a minute. He told her that she was very pretty and that he would like to talk to her more. Laura described the man as 'really old, like Grandpa.' She was extremely upset and said that the man had said she would make a good girlfriend. He had given her a piece of paper with a cell phone number on it and told her to call him.

Brock saw completely red and after dropping the kids off at home, he returned to the park and looked around. Of course, the man was nowhere to be found. Just then, Brock remembered the cell phone number and the website. Speeding home, he went to and entered the number. Although the man had thought he was being smart to give the girl a cell phone number, Brock found his name instantly. Disturbingly, he also found his criminal records and found out he was a convicted sex offender. They immediately called the police, of course, and the man was arrested. Brock couldn't have been more thankful that had stopped this man from harassing or doing worse things to other girls Laura's age. Brock never took another call at the park again, either.

© 2008 Jonathan Hopkins - May Be Re-Published But Not Edited

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tips for Finding Your Pet a Good Home

If you have ever had to face the situation of giving away your pet, you know how traumatic it can be. Many people have to give away their pets due to financial concerns or living arrangements. Or your pet has just recently become a new father or mother, and you have to find each one of their babies a new home! Lots of people place ads in the newspaper or on the internet in order to give away their animals. The trouble is, how do you know if you're giving these animals a good home or not? These ads reach many different people, and some people with bad intentions comb through these ads on purpose to find animals. You really never know if you're putting your four-legged friend in the care of an animal abuser, a dog fighter, or someone with similar issues. No animal lover wants to think of these possibilities.

While you can talk to the person who is interested in taking your animal, you can never really know what kind of person they are. While they may have a friendly face and seem very nice, well…so did Michael Vick. If you're not familiar with him, he is the professional football player who recently was convicted of several counts of animal cruelty for dog fighting, and hanging and drowning injured dogs. There is a way, however, to check a person's background to see if they have ever been convicted of animal abuse.

By visiting a site like and useing the Cellphone Registry, you can simply enter a person's cell phone number and instantly have access to personal information about that person. You don't have to have a lot of personal information to get access to these records. Just by having the contact information for someone, you can tell whether or not you will be sending your pet to a good home. By finding their criminal records, you will know whether or not they have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Then, you will be able to feel safer when you give your beloved pets to these people.

No one wants to have to give their animal up, and no one wants to give kittens or puppies to someone who may mistreat them. Many animals are abused every day, and lead lives of torture, pain, and shame. By checking, you can be sure that your beloved animals never have to lead lives like this. Animals are meant to be loved, cuddled, fed, and played with. When you give away an animal, wouldn't you want to know that this is the fate that awaits them? Animals can't stick up for themselves, so it's up to us to stick up for them. Use the tips on to make sure that your pets are going to a good and loving home.

© 2008 Jonathan Hopkins - May Be Re-Published But Not Edited