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• RASPBERRIES to the weather early Wednesday morning, when clouds obscured the mid-valley's view of the total lunar eclipse. Judging from photos we saw from areas with less cloud cover, it was a memorable sight. 

Of course, you had to get up early to see it — some sources suggested that the best time to see the eclipse around these parts was 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. The smart money stayed in bed, thinking (correctly) that clouds had covered the sky.

If you were an optimist, though, you might have thought something like, "Well, we were able to see the super moon the previous evening, so maybe the lunar eclipse is visible now." 

Those hopes, of course, were dashed. But we have a soft spot for the optimists, which is a way of saying that, yes, we climbed out of bed early on Wednesday morning, zipped outside, peered into the skies and saw ... clouds.

• ROSES to the return of the city of Corvallis' neighborhood empowerment grants.

As you might recall, these are grants, typically ranging from $500 to $1,000, designed to help neighborhood groups tackle projects that just need a little bit of a financial boost to get off the ground. Last year, for example, grants went to help pay for a work party to trim invasive blackberry bushes in southwest Corvallis; to help pay for a series of neighborhood events in the Tunison neighborhood; and to help create a street mural at the intersection of 11th Street and Taylor Avenue. 

This year's funding cycle has just opened, and the city is soliciting grant proposals. This is a competitive process, and so neighbors must be willing to match funding through cash, in-kind donations or volunteer hours. Applications are reviewed by the Community Involvement and Diversity Advisory Board, and selected grants are awarded by the City Council.

If you need more information, check out this website:

If city government has a more effective tool to help pull neighborhoods together, we haven't heard about it. It's good to see these grants return for another round.

• RASPBERRIES to crowded schedules that force residents to skip events they might otherwise attend. Last Saturday night in Corvallis, for example, you could have attended "The Pianist of Willesden Lane" at Oregon State University. You could have checked out Portland cellist Gideon Freudmann performing at the Majestic Theatre. Just a few blocks away, you could have tried your luck with really hard words at the Sip & Spell spelling bee for adults sponsored by the Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. Or you could have attended the annual cabaret fundraiser for the Corvallis Youth Symphony Association.

But you would have had a hard time attending all four of those events, seeing how they were held pretty much at the same time. We hear through the grapevine that these events still drew good crowds (and, of course, we witnessed firsthand a good-sized crowd at the bee), but we have to think that people had to make some tough choices about which event to attend.

We understand that this town has only so many good dates for events. And we also understand that some decisions are out of the hands of schedulers (if you rely on outside talent, you work with their dates). Still, it would be a worthwhile exercise to see if we can spread out this embarrassment of riches.

• RASPBERRIES, yet again, to scam artists. Judging by the last few entries in the Gazette-Times' Police Log column, we're in the middle of a busy time for these scams, so this would be a good time to review some of what we've learned over the last weeks.

First, the IRS will not ask you to pay a debt you didn't know about until you got a phone call in the form of iTunes cards — unless we missed that revision in the recently passed tax reform bill. In fact, no government or law enforcement agency will ask you to run to Walmart or Target to pick up some cash cards. At that point, understand that you're being scammed and hang up.

And that Facebook friend you just met a few minutes ago, the one who seems so nice? It's a bad idea to send your new "friend" naked pictures of yourself. The next message you get from your "friend" will be a shakedown threat: Pay up or the "friend" will post those pictures all over social media. You don't need friends like these.  

Confidential ROSES to the Academy for Lifelong Learning. You members of the academy know why. (mm)


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