Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Acceptance week for college students:What to do right now!

Hello World Family of students about to go to college! NOTE: There was a computer glitch when posting, so none of the paragraphs came out correctly. Sorry about the giant blob:) The information is too important to miss, so I went ahead and posted it anyway. I will correct the problem as soon as I can-thanks, Brothers and Sisters.! This is the week! Many high school students who have applied to college in the standard admission cycle are now about to receive their answer on acceptance to various universities in the U.S. Some important points: Evaluate your acceptance letters (and possibly the accompanying financial aid-merit aid information0 carefully. Sit down and review the literature carefully. Take all costs into account and remember to include meal plan and campus housing costs. If a merit aid scholarship provided by the school includes a scholarship for housing, this is a very good thing. If it doesn't, or you don't know if it does or doesn't, contact your admissions counselor and find out immediately. This is a very important issue. Be ready to pay that matriculation fee in the next 30 days or so. It could be hundreds of dollars, so make sure you set aside some cash to pay it. IT YOU CANNOT AFFORD THE FEE, CONTACT YOUR ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR IMMEDIATELY! There may be money available to cover than expense for a student who intends to attend that given school. Ask, there is no problem with that. Everyone today understands money is tight for everyone. Ask for what you need, and don't be afraid to ask. If you also have a grants-in-aid award (sports award for DI, DII, and NAIA; DIII does NOT award sports grants-in-aid. Please see http://www.ncaa.org/ or http://www.naia.org/.) find out if this is a full, half or amount centered award. Make sure your GPA stays up along with your standardized test scores to ensure that you stay eligible your freshman year for participation. It is also important because many universities have an 'automatic merit money' system that entitles you to scholarships based on getting a certain score on your SAT or ACT along with maintaining your GPA. DO NOT SLACK NOW! Many top schools make your acceptance contingent on continuing to perform well through the end of the year. Don't slip now. ACCEPTED STUDENT VISITS If you can go and visit, Falcon recommends that you do so. Don't visit every school you are accepted to if you visited them for consideration when you applied, but absolutely visit your First Choice school again to ensure that they really are the best match. Every one should be very nice to you on these visits. If they aren't, consider your attendance there. After all, this may well be the best you and your family are ever treated there. If they aren't nice now, what will they become later? You need to know they appreciate your presence. After all, you are going to spend thousands of dollars there. You may spend more money in college that you do on your house. You need to feel that they appreciate your investment and future accolades for that university. If they don't...reconsider your choice. It's about you, not the name of the school or the so-called prestige. If they aren't doing their best for you....next. SEE THE RESIDENCE HOUSING-not just the model. Freshman students often can only stay in certain dormitory housing. See where you are actually going to live. EAT AT THE CAFETERIA-find out how good (or not) the food is now. That may determine what kind of meal plan you choose, if you have a choice. Find out if it carries over from semester to semester or if it expires. Unused meals mean lost money-make sure you know what the circumstances are. BEFORE YOU GO TO VISIT: Make an appointment to see the Career Services department and have a sit-down. Even if you don't know what you major will be, you need to know that this department is as sharp as the academic departments at your chosen school. Education is essential, but if the career services department of your university is weak, it will make it harder for you to get a job. Not good. Schedule a meet with financial aid, especially if you have gaps in your financing. See if they have a little more money for a department scholarship, alumni, etc. that can help you close the gap without loans. LOANS SHOULD BE USED AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE! You will carry that debt forever until you pay it off. Bankruptcy will NOT get rid of it. If a school seems less interested in giving you merit money for your excellent performance in high school and more interested in steering your parents towards a PLUS loan, run for the door! Make sure you tell them why you are running for the door. They may suddenly realize they may have additional areas to tap that reduces your loan liability. Many schools for years had agreement with lenders and did very little to help alleviate that initial funding gap. The rules have changed, the market has changed, and so that behavior must change. It is easier for them if you just get a loan. That is not easier for your life. Knock down that funding gap as much as possible as soon as possible. Don't sign ANYTHING involving loan funding you don't understand. Have it explained and if needed, take it home and have a family discussion or high school guidance counselor discussion before signing your life away. FALCON'S NEW BOOK: I will have a book out in April on this subject as well as trying to attend college debt-free. It can be done. THE PARENTS/STUDENT'S GUIDE TO DEBT FREE COLLEGE: GET IN, STAY IN, GRADUATE DEBT-FREE will hit the streets (and the kindle, iPad, and other electronic device) soon! It will be cheap-less than a week's worth of fancy coffee, so get it! The advice will save you $$$. Continue to do your scholarship applications on sites like fastweb.com Always ask the university if there is something else you can apply to to garner more scholarship money. One more thing... If you didn't get in to the school of your dreams, the dream is not over. You should have applied to several universities-First Choice, Good Match, and Safety. If you didn't, apply to a rolling admission school ASAP. The situation will be fluid so stay on top of things. One school doesn't make your destiny. You are the magic behind the effort. You can do well someplace else. DO NOT GET DOWN ON YOURSELF!!!!! Hear me?! This is Falcon Mommy speaking! You are awesome and have a lot to offer. Take your best game to the place you are meant to be. If it's not your First Choice, so what?! This is not an obstacle, this is a opportunity. Grab it. Peace, Falcon and Dove

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our Statement to Allegheny County Council

Infrastructure Compromise

by Stephanie Simmons

Part of sensible terra-based risk assessment analysis includes the evaluation of the collective geology of a given region, and its existing assets or detriments to a given approach or technology.

In the case of unconventional horizontal acquisition of natural gas in the Marcellus black shale, there is no evidence that real world environmental hazards and their history as well as legacy were included in the assessment. Apparently, nor were migration problems, structural integrity, or transfer and transport incidents. At a 4.5% accident rate, this particular form of gas acquisition has exceeded the mere 1.4% accident rate of coal mining over its entire historic existence. This does not include the number of accidents that may have a gas migration and contamination component. No one wants to think of the implications of that.

Even in the vacuum that was black shale gas acquisition assessment by the industry, risk was labeled as high by those consultants paid to assess this approach: high risk to workers, and even to the shale itself. Supporting documents are included.

An already aging infrastructure in the commonwealth does not lend itself well to a geological approach that would without a doubt advance deterioration of said infrastructure by increasing instability of the sedimentary layer and strata, as well as filling substrate vacated by gas vapors with sand insufficient to support between 7,000 and 10,000 ft of low and high volatile bituminous coal, anthracite, various combinations of soil, limestone, quartz, the presence of Cd, Cs, Pb, Hg, Strontium, radon, methane, aquifers, underground streams, the Wisconsin Glacier and the proverbial partridge in a pear tree.

The process of acquisitioning the natural gas within the shale along a pre-Jurassic fault line releases salts that are highly corrosive and acid pH so low that macroinvertebrates and macrophytes cannot thrive in it. Soil pH is impacted as well, creating a highly undesirable environment for any infrastructure that touches air, soil, and water in this region.

To exacerbate this already critical element, water treatment plants have been changing their preferred method of treatment away from chlorine to other water purifiers that are more stable, but high acid themselves. This is due to the presence of bromides that come hand in hand with this development. Some forms of treatment already in use in Allegheny County will dissolve rubber, leech old sediment, heavy metals including lead, and other hazards out of aging pipes and directly into businesses and households. Remediation equipment is cost prohibitive per household in a county with the largest population of elders on fixed income in the nation, whose remaining population (thanks to legacy pollution) is living on average 10.34 years less than our comparable neighbors.

For infrastructure in our region, this is the Perfect Storm of stupid, as threats come from every angle originating from a single source-a pebble drop called black shale natural gas acquisition that has concentric circles of impact so profound that it will impact the infrastructure of every community. The endocrine disrupting chemicals used by the dozens in this industry also have an impact as they combine further with legacy challenges like AMD and now the 21st century xenobiotics.

This industry evaluated its turn of the 20th century technology that was abandoned long ago by those thinking it was too dangerous and resurrected it for profit based on short sightedness and flawed science whose shabbiness will lead us to a domino effect incidence-one that will put first responders, 80% of whom are volunteers in this commonwealth in harm's way without proper equipment, training, compensation, or reimbursement.

Water is our sacred currency. We cannot survive without it, and WE are the infrastructure than cannot be replaced.