Wednesday, August 27, 2008

High School Reunion, Birthday, start of new semester at WVU, etc.

WVU is back in session and I'm teaching again on Tuesday nights.  So far so good, but I already have to cancel a class because my friend Marisa from Spain is coming to visit that day with her husband, Frank.  They'll be in WV Aug. 31-Sept 3.  I guess they are staying in Kingwood 2 nights and then visiting here one night. [Marisa was an exchange student during my junior year.]

She wants me to go with her to Preston High on the 2nd to take a look around.  At first I wasn't really into the idea, but last weekend was my 15 year high school reunion and it was really nice.  I was really happy to see everyone again and touch base.  There were some things that could have been better (music was too loud and the food was pretty bad - except the cake which was awesome!), but those things weren't controllable by the people behind the planning.

We were out far later than I have been out in years (reunion and then an after party til 2:30 a.m.)- which made me feel kinda lame ... and old.  BUT it was a lotta fun and I hope I can stay in better touch with everyone.

Monday (Aug 25) was my birthday and it was nice.  I just went to work as usual, but it was cool to get notes all day from Facebook telling me people were writing on my wall to wish me a Happy Birthday.  I know that is old hat for folks who have been using FB for a long time, but it was just a nice gesture. So I appreciate it y'all!

That evening I invited a bunch of people to Hibachi for what seems to be an annual event now.  It was fun as usual to watch the performances and hang out with everyone.  Amber and Travis brought Amelia and I know Kira was thrilled to hang out with her.  They had fun trying to eat with chopsticks.  They sctually did pretty good!  They were both scared by the fire, though.  Oops!

These next few weeks are busy.  Marisa's visit, anniversary, Kira's Birthday (Sept. 16), 2 online classes, keeping on top of the class I am teaching, web projects (thingsgoneby.com redesign going live- sometime, reenactorpost.com, redesign and conversion of spooners.com to new shopping cart, arthurdale.org needs to be redesigned), work projects (WV Higher Education Technology Conference - on the planning committee and presenting, blog.oit.wvu.edu, convert oit.wvu.edu to a CMS run by WPMU...and a bunch more).  Sometimes I wonder how/if I can stay sane.

So anyway...that's all for now.  I need to get ready to head to the dentist.  :|

Thursday, August 14, 2008

YouTube - 3D morphable model face animation

Steve suggested I check this out today. It's really neat! The implications are also kinda scary, but it's fascinating.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Government Asks Public for Views on Charity Student-Loan Forgiveness Rules

I guess the College Cost Reduction and Access Act finally took effect on July 1 and it offers people in public service a way out of the nightmare of student loans - finally.  It's not perfect, but it is definitely a start.  One thing that has not been clear, however, is what constitutes "public service."  I've been scouring these articles about the law for months and it is not clear if this applies to, say, web developers at state land-grant institutions. 

So it was of interest to me to see this pop up in my daily Google Alert about this topic:
August 05, 2008
Government Asks Public for Views on Charity Student-Loan Forgiveness Rules

The U.S. Education Department is seeking comments by August 15 on proposed regulations to carry out a new law that would forgive the student-loan balances of some charity workers.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, H.R. 2669, allows people to erase their loan balances after making 120 payments if they been a full-time "public service employee" during that time. The benefit would apply only to payments made after October 1, 2007.

The Education Department is proposing (pdf) language to define which organizations qualify as "public service" employers.

It suggests the term apply to government agencies, tribal colleges, nonprofit groups that qualify as charities under 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and private groups that don't qualify for that tax designation but that provide specific public services such as child care, help for older people and people with disabilities, legal services, education, and public safety.

The draft regulations also define "full time" to mean working an annual average of 30 hours per week, an average of 30 hours per week during a contractual period of at least eight months (designed to cover teachers), or the number of hours that the employer considers full time.

The department proposes that people who hold full-time AmeriCorps jobs qualify for the benefit, and that any money that they use from their AmeriCorps education awards to pay off student loans count when calculating the 120-payment minimum.

— Suzanne Perry (philanthropy.com)
Also over the weekend I read an article on StreetInsider.com that detailed some of the other specifics about the new law. 
Borrowers who enter public-service fields such as law enforcement, public education, or certain nonprofit work could have their remaining federal student loan debt forgiven, provided they work full-time for 10 years in an eligible public-service field and make 120 monthly payments on their college loans during that time....
I think thispart of the law sucks though and seems completely pointless:
Borrowers will only be able to count payments made on their federal Direct student loans after October 1, 2007, toward the 120-payment requirement. FFELP borrowers who consolidate their FFELP college loans into a federal Direct Consolidation Loan will only be able to count the payments they make on their Direct Consolidation Loan toward their payment requirement. Any payments made prior to October 1, 2007, or to any lender other than the federal government won't count.
WHY??  Why should it count against you if you've BEEN paying the loans all these years.  I haven't, but if I had been, I'd be even more pissed.    If they really want to make a difference, why wait 10 years from now to make it.  Christ.  Maybe with a different administration this can be reexamined. 

When I finally do start paying these back they are are going to have to work with me though on a payment plan that does work.  As it is, they're asking for something like 800+ a month, which is completely un-doable for me.  They're asking Steve for something like $900+/month.  Yeah right, that'll happen.