Archive for September, 2008

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ABC News Tackles Tough Subject of S.A.T. Prep and “Extended Time” Options for Students with Special Needs Accomodations

Monday, September 22, 2008

Here in the Dulles Technology Corridor, students and parents are buzzing about what they just heard on the news. Hear what ABC News has to say about students in the DC Metro Area with regard to standardized achievement tests like the S.A.T. exam.

Discussing students with learning disabilities requesting extra time through legal channels, they work to build a case both for and against special accommodations for extended time. Do the needs of special education students weigh out the rights of many to “fairness” of measurement on the exams? Definately, ABC News has hit on a hot topic of debate in the education field as well as opened a can of worms for colleges across the world. The issue of extended time on exams may become the 21st century educational debate equivalent to debates about Affirmative Action and Title IX of the 20th century.

Visit www.tri-edtutoring.com for information on how to prepare for timed test success on the S.A.T. the old fashioned way — by studying with a trained and qualified tutor and practicing regularly throughout the school year and summer to improve your score and speed.

Oddly enough, the debate could be solved if the Educational Testing System “ETS” was allowed to disclose which exams were taken timed and which were not–and could potentially overcome legal obstacles regarding disclosure if all students were offered the option of registering for an untimed disclosed version of the test.

What are your thoughts in the Dulles Technology Corridor? Would Loudoun and Fairfax County students benefit from untimed tests? Even better, how much would or could steady practice and study of the test format throughout the year help to improve those test scores those extra two to three hundred points, and will a score alone make the difference in which college accepts a student to a private or Ivy League school? [Our thoughts are no–you must have good grades, a high exam score, extra curricular activities, be able to write at a college level, and have excellent manners and character references these days, too.]

Just something to think about and discuss with your college-bound teenage student over dinner and after the homework and extra-curricular studies are through.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO CLIP FROM ABC NEWS ABOUT THE S.A.T. AND DECIDE WHAT YOU THINK


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Brambleton Yard Sale Community Reminder for Ashburn, Sterling, Leesburg, Dulles, and South Riding Residents

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brambleton Yard Sale – RESIDENTS AND NEIGHBOR REMINDERS: Brambleton Fall Community Yard sale is scheduled for Saturday September 20, 2008 from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM (rain or shine).  For a list of home sites that have registered, please click here.  Residents will also be at the Community Center Marketplace selling various toys, household and miscellaneous items from the Visitor Center Parking area. Bring cash, bring checks, bring the pickup truck or SUV. Brambleton Yard and Garage Rummage Sales are legendary for offering local Loudoun County residents fantastic buys and wonderful items.

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CNN Money article talks about the housing market, Wall Street, and the AIG Insurance Bailout: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wall Street crisis has been caused by plunging housing prices. So despite the billions of dollars being thrown at the problem, experts say more trouble lies ahead.

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The nation’s financial system is in the midst of a massive shakeup and many on Wall Street and in Washington are pointing fingers and looking for someone to blame.

But in the end, it all comes back to one issue – housing.

Earlier this decade, it was much easier to get a mortgage. Home prices soared about 85% from 1996 through 2006in inflation-adjusted dollars, creating a bubble.

Then the bubble popped. And the fallout isn’t over yet, experts say.

In the past two weeks, the government took over Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500), Lehman Brothers (LEH, Fortune 500) filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) sold itself to Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500).

If all that weren’t enough, the Federal Reserve announced late Tuesday night that it was loaning $85 billion to insurer American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500).

None of this would have happened if the housing market had not imploded, leaving all these firms with staggering losses from their investments tied to mortgages.

“These institutions, which weathered all kinds of calamities before, including depressions, are being knocked out,” said Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. “It’s a testament to the significance of the problem we have here.”

Thus, experts agree that there are likely to be future shocks to the financial system until the housing market finally hits bottom.

Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the administration’s point man in the many rescue discussions of the past month, admits this.

“The housing correction poses the biggest risk to our economy,” Paulson said the day he announced the Fannie and Freddie seizure. “Our economy and our markets will not recover until the bulk of this housing correction is behind us.”

The problem of falling home prices

But because of the depth of the housing problems, it may take a long time before real estate prices head higher again. Here’s why.

Home prices, while sharply off from the 2006 peaks, are still high in comparison to long-term gains in income, rents or overall prices, suggesting that they still have a way to fall, according to experts.

The reason housing is wreaking havoc even on insurers like AIG and big investment banks, who do not make mortgage loans, is that during the boom, trillions of dollars of mortgages were packaged together into securities that promised to pay investors with the proceeds of those loan payments.

Those securities paid better rates than other types of assets during the boom years. So many investors from around the globe poured as much money as they could into those securities.

Faced with this demand, lenders starting making more loans to riskier borrowers, including people who might not be able to afford their mortgage payments in the future and even many with no proof of income.

When prices were rising, this wasn’t a problem. The risk of loan foreclosure or default was limited because many homeowners were able to sell their house for more than they owed and make a profit.

But once prices topped out and began falling, loan defaults and foreclosures started shooting higher as homeowners found it more difficult to sell their house. This created problems not just for subprime borrowers but even for those with good credit and income.

When foreclosures rose, the value of the various types of securities tied to mortgages started to fall, causing huge losses up and down Wall Street. It also made banks less eager to extend credit because of the risks involved.

A downward spiral

This credit crunch in of itself slowed the economy, leading to job losses and more defaults, feeding a downward spiral that has been difficult to stop.

“A really bad situation — a home price bubble bursting — was made significantly worse when the recession began,” said Achuthan. “Now we have to let this thing play out.”

Some experts even argue that the steps being taken to rescue firms like AIG could make a recovery in housing and the broader economy more difficult, as financial firms and investors become more reluctant to lend money.

“We are certainly taking credit and squeezing it tighter and tighter,” said Kevin Giddis, managing director of investment bank Morgan Keegan. “Housing needs buyers. Buyers need credit.”

Achuthan said that even though rates for mortgages and other types of loans have fallen in the last two weeks, those loans are becoming more difficult for many consumers and businesses to get because banks are severely tightening their lending standards.

And if housing prices do fall further, that will only cause more losses in the financial sector and perhaps more failures of banks, insurers and securities firms.

“I would hesitate to say the worst is behind us,” Achuthan said.

So even with perhaps hundreds of billions of tax dollars going to AIG, Fannie and Freddie, one expert said the only real solution to the housing problem is for the correction in housing to finish running its course.

“We want home prices to return to normal,” said Barry Ritholtz, CEO of Fusion IQ and author of the upcoming book “Bailout Nation.”

“Until that happens, you can throw as much money at the market as you want at the situation….and it ain’t going to make any difference,” Ritholtz said. To top of page

Find this article at:
http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/17/news/economy/housing/index.htm?postversion=2008091715

Click Here to Print

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Dulles Families know the Red Cross is helping care for TEXAS residents and visitors trapped by Hurricane IKE–and Tech Savvy Americans are encouraged to help by sending Internet and Text Message DONATIONS and funds to offer RELIEF

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Red Cross Provides Shelter as Hurricane Ike Hits Land

by Mary Etta Boesl excerpt article and photograph from www.redcross.org

Saturday, September 13, 2008 — American Red Cross staff are providing shelter, food and emotional support for thousands affected by Hurricane Ike.

Raymond McGee, age 13, helps Red Cross volunteers serve lunch at the San Antonio, Texas, shelter in which he and his family are staying.  Photos by Dennis Drenner for the American Red Cross.
Raymond McGee, age 13, helps Red Cross volunteers serve lunch at the San Antonio, Texas, shelter in which he and his family are staying. Photos by Dennis Drenner for the American Red Cross.

Last night, as Hurricane Ike came ashore, the Red Cross sheltered more than 20,000 people across four states. More than 2,500 Red Crossers offered comfort and hope—making sure plenty of cots, blankets, toiletries, smiles and hugs were on hand for storm-weary Gulf Coast residents.

Over 120 Red Cross mobile feed trucks are poised to assist in the delivery of food, water and bulk supplies to people returning to their homes. When Ike has passed and it is safe to enter the affected areas, more than 25 kitchens, capable of feeding up to 500,000 meals a day, are ready to be put in place. In addition to freshly prepared food, the Red Cross has over one million shelf stable meals ready for distribution.

Although search and rescue is a mission for Federal, state and local governments, the Red Cross is ready to accept those rescued into evacuation shelters. The Red Cross has also moved blood products into Northern Texas to address possible medical needs resulting from the catastrophic storm.

[If you are in Texas,] don’t let your loved ones worry about your safety. Tell them you are safe by registering on the Safe and Well Web site, accessible at www.redcross.org. The Web site allows those directly affected by a disaster to let family and friends know of their well-being. For those without internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register. Follow the prompts for disaster information.

As the Red Cross continues helping individuals and families battered by the 2008 storms and hurricanes, the organization launched a national fundraising campaign to raise an initial $100 million to fill a Disaster Relief Fund depleted by an active year of disasters. The Disaster Relief Fund allows the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to help victims of disasters meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, counseling and other critical services.

To make a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, log-on to www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging they keyword “GIVE” to “2HELP” (24357). You can send multiple donations depending on your carrier. Contributions will appear on monthly bills or be debited from a pre-paid account balance. All applicable text rates apply.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

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Time Savers from RealSimple.com help Dulles Technology Corridor Residents Manage Life Easier On the Homefront Clock

Saturday, September 13, 2008
All article details and photos excerpted from June/July 2004 www.realsimple.com

For a subscription to Real Simple magazine please call 1-800-881-1172 or go to www.realsimple.com/subscriptions

20 Timesaving Tips and Tricks

The best timesaving systems come from the people who need them most. Here, a celebration of streamlining tips from (and for) busy women [and men living in Virginia, DC, Maryland, and Metropolitan areas] everywhere…

Cut Kitchen Clutter
Meredith Heuer
Cut Kitchen Clutter

We have a special spot on the kitchen counter where everyone can put half-filled coffee mugs that need to be reheated, water glasses to be used again later, or sippy cups that can be refilled. At the end of the day, everything that’s still out goes in the dishwasher. It cuts down on kitchen clutter, and it also avoids shouts across the house of “Are you done with that coffee yet?”

  • Katherine Weber, 33, New York City
  • Presort the Family Laundry
    Michele Gastl
    Presort the Family Laundry

    Clean laundry is only half the battle — it still needs to be sorted and put away. Save those steps by keeping washer-and-dryer-safe mesh bags (27-by-36-inch mesh bag, $8, www.stacksandstacks.com) in each kid’s room — one for lights, one for darks. Throw the bags directly into the washing machine and dryer, then hand them back to the kids. If they’re old enough, they can do their own folding.

    Minimizing Trips to the Garbage
    Meredith Heuer
    Minimizing Trips to the Garbage

    While I’m preparing a meal, I have a big bowl on the counter. I put all my chopping, cutting, and peeling discards into it, then make one trip to the garbage instead of 10.

  • Lori Tanner, 43, Oakland
  • Quick Breakfast Smoothie
    Meredith Heuer
    Quick Breakfast Smoothie

    Put all your fruit, milk, silken tofu, or yogurt in the blender pitcher and store the pitcher in the refrigerator overnight. (You can even prechop a banana. It will brown, but that will not affect the flavor of the shake.) In the morning, set it on the blender and press a button for breakfast.

    Put the Kids to Work
    Deborah Jaffe
    Put the Kids to Work

    After too many years of hearing “What’s for dinner?” and “That again?” I finally decided to turn over the role of meal planner and cook to my family of seven (two adults, including me, and five children, ages 4 through 20). Now, every Saturday morning, each person (excluding the four-year-old) chooses a night that suits his or her schedule, fills in a dinner menu, and adds the needed ingredients to the grocery list.

    The rules are simple: a different menu every night, and only one pasta dish per week. Everyone’s food issues (allergies, picky taste buds) must be addressed. Every menu must be healthy and include vegetables. I retain the title of shopper. The kids have become quite adept at planning menus. And since there is also dish-duty sign-up, I have become quite adept at relaxing on weeknights.

  • Jeanne Faulkner, 43, Portland, Oregon
  • Make Sandwiches for Dinner
    Pernille Pedersen
    Make Sandwiches for Dinner

    When in doubt, whip up a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for dinner to save time. Make it with natural peanut butter, real fruit jam, and whole-grain bread. That way it’s “real” food, unlike many of the additive-laden prepackaged meals so widely available now.

  • Kristen Bulkley, 29, Lake Peekskill, New York
  • Keep an Everything Datebook
    Meredith Heuer
    Keep an Everything Datebook

    Every August, I buy a weekly calendar. I jot down all the traditional things — school events, birthdays, appointments. But I also use it to keep track of nontraditional things. I write down bills that come through the mail and mark their due dates six days ahead. I’ll plan up to four dinners a week and write them on the calendar. I also use my calendar to record my daughter’s long-term assignments. That helps prevent those evenings of racing around to do everything at the last second.

  • Cindy Olson, 36, Guilderland, New York
  • Never Miss Another Birthday
    James Baigrie
    Never Miss Another Birthday

    Send out birthday cards once a month. Receiving one a little early is better than not receiving one at all.

    Keep a Paper Shredder Handy
    Ellen Silverman
    Keep a Paper Shredder Handy

    Stow a small paper shredder near the mail to destroy credit-card offers and “checks.” (InnoDesk hand-held shredder, $16, www.amazon.com).

    Try a Double-Duty Dustbin
    Monica Buck
    Try a Double-Duty Dustbin

    I empty my rectangular plastic bathroom garbage can and use it as a bucket when I wash my bathroom and hardwood floors. I rinse it in the tub, then fill it with white vinegar and water. Both the floors and the garbage can are clean when I’m done.

  • Marci Small, 34, Metuchen, New Jersey
  • Start a Recipe Chain Letter
    Keate Barker
    Start a Recipe Chain Letter

    I love to cook, but planning menus and getting the ingredients together for a quick meal after work can be time-consuming. That’s where my recipe-exchange “chain letter” comes in. It’s made up of a group of friends who forward their favorite easy-to-make recipes to one another via e-mail. Since we all know one another’s tastes and cooking ability, the recipes are simple enough for everyone.

    I also keep a few cookbooks at the office and download recipes from the Internet to a folder on the computer. I can photocopy or print out the ingredients list while at work and then buy groceries during lunch or on the way home.

  • Katherine Fausset, 29, New York City
  • Squeeze Citrus Juice Now, Use Later
    Meredith Heuer
    Squeeze Citrus Juice Now, Use Later

    If you have leftover lemons and limes from a cocktail party, squeeze them and freeze the juice in an ice-cube tray. Once they’re frozen, store the cubes in zippered plastic bags and use them for recipes that call for fresh lemon or lime juice. (One cube equals about one tablespoon of juice.)

    Use Lists to Stay Organized
    David Prince
    Use Lists to Stay Organized
    Keep a Shopping List

    Whoever unwraps the last bar of soap from the four-pack or scrapes the last spoonful of mayo out of the jar should be responsible for writing it down on the shopping list.

    Write Realistic To-Do Lists

    Each night I write down no more than five things I want to accomplish the next day. This takes discipline, because it seems like I should be able to do so much more, but I know myself and how I work. And I know that I’ll be fielding phone calls and e-mails all day long. It’s psychological: If I get five out of 10 things done, I just get frustrated. But if I get five out of five, I’m batting a thousand.

  • Tera Leigh, 39, Wrightwood, California
  • Time-Stamp Your Photos
    Monica Buck
    Time-Stamp Your Photos

    Edit and label your images as you go (and sometimes, before you leave the photo counter)
    When you get your photographs developed, label the envelopes before leaving the store. On the top of the envelope, jot down the date, subjects, or activity. It’s easier than trying to remember the details later. Or take it one step further and throw out — right there in the store — any flattering, uninteresting, or unclear photographs.

    Getting Ready for Morning the Night Before
    Formula Z/S
    Getting Ready for Morning the Night Before

    My husband, Steve, sets up his breakfast cereal before he goes to bed. He measures out water and kasha next to the stove so when he wakes up, all he has to do is dump the ingredients into the pot and light the flame. Even though it doesn’t take long to set up, it’s still one less thing he has to think about at 5:30, when he’s getting ready to leave the house.

  • Erika Bleiberg, 44, Glen Ridge, New Jersey
  • Create a Beauty Station
    Bob Hiemstra
    Create a Beauty Station

    I have two daughters — one teen and one preteen — so it’s a great benefit to have a mirror by the door, along with a basket filled with last-minute primping tools. No one has to run all over the house looking for brushes, barrettes, sunscreen, hand lotion, or various makeup essentials: It’s all in the basket. There’s even a blow dryer, so no one leaves the house with a wet head.

  • Stefanie Sigal, 43, Oakton, Virginia
  • Keep a Checklist in Every Bag
    Ellen Silverman
    Keep a Checklist in Every Bag

    Write a contents checklist in your pocketbook, dopp kit, or diaper bag. Then you won’t wonder if you have everything you need. Bib? Check. Diapers? Check. Pacifier? Check…. (Sally Spicer Red Dragonfly Diaper Bag, $99, www.diaperbags.com.)

    Start a Day-By-Day Shelf System
    Maura McEvoy
    Start a Day-By-Day Shelf System

    As a personal fitness trainer, I have to leave the house at 5:30 A.M. to make my early-morning appointments. To get out the door more quickly, I have dedicated certain parts of my shelves to specific days of the week.

    When I remove things from my backpack at night, I place each item on the appropriate shelf. If I won’t be seeing Monday’s client again until Thursday, her chart and equipment are placed in Thursday’s section. My wallet, transit card, and cell phone have a designated spot. I even have a “take care of me” bag, which contains sample-size cosmetics — like hand lotion — that I can apply during downtime or on the morning train.

  • Michelle Adams, 46, Rahway, New Jersey
  • Organize Your Future Hand-Me-Downs
    Meredith Heuer
    Organize Your Future Hand-Me-Downs

    I keep a “future bin” in each of my three boys’ closets for hand-me-downs and clothing I purchased on clearance in larger sizes. I purge their closets about once a season, when they are at school or napping. Anything I remove goes to one of three places: the younger brother’s future bin; the charity bin, which is in my closet; or the trash.

    Many charities, such as Goodwill, call quarterly to let us know they will have a truck in the area, so I don’t have to load my car and make an extra trip. When they call, I leave the bin out front for pickup, and they hang the receipt (for tax purposes) on my doorknob. This is also a good time to get rid of any toys that the kids have outgrown.

  • Gina Scherer, 35, Tucson
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    Voter Registration and Elections in Loudoun County

    Monday, September 1, 2008

    Voter Registration and Elections Information excerpted from

    www.loudoun.gov

    • Information about voting in the November 4, 2008, election is online. Details…

    • A fact sheet about the proposed food and beverage tax is online. More…

    • The text of each local question on the November 4, 2008, ballot is online. Details…

    image of voting logo

    General Voting Information

    All Loudoun County residents ages 18 and older are eligible to vote in county elections. Voters must first register with the General Registrar’s office, which offers year-round voter registration for general, primary, and special elections in conjunction with various public service agencies, military recruitment offices and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  Note: The deadline to register to vote in the November 2008 election was October 6, 2008.

    You can verify your voter registration status online: